Day of the Devastator, By Smash


5:00 AM
New Castle Koopa

Blackness covers Darkland.  The nightlife of Plit has come out, yet no one is able to see it.  It is completely dark except for a muted glow over the eastern horizon.  Suddenly, a shaft of light appears, sending rats and goombas scurrying for cover, signaling the start of a new day on Plit.
It also reveals a strange scene.  Two cloaked and hooded figures move toward the immense structure known as New Castle Koopa.  The instant they step onto the bridge over the moat, the two drowsy Sledge Brothers on guard come alert again.
“HALT!” they bellow in unison.
The figure on the right steps forward.  It holds out a hand and the Sledge Brothers are slammed against the wall with invisible hands around their necks, arms, and legs.  The figure gestures again and they are both hurtled into the moat.
They reach the inside.  When they enter in, they pass through a sensor net designed to identify any intruder.  However, before the computer can analyze them, the figure on the left whirls and presses a hand into one of the sensor emitters.  A surge of electricity feeds back to the main computer, fusing all its circuits and disabling the alarm system.
They then enter into the main hall.  It is deserted.  Seeing this, the two figures move to the center of the hall and settle down to wait.

Part 1:  The Gathering

Chapter 1

Roy Koopa woke up at 6:00 AM on that particular morning.  After smashing his alarm clock into thousands of pieces, he irritably stomped downstairs.  A strange sight greeted his eyes.  What seemed like a brown hill was in the center of the main hall.  Looking closer, he realized that it was really two hills.  And they were moving ever so slightly, showing that they were breathing.  Being the violent Koopa that he is, Roy launched himself at them.
However, the instant before contact, their heads snapped up.  Moving at what seemed an impossible speed, the one on the right leaped and rolled out of the way.  The one of the left leaped as well, but it was straight up.  Roy flew under it, crashed, and skidded ingloriously to the far wall.  He picked himself up and charged again.
This time the figure stayed where it was.  When Roy was too close to change course, it shot out a hand and grabbed Roy’s wrist.  Hitting two pressure points and forcing Roy’s claw open, it used Roy’s own momentum against him, guiding him straight to the floor.
K-E-E-R-R-R-A-S-H!  Roy’s head slammed into the ground.
A loud crashing woke Kamek up in his dungeon/laboratory.  He was sleeping in a chair in front of his lab table.  The crash was repeated many times.  Kamek hurried over to the stairs, stopping next to a bed, which held his girlfriend Celeste, whom the crash had also woken up.
“Wha…what’s that?” she yawned.
“I’m going to find out,” Kamek told her tenderly.  “Go back to sleep.”
As Celeste turned over and fell asleep again, Kamek cautiously made his way up the stairs.  He arrived to see the cloaked figure smash a hand into Roy’s forehead right between the eyes, stunning him.  Kamek, acting on instinct, began casting a spell to knock out the figure, but he had no more than begun when he felt a hand on his shoulder.  Kamek’s spell dissipated like smoke on the wind.  Kamek turned and gasped as he saw the second figure grasping his shoulder in a grip that was gentle as a feather, but as hard to break as iron.
Kamek turned back toward the center of the room just in time to see the defeat of Roy.  Still dazed, he was stumbling around in circles, propelled by the figure in the center, whom had two hands fastened around Roy’s wrist.  No, wait!  Kamek did a double take.  Those weren’t hands.  They were…
Kamek’s line of thought was cut short by a string of colorful curses coming from Roy.  The figure had just let go, propelling Roy towards a window.  He tripped over the low sill and fell out.  His curses slowly faded until there was a distant splash as he fell into the moat.
Kamek turned back to the figure.  He was right.  Those weren’t hands.  They were claws.  Looking higher, he saw that it had removed its hood.  Under it was the most beautiful Koopa he had ever seen.  She shook her head and her long red hair cascaded down her shoulders.
Kamek looked at the figure restraining him.  It had also removed its hood.  In its place was a face Kamek hadn’t seen in a long time.  It had changed, but the expression of suppressed amusement and the brilliant blue eyes gave him away.
“Smash?” Kamek gasped.
The answer came, “The one and only.”

Chapter 2

Karma Koopa awoke at 6:30 that morning.  She washed her face and headed downstairs for breakfast.  She sincerely hoped that Roy was not awake yet.  It was hard enough to get around New Castle Koopa without his continual jibes and insults.
When she got to the kitchen, a strange sight greeted her eyes.  In the kitchen were four people.  She recognized Kamek and Celeste, but the other two she had never seen.  Kamek and Celeste had their backs to her, so they didn’t see her.  However, the human across from Kamek did.
“What ho fair maiden!  Come!  Be seated so that thou may sip from the cup of life!”
The Koopa beside elbowed him in the ribs.  “Insatiable flirt,” she scolded him.  Then she turned to Karma.  “Please.  Sit down.”
Karma slowly sat down.  She was nervous, but it appeared that the two were not here for an evil purpose.
Ludwig Von Koopa woke up at 6:30 that morning as well.  He was asleep at his experiment table, after having collapsed there last night.  The vial he was working on was now a sickly yellow.  Sighing at yet another failed experiment, he spent the next half hour cleaning it up.  He then went downstairs.
At the table were Karma, Kamek, Celeste, and two people in brown robes.  Kamek turned and spotted him.  “Hi Ludwig!  Come, sit down!”
Ludwig sat.  It wasn’t three minutes before he was engrossed in animated conversation with those already at the table.  After a few minutes, Smash suddenly got very serious.  “Okay, this was all very fun, but I came for a very important reason.”
Everyone stared at him.  He took a deep breath and began.  “It has happened.  I did not tell anyone not even you, Gillian,” he glanced apologetically at his Spirit Twine,  “but I now have no choice.  Karma, Ludwig, Kamek, Celeste, Gillian… I need you to help me save the world.”

Chapter 3

“What?!” Bowser demanded, “You mean to say you want to take one-seventh of my forces, as well as the most powerful magician in the kingdom?  Do you know how that will affect my latest campaign against Mario?”
Smash sighed and tried futilely to explain again.  “Look.  An ancient prophecy states that a group of six will be the world’s only hope.  I have every reason to believe that your ‘magician’ and your son are two.  And for the others, it should be pretty obvious.
“In an ordinary situation, I would just retreat to my homeland and defend it.  There it enough magic woven into it to keep it free from evil for my lifetime, as well as my descendant’s lifetimes for several generations.  But this states that I will be part of the planet’s only hope, and therefore, I must go and try to stop it.”
“Over and over, you’ve spoken of a prophecy,” Bowser sneered, “Well, then you wouldn’t mind telling me what it is, would you?”
Smash scowled back at Bowser.  “Very well then.  I’ll tell you.”  He closed his eyes and began to recite.  While he was speaking, the chosen six felt a strange power come over them.

“When Death comes to raid the land of life,
Only six can rid the land of Strife.
Guardian of alignment Gray,
Husband to who would rather stay.
Sorcerer of Kupi Lord,
Friend to his Enemy, adored.
The thinker, intelligent, and lo!
Breed of Family and Foe.
These six must go, e’er away,
Or they will wish they did not stay!”

“Doggerel and foolish thinking!” Bowser roared. “Why I ought to…”
“Bowser,” came the quiet, calm tones of Kamek. Bowser stopped cold in his tirade.  “I am going with Smash, whether you like it or not.  I have heard this prophesy spoken before, but I have never understood it.  I do now.  I remember that Koopas were evolved from Kupi, until the mutation that created DAD.  And I am the only Sorcerer in your employ now.”
Bowser seemed taken aback by the turning of his most loyal underling.  But it would continue.  “Father,” Ludwig spoke, “I’m going as well.  I may not be specifically defined, but I am the thinker of the family.”
“And I,” Karma stated.  “I am from the breed of family and foe.  Namely, Koopa and Yoshi.”
Celeste merely said, “Kamek is friend to his enemy.  Me, cousin to Princess Toadstool.”
Bowser seemed shocked at the seeming betrayal.  “What?  How could abandon me like this?”  He whirled on Smash.  “You did this to them!”
“Nay, I did not.  The prophecy is created so any of the people it talks about that hear it must go.  Convenient, isn’t it?”
Smash, Gillian, and the other four walked out of the room, leaving a flabbergasted Bowser behind.  A few minutes after they were gone, Bowser snarled and stalked after them.

Chapter 4

“You don’t want to bring anything else?”  Smash gazed in wonder at the tiny parcel Karma was carrying.
“Well, I’m sure Ludwig will make up for it.” Karma chuckled as Ludwig stumbled around the corner, lugging a huge bag filled to the brim with test tubes.
Smash stared again.  “Well,” he said, “I’m ready.  Let’s go.”  They made their way to the front of the castle where Kamek and Celeste were waiting for them.
“Nothing?” Smash asked.
“No,” Kamek said.  “Bowser never did anything for me in the first place, never gave me anything, and never even gave me a laboratory.  I have nothing to take, except this.” He held up his wand.
“Very well, then,” Smash sighed. “Let’s go.”
“HOLD IT!” Came a bellow from behind them.  They turned and saw Bowser, along with all the other Koopalings, charge at them.  Well, it wasn’t all the Koopalings.  Lemmy and Wendy hung back; loathe to harm their own blood or friends.
That left Bowser, Roy, Iggy, Morton, and Larry.  Smash flicked sparks of red and blue power into existence as he twisted his fingers into a magical language.  Gillian sunk to her knees and began to murmur in a pose that looked like she was praying.   Kamek whipped out his wand and waved it in a dazzling display of figure eights.
Just as Bowser was flying through the air, the three completed their spells.  Lightning shot from Smash’s fingertips, merging with the blue shield flowing from the form of Gillian.  A final shower of red sparks shot from Kamek’s wand.  Bowser collided with the shield.  There was a mighty flare of energy, and Bowser was suddenly hurtled backwards into a wall like a lightning bolt, which it was actually, hit him.  Smash sunk down, breaking the connection to the shield.  The Koopalings, unable to stop, also plowed into the shield.  They staggered back as ruby light played about them, and then all stood straight up, rigid.
Kamek broke his connection and seconds after, Gillian let the shield drop.  Kamek addressed the Koopalings.  “Take this trash out and dump him in the moat.”  The Koopalings nodded obediently and heaved Bowser up on their shoulders, carrying him out of the room.  There was a faint splash as he hit the water.
Smash led the five out of the room, on a direct course to their destiny.

Chapter 5

“I still don’t understand,” Celeste was complaining to Smash,  “If we’re the world’s only hope, what difference will an army make?”
“Simple,” replied Smash, “It is said that only the six of us working together can defeat Zydar and his minions.  We can’t do that if we’re dead.  We will have to fight our way through legions of undead and demons to make it there.  Think about it, we’ll stand a much better chance of making it to the castle if we have an army at our backs.”
“Ah… I understand now.”
Smash and Celeste were on the road to the Mushroom Kingdom.  The other four of the group were hiding in the woods.  They all knew that if a Koopa, much less four, came into the Kingdom, there would be instant chaos.
They finally came to the gates.  A mushroom guard spotted them and shouted, “Halt!  Who goes there?”
Smash yelled up at the wall, “That’s none of your business!  But I do have the Princess’ cousin here!”  Celeste stepped forward and flashed her most winning smile.
The Mushroom guard did a double take.  Then he shouted behind him, “Open the gates!  The Princess’ cousin is here!”
There was a blizzard of replies.  “Her cousin?”  “Celeste?”  “Where is she?”  “The last I heard she was…” “I didn’t know the Princess had a cousin!”
The gates slammed open.  Smash and Celeste walked in.
They walked out a few hours later.  It was even easier than they expected.  Mario and Luigi were off sleeping somewhere, and the mushroomers didn’t know Celeste was with the Koopas.  Peach was quite agreeable.  Smash didn’t even have to repeat the prophecy more than once.  The treaty was signed in short order.  The quest had a good start.
When the pair got back to the camp, Karma met them with a worried expression on her face.  She led them wordlessly back to the camp, where they saw Kamek and Ludwig, but Gillian was nowhere to be seen.
“She disappeared hours ago” Karma said quietly, “She was so quiet, we didn’t notice her leaving.  And she still hasn’t come back.”

Chapter 6

Smash inhaled deeply, trying to keep his emotions under control.  “Organize a search party,” he ordered.  “Leave no stone unturned.  She may be fine, but there is a chance, however slim, that she may be in mortal danger.”
But as Smash spoke those words, Gillian leaped, cat-like, from the trees.  She walked up to Smash and delivered a report.
“I was out spying.  Zydar’s forces are on the move.  I don’t know if they suspect we’re here, but we’re surrounded.”
Smash looked at the ground and bit his lip in thought.  “We’ll have to try and escape.  Do you know how far they are?”
“Only about 3 miles.  I’ve seen that their line is thin near here.  If we can break through, we can evade them until the next town.”
“We’ll have to try.”  Smash turned to Kamek.  “Can you cast invisibility?”
“If I’m well rested, I can cast it on myself and maybe three others,” Kamek said, “But there’s no way I can get all six of us.”
“Shards,” Smash muttered, “I guess we’ll have to fight our way though.  We’d better go now.  We don’t want them to get a chance to receive reinforcements.”
They stealthily moved through the forest the rest of the day.  Ii would have only taken them an hour to get to the line, but they were moving among the trees quietly.  Unable to risk a campfire, they all lay silently in the branches of a tree.  That is, until Ludwig said quietly, “Smash?”
“I know that there will be a battle tomorrow.  In case I die tomorrow, I want to know something.”
“What is that?”
“Well, you say you’re a dragon.  How’s that?”
“Well, my father was half dragon.  My grandfather was human, and my grandmother was a full dragon, a silver one to be precise.  Dragons, at least on this planet, are divided into good and evil.  The metallic ones, such as copper, gold, brass and, bronze, were the good ones.  The chromatic, or blue, red, black, green, and white, were evil.”
“Why are you saying ‘were’?” Kamek asked, joining the conversation.
“Well, they were driven out of existence or into hiding hundreds of years ago.  I am the only one left to uphold the old standard.  It’s very strange, really.  The dragons were power incarnate, or at least as close as will ever become with the exception of any gods that may exist.  They were so powerful that my powers compared to theirs is like a popgun compared to a hydrogen bomb.”
“But if they were that powerful, how were they driven into hiding?”
“My personal theory is that they were warring with each other.  Whichever side won was then driven away, weakened severely, by the lesser species.  But then, that is a different story.”
Ludwig wanted to ask another question, but the only answer was a gentle snore.  Smash had suddenly fallen asleep, with Gillian held in his arms.

Chapter 7

The daylight came too soon.  Smash woke up at the crack of dawn, disengaged himself from Gillian and slowly moved from tree to tree to scout.  Soon, he felt a presence near him.  He didn’t even have to look to see Gillian, her green skin camouflaging perfectly with the leaves, next to him.
“What do you think?” a voice came softly from next to him.
“No way we can beat all those,” Smash said, half to himself.  “We’ll have to just get through and run.”
“How about Kamek turn the others invisible and we hold them off in disguise until the rest get through?”
“That might work.  It’s our best chance anyway.”
And with that, they leaped from tree to tree back to ‘camp.’  When they got there, Smash explained the plan to the others.  Then he drew three long knives out of his belt and tossed one to each of the other members, other than Kamek, he had his hands too full already.  “These are for defense only.  Use them only if you are discovered.  We’ll handle the rest.”
They walked up the road, which was blocked by six demons.  “Halt!”  One yelled.  “This road in now under the possession of Lord Zydar!”
“Lord Zydar can go suck rotten eggs!”  Smash snapped back.
“Ooh!  We’ve got a feisty one!  Let us show you what happened to the last-“
That was as far as he got.  Smash’s flickering blade decapitated him without seeming to even move from his hand.  A second later, there was instant chaos.  Gillian whipped out her battleaxe and made quick work of two of the remaining ones while Smash’s blade took care of the rest.  The last one had time to cry out, “Help!  Intru-” before Smash’s blade cut him down.
“Quick!” he yelled to the invisible four.  “Go!  Go!”  Just as they were turning the bend, demons came boiling out of the woods.  Smash held back his startled expression.  There were at least five times as many troops as he’d guessed.
Kamek was about out of breath as he took off the invisibility spell.  He wanted to rest, but he needed to see how Smash and Gillian were doing. When he got there, he was paralyzed with fright.  Creatures holding balls of flame, three headed dogs, creatures with whips, creatures with flame glowing from their hands, and towering creatures with blazing scythes.  Smash and Gillian were holding the whole horde off with just a sword and battleaxe.  Smash then saw Kamek.  “Kamek, you fool!  I told you to run!”
“But…” Kamek began.
“Run!” Gillian yelled.
“But you...”
“We’ll survive!  You won’t!  Run!”
This time he ran.  He ran, and ran, and ran.  The last he saw of Smash and Gillian was the two standing silhouetted against the wall of flame.  He did not stop until he had reached the rest of the group, where he just stopped to tell them to run as well.  They all ran until they reached the edge of the forest, where they all collapsed, exhausted.
“No one could have stood against that.”  Kamek said in despair.  “Our leaders are gone.  The only part that gives me any hope is that they were in disguise, and let us pray to any god we worship that Zydar will not realize who they are!”

END of Part 1