The Morelli Bros. (Chapter I, Part VIII)

“Goomba!”

Like many a nameless Bond villain, the creatures announced their presence as one.  A quick count put their numbers at a dozen, a formidable number had they been people, but these beings didn’t seem to be all that intelligent.  While their eyes glared at him with malevolence, they continued to slowly march forward despite what he had done to their brethren.

He noticed, as well, that they didn’t come as a single group, but rather, in small groups of two or three at most.

“Luigi,” he commanded with authority.  “Flip!”

His brother, who was still recovering from their sudden trip to Neverland, rose into a crouch and laced his hands, palms up, before him.  With a final nod to show that he was ready, Mario launched himself into action.  His legs pumped beneath him as he charged toward his brother.  It was a move he had practiced many times with his sibling, one he was normally more comfortable with when using a vertical barrier, and was something he had thought of for just such an occasion.

His brother, who was every bit as strong as he, gave his hands to him as an impromptu spring.  Mario’s right foot found the pocket they had created, and in the next second, his left foot landed on Luigi’s right shoulder.  The younger of the two then redirected his momentum and launched him with all his might.  The effect couldn’t have been more perfect, for the older Morelli now flew up and away from him, spinning in mid-air to face the attacking creatures.

As Mario came down upon the leading trio, Luigi sprung to his feet and ran towards a duo that were now branching off in his direction.  Unlike the other, who leapt with the grace of practice, Luigi jumped into the air with his legs still pumping as wildly as if they had never left the ground.

“Wa-HOO,” Mario yelled to the side of him, where he was using the natural sponginess of the creatures to bounce from one to the next.  Luigi laughed, but his merriment was cut short when he made his first contact with one of the Goomba creatures. He watched in horror as the fungal creature burst beneath him, its intestines jettisoning from a large split in the creature’s side.  Unlike any digestive system he’d ever heard about, this creature’s was every bit the nature of its body. They were dark green, covered in slime, and emitted a smell worse than any sewer he had ever worked around.

He had nearly slipped from the top of the creature’s chitinous dome when it reached its lowest point, and his recovery was even worse.  While Mario continued to bounce from one creature to the next, he had to do everything in his power to just maintain his sense of momentum.  Unlike his brother, after the second of the two splooshed beneath him, he found himself over-compensating the anticipated launch, and instead of leaping gracefully into the air, he flew straight out and face planted, hard, into the dirt.

Luigi felt the air rush out of him as he hit the ground.  Stunned, he looked into the eyes of another of the foul creatures.

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