The Morelli Bros. (Chapter II, Part II)

Appearances can be very deceiving to the unsuspecting.  To mistake what looks like a harmless creature can have deadly consequences.  Such is fate for one small family of Mushroom people.  The Goombas marched upon their house, silently closing in from every direction as they ate their evening dinner.

Like most of the denizens in the Mushroom Kingdom, they lived in an oversized fungus for which their country was named.  The interior had been carefully carved out to accommodate their needs, and the walls had been coated with a special salve that helped keep them alive, as well as to prevent them from filling in the wounds.

Rooms were only carved per their need, usually starting with a general living area, and one bedroom.  Because they were an industrious people, not much time was spent inside, with the exceptions of eating and sleeping.  As their needs grew, so too, did the number of rooms.  Because their homes continued to live and grow around them, there was never any worry for lack of space.  Of course, this led to some very interesting natural architecture, for no two homes ever looked the same.

For centuries untold, the Mushroom folk had lived in harmony with their surroundings, integrating with, and showing the greatest respect for, the bounties of their land.  As reward for their due diligence, however intentional or unintentional that it was, their land had given their homes natural camouflage to protect them from their enemies.

Unfortunately, until this day, they had always been able to distinguish the nature of their enemy.  They were hunted as food by the carnivores, until they had learned to hide themselves.  Their homes were eaten by the herbivores, until they learned to coat them with a mixture of mud and dung.  This not only helped their homes to grow and remain healthy, but the smell repelled the creatures that would dine upon them.

Never had they known a species that attacked without provocation.  They had never faced the kind of monster that would kill creatures they deemed to be inferior. And so it was that the first casualties fell in the small community soon to be formally known as Shrooshen, which was home to forty-seven of the Mushroom people.

First came the Goombas, marching mindlessly through the underbrush.  The first fell beneath three of the bug-eyed fungi, to be simultaneously trampled beneath their feet and melted beneath a spray of thick, mucus-like acid.  The latter erupted from thin mouths which opened as they trod over the hapless creature beneath them.  Steam rose into the air from the wounds, and its dying screams soon gurgled as its lungs filled with blood.

Neighbors popped outside to find the source of distress, only to become one themselves when hammers were launched from the shadows around them.  Some hit their mark true, catching the creatures in the torso and face, caving in the point of impact.  An unfortunate young Mushroom curiously peered through a window in time to catch a hammer in the mouth, completely destroying her lower jaw and killing her instantaneously.

Two separate families sprinted through their doors with the hope of escaping into the untamed forest.  Each group drew slowly closer together, each aiming for a large opening in the trees where there appeared to be no sign of their strange attackers.  They only noticed the soft buzzing above them when it was too late.

Three airborne Lakitu swooped in from above, launching crimson orbs into the center of the group.  The first spike covered projectile caught the mother of the first family in the face, to the horror of her children, and she fell to the ground, dead.  Her oldest son, who had recently been awarded for ‘Fastest Runner’, didn’t move fast enough and caught one of the orbs in the chest.  The living weapon thrashed, clawed, and bit its way into the center of the once agile mushroom, who fell near his mother’s body and died choking on his own blood.  His eyes continued to stare into the sky long after the deaths of those around him, unbelieving and forever unknowing of the fate that had befallen him.

None survived the first attack of Bowser’s army.  No hands had been lifted in defense of their homes, or of their lives, and in less than an hour’s time, the Goombas had erased them from existence.

The Morelli Bros. (Chapter II, Part I)

Not too far from where the embattled plumbers were making their stand, entrenched behind the many crates needed to supply his army, was the first of many forts established by the mighty King Koopa.  It was small, no more than four walls and a crenulated roof, but for what it was being used, it was completely functional.

Many strange creatures surrounded the structure, nothing like anything either of the plumbers, or the denizens of this world, had ever seen.   They poured from the mouth of a green pipe, one that was very similar to that which the brothers had earlier passed through, except that this had two openings.

The first, which was parallel to the ground, belched out a continuous stream of small reptilian creatures.  Only slightly larger than the Goombas which they were sharing ground with, they walked slowly on four cleft hooves.  Their skins bore earthy tones varying in degree from muddy brown, to algae green, and they were covered in fine scales.  Upon their backs, they wore a bone like shell for protection. As is a turtle’s, the shell’s exterior appeared to be divided into several small plates. The shape of the plates, much like the creature’s color, also varied in size and in shape.  Some were rounded squares, while with others, the number of edges were anywhere between five and eight.

Their skin slowly oozed a pale green liquid, some more than others, suggesting it to be their body’s mechanism for keeping cool.  From their almond-shaped eyes ran a thick colorless mucus which gave off a strong, foul odor.  Flies surrounded the heads of some, happily drinking from the stinky nectar.

As they stepped onto soft ground for the first time, most fell immediately to all fours, advancing menacingly upon the foreign land as if they intended to trample it out of existence.  Others rose upon their hind legs, pausing only to gather a helmet and weapon from a nearby crate.  Unlike those that walked on all fours, these more advanced soldiers of the Koopa army wore less bulky shells on their back. Their legs were also more muscular, and at the end of their arms were three short fingers.

The second exit from the pipe spat smaller creatures into the air. Some were miniature versions of the soldier Koopas, only they had no shell on their back at all. These creatures burst into the air riding on what first appeared to be small, white clouds, over which they glared with thickly bespeckled eyes.  Closer inspection, from any who dared, proved this a fatal misconception.

They rode on a rare breed of six winged Snow Moth, creatures that were bred to extinction in the wild, now existing only in mindless servitude to their masters. Once known as the Faerie Moth, these creatures derived their new name from the thick white powder they emitted while in flight.  Not only does this protect their delicate bodies from the wear of their rider, but it also camouflaged them within the guise of a cloud.

Standing just inside the door to the fort, their leader watched his coming army through furrowed brow.  Unlike his soldier cousins, he towered over those around him.  Where the Koopa army resembled a more advanced form of turtle, he was the bastard child of dinosaur.  He stood on thick, heavily muscled legs that complimented the rest of his similarly built frame.  Unlike the soldiers, a long tail protruded from beneath his shell, which also differed in that sharp spikes jutted from it in all directions.  His scales are the color of coal, a darkness interrupted only by a white war stripe painted from the crown of his head, to just beneath his waist.

“My Lord Morton, sir?  We have prepared the girl as you have ordered, sir.”

He slowly turned and regarded this world’s poor excuse for intelligent life with a deep sense of disdain.  The creature stood barely over two and a half feet in height and wore very little on its body to cover its flabby shame.  Brown leather wraps covered its feet, which, he had to admit, had its practical use.  Unlike his soldiers, this creature could move with great speed when it wanted to!  Covering its genitals was a white cloth that for the life of him, he knew not how it stayed clean.  A light blue vest hung loosely around its middle, and on its head was a red and white spotted mushroom cap.

“Very well, Toad,” he breathed in exasperation.  “Be sure she’s ready for our King when he arrives.”

“Yes My Lord.  As you wish, my Lord.”

As Toad vanished once more into the fort’s interior, he turned to watch as his army continued to grow.

 

The Morelli Bros. (Chapter I, Part VI)

It was his sense of sound that returned first.  Even before he felt it on his skin, the grass and leaves sighed as a warm breeze brushed past them.  Somewhere in the distance, a bird chirruped playfully, calling out to whomever would listen to its song.  What darkness had once surrounded him was gone, chased away by the natural light of the sun.

“How long was I out,” he wondered.

His body ached, bruised from the rubble that had battered him in the alley.  Slowly, he pushed himself into a sitting position, balled his hands into fists, and ground them into his eyes as he attempted to chase away the cobwebs.

When he opened his eyes, the light stabbed into them like red-hot daggers.  His vision was blurry, but what he could see was nothing short of confusing.  A sea of green surrounded him, undulating softly to and fro in the wind.  His head barely poked over the tips of the soft blades of grass, which he could now identify by its fresh smell, something he hadn’t experienced since he was a boy.

“Luigi!”

As his vision swam into focus, he could see that he was indeed in the middle of the richest pasture he had ever laid eyes upon.  The grass was deep emerald, and as he rose to his feet, he discovered that it reached nearly to his waist.  Though the ground around his immediate area was flat, he soon learned that he was between two lines of hills that sharply rose and fell to either side of him.

“Luigi,” he hollered again as a sinking feeling began to grow inside of him.  The last thing he remembered, before being swallowed by the darkness, was the look in his brother’s eyes as he slipped away.  It was the fear of a man who know he was going to die.

He turned, and what he saw next stopped him in his tracks.  Suddenly, the desperation was pushed aside, the need to find his sibling, forgotten.  For, before him was something that in all his years as a plumber, had never existed until this moment.

Mario Morelli, son of Rocco and a master of his trade in his own right, was staring into the five foot diameter opening of a green steel pipe.  There was only a few feet in before it dropped off into the ground, but it was the sign over the opening that gave him more cause for concern.  In bold letters, in a font he didn’t recognize, was a word he could easily read.

EARTH

“…unngh…”

He didn’t have long to ponder the implications, for behind him, something was shambling toward him.