Waluigi was busy dancing around the room. He was, as a result, too busy to see Slowqueen using her psychic powers to throw Bowser into his own lava moat. He’d be fine, he’d survived being burned to death many times; but in the meanwhile, it was time for dancing.
He’d done it! Well, they’d done it. But Slowqueen – or Mega-Slowqueen – was only the Pokémon. It was he, Cooltrainer Waluigi, whose Pokémon had deposed the tyrant Bowser.
Soon, it would be time for him to collect the plaudits. He’d seen Mario and his brother get them time and time again. Money! Titles! A kiss (on the nose usually) from the Princess!
He’d never be forgotten again. He would be lauded, in fact.
He twirled. He leapt. He even frolicked.
‘We have company, Mr. Ballet,’ said Slowqueen, wandering over. ‘Their thoughts are deafening.’
Sure enough, two sets of footsteps could soon be heard pattering up the stairs.
‘I wonder who that could be,’ said Waluigi, rolling his eyes.
The door to the throne room burst open.
In came two men who looked like Waluigi might have done, before he’d been tortured on the rack of life. One fat, one thin; one short, one tall; one in red with an M on his cap, one in green with an L.
‘Not so fast, Bows…’
Mario trailed off. He looked around. He put his head on one side.
Luigi was more forthright. ‘Waluigi? You’re-a working for Bowser?’
Waluigi allowed himself a cackle. It wasn’t as deafening as Bowser’s laughter, but it had the Mario Bros. covering their ears nonetheless.
‘Working for him?’ he said. ‘Luigi, I defeated him! I threw him out the window! I rescued the…’
He felt a tug on his dungarees.
‘Okay, we defeated him. Don’t you get it, Marios? You’re too late! This time, a-Waluigi’s the hero!’
He had another cackle.
They would be embarrassed. All the times they’d forgotten him, all the times they’d beaten him to the punch, all the times they’d accused him of cheating…
His glove was being shaken.
‘Hey, well done!’
Mario was giving him a big cheery smile.
Not quite what Waluigi had hoped for. He supposed it was acceptable.
‘Come on, you two!’ squeaked the helium-voiced hero. ‘Let’s-a go rescue the princess!’
Luigi still had a look of utmost suspicion on his face.
‘Hey, who’s this pink thing?’ he said, pointing to Slowqueen.
‘Charming,’ said she. ‘That’s no way to greet your conqueror.’
‘Conqueror? What do you… hey!’
Because suddenly Luigi was in the air, limbs flailing madly.
Mario leapt for his brother, who was swiftly jerked higher and out of his (ridiculous) reach. The entire scene was hilarious, at least if you were Waluigi.
‘Hey, put me down!’ yelled the airborne plumber.
‘If you insist.’
‘Hey, Waluigi!’ shouted Mario. ‘Do something about-a your friend, yeah?’
Waluigi was too busy rolling on the floor to reply.
Through his laughter, he vaguely heard Mario’s frustrated grunts, Slowqueen’s indifferent responses, and continued yells of ‘help’ from his hated rival.
The sound of fireballs, no doubt from Mario’s hand, made him make an effort to get his paroxysms under control. Slowqueen would shrug off such flames: Waluigi, less so. He dragged himself up.
Luigi was hovering closer to the broken window, through which Bowser had gone, than he had been. It passed through Waluigi’s mind that while he hated his rival, he didn’t necessarily want the flesh stripped from his rival’s bones in a lava moat.
‘Okay, okay,’ he wheezed, ‘that’s enough. Put him down.’
Luigi gave a final scream as he was thrown out of the window.
Mario leapt towards the impassive pink figure, fist outstretched. Then he was being lifted into the air too.
‘Take it easy now,’ said Waluigi. The laughter had died. ‘No need for this.’
‘Wrong,’ said Slowqueen, who sounded like she’d never laughed in her life. ‘There is every need for this.’
Mario followed his brother, wailing all the way down.
‘Hey what the hell!?’ shouted Waluigi.
Slowqueen ignored him. She floated towards the back of the room, behind the throne. A curtain moved aside, seemingly of its own accord, to reveal a door.
‘You… you didn’t need to throw them into the lava!’ said Waluigi, waddling behind.
The door slammed open.
Behind it, there was what could only be described as a lady’s boudoir – or rather, a stereotype of what a lady’s boudoir should look like. The double bed was pink and frilly. The carpet, likewise. Vases of white flowers covered every spare surface. A mirror took up an entire wall.
Sat on the bed, in a pink dress and crown, was a blonde-haired woman that Waluigi knew very well. She looked confused.
‘Mario,’ said Slowqueen, her crown telescoping to fit as she floated through the doorway. ‘See? Even Luigi doesn’t get a shout-out. You want to be the hero, Waluigi? Or do you want to be in Mario’s shadow, in Luigi’s shadow, for the rest of your life? You leave them around, everyone will remember you as copies of them. That’s why they’re in the lava.’
The woman gasped.
‘What have you done with Mario?’ she said.
‘Princess Peach, I presume?’ said Slowqueen. ‘And they call me slow. I just said.’
‘You are… you are not throwing her into the lava!’ yelled Waluigi, who thought this was all going a bit too far, too fast.
‘Oh no. Don’t worry. The princess will be kept safe.’
The words didn’t fill Waluigi with comfort. They obviously didn’t fill Peach with comfort either. She leapt off the bed and ran towards the door.
Then she stopped running suddenly, with barely a noise. After a moment, her body curled in on itself. It stayed that way while a pink haze appeared around her. Her mouth was moving, quite expressively in fact; but nothing could be heard.
Her crown had fallen on the floor. Slowqueen picked it up, in her hands. She turned it over, inspecting it.
Then she crushed it with her mind.
‘Only need one crown,’ said Slowqueen, turning back to the gaping man. ‘Now, Waluigi. Now we’ve done it. I as the queen, you as my knight errant… Oh come on, really?’
For Waluigi had recovered his senses, and was ripping the Mega Ring off his leg.
‘You’re just like Bowser!’ Slowqueen despaired. ‘Letting sentiment get in the way of your goals. I mean, look at all this. A prisoner doesn’t need this! I’m keeping her alive, I’m just letting her experience the crippling ennui and lack of freedom that being imprisoned in a tiny sphere… You’re overplaying your hand, my friend.’
‘Oh yeah?’ he said, brandishing the Mega Ring. ‘I’m your trainer! I made you that stupidly massive crown thing, and I can take it away again.’
Slowqueen rolled her eyes.
‘I am going to say this one more time. I like you. Furthermore, you’re useful to me. Your mind… it dampens the oppressive effects of those around you. I don’t know why. The idiot blue jackal thought “you had no aura”, and maybe he had a point. Whatever it is, it prevents me from getting pounding headaches from people’s loud unwanted thoughts. That will be handy when I go to meet…’ She paused. ‘…when one goes to meets one’s subjects.
‘I helped you be a hero, Waluigi. You can help me be a queen. Now are you in this with me or not?’
‘Release the princess!’ Waluigi heard his voice crack.
For a moment neither one of them moved.
Then Waluigi threw the Mega Ring to the floor. It had all gone too far, and now it needed to stop. He raised his foot above the accursed jewellery.
The foot didn’t come down.