F-Zero – A Tale of Two Cartridges – Part III of III

The Stingray pelted through space at unimaginable speeds, however inside you wouldn’t have imagined they were travelling that fast as all was smooth and quiet. Not long after Goroh had picked the Mario Bros. up had they fallen asleep through exhaustion, this time into a slumber of peace rather than uncertainty. When they awoke they soon remembered who their company was and for a moment neither brother was quite sure what to say.

“Thank you for rescuing us,” said Luigi but all he was met with was an unsatisfactory grunt. The brothers shrugged to each other and decided to try asking him where they were going instead.

“To a planet known as Death Wind a place where powerful winds blow over a worn torn landscape. It just so happens to be the next race in the Grand Prix.” He replied. “You two have been out some time this is the fourth race in the current fixtures.”

“Hasn’t anyone been wondering where we had gone? I thought we were the commentators?” Mario asked.

“Yeah the fans weren’t happy about losing the Mario Bros. but it was promised you’d return soon after some rest. That’s the line they were fed, seemed to swing with them.”

“But do you know what’s really going on?  We don’t belong here; we’re from somewhere else only I couldn’t remember that until the crash happened.”

“They wiped our minds Mario,” Luigi chimed in and all attention was upon him. “They stole us away while we were travelling to Yoshi Island with the Princess. They had some strange cable that seemed to pull us away from our home. They then stuck these chips inside our heads and our memories were changed. We thought we were commentators in F-Zero rather than the heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom.” Mario sat there open-mouthed with astonishment while a glint of respect flashed across Goroh’s face for the well-informed brother. Embarrassed now he blushed and said “Ermm the people in my room thought I was still asleep, they were quite chatty with one another.”

“But why Luigi? Do you know?”

“I’m not sure Mario I haven’t really had time to process it.”

“Then allow me,” Goroh butted in. “You see we only recently came into existence though I can’t quite believe it myself. I have a life full of memories but turns out I only started living a few months ago. There’s this thing called a SNES that apparently brings life to us here and allows the F-Zero Grand Prix to take place, albeit the thing hasn’t quite launched yet. Our scientists discovered this and they brought most of the racers together to explain our unique circumstances. The thought was that perhaps there were more lives out there than our own. That’s when they discovered you two.” Mario and Luigi felt unsettled, the Mushroom Kingdom inside something called a SNES? That couldn’t be true. “It seems you two had been around quite some time you see, living life elsewhere until this SNES came along. And you were prepped to take it by storm. Despite the speed of our racers it was feared you’d leave us behind and our universe would cease to thrive. So a plan was made to steal you away from your world and bring you here. They sent Captain Falcon to get you.” The fury spoken in this name raised his voice a little, “Captain Falcon would get you because you were criminals and he’d be none the wiser.” Goroh spat at the very thought of it. “Anyway if you were no longer in your world then all attention would be upon us when this SNES thing went big. We’d be the most important universe on the SNES without the competition. It all hardly makes sense to me but then again I’m just a bounty hunter.”

“So why not just imprison us and lock us away forever?” Mario couldn’t really understand all this SNES nonsense, his home the Mushroom Kingdom was the most real place in the universe.

“That you have Dr. Stuart to thank. He thought we’d give you lives here and it’d be safer than having you escape and causing havoc. It still happened so perhaps they were right you two are a dangerous pair to imprison.” He laughed a big hearty laugh. “Get the Mario Bros. in our world we’re sure to be a success the doctor said with them big pearly whites of his. So they put those chips in you, so you’d be ignorant of your imprisonment.

“But the Princess! Without us Bowser will conquer everything.”

“I don’t know anything about that bud. Anyway you two best buckle up we’re approaching Death Wind.”

The big green planet loomed ahead of them and as they entered its atmosphere the brutal winds began to slam against the vehicle. After a savage descent the Fire Stingray landed safely a short distance away from the F-Zero pit bays. “This is where I leave you boys. But I hear the means to you returning home has been travelling across the Grand Prix with the rest of us. Maybe you could get lucky.” He began to shut his cockpit but Luigi stopped him.

“Wait Goroh, thank you for all your help.”

“Hm, the pleasure was all mine.” A strange grin spread across the Samurai’s face as the cockpit closed and he flew off into the distance. The Mario Bros. were alone.

“So what do we do now Luigi?” Luigi looked surprised his brother was asking him. “You know way more about what’s going on than me brother. You’ve steered us right so far in this, you can do this.” The look Mario gave to his brother was just enough to cast away the latter’s doubts and he began to formulate their plan for escape.

Mario had somehow infiltrated the pits, acquired a standard F-Zero engineer uniform and was marching with a group of other engineers towards Pico’s station where the Wild Goose lay in waiting. The plan had been made quickly and while Luigi went in search of the cable needed to travel back to their world, Mario had been tasked with finding the getaway vehicle. He’d simply tried to pick up one of the drones but he’d been caught before he could pick one and had to stuff his cap quickly into his overalls before his identity was given away.

“You there, what are you doing over here? The drones have already been inspected and are ready. You should be helping the racers prepare.”

“I’m a sorry I…” Mario had to quickly hide his extravagant accent. “I mean erm I was just giving them one final glance you know, pride in our work and all that” he said in a much gruffer tone.

“Well it’s entirely unnecessary. I need you to look at the Wild Goose, Pico has been scaring people off so we need all the help we can find. Follow me, and for goodness sake’s put on your standard uniform. Here.” The technician pulled out a uniform from a locker they passed and turned to hand it to Mario. However he hesitated for just a moment. “That moustache…”

Mario held his breath; a wanted poster with his face plastered all over it was only inches away. The technician scrutinised his every feature.

“You should probably shave that thing off; someone might mistake you for one of the Mario Bros. Now get changed quickly now.” And he turned to go while Mario keeled over in relief.

So now he was part of a large squad heading to act as pit team for Pico. However when they entered the bay Pico snarled at every one of them and when one person tried to take a look at his vehicle he threw a spanner at him and pulled out his gun in case anyone else had such an idea. He fired a few warning shots at the ceiling and the entire group turned on their heels and fled, leaving Mario and the alien quite alone. Pico hadn’t noticed Mario was still there, it seemed his failures in Mute City were weighing heavily on his mind. Mario cautiously moved over to the vehicle and started to pretend to work on it. The alien looked up in amazement that someone was still there. He pointed his gun directly at Mario. “Leave it alone now!” he commanded.

Nervously Mario spoke, “sure thing boss, sure thing only there’s one problem” As fast as he could Mario threw a fireball at Pico and before the alien could react he’d singed his gun arm and the weapon fell to the ground. Pico prepared to pounce but Mario had already leapt up high and stomped directly on his head. Pico swayed a little, took a few steps back to re-balance but ultimately succumbed to the blow and was out cold. “You’re all burnt out.” Mario giggled to himself as he quickly dragged Pico’s body out of sight and was amazed by the fact he’d secured a vehicle.

“Racers to the starting line-up, the race is about to begin.” The new commentator’s voice began to boom around the station and Mario had only enough time to leap into the cockpit before the officials arrived to signal him to get into position. Nervous Mario pressed as many buttons as he could and thankfully the machine started up and trundled slowly into position.

The atmosphere of the race was wild, fans were screaming everywhere despite the high winds trying to drown them out. The other racers were now in position and the burning questions for Mario were, “Where’s Luigi?” and “How do I get out of here?” Unfortunately he had no time to think as the red lights began to deplete and the green lights signalled to go. The racers sprang to life and bumped and knocked Mario all over the place as they left him in the dust. With his senses all riled up, Mario was thankful they were gone. Suddenly a cry of alarm sounded and the announcer directed everyone’s attention to Luigi, who had crashed through a window above the spectator’s stands and landed hard on top of the Wild Goose. Mario opened the cockpit up for his brother who, with a meek smile held up the cable they needed to escape. “Luigi you did it!” Mario cheered.

Weakly Luigi gave him thumbs up and Mario pulled him into the cockpit. “You better get a move on brother we only have one shot at this.” Luigi attached the cable to the dashboard and told Mario to drive as fast as he could before he collapsed with exhaustion. Mario worried about his brother, noticed the soldiers mobilising all around them and, panicked, bashed everything he could. The Goose lurched and suddenly shot off at an incredible speed knocking the officials flying as it sped off into the distance.

Uncertain of the controls and struggling to keep the vehicle steady against the vicious wind Mario miraculously made it round the first corner. A drone began to charge up their rear and as Mario pulled to one side the thing shot out in front thanks to the propulsion of some kind of speed thruster laid out on the track. Damaged by hitting the sides Mario steadied the vehicle again. If he were going to reach top speed he needed to hit one of those. Luckily he saw one lying just ahead. He pushed the vehicle into maximum speed (quickly getting used to the controls).

But just as he was about to get the boost they were hit hard in the rear and sent spiralling into the edges of the track. The Stingray pulled up beside them and Samurai Goroh could be heard over the radio. “Sorry boys nothing personal, but you’re mine.” He bashed them again and Mario cried out as to why this was happening. “If I capture you now I’ll be the hero of this universe not Captain Falcon. It’ll be by face on all the billboards and comic books. And what’s better is no one will know that it was I who set you up to fall.” His laugh was bitter and Mario cursed the Samurai, they’d been had all along, only brought here by Goroh to help him win the best prize he could. But he had no time to lament as the next corner loomed its head and Goroh drove them directly into the edges. Alarmed Mario thought this was the end.

But Goroh was knocked away too and accidentally hitting the speed thruster ahead went flying into the distance and the Blue Falcon took his place. “Pull over boys and no harm will come to you.” Captain Falcon’s voice now boomed over the radio.

“Sorry Captain but we’ve got to get home.” As they crossed the starting line into lap 2 Mario noticed a green button light up and pressing it a turbo shot them out of Captain Falcon’s reach and hurtling around the next corner. One shot Mario thought. Steady as he could against the horrible winds Mario drove the Goose over the thruster. As they reached maximum speed the cable began to glow and Mario noticed a beam of light materialise ahead of them. Pulling the vehicle up they began to travel along the beam and into the sky. A portal began to open up ahead of them and Mario was heading full speed at it. Only he hadn’t noticed Captain Falcon hot on their trail.

“I’m sorry boys show’s over.” The Blue Falcon activated its S-Boost and shot straight into the back of the Goose. Mario went spinning out of control and the vehicle lurched dangerously over the edge of the strange beam. He thought the end was coming but he heard another voice over the radio.

“It’s time to put an end to this madness.” Dr. Stuart had unnoticed followed both vehicles up the beam of light. Knocking Captain Falcon aside he drew up beside Mario and, using the magnetic grip of his vehicle hauled the Wild Goose back onto the beam. “Good luck Mario Bros.” He declared as Mario shot into the portal and both the Golden Fox and Blue Falcon began to hurtle back down to the track below.

The planet began to disappear around the Mario Bros. and violent forces began to batter them as Mario feared the Wild Goose could no longer sustain any damage. But when they were shot out above an ocean and he saw Yoshi’s Island ahead he had never seen a more grateful sight in his life. Pressing all the buttons he could he mashed the ejector seat and both him and Luigi slowly descended down to safety as the last remnant of the F-Zero universe crash into the ocean and was lost forever.

“Where in all the Mushroom Kingdom have you been Mario?! You were supposed to meet me here yesterday,” Peach spoke both with annoyance and concern. “You know being a princess I can’t just go on holiday whenever I choose. Mario, are you all right?”

Mario had not been more thankful to see the Princess in all his life and when he saw Bowser and his clown car on the horizon he knew he was glad to be home again. “Thank you Luigi,” he told his brother, “we made it home.”

“That racing stuff was pretty exciting though Mario, you know when you leave out all the abduction and scary aliens and stuff. Maybe we should start doing that here?”

“Maybe we will Luigi, maybe we will.”

Previous – Part II

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