This is a fanfiction. The characters and world of the Mario universe belong to Nintendo. This story is also thematically based on the Zero Escape series by Aksys Games.
Reader discretion is advised. This story is rated M for Mature due to graphic violence.
Mario awoke to the harsh sound of static. He lifted a hand to his face and rubbed the sleep crusts out of his eyes. The noise dominated his mind, the fuzz so loud that he couldn’t focus on anything else. He must have fallen asleep watching television, though he did not remember what he was watching. He gasped as he lifted his head and began to look around.
The mustachioed plumber was not on the couch in his living room. He was in some sort of long, narrow chamber seated upon a bike. His arms had been folded in front of him on the handlebars, propping his head to keep him semi-comfortable. The hall was so narrow that he barely had room to move on either side. In front of him the hallway stretched for a few feet, ending at a door with a comically large keyhole in the center. Above the door rested a monitor, the source of the static fuzz Mario was hearing.
Suddenly, the fuzz on the monitor cleared. The screen changed to show a CG star against a dull, metallic background. The star was black as night with glowing red eyes. He recognized the image as a perversion of a power star, the energy source for Princess Peach’s castle. As Mario watched the screen, the star began to speak.
“It’s about time you woke up, lazy-bones! Welcome to the party.”
Party? The AI had a distinctly feminine voice, and when she spoke she sounded like an overbearing mother.
“I’m your host, Ztar. I wanted to speak with you for a few moments before we get this party started, hon. I’ve gotta make sure you understand the basics. Would you mind taking a look at your left wrist, sweetie?”
Mario did so. On his left wrist was some kind of high-tech watch. It felt a bit snug, so he tried to adjust it, to no avail. Turning it over, he noticed that there was no clasp or hook. He had no discernible way to remove it. Looking at the face again, he noticed a few details. The screen did not show the time, which meant this thing wasn’t actually a watch. Instead, there were a couple of words. One said “STAR” and one said “COINS.” Both of them had the number zero next to them. The characters on the face were white, but otherwise had the same style as a digital watch or alarm clock.
“What is this?” Mario asked.
“That’s your DICE, silly,” Ztar answered. “Digital Identity and Currency Engine. It keeps track of who you are and allows you to participate in the party. Everybody has one!”
Mario furrowed his brow. He definitely did not understand what was going on. “Who’s everybody? And what exactly is this party?”
Ztar ignored his first question and focused exclusively on the second. “It’s a Mario Party, hon! Only the best party in all of the Mushroom Kingdom. You’re gonna have so much fun today.” Mario started to ask another question, but Ztar just kept talking over him until he shut his mouth.
“Let’s just go over the basic rules, shall we? You’ll notice on your DICE that there is a pair of buttons. Would you mind pressing both of them at the same time?” Mario complied. When he did so, the image on the face changed. It rapidly ran through a sequence of numbers from 0-9, looping through them a couple of times before settling on the number 5.
“Well wasn’t that exciting?” Ztar exclaimed, smiling. “What you just did is called ‘rolling the DICE.’ Every time you roll the DICE, you get a number from one to ten. The zero there counts as a ten. During the party, time is measured in something called ‘turns.’ At the beginning of every ‘turn,’ you’ll roll the DICE and get a number. That number tells you how many rooms to advance. This party place has a ton of rooms, sweetie, and each one of those rooms has something super-fun inside! After you roll your DICE, you go into your room and do something fun. At the end of the turn, everyone will leave their rooms and come out here to play a party game!”
Mario finally managed to interrupt Ztar. His frustration was evident in his tone. “What exactly is the point of this whole thing?” The AI laughed and gave him a big smile. Something about that laugh gave the plumber shivers.
“The point is to get out of here alive, silly!”
“Whenever you succeed at a game, you get ten COINS: COngratulations for INdividual Survival. At the beginning of each turn, you get one STAR – Step Towards Abrupt Rescue – for every twenty COINS you possess. Your goal is to have the most STARs at the end of ten turns. Whoever the winner is will be rescued, while everyone else has to stay here and party all over again tomorrow! Assuming they’re alive, of course.”
Mario was at a complete loss for words. How the hell did he get here? What was this party? It appeared to be some kind of twisted game, but it certainly wasn’t for Ztar’s benefit. Who was responsible for this? And why did they bring him here?
“I’m sure you have lots of questions,” Ztar said, “but all you really need to understand is the basic rules. To give you an example of what to expect, I’ve rigged a little game for you here. If you win, you’ll get ten COINS to get you started. Isn’t that great? I’ll see you when you finish the game and join up with the others. Have a good time, hon!”
With that, the screen shut off, and the room went dark. Mario grabbed the handlebars in front of him to give himself some sort of bearings. His feet naturally rested on the pedals of the bicycle. Experimentally, he pedaled for a moment to see if the bike would move. No dice. Instead, the darkened light bulbs above him turned on slightly, just barely illuminating their immediate vicinity. Apparently pedaling the bike was how Mario could turn the lights back on.
Suddenly, the plumber became very aware of another presence in the room. He couldn’t see anything in front of him, and a quick look behind revealed nothing there either. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that someone else was in here. What made him feel this way? Why was his body suddenly covered in cold sweat, his heart beating rapidly as his muscled tensed? It took him a moment, but he realized what had incited this reaction. The thought of it made his hair stand on end.
He could hear someone else breathing.
“Hello?” he said, his voice swallowed up by the darkness of the room. “Who’s in here?”
The only answer was a chilling, high-pitched laugh that echoed in the narrow hall.
Mario faced front and quickly started pedaling the bicycle, the lights up above flickering as they began to receive energy. The wash of light cast by the bulbs began to expand slowly, the entire ceiling now lit by a dim orange glow. The plumber did not look back – he couldn’t afford to. His energy had to stay focused on pedaling the bicycle. Of course, that wasn’t without its problems. The bike was too small for him and every rotation strained his legs as he struggled to pedal.
He felt the presence behind him getting closer. The breathing had grown more rapid, hungry with anticipation. Mario tried to go faster as well, pushing his burning legs to keep pedaling through the pain. The bulbs themselves were white now, casting a brighter light on the ceiling but still only a dull orange light upon the plumber. Whatever was in the room with Mario laughed again, and that broke his concentration – he turned reflexively to see who was with him.
Nothing. The room was empty.
The lights above began to dim immediately, forcing Mario to continue pumping his legs and pedaling the bicycle. As soon as he faced forward again, the expectant breathing behind him intensified. His instincts told him that the intruder was very close, and immediately after that realization he felt its cold breath on the back of his neck. His skin turned to gooseflesh as he felt that breath, but try as he might he couldn’t pedal harder. Mario’s tired legs were slowing down.
Suddenly, he felt more than just breath against his neck. Something sinuous and wet slid across the back of his neck, reaching up to just touch the edge of his ear. A cold shiver ran down Mario’s spine, and despite the numbing pain in his legs he managed to speed up his pedaling. Through his peripheral vision, he became aware of a gaping mouth slowly opening up around his head. Glistening white fangs dripped anxiously with saliva, and what he now knew to be a tongue retracted so that the mouth could slam shut with impunity.
Mario gave one last burst of energy, and suddenly the lights grew very bright. The blue-white bulbs cast brilliant light all over the room, and the thing looming just above the plumber’s head suddenly shrieked in agony. Mario turned to see a Boo, a malevolent and tricky spirit, hovering just behind him. Already the bright light was burning the creature’s spirit flesh, ghostly white skin boiling and dissolving away to ash. Globs of white flesh fell charred to the floor as smoke poured from the Boo’s body. The stink of burning ectoplasm filled the room, and Mario’s stomach turned inside out. Giving one last scream, the Boo burned to ash before him, leaving only a stinking pile of spirit flesh steaming on the floor.
Unable to take the stench a moment longer, Mario turned to the side and vomited beside the bicycle. Little more than bile came up, a burning sensation tearing through the plumber’s throat and leaving his whole body feeling weak and shaky. That combined with the pain in his legs stopped him from getting up for a few moments.
He looked back at where the Boo’s corpse lay charred on the ground. The bone-white ectoplasm was slowly burning to ash, and as it disappeared Mario was able to see something else in the pile. At first it was just a flash of gold, but as the flesh surrounding it burned away a shape became apparent. About a foot long with an ornate circular handle, the golden object was a massive key. It didn’t take a genius to see that the key went to the comically-large keyhole set in the door in front of the bicycle. After taking a few minutes to collect himself, Mario stepped up to the door and inserted the key. One good turn and the door made a strange sound rather unlike the typical turning of tumblers one expected when unlocking something. The plumber pushed up against the door, which immediately gave way. He stumbled forward and fell from the doorway down a long, metal shaft.
As the jumping champion of the Mushroom Kingdom, this certainly wasn’t Mario’s first fall. He managed to right himself and press against the shaft, slowing his descent so that when he landed he wouldn’t break anything. The shaft went down for a long time, and in that time he passed many more doors, all already open in a similar manner to the one he had come from. He counted eight doors in all (including his own) before dropping out of the shaft and landing with a thud on the cold metal floor beneath him. A little scuffed up but no worse for wear, Mario rose to his feet and took in his surroundings.
He was standing in front of a mural of Ztar that said “START” in massive yellow letters. Ahead of him was some sort of large dome with a series of doors spaced evenly along the outside. To his left and right were halls that circled the dome, each with their own doors lining the hallway. Red paint splattered in an arrow pattern on the floor indicated that the halls were meant to be traveled in a specific direction: left. Everything from the doors to the dome was harsh and mechanical, all made of cold metal that shone brightly beneath the white, clinical lights of the facility.
Immediately around Mario, there were seven other people all staring at him. All of them he recognized. His brother Luigi ran up to him immediately, wrapping him in a tight hug. Luigi was shivering with fear, but otherwise fine. Right on his heels were two women, Peach and Daisy. Rather than wearing their usual flowing gowns, both were dressed in tank tops and shorts – they appeared to be pajamas. On the right, two men were standing and having a hushed conversation. One was a short, squat fellow with a massive belly and a pointed mustache – Wario. Beside him was a gaunt fellow of incredible height but looking equally mischievous – Waluigi. Mario knew these two clowns from the local sports club where he, his brother, and the princesses played. Also in the room was Captain Toad, the leader of Peach’s royal exploration team, and the eccentric scientist Dr. Elvin Gadd. Every one of them was wearing a DICE, just like Mario.
He checked his own to confirm something Ztar had said. Sure enough, the display had changed from the number 5 he’d rolled back to the number of STARs and COINS he possessed. While STAR still read zero, the number of COINS had changed to ten.
His three friends were all speaking hurriedly. Luigi looked as though he was about to have a panic attack – being kidnapped tended to spike one’s anxiety. Daisy was angry, cursing in a rather unladylike fashion about what she would do to whoever turned out to be responsible for this. Peach was trying to stay calm but was clearly overwhelmed by everything that had happened. Unable to understand any of them as long as they were all talking over each other, Mario motioned for all of them to be quiet. But as soon as they hushed, Wario and Waluigi turned to face him and began approaching threateningly.
“You! You’re the one who brought us here, you good-for-nothing-”
Wario proceeded to say some words that immediately caused Peach to blush uncomfortably. Mario threw up his hands defensively.
“Calm down,” he said. “I didn’t bring you here. Why in the world would you ever think that?”
Waluigi answered that question. “Why the hell else would it be called a Mario Party?”
The plumber kept his hands up and continued to urge the two aggressors to calm down. “Listen. I don’t know why Ztar called this a Mario Party. But I promise you that I have nothing to do with this. I have no idea where we are, who brought us here, or why they are doing this. You have to trust me.”
Suddenly, Dr. Gadd spoke up. “Unfortunately, I am able to answer one of those questions for you.” All eyes turned to him.
“Why do you say ‘unfortunately?'” Peach questioned.
“Because I am afraid that my answer will cast a great deal of suspicion on me,” Gadd replied. “But I should tell you anyway. Mario, you said you have no idea where we are. I know exactly where we are. I designed this facility myself.”
In an instant, everyone was yelling again. Wario barreled forward and made to lift E Gadd by his collar. Toad tried to interfere, but the larger man easily threw the young captain out of the way. Mario and Luigi managed to reach Wario just before the heavy man got his hands on the frail old scientist, although it took everything they had to hold him back.
Daisy was livid. “You designed this place? Damn it, Gadd, what does that mean?”
The scientist had to yell to get everyone’s attention. “If you’ll all be quiet, I’ll tell you!” The group calmed down for a moment, and E Gadd began his explanation. “I designed this building as a training facility for Mario and Luigi. King Bowser has been more and more crafty lately, and I thought they might benefit from some rigorous exercise. All of the traps and devices in this building are my inventions. But as for Ztar and this party she has organized…I don’t know anything. Someone else has infiltrated my systems and turned the building to sinister purposes.”
“Well that’s awfully convenient,” Waluigi spat. “How do we know you aren’t lying about turning your little practice room into a slaughterhouse?”
“Think about it,” the Captain said. “Why would E Gadd put himself in here with us just to kill us? Why put himself in danger instead of just throwing us all down here and sitting in a comfy chair to watch?”
“Maybe he has to be down here to operate everything,” Wario suggested. “We only have his word to go on that he had to beat a game like we did. He could have lied to us. Maybe he wants to be down here so he can watch his experiment succeed.”
Luigi shook his head. “I’ve worked with E Gadd. He doesn’t do his own dirty work. Ever. If he was the one who put us down here, he would have been just fine with watching it on a monitor somewhere.”
“Thank you, Luigi,” E Gadd smiled. “As always, you are a worthy assistant.”
E Gadd was interrupted anew as a hidden projector suddenly cast an image of Ztar into the air above them. Her holographic form was quite large, comparable to Captain Toad in size. She gave a quick giggle and then began to speak.
“I’m so glad you all made it to this part alive!” she smiled. “Welcome to Mario Party! We’re going to have an amazing time tonight. As you all know, your goal is to have the most STARs by the end of the party. Whoever that is gets to escape, while everyone else will have to try again tomorrow. You have ten turns to collect STARs. Once those turns are over, it’ll be time to see who gets to leave.”
“Well I, for one, refuse to play,” Daisy declared. “You can’t make us risk our lives and take part in your little games.”
Ztar gave Daisy a pitying look. “Oh, honey. Not playing is the riskiest choice of all. You see, those DICE on your arms have one other purpose. If you refuse to party with the rest of us, there’s a penalty. You see, each turn doesn’t wait to end when everyone is done. The turn ends after an hour, whether you’re ready or not. If, in that time, your DICE has not been scanned by any of the rooms here – or if has been scanned by multiple rooms – then you’ll be killed.”
“Killed how?” Wario asked.
“Your DICE have very pure, very potent versions of two different chemicals: Mr Softener and Mini Mr Mini. Whenever you break the rules, you’ll be injected with those chemicals. Mr Softener will go directly to your bones and make them soft and malleable. Your body will collapse in on itself, no longer able to support its own weight, immobilizing you. Meanwhile, Mini Mr Mini will shrink your vital organs. They’ll no longer be able to do their jobs, and your body will fail.”
Ztar gave a dramatic, very fake sigh. “It’s a slow, painful sort of death. I’d hate to see any of you go that way.”
No one spoke for a few moments. The only sound was Luigi’s fast, labored breath. Mario put a reassuring hand on his brother’s shoulder.
Finally, Peach spoke. “So that will only happen if we break one of your rules?”
“That’s right,” Ztar smiled. “When each turn begins, roll the DICE and move a number of rooms equal to your roll. Go inside the room – once you’re in, you’ll have the length of the turn to enjoy everything in the room before coming back outside. If you don’t go into a room during the turn, if you don’t come out of the room before the end, if you go into multiple rooms, or if you go into a room that is not the room you rolled on the DICE, then you’ll suffer the consequences. After the turn has ended and everyone is back outside, we’ll participate in some group games there in the central dome. After that, a new turn will begin and the process will repeat. After ten turns, whoever has the most STARs wins and gets to escape.”
“And we earn STARs by getting twenty COINS,” E Gadd said. Ztar nodded, her whole body bobbing up and down.
“So how do we earn the most COINS?” Wario questioned.
“Well, dear” Ztar began, “it’s a combination of luck and skill. Rooms have different colors – blue, red, and green. When you enter a room, something automatically happens based on the color. Blue rooms add 10 COINS to your total, while red rooms deduct 10 COINS instead. Green rooms don’t affect your COINS but instead add an extra layer of fun to whatever is going on inside of the room. At the end of the turn when we play games, the winner or winners will get 10 COINS. So the person who gets the most will have a good combination of luck when rolling the DICE, and skill when playing the games.”
“And that’s all we need to know?” Peach asked.
Ztar smiled. “For now, sweetie. For now.”
Everyone looked at each other nervously.
“Now that everyone understands the rules – and the consequences of ignoring them – I think we’re ready to get this Mario Party started! Will you all please look at your DICE and press the left button, then the right button?”
Most of them complied, including Mario. After pressing the two buttons, a sort of timer appeared. It read 01:00 – one hour.
“This is your turn timer,” Ztar explained. “It runs whether or not you press those buttons, but you can use your DICE to check how much time you have left on your turn whenever you want. Once I begin the turn, roll your DICE and go wherever it tells you. I wish all of you the best of luck, and hope you have a wonderful time.”
The holographic image of Ztar faded away, and the countdown on everyone’s DICE ticked down to 00:59. The turn had started. The Mario Party was beginning.
Peach turned to face Mario. “It seems like we don’t have much of a choice. We die if we don’t play, but we’ll probably die if we play too.”
Daisy gritted her teeth. “I’ll take probably die over definitely die any day.” Mario nodded his agreement.
“Well then,” he said, “let’s roll the DICE.”
I imagine at this point that some of you are expecting me to say “APRIL FOOL’s!”
Nope. This is for real.
For all of April, each Friday I’ll be posting one part of this fanfic. By the end of the month, you’ll know the truth about this Mario Party, and you’ll know who makes it out alive.
The second part will come next Friday, April 8th. In the meantime, feel free to discuss your theories in the comments below. If you’re enjoying this creepy interpretation of a children’s classic, consider checking out my fanfic Pokemon PI. You can find it by clicking the Pokemon PI category link here. From now on, all fanfics will have their own category so you don’t have to sift through every single project to find all of the chapters of a particular story.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing you back next week for part two!