Chapter Ten: Kolorado Amid the Ruins

Captain Toad looked over the ashen, bombed-out remains of Hollijolli Village. The spread of the Moon Blood Virus had reduced the vibrant community to shambling packs of feral husks. The mournful cries of the pandemic’s victims sent a cold chill down the Captain’s spine. He distracted himself from meditating on the tragedy of the husks persisting sentience by turning to his motley crew of survivors.

“Time for adventure!” he said.

“Captain Toad! This is hardly the time!” Flint Craigly said, gesturing at the gunshot body of Toadsworth, “He’s going to bleed out if we don’t find some medical supplies NOW!”

“Ohh no,” Captain Toad sighed.

“No, the Captain is right,” said Shadow Toadsworth, “We’re going to have to explore these ruins and hope we stumble across enough supplies to save him. There is no way we can get him to Mushbert’s lab in time while Bean Bean valley is flooded.

Captain Toad nodded and did a happy little hop.

“Damnation!” Chaos Toadsworth clawed at the sides of his head, sweating, “He’s dying! How can we waste time looking for meds that may not even be here! And what if one of those… THINGS get ahold of one of us?? We’re all going to die if we don’t get out here NOW!”

Shadow Toadsworth planted his legs firmly in the ground before slugging Chaos Toadsworth in the face as hard as he could with his fist. Chaos Toadsworth tumbled to the ground, clutching his bruised face.

“Snap out of it, you sniveling, worthless coward! We swore to each other at Delfino plaza after Cooper’s attack that we would see this through together, no matter what. No one else is getting hurt. You saw Captain Toad at Riverside station. He shivved the Chancellor and got us past his thugs without a single scratch. He’s not going to fail us now.”

Captain Toad nodded and did a happy little hop.

Kolorado sat on the petrified remains of Baby Rosalina, teasing the muzzle of his Vortex Rifle with his index finger. He sneered. “I don’t think the Captain has what it takes to lead us. Sure, he calls himself an adventurer, but where exactly are his credentials? I have a PHD in archeology, and years of experience adventuring! What does Captain Toad have that I don’t?”

“A head lamp,” suggested Flint Cragley.

“Also, a backpack,” Shadow Toadsworth added.

“Well,” Kolarado clicked his tongue, “I HAD both of those things prior to the pandemic.”

“Well, in the absent of those material resources, I suggest we curb this mutinous discussion until Toadsworth is safe.” Flint Craigly said.

“Fine,” Kolarado folded his arms.

“Let’s go,” said Pink Gold Toadsworth.

Flint Craigley volunteered to guard and tend to the incapacitated Toadsworth while Captain Toad and the others waddled through the crumbling ruins. They picked through the crumbling masonry in deathly silence, hiding in shadowed alcoves when the husks prowled, sprinting through the byways of the village. An hour of searching passed, and Captain Toad signaled while peering through his binoculars. The others huddled around him, squatting. “Look! I got it!” He pointed to the ruins of the shop. A single husk was ponderously pacing beside a first aid kit mounted to the wall.

“I’ve got this,” Kolarado slid down an embankment of debris, cocking his rifle on the way down.

“Wait!” Shadow Toadsworth tried not to shout, “You’ll summon the hordes!”

It was too late, as Kolarado unloaded a vortex buckshot straight into the husk’s cranium with a sharp pop. He pried the first aid kit from the wall just as a din of piercing shrieks deafened the square.

“HERE THEY COME!” Chaos Toadsworth wept.

The cobblestone clinked with keratin claws stampeding on spindly spider limbs. The former Toad residence of Hollijolli poured into the square by the dozens.

“Up top!” Captain toad rolled down the embankment with his backpack like a bowling ball, plowing straight into the husks as the mobbed around Kolarado. Captain Toad released his hidden wrist blades and whirled through the crowd carving bloody swaths. Kolarado was paralyzed in awe as Captain Toad brutalized the monsters as quickly as they joined the skirmish. In spite of the rising body count, there was no sign the husks slowing down. More and more crawled from every crevice and shadow as rapidly as they were slain.

“Come on!”  Pink Gold Toadsworth grabbed Kolarado by the hand, “we’ve got to go!”

“But… The Captan!”

“He can handle himself! We’ve got to go NOW!”

The two of them scaled the debris, hearts racing, and joined the others. They pulled their eyes away from the carnage and raced back to the clearing where the group had left Toadsworth and Flint.

“…Where are they? Craigley?! Hello!” Shadow Toadsworth began calling.

“Be quiet! Those things will hear you!” Chaos Toadsworth said, “Look. There’s a note.”

Kolarado bent low to pick up the fresh note scrawled with tidy print.

“What’s it say?”

“…Flint took Toadsworth. He betrayed us. He was working with the Order of theBrotherhood of Nightmares this entire time. Shit!” Kolarado shredded the note in his hands, the tears welling up.

“That… that can’t be. He swore with us we’d always be friends in Delfino!”

Kolarado couldn’t take it. He spiked the useless med kit into the ground and broke down crying on his hands and knees. His mind flooded with thoughts of his friends in danger. Toadsworth, Captain Toad, Baby Toadsworth, and Coach the Cheep Cheep from Mario Party Advance for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance. He slammed his fist into the dirt and muddied the ground with tears.

On the ground beside him was the last line of the shredded post script.

‘MIPS sends his regards.’

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