"Luigi! Mario!" the cry came from the door, burst open by a young blonde in tattered expensive clothes and combat gear carrying a handheld flame gun.
The apartment's occupants--a middle-aged moustachioed man in a buttoned-up shirt and slacks, a younger one in a t-shirt and a ball cap, and a woman carrying a pot of spaghetti sauce clambered in.
"Daisy!" answered the younger one, startled yet ecstatic to see the intruder.
"You gotta come with me, I need your help!" she replied, letting her gun down.
"Why? Wh-wh-what's wrong?"
"You're never gonna believe this…"
"I believe it," chimed in the older man, reaching for his tool belt on the wall and wrapping it around himself.
"...you do?" asked the younger, incredulous at the thought as he was handed a belt himself.
"Heheh. I believe!" he replied, nodding at the blonde. She smiled...
* * *
"Another dimension, ha." Perfect Tommy scoffed at the broadcast. It surprised him sometimes how even though some of the most puzzling things happened to him and Buckaroo and the other Cavaliers, a lot of the general public just went on about their business. Just another story for the comics. Funnily enough, this time it wasn't them on the screen. And he got to watch it. Nice to see things from another perspective sometimes.
"What's this, what are you watching?" Dr. Sidney Zweibel, otherwise known as the rip-roaring cowpoke New Jersey, stepped over.
"Well, you know how things sometimes show up on that public access show? Wonderful World?"
"Miraculous World, yeah. Well, see, these guys from Brooklyn. Says they hopped to a parallel dimension and fought some lizard people."
"Lizard people. Lizard… Lizardo? They don't mean-"
"Nah, it's probably just fake tabloid TV." He reached up and turned the set off.
"Heh, well um. I mean, how do you know that? I mean, you know the kind of things we, y'know, deal with now and again about. Lizard people."
"Don't worry about it, New Jersey, it's nothing. Besides, I know the guys."
"You know them?"
"Well not personally but, they're just two-bit plumbers from Brooklyn. Call themselves the Mario Brothers. One of our regulars called in about them when the show started, so I got the lowdown. Older guy with a moustache, Italian. Mario. Young guy, Luigi. Here."
Tommy tore the paper off the printer, special teletype hookups and something they had going called the "World Wide Net", or something like that. It was a telephone computer network to rival all the others. The big boss had that put in as quickly as possible, and the speeds were unbelievable compared to the old way they used to call up police reports, no teletype or phone receiver mounts or anything like that. He handed the page to New Jersey, and the good doctor took a look at it. Dot matrixed pictures of two men on the page, a balding middle aged Italian with a moustache named Mario and a Spanish kid about twenty years his junior named Luigi. The Mario Brothers, of Mario Brothers plumbing ("No leak too small!"), and they were Mario in both occupation and name.
"Huh. Brothers, huh? Look more like cousins. Father and son, if anything."
"Yep. That's about the weirdest thing they got going for em though."
"Weirder than their last name also being Mario?"
"Italians. Y'know?" But New Jersey didn't really. Poor man, having two first names. Maybe he went by his middle name. Or his last name.
"Hrrm. I dunno, Tommy. Something doesn't add up."
"I'm telling you, it's fine. This is the same show we planted a story on." He said planted, when in reality it was him and Reno Nevada, another famed Cavalier, essentially crank calling the producers. "They ran the whole thing too. Crackpot Scientist Turns Brains Into Cheese. It was amazing to watch. Hell, we taped it. Showed it to the big cheese himself, proof of concept. Hole in the system."
"Well… what did he say?"
"He didn't go for it."
"Huh. Well, uh. Heh. Hard to imagine. From Brooklyn you say, these uh… Marios?"
"Yep. Unassuming, normal fellers as can be. Maybe a little low on the cash, you know that Scapelli guy?"
"The mobster who runs half the construction companies in the Tri-State area?"
"That's him. He started expanding to plumbing about a year ago. Putting the poor mom-and-pops, or in this case maybe-pop-and-brothers, out of business."
"Yeah. Now we ran him. He's got one or two ties to the kind of people we tend to keep on the radar. World Crime League, all that. Maybe twice or five times removed but he's a scumbag too-"
"Uh, no no. No… Tommy I. I think it's something… something about these Marios. I have a hunch and I can't shake it."
Tommy sighed. Unfortunately since Rawhide got put on ice, New Jersey was the hunchmaster, the master of the hunches. And his hunches were wrong only about 12.45% of the time. He calculated that himself, the little nerd. Nerd in spurs, Tommy thought, what'll they think of next. Not that he was much better, of course, hiding a pretty big brain under all that hair dye, but by God at least he had his dignity. And how. Though calculating hunch ratios wasn't worth much to him, when he was more concerned with his guitar solos and research.
"All right, tell you what. We can run this one by Buckaroo and see if he-"
"See if I what?" asked a voice, attached to a dark, good-looking man of quiet, reverential dignity in a zig-zag print kimono and large round glasses. This was, of course, the big cheese himself. The leader of the Hong Kong Cavaliers, and the Chief of the Blue Blazers, Buckaroo Banzai. The one and only, renowned throughout the world, feared by his enemies and revered by comic book fans from New York to Timbuktu. His arrival wasn't unusual but a bit unexpected, since he was supposed to be at an important conference of scientists that day in Washington DC. And his being in kimono and not his customary sharkskin suit that he always wore to events of any sort, whether they be official or musical, was a surprise indeed. So much so that Tommy had to point it out.
"Well hold on there, Buck, weren't you supposed to be at the big scientist dog and pony show? What're you doing here?"
"And in this getup? I came back so that we could rehearse the new solos a little before the gig tomorrow in Salzburg. I'm not missing anything, anyway, something we already proved ten years ago being worked on at Black Mesa. Besides, Hikita-san and Reno are still there, I took the jet car back--what are we looking at here?"
"Nothing, Buck, just the Astonishing World and one of New Jersey's famous cowboy hunches."
"Miraculous World, Tommy," interjected New Jersey.
"Miraculous World, right."
"Another hunch, Sidney?" Buckaroo turned to his old colleague, with whom he had cut open plenty a skull in effort to save the skull-owners' lives--and their success rate was legendary. "All right, doctor, let's hear it."
"Buckaroo, this doesn't add up. These two Mario Brothers, here," he gave the crude pictures to Dr. Banzai, "claim they passed into a parallel dimension, and stopped a group of lizard people bent on merging the dimensions and taking over. Now, uh, I think that maybe, maybe these Marios have something going on since, y'know, we. Well you know. Lizard. Lizard ."
Buckaroo raised an eyebrow. "You think there's a connection with our unpleasant red friends?"
"I don't know, but. I have a hunch"
"A hunch," echoed both Buckaroo and Tommy, nodding. Though when Buckaroo nodded he pursed his lips tighter, contemplating. Tommy faced away and rolled his eyes. "All right, Sidney, we'll see what we can get. Start running a deeper search on the Marios, call up the Blue Blazers in Brooklyn and Queens, see who's got any information on the Mario Brothers. Call the station and get a three-quarter of the broadcast, and maybe call some of our friends and see if they have anything to say. Get on the horn with the Rug Suckers, since the expansion they have to deal with this Scapelli scumbag too, let's get some detective work done."
"You sure about that, Buck?" Tommy questioned one last time.
"No," he said, looking at Jersey and curling the corners of his lips up, "but I have a hunch."