"Okay, we're almost there," Grodus told his army. "Pura, Crump, you're with me. We shall try to go around the army and straight to Bowser."
Pura and Crump nodded.
"The rest of you, take out as much of Bowser's army as you can."
"Yes, Sire," an Elite X-Naut, who was apparently the captain, responded.
"Good. Rush the castle, now!" Grodus shouted, as the X-Nauts took off, heading towards the Koopatrol guards. Grodus turned to Crump and Pura. "Now we must fly over the pit on the right side of the castle to gain entry without being noticed. I can get myself over without problems. You two?"
"I can fly Crump and myself across," Pura said.
"Good." When they got to the lava pit, Pura picked Crump and began flying to a door on the side of the castle, remaining just above Grodus the whole time. Grodus, on the other hand, waved his staff and a green platform of energy appeared, which he was able to walk on. However, when he was about halfway there, the door he was trying to get to opened, and a Boomerang Brother looked out.
"Intruders!" he shouted, but then grinned, tossing his boomerang at Grodus, trying to knock him off his platform. Grodus swung his staff at it as it got close, and the boomerang was sliced in half. Pura, from the air, blasted the Boomerang Brother with a shadow ball, knocking him out.
The three of them soon reached the doorway and quickly noticed an advanced security system which was believed to be Ludwig and Iggy's doing. There was a security camera a few feet away, around the first corner, as well as a Koopatrol patrolling the area.
The Koopatrols fended off a few X-Nauts, but considering there were only two of them, they were quickly overtaken, and the X-Nauts entered the castle to find Lemmy and Iggy, who had just arrived, six Dry Bones, and four Magikoopas. "Gah!" Lemmy struck two X-Nauts with his ball, before taking off to find the alarm. He stumbled before finding it, but he did get to it and activated it. He then ran to his room to get a new ball. The others remained, one Dry Bones already taken out by a single body slam of an Elite X-Naut. Iggy blasted four regular X-Nauts and one Elite X-Naut with his wand before being struck with a potion, slowing down his response times with non-lethal poison. He decided to retreat for now, running after Lemmy. The X-Naut PhDs faced off with the Magikoopas, three PhDs and one Yux being taken down before the Magikoopas were beaten. The Dry Bones were soon beaten as well, as the PhDs tried healing the fallen X-Nauts.
Bowser was watching the brawl through a camera, laughing to himself. "Send in the elite Koopatrols," he told Kammy.
"The Honor Guards so soon?" Kammy questioned. "These X-Nauts aren't that tough."
"Very well." Kammy left to give the order as Ludwig returned with Roy.
"I'm ready to whoop some X-Naut behind," Roy informed.
"Good for you, but you'll have to wait for them to come to us," Bowser told him.
Larry, Jack, Regal, Wendy, and Morton heard the alarm. "What's going on?" Wendy asked.
Grodus, Crump, and Pura also heard the alarm. "Good, the X-Nauts are inside," said Grodus. "Now we need to get rid of the guard and camera."
Pura nodded and waited until the camera was facing away from her. When it was, she blasted it with a shadow ball, destroying it.
"Hey!" the Koopatrol guard shouted, but was soon struck with a shadow ball himself, and knocked out.
Ludwig was watching the camera screens in the throne room to see one get taken out. "A camera went out in the east wing of the castle," he told Bowser. "Some more intruders must be there."
"Oh good, they're heading right toward me." Bowser grinned. "This should be most entertaining."
The Moon Clefts charged into the next room upon the X-Naut captain's command and through the Goomba squadron, the Goombas beating just a single Cleft, who was soon revived by an X-Naut PhD. Next were the basic Koopas, who took out roughly a quarter of the Clefts before being defeated as well.
It was then the Honor Guards showed up. Two dozen Koopatrols with gold-plated armor stood before the X-Nauts, Yux, and Moon Clefts. "Halt!" one ordered, though Honor Guards were known for being generally speechless.
"Oh, good, the Honor Guards have arrived," Bowser said to himself, watching closely.
Meanwhile, Grodus, Pura, and Crump were getting closer and closer to Bowser, destroying another camera and taking out a couple Hammer Brother guards. They soon reached suspiscious sideways pipes.
"Check it out, Crump," Grodus ordered.
Crump grunted and attempted to walk past the first pipe, but a Piranha Plant snapped at him, and he jumped back. "Woah!"
"Just as I had thought." Grodus thought for a moment.
"I'll handle this," Pura said, igniting the Piranha Plant with some purple flames. It screeched and went back inside its pipe. "Easy." They were now able to pass with ease, the Piranha Plant too hurt to pop out of the pipe for a while.
This process was repeated for the next two pipes, but the fourth pipe proved to be more difficult; the platform was over lava, with the pipe jutting in from the right, and there were Podoboos about. If that wasn't enough, a Koopatrol guard was on the other side of the platform with a security camera scanning the area.
"I'll take care of this!" Crump recklessly ran forward, running past the pipe and the Podoboos. Miraculously, he was unharmed. That is... until he got to the Koopatrol guard. He received a Shell Shot to the gut and keeled over. "Ouch!"
Grodus blasted the Piranha Plant after it snapped at Crump and carefully crossed the platform over the lava, trying not to be attacked by a Podoboo. After that, he reached his lord. He blasted the camera and the Koopatrol. Pura was not too far behind.
A Moon Cleft ignored the command and charged an Honor Guard. The Koopatrol slashed at it as it got close. It was cut in half. This received some gasps in the X-Naut unit.
Despite this, the X-Naut captain remained confident. "Charge!" With that, the army charged towards the Koopatrols. Many soldiers were quickly taken down as they got close, the Honor Guards hacking away at the X-Nauts. By the time they took one Honor Guard out, the X-Naut had already lost 41 Moon Clefts, Yux, and X-Nauts. "Lay back!" the Elite X-Naut ordered his troops as the army backed up.
"Captain Slice! I have an idea!" an X-Naut PhD shouted, "Just use ranged attacks. Koopatrols don't have ranged attacks."
"How do we arrange that?" the captain asked.
"It's common sense, really. Moon Clefts in front, Elite X-Nauts behind them, then basic X-Naut units, then Yux, X-Yux, and then Z-Yux."
"Oh! I understand now," Slice said, giving the order.
The Honor Guards had not moved, remaining fortified in front of the door to the next room. They made no reaction to the lineup the X-Nauts made, and still none when they were struck with X-Naut PhD potions and Yux rays. However, when another Honor Guard was downed, they ran forward, another Honor Guard taken out in the process. As the Koopatrols struck, the front line defense held strong as four more Honor Guards were taken down before they cut through the line and to the Elite X-Nauts, who were able to hold out until six more were defeated. The basic X-Nauts lasted a while as well, taking out five more. Now that the Honor Guards were inside the lines, Captain Slice ordered a circle around the Honor Guards. The remaining Moon Clefts and X-Nauts did just that, and the Honor Guards were trapped in the middle of the army, receiving attacks on all sides. All the Honor Guards were finally beaten, with only a single Yux lost. However, the major flaw of this idea was that the hand-to-hand combat units had been majorly cut down and there were only a couple dozen of them left. Despite this, they advanced forward.
Grodus, Pura, and Crump reached the next obstacle. It was a locked door where the lever could be seen on the other side of the door. The platform was also above water, and it appeared the lever could be reached by swimming under the door. Pura was chosen to do this, as Grodus was unable to swim and Crump wasn't trusted. Pura had the advantage of being a Yoshi, which can breathe underwater for long periods of time. Pura was estimated to be able to last a bit over ten minutes, which seemed like more than enough time...
However, when Pura dived in, she was immediately weighed down by her cloak, which she had refused to take off for this swim. It wasn't a huge problem, though. The huge problem was in the form of attacking Cheep Cheep. One bit her arm, and she retaliated by blasting it with a shadow ball. She fired more at the oncoming Cheeps, but in water, her attacks were slow and predictable, and the Cheeps avoided them with ease. She decided to just swim away as fast as possible.
Crump and Grodus were having trouble on the surface as well. Tutankoopa, who had changed his residence to Castle Koopa, sent Chomps after the intruding X-Nauts. Crump and Grodus were able to beat the Chomps easily enough, so Tutankoopa threw boulders at them. One strike pretty much took Crump out, but Grodus instead fired a time freezing beam at Tutankoopa, which succeeded in putting an end to his onslaught of boulders by freezing him.
Four minutes had passed before Pura reached the lever. She quickly pulled the door open and started to swim back, but the Cheeps were becoming more organized, determined to prevent Pura from escaping. They had formed a barrier of fish to block Pura's path. Having little time left, Pura fired a slow-moving dark beam at the Cheeps, who broke apart long enough to avoid it before reforming the barrier again. Pura fired a second beam, this time following beside it. When it got to the Cheeps, they moved, and Pura squeezed through, though she recieved a few bites. The Cheeps gave chase, only for a few to be struck with the dark beam. Pura continued swimming until she reached the surface, no longer having any interference besides the occasional Jelectro, which made no attempt at chasing. She gasped for air as she got above the water.
"Good work, Pura," Grodus commended, helping her back onto the platform. Afterwards, they walked through the door, Pura ignoring the wounds instated by the Cheep bites.
The next obstacle for the X-Nauts was the Shy Guys, led by none other than General Guy. "Take 'em down, men!" the general ordered as every type of Shy Guy from Sky Guys to Groove Guys advanced on the X-Nauts, who were mostly PhDs by now. Captain Slice went for General Guy himself with a body slam. General Guy took out a bomb to strike back, but Slice was too close and the bomb blew up on both of them.
"Give it up, General!" Slice demanded to his foe, drawing a sword.
"You're breaking the rules of war!" General Guy responded, unsheathing his own sword from his belt. They began battle.
As for the rest of the fights, most of the Shy Guys were taken down pretty easily, but the X-Nauts were losing a decent amount of units as well. Half the Yux were destroyed, Z-Yux being the only kind of Yux still plentiful. The basic X-Nauts were down to about six or seven, and there were half as many Moon Clefts and about 15 Elite X-Nauts. They soon defeated all the Shy Guys, however.
Slice swung his sword at General Guy, who parried, only to have Slice swing at him again and slice off the tip of the general's hat. General Guy retaliated with another bomb toss, but Slice used the hilt of his sword to knock it back and it blew up right in his face, knocking him out. General Guy was a pretty powerful Shy Guy, but without his tank, he couldn't last long.
The next room for Grodus and his followers was pitch black.
"Greetings, guests." The voice was Bowser's.
"Aha, Bowser. Come out and show yourself, we don't have all day," Grodus commanded.
"Very well." The lights were flicked on and they could see Bowser sitting in his throne, Ludwig at his right, Roy at his left.
"We finally meet again," Grodus somewhat greeted. "This will probably be our last meeting, of course. But it can be cut short if you give me the Crystal Stars."
"Sure, it'll be our last meeting," Bowser agreed, "but you won't be getting any Crystal Stars." He snapped his fingers and Roy and Ludwig walked forward.
"Pura, Crump, take those two out," Grodus ordered.
Pura wasted no time in firing a laser-like beam from her finger at Roy. It struck, creating a bit of smoke. Roy came out unphased. This made Pura fire a stronger, larger beam. This stunned Roy for a split second before he charged forward, punching.
Crump attempted to body slam Ludwig only to be struck in the face by his wand. After being struck, Crump grabbed at the wand and tried yanking it from his hand. Ludwig yanked back, created a bit of a tug of war.
Grodus stared down Bowser, who was still sitting in his throne. He formed some Grodus-Xs around him and waited for Bowser to stand. He did not. Since he refused to do so, Grodus fired a Grodus-X which Bowser effortlessly swiped away with a claw.
"Arrogant fool!" Grodus shouted, blasting Bowser with a lightning bolt.
That got him up. "ARGH!" Bowser stood up and quickly launched a fireball at Grodus, who sliced it in half with his staff. Bowser then charged at Grodus.
Pura was knocked back slightly, and wiped a bit of blood from her bottom lip. Roy punched her again, and shoved her back into the wall. Before recovering from the attack, Pura was grabbed by the throat and was beginning to be choked slowly by Roy.
Crump was able to get the wand out of Ludwig's hand. "Buh huh! Now let's see how you deal with your own magic!" Crump waved the wand and nothing happened. "Er..." He was soon slashed across the face with a claw from Ludwig.
Grodus fired a green beam at Bowser, which struck, but hardly slowed the Koopa King down. He slashed Grodus across the chest and blasted him with a fireball at close range. Grodus retaliated by smacking Bowser across the face with his staff. Bowser backed away a bit.
Slice and his men entered the next room, which contained a single Koopa. However, this was no ordinary Koopa. He also had many Yoshi-like qualities. He was basically a green Yoshi with rainbow hair, a spiked shell, and claws, along with the ability to breathe fire.
"A Yoshi-Koopa hybrid," Slice noted. "And who might this one be?"
"I'm Delrin Yoshun," the Yoshi-Koopa, responded.
"How wonderful for you. Now I suggest you move, before my army takes you out."
Delrin grinned and disappeared.
"What in the?!"
He soon reappeared in the same spot. "What army?"
Slice turned around to see three-fourths of the remaining X-Naut forces laying on the ground unconscious. His eyes widened. "Retreat! Now!"
"But Grodus said-" an X-Naut began.
What little of what was left of the X-Naut army ran off and out of Bowser's Castle as Delrin watched in amusement.
Pura was beginning to lose consciousness as the life was being choked out of her by Roy. However, the large Koopaing was soon struck in the back by a polygon blast.
He turned around. "Hey! Who did that?!" This distraction gave Pura enough time to punch Roy across the face with a fist full of dark energy. He let go of her throat and she dropped to her feet.
The blast had been fired by Crump, who had finally gotten control of the wand he stole. He had been aiming for Ludwig, but the Koopaling had avoided the blast, disarmed Crump of the wand, and knocked him into a wall.
"Now it's time to finish you!" Ludwig shouted, charging up the wand.
Grodus surrounded himself with Grodus-Xs and a green shield formed. Bowser swiped at the shield with a claw, but it remained firm. Grodus fired a bolt at Bowser and knocked him back, making Bowser take a deep breath and breathe fire all over Grodus, destroying the Grodus-Xs. Grodus swung his staff at Bowser again, but he grabbed it, trying to pull it form Grodus's hands.
Pura fired some energy into the ground as Roy recovered to punch at her again. Before he could, she blasted him in the face with a dark beam, sending him backwards and towards Ludwig. As Ludwig was about to fire, he was struck in the back by Roy.
"Hey, what are you-" Ludwig was interrupted as a dark beam came out of the ground and blasted both him and Roy into the air. They both hit the ceiling and came crashing down to the floor, unconscious.
"Woah..." Crump said, astonished. "How did you do that?"
"Dark spectral blast..." Pura responded. "I fire energy into the ground and it resurfaces as a beam later..."
"Well, cool," complimented Crump.
"Forget it. Let's just get the Crystal Stars." She was pretty much ignoring the fight between Bowser and Grodus and grabbed the Ruby Star placed right next to Bowser's throne. "Where's the other one?"
"Go help Grodus, fool!" Pura commanded, before pocketing the Ruby Star and leaving the room, looking for the other Star.
Crump complied and divebombed Bowser, forcing him to lose his grip on Grodus's staff.
Bowser noticed his odds were slimming and called for reinforcements. "Kammy!"
"We have the Crystal Star, El capitan," Crump whispered to Grodus.
"Good, let's find the other one," Grodus whispered back, and then aloud to Bowser, "We submit to your might, Koopa King. We will quietly leave."
"I think not," Bowser said, as Kammy entered the room and charged a spell. "You came in my castle, and now you won't leave alive."
Pura did not find the Crystal Star, but she did find Larry, Wendy, Morton, and Jack not too far away from the throne room. Regal had gone off to battle the X-Naut army."You again?!" she shouted at Larry.
"Attack!" Larry shouted, as he, Wendy, and Morton all took their wands and blasted Pura with a beam each. Jack also cut her shoulder with his sword. She fell into a corner and slumped down to a sitting position, her eyes closed, unable to take all the attacks at once.
"That was unexpected, surpising, interesting-" Morton was punched by Wendy.
"What is she doing here?" Larry asked.
"You... know her?" Jack wondered.
"I saw her in the sewers the other day..."
As they were talking, Pura stood back up, grinning sadistically.
"Oh look, the Yoshi's not dead. What a shame," Wendy said.
Pura held her arms into the air and began charging energy. It was draining the energy of everyone else in the room and taking the form of a large orb in her hands. It was called the Orb of Darkness. Pura charged it quickly and threw it at her enemies. It struck and all four were rendered unconscious. This attack, of course, had its own effects, and Pura passed out herself after laughing at what she had done.
The army, what was left of it, wasn't home free yet. Lemmy and Iggy had returned and were taking out more X-Nauts, the army itself still retreating as quickly as it could out of the castle.
Kammy fired her spell and Grodus raised a green beam at her and Bowser, freezing them both for a moment. "Time to leave, Crump." He took off, Crump following.
When they entered the next room, they saw Pura and all the others knocked out on the floor. "Crump, get Pura out of here," Grodus ordered as he saw something shining in a nearby room. He walked closer and saw the Diamond Star. He quickly ran into what was clearly Larry's room, took the Diamond Star, and followed Crump down the path through which they had entered the castle. They had no trouble escaping, aside from the Podoboos, and they met up with the army, which was down to less than a dozen units.
"Back to the base," was Grodus's simple order as he walked off with the two last Crystal Stars...