Hiding in between the trees, the four surviving heroes crossed the gardens without being detected and reached one of the entrances to the Plumber's base. The base was an installation which extended itself under a great part of the castle's property; its corridors leading to two exits inside the castle, and four outside it.
The metal high-tech construction, carefully designed by Jetray and Chromastone, was where the Plumbers could have training sessions, repair and develop improvements for their ship, stock retrieved alien technology, monitor suspicious alien activity on the vicinity, and do any other task related to their job. Also the base held their main communication device with others Plumbers' bases from around the world and from other planets or galaxies.
Once inside, some lights turned on revealing a long corridor which ended on a perpendicular bifurcation. The four rushed through the corridor, the lights turning on as they advanced, and turned right on the split path, bumping into Chromastone right after.
"Ouch!" – The rock alien groaned as he fell dropping the holographic screen he was carrying on the floor. – "What's with all this rush? My turn only ends in two hours."
"We're in trouble! Matilda's chasing us, and she already ate Rosalina and probably Jetray too." – Peach told him. – "You're our only hope!"
"Swampfire's plant? Is she really that evil?" – He asked surprised. – "But looks like you can ask Swampfire himself to take care of his monstrous pet." – He picked up the holographic screen and showed them a map of the base. There were five dots grouped on a corridor and a sixth lonely one on a room labeled as Engine Room. – "He's just came in using the basement's entrance. Let's go talk to him."
The group quickly made it to the place indicated in the map, but something was wrong: there was no sight of the methanosian on the room filled with generators and other strange devices.
"Strange, according to the readings, he should be standing right here." – Just as Chromastone finished the sentence, the monstrous piranha plant fell from its hiding spot on the ceiling, her mouth opened, right above the crystalsapien. He lifted his fists up in an attempt of counterattack, but he wasn't fast enough: in a blink of the eye the purple alien was entirely swallowed by the beast.
"NOOOOO!" – Daisy screamed and tried to go for his aid but Big Chill stopped her.
"You want to end up like him? Let's get outta here!" – The moth warned.
"To the weapon storage!" – XLR8 ordered and led the way.
On their flight, Matilda narrowly got a grip on Peach's leg using her other heads as whips. The group took a break to recover from all the running once the door to the storage room shut behind them. They didn't had much recovering time tough, for the main lights suddenly went off, leaving the place in complete darkness except for some emergency lights.
"Damn! She must have destroyed the engines." – XLR8 cursed.
"We need to get outside. We're like trapped rats in here." – Big Chill stated. – "Let's get ready for the battle."
"So we're fighting a plant that can spit fire." – Peach rolled her eyes – "Typical of Swampfire." – She said getting a Cryogen Pistol for a weapon.
"And unfortunately, she has elemental advantage against ice. So don't expect to take her out with just one shot of your guns." – The ice alien explained.
"And we need to defeat her quickly, before she digests our friends." – She sighed. – "No big pressure..."
"I'm going to fight the traditional way!" – Daisy said picking up an iron hammer.
"You'll get swallowed before you can even approach her." – The other princess disagreed while handing her the second Cryogen Pistol.
"We'll have a better chance If we attack by surprise." – The speedy alien said getting a Laser Gun for himself. – "We'll need someone as a bait tough..."
"Why is everybody looking at me?" – The alien moth protested.
A few minutes later the heroes were ready for combat equipped with ice-elemental weapons for inflicting the most effective damage. On the other side of the door, the monster slammed itself against the walls in an attempt to break into the room, and she only stopped when she felt a cold gust almost freezing one of her smaller heads; that's when she turned and saw Big Chill standing on the corridor while in his intangible form. The necrofriggian could guess, by the way the creature licked its own white lips, that he was going to be the main meal.
"You want a piece of me? Come and get it!" – He said before flying away through the base's corridors pursued by the beast.
As Matilda's rumbles began to fade out through the base, XLR8 and the princesses cautiously opened the Storage Room's doors, and quickly made their way outside using the closest exit, which led to the courtyard. The sky was turning to a lighter tone of black, very soon it would be morning and the more time they waited, the less time their devoured friends would have left.
The 3 heroes entered the tennis court, the place was still a mess due to the girls' explosive match on the day before, but it was still a good place for an ambush thanks to the bleachers. They got a hiding spot behind it and waited…. at any moment Big Chill would arrive with Matilda on his trail, and then it would be the time to act.
"Why is he taking so long?" – Daisy asked impatiently while taking a look on her surroundings – "Do you think he was…"
"Impossible!" – XLR8 interrupted – "I know him, he's not an easy catch..."
Meanwhile inside the base Big Chill ran towards a dead end. Matilda saw this as a great opportunity and shot some of her spikes on her prey. The necrofiggian quickly turned intangible and got through the wall, emerging again behind the monster.
"Hey! I'm right here! Don't you want to taste me?" – He provoked, before flying away towards the exit. When he was close to the exit door he felt a sudden pain on his left shoulder like he was being stabbed, and then his intangibility suddenly went out against his will. The moth alien turned his head and saw one of Matilda's spikes craved on his shoulder. – "Ouch! She got me." – He said removing the spike, a headache taking place right after. – "And, this was probably poisoned too, I can't become intangible anymore." – He looked forward. – "The door!"
"Something's wrong! He's taking way too long." – Peach broke the silence after a long time of waiting. – "I fear the worst..."
"Wait! I know Big Chill can do it!" – XLR8 argued – "He's not someone who'd let himself to be devoured that easily."
"Yeah, but… something could have gone wrong..." – She replied.
"Listen!" – Daisy warned making a motion with her hands.
In the distance, roars could be heard. The fleeing ice moth was losing altitude as the poison weakened him. His body was scratched and his wigs were slightly burnt, yet he made it to the tennis court. After a terrible landing, he struggled to keep himself on his feet and face the monster once again, his face filled with a defeat expression.
"He-help me… someone…" – He muttered and then closed his eyes when he saw the piranha plant reading the final blow.
"NOW!" – XLR8 shouted and jumped from his hiding spot while shooting his laser gun on Matilda's middle head.
Big Chill sighed in relief and let himself fall on his knees when the monster groaned in pain from the attack. The other 2 smaller heads tried to shoot fire at the speedy alien, but the princesses nullified the flames with their Cryogen Pistols.
"It's working!" – Daisy shouted as her target began to slow down and freeze. In seconds it became frozen solid. – "And now, with the ugliest one" – She said while aiming to the main head.
The monster soon became completely dominated by the heroes: her smaller heads were completely frozen, and the main head was slowly bending down as Daisy advanced shooting it with freezing rays while being covered by Peach's back up attack. While the girls attacked, XLR8 ran towards his partner and helped him get up. Matilda's head was now completely bent down and Daisy was sure she was about to collapse. Peach however noticed the creature's true intentions when she saw some flames escaping its mouth.
"DAISY! You're too close! She's gonna spit fire!" – The mushroom kingdom princess warned her friends, but none of them had time to react when the monster abruptly rose up her head and spit a giant fireball towards the sky. The flaming ball then exploded initiating a rain of fire above the plumbers and the Piranha Plant herself. – "Watch out!" – She screamed dropping her gun and taking cover under the judge's table.
Desperately, Daisy dropped her gun and ran towards XLR8 and Big Chill, but there was nowhere they could take cover. The first drops of the deadly rain were already reaching Matilda and the floor around her, the fire from the flames melting down the ice which took out the 2 smaller heads. On an instinct reaction, the kineceleran let go the wounded necrofriggian and tried to cover the 2 with his own body. He closed his eyes tightly, preparing for the incoming pain… but he felt nothing. When he opened his eyes he saw the moth alien extinguishing the flames with his ice breath. After the danger was gone, Big Chill's legs gave up due to the poison weakening him, but his friends could get him before he fell.
"Don't go dying yet, OK?" – XLR8 said joking.
"You won't get rid of me that easily." – Big Chill replied also joking. The feeling of having survived the rain of fire made them let their guards down, and they didn't see Matilda's smaller heads enwrapping around them.
When Peach got out from under the table, the vision made her panic: one of the smaller heads had caught XLR8 and Daisy in a bone-squishing squeeze, while the other held Big Chill over Matilda's open mouth. The girl tried to run, tried to scream, but her body didn't react. She stood there paralyzed, watching as the others were going to be devoured and she would be the next. Behind the monster, the first rays of sunlight began to illuminate the castle's towers. An object touched the princess foot, taking her out of the shocked state. She looked down and saw a tennis ball. Her racket was lying on the nearby floor. She picked up both objects.
"I hope this works…" – she prayed and tossed the ball up. – "Peachy Bomb!" – She readied her ability and her racket glowed in pink. She hit the ball with precision and it flew towards the piranha plant.
Matilda was about to drop Big Chill inside her mouth when she noticed the tennis ball approaching her face, and, in a quick movement, she thrusted her head forward and ate the ball, closing her mouth in a big evil grin. Peach's eyes widened watching the failure of her last attempt to destroy the monster; but for her surprise, one moment later the Piranha Plant felt a strong bump from inside her stomach, and her triumphant expression turned to a painful one.
The creature let go her 3 hostages and screamed loudly before exploding into pieces. Due to the explosion's impact, the parts of her body rained down all over the court. Rosalina and Chromastone were thrown away from inside the beast. One of the smaller heads rolled towards the court's entrance and it only stopped when it hit the feet of a shocked methanosian who had just arrived.
"YOU KILLED MY COMPLETELY INNOFENSIBLE PLANT!" – Swampfire shouted indignated.
"Completely innofensible?!" – A voice came from the place where the biggest head had fallen. The creature's mouth opened revealing Jetray inside it. – "Yeah… sure…"
The day after the incident was tiresome for everybody. They were all mad at Swampfire, and they had a hard time trying to convince him of what had happened; still, they all agreed that the least they could do for him was to take him back to the forest where he found Matilda and help him to make a proper burial for his pet. Jetray and Rosalina spent the day taking care of Big Chill who was still recovering from the poison; and by the middle of the afternoon Chromastone took the ship and flew the Methanosian and the others back to the forest where it all began to make Matilda's burial.
"I'm sorry it ended like this." – Swampfire said sobbing after burying what was left of the Piranha Plant. Peach tried to comfort him but without any success. – "You can go back to the ship. I'll just stay a little more…" – He watched the princess walk back to the ship with the others and sighed. – "At least everybody is OK." – He thought before getting up and going back to the ship.
In the middle of the way tough, something caught his attention: a blue flower plant, with some sharp teeth coming out of its petals. – "A Deku-Baba!" – He happily exclaimed and picked up the plant. – "Hey! You're not as dangerous as a Piranha Plant, are you?" – Just as he asked this a colored beam hit the creature transforming it into ashes on his hands. Shocked, he looked back to the ship and met Chromastone's angry face.
"Don't even think about it." – The crystalspien stated, and gestured for the other to go inside.
Sighing, Swampfire cleaned his hands and boarded the ship to go home.