Remember in that last chapter when I very confidently said this chapter would be up by the end of August? That was really funny, wasn't it? Goes to show that I should never adamantly insist on a release date again.
It's December 2019 at the time of writing this, (and January 1st 2020 at the time of posting!), so I'm a couple months later than expected, but even through my busy schedule I finally found the time to start writing again! Back in September, I entered a small piece to the Summer Art and Writing Contest on the FusionFall Universe forums, and what do ya' know? I won! I'm really glad to be one of twenty(-ish?) people to own the Pencil Pack in game and rep my story! My winning entry, Shipwreck'd, is canon to my "Roxieverse," so please feel free to check it out on both the forums and here!
FusionFall Retro has received many updates since the last update to this story, including new vehicles, more bank space, part one of the Time Squad content update, and two seasonal events! It was also announced that Retro will be receiving an expansion featuring four new levels and two new areas in the next year! You can learn more about all of this on the FusionFall Universe forums!
Sorry again for the wait, so let's start this chapter already. Special thanks to THE Magtongen for proofreading this chapter!
14 March 2044
It really seemed like nothing was going right for Earth's forces in the past handful of days. The invading Fusions grew stronger with every passing minute. The longer these aliens spent on Earth, the more they adapted to the land. Adapting to the natives... Within the two days following the Spaceport becoming an Infected Zone, five more locations suffered the same fate.
The Sunny Bridges Auditorium in Marquee Row fell to the Fusions the same day as the Spaceport, much to Dexter's dismay. Only a few minor injuries occurred on our side, but it still wasn't enough to save the auditorium. There had been no word from the auditorium's namesake, the famed Sunny Bridges, about his thoughts on the matter. Probably too busy protecting his music class in the next town over.
Galaxy Gardens was always known for its rich and fertile soil, despite being directly next to the heart of the Technology District. It was less commonly known for housing Lakewood Plaza outside the Tyrannical Gardens. While the Plaza was a typical hang out spot for superheroes collecting POW Cards, none of them were prepared to fight off the Fusions who ambushed the Tyrannical Gardens, leading to its demise.
The giant Fissure carved into Townsville Park during the invasion was finally walled off by the Infected Zone barrier orbs Dexter created, just in time to wall off the Zoo and Aquarium as well. The damage done there during the invasion made it easy for the Fusions to over take these areas for their own, as well as letting all the surviving zoo animals escape into the wild.
Even after all this, Townsville still couldn't catch a break. Just yesterday, the Crystal Gems were unable to save the large Bravo Beach Sandcastle from becoming a Fusion stronghold. The Infected Zone barriers even leaked into Beach City to entrap some of the boardwalk. There was even larger, more menacing Fusions beginning to roam the land, like a Fusion amalgamation of a wooden ship lurking around the beach.
How could Earth be prepared for all of this terror? How are they supposed to know which areas the Fusions choose to attack? What is their game? All of these questions and more cycled through Dexter's head. The boy genius sat in his lab, laying with his head and arms on a desk. His older sister, Dee-Dee, sat next to him, but on the floor with tears falling from her eyes.
"You know I didn't mean for something like this to happen." his sister sobbed.
"Shut up, Dee-Dee!" the genius yelled into his arms, muffling the sound.
A sniffle rang out from under the ginger's arms. The first time any sort of tears came from Dexter since the invasion. It wasn't like he hadn't felt the sorrow emotions he should feel during this time. These tears were completely different.
In attempts to answer the questions painting his mind, Dexter had an idea to revive one of his past experiments. A time machine! Though, when he used it in the past it didn't go so well, but he was older now. Definitely wiser than he was then. After a few tweaks, Dexter planned to send one hero into the not-so-distant Future in order to collect data to use against Fuse. The craziest part was, he almost succeeded. Until his sister entered the lab.
As per usual, Dee-Dee took a swaray into her little brother's laboratory, looking to snoop at all of his wacky creations. And, of course, press all the large, enticing buttons. Why else would he make all of these buttons if they weren't meant to be pushed!? However, Dee-Dee picked the wrong time to press any ol' button in the lab.
Dexter's time travel experience was in progress, the chosen hero quite literally standing within the time machine when Dee-Dee called out with her typical; "What does this button do?" The press of the button caused Dexter's machine to go haywire, sending his hero somewhere randomly across the timeline with no means of communication, and leading to the somber scene hanging in the lab.
"That boy could be dead, Dee-Dee!" Dexter snarled, lifting his head slightly. "Do you understand that!?"
"Why don't you label those buttons, idiot!?" she barked back, wiping her eyes. "This isn't my fault!"
"How many times do I have to tell you to stay out of my laboratory!" Dexter yelled, triggering his sister to pause her sobs. Before either of them could speak again, the door to the lab slid open, revealing Computress alongside their father. He looked especially Dad-like today.
"Greetings, Dexter." Computress buzzed, approaching the siblings. "My apologies for interrupting."
"Hey there, kiddos!" their Dad waved his hands at the two. "Your mother and I were spooked by a couple of guys who showed up in our house. Turns out they're looking for you!"
"Your father insisted entry, Dexter." the robotic assistance continued while Dexter wiped away the sorrow from his eyes. "As did…"
Computress trailed off, turning her attention to the doorway as three more bodies filed in. The first was a young boy with large round glasses, as well as a vest with a strange badge pinned to it. The second body was that of a much larger, muscular man, completely outfitted in a skintight gray suit. The same badge was symbolized on the man's uniform. The third body wasn't even human, instead being the slender figure of a robot who carried a clipboard. The lights and meter on the robot's torso blinked uncontrollably. The boy held his badge out towards the family.
"Time Squad." he began, his voice deepened to sound more threatening.
"Oh dear…" the robot sighed at the boy's macho attempt. "Please don't ruin this day any further, Otto."
"We gots some wacky time annonomals here!" the buff man called out. "We're here to investigate."
"Wow, Buck!" the boy laughed at the man, his voice now at its normal pitch. "Investigate is a big word for you!"
"... What are you doing in my laboratory?" Dexter grunted at the trio, his tears replaced by a look of frustration. Dee-Dee's tears still fell, but slower.
"In layman terms," the robot sighed again. "We're like special handymen, but relating to insistences involving the timeline."
"A Time Cop!" their Dad laughed. "Who knew my little boy would be in trouble with the law this early!" The Dad nudged Computress, who replied with a generic audio track of a crowd laughing.
"... Sure, a Time Cop." The robot looked down to the clipboard. "We've got an unauthorized passage through the timestream relating back to this location."
"Well, it relates back to a DexLabs." Otto interjected. "Larry 3000 here keeps us where we need to be, but he sent us to the wrong DexLabs twice! At least the second one just the wrong lab in the right timeline."
"Unauthorized…?" Dexter shook his head. "You don't need authorization to make a scientific breakthrough."
"Yeah, yeah." the large man named Buck grunted. "We hear it all the time."
"Mr. McPherson, we just need you to explain what exactly you did." the now named Larry 3000 buzzed. "Whatever excuse it may be. It seems this isn't the first instance of messing with the timeline on your record."
"It's no measly excuse." Dexter stood from his seat. "There are terrifying aliens invading the planet. I ran the calculations, I knew it was possible to access a point in the Future where the Fusions are losing." He glared down at Dee-Dee. "I was to use the info my hero would return with to help put a stop to these invaders, until my sister killed him."
"I did not!" Dee-Dee wailed.
"Now, sport." their father crossed his arms in disappointment, "That is not how your mother and I taught you to talk to your older sister."
"What year is this anyways, Larry?" Otto asked his partner. The robot stayed silent for a moment.
"2044." he finally buzzed. "The beginning of the Fusion Invasion."
"The Fusion Invasion!?" Both Buck and Otto exclaimed in unison.
"But that's not even supposed to ha-" Otto was cut off by the metallic fingers of Larry pressing against his lips.
"Hush, hush." Larry said. "Mr. McPherson, I understand these are trying times, but I'm not sure this is an offense the Time Squad can let slide."
"Offense?" Dexter's brow rose. "With all due respect… officers?" Otto excitedly nodded at the title. "I'm doing my part for my planet. DexLabs is the face of this war, unfortunately. I'm only doing what I know is right to better our forces."
"Without Dexter, Mandark Industries would have to take over as the main weapons and armor supplier for the war, which the company is not prepared for." Computress buzzed. Larry finally looked up to see the assistant, and stared at her for a moment.
"It's my fault!" Dee-Dee jumped to her own feet, pleading to the Time Squad. "Arrest me instead!" Buck and Otto raised their hands and pretending to push the girl away, while Larry continued to stare at Computress.
"We don't have the authority to arrest you." Otto shrugged.
"Fake time cops?" Dexter's Dad questioned to himself.
"Wait, no…" the boy looked to his robot ally making googly eyes at Dexter's assistant. "Uh, Larry…?"
"What…?" Larry muttered, suddenly shaking his head and coming to his senses. "Oh! Uhrm, yes. Time is a strange concept. There are certain events that are fixed points in the timeline. They must always happen, and nothing can stop them. There's a whole lot of everything happening in this time that's not supposed to be occurring!."
"I wasn't going to alter anything." Dexter scoffed at the Time Squad. "My machine is meant to simply place you at a different point in time." He gestured to the deactivated time machine. "A month! I only wanted to send him a month ahead, for five minutes!"
"We're just gonna fix the mess..." Buck muttered to himself, appearing in deep thought.
"May I view your machine?" Larry asked the genius, who nodded slightly in reply. The robot walked around the machine, staring at it intensely. He even pushed a few buttons, causing some lights to turn on. "Aha!" he exclaimed.
"I didn't realize viewing meant touching in your time." Dexter grunted at the sight.
"The subject of your experiment was displaced to the 14 of March in the year 2045." Larry continued to speak, still messing with the time machine. Dexter's glare faded into shock. "One year from today's current date."
"... Well, then I should be able to use that information to bring him bac-" Dexter began to speak, only to be cut off by a wag of Larry's robotic finger.
"You will do no such thing!" the robot buzzed at the boy. "Or anything else time related!"
"Not unless you want me to put you in handcuffs!" Buck chuckled.
"We don't have handcuffs!" Otto sighed.
"I cannot sit idly by while someone is in danger because of my doings." Dexter's gloved fist clenched as he spoke.
"You won't be idle, as you have those Fusions to deal with." Larry nodded to him, moving to stand next to Otto and Buck once again. "Officer Tuddrussel, Agent Osworth, and I will deal with restoring the timeline. It is our job, after all."
"... And then what?" Dexter asked after a moment of silence. "You bring him back and then slap your punishment onto me?"
"We know the Fusion Invasion is going to bring some crazy ideas and plans." Larry 3000 started. "Like your little time machine. If we had any authority to, a punishment would indeed come after we restore the timeline. This year, you're safe… Unless you do something like this aga-"
The sound of Dexter's time machine roaring to life doesn't allow Larry 3000 to finish his thought, but draws the attention of everyone in the lab towards it. In fact, both Dexter's and Dee-Dee's jaws drop to the floor at the sight. The machine displayed the date Larry pinpointed, quickly ticking down to the current date as a white light filled the room. A puff of smoke emerged as the machine's sound began to wind down and power off. Dexter and his sister raced to the door of the machine, followed by Larry not even a second later. Sure enough, Dexter's hero sat inside, waving at the group. Larry was the only one not too shocked enough to speak.
"Well now, this doesn't make any sense!"
15 March 2044
When Roxie was a young girl, she used to find the sound of rain to be soothing. Late at night, it used to help her fall asleep easier. A soft and peaceful rhythm… Those relaxing thoughts were out to fish today. Now every drop that struck the windshield of her mother's red hover-car made her want to cry. Fall asleep and stay asleep…
"Stop slouching, honey." Diana quietly hummed to her daughter sitting in the passenger's seat. The woman's car drifted along the dirt road leading through the thick of the forest, heading east.
No sound escaped Roxie's mouth as she sat up straight, adjusting her seat belt. A small sniffle emerged a few moments later.
"Mom, please." Roxie groaned, rolling her eyes to look out the window. "I don't want you to, like, coddle me right now…" Diana frowned at her words.
"You seemed pretty good the past few days." her mother sighed as she drove. "Even though you and Jasper lost that battle at the Spaceport, you were smiling when you got home. You even had a cute boy bring you home!" Roxie's eyes roll again.
"Let me guess, you're gonna tell me all about I must have a crush on the boy since he's the same age as me and we were in the general vicinity of each other." Roxie's gaze turned to her mother, furrowing her brow at her. Diana stayed silent for a moment. "Jeez, mom. Get with the times."
"... That's not what I was going to say." The woman paused, focusing on the road as she made a turn leading into a canyon. "I just hate seeing you be very clearly distraught."
"I know, I know…" Roxie sighed. "It's not your fault, mom."
Diana stayed silent for several moments. Of course, she knew it wasn't her fault that her daughter was acting this way. Just as all mothers are, Diana just wanted to be able to comfort Roxie, and say something that will make her feel better.
"You act a lot like your father, Roxie." her mother said to her with a smile. Roxie perked up.
"... My dad?"
"Chester always kept quiet." Diana began to retell. "Even when I was at my closest with him, he still didn't convey his thoughts well. Difference between you and your father is that you can show some emotion. You get that from me."
Roxie's mother giggled lightly at her words, but slowly faded to silence. Roxie thought about her father for a moment, picturing what it would be like if he was still around… Or what it would be like if she even met him in the first place.
"... I don't know a lot about dad, do I?" Roxie asked. Diana smirks for just a split second.
"He's an enigma, for sure. I miss him everyday."
The hybrid teen felt her body heating up as her thoughts raced. In fact, she felt like she had to throw up. Not vomit. Word-vomit.
"What happened to him?"
The dead air hung over the two much longer this time, only broken by a sharp exhale from Diana. Even the rain had come to a pause, and glimpses of sunlight began to trickle into the car. Roxie really didn't know a lot about her father, and it wasn't like her mother was trying to hide the stories from her. Roxie just never asked, but Diana prepared for this conversation for years.
"Well, sweetheart…" her mother forced a snicker. "It's kind of complicated… You know I met Chester about two years after Jasper's father passed, and got married almost instantly. I never believed in love at first sight before him. One look at your father and I instantly felt all the emotions I took years to develop for your brother's dad."
"Yeah, and Jasper took his last name?" Roxie asked.
"Chester legally adopted Jasper after we were married for a year. He was such a great father. It made me feel safe once we became pregnant with you later on…" The woman let out a long sigh. "Since Chester was half-Arachnichimp, he had a lot of people who were, for lack of a better term, interested in him and his make up. He had six spiderlegs on his back like your four, and it wasn't as common for hybrids to be walking around back then."
"For as long as I knew him, Chester always had this strange group follow him and keep an eye on him. At first, I thought the Renaissance fair came into town since they all looked like medieval knights, but it soon became apparent Chester and these Knights were enemies… One time a pair of them tried to kidnap him while we were out in town…"
"My dad had an entire gang of stalkers…?" Roxie raised her brow.
"I wish I could've found out more about them." Diana shrugged her shoulders lightly. "I've always simply assumed they were interested in his alien side… And then I always assumed they were the ones to finally get him to leave."
"You mean when he died?"
"No, Roxie…" Diana broke off, tears welling up in her eyes. She wiped them away and collected herself quickly. "Roxanne, your father left me when I was six months pregnant with you, I've told you that before."
"Well, yeah…" Roxie shuffled in her seat. "But he died around the same time, right?"
"Two years later." Roxie's mother tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. "I figured those Knights finally convinced him to join with them, but I think it ended poorly. His body was found in Bellwood..."
"His body!?" Roxie almost wanted to laugh at the revelation. "He was murdered?"
"That's what it all looked like." Diana frowned. "Even after he broke my heart, I still cried when I found out. Cried like a baby. I never stopped loving Jasper's father, and I am grateful everyday for having him in my life and having Jasper, but Chester was my one."
"He used to call me this silly name all the time." Diana continued, her frown slowly growing into a smile. "I was 'Kotomi,' all the time, no matter where we were. He told me it was a Japanese word for beautiful, but I knew he was bullshitting me." She broke off into a hearty laugh. "I liked the pet name so much I just let him keep saying it."
"Kotomi, huh…?" Roxie managed to smile a little. "That's kind of cute."
"Listen, Roxie." Diana placed a hand on her daughter's lap. "Your father kept his emotions hidden. You don't have to be reserved with how you feel, and you can freely talk about it, when you feel like it of course. But you don't have to be alone. Chester never realized that."
Roxie looked to her mother, who took her eyes off the road for just a moment to share a smile with her daughter. Diana returned her focus, as well as putting both hands back on the wheel. Their hover-car passed by a wooden sign reading; "Welcome to Nowhere. Population: 4." The number four was painted onto a separate piece of wood that was nailed to the sign over where the number should be.
The canyon they drove through opened up to a grand and vast desert, with nothing but rocks and cacti for miles to see. The Nowhere Desert. There was, quite literally, nothing out here. Going north led to Area 51.1, a heavily guarded military base, and what is rumored to be the source of all the spooky things that happen out in Nowhere. A beach laid just beyond that, with a strange place called Bling-Bling Island past that.
Heading east simply revealed a whole lot more of nothing. There is a rumor a second military base is hidden out that way, but the only confirmed structure is the large, cryptic doors to the Caponata Catacombs. The Leeblossom girls, however, were here for a little place right in the middle of the desert.
Diana pulled her car up to a small farmhouse in the desert. It looked like it had been built hundreds of years ago, but still held up well. A barn sat next to the house, but looked to be built sometime after the home. Just outside the barn was an old, rusty pick-up truck, which Diana parked next to. The hover-car came to a rest on the ground before Roxie and her mother stepped out and look to the house.
"... Why are we at your parent's house?" Roxie asked her mom, holding a hand and a spiderleg slightly above her eyes to block the sun.
"Is it a bad time to see your grandparents?" Diana rolled her eyes, walking up to the home. "It's been a stressful week, Roxie. They'd appreciate seeing you." She gave a small knock on the screen door as Roxie stepped up to join her. A dog instantly started to bark.
"Stupid dog!" a raspy, irritated voice yelled inside the house. "Shut up! Shut up!" The barking grew quiet as the door swung open, revealing an old man with a very prominent underbite. "Diana?"
"Sorry to show up unannounced!" Diana laughed at her father. "Can we come in?"
"Are you kiddin' me, girl?" the man furrowed his brow. "Of course, you can!" he continued, suddenly, and seemingly out-of-character, cheery. "Muriel! Diana's here!"
"Oh goodness!" a soft voice called from the kitchen. An elderly and slightly robust woman walked into the archway between the kitchen and living room as Diana and Roxie walk inside. "Oh, my favorite little girls are here!" she cheered in a thick Scottish accent.
"Sorry I didn't call first, mom." Diana waved at her mother, Muriel.
"Well, that's quite alright, dear." Muriel smiled. "Come in, I was just starting lunch. Oh, Eustace, pull up a chair at the table for them."
"Yeah, yeah." the man, now named Eustace, said to his wife. He walked over and gave Diana a hug before looking to Roxie, who gave him a hug. "How's my little monkey?"
"Hey, grandpa…" Roxie sheepishly peeped, blushing at her grandfather's nickname for her. "I'm doing ok enough."
Roxie's relationship with her grandparents was pretty normal. Muriel and Eustace Bagge have always lived out in the middle of Nowhere, and they don't venture into the city often, so Roxie didn't see them too much. Every holiday, every birthday, and of course, random visits throughout the year. She loved her grandparents, but Roxie was always more excited to see someone else in Nowhere.
"Roxie!" a strange voice called out. A small, pink dog suddenly scrambled down the stairs and colliding with Roxie's feet. She kneeled down to pet him.
"Hey, Courage!" she laughed as she rubbed his fur. The dog stood back on his hind legs, beginning to point and blabber incoherently.
"Huh-ba! Hooga-baha-ba-b-baa-guh-a-huh!" he howled, seemingly making himself look like Eustace, and then Planet Fusion, and then some other monstrous figure. Roxie blinked at him, then patted his head.
"Oh, you're so cute!" she chuckled before standing back up, picking him up in her arms. Courage sighed and shook his head, but was content with being in Roxie's arms.
"Roxie, deary?" Muriel called out to her granddaughter. "Why don't you head upstairs? Alice is probably in her room."
"... As in cousin Alice?" Roxie asked. Diana took a seat at the kitchen table, while Eustace returned to his chair in the living room.
"Yes, Alice is going to be staying with them for a while." Diana trailed off looking to her mother, who's cheery demeanor instantly switched to sorrow.
"You remember Alice's mother, Gale? My sister?" Muriel asked her granddaughter. Roxie nodded. "Unfortunately, nobody has seen her since the invaders arrived, and their home in Peach Creek was ransacked by the monsters. It's much more safe for my niece here in the desert." A sharp yelp of disagreement came from the pup in Roxie's arms.
"Oh…" Roxie shuffled in her stance. "I didn't know…"
"Gale is tough, honey." Muriel smiled. "I'm sure she's out there somewhere… Alice would probably appreciate seeing you."
"Yeah, of course, Grandma." Roxie nodded, setting Courage down on the ground. "Want to go upstairs with me, buddy?" she said to the dog in a teasing, almost baby-like voice.
"Oh jeez…" the pup whimpered, walking past Roxie and to the stairs.
Roxie always hated talking to strange family members with unknown relation to her, especially the older ones. Diana was an only child, so Roxie didn't have any aunts or uncles to give her cousins to grow up with. Alice Spacebyte was Roxie's first cousin, once removed, being Diana's cousin. She was taken in by Muriel's older sister, Gale, when she was just a baby thirteen years ago. Roxie and her were pretty close in age, but never really talked or hung out when growing up, despite living near each other.
Courage got along with both Roxie and Alice, and was excited to have the two here. Typically when members of extended Bagge family show up in Nowhere, they tend to be scary and off. It was nice to have some normal visitors for once. Courage was so excited, in fact, that he was already waiting outside the door to Alice's semi-permanent room when Roxie arrived. The girl used a spiderleg to rap on the door lightly.
"You can come in!" a young girl's voice called from behind the wooden barrier. Roxie twisted the knob and pushed the door ajar, letting Courage scamper in and up onto the bed.
"Al- Alice!" Roxie smiled at her cousin. The girl sitting on the bed smiled softly as Courage sat in her lap. Alice looked to be about a whole head shorter than Roxie, and her skin was pale, almost too pale. Roxie always just assumed her cousin didn't get a lot of sun. Her hair relaxed around her shoulders, pausing only an inch or so past them. Alice's natural hair color was a deep-space blue, which Roxie always found to be neat.
"I didn't know you were coming by." Alice said, waving her hand to invite her cousin in. The girls share a hug before Roxie plopped down onto the bed next to her.
"I didn't really know either." Roxie shrugged. "I wish it was under better circumstances."
"... Tell me about it…" Any inkling of a smile Alice had left faded away. A moment of silence hung over the pair.
"... Besides the obvious…" Roxie finally broke the silence. "How have you been? It's been awhile."
"Oh, you know…" Alice looked around her room. It was barely decorated, with only a few generic pictures of the family on the wall and Alice's things sprawled out on the ground. Clearly just a guest room that the girl was staying in. "... School, and stuff."
"School…?" Roxie shuttered at the word, recalling the day of the invasion. "Alice, you were at school that day, right?"
"Uh-huh." the blue-haired girl shivered. "We could hear the high school collapsing from inside my junior high… I had a test to take that day."
Roxie blinked her eyes.
"I had a test to take too."
Suddenly, and all at once, Roxie began to sob. A violent sob, to say the least. She threw herself back on the bed, crying into one of the pillows. Courage and Alice both look at the girl, unsure of what to say, and especially confused on what triggered this.
"Roxie…" Alice reached out, placing her hand on her back. Tears began to well up in her eyes.
"This is just perfect, isn't it!?" Roxie exclaimed, pulling herself off the pillow. "I'm so freakin' glad everyone cowers at grandma's house after big, bad things happen!"
"Sheesh." Courage barked. "Nice to see you too."
"Why did it take some grand disaster to bring us all together?" Roxie continued, her volume lowering as she calmed down. "This always happens! I want to be able to see my family just because I can, not because everyone is sad and depressed."
"Funny how life works, huh." Alice sighed. "I wish for the same thing. I wish I could be at home hanging out with you in my own bedroom… B-But, my mom would tell me I can't dwell on the past, and to move forward. It's hard to do it without her here, but she's right."
"I want to change things," Alice continued, "But I can't change what has already happened. But, we can change what is going to happen, Roxie. Y-You're already making a change! Aunt Muriel told me about you and Jasper joining the resistance."
"Even that isn't that special." Roxie shrugged. "I'm one of tons of soldiers. Not nearly as notable as the Powerpuff Girls or any other hero."
"Are you kidding me?" Alice laughed quietly. "If I'm any judge, I'd say you have superpowers. Not everyone can make webs and walk on walls, 'n stuff."
"Well yeah... " Roxie sniffled, wiping her face with her sleeve. "But that doesn't make me as grand as, like, Major Glory."
"Bu- But nobody said you need to be." Alice said, causing Courage to nod in agreement. "You don't need to be in the spotlight to make a change."
"... You're so positive." Roxie said before sniffling again.
"It's better than needing a pep-talk every other day." Alice shrugged.
"I suppose you're right…" Roxie sighed heavily. "I already had a pep-talk earlier this chapter anyways."
"Earlier this chapter…?" Courage muttered in confusion.
"And it's not like it isn't ok to feel like you are, Roxie." Alice rested her hand on her cousin's shoulder. "We're both… The whole family!... We're all experiencing rough emotions right now."
"You're so sympathetic." Roxie snickered, pinching her cousin's cheek playfully.
"I think empathetic works better here, Roxs…" Alice corrected, leaning away from the pinch, yet keeping a smile.
The two shared a silent hug, both failing to notice the ears on Courage perking up, followed by the dog rushing downstairs. They did hear the buzz of the old television in the living room, and break from their hug as the news report leaked into the home. The girls rushed down after Courage, pausing at the base of the stairs to join Diana and the Bagges.
The television flashed with images of Fusions marching in mass through a dark, ravished land. It cut to a shot of two large airships, one colored blue, the other red. Another shot of the crowd of monsters flashed on the screen before the face of a remarkably young reporter showed up.
"It's insane!" the reporter shouted. "We are live from the forbidden Darklands of the north, where an army of Fusions threatens to cross the sea and invade civilian territory!"
"Oh dear…" Muriel muttered at the sights on the television. "How terrible is that?" Courage heaved with a tired groan at her words.
"Dang aliens!" Eustace grumbled, diverting his attention from the screen to bury his face in his paper. "We ain't ever let wild beasts threaten us before! The one time these dumb superheroes take a couple days to beat the things, everyone flips their lid!"
"It seems the DexLabs and Mandark Industries Aircraft Carriers are both preparing to counter the army!" the young reporter's voice buzzed again. "Those things are weaponized!? Are those two old enough to do that!?"
Roxie stared at the screen for a moment, then closing her eyes to stand in silence for another moment. She looked over to her mother, who was already looking to her daughter with worry. Alice, however, looked to her cousin with confidence.
"I have to go." Roxie said aloud. Diana almost winced at the words.
"I knew you'd say that." she sighed.
"See!" Eustace chuckled. "My granddaughter's gonna take the bull by the horns, kick the problem herself! More of these young folk should think like that!"
"Roxie, deary, I know you're trained, but isn't this a little dangerous?" Muriel asked.
"It's all dangerous." Roxie said, already pulling her phone out to contact Jasper. "But this isn't my first fight now. And I'm hyped up after the pep-talk I just got. I signed up to be a solider in the war, this is what I have to do."
"Oh, Roxie!" Muriel smiled softly, tears welling up in her eyes. "Ju- Just be safe!"
"Duh." Roxie snickered, giving a hug to Alice, and then to both her mother and grandmother. "I'll be back in time for dinner!"
A majority of the citizens in Townsville didn't even know of the Darklands existence. Just another place of tall tales where only the superpowered dare to venture. In fact, Roxie herself didn't know what the place was until Bubbles told her a few years ago. This also meant Roxie had never been to the Darklands, let alone the site of today's battle; the Forsaken Valley.
Even with the danger lurking on the edge of the Darklands, the Valley was the safest place in the area. It was home to a snapshot in time, with prehistoric lizards and plantlife still thriving in this area. The DexLabs and Mandark Industries Aircraft Carriers are probably the most technologically advanced things to enter the valley in a long time.
Several of the dinosauric creatures scrambled for safety as the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Roxie rode in zoomed onto the scene. It circled the air before landing on one of the hovering carriers, Dexter's. The door slid open, revealing Roxie and her brother outfitted in their Bombergrante pink armor. Jasper chuckled loudly as they stepped out, patting his sister's armor on the back.
"You're much more prepared for a fight now!" he sneered, receiving a glare from Roxie in response. Two Plumbers hand the siblings communicators to place on their armor.
"If this turns into another brotherly lecture, I'm shooting you first." Roxie grumbled.
The deck of the DexLabs Carrier was bustling with Plumbers and KND operatives dashing from station to station, preparing themselves and the arriving soldiers for battle. Scattered cries from the masses of Fusions echoed from under the ship, followed by the gunshots of the resistance. The familiar pink and blue light streaks from the Powerpuff Girls paint the skies before jetting into the brawl.
"Leeblossom." Dexter's recognizable nasally voice rang in Roxie's ears. She turned to see the genius and his robotic assistant approaching her. "I'm glad you arrived in gear fit for a battle this time."
"And who am I to be so lucky to be addressed by the boy genius himself?" Roxie rolled her eyes.
"Don't be stooopid." he huffed in response, crossing his arms. "Your Arachnichimp abilities give you an advantage over other troops. It's common sense to ensure the safety of a valuable asset like that." Roxie rose her brow.
"... I understand what you're saying, but dude," Roxie almost broke into a snicker. "You could word that in a way that doesn't seem so… Dehumanizing?"
"Dexter is not very good with social cues." Computress buzzed happily.
"Hush!" Dexter demanded with a flustered look. "Ugh! Roxie! I am assigning you a battle partner-"
"My brother is right here." Roxie cut Dexter off, pointing to Jasper behind her. He wasn't paying attention though, and was being handed a large gun by a Plumber nearby.
"Clearly you're of his utmost importance." the genius sighed. "Look, it's not like I want to keep tabs on someone as rude as you-"
"Did my mom put you up to this?" Roxie cut Dexter off a second time, triggering a twitch in the boy's eye. At this point, Jasper had fled off to the fight already.
"Just fight with this kid! Don't kill each other!" Dexter cried out, turning to stomp away from Roxie. "Jeez, it's like pulling teeth to hold a conversation with that girl!"
"What kid!?" Roxie called out as Computress tailed behind the genius. Another fighter in Roxie's pink armor bounced past Dexter, greeting Roxie with wild wave.
"Oh my god, Roxie!" Amp, the rambunctious team partner Roxie had in the Academy, cheered in her face. "You would NOT believe the day I had yesterday!"
"... Are you kidding me?" Roxie grumbled, using her spiderlegs to push Amp away from her.
"Do I look like a boy who would kid you!?" Amp laughed, then pausing suddenly with a worried look. "Don't answer that." He waved his hands around wildly as he continued to talk. "Anyways, Dexter called me yesterday for a SUPER SECRET MISSION! And, of course, as a handsome young hero, I couldn't say no, so I made my way to Dex-" Roxie's armored finger pressed against Amp's lips.
"Can it, blabbermouth." Roxie barked.
"But-!" he muttered through the muffled touch.
"No buts!" Roxie sighed. "You talk so much, dude! We've got a battle to win… We literally do not have the time for you to act like this!"
"Right!" Amp muttered, pulling away. "Right, right, right. Of course. I'll give you the TL;DR later." The boy reached to his belt, gripping onto his ice-gun he had in the Academy.
"Just stay close to me." Roxie said, receiving two pistols from a Plumber. She, reluctantly, used her spiderlegs to shoot a web at Amp, pulling him to her. She held onto the boy, leaping from the ship.
"Woooo!" Amp cried out. "You're flying Air Roxie! Destination: butt-whooping!"
"That was sooo lame." Roxie groaned. She used more webs to swing herself down into the fray safely through the trees. Roxie and Amp rolled onto the grass, both pouncing up with their weapons at the ready. A few Fusions taking the shapes of dinosaurs set their sights on the pair.
"Oh! Lookie there!" Amp pointed to a charging Fusion. He aimed his weapon, shooting a blast that encased the Fusion's head in a block of ice, ruining its balance and crashing into the dirt.
"Nice shot." Roxie said with a complimenting nod.
"Just because I talk a lot doesn't mean I don't listen!" Amp laughed. "I paid SO much attention at the Academy!" He aimed his gun behind himself, shooting and freezing another charging Fusions without a look.
"Whoa!" Roxie blinked. "... Let's say we combine my webs and that ice?"
"Awe!" Amp's eyes almost looked as if they turned into two giant hearts. "This is exactly the type of teamwork and bonding I pictured in my head!"
"Amp!" Roxie yelled. "Middle of an alien war, remember!?"
"You're so aware of your surroundings, Roxie!" Amp laughed. "I'll follow your lead!"
"Thank you!" Roxie grunted, gesturing for the boy to follow as she pressed on.
Multiple Plumbers and KND operatives, as well as Academy trained soldiers riddled the battlefield, taking on Fusions both with their guns and up close in melee combat. Some of their guns shot multiple rounds, while other soldiers used rockets and grenades to dispense damage. A sonic screech from one of the Powerpuff Girls filled the area, knocking down a crowd of Fusions deeper on the field.
More familiar faces filled the battlefield as well, including the evil Mojo Jojo. The ape genius piloted a mech suit modeled after his iconic helmet, bashing through the aliens in his way. An army from Providence led by Rex Salazar mowed through the valley, using their empowered Nanites to lay down the law. Perhaps the wackiest additions to the fight, Roxie watched as the giant, floating candied ship of Stickybeard, the Sweet Revenge, arrived alongside the carriers.
A whole hoard of Candy Pirates poured from the ship's hull to join the battle, followed by the Urban Rangers of the suburbs, all outfitted with the latest in 2x4 technology. On the edge of ship stood Captain Stickybeard and the leader of the Urban Rangers, Rolf, both directing orders to their underlings to turn the tide of battle. A pig stood next to Rolf without much care for the fight happening below.
"You know, I could've told you all of those people would be showin-" Amp smirked before cutting himself off after seeing Roxie's glare. "Right!"
"Did you really need to comment on reinforcements?" she laughed lightly. "On your left!" Roxie shouted, shooting a spider web at the dinosaur Fusion aiming to attack Amp. The web attached to the beast's skull, causing Roxie to jerk her spiderleg down to pull the creature to the ground. Amp launched an icy blast, freezing the beast to its spot. A man with a ginger mohawk jumped atop the downed beast, stabbing it with a sword.
"A challenger approaches!" Amp shouted, pointing to the man. He leaped from the melting, dying monster, landing next to Amp and Roxie.
"You kids go back to the Carrier if you're going to have a conversation." the man growled, not waiting for a response before running off and swinging his sword to another beast.
"Somebody's grouchy." Roxie scoffed.
In the distance, Roxie could see more Fusions approaching, this time including the strange Fusion copy of the Samurai leading the pack, as well as two new Fusion doubles. A large, hulking deformed Fusion of Ben 10's Gravattack, who he used previously at the Spaceport, and a darkened red and green copycat of Blossom. The real Blossom's pink light halted in the sky as she noticed the double.
The Fusion Blossom jetted up into the sky herself, leaving behind a green trail of acid before she socked Blossom in the face. Amp and Roxie winced at the sight, beginning to rush forward into the fight. Blossom rubbed her face, glaring at the Fusion.
"You're not me!" Blossom cried, rocketing back to the flying creature and delivering a few hearty blows herself. Fusion Blossom took each hit before grabbing Blossom's fist on her final punch. In a strength that matched Blossom's own, the Fusion heaved the Powerpuff around, releasing her grip and sending her to crash into the Sweet Revenge.
"Blossom!" Roxie screamed from below. Her attention quickly has to divert to the rock the Fusion Gravattack hurled into the brawl. She aimed her spiderlegs upwards, shooting some webs to pull herself into the air for a moment. While gliding, she unloaded her guns below her. Amp followed behind on foot, freezing the melting Fusion Matter and seemingly ice-skating across it without a care.
Three new light trails painted the sky above the valley, matching the colors of the full Powerpuff Girls team, yet darker. The three lights split up, circling the Fusion Blossom in the sky before coming to meet her. They all hit her hard, knocking her clean out of the sky and barreling into the mess of Fusions below. Now static, the source of the darker lights could be seen, and Roxie scowled at the sight.
Snips, snails, and a puppy-dog tail. Mojo Jojo and Him's evil, gender-bent copies of the Powerpuff Girls, the Rowdyruff Boys, floated above the scene, all snickering to each other at the beatdown they just gave that Fusion. Brick adjusted his lengthy ginger hair underneath his red cap before patting his green-claded brother, Butch, on the back. The third Rowdyruff, Boomer, held up an unseemly gesture at the Fusions.
"Those three are helping…?" Roxie groaned with shock.
"You know them?" Amp asked.
"Know of them." Roxie replied. "They're losers. C'mon, let's keep going."
The Fusion Blossom took out a good amount of her own forces after being knocked down, but she wasn't done yet. She rocketed back up to fight the Rowdyruff Boys, joined by Blossom after recovering. It seemed the four bickered among themselves for a moment before bashing the Fusion together. Near them, two flaming figures flew by, hurling balls of fire into the Fusions. One of them diverged from the other, swooping down and landing near Amp and Roxie.
"Alan!" Roxie greeted, shooting a Fusion behind the flaming boy. He hurled a fireball past the duo, striking a Fusion and melting some of the ice from Amp's gun.
"I think we're winning this one!" Alan grinned.
"Stay focused now." Roxie sighed. "I don't want to get too cocky while I'm surrounded by the enemy."
"Oh, I'm focused!" Alan laughed, "We're just kicking some butt!"
A loud sonic screech echoed through the air, one much louder than Blossom or Bubbles was capable off. Alan, Amp, and Roxie all winced at the sound, covering their ears and struggling to even hear anything for a few moments. The dark blue light streak shot straight towards them as Boomer crashed to the ground in between the trio.
"Spoke too soon…" Alan murmured to himself in the chaos.
The three of them coughed as the dirt kicked up from the Rowdyruff's crash, but they all scrambled to find him as soon as their hearing rang back into their ears. The blue Rowdyruff grunted, still moving after that crash. He struggled to stand back up, yelling in pain before falling back. Alan knelled over him.
"Are you ok?"
"Get offa' me!" Boomer barked, swatting his arm at the Pyronite hybrid. The edge of Boomer's long-sleeved black undershirt caught fire for a moment, but he patted it out on his blue overshirt.
"That looked like a rough blow-" Alan tried to continue, but Boomer wasn't having any of it.
"Shaddup, will you?" he grunted. "I'll take care of myself!" He struggled again to pull himself up, this time putting his awkwardly bent left leg to the crowd.
"Oof, that should not be lookin' that way." Amp said.
"That leg is totally broken, dude." Roxie added. "Here, cover us."
"I don't need help!" Boomer barked again as Roxie approached, leaving Amp to outstretch his gun and scan around them. Roxie shot a web at the boy's leg, who jumped in shock. "Ew! What the heck is this weird girl shooting on me!?"
"Relax, Rowdyruff." Roxie glared as she reached the boy, kneeling down and using her spiderlegs to wrap the web around his leg. "Hold your tongue." She quickly snapped the leg straight to finish the webbing-bandage, triggering Boomer to howl in pain. He kicked her away as soon as she was done.
"Thanks for the warning, freak!" Boomer yelled. Roxie laughed, pulling herself back up to herself.
"You'll thank me for real later." Roxie grinned. Boomer didn't say another word, simply flying off into the air at a decreased speed. Instead of rejoining the fight, Boomer flew to the Mandark Carrier. In his place, two strange suits of armor, one large and purple, the other small and yellow, joined the battle.
"Soldiers, come in!" Dexter's voice called through Roxie's and Amp's respective communicators. "Fall back to the S.C.A.M.P.E.R.s! Board the Carriers! We're going to finish this fight!"
"You heard the man, er, boy." Alan shrugged, beginning to hover above the ground. "Need a ride?"
"We'll meet you up there." Roxie waved her hand. Alan nodded firmly, flying off to the retreating crowd.
Roxie and Amp began their retreat as well, the latter using his ice-ray to freeze the path in front of them so the ice could creatively skate across the surface. Above them, the two new suits of armor unleashed their attacks on the Fusions, namely on the Fusion Gravattack that began to hurl large hunks of the earth at them.
Roxie reached out, grabbing onto Amp's armor and shooting a flurry of spiderwebs up to the hovering carriers. The hybrid began to retreat the webs into her spiderlegs, pulling herself and Amp up top to safety
"Roxie!" Jasper's voice called out from the surface of the DexLabs Carrier. The man rushed over to the edge, hugging his sister as she released her grip on Amp. "I saw you kicking ass out there."
"Yeah, yeah." Roxie hesitated to return the hug. "I guess I have to since you keep running off in the heat of battle."
"Hey, Jasper!" Amp waved his hands frantically. "Look, it's me, Amp! Remember, from the Academy?"
"Yeah, buddy, I remember-" Jasper sighed as his hug with his sister ended.
"I bet you wouldn't believe about the wacky day I had yesterday!" Amp laughed. "It was more, like, a wacky week, but-"
"Leeblossom!" Dexter's voice cut off Amp's ramble, signalling the boy genius' approach with Computress. "Glad to see you and Mr. Amp are still in one piece."
"For future reference, I'm not a babysitter." Roxie scowled at Dexter, who didn't seem to care.
"Please, please, let's get to safety." Dexter ordered. "Computress, instruct Manus and Corus that it's almost time."
"Certainly, Dexter." Computress buzzed.
"Are those the names of those weird robots that just arrived?" Roxie asked. Dexter confirmed this with a nod.
"Not robots, but I'm not at liberty to discuss further." he nodded.
"Hey, wait!" a stern voice yelled to Dexter. A white haired woman approached the genius, accompanied by a young boy and a large Cryptic. Anyone knew these folks as the Saturdays, a family dedicated to finding and protecting Cryptics.
"Mrs Saturday." Dexter greeted. "Zak. Fiskerton."
"Drew Saturday." the woman corrected, reaching up to adjust her large ponytail. Both her and her son Zak wore the same orange armor. "My brother is still fighting down there. Doyle Blackwell."
"Yes, we have several units still holding the Fusions back." Dexter sighed. "We're just about to launch our secret weapon."
"I'm heading down there to look for him." Drew told Dexter. "Make sure these two don't follow me." She gestured to Zak and Fiskerton, both of which give goofy smiles.
"I am not a babysitter, Mrs Saturday." Dexter groaned.
"Yeah, he sticks that responsibility on me." Roxie laughed.
Drew had already parted ways, leaping into the fray with the remaining heroes. Another blood-curdling screech rang through the air, but didn't deafen the crowd. This screech was the one of defeat as Brick, Butch, and Blossom combined their strength to finish Fusion Blossom. The three fall back, landing on the carriers.
"Hey!" Blossom called out as she floated to Dexter and Roxie, Brick and Butch leaving to look for their injured brother. "Are we all safe?"
"We don't have much time left." Dexter sighed. "We need to initiate this plan before the Fusions bring in reinforcements."
"But my uncle!" Zak interjected. "And my mom! What if they're in danger?"
"Bubbles and Tennyson are still down there." Dexter rubbed his chin. "The Samurai too. They'll ensure their safety."
"Is it time to initiate the counterattack?" a new robotic voice entered the chorus of voices. A chubby, transparent robot drifted across the surface of the carrier, resting next to Computress.
"Yes, Octus, we should go now." Dexter instructed.
"Wait, my mom!" Zak called out again, catching only Roxie's attention.
"Very well." the robot Dexter called Octus agreed, jetting into the valley at the command. Manus and Corus both turn away from their current targets, joining Octus. A flash of bright light washed over the valley, fading to reveal the gigantic, semi-transparent combination of the three.
"The Titan!" Amp squealed in awe at the sight. "You guys got the frickin' Titan workin' for you!? These are the best two days of my entire life!"
"Alright, guys." Dexter spoke into his communicator. "Time to show the Fusions we mean business too."
The Titan stood still for a moment. Even the Fusions seemed to stop and stare at its size. The Titan struck a battle pose. A sword appeared in the Titan's hands, which it used to demolish a crowd of the invaders.
"Mom! Doyle!" Zak cried, clinging to the edge of the carrier. Roxie stared at him, and Alice's words about being a hero repeated in her head. Reluctantly, she patted him on the shoulder. And then leaped off the carrier.
"Is she insane!?"
Of course she's insane. Maybe if she hadn't poured her heart out to her mother and cousin earlier, she'd still be atop the DexLabs Carrier, safe from the enraged Fusions. Instead, Roxie plummeted to the ground, the cries of her friends and protectors growing faint as she fell. She shot a spiderweb at a nearby tree as Titan took a step forward in the valley. Roxie used the web to try and swing herself to the dirt, until the Titan stepped onto the tree her web attached to.
As the tree crumbled, Roxie's web snapped. The girl's eyes grew wide as she shot more webs sporadically to save herself, but just ended up stumbling into the dirt. And hard too. The girl groaned as she laid on the ground, her body pulsating with rushes of pain. Roxie's ponytail had fallen loose, her hair-tie breaking during the fall. The only thing she could see when she looked up was the Titan towering over her as it fired a blast from its eyes.
"Down here!" someone called out from above. Roxie's eyes brought her to look at the other Pyronite from earlier, now clearly seen to be Ben as Heatblast. He floated down to Roxie, the Omnitrix symbol on his chest blinking. When he landed, the teen reverted to his normal human form. The light-blue trail of light belonging to Bubbles joined Ben on the ground.
"Oh my goodness!" the blue Powerpuff worried. "Roxie, are you alright?"
"Just get her out of here." Ben ordered, his gaze stuck on the Titan casting a shadow over them.
"Hey!" Roxie barked. "I'm a hero too!" She pulled herself off the dirt, using her spiderlegs to move her hair away from her face.
"I agree, but," Bubbles drifted over to her neighbor. "That fall look like it hurt. It's ok if you can still fight, I just want to know you're ok." Roxie grinned to her friend.
"Yeah, just a little sore."
"I said get her out of here!" Ben ordered again. "The Titan should finish off those Fusions soon. We have to clear the area!"
"Ugh, Ben!" Roxie narrowed her brow at the boy. "I'm not the only one still down here! That Saturday girl and her brother are still fighting too."
"Saturday girl…? D-Drew?" Ben asked, a faint blush settling in on his face. Both Bubbles and Roxie shared a tired look.
"Now is not the time to fantasize about your friend's mom." Bubbles grumbled. Ben quickly shook his head.
"Shut up!" he grumbled back. "Ok, so, Bubbles. Take her to safety and then find Drew."
"I'll help her find Drew, and her brother, Doyle." Roxie jetted in. She used her spiderlegs to tie her fallen hair back, using a web to secure her blonde locks in a ponytail once again.
"Fighting together will be fun!" Bubbles smirked, smacking a fist into her hand. "If I have Roxie to cover me, you can focus on helping Jack with the Fusion of himself."
"Fine." Ben groaned, twisting his fingers around the Omnitrix on his wrist. He smacked the surface of it, altering his DNA into that of an (clothed) Appoplexian, otherwise known as Rath. The feline alien pointed a claw at the girls. "Lemme tell you something, Roxanne Leeblossom! You better follow everything Bubbles says! We've got a battle to win here, and I can't have you putting yourself in danger!"
"I get it, Ben." Roxie sighed. "We're all in this together." Bubbles floated a bit higher, grabbing Roxie to hoist herself up with her.
"Go find Jack! We'll get the Blackwells." Bubbles said, sharing a nod with Rath. The feline alien lep off into the air, leaving the girls to fly off on their own.
Even with Earth's forces retreated back to safety, the grounds of the valley thrived with rage. The Fusion dinosaurs seemed to be getting bigger and bigger as they attacked the legs of Titan. A group of particularly large Fusion dinosaurs marched with furious roars, each one riddled with horns, spikes, and club-like tails. From the air, both Bubbles and Roxie could see Drew's familiar orange armor as she began to take on the horned monsters.
"There!" the girls cried out in unison.
Bubbles dashed down to the Cryptic-hunter, dropping Roxie off near the ground before rushing to punch one of the five spiked Fusions. Drew held up her sword, spouting fire from the ragged tip at another one of the pack. Roxie set her sights on a third one, firing her pistols at the beast until she noticed the mohawked man from earlier. He leaped over the giant Fusion, slashing his sword across it before sticking his landing.
"Doyle!" Drew cheered, waving her hand to gesture him over.
"Help me with these Horntails before we chat!" he called back, smirking to his sister before striking his sword back into the Fusion Horntail he attacked.
"Let's hurry!" Bubbles said before jetting above the pack of Horntails. Blue beams of heat shot from the Powerpuffs eyes to burn the beasts, one in particular ending up crispier than the others. "We need to start heading to the S.C.A.M.P.E.R.s!"
"And we need to keep these guys away from them!" Doyle retaliated, falling back to Drew and Roxie. Bubbles rocketed down to finish off the crispy Fusion, scattering the remaining four.
"Doyle, the one on the left!" Drew ordered, pointing her sword in the direction she spoke. Her weapon once again shot a flurry of flames from its tip, burning the Fusions as she swung her sword around to hit all of the group. Doyle ran the way he was ordered, throwing his sword as a projectile and slicing the head of the Horntail clean off.
"I'm bringing it back!" Roxie yelled, using a web to attach to Doyle's weapon and pulling it back to her. He snatched it from the air as it passed him.
"Nice trick." he complimented, but wasted no time to charge at the next closest Fusion.
"Three to go." Roxie counted under her breath, watching Bubbles hook her fist into one of the beasts. Drew and Doyle both targeted the same Horntail, leaving one barreling forward. The girl blinked, wildly shooting webs in front of herself. In a stroke of luck, the web attached to both the Fusion and the dirt, making it stumble onto its face.
The dying Horntails sunk into bubbling puddles of Fusion Matter, the one Roxie brought down still screeching as it melted. Roxie looked between the remaining two Fusions, debating on whether to aide Bubbles or the siblings fighting each one. She began to run off to attack, but somehow ran… Upwards? Totally out of her control, Roxie was somehow floating a few feet from the dirt.
"Guys!" she screamed, catching Bubbles' attention.
"Oh no." the Powerpuff muttered, noticing the enraged Fusion Gravattack stomping up behind Roxie. "Drew, Doyle, cover both of these!"
"What's going on!?" Roxie asked loudly, completely unable to turn her head to look at the impending doom approaching. Fusion Gravattack threw its arms up, causing Roxie to be flung into the air.
The girl screamed in terror as she stiffly flew upwards, and then feeling the Fusion's strange gravitational control fade. For just a moment, she took in the whole of the battlefield from her new vantage point. Few S.C.A.M.P.E.R.s remained on the ground, several others rocketing back to the Carriers and Sweet Revenge. Flying Fusions beat against the upper half of the Titan, as well as more trying to attack their legs. She even caught a glimpse of Rath with the Samurai, as well as the Fusion counterpart.
Terror set back in as Roxie snapped back to reality, beginning to fall to her doom. Her scream resumed, her body flipping around in the air. As she spun, she only saw glimpses of Drew and Doyle struggling against the final two Fusion Horntails, and some of a blue light trail painting around Fusion Gravattack.
What else had Roxie been doing during the numerous times she fell into the valley today? Two of her spiderlegs took aim at a tree, shooting webs to attach to its trunk. Her weight pulled against the webs, swinging her around to start to land safely. She aimed for another tree, attaching webs to that one and swinging in another direction. Fusion Gravattack had other plans, taking gravitational control of the tree and uprooting it to throw Roxie off course.
Roxie smacked face first into another tree in the valley, her armor taking the brunt of the hit, but still knocking the wind out of her. She slumped to the ground, the uprooted tree suddenly being flung at Drew and Doyle. Dazed, Roxie tried to open her mouth to scream and warn the siblings. Only the sound of the beginning of her thoughts escaped her mouth, pausing as Bubbles' light trail swooped in at the blink of an eye. The Powerpuff placed Drew and Doyle nearby Roxie, letting the weaponized tree crash into, and defeat, the last Horntails.
Another puddle of Fusion Matter was created by the dying monsters, but their final cries couldn't be heard over the volume of the Titan's sudden attacks. The ground itself seemed to tremble under the massive lasers and kicks the Titan delivered. Even though it was on their side, Titan intimidated Roxie. She was the size of an ant compared. One small step could crush her, without a bat of an eyelid.
A fierce grumble from Fusion Gravattack kept Roxie from falling too deep into thought. She came to, striking a battle pose, along with Bubbles.
"Roxie, fling yourself over him once he gets me." Bubbles looked to her friend, who replied with a firm nod. "Follow my lead!"
"Be careful!" Roxie called back, dashing after Bubbles as she flew towards the Fusion. As she predicted, when the Powerpuff neared it, Fusion Gravattack scowled and used its abilities to throw Bubbles' flight path out of whack. She went spiraling backwards, only for Roxie to shoot pass her. Attached to a stone behind the Fusion, Roxie retracted her web to pull herself over the monster.
The Fusion Gravattack acted as if it was going to halt Roxie's hurdle next, but instead yelped in pain after becoming the next target of Drew's fiery sword. She kept a continuous flame burning on the Fusion, allowing Roxie to land behind him and breaking Bubbles free of its control. Doyle smirked at the sight, running up and heaving his sword across the Fusion's face.
Once she collected herself, Roxie aimed her guns at the Fusion's backside. She took turns pulling each trigger, alternating to shooting webs from all four of her spider-limbs onto the monster's back. She took a firm step, making a rash decision to drop both her guns and, instead, grab hold of her lower two spiderlegs. After a breath, she began to heave and pull back in attempts to knock the Fusion off balance. Bubbles zoomed back into the fray, grunting as she sucker punched the Fusion, successfully helping Roxie knock it over.
It seemed like the Fusion knew it had been outmatched, beginning to melt into the same nasty puddle of Fusion Matter the rest of the monsters devolved to. Doyle jumped atop the beast, hoisting his sword into its body, just to make sure. A cry of pain vibrated through the valley, and the beast fully fell apart. The only thing that filled the air in the following moment would be the four fighters catching their breaths, the bubbling air pockets in the Fusion Matter, and the heavy attacks of the Titan.
"We need to move." Doyle broke the silence. "Now."
Nobody needed to audibly respond. With Doyle leading them, the four took off on foot, (aside from Bubbles, who floated a few inches from the ground.) The battle had worn so thin that, by now, only a single S.C.A.M.P.E.R. remained on the ground, clearly tasked with carrying Roxie and the other stragglers to safety. Near the vehicle brewed the other half to this final battle.
Samurai Jack, the one who Roxie saw fight at the Spaceport, wielded a long blade, clashing it against the copied blade of Fusion Jack. Roxie couldn't tell if this was the same Fusion from the Spaceport, or just a second copy, but it didn't matter to her. Rath was nowhere to be found, but a green-claded, bipedal wolf seemed to be fighting alongside Jack. The wolf barked, it's muzzle unhinging in four directions before unleashing a sonic howl to knock the Fusion down.
"Get to the S.C.A.M.P.E.R., Jack!" the wolf howled, but the Samurai paid no mind. As Jack leaped to continue the fight, the wolf turned to see the arriving group, and revealing the Omnitrix symbol on his chest to show he was Ben as Blitzwolfer.
"Nobody told us the Fusion gravity-guy was still around." Doyle grunted as he approached.
"Nothing we couldn't handle." Roxie smirked. Blitzwolfer shook his head, placing a claw on Roxie's shoulder.
"C'mon, we gotta go." he nodded. They all looked between each other, sharing glances of agreement.
The S.C.A.M.P.E.R. held just the lone KND pilot at the wheel, as well as an Urban Ranger waiting for the stragglers to join him. Blitzwolfer directed Roxie and Bubbles to the craft, his Omnitrix symbol blinking and reverting his DNA as they boarded. The now human Ben took a moment to oogle Drew as she boarded, then followed her inside. Doyle went to step in, halting as a cry from the Samurai entered the soundwaves. The mohawked man turned on his heel without a second thought, leaping back into the duel between the Jacks.
"Doyle!" Drew called out her brother's name, moving to chase after him. Bubbles held up her arm to stop the woman.
"Fly this thing up to a safezone." Bubbles told the pilot. "I can fly, I've got your brother."
Drew visibly conflicted with herself, struggling to end up deciding to trust Bubbles. The woman closed her eyes, opening them and nodding to the young blonde, as if to give her permission. Bubbles left only her fading light trail as she flew from the craft, the door sliding shut before the pilot began to lift off.
Both Roxie and Ben pressed their faces against one of the tiny windows lining the side of the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Drew hesitated, but also looked out of one of the windows. Bubbles made her way to the Samurai, who sat on the dirt, clinging onto his arm. He still held firmly onto his blade, but blood was starting to stain his sleeve. Doyle took up Jack's spot in the spar against Fusion Jack, their blades clanking against each other.
"You take that man to get medical help, right now." Doyle ordered, his tone signifying he didn't want to, or need to, discuss another option. Sheathing his sword, Jack grabbed onto Bubbles, who took hold of him as well.
"Thank you, young hero." the Samurai calmly nodded to the Powerpuff. She took flight, floating over to grab Doyle next.
"Go!" the ginger-haired man ordered again. Fusion Samurai Jack jabbed his blade against Doyle's sword, nearly cutting the man's skin. "I'll hold this guy off."
"I can't leave you behind!" Bubbles cried, trying to float down and grab onto Doyle's collar. This only turned the Fusion's attention to her, which Doyle noticed.
"I won't be left behind." the man grunted, striking his sword into the air to block the Fusion's strike towards Bubbles. She rose above Doyle a few more feet, blinking as he kicked the Fusion away. "If I let you take both of us, this guy will make sure none of us make it back."
"Young hero." Jack quietly said to Bubbles, still clutching onto his wound. "You must listen to the man."
"I- I-...!" Bubbles struggled with this moral decision. "I-... I- I'll be right back to grab you!" she blurted out.
"Just go!" Doyle barked, shaking his head and swinging his sword down onto Fusion Jack.
The KND aircraft circled around the air as it ascended, letting Roxie, Ben, and Drew all watch Bubbles' fly up to the top alongside them. The angle also gave the group a perfect view of the Fusion Jack's spar with Doyle. Just like a fencing match, the only hits the two connected were with each other's blades. Bubbles sped past the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. to deposit Jack uptop.
Bubbles was a superhero, it was only natural for her to want to save everyone. Yet, it didn't seem like she understood that this wasn't a situation where everyone can be saved. The Powerpuff's blue light trail began to paint the sky, rocketing to the ground. She wasn't nearly close enough to stop the Fusion Jack from disarming Doyle with his blade, and then striking the man's chest.
"NO!" Bubbles wailed suddenly.
"NO!" Drew shouted inside the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. at the same time.
Poor Drew would be spared from the following sight as the craft arrived atop the Mandark Carrier. Bubbles continued to shoot downward, channeling all her hardcore energy into one deadly kick and smushing the Fusion Jack. It followed suit with the other Fusions, melting as Bubbles stumbled to hold Doyle in her arms.
The Fusion struck him through his chest, blood coating his gear. The tears hit Bubbles at full force, and the Powerpuff began ugly sobbing as she tried to hoist herself and the bleeding man into the air. She kicked herself off the ground, picking up speed to take Doyle to the Carriers.
"I said I would come back for him!" Bubbles belted through panicked sobs.
Only a half-hour or so had passed since Roxie arrived back atop the Carriers. With the ground clear of Earth forces, the Titan was able to unleash a ground quaking finishing blow, officially winning this battle at Forsaken Valley… Spirits would be higher if it weren't for the commotion in the DexLabs Carrier medical bay.
Several soldiers sat in make-shift hospital beds, having (mostly) minor wounds being patched by volunteer nurses, and a particular Sheep, whom Roxie recognized from the Spaceport. The Samurai laid in one bed with his robes pulled off his chest. His sliced arm already patched up, but the same couldn't be said for Doyle Blackwell laying in the bed next to him.
Fusion Jack stabbed Doyle straight through his chest, leaving a deep and thorough cut. A nasty cut that left internal injuries up for debate. Zak and Fiskerton solemnly stood next to Doyle's bed, their father, Doc Saturday, standing next to them consoling their weeping mother. He had already lost a lot of blood by the time Bubbles delivered him to the med-bay… The Powerpuff knew he was already gone when she arrived, but she couldn't accept that. She had to help him.
"Bubbles, it's ok." Blossom struggled to find the right words, her own tears welling up in her eyes as her blue sister clung to her. Roxie and Ben sat next to the girls, now joined by Amp and Jasper. All of which sat with their heads hanging dejectedly, not a word to say. Roxie was almost crying as much as Bubbles.
"IT'S ALL MY FAULT!" Bubbles screamed into Blossom's shirt.
"... Bubbles…" Blossom grunted, kneeling her head down to rest against her sister's. "You know we can't save everyone…"
"This isn't like Buttercup!" Bubbles yelled, pulling herself off Blossom. The pink Powerpuff didn't know how to react to that. "I CHOSE to leave him!"
"We've made tough decisions our entire lives!" Blossom yelled back, triggering the eyes and ears of those seated next to them to linger. "No, this isn't like Buttercup. She didn't die for us to become weaker. She would want us protecting everyone as the Powerpuff Girls, even with the losses." Bubbles stared at her sister in silence.
"... Shouldn't this be easier?" Bubbles sniffled softly, her tone shifted and her tears less violent. "I mean… We lost our own sister… How do I feel like this when I've already experienced the worst…?" Blossom pulled her sister into a hug, her own tears running down her cheeks.
"It'll never get any easier." the ginger sighed, holding her sister tight. "It'll never stop hurting."
The girls continued to hug, sobbing with each other before being interrupted by Drew. The woman rested her hand against Bubbles' shoulder, causing the sisters to part. It seemed she invited the girls to join her family in mourning, but Roxie couldn't watch this scene any longer. The girl sniffled, struggling to unhook and loosen her armor's chest-piece.
"We didn't lose anyone like this fighting the Incurseans…" Ben sighed, adjusting his black and green-striped t-shirt.
"I'm going to throw up." Roxie muttered, tossing her chest piece to the ground and starting to wiggle out of her armored leggings, revealing she still had her normal clothes on underneath. Jasper stood, collecting her items.
"We, uh," Jasper stuttered, watching his sister stand up. "They've got rides back to Townsville. We should go home, Rox-"
"I need a minute!" she called back, stomping away. Amp jumped up to follow, but was stopped by Jasper.
Thanks to how close the DexLabs and Mandark Carriers were to each other, Roxie was easily able step between the two. Most of the soldiers celebrating the battle won stayed on the DexLabs Carrier, leaving mostly cleanup to riddle the surface of the Mandark Carrier. Mandark's own droids, affectionately named Mandroids, rolled along the dark metal deck, packing away weapons and rudely directing Plumbers around.
Roxie still wore her pink armored boots, contrasting with her street clothes, and they clanked loudly against the metal as she searched for a place to be alone. A Mandroid glared at her as she walked further away from the masses, passing what seemed to be giant robots that could be piloted. The only open space she found was already occupied. Sitting with his legs hanging over the edge of the craft was Boomer, the blonde tufted-hair Rowdyruff whom Roxie helped earlier.
"Oh." Roxie accidentally said out loud at the sight of him. The boy's head turned so he could see her.
"Yo." he whistled. He swung his stiff left leg up onto the deck, revealing it was still bandaged up with Roxie's webs. "Thanks for the help earlier."
"I, uhm…" Roxie blinked, taking a second to look around. "Ye- Yeah, no problem. Didn't I say you'd say that?"
"Who cares?" Boomer scoffed, rolling his eyes. Roxie did the same, turning to leave before Boomer spoke again. "Wa- Wh-" Roxie stopped, raising her brow in complete confusion as she looked back to Boomer. "Where did you learn to do that?"
"That." Boomer nodded and gestured to his webbed leg.
"Oh, that thing." Roxie snickered. "Well, um… I was probably, like, nine or ten years old." She started walking over to the boy as she talked. "I broke my arm while practicing using my spiderwebs to swing around, like that old comic superhero. I didn't give myself a web-cast or anything, but I broke the sling the doctor gave me. I thought my mom would've killed me if I told her I broke it, so I just made another sling of webs to hold my arm in. That's when I realized I could do a lot more with these things."
"... Cool." Boomer grunted, staring up at Roxie as she stood next to him.
"Yeah, um, in hindsight I should've just used the webs to fix the sling I broke." Roxie laughed, taking a seat and hanging her legs off the edge of the carrier. "My mom noticed the sling made of webs immediately."
"Uhm…" Boomer's face curled into a semi-scowl. "I didn't invite you to pop a squat, weirdo."
"Oh hush up." Roxie grunted, waving her right hand and a spiderleg at him. "I needed to get away for a moment. I just watched someone…"
"I, uh, don't care about your emotions, spider girl."
"It's none of your business anyways." Roxie leaned back, using her arms to support her. "And my name is Roxie."
"... Also cool, I guess."
Another prolonged moment of silence fell over them. Distant blurbs of people talking drifted to them from the other carrier, and the light sound of the ocean the valley fed into filled the sky. Boomer swung his leg back over the edge, whistling softly. He tapped his fingers against the metal, taking glances at Roxie.
"How does that whole spider thing work?" he asked, breaking the air. Roxie's head snapped to him.
"How does what work?"
"Are those spiderlegs real?"
"Real?!" Roxie huffed. "I was born with these."
"So you're part spider?" Boomer snickered. "Freak."
"Part alien. Arachnichimp." Roxie shoved the boy with one of her spiderlegs. "If I'm a freak, I don't even want to know what you are. Bugged-eyed loser." Boomer reached out, taking hold of her spiderleg and tugging it, and in turn Roxie, over to him.
"It's smooth?" he questioned, running his other hand along it. Roxie pulled it back away from him.
"Get your hands off me!" she yelled, holding her own limb. "Jeez, you pig. You could've asked first."
"Whatever." he scoffed. "Go find your own place to sulk then. I was here first."
Roxie simply scooted a bit farther away from Boomer, grumbling as she stared over the edge. The awkward tension sitting over this riveting conversation drove Roxie to decide to stand, attempting to give up and head back to the crowd.
"So… What happened back there?" Boomer feebly asked, Roxie's gaze jerking to him.
"Ugh, come on." the boy groaned as Roxie re-approached him. "Don't make me repeat myself."
"So you do care about my emotions?" she snickered, crossing her arms across her chest. "Big bad Rowdyruff Boomer has a heart after all."
"How do you know my name?" Boomer asked, watching Roxie sit next to him again, but keeping her distance.
"Dude, you and your brothers are highly public supervillains." Roxie laughed. "Your parents are two of the most notorious criminals in Townsville. You're a copy of my neighbor."
"Yuck." Boomer growled. "I get the picture. Are you gonna give me the sob story I asked about or keep being annoying?"
"If you keep being an ass then-" Roxie started to nag, pausing to release a heavy sigh. "I went back to the fight when I probably shouldn't have, to help get people to safety. And when I thought we were good, a guy… died... "
"... Heavy shit." Boomer nodded. Despite his disinterested tone, he seemed to look like he really cared.
"My closest friends all died two weeks ago." she continued. "During the invasion… Why am I hurting from this death? I didn't even know him, I wasn't even responsible... I already lost multiple people. When am I gonna be desensitized to all of this horror?!"
Roxie looked to Boomer as she finished her thought, awaiting his response. The boy blinked at her, staring her down without a word. He whistled again, scratching the back of head.
"Sounds like a pretty rough life." he shrugged.
"Really?" Roxie grumbled. "You want me to tell you my sorrows to say that?"
"I'm more of a listener." he shrugged his shoulders again. "I don't know what you'd want me to tell you anyways. I can't relate to that." Roxie hung her head with a sigh.
"Forget it, dude." she said. "It's good to just talk about it too… I'm not sure I really want you to understand what's going through my head anyways."
Boomer let another whistle loose, patting the metal he sat on and hoisting himself off the edge. Roxie jolted up at his actions, beginning to relax again once the Rowdyruff floated up to the carrier again. He hovered a few feet in front of Roxie, the valley far below him. His webbed leg stayed stiff as he folded his arms.
"My job here's done then." he sneered, winking at Roxie.
"You didn't do anything."
"I let you intrude on me and blab about your issues!" Boomer cried. "You said it was good to talk about it. Now I'm done talking to you!"
"Yeah, typical." Roxie laughed. "Good then! I'll finally get my alone time."
"Good then!" Boomer repeated.
"Yeah!" Roxie waved her hand to shoo the boy away. "But, uh, thanks, Boomer. I'm really surprised you'd listen to me like this."
"Well don't tell anyone about it." Boomer held two fingers up to his eyes, then pointed them to Roxie. "Especially those bratty Powerpuffs, or else. I'm not above hitting a girl."
"As long as you know I'll hit you back." Roxie smirked. "I could break your leg as easily as I patched it up!"
"HEY BOOMER!" a hoarse voice yelled from nearby. Butch's green light trail sped past Boomer.
"That's my cue." Boomer said, gesturing to his eyes and then Roxie with his two fingers again. "Keep it zipped."
The red light trail belonging to Brick zoomed by, and Boomer turned to follow. Roxie watched the light trails head south, and then faded slowly.
Too many thoughts partied in Roxie's head. She slumped on the metal deck, pulling her legs up so they wouldn't hang and resting against a block-like wall. From shocking everyone by jumping back into battle, Jasper accidentally ditching Roxie again, witnessing Doyle's heroic sacrifice, and even this strange, (and debatably out-of-character), heart to heart with Boomer, she couldn't decide what to focus on first. She lifted her hands, rubbing her temples and closing her eyes.
It seemed all her thoughts, combined with her extensive day, tired her out, as Roxie fell asleep right there on the Carrier. Luckily, Jasper had already been looking for his sister, and chuckled at the sight of her all tuckered out. Her brother scooped her up in his arms, carrying her off to return her home.
As always, reviews positive and negative alike are welcomed and encouraged!
I had lots of moments where I got stuck writing this chapter, which is why I didn't deliver on my August release promise. Admittedly, I don't think this chapter is my best work, but 'tis the life of an author. I already have the whole story, and eventual series, mapped out, and I think this chapter was a great learning experience for me to not be so strict with what I planned. I'm not sure why I'm rambling about my own thought process here, but oh well! I guess the point is that despite the rough time I had writing this, I'm happy with how it turned out!
And now it's onto the next chapter! Here's hoping I can get it up quicker than five months later this time! Please feel free to DM me on here or Discord with any questions/comments/concerns, and remember that the continuity of represented shows can be found in the footnotes of the first chapter.
Alice Spacebyte and Gale Spacebyte (c) AnimeGirl 144(FFN)/Kyra Xyrespace(FFU)