Bold = Emphasis/Commentary
Italic = Emphasis/small memory moment/transmission
 = Artificial Intelligence/Android Speech
The lights flashed on.
The camera was rolling.
The overcomplicated title cards ran through the broadcast.
It was showtime, and the anchor, realizing this, quickly shoved the sound engineer out of the way with his newspaper hands. He maintained a smile as bright as the spotlight shown on set. Like always, looks came first for him. The anchor turned to the camera, and a charming and handsome anthropomorphic newspaper stared him back. By god was he beautiful, and more importantly, he was camera-ready.
"Good morning, Elmore, I'm Kip Schlezinger, and this is Elmore News on Channel 6!" He spoke. "We are now in day 21 of the ongoing alien invasion, and at the behest of our network, we wish all families out there in our fine town a safe time as the lockdown continues. Though if your child has decided to pick up an assortment of weapons because some superhero initiated a global draft, we pray for you...but we really can't help. Tuning into other updates-"
"Stanley Whitfield here bringing you an emergency announcement concerning the recent attack in Marquee Row's Sunny Bridges Auditorium. Communications with our correspondents have been jammed due to interference by the alien substance, but we advise all residents within the district to stay indoors, as we have received reports of gravitational anomalies-"
"Tom, I'm standing here on the other side of the country to tell you that indeed, the grass is looking greener. But if you look at this patch here, it too is looking greener, but also completely dead. Back to-"
"-still no word on the ongoing efforts from what appear to be a coalition of superheroes formed by world-famous technology conglomerate Dexlabs, renowned scientist and inventor Dexter McPherson, PhD-"
"There's panic in the streets, looting in your stores, fusion monsters everywhere, AND THE PROM'S TOMORR-!"
"I've warned people about this for days and days on end, but will anyone listen to mean ol' Harangue? NO! Instead, our children around the world will decide to listen to an overzealous psychopathic brat that has the audacity to call himself a hero! Yeah, endangering our youth and drafting them into YOUR war is really heroic, Tennyson! THIS IS ON YOUR HEAD!" The angry man shouted. "DAMNIT, I'M MAD AGAIN! CHRISTINE, GET ME MY-"
"Joining us today are Dr. I.M. Weasel, and Professor Jonathan Utonium. Thank you both for coming." Quaint nods from both the scientists were enough to satisfy the anchor, and so they continued. "I think the world would like to know, most of all, what biochemical solutions are being developed to counteract-"
"Hank Anchorman here standing outside Mercury Medical Labs here in Ontario, where proximity to Terrafuser activity has made research of biochemical solutions proposed by Providence and related parties...very ineffective, inspiring a wave of distrust and disbelief across Canada-"
"Pardon me, did you say you think this whole thing is a hoax?"
"Of course it's all a hoax! Those nerds at those labs in Tech Square keep doing all kinds of "experiments", when all they do is play God!"
"But t-that doesn't answer my-"
"This whole thing is just some stupid ad for some stupid new product, and until we see actual danger, like a cabinet that tries to kill people in the streets, why should we believe any of those "safety rules" they spat out?!"
And almost on que, someone behind the interviewee started screaming:
"SOMEONE F###ING HELP ME MY CABINET IS TRYING TO KILL ME!"
A solemn man standed behind his van, kids distracted and facing away from the lens of the camera. "A Terrafuser landed on our house when the invasion began. Now our house is an infected zone, aid centers are almost completely booked...but...at least we have our car...that we have to keep driving...or it'll attract them..." He said. A pensiveness overwhelms him...
"This is Maxwell Shard reporting freelance. I'm not gonna lie, folks. Things are looking like the end of the world. And the panic on Earth hasn't made anything better. Stocks have dropped, quarantines are being enforced almost everywhere, and our children are being coerced to fight against this eldritch terror. But no matter how dark and scary the world is right now, you have to have faith in the people working to save us all. Whatever you may think of them, given everything that's happen, it's thanks to them that we have a second chance, and we're not going to waste it. I have faith in not just my viewers, but in each and every one of you. So I ask, to quote a poem I love, that you hold on, even when there's nothing in you, except the Will which says to you..."
HERO'S SQUARE - SECTOR V, BELLWOOD SUBURBS - JULY 16TH, 2014
The streets of Sector V were in absolute chaos. Children ran around, armed to the teeth, decked out in kevlar-lined clothing, running and hopping across the roads and chasing after the green gelatinous aliens that had been invading their world for a month now.
It was almost madness. They expected a new wave of Fusions every week, so this had come as a complete surprise. What could have possibly inspired so much confidence in these Fusions all of a sudden?
Jake MagnavoX couldn't pay nearly enough attention though, as he kept shouting to hold the line to every pack of fusion fighters he ran across. He was running towards a family caught in the crossfire. They were screaming their heads off, flailing their arms as a pack of fusion spawns chased after them in hops across the pavement. He too had his own pack of fusion spawns in pursuit, but he wasn't about to let them make the situation worse.
He called out to them. "I'M COMING!" They all turned to face him, huddled together in fear. They either had no way to escape, or were petrified with fear. But as he ran towards them, with a Providence-issue V-Charger in hand, their eyes widened not with more fear, but in a calm they didn't expect to feel. The apparent hero raised and fired each of the crowding spawns with single but calculated shots, his eye-scouter targeting each of the spawns' weak points, where to disperse the enflamed imagination energy, and where to break them apart at the ionic bonds.
It was a really handy tool.
And any of the spawns he missed took a knee and then a boot to their jagged jaws, before being put down by MagnavoX himself. His tailcoat flapped in dramatic fashion as he eliminated the last of the spawns attacking this random family. And mere milliseconds later, he turned around to finish off his own baggage, once again the scouter being quite useful.
Looking back, he was reminded of the immediate priority: civilian safety. "Get outta here! I-It's not safe!" He said, stuttering a little. The two men got their kids away from the scene as MagnavoX managed to get the fusion spawns off the family's trail. But he had to make a move too. Staying out in the open for too long wasn't good.
He spotted the rest of his team, filled with other kids his age and younger, facing off against a herd of Caterplugs, some of the new monsters created by the Fusions' continued adaptive abilities. Whoever left their wires exposed long enough for them to mutate into those things...yikes. The scouter made haste with targeting a precise number of Caterplugs, and MagnavoX switched out the V-Charger for a long-range Lightning Gun, courtesy of Con Carne Weapons Depots. Before he was even within 6 meters, he started firing on the Caterplugs and cleared a path for himself. "HOLD THE LINE!" he repeated as he ran forward, steadfastly approaching the rest of his team. Jumping over the patch of Fusion Matter in the ground, kicking whatever remained of the mutated collection of sentient wires.
"Hey guys! How's your day been?" He asked nonchalantly, all as rapid fire and explosions were heard behind him.
"MagnavoX!" screamed another kid. "I can't tell if we're winning!"
"Yeah, I don't think we're anywhere close to that yet!" the leader screamed back. "I'd just keep firing!"
"Even when those creeps get bigger?" the kid screamed back, leaning over to get a view.
"G-Get bigger?! Aw geez..." MagnavoX muttered, with a month of experience under his belt fighting these things, he was all too familiar with how the fusion spawns in Sector V tended to mutate. They sometimes formed packs, and assigned an Alpha leader that looked almost jumbo-sized. And with just their luck, that had just happened with the incoming alien mob.
A Supercharged Caterplug made its way into the backyard where they were cornered, it had dug a hole underground and rose out of the dirt like a normal caterpillar. It was always some sick irony when the Fusion monsters would mimic the Earth's nature. It was like the planet they were trying to protect was slowly turning against them.
He readied his weapons, as did everyone else. All they waited for was the command. And so he delivered. "Load out the BIG GUNS!" At his command, they all drew the biggest guns from the depths of their NanoComs. Sabre Cannons, Shuttleguns, an Electric Claw, just about anything they could barrage the lingering spawns with. With everyone ready, he gave the command. "3, 2, 1, NOW!"
With gritted teeth, and no hesitation, they all rose up, and fired everything they had. They stepped back, getting more range, but with their imagination-powered weapons, they were more than satisfied with how much fusion goo they were spilling.
"Aw hell, we're out of ammo! We need more!" MagnavoX ordered, noticing he and many others were out. "OSBORN! We need more ammo, dude!"
"Got it right here!" The African-American teen responded, handing MagnavoX and the others more rounds while he had his own Shattergun to use. Liam Osborn was quick to follow orders, a bi-product of being part of a secret organization, he supposed. His KND training was coming into full-swing here, though he never anticipated he would be one of few KND agents to actually take full part in the war, and it sucked that he wasn't even allowed to use his Numbuh callsign, but anything to protect the organization. He just wished that his friend Drake was on-the-scene with him. He rarely showed up to any of these battles, despite being totally ready to kick Fusion butt a month ago.
Though with these Fusions, their actions were erratic. They never followed a clear formation of attack. It was totally unpredictable what they would do.
Thus, it was completely unexpected for the Caterplugs to worm away after a heavy barrage of ammo. It looked like they were making a path for something...something greater than them.
Everyone was in disbelief. They had no idea what it was. They were paralyzed with fear as the war moved with ferocity around them. Liam was so unsure of what was going on...
...that he nearly missed someone sneaking up behind him.
Turning around, he fired a round from his S.H.O.T.D.O.G, stunning the green figure behind him. It stumbled, and the Caterplugs, seeing their apparent leader down, resumed their attack while Liam's team resumed their defense.
But Liam found himself drawn towards the figure. This new Fusion looked worryingly familiar. And once it stood up, Liam's grip became a lot more shaky.
It was Drake...or rather, it looked like Drake. But...something was horribly, horribly wrong; it made Liam question what about this creature did he ever find familiar. He looked smaller in size, his skin was a very bubbly light green, his normal attire looked almost inverted, and he had the deepest eyes, the most red eyes Liam had seen on anything yet. There were sparks of lightning that flew across his jaw that formed something akin to a scowl. His hands...oh lord, its hands were shaking insanely, shaking with complete and utter cruelty.
He...It was not Drake.
But Liam couldn't realize that so quickly. He studied the doppleganger's movements, the twitches became more spontaneous and accelerated. He was speechless, but not speechless enough to finally snap out of it. Seconds passed, and he was out of his trance. He drew his Shattergun, hoping to Numbuh Zero that he was wrong, that maybe his friend was under there.
And he fired multiple rounds. The Fusion Doppleganger was able to dodge all of them, sprinting towards him, and meeting the brunt of Liam's gun with a WHACK! The KND Operative kicked the creature forward, sending it toppling back and returning with another kick to the face, followed by another WHACK to what he assumed was its head. Another WHACK, and AGAIN; it got back up, but that wouldn't stop Liam Osborn at all, who was ready with the same Shattergun he used like a crowbar, and unloaded several toxic Hot Dog wieners right into its face, with stray Fusion Matter splattering all over Liam.
It shrieked in pain, and evidently was losing its form. Whatever could count for clothing, the mockery that the Fusion wore in inverted colors, was seeping into its green skin; hands were losing proportion, the abdomen became a large unarticulated mass, but that jagged Fusion jaw wouldn't dissolve. It scowled at Liam in the face of certain death.
Liam had enough. With the press of his NanoCom, he activated the appropriate Nano; he preferred Buttercup, and he could feel the might of the Powerpuff Girl charge through his cells and funnel into his Shattergun. He executed the Fusion at point-blank range.
Shock still permeated his entire body. Deactivating the Nano, he slumped over and sat on the ground. He looked up to see that his squad had gotten the job done. And even without super-hearing, they could hear the cheers around the suburb of Gallagher Commons. It seemed like they had won this round.
His squad turned to face him, and it was apparent that they took out the Caterplugs minutes ago. They had watched the whole thing. Their eyes were wide with awe, not unlike the family Jake MagnavoX had saved. And a mix of emotions was shared in the entire group.
They took a moment to collect themselves, panting, chuckling, some even joining the cheers of celebration. What they didn't realize was that the moment Liam killed the Fusion Doppleganger of Drake, the entire wave of Fusions suddenly retreated. Liam was more concerned of another thing.
And think of the devil...
Liam's head bolted to see Drake, in nothing but a bathrobe and sandals, looking lazy as ever.
"Did you guys win?" He asked, scratching his head.
Liam was not having it. "Dude, where the hell have you been?!"
"...taking a shower?" he admitted unashamedly, before noticing something on the ground. "Oh hey, there's my toothbrush!"
"I've been looking all over for that!" He said, walking over to where the doppleganger had disintegrated. And from the dying patch of grass, he picked up an almost disintegrated toothbrush, covered in traces of Fusion Matter. "How'd it get out here?"
Liam was still making sense of everything, but at this point, things were starting to come together. A glance back to MagnavoX confirmed they had to find a way to get this to reach the heads of this whole resistance. Dexter, Ben 10, the Powerpuffs, hell, the kid with the fiery hair from Canada if they had to.
Everyone had the same level of shock and realization, mostly motivated by how anticlimactic this whole battle turned out to be. "This just got a lot more complicated, didn't it?" asked an Urban Ranger.
"Pretty much..." MagnavoX admitted. "Athena, y-you said you knew a guy in Peach Creek who could let the right people know? Call him. In the mean time...let's hope everyone else faired better..."
And fair better they did.
Across the suburb, across the nation even, children of all ages and all caliber took to the streets as the exterminators, protecting their homes while Providence and the National Guard were being overwhelmed. No matter what the news said, no matter how they discouraged, no matter what sense their parents were talking, they knew they had to do it. No one else knew how to. And those that did would still need all the help they could get.
Luckily in the Gallagher Commons, known more widely amongst kids as Sector V, things had calmed down a lot since that Fusion of Drake had commanded an army's worth of monsters to everyone's doorsteps. And they could take solace in the fact that they saved a lot of lives, no matter how much the news demeaned them.
The Gallagher squad was now at Hero's Square, with MagnavoX's NanoCom awaiting a call. As they waited, they couldn't help but make small talk as repairs to Hero Square were already in progress.
"Hope you don't stutter this time, Jake."
"I-I won't, Ollie. Honestly, Athena tells me he stutters more than me."
"And that's gonna make it better?"
"I can try."
"Nah, I know you too well. This is gonna be like listening to a broken record."
"You still use records?" he mocked. "You haven't heard of downloads?"
"No, but the other analogy I wanted to use was too complicated."
A beep came from the holographic interface, and MagnavoX entered the call.
"Is, uh, is this Double-D?"
"Indeed it is! Uh...how'd you get this number?"
"Should've known she wouldn't keep her promise...so, is there something you need? Cardboard boxes from Fosters'?
"We wanted to-actually I could use some more boxes-w-we have a mission report that needs to get to the folks at Dexlabs. I'm sending it to you right now. Like, it's super urgent."
"Not just super urgent," Liam interjected. "SOOPER Urgent! And that's spelt with two O's."
"That is grammatically incorrect and unnecessary to specify since he already said super."
MagnavoX took back the conversation, not wanting to get too off-track. "Double-D, I've just sent the report. They need to read this. Can you get this to the right channels?"
"Of course I can, my new acquaintance. But I do question why me and not, say, Providence? Or the Kids Next Door?"
Liam interjected again, though not to partake in KND-mandated grammar errors. "Providence is a bit too bureaucratic right now, and the KND..."
The former Numbuh 633 had to pause a little, not wanting to give too much away, given the circumstances of his organization's disappearance, and that of the panic the world was facing. Ever since the second incident a month ago, the members of Sector V were noticeably absent, most likely in an attempt to return to the shadows after the entire organization was outed over a NanoCom channel. And when they disappeared, the rest of the organization followed. No word from Number 274, Numbuh 86, not even Number Infinity, who led the Teens Next Door, a very separate organization that only recently connected with the Kids.
"...they haven't shown up."
"Interesting. I suppose Eddy was correct. They are cheap."
"My, uh...m-my team disagrees, dude." MagnavoX stated rather coldly. He and his friends still had an apparent respect for the KND, more than likely because Liam and others explained the situation to them. But before he could continue, Edd had to go.
"Well, anyways, m-my greatest thanks for letting me know, Jake MagnavoX..."
"...I'll pass the message on to Dexter."
Edd hung up the call, satisfied with the report he got from Jake...
...and then immediately went to tearing his hair out...from beneath his sock.
"eeeEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHH! WH-WHAT'M I GONNA DO?!" he SHOUTED, pacing furiously and anxiously in his own room. He bit his nails, squeezed the sweat out of his sock into a puddle on the floor, and looked outside the window to face the Urban Rangers as they constructed their cardboard fortress for the Cul-De-Sac. None of them made him any more calm. He was having a mini-panic attack. "WHY COULDN'T I JUST TELL THEM THE TRUTH?! HOW THE HELL AM I GONNA GET IN CONTACT WITH FREAKING DEXTER MCPHERSON?!"
Wait, what?! He doesn't even know Dexter? OH NO! Edd, you LYING MORON! His habits as a Con-Artist overwhelmed him once more, and now none of this might work! How's he gonna get this to the right people?! The world depends on it!
It seemed like he figured it out himself, with a gasp. "(GASP)!" The lightbulb turned on in his brain. "My Bellwood Grant! SALVATION! I can tell them I was the prodigy who got the full ride! DOUBLE SALVATION!" he cheered. But with Edd Zimintator, whatever success he celebrated turned to a new possibility that he feared. "(GASP)! But what if they don't believe my report? What if they don't believe Jake's report? OH THE CRUEL IRONY OF A CON-ARTIST! I have leave my hopes to the cold embrace...of chance...and CUSTOMER SUPPORT! OH GOD!"
And if Edd knew anything, chance was hardly in his favor. He and his friends couldn't even scrape another lousy jawbreaker since that whole spiel with Eddy's brother. What chance did he have at saving the world!?
He continued pacing around his own room, sweat escaping his sockhead and practically soaking the floor, or at least it felt that way. He knew now what he had to do, but would they even listen to him? If that Tennyson boy really was a part of this superhero force, wouldn't Edd's call immediately remind him of all the times he helped Eddy TP this particular hero's house?
It...it was a lot.
A lot of TP, and a lot to weigh logistically.
What could he do...what would he say?
SIYENN CITY, CALIFORNIA - DEXLABS HEADQUARTERS, TECH SQUARE - JULY 16TH, 2014
He wouldn't admit it to Dexter, his closest friend, but he absolutely detested the white and blue palette of Dexlabs' majestic headquarters, located quite literally on the opposite end of the street where Mandark Industries' illustrious headquarters stood tall for far longer than his rival's building. It felt too plain, too simple, something about it didn't have the industrial markings of his red and black colors that his own products were commonly associated with.
He also wasn't a fan of the lack of spikes and antennae, though that was simply his personal taste.
Nevertheless, he made his way forward. The others were waiting inside, and Dexter had asked to bring as many ideas to the meeting as the attendees could. Mandark had one idea in mind, and not only did it involve a surprise appearance, he was well aware of the risks involved. He also was aware that this contact would be arriving a few minutes late, meaning he could arrive at any given time and make Mandark's pitch worthless for the heroes.
"It's not the worst idea." Blossom posed, garnering a nod from Dexter. "Maybe a fifty-fifty chance, though." And the nodding became shaking.
It had been a substantial amount of time since the episode regarding the Time Machine. Two months ago, a mere accident would turn out to spearhead the war. An accident caused by Dexter's sister, as per usual, flinging an alien hero a year into the future. And the heroes of Earth had fought Fuse's first wave to a standstill. Territories were quickly established, with the Fusions building small islands out in the pacific. Consequently, heroes were allocating contacts and resources on a scale undreamt of.
And in the case of Dexter enlisting his rival, that was one of them.
"Ah, Simon." Dexter said looking up, welcoming his friend indoors. "We were just discussing-"
"Sending them to the Null Void is a bad idea, Dexter." Mandark immediately, and proactively, responded. Far too familiar with Mandark's routine, the other boy genius only responded with a quick nod.
But someone else was still amazed at Mandark's uncanny precognitive ability. "How did-" Blossom was about to ask, but was soon cut off by Ben, who simply continued the conversation blissfully.
"Yeah, I'm with Mandark here. Like I said, sending them to the Null Void is the last thing we would want everyone to start doing."
"Dexter, I understand where you're coming from. This is not the solution." Mandark continued. "Since you clearly have the schematics, then you know a fair amount about the aforementioned dimension. The Null Void lacks raw material for fusion matter to assimilate. But that doesn't do the job of destroying the Fusions. It would only imprison them, and after that...it would only be a matter of time until the invasion starts up again."
"It's like you boys have a conversation in your heads...or maybe it's just you," Blossom remarked towards Mandark. "But...yeah, I get the point now. Besides, it's not like we can send the entire planet into it."
"Fair points all around." Dexter admitted. "But that is why I always have an alternative." He quickly opened a file, an image of blueprints modifying the Null Void projector. "Perhaps instead of sending them to the Null Void, we can tap into its anti-matter energies and redirect it with a surge of imagination energy."
"A reverse Null Void gun..." Ben muttered. "A...Vull Noid Gun."
"Is that not the expression?" Mandark asked. "I call dibs on that name." He then reached to speak into his NanoCom. "Computer, trademark the name "Vull Noid Gun"."
[Acknowledged.] Mandark's personal AI complied.
"Thank you, Computer." Mandark spoke into his NanoCom. "Dexter, I need to inform yo-"
Blossom chuckled a small bit, interrupting the darker boy genius, despite no indication she was trying to talk to Dexter. Mandark simply hated the noise. "As impressed as I am by all these weapon ideas, it doesn't shake off my issues."
"About that thing?" Ben pondered. "These fusion fighters are kids, and these days, being kids holds the same weight as you being a Powerpuff Girl, or me having the Omnitrix."
"Maybe if Number Two or Five were here, they'd agree with you, but still. It took you 3 years to learn how to use that watch responsibly, not how long it took you to get the hang of it. When me and my sisters' powers manifested, we nearly tore Townsville apart playing a game of tag. 10 years later, we don't make that mistake at all. But not every one of these kids is from the KND, or that neighborhood watch from Peach Creek. Some of these guys are holding a superpowered gun for the first time, and with the Nanos..."
"...not saying you're wrong, but it's not like they're completely inexperienced. I did reach out to Rex to get that Providence bootcamp arranged."
"And not many people got to go." Blossom countered. "I'm not saying your call-to-arms was a bad idea, but I think what happened after undermined a lot of it."
"In fairness," Dexter spoke up, "we did have only a month to prepare, which would have been far better than having a day, such as in that alternate timeline. But Dexlabs and Providence are prepared to take extra steps. Although I do agree with you about the-"
The boy genius was promptly interrupted. A repetitious beep came about on the NanoCom. At least it wasn't that blaring alarm from Computress.
Blossom, ever persistent in trying to be proven right, tried to nag Dexter, "...about the what? Dexter? Dexter, please validate my concerns here." Dexter could only raise a single finger, asking everyone to keep quiet.
He didn't say a word, but the goggles he wore widened with his eyes. He was clearly shocked by something.
He then hung up.
On the other end, Edd heard nothing but silence. And then he just...hung up.
But on the other end of the call, Dexter heard every word of the boy's rambling. With a glance to a concerned Ben and Blossom, Dexter's wide eyes shifted down into a frown, quite visibly behind his practically opaque glasses.
"Call the others. We have an urgent mission." He spoke. Everyone began frowning with concern, with Ben nodding in agreement, quickly understanding the severity of this report.
But Mandark remained quiet throughout the entire interruption. "I suppose I shall leave it a surprise..." he muttered to himself.
Edd was taken aback by the sudden loss of communication that occurred. But from what he derived, it sounded like the boy genius in Tech Square had taken MagnavoX's report seriously.
His pacing now exceeded the boundaries of his room, and he was making rounds around his home's living room. He was repeating to himself, over and over, "Oh...what would Mother and Father say?!"
And almost on instinct, the muttering stopped, and Edd made his way to his family's deserted kitchen. His parents left it so barren that he practically forgot their faces. The only thing worth remembering was the sticky notes.
And to his lack of surprise, none of them were useful. All the holographic sticky notes sent by his parents simply told him to wash the dishes, clean the floor, organize the pencil collection.
None of them were expecting anything like this, this alien war.
As the NanoCom began buzzing again, Double-D realized that he had to make his own decision here, a daunting task, of course, but the clock was ticking down to an inevitability.
As a green contrail of light blazed across the skies of Townsville and Siyenn, Buttercup was trying to regain her breath. Ever since the invasion began, hero work doubled, and despite how full of energy she was, it was a drag to be sure.
Luckily, things could settle down with a priority alert from Blossom. Raising her NanoCom, the hotline emoji in the center blaring, she turned it off and continued forward.
But as she did a barrel roll in the clouds, she was met with an unpleasant sight from high above. The Planet Fusion floating hauntingly in this bright sunny day sky. Just 2 months ago, she could stop a Terrafuser dead in its tracks, and had she been a little faster, she could have made the invasion a little smoother to transition into.
But it haunted her because she couldn't do anything about it.
Not even to distract her from her sister catching up.
"Buttercup!" her sister smiled ever cheerful. "Sleep well?"
"You left your PJs on my face again, Bubbles!"
"This morning?" Bubbles realized. "So sorry! Been working late, y'know, what with everything..."
"S'alright, I get being tired."
"You look tired yourself!"
"I was just there at Marquee Row. The Auditorium got closed off as an Infected Zone, and the Gangreen Gang nearly became green eggs and ham." Buttercup was explaining as they were then moving at the speed of sound, and Bubbles was all ears. "I did get to see their newest member."
"GASP!" Bubbles took in a great GASP of air as her hands covered her mouth in surprise. "You got to see Belladonna?!"
With a sly nod and a smug look, Buttercup smirked and said, "Yep."
"OH MAH GOD! Tell me EVERYTHING!" Bubbles shrieked ecstatically. "What's she like?! No one's been able to get a glimpse of her!"
"She's surprisingly not green...and she's really short. 'Also could do with a makeover." Buttercup remarked offhandedly, looking to the side in thought. "Never mind the rest. We're here." She gestured beneath the two of them, and indeed they had arrived at Dexlabs in Tech Square. They had both been instructed to enter the lab and meet with the rest of the team via the top balcony, of which would provide an easier access to the lab. They both touched down with a soft landing this time, knowing that Dexter would have an aneurysm if they broke more of his windows.
And this time, they made sure to simply open the door, no matter how much either of them wanted to crash into it. It was just so much fun.
But when they stepped indoors, Dexter and Blossom were apparently trying to get a panicked Ben 10, all while Mandark was lost in his own world.
"ThisisbadthisisbadthisisBAADD!" Ben was practically hyperventilating. "It's not even supposed to happen yet..."
"We're working on it, Ben. Edd hasn't finished-"
"He read the report twice."
"He hasn't finished analyzing it."
"Actually, Mr. McPherson," spoke the disembodied voice of another on a call, "I did finish analyzing it. I told you that I can't make heads or tails of it, see it's scientifically impossible for any organism of an ion-plasma relationship to-"
"Wait..." motioned Dexter as looked around the room in disbelief. Forces against must've been stretched thin, "is this everyone available?"
"Unfortunately. KND are no-shows, Johnny's preoccupied with his dog (plus, you said we don't want to call him), and Jack's standing by at Peach Creek's Trailer Park. He was...insistent that he stay." Blossom lamented. "And as for Otto, well, we know we can't call Otto unless for a greater emergency-"
"This isn't an emergency?!" Ben exclaimed. "Fuse has already started making doppelgangers of our heroes and that's not a cause for concern?!"
"We knew they could mimic the base-matter constructs of inanimate objects, and given what Future-Mandark's files had reported, cellular and organic imitation had to have happened at some point."
"Only if you look at the files, it's happening a month early!" he was having a very anxious rant at this point. "What the hell is going on?!"
"Waitwaitwait, doppelgangers? So Fuse is already making clones of us?" asked Buttercup.
"Apparently so." Dexter said. "Mr. Zimintator? Are you still there?"
"Please give an abridgment of what you had told us."
"I'm pretty certain the Powerpuff Girl already did so, and adequately!"
"Well, Mr. MagnavoX's report corroborates similar sightings online. They've been happening across the world; a catering company in Vlatava, a derelict orphanage in Mathura, even as deep as in the Amazon Rainforest. People mistaking identities, being attacked by family members, which could imply a degree of shapeshifting or perception filtering, but similar reports highlight erratic behavior, mute condition, and leaving behind an object once extinguished...that is to say if these Fusions were extinguished at all."
"Yeah," Ben interjected. "All these copies need are DNA samples, and they can become these corrupted versions of us. It'll have all of our powers, all of our weapons, and the longer they're here on Earth the more powerful they're gonna get."
"Define a DNA sample, Ben."
"Same variety as the Nanos. It's like the reports say; all they need is something we have around or something we touched, like a glove, or a trading card-"
"-or a missing sandal!" Blossom realized. "That's why Jack's in the trailer park, he lost a sandal there!"
"He put his sandal before a mission meeting?" Ben chuckled.
"Not to mention..." And then she paused...what for? "And...um..."
"Blossom?" Dexter inquired. "Is there something you've been meaning to tell us?"
"I..." Blossom said, blushing a little. How could she not mention it with the stakes so high? "I...may have misplaced one of my hair clips recently..."
As though the sun had imploded, everyone knew exactly what that meant...and no one was pleased. "SonofaBITCH!" Ben exclaimed vulgarly.
"Language." she mildly corrected with gritting teeth, much to his chagrin.
"So now we're looking for a Fusion doppelganger of a world-class 400 year old Samurai, and another doppelganger with an extra ingredient of CHEMICAL X?!" Buttercup exclaimed.
"It does line up with some of the latest sightings. Eyewitness reports say they claimed to see Blossom Utonium fly across the sky, with her contrails being a dark shade of crimson..."
"When was that report?"
"I read those reports...they were from 3 days ago." Dexter confirmed, leaving Blossom aghast with disbelief. "I assume you lost the hair clip about a day before that?"
"Sweet Sumo Slammers..." Ben muttered. "This is bad."
Mandark was now one to step in. "We have to calm down, the reports support one another, and this is simply another move forward on the chessboard."
"Says the guy who didn't see Jack hold off a Terrafuser all on his own!" Ben exclaimed, but not before correcting himself. "Well, I mean, I never saw it either, but-"
"And of course, the fact that Powerpuff Girls are basically as powerful as Superman." Bubbles mentioned discreetly.
"Ben is right to be worried. As far as I am concerned, the rest of us are under-reacting." Dexter replied to his friend. "I saw what Jack was capable of myself, and Johnny Test can vouch. Someone like that on the side of evil could accelerate the scale of this war against our favor." His mind was moving at kilometers per minute, forget miles. "Eddward, are you-"
"Please, you may call me Double-D."
"I refuse to call you Double-D. Edd is fine." Dexter said with a hint of disgust. What in the world was he thinking it meant? "If you're in Peach Creek, I need you to scout to the nearby Trailer Park."
"The Park n' Flush? As in where the Kanker Sisters are?! If I must object, I object!"
"There is nothing to object to when it is your turf, Edd." Dexter explained. "You do not have to physically attend if you don't want to. Just keep us informed about a man in a Sengoku-era gi. He should be visible from there..."
And with that, the sock-headed Eddward exhaled a sigh of relief, panting from having to hold his breath for so long. He wouldn't admit it, but Dexter was one of his heroes, and now he was on the verge of meeting him.
Still though, the danger posed by this turn of events called for a little initiative on his part.
Taking out his NanoCom, he quickly speed-dialed a contact of his.
"Salutations! I hope I haven't caught you at a bad time...oh...oh you're herding your sheep right now? Well...Rolf, how would you like to meet an actual samurai?"
Ben was holding his fingers to his chin, in deep thought and deeply recounting everything else that he knew. "And that's where they would probably be hiding, Dex."
"It would take forever to look underground for catacombs..." Dexter lamented. "You are certain there is no way to access these lair in a more traditional manner?"
"No, we can't do it without a Fusion Portal. They were these large platforms with green tentacles waving around them, like a...what're they called...right, an Anemone in the sea."
"Which is…problematic when there have been no reports on such phenomena." Dexter speculated. "What did you say the lairs looked like?"
"Like…well, like normal caverns. Nothing alien about them besides the Fusion Matter and Terrafusers." he explained. "Chances are they were dug underground by the Fusions themselves."
"So if they're underground, can't we just scan underground?"
"It's been hard enough to get Fusion frequencies on radar…" Dexter informed everyone. "All we can do at the moment is locate the ion trail involved with this doppleganger, but it would be difficult to attempt when we have no way to distinguish them from typical Fusion Monsters."
"Not for me, it would."
Everyone froze. That voice, that diabolical baritone sound that made children shiver, adults cry, and cities collapse. A voice so coated with venom it made everyone in the room sick to the stomach. They've been hearing that voice for a decade, on news broadcasts, on interviews, on trips to the supermarket arguing with the weird old lady at the cash register, but above all, the Powerpuff Girls heard that voice on a weekly basis. This evil voice that they once knew so long ago as a friend that merely used them for his own gains, and no matter how ridiculous his name was, chills crept up their backs as they turned to face none other...than-
"How did you-?"
"You were supposed to come an hour ago, you SIMPLETON!"
Everyone's heads suddenly turned back to face who said that, finding that it was none other than the older boy genius. Before they could say anything, he objected to their questioning. "Everyone. Stand down." Mandark commanded the tense girls. "He's here on my terms."
That did not bode well for anyone else, in particular Dexter. "I...COMPUTRESS?" Dexter shouted up.
[Criminal Identified = Jojo Zaius Mendhelson; AKA Mojo Jojo - Security Breach Protocol - Administrator Override; Astronomonov, Simon S.]
"What?" he reacted. "Mandark, what is the meaning of this?"
"You asked us to call over whomever we thought valuable." Mandark bluntly retorted. "I delivered."
A pregnant pause took hold between the two, intense stares of confusion and an unwillingness to relent. The atmosphere felt so thick it could be cut with a butter knife...like, for real, that's possible. It was only Bubbles who was able to dissipate the seed of distrust planted here.
"We are going to talk about this later on."
"I did try telling you earlier."
"Never mind about Mandark, you show up now to help?" Bubbles gestured to Mojo.
The simian stood undeterred, with a smug and devious grin as always. Clearly he had something in mind, something that would keep the heroes waiting before they could look for the Fusion Lair. "It was logical, as the logical events that I predicted came." Mojo responded. "Yes…I'm sure you have all come to realize that when you were all but children, my warning was directed to this very conflict, the conflict of which plagues the universe at large. And the steps that were taken…step by step, carefully, by me, has led to this."
"You didn't take care of anything. In fact, we still don't know why you're here!" Ben said venomously.
"You misunderstand…the steps taken to allow for our last minute resistance…all the work of Mojo Jojo…" the psychopathic primate chuckled. "Did it ever concern you how such a large celestial mass was not caught early? Five years pass, the light years in-between our worlds decreasing so quickly. How could your Plumbers, your Providence, your governments and their G3, ignore such an imminent threat?"
Horror was dawning on each of the heroes faces as quickly as the sun was setting over the skyscrapers.
Questions were being answered as the gears in their minds shifted at speeds of terror.
Dexter turned to face his rival, who bore nothing but shock as well. This wasn't something the primate supervillain had mentioned before.
Mojo...what did you do?
"And so humanity pays the ultimate price for their blind stupidity. They would not heed my warnings, of which I warned dire threats, so I blinded them further in revenge. If they would not take action, then I would make sure that I WOULD, I will TRIUMPH! My victory, of which I shall emerge VICTORIOUS…is upon us. Five years of espionage, blackmail, and the ultimate concealment will now lead to the defeat of Planet Fusion and the humiliation of GOOD! At the hands of NONE OTHER than MOJO-"
Before he could finish, a flash of green light towards him and a hand at his throat interrupted. Buttercup was clenching it into a fist now. It had dawned on each of them what Mojo had done. In his hubris, he risked the planet to satisfy his ego.
"Careful who you threaten, you wretched wench!" the primate supervillain wheezed out as the grip got tighter. But in an amazing display of confidence, Mojo showed no fear. 10 years of plots and schemes to destroy the troublesome Powerpuff Girls taught him a lesson in fear, and how to inspire it.
But Buttercup didn't back down either. "Give me one good reason I don't pound your face into a pulp!" Despite years of brain injuries to support Buttercup's threat, Mojo was still carrying that smug grin.
"Buttercup, release him!" Dexter pleaded.
"Why should I? You heard him!"
"Buttercup, we did." Blossom interjected. "He gambled the Earth to settle a score, and the five years to prepare are gone. But remember…"
"-I was there to see the Fusion Planet myself. I know his strategies, his moves on the chessboard."
"So let him go." she commanded. "We need to hear him out."
Looking around, seeing no point to this in such a tense situation, she dropped him, and Mojo simply cleared his throat.
No words were further said. All heads were now on the boy genius, and their looks at him for help spoke louder at that moment. In a hesitant position like this, one like Dexter looked around, making sure no one was making any sudden movements. This resistance couldn't afford to crumble on the account of an unexpected arrival, but he still needed answers.
And thus, a decision was quickly made. "We require time to discuss this. Confidentially."
Mojo chuckled. "I'll be in the other room."
"No you won't." Dexter coldly disagreed, pulling something from his own NanoCom on the back of his lab coat belt, a large spherical disk which he threw into the air, diving the room "You're not leaving our sight."
The usually talkative troglodyte said nothing, and merely lowered his head not in shame, but in scheming. The Girls wouldn't admit it, but his confidence today was terrifying in energy. As the heroes gathered together, Mandark was the one to break the tense silence.
"Well…on the positive side, I don't feel nearly as bad about accidentally sabotaging the EPC…"
"You've got another thing that'll clog your conscience." Buttercup shouted at him confrontationally. "How the hell did he get out of jail? Why is he out of jail?!"
"I bailed him from confinement when the War began." Mandark explained. Being a billionaire should have come to no one's surprise. What was shocking what the fact that he was bailed out on purpose. "He has been keeping to himself and helping me expand an alliance of our own."
"The relevant term would be assets." the darker boy genius explained. "The world is at stake, and I'd rather not waste any opportunity to consolidate power against this Lord Fuse."
"We get it, Simon," Blossom countered, "we really do. But after what he just confessed to doing, we would be insane to put any trust in him!"
"You just defended keeping him alive, and hearing what he has to say."
"That's different from teaming up with him, which is what you're saying."
"Mandark, he's the reason no one even reported Planet Fusion before it was too late." Ben said. "We can't have him with us, he could backstab any one of us at any time!."
"And yet he's also the one who has foremost knowledge of the way Fuse operates. He is a necessary evil."
"And what happens," Dexter was now speaking, "when it is no longer necessary?"
"Once we learn what he knows, we will send his primate posterior back to Fuddgate. But that is beyond the point." Mandark continued. "Between you and I, I am the superior mind, Dexter. But we can both agree that it is folly to overestimate our limits. We do not know everything, and he knows something we do not. We need him now."
Bubbles finally spoke up. "I've known him-we've known him-for ten years. There's always something in it for him. So Simon, what did he ask for in return?"
"Um…money?" He admitted. "I'm paying him."
A momentary pause of disbelief played out, with the blue Powerpuff raising an eyebrow.
"He's always broke."
"Can you blame him?" Ben muttered, earning a glare from Blossom.
"And you said you were recruiting other supervillains too?" Bubbles asked, to which Mandark nodded. "Run it by Dexter first." She concluded. Mandark glanced at Dexter, who was not paying as much attention to the conversation. He was deep in thought, holding his glasses to his nosebridge, processing everything.
Mandark looked back, understanding Bubbles' reasoning, despite that he disagreed with it. "I understand."
Just as he had said that, the Containment shield dispersed, with Mojo actively in on the conversation, and the room was now whole again…except for the table. That was cut cleanly in half.
Dexter looked at his conference table, split in the middle, singing at the edge. "Even when she's not around, my stuff somehow keeps breaking…" he lamented, before getting back on track. "Whether or not Mojo is here to help now, Ben has already said that the catacombs are inaccessible without a Fusion Portal."
"It is quite simple, and quite an effective solution." Mojo spoke up, "Your technology will help."
"How do you know?"
"2 years of study from Earth. I launched my exodus with the Sky Monkeys weeks before your first contact, and the Broccoloid engine we had recovered greatly shortened our voyage. We ventured the cosmos upon discovery of Fuse. We observed worlds that had lost, consumed and assimilated. It was in the dead of space that everything changed." Mojo explained. "We had made visual of what we had dubbed the Fuseworld, as I had deemed it a fitting name, closer to the Anur System and carefully we evaded them; and we studied worlds deemed by Fuse unfit for assimilation."
"Wait, that's new…Planet Fusion picks and chooses?"
"It seeks out civilization, planets teaming with life. But we postulated that planets lacking this would be invaded anyway for strategic value. This hypothesis was confirmed when we discovered evidence of Fusion activity on Jargon and Tamaran."
Everyone looked to Ben for answers. He was the Plumber in the room. "He's right…Jargon and Tamaran are dead worlds. Plumbers lost contact with them decades ago."
"And yet, they invaded a dead world regardless, but regardlessly abandoned it as well. We realized its objective was not to consume all matter. It was hunting for all living matter, and yet it exterminates life for sport. In our trek, we watched as entire races were wiped from existence, civilizations crumbled and assimilated into the Planet's collection. And then we saw. We discovered beasts from the dead worlds, civilizations once thought extinct and untouchable by Fuseworld, now collected in information and corrupted in the legions of Fuse."
"How do you know what species from dead worlds looked like?"
Mojo raised an eyebrow. He just had a whole speech about how he manipulated galactic organizations to his will. It stood to reason that he had access to the Plumber's lifeform registry, a thought that made Ben bite his tongue from anger. "Right…" he hissed through his teeth. "Go on."
"Fuse stockpiles DNA from across the cosmos, multiplying the forces of his army with every species and society he conquers. That is what he aims to do with your doppelgangers. They're here to eventually replace you in his image. But just as I had observed this…I took note of how some fought back. The technologies and the concepts are things I have since tried to replicate. But as the present stands…my parole prevents me from returning to my untouched volcano…and no one can enter due to high security."
"Sure they can't…" Ben said, his eye twitching. The Powerpuffs were also looking the other way, ever so slightly shifting in their stance. They weren't about to tell Mojo that they broke into his lab...twice.
"That won't be a problem." Mandark spoke. "Your volcano is off-limits to you, but I have since been able to acquire the necessary technology that you described in our initial meeting. I have it with me right now."
"But what makes you think Dex's tech would be better suited to work with yours?" Ben asked.
"The presence of the Dextronium element, as the element was not present before. The machine that can generate your Fusion Portals is already with me, I simply need you…and for him to give me mo-"
"Okay…we get it. You'll help us."
"One problem, though. Dexter's gonna have to come with us if we're gonna use Dextronium. Who's gonna stay behind?"
"I will manage." Mandark volunteered. "From here, I can assess the data. Shall we link the glasses?"
"Affirmative." Dexter said, and with a touch on the frame, both Dexter and Mandark's glasses were synced. Mandark would now have a full display of Dexter's vision on this potentially dangerous mission.
While the others were getting prepared, with Ben organizing the menus on the Omnitrix, and Mojo losing his patience waiting for Mandark to hand him his tech, Blossom pulled aside her sisters for a private conversation.
"Girls," Blossom motioned towards her sisters. "I need you both away from this fight, and back on patrol in Townsville."
Naturally, the two weren't happy with Blossom's executive decision. "What?! We just GOT here!" Buttercup exclaimed.
"It's only precautionary. From what Ben 10's already said about Fusion Powerpuffs, they're dangerous, maybe an even match. If I go down, someone needs to protect Townsville." The commander and leader's eyes glared with severity. "You know what might happen if we stay away from it for too long..."
The three of them were more than familiar, having once been tricked by a demon supervillain, shown a world where they abandoned Townsville. They did not take the warning lightly. Yet, the two sisters were unwilling to put their oldest in danger.
"We're not trading lives by splitting up, Blossom." Bubbles objected. Her eyes were getting glossy, tears threatening to form and her voice mirthlessly chuckling, trying to keep herself from choking up.
But Blossom wouldn't have it, even as the most emotional of the three told her not to go. "I'm not giving you a choice, Bubbles. Both of you: keep everyone, and the Professor, safe. And don't be worried, I only said 'Fusion Blossom' would be a match for me." she said, the look of concern shifting into a look of positivity. "When's that ever stopped any of us?"
"It stopped us-me-recently." Buttercup shouted. "Remember how I went missing for a week? It took Mojo's most powerful robot to knock someone like me into the Pacific, and now you're saying you alone can handle an evil clone of yourself? Guess which one I think is more powerful, the robot or the fusion."
"Never thought you'd think that practically."
"I know, someone's finally been rubbing off on me." Buttercup said with a momentary smile.
"Well you came back in one piece!" Blossom complimented. Seems like Buttercup was rubbing off on her as well. "And you never told us where you were, so we assumed you were safe. Look, I'm being strategic here; I need both the heavy hitters of our team guarding the city. So don't worry about me and get back on patrol, I'll be fine!"
Holding her breath, hoping Blossom would spontaneously change her mind, Bubbles stood waiting while Buttercup was huffing while looking down, trying to wrap her head around possible out of leaving her sister behind. But neither of them could see any way they could convince their eldest sibling to use backup. They were all rather stubborn in that way.
So they left, using the door (under Dexter's prying eye), and rocketed away into the sky without a word.
Blossom let out a sigh of relief. Standing up for herself, and having to justify her decisions to her fellow triplets was never easy. It was a miracle that they stuck together for so long. But now, they could move forward with the plan. "Alright. Let's move out." she shouted out to the leaders of this resistance.
BELLWOOD - PEACH CREEK ESTATES - PARK N' FLUSH TRAILER PARK
"-get this, get this, they call it – "spinjitzu"! HAA-HAHAHA-HAA!"
"You didn't even start your joke with anything!"
T'was a peaceful day as ever in the Peach Creek suburbs. Sure, a hostile alien invasion was all the talk of the town, but they couldn't feel more safe! Ever since they stocked up on those boxes around the Cul-De-Sac, things have been ridiculously quiet! Not a single Fusion Monster even wanted to go past the plank doors. As these two random Urban Rangers were guarding the dock between the Park N' Flush Trailer, minding their business and being goofballs instead of actually doing their frickin' job, neither of them expected a superpowered alien to stomp in with a smash.
Next thing they knew, they found themselves face to face with Swampfire.
"Holy shit, a STINKY ONION!"
"No, dumbass, that's one of them plants...from the Super Mario games."
"BRO! BRO! It's ok! I can use my TORNADO powers of Spinjitzu on this joker and-"
Ben wouldn't have any of it. "JUST GET OUT OF HERE!"
They shook upon hearing Swampfire's agitated voice. "Oh god he's serious. RUN!"
Well that was certainly anticlimactic. But the fight for our heroes had only just begun.
"Coast is clear." Ben voiced, pressing the Hourglass dial and shifting back into human form. It was a good idea to conserve the Omnitrix's power, given that the last time he fought a fusion, he timed out rather frequently. He forgot to charge the thing and was running on reserve energy. But not this time. Ben was now making sure to time his transformations accordingly. Certainly a long way from relying and expending Four Arms or Feedback all the time when he was 10.
"Any sight on Jack?" Mandark asked from all the way in Tech Square.
"I just got here. Ask Edd, you guys are the ones that put him on look out duty."
"Double-checking isn't lethal, Ben." Blossom told him as she set Dexter down from carrying him by the arms; they had flown all the way from Downtown Siyenn to Bellwood within a matter of minutes. Ben was impressed. Had it been 5 years ago, it would have taken the Powerpuff Girls at least an hour to fly between the Sister Cities. They were getting faster and more powerful.
Unfortunately, that same baritone voice kicked in, and only reminded Ben who else was getting more powerful. "The alien hybrid speaks the truth. We are in a rush." Mojo spoke as he touched down, having been carried by one of his jetpack-armed minions. Almost immediately he recognized the mode of transportation from the Future. The Sky Monkeys that Mojo had positioned across what remained of Earth would carry people to nearby places.
"You're gonna want to capitalize on that, by the way." Ben pointed out, and the sadistic simian raised an eyebrow.
"On what? My minions and their jetpacks? I would never waste their time helping the common man."
"Never's a strong word." Ben shot back with a smirk, fully knowing that in some future, Mojo would end up doing just that. Maybe he just needed incentive. Though money wouldn't work due to Mandark's payroll. So another option sprung to mind. "Do it and we'll cut 5 years off your sentence."
"W-WHAT?!" Blossom exclaimed. "BEN!"
"That's absurd, Ben." Dexter said. "Do it and we'll cut 10 years off."
"Done." Mojo agreed.
"So it is" Mandark agreed as well.
"No! NO, NOT DONE!" Blossom was fuming now, objecting loudly was already out of character for her. "What happened to returning him right back to Fuddgate?"
"Mandark agreed that after the war-"
"You already cut a decade off his sentence!" she continued arguing with one of her oldest friends. Regardless of what logic he was following, she knew this was absolutely criminally insane. "He'll practically be a free ape within a month!"
"It is called strategy! Something you seem to lack by sending your sisters away from this fight when this doppelganger could potentially kill you! And that's not even mentioning the fact that there is a Fusion Samurai Jack running around somewhere! How do you think we will fare against THAT?!"
"BOTH OF YOU! Stop shouting! What am I, your babysitter?!" Ben stood forward adamantly. "How're we supposed to work as a team when-"
"Mojo grows TIRED of this!" interjected Mojo. "The portal exists where the portal is, and if there must be two duplicates in the catacombs of which there was meant to be one duplicate, then there are in fact two duplicates in the catacombs now belonging to TWO duplicates! Now let's MOVE, already, and set aside your pathetic hero squabbles!"
As the evolved green simian turned around and made his way, Ben was just floored with his egotistical attitude. "How did you even stand this guy for ten years?" he turned around and asked the seasoned superheroine.
"These days all I hear from his mouth is white noise." Blossom admitted. "I can read lips though...comes in handy when he's monologuing."
"I, Mojo Jojo, am not only RIGHT HERE!" exclaimed the mutant chimpanzee, "but I, Mojo Jojo, have located the Fusion Portal! YOU ARE WASTING MY TIME WITH YOUR TIME-WASTING!"
"Yeah. You're one to talk about time-wasting, you manipulative prick!" Ben said, still frustrated about how the Plumbers could have possibly let Mojo slip into their systems and erase info.
Mojo scoffed, and didn't appear to heed a word that Ben told him. Yet another tense pause in an already shaky alliance. This was getting rather repetitive even for narration. But luckily, there came a loud buzz from Dexter's left pocket. Pulling it out, he found a call coming and put it on speaker. "Edd?"
"Got a visual. Your samurai acquaintance is right around the corner of May's trailer, forward and then to the left." Edd confirmed. "I had called in some Urban Rangers to guard the river and keep other Fusions from overwhelming him.
"You mean those two idiots that we just scared away?"
"It's not that bad." Edd reasoned. "It'll only be one or two more moms wanting to sue you."
"I..." Ben could now hear Edd's audible laughter. With a sigh, he said, "I'm gonna allow that."
"Everyone, there he is." Dexter noticed, breaking the joke, and drawing everyone's attention to a looming figure in a white gi, his katana in hand and looking around. On one leg, he was noticeably barefooted. Knowing who it was, they all made their way towards him. "Jack!" the boy genius called out.
Turning his head, the wise samurai was delighted. "Dexter. It is good to see you all...I apologize, but have you seen my-"
"No, but we have an idea...but you seem to have been busy." he spoke, addressing how quiet this place seemed. "Reports said this place was overwhelmed with 'Power Painsaws'"
"That's the concern I bear...I haven't been cutting anything down. This place is deserted."
They were shocked. An area completely deserted by the Fusions was all too suspicious. They looked around themselves, Blossom's eyes glowing with heat, Ben slowly reaching for his wrist, and Mojo grabbing hold of his protective cape. Soon, nothing about this mission was normal.
Getting another message from his call with Edd, Dexter turned to face the Samurai. "Our newest associate is asking if you have observed any set of girls, one with thick curly hair, or one with blue highlights in the Trailer Park at this moment?"
Jack shook his head disappointingly. "All has been quiet here...I suspect they are hiding in their homes, too scared to leave."
"Thank Pythagoras!" Edd exclaimed over the intercomm. "I mean, it's not appropriate for them to be scared, but hell I'll take anything! I'll be right over there!"
Instead of being met with relieved sighs, the five of them only further sighed. Mojo had put it best: this was taking too long. And given that giant cardboard castle, and what little info they had read about Edd's athletic deficiency prior, it would take at least half another hour for him to run all the way around his own Cul-De-Sac-
-or y'know, he could jump high into the air with a blood-curdling scream.
So naturally, Edd the Encyclopediac chose to do the latter, and everyone was caught off guard.
"What the-" Ben exclaimed, only interrupted by Edd's sudden splat onto the dirt of the ground. What on Earth was this boy thinking?!
Before anyone could ask, Edd himself started explaining as he turned over. "We...we have these two 2x4 jump pads...real handy..." He reasoned. "And I...suck at track."
He tried getting back up, clearly struggling, and Blossom was first to help him up. "Hey, easy. That was a really big jump!"
"Yeah, Edd, just cause I do it doesn't mean you do it!" said Ben, knowing full well that if he wasn't as careful these days, the Omnitrix would time out on him at any point.
"Do what?" he asked as he stood on his legs, casually shaking off a 50 meter jump; Blossom was still inclined to help him out, and let him sit down for a little.
In all this chaos, and everyone somehow keeping up, there was someone who was still falling very much behind. "Dexter, you haven't explained what's happening." Jack asked.
Turning to him, Dexter didn't quite acknowledge his question yet. "So then enough chit-chat. Mojo, this is a Dextronium canister. Load it in. Activate your device;" Then turning to Jack, "Jack, I will explain soon enough."
One affirmative nod later, Mojo pulled out a small red device and took out his red blaster, and he sprinted across the trailer park, not before loading in the Dextronium Canister into the former device. None of the heroes followed him, and no one was able to stop him from lifting an entire trailer and throwing it to the side. The size of his brain was so distracting that people forgot the monkey had super-strength as well. Blossom had to clench her fists to keep herself from pounding him, the urge against criminal behavior was so frustrating to subdue. Forget whoever's house he just trashed, he just broke the law again.
"That better be one more year on his sentence." she muttered.
But to everyone's surprise, Mojo paid no attention to them, and wasted no time monologuing or bragging about his discovery. There was a large squirming Terrafuser that was hidden in plain sight. The heroes stepped forward in amazement, looking back to Jack with the widest eyes, and he exchanged looks with him. Clearly, it seemed that despite spending hours in the Trailer Park looking for a sandal, Jack failed to notice the larger Terrafuser. And given how keen Jack's senses were, they knew it was impossible for him to not even notice one.
It certainly supported one of Dexter's theories, that the Fusions were capable of perception filtering, changing what people saw to confuse them or protect themselves. Dexter quickly took out his own NanoCom, and indeed, this seemed to be the only major Terrafuser within the trailer park. With that, Dexter and his fellow friends quickly realized what Mojo had discovered.
The simian was getting to work, activating the smaller device with the Dextronium sample, and planting it on one of the many tumors emerging from the green extraterrestrial egg. He grinned to himself. He had used this technology before to develop a minor gravity enhancement field underneath Townsville, and pushed the then toddler-aged Powerpuff Girls to their ultimate limits in restoring order. Sometimes it made him wonder if what his objective was: to take over and destroy Townsville, or simply to humiliate and destroy the Powerpuff Girls.
Whatever the case was, the Terrafuser he was experimenting on was reacting rather violently to Mojo's device. It was shaking, squirming, unable to handle the Dextronium radiation.
Blossom was ready to charge at the Terrafuser, her hair floating up as pebbles on the ground followed her. Ben wasn't sure what would happen, and turned his dial to Alien X. Even if that alien was just his human form with the Hourglass on his chest, it was still powerful enough to protect them against the unknown (for as long as the two voices in his head were willing to cooperate). Jack got into one of his many stances, ready to draw on his divine katana blade. Dexter seemed unfazed by the inherent danger, taking another step closer as the slowly glowing egg was shining right into his glasses, ready to explode.
And all Edd did was crouch and hide.
"Fascinating..." Dexter and Mojo muttered at the same time.
With a glance at the boy genius, and only seeing the Terrafuser grow more unstable. It was clear to her what was going to happen. "...NOPE, not fascinating enough! GET DOWN!"
Rocketing at the speed of sound, she attempted to get her arch-nemesis away from the loud BOOM.
Before any of them knew it, before anyone could process anything, the explosion blinded everyone in pure lime light, and the next thing they felt was a vacuum sucking them in.
And like that...they were gone.
The two urban rangers that Ben thought were scared off...had been watching the entire time in reality.
"Should...uh...should we call that in?"
BELLWOOD - PEACH CREEK ESTATES - CUL-DE-SAC
MagnavoX was pace-walking across the suburban residence of Peach Creek, wasting no time at all to confront the Eds about the shocking discovery. His team had just made it to Peach Creek after cleaning up Sector V, and they were resting by the giant 2x4 door with a doodle face on it. But that wasn't his concern at that moment. His mind got the better of his heart. He hadn't recognized them by name, but there were enough stories to permeate into his home in Ordinal Heights, talks of the town about these three scam-artists that ripped people off. After grilling Athena, MagnavoX was now sure that Double-D was one of them.
Making his way down the illustriously asinine red carpet that was just peak self-indulgence, MagnavoX stood up to Eddy, the apparent leader of whatever castle they set up around this suburb. Zooming in with his scouter, MagnavoX could see that Eddy's cheap smile was turning into a face of cheap dread. How uninterested in the war was this guy?
"Eddy!" he shouted. "My name is Jake MagnavoX, I need to see-"
"HEY! You don't get to call me that." Eddy said, "People here gotta address me as your royal Edjesty! So SAY IT!"
"Aw geez..." MagnavoX lamented. "You're royal Edship-"
"WHATEVER!" the former shouted. "My team and I gave a report to Double-D, we wanna make sure it got to Dexlabs!"
"Not my problem."
"Why? You're not even doing anything! You can't just tell us where they are?!"
"Haven't named your price, whatsyourface." Eddy warned. "If you have nothing, I'm throwing outta here."
MagnavoX gritted his teeth. He hated difficult people, let alone greedily difficult people. And all he knew about these people came from Athena, so he decided to spit-ball a random term he heard her throw around.
"Would you like a Jawbreaker?"
That definitely caught his ear. "...keep going." Eddy said.
"You get a-a draw-Jawbreaker, if y-you tell me where you friend Double-D is?"
"I still don't know."
"OH FOR PETE'S SAKE, man, DO YA HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON?!"
Shocked by the unexpected reaction, Eddy finally decided to think. "Fine, fine, the last time I saw him, he told me he was stationing Urban Rangers around the Park N' Flush, and I said yeah because I didn't really give a shit."
"Then the guy who leads him knows where he is. Where's he right now?"
Okay, now the sensible one was pissed. He drew out his V-Charger and stepped up the cardboard throne to be at point-blank range. "YOU motherfu-" he spat before being cut off.
"UGH, fine. He's over there by that weapons vendor." Eddy said, unfazed by being dangerously threatened. Either he knew MagnavoX didn't have any ammo loaded in the gun, or he literally just didn't care.
Storing away the gun again, MagnavoX got down and saw just the person Eddy was referring to, and walked towards him in a fervor.
And yet, they found themselves in an alien environment. But for Ben, it was all too familiar. The caverns, the stalagmites, the distorted Terrafusers lining the rocky walls. But even for him, all he could feel was his next breakfast making its way back up, and every muscle in his body aching.
"I'm gonna feel that later..." Ben said weakly. "Nng..." It definitely confused him. He never experienced anything like this when he was in the Future.
The others were more curious. "...is that how you went to one of these Fusion lairs before?" Blossom asked, aching a little herself.
Quickly, Ben put the pieces together and resolved his confusion. "Nah, it was already sprouting tentacles...just like these." He pointed up to the glowing anemone of tentacles on the ceiling of the catacomb, where they must have emerged from. It looked like it was composed of pure fusion matter. Blossom could distinctly make out the tiny air bubbles and pockets as it slithered and waved.
"Ngg...so where is this place?" Jack asked, sitting up, and keeping his katana close to his side.
"Underground, obviously." Dexter spoke as he wandered around a little, catching everyone by surprise. He seemed to have shaken off the fatigue they all had, and was standing completely upright. Blossom raised both her brows in approval; it was impressive, despite his...weak nerd body. "These are the catacombs that Ben and Future-Mandark described."
"Where, underground?" asked Edd, aching a lot more than any of his newfound superhero friends.
"Mandark, are you there?"
"I read you. Your nanite signatures indicate you are somewhere...forty miles south of Moscow."
"I'm sorry, what?" Ben said.
"We're in RUSSIA?!" Edd exclaimed. "WHAT'RE WE DOING IN RUSSIA! OH, Mother and Father are gonna have WORDS with me! They never like it when I take a vacation! STICKY NOTES OF UNTOLD HORROR AWAIT ME!"
"SHUT UP, Double-D!" Ben said, grabbing hold of the con-artist's buckled shoulders. "You're halfway across the world in a cave with a psychotic Powerpuff Girl clone, and all you can think about is STICKY NOTES?!" That abridged statement caught Jack's ear. Dexter had failed to explain just what was going on, and now he knew, and was fully aware of the challenge.
"This is about MORE THA-Ben, when was the last time you washed your hands before comically shaking me as though I'm a madman?"
"BOTH OF YOU BE QUIET!" A voice came from behind them, belonging to Mojo as he stood up, Blossom once again resisting the urge to go all out on him. Mojo continued. "You're prattling bears no purpose in the purpose of this operation, which IS NOT prattling! My discovery has been proven correct."
"Everyone..." Jack said softly, "we cannot let ego or irrational fears get the better of us. Well, we need to map out these catacombs, and we must split up to do so."
"I don't know if that's necessary." Mandark said over the comm, "According to Dexter's findings, the fusion is nearby, and this section of the caverns appears to be smaller than-"
Everyone's eyes widened at that one iota of information. Dexter was the first to stop. "Wait a minute, by what do you mean "section"?"
"...the Dexlabs scanners indicate that these catacombs cover the entire country of Asia...and more."
Everyone was left speechless. These clearly didn't exist prior to Fuse, meaning that in as short a time as 2 months, these were being dug. Mandark didn't even need to explain the next part, that these random Terrafusers providing access to these Fusion Lairs...the lairs were more than likely covering the entire planet by now.
"Then this must be where the spawns grow..." Ben realized. "Then they get sucked up by those tentacles, and spat out by those green murder machines. And now we know for sure that there've already taken a hold of the planet!"
Fuming with anger, he was now struggling to wrap this around his head, and turned to Mojo with a look that could kill. "How exactly was your plan gonna come together?!" Ben shouted at him. "What, you were gonna fight an entire country's worth of Fusions yourself?!"
"You show such doubt in me, hybrid."
"More like I actually have experience. How do you think we caught them a month early?" Ben said venomously. And given what was just revealed about these fusion lairs, catching them a month early felt redundant at this point. "If it wasn't for Dex's time machine or Otto sending me back, your plan would fail, and this planet would die."
"I see…then what is your concern?" the simian said uninterestedly. "Are we not aligned in interests now?"
"You gambled the planet and put everyone at risk." Jack said, having finally listened
"As though you didn't? Children on the streets with artillery the size of their beds? It's a miracle the casualty count has been so low…" Mojo spat at the alien hero, twitching his eye, and then elaborating. "I care not for you humans, but I am no hypocrite."
"Fine. You're not a hypocrite, Mojo. You're an idiot."
While their eyes were locked in a poisonous state of anger, Blossom found it within her to distract herself from Mojo. She was looking the other way, and with her ultra-super vision, she saw something that caught her eye. Squinting, she focused in, and couldn't believe what she had found. "Guys?" Blossom called out. "You're not gonna believe what I found..." Hovering over there at a brisk pace, Blossom activated her heat vision on what appeared to be one of the distorted terrafusers.
It opened up, reacting to the extreme heat as everyone saw what she was doing and rushed towards her.
What they found was incredible.
It was Jack's sandal, dirty and covered with Fusion Matter...
...and a slowly growing fusion matter foot in the sandal's straps.
From the looks of it, it appeared to be the same size as Jack's own feet.
"Holy ssshhhhhhhiiitaki mushrooms..." Blossom swore.
"What's going on?" Mandark asked irritatingly, "I need a visual."
Dexter was so captivated by the phenomena, he wouldn't even budge as he took off his glasses and showed Mandark just what was going on. No one could see him. They too were amazed.
"That's...improbable." Mandark noted, finally voicing everyone's concerns. "It took Fusion Blossom only one day to fully form in those reports, form enough to start flying and using powers. Why would it take Samurai Jack's doppelganger so long?"
That was the question, what could be taking it so long. But with a glance at Jack's sword, Edd had his own ideas swimming laps around his brain. It was a lot to think about, but "...if my theory is correct..."
Once again interrupted, the heroes could hear the faint sound of chainsaws in the distance...
...and there was more than one of them.
They knew exactly where the sounds were coming from. Dexter spotted a hole, one that appeared to go deeper into the ground. It was big enough to fit more than one person.
"If all the monsters from the trailer park are down there," Ben reasoned, "then that's where they're protecting Fusion Blossom."
"Agreed." Edd said, still hiding behind Jack.
"Also noted. We cannot estimate the danger that lurks down there..." Dexter postulated. Then turning to Ben, he gave the order. "After you."
"Nonono, I insist, after you!"
Raising one eyebrow, he didn't hesitate to then...kick Ben in the legs, making him lose balance, sending him tumbling down with a shrill scream.
They all stared down in the seemingly endless hole, and Blossom sported the most stoic expression. "Whatever happened to ladies first?" she asked wittily.
"Do not worry, Blossom. If I ever have to use you as a human shield, I shall let you know."
"O my heart bleeds…" Blossom sarcastically retorted.
BELLWOOD - PEACH CREEK ESTATES - RIVERBANK
"Jake, why are we here instead of coming with an army?" Liam asked. They were kneeling around the bushes of the river, scouting out the deserted trailer park.
"'Cause I got brushed off by the guy with his own neighborhood militia with a funny accent." MagnavoX lamented. "Liam, what're you getting."
"Still working out the kinks with this NanoCom system...I miss KND 2x4 tech..." Liam also lamented, "but I think I got it. Those two rangers down there are scared as hell."
"Saying something about a bunch of heroes disappearing...into that." He pointed to a now tentacle-filled Fusion Portal, where a Terrafuser appeared to once be.
"Can we hack into their comms?"
"Course I can, but with what? I'm not about to go make a speech."
"We don't have to make a speech, we just gotta use the one we have." MagnavoX realized. "Does anyone have a file copy of Ben 10's speech from 2 months ago?"
"Who doesn't?" Ollie and Athena responded in unison.
"Let's see if we can re-inspire them a little." he planned. "then let's set up shop atop that round trailer. We're gonna be ready for whatever comes through."
"He's been down there for long enough." Blossom realized, and she turned to face her long-standing foe. "Mojo, what do we do now?"
"What we must do, that which needs doing, is wait out what lies ahead." the simian overlord postulated. "If the idiot that was sent tumbling down has successfully scouted the Fusion Lair, the lair of this imposter Fusion, then we need not wait long until-"
"EVERYBODY GET BACK!" Ben shouted upwards, echoing from the caverns and soon after rocketing out of the hole as Jetray.
The chainsaw sounds were getting louder and closer, and they sounded a lot more angry.
The Power Painsaws jumped out of the hole in droves, with four tendril-like legs sporting a variety of sharp weapons. Jetray did his best to aim for them, but they moved so fast. Jack was having a much easier time cutting them down and reducing them to fusion matter.
"How did they follow you?!"
"They can jump really high, OKAY!?"
"Mandark, requesting immediate evacuation!" Dexter shouted, but all he could get was static and a shocked look from Jetray. "Mandark! SIMON?"
The call was jammed. Jammed by the Fusions, a usual technique, and a common feature of the Fusion Doppelgangers whenever they were close by.
While everyone was battling, with Mojo activating his own jetpack and firing at all who approached him with hostility.
Edd, however, was looking to be a little fore-thinking, narrowly avoiding the sight of the Painsaws the heroes kept occupied, and stared down into the dark cavern they emerged from. "Quickly newfound friends! We have to escape into the hole befor-uck!"
Edd was halted, choked out of his own speech. A green luminescent hand took a hold of his throat, and Edd was terrified out of his mind.
The shaking, electrified, and insane figure of Fusion Blossom rose out of the dark hole, fully formed, sparks flying across her face, her arms, and her legs. So often was it common to confuse; the Fusion doppelgangers did not have a gender. It was staring into a terrified Edd's soul. And it let out an inhuman shriek as the other heroes were petrified with fear. Blossom wouldn't let Edd die just yet, and fired off her heat vision at her double, distracting it long enough to let go of Edd. Blossom smirked before she was overwhelmed by a hit from another horde of Painsaws.
This was their plan, to overwhelm the heroes when they least expected it.
Dexter backed off while Ben slammed the Omnitrix badge on his chest and became Wildvine. He was going for Swampfire, but this would do just fine. He attempted to pin Fusion Blossom to the ground, aiming for its legs. Now that it was restrained, Blossom floated backwards and charged right at it, going square at its chest. It was a deadly combat, with the Fusion itself not restraining to fire some of the Powerpuff Girls' signature heat vision.
Quickly, Ben began recognizing these fighting patterns, not just from the Fusion but from his friends. The same tricks, the same strategies. It stood to reason that this Fusion would employ a similar victory.
But that couldn't matter right now. He was distracted by Mojo's jetpack!
"I thought you said you needed your minions to get around!"
"I never said anything of the sort, to which the sort is that I come prepared to fight as MOJO JOJO!" He spoke as he was about to return to the fight. "The minions do it for me when I want to."
"Drama queen." he muttered. Returning to the fight noticed another thin flow of fusion matter that crept along the ground and entered the cage-fight in the battleground, and Mojo and Blossom certainly didn't notice it be absorbed by the Fusion doppelganger. A roar of fury sounded out as Fusion Blossom threw itself onto Dexter, its legs were dripping fusion matter because of the damage sustained. All too familiar with this trick, Ben rushed in, changing to Wildmutt and tackling the Fusion to the ground before it could infect Dexter.
But the Painsaws wouldn't have it. They stormed around Ben and cut at his fur, to which he howled in pain. He knew the wounds would disappear once he changed back, thanks to the Omnitrix's DNA repair functions, but it still hurt like hell.
These packs of Fusion Monsters were getting out of hand. He remembered back in the future how they did it, where they took out each monster in the cavern before tackling the boss, but it wasn't their fault the monsters coordinated like this. They needed to get the Painsaws away from the battle.
Blossom tried getting up, but was too busy fighting against these monsters. The Painsaws were trying to slice at her skin, to no avail thanks to her powers. But Blossom was making sure to block at their chainsaw tendrils with her dual bracelets. They had enough force to repel and rebound any oncoming attack. In some cases they were working. But there was strength in numbers here, and it wasn't in her favor.
Transforming back into Wildvine, which rarely happened...Ben exchanged looks with Edd. "Double-D! You said you had called those urban rangers, right?" Seeing Edd nod as he hid behind the stalagmite and away from the battle. Ben knew to keep him safe given he had no powers. "Any chance they're still patrolling the trailer park?"
Immediately, the bright-minded Edd knew exactly what he was thinking of, but it wasn't all the same. He knew Ben would want to lead the Fusions away from the fight, and out into the corresponding Fusion Portal. But Ben was too valuable, and he was far more expendable.
In a moment of clarity, bravery, or utter stupidity, Edd rushed out to face the Painsaws. He knew what they loved more than protecting their own was the animalistic urge to kill the invaded species. "Hey!" he screamed, causing the painsaws to turn around. "Look at me, an obvious human bait!"
He ran off in a most courageous display of cowardice ever. And the majority of the Painsaws chased after him.
Ben did not expect to see Edd do something so risky. He wondered what could have inspired him to do that.
Edd was running for his dear life at this point now. He could feel his legs endure a level of exercise that would usually be toxic to someone of his health. He ran with his arms closed in, elbows jutting out and his thumbs supporting the weight of this shoulders.
The Painsaws were getting much closer, and the plan was working!
But it would all depend on what was on the other side. His history in scamming the kids of the Cul-de-Sac made him a severely unpopular character in the eyes of the town he grew up in. Even when he had called the Urban Rangers, the response was cold and distant. No one could trust him.
But today he took action and felt like he did something truly honest, getting in touch with the heroes of Earth and alerting them to this report, risking a scolding from his parents and the other Eds.
He saw the Fusion Portal just up ahead...on the ceiling...
And luckily for him, there was an easy set of rocks to climb in this moment of sheer adrenaline...
...this was it...just a little bit further...
...a little bit upwards...
The Fusions were now jumping as high as they could, nearly biting at his shirt. He let out a terrified yelp as he heard the screams of Fusion Blossom fighting the heroes.
This was it, just a leap of faith...
...just TOUCH the tentacles...
BELLWOOD - PEACH CREEK ESTATES - PARK N' FLUSH TRAILER PARK
He had kept his eyes shut on the journey from a catacomb in Russia to back home. But immediately, he felt the dirt of the trailer park on his side as he winced.
Wasting no time, he stepped away from the now tentacle-filled Fusion Portal, where the Terrafuser once was. He knew those painsaws would spawn outside at any moment.
As he kept crawling backward, he collided with someone's leg.
Who could it have been?
He looked up, and a smile beamed from cheek to cheek. Who stood before him was wearing the traditional Urban Ranger uniform, with a lemon-yellow shirt underneath a blue vest and slacks covered in several purple-outlined white polygons. He had blue, and to top it off, he wore a sweet bandana. He looks like he was ready for the apocalypse without actually being ready for the apocalypse.
"Hello, strange sock-boy o' the Eds!" he greeted.
"ROLF!" Edd exclaimed. He was jubilant!
Indeed, his leap of faith had paid off.
"Your out-of-town friends alerted me to green meanies plaguing the Cul-de-Sac!" he said with an outrageous accent (of unknown origin). "Stay behind, Eddboy. Tey dare shmoop with Urban Rangers!? Then tey get more than shmoop for!"
Standing up, Edd looked behind him, and was faced with an entire assault team?!
Not only were there a variety of Urban Rangers equipped with 2x4 chocolate cannons, but the team from Sector V that contacted Edd in the first place were standing on top of Lee Kanker's trailer, ready to lay waste on whatever came through, and it seemed like it was soon. The Terrafuser was bubbling intensely.
And out came over 100 hands of chainsaw-powered fusion monsters.
But they were nothing against an entire assault team.
MagnavoX stood proudly alongside Ollie, Liam, and Athena, and quickly gave the order to "Waste them."
"You can't let it touch you for too long! We need to beat it further before we can do that!" Ben shouted, urgently warning Mojo. He took his advice almost immediately, letting go of its fist and leading on with a punch towards Fusion Blossom.
Returning to the fight, Wildvine shifted into Big Chill, the alien Ben wanted since it worked well the last time. He tackled the Fusion as it watched Mojo Jojo grapple with the remaining Painsaws. They were slowly winning.
Ben breathed ice onto Fusion Blossom's face, and quickly kicked it in the back, allowing Blossom to square in and barrage her double with several super-speedy punches. Her attacks resulted in Fusion Blossom squirming and spasming violently, as the damage it sustained became too much to handle, it began to lose its form entirely. But it still had enough of Blossom in it to start blocking her punches at the same speed. Blossom was shocked. Nevertheless, she persisted, and fired her heat vision...only for Fusion Blossom to use the last of its DNA-driven energy to counter her with its own super-lasers.
It was bright and intense as a solar flare, and no matter how she gritted her teeth, Blossom was beaten by her match, staggering back when hit in the eyes with the mimicked heat vision. She grabbed her head in intense pain. It felt like a migraine, a chorus of ringing bells tied to a pendulum.
But Blossom's own damage to the Fusion paid off. It was still shaking and twitching violently. And as Ben predicted, it sprouted tentacle from its chest, eight of them the same as Fusion Buttercup's, one of which threw Blossom and Ben across the cavern and against the wall, knocking them out, not only from impact, but from a very acute sense of deja vu on Ben's part.
It threw one of its extrusions into Dexter and shattered a large stalagmite with another. Jack went into Jōdan and charged for a forward strike at the Fusion, but the tentacle burst and threw him to the side as the rubble hit the ground, nearly hitting Ben. Jack was out, and now it was his turn. The Fusion now walked menacingly towards him. But Ben could see that the fusion routine continued:
The hair began to fall off its head, clothes began to fuse into its body, resembling a smudge of different paint colors. It was violently losing its form and shape. Its eyes began to glow eerily as it flew up, ready to obliterate the alien hero. Ben looked to Dexter, who was not only presently knocked out, but had also not been able to contribute to the fight as much as his future counterpart had.
With terrified eyes, he was struggling to find a way out of this. Was this really how the dark future could begin? Was this how he went out.
Apparently not. A blaster fire was heard, and there stood Mojo Jojo, having finished the Power Painsaws, smiling in sadistic satisfaction, most like out of getting to fight something resembling Blossom of the wretched Powerpuff Girls. He fired another shot, and the Fusion wouldn't have any of it. Ben looked to Mojo and realized; the people of the future kept putting him on a pedestal as a missing element in the fight against Fuse. But Ben couldn't help but wonder now if, just maybe, Mojo was just as important, and the same could be said about the others that perished before Tech Square like Blossom.
Indeed Mojo knew it too. He couldn't do it alone. Saving the Earth he wished to rule would take everyone working together, regardless of age, or status. This was it.
The simian supervillain let out a monkey's screech, the closest he could give to a war cry, and fired from his red blaster into the disintegrating Fusion. It continued spasming, its fusion matter degrading and allowing anyone to grab hold of it. He grabbed hold of its feet and furiously tore at them, much to the Fusion's synthetic pain.
"BLOSSOM! NOW!" Mojo shouted across the cavern. The pink Powerpuff looked up in disbelief. Was it right to trust him at this point? He was in a position to kill two birds with one stone.
But looking to her side, she saw Dexter, unconscious, and her fury rose like a thermometer in a heat wave. She let out her own war cry, forcing the ringing bells to stop. To just stop and focus in rhythm.
"NNYYYAAAAAAAAAAAGGH!" She screamed as she charged at her double for the last time. She barraged it with more punches, more heat vision, unleashing new war-cries with each blow.
As Dexter was returning to consciousness to see Blossom's incredible display of power, he couldn't help but be reminded of Buttercup.
She was being serious when she implied they were rubbing off each other.
And once enough fists were thrown, and after the fusion had been scorched beyond form and recognition, Blossom clenched her hands into fists again...
...stretched them as far back as she could...
...and with all the force in the world...
...SLAMMED THEM INTO THE SIDES OF ITS HEAD, crushing it on impact, and effectively decapitating her gooey doppelganger.
As the fusion matter splattered and sunk into the catacomb dirt, Blossom didn't even bother gracefully landing, too tired to support her own flight, she plopped down on her two feet, panting and sweating rather intensely.
Disbelief was clouding her mind, she couldn't think straight. And she was sure it wasn't from the utter intensity of this fight.
It came from working with Mojo Jojo, and for once getting to trust him.
Even when temporary team ups happened before, and they happened a-plenty, she never trusted him until that point.
Looking behind her, she saw Dexter wide awake, jaw open and admiring that sheer unfiltered bloody power.
She realized it only felt like trusting Mojo. She did it because her friends were hurt.
If teaming up with Mojo would make fighting Fusions easier...so be it.
Looking down at where Fusion Blossom once hovered, she finally found her hair clip! Only it was...looking worse for wear. She picked it up with a degree of disgust.
Ben sat up, taking immediate notice of Blossom's discovery of disgust. "That is...nasty. Why're you picking it up?"
"I mean...I could make this work? It could be like a new style...dip your-um-your hair clips in green dye."
"Not green dye."
"Green...an-anything?" Blossom was desperately trying to make this work, even though the truth was right in front of her. "I-I don't know."
"You will want to keep it, however." Dexter pointed out. "We can utilize the residual Fusion Matter signature with Imagination Energy to make a Nano of you."
"I...don't need a Nano."
"I...most certainly agree." Dexter said with a hesitation in his speech, pushing up his glasses. "But...someone else could use it."
"I guess so..."
"Or you could keep the hair clip for yourself." he continued suggesting. "Go ahead and make it a fashion trend, was it?"
Blossom exchanged surreal looks with the stoic Dexter. He couldn't be serious? Well, he was, but it was her choice. And looking right back at the "Nano Item", Blossom could only gag. "mmmNo. No, I-I'm good. "
"Whoah." Ben exclaimed. "Okay..."
They weren't expecting to be greeted by several Urban Rangers scavenging and salvaging parts from what Ben could only describe as a massacre from a full-on firing squad. There were traces of fusion matter just about everywhere. Dexter and Blossom seemed surprised too, even as they carried the unconscious JackLooking up, he saw the team responsible turned away from them.
"Couple of kids that reached out to my friends. They managed to eliminate the horde of Power Painsaws just in time!" Edd said, walking towards the unlikely team. Mojo scoffed. He wouldn't believe it even if pigs could fly (which for all they knew could be possible).
"Did you call them?"
"They were the ones who called me initially, and they inspired me to reach out to all of you. They just arrived in Peach Creek and alerted the rest of the Rangers to our position. It was really cool of them to do."
"Tey also give me grief!" Rolf spoke, stepping up to the heroes and greeting them. "AH, Powerpuff Girl, and Scientist boy...and subliminal-messaging-man!"
The last one was directed at Ben, in a tone that didn't seem friendly. "Wh-What?"
"Random message of yours suddenly plays ALL over our phones! We can't shut off, so we feel guilty, and help before the shmooping!" Rolf explained, almost as though he was complaining. He didn't notice behind him that MagnavoX and Liam were fist-pumping in glee. He stormed off in a huff.
"Still though, without them the Urban Rangers wouldn't have been able to annihilate and exterminate!"
"Yeah, no argument about how cool they are." Blossom said as she examined the ground. Indeed, this squad of Fusion Fighters seemed to have done a thorough job.
"I'd recommend you keep in touch with them. You won't need to hear from me, so-"
"Wait, wait." Ben halted him before he could go, grabbing him by the shirt. "What do you mean?"
"I'd only get in the-could you please not reduce my shirt to a washcloth for your filthy hands?"
"Wh-" Before he could continue the conversation, Ben let go. "What makes you think you'd get in the way? You practically saved our lives down there." he continued as Dexter and Blossom tried to hold up Jack.
"In all honesty, which is admittedly something I've lacked for the longest time, I contributed the least. You deserved more firepower down there, not someone who would run away. It was an act of cowardice, and I'm a con-artist, Mr. Tennyson."
"If that's the case, then it was a courageous act of cowardice." Ben said, about to reach for Edd's shoulder, before recoiling it just in time. "We were being overwhelmed down there, and what you did made the fight winnable. We got an advantage because of you." Edd looked down, considering what he had said.
"And dude, I heard about the Bellwood grant you got. If that's not worthy of being cool, I don't know what is."
"You have quite the experience in leadership, Mr. Tennyson. I feel far better than before about leaving you guys behind." Edd said. "These kids are so lucky to be listening to you."
"Leadership's something I picked up only recently. Whole other spiel involving DNAliens...but the point is that it's not hard to be a hero for a moment."
Behind the two, Dexter's glasses were flashing on and off. "Blossom, you can sustain his weight?" he asked.
"Yeah I got him." She confirmed, allowing Dexter to go free. She sat the warrior down to collect himself, he was slowly waking up.
Tapping the frame, he responded to the call from his AI. "Computress, can you read me?"
"Repair connection with home-base. Code 1995."
[Acknowledged; processing now]
"Thank goodness, contact reestablished!" Mandark shouted. "Are you all alright?!"
"We're all fine, but Jack's a little hurt." Ben said over the comm. "It wasn't a huge blow, though."
"On the topic of Jack...we need to discuss what we discovered inside that distorted Terrafuser." Dexter said. "I had scanned what I saw, and Mandark had it analyzed almost immediately. There was no evidence or stimuli to suggest Fuse was stalling the production of a Fusion Jack. It means that outside stimuli was preventing a more casual production.
Dexter, Blossom, and Ben all looked at Edd now, expecting him to say something. The sock-headed boy, on the other hand, was more so confused.
"I suppose you're looking at me for a reason."
"You said you had a theory about what this might be?"
Edd's eyes widened with joy. He was uncomfortable with the attention his grant had given him, but this was a welcome surprise, being accepted and listened to amongst peers of such stature. Blossom smiled and she held her fists to her hips in victory, and Ben welcomed Edd into their circle. He was now one of them.
"I may have a proficiency in the sciences, but I do pay attention to a fair amount of history class, and I recall some of our lectures on Samurai Jack. The Yamashiro Blade was created and enchanted by a...well...ethereal power, one that's never been properly explained, but the story says that it was a blade that couldn't be used for evil. Perhaps those same energies prevent copies of it, and by extension, Jack, from being created."
"He speaks the truth." Jack was now speaking out loud, fully plugged in and recovering from the major blast from Fusion Blossom. "My sword was enchanted by a trinity of divine beings. The sword, and any extension of it, is not capable of enacting evil. Fuse may be a force of nature, but his intentions are nonetheless predatory."
"How can we know for sure?" Dexter asked; he wasn't against believing in magic, but he did like a little bit of evidence before coming to such a conclusion.
"When the demon Aku tried to kill me by my own blade, the blade would not harm me. When I lost the sword, it was reabsorbed into the Aether when I became unworthy." Jack explained. "The blade is no normal artifact. It and I are one, and it must be protecting me from duplication."
A few nods around, and a couple sighs of relief, though something was missing. Blossom was expecting someone to mock the nature of the blade, or poke fun at Edd's theory.
"So, Mojo, you've been...quiet." Turning around, Blossom expected to find Mojo close by...but found only more trailer park dirt. "Wait...MOJO! Where'd the monkey go!?" Blossom shouted.
He was nowhere in sight. And in the briefest moment of bliss, Blossom let her anger get the best of her.
"GODDAMNIT!" She shouted. She never liked swearing, and she hated when it would slip out. Blossom remained furious, her eyes glowing a little, radiating with her pink energy.
"Blossom, it is alright. We can track him." Dexter explained, reaching for her shoulder, keeping her on the ground literally and figuratively. "There is a surveillance conduit in the Dextronium canister I gave him. More or less, I suspect that today has taught him a lesson in teamwork. We will be seeing him again."
"I sure hope so. I don't want to have to fight two overlords."
Indeed, Ben thought. The time was now, and whether Mojo liked it or not, the hero was him. They all had a part to play.
Even the irate woman that, out of nowhere, kicked open her trailer door and, behind thick curly red hair, Lee Kanker furiously glared at everyone accompanied with a shocking booming voice that made everyone skip a heart beat.
"EY! GET THE HELL OUTTA MUYY TRAILER PARK!"
DEVELOPER'S JOURNAL: Lame Imitation
Beginning the second volume of our foray into the Earth-1 Cartoon Network Universe was a very slow and more or less anticlimactic chapter. I don't have much to say aside from how this volume's gonna work. Each chapter from now until the end of the volume will be more of an anthology sort of style, where there are related elements, but each story feels separate enough within the same world.
Also, when you're imagining the fusion dopplegangers and their insane shaking, think of choppy edits where they're demonically moving their bodies at almost lightspeed. For reference, look at the times Jacksepticeye has played his evil counterpart, where the shots are sporatic and make his movements seem more demonic. As for the effect, think of Ava Starr's Ghost and her "quantum entanglement". The way her body moves and how it leaves holographs behind each step. Something between those two should provide the image I want these fusions to be seen with. Aside from those, I would still keep the semi-melted clothing, as I have described in writing, to further emphasize how their bodies are merely a form they have taken on to hide something much darker.
Credit for the character of Athena goes to BasicallySarah and her own fantastic story Unity. It's a definite recommendation from me! Go check out her work, she's awesome!
One thing I'm happy to say is that even though this took me six months to get to (I've been dealing with my first semester in college), I wrote this chapter in the span of about two weeks. So if I can keep a rhythm for my extended summer vacation, I should be good.
Plus the inspiration for the worldbuilding towards how the CNU reacts to Fuse is closely modeled after my experiences with the Coronavirus Panic and Pandemic; I hope everyone in my audience was safe during this world-changing event, one that I hope I've taken adequate and careful inspiration from in illustrating the invaded world.
Also, if you've noticed Buttercrush's reviews so far...please don't acknowledge the "discord" hype that they're referring to...I-I spoiled a lot of Earth-One worldbuilding on the Worlds Collide discord, and I don't wanna pressure or encourage anyone to go there solely for the spoilers. I'd rather encourage you to go there for what is probably going to be the closest we're gonna get to FusionFall Legacy! But yeah, spoilers are on that server, so be warned.
Till next we meet. Please remember to leave a favorite, or leave a review/comment if you liked this chapter. I do feel this was a bit poorly paced, but I'm always open to criticism. Thank you guys!
SIYENN CITY, CALIFORNIA - GOAT'S JUNKYARD
"Ronaldo here, updating you on the latest Fusion-well, green alien invaders. I'm saying that because being a Fusion is totally fine, just not one from the planet in the sky." The radio host spoke. "Reports are now being publicly released by Dexlabs and Mandark industries concerning an evolution in the enemy's frontier against humanity. That being, they can make HUMANS now. So don't be stupid, and make sure to wear gloves whenever the sirens blare for you to go outside and stuff. That's the update! This is Ronaldo, telling you to keep Bravo Beach City weird!"
The boy in his van was making his way across California, helping wherever he could, but mostly staying to the shadows. Ben 10 had said they could help out however they wanted to, and this was his way. He was going around, taking freelance missions from people and helping them out in this time of crisis.
But this request in particular was weird. A little more so than Beach City levels of weird. It was vaguely worded, full of spelling errors that the boy suspected were intentional spellings, and kept referring to the car this guy owned as something complexly cool.
Whatever that meant.
Parking right outside the Junkyard, Steven Universe got out of his van, but not before putting on his favorite varsity jacket over his black star t-shirt. He went up ahead to greet the...unexpectedly overweight man, with a flannel shirt missing its sleeves, a patch with the number 12 printed on it, and a shiny southern belt buckle securing a stretched out pair of ripped jeans.
He immediately went to introduce himself. "Name's Steven. Steven Universe!"
"Sick name, bro." the fat man complimented the teenager. "Call me Coop."
"Oh, like Cooper?"
"So...y'know how in the PM, I had asked about helping me out with some car troubles?"
"Yeah, where is the car, exactly? I know you probably don't have actual parking in a Junkyard, but if you don't have it on you, you can use my van to go wherever you need to go."
"You have a van?"
"I have a license." Steven said sardonically, pointing to his van right outside the area, before returning right back to his kind and open self. "But yeah, if you wanna go on a road trip-"
"I'm not looking for that. And the car I mentioned is...well..."
He pointed into the Junkyard, and looking to his right, Steven knew just what he was in for now. He could see buildings and smelting pools covered in fusion matter and Terrafusers, heaps of junk walking like dinosaurs, but what stood out the most...
...was the clear silhouette of a giant robot car. It looked like it was blue, decorated with fire decals, and a silver chasis underneath. It had a terrafuser smack-dab in the center of its body...
...and the entire area was closed off by containment shields.
How did he miss that?!
Steven's eyes went glazing with stars. His jaw could have practically fallen off.
"I may have left a few details out."
NEXT CHAPTER: Hands on a Hard Drive