The Rangers were having trouble fighting Puppymonkeybaby. Partly because they really didn't have it in their hearts to hurt the thing, which wasn't even fighting back—but mostly because it somehow managed to dodge everything they threw at it.
"Okay, this guy's wearing out his welcome," Franklin muttered.
"Moves too fast! No can hit!"
"Yeah, and we're doing way too much collateral damage every time we try," Lamia said with a frown. "Airazor, any suggestions?"
There was a long pause.
The combined voices of five Maximals replied:
"We just need to catch it."
"Great," Lamia said dryly. She shook her head. "Well, if that's the best we can—"
And then a second giant robot dropped out of the sky, landing right on top of Puppymonkeybaby and knocking it flat to the ground.
"Whoa," Forrest said. "What the—?"
"More robot?" Hatoko asked.
The new arrival had gleaming metallic blue armor on most of its chassis; what wasn't covered in blue armor was a flat silver color. Its design was functional and straightforward; from its bare-bones construction, it was clearly designed to be a giant weapon. Its silver head had no discernible facial features, and the only design element that seemed to be purely decorative was the yellow X across its chest, which was extended and embellished by huge, flaring shoulder and hip guards.
"Is it the other Rangers?" Franklin wondered.
"We don't think so," the combined voice of the Maximals said. "We're only scanning four humans inside the robot. No discernible morphic energy detected." There was a pause. "We need to back off! We're detecting a massive energy buildup—"
The blue robot's right arm transformed into a massive plasma cannon, which unloaded point-blank into Puppymonkeybaby's head. The Rangers turned away in dismay and disgust as the top half of Puppymonkeybaby exploded into ragged chunks of burnt flesh and gore. The bottom half twitched and went still before exploding in a tremendous spray of sparks and smoke.
The new robot stood, silent as a statue, back to the carnage.
A distorted voice filled the control deck of PowerMega:
"Sorry about the mess."
And with that, the robot launched itself into the sky in a giant leap.
The Rangers looked at each other, at a loss for words.
Finally, Lamia sighed. "Well...that happened." She shook her head and took off her helmet. "Let's...let's go back."
* * * * *
Trunks and Coco began their search shortly after nine in the morning. They decided to split up to cover more ground; they agreed to meet at a cafe Coco liked at around one in the afternoon for lunch and to compare notes. Trunks offered to lend Coco a vehicle, but she waved him off, electing to get as much use out of her city bus pass as she could before leaving Manehattan behind forever. Trunks had been on the road for twenty minutes when he again felt that worrisome sentou-ryoku flying around over the city. Frowning, he pulled off the street into a grimy alley, returned his bike to capsule form, and flew up into the sky, headed in the direction of that fighting power, careful to suppress his own ki to the bare minimum necessary for flight.
It didn't take long for him to find the source: a large, heavily-muscled man with an enormous mane of spiky black hair that trailed down past his waist. He wore black armor with ribbed orange shoulderpads and girding, black boots, and black fingerless gauntlets. A small device with a green eyepiece was fastened to his left ear. A thick, hairy brown belt was wrapped around his waist; one end of it was uncurled and lashed about freely as he stared out over the city with an angry scowl.
*No, not a belt. A tail.*
A fierce frown crossed Trunks' face. Master Gohan had told him much of his adventures as a boy, and the first time he had ever faced real danger in his entire life. As a child, Trunks had listened attentively to every story, every detail his master shared with him, because a lot of Gohan's stories were the closest thing he'd ever have to a connection with his late father.
The man hovering before him figured prominently in Gohan's tales of his early life. If this was, indeed, him...
Trunks firmed his jaw and disappeared in a blur of speed, reappearing directly in front of the Saiyajin with his arms folded and his stance open. "Oi, kimi."
The Saiyajin blinked in surprise at his abrupt appearance. "Where the hell did you come from?!"
"What are you doing in this city?" Trunks demanded.
The Saiyajin scowled. "Not that it's any of your business," he snapped, "but I'm searching for someone. And if you know what's good for you, you'll go back where you came from before I kill you."
Trunks shook his head. "I don't think so."
The Saiyajin's tail became more agitated. "Fool! Do you really want to die?" He touched his scouter, which beeped and flashed. He smirked. "Hn. You're not even worth my time."
Trunks raised an eyebrow. "Is that what you think?" He relaxed his stance. "Because from where I stand, a wet kitten is more of a threat to me than you."
*Keep him angry. His anger is his weakness. A Saiyajin who can't control his anger is his own worst enemy.*
The Saiyajin gnashed his teeth, his left eye twitching. "You...you little...!" He advanced menacingly. "You dare?!" He extended one hand to his side, gathering a ball of ki. With a snarl, he threw it at Trunks.
Trunks batted it into the stratosphere with a negligent wave of his hand. Then, in the same motion, he darted forward and buried a fist in the Saiyajin's gut, doubling him over. Before the blow even registered, he slammed an elbow into his upper back, driving him to the nearest rooftop. He crashed with a tremendous bang, cracking the concrete and sending dust and pigeons into the sky.
Trunks landed beside the Saiyajin and hauled him to his knees by the collar of his armor. "You are Raditz, are you not?"
Raditz glared at him, but there was a light of fear in his glare. "What of it?" he snarled.
Trunks dropped him. "And you dare attack your prince?" *Otousama...thank you for showing me your true self, for breaking my pedestals down, for letting me see what an arrogant little bastard you truly were...I need that heritage now.*
"Prince?" Raditz snapped. "What...what are you talking about, brat? You're...you're a lowly hu—"
Trunks clamped a hand around Raditz's throat. With a yell of rage, he let his power build up. Raditz's scouter let out an alarming shriek and exploded.
Trunks kept going. The building shook beneath him. In seconds, his Super Saiyajin aura exploded around him, his eyes turning green and his hair going from fine, limp purple to spiky, waving gold.
"FOOL!" he spat. "I am Trunks Vegeta, son of Vegeta, your rightful lord and master! On your knees, or I will destroy you as easily as I would swat a mosquito!"
Raditz's eyes widened. "M-masaka..." Swallowing, he knelt, bowing his head. "You...you're the...Legendary Super Saiyajin..."
"That's right," Trunks said. "A power I inherited from my father before me."
Raditz frowned. "But...but how?" he whispered. "How can you be Vegeta-sama's son...? He has no children...for you to be his son, he would have needed to produce an heir before he—"
Trunks kicked Raditz to the ground. "I'm from your future, you idiot!" he snapped. "I was born four years after you died!"
Raditz sat up, his eyes wide. "My...death..." He shook his head. "You're...from the future? Is that possible?"
"Of course it is," Trunks said impatiently. "Look around you! Surely you understand that the very universe is coming apart all around us? Past and future, time and space, they're blending together into a chaotic mess!"
"So that's how it is," Raditz said, frowning. "I had wondered how I arrived on this pitiful planet, cut off from contact with Vegeta-sama..." He shook his head. "So Vegeta-sama sent his son to retrieve me?"
"Idiot," Trunks said. "I found you by accident. Your life means nothing to me."
"Of-of course, My Lord," Raditz said, pressing his forehead to the concrete. "I...I live to serve you, as I have served your father."
"Good," Trunks said. He frowned. "I sensed you fighting another warrior above this city last night. Explain."
Raditz blinked. "You sensed...?"
"Saiyajin in my time have no need of scouters," Trunks said. "Now, explain."
"H-hai," Raditz said, swallowing nervously. "I..." He coughed. "It shames me to admit, I have allied myself with a group of lower life forms since arriving in this world. Base criminals. They were...an amusing diversion, while I attempted to find out why I'm here. We encountered a group of warriors. One of them, a girl, had a sentou-ryoku of 280. She was...a surprisingly persistent and determined foe. We fought to a stalemate."
"Sou ka," Trunks said, nodding. "And have you killed anyone since arriving on this planet?"
"No," Raditz said, shaking his head. "Information is more useful to me than dead bodies right now. Though that girl from last night...I would be thrilled to—"
"No," Trunks said. "You will kill no one." He paused, then added, "If you encounter the girl again, you may fight her, but not to the death. Do as little damage to this planet and its people as you can."
Raditz blinked in confusion. "My Lord?"
"That is the order of your prince," Trunks said. "I dare not kill you—you must return to your proper place in our universe's timeline alive—but defy me and I will make you wish I would kill you."
Raditz began to sweat nervously. "H-HAI!"
Trunks nodded. "Good." He pulled a small communicator from his pocket and dropped it on the ground, along with a copy of the photograph of Sunset. "One more thing," he said. "I'm searching for this human here in this city. If you see her, contact me and tell me where she is."
"Of-of course, My Lord," Raditz said, picking up the photograph and committing it to memory. As Trunks turned to leave, Raditz said, "My Lord? You said you dare not kill me...may I ask why?"
Trunks glanced back at him, weighing the risk of telling him the truth. "Your death is the beginning of a chain of events that leads to the death of Freeza," he said. "Freeza murdered the Saiyajin race. For that, he must die."
Raditz frowned. "Then Father was right..."
"Aa." Trunks nodded. "You must die at a specific time, in a specific place, in order to begin the chain of events that ends with your brother Kakarotto becoming the first Super Saiyajin in ten thousand years."
Raditz's eyes widened. "K-Kakarotto?! I-impossible..."
Trunks snorted. "Kakarotto finds the key for all Saiyajin to attain this power," he said. "But you will never know the power, because your fate is sealed." With that, he flew away.
Raditz remained on the damaged rooftop for some time, mind whirling.
* * * * *
In an abandoned building in the seamier side of Canterlot City, two people crouched over a map. Both were young with raven hair; the older of the two was at the end of his teen years, with stormy blue-grey eyes, while the younger was a girl anywhere between twelve and fifteen with sharp, dark eyes.
"Took a while to narrow it down without my backup eyes," the older teen said as he ran a black-gloved finger along the map. "Canterlot High School, in this part of the city. That's the source of all this."
The girl nodded thoughtfully. "I've been hearing it mentioned more often than anywhere else, even with all the other things going on across the city."
"Across the world," the boy corrected. "There seem to be three main hotspots, from the news reports I've been able to catch." He frowned. "I hate working with this old tech. I know the old man would mock me for how bad a job I'm doing figuring all this out, but this stuff's straight up from my mom and dad's childhood. I can barely patch in."
"Heeeeeeh," the girl mused. "I was thinking it's not too different from where I come from, except maybe a little bit better." She shook her head. "But sometimes you have to do things the old fashioned way, even if it's a pain."
The boy snorted. "Yeah. Trust me, I know." He glanced at the map again, his mouth tightening. "We'll need to make contact."
The girl nodded. "I've been watching certain people on the ground. I think I know who's more or less in charge when it comes to all this. If she's still where she was last night, we can go straight to her. If not, well..." She shrugged. "She'll turn up at that school eventually."
"Alright." The boy pulled a shadowy black mask over his face that seamlessly joined with the black outfit he wore. "Let's get to—"
"—I was gonna say 'work' actually."
Two massive birds with curved beaks and black feathers burst through the boarded-up bay windows of the building, flooding the dusty room with sunlight. They spread their wings wide and let out victorious screeches.
"Oh, you have got to be kidding me."
The girl adjusted her glasses. "I like my chicken wings delivered already fried and sauced," she said.
"Yeah, there's fresh and then there's WHOA!"
A glowing chunk of something shot out of one of the birds' beaks. The two teens barely got out of the way in time; it exploded in their midst, incinerating their map.
They looked at each other, nodded, and fled.
* * * * *
Four teens leaned against the side wall of a convenience store. One teen was studying his smartphone intently; his eyes were glowing blue. After a long moment, his eyes faded to a darker color and he slumped slightly. "Okay, so...we're definitely not in America anymore."
Next to him, a fair-skinned teen dressed as a slacker snorted. "Kinda figured that out from all the alien-looking people walking around."
"Hey, I'm all for a place where nobody cares what color your skin is," the shortest, pudgiest teen said. The two teens of similar skin color looked at him, then at each other, and nodded grimly.
"Yeah, not something that comes up often back home, but...good point," the tallest teen said. He sighed. "So where are we, Ryan?"
"Well, this city's called Canterlot," Ryan said. As the Asian teen next to him started to speak up, he interrupted, "Yes, Harris, Canter. Look for yourself."
Harris did so, frowning. "Canterlot," he said aloud. "This country is...Cavallonia?" He scrolled around the map, frowning. "Wow. This place sure loves horses."
"I know, right?" Ryan said, taking his phone back. "Anyway, from what I can tell, this whole place is basically going crazy. Superheroes, supervillains, alien invaders, monsters, robots, all kinds of stuff showing up and wrecking the place." He shrugged. "Whatever that thing we fell through was, it must've come from here."
"So we need to find out where it came from and make whoever did it send us back," the tallest teen said.
The white teen cracked his knuckles. "Well, we've got a giant robot, I'd say that puts us up over...whoever or whatever we're dealing with."
"Not necessarily," Harris said. "We need to go back to Mech-X4. I can use the scanners to try to figure out what's going on here." He frowned. "As soon as Ryan hacks me into this world's Internet and satellites."
"Shouldn't be a problem," Ryan said. With a sigh, he added, "Now for the bad news. Since someone—Spyder—forgot to stock up the emergency provisions in Mech-X4—"
"Yeah I don't know if junk food counts as 'emergency provisions'—" the tallest teen interrupted.
"—we have to make what we've got left last, or we'll have to steal food to survive."
The four teens looked at each other. The white teen shrugged. "Wouldn't be the worst thing we've abused Ryan's powers for," he said. "Or the dumbest reason!"
"This is true," Harris said.
"Okay, so let's—"
A massive, yellow-feathered bird with a wickedly curved beak strutted into view. It was easily as tall as any of the teens. It studied them with one gleaming, beady black eye, then let out a sharp, grating cry.
Five more of the giant birds fluttered into view, surrounding them. Only one had the yellow feathers of the first; two of the new arrivals had bright red feathers, while the other two had dark purple-black feathers. They all let out sharp, piercing cries as they bobbed their heads and scratched their sharp-clawed feet on the ground, studying the teens intently.
"Dang, son," Harris said, whistling.
* * * * *
As the periodic rains soaking Canterlot let up and people prepared to go about their day, the next extradimensional crisis descended in fits and starts. By noon, everyone who had planned to venture outside for the day was back in their homes or holed up in shops and office buildings and fast-food restaurants, staring out at the latest wave of insanity to plague the city.
The birds were everywhere, and some of them could cause huge magical fiery explosions.
"Okay seriously screw this!" Adrien snapped as he stared out the window of Octavia's house. "First the pineapple guy, then the brainbots, then those maggot monsters, then the indestructible zombies and the nasty psychotic demon, and now giant killer chickens?!" He shook his head. "I'm getting a little fed up with the constant monster swarms!"
"We all are, minou," Marinette said soothingly. She sighed. "At least they're not trying to break in."
"Yeah, but we're pretty much trapped here," Sunset Shimmer said, frowning. "If we even try to set foot outside, we'll be bird feed." She grimaced. "I...I got nothing." She flopped down on one of the living room sofas and buried her face in her hands. "I'm sorry, everyone. This is all my fault..."
Etna snorted. "You guys, it's just a bunch of overgrown chickens," she said with a roll of her eyes. "It's not the end of the world!"
"Umm...technically it kind of is?" Flonne pointed out. "I mean, the chickens are just the latest symptom of, you know, the end of the world..."
"I suppose...I could dispose of these creatures," Elsa said regretfully. "But I would...prefer not to use my power on them. I mean, they're not...they aren't evil, they're...they're simple animals. It wouldn't be right..."
"No," Sunset said with a shake of her head. "You're right. It's not their fault they're here and they're not...I mean, they're just upset, scared, and hungry animals. It's best to just let them be until they—"
A glowing red-hot projectile exploded against the front of the house. Adrien and Marinette staggered away from the window. "MERDE!" Marinette cried.
"SEE? YOU SEE?!" Adrien yelled at the room at large, waving his hands frantically at the smoke obscuring the window. "FIRST IT'S UNDEAD HORDES, NOW IT'S FREAKIN' DEVIL CHICKENS!"
Another explosion shook the house. Everyone looked around in terror and concern.
"Okay yeah, the giant chickens have gotta go," Etna said sourly, pulling a massive hand cannon out of her panties. "I dunno about you guys, but I like mine extra-crispy!"
"Newsflash, they like us extra-crispy!" Aladdin said as he brandished his ring. "Plagg, claws out!" As his Plagg was sucked into the Miraculous, Adrien also transformed; Marinette and Jasmine looked at one another, nodded, and transformed.
Elsa sighed. "If we must," she said. An unhappy-looking Flonne drew a longbow out of thin air.
Flash grimaced. "Great. Still more fighting."
* * * * *
"OW! You stupid overgrown—"
Shego, Kim Possible, and Tenten found themselves surrounded on all sides by furious chocobos. When Shego had begun lobbing green energy blasts at the birds, the red chocobos had started firing their exploding chunks of asteroid at her, forcing her on the defensive. Tenten's cache of ninja tools was depleted, and the yellow chocobos were using some sort of healing magic to keep their bird brethren in top fighting form.
"Okay, for the record?" Kim said, looking warily around at the chocobos. "Of all the incredibly stupid ways I've ever pictured myself dying? This is far stupider than anything I could conceivably have ever imagined."
"Get it together, Pyranipples," Shego said, narrowing her eyes. "I'm not about to let us die here when I still have so many good years left to get on your nerves."
Tenten snickered. "Pyranipples," she said. "That's a good one."
Kim blushed and started to protest, then paused, blinking. "Okay, yeah, that one was actually pretty funny," she admitted, shaking her head. "Well ladies, it's been an honor, but—"
A series of small explosions rippled through the ring of chocobos around them. The birds drew back, wary.
A jet black shape dropped from the sky. Tall, gaunt, with two long, tapered points—ears? Horns?—on its head, its hands ended in sharp talons. It flung one hand forward, and a flashing red-and-black projectile shaped like a bat swooped out, trailing a wire. It flew low, wrapping around the legs of several chocobos. The black figure pulled the wire taut, and the birds dropped to the ground with much surprised squawking.
A young girl with shoulder-length black hair landed beside the dark shape. She wore a sleeveless red minidress that zipped up the front and was slit to her hips on the sides, detached black sleevelets that extended from her elbows to her wrists, white canvas shorts, and black over-the-knee tights with cushioned black open-toed shoes with thick, rugged soles. An equipment pouch was strapped to her right thigh, and a crimson headband was tied around her forehead, over which her long raven bangs fell. Pinkish-red glasses covered sharp black eyes. She held a kunai in one hand.
Tenten caught sight of the back of the girl's dress and let out a shocked gasp.
"We've got this," the girl said confidently. She blurred into motion; Kim lost track of her, and Shego could only blink in astonishment. One, then five, then ten chocobos all dropped to the ground, blood spraying from severed arteries. The other new arrival grunted in irritation, but moved among the remaining birds, delivering solid punches and kicks that stunned, dazed, and dropped the birds. Occasionally, a chocobo would try to muster a counterattack, but the dark figure would throw some sort of small explosive or a gas pellet, or the girl would respond with a hail of shuriken or a massive fireball of her own.
Within two minutes, most of the chocobos surrounding the three girls were unconscious or dead, and the rest lost their nerve, turned tail, and ran.
The two newcomers landed in front of them. "Are you alright?" the dark figure asked. Now that he was facing them, the girls could see the stylized red bat emblem emblazoned across his chest. His voice was male, deep, and rough, but young—Kim mused that it sounded a bit like Ron when he was in a particularly serious mood. The girl landed beside him; Kim noticed, for the first time, that the metal plate on her headband had the same emblem on it as Tenten's.
Tenten noticed it too; she took a challenging step forward, a brace of senbon at the ready. "Who are you?" she asked, eyes narrowed.
The girl pushed her glasses up with the middle finger of her right hand. "Uchiha Sarada," she said. "A kunoichi of Konohagakure."
Tenten paled. "Uchi...ha..."
And without warning, she attacked.