"TASTE MY FURY!"
On a hellish plain littered with the bones of the damned and decorated with the ruins of forgotten fallen kingdoms (and, for some strange reason, a headless statue with a huge wet stain on its crotch), a scrawny young boy, shirtless and clad only in loose pants and a flowing red scarf, roared his rage as he swung his sword, the twin blue antennae of hair peeking out from his head waving wildly.
The blade was parried by a broad, shining bat wing which glowed with otherworldly energy, its edge gleaming like a finely sharpened scythe.
"SOUL SPARK!" A glowing projectile slammed into the bare torso of the boy, driving him backwards. He dug his blade into the ground, gritting his teeth.
"Dammit, Etna! You're my vassal! Fight this disgustingly curvy bitch!"
"Little busy with her jailbait sister, thanks!"
"HEY! I'm three hundred years old!"
"Really? 'Cuz you look like you're twelve."
"Oh, you're one to talk!"
"I'll have you know I'm a hell of a lot older than you. And who ever heard of a succubus who looks like a little girl?"
"I dunno, Japan? Russia? Korea?"
"Wow, humans are really into that kind of thing...?"
"ARGH! WILL YOU THREE SHUT UP! YOU'RE GIVING ME A HEADACHE!"
"Well I for one find this discussion fascinating," said a tall, voluptuous green-haired woman with broad bat wings extending from her mostly-bare back, smaller bat wings sprouting from the sides of her head, and an outfit that would probably get her arrested in most civilized countries. She wrapped an arm around the scrawny boy's shoulders. "You know, we could take a break from the fighting, maybe..." She let her fingers play along his bare shoulder and blew on his ear. "Get better acquainted?"
The boy cut her in half with his sword and backflipped away. "Back off, you big-boobed freak!"
"HEY! Why'd you do that? That was mean! Oneechan? Are you okay?"
"I'll live." The green-haired woman reassembled herself in a flurry of screeching bats, then glared at the blue-haired boy. "Alright, now you've asked for it," she said. "I was going to let you and your little girlfriends be my slaves once I finished conquering your kingdom, but now I'm just going to have to kill you."
"Aww, we're really gonna kill 'em, Oneechan?" The younger of the two succubi—purple-haired, dressed almost exactly like her sister, and scandalously flat-chested and slender—pouted. "I was just starting to have fun!"
"Now, Lilith," the older succubus said patiently, "we can't waste too much time playing with our food. You know that, ri—"
A massive column of fire, black in the center and crackling yellow and green around the edges, slammed down from above, cracking the sky like an egg. Lilith screamed as it engulfed her and the two girls she'd been fighting—a red-haired demon with an even more underdeveloped body and dressed in far less than the succubus, and a blonde, beautiful young girl in a red and white dress—before withdrawing into the yawning chasm of red, glowing nothingness beyond the sky, taking all three with it.
"Oneechan! Oneechan, tasukete!"
"PRINCE! GET US DOWN FROM HERE!"
"WAAAH! LAHARL! HELP!"
Laharl stared up at the surging, burning phenomenon, eyes wide. "What the hell...?"
And then the whole thing disappeared in a white flash, leaving an unnatural stillness and silence behind.
Laharl turned to his uninvited guest and erstwhile invader. "Umm..."
Morrigan Aensland scowled. "To be continued," she said before dissolving in a cloud of bats, which scattered to every corner of the Netherworld.
Laharl crossed his arms and snorted. "Damn...! When I find out who's responsible for this..."
* * * * *
The next thing Etna, Flonne, and Lilith knew, they were lying in the cool grass of a football stadium, a clear blue sky shining above them.
Flonne sat up, rubbing her head, and looked around. "Huh?"
Etna groaned as she sat up. "Ugh...what the hell...?"
"Wah! Oneechan!" Lilith shot to her feet, looking around, her wings fluttering in a wild panic. "Oneechan, where are you?!"
"Calm down," Etna said. "I don't know what just happened, but I'm pretty sure this isn't the Netherworld." She sighed. "Lilith, was it? How about a truce until we figure out what just happened and where we are?"
"A truce sounds good to me too," Flonne said. "I don't even understand why we were fighting in the first place."
Etna snorted. "There's a surprise..."
Lilith slumped to the ground, head bowed. "Oneechan..."
"Wow, a succubus with a sister complex," Etna said. "That's just sad..."
"You know," Flonne said, touching a finger to her lips, "I've never been able to figure out the name 'succubus'. I mean, I've never seen a succubus suck a bus. Have you?"
Lilith blinked in confusion. "Hoe?"
Etna facepalmed. "Ignore her. Her brain's full of hearts and rainbows and guys in spandex and stuff."
Lilith's eyes lit up. "I like guys in spandex..."
Flonne's eyes shone. "Really? What's your favorite sentai?"
Lilith tilted her head. "Hentai? I don't usually watch that. I'm usually too busy being it..."
Etna groaned and stood up. "Forget you two," she said. "I'm outta here."
As she started to walk away, Flonne jumped up and chased after her. "W-wait! Etna! We shouldn't split up! We don't know where we are! It could be dangerous! I don't wanna be lost and alone! Etna, WAIT!"
Flonne ran after Etna. Lilith blinked, then floated off the ground and flew after them. "Don't leave me behind! I thought we were just getting to be friends!"
* * * * *
"What is this world?" Trunks asked as he flew alongside Miles.
"No idea," Miles said. "I'm not from here either. I was mixing it up with some bad guys with my teammates; next thing I know, I'm in the land of technicolor people fighting an old-school low-rent Green Goblin. I haven't even gotten a real explanation yet myself." He glanced at Trunks. "So what's the story with that dude you were fighting?"
Trunks frowned. "I don't know who he is, but he reminds me of..." His brow tightened. "Nevermind. I have a feeling he is also not from this world."
"Yeah, well, there's a lot of that going around lately, apparently. Ah, here's our stop." He descended into the courtyard of what looked like Trunks to be a high school; several people—almost all teenage girls—were sitting around eating pizza. Miles dropped down into their midst; Trunks came in for a landing, touching down lightly on the grass.
"Whoa," a pink girl with a massive mop of curly pink hair said, eyes wide and cheeks darkening. "Hot boy alert."
"Oh my," a pale-skinned girl with meticulous coils of dark purple hair said, fanning herself.
A blond wearing a cowboy hat raised an eyebrow.
Sunset Shimmer waved Trunks over to the table she was sitting at. "Come over here," she said. "Get some pizza, sit down, rest for a minute while we fill you in."
Trunks nodded. "Sumimasen deshita," he said as he took a paper plate, helped himself to a few slices of pizza, and sat down. The pink girl filled a cup with ice and soda and passed it down to him; he accepted it with a grateful nod.
"Everyone, this is...Trunks, you said?" Trunks nodded. Sunset pointed at each person present in turn. "Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Applejack, Twilight Sparkle, Principal Celestia, Vice-Principal Luna. This is Canterlot High School, in the Canterlot suburb. You already met Miles and X."
"Trunks, huh? That's a weird name," Rainbow commented around a mouthful of pizza.
"Says the girl named Rainbow Dash," Miles muttered.
The blue-armored boy, X, looked Trunks up and down, his eyes flashing as he did. "You've sustained numerous injuries," he said. "Two bruised ribs, hairline fractures in your left leg and right arm, and your left shoulder is very nearly dislocated. I'm also detecting multiple contusions. You should be treated by a medical professional immediately."
Trunks shook his head. "I've had worse just training with my master," he said as he pressed his hand against his shoulder, grunting as he popped it back into place. "As soon as I eat and rest for a few minutes, I'll heal up completely."
X frowned. "That seems unlikely."
"How'd you do that, X?" Rainbow asked, tilting her head. "Is your name X because you have X-ray eyes?"
"No, it's..." X shook his head. "Nevermind. My optics are equipped with multiple scanning modes."
"So you can see through our clothes?" Pinkie Pie asked with a smirk.
"Ah...! N-no, I don't...!" X coughed. "I have no interest of...of that kind in humans."
Trunks frowned at that, examining X. "I wondered why I couldn't sense your sentou-ryoku," he said. "You couldn't be...a Jinzouningen?"
X frowned at him. "A what? I'm an android created by Dr. Light. I was created as the ultimate artificial lifeform. I've devoted my entire life to protecting both mankind and my own kind from others like me who have turned...bad."
Trunks looked down. "Sumimasen," he said. "I've had...bad experiences with artificial lifeforms."
X sighed. "You and me both."
Sunset looked at Trunks with concern. "You sure you don't need a doctor? It sounds like you're in pretty bad shape."
"Dude flew here himself and kept up with my web-swinging," Miles said. "I'd say he'd know better than we would." He shrugged. "Besides, I know tons of guys with a healing factor. This one guy I know? Got chewed to pieces by machine guns and set on fire, and an hour later he was beating the crap outta the guys that did it."
"Holy crap," Rainbow said, eyes wide.
"Oh dear. How...violent," Rarity said distastefully.
Celestia tilted her head. "Is...everyone in your world...different?" she asked.
"You mean in the 'superhuman powers' sense?" Miles asked. "No. I'd say there are maybe a thousand or so superheroes, give or take...I think?" He shrugged. "It's just that when you are one, you sort of tend to run in the same circles as all the other superheroes."
"I suppose that makes sense."
"That sounds like the world I'm from," Trunks said. "Or rather, the past. When everyone was still alive." He bowed his head. "I get the impression from my mother that all her friends who were fighters didn't...really hang out with people who weren't fighters very much."
"Oh, don't get me wrong, I have friends who aren't superheroes," Miles said. "It's just that, well...Miles Morales' friends and Kid Arachnid's friends...they're not the same friends, you know? Secret identity and all."
"That must be dreadfully tough," Rarity said.
Trunks smiled. "Secret identity, huh? That sounds interesting. Where I'm from, people with my level of fighting power more or less keep to ourselves, or the few people closest to us. Like my mom." He looked up at the sky. "That was the start of everything...the day she met Son Goku."
"Your father?" Luna asked.
Trunks blinked and shook his head. "No...my father is Vegeta. Goku is, well...a legend. They were the last two Saiyajin in the universe. The last two from their home planet, I mean." He bowed his head. "In my time, they've both been dead for years. But in the alternate timeline I helped create, they're alive and well—well, Vegeta is. Goku..." He closed his eyes. "Still died." He shook himself and looked around with a sheepish smile. "Sumimasen. Things have been kinda rough in my world."
"Oh, you poor thing," Rarity said, scooting closer to him. "If you ever need to talk..."
"The brooding loner type, huh?" Sunset asked. "You must be constantly surrounded by girls."
Trunks sighed and closed his eyes. "I don't even know any girls where I come from," he said. "None that are still alive."
"This boy needs a party," Pinkie Pie announced. "And a cake. And I'd be more than happy to jump out of i—"
She was cut off by a shrill scream, drawing nearer as a flailing body fell out of the sky. Everyone looked up in shock.
A naked teenage girl crashed through the table in front of Trunks, sending bits of wood, plates of pizza, and cups of soda flying everywhere.
Pinkie blinked. "Or that works."
A single slice of pizza which had glued itself to Trunks' face slowly slid down, leaving behind a huge smear of cheese and sauce.
* * * * *
Spike belched out a letter, and Twilight levitated it over.
We'll have the expedition outfitted and ready to go by the time you reach the Crystal Empire. Shining Armor and Sunburst will accompany you to the Crystal Mountains. Be careful.
Twilight let out a sigh of relief. "Okay, that's taken care of." She looked around at her friends. "I'm sorry about this, girls."
"Ain't no big thing, sugarcube. You sure you don't want us comin' along?"
Twilight shook her head. "This is going to be a long expedition, and you all have responsibilities here in Ponyville." She looked at the two new faces in the throne room and smiled. "Besides, I think I've got all the help I need."
Maud Pie offered a faint smile. "I've always wanted to examine the mineral strata in the Crystal Mountains."
Limestone Pie grunted. "Just so long as I'm not away from the farm too long. Some of us have real work to do, you know!"
Pinkie Pie bounced happily. "Going on an expedition with both of my big sisters! This'll be so exciting!"
Applejack chuckled. "Well, yeah, Ah guess if you're goin' minin', you wanna take along th' experts."
"Well, I guess we'd best be off," Twilight said, strapping on her saddlebags. "It's a long train ride to the Crystal Empire. Starlight, head on over to the other world and report to Sunset Shimmer, alright?"
Starlight nodded. "Will do. Good luck!"
Twilight smiled and looked around at her friends. "See you soon, everypony. I hope."
* * * * *
The naked girl sat up, looked around, looked down at herself, and screamed some more.
"H-here!" Trunks said hurriedly, slinging off his sword and shrugging off his jacket, which he handed to the girl. Sunset Shimmer did likewise. After blinking at the two of them, the girl frowned, looked down at herself again, and let out a frustrated grown. "Mattaku..." She pressed her hands together in an odd gesture. "Henge!"
In a puff of smoke, maroon silk pants, black sandals, and a frog-tied white silk shirt with maroon trim appeared over her nude body. She looked around at everyone present, cheeks flushed. "Anou..."
Miles tilted his head. "You're speaking Japanese, but the clothes and the hair buns are Chinese..."
The girl frowned in confusion. "Chinese? Japanese? What's that?" She shook her head, then stood up, brushing herself off. "A-anyway..." Her cheeks flushed. "Where am I?" She looked around. "I don't recognize this place, and..." She trailed off, blinking. "Ehhhhh?! Why is there a blue girl and a pink girl and a purple girl and—"
"Not this again," Rainbow muttered.
"AND WHY DOES THE BLUE GIRL HAVE WINGS?!"
"Would you please calm down?" Sunset said. "We can explain."
"More importantly, how are you not injured after crashing through a wooden table?" X asked.
The girl blinked at that. "I've had worse," she said. "Umm...sorry about your table. And your food."
"It's alright," Celestia said. "We have plenty of tables and plenty of pizza. Would you care for some?"
A few minutes later, the smashed table had been cleared and replaced, everyone whose plates had been scattered had new pizza and drinks, Trunks and Sunset had put their jackets back on, and Trunks had cleaned the pizza stains off his face. The new girl took a long drink of her soda, then looked around. "My name is Tenten," she said. "I'm a kunoichi from Konohagakure."
"This is Canterlot High School," Sunset said. She went around the table making introductions, then said, "We're having some...problems here. The short version is that a magical artifact is breaking reality, and people and things are getting pulled here from different dimensions. And before you ask, no, we can't send you back yet. We're still working on fixing the problem, but it's going to take time, and the reality damage is getting worse by the minute."
Trunks narrowed his eyes. "That must be the power I sensed," he said. He sighed. "So that explains what I'm doing here."
Tenten sighed. "Mou..." Shaking her head, she looked around. "Well, I guess this looks like a nice enough place for a vacation. It's not like I was doing much back home but training, not with Konoha still being rebuilt." She flushed. "I, umm...I will need to borrow some real clothes from someone, though. I can't hold this jutsu forever."
"Jutsu?" Rainbow asked.
Tenten blinked. "You don't have ninjutsu in this world?"
"Only in video games and cartoons and comics and stuff."
"So you can just like, make clothes with ninja magic?" Pinkie asked.
Tenten nodded. "Or turn into somebody else, or even disguise as an inanimate object. But maintaining the jutsu requires constant release of chakra, so the sooner I can get some real clothes, the better."
"I can help you with that, darling," Rarity said. She eyed Tenten critically. "I'm afraid I don't have anything in stock in that particular style, but I'm sure I'll have something at the boutique you'll like. At least until I can come up with something like that...I mean, if you'd prefer that."
Tenten nodded. "I would," she said gratefully. "This is what I'm most used to wearing and fighting in."
"Something tells me you'll get to do a lot of that here," Miles said.
"Excuse me," a new voice intruded. "Which one of you is Sunset Shimmer?"
The entire group turned to see a pinkish-purple unicorn standing, observing them with wide purple eyes. Her voluminous violet mane was styled in an elegant wave, and had two pale aquamarine stripes running through it.
Sunset raised her hand. "Right here," she said.
Tenten stared at the unicorn. "What...the...?"
"I'm Starlight Glimmer, Princess Twilight's student? She sent me." Starlight looked around. "So, umm...wow. She didn't tell me humans were so...wow!" She smiled a wide, bright smile. "And...I see a lot of you look a lot like certain friends of mine..." She blinked as her eyes landed on Sci-Twi. "T-Twilight?! B-but..."
Sunset stood. "Didn't Princess Twilight warn you about the doubles of everypony?" she asked. "And her own double?"
Starlight flinched and smiled sheepishly. "I, uhh...maybe sometimes only hear every third word she says?" She laughed nervously.
Sunset facepalmed. "Come on," she said. "We'll get you up to speed...Sci-Twi, come with us to the lab."
* * * * *
Etna, Flonne, and Lilith tore up meters of sidewalk at a time as they fled from the police car chasing them, its siren blaring and its lights flashing.
"This is stupid!" Etna snarled. "Why the hell are we running?"
"Because they're gonna arrest us if they catch us?" Flonne offered.
"I don't mind being arrested," Lilith said, licking her lips. "I haven't eaten a policeman's soul in a while."
"I don't wanna be arrested!" Flonne wailed. "I don't even know why they wanna arrest us!"
"I think it's mostly me and Etna," Lilith said. "They probably think we're hookers or something."
Flonne blinked. "What's a hooker?"
"Is she serious?"
Etna shrugged. "If it's a human thing that isn't guys in spandex or giant robots or spaceships, I don't think she knows about it."
//This is the police! I order you to surrender! You aren't being charged with anything, we just want to take you into custody, get some information...find out why your parents allowed girls your age to run around dressed like that...//
"Ah, MOU!" Lilith cried in frustration. Stopping and turning, she threw her hands down and to her sides while thrusting her chest forward. "SOUL FLASH!"
A glowing green bat-shaped fireball surrounded by fluttering hearts launched itself from Lilith's heart, speeding toward the oncoming police car and slamming into the hood. It punched through the hood; a second projectile followed, then a third. The car slowed, then stopped. The officer got out as the windshield shattered and smoke billowed up from the crumpled, punctured hood.
Lilith took Etna and Flonne each by a hand and flew up high, clearing the top of the nearest building as the cop below watched in bewilderment.
Etna jerked her hand away and touched down on the roof, crossing her arms. "Why didn't you just do that in the first place?" she demanded.
Lilith shrugged. "Sometimes it's fun letting the cops chase you." She put her hands behind her head and gave Etna a sleepy look with one eye. "What's your excuse?"
Etna coughed and looked away, cheeks burning. "I'm feeling...not-so-demon-fresh, okay?"
"I was just running because you two were running," Flonne said. "And because I think that's what the bad guys are supposed to..." She paused, her eyes going wide. "Wait. Are we the bad guys?"
Lilith groaned and facepalmed. "Of course not!" she said. "We didn't do anything! We were minding our own business when that cop started chasing us!"
"Oh. Right." Flonne blinked. "So then...the cops are the bad guys? Oh, I'm so confused...!"
Etna groaned. "Whatever. Let's just find a place to hide out until we can figure out where we are without having some dipshit cops chasing us around, alright?"
"Good idea," Lilith said, glancing up at the sunny sky with a frown. "I'm really not a daylight kind of girl..."