Sunset, Tenten, and Chat Noir stared at Principal Kuno.
He stared back at them with a crazed grin.
Chat Noir's baton lashed out twice, knocking Kuno's implements of hair butchery from his hands. Tenten followed up, kicking him multiple times in the face, sweeping his legs, then booting him in the gut, sending him flying out into the hall where he crashed into the wall and landed in a heap.
Chat Noir grinned and held out a fist to Tenten. "Pound it!" Tenten smiled and obliged him, then looked at Kuno.
"So...that ended quickly," she said. "We should find something to tie him up with..."
Kuno started laughing. "Dat ain't goan' be happenin' wahine," he said. He reached into his pockets and flicked two objects at them. Tenten reacted on instinct and intercepted them with her kunai...
Whatever he'd thrown at them exploded violently, spreading a cloud of pepper. Tenten and Chat Noir doubled over, gasping and choking, their eyes watering and burning. Cackling madly, Kuno escaped down the hall.
Sunset used her magic to stir a wind in the hall to clear out the pepper. "Are you two alright?" she asked.
Tenten wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "Dammit, I can't believe I fell for that," she muttered. "That's a trick right out of the first week of academy training."
"I am absolutely gonna use that bastard for a scratching post," Chat Noir rasped out as he coughed and choked. "I'll roast him with a pineapple shoved up his—!"
"Settle down, catboy," Sunset said. "Right now, we need to focus on rescuing the hostages. Once they're safe, we can pound him into poi."
Chat Noir took a deep breath and nodded. "Sorry," he said. "I don't usually lose my kitty cool like that. I just really hate getting pepper up my nose."
"Nobody's a fan of it," Tenten said with a smile. "Okay, let's go save the students!"
The three of them raced down the hall, swiftly finding a flight of stairs that led to the first floor. Upon arrival, they followed the sound of voices until they reached the school foyer. Crystal Prep's student body was mashed up against the walls and the steel shutters covering the exit. In one corner, four girls crowded around a fifth who sat slouched against the wall, her face buried in her hands. Sunset frowned; the girl seemed familiar, but she couldn't immediately place her. She had blue skin and ice-blue hair in a hideous, choppy bowl cut. The four girls consoling her, she knew; they were the Shadowbolts she and her friends had competed against at the Friendship Games. The only one missing was Sugarcoat...
"Hey, it's Sunset Shimmer," Lemon Zest said as they drew close. The crying girl looked up, and Sunset gasped.
It was Sugarcoat.
"What...what happened to your hair?!" Sunset gasped, pointing a trembling hand at Sugarcoat.
Sugarcoat glared at her with red-rimmed eyes. "That psychotic maniac who took us all hostage happened," she said. "He's completely insane. I don't know how you managed to get in here or who those people with you are, but if you can get us out of here and get the police, we would all appreciate it. That maniac needs to rot in jail for a long time." She frowned and added, "Leather catsuits look ridiculous on boys."
"Speak for yourself," Lemon Zest said, licking her lips. "Hello, kitty."
Chat Noir grinned. "Hello, ladies," he purred.
Sunset facepalmed and slapped him upside the head. "Focus," she said. She studied the steel shutters and frowned. "I'm not sure I can open this with my magic," she said.
"Aww, that's too bad," Sour Sweet cooed in a syrupy tone. She then narrowed her eyes and folded her arms. "She can blast our ex-classmate turned demon and close up holes in reality but can't open a stupid door," she muttered bitterly.
Chat Noir frowned thoughtfully. "I can do it, but..." He grimaced. "Yeah, I can handle it. Everybody move away from the doors!"
The students glanced at one another, shrugged, and cleared a path.
"I don't think your super extend-o-stick can break down steel shutters," Tenten said. She paused, then added, "Can it?"
"No, not a chance," Chat Noir said. "But I've got something different in mind. Stand back." As the others moved away, he raised his right hand above his head, palm facing up, claws curled slightly inward. "CATACLYSM!" Motes of blackness gathered in his hand; he clenched his fist, then charged toward the shutters, his hand glowing black. As he reached the doors, he pressed his hand against them.
Sunset, Tenten, and the Shadowbolts could only stare in astonishment as the steel shutters immediately corroded and crumbled into a pile of rust.
"Holy crap," Indigo Zap said.
"Dude. Wicked," Lemon Zest opined.
"We can get out now!" a male student shouted. "Let's go!"
"Wait a second," Sunset said, holding up a hand. "That nutjob has the entire courtyard mined. You can't just run out there, you might blow yourselves up."
The Shadowbolts stopped in their tracks, turning to stare at her.
"Well that's just great," Sour Sweet grumbled. "What good's having a way out if we can't use it?"
"Nobody said you can't use it," Sunset said. "I just need everyone to be patient and listen to me." She looked down the hall. "Tenten, Chat Noir, each of you lead a group of students. Sugarcoat, can you lead a group?"
Sugarcoat nodded. "I'm upset about my hair, not injured or concussed."
"Alright. Everybody go to the nearest classrooms you can find and grab desks. Every desk you can find. Bring them here." She grimaced. "And pray my magic is up to this."
"What's your plan?" Tenten asked.
"I'm gonna make a floating bridge," Sunset said. "Hurry, everyone! We have no idea where that psycho is or what he's planning."
A loud beep drew everyone's attention to Chat Noir. He studied the glossy black ring on his right hand and grimaced. "We're gonna have to work fast," he said. "I've got four minutes."
"Four minutes until what?" Tenten asked curiously.
Chat Noir considered that for a second. "I'll tell you later," he said, running down the hall. "Some of you, follow me! We'll grab desks so she can make her bridge out of this luau from hell!"
Tenten shook her head. "You heard him! Group up, start grabbing desks!" She ran after Chat Noir; the Shadowbolts split into two lines and followed them, while Sugarcoat and her friends gathered a third group.
Two minutes later, they returned, everyone carrying a desk over their head. Sunset nodded. "Okay, just hold them like that and let go when you feel the tug." She held out her hands, which began to shine with a brilliant teal glow. One by one, all the desks were limned in a weaker teal aura. Sunset closed her eyes, her face screwed up in concentration. The school's front doors exploded open with a loud bang. The desks flew from the hands of the Shadowbolts, streaming in an orderly line through the door, stretching out from the steps to the open gate, hanging precariously a few feet off the ground with a good stride's length between them.
"Okay..." Sunset grunted through clenched teeth. "Everybody GO. HURRY!"
Looking at one another in confusion and uncertainty, the Shadowbolts filed through the doors in a line, carefully but quickly crossing the bridge of floating desks. Sunset's eyes screwed more tightly shut, sweat streaming down her face, her entire body trembling.
At last, the final student had safely escaped. Tenten called out, "NOW!"
"AGH!" Sunset released the desks, collapsing to the floor. A string of violent explosions rocked the school; clouds of smoke and dust and dirt billowed up from the courtyard as every single mine detonated.
"Merde!" Chat Noir spat, staring with wide eyes at the destruction. "I don't know what's crazier, that the Hawaiian nutjob mined a high school, or that you actually made a floating bridge out of desks! What are you, an esper?"
"Unicorn," Sunset said, taking a deep breath and pinching the bridge of her nose. "Long story."
Chat Noir's ring beeped again. "Love to hear it, maybe later," he said. "I've got less than a minute to scram!"
"But...! We need your help!" Tenten protested.
"That's why I've gotta scram!" Chat Noir said. "Using my Cataclysm means I only have five minutes until I lose my transformation! I have to find a safe place to change back and recharge!" He waved at them. "Adieu, ladies!" With that, he ran off down the hall.
Sunset watched him go, then stood up, her legs trembling. "Well, we're on our own until he comes back," she said. "If he comes back."
Tenten sighed. "You okay?"
"I will be," Sunset said. "I'm not completely used to having my magic back yet and I'm really out of practice. That took a lot out of me." She flexed her fingers. "Just give me a minute, then we'll go find Dean Cadance and Principal Cinch. Then we'll go after the asshole that started all this."
Tenten smiled grimly. "Can't wait."
* * * * *
Miles sat in a hard plastic chair in one of the emergency treatment rooms of the hospital, wringing his mask in his hands. Across from him, Trunks lay on the exam cot, breathing steadily. The swelling and redness had almost completely faded.
A nurse walked in, examining a tablet. "Your friend recovers quickly, I'll give him that," she said. "Usually it takes twice as long to get over an attack that severe."
"He's a tough dude," Miles said.
The nurse nodded. "Now, you realize there are some forms to fill out. Medical history, insurance information, all that—"
Miles stared incredulously at her. "Dude. Have you looked at us? At that crazy mess out in the lobby?"
The nurse sighed. "Alright, so things are strange and there are people showing up who clearly aren't from...around here, but this is still a hospital and we still have to—"
Trunks sat up, holding his head and groaning. "Neither of us have money or legal documentation here," he said. "If it hadn't been an emergency, I'm sure my friend wouldn't have brought me here." He pulled a small, slim metal case from his pocket.
The nurse frowned. "Sir, we don't allow smoking in the hospital—"
Trunks opened the case and pulled out a small capsule with a plunger on one end and a blue band around its center. He clicked the plunger and dropped the capsule over the side of the bed. Miles and the nurse both stared as, with a puff of smoke, it expanded into a medium-sized white portable cooler with a Caduceus on the front. "Look in there," he said. "You'll find the cures for several forms of cancer, the cure for influenza, and treatments for several rare, deadly strains of virus your world might not even have." He smiled weakly at the nurse. "I don't know how many of those have been cured in your world, but if you can use any of this...?"
The nurse dropped her tablet, her jaw gaping. "Are you serious?"
"If that won't cover the bill, I'm sure I can work it off around the hospital," Trunks offered. "There's usually something that needs cleaning or repair, right?"
The nurse opened the little cooler with trembling fingers, looking at the rows of vials and sealed Petri dishes inside with wide eyes, each bearing a label naming the disease it cured. She looked up at Trunks. "You're a doctor?"
"Me? No, I'm just a warrior," Trunks said. "But my mom is the most brilliant scientist, inventor, and engineer who ever lived, and a lot of the world's greatest doctors used to work for her."
"Dude, all that and you didn't have an Epipen?" Miles asked.
Trunks shrugged. "Like I said, I didn't know I had any allergies." He frowned. "Come to think of it, I'm not even sure pineapples still exist where I come from." He turned to the nurse. "Anyway, just let me know what—"
"Go, both of you," the nurse said distractedly, licking her lips as she examined each precious sample in the cooler. "You were never here."
Miles smirked. "Don't gotta ask me twice, I hate hospitals." He put his mask back on. "You good to go, Trunks?"
Trunks pounded a fist into his open palm. "I owe that sunglasses bastard some payback."
Miles shook his head. "Nuh-uh. You're sitting this one out. Besides, they probably already finished him off by now."
"Tch..." Trunks spat. "Fine. Let's go back to CHS and wait then. With the way things are going, some other emergency's probably come up by now..."
* * * * *
The ring let out one last shrill beep. With a green flash, Chat Noir became Adrien Agreste. His Kwami, Plagg, tumbled out and landed on the teacher's desk in the classroom he'd ducked into for cover.
"Well, this is interesting, isn't it?" Plagg said as he righted himself.
Adrien slumped down into the teacher's chair and groaned, running a hand through his hair. "I don't know what's going on here, Plagg, but it's big," he said. "I mean, for one thing, since when are people pink and blue?" He sighed. "I don't know. This doesn't...it doesn't feel like an Akuma attack."
"It isn't," Plagg said in an uncharacteristically serious tone. He twitched a whisker. "We can worry about what's happening later. Right now, I need Camembert."
Adrien frowned. "I don't exactly have my backpack," he muttered. "It's back at school, remember? And who knows how far away THAT is. I can't see the Eiffel Tower at all." He sighed. "Still, this looks like a pretty fancy private school. I'm sure we can find something that'll work for you, if I can just figure out where the cafeteria is." Plagg made a disgusted noise, and Adrien glared at him. "We have to help those girls!"
Plagg rolled his eyes. "Fine. Just find something that won't offend my delicate palate."
Groaning, Adrien stuffed Plagg into his jacket and crept out into the hall. Seeing nobody in either direction, he took off at a run.
* * * * *
Sunset and Tenten had found the principal's office. They stood to either side of the large, austere doors. They shared a nod.
Sunset threw the doors open.
The office was empty.
Both girls blinked.
"That's anticlimactic," Tenten said.
"We need to be careful," Sunset whispered. "There are probably traps."
A tall steel cabinet on one wall shuddered, a muffled thumping coming from inside. Tenten frowned at it, then inclined her head toward it. Sunset nodded. Returning the nod, Tenten crept carefully across the room. She pulled a thin steel needle from her sleeve, then set about picking the lock on the cabinet. It took thirty seconds; once she was done, she opened the cabinet.
Dean Cadance fell out, bound at the wrists and ankles and gagged with duct tape.
And, bizarrely, wearing a grass skirt and a coconut bra.
Tenten cut the ties on her ankles and wrists, then peeled off the duct tape. Cadance winced, but gave her a thankful smile.
"Dean Cadance?" Sunset asked, looking her up and down. "What—"
"That maniac stripped me and forced me into this before he threw me in there," Cadance said sourly. "When I get hold of him, I am going to squeeze all the milk out of his coconuts!" She blinked, then raised a slim pink finger. "Wait. Sunset Shimmer? What are you doing here?"
"Sugarcoat texted Twilight for help. I rounded up some friends and came to rescue everyone."
"We've already freed the students," Tenten said. "That jerk with the sunglasses got away from us, but he can't hide forever."
"Where's Principal Cinch?" Sunset asked.
"Trapped in the faculty restroom," Cadance said. "I'll take you." She paused, then looked around the office. "As soon as I can find my clothes."
Sunset smirked. "I don't think you have anything to be embarrassed about," she said.
Cadance blushed. "Sunset!"
"What? You totally make that work."
Cadance smiled. "Well..." She looked down at herself. "I do have the body for it. I just don't want to..." She sighed. "Maybe Twilight left a spare uniform or something in her old lab. Not that that'd be much better."
Tenten giggled. "I'm with Sunset. If you've got it, flaunt it."
"Come on, the longer we stand around, the longer we risk that lunatic showing up," Sunset said.
Cadance sighed. "Right. Let's go."
* * * * *
Adrien groaned as he opened another set of double doors and found himself in a second gymnasium. So far, every set of double doors he'd tried had failed to yield the school cafeteria. He'd found the auditorium, the band practice room, a gym with a basketball court, an enormous storeroom full of disused books and equipment, and the school library, and now he had found a completely different gym. "What is WITH this school?" he groaned, throwing his hands up.
"It be de big bruddah o' my own Fuurinkan, dat be fo' sho," a voice said from inside the gym.
Adrien took a step backward.
"You outta uniform, keiki. Outta uniform AN' yo' hair ain't buzzed. Dis ain't gonna go nice, yeah?"
Something exploded behind Adrien, throwing him forward into the gym. The doors slammed shut behind him as he tumbled ass over teakettle across the padded floor. He idly mused that this gym must be used for tumbling practice or wrestling.
As he rose into a guarded crouch, Principal Kuno descended the bleachers along one side, holding a bazooka on one shoulder. A pineapple stuck out of the front of the bazooka, pointed right at Adrien. Adrien bit off a curse and tensed his muscles.
"Dis goan' hurt you a whole hell of a lot more dan it goan' hurt me, keiki," Kuno said.
Before Principal Kuno could pull the trigger, something red flashed out of nowhere, glowing a bright pinkish-white as it wrapped around his wrist. He grunted in surprise as he was yanked off the bleachers and bounced across the mats.
A dark-haired girl in a skintight red bodysuit with black spots dropped out of nowhere, landing in a defensive stance between Adrien and Principal Kuno.
Framed by a spotted red mask, her bluebell eyes smoldered with rage.
* * * * *
Sunset, Tenten, and Cadance stood in front of a door blocked by a palm tree. They heard angry, muffled yelling from behind the door.
"Yeesh, she sounds pissed," Tenten said.
"She always sounds pissed," Sunset said. "Sure you wanna let her out?"
Cadance shrugged. "We can't just leave her in there."
With an exaggerated sigh, Sunset pointed her hand at the palm tree, fingers spread wide. A teal glow surrounded her hand; a similar glow surrounded the tree, and it slid out of the way. A moment later, there was a soft click, and the door flew open.
Principal Cinch, her hair in disarray and her glasses askew, stormed out of the restroom. "FINALLY!" she snarled. She frowned as her gaze fell upon Sunset Shimmer. "YOU!" she snapped venomously. "I should hardly be surprised to learn that you and your..." She trembled with rage. "FREAK SCHOOL are somehow involved in this! I have half a mind to—"
"Abacus, she came here to SAVE US," Cadance said impatiently. "A little gratitude would be nice."
"Yeah, we already saved all your students," Tenten said tersely. "You're welcome, by the way."
Cinch turned from glaring at Sunset to glaring at Tenten, then frowning at Cadance. Her lips pursed and her eyes narrowed. "Dean Cadance, what in blazes are you doing parading around the school in that...that ridiculous, obscene getup?"
"The psycho that locked you in the bathroom did this to me," Cadance said, folding her arms. "And since I have no idea what he did with my clothes, I decided rescuing you was more important than my dignity." She paused, then added sourly, "You're welcome, by the way."
Cinch frowned at her, then snorted. "I'll be in my office," she announced, turning her nose up. "Can I assume the police have dealt with the madman?"
"Actually, the police haven't even shown up yet," Sunset said, frowning.
"That's odd," Cadance said. "I called them over an hour ago..."
"So that CRETIN is still running loose in my school?"
"Not if Chat Noir got to him already," Sunset said. "Even if he didn't, it's only a matter of time. He can't hide forever and he's bound to run out of tricks sooner or later." She frowned. "You're gonna have to cancel classes for a while, though. That idiot did a lot of damage to your school. Least of which is the minefield in the courtyard."
Cinch blanched, eyes wide. "M-minefield?!"
"Don't worry, we got all the students out safely and sent them home," Tenten said. She stretched. "Maybe you two had better stick with us until we're sure we've dealt with this wacko."
"Good idea," Cadance said. "I'd hate to get locked in another cabinet or worse."
Cinch pinched the bridge of her nose. "Fine," she snarled. "But once this is all over, I will be having words with your principal AND the school board—"
Cinch found herself suspended upside-down in the air in Sunset's magic.
"Try it," Sunset hissed. "I can't wait to tell them all about how you blackmailed Twilight Sparkle."
Cadance gasped. "What?!"
Cinch went paler than normal as Sunset set her down. Straightening her skirt, she marched stiffly ahead of the group. "Well?" she called brusquely. "I would like to restore order to my school as soon as possible."
With a heavy sigh, Sunset followed her, flanked by the others. "How do you put up with this bitch?" she muttered to Cadance.
"By reminding myself that in a few years I'll have her job," Cadance replied. "Maybe sooner the way things have been going lately..."
* * * * *
"Ladybug!" Adrien cried, joy and relief in his voice.
Ladybug half-turned to him, keeping her eyes on the madman. "Are you hurt?" she asked.
Adrien shook his head. "I'm fine," he said. "Just got knocked around a bit."
"Have you seen Chat Noir anywhere around here?"
Adrien fought down a wince. "Y-yeah," he hedged. "But he used his Cataclysm. Last I saw of him he was trying to find the cafeteria."
Ladybug sighed. "Then he should be back with us soon. I hope." She frowned. "How'd you end up here? And where is here?"
Adrien shrugged. "I have no idea. All I know is this isn't Paris." He frowned. "Ladybug, there are people here with pink and blue skin. And a lot of other weird things going on."
Ladybug grimaced. "Yeah, I thought this was all some kind of weird Akuma attack, but everything's...just not making sense." She shook her head. "Anyway, you should get out of here..."
"You ain't goin' nowhere," Principal Kuno said. A detonator had appeared in his off hand; he clicked the button, and multiple explosions rang from the rafters. Ladybug and Adrien watched in dismay and disbelief as dozens of palm trees dropped out of the ceiling, blocking every exit from the gym.
"MERDE!" Ladybug snarled, moving closer to Adrien. Principal Kuno cackled and fired his pineapple launcher. Ladybug's yo-yo spun, forming a glowing shield which intercepted the fruity rocket; the pineapple exploded loudly, raining chunks of charred fruit down on the two teens. "See if you can get someplace safe," she said to Adrien. "I'll have to hold him here until I can get through to Chat Noir. I don't think we're getting out of here without his help."
*Then we're not getting out of here,* Adrien thought ruefully. He glanced down at his feet and saw a few roasted chunks of pineapple. *Or maybe we are.* He deftly scooped them up. "Right, I'll just be hiding over there," Adrien said, jogging over to the bleachers. "Go get 'im, Ladybug!"
"EY! DA BIG KAHUNA AIN'T GIVE YOU A PASS TO CUT GYM, KEIKI!"
"No, but I did!" Ladybug shouted, launching her yo-yo at Kuno. It hit him right in the face, shattering his sunglasses. He staggered, clutching at his eyes, and Ladybug yanked him off his feet, then flipped over and landed on his chest, pinning him down. She smirked dangerously into his face. "If you know what's good for you, you'll stay down," she hissed. "You tried to hurt the boy I like. I'm not feeling very reasonable right now."
Principal Kuno swallowed heavily. "H-hey now, wahine..."
Behind the bleachers, Adrien yanked Plagg out of his jacket. "Hurry up!" he hissed.
Plagg eyed the burnt pineapple with a distasteful frown. "You can't be serious," he said.
"It's this or nothing, and Ladybug needs my help!"
Plagg sighed. "Fine," he said, taking the pineapple and scarfing it down. After he finished three chunks, he smacked his lips. "Actually, that wasn't too bad," he decided. "Nice and tart, with a hint of explosion."
"Good to hear," Adrien whispered. "Now claws out!"
Plagg was sucked into the silver ring on Adrien's right hand, which turned glossy black as a black leather bodysuit spread across his body. In a blink, Chat Noir had replaced Adrien Agreste. He flipped up to the top of the bleachers, then launched himself across the room, landing next to Ladybug and Kuno.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, My Lady," he said, bowing.
Ladybug blinked. "Chat Noir? How did you get in?"
"Locker room, but I set off another trap on the way in, so we'll have to find another way out," Chat Noir lied smoothly. He looked around. "So, uhh...how do you propose we get out of this?"
Ladybug rubbed her chin. "I'd rather not use my Lucky Charm until I know what's going on here," she said.
Chat Noir nodded. "Same with my Cataclysm," he said. "Finding food for my Kwami once was hard enough."
"We'll have to clear those trees the old fashioned way then," Ladybug said. "As soon as we've deal with this freak."
Chat Noir looked around, tapping his foot. He spotted some climbing ropes in one corner of the gym and grinned. "I think I can help with that."
Two minutes later, the teen heroes had bound Principal Kuno from head to toe in thick, sturdy ropes. Ladybug dusted off her hands. "Adrien!" she shouted. "You can come out now!"
"Better not!" Chat Noir yelled beside her. "Not until we've made sure we've cleared all the traps!"
Ladybug blinked. "Right, good call," she said. "Adrien! Stay put back there!" She turned to the trees blocking the gym doors. "Now, about this mess..."
Chat Noir looked at his baton and Ladybug's yo-yo. "Looks like we'll be doing the lever and pully bit again," he said with a sheepish grimace. "Look at it this way, it's good exercise."
Ladybug rolled her eyes. "Better get to work, then."
* * * * *
Miles and Trunks ran into Brook and X on their way back to CHS. "How did the mission at Crystal Prep go?" X asked. "Where are Sunset and Tenten?"
"We don't know," Miles said. "We had to split up. Trunks got taken out by the bad guy."
X blinked. "Trunks got taken out," he said. "And the girls are still there?"
"It was a cheap shot," Trunks said sourly. "I'm sure they're fine. If you want to go check on them, be my guest."
"We're headed back to CHS ourselves," Miles said. "Trunks going back into that mess is a bad idea, and that catboy that showed up just before all hell broke loose looked capable."
"Catboy?" X asked, blinking. He shook his head. "Nevermind. You're probably right. We'll rendezvous with Sunset at Crystal Prep. You two head back to CHS."
As the two groups went their separate ways, Brook remarked, "It certainly is nice to be living a life of adventure again. All that sitting around in the fog on a ghost ship...my heart hasn't pounded like this in a long time!" He paused. "Not that I have a heart."
X groaned. "Yareyare..."
* * * * *
Ladybug and Chat Noir fist-bumped as they cleared the last tree out of the path of the gym doors. "Right, now we just need to get Adrien and the bad guy and—"
Ladybug was cut off by a lei being slung around her neck. Caught off guard, she was dragged to the ground even as a mist emitting from the flowers made her head feel fuzzy. Beside her, Chat Noir let out a strangled yelp. "You goan' lose dat wild hair, keiki," Principal Kuno said dangerously. Ladybug looked up and saw him towering over them, a long lei in each hand; a similar lei to the one dragging her was wrapped tightly around Chat Noir's throat, and his tail lashed furiously as he kicked and struggled against the chokehold.
"HEY! Don't grab my pussy, you degenerate!" Ladybug managed to slip her yo-yo wire underneath the lei around her neck, then tugged sharply against it with both hands; the lei snapped, and Ladybug rolled free, coughing violently. She flung her yo-yo out, looping it through the lei dragging Chat Noir and reeling it back, cutting the second lei; Chat Noir rolled away, gagging and clawing at his throat.
"Alright, now I'm seriously pissed off," Chat Noir rasped as he stood, unhooking his baton and separating it into two halves, which extended to meter-long fighting rods. He stalked dangerously toward Principal Kuno, who was already whipping out more hair-cutting implements and hunkering down for a fight. With a snarl, Chat Noir rushed forward, slamming his batons into Kuno's gut, then uppercut him with a rising strike. As Kuno fell backward, Chat Noir boxed his ears with both batons, then dropped his weapons, grabbed Kuno, leapt high into the air, and performed a flawless spinning piledriver.
Kuno let out a pitiful groan and flopped to the ground, unconscious. Chat Noir flipped away, landing in a three-point stance and panting.
Ladybug stared at him with wide eyes. "Chat Noir," she said softly.
Chat Noir closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "Sorry," he said roughly. "I just...I dunno. Fighting the Akumatized is one thing, they're not responsible for their actions, but this guy? He's just—"
"—a creep, yeah," Ladybug agreed. She sighed. "Well, let's tie him up again, then find Adrien and get out of here."
"I saw Adrien running away while that lunatic was dragging me around," Chat Noir said. "With any luck, he ran into the girls I came in with."
Ladybug raised an eyebrow. "Girls, huh?" she asked with a smirk.
"Hey, don't get me wrong, this cat only has eyes for one Lady," Chat Noir said with a grin.
Ladybug rolled her eyes.
* * * * *
"That came from Gym B," Cadance said as another loud thud resounded through the halls. She took off running, the others behind her.
"Just for my edification, this is your school's fault, right?" Cinch asked as she trailed two steps behind Sunset.
Sunset frowned. "Actually, this is my fault personally...sort of."
"AHA! I knew it!" Cinch shouted triumphantly.
"What do you mean, Sunset?" Cadance asked.
"Something I ordered online turned out to be a magical artifact," Sunset said tersely. "I don't know where it came from or why it was just floating around loose in this world, but it reacted to my Equestrian magic and..." She waved her hands vaguely. "Broke reality."
Cadance frowned. "You mean like Twilight did at the Friendship Games when she turned into that...that thing?"
"Not exactly," Sunset said. "Midnight Sparkle was only ripping holes in the barrier between this world and Equestria. THIS is dragging people and things from dozens of other universes into ours." She sighed. "We're working on fixing it, but it's gonna take a while."
"Ridiculous," Cinch muttered. Another thud from the gym interrupted anything else she might have said.
"This way," Cadance said, rounding a corner. Just as the others rounded the corner after her, the steel double doors to the gym flew open with a loud bang, and two costumed teens darted out, one carrying a completely bound and gagged Principal Kuno over his shoulder.
Chat Noir skidded to a halt as he saw them approaching; his friend did the same, and the women rushing toward them slowed to a stop. Chat Noir hefted his package with a cheeky grin. "Hey, we got an order for one large pig for a luau," he quipped. "Who's gonna sign for this?"
"You caught him?" Cadance asked. "Thank God..." She heaved a sigh of relief. "We'll turn him over to the police as soon as they get here. IF they ever get here..."
Tenten tilted her head. "Who's your friend, kitty-cat?"
The girl in the skintight red costume with black spots stepped forward. "I'm Ladybug," she said. "I'm Chat Noir's partner." she craned her neck to look over their shoulders. "Did any of you see a boy, about fourteen or fifteen, blond hair, green eyes, white jacket?"
Sunset frowned and shook her head. "No, sorry," she said. Her eyes drifted to Chat Noir and narrowed thoughtfully.
Ladybug sighed. "Great. We need to find him," she muttered. "We can't leave Adrien behind, we need to take him back to Paris with us."
"I, uhh...have a feeling that's easier said than done, Bugaboo," Chat Noir said.
"He's right," Sunset said. "I'll fill you in while we wait for the police."
The group headed for the front entrance of the school; Sunset called the police on the way out. Once they were outside, she began explaining the situation to the two superheroes. Once she was finished, Ladybug frowned. "So wait...this is another dimension? There's no Paris? No France?"
Cadance shook her head. "Sorry," she said. "We do have a Mareis, and that's in Prance, but I don't think that'll be much help to you."
"For now, you two should come with us to Canterlot High," Sunset said. "As soon as the police come to collect this jerk."
Chat Noir snatched Sunset's phone and began playing with the maps app. He raised an eyebrow. "Fillydelphia? Manehattan? Whinnyapolis? Vanhoover? Hoofston? Las Pegasus?"
"Well, minou, it looks like we finally found your home planet!" Ladybug said cheerfully.
"Mee-owch!" Chat Noir handed Sunset back her phone.
Ladybug sighed. "Well...okay, we'll go with you for now, but we can't leave this area until we find Adrien." She grimaced. "If he escaped the school, there's no telling where he went."
Sunset stared at her, then at Chat Noir, then back. "Seriously?" she asked.
Ladybug blinked at her. "What?"
Chat Noir started making frantic "don't go there" gestures behind her back. Sunset ignored him. "Okay, so let me get this straight," Sunset said. "This boy Adrien goes missing from the gym you two just left."
"And he has blond hair and green eyes and is about fifteen."
Ladybug nodded again.
Sunset narrowed her eyes. "Sort of like the blond-haired, green-eyed fifteen year old magical transforming catboy standing right behind you who had to run off on us because he was about to run out of power after he destroyed the steel shutters sealing the school," she said.
Chat Noir facepalmed and made a strangled sound as though he was trying to cough up a hairball.
Ladybug blinked. Opened her mouth. Started to say something. Stopped. Blinked again. Turned to Chat Noir.
Her eyes widened. "Adrien?!"
Chat Noir sighed and slumped. "So much for secret identities," he muttered. "See if I ever offer to be your familiar again," he shot at Sunset.
* * * * *
In the science lab at Canterlot High School, Starlight Glimmer was helping Sci-Twi with some measurements.
"Hey, Twilight? Is...is your flux capacitor supposed to be doing that?"
Sci-Twi didn't look up from her laptop. "Of course! It's a flux capacitor. It does two things, it fluxes and it...capacitates."
"It isn't fluxing, though," Starlight said. "It's muxing."
Sci-Twi's fingers froze. Her eyes widened. She slowly turned to Starlight. "S-say that again?"
Sci-Twi stared at the flux capacitor, which was indeed muxing instead of fluxing.
Her irises shrank to pinpricks.