After the battle, the Shadowbolts and Tommy had returned to the Smoothie Shack, where they'd spent a few minutes helping Berry Punch tidy up the place before sitting down with fresh fruit smoothies. "So, what exactly are you looking for, Dr. Oliver?" Sunny Flare asked.
"Call me Tommy," Tommy said with a smile. "And I guess..." He frowned. "Well, ultimately I'm looking for whoever or whatever's causing the dimensional fold in the first place. But before that..." He thumped his aluminum briefcase. "I'm gonna need somebody who can help me finish building these." He opened the briefcase and turned it so the girls could look inside.
"Those look like that thing you're wearing," Sugarcoat said.
"Yeah, they are," Tommy agreed. "I'll explain it more later, but basically—"
"You're looking to put together a team to fight with you?" Indigo asked. "Yeah, kinda obvious what with the little key thingies in the briefcase."
"Yeah, basically," Tommy said. "So, uhh...you girls happen to know anyone that can help me finish the Key Morphers?"
The Shadowbolts looked at one another and smirked. "Yeah, I think we know a gal," Lemon Zest said slyly.
* * * * *
As time had passed, he had realized, with great confusion, that he was not dreaming.
By some strange twist of fate, Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith and right hand of Emperor Sheev Palpatine, had regained his full human body.
No longer did he suffer the neverending pain of seared lungs and scorched eyes, nor the horrific burns marring what remained of his limbless torso. His body, young and lean and strong, all limbs intact and muscular, sang with power. Sang with the Force.
Whatever system he was on, it was unfamiliar to him, and he could find nothing of the Empire anywhere he looked. It seemed to be a relatively primitive society.
But there was more: the Force itself was screaming.
In a quiet, grassy corner of a public park, Vader meditated, stretching his senses out to the far corners of the world. Everything here was wrong. The Force was gnarled and twisted around a gaping wound in the universe itself, far to the south of his current location.
He could not sense the Emperor. He could not sense anything familiar. Without a comm link, he had no way of contacting his Star Destroyer to request assistance, nor his Master.
Cut off from the Empire, with more questions than answers and the knowledge that Padme was not waiting for him out there somewhere...all of this left Vader quite...
"Oi, you there. Turn out yer pockets, nice and slow."
He heard a click next to his temple.
Half a second later, three things fell to the ground: a hand holding a gun, a human head, and a headless body missing an arm.
Extinguishing his lightsaber and returning it to his belt, Vader knelt down and rummaged through the dead man's pockets. He found very little of interest other than a small amount of money and a plastic bag containing what was in all likelihood some sort of drug. He snorted. "Pathetic. You should thank me for ending your existence," he said quietly to the dead man as he tossed the drugs to the ground and folded the money into the pockets of his own robes. Glancing around, he walked briskly away.
From behind a tree, Sunset Shimmer watched, lips thin and brow furrowed. Shaking her head, she turned and walked the other way.
* * * * *
The bus pulled up to Canterlot High. The five Shadowbolts and Tommy got off. A huge group of people looked up at them from a collection of picnic tables arrayed on the school grounds. Some eyes widened or narrowed in recognition.
"Well, here we are," Lemon Zest said. "Canterlot High School."
Immediately, a blue-skinned girl with wild rainbow-colored hair and broad feathery wings flew up to them, challenge in her eyes. "Shadowbolts!" she cried. "What're you doing here?"
"Nice to see that whole friendship thing is alive and well," Sour Sweet muttered.
"Chill, willya?" Indigo said, holding up her hands placatingly. "We're all cool now, right?"
Rainbow Dash sighed. "Yeah, you're right. My bad. Uhh...so what's up?" By this point, more of the group had gathered and were eyeing the Shadowbolts and their companion curiously.
"We need to borrow Twilight," Lemon Zest said. "Tommy here needs her help."
"Twilight's kinda busy," Sunset said. "She's sort of keeping an eye on the thing that's destroying reality all around us."
Tommy blinked. "Wait, so you know what's causing all this?" He smiled. "Well that's perfect! That's part of why I came here in the first place!" He took a step forward and offered his hand. "Dr. Thomas Oliver, but you can call me Tommy. I came here from my own dimension to investigate the dimensional fold and see if I could help find a way to invert it."
Sunset shook his hand. "Well, we can use all the help we can get," she admitted. "But right now, we need more help with the symptoms than the disease, because we're already working on the cure. At least, I hope so."
"Well, I'd still like to help any way I can," Tommy said. "And, uhh...if by 'the symptoms' you mean monsters and stuff? I've got that covered too. But I will need somebody's help finishing building my Key Morphers."
"Just trust us. Let Twilight help this guy," Indigo said. "We've seen him fight. He's legit."
Sunset frowned. "Well...I guess Twilight can't do much of anything with the, uhh...thing until the Princess gets back from Equestria with the bulfecium, so..." She shrugged. "I'll take you to the lab, get you up to speed." She glanced at the Shadowbolts. "You guys can hang out if you want."
"Thanks," Lemon Zest said. She looked around. "Wow, you guys are having a wild party over here!"
"A little too wild," Sunset muttered as she led Tommy into the school.
* * * * *
Tommy stared at the glowing artifact in the center of the lab. "Is...is that what I think it is?"
"It is," Sunset said, her face red.
Tommy's ears burned. "Umm...look, I...I don't wanna embarrass you or anything, but I...I gotta ask..."
Sunset groaned. "I'm a magical being from another dimension, I take on human form when I'm in this dimension, some magic from my home has been leaking into this world for a long time now, somehow a...THING I ordered for...well, you know..." She ducked her head. "Turned out to be an artifact of chaos magic, and my own Equestrian magic sort of hotwired it. Then it turned out to be self-sustaining, and..." She threw out her hands. "Broke reality."
Tommy digested this. "Uh-huh," he said slowly. "So...you uhh...you broke the multiverse...with a dildo."
Sunset buried her face in her hands and turned away.
"Sorry, it's just...I'm having a hard time processing that."
"We all are," another girl said, walking up to them and adjusting her glasses. "But it doesn't matter what form it is. It could've been a toothbrush or a bra or a tampon or just about anything that would've had prolonged contact with Sunset's personal magical field. The important thing is we're trying to contain it before it rips apart reality, and our timetable's getting shorter by the day." She frowned, then glanced at the thoroughly embarrassed Sunset. "Who's he?"
Tommy coughed. "Tommy Oliver. Dr. Tommy Oliver. Ph.D. I'm a paleontologist, but I have...extended experience with alternate dimensions, strange phenomena, monsters attacking humanity, and..." He chuckled. "Well, you name it, I've probably run into it." Under his breath, he muttered, "except chaos dildos, that's a new one..." He shook his head. "Anyway, I came to this world from my own lab after I detected the dimensional fold. I'm here to help, but I need some help in return, and I'm guessing you're the one who can help me?"
"This is Twilight Sparkle," Sunset introduced. "If you're talking about building strange devices that do highly improbable things, she's your gal." She threw Twilight a wink.
Twilight ducked her head and fidgeted with the tips of her index fingers. "W-well..."
Tommy laid his briefcase on a counter and opened it. "Right, so here's the thing. I need these Key Morphers completed. I've got the schematics and most of the parts."
Twilight studied the devices, frowning. "What are they supposed to do?"
"I'll show you," Tommy said, holding up his left arm and revealing his own Key Morpher. He removed the Green Ranger Key from his belt buckle. "RANGER KEY, SET! IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!"
And in a green flash, he was a Power Ranger.
"Okay, so another transforming superhero," Sunset said. "We sure are getting a lot of those lately."
Twilight's reaction was different. "That's...!" She shook her head, adjusting her glasses. "A polymorphic quantum molecular interchange?"
"Something like that," Tommy said, unsnapping and removing his helmet. "If I can get the rest of these Key Morphers working, I can assemble a team."
"A team?" Sunset asked.
"A team of Power Rangers," Tommy said, indicating the five Ranger Keys in the briefcase. "If the monster I fought on the way here is any sign, we're gonna need the Power Rangers."
"Well, we aren't exactly short on superheroes," Sunset said, "but the way things are going and with that whole Helheim thing getting worse...yeah, too many heroes would certainly be better than not enough heroes." She frowned. "But do we have the time to recruit and train these...Power Rangers? I mean, what qualifications are you looking for?"
Tommy snorted. "Qualifications? I just need five teenagers with attitude. That's pretty much how every team of Power Rangers ever gets started." He tilted his head. "Actually, those five girls that brought me here should do, if they're willing."
"What, the Shadowbolts?"
Twilight's eyes widened. "Shadowbolts? They're here?"
"Yeah, those five from the Friendship Games," Sunset said. "We ran into them when we went to save Dean Cadance, and they brought Tommy here to get your help." She tilted her head. "Wanna go talk to 'em?"
"N...n-no, I...I couldn't..." Twilight said, ducking her head.
Sunset smiled gently. "Alright, I won't push you." She looked back at Tommy and shrugged. "I guess the Shadowbolts are as good a choice as any, but we're not exactly short on backup choices if they're not up for it."
"Good to know," Tommy said. "Listen, I'll hang back here and work with Twilight...is that okay?"
Twilight nodded. "Uh...sure," she said.
Tommy smiled. "Great! And maybe you can get me up to speed on everything I need to know?"
"Great!" Sunset said, clapping her hands. "I'll leave you two eggheads to work. I'm sure by now there's some or another crisis happening out front I need to deal with."
Once she was gone, Twilight gave Tommy an appraising look. "So, uhh...need a cold shower after finding out how reality broke?"
Tommy shook his head and laughed. "With my history with girls and heartbreak? My sex drive dried up and died years ago."
Twilight winced. "Ouch..."
"Besides, I'm old enough to be her father, so...yeah..."
* * * * *
She stalked through the back alleys of an unfamiliar human city. Her every step creaked with leather. "Ningen-domo," she snarled contemptuously. "Kono sekai..."
She looked up to the sky. "Masaka...!"
A slim black fist clenched around a handful of tarnished gold medals with large, irregular red scars across their faces.
* * * * *
"So this world is connected to a parallel world inhabited by magical ponies, and your counterpart there is some kind of super-powerful magic princess?" Tommy asked.
"That's what they tell me," Twilight said. "Sunset's the one who really knows everything about it since she's from there, but they've told me enough that I think I've got the general gist." She soldered a circuit in one of the Key Morphers. "So, umm...mind if I ask exactly how and why you even have technology like this?"
Tommy laughed. "That's a really long story. Actually, it's like...seven or eight long stories. And there's as much magic involved here as technology." He frowned. "Magical technology, I guess?"
"Technomancy?" Twilight suggested.
"No, that's...that's a different thing entirely," Tommy said as he worked on a separate Morpher.
The door opened and Sugarcoat walked in. She looked around. "Crystal Prep has better labs," she stated.
Twilight glanced up. "Hey Sugarcoat," she said nervously.
Sugarcoat looked Twilight up and down. "You changed your hair," she noted. "You look less scrawny." She frowned as she glanced at the center of the lab. "That's a dildo," she commented.
"Yes," Twilight said. "Yes it is. It's kind of what's causing this mess."
Sugarcoat blinked. "This school is weird."
"Is there something we can help you with?" Twilight asked. "We're kinda busy here."
Sugarcoat shrugged. "I got bored. I thought I'd see if there was anything to do back here."
An alarm started beeping on one of the many devices connected to the dildo. Tommy glanced back at it nervously.
"Check the fornicator," Twilight said absently, going back to her soldering. "Write down the readings on that notebook."
Sugarcoat did as instructed, and Tommy went back to work. "So, you used to go to school with those girls I met today, huh?" he asked Twilight.
"Yeah," Twilight said. "That's a long story..."
"Our school and this school are rivals, Twilight built a device that sucks up magic, our principal is a cunt, she blackmailed Twilight into taking part in the Friendship Games between our schools, Twilight started sucking up magic from a bunch of girls who go here, it went crazy, our principal found out, we all pressured Twilight into using the magic she sucked up to help us win, it backfired, Twilight turned into a demon and started tearing holes in reality."
Tommy and Twilight both stared at Sugarcoat.
"Y-yeah, that's...that's pretty much it," Twilight said.
* * * * *
Bowser Koopa growled as he stomped through the streets of the unfamiliar city. The multicolored human scum ran screaming from his presence as he glared at them and crushed cars with his mighty claws. "SPIKY-HEADED LITTLE PUNK," he rumbled. "BAD ENOUGH I'M STUCK IN THIS CESSPOOL OF A HUMAN CITY, BUT THAT LITTLE COLOR-CHANGING BASTARD...!" He picked up a small, pearly white car, crushed it into a metal ball, and hurled it through the front of a building. "I'M GONNA FIND THAT SPIKY BRAT AND RIP HIS SMUG LITTLE FACE OFF!"
* * * * *
Two hours later, Tommy and Sugarcoat emerged from the school. "Listen up, everyone!" Tommy called. "The Key Morphers are finished, so all that's left is to assemble a team to use them!"
"Ooh! Sign me up!" Indigo Zap cried eagerly, waving her hand in the air. "I wanna be a superhero!"
"Well isn't that just special," Sour Sweet said. "If you like getting killed."
Tommy set the briefcase down on one of the picnic tables and clapped his hands together, once, in that particular way teachers do to get attention. "Actually, I was kind of hoping you five girls, the Shadowbolts was it? That you'd all join up."
Sunny Flare and Sour Sweet gave him incredulous stares. "Are you insane?" Sunny Flare asked. "We can't fight things like that...that awful turtle dragon monster!"
Sugarcoat adjusted her glasses. "Actually, the way Tommy explained it to me, morphing into a Power Ranger makes you virtually indestructible and gives you powerful weapons."
"The suit protects you from just about anything," Tommy added. "Most of the Power Rangers from the past were regular kids just like you girls."
"Well, perhaps, but...us?" Sunny Flare asked. "I mean, none of us really know how to fight. We can all do archery, and I've spent some time on the firing range. I'm rated at 96% accuracy with rifles and 92% accuracy with a small handgun." She frowned. "But that...that isn't the same as what we all saw you do."
"I've taken some self-defense classes," Sugarcoat said. "I hate having my butt grabbed."
Lemon Zest leaned up against Tommy. "I like having my butt grabbed!" she announced.
"I uhh...I'll keep that in mind," Tommy said, stepping nervously away from her. "Anyway, a lot of Power Rangers don't have a lick of martial arts skills when they first start out. The suit comes with more than just weapons and protection, it...it gives you abilities, instincts." He shrugged. "I can't explain how or why, it just does. I mean, if you already know how to fight, obviously you're a better Power Ranger right out of the gate, but..." He looked around. "If you girls don't want to do it, I'm sure I can find somebody else, but I just feel like you're meant to do this."
The Shadowbolts looked at each other.
"C'mon, girls," Indigo said. "Remember how helpless we all felt when that whackjob took our school hostage? Imagine if we'd been able to fight back instead of having to call for help!"
"I'm in if it means spending more time with Tommy," Lemon Zest said eagerly.
Sugarcoat adjusted her glasses. "It'd be nice to not have to sit by and hope I don't get killed," she said.
Sunny Flare sighed. "As long as my hair and clothes don't get too dirty, I suppose I can at least try it once. Just to prove Canterlot High School doesn't have the monopoly on teenage girls doing impossible things, mind."
Sour Sweet rolled her eyes. "Great! Perfect! Let's all be idiots and dress up in spandex together and get ourselves killed."
Tommy smiled. "Great!" he said, rubbing his hands together. He gestured for the girls to each take a Key Morpher from the briefcase; they stepped forward and did so, strapping them around their wrists. "Now, let's see...who belongs to which Ranger Key..." He picked up the red Ranger Key, which had diagonal white stripes across the torso, white gloves, and bird-like detailing on the helmet. He looked at Indigo Zap. "I can tell right away that you're the leader of your little group, so the power of the Red RPM Ranger is yours." He handed Indigo the Key; as she took it, red lightning coursed across her body, and her eyes lit up with bright flame.
"Sweet," Indigo said.
Next, Tommy turned to Sunny Flare. "You said you're a pretty good shot," he mused as he picked up the black Ranger Key; this one had a yellow sash across the chest with a jagged black line running through it. "The power of the Black Dino Charge Ranger should suit you." Sunny Flare hesitantly accepted the key; black lightning ran up her arms and down her body.
The next Ranger Key Tommy took from the case was green and had a black illustration of an elephant on the chest. "Gotta be honest," he said. "This is a Ranger team I've never worked with or even heard of, so I don't really know what powers this Key has, but..." He handed it to Sugarcoat. "Think you can handle the power of the Green Safari Ranger?"
Sugarcoat took the key; green lightning surged through her body, and a faint echoing sound of an elephant trumpeting filled the air.
Tommy looked at the remaining two keys, which were pink and yellow. He looked up at Lemon Zest and Sour Sweet, who were also pink and yellow. With a smirk, he handed Lemon Zest the yellow key and gave the pink one to Sour Sweet.
"Now you're just trolling us," Sugarcoat said.
"A little," Tommy admitted.
"Greeat," Sour Sweet said as pink lightning tingled across her body. Lemon Zest giggled as she was wreathed in yellow lightning. The sound of a bamboo deer spooker echoed in the stillness.
"So that's it?" Rainbow Dash asked. "Just...they're superheroes now? No explosions, no bolts of lightning from the sky, no ceremony, no meteorites, nothing? Just give them a little plastic doll and that's it?"
"Well...sort of," Tommy said. "They have the Power now. But it's what they do with it when the time comes—"
"WHERE. IS. THAT. LITTLE. GREEN. PUNK?!"
An SUV sailed through the air, crushing two of the picnic tables and spraying food and drinks everywhere. Only the quick actions of Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Miles, and Sunset prevented anyone from being hurt. Adrien and Marinette looked at one another, nodded, and transformed. X readied his X-Buster, his eyes flashing as he scanned for threats.
A massive dragon-turtle stomped into view, shaking the ground with every step. His bushy eyebrows drew down as he espied Tommy. "YOU!"
"The HELL?!" Rainbow shouted.
"Oh wonderful! It's back," Sour Sweet spat.
Tommy groaned. "I thought I already finished you off," he said.
"WELL YOU THOUGHT WRONG!" Bowser thundered. "I'VE GOT A SCORE TO SETTLE, AND IT'S HURTIN' TIME!"
"Not so fast!" Ladybug said, spinning her yo-yo as Chat Noir stood at her side, staff at the ready. "You're not setting one foot—" She was forced to leap away as searing flames swept across the courtyard, scattering the heroes and bystanders.
"GET OUTTA HERE OR GET BURNED," Bowser roared. "THIS IS BETWEEN ME AND THE SPIKY-HAIRED PUNK."
"No way!" Miles countered, shooting a string of webbing at Bowser's face. "Heroes don't back down from a fight!"
"No, he's right," Tommy said, squaring his jaw. "A Power Ranger started this..." He glanced over at the Shadowbolts. "...and now the Power Rangers are gonna finish this," he continued, flipping open his belt buckle and removing the White Ranger Key.
The Shadowbolts looked at one another uncertainly, then nodded.
"RANGER KEY, SET!" they all shouted as they inserted their Ranger Keys into their morphers.
Tommy smirked. "IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!"
A dizzying and incongruous array of visual effects surrounded the five girls and Tommy as they transformed. The various bystanders watched in interest as their new forms were revealed:
Indigo Zap now wore a solid red Ranger suit with black, tire-shaped cuffs at the tops of her red boots and white gloves. A black belt encircled her waist, cinching the red minidress top that extended to mid-thigh. Silver-white "seat belts" formed a V-shape across her body, buckling at the center of her belt; between them, on her chest, was a stylized gold number one with a bird motif. Her red helmet sported a triangular black visor, above which sat a yellow 'beak' in between two eye-shaped headlights. Revving wheels adorned the sides of her helmet. A holstered blaster hung at her right hip. She made a series of poses, ending with a spinning kick and a forward slide, the tires on her costume spinning. "RPM Red Ranger, get in gear!"
Sunny Flare's Ranger costume was a shiny black sleeveless minidress, tights, and boots with dark grey body mesh covering her upper arms, white gloves, and an oversized belt buckle. Her black helmet sported a stylized dinosaur motif, with a gold frame around the solid black faceplate and visor combination; a recessed silver mouthplate with no features broke up the monotone of the lower half of the faceplate. A diagonal sash crossed her torso: framed in silver bands, it resembled closed golden 'teeth', with the upper rightmost tooth emblazoned with a black dinosaur head emblem; a spiked silver shoulderguard covered her left shoulder. "Parasaur!" Sunny Flare called as she posed, ending with her right arm stretched behind and over her head. "Power Ranger Black!"
A glowing green holographic cube spun around Sugarcoat as her bright green Ranger suit formed. Like the others, it consisted of spandex tights and a minidress; her white boots and gloves had jagged black cuffs. Above a silver belt with a relief of numerous wild animals on the buckle, an illustration of an elephant's head took up most of the front of her suit. Her bright green helmet's black visor was bisected by a green plastic elephant trunk. She planted her feet in a wide stance, shaking the ground. "Power of the forest! Green Safari Ranger!"
Lemon Zest's costume consisted of black leggings, a shimmery yellow wraparound tunic with black trim, and matching yellow boots. She had white gloves and a gold belt; a sword hung at her left hip. A crest adorned the left breast of her tunic, and her yellow helmet's black visor took the shape of a highly stylized kanji. She drew her sword, holding it out to her side. "Yellow Samurai Ranger, ready!"
Sour Sweet's costume consisted of pink spandex tights and a minidress, pink boots with wide silver cuffs, and pink gloves with silver bracers covering her forearms. A black belt with a triangular buckle encircled her waist. The chest of her costume had a broad white area which surrounded an elongated heart-shaped pink emblem. Unlike the others, the entire front of helmet was black except for the chin guard and faceplate, which was silver and had a sculpted mouth and chin. The opaque pink visor had the same elongated heart shape as the emblem on her chest, and a pink stripe ran along the entire crest of the helmet, framed by a white border. She went through a series of arm poses as sarcastically as she possibly could. "Time Force Pink! Because everybody else is being lame, so why not me too?"
Tommy shook his head in amusement, then drew Saba and hoisted the blade over his shoulder. "White Tiger Ranger!" He looked around at his new team. "Let's bring it together!"
The girls paused, looking at each other and scratching their heads. "Uhh...bring what together?" Sugarcoat pointed out. "There's not even a theme to work with here."
"Yeah, we're kinda all over the place," Indigo Zap pointed out. "I mean, I've got this whole race car bird thing goin' on, Sugarcoat's an elephant, Lemon Zest is a samurai..."
"I get it, I get it," Tommy said in exasperation. "Look, they're the only Ranger Keys I've got, alright? But something unites you all, right?"
The new Rangers looked at each other. "Well...we're all Shadowbolts," Sunny Flare said uncertainly.
Lemon Zest perked up. "That's it!" She struck a series of poses, ending with her sword pointing straight forward and her knees bent low. "POWER RANGERS SHADOW FORCE!"
The others shrugged, then joined her pose. Even Sour Sweet joined in, although sluggishly and with much grumbling.
"POWER RANGERS...SHADOW FORCE!"
A massive fiery explosion erupted behind them, sending six colorful plumes of smoke shooting high into the air as sparks rained down around them.
"Whoa, hey, watch the property damage!" Sunset Shimmer cried in alarm. She blinked as the pyrotechnic blast died down and the smoke cleared, revealing absolutely no damage to the courtyard. "...huh?"
"Whoa, what was that all about?" Rainbow asked, blinking.
"I dunno, but Spidey would love that," Miles said, impressed.
Chat Noir whined pathetically. "Why don't we get cool color-coded explosions?" Ladybug rolled her eyes.
Bowser clapped sarcastically. "CUTE, KIDS. REAL CUTE. NOW...PLAYTIME'S OVER." With that, he ducked his head into his shell and tossed out a volley of giant black hammers, which he hurled at the Power Rangers with deadly speed and accuracy.
"STREET SABER!" Indigo yelled. A huge broadsword appeared in her hand; it had a massive red crossguard and a wide, double-edged blade with a black strip of 'road' down the center. She swung it clumsily, but with enough force to cleave two of the hammers headed her way with fiery explosions.
"CUBLASTER!" Sugarcoat declared, drawing a white gun grip with two cubes attached to the top: one blue, in front, the other red, in back. She fired several energy blasts at the incoming hammers, shattering several of them.
"SPIN SWORD!" Lemon Zest affixed a black disc to her sword and spun it; yellow energy arced up the blade. "EARTH SYMBOL STRIKE!" Using her blade, she drew the same kanji in the air that formed her visor; with a yell and a swing of her sword, the kanji flew forward, smashing through the onslaught of hammers and striking Bowser directly, knocking him over on his back and shaking the ground.
"Nice!" Sunny Flare pulled a massive yellow-and-black revolver out of seemingly nowhere and drew back the hammer; the barrel, which resembled a stylized mechanical dinosaur head, opened its "mouth". She flipped open her belt buckle and pulled out two translucent black cylinders, which she inserted into the slots in the barrel. She spun the cylinder, then took aim and fired several shots of jet black energy. The remaining hammers were destroyed, and Bowser roared as two shots struck him directly in the head.
Pinkie Pie tilted her head. "Where was she even keeping that?" she wondered. Her friends gave her incredulous looks.
"You need to move this battle away from the school and the portal!" Sunset shouted as the Rangers pressed their attack. Bowser had gotten to his feet with an angry roar and was spewing fire again.
"On it!" Tommy called, leaping toward Bowser. "Girls, grab hold! We're gonna flip this turtle!"
"RIGHT!" The Shadow Force Rangers surrounded Bowser, grappling him wherever they could get a secure hold. Bowser bellowed and swatted at them, but with a combined yell of effort and a tremendous leap, the Rangers vaulted high into the air, carrying Bowser with them, and launched themselves across the city.
Those remaining looked at each other.
Rainbow Dash took wing; Miles, Ladybug, and Chat Noir followed by their own means. Sunset facepalmed. "Idiots..."
"Aww, no fair!" Pinkie whined. "This was just getting good!"
* * * * *
"This looks like a good spot!" Tommy yelled as a half-demolished hospital passed beneath them. Dumpsters full of concrete filled the parking lot; except for an orange and grey garbage truck parked off in the far corner of the lot, there wasn't a single sign of life.
"Yeah, this hospital closed down six months ago," Indigo said. "Nobody'll care if we trash the place. GOING DOWN!"
The Rangers inverted Bowser and slammed him into the parking lot of the hospital, spraying broken asphalt in every direction and shaking the ground. Dust and plaster rained from the smashed hospital.
Bowser roared, throwing them all off as he jumped to his feet. "YOU BRATS ARE GONNA PAY FOR THAT!"
"Oh, CORK IT, you loud obnoxious turtle!" Sour Sweet yelled, producing a giant pink bazooka from out of nowhere. "VORTEX BLASTER!"
Indigo Zap took a giant step away from her. "Oh shit!" she cried as Sour Sweet cocked the bazooka and fired a massive pink bolt of energy at Bowser which blasted a spike off his shell and caused a tremendous shower of sparks to fly. Bowser roared in agony, jumped straight into the air, and landed on Sour Sweet, smashing her to the ground.
"HEY!" Lemon Zest yelled. "Get OFF her!" She charged in with her Spin Saber, slashing high; Tommy followed in behind her, striking low with Saba. Indigo Zest jumped in, delivering an overhead slash to Bowser's head. Sugarcoat switched the cubes around on her Cublaster, which transformed into a thin-bladed sword; running in from the side, she slashed at Bowser's shoulder. Bowser staggered; Sour Sweet rolled out from under him and pushed herself to her feet, growling.
"That HURT, you—" Letting loose a stream of furious swear words, Sour Sweet leapt high into the air, pink lightning trailing from her hands as a pair of swords shaped like clock hands appeared. She held them at three and twelve and froze in midair; a pink blade of pure energy cleaved Bowser down the middle, sending explosions rippling across his chest. Showers of sparks rained all over the battlefield as Bowser roared in agony and rage and Sour Sweet touched down, separating her swords and holding one in each hand.
"I HAVE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU LITTLE—"
"You're too loud!" Sugarcoat exclaimed, taking a wide stance with her hands held low at her sides. "BEAST POWER!" The eyes of the elephant on her costume glowed, and her boots transformed into massive elephant feet.
The others stopped and stared at her. "...the fuck?" Indigo wondered.
Sugarcoat charged forward, raised one foot, and stomped. The ground between her and Bowser cracked open, a fissure erupting with green energy forming. When the spreading fissure impacted Bowser, a massive explosion engulfed him, spraying him with stone, dirt, and energy. Sugarcoat then leapt high into the air and came down on Bowser, her feet growing impossibly large as she landed directly on top of him; with a comically loud *tokk!* sound, Bowser withdrew into his shell, wobbling around on the ground. Sugarcoat's feet returned to normal; she backflipped away, coming to rest next to her teammates.
"Wow!" Lemon Zest said. "What do you call that attack?" In a sly tone, she suggested, "Sugar Crush?" The other girls groaned.
"Good job, girls! Let's finish him off!" Tommy suggested. Even as Bowser began to emerge from his shell, the Shadow Force Rangers unloaded on him with every manner of energy blast at their disposal; by the time they ceased their barrage, arcs of electricity, plumes of black smoke, fires, and showers of sparks erupted from the badly singed, battered, bleeding Bowser. He growled once, then fell over; a tremendous explosion engulfed him.
The Rangers relaxed. "Did...did we do it?" Lemon Zest asked. "Is he dead?"
Tommy sighed in relief. "I think—"
Something stalked onto the battlefield, standing between the Rangers and the mortally wounded Bowser. She had a decidedly female form, but was clearly alien; much of her body was encased in form-fitting black leather, with odd amber areas on her thighs and chest sporting a honeycomb pattern. Green pods decorated her hips and shoulders, and a green, static mass that could be hair or an ornament topped her black, helmet-like head. Beneath her opaque black visor, a silver faceplate held an alluring yet secretive feminine mouth.
The woman-thing pulled a pair of linked cylinders from her belt and aiming them at Sugarcoat; energy blasts ripped from the ends, staggering Sugarcoat as sparks exploded from her chest.
"Dude, are those gunchucks?!" Lemon Zest exclaimed. "Sweet!"
"She just shot me and you're cheering for her," Sugarcoat wheezed. "Some friend you are."
"Sorry," Lemon said sheepishly. "You okay?"
The new enemy stalked toward Sugarcoat as she clutched her chest. "What have you done to Genis-sama?" she snarled, aiming her gunchucks for another assault.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Sugarcoat replied.
Tommy stepped protectively in front of Sugarcoat. "Look, we don't know who you are, but we have no quarrel with you. Leave in peace or—"
"You are humans," the woman interrupted. "That is reason enough for me to see you all slaughtered."
"Yeah? Well there's six of us and one of you, lady," Indigo pointed out, readying her Street Saber.
"You have a point," the alien woman said. "Fortunately, I don't have to fight you lower lifeforms myself." She stalked over to Bowser, who was still burning and sparking on the ground, and produced a scarred gold medal. "This energy was extracted from Genis-sama's cells. Please do not waste it." The strange creature kissed the medal she held in her hand, then shoved it into Bowser's maw.
And then, Bowser Koopa was a kaiju.