By: Mark J. Hadley

* * *

The city of Townsville…but our story begins in Townsville Park, in the volcano-top observatory that is the hideout of one of the city's greatest villains, Mojo Jojo. He had been awake for the past two nights, scribbling away at a chalkboard, coming up with a plan to eliminate the guardians of the city, the Powerpuff girls, for good. For hours, he drew and erased, scrapping one plan after another. Nothing seemed good enough to work.

He finally threw his chalk to the ground, where it broke into several small pieces, and kicked over his chalkboard. "Curses!" he shouted. "I am exhausting my ideas. I've already tried almost everything, and nothing has even come close to working." He paced back and forth, "There must be something I can do to get rid of those meddlesome pests! I could always revise one of my previous plans, but I would have to take extra precautions that the element causing the plan's failure does not occur again, lest the revised plan likewise fail."

He walked over to a file cabinet and thumbed through it, muttering, "Let's see…giant Robo-Jojo…no…Anubis head…no, already tried it…slumber party…what was I thinking…hmm, wait a minute…" He pulled a file out, and examined its contents, reading aloud, "Rowdyruff boys…plan: create my own superpowered children as powerful as the girls…reason for failure: girls exploited weakness of design…hmmm…"

He wandered back over to the chalkboard and started drawing a few figures on it. He now had four circles, which he labeled, 'Sugar', 'Spice', 'Everything Nice' and 'Chemical X', with arrows connecting all of them. He muttered, "So, by replacing these three with substitutes, I was able to create my own versions of them…but their familiarity with Chemical X made them equals. No, I am changing the wrong ingredient! I must leave the first three the same, and it is the Chemical X that must be replaced! Yes, that is the solution!"

He scratched his chin, "But I still do not want them to come out good. That is the last thing I want; more goodie-goodie crimefighters. Therefore, whatever I replace the Chemical X with must be able to reverse the effects of the first three ingredients. It must be an opposite!" His eyes wandered across his lab, and finally rested on his one remaining beaker of Antidote X. "Yesss…Antidote X! The opposite of Chemical X…with this, I could give them powers not to equal or exceed the girls, but rather to counteract them!"

He hastily started gathering the ingredients together. He was fortunate enough to have a stock of sugar on-hand in the kitchen, as well as some rare imported spices. A quick trip to the park outside the observatory supplied him with, he believed, enough nice things: flowers, candy (taken from children in the park), and a few other odds and ends. He was still uncertain that this should be included in a recipe for villains, but he trusted that the Antidote X would do its work. Pouring it all into a bowl, he mixed it together.

He whistled aimlessly as he mixed, then "accidentally" smashed the mixing spoon into the beaker of Antidote X. "Oops! Oh dear!" he said, feigning surprise, "My Antidote X! It's pouring into the mix! What an accident!" Then he grinned evilly, and waited.

He tapped his fingers, continuing to wait. Nothing happened.

"Curses," he mumbled, "I hope I didn't waste the last of my Antidote X for nothing…"

He barely had time to finish his phrase, when the mixture suddenly exploded, throwing him back against the wall. A strange light filled the room, as Mojo picked himself back up to see what happened.

Hovering above the bowl were three girls. They were about the same size and shape as the PowerPuff Girls, but they looked vastly different. Their skin was pale, save for a darkened area around the edge of their eyes. Their clothes were similar to the PowerPuffs', but much darker. The middle one wore a deep, blood-red, and had long, firey-orange hair, tied back into a ponytail that went almost all the way to her feet. The one on the left wore a deep crimson blue, and her light yellow hair, almost white, was swept back. The one on the right wore a deep forest green, and she had spikey black hair on her head.

All three of them hovered calmly, yet their gazes—indeed, their mere presence—was filled with menace. A strange black glow seemed to surround them.

The red one spoke, her voice almost a hiss, and seeming to echo, "Who are you?"

Mojo was pleased…these three had turned out better than he had expected. He smiled evilly and introduced himself, "I am Mojo Jojo…I have created you, for the purpose of destroying the ones known as the PowerPuff Girls! Now, might I ask who you are?"

The red one answered, "I am she who brings death and destruction upon the creatures of this world. All will know Blood."

The blue one spoke, "The very land will perish beneath my feet. None will escape Blight."

The green one finished, "I bring hatred, and fear, and futility to all who meet my gaze. I am Bane to all that lives."

Impressive, Mojo thought, although a bit more extreme than I expected. He said, "Because of your opposite-of-PowerPuff nature, and because of your sole purpose, which is to destroy the PowerPuff Girls, you will henceforth be known now as the Anti-Puff Girls! That is what you will be called. Now, we have a job to do; destroy the girls so that I may rule the world!"

Blood was unmoved by Mojo's speech, and said, "We shall help you not."

"What?" Mojo exclaimed furiously. "I created you! You will obey me, and--"

Before Mojo could finish, Bane lifted one arm, and suddenly Mojo was lifted off the ground by an invisible force, and pulled across the room. He stopped, floating in midair, inches from Bane, who hissed, "We obey no one. Your goals are not our own."

Blight added, "We do not seek to rule the world..."

Blood finished, "...we seek to destroy it."

Mojo was taken aback, "Wh--...No! You cannot destroy the world, as it is my destiny to rule it!"

"Not anymore," Bane said flatly. She reached out and touched Mojo's forehead. A purple glow surrounded the two of them. Mojo jerked about, and tried to scream, but couldn't. After a few seconds, he went limp, and a moment later, the invisible force that held him disappeared, dropping him to the floor, where he laid, unmoving.

Blood gazed slowly over at the other two, and said, "Our creator spoke of others like us."

"Yes," Bane said, "The PowerPuff Girls. They are our enemies."

Blight said, "So be it. Let them be destroyed along with the others."

The three of them turned to look at a wall. An instant later, the wall exploded outwards. The Anti-Puff Girls drifted slowly out of the observatory, leaving Mojo, who continued to lie very still, no signs of life apparent...

* * *


Professor Utonium looked up from his papers where he was sitting, at the kitchen table, "Hm? What is it?"

Bubbles flew into the room and hovered above the desk, tears in her eyes, "Professor...I was building a tower with my blocks, and I worked a long time on it, and it was the biggest bestest tower you've ever seen, and then Buttercup knocked it over!" She paused a moment to catch her breath and continued, "...and so Blossom said, 'Hey, that wasn't nice, you'd better say you're sorry', and Buttercup was like, 'No way!' and Blossom was like, 'Y-"

"Bubbles, please..." the professor cut her off, "I'll have a talk with Buttercup later...right now I'm in the middle of something very important. But you can tell her I said 'Knock it off', all right?"

Bubbles smiled a little through her tears, sniffed and said, "Ok...thank you, Professor..." She hovered off slowly. The professor sighed...Those three get along great while they're fighting crime, he thought, so why do they fight so much here? Maybe I should have added a little extra "everything nice" when I made them. He returned to his work. Well, they always worked out their differences before, so this shouldn't be any different...

* * *

"Did too!" "Did not!" "Did too!" "Did not!"

Bubbles came back to the room, right into the middle of Blossom and Buttercup's argument. Blossom floated above the toppled pile of blocks from Bubbles' tower, and shouted, "You did do it on purpose! I saw you!"

Buttercup stood defiantly with her back to Blossom, her arms folded, "Well, she shouldn't build it way out in the open where we can run into it."

"That doesn't give you permission to just charge right into it!" Blossom said, waving her arms in the air with frustration.

"If it's in my way, I ain't moving," Buttercup shrugged.

As the argument escalated, Bubbles quietly sat down in a corner. She didn't want to listen to them fight anymore. She thought she'd be used to it by now, but she wasn't. The two of them had been fighting like this all week over one thing or another, and it looks like they were ready to continue it into next week as well.

Or if they had the chance, anyway, for in the next moment, the familiar sound of the Hotline rang out.

As usual, everything fell quiet, and Blossom rushed over to pick up the receiver,"Yes, Mayor?" After a few moments, she said, "We're on it." Hanging up, she said, "Trouble at the park. Let's roll!"

Blossom dashed off ahead, but Buttercup hesitated for a moment, staring over at Bubbles over in the corner. She said, "C'mon, we'd better get going too..." Bubbles looked back and nodded slowly. They both took off to follow Blossom, leaving the broken tower of blocks behind them...

* * *

On the way flying to the park, Buttercup asked, "What did the Mayor say the trouble was?"

"I don't know," Blossom replied. "All he said was that there were reports of some strange things going on. He said the police called to let him know, but the call was cut off before they could say what was wrong--"

Bubbles interuppted, pointing in the distance, "Look!"

Ahead, they saw the trees in the park...but there was a large circle of trees that were missing, like there had been an explosion. Pieces of debris were laying around on the ground and the other trees nearby. There was no smoke in the air, however, so it couldn't have been an explosion...

They descended, and landed near the edge of the area. Several trees had indeed been uprooted and splintered. They also spotted several police officers in the area, lying on the ground, apparently unconscious. Moving up to the nearest cop, Blossom turned him face-up. His skin was pale, and cold.

"What's wrong with him?" Buttercup asked.

Blossom checked out his vitals, and gasped, "Oh no...I...I think he's..."

Buttercup flew over to another cop, and checked him out, too...she said, "This one,'s horrible! What happened to them?" Bubbles stayed where she was, biting her lip.

Blossom gathered her composure, and said grimly, "All right, girls...we have to stop whatever's doing this. Fan out, and look for clues..."

"No need." came a voice from nearby. All three girls turned to look in the direction it came from.

The Anti-Puff girls were standing on the ground near the edge of the circle of trees. They glared coldly across the clearing at the PowerPuff Girls, who quickly gathered back together.

"They're...they're like us..." Bubbles whispered.

", they're not like us!" Blossom frowned, "Something's wrong here..."

Buttercup called over to the other girls, "Who are you?"

"We are the Anti-Puff Girls," Blood declared. "I am Blood...these are my sisters, Blight and Bane." She motioned to the others, then returned her gaze to the girls. "And must be the PowerPuff Girls, are you not?"

"That's right!" Blossom shouted, "What have you done to these people?"

The Anti-Puff girls didn't answer. For a few moments, both the Anti-Puffs and the PowerPuffs stared at each other, silently. Not a single move was made, and there was hardly a sound in the air. During this silence, a cat wandered from the woods, and walked over to Blight. It looked up at her and mewed softly. Without taking her eyes off the PowerPuffs, she slowly lowered her hand, touching the cat on the top of its head as though it was going to pet it. A spark of light seemed to jump from them, as a soft, purple glow surrounded them both. The cat tensed up, then flopped over onto its side.

Bubbles gasped, "Wh--what did you do to the kitty?!"

"Patience," Blight hissed. "You will find out soon enough." All three of the Anti-Puffs suddenly started walking forward. As they crossed the grass in the clearing, their footprints left patches of dead grass in their wake. They continued walking forward, almost casually, but unmistakably full of menace.

"Girls," Blossom said, "I think we'd better stay back from them..." Bubbles and Buttercup nodded, and all three flew in to the air to gains some distance. The Anti-Puffs' gazes followed them upwards, and they stopped walking. Bane spoke to Blood, her gaze still fixed on them, "Perhaps it was not wise to let them know about our ability to drain life force."

"Inconsequential," Blood answered, "They haven't a chance against us either way. My sisters, let us bring them back down." A moment later, the nearby trees that were still standing began to shake, almost as if a heavy wind were blowing through them.

"What's going on?" Buttercup exclaimed. "Something's happening to the trees..."

In the next instant, all of the trees were uprooted, flying into the air. They gathered together and hovered there, unnaturally, just above the Anti-Puffs, who had still not taken their eyes off the PowerPuffs, not even blinked. After a few seconds, the trees suddenly shot like rockets towards the PowerPuffs.

"Look out!" Blossom shouted. The three of them quickly fired their eyebeams, blasting the first set of trees, but there were too many. They tried to dodge as many of the remaining trees as they could. They were moving incredibly fast, and try as they might, several of them still rammed into them, knocking them around into other ones. All three of them lost control of their flight, and were knocked into the ground.

Blossom rubbed her head, trying to regain her bearings. She looked up out of the crater in the ground she was in. Blood was standing over her, silhouetted by the sunlight above. She could see the other two at her side. Blossom quickly reacted, leaping to her feet and firing her eyebeams, but Blood impassively waved her hand, deflecting the beams as though they rebounded off an invisible field...or had just changed directions randomly. Blood remarked, "Admirable, but ultimately futile."

"Girls!" Blossom called out, hoping that Bubbles or Buttercup would hear her, but her call was immediately cut short, when the Anti-Puff Girls surrounded her, each laying a hand on her shoulder. The purple glow surrounded all of them...

Bubbles and Buttercup pulled themselves up out of their own craters, still disoriented. They were suddenly alerted when they noticed a bright light, and saw what was happening. "Blossom!" they shouted. Before they could react, the glow had stopped, as the Anti-Puffs withdrew their hands. Blossom still stood for a brief moment, but fell to her knees, then collapsed face-down in the dirt.

"NOOO!" Bubbles cried out. She was about to fly towards them, but Buttercup grabbed her arm.

"Don't!" Buttercup yelled, "Or they'll do the same to you! We have to get out of here!"

"But..." Tears were welling up in Bubbles' eyes, "But...Blossom..."

"I know, but we can't do anything for her right now..." Buttercup said sternly, but her eyes betrayed her voice. "The professor will know what to do...let's just go, before it's too late!"

Bubbles nodded, still crying...the three of them quickly shot off into the sky, disappearing into the distance. The Anti-Puffs watched them leave, but did not pursue them. Bane looked down at her hands, and remarked, "I feel enriched..."

"As do I," Blight said. "That one had a considerable amount of life force. I imagine the other two will be the same."

Blood was still looking up to where Bubbles and Buttercup had flown off, and she narrowed her eyes. "Yes...with their life force, we would have more than enough power to destroy this world. Nothing can withstand us now, but if we are to be successful, we must be absolutely sure..."

* * *

"Are you absolutely sure?!"

The professor was shocked as he heard the news. The girls had come back home distressed, and once he found out what had happened, he was in disbelief. Buttercup confirmed the story though, "I'm afraid so, Professor...they got Blossom..."

"This is terrible!" he said, "You say they touched her, and there was a glow emanating from them?

"That's right," Bubbles sniffed, "and it was all over..."

Buttercup sat down, and stared sadly at a picture hanging on the wall of the four of them. I feel awful, she thought. We were just arguing, and I...we never had the chance to make up...

"It sounds as though these 'Anti-Puff Girls' you describe have the power to drain the life essence out of people," the professor said. Then, an idea came to him, "Girls, perhaps there's a way to save Blossom, and the others..."

Buttercup looked up, and brightened, "How?"

"I don't know yet...but there may be a way to return their life essence to their bodies, since it was extracted cleanly, without damaging the body. As long as the body remains completely undamaged, we may still have time..."

"You mean...Blossom could be all right?" Bubbles sounded relieved.

"I'll have to run some tests in the lab first..."

"Do it!" Buttercup exclaimed. "Right now, me and Bubbles need to stop 'em before they destroy the town. Can you think of something we can try?"

"I don't know," the professor replied. "Perhaps if I had some more information about how they were made, I'd have something to work from..."

"We don't even know who made them," Bubbles said.

" could be anyone," Buttercup added.

"Well, you first came across them in the park, right?" The professor rubbed his chin thoughtfully, "If they leave a trail of destruction where they've been, then they would have had to originate from the park, since the surrounding area was undamaged. And if they were created in the park..."

Buttercup snapped her fingers, "Mojo! It has to be...he tried a stunt like this before. C'mon, Bubbles! Let's pay him a visit...Professor, get working on a way to bring everyone back."

They were just about to take off, when the house started shaking. Bubbles was shaken around, and stammered, "W-w-what is it? An e-earthquake?"

The roof of the house was suddenly torn completely off. Bubbles, Buttercup and the professor shouted in surprise, huddling together. Above the house hovered the Anti-Puff Girls, still with the same cold and menacing look. Blood spoke, "Ah, there you are."

The PowerPuffs quickly put themselves between the Anti-Puffs and the professor, "Stay down! We'll handle this!" Buttercup shouted. A look of doubt crossed Bubbles' expression, though...she wasn't as confident that they could do anything to stop them...

"How noble," Bane said disdainfully, "that you would put yourself before this weakling."

"Whether it is bravery or stupidity means nothing," added Blight, "since the result is the same: your own demise."

Blood stretched out her hand, "However, perhaps you'd like to see exactly how fruitless your efforts are." The professor was suddenly lifted off the ground, and pulled through the air right past the girls.

Bubbles exclaimed, "Professor!" and tried to grab hold of his leg as he went by, but missed.

The professor soared through the air, stopping just in front of Blood. He called out, "Girls! Save yourselves! Run while you sti--" He was interrupted by Blood, who grabbed him by the back of his neck. The purple glow surrounded them both.

"No!" Buttercup cried out, "No...not him too..." She watched as the professor dropped from their grasp and toppled down, landing just in front of her. His head rolled to the side, almost as if it was turning to face her, but the expression was blank. Upon seeing this, Buttercup was on the verge of panic...How are we going to save everyone now? she thought. The professor...he was the only one who could figure out he and!

Buttercup screamed with rage, and started blasting wildly with her eyebeams at the Anti-Puffs. Without so much as changing their expressions, the beams were harmlessly deflected off into the air. Buttercup stopped firing, and looked up at them in disbelief, a look of utter defeat crossing her usually confident face.

"Are you through?" Bane asked. It was almost like a taunt, but her expression was as cold as ever.

Bubbles said, "Buttercup, lets go!" She was all set to start flying away. Buttercup looked back at her, and she suddenly recalled. Mojo's hideout, she thought...If we can find out how they were created, we might still find a way to beat 'em! She nodded to Bubbles, and both of them quickly started to fly away.

Blight narrowed her eyes, "You are going nowhere, PowerPuffs." All three of the Anti-Puffs raised their hands. Bubbles and Buttercup suddenly froze, in mid-flight, a powerful force holding them in place. They struggled against it as hard as they could. "Can't...let them...stop us!...." Buttercup grunted.

They began to pull away, inch by inch. The Anti-Puffs tensed, and clenched their eyes with heavy exertion. The struggle lasted for another few seconds before the Anti-Puffs finally weakened, and panted that instant, the PowerPuffs took the opportunity and dashed off into the distance as fast as they could.

Blood frowned, disappointed. "We could not hold them."

Bane wiped her brow with her hand, and answered, "We are obviously not powerful enough yet. We need more life force."

"Yes," Blight agreed, "Let us finish with the town first. After that, they will not have a chance."

* * *

They arrived at Mojo's observatory, and immediately knew their guess was correct. There was a large gaping hole in the side, which they figured had to have been made by the Anti-Puff Girls. Flying through the entrance, they found the place in a state of complete disarray.

"What a mess," Buttercup remarked. "Doesn't Mojo ever clean up this place?"

"Uh," Bubbles answered, "I...don't think he can...look!" She pointed over to where Mojo was lying on the ground. He was completely devoid of life, like the others outside were.

Buttercup's expression fell when she saw this. "It looks like we won't be able to find out from what do we do?"

"Look for clues; that's what Blossom woul--..." Bubbles' voice faltered a little at the end, and Buttercup put a hand on her shoulder for comfort. They both smiled, and then set their attention back to looking around the lab.

As Buttercup rifled through some papers on the table, Bubbles shouted, "Over here..." She had picked up the chalkboard, which had been lying on the ground. It had four circles on it, labeled 'Sugar', 'Spice', 'Everything Nice', and 'Chemical X'...but the last circle was scribbled out.

"Hey, if he didn't use Chemical X, then what did he use?" Buttercup was perplexed; she had thought the Chemical X was what gave them all their powers...and if Mojo didn't use it, then how did the Anti-Puffs have powers?

As she mused over these thoughts, she noticed a broken beaker on the table. She flew over and picked it up and examined it. The label was still intact. "Antidote X," Buttercup read aloud.

"Huh?" Bubbles was more confused than before. "But I thought that takes powers away..."

"For us, not for them." Buttercup looked back outside, and smiled, "And you know, I think I've got an idea...c'mon, we have to get back home!" The two of them flew out from the lab...

As they soared over the city, something was definitely wrong. Everywhere they passed over, there were people lying on the street. All of them looked like they had been drained as well. "We'd better step on it, before it's too late!" Buttercup said.

"Wait!" Bubbles shouted, "I should go get Blossom and take her back with us..."

"Okay, but hurry, we don't have much time."

Bubbles nodded, and turned back around, heading for the park. Buttercup continued to fly on ahead. As Bubbles descended, she spotted Blossom, lying where the Anti-Puffs had left her. She hesitated for a moment, then gingerly picked her up. She felt cold and clammy to the touch, and it was really unsettling to see the frozen expression on her face. She was momentarily overwhelmed with sadness, and the thought crossed her mind that they might not be able to save her. No, she thought, there has to be a way, and if there is, we'll find it...

"Well now," came a voice behind Bubbles, "We knew you'd come back. Too bad for you." She knew what it was, and was almost too afraid to turn around...instead, she started to take off, but then, pieces of dirt and grass pulled up from the ground and surrounded her. Only her head was sticking out of the lump of earth that held her. She struggled to break free, but it held tight.

The Anti-Puffs surrounded her on three sides, glaring coldly. Bubbles shook fearfully and stammered, "Wh-what are you gonna d-do?"

"Calm yourself, my little PowerPuff," Blood said. "It will all be over in a moment." The three of them reached out towards her...she panicked, but couldn't move, even with her full strength. The last thing she managed to do was scream...

* * *

As Buttercup flew back home, her supersonic hearing suddenly picked something up, a high-pitched scream that could only be... "Bubbles!" she said with horror. She was about to turn around, when the scream was suddenly cut off. She clenched both her eyes and teeth in anger, and kept flying., they got Bubbles, she thought, a tear escaping from her clenched eyes. They...they can't be stopped...they can't be stopped! What can I do? I'm alone...Blossom, Bubbles, the professor, all gone...

She forced her eyes open, setting them with determination. No, I can't give up! I'm the city's last hope...the world's last hope! I owe it to them. I can still stop them...if my plan works...

Descending towards the house, she flew into the kitchen through the missing roof, and made a beeline for the professor's lab. She went down the stairs and started searching around through the professor's equipment and chemicals. "I know it's here somewhere!" she muttered, "Where does he keep it?"

She finally found what she was looking for on one of the back tables. "Yes! Now, to set the trap..."

* * *

The Anti-Puff Girls hovered slowly down the main street of Townsville. Blight was gazing at the buildings they passed, lifting them up completely off the ground, splitting them down the middle, and dumping them back to the street. Blood and Bane were busy drawing in passerby's and draining them.

Blight seemed a little frustrated, "She must be around here somewhere. I would not have thought she would hide like this."

"Patience," Blood said, "There is no rush. We shall have her soon enough; she cannot hide from us forever."

As they continued down the street, they suddenly stopped. Down in the street below them, Blossom stood quietly. She was hanging her head, and her arms were behind her. She wasn't in any kind of battle-readiness. She spoke softly, but loudly enough for them to hear, "I won't kid myself; I can't beat you three. I give up."

The Anti-Puffs descended and landed in a semi-circle around her. Bane said, "You have come to your senses. You have realized that resisting us would be in vain." Buttercup nodded.

"Excellent," remarked Blood.

"Yes," added Blight, "We promise to be swift in draining your life force."

"Swift? You promise?" Buttercup asked.

"Indeed." Blight started to reach for her.

"I'd hate to disagree, but..." She suddenly pulled a squirt gun from behind her back, aiming it at Blight. "'re not very swift, are you?" While they were stunned by her sudden action, Buttercup pulled the trigger, shooting a quick stream of black liquid at Blight.

It sizzled when it hit. Blight reeled backwards, while Blood and Bane stared at her in shock. She hissed, "What...what did to me..."

While she had the surprise advantage, Buttercup quickly shot a squirt of the liquid at the other two as well. Blood saw it coming and dodged, but Bane was hit. She likewise reeled back, trying madly to brush it off of herself. In the next moment, however, there was a flash of light and a loud *POP*...and both Bane and Blight vanished, a small pile of sugar, spice, and everything nice left where they were standing.

Blood gritted her teeth, "What is that?"

"Chemical X," replied Buttercup, grinning smugly. "I figured if you were made with Antidote X, then Chemical X would be able to destroy you." She leveled the squirt gun at Blood, "Now, it's your turn!"

Frowning, Blood growled, "I don't think so." She stretched out her hand, and there was suddenly a strong tug on the squirt gun. Buttercup held onto it with her full strength, but it was slipping. "You cannot resist my powers," shouted Blood, tensing up, and pulling harder. "I am more powerful than when we last met! You shall taste the bitterness of defeat!"

Buttercup pulled back hard, and yelled, "Taste...this!" She twisted the squirt gun, breaking it in half. The Chemical X it held spilled out, but it was caught in the invisible force that was tugging on the gun, and flowed directly at Blood. She barely had enough time to realize her mistake, when the Chemical X splashed over her, causing a large flash of light and explosion. The sugar, spice, and everything nice settled to the ground in her place.

Buttercup could hardly believe she defeated them, but she didn't feel like celebrating. I did it...but too late, she we'll never know if there's a way to reverse their energy draining...

She suddenly noticed something that she hadn't was lifting up from the ground, from the places where the Anti-Puffs were last standing. As Buttercup watched, it coalesced into a giant ball of light in front of her. Then, dozens of tiny energy particles shot off in different directions, heading into the sky, and across the town. Some of them stayed in the immediate area, and impacted into the people who were lying on the street.

The people got up slowly, disoriented. Buttercup realized what was happening, and looked back at the giant energy ball. It was smaller now, but the bulk of it had split into two large energy balls, which were flying off towards the park. Buttercup quickly followed them, overjoyed.

As they reached the park, they shot down to where Blossom and Bubbles lay, disappearing into them. Their eyes opened...Blossom muttered, "..w--wha...?"

Buttercup landed, and picked them both up, hugging them each with one arm, "You're okay!"

Bubbles rubbed her eyes, "What...happened?"

"That's ok," Buttercup exclaimed, "I'll tell you on the way back home..."

* * *

"Wow, Buttercup...I'm impressed!"

Blossom and Bubbles had listened to the story in mid-flight, and now that they were safe and sound back home, they could talk about it. The professor was also back to his old self, and was seated with them. Blossom's comment made Buttercup smile, and she remarked, "Ah, it was nothin'..."

"Don't be so modest," Blossom said. "That was really very clever, wasn't it, Professor?"

"Indeed it was!" the professor replied. "A brilliant piece of logical deduction, if I may say so. There may be some hope for you yet, Buttercup."

"Listen, Blossom?" Buttercup said, changing the subject, "I...I just wanted to say I'm sorry for arguing with you earlier...and Bubbles, I'm sorry for knocking over your tower; it wasn't a very nice thing to do..."

"It's all right," Blossom said, "We know you didn't mean to do it."

Bubbles smiled, "Yeah, we're glad to have you around!"

Buttercup smiled back, and said, "Thanks..." Then she folded her arms, and added, "I did do pretty good, didn't I? You know, Bloss, if you ever feel like givin' up bein' leader..."

"Don't count on it," Blossom said. She smiled, though, as she thought to herself, But really, I'll know who I can turn to if I ever do...