Here it is, as promised, probably sooner than everyone expected. The absolutely true and final chapter of A Match Made in Hell. I hope you will enjoy reading it, because I've certainly enjoyed writing it. While this story may have gone on for longer than I had planned, it was a lot of fun to do, and I'm satisfied with the way it'll end. And while it may seem like I'm building up to a sequel with this ending, I'm sorry to say that, if and when I do write it, it won't be for a while. I have other things I need to do between now and then. I hope you all can understand, and will continue to read my work in the future.
Anyway, without further ado, here it is: the final chapter. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: The Great Old Ones are owned by HP Lovecraft (I think), and the place they're attacking…
Well, that should be self-evident. Heheheheh.
Nearly everything in this chapter is owned by other people, like Disney and Square Enix. Except for the Zords. Those are all mine, unfortunately.
The end of the world had come for Springfield.
The Great Old Ones had come, rising from the seas, descending from the skies, erupting from deep underground, or appearing from the very darkness itself. The alien gods and their horrific minions unleashed a wave of chaos and destruction on the hapless town, slaughtering and feasting and burning and torturing and driving the poor souls unlucky enough to be left alive utterly mad, so the Old Ones could feed on their insanity before extinguishing their souls forever.
The giant ball of fire Cthugha and his progeny Fthaggua and Aphoom-Zah created a blaze in midtown to rival the famous Springfield Tire Fire, with the help of their fire vampires and flame creature servants. (Well, Cthugha and Fthaggua made it burn, Aphoom-Zah was just good at freezing stuff, paradoxically. Got along well with Ithaqua, though.) The flying scorpion Baoht Z'uqqa-Mogg and his ghouls prowled the skies alongside the fire-breathing Coatlicue, the bat-winged Yibb-Stll and the nightgaunts suckling from his breasts, the winged toad Zvilpogghua, and Rh'Thulla of the Wind. Barney Gumble and Duftman had sacrificed their lives in a suicidal blimp crash to try and take the beasts out of the sky, but failed miserably, and now their carcasses burned in the wreckage of the crashed airship, like the rest of Springfield.
The cancerous blob M'Nagalah the Eternal flowed through the sewers beneath the city, reaching tendrils out through drains and manholes to drag people screaming down into his amorphous mass. The toad-like Tsathoggua, his very large family, and their formless spawn servitors stormed the Kwik-E-Mart and devoured everything within, including Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and his rather large family. The eyeless Dweller in the Gulf and the Aihai, Mnomquah (along with his wife Oorn and their worshippers the Men of Leng and the moon-beasts), and Mordiggian and his ghouls attacked the Springfield Retirement Castle and consumed the aged senior citizens within, most of whom (also blind, or at least having poor eyesight) did not see it coming. The Dweller also plucked out their eyeballs before eating them, so that probably didn't help. He didn't take Hans Moleman's, though; his eyes weren't really worth eating.
The giant worms Rlim Shaikorth, Shudde M'Ell and his chthonians, and the Worm that Gnaws in the Night completely destroyed Springfield Elementary and ate all the teachers, which delighted the students until they, too, were consumed. Superintendent Chalmers blamed it all on Principal Skinner just before he was eaten alive. Moe's Tavern was stomped into rubble by the cyclopean demon Othuum, much to the horror of its patrons, and Moe, naturally. The tentacled Twin Obscenities Zhar and Lloigor, on a 'double date' with the Twin Blasphemies Nug and Yeb, broke into the hospitals and sanitariums and feasted on the sick and dying and utterly helpless patients within. The valiant Dr. Julius Hibbert died trying to fend them off, whereas the less valiant Dr. Nick just died because something stepped on him while he was running away. Shub-Niggurath and her Thousand Young broke into Krustylu Studios and violently tore apart Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Mel while their show was on the air. (Ironically, it was actually less gory than the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon he had been about to present.)
"Worst apocalypse EVER!" the Comic Book Guy proclaimed as he was attacked by the deceptively small mummy-like Quachil Uttaus. "They could've at least sent a bigger Old One to kill me," he complained before decaying and disintegrating into nothingness at Quachil Uttaus's touch.
The greatest amount of activity was down at the waterfront, where all the aquatic and many amphibious Great Old Ones and their servants were feasting and killing and destroying. The Deep Ones frolicked and killed and raped under the watchful eyes of Father Dagon and Mother Hydra, who did much the same thing; the Star-Spawn of Cthulhu slithered about and strangled and maimed; and Yuggs and Yuggya led by Father Ubb burrowed about and ate and defecated like the hideous giant worms they were. Basatan and his crabs attacked the seafood restaurant run by Captain Horatio McCallister and served him for dinner, a rather ironic and fitting twist. Glaaki the Lord of Dead Dreams impaled screaming beachgoers on his many metal spines and injected them with fluids that transformed them into his undead slaves. The kraken lords Nctosa and Nctolhu snatched up victims with their many tentacles, tore them apart, and drank up their blood. Great Dead Dread Cthulhu and his mate Idh-yaa watched with pleasure as their children Ghatanothoa, Ythogtha, Zoth-Omnog, and Cthylla 'played' with the mortals that had been all lined up on the beach just waiting for them when the Great Old Ones rose from the sea. "Isn't it a lovely day for the death of a world?" Cthulhu asked Idh-yaa, who shrieked and hissed and writhed and wiggled about in response "No, you have nothing to worry about. You do look very horrid in the blood-red light shining down from the dark skies, being locked up in the dark at the bottom of the ocean in R'lyeh for countless eons has done nothing but worsen your looks. You're certainly more hideous than Shub-Niggurath." The hundreds of grotesque misshapen offspring she spawned at that moment told him how pleased that had made her. He smiled under his tentacles, and then began eating her newborn children. She devoured them as well. It was a very romantic moment for amoral cosmic beings incapable of feeling 'love' in the way most people did.
C. Montgomery Burns, the richest (and oldest) man in town frowned as Iod, Juk-Shabb, Saa'itii, Rhan-Tegoth, and their servitors breached the front gates of his nuclear power plant and started tearing apart the parking lot and the foolish employees who had thought they might be able to flee to safety. "Smithers, who are those monstrous-looking chaps destroying the town?"
"I believe those are the Great Old Ones Mr. Burns, arisen from their long slumber to destroy the world of man," Waylon Smithers, Burns' lackey, reported. "They will not stop in their destruction until all life in our world has been completely destroyed or warped to suit their twisted purposes."
"Hmm, how inconvenient. Would they be willing to accept a bribe to leave us alone?"
Smithers shook his head. "I'm afraid not, sir, they deal in souls and lives, not munny. You could ask their representative Nyarlathotep, though; I believe you have a meeting with him at two."
Burns scowled and turned from his office window. "What, and give those reckless hooligans one cent of my hard-earned munny? I think not! Springfield is my town, and if anyone's going to destroy, it'll be me, not those young rapscallions! Smithers, activate the nuclear self-destruct system, and ready my escape autogyro!"
"Yes, sir!" Smithers replied, practically swooning at how swiftly his employer (and secret crush) was taking action.
Meanwhile, America's favorite family was barricading their household to try and fend off the Great Old Ones. (Well, sort of.)
"Homer, why are you sitting there watching television?! It's the end of the world! I thought I told you to monster-proof our house!" Marge Simpson shouted at her husband, tearing out clumps of her towering blue hair in exasperation.
"What? I did!" Homer Simpson, the lazy oaf protested, reluctantly glancing away from the television (and the horrific disemboweling of Channel 6 KBBL-TV's news anchorman Kent Brockman) to look at his wife.
"All you did was lock the doors, close the blinds, and paint 'NO HUMANZ HEER' on the front of the house!" Marge shrieked at him. "That's not going to stop them!"
"Au contraire!" Homer countered, mentally congratulating himself for knowing some French. "Watch and learn!" Removing himself from the couch with a loud slurping sound and leaving an impression in the shape of his body behind (careful not to spill the contents of the open beer can in his hand in the process), Homer walked over to the nearest window and peeked through the shuttered blinds. Reluctantly, Marge joined him to look outside.
Evergreen Terrace was a nightmare. Many of the houses across the street were on fire and splattered with blood and dismembered body parts belonging to the neighbors. Grotesque inhuman monsters paraded through the streets, carrying severed heads and intestines and other organs. Some of the more ingenious and cruel minions of the Old Ones had managed to rig a car into a litter to support one of their larger abominable masters, carried on the backs of weeping naked children gushing blood from countless wounds. Off in the near distance, the forms of unbelievably immense shambling horrors could be seen stomping about and ravaging the downtown area and nearest suburbs. Marge was certain this was going to ruin the real estate value of the neighborhood significantly. After all, she had been a realtor once, she should know.
She tensed as a party of absolutely disgusting crosses between slugs and crabs and spiders approached the house, and was surprised when they paused, ogling the small and very fragile structure with the many eyes growing from the ends of tentacles sticking up all over their body. "This place looks good," one of the monsters said to its companions. (It didn't say it in English, but in some bizarre alien tongue completely indistinguishable to human ears and minds, but that's roughly what it said.)
"But it says there's no humans here," another monster pointed out.
"Are you sure?" asked another.
"Yeah, those big red letter-y things say so."
"I didn't know you could read Human," said the leader of the crab-slug things, looking surprised.
"Yeah, I took a crash course in college," the monster that had read Homer's graffiti said.
"And it says there's no humans there?" the leader asked.
"Nope, not one," was the reply.
The monsters groaned and sagged, noxious gases spewing from vents all over their body that caused the ground around them to melt away. The leader grunted. "Oh well, too bad. Let's try the next house." Somewhat disappointed, they slithered and skittered off.
Marge's jaw dropped. Homer let go of the blinds. "There, you see? Everything's under control," he said smugly.
"Homer, I really don't think that's going to fool some of the smarter ones! We have to do something!" Marge insisted. "We would have been able to just drive out of here, if SOMEONE hadn't accidentally drilled holes in the gas tanks of both our cars while messing around with them!"
Homer's eyes shifted about uneasily. "Uh, yeah, Bart's gonna be so grounded for that…"
Marge sighed. "Speaking of which, where are the kids?"
In the attic upstairs…
"Bart, I really don't think sacrificing Snowball II will make the Great Old Ones go away," Lisa Simpson complained to her brother, Bart, who was currently wearing black robes and standing with a dagger poised over the Simpson family's cat, which he had gagged and tied to a makeshift altar.
"Who said anything about making them go away? I'm hoping they'll make me one of them if I give them Snowball's soul!" Bart said eagerly.
"BART!" Lisa shouted.
"What? It was her or Maggie," Bart said with a frown. Maggie, the third child of the family who had been a baby for what seemed like forever, made a sucking noise on her pacifier and fell over for no reason.
"Bart, you can't sacrifice our little sister! Mom'd ground you forever!" Lisa said angrily. "And besides, if you kill a cat, you'll piss off Bast, who's supposedly one of the Elder Gods that oppose the Great Old Ones…and given our current situation, I doubt that'd be a very good idea."
Bart rolled his eyes. "Well, now you tell me…wait, I thought she was one of those Egyptian deities, how'd she become an Elder God?"
Lisa shrugged. "Lovecraft was obsessed with cats."
"Oh, okay. Guess I'll have to sacrifice Dad's pig, then," Bart said, reluctantly untying Snowball II, who immediately tried to claw his eyes out. "Ow! Hey!"
"Too late, Dad already ate him," Lisa said.
"Really?" asked a surprised Bart, yanking Snowball II off his face and hurling her away. "I thought he loved that pig…"
"He loved that lobster too, but that didn't keep him from eating it," Lisa reminded him.
"Good point." Bart glanced at Maggie. "You sure I can't-"
"NO!" Lisa yelled.
Bart rolled his eyes. "Fine, geez. Oh well, guess we're screwed then."
Lisa frowned at Bart, offended by his flippant and carefree attitude. "Bart, this is really serious! The Great Old Ones are here! According to the Miskatonic University newsletter, they're made of almost totally indestructible cosmic matter and can't be stopped by the army or even nuclear weapons! They'll destroy every living thing on the planet and wipe out the entire human race!"
Bart sighed and shook his head. "Lisa, Lisa, Lisa…Lisa. You're getting too worked up about this. We've got nothing to worry about."
"Nothing to worry about?! IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD, BART!" Lisa shouted at him.
"Lisa, how many times has Springfield and/or the world and/or our family been killed or completely destroyed?" Bart asked his sister.
Lisa hesitated. "Well…"
"A lot, right? And every single time, nothing comes of it. The town comes back, we come back, as if none of it ever happened, especially all the Halloween stuff," Bart explained to her. "You know as well as I do that nothing really important ever changes in this town, or at least not for long."
"Maude Flanders died and is still dead," Lisa pointed out.
Bart rolled his eyes. "I said nothing important, Lees, duh. Nobody cares about the Flanderses."
"Bart, that's a horrible thing to say!" said an aghast Lisa.
"What? It's true! Look, I'll show you." Bart led Lisa over to the window, which conveniently enough gave them a view of the Flanders household next door. The devout and evangelical Ned Flanders and his two sons, Rod and Todd, were standing in a circle in the backyard, their hands joined and their heads bowed in prayer.
"'The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!'" Ned quoted from the Bible.
"Daddy, I'm scared," Todd whimpered.
"Don't worry, Todd, God is on our side!" Rod assured his brother.
Ned nodded. "That's right boys, as long as the power of God is protecting His children, no harm shall come to us!"
That's when the shoggoths smashed through the back fence and proceeded to engulf the Flanders family in their protoplasmic, amorphous masses. They screamed in agony as their skin was sucked right off their bodies and their bones were crunched and chewed up by temporary organs that had been grown by the beasts for that specific purpose. Eyes bubbled up out of the surface of the horrors' skin and blinked about happily as they digested the Simpsons' neighbors.
"Ha-ha! Where's your messiah now?" taunted Nelson Muntz, pointing mockingly at the shoggoths as the last of the screaming Ned Flanders was absorbed into the monstrosities. He didn't laugh for long, though, as he soon suffered a similar fate at the pseudopods of Ubbo-Sathla.
"There, you see?" Bart said, turning from the window to find Lisa throwing up in a corner. "Oh, relax, he'll be fine by tomorrow. This whole thing'll blow over in a couple of weeks, a month or two tops."
"But Bart, what if you're wrong?" Lisa asked, her face pale as she staggered back to her feet. "What if this time, it really is the end of the world for real, and we're all going to stay dead?"
Bart scoffed. "Yeah, like the writers would let that happen."
From downstairs, they could hear the doorbell ringing. "Oh, I'll get it!" Homer's loud voice echoed up from below.
"Homer, no, it's probably a trick!" Marge nagged him.
"Pizza delivery," a harsh, inhuman voice rasped from the other side of the front door.
"Mmm, pizza," Homer drooled, reaching towards the doorknob without thinking.
Lisa's eyes widened in horror. "Dad, no!" She rushed down the ladder from the attic at breakneck pace. Bart shrugged, picked up Maggie, and followed her at a more leisurely speed.
Despite Lisa's rushing, she got there too late to stop her father from opening the front door and letting the hideously scaled and finned Deep Ones waiting outside into the house. "D'oh!" cursed Homer as the fish-men barged inside.
"Homer, I told you! Oh, you never listen!" Marge groused.
"Oh my…" a horrified Lisa gasped.
"Whoa, cool, fish-men! Way more fearsome than those dolphins that invaded town that one time," Bart commented. Maggie made a sucking noise in agreement.
"Foolish mortal!" the biggest and nastiest Deep One sneered. "Now we will mutilate, molest, and defile you and your loved ones, and then we will tear you apart in a truly gruesome and heinous fashion before devouring your weak, yellow flesh and delivering your souls to our gods!"
"Um, I don't have a soul. Gave it to Marge. Isn't that right, honey?" Homer said quickly, hiding behind Marge.
"Homer!" Marge hissed to her husband through gritted teeth.
"I don't have a soul either, I sold it to Satan," Bart commented.
Marge gasped. "BART!"
Lisa sighed in exasperation. "Not again! Bart, didn't you learn your lesson after what happened the LAST time you sold your soul?!"
"Of course I did," Bart said indignantly. "This time I didn't give it to him right away, just promised he could have it after I died if he'd do a few…favors for me."
Marge gave Bart a stern look. "So that's where you got that new BB gun! Young man, what do you think you're doing selling your soul? Hasn't going to Church all these years taught you anything?!"
"No," Bart, Lisa, and Homer all said simultaneously, with Maggie sucking since she couldn't talk yet. Or ever. Marge sighed wearily.
"And besides, Dad did it one time," Bart pointed out.
"For a donut! And what a delicious donut it was…mmm…donut…" Homer drooled.
"I should think the fact that your father did it is reason enough for you NOT to do it!" Marge argued.
"Hey!" cried an offended Homer.
"Huh, that does make sense…" Bart agreed grudgingly.
The biggest Deep One growled in annoyance. "Fine, we'll spare the boy…"
"Wait, you mean we can't just kill him?" protested one of the others.
The leader smacked him. "No, you idiot, he belongs to Satan! Our master is friends with him! We could get in big trouble for doing something like that! Anyway, we'll spare the boy, but the fat one and the womenfolk shall still suffer unimaginable agonies at our claws before we deliver their souls to our masters!"
"Hey, who're you calling a woman? And who do you think you are, calling my wife fat?" Homer asked indignantly. "I mean, sure, she may be hitting the pastries a little too much lately, but still!" Marge smacked her forehead.
"Um, I'm Buddhist. And a vegetarian. Does that count for anything?" Lisa asked timidly.
The Deep Ones groaned in exasperation. "Mother Hydra's balls…" one of the fish-men grumbled.
"Whoa, your mom has balls?" asked an amazed Bart.
"Bart!" Marge snapped. "Don't say 'balls!'"
"Yeah, she has balls," one of the Deep Ones replied.
"And around four to six breasts," another one added. "It varies depending on her mood."
Bart and Homer's eyes widened in amazement. "Woooowwwww…." Marge sighed in exasperation, Lisa rolled her eyes, Maggie sucked, and Santa's Little Helper barked.
"Where did you come from?" the perplexed Lisa asked the family's dog. He shrugged.
"Okay, fine, we'll leave the boy and the girl alone, and do horrible things to the fat guy, the woman, the baby, and the dog. Any other complaints and/or revelations?" asked the lead Deep One.
"Yeah, Maggie's an alien. Does that mean she's exempt too?" Bart asked.
"Bart, Maggie's not an alien!" Marge hissed to her son.
"Sure she is, don't you remember that one Treehouse of Horror episode?" Bart replied.
Lisa sighed in exasperation. "Bart, you know those don't count, Halloween specials are never in continuity!"
"We have continuity?" asked a surprised Homer. Marge and Lisa gave him annoyed looks.
"Yeah, that's what I was trying to say," Bart said with a smirk. "Anyway, why are you arguing so much? If they think she's an alien, maybe they'll spare Maggie too! You know, because she'll be inhuman and all, just like them."
"Ohhh, I see," said Marge, realization dawning on her face. She looked back up at the confused Deep Ones. "Yes, yes, my youngest daughter's an alien! Nope, not human at all, nosirreebob."
Homer gasped. "What?! You had a baby with another man and never told me? How could you?!"
Marge gave him an exasperated look. "Homer, did you listen to anything we just said?"
Homer stared at her blankly. "You say what now?" Marge sighed and shook her head.
The Deep Ones frowned and glanced suspiciously at the very human-looking baby. "What kind of alien?" the leader asked.
"Uh…I dunno, something with tentacles," Bart said vaguely.
"And one eye," Lisa added.
"And lots of drool," Marge said.
The Deep Ones conferred for a moment. "One eye, tentacles, drool? That's not very helpful, there are lots of species on our side who fit that description," one of the fish-men muttered.
"And if we eat it without knowing whether or not its father serves one of the Great Old Ones, we could get in big trouble," another Deep One agreed. "We should play it safe and leave it alone."
"Right," the leader said, straightening up. "Here's what we're going to do. We'll leave the kids alone, but do horrible things to the fat guy, the woman, and…the dog."
Santa's Little Helper yelped in alarm. "Hey, you can't eat my dog!" Bart protested.
"Is it an alien, a god, or any other kind of supernatural entity?" the leader asked impatiently.
"No? Then we're taking the dog." The Deep One gestured at Marge and Homer. "Get them."
Homer sighed. "Aw man, this is going to be one of the worst ways I've ever died…including the time I died of explosive decompression, and the time stupid Flanders turned into a werewolf and mauled me, and the time I blew up the whole town, and all the times I went to Hell, and the time I froze to death, and the time I was turned inside out, and the time I fell into a black hole, and the time I fell into a gorge, and the time I got shot repeatedly, and the time I was possessed, and the time I became a giant blob, and the time that I became pasta, and the time I was chopped up by spaghetti, and the time I-"
"Homer, shut up!" Marge snapped. "Kids, run, get out of here while you still can! There's nothing you can do for us, just go, try to find someplace safe!"
"Okay," said Lisa, grabbing Maggie and racing outside with Bart.
Marge frowned. "They could have at least protested a little…"
One of the Deep Ones laughed. "Those foolish children...there's no place safe left now that the Great Old Ones have risen! All shall die!"
As if on cue, a giant stone hand abruptly burst out of the floor underneath the Deep Ones and closed shut over the startled fish-men, squeezing them until they burst into slime and fluids that splattered the walls and Marge's dress. "Woohoo, a deus ex machine!" Homer cheered.
"Oh, I'm never going to be able to get this stain out," Marge complained, looking down at her dress.
The stone hand, its fingers and palm stained with Deep One residue, reached out and snatched Marge and Homer, who screamed as the fist closed around them and…gently deposited them outside. "Huh?" said a confused Homer as the hand retracted back into the house. "What just happened?"
"Mom, Dad, you're alive!" cried an overjoyed Lisa, hugging first Marge, then Homer.
"Darn, now I'm never gonna get any inheritance," Bart complained. Maggie sucked once as Marge picked her up.
"But how did you guys survive?" Lisa asked her parents.
Homer shrugged and grunted. Abruptly, the house trembled and cracked as an immense, towering figure suddenly burst out through the roof, causing the entire structure (which had never been particularly stable to begin with) to crumble and collapse around it. The Simpsons family gaped and backed away in disbelief as the figure, an absolutely gigantic stone statue of a muscular vaguely human figure decorated in ancient Olmec inscriptions and armor, loomed over them. "Oh my," Marge gasped, flushing due to the fact that the statue had a rather large and uncovered crotch. Homer grumbled enviously.
"Hey, that guy looks familiar…" Bart commented, squinting as he looked up at the immense head of the statue high above them.
Lisa gasped. "That's Xt'tapalatakettle!" They stared at her blankly. "You know, the giant Olmec head in our basement that Mr. Burns gave us one time because Bart gave him blood to save his life?"
"Ohhh," the family said, remembering.
"Hey, didn't it summon zombies once?" Homer recalled.
"Yeah, because you ate all the food his worshippers gave him," Bart snickered. "You eat enough for TEN gods, Homer!"
"Why you little!" Homer started strangling Bart.
"Stop it, you two!" Marge commanded, pulling Homer off of Bart. "And besides, that never actually happened, it was in a Halloween comic special, making it even LESS canonical than usual!"
"We have canon?" Homer asked again. Marge sighed and shook her head.
"Simp-son family," the mighty Xt'tapalatakettle boomed, catching the family's attention. The statue knelt down so its face was closer to them. "Long have you sheltered me in your basement and provided me with a home and sustenance. As repayment for your generosity, when I sensed my old foes the Great Old Ones awakening, I put my protection over your household so that none of their minions would trouble you…until that idiot Homer opened the door and let them in!"
"D'oh!" Homer grunted.
"I told you that painting that message was a stupid way to protect the house!" Marge said triumphantly.
Homer rolled his eyes. "Geez, rub it in Marge, why don't you?"
"Now that your home has been destroyed by the minions of the Great Old Ones-" Xt'tapalatakettle started.
"Wait, you're the one who just burst out of our house!" Lisa pointed out.
Xt'tapalatakettle coughed. "Ah, BECAUSE YOUR HOME HAS BEEN DESTROYED BY THE MINIONS OF THE GREAT OLD ONES, there is little else I can do to defend you from them. However, I can give you my protection, for as long as it lasts, as you flee from this place. With any luck, you will be able to escape Springfield unmolested by the evil ones."
"In other words, we're going to be eaten before we get a block away," Bart grumbled.
"But what about you? What're you going to do?" Marge asked the towering stone god.
"Yeah, and couldn't you at least come with us? You know, so we don't get stepped on or eaten or anything," Homer suggested.
Xt'tapalatakettle shook his head. "I cannot. Now that I have fully awakened, I must do battle with the Great Old Ones, as I did in days of yore. It would not be safe for you to be nearby when I confront them, which is why you must flee. My power will safeguard you for as long as it can, but after that, you are on your own. I am sorry there is nothing else I can do for you, Simp-son family. Thanks to you, I am stronger than I have been in many millennia, more than powerful enough to fight my ancient enemies."
"Really? What'd we do to make you so strong?" asked a surprised Lisa. "I mean, we've sort of left you collecting dust in our basement for the last few years, other than the times the occasional worshipper showed up to leave some offerings, but I doubt that happened often enough to make you…well, like this."
"I am a war god, and so gain power from violence, aggression, and bloodshed…and there has certainly been more than enough of that in your household, Simp-son family," Xt'tapalatakettle informed them. They fidgeted uncomfortably at that.
"Wait, wait…then does that mean that every time Homer's strangled me for something, that made you stronger?!" Bart asked incredulously.
Xt'tapalatakettle nodded. "That is correct."
"Wow, who knew that child abuse could actually do something useful?" asked an astonished Lisa. "This has moral implications on so many levels…
Xt'tapalatakettle waved a hand over the Simpsons, causing them to feel all tingly. Homer scratched his crotch. "I have done all I can for you. Now we must part ways; I to do battle, and you to find some safe ground. If we should never meet again, I want you to know that I, Xt'tapalatakettle, will always remember you and cherish the time I spent living in your basement. Farewell, Simp-son family. May all that is good smile down on you." With that, he straightened up, turned, and stomped away, his long legs carrying him further and further from 742 Evergreen Terrace with every step.
"Huh," said Marge. "That was interesting."
"Yep," said Lisa. "Who knew the big stone head in our basement was actually a sleeping god?"
"Couldn't he have given us superpowers or something? That'd be way cooler than some lame 'protection'," complained Bart. Maggie made a sucking noise that may or may not have been agreement.
"Well, now that that's settled, let's go to Moe's. They'll have beer there…er, it'll be safe there," Homer said quickly.
"Homer, Moe's Tavern was destroyed," Marge reminded him.
Homer gasped. "What?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Oh well, guess we'll go to the Kwik-E-Mart, then."
"That was destroyed, too," said Lisa.
Homer fell to his knees. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! DAMN YOU, GREAT OLD ONES! DAMN YOOOOOOUUUUUUU!"
"On the plus side, they killed Aunt Patty and Aunt Selma," Bart commented.
Homer instantly got to his feet. "Oh, they did? Well, I guess they're not so bad after all."
"Homer!" Marge snapped.
Homer gave her a confused look. "What?"
Meanwhile, back at the nuclear power plant…
Smithers and Mr. Burns were riding in a golf cart down a long, heavily secured corridor. Flashing red lights and blaring klaxons whirled overhead, and very thick blast doors slammed shut behind them every time they crossed a particular threshold.
"The Great Old Ones and their servitors have managed to breach the plant's outer perimeter, and are working their way inwards, destroying everything—and everyone—in sight," Smithers reported to his master. "However, I've initiated the plant's self-destruct sequence, so with any luck they'll be wiped out when the reactor core reaches critical mass and detonates in…" He checked his watch. "Approximately fifteen minutes."
Burns tented his fingertips. "Excellent," he said in a slow, sinister voice.
The cart passed through the final security door and arrived at a small hangar housing Burns' escape helicopter. Smithers leaped out of the cart and hurried over to the other side to help Burns out, then rushed over to the wall and pulled a lever that caused the ceiling to open up, revealing the red skies above. "There are a number of monsters flying about in the lower stratosphere, but the helicopter's been equipped with the latest in high-tech weaponry, so we should be able to blast our way through them relatively unscathed if we encounter anything."
Burns frowned. "Why did I request weaponry to be installed in this thing again?"
"So that you could level the town if you ever needed to make a quick escape and be able to buy up the property for a dime should you ever came back?" Smithers reminded him.
Burns nodded. "Ah, yes, of course."
Smithers opened the pilot's door on the side of the helicopter and boosted his boss in. "Upsy-daisy, sir!" Smithers was about to follow suit when, much to his surprise, Burn pulled the door shut and locked it. "Wait, sir! What about me?" he cried in alarm.
"Oh, I am sorry, Smithers—my engineers seem to have neglected to provide accommodations for you!" Burns said apologetically, though he didn't sound very sorry.
"I'll gladly cling to the landing skid, sir!" Smithers begged desperately.
Burns frowned in thought. "Hmm…very well—but if your weight unbalances the craft and makes me queasy, you'll have to drop off!"
Smithers sighed in relief. "I wouldn't have it any other way, sir!"
As the helicopter rotors spun to life and the aircraft rose into the air, one Waylon Smithers clinging to the landing skid for dear life, the lackey thought to himself, I only hope we're in time…
Meanwhile, down at the waterfront…
Cthulhu stirred. "I sense…a disturbance…a presence I have not felt for many eons…" His eyes narrowed in anger and he whirled about to face the intruder, who was stomping towards them, casually crushing monsters beneath his feet and tearing apart any beast foolish enough to fly at him with his bare hands. "XT'TAPALATAKETTLE!"
The stone god grinned savagely at the tentacle-faced Great Old One. "Cthulhu…it has been too long, my old enemy. I see that the years have not improved your features one bit…"
"The same could be said of you, old 'friend'," Cthulhu snarled. "You seem a bit dustier than I recall."
"That may be true," Xt'tapalatakettle admitted, flexing his muscles. "But I am still as powerful as I ever have been…and I have come to put a stop to your invasion! This town is precious to me, and I shall not allow you or your abominable spawn to destroy it!"
Cthulhu's children did not take that insult very well. Ghatanothoa, the eldest and most hideous, hissed in rage and surged towards the insolent intruder, until a command from his father stopped him in his tracks. "Halt!" Cthulhu bellowed. "I shall fight him. He and I have an old score to settle." Reluctantly, Ghatanothoa backed off, and his sire rose out of the water to his full height and stomped up the beach onto shore, liquid dripping off his horrendous form. His tentacles flailed about spastically, as if anticipating the carnage that was about to come. The other Great Old Ones and monstrosities in the vicinity pulled back to encircle the two combatants from a distance, eager to watch the battle. They chanted and shouted and howled Cthulhu's name, screaming and wailing and stomping the earth and creating a ghoulish, cacophonous chorus in support of their leader.
Xt'tapalatakettle, unintimidated by this, just smirked and cracked his knuckles. "I've been waiting a very long time for this day…"
"As have I, my old enemy. As have I." Cthulhu threw the first punch, an enormous green fist with enough power packed behind it to vaporize a mountain with a single blow. It struck the Olmec giant on the chin and twisted his head back, stone chips breaking off and scattering to the ground. Xt'tapalatakettle, seemingly stunned by the blow, started to fall backwards…only to flip over and catch himself on his hands, swinging his legs out and knocking Cthulhu's feet out from under him, toppling him to the ground. Xt'tapalatakettle leapt upon the Old One before he could get back to his feet, grabbing him in a headlock and smashing his bulbous head against the pavement repeatedly. Cthulhu's tentacles flailed, then suddenly lashed out and wrapped themselves around Xt'tapalatakettle's face. Snarling angrily, the giant wrenched his head back in an attempt to rip the tendrils off his face, but they were too flexible, and only stretched longer the harder he pulled at him. Cthulhu took Xt'tapalatakettle's moment of distraction to slip from the giant's grip, using the total control he exerted over his own body mass to slide out of Xt'tapalatakettle's arms and shove the stone god off of him, all without letting go of his opponent's face with his tentacles. He drew back an arm to punch Xt'tapalatakettle again, but the war god sensed it coming and caught it in one hand, using the other hand to punch Cthulhu in the face and knock him backward, stretching the tentacles sucking on his face to their limit. Before the Old One could recover, Xt'tapalatakettle grabbed the tentacles and used their current tautness to rip them apart from their master's beard, causing Cthulhu to howl in pain as his severed tendrils writhed and gushed fluid that was neither blood nor ichor. The tentacles swiftly regenerated, of course, but it gave the monstrous titan pause long enough for Xt'tapalatakettle to pull the remnants of the other tentacles off his face and take a running tackle at Cthulhu, knocking him to the ground, where they immediately began to wrestle and exchange blows, much to the excitement of the monstrous spectators madly cheering and howling all around them.
However, as he fought his greatest enemy once more, Xt'tapalatakettle's thoughts were not on the squid-faced monstrosity who was currently trying to throttle him, but on the family who had sheltered him for all these years. Simp-son family…I dearly hope you can escape before it is too late. For if this fight escalates, as I am sure it will…no human can possibly survive the forces we will unleash.
The Simpson family was at that moment indeed trying to escape…and Xt'tapalatakettle was right to worry about them, because the protection he had granted them wasn't going to last much longer. Not that they knew that, anyway.
In the wake of the destruction left by their masters, a number of the Great Old Ones' servitors were prowling the ravaged streets of Springfield, sifting through the debris in search of survivors. Whenever they found a gibbering, dying, and completely mad human lying broken and bleeding among the ruins, they killed the poor soul horribly and feasted on the remains. As one Chthonian peered into the shattered window of a storefront to see if there were any humans trapped inside, it suddenly felt a sharp pain from behind and toppled over on its face. Enraged, it scrambled back onto its tentacles and whirled around to glare at the startled Chthonian behind him. "Why did you just kick me?!"
"Th-the sign on your back said too," the frightened land squid stammered.
Puzzled, the first Chthonian felt around its back with a tentacle and found, much to its surprised, that there was indeed a piece of paper taped there. It ripped the sign off and held it in front its oculars. The Chthonian wasn't very proficient in human languages, but it thought the sign said 'Kick me'. Enraged, the slimy monstrosity crumpled up the paper and glared around at all the other Chthonians, ghouls, zombies, Deep Ones, and other horrors littering the streets. "All right, which one of you lumpheads stuck this to me?!" They all glanced at each other in confusion and shrugged, having no idea what the Chthonian was talking about. The land squid glared at them suspiciously then growled in frustration and gave up on the matter. "All right, you may have gotten away with it this time…but I'm watching all of you. If I ever find out who put this on me, I'm personally going to rip out their ganglia and eat it." The monsters then went back to their prowling.
Bart Simpson, who had of course been the one to plant the sign on the squid's back, laughed. "Ha, this is great, if I had known how much fun it was to play pranks when you're invisible, I'd have done it sooner!"
"Bart, stop playing tricks on the monsters, you're only going to make them angrier if they manage to see us," Marge scolded her son.
"But Mom, they can't see me, we're invisible, remember?" Bart pointed out.
"Technically, we're not actually invisible, we just seem to be shielded from the creatures' sight thanks to whatever spell Xt'tapalatakettle cast on us," Lisa corrected. "But he said himself that he wasn't sure how long it would last, which is why we have to get out of town before it wears off and the monsters see us and tear us apart!"
"Oh, relax, I'm sure we have plenty of time," said Homer, snacking on a huge hunk of lamb he had looted from a nearby butcher. In between bits of lamb, he also shoved sausages from a long chain draped around his shoulders into his mouth, interspersed with sucking on his fingers to get the grease off them and chewing on a chunk of ham he was holding in the crook of his other arm. A large sack full of other foodstuffs and goodies (including a plasma television, of all things) that Homer had stolen from other shops they had passed by in the process of fleeing from town was strapped to the back of the unfortunate Santa's Little Helper, whom Homer had designated their packmule, since he was too lazy to carry anything himself and claimed he had a 'bad back'.
"Homer, why did you take all those things from those stores anyway?" a frustrated Marge asked Homer.
"Well, it'ph not like anyone elff if going to be uffing them anytime foon," Homer pointed out, speaking with his mouth full and disgusting his family. "So I—er, we—might as well take them."
"Then why didn't we take that Ferrari we saw in that one car dealership so we could get out of here faster instead of just walking all over the place?!" Bart complained.
Homer laughed and patted his son's head, covering his hair with grease. "Silly Bart, you can't eat a car! That and I couldn't find the keys, and while I know you can hot-wire a vehicle, I can't trust you to drive one. Not after what happened the last time." As Bart gave him a disgusted look, Homer ripped off chunks of ham and lamb in a single bite. "Mmm, farmyard processed meat products," he drooled.
Lisa sighed in exasperation. "None of you are taking this seriously! There's no telling how long Xt'tapalatakettle's spell will last! That's why we have to keep going, NOW, before it wears off!"
As if on cue, the spell wore off, and all the monsters noticed the Simpson family. "Hey, look! Fresh meat! Let's kill them and drink their blood!" a Miri Nigri shouted. The countless horrors uttered a loud yell of joy and rushed towards the horrified Simpsons.
"Whuh-oh," said an alarmed Homer. "You don't suppose they'll let us go if we give them the dog, do you?"
"Lisa's Buddhist! Bart sold his soul to the Devil! Maggie's an alien! Homer's soulless!" Marge shouted desperately, hoping to buy some measure of freedom for her family.
The monsters paused momentarily to consider that. Then a ghoul yelled, "We're too hungry to care!"
"YEAH!" the other monsters chorused, and they resumed their charge towards the Simpsons. Terrified, the family clung to each other, while Santa's Little Helper ran away but only got a few feet before getting caught and torn to bloody pieces by the monsters, and Homer shoved what was left of the ham and lamb down his throat to try and finish them both before he died, which naturally only led to him choking himself because they couldn't possibly both fit down his esophagus, and Bart and Lisa screamed, and Maggie got a determined look on her face and raised her hands into the air, sucking extra-rapidly on her pacifier…
And suddenly there was a blinding flash of light as dozens of energy bolts rained down from the heavens all around the Simpsons, smiting the beasts where they stood. The horrors shrieked in fright and tried to scatter, but the beams kept blasting down in an endless bombardment, blowing them to smithereens and reducing the majority of the monsters to dust or burning skeletons. (Those that had skeletons, anyway.) The few abominations that managed to escape the attack from above just ran and ran, and didn't look back.
"Woohoo! Another deus ex machine!" Homer cheered after Marge performed the Heimlich maneuver on him.
"Okay, this is starting to get repetitive. Who saved us this time?" Bart wondered.
"Who cares? We're all still alive!" Marge said ecstatically. Clasping her hands in gratitude, she looked up to the skies. "Whoever you are, thank you for saving our family!" Much to her surprise, she got a response. A wide beam of soft light shone down from beyond the swirling red clouds of doom covering Springfield, illuminating the Simpsons family with its otherworldly radiance. They looked up at the light in wonder. "Oh my…" Marge whispered.
"Wow…what is that? A rescue helicopter?" Bart asked, squinting against the beam.
"Don't be silly, Bart, helicopter spotlights are much brighter and more blinding!" Lisa commented, also squinting against the light. "But this almost seems…familiar…"
"Mmm…Shiny…" Homer drooled.
Maggie squirmed about in Marge's arms and wordlessly stretched her little hands upwards, reaching out towards the light. She made a single sucking sound.
Suddenly, the Simpsons' feet left the ground, and the small nuclear (radioactive) family of five began to slowly rise upward. "Whoa! What the heck's going on!?" Bart cried.
"We're defying the laws of gravity!" Lisa protested.
Marge gasped. "Oh! This must be the Rapture…it all fits, the world is ending and the faithful will be raised up to Heaven! Except…er…" She glanced doubtfully at her family, who were pretty much as far from faithful as a group could get. "Why were we taken while everyone else, especially the Flanderses, died?"
"Because we rock! Duh, Mom," Bart said, rolling his eyes as if it were obvious. "Though they'll probably just kick me out, seeing as how I sold my soul to Satan and all…and I'm not exactly a saint or anything."
Lisa sighed. "Me too…I'm not sure they'd let Buddhists into Christian Heaven…"
Homer laughed. "Oh, don't be ridiculous, it's not the Rapture, that already happened, remember? It's probably just God saving us…the big guy owes me a favor or two, after all. We go way back."
Marge rolled her eyes. "Or so you keep telling us…"
A goofy smile on his face, Homer leaned back (against nothing?) and put his arms behind his head. "This is gonna be great! Me and my family will all get to relax in Heaven, and eat all we want, and watch all the free TV we want, and spend time with all the sexy babes we want…"
"Homer!" Marge snapped.
"I was talking about you, honey," Homer said quickly.
"Oh. All right, then," Marge said, somewhat mollified.
"And there'll be beer," Homer continued, drooling all over himself. "Endless fountains of beer…and donuts…and angel wings…mmm, angel wings…"
"Uh, don't you mean buffalo wings?" asked a troubled Lisa.
"Huh? Oh yeah, those too," Homer admitted.
Maggie shook her head and rolled her eyes with an annoyed suck on her pacifier. They really thought they were going to Heaven? Oh well, they'd learn the truth soon enough.
And so the Simpsons family, lifted by the gravity-defying beam, were raised up above the clouds and out of sight to those down below.
And speaking of those below, Xt'tapalatakettle and Cthulhu were still fighting. The old enemies had exchanged quite a few blows by this point, and wounded each other, not like those injuries really lasted or meant anything, of course. The two giants circled each other warily as more and more horrors joined the ring around them to watch the fight, cheering and hooting and screaming for blood. Without warning, the titans suddenly lunged towards each other, locking hands and beginning to grapple, pushing against each other with all their might.
"Why do you fight so hard to defend these humans? They are not worth the energy you waste protecting them! They are beneath cosmic beings such as us, just as a dust mite is beneath an elephant's notice, insignificant and utterly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things!" Cthulhu sneered as he pressed against Xt'tapalatakettle.
"If that were the case, then why do you and your ilk go to such trouble destroying them or seducing them to worship you or tricking them into releasing you from your long imprisonments?" Xt'tapalatakettle countered as he pushed back against Chtulhu. "Why do the Great Old Ones seek to destroy all that which is ephemeral and inferior, if it truly doesn't matter whether those living things continue to exist or die? If mortal creatures are truly so insignificant, then why do so many serve your kind, why do you have so many monsters and horrors with limited lifespans groveling before you and killing and sacrificing in your names? Even the 'immortal' beings among your servitors are capable of death, and are in that sense just like all other living things in this universe save for beings such as ourselves! We divine creatures need them just as much as they need us, if not more so…their faith in the gods is our source of strength and sustenance, their belief what allows us higher-dimensional creatures to even exist! And even if that were not reason enough to protect them…they have value and promise of their own, and it is nothing short of an unforgivable atrocity to destroy that potential before it has time to fully develop! By annihilating them, you only risk your own destruction, for who will awaken you or release you the next time the stars are right if all who would have served you are already dead by your hands?"
Cthulhu laughed, his tentacles flailing as he exerted more power. "Who are you to speak of promise and potential? You are a god of war! You demanded blood and death and souls from your own worshippers in days long past! Since when did you care so much about the humans and mortals who served you?"
"Being an inanimate stone head without worshippers for thousands of years leaves a god with a lot of time to think about what really matters," Xt'tapalatakettle told Cthulhu, standing steady as a mountain against the Old One's might. "Perhaps you should try it some time, rather than sulking in the dark and transmitting nightmares from your dank crypt in R'lyeh and bending minds to your will!"
"Even if mortals do play a larger role in the cosmos, which they do not," argued Cthulhu as he exerted more force and actually caused the stone giant to take a step back to brace himself. "What promise and potential could you possibly see in the people of this town of Springfield? It is one of the worst towns in all the worlds, chock-full of all the vices for which humanity is infamous of throughout the universe! They drown in their own sins, glide on their own excrescences! There is nothing about them worth saving, nothing that shows they deserve to continue blighting existence!"
"You are wrong," Xt'tapalatakettle declared "They may be full of sin…but even the most foul, corrupt, or just plain incompetent of the people of Springfield have shown occasional glimmers of nobility and compassion…and it is for those glimmers that I fight, because I know that as long as they live, THEY CAN DO BETTER!" With that, he pushed back at Cthulhu with such force that the ancient squid was almost toppled over, if he had not increased his density and widened his feet to maintain his balance.
"You actually believe that, don't you?" Cthulhu asked incredulously. He couldn't stop himself from laughing, even as he found himself losing ground. "You truly have lost it if you believe such drivel! All those millennia as a stone head must have driven you madder than we! But do not fret, old friend…you shall see the error of your ways, once I extinguish all life on this world!" His body crackling with supernatural might, the tentacles on his face suddenly elongated and twisted together to form a flexible, stretchable 'third arm' which darted forward, stabbing two sharpened tentacle-tips into Xt'tapalatakettle's eyes. The giant cried in pain and let go of Cthulhu's claws, staggering backward with one hand clutched over his bleeding, already healing eyes. "You cannot defeat us!" Cthulhu cried as he began gathering eldritch power for a mighty spell of destruction. "After all, as it says in the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred's Necronomicon, 'That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die!'" He fired a green beam of raw chaotic magic from his claws at Xt'tapalatakettle.
The ancient war god, his eyes done healing, immediately countered with a spell of his own, firing a brilliant blue and white bolt of power from his palms which collided with Cthulhu's beam. "You are not the only one who can quote scripture. Here's a little something from the beginning of the Book of Life: 'Those who have come here to hate should leave now, for in their hatred they only betray themselves!'" With a roar, he released more power, causing his beam to push Cthulhu's back a great deal, until the high priest of the Great Old Ones also added more power, causing the beams to stalemate and struggle futilely against each other, getting stronger and building up more and more energy with every second that passed.
Speaking of those who hated, Mr. Burns had managed to fly his helicopter out of Springfield without having to expend too much ammunition on the other aerial monsters sharing the skies with him. He also blew up a commercial airplane, just for fun. He glanced down at a digital clock on the control panel, dutifully ticking down the remaining time before his nuclear power plant exploded and took the town with it. There were only thirty seconds left on the clock. "And so," he mused. "I am become death, destroyer of worlds."
"I thought that was the Great Old Ones," Smithers, who was still clinging to the landing skid, said in puzzlement. (Don't ask how he could hear his boss from outside the cockpit while the rotors were droning above him, it's not worth wondering about.)
"I was quoting Oppenheimer, you twit," Burns said in exasperation.
"Oh. Sorry." Mr. Burns might have said something else, but Smithers couldn't hear it because right then, the power plant exploded and the whole world went white. The explosion was tremendous, and a huge mushroom cloud towered up into the sky…and got even bigger when the unleashed nuclear fission blast collided with the clashing power of Cthulhu and Xt'tapalatakettle's energy beams, resulting in an even BIGGER explosion which not only wiped out Springfield, but destroyed the hated rival town of Shelbyville nearby, the entire state Springfield was located in, and the four states bordering it: Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky. The explosion, and the crater it left behind, could be seen from orbit, and left a gruesome scar on the face of the planet.
Unfortunately, it did not destroy the Great Old Ones. They were made of a different kind of matter than we mortals, and so reconstituted immediately after being blown up by the mega-nuclear blast. However, they found, much to their distaste, that the majority of their minions had been wiped out by the explosion, and Xt'tapalatakettle had vanished without a trace. Shrugging it off, and promising himself that he would find and destroy his old rival once and for all someday soon, Cthulhu ordered everyone to fall back to R'lyeh, so they could build up their forces once more…then they would swarm out across the rest of the planet and extinguish all life in this corner of the galaxy. It was inevitable. Now that they were free from their imprisonment and slumber, there was nothing that could stop them, nothing at all.
"Welp, there goes Springfield," Homer said with a shrug, wiping his hands.
"Until next week, anyway," Bart said nonchalantly.
Lisa sighed in exasperation. "Will you stop saying that?!"
"What? It will be," Bart insisted.
"Stop fighting, you two," Marge said automatically. She glanced uneasily around the room they were in; a large metal chamber with lots of flashing lights and high-tech equipment of unknown function, with fluorescent lighting tubes in the ceiling and big bay windows lining the curvilinear walls that gave the family a magnificent view of the Earth and the stars surrounding it. "Homie, I'm starting to think we're not in Heaven…"
"Huh? Hmm, you're right," Homer admitted. "I don't remember there being this much metal last time I was there…and the view was better, like that one time I went into space. This reminds me more of…" He snapped his fat fingers. "That time we got abducted by aliens!"
Lisa gasped. "Oh no! Aliens?! Then that must mean…"
"That is correct, Earthlings!" a deep, masculine voice boomed. A nearby metal door in the wall slid upwards, and a pair of very familiar green tentacled aliens with big heads, one eye each, and wearing space helmets while constantly drooling slithered into the room. "We meet again! I am Kang, and this is my sister Kodos!"
"Hi," Kodos said, waving a tentacle. Her voice sounded just as masculine as Kang's, but a little higher in pitch.
"And we have come from Rigel VII to your world, once again, to-" Kang started.
"Conquer the planet?" Bart guessed, looking bored.
"Film a crazy reality show?" suggested Homer.
"Probe us?" Marge asked nervously.
"Feed us exquisite cuisine and take us to your planet to give us paradise?" Lisa asked anxiously, hoping this was the case though knowing it probably wasn't.
"No!" Kang barked. "We have come…to rescue my child!"
The Simpsons gasped in astonishment. Maggie pulled the pacifier out of her mouth, sprouted a fang and tentacles, and squirmed out of a horrified Marge's arms, landing on the floor and extending her hands towards Kang. "Dada!" Her voice was disturbingly deep and masculine, much like Kang's.
"Oh no, not this again," Bart complained.
"Marge, you had a child with another man, er, alien?! I don't even know you!" Homer cried.
"But-but that's impossible! That was just one Halloween thing! And I don't even remember doing anything with-" Marge started.
Kang laughed. "Of course you wouldn't, foolish Earth-woman!"
"Yes, that's what neuralizers are for," Kodos agreed.
"I abducted you years ago while you were doing your human laundry, implanted my sperm in your body with my insemination ray, then wiped your memory and returned you to your home with no idea of what had transgressed between us…until I inevitably came to retrieve my fully-matured hybrid daughter and destroy your planet! Mwahahahahahaha!" Kang extended a tentacle and pulled Maggie closer to him, ignoring Marge's stammered protests. The half-alien baby giggled and nibbled on her father's tentacle. "Aww, look Kodos, she's already biting me. Isn't that adorable?"
"Yes, it reminds me of how we used to nibble on our matriarch's tentacle when we were just formless spawn," Kodos agreed, a fond look in her…eye.
"Oh, Maggie…" Marge whispered, shoulders sagging in despair at her baby daughter's clear abandonment of her.
"There, there, we'll make another," Homer said, patting her on the shoulder.
"My sister's an alien? Cool! Would have thought it'd be you, though," Bart admitted, glancing at Lisa.
Lisa frowned. "Wait…you said you were going to come back when Maggie was fully matured! But then why are you here now?"
"Our sensors indicated that the hated Great Old Ones had awakened and traveled to your world," Kodos explained as Kang cooed and played with Maggie and shook a high-tech rattle for her in one tentacle. "So we traveled at once to your planet to rescue my niece before she could be devoured by those cosmic abominations!"
"Well—I—thank you…I think," Marge said, looking rather flustered.
"Wait, you guys are against the Great Old Ones?" asked a confused Homer. "I'd have thought you'd be working with them."
"Yeah, seeing as you guys are green, slimy, smelly, tentacled, aliens, drool a lot, have one big eye, try to destroy the world…" Bart listed.
"Bart!" Marge snapped.
"What? It's true," Bart complained.
"It's probably not the best idea to insult the nice people who rescued us," Lisa hissed to her brother under her breath.
Bart blinked. "Oh, right."
"Actually, he's right," Kang said, glancing up from Maggie. "Well, except for the smelly part, anyway. Our people did worship the Great Old Ones eons ago…but then we converted."
"Why?" asked Lisa.
"It seemed logical, really," Kang said in a many-tentacled shrug. "It just didn't make a lot of sense to worship violent and unpredictable deities who were as likely to kill you as bless you and whose main reward for many years of serving them was eating you first. Or last, depending on the Great Old One. So, we switched religions. For instance, I'm a Quantum Presbyterian."
"And I'm Jewish," Kodos added.
"Ah," said Lisa. "Well, I converted to Buddhism, so I guess I can understand."
"What are you going to do with us now that you have Maggie?" Marge asked anxiously.
"Anal probe?" Homer asked hopefully. Everyone gave him a disgusted look. "Er, not that I enjoy them or anything…"
"We were considering eating you, to be honest," Kang admitted, causing the family to tense. "But…Kodos suggested we keep you as nanny-slaves to take care of Maggie, seeing as how you have had more time and experience with her than we have."
"It would be cheaper than hiring our own nannies," Kodos commented. She paused, glancing at Homer's rather large gut. "I think…and besides, we can always eat you after they become obsolete."
"I don't suppose we get a choice in the matter," Lisa said uncomfortably.
"Of course you do!" Kang said cheerfully. "You can be Maggie's nanny-slaves, be our dinner, or get shoved out an airlock. It's completely up to you!"
"We'll take care of Maggie!" Lisa and Marge both said frantically.
"What?! Hell no! I'm not going to be a nanny, that's a girl's job!" Bart protested.
"You'll be your alien half-sister's nanny and like it, young man! I'd rather my special little guy live as a servant than be someone else's dinner!" Marge said sternly to Bart, who sighed and reluctantly gave in.
"Me too!" said Homer. "As long as we get free room and board, all the food we can eat, vacation days, lunch hours, reasonable wages, health and dental insurance, a pension, and all the other sorts of benefits available to working-class stiffs like us."
Kang and Kodos grinned sinisterly. "Of course," said Kang. "You will have your 'benefits'…"
"More than you could possibly imagine!" Kodos added evilly. They then began laughing hysterically for several minutes. Maggie joined in after a moment.
"Good," Homer said, crossing his arms and looking pleased with himself. Marge frowned uncertainly.
"What's so funny?" asked a confused Lisa. Bart shrugged.
"So, now that we're all alive, you have your kid back, and we've worked out a steady employment plan, let's have a beer to celebrate!" Homer suggested.
Kang and Kodos stared at Homer blankly. "Beer?" asked a puzzled Kodos.
"What is this…'beer' you speak of?" Kang asked.
It is said that in space, no one can hear you scream. Homer Simpson proved that false with a "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" that could be heard from the other side of the galaxy.
Somewhere, out in the cosmos, Xt'tapalatakettle smacked his forehead and wondered if maybe he had put his faith in the wrong family.
"Hahahaha…ahahahaha…ahahaha! That's right! Run! Run, you worthless humans! Flee before our might!" a somewhat feminine young man in black with medium-length silver hair standing atop a building in Radiant Garden laughed cruelly as his minions, a bunch of sword-wielding goons in black cloaks, attacked the populace. He slashed his double-bladed katana 'Souba' through the air. "You cannot defeat the Sons of Sephiroth!"
"Soon enough, we will have what we seek…they cannot stop us," said a long-haired slightly shorter young man standing next to the first one, wearing…a pretty pink frilly dress? He was leaning a long gun called 'Velvet Nightmare' against his shoulder.
"Yes," a third young man, taller than the other two with very short silver hair and a pile bunker called 'Dual Hound' said, a wistful, eager smile on his face. "And then…and then we'll have Mother…" He started crying.
The medium-haired man with the sword rolled his eyes, while the long-haired man in the dress comforted his compatriot. "There, there, Loz…don't cry! We'll have Mother back soon enough! And then we'll reunite with Big Brother and be a family again!"
"I know," sobbed Loz. "I just…I just miss them so much!" Bawling pathetically, he hugged his brother, who patted him on the back while their third sibling gagged and tried not to throw up.
"Whatever…I think I'm going to go kill something," the less emotional man grumbled.
"Not so fast!"
The young man whirled around and saw that a group of seven warriors, six of which were wearing form-fitting colored spandex outfits of varying designs, had entered the plaza below and were confronting the minions, allowing the townspeople to escape. He had no eyes for the six; however, all his attention was focused on the seventh, a spiky-haired blonde with a sword almost as long as his body who was glaring hatefully at him. "Kadaj…" the blonde snarled.
The young man named Kadaj smiled and gave the blonde an equally hateful look in return. "Look, brothers…it's our old friend Cloud! And he's brought some toys for us to play with!"
"Oh boy, toys!" Loz cried, looking up with a joyous expression on his face. "I love to play with toys! Are they clowns? They're all so colorful and pretty…"
"Well, I can't speak for the others, but I'm pretty sure I'm not a clown," Yuffie, the Green Ranger, quipped. Her friends glared at her. "What?"
"We're not clowns, or toys," Leon, the Red Ranger (who was no longer as big a jerk as he used to be, thanks to Shere Khan (literally) beating some sense into him) announced. "We're…" He slashed his Gunblade through the air and struck a pose. "Blazing Lion Ranger!" Red flame in the form of a roaring lion exploded behind him.
Cid twirled his lance in his hands and struck a pose. "Blue Drive Ranger!" Blue smoke and pyrotechnics exploded behind him, and then the pilot groaned and rubbed his thighs. "Ugh, this stuff always rides up in the wrong places…"
Tifa stomped on the ground hard, causing it to crack, and struck a pose. "Yellow Force Ranger!" Yellow smoke and pyrotechnics exploded behind her.
Yuffie twirled her giant shuriken around her and struck a pose. "Green Ninja Ranger!" Green smoke and pyrotechnics exploded behind her. "This is gonna be soooo cool!"
Stitch cackled insanely and fired his plasma blasters into the air repeatedly. The bullets fell back towards him and crashed into the ground, causing explosions to erupt around him as he struck a pose. "Magna Ranger 626!"
Aerith slashed through the air with her scythe and spread her wings dramatically, bats and dark energy streaming from her body. "Black Vampire Ranger!" Black smoke and pyrotechnics exploded behind her.
"And together, we're…POWER RANGERS, RADIANT FORCE!" The Rangers struck a group pose as plumes of smoke in all six of their colors erupted behind them, followed by several dozen explosions and flashes of light.
Cloud, the minions, Kadaj, and Yazoo stared blankly. Loz clapped his hands giddily. "Hooray for the clowns!" he cheered.
"These are the local heroes?" Kadaj sneered. "I'm not impressed. I don't see why Cloud hangs out with losers like them."
"Actually, I don't," Cloud muttered under his breath. "Why do you think I'm always staying far away from here?"
"I thought that was because you were always hunting Sephiroth," said a confused Yuffie.
Cloud's eyes darted about shiftily. "Er. Right. Sephiroth." Tifa's eye twitched under her helmet.
"You're one to talk," Cid snorted. "Two of you look like girls, one of you's clearly got the mind of a retarded three-year old, and one of you…why the hell are you wearing a dress?!"
Yazoo looked down at his dress. "You don't think it makes you look pretty?"
Cid paused. "Well, it does suit you…I guess…as disturbing as that may be."
"Yes, it goes very well with your hair," Aerith complimented Yazoo, causing him to smile and nod back at her.
"Thanks, and you really make that black demonic suit yours. I would've thought pink would be more your color, but you look great in black!" Yazoo replied.
"Yousa can say that again!" Stitch said, wolf-whistling.
Aerith flushed under her helmet. "Thank you...I think."
"Enough chatter," Leon grunted. "Cloud, who the heck are these guys?"
"They call themselves the Sons of Sephiroth…which, technically, they are. They're clones Sephiroth made of himself that he intended to possess from beyond in the event of his death, so that he could use them to bring forth his resurrection," Cloud explained.
"Wait, doesn't Sephiroth resurrect himself anyway, every time you kill him?" asked a confused Yuffie.
"…Well, he didn't know that was going to happen when he cloned those three in the first place," Cloud grunted. "When he realized he could come back on his own whenever he wanted, and also realized that his clones were pretty much incompetent idiots, he abandoned them and continued his vendetta with me."
"Pretty smart of the guy, seeing as how he knows the real reason he always comes back is because you WON'T STOP CHASING HIM," Tifa said loudly. "Heaven knows that kind of obsession's strong enough to bring just about anyone back from the dead, and is also a convenient excuse for a LACK OF COMMITMENT and an INABILITY TO SETTLE DOWN."
Cloud looked uncomfortable. "Tifa…"
"Forget it, Cloud, I'm over you," Tifa said, looking away. The swordsman looked rather unsettled and, oddly, disappointed to hear that. She didn't really care.
"Wow, this is more dramatic and heartfelt than the season finale of Gray's Anatomy," said an enthralled Yazoo.
"I want popcorn," whined Loz.
Kadaj laughed. "I thought you guys were supposed to be superheroes, not soap opera stars!" Stitch screamed a foul untranslatable curse and nearly leaped forward to eviscerate the Sephiroth clone, but was (un)fortunately restrained by Aerith.
"Anyway," Cloud continued. "They decided they'd prove themselves worthy of Sephiroth's attention by doing things that would make him happy; namely killing me or reviving their mother, Jenova, the alien monster whose cells make up most of their bodies and give them their powers."
"So what the heck are they doing here?" Cid asked.
"Jenova was found and experimented on years ago by a very evil scientist, who used its cells to create Sephiroth," Cloud explained. "But Ansem the Wise found out about it and locked her away in a secret laboratory beneath the castle. For some reason Sephiroth doesn't know she's there, but these three found out, and came here to try and free her. I chased them here to try and stop them…"
"And ran into us," Leon finished. "Well, good. Now that we're all up to speed on what's going on, I see no reason not to wipe the floor with those three. As clones, they're not as strong as the real thing, right?"
"Much weaker," Cloud agreed. "But they're still pretty tough."
"We'll see how tough they are when I ram my spear up their-" Cid started.
"Cid, language!" Aerith scolded.
Cid glowered at her. "I liked you better when you were an evil sexy demoness."
"Me too," Yuffie admitted. "Though she's kind of cool this way, too."
"Eh," Stitch grunted noncommittally.
Kadaj laughed dismissively. "Ha, you clowns aren't worth dirtying our hands on. We'll let our little friends deal with you, that should provide us with some entertainment!" He pointed at Cloud and the Rangers. "Go get them!" he shouted to the black-cloaked goons below. The minions moaned and started advancing on the Rangers (and Cloud), chanting nonsense phrases.
"Eat at Joe's…"
"Ha, is that all they've got?" Yuffie said scornfully. "This should be easy!"
"Ih, like pie!" Stitch agreed.
They were right. It was. It only took a few Gunblade shots and flaming slashes from Leon, jumping lance impacts and impalings and sticks of dynamite from Cid, punishing martial arts moves from Tifa, shuriken strikes and katana slices and kunai throws from Yuffie, plasma shots and slashes from Stitch, scythe swipes and bats and dark energy blasts from Aerith, and multi-sword strikes from Cloud to defeat all of the goons and cause them to evaporate into particles which were blown away by the wind. The Sephiroth clones were stunned. "What?!" cried an incredulous Kadaj.
"Hmm, they're tougher than we thought," Yazoo admitted.
"Waaaahhhhh! All my friends are gone!" Loz sobbed.
"Hmmph. Pathetic," Leon said scornfully, swiping his Gunblade through the air.
"The Heartless put up a tougher fight than those things," Cloud agreed.
"I was hoping for a bigger challenge…how disappointing!" Tifa taunted.
"Well, what do you expect? They're generic minions, no better than fodder, those always go down easily," Yuffie pointed out. "They're disposable that way."
"Oh my…I hope we didn't hurt them too badly," Aerith said anxiously, earning her glances from the others.
Stitch declined to comment, since he was chewing on the leg of a clone he had managed to dismember before it could disintegrate.
Kadaj regained his composure. "Okay, so you may be stronger than we thought…no big deal. Why don't you try on a REAL monster for size!" He snapped his fingers.
A large shadow covered the Rangers (and Cloud), and they looked up to see something absolutely immense plummeting towards them. They cried out and scrambled out of the way just before the thing hit the ground, shaking the town and cracking the pavement. "BLAAAAAARGH!" belched the monster, a grotesque, morbidly obese, incredibly corpulent mass of greenish-gray flesh which sagged underneath its own weight and spread out around it. It had several stubby, flailing arm-like appendages with fat fingers constantly grasping at the air, oozing pustules growing and bursting out of its skin, a hideous face with a gaping toothless mouth that took up most of its head, squeezing its small, piggy eyes into the scraggly blonde growth covering the top of its scalp. Its tendril-like tongue slithered out of the immense hole that was the monster's mouth and licked at the air, a rather disturbing and familiar-looking male organ swelling from the end of it.
"Oh, GROSS!" Yuffie cried, nearly throwing up. Stitch did the same, without the 'nearly'.
"Oh my!" gasped Aerith.
"That has to be one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen," said an appalled Tifa.
"Holy fuck, is that thing on its tongue what I think it is?!" cried an incredulous Cid. "That's just wrong!"
"Cloud, what is that thing?!" Leon demanded.
"I have no idea," said Cloud, eyes wide. "But if I can hazard a guess, it's something they've injected Jenova cells into to create a monster!"
"He's right, Leon," Tron said over the Rangers' commlink. "I'm detecting unknown DNA in that monster's body…but what's really frightening is the DNA that is known! It's a match to one of the criminals in the town's police database, one you should find very familiar: the mafia boss, pedophile, and sexual offender known as Don Corneo, who went missing from prison a few weeks ago!"
The Rangers gasped. "Don Corneo?!" Aerith cried.
"No...not him…" a horrified Yuffie whispered, shivering and backing away. "D-don't let him near me!"
"BLAAAAGGGHHH!" the monster drooled, heaving in her direction. "I WANTS TO RAPE LITTLE GURLZ! COME TO ME!" Yuffie shrieked and shielded herself with her shuriken.
"Don't worry, Yuffie," Tifa snarled, stepping in front of the traumatized ninja. "We won't let him get anywhere near you ever again…and I'm going to break his balls for good this time!"
Cid nodded in agreement. "This guy's had it coming for a long time…he's one of the few people who I don't mind getting seen turned into a monster, especially after what he nearly did to Yuffie!"
"Yessss…" Aerith snarled, the eyes on her helmet glowing red as an enraged dark aura pulsated around her. "He shall ssssuffer…I will sssend hisss evil sssoul to the Netherworld, where it belongsss!"
"Death to the googaclasta!" Stitch roared savagely.
"I don't understand…you know this guy?" a confused Cloud asked Leon.
Leon nodded, his hands clutching his Gunblade in a white-knuckled grip. "Yeah…Don Corneo's been causing problems in town for a long time. He had a criminal organization with a finger in everyone's pie; protection rackets, murders, and an underground pedophilism and sex slavery ring. Yuffie, thinking she could take him down all by herself, allowed herself to get captured so that she could get close to Corneo…and she got too close. If we hadn't managed to track her down and save her in time…" He closed his eyes under his helmet. "It's amazing that she managed to bounce back the way she did, after what almost happened. But I guess that's Yuffie for you…it's hard to keep her down for long. Even so, that time…was almost too close. Ever since that day, we've never let Yuffie go off on her own…and, amazing as it may sound, she's allowed it. Only snuck off by herself a few times. That just goes to show you how deeply Corneo shook her." He growled angrily. "And now he's back, and more a monster than ever before…we should have killed him when we had the chance."
Cloud was stunned. "…When did this happen?!"
"When you weren't here," Leon replied coldly. "But then again, when have you been?" Cloud flinched and looked away.
"Ah, so you're familiar with our friend here?" Kadaj said with a smirk. "Well, I think you'll find the new Jenova-enhanced version of him to be even worse than the original! His morbid obesity has been bulked up to make him nearly invincible by absorbing the impact of any attack which makes contact with his body and dispersing it harmlessly throughout his voluminous mass! Now, he is Don Corneole!"
There was a long pause. "Stupid name!" Stitch shouted finally.
"It's better than what Loz came up with," Yazoo said.
"Hey! I think Don Don leDonDon's a perfectly good name for him!" Loz said with a sulk, as everyone else stared at him incredulously and the monster in question drooled and defecated all over itself.
"Riiiight," Kadaj said slowly. "Anyway…Don Whatever, kill them! And fuck them too, if you want."
"GRAAAAHHH! GET IN MAH BELLAH!" the Don monster roared, splattering mucus and other unmentionables everywhere as it…rolled towards the disgusted Rangers (and Cloud) on folds of its own flabby flesh.
Yuffie shrieked and backed away, trembling as she fought the instinct to break away from the group and run away. The other Rangers instinctively closed ranks around her to keep her away from the monster. "You're not getting anywhere near her ever again!" Leon snarled, squeezing the trigger on his Gunblade and causing it to make revving noises, the length of the sword bursting into flame. "Renzokuken: Lion Heart!" He clutched his sword tightly as energy spiraled into it from all around and caused the fire on the blade to blaze into a veritable inferno. Shouting in fury, he ran towards the Don and struck the monster with an upward chop, flinging the beast into the air. He leaped up after it, fire trailing from his body, and lashed out seventeen times with his Gunblade, each strike hitting the monstrosity with greater and greater strength and causing the Don's voluminous form to jiggle like a mass of moldy jelly. Leon paused for a moment, drawing back his blade and charging incredible energy into the weapon for one last blow…before dashing through the air towards the Don, slashing through him as he flew past. There was a tremendous explosion, and the grotesque beast howled, presumably in pain. "GARGHARGHARGHARGHARGH!" it wailed as it fell, smoking, back to the ground, shaking the earth and cracking the pavement (more) as it landed on its head and was enveloped in its own body mass.
"Let that be the end of you," Leon snarled, landing gracefully and turning his back to the monster.
"Ooohhh," said the other Rangers.
Loz applauded. Kadaj hit him. "Ow! Why'd you do that?!" He sniffed and started tearing up. "You-you meany!"
"Oh, shut up," Kadaj growled. "Don't think it's over! Your attack barely even scratched the Don!" These words were proven true when, with a mighty fart, the Don managed to wrench his head out of the ground and rear back up in all his ungodly horror, vomiting indignation and defiance to the winds.
"What?!" Aerith gasped.
"Gabba?!" cried Stitch.
"That's impossible, I hit it with a full-on Lion Heart!" Leon protested, eyes widening in disbelief.
"Must not have hit him hard enough," Cloud commented.
"Typical. Never let a man do a woman's job!" Tifa said, brandishing her knuckles. "I'm going to make sure you never molest or hurt another woman of any age ever again!" She charged towards the Don, who drooled lecherously, up until she pummeled his face with a powerful right-left punching combo. "Beat Rush!" She stepped back and delivered a somersault kick to his chin. "Somersault!" She then hit him with a kick to the chest that had the force of a tidal wave behind it. "Water Kick!" Using her phenomenal strength, she grabbed the Don by his flabby flesh and lifted him into the air. "Meteodrive!" She slammed him back to the ground with a powerful backdrop that shook the town. "Dolphin Blow!" She hit the Don's chin with a dolphin-like uppercut that launched him into the air, wailing and slobbering. Tifa leaped up into the air after him. "Meteor Strike!" Grabbing the monster, she spun him above her before hurling him back down to the ground with the force of a meteor, shaking the town…more. The Don belched and tried to wriggle out of the crater he had been planted in, only to find Tifa's glowing knuckle shooting towards his face. "FINAL HEAVEN!"
An explosion like a miniature nuclear blast engulfed Don Corneo and lit up the area for miles around. Tifa, her suit completely undamaged by the explosion, leapt out of the flames and landed stylishly before the rest of the team. "And that's how you kill a pervert!" she declared. Stitch and Cid applauded. Yuffie cheered ecstatically. Tifa smirked, and then rapidly wiped her hands on her suit's legs. "Ew, I touched that thing with my bare hands!"
"Actually, you were wearing gloves," Aerith pointed out.
"Oh, yeah," Tifa realized. "Well, I'll have to burn them later, then."
"Oooh, pretty fire…" Loz drooled.
"Not now, Loz, you can light something on fire later," Yazoo told his brother soothingly.
Kadaj smirked. "Ha! Not bad, girly, but is that all you got? Behold!"
The smoke from Tifa's final attack cleared, revealing…the Don was still completely undamaged! "THAT TURNED ME ONZ! GIMME MORE!!" he howled, laughing and causing the many folds of his body to jiggle disgustingly.
Yuffie shrieked and looked away as Tifa gawked. "What?! No way! That should have at least put a dent in him!"
"If Tifa can't hurt this thing…man, we're really fucked," grumbled Cid. "Unless…my newest invention can save us!" He posed stylishly, or at least what he thought would be stylish. "Airship Zord, c'mon down and cream this guy!" Cid's favorite Zord, the blue airship called Highwind, appeared from out of nowhere and unleashed a salvo of eighteen missiles which all rocketed towards the Don. "I suggest we get the hell out of the way before those things hit, boys and girls!" Cid yelled, running in the opposite direction. The other Rangers (and Cloud) were quick to follow him, just as the missiles impacted the Don and exploded with a blast rivaling that of Tifa's Final Heaven technique. Cid laughed as a mushroom cloud rose over the town. "Haha, that should do…" He trailed off as the smoke faded, revealing the Don was still there, completely untouched. "#&!" he cursed at the top of his lungs.
"TICKLEZ!!" giggled the Don.
"Kadaj, I want an airship!" Loz whined.
Kadaj sighed. "I'll ask Mother to get you one for your birthday…"
"Yay!" Loz cheered. He paused. "Wait, when is my birthday?" Yazoo shrugged.
"Oh no…don't tell me we're dealing with another King Leo or King Dragon!" Tifa moaned.
"Who?" asked the confused Cloud.
"A couple of giant monsters we were forced to fight at Maleficent's party…after you left," Leon said accusingly.
"But-but I had to go! Sephiroth killed Aerith, I couldn't let him get away with that!" Cloud protested.
"But Cloud, I got better," Aerith reminded him.
"…That's not the point," Cloud said in frustration. "I can't just let him do something like that and go unpunished, it's the principle of the thing!"
"Well, did you punish him?" Tifa asked.
Cloud hesitated. "Well…no…"
"Wow, some principle," Cid snorted.
"G-guys?" Yuffie whimpered. "He's…he's still there…do something!"
"Don't worry, Yuffie," Aerith said determinedly, raising her scythe as her dark aura pulsated around her and purple lightning crackled out from her blade. "I will not allow his crimes to go unpunished! DARK MESSENGER!" She spread her wings and took to the air, holding her scythe over her head. Bats flocked to her from every direction, gathering around her crackling weapon and coalescing into an enormous sphere of pure darkness which grew larger and larger as more bats kept flying into it until it was several times bigger than Aerith herself. With a demonic cackle, the Black Vampire Ranger brought her weapon down in a powerful chop, flinging the dark orb off its end and sending it hurtling towards the Don, who was too busy ogling Aerith's sexy outfit and drooling to worry about any personal danger to himself until the sphere struck him, pressing him into the ground due to its enormous size and density before exploding into a huge dome of absolute blackness which consumed the entire plaza with the sound of a thousand screaming souls. When the dome finally imploded on itself and shrunk into nothingness, it left behind a huge crater with a pentagram formed from purple flames burning across its surface…and a completely unhurt (though somewhat dazed) Don sitting in the middle of it all. "Oh, POOP!" Aerith cursed. (sort of)
Cloud gawked. "What the…what happened to her?! She could never do anything like that before!"
"Well, that would be because she died and was resurrected into a demon by the Devil while you were fighting Sephiroth," said Cid. "A good demon, though. Who's still incredibly hot, even if she still has that damn namby-pamby attitude."
"At least she's not a concubine of Satan's who will one day give birth to a legion of monsters that will one day destroy Radiant Garden," Tifa pointed out. "I mean, not anymore. She almost was, but then Merlin fixed her, thankfully."
"Eh, that's true," Cid admitted.
"Would've made for a cool movie if she did," Yuffie commented, briefly forgetting about her absolute fear of the Don to once again fantasize about how cool it would be to have unbeatable demonic powers.
"Aerith was evil, then became good again?! How'd I miss all of that?!" an incredulous Cloud asked.
"Well, it might have had a little something to do with you NEVER BEING AROUND because you're always out chasing Sephiroth," Tifa said a little too sweetly. "Not that we blame you or anything. We understand perfectly."
"Yeah, how gay you are for him," Cid snickered, until Aerith whacked him with the flat of her scythe. "Ow."
Cloud flushed. "…Okay. So maybe I do spent a little too much of my time away from the people who are supposed to be my friends-"
"A little?" Leon asked blandly.
Cloud turned redder, but kept going. "But I'm doing it because this is something I have to do, something more important to me than my own life."
"And more important than your friends, apparently," Kadaj commented. "Wow, you're a real jerk."
Cloud flushed. "You stay out of this!"
"Sorry, got kind of swept up in all the drama," Kadaj apologized.
"Shouldn't we be attacking them or something?" Yazoo asked.
"But then we'll never find out how this real-life soap opera ends!" Loz complained.
"We have television for that, Loz. Go, Don, kill them!" Kadaj commanded.
"YARRRGGGGHHHH!" the Don farted as he very slowly oozed closer to the Rangers.
An angry Cloud brandished his sword. "You guys are haranguing me for never being around? Fine. Maybe that's the reason I stay away in the first place, because none of you can ever understand me and why I do what I do! You have no right to judge me! I don't need your help to fight these guys, I'll handle them and their pet monster by myself!"
"Wow, was that what I sounded like until recently?" Leon muttered in amazement.
"Yes," all the other Rangers told him. He grunted.
Cloud charged towards the Don, his sword, the First Tsurugi (whatever happened to his old Buster Sword?) beginning to glow. "HAAAAAA!" He swung his sword upwards, knocking the Don into the air. "Omnislash…Level Five!" His sword immediately disassembled, five smaller swords splitting off from the main blade and flying into the air, where they formed a circle around the suspended Don. Cloud flew upward, leaving the sword's main blade directly above the Don, then flew away towards one of the smaller surrounding swords. Grabbing the sword (which had a hollow blade) in his right hand, Cloud turned about and flew straight into and through the Don on his way to the next sword, striking the monster with the blade in his hand and causing the beast to howl in pain. Once past the Don, Cloud released the sword he was holding, grabbed another one (one of two blades that formed the back of the complete First Tsurugi), then repeated the fly-by through the Don's body, grabbed another one, and did the same thing, until he had struck the monster five times using all five of the surrounding swords. As the monster reeled in agony, he flew up to the main blade, still floating over the Don, grabbed it, and performed the final strike by flying through the Don right towards the ground, releasing the sword as he passed through. He landed on the ground beneath the monster, and the five smaller swords landed in a circle around him a moment later, followed by the main sword which fell from the sky directly above him and landed right in his hand. A moment after that, the Don fell to the ground behind him, landing on its head and cracking the ground…again. "Hmmph. That wasn't so hard."
Cid, Tifa, Aerith, Yuffie, and Stitch applauded. Leon huffed and crossed his arms. "My attack was way cooler than that…and it had an explosion. All he did was some fancy swordplay…"
"Well, that was certainly fancy," Kadaj admitted. "But it wasn't enough! Behold, for the Don is STILL alive!"
"Yay!" Loz cheered, clapping like a little child.
"What?!" Cloud cried incredulously as the Don pulled itself back up, STILL looking undamaged despite having gotten impaled and ran through by all of First Tsurugi's blades. "But…but how…even Sephiroth has trouble defending against that technique! How could this thing survive my Omnislash?!"
"Wow, guess the almighty Cloud Strife CAN'T do everything on his own," Cid said mockingly. "What a surprise."
"If only he had learned it sooner, like Leon did," Tifa said, pretending to mourn.
"Maybe we should have Tifa's boyfriend beat him up, just like he beat up Leon," Yuffie suggested.
"Now Yuffie, that's not very nice, no matter how appropriate it might be," Aerith scolded the ninja.
Cloud started. "Tifa's got a boyfriend?!"
Tifa glared at him. "Well, duh. What, did you think I was going to wait around for you forever while you ran off to play with Sephiroth every time I found you? Even I had only so much tolerance for your attitude and behavior, Cloud Strife."
"But…but I thought-" Cloud stammered.
"You thought wrong," Tifa replied coldly.
"Why are they having all this melodrama when they're supposed to be fighting us?" asked a frustrated Kadaj.
"Because they're even more dysfunctional than we are," Yazoo said.
Kadaj blinked. "Oh…that make sense."
"Yay!" Loz clapped.
"Why are you clapping now?" Kadaj asked his brother.
Loz paused. "…I don't know." Kadaj and Yazoo rolled their eyes.
"Well, emotional drama aside, we STILL can't put a dent in that thing," Cid grumbled, getting everyone back on track. "Unless, of course, Yuffie wants to try something?"
"No," Yuffie squeaked, shivering and hiding behind Aerith, who hugged her comfortingly. "I'm not getting anywhere near that thing!"
"Then I'm all outta ideas," Cid grunted.
Stitch blew a raspberry. "Stupidheads. You doing it all wrong! Stitch show you how it done!" He whistled and struck a pose. "Come on, Stitch Machine!" His bright red space cruiser appeared out of nowhere and rocketed down towards him. Stitch backflipped through the air and landed neatly in the driver's seat of the vehicle before it could crash into him, steering it back up into the air away from the plaza. He struck another pose. "Come on, BIG Stitch Machine!" With a great rumble and a flash of light, his big red battleship appeared over Radiant Garden. His cruiser flew into the larger vessel, initiating the transformation that resulted in the Magna Stitch Majiin looming over the much, MUCH smaller Don, whose eyes bulged out of their sockets at the size of the giant robot towering over it.
"UH-OH…" he burped.
"Oooh…I want one!" Loz squealed.
"No, Loz, you can't even pilot a Gummi Ship without wrecking it, you're not getting a giant robot!" Kadaj snapped. Loz's lip quivered, and he began to cry. Kadaj groaned and smacked his forehead. "Ugh…why do you have to be such a crybaby?! And why do YOU have to wear a dress?!" he yelled at Yazoo, who shrugged.
Cloud was stunned. "He has a giant robot?!"
"We all do," said Leon. "Cid built them."
"That's right, I did!" Cid said proudly. "Can't be a team of spandex-clad superheroes without transforming giant robots, after all!"
"He even made one for you," said Tifa. "But, since you're never around, and you probably wouldn't want to be a Ranger even if you were, we eventually decided to stop using it and rent it out to children's birthday parties and the like."
"…Oh," said Cloud, rather disconcerted.
Stitch laughed malevolently from the cockpit of his giant mecha. "Meega nala kwista! You die now!" Cackling insanely, he started stomping repeatedly on the helpless Don, using all the power in his giant robot legs. "Ahahahahaha!" He stopped stomping for a moment to fire his weapons several times at the monster, stomped on it again, fired some more, stomped some more, fired, stomped, and repeated the process several times, just to amuse himself.
Aerith frowned. "Isn't it against the rules to use the Zords in battle before the monster's gotten bigger?"
"I don't think Yuffie really cares about enforcing the rules at the moment," said Leon.
He was right. "THAT'S IT, STITCH! KILL HIM! POP HIM LIKE A ZIT! DON'T LET UP FOR A MINUTE, I WANT THAT BASTARD TO SUFFER!" the ninja shrieked.
"Oh," said a surprised Aerith. "Well…at least she seems happy again."
"DIE! DIE! DIE!" Yuffie screamed.
"Relatively speaking…" Aerith murmured.
"I'm afraid that won't work," Tron said over the Rangers' commlink. "I've analyzed the Don's molecular structure in response to all of your attacks, and I'm afraid Kadaj is right, it is nearly invincible! It's somehow able to control its body mass to absorb the brunt of your attacks and disperse it harmlessly throughout its immense form, using its incredible size and weight to its own advantage! Fortunately, I've formulated a plan that just might be able to get around that and destroy this criminal once and for all!"
"Why didn't you tell us that in the first place?!" Leon demanded.
"You're supposed to try several attacks that fail before coming up with one that works. Isn't that the rule?" asked a puzzled Tron. Leon groaned and smacked his forehead.
"I don't believe this," said an incredulous Cloud, shaking his head angrily.
"Tron, what's your idea?" Aerith asked before anyone could start cursing.
"Well, I've just completed a weapon that should be able to penetrate the Don's flesh without getting dispersed across his body, by delivering an incredibly powerful strike to a single point on his form. Theoretically, it should destroy him," the program explained.
"Theoretically?" Cid asked dubiously.
"Never mind that, we'll give anything a try at this point," said Leon. "Tron, send it over."
"It's already on its way. I've dispatched Red XIII and Cait Sith to deliver it to you. They should arrive shortly," Tron reported.
He was right. Only moments later, the panther-like Red XIII dashed over at high speeds, the wailing and much smaller Cait Sith clinging to his back and trying his hardest not to get thrown off. Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain, for when Red came to an abrupt halt before the Rangers the sudden stop caused the smaller cat to get flung over the larger beast's shoulders and slam into a wall. "Ow…" he moaned. He peeled himself off. "Och, lad, what'd ye do that for?!"
"It might have had something to do with you digging your claws into my shoulders," Red said calmly.
"I was only doing it because ye were running so damned fast, ye daft beast!" Cait Sith snapped back. "I was trying not tae get thrown off!"
"Didn't work very well, did it?" Red commented dryly. Cait Sith seethed.
"Nanaki," said Cloud. "Long time no see."
Red nodded to the blonde swordsman. "Same here, Cloud. You've been wandering quite a ways, haven't you?"
Cloud nodded. "And I still have a ways to go."
"The two o' you enigmatic wackjobs can reminisce and catch up later," Cid interjected. "Red, where's that weapon Tron promised us?"
"Aye, ye're lookin' at it!" Cait Sith laughed. The Rangers stared at him in confusion.
Red XIII smirked faintly. "Allow me to demonstrate." He tensed his muscles and crouched down to the ground. A shimmer washed over his body, and abruptly he turned from flesh and bones and fur and muscle to cold metal and electronics, transforming from a large red-furred pantherine creature to a large hand-held cannon built to look somewhat like Red XIII, with the barrel sticking out of the transfigured animal's mouth.
The Rangers gawked. "Holy…" gasped Tifa.
Cloud's eyes widened. "What…what the…"
"How the #& did he do that?!" Cid demanded.
"Was that magic, or some kind of strange science?" wondered an amazed Aerith.
"I don't think that really matters right now. Tron, what is this?" Leon asked the computer.
"I call it, the 'Crimson Cannon!'" Tron said proudly. "By utilizing Cybertronian technology graciously provided by our new 'teammate,' Herbimus Prime-"
"What?! He gave you tech?! That slagger never gives me anything!" Cid swore angrily.
"With good reason…" Tifa muttered under her breath.
"Er, anyway, using Cybertronian tech I was able to figure out a way to temporarily convert Red XIII's organic body into a metallic weapon capable of harnessing zero-point energy and focusing it into an incredibly powerful shot capable of piercing and destroying almost any target!" Tron explained.
"I have no idea what you just said, but 'pierce' and 'destroy' sounds really good right about now," Leon said. "So, it can kill the Don?"
"Indubitably! Well, there is a slight margin of error, but it's highly unlikely that the cannon will blow up in your hands and kill you all," Tron admitted.
The Rangers gave each other uneasy looks. Cid sighed. "Well, hell, why not? I'm willing to give it a try."
"I guess I will, too," Tifa said uncertainly.
"I'm sure everything will turn out all right!" Aerith said optimistically.
"Just in case, I'm going to stand over here," Cloud said, backing far, far away.
"This cannon's gonna require all ye wee Rangers to work it, so ye'd better get Miss Yuffie and that crazy-ass alien down here before ye try firing that thing!" Cait Sith informed the Rangers as they walked over to the Crimson Cannon.
"Why? Does it feed on all our Ranger powers to work?" Aerith asked the cat.
Cait Sith shook his head. "No, it's just damn heavy, and there's no way the three of ye can lift it by yerselves…not even an abnormally strong lass like yerself, Miss Lockhart."
"He's…right…ungh!" Tifa grunted as she struggled to pick up the cannon and only managed to lift it an inch off the ground. "I think this is heavier than anything else I've ever had to lift in my life…well, except maybe for the Don, and certain monsters."
"Yuffie! Stitch! Get over here!" Leon ordered. "We're going to use this cannon to destroy the Don, but we can't do it without you!"
At the prospect of a brand new weapon and the chance to cause considerable destruction, the ninja and the alien were with the other Rangers in a flash. "All right!" Yuffie cheered when she saw the cannon. "Now it's time for that pervert to find out what it's like to get raped! Not that he raped me or anything, but…you know…it got kind of close…"
"Stitch wanna shoot cannon! Stitch wanna shoot cannon!" the Magna Ranger cried, grabbing the cannon and lifting it over his head as if it weighed about as much as a feather. Tifa gave him an envious look.
"All right, Rangers," Cait Sith said, hopping on top of the cannon. "Everyone, grab hold of this bad boy and open fire! We'll blast that rotten pedophile into the next century!" He frowned. "Too bad I don't have me bagpipes, else I'd play us a jolly battle song tae rally our spirits…"
"Yeah, too bad you…misplaced it," Tifa said, giving Yuffie a meaningful glance. "We really liked hearing you play that thing…day and night…"
"Aye, so did I, lass, so did I," Cait Sith said sadly, not noticing Tifa and Yuffie were giggling at him behind his back. Aerith didn't giggle, but only because she thought it wouldn't be polite.
The Rangers quickly positioned themselves around the cannon, Leon grabbing the trigger and stock on the back while the other four crouched down and held onto the sides. Stitch kept the whole thing in the air. Cait Sith just stood on top, his little cape blowing dramatically. "Crimson Cannon charging," Leon reported, as the weapon glowed and energy flowed into it from all around. "Ready for firing in 5…4…3…"
"Brother, why are we letting them fire that thing? Shouldn't we destroy it to make sure they can't kill the Don?" Yazoo asked Kadaj.
Kadaj shrugged. "Eh, I don't really feel like it. It probably won't work, anyway."
The Rangers were about to prove him wrong. "FIRE!" Cait Sith bellowed, striking a pose and pointing at the Don.
"Crimson Cannon, GO!" the Rangers shouted as the mechanized Red XIII's mouth lit up and fired a red energy beam at the Don. The beam struck the monster in the chest and caused the abomination to wheeze and double and triple over in pain as it pressed hard into his gut, piercing the supposedly impenetrable flesh and tearing out the other side, blowing up the building the Sons of Sephiroth had been standing on just moments before (the trio having jumped out of the way before the beam could hit them). The Don howled in agony, his folds of flesh literally crawling in pain as he started swelling up to his full bulk, stretching his skin tight, until finally he exploded like an oversized zit, spraying pus and all sorts of other disgusting things across the plaza.
Cloud's eyes widened. "It worked?!"
"Haha! Victory, lads!" Cait Sith cheered, doing a jig on top of the cannon.
"Mission complete," Leon said. "Nice work, Tron."
"Glad to be of service in destroying such a menace to society!" Tron said, sounding very pleased indeed.
"I'll be glad never to see that bastard ever again," Cid snarled.
"Yeah! And stay dead!" Yuffie yelled. "That's what you get for trying to molest the Great Ninja Yuffie!"
"Good riddance," said Tifa.
"Usually, I wouldn't say anything like that, but…I agree completely, Tifa!" Aerith said.
"Yeeha!" Stitch cried exultantly, throwing the cannon (and poor Cait Sith) into the air.
"Waaaaahhhhh!" yelled the cat as he hit the ground…and was abruptly crushed beneath the Crimson Cannon, which landed on top of him. "Ow…a little help, please?"
Loz burst into tears. "Waaaaaahhhh! They made our monster go boom!"
"Don't cry, Loz," Yazoo said softly. "It won't be gone for much longer…"
Kadaj cackled and took out a vial full of a mysterious liquid. "That's right…especially not after we use THIS on the poor, departed Don!"
Cloud gasped. "Oh no! That's a vial of Jenova cells! If they use that on the Don's remains-"
"He'll be resurrected as a giant monster?" Leon finished.
Cloud blinked. "How did you know that?"
Yuffie rolled her eyes. "Well, duh, that's how all Power Rangers monsters work! But…wait…that means Corneo'll be back…and bigger than ever…oh god, HIDE ME!"
"Don't worry, Yuffie, we'll protect you from him, no matter how big he gets!" Aerith promised the ninja.
"That's right, no matter how enormous or ugly he gets, he can't defeat us!" Tifa agreed.
"Ha! We'll see about that!" Kadaj cried, flinging the vial at the splattered and gory mess that was all that was left of the Don.
The vial shattered, spraying its contents everywhere. As the strange glowing blue-green liquid that the vial had contained was soaked into the fleshy bits of the Don's body, a strange reaction began to occur. The flesh started wriggling and bubbling, swelling up and melding together and growing bigger and bigger in a rather disgusting process before congealing to form a giant and even uglier version of the mutated Don Corneo! "GUUUUUHHHH! I BACK, BABY! GIMME SOME LUV!" he wheezed.
Yuffie squealed in fright, but managed to get herself under control. "No…I'm not going to let my fear control me anymore! That's not the ninja way! This time, I'll fight…and finish that bastard once and for all!"
"That's the spirit!" Aerith said encouragingly.
"Tron, send the Zords!" Leon commanded. "Let's take this thing apart!"
"Right away, Leon!" Tron replied. "I'm also sending Herbimus along so you can combine your Zords and become even more powerful. You'll need as much strength as you can get to fight that monster now that it's a giant!"
"Sounds like a good idea," Cid said. "Glad I built that new combining upgrade thing for our Zords."
"I thought Tron and Herbimus did that," Aerith said.
"…Er…" Cid grunted.
"You really think you can beat something that big with colorful giant robots?" Cloud asked skeptically.
Tifa shrugged. "Better than fighting them as we are now…you know, what with the major size difference and all."
"Point…" Cloud admitted.
"Here they come!" Yuffie announced. "Everyone, get ready! Oh, and Stitch, you can get back into your Zord, since it's already here."
"Woohoo!" Stitch cheered, running back to his Magna Stitch Majiin.
"Red Lion Zord, descend!" Leon leaped into the air and landed in the cockpit of his red and black winged robot lion. "Griever, power up!"
"Airship Zord, c'mon down!" Cid cried. There was a pause. "Oh, wait, you're already here. Forgot about that." He leaped into the air and landed in the Highwind's cockpit.
"Yellow Power Zord, arise!" Tifa leaped into the air and landed in the cockpit of her yellow space fighter jet. "Yellow Force Flier, power up!"
"Summon juutsu! Ninja Helicopter Zord!" Yuffie called. She leaped into the air and landed in the cockpit of her green giant helicopter. "Ninja Star, power up!"
"Galwit Mysto Prifior!" Aerith chanted, causing a dark purple pentagram spell-seal to lower over her and transform her into a demonic giant robot. "Mystic Succubus Zord!"
"Now, Megazord formation!" Leon commanded, pushing some buttons on his console.
The five robots quickly converged, transformed, and combined; Griever forming the chest, wings, and upper legs; the Force Flier becoming the left arm, the Ninja Star transforming into the right arm (for once, rather than becoming the Ninja Star Megazord and doing its own thing); the Highwind split in two and became the lower legs and feet; and the Succubus Zord formed the new robot's head. The Rangers made weird arm motions inside the mecha's cockpit (including Aerith, despite her being one of the robot's constituent parts). "Go, go, Radiant Megazord!" A tremendous explosion occurred behind the robot for no reason, blowing up the street and surrounding buildings.
"…" Cloud blinked, incredulous. "I've got to be dreaming…"
"Afraid not, lad. Could ye kindly get this offa me?" Cait Sith begged.
"And now, to kick things up a notch!" Leon said, pushing some more buttons. "Herbimus! We need your help!"
Beep beep! Honked the white buggie as it drove down the street towards the Radiant Megazord, passing an amazed Cloud in the process. "Was that Herbie the Love Bug?"
"Yes. Will ye get this thing offa me?" Cait Sith asked.
"Autobots, transform and roll out!" Herbimus played on his radio, the Transformers theme song blaring from his speakers as he transformed into Herbimus Prime and leaped into the air towards the Radiant Megazord.
Cloud's jaw dropped. "Did Herbie the Love Bug just turn into an Autobot?!"
Cait Sith sighed. "Yes lad, he did. A little help here?"
The Magna Stitch Majiin and Radiant Megazord turned towards Herbimus as he soared towards them. "I always love this part," Yuffie commented. "It's so cool!"
"Ih, ih!" Stitch agreed.
The compartment on Herbimus' chest containing the Matrix of Leadership opened up. "'Be our light in our darkest hour!'" Herbimus' recorded voice quoted, light streaming from his chest as 'The Touch' played in the background.
The bodies of the Radiant Megazord and Magna Stitch Majiin began to glow. "Radiant Fusion power!" all the Rangers cried. The body of the Magna Stitch Majiin suddenly split apart, turning into several separate mecha pieces that flew towards the Megazord, transforming in midair. The Magna Stitch Majiin's four arms attached themselves to the forearms of the Radiant Megazord, creating a pair of huge twin cannons on each limb. The Stitch Majiin's legs transformed into rocket engines and clamped onto the sides of the Megazord's legs to give it greater thruster power. The torso split in two then reconfigured itself to create a red armored vest which slid onto the Radiant Megazord's chest without compromising the lion head or wings, granting extra protection as well as spines growing from the back. A plate bearing the number 626 planted itself on the lion's forehead. The helmet on the Megazord's head vanished and was replaced by a new one made from the transformed head of the Magna Stitch Majiin, giving it big horn-like ears and antenna which were also stiffened up to look like horns. Herbimus Prime changed back into a car and glided into the mouth of the lion's head on the new robot's chest and into a concealed slot in the back, connecting himself to the mecha's enery core and granting it unfathomable power. The robot's eyes glowed and the lion head roared as electricity crackled out from the Zord's body. "Radiant Ultrazord!" A brilliant light shone from the robot's body, as more explosions erupted behind it.
Cloud's jaw dropped. "Did…did they just…"
"Yes, they did! Will ye get this thing offa me already?!" Cait Sith yelled.
"Ooohhhh…" said Loz, eyes wide in awe.
"No, Loz, we are not getting you one of your own," Kadaj said before Loz could ask. "And what the hell is with that theme song? It's so…dated!"
"Eh, I've heard worse," said Yazoo with a shrug. He was still wearing a dress.
"Radiant Buster!" the Rangers cried as the Ultrazord thrusted its arms forward and fired several hundred explosive rounds per second from the cannons on its arms. The impact was very powerful and shoved the Don back, groaning as its flesh rippled and undulated all around it.
"I think that actually did some damage!" Yuffie cried ecstatically.
"Sorry, I'm afraid it didn't," Tron corrected her, causing the six Rangers in the new, larger cockpit to groan. "I would recommend trying something stronger."
"Right," said Leon, inputting some commands into his console. "We already know how tough this thing is, so I see no reason in drawing this out. Let's bring in the Prism Blade!"
"I always like using that thing. It's so pretty," commented Aerith. "I wonder why we never use it right away in battle…"
"Because it's against the rules, duh," Yuffie pointed out. "We're not supposed to use the sword as anything else but a finishing move. That's how this sort of thing works!"
"Ih! Unless you have BIG guns!" Stitch cackled.
"And we have both of those on this baby, so I'd say we're fine," Cid laughed nastily
A beam of rainbow light shot down from the heavens and shone on the Radiant Ultrazord. The giant mecha extended a hand, and a beautiful crystal sword shining with all the colors of the spectrum lowered into its waiting grip. As the rainbow light faded, the Ultrazord slashed its new weapon through the air a few times, leaving a colorful trail in its wake. "Radiant Ultrazord with Prism Power!"
"Why do we always say that after we summon that thing?" Tifa wondered.
"The rules," Cid, Yuffie, Leon, and Stitch reminded her (dryly in the case of the elder two, pointedly in the case of the younger).
"Ah," Tifa said. "Right. Of course."
"All right, boys and girls, let's cream that sorry sonuvabitch!" Cid whooped. "Full speed ahead!"
The new rocket thrusters on the Ultrazord's legs and lining the backs of the spines on its vest ignited and propelled the giant mecha forward at incredible speeds as it drew back its crystal sword. "Radiant…JOUST!" With all the power in its arm, plus the thrust given to it by the rockets, the Ultrazord drove its sword forward, piercing the Don's flesh! The grotesque monstrosity howled in pain as the sword sank into its flesh…
And continued sinking, taking the Ultrazord's arm with it and burying it in the Don's chest all the way up to its shoulder. Cloud blinked. "Wait, was that supposed to happen?"
"Probably not," said Cait Sith "And WHEN ARE YE GOING TAE GET THIS BLASTED THING OFFA ME?!"
The Ultrazord tugged on its stuck arm with its free arm, but to no avail, the robot was unable to pull it out. "Um…crap. I don't think this is right," said an alarmed Leon. "We're trapped!"
"And it only gets worse…we're still sinking!" Aerith cried.
He was right. The Don's flesh was slowly oozing up the shoulder of the robot arm trapped in its body mass, hungrily slithering across the Ultrazord's metal hide in hopes of adding it to the Don's bulk. The Ultrazord, seeing this, tugged more frantically at its arm to try and get it out of the monster's chest, but only proceeded in speeding up the absorption process, much like how struggling in quicksand only makes its victims sink even faster. "GET IN MAH BELLY!" the Don burbled gleefully.
"Oh, GROSS!" Tifa cried in disgust.
"Icky patookie!" Stitch agreed, sticking out his tongue.
"No...no…nonononono…" Yuffie whimpered, shivering and holding herself. "It's just like in my nightmares…I'm going to be enveloped by his corpulent mass…he's going to EAT me, body and soul…just what he's always wanted…I'm going to be a part of him forever…oh God…I…I can't take this…" She put her head between her knees, heaving and gasping for breath.
"Aw, hell, I don't wanna go like this! Eaten up by osmosis through some disgusting giant monster's skin!" Cid cursed, working his controls frantically and only causing sparks to fly and foul-smelling smoke to fill the cockpit, which only made him curse even more.
"Tron, is there anything we can do to get out of this?" Leon asked the computer program.
"Hold on a second…yes…yes, Herbimus has an idea that just might work!" the computer program replied. "He says that if you fire the Matrix Cannon at point-blank range, you might be able to blast your way free from the Don's body!"
"But won't the recoil cause severe internal damage?" asked an alarmed Aerith.
"Well, yes," Tron admitted. "But it'd probably be better than getting absorbed into the Don's flesh."
"He's got a point," Cid admitted.
"I suppose if we have no other choice…" Tifa relented.
"Big BOOM!" Stitch yelled enthusiastically.
"Do it! DO IT!" Yuffie shrieked, grabbing Leon by the shoulders and shaking him frantically.
"All right, all right!" Leon said, shoving her off of him. "Okay, everyone brace yourselves! Engage the Matrix Cannon!"
The jaws of the lion head on the Ultrazord's chest gaped wider, and a cannon barrel extended from it, its tip only inches away from the Don's flesh. The immense monster looked down in puzzlement as the weapon gathered power and fired at point-blank range, creating a tremendous explosion which shook the planet, temporarily blinded everyone foolish enough to look into it, and caused the monster to bellow in pain.
"Oooh, pretty!" Loz drooled.
"MY EYES! MY BEAUTIFUL EYES!" shrieked Kadaj.
"They weren't that beautiful," said Yazoo.
"Oh, shut up, you crossdressing fruitcake!"
When the light from the explosion faded, the full extent of the damage from firing the cannon could be seen. The plaza and all the surrounding buildings had been completely vaporized, every window in town was broken, and quite a few homes and businesses had collapsed from the shockwave of the blast. The town's trademark giant castle was the only thing undamaged, due to its sturdy structure and Ansem the Wise having (naturally) the wisdom to reinforce it considering the kinds of explosive experiments his eventually traitorous apprentices liked to indulge in. The Don was, frustratingly enough, still completely intact, albeit dazed and a bit blackened. As for the Radiant Ultrazord, it had indeed been blown free from the monster, just as Tron predicted. However…
It had left its limb behind. The severed right arm that had gotten stuck in the Don's chest was STILL stuck there, and had been ripped off at the shoulder due to the explosion that had broken the Ultrazord free. "No! That bastard still has my Zord! He's contaminating it! I can never use it again, not knowing that HE touched it and had it in his disgusting oozing body mass and everything!" Yuffie shouted, on the verge of tears.
"Don't worry, Yuffie, Cid will build you another…won't you, Cid?" Aerith asked, glaring at the engineer threateningly.
Cid gulped. Even if Aerith was nice again, the demon in her could still be as terrifying as any other denizen of Hell. "S-sure thing. Assuming we manage to get out of here alive, that is. That cannon did a real damn number on us! There's barely a bolt on this thing that isn't busted!"
Cid was correct. The point-blank explosion had caused the cannon itself to overload and detonate, destroying the head of Leon's prized Griever Zord and scattering its jaw fragments all over the city. Several sparking cables and pistons jutted out from the stump of a shoulder where Yuffie's Ninja Star helicopter had once been. The cannons on the Ultrazord's left arm were busted, crushed under the mecha's own weight when it had landed on them after being hurled away by the explosion from the Matrix Cannon. The Ultrazord's left leg was broken, one of the wings had been torn off, and the thruster-spines on its back were ruined as well. And poor Herbimus, who was integrated into the power core and had helped channel the blast for the Matrix Cannon, had been so damaged by the recoil from the blast that he had been forced into stasis lock. All in all, the mecha was in sorry shape, and certainly not in any condition to protect itself from the horrendous fleshy monster oozing towards them with plans of giant robot rape on its single-celled mind. "SEEEEEXXX!" the Don drooled.
"Looks like the Ultrazord's about to lose its virginity," Cid said dryly. "Well, that sucks. We don't even have protection."
"Cid, please shut up before I literally rip your head off," Tifa growled.
"I'll help," Aerith offered, causing Cid to yelp and shut up.
"Well, that's it, I'm outta here before the XXX-rated Hentai-fest begins," Yuffie said, running over to the nearest exit door. She tugged on it. It wouldn't open. "Uh, Leon, could you unlock the door?" She tugged on it harder. "Please?"
"Can't. Nearly all our systems were fried by the explosion. The doors are jammed shut," Leon said flatly. "So we're pretty much stuck here."
"What?!" Yuffie screamed, starting to hyperventilate. "NO! I am NOT getting stuck in here while that-that FREAK comes over here and…and…" She took a deep breath. "Stitch! Get over here and help me open this door!"
"Okietaka." Stitch got out of his seat and rushed over to help Yuffie.
"Does Tron have any ideas on how we can get out of this?" Aerith asked Cid.
Cid checked his console. "Ah…no, because I can't reach him."
"What?!" Aerith cried in alarm.
"That explosion generated an EMP—that's electromagnetic pulse—which shorted out every damn piece of electronic crap in the city, including Tron!" Cid snarled, pounding a fist on his console angrily.
"I thought he was insulated against things like that," said a concerned Tifa.
"He was," Cid agreed. "Except that SOMEONE'S been chewing on the power cables again!"
Everyone glared at Stitch. "Oops," he said, looking embarrassed. "I sorry."
"Bwahahaha! This is perfect! They're completely helpless and at the mercy of the Don, who naturally has no mercy! Soon the Power Rangers will be dead, and nobody will be able to stop us from getting Mother back!" Kadaj cackled.
"What about Cloud?" asked Loz.
Kadaj paused. "Well…okay, we'll have to kill him, and then we'll get Mother back!"
"Yay!" cheered Loz.
Yazoo frowned. "Guys, are we old enough to be watching what the Don's about to do to that robot?"
Kadaj thought about that for a moment. A sly grin came to his face. "Well, Mother and Big Brother aren't here to stop us…"
Loz clapped happily. "Yay! We get to watch restricted television!"
"This is real life, Loz, not television," Yazoo corrected his brother.
The big lummox looked at the man in the dress blankly. "There's a difference?"
Cloud shook his head in dismay as the Don slithered over to the Radiant Ultrazord. "They need my help…but what can I do? My sword's no use against that thing…"
"Well, lad," Cait Sith, who was still under the Crimson Cannon, piped up. "It might become powerful enough…if ye were to become a Power Ranger."
Cloud glanced at the trapped cat. "What?"
Cait Sith smirked. "Remember what the others said? They originally built a Zord for ye, but since ye were never around to use it they gave it away…but that's not all they made for ye! They built a Morpher too, and have been saving it for ye, in the unlikely event that ye'd get that Buster Sword out of yer ass and settle down to become part of the team instead of always running off after that Sephiroth blighter. They made a Morpher just in case ye wanted tae be one of them. Tae be a member of Power Rangers: Radiant Force."
Cloud was stunned. "…They went to all that trouble for me? Even though they knew I'd never join them, not until I'd defeated Sephiroth, and maybe not even then?"
"Of course they did, ye daft fool! They're yer friends! What else would they do?!" Cait Sith snapped. "Of course, considering how ye treat them and stay as far away from them as possible, I wouldn't say ye consider them friends, do ye now?"
"…I have to stay away," Cloud said. "It's for their-"
"It's for nobody's good but yer own, ye idiot!" Cait Sith snarled. "Ye stay away so ye don't have anything to tie ye down and keep ye from going after Sephiroth time and time again! He's the only thing that matters to ye, maybe even more than yerself…but ye know what's going tae happen, if and when ye do kill him, don't ye Cloud? Ye won't have anyone left. Ye'll have pushed everyone away long ago tae continue yer pointless quest of vengeance…and then all ye'll have left is yerself. And ye know, far better than I do, that the only person ye hate more than Sephiroth is yerself, Cloud Strife."
"It doesn't have tae be that way, though," Cait Sith said softly. "As it so happens, I have the Morpher they made for ye right here. I brought it along in case ye might need it. And while ye might not…I think the others certainly do. All ye have to do is take it…and say the magic words…and ye'll become a Power Ranger, with the strength ye need tae save yer friends."
Cloud was torn, an anguished expression on his face. "But…but I can't…Sephiroth…if I'm not out there chasing him, he-"
"Will show up around here sooner or later, pissed that ye're not playing his games anymore," Cait Sith interjected. "And when that happens, he'll have tae face the full might of the Power Rangers! With everyone backing ye, don't ye think there's a chance that ye might be able to slay the beastie once and fer all?"
"…Maybe…" Cloud said very doubtfully. "But…I just…don't know…"
Cait Sith sighed in exasperation. "It's not that hard a decision, lad. If ye choose tae be a Ranger, ye'll save yer friend's lives. If ye don't, they're going tae die. It's as simple as that. So, tell me, Cloud…what's really more important to ye? Yer friends…or Sephiroth? Because, ultimately, that's the choice ye're really being asked to make."
Cloud closed his eyes, deep in thought as he tried to make one of the hardest decisions in his life. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes, seeing that the Don had almost made it to the helpless and immobile Radiant Ultrazord. "I…"
Before Cloud could announce his decision, there was a sudden white blur, a feline snarl, and a wail of anguish from the Don as it reared back, pus and gore spraying from a gaping wound in its side. The blur landed nearby and turned around, revealing itself to be a giant white robot tiger. "I'll kindly ask you to keep your pseudopods off of my girlfriend, abomination," its pilot, a lean muscled figure wearing white spandex with black tiger stripes, gold pauldrons, and a helmet in the shape of a tiger's head with feline ear crests and a black visor where the eyes would have been, snarled coldly at the moaning Don.
Aerith gasped. "Oh my! It's the White Tiger Ranger!"
"All right! We're saved!" Yuffie cheered.
"Woohoo!" Stitch hollered.
Cid sighed in relief. "Thank goodness for the law of dramatic plot contrivances…"
Leon glanced at Tifa. "I thought you said he wouldn't be able to help out today."
Tifa blushed under her helmet. "I thought so too. I guess he got off work early …or just left. He is the boss; after all, he can probably do that whenever he wants."
"Well, good thing you're dating him then, huh?" Aerith joked, causing Tifa to flush a deeper red. Good thing nobody could see it.
"Yeah, instead of a lower-ranked white- or blue-collar worker who has to work regular hours to make ends meet, like the rest of us," Cid grumbled. "Guess I shouldn't complain though, seeing as how he's saving our asses!"
Cloud gaped. "What the…"
"What?! Another Ranger?! No way!" Kadaj ranted. "How many of them are there, anyway?! They just keep multiplying, like, like-"
"Bunnies?" Loz suggested.
"Cockroaches!" snapped Kadaj.
Loz sulked. "Awww, I like bunnies…"
"Cait Sith, who the hell is that?!" Cloud demanded.
The trapped cat grinned eagerly. "Lad, our prayers have been answered! That there is the White Tiger Ranger, the strongest Ranger of them all, mainly because he has unlimited resources and didn't rely on Cid to build his Zord."
"There's a SEVENTH Ranger?!" Cloud shouted. "Then why the hell were you trying to convince ME to become a Ranger if you thought that guy could still show up and save the day?!"
Cait Sith blinked. "But I didn't think he would show up and save the day. He's a billionaire tycoon and in charge of one of the biggest corporations in the galaxy…not as big as Scrooge McDuck's financial empire, of course, but still pretty big. He's a very busy man, and can't always come to help us out because he often has tae attend important meetings that could decide the fate and careers of millions of people on dozens of worlds. Today was one of those days. I guess he finished doing it earlier than expected and was able tae find time to show up and save us. Good thing, aye?"
"…Then that whole talk to convince me to be a Ranger was just because you didn't think the other guy was going to show up?!" Cloud yelled angrily.
"Er…" Cait Sith grinned sheepishly. "Well, it was also because I thought ye needed to decide what was really important tae ye in life, but…yeah, pretty much."
Cloud looked as if there was nothing he wanted to do more than separate the cat's head from his shoulders. Instead, barely managing to control himself, he said, "I hope you realize I'm not going to get you out from under there for that."
Cait Sith sighed. "Aye lad, I know, I know."
Cloud turned away. "Who is this White Ranger? You said he's a wealthy businessman?"
"Aye," said Cait Sith. "And Tifa's new boyfriend." Cloud bristled at that, much to the cat's pleasure. "His name is…"
"Khan!" Tifa cried over the commlink (which Cid had managed to fix by sticking some paperclips together) "What are you doing here? I thought you had a board meeting!"
"Oh, I did," the tiger replied. "But it turned out to be far much less important than I thought it would be, so I fired the idiots responsible for wasting my time and rushed over here as soon as I received your distress signal."
"…We didn't send a distress signal," said a confused Tifa.
"Yeah, I think I'd remember that," Yuffie agreed.
"Actually, I sent it," Tron said, startling everyone.
"Tron! You're all right?" Aerith cried in relief.
"Yes, I'm fine. The backup generators in the castle came online and rebooted me…though now I have a splitting headache," the computer program complained. "I sent a distress signal to Khan's Ranger communicator right after I dispatched the Zords, certain that you'd need his help if he could make it."
"Wait, you mean you sent that signal before we were even in serious trouble?!" asked an alarmed Cid.
"Don't you have any faith in us?" asked an annoyed Yuffie.
"Not really, no," Tron admitted.
"I'm not sure I blame him…" Leon muttered under his breath as Stitch, Yuffie, and Cid childishly blew raspberries at the AI.
"How were you able to damage that monster? Our own weapons have been unable to even penetrate the skin without…well, losing an arm," Tifa asked.
"The claws of my White Tigerzord are lined with microfilament fibers capable of slicing through molecules," Khan explained. "Making them one of the sharpest cutting edges in the galaxy."
"Oooh," Stitch and Yuffie said, impressed.
"Why don't we have any of those?" Yuffie complained, glaring at Cid.
"Because not all of us are multibillionaire businessmen who can afford to use top-of-the-line technology and enormous manufacturing facilities to construct incredibly powerful and advanced giant robots at a whim!" Cid snapped.
"Maybe we would if you stopped spending our munny on booze…" Yuffie grumbled.
Cid slammed a hand on his console angrily. "I don't, dammit! Not anymore! Especially because Aerith keeps threatening to send me to a horrible nightmare world if I don't quit…" He glanced at the Black Ranger fearfully.
"It's for your own good, Cid," Aerith said motheringly. "If it'll get you to stop your health-destroying bad habits, I'll do whatever I deem necessary to do so." Cid shuddered.
"Khan, now that you're here, would you mind lending us a hand in destroying this thing?" Tifa asked.
Shere Khan nodded. "Most certainly, Tifa. And, afterwards, would you be willing to join me for dinner? Both our schedules have prevented us from dating in the last couple of weeks, I believe we are well overdue for our next outing together."
Tifa tried not to giggle. "I think that would be feasible, yes."
Khan smiled inside his helmet. "Very good, then."
Leon sighed. Cid rolled his eyes. "Will the two of you stop flirting and get back to fighting that ugly thing already?"
"Of course. My apologies, this should not take much longer. Initiating Megazord formation!" With a few button presses, Shere Khan caused his Tigerzord to rise into the air on its hind legs and transform into a more humanoid mecha, with clawed hands, a feline head, and a curved blade made from its first form's tail. "White Tiger Megazord!"
"Great, another freaking' Megazord," Cid grumbled enviously. "Showoff."
"OOOOH! WANT TO PET KITTY," the Don slobbered, sliding its bulk towards the White Tiger Megazord.
"Sorry," Khan quipped, slashing his sword several times through the air at blinding speeds with a flick of the wrist. "This kitty does not like to be petted."
"That's not what he said on your first date," Yuffie commented to Tifa, who flushed.
"Yuffie!" Tifa hissed. "That's private information! And you weren't supposed to be there!"
Yuffie rolled her eyes. "I'm a ninja, duh. You can't keep me away from stuff like this!"
"Me neither!" Stitch added.
"You were there too?!" Tifa cried, crestfallen.
Stitch nodded. "Ih! Ih!"
Tifa groaned. "Great. Well, at least you were the only ones…"
There was an uncomfortable pause in the cockpit. Tifa glared at her teammates. "Don't tell me…"
"I wanted to make sure he wasn't going to hurt you, dear," Aerith said apologetically. "He is a rather dangerous man, after all."
"And I was naturally suspicious of him since he savagely mauled me," Leon said bluntly.
"And I was observing you surreptitiously through security cameras as part of my ongoing studies of organic mating habits, so that I can understand this thing you call 'love,'" Tron admitted.
"And I was spying on you because I had nothing better to do," Cid grunted.
Tifa slammed her forehead down on her console, denting it. (The console, not her head.) "How wonderful to know I have such caring and considerate friends…"
"Yep, we're the best damn friends you've got!" Cid said cheerfully.
"More like family, really," Aerith said.
"Ohana forever!" Stitch added.
"What's an ohana?" Yuffie asked.
"Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind," Stitch explained.
"Oh. Okay," said Yuffie.
"If I'm going to be stuck with them forever, so are you," Leon said flatly. "Better get used to it."
"I wonder if Khan will mind us moving in with you two when you get married?" Yuffie wondered. "He's probably got all sorts of cool toys to play with…and break!"
"Plasma-screen TV! Plasma-screen TV!" Stitch shouted happily. Tifa groaned and pressed her head further into the dent she had made.
"That guy's pretty good," Yazoo commented as the White Tiger Megazord battled the Don with a continuous chain of lightning-quick moves and sword strikes.
"He may have some impressive moves, but he's still not strong enough to defeat the Don!" Kadaj insisted.
Of course, that very moment was when the Don had to bellow and writhe in agony and scream, "NOOOOEZ! I CANNOT BE DEFEATED!" before exploding violently.
Kadaj's jaw dropped. "You were saying?" Yazoo asked dryly.
"Nooo! Don Don leDonDon's deeeeeaaaaad!" wailed Loz, bursting into tears.
"Well, with a stupid name like that, it was only a matter of time," Yazoo pointed out.
"Oh yeah, I guess that's true," Loz said, immediately calming down.
"Motherfucking damn it! THEIR mothers, not ours!" Kadaj amended quickly, seeing the horrified look on Loz's face. "Don't think this is over, Rangers! We'll be back, with more minions and an even BADDER monster!"
"I don't think they can hear you," said Loz.
"Do you mean badder as in more monstrous and evil, or just more pathetic and incompetent?" asked Yazoo.
Kadaj flushed. "Shut up. If we didn't come from the same Mother, I'd kill you both."
"Aww, I love you too, big bro!" Loz squealed, hugging Kadaj. "Hug!"
"Ack! Loz, let go!" Kadaj screamed, trying to wriggle out of his idiot brother's too-tight hug.
"Huuuuug!" Loz said happily, rubbing his cheek against Kadaj's affectionately.
Yazoo shook his head and glanced at Cloud, who was staring at them dumbfoundedly. "Forget you ever saw this," the man in the dress said coolly. "We'll kill you some other day, okay?"
Cloud blinked. "Uh…okay…"
"Great. See you later." Yazoo grabbed his two brothers and dragged them into a nearby dark portal, which closed behind them.
"…That was weird," Cloud said after a moment.
Cait Sith nodded. "Aye, lad. Now, do ye suppose ye could…"
"No," Cloud said flatly.
Cait Sith sighed. "Aye, that's what I thought ye'd say."
The Rangers, who had managed to get free from the stuck doors of the Ultrazord, came over with Shere Khan, helmets off and reveling in their (well, his) victory. "That was so awesome, the way you just swiped your blade through the air a few times, and it looked like you didn't actually hit him, and then you turned your back to him and he exploded! It was sooooo coool!" Yuffie gushed to the bemused White Tiger Ranger.
"Ih! Badass! Like in anime!" Stitch agreed, punching the air a few times.
"It was a very clean series of cuts," Leon said admiringly. "I didn't know you…or rather, your robot…could use a sword so well. I thought you were mainly a barefist fighter."
"I am," Shere Khan agreed. "But I've trained myself a little in most other weapons on the side. Just in case. A warrior can never be too prepared, after all."
Leon nodded in agreement. "Indeed. Perhaps you'd like to spar sometime?"
"Hmm, I'll see if I can fit it into my schedule," Khan mused.
"Assuming it doesn't interfere with our 'private time'," Tifa said, giving Khan a smile and Leon a somewhat threatening glare.
"Of course not," Khan said, smiling slightly as he heard Leon gulp and back away.
"Do you suppose you could also schedule in some time to give us some of that monofilament whatsis?" Cid asked Khan hopefully. "Because, dang, I sure could use some stuff like that around my workshop…like to keep certain nuisances from sneaking around and breaking all of my stuff!" he snarled at Yuffie and Stitch, who stuck their tongues out at him.
"I'd be perfectly happy to lend you some monofilaments," Khan said. "As soon as you can prove to me you won't destroy the city with them. Let's see, this is the…tenth time this month you've wrecked most of Radiant Garden?"
The Rangers paused and looked around, taking in the great amount of devastation and ruin they had caused with their battle. Cid cursed loudly. Aerith sighed. "Oh dear, not again…we really have to stop doing this!"
"Ah, Khan, I don't suppose…" Tifa asked uneasily.
The tiger sighed. "Yes, I'll pay for the reconstruction of the town…again. But this can't keep happening, you understand that? I may be able to afford these constant repairs, but even I would have trouble justifying all this expense to my shareholders."
"Maybe we should just make everything out of cardboard," Yuffie half-joked. "Then it'll be much cheaper to repair every time we wreck it."
Khan actually seemed to take that into consideration for a moment. "Hmm…cardboard…now there's an idea…" The other Rangers glared at Yuffie, who grimaced and shrugged her shoulders apologetically.
"Hey Cloud, anything interesting happen while we were gone?" Cid asked Cloud as they approached the blonde.
"Cait Sith got stuck under the Crimson Cannon and the Sons of Sephiroth escaped," Cloud said, trying to sound nonchalant.
Leon frowned. "And you didn't stop them?"
Cloud coughed. "There were…extenuating circumstances."
"The lad was too freaked out by their crazy shenanigans tae do anything!" Cait Sith yelled from behind Cloud. Cloud kicked him in the face. "Ow!"
"Oh my…we should probably get that off of him, shouldn't we?" Aerith said, looking alarmed at the thought of how long poor Cait Sith had been stuck under the cannon. "Cloud, why didn't you try and get him out while we were busy?"
"Too heavy," Cloud said, which was partly true.
"Ye didn't even try, ye selfish bast-OW!" he cried as Cloud kicked him again. "Ugh…a little help here?"
"Okietaka!" Stitch walked over, lifted the cannon in one hand, and casually threw it away. It landed in one of the giant craters caused by the battle nearby with a loud crash.
"Red's probably not going to be pleased about that when he turns back to normal," Tifa commented.
"Meh," said Stitch, not really caring.
"Ahhhh…thank ye kindly, lad," Cait Sith said as he got to his feet. He stretched his back, gasping as it cracked a little. "Ooohhh…I was really under there for too long…but I feel much better now! I owe ye quite the debt of gratitude, my friend! I'll never forget what ye did for me that a certain swordsman here did NOT!"
Cloud grunted. Stitch shrugged. "'Kay."
"I don't believe you've introduced me to your new friend," Cloud said, changing the subject. "Shere Khan, isn't it?"
The tiger nodded. "Also known as the White Tiger Ranger."
"How exactly did that happen? No offense, but…you don't seem like the type to get dressed up in colorful spandex and fight in giant robots," Cloud asked. "Then again, I didn't think my…friends were that type either."
The others glared at him. "What's that supposed to mean?" Yuffie asked with a huff.
"I rather like fighting in this outfit," Aerith said.
"And Yellow really is my color," Tifa added.
"The outfits were Yuffie's idea," Leon grunted.
"And becoming superheroes in the first place was all Leon's idea," Cid said, causing Leon to glare at him.
"To be honest, I never expected to become a Power Ranger either," Khan admitted. "But, considering Ms. Lockhart seemed so set on it despite how incredibly dangerous it was, and how the rather lackluster performance of some of her teammates-" He did not look at Stitch or Yuffie as he said this. "Or the somewhat disappointing craftsmanship of some of the robots and vehicles she piloted-" He did not look at Cid as he said this. "Put her in just as much, if not even greater, danger than the monsters and villains she fights, I felt it might be best if I joined the team as well, to watch her back if for no other reason."
"You must not think much of the rest of the team's abilities, then," Cloud said, out of a somewhat petty urge to try and worsen Khan's relationship with the Rangers that he had once thought were his friends.
"Oh no, I have the greatest respect for their abilities," Khan said, causing the Rangers glaring at him to cheer up significantly. He was very careful not to add that he respected their abilities to get themselves into danger and cause more damage to the city they were fighting to save than the monsters they battled. Instead, he said, "I simply feel more at ease knowing that I can be there to assist her if she should ever find herself in a situation that her not unremarkable strength and fighting prowess can get her out of…which seems to be happening all too often, lately."
Khan smiled at her briefly, and she smiled back, looking happier than Cloud had ever recalled seeing her in a very long time. His heart sank, as he suddenly realized that maybe all the accusations his friends had made of him might have had an element of truth to them after all…and that because of his one-track focus on his mission to kill Sephiroth, he might have lost something that he had always taken for granted, something he hadn't even known he had or really cared about. And because of that, because he had turned her away time and time again, Tifa was lost to him forever, and it was nobody's fault but his own. This was not something he could blame on Sephiroth, for a change.
"It'd probably happen less often if a certain someone didn't keep messing with my Zords," Cid growled, glaring at Stitch and Yuffie, who feigned innocence. "Or if I could get my hands on better tools and equipment to build them—like the stuff you have--than the crap I'm saddled with now."
"Cid, do you really think it would be a good idea to leave equipment and tools like those lying about where Stitch or Yuffie could get their hands on them?" Tifa questioned.
Cid paused for a moment. "Hmm. Good point."
"Hey! Why does nobody think we're trustworthy with anything around here?!" Yuffie demanded, looking outraged.
"Because when you're not stealing anything that isn't nailed down or poking your nose where it doesn't belong, you're generally causing things to blow up," Leon said flatly.
Stitch giggled. "Cid's garage goes BOOM real good!"
"I rest my case," Leon grunted.
Aerith sighed. "I try so hard to discipline the two of them…but it doesn't seem to work very well. Perhaps I should consider trying more…unconventional methods." Her eyes flickered red briefly as she said this, and Yuffie and Stitch gulped.
Cloud nodded briefly, closing his eyes for a moment. "Well…I'm glad to see that my friends have someone responsible to look after them. Someone ELSE responsible, I mean," he said quickly as Leon, Tifa, and Aerith glared at him. "I think…I think they'll be fine with you around. And Tifa…Tifa probably couldn't have done better in choosing you. Congratulations."
Khan raised an eyebrow, puzzled. Tifa blinked, a concerned look on her face. "Cloud?"
Cloud sheathed his sword. "I have to get going. Those Sons of Sephiroth aren't going to find themselves, you know. (If anything, they'll get horribly lost.) Someone has to find them and make sure they don't hurt anyone else. Might as well be me. Take care of yourselves, everyone."
"Wait…you can't leave, you just got here!" Aerith protested.
Yuffie snorted. "When's that ever been a surprise with Cloud?"
"Typical pointy-haired kid…" Cid grumbled, looking disappointed.
Getting angry, Leon stepped forward. "You're just going to run away again?!"
Cloud glanced at Leon. "Running away? No." He looked over the color-coordinated group. As weird and dysfunctional as they looked, in some way he supposed they belonged together, and fit well with each other. "No." He shook his head sadly and turned his back to them. "I just know when I'm not needed anymore."
He walked away into the night. Or was it evening? Late afternoon? Eh, whatever, either way he walked away.
"Oh, lad…" Cait Sith said sadly, shaking his head in disappointment.
"What the heck was that about?" a confused Leon asked after a moment.
"No clue," said a troubled Tifa, who didn't look as if she had no clue. Khan frowned, getting the same vibes she was.
"Darn, and I was just about to ask him to become a Ranger too. Oh well," Yuffie said with a sigh. "Guess we'll have to ask that Barret guy if he wants to join the team."
Aerith frowned. "The one with the gun for an arm?"
"Ih! He's totally badass!" Stitch agreed enthusiastically.
"Absolutely not," Aerith said sternly. "We have enough trigger-happy people obsessed with explosions on this team, we don't need any more!"
"Awww," Yuffie and Stitch whined in disappointment.
Red XIII poked his head out of the nearby crater. "Can anyone explain what I'm doing down here?"
The Radiant Ultrazord spontaneously exploded in the background, flinging a wailing Herbimus Prime into the side of the nearby castle with a very loud and painful-sounding crunch of metal. Leon raised an eyebrow as the poor Transformer slid down the castle wall and Cid started cursing up a blue streak. "That's going to leave a mark…"
"Uh, Khan…" Tifa started, glancing at her boyfriend.
Shere Khan sighed. "Very well, I'll have that fixed too." He shook his head. "You certainly are a high-maintenance girlfriend, aren't you?" She glared at him. "I meant that in a good way," he said quickly.
"Is there a good way?" Yuffie asked Aerith. She shrugged.
"I really missed a lot, didn't I?" Red XIII asked Cait Sith.
The cat sighed. "Actually, ye might have lucked out, not having to be a conscious part of any of this…or get stuck underneath anything."
Tron sighed. "It's times like this I wonder if I should have taken that job offer from Mainframe after all…oh well. At least this'll make a nice new entry for my blog, 'Organics and the Foolish Behavior they engage in on a Regular Basis.' Why I once envied humans, I'll never know…"
It was very dark. And still. And quiet. It was not very pleasant at all.
"Hello?" a tiny, weak voice timidly whispered into the blackness. "Is anybody there?" One part of him desperately hoped that there was, that he was not the only one drifting in this endless void through eternity, that there was somebody, anybody, who could alleviate this soul-shattering loneliness.
Another part of him desperately hoped that there was not anyone else there, because any creature that could call this desolate plane 'home' was probably not anyone he would enjoy meeting.
He got a response. Much to his horror, he thought he recognized the voice. "I'm here," an ancient, reedy voice dripping with madness and hatred deep enough to swallow the stars replied. "I've been waiting for you."
His heart, if he still had one, stopped dead. "M-Mother?!"
The voice cackled insanely. "We're going to have so much fun together, just the two of us, alone forever…come to me, my son…COME TO MOTHER!"
And Oberon, no longer Lord of the Fae, screamed in terror and agony as his mother, the mad queen Mab, proceeded to devour his soul.
Satan's throne room in the palace of Pandemonium, erected in the center of the infernal city of Dis, shook with laughter as the myriad demons making up the Devil King's court watched the pathetic fool Oberon meet his fate on Satan's giant OverlordtronTM television set. The compressed souls making up the bricks of the palace walls wriggled and moaned in torment, their endless suffering exacerbated by the laughs of their oppressors and the horrible screams being emitted by the television set. The dried (and still animate) souls stretched across the palace ceiling also moaned in torment, but that might have been less because of Oberon's screams and more because their spiritual 'innards' had been ripped out of them and what was left was turned into wall hangings, as if they were no more than animal skins gathered from a hunt. It probably didn't help that winged demons were clawing at their flesh.
In his extremely luxurious recliner throne in a private balcony of the enormous chamber, Satan chortled and sipped blood from a cup made out of something's skull. He might have been laughing at Oberon's suffering, or because Lilith was giving him a blow job, it was hard to say. The six other Sin demons were spread out around the balcony, also enjoying the festivities (and Satan's women). Only one demon was deep in thought rather than having a good time, and that one was Belphegor. This was hardly surprising, for while Belphegoe was the Demon of Sloth, he was surprisingly clever and inventive. When he wasn't sleeping or slacking off, that was. Satan noticed that his underling did not seem to be enjoying himself and, somewhat offended, took it upon himself to figure out why. "Hey, goat-head! What's the matter, my ladies not good enough for you?" Satan's many concubines paused in their pleasuring of the other Sin demons and glared at Belphegor, who indeed was the only one of the group not having sex with anyone.
"Hmm? Oh no, they're as magnificent and sensual as always," Belphegor said somewhat distractedly. "There's just something I've been puzzling over…something that does not quite add up."
Satan raised an eyebrow. "Oh? And what would that be?"
"Maybe why, despite being an animal both above and below, he gets the fewest ladies?" sneered Mammon, who naturally had the most demonesses around him; he was the Demon of Greed after all.
"OR MAYBE WHY HE SO PUNY COMPARED TO MOLOCH-BAAL?" Moloch-Baal bellowed, flexing his enormous muscles.
"Most demons are smaller than you, Moloch-Baal, and at least I use the most important muscle in the body, one which you never do," Belphegor retorted.
Moloch-Baal stared blankly. "…MOLOCH-BAAL NOT UNDERSTAND. WHAT MUSCLE IS MOLOCH-BAAL NOT USING? MOLOCH-BAAL TRAINS EVERY PART OF MOLOCH-BAAL'S BODY!"
Lucifer snorted. "He's talking about your brain, you idiot."
"OH." Moloch-Baal blinked. "…MOLOCH-BAAL STILL NOT UNDERSTAND."
Everyone groaned. Belphegor smirked. "I believe I've proven my point."
Satan chuckled. "Okay smart guy, you done shown your brains…now cut to the chase and tell me what's bothering you before I lose my patience and tear off your horns, drive them through your eyes, and skewer that fancy mind o' yours on their tips."
Belphegor glanced at Satan. "You let Oberon crash Maleficent's wedding, didn't you?"
The merriment drained from the balcony like water from a leaky bucket. Satan frowned, the mood suddenly becoming much darker and dangerous. "What makes you say that?"
"You could easily have warded the chamber to keep any uninvited guests from intruding…and yet you did not. You could also have killed Oberon the instant he entered the chapel and shattered that silly little jewel of his…but instead, you let him say his piece, then got us all banished before we could attack him." Belphegor stroked his chin. "If it were anyone else…say, Lucifer or Moloch-Baal…"
"HEY!" the two demons in question yelled.
"I would chalk it up to overconfidence. Or sheer stupidity. But you, Satan…you're too smart for that. You're even more devious than I," the Demon of Sloth said. "You always have a plan or a hidden agenda. Which means that the only reason Oberon was able to break into the chapel and cause all the havoc he did was because you wanted him to." He frowned. "The only thing I can't figure out is why. While Oberon did indeed cause much chaos and suffering, all of which profited us, and we gained the opportunity to completely destroy Avalon…most of the damage you and Oberon caused in your great battle was mended when all was finished, save of course for Avalon. I doubt you would have gone to all that trouble and waste of energy just for a little fun. You must have had something else in mind…but as I said, I cannot quite figure out what that is. Perhaps you could shed some light on this matter?"
Satan stared at Belphegor for a moment, as did everyone else on the balcony. Even Lilith looked up from what she was doing to give the clever goat-headed demon a look. Finally, Satan began to chuckle, low and deep and dark. "Hehehehe…well done, Belphegor. I figured that if anyone woulda realized something was up, it would be you. Heheheheh. Yes. Yes, I did let Oberon enter the chapel, temporarily banish us, kidnap Maleficent and a buncha other magical mofos, and nearly destroy the galaxy."
Belphegor nodded in vindication while the other demons gave Satan astonished looks. "But…why?!" asked a startled Leviathan. "What reason, other than shits and giggles, would you have to do something like that?!"
Satan grinned, his gold teeth and red eyes glinting. "Because…of a prophecy."
"A prophecy?" Lilith repeated, looking perplexed.
Satan nodded. "Tell me, y'all…have any of you ever heard of the Dark Prognosticus?"
From the looks on everyone's faces, only Belphegor and Mammon did. It was not surprising that Mammon knew, after all, he was the Demon of Greed, and so knew everything about every bit of treasure and wealth in the universe. "The Dark Prognosticus is a legendary book of evil prophecy of unknown authorship and origin that foretells dark futures and only brings misery and woe to the fools who seek their fortunes in its pages. Every prophecy written within it causes nothing but suffering, destruction and chaos…so, naturally, it is a great asset to evil beings such as us," said Mammon.
Belphegor frowned. "However, it was lost some time ago after the prophecy on its last page, foretelling a great Void which would consume all worlds, was kept from coming to pass. Great Satan, how were you able to find it?"
Satan laughed ruefully. "To be honest, I didn't find it…it found me! It fell out of a dimensional crack one day and hit me on the head…I woulda destroyed it on the spot, if I hadn't immediately recognized it for what it was and realized what I could do with it. While many of the events it predicted have either already come to pass or have been prevented from occurring, there are still quite a few evil potential futures foretold within its pages…and one of them springs from a prophecy which claims that letting Oberon crash the wedding and go on a rampage will indirectly lead to evil's supremacy over the cosmos. Naturally, that is the prophecy I set into motion."
Moloch-Baal scratched his head in confusion. "MOLOCH-BAAL NOT UNDERSTAND. MASTAH S LET MEAN ELF MAN CRASH WEDDING BECAUSE BOOK TOLD HIM TO?"
Beelzebub clicked his mandibles agitatedly. "Yes, that is a little unlike you, Satan, to put your faith in prophecy…especially considering how ambiguous and open to misinterpretation they usually are!"
Mammon smirked. "Other prophecies, maybe…but the Dark Prognosticus was written by evil hands, and intended for evil use. In the right villain's hands, the prophecies are almost as clear and understandable as glass, while for others they would be as opaque as mud. And who better to wield such a tome than the master of evil himself?"
Satan nodded. "Yep! The prophecy seemed pretty clear to me…it said, and I quote, 'When the blue-skinned Lord of the Fae loses his mind and interrupts the wedding of the Devil's daughter dragon woman of green flame to a fat oaf named Pete, kidnaps the Devil's daughter and many of her guests, and attempts to absorb all magic in the universe, his inevitable defeat at the hands of the Ultimate Dark Lord (yours truly, of course) and the Chosen Keybearer destined to unlock the Door to the Light will open the way for evil's eventual dominance over all creation.' Not much ambiguity in that, now is there? Lays everything out in black and white, clear as day: Letting Oberon do his thing will allow evil to win in the end. Only thing it didn't tell me is HOW my defeating Oberon with Sora's help would lead to our ultimate victory, but I figured that once I set all the pieces in motion everything would become clear. And so it has." He laughed. "I'm one bad sonuvabitch, yo!"
"That does seem to be a rather perceptible prophecy," Lucifer admitted. "Not much room for misinterpretation there."
"But how did you manipulate everything so that the outcome you wanted would come to pass?" Belphegor asked, fascinated.
Satan snorted. "It was pretty simple, actually…the hardest part was gettin' Maleficent to marry that overweight lummox Pete in the first place, since until recently neither o' them showed even the slightest interest in each other! I couldn't tell either of them my plans to convince them to get married for the sole purpose of fulfilling the prophecy and helping evil win, since I knew they would either object to their part in it or try to take advantage of it to gain power for themselves, which would of course screw up everything. Plus, there was a chance that if the marriage was faked, the prophecy wouldn't take…that kind of shit's happened before. So, I had to make them think that they actually loved each other and actually wanted to marry each other using subtle telepathic prodding and by causing certain events to happen from the shadows which would force them to rely on each other and grow closer to each other and eventually form an actual relationship. After that, it didn't take much effort to make them think they should get married, and that it was their own idea. Everything after that was easy as pie…I just had to sneak Oberon and Sora's names onto the guest list and play up to Babygirl's ego to make her think that inviting them would be a good thing. After that, everything fell into place like a well-arranged set of dominoes." He laughed. "And now the prophecy has been fulfilled…and the way to our final triumph has been opened!"
The other Sin demons were impressed. "You effectively brainwashed and tricked your own daughter into thinking she was in love with that idiot Pete so that she'd marry him, and then let her get kidnapped right at the altar all so you could fulfill a prophecy without even being entirely certain what the final outcome would be?" asked an amazed Lucifer.
"Not to mention he used Oberon's banishment of us as an excuse to invade and destroy Avalon, even though he had planned for us to get banished all along," Mammon added.
"Dude, now that's evil!" Beelzebub hissed.
"It's no wonder you're the Big Man down here," Leviathan said somewhat enviously. (Which wasn't really a surprise, he was the Demon of Envy, after all.)
"But how did causing all that strengthen the forces of evil?" asked a puzzled Lilith. "I mean, yes, Maleficent's forming a coalition of villains from all over the universe to try and extinguish the light forever in a vast interstellar war, but she would have done that anyway even if you hadn't masterminded the events at her wedding. How did causing the prophecy to come true further our goals?"
Satan chuckled. "To be honest, I only figured it out recently…even when I was in the middle of the whole thing, whupping Oberon, I still wasn't sure how the Hell this was gonna benefit me, other than providing me with a good fight and some entertainment! So, rather than blindly adhering to prophecy and hoping the thing I wanted would just 'happen', I decided to prepare in advance by tricking Pete and Xehanort into awakening the Great Old Ones and giving Sora the cursed Hellblazer keychain in hopes that it would eventually corrupt him and bend him to my will. Both events would certainly be a great boon to evil, and both would have occurred due to the wedding, so might have been what the prophecy referred to." He shook his head and grinned. "However, Fate works in ways that not even I anticipated, because she's a real fucking bitch who I've got to get around to boning some day. The Chasers destroyed the Hellblazer before it could corrupt Sora and gave him the much safer Acrossing Two keychain instead, and the Great Old Ones have been moving much slower in their orgy of destruction than I had hoped, possibly because they're still somewhat lethargic from their long nap. I need to remember to send them some coffee…that might shake em' up a bit.
"Anyway, both my contingency plans failed…but even so, the prophecy was fulfilled, and we stand on the brink of a new age of eternal darkness! Still wondering why that is? Good; I'll tell you. It's all Sora's fault. Without knowing it, that kid may have brought forth the doom of all worlds."
The Sin demons clearly didn't get it. Moloch-Baal was clutching his head and wailing in pain, all this complex planning and evil genius overwhelming his tiny brain. Belphegor, on the other hand, comprehended what Satan was talking about at once. "The magic Sora released from within Oberon's body. His Keyblade's contaminated it, hasn't it?"
Satan nodded. "That's right! When he released all the energy and people Oberon captured, without even knowing it he planted seeds in their hearts…seeds which could one day bloom and give those people the power to wield Keyblades! And you know what that means…"
They did. "A new Keyblade war," Lucifer whispered, eyes gleaming in reverence.
"We almost won the last one," Beelzebub buzzed gleefully. "We've always said that if we had a second chance, we'd do better…"
Leviathan nodded in agreement. "And now we will!"
"With the anarchy and chaos this new war will cause…especially if we can turn enough of the new Keybearers to our side…the forces of good will finally fall," Lilith said, her eyes glowing with the lust for blood and destruction that made Satan prize her so.
"MOLOCH-BAAL WILL CRUSH THE LIGHT! NO ONE WILL STOP MOLOCH-BAAL THIS TIME!" Moloch-Baal roared.
Mammon cackled greedily. "And then at last, everything will belong to us…"
Belphegor nodded in respect. "Very well done, Satan. You have most masterfully engineered beneficial events to occur in our favor…however, there is still one thing you have not explained. One thing which still troubles me." He gave his king a searching look. "How could you have known that Oberon would not only lose his mind but, once at the wedding, would decide to go on his rampage for magic throughout the galaxy? Your entire plan, and the prophecy, hinged on that single act of madness. How could you have known that he would that it?" The demon of Sloth was pretty sure he already knew the answer. He just wanted to hear Satan say it.
He was not disappointed. Satan's form shook with a booming laugh as he gave his generals a malevolent grin and told them the answer to Belphegor's question, an answer which would confirm for them once again why Satan, out of all the demons in Hell and vile beings throughout the universe, was the true master of evil. "Who do you think drove the Smurf insane in the first place?"
Or is it?
…Yeah, yeah it is.
Well, that's that. Now off to the Pokemon section! I don't suppose any of you will join me there? I look forward to hearing from you again soon.
And with that, so long Kingdom Hearts…for now, anyway. Seeya!