Woody, Buzz, Mickey and Peter arrived at the sight of their previous ill-fated scuffle, but no-one else was there… yet.
"So, now that we're out of that prison, what do you plan to do about Teridax?" Asked Mickey. "CI said it wouldn't be a good idea to go up against him under normal circumstances, let alone now he has the Orb. Then again, CI didn't know about my sorcery..."
"We should probably get moving." Said Buzz. "No doubt this ship has security cameras".
"Looks like it's a bit late for that", said Peter, pointing to a group of three armoured soldiers walking towards them.
Their armour was silver in colour, with large, round shoulders and one arm-cannon resembling those of Samus' armour, but domed helmet and what looked to be folded-in wings like those on Buzz's. Unlike Buzz's armour, the dome was translucent green instead of clear, making it difficult to see the face of the soldiers inside.
"Looks like they've been copying armour designs from your suit, and Samus', and combining them." Said Woody, drawing his pistol.
"Yeah." Buzz frowned. "So your six shooter's not going to do much good."
The armoured spacemen began shooting at them. Buzz tried to cut through one suit of armour with his laser. He aimed at a weak spot in his own armour, but that design flaw had been neatly covered with Samus' designs, and the beam was deflected off the silver surface. Woody's gun had no more luck, and Mickey tried a variety of spells with little effectiveness.
Finally, he tried one more spell, a ghostly wave of blue light emitting from his hands. There was a flash of blue inside the warrior's helmet, and the suit fell motionless. Mickey jumped slightly as a huge crash came from the other side of the room, where Buzz had cut out a section of the ceiling and dropped it on the other two, trapping them under the debris.
"What are those suits made of?" Asked Woody, shocked at the difficulty of taking down three common soldiers wearing those suits.
"Nothing we did could damage them." Said Mickey, with some trepidation. "I only beat this guy by using a spell that can phase through physical objects, and you only trapped the others under the ceiling."
Woody nodded, and an idea struck him. "Hey Buzz," He said. "Do you think you could use that suit? It shouldn't be too different than the one you're wearing, right?"
"The green glass creeps me out a little, but it IS a lot tougher." Buzz said.
"What if it's rigged to explode or something?" Asked Peter.
"No ordinary bomb could damage that thing, so bombs on the outside wouldn't hurt you, and bombs on the inside would only incinerate the wearer." Said Buzz. "That's a risk I'm willing to take."
"And I could magically block any bugs." Said Mickey.
"Alright, give it a try if you're sure." Said Woody, still not convinced. Despite the toughness of the armour, it had seemed almost too easy to take a suit...
"So how far are we from this room you sent the others to?" Asked Blade as he, Jack, Stitch, Spawn and the Punisher tried to track down the others.
He and the Punisher had taken Spawn up on his offer of teleportation, along with Bee, Beast Boy, Kon, Guy and Lee, but the others had rushed off. They had no idea where Luffy was. He'd tried to 'make his own way across', and they had had no luck explaining to him that the prison was on a different starship from their enemies.
"No idea." Said Stitch. "This ship is huge. Probably the flagship, or at least flagshippish. The Kraata Teridax stuck all over me were all that stopped me getting lost before now. Don't worry though, with enough of us wandering around here someone's bound to find their way to something important...
One of the walls flickered with static. After the initial reaching for their weapons, the group realized it was a screen. It flickered to life, showing a dark room where Ghost Rider was chained, lit only by his flames.
A pair of glowing red eyes appeared in the shadows, somehow not lighting the area around them. "You have broken out of your chains and rose up against me once more." Said Teridax. "This was most foolish of you. Because of this, all of you shall die."
"Not if we have anything to say about it." Said Stitch, but Teridax went on.
"You think you are powerful enough to pose a threat to me. Some of you might even think yourself invincible. But even the mightiest warrior can fall."
Teridax stepped partially into the light of Ghost Rider's flaming head, and laid a hand on the shoulder of the spirit of vengence.
Immediately, Ghost Rider started to show signs of weakness. When he fell to his knees, Teridax lifted him in one hand. In a flash of light, Ghost Rider shattered into a thousand pieces, portals appearing all around the Makuta and suckin the pieces away.
"It need not come to this." Said Teridax. "I have what I need from most of you already. Bring me the other four Instruments of Time and I will allow you to go free. No-one else need die..."
They heard no more from this as Spawn destroyed the screen completely with a blast of Necroplasm.
"Never thought he could take out someone as strong as Ghost Rider so easily..." said Stitch.
"He already had Ghost Rider as a prisoner." Said Spawn. "He never stood a chance..."
"Well." Jack clapped his hand. "As I'm sure he has no intention of letting any of us live, even if we give him what he wants, I suggest we press on then, yes?"
"He's not going to get away with this..." said the Punisher.
"My. My. The dog has broken off his leash." Said a voice from behind them. They turned to see Roodaka and Kratos, Roodaka generating a Sleep Spinner as Kratos drew his blades. "I hear you're not taking Master Teridax up on his generous offer? Such a pity"
"I wondered which lackeys Teridax would send first." Said Stitch. "Weren't you the one who tried to make me play that humiliating game of fetch? I would worry about your own leash first..."
Roodaka lunged first, but Stitch grabbed her hand before her claws made contact. She begin to generate a spinner in her other hand, but before she could launch it, she fell into a deep sleep as the Punisher pushed the sleep spinner he had stolen from her in Halloween Town into her face.
She collapsed to the ground, and Stitch stepped over her, dusting his hands off.
"I have no leash." Said Kratos, blades drawn "Teridax does not control me!"
"Really?" said Stitch. "It seems as if he's been calling the shots the whole time. And the legends may be exaggerated a little, but the Ghost of Sparta I heard about would never have let Teridax be the only one with full control over such an Instrument."
Kratos lunged with a blade aimed at Stitch's chest, but the Experiment grabbed the flat edges of the blade with two hands. The blades inched closer to him, and as he was forced to hold back the blade with all four hands, his feet began to dig into the floor. Kratos threw the other blade, the chain connecting the two wrapping round Stitch's neck.
Kratos looked to the left. He'd almost forgotten Spawn, Blade, and Jack Skellington were standing there, pointing their weapons at him.
"Need a little help fuzzy?" Blade asked.
"…No, I can handle… this…" Stitch said with an effort.
"Oh, for crying out loud." Spawn blasted Kratos back against the wall, and as the spartan got back up, Spawn blasted him back again, this time through the wall, knocking him out.
"Thanks for that." Said Stitch. "Not that I didn't have him on the ropes."
"Just keep moving." Spawn rolled his eyes.
"Is he seriously going to try what I think he's going to try?" Snake asked, as Luffy took a deep breath and stepped into the airlock facing the flagship.
"He couldn't be THAT crazy..." Replied Samus, as the inside door of the airlock closed.
"GUM GUM..." Began Luffy, before the outside doors opened and all sound was lost.
"Looks like he IS that crazy..." Said Snake
"You shouldn't have let your friends go on without you." Shao Kahn scolded. He was standing over Peter's dying (again) body. "Did you think somehow you would be a match for me this time, after what I did to you last time?"
"Kill me all you want." Said Peter. "At least I'll come back..."
"Then perhaps I'll keep you as a plaything, and kill you again and again. See how many times you can die before your body is dead throughout every moment of your existence." Kahn whispered threateningly. "I'm sure that would provide me some amusement..."
The door to the room opened, sucking everything in it towards the door and the vaccum of space for a moment. "ROCKET!" Luffy screamed, before he pulled himself through and closed it.
"That was close." said Luffy to himself. "I forgot I couldn't yell and hold my breath at the same time... But it was so fun!"
"Who dares interrupt my duel!?" Demanded Kahn.
"Oi, old kid, it looks like you could use some help." Said Luffy, either not realising who Kahn was talking to or ignoring him completely.
"Like I'd take help from a pirate!" Said Peter, before Kahn grabbed him and threw him to the side.
"Oh, that's right." Luffy sighed. "Pirates are usually the bad guys. Well, let me know if you change your mind." And with that, he started walking off.
"No-one walks away from Kahn without my permission." Kahn grunted, swinging his hammer at Luffy's head, an attack that usually took his enemies' heads clean off but in this case only resulted in his head flying to one side on his elasticated neck and boinging back into place. Luffy turned round suddenly.
"Hey, you're one of Teridax's crew aren't you?"
"YOU'RE ONLY REALISING THAT NOW?" Exclaimed Peter.
"He and I have a few shared interests." Shao Kahn said with a sneer. "I suppose you could describe us as a crew."
Luffy punched the demonic ruler in the face. "You're weak." He said, not even bothering to watch the body crumple onto the ground.
Spawn threw open the doors of Teridax's personal chamber. The huge room was pitch black, the only visible light coming from a row of tubes containing Rahkshi down each side of the room, and the echo of the group's footsteps could be clearly heard.
"Alright guys." Blade said. "I've been down this road before. These tube monsters? They're going to wake up, bust out of their tubes, and try to kill us. It always happens. Just a head up."
"You don't need to tell me." Stitch said, tapping on the glass with interest. His head twisted 180 degrees on his neck, and he gave Blade a wide smile. "I used to be a monster in a tube."
"You have turned down my generosity." Teridax's voice boomed out of the shadows. "That shall be your last mistake..."
The tubes all shattered, allowing what had to be hundreds of Rahkshi of various colours, but after the glow of the tubes died down it became impossible to tell.
"Called it." Blade muttered.
"Just to be clear, you can all see in the dark, yes?" Stitch asked the team.
The answer was a unanimous yes.
The group fought back Rahkshi after Rahkshi, Spawn blasting them apart with his necroplasm, Stitch grabbing them and throwing them into the others or tearing them apart, Punisher gunning them down with a pair of small machine guns, Blade decapitating any that got near and Jack using his agility to use their powers against each other.
But they couldn't hold out forever...
Stitch recoiled. "What's wrong?" asked Jack.
"Burned my hands." Said Stitch. "Must have grabbed a Plasma one..."
He could see in the dark well enough, but he saw all in green. The others were having similar color problems.
Blade looked round for a split-second, before turning back to block a Rahkshi staff only to have his katana shatter as the brown Rahkshi's staff made contact. Spawn destroyed the Rahkshi with his Necroplasm before it could finish off Blade, but in doing so left himself open to the poisonous green Rahkshi on his other side...
Suddenly, a blade flew out of nowhere, stabbing the Rahkshi through the chest before an attached chain pulled it towards the blade's owner, who slashed it in two.
"Came to your senses, did you?" Asked Spawn.
"You were right." Kratos said, stepping forward to join the others. "Teridax has been manipulating me. But I am on no man's leash."
"What about the leash of a god?" Teridax asked, emerging from the shadows. "You seem to have made short of my Rahkshi, But your efforts are in vain. Without the Orb, you might have stood a chance. But now, my powers stretch throughout time and space"
"Then let us see the weight of these powers!" Cried another voice from nowhere. The lights in the room switched on, blinding everybody with brilliant white. Guy ran out from behind the team, faster than their eyes could track.
"Leaf Hurricane!" He shouted, delivering a powerful spinning kick to Teridax's side.
A slight cracking sound was heard before Teridax blasted the green-clad ninja back against one of the less-damaged Rahkshi tubes with a cyclone, shattering it entirely.
A second blur flew through the door, a red glowing beast in the shape of an ox with eight octopus-like tentacles instead of back legs. "Lariat!" shouted the beast in Bee's voice as his arm collided with Teridax's stomach. Teridax was about to throw him aside with a wave of darkness before Krato's chain blade stabbed into his hand, the chain wrapping around it twice. Teridax teleported away from Bee and the chain, appearing between his attackers and the way out to see Luffy running towards him through the corridor. "GUM-GUM... BAZOOKA!"
Teridax grabbed Luffy's arm with ease, swinging him round like a whip to knock back Stitch, Blade and Jack, who were leaping towards him from the other side.
"Got you!" Said Woody, catching the ball of heroes.
Mickey launched a ball of light into Teridax's side where Guy's kick had weakened the armour. The armour shattered, leaving a crack a little bigger than a human head in Teridax's side, through which black gas started to spill.
"You guys took your time." Said Stitch, getting up.
"We were held back a little by Teridax's allies." Guy said.
"That Sephiroth guy sure was a handful, but with some help I turned him to landfill." Said Bee.
"Not really." Said Beast Boy. "You only forced him to admit you were a skilled fighter, then he left to see if he could find that Cloud guy."
"Handful rhymes with landfill, yo." Bee said crossly.
Luffy picked his nose.
"It... doesn't really." Said Woody.
"If you're in search of rhymes, perhaps I could lend a hand?" Jack asked, with perhaps a bit more glee than was necessary.
"Focus, people!" said Buzz.
Teridax teleported to the back of the chamber, clutching the hole in his side where the darkness seemed to be leaking out, and summoned another portal. Sephiroth, Vader, Kahn, Kratos, Roodaka, Chrysalis and another Stitch (still crawling with Kraata) drifted out, all seemingly unharmed.
These must be their past selves, thought Woody. Before we fought them...
"Hey!" Luffy yelled. "It's those jerks!"
Spawn charged forward, followed by the others.
One by one, as Teridax's allies from the past moved in to attack them, members of the group broke off to hold them back; Kratos, Bee, Peter, Blade, Punisher, Jack and Stitch, until only Spawn, Woody, Buzz, Luffy and Mickey got through unhindered.
Teridax fired a barrage of lasers, spheres of darkness, bolts of lightning and heat rays at the group, but Luffy and Spawn dodged or blocked each one, preventing any of them from hitting Woody. Spawn got to the Makuta first, colliding with Teridax in a Necroplasm-infused punch to the face that shattered more of Teridax's armour. But as the Makuta fell, his body shifted, tendrils bursting from his chest and binding Spawn, pulling him down with him
But it was too late. Spawn and Teridax both fell, plunging into a pool of silvery liquid. As Woody, Buzz and Mickey ran over to the now-bubbling pool, bursts of light came from the pool, as though a battle was raging beneath its surface, but they could see nothing of Spawn or the Makuta beneath the surface.
"What's going on in there?" Asked Woody.
"At a guess?" said Mickey. "Spawn and Teridax have lost their physical bodies to this liquid. They're still fighting in there, but they're battling throughout that pool as pure energy."
"If one of us went in there..." Began Woody.
"They're both basically dark energy beings contained in a physical body, it's how they do their shapeshifting. You're not." Answered Stitch, holding back Shao Kahn's hammer with three hands while his forth held Kahn's hand back from tearing his throat out. "You'd either die instantly –"
"Or become fused with either Teridax, Spawn or both." Mickey finished for him, crossly.
"Maybe Woody couldn't." said Buzz. "But with this armour, maybe I could?"
"The suit is partially composed of the same material as the liquid, except non-energised and solid." Said Stitch. "Theoretically it would work, but Teridax could just possess the suit..."
"I could enchant the suit to resist dark intervention." said Mickey. "But if you dived in there, it would only be to retrieve the Orb. There's nothing we can do for Spawn right now. Also, keep in mind, the enchantments will only last five minutes in that intense of darkness."
"Understood." Buzz said, as Mickey applied the enchantments. "I'll be back before the time is up!"
Woody and the others waited for Buzz to return.
"We have the Orb, let's get out of here." Said Peter. Shao Kahn, Sephiroth and Vader lay unconscious on the ground as Blade, Punisher, Luffy, Guy, Lee, Kon, Beast Boy, Killer Bee, Stitch, Jack and Peter rejoined the others.
"Not yet." Woody said. "Buzz is still in there.
But eventually, the five minutes had passed.
"Buzz!" shouted Woody. "Buzz! Come on out buddy, don't do this to us!"
The silvery waters were silent in response.
Until suddenly, a mass of many-limbed silver mutant figures emerged.
"Everybody get back!" Stitch yelled, somewhat in awe of the sight. Most of the liquid drained away, and the strange silver beings melted away one by one until only two humanoid figures remained, the liquid running off them to reveal Buzz and Spawn.
But something was wrong.
"Stay back!" cried Buzz, his armour giving off an aura of darkness. "My armour's been taken over!"
"I'll deal with this." Said Mickey, conjuring a ball of light in his hands and launching it at Buzz. The darkness parted around the domed helmet, glowing cracks appearing in its surface. Spawn ran up to Buzz and punched the helmet, shattering the glass, before pulling Buzz out of the armour.
The armour raised an arm, firing a blast from its arm-cannon at Spawn, who dodged the blast effortlessly, before Mickey launched another ball of light at the armour blasting it into a wall. Woody summoned another portal, dropping Buzz's original armour in front of him.
"Are we done here?" Peter asked.
"We should probably finish these three off before we leave." Said the Punisher, cocking his gun at Vader, Kahn, and Sephiroth.
"Agreed." Kratos said.
"That would be unwise", said Mickey. "Teridax has messed with time around them enough as it is without us complicating matters."
"Mickey's right." Woody said.
Before the others could argue, a portal formed beneath them and whisked the three away.
"Did... you summon that?" Mickey asked.
"No..." said Woody, conjuring up a portal. "Come on guys, let's go before someone else gets here looking for the Orb."
Luffy, Kon and Beast Boy raced through first, and Peter, Mickey, Bee, Stitch, Buzz, Guy and Lee all followed.
Woody only just saw the blade coming in time to duck. Jack wasn't so lucky, his head rolling across the room as his body toppled through the portal.
Spawn caught the Orb in one hand as it fell from Woody's hands, quickly closing the portal and trapping the others on the other side. In the other he held Sephiroth's Masamune.
"Spawn! What's going on?" asked Woody.
"Fool." 'Spawn' laughed. "You assumed my identity from my appearance?"
"Then... you're..." Began Woody, reaching for his gun, but Teridax fired a laser from Spawn's eyes and cut the pistol in two. As he advanced toward Woody he heard Blade, Punisher and Kratos draw their weapons. Without looking round, dark hands erupted from his back, pinning the three to the walls.
Then a bolt of energy hit him in the hand, destroying his righ hand completely and sending the Orb rolling across the ground. Woody looked in the direction of the blast to see Buzz's possessed armour struggle to its feet.
If Teridax is here, then the armour must be...
Teridax was more focused on something else.
The stump where Spawn's hand had been was bleeding. It had been so long since Teridax had been a flesh-and-blood creature, the shock left him stunned.
But not for long.
Woody grabbed Jack's skull as he and Teridax-Spawn dived for the orb. They both grabbed it simultaneously, and both tried to summon a portal at the same time.
The two tumbled through time and space, emerging for a split-second in places either of them had thought to go, before falling through another portal in a whirl of colours and sounds. Finally, they both lost their grip on the golden sphere, sending Woody (and Jack's head), Teridax and the Orb of Continua flying off through seperate portals...
"...and that's how I ended up here." Explained Woody.
"Obviously Teridax though he'd try to flee back home." Tahu said. "But where is he now?"