A/N: I tried posting this earlier, but the chapter wasn't showing up. I guess everyone was having issues, and yeah... anyway. Apologies to those of you who may have gotten repeat alerts.
Chapter VII. Friendship is Hell
In which Team Seven encounters a new kind of hell called Ponyville.
"Wow," Naruto was breathless. "There really are other worlds. I mean, I know we met some travelers, but... but wow!"
Team Seven had materialized in front of Ouran High's portal several minutes ago, and they were still standing at the entrance, taking a slight breather.
"It's Sasuke's turn to pick next. Then you, then Kakashi-sensei." Sakura's tone brooked no argument. "So, where to next, Sasuke-kun?"
Sasuke contemplated his options for a moment before leading the group past a series of doors. He stopped decisively in front of one of the gates they had passed earlier that day.
"Uh, Sasuke? This is the portal back to Konoha..."
"Yes. Yes it is."
Naruto grinned. "Whelp, since Sasuke's skipping his turn, I guess it's me next!"
Sasuke bit the inside of his cheek to keep from yelling out. It wouldn't do to ruin his carefully concocted stoic-and-apathetic image... or whatever was left of it after the Host Club debacle.
Naruto was weighing his options aloud when a series of shouts interrupted his train of thought.
"Kakarot, you idiot!"
"Aw, come on, Vegeta! It's not my fault it looked like a donut."
Two blurred figures zoomed through the hall at an incredible speed and came to a halt a good twenty feet in front of them. Both men had extremely bulky muscles, ridiculously styled black hair that stuck out at odd angles and were levitating in midair.
The taller one—Kakarot, the shorter one had called him—must have been the leader, Naruto surmised, since he was dressed in a bright orange outfit. Naruto was pretty sure that wearing orange was mandatory for main characters. ..Pretty sure. (And if not, it obviously should be.)
In Kakarot's arms was what looked like miniature carbon copy of himself, right down to the very last piece of spiked hair. The child in question was currently struggling to get free from his father's grip—he was being held upside down to boot, but his father didn't seem to notice. The boy eventually bit Goku in the arm, who finally dropped the child and continued to blankly smile as Vegeta ranted.
"Finally!" The little boy somersaulted in mid-air before floating to the floor. Loosely dangling from his neck was a very familiar amulet. "Thanks dad!"
Something was not quite right.
"Um..." Sakura approached the two intimidating yet goofy looking men. "Excuse me."
The Saiyans' conversation ceased and they stared at her curiously, as if noticing the other group's presence for the first time.
"Sorry to interrupt, but do you think it's safe to let your son hold onto that?" Sakura pointed towards the amulet, which was currently lodged in the small child's mouth. Apparently it wasn't edible.
"Oh, sure! Goten's a good boy! He's almost eight now, right, Vegeta?"
Several prominent veins were visible on the shorter man's forehead as he growled out an indecipherable response.
"Hey, I wonder if there's any food around here? I'm starving!"
Naruto perked up at this and took the opportunity to enter the conversation. "There's loads of free food around here!"
"Wow, really? That's great! What kinds?"
Sakura groaned; Sasuke and Kakashi looked equally displeased but were too busy trying to put up a tough facade in front of the dauntingly muscular Saiyans to outwardly react.
After listening to Naruto list in great detail the types of food served at GLaDOS's picnic lunches, Sakura had just about had enough, and was ready to tell him so when she noticed Goten wander off out of the corner of her eye. He appeared to be innocently exploring right up until he took to the air and flew straight into a portal.
Neither of the newcomers noticed his disappearance.
"Uh, Kakarot?" Sakura said hesitantly.
"Kakarot? Oh! My name's Goku."
"Don't listen to him. That's just his human name. His real name is Kakarot."
"Right... okay. Goku, Kakarot, whatever. Your son just flew off through a portal. Didn't you even notice?!"
"Eh?" Goku blinked at her.
Vegeta's eyes nearly bulged out of his head. "What? Gods, not again! This is fucking ridiculous!"
"Don't worry about it, Vegeta! Goten'll be fine. He's a natural adventurer, just like his fath-"
Goku's words were cut off as Vegeta fired off a ki blast straight at his head, which he easily deflected into a nearby wall pillar, causing the whole section to explode. Pieces of debris and dust flew everywhere and a high-pitched alarm began going off.
"Vegeta!" Goku chided sternly. "Now look what you've done!"
"SHUT UP! Stop being a terrible father and go find your weakling son already! Argh! I've had it! Fine! I'll go get him myself!" Vegeta blasted off and attempted to fly though the nearest portal before stopping abruptly. He had a pained look on his face, as if he wanted to ask something but couldn't bring himself to do it.
Sakura sighed and pointed in the opposite direction. "He went through that one."
"Of course. I knew that." Three seconds later, Vegeta had vanished through the gateway.
Goku watched him excitedly. "Wait for me, Vegeta! We can work together! Hey, it's too bad Trunks isn't with us, or it'd be just like our monthly camping trip-" The Saiyan's last word was cut off as he followed his two companions through the portal.
Naruto was staring at the portal in awe as the security alarm continued to blare in the background. Half a dozen advanced looking androids were swooping down the hall equipped with dustpans and handheld vacuum cleaners.
"That was awesome!" He finally gushed. "I pick that one!" Naruto pointed towards the gate the three Saiyans had entered earlier.
"Where does it lead, exactly?"
Naruto rolled his eyes at Sakura. "Don't know, don't care! Let's go!"
It was beautiful. No, beautiful wasn't strong enough. Gorgeous. Dazzling. To die for.
"The lush meadows... the bright, clear blue sky, the sparse sprinkles of perfectly formed fluffy cumulus clouds. The faint but cool breeze..!" Sakura sighed wistfully.
"I hope you're not planning on becoming a poet."
"Quiet, Kakashi-sensei. Naruto, where did you say this portal took us, again?"
"I didn't say," Naruto chuckled. "But I guess we'll find-"
"Oh god... what the hell is that thing?!"
"Eh? Sasuke, calm—Oh. Oh man. Sakura, Kakashi-sensei! I think it saw us! What are we gonna do?!"
"There's nowhere to hide," Kakashi tensed. "We'll have to fight our way out."
"Damn, it's almost here."
Naruto was readying a Rasengan when Sakura kicked him in the shin. "Stop it, you idiots! It's just a-"
"Hi guys!" The creature was hopping towards them. "Wow, you don't look like any pony I've ever seen before!"
"-a pony," Sakura finished, glaring at the three of them angrily. "And it talks! That's adorable," she cooed. "Hello to you too! I'm Sakura, and these are my retarded friends."
The pony standing in front of her didn't look like any pony she'd ever seen before, either. To start with, the creature's coat was bright pink, nearly matching the color of Sakura's hair, and its magenta-colored mane poofed out of her scalp.
Naruto hesitantly stepped forward and feigned a sheepish smile in an attempt to appease Sakura. "And I'm Naruto... nice to... meet you?"
The pony's mouth hung open, and her large, bulbous eyes were wide with barely contained excitement—much larger than any pony's had a right to be.
"Who are you? What are you? You can't possibly be a pony! I know every pony, and I do mean every single pony in Ponyville! So trust me, buster, I've seen a lot of ponies and you, sir, are no pony!"
"You're probably right," Naruto tentatively agreed. "We're humans. And we've never even met a talking pony before. "
"Hu-mans, huh? Hmmm..." She scratched her jaw with one hoof. "Neato! I'm Pinky Pie! You've never met a pony before? Wow! If I've never seen a hu-man and you've never seen a pony, you must be new to Ponyville, and if you're new to Ponyville then you must never have been to Sugarcube Corner, and if you've never been to Sugarcube Corner then you've never tried one of my amazing famously delicious chocolate chip cookies!" Pinky Pie reached from behind her and pulled out a plate filled with warm cookies, apparently fresh out of the oven.
"Surprise! Welcome to Ponyville! You're going to love it here! We're going to have so much amazing awesome fun, more fun than you've ever had in your entire life! Wheee!" As she finished, a cloud of rainbow-colored confetti, streamers, and various types of candy burst from the air.
A purple streamer landed on Sasuke's shoulder and he jumped back, looking legitimately terrified. He attempted to silently plead with Naruto to take them back to GLaDOS headquarters, but Naruto hadn't quite figured out the subtle intricacies of Sasuke's stare-language and assumed he just needed to go to the bathroom or something.
"Stop right there, intruders!"
The group turned to find a lavender colored pony with a bright violet mane making her way towards them. A dozen nearly identical looking armored stallions were following her in two even rows.
"You!" The unicorn seethed upon reaching them, her eyes narrow slits. "You're the monsters that nearly blew up all of Canterlot! I'd recognize those gangly limbs and opposable thumbs anywhere!"
Pinky Pie was looking back and forth between the human ninjas and Twilight Sparkle in confusion before also narrowing her eyes menacingly. "Ooooh, I knew it, I knew they were up to no good, Twilight! They tried telling me they were ponies, and I knew something was fishy! They don't even have hooves!"
"What!" Naruto yelled. "No we didn't!"
"But they didn't fool me one bit!" Pinky Pie continued. "Don't worry, Twilight! I'll handle them! Prepare to be brought to justice, fiends!"
"Look, you must be mistaken. We just got here a few minutes ago, and-"
"ENGAGING HOSTILE TARGETS!"
She charged towards Sasuke, which, he later told himself, wouldn't have been nearly as intimidating if her limbs hadn't stretched out to a ridiculous length and if her eyes hadn't turned red—and maybe if she hadn't propelled herself through the air at an impossible speed. Seriously, did the laws of physics mean nothing here?!
Substituting himself with a log, Sasuke sprinted towards the nearest line of trees, jumped through the branches and vanished into the distance. Naruto was right behind him, having summoned two clones as a diversion, one of which was leading Pinky Pie towards the opposite section of the forest.
As Naruto's clone passed the first set of trees, Pinky Pie began to slow down before finally halting the chase. "Everfree forest, huh, buddy?! Good riddance! I hope those timberwolves eat you alive!" She stuck out her tongue and hopped off.
The clone waited for her to disappear from sight before breathing a sigh of relief and promptly disappearing.
"Sasuke, wait up! They've stopped chasing us!" Naruto called out after his clone had rejoined him.
Sasuke had already stopped, though, and was pacing furiously back and forth through the forest. "Oooh no. This is not happening. I did not just run away screaming from a bunch of ponies. They're ponies, for Konoha's sake, what could they possibly have done to us?" Sasuke ranted as Naruto listened silently, entranced by his out of character behavior in spite of the fact that it had happened at least a half a dozen times since they started portal hopping.
"Do you think those ponies got 'em?" Naruto asked worriedly, opting to ignore Sasuke's outburst.
"Not likely. Sakura maybe, since she's apparently still useless, but Kakashi is with her.. and he's still as competent as I remember him being. Right?"
"Hundreds of ponies without homes! All because of your reckless and stupid behavior! What have you got to say for yourselves?" Twilight Sparkle stomped a hoof on the floor to accentuate her point.
Sakura and Kakashi were both floating in the air above her, magically suspended and held in place by a magenta colored aura. Two sets of kunai and shuriken were floating several feet away from them, completely out of reach.
"Well?" Twilight prompted.
"I've been disarmed by a sentient purple unicorn," Kakashi sighed. "Well, that settles it then, Sakura. I'm retiring and taking up baking."
Sakura was still struggling in vain to free herself from the magical force field. "This is ridiculous."
"Trying to escape is useless!" Twilight Sparkle said viciously, eyes narrowed in contempt.
Sakura looked outraged at this declaration, immediately zoning in on the word 'useless' and disregarding the rest of Twilight's statement. "I am not useless, you hear?! I can do plenty of useful things! I'm one of the best medic-nins in the world! I have perfect chakra control! I could rip you in half with one chakra-enhanced punch to the face!"
"But you didn't do that, did you?" Kakashi piped in.
"Well, no. But I could have. I just chose not to."
"You never do, do you?" he said wearily.
"Shut up! What's your excuse?!"
"Me? Oh, well, you know how it goes." He continued in a higher-pitched voice, "Oh, that poor old Kakashi. Lived through two wars and 42 S-ranked missions, only to be offed by a group of rabid ponies just two days from retirement..."
"You see them?"
Naruto and Sasuke were hiding in a tree overlooking Ponyville's town square, eyes focused on the newly deemed incompetent half of Team Seven, engaging in Step One of Mission Rescue Sakura and Kakashi from the Overly Hostile, Mentally Unstable Ponies. Sasuke was grudgingly participating, because, as he found out, no amount of hate-filled threats and emotionless pleas would dissuade Naruto from abandoning their comrades to die.
Kakashi and Sakura were still held prostrate in the air, having been escorted to the town hall at the center of Ponyville. Sakura was currently engaged in a shouting match with Twilight Sparkle—fortunately, Naruto couldn't make out any words—and Kakashi was futilely trying to move his hand towards the book in his back pocket before eventually giving up and closing his eyes.
"Alright, what's Step Two?"
"Step what?" Naruto scratched his head.
"Step two of the plan, idiot!"
"We have a plan? Um. Oh, right! I'll summon an army of clones and attempt to overrun them?"
Sasuke didn't respond.
"Big Ball Rasengan? Regular ol' Rasengan? Rasenshuriken? Chidori? Amaterasu?!"
Sasuke carefully considered each suggestion. They'd all probably result in their teammates being killed in retaliation, or being used as meat shields, or even as bait. He thought about telling Naruto this, but then remembered that he didn't care.
"Sure. I vote for Rasenshuriken." That was the one that'd ruin his chakra channels if he used it too much or something, right? Perfect.
Inwardly, Naruto rolled his eyes, but decided to play along anyway. Clearly Sasuke was a little behind on the times (what with the whole 'Sage Mode' thing). "I don't know, Sasuke... Baa-chan said that was dangerous. Wouldn't a regular Rasengan work?"
"No, Naruto. These ponies are powerful. Too powerful. It's the only way to save the rest of Team Seven."
Naruto's eyes hardened in determination. "You're right."
Just as Naruto was about to power-up, both ninjas halted as they caught sight of something strange in the sky.
"Is that what I think it is, Sasuke?"
A huge, glowing blue ball was rapidly descending towards the town, growing bigger with each passing second. Naruto glanced around wildly and caught sight of two dots in the distance chasing a third dot that was some ways ahead of them.
Remembering the destructive force of a much smaller ki blast, Naruto and Sasuke rushed out of range. Twilight Sparkle released Kakashi and Sakura, who fell to the floor in a heap, and hastily erected a barrier shield just before it hit, successfully encompassing the town square but leaving the rest of Ponyville unprotected. The ensuing collision resulted in a huge explosion, deafening noise, and lots of screaming ponies. Sakura and Kakashi scrambled to their feet and ran, heedless of the hysterical horses running around the town like headless chickens.
Naruto and Sasuke were darting through the rubble and carnage as a large fleet of armored white ponies went rushing across the bridge, their attention focused on the intruders in the sky.
"I am so happy to see you, Naruto," Sakura nearly crashed into him as she hastily latched onto the amulet. "Let's get the hell out of here already."
All in agreement, the group huddled together and vanished moments later, not waiting to see how the final showdown between the trigger-happy aliens and physics-defying ponies would play out.