A Powerpuff Girls/Samurai Jack crossover
"Did you see that? Tell me you saw that."
"The way he held her so tenderly and kissed her so sweetly, even though her touch was lethal to him... could it be any more romantic?"
"Freyja! We need to focus on the matter at hand. What is to become of him?... Or at least what's left of him?"
"Oh that's easy. He can have a place in Valhalla with me!"
"Are you sure Odin would be happy with you picking up another wayward boy?"
"You make it sound so sleazy, Sekmet."
"Girls! Please stop bickering! Things have come to a head, and we need to respond effectively."
"What do you think happened, Lakshmi?"
"Well... the Imagawa princess seems to have more power than any of us could have foreseen. Much more than the sum of her parts. The influence of Venus must have acted as some kind of catalyst. Not only did she purify the beast, she healed the deep separation between his supernatural essence and his human body."
"Aku is Gus, and Gus is Aku."
"Yes... it appears such a reaction was just too much for the poor creature to take, physically and psychologically . While some resolution has come out of this, it is not exactly what I was hoping for."
"Maybe we should take this opportunity to obliterate his remains. So he is never reborn into darkness again. Besides, that ash could be poisonous."
"It's always about poisons with you, isn't it, Sekmet?"
"No, no... I believe we can do better than that. Thus far, the Imagawas have made a momentous effort in dealing with this whole mess. We owe it to them to provide some respite from suffering. Come on, girls. The time to act is now."
The water vapour from earlier still hung over the city, glittering in the dying sunlight. The crowds began to disperse, the ambulances drove off, and Buttercup and Bubbles set out to find their sister. Hime, who had witnessed the aerial stand-off from a window of the hospital, rushed outside and called down the two girls. She asked them to take her with them on the search. As evening fell, the pixie felt a chill sink into her bones. There was a heavy shift in the air, something awful had happened.
"Where did they go?" She asked, as her daughters carried her over the rooftops.
"We don't know," Buttercup replied. "They both lost consciousness and just fell out of the sky. When we reached the street below, we found no trace of them."
"It's as if they passed into another world," Bubbles murmured.
After a few painstaking hours of hunting, a helpful police officer beckoned to the group. Blossom had been found. The groundskeeper at Bonsai Gardens Park had tried to coax her off the islet, but she refused to move. She remained draped upon a pile of dark ash, heaving deep and desperate sobs.
"Blossom...?" Hime called to her tenderly, as she lighted upon the bank of the islet.
Blossom slowly raised her head. Her hair and face were caked in the ash. Hime knelt down beside her, and her sisters approached, all grieving for her - the fate of the beast was all too clear.
The girl suddenly launched herself into her mother's arms. "I loved him, Hi-chan. He was my friend."
"I know, sweetheart. I know." Hime cradled her, rubbing a gentle hand across her back.
"At least he's not suffering any more," Buttercup said softly.
The dim sky was suddenly ruptured by a massive flare of white light. Bubbles doubled over and knocked Buttercup off her feet, joining Hime and Blossom down in the dirt. They each squinted at the glare, and slowly discerned three figures drifting down to meet them - three women who were most definitely not of the mortal world. One was golden-haired and resplendently buxom, another was a dark-haired beauty sporting a scorpion crown, and the final figure boasted four arms, a lotus for a perch and a beatific smile.
The four women below just stared up at them, mouths agape.
"Allow me to make introductions. I am Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of fortune. These two ladies are Freyja, Norse goddess of love, and Sekmet, Egyptian goddess of healing.
"Hi!" Bubbles chirped. "I'm-"
"Oh, we know who you girls are," Freyja told her. "We've been watching you with interest for quite some time."
The Utoniums shared an unsettled glance between themselves.
"Perhaps we should explain," Lakshmi offered.
"The substance you call Chemical X is an ancient life-force, one that posesses its own unique kind of consciousness. It is a thing of pure negative space, pure chaos, and pure reflection. Our idiot husbands - Vishnu, Odin and Horus - saw Chemical X and accused it of being evil. Typical macho nonsense. They declared the only forces worthy of existence in their domains were those of order and occupation. Against our advice, they decided to hunt it down and kill it."
"The poor thing was savaged by their attack, but it managed to survive," Sekmet continued. "It fell to planet Earth, where it healed and grew. At length, it spawned Aku from the hatred of Emperor Imagawa, and you three from the love and care of your father. The three of us agreed to watch over Chemical X, hoping one day to right the wrongs of our husbands. It seems you lot have done quite splendidly on that front yourselves!"
Lakshmi nodded. "We are very honoured to have witnessed your efforts in containing Aku, and in protecting your homeland from malevolent forces." Here she turned to Blossom. "What the beast said was true - you girls really are the highest manifestation of Chemical X, far beyond what we could have imagined."
Buttercup crossed her arms. "So how do you plan to help us, exactly?"
Freyja clapped her hands in delight. "We are your Domina Ex Machina, here to save the day! We intend to bring Gus back to life."
Blossom's eyes widened. "You can do that?"
"It is not easy," Lakshmi told her, "but together, and with the aid of the Morning Star, we can achieve this."
Upon hearing these words, something in Hime was roused. Her pulse quickened. "The what?"
"Oh, honey," Freyja chuckled, her voice echoing through the park and soothing the squawks of roosting birds. "Didn't you ever figure it out? The source of your loveliness, your power to heal? Who is the bringer of light, the progenitor of all beauty in this star system?"
Sekmet pointed to a particularly bright star in the heavens, its brilliance unaffected by the light of the three goddesses.
"She is the light which Aku used to make you what you are. Sometimes she is called Venus, sometimes Lucifer."
"Sometimes Ishtar!" Freyja helped.
"She is the force that you passed onto Blossom upon her rebirth. And she is the force that answered your husband's prayers, calling upon us to assist in your own rebirth."
Freyja rubbed her palms. "And that's pretty much what we're about to do for Gus. Enough exposition, girls, let's get cracking. Time to transform this dull ash into a fair prince!"
Blossom scuttled back as the three goddesses formed a circle around the pile of ash, holding hands. Together, they gazed up at the Morning Star. For some minutes they stood in perfect silence, nothing happened. Then, slowly, the star began to twinkle brighter and brighter, until it blocked out the other stars, the pallid moon, the city lights, even the gleam of the goddesses themselves. The Utonium women had to shut their eyes against it.
Mayor Sara Bellum seized upon the first free moment she'd had that day to knock back a strong coffee and a large danish pastry. It had been a long time since a monster had attacked the city, and Townsville had been unprepared for the blow to infrastructure and essential services. Everything had ground to a halt as she fielded harrowing press conferences, a frantic city council meeting, and a vicious argument with the Chief of Police. The action plan that had been thrown together seemed to be working, some parts of the city centre were returning to normal as the evening progressed. Staring out the large window of her office, she was comforted to see the (admittedly packed) buses start to run again, and the (infuriatingly stubborn) fire department assist in closing off the worst hit streets. Her gaze snaked its way along a line of traffic heading past Bonsai Gardens Park - and she saw it. An uncanny blast of light blooming out from amidst the autumn trees. Not again. One attack had been hard enough.
She grabbed her phone, ringing the internal line for the secretary of emergency services, and prayed that the Powerpuff Girls were still in the vicinity.
No wild roses or delicate myrtle bloomed. No flowers of any kind. The Morning Star had faded back to her usual demure self. Left in her wake was the mud and the rock of the islet, a few black, skeletal trees, and an unhealed, disfigured, sullen beast of a boy.
He blinked his bleary black eyes, trying to focus on the world before him. As he got his bearings, he reached an ungainly claw up to feel the bony horns upon his head. He grimaced, bearing his sharp fangs.
The goddesses that floated above cringed deeply, trying to contain their embarrassment.
"Was he supposed to turn out like that?"
"I thought he'd be cute again."
"I'm pretty sure he was never cute."
The beast frowned, looking up at the goddesses. "I'm still a monster," he said sadly.
The very next moment, he had been seized, his arms bound, his nerves jolted, his breath caught. A curtain of flame-coloured hair enveloped him, along with a warm embrace. Blossom kissed him.
The fact that he was alive and he was loved acted upon him. He knew what must be done. The beast looked down into Blossom's face, planted another kiss on her forehead, and then flew off into the night sky, black smoke trailing behind him.
"Is he going on another rampage?" Buttercup blurted, terror rising in her voice.
Freyja clamped her hands to her mouth, fighting back tears. "What have we done?"
"Follow him!" Commanded Lakshmi.
Upon seeing the monster approach them in the sky, the evening commuters broke out in absolute panic. Traffic stopped, citizens stampeded through the streets, even the emergency workers clearing up the debris from the first attack abandoned their task. The beast flew down to the ground, lifting up enormous scraps of concrete and steel. Undeterred by the mob of screaming humans, he rose up into the air, heaved the load over his head, and with great care and attention, restored the chunks missing from the damaged buildings.
Like waves in a pond, the mayhem below gradually receded. One by one, people cast their eyes upwards to watch the beast patch up all the damaged architecture, using the heat from his lime green flames to seal the various breaks and cracks. Skyscrapers, apartment blocks, shopfronts, the old Gothic church. This took him some time - when he was finally finished, the formerly rampant townspeople were at a perfect standstill. Hushed, astonished, they waited to see what he would do next. Some people edged warily away when he came back down to the ground - to fill potholes, repair broken pipes and power lines, and set a number of flipped vehicles the right way up.
By this time, Hime and the girls had joined the crowd, watching the beast's actions with the same awe. High in the clouds, undetectable by most of the mortals, the three goddesses also watched.
Townsville was restored by midnight. Plodding, calm, steady, the beast had completed his work with Gus' usual straightforward manner. Now done, standing in the middle of Main Street, he was almost surprised when he noticed his captivated audience.
Blossom pushed past the others, tears welling in her eyes.
"I'm so proud of you!" She clutched his large black claws in her hands.
He hung his head, not wanting to look her in the face. "I'm sorry. I can never be the way I was before. I will always be like... this. An ugly parody of the boy you cared about."
She beamed at him, not disappointed in the least. "You are the boy who reconciled your own beastliness." With the tiniest trace of shyness, she skimmed her fingers across his coarse cheek. "You have never been more beautiful to me."
He took a shaky breath before emitting an exhausted sob, his long arms coiling around his beloved princess. The couple sunk to their knees on the asphalt, holding each other tenderly. The police officers who were present began to move the crowd along.
The mayor, flanked by a number of haggard city council members, had descended the steps of City Hall to witness the sight of heroine and villain locked in a passionate embrace.
"Mayor Bellum!" the beast got to his feet and purposefully strode up to her. A bodyguard sprang out of nowhere, raring to pounce on him. Bubbles held the guard back with a strong, benign grasp.
The beast knelt before Bellum, lowering his eyes down.
"I have done your city a terrible wrong. Not only have I caused severe material damage..." here, Bellum looked around her at the cleared streets and restored buildings. "...I also injured a great number of innocent citizens... and murdered two of them in cold blood. This needs to be rectified. I must be given a proper sentence. I shall accept whatever punishment you deem fit for me."
Bellum blinked, wondered if her sleep deprivation was getting to her, and blinked again. The woman's equilibrium was further assaulted when a curvaceous blonde woman, radiant with light, flew down from the night sky and tearfully grasped her hand.
"Oh please don't send him to jail he has transformed he's much better now he loves her and he's sorry!" she blubbed.
Blossom grinned sheepishly. "we can explain all this, Ms Bellum..."
Relinquishing herself to the bizarreness of the situation, the mayor invited them all back to City Hall, getting her assistant to dole out some more coffee. Once every last detail of the situation was clarified, Bellum turned it over in her head, quickly coming up with a tidy solution. It was clear that no prison could hold this beast boy... Gus, Aku, whatever his name was. And Bellum appreciated the fact that he wanted to atone for his crimes. Therefore, she decreed that he should put his powers to use by protecting the city of Townsville from evil. Furthermore, as the Powerpuff Girls had the knowhow and the strength to contain him, he would need to remain under their supervision, reporting his activities to them without fail. Everyone agreed to this and, at nearly three in the morning, Bellum's head finally hit the pillow of her oft-neglected bed.
He slouched in a corner of the hospital cafeteria. Blossom sat close beside him.
"Taking a life. Nothing can make up for that."
"These are unique circumstances. You were in a state where... you weren't really yourself."
"Try telling that to the policeman's family."
They fell silent. Clara returned to their table with a tray full of food. "Eat something," she urged her son.
He eventually started picking at the slice of pizza she'd placed in front of him. As he did, she stroked the side of his face.
"My poor boy... what are we to do with these horns?"
"I'll be fine, Mom."
"I'm going to get out my old Singer when we get home and alter your good shirts. You're much wider around the shoulders, now."
When Blossom and the beast initially returned to the hospital, they were immediately set upon by an agitated Doctor Murray. "Come to the burns unit," she had ordered, dragging the two of them along the hallways.
It had turned out that the water vapour resulting from the beast's flame and Blossom's ice breath had possessed extraordinary healing powers - the victims of the attack all seemed to be convalescing with great speed, their burns healing at mush faster rate than usual when exposed to the shimmering mist. The couple had gladly obliged in generating more vapour to assist the doctors. After a few long hours they were let go. Clara had been waiting for a while, having identified her husband's remains, and much more concerned for the wellbeing of her beleaguered son.
She eventually stopped fussing over him and started on her sandwich, taking a large, satisfying bite. "You'll need a smart outfit for your father's memorial service, anyway," she mused.
"I told you I'm not going. I killed him."
"No," she corrected gently. "You were possessed by the spirit of your past life. And then, after much struggle, you and Blossom triumphed over it." Though soft, there was more spirit in her voice than he had ever heard before.
"I can't help but think of myself as a murderer."
Clara put down her sandwich and took her son's claw in her hand. "How you think of yourself is not only your decision, but will define who you are in this life. You can be a monster, or you can be the hero of the story."
Blossom smiled. "We all tend to think you're more suited to the latter."
His eyes briefly flitted to the rumpled copy of the Townsville Tribune lying on the table: "VILLAIN VINIDCATED!?: DEFEATED DEMON REBORN AS POWERPUFF ALLY"
"I know you're more suited to the latter, and not just because I'm your mother - I have proof."
She took a small cloth sack out of her handbag, undid the fastening, and pulled out a number of fragments of gold - gleaming, pure, solid. She handed them to her son.
"I returned home to fetch a change of clothes for you, and when I passed the living room, these caught my eye."
"What are these?"
"The shards of the Akuma-No-Hakashitsu."
They were donated to the dead policeman's family.