A Powerpuff Girls/Samurai Jack crossover
Great tendrils of smoke, wailing emergency sirens, jarring ruptures in Townsville's cityscape. In addition to this chaos, and most distinct of all, was the black mist hanging over everything - the same kind that the girls had faced upon their very first encounter with the beast, ten years previous. Aku had left them a very clear trail to follow.
Blossom rallied her sisters. "Come on, let's get him," she urged.
Buttercup did not move. "Don't you remember what he told you the night he broke in? He doesn't want to take over Townsville, he wants us! He's only attacking the city to draw us in. If we approached him outright, who knows what kind of trap we could fall into?"
For one long and knotted moment, this gave the girls pause. Blossom's brow furrowed, as she groped for a descisive battle plan. There was only one way forward, into the mist.
"Then let's spring his trap." She commanded. A tricoloured light trail shot across the sky.
The sound of sirens increased in number and intensity as they neared the city centre. Halfway down Main Street, a police barricade had been quickly assembled. The officers and SWAT team members were all poised to strike, weapons at the ready. Above them, floating upon the dense epicentre of the black morass, was the beast.
"Hello, girls." He drawled simply, with Gus' own plodding voice. He churned a fireball into existence between his claws, and hurled it down at an unfortunate clump of policemen. Collapsing, screaming, the smell of burning flesh was sickening.
"Stop this!" Blossom demanded. "We know that it's us you want!"
"Indeed it is, red child," Aku responded, "but it will be a great amusement for me to have you bear witness to my rampage. Especially using the frame of your pathetic little boyfriend." He then immediately launched a volley of jagged black spikes out from his claw. This time, Buttercup anticipated him, swooping down and deflecting the spikes with a few dexterous sweeps from her hands. They glanced away from the humans below, and some lodged deep into the sides of Townsville's skyscrapers.
"You cannot win," he declared. "I shall wear down your stamina and feed off your anger. Every surge of adrenalin that courses through Gus' feeble body shall only help to restore me to my former glory. I shall become-"
Aku's verbosity betrayed him. Blossom had charged at the beast and cut him off mid-sentence. With all her might, she held him down by his still flesh-and-blood midsection against the facade of a Gothic revival church. He snarled and swiped at her, flanked by two granite grotesques, and she dodged his flailing talons as best she could. One suddenly got the side of her face, a gash started oozing blood, and she reflexively blasted the claw with her heat vision. Aku writhed in pain beneath her, howling savagely. He was still twisting Gus' low, once phlegmatic voice into his own gruesome utterances. His long skinny legs thrashed about gracelessly. Blossom did not lose her grip on him.
"I am speaking to Gus. I know you are still awake behind the monster. Please hear me. Please know that there are people out here who care about you. I beg you, use every scrap of strength you can to win back your body from Aku. I believe in you."
The two locked eyes. For a fraction of a second, the beast's merciless charcoal irids softened once more.
From behind the two came a sonic whoosh, then a hard collision. An architrave of the church gave way under the impact, and the aged stone crumbled to the ground below, along with Blossom and the beast. The pounding in the girl's head was merciless. Once she got her bearings, she creaked to her feet to behold Gus' deformed body in the clutches of none other than Brick.
"I'm gonna do what the Powerpuff Girls shoulda done a long time ago!" He cried, seizing the still disoriented beast by the nape of his neck.
Now back on her feet, Blossom launched herself at the pair, determined to pull Brick away to safety. It would take a few short seconds for Aku to come around.
It happened in very swift succession. In Aku's state of semi-consciousness, Blossom percieved what she hoped to be another glimpse of Gus himself - the expression on the bilious, fanged face flickered with what Blossom could only understand as devotion. Then he turned again to Brick. Now fully awake, Aku grasped the boy, overpowered him, and conjured a black spindly shaft from his palm. With this, he impaled Brick through the stomach and hurled him into the rubble of the church. The boy hit the piles of debris with a dense thud, his body jerked and he gargled in his throes of agony. Aku's cruel cackle echoed about the remainder of the chapel's interior.
Blossom whirled around. Butch and Boomer hovered in the smoke-laden air, trembling eyes set upon their helpless brother. She watched as Boomer flew down wordlessly to Brick's side, and Buttercup held back an enraged Butch from pouncing on Aku. The beast, fangs bared, rocketed into the air and started casting a string of lime green fire upon a nearby city block. The screams of terrified citizens rang horribly in Blossom's ears.
Her gaze found the blond Rowdyruff Boy. "Boomer, I need you to look after your brothers. Don't let Butch get near Aku. Call an ambulance for Brick and any others who are injured."
A single, silent heavy nod, and the trace of a terrified but persevering smile.
Her sisters were not far behind. "Girls, focus your energies on protecting the citizens, and mitigating the damage he does to the city."
Buttercup frowned. "Right... and what are you going to do, red child?"
"I'm going to help Gus win."
In her peripheral vision, Blossom could percieve a blue light trail shepherding townsfolk away from the danger zone, and a green light trail using great blasts of air pressure to contain the blaze. Hopefully the city would not have a firestorm on its hands.
She ascended into the sky, and found him. Aku, or Gus, floated above the highest skyscraper, surveying the horror he was causing like some avenging angel. His back was turned to Blossom, his attention concentrated on igniting the scaffolding of a towering, partially built high-rise.
The beast turned, grimacing at her. "He is doomed, my girl. It is only Aku that lives now."
A brief moment of dread swept through Blossom before she regained composure. "You're lying. You're much slower than you used to be, Aku. Gus is in there, he's reining in your insanity. You'll never be what you once were."
Aku stared at her hard, she knew his pride had been ruffled. An attack was imminent, she readied herself. However, instead of assaulting the girl before him, he conjured a particularly large sphere of lime green fire, took careful aim, and hurled it down to the streets below. Blossom followed it with her eyes - its trajectory was directed straight at a distracted and frantic Buttercup.
The black-haired girl wheeled around just in time to see the fireball hurtling towards her. Before it hit her, before she could even react, a sudden, sparkling stream of ice turned it to steam.
"Not my sisters," Blossom vowed, steely and resolute. Frost hung upon her lips.
Aku once again turned his attentions to Blossom, now flinging the full force of his flame at her. Her ice breath met the attack in time to shield her, and between the two, a huge volley of water vapour bloomed in the air.
Neither relented. To stop for even a second was to be enveloped, to be burnt or frozen, overwhelmed by fire or ice. The cloud of water vapour grew and grew, showering the city. The patches of green fire below slowly died under the haze of moisture. Blossom and Aku were now locked in stalemate. As ambulances and fire trucks arrived to tend to the injured civilians and the remaining fires, the people of Townsville collectively craned their necks to watch the uncanny spectacle in the heavens. The sound of inferno meeting blizzard was deafening.
And then, refracting the blaze of green firelight, a rainbow ghosted into existence. It started in brief shimmers, spots of incredible, delicate colour dancing in the great radiant mist. As if guided by a preternatural force, these loose strips grew, snaking out to find each other, circling about the two relentless combatants. Slowly they looped around the circumfrence of the vapour, until the two ends of the rainbow met. It now formed a perfect ring around Aku and Blossom.
They stared deep into each other's eyes, black meeting pink. Through the unreal veil that their mutual tenacity had created, neither blinked. All attention, all energy, all passion, was concentrated on the other.
Her stength gave way. Blossom blacked out, and fell into lightless oblivion.
Darkness, nothing could be seen. The panic was overwhelming. Driven by primal compulsions, the only thing to do was flee. To rush as fast as possible through the abyss, away from the three horrid predators.
Though they could not be seen, they could be sensed. A trio of outraged gods, tyrants of order who could not abide the existence of a chaotic force in their universe. The eagle-eyed Horus, the one-eyed Odin, the many-limbed Vishnu. Wielding spear, arrow and crook, gnashing their teeth, consumed by hatred.
The patriarchs fell upon their prey. The sharp, scorching strikes of metal, lightning and malevolent magic were overwhelming. Pain. Pain. Pain. The horror of feeling extemities, limbs, entire sections of the body being severed and burnt away. Disintegration.
Having sated their fury, the gods turned away. The diminished and quivering remains, raw and tender, fell through the bleak void for an unmeasured age.
At long last, after plunging through space, contact was made with a firm and trusty surface. This ground was deep and clean and resonated with life. The atmosphere was warm. Now, it was possible to rest. The burning seceded, and dust gently descended. The tranquil bedrock was an inviting berth to seep into. The beasts that occupied this terrain, the lumbering dinosaurs, sank into the earth too. Their simple, solid energy was wonderfully nourishing.
This comfortable new home lent strength and hope. Under the rays of the blessed sun, it was possible to grow, sprout trunks and branches, in adoring imitation of the luscious green trees of this planet. As time passed, a profound serenity sunk in. However, no greenery twined its way around the black, horn-like limbs, no little songbird came to perch.
On occasion, a bright stroke of luck would send a living thing stumbling into the quagmire at the base of the trunks. The delicacy of flowers, the sprightly charm of a canine, and oh... oh... human energy was the most beautiful of all. The desire to merge with all the beings on this glorious planet grew and grew.
Then, however, a rupture. With a single heavy-handed mortal action, one consciousness was split into two.
She could see it now. She could see the morbid fate that had lain dormant, hidden at the very root of her being.
The Emperor, with his army, thundered over Her. She could read the intention in his heart, he wanted to conquer and destroy. She defended herself with every fibre in her body. The bloodlust of the mounted soldiers was consumed as they died and became a part of Her. This energy tasted different, it crackled with tension, metallic and bitter.
Then he came again, armed with his enchanted arrow. The scorn writ on his face perfectly mirrored the three vicious gods. His brow was knotted and his black eyes flashed with all the animosity he could muster. The arrow pierced Her. From the black, formless mass, Aku was born.
Fear, aggression, belligerent desires shaped and defined Her. She became a reflection of all the hostility that had been flung against Her. If the Emperor wanted a monster to battle, then by the gods, a monster is what he would get.
The searing need for vengeance never died down. Always angry, always resentful, always in pain. Her tyranny stretched far and wide, many worlds came under Her rule, people of all creeds bowed in terrified deference to Her, but nothing could satiate Her. Nothing could bring Her back to that halcyon She had once known, when She had settled silently amongst the fertile bed of a primeval Earth.
He too, discovered something heretofore unknown.
The beautiful young man had the same face as the Emperor, save for his eyes - pale like the summer sky. His brow was smooth, his frown was one of curiousity, no ill will was present. The little macaque that was with him gently lapped at the viscous black sap. While He trembled under the influence of this boy, He intuited that there was nothing to fear.
He was played with, morphed into solids and liquids and gasses. He was fed delicious cells and protein strands that delighted Him, drugged Him and stimulated Him. The clean white confines of various laboratories became His new home. Though cut off from the soothing pulse of mother nature, the kind attentions of His blue-eyed friend was all the succour He could ask for. Every day would bring about a new project, a new game.
Over the years, as the boy became a man, his loneliness grew more and more palpable. Another primate soon came to the lab, a messy juvenile chimp with a penchant for destruction - this was no subsitute for real companionship. He ached on his human friend's behalf, wishing He had the means to express His admiration. One evening, He watched His friend measure out quantities of odd substances, he was focused and clear-mided. Sugar, Spice, Everything Nice. A vial of his own blood. And then, thanks to the gambols of the little chimp, He fell into this mixture. Chaos and confusion and noise, He did not know what was happening.
Such love. Love as He had never known. A love that was at once innocent and wise. The face of father and daughters. Regardless of what terror and doubt came His way, He knew that someone would always be there, arms open, to catch Him.
He pictured the sweet mortals who loved Him. He knew them all so well, so fondly. The Professor. Ms Keane-Green. Mayor Bellum. Robyn. Ace. And Jack. Instead of recoiling, He lit up at the thought of this brave and venerated ancestor - with the way He saw him now, the samurai's intentions were pure and righteous. Then Hime, beautiful and haunted. Mrs Clara Turning, sad and sullen, but full of maternal concern for Him.
Suddenly, uninvited visions pierced their way through to the forefront of His mind. Jack as a child, torn from his mother as their palace burned. Clara being scolded by her tyrannical husband, her favourite porcilean tea set being angrily hurled to the kitchen floor. A memory, clear as day, of defiling Hime's smooth and dainty body, senses piqued with lust. The disheartened pixie knew better than to fight against her cruel master. The echoed cries of thousands of dissenters, sentenced to torture and death for daring to challenge the might of Aku.
Every shred of torment felt by these innocents reverberated through Him, magnified, awful, paralysing. He tried to scream. He wanted all of them to stop hurting. He wished in vain to help every last one of them. Pain. Pain. Pain. But alas, this time, no disintergration.
"Gus?... Gus!?... ...Aku...?"
Blossom had come around to find herself lying on the damp bank of an islet in a small lake. She knew it to be the centrepiece of Bonsai Gardens Park, the sprawling green eden that was the pride of Tokyo Townsville. The night had well and truly fallen by the time she had woken. The beast lay next to her. She leant over him gingerly, praying that the individual who responded would be her dear friend.
Finally, the eyelids struggled open, and managed to find her face.
"Gus!" She grabbed his shoulder, only to have him flinch back in horror. Her lightest touch now wounded him - the black carapace on his shoulder crumbled away to reveal raw bloody, decidedly human flesh.
"Oh Gus... My poor Gus..."
The beast convulsed with sobs. Now fully conscious, he was a quivering fragile wreck.
He could not retain his grip on himself. His memories of empire and plunder and conquest were melting into the contents of fresher recollections, long nights spent reading of Vlad the Impaler and Atilla the Hun, playing gory video games, comforting his heartsick mother. Amusing himself with his red-skinned concubine, watching over the struggles of the samurai, listening to the long-winded lectures of his bespectacled father. Feeding the dogs. Killing the families of anti-Aku rebels. Sitting alone in the lobby of the British Museum. Intolerable years locked in a tree. The screams of his victims still coursed through him. Every nerve of his corrupted body was on fire.
"I..." He whimpered, his pleading eyes locking onto Blossom. "...what have I done??"
Blossom was rendered speechless, the voice was steeped in the harshest regret and the tenderest empathy. She recalled the vision that had come to her while she'd been unconscious.
"I have taken my pain out on this planet that I used to love, on its blameless children... it resolved nothing. I can never reverse the suffering I have dealt."
Another deep sob, and Blossom's heart lurched.
"You, sweet princess... YOU have been the only one capable of soothing the constant ache. Your calm eyes, soft as starlight. They could command me to fall to my death."
Blossom took a deep, shaky breath. "Who are you?"
"I come from the same substance as you. A thing cursed by the gods, which fell to Earth in antiquity. However, you are the highest and best manifestation of this substance, made of love, whereas I am made from hate and fear. I have been reincarnated as a lonely human male who yearns to be worthy of your friendship, but will never atone."
"Gus, you are not answerable for-"
"-Gus is Aku, and Aku is Gus. We were always one." Here he stopped - giving voice to this realisation changed something in his bearing. "I am deeply sorry for everything." The apology was uttered slowly and heavily.
She wished she could embrace him.
"This beseiged body of mine is done for. For the sake of your loved ones and ancestors, I wish for you to destroy me."
"It is the closest I will ever get to redemption."
"You could still redeem yourself! Don't you remember what I said? I believe in you!" Tears clung to Blossom's eyes.
The beast's bearing sagged, and his eyes fell. "Very well," he rumbled.
The next thing Blossom knew, she was being drawn down into his arms. He kissed her fully. Her mouth still tingled with traces of her ice breath.
Under her touch, the beast's body quickly dissolved to ashes.