They almost had second thoughts when they took a look at the route.
Core->Crusader->Imperial China->Treacherous Mountain Pass->Shaolin Temple realm.
Crusader wasn’t all that bad – but Crusader Tokyo? That was almost always complete chaos.
Oh well. They had the wagon-loads of assorted trade goods, Kevin as a Taoist Mystic (thus accounting for his apparent youth), Marty as a Merchant, and the Thralls as Marty’s aides / employees / slaves as appropriate to whatever realm they were in at the moment.
Kevin told the Thralls setting up the planet-moving to call him as soon as they were ready – it should be in a few days – since that pretty much took priority over most other business even if it shouldn’t take very long. All they had to do was go, open the gate, clean up any resulting messes, and leave again.
Interestingly, Crusader had settled down again – at least for the moment. Either the stress was way down, it had already split (or merged, as the case might be), or someone was exerting a lot of effort in stabilizing the place… That could be a major coalition in Core, Ryan – it was his home universe after all – or any of several other major powers. Crusader was simply too convenient for too many people to let it run completely amok.
Anyway, at the moment it was more in line with a typical superhero world now, as opposed to a realm close to fragmenting.
Of course, in Crusader Japan, the standard battle for Tokyo was going on. There was always something… Giant monsters vs. giant robots vs. superheroes vs. ninja vs. samurai vs. aliens vs. otaku vs. magical girls vs cat girls.
Marty thought it was just like home in some ways.
At the moment, it looked like the city was currently under attack from a five-hundred foot ninja, which was hiding somewhere in the city.
Kevin sighed, called the local office, and made sure that they were staffed with anthropomorphic cat-girls, fox-girls, and similar types. That should being in more recruits!
Locally, with the ninja in hiding, the opposition was considering a variety of approaches on flushing him out.
The guy in the giant robot’s tactic was the most straightforward: he was simply firing in all directions in hopes of hitting the ninja before leveling Tokyo. It wasn’t working so far…
Marty wondered why they hadn’t set a ninja to capture a ninja?
Kevin was busy making sure that recruiting-rumors were being spread amongst the youngsters who were watching and wishing that they could get involved more effectively! If he picked up a few applicants while he was here it would be a pleasant surprise – as well as an indicator that word was really getting out.
(Random Samurai, to Marty) “But that would be dishonorable!”
Kevin punted Mr Samurai – with the help of a massed telekinetic push from the Thralls – into Tokyo Bay.
(Kevin) “Idiot! It is dishonorable to leave people in danger because YOU are too incompetent to locate a 500-foot ninja! Is he perhaps hiding behind a parked car? Look behind the skyscrapers you idiots!”
Marty almost slapped himself. Was he getting caught up in Crusader too? Honestly, somehow there he’d almost forgotten that sky-scraper sized ninja couldn’t readily lurk in the bushes. There really weren’t too many buildings that a creature that size could hide behind.
He went and had a look.
(Kevin) “Use Ninja strategy! Actually look instead of waiting for him to come out for an honorable battle!.. Idiots! Next up it will be Ninja-Pirate-Godzilla!”
(Mecha Pilot) “Wouldn’t it be easier to get all the buildings out of the way first? Or is that bad too?”
(Kevin) “It’s Tokyo, so that’s acceptable – but it’s more elegant to save the city WITHOUT destroying it! It shows how good you are!”
(Alien, utters something completely incomprehensible. A five-year-old standing next to it nods and translates.) “If ninjas just use the power of the darkness, wouldn’t it be best to try using the powers of the light?”
(Kevin) “That works too I suppose” (he gave the five-year-old a small present) “At least it’s daylight, which limits the silliness somewhat!”
(Captain Nobilis, Striking a dramatic pose) “Then let us shine forth the light upon all corners of the city and flush out these dark creature of the night!”
Kevin booted Captain Nobilis skyward instead of into the bay. Very VERY high up, so that he could take a good look around the city. So high up that he was a mere twinkle in the sky, although he still managed to be annoying.
Marty had wanted to pants him, but he was wearing a spandex bodysuit anyway.
(Kevin) “Thank the creator that I’m an antihero! I draw power from being impossibly rude and pre-emptive! No more !@#$ Dramatics! Just do something!”
(Cyber Pirate girl) “He’s right, now I think I have something on scanners that looks like it may be ninjutsu at work. Looks like he is hiding behind the tallest building in the city!”
Kevin and Marty groaned; Tokyo towers of course, right on top of where their gate was. Where else?
As they ran down the street and around the corner, they clearly saw a colossal ninja rather comically “hidden” behind the towers. He didn’t seem to have noticed them yet.
They opted to set fire to his toes. The old hotfoot gag was always good.
Marty – er, The Animator – pulled one out of nowhere. Kevin got the Thralls – and Captian Nova, a random nearby hero with flame powers – organized:
(Kevin) “Plasma pistols at the ready! Fire Spells ready! Captian Nova Ready (he always turned up when you wanted to start a fire)! Fireballs and witchfire ready!”
The all-out blast – including attacks from several of the more sensible heroes – targeted the toes of the ninja’s tabi, with extra napalm and continuing spell effects. If they could drive him into the harbor, all the little plastic tanks with ray guns could take over.
Sneak attack hotfoot!
For a few moments it seemed like the attacks were having no effect – then they heard the ninja beginning to sniff the air.
(Kevin) “Pour it on men!”
The ninja looked around for a moment – then looked down and began the hot-foot dance, setting off the equivalent of a modest earthquake as he edged towards the harbor.
(Marty) “Summon pirates! Everyone knows that Ninjas and Pirates are mortal enemies! Summon as many pirates as possible in the harbor!”
(Kevin) “Organize the Japanese Defense Force! Fire implausible lightning-ray cannons!
The lightning cannons began to fire, the mecha fired rockets and lasers, tanks threw sparks into the air. The battle began to rage in full earnest.
It was a bit odd though. The chintzy special effects weren’t really typical of Crusader, even if they were typical for bad old movies. Oh well, that was Tokyo.
The various attacks hit the ninja, annoying him, blinding him, and slowly forcing him back into the sea. Buildings were having antenna knocked off and windows smashed – but they weren’t collapsing wholesale; they were doing well!
Marty launched one of his patented massive strikes at the ninjas ankle as he strode towards the harbor – knocking him off balance and sending him (with the help of a massed telekinetic thrust from the Thralls that almost doubled the force of Marty’s strike) toppling (in slow motion, and with an instant replay from three different angles) into the waters of the bay.
The ninja hit the water with a tremendous splash and sank beneath the waves of the harbor – despite the fact that it should be far too shallow for him.
Kevin tossed in the Oxygen Destroyer! (Or at least something to make lots of bubbles). The Ninja would probably escape of course – being a Ninja – but it would let him know that the Heroes of Tokyo meant business!
There were many bubbles and much cheering.
They promptly put up a banner announcing “Organization Courtesy of Amarant Solutions”. It was good PR!
Besides, the “Decapitation” one would give the wrong impression.
Captain Nobilis did not approve. He was firmly of the belief that one did not need to seek out credit or adoration from the masses – and he went into a lengthy and disgusting speech on being humble.
Marty actually listened. He might learn something!
It rapidly became apparent that he wasn’t going to say anything all that interesting. Toonworlder rashness swiftly overcome the willingness to listen to vague sweetness-and-light moralizing…
Kevin too lost patience after a few minutes. He spun a Shell of one-way Silence around the Captain so that he could hear himself – but no one else could – and then used a ventriloquism effect to turn his speech into a rant on civil rights for asparagus. Oddly enough, quite a few of the local phantasms were listening… Hopefully this wouldn’t REALLY start a veggie rights movement.
Marty wondered if the next visit to Crusader was going to involve the Million Asparagus March.
Kevin was mildly disappointed… The audience included several other heroes, some semi-heroes, a lot of civilians – and a disturbing number of children. None with souls though. It looked like the standard fair for Godzilla – with lots of children to cheer the heroes or to declare that the monster was poorly understood and an all around swell guy.
No point in making recruiting speeches then. They just paid the local ice cream vendors to distribute their stock and headed out before captain goody-goody could start to wonder why everyone was looking at him so oddly.
There was cheering as they made a break for the gate.