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Paradox Fighters, Part 4

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Megatron ducked under the low ceiling (rather, it was low for him) and sat on the ground of the lounge where the other members of his team had gathered. As usual, his team had been placed one step ahead of the others- namely, they were already in the mansion that they had been designated to capture. As he examined his comrades, he noticed that there seemed to be a lot more of them than last time. He recognized Nightmare, the Predator, the Xenomorph, and Mr. Everdeen. But there were three newcomers there as well. A girl in her adolescent years, wearing some semblance of a naval uniform, but in much darker colors than usual; a woman dressed in a business suit, eyeing the males of the group carefully; and a man with a bright yellow jacket with equally vivid hair, wearing a variety of green baubles. This man stood and greeted Megatron as he entered.

"Ah, the illustrious Megatron. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.'

"And to whom do I owe the pleasure?" said the Cybertronian, glad to have someone with any sense of courtesy around.

"I am Dio Brando. But you may simply call me Dio, for brevity's sake," oozed the man, giving a bow.

"Well, it will be excellent having you on my team. Now, to get down to business- the battle plan. If we stay here, we will not only remain safe from those wandering beasts, but we also guarantee that our opponents will be worn down, allowing us to-"

"That sounds excellent," said Dio, bowing before Megatron again. "But there is one problem with that strategy."

"And what would that be?"

"You're not giving orders anymore," said the man, who lifted his hand and snapped his fingers.

In a flash, the other warriors struck. Nightmare swung his sword, Soul Edge, and cleaved off Megatron's cannon arm. The sailor-uniformed girl drew a blade and removed his other arm. The Xenomorph leapt onto his chest and began to tear away the armor plate, shrieking madly. The Predator deployed its wrist blades and slashed at his legs, rendering them inoperable. The metal giant collapsed backward, helpless and incapable of transforming.

"Wh-What?" the Predacon grated, his vocal processor losing power. Dio sauntered up the Cybertronian's hulking, ruined body, and came to a stop standing over his head.

"The Master of Games was not pleased by your continued failure. As a result, I am now the head of this team. Nothing personal."

With that, Dio shoved his hand through Megatron's head, found a grip, and tore off his faceplate, the optics ripping off with it. He tossed it aside and jumped down to the robot's chest. He peeled back what was left of the armor and removed a small, glowing sphere.

"Ah, the spark chamber. His wretched little soul. Mr. Everdeen, would you care to do the honors?" he said, tossing it to Katniss' father. The man caught the sphere with ease, set it on the floor, and trampled it underfoot. The fragile metal shattered, and the light within faded.

"Well, now that that's all settled," said Dio, twisting the metal on the robot's chest plate. "We can do things the right way."

He then sat down, having folded Megatron's remaining chest plate armor into a seat, the massive robot's entire body becoming some sort of grandiose throne.

He pointed at the girl in the sailor fuku.

"You there. Ryuko Matoi, is that right?"

The girl nodded. She seemed to be grimacing.

"Not used to the control bud yet, are you? Don't worry. You'll find it a lot easier to follow orders soon enough. Anyway, I'd like to send you on a mission. I want you to head out there and keep an eye out for the girl with the bow, the elf with the gun, or the little purple unicorn. The next part is easy, dear, stop that frowning. When you see them, you kill them! You can do it, I'm sure."

The girl knelt in respect. "Yes, Lord Dio. It will be done." She turned and walked toward the foyer.

"Now, Nightmare, go check the cellar. See if they have any half-decent wines in here, preferably something Sangiovese. If they don't have any, don't bother."

"Of course, Lord Dio," said the demonic knight, stomping away.

Oh, Dio thought. It is good to be in charge.

Katniss' legs ached, her throat growing ragged from her heavy breaths. She couldn't just keep running forever. She looked back over her shoulder- the creature was still following her. Its face was like that of a child catching a glimpse of some new candy, somehow innocent and ruthlessly greedy. It extended another long, flabby arm toward her, forming its fingers into a fleshy cage. Katniss spun, backpedaled, and fired an arrow into its palm. It pulled its hand back in pain, never stopping its steady advance. Each stride covered thirty of hers. Capture seemed inevitable; the real question is what it would do once it got her. It couldn't be good.

"Uuuuuuuurrr," burbled the titan, plucking the arrow from its hand. A thin stream of steam jetted from the wound.

Katniss turned and started her sprint again, hoping to reach the end of the street and turn, perhaps adding a precious few yards between her and the giant. She began to near the intersection, when she felt footfalls. The giant chasing her certainly didn't have that kind of weight behind it.

A huge black hand reached out from the street ahead and grasped the corner of the building in front of Katniss. Even with the creature closing in behind her, she skidded to a halt.

Aw, crap.

As it turned out, the hand belonged to a massive beast, which swung itself onto the street. Its gargantuan black body was covered in dense fur and stone, and it wore some kind of ornately carved mask over where its face should be. Its left hand carried a similarly carved club, which it promptly drove into the ground, sending shattered cobblestone flying everywhere. Katniss ducked for cover, and the giant behind her took a few steps back.

The new, larger creature stepped forward, its titanic hooves crumbling the street beneath them. It towered over Katniss, regarding her silently. She lifted her bow, and fired at one of the creature's blue, carved-out eyes. The arrow bounced off, clattering to the ground in front of her.

"Aw, crap," she hissed aloud.

The massive club slowly arced skyward, its apogee far above the buildings lining the streets. Katniss turned, only to find the giant still there. Suprisingly, it also seemed fixated on the newcomer. She breathed an audible sigh of relief, and took off at a sprint, back the way she had come. She cleared the oblivious giant and was about to duck onto another nearby street to make her escape, when she heard an unfamiliar voice.

"Look out below!"

Katniss barely had time to jump backwards as the street exploded in front of her.

"AW, CRAP!" she shouted, dodging the debris.

Two warriors climbed out of the crater, waving the dust away. The first was a man, but unlike any Katniss had ever seen before. He stood eight feet tall, and was built like a statue. He was absurdly well-muscled, with broad shoulders and huge arms. His long, black hair trailed down his back, and soft blue eyes peered intently out from under his bangs. However, despite his Olympian build, the man's appearance was certainly not… ideal. His skin was a nearly-transparent yellow, often failing to cover his bulging muscle. It was stitched together, the sutures forming a patchwork pattern over his body. He seemed to be a bizarre contradiction, a combination of fitness and decay. He carried in his arms his companion.

It was a girl about Katniss' age, maybe younger, with chin-length brown hair. She wore a short, frilly black dress, long brown leggings, and seriously bulky combat boots. Draped over her back was a long, red hooded cloak. She hopped out of the man's arms and practically skipped to where Katniss was sitting.

"If you don't mind," she chirped. "We'll just, ah, deal with the big guys."

She reached behind her back and drew a large, chunky-looking firearm, painted in bright red. Instead of leveling it at one of the monsters, she tapped a button on the receiver, and the weapon began to unfold. An oversized sickle blade popped out of the end, and the barrel extended into a snath- the gun had become a massive scythe. She twirled the weapon like a baton before planting its spear-like tip into the ground. She looked back at her partner, still dusting himself off.

"You ready, Adam?"

"Ja wohl."

"Then let's kick some giant tail!"

"I do not see a tail on either one, Ruby."

"It's an idiom. It means we beat the crap out of them."

"Ah. I see," said the huge man.

The girl addressed Katniss again.

"Just sit tight and stay clear of falling objects."

Katniss was still stunned from their sudden arrival.

"Falling ob-"

Without warning, the girl gave the huge scythe a twirl, and a massive finger from the more human-looking giant fell to the ground, belching steam like a hot frying pan dunked in water.

It must have been reaching over here while they were talking, thought Katniss. The giant pulled back its hand and howled in pain, while the black minotaur-looking creature finally brought its club down, annihilating half of the buildings on the block in a single swing. The girl rushed forward, ducking under the wounded giant's arms and sprinting toward the larger creature. She spun the scythe until the blade's heel skidded along the ground, when she promptly pulled the rifle's trigger. The barrel, which composed the body of the scythe, must have still been functional in this state, as the crack of a high-velocity rifle round echoed off the buildings. The recoil sent the upside-down scythe and its carrier flying gracefully toward the huge, shaggy black creature.

The large man, who the girl had called Adam, set his sights on the flabby, childlike giant. He leapt forward, the force knocking a few cobblestones out of place. Within an instant he had tackled the creature with enough force to upset its balance and toss it onto its back. He slipped to its neck, and upon finding purchase, drove his huge fist through the creature's skin like a hole punch. He swung himself to the left, and punched another hole into the monstrous neck, and another, and another.

Ruby seemed to be dancing across the large creature, between using her gun-scythe's recoil to keep her airborne and using the blade to swing about like it was some sort of jungle gym. She landed on a narrow patch of rock on the beast's back that perhaps was once a platform of some sort. She snagged the creature's fur in one hand and swung herself upward, leaping onto its masked head. The creature bellowed and thrashed, but she remained stable. She planted the scythe's spear tip in the center of the beast's head, and fired. The recoil drove the point into the skull, and a geyser of black ichor streamed out.

"MUUUUUUUUHHHHHH," groaned the creature.

"What's that?" Ruby called. "Do it again? If you insist," she cackled, firing the weapon again and again. The creature stumbled forward and fell to the ground with uncanny, slow-motion grace. Its blue eyes faded away, reduced to nothing more than carvings in stone. The girl hopped from the colossus' head to the street, ambling toward her teammate.

Adam shoved his arm inside of the titan's throat, tearing away at visceral tissues. The giant still attempted to pull him off, but if it even brought a hand close to the man, a swift kick would knock the limb far away. He pulled himself even with his row of perforations, and placed his hands on either side of one of the holes. With a growl of effort, he began to separate the two sides, the titan's flesh snapping apart under the force of his powerful arms. With a final heave, the head tore itself from the neck, rolling backward limply. Adam leapt from the titan, drenched in steaming blood. He ran a hand over his face as if he was wiping away sweat, flicking hot circulatory fluid onto the ground.

"Wretched, vile, disgusting," he muttered, vainly trying to clean the blood off.

"You think that's bad?" chuckled Ruby, covered in what looked like oil.

Katniss ran toward the newcomers, making sure to stay far enough back in case either decided to turn on her, or try to wipe their respective giant's bodily fluids on her.

"That was amazing," she said, not sure that 'amazing' was necessarily the right word. "Who are you people?"

"My name is Ruby Rose," said the girl, poking her chest with her thumb. She then gestured toward her friend.

"And this is Adam Frankenstein."

"Just Adam, if you don't mind," said the huge, grotesque man. "That other name is dead to me."

"And just who are you?" giggled the girl, pointing at Katniss with a leveled scythe. Katniss did not appreciate this, and delicately pushed the weapon's blade away.

"I'm Katniss Everdeen. Are you guys planning on fighting me, or-"

"Nope!" chirped Ruby.

"In fact, we were looking for a third team member," said Adam. Katniss wasn't sure why they would need one, considering how easily they wiped the floor with those creatures without her help.

Ruby's eyes lit up.

"That's right!" she grinned, tossing her scythe into the air and catching it in its collapsed form. "What exactly is it that you do?"

Katniss held up her bow.

"Does this give you a hint?"

"I suppose we could use a more dedicated ranged combatant," said Adam, stroking his chin.

Ruby's mouth opened like some sort of floodgate, releasing a torrential commentary.

"Yeah I guess Crescent Rose isn't that great of a weapon at long range I mean the rounds have the velocity and the aerodynamics but they're so large caliber I can't hit anything and the recoil is just well you saw it it's crazy and it doesn't work for sniping all that well and if we're going to capture the mansion we need somebody to cover us at range and also how do you do that braid it's really cute?"

"What," said Katniss blankly.

"Wahoo!" yelped Ruby, leaping into the air. "We've got us a new team member! Now we'll be team R-A… how do you spell Katniss?"

"Oh, boy," Katniss muttered.