An excerpt from Battle of the Multiverse: New Beginnings.
Dante and Thresher eventually made it back down to the lab, and were immediately greeted by an awaiting Evron. Thresher was the first to exit from the elevator, walking briskly past the ninja, and causing him to glance at her weirdly. "What's with her?"
Dante just shrugged. While Thresher didn't explicitly tell him, the look that she gave him up on the balcony made it clear that Thresher didn't want Dante to tell anyone what she had revealed. At least, not yet.
"Why, were you worried about me or something?" Thresher mused.
Evron turned and sneered, "Pfft, in your dreams. I just wanted to make sure that you weren't up there planning to blow up our home or something."
Thresher crossed her arms, "Surrre you were."
"Anywayyy," Dante began and turned to Hale, "have you discovered anything new yet? Something we can use to stop Vyros?"
Hale nodded, but it wasn't a confident one. "Well, the good news is: I did find something while you were gone, sir."
"And the bad news is?"
"It's nothing really to do with this, 'Vyros', character that you all are looking for." Hale said, messing with his hair.
Dante raised an eyebrow, "Then... Who is it for, exactly?"
Hale turned his attention from Dante, to Thresher, and finally to Lotus. "This one." He pointed out.
Lotus looked at Daeva, and then at Hale, pointing to herself. "M-me?"
"Precisely, little one." Hale affirmed.
"Well, do you know what it's about for her?" Daeva asked.
Hale slowly shook his head, "Unfortunately not, princess Daeva. At least, not yet, anyway." Hale turned and studied one of the larger monitors. "It should take me a few hours to gather everything I've found together."
"Well, that settles it then." Thresher said and turned to the ninjas. "So, what do you guys do for fun around here?"
Dante smirked, "Funny you should ask that, because Evron and I did plan on sparring with each other today. That is, unless he's too scared to now."
Evron snorted in disbelief, "Please! I'll kick your ass so hard, you'll be wishing for a new one!"
Dante got right in his brother's face, "Okay, let's make this interesting then."
Daeva groaned, "Noooo, not another bet."
Lotus looked up at her, noticeably confused. "What? Are they like, really competitive or something?"
"That would be an understatement, honey."
Evron narrowed his eyes, "What'd you have in mind?"
"If I win, then you have to cook breakfast for all of us, everyday, for a whole week. AND, you have to get a gorgeous makeover from Daeva." Dante responded.
Daeva grinned excitedly, rubbing her hands together. "Okay, noow I'm interested."
Evron shuddered at the thought. "And what about when I inevitably win?"
Dante shrugged, "Same thing applies to me. But you and I both know... That's never gonna happen."
Evron studied Dante's smug face, and finally smirked, his red eyes glowing brightly. "You're on, woman hair."
Without a second to spare, the two ninjas raced to the elevator, pushing and shoving one another out of the way to get there first. Dante soon just teleported out of the lab, leaving a bewildered Evron to curse loudly. "Heyyy!!! That's cheating, asshole!!!" He roared before blinking out of the room himself.
Thresher rested her hands on her hips, a smile etched across her lips. "Well, this should be interesting." She mused.
Lotus turned to Daeva with excited eyes, and bouncing up and down. "Can we watch them?? Please please pleaaasseee???"
Daeva laughed, rolling her eyes. "Fiiine, let's go. Just don't get too close, okay?"
Lotus gleamed, "YAY! Come on, come on!!" She exclaimed, literally dragging Daeva by the arm towards the elevator.
Thresher started to follow behind them, but stopped to glance back at Hale, whom was vigorously typing away at a computer panel. "You sure can find Vyros?"
"Don't underestimate me, miss." Hale turned to Thresher, "I'll find him. Now, you all go and fun, and leave me to my work."
Thresher nodded, and went to turn around, but stopped once more. "One more thing: Who is your money on?"
Hale grinned to himself, "You'll just have to wait and see, won't you?"
Thresher smirked underneath her mask, "Looks like it."
Upon reaching the outside of the kingdom, Daeva, Lotus, and Thresher were met with a massive crowd that had already arrived before they did. They gazed out to the expansive fields, several hundred yards away, and laid witness to Dante and Evron circling one another.
"Huh, looks like they've drawn quite the crowd, haven't they?" Thresher mused.
Daeva didn't answer, she was more focused on what was about to happen than anything else. She knew how crazy her brothers could get during a sparring session, especially when there was a bet involved; Daeva needed to be ready to intervene if things got too crazy. Lotus glanced up at her, noticing Daeva's concern. "Are Dante and Evron going to be alright?" Lotus asked.
Daeva gazed down at the girl and gave her a warm smile, "Don't you worry one bit about them, sweetheart. They'll be just fine."
Lotus chewed on her bottom lip nervously; she had her reservations, but she trusted Daeva. She returned her attention to the inevitable battle in front of them, squeezing Daeva's hand.
"Sooo, how does Evron expect to win this? Dante completely outclasses him, I can feel it." Thresher pointed out.
Daeva pursed her lips, "Evron is a master tactician; what he lacks in raw power, he makes up for in strategy. Whatever he's planning for this fight, he's been doing so all day. Whether or not it works, however, is a different story."
Dante and Evron continued to circle one another, reading the other's every movement.
"You sure you still wanna do this? I won't hold it against you if you quit now." Dante mocked, smirking.
Evron frowned, "Stop talking and let's do this already."
Both ninjas then stopped and faced each other, hunching down into their respective fighting stances.
"When I win, I want a big stack of those things from Earth that Ubel keeps talking about. What'd he call them again? 'Pancakes'? Yeah, those sound delicious." Dante mused.
"Well, when I win, I want bacon, and LOTS of it." Evron threw back.
Thresher adjusted her mask, "Here we go." She murmured.
Daeva tensed up a bit; things were about to get hectic, and fast. There were murmurs and whispers among the crowd, individuals mainly asking if they were a little too close for comfort, and if things would escalate or not.
"Hey bro..." Evron suddenly called out.
"Don't hold back." Evron smirked.
Dante smiled, "Okay, if you insist."
In the blink of eye, the two ninjas raced towards each other, charging at light speeds. When they connected, the entire realm felt it, causing for the ground beneath to shake violently, and everyone to nearly be knocked off balance. Evron was sent flying backwards from the sheer kinetic impact, spiraling out of control for several thousands of feet before managing to regain control. He shook his head clear of any dizziness, and was instantly met by Dante's fist less than an inch away from his face. Evron just managed to dodge to the left, feeling and hearing the titanic sonic booms that surrounded that potential blow. He tried to go for an undercut attack to Dante's stomach, but was immediately denied from a sharp parry by the latter's knee. The two ninjas went on to trade blow for blow, parry for parry, with Evron being kept firmly on the defensive. They traveled across the sky at speeds of light, appearing to almost be blinking in and out of existence every nanosecond. Just then, a brutal roundhouse kick from Dante sent Evron careening to the ground like a falling meteorite. The warrior smacked into the earth with an ear-shattering, BOOM, kicking up a cloud of dust that reached miles into the sky, and splintering the ground all around him. Evron quickly pulled himself up from the crater, and had less than a millisecond to flip out of the way of Dante's flying fist slamming into the dirt.
Evron landed about a yard away, and immediately dashed towards his brother like a raging bull. He tackled Dante off the ground, taking him further and further into the sky. Thinking quickly, Dante grabbed a handful of Evron's hair as leverage, and planted a sharp knee square in his gut. This knocked Evron loose and higher into the air. Dante flew towards him, aiming a fist straight at his face, but connected with nothing. "Evron", disappeared into thin air, leaving Dante floating in the air.
"A decoy." He thought to himself.
Just then, Evron came down from above like a diving falcon, hurtling a heavy foot at Dante's cranium. The latter was quick to read this, and side dashed out of the way just in time to answer back with a well-placed elbow to the back of Evron's head. The tactful ninja flipped through the sky, heading for ground level once more, but Dante was waiting for him this time. When Evron was close enough, Dante sent him back into the air with a back flipped kick, teleported, and launched Evron back to the ground once more with a downwards elbow. The ninja Prime continued this assault, even alternating between up and down, to left and right.
Thresher stared on in slight shock and awe; She couldn't believe what she was seeing . "What the hell is Dante doing, Daeva?! That's his own brother that he's pummeling! Why isn't he going easy on him?!" Thresher demanded.
Daeva sighed as she watched on. "He is." She muttered.
Daeva pointed her head, "Watch this next strike, look at Dante's movements."
As to assist in making Daeva's point, Dante landed yet another quick and brutal strike to Evron's visage.
"You see how quick and hasty he's being in his attacks?" Daeva pointed out.
"Yeah, so?" Thresher asked.
"Soo, if those blows were deliberate and had even half of Dante's power behind them...Evron would've been long dead by now." Daeva turned away from the fight to look at Thresher. "He's been holding back this entire time, because Dante knows that he can't go all out, not with Evron, and not here. He'd never truly risk the life of his siblings, or the sanctity of our home for a bet."
Thresher stared at Daeva for a moment, before gazing back up at the battle at hand. "So this... This is just a sliver of your power, Dante?" She wondered.
Lotus remained silent, completely fixated on what was going on. A part of her was excited, getting to witness firsthand what a ninja's power was really like. But, Lotus was mainly nervous; she was still fairly green to all of this, and she didn't want her new family getting hurt in any way. Maybe she should stop the fight...
Finally, after being juggled for what seemed like hours, Evron managed to find a brief but clear opening of escape. Using it, he dashed to the right of Dante's incoming kick, and, using the latter's momentum against him, body slammed the ninja Prime with all of his might. As Dante flew towards the earth, Evron held out a splayed, left palm, clutching the forearm with his right. Soon, red energies literally began stretching from his fingers in the form of bright red lightning bolts. The energies converged and congregated to form a growing orb in the middle of Evron's palm. The sphere continued to increase in size, until it was around the size of a basketball. Then, with a ferocious roar, Evron unleashed the massive torrent of energy from his hand. The entire surrounding area glowed red as the the chaotic beam raced towards it target at light speeds. Still dazed from the previous blow, Dante had no time to react, and was soon enveloped in a sea of blinding red energy. The enormous amount of pressure and force pushed the warrior deep into the ground, digging him further and further down.
Everyone that was watching shielded themselves from the enormous blast, and the hot air rushing towards them as a result. Daeva wrapped Lotus in her arms as tightly as she could, turning her back to the explosive power. Thresher dug her heals into the dirt as she tried desperately to keep her mask from flying off. Seconds later, the blast had ceased, and everyone slowly and cautiously peeked out to see what had happened. Thresher shook the wild locks of hair out of her face, her yellow mask eyes blinking in and out due to interference from the energy beam. Daeva looked down to make sure that Lotus was okay, and found her a little dazed, but ultimately just fine. She then looked up to find an enormous, newly formed crater placed a few miles away, and sighed to herself. The land would quickly heal itself after this was finished, but there was another problem to be had now.
"Oh no..." Daeva murmured.
"What is it?" Thresher inquired.
"...Things just escalated." A new voice answered from behind. The three turned to find Aphrodite standing behind them, her attention focused on the large, smoldering crater in front of them.
Evron descended slowly from the sky, and found his footing a few hundred yards away from the hole in the ground. He was on edge, for he knew what was about to transpire next. Seconds later, Dante exploded from the crater and landed in front of it. His clothes were singed and still burning, and his skin was covered in smoke and dirt stains. His green eyes glowed intensely, staring straight at Evron. An angered frown was traced on his lips, and he clenched his fists, cracking them. Eventually, said frown faded to a tiny smile, and Dante chuckled.
"This is fun." Dante mused and went on to summon the Twin Jewels of Valor into his hands.
"I'll say." Evron confirmed.
"Ready for round two?"
As Evron too summoned Shikoro, the both ninjas went on to summon their respective armor over their entire bodies. Without anymore words, they began to circle each other once more, blades at the ready, and ignited with raw energy. Now, it was serious.
"Wait, what do you mean, 'things just escalated?" Thresher spoke to Aphrodite, confused.
The Olympian goddess kept her eyes trained on the upcoming battle, slowly shaking her head, eyes filled with angst. "Evron just turned the tables, and both he and Dante realize it." Aphrodite sighed, "Dante won't be holding back nearly as much now."
"Yeah, this is going to be a pretty short fight. I hate to say it, but Evron's got no chance this round." Daeva agreed in a heavy voice.
Thresher turned her attention from Daeva to the fight, inadvertently adjusting her mask. "Go easy, Dante, don't be an idiot." She murmured.
Dante and Evron continued circling one another, blades at the ready. Their eyes were intense and serious, their brows set and determined, and their postures...Ready. The two ninjas soon ceased their dance, and faced the other. There they both stood, as still as a statue, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Just then, Evron's left eye twitched, and that was the trigger. Dante surged towards his brother at light speed plus, giving the latter absolutely no time to react. The ninja Prime slammed into Evron so hard, that the kinetic energies were enough to crater the ground beneath them for miles in every direction. Evron was hurled through the air like a speeding bullet, his body shattering the sound barrier. The wind had been pummeled out of him from that one, single blow, and had the ninja slipping in and out of consciousness. Eventually, Evron recovered and shook himself awake just in time to see a blade headed straight for his armored chest. The ninja managed to parry the sword with not even a nanosecond to spare, catching it in the serrated teeth of his own. Even though he may have caught that one, there was still another blade for Evron to worry about. And, in less than the blink of an eye, the ninja was blindsided with a powerful slash to the side of his helmet, sending him barreling towards the earth. Evron quickly pulled up at the last minute, and somersaulted safely onto the ground. No time to rest was given, as Evron just barely leaped escaped within an inch of Dante's blade sinking into his cranium.
Dante pressed his assault, unleashing lightning quick jabs and slashes, and forcing Evron to remain firmly on the defensive. The latter was quickly becoming overwhelmed, only able to parry one strike before getting hit with another. The sheer heat, combined with the force being put behind each consecutive hit, was enough to buckle Evron's defenses and push him backwards. Dante threw one of the jewels at Evron's legs to stumble him, and then teleported behind him, and back flip kicked him into the sky. Evron had no time to recover, as Dante was already awaiting his arrival above, and slammed him back to ground with his feet planted firmly into Evron's chest. The force of the collision was enough to hurl dust and massive particles of disturbed bedrock and soil thousands of miles into the air, conglomerating into a towering mushroom cloud. When the dust finally settled, the two ninjas had been swallowed by an monstrous crater. Evron lay embedded several feet deep in bedrock, with Dante standing over him, swords pointed right at him.
"I think that's game, bro." Dante confirmed.
Evron growled, "Not yet."
"Come ooon, Evron. Just say you lost, so we can go and get started on those... What are they called again?"
"PANCAKES!!!" Evron roared, before exploding out of his dirt prison, and hurling Dante back. The former's body glowed a deep red, energy circulating all around him. Evron crushed Shikoro into red cinders, and replaced it with two, white hot blades formed entirely of raw neutrons. Dante stood across from him, visibly surprised by Evron pulling out the Neutron Sabers; he only used those things when it was absolutely necessary.
"Evron, come on, that's enough. Let's just end it here before things get out of control!" Dante offered.
"Not until there's a clear winner! Now, quit talking and let's finish this!"
Dante stared at Evron for a moment, thinking of what he should do. If he walked away, Evron would still attack regardless; he was never one to stop sparring until there was a definitive winner. So, with a deep sigh, Dante readied for battle, aiming to end this as quickly as possible. Both ninjas ascended into the sky, high enough to not cause any harm to the onlookers below. When they were high enough, Evron was the first to engage this time, charging forth with a thundering war cry. Dante soon met him, and, once they clashed, the sky bellowed and shook. Evron was fast and vicious with his strikes, relentlessly slicing and slashing at Dante, desperately trying to land a hit. The latter wouldn't allow it, however, as he casually dodged and weaved every potential hit with effortless grace. He could still feel the immense heat behind those blades, however; one bad hit, and he'd be in serious trouble. Dante rocked Evron's face with a quick punch, and shot across the sky away from him. Evron was quick to recover and gave chase. The ninjas lit up the sky with red and golden energies, streaking across like speeding comets. Evron sped after his prey, trailing behind him with steely determination. Unbeknownst to Evron, Dante was merely leading him astray; it wasn't Dante who was the prey.
Thresher watched on intently, tracking them as they raced through the air. "What's Dante doing? Why is he running away?" She asked.
"He's not." Aphrodite calmly corrected, smoothing her hair. "He's ending this fight."
"By leading Evron into a trap, making him feel as though he has the advantage." Aphrodite said.
Thresher crossed her arms, "I'm not sure I completely follow. Wouldn't Dante be putting himself at as disadvantage by doing that?"
"Not when it comes to Evron." Daeva piped in. "By Dante doing what he's doing right now, it gives Evron a false sense of security, making him believe he's the one in control. Evron always let's his guard down whenever this happens."
"Huh, you'd think he'd learn by now, right?"
"Yeah well, that's Evron for you: Stubborn, hot headed, but still keeps a stuffed dragon that our Mom gave to him in his closet." Daeva snickered.
Lotus cracked up as well, her eyes still glued to the fight above. "Oooo, I'm gonna taunt him sooo hard later." She mused.
Aphrodite gave a pleasant smile to the girl, before she also returned her gaze to the sky. "Don't go too hard on him, hun." She thought to herself.
As the ninja brothers neared the towering mountains in the distance, Dante suddenly turned on a dime and charged Evron. The latter was thrown off guard, and immediately halted himself to block the incoming attack, but was utterly confused when Dante teleported away. Evron whipped his head to and fro, trying to get a visual; he needed to finish this, and fast. Evron couldn't use his Neutron Sabers for long, less he wished for his energy to be severely drained. Just then, Evron heard what sounded like a miniature planetary collision happening above him, and he looked up just in time to be met with Dante's fist planting itself into his face. Without hesitation, Dante punished Evron with a considerably held back, but still devastating ultimate technique. Instead of 500,000 consecutive hits, Dante went easy, and only landed roughly 40,000 blows to Evron's person. These hits consisted of several different punches, kicks, blade strikes, and finally, to finish it, a nasty elbow to Evron's face. The ninja fell from the sky like a rock, spiraling out of control. Instead of smacking into the ground however, Evron was met by an awaiting Dante catching him in his arms. Evron craned his neck to look at him, and could tell Dante was smiling from ear to ear, even with his helmet on, from his eyes alone.
"Can you stand?" Dante asked.
Evron grunted a dry, "Yeah." And stubbornly pushed himself off of Dante. When Evron found his footing, he fell to one knee, still considerably dazed and weakened from the battle. Fortunately, Evron did allow Dante to help him up and fly him to the kingdom.
"Soooo..." Dante began.
"Don't say it..."
"....I winnn! Which means... Pankites for the next the week!!!"
Evron ripped off his mask and chucked it into the sky. "Pancakes, their called, PANCAKES, alright?! If I'm gonna have to cook these damn things for you and everyone else, then at LEAST you can remember their damn names!" He barked.
Dante smiled, "Look, don't be mad because youuu lost the bet, okay?" He taunted.
"Please! I didn't 'looose' anything, you cheated like always!" Evron shot back.
"I didn't cheat! I won fair and square, and now you're just upset because I absolutely wrecked you! Just admit it, and we can move on."
"Only when you admit that you cheated."
"I. Didn't. CHEAT." Dante retorted.
"Did so!" Evron snapped.
They both bickered back and forth like that all the way to the kingdom, where mostly everyone had returned to whatever they'd been doing previously. The only ones left remaining were the four girls, awaiting their return.
"Well, that's the end of that." Thresher casually informed. "So, how long was all that, huh? That must've killed a good bit of time."
Daeva shrugged, "About 15 minutes, maybe?"
Thresher gazed at her, sinking her shoulders. "Seriously? That's all?! Damn, well... What else do you guys do for fun around here, besides nearly killing one another?"
Daeva thought for a moment, before her blue eyes glowed brightly with excitement. She looked down at Lotus and grinned. "You wanna go and make some of the best cupcakes that you've ever tasted?"
Lotus's face brightened, "Um, YES!"
"Good, because Aphrodite makes some that will absolutely blow your mind."
Aphrodite grinned and nodded, "It's true, they're preeetty great."
"Well, what the hell are we waiting for?! Let's go!" Lotus exclaimed and dragged Daeva by the arm, inside.
Thresher went to follow, but stopped and looked over her shoulder, pondering.
Daeva stopped and looked back at her, "You coming?"
"Yeah yeah, I'm just gonna wait for the boys to get here. We'll catch up."
Daeva considered her for a second, before finally nodding and following after Lotus and Aphrodite.
Thresher was resting against a marble pillar when Dante and Evron finally made it back. They landed and Evron woozily made his way towards the entrance, shooting Thresher an annoyed look.
"Nice work out there, McMeanStud." Thresher mused, walking alongside him.
"Ugh, shut up."
"No, I'm serious." Thresher defended. "You were fighting an uphill battle the entire time, but you held your own out there. You've got my respect."
Evron looked at her, before quickly looking away. "Thanks."
"Hey, so where is everyone else?" Dante suddenly asked.
"Your girlfriend took Daeva and the other one to go and make some cupcakes, or something."
Dante's eyes widened with excitement. "Aphrodite's famous cupcakes?!"
Evron looked at him, eyes wide as well.
"I'M GONNA GET THERE FIRST!!!" They both roared and raced off towards the kitchen, leaving Thresher behind, both bewildered and amazed.
She just stood there for a minute, resting her hands on her hips, trying to process what just happened. "I...Are cupcakes like a multiversal thing or something?" She asked aloud.
"Must be. Cupcakes are, according to various lifeforms: delicious." Gaze's voice suddenly spoke out from Thresher's pocket.
Thresher let out an annoyed groan and smacked the side of her pocket, and headed towards the kitchen.
"And yet they don't know what a pancake is..."