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Fanfic / Ladder

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Ladder is the name of a series of The Powerpuff Girls Dark Fics written by Unliteration. The six fanfics in the series are: Ladder, Unstrung, Crimson And White, Project Rebreather, Ashes from Ashes, and Breakdown. The Ladder series has traits of both mystery and horror.

The first story starts with an eleven-year old Buttercup recovering from a cranial injury she received while on a mission in space. However, not soon after returning to school Buttercup begins seeing things that aren't there.

Unstrung takes place before Ladder, and focuses on Blossom as she descends into loneliness and obsession due to a tragedy. The third story, Crimson And White, is about a self-doubting Bubbles after events in the previous stories. Project Rebreather focuses on all three girls after waking up from comatose states as they try to piece together their lives again. The fifth story, Ashes from Ashes, illustrates Professor Utonium's struggles to keep his family alive, leading to his development of Project Rebreather. In the final story, Breakdown, the girls are on the run and must figure out how to stop the Professor's plans.

Ladder provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: She's only eleven but Blossom has a maternal relationship with Ashley (who technically is also her sister). This is because Blossom created Ashley herself.
  • Abusive Parents: Bubbles visits a boy in the hospital whose father beat him up so bad he lost one of his eyes and suffered multiple fractures.
  • Break the Badass: The nightmares and graphic hallucinations of her family members torn to bits causes the normally tough Buttercup to break down.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Blossom ends up obsessed with bringing back Buttercup to the point where she becomes reclusive and accidentally kills herself
    • Bubbles gets hit with this the hardest. The death of both her sisters combined with her partial blindness takes a huge toll on the normally sweet and optimistic girl. She becomes considerably more cynical and aloof afterwards.
  • Came Back Wrong:
    • Blossom tries to create a copy of Buttercup to transplant her memories into. She is unable to kill her and decides to raise her as a little sister named "Ashley". Ashley however turns out to be unstable, which is suggested to be because she was created using Buttercup's ashes, and violently kills the first criminal she encounters. She kills herself less than an hour later. Even later revivals of Ashley turn out to be hit-or-miss.
    • According to Professor Utonium, all the previous revivals of the girls have been this. They're either unstable or they react poorly to their memories and have to be terminated. He ended up having to abandon Project Rebreather (which used their original bodies) and use clones instead to avoid this.
    • In Ladder Buttercup's hallucinations are a result of her coming back wrong.
    • Buttercup in Project Rebreather has the memories of both her original version and Ashley, though she eventually decides to live as Ashley.
  • Creepy Child:
    • The physically five-year-old Ashley is one. No matter how many times the Professor resets and revives her, she usually ends up behaving very off. This ranges from violent behavior to less than appropriate interactions with Blossom. Bubbles believe it's because she was created with Buttercup's ashes.
    • Bubbles herself ends up losing her childish innocence as the story goes on. It gets to the point where she becomes a Serial Killer. Even after she's recovered from that, Bubbles is still uncharacteristically sullen, quick to anger, and prone to profanity.
  • Death by Depower: Antidote X causes the girls to die of injuries they'd normally heal from due to it taking away their powers.
  • Death of a Child: Several characters under thirteen die.
  • Demoted to Extra: Though Ms. Bellum is a reoccuring character, the Mayor only appears for the girls' funerals.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Mojo Jojo kills himself in Ladder. The girls originally thought it was a trap, however it was real.
    • Ashley kills herself a day after being created.
    • Though Utonium refuses to consider it a suicide, Blossom did accidentally kill herself when she tried to saw open her head in an attempt to jam a piece of alien metal into it and have Buttercup take over her body. All it did was cause her to bleed out.
    • Amber commits a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Family Theme Naming:
    • Subverted with Ashley, who doesn't have a name that starts with "B". Blossom likely wanted to distance her from the memory of Buttercup.
    • Amber, an incarnation of Ashley, also subverts the "B" theme.
  • Handicapped Badass: Bubbles ends up blind in one eye after Mojo shoots her in it. She's still a capable fighter even with being partially-blind. This is fixed after she's revived again.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Princess stops wanting to be a Powerpuff after Blossom's death and befriends Bubbles.
  • In Medias Res: Ladder starts off from Buttercup's POV after being revived several times already. The sequel (which is from Blossom's POV) begins with the girls still in space on their mission and delves into Buttercup's death.
  • Kill the Ones You Love:
    • The Professor repeatedly kills his daughters in order to perfect them.
    • Bubbles strangles her best friend Princess due to a misunderstanding.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Mr. Morbucks loses his daughter Princess to a serial killer.
    • Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup all end up dying within months of each other. Their father refuses to let them stay dead.
    • Blossom is both Ashley's sister and her mother. Ashley dies not soon after creation.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Subverted. Despite looking exactly like Buttercup, the characters remind themselves that Ashley is her own person.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Buttercup fears this is happening to her in Ladder due to having very violent hallucinations and nightmares. In reality she is remembering her past deaths.
    • Blossom undergoes one due to Buttercup's death. She feels responsible for it and misses her.
    • His desire to bring his daughters back causes this in Professor Utonium. He kills and revives them repeatedly in hopes of them eventually forgetting their traumas so they can return to a normal life, and even killed a man to cover up the fact Bubbles killed Princess.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Harvester is referred to as male until the reveal that she is really Bubbles.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Bubbles ends up killing her father at the end of Project Rebreather. He has a backup body though.
  • Serial Killer: A serial killer named "the Harvester", who targets criminals appears late into the series. He ends up killing Fuzzy Lumpkins, Princess, Sedusa, and most of the Gangreen Gang. It turns out the serial killer was Bubbles the entire time.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: The normally innocent Bubbles is this, of all characters. She curses quite a sum, especially when she goes into her seizure-like states. It's very uncharacteristic of her, so the Professor thinks it's a result of brain damage caused by bringing her back to life.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The first installment, Ladder, has Buttercup suffering various violent auditory and visual hallucinations.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Bubbles loses Buttercup, Blossom, half of her vision, and Princess in all under a year. That's not even including her dying herself, being revived and killed several times, and being forced to kill her father.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 18 of Ladder reveals that the Professor killed Bubbles and Blossom.
    • In chapter 17 of Unstrung Blossom creates Ashley.
    • Bubbles loses an eye in chapter 22 of Unstrung.
    • In the final chapter of Unstrung Blossom is found dead.
    • At the start of chapter 21 in Crimson And White Princess is found murdered.
    • Chapter 26 of Crimson And White reveals that the Harvester is Bubbles.