Titanium was astride her motorcycle, rolling through the streets of New Rhodia under the light of the almost blue-white halogen streetlamps. The otter's powers meant that she didn't bother with protective gear in favor of her comfortable lycra super-suit. The only protective gear she went with was high impact goggles comprised of a pair of round lenses set in separate frames. Along with the band holding them together they fulfilled many of the same purposes of the mask many other heroes preferred.
The electric motors on each wheel whirred quietly, the majority of the sound from the machine being the wheels on the asphalt below as she glided along. Her patrol route was taking her out of the newer glass-clad high rise apartments into the older brownstones where a good deal of the city's upper-middle class housing lie. Those who could afford to maintain the 'old fashioned' lifestyle and didn't care how much more unsound brick construction was. Her cookie-shaped ears stayed perked, for any sign of someone in need.
A woman screamed, echoing out from a nearby alley.
Arci landed on the rooftop of an old brownstone, turning his head towards the direction of the sound. Changing direction fluidly, the acrobatic skunk ran to the edge and leapt, redirecting his momentum into an arc. Down below, he spotted a poodle woman cowering as a stoat booked it away, holding a purse that most certainly fit better with the dog's dress than his balaclava.
The mephit's path through the air abruptly shifted as he rotated, tail trailing his movement. The striped banner showed just how preternatural the control he had over his trajectory was. Arci brought his knees forward, striking just above the mustelid's shoulder blades. He cancelled the force as the dog stumbled, reaching forward to snatch the purse from the purse-snatcher.
The mugger grunted, twisting around with a drawn switchblade in his other hand, extending his leg into a lunge back to keep himself from toppling back. He jabbed the knife towards the skunk, still in midair.
Arci's gloved fist connected with the hand holding the knife, the firm strike of the blunt studs on the glove's knuckles shocking the stoat's hand to release. His steel-toed boots met the asphalt lightly as he finally touched down, shifting into a counter lunge. Abruptly, no longer behaving like a rhythmic gymnast's ribbon, the skunk's tail surged forward, fluffy tip first to wrap around the mugger's arms, pinning them to his body.
The length of the skunk's tail continued to wind about its target, a loop constricting on the stoat's spread thighs dragging his feet back together and binding the mugger's legs together easily. Arci looked the struggling crook in the eye through his single lens corrective goggles. "Really, I don't want to hurt you."
Struggling, the mugger shook about, his feet falling out from under his center of gravity. He was toppling over amidst the bundle of tail nearly obscuring all of him from sight.
Arci once again cancelled momentum a mere inch from impact, resulting in a far gentler landing than would be expected. He crouched down over the criminal to make sure he hadn't hurt himself, still holding onto the poodle's purse. He exhaled in relief at the annoyed grumble the stoat made, turning his head back towards the canine. He opened his mouth to ask if she was hurt.
Then a fist came at him from one side.
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Titanium rounded the corner of the alley to see a skunk in a punk jacket and ski goggles holding a purse with a woman cowering behind him. He was looking back towards her, his teeth bared and open. Two and two equals punch. She rushed the distracted thug and wound back her arm, swinging her webbed fist right at his side, beneath the arm holding the purse.
The otter connected, striking the purple pleather. To her surprise instead of the loud smack of fist on flesh, or even a crack of ribs accompanied by the thug getting thrown across the alley into the wall, he just flopped over gently, as if he had merely been shoved.
The poodle yelped, standing upright abruptly against the brick wall.
The skunk looked up at Titanium, confused. "What the hell..?"
Titanium stared at her fist... why didn't that go how she'd thought? Was there a power dampener nearby?
Slowly, the canine approached, looking between the two costumed characters, her expression no longer fearful.
The otter put her fists on her hips, smiling. Either way, the woman would get her purse back, she was sure of it.
"How dare you do this to a younger hero, just starting out?" The poodle yapped, pointing at the skunk.
The mephit sat up with a grunt, holding out the purse to the civilian. "Where was this assertiveness when this guy had a knife on you, lady?"
Titanium looked down. In the bundle of the skunk's tail was a grumpily struggling stoat wearing a balaclava. Over by the wall was a cracked open switchblade. "Oh. Ohhh." The otter rubbed the back of her head, blushing a bit.
"I mean, she's far more dangerous than some mugger." The skunk continued as the poodle reached to take the stolen item.
Incensed still, she snatch the purse back. "I don't care!" The dog looked the super-otter right in the eyes through her goggles. "He hasn't even been in the papers yet, and you go around interfering with him in the course of his duty!"
Titanium had scrunched her muzzle a bit at the skunk's insinuation before she was once again on the receiving end of the older woman's tongue. She opened her mouth again, brow furrowed.
"Papers only report on masks with rich benefactors." The punk mephit muttered.
The poodle continued, as if not hearing that at all. "He's not going to get anywhere in this city if established heroes go around punching him, Titanium!"
The heroine looked down at the seated skunk as he rolled his eyes, then back to the supposed mugging victim, having an abrupt urge to tell her to talk to the manager.
"Ma'am, I'll hold this guy here until you're safely away. You should get going home." The skunk slowly stood, dusting off the taut lycra stretched over his hips and thighs with his gloved paws.
The woman huffed, giving him a look, before stomping away in her heels down the alley away from the pair of heroes and the attempted criminal.
Titanium looked back at the poodle as she left the alley, before looking to the other goggle-wearing hero. "Uh... sorry about the misunderstanding... and... uh... her." She rubbed her forehead between two fingers. "But why didn't you go flying? The amount of energy I put behind that punch..."
The mephit chuckled. "Oh... my primary power is to absorb and release kinetic energy. Makes taking punches a lot easier if you remove all the wound up momentum that accumulated on the way to you." He gestured punching the palm of his other hand, stopping when he made contact before finishing the motion in a much weaker fashion.
The otter perked. "Oh! You're that kid Morpheus was talking about!"
"Arci. And we're like the same age." The skunk pouted a bit, defeating the point.
The bound stoat fidgeted, trying to wriggle free while the heroes were distracted.
Arci squeezed his tail a bit tighter. "I was gonna let him go with a warning once I was sure that lady was gone, unless you had a better idea."
Titanium rubbed the side of her index finger against her chin thoughtfully. Slowly her pensive expression turned into a smile. "Well..."
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The all night Diner was a place that Arci had seen in passing in his patrols quite often, but hadn't entered. Inside, it was florescent lights and white tile, red vinyl upholstery and silver edges to every table.
In a corner booth, the skunk and the otter had set up still fully in their super-costumes, chatting over their platters of appetizers. Arci picked up a pierogi from his plate and tossed it lightly across to the otter.
Titanium snatched it out of the air with her jaws, and then threw her arms up in the air in triumph as she began to chew.
Sitting between the two heroes, still bundled up in the skunk's tail, was the stoat. The attempted mugger sighed a bit. Arci had put earbuds in the male's ears up under his balaclava to let him keep his anonymity, at the very least. Attached to the headphones' cable there sat a smartphone with a kickstand case.
An informational video discussing the economic realities of life in the twenty-first century was playing, complete with the regular internet video staples of eccentric characters and throwback comedic graphics. The volume was on high enough that the bound stoat found it easier to pay attention to than the two young heroes' banter.
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Tsumi reached an arm across Tris' lap to get at the bowl of popcorn nestled between his belly and the arm of the couch on the far side. The moogle and the pup were watching television, the comedic montage scene of the diner playing out on the screen. The labrador was dressed in a snug v-neck shirt and snug boxer-briefs, his arms and legs covered in matching striped arm and leg warmers. The smaller pink male opted to stay in just his cut-off jeans, showing off his trim frame.
"You know, that was a lot shorter than I was expecting it to be." The black lab commented as the smaller male settled back on to leaning against him. He eased an arm down to give the moogle an affectionate squeeze.
Tsumi stuffed his handful of popcorn in his mouth, munching away. He swallowed his mouthful and shrugged. "But they're doing good stuff with their budget, kupo!"
Tris sighed a bit, munching a couple popped kernels for himself. "It's also kinda obvious they didn't know how to end this episode."
The pink moogle pouted, and then slipped out from the dog's grip. "You know what? I'm gonna make cookies, k'po." He stood upright and stretched, pom glowing between his upraised fists. He flitted his little wings and then happily bound into the kitchen.
The dog took another paw-full of the popcorn, eyes still locked on the screen, and started to munch. Behind his messily heliotrope-dyed bangs and glasses, his eyes widened. "Wait." He looked toward the kitchen as Tsumi reached to turn on the oven. Tris shifted his weight to stand. "Wait!"
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Forest was sitting at his desk. The wolf typed along, working from home as was the usual for the time being. Despite the relative privacy, he made a point of continuing to dress in his semi-formal clothes, a black button-up shirt snug to his slightly pudgy torso. His grey tail swayed back and forth out the back of his seat contentedly as he stayed within the groove of his productivity.
Suddenly, he sat up straight, feeling a heated rushing sensation rising up his throat. The grey wolf's neck swelled out in a wave from collarbone to throat, then his cheeks puffed out, before he finally released the rolling belch, expelling smoke from his depths in a billowing cloud. Forest stared, sniffing at it. "Cookies?" His expression softened from concerned surprise as he realized just what had happened, settling into an affectionate smile as his eyes turned downward, lidded. "Oh, you two~" He rubbed at his plump midsection through his snug shirt, his tail wagging faster behind him.
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Tris coughed a bit, waving his hands back and forth to try to get the smoke away. All around him the cabin he shared with the moogle was charred and partially blown apart. The popcorn, even if it hadn't been spilled when he stood up to stop this disaster, was burnt beyond edibility.
Partway through the movement of his paw in front of his face, the air was abruptly clear. The labrador looked around as the cabin's destruction reversed itself quickly, in sequence back towards the kitchen. When Tris looked followed the reconstruction (or was it de-destruction?), Tsumi was standing by the island across from the oven, grinning.
Sitting on a cooling rack on the countertop in front of the slender male was a perfectly baked batch of cookies on a broad sheet pan. The powder-pink moogle grinned, using his oven mitts like hand puppets. "See puppy-po! Nothing to worry about, k'po!" Tsumi casually picked up the tray and shook it so that the fresh-baked cookies tumbled into a neat pile on a plate. "Want milk?"
Tris sat down, finding the popcorn bowl safely sitting on the coffee table in front of the sofa, full of perfectly popped kernels. He sighed, blushing slightly as he remembered how this must have occurred. "Thanks, wuffles..." He turned his head back towards the kitchen, "Yeah, I'll have a glass!"
The episode on the television had rewound as well, ensuring neither observer in the Forest would miss out on what happened next.
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Titanium grinned, raising a meatball in her hand and flicking it high into the air. She watched the trajectory nearly hit one of the florescent lights before plummeting right for the skunk.
Arci leaned and caught the meatball in his mouth, starting to munch on it. His eyes widened behind his lens goggles as she wound her arm up to throw the next directly at him. The skunk raised his hand instinctually.
Both stared as the meatball halted halfway across the table and plopped right down, inches from hitting the propped-up smartphone.
"Woah." The otter looked down at it, then at the skunk's paw. "That power is pretty neat."
He didn't hear the praise, however, staring at his own hand. "I... I thought I had to be in direct contact to do that."
Titanium's eyes widened. "What? You mean you could have been Neo-ing bullets this whole time and didn't know?"
"Uh... I think a meatball's a lot easier to react to than a bullet." Arci chuckled awkwardly, poking at the food with a toothpick to bring it over to his plate.
Grinning, the otter wound her arm back. "What about a meatball going the speed of a bullet?"
Arci yelped and dove to the side as she punctured the vinyl upholstery of the booth seat back with the soft meaty projectile.