Finally inside their own starting areas, the four children were greeted by another employee. A calico cat dressed in a suit made to directly oppose the chameleon who was, no doubt, coaching the family across the way. All black, looking as though it had some special accolades along her chest. Purple hair tied high up in a ponytail, leaving a single bang out front. “Alright children.” She spoke up, her voice being fairly energetic, directly contrasting that no-nonsense voice of the chameleon across the way. “Today’s going to be the day where we, the Kamaitachi, beat the evil forces of the Hebikame! I’ll go ahead and explain the rules of the game, since you guys haven’t played this version, yet.”
The first screen comes on behind her. “As you kids know, I am Ms. Angela, and I am no longer your guide, as I used to be. I am now your commanding officer and I will be leading you through this quest. The name of the game is destroying Manafell, and doing it better than our rivals across the way. I’d give you all a refresher course on them but I know they need no introduction, so I’ll get down to the nitty gritty.”
A panel opens before them now, rolling out a large array of fantastical looking guns of all shapes and sizes. They had the basic functions of SMGs, shotguns, sniper rifles and the like. The options were aplenty to the players of the game. “Manafell are creatures made of mana itself. Therefore, whatever powers that any of you wish to employ against them will be nearly useless. So instead, these guns will be your main methods of destroying these monstrosities. But considering I know you cubs, I think I want you all to experience how to deal with them yourselves.” There was a rather smug, knowing grin on her face upon saying this.
“Hey hey, isn’t that a little unfair?” The bunny piped up. “We’re good, but you think we’re okay to just be thrown out there like that?” He looked a little annoyed since he could tell she was breaking from the script just for them.
“Heh, you kids topped the old leaderboards on an individual basis. “You really think I’m going to just give you an advantage over a newbie family? Nah, you’ll figure it out, I know you kids more than well enough to know you’ll be able to take them on, even without the profiles. Part of the fun of the game, after all. So, let me break this down. Each of you will begin this game at Level 1. This will be useful for later games, as we try to balance the game and make sure your opponents are on a similar level, or handicap you so that the game comes out fair.” She began, and as she did, a hologram of a generic body appeared before them. “Each of you will begin with 100 hit points. Each hit you take will cause hp damage depending on where you’re hit. Once your HP reaches zero, your gun will vanish, and you’ll need to heal back at the station. Your team will also lose points. You, of course, gain points for every Manafell taken down, as well as points for any opponent you take down as well, as you’ll be sharing the battlefield with the opposing team.”
“Oho, I see, so it’s going to be against the monsters AND the others?” Rekka cut in, a rather excited grin spreading along her face. “There’s so many ways to win!” She exclaimed, pounding a fist to her palm.
“Correct. But it doesn’t end there.” The feline folded her arms under her bust, continuing to explain the game. “Five minutes per round, and you’ll be in different environments for each. The game ends after the third round if the points are close enough, and the most points wins. If the points are so high in favor of one team then it ends after the second.”
By now, the quad were all standing before her, each with their own versions of excitement showing. Of course Maverick and Rekka were absolutely pumped to be getting down and dirty with a game they could work with their friends on. Terry, however, looked a bit anxious. He was used to the laser pistols from before, but this was a bit different to him. That nervousness was strong enough that Taku, ever the calm one, put a paw on his shoulder. “This’ll be fun, I promise.” He reassured, squeezing that slender, brown shoulder. “Trust me this will be a really good time.”
Terry responded, looking up into the slightly younger boy’s pink hues, nodding assuredly, but at the same time, still nebulous. “But...I always play support for you guys. I’m not used to being the one dealing the damage. I don’t wanna screw up or slow you guys down…”
“Then snipe.” Rekka commented as she looked over the array of weapons. “You’re fine with doing that, right? Stay far, make sure you cover for us in case we don’t catch something. I know you have really sharp eyes.”
“Not to mention you’re really good at guiding us around. With you goin’ high, you can tell us what moves to make in case something goes wrong.” The fox added in. “Snipe is basically support when you think about it so this works perfect for ya. We know you got our backs.”
The usually unconfident mouse felt himself going a little red just from being hit with those compliments. “...Y-yeah. I can do that. I always promise that I have your backs. T-that won't change now!”
“Don’t worry, you’ll be here to support each other. One of the neat little features of the collar is that it also works as a communication device. So strategize away…” The feline reached over and hit a couple buttons on the panel, and before them, a large timer appeared, informing them all they had 5 minutes to choose and prepare, before stepping into the battlefield.
“Alright, who’s on what? Normally Vannie’s here to come up with a plan.” Maverick grumbled a bit as he stepped to his own panel, eyes scanning the various firearms presented to them. His ears perked when he found a set he liked. A pair of semi automatics that he could wield akimbo. He hit the button, and the two weapons slowly appeared in his hands. First the white outlines of the guns took their time generating, before conforming themselves to his young paws, and giving an appropriate weight that would ensure he could use them smoothly during combat. “If it was up to me, Rekka and I should play close and medium range. Taku you’re good with long stuff so why don’t you use something with medium-longish range. And Ter, I’m good with Rekka’s idea of you sniping. Your eyes can keep us safe and you can take down anyone that gets too close.”
There didn’t seem to be any objections, either. Rekka even found the very weapon she favored when it came to playing video games, a shotgun. As with Mavy, it generated first, before ensuring it was the best weight based on the biometrics that were scanned in before they entered their team room. Taku chose an assault rifle, and Terry selected a powerful sniper rifle to use during the course of this game.
“So, I wanted to let you kids know, cosmetics and stuff come from playing and leveling up, and specific achievements will land you with cool stuff and who knows, maybe even upgraded equipment to play with.” The feline grinned, tail flickering some as she inspected the kids. Boring, solid white guns with blue lines to signify the curves. Nothing special, nothing signifying as their own. She held out her hand, and a weapon generated in her own paw. A long-barreled handgun. It was decorated with a pair of light pink tassels, and had a bit of a glowing, pink hexagonal honeycomb pattern over a silver body. With a flourish and twirl of her gun, she took aim and fired at the wall, leaving behind a digital wound that was shaped like a smiley face. “This is what the game looks like when you play long enough. You cubs ready to come back more often?”
All 4 of them stared at that decorative weapon in complete awe. The same thought ran through each of their minds at once.
“So...we’re coming back, like, every day right?” Maverick was practically drooling at the possibilities.
“Heck yeah we are! May not play another game again!” Rekka chirped directly after, holding her shotgun away from herself and imagining it with the black metal and pink skulls decorating it, spikes in inappropriate places and all.
“Heh, nothing’s wrong with the pure white style, either. Could just use a little dress up and I think it’ll be perfect.” Taku responded, looking on at the rifle he was excited to summon.
“I really hope I can afford to come here as much as you guys. I can’t wait to see how awesome I can make this thing.” He said, staring a little longingly at the sniper rifle, fantasizing, but his reality anchoring him from getting his head too far up into the clouds.
“For something like this I will pay for you every time if I have to.” Rekka spoke up to the mouse. “Honestly we need all of us here every time if we’re gonna make sure we always win. Although...we are gonna win this one, too, no doubt.”
Taku finally stepped up, hitting the button to load up his rifle, the little meter along the side of his magazine filled up, and the small screen on it displayed 30 to show how many rounds he had to go. “Alright guys. Let’s do this. We got about 2 minutes, and we know our order. Mav and Rekka, get out front and wipe out as many of ‘em as you can. I’ll back you guys up and do what I can to slow down the other guys. Terry, stay as far back as you can and get as high as you can, I’ll back you up until you’re in position. Focus on the other guys, and tell us if they make any sus moves so we can counter.”
“Oh! S-sure! I’m not used to you taking charge. You’re usually as quiet as me.” Terry laughed a little bit behind the butt of his rifle. “But your plan’s good. I promise I’ll do my best!” He pumped an excited fist.
“Well…” The rabbit felt that cream-colored fur on his face redden up a bit. “I...I just know that when the one that usually comes up with the plans isn’t here, someone’s gotta step up, I guess.”
“Mission will begin in T-minus 30 seconds. Please step to your platforms and prepare yourselves.” They all understood, moving over to their individual platforms. Maverick, being the ever-playful one, was striking poses with his twin submachine guns. Taku’s demeanor changed to that of an infantryman, hand on his assault rifle, and standing at complete attention. Rekka planted the muzzle of her gun to the floor and leaned on it, looking decidedly more nonchalant than the rest. Terry had the butt of his rifle to the floor, and he held the gun close to his body. All 4 of them stared at the panels before them until everything seemed to change.
The wall parted, opening up to reveal what seemed to be a large, wide open savannah. Grass everywhere on slightly hilly terrain, trees scattered about the environment, and large rocks jutted out in a few places, with formations that looked like they would make for good hiding spots and vantage points. The area behind them had vanished, and from the looks of it, had become part of the environment, too. The team stood opposite of the coyotes on the far other end of this expansive environment. Looking down, they noticed their feet were planted firmly on one of those rock formations that seemed to shape itself like a platform.
Beneath them were these fairly grotesque creatures aimlessly roaming about the amber grass. There was some semblance of homogeneity among these creatures, despite all seeming to be varying and random in terms of build and shape. They all had a powdery white-blue hue to them, skin or fur almost having a metallic sheen to them. Some resembled feral wolves, some bears, and some even had the bodies of birds of prey, and some, larger reptilian creatures. Despite the recognizable features, they were larger than their natural counterparts, and twice as menacing. Another common feature is them having a part of their body that seemed to be a rainbow hue that took on an even more menacing shape. The wolf that seemed to be charging out was a good example. As it dashed nearer to the platform of the children, their eyes would notice that a singular, right front arm was slightly larger, the claws very visible and dangerous looking.
“Early points!” The wolf girl laughed as she took a running jump from the platform, diving in and holding her shotgun tight before her, took a shot once she closed the distance. After pulling the trigger, a burst of energy bullets spread from the slug, destroying the head of the creature. There was no blood or viscera, the insides looking like it was held together by its own energy. The body then faded away, leaving behind a number for all to see. “CRIT 1000! Headshot!” That quickly faded out as well. Upon taking the shot, she tumbled forward and slid, getting to a knee and aiming down the sights, not skipping a beat.
“Geez, that girl doesn’t even give us time to gather our thoughts. Alright, let’s go!” Taku called out, which led to Maverick speeding off to catch up to his lupine rival. “Just don’t forget to stick to the plan!” He then looked to his mousey compatriot, nodding to him for a moment. “Let’s scan for a good spot for you.” He said, stepping up to the edge of their platform. The flatlands and small hills seem to stretch beyond what the eyes could see, which is impressive for being in a vertical space. There were a few of those gorgeous acacia trees spread around as well. Aside from that, swarms of different types of manafell were crawling all over the area. The bun’s eyes rested upon a tree with a thicker outcropping of branches a bit further away from the others. “There. Let’s go.” He took off, keeping a bit of brisk pace in front of Terry, providing him cover from the front as he gripped his gun and speedily mowed down some of the creatures in the way.
Terry took his time moving, though. Snipers weren’t good in close range, so the protection that was being offered was such a massive boon. He would make sure not to be useless, though. His own sharp eyes were looking for any high-priority targets that would impede their path. “Taku, my back please.” He informed him, before dropping to a knee and taking aim at their 6 o’clock. A flying creature, carrying those same pale blue hues as the grounded creatures. Red eyes and razor-sharp talons, and a wingspan that could likely envelop both of the rodents. “Sorry, I don’t wanna be your snack today Mr. Bird. You’re gonna have to chew on this instead.” He said, taking aim, and letting loose a shot from the rifle. His accuracy was on the mark. CRIT 1,500! “Alright, looks like the big one’s down. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, wiped out everything in front, let’s go!” The bunny said, smirking from his own victory. The two fist bump once again before rushing forth to get Terry in prime sniping position.
“Woo hoo! This is so much more awesome than the style of the last boring ol’ tag, eh Mav?” Rekka belted out excitedly. She was so into this game, her body was moving like she was the protagonist of a video game herself. She rushed toward crowds, letting off blast after blast from her shotgun, dealing major damage to anything close enough to her.
As though they were in total sync with each other, Maverick’s movements were a lot more smooth and graceful, moving in lock-step with lupine comrade. As she ducked and spun, Maverick was dodging and weaving, feet gracefully dancing along the digital amber waves of grass beneath him. Each heavy shot from the shotgun would be met with a flurry of bullets from the light machine guns in the fox’s paws, either taking out whatever remaining health was left on them, or priming their health to ensure that Rekka’s next shot would be the finisher. During this deadly dance, the two found themselves locking eyes, and with a following smirk, spun around and pressed to each other’s backs. Maverick’s guns reaching low, pressing to the wolf’s hips and Rekka, being the taller of the two, placed her shotgun on Mavy’s shoulder, one-handed firing off, at the same time the fox released a wave of his own bullets, and the two began to move in unison, blindly wiping out their own swathe of enemies before them. They took pride in their teamwork, enough so that they were both blindly scoring points as they pressed to each other's backs. “Nice shootin’.” He laughed.
“Same to you. You know if we had actual guns you’d be deaf right now, right?” She responded with her own chuckle as she moved forward to take out even more.
“We wouldn’t be here if these were real guns. Those things are heavy.” He smugly responded, still working on wiping out more.
It wasn’t long into the duo taking down so many in such quick succession, a larger bear of a creature was running toward them on all fours. Once the distance was closed, it opened its mouth and fired off a laser blast of its own, Maverick just barely dodging, taking some graze damage and losing a little bit of hp along the way. “Ah, shoot!” He said as he felt the vibration shoot through his gear and right along the part of his shoulder where he was hit, the game emulating damage with localized vibrations. “Crap, Rekka you-dang it.” He noticed that she was getting swarmed with a lot of smaller creatures, taking them out as fast as she could but was also having difficulty.
“I’m catching up! This game is harder than I thought it was gonna be. I’m trying to get to you guys but there’s a lot of these things.” The rabbit called over their collar communicators. “Heh, there’s a lot more pressure than I thought. Are you guys doing okay?”
Before Maverick could answer that, the large bear reared up another shot. At this point Mavy was firing at it but his guns weren’t going to do enough damage to take it out before it fired. “Crud I might go down here. Back up Rekka as soon as you-” Before he finished that sentence, the large bear went down, disintegrating as it’s body hit the floor.
“Don’t worry guys, I got you. I promised I would always watch your backs. That includes games, too!” That cheerful voice piped up over their communicators. Looking back to where the mouse was, sitting up against the trunk of the tree, seat nestled upon the branches that supported him. He even gave a cheerful wave to the group, before raising his rifle and aiming down the sights for any other dangers. “Let’s win!”
The coyote family on the other side of the planes got to see the other squad immediately fire off into their own game, and considered doing the same. “Alright men!” Derek shouted, going into full-on Sargeant mode. “Ateeeen-HUT!” He shouted to his children, intending to get them to stand at attention and follow his protocol. “Men we have the key to victory here and now is the time to take it! Our enemies on the other side are but mere friends, unable to truly understand how an entire family unit mo-Trevor!” It was already too late. The Thirteen-year-old wolf had already struck out on his own with his own AR-15 rifle, gunning down every manafell he could see, taking particular joy in his actions. “Trevor, the plan!”
“Yeah no thanks loser! I’ll win us this game by myself, you all can just stay back and sing your little kumbaya crap!” The rat-tail haired coyote shouted as he bolted away, dead-set on soloing this game. “This is mine.”
“Ugh...as usual. Little jerk can just freaking do and say whatever he wants. Dad, I didn’t even want to be here today.” The tall teenager complained. He was barely holding the grip to his handgun, just raising it to gun down any manafell that got too close to their healing zone. “And Trevor is always doing something to ruin it. Just...go.” His voice carried such an empty sadness to it.
“Are ya sure, Rico? This should be a time to bond! Come, bond with us! You’ll feel much better if-”
“Dad, it’s okay.” Eric chimed up. “I’ll help him cheer up. Go catch up with Trev before he gets KOed before we even get to do anything.” The youngest of the family and the kid’s classmate offered his dad a kind smile. “Oh! Nice one Riko! You’re really awesome at this game and it’s just our first times and you already took a couple out! So cool!” He said as he noticed his teenage brother plant one between the eyes of a nearby Manafell.
“O-oh. You don’t have to cheer me on, I’m not even doing anything.” Despite his protests, there was just the smallest smile spreading across his cheeks.
“Then it’s time for Daddy Derek to show off! I’ll show you kids how a real soldier does it! Stand back and be amazed at what your time in the service does to you!” The man ran out now, and despite being so out of shape, was (attempting to) roll around, (trying to) drop down prone quickly, and firing upon anything that got in his way.
"And there he goes." The youngest brother began to giggle as he watched the beer-bellied father take off to show the kids how it's done. "Let's walk together, Riko." He reached out, tugging at that baggy top of his brother's.
He realized that his dad and the middle brother were no longer in eyesight, he sighed and dropped his guard.
"Yeah. Sure." Once again, quickly popping a few light bullets into the attacking creatures before they could reach either sibling. "Ugh. Why did he drag me here? He knows I can't stand hanging out in a group like this. I just wanted to stay home."
"I know…but dad loves us. He loves you!" He held his hands out, revolvers akimbo, doing his best to wipe out any that could interrupt them, stopping occasionally to admire his brother's shooting. "Oh man I think you're gonna get more points than me, Riko, keep it up!" It was eating him up inside, watching his oldest brother seem so downtrodden. Despite the dark clothes and overall teenage rebellious cynical personality, he still usually had his own unique shine to him. But that spark seemed gone, and the youngest coyote wanted to bring it back. “Let’s try to earn more points than dad and Trev!” He giggled, now rushing to his older brother, and despite the size difference, stood back to back with him and doing his best to play the role of back-to-back bosses as they tried to wipe the field together.
Riko felt the effort that the child was putting into cheering him up. He was a smart young man, and he knew that his brother wasn’t always the ‘cheer him on’ type, at least not to this degree. But he genuinely felt the care put into making him happy, and at the very least, the dismay that was stuck upon his face. Finally, instead of firing off a couple lazy shots here and there, he finally took a stand, planting a foot into the grassy facade, held up his own pistol and began to fire, taking out the creatures with ease and intense accuracy, even without having to close an eye to aim. “Heh...I guess...this isn’t so bad. It’s a lot more fun when you don’t have someone trying to make you have fun, that’s for sure.” A little light began to shine from his dark appearance.
“Right!? Plus if they’re taking pictures of this we’re gonna have the most awesome double-team pics of all time! They may even put us in the hall of fame!” The proud pup responded, spinning around to his older brother’s side and firing off a volley of shots, which were quickly picked off by his older brother’s sharp aim, taking out this current wave as well. And as though they were true partners on the battlefield, they pulled their guns up to their lips and blew out the pretend smoke coming from it at the same time.
That warm feeling didn’t last long, though. Eventually the teen’s arms dropped to his side, and he’d look to the ground again. “...Tyson and I would normally be doing this together and killing it. He was always so awesome with any game involving guns...stupid fucking weasel!” He cried out, painful memories clearly flowing back in. Before he could let out another word, he felt those arms wrap around his waist and a head resting against his back. He stopped his pained growls, looking back and down at the other boy. “...I...I’m sorry. It...it still hurts.”
“It’s okay big bro. We’re here to help you cheer up. So let’s-what the..?”
Automatic shots were heard ratta-tatting out from somewhere nearby, and they knew it wasn’t one of their own team. “Woo-hoo!” They heard that voice as a figure sprung above a nearby wave, raining bullets down upon them before running to a nearby tree, firing off and wiping out that wave. “Yo! Hey Eric! Hey Eric’s biggest bro!” Maverick said, waving to them, relaxing his stance and walking over to them. If anything, he knew there wouldn’t be any attack from them. “He doing alright?” He asked as he saw the duo hugging it out.
“Riko...got broken up with. He’s taking it kinda hard. That’s why we’re here. To help him feel better. At least...that’s what we were supposed to do. Dad and Trev went off to do their own things, I guess.” Eric explained, releasing Riko now to look at the fox.
“It’s whatever. Not like I ever expect either of them to help me out anyways. So I don’t really care about that.” He sighed, adjusting his beanie a little bit, before taking aim and firing off at the first offender of the next wave, preventing it from firing a beam at the opposing team member.
“Well, how about we take out a few together. Do some cool poses and stuff like that? Make a little extra fun out of it. Let’s see if I can score more points than you two while we’re here?” He chuckled, aiming both of his guns now at the oncoming horde. They agreed to this little challenge, and they all stayed close, but just far enough to start defeating their own enemies.
The little squad was having a blast, showing off for each other, implementing teamwork, and scoring some major points for their own teams. As Maverick finished off another couple of bogeys, he turned back to walk toward the other two, he felt a hand suddenly grip his shoulder, hard enough that he felt a claw dig into his fur. “Damn, kids really are stupid.” Before Maverick could react to anything, he was yanked backward, and a leg kicked his own from behind, knocking him to his back with a hard thud, and the shock of the impact disarming him. “...You really aren’t supposed to talk to your enemies.” The middle child of the coyote family looked down at the prone kid, aiming that rather immaculate assault rifle, decorated with a black and gray camouflage and skulls along the barrel, at the young fox, firing a volley of laser shots at his legs to cause as minimal damage, but to ensure his hp was low enough for the Manafell to finish him off.
“Hey! What the heck Trevor! Why are you such a jerk! We were having fun!” Eric wailed, running over to help his friend, before unceremoniously being grabbed by Trevor. “Let. Me. Go!”
“Nah, just watch and have fun.” He laughed loudly as he watched the fox attempt to scramble to his feet. Of course, before he could fully get up and ready, instead of letting the Manafell do it, he decided to do it himself, aiming that glossy rifle at the kid’s face. “Actually, I think it’ll be more fun to do it myse-” He was cut off, feeling himself glitch out for a moment, before realizing that he had just taken a critical hit, his equipment forcing his body to vibrate a bit to show that his health hit zero. He looked up, trying to find where that shot came from, growling loudly. “What the hell!?”
Maverick’s communicator began to buzz. “It’s okay Mavy. I wasn’t gonna let him bully you.” The voice of that mouse rang up over the device.
“Hah, always knew I could count on you, Ter!” He responded, scrambling back to his feet.
“You little bastards! Oh just you freaking wait for the next round.” He grumbled, turning away and sauntering back to the healing zone to recover his hp and ammo. As he was on his way out, the trio would hear him angrily shout “FUCK OFF!” at seemingly nobody in particular as he seethed, sauntering away.
“Hey little dude…” Riko stepped forward, fully helping Maverick back to his feet. “You okay? Ugh...sorry he did that. He’s...like that.” The coyote rubbed the back of his head looking extremely embarrassed. “I’ll...throw next round for you kids. I don't actually care about winning.”
“Nah nah, you guys came here for a game so, let’s play. It’s all good.” He dusted himself off, walking over to pick up his weapons. The round was called pretty quickly after, and the players were called back to their teams. “Hehe, see you guys in the next round.” He grinned, flashing them a peace sign before darting off to catch up with the rest of his team. As he walked by, he crossed the semi-portly coyote, and as they passed, the fox boy smiled and offered a nod. “Hey, Mr. DiMartino.” And the man, still in full soldier mode, gave the cub a nod as he walked by, giving a formal “Cadet” as he walked by.
The two squads reconvened in their respective barracks while the next stage was being prepared. Three of the four kids armed to be in fairly high spirits, to feeling as though they've accomplished quite a bit when it comes to their individual scores, especially since they were in the lead, although but by too much. Maverick, on the other hand, seemed a bit perturbed. Slamming his back against a wall, he belted or a target frustrated sigh. "Dang it. Why is that dude such a prickwad? I hope the jerk gets in trouble next game!" He let out another exasperated groan, shutting his eyes and trying to find some inner peace to shake off the frustration.
“You alright, Mav?” Taku walked up to him, placing a consoling paw on his shoulder. “What happened?” Crystalline eyes peering concerned at the boy.
“The big brother, I think his name is Trevor, got a sneak attack on Mavy when he was with the other two. It was such a mean thing to do.” Terry chimed in. “We got another round to deal with him so...we just gotta be careful not to let him do that again.” The little squeaker gripped tight that hard light rifle of his, inhaling and exhaling frustratedly as he stared at the doors that led to the next round.
“Yeah...I’ll be alright so long as that jerk learns his lesson.” The fox’s eyes closed his own eyes, a smirk crawling over his face now as he began to twirl the weapons in his palms, before taking aim at the doors. “So I’m going to make sure I embarrass him. He wants to act all high and mighty so I’ll take him down a few pegs. Whatever he scores, I’m going to blow it outta the water.” The boy, despite his frustration managed to pipe up haughty as ever. “Best way to beat a cocky jerk like that is to wipe ‘em out when they think they’re at their best.” Which followed a bout of confident laughter - only punctuated by his own rival.
“Don’t get too ahead of yourself, Mav.” The wolf pumped her shotgun before slinging it over her back, grinning back to him. “...We’ll wipe the floor with him together because I’m going to make sure I score even better than you! So don’t you dare let up for even a second!” She held up a balled fist, which was met in turn with the fox pounding it.
“Just make sure that you’re working together, not against each other. Things get a little tough, don’t hesitate to call.” The bunny stepped up, pointing to their communication collars. “We got each other’s backs in this. Remember, the goal is to win this together.”
The whole squad nodded and gave each other these strong looks of solidarity, before facing forward, ready for the next round to begin.
“Welcome team, to Round 2. In the last round, you guys were doing well at the start but the opposing team managed to rack up a ton of points near the middle of the game. Be careful. This round is your opportunity to bring it back. This new round will be a lot different. Before, you were the hunted. This time, you will be the hunters. There will be Manafell all over the place. PVP is still active, but the monsters are your targets. Time to get ready! Round two is about to begin!”
The doors opened up again, now revealing a landscape totally opposite to the original. A dilapidated city had replaced the wide open, beautiful savannah. Gone is the rolling yellow grass, acacia trees to accent the spaciousness, and freedom of movement that they had grown accustomed to in that short time. The sky was gray, almost as though the sun had abandoned this place, just as any signs of life, save for those creatures that are surely skulking around. The buildings around them were broken, windows missing, and stretching as far as the eyes could see, both above, and in front of them. The atmosphere was tense, and despite there being two teams of four, just taking those first steps out into this new realm, the cubs felt...alone, even in this virtual landscape.
“Alright guys. Looks like this stage is better suited for us with close range. Rekka and me are gonna go in and take care of the ones in buildings. Terry, you should get in a tall building. Taku, mind playin’ backup and keeping the streets clean if they start swarming in?” Maverick was the one thinking of the strategy this time around. “If I catch the jerk, I’ll make sure I take him out myself.”
“Sounds good to me.” Rekka agreed, as did the other two. “Three, two, one, lets go!” She shouted as she and Mavy darted forward, ready to get directly into the action. The duo of rodents, however, looked at each other and nodded, knowing what to do for their mission as well. Stepping off the platform, they both stood, back-to-back to survey their surroundings, looking for an appropriate high point for Terry to set up to snipe. Their ears remained perked, chests rising and falling slowly as they scanned their environment for their mark. The silence of their searching was punctuated by the mouse perking up.
“Found it! Protect me please.” He said, looking up at his target location. The little mouse straightened out his skirt, before hopping up onto a closed dumpster, and with that same agility, sprung himself up to grab onto the hanging ladder with one paw, then climbing up with that same agility he showed as a cheerleader. Taku kept a decent space behind him, making sure nothing could get in a sneaky attack on him. “It’s just up here!” He pointed to the nearby window, a few stories up. “That one’s got a good spot. I should be able to see everything outside from there.”
“Understood. Head up, I’m going to back up the rest of them if you got it from here.” The lapine responded, leaving the alleyway, and the mouse up to his own devices. Like a trained infantryman, the rabbit sprinted back out into the desolate streets. Damaged cars and broken storefronts surrounded him on all sides. That, and those creatures again. A few feral coyote-like creatures, still with that pale-blue fur, devoid of life, stepped forward from behind a few of the trucks in the area. “Of course.” He rolled his eyes, springing off of one foot and launching himself onto the roof of a nearby minivan, before taking aim and starting to fire, crystal blue eyes bouncing from one bogey to the next, then letting his body respond in turn. His shoulders moved left and right as he planted a few light rounds into each of the offending creatures. The points were racking up as his own wave was taken out very methodically. He spotted one last one stalking near a rather old looking car. A knowing grin slid on his face, and he took aim at the gas tank, and just like in the movies a large explosion took out that last remaining one. “Heh...satisfying.” He smiled, although musing to himself on if these were programmed with zombie rules, and the noise would attract more. Not important. “Mav...which way did you go?” He asked to himself, hopping off the car and sprinting down the street to catch up.
A few blocks north, the two canines could be seen together. “I really wish we had a spinning camera like the movies to catch this moment." Maverick said, his arms wide as he sprayed into the crowd of large cat Manafell that were surrounding them. His back was pressed to the taller wolf, who was pumping her own shotgun and firing off to finish off any creatures that got near after having taken damage from the submachine guns the fox was firing off.
“I know, right? Shoot this would probably make for the coolest ad. Duck.” She tacked on at the end. No hesitation, Mavy bent down and Rekka rolled over his back to get in front of him, firing off a volley of pump shots to finish off the crowd. “Hm? Hey...that jerk’s stalking nearby.” She said, her ears perking up as she catches Trevor skulking nearby.
“He’s mine.” The fox responded. “Keep getting us points. I’m going to take him out myself. Payback time.” He said, getting ready to break away from her and rush toward the teen coyote.
“Go for it. I’ll make sure to keep your silver medal nice and shiny.” She said, swatting the fox’s rear as she sent him off. He looked back at her with a bit of an eye roll, then darted off. “Looks like it’s my time to show off.” She sprinted in the opposite direction, having fun with her own dives into the crowds, blasting away at any so-called threats.
Maverick, meanwhile, slowed down his pace. “Oi. C’mon out I know you’re here.” He said as he sauntered toward the light pole he knew the other was sneaking around. The other came out to face him, deciding to be upfront about this coming battle. “That move you pulled in the last round was cheap, and you know it.” His voice has certainly dropped and a cold glare was reflected in those mis-matched aquatic and steel eyes. He stepped up to the other, and despite being nearly a head shorter, showed no fear.
“Please, kid. At first I didn’t even feel like you deserved to battle someone like me, but I guess you’re not a complete little punk if you want to step up to me. Fine, let’s do this. One on one. Man to toddler.” He said, using a free hand to shove the fox on his chest. The boy stood his ground anyways.
“Alright. We’ll take 10 steps and then we turn around and fight like they do in the movies. Sound good?” He said, taking a single step back to stare his opponent in the eyes.
“...Sure. Fine, whatever kid.” He shrugged, before taking a few steps back to the corner. Maverick complied, turning to step to the other side of the narrow street. His steps were slow and cautious. He knew they were on a time limit, after all, but he couldn’t help but to feel...untrusting. It seemed as though his instincts paid off, too. “Dumb. Ass. Kid.” He laughed under his breath, before taking aim and firing. By that point, Maverick had already ducked to the right and dove across the street, getting behind a trash can.
“Dude! You couldn’t even do THIS right?” he growled, before firing a couple shots at him without aiming. At this point, all bets were off. The fox began darting down the street, keeping low to hide behind the cars, while the older boy dashed after, firing indiscriminately, to keep the cub suppressed. He took a few hits along the way as well, but his well-timed dodges allowed him to keep at least half of his health once he managed to get completely out of firing range. “Freaking psycho!”
“No, being real, I still don’t think that a little brat has any right to come at me!” He fired off a few more shots, causing Maverick to duck down again behind the wheel of the SUV he was ducked behind. “So...no I’m not going to play fair because you don’t deserve to fight me. It’s that simple.” He chuckled, still advancing toward where he believed Maverick was.
The fox stayed quiet as he improvised a plan. He wasn’t going to lose this, no matter what. After devising a quick plan, he removed one of his shoes, tossing it up in the air and at his assailant. The coyote took the bait, too, starting to fire his weapon at the offending footwear. That tunnel vision of shooting whatever moves was his downfall, and Maverick was banking on that. The fox slid out from behind the large vehicle, lying on his back he sprayed both guns up at the teenager, quickly depleting his health before he had the chance to fire back.
“What the fu-HEY! THAT WASN’T FAIR YOU LITTLE BRAT!” He felt the sting of defeat again, and was ready to get physical, getting ready to charge at Maverick for real this time. The kit sat there with a smug grin, too, expecting to take the hit, knowing the older male would be booted from the game if he was feeling froggy enough to jump. However, upon seeing that grin, he stopped himself and glared. “Y’know what? Wait until I see you again. You’re done.” He abruptly turned around, rushing back toward his respawn zone, looking up as something took his attention, but kept on his way.
Maverick closed his eyes and sighed out, getting back to his feet and dusting himself off, running up to get his shoe back on. Thank goodness this game was mostly digital so no damage befell his sneaker. “Ehehe...payback.” His eyes shined with vindication now as he rushed back toward his lupine friend. “Threat eliminated.” He said, going back to their crossing where they were easily able to spot and take down any additional Manafell in their area. “Hopefully that’ll teach him not to bother us anymore and he’ll stick to the monsters.” He chuckled through a reload.
“Good. Jerk deserved nothing else but to get whooped by you.” She expertly fired forward, then again behind her back without looking, knowing her friend had the finesse to ensure he wasn’t in the way. The pair showed such strong synergy as the battle raged on, running alongside each other to gun down a wave, sometimes styling with each other by vaulting over or spinning around back to back, dominating the groups around them while having a blast.
Meanwhile, as the game inside raged on, a different scenario had come up on the outside. The bat that owned this establishment was standing at his counter, hands up, looking a bit on the nervous side as a portly male, body covered in a black trenchcoat, black pants, a tail-covering, and a white mask with the letter Z in the middle of the forehead loomed over him with a spiked bat. “Please...just hand over all of your money.” The voice was modified by the mask, making his identity that much harder to discern. “I don’t want to have to hurt hurt hurt you, sir.” He spoke with that stutter that almost contradicted the depth and intimidation factor that his voice modifier was giving him.
The bat looked rather annoyed and was hoping he could talk him down. “Seriously big buddy, why are you robbing an arcade? This is a mall, we have all sorts of places still open. Why here? C’mon...let’s ta-” He was quickly interrupted by the man tapping those hardened spikes upon the glass surface that contained the smaller prizes, causing that particular panel to shatter into the various junk toys.
“Oh dear gosh, I’m sorry sorry sorry!” He said with a start, before shaking his head and trying to put himself back into his fearsome mode. “N-no that was meant to happen. That’ll be your face if you don’t comply!” He tried to ramp up how fearsome he was with this, but to little avail.
“Oh my god, I cannot believe this is happening while I still have kids here…” The owner grumbled, ears pinning back and eyes slitting, before following up with a light facepalm. “Oh, divines help me…”
“Don’t worry guys, I’m here to help.” The mouse smiled as he was firing off round after round to eliminate those digital creatures. His place, supporting his friends was always the thing he enjoyed the most, and where he felt he belonged. Whether it was playing from afar or cheering up close, there was never anything that gave him joy than making sure that he pushed his friends to the top. The small rodent was lying prone, keeping a grip on that sniper rifle and landing shots exactly as needed. As touted earlier, the cub’s accuracy and knack for making sure that his friends stayed out of any significant trouble was top-notch. He was going for another snipe to take out a flier that was accosting his rabbit friend. Breath steady, one eye closed, breathing slow, aim focused, and from what it seemed, his shot was true. However, a distraction breezed under that pleated skirt. An unfamiliar and uneasy feeling washed over him, just before a sense of sheer dread.
“Heh, not bad at all.” A voice unfamiliar to him, but he was perceptive enough to know what was happening. The muzzle of the coyote’s rifle had slid under and lifted the skirt up to expose his panty-clad rear. “Cute undies, kid. Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that you watch such girly cartoons.” He followed with a mocking cackle.
“Hey, c-cut it out!” A combination of fear and anger began to cause the mouse’s heart to race, before he let go of his gun to quickly rise to his feet, but was quickly stopped before he felt that boot slam upon his spine, flattening him back to the floor. “GAAH!” He squealed out in pain, and even whined louder when the teen began to grind that flat boot against his purple blouse.
“First rule. Victims don’t get to make demands. Second rule. Little prissy girls that don’t even know how to be a man get shot.” He laughed again. “If I can’t take out that little punk, going after the one that shot me first is just as good.” He then pressed the hard light weapon against the little one’s head. “Game over y’little prick.”
He pulled the trigger. A bang. Then...temporary silence. Nothing happened. No defeat sound, no vibrations from the brown mouse’s gear. Just an awkward moment of silence that was quickly punctuated by an enraged feline.
“You know what?! No, I’m done with you. Your team loses. And you’re banned from this game for a month!” The visage of the leader of the kid’s team popped up before the two. His gun vanishes, and the sound of victory blasts through the arena, declaring Terry and his friends the ultimate win.
Terry himself rose back to his feet, dusting himself off and even reaching back to rub his back where he felt that painful boot stomp on him. “Ngh...ow…” He whined. .
“W-wait? What the hell?!” Trevor demanded. “...Why did you-.”
“Assaulting one of your opponents. Sexually harassing another. You’re. Done. Please, take off your gear, and leave. We have your data. You’re not coming back here until you learn to act right.
“Grr...FUCK YOU!” He shouted, balling a fist, before deciding against taking a swing at someone who wasn’t even there. “Your game is total bullshit anyways…” As he complained, the immersive hologram technology faded away, leaving them in a white and blue grid of a room, the different shapes that made up the buildings and cars that were part of this simulation slowly began to lower and fade away back into the nanites that made them up, receding back into the walls and floor. The two teams were now standing in their respective spots before the game ended, all looking rather confused at the outcome.
“Alright, pack it in everybody, the game’s finished. Please return your gear and cash out your points in your respective rooms, please.” Spoke the chameleon over the intercom system. “Congrats Team Kamaitachi for your victory over Team Hebikame. May your win here spur on your next.” His voice was always so annoyingly serious, it felt like it barely rose above a sneer.
The Coyote team only intended to be present for the laser tag game, so they all made their way to the exit, dropping off their gear at the opposite exit before making their departure from the arena, the younger teenage wolf clearly incensed by something the youngest said because there he gave the kid a very clear slug to his arm, followed by an angry yelp from his victim. Shortly after, all 4 disappeared beyond the double-doors leading out to the parking lot.
Once they were in their own command room, the cubs began to remove their gear and let their weapons fade into the ether that was part of the very arena. Maverick slammed his back against the wall afterwards, letting out a truly exasperated sigh, with Terry mirroring him almost exactly. “Hooh, sheesh. I was expecting that to go pretty smooth since it was our first time but that dude...for real!” He crossed his arms and leaned his head back exasperatedly.
“I dunno. I had fun.” Rekka responded, her eyes fixated up on the scoreboard. As Mavy and Terry decompressed from such a high-intensity game, she wanted to know the points. “Unlike you guys, I didn’t have any distractions. Lessee, 8 places and...HA! That idiot ended up in third. Terry and you didn’t do so bad...Woah, wait, SECOND?!” The wolf huffed rather frustratedly. “But then who…” The top score appeared and it was Taku. By a landslide. “...What? What?! How? Wait noooo that doesn’t even make sense. Taku...HOW?!”
The rabbit, who by now was looking at his phone, checking for something, looked up, swiping his bangs out of his eye. “Hm? Oh. Uh...well I played, I took down a lot and I got a lot of points.” He shrugged, somewhat dismissively, somewhat confused at her reaction.
“Mmhmm…” She folded her arms. “Next time bun, your little cotton tail is mine.”
“Alright, kids!” The calico called up as she came from a vent above, giving the kids a show, with a 3-point, heroic landing, and a smooth transition to standing on her feet, giving them all a deeply apologetic look. “I wanted to start by saying that I am so sorry about the conduct of your opponent. His account has been locked and he will not be allowed back for some time. I’ve gone ahead and awarded you all bonus credits on your cards so you’ll be able to get a nicer prize sooner. Outside of this, congrats again on your win. You all fought valiantly and showed off incredible skills. Made for some nice pictures for the album, too. We’ll be sure to get some of those teamwork skills on our social media platforms.” She beamed. “Off the record, you kids were so awesome. It’s always a joy whenever we have you all here. Thanks for coming by.” She gave the kids a cordial nod, before heading into the control room to get everything fixed back up.
As of now the cubs were taking a moment to decompress. Maverick and Terry were chatting up about how awesome that win was against Trevor, and how they both hoped they wouldn’t have to deal with him again. Rekka, by now, was on her phone, talking to someone on the other end. “It was so AWESOME!” She shouted. “We totally kicked their tails! Uh huh! Yep yep! And of course, Taku got the win. I’ll getcha something since you didn’t get to join us, don’t worry, you’ll love it.” The conversation continued on even as the group started to head out. Mav and Terry first, Taku joining in on their conversation afterwards, voicing concerns about if things were to get violent next time. Rekka brought in the rear, still talking to their friend on the phone. As they walked down the hallway to the exit, they marveled at the archived gear and weapons, playfully labeled as ‘weapons of war’s past’. Terry and Rekka laughed at the absurdity of this, Maverick rolled his eyes at the whole thing, before smirking and looking back at the group.
“I mean, since we played the old game. And kinda wrecked the old game..that totally makes us veterans of the ‘laser wars of the past.” He said that last part in his best old man voice he could muster. He knew it was dumb, but the kids ate it up and broke out laughing, even adding their own impersonations and memories of previous games through the lens of old war stories.
The laughter of the kids was ringing up as they emerged from that exit hallway from the laser tag arena. Back pats, head rubs, and other congratulatory words were shared among the quad. In the flash of a moment, though, Taku’s ears perked, and his sharp eyes spotted spiked skee ball quickly speeding toward them, followed by a panicked shout “Shit! No, no, no!” From that not-yet-seen assailant.
"No you don't!" The rabbit, assessing his surroundings, grabbed a light pistol with nearly impossible reflexes, having located a remnant from the previous form of the arena before the renovations. He dove, pulling the trigger and from it came a burst of white light, striking that orb before it could cause any serious harm.
Or so he thought. "Aaah!" A pained cry from the mouse, causing the child to crouch low to clutch his now-injured leg.
Maverick had only just got his bearings, taking in this situation, and in very short order, took notice of what had just transpired. That explosion was the result of Taku, now standing at the ready, the old laser tag pistol aimed at where that spiked ball flew through the air, the boy having destroyed it using the gun. He didn't have much time to question that, as both he and Rekka saw they were interrupting a robbery in progress. There was no time to make any plans, they had to act fast.
Rekka took merely a heartbeat to process what just happened. After hearing that yelp of pain, her eyes looked over toward Terry, noticing him doubled over in pain. Those burning blue eyes then looked back at the offending robber, and with a dark, rage-fueled point, she declared, "...That was your LAST mistake!" She kicked off those red and orange sneakers of hers, standing barefoot, before a burst of flames escaped from the girl's feet, propelling her at the assailant. "You're gonna burn for that! Mavy, go high!" That gray fist rose, the inferno blazing in her spirit translating into a blaze within those feet, doing her best to be careful not to damage the floor beneath her feet, but she lacked the finesse to pull that off, leaving scorches in her wake. Instead, she charged in like the runner she was, and went for a burning low sweep against him. Before he could even take in the low attack to dodge, Maverick was already soaring at him, taking advantage of the high maneuverability that the air allowed him, opening his paw to create a burst of air, giving his body a 720 degree spin, and delivering a powerful fist, propelled forth by the air to aim a devastating hit to his face.
"No no no wait! I didn't mean-" too late. That paw was coming, and he had no time to get out of it, due to having had his legs knocked from under him. That hit to that white mask that kept his face completely shrouded from view forced it hard against his face and caused him to slam his back and the back of his head on the arcade’s rather tough carpet. This disarmed him as well, causing the spiked, metal bat to clank and roll against a nearby arcade cabinet, the spikes retracting into the surface of the blunt weapon. “Gaaah! D-dammit, dammit, dammit! This wasn’t the way things were supposed to be…” Said that distorted voice. Seems that the vocal modulator was a bit damaged from the attack. He growled, trembling paws glowing a bit before they went to the ground. The two rodents, sensing the danger both got into action.
“Rekka, Move backward NOW!” Hearing Terry shout, Rekka didn’t even think about it and used those flames from her feet to propel backward, leaping up onto a nearby arcade cabinet before any harm could come her way, taking a seat on the buttons. Taku sprung into action immediately as well, going low, and springing off his feet at near-lightning speed, tackling Maverick away from their opponent and tumbling against a standalone Vegetable Samurai arcade game.
“Watch yourself, don’t get all proud because you landed a hit, dummy!” Taku scolded Maverick as he got off of him.
In the blink of an eye, just after the kids were moved to safety, the floor shifted around the large creature, and cement spikes jutted up around him, surrounding him on each side, where the two canines could’ve been impaled. “Back away from me!” He scrambled to his feet now, grabbed onto the puck from its slot on the air hockey table the cubs were just recently playing at, causing more rock-hard spikes to jut from every inch of it, before hurling it towards Rekka.
This prompted the bystander owner of this arcade to immediately whine out. “MY CARPET! I just renovated! Goddammit!” That exasperated grumble just caused the man to sit back against his own counter and sigh.
Aware this time, the fox boy raised his hand, manipulating the air to completely throw off the trajectory of his projectile, sending it out of harm's way and causing it to skid along the ground, before planting itself into the skeeball game in the background. "Tch, nice try, but I don’t think so, jerk. Your first mistake was robbing our favorite arcade. Your second one was doin’ it while we’re here.” He spoke, keeping that calmness in his voice that whole time. “You’re done dude, give up so we don't have to actually hurt you.” Air began to form up in his paw, readying up another attack. “Because if you don’t stop, we will make sure you do!.” By now, the air forming around his paw began to become more visible and give off a light blue glow, and voice lowered in a much more calm-yet-threatening tone.
In that short time Maverick was doing his usual crap-talking, Rekka had already hopped off the cabinet, recovered the bat, and was ready to charge at the masked creature. "Hey dickbag, you're toast!" Her arms rose, paws gripping the handle of that weapon, sheer animosity blazing in her eyes, ready to truly incapacitate the male that was backed against the recreational table.
Taku gripped the laser pistol as well, rushing forward, out of the range of the spikes, and pointed the gun directly at the man. “That. Is. Enough!” He grumbled. “Can’t you see you’ve caused enough problems here. Another move and I’ll be forced to take you down!” To prove he wasn’t kidding around, he pulled the trigger on the outdated pistol, and another blast of light fired out, destroying one of the long spikes coming from the ground, before pointing it back at the masked man.
“No, screw it! He’s already caused enough damage. I’m breaking him.” The girl bolted forward, weaving around the spikes without missing a beat and raising the bat now to deliver a finishing blow to him, the bat itself now starting to even light up, absorbing the very heat from the enraged child.
"NO WAIT! STOP!" Once again, Terry's voice pierced that tense situation, and just like that, they were compelled to heed the small mouse. Rekka’s body suddenly stopped in its tracks just before connecting with the weapon, the bat’s glow cooling back down to its metallic color. Her eyes then peered over toward the injured mouse rather quizzically. He rose to his feet, gripping the pained leg of his, before looking down to see the blood from the scrape. It didn’t plant in him, fortunately, it was just a graze. Not like that mattered too much to him, his attention focused solely on the masked man. "Mr. Sellers? Why?" His voice was soft, sad, and more than anything, confused.
"!?" The male froze in stunned silence, as did the rest of the arcade at the time. "...Why, why, why did it have to be you, of all kids, here and now…" Now, completely defeated since his identity was revealed, the mask was removed and the man dejectedly tossed it to the floor. The face was revealed to be a badger's, a man in his 30's, looking rugged and exhausted. Eyes both bloodshot, and visibly tearing up at seeing the destruction around him, then the mouse, and finally his bleeding leg. "....I did that, didn't I?" His voice, empty.
"Why are you here?! Why did you attack this place? I don't understand…" He ignored the question, and instead countered with his own questions, his voice dropped back to its usual shrunken state, but dripping with much more pain in it than before, those violet hues misting up as well as he looked at the man he thought he knew.
"Terry, who is this guy?" The wolf finally spoke, her temper, and temperature both dropping back to normal levels as she finally dropped her offensive stance, bat coming down to rest at her side.
"M-mister Leon Sellers. Even with his changing his voice under that mask...I know how he talks. He's...the dad to one of the girls I help teach at cheerleading on the weekends. That's why this is so weird. He's so nice. He's loving. He's even helped me sometimes when I needed supplies that dad couldn't afford. So… Why? You're not a bad guy!" The pain on Terry’s face was clear. Despite the physical damage on his leg, the pain at seeing a man he thought was so wonderful do something so awful was so much more injuring to this child.
"You know what? I don't really think that matters." Rekka resounded, slamming the head of the bat to the floor, creating that intimidating 'klink' noise that would resonate in the man's ear, and a spark from her own heat transferring through the metal weapon. "He messed up. He tried to rob the place, and a kid got hurt in the process. I say screw it, we should just call the cops." She growled, the bat even beginning to take on a slightly orange-ish color as it began to heat up in her angry grip.
"... Maybe." Mavy weighed in. "I say it depends on what he has to say." His arms folded in annoyance, clearly much less willing to bring any further harm to somebody that was close to a friend, despite the clear adrenaline coursing through his body, trying to display his usual air of calm control, but that silver tail of his was clearly still quite bristled and fluffed up.
"It's not up to us." The blond finally joined the others, looking down at the man, then at the discarded mask, walking over to it and taking hold of it. "Mr. Nic?" He turned his eyes, which had taken on a more multi-colored array of colors, expectantly to the bat. He was looking on at the kids in awe, proud of seeing the children he's known for years to show this level of heroism.
After coming back down from cloud 9, the winged creature sauntered to the would-be robber, placing a hand on his hips, and looking him in the eyes, man-to-man. "... You have been shaking since you came to my desk. This is your first time isn't it? What reason did you pick here? Answer me right, and I might not call the cops in to get you. Now talk." He demanded, stern and firm, yet with that gentleness that always seemed to bathe his words.
"I...I.. My job is gone." He sighed, deciding complete honesty would be his only way out. "... Since I'm raising my baby girl by myself, I need, need, need money. I burned through my savings keeping food on the table for her. I've been trying to get another job but my last place was so fucked up nobody is taking me! I'm desperate!” At this point, the man began gripping his hands along his head, just barely holding back those tears. “I-I didn't think anybody would notice me in a place like this. And the ones that gave me the mask told me this place would have been fine. I-I've lost everything…" He finally broke, sobbing at them. "I don't want Erika to know how she's being fed...I just want her fed… If… If I get taken, if I’m arrested, then maybe she'll get a better, better, better family…Another family can do...much...much better for her..."
"Yeah screw that. I know what you're talking about then, why you lost your job. Even I know about that incident. Sucks being in your position, I really don't envy you." He sighed. "I’m not gonna press charges, I think you've been through enough already…" Nic then smiled, looking over the victorious children before him. "...Not to mention getting your tail kicked off by a bunch of kids could not be good for what little might be left of your pride. I'll get you the numbers of a few places to call up that might help you settle with a small job or two for now. But, I don't ever want to see you near my arcade again. Understood? Or else I will call the police for real next time." He sternly warned. “...Or maybe even call these kids again to put the absolute smackdown on you.” He finished off with a bit of a teasing, sinister snicker. Even Maverick couldn’t help but to crack a chuckle at the latter threat.
Rekka didn’t find that funny in the least. Incredulous, the wolf nearly dropped her new toy at the words of the bat. "What?! But this doesn't make any sense. He broke the law! He… He did an illegal thing. How can he just get away with it?" The wolf was clearly confused and annoyed, stammering from the nonsensical decision that he made.
"Rekka…Please listen to me.” The adult moved over to her, squatting some and placing a brown hand upon her shoulder, to look her in the eyes as equals. “Not every illegal act deserves punishment. Sometimes it's a cry for help. Punishing them would do no good, and honestly if you really want to be a hero, you have to know when to lay down the law, and when to help. I honestly don't think he's going to be doing this again. When you want to be a hero, and do the right thing when dealing with a villain, the goal is to make sure that we stop them from doing the bad thing again. Not always just to punish them." his voice was as gentle as any loving teacher’s would be.
".... I'm keeping this bat. I freaking dare you to say something!" She threatened, jumping at the badger, just to watch him flinch and eke out a little whimper. "S'what I thought." With a triumphant smile, the girl hoisted the bat over her shoulder, then looked over to the owner of their favorite hangout. “Mr. Nic, I’ll talk to daddy later.” He raised an eyebrow at hearing her say that. “He works for a place that helps take care of things like this. He does Super Insurance. So whenever something bad like this happens he can help you out a bit.” Her youth was definitely showing again, simplifying the insurance company down to something as simple as what she called it.
“Oh? He’s a Special Incidents Insurance guy? Well, definitely didn’t expect that one. Thanks, pup. If things work out I may have to reward all of you pretty big!” He beamed. “You kids can stay here until your folks arrive to pick you up, but I think I’ll shut everything down early...we have a bit of a mess to clean up.
The coyote family sat in the car, all of which in quiet contemplation over the events of the day. Derek was doing his fatherly best to keep spirits high, about how fun everything was, and trying not to talk about the problems caused by Trevor. Riko was in the back seat alongside his youngest brother, whom he couldn’t help but crack a smile at, as well as share some pretty funny memes with him on his phone, showing that his mood had indeed elevated. Seems their bonding session worked since Eric and Riko were able to crack smiles at each other instead of sitting in somber silence. Trevor, who saw himself as the big boss of the house, was the one sitting shotgun. He was on his phone as well, just looking at memes that, of course, only he found funny until he received an unexpected text.
“Good job out there, kid. You’re a lot more talented than most others your age. Don’t show this to anybody. But I’d love to talk to you soon. When’s the next time you can come to the arcade? I have a very special offer for you.”
Reading this, he raised an eyebrow, before a grin slid over his face, simply responding to the text. “Glad 2 see someone has sum sense. We can talk tomorrow.”