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Lone Star

The Rats in the Mall (IC)

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The Mall. Freedom City's very own Millennium Mall, to be exact. It was a Saturday afternoon, and KC was walking about the mall as Blake. Today, his fashion repitoire consisted of skinny jeans (light blue), black Hi-Tops, and a black Rush T-shirt. His black hair was worn over one of his eyes in the typical emo style, but a bright smile was over his face. He always enjoyed his occasional trips to the mall. He was singing a song to himself from a musical he had recently seen.

As he walked past Hot Topic, he took a quick glance inside. There were the usual array of T-shirts displayed on the wall. A pretty cashier was checking a young couple out. KC glanced at the cashier and kept a-walkin'. No, wait. He glanced back. Despite Blake's maturity for his age, he was still a teenage boy. He mustered up his confidence and went inside to the store.

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The clerk smiled at Blake, her eyes very big and smile very wide. "Hello," she said cheerfully, "what can I get for you today?" She was certainly much perkier than any Hot Topic clerk Blake had ever met! Outside of the young couple he'd noticed, two women in their twenties standing at the edge of the store looking over the T-shirts for a local Goth band, Blake was entirely alone in the place but for the clerk.

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Blake began to lose his nerve. "Umm, yeah, I'm looking for the new CD of..." Blake had a quick glance at the T-shirts on the wall. "Forever the Sickest Kids?" In all honesty, Blake had never heard of half of the groups on the wall. He smiled at her, in a way he sincerely hoped was charming.

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"I know just the place," she said carefully, shooting a glance at the couple as they moved down the aisle away from them. "You need to go to the store on the upper level of the mall, the one right next to the Champions franchise and above the Gamestop. You know the one I mean? That'll have exactly what you need."

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"Oh, are those buttons! I love buttons!" As much as he kind of wanted to check out the store she told him about, he really didn't want to ditch this pretty cashier. "How long have you been working here?"

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"I've been working here three years," she said brightly. "But I really don't think we have what you need here yet. Maybe if you go to that other store I told you about, which sells the gold buttons, they'll be able to help you out? You can always bring them back here."

From over on the other side of the room, one of the two women looked their way. "This kid isn't bothering you, is he?" she asked. The smile on the petite blonde's face wasn't friendly, either for Blake or for the young clerk.

"No, no, I think he was just leaving," said the young lady behind the counter, giving Blake a wide, frightened smile.

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Blake looks at the cashier. He sensed something was being broadcasted to him. He took a slip of paper from a stack. "Oh, didn't know you guys gave out coupons through email? Here, lemme sign up real quick." Blake wrote in the margin "I'll get help asap" in addition to scrawling nothing important on the other lines.

He waved to the workers, and pulled out his phone. He began to walk, calmly, up to the police station. His heart began to race. What was happening here?

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At the police station, a middle-aged mall cop was sitting behind the front desk reading a magazine. With his mustache and stocky build, he looked a lot like your average mall cop, if in a bit better shape than the average stereotype. "Can I help you?" he asked, looking up and giving Blake a curious, if somewhat jaded look.

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"Umm, yes. I believe there may be a criminal in the store. I'm not sure where, exactly, but they could be watching us. The cashier and workers at Hot Topic hinted that they're being watched by a criminal, and they are unable to say it aloud."

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The mall cop gave Blake the hairy eyeball, and looked like he was about to send the teen on his way when a red light began flashing on the wall behind him. Glancing around quickly, he said, "That's the security alarm. I'll call this in to the station. Good work, kid," he said, rising to his feet and reaching for his belt. A few moments later, there came a terrible sound of shattering glass from the mall outside! Running out, Blake could see that the two hoodlums inside Hot Topic hadn't bothered with the door; they'd simply punched their way out and were leisurely strolling towards the mall's exit.

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Show time.

"CTHULHU FHTAGN!

And once again, in the place of the rather meek looking Blake Salazar stood Kid Cthulhu, a squiddly serious look on his face. He stretched his back, and extended his scaly wings, which extended out. He flapped them, and their velocity blew a stack of fliers around him in a whirl. He took off, and landed in front of the exit.

KC stood in what he hoped was a defiant stance. "Going somewhere, miscreants?"

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The women frowned, anger and disgust at interruptions in general and at Kid Cthulu's rugose appearance in particular written large on their lovely faces. Of course, they might have been lovelier yet if they hadn't turned to crime. "What are you supposed to be?" the taller of the two spat, her honeyed skin beginning to shimmer ever so slightly.

"He's one of their supers!" the shorter one whispered, taking a step in front of her friend to say, "It's okay, sir, we're just a little lost," she said ingratiatingly, waving around her bangle-covered fingers. "I'm sorry about the store, we got confused. If you can just tell us where the nearest time machine is, we'll be on our way."

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"Time machine? What are you talking about?" KC said, his face tentacles squiddling about in confusion. "And yes, I am a superhero, ladies. Kid Cthulhu."

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"You see," said the one in the foreground, "Mr. Cthulu, we are just time travelers from your own future, tourists visiting the modern era of excitement and wonder." She coughed. "But we got separated from our group. So if you could just show me where the nearest time machine is, we'd be happy to be on our way." A crowd was beginning to gather in the mall, drawn by all the excitement and the strange look.

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"Yeeeeeeah, I'm gonna be honest here, that's about the worst lie I've ever heard."

KC extended his wings to either side of him. "Now, can we have a nice little talk with the police, or are you two going to make things difficult for me?"

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KC stared at the liar, his eyes glowing with a mystic green. A voice that was not his own emanated from KC's throat."Surrender, or be destroyed by the Unspeakable One."

KC blinked once, and his eyes returned to normal. "What was that?"

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The shorter one screamed in horror. "Aaiee! He's some kind of monster! This is a terrible planet! Kara, you have the worst ideas ever!" For her part, Kara didn't seem as put-off by the scary display as her friend.

"Pfft. Like I haven't seen a Bactrian before, honey." And with that, she pulled back her glowing fist and punched Kid Cthulu right in the green and scaly snoot.

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KC readied a blast of mystic fire. "As much as it pains me to fire upon you pretty ladies...well, you guys are criminals, so that makes it okay." KC said as he rather begrudgingly let loose a burst of green fire.

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Despite Kara's bold words, Kid Cthulu's blast caught her off-guard, sending her hurling to the floor and away as the blast of mystic heat bowled her over like a squamous firehose. At the sight of her friend's defeat, Lara's resolve stiffened, though, and the loss of one opponent meant another rose to take her place. "I'm not going back on restriction!" she exclaimed. "Not even if a monster says I should." She took off into the air, hovering several feet above the ground, and bent down to scoop up her fallen friend.

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KC extended his wings. "Listen, I don't want to hurt you two, why don't you just surrender to the police?"

He felt kind of bad, and he would feel even worse if he just shot them out of the sky. "Although if you keep flying, I'm totally gonna shoot you down."

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"Screw you, space fascist!" Lara called, waving her fist defiantly. "You can warn me all you want, but I'll never surrender!" And with that she took off, going very fast, and heading into the bright blue sky overhead. Whatever was wrong with her, there was nothing wrong with her ability to fly, her unconscious friend thrown over her shoulders like the proverbial Continental soldier, skirt flapping defiantly in the breeze behind her.

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KC sighed. Toasting time. "I warned you, space hippy!" KC said as a stream of mystic fire hurled from his palms.

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Kid Cthulu's blast struck true, scorching a line of fire along the fleeing super-criminal's side. But she stayed in the air and kept a grip on her friend, dipping low across the city skyline as she headed towards the state forest north of the city. The mall was clear, but the bad guys were getting away!

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KC held his palm to the side of his head, readying a blast of pure mental force at the criminals. He couldn't let them escape, despite his quasi-chivalrous nature. Despite this, it was very difficult to keep up with the two, and KC began to pant with the exertion. He released the bolt of mental force, and an invisible wave of mental energy raced towards the flier.

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The two women dropped out of sight over the forest, but they were still too far away for Kid Cthulu to reach immediately. When he did get there, he found them fallen in the soft grass of a large clearing, looking battered from the fall but otherwise all right. Nearby was a silver craft about the size of a minivan, but spread flat like a giant saucer, windows visible at the front and back. No Earthly science had ever crafted that! A few moments later, in a ripple of light above him, a much larger craft came into view: this one glowing with red and white lights along either side, and blaring a loud, dissonant note of sound!

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