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Gizmo

Furry Fracas - Ani-Earth's Finest IC

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A sudden wind kicked up in the middle of Liberty Park, followed the crackle of building energies and a blinding, blue-white flash. An oddly anticlimactic *blink* deposited a group of seven figures onto the jogging path, to the surprise of the locals.

A furry creature wearing a long blue coat and a red bandana mask stepped forward to look around, smoothing a pair of long ears around the antlers which protruded from the top of his head as he did so. "An entire world of ladies who've never known the joys of Jackalope of all Blades?" the leporid fellow observed. "That’s positively criminal!".

"You realize they’re not even your species, right?" asked one of his companions, brown and black furred with a canine muzzle and leather jacket.

Jackalope grinned, revealing prominent buckteeth. "Lambkos, m’man, when has that ever stopped me?"

A dainty clearing of the throat drew attention to the toga-clad white cat calmly adjusting her porcelain mask. [divine]"Does everyone have the homing devices Doktor Architeuthis gave us? We should be getting a reading now that we’re here,"[/divine] instructed Feline, examining her immaculate claws.

"Wha-ha-ha! I’m getting a reading, alright!" cried a squirrel in a eye-searingly bright orange and and blue suit, bouncing up and down energetically. "In my pants!". A prominent bulge appeared in the front of his slacks; reaching inside he retrieved a wooden dowsing rod which jerked back and forth, pulling him along with it. "It’s a bigg’un, you betcha!"

"Enough, Jestnut!" a gravely voice insisted. Concealed in the shade of a nearby tree, Avengemouse wrapped his leathery wings around himself and narrowed his eyes. "This world is no place for your foolishness. It’s dark, gritty, realistic." He paused briefly for effect. "My kind of world.".

A loud snort came from the towering, equine figure hovering in the air nearby. "Oh, lighten up, bat boy," admonished Foalcrum, the cape rumour said that she’d inherited from the Centaurian himself flapping behind her.

"It’s just a costume," came the reflexive response, eliciting a chorus of half-hearted placating agreement.

"Regardless, we should get going," Foalcrum continued. "People are starting to stare."

Flying beside her, Calico Angel flapped her broad, feathered wings and stretched in the sunlight, patchwork fur rippling. "Some of us are used to stares, dear," she remarked smugly.

Before the horse-headed heroine could respond, small devices each of them carried began to beep, a round screen indicating direction. "Gotta go go go!" cried Jestnut, bouncing off on a bushy tail which had suddenly acquired spring-like qualities.

"Try to keep him under control," Foalcrum called to Lambkos as she and Avengemouse flew off in the opposite direction.

The wolf gave the departing paragon a doubtful look as he started off after the squirrel. "I’ll do what I can... Although I think a panzer division would have a tough time keeping Jestnut ‘under control’."

Feline slipped in next to him as they continued to walk. [divine]"Don’t worry, honey, controlling men is what I do best,"[/divine] she purred coyly.

"Guess that just leaves you and me, wings!" Jackalope called up to Calico Angel.

The lithe shorthair rolled her eyes as she flapped off. "Being part succubus doesn’t mean I don’t have some standards, antlers-for-brains."

Hopping hurriedly after her, the rabbit spread his arms pleadingly. "Aw, c’mon! You’re breaking my heart, here!" Within moments, the odd group had dispersed, leaving Liberty Park’s local visitors wondering if it was going to be another one of those days in Freedom City.

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Avengemouse scrambled up onto a nearby tree, nimbly hanging upside down as he studied the annoyingly well-lit scenery with beady little eyes. "I am a dark and silent sentinel of justice. A lone guardian of darkness, plunged into the bright light of another world so that we may both be saved from our enemies. My only companion is a young, untried..." He twitched the ears that were actually just a cunningly-disguised cowl, seriously, as he realized Foalcrum was watching him. "horse. You see anything, Foalcrum?"

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Foalcrum chuckled darkly at Avengemouse's 'antics' and gained a little altitude. As she did, she quipped, "Did you come up with that on the fly or have you been practicing?"

The arrow on the little device pointed south, but quickly rotated 90 degrees pointing to the west. Foalcrum snorted and flicked her tail, "Looks like my counterpart is out flying. May be easier to start with you, Avengemouse."

The tracking device shifted directions wildly. "Yeah, lets start with you. I wonder what he calls himself?"

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"Have a lead," said Avengemouse, hefting his sensing unit in one small, delicate hand. "Close. Can smell him." He twitched his nose, having practiced for hours in the mirror to make sure it looked just like a mouse's. "Come, Foalcrum. The day awaits! My costume will let me keep up with you in the air." And with that he flexed his wings and took off, his mighty leather wings just letting him keep pace with Foalcrum in the sky...when she didn't fly fast.

"I had to wonder if my counterpart shared my curse." Avengemouse said aloud as he flew. "Did he too know the unquenchable hunger that drove him to the streets night after night? The overpowering urges that could only be soothed by the destruction of evil and the redemption of his very soul? In the company of my young colleague, I kept my own council."

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Foalcrum didn't take the bait and instead smiled. How she was paired off with Avengemouse was anyone's guess. Still his reputation as an effective hero made up for any lack of tact. Plus he was just so darned cute! Especially when he was all broody!

Keeping those particular thoughts to herself, the equine hero took to the air as well and positioned beside him. He was a quick little guy, but she still felt as if they were standing still compared to her usual speeds. Not that anything was wrong with that. From that speed and vantage, she investigated the disparities and similarities between the two worlds.

"Amazing how similar the city looks! Same street vendors, same cars, everything." Pointing down to a taxi driver, she said excitedly, "That's probably Andre! He is a stripped weasel back home." She waved to the man, who just blinked and waved back slowly.

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Blinking back fatigue, Avengemouse was incredibly grateful when he spotted the man that must be his double, walking along a sidestreet with a briefcase in his hand. Big fella, isn't he? Jack Farbatti was tall for a member of his species, looming over even some dogs. But this guy, this weird pink-skinned shaved ape, was a good foot taller than he was. I thought fast, and turned to my colleague for help. "Foalcrum. Better if you talk to him. Hard to confront your double. Can lead to...misunderstandings." And with that, he dipped down neatly into the darkness of the alley, enjoying the blessed quiet. Maybe just a little nap...

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"Good idea."

Taking a deep breath, Fulcrum made sure the street was clear and landed ten feet in front of Jack. Staying calm and neutral in tone, she began, "Mr. Jack, my name is Foalcrum. We are in need of your help. The Factor Fur, known here as the Factor Four, have crossed inter-dimensional boundaries into your world. We need the assistance of your costumed identity in bringing them to justice. This is a direct request of the Furry League and the people of Ani-Earth. Will you help us please?" Referring to her world as "Ani-Earth" felt strange. After all Earth was Earth as far as she was concerned.

Dropping the right names was important. If what Science Squid said was accurate, most of the major heroes and groups would exist in this world. Hopefully Jack would understand her intent.

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Jack stared at the horrible horse-headed abomination that had landed on the ground before him, his eyes widening as his grip tightened on the briefcase in his hand. Perhaps he'd finally gone mad? Or was this some sort of blood-substitute freakout? Curse Archeville and his fool science anyway! "Hello there," he said, as if speaking to a madman, "it's a pleasure to meet you. You're from another dimension, you say?"

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Foalcrum sighed, rubbed the bridge of her long nose and tapped a hoof. This was not going as expected. Maybe they had the wrong Jack? Well, she was already committed and not about to back off. Not with a nest of furry villains running amok in another dimension.

Nodding her head, she replied slowly, "Yes, you may know my analog. Probably a very tall woman wearing a similar costume. Inherited the cape from a great hero?" She held up Centaurion's cape like she was bull fighting. "Look, you're not hallucinating. If I had to bet money, you're called The Avenger or something. Darkness dwelling, crime-fighting vigilante. The Master of the Night. Am I close?"

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"Yes," said Jack. "But I can't help but think that a hallucination would logically know everything I know, and meet my various expectations perfectly." He thought for a minute, then seemed to come to a decision. "All right. I'll buy your story. I'm familiar with the Factor Four. What do you want from me, exactly?"

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Foalcrum nodded again. Now they were getting somewhere. Looking around for Avengemouse, she replied to the human version, "We need you to suit up and join us in hunting them down. Other heroes, maybe some of your colleagues, are being gathered as well. We have a bad suspicion that the Factor Fur and Four may have teamed up, and we need all the firepower we can get to bring them down."

Not seeing the rodent, Foalcrum whistled, "No time for napping, Avengemouse! Time to meet yourself!" Settling a bemused gaze on Jack, she whispered, "If this is a perfect hallucination, how do you account for your subconscious making your furry counterpart a broody house mouse?"

The horse winked.

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Reluctantly, a drowsy, cranky Avengemouse flew out of hiding to land next to Foalcrum, his leathery wings spread out behind him lik. Crouching low, he glared up at his massive, hideous counterpart, peering at him through near-sighted, night-adapted eyes. "He looked like something out of a bad horror movie. His eyes, his face, bespoke nothing furry. But looking deep inside, at the man within, I recognized the beast in me." He then added, "Hmmph. Shorter than I thought you'd be. Can you do this?"

Avenger stared at the two for a moment before saying simply, "I like the cut of this fellow's jib. I'll be right back." And with that, he disappeared.

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Foalcrum's jaw fell open when Jack disappeared. Honestly him being Avengemouse's analog wasn't a complete certainty with her. That little trick though cleared up any harbored concerns. Turning to her mousy team mate, she crossed her arms and flicked her tail, "Yup, you two are cut from the same cloth."

"I hate thinking that the Factor Fur are out there running amok while we gather allies. They're bad enough in our dimension. You're right. Here things are...different," she finished, looking around the street and alleyway. "Harder. I wonder if that made our analogs tougher too."

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A few second later, a grim-visaged figure stepped from the shadows, wrapped in leather and chains, a costume that was indeed a dark, twisted reflection of Avengemouse's. The two glared at each other for a moment before they seemed to come to a mutual understanding. "He was an odd creature, but I understood him." He turned to Foalcrum. "Lead on."

Avenger eyed his counterpart. "Why do you do that?" As Foalcrum looked for her duplicate by machine, she overheard the two grim figures about external and internal monologues.

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"If you get a straight answer, please tell me," mumbled Foalcrum as she keyed the tracking device.

The needle fluctuated a minute, but then finally steadied somewhere over downtown or Hanover. She couldn't help but give out a little whinny at their good fortune. Turning to the dark heroes, she held up the device, "Steady signal to the northwest! Can you fly, Avenge...what is your costumed name anyway?"

Floating a couple of feet off the ground, the regal horse looked up at the sky, "In any event, I can give you a lift."

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Once the traveling arrangements were made, the trio sped off toward Hanover. The trip was short and uneventful, at least for Foalcrum. As for the Aveng-heroes, well, she tried not to listen to them compare notes. Firstly, she didn't want to pry and secondly, they really did creep her out a little. I mean, what was with the mask? Reminded her of a horror movie.

Those thoughts slipped away as they neared the source. Nothing but hi-tech office buildings glinted in the sunshine, not a blade of grass out of place. Foalcrum was convinced that something horrible was about to happen. Rampaging robots or mutated cat creatures were going to jump out of an alley and attack her human counterpart.

Anti-climatic as it was, the horse hero spotted Fulcrum sitting at a sidewalk cafe. She was chatting with several young people, perhaps students judging from their casual dress. Giving a thumbs up to the other two, she started her descent, "Wish me luck."

Realizing she was best at direct methods, she landed on the sidewalk and walked up to Fulcrum's table. Clearing her throat, and trying not to sound too nervous, she introduced herself, "Hello! My name is Foalcrum, of Ani-Earth..."

The human heroine, somehow, some way, was even taller than Foalcrum. Standing, Foalcrum would only come to Fulcrum's shoulders. If not for focusing on her little speech, Foalcrum would have just stood there gawking. The human, however, took the appearance of a flying, Arabian horse with surprising grace. She stopped in mid sip of her coffee and stared, then looked at the coffee, then back to Foalcrum. A mumbled "This I gotta hear." registered.

"...and we need your help. The Factor Fur, also known as the Factor Four here, has jumped dimensional barriers and may be teaming up." Once that was done, she smiled and looked at the stunned students, "I'm not kidding. Imagine an entire universe populated by anthropomorphic animals instead of humans. Remember, you're the ones that look strange to me." she added jokingly.

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"You married?" Avenger murmured quietly to his counterpart. The question had been nagging at him ever since he'd met his doppleganger; just how parallel were their lives? Was Taylor right about the lack of her on any other world? That got him a suspicious glare from the half-visible creature in the shadows beside him, who murmured back, "No. Never had time for it. With the work, and all."

Avenger eyed his double carefully, and knew that he was lying, but there wasn't time to say much with the recruitment of the last member of their party. Avengemouse had been fooling with the detector, and hissed quietly, "Foalcrum. Here. And not too far away..."

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