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Chimply Awful (IC)


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Midtown Freedom City, 4:57 PM

November 4th, 2012


It's been a chilly autumn day for the residents of Freedom City. The leaves of the trees dotting across the North End had changed from their warm and gentle green selves to a more woeful, yet tragically beautiful shade of rustic brown and vivid orange alike, dancing across the slight breeze every now and then as they make their way through the crowded urban streets with little more than a slight crunch or rustle. Indeed, things have been pleasant lately as the seasons shifted, and despite the unending urgency of many of the fine city's on-the-go locals, little had occurred to disrupt their delicate schedules.

Had, of course, was the operative word. No matter the radio or television station, it was all the same no matter where one flipped: trouble was afoot, and not even Freedom City's Finest could stop the terror besieging its denizens. While the reports were sketchy at best, each instance had one peculiar thing in common: people crying out that alien monkeys were attacking Midtown! With video evidence, it was hard to refute the fact that five supposedly well-dressed simians were wreaking havoc upon the streets of Freedom City, as unbelievable as it might have seemed.

Midtown was in upheaval thanks to all this monkey business! Throughout the shop-littered streets, the once fine citizens of Freedom City were stricken with turmoil; panic running amok through the traffic-jammed boulevards as vehicles - both civilian and law enforcement - sat astride one another motionlessly on the asphalt, complete with broken glass from ransacked businesses and fallen lamp posts scattered across the pavement. The reason for all the commotion was painfully obvious to any observer: where once men and women strode through the cool afternoon streets, they had been transformed into something else - creatures of a hairier variety, many of which now sported prehensile tails and clothes too big or too small for their own bodies. These were no longer humans - these were monkeys! And apes. And chimps. Perhaps a baboon here or there, but the outcome was much the same, with the people screaming in terror and disbelief at their newly transmogrified state, equal parts enraged, afraid, and belligerent, looking not unlike the suspiciously missing (but much more dapper, if the reports were to be believed) miscreants responsible for all this destruction of property and monkification hullabaloo.

With the police reduced to little more than ineffective marmosets wearing oversized uniforms in their efforts to contain this bizarre happenstance and Midtown gripped in chaos, it was time to send in the big guns. This was no task for the boys in blue; no, it was time for some heroes to step up to the plate and put an end to this primate problem before it got any more out of hand.

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"" muttered an appalled Comrade Frost from a nearby rooftop, his blue-parkaed form the last thing on anyone's mind as they fled the ape apocalypse before them. "" The veteran hero had seen his share of pacification missions before, but one thing he knew all too intimately was that his powers were rarely suitable for combat against altered civilians. or rather, all too suitable. He jumped from the roof and vanished, transforming himself into a freezing cloud of blue-white mist that roiled down to street level and began wheeling about among the civilians as it searched for the source of the ape infection. As it went, the cloud left behind a trail of ice and slick surfaces, not enough to actually trip anyone but enough to leave several of the newly-primated people (wait, weren't people already primates? It had been so long since his science classes...) shivering in their fur. "" he called out loud in Russian, ""

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Jay Xavier was faced with a vitally important decision: Pastrami, garlic-infused venison, or corn-fed beef? He being an obligate carnivore, a depressingly large fraction of human cuisine was off-limits to him, practically speaking, so he went out of his way to retain suitable variety in his diet…

Rraaaaaaakh! Rraaaaaaakh! Rraaaaaaakh! Rraaaaaaakh!

It was the Star Trek 'red alert' sound—which meant that Jeeves, a news-watching software entity written by Xavier, thought there might be Grue activity in the area.

Xavier flipped a 3-sided coin in his head—Corn-fed beef. Yum!—and as he cut himself a hefty chunk of the meat, said, "Jeeves: What's up?"

"Analysis of latest quarter-hour's Twitter posts indicates that a large number of Midtown-area humans have just been transformed into non-human primates by means as yet unclear."

Xavier frowned and cut the beef into tiny bits. Again with the involuntary mass species transplants? It's not even a calendar month since that Transmogrifier bozo zapped a bunch of Midtowners into animals! "Jeeves: Best guess on perp's ID?"

"Non-trivial probability that the perp is, themselves, a non-human primate or small group thereof. No further data."

The feline's frown became a grimace. Wonderful. Just [bg=black]xxxx[/bg]ing wonderful. Zeus, I hope they're not buddy-buddy with T-mog… After inhaling the protein, he said, "Jeeves: Get some rest."

People changed into apes… if my personal experience (and that of last month's T-mog victims) applies here, the poor bastards will be freaking out. Maybe the present bunch'll be less freaked out because of greater similarly to human corpus, maybe not… they still have hands, that's good, but they can't talk… Betcha they can still write! That suggested an obvious response to the situation; Xavier didn't have the necessary items on hand, but they were trivially available, so his American Express Impervium card was… ridiculous overkill for this purpose, actually. Whatever; it would do the job, and then some.

And after completing his pre-hero checklist, Jubatus blurred down the streets of Freedom City!

Apes. Monkeys. And plenty of them, each one caught in the middle of their particular action, all frozen to stillness in the depths of slowtime. That was the first thing that caught the cheetah's eye. The second thing was a man in white, who seemed to be accompanied by ice and snow. Oh, great. Jeeves didn't say a cryo was involved—of course, given that Jeeves is necessarily working off of second-hand data, overlooked details aren't exactly a surprise. So who is this guy? A few accelerated seconds of thought later, Jubatus had his (provisional, tentative) answer: Comrade Frost, a Russian superhero who was currently liaison between the People's Heroes and the Freedom League; Frost had been active since World War II, with very few breaks in his nigh-continuous record of service. Never been sure if this guy's been one man all along, or it's a 'Dread Pirate Roberts'-type deal, or what. Like it matters: Whoever's wearing the mask, Comrade Frost is Comrade Frost. Probably ought to introduce myself—things'll go smoother if we're not working at cross-purposes to one another.

Jubatus moved to 50 feet in front of Comrade Frost, then downshifted to match Frost's tempo of 1. "Hello, Comrade Frost! I'm Jubatus, and I'm thinking it's a damn good bet that we're both here for the same reason."

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As Comrade Frost's clarion call in his native tongue was bellowed forth between the shrieks and panicked cries of horrified citizens, the yellowish blur that was Jubatus came to a halt in front of the wintry hero. Freedom City always was a peculiar place, and now with a large gaggle of Freedonians transformed into sentient apes, orangutans, and other such primates, it was only getting more and more peculiar. Regardless, with the duo now on the scene, many of the monkified onlookers quickly found themselves shuffling from bouts of horror to elated relief. Yet, aside from the obvious relaxation of the citizens, no one seemed to respond to the master of the ice and snow's demand for satisfaction.

"Heroes! Thank goodness you're here! You've got to help us!!" one of the transformed patrons yelled as a backpack and what remained of an oversized casual wear outfit trailed behind her, eluding to what might have once been an aspiring scholar; now little more than a young woman turned into a lithe but awfully tiny chimpanzee. "They came out of nowhere! We didn't even know what was going on until they zapped us with that funny-looking gun, and now... now..." the hairy little lady explained, tears welling up as she tried to remain brave in the face of all that had happened. "Now we look like this!"

Just as the chimp finished rattling off her exposition on the situation, another creature - this one even tinier, and barely managing to clumsily drag along a dark blue shirt with a large golden badge on the breast - meandered his way over. It was almost comical how serious the creature seemed, despite its sudden drop in height and shift in appearance.

"You just missed em'. I'd never seen anything like it; just one smash and grab after another, shooting anyone with that goofy raygun of theirs who got in their way," the marmoset policeman said as he took up a position beside the beleaguered chimpanzee woman, his voice as hurried as he was distraught. "There were five of em' - all of em' monkeys in monkey suits, if you can believe that. They said somethin' about grabbing some rocks, and started down Westbrook Street - probably goin' for that hoity-toity jewelry shop, Pizazz. If you hurry, maybe you guys can still catch em' and get us back to normal."

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Frost swirled back into his natural shape with a nod to the feline speedster, knowing from experience it was easier to do such things in a human shape. An unkind thought around such as this fellow, I suppose, but such is life. Perhaps there was some battle at the zoo."I am in city as liason to Freedom League. They are currently occupied. I have dealt with simian transformer before. But Ivanov uses drugs and chemicals, not transforming rays. Sounds more like incursion from parallel dimension, perhaps обезьяна or Simian gangsters. Can you scout area?" he asked Jubatus. "Speed makes reconnaissance easier. Will follow by air." Transforming back into his body of ice and fog, only two glowing red eyes were visible amid the miniature cloud back that drifted up into the air and over the buildings in direction of the attacking simians.

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While Alicia did enjoy the warmer climes of the world, there was no place like home. Freedom City's cold weather greeted her when she got off the plane and followed her home. Luckily she had some tailor made clothes for this, but the restrictiveness of it was quite annoying. Still she was glad to be home. Freedom City's wonderment would always amaze her. After a hot shower and getting dressed in her cold weather attire (a red sweater dress and black leggings), she was on her way out the door. Checking the news on her tablet, she saw that there was random events happening in Freedom, but one caught her eye. "Monkeys," she questioned aloud. This was something she would have to see for her self. She took to the air and a few minutes later she was at the scene.

When she got there the sea of monkey people was alarming. Though there was at least two non-monkeys. One Aryan looking fellow and... Jubatus. Oi, this was going to be awkward. 'How were things since you were mauled, Butterfly?' Alicia thought in Jubatus's voice. She landed next to Jubatus. "Hello," she said, "Anything I can do to help?"

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Jubatus' reflexive reaction, when he heard the ex-humans, was perhaps selfish—They can talk!? Lucky bastards.—but recognizing it as a purely personal response, he stifled it nigh-instantaneously. "Okay—Westbrook. Got it." It's as good an initial lead as any, but I'll have to be careful in case one of the perps is hiding in this crowd.

Can you scout area?" he asked Jubatus. "Speed makes reconnaissance easier. Will follow by air."

"Can do," the cheetah replied. He wanted to say more, but Comrade Frost had already dissipated into his alternate form as a pocket blizzard. Oh, joy. He's already gone. Well, hopefully there'll be a fresh opportunity to offer Frost a commlink before we meet the enemy. Then again, would my gadgets survive his cute little transform-to-snow trick? Well, it won't hurt to make the offer, anyway.

The feline upshifted… but did not begin his reconnaissance, as his nose had detected a half-familiar scent. Okay, who's dropping in? he thought as he scanned the area; and sure enough, there was a flier touching down. A flier Jubatus recognized as a novice heroine called Butterfly, whose back bore a human-sized version of her namesake's wings.

Scent and sight, together, triggered a minor flashback: In the theatre of the feline's mind, he saw Butterfly lying on the ground, unconscious, and bleeding from a nasty gut wound…

Get a grip, Jube. She obviously got better. But the emotional response remained. The first and last time the cheetah had interacted with Butterfly, the situation du jour had involved a pack of weird mutant cat-things that had, among other things, ripped hell out of the heroine with little (if any) evident difficulty. So damn young, the sexagenarian Jubatus thought…

Wait, her mouth's opening. She must be starting to talk. He downshifted, the better to hear and understand what Butterfly might have to say:

"Hello," she said, "Anything I can do to help?"

Jubatus wasn't at all sure what to say in return. He upshifted, giving himself time to think things over… "Hi, Butterfly! How's the sucking chest wound?" is not appropriate. "Get the hell outta here before you kill yourself"? Yeah, right. If the head wound and near-disembowelment didn't change her mind about heroing, no mere words are gonna do the trick. And with the damn monkey-zappers, can't spare the time to browbeat sense into her skull. A couple of discarded alternatives later, he downshifted to say, "Hello, Butterfly. I think you're making a mistake, and you know why it's a mistake. But it's your life, so if you're going to insist on throwing it away…" Jube executed his unique version of a shrug, then pulled a small gadget from one of the pockets in his Vest of Many Things. "Put this thing on—it's a commlink. I want you to do aerial reconnaissance; from up there, you'll be able to see things I'll miss on the ground, and the commlink will let us stay in touch at all times. I'd have given it to Comrade Frost, but he left before I had a chance to mention it to him."

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With a shiny new communicator in-hand for Butterfly, the duo took off in their pursuit of their chilly brother-in-arms and the ne'er-do-wells responsible for all this terrible, terrible monkey business. With Comrade Frost and the newly joined young lady scouring their way across Westbrook Street from the air, the speedy cheetah that was Jubatus zoomed his way along the asphalt, both he and Butterfly quickly rejoining the Russian emissary mistily floating through the cool afternoon air.

The scene isn't much better away from the cluster of monkeyfied citizens they'd just left. Once again, a gaggle of humans stand in a panic, screeching and wailing like children amidst crashed cars and dropped groceries. What makes this particular sight more worrisome, however, is the half dozen sickly looking transmogrified apes. While many of the transformed patrons seem perfectly fine, a few of the number present seem positively green in the gills, so to speak; hunched over or curled into the fetal position as the groan and moan in obvious agony. This wasn't just a simple shifting of molecular structure for some of these folks - it was an exercise in enduring pain. As they whimper in their inflicted state, it's plain as day that whatever the problem, it isn't getting any better.

Meanwhile, the familiar sounds of trouble rings out from the confines of an upscale-looking jewelry store a mere fifty feet from our intrepid heroes as raised voices breech the bemoaning streets of Midtown. This had to be Pizazz - the heroes had caught whomever was inside red handed! Those so inclined to investigate the innards of the danger-ridden ice shop were soon met with the truth the officer had given to them: five well-dressed primates were holding a young woman hostage!

"Give us the key to the safe, you hairless mook!" came the cry of a zoot suit clad chimpanzee holding the only visible employee at gunpoint with what looked like an odd and out of place raygun that belonged more appropriately within the confines of a science fiction B-Movie, his voice as sharp and shrill as it was demanding and impatient. He seemed quite cross - downright agitated, even, yet still in control.

His colleagues were much the same in their style of dress, as if some spirit of the Roaring Twenties had forcibly possessed their very natures. Amongst them stood two gorillas - large even by typical gorilla standards - and dressed in matching tieless purple suits, their hats tipped back ever so slightly as to add an air of danger to their already intimidating frames. By contrast, there stood another primate, this one coiffed with black fur and wearing a slinky dress that might have worked in proper monkey society, but within the Land of the Hairless Apes simply came off as démodé - though one might be loathe to point it out, given the creature brandished what looked like a high-tech laser pistol. Last, but certainly not least, stood a character so boldly distinguishable it was hard to believe; standing at almost the same height as the chimpanzee in the zoot suit, this Proboscis monkey sported a massive nose and spectacles, favoring his attire without the overly burdensome blazer for a simple suspender-lifted set of slacks, nice shoes, and a white dress shirt rolled up to the sleeves; a small PDA dangling around his neck by a harness as he cradled what looked like a highly sophisticated fowling piece!

"Please! I told you I don't have it; I'm just the night clerk! Let me go, I'm begging you!"

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Reasoning that his arrival could only distract the criminals before they injured their captive further, and that he was made of sterner stuff even than most superheroes, Comrade Frost went into action without hesitation. Swooping down from the sky, he made his way directly for the sciency-looking monkey with the ray gun: in his experience the weak-looking fellows with the large weapons were the most dangerous in a fight. "Forgive me, comrade, but you are new to Freedom City, yes?" he hissed as he roiled out of the sky, a cloud of freezing fog and chilling mist that rolled over and enveloped the monkey so that only his outline could be seen by those outside. "If you had come as a friend, I would have welcomed you as a man and a brother, but now?" At his words, icy cold seeped into the simian, soaking through his fur and into his muscles. "I am afraid you will find my reception far more chilly."

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As Jubatus sped down the streets of Freedom City, he dispassionately noted the presence of other recently-transformed people. Evidence that the perps were here, good. He also noted the few who were obviously suffering, but those, he was not at all dispassionate towards. Ever since the time he'd been completely unable to stop two innocent people from bleeding out, the feline had been that much more careful about life-threatening situations…

Unfortunately, whatever was wrong with the poor bastards, it was something Jubatus couldn't—didn't have the training or knowledge to—do anything about. Thank Asclepius for 911… The feline called in the bizarre situation to Emergency Services: "—corner of Westbrook and, hrrm, 38th. Victim was transformed into a gorilla sometime within the last minute or so… Some sort of 'ray gun'… Victim is curled up and moaning in agony. No externally-evident injuries, possibility of internal injuries… Doubtful; there's a number of other recent ape-transforms who aren't hurting. If I had to guess, I'd say this guy has an inorganic implant, a pacemaker or metal hip replacement or something… Right… Don't know, but it wouldn't hurt to have more ambulances on call, just in case… Yes, I'll keep an eye on him… You're welcome." After hanging up, Jubatus spoke to the writhing gorilla: "I wish I could stop your pain, but I can't. I just called for an ambulance, so hang on for a little while longer, because real help is on the way. In the meantime, I'm going to see what I can do about the jerkwads who did this to you—and I'll also come back here once every few seconds, so you don't need to worry about anyone messing with you while you're helpless." Had the gorilla heard and understood his words? Jubatus didn't know, but as with many other things, he figured it couldn't hurt. And then he upshifted and was off again…

There were other ex-humans in obvious pain; each time he found one, Jubatus dialed 9-1-1 to summon an ambulance, and each time, he promised the victim he'd keep intermittent watch on them. All of this slowed down the cheetah's search for the transformation-inducing perps, of course; but as far as he was concerned, that was an acceptable cost.

So it was that by the time the feline caught up to the perps at Pizzazz, Comrade Frost had already engaged the enemy in combat—at least, that's what Jube assumed the highly-localized fog around one of them meant. Unless one of these apes is a cryo themself… no, that silhouette's more consistent with someone who doesn't like being muy frío. So okay, Frost has that one covered. Don't like the looks of their weaponry; let's see how many zapguns I can wreck before they zap any more victims. Starting with Zoot-Suit Boy's. And Jubatus blurred in to shred the sci-fi-looking sidearm with his claws…

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Seizing the opportunity to get the literal drop on the hairy criminals' supposed scientific smartypants, Comrade Frost wasted no time in sending a chill down the mammal's well-dressed spine. Eliciting both a look of horror and a sudden rattling of teeth, the hard-eyed, big-nosed goon whirled about in the unnaturally frigid fog. He tried to speak even as his dapper colleagues turned to face the outburst of icy air, equally shocked by the vague and terrifying form silhouetted against the foreboding mist.

"C-c-c-cape!" shivered the Proboscis scientist, sniffling his big nose as he tried to recompose his hard boiled demeanor in the face of his awe-inspiring parka-wearing Russian adversary.

Like clockwork, Jubatus was all over getting the aching apes their medical dues through a quick call for professional assistance. They looked truly agonized; like someone was just punching their spleen from the inside vigorously, with neither intent to stop nor a want to do so. But the truth was obvious: there was nothing the man-cat could do for them, save wait for the arrival of the ambulances and hope for the best. And so, shifting gears, it wasn't long before Jubatus found Comrade Frost mid-brawl with the gaggle of petulant primates, whose supposed leader was in the middle of strong-arming some nice young lady! Without a moment to spare, the agile feline zoomed into the bedazzling gem-filled building, a blur amidst a foggy backdrop as he rushed towards the chimpanzee in the zoot-suit, claws brandished! Unfortunately, all the speedster managed to do was scratch a hefty streak across the surface of the barrel, causing the already jostled crook to fire wildly into the air as he let go of his jewelry store hostage.

"Two of em'!" cried the well-dressed chimp, tipping his striped and feathered hat back as he steadied the aim of his newfangled weaponry. "Monkey Bunch! Razz these do-gooders and let's get outta here!"

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Jubatus' claws made contact with the zapgun, alright. They just didn't do any real damage—all he did was scratch the damn thing. Wonderful. Too bad chimps are so damn strong, or I'd duct-tape the sucker… wait a second… can I wrap up this ape in such a way that he's got no leverage to exert his strength? Let's find out.

Applying basic principles of mechanical advantage, Jubatus manhandled the chimp's limbs into an arrangement that afforded him no opportunity to break his bonds—or at least, the cheetah sure hoped so—and strategically looped several thicknesses of tape around carefully-selected spots on the chimp's body. With any luck, the fact that it's sticking to his fur will help; tearing mass quantities of hair out by the roots has got to hurt, bigtime. And then Jube downshifted, the better to observe the effects of his handiwork…

…success! The chimp was thrashing around, but Jube's duct-tape held—the ape was thoroughly bound!

One down, three to go, Jubatus thought to himself. Upshift…

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As adequately as he could manage, Jubatus somehow finagled his way through entangling the dastardly (stylish) chimp brandishing the bizarre firearm. No doubt its removal would be uncomfortable with all that hair, to say the least, but the deed was done and the zoot-suit sporting criminal mastermind was soundly wrapped up for the time being. The heroes and remainder of the Monkey Bunch weren't the only ones to notice as Slick Sammy's captive saw this opportunity and aptly seized it, bolting away from her fuzzy captor with a screech of shock as she ran into the back office and out the door, tripping the emergency exit alarm as she went!

Equally as surprised, the well-dressed agent of chaos looked on, a bug-eyed expression etched across his face as he tried to struggle free to no avail.

"Don't just stand there, you nimrods! Do something!" Sammy shouted as he wriggled and writhed against the sticky bonds holding him in-place.

Seeing his boss all tied up and having lost possession of their lone hostage, one of the large gorillas - this one sporting a particularly disfigured nose - did as he was bade, taking hold of the clingy bindings and giving them a firm tug. With a decidedly wince-worthy sound of hair being forcibly and painfully removed, the gorilla gangster seems to turn his head away at the last second; as if expecting some sort of retaliatory blow.

"YEEOUCH!" cried Sammy, tears welling up in his eyes. "Binti! You big palooka!"

"Sorry, boss! But you said--"

"I know what I said! Just get them!"

With her man free and now sporting a few bald spots, the moll that was Miss Mitzi spun around on her heels away from the chilly fog she'd watched her compatriot become engulfed in. Forced to choose between helping her scientific colleague and her erstwhile leader, the monkey in the slinky dress knew who to pick. The cat was to blame, of course, and with things having taken a turn for the worst, put a bead on the spotted adversary whom had caused all the commotion.

"Mangez l'avance, you uncouth swine," decried the femme fatale as she unloaded on the speedster with her hold out pistol, the red beam of energy nearly singing the fur off of her target as it narrowly whizzed past him.

Doctor Chimpsky was in a much worse position. Encapsulated in a bitter cold he couldn't quite shake, he could feel his body seizing up; stiff, unresponsive, and painfully chilled. This supernatural force of cryonic pain was all around him, making escape a lackluster idea. There was only one choice left...

The Proboscis with the PDA leveled his scattergun squarely on the malign fog taking its toll against him, gripping the weapon with both hands in hopes to steady his shivering aim. Hitting the silhouette was his only hope it seemed, and even as he tried to quip out a classy one-liner, all the poor monkey could do was chatter his teeth. With a resounding thump, bolts of crimson energy arced through the air towards Comrade Frost. Miraculously, the shots go wide, with each and every particle of energy avoiding his only vaguely perceivable form!

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The cloud of frost chilling Dr. Chimpsky solidified into the shape of a man, the parka-clad, red-eyed form of Comrade Frost himself. Frost couldn't let stray shots from that gun go wild in this building, not when there were people around who might be hit, particularly if it did have the effects he thought it had. Give the superweapon to the superscientist was a pretty common practice. As icy armor slid over his body as the air itself froze around him, the now-ice clad cold controller reached out for the simian scientist with a sinister expression. "Such fear on your face," he taunted. "Why don't you...chill!" He reached out and laid an icy hand on the scientist's cheek, his touch draining the very warmth from the scientist's bones.

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Growing startlingly pale - at least as far as Proboscis Monkey's are concerned! - the hairy little man with the glasses and rolled-up dress shirt collapsed to the ground in a thud, his form stiff and frigid. From his prone position, it was keenly obvious he was still sound as small puffs of foggy air roiled out from the primate's nostrils, the spectacles lining his face fogged up and the futuristic fowling piece clattering to the floor a few feet away. From the good Comrade's point of view, it was unlikely the monkey would be getting up any time soon!

But Big Coco was not happy about this. Not happy at all. The brutish gorilla in the pinstripe suit grit his stained teeth towards the parka-adorned vampire, meaty hands forming large fists the size of the cryonic commander's head. He was built like a baby grand; and likely just as heavy! Behind the fur and well-tailored glad-rags was the physique of an ape who could certainly crush a lesser man single-handedly - and unfortunately for Frost, Big Coco had two!

"You no-good crasher! No one lays a hand on my pal!" shouted the enraged man-animal before beating his chest furiously. Charging down on all fours across the nicely tiled floor, the gargantuan ape rushed the chilly ne'er-do-well attempting to thwart the Monkey Bunch's little soiree. With one hefty hamfist held back, the purple-suit wearing gorilla let fly his fist right towards the Russian liaison's chin in a sweeping uppercut that would have given a boxer a run for his money! With a tumultuous crash, the appalling ape's fist came crashing into Comrade Frost's conjured armor, and a wince of pain erupted across his creased face. It was like punching a cement block!

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Thanks to his accelerated perceptions, Jubatus recognized the gorilla's incipient attack on Comrade Frost before it happened. The question was, what could he do about it? Claws… aren't my first choice, as living flesh is a lot more vulnerable than whatever that zapgun's shell is made from. Slam the big ape's head into the ground? Maybe; sucker's gotta be 400 pounds, if not more so, but my Timeshift is literally a force-multiplier… What the hell, the gorilla's skull has to be thick enough to take some punishment.

Thus resolved, the cheetah zipped in behind Big Coco… grabbed the back of the ape's shirt-collar in his right forepaw, and pressed his left forepaw into the ape's belt… and forced the ape's top half down towards the ground while shoving his bottom half upward. From Jube's perspective, the gorilla's head accelerated downward at a deliberate, stately pace—and then Jube's left forepaw lost contact with the ape!

The primate's reflexes were very quick indeed; from what Jubatus could tell, he'd thrown his legs up and back, and used that momentum to send himself backspinning even faster than the feline's maneuver. Oh, great. If it's a contest of muscle, I lose, end of discussion. And this was supposed to be one quick move and done; can't afford to let that other one get a bead on me with their energy pistol. Jube's indecision occupied less than a second of clock-time… but that was long enough for the gorilla to make contact with the ground and send himself springing straight to Comrade Frost!

Oh, [bg=black]xxix[/bg]—another failure, the cheetah berated himself. Well, what's done is done, so get the hell over it and seize the next chance to not-screw-up. The monkey with the energy pistol looked like a suitable target for Jube's attention…

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With all the activity focused away from him, Sammy had a moment to amend himself, suffering only a moment to rub the tender bald spot where once fur had been along his arms. He was mad - to say the least! - at the turn of events that had unfolded. Chimpsky was huddled over from the cold, Big Coco couldn't crack the icy armor of this foreign assailant, and no one seemed to be able to get a shot off on that yellow cat-thing! These guys were making a mockery of everything his crew could muster! It was time for a change of plans...

"Hold em' down!" demanded Slick Sammy, pointing towards the pair of heroes embroiled with the remnants of the Monkey Bunch. Looking down the slapped-on iron sights and firing the mysterious raygun towards Jubatus, the leader of the pack of primates snickered and sneered as the group redoubled their attempts to retake the offensive. No way they were going down without a fight!

The ape with the disfigured face gave his boss a curt nod, cracking his meaty knuckles as he charged the cryonic vampire who'd just thwarted his erstwhile compatriots' attempted at hamfisted diplomacy. Laying his grimy mitts all over Comrade Frost, the gargantuan gorilla in the dapper glad rags just couldn't get a grip on him; his hands sliding all over the icy armor coating his adversary!

"He's a slippery one, boss," he remarked, as if it weren't obvious already. Deterred but not unnerved, the pair of gorillas now accosting the Peoples' Heroes liaison were readying for another go at the callously cold Comrade Frost, vile glares and stink-eyes hoisted the aged superhero's way.

Miss Mitzi, on the other hand, saw things in a different light. Things weren't going so well; and if Big Coco couldn't put a dent in this guy, then she knew her pathetic loaner of a plasma peashooter didn't stand a chance. She needed some serious firepower to level the playing field - and level it she would, as she spied the good doctor's trusty scattergun! That thing packed a punch, and with a few acrobatic tumbles and a timely tuck-and-roll, the simian in the slinky dress had her paws on her prize. If this thing couldn't do some damage to these shmucks, then it wasn't likely anything would.

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Okay, the chimp's got a zap-gun, too, Jubatus thought. Looks like a different model than the one that moll used. As the chimp slowly, slowly, swiveled its gun around, Jube came up with, and evaluated, a number of courses of action; by the time the chimp's gun was once more steady, Jube knew what he was going to do.

The cheetah extracted a polished steel hand-mirror from his Vest of Many Things, grasped it firmly in a two-forepaw'ed grip, and moved it in position to intercept the zap-gun's beam, reflect that beam harmlessly into the ground. Then he waited for the chimp to finish pulling the trigger… and when the beam (finally!) emerged from the gun's barrel, it struck the mirror.

It also struck Jube's fingertips.

Oh hell. Bizarre energy flowed through his forepaws, up his forelegs—Need a bigger mirror, handgrip on back surface, something—and the feline's flesh and bone flowed wherever that energy touched his body, shrinking and shifting into a new form—Oh [bg=black]xxix[/bg] the genetic boobytraps—and within seconds, the Fastest Cat Alive was gone, replaced by the Fastest Capuchin Alive!

I'm not dead, the transformed hero thought. I'm not dead! Which means I'm still in the game. Now, where's that damn chimp…

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When the science-weapon's radiation washed over Jubatus, transforming the already-altered man into an entirely new simian appearance, Comrade Frost decided the joke was wearing thin. "Enough! I grow tired of games, comrade apes. Your chilling crimes stop now." He reached up and slowly, methodically peeled off his right glove, revealing pale icy flesh underneath that seemed to suck the heat out of the room. "You are outsiders. I go easy on you. No longer. Jubatus, DOWN!" He pointed his open palm at the cluster of apes and a chilling, burning cold erupted in the room as heat, life, and energy was drained from the bodies of the apes, their clothes, the floor on which they stood and their weapons. An icy chill washed over them all, sinking deep into their bones, as the thermovoric power of the icy hero washed over them all. As an icy fog arose from the frozen air between him and the apes, the ice-covered Comrade Frost said simply, "Freeze."

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As the clime within Pizzazz took on a frigid demeanor thanks to Comrade Frost, the Monkey Bunch fell to the mercy of the winter chill enveloping around them. Fog enshrouded their very beings, catching the remaining multidimensional miscreants in the cone of unerring bitter cold. The biting frost nipping at their hairy, well-dressed hides was a bitter thing; a painful look etching their ways across each of their faces. One by one the primates fell victim to the heat-sucking vampire as glass cases cracked and their weapons became painful to hold. First went Sammy, a mortified look on his face as he tried to stammer something between the rattling teeth in his mouth as he dropped the raygun to the floor, curling down on the floor in a feeble attempt to keep warm.

The other chimps, both battered and blistered by the sudden suffocation of all that was warm and toasty inside the heated jewelry store, watched as their fearless leader fell to the floor, whimpering from the frostbite now clinging to his body. While Coco goes red (or, at least, relatively so given how cold he was), Mitzi and Binti exchange looks - they knew the score. Like clockwork, the duo dropped their armaments, hair hands uplifted non-threateningly. After a few glares, Coco followed suit, dropping his lone firearm with a grimace.

"Vee z-z-zurrender, darling! Juzt ztop giving uz dee cold shoulder, s'il vous plaît," Mitzi pleaded, faux charm rife on her lips.

"K-kn-kn-knew we s-s-should'a stuck to the-the-the plan," murmured Binti, whilst Coco just glared at Comrade Frost. "Bl-blew that deal for nothin'! Stupid dame..."

"Least we got one of-of-of yous," the big gorilla added, a chiding smile of anger intermixed with pleasure towards the Capuchin whom was once a cat.

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" Jubatus, DOWN!"

The feline's reflexive first thought—Down? I just got shrunk to, like, 1/3 life-size; I am down!—was elbowed out of his conscious attention by the nigh-instantaneous follow-up—Yeah, and CF saw that, and he's not stupid, and he's still telling me to get down!

He hugged the ground, making damn sure that his tail was down, as Frost's "pocket blizzard" froze all the fight out of the thieving monkeys.

"Least we got one of-of-of yous."

After a momentary upshift, to confirm that he still possessed his Timeshift ability, Jubatus glared at the big ape. "Yeah. You also got a bunch of other people, some of whom are not at all well. You'd damn well better hope none of 'em die from what you did to them." Then, looking up at the Russian master of cold: "And it's about time I checked on those other victims. I'll be back—" And the cheetah blurred away, to confirm that none of the suffering ex-humans had taken a turn for the worse in the past several clock-seconds.

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"Be thankful I did no worse. Now, kick your weapons over here." When the chilly apes had complied, Comrade Frost slowly redonned his glove, the ice on his skin gradually fading away as he restrained his body's innate thermovoric powers. "Now. Tell me how it is the transformation brought about by your gun can be undone." he said, slowly circling the chilly group as Jubatus conducted his search. "Are you victims of its power yourself? Or has Comrade Dr. Simian turned to gangsters and wreckers as his allies?" he asked, his voice as cold as winter winds. He'd encountered a lot of apes in his time, and knew you had to be cruel to be kind, especially if you didn't know their motivations. "A chilling thought, eh?"

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Back outside, the distant cries of EMTs echoed through the streets as Jubatus raced out of Pizzazz in his new form to tend to the ailing monkeyfied citizens of Freedom. It was clear things had changed little since the brawl within the jewelry store, with vehicles piled high in disarray along the streets of Midtown like a child's building blocks thrown out of order. As the speed Capuchin passed by on his speedy patrol, one particular little marmoset made its plea loud and clear; the voice of a child rife with discomfort and shock.

"I d-don't feel so good," she moaned. While it was hard to tell with all the hair and the teeny-tiny frame, the voice betrayed the once-a-girl's age. She couldn't possibly be older than six or seven, and as she splayed herself along the asphalt, it was clear why to the former Fastest Cat Alive: her body wasn't naturally compatible with this form! Upon closer inspection, where thicker, more sandpaper like digits ought to be, only one was as such, whilst the other retained its human form, albeit miniaturized - a grotesque deformity of painful proportions. Her groans of agony were almost heartbreaking as her chimp of a mother sat beside her, gently stroking head for what little comfort she could provide. There was no telling what kind of damage was going on inside the poor thing's body.

"Please! Help us! Help my daughter!" pleaded the motherly chimpanzee; not just to Jubatus, but to anyone - everyone! - who wasn't wracked with spasms. Whatever the raygun had done, it hadn't done it exactly as it was supposed to.

Back in Pizzazz, the rest of the conscious members of the Monkey Bunch retained their poses, hands uplifted in defeat as Comrade Frost oversaw their surrender. Complying with the brooding hero's request, one by one of the primate rabble-rousers kicked their armaments towards the parka-sporting vampire, unaware of his true form.

"Heck, I d-d-dunno how to tur-turn it off, Icebox!" the one called Binti chided, eyes narrowing from his malformed visage towards the pale Russian cold-controller. "I'm just the mus-muscle. We don't even w-work for da Doc no more! We were 'sposed to just-just stick to the plan..." While his words were biting, it was clear there was some truth to them. The gorilla didn't seem the type to be too keen on the goings-on with Sammy's devilish blaster, nor the machinations behind why or how they'd gotten it.

"Sh-shut up!" Coco demanded, the more brutish of the pair clearly the dominant palooka. "We ain't sayin' noth-nothin' to no goody-goody like yous!" Following suit, Mitzi gave a reassuring nod before glancing over her fallen comrades. Whatever the femme fatale of the simian saboteurs had to say, she wasn't saying it, though she did seem keen on giving Binti a stern look.

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"Please! Help us! Help my daughter!" pleaded the motherly chimpanzee…

Jubatus was not happy. Granted, 'not happy' was his default emotional condition, but the suffering child didn't help, nor did the fact that he was utterly powerless to do anything to relieve the child's torment. Bastards. They just ran through the area, zapping targets-of-opportunity, not giving a damn who got hurt… wait. Do they even know anyone got hurt? It was a logical question; given that most of the transformed people were 100% healthy members of their newly-assigned species, the sort of misfire that Jubatus was seeing now had to be a comparatively rare event. And since it had presumably been a drive-by zapping, the anti-social apes might well have been around the corner before they could have gotten a clue that a transformation had gone wrong.

So let's say the apes don't know about any painful side-effects. Odds are, they wouldn't have zapped a kid if they did know… hmm. "Protect the offspring" is a bit of an innate instinctive reaction for primates; betcha it's an exploitable reaction!

The ex-human, ex-cheetah hero realized he'd slipped into fast-time while he pondered; he maintained his upshift while working out details of his plan of action, then downshifted to speak to the mother.

"Hello. I don't look it at the moment, but I'm Jubatus. I can't undo this transformation myself, but the apes who zapped your daughter are in custody, and I'll bet they can undo it. And I'm thinking they'll want to undo it if they see how your daughter is suffering." Hopefully they'll end her agony by reverting her back to normal, not by a second zap that completes the transformation. But either way, the kid'll be better off than she is now. "Can I bring your daughter to the apes who transformed us. let them see the results of their handiwork?"

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"W-what?" stammered the motherly chimp, eyes wide with both joy and shock, the low roar of the sirens from the Emergency Medical Teams reaching the peak of their auditory pitch as they finally arrived. The previously human woman looks confused, as if uncertain of her decision. But as she watched the trauma teams' inexperience with such matters, she eventually nodded solemnly towards otherwise unrecognizable Jubatus. "I'm going with you. I can't leave my Sara... not like this," she sobbed, staring at her perpetually tormented daughter.

Outside, men and women in white-and-blue outfits rushed from the vehicles, and they all shared the same expression: they had no idea what to do about monkeys. Nevertheless, they scramble as best they can, prioritizing the moaning monkeys over the (relatively) unharmed primates that litter the street elsewhere. Already the panic on their faces was becoming their fanfare as they systematically gave up and, instead, began the process of getting the injured non-humans into the ambulances. No doubt it was their intent to see them escorted to somewhere more prepared for this sort of thing. They didn't even seem to recognize Jubatus; though one could hardly blame them given the way things had turned out.

Back inside, Binti wasn't too keen on being told to keep quiet. He was progressively growing more angry and disquieted with each insistence he shut his trap.

"Look, I-I'll level and tell ya what I know, Chilly. I didn't even wanna be a part a'this an-an-anyway," he stammered, glaring at Coco and Mitzi as they returned the favor with gusto. "Sam here was-was-was hired b-by some lady; I ain't never seen her, ju-just heard her voice a cou-coupla' times. Said we could stri-ik-ike it b-big if we could get some kind of info from this g-gun she gave us," the big lug said, motioning towards the raygun only a few feet away from the monkey in the zoot suit's prone form.

"If vee get out of-of-of this, mon ami, vee're going t-t-to have a little ch-chat," Mitzi threatened none too subtlety, Coco looking as though he were willing to risk getting chilled again to shut his former friend up.

"Ah, shuddup!" Binti retorted, turning back to Frost as his anger quelled itself in the still bitter air. "We was 'sposed to rob thi-thi-this bank. Wouldn't be no sec-security if they was all lil' marmosets, y'see. But Sammy? S-Sammy though we cou-could just hit up everything along the way. Ain't nobody could stop us... not till' you showed up. We was s'posed to beat it before any ca-ca-capes showed up."

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