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Mall Rat


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Thurdsay January 2nd, 6:00pm, Midtown...


...the Mall


The New Year Sale was in full swing, with shops staying late, selling top top goods at low low prices. Or so the blazing music and slogans would have you believe. The truth may have fell a little short of the hype, but business was good that day. 


Aside from the regular stores and conveniences, a number of one-off market stalls had set up, selling everything from fountain of youth creams to fat busting skin lotion. After the yuletide indulgences, the same stalls that had been selling cakes, candy, and calories were not trying to pedal miracle weight loss and beauty treatments. 


A new year, a new you. 


And, human beings being human beings, that is, believing what it is convenient to believe, were lapping it up. A Mindy, Mandy, and Melanie, a trio of super-glam-fun teenage girls, arms weighed down by shopping bags courtesy of wealthy parents, were all keen to try the next big swindle in order to gain a microscopic advantage in appearance, and a fractional rise in the cruel social ladder of high school...

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Daphne enjoyed people watching almost as much as watching television. She would watch the hustle and bustle of people walking by living there busy little lives. As she watched she skimmed there thoughts gaining little insights into there lives. She'd been practicing since she'd arrived and had gotten good enough by now that very few humans noticed her presence. The nice thoughts made her smile, the selfish one made her frown and the occasional bad one she made note of to try and help them later...

One of her favourite places to watch people was the mall, not only were most of the thoughts happy she also pickuped up valuable fashion tips as the day progressed. She found this wonderful little place that served milkshakes and was making a solid effort to work her way through all there flavours.

Her curiosity perked by some of the stalls set up today she decided to take a wander over, she always the banter they provided when trying to sell something. And if she found out it was all a fake she would try to stop to many people falling for the scam. So she stood at the back of the crowd, still drinking her milkshake, listening to what they were trying to sell.

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Mindy, Mandy, And Melanie had gone into the fabulous miracle patented insta-weight loss cream booth, and came out wrapped in cellophane and smeared in a green goo. 


"Wow this is fabulous! I feel slimmer already!" said Mindy, sipping on a full fat frappocino. 


"You got it ladies!" said the store owner, clicking his fingers into a pointed single finger and giving them a wink. The man was likea 50s ad man, a tall, thin, handsome man, with slick black hair and a perma tan. He had a long, intelligent face and a sharp suit. 


"Don't ever say Mr. Swish don't work miracles!" he finished, giving them another wink and thumbing the impressive wad of money he had made off them. 


Jeesh, who would have thought I could not only get rid of this muck cheaply but make a killing on it too!


"This is gonna be awesome!" smiled Mandy, emitting jazz hands in excitement. None of the three girls needed any weight loss except if they planned to do some modelling of the borderline-starvation look. 


"It sure is honey, it sure is! You girls just relax and wait for a whole new you. I gotta go and get some..ah...new supplies" smiled Mr. Swish, ducking back into his booth. 


I gotta go get outta here before this stuff kicks in!

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Daphne’s eyebrows furrowed whilst she tried her best not to show her displeasure. Whilst many of the stall tried to con money out of innocent people, which was wrong, but this was worse it sounded like it could hurt people.


First thing was try to avoid the poor girls getting themselves hurt, she stepped in front of them and gave one of her best winning smiles, before using something she gained from one of the girls when she brushed past them.


“Oh wow did you not hear? My friend Megan put that stuff on and it like totally made her skin go green. She was literally bright green for weeks...â€


Before they could think it through she had to dash off, and hope they were worried enough to wash the goo off. When Daphne was totally relaxed she could pick up human thoughts at a distance, or at least fragment’s of them, but right now she was anything but relaxed being annoyed with the nasty man. She needed to know what danger people were in, and the quickest way to do that was to search the man’s mind, and that meant physical contact.


Moving around to the back of the booth, and out of sight of everyone else, she made her body intangible to phase through the booth into where the man was hiding.

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Inside the booth, Mr. Swish was packing up his suitcase, loaded with cash, and various tools and devices. He snapped it shut with a deep grin. 


"Easy money!" he said to himself. "Another unsatisfied customer takes a load of industrial chemical waste off my hands. Its win win. I win once, I win twice. Oh, and they lose" he chuckled, running a hand through his hair, and checking out his reflection in the mirror. 


"Hell, you are winner, Swish!" he said, giving himself a grin, a wink, and a snapped finger pointed to himself. 


And with that, he shot out the back door of the booth. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Phasing through the tent was no trouble at all but it did mean she couldn’t touch anyone in this state. So she made herself solid again but kept her body opaque to light. In the tent with poor lighting she was almost invisible to all but the more skilled observer.


With the con artist obviously read to flee the scene she had no real time to examine her environment or consider her actions carefully. INstead in a rush to find the information about what this chemical could do she moved as rapidly as she could across the room to get a touch on the man so she could read the secrets he was keeping about the cream.

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Easy money! That cream was toxic as hell, even the guy that sold it was frightened, didn't know what it would do! And I managed to palm it off as beauty cream...


I guess people believe what they want to believe!


And meanwhile, I just got myself a ticket to the casino's. I needed that cash, man...the mob are going to use my kneecaps for tea saucers. But old Mr. Smooth has a plan, oh yes he does! I got the biggest scam going at the casino...




I got friends there, friends that want to get rich quick. Friends that will give me an edge in poker. The mob won't be happy, but at least they won't be doing amateur surgery on me...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Reading another person’s mind always carried with it a sort of psychic residue some stronger than others. Mostly the experience was pleasant but reading this man made her feel all dirty. There wasn’t enough brain bleach to clean a mind like that.

Whilst her first instinct was to stun the man and bring her to justice there were other people right now in danger, like those girls out there, who could be in serious danger. Beside she knew exactly where he was going to be and she could get there so much faster.


For now she let him leave whilst she made her way back the same way to check that the girls were alright.

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Even her voice sounded green. As Miss Grue went back to the thrill Mall girls, one of them had stood up, shrieking. Her skin had turned a mottled green, along with her eyes and hair. She even seemed to be exhaling a faint green breath. 


The mall shoppers around her were undeniably alarmed too, not just at the piercing wail of despair, but of the site of a luminous green mall girl. 


Her wails were soon harmonised by the other two girls. To be fair, they had slightly different shades of green. On closer examination, the green was not even uniform, but streaky. To add insult to injury. 


One quick minded shopper pulled out a cell phone and dialed 911. 


"Help! We have a...a...er...um...we have a...Hell, I don't know what to call it, but you better send an ambulance!"

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It seemed Daphne had arrived back just in time thinking fast she had to come up with some way to help them fast. She moved as quickly as she could over the girls as a possible solution presented itself.

What if I used my sampling to try and stimulate the skin to shed the chemical?

That could be incredibly risky what if you suffered from some sort of feedback? And the chemical could be harmful to Grue. I forbid...

As part of her Grue physimony she could analyse a creatures DNA with a simple touch, she couldn’t normally access the information, it only allowed her to duplicate someone to the genetic level, but with a little effort she could use it to simulate the girls own skin. She gently touched the first girl, activating the ability as she did.

“You know I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks, I think it’s already wearing off.â€


Before they could recover their sense she went from girl to girl as subtly as she could helping them slough off the dangerous chemical.

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The three girls were positively hysterical, screaming at each other and the universe. Sobs punctuated the air when they had had enough time to draw breath between the wails. 


"What do you mean its not so bad! I look like a mutant! My life is ruined!" said Mindy. 


"I'm never going to get Todd McAce looking like this!" said Mandy. 


"Nobody will ever love me...hey..wait..." said Melanie, who stopped mid sob to notice her skin peeling and bubbling, and the green mottled stuff falling off like a snakes skin to reveal pink healthy skin underneath. 


Never satisfied, the threesome started debating how simply awful the shedded skin looked, how it got in their hair, and how their new pink flesh looked so pale. This was obviously a job for a tanning salon. 


"I'm going to get that guy! I paid a thousand bucks for this! My daddy's gonna sue his ass!" said Mindy, stomping her foot in indignation. 

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Unseen and unnoticed Daphne was happy that she had help these girls, and she had one last gift for the girl. Counting to five she clicked her fingers for her little surprise. At that point the little delayed command should have kicked in stimulating the melanin production to give a beautiful golden tan.


She’d like to have stuck around to see their full reactions but she had to rush off to stop this man doing any more harm. Going insubstantial again she took to the skies to make her way with some haste to the casino where he was heading.

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Southside Boardwalk...


...The Southside Palace...


Miss Grue had read Mr. Swish's mind - literally - and new his destination and direction. It was not difficult to follow him, although he had a head start and the streets where crowded. 


She caught up, and caught site of him just as he was entering the Southside Palace, the biggest and oldest casino on the Board walk. Even at this time, it was busy. Rows upon rows of slot machines jingled away with an assorted variety of beeps, whistles and, every now and again, flutter of coins being ejected. Ladys of leisure, with money and time, were the most common sitters on these addictive machines, but they could hook nearly anybody as far as Daphne could see. She swore she could even see a nun cranking an arm on one of them. 


Mr. Swish went straight for the big tables, though, full of big money, big stakes, and big men in dark suits and dark glasses keeping careful watch over the proceedings. 


Most pressingly, there were two doormen who blocked her way even if she could see inside for a few moments. 


No Minors


Said a blatant and accurate sign. 


No Minors! added the Mother Ship Unit, in her head, with a *tsk*

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  • 4 weeks later...

Normal sixteen year old girls aren't normally allowed into Casino, especially the kind that existed on Broadway. Luckily for her Daphne wasn’t your normal sixteen year old girl and from her years watching television she knew just the kind of woman would be welcome at this kind of place.

Dropping to the sidewalk opposite the casino she timed her change so it appeared the woman had just left a passing Cab. Her appearance had alter dramatically from her normal form she was appeared much older and more, developed, than she normally did.

I wonder why they call these puppies? Daphne idely wonder staring down at her new cleavage.

I really don’t think this is at all an appropriate discussion.

I mean they could really bounce around like two excited puppies I suppose?

This clothing is inappropriate for someone like you, there far to little of it to start. It leave almost nothing to the imagination.

They expect me to wear something like this, beside I don’t have time to change form.


Having crossed the street she stood in front of the Bouncers and gave them a friendly smile.

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"Evening ma'am...have a good evening!" smiled the two bouncers at the two puppies. Their eyes seem to grow slightly as Ms Grue entered the Southside Palace. 


The Southside Palace was grand enough in decor, and vast inside. Rows and rows of slot machines tinkled away to the gaze of hypnotized arm pullers. Further on, the cards and tables lay, with roulette, blackjack, craps dominating the floor space. Security was tight - guards everywhere, both static and roaming, and camera's dotting every nook in the ceiling. 


There was a certain gay atmosphere, a certain adrenaline in the air. Of course, their was sadness and despair too. And drinks that fuelled all of these disparate but interconnected emotions. 


"Courtesy glass of champagne ma'am?" said one passing waiter on entry, almost pressing the glass into her hands. It made some sense. Drunk gamblers lost more money. 


Craning her neck, Ms. Grue could see Mr. Swish at a Roulette table, shuffling around tokens and talking to a thick set, bald man who looked as wide as he was tall, from a mixture of both fat and muscle. 

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  • 1 month later...

Daphne resisted the urge to punch the air or do a little victory dance, she was undercover after all. As she walked she made sure to put on the exaggerated sashy that she seen on every femme fatale everywhere.  

I still think this is a bad idea, you're still a minor young lady!

I promise I won't gamble or get corrupted by this places decadent ways.

Don't make fun of me, I have acces to your brain. I know what you're thinking.

I know but people are in trouble and I need to try and help. Now hush please I need to concentrate.

Finding a quiet spot Daphne spent a few minutes scanning the room looking the waitresses looking after the room. Then with little effort she copied there uniform, somehow feeling less dressed in technically more fabric. She then made her way over to lean in behind Mr Swish touching him again to delve into his mind.

"Could I get you a refill sir?"


Not only was she after details of his meeting she was looking for his type of girl, or boy, staying by his side would be easier if she was wearing the body of someone he fancied.

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"Ten on the black, five on evens...." garbled Mr. Swish, confident of victory in the game of pure luck. His newly earned chips zipped this way and that across the table. The croupiers face was an impassive wall of stone, following the movements of the five players and their bits with an eagle eye. 


The huge bald man, who must have been six foot and well over twenty stone, gave Mr. Swish a fierce stare and cracked his knuckles. He was not playing himself. His body was stocky muscle and a generous pasting of fat. His suit was well cut, complete with a tie and earpiece. Security, it seemed, and not of a particularly pleasant cut. 


He leaned into Mr. Swish, whispering in his ear - a whisper Daphne caught through both her own and her mind reading. 


"You owe the boss, Swish. Its knee bustin' time unless you do. The tables aren't gonna save your skin..."


"Sure sure, put it on my tab!" smiled back Mr. Swish as he laughed off the threat. 


The ball clattered across the spinning wheel, clunk click clack. It wobbled, then toppled. 


Into the zero. 


"House wins!" said the croupier to groans from the players, sweat from Swish, and a cackle from the security man who gripped Swishes elbow in a vice like grip...

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  • 1 month later...

As much as this man deserved it she couldn’t let him go alone into danger and most likely physical harm, and if she was to find the whole story she’d need a chance to meet his boss as well. Thinking quickly on her feet, something she liked to think she excelled at, Daphne went with what she thought a waitress in a place like this would do.


Chewing invisible gum, because they always seem to do that on TV, she stepped between the two and place her hand on the security guard chest.


“Whoa there big guy this chum here just order up a drink and really could do with the tips. I ain’t standing around in these thing...†she pointed at her high heels “... for nothing. One final drink and he’s all yours okay.â€


She poured on the charm with a cheeky smile, and if that failed touching him she would know if he was about to try anything dangerous. To himself hopefully.

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The muscle tightened his grip on Mr. Swish's arm, eliciting a yelp and a plea. 


"I'm gonna rip yer arm clean from its socket, ya dirty no good...oh pardon me Miss..." grunted the goon, as Ms Grue interjected between the two of them. 


For a moment he seemed torn...between tearing an arm of now, or tearing it off later. 


"Honeycheeks, yer got some sweet sweet lips on yer. Yer know I gotsta bust this guy up, for da boss, ya see. Its business." he explained almost apologetically. 


He took in the full length of Miss Grue, savouring her curves. 


"Godammit, I don't know how I miss someone like you working the joint. You got class baby, and grit too. I'm gonna buy you a drink when you get off shift, ya know what I mean. Yeah, you and me honeycheeks..." he said, licking his lips and giving her a wink. He seemed to have forgotten about Mr Swish who was still held in his simian grip, although it seemed to slack as his attention wandered. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Smiling as part of the act and because her act was working she whispered in his ear, and hopeful he didn’t notice she wasn’t on tip toes, and whispered in his ear.


“I get off in five, just finish this order, why don’t you go wait over there?â€


She pointed to the staff entrance in the opposite direction from where she planned to take Swish if she had a chance. Talking if which with a “accidental†bush with her arm she tagged his mentally, not something she normally did, in case she had to find him at a distance.

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The musclebound bouncer paused for a fraction of a second, contemplating the various pushes and pulls. Loyalty, Fear, The Joy of Beating Up a Wimp, and Lust. 


The latter won out. 


"You betcha doll. Keep that smile on yer face, I'm gonna be all over it!" he grinned. 


He managed to fix Swish with a glare before he left. "Your lucky day, dead man. You get to breathe for another day!" he said through gritty teeth. 


Swish turned around to face Daphne himself. 


"Hey I just hit jackpot! How did you swoon into my life and make it complete?" he asked. You had to hand it to him. He was just about to have all four limbs broken but he didn't miss a beat, moving straight into a patter. He punctuated with a wink and two snapped fingers that transformed into a mimed guns, pointed affectionately at her saviour. 


"I'd lay of the meat head, baby! You be better off with some Swish stuff!"

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Should I inform the authorities about this man?

Not now I’m trying to gather information. He’ll get his comeuppance soon enough.

I shall keep them on speed dial as they say.

How can such a hi-tech device been so stuck in the pass?

Draping herself over the man, once the bouncer was out of sight, she use the simplest mental technique to gather information from his mind. She called it the Pink Elephant effect.


“Sure honey we can discuss that over a drink.†a soda “But why did that bouncer want with you did you do something to the boss?â€

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Mr Swish gulped. He tried not to, but he did. He did his best to stop the crack in the facade, but thinking back to the Mob...and the involuntary gulp happened. 


"Hey, let me buy you a drink, and I'll tell you all about it..."


Mere moments later, at the bar...


"Hey! A double slick and swish! with an umbrella! my own recipe!" he said, taking two cocktail glasses from the barman, who sighed deeply, and handing one to Daphne. He had not asked what she wanted. 


The double slick and swish cocktail was a vivid purple colour, with a creamy froth on top. It almost glowed. It had a lemon slice, an olive, and a chocolate stick floating in the top, and came complete with a mini-umbrella. It was as if every cheesy cocktail had rushed into one cocktail glass and fused. 


"Well yeah, I got contacts, baby. Just so happens I know the boss of this place, real well. I let him borrow my Chateaux in France every year" he oozed, not making eye contact with Daphne. "Every so often I fly into Freedom City, in my private plane, to catch up with him, ya know, shoot some pool, play some cards" he sang, like a river of silky slime. "Yeah, well, thing is, I got into a bit of a...um...misunderstanding....with some of his dogs, ya know...not like the muscle head. His actual pet dogs. Guy really has a soft heart for them..."

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Frustratingly the man was so intent on building his own little fantasy that she couldn’t get a good ready on his real intention. She’d have to do this the old fashion way starting by making him think he had the advantage. She downed the drink in one, it helped that she could drink battery acid without harm.

She put her heads on her hands and looked at him intently Swish as if she was hanging on his every word. Hopefully she would be able to beat his defenses and get a true read on what was going one.


“Wow that fascinating, please tell me more.â€

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"Yeah sure, babe..." said Swish, not missing a beat. He nearly poked his eye out drinking his Slick and Swish, but he was damned if he was going to show it, even if his left eye wept tears and was becoming progressively more bloodshot. 


"Well, ya see, I do all types of business. A bit of this, a bit of that. A smooth operator, ya see? So, turns out one day, I got my hands on some special dru...vitamins. Well, the boss is real attached to his fighting pit bulls, ya see. Likes betting on them, when they fi...I mean, at dog shows. Yeah, real cute they are..."


A little shudder was not unnoticed. His eyes darted across the casino to see if anyone was clocking them. 


"Anyway, I spot my self an oppurtunity, ya see? I get to sell the...vitamins...real discount to my pal, you see...and he gets to have his dogs all strong and healthy and ready to rip the fle...I mean, looking real swell for the dog show, ya dig?" he said, swizzing his umbrella around his cocktail glass. He had drunk the whole thing already, loosening his tongue and calming his shredded nerves. 


"Well turns out the...vitamins...they were extra strong you see? Which turned the dogs into rabid pumped up muta...I mean, it made their coats a bit too glossy, ya dig? Well, turns out the Boss didn't like his sweet ones so psychopathi...I mean, so glossy, yeah?"

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