So given that Tyler is about to go off the market, and that Affectos has suggested a Stag Do, here we go. Affectos can start it off and set the theme, but then it's all on me and Pete (also me). Several things are about to go wrong here.
Tyler followed behind Felix and Pete, his arms outstretched as they had insisted on the blindfold. They'd had him in a car for a bit, but now they were out of it and walking, "I'm really happy you didn't actually go through with the whole 'sticking him in the trunk' idea."
"Yeah, well I'm pretty sure Bri would've come down on us if we had." Pete replied, a bit of a joke in his voice, "Besides, didn't Felix already admit he's afraid of her enough as is?"
Felix's voice snipped back, "Am not!"
"Boys," Tyler responded as he kept walking, following their voices, "How about we focus on the guy who's about to get hitched? Where are you guys taking me anyway? Due to the fact there's people around us, I'm assuming we're not in the Warehouse."
Pete chuckled, "You're right about that." Tyler quickly shielded his eyes as his vision re-adjusted. When they were back to normal, he found himself outside a neon-lit club called The Jousting Buck. Leaning against the door going in was Aden.
Tyler raised an eyebrow, "One of your many favors?"
Aden nodded. "Guy who runs this place is a Prince of Form named Lance. Dude got in a bit of trouble when a burglar broke into his house. Powers got triggered and the thief was killed. Justifiable homicide'" he added.
Tyler nodded, understanding, "Interesting, I'm assuming this favor is gonna be good then."
The space rogue nodded, "Yeah, VIP room is just the start. Care to see?"
Nodding, the four walked in. Once inside, electro filled the air as Tyler saw exactly what kind of club this was; several stages were set up as the lights were focused on the scantily-clad women dancing. Tyler couldn't help but chuckle, "Well, if this is was Aden lined up, I'm now interested to see what the two of you cooked up." He nudged Felix and Pete.
Reaching the gilded VIP room, Aden pushed it open for them, revealing Steve, Matt, Blaine, Juan, and a new guy dressed in a sapphire blue button-up and white fedora, vest, and slacks. Seeing Tyler, they all raised a glass to him. The new guy stood up and walked over to shake Tyler's hand, "You must be the lucky groom, I'm Lance. Surely Aden mentioned that I was the owner?"
He nodded, "Yeah, he also mentioned that you were a Prince of Form...what does that mean exactly? I mean, I know that Aden can manipulate space and Juan can do stuff with time."
Lance bit his lip, "Erm...well, the aspect of 'Form' basically means my abilities draw from shape-shifting. The main thing is that, well, I tend to use the power to destroy." The owner was looking nervous as he explained.
Before Tyler could ask more, Aden whispered to him, "Lance is still a bit afraid of his powers. Remember how I mentioned he accidentally killed a burglar?" Tyler suddenly understood and put two and two together.
Trying to change the topic, Tyler walked in and crashed on one of the plush chair, "So Lance, what comes with the VIP room?"
Perking up, Lance walked over and sat on the arm rest, "Free drinks for starters. Also, there's your choice of dancers. I think Aden mentioned something about you marrying one heck of a girl, but Matt here mentioned something about a little stint you did as 'Towering Tyler'?" He smiled and winked.
Aden sat back down and went back to his drink, "Lance caters to both genders, male and female dancers."
Lance shrugged, "What can I say? In today's world, being able to switch male and female attractions brings in the money. Shifting between acts comes naturally."
The group made themselves comfortable and each one found either a dancer they fancied or made their home at the bar. Steve and Pete holding a beer and cola respectively while Juan and Matt enjoyed the company of certain entertainers. Tyler got the center of attention, a special performance Lance had managed to get together for his benefit. Felix and Blaine chatted in the corner booth, both examining a sheet of paper, but it was quickly abandoned when a slim guy wearing nothing but a gold speedo took the felines attention and he allowed himself a show. It had barely been ten minutes before Lance spoke up.
"Hey, no smoking in the club!" He gestured at Felix, who was puffing a white smoke over his dancer and grinning stupidly. The dancer was in a fit of giggles and had toppled over him, stroking his hair in wonderment. Aden put a hand on Lances shoulder.
"Don't mind him, he sort of produces this stuff naturally. Our work tends to attract sort of 'metahumans'."
Lance scowled slightly, but couldn't hide a faint smile. "Alright, can you at least do that outside if you have to. And please don't inebriate my dancers." He took the young man and steered him towards a door. "Come on Jerry, you need some fresh air."
Aden raised an eyebrow at Felix, who still had a grin on his face. "What? I couldn't resist it." he got up and brushed some glitter off his jeans. "I need to get going, I have a bit more prep to do anyway." He looked over to Tyler who, along with Matt and Juan, were surrounded by dancers of both genders. Making brief eye contact with Matt, he gave a wink and vanished into a swirl of energy conjured by the Space master.
Tyler waved goodbye to Felix as he headed out, "Prep? Should I be worried or excited?" The soon-to-be groom didn't get an answer as Felix vanished into the energy. Shrugging, he looked over to Lance, "What do you suggest Lance? You know the dancers better than me."
Lance gazed over the group and spied a curvaceous blonde in an outfit that resembled Black Canary, "Dia, care to treat our guest of honor?"
She smiled and walked over to Tyler, leaning forward, "Mmmmm....definitely a DC guy."
Matt sat at the bar and watched as the blonde woman in fishnet stockings, black heels, and a black vest led the soon-to-be-wed to a back room for a private party. He smiled and rolled his eyes, going back to his drink.
"Hey," Lance said, coming up and leaned against the bar table, motioning for the bartender. "Virgin Arizona Sunset."
The bartender nodded and mixed up the request.
"You're Matt, right? Aden told me a bit about you. Not much, though." Lance sat down and got comfortable.
"I bet he did. Never been to a strip club before, though. Nerves mostly. And budget." Matt took a final sip of his watered-down cocktail and slid the empty glass away for the bartender to pick up.
"Heh, don't worry. I keep things just in range for most customers. That actually gets more money in the long run; more people come more often." Lance explained as his drink arrived. He took a sip, but coughed in surprise and set the drink back down.
"Christine! I asked for a Virgin Arizona Sunset. This is a Millionaire Sour." The bartender, Christine, apologized and took the glass back to make another drink.
"Ah, she's new. She makes great drinks, really. She just gets the ingredients mixed up on occasion." Lance sighed.
"Aden didn't tell you?" Matt asked.
"Tell me what?" Lance sat up straighter, looking at the agent.
"I'm pretty talented when it comes to cocktails." Matt said. "Kinda got interested thanks to my line of work."
"Look, no offense, but even with the money I'm getting, I can't spare enough for another barman." Lance sighed.
"No, don't worry. I'll do it for free. Makes me smile to see people get good drinks. I'm entertaining at it, to." Matt beamed. Lance seemed to warm up to the idea after some thought.
"Okay," he nodded. "Fix me up that Sunset, and let me see you work that magic." Lance said.
Matt walked behind the counter and got a fresh glass. In a matter of moments, a perfect Virgin Arizona Sunset was placed before Lance.
Taking a sip, he put down the glass and let out a long sigh. "That's the best drink I've had in a while. You weren't kidding!" Matt grinned, adjusting the knot on his apron.
"Hey, I know I said I couldn't pay you, but you think you could volunteer here some time?" Lance asked.
"Well, I've already got a job in a bar in Univille." Matt answered.
"Oh, no, I mean as a dancer? Maybe?" Lance asked. Matt felt his pulse quicken. "I think you'd look good in cuffs, tie, and suit pants."
'Are you kidding me?' Matt thought to himself. 'First Felix, then Liana, now Lance, too?' "Uh, thanks, really. But, I can't really... dance, like them." Matt pointed to the people on stage.
"Oh, really?" Lance said, a smirk replacing his temporary falter. "Well, I'm sure some of my employees would be willing to offer lessons." Lance raised a hand and called two people off the stage, a man with salt and pepper hair in chaps, fedora, and an Indiana Jones whip on his hips, and a woman with cherry-red hair, dressed in a scanty white outfit with small cut ropes on her wrists and around her waist, over to the bar.
"This is Alan and Lyla. Their partners, both on and off the stage. I'm sure they'd be willing to give lessons." Lance's smirk grew. "This one's on the house. Show him the ropes, and if you're up for it, call me." Lance said, taking a business card out. "I'll give it to you later. You won't have many places to put it later, unless you're wearing a G-string."
The couple led Matt away from the bar and into another private room. Lance turned back to his drink and took another swig. "Why does And get all the attractive friends?"
Chapter 2 Edit
Tyler was having a ball.
After his fun with Dia, he returned to the others. Not seeing Matt, he sat next to Juan who was taking in the sight of a chiseled dancer, "Where'd Matt go off to? I swear, if he bailed on us..."
Juan shook his head, "I saw him talking with Lance when two dancers took him into a private room. I think the hermit is getting pulled out of his shell."
Raising an eyebrow, as well as the corners of his mouth he goes over to Lance who's still at the bar, "I know that Matt can be a stick in the mud, but two dancers?"
Lance turned to Tyler, "Actually, your friend offered to volunteer at the bar. In return, he's...learning some new dance moves." Lance chuckled as he took a drink and gestured to the door.
Dance moves? Only dance that Matt knows is the paso from when we snagged Reeve's Cape. Tyler thought, Unless...
"Is it okay if I check in on him?" Tyler smiles, it slowly dawning on him.
"Anything for the soon-groom and 'Towering Tyler'." Lance chides. As Tyler heads off to the room, Lance calls after him "The offer I gave him extends to you as well."
Tyler cocked his head, "What offer?"
"I'm sure that he'll tell you himself."
Tyler walked back to the indicated room and entered. He was very surprised, and not at all averted by what he found.
two dancers from the stage were on either side of Matt, who was pant less, save for some sort of underwear with a lot of crotch padding. He was near the pole's top, with his right arm above his head, and his legs crossed around the pole. Before Tyler could say something, he spun down around the pole to the ground, which was met with applause from the dancers.
Oh, Tyler, I-" Matt stammered. "I didn't think you'd be back here." He got up to his feet, but didn't bother covering his crotch.
"Its okay, dude." Tyler said. "At least now I know that Lance meant by that offer." He nodded to the two dancers, who smiled and nodded back, stepping back to give the agents space to talk, while they worked the pole behind them together.
"Let me guess, you're practicing for Felix? Don't let him catch you in the Eros Section, trust me, he-"
"It isn't for Felix." Matt said. "At least, not entirely."
"What do you mean?" Tyler asked, crossing his arms.
"Recently, I've been getting huge confidence boosts. My new job makes people happy. My new piercing has just made me want to show off. Felix... I don't know how I feel about him. But that new lady, Liana? She's... nice." Matt blushed. "I get attracted to people kinda easily. Those nudity stints with Felix got me interested in him, but Liana and I got to talking earlier, and she's great. But then, Lance said I'd be a great dancer, and I don't know..."
"Wait, what piercing?" Tyler asked, "Look, it doesn't matter, just that you're happy. Now, about this practice."
Matt began to smile again. "This is Lyla and Alan. They said they'd teach me pole moves. Figured I could make people happy in ways other than mixing drinks."
"Not like that... now, anyway. What I'm getting at is that this is helping me get out there more. I could use this as a way to get someone to notice me." Matt blushed.
"Well then," Tyler said. "Don't let me get in the way of your training."
Matt nodded and went back to the pole. He got up and crossed his legs again, but this time, his contact was met with a small metallic "tink." Matt let out a weird noise and let go of the pole. "Ur, um, maybe take a short break guys?"
Alan and Lyla nodded. "We'll tell Lance you've certainly got potential."
After Matt had put his clothes back on and everyone had enjoyed their show, they piled back into Steve's Prius. They drove for a while before pulling into an alley so Aden could open a rift back to the Warehouse. So that's how we got here, Tyler thought to himself. We could be anywhere in the country right now.
As they exited the vehicle, Tyler was stopped by Pete as he made his way to the main door. "Whoah, there, Ty. We're not going in that way today. Felix has cooked up something much more interesting." He took his phone out of his pocket and hit the send button. Felix must have gotten his message, because for the first time since he arrived Tyler saw the large cargo bay doors open. A whole new door to the Warehouse exposed itself to the twilight, and Tyler could see that it appeared to be a hangar of some description. Not connected to the Warehouse main, but still adjacent.
Pete clapped a hand on the stunned agents shoulder. "Impressed much? This is usually used to hold those massive artifacts before they're stored proper. Like the Ovoid of the Titans. But tonight Felix has done something kickass." Tyler looked at the hanger and noticed that is seemed to have a ramshackle assortment of tires, plywood walls and other obstacles strewn about. It seemed to be a rather large, if ordinary garbage dump. Tyler couldn't think of anything less 'action packed', unless...
"PAINTBALL!!!" Felix came racing out of the hangar wearing some body armor and wielding an impressive paintball gun. "For one night only, I have express permission from Mrs F. to host the first ever Warehouse Paintball Deathmatch!" Tyler's face lit up, matching the expressions of those around him. "You have ten minutes to go into the Warehouse and choose two artifacts to help you, then it's a free for all match for the next two hours! Ready?" Everyone got into a racing position. "GO!" Seven agents bolted into the Warehouse and their way towards their weapons of choice.
Pete made his way to where he'd hidden his trump card. Him and Aden had known about the paintball match hours in advance, and even though it was against the "rules", he'd stowed away an artifact that he'd otherwise never have been able to reach in the time limit. He threw the tarp off the red chrome of Steve McQueen's Motorbike and gave the most childlike grin he could.
Tyler wasn't a fool. It was almost like fate that paintball had boomeranged back. Sprinting for the Video Game Cooridor, he smiled seeing that no one else had swiped the Splatoon Splattershot or Roller. Picking the Splattershot up, his hair went cyan. 'Infinite Ammo...' he thought as he splatted the floor in front of him to increase his speed towards the other artifact he had in mind.
Steve had no idea what to do. In the chaos of the race, everyone had bolted off in different direction, all seeming to have a vague idea of where they were going. Steve was left alone in the primary stacks, where the more docile artifacts were stored. He heard a yelp over one of the aisles and saw a plume of multi-colored paint fly upwards. That was the effect of Jackson Pollock's Paint Can, and he knew the at least one of his opponents had the equivalent of a rainbow shotgun for the match.
That made him think. Everyone would likely be going for upgrades to their firepower, but how many would consider a passive assault?
"Time's up!" Felix's voice echoed over the rows of shelves. "Take your artifacts and make your way into the arena. As soon as the door to the Warehouse is closed it's on. Here are the rules, no serious injuries that can't be healed quickly. No aiming for the crown jewels, that's just cheap. And three shots and you're out. We're all different colour paints, the winner is the one who makes the most hits! GO!"
Aden smirked as he hoisted a laser-sight Covie Plasma Rifle that was refitted to shoot electric blue paint. "I love this job!" he smirked, shifting to Street Tier and darting off onto the battlefield. Felix, meanwhile, had set himself up nicely. Planting Aesop's Grapevine in a narrow corridor may not be playing fair, but he was in to win. He heard a yelp as someone was ensnared in the twisting creepers. Rising from the ground with his favorite turban, he shot Steve at point blank range as he tried to disentangle himself. There was a sharp thud as the paintball made contact, then he grabbed the vengeful vegetation by the plant pot and scarpered before the older agent could react.
He didn't get far. He made it around a bend and prepared to pounce over a low wire fence when he was caught in midair by an invisible force and flung backwards. He landed on his back as Tyler stepped out from behind his cover. "It's from the Dingo Fence in Australia, strung it all around the battlefield just for you." With a wicked look in his eye, he aimed a shot right into Felix's solar plexus and vaulted the fence laughing.
He didn't get far either, as he was quickly knocked down by a shot to the leg. Pete zoomed past on his cycle, both hands gripping his gun as he sped through the arena. If it wasn't an artifact he was riding, he surely would have crashed. And he did when Blaine knocked him off his seat with a blast of purple from Jackson Pollock's Paint Can. He then tried to aim a shot at Steve, now vine-free, but being aware of the incoming attack he was able to defend himself. He raised an arm as the paint flew towards him and he was covered with a green glow that caused the splash to orbit him. He grinned and showed Blaine the artifact in his hand, a small brass sphere from Johannes Kepler's Planetary Model. With a gesture, he flung the paint back at it's caster.
Pete scrambled up and ran after his bike, now driving away without a pilot. "Hey!" he exclaimed, "Get back here!" Reaching behind his back, he grabbed hold of Issue One of the Fantastic Four, tucked into his pants. Energy coursed through his body, and, reaching out his arms, his limbs extended like rubber, catching the bike. Pulling himself forward, he hopped back onto the bike.
Spying Aden, Juan slammed the Splatoon Roller on the ground and started running toward the Space Player. "Venganca" he crowed, as Aden slipped the Master Chief Helmet on and darted off in response. "You need to stop yelling that!"
The game came to a decisive end when Juan and Blaine entered a standoff, resulting in purple and cyan paint covering the entire field. The agents all gathered by the front door, all of them in various states of rainbow disarray. An odd cloth-covered square sat in front of them. Blaine had come out as the winner, Juan in close second with Tyler in third. "Gods, that was good. I almost feel sorry for the girls." Juan breathed in exhaustion. "Nothing could have been this fun."
Pete tugged at his cyan and green shirt. "Um, sorry to rain on your parade, Felix, but you might not have thought this through? We don't exactly have time for showers before the next, and best, thing tonight."
Felix grinned. "I think everything through, Lattimer. Everyone hold on to anything you don't want to lose!" He whipped the cover off the strange object to reveal a blank canvas, which apparently had some specific powers. All of the paint in the area flew off clothing, out of the dirt and from the ceiling and entered the empty square. The group could feel their clothes being tugged by small particles of pigment being drawn with impossible force from them. For a brief moment the canvas took on a rainbow of color, then it quickly faded.
Felix draped the cloth back over the artifact. Everyone looked down at their now spotless clothes. "And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you can sell a blank square for millions to the right rich idiot."
Looking to Juan, Tyler nodded, "Great minds think alike I see." Looking back over to Pete, "What do you mean, 'the best part'?"
Pete beamed. "You guys like Team Fortress 2, right?"
"What about it?" Aden asked, crossing his arms.
Pete looked to Felix, who continued. "Well..." he began, "I've been working on a way to modify the BRAID, to use it without the need of Beatrix Potter's Tea Set. I was successful."
"Anyone up for a few waves in the Pete Cave?" Pete asked, grinning widely.
Blaine put his hand up. "Hang on, Fargo had some of the best at GD working on that thing and he couldn't get it going. How did you manage to do it?"
Felix looked a little sheepish. "I, er, found some tech in the shelves from GD. A kind of AR system made by some guys called the 'Consultium' or something..."
"Wait," Blaine cut in. "You found the Consortium Artificial World Matrix? That's Top Secret, stored in a vault that even me or Claude can't get into!"
"Like I said, I "found" some tech in the "shelves" while looking for...things." Felix made the appropriate finger quotes to further his point. "Look, it doesn't matter. I integrated the technologies, don't ask how, it was mostly luck, and managed to combine the virtual interface of the BRAID with the AR perfection of the program to make the ultimate in VR gaming. Side effects include nausea, headaches and mild seizures in epileptics. Who's in?"
Pete's hand shot up. "I call Heavy!"
Felix joined him. "Spy!"
"And I've got Scout." Aden concluded. "Everyone else, place your bids."
In the end Steve got Sniper, Matt was the Soldier, Tyler had Medic, Blaine Engineer and Juan grabbed the role of Demoman. The Pyro, it seemed, would be AI and so would the opposing team.
Tyler was still adjusting to the German accent as he flexed the Bonesaw, "Ach, so iz thiz Red un Blue or Mann vs Machine?"
"Red versus Blue," Felix called in a French accent flipping his switchblade between his fingers, "Capture ze flag. Our goal is ze orange briefcase in their base."
"Right." Pete's heavy Russian accent came through, "I take groom medic to clear way with Shasha." He said shaking his minigun.
The Pyro, standing off to the side slightly separated from the other player-controlled characters made a wheezing sound, not unlike that of Darth Vader's breathing, and nodded, brandishing his flamethrower.
"Good," Steve said in his new Australian accent. "We all set for the game to begin?"
A multitude of accents and raised weapons were raised in agreement as the stern female voice counted down, "Three...Two....One....Begin."
Rushing out, Tyler stayed right behind Pete, the Medi-gun aimed squarely on his back as Felix bounded past them. Blaine stayed behind as he started to construct a teleporter entrance before heading out to find good positions for sentries.
Matt and the Pyro took off on a different route, ready to destroy anything in their path.
Aden, with a mildly apprehensive look on his face as he gave his bat a quick twirl, scouted out for enemies.
Turns out, the players were pretty evenly matched to their AI counterparts. Some of them died, some didn't. But Tyler had his hands full as the Medic, to say the least. But they all had a blast. Pete even went Uber.
After a long, long session, the game ended, and the agents were disconnected from the BRAID.
"I've gotta say, guys, this night was amazing. And questioningly legal." Tyler shot Blaine and Felix a look.
"And you need to get some sleep, buddy." Pete draped an arm over his shoulder and steered him towards the door. "Big day tomorrow. She'll kill all of us if you sleep in. And I plan on living a few more years, at least."
Felix finally made it back to his quarters, having stayed behind to clear up the BRAID so as not to attract attention. He flopped on his sofa and pulled up a laptop when a voice from his room got his attention.
"How was the big night? Tyler have fun?"
"Yeah. Saw your data memory in the BRAID system though. You ended up being the Pyro, so I don't think anyone else noticed."
"On that subject...It's been a few days now. I know I've only been awake since yesterday, but when do you think it'll be ok for the others to know?"
"I'll break it to them gently. I don't want a panic and I really don't want to find out what the Regents do with people who broke the rules like I did."
"...can I be at the wedding?"
Felix looked up at the person who had been resting in his bed for the last few days. He'd only woken up the day before, and had taken a lot of time to adjust to his situation. In fact, this was the most they'd talked in...months. "You'll have to leave the watch here. I know foxes aren't exactly local, but it was really the only choice I had. You seemed...fond of them" Felix gave a coy smirk.
"I understand. I just don't want to miss this. And I'm going to need to go out sooner or later."
"You'll have to play my pet. I know it's not exactly ideal, and believe me, it's awkward for both of us. But it's the only way to avoid raising suspicion."
"Don't worry, I don't mind in the slightest." The young teen tried to get out of the bed, but collapsed.
"You're still not strong enough to wander around yet!" Felix rushed to him and picked him up, helping him into the bed.
Garrett smirked at him. "I knew that." He leaned forward and kissed Felix on the lips. Felix looked startled for a second, and didn't move until Garrett pulled away, still smiling, and rolled onto the duvet. Still exhausted, he fell asleep almost instantly.
Felix's lips turned to a smile and he made his way back to the sofa he'd been sleeping on. "You cheeky little fox." he murmured to the sleeping, newly alive agent.