One Fox, Two Fox, Red Fox, Gray Fox
A crossover story for #AKAugust
There was an unusual amount of activity on the roof of the First Municipal Bank building. On top of the high-rise, a group of henchmen bustled about, following their leader’s orders to prepare for what promised to be a lucrative heist. Having completed their assigned task, a burley ox and a, decidedly less physically intimidating, raccoon paused to take in the view. The city lights blotted out the stars above, but their elevated position provided an excellent vantage point on the skyline of Malport.
The ox turned to his companion and commented, “Hey Mikey, I still don’t get what we’re doing here.”
Mikey glanced over at ox. “What do you mean, Jack? We’re robbing the bank!”
“No, I know that, but I still don’t get how.”
The raccoon was used to explaining things to his colleague, “Oh, well I don’t blame you there, this is one of the stranger jobs we’ve been on. The new boss is one of those ‘supers’. He can open holes into other dimensions or something like that. The way he tells it, there are all kinds of alternate realities out there; whole other worlds existing on top of each other. He found one that has a building right here where this one is and the same height too, but it’s not a bank, it’s just a hotel.”
Jack looked puzzled as Mikey continued, “So, here’s how the heist goes: The boss opens a portal here on the roof. We step through to get to the hotel roof and go down to the ballroom of the fourth floor. It’s the middle of the night, so no one will be in there. The boss opens another portal back to our world that will put us right in the bank vault. We load up as much as we can carry and go back through the portal to the hotel, up to the roof, then back to our world. No one will know we’ve been in the vault until they open it in the morning.”
Jack shook his head and said, “I’ll just follow you.”
“Sure, buddy. That’s fine.”
From across the roof, hidden amongst the HVAC equipment, the sandy-furred fox watched intently. She adjusted her binoculars to focus on a pair of henchmen that had stopped working. They started chatting and she moved her attention over to a technician who was prepping a set of jump jets. The fox tapped a button on her radio, “Azure, looks like they’re planning to use jump jets for a get-away. Probably how they got up here, too.”
The cat’s voice came back immediately with an excited tone, “Oh! Jump jet; short range rocket pack designed to replace parachutes. The whole system’s automated: It detects free-fall and self-orients for landing, then tracks the ground and gives a short burst of thrust to set you on your feet at a safe speed. A common modification to the pack will let you get a kick while on the ground to launch into the air for a super-jump, then land safely. You can hotwire them to give a continuous bur-”
“You can regale me with tech talk later. How many exits are we looking at from here?”
“Sorry Fey. Give me a sec.” After a minute of silence Azure’s voice came back on the comm, “Unless they modified fuel capacity, there’s only one rooftop in jump range. It’s the office building to the north. Of course, they could just bail off the roof and land on the street in any direction.”
“Got it, thanks. I’m guessing they’re going to go for the other roof.”
“You guess?” Azure was not used to hearing Fey be unsure about the future.
Fey cleared her throat and responded, “Didn’t have time after the last mission to get a good read on this one.”
Normally, Fey would spend hours or even days focusing her precognizant abilities on an upcoming mission to get every detail she could and would practice moments of combat or needed feats of acrobatics until she perfected the moves. Tonight was different. Fey had just come off a priority mission that had consumed her time and focus when she got a premonition that the bank was going to be robbed by a small-time supervillain that was known by the alias ‘Hat-Trick’. She spent what time she had focusing on the events and got a few details before it was time to mobilize. Fey was going to have to rely on her passive precognition to carry her through the evening. Even without focusing, her mind is always a few beats ahead, giving her uncanny reflexes.
Fey checked her gear. Her trusty quarterstaff leaned against a cooling tower close to hand. Her small sidearm was loaded, chambered and cocked. Fey hoped it would get to stay holstered as she thumbed the safety off. Given the choice, Fey would incapacitate rather than kill and worked hard on her skills to minimize the body count, but if she had to, she would not hesitate to draw. Clipped to her belt opposite the holster was a small container labeled, “OPEN IN EMERGENCY.” Fey regarded the unusual package with her pale gray eyes. In one of the few visions Fey had of the evening she had seen herself hand this off to another fox. Someone she had not yet met. Fey had prepared the package exactly the way she had seen it in her premonitions, though she had no idea yet why the mystery fox needed the contents. She turned her attention back to the villains’ activities and settled in to wait.
It wasn’t long before Fey saw Hat-Trick gather his henchmen and prepare to make his move. He was a lanky white-furred hare wearing a long dark cloak with intricate patterns embroidered along the edges and a black top hat. The hare made a series of overly dramatic gestures in the air before a swirling purple portal opened in front of him. The henchmen stepped back and looked uneasy. The leader stepped briskly through. His gang followed behind. Six of the henchmen each carried a large empty canvas sack for loot. The final henchman, big Jack the ox, carried two.
Once the last was gone, Fey stepped out from her hiding spot and radioed, “All right, they’ve made their move. You wouldn’t believe this guy. He really went all-in on the whole magician gimmick.
Anyway, wait ‘till I give the word to notify the authorities.”
The government did not look kindly on vigilante hero work. It wasn’t strictly illegal, but the Central Authority could easily make life difficult for the aspiring independent superhero. Fey intended to catch and incapacitate the would-be bank robbers and be long gone by the time the police arrived to collect them.
Meanwhile in another reality…
The human walked towards home down a dark street in Reynard City, enjoying the cool night air. The quiet walk was relaxing after a long day, surrounded by the familiar sights of the city at night; The sign for Hamilton’s Café, the imposing edifices of the Silverfox Towers, the glowing portal on top of the hotel, the windmills of Power Park-wait the what?! Her attention snapped to the portal.
“That’s new,” she said aloud to no one in particular. “Better check it out.” In a flash, the human girl transformed into a fox in black tights with a red “AK” emblazoned on her chest. AK Girl concentrated to shift her powers into “Speed Mode” and tore down the street like a rocket. At her core AK Girl is a psychic, however, she can channel her psychic powers to give herself one of several discreet enhancements or “modes”.
As AK Girl sped down the road she passed a familiar face that called out, “Vibes! Where are you off too?”
“Gotta go fight a portal. Later Sal!” AK Girl shouted back at her compatriot without breaking stride. She was sure she could handle this without help.
Quickly arriving at the hotel, AK Girl sped through the revolving door, and left it spinning in her wake. She bounded across the lobby to the stairwell and began her ascent to the roof, foregoing the elevator to save time. Little did she know that at that moment, the gang was headed down in the elevator to the fourth floor. She made it to the roof access door and found it locked. After slipping into “Strength Mode,” a simple kick sent the door flying off its hinges. “Whoops! A bit much there,” she thought to herself.
AK Girl stepped up to the portal. A swirling mist a purple emitting a dim glowing light stared back at her. Psychic Mode – She reached out with her psychic abilities to try to feel out what might be through it. She felt the presence of a being on the other side. She steeled herself and stepped through into the unknown and was at first disappointed. Nothing seemed to have happened. She was on the other side of the swirling purple mist, but still standing on the roof. Another fox stood a few meters in front of her. It wasn’t until she looked out at the skyline that AK Girl realized she wasn’t in Reynard City anymore.
Fey and AK Girl sized each other up. Fey had the markings and sandy-brown fur of a gray fox, while AK Girl possessed the bright orange fur of a red fox. AK Girl sported a shock of shoulder length auburn hair, while Fey’s long strawberry blonde hair was braided into a tight pony-tail. Both apparently shared an affinity for black. Fey noted that AK Girl was unarmed while AK Girl spotted the pistol holstered on Fey’s hip and the quarterstaff in her hands.
AK Girl pointed over her shoulder, “OK, so what’s with the portal?”
“Your aim sucks. You opened a portal to a hotel.” AK Girl adopted a fighting stance.
Fey cocked her head slightly, “Hmm? No, not me and we’re standing on the bank. Some supervillain and his thugs are slipping through your dimension to get access to the vault below us. At least that’s what I overheard. I’m here to catch them in the act. You want in? There’s plenty of thugs to go around…”
AK Girl paused to get a psychic read on Fey. She seemed to be telling the truth. “Sure, why not? I’m AK Girl by the way. My friends call me Vibes.”
“Fey. Here, take this…” Fey handed Vibes the small container.
“Open in emergency?” Vibes read questioningly.
“You’ll need it later.” Fey turned to look at the portal, “They’re coming. Quick, hide to draw them out!”
Fey dove behind a large exhaust fan. Vibes clipped the container to her belt and faded from view – Stealth Mode!
First through the portal were a pair of German shepherds with weapons drawn. Their eyes scanned across the roof, while their ears were primed to catch any sounds of trouble. Satisfied the police were not waiting for them, one went back to give the all clear. The rest of the gang filed out with Hat Trick in the rear. The henchmen had just finished piling their sacks of loot when AK Girl made the first move.
“If I pulled you out of a hat, I’d throw you back in,” she taunted as she clocked Hat-Trick in the back of the head while slipping out of stealth mode. He staggered forward and crashed into Mikey, who in turn shouted to Jack, “Hey! Take care of her will ya?”
The big ox lumbered forward towards AK Girl. “Sorry ‘bout this miss, but orders is orders.” He brought one of his huge fists down at Vibes’ head, but she raised a hand to meet it. Strength Mode – Jack’s fist stopped as if he punched a brick wall.
As soon as the action kicked off, Fey sprang up and vaulted over the exhaust fan she was hiding behind, hit the ground and tucked into a shoulder roll. As she came up, she whipped her staff out in three swift strikes; Thwack! Crack-Crack! The first caught one of the German shepherds behind the knee, dropping him to a kneeling position. The next two were to the head, taking him out of the fight.
Fey dipped her shoulder and spun just before the shot rang out from the other German Shepard’s pistol. The bullet sailed past harmlessly and thudded into the roof. Her reflexes had given Fey a reputation for being faster than a bullet, but this wasn’t the case. She was faster than the shooter. At close range, she had to move clear of the muzzle before the bullet left the gun and she had honed this skill until it was second nature.
Taking her staff by one end to give her an extra few feet of reach and increase tip speed, she swung it in a vicious arc that connected with the shooter’s gun hand, disarming him. Fey covered the several yards between them with liquid grace to finish off her second thug as the now unconscious form of Jack sailed through the air to land on top of Mikey. Hat-Trick leapt out of the way as the big ox landed prone. He made an undignified dash behind two henchmen that were retrieving a pair of light machine guns from a case stationed by the line of jump jets.
These were the kinds of details Fey normally probed for while preparing for a mission. Dodging that rate of fire was out of the question. Regardless, she stood her ground. Fey knew tonight was not her night to die. As Hat-Trick gleefully asked, “Any last words, heroes?” AK Girl stepped up beside Fey and said, “Yeah – Shield mode!”
The thugs unleashed a torrent of bullets that harmlessly bounced off the force field that AK Girl projected in front of Fey and herself. Several things then happened in rapid succession: The thugs’ magazines went empty. The remaining henchman, the technician, got behind Vibes and slapped a jump jet on her back. It automatically secured itself to her, he slapped the button on the shoulder and the hastily modified device began a continuous burn launching her into the air. AK Girl’s forcefield dropped and Fey launched herself into the fray, staff whipping around in a blur.
Vibes watched the roof rapidly recede below as she rocketed into the sky. She had to fight to catch her breath as she endured the long high-G burn. With a warning beep, the jump jet ran out of fuel. Her momentum carried her higher into the air until she hit the apex of her trajectory. From this height, she could no longer make out the combatants on the roof of the skyscraper so far below.
As Vibes hit a moment of weightlessness before beginning to fall, she began to get over the shock of her predicament and start working on a solution. “OK, options! What do I have to work with?”
The noise of rushing wind increased as she gained velocity on her plummeting journey back to the ground. Vibes looked down at the harness to see if there was any kind of fuel reserve to engage. There wasn’t, but she did spy something else, “OPEN IN EMERGENCY.”
“Well, let’s see what we’ve got,” she thought as she popped the case open. She almost reflexively tossed the case away when she saw what was inside: A large, shiny cube of caramel. Caramel was the substance of her weakness. Mere contact was enough to trigger the side effects. “Oh, brilliant.” she thought darkly, “What is this, some sick joke at my expense? Was this whole thing some ruse to get me killed? At least, while falling to my death, I can add insult to injury by blowing up… like… a… OH BRILLIANT!”
Vibes popped the confection into her mouth and swallowed. The effect was immediate. Her trim midsection began to round out and swell. The rest of her torso followed suit as she began to blow up like a balloon. The jump jet helpfully adjusted the harness to match her growing size. Her steadily increasing girth added to her air resistance and her acceleration downwards began to slow. Vibes’ limbs joined the party and distended as well. Every cubic centimeter of size gained lessened her density, adding to her buoyancy.
Now robbed of their mobility, Vibes’ limbs stuck out straight due to internal pressure. She could no longer see past the dome of her inflating torso, when she noticed a pinching sensation. The jump jet had hit the limits of its ability to adjust and was now holding steady as AK Girl swelled within. The harness began to dig deeply into her. Vibes began to worry that the added pressure may pop her before she got big enough to float, when the belts suddenly let go on an internal safety. With the loss of constraint, her body rapidly evened out and became nearly spherical. Her hands, feet, head and tail were the only blemishes on the round ball slowly descending towards the roof of the bank. Vibes drifted down with only the sound of the breeze and the creaking of her hide in her ears.
Vibes was now close enough to see the situation on the roof and her heart skipped a beat. Fey had mopped up the goons in her absence and had them securely tied, but the portal was closed.
“One thing at a time,” she thought as she began to focus – to regain control of her body. Perhaps it was due to her intentionally inducing the caramel inflation rather than having it forced upon her, or perhaps not, but her deflation was smooth and perfectly timed. She lost the bulk of her buoyancy less than a meter from the rooftop, landing lightly on her feet as her bloated form regained its athletic shape.
“So, caramel inflation powers?” Fey looked quizzically at Vibes.
“Weakness really, but it came in handy tonight.”
“Anyway, the ‘Trix Rabbit’ over here closed the portal. We’ll need to figure out a way to get you home.”
The gagged supervillain expressed his displeasure at the cereal mascot reference in muffled tones.
A solution occurred to AK Girl – Steal Mode! With a touch, Vibes temporarily absorbed Hat-Trick’s portal opening abilities. Focusing on Reynard city, she willed a new portal into being. The misty purple gateway cast a dull light on the roof.
“Well, so long Fey!”
Without another word, the fox stepped through the portal back to Reynard City.
The remaining fox selected a jump jet and checked its settings. Satisfied, she took a running leap off the roof. The jet fired a short burst that set her on a trajectory to land on the adjacent office building. As she sailed through the air, she radioed back on her comm “Okay Azure, go ahead and call the cops.”
Big thanks to Rev701 for this fantastic crossover short story for #AKAugust, as well as all the artists that have provided fanart, cosplay, writers (check out Van Hikari’s Psychic Vixen short story here) etc for us. There’s still time to get your #AKAugust stuff to us, either tag us in your Deviantart, Facebook, Twitter , Instagram, Youtube video etc or email email@example.com