"I'm not doing this"
"Well, I lied"
"Come on! It's not that bad!"
"It is, and you know it!"
Moonsox, Bianca's pet familiar and the team's 'unofficial' mascot, looked gingerly in the mirror. It's not that he hated being the team's mascot, because it apparently involved being pampered by the female members of the team. It was because he had to wear a stupid costume as part of some marketing agreement.
Cats like him didn't need a costume.
It looked ridiculous.
For starters, the hood. Who was the genius who came up with hoods for cats? On that note, why do cats NEED hoods? And then there was the cape. The most pointless part of this get up. This seemed to offer no explanation.
"You look great!"
"I look like an idiot!"
"You don't. You look fine!"
"I'd rather be tied in a bag and drowned in a river"
"Don't be like that!" Just then, they heard someone approach.
"Quiet, here they come."
A few moments later, Turbo Jade and Windy entered the common area.
"Hey Bea, everyone's ready. Are you…" she then saw Moonsox, and brought her hands to her cheeks.
"Oh! He looks so adorable!" said Windy as she scooped the cat up.
"He looks so CUTE" said Jade as she tried to take a picture with her phone.
"Wait till the Clean Team sees this! I'll bet Wowser's going to be so jealous!"
Wowser? Thought Moonsox.
"Incidently, does he have a problem with dogs?"
"Not really, I hope Wowser doesn't have a problem with him."
"He shouldn't . He's pretty good with other pets."
Wait! This 'Wowser' is a DOG? Thought Moonsox, turning wide eyed with astonishment.
"Oh you two are going to have so much FUN!" said Windy as she brought the poor cat closer to her face.
They're teaming me with a DOG?
It had only been a month since his mistress Bianca was assigned and accepted into the In Crowd, one of the city's inner city super youth leagues sponsored by the Citadel. Indeed, it had only been a year since she started this crime fighting nonsense.
Shortly after her soul mate Deidre was killed by some street thugs.
Oh how she wept! After informing Mistress Sylene, her mentor and Deidre's mother, she was able to enlist the help of her circle, and from the various factions that was the Council of the Night. With their combined help, they searched out, located, and exacted their vengeance on those bastards.
Yet she felt it was not enough.
Although Deidre was avenged, she felt helpless and empty. The ones who killed her had been stopped, but they were part of a larger citywide gang who plagued the neighborhoods with their narcotics trades, violence and fear. She cured the disease, but the sickness remained.
It was then that she closely followed the city's superhero community. Bianca, Deidre, and some of their friends would often follow their exploits religiously. Here were individuals with powers and abilities almost not unlike those of the Night, except they chose NOT to hide. Even if their full identities were unknown, their public exploits were accepted and respected by the world at large.
And they seemed to make a difference.
At first, she started small, sticking to her neighborhood. She would use her magic to do things like stop robberies, chase off drug dealers, and the sort. After a while she got bolder, by taking on larger groups in neighboring areas, even risking being seen by outsiders.
It was one of these exposures that got her noticed by the In Crowd, a local super team. She had assisted two of their members, Neuron and Howler, when they were confronting a gang that was terrorizing a small neighborhood.
The same ones responsible for Deidre's death.
This group were aided by a powerful rouge meta, usually called 'Balrog's' by the superhuman community. He was about to finish off one of the supers when Bianca stepped into the fray. She overpowered them all with her magic. After the authorities and the rest of the In Crowd arrived to assist, the grateful heroes offered to sponsor her for membership.
There was concern about magic being the source of her powers. Most groups in the city were wary of magic and the supernatural, but the team pushed for, and were granted, the right to sponsor her through the Citadel, the city's premiere superteam.
Mistress Sylene, however, vehemently opposed her going public, threatening everything from banishment from her circle to persecution from the Night Council.
However, both were surprised when the council APPROVED of her actions. Something Moonsox found deeply suspicious.
Despite his objections, living at their headquarters wasn't TOO bad. The team members were friendly (the ladies in particular), it had a lot of places to explore, and a mouse problem they didn't know about. What more could a cat want?
And she was happy.
Happy to finally cope with Deidre's death, to belong, and to have true purpose in her life. And in a way, he was content as well.
Unfortunately it also meant he had to dress up like an idiot.
With a DOG no less!
"You said nothing about a dog!" whispered the cat while they were being transported to the site.
"You didn't ask." She whispered. "Quiet. We're almost there.
The upcoming shoot revolved around the grand opening of a pet supply box store, called 'Pet Palace'. Since the In Crowd made him their mascot, everyone thought Moonsox would be perfect for the shoot. Moonsox himself wasn't too thrilled with the whole thing, but apparently he had no say in the matter.
The Clean Team were there when they arrived. Five members who promoted an anti drug, pro abstinence, clean living, lifestyle, or as the In Crowd saw it, were total pricks. It wasn't that they were arrogant, or rude, they were actually quite friendly. ANNOYINGLY friendly.
The team consisted of Piper, the team leader, who worked with community groups in the city, Centurion, a burly type who was active in city sports leagues, Hope, who did volunteer work at hospitals and teen rehab centers, Sunshine, a religious type who had the annoying tendency to be persistently happy, and Wire, a young republican type, who was considered to be the most annoying of the bunch.
"Hi guys!" said Sunshine, in an unusually perky tone, even for her. Mr. Morton is getting everything ready and…" it was then that she noticed Moonsox. "Ooooh! Is this your mascot? He looks so CUUUUUTE!"
Idiot! Thought Moonsox.
"Um, He doesn't like to be held by… strangers." Interjected Bianca.
"Oh, you must be Bianca. I heard all about you." She replied, with a marked decrease in her perkiness.
"Yes, I've followed you and your teams exploits. I hope we have a chance to work together…"
"Of course! Perhaps after the shoot we can, um, get together and um… well…" she continued nervously.
"Is something wrong?"
"Nothing. It's just that I never met an actual, err, you know…"
After a few awkwardly silent seconds, Bianca finished Sunshine's sentence. "A witch?" she said in a calm tone.
"Yyyyes. That." After a few more awkward seconds, she continued. "So. Um…"
"I won't bite." She smiled.
Secretly, Bianca suspected something like this would happen. She knew that most supers were reluctant to work with those who used magic, particularly the religious types. While Sunshine APPEARED polite, she was clearly uncomfortable with this teamup.
"Um, Bianca. Why don't we introduce your friend to Wowser!" said Piper, who just arrived.
At that, Centurion brought Wowser, a great dane with a persistent smile. Moonsox looked at the dane while the group snapped pictures. The dog, dressed in a bright hood and body suit, looked, according to the cat, like a complete moron.
"They look so cute together!"
"Herofanz is really gonna go crazy over this!"
"I can see it now! The Power Pets!"
Someone kill me. Thought Moonsox.
"Okay everyone we're ready for the shoot." Said Frank Morton, the organizer of the commercial shoot. "Just follow me."
Mr. Morton brought Bianca and her cat to the store entrance. "Okay, we would like the little fellow to walk around the aisles, particularly the cat section. This camera drone will follow him around, so we could get some good shots. He's not afraid of drones, is he?"
"He shouldn't be. Very little distracts him."
"Okay, just so he follows it properly, we'll tie this cat toy to the drone." He demonstrated by activating the drone, making the toy, attached to a thin string, appear to move on its own.
He reached for MoonSox. At this, the cat hissed, setting him back.
"He… doesn't like being grabbed like that." Explained Bianca. "Maybe I should…"
"Um… That's okay. If you could bring him in and have him walk around, that would be fine."
"Very Well." They then followed him into the store.
"So all I have to do is walk around. I can do that." Said Moonsox.
"Just behave!" whispered Bianca
"Don't I always?" he said sassily.
She gave him a light kick, and walked away. He stuck out his tounge. I hope the cameras didn't catch that, he thought.
He then started to walk, examining these surroundings. This store didn't seem any different from Big Buy, Mal Mart, or any other of those big box stores, although this one was obviously geared towards pets. He walked by aisles dedicated to gerbils, birds, and (ugh) dogs, searching desperately for the aisle dedicated to his species, namely him.
He found it, and was less than impressed.
For starters, the food portion. Mainly canned stuff, with shelves dedicated to 'healthy', environmentally friendly food selections. Just the stuff that would make him throw up. Give me a nice juicy mouse any day, he thought.
The next portion was devoted to kitty litter, flea collars, cleaning products, and other crap. Nothing to see here.
The following area was… interesting. There were cat palaces, toys, scratching posts, and other things of interest. Things he could go for. Maybe he was wrong about this!
He then passed a display dedicated to a specialty brand of pet products, by a so called 'cat expert', who displayed himself along with his cats in the display. If that wasn't weird enough, some pictures showed him USING said products, including drinking from a cat bowl! Even HE found that repulsive! And apparently so did the cat in the selfsame picture!
Nauseated, he walked away. After a few moments, he looked up… and was astonished!
He quickly rushed to the back wall, and lifted his paws on the side of the nearest fish tank. There they were. Literally HUNDREDS of delicious goldfish! All for him!
He was in heaven!
"Okay little fella, we're all set!"
Moonsox turned and hissed as Frank tried to pick him up. The nerve of him!
"Lets go!" said Bianca, who was close behind him. She immediately scooped him up.
As they all head toward the exit, Moonsox was dumfounded. All those fish! Just swimming there! They were MEANT to be his!
Next up was Wowser. Piper and Sunshine brought him in with a leash.
"Okay, if you can just take off the leash, we can get started."
"Okay here we go… WOWSER! NO! WAIT!"
As soon as the leash was off, Wowser dashed through the store. Not knowing, or caring, he knocked over the nearest display. Noticing the pet toy on the drone, he leaped up to grab it, bringing the toy and the drone crashing down on a nearby aisle. As this happened, the drone sped out of control, crashing into another aisle, terrifying the poor dog, causing him to knock over other displays. The Clean Team rushed in, trying to control their mascot, to no avail. Centurion tried to grab him, but he squirmed through his hands like a greased up pig. He dashed head first into Piper, knocking him into an aisle of gourmet cat food. It was then, the sprinkler system activated.
It was total chaos.
Fifteen minutes later, the fire department arrived, taking control of the situation. However, the store interior was a disaster area. Outside, the Clean Team, all wet, gathered nearby with their mascot, who was smiling like an idiot, as if he had already forgotten the whole thing (which he had). Piper, who nearly suffered a concussion, was being looked over by an EMT. Mr. Morton had his face buried in his hands, while representatives of the store chain were arguing with him over responsibility of this fiasco. The In-Crowd, while unharmed, stuck around, waiting to be dismissed. After a few minutes of this, Moonsox whispered to Bianca.
"Well, it looks like they wont be needing those fish!" and headed back in the store.