Titans: Squirrel Hunt

July 22, 2016:

The Titans look for a missing employee and find that things are squirrelly.

New Troy

"1930's architecture stretched like a rubber band."

New Troy is the largest borough in Metropolis and is where all of the main city life seems to be established as well as take place. Here is where you will find skyscrapers that reach the heavens and commerce that spreads as far as the next business that picks up.

The heartbeat, lifeblood, and veins of The Big Apricot.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Titans have employees. One of those employees (the merch guy, he's kinda new) went missing yesterday, and the family finally told his boss today. She checked on some things, and couldn't get in touch with him, and told the Titans about it. Gar Logan's "vil-sense" began itching, as in, the sensation you get when someone is setting up a sniper rifle for the square of your back, metaphorically or in real life (except that in real life, short-term precognitive dermatitis is a Spider-Man specialty.)

The guy's family lives in New Troy, so that's where they decided to start looking: With the family. In disguise of course. Gar asked Vorpal to make them all look less Blatant. He's trusting that he won't end up with illusionary warts.

The O'Nellies are at home, and terribly worried. Joe O'Nellie was last seen entering his room two days ago (it's not in the basement, it's over the garage.) The door is locked, but it has a window in it and they can see in and he's not visibly dead-in-his-room so he MUST have gone out. Mrs. O'Nellie accepts the personal cards with a skeptical expression.

"You don't look like Beast Boy to me."

-

"That's the point," Keith says, looking like your standard surfer dude- messy blond hair, clothes that scream he'd rather be at the beach right now, with everybody else. "We're in disguise. We happen to be very good at disguising ourselves, m'am," the cat-in-disguise says.

-

Bunker stands to the side and waves at the O'Nellie's. "Hola," he says, looking similar but different to his normal unconstumed self - lean and dark but missing the scruff on his chin, dressed in more conservative clothes than Miguel is normally seen in - just a plain T-shirt and jeans, with some off-the-shelf running shoes.

-

Also blond and tanned, but dressed in a red polo shirt and white slacks (It's Summer, It's Allowed!) Gar shrugs, and his head momentarily turns into that of a collie dog, before reverting back.

"Disguise. Can you tell us why you think Joe's missing? Couldn't he have gone on a four-day holiday?"

"Oh, no," the woman says. "Here, come inside and have a cuppa. I'm Florence O'Nellie, you can call me Flo. My husband Beauregard is doing his greeter thing at the Wall Merch."

She leads the Titans In Disguise into a kitchen that seems to be from 1950: the linoleum, the odd short refrigerator, the kitchen table and chairs that are just slightly futuristic but not in a way that actually happened. She puts a kettle on the gas-burner stove and starts it heating. A cat stares through the door, shrugs, and stomps back to the bedroom.

"I'm Gar, the other blond guy is Keef, and that's Bunker," Changeling says. "So. Why he's missing?"

"Well. The Jays .. that'd be Bee and Orville, he goes by O, like in O. Jays? Well they wanted Joe to watch their month-old twins so they could have a few hours to, ya know, wind down? And the Baby Jays's are perfect little darlings, no crying or anything. So Joe didn't show up and they called after an hour and I went over instead, but I'm not giving the money to Joe if he doesn't have a good excuse."

There's a whistle - she started with hot water apparently - and she removes the pot and pours steaming water over tea-bags in three of those green-frosted glass coffee cups like you could get for green stamps in whatever time period furnished this kitchen.

"OK, can we look at his room then?" Gar says as he accepts the cup. Red Rose. Fresh. Huh.

-

Keef…Keith nods, "Yes, it's very important for us to gather jinkies." He's getting in proper character. "We won't disturb anything. Much."

-

'Flo and Beau?' Bunker mouths to Keef, eyebrow slightly raised once he takes in the decor. In fact he does a slow turn, taking in the primeval kitchen and… teabags. Still, he takes the proferred cup and sips at it, rolls it around over his tongue.

-

"It's right through here," she says, "Oh, you can leave the tea cups right there on the coasters, ya know, the stairs in the garage are a smidge steep, wouldn't want you to spill hot tea on yourselfs."

Gar nods, placing his mug on top of a white carnival-glass coaster on the table, and follows Flo O'Nellie out to the attached garage, which opens out to the alley rather than the front. This isn't a snout house!

Flo leads them up a flight of stairs that aren't likely to any code, and at the top of the stairway the garage (which is two storeys, like the house itself) has a floored-in area that was added after the place was built. The door to Joe's room is a half-glass-panel door salvaged from an office, and it has Joe's name painted on it in neat white letters.

"Locked?" Gar says, twisting. "Yep. OK, I'm going in, I'll be right back."

He vanishes. Well, to Vorpal he might not vanish; he's just turned into a wolf spider and dashed under the door before Flo could notice and smash him.

Inside the room, as can be clearly seen with a flashlight, there isn't a dead body. There's a box holding one slice of pizza that may have been intended as lunch. There's a computer, a rather nice one, in sleep mode. There is astonishingly little in the way of bachelor clutter. Gar returns to human, flips on the light, and uses a pencil from his pocket to press down the lever-style door handle.

"Don't touch the door handle, we should check it for prints," he says as he lets the others come in. A certain Robin might be incensed by this, as they're certainly wrecking any evidence that MIGHT be here. Or maybe not.

-

Keith steps carefully, keeping his eyes around the room to try and take in any hints. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a hankerchief as he walks over to the computer. Wrapping his hand in the kerchief, he gently nudges the mouse to bring the computer out of sleep mode. "I wonder if this might have some indication…"

-

Bunker has either been hanging around Robin some or just watching too much CSI - he enters with an exageratted care not to disturb anything. He Looks around, and then crosses to the windows, if any, to check them out. Failing that, he takes a look a the bookshelves and desk, to see what the man was working on.

-

Mrs. O'Nellie stands outside the room. She also seems to have watched too much CSI, or perhaps Joe has made it clear that if she came into his room without his permission he would start doing the same to her. Adult children renting from parents do have some autonomy sometimes.

The computer wakes. Joe has password-protected his lock screen, of course. But there's a brick of yellow-sticky-notes that has "G.D. at 3 GB at 7" scrawled on the top sheet, which has been removed and replaced at a slight off angle. Gar shrugs, and turns into a bloodhound. A brown one. Because the illusion is that good.

"Whuff whuffffff" Gar says, "OK, I got his scent, and another guy, and a rat or squirrel." He walks to the bed and stands up as a human. There's a somewhat disturbing fur loincloth that looks like it's part of an in-progress CosPlay.

"Did he say anything about a convention coming up?"

"Oh, yeah, he's going to one of those comic book things soon. But not this weekend."

-

Keith frowns. "If Robs were here, he'd be able to crack this." He thinks for a moment. Does he dare to use his Chaos Wave to attempt to control the computer? That would probably be terrible.

"Okay, that's a bit of a dead end… what do you have?" the cheshire cat asks Gar and Bunker, frowning.

-

Bunker hmms as he hears this, and checks out the windows. "Doesn't look like he's been going in and out this way," he says. He looks briefly a the con schedule by the nightstand, then walks back over to the computer. "Maybe the password is his favorite hero; any indication as to who he was going as?" He looks back to the loincloth. "Ka-Zar, maybe?"

-

Mrs. O'Nellie … Flo … chokes a bit at hearing that. "Oh dear. I overheard him talking to that Daniels boy about needing to find some material to make a tail with. I think he's going to dress as his favorite superheroine. Squirrel Girl. But the boy version. Godfrey called it "Rule 35" or something like that?"

"Right," Gar says. "Well, we should go speak with his friend Godfrey. He said that he hadn't seen Joe?"

"Yes, he said he didn't show up for their group meet-up for that remake movie with the women instead of the men?" She seems a bit confused for a moment, as if that doesn't make sense entirely. "Why would they do such a thing anyway?"

She retreats back to the kitchen, and Gar leaves the door slightly ajar, light off. On the way down, Gar says quietly, "Godfrey smelled like pot and something else I hope I'm wrong about."

-

"And what was that?" Keith asks. He has to ask, since his sense of smell is nowhere near as sharp as Gar's due to Origin Story reasons. "This Godfrey…" the cat whispers furtively, "When we visit, want me to be… not visible?" Codeword for: do you want me to poke around while you distract him?

-

Miguel frowns as he looks around and follows. "You said you smelled squirrel, like, real squirrel?" He looks up at Gar. "And what else did you smell?"

-

"Might be. Let's finish our tea and get directions," Gar says. "I'll tell you the rest on the way over."

Flo tries to interest the titans in her special buttercream cookies, which are basically flour, sugar, and butter with vanilla and more butter. It's a few minutes before they can extract themselves with the directions to the Daniels' home, which (as far as Flo knows) is where Godfrey still lives. Once safely outside they can walk down the pleasantly safe New Troy neighborhood, and Gar can answer questions.

"Yeah, his costume was a real squirrel skin, not fake fur. Weird huh?" He waits as they pass a man mowing his lawn.

"The other guy, who I am assuming is Godfrey, smelled like cannabis smoke and," lowered voice, "MGH. The stuff we had trouble with in New York a year or so back, the stuff that let people get fake mutant powers but the dosage kept going up and up to keep 'em? I learned the scent from when I was helping track down a pusher."

-

"… that is bad." Vorpal frown and gets a determined look on his face. "Ok… so I go invisible and poke around why the two of you distract him. Sounds like an idea?"

-

Bunker scratches his now-invisible chin scruff and hmmms. "Where would you get that much squirrel skin..?" he mutters. The news about the MGH makes him pause. "You think he's trying to get actual superpowers from Godfrey?" He nods to Keith. "Sounds good to me, at least.

-

"I can't say. They were both pretty pungent," Gar notes. He says nothing about smelling … other things … that show up in the aromasphere around young men at times. But he does wonder about why presumed-Godfrey smelled so much more like testosterone-flop-sweat than he should've.

"Yeah, we should do the invisible thing. Keep a hand on my back if you're following close so I don't accidentally turn into a moose and step on you."

Accidental moosage. It could happen.

They arrive at the home of Gertha Daniels. The late George (according to Flo) had been killed running a stoplight on one of those hover-board things last year. Or was it a Segway ten years ago. She couldn't remember for sure. Something like that though.

"I told you, I'm not interested in the Book of Mo…" the suicide-brunette woman at the door stops, putting the bucket of soapy cleaning water down. "You're not wearing a white shirt with an Elder nametag. You must just be normal visitors," she says. "So. What can I do for you?"

She seems a bit more inclined to talk now that there's no risk of religious fervor.

"I'm Gar Logan, Changeling of the Titans. Pardon my not being green," and he turns partly collie again to prove his credentials.

"We're investigating the disappearance of Joe O'Nellie, and your son Godfrey may have been the last one to see him?"

"Oh, well, you're four months too late to meet him here. He went off to live with some of his friends after he graduated."

"Oh. Could you give us directions, or maybe a phone number?"

She pauses, and scribbles a phone number on a post-it note. (Pink. This one is hot pink.)

"Thanks!" Gar says and as they are about to leave, three earnest young men on bicycles pedal past, looking piously in their direction, but also not going up to Mrs. Daniels' door.

-

"This is turning into a wild goose chase," the invisible young man says, his hand on Gar's back.

And then, of course, an invisible goose. Because a goose for a moose is par for the course, of course. "Do you want me to open a hole? I can't wait to get to the bottom of this mystery."

If so allowed, he will open a Rabbit Hole to the address.

-

Bunker looks over his shoulder as they leave. "This whole area is… man, they are not kidding when they say Metropolis is different…" he says, doing a complete turn-around as he looks. "Yeah, we might as well go right to the source.."

-

It is a bit Pleasantville, albeit greener.

"NF! No shenanigans, you," Gar growls, even though he's no longer collie-ing. "Also yeah, I smelled his scent from that house, so it's the same guy. Let's make a long journey short."

The rabbit hole takes them to a place on the EDGE of New Troy, where things aren't as nice. Yards have weeds in places. Some of them are unmown. The smell of cooking (but not baking) wafts in the air along with the smell of Burning Herbs. The house is down a flag-lot past a scrupulously clean, extremely fenced in home, with growling dog. (Gar tells it to be quiet, in Dog, and it makes grumbling noises as it follows them on the other side of the fence to the end of its reach. The shared home is not well kept. There is … stuff … in the asphalt yard. Unidentifiable stuff that may have been there for years. The door looks like it's been repaired. The burning herb smell comes from inside.

"Yo! G.D. live here?" Gar demands, knocking the door open because it isn't locked. The red eyed stares are followed by shrugs.

"In his room, man."

"Which one is that?"

"Down the hall. It's the one that isn't the shitter."

"Thanks," Gar says, and heads that way. Apparently the unflattering noun is too correct. Vorpal is lucky in having a blunted sense of smell.

"Goooodfreeeey," Gar says. "Someone to SEEE youuuuu."

The multi-colored dreads around the face that appears when the door opens don't look like they're well maintained.

"Who the fu.."

"Gar Logan," Gar says. "Changeling. Your boyfriend's indirect boss."

They're invited in quickly.

"You can find him? Hey how'd you know…?"

Gar shakes his head. "I know."

It's obvious that Godfrey "Lifts" — he's got the stretch marks and acne of a young man in search of a shortcut to Jersey Shore Greatness.

-

The cat's attention focuses on the refrigerator, as he walks around invisible. He walks up to it and sniffs… though it's probably good that he can't truly smell much here. He waits for the propitious moment to try and open it without anyone noticing. Just enough to look into it and, if needed, extract something. Curiosity and cats, after all.

-

Bunker tries not to cough and gag in the fetid and smokey atmosphere, and makes a strangled sound in the back of his throat as they walk down the corridor. When Gar calls out, the youth concentrates on his power just in case, ready to form up a brick wall or battering ram at a moment's notice.

-

Gar has Godfrey's attention. His room is a bit cramped, but with Bunker at the door, Gar gets Godfrey to move inside, and he sits across from the wanna-be-wall on the part of the bed that has blankets. Godfrey is looking at Gar and not at the rest of the room. This gives the others a clear view of the "bacne" that is the hallmark of REALLY using too many steriods at once.

Gar glances around and crosses his arms. The illusionary Gar is not green but still has the gymnastic build.

"You were the one who was sure Joe was vanished. Why?"

"Look, I'm sorry, I didn't know he was…"

"Yeah, just tell the truth, no making shit up."

Godfrey grabs a Vitamin Water off his desk. It's warm. He swigs some of it, and doesn't offer any to his guests.

"OK. So Joey and me wanted to move in together but he doesn't wanna live here, and I don't wanna live in Stepford Land. Joey still likes to do the comic book things. He wanted to dress up like that squirrel mutie, only the Rule 34."

Gar doesn't say anything at the "mutie" slur. He's saving it for the end.

"So he wanted to buff up a bit. I been using a real small amount of MG, s'called Pool, it's a fast-recovery thing. So I been growin' pretty fast, he may have taken a full bottle all at once. He got it off Sandra-Jane, she's got a effed-up supplier."

"Why do you think that?"

"Cause last time I saw him he was all hairy and the size of a house. Like his shoulders were bumpin' the rain gutters next door."

-

Vorpal's mouth opens- and he is about to berate Godfrey… but then he realizes that would blow his cover. So he stays silent, and snoops. He does give Godfrey one hell of a glower.

-

Bunker facepalms. "Aw crap. He's a giant were-squirrel…" Miguel moans. "Where is he now? I mean, he obviously isn't around his home because the National Guard isn't there. So where's the last time you saw him?"

-

"I just said. Out there bumpin' gutters with the house in front," G.D. says. "You can find him, right?"

"Where's Sandra-Jane? I need to know what he took," Gar says, not promising a damn thing.

(She's not here, of course. Otherwise the losers out front wouldn't be stoned on her merch.)

-

Immediately on that cue, Vorpal pads quietly on a mission to find Sandra-Jane's room. It shouldn't be too hard, right? He gives Gar a gentle touch with his hand and then walks off, to give him the signal that he's moving.

-

Bunker shakes his head, and he has to get out of here anyway, so he makes a b-line for the door and then floats up on a platform of psionic purple bricks, looking for a giant squirrel. How hard could that be?

-

Gar rubs his eyes. "Were. Squirrel. Giant were squirrel."

The stoners watch with vague interest as the door into the shared room opens by itself and begins ransacking itself. There's clearly a pre-ransacked stash. There's a small notebook at the bottom. It contains (in unusually good handwriting even if it has flower petals over the i's) a list of each drug — ok, so it's in a code, but Sandra-Jane isn't too smart so the key is on a green sticky-note — and the one that's missing from the cooler box is marked "Proteus". It lasts two days per dose. It was sold for $240 to J.O. The advisory notes give the dose warnings and say 'stoned and sleepy 20 hours' and a bottle has 30 doses in it, but given the circumstances it's probably clear that he didn't read the notes.

MEANWHILE, from above, there's a moderately obvious trail of destruction. There is a nearby riverbed and a green strip around it, and Giant Weresquirrel Sign (footprints etc.) leading to it. From a distance, there are brambles and bushes and piles of brownn hay and undergrowth everywhere.

-

Now Keith really wants to let them have it, after reading the ntoes. But what's important is to let Gar know-

And let him the cat does, running back to him and whispering it quietly into an ear. And, obviously, with the conclusion that they need to join Bunker and hope that they're not too late. Vorpal wasn't entirely sure if Weresquirrels were as bad as werewolves, but in any case… an enormous squirrel walking around? Bad idea. Just totally bad idea.

-

Bunker follows the trail, swooping low on his flying platform, scanning the ground to see if he can find where the man/squirrel has gone to hide. Looking at the undergrowth, he summons up two large scoops made from bricks, their ends blocky-jagged like a backhoe, and he begins to push aside the brambles and bushes. "Heeeere squirrell," he calls.

-

Haystack. On a river bank. Clearly not a beaver dam. No, not at all the usual thing. Especially when it snores. But then, Bunker pokes it in the backside with a brick scoop and it mumbles, in a somewhat carrying voice, "God, not now, I got a killer hangover. Let me sleep."

Back in the house, Gar looks at the wanna-be-jock and raises an eyebrow.

"You coming?"

He doesn't wait to see whether or not he is — he can sort of smell it because really, NOBODY bathes in The Shitter. And yeah, as Changeling and Vorpal run off in the direction that says "Bunker's Comm is that-a-way" G.D. can be seen chuffing along behind, muttering about how cardio sucks.

-

And at this point, Keith puts a hand over his mouth as he becomes visible. "Oh my god… that smells like Kid Flash's running shoes!" it has to be a truly potent smell in order to affect the Cheshire cat. For a moment he looks green, but then he seems to realize that his husband is the one who has a rightful claim to that color and promptly pinkifies himself once more.

"Dear god, I hope he doesn't go violent. If I have to fight anyone in this stench, I might just throw up on them…"

-

Bunker carefully pulls back his bricks and settles down closer to the ground as he sees his teammates run up. "Nah, he's asleep. Maybe we should just leave him there until this stuff wears off and he goes back to normal? I can put a pretty solid wall around him in case he gets frisky before that, though."

-

Gar stops short at the sight of a squirrel tail four yards long.

"Dude would win that contest," he says. G.D. makes his way up from behind, and stares as well.

Gar sighs, and turns into a squirrel himself. A green one. And runs along the giant furry back to sit on a branch in front of the wereSquirrel nose.

"HEY!!" he shouts, "STOP THAT!"

He jumps over to grab the oversized fellow by face fuzz and whisker.

"You're too damn big. Change back to yourself. Or you're fired."

The were-squirrel blinks in surprise and begins to shrink, slowly turning into a naked man. A somewhat familiar looking one, although frankly, Joe O'Nellie was shorter, not buff at all (more like a skinny dude with a beer belly) and his hair was shorter. Gar jumps off and changes back, wearing a jacket. He pulls it off and tosses it to Joe, now shirtless himself, and Joe looks confused until he realizes that three of his employers are seeing his junk, at which point he ties the jacket around to hide things.

"You better be at work on time Monday and with no extra squirrel bits," Gar says. "That drug can do really ugly things, you are so lucky."

G.D. runs forward and hugs his guy, who makes a face.

"God, showers are a thing man."

-

"Man, Gar…" Vorpal allows himself to appear his Cheshire self now, trying very hard not to facedesk. Trying very hard not too create a desk upon which to face. "… is this what I'm like when I make questionable decisions? Because, damn…" the cheshire cat just shakes his head, and then looks at Bunker. "… I want a drink after this."

-

Bunker waves his hand in front of his face. "All I want is a shower and a can of Febreeze.." he growls. "At least he's going to be OK."

-

"Give us a rabbit hole back to Joe's room, hon," Gar says. "You guys, Joe, talk to your mother. I'm sure she already knows you're gay. G.D., cut back on that shit, you smell like an ape died and your skin is pizza. Joe, I'm gonna need blood samples for the bio guys. This isn't gonna be covered by our health plan. And just HOPE that shit doesn't wear off wrong and leave you as a squirrel."

He shakes his head again. "Why do I have to be the responsible one?"

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