The City's a Stage

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The City's a Stage

Postby Kusanagi » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:07 am

Inspired a bit by DTF's Click. I'm taking a little trip back to my Center Stage world. You can find the previous two stories here http://forums.macrophile.com/viewtopic.php?t=11131&start=0

and here http://forums.macrophile.com/viewtopic.php?t=12857

Don't feel their required reading though, this story like those two is meant to stand alone. This story however shall be just a bit longer.

So without further review, please read, review, and enjoy.
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Sometimes life refused to be easy. Now it wasn"™t like Jake didn"™t accept this, he was a mouse after all, and life was by default hard. Still he had worked hard, busted his ass and for the most part earned a life most mice in the city would kill for. He had a steady paycheck, sure it didn"™t sound like much, anyone who lived in the safety of under town had one, but for those to live in the city he lived on the highest, of high tiers in mouse society. For one he lived up here a week and hadn"™t died. An accomplishment in and of itself, then he obtained a job, one that didn"™t run the risks of being eaten no less, and three he obtained a home, and one that where he didn"™t have the fear of death looming over his shoulder constantly. Okay the old ferret would kill him and bake him into a pie if she could, but she was mostly blind so it was okay.

Indeed short of the under town this was the most he could ask for, and it was wrong to feel like he had been slighted in anyway by the hands of fate (well outside being born a mouse of course). Still it was moments like this where life just got him completely down.

The day had started normally of course, late awakening, followed by a few hours of taking the long way to work. Really the long way was the shortest way imaginable. Any mouse that was dumb enough to take the actual short way, only got to take it once. Then he arrived at the club, really it was one of the places where he was really alive, today though he was being called into to see the club owner, a thought that was a bit chilling.

Jake didn"™t have many friends, most mice don"™t. Old proverb said, mouse with many friends, attends many funeral. Of course he didn"™t have to worry about his current buddy. Kate, was a timber wolf. A towering mountain of power, from his perspective, or at least she would be if she weren"™t a drugged out wreaked. After the club had stumbled across him, they scrambled for scrambled for serviceable backup, at a reasonable price. What they found was Kate.

In all honesty she might just be Jake"™s best friend, which isn"™t all that surprising considering any other contenders live in a city where he can"™t afford to stay outside a fancy lunch, or had long since visited the digestive tracks of citizens larger than themselves. What was surprising, is that Kate considered Jake the closest thing to her best friend, though she"™d never admit the details as to why. The whole basis of their friendship was based on the fact that she declared upon their first meeting that "˜mice don"™t taste very good"™. Not even a definitive statement, but when the young mouse was starting out and had to constantly look over his shoulder, it was nice he didn"™t have to look in one direction.

This was probably why Kate was acting as his council, albeit his supremely useless council. He could have gotten a couple booster seats, and it would have served him just as well. For you see the owner of their little club, what had developed into Jake"™s little paradise, had lost his bloody mind, and expressed this madness to them directly.

"We"™d like to lend you out to some other clubs, a tour of sorts." The old lion said with a dismissive wave of his hand.

"Kate could you raise me up so I can look our employer in the face"¦Kate?"

The gray wolfess was passed out again, though she had the decency to buy those sunglasses he recommended, and wasn"™t snoring for once. You"™d never know she was sleeping off a bender if you didn"™t ask her to do anything. Jake, believed she might even be able to play a bass in this state. That little skill didn"™t help him at the moment though. With a determination that rivaled fighting for his life, because in a way he was, Jake clawed his way onto his boss"™s desk.

"No don"™t help me or anything, not like I could slip and fall to my death" he grumbled, very, very silently to himself. He didn"™t have any fear that his boss would do anything to him, he was a cash cow, he brought in guests and routinely packed the place, if not for his talent than at least his uniqueness. More to the point, when the old man found him in an alley, a 16 year old nothing with a sax he offered him a job. Not out of the goodness of his heart of course, but because it was a marketable. It wasn"™t always a non predation club, gave the whole dinner and a show saying a whole new meaning.

So while he trusted that the old lion wouldn"™t do anything to hurt him, this hard far more to do with dollar signs than any sense of morality. As such the mouse had none of the leverage talent is generally given.

"Sir what would this entail, exactly?" It wasn"™t like Jake to be meek, but then again his personal interactions with people who occupied his same level on the food chain was rather limited. He talked to his band, a horse named Johnny, and Panda named Benny, who weren"™t so much as prey as they were vegetarians. Barring a gang of wolves or larger, they were pretty much off the menu. There was Kate, pretty much the only predator he would openly call friend, and this was a pretty recent development. Other than that he kept to himself, not to be rude, just out of self-preservation. He hadn"™t talked to his boss in months. Maybe if he had, the Lion wouldn"™t be thinking of this ridiculous scheme.

"You"™ll be hitting some of the hottest spots in the city, do a few interviews, and even take part in this city"™s music festival" The old cat grinned, fangs that were larger than Jake sticking out prominently. The mouse could see his future and it wasn"™t pleasant.

"Don"™t you have a exclusive contract on my services sir?"

The Lion stroked his graying mane, amber colored eyes looking amused. They both new that the majority of that contract was bullshit thrown in to make it look official, yes it was an official document but neither believed Jake would still be working at the club at this point when it was made. The idea of Jake leaving was laughable on both of their parts, Jake was as secure as a mouse could be outside the subs, and old Lenton (those that joked about Lenton the Lion, generally only got to do so once) well losing a notable talent, and losing face would have the likely chance of him getting angry. When you go well on toast and you"™re barely a mouthful to your employer, keeping him happy is a good idea.

"Well I"™m leasing you out as it were." He said amicably. "It"™s good business, you see, making friends across the community. You"™re like an ambassador of good will."
Jake felt he had more in common with those mints left on your pillow than an ambassador. He sighed. Jake had really hoped he wouldn"™t be forced to voice the obvious.

"Don"™t you think this is just a little"¦dangerous sir" His ears went back the second he said it. Gesturing with his fingers just how little he perceived, just a pinprick of danger. Right just a pinprick, going to other clubs was risky but doable. Doing interviews was stupid and insanely dangerous. Being at a music festival though, with potentially thousands of furs that had mouse as a steady staple of their diet, was just being suicidal.

The Lion laughed, a deep basso laugh that shook Jake"™s whole body.

"Well you know what they say Jake, no risk, no reward. Do you have any idea what this kind of exposure will do to the club?"

Jake could practically see dollar signs in his eyes and knew without a doubt he was doomed. The Lion relented somewhat softening his look upon the poor mouse. "Jake, I think you look at me with a little more harshness than I deserve. I know this seems scary, but I"™m not throwing you out there alone. Kate and the others will be with you."

For the first time during the meeting, Jake favored him with a look of defiance. Turned to take one hard look at the knocked out Kate and looked back at Lenton. To his credit, the lion had the good sense to acknowledge a tactical error.

"Okay granted, but Trace and Georgina, will be along for the whole excursion as well."

Trace and Georgina were two Kodiak bears that had served as security for him for about a year now, once the club officially became non predation instead of the few months prior when it was only highly implied. Jake didn"™t talk to them much, but he knew he was too small to warrant any attention from them, and more importantly they valued what they considered cushy jobs. Lenton saw Jake thinking and pressed the issue.

"I"™m not a stupid man Jake, and these promoters aren"™t stupid either. You"™ve developed a bit of a cult following, and they see the chance to cash in. No one is in the mood to blow that, especially since I can sue them for all their worth if something happens to you."

Oh god he can make money whether I live or die, Jake thought suddenly more terrified than before.

"Not that they would ever let that happen, incentive makes a strong defense" Lenton hastily added, never losing his cool demeanor in the process. "The truth is insurance or not, you make far more money for alive than dead. Everything will be fine."

Jake had to give the Lion props for not even attempting to bring up giving him his first break, or loyalty in his little speech. The fact that he kept it strictly to money made it believable
"And it"™s not just money for me, no, no, no. Everyone, especially you Jake will benefit this. Imagine what this kind of publicity this could do for the amount of money you take in. Probably get a new place, maybe even in the subs"¦"

He left that part hanging, rat bastard. The subs were where the well to do mice lived. Underneath the ground away from predators, safe and secure in their own little society. When Jake and his littermates left the subs, it wasn"™t because they disliked it. They only wanted to be independent, out of mom"™s shadow. To actually live there, completely independent, while doing what he loved, he had never even considered it.

Lenton gave a predatory smile, Jake cursed inwardly. His boss knew he had him, and worse Lenton knew that Jake knew he had him. "Right then, your little tour, begins in a couple days. The musical festival"™s in a couple weeks. Be on your A game kid, you"™re not just representing yourself out there." He smiled devilishly, then looked to the comatose Kate. "I"™ll give you some time to inform Kate of the details."

He left the office practically humming "˜we"™re in the money"™. Jake sighed walked across the desk, finding and sizing up a paper clip before chucking it at Kate"™s nose.

"wha-wait those aren"™t mine officer I"™m holding them for a friend!" She pulled off her sunglasses, and tried to look composed. With bloodshot eyes, a wrinkled shirt, and jogging pants, she successfully failed miserably.

"Give me a lift." The mouse said sullenly.

"Oh crap, I just missed the meeting huh?" she said extending her paw, he was happy to climb in. "What"™d I miss?"

"Just my execution date, nothing major."
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Postby Duct Tape Fanatic » Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:21 pm

I should have mentioned this earlier, but Click was kind of inspired by your stuff, I, too, always liked these kinds of stories when I was growingup as a kid about mice characters living in the "big" world. Glad to see more of these characters.
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Postby gadabout » Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:49 am

You may not want require it, but i highly suggest it, as you did reuse many of the characters and such.

In any case, awesome story, YOU BETTER CONTINUE THIS!
RIP Baggy52.

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Postby baggy52 » Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:29 am

I can recall these characters from a while ago. It's good to see you writing more with them, but for goodness' sake man, how many stories are you writing concurrently right now?

Five? Ten? Infinity and beyond?
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Postby Kusanagi » Sat Dec 13, 2008 4:03 am

baggy52 wrote:I can recall these characters from a while ago. It's good to see you writing more with them, but for goodness' sake man, how many stories are you writing concurrently right now?

Five? Ten? Infinity and beyond?


...The last one :cry:
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Postby gadabout » Sat Dec 13, 2008 6:35 am

The last one? what the devil are you talking about? i certainly hope you are not leaving, because i got there first :evil:
RIP Baggy52.

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Postby Kusanagi » Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:13 am

gadabout wrote:The last one? what the devil are you talking about? i certainly hope you are not leaving, because i got there first :evil:


The last one, refers to baggy's statement. Infinity and beyond! I have attention deficit disorder when it comes to my stories, they all depend on my mood, and I can't seem to focus on one for very long before losing it. :D
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Postby eviscerator » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:24 am

Oooh. An execution! *Grabs popcorn.*
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Postby Kusanagi » Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:26 pm

The next day Jake awoke to the sounds of his landlord Shayla stumbling about, trying to get at a chipmunk neighbor that she wasn"™t aware of before. When there was silence, he wasn"™t sure if it was a bad omen, or a sign from the heavens that he needed to get more money and get the hell out of there.

He was going to work early, since the dangers posed to him in visiting the new club were obvious and very likely fatale if they went alone, it was proposed that they all meet at the club and head their together. Kate was treating the whole affair like a field trip. For her personally it wasn"™t even an issue. She had performed in lots of places, been on tour across the country more than once. For Jake it was all a little hard to grasp.

Still he knew his duty, and the potential reward that would come from it, collected his stuff, called his mom, and the few siblings he had any real affection for and told them he loved them then headed off. Better safe than sorry, after all just getting to work wasn"™t a guarantee.

He didn"™t live far, just a couple blocks away. Still it involved every skill he had, in regards to stealth. Sure he could take the subs route, but there was a toll to do so, survival of the species didn"™t sway capitalism one bit. Jake was saving his cash, and trusted his skills to see him safely through. The trick he learned, was ignoring his instincts. Not the ones that included, caution and paranoia of course, those were invaluable. Just the ones that involved, scampering and cautious nervous glances around him, those were cues for predators. Walking through a busy sidewalk, no one is prone to look at you or look down at all for that matter unless something draws their attention. Walking confidently without fear, that wasn"™t mouse style, and in the mix of furs trying to get to work, trying to get home, just trying to get anywhere, the scent of a mouse wasn"™t likely to be found among the throngs of life.

Also predator decorum worked in his favor. Even though the sanctity of life didn"™t apply once you were a certain height. It was still considered rude to dive across the middle of a sidewalk, claws outstretched trying to pounce something. They lived in a civilized society, there was no need to devolve into savages. If a predator couldn"™t pick you up casually, while keeping stride on a bust sidewalk, they likely weren"™t going to do it.

Paranoia still played a factor for Jake though, even if everything was calm. He would make sure to casually zig zag through pedestrian traffic, lest he stay next to a predator a bit too long. If at all possible, he"™d try to walk between the legs of some large vegetarian. Elephant, horse, bull, bison, if he could, something that would drown out his scent, wasn"™t going to reach down and gobble him up, and wasn"™t likely to be looked at with anything but a hint of respect. Today he was set between the legs of a group of female zebra, barring the obscenely rare pack attack in broad daylight, it was about as safe as you could get. Jake decided to take it as an omen.


They weren"™t all waiting for him when he arrived. The club would be closed tonight, any loses Lenton might have lost were more than made up by the other club leasing him. The risk on this venture seemed to entirely rest on him.

Not everyone had arrived yet. Johnny was sitting on the curb with a cigarette, out of the four band mates he had the most class. He worked a piano, but could work just about instrument you wanted provided he had some prep time with it. There was really no reason he hadn"™t made it to someplace better than this, accept that he couldn"™t be bothered. If he won the lottery tomorrow, he"™d quit without a minute before show time. What did it say about someone where even playing music (Jazz music at that) was too stressful a position to keep.

"So what"™s new Johnny Boy?" John was friendly to those he knew, and those he didn"™t feel threatened by. To use an apt but completely pc inappropriate term, he was an easily spooked horse. Luckily, Jake didn"™t come up to his ankle, and he had known him for over a year.

"Lottery tickets." He mumbled scratching off another chance to be a millionaire. Jake gave him the chance to fail with quiet dignity. The black and white stallion sighed before tossing the card aside. "My luck"™s almost as bad as yours" he grumbled.

"I"™d rather not talk about that." Jake said, mood suddenly plummeting he didn"™t like to be reminded that yes this was still very dangerous.

"I"™ll step in front of you if you need me to." Johnny said easily enough, without any hesitation either. Jake nodded appreciatively. "Well if it"™s something normal, cats, foxes, if a pride of Lions rushes the stage I"™m out of there." He gestured with his hands just how fast he would go. Jake laughed, appreciating the honesty.

"It shouldn"™t be so bad" Jake said breaking an amicable silence, neither of the two were talkative naturally. Which made them easy friends, they could appreciate a comfortable stress free silence without asking what the other was thinking about. Johnny made an uncertain noise, and Jake could tell the horse was debating answering him honestly.

Eventually honesty won out. "Did Lenton tell you, what club we"™re going to first?"

Jake realized he hadn"™t, though there was good reason. What could a name really tell him? He had lived in this city his whole life, and barely knew any of it. A name was just a name after all. He shook his head towards his companion.

"The kitty cat club." Said in a tone that was serious, but let a bit of humor express itself on his features. Like he knew it wasn"™t funny at all, and shouldn"™t laugh, but had too anyway.

Jake just buried his face within his paws. "Really, our first club?" he asked disbelieving. Short of "˜Hey mice are delicious club, lets eat one now." Could there have been a more unfortunate name?

"From what I understand, the owners name is Kitty as derivative a name as that is to give a feline. They don"™t promote themselves as a cat only bar." Johnny answered seeing his expression. Jake relaxed a little.

"It just happens to be about 80% of their clientele." Johnny said smiling, humor having won over good taste. Poking Jake with a finger tip, once he saw the mouse sulking. "Please these are house cats, I could handle them by myself, and I"™m on stage with Benny and Kate. Kate alone is enough to keep them from thinking anything, and that"™s not even including Trace and Georgina." Johnny made sure he tilted the Mouse"™s head up. "You"™ll be fine. So relax, win some more crazy fangirls, and then rake in the cash. Okay?"

Jake nodded.

"Alright then" The horse said speaking with authority on the subject, for him the subject was closed, and Jake felt calmer for the effort. They sat in silence for another few peaceful moments.

"If it comes down to it I could always stomp on you before hand"

"Thanks, I appreciate that." Jake said dryly.

Benny arrived next. He was the youngest aside from Jake, the club was a nice stop but he wanted bigger and better things. More power to him, he was attending college as well. Believed in having a solid back up. In so may ways Jake envied him. There really wasn"™t a limit to what he could do, like Johnny barring a pack, pride, or whatever you wanted to call a gang of hungry murderers, he didn"™t have to worry about being a snack. He was outgoing and friendly. The ability to openly trust people must have been an awesome ability to have. Benny played the drums and probably had the most talent among us. You couldn"™t star anything just on drums, but there was no reason you couldn"™t make an obscene amount of cash. Jake was happy to have him while he could.

"We got your back you know, right?" were the first words out of his mouth. Part in part, comforting, part in part showing how eager he was to perform in front of a completely new audience. Jake just gave him a nod.

Kate was the last to arrive as always. She had a stumbling gait to her that was both, comedic and sensual. Though Jake always pretended to ignore this last part. She gave a half hearted wave beneath a pair of sunglasses. Stumbling up to the three, until she could wave pleasantly at Jake.

"Looking forward to your trip?" She was slurring already, she had hit the sauce earlier than usual.
Jake didn"™t say anything, he had already worked the numbers in his head. She was going to remain blitzed during the next hour or so, buzzed during the pre show, and 100% sober during the actual show. It was rare if not unheard of her to do so. Jake bit his lip and just smiled at her. "Yeah I am, be nice to get around some."

"What do you mean get around some? It"™s just a few miles away, just at the center of downtown."

Kate sniggered, Johnny bit his tongue before replying. "Jake"™s a mouse" He said trying his best not to embarrass Jake any further. Benny though just wasn"™t getting it.

"So?" He said clearly missing the punch line.

"He"™s a virgin" Kate said laughing, oh sure her intentions were noble, just but in her current state her executions were piss poor. Benny blinked, but luckily Johnny was there with an explanation.

"She means virgin to the city. Mice don"™t venture far from where they"™re born, at least not often. Our saxophonist probably hasn"™t been outside a two block radius in his life. Not that that"™s a small area for a mouse."

Benny laughed, and if Jake could have disappeared at that moment and crawled into a crack in the wall he would have. "Always picking on the little guy"

"We have to do something, something special, make sure popping your traveling cherry isn"™t just work" Benny said half excited, Kate laughed her head off getting into it. Johnny was less enthused.

"I"™ll settle for getting out of this alive thank you."

"And we got to do something about that downer attitude." Benny said scratching under his muzzle.

"That I can actually agree with." Johnny said nodding.

"We"™re getting him wasted, end of discussion." Kate added with a sense of finality.

"I hate you all" the poor mouse lamented.

It was then that, Georgina and Trace arrived with their wheels. A limo, deluxe sized as they did have to fit the Kodiaks in them. It was very clearly rented, but Lento was apparently serious about them arriving in style. Kate picked him up, and set him on her shoulder and she strode toward one of the back doors. "You"™ve hit the big time kid, shut up and enjoy it, or I"™ll hold you down till you do."

And these are his so called friends.
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Postby Duct Tape Fanatic » Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:48 pm

It pays to have friends in high places, so to speak.
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