The City's a Stage

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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby TendoTwo » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:59 pm

I admit, I'm a bit confused what was happening with those groupies. So they are basically fans of Kate? Didn't get what they were trying to do, especially since Kate wasn't with the group.

Did find the mention of shaved patches of fur being on par with piercings and the like as part of the punk look to be a funny bit of detail in this setting though XD

Also, laughed pretty hard at the "“It’s true,” no it wasn’t" bit :lol: Kelly not being sure herself of how she feels about Jake while confronted with dozens of fans who have varying degrees of her own mentality towards him aught to be amusing to see. :D
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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby Kusanagi » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:41 am

TendoTwo wrote:I admit, I'm a bit confused what was happening with those groupies. So they are basically fans of Kate? Didn't get what they were trying to do, especially since Kate wasn't with the group.


Probably could have gone into more detail there. What I wanted to convey is they were bribed with the chance to meet both Caleb and ‘the Mistress’ if they could get Jake and company to come along with them (or failing that possibly nab him/them). Might edit it to make that more apparent.
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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby kool kitty89 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:03 pm

You know what I said before about Molly more or less being my favorite character in this series in spite of limited character building and scene time?

Well, now it seems every time we see a bit more of her (and a LOT more given some of the dialog in this chapter) that's becoming more and more solidified. ;)

That and she keeps getting more awesome while simultaneously being among the most normal and sane characters in the series, yet still being complex and interesting. (heh, kind of ironic her being a cat AND a punk-rock sort of cat at that, whilst still -almost begrudgingly at times- enjoying and appreciating Jakes music and respecting his musical talent, all while being exceptionally pragmatic and -dare I say- mellow about the whole thing)

And then you went and had her inadvertently (and unknowingly) call out Kelly on the hunger crush issue. And phrasing it in probably the absolute best-worst way possible.

Heh, let's just hope Kelly really IS beyond the phase of being conflicted over deciding whether Jake's cute enough to eat or ... cute enough to eat.

(Vana still makes Kelly look like a master of self-control and logical thought though, then again, These Messages makes this world look downright pleasant in many respects :P )


And then the rat ... and a rat of a rat at that, but then: BAM! a freakin' weasel! Ohoh, pretty much screwed there. (and that dialog was perfect)

(heh, kind of interesting to see that after all those chats with Jacktherabbit, particularly his stoat character, but then I got to musing about least weasels in particular ... small -smaller than rats even, by weight/bulk, smallest species of all the order Carnivora- but able to take down rabbits 10x their size/weight -also small enough to even fit into smaller mouse burrows -and, of course, you did have that brief appearance of that female stoat in the elevator in ... with a heart of gold ;) )
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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby Kusanagi » Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:12 am

It was different than his trip to the ‘Late Show’ in a way that was entirely unpleasant. The danger there was sudden, violent, and over in the span of minutes. It certainly left a few mental scars but the actual threat was short lived. More to the point no matter how sheltered Jake had been risks, like the one Carrie de Leon had posed, always lurked at the back of his mind. This situation, however, was another matter entirely.

Jake could deal with being in danger for what he was, he didn’t like it, but it was the way the world always worked. What he couldn’t deal with was his brother being put in the line of fire because who he was. It made his blood boil that to think this high priced thug could threaten his family, and it made him sick that anyone could consider his talent worth such tactics. The thing that killed him though was that so long as that weasel had her claws at Derrick’s throat he couldn’t afford to be anything but civil.

“I do hope you still intend to let me meet my prior commitments.”

“Of course, of course,” The rat said with the smallest of assurances. Jake flinched as Brand wrapped an arm around Jake’s shoulder just above where his saxophone case was strapped. The weasel, carrying Derrick at claw point, followed close behind. “Do understand this was the last act of a desperate man. The little guy striking back if you will, you probably know better than anyone that how much the bigger folks can run roughshod on us.”

“I do.” The mouse said holding his tongue. Brand at least seemed well aware of the irony. There was a snide grin on his face.

“Well I want to make a statement, not burn bridges, and maybe once you’re finished you just might come to reconsider your current arrangement. I’m sure the atmosphere of the Garden will put your current establishment to shame.”

“It’s the middle of the day I’m not sure how much of a crowd you’re expecting.”

“A true curiosity is not limited by other peoples schedules, more to the point, you think only those big folks are interested in the music festival?” The rat chuckled and Jake had to admit his own view was rather naïve. A safe haven close to the festival was probably doing killer business and here was the club owner leaving it unattended just to procure him. He would be flattered if he didn’t want to cave Brand’s skull in with his sax.

“Will I have any time to prepare?” Jake asked. He was well aware that until an opportunity presented itself he was once again at the mercy of his own talents.

“As much time as reasonable.” Reasonable, of course, would be at the rat’s discretion and no doubt under supervision. Not that it mattered so long as the weasel could easily cause Derrick to bleed out with a gesture.

The tunnels they went through were steadily sloping downward deeper under the park. Even with thousands in attendance, and in the middle of the rock portion of the festival, the sounds above were already so muted Jake had to strain to hear them. However there was a growing cacophony of voices and sounds up ahead.

Eventually the roughly tunneled burrow began to give way to stone, and the darkness gave way to actual lights. Just ahead were the smells of cooked food and drink, which were soothing in a way, but it also contained the scents of the patrons and that caused Jake’s stride to falter.

Brand would have none of that however. His arm still wrapped around the mouse as he guided the smaller rodent toward a partially open door. “No need to be nervous, after all haven’t you been in front of all those other nasty sorts, foxes, wolves, cats, to say the least?”

Jake bit back his fear but it was no small effort. Behind him even Derrick began to slightly fight in the weasel’s grip rather than go forward into the club without an ounce of resistance. Like his own efforts the weasel denied his brother’s efforts just by tightening her grip.

A ferret guarded the door and dipped his head to the boss as he held the door open for them. Brand didn’t even acknowledge him while ushering Jake inside with a near feral smile. On appearances alone it was just another club. The sounds, the smells, the ambient lighting, it was nothing he hadn’t seen before. Jake had been up and down the city on this tour and while each club had its quirks they more or less had the same feel. The difference was that this club had one hell of a quirk.

Jake had, up until very recently, performed almost exclusively performed for predators. That wasn’t the issue. The difference here was twofold. First with the exception of Derrick, who was sadly more hindrance than help at this point, he was entirely alone. Secondly size. While it sucked being at the bottom of the food chain, there were some advantages, namely that more often than not he simply wasn’t worth the effort and if someone did make the effort there were usually a variety of places to hide.

Brand made a show of escorting him through the club and there was a cheer that was nothing but disheartening. All eyes were on him and they were all disturbingly close to his level. Weasels, ferrets, stoats, lizards, minks, snakes! He’d never even seen a snake before. It was always a comfort in the back of his mind that he could scramble for the nearest crack in the wall should things get to dicey. Any number of this lot could and would happily follow.

Brand never broke his stride ushering him into a den where everyone present could, and perhaps would, tear him limb from bloody limb.

“Welcome to the Garden Jake once you get used to it you might never want to leave.”

‘Or be able to.’ The mouse thought disparagingly.

<v>

“Can I just say I love the look?” Caleb said with a pleased smile. He wasn’t actively hitting on her, Kate wasn’t sure he even knew how to anymore, everything came so easy to him at this point.

“I got tired of leather.”

“And the piercings,” he spared a glance below her waist, “well the piercings I can see.” He amended. It didn’t matter that they were surrounded by his entourage, and one suddenly interested Georgina, Caleb knew no such thing as shame. Tension was high with everyone save the alpha wolf. His security was wearily eying Georgina lest she make a move, Georgina nervously glanced at Kate half expecting the she wolf to maul him, and Kate was torn between doing just that and rushing off back to their campsite. Caleb seemed entirely oblivious of it all content to make what he considered small talk.

“So how are they?”

“Who do you mean?”

“Your new friends I mean. I’m just curious, we’ve know each other since we were little more than pups sure we had a bit of a falling out,” once again stretching the word bit to ludicrous lengths, “but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.”

“It’s a healthier environment for me, much healthier.”

“Really I thought playing with a mouse would be something of a headache.”

Kate’s ears perked, so far the conversation had primarily just involved them, this was about the closest he’d come to touching on Jake.

“Oh don’t glare at me,” he though on this a second then smiled, “well no go ahead it’s quite ravishing, like I’m said I’m just curious. It’s not like I need to indulge in any predatory pettiness, I’m well stocked after all.” He halfheartedly gestured to the gathering line of groupies, particularly a line of rabbits, hares, and other assorted leather clad, punk prey species.

“That’s a bit sick.” She admitted. Not that they didn’t look delicious but the fact that they were willing ratcheted up the cult vibe she was getting from Caleb.

“Fulfilling dreams both dark and decadent is just the place of an icon.” He said without humor apparently taking the obligation quite seriously.

“And you fully believe that?” Kate leaned closer to him, eyes narrowed, trying to pick up on the joke. He was always a pompous, arrogant, asshole, but she never considered him completely deluded.

“Of course.”

“See here’s a big difference between us. You might want to know how I got this way but I’m afraid to find out what made you like this.” She said sincerely looking him dead in the eyes and trying to find anything of the male that she genuinely loved at one point.

Caleb snorted derisively. “I just started to see the world how it really is.” He spread his arms wide as if gesturing to all the security, the entourage, and the fans that would literally do anything for him.

“After I started doing that I really became much happier. You do remember how I was when we were pups don’t you?” For the first time his words had some real bite to them and Kate’s anger ebbed slightly. It was hard to make the connection between him at his lowest and the wolf that stood before her now. Still it was a false dichotomy between a scrawny depressed high school kid and a celebrity whose ego, if it had physical form, could crush half the city. There was a happy medium between the two and that was the wolf she used to like. Or, as ugly as it sounded, she was looking at the good times with a healthy dose of nostalgia mixed in. Maybe they both were.

She was about to try reasoning with him one last time when her phone rang. Caleb smiled and took a step back. He was either showing some modicum of politeness or perhaps suspected the call would come. Fearing the worst given Caleb’s so called invitation she braced herself for the news. She wasn’t surprised to hear Bennie’s voice on the other line nor, sadly, to hear that he was distressed. Just once, just once, she would like for things to go easily. All the while Caleb watched smugly ready to offer his input the moment she hung up.

“Alright, Jake’s not stupid he and Derrick likely hightailed it.” She said after a beat forcing herself to keep her composure. Kate really, really, hoped Georgina’s crackpot theory of Derrick being in Lenton’s pocket was accurate. There were more distressed lines on the other end. “No I don’t blame you though Trace might have to watch his back later. Jake will be fine.” She left Bennie with that hoping he believed her. She needed that little white lie if she was going to keep from going berserk.

‘As long he’s fine I don’t have to murder Caleb right now.’ Kate thought icily.

“Something wrong?” The alpha asked innocently. She felt might just murder him regardless.

“You know damn well what’s going on.” She snarled.

“I invited your friends over for a little talk. So far that hasn’t happened and I can’t imagine why.”

She silently fumed and turned on her heel. Nothing good would come from lashing out at Caleb. No matter how cathartic it might be. She was better served out there with her friends.

“I probably went about it the wrong way.” He said showing a small moment of contriteness. “Your mouse friend probably misinterpreted what was happening. Allow me to make it up to you.” There was eagerness in his voice as if he had been granted some unexpected treasure.

Kate stopped in her tracks as she realized Caleb was already thinking just how to turn this to his advantage. “I think you’ve done enough.”

“Nonsense, pardon me for overhearing but your little mouse could use help, and what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t offer assistance.” It was that voice of his dripping with sincerity that made it so easy for people to love him. Just a nice guy trying to make amends for a mistake. When Kate only saw a wolf stalking wounded prey.

“Perhaps when I deliver him safely back to you we can begin again on more friendly terms.”

She wanted to tell him where to stick the offer but he was going to intercede whether she wanted him to or not, and his orders could be very different if she didn’t give him any incentive to be kind.

“Maybe.” She conceded.

His eyes lit up like a pup on Christmas.

“So long as you find him unharmed.”

“Perish the thought of any harm coming to your mouse. It would wound me to see you to come to any pain,” even he had enough self-awareness to quickly amend that to, “well any more pain.”

Kate gave him the briefest of acknowledgments before stalking out with Georgina. Caleb could help if he wanted too, but she would be damned if she would be indebted to him when it was his fault to begin with.

Georgina followed after looking rather unsure of the entire exchange. “Are we doing what I think we’re doing?” She asked incredulously.

“In a race to find Jake before my ex or his cult find him first.” She said it out loud as if to taste it. Her ears went back it wasn’t at all palatable. “Shut up. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

<v>

It was at times like these that Derrick had to wonder if it was honestly worth all the trouble. Granted he was seeing interesting sights, meeting interesting people, but all too often those people were far too interested in seeing what he looked like on the inside.

Jake had been whisked away somewhere in the back where he was no doubt getting the bird in the gilded cage treatment; his accommodations no doubt superior than the one Derrick had to put up with.

“You have soft fur do you use conditioner?” His captor, showing no regard for personal space, rubbed her muzzle against the back of his neck, and the mouse all too aware that her fangs were within a hair’s breadth of his jugular. Her incredibly flexible form coiled about him like a snake.

“All natural.” He said keeping his tone neutral.

“Really, don’t really get to spend this much time up close to mice. I imagine blood takes away some of the effect.” He didn’t shudder because he was certain that would encourage her. The talkative ones typically needed to have their fun before they did the deed. Orders or not he knew he shouldn’t tempt her with any outward displays of fear lest he stir some primal instincts.

“Oh I can feel you tense up you should really relax. We’re all just here to enjoy your friend.” One of her claws emerged to gently scratch under her chin. “So long as you behave it won’t have to become dinner and a show.” Her voice didn’t break from its cheerful mold which made it all the more unnerving.

Currently the two had their own private table in a cozy corner of the bar. The lights were dim and the atmosphere lively. If it weren’t for the threat of disemboweling Derrick might have actually been able to relax.

“Can we talk about something else?” Just her presence was a constant looming threat. He really didn’t need her teasing commentary as well.

She looked out to the stage in the center of the club a stoat was playing the piano. He was doing a serviceable job but it was nothing special. It mostly acted as a pleasant white noise flowing under the regular conversations.

“I never did tell you my name.” She said embarrassed while still looking out onto the stage. “It’s Justine and I’m actually looking forward to this.” She said somewhat wistfully. It was a nice change from psychotic Derrick found. “You know how hard it is to get actual talent down here?”

“It’s almost like you’d have to kidnap someone to get them to perform here.” Derrick said dryly. Her rebuke was mild; just a squeeze to let him know not to give her too much lip.

“The big people get to hoard everything. They have the best restaurants, the best clubs, the best entertainment, because they have a glut of people who can focus on becoming great without looking over their shoulder.” Derrick got the sense this wasn’t so much of a conversation so much as it was her excuse to vent.

“That must be nice.” Derrick griped before earning small scratch across his muzzle.

“Those that aren’t there naturally can easily be bought. Throw enough money at someone and they’ll walk into hell.” She said bitterly. The mouse was wise enough not to interrupt. “You mice aren’t much better, hiding away in your own little world that you keep to yourselves leaving everyone in the middle to scrounge for scraps.”

“Can’t imagine why we’d be hesitant to share?” She peered down into his face and pondered how she should react to that comment. Derrick braced himself for another strike but it didn’t come.

“I think most species are able to appreciate talent.” She said though it mostly came off as a small excuse. ‘Sure we prey on you but if you’re really talented, and let us know ahead of time, we’ll cheer you on!’ Bigger preds were the same way of course, but they didn’t come attached to this sob argument. He didn’t say a word of that though as she could still very easily tear out his throat on a whim.

“If you came to him, explained the plight, and promised at least some form of security he might have done it.” Well maybe if they dug a hole back up to the surface and supplied Kate with a video live feed while she sat outside but the weasel didn’t need to know that.

“As if it would have been his choice.” She was probably right on that Derrick thought. Even if she hadn’t so much as dispelled the reason everyone was hesitant in the first place.

“Well we’ll never know will we?” Derrick said pushing as much as he was able as a means of resistance. Her put upon attitude really grating on him despite his circumstances. Making the scary lady with claws angry probably wasn’t the best tactic, but it made him feel better at least.

<v>

In some ways it was better than most of his other shows. For one the dressing room was at least somewhat on his scale, the liquor cabinet was stocked (though he resisted, he needed his wits for once), and they gave him a modicum of privacy. There was another rat at the door just in case he should bolt, but so long as they had his brother it was a distant thought.

All he could do was hope that this was all just a little ‘take that’ at Lenton and nothing the rat thought he could get away with long term. ‘If not well I wouldn’t have to face it sober at least.’ He thought cynically. His ears perked at the sound of commotion at the door. Brand had promised him time to prepare so he wasn’t expecting any company. Whoever they were wasn’t Brand though as the rat at the door didn’t immediately let them in. Still they had enough sway that they weren’t turned away either.

The mouse could hear a begrudging grunt as the rat stepped aside. Jake didn’t know quite what he expected but it certainly wasn’t a familiar brown feathered song bird.

“Isabella?” While he wasn’t the most knowledgeable about birds even he was fairly sure they didn’t do the underground scene.

“Ah you do remember! I clearly leave an impression but I did worry about all that dreadful alcohol affecting your memory.” She said hopping in his general direction. Their previous conversation played in his head and the mouse’s eyes narrowed with suspicion and mounting anger.

“Are these the friends you mentioned?”

“Well ‘friends’ was perhaps too generous a term given dear ratty’s foolishness.” She said mildly repentant. “Brand could never appreciate a gentle touch I’ll give him a firm peck next time I see him on your behalf.” Isabella said with a flourish of feathers while keeping her enchanting tone.

“That doesn’t really help me now though does it?” He said trying to work up some anger but again failing in her presence. Her lyrical voice again leaving him befuddled without much effort.

“No, I suppose not. Your little mousey friend playing guardian angel is now in trouble and you’re worried.” She said while running a feathered digit under his chin.

“Are you saying you’re going to help me out?”

“Word to the wise mousey if you want a real guardian angel you should look for one with actual wings.” She said melodiously. He unconsciously found himself leaning while she tickled under his muzzle only to pull away and leave him hanging. “I’ll have a word with the dear rat, maybe things will be easy, maybe they won’t.” She shrugged her wings and began to hop away from him and back to the door.

“Is that all you came down here for?” Jake said finding composure again once they were separated.

“I have many things mousey, grace, charm, intellect, beauty, so many, many things, but time is not one of them. Be calm, be smart, and this will all be over soon I promise.”

And as Jake watched her go every instinct in his body told him not to trust her and he felt so unbelievably stupid to know that he did.
Last edited by Kusanagi on Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby Duct Tape Fanatic » Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:07 am

Seems that if Jake is the one getting all the predatory females after him for the crush reason, Derrick is the one getting them for the hunger part. Also, youch for Kate, one wonders if Jake got a look at those other piercings too.
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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby gadabout » Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:33 am

oh boy kidnappin and a race to find the hostages! I dont like that bird lady though, shes up to something... but any hoo

nice post, keep em coming >:I
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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby kool kitty89 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:38 am

Forgot about this ages ago, several chapters back. But that elephant show host, the comment he made about 'being looked at like an all you can eat buffet' didn't really make that much sense after really thinking on it. Given ... elephants are huge, terrifying things more or less immune to falling prey once they reach adulthood (so much so that they tend to go off and die in private in their old age).

That and I remembered it because I got to thinking on pigs and their general lack of presence in the series (and how efficient pigs are as food animals in general, well in real life at least -birth rate, growth rate, flexible diet). And how a big (tall) fat hog would still have been intimidating but also genuinely enticing as prey.
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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby Kusanagi » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:54 am

Derrick looked idly at his drink, undecided about how he should feel about his current situation. On the one hand he was wrapped in the coils of a psychotic weasel that was holding him hostage. On the other hand she didn’t strike him as the sharpest claw on the paw and she was currently killing off as many brain cells as she could. A drunk weasel might have made it easier to sneak away, but then again, it might make her liable to forget that she needed him alive.

There was also his own drink to consider, in all likelihood he needed to be sober for when a chance to escape presented itself. That said he wouldn’t mind a bit of liquid courage at the moment.

“You’re way too stressed,” she said, as her coils tightened around him. Justine leaned down, giving him both a good view of her sharp teeth and a good whiff of the alcohol on her breath.

“Just thinking, if Jake doesn’t perform well what happens to me?” He asked, trying to sound as pathetic as possible.

Justine laughed and it wasn’t entirely pleasant. Her tone implied all the mercy Derrick could expect to receive.

“Noted,” he said dryly. He would need that drink after all.

“Oh don’t be so dour, I doubt your friend will let you down. Besides you’re kind of cute when you’re terrified,” she said, with a husky whisper in his ear.

Derrick downed his drink in one needy gulp. He wasn’t sure what terrified him more, that she might hungry or…hungry. The weasel laughed as he grimaced; still the burning sensation down his throat was a welcome distraction from his heart beating a mile a minute.

From their shaded alcove in the corner of the bar Derrick could see those who would be accompanying Jake on stage beginning to warm up. A badger took up the back of the stage as they wheeled out a piano, a couple ferrets with a variety of cases and an old tom cat waddling over to a drum set. None of them looked like pleasant company, but then Derrick was biased.

“They any good?” Derrick posed, though he only cared enough that they not bomb and take he and Jake down with them.

“Good enough,” she said, but it was with a hint pride that he hadn’t been expecting, “not a star among them, but with some real talent on stage with them,” she sighed, the sudden wistful expression gracing her muzzle said enough.

“So you have an ear for music?” It was the only time that she came across as remotely normal when speaking with him, and his curiosity got the best of him.

“Oh are you curious little one?” She said, snapping back into her teasing persona so fast you could almost hear the recoil, “I’ll sell my secrets to you for a price.”

Far too concerned that such a price might literally be an arm and a leg Derrick decided to back off. This, of course, amused her to know end.

“Don’t worry we’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other,” she whispered as she wrapped around him tighter, “for now though let’s just enjoy the show.”

<v>

Kate probably wasn’t doing anything to limit her number of followers, and was probably doing years’ worth of damage to her online image besides, but she hardly cared at the moment.

She could hear more of Caleb’s little club behind her, well the ones that hadn’t dashed off to ‘help’, and a few audible shutter clicks as some paparazzi group took a picture of her ‘investigation’.

Bennie had the good sense (read: Survival Instincts) not to say anything, and Georgina at least attempted not to look like this effort wasn’t hilarious.

“Now, now, kids nothing to see here.” Johnny said keeping the crowd at bay, though this show of bravery was only because Trace was backing him up. The effort did nothing to dismiss the number of pictures taken however.

When she returned from her conversation with Caleb, she didn’t bother with any accusations or succumb to the rage that Bennie thought she might erupt with. Instead she got right down to finding Jake.

It was just the manner in which she attempted to do so that garnered attention.

Kate had proclaimed that she had Jake’s scent practically memorized, and before anyone dared question just how or why that was, the wolf had proceeded to try to sniff out the mouse.

That wasn’t so odd, but when the scent took her to the ground sniffing through the grass and dirt, well, that’s when they started to gather a crowd. Kate, not normally caring about modesty, continued on her task. Nose to the ground, ass in the air, and thoroughly not giving a damn.

“I think I got it,” she said, though did not seem happy about it. The way she started pawing at the ground probably would have drew comments, but the others watching did value their jugulars intact.

“Shit, there are a few branching tunnels down there,” unless she wanted to pay for an excavation crew it was just as good as a dead end. She sat back feeling like howling in frustration.

“So where do we stand?” Georgina asked, managing to get the wolf to focus.

“There’s no blood, but that’s the only positive thing I can say,” the wolf said morosely.

“So we’re betting on Jake getting himself out of this mess… again…” Georgina didn’t seem happy about that either. Even she couldn’t get mad if Lenton had her fur this time. The Kodiak recalled the days when she thought this was an easy job, was that really so long ago?

Kate didn’t want to give up that easily but didn’t have an answer that was better than helplessly waiting as much as rankled her fur.

“Oh she was right the grounders are not that bright,” a new voice called to them.

<v>

The term stage fright had never been more applicable to Jake. Granted every night had its trepidations, every club had its different quirks, but usually when he got on stage he could let it go. Normally it was either through sheer force of will or, at the very least, through high levels of intoxication. Sometimes both. He didn’t have either at this point.

Though Lenton had dragged him to some of the vilest clubs but, for as much as a greedy pain in the ass the lion could be, he trusted him in a way. More than that, whenever he entered a new club there was Kate, Georgina, and he had his band mates. Giants and shifty predators the lot of them, but they were also his friends.

Today the ambition, the drive, and even his friends had been taken from him. Jake didn’t even have his alcohol to fall back on. Throw in a crowd that would actually consider him a real meal rather than a snack and the mouse struggled to breathe. In his dressing room he simply stood and looked himself in the mirror. His eyes were tired. He missed his steady gig. He missed the familiar crowds. He missed his old hole in the wall. He missed when he could trade barbs with Kate without it being awkward.

He took deep breaths, rubbing at his fur, trying to banish the unfairness of this situation.

“You look troubled my dear one,” Said a familiar lyrical voice that never failed to capture his attention.

“I don’t suppose you were able to get them to cancel the show?” He asked, more for sake of conversation than actual hope. Isabella’s pitying eyes said all he needed to know.

“You look troubled.” The nightingale stated.

Jake gaped honestly not knowing what to say to that. Sarcasm was his usual go to but if she couldn’t get why he was troubled that might just fly over her head. She tutted at his lack of response, tilting her head toward him.

“You must have more faith mousey,” she declared, as she spread her wings wide.

“Running a bit low on that thank you.”

The bird dismissed the sarcasm. It didn’t go over her head, if anything she looked like she felt it was beneath her. “Just go out there and have a good time. Everything will be sorted later.”

He was about to just how stupid that was when he looked into her eyes. The mouse wasn’t sure if it was confidence or sheer arrogance in them but he didn’t challenge her. “Alright,” He conceded. She seemed to brighten at this.

“You are sad, and you are scared,” Isabella smiled as she stated the obvious to him. She seemed disappointed when he didn’t seem to follow her logic. “A little birdy told me,” she couldn’t even finish the line without tittering at her own joke, “That one of your best performances of your career happened right after something unfortunate occurred to your family.”

Jake froze at the reminder but didn’t deny it.

“Hardship and tragedy can bring out the best in us,” she said, her eyes seemed to stare right through him. He didn’t even see the point of lying.

“Yeah.”

“So will you give it your best?” she asked leaning slightly closer, hovering to the point where it was almost uncomfortable.

“Of course I will,” he said, surprising himself in that he meant it.

“Finally one of you listens! It’s so much easier when you listen. Now go out, be a brave mousey, and play well,” Isabella suddenly shook her head, having decided this was the wrong choice of words and crossed her wings, “no, no, no play well for me. The others outside don’t deserve it!”

‘And she did?’ He snarked internally. Either way, despite everything he actually found himself somewhat cheered up by the speech. Though that might have been a sign of desperation rather than any legitimate hope.

“I’ll do my best,” he said dryly. She might not get sarcasm but she wasn’t going to get any enthusiasm from him either.

She surprised him then by hopping forward and giving him the gentlest peck on the cheek. Given that she lacked lips, the mouse assumed that was the approximation of a kiss. “Everything will work out Mousey, trust me.” She hopped out of the room leaving him starring. If nothing else he would give her credit for leaving him speechless.

Trust was something that Jake was reluctant to give but at the moment he didn’t have many options.

“Yeah just go out there, perform, and try not to die. My life in a nutshell,” the mouse said with reluctant acceptance. One thing was for sure he wasn’t going to escape standing around here.

Jake opened the door expecting to find the rat assigned to watch over him. Instead he found Brand wearing a smug grin.

“All set?” The rat asked, not acknowledging the glare that Jake favored him with.

Jake nodded which caused the Rat to lean closer and the mouse to shrink back. “Don’t mind me, I was just curious. You have the reputation of someone who, well what’s the polite way to say this, shoots off their mouth?”

Jake’s glare didn’t waiver.

“It’s funny cause it took me a moment to grasp what you’re feeling, and I think I might have made an error.”

Jake raised a brow but once again said nothing.

“I didn’t expect your friend to be nearly the bargaining chip he is. I thought keeping your dates and letting you leave for the music festival would be far more incentive. But you’re legitimately angry at me aren’t you?” It wasn’t really a question as Brand pointed directly to his face.

“That look right there, that ain’t fear, and given the lot you normally associate yourself with I wouldn’t expect it to be. It’s also not the look of a performer denied an opportunity,” the rat smiled with a predatory glee at him. “You’re thinking dark thoughts about me boy, and that means it’s personal and not professional.”

“I’m not going to say you’re wrong,” Jake said cautiously, as he wasn’t sure were Brand was going with this.

“Now that gives me a dilemma. I know you won’t tell me more, but I suddenly realize I might have something more than what I expected. I didn’t kill your friend because, well that’s just a terrible way to start a business relationship, but I know mice, and I know you’re astoundingly capable of moving on.”

“What are you getting at?” Jake asked, though it wasn’t necessary. He knew a veiled threat when he heard one.

“Nothing yet, but let’s just say it’s not just your neck on the line out there. Savvy?”

Jake tensed and a part of him wanted to go for Brand’s throat. Back when they met at the late show when Derrick was just some jerk, he wouldn’t have cared. Jake would help a mouse if given the opportunity but when none presented itself, well Brand wasn’t entirely wrong about the moving on part. After that ordeal though there was no way he wouldn’t fight for Derrick, and once their relation came to light…well family makes you do stupid things.

“Seeing as how I have you at a disadvantage it would be unconscionable for me not to,” he hesitated searching for the right word. “’press’ slightly. Tonight if you don’t sandbag, then we’ll let you go on your way to the commitments.”

The mouse didn’t need to be told what would happen if he did lay an egg out there.

“But provided you kill it, and you have every incentive to do so, I imagine a return date would be in your future.”

Jake’s fight or flight instinct screamed at him but neither was a reasonable answer in this instance. He swallowed his pride, and a good deal of anger, and nodded.

“Excellent, though that’s all in the future. The present is now after all.” He said smugly and Jake was forced to hide his anger. It was all just business to the rat, and under the current circumstances Jake was obligated to smile and nod lest his brother’s spinal cord show up in his dressing room.

But then he wouldn’t have much of a bargaining chip would he?

A voice in the back of his mousey brain had been growing louder over the course of several minutes to the point where he could no longer ignore it. ‘It’s a bluff, it’s all a bluff’ It screamed.

The sensible part of him made sure to remind him that this was Derrick’s life they were talking about. Not to mention his own.

But that was bullshit. In a vacuum where no one valued his talents, where there was no money involved, it was possible to buy the bullshit Brand was speaking, but there was no way they could kill him and expect Lenton to let that go unanswered. Brand was not Carrie de Leon, he wasn’t a celebrity, and he didn’t have pull. In fact the only reason he pulled this stunt was because he was desperate!

It was one thing if Jake was killed by some random predator. That was life.

This was business.

While Brand might have been able to kill Jake and escape with his hide intact, his business would be done. If not crushed by a vengeful Lion, then the threat on the lives of everyone who entered would be more than enough to discourage a healthy atmosphere.

“Those terms are bullshit.” Jake said, his confidence returning and the mouse standing straighter despite his fear.

Brand gave him an appraising look. He showed no hint of anger, but there was a decided amusement on his face. “Oh?”

“I’ll preform for you tonight, but you’re letting me and my friend go today.”

“Will I now?” The rat challenged, amused by the smaller rodent’s gall.

“You will because if you kill him, I’m not performing for you again, and if you kill me it just makes more problems for you.” Jake let that hang. “You’re a businessman, and your desperate, I get that, but I will flat out tell you if you push this issue this will be a one off, half assed performance, and then if you follow up with your threats what will you have?”

The two locked gazes and for the first time Jake felt some degree of confidence. “A headache.” The mouse finished.

“But no one’s been killed, no one’s been hurt, right now this is strictly professional. Right now I’m going to go out there, then I am going to wow your audience, and you’re going to apologize, let us go, and then maybe, maybe, I’ll consider coming back.”





The rat was the first to turn away from the stare down and he had to chuckle. “Alright you have bigger balls than I expected, and given who you work with that says a lot. Alright, I make no promises but if you can win over my crowd there’s a lot more credence to what you say.”

“You mean do exactly what you demanded I do under the penalty of death anyway?” Jake raised his eyebrows but still couldn’t get an angry reaction out of the Rat.

“If that occurs,” he said without acknowledging what Jake said. “We’ll renegotiate.”

Jake was well aware that was all that he would get. He nodded.

Jake could have just walked past the rat on the way to the stage, instead he couldn’t resist the last word.

“Not a problem, I like negotiating from a position of strength,” The mouse said, Brand had no reaction which was just fine with Jake. Maybe it was his negotiations with Lenton, maybe it was just dealing with predators in general, but the previous encounter left the mouse giddy. When Brand was out of sight he nearly clicked his heels together.

Still he kept his newfound optimism in check. While he may have checked Brand, an audience didn’t have to worry about the backstage politics that the rat did. If Jake bombed Brand was free and clear for what happened, and any of the guilty parties could slink off into the night with no one able to extract their (perhaps literal) pound of flesh from them.

“So just like any other night,” he mused, back in his comfort zone Jake headed to the stage with just a touch more confidence.

<v>

Kelly found herself relaxing, probably more so than she had in years. Now she didn’t fully relax, unless you were an apex predator or around the size of an elephant such a thing was akin to suicide. Still on certain matters, namely on matters of a musical mouse, she was as at ease as she had ever been.

There were three possible reasons for this. One being she was among her people, a people she never realized she had but one she happily fit into. Next was that it was probably fair to call herself the queen of them! Okay that might have slight stretching the truth just a tad, most of them didn’t know anything about her, and given that an undisclosed amount of them were considered by Molly to be ‘off’, she kept her stories to those personally approved by the Calico.

It was a small group, one’s that Molly absolutely trusted to be on the Jake bandwagon for music and nothing else. Kelly especially appreciated the nothing else because there was certainly a part of the fan base that wanted to get to ‘know’ Jake because of one kink or another rather than the music. Disgusting really, at least Kelly had the decency to get to know him somewhat.

Then there were, of course, the hunger crush groupies, which made the fox all sorts of awkward. Having common ground with someone who wants to snack on your potential future boyfriend kind of did that.

Still in between telling, mostly true, tales to Molly’s group. She couldn’t help but hear some of the other commentary, and it unnerved her.

The core of what they felt was frighteningly the same as her. ‘He’s so brave’, ‘so talented’, ‘so public’, ‘so brazen’, ‘fearless’, though unlike her none of them actually knew him.

None of them could actually appreciate that he was just a normal mouse underneath it all. Their craving could be sated with any ordinary mouse, but something about his publicity either angered or enticed certain predators.

‘If you didn’t want to get eaten you shouldn’t have been on TV’ was the general reasoning she thought uncharitably. Though Kelly did recognize holding herself to a higher standard because she wanted to eat him before he was famous was beyond petty.

Still now that her objective had changed, she considered them just as much as in the way as Kate. Fortunately for Kelly the majority of this fanbase were cats, minks, badgers and other assorted small predators. She could have her claws out if need be. For now she would focus on more positive things, like cementing her queenship amongst Molly’s friends.

That is until she noticed a black and white bulldozer hurriedly making its way through the crowd.

<v>

Bennie shifted his way through the crowd, trying to quell his anxiety for a multitude of reasons. He wasn’t in danger per-se, most of the crowd didn’t even come up to his waist, but he wasn’t especially comfortable feeling nervous around a multitude of furs with sharp teeth regardless of size. They can smell your fear wasn’t euphemism after all.

Luckily most of the crowd was far more concerned about the music than an anxious Panda.

“Hey Panda!” He turned, half expecting some snarling Lion or Leopard barreling down on him,

Bennie looked over to see one familiar fox, and one vaguely familiar feline. The fox worked at the club, and he was fairly sure she’d seen her talking to Jake more than once. The fact that she got passed the first talk with Jake without being eviscerated by either Kate or Georgina put her on the trustworthy list. The feline though, the piercings stood out but he couldn’t place her. It was hard to worry too much given that she didn’t come up to his thigh.

“Hey, Kelly right? Look I don’t really have the time right now.”

“Not a problem I just wanted to introduce you to a friend of mine.”

He was about to politely brush her off when the tiny feline latched onto his paw and shook in vigorously. “My name’s Molly, big fan, you really do great work have you thought about doing some other music? Rock, maybe some metal, or maybe something more hybridized!” She rattled off so fast that the Panda barely registered anything beyond the fact that he had a fan.

“Really? I mean I never really considered it, I’m in a good spot right now though my girlfriend has,” The panda stopped himself before he could go any deeper on that train of thought. Considering differing musical paths could wait until after his friend was safe. “Sorry, I’d definitely love to chat later but we’re in the middle of a small crisis here.”

Kelly’s ears perked right up at the words ‘small crisis’.

“Not like its serious or anything!” he quickly amended “but I totally need to get going, like right now,”

Kelly spared a glance at Molly before gesturing for Bennie to lean closer. Good natured sort that he was he wasn’t expecting her to grab his ear claws extended. There may have been a size difference but she was still a mighty huntress, and the panda a passive herbivore. “Is this about Jake?” she whispered. If she had been thinking clearly she likely would have dragged him further away, as such she drastically overestimated Bennie’s composure in a stressful situation.

“What of course this isn’t about Jake!”

Fate can be rather unkind. If Bennie had blurted that out not two minutes before it would have been drowned out by blaring music. If it had it had been 30 seconds ago it would have been drowned out by cheers. He just happened to say it in the awkward lapse of silence between acts.

More importantly he said it in the midst of what could be described as Jake groupies.

Spend a moment to pity the poor panda.
Last edited by Kusanagi on Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby TendoTwo » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:30 am

Those last two sentences were hilarious! :lol:
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Re: The City's a Stage

Postby NeoVid » Wed Feb 22, 2017 5:55 am

All right, it's back! Glad you didn't leave us at too sadistic a cliffhanger!

Now, fingers crossed for new installments of Integration and The Seeking!
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