Chapter 26: Fan Service

With one disaster after another, the crew of the Edward Deming are stretched thin after another incident places their friends and family in danger...Some will go to great lengths to achieve their goals, though others may not be so eager to make a Faustian bargain.
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uso
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Chapter 26: Fan Service

Post by uso » Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:53 pm

The Woods,
Kowloon


This was technically an off the books secret mission. No Alliance backup, no Alliance uniform… Somnya was instead clad in mirror’d sunglasses, a black pencil skirt with matching jacket and white button down. The way the outfit was buttoned just under her bustline, hugged her hips, and left her rather toned legs on display gave her quite the feeling of power. She looked like one of those corporate hatchet-men from the movies, like she was just about to axe thousands of people on a whim.

She was SOOO close to living out a spy-thriller.

But she had to bring along two more members of her crew… they were big fans of her contact.

Soffy was practically jumping up and down with excitement, one of her legs holding onto Somnya’s hand, another reaching off to the other side to hold hands with her sister Torrace.. Both of the short wasp-like I’ee were dressed in frilly pink skirts and tiaras that matched those from the famous Magical Girl Ayumu TV show. The two I’ee toddled along on their back legs, Soffy excitedly holding a magical wand and a small book while her sister Torrace held a marker and a sword… which she was brandishing at anyone who came too close to her sister as they made their way into the reception area.

Somnya would speak first, “We are here to see-”

But she was cut off

“BOB!” Soffy blurted out, scurrying up to the desk and dragging her two companions along with her. The I’ee jumping up so her compound eyes could get above desk-level, “AND AYUMU! ARE THEY HERE?! WE LOVE MAGICAL GIRL AYUMU!”

“O-of course,” the receptionist at the desk replied, the corner of her eye twitching from some unknown stress. Turning her own gaze on Somnya however, the stilted, stiff expression she gave said something along the lines of ‘please end my suffering’ before she spoke. “The three of you will find him in Trailer 7. It’s off in that direction, but if you hit the wilderness again, you’ve gone too far.” The portable building was set in the middle of nowhere for some sort of film shoot, and the three would find themselves having to trek across the clearing filled with pre-fabs before finding their destination.

There, set on the door, was the name “Bob Gunson”.

“THANK YOU!” Soffy said, turning around and half-running to the door before turning around again and running behind the receptionist desk, giving the poor woman a quick hug before turning towards the door and running once more, dragging Torace along with her.

Somnya just nodded, she had what she needed and Soffy was about to move on regardless. Despite the speed at which the I’ee moved, scurrying about with four of her legs while using her wings to add just a bit more speed… Somnya easily outpaced her as the I’ee stopped for every person she met to try and introduce herself as well as provide hugs.

When Somnya reached Bob’s door, she found it was slightly open. Through the crack she could see what looked to be a huge mess… props strewn about the floor, bottles knocked over… all the signs of a struggle. “Stay outside Soffy.” Somnya was stern as ever, pressing a small indent on the intricate engraving on her prosthetic right arm to begin charging the small inbuilt weapon, expecting to find a fight as she opened the door and entered. “Bob Gunerson?”

“Hello there,” a smooth, masculine voice replied. The hover-trailer was rather roomy for what it was, but its interior was strewn with items that were so unrelated to one another that its mere appearance was somehow borderline damaging to the mind. In one corner lay what looked to be the magical tools necessary to gain control of the multiverse, while on an armor rack, a full suit of armor clearly designed for something not human sat. Its surface blackened by Taianese lasers, the armor had clearly seen use to the naked eye, a twisted hodgepodge of an energy weapon propped up against the wall. Meanwhile, there were several costumes strewn about as well, ranging from what looked like pool boy, to pizza delivery guy, plumber and so forth.

And of course, blended into this motley assortment of props, was Bob himself. Unlike his unassuming name, the creature’s large carapace was a strong, sturdy shell patterned with whorls and swirls. Floating in the air, many suction-cupped tentacles dangling from within, its mass turned as an all too tortoise-like head set its four-eyed gaze on the elf and her I’ee friends. “Sorry things are a mess,” the small, pendant-like voice-box Bob wore around his neck spoke. “I”m doing a bunch of small gigs on the side to help fund Azalea Company,” he explained, one of its many limbs setting down a script for yet another role. “I have to admit, I thought the Alliance was done asking questions, but I guess that never really goes away!” the creature’s voicebox nervously chuckled, a tentacle rubbing the leathery skin of its neck in a way that was all too human.

Somnya, ever the soldier, didn’t let her eyes linger on Bob. She kept looking around to see if there was someone else there, perhaps someone hiding behind something with a gun ready to shoot. “It looks like there was a fight and-”

“IS BOB IN THERE!?” Soffy shouted from outside.

“WE WANT TO SEE BOB!” Torrace added.

The two I’ee were now pressed right up against the door, trying to get their eyes to where they could see inside. “IT’S BOB!”

“HI BOB!”

“WE LOVE YOUR SHOW BOB!”

Somnya looked visibly angry, but forced herself to relax a bit, “This is not Alliance business but… some of my crew are fans. Would you mind speaking to them for a bit?”

“Oh, happily!” the Sutakame’s mouth opened slightly. Like some tortoises, the creature looked like it was smiling as it did so, but the brief glimpse of its second set of jaws set within its mouth reminded the elvish officer that he was dangerous. Turning its attention to the two I’ee, Bob asked, “And who is visiting me today? I’m very happy you enjoyed my work, but what specifically?” Despite the friendly, jovial voice pouring out of the little speaker it wore however, Somnya felt the unmistakable sensation of being touched, the location immaterial. ”Did something bad happen? Did someone die?” a voice asked the woman in her head.

“BOB!” The two I’ee shouted as they rushed in, holding up their magical wands, autograph book, and marker. The jet black Torrace and the Yellow and black Soffy both jumping up and down with excitement, “WE LOVE MAGICAL GIRL AYUMU!” Soffy shouted, trying to find a place where she could hug bob while her sister added, “AUTOGRAPH?!” The two I’ee barely seemed content with just jumping up and down in place, and were soon scurrying around to either side to get a look at Bob, “OOOH, THOSE JAWS ARE SCARY!”, “THE TENTACLES ARE HUGE!”...

Somnya just stood there, letting the I’ee get it out of their system as they tried to hug Bob as best they could. “They enjoy the family-friendly Magical Girl Ayumu,” Somnya said, trying to clue Bob in on how to best handle the I’ee, “... I also happen to think your other work is inspirational for the Second Children. A co-worker and I both have to deal with Aikawa Ayumu’s likeness. It would be beneficial for us if we could locate some of her ‘family’. You happen to be the only Sutakame contact we know of.”

“Oh wow, real fame - I’m being asked for autographs!” Bob’s voice-speaker exclaimed, several octopus-like tentacles reaching out to sign for the two I’ee . ”Oh god, they must never know,” the creature’s voice shuddered in fear within Somnya’s head. “The jaws are for munching on veggies without having to hold them with my tentacles,” he explained to Soffy and Torrace. Another limb coiled into a fist as Bob coughed into it in awkward discomfort. “W - well, I’m glad you’re a fan of my work too!” he tried to enthusiastically reply. “Though, I think you asking me that is a bit silly. It’s like me asking if you know Legolas,” Bob pointed out. “More importantly,” he continued in Somnya’s head, ”After I got the genes necessary to become one of them, I sorta fell out of contact with the Sutakame,” the former human admitted.

“OOoohh…” Soffy said, clinging onto one of Bob’s tentacles as Torace held up her wand, the I’ee hoping to get all of their stuff signed by the famous Bob Gunnerson!

“You must have some idea of how to get in contact with them.” Somnya said, crossing her arms just under her chest… mostly to avoid touching any of the mess of items strewn about the room. “How did you make contact with them under favorable terms in the first place?”

“Well, I guess I got some idea,” the former human admitted to the elf. Tentacles reaching about, Bob seemed to be excitedly signing for the two I’ee, reciprocating their affections by petting them on their heads. However, Bob again rubbed his neck in embarrassment. “Well, I didn’t. It was actually really embarrassing, and I was the only one that got out of it.” Whispering in her mind out of habit, the Sutakame added, ”One of them said something like, ‘You tell the best stories, so name something I can give back to you,’ and that’s how I became a Sutakame. Though, I think someone else before you did manage to make contact though,” the creature remembered.

“So your conversion was a matter of chance?” Somnya clarified, “Perhaps you could at least point us in the right direction to make contact? Such information could end up saving millions of lives. Perhaps you could also help me with understanding how you came to be in such close contact with the Sutakame?”

“I dunno,” Bob began, a hint of nervousness creeping into his voice. “You see - “

“HAAAAI BOB!” a short Taianese tigress with wide hips stormed in. “We’re gonna go get some sushi and - ohmygosh the waspers are so adorable!” she exclaimed, eyes bright with excitement. “Can I hug them?!”

“Oh no, I think I’ll stay here today,” Bob replied. “Though, I think the two are ok with hugging?” he half-answered, half asked, turning his eyes to settle on the two I’ee..

The I’ee seemed to Freeze up, going as wide-eye’d as someone could when they had compound eyes that didn’t really go ‘wide’ in the usual sense. The two creature’s screaming “AYUMU!” at the same time, quickly running up to her and hugging her from either side, one I’ee ending up on each let as they held out markers and magic wands, “CAN WE GET YOUR AUTOGRAPH TOO!? CAN YOU DO THE TRANSFORM!?”

Somnya gave Ayumu the side-eye for a moment before she got over Ayumu not actually being Hoshiko, “When you are ready.” She said to Bob.

“Doki Doki Dynamo!~” Ayumu energetically struck a pose, her short-shorts and t-shirt vanishing in a kaleidoscope of light, only to be replaced with a frilly magical girl’s outfit. Throughout the whole transformation sequence, Bob simply stared at Somnya, and despite the tortoise-like appearance, somehow exuded the feeling that he had an expression that said, ‘Really?’ There was no way he was going to start on that topic with this going on! “Ta-da!~” Ayumu winked, forming a heart with her fingers.

“OOOOOHHHHH!!!!” The I’ee seemed quite impressed, sitting down and clapping with the frontmost pair of their legs.

“Anyways, I gotta go - you guys can tag along if you’d like!” she waved. And like that, she was gone, the two I’ee excitedly giving chase.

Bob sighed, his turtle-beaked maw opening in relief. “I’m shocked that my agent was right. Those PG-13 versions of the show must be making a killing,” he dabbed the side of his head with a white cloth. Tiptoeing around what seemed to be excited children was always a nightmare. “Anyways, it turned out the Sutakame were trading with crime rings for more people, and they ‘insisted’ that one of the rings give me safe passage back,” the man-turned-creature-turned- porn-star whispered in her mind.

“Anyways, I can’t really tell you much,” the tiny speaker around his neck began. “Confidentiality and all that. You’ll have to go elsewhere.” Despite this though, the elf heard him in her head again, ”Actually, I also work as a substitute teacher, and one of my students managed to get to them and escape.” It was all too clear now that he didn’t want to be implicated or otherwise pulled into this. “Though, she came back pregnant from what I heard. Part of me still wonders if I should have just done what she wanted and impregnated her instead, but that’s pretty scary too.” Bob sighed again.

“I understand,” Somnya said, not really understanding as she bought herself a few more moments to speak. Was someone listening in? Was he worried she was bug’d? She clearly needed to find out how to extract certain information without verbally asking for it. “If you are not giving me elsewhere to go, then there seems to be little else to discuss. I can make some funding available to you as a ‘thank you’ and perhaps you would be interested in making another adult film with Ayumu featuring an excursion to the Kiwomian homeworld? I would be happy to share your production costs for such an inspiring piece.”

“I’m already stretched thin as it is here in Kowloon, what with Lorani Province and working with Azalea Company,” he replied. ”Here’s a few numbers you can try contacting people with. I can’t promise anything, but you didn’t get these from me,” the voice in Somnya’s head insisted, a tentacle scribbling down numbers onto a piece of paper. “Still, thanks. I appreciate the offer, and it’s nice to meet some fans,” the former man admitted.

“I appreciate you signing autographs for the I’ee.” Somnya said, picking up the paper without looking at it and sliding it into her coat pocket, “If there is anything else feel free to reach out…”
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