It happened about a year ago…
By Oculus, with art by Muffin
“Fwuffy wub nyu mummah!”
Daisy loved fluffies! Her parents had brought her to the Advocacy for the Adoption of Biotoys (ABAP) building, which featured a wide variety of rehabilitated ferals, as well as fluffies from ethical breeders. There were all kinds of fluffy breeds that one could meet at ABAP, whether it was the playful and loyal Waggytail breed, the intelligent but quirky Squeakyfriend, the pudgy and endearing Carpdime or the incredibly remarkable Pinkyfluffy.
Aside from looking at the variety of fluffies on sale, the building also provided a lot of activities that one could do with foals. There was a pool where children could spend swimming trained seafluffies, as well as storytelling sessions from various grey fluffies with many a tale, both fictional and anecdotal. While it wasn’t exactly an amusement park, the last time she remembered having this much fun was while she was at the Six Flags in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Looking at her watch, she was surprised to see that three hours had passed since the noontime when she arrived. Time really seems to fly when one is having fun around fluffies!
Captain Johann Anderson was getting ready for bed. Life was simple for a man who had spent a good two decades of his life on many an exploit. Aside from rising to become a shipping magnate, familiarity with that wild playboy Samuel Adams had gotten involved in one too many a caper, whether it was on the run from a religious cult in South America, to infiltrating despotic Kalkulistan to rescue a friend of theirs.
“Daddeh gon hab guud sweepies?”
That was Erik, his loyal fluffy of the AIDS breed. Johann had Erik for almost a decade now, and has treasured him quite well. Despite being rather pudgy, Erik had found himself in more than one adventure with the Captain, whether it was being stranded in the middle of the Pacific while being hunted by pirates, or having to put up with the antics of a soprano they kept bumping into.
“Yes Erik. It is getting late, and I do need some sleep.”
“Can Erik hab sum speshul wawa ‘fore sweepies?”
That lil ol’ drunkard. But there was something comforting about having a fluffy who could hold his own liquor.
“But of course.”
Taking his whiskey flask, he pours enough for Erik to enjoy in his little dish.
“Fwuffy wub nyu mummah!”
Daisy was so happy to see the cute little Carpdime foal that was being offered on sale! She loved all kinds of fluffies, with their cute loveable tails, their adorable fluffspeak language, and their earnest nature, but she loved Carpdimes the most. And this particular Carpdime foal looked so perfect with its purple coat and eyes. Of course, Daisy had to meet the foal’s mother – after all, that’s what her own parents said about buying pets from a shop, and the foal’s mother was very happy to meet Daisy. Right now, her parents were doing the big grown-up business that she couldn’t understand, so for now, Daisy was playing with the foal she was about to adopt.
“Daisy am pwettiest hyummeh! Gib huggies?”
And Daisy gave her the biggest hug she could.
Existing in an unfathomable darkness, a satellite hovers around a continuum within the deep ink of the Void. Few know of its existence, let alone know of the hands that had built this artificial platform. Although anchored to our reality by a unique form of gravity, this mechanism was designed to operate outside the boundaries of spacetime for the sake of observing temporal anomalies and reality modifications that could not be perceived by denizens operating within the continuum. It had been aware of the existence of a particular life-form, made by the hubris, that had managed to bend the laws of reality in small proportions, but so far there was no particular cataclysm or noteworthy event that signified a large-scale attempt to affect the reality the platform was bound to.
Something was wrong.
Daisy felt like something was missing. As she opened her eyes, she noticed that what she was hugging had disappeared.
“Where did the little princess go?”
She turned back to the enclosure, and saw that the foal’s mother was also missing. Not only that, but the entire area of the fluffies of the breed…. What breed was it? She was sure she knew its name, they were so popular. Nervous, she ran towards her father.
“What is it?”
“The little princess, she’s gone!!”
Looking rather annoyed, her father said, “What are you talking about? And have you made up your mind on what fluffy you want to buy?”
Absent-mindedly, Daisy blurted out, “But there was this Carpdime fluffy I wanted to get.”
“What the hell is a Carpdime?”
Daisy stared absent-mindedly at her father as she responded, “I don’t know.”
Daisy was lost in her thoughts. Why was an entire section of the story empty? Why did she have a memory of meeting so many cute fluffies of a breed that supposedly didn’t exist? And why could she remember a foal with the nicest mauve eyes and coat? Was she just dreaming?
“Pwincess Daisy? Am otay?”
Daisy looked over her shoulder, and saw the little foal that she was hugging not too long ago. Daisy felt happy but a little confused.
“You shouldn’t let her do that by the way,” said Daisy’s father, “Carpdime foals can be a little careless.”
As she slowly cradled the foal back into her arms, Daisy turned around, and saw the Carpdime section of the store. Yes, they were always here. They never disappeared, and everybody knew what a Caprdime was.
Daisy was perplexed. What happened just now?
Something deep within the satellite stirs. Temporal anomalies were a usual occurrence in the reality that it orbited. However, the significance of this glitch was larger than anything it had sensed before. There had been attempts to abscond or spirit away specific individuals of a life form, but he never anticipated a wide removal of a specific making of this breed, bearing the marking of a specific maker. Processing the data, the satellite sends out its signal.
Tap tap tap.
The eyes of the mariner could barely open, and could see a faint red creature tapping its hooves at the base of his bed. While he was usually patient with his little munchkin, he would prefer not to be disturbed without reason.
“What is it Erik? Its late at night!”
“Daddeh daddeh! Dewe am big twabbo! Tumbwie am hewe!!”
The name caught him off-guard.
“Mistah Joe! Wowstest twabbo am hewe!”
As the cyan coloured fluffy said this, various posters depicting a Carpdime foal along with the words “MISSING” in bold red lettering started to materialize around the Captain’s room.
Johann was feeling rather annoyed. He had spent almost an entire day trying to reach Sam for the sake of this meeting. After all, he wasn’t his personal secretary, and while he knew that Sam was committed to the trip he was taking at the moment, the situation seemed rather dire.
Staring at the conference messaging system, Johann could see the first person to enter the conversation. The video showed an image of a man wearing glasses, a rather unkempt beard and a T-Shirt with some greaser marks on it. Behind him was entire rows of comic books and merchandise from various properties. This was Lester who, despite his appearances, was actually one of the founding members of ABAP, though this fact was not known to the general public.
“I heard the news, and I have news of my own.”
“It’s good to see you again Lester.”
A second face appeared within the monitor, and it belonged to a surprisingly jovial and oddly hands-on creature in a black robe. Not many were privy to the face behind the hood. Johann always felt a chill when he saw the presence of this particular individual, despite his chipper voice. For this was Derek Craven, a man who had recently invested a large amount of capital into Hasbio. And he was a man who had little time for informalities.
“I heard that there was a significant reality glitch?”
“Yes, I had processed one.”
The voice that answered came from a new picture that came onto the screen. The image was that of a green LED light within a camera lens. In many ways, it resembled the infamous eye of HAL 9000 from 2001: A space odyssey, but with a comforting green as opposed to a harsh red. The voice was that of Zea, the satellite that Identified the disturbance in reality.
“About a week ago, there was an attempt to cancel a number of orders for the Carpdime breed. This occurred during a moment when there was a reality glitch that resulted in the temporary non-existence of the breed.”
“Sounds worrying,” chimed in Lester, as he continued, “considering that was not too long after the sudden disappearance of members of the Fluffycommissions breed. Were any fluffies missing?”
“There were no changes to the order or the catalogue, but what was worrying was the severity of the reality glitch. For a brief moment, almost all knowledge of the existence of the Carpdime breed had been wiped from collective human memory within the Americas.”
His hood unflinching, Craven asked “And what happened to Foxhoarder?”
“I had recently purchased an entire stack of Part 4 of Fwuffy’s Bizawwe Adventuwes when the entire order disappeared before my very eyes.” Lester said this as he took his two closed palms and quickly opened then, giving the onomatopoeic sound of “Poof! Just, disappeared like that.
And what was even worrying was my Limited Edition of Fwuffy’s Bizarre Adventuwe Part 1, signed and autographed by the genetic engineer behind the Foxhoarder breed and subsequent merchandise, had disappeared from my inventory.”
The Captain nodded. Though this was not severe as entire breed disappearing, this random vanishing of fluffy related material did coincide with the early disappearances of the Fluffycommissions breed.
Lester, looking rather annoyed, asked, “Where the hell is Sam?”
In a diplomatic manner, the Marlin tried to explain “He may somewhere in the middle of the Pacific at the moment. He did plan his trip beforehand.”
“Well, did Sam tell you about anything unusual that we didn’t know of?”
Marlin held his hand to his mouth. Then there was something that he could recollect.
“Around about April of this year, Sam mentioned that a family friend of his got lost to the Void.”
“Who is this friend of his?”
“I only met him once. Seemed rather plain-looking, fairly ordinary looking chap. Not that different from you, Lester.”
“I see. Did Sam mention anything else about him?”
“Not much, save that he was merely interested in looking to buy a fluffy.”
“I think we’re deviating” said Derek, his calm voice alerting the attention of Lester and the Marlin. “I’ve had a vested interest in Hasbio and the Fluffy pony market, as I do have an attachment to these creatures. However, I am quite certain that Hasbio is at risk currently. The problem, however, is that a lot of scientific expertise and knowledge is attached to Hasbio that, I believe, does not exist elsewhere.”
“That is true – a lot of content regarding specific fluffy breeds, experiments, blueprints all exist primarily within Hasbio,” Zea explained in his artificial voice, as he added,” Another significant reality breech might potentially wipe out our efforts.”
“But what can be done?”
“On my end, I have been slowly combing the internet systems of this reality for excess data regarding Hasbio and the fluffy pony breeds they have created. However, this is a slow process and I have not been able to access Hasbio’s archive directly.”
Derek clasped his palms, as he states, “We need to expedite a means to secure as much information about Hasbio and its fluffy breeds as possible. Should anything to Hasbio, it will have a negative impact on the fluffy pony market as they are still the largest producer of fluffy ponies.”
A few minutes passed, and the call ended. There was going to be another call soon, hopefully with Sam this time. But Craven’s assertion bothered the Marlin a bit.
How were they going to get all that data?
It was a rather nondescript day at a particularly hidden comic book shop in a typical big city. Lester was proceeding to lecture a customer who had gotten his facts.
“No, you are confusing Fwuffy Bizarre Adventure with the Unicorn who flew. Two very different comics by two very different fluffy engineers. The former was by Foxhoarder, the latter was by Squeakyfriend.”
The man at the counter had a child in tow. He just wanted to get a comic to give his kid to read.
“Aren’t they all the same anyway?”
“Please,” asserted Lester, as he elaborated, “One is an actual children’s story, and the other is a mature action adventures series meant for adults. If you actually took the time to read-“
“And I don’t have time to read. Bye!”
Lester sighed as he saw the man walk away from the store, pulling his curious child along. It is a shame that these people didn’t take the time to understand the nuances regarding the different fluffy creators, and the various stories some of them had developed to market with their own particular breed of product.
Lester then noticed a woman wearing a dark magenta hood with a star motif on it. This woman had taken the copy of the “Unicorn who flew” comic from the man who had put it aside earlier, and was now placing it on the counter, along with a hundred dollar bill.
“Madam, please, this is too large a bill.”
Taking the comic in hand, the woman proceeds to walk out of his comic shop. Lester picks up the bill, and then notices that there is a message taped to the back of the dollar bill. As he reads it, he raises an eyebrow.
It was an early morning in Sweden when the Marlin received a call from Lester. The Captain had done his morning exercises with Erik, and was going to have breakfast.
“Johann, are you there?”
“I’m here Lester, whats up?”
“I was looking through the Hasbio database, when I found a loophole within their system. Apparently, their website was so poorly kept up in recent years that certain things could be accessed and weren’t patched up.”
“What are we talking here?”
“I’m talking a rough listing of every experiment, blueprint and breed that exists within Hasbio. I can secure some of the experiment data, but it wasn’t everything. However, it’s a rather exhaustive listing of everything that Hasbio did. I already submitted some of it to Zea, so that it would be shielded away from any potential reality breech. I’m also sending you a copy that you can check out.”
The Captain brought his finger to the folder provided by Lester. Within seconds, his tablet is filled with a long listening, along with various images and blueprints, depicting almost all of Hasbio’s files that had existed at that current point in time. His mouth agape at the extent of this information, the Marlin asked, ”Jesus, how did you manage to get all this?”
“I had help from someone.”
“I’ll have to tell you later.”
Lester said this upon noticing another participant entering the call. It was Zea.
“It was a simple flaw, but this information has proved beneficial to our ends. I was able to calibrate my systems to gleaning what data I could from this. I also have managed to rework some of my temporal circuits to find specific moments aligning to certain events mentioned in the listing but its not exhaustive.”
“That’s nice and all,” sighs the Captain, as he asked, “but what’s that supposed to mean?”
“I might be able to provide certain contexts regarding certain events based on what I can access from the spacetime record. I repeat, though, this is not exhaustive.”
“At least we have an external archive of almost everything that existed at Hasbio should it fall.”
A chill ran down the spines of the human participants of the call, signaling Mr Craven’s arrival.
“If it falls, Mr Craven. The current head of Hasbio claims that she’s not going to shut down the company just yet.”
“You say that, but we’ve seen data losses, and the few temporal anomalies and reality glitches has nearly resulted in the loss of the work of some specific engineers. I just have a feeling that something bad is going to happen.”
“Bad in what way?”
It was the way he said Bad. It felt like the grim reaper, walking up to you with scythe in hand, saying that a situation was “bad”. There seemed something unintentionally prophetic about that.
As the call continued, the Captain noticed that he was getting an email on a private account of his. Johann inconspicuously noticed that it was from Lester.
The following 24 hours felt like the longest Marlin had experienced in a long while. He could have taken the specialized doors that Hasbio and ABAP had formulated to achieve immediate teleportation throughout the world. But the use of this method would be noticed by certain parties. And while Zea could be trusted to some extent, there was a more significant enemy that the Captain had to keep in mind. According to Lester, the person who wanted to meet Marlin wanted to meet him at a particular bunker located on the East Coast of the United States, along a particular highway. Lester recognized the co-ordinate to be one of the bunkers for the Fluffy Defence League. Knowledge of the league was known to the founders of ABAP and Zea, but was not known to Craven yet.
Upon entering the bunker, the Captain was greeted by Tumbly, the same Tumbly who had met him a few days ago to tell him about the temporary disappearance of the Carpdime breed.
“Huwwo again, Kapten!”
The Captain knew that there was something special about this particular Tumbly, as he tipped his hat.
“Hello Tumbly. Is the nice lady here?”
Tumbly nodded. He then proceeded to roll all the way towards a room marked, “Pway Woom – 1”
Grasping the metal handle of this door, The Captain opened it. He was greeted with the sight of a woman in a purple hoodie, with a star motif.
“Bwockies am su fun!!”
This came out of an adult fluffy with a pure white coat and red eyes. He was clearly an albino. But something about the design of this fluffy made him different from any other breed that the Captain was familiar with.
The woman had sensed the door was open. As she turned around, the Captain recognized a very familiar face. A face he had seen quite often, being a close friend of Samuel Adams.
Within moments, he shot out a quick, “You!”
“Hello Captain Anderson,” she greeted.
Trying to remain composed, the Captain quickly asked “Does your br… I mean, does Sam know you are here?”
The Captain had to correct himself. He was not entirely wrong, but he was not entirely right either.
“He doesn’t. And to be honest, I don’t want anyone else to know.”
“Why here? And why now?”
The woman turned away from the Captain, as she stroked the back of the albino fluffy.
“Some folks wanted to bury their past with Hasbio. And maybe they’re right. They had managed to delete before, and some of it may really and truly be gone forever. It seems to be that, no matter what, these things will cause nothing but trouble.”
The Captain could feel his fists clenching at the preposterous nature of this statement.
“You say that, and yet you helped us. Why?”
“I don’t know. Maybe the belief that you could do something with the information? I can sense that he’s coming for me. He’s been trying for a while, and maybe I’ll just let him do so.”
“You can’t just say that! You got involved because of him. Are you willing to just give it all up?”
After a long and pregnant pause, the woman answered with a firm, “Yes.”
Getting up, she then turns to the Captain as she said, “Maybe you should too. Maybe fluffies really aren’t worth all this trouble.”
Still banging the wooden block together, the albino fluffy remains oblivious to the ongoing drama as he squeals a happy, “Yay!”
The Captain felt pensive. The woman did mean it. But she was also very critical. Not only to Marlin, not only to Zea, but even to Craven.
“You know, Samuel Adams always tells me that, despite everything, fluffies do have potential. Recently, the creator of Carpdime breed returned, and had been working to try and correct the flaws of his fluffies, as well as be more ethical in his approach. I think there is something fluffies that brought him back.”
The hooded woman remains silent. Ruminating, she communicated her thoughts.
“Maybe you’re right. But there are some things that cannot be avoided. And maybe its better that the future is left to the newer hands that can handle it better than we could.”
The hooded woman then proceeds to walk towards the door. As she waves her hands around, the Captain felt like he saw the faint glimmer of a purple aura around her hand. The woman promptly grasps the handle. Instead of the corridors of the bunker, The Captain sees the darkness of the Void. Knowing what she was about to do, he runs after her. However, the hooded woman jumps through, and slams the bunker door shut.
The Captain opens the door, and is greeted with the corridor.
Two weeks later, the Hasbio Headquarters disappeared from the face of the Earth, and with it, its particular archive of information related to every breed, experiment and event related to the development of the fluffy pony biotoy. The disappearance was felt worldwide, as various branch offices, which relied on communication with the Headquarters, experience a sudden absence of information. One of the parties that expressed dismay was Muffin Co. The genetic engineer Muffin, who was an ex-Hasbio employee, had not backed up her work at Hasbio. In a thoughtful moment of outreach, Lester and the Captain managed to locate the supposedly missing work, and return to its rightful owner. But Muffin was only one person. There were other engineers who had heard about the sudden disappearance of Hasbio, and were seeking to reconnect, but might not be able to get back a lot of their information.
In his study at Haddockspike manor, the Captain reflected on the events of the past month. The world that he once knew had irrevocably changed, and there was a possibility that more danger could be afoot. He would have to start finding out more about Sam’s family friend, and why this young lad attracted so much attention from the one they call “Hasbio Sam”. He also wondered where the CEO of Hasbio, the woman he met in that bunker all those weeks ago, had disappeared to.
“Daddeh? Am daddeh otay?”
The Captain was initially startled, but was relieved to find that it was just Erik, a little concerned for him.
“I’m okay, Erik. Just, a lot has been happening.”
“Daddeh gonn hab big advencha soonsies?”
That was a rather unusual question. And yet, despite the foreboding nature of the question, the Captain smiled. Picking Erik up and letting in his lap, the Captain could feel his youthful heart calling as he answered, “Yes, I think a big adventure might be coming soon.”
Erik threw up his fluffy fore legs in joy as he said, “Yaysies! Fwuffy wub advenchas!”
Sighing, Erik nodded as he said, “Yes, but one has to prepare for them first.”
And silently, the Captain hopes the Sam and his friend were ready for whatever may come.