"When You Think You're Gonna Sink" by NobodyAtAll

Warning: minor spoilers for the Carnage Saga.

Note: read “Little Hydrox”, “The Super Hoskins Brothers Super Show” and “A Science Of Uncertainty And An Art Of Probability” first.

It’s another normal morning at the Super Hoskins Brothers’ apartment, and as Tony gets started on breakfast, the brothers’ fluffy Yoshi already numming a bowl of Captain Fluffy breakfast kibble, Lou finishes his morning routine. He’s already gotten dressed, and just needs to groom his mustache.

Lou and Tony were born in Brooklyn, but they both eventually followed their uncle across America, to the city that so many of the ChaotiX call home.

The brothers and their fluffy are ChaotiX members, but instead of wearing battle suits, nano or otherwise, Lou and Tony wear their trusty plumber’s uniforms on the job, whether they’re fixing leaky toilets or fighting the forces of evil.

They have gotten some upgrades, though. They’ve gotten new overalls, shirts and caps. While identical to their old uniforms, the new clothes are made of a reactive, color-changing smart cloth, invented by Valerie, based on her father’s ReaperCloth.

When the brothers are under the effects of fireblooms, Lou and Tony’s overalls will turn red and green respectively, and their shirts and caps will turn white. It’s so their teammates know that they’re using fireblooms.

It’s fireproof, and also stain resistant.

The brothers have a steady supply of fireblooms. These bizarre flowers that bestow temporary pyrokinesis upon whoever eats them aren’t native to Modern Earth, but the ChaotiX has been growing fireblooms at the School ever since the mission to Primal Earth. There’s even firebloom-scented fluffy shampoo.

That shampoo doesn’t actually give fluffies pyrokinesis, calm down.

But actual fireblooms do work on fluffies, as Yoshi can attest. After the incident when he got into the brothers’ stash, they’ve kept that trump card up their sleeves for special occasions.

And the brothers have gotten new shoes. Identical to their trusty brown shoes, but with High-Jump tech integrated.

With those, their Power Gloves, their warhammers and their new Supercharged Tactical Attack Reflector Badges, the brothers have become very super indeed. They’re playing with power.

Tony feels like they should have some way to change their size, and had heard from the ChaotiX’s members on Primal Earth that there are mushrooms with that effect growing in some parts of the pseudo-prehistoric planet.

After some experimenting, the Nerd Squad discovered that the mushrooms work as promised, instead of merely making the user hallucinate that they’ve changed size. There are red ones that make the eater grow, and blue ones that make the eater shrink.

The Nerd Squad is cultivating those mushrooms to study their unusual properties in detail, and Valerie happily offered to let the Hoskinses help themselves.

Lou firmly vetoed that idea.

He can’t stand mushrooms.

Once Lou is dressed and groomed, he walks into the living room/kitchen. It’s a bit of a small apartment. It doesn’t have a dedicated saferoom, so Yoshi usually sleeps in Lou’s room.

“Smells good, Tone.”

Tony serves up a frying pan full of eggs and bacon onto two plates, with a few slices of fried bread.

“Yosh, you wanna slice?”

Yoshi looks up from his bowl of kibble. The pieces of kibble are red, white and blue, just like Captain Fluffy, and there’s little star-shaped pieces of dehydrated marshmallow in there too.

“Yoh-shee stiww gut wike hawf a boww hewe, but suwe.”

Tony flips one of the slices up into the air with the spatula.


And Yoshi’s sticky, stretchy tongue snags the slice of fried bread before it lands.


Then he swallows it whole.

If you’ve forgotten, Yoshi is X-Positive, the only one of this apartment’s three occupants with any innate powers. Not only can his tongue stretch like a frog’s, or rather, like a chameleon’s, he can swallow things much bigger than a fluffy without hurting himself.

Of course, there’s still a limit to what he can swallow. He can’t eat stone, or metal.

But if he spits out what he’s got in his mouth, it can be a devastating attack.

“Fanks, uncuw Tonee.”

“No prob, buddy.”

The brothers sit down at the dining table and start their breakfast.

They only get a few bites before Lou’s phone starts ringing.

:musical_note: “Foot on the pedal, never ever false metal! Engine running hotter than a boiling kettle! My job ain’t a job, it’s a damn good time! City to city, I’m running my rhymes!” :musical_note:

Lou answers it as Tony keeps eating.

“Super Hoskins Brothers, no leak too small! Huh? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Oh, that’s not good. Don’t touch it, leave it to the experts. We’ll be there ASAP. You, uh, you got a temporary solution? Oh, of course. Don’t worry, ma’am, we deal with this kinda thing all the time.”

He hangs up, giving his brother a serious look.

“Better eat quickly, Tony. We’ve got our first job of the day.”

“Where is it?”

“Little Hydrox. So, uh, we probably shouldn’t bring Yoshi along.”

Yoshi polishes off the last bits of kibble.

“Yoh-shee nu mine wawas, daddeh.”

“I know, but it’s Little Hydrox, so there’s a lot of water.”

“Come on, Lou. If Yoshi falls in the river, those Hydroxians won’t let him drown. Hey, aquafluffies were created for them, they know how bad water is for regular fluffies.”

“An Yoh-shee nu weawwy am a weg-yoo-waw fwuffy…”

Lou laughs, conceding the point.

Va bene, mi sembra giusto.

It’s not long before the brothers and their fluffy are making their way to Little Hydrox in their trusty plumbing van, Lou driving, Yoshi sitting on Tony’s lap.

They still have the pickup truck that Lou used to deliver manure in, because they couldn’t find anyone willing to buy a truck that smells like shit.

And they tried to get the smell out, to no avail.

Yoshi has no complaints about the smell of feces. When he first met Lou, he was covered in crap, and he had a munstah chasing him, so for Yoshi, that smelly pickup truck was like Wonder Woman’s invisible plane.

Landing in that dinosaur turd saved his life in the long run.

Even though he had a pretty bad double case of pink eye afterwards.

But that was easily treated.

As Lou drives past the Dancer, dancing outside a clothes store as he loves to do, the brothers wave at him.

“There he goes again, Tone.”

“Hey, at least he stops to take breaks now.”

“Yoh-shee stiww nu weawwy knu wai he du dat.”

As the van reaches a red light, Lou hits the brakes.

“Maybe it’s for the attention, or maybe he just likes to dance.”

And as the trio waits for the green light, they see Calvin and Marley swing past on webs.

Tony waves, but the Omegas didn’t notice.

“Man, that looks like fun. We should get some of those web shooters Jack makes, Lou.”

“What, like we don’t have enough gadgets? I don’t think those web shooters are our kinda thing, Tony.”

“Would you rather swing around with a plunger on a rope or something?”

“That sounds even dumber.

“Yeah, I was just spitballing.”

Lou shrugs.

“It wasn’t your dumbest idea, bro. Remember when we were kids, and you said you wanted to be a ghost hunter when you grew up? You were scared of ghosts until you were nine!”

Tony laughs in an obviously feigned, sarcastic manner.

“Oh, this coming from the guy who couldn’t decide if he wanted to be a carpenter, a doctor, an artist, or a go-kart driver! Being a ghost hunter doesn’t seem so dumb now, does it? We are friends with a ghost, Lou! And it wasn’t that long ago that the Spirits of Sin were running wild through these very streets!”

Lou finds himself shrugging again, unable to argue about that.

“Fair enough. It’s like Papa’s old gorilla story: at the time, it sounded ridiculous, but compared to all of the crazy stuff we’ve seen since then, it doesn’t just sound possible, it sounds plausible. I mean, a gorilla busting into a construction site and throwing barrels around isn’t as crazy as dinosaur people, or wizard robots.”

“I’m just glad we didn’t go into construction. Papa could never shake the feeling that the gorilla was holding a grudge.”

“Which would explain why he stayed at home, every time we went to the Central Park Zoo. Alright, green light. Finally.

As Lou hits the gas again, Yoshi gives him a curious look.

“Su wai did yu bof bee-come pwum-uws?”

Keeping his eyes on the road, Lou smiles warmly.

“It’s in the blood, Yosh! Our Grandpapa was a plumber, and Papa joined the family trade after his stint in construction.”

“You’ve got that in common with him, Lou. You couldn’t drive cross-country delivering manure forever. I still don’t know how you ended up with that gig.”

“Honestly, I feel like it was meant to be. Because of that, I was in the right time and the right place to meet Yoshi, after he escaped from Primal Earth. He was covered in shit, I had a truck full of shit, and he was being tracked by his smell. If I had moved here when you did… if I wasn’t in Manhattan when Yoshi got out of the sewers… I don’t wanna think about what would have happened next.”

“Da dinotites wud haf da wock, an Yoh-shee wud be wunch.”

Lou shudders at the thought.

“Yup, that about sums it up.”

When the trio reaches Little Hydrox, the city’s Hydroxian neighborhood, Lou parks outside one house, a canal on the opposite side of the street from the houses.

A few Hydroxian children are swimming through the canal with their aquafluffies. Someone suddenly jumping into the canal isn’t an uncommon occurrence in this part of town.

Like the buildings back on the ol’ home planet, the buildings in this neighborhood are round, built with white stone, and decorated with sea shells.

There’s a lot of water features in this neighborhood. Hydroxians must immerse themselves in water frequently to survive.

There’s been a recent addition, too: a network of large tubes of water, suspended above the streets, through which Hydroxians and aquafluffies are swimming. There are platforms at specific points with maps bearing colored lines, and at those platforms, the travellers are getting in and out of the tubes.

It is, essentially, the Hydroxian equivalent to the subway.

They could use the sewers to get around, but that would be very disgusting. Again, Yoshi can attest, and again, as gross as it may be, it once saved his life.

When one is being chased through the sewers by a pursuer who is tracking one by one’s scent, a thick layer of dinosaur feces is like an invisibility cloak.

Tony looks up at the tubes.

“Hey, there’s an idea for a new gadget: something that would let us swim like Hydroxians! Like a fancy scuba suit or something.”

“It wouldn’t have to look like a Hydroxian, would it?”

“Mebbeh it cud wook wike a fwoggy in-sted?”

Lou stares blankly at Yoshi.

“A frog? Where’d you even get that idea, Yosh?”

“Yoh-shee nu knu, Yoh-shee jus feew wike it wud soot daddeh an uncuw Tonee fow sum wee-sun.”

“…Let’s put a pin in this, we’ve got a job to do.”

The brothers and their fluffy walk from their van into the house’s front garden, and as they enter the garden, they see Gyll and his wife Turo sitting in a pond, and their aquafluffy, Neptune, doing laps in the pond.

There’s a large amount of aquatic flora in and around the pond, most of which is not native to Earth. Such as waterleaf, which, when eaten by non-Hydroxians, temporarily confers the power to breathe underwater.

For Hydroxians, it’s just a pretty plant, because they can already breathe underwater.

Unlike regular fluffies, aquafluffies feel right at home in water. They’re amphibious, so they can survive on dry land too, but like the Hydroxians whose DNA was incorporated into the aquafluffy genome, aquafluffies must immerse themselves in water often.

Gyll and his family are Land Hydroxians, identifiable by their dark green scales. Land Hydroxians have adapted to dry land, so they don’t need to get some dip as often as Sea Hydroxians.

The Deep Hydroxians rarely venture out of their depths, so it’s mostly Land Hydroxians who emigrate to other planets.

Gyll and Turo’s children, Fynn, Webb, and Skyl, are currently at school. Their school has a number of students of extraterrestrial origin, so they can accommodate their Hydroxian students’ needs.

If you feel like your liver needs to suffer, take a shot for every time you’ve read the word “Hydroxian” in this story.

Lou greets his clients with a grin.

“Sup. Turo called us, said you’ve got a problem.”

Gyll grins back, jerking a webbed thumb at the house.

“You’re damn right we do, it’s drier than Sablo in there. We woke up in empty baths this morning.”

If you’ve forgotten, Hydroxians sleep in baths. A Hydroxian house has baths in every room, and baths are a vital part of Hydroxian culture.

That’s three more shots for you.

Tony grins too, fiddling with his mustache.

“There’s probably just a blocked pipe or something. Any other houses in the neighborhood dealing with this?”

Gyll gets out of the pond.

“No, just us. Come on, I’ll show you inside.”

As Gyll leads Lou and Tony into the house, Yoshi cautiously waddles over to the pond.

“Hewwo, Nep-toon.”

Neptune swims over to the edge, deftly leaping out and shaking himself dry like a dog before he hugs Yoshi.

“Hewwo, Yoh-shee!”

Then Neptune leaps back into the pond, and Yoshi watches him do laps again.

“Yoh-shee awways fink it am funee tu see fwuffies hu can be in wawas an nu gu foweba sweepies.”

Neptune giggles as he passes Yoshi.

“Nep-toon am a awka-fwuffy. Awka meen wawas.”

“Huh. Yoh-shee nu did knu dat, fanks. Dewe am a wotta awka-fwuffies in dis nay-bow-hud, foh.”

Turo laughs softly.

“What did you expect? They were created for us Hydroxians.”

“Yuh, uncuw Tonee sed dat awweady. An Yoh-shee can see wai. Wawas am bad fow fwuffies.”

“Nu dis fwuffy.”

“Sowwy. Fowce of habit.”

Down in the house’s basement, Lou and Tony work, Gyll watching them.

There’s a lot of pipes in this basement. Remember that whole thing about the house having baths in every room?

Yes, that means there’s a bath down here too, but that one is seldom used. It’s a small, one-person path, looking more like an oil drum.

The brothers quickly found the source of the blockage, and it’s nothing they haven’t dealt with before.

“Tone, turn that valve over there.”

Tony grabs a big valve and turns it with ease. The brothers are wearing their Power Gloves, and if Tony wasn’t being careful, he’d probably break the valve off.


“Give it a go, Gyll.”

Gyll walks over to the bath, and tentatively turns the tap on.

And it starts spewing water, exactly as a tap is supposed to do.

The brothers celebrate their success with one of their unusual high fives, that involves wiggling the fingers together.

“Glug glug glug glug glug!”

Gyll smiles at them.

“Thanks, guys. I’d better go tell the family they can get out of the pond.”

“Oh, sure.”

“Just don’t forget about our pay!”

As a fellow ChaotiX member, Gyll would get a friend discount. Lou and Tony would be happy to do it.

But those ChaotiX members who have need of the Super Hoskins Brothers’ plumbing skills will usually insist on paying them the full price for their services.

The ChaotiX tend to look out for each other.

They’re not just a superhero team, they’re a very unusual family.

With the job done, the baths in the house filling up again, and the brothers compensated for their services, Lou and Tony depart with Yoshi, after Neptune hugs Yoshi goodbye.

As Lou drives out of Little Hydrox, he lets out a sigh of satisfaction at another job well done.

“Finished in record time, Tone.”

He knows his way around this neighborhood. With all the water features, this neighborhood is often in need of good plumbers.

Tony nods, stroking Yoshi, curled up in his lap again.

“Papa couldn’t have done it better, bro.”

“Su, wut am nex?”

“Well, we’ve got a few more jobs lined up. Like another inexplicable infestation in the sewers.”

Lou laughs.

“First it was turtles, now it’s crabs. I tell ya, that kinda thing can only happen around here.

“Cwabs? We am gunna nee to git sum taw-tuh saucies, daddeh.”

That just makes Lou laugh harder.

“Yeah, I think you’ll be carrying us through that one, Yosh.”

“Oh, and on that note, don’t forget our double date at Sugarbean’s later.”

“Dana wouldn’t let me forget, Tone.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in time and space, in the obscenely named headquarters of the Anti-ChaotiX, Anti-Calvin meets with Anti-Lou and Anti-Tony in the armory.

The headquarters didn’t originally have an armory, as its original owner, being a doctor, strove to be a pacifist.

Which just made it easier for Anti-Calvin to kill him.

The psychotic, masked Omega has a new sword strapped to his back. The blade is as black as ebony, and the sword possesses all kinds of sinister powers.

It had been in its previous owner’s family for a very long time.

Anti-Calvin will be keeping the sword until he finds something better.

He’s found a sword with the power of oblivion, which is right up his alley, but its current wielder is almost as erratic as him.

So that’s on his to-do list.

On one table, there’s seven colored gems in a diamond cut: light blue, purple, red, pink, yellow, green and gray. They’re next to an orange sphere with a red spiral on it.

“Alright, boys. I’ve got some new toys for ya.”

In one hand, Anti-Calvin holds a cap. Its shape is identical to the yellow one currently on Anti-Lou’s head, but it seems to be made of shiny, reflective metal.

“This is for you, Anti-Lou. I know you prefer using your fists, so instead of giving you a weapon, here’s something that’ll let you use your fists better.

Anti-Lou takes the metallic cap, and doffs his usual cap to put it on.

The moment the metallic cap touches his head, his entire body turns to metal.

“Huh. Neat.”

As he switches back to his regular cap, his body reverts to normal.

“Yeah, this will definitely be useful.”

“See, I knew you’d like it.”

In his other hand, Anti-Calvin holds an unassuming brown sack, apparently full, and sealed with an orange clasp.

“And this is for you, Anti-Tony. I already had this lying around, but I made our magical members work their… well, magic, and now, this baby will never run out.”

Anti-Tony curiously eyes the sack.

“Run out of what?

Anti-Calvin giggles as he opens the sack, reaches in, and pulls out…

A large, spherical object, the size of a beach ball. It’s blue, shiny, and judging by the fuse on top, it’s a…

“Bombs! The bag’s full of bombs. I got it from the same world I got my BFFF from. Not the exact same iteration, mind you. There’s a shop selling these there, and they just let anyone buy one. Even I think that’s fucked up.”

Anti-Tony eagerly takes the bag, grinning wildly.

“So how much did this cost you?”

Anti-Calvin casually tosses the bomb over his shoulder.

“Oh, I employed the ol’ five finger discount. By which I mean I curled my fingers into a fist, and put it through that ugly old bat’s head. Then her son started bitching, so I did the same to him, and picked the place clean. I got a bunch of those powder kegs, a generous supply of those exploding clockwork mice, and…”

He leads the brothers over to one wall, where a number of masks hang on hooks.

One mask looks like an elven warrior with white hair and blank white eyes, and blue and red facial markings. Another mask seems to be roughly hewn from stone, with two misaligned dots for eyes and a frown. A third mask looks like a sad man with large eyebrows and an equally large mustache.

But Anti-Calvin gestures at a fourth mask, dark blue, round, and bearing an emblem that looks like a white skull.

“I found this baby while I was cleaning the place out too. It ain’t as chatty as my BFFF, but using it is a blast. It’s just as much fun as tricking a shitrat into hugging one of those bomb mice!”

Anti-Tony sniggers at the thought.

“Yeah, that is pretty funny! Maybe you should dress one of those things up to look like a shitrat. Like a mare. Then you wait for a horny stallion to find it and…”

“Oh, I am loving this idea! Maybe I could rig it to go off when the stallion cums. Now that’s one helluva way to bust a nut.”

Anti-Lou points at the elf mask.

“So what about that one, Boss?”

Anti-Calvin pokes the elf mask’s nose.

“Oh, this is one of my favorites. It’s got the dark power of a ferocious god. Downside is, you can’t fit through most doorways while you’re wearing it.”

“So what are you gonna do with it?”

“Well, it’s more of a mask for special occasions. Not like you’d wear it when you’re, I dunno, going fishing, something lame like that. I mean, that thing’s power is a match for my BFFF’s power. So keep your grubby mitts off, boys.”

Anti-Tony fiddles with his wild mustache thoughtfully.

“There’s a lot of iterations of that world, right? Couldn’t you just get more versions of that mask? Enough for all of us?”

“I could. You know what the really funny thing is? That cross-dressing elf boy doesn’t seem to realize what he’s doing, every time he plays his little magic flute and turns the clock back. He doesn’t realize that every time he does that, he abandons another timeline to its terrible fate. Once he’s gone, you can do pretty much whatever you want in that timeline and no one will care, because the world’s gonna end soon anyway. If you can’t stop time, you’ve gotta be quick, but by the time that ugly moon comes crashing down, everyone in that pseudo-medieval shithole has evacuated and left all of their crap behind.”

Anti-Tony raises an eyebrow.

“Does evacuation actually save them?”

Anti-Calvin giggles again as he gleefully shakes his head.

“Nope! When that big rock falls, everyone dies, no matter where they run. All because the one person who could save the world abandoned them at the eleventh hour. And he does that a lot of times before he finally gets it right! For every timeline where he doesn’t need to hit the reset button, there’s at least one timeline where he did. In the long run, more versions of that shithole are destroyed than saved. Considering what those morons named their country, it’s like they wanted it to be destroyed.”

Then Anti-Calvin turns to you.

Yes, you.

“So tell me something, dear readers… how many versions of that shithole have you abandoned?”

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