Warning: spoilers for the Abuse Syndicate Saga.
Note: read “The Good Doctor”, “The Mystery of the Druids”, “The Natural Way”, “Business as Unusual” and “I’m Lovin’ It” first.
At the Faucheuse Foundation, in Dr. Erwin Stahlberg’s regeneration room, Erwin places a pillowed fluffy in a regeneration vat.
As he does this, Asimov, Erwin’s robot fluffy, watches him. Asimov’s body is now covered in silver fluff, harvested from one of Facility X-88’s Superfluffy Fluffies, and he likes the color choice.
“Deez fings am pwetty im-pwess-if, doctow. Did yu in-vent dem?”
“Not initially, no. Valerie invented the regeneration technology. But I did help her improve it. At first, the regeneration fluid couldn’t undo spaying or neutering, you know.”
Erwin watches the vat fill with regeneration fluid, a breathing mask securely fastened on the pillowfluff’s face.
“We had one couple brought in ages ago, whose former owner microwaved their foals. He had the couple sterilised after the litter was born, so until we could upgrade the fluid, that litter was the only litter they’d have the old-fashioned way.”
“Wut happund tu dem?”
“Well, after we restored their ability to procreate, a local breeder took them in. She adored the colors. They’ve been happy ever since, and they’ve had quite a few successful litters.”
And Asimov smiles too.
“Asimov awways wub a happeh en-ding.”
In a forest in the UK, in the house belonging to Floris Hazelweiss, druid, Floris stirs a bubbling cauldron filled with pink liquid.
Herb and Flora, the progenitors of the garden fluffy subspecies, watch their daddeh work.
Floris’s house has gotten a bit bigger, and so has the area’s garden fluffy population.
In fact, some of the garden fluffies Floris transformed to save their lives have wandered off, and Floris can sense that they’re still alive out there.
And he can sense more and more garden fluffies being born, slowly spreading across the UK.
He thinks it’s only a matter of time before they spread across the planet.
Herb sniffs the air, which is filled with a pungent aroma.
“So wut poh-shun am daddeh bwoo-in dis time?”
Floris drops some chopped ginseng into the bubbling cauldron.
“This? It’s… ah… well, let’s just say there’s a man in the village nearby who’s having trouble, erm, performing in the bedroom. This will help him, ahem, stand to attention.”
Yes, the potion is basically magical Viagra.
In a training room at Dr. Pierre Faucheuse’s School For Gifted Individuals, Future Quin trains with Jack. Victor, Scarface and Future Marley are watching, and Victor is giving Quin pointers.
“Easy, Quin! You’re gripping the handle too tight! Remember, the blade should be like a natural extension of your body!”
Quin thought it was time he took up a weapon too, and Victor, for reasons he couldn’t explain, thought that a katana would be a perfect fit for the redheaded time traveller.
While Quin is currently using a bog-standard steel katana, Mel is working on an chivalrium one for him.
Quin accidentally cuts Jack’s arm off.
“Oops! Sorry, Jack!”
“It’s alright, Quin. Not the first time something like this has happened…”
In a maximum security prison, Deston sits down in a private meeting room with Vanessa Valentine, his former sister-in-law and founder of the Abuse Syndicate.
“I’m going to ask you this question nicely one last time, Vanessa. Where. Is. Shannon. Long?”
Vanessa sneers at Deston.
“I’ll never tell you. I’ll never be reunited with my loved one. Why should that halfbreed brat be reunited with his?”
“I really didn’t want to have to do this, Vanessa. I want you to know that. Don’t try to resist it.”
Vanessa looks concerned.
“Don’t try to resist what?”
Deston looks Vanessa in the eyes.
She realizes what he’s doing a second too late.
“No-- get out of my head–”
“I asked nicely, Vanessa. I asked several times, and you refused to talk. You brought this upon yourself.”
At Fluffywood’s make-up department, Xavier, Cecil and Edward watch one of the make-up artists get an AA ready for his next part.
“Jeez. He looks like a real zombie fluffy, guys. I almost thought Mortis had wandered in.”
“Well, me and Eddy had an excellent frame of reference.”
“And Mortis actually helped us with this. He let us take some photos. And he coached the AAs on how to move like a proper zombie fluffy. We’ll be giving him a mention in the credits for that, as a consultant.”
When the artist is done, the AA makes his way to the set, doing his best lurch, getting into character.
Xavier calls to the AA.
“Save it for the camera, Andrew!”
Reiner and Amber, Amy Tiernan’s girlfriend, walk out of the dojo they train at together. Both of them are clad in gis with black belts.
Amy’s holding a pink gym bag. She likes pink. She’s a bit of a girly girl, that one. And she doesn’t care if you judge her for it.
Of course, Reiner doesn’t need a gym bag, because the Luggage is following him out, Horace and Bella riding on it.
“That was a good session, Reiny.”
“Oh yeah. Especially the part where you knocked my arse flat on the mat.”
“You don’t mind if I tell Amy and Mandy about that, do you?”
“Nah. Feel free.”
When they get to Reiner’s car, Amber tuts.
Reiner will be giving Amber and Bella a lift home.
“You really gotta get a new car, man.”
“Hey, I love this car. Like Tommy says, it’s my soul.”
“Yu cud at weast git it tyoond up, Weinew. An mebbeh git a nyu paint jawb, tuu.”
“Well, I did get a new robe recently, Bella. So I’ll swing by the garage some time.”
The quarter gets in, Amber riding shotgun, the two fluffies riding on the back seat on fluffy-safe booster seats, and the Luggage riding in the trunk.
That’s the part of a car luggage is supposed to ride in, after all.
At an underground mill, Calvin, turned to steel, strides towards the mill’s boss, cowering in his office.
The boss is stupidly firing a gun at the man turned to steel.
“Seriously, dude, the first bullet didn’t work, why would the others?”
When Calvin gets close…
He floors the boss with a steel fist to the gut.
“Stay down, idiot. My friends in the police department will be here to deal with you and your pals in a minute.”
In another room, full of caged fluffies, Marley walks in, telekinetically opening the cages, and gently lifting the fluffies out of the cages above floor level.
“Nu gu anee-whewe jus yet. Mawwey hoomin fwends am gonna take a wook at aww of yu, make suwe yu aww am hewf-ee.”
“Cawamew wan mummah… Cawamew miss housie… huu…”
Marley shakes his head in disbelief.
“Mawwey nu knu wut deez dummehs wuz finkin, takin fwuffies wif hoomin daddehs an mummahs.”
Calvin walks in, having heard that. He’s reverted back to flesh.
“They saw fluffies as replaceable, Mar. They probably expected the owners to just get a new one. Caramel, don’t you worry, we’ll get you back to your mummah.”
“Fank yu, mistah Bestest Hoomin. Fank yu, Mawwey. Yu am da bestest fwuffy.”
Marley blushes a bit.
“It am wut we du, Cawamew.”
That evening, on their way home, Erwin and Asimov stop by Calvin’s apartment.
As they walk in, Judy sees them and smiles.
“Hey, Erwin. How were things at the Foundation today?”
“Pretty good, Judy. Nothing out of the ordinary, other than a fluffy who was pooping blue. But I identified the cause: her owner is a baker, and the mare had gotten into the blue food dye.”
“It wuz ack-shu-awwy kinna funee.”
“It was, but I managed not to laugh. At least, until they were out of earshot. How has my new… companion been doing?”
“Oh, she’s been an absolute sweetheart.”
Judy and Erwin turn to the open saferoom door.
Inside, the Korkea fluffies are sitting with Calvin and Marley, who are telling them what they did at work today.
Erwin’s other new fluffy, who Judy was keeping an eye on while Erwin was at work, is sitting with them. Unlike Asimov, this one isn’t a robot.
A coffee brown and camel brown unicorn mare, with heterochromia. Her left eye is blue, her right eye is green. And she’s hugging a stuffed rabbit.
“Erwin, I think Hershey will fit in just fine with all of our fluffies.”
“I hope so, Judy. If I have just one complaint about little Hershey, it’s her name. Really, of all the brands of chocolate her old owner could have named her after… why pick the one that tastes like vomit?”
Asimov grins, his metal teeth gleaming. Like Prometheus and Alpha’s family, he has the upgrade that lets him eat and drink.
“Dat am da Yanks fow yu. Dey gut wow stan-dawds fow nummies.”
Considering which species Asimov is modelled on, he’s not exactly one to talk. Fluffies, especially feral fluffies, will eat things even the hungriest American wouldn’t eat.
Some particularly stupid fluffies will even try to eat things that aren’t edible. Last Christmas, Erwin had to deal with a mare who had tried to eat the Christmas tree, and ended up crapping tinsel.
Christmas is a very busy season for the Foundation, with all the opportunities for fluffy injury the season brings, and it gets even busier after New Year’s, when a lot of the people who got fluffies for Christmas get sick of them. Or didn’t realize how much work taking care of a fluffy requires.
It breaks Erwin’s heart every January.
Remember: a fluffy is for life, not just for Christmas.
But Erwin agrees with his robotic fluffy.
“Das stimmt. Hershey’s used to her name, though, so I suppose I’ll have to live with it. I did, however, arrange for a box of Belgian chocolate to be sent to her old owner’s house. Free of charge. To make a point.”
“You really take food seriously, don’t you Erwin?”
“You think I take food seriously, Judy? Go tell Pierre that you’re going to make escargot with margarine. See what happens.”
Let’s just say that it involves a lot of angry screaming in French.
Judy laughs, as Erwin and Asimov walk into the saferoom to greet Hershey.
She’s happy to see both of them.