Windwright

[Age of Heroes] A Walk in the Park (semi closed)

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Mutt scratches his right ear and listens intently as Mauser tells him about plans for his training, which seem wholly reasonable if... harder. Then suggests sightseeing of all things. He keeps his mouth shut and does not suggest that tourism could be an excuse to run preliminary observations on high profile targets and that Mauser is already multitasking. Besides, he likes sightseeing.. He prods his forefingers together and looks between Bahamut, Rosetta and Mauser as they all generally agree that sightseeing is a good idea. "If it includes more local food, then I am more than in." is the dog's reply. Food is one of his favorite reasons to travel and no trip is complete without various trips. "If we're going to be here for as long as we are I guess we'd better get used to passing the time. I'm sure you're already a master at that though."

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Mauser scratches the back of his neck and glances aside sheepishly. "Eh, heh. Would you believe not? If I'm not on a mission I spend as much time napping as anything else usually. Not that there are many of those days." he says, muttering the last mostly to himself, though he was under no illusion he couldn't be heard. The big dog stood up and stretched, the muscles under his fur rolling visibly, to his full height. "For now though, let's get moving."

 

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And move they did, spending a couple of hours walking the city and exploring the museums. Mauser spent most of his time on two legs, though once or twice he bounded off on all fours to pursue a sound or scent that caught his attention briefly, always ending with a slight frown and a silent moment staring off in a random direction. He led the group to one or two family-oriented museums, and insisted on taking the stairs and paying for everything with bits and bobs from his satchel, then to a sprawling botanical garden on the roof of one of the highrises, and then to the municipal district with no real urgency or plan to his movements.

 

Eventually he calls a halt at the head of a long set of marble stairs before a government building of some sort, silently studying the shadows and nodding to himself. "Just about time now. Take a look at that map we bought and pick a couple places for next time. Too much of the city to see in one go, and we'll have an abundance of opprotunity.

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Traveling with Mauser was never a straightforward affair. At least not inside of a loop that is. There was always one thing or another that seemed to catch his attention and make him zip off after it. It was confusing the first few times it happened, but after a while Bahamut just sort of got used to it. It clearly wasn't a Diamond Dog thing, as Rose never seemed to do it. So either it was a Mauser thing or a Time Power thing. The dragon was inclined to believe the former.


The museums they visited were all quite fascinating. Ancient fossils, historical exhibits, audio tours, art. But golly molly there were a lot of stairs. Up and down and up and down. It's not like there weren't elevators, but noooo. At least the botanical garden was nice and relaxing. A beautiful scene for a break between walking so much. Eventually they came to a stop in front of a large building, likely city hall. Mauser called them over to take a look at the map. Bahamut himself was much like Mauser, he didn't really...have a lot that he did to pass the time. Exercising only did so much, and if he said something like 'Hey let's check the gym out!' he'd probably get some laughs even if he was serious.


Rosetta on the other paw had no fear about her personal stereotypes. "How about we hit up the library?" she asked with a smile, tail wagging as she floated back from the map.

 

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Mutt is not as excited by visiting museums as everyone else is. By the time they hit the third wing of the second one the dog has given up on anything interesting happening and realizes it's going to be a boring trip about *learning* things that more than likely won't be at all relevant in his future. He pays attention anyway. Also he cheats, and pretty much springs up the stairs and barely has to put any effort into walking up them at all. Mauser's behavior of suddenly taking sharp detours during the trip doesn't occur to him as strange at all. He knows the dog is looking for something and it's not like he needs to be careful if he's doing this all over again later.

The gardens... The gardens he seems to like. He actually takes the time to stop and enjoy it... and smell the roses.. and the other plants. He can actually smell everything here and it's pretty gosh darn great... even non flowering plants have their own scents. He quite likes the place.. even if he doesn't like it when he realizes exploring the garden results in having small bugs like ants in his fur. Which is extremely frustrating and he can't stand it... He's gonna weirdly tickly and itchy until the loop ends regardless of if he gets them all or not. When the group finally nears the end of the first loop the dog perks his ears and wags gratefully, having been suffering in relative silence.

"Library is a good idea! Quiet and nice... could be a wind down spot..." the doggo thinks.. He really wants to to get a nicer view of the city... "Liberty building!" of course he picks the tallest building in the city, he loves heights. Yay, stairs. It has the best view of the region, though he doubts even Mauser will want to go up like 50 stories of stairs to get to the observation deck.

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The big dog nods and makes a mental note of the paths they'd need to take tomorrow to go through the library and end up at the Liberty building. He knew there was an observation deck, which might actually segue into another demonstration, since it was probably necessary. Once his mental map was constructed, he let out a big sigh and glanced up at the sky again.

 

"Alright, time for the second major lesson. There are two ways for a loop to reset. The one we want is the easiest one. Time passes until it hits the end of what I set out originally, and then..." he said, pausing for dramatic effect, appar- There's an intense sensation of vertigo, accompanied by the scent of birdsong, the sound of a rose in bloom, and the colour of a foal's joy. It lasts for less than an instant, but when it's over...

 

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The fatiugue, the meal, the bugs, the maps, everything was gone. Returned to how it had been six hours ago. The 'gremlin' was frowning again, but continued as if the world hadn't just imploded. "Things just snap to how they were when I started it." He started taking off his accoutrements again, calmly and methodically busying himself while his charges recovered and took stock.

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While not nearly as used to the rewinding as Mauser, Bahamut and Rosetta were at the very least prepared for it and managed to brace themselves so to speak. The rush of mixed senses was always disorienting. It was never as bad as the first time, but it still left them a little wobbly. Rosetta less so now that she had been made of magic for so long. Though it was a bit of a funny sight to see her Thaumite plates show up a split second either before or after (sometimes both) that she did.

 

Bahamut took a moment to steady himself before stretching. "Always a bumpy ride, but ever a smooth landing." he said with a chuckle. The dragon made sure to keep a steadying hand on Mutt, in case the diamond dog had any issue. First time 'leaping' can be a doozy. As he recalled, he fell right on his rump the first couple of times before he got used to it. "How are you holding up, Mutt?"

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Mutt turns to Mauser and wags attentively as lessons begin. Okay, and then? what happens 'Then'... The diamond dog goes cross-eyed and stands perfectly still as everything goes weird. His brain is a little bit, well, overloaded by the experience. His senses are strong than he's used to, to begin with and now they are rebelling against him. He is not equipped to handle this in the slightest and when it's finally over... He's sort of staring blankly into space, brain on the fritz. The second he's addressed by Bahamut, the diamond dog bursts into a fit of aggressive barking at nothing at his soft, rubbery brain tries very hard to process and catch up. It is... more than a few seconds before he stops making a scene and blinks a few times. "Well that was very, very weird." he comments before he realizes that there are actually other people here, then he fidgets and looks more than a little embarrassed, because he sees Mauser in the process of doing things and realizes there's some time he can't account for and he's sure he did something stupid during that period. "Uhh... so uhh... New day huh?" he wags pitifully, hoping people will just pretend that whatever happened didn't happen.
 

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"Nope. Same day, new experiences." the dog says as he removed the amulet that kept his form disguised. "That was a snapback. The first of three ways one can occur, and the one I have the least control over, personally. Technically there's a fourth way for your personal timeline to snap as well, but I'll get to that after I demonstrate the third method. Second method is that I can end the loop, which snaps everything back but doesn't continue to loop. I won't demonstrate that one, since the loop is useful and takes me a bit of mental effort to set up. I just cheat and recover inside the loop, most of the time."

 

He perks his ears and Listened to the area, taking mental notes while he waited for the idea to sink in. A dog howls somewhere in the park in answer to Mutt's commotion, and the nearby duck pond is empty. The scent of roasting peanuts drifts in on a breeze. Mauser nods and picks up his bindle.

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Bahamut and Rosetta both were doing their very best to not burst out giggling at the sudden and frankly hilarious fit of woofs and borks that Mutt fell into. Seems he had a harder time with the slingshotting of time than they did their first time around. Which made sense with his rubbery nature. The dog was already a rubber band without having time stretching him too! Still it was pretty darn funny, and seemed harmless enough! And Mutt didn't even notice what he had been doing. "It takes some getting used to." Bahamut said as he gave Mutt's head a pat. "Next time it happens you'll be a bit more prepared. It's always gonna feel weird, but it won't get you so hard."

 

Rosetta nodded in agreement and floated down next to Mutt. "First time Bahamut did it, he fell flat on his rear. And the first time I did it, I had totally lost my internal clock for like two days. Thankfully it was a weekend so I didn't have to worry about it too much. But waking up at three in the morning one day to wake up at eight in the evening the next is a bit confusing."

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Mutt furrows his brow. Both of the ways the timeline will snap seem to be reasonable, which means the third and fourth are probably unpleasant and/or bad. Mutt can tell by looking at Bahamut and Rosetta that he definitely did something embarrassing in the interim. His whole body tingles, and he feels like his brain is wobbling. The dog crosses his arms and hrrrfs, listening carefully to the advice and being a bit miffed at the headpats. His wagging slows a little bit but does not stop. "Yes, well. I should hope it gets easier, because... reasons..." he is not particularly articulate at the moment. He is, however, very much looking forward to the new loop's agenda. Also he now has an idea. "Hey if... you get everything back when you reset... We should go eat at the nicest place in town." this idea causes him to wag fervently again, the idea of being able to eat wherever you want without consequence amazes him.

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Mauser made a show of rubbing his chin. That was going to be a tricky one to manage, but probably doable with some shenanigans. He'd done so once in Manehattan for Rosetta's birthday before the Fall, and had even managed to figure out how to do it for the whole family and without needing to Loop it away afterwards.  "Maaaaaaaybe." The big dog waffles. It had been an obscenely expensive affair. "I can look into it as a reward for good progress. There are a couple of places I have in mind but I'd need to figure out how to get in on short notice, which will probably take a few rounds. First though, I believe I set a challenge for you."

 

Mauser gives a toothy grin and becons with one overly large paw, then leads the way through the park and back to the restraunt from before. He places the same order and seats everyone at the same table, then nodded to the new Diamond Dog. "Simple enough task. Using your sense of hearing, count how many workers are in the back. I'm going to let you know a couple things that might help first. One, the back area has a central kitchen with cooking surfaces and counters running around the wall, and the storage for the ingredients in the middle. There's a restroom, a broom closet, a walk-in freezer, and an office in addition to the kitchen. Two, the countermare isn't the only griffon working here, and doesn't count in your tally."

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Just as before, Bahamut and Rosetta followed along with Mutt and Mauser, and just as before they took their seats as Mauser did his thing, paying, returning issuing Mutt's next challenge. Riding along for loops can be kinda fun. But they can also get a bit dull when you're not the ones being put to the test. By the time Mauser had already finished running over the challenge, Rosetta had already counted out the exact number with and without griffons. Then again with her experience it wasn't much of challenge now was it? Still, it was a fun little distraction. She was much more interested in getting a chance to get to that library! Maybe with luck and enough time she could find out a thing or two pertaining to that collar of Mutt's.

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Mutt himself wags at the idea of going to eat somewhere nice. It's been a really long time since he's had something like that, something he's used to, but he can't tell them that. They barely know he's.. was a pony and he doesn't feel like telling them who he is. Not least because being this is... at severe odds with who he's supposed to be. The dog frowns as he's told he has to go do the thing. He cringes a little bit because he has no idea how he's gonna do this. He does, at least, like being given a lowdown on the layout of the place. The dog flomps himself on the table a bit, ears swiveling as he does his best not to look into the back. There's so much noise in there, and in the front! and on the street! and it's all random! This is so hard! He huffs. then perks, and huffs again...

Mutt swivels his ears to the kitchen and holds them there. Of course, everybody breathes... Well, probably most everybody, he's sure there's... some, outlying cases. But he takes his time and is able to pick out several different people in the back. They breathe.. differently. The person working at the grill is taking much shorter breaths because it's hot and taxing work... and since they're on the grill it's probably a gryphon but he's just assuming that... One... two... "Uhh... Five. Five, Mutt thinks." He's pretty sure, not counting the griffon up front. Did he just refer to himself in the third person? Man that's weird. Like, he's supposed to get used to doing that as a hero, it's part of his family's code of conduct, creating an inspiring presence or some such nonsense, but it still feels weird.

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"Five." Mauser confirms, tucking into the plate he was presented with as soon as it arrived. He gestured for Mutt to do likewise, and said "Excellent. Next time I want you to tell me how many are there and how many hooves there are."

 

The big dog spent the rest of the meal going over a general Diamond Dog physiology lesson, including notes on leading theories on how they were able to dig so quickly and efficiently. Once the meal was finished, he led the party to another newsstand and bought the same map, then marked out a path. "So, what we want to do is go through this route. It'll let us hit the library, then Bahamut and Mutt can split off to find a gym they want to use to train. I recommend Danger Zone if there is one, but I don't know where one is. You can peek around if you get bored or one doesn't let you in, but the object is to find a place that'll let you do serious training on a trial membership. Try not to let yourself learn too much about the other patrons though, it makes things awkward sometimes."

 

There was a question that usually occurred here, but Mauser bowled over it by pointing to the Liberty building. "We'll meet up here when we're down to about an hour, and finish the day out up there. Remember that the first couple loops are about learning the rules and getting comfortable with looping. After a few of them, we'll start training, and eventually we'll add in heroics."

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Bahamut wasn't sure if the relatively free food was his favourite part about looping, but it sure came close. While Mauser and Mutt went over the Dogging For Beginners lesson, the dragon snacked away, he was after all technically just a support role for this venture. The real star of the show was Mutt, and with the first few go arounds, there'd not be much for him to do short of just that, support. Still, the idea that was eventually brought up, of getting some training time, did appeal to him. "The main issue I see there actually arises from the fact that most exercise equipment isn't well equipped for super strength. But I suppose if I act as more of a spotter, there shouldn't be any major issues."


Rose chuckled to herself. She still remembers the last time Bahamut tried using regular training equipment. Thousands of bits spent reduced to scrap in a matter of seconds. Luckily they had Hopesguards best engineers sort out some that better suited his needs. "Sounds like a fine plan to me. You going to hang around with them while they channel their inner muscle heads, or do you have other plans?" she asked, floating alongside Mauser with a smile.

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Mutt wags gently when it turns out he is in fact correct! then he flops and mrrrngs as more lessons happen. Studying is so harrrd. But he does his best to pay attention even if he isn't as interested in learning about doggo biology as he should be. The dog is super happy to get out of the restaurant, and into the city however, and on the way to getting through to the day, especially because it means they're closer to Mauser finding somewhere fancy to eat. He bounces a little bit as the schedule for the day is laid out for them like an overly eager puppy... or, well, just a regularly eager puppy. There's no loud yapping accompanying it. He's actually really looking forward to today. Chances for actual training start now and to be honest there's a whole lot of things he wants to try, learn to do while he's in these loops. He has so, so many ideas regarding things he might be able to do and he doesn't have to worry about people getting hurt or stuff getting broke... Even though he feels that, morally he should, he also knows that nothing that happens in here actually matters for anything but them.

He stares blankly. "I have no idea what a Danger Zone is, but okay! also I am not a musclehead!" the diamond dog flails his arms aimlessly in Rosetta's general direction, a little grumpily even though he knows it was in jest. It's not like he can really even build muscle on this weird rubbery body, can he? There is so much stuff he doesn't know about himself. Eager to get going, Mutt starts heading toward the library of his own accord. "Talk and walk!" he exclaims, wagging more furiously than he has any right to. "Gotta make everyone one of these infinite minutes count!" he teases, going out of his way to put a string in his step until he's practically effortlessly bouncing along... or, literally doing so. It soon looks like it takes him zero effort to move forward, even if he looks ridiculous every time a leg squishes down a bit and stretches back out.

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Mauser glanced sideways at Bahamut. He hadn't realized the dragon was that out of the loop. Mutt had an excuse since he was new to this side of the street, so to speak. The big dog stood up and paced to the door while he collected his thoughts. "It's not surprising you don't know about Danger Zone, I guess. Little history lesson then. When the Hopesguard was founded, one of the things they promised...well, more like one of the unspoken truths of their existence, was that it would take a higher caliber of criminal to get away with their plans.

 

"You couldn't just have some random pony wake up with super speed and expect to be able to rob banks that afternoon." he said, pushing out into the street and the bustle of the city. "Conversely, the vigilantes who didn't want to join, or didn't make the cut, needed more training themselves. There wasn't really a coherent plan for what that meant, but everyone need to train themselves and find the limits of their powers, or to test their tech, or just somewhere to stay in shape where folks wouldn't care that your treadmill was set to thirty, or you were using girders as free weights."

 

Mauser crossed the street at an intersection with a collection of ponies going about their business. seems a carriage ahead had lost its wheel and was holding up traffic. "Enter Smoke Screen. They were a repeat guest of the Manehattan penitentiary whose schtick was that they can blur the details of places, ponies, things, whatever. During one of their visits, they caught on to the idea of actually going straight for a while, or at least running a really long con.

 

"They bought a warehouse by the docks and set up a complicated maze inside, with a bunch of training equipment calibrated for supers spread through it. They'd take a membership form with details like the secret identity, aliases, powers, that sort of thing, then would lead their clients to a private area where they could do their thing."

 

They had by now turned onto the street with the library visible at the top of a hill. "Hopesguard shut that down, but by that time Screen had already opened three more in different cities. The Guard couldn't convict them of anything, but they started operating front organizations over the entrances. I'm pretty sure there are at least a dozen now, by it's always hard to find them. Screen keeps each one hidden in plain sight, but look for some place that seems to be doing a lot less business than it should be for how nice it looks. Screen also likes having old Guard aliases in the business name. Like Rosetta Florists in Whinnypeg, or the Bahamutt's, a pound in Canterlot."

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