August 14, 2014: Mike Drakos is repairing a building. It's good to be useful when you have no heart.

Mutant Town - New York City

Mutant Town isn't so much a slum or ghetto as it an enclave. Sure, it started out as something else, but it's big enough now to have its own personality and, frankly, subcultures within the larger… uh… subculture.

Regardless, it's as eclectic and unpredictable as its inhabitants. Which means: Very.



  • Jeremy the Rat Boy
  • Jeremy's family of rats
  • Abuela Anita - Jeremy's Mother (not a rat)
  • Chris the Slug - landlord

Mood Music:

Normally, one sees junk trucks filled with detritus, garbage, crap and effluvium driving out of a neighborhood and off to one of too-many garbage scows. This truck is full of old iron, aluminum, some brick, a fairly large pile of broken computer parts, and sheet metal. It's reasonably free of organic debris, as evidenced by the utter lack of seagulls (rats of the sea) or pigeons (rats of the city skies) or even rats (you know the kind) hanging around it.

It's pulled up in front of a building, one of the more run-down of the brownstones in this neighborhood, and one where, for reasons to do with its decrepitude, several floors are partly uninhabitable or over-crowded with people crammed in where they ought not be. A week ago, Mike filed on behalf of the owner for a permit to repair, and the permit came through this morning. He's asked the residents to move out, for a few hours, while he does preliminary repairs. Just in case.

He's standing out front, and the first thing that happens is that the sheet metal starts to float up out of the truck. It thins out into a sort of mesh, forming a web over the outside of the building.

"What's that for?" one of the residents says.

"If I make a mistake, it will keep things from falling apart," Mike answers. This gets muttering from the crowd, but nobody's got enough nerve to yell at this guy yet.

There's a wrenching noise and a six-inch long three-inch diameter pipe pushes its way through the wall. Splashing noises, the gurgle-gurgle-gurgle of red-orange water coming out the end and draining stinkily into the sewer… well, no, the orange seems to be piling up at the bottom of the pipe, the water flowing into the storm sewer stinks but is metal-free.


Bobby has been… ridiculously busy. But now the busy seems to be largely over, or at least has taken a break and he's had a chance to get some groceries and come home to… Wait that's not his apartment is it? No… whew, thank god. But it is an apartment building covered in metal mesh. There is only one person he knows who can do this. And man, he hops it's that person.

"Mike?" He calls as he parks and gets out of his car. "Mike is that yo- oh thank god. I thought cybernetic spiderman had started making a lair." That last is said with a wink.


"There is a cybernetic spiderman?" Mike says, voice descending for a moment into auto-tune as a loud groaning of metal comes from inside the building. People flinch, muttering more. A car door opens, and a guy who isn't really familiar to most of the residents, but is well known to the tenants (they pay him the rent) - gets out and starts yelling.

"Hey, people, please, step back from the building, come on, you know I ain't gonna hire nobody ta go wreckin' things, this is gonna be good for the place, 'K?" The guy is normal enough looking for a New York landlord: a bit hefty, wearing a slightly loud yellow and green checked business suit, and equipped with purple skin and eyes on the end of flexible stalks. And no nose.

"Please step back," Mike calls out. "I am about to temporarily remove the steam pipes."

The groaning metal gets louder and the tube of metal sticking out from the side of the building gushes out a few last gouts of water, then it begins to squeeze out like it were toothpaste from the hole in the side of the building. A big pile of tube collects on that side of the building.

"I am concerned," Mike says to Bobby. "There are numerous small animals living in the building. I dislike killing them," and he pauses, "though, most of them are rattus norvegicus."


"I don't know Mike… I mean rats are pretty smart. Maybe they'll get out on their own?" He's got nothing on that one. Maybe he could make it so cold in there that they'll all leave? Uh… this is kind of a tricky one.


As if summoned by their very words, M-Town's own Pied Piper arrives. Surrounded by a few dozen rats, she looks at the goings on with a touch of anger. She looks to the building and then to the pile of pipes. "Please tell me that my friends are wrong in the fact that you are destroying this building." Inara crosses her arms over her chest and taps a foot, waiting for a response.


"There are numerous rat pups. City protocol says to kill all rats. Religious protocols disagree, with some saying to kill, while others demand simple removal. I am choosing to operate on the 'removal' proposition while my emotional processing is disabled."

He looks at the stranger, and shakes his head. Hearing the woman's words, one or two of the residents - not precisely tenants - begin yelling again.

"No," Mike says in a flat voice, amplified to bullhorn levels. "I am not destroying the building. I am repairing decades of damage. However, I am trying to determine how to do this without killing the animals who live in the crawlspaces."

That gets the guy with the purple skin and eye-stalks a bit upset. "Wait, there's RATS in my building? You gotta get 'em out, the health people'll shut me down!"


Bobby sighs. It's New York for goodness sake. There are rats everywhere. And pigeons which are like rats, but worse. Inara… gets a stare, more for the rats than for the fact that she's a well dressed Persian woman in the middle of M-Town.

"I… um… your friends? The rats… talk to you?" Now he's glad he didn't try freezing them out.


Inara looks over to the landlord with a look of disbelief. "There are rats in every building of New York. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or deluded." She sighs and pets one of the rats that has nestled his way on her shoulder. She looks over Mike carefully and nods slowly. "You will be the one I heard about, doing repairs in M-Town. It's a very honourable pursuit and the fact you wish not to hurt the animals makes me happy. Therefore, I shall help you."

Inara smiles over to Bobby and nods her head. "Yes. All animals do." She moves over to the front of the building and holds out her arms, closing her eyes and concentrating on feeling a strong need to have the animals come to her. The rats are not the only ones that come to her call though. While the rats start to pour out of the building, the other buildings too have their denizens arrive. Cats and dogs too begin to show up, squirrels and pigeons. The street becomes a veritable zoo.


"Yeah, but once we know about 'em we gotta clear 'em out or they come down on us," the guy in the yellow-check business suit says, eyes flailing on their stalks expressively. If only he had a nose…

Mike says, "There are still rat pups. I will remove them." A moment later, a series of brass and aluminum creatures that look like cockroaches with wind-up keys in the back, begin swarming out. They are dragging a woven-metal box, in which are several rat-nests filled with small ratlings. The wind-ups stop next to the creatures which are surrounding Inara. At that point, two steel girders from the truck rise out, and Mike mutters, "reformat, structural support replacement, central gallery," and they change shape and become thinner, lighter, as opposed to the giant heavy things. Of course this lets them separate into ten different pieces of different length; a number of wind-up roaches fly up onto the beams, and they lift into the air to descend into the building. There are a few "crunch" noises from inside and some thudding in the ground and the building — slightly saggy — slowly seems to un-slouch.

"Jeremy?" one of the older women says, as she looks at the rats. "Are you in there, Jeremy?"

A gray-furred rat, slightly larger than the others, comes hobbling out and looks up at her.


Bobby is continually amazed by what Mike can do. Not that he's above helping but this is waaay above and beyond anything he can do. Well that and… wow there's a lot of animals here. "Nice going Mike!" He cheers on his friend, glancing over at all the furry things. "Um… hope they're not upset?" Please don't invite them to move into his apartment…


The Persian woman sits down in the middle of the street now and smiles, letting the animals flock to her. She smiles at them all, talking softly. She looks over to Bobby then. "They are a little concerned for their home, but I will take them to the wilds and relocate them. I know of a few good places."

She then looks over to the woman. "Jeremy says he is sorry he ran away, but that he found some nice lady rats and he always loved the scraps you would put out for him to try to get him to come back home."


"Jeremy was always a rotten kid," the woman says, "but what can you do, your kids grow up so soon, too soon, and turn into rats and run off with their girlfriend … rats .. and you end up with grandkids you never get to meet."

Several dozen other rats, outsized like Jeremy, start moving towards the old woman, sniffing curiously. One of them squeaks, "Gran-Ma?"

At that, Mike says, "I am revising the plans. These rats are also partly human mutant and require living space so that they will be recognized as human offshoot."

There's a whamming noise from inside, as a few more changes happen invisibly, and a hsssss of water, but that stops suddenly as the scanning-roaches find the place where the water pipe was broken. The iron "toothpaste" begins to thin, and slither back inside, with a robo-roach every two or three meters along hopping aboard.

"You will no longer have radiators," Mike says loudly. "I am replacing the heating system with a sealed thermocaust. Every floor can be selectively warmed or cooled, using that system. Fans in the forced-air tubes will allow cold air to be introduced at higher levels. Your pipes are now repaired and cleaned. I can repair and replace the floors or we can replace the damaged wood in them with new hardwood; I have some from a building demolition last week."

The old woman - or maybe just worn - strokes the head of the grand-rat. "Hello sweetheart."

She looks up at Inara. "He was only twelve. He's fifteen now. Did he tell you that? Rats grow old so much faster. But he wouldn't change back."


Bobby just folds his arms and watches kind of hard to keep track of what tech-god and animal-goddess are doing at the same time.

"Any chance you're gonna need a little cold, Mike?" Bobby calls up, while following the conversation with… some confusion. Change back? A shapeshifter perhaps?


Inara sighs to the older woman and nods. "My own girl is a hyena, so I feel your pain. But it looks like you found your family again. I can try talking to him if you like. He might listen to me." She snuggles with the rats and cats around her. None of the animals seem to be attacking each other. She looks over to Mike, curious and fascinated. "It would seem that all the things I heard about you are true then."


The rat starts to change back. It's obvious that he's now physically older than his mother. "I didn't want you to see me like this," he says. One of the female rats comes up and nuzzles him, distressed. He smiles and shifts back to his larger-rat form, and the one who came up earlier shifts and becomes a human girl, about thirteen.

The owner of the building says to the tenants, "So, whatta ya say? You want hardwood?"

There's a general 'yeah' from the ones who aren't sulking over whatever it is that's bothering them.

"One more thing," Mike says. "You have too many people living on the second and third floors with the current layouts. Fourth and fifth are OK. First and second will need more repairs, two rooms are still collapsed. I have some new designs, I'd like you to decide what you like. Since I'm doing this free, Chris has given me permission to make changes, as long as nobody gets kicked out."

That gets some interest. The toothpaste-tube iron has finished infiltrating into the building, and the hole that was punched earlier, begins to close up, but it stops because the rats who live there are out here right now.

The steel-fiber webbing over the surface shifts, making openings for the doors and windows so that the fire escape can be reached.

Mike looks over to Bobby. "Energy expenditure has my internal temperature at 350F. Could you bring me down to 110F?"


Ooooookay. Disney Family Reunion M-Town Edition. Check. That's… Mutants always kind of surprise Bobby, despite him being one. And then Mike talks.

"Sure. Hang on." Luckily Bobby has a good eye for temperature. Reaching out a hand he applies a thing coating of ice to Mike, enough to let it sublimate near instantly which it does in a cloud of steam only to be replaced by yet more ice. It only takes few minutes… even if it does generate a fair bit of steam and water.


Rising to her feet, Inara beckons the rats to follow her. "Come with me. I will help find you a new home." Okay, she doesn't mention that out in the wilds thier lives will be much more complicated and at danger, but that really isn't a selling point when you are trying to move over 100 rats out of a building now, is it?


Jeremy and his kin, and their immediate rat-families, all politely refuse. They're not sad to see the others go, because frankly it was a bit crowded and they weren't great conversationalists, mostly, but they're sentient enough to realize that House is Better Than Fields.

Mike starts to explain the alternate plan to the residents and tenants, using a holographic display…

There are still separate apartments on one side of the first floor, but two apartments near the front on each floor combine into a single, tall room that takes advantage of great lighting to make a sort of greenhouse room. It's visible from the second floor halls, but glass protects it from being a falling hazard.

The former dumbwaiter in the back of the building is converted to a series of rat-apartments.

The second floor apartments, in front, are converted to a set of small private spaces, a common space for working, cooking, and sharing (like the extended families living there currently do anyway) and a larger room as a television and play space for kids. And, one room has dormers, shared sleeping space which can be partitioned off, but where everyone sleeps in a room with lots of fresh air. The way they used to do in the early 20th century.

The third floor has two similar layouts but smaller; the fourth and fifth floors, apartments like the current ones (just as well as most of them are still occupied that way.

"Or we can go back to this," he says, showing the original layout (but with the dumbwaiter still rat-partments) "but if we do that, some of you will have to move out because we have too many people for the beds in the spaces."


Bobby blinks. "Rat… people. Okay. Clearly I've not been living in this place long enough because this still surprises me. Cooled off enough there yet Mike?"


Inara doesn't seem to expect the rats with sentience, nor their families, to join her. The simpler ones follow her. She makes a phone call to her work, asking for a vehichle with sufficient enough cages for that number of rats to help her relocate. She doesn't say a word of goodbye to Bobby or Mike. There and gone again, much like the animals she loves.


"Within safe operating parameters. Thank you, Bobby," Mike says. He tells the residents, "Think about what you want. Meet together with Chris and decide what will work best. He will inform me tomorrow. I need to rest and refuel now."

The truck remains parked in front of the building - the raw materials will be needed - and he begins to walk toward his own building. He notices the woman calling in the assistance vehicle. He smiles. He staggers and goes down to one knee.

"Shit. Emotional grid re-initializing. Ahhhgggg."


Bobby, fortunately, knows what that's about. Unfortunately, he doesn't know what it'll do. Mike had seemed pretty overwhelmed the other day, though he'd spoken of some kind of purging so… perhaps he wont have a psychotic breakdown?


Inara Bahrami and her rescued rats drive away.


"The kid … he just… " Mike slumps to a seated position and starts shaking. He looks up to Bobby, "it didn't work, I didn't do the right thing, they died."


Bobby waves everyone else off, kneeling down with an arm around Mike's shoulder.

"You did the best you could Mike. You had no way of knowing what would happen. It's not your fault. It can't be."

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