2029 Warwick, RI
Adam Brooks sat on a street corner as several trucks rolled by toward an empty field. He was fascinated by the banners and signs, it appeared to be an old fashioned carnival. He watched as the raised a large sign that read 'Thomas Tipton's Traveling Zoo. He looked at the other signs showing the Menacing Bat child, and the human Minotaur and the like.
A pudgy man with an awkward attempt at a handlebar mustache oversaw the work. He looked over and noticed Adam in his trench coat and hood standing out like a sore thumb on this 90 degree Summer day. He approached the boy, "How long have you been on the streets son?"
Adam looked over, "About a year sir."
Mr. Tipton asked, "How about you let me see under that hood."
Adam looked at the smiling man and nervously showed his face. Tipton stood up straight,"We're far from rich around here but we got a roof and some food. How'd you like to join the show?"
Adam had been nervous at first about taking a new job as an oddity but he quickly came to enjoy the others who worked around him. The cast consisted entirely of animal spliced trans humans and those who had been deformed in some way by the process but they didn't feel exploited. Adam's roommate Ted better known as the Human Minotaur put it best, "If the Normies are dumb enough to pay me for standing around and looking scary then I may as well take their cash and put it to better use."
Tipton was often accused of using these kids but then he'd ask his accusers,"Would any of you care to give these kids a home?" This was always met with silence. After hours they were like a big family.
2041 Wheaton, IL Fair grounds
Foxtrot company walks into the Traveling Zoo along with Detective Costello who had no authority here but Reed felt it best to keep an eye on the group.
Sara looked disgusted,"I can't believe these people allow themselves to be exploited like this."
Adam sneers,"Not all of us are able to hide our nature Costello, perhaps you aren't the one to pass judgement on these people."
She glared,"What's his problem?"
Rob stepped up behind her,"He used to be an attraction here, considers these folks his family."
They stepped to a tent after the last show of the day, the Sign now read the Menacing Man Bat. Once inside a small man with bat like features ran up to the cage growling. Adam stepped up,"Showtime's over Barry."
He looked over to Adam and relaxed,"Thank god, that growl is murder on the throat."
He swings the cage door open revealing the lock to be nothing more than a prop glued to the door.
Adam looked down,"What's this problem you called about?"
He waved them on,"Tipton isn't worried but lately we've been having trouble with this protest group, apparently they have some problem with us earning a living, I've heard rumors about these guys. They claim to be all about splicer rights but splicers who disagree with them have a habit of disappearing."
Adam sat on a bench as they entered the crew dinning area,"Have you tried explaining that most of the attractions have partial ownership?"
Barry gave him an annoyed look,"Yea, they don't care, Of course they didn't give us any valid options for keeping ourselves fed if we did shut down either. I'd love to go work on Wall Street."
Sara chimed in, "Surely you can do better than this."
Barry looks back, "I make 6 figures a year for 3 months of growling at people from my foam rubber cage. How much do you make at your respectable job?"
Rob's jaw drops,"6 figures?! Where do I sign up?"
Tipton enters,"Sorry, you ain't got the right look for it. Adam, we've missed you."
A woman with Cat like features walks in behind glaring at Adam as Tipton continues,"Well most of us have any way."
A few hours later
As the troupe and Foxtrot company sit around talking and having a few drinks they notice a group of around 20 protesters approaching. One steps forward, "We will no longer allow you to keep our kind in cages."
Ted the Minotaur gets up and marches toward them,"The cages are made of rubber, they don't even have locks on them. Look I know working at a gas station sucks and all but you all need to find something better to do with your free time. Though your lady friend there working on her beard might have a job here, sure it's a bit old fashioned but maybe we can grab a nostalgia crowd."
The protesters look angry causing Rob and Max to walk out to try to control the situation.
Max stands between Ted and the group,"Look folks I understand where you're coming from but you've all got the wrong idea about this place."
Rob cuts in,"Yea, these guys get paid better than I do, I mean a lot better. Seriously I'm kind of a bit pissed at how much better. But that's beside the point, all that's happening here is a show, they get paid and they're free to come and go as they please."
The head of the group yells,"That's not the point, the point is that they shouldn't have to live in cages."
Ted interrupts, "We don't, that's just for show, I got a really nice trailer in the back and a condo in Tampa for the off season."
Rob looks up, "You have a condo?!."
The group leader's eyes start glowing red, "What is the price for your pride?"
Rob interrupts again,"6 figures and a condo would do it for me."
The group leader shoots an energy beam from his eyes hitting Rob sending him to the ground.
Max looks back,"Okay, you want to play it that way."
He engulfs his hands in flame and burns a line across the field between them and the protesters but one of the group spreads ice to douse it. He then attempts to freeze Max who laughs off the attempt with a wave of heat, "Oh come on, the whole fire vs ice thing? A little played out don't you think?"
He tries to form an ice ball but is hit by Brian moving too fast to be seen sending the man flying back a few yards. A man walks up increasing his muscle mass as he approached and went to swing on Max but was tackled by Ana who drives her fist into his face breaking his nose and several of his front teeth. He hurls her off and makes himself even larger. As he's about to stomp he Ted grabs him by the back of the head,"Allow me to show you the advantages of being literally as strong as an Ox."
He slams the man's face hard into a tree breaking more teeth. He slurs out, "I have the strength of 10 men."
Ted chuckles,"Which equals half a weak bull." He then delivers a punch to the man's kidneys causing him to piss himself."
Suddenly the all hear Adam in their heads,"STOP!"
He marches into the field, "So let me get this straight, you guys just wander around attacking your own kind just for disagreeing with you? You bunch of dicks can pass for normal we can't. We all had irresponsible jack ass parents just like you but at least yours didn't turn you into monsters cause they thought it'd look cool."
The leader started,"We are trying......"
Adam sent a psychic scream into his skull driving him to the ground. Some of the protesters attempted to rush to his aid but Adam had locked them all in place. Adam leaned down,"You want to go protest on capital hill for fair work practices and get these guys good jobs at decent pay, I'm all for it but I want you to take a good long look at Ted over there, you see these aren't the people to be bullying. I know all about your little group here, your all talk and the only people you ever go after are your own people for not living up to your standards."
He then looks deep into the leaders eyes,"Your name is Martin Jones, you live at 1032 Elm street St. Cloud, Minnesota. You or any of your people ever threaten this group again and I'll pay a visit to your house maybe tell your wife how her beloved husband really gets his jollies with his friend Jim whenever she's out of town."
The man with ice powers looks guilty as his wife with a protest sign glares at him. Adam stands up, "Leave now, and maybe I won't give you a stroke, you think Jim will still think you're pretty if half your face doesn't work?"
The protesters run away as Adam helps Rob to his feet,"Remind me never to piss you off."
Adam replies,"But then I'd feel left out."
(To be continued)