It was a wonderful day in a toony town, with Aleph the toony wolf walking down the road with a grin on his face. An anthro duck played on a piano nearby, with the notes coming out crooked to the point that Aleph pressed one of his ears shut. Then, a big anthro hyena passed by, stomping her feet even as she pressed both hand-paws against her ears. When the duck sang, the hyena’s face turned red before throwing down her arms and going over to the duck. Then, with two quick motions, she picked up and slammed the piano on top of the duck, his head popping out from the wooden top and with a mouth full of keys.
Aleph sighed even as one of the black keys zoomed over Aleph’s head, lowering his arm. Soon, he swung his arms forward as though he jogged instead of walked, holding an envelope with the other hand-paw. His red aloha shirt with white flowers fluttered in the wind even as he tugged up his blue jeans. His yellow eyes gleamed in the sunlight, with signs around him saying ‘Christmas in July’ even as his tail, grey with a light blue tip, wagged. A breeze came through, with his pale blue fur fluffing up from the sudden coolness, even if it came from a few snow machines on top of a few roofs.
“Maf,” Aleph said, his white teeth shining. “I hope the snow doesn’t fall on my—”
“TREES!” a voice came from behind along with a door slam. “Too many people making small talk in there, wasting 1 minute and 22 seconds of my time! There got to be a better vegetable shop in this BLASTED town!”
Aleph spun around and waved at the gray fox, but he already walked away, his black cape fluttering from behind while burning a few flakes of snow around him. But Aleph shrugged and spun back around, not even stopping his tail from wagging. Thus, he continued on his quest to find a printing shop, turning from left to right.
Ten minutes passed before Aleph stood in front of a printing shop, his white paint pristine as though painted on yesterday. He set his hand-paws on his hop, with the words ‘ACME’s Printing Shop!’ on the building in bright red lettering. He gave out a wide grin, his tail wagging even faster before he stepped forward.
A fluttering noise came from behind, and he flinched, his ears twitching. He turned around, yet no one was behind him as far as he could tell. He shrugged while tilting his head for a bit, only for a thin line of blue, black, and cream, taller than himself, appeared for a bit. He blinked, and the line disappeared.
“Maf?” Aleph half-squinted his right eye while leaning over. “What was that?” He waited a few seconds before he said, “Must be seeing things.”
He shook his head before turning to the building, a grin returning to his face. And yet, right behind him, a figure twisted himself. This paper-thin figure bent his black leg back even as a breeze came through again. He wiggled against it, but he held on without a sound, and his orange eyes relaxed, his face blue while wearing a black ‘mask.’ He poked at his red bandanna, just as thin, around his blue neck and just over the white flat spike on his chest, and he smiled, his four black appendages on his head wiggling. Then, the Lucario straightened up after a second, invisible from Aleph’s view.
Aleph stepped inside the printing shop, pressing the envelope close against his chest. Though it seemed small on the outside, inside, it was expansive, with many printers, copiers, and laminators within. A sign hung before the door, its black letters saying, ‘No coping yourself,’ and what looked like a small line underneath it. Even so, Aleph couldn’t help but laugh while imagining fifty of himself running amok through the town.
Aleph’s ears twitched as he spun around, his black nose almost touching an anthro otter’s belly. The otter towered over him, his shirt and pants straining to contain his wide width. He rolled his thick finger against his tie while a tooth hung out outside of his mouth. The otter soon grinned before he gave a laugh that was more like a roar.
“How are you doing, my boy?” the otter asked.
“Maf?” Aleph blinked even as the otter slammed his webbed hand-paw against his shoulder, his knees turning into jelly for a second. “I’m doing good. Are you the owner of this store?”
“Indeed, I am!” The otter’s red eyes gleamed. “I am Ben! What’s your name?”
“A-Aleph,” Aleph answered, his knees recovering, and he stood up straight.
“I’m so glad to see you here!” Ben rubbed Aleph’s head-fur, with him blushing from embarrassment in response. “Now, what can I do for you?”
“You needed something printed? Why, of course!” Ben extended his large arms around the store, spinning around. “I had this place built up brick by brick yesterday, after the unfortunate accident when a printer exploded! Unfortunately, the previous owner, last I checked, is still missing! Still, he may be one of the victims undergoing reformation in one of the hospital tubes!”
“That wasn’t what I wanted.” Aleph opened up the envelope and pulled out four Pokémon and Digimon cards. “I wanted these laminated.”
“Ah! That we also do!”
Ben snatched the cards from Aleph’s hand-paws in a quick motion, with him leaning back with a yip. But Ben grabbed four plastic sheets and stuffed the cards in there one by one, making sure that they evened out from the edges. Finally, with his red eyes shining bright, he loaded them into a laminating machine one by one, with the cards coming out in protective plastic.
“Haha! I’m glad that you approve!” But Ben held the cards back when Aleph reached for them, a smirk forming on his face. “Of course, there’s the simple matter of payment.” Aleph’s ears folded back sheepishly. “For this simple project, it’ll cost you $300,000 per card.”
“MAF?!” Aleph’s eyes for a second expanded larger than his face. “I don’t have that kind of money!” Ben shook his head in a tut-tut manner even as Aleph’s tail fluffed up. “Besides, you never told me about how much it’ll cost until after you did the job!”
“Sorry, my boy, but it’s written in line 245 on this roll!” Ben pulled out a paper roll and let it unroll. It landed on the floor and kept rolling until it hit the entrance; it could have gone even longer. “And the sign you encountered by the entrance clearly has printed on it all the prices for the job! You should’ve looked into it closer.” Ben dropped his end of the roll before he stuffed the laminated cards into his shirt pocket. Aleph’s ears drooped even as Ben chuckled to himself. “Still, there is an alternative way of payment that I can offer you!”
Aleph blinked, his ears pointing upwards before he nodded. “Anything would be better.”
“Anything? Wonderful!” Ben slammed his hand-paw on Aleph’s head once more, his knees turning into jelly as he stumbled a bit. “Now then, let us head back to the back of the store!”
Aleph’s eyes spun in spirals before he shook it off. Before he could say anything, Ben had already turned around and walked past printers and copiers to the other end. Aleph extended his arm forward, about to speak, but Ben had already entered a room.
Aleph stood there, alone with the various printing machines even as his ears flattened back. He rubbed against one of the printers with one hand-paw and his chin with the other, one eye half-closed. His belly felt tight, with that side of him begging for him to get out while he still could. And yet, he couldn’t stand losing those cards so soon. After all, when Daren and Zelda left twelve days ago, they snuck in those cards in Aleph’s pocket, which he only found out a day later.
He shook his head and followed Ben’s path.
Yet, the flattened Lucario slid underneath the door, his flat face frowning. He crouched at the roll and, with every sentence he read on it, his face turned red. Soon, he rolled the paper back into a tube position before slicing it with the edge of his flattened hand-paw. Then, upon spotting Aleph’s tail as he entered the room, the Lucario rolled from printer to printer.
In contrast to the main room, the office felt cramped to Aleph. And yet, he couldn’t help but wonder if it was too small even for an office. Also, the paneling on the left didn’t seem like it was set in well, skipping a pattern of gray and white. And there are unusual shadows at the very corner of the wall and floor opposing the desk side.
“Maf?” Aleph tilted his head a bit. “Is this all to your office?”
“Why, of course, it is!” Ben gave a roar of a laugh even as he extended his thick arms at the walls around him. “In any case,” Ben continued, and Aleph felt the back of his neck’s fur stood up, “about the discussion about alternative payment.”
Aleph nodded. “I can guess. Ten or even twenty flattening in a row.”
Ben laughed, becoming more roar-like as it went on, and Aleph’s tail pulled up once more. “You are only somewhat correct!”
Aleph flinched as Ben pressed a button on his desk, chuckling. The wall to Aleph’s left opened up, folding upwards, and a steel roller half Aleph’s size came out. He spun, and before he could react or even turn into his Toon Star form, the roller rolled onto his feet-paws. He yelped, falling down as the roller came closer. It went up to his stomach, chest, shoulder, and finally, his head. He let out a maf, flat as paper if not thinner.
Ben chuckled as he placed the laminated cards on the desk before pulling out a spatula. “Good. You’re at the right level of flatness.”
“Maaaaaaf.” Aleph’s eyes became spirals, with one of his arms rolling up. He lifted his flat head, only for a thin steel sheet to come underneath him. It pushed him up until he popped off the floor. He twisted himself away, extending his arm, only to feel a yank on his flat leg, and he got dragged back. “Maf! What are you doing?”
“Haven’t you guessed?” Ben gave out a wide grin even as his eyes darkened. “The payment is that you get to be a part of my collection.”
Ben went to the other end of the room and pushed away a painting, exposing a bright red button on it. He pressed it, and the wall retracted upwards from the floor. He laughed some more, patting a giant laminating machine hiding within. Beside it was a pair of plastic sheets large enough to fit a flat being, with one of the pair having laminated flat toons within, only able to move their eyes.
Aleph gasped, his eyes widening even as he swung his flat hand-paws at Ben. But he laughed and, pulling out one of the empty sheets, he opened it and stuffed Aleph into it, feet-paws first. He yelped, unable to push the plastic away before extending his flat arms upward. Yet, Ben clutched the end tight, blocking his escape.
“I’ve been waiting years for a wolf like you,” Ben said, placing the terrified Aleph into the machine head first. “I’ve collected all kinds of species, from Pokémon to Digimon, from WoW to Final Fantasy, from A to Z.” He pressed on some buttons on the laminator machine, turning it on. “And you, a blue wolf who is said to have unlocked a Toon Star form, will be the prime jewel of my collection.” He gripped on the lever, his thick tail wagging. “And, with you, I will now—”
At that moment, his eyes widened even as he tripped back, yelling. His back met the floor, the building shaking in response, and Ben groaned. Half a second later, Aleph felt a tug, and the plastic sheet he was in unloosened from the machine. He grinned, sliding out from the top, and rolled a bit before standing up.
He felt a pat on his shoulder and, when he turned, a flat Lucario stood there.
The Lucario grinned before stuffing Aleph’s maw with a hose. He flinched a bit before a rush of air came through his body. Then, he felt filled up with air until he popped back into shape. Soon, the hose got yanked from his maw and, without taking the air from the hose, the Lucario unflattened himself.
“What?” Ben rolled back onto his own two feet-paws, a snarl on his face. “I won’t let my collection get away!”
“And I won’t let you get my Aleph,” the Lucario said, setting himself between them.
Ben growled and swung a fist at the Lucario, but his upper body flattened by itself, bending away from the attack. He then swayed his flattened hand-paw at Ben, with it slicing a button off from Ben’s shirt. Ben’s face turned bright red and, with claws extended, sprung forward.
The Lucario folded down, flattened in a disk shape, and Ben fell forward, his stomach slamming against the floor. Every object not nailed onto the ground jumped up a foot after the impact, and the Lucario unflattened himself, popping back into shape. He gripped on Ben’s tail, yanking him back before slamming him into the wall, with a Ben-shaped impact remaining.
Aleph tilted his head a bit before a lightbulb formed above his head, clicking on. He grinned wide and, even as the lightbulb faded away, he sprinted over to the giant roller. First, he stretched his arms out, grabbing both ends of the roller. Then, with a grunt, he pushed forward.
Ben got up and swung his fists several times, but the Lucario kept on flattening and unflattening out of the way as though he was dancing. He then paused, sweat forming on his head, neck, and chest as he panted. Finally, he turned to the side and blinked as Aleph pushed the roller over to him.
He gulped, pulling out a white flag from his pocket, but the Lucario yanked it off even as the roller slammed against his paws. He screamed, falling down for the last time even as it went up to his legs. Soon, the roller reached his oversized belly, chest, arms, and finally, his head, as flat as paper. Aleph turned back with a grin, with Ben flattened sideways.
“Thanks, Aleph,” the Lucario said even as he stuck the end of a flag under Ben, removing him from the floor. “Shall we give him a taste of his own medicine?”
“Let’s!” Aleph let go of the roller and unstretched his arms. He picked up the plastic sheet and opened an end to it. The Lucario slid Ben into it head first, clutching the open end shut before stuffing it into the machine. Aleph grinned as he gripped the lever. “I’ll start the machine!”
“Huh?” Ben could only blink, unable to move against the plastic. His eyes widened in horror, realizing what was about to happen, and Aleph pulled the lever. He screamed as the machine activated, with him pulled into the machine. The plastic hardened once he went through, freezing him in his wide-eyed, fearful scream position, though he didn’t utter another sound.
“That was amazing!” Aleph picked the Ben card up and leaned him against the wall, with only his eye moving. Aleph then turned to the Lucario and bowed a bit. “And thank you for helping me, sir!”
“Sir?” The Lucario chuckled. “Aleph, don’t you recognize me?”
“Maf?” Aleph tilted his head a bit, sticking his tongue out to the side as one of his ears flattened to the side. “Hmm. You do feel familiar. But I can’t—” But he blinked, the Lucario’s red bandanna and orange eyes clicking in his mind. “Wait a minute. MAF?! Is that you, Nero?!”
“The one and only.” Nero smiled and bowed a bit at Aleph.
Aleph grinned wide before he leaped to Nero, snuggling him close. Nero laughed, carrying his Pokémon trainer Aleph, and they nuzzled each other. Soon, he put Aleph down and patted him on the head.
Aleph’s tailed wagged fast, almost like a propeller. “I haven’t seen you for a year! And you’ve evolved too!”
Nero’s eyes shined as he grinned just as wide. “Yup! Now, I know that you have a ton of questions.” But he pointed at the toon laminated cards. “However, I think we need to help this Ben’s victims.”
Aleph nodded as he grabbed the air tank, with both of them heading to the laminated cards.
The sun fell from the horizon, with the sky became red even as Aleph and Nero stood outside the blocked-off printing shop. Several police cars sat in front of the store, with a couple of officers loading up the still laminated Ben into one of the cards. Several others talked with the restored victims, one of them the missing owner of the previous store. Their testimonies were taken, and calls were made before they left one by one.
“That’s another good deed done,” Nero said with a nod.
“Yup!” Aleph leaned against Nero, holding onto his returned laminated cards before pocketing them. He blushed a bit, turning up to Nero. “I’m still trying to get used to you being the tall one here.”
Nero laughed and patted Aleph’s head. “Took me some time to get used to it as well. The world is mighty different when you’re a foot and a half taller at once.”
Aleph nodded, and they walked away from the printing shop, with Nero’s arm over Aleph’s shoulders. Aleph laughed, and he rubbed Nero’s back, who wagged his tail in response. They stepped on some snow formed from the snow-making machine as they walked down the sidewalk, with both of them laughing.
“I’m still wondering,” Aleph asked while he vibrated a bit, “where did you go to since we parted ways a year ago?”
Nero grinned as he extended one of his arms and flexed it slightly. “What happened was that I met with our fellow friend, A-Ninetales. I love that he got a bandanna like me, by the way. I knew that it’ll look good on him.”
“You did! Woah!” Aleph’s pupils turned into stars for a few seconds, with them stepping onto a cold puddle, with scorch marks on the wall nearby. “I met with him myself some weeks ago, and I call him when I can. Last I checked, he was training someone called Faith on being a macro. Have you seen her while you’re doing your own training?”
“No. I guess she came after me.” Nero rubbed the back of his head. “Still, when I saw just how much stronger he became since we last met, I asked if he could train me. He agreed, and, for three months straight, I’ve trained under his paws. It was rough, though partly because I precisely wanted to learn how to fight while flat, but it paid off. By the end, he couldn’t hit me until he became fifty feet tall.
“He did offer to extend the training, but I declined. So, he left with Saria to some new universe they discovered, and I went into a waterfall. It was somewhat calming to meditate under it, yet surprisingly rough to keep my legs crossed. I wasn’t sure how long time passed, but when I opened my eyes, I discovered that I’ve evolved into a Lucario.”
“Woah!” Aleph tugged against Nero close while he wagged and vibrated more. “That must’ve been awesome!”
“It was at first until I kept tripping on my feet.” Nero blushed in embarrassment. “Took me a week to adjust to my new form. And since then, I’ve been looking for you. Truth be told, I was about to approach you earlier today, but some gray fox slammed a door against me, flattening me in the progress.”
“Maf! Kind of like what happened weeks ago, though I also turned into a fox,” Aleph said, and Nero blinked at him. “It’s a long story, buddy. Still, I’m glad that you’re back!”
Aleph hugged Nero close, his nose under Nero’s chest spike. Nero flinched at how close it was, but he smiled and patted his head. A snow-making machine still ran nearby, causing snow to fall near them and some kids to play in it.
“Of course, I didn’t spend these last several months just looking for you.” Nero’s eyes gleamed a bit. “Before A-Ninetales and Saria left, they offered me some treasure they found in some of the old dungeons. I gave them to a few of our friends, which causes some odd effects, like how one could shrink to the size of an ant. That gave me an idea.”
“Maf?” Aleph’s eyes widened even as he grinned, as though he already knew what was on his buddy’s mind. “What is it?”
“To put it simply, if we gather our friends once more,” Nero said with a grin even as a snowball flew over their heads, “we could form our own group. A toony superhero group where we could travel the world and help out others in need, like those who were laminated in those cards. We could make the world a better place, stopping those like Ben. What do you say, old friend?”
Aleph’s ears straightened upwards before he nodded three times per second for ten seconds. “Yes! That sounds like an amazing idea! Let’s do it now!”
Nero laughed even as the few kids in the snow laughed as well, the snow piling up higher. “That’s what I want to hear. I told them of a meeting spot to head to when I meet with you again. Of course, it’ll take a week to get there, but it won’t be too painless—”
Aleph’s ears flinched, the other kids no longer laughing, and instead, they ran off as quiet as they could. “Maf?”
“Huh?” Nero turned around, seeing no one else outside them and one other. “It’s that gray fox agai—”
“TREES! Are you TRYING to kill me again!”
Aleph gulped even as Nero’s ears flattened back, his eyes widening. The gray fox held up one of his hand-paws, and a massive fireball as bright as a sun formed above it. It soon fired out like a laser, impacting bother Aleph and Nero. An explosion happened, with a tall mushroom cloud the size of a house billowing up even as the two were tossed into the sunset. A star shined where they went before it faded with the rest of the red sky.
The gray fox huffed and stormed away. “And those two were getting too affectionate with each other.”
An hour passed before Aleph and Nero landed, with a ton of dirt blasting out where they impacted. There they laid in the crater, eyes in the shape of spirals and with their bodies covered in bruises and scruff marks. Nero groans a bit, lifting up his head an inch, Aleph laying on his belly.
“A-actually, it’ll take th-three weeks now,” Nero said with a groan. “N-not as good as before, b-but it still could be worse.”
“M-maf,” Aleph said, his face in the dirt.
Commissioned by alephgon
Here is a fun story that Aleph wanted me to write and, funnily enough, it was originally supposed to be one where A-Fox is heavily involved in. What changed? When I shared Aleph this image. It got him to think of a story involving an already flat Lucario saving Aleph from being laminated. Afterwards, the Lucario offered to take Aleph to A-Ninetales to train the ways of being flat.
Of course, the final version is rather different.
In any case, enjoy! =D