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Old February 21st, 2013 (11:32 AM).
Cutlerine Cutlerine is offline
Gone. May or may not return.
    Join Date: Mar 2010
    Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
    Age: 23
    Nature: Impish
    Posts: 1,030
    > try that scanner thing and scan the thing.
    > See what happens if you give That Thing a lava cookie. Check to see if the Long-Range Scanner Attachment will fit on your pokedex, but you probably shouldn't use it as it said it would drain your battery.

    On second thoughts, perhaps bribery would work better than parley. That Thing doesn't seem to have the intellectual capacity to understand the concept of language, but from the way he looks at you you're willing to bet he understands the concept of food.

    You release him again and toss him one of your Lava Cookies. Since it's moving, he bites it, and since his mouth is nearly a foot wide, it vanishes pretty fast.

    That Thing pauses. He strokes what might, were he human, pass for his chin.

    If you didn't know he was about as smart as the cookie he just ate, you'd swear he was considering the flavour.

    In the end, he turns his head to one side and vomits noisily. It is the most foul-smelling thing you have ever encountered, and only the certain knowledge that That Thing would eat you while you were out prevents you from passing out at the smell.

    You recall him, and make a vow to never, ever do that again.

    Moving to the other end of the room, you take the Long-Range Scanner Attachment out of your Bag and look it over thoroughly. It appears to consist of a little radar dish, a blue LED and a USB stick; this leads you to question whether or not it will do anything but spin around and light up if you plug it in, but this is, of course, the same world where you can create localised time aggregations in your back yard if you really want to, so you look around for something to attach it to and settle on your Pokédex.

    Installing device driver software... Please wait.

    Stupid Pokédex. Enough computer power to scan an animal, extrapolate its habits from its morphology and compose a dictionary entry on it within seconds – but it still takes forever to install anything.

    Several minutes of foot-tapping and frustrated sighing later, the Pokédex announces it's done.

    Othodox's Pokédex has been upgraded!

    The Radar Mode is now available!

    Based on what was in Hawkins' note, you're guessing the Radar Mode will drain the power pretty fast if you leave it on, but you'll never know what it does if you don't at least give it a try. And if it runs out of charge... well, there must be some batteries around here somewhere, anyway.

    You tap the new 'Scan' icon that's appeared on the Pokédex screen; on the Scanner Attachment, the radar dish starts twirling on its stalk. An image of a Poké Ball fills the screen, and a radial line sweeps around it once. You grimace. Why scientists feel every single GUI in the world has to be Poké-Ball-themed, you will never know.

    The Pokédex displays:

    Two (2) Pokémon found!
    One (1) Eldritch Form Chikorita found!
    One (1) Eldritch Form Cyndaquil found!

    You stare at the screen for a full minute before remembering to turn the radar off.

    You don't know what you hoped to see, but this definitely isn't it.

    > now that we know That Thing's a jerk through and through, focus on your next task; looting the rest of the houses!
    > After looting the houses, look for a Pokemon center, maybe you can use their machine to heal it!

    In light of your recent discovery – that there are two more terrifying monsters somewhere in New Bark Town – you elect to heal That Thing before you go out looting. You pop his ball into the healing machine and bring up the requisite program on Elm's PC; a few clicks later and the speakers play a tinny jingle, informing you that That Thing is now fully restored to fighting condition.

    That Thing has 113 Hit Points!

    With his oil-dripping Poké Ball in hand, you walk cautiously over to the door of the lab, ready to throw it and run at the first sign of trouble. You're really not sure That Thing will obey any orders you give him to attack, but hopefully he'll take the trouble to eat the enemy's face before he comes after yours.

    New Bark Town is still as quiet as the grave. Even the omnipresent wind has died down to silence; above the town, the clouds hang motionless in the air and the turbines seem to sleep on their metal pylons. The sun shines. The waves lap.

    No birds sing, and your footsteps sound very, very loud as you step onto the sandy path.

    You take a deep breath – I have a demon crocodile with me, nothing can hurt me, nothing's going to eat my face – and walk on, avoiding the path and treading as softly as you can. There's a house right in front of you, but the door is around the other side (it's that blasted top-down perspective again) and you have a horrible, horrible feeling that something is waiting on the other side of it.

    But there might be stuff there. Stuff you can use to survive, or bolt onto your Pokédex to upgrade it in innovative ways, or build a cunning tree disguise out of so that future eldritch abominations don't see you. Stuff you need.

    So you creep on, past the exit to Route 29, and then slink quietly along down the house's wall until you reach the corner. You peer around, and—


    You heave a massive sigh of relief. That's the first bit of luck you've had today, and man did you need it. Edging around the corner, you enter the house and give it a thorough combing-over. It's a pretty eclectic bunch of stuff you come away with, but you feel that most of it could probably either be used as a hold item or to make some kind of Dadaist weapon.

    Othodox found one Gaffer Tape! Othodox put the Gaffer Tape in the Adhesives Pocket.

    Othodox found one Potion! Othodox put the Potion in the Medicine Pocket.

    Othodox found one Toy Giraffe! Othodox put the Toy Giraffe in the Adorable Pocket.

    Othodox found one Togepi Egg Shard! Othodox put the Togepi Egg Shard in the Bits o' Egg Pocket.

    What is with these bits of Togepi Egg all over the place? Surely they can't be part of some gigantic item collection quest, wherein you gather a certain number of them and then obtain Ridiculously Vast Power of some kind? That would surely be stupid.

    Far too stupid.

    And the Narrator would never have highlighted the possibility like that if it were true, because let's face it, if there's anyone here who actually wants to see you end up lying in a ditch with your face ripped off, it's him.

    Shaking your head, you walk out of the house and straight into a pillar of smoke and fire.


    Oh crap oh crap oh crap—

    You leap backwards through the door, and a waist-high something barrels through after you, its humped back trailing gouts of black smoke and unnatural green flame.

    A momentary warmth engulfs your lower regions.

    Withered claws, scorched fur; seared skin, blistered lips; a stubby blunt tail and a bone blade of a head, all hunched up beneath a roaring, raging emerald inferno and bearing down on you like a charging bull. The stench of crude oil and burning plastic fills your nose, burning your throat, and you gag as you fling yourself out of the monster's way, coming to rest under the table just as it crashes loudly into the far wall.

    Flames fan out from the point of impact like ripples around a stone in water, racing with supernatural speed across the wall. You look on with horror, and estimate that there can only be a few minutes before the whole house goes up – something that, frankly, you'd rather watch from outside. Crawling out from under the table, you're about to sprint for the door when a fearsome gurrk sounds behind you.

    Something tells you to get to one side.


    A deft side-step and the beast is past you in a blur of green and black. It collides with the remnants of the door and the wood gives way spectacularly, catapulting flaming debris everywhere in glittering arcs and instantly creating a six-foot wall of flame between you and the exit. You skid to a halt, staring at the blaze and swearing violently, and are about to look around for another way out when something else catches your eye.

    There's a shadow on the other side of the fire, and it's getting closer, and—

    The monster bursts through the flames and stops short in front of you, crouching low and raising that skinless head in a roar that blows the glass out of the TV. Flecks of boiling saliva pepper your face and clothes, singeing a hundred little holes in the fabric, and a dry reek of petrol floods your sinuses.

    For a moment, all you can do is stare. Did this thing plan this? Did it deliberately try and trap you here within the flames so it could finish you at its leisure?

    Then the monster lowers its head, the flames on its back leaping still higher, and you put the matter from your mind. Right now, you've got other things to worry about.

    Like how the hell you're going to get out of this one alive.

    For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.