> Problem Sleuth: Encounter fourth member of sleuthing team
You are patrolling the gritty imaginary streets of the city, searching for leads that will help you elucidate an unspecified but undoubtedly hardboiled crime. You’ve been on the track of this unknown miscreant for weeks, and you’re no nearer to tracking him down. To be fair, you were distracted by Weird Puzzle Shit at several points during the investigation. The streetlights flicker. Somewhere in the night, an ugly dog barks. It’s a rotten town with a lot of rotten people in it, and it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it, so you’re ready to bust some heads and take names but not chew bubble gum. Yes, that sounds about right.
As you turn into a dank alleyway contemplating this nest of sin and corruption, a DARK FIGURE steps out of the shadows. His face is hidden in shadow, an admittedly dashing fedora on his head. He nods in your direction.
You belatedly register the TIGER standing at his side. It is also wearing a fedora.
He takes a slug from his hip flask. “The name’s TRACER BULLET. Listen, I’ve got two shots in me and another six in my good friend here, and not much time to mess around with you squares. So if you know what’s good for you—put an egg in your shoe and beat it, pal, or I’ll fill you with daylight.”
You are impressed with this newcomer’s mastery of HARDBOILED MONOLOGUING. This will not do. You have a monopoly on HARDBOILED MONOLOGUING around here.
The tiger at his side rolls his eyes. (You were not aware that there was a fifth kingdom. The weasels would probably flip the fuck out at the mere sight of this majestic beast in a fedora.) Said majestic beast yawns mightily.
You cannot let yourself be intimidated by this tiger, however—these are your streets, and you’ll not tolerate any interlopers.
> PS: Prepare for a SHOWDOWN.
You pull out your KEY in preparation. It makes a satisfying KA-CHINK noise.
Tracer Bullet summons A T-REX IN AN F-14.
Your IMAGINATION is no match! You cannot hope to defeat Tracer Bullet in an imagine-off. He is simply the best there is.
> PS: Appeal to PI for help.
Sadly, PI is busy being his PAST SELF and cannot come to your aid with a STARBURST ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUN.
You had hoped to avoid this.
You take off your hat, reach inside and counter his T-REX IN AN F-14 with CANDYCORN VAMPIRE.
Tracer Bullet is suitably impressed. However, he is not done yet. Pulling out a brown paper bag, he reaches inside and becomes PBJ ZOMBIE. He devours the sandwich in an appropriately messy manner. It is a gruesome and frightening sight.
The tiger shrugs and becomes TUNA SANDWICH ZOMBIE. Or at least, he would (as Tracer Bullet elbows him and prompts him to do so), but the tiger points out that he has no TUNA SANDWICH in his inventory, a fact that should be remedied as promptly as possible. You have no tuna sandwich, but you offer the tiger a torso from your inventory via the ever-popular TORSO FLAIL technique. The tiger is unimpressed.
It is now time for truly drastic measures.
> PS: Play CALVINBALL for the fate of the UNIVERSE.
It involves thirteen instances of hopping on one foot to negate a no-wicket-moving penalty, two recitations of the “Tigers are really great” poetic epic, nine abuses of the vortex zone, four out-of-reality play violations, and ends with a score of R to i^4n to 314.
It is beautiful. Death sheds a single tear.
Preliminary greetings exchanged, you ask Tracer Bullet if he knows anything about this unspecified hardboiled problem of yours. He says no, unless you have information regarding the vicious murder of an unsuspecting lamp. The tiger whistles innocently and says that he certainly didn’t have anything to do with it. Another dead lead.
You have wasted far too much time on this nonsense, and you need to get back to what you were doing. Gracious in victory, Tracer Bullet offers to make up for lost time. He invites you back to his office and flips over his fort. (You briefly wonder about the implications of having a fort inside a fort, but decide not to think about it.) He pulls out a marker and makes minor adjustments, recommending that you wear goggles while inside the time machine. Said time machine looks remarkably like a cardboard box, but your astute sleuthing skills cannot be fooled.
You step inside. The tiger waves goodbye.
> Tracer Bullet: Be Stupendous Man.
You cannot be STUPENDOUS MAN because you are already SPACEMAN SPIFF!
Marooned on a meteorite of mercilessly murderous beings with no motive but to maim and mangle, our intrepid hero readies his Death Ray Blaster! What tortuous trials await him in this barren wasteland? What horrifying creatures stalk him from the shadows?
“uHH, hI, aRE yOU LOST OR SOMETHING,”
Spaceman Spiff whirls around at this savage growl! The alien stands before him, a strange grey being with vicious teeth and absurdly large orange horns. What will our hero do??
“wHOA, tHAT’S A REALLY COOL, uH, wEAPON,”
“aRE YOU, uHH, rOLEPLAYING TOO?”
The green-clad alien exposes his knife-like fangs! But our fearless space explorer does not back down—indeed, his finely tuned senses tell him that the alien seems to be making diplomatic overtures.
“Speak your piece, alien ambassador, and I might be merciful!”
“uH, wOW, yOU’RE REALLY IN CHARACTER,”
“i’M, uHH, tAKING A BREAK RIGHT NOW THOUGH,”
Before the alien can finish its sentence, the ever-vigilant Spaceman Spiff feels a presence at his back! He turns, his blaster close at hand, and finds himself confronted with a gaping maw filled with knives.
Our hero most certainly doesn’t jump.
“Um— identify yourself! I am Spaceman Spiff, galactic explorer.”
“hI TEREZI, eR, rEDGLARE,”
The vicious creature sidles up to Spaceman Spiff, circling him.
“HMMM, TH3 ST1NK OF GU1LT 1S POURING OFF OF YOU, SP4C3 H3RO!”
Spaceman Spiff steels himself not to react. How could this creature possibly know of the scurrilous false accusations levelled against our hero by the Zog court?? Spaceman Spiff had been nowhere near that sacred light-giving-object when it had broken, but these slanderous lies have hounded our hero mercilessly.
“WH4T 1S TH4T YOU S4Y, 1NSP3CTOR B3RRYBR34TH? H3 1S MOST C3RT41NLY GU1LTY? 1 4GR33 3NT13R3LY.”
Zounds! The Zog court's vile tendrils of corruption have already snaked into the draconian local authorities.
“Stay your lying tongue, Berrybreath!”
“TH3 COURT D3M4NDS 4 FULL 1NV3ST1G4T1ON!”
“Do your worst. I will never accede to your demands!”
“tHIS ONE GUY, iNVITED ME OVER FOR, uHH, pIE, aND, sWEETENED FLAT GRUBCAKES,”
“yOU AND YOUR MEOWBEAST LUSUS COULD, uH, cOME TOO, i GUESS,”
The alien makes a conciliatory offering of baked goods! Our hero is still wary, but willing to consider this admittedly appealing invitation. The dashing Spaceman Spiff makes a daring decision: he will go undercover and infiltrate this alien lair!
“Lead me to your tea party, alien! With our combined mights, we may yet overthrow the tyrannical yoke of the Zog once and for all.”
“Y3S, TH3 COURT GR4NTS 4 ST4Y OF 3X3CUT1ON 1N ORD3R TO 1NV3ST1G4T3 TH3S3 GRUBC4K3S.”
“uH, gREAT, tHAT’s GOOD, i HOPE YOU LIKE PIES,,,”
======> Spaceman Spiff: Partake in alien baked goods
You cannot partake in delicious grubcakes because your DAD is calling you from downstairs to join them for their twenty-mile hike because it builds CHARACTER. You’d think that after that camping trip last summer, your CHARACTER CHALICE would be all maxed out, but your dad apparently thinks otherwise.
On the bright side, your mom hasn’t noticed the lack of lamp in the living room yet.
======> Spaceman Spiff: Be Calvin.
Your name is CALVIN.
You are THIRTEEN YEARS OLD. You have a variety of INTERESTS, which are constantly shifting, but currently include PALEONTOLOGY and FIGHTER JETS. But also COMICS and ASTROPHYSICS and a ton of other things. You want to become a FIGHTER JET PILOT-PALEONTOLOGIST when you’re older, but then again, you wanted to move to KHAZAKSTAN and become an EAGLE HUNTER last week, so it’s all up in the air. You have a penchant for CREATIVE BUSINESS IDEAS. Your latest is an ONLINE SERVICE for express internet-delivered swift kicks in the butt, for all the people on the internet that need a swift kick to the butt delivered though their screen. Okay, the actual implementation might be challenging, but you’re sure there’s a market for it. You’re already considering expanding into internet-delivered high fives.
A TIGER is lounging on your bed.
===> Calvin: Go see who is pestering you
You check your pesterchum. Susie isn’t online, but it looks like she finally unblocked you after that thing with the lizard in her locker. Hey, it looks like that guy is pestering you.
-- ectoBiologist [EB] started pestering unabashedUpstart [UU] at 4:17 --
EB: hey calvin!
You guess you should start gluing that lamp back together. ===> Calvin: Elmer the heck out of that lamp. By now, the lamp is approximately 92.7% Elmer’s Glue, 2.1% lamp, and 5.2% tiger hair. Maybe you shouldn’t have let Hobbes hold it for you, since he shed all over it and then you glued one of his paws to the base. Nevertheless, it is a masterpiece. Well. It works, so function over form and blah blah blah. Besides, you have more important things to do. ===> Calvin: Explore. You and your tiger go exploring.
UU: so, since you’re here
UU: i have a hypothetical question
EB: shoot! well, not literally, haha.
UU: so hypothetically
UU: if you broke a hypothetical thing
UU: like a hypothetical lamp
UU: what would be the best hypothetical course of action
UU: as broken lamps go, it’s pretty good!
UU: all avant-garde and stuff
UU: a readymade post-structuralist commentary on consumer society
UU: some people pay a lot of money for this!
UU: but try telling that to my mom
EB: hm, good question!
EB: oh boy, was it the unfortunate victim of another project?
UU: nah, just SOMEONE being a jerk
UU: I protest these baseless accusations
UU: hobbes gimme back the keyboard geez
EB: hey, is hobbes there? hi, hobbes!
UU: well, maybe someone shouldn't have tackled me when I was just innocently walking along
UU: Well maybe if someone didn't have inferior human reflexes
UU: well maybe someone is a fur-brained asdfasdjfhdsjjsksllll
UU: skdfjsahdfasasaa GET OFF YOU FURRY LUNK
UU: You still owe me a tuna sandwich
UU: okay, okay, fine!
EB: haha, you are kind of weird, calvin.
UU: but seriously, i need a plausible cover story
UU: THAT HATE LAMPS
EB: oh no! whatever could you possibly do to counter this threat?
UU: or maybe lamps are something really gross in their culture, or something
UU: point is
UU: they unleash a merciless precision strike against that lamp!
UU: the ray beam cuts through the sky!
EB: a direct strike.
EB: the carnage, the carnage!
EB: the smoke clears.
UU: and there lies an innocent lamp rent to pieces
EB: will the casualty live, doctor??
UU: he’s dead, john
EB: such a tragedy.
UU: think she’ll buy it?
EB: seems pretty plausible to me!
UU: unless we try reviving the victim with
UU: elmer’s glue! (it’s kinda dry but it should work right)
EB: hey, give it a try, you never know.
UU: whoops gotta go, my dad’s threatening to shut off the breaker again
UU: you’d think he wants us to live in the 18th century or something
EB: he should meet my dad! he really is a an old-fashioned kind of dude. they can talk about shaving cream and dad stuff like that.
EB: see you!
-- ectoBiologist [EB] ceased pestering unabashedUpstart [UU] at 4:46 --
You guess you should start gluing that lamp back together.
===> Calvin: Elmer the heck out of that lamp.
By now, the lamp is approximately 92.7% Elmer’s Glue, 2.1% lamp, and 5.2% tiger hair. Maybe you shouldn’t have let Hobbes hold it for you, since he shed all over it and then you glued one of his paws to the base. Nevertheless, it is a masterpiece. Well. It works, so function over form and blah blah blah.
Besides, you have more important things to do.
===> Calvin: Explore.
You and your tiger go exploring.