If I ever escape from here, I think I’ll become a circus performer, Tom thought as he juggled his Pokéballs. He could keep five in the air at a time now and was hoping to get up to six before Rick allowed him to the leave the game. So far his friend had made some incredible discoveries about what was going on. The mystery user in the I.D.E.A.S. system, whom Rick had named Anon, had been actively rewriting the code for some of the games as well as some of the software for the core A.I. and the automation system. This accounted for some of the new experiences, but Rick was still concerned about the intelligence displayed by some of the system’s elements, most recently an effort made by Tom’s chief rival in Pokémon to use past experiences from Contra and Resident Evil to distract Tom during a battle. Though caught off-guard, Tom was still able to handily win using his expertly trained critters, but the incident still felt like an ill omen.
Rick could find no clue as to Anon’s true identity, or how he had managed to infiltrate his system. I.D.E.A.S. was on a completely separate system from everything else in his house, with no external connections at all. Rick’s research had, however, unearthed logs that documented user activity. His account had seen constant use, as expected, but Anon’s had not been used since shortly after the machine was powered on and Tom had been sucked in.
“So wait, you’re telling me this guy who was messing about in I.D.E.A.S. was logged on when I was sucked in, but hasn’t been seen since?” asked Tom. “Sounds suspicious to me. Well, more suspicious than it already is.”
“Yeah, and the really weird thing is that he’s still technically logged in, but just hasn’t been doing anything.”
“Do you think he’s the cause of all this?”
“At this point I’d say it’s highly likely.”
“Good. Now I have something to look forward to when I get out of here: strangling that guy.”
“We have to find him first. If I can, maybe he can tell me what the hell he did here.”
“Right. And then the strangling.”
“He’s logged in, so he must have a terminal up somewhere. I’m going to figure out how he’s getting into the system and try to track him down from there.”
“Sounds good. Guess I’ll just wait here.”
“You don’t want to beat the game?”
“Why bother? It sounds like you’re close to getting me out of here, and I’m completely safe in Pokémon. Why would I want to leave?”
“Well for one, there’s that army of trainers behind you armed with legendary Pokémon.”
“What are you talking about? There’s no…ah.” Tom turned around and saw an army of rival battlers, each with a plethora of the most powerful and fearsome beasts in the game. Tom could take a few of them on, but he knew that he stood no chance against all of them.
“Aw, crap. I tempted fate, didn’t I?” asked Tom.
“You really did. I think you might want to get out of there now.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right,” Tom said, backing away from the throng of rabid challengers and bolting to the final Pokémon League challenge. Behind him he could hear the roars of creatures ancient and terrible intermingled with the chant of “BATTLE! BATTLE! BATTLE!” issuing forth from the crowd. Reaching the final area, the giant coliseum within Ever Grande City, he shut the doors behind him and ran into the chamber of his first opponent. Once through, the crowd behind him stopped their pursuit; though they still lusted for blood, their inherent coding instilled within them a reverence for this place and its rule of one-on-one battles only.
Fortunately, whatever had caused the changes in the game had left the final trainers unaltered, resulting in a series of easy victories for Tom. One by one, the opposing Pokémon fell to his brutal attacks, until finally he was crowned the Pokémon League’s new champion. As he was about to record his journey in the annals of the League’s history, the familiar white light enveloped him. He breathed a sigh of relief and smiled to himself. As the flash of light subsided, however, the relief was replaced with utter confusion.
“Rick, got a question for you.”
“Shoot,” Rick replied, still preoccupied with tracking down their mystery guest.
“Why do I have incredibly large, yet perky, breasts?”
“What are you talking abou…hunh.”
Rick found himself at a loss for words. As he looked at Tom on the I.D.E.A.S. screen, he could see that Tom did indeed have large, unbelievably perky breasts, along with long legs, tight clothes, and hair packed neatly under a riding cap. Normally Rick would have been excited by the image before him, but seeing Tom like this just seemed wrong. The mounting horror inside of him was only compounded when he realized which game his friend was now playing.
“Goddammit Rick, is this one of your porn games?” Tom demanded. “I swear to god that after I strangle the guy who got me stuck in here, you are next.”
“No, it’s not a porn game! Those are on a separate system!” Realizing what he had just said, Rick withered under Tom’s glare. “You’re in…Barbie Horse Adventures.”
“Barbie Horse Adventures.”
“WHAT?!” yelled Tom.
“BARBIE HORSE ADVENTURES!” Rick screamed back.
“I heard you the second time. Why the hell am I in Barbie Horse Adventures?!”
“Because I uploaded it into the system.”
“I wanted I.D.E.A.S. to have a complete catalogue of games, and that includes Barbie Horse Adventures. It also has Barbie Horse Adventures: Blue Ribbon Race, Barbie Horse Adventures: Mystery Ride, Barbie Horse Adventures: Wild Horse Rescue, and Barbie Horse Adventures: Riding Camp.”
“Rick, did it ever occur to you that maybe some games were not worth putting in the system?”
“No. When I said I wanted to make a system that could play every game, I meant it, even if I had to put Barbie and Olsen twin games in there.”
“That’s it, Rick. When I get out of here, I’m strangling you first.”