Send in the Clowns
rating: +98+x

Agent Whitaker woke up, groaning. He felt like he had one hell of a hangover; there was a noise in his head that sounded like that annoying National Weather Service "braaaaaak" noise, and his face felt… oily. He blinked, and suddenly realized that he was standing up in the middle of a street, and not lying down in bed. What the hell was happening?

He looked at a nearby window, and saw his reflection: his face was painted like a clown, and he was wearing a cowboy hat for some reason. And… was that a sports commentary he could hear? What the hell was going on? Last thing he remembered, he and his team were trying to get into… somewhere…

"Hey, buddy. You're up." He was pushed out of the alleyway by an unseen force, and stepped before a… the best word to describe it was a "dragon" but surely a dragon wouldn't have looked this wrong. Its skin was a combination of scales and rotting flesh, it had at least six eyes, and an opening in its stomach that looked almost like a second mouth. And the stench… It looked angry, and he could see why. On top of it, there was someone that appeared to be trying to ride it, holding on to bits of rotting flesh like a set of reins.

Whitaker ran for it. He was in a city, all right, but… the city didn't make sense. Streets dead-ended into diagonal brick walls. A skyscraper stood right next to a warehouse. Part of what he thought was a school jutted out into the middle of the street. He ran into this last one, hoping for cover from… whatever it was.

A horrible, inhuman voice bellowed "DISGUSTING!" The entire building shook as Whitaker cowered under a desk. He nearly let out a squeak of fear… but no sound escaped his lips. He tried saying the word "apple". Nothing. "barley". Nothing. He couldn't talk.

That was inconsequential. He heard a loud crashing noise; the lizard-thing had broken through the school. He ran out the back. He heard another voice, booming and loud, the same sports commentary he had heard before; something about "rodeo clowns"? Was this some kind of sick joke? And that damn noise in his head wouldn't stop. What the fuck was going on?

The lizard broke through the school, but Whitaker was a block away by then. He looked up, and stopped in his tracks suddenly. There he was, on a jumbotron bigger than entire buildings, showing him running away from the lizard. Below that were spectators, several thousand of them, sitting in a giant grandstand. The jumbotron briefly displayed the words:


Whitaker didn't have time to even think what the actual shit before the jumbotron switched back to him, showing the lizard, presumably 682, right behind him. Its jaws were open… and then they snapped shut on his leg.

The last experience Whitaker felt in his life was indescribable pain.

"So then my dad shot her," intoned Kain. "It was weird."

"What an amazing story, Professor Crow! Let's see how Kondraki is doing!" Clef checked the timer. "Holy 343! Konny's been riding 682 for 3 hours now! 3 hours riding the magic dragon! Someone give this man a Foundation star!"

"It's a pity about the rodeo clowns, though, don't you think?"

"They're just GOC agents, Crow. Nobody will care."

"…remind me what the official purpose of this test is?"

"To test how 682 reacts to urban environments. Didn't you read the brief?"

"Did we have to use an actual city, though?"

"It'll be fine, Kain. Don't be such a worrywart."

Just then, 682 started climbing the Empire State Building. Kondraki still clung on to it as it dove in and out of the building, trying to buck him off. All the while, the two of them could be heard cursing. 682's speech went something along the lines of "Get off me you filthy human!", while Kondraki simply laughed from exhilaration and cursed as he tried to dodge flying glass.

Finally, 682 reached the top of the building, and with a swing of its head, shook Kondraki off. Within 2 minutes, the man was a puddle of red mist on the pavement below.

"And Kondraki clocks in at 3 hours, 10 minutes! Not bad!" Clef looked at Kain. "Have someone scrape him off the pavement, will you?"

Kain grumbled a bit, before speaking into the mic, "The 682 Rodeo is brought to you by Taco Bell. Live Mas. Coming up: the tie-down, and more bareback 682 riding! But first, these messages."

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