As Lucy distributed her stats as evenly as possible, I stared morosely at my own information. What was I even doing in this game, anyway?
|Name: Mr. Familiar||Race: Peck-Peck|
|Main Class: Peckserker||Sub Classes: --, --|
|Level: 8||Stat points: 0|
|Cuteness: 11||Flexibility: 26|
|Expressiveness: 24||Plushitude: 31|
"Peckserker"? Seriously? I wracked my brain trying to think if I'd opened my interface since Lucy gained her class, but came up empty. I guess maybe I just didn't notice the class change because I'd only glanced at my stats when Lucy was messing with them.
That was honestly almost as bad as Plushitude…which was now solidly my best stat. Flicking son of a…ahem.
In any case, Peckserker sounded like some sort of freaky euphemism and I was having nothing to do with it, thank you very much. Ignorance, thy name was bliss.
Lucy wasn't paying any attention to me—understandable, since I was still perched on her shoulder—but I theatrically raised an arm and slapped myself in the face on pure principle. Tinkalink!
Excuse me, what? That was the "learned a skill" sound.
I swapped over to my skills section, and sure enough there was a new entry.
|Name: Disco Smooth||Type: Active|
Your high Expressiveness, impressive Plushitude, and unique movements have proven that you have what it takes to get down and get funky! You have access to basic dance emotes.
…did I just unlock a dance skill by facepalming?!
Every time I thought this game couldn't get more infuriating, it proved me wrong. Every. Flicking. Time.
Also, WHAT THE FLICK DOES "DISCO SMOOTH" EVEN MEAN?! And how am I supposed to activate it in the first place? And WHY would I WANT to activate it in the first place?
Seriously! "Peckserker uses Disco Smooth! It's SUPER, ULTRA, UTTERLY FLICKING USELESS!"
Me and Witchy? We were going to have words. And if I ever ran into that piece of scribble deity I was going to stick my Plushitude right up in his grill and Disco Smooth straight on his flicking face!
…pant pant pant…
Okay, fine, fine. I'm cool. I'm fine.
Well, I guess only one question remained: what constitutes a basic dance move?
Because as tempting as it was to ignore such a useless skill, I might as well see what it did first. Who knew, maybe it would even be helpful…somehow.
Pffft, right. Oh, well, didn't hurt to try. Though now that Lucy was heading back to town, I wasn't quite sure how I was going to experiment with dance moves.
Back in town, Lucy was happily traversing down the dialog trees of every single NPC shopkeeper she could find, and I'd cooled off enough to actually try to activate Disco Smooth.
Unfortunately, there was one itsy bitsy little hang-up: I couldn't dance.
Well, I mean obviously I could theoretically dance, given the skill, but I'd never really danced in my past life outside of a couple of painfully embarrassing episodes in middle school and high school that I absolutely was not going to think about. Ever.
Also, what counted as "disco"? And was I only able to do disco moves, or did "basic dance emotes" encompass other styles, as well? I had a vague recollection there was some disco move where you shoved one arm in the air and sort of cocked your hips in the opposite direction…except I didn't have hips. Well, whatever, worth a try.
I stabbed an arm upward. Nothing. Maybe a little more outward? No. What if I shove my arm up at an angle and sort of slide my opposite leg outward—oh?! Ohhh, what the hinterland, this was bizarre.
My body was suddenly moving on its own, with the arm that I'd shoved up into the air shooting outward, and then sort of curling back down to my center as my opposite talon slid back and forth to counter-balance. After a few repetitions of that, my body smoothly shifted so that I was doing it with the other arm and leg.
What a weird feeling. I couldn't take it for very long and when I tried to break out found myself stumbling forward because I'd used too much force. Well, at least it was easy enough to take control of my own motions again.
It was also utterly useless, as expected. Though I'd bet Ray would have a pretty hilarious reaction if I managed to get in front of him while he was trying to fight and started doing that. Heh. Yeah, that was totally happening.
In any case, the emote said "basic dance emotes", plural, so there had to be other things I could do. What were some other moves that I'd seen in videos and such? I'd hit the limit of my knowledge of disco, sadly, but maybe other styles would be valid, despite the stupid skill name.
I could only be thankful that Lucy was so into talking to NPCs in obscure, ill-frequented shops, because what followed next was an extremely embarrassing series of wiggles, hops, and body contortions as I tried to discover the movements that would activate my dance skill.
As was typical for me when I was trying to brute force my way into a skill through trial and error, most of attempts were firmly in the "error" camp. However, I did discover something interesting, purely by accident when I needed to quickly abort my antics as Lucy stepped backward and right into my space: if I sort of slid my talons so that I was walking backward without ever really leaving contact with the ground, partway through the first step some weird dance move would take over and I'd end up sashaying my way backward. Which wasn't really all that noteworthy, except that it caused me to move significantly faster than my normal waddle.
Granted, I hadn't run up against a big need in my life for walking backward, and I had a hunch that running into something I couldn't see would shunt me out of the dance move nice and quick, but the fact that a dance move could move me from point A to point B faster than my normal speed was huge. That meant that if I could find the right dance move, I could drastically improve my mobility. Hinterland, if I really lucked out and figured out a move that would launch me into the air, maybe I could use that to take off from a standing position. I vaguely recalled some forms of dance being pretty diddly acrobatic, although maybe that wouldn't count as basic? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I supposed.
So I kept on venturing, until eventually Lucy finished her shopping and logged off.
Didn't gain anything, though.
As soon as Lucy logged in again, she headed out of town. Apparently the third story quest wasn't turned in to Witchy, but rather to an NPC in an outpost near where we'd started tracking the plorgs in the first place. Well, whatever, I had it on good authority that we'd be back in Witchy's office after the fifth quest. I supposed I could wait until then.
After talking to the outpost NPC, we headed back into the woods, Lucy hefting her hammer and humming a short segment of some song I didn't know under her breath. Over and over and over. After a few iterations of that, I started flying as far away from her as possible. It was weirdly catchy, and I really didn't feel the need to be subjected to that repeatedly. Seriously, Lucy, what the hinterlands? Just stop it already!
If only she would ask me something like, "Would you like me to stop humming?" because without a yes or no question I was at a bit of a loss how to get her to cut it out.
Thankfully, we eventually made it to the cave system that was evidently where the quest started, and Lucy lit into a pair of plorgs who were loitering around outside the cave entrance without a shred of hesitation.
These two gave her a bit more trouble, though, and it occurred to me: the story quests weren't really meant to be binged, huh? They tended to jump in difficulty between quests, presumably because the player was supposed to be taking on side quests and completing them, as well, or partying up with other players. Except there was no sign of Doc at the moment, and I wasn't even sure what RayBanz would try to pressure Lucy into doing at this point. She'd well and truly flicked his game plan of raising a perfect little ranged damage dealer.
Ah well, I supposed I could always step in if she got backed into a corner. I hadn't much enjoyed getting hit with an axe before, but it hadn't resulted in any lasting damage, so if I had to I'd certainly do it again.
Until then, though, I figured I might as well try to unlock some more dance moves in hopes of getting one that would increase my forward mobility.
I tried to recreate the sliding motion that triggered the backward dance move, except moving forward. No luck.
Lucy reduced a plorg that appeared to have mushrooms growing out of its body into paste.
I tried kind of swinging my arms as I moved forward. Nope.
Lucy spent some time running away from a troublesome melee plorg who was backed up by a support plorg that was using some sort of weird mushroom powder to buff its stats.
I waddled frantically after her, and eventually consigned myself to being dragged along by the invisible wall.
Lucy finally separated the two plorgs, and communicated her frustrations to the now-much-less dangerous melee fighter with extreme prejudice and a sizable serving of war hammer.
I tried holding my arms out in a semi-curved shape as I did my best to recreate a waltz-like step. Or at least what I vaguely thought a waltz-like step might look like. Didn't work.
Lucy tracked down Mr. Mushroom Powder and introduced him to her Icy Grip skill.
Some dance moves were kind of energetic, right? Like basically gymnastics. It'd been literal decades, but I took a few gymnastics courses once upon a time. I tossed both arms up above my head, dove for the ground, and found myself somehow managing to execute a perfect forward flip: my arms impacted the ground just ahead of my face and somehow boosted me back into the air, my legs went up, and I flipped forward over my head, landing perfectly on my talons with my arms spread upwards as if to say, "Tada!"
Lucy, who had been kneeling on the opposite side of the mushroom-tossing plorg's body as she looted it, paused and gave me a nonplussed look. "Fluff-kins, did you just—do a forward flip?"
Uh, yes? I mean, you saw me do it, didn't you? Cheep!
"…right. Can you do that again?"
Good question. I stuck my arms above my head, hurled myself at the ground, and moments later was a little closer to Lucy in my "tada" pose.
"Ha ha, what? That's hilarious. When did you learn that? Just now?"
"That's awesome. You definitely should show that to Doc when she logs on next, I'll bet she'll love it."
Uh, Lucy, I don't think that's the sort of thing that Doc's interested in, you know? Maybe if I'd learned how to write or something she'd react the way you're expecting.
Lucy finished up her looting, and went looking for more trouble.
I followed along, and tested out executing front-flips while waddling. Surprisingly, it worked really well. I was able to go from normal forward movement into a front flip straight into forward movement again as long as I timed my next step right after landing from the flip. I had no idea how that constituted a "basic dance move", of course, but whatever. Don't look a gift emote in the mouth, and all that.
I also accidentally started doing the worm when I sort of bent backward too much during the initial tossing myself downward motion, but it was pretty embarrassing and impossible to tell what was going on with my face constantly getting shoved into the ground, so let's forget about that.
Hmm, you know, the flips were getting me airborne a little, weren't they?
As Lucy started wearing down a trio of plorgs, I began experimenting with trying to break out of the flip action midway through. It was really difficult! Mostly I just ended up falling on my head a lot, but thankfully my roly-poly body didn't care, and as the final plorg fell to a Lucy's Icy Grip attack I managed to pump my wings at just the right moment and sent myself rocketing straight up. I corkscrewed wildly trying to adjust into normal horizontal flight, eventually rebounded off the invisible wall and hit the ground like a surprisingly fuzzy meteorite. But…Pa-keeng! Heck yeah, Houston, we have lift off! No longer would I be trapped on the ground whenever Lucy was distracted by something! Take that and suck on it, gravity! Mwa ha ha ha!
Ahem. In any case, it was a little non-standard, but I wasn't going to knock it. I started practicing to make sure I could get into a normal flight pattern after my little flip-into-the-air trick.
After a certain point, Lucy noticed what I was doing and spent a solid five minutes just laughing at my repeated failures.
But joke's on her, because I got there in the end!
Now if only I could figure out a method of taking off that didn't involve careening wildly upward…