Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 173,334,153 Issue: 404 | 7th day of Hiding, Y11
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by silent_snow


Lost Desert, Coordinates {329,572}, Month of Eating, Day 3

Begin Recording

A land swept with sand, desolate. No sign of life; no sign of death. Sunlight, pounding down, causes ripples of silver light to flicker over the dunes, twirling, dancing, in perfect incandescence. A brief wind brushes through the landscape, rolling tiny grains of sand up and down their hills to change the landscape not at all.

     Down- a bulky metal object, structured to simulate a claw. It shines in shades of dull green and gray, but the sun reflects so sharply off of it that normal eyes look away at once. The claw is rapidly sinking through the sand. It lifts, automatically compensating for the movement it has made.

     Up. Left. Right. Sand, everywhere. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing to discover, no lost cities to find.

     End Recording

     Calculate next coordinates? (Y/N): Y

     Running calculations in background...

     Exit Autopilot.exe

     Autopilot.exe terminating...

     “Sloth-curst evil-fuzzling piece of rotten asparagus!” Dora yelled, yanking the Global Positioning Calculator out of its port. The external hard drive attached to her back made an unhappy whining noise, which she ignored. “Obviously can’t trust that Meepit-loving Virtupets anymore if they’re selling these pieces of dung for fifteen thousand Neopoints a piece and do they work? Do they Feepiting work?” The little black box stayed silent in her hand, not emitting any of its usual incredibly unhelpful beeps, so Dora answered her own question. “No! No, they don’t.”

     Still seething, she tossed the little mechanical device out onto the sand. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to calculate for her strength; the little box went zooming out into the distance, slicing through the air like a Scarabug desperately seeking one last chance at survival.

     “Well, faerie dust and whoop-de-doo,” Dora muttered, briefly examining her intensely shiny metal arm. “Forgot to set the Chokato-festered bounds again. Customizable settings, my left ear!”

     She briefly reflected that being a robot was in no way all that it was cracked up to be. Sure, Dora had initially been excited with the change; who wouldn’t have been? Unfortunately, she hadn’t realized what being mechanical really entailed.

     “Pilot has been reminiscing for more than ten seconds,” the synthetic voice of her system said, originating from somewhere deep in her hard drive and playing out of the speaker on her nose. ”Running Memory_32515...”

     “No!” Dora said hurriedly, “you idiotic Petpetpet-infested bo--“

     Begin Video

     Picture this- a grainy view, completely different from the crystal clear colors you’re now used to seeing. The optics have been messed up; the view only points in one direction, and it gets fuzzy around the edges. All of that, and then also occasionally soundtracks floating about, very opinionated and foul-mouthed soundtracks that are sometimes related to the images at hand, but mostly aren’t.

     Memories are harder to understand, when they’re lifted directly from the mind.

     “Well, galloping Gallions, good to see that you’re finally back,” a voice says, a low, dry voice originating from directly behind the picture. The soundtrack runs the same track in the background, in a slightly higher range.

     “Don’t be sarcastic,” the human girl in the picture says, while the soundtrack plays well you only just got back could say you missed me too wouldn’t hurt you would it now. The picture just barely displays a red Kyrii reflected in the girl’s large glasses. “Look, look what I got at the prize station! Look!”

     Probably a book or a keychain or some other blasted useless thing like “Oh, hey, that looks cool,” the first voice says again, with a bored intonation. The picture hones in sharply on the metallic raygun that the human is now holding. “What does it do, turn things into Feepiting piles of sludge?”

     “Language, Dora,” the human says reprovingly. “Actually, it’s like a paint brush. It can make a Neopet turn into a robot! So I was thinking--“

     Video Aborted

     “Stop it!” Dora shouted as she finally managed to switch her vision back to the data coming in through her eyes, stamping her foot (and effectively sinking a few inches deeper into the loose sand). “Stop taking everything I say as a Fyora-blest command!”

     “Global Positioning Calculator has not responded to the last fifty requests,” the system answered calmly. “Aborting coordinate calculations.”

     Dora wasn’t surprised; she had never managed to make the system controller turn off before.

     “Fine,” she muttered darkly, pulling up her tail (which had been steadily sinking into the sand). “Okay. I’m going to stop wasting Bonju’d time now. I’ve got a mission, after all.”

     “Read Mission.txt? (Y/N).”

     “By a white Weewoo’s wing, no!” Dora snapped as she started to stomp off into the distance, her short metal tail clanking back and forth.

     “Unable to comprehend vocal request. Default answer: yes. Reading Mission.txt...”

     Dora ground her teeth. Well, she tried to grind her teeth; unfortunately, they had been replaced by steel slides, which merely grated against each other and produced a horrible squealing noise.

     “My mission: to discover the lost city of Phorofor, as depicted in Neoquest Two,” the system’s voice stated, each word sounding a tiny bit out of place, at a different level from the rest. ‘Phorofor’, in particular, was squeaky and high-pitched. ”Will not return home until I have found a suitable artifact to prove my discovery. Can then start a Neopian Times column on visiting Neoquest sites and proving they exist. Many Neopoints in this unexplored opportunity. Signed, Dora the Amazing Robot Kyrii.”

     “Are you quite finished, you rotten negg?” Dora growled, her claws slipping and sliding as she fought her way up a dune that was rather taller than the rest.

     “Pilot appears to be incapable of managing terrain,” the system continued. ”Switch to autopilot? (Y/N).”

     “N-” Dora yelped briefly as she slipped, managing to fall forward and land directly on her nose. For once, she was grateful that her body was made of metal; it kept her from feeling the searing heat of the sand as she slowly slid downward. “Fine,” she muttered then; at least when the system was on autopilot, she could control it properly. “Yes.”

     “Autopilot.exe Running...” the system’s voice began, slightly muffled by the sand.

     Set new Destination: 1000 meters North

     Begin searching for unusual landmarks...

     Found: 1 red stone. Unusual (Y/N): N

     Found: 1 nest of Wadjets. Unusual (Y/N): N...

     Found: 1 wall, made of sandstone. Degenerated. Unusual (Y/N): N... wait, Y! Very much so Y!

     Wall classified as unusual. Now taking sample of wall...

     Never mind that, just turn the autopilot off. Now!

     Autopilot.exe terminating...

     Dora blinked as the numbers scrolling across her sight faded into reality again, the metallic shutters briefly closing, then opening again, over her optic lenses. Her right hand was inserted into the wall, slightly curled around some of the stony material. The landscape hadn’t changed much (though she could have traveled any distance since she’d last had control) except for the wall in front of her. Around it stood several other walls, most in slightly good shape. All were worn down, and the same color as the sand.

     “Aha!” she said triumphantly, tearing the chunk of stone out of the wall and bringing it close to her eyes. “Go into scanning mode.”

     The system made a beeping noise, and a thin sheet of red light suddenly shot out of her eyes. She moved her eyes across the stone slowly, until the system beeped again.

     “Sample is composed of 100% sandstone.”

     “Oh. Blast it to the other side of Kreludor! That’s perfectly meeping ordinary.” Dora kicked at the side of the wall, which crumbled slightly. “Hey, no matter. At least I can make a recording. Just give me a zappin’ minute.”

     The system lapsed into a complacent silence as Dora pulled herself up onto the wall, which had been rather low in the first place. Bits of stone crumbled under her claws as she carefully balanced herself on top of the wall, trying to keep her tail from weighing her down by wrapping it around her waist. Once she felt secure again, she looked around.

     It didn’t look half bad for a ruined city. The walls were mostly still intact, though a few had collapsed into piles of rubble. Some gray slate tiles still lay over the sand, marking roads and pathways that had not been traveled for many, many years. She could even see one open building, a bit to the right, where a chair was half-immersed in the sand.

     “No gormin’ zombies, though, like the game has,” Dora murmured to herself, looking around again, more slowly this time. “That’s a relief. Okay, system, start recording!”

     “Begin Recording... Error.”


     “Not enough memory left in system.”

     “What. The. Feepit.” Dora slapped a hand against her forehead; it made a very satisfying clanging noise. “Okay. We can fix this. Just delete some of the old video files.”

     “Permission denied: only administrator has rights to delete files.”

     “You n00bish pile of potatoes! I am the administrator!”

     “Access rights not found...”

     “I’m fuzzling serious. Look it up, I ought to have full modification rights.” Dora crossed her arms and started to lean back, then realized that she was still standing on a wall and hurriedly straightened her posture. The system was taking time away from her opportunity to become Neo-famous. She didn’t appreciate that.


     Her dreams of strolling into Neopia Central to the cheers of adoring fans vanished as the system’s voice cut through the air again. Dora clenched her fists. “Ugh. Which meeping error?”

     “404- file not found.”

     And Dora’s jaw dropped, the hinge squeaking slightly. A 404 error at Phorofor.

     Who would have guessed?

The End

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