New Thirteen Tales, featuring Shasta learning the dangers of cell phone micro transactions.
Meanwhile at the Lair of Dr. Callyco
Click. Click. Click.
“Arrrrrgh!” Dr. Callyco gave van exasperated yelp. “That’s the tenth time in a row!” The kitten in a lab coat had a cell phone gripped between his paws as he laid back on a couch. “And I’m out of free pulls… Dr. Cutie Puuuuup! Can I borrow your credit card?”
“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” The wolf’s shout rang from another room before he came running in. “I don’t know what you need it for… But I know no matter what life, form, permutation or reality we’re dealing with… Giving you a credit card is never a responsible idea.”
“Awwwww, but I’m just trying to get a five star hero in this game.” Dr. Callyco whined. “Come on… I just need it for a bit!”
“Oh, you’re playing one of those freemium cell phone games?” Dr. Cutie Pup narrowed his eyes. “Considering the daily antics you get to, I’m surprised you’d be bored enough to even touch one of those. Which one is it anyway?”
“Only the most popular game of the last two minutes in the app store!” Dr. Callyco explained. “Money Grubber Team Duet Unleashed X Union Turbo!”
“… What?” Dr. Cutie Pup slowly blinked.
“They released a new twelve star hero today, making all those eleven star heroes that were top tier useless now! But there’s a 1 in 1,812,125,295,259,125,925,821 chance of drawing it! I’ve already drawn five times, so I only need to buy a few more draws to get it!”
“Wow… That’s just…” Dr. Cutie Pup shook his head. “Nope, you are not playing a predatory game like that!”
“Hey! I’m more predatory than the game! Therefore! It’s fine!” Dr. Callyco huffed.
“WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!?” Dr. Cutie Pup threw his hands up.
“Look, I can tell you about actual predatory games… And the people who get sucked into them… Like… Let me tell you about our guest tonight Shasta.” Dr. Callyco grinned. “He let himself get hooked on a game… And then wound up paying far more than he ever bargained for! I bring you… Our fourth tale. The Tale of the Micro Transaction!”
Thirteen Tales From Dr. Callyco
The Tale of the Micro Transaction
Shasta sat in the back of the now empty classroom by himself. Class had been over for a good ten minutes now… But there wasn’t much point in him going anywhere. The nineteen year old wolf dog had a rather annoying problem that occurred every Tuesday. He had two classes that were held in the same classroom back to back. That itself wasn’t a problem… But there was a thirty-minute gap of time between the classes. This left him with too little time to try to go back to his dorm or go out and do something and come back… But too much time to not get bored waiting for the next class to start. Luckily, a truly genius mind had come up with an invention for just this kind of situation!
The cellular phone! An endless source of applications and games that fits in the palm of your hands! And it could in theory also place phone calls.
But as Shasta pulled his phone out of his hoodie pocket and cycled through the games he had installed he ran into one problem. Every cell phone game was equally terrible. They had all started as playable at the very least… But they were all very much following a pay to win model. After getting so far into the game advancing to the next stage either required 30 hour daily grind sessions, a mathematical impossibility, or having a full team of rare characters only obtained from cash shop pulls with a 0.00045% drop rate. The games had become completely unplayable which meant…
“Guess it’s time to move on to a new game.” Shasta sighed. It was a shame. Some of them would have been good time wasters if they hadn’t gone out of the way to bleed the players dry. For now he pulled up the app store on his phone as he tried to figure out what to pass the time with for now. A number of recommended games appeared scrolling across the top of his screen. Most of them appeared to mostly be re-skinned games of what he had already downloaded. Well… When looking for free entertainment Shasta supposed beggars couldn’t be choosers. He clicked on one of the games that looked interesting, and it popped up with its name and description.
Dragon’s Hoard: Now’s your chance to be an actual dragon! Assemble a team of kobold minions and build a simple cave into an expansive dungeon. Then scour the world in search of treasure! Gather gold coins, gems and even magical artifacts until you have a proper Dragon’s Hoard certain to be the envy of your fellow wyrms!
Well, as far as building games went, it had an interesting enough hook. Shasta wondered just how much of a lair he could make before it became impossible to continue… Well, he just needed something to last until class started! And if he spent too much time looking for other games he wouldn’t have time to play anything. He tapped the install button, waited about a minute for it to download and then launched the game.
The first thing Shasta encountered was a registration screen. The game wanted him to create his dragon and choose from a few basic options for it.
Name: This was blank and he could type anything in.
Type: There were only two options here, Western and Eastern.
Texture: The game gave the option of scales, fur or both.
Wings: The available options were Bat, Bird or Insectoid.
Colors: When clicked it brought up a color wheel and let Shasta change the colors and patterns on his dragon.
“Huh, this is actually already better than I expected.” Shasta had to admit, the dragon creator was a bit fun to play around with… And well, since he was playing the part of a dragon for the game and it was his hoard… He thought it’d be fun to try to make himself as the dragon. He went ahead and named the dragon Shasta and set its type to western. Then he gave it a fur texture and bat-like wings. Once he got to colors, it was a bit more difficult to get it how he wanted… But he was able to get the dragon’s body to be mostly black, while giving it a white chest and stomach. He put blue tips on the dragon’s hind paws and forepaws, matching his own. However… Getting his hair down wasn’t quite as easy. There wasn’t really a hair option for the dragons… Instead Shasta had to make do by giving it a furry blue mane that ran from the top of the dragons head all the way down its back and tail. Still… As Shasta looked at the dragon he couldn’t help but think it looked a lot like himself! Or at least… Like what he would look if he were a dragon! Satisfied with what he had made, he clicked the confirm button to move on.
The game took him to a view of a cave seen from above with walls of rock completely surrounding it. There was a nest of straw within the cave and Shasta’s dragon was laying down in the next. There were also four small lizard-like creatures standing before the nest. Kobolds. One of them had bright silver scales and appeared to be carrying a staff. A moment later, a portrait of this kobold popped up, revealing them to also be wearing a cow skull on their head and a necklace made out of some kind of animalistic teeth.
“Welcome Master Shasta!” The silver kobold spoke in game. “I am Silverleaf, matriarch of this kobold tribe. Though our numbers are small we are at your service.” Her art portrait changed to one of her doing a bow. “I will be happy to offer you any aid and advice on how to expand your lair. I do not presume to know more than you of course my master… But please allow me to explain on all the options you have available.”
“Ah, it’s a tutorial…” Shasta muttered.
“You can command your kobolds to dig out additional caves to expand your lair, construct new rooms within completed caves or head out into the world to search for treasure. The more kobolds assigned to a task the faster they’ll complete it… And you can of course spend some of your treasure to attract new members to our tribe.” Silverleaf continued her explanation. “But of course, sometimes this process is slow and you wish to speed it up… Your own dragon magic can accomplish these feats much quicker! But you’ll need crystals to power your magic and those are a rare premium currency.”
“Of course they are.” Shasta knew a cash shop mechanic when he saw one.
“The goblin black market often has these crystals available for purchase.” Silverleaf confirmed Shasta’s suspicions. “But you can also obtain some of these crystals for free on the black market by agreeing to these rituals. Such rituals are often beneficial and will help you evolve into a true dragon.”
“I guess that sounds promising?” Shasta shrugged. It wasn’t uncommon for most games to include a way to get the premium currency for free… Especially early on. Naturally once the game got going though it became impossible to keep up with the demands of the game. But he was only playing for a few minutes. As the icon lit up in the corner for the Goblin Black Market he went ahead and clicked on it. He was greeted by a grinning green creature in a leather loincloth. Naturally, the goblin offered him the option to purchase 100 crystals right there for $5 of real-world money. Shasta wasn’t interested in that, but spied the tab marked Free Rituals and clicked on that. Here a giant list came up he hadn’t been expecting. Each one listed a body part such as horns, wings, claws, or tail then had an amount of crystals listed next to it followed by a timer. At the top of the list were horns which gave 5 crystals and listed the timer at 30 seconds. “Doesn’t look too bad.” Shasta clicked on the option.
A new menu popped up that asked if he’d like to shorten the ritual time by sacrificing dragon mass.
Shasta wasn’t sure if his dragon’s size actually impacted anything… But as it was only a 30 second wait, he decided it’d be best not to click that. Instead he simply waited it out. After half a minute passed a notification popped up that he had obtained 5 crystals.
And then the popping noise came from the top of his head.
“ARGH! WHAT THE FLUFF!?” Shasta dropped his phone from surprise as he heard the noise. Then something felt wrong… There was something on his head. He shook it, trying to knock them off but they stayed on. He slowly reached up a paw and felt something sticking out of the top of his head. They were hard… Like bone! Curved backwards and… “OUCH!” Shasta pulled his hand back and winced as he discovered the tips of them were very sharp. He had to see what was going on! There was no mirror in here… But… He quickly grabbed his phone. The game had some other message up… He ignored it for now and switched to his camera app instead and swapped the camera to selfie mode. One photo later confirmed there was indeed something sticking from the top of his head. A pair of curved horns, identical to the ones his dragon had in game.
“Seriously… WHAT!?” Shasta let out a gasp. He couldn’t just grow horns! How had that even happened! And then… There was a sharp twinge on all four of his paws. He let out a yelp and looked down at his hands to see that they now had long sharp claws poking out from them. His foot paws were in a similar situation. It didn’t make sense… How was this happening? Did the game do this somehow? He had clicked on the horns… But why did he have claws too!? He tried to pull the game back up. It was a little harder… His claws made it more difficult to click on things… They were technically more precise… But he was leaving scratches on his screen with each click and swipe. When the game came back up he saw that it was showing another ritual had been completed… It showed he had selected claws and gained 10 crystals for it.
He must have clicked it on accident when he dropped the phone! This was bad! He couldn’t just walk around like this now! How was he going to explain to people! There had to be a way to change back to normal! He started cycling through all the menus in the game trying to find something, anything that implied it might reverse what happened. There was nothing! He went back to the rituals… All of them just listed more dragon body parts… If he just clicked more of those the changes would continue! That wasn’t helpful! Except…
He paused… There was one option on the ritual list that had caught his curiosity. Wings. If… If he had wings, would he be able to actually fly? That… That was an interesting thought. But… He knew he should keep looking for a way to reverse this… Except… In for a penny in for a pound right? It wasn’t as if being able to fly would somehow make this harder to fix would it? He… Might as well get something out of it if he was going to be stuck!
He clicked the option… But then a timer popped up informing him it would take thirty minutes to complete the change. Class would be started by then! He’d need to work on fixing this before then! Not just waiting around for it… Then again… There was that sacrifice mass option… If he clicked that he could speed it up? He went ahead and pressed it… Immediately a percentage slider popped up. He could slide it anywhere between 1 and 99 and it informed him the timer would decrease by the given amount. After some thought he moved it up to 80% and clicked it. That lowered the timer down to 6 minutes. That wasn’t too long…. In the meantime he could think about what to do and….
Shasta suddenly felt a strange sense of vertigo. The entire room seemed to suddenly be expanding… And his clothes were getting baggier.
“Oh no…” Shasta realized what was happening… It wasn’t the dragon in game that was getting smaller. He should have seen this coming. He was shrinking! He began to sink into his own hoodie, losing his grip on his phone again which landed on top of his desk. He let out a yelp and scrambled trying to grab it. However, as he shrunk his hoodie fell down over his head blinding him. His pants slipped from his ankles, falling to the ground below his chair while he himself stumbled around beneath the hoodie. This proved to be a mistake… As he tumbled over the edge of chair falling down to the ground. Thankfully, being caught in the hoodie managed to help break his fall… However once he managed to free himself from being entangled and climb out of it the world was a very different place.
Shasta was barely more than a foot tall… Everything looked gigantic now. And of course… His phone was on top of his desk now… Way out of his reach.
“Okay… I officially have bigger problems than the horns and claws…” Shasta muttered as he realized he was basically tiny and naked in the middle of a room that’d be full of students in about twenty minutes. “Ugh… And I just made a pun.” He had to get up to the phone. There had to be some way to climb up. Yet… Looking around he found nothing that looked to be good to help. He briefly considered using his claws to try to shred some of his own clothes to make a rope… But he was going to need those when he got back to normal. Instead, he tried digging his claws into the metal frame of the desk chair to climb up. It was no good…. He slipped right down the side. He must have wasted a solid five minutes before he realized he was going to need another method and…
It was at that point he felt something stretch from his back… As a large pair of bat-like wings sprouted out from his backside. He flapped them wildly in shock as he suddenly had the sensation of having wings… And lifted right into the air.
“I have wings now!?” Shasta screeched. Then he paused as he realized he was airborne. “I have wings now!” He flapped the wings harder and flew up straight above the desk. The sensation of zooming through the air… It was amazing! And at his current size there was plenty of room to fly about in the room! He lost himself to the moment, flying circles around the entire classroom, simply enjoying the freedom from gravity.
Then outside… He heard a loud chiming noise as the school’s clock struck one. Class would start soon…. Students would come pouring in! He had to get changed back to normal fast! Flying was fun… And it’d be great if he could learn to change into this at will… But it’d be really embarrassing for the other students to see him like this! They might try to make him a pet!
He flew down and landed on his desk and began to desperately poke at his phone. He didn’t care if he scratched up the screen… He just wanted to get back to normal fast! Yet… No options among the rituals… What else was there? He looked into the game’s settings… And then found something that looked promising. ‘Reset Game.’ He clicked it. A warning message popped up that informed him resetting the game would restore his dragon to its original state.
“Perfect that’s what I want!” Shasta clicked the confirm button. Thank goodness! It was over… Except… He felt a tingling run through his entire body… And he started to shrink again! “Wait! What’s going on!?” It wasn’t just a reduction in size though… His body was becoming rounder… And his limbs and legs shorter compared to his torso! He was getting younger! Shasta fell backwards onto his bottom as he rewound through his teenage years and into childhood. He tried to stand back up… But this time stumbled downward onto all fours! But… He wasn’t on his hands knees like an infant… But standing on four legs like a feral animal!
And then… he caught on to other changes…. His hair was gone from his head… But it had been replaced by something else… A mane of blue fur that ran all the way down to the tip of his now longer and thicker tail. He was exactly like the dragon in the game now! Except a baby.
“Rooooawar!” Shasta tried to shout for someone… But no words came out… Just a baby dragon roar! He was practically a newborn… And then a strange light appeared all around him, forming an oval shape around his body. He pawed at the light, finding it a solid surface that he couldn’t get passed! The light began to become more solid, becoming a hard black surface with blue and white speckles throughout it. It shrunk around Shasta, and he was forced to curl into a ball to stay inside. And… He began to feel sleepy.
He was an egg… Or at least inside of one. That was the last thought he had before he fell asleep. Meanwhile, the small baby dragon egg was left sitting on top of his desk.
‘Dragon will be ready in 5 days. Sacrifice dragon mass to complete reset faster?’ There was no one in the room to select anything… But as Shasta dozed away inside his egg, he squirmed slightly and the egg tipped over bumping into the cell phone. The option defaulted to the 80% selected last time when bumped. Suddenly, the egg shrunk in size, shrinking down to a mere inch and a half long, easily small enough to fit into someone’s pocket.
No doubt someone would find the tiny dragon egg and take an interest in it… Most likely deciding to keep it as a pet. At least Shasta would only be stuck asleep in the egg for one day now before he hatched. Of course… Based on how long dragons took to mature it might be awhile before he could explain to whoever found him had happened.
Even longer if they also picked up his phone and continued his game.