Games

Waypoint High School Fanfic: The ARG that Stumped Detective Pikachu

Waypoint High's best detectives, hackers, and code-breakers are on the ARG case.

by Kate Gray
Dec 28 2016, 11:00pm

Header illustration by Gavin Spence

Welcome to the Waypoint High School Class of 2016 Yearbook. We're giving out senior superlatives  to our favorite games, digging into the year's biggest stories via extracurriculars , and following our favorite characters through their adventures together in fanfic.  See you in 2017! 

Hi. I'm Alex. I'm an amateur detective, a role I guess I was thrust into after all that weird triangle/alien stuff that went on at Edwards Island (yeah, I know, you don't believe me. I don't believe myself, either).

Anyway, I'm writing this to tell you all about all the weird stuff that went on this year. I guess we're all trying to make sense of it.

It all started with a poster outside the principal's office. Usually, the bulletin board next to his door is filled with boring, serious stuff: the minutes from the latest PTA meeting; a call for students to recycle their aluminum cans; a stern yet unheeded reminder to all the girls on campus that their skirts must not rise above their knees.

This poster wasn't like that. For starters, it wasn't printed on the same, thick white card as the rest, nor did it have the school's logo watermarked on the bottom. It was bright pink, a shocking splash of color against the rest, and it had no words on it—just, simply, a sigil. It sort of looked like a hand, though if you turned it upside down, according to weirdly buff senior JD Fenix, it was definitely a skull.

Below the sigil were ten tiny paper tear-offs, but none of them actually had anything written on them. Nevertheless, they were all gone by the time the lunch bell rang, much to the disappointment of the school's budding symbology enthusiasts (and me—I was on library duty. Boo).

I knew I couldn't take this case on alone, so I asked a friend for help. I knew he'd be on board, because he's always wearing that stupid deerstalker hat and insisting that people call him "Detective" Pikachu. I don't know if "delusions of Sherlockian grandeur" is an official psychiatric diagnosis, but if it were, he'd be an excellent case study.

It wasn't long until the whole school was buzzing, and it wasn't long after that until three distinct factions emerged: the people who cared, the people who didn't, and the people who were pretending not to. This made the first group of people even more curious, and rumors started emerging about how the suspiciously quiet people were involved.


Related, on Waypoint: Make sure to check out our real-life exploration of the ARG behind Frog Fractions 2.


One of them, who gave her name only as a series of cryptic dolphin noises, would only answer questions by presenting the questioner with a small jar of jam and then running away. Another turned up to school one day with a large, conspicuous tattoo of the sigil on his chest, which was fascinating for everyone until he was suspended for repeatedly taking off his shirt to show it off in class. Another—who reportedly met up with the editor of the school paper behind the bike shed on the condition that she would be sworn to absolute secrecy when it came to their identity—apparently whispered, frantically, that they had no idea what was going on, but they wanted to seem cool so they went along with it.

(Detective Pikachu suggested that torture might be a more effective form of interrogation. That guy is not as cute as he looks.)

The next development came suddenly, and secretly.

In the middle of a computer science class, Marcus Holloway—an aspiring hacker whose school record would be full of computer-prank-related misdemeanors if he hadn't already figured out long ago how to periodically wipe it clean—found out what those paper tear-offs were. He'd accidentally spilled his soda on the one in his possession during lunch break, which, after he'd frantically dried it off, revealed a series of numbers and letters, seemingly in a random order.

After a couple of hours of attempting to unscramble the code, he realized what it was: knitting instructions. And when he gave that pattern to his mum that evening, she spent the weekend making a lovely sweater with a fox on it, which would have been totally cute and wearable if it wasn't for the URL on the back—a URL that took him to a YouTube video. 

Detective Pikachu suggested that torture might be a more effective form of interrogation. That guy is  not as cute as he looks.

By Monday morning, that YouTube link had been posted around every Slack group, every Twitter DM and every G+ page that we could access. The video was just 30 seconds long, but presented just enough of an enigmatic challenge that everyone was watching it on loop in an attempt to decipher and discover its hidden meanings.

It was 30 seconds of the elderly geography teacher, Ms Schatten, eating soup. It took a full week for someone to notice that there was another version of the same video in HD, and in that version it was very clear that Ms Schatten was actually eating alphabet soup, in which the words "NINETEEN SEVENTY TWO" floated in the middle of the bowl.

I was apparently the only one who thought of checking the school records for 1972, and I discovered that Ms Schatten—old, wizened and scatterbrained as she is now—used to be a very foxy young teacher who was once let go many years ago because of an irritating tendency to "boop" her pupils.

("Sounds like a euphemism," Detective Pikachu added, sleazily, before attempting to wink in my direction.)

But, more importantly, the page in the yellowed yearbook that revealed this information also revealed something else—a piece of paper, sandwiched between the declaration that the Magnavox Odyssey was "Most Likely To Succeed" and that the two bats from Pong were that year's Prom King and Queen. On that piece of paper was a puzzle—a deceptively simple line puzzle, signed "J.B." at the bottom.

For the next few days, the school was gradually covered in attempted solutions. People scratched them into desks, scrawled them across the bathroom stalls, handed sheaves of workings-out over to the teachers instead of their math homework. The school was obsessed, and nothing—not a bake sale, not the school bell ringing five minutes early, not even pizza for lunch on a Tuesday—would snap them out of it.

Seven weeks passed. Seven slow weeks. People started to grow tired of the puzzle—its impossibility taunted them, mocked them. The smartest kids in school shrugged and turned back to the work that would get them careers as defense lawyers and archaeologists. The cool kids went back to planning their road trip across the country. The quiet kids went back to dreaming about running a farm. The dopey kids went back to staging fights outside the school gates.

For the next few days, the school was gradually covered in attempted solutions.

And then the messages started again.

The loudspeaker was most often used for the same sort of things as the principal's bulletin board—boring stuff, the kind of announcements you could safely ignore unless they contained the words "fire" or "tornado"—so it was a bit weird when the announcements started talking about complex philosophical concepts, quotes from Buddha and excerpts from Russian novels.

It was almost as if the mysterious "J.B." had become frustrated that no one had solved his puzzle.

No one really liked him, probably because he wore sunglasses to school, but it was sophomore Adam Jensen that figured the messages out by recording them on his phone and taking them home, putting them into his laptop, and playing them backwards.

And after all that—all the intrigue, all the drama, all the presumably expensive website hosting and printing and somehow getting an elderly lady to agree to eat soup on camera—here was the final message:

"Hi! My name's Jonathan Blow—you might know me as the kid with the braid. Thanks for solving my puzzle. It's my birthday next week! I'm having a party, and I hope you can come. The invite has been in your locker this whole time."