Tall, Pink and Fearsome
rating: +10+x

"So, this is the flamingo you were going on about, Greg?"

Larry leaned over the guardrail, taking in the sight before him. An entire rainforest, an ecosystem more fragile than glass, under a facility in the Australian desert; and in the very centre laid a bright pink flamingo. Larry was in awe. For all the shit he had to deal with in the past few weeks, the sight of this marvel before him made it all worth it.

"Yes. The flamingo in the nest over there is the one we have contained from three weeks ago. From what we've found, it can understand basic English, and is self-aware."

Larry turned to Greg, who had positioned himself on a ramp. As strange as it was to be talking to a thousand pounds worth of muscle and teeth, Larry found himself warming up to the scaly researcher. Though, with that in mind, Larry did feel a sense of remorse for the guy; managing to find a sapient animal, but then finding out he couldn't even interact with it in the same way he could with Larry.

"I'm guessing you've already done tests on whether it can speak English, then?"

Greg gave a deep sigh.

"The tests came up inconclusive. Its vocal cords seem unable to mimic human speech like mine. I could do another test for more results, but it'll end up the same. A failure."

Larry kneeled down to Greg and rubbed his back. He hated seeing him like this. There was nothing he could do just yet, only reassure.

"Hey, come on Greg. I'm sure there are others like you out there. If you want, we can go over some more files we missed over lunch. Will that help you out?"

"Yeah, that would make me feel better. Thank you."

Larry gave a sweet smile, which Greg returned. With a groan, the crocodilian stretched and climbed off his viewing ramp.

"I'm going to head to the Test Chambers. I heard they're conducting another experiment with the plastic jellyfish, you want to join me?"

"Nah, I'll catch up with you later, gotta clean up this place. Tell me how it goes!"

"Will do. See you then!"

Greg pushed the door open and let it shut behind him, leaving only Larry and the forest. The researcher took the time to tidy up, placing Greg's ramp away, and sorting through all the folders that laid strewn from previous tests and document rewrites. As he was looking through a set of papers, he caught the sight of the article pertaining to the flamingo's designation.

Then Larry's phone began to ring. Shifting it out of his coat pocket, he flipped it up and answered it.

"Hello?"

"Hey Larry! How you been, mate? Still got your face stuffed full of flamingo feathers?"

Larry chuckled.

"Still spitting them out, if that's what you mean. How you been? Still in Alice Springs?"

"Yeah, still am. Gonna head home tomorrow though, so at least it's not for long!"

"Yeah, of course."

Larry began to skim the article.

"It was either that or go to the other side of the country to do more fucking training. At least in Alice Springs you have a good view of Uluru."

"Uh huh…"

"Even then, at least I was able to spend some time with the missus. You know Laura, don't you?"

"Oh yeah."

"Yeah, I actually proposed to her yesterday, and she said yes! Can you believe that?"

"You lucky bastard, Carl!"

"I may be the lucky bastard here, but you're the one who's going to be the best man! Not sure how I'm gonna get Greg there though."

"Maybe you could get him t-"

Larry's eye caught a phrase in the last addendum for the flamingo, and specifically, the last part.

Proposal to relocate anomaly to Site-84, where it can be further isolated, has been granted and to be enacted on the 31/05/2018.

What? But that's a week from now.

"Hey Carl?"

"Yeah?"

"I just read over the document about that flamingo, and they want to move it to that Site in the Middle East, next week."

"What? Are you kidding me? Poor bastard is already lonely here, why the hell do they want to move it there!?"

"It doesn't say anything here, man. I'm gonna talk to the director about this, it's actually bullshit."

"Yeah, that's fucking bullshit! I'll give that bastard "further isolation". Get Greg on this too!"

"Yeah, I will. I'll ring back when it's done. See you then."

Larry closed his phone and slipped back in his pocket.

I swear, I could be the fucking director of the Ethics Committee.

Before he could reach for the door handle, a gust of wind blew the back of his hair, with a definite slit sound echoing throughout the habitat. Larry turned his head, and stiffened.

The flamingo was flying towards him.


The desert was no place for any man or animal, especially for Larry. It wasn't a great environment for flamingos either, but that didn't seem to be slowing down the ball of anger and feathers rapidly closing on him.

"Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit!"

Larry pulled out his phone and held it with a dead man's grip.

"Greg! Greg, you there man!?"

"I'm here! I heard what happened. I can't help you right now, but a security team is on their way!"

"They better be!"

The screech of the massive ball of pink feathers echoed throughout the desert. Larry quickened his running pace to a full sprint, praying that the security team would get here before he ends up collapsing. This was getting worse by the second, especially with his poorly treated lungs making him wheeze. A volley of feathers whizzed past the researcher, piercing the ground like paper.

Fuck!

The flamingo was closing the distance further than Larry could open it now. He may be fast in the short term, but this seven-foot monstrosity was faster in the long term. Larry's heart began to pound hard enough to give him pain. He clutched his chest and grunted, refusing to slow his pace, lest he be caught by the monster behind him.

Come on, come on, come on! Where's a waterhole for this thing!?

The flamingo screeched again and began to ruffle its wings, preparing for take off. Larry began to start wheezing now, unable to keep up his pace. The phone crackled to life again, the voice of Greg taking over once more.

"The team is close. Another five minutes."

"Right, okay. Anything else?" Larry said between breaths.

"Not as of yet. I'll update as necessary."

A gust of wind knocked Larry down to the sand, the air flying out of his lungs. Feathers of pink and black were carried by the wind as the monster flew overheard, aiming for the reasonably sized waterhole. Larry felt his body leave the ground, and his lab coat being tugged by a hard, smooth material.

With a scream, the researcher found his legs dangling in the air, with nothing but a beak keeping him from becoming food for the vultures.

"Don't drop me!!"

"Larry! What happened!?"

Oh thank god, he still had the phone in his hand.

"HELP ME!!"

With a splash, the flamingo landed in a body of water with the finesse of a plane snapped in half. The flamingo's legs nearly crushed Larry as it used its wing to cradle him.

"I just saw the team go past the main facility!"

"Oh thank god!"

The seconds seemed to tick by longer than Larry liked, as he waited for the sedation team to arrive. The flamingo wasn't making things any better, not with its constant shaking and terrifyingly strong grip. It stiffened and turned its head to the side, sensing something.

Please hurry up!

He heard a mass of footsteps heading towards the pond, and then a cock of multiple rifles.

"FREEZE!"

"PUT THE RESEARCHER DOWN AND SURRENDER!"

The flamingo turned its head to one of the figures in black-clad armour. It screeched and decided to tighten its grip a little bit more.

"Guys…litt-HELP HERE!" Larry managed between breaths.

"PUT THE RESEARCHER DOWN!"

The bird made a very low growl. Larry gulped. There was no way he would get out of this alive, maybe in a stretcher if he was lucky.

Think Larry, think! What made this bird so angry?

"M…iddlee. Eass.. t."

What?

The flamingo's jaw moved up and down, slowly. Hoarse whispers were faint, yet clear.

"S…taayy…Herre…"

That was it! That's the whole reason! With an explosion of adrenaline and brainpower, Larry managed to conceive an idea, even as his lungs were slowly being crushed.

"Hey…Flamingo…let me HELP Y-!"

The bird cocked its head at him and narrowed its eyes. With a few moments of silence, it eased its grip.

Air! Oh god, air how have I missed you!

"Look," Larry said between breaths, "I understand that you don't want to be moved from your place right now. I know how it feels, to be forced to relocate because some bureaucrats decided to. I know it's out of your control, and I know its out of mine. Please, I don't want to end up being killed over this, and I know you don't want to as well.

Please, don't make us do this."

The bird began to loosen its grip ever so slightly, and then hung its head.

"But…nicccee herree…"

"I know, I know it's nice here, but you have to do it, remember?" Then a light bulb formed in Larry's head. "Wait, how about this? What if I took it up with the big boss and see if I can make you stay here? Will that help?"

The bird nodded.

"Y…Yesss…"

Larry yelped when the wing eased its grip and dropped him in the lake. Thankfully it was only knee deep. With a sigh of relief, Larry got up from the water, his lab coat and glasses soaked and covered in mud. Scowling, he rubbed the lenses using the inside of his coat. The bird walked out the water and sat by the bank, eyes shut.

"Stand by, fire."

The cough of a dart rifle startled the bird a little as the drugs gave it a good night's sleep. One figure from the group of people wearing armour walked up to Larry and patted him on the shoulder.

"Another successful retrieval. How'd you do that?"

"I don't know, honestly. Just came to me."

"Well, whatever you did, it worked." The guard turned to see a reptilian crawl along the ground at a surprisingly fast pace. "You better go to your friend there. We'll take it from here."

Larry nodded, and walked over to Greg, who was panting like a madman.

"Larry! You're okay!"

The croc stood up and enveloped Larry in a hug.

"I'm okay! I'm okay! Nothing much really."

"I'm just glad you're alive, Larry."

That hit him right in the heart. Not many people had the honor of being told something like that. Larry decided to hold Greg for a little while longer before letting go.

"Come on, Greg, the flamingo's going to be fine."

The croc nodded, and began his walk to the main facility, Larry following suit. As they got to the entrance, Larry couldn't help but think about the bird, and the interaction that followed. Larry pondered in thought for a bit, wondering whether he should tell Greg about his newest discovery.

After a few moments, he decided he'll tell him tomorrow, when everything has died down.

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