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Written Story Unova General Gijinka Search for Yesterday: A Black Notepad Story (reupload)

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
608
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
Note: This is a complete story that finished earlier this year. I am reuploading it here on the new forums one chapter a week until completed. Those who wish to read the entire thing can check out my DeviantArt gallery, which contains all chapters.


(A very special thanks to @Rainey for the banner c: )
Okay, you have @Thirteenth and @cross_off to thank for this, they needled me about making a wholesome, deathless run set in an amusement park and I decided why not and fell in love with the idea, so. There you go. This run won't update regularly, but instead update concurrently with my playthrough of Black. The story itself will be a loose interpretation of my in-game run, with no pokemon characters; however, every member of the main "party" is based on pokemon, with Cindi, the main character, being the starter.

BEST BEHAVIOR: Misbehavior will not be tolerated. A child who breaks the rules (or who seems ill) will be escorted from the park.
YOU ARE YOU: It's important to know who you are.
EXCLUSIVE EVENT: Not everyone received a ticket. Attendance is low.
SOUVENIRS: Free gifts are free! Don't stress over them.
FRIENDS TILL THE END: This is a night none of you will ever forget! Never leave your friends behind. Remember: group size is restricted to six.
ONE OF A KIND: Every child is special. Nobody can do the things they can do.
SMALL ALLOWANCE: Be sure not to spend too much. You're still a child, after all.
BEST BEHAVIOR: If a pokemon faints, it's dead.
YOU ARE YOU: Nickname every pokemon.
EXCLUSIVE EVENT: Only one encounter per area.
SOUVENIRS: Gift clause: Gifts are freebies and do not count per the above rule.
FRIENDS TILL THE END: Notepad clause: Once a pokemon is caught, it cannot leave your team. Once you have a full team of six, you cannot catch new pokemon. (Exception: Reshiram can be caught to advance the story, but cannot be used if there is a full team of six.)
ONE OF A KIND: Dupes clause: Pokemon belonging to the same evolutionary family as a party member, living or dead, do not count as first encounters. If four dupes in a row are encountered, the encounter for that area is forfeit.
SMALL ALLOWANCE: Limited items: Items cannot be used in battles, except for boss battles, and are limited to one item per pokemon per battle. Hold items are not included in this rule and can always be used.

NOTE: My DeviantArt gallery, which contains all chapters for those who wish to read ahead, is linked at the top of this post.




Everyone knows Alderland.

It’s a place of faraway jungles and spooky ruins, of boardwalks and ferris wheels. There’s a neon cyber city, a cobblestone street right out of the turn of the century, quiet rivers that meander underneath old trees. There are roller coasters and candy shops and stage shows and a fake zeppelin that circles the park, taking you wherever you need to go. Kids and kids-at-heart love going there. It’s a kingdom of lights and magic.

Nobody knows why old Mr. Alder built it. Some say he was disgusted when we visited a grimy, mediocre carnival full of disinterested, sneering sideshowmen who bilked him out of every dollar they could. Others say that he wanted to build a place where children could go on adventures and adults could re-live their youth. And still others say that he always had the dream of it fixed in his heart, ever since he was a boy, and didn’t get the opportunity to make it a reality until he’d made a name for himself as an entertainer and philanthropist.

No one knows for sure.

But what
is known is this—Alderland is a place where you can go and ride roller coasters or paddle canoe boats; savor sweet treats and explore hidden nooks and crannies; or even just sit on a bench and enjoy the smiles of the people around you, the sound of laughter and distant music, and the cool brush of the breeze on your skin.

And old Alder himself—who is said to have an apartment somewhere in the park, and to wander in disguise, making sure his employees are up to snuff—never stops imagining new things.

But then one day the light in the apartment dimmed, and there was no word of the fellow telling an employee he secretly observed them doing a good job. And then it came out:

Mr. Alder was sick, and wasn’t long for the world.

A somber gloom was cast over the park. What would happen to it without him? Who could possibly have a vision that matched his own?

And then came the answer. The word went out that Mr. Alder was looking for a successor. And not just any successor: a kid.

“No adult could hold true to this park’s original vision,” he wrote. “They would twist it and cost the park its soul.” The heir would prove themselves through a certain contest. On one magical day, only chosen children would be allowed into the park. Those children would be set a task: in each of Alderland’s various themed “lands,” find the attraction that Alder himself loved most and experience it. Afterwards, speak to the attendant to receive a badge.

The children who received badges from every land would be invited to speak with Mr. Alder himself and make their case. The heir would be selected from one of them.

There were rules, of course. Any child caught fighting or cheating would be ejected immediately. If you received a badge, you were not allowed to share where it came from. And you could bring up to two friends, and unite with other kids in the park to form a group of up to six.

The invites were sent out. The children prepared. And before long…

The day came.

This is the story of that magic evening; the story of how earth’s wonderland came to know its new boss. The place has been cleared of normal parkgoers. The streets are swept, the employees standing with inviting smiles near booths and stands and ticket counters. The fireworks are primed.

Many will enter, but only one will be the heir. But as for the rest, it’s still likely not going to be a night they forget. After all…

Yesterday dies hard.


---

Author's Note: I hope you like this run, it's something different from my usual oeuvre. There won't be many updates (expect a first chapter to meet everyone and then, after that, a badge a chapter) so it won't be too long, either. This run will be wholesome, light-hearted, and deathless! Promise!
 
Last edited:

MouseWithADinosaurTail

A Comedian At Heart
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
1,464
Location
Snubbville
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
She's like a sea urchin. Tough and prickly on the outside, but delicate and easily wounded if hit the wrong way. Please handle gently.
Ooooh, The Search for Yesterday! A run that I always had my eye on but never quite got around to reading. I'll be very happy to follow it along as you reupload it! The prologue already has me intrigued, what a fun idea for a nuzlocke story!
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,069
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Kids and kids-at-heart love going there.
With the ruleset's language being so geared towards kids, I think it'd be really funny if a "kid-at-heart" joined the group (or tried to). XD

I'd heard a lot of good things about Search for Yesterday, but somehow, I still never realized that Alder played a big part? I mean, he's the champion, yeah, but this is also B/W, so...
 
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Reactions: Dee

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
608
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4
@MouseWithADinosaurTail - Thank you! I'm glad you like the prologue and concept--early on I had trouble with this one because it's so atypical to what I normally do, but I had a real blast writing it. I hope you enjoy future chapters :-3



@Bowser's Family Vacation - Hello again! :'D and also aslkdma;slkdf at the kid-at-heart joining... not this run, no sirree xD
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
608
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5
The energy was almost palpable. The air positively buzzed with excitement. The kids in line—ranging from single-digit ages to teens just entering high school—could not be categorized. Some had faces that were rigid masks of concentrations, others were so hyper they could barely keep their place in line. The attendants were walking down, going over the rules and reminding everyone not to run until they were in the park proper, handing out bottled water… but no one was really paying attention. Some kids were standing on tiptoes and pointing over the thick wall surrounding the park, eying the landmarks: the temple from the Lost Isle, the giant glass ceiling that housed Neon City. Further back was the enormous false mountain with Skytown glittering on its slopes, and in the center of everything, the enormous Ferris Wheel, icon of the park, spun and turned.

The wheel’s shadow did not fall out of the park, of course, yet Cindi Fischer felt it casting over her all the same. It seemed indicative of everything this venture meant: the wheel was fun, but it was big, so very big. How could one lone child hope to tame the wheel? How could they hope to actually inherit Alderland itself?

Though she tried to block them out, the sounds of people around her filtered through her ear one after the other after the other. Some kids ahead of her in line were discussing which rides they wanted to go on. None of them seemed interested in inheriting Alderland itself; they’d given it up before even reaching the starting line. If I’m not going to win, I might as well have the most fun I can. It was an almost liberating mindset.

Others were tapping their feet impatiently against the tiled ground, muttering as if they weren’t about to have a night to themselves in the world’s most famous getaway. Her friend Tasha would have been like them, Cindi knew. She loved Tasha dearly—if for no other reason than that the sporty athlete could be counted on to chase off any bullies—but she was very much a “one road” type of person. If their plans were up to her, they’d be bolting this way and that way, rushing through rides in an attempt to find the ones that gave out badges. No, that wouldn’t work. The famed Mr. Alder himself wouldn’t reward such brashness—and besides, all the other kids were going to be doing the same thing. You’d quickly find yourself outcompeted.

A few kids were poring over maps and sketching up plans. They were analyzing the best route to take through the park to avoid crowds, which attractions could be safely written off—that sort of thing. Hang left through the Lost Isle, skirt up through the Rivers of Discovery, save Neon City for last. Any attractions added since Alder’s health started would be written off.

Cold. But effective? Perhaps. Cheren would certain be doing it that way…

She shook her head, grimacing. Cheren. Only one other kid in her whole hometown got an invitation, and it had to be him. He’d been her friend, once, and then he’d started saying nasty things and looking down on her… why? Only one thing had changed, only one little thing, in fact it was hardly a change at all…

Enough. She wasn’t here for him.

In the spot ahead of her, her two friends were chatting. Tasha was there, of course, sporty in a loose ponytail and cap, and so was Cameron—short for a guy, with a slightly round face and a brown mop of hair. Cindi herself was the one who’d received the invite, and the other two were her invitees.

“I still think we should bolt strait for the Runaway Mine Cart,” Tasha growled. “It’s got to be one of the rides Alder is proud of.”

“That’s clear in the back,” Cindi said quietly. She always tried her best to be quiet, to avoid sticking out—her height did enough of that already—but she wasn’t afraid to set the pace. “We can’t book it there with Cameron’s asthma. Besides, we should take things slow.”

Cameron blushed apologetically and Cindi smiled at him. “Oh, Cam, you don’t have to worry. You’re not holding us up. I was already planning on taking my sweet time, right Tasha?”

“You sure were, dork,” Tasha said, though there was no heat behind it. She grinned and Cindi laughed back. At least one of her friends had stuck around.

An announcement burst over the tinny loudspeakers. The gates would be opening soon. The announcer recited the rules, and Cindi lost interest. She knew them already. No fighting. No cheating. No sharing locations of badges. The first to obtain a badge from every land would be the first to meet Mr. Alder…

Celebratory fireworks shot up from the rear of the park. Despite the fact that it was still afternoon, the lightshow drew gasps from the assembled kids, some of whom cheered. The magic had begun. The sound seemed strangely muffled to Cindi; it was probably being absorbed by the topiary garden behind them. Called the “Greeting Garden” by Mr. Alder, each of the leafy sculptures had been hand-selected by the man himself, intended to draw the park guest into the magic before they ever stepped foot inside its gates.

Tasha bumped Cindi’s shoulder, and jolted her out of her reverie. The other girl’s face had deepened into a scowl. “Here comes trouble,” she said, eying a familiar face making its way towards them.

Bianca’s bright blonde hair shone like a beacon, and her face was in an overly-broad, too-friendly smile. “Hi Tasha!” she said, not sounding confident. “And um… Cindi!”

No harm in being courteous. “Hello,” Cindi said, dipping her head in greeting.

“So you’re here, Sid.” The familiar voice with the familiar sting came after, and Cheren melted out of the crowd. He looked like someone who set school honors records—because he did. He didn’t look like someone who rankled Cindi as often as he could—but he did that, too.

Cindi faded back, as she usually did in situations like this. Tasha came to the forefront. “You wanna try saying that again, jerk!” She cracked her knuckles.

Bianca gasped, but Cheren just rolled his eyes. “Please, it’s just a name. Besides, you really wanna get kicked out for fighting this early on?” After Tasha reluctantly unclenched her fists, he continued. “So what’s your guys’s plan?”

“L-like we’re gonna tell you,” Cameron said. “After what you did back at school.”

“Please, everyone!” Bianca looked back and forth between Cheren and the other two. “Can’t we just—not do this?”

“Pfeh.” Cheren adjusted his glasses. “I only came here ‘cause you wanted to, Bianca, and they jumped right down my throat… well.” He looked up, and they all couldn’t help but follow his gaze.

High above them, the fireworks were still burst. The sound of their intermittent booms intermingled with other sounds: music wafted over the fence, and faraway, one could almost imagine more sounds; there was the distant call of a train’s whistle, the splashing of water in tumbling rivers.

The land of dreams was waking up.

“What kind of world would you build if you got this place?” Cheren asked, still staring up. The lights reflected off his glasses. “I’d build a place that never sleeps… evolving, changing, always looking to tomorrow.” He finally turned his head. “You might not have a plan, but we do. Come on, Bianca.”

As he was swallowed by the crowd, Bianca looked back and forth between him and the others. “Um—I—” Finally, looking distraught, she turned and chased after him.

The fireworks were closing. Wind stirred the topiary, as if in anticipation of what was coming up next.

“Creep,” Tasha muttered. “Coming over here to bug you like that. You okay, Cindi?”

Cindi wasn’t paying any attention. “A place that… looks to tomorrow,” she said, turning the words over in her mouth.

“Cindi?”

“Tomorrow… a place that looks to tomorrow…”

There was something wrong about that statement, something she couldn’t quite name. She wracked her brain about everything she knew about Alderland. A whole region dedicated to lost civilizations… A place based on the frontier of the Pacific Northwest…

Tomorrow…

Cameron shook his friend’s shoulder. “Cindi, they’re about to open the gates!”

Indeed, people were gathering at the gates, some audibly counting down. The mood had gotten supercharged.

“C’mon, Cindi, we’ve got to get ready!” Tasha protested. “We’re going to miss it all, everyone’s going to get badges ahead of us!”

Cindi turned back, dreamlike, to the Greeting Garden. There were so many statues there… ones he had picked out himself.

They were supposed to be looking for his favorites. But what did they know about him? What did anyone know about him?

“This whole search isn’t for tomorrow,” she said.

They opened the gates, and the children surge in to meet their destinies. They moved like a tide, the music and lights and sound playing them.

Cindi did not turn back to face the park. Instead, moving against the flood of bodies, she headed backwards, towards the Greeting Garden.

“Cindi?” Cameron said, tremulously following. “You know we can’t get in without you… right?”

“We’re not here to search for tomorrow,” she said, turning her head. Understanding and excitement glimmered in her eyes. She turned and raced for the garden. “Come on. We’re here to search for yesterday.”

---

Welcome back to the first chapter proper! The story itself will be a loose interpretation of my in-game run, with no pokemon characters; however, every member of the main "party" is based on pokemon, with Cindi being the starter. Here's team info so far:

CINDI (Oshawott)
Encountered: Nuvema Town (starter). Ability: Torrent
Quirky nature, "Mischievous"

TASHA (Lillipup)
Encountered: Route 1. Ability: Pickup
Docile nature, "Highly persistent"

CAMERON (Patrat)
Encountered: Route 2. Ability: Run Away
Calm nature, "Good perseverance"

Various parts of Alderland are based on various details from real-life Disney parks, which will be included in the author's notes of future updates.
 

Emilianite

Conqueror of the Saffron Gym
Artist
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
127
Caught
Jun 22, 2019
Messages
83
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Ice
I decided to slide in here to check this out AND OOOH IM GLAD I DID

I really love the premise, concept and the atmosphere of this <3 It's magical and i love the take on Alder and the badges as a lil competition for the kids! Can't wait to read more!
 
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Rainbow Robin

Toss a coin to your witcher, oh valley of plenty
Pokédex No.
157
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
84
Location
A secret bunker, just off Route 2, next to Greggs
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
Literally Any
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Fighting
Oh man am I glad I looked at this.

This is the best kind of nuzlocke - it's creative, unafraid to play with the formula and reinvent everything to tell a story that - even if drawing from clearly marked sources - has its own take and its own spin on tired stories, it's a brilliant concept.

And it delivers. Minor tense and grammar errors aside, and they absolutely deserve to be put aside, the world is so rich and the characters so neatly defined. Having no pokemon is a blessing, definitely, as it doesn't split the focus. Cindi has the right amount of child-protagonist pluck to be driven without being annoying... The whole thing smacks of a book I'd have read when I was younger and read more frequently, and I mean that as the highest praise I can give. I really enjoyed what was shown here and I'll probably wait and pop in each week, rather than consume it all at once, possibly just to dole out ramblings and praise.

A+ work, loved it
 
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Reactions: Dee

Dustox

Professional Schemer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
10
Caught
May 15, 2019
Messages
143
Nature
Hasty
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Bug, Poison
Pokédex Entry
"No matter how hard you look, you won't see what I'm scheming."
I feel bad I missed this during Tapatalk days but that's the wonder of the new forum. You can catch up to the runs you missed out.

I really love this concept! It really gives me the Willy Wonka vibes, which might be what you were going for, but you manage to make it your own and not just a complete retread. Also, glad to see Cheren is a jerk in any timeline lmao.

And of course, your writing is still top-notch. I haven't been able to keep up with your stuff since Dear Diary, but you style is as good as ever. I think you manage to capture the whimsy of amusement parks but still manage to retain your realism, if that makes sense. Like here:

The wheel’s shadow did not fall out of the park, of course, yet Cindi Fischer felt it casting over her all the same. It seemed indicative of everything this venture meant: the wheel was fun, but it was big, so very big. How could one lone child hope to tame the wheel? How could they hope to actually inherit Alderland itself?
Just bam, solid.

Anyway, happy to be on this ride this time to see what happens to Alderland!
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,069
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Gotta be honest: I'd be a "Have fun until someone else wins" kid. :P

Oh boy. I do not like transphobic Cheren. I do like, though, that his comment is getting our team on the right track!
 
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Reactions: Dee

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
608
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
OOPS I FORGOT TO UPDATE

Yeah, I was traveling last weekend and didn't get back until late Sunday... my bad >w>;;

Weekly updates resume now!

I decided to slide in here to check this out AND OOOH IM GLAD I DID

I really love the premise, concept and the atmosphere of this <3 It's magical and i love the take on Alder and the badges as a lil competition for the kids! Can't wait to read more!
Aaaaaaaaa thank you! I love your comics and Chamerion was a tremendous influence on this run, so I'm so happy to see you stop by! It's a very atypical run and that's why I love it so much :'>


Oh man am I glad I looked at this.

This is the best kind of nuzlocke - it's creative, unafraid to play with the formula and reinvent everything to tell a story that - even if drawing from clearly marked sources - has its own take and its own spin on tired stories, it's a brilliant concept.

And it delivers. Minor tense and grammar errors aside, and they absolutely deserve to be put aside, the world is so rich and the characters so neatly defined. Having no pokemon is a blessing, definitely, as it doesn't split the focus. Cindi has the right amount of child-protagonist pluck to be driven without being annoying... The whole thing smacks of a book I'd have read when I was younger and read more frequently, and I mean that as the highest praise I can give. I really enjoyed what was shown here and I'll probably wait and pop in each week, rather than consume it all at once, possibly just to dole out ramblings and praise.

A+ work, loved it
Thank you! I'm really glad you liked it. This project began as basically a formula-breaking exercise and evolved into something I really love. The praise that you would have read it as a kid really means a lot too 😭


I feel bad I missed this during Tapatalk days but that's the wonder of the new forum. You can catch up to the runs you missed out.

I really love this concept! It really gives me the Willy Wonka vibes, which might be what you were going for, but you manage to make it your own and not just a complete retread. Also, glad to see Cheren is a jerk in any timeline lmao.

And of course, your writing is still top-notch. I haven't been able to keep up with your stuff since Dear Diary, but you style is as good as ever. I think you manage to capture the whimsy of amusement parks but still manage to retain your realism, if that makes sense.
Yessss thanks Dusty! And yes, Willy Wonka was more or less the #1 source of inspiration for this story. And i promise i don't hate cheren I just needed an antagonist who wasn't N/Ghetsis and he fit the bill the best haha! Maybe I should do a Cheren redemptionlocke sometime...

And thanks for the other praise as well <3


Gotta be honest: I'd be a "Have fun until someone else wins" kid. :P

Oh boy. I do not like transphobic Cheren. I do like, though, that his comment is getting our team on the right track!
I WOULD BE THAT KID TOO TBH

And Cheren is... yeah. He's based off of ppl I've personally encountered too, so that's fun 🙃


Land 1: The Greeting Gardens

I know there is some concern over having a “land” that is not even located within the park itself. It is my hope that this small treatise will assuage your fears.

What manner of park do we wish to be? A lonesome pile of roller coasters and dark rides plopped unceremoniously down in the middle of a city? A glorified carnival, stuffed with greasy popcorn and creaky, past-their-prime rides? Anyone could craft such places.

Alderland will be different. Our guests won’t just visit a park; when they cross our threshold, they will be transported to a different world. We are more than just rides, costumes, or shows. We offer an experience; an escape from the outside world into the realms of memory.

But why must such transportation begin at the threshold itself?

The Greeting Gardens themselves serve an important function for what we wish this park to be. The journey of our guests begins before they ever set foot inside our walls or pass a turnstile that counts their attendance. The quiet topiary figures, hewn to look like figures of folktales and world mythology, will launch the boat that sets our guests sailing through the placid sea of memory. They will fill them with charm and wonder and take them far away. Before even crossing the gates, they will have already been primed for a journey through imagination.

And they will serve another, important secondary function as well. Part of our attempts to shield our guests from the outside world includes ringing the entire park with an enormous earthen berm to block out views of the city outside and muffle sound. The same function will also be performed by the Greeting Gardens—our topiary will also help obscure the outside world from them, and the greenery will have a similar muting effect.

Having made my case, I think, for their inclusion, now I must defend their status as a “land” and not merely a feature.

It is true that they will have no rides or attractions, no shows, no shops, no diners or eateries. However, that is no reason to dismiss them. We must not forget the magic that comes from walking through a new place the first time. These gardens will be our first impression on our guests, and as such they WILL affect our park’s image. Should we treat them equally to the seven lands inside the park, that image will be polished to a memorable sheen.. Should we cast them aside, we risk falling into the same pitfall as lesser parks: focusing only on rides, or food—only on the quick buck—and being forgotten because of it.

—Alder

---

Cindi wanted to brush her fingers over the small, pebbly leaves, but knew better than to do so. She doubted Alderland would make the topiary delicate—millions visited every year, after all—but it didn’t seem like a good idea to just reach out and touch them.

They’d passed the statues on their way in, but she hadn’t really looked at them. She’d been with a mob of excitable kids, for one, chattering and pushing as they thronged towards the gate, and the goal had been getting a good spot in line. But now that she was here, alone with her friends, she could appreciate just how artful the sculptures truly were. There were shapes to them…

“This one’s Horus,” she realized, whispering aloud.

“F-from… uh… Egypt?”

Cindi blinked. In her stupor she’d almost forgotten about Cameron and Tasha. She half-turned, eying her friends. They’d given up on trying to wheedle her into the park and were now trailing her. Tasha wore a face of resigned frustration, but Cameron looked half-intrigued.

“Yeah,” Cindi said. “I know you don’t know much about him—we haven’t gotten to that bit in school yet—but look.” She pointed at a tiny symbol etched into the side of the topiary. “That’s a wadjet—a symbol from ancient Egypt. So this falcon in flight…” She trailed off, smiling. It really was a treat.

Her eyes drifted to a topiary beyond, showing a lovely maiden attended by a group of small gnomes. She counted them up, smiling as she did. “Yep, seven. That’s Snow White.”

Cameron wandered over to the structure with obvious interest, his breath wheezing slightly. He idly patted his chest he took it in.

“There’s Coyote from Native American myth,” Cindi said, eying another nearby sculpture, “and Sun Wukong beyond him. Fascinating…”

“Yeah yeah, mythology dweeb,” Tasha said, “there are lots of different people here. But why are we here instead of trying to get badges from the seven parks inside Alderland? We could at least be riding some rides.”

Cindi shook her head. “Look around you,” she said. Cameron and Tasha both did as she suggested, eying the figures in the Greeting Gardens. “There are so many.”

There had to be several dozen at least, and only now that she was really looking did she see just how much care had been placed into them. Each sculpture was molded with a tender hand and an eye towards detail, yet despite the variations in the subjects, there was a uniform style… almost like each and every one had leapt from within the pages of the same storybook.

Cindi couldn’t help but spin her head, looking at more and more. So many tales were represented, so many cultures… it seemed almost unreal how seamlessly they all fit into each other. As she turned, history spun around her like a wheel, the parade of faces from mankind’s collective imaginations spiraling around her…

A low cough shook her out of her haze. Cameron hacked a few more times and then blushed sheepishly. “Sorry,” he said, kicking at a loose pebble.

Tasha groaned and sat herself near the edge of one of the topiaries, a lumbering depiction of Anansi. “Why go to all the trouble?” she said. “He has characters from legends and stories around the world. So what?”

Before Cindi could formulate an answer, a low, mocking response asserted itself: “To get the global dollar. Duh.”

They started, looking for the source of the voice, and saw him: another youth, leaning nonchalantly against one of the topiary.

The newcomer was a year or so older than Tasha and Cindi, a tall, lean young man with a slightly tousled look about him. He wore a faded jean jacket slightly too short for him in the arms, and his nose was bridged with dark freckles.

“A-are you…” Cameron trailed off, coughing. “Another contestant?”

The boy bitterly laughed. “Me? Really? Never. Just a brat who grew up near here. You know…” He eyed the distant walls of Alderland, the fireworks still going off above them, the spinning ferris wheel, the coasters which were already sending faint screams of delight wafting over the air. “Been coming around here a long time, but ain’t never had the opportunity of going inside the park itself.”

He shook his head, and when he opened his eyes, a spark of mischief had overlaid the previously-existing look of malaise. “But you don’t need a ticket to explore these gardens, and I bet I know them better even than old redmane himself, guaranteed.”

He pulled himself away from the topiary and examined the others with interest. “What about you, huh? You guys lucky enough to get snag one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and you waste it out here in this dump?”

“Is it a dump?” Cindi asked good-naturedly. Despite the boy’s age, she stood almost as tall as him. “I don’t think so, otherwise you wouldn’t keep coming back.”

He looked reflective at that, but didn’t say anything.

“We’re looking for a spot unlike all the others,” Cindi said. “Someplace special in this garden. You know it better than anyone, don’t you?”

“Well yeah, I do,” he said.

“Then help us?”

“Hey, guy? Do it. Please,” Tasha cut in. “Otherwise we’re gonna wander around this garden all night long and never go on any of the rides.”

Cindi stuck her tongue out at her.

The new guy just chuckled and rolled his shoulders. “Why not. Wasn’t planning on doing anything other than hanging out and feeling jealous all night anyway.” He strode off and Tasha fell in easily beside him.

“You got a name?” she asked.

He smirked at her. “Diego.”

Cindi ambled behind them, before realizing after a few steps that they were missing one. “Cameron?” she asked. The younger boy quickly caught up with her, pocketing something—an inhaler, she realized.

“Duhmiynmeh,” he wheezed, all the words slurred together. “‘M fine.” She nonetheless let him lean against her as they followed Tasha and Diego further into the park.

As they followed, Cindi saw what Diego meant about the global dollar—it didn’t seem like there was a region or culture that had been left out. There were obscure deities from Africa, tribal heroes from Polynesia, even one of the little-known figures of the Austroaboriginal Dreamtime represented. Cindi was impressed—no, more than impressed. She spent almost all of her spare time reading up on ancient cultures, so she knew most of these figures, but she’d never imagined such a broad tribute could be found anywhere.

Yet it seemed a bit cynical to think of Alder doing it all for a quick buck or two. Was that really the reason so many figures made their way here?

And there was something else. Diego was taking them in a curve—she realized that there was a subtle spiral pattern to the way the topiaries were arranged. You almost wouldn’t notice if you weren’t looking for it, but it was there: a meandering curve straight to the center of the Greeting Gardens themselves. What would they find there?

Before long, the pathway finally turned to reveal yet another topiary. This one had nothing particularly noticeable about it—there was no special sign, no golden plaque. It was not bigger or better-maintained than any of the others.

And yet…

And yet there was something, an indescribable something, which sang from it.

Diego turned and gestured at the topiary. “Far as I can figure, if you’re not following the queue lines towards the gate, then all paths lead here… for some reason.” He shook his head. “Just about every other one of those big bushes has something special about it. People from all of the world gawk at statues from their own lands… but this here is the only one that nobody ever seems to recognize.”

A particularly booming firework, large and multicolored, interrupted them as it blossomed across the sky like a blazing flower. Diego’s eyes traced its luminescence, his lips thinning, and he jammed his hands in his jacket pockets. “Well. Good luck, anyway.” And without a word, he turned and melted into the gardens.

Tasha raised a hand as if to stop him, but then she lowered it. “Come on,” she said, her voice sullen. “Let’s go.”

As they approached the sculpture, a form took shape—an older woman, classically matronly, with a plump figure and an apron, seated with a book open on her lap. A small sound came from behind the topiary—the endless clip-clip-clip of a hedge being trimmed. Circling around, they found the source.

It was an Alderland employee, trimming the hedge with a short pair of clippers. He stood on a small stool to reach the upper parts of the greenery; he was a normal-looking young man with spring green hair and a waiterly air around him.

“Good afternoon,” he said, pleasantly.

“Hello,” said Cindi. She titled her head, analyzing what he was up to. “Do you take care of all the topiaries?”

“All by myself? Oh, no. But I’m part of a team that does.”

“So I guess you know all about the statues?”

“Yes, of course. I know the story behind each and every one.”

Cindi nodded at the one he trimmed. “So what’s this one’s story?”

The man stopped trimming for a moment to smile at her. “You know, I don’t get asked about this one very often, but she’s important. You know how the rest of the figures are legends, or folk heroes, or people from fairy tales?”

Cindi nodded.

“Well, who do you think taught Alder all those stories?” The man smiled up at the figure. “This is Alder’s grandmother. She often read him fairy tales when he was young—and then, when they exhausted those, she shared the stories of American folk tales. And when those were gone, they moved to the Roman myths.” He moved the clippers over, humming a bit as he trimmed. “And then the Norse. And so on and so forth… I hear she exhausted the local library. By the time he was grown, she’d shared so many stories with him that his head was positively bursting with tales of magic and heroes and monsters. He carried those with him all his life, and when he made the park, he chose these gardens to memorialize those stories, as well as the woman who—”

A sudden, drawn-out wheeze cut him off. Cindi and Tasha turned around to find Cameron half-sprawled on the brick path near the greenery, fumbling for his inhaler. Tasha flew to his side with a cry as the employee hopped off his stool, face knotted with concern.

“Is your friend alright?” he asked.

“Asthma attack,” Cindi said as Tasha helped him with his inhaler. “I should have recognized he was having trouble…”

The man radioed for help with a small walkie-talkie as Cameron stabilized. “I’m alright,” he said, his voice raspy but intelligible. “It wasn’t a full attack…”

Diego emerged from behind a nearby sculpture. “Hey, kid, you okay?” he asked, kneeling by him. “What happened?”

“Health services will be here in a minute or two,” the employee said. “They can help your friend to a place where he can rest and call a guardian.”

Tasha’s head shot up. “Wait, you mean—he doesn’t get to come into the park with us?”

The employee shook his head. “I’m sorry, but no. Any child in ill health cannot be allowed to participate in the contest, for their own safety.”

“But he didn’t even make it inside the park itself,” Diego said with vigor. “That—that sucks!

Cindi knelt down by the smaller boy. “I’m sorry, Cameron,” she said, tearing up. “If I didn’t want to go explore the gardens, you could at least have gotten to go on a ride…”

But Cameron smiled weakly at her. “It’s all right. To be honest… I probably wasn’t gonna go on any of the rides anyway. I could feel an attack building. It was just bad timing… you two go on lots for me, okay?”

Cindi nodded and rose. She turned to the employee, who was standing attentive. “So, if this is his grandmother, and her statue stands at the center of this spiral…” Here the employee lit up noticeably. “Then I guess this is his favorite attraction then, huh.”

The employee smiled.

She held out her hand. “Badge, please.”

He chuckled and, from a small pocket, pulled out not only a badge but a small leather case. He opened the case, revealing a map of Alderland in miniature, and pinned a small metal emblem—red, green, and blue dots, all in sequence—over the Greeting Gardens section. He handed it over almost reverently.

“Your first badge,” he said with a smile. “Good luck.”

Beaming, Cindi showed it to the others. “This place isn’t just a park,” she said. “It’s Alderland. Even the outside matters.”

Tasha looked at the badge with a big grin on her face. “Can’t believe it.” She shook her head in bemused consternation. “With a genius like you leading us, we might actually have a shot at winning this thing. I bet none of the other contests would give these gardens so much as a second glance.”

“So what will you do now?” the employee asked.

“Well, unless there’s another secret land outside the park itself, I think it’s time to actually go in. I’ll take my friends and get started.”

“Friends? Plural?” he said apologetically. “But your friend… his asthma…” And indeed, the medical crew were already arriving to help Cameron up. He waved a goodbye to both girls and then was carried off.

Cindi waved bye back. She was frustrated at herself for not seeing what had been building for Cameron. But what would you have done? she challenged herself. It’s not like you can stop an asthma attack all on your own…

She shook her thoughts clear. “Yeah,” she said, answering the employee, “I meant multiple friends.” Cindi turned to Diego. “You’re coming, right?”

The older boy blinked. “I… huh?”

She smiled. “I’m allowed to bring in two other kids. And, well… a spot just opened.”

He gaped at her before his eyes, wide and hungry, trailed over to the park. They fixated on the glimmering ferris wheel for a moment. “Yes,” he said, his voice almost a whisper. “Yes, please.

Tasha grinned at him. “Welcome aboard.”

The green-haired employee bowed slightly to them. “I’ve spent my whole career trimming this hedge, and never was asked about it… and now I’ve gotten two questions on the same day.”

Cindi blinked. “Two?”

“Oh, yes. You weren’t the first to come find me. There was another.”

“Who?”

The man shrugged. “Older than you. Tall, thin. Hair in a ponytail, big trucker cap. Called himself Nate.”

---

And chapter two! Cindi already has her first badge, but she'd better be careful. It looks like someone out there figured things out even faster than her...

IN-GAME NOTES: Diego the Pansear is, obviously, my free gift from the Dreamyard. Leveling up everyone was a pain (Audino don't spawn till after the Trio Badge) and it was made extra painful by losing Cameron in the battle against Cilan. I thought I'd be clever and attack while Lillipup was setting up and then use Cameron's Detect to avoid hits. However, rather than alternate buffs and attacks like I misremembered Cilan doing, he only used Work Up once and spammed Bite. The second one that landed was a crit, taking Cameron from low green straight to a KO. Tasha was able to come in and mop up, and then Diego trivialized Pansage. It felt pretty sad, all things considering. RIP, Cameron. We hardly knew ye.

DIEGO (Pansear)
Encountered: Dreamyard (gift). Ability: Gluttony
Careful nature, "Somewhat stubborn"

DEE'S DISNEY RESEARCH:

So, every "land" in Alderland is based on details from real Disney parks combined by the type of the associated gym. Cilan was grass, so a plant theme was obvious, and I was struck with the idea of having gardens as the entryway.

This was partially inspired by the "Gardens of Imagination" in the newest Disney Park, Shanghai Disneyland. Like the Greeting Gardens, the Gardens of Imagination are an early land which is meant to welcome newcomers into the park (though in Shanghai, you have to pay.) In addition, the topiary focus was inspired by EPCOT's International Flower and Garden Festival. During the festival, topiary and floral recreations of Disney characters are placed throughout the park. The workmanship is quite splendid.
 

Emilianite

Conqueror of the Saffron Gym
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she/her
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I like the description of the Greeting Gardens by Alder in the beginning, nice way to set the mood for it! I like Diego, i like his vibe... also such a clever way to portray the gym, it def shows how creative you can be with all these gameplay elements. Poor Cameron though, feel better boy~
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
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Team Delta
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"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Getting that bit from Alder really shows that Cindi is on the right track! So I really hope she stays safe in the park.

Your Cilan is so sweet! Working with the topiaries fits him so well!

Poor Cameron! I'm glad he's going to be taken care of, though.
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
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A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
I like the description of the Greeting Gardens by Alder in the beginning, nice way to set the mood for it! I like Diego, i like his vibe... also such a clever way to portray the gym, it def shows how creative you can be with all these gameplay elements. Poor Cameron though, feel better boy~
Thank you! Get used to Alder's insights, cause we're gonna be hearing them a lot :>

As for Diego, he was a lot of fun to write as well. And part of the fun of this run is transforming all the different Gym ideas, hehe c:


Getting that bit from Alder really shows that Cindi is on the right track! So I really hope she stays safe in the park.

Your Cilan is so sweet! Working with the topiaries fits him so well!

Poor Cameron! I'm glad he's going to be taken care of, though.
Don't worry! This is a no-danger zone! All aboard the safe train!

And thanks! Yes... poor Cam, but don't worry, he's going to be just fine when he gets home!

Land 2: Nostalgia Lane



Think on your childhood.



Do you remember the days spent running under the trees? The time you rolled, laughing, in the dappled shade? Trips to the movies or the city pool or the cool air of the library? I hope you can recall. When we are young, such days seem to go on forever. Only once we reach adulthood do we truly reflect on how swiftly they skip by.



There are no “rides,” per se, in Nostalgia Lane. There can’t be. It’s a grand old place filled with memories. Let our guests hop on boats or rocket down roller coasters elsewhere. Here, the emphasis is to help them voyage into a simpler, happier time.



Every guest who enters our park will visit the Lane, walking down its cobbled streets and passing its quaint and homey facades. Shops and arcades abound, and there should be a fire station, a town hall, a barber’s office—not truly outfitted to provide these services, of course, but they should be there for authenticity’s sake.



I know that some question my tastes. They find it strange that the entrance to the greatest park on Earth should be based on an idealized dream of small-town, ’20s America. Well, gentleman: those days meant much to me, scrambling rambunctiously over the streets and watching the horse-drawn carriages race by alongside the new autos. I know they weren’t perfect. There was much wickedness about back then, both at home and abroad. But I was too young to see, and so my image of that life is fixed—accurately or not—as one of long-lost happiness.



I hope that I can share some of that happiness with the world.



—Alder



---



Cindi was only partially through her banana split and already felt stuffed.



Around her, the other kids were digging into their ice creams with various levels of enthusiasm. Sporty Tasha had only let herself have a tiny cup and was eying the other dishes with envy. Diego was on his third sundae and seemed to have no intention of stopping.



Three other kids were eating with them: Dyson, AJ, and Wynn. Dyson, a short, studious-looking boy about Cameron’s age with big glasses and curly hair, had been the one to receive the invitation. AJ, a quiet young man with an athlete’s build, was his older brother, and the blonde, pretty Wynn was AJ’s girlfriend.



When Cindi and her friends had wandered into the parlor, the three of them had been sulking over empty dishes. Nostalgia Lane didn’t have “attractions” in the sense of the usual rides, but there had to be a badge here, so the contestants who stuck around had clogged up entrances to places like the old theater showing classic cartoons, or lined up to hop on the horse-drawn buggy that took you for rides to the Hub and back.



Dyson and his group had exhausted them all, and still no badge.



Cindi had felt sorry on walking in and asked to sit with them. She’d almost wanted to share the secret of the badge in the Greeting Gardens, but couldn’t without getting kicked out. Still, there was no harm in getting them to sit with them.



The ice cream parlor was old-fashioned in the best way: spacious with aged wood chairs and tables and colorful glass surrounding the soft lamps that filled the space with warm light. There was a telephone you could pick up to listen to comical vignettes, an old-timey radio that belted out tinny jazz, and a small staircase in the corner that had a wrought metal gate over it. The large counter only had one person working it tonight. She was tall and smiling, her hair done up big under her net, and her smooth, strong skin was almost as dark as Dyson and AJ’s. Her nametag read “Lenora.”



“Can I get anything more for you, hun?” she asked sweetly. Tasha, whom she’d been addressing, looked down at the tiny bowl in front of her. She sighed and smiled with resignation.



“Aw, hell. I’m in Alderland, may as well get the best thing. Gimme a…” She scanned the menu. “Hmm. What’s the most sinful thing you got?”



Lenora laughed. “Sinful? Well, there’s the choco-macadamia special dream sundae. That one was the number-one order of Alder himself, you know.”



“Yes please!



As the employee busied herself making the treat, Diego ribbed Tasha. “Good on ya,” he said around a mouthful of ice cream. “You don’t seem the type of person who lives it up a lot.”



She cast a critical eye on him which was undermined by the grin she wore. “You got caramel on your jacket.”



Without shame, he thumbed the syrup off and stuck it in his mouth with a loud and satisfying smack. Tasha giggled.



Dyson and his group were less energetic. “I just don’t get it,” he said with frustration. “We ran here and did it all as fast as we could so we could go to other lands. But the horse-and-buggy, the firehouse tour, the theater, the penny arcade, the vaudeville act, the barbershop quartet, even the baseball diamond—none of that stuff has badges. What’s even left as an attraction?”



As he sighed, Wynn, the most outgoing member of his group, engaged Lenora. “Hey, I bet you know where the badge for this place is. Tell us? Pretty please?”



Lenora smiled and put the finishing touches on Tasha’s sundae. As Tasha wolfed into it, Lenora fixed Wynn with a knowing eye. “I do know, in fact, but no hints, I’m afraid.”



Wynn sunk back, rolling her eyes—but she didn’t seem too broken up. “Worth a shot, hah. I think we should write this place off, go on some real rides in other lands.” AJ nodded in silent agreement. “What about you guys?” She eyed Cindi. “Once you’re done here, what’s your plan?”



Cindi had no idea. They’d entered Nostalgia Lane and been daunted by the big lines to everything of note (though, she thought with a sinking feeling, that was likely to be a problem elsewhere too). The lines, coupled with Tasha’s continued sadness over Cameron’s departure, had led Diego to suggest they drown it with sweets.



“Well,” Diego said, patting his stomach, “I’m just here for the ride. So long as we actually go on a roller coaster or something, I’ll be happy.” He fixed a sudden gaze on Cindi. “We are going on roller coasters, aren’t we?”



“If you’re talking coasters,” Lenora chimed in, removing her gloves and washing her hands, “I can’t recommend the Forgotten Temple over in Lost Isle enough. Of course, that’s not a statement on anything related to badges.” She began organizing utensils. “I just happen to really, really like that one.”



Diego’s eyes lit up and he fixed Cindi with an almost puppy-dog pout.



Cindi giggled and told him that they’d definitely make it onto a coaster. He nodded, satisfied. “Cool, cool. So then we can do whatever you want. I mean, we’ve already gotten one badge, so…”



He trailed off, suddenly looking abashed, as the other group surged forward with interest. “Where?” Dyson asked.



“…can’t say for both our sakes,” Cindi replied after a pause. She looked at Lenora. “Can I tell them that it wasn’t in a place I initially expected, though?”



“You already did.” Lenora’s smile was warm. “But I’ll allow it.” Though none of them asked for more ice cream, she set about getting more, humming slightly as she did.



Inspiration crashed into Cindi like a thunderbolt.



“Can I have the one you made Tasha?” she asked, pushing away the remains of her banana split. “The one that Alder liked?”



“Certainly, sweetheart,” Lenora said with a warm glow.



Cindi leaned back in her chair, lost in thought. “So Alder actually came here to eat ice cream?”



“He sure did.” Despite the variety of flavors, only one was plopped down into the bowl: cold, creamy vanilla. Lenora sculpted the sundae with an artisan’s touch, each scoop perfectly aligned on the others. “He’d sit here, dig into his favorite bowl, and then just stare out the window at the rooftops. They’re based on his hometown, you know.”



She drizzled melted chocolate over the scoops and then busied herself with generous heaps of macadamias over the top, humming all the while. “See that one out there? Across from us?”



Cindi looked. The roof was an old-fashioned affair, wide with slightly-faded yet still-cheery red tiles. A small parade of lights marched across the edge, giving the whole thing a soft, appealing glow. The sign hanging down indicated that it was a penny arcade. To Cindi’s left, a soft song wafted out of a barbershop flanking the arcade—while there was no barber there, the quartet still serenaded anyone willing to step in. They hadn’t repeated a song once yet. On the other side of the arcade was a small, verdant green covered by a high pavilion, whose peaked roof just brushed against that of the arcade. Behind all three, the sky burned a vivid orange as dusk fell on the park. Groups of children sprinted past, laughing, and there were the distant sounds of hooves clopping over cobbled stones.



“I see it,” whispered Cindi.



“That arcade was one he spent his youth at,” Lenora said. She piled on what looked like half a can of whipped cream onto the sundae, drizzled even more chocolate on it, and delicately set a bright red cherry on top. She pushed the sundae at Cindi, who dug into it eagerly. “He always wanted to outwit the fortune telling game, even though he knew it was rigged. The barbershop quartet—” And here she nodded at the building. “—is because his brother was in one. The green is based on the town square. And this place…” She gestured around them. “His mother ran an ice cream parlor. It was torn down when he was a young adult, something he never forgave himself for. From what I understand, this is an exact recreation.”



The sundae was delicious. The simple flavors of chocolate and vanilla complemented each other stunningly, and the unusual crunch of the macadamias over a more common nut like peanuts or pecans lent the treat just the right amount of personality.



“He really liked his town, huh,” Wynn thought aloud. AJ and Dyson both nodded along.



“He sure did. ‘Course, he knows it wasn’t perfect. There was inequality there, just like anywhere, and though his family was big-minded, not everybody back then was. Certain folk weren’t regarded well in town.”



Cindi suddenly felt very self-conscious. She swallowed and took another bite of the sundae.



“But no matter where you go, there’s gonna be some bad. Alder, he chose to preserve the world as he saw it, but strip it of that stuff. It’s a trip into perfect memory.”



“Romanticising the past can be dangerous,” Dyson countered. His glasses were in danger of falling and he pushed them up. “Lots of people have inaccurate opinions about how things used to be.”



Lenora nodded, leaning back. “For sure. Alder, he knew that. His goal here isn’t to erase the bad things that happened during that era. It’s just to let people step into his childhood, that’s all.”



Cindi had already finished the sundae. Her stomach whined for more, but she told it to be quiet. They were going to go on real rides, after all.



She turned and looked out the window.



“Something on your mind, child?” came Lenora’s voice.



“I think I get it,” she responded.



“Oh?”



“It’s not just that he had a childhood. Most of this stuff is just… gone now.” Cindi gestured, taking in the roofs, the cobbled street—everything. “Instead of cobbled streets and horses with buggies, we have hot asphalt and cars that belch exhaust. Penny arcades were replaced with more modern ones, and even those aren’t doing well anymore.” She could almost imagine a young alder, playing in the green, then running down to say hi to his brother between songs. He’d swing by the arcade, play a few games, then run across the road to see his mom and get some ice cream.



It sounded like fun. It sounded like something someone would miss.



“It went away,” she said. “He was a kid and he loved it and he thought it would stay forever but it didn’t. He left and came back and everything was gone or changed. And while a lot of changes are good—I bet he was happy that people could, like, vote—it’s hard to tell someone that their childhood is just… gone.”



“Sure is, hon.” Lenora’s voice was quiet and a little wistful. “That town is still around, but it doesn’t look like this. This is the ghost of a place that no longer is. My own town’s the same way. Places I took for granted just up and left. It’s hard…”



The sky was burning even redder. Cindi turned to look at Lenora but was lost for words.



“You have to understand,” the older woman said, leaning on the counter with a sigh, “that change rarely happens overnight. It’s sudden. It’s gradual. It creeps up on you—you wake up, blink, and realize that everything around you ain’t like it was.” She eyed Cindi, taking her in, and then smiled warmly. “But that happens for good things, too. Sometimes things improve but you’re so stuck in a bad spot that you don’t notice how less and less bad it’s getting. Things do get better, girl. You hear?”



Cindi nodded. “I hear.” She sat back, thoughtful. “So, Alder’s mom had a shop just like this? And he duplicated it exactly?”



“That’s right.”



“He came here for sundaes?”



“At least weekly, before his health went.”



“Then I guess this would be his favorite spot in Nostalgia Lane.”



The breath of the other children caught. Lenora’s smile spread.



Cindi pulled out the tiny map the green-haired man had given her, opening it to display the small map of Alderland. “Badge please.”



Lenora laughed, clapping with delight, and then reached underneath the counter to pull out a badge. It was a long line of purple, segmented at its ends. “Here,” she said, pinning it onto the map of Alderland over the Nostalgia Lane spot. “You earned it.”



Cindi blushed and put the badge case away. She was… whoa. She was already a quarter of the way there.



Lenora turned her attention on Dyson, AJ, and Wynn, all of whom were gawking. “Suppose I’d better get out a map for you all as well?”



“Wait.” Dyson looked at Cindi’s map, then at her. “I thought I had a plan, but seems like I don’t know what I’m about. But you definitely know what you’re doing. We’re allowed to form groups of up to six—you okay with that?”



Cindi chuckled. “Welcome to the team, guys.”



“I wish you luck,” Lenora said warmly. “You’re the first one to figure it out. I’m supposed to be impartial, but know that I’m rooting for you.”



“Thanks.”



Saying their farewells to Lenora, they stepped out onto the streets. “So where to now?” asked Wynn.



Cindi’s eyes were drawn past the Lane. Over the tops of the buildings was an explosion of green, and she imagined she heard jungle sounds on the wind. “There’s a land over there called Lost Isle. I think it’s our best bet.”



“Hey.” Diego put his hands on his hips. “Does that mean we’re finally riding a roller coaster?”



“I think so,” Tasha teased.



“About. Freaking. Time.

---

Yeah... I did eat ice cream the day I wrote this. What of it?

IN-GAME NOTES: After fearing for my life against Lenora, the result was that... she was terribly, terribly easy. I was almost disappointed, but then remembered how much trouble she seemed to give me in other runs, so it all pans out. It was mostly thanks to my two new party members that I made it through. Wynn is my Route 8 encounter, and a female Blitzle; Dyson is my Wellspring Cave encounter, and a male Roggenrola; and AJ is my Outer Pinwheel Forest encounter, and a male Sawk. (I used a repel to skip encountering something in the Dreamyard.) Before you scream at me about the insanity of getting Sawk, a 10% encounter and one of the best in the game... check out his stats.

In the Lenora battle itself, AJ destroyed Herdier, who only did one turn of damage and was put on a losing healing race. Dyson vs Watchog was a bit chancier--Watchog led with Crunch and landed the Defense drop, but I used Iron Defense the same turn to counterbalance it. The next turn Watchog put Dyson to sleep, but he woke up the next turn and landed a crit Rock Smash after eating a weak Crunch. The turn after that Hypnosis missed, and Dyson landed four hits from Rock Blast to eliminate Watchog. A cinch! Pokemon info is below.

WYNN (Blitzle)
Encountered: Route 3. Ability: Motor Drive.
Hasty nature, "Likes to thrash about."

DYSON (Roggenrola)
Encountered: Wellspring Cave. Ability: Sturdy.
Calm nature, "Likes to thrash about."

AJ (Sawk)
Encountered: Pinwheel Forest (outside). Ability: Inner Focus.
Modest nature, "Impetuous and silly."

(note: IVs notwithstanding, this is the worst possible Sawk to get. RIP my luck.)

DEE'S DISNEY RESEARCH:

Nostalgia Lane's inspiration should be easy to pin down. It's based on Main Street, USA, the opening area of every Disney park save Tokyo and Shanghai. (Note: these ones still base their architecture and look on turn-of-the-century America. They just don't call the opening area "Main Street USA".) I love that part of the park; hearing oldies blaring from speakers, riding double-decker buses or horse-drawn buggies, and hearing the distant whine of a faraway train really brings on the magic. Like Alder, Walt Disney based the place on an idealized version of his childhood; he had a personal apartment above the firehouse, where he often stayed. A lamp is left burning there in his memory. The design of the Penny Arcade is based off of the Emporium in Disneyland; look up a picture if you're interested!
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
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301
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Jul 1, 2019
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Rash
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Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Ah... Is there anything more tinged with nostalgia than sitting down with ice cream and friends you made just that day?
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
608
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
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Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
@Bowser's Family Vacation - Personally? Hard to think of something~

Land 3: Lost Isle



It is a sad thing that the map is filled in.



We must take care not to idolize the so-called “age of adventure;” I am well aware of the injustices perpetrated on indigenous people in the name of progress, and we must be cogent that exploration and colonialism so often walk hand in hand.



Nevertheless, there is a certain appeal to reading tales of faraway jungles, lost temples, and ancient ruins. Who has not been captivated by the stories of archaeologists, trailblazers, and guides stumbling across cities eaten by the jungle, or walking through a ruined shrine, always wondering if a crumbling tiger statue hides a cunningly-hidden dart in its dark recesses?



With the Lost Isle, I hope that our guests might step into the sort of derring-do that captivated the adventurous in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They shall sail rivers through a forgotten delta, walk through a forgotten temple based on the Angkkor Wat, and be dazzled by beautiful and exotic creatures. I hope, too, not to fetishize or denigrate the cultures who thrived in these bejewled parts of the world; we shall have cultural museums and learning centers staffed by real peoples from these regions. We shall also have areas dedicated to instructing our visitors on the wonder of the natural world—exposing them to beautiful and fast-fading plants, animals, and insects.



We must not forget that these places of the world are vanishing fast before the ceaseless engine which calls itself “progress”, and we would do well to try and preserve them as best we can.



—Alder



---



“We’re not going to the Hub?” Dyson asked, frowning slightly.



Cindi shook her head. “Not right now. Too crowded.”

The others looked at the Hub with an air of wistfulness. Alderland was laid out like a wheel, with each land its own spoke on the wheel—Nostalgia Lane was the southernmost one, leading to the Hub, and the other places branched off from there.



The Hub was the truest icon of Alderland. An old-fashioned boardwalk but with everything better, the merry-go-round and boardwalk games and old-fashioned roller coaster seemed to call to everyone, and the massive Ferris Wheel which served as the park’s main marketing symbol was considered a must-ride.



Cindi was right, of course. The Hub was crowded—every child who had no intention of getting badges had rushed there straightaway to hop onto the most iconic rides, and even those who did care about badges were filling a tremendous line for the Ferris Wheel. It seemed obvious that the Hub’s badge would be obtained from the park’s single most iconic attraction.



Smiling at the others, Cindi laughed. “We’ll come back, I swear,” she said. “In the meantime… there are plenty of other places to explore.”



Six lands branched out from the Hub—Nostalgia Lane to the south, the alluring Skytown to the north, and four more in the directions of northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest. It was in this latter direction that the group headed, crossing a large wood-and-rope bridge to the distant yet slowly swelling sound of drums, flutes, and the squawks of jungle birds.



“I read somewhere that each land in Alderland is made so that sounds from the others can’t reach in,” Wynn said as she walked. “It’s done to preserve the atmosphere of each individual land.”



AJ patted her arm as he walked in recognition of her words. It wasn’t a dismissive gesture—he was too busy drinking in the sights to respond. They all were.



The Lost Isle was everything about old adventure serials and travel journals distilled into one. There were enormous, beautifully verdant plants growing everywhere from the world’s jungles—none of them fake, either. Tasha couldn’t help but brush her hands against the fronds as they passed, and Cindi smiled at her.



“Having fun?” she asked.



Tasha nodded. “I’ve always wanted to go to the jungle or rainforest,” she said, her voice soft with wonder. “Always…”



Despite being arguably the smallest of Alderland’s various lands, there was a lot packed into the Lost Isle. It was part jungle path and part African port, part thriving bazaar and part ruined city. The region’s flagship ride—the Forgotten Temple—towered ahead. It looked like a glorious testament to the grand sites of Cambodia and other regions of Southeast Asia—a stone dome covered in designs and etchings of fantastic figures. The façade was the entrance to one of the park’s premier roller coasters.



“We’re going straight there!” Diego said, pointing directly at it. “Right?”



Cindi grinned. “Well, I did promise, after all.” Besides, Lenora had recommended it—could it have been a hint as to where to get the next badge?



The temple was on the far side of the Lost Isle, and as their group of six pushed through—AJ taking the lead, his bulk effortlessly parting the crowd around them—it was hard not to lose themselves in the electric energy of the happy crowd. All around them, the children hand-picked by Alder (and their guests) were marveling at fire dances from the South Pacific, gasping as a snake-charmer coaxed his slender fellow out of a wicker basket. A few studious-looking types looked on in interest as a Bangladeshi woman demonstrated hand-crafted jewelry, and others were lining up, salivating, at kebab stands or places to buy iced fruit.



“Look at that poor shmuck,” Wynn said with a giggle, pointing. Among the many shops and displays lining the street was an entrance to a rotating gallery—Featuring native art as well as nature photography and paintings inspired by landscapes!, the display said. The man out front was trying to get passers-by inside.



“An exhibit of bug paintings?” Tasha said, the disgust in her tone almost palpable. “Ick. No thanks.” In response, Cindi couldn’t help but shake her head. Hardly any of the kids would be interested in looking at this stuff.



Still, the one painting out on display did look quite nice. It was some sort of jeweled beetle…



She was so busy focused on it that she almost didn’t realize when she bumped into a young man. “Sorry,” she stammered out, and then started. He was tall, had long green hair done back in a messy ponytail, and wore a big trucker cap. He looked at her with an aloof air.



The memory of the very first badge she’d gotten teased at her like a gnat. “Are you… Nate?” she asked.



He raised one eyebrow in response and nodded almost imperceptibly. “And who are you?” His words were crisp and over-enunciated, and he didn’t look at her as he spoke, his eyes scanning the park, the crowd, the buildings, skating over them with swiftness as though he were a computer taking in new info.



“Um… C-Cindi,” she said.



“And how do you know my name?” He still didn’t look at her when he spoke.



“Someone told us about you,” Tasha offered, putting a comforting hand on Cindi’s shoulder. “In the, uh, topiary?”



Nate blinked once and looked at Cindi briefly, then nodded again—a rival acknowledged. “I see. I wondered how many people would ignore that aspect of the park. Most of them, it seems.”



“Y-yeah,” Cindi stammered. He was curiously standoffish, but not in an aggressive or intimidating way—there was just something about him that was difficult to approach. His precise diction, the way he spoke while apparently focused on something else, even the way he held himself—all of them sent one clear message: I would like desperately to ignore you.



“Where are the others?” Wynn asked. Nate turned and looked at her.



“What?”



“The, uh—your group? The ones you brought in?”



“Why would I bring other people? They would get in my way.” The words weren’t hurtful or spiteful—in fact, he didn’t even seem to register the implicit insult towards Cindi herself, wandering with a full group of six. It were simply a fact stated: more people were more legs to get tangled, more eyes to get distracted, more bodies to take up space in ride queues.



“I guess a genius like you’s already got the badge for this area,” Diego said with perhaps more heat than he’d meant.



“Yes, I have.”



Diego blinked. Whoops.



“Is the—the Forgotten Temple any good?” Cindi said, desperate to avoid a scene.



He looked at her and actually smiled. “Yes. It’s a good roller coaster.”



She nodded. “I would think so! Alder clearly put so much effort into it. The whole Lost Isle looks amazing—” and she gestured at the spectacle of the firedancer, the greenery beyond, all the atmosphere, “—and this is the capstone to a perfect place.”



“Oh, the Lost Isle is actually pretty bad.”



Again, the response wasn’t hurtful—he was simply stating it the way he might state that the sky was blue, or that Paris was in France.



“…huh?”



“Ugh, just look at this.” He cast a discerning eye at the surroundings. “Too much effort put into the trappings. I get that Alder likes this stuff, but look at these people.” His gaze fixated on another group of kids in line for a treat stand. “Once the momentary spectacle wears off, they want rides, not culture. But the only thing the whole area has is that coaster, and even then you have to take the big walk through the so-called ‘temple’ to get to it. What a bore. The whole park is like that, to be honest, but this land has it particularly bad.”



“I—I like the Lost Isle!” Cindi protested. “I think it was cool for Alder to try and recapture a sense of adventure—and to celebrate real cultures while he was at it.”



Nate shrugged, an everyone’s-entitled-to-their-own-opinion-even-if-it’s-wrong gesture. “Let’s be honest—most people don’t care,” he said. His phone beeped and he pulled it out, grimacing at the time. “See you around.”



And he strode off.



“Well, that was a… guy,” Dyson said lamely, pushing his glasses up. He turned his gaze towards Cindi. “You okay?”



“Huh? Yeah,” she said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “I’ve met way, way worse.” She rubbed her cheek, and then smiled. “Now come on! There’s a coaster to ride!”



Their spirits lifted, the six of them went for the Forgotten Temple. It was one of the most famous rides in the country; not for the coaster itself, but for its queue.



The queue was everything.



As they approached the Cambodian temple, the foliage grew denser and thicker, and they saw a line of people trailing out the temple entrance. They joined it and stood in line.



A loud radio placed on a reconstructed jeep blared big band music and transported listeners to the turn of the century. Between the songs were funny bits and radio programs, as well as a broadcast telling of the “rediscovery” of an ancient ruin—the very one they were in line for.



“Mind the legends,” the old-timey broadcaster joked in all his early 1900s bombast. “According to some spooked locals, these ruins might be cursed—well, it didn’t seem so cursed when the discoverer walked out with pockets full of gold!”



Before long, they were into the temple itself. The walls were rough stone, etched with carvings and painted with strange symbols—but there were also maps, satchel bags, and other modern trinkets strewn about. The temple, it seemed, had become part of an archaeological site.



The story was told without any need for a screen or voiceover. As the temple got deeper and darker, small rumbles echoed through the stone—like earthquakes, or the anger of a jungle god. The archaeology equipment was scattered, abandoned in a haphazard retreat. Occasionally, walkie-talkies—just out of reach of queue walkers—blurted out panic from the always unseen archaeologists.



“It’s bigger than we thought,” came one distraught voice. “There’s an undertemple—you mustn’t go—you mustn’t!”



In the deepest part of the temple, where the walk was lit only by flickering red-and-orange lights made to look like torches, central passage had apparently been blocked by a collapse—but the queue meandered into a dark and blue-lit cave with jagged-looking stalactites and the distant sound of dripping water. The cave took riders to a low platform where coaster attendants—dressed like ancient spirits—shepherded riders into their coasters with wicked smiles. “The great spirit will judge you,” they said. “Get ready to venture into the undertemple.”



They filed in two-by-two. Diego and Tasha took the front two seats, Diego almost looking ready to pop with excitement. AJ and Wynn sat behind them, hands clasped tight (it was the stout AJ, Cindi noted with amusement, who seemed the more afraid). Cindi herself sat down alongside Dyson.



Rather than rocket off, the coaster went slow, crawling through a tunnel covered bas-reliefs and idols. The chief one—the vengeful god—turned and spoke to riders, telling them to brave the undertemple if they wished to get out alive.



The coaster broke into an enormous underground chamber. The track dipped and wound past pillars and statues, some of which turned to screech at riders. At one point it seemed to cross an old rickety bridge suspended precariously over lava. In sections of total darkness, they would be surprised by sudden jolts or drops, and the squeaking of bats of the hissing of snakes would play from speakers mounted near their ears. At the end of the ride, they seemed to finally come to a halt—only for the walls to bulge around them and the ominous sound of a collapsing passage to meet their ears. The vengeful god’s voice boomed that this was their final trial, and the coaster sprang backwards to shoot along a long curve and a short but sudden drop before finally coming to a stop. As they left, light broke through the open-aired passage that left them out, and distant chatter from down the tunnel told them that the surveyors in the ride’s story had barely escaped as well. “I suppose,” concluded one pompous-voiced professor, “that we mustn’t assume we know a land better than its inhabitants.”



The entire ride had been a treat, and Diego had almost leapt for joy when exiting—“Lemme go again! C’mon, one more time! Pleeeeease!” as a laughing Tasha gave half-hearted apologies to the ride attendants. AJ looked spooked but had a big smile on his face, and Wynn was patting his arm, grinning widely.



But as Cindi had left, she noted that Dyson had was following after her shakily. He looked slightly queasy.



“Are you okay?” she asked with concern as the nearest ride attendant looked on with a frown. She remembered how ill health had cost Cameron a chance to join them in the park.



Dyson waved off her concerns, and color slowly returned to his face. “Fine!” he protested. “That last drop just took me by surprise.” He looked impishly at his big brother. “So you still scared of roller coasters, or what?”

“Shut up,” AJ replied without malice, and they walked off laughing. As Cindi turned, however, she saw the attendant’s eyes still following Dyson with an air of concern.



There was one thing that they absolutely weren’t discussing—as fun as the ride was, it hadn’t won them a badge.



It wasn’t Alder’s favorite attraction in the Lost Isle.



The unspoken implication followed them out of the ride. The Lost Temple had been a blast—probably something they would remember forever—but now they were lost. If the biggest-name attraction in this section of the park (indeed, one of the park’s most famous attractions period) wasn’t Alder’s favorite… then what was?



Think, Cindi told herself. Think. Think. The last two badges were found in atypical places. Alder’s favorite might be unusual…



But then she rounded the corner and all thought went out the window as her breath hitched.



Cheren was there, browsing his phone, while Bianca hovered nearby. Cindi wanted to melt away before he could see her—move, move, there’s still time—but then Bianca turned her face, registered them, and waved, wearing a big smile.



“Tasha! Hey!” she yelled. “And Cindi too!”



Cheren looked up from his phone and Cindi got the sense that he was barely constraining himself from rolling his eyes. Pocketing his phone, he meandered over to them a few steps behind Bianca.



“Hi Cindi! How’s it going!” Bianca said with another big smile. Her cheeriness seemed a little too forced—as if she didn’t want a repeat of the tense encounter outside the park gates.



Cindi mumbled a noncommittal response, but Bianca was too busy frowning to notice. “Wait… where’s Cam?”



“Asthma attack,” Tasha said, crossing her arms. “He had to leave.”



“Awww… that’s too bad. Right Cheren?”



Cheren nodded perfunctorily.



As Diego, Dyson, and the other newcomers introduced themselves, Wynn frowned and came close to Cindi. “Hey, you’re looking a little upset. These friends of yours?”



“I…” How could she explain that they were, they had been, but Cheren couldn’t accept… “I just… want to leave.”



Wynn’s frowned deepened and she eyed Cheren flintily.



“What about you?” Cheren said, his voice unemotive, turning his attention to Cindi for the first time.



Don’t say the name, don’t say the name, I hate that name…



“How many badges do you have, Sid?”



The name, that stupid name, stung her like a wasp, and she shrunk back. Tasha, who had been scowling at him, balled her fists. She took a step towards Cheren as if to chew him out—



But Wynn beat her to it.



“Who do you think you are?” she said, getting clear up in Cheren’s face. He blinked, obviously nonplussed, and took an involuntary step back.



“And who’re you?” he said after a moment, nonplussed and trying to hide it. “I’ll have you know I’ve known Sid longer than you have—”



“Then you should know to treat her better and don’t call her that!” Wynn was yelling, now, and passersby were looking at her. A nearby attendant was clearly following the situation.



“L-let’s just go,” Cindi said. “Forget it, Wynn, we should just leave.”



“I want this jerk to apologize first!”



“Hey,” Bianca said, her face taught and her voice resigned, “c’mon, let’s just all cool down.” She laid a calming hand on Wynn’s shoulder.



Wynn shrugged her off—hard. Too hard. Bianca stumbled back with a wail and landed smack on her tailbone, bringing tears to her eyes. As Cheren gasped in shock, the attendant zipped over until he was right next to Wynn.



“No roughhousing in the park,” he said, his voice unsympathetic. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”



There was a cacophony of protests from the others, AJ and Dyson most of all—“He started it!” “It was an accident!” “Please!”—and even Bianca, after getting up and dusting herself off, asked the man to please let Wynn stay. “I don’t think she meant to knock me down,” she said. “I’m not mad, really!”



“Rules are rules.” The man wouldn’t budge and a resigned Wynn allowed herself to be escorted out.



Before she left, she waved goodbye. “AJ, Dyson, I’ll see you two in a few days. And Cindi… it was nice meeting you. You’re a really nice girl!”



Her smile turned to a scowl as she fixated her gaze on Cheren, and then the attendant led her away to leave the park. Cheren watched her leave with the hint of what might have been a smirk.



Bianca was almost tearful. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I—I didn’t want her to leave, really, I just wanted everyone to calm down…”



“Not your fault,” Diego said in a bitter voice, zeroing his eyes on Cheren. Tasha, AJ, and even Dyson were similarly glowering.



Cheren scoffed. “C’mon, Bianca. We’ve already got a badge, now let’s explore the rest of the park and leave these guys to it.” He stalked away and, after a resigned and apologetic look from Bianca, she followed.



“What a prick,” AJ said, only the second time Cindi had heard him speak. His voice was low and smooth, the kind of voice you heard on the evening news.



“Forget him,” Tasha snarled. “Cindi, don’t let him get to you, okay?”



She nodded, still feeling bad. If she’d just been more confident…!



Her misery must have shown on her face, because Tasha rallied the others. “She might need a minute. Is there anywhere quiet around here?”



“In Alderland?” Diego asked, skeptical. Then, a few seconds later, a grin split his face. “Actually, I think I know just the place.”



The man outside the gallery looked positively harried. He did look like an artist—coiffed and poofy hair, a close-hugging green sweater, and a scarf and tight pants in matching shades of red.



“Welcome!” he said, sounding ecstatic as they walked up to him. “Come and look at my paintings!”



They were too polite to say they were just there to get some alone time, so they allowed him to shuffle them inside.



The gallery’s interior was cool—cool air, cool colors, and soft, ambient sounds of the jungle piped in through hidden speakers. The artist began introducing his paintings.



They were actually pretty good. Jeweled beetles reposed on verdant leaves, and butterflies fluttered through shafts of sunlight. A colorful spider spun a wed with dew hanging off of it like pearls.



The sheer beauty made Cindi gasp. “These are… wonderful,” she said, the bad feeling in her chest starting to go away.



“Thank you,” said the artist. “I feel like bugs aren’t appreciated enough. They get a bad rap, and some people think they’re just creepy… but bugs don’t need to force themselves into people’s preconceptions of beauty. They’re lovely on their own terms, and if people could just see that, they’d adore them!”



Cindi nodded, fascinated by the paintings. There were crimson ladybirds and cocoons hanging from branches; ants speckling the jungle floor, and water striders leaving trails on placid ponds. She wandered from painting to painting, awestruck, and stopped before one noteworthy one. It was a large moth, white in color, with enormous, orange wings.



“This one is really majestic,” she said.



The artist chuckled. “Alder shares your opinion, you know. This was the picture that got him to allow me to be the featured artist for this time of the year.”



“Alder knows your paintings?”



“Of course! Every artist who has ever been in the gallery—from a native sculptor to a landscape photographer—was chosen by him personally, to fit the theme of the Lost Isle and showcase the wonders of either foreign cultures or the natural world. That said…” The artist turned his chin down the hall. “That one is my favorite.”



The picture he motioned at was of a leaf mantis, all vivid green. Sunlight rained on it, filling the canvas with a tapestry of yellow, and the entire thing blended together, making the insect look almost like a tropical angel.



“It’s pretty,” Cindi agreed. Then she thought. “Alder… personally picks everyone who comes in here?”



“That’s right.”



She nodded. It made sense. Alder would enjoy a good ride, of course, especially one as atmospheric as the Lost Temple. But elevating his attendees’s knowledge of cultural traditions, of vulnerable animals and shrinking habitats… that seemed a note which would come from far deeper in the old man’s heart.



Wordlessly, she pulled out her case and opened it. The artist’s chuckle grew and he reached into his pocket for a badge. The item was long and thin, three wavy green fronds—like fern leaves, or an insect wing. Cindi suspected the ambiguous appearance was deliberate.



“Here you are,” he said, fixing the badge in place over the Lost Isle in her map.



“Thank you,” she said.



He grinned. “Thank you. It’s rare that young people really appreciate my work. Good luck!”



They bid goodbye and left.



“You doing okay?” Tasha asked.



Cindi thought it over. Wynn was kicked out on her behalf. Cheren was still out there. The park was vast, and there were five more badges to go—some of them almost certainly trickier to find than the ones she’d found.



But she stared down at the three she’d gotten so far, the fire from a nearby tiki torch flickering off of them, and couldn’t help but smile. Not only was she doing well, she thought, but each time, she’d… learned something.



Perhaps that was the point.



“Yeah,” she said, shutting the case. “I am.” Turning to face the rest of her friends, she laughed. “Let’s go!”

---

This is the longest SfY chapter yet, and was probably the most difficult to write for a number of reasons. No new teammates this time around, so that's a thing!

Wynn was lost to a Basculin in the Battle Company. She had low HP but I know she could KO the Basculin and that she outsped... but it used Aqua Jet. Ouch. Burgh was seriously barely even a roadblock, between Dyson and Diego I'm not even sure any of his pokemon got to even
move.

DEE'S DISNEY RESEARCH:

Lost Isle is based off of a number of Disney attractions, most obviously Adventureland in both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, and all of its various permutations, like the Lost River Delta in Tokyo DisneySea. Anaheim's Adventureland (which is more jungle-based than Orlando's) was the chief inspiration, with some of the cultural aspects grabbed from the Animal Kingdom resort in Orlando.

The Lost Temple was based off of a combination of the Indiana Jones Adventure ride in Disneyland (particularly the atmospheric queue, which is considered probably superior to the actual ride itself) and the Expedition Everest coaster in Animal Kingdom, which similarly tells a story and contains a segment with the coaster going backwards.

Burgh's gallery was originally going to be a tiki-room style thing with animatronic bugs instead of birds, but I decided I wanted to showcase more of how Alder appreciates cultures and the environment, and also incorporate Burgh's canon status as an artist somehow. It's based off of a number of galleries in various Disney parks, most of which are located in Main Street USA or similar areas, not anything adventure themed.
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,069
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Ferris wheel, huh? N kid when? XD

I appreciate that Cindi doesn't immediately assume that Nate is a bad kid, although he clearly thinks so differently than most. Wait... Nate... N... N kid get?

Oof. Unova's surprise rival battles claims another victim... WAIT, IT WAS JUST SOME RANDOM BASCULIN!? D: No one likes you, Basculin...

You didn't need to change Burgh too much to fit in this setting, but I'm still shocked by how organically all of the gym challenges are incorporated!
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
608
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
@Bowser's Family Vacation - You got it right! Nate is actually the N analogue in this story :> And yeah... Basculin is no good to me :T Thanks for the praise, however!



Land 4: Cyber City



I know this may seem an odd addition, as I have been accused of being “beholden to the past.” (I plead the fifth.) But science fiction is a popular genre, and appealing to its fans will be an effective way of broadening our consumer base.



Beyond the genre’s popularity, however, is its importance. Science fiction reminds us to look to tomorrow, serving up both promises and warnings. The cyberpunk flavor in particular tends to appeal to me, given how much of it is based on warnings of corrupt souls in high places and the abuses of power. Though I considered making our science fiction land a shoutout to the classic works of Asimov or stretching back even farther, to Mary Shelley, this specific style will go over well with the sort of park we wish to make, both aesthetically and narratively.



—Alder




---





Pressing on to avoid dwelling too much on the loss of Wynn, Cindi and her friends had a small powwow to see where they should head next. Dyson thought it a good idea to head up to the next land of the five that fanned out from the center, the one in the northwest: the Dreaming Woods. The manmade river that encircled the Lost Isle, making it seem like a true island, was burbling to the north, and beyond it, the Woods stretched, their boughs trembling and waiting.



Cindi, though, wasn’t sure. The Dreaming Woods were typically the quietest part of the park—like Nostalgia Lane, it didn’t have any real ‘rides’, at least not any that would attract thrill-seekers.



“I just want…” She pulled her arms close around herself. The tense meeting with Cheren had still left her a bit shaken. “I’d like to lose myself in a crowd, if that’s okay.”



The others agreed, and when Diego pointed out that a “wicked-cool roller coaster” was located in Neon City, opposite Lost Isle on the other side of the Hub, they agreed on their next destination.



As they traversed the Hub, the great Ferris Wheel spinning and excited screams coming from the old wooden roller coaster, they all shared a quiet assent that this magical spot would be the last land they visited.



As the jungles of the Lost Isle and the old-timey magic of the Hub faded behind them, Cindi couldn’t help but look up at the sky. It was truly dark, now, with a few brave stars peeking out here and there despite the vivacity of the lights below.



The massive crowd of children was thinning. Slightly, of course, but still thinning. Cindi wondered just how many kids were kicked out for fighting, like Wynn; or for medical reasons, like Cameron. In fact, it was feasible that a fair few had simply fallen asleep.



The massive dome that housed Cyber City glittered ahead of them. It was the only section of the park that was wholly indoors. As they approached, one of the massive sets of sliding doors glided open with a smooth sound, and driving, addictive electronica pulsed out.



The interior was cool and humid, made to feel like a city right after rain, as though in a cyberpunk movie. This was one of the most popular areas in the park with youth—the layout, full of neon signs in English and Korean and Japanese, was filled with clubs and arcades and shops that wore their sleekness with an open smile. The dome over the faux skyscrapers (made to look taller than they were through forced perspective) showed a cloudy night sky regardless of real-world weather or time.



Of all the lands in the park, Cyber City had to be the most packed. The apparent loss of kids from outside was not visible in any way here; instead, kids packed themselves into all it had to offer. Cindi wouldn’t have been surprised if several guests had beelined here with the intent to stay all night, contest be damned.



Ahead, trams and miniature monorails connecting the “skyscrapers” ferried guests between different parts of the land. Some were considered attractions in their own right. Behind the ambient electronica lay the hint of static, and interspersed were advertisements for a fake tech corporation, part of the land’s overarching story—that of the Haganshina Corp’s attempts to develop an artificial intelligence. Said story was the impetus behind the Mad Rail, a roller coaster as much a premier attraction for Cyber City as the Forgotten Temple was for the Lost Isle.



The group meandered towards the coaster’s spot in the Haganshina Building near the far part of the park, a towering skyscraper with the company’s logo blazing down from a slightly glitchy billboard.



Tasha was walking along, enjoying the scenery, when she felt a slight tug at her jacket sleeve. The athlete turned to find Cindi shying away. “What’s wrong?” Tasha asked with concern. Cindi just pointed in response. Frowning, Tasha turned to follow her finger. There, bobbing amidst the crowd, were two familiar faces. Cheren’s glasses reflected with the neon lights as he quarreled with Bianca.



Cursing, Tasha turned to her friend. “I don’t think they’ve seen us,” she said. “What do you want to do?”



But Cindi couldn’t make up her mind, and the longer they stood there, the more likely it was that Cheren would see…



Diego was the one who solved the problem, steering them into a nearby arcade. “Here,” he said. “That prick doesn’t strike me as the type who would enjoy any sort of good honest fun.”



Tasha had to wonder at Diego’s perceptiveness. How did he know that Cindi loved arcades? Already she seemed calmer, wandering towards a decade-old Beatmania game with a smile on her face.



Tasha crowded together with the others. “I’m sick of that jerk,” AJ growled. “We should have just confronted him! It’s not fair that Cindi doesn’t get to be happy whenever he’s around!”



Immediately, the first instinct for Tasha was to vociferously agree—go out there, stick her finger in Cheren’s face, and give him the dressing-down he deserved.



But no. She breathed in, and out. “That could get us kicked out like Wynn,” she said, and she noticed AJ’s face tighten at the mention of his girlfriend. Dyson patted his older brother’s arm in sympathy. “Plus Cindi doesn’t like fights. It’d just make her feel worse. Let her cool down for a bit.”



Sighing and nodding, AJ settled back to watch Cindi play Beatmania while Tasha appreciated the atmosphere of the arcade. Even something like this was tied into the overall story of Cyber City—posters and graffiti implied it was a base for Obsidian, a hacker group devoted to bringing down Haganshina. A musical chime announced Cindi’s completion of the game. She did really well—enough to enter her initials in the top 20 scoreboards. She stepped back, pleased with her own performance.



Looking at the top score (held by someone who only signed their name “FLX,” three initials in the classic arcade style) Dyson frowned. “Hold on… aren’t those same initials over there?”



He pointed to a cabinet of Street Fighter II. The winner list came up and the same initials were there at the top. “And over there!” Cindi said, pointing to a racing game nearby. In fact, every game seemed beholden to this “FLX,” regardless of age or genre.



Before they could see further, a commotion drew their attention from the back of the arcade.



In the rear, a group of five or six kids had encircled a sullen-looking, freckled young boy in an anime T-shirt with a big mouth of bubblegum.



“—have to be cheating!” said the leader of the group, a tall, brawny-looking girl with a build that would have flattered Rosie the Riveter. She sneered down at the boy. “To come in here and get all the high scores? I think you’re a cheater!”



“…I really do care about what you think,” the boy said with a lace of sarcasm that seemed slightly affected. His fingers drummed against his thick shorts in a nervous tell. “Gotta beat another game.” He moved to step out of the circle but the big girl stepped in his way.



“Nuh-uh,” she said. “Cheaters don’t get to play games.”



From the corner of her eye, Cindi saw Dyson frown. “Isn’t this the sort of thing attendants are supposed to stop?” he said quietly. “Nobody’s taken a punch yet but I think things are getting a little tense.”



“Blame that.” Cindi pointed to the far side of the arcade, where some little kid lost his lunch directly onto one of the arcade machines. Two attendants clustered around him, one talking into a handset, as the kid cried.



Tasha clucked returning her attention to the circle of bullies. “Think we should—”



But Cindi was, surprisingly, already on it.



Weaving through the circle of kids like water, she stood solidly next to bubblegum-boy. “Hey, who cares what his score is,” she said, her voice soft yet firm. “Go find something else to do.”



Big girl scowled, sizing up Cindi. Despite her demure nature, Cindi knew that her sheer height could be a put-off to some people. “I’m a regular at this arcade and if you think all my scores are gonna get upstaged by some—”



But one of her friends cut her off. “Hey,” he said, pointing at Tasha with her athlete’s build, Diego, who lounged with an unafraid smirk, and AJ, who wore a scowl that could have carved stone. (Dyson was there too, trying his best.)



Sizing up the situation, big girl relented. “Let’s get out of here,” she muttered, and her posse followed after.



Cindi turned to the kid. “You okay?”



“…yeah,” he said, sticking his hands in his pockets. He couldn’t meet her eyes. “…thanks.”



“I’m Cindi,” she ventured. “Judging by the letters… ‘Felix’?”



He blinked with surprise. “Yeah,” he said. “Don’t know why Alder invited me. Unless he heard about my scores. Got all the highest in my town’s arcade.”



“So you thought you’d come here and do the same in Alderland?” Felix nodded in reply. “Well, um… not all of them are available right now,” she said apologetically, pointing at the soiled machine.



His shoulders slumped a bit. “Okay. There’s other machines.” He began to wander away.



“Hey,” she called after him. “Those kids might, um, bug you again.” Felix looked at her. “Want to join our group? We have space for one more.”



He considered it and shrugged. “…sure.”



As Cindi smiled, Tasha clapped his shoulder. “Welcome to the team, Felix!” She leaned in conspiratorially. “You know, when it comes to badges, we already have—”



“Don’t care,” he said. “Wanna play games or ride coasters. We doing the Mad Rail?”



Tasha blinked. “Um—yes—”



“Then let’s go.” He turned and strode towards the arcade’s exit.



Meeting Tasha’s eyes, Diego chuckled at the look on her face. “Y’know what? I like this kid!”



As the rest of them left, Tasha fell in beside Cindi. “I’m surprised you took a stand like that,” she said.



Cindi blinked. “I mean, I couldn’t… I didn’t want him to get picked on.”



Tasha nodded. “Totally. But why do you run away when Cheren does the same thing?”



Faltering, Cindi halted for a second. “I—I—”



Chucking her friend on the shoulder, Tasha smiled. “Just remember, Cindi—you deserve to stand up for yourself too.”



There was no sign of Cheren in the crowd outside, and the group headed into the Haganshina Building. Inside, the ambient atmosphere spelled out the story for them: a predatory and shifty corporation experimented with an illegal AI program. As they entered the queue for the ride, Haganshina “operators”—in future-chic cyberpunk attire—assured guests that any rumors they’d heard about AI research was, of course, false. Taking guests up a lift and showing them eerily sterile-white laboratories, the company operators encouraged the guests to try out Haganshina’s newest monorail system. As the queue ended, ride attendants helped guests into the “experimental” system: a hanging roller coaster. They filed in two-by-two, Cindi taking the front seat this time with the newcomer, Felix, next to her. He was very excited and trying to downplay it. Dyson and his brother occupied the seats behind them, and Tasha and Diego sat next to each other even further back.



The hanging coaster took them out of the loading station at a slow pace, too-smooth corporate music blaring from speakers near their ears. Suddenly, a tangle of static emerged—the AI, Silent Snow, was free, and hijacked the new “monorail.” At his command, the Mad Rail took them through a swooping series of dips, valleys, and swirls. The whole thing took place in a massive dark complex filled with flickering lights and neon signs. Under Silent Snow’s influence, the signs flashed and sparked, and billboards glitched out, their advertisements bleeding into a digital visage.



New voices met their ears as Obsidian hackers fought the AI for control of the vehicle. As Silent Snow sent the riders on a dead-end collison course, the Obsidian hackers got it back on path and contained the rogue program, sending riders spiraling down through a multi-turned corkscrew before bringing them back.



Felix staggered out of the seats, grinning like a madman—Cindi thought the kid looked cute when he wasn’t sulking. Behind her she heard Tasha and Diego chuckling. It looked like everyone had enjoyed themselv—



Dyson staggered out of the seat, leaned against a wall, and gave a low-throated, miserable groan before sinking to his trembling knees.



Everyone else in the group, even Felix, knelt down around him. “You alright?” Cindi asked worriedly. She cursed herself, remembering that he had also had a problem with the Forgotten Temple. Was he no good with coasters?



“I’m fine,” he slurred. “Just a little woozy…” He tried to stand and stumbled back—right into the arms of a concerned-looking attendant.



“Motion sickness,” the attendant confirmed. “Of all the rides in the park, this one probably makes kids sick the most often.” She shook her head. She was a very tall and pretty woman, with her platinum-blonde hair stretching in two thin strands down past her waist. “This kid’s almost the thirtieth this evening. Heck, another kid got sick just the last car.” She motioned at the back where a queasy-looking Latino boy was being helped by attendants. A girl who could not have been more than kindergarten age stood next to him, wide-eyed. The attendant maneuvered Dyson to stand by the queasy kid, where they could both be picked up.



“C’mon,” AJ pleaded, “let my brother stay, he’s alright!”



The lady’s face had a unique blend of sympathy and immovability. “Park rules. Sick kids have to leave.” And she turned to the kindergartener. “And I think you’re too young to stay by yourself…”



The poor thing looked like she was going to cry. “I don’t wanna go…” she sniffed.



“Hey,” said Cindi, “she could come with us… if that’s allowed.”



“Well, technically any child can join any group if there’s space… and you guys just had a spot open up.” She bent over to talk to the girl. “What do you think, sweetie?”



The girl looked at the attendant and then ran over to grab Cindi’s hand. “Can I… go on some rides?” she asked.



The attendant nodded.



While Dyson said his goodbyes to AJ (and poor AJ. First his girlfriend and now his brother) Cindi introduced herself to the little one. “Hello,” she said, smiling. “I’m Cindi!”



The little girl looked her up and down. “Are you a girl?”



Tasha tensed up, perhaps worried about Cindi, but she didn’t mind. “Yep,” Cindi said, nodding. “I sure am.”



The little girl smiled. “You’re pretty! I’m Alette!”



“It’s good to meet you, Alette.”



The attendant motioned Cindi over. “Your friend wants to talk with you.”



Dyson’s face still looked a bit sweaty. “Never been on a roller coaster before today,” he said. “Guess they don’t agree with me.”



“I’m real sorry, Dyson…”



He raised a hand in dismissal. “Nah, I had fun. Make sure my brother doesn’t ruin his evening over me being gone.”



“Deal.”



As they moved Dyson and Alette’s older brother away, the attendant strode up. “Here,” she said, proffering a badge. “This is the badge for this land.”



Cindi took the icon, which looked like a lightning bolt, and pinned it in her case. “Is this for pity, because of my friend?”



“Nah,” the attendant said. “Alder, despite not being a coaster fanatic, was really proud of this ride—specifically the narrative it told and the way the whole of Cyber City was based on that narrative.”



As they left the Haganshina Building, Cindi had to conclude that the lady was right—Alder had designed all of Cyber City to tell a story about corruption. Everything from the billboards to the advertisements to the neon skycrapers to the arcade run by the hacker group helped weave the story throughout. In fact, rather than being an attraction itself, the Mad Coaster could be seen as merely a capstone to a greater piece—Cyber City was, itself, the attraction.



In the street, Felix was looking wistfully at the arcade as Alette, riding on Tasha’s shoulders, pointed out the colored signs with glee. “Do you want to go in and play again?” Cindi offered. “It looks like those bullies are gone.”



He considered it. “…nah,” he eventually said. “Had fun.” He stuck his hands in his pockets again. “Besides. You know what you’re doing.”



She grinned at him. “Thanks.” She looked up at the cloudy, cyberpunk sky projected on the inside of the dome—something which looked more invigorating than muffling. “I try.”

---

Another loss so soon :'(

Dyson's death was stupid and entirely my fault. I had him out front in Relic Castle (for... some reason) and ran into a Sandile. Rather than switch, I tried to run, couldn't escape, and was trapped by Sand Tomb.

Yeah. My bad.

Did you figure out the newcomers? Felix is an Archen, Relaxed nature, "often scatters things," with Defeatist. Alette was my Relic Castle encounter. A Sandile, Brave nature, "somewhat vain," with Intimidate.

The Elesa battle was tricky, but I made it through without any deaths. Tasha took out one of the Emolgas and did the legwork for most of the second (it was Diego who finished off the second) and then Alette managed to beat Zebstrika through judicious use of Dig.

Current team: Cindi (Dewott), Tasha (Herdier), Diego (Simisear), AJ (Sawk), Alette (Sandile), Felix (Archen)

DEE'S DISNEY RESEARCH

While many of the Disney parks contain a Tomorrowland (or its analogue), Cyber City is based on Disneyland Shanghai's version of the classic area, which is more cyberpunk-themed and takes inspiration from TRON rather than classic science fiction. The idea of a roller coaster in the dark is based mainly off of Space Mountain, though there's a lot of the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster from Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World in there as well. The idea of a whole land telling a single story, which caps in the big-ticket attraction, is taken largely from the Asia part of the Animal Kingdom park, in which posters condemning logging companies and illegal tourism can be found promoting stories for a rapids ride and the Expedition Everest coaster all throughout the park.
 
Last edited:

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
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Team Alpha
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Zion National Park
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Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18

Land 5: Storybook Village



Who doesn’t love fairy tales? From Cendrillon to Belle et la Bete, from Aladdin and his genie to the seven dwarves; the frog prince, the snow queen, Vasilissa, Bright Finist, Cupid and Psyche and the miller’s daughter, the girl who was a swan.



These tales of whimsy, laughter, and darkness, which enrapture us as children and enlighten us in our twilight years, possess a certain, intangible something. That something speaks to our inner being and fills us with both dread and hope. These stories resonate with us. They’ve floated within our collective psyche for years, filled our cinemas and pagebooks and theaters. Why? What is it about them that captures us? And why should we include them in our park?



The folklorists have answers of their own, but my opinions are firmly-held and quite sturdy. However, rather than try to explain them through these crude sentences, I instead invite any doubtful to visit the rides we have under construction.



I am sure you shall find them quite enlightening.



—Alder




---



The fifth badge was his. Here, in the Dreaming Wood, Nate had—as usual—scoped out the proper location to obtain it. It was obvious; it had been obvious in every land so far, except for one. Why couldn’t the other children see it? Didn’t they know the kind of person Alder was? The kind of places he would pick? Couldn’t they just see?



Staring at the badge—a long, thin dagger of ice—he realized that the ride attendant was saying something. This happened often. Lost in his own thoughts—held captive, as it were, by superior company—Nate often failed to register the words of others.



It was, he suspected, no great loss.



Pinning the badge in place, he turned heel and walked away while the attendant was still mid-sentence. There would be time to apologize to the man after the park was in his hands. For now, he had to focus. Three lands remained: the Hub, Skytown, and Nostalgia Lane. His mouth tightened at the memory of the latter area. Nothing had jumped out at him there. Elsewhere, the right answer had always seemed so obvious; but not there.



He wanted to find Alder and chastise him. So much of the park was personal. Perhaps it assuaged the old man’s spirit, but it was not good business. The people around him flocked to the showiest, flashiest, loudest distractions he could imagine. Nate wasn’t one for such overstimulating spaces—he had, as a child, had breakdowns while in large crowds; the sounds and such were too much. Even now, he had to fight to keep from panicking when people thronged around him. But people liked what they liked, so why not give it to them? Loud shows, fast coasters, extreme rides. Alderland was iconic but it was bleeding customers to newer, faster, sleeker parks that didn’t waste space on penny arcades or art studios.



Even this whole area, the Dreaming Wood, was nothing to get terribly excited about. A woodland based on the four seasons was visually interesting, but the average parkgoer would rather hop on a roller coaster with a loop.



Turning towards the Hub, snaking past the loud and obnoxious children in his way, Nate resolved himself: when he took Alderland, there would be changes.



---



A little girl in front of them in the line sagged down in sleep. Cindi couldn’t help but watch with sadness as an attendant gently shook the child awake and led the groggy little thing away.



It had been happening more and more, lately. The night had drawn on, and the sky was deep and lightless, outshone by the luminescence of the park itself. Though Alderland staff still launched fireworks over the Hub, they were smaller than before, their sound mostly muffled by the setup of the various lands. Music drifting through the speakers was growing steadily more still. There were still plenty of kids in the park—throngs, in fact—but the lateness was beginning to work against them.



Little Alette had already begun to yawn, and the group had convened, not wanting to lose her as soon as she’d joined. Finally, Diego had wandered over and returned with a small bottle of caffeinated soda.



“Are you sure?” Tasha had said, eying it suspiciously.



“We’ll be fine,” he said, giving her a few sips.



Now Alette was perched atop his shoulders, bouncing up and down and talking at a speed that could put bullet trains to shame. “What’s-that-over-there-oh-do-you-see-that-wow-look-at-the-lights-I-wanna-go-can-we-go-wait-look-at-that-silly-man-in-the-costume-he’s-funny-I-want-a-costume-can-we-get-a-costume-can-I-be-a-princess-I-really-want-to-be-a-princess—”



Diego’s smile was pained, and the other four milled with him, each exuding “I told you so” with varying levels of smugness.



When Alette was particularly energetic, she bounced even harder, making the young man wince. “Hey,” he said, eying AJ, “a… little help here, maybe?”



“Nah,” AJ said with a small smile. “You made this bed.”



Tasha tittered behind her hand, and Cindi smiled before gazing at the rest of the land. Storybook Village was laid out like the illustrations in books of fairy tales. The houses were thatched and had colorful exteriors and the timer-framed construction from places like Bavaria, and inside the houses you could meet princesses and heroes and go on mock adventures of your own. The village was situated in the shadow of an alpine mountain—it would not have looked out-of-place in the actual Alps—around which snaked a roller coaster themed after an old minecart. Though they had participated in many of the smaller activities, it was this ride which they were now in line for.



Further ahead of them in the line, there was a loud and sudden shout, the sort that usually prefaced a fight. Cindi tensed, as did the others—the whole line grew electric with anticipation of a confrontation—but then the offenders tumbled out of the line, laughing. They were two brothers, fraternal twins, in fact, and one had the other in a loose headlock while both chuckled. “You’re the worst!” said the captive brother, but with no malice behind it. As the line deflated, attendants converged on them. There was a moment where it seemed the brothers would be ejected from the park, but the twins were lucky enough to get off with a warning.



“No roughhousin’ means no roughhousin’,” cautioned a squat, black-haired attendant with a heavy Texan accent. “Do it again an’ yer out.” Under his especially stern gaze, the rest of the line quelled their activity, and as it slowly wound its way towards the mountain, things grew tranquil—for a moment, at least.



Ahead of her, first in their group, Felix still looked taut and worried. Cindi laid a comforting hand on his shoulder and he tensed for a brief moment before visibly forcing himself to relax.



“You alright?” she asked.



“…’m fine.”



She remembered the scenario in which she’d found him, surrounded by a pack in the arcade. “Bullies?” she asked.



He nodded. The twins’ sudden shouting must have worried him.



“Yeah,” she sighed, perhaps a bit more heavily than she’d meant. “I know the feeling.” The glossy hair and shiny glasses of a onetime friend came to mind. Even thinking about him made her uncomfortable…



But Felix was the one to worry about now. “Hey,” she said, “you’re going to be okay.” She held out her hand and, after hesitating for a minute, he took it, squeezing tightly. “You have to stand up for yourself, yeah? It won’t stop every bully, but it’s a necessary first step.”



He nodded glumly. She knew how empty the advice seemed. Those kids in the arcade had outnumbered him. What would self-confidence have done about that? “It’s okay,” she said, squeezing his hand. He squeezed it back in return. “We’ll be here for you.”



“Thanks,” he said. Then, as if realizing he was holding an older girl’s hand, he hurriedly broke the grasp and stuck his hands in his pockets—but the gratitude exuded from him all the same.



As the line pressed into the mountain—whose interior was speckled with gems and fine, flowing waterfalls—it wound like a whorl into a loading station for the mine cart on a raised platform in the center.



“That was some pretty good advice you gave Felix,” Tasha said, her presence firm and reassuring next to Cindi’s. “But when are you gonna take it?”



Rather than answer, she shifted from one foot to the other.



“You’re always so fast to stand up for other people,” Tasha pressed. “But when Cheren comes along…” She shook her head, trailing off.



“I’ve got you to help,” Cindi replied in a quieter voice.



“You do,” Tasha reassured. She looked up at one of the waterfalls spilling out of the carefully sculpted mountainside. Between the water and gems were murals telling this attraction’s story—there was a dragon in the mountain, which had stolen the land’s treasures, and the land was waiting for a brave knight to get them back.



“I just wish…” Tasha said, and then stopped. Silence lingered among them for a few minutes as they gradually stepped their way towards the minecarts, the air filled with the murmuring kids around them, attendants directing people on and off the carts, and Alette happily giggling as she bounced up and down on Diego’s shoulders. “I just wish you would help yourself, too.”



As Tasha drifted back in thought, AJ and Felix engaged in a friendly but brisk discussion on why Alder went for the fairy tale theme for the fifth land.



“He liked stories, so he built things around them.” AJ shrugged. “Seems simple to me. Plus he loves the past.”



“Nah.” Felix scoped out the interior. “…Cyber City. Not past.” He scratched the side of his nose. “There’s more.”



“Probably,” AJ conceded, “but heck if I’ll ever know.”



“Kid stuff. Lighthearted.”



Now it was AJ’s turn to rebut. “Nah, man. You ever read Grimm? Like, the originals? That gets dark. Creepier than you’d think.”



“I got it!” Diego interjected. “Cindi’s the main reason we’ve got so many badges. She knows how Alder’s brain works. What do you think?”



She knuckled her chin, thinking. What did she think? Reflecting back on the Greeting Garden and its myriad figures from world mythology, she knew that Alder—like her—appreciated world mythology. Was it simply paying homage to his favorite tales?



No, it couldn’t be.



Realization tugged at her but didn’t strike, like a flower struggling to emerge from the soil. “I think I might know why he likes fairy tales,” she said slowly. “They’re dark, but—”



But before she could articulate it, an attendant—that same grumpy Texan as before—waved her group towards an empty set of carts. It was time.



“I’ll tell you after,” she said.



They sat down in the carts, Alette sandwiched between Diego and Tasha, kicking her feet happily. The carts slowly ratcheted up into a tunnel and away from the central chamber. The tunnel was dark, lit only by the ethereal blue-green glow of crystals on the wall. The eerie beauty was dashed when a rumbling, guttural voice ground at them over speakers carefully hidden in stony recesses. The dragon of the mountain was angry at them for trespassing. “This is mine,” he snarled, “and nothing you can do can make me give it back.”



As his rumble filled the tunnel, giving Cindi goosebumps—in the seat ahead of her, little Alette gasped—the cart finally crested over a hill.



The interior chamber showed a spread of treasure so wide that it looked like Smaug’s personal wish list. In the far reaches, a smoky green audio-animatronic tail snaked away.



And then the cart dipped.



The hill was steep and slightly curved, taking them down its track and past the stolen treasure. A jet of flame burst at them from a nearby crevasse, coupled with the roar of a great dragon. The room shook, treasure rattling, and the cart followed the dragon deep, deep into the earth.



The caverns were not glorious like the previous one, but were deep and dark and dirty. Here the cart swerved to avoid a boulder, skirted to dodge a mudflow, and seemed to barely outspeed a cascade of gravel and pebbles. Amidst it all, the reptilian flashes of the dragon were seen, and his roars thundered through the earth. They never saw the dragon in full, only bits and pieces—which made it all the more effective. His words accused them, snarled at them, insulted them. But the further they pressed the more his voice panicked. Finally it was clear—the dragon was on the run from them.



They came down a tunnel and saw the animatronic clearly for the first time. The great dragon reared—but when they raced towards him, he turned and fled deeper into the mountain, blustering all the while. At the ride’s climax, the cart chased him into the deepest cavern, where a final fireburst brought a rocklide down onto him. As the animatronic dragon thrashed and protested, the cart rose up—past all the treasures that were now theirs, and into a tiny bit of outside, where distant villagers cheered in thanks.



As they stepped off the cart, Cindi was surer than ever. She knew why Alder had chosen the Storybook Village.



Requesting the badge from the attendant, she got it—it looked like a slip of earth, cracked in two. Meant to represent the rockslide that the dragon had brought on himself, perhaps, or even just the subterranean adventure in general. Of course, they’d already done everything else in the land and received no badge, so getting one here was a given—but even if they’d come here first, this would have been a no-brainer for Cindi.



Following the ramp outside, she was so busy admiring her badges that she bumped right into someone and tripped, the other person also tumbling down. “So sorry,” she said, grabbing for her fallen badge case. “I didn’t mean t—”



The apology died in her throat as ice gripped her. Cheren glared right back at her.



Before anyone could say anything, Bianca had taken him up and Tasha had done the same for Cindi and both were very quickly talking, each eager to pre-empt the possibility of another incident like the one in the Lost Isle, when Cheren’s voice cut across them.



“What’s that?” he said, pointing at Cindi’s badge case. She hurriedly scooped it up, cradling it against herself. “Five badges?” he said, his voice a sharp mix of disbelief and sheer outrage. “That’s not—no!”



“Wow, Cindi!” Bianca said, a little too loud and too cheery. “We’ve—we’ve only got two ourselves!”



“Don’t tell them that!” Cheren sputtered. “We’re not behind, we’re going to—” He was cut off by snickers from the amused-looking faces on AJ, Felix, Diego. If there was one thing Cheren had always hated, it was being laughed at. He exhaled through his nostrils once, twice. Cindi wanted to shrink away. She could see the venom in the way he held himself and in the flintiness of his eyes. This was Cheren at his worst—not yelling but even, every word a dart calibrated to sting where it hurt the most.



“I bet you think you think you’re hot stuff, don’t you, Sid,” he said, stressing the name slowly, making it clear it was deliberate. She felt it weighing on her.



Bianca said “Cheren, please,” at the same time when Tasha’s fists balled. “Why do you call her that?” she demanded.



“Why shouldn’t I call him the name he was given when he was born?” Cheren said, his voice level. As the crowd of kids milled around them, oblivious and taking in the sights and wonders of the world’s happiest park, within their little gang of eight, you could have heard a pin drop.



Bianca, pale, stood aghast, her eyes wide. Any attempt to stop him had died on her lips. As Cindi herself shrank behind her friends, still clutching the badge case to her chest, the others in her group all tensed up, angry. Even Alette, the only one who didn’t truly understand what was being discussed, was looking back and forth between Cheren and Tasha, AJ and Bianca, with large eyes and a quiet expression.



“Take that back,” Tasha growled.



“No. You know, it’s cute, Sid, that you think that putting on makeup or dresses means that people who’ve known you your whole life can just forget that you’re actually a boy.”



Every word, every phrase from him was, as always, designed to hurt as best he knew. He’d been her friend once—for a while, actually—and he knew how to press her buttons.



No.



Constantly reminding her of what she’d been, how unhappy, and—



No. No.



This was how it always was. Cheren or another bully or the world always called her barbed words and she would retreat, and hide, and let Tasha or her mother fight her battles but it wasn’t right, you stood up for yourself, you didn’t run, you didn’t let the dragon chase you, you chased the dragon, and for the first time there was a storm inside Cindi that was tossing and turning and that wanted to roar out I am here and dammit, she wasn’t taking this anymore!



AJ was within breathing range of Cheren, now. “Apologize.” His voice was even quieter than Cheren’s, even softer, and he was a big boy, dangerous, and the air crackled with potential.



“Go ahead,” Cheren said, a desperate glint in his eyes, and at that point, Cindi knew—because while Cheren had been her friend and knew her, she knew him too, and she knew how he handled humiliation: he didn’t. The shame of only getting two badges, the realization that if he had two and they had five. He would never win now, the lead was too insurmountable, and if he was going down, he was going to go down making his adversary hurt as much as possible. Getting another friend of hers, like AJ, kicked out too would be a treat on top. “Take a swing,” Cheren said, “go on, and then maybe you can get kicked out like your dumb girlfriend did, standing up for a boy she didn’t even know.”



AJ’s face went pale and his fists tightened and he took a microscopic step towards him—



“Don’t, AJ,” Cindi said, her voice quiet and indomitable. Everyone turned to look at her. She stepped forward. “He’s not worth it.”



Scoffing, Cheren adjusted his glasses. “What’s that, Sid? I don’t—”



“Enough,” she said, her voice firm and cutting across him. He blinked, his words dying. “I thought you might just need… time, but who am I kidding. You’re just insecure and you take it out on anyone you don’t like.”



“Big talk,” he said, his voice betraying his uncertainty. “From everyone’s favorite coward.”



Shaking her head, Cindi sighed. Her hands were shaking but she didn’t let it stop her. “I’m not your punching bag anymore. I’m not going to—to cringe or hide everytime you say the wrong name or pronoun. You don’t get that power anymore, Cheren. So… enjoy your two badges, and your bad attitude, and your glorified babysitter,” she said, nodding at Bianca. “Because I’m just… done with you.” And despite how fast her heart was racing, and how much she still wanted to turn and hide away, she stepped towards him and his burning glare, and her heart told her to be afraid, but then she stepped right past him, and kept walking, and AJ followed her, and then Tasha, and then Diego with Alette, and Felix at the end, all of them leaving Cheren behind, and it was okay. It was all going to be okay.



“You can’t just—Sid!” he called after, rattled.



Sighing, Cindi turned to look at him. “Cheren, I’m just a normal girl who likes folktales and gets a B average and sits quietly in the bleachers at football games,” she said. “What are you so afraid of?”



And not caring about his answer, she turned and left before he had a chance to speak.



Later, sitting at little ice cream shop, all of them pecking away at apple swirl, everyone had congratulated Cindi, who smiled and blushed and tucked her hair behind her ear. Finally, Diego broke the silence. “Okay, okay, so that’s what’s going on,” he said. “But here’s the important thing—you never answered my question! Why’s Alder like fairy tales so much?”



Taking a spoon of dessert, Cindi let its sweetness waft over her tongue. The mountain, with its belly full of jewels, earth, and monsters, still loomed above them. She studied it. “There’s this old quote about fairy tales from an author I can’t remember,” she said finally. “Paraphrased, it goes like this. Fairy tales do not teach the child that the dragon exists. If the child does not already know the dragon exists, they will soon enough.” She paused, scanning the crowd. There was no sign of Cheren—and if there had been, she would not, she realized, have particularly cared. “They teach the child,” she said, “that the dragon can be overcome.

---

This was a hard chapter to write (blame Cheren's toxicity for that) but oh-so-rewarding in the end. And look! No deaths for once!

Clay's fight was easy. Cindi OHKO'd Krokorok after it used Swagger on it, AJ beat Excadrill in a damage race with the help of Shell Bell, and then Cindi came back to 2HKO Palpitoad with Grass Knot.

Current Team: Cindi (Dewott), Tasha (Herdier), Diego (Simisear), AJ (Sawk), Alette (Krokorok), Felix (Archen)

DEE'S DISNEY RESEARCH
Storybook Village is of course based on the various Fantasylands, with the idea of it looking like the facade of a Bavarian village specifically being taken from the original Disneyland in Anaheim. The idea of a fantasy-themed rollercoaster in a mountain was taken from the Matterhorn Bobsleds as well as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and aspects of the unused, fantasy-themed "Beastly Kingdom" from the Animal Kingdom park made their way in there as well.

Also a thanks to @Bug and @Wwarborday for beta reading this back in the winter of last year c:
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,069
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Cindi wondered just how many kids were kicked out for fighting, like Wynn; or for medical reasons, like Cameron. In fact, it was feasible that a fair few had simply fallen asleep.
Or how many left to go home to sleep? I'd hope that those kids make up the majority of the "leaving" population. ><'

I love Diego's response to Cheren: "Let's have fun without him."

Welcome to the team, Felix! If we need to beat an arcade game to win a badge, we know how to call. :)

Oof. The Mad Rail weeds out the weak, huh? Poor AJ. I hope he gets to go home and tell his family about how he saw it all! Alette, too, is adorable. I hope her family is OK with her joining another group of kids. XD
Oh, hi, Nate! I can feel you about things being too loud. Oof. I have a feeling his difficulty with listening is going to do him in, though. Attendants have important safety information!

DON'T GIVE SODA TO KINDERGARTNERS, DIEGO!

It's easier to stand up for other people. It can be hard to stand up for yourself. It's very hard to confront someone you once considered a friend. This is a non-violent story, but that doesn't mean there aren't harsh realities here. :)

Good-bye, Cheren! Cindi and her friends are going to have fun without you! Have fun with your raging insecurity!
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
608
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #20
@Bowser's Family Vacation - Yeah, Felix is gonna be a fun new member of the team! And yeah, the Mad Rail turns out to be a bit more intense than bargained for...

As for Cheren, well, the nicest thing I can say is bye bitch~ and as for Diego, well, he's gotta keep Alette awake somehow!




Land 6: Skytown



Adventure.



Every human spirit yearns for it, though we find it in different ways and in different places. Some prefer to scale far-off mountains or cross out uncharted places on the map. For others, the real adventure might be concluding a risky business venture, diving between the pages of a book, or even engaging in the rewarding challenge that is parenthood.



For me, I was always partial to the old masters of science fiction—Verne, Wells, and their ilk. It is a bit sad that we traded a world of steam and brass for one of concrete and petrol.



In Skytown, we imagine a polished world they might have wondered at—a gleaming world of hissing team, of blimps and gaslamps, built high atop a mountainside.



And as our guests soar into our wonderland, I hope they might, too soar away from the troubles that drove them to our park.



—Alder



---



Life was good.



Night was fully in swing, now, the sky a deep blue-black. The lights of Alderland swallowed up any chance of seeing the stars, leaving a darkened canopy overhead. Cindi didn’t mind at all—she had always found the nighttime lovely, in a secluded kind of way, and spending a glorious evening with friends sounded wonderful, especially after finally overcoming her dragon.



Skytown, the northernmost of the eight regions of Alderland, looked fantastic even in the dark. There were tubes piping steam everywhere, enormous clockwork buildings with cogs that turned and clanged, and low, faintly burning gaslamps that filled the whole place with a marvelous, ethereal glow. Errant music, boasting the same tinny quality of sound produced in old-timey eras, floated out of buildings. All about there were new machines, new gadgets and gizmos; a facsimile of a zeppelin cruised overhead, and elsewhere a clock, lit from within, chimed merrily. In a window shop, an automaton dressed in a turban and robes perched in front of a chessboard, daring passers-by to try themselves against it.



The entire cobble-streeted city was situated in a mountain that overlooked the rest of the park. Of course, Cindi knew, deep down, that the “mountain” was only a few dozen feet high at best; everything else was done through the magic of forced perspective. It didn’t matter. From her vantage point, she saw it all stretched before her—the old-fashioned hominess of Nostalgia Lane, the greenery of the Lost Isle, the distant vibrancy of Cyber City. And, in the center of it all, the Hub waited, lit with promise, the great Ferris Wheel turning and turning.



The sounds of the park were winding down—more and more children were beginning to slip out of the running. Whether they were tired or ill or simply had enough wonder to sate them, there were fewer and fewer of them in the park now, and the noise of little feet and young voices was slowly ebbing away, like starlight before dawn.



But most of the kids who were left had gathered, by now, in Skytown. It was for the same reason that Cindi and her group had come there, in fact. Not that long ago, a young woman’s voice had buzzed over the park intercom:



“Heya, twerps. This is attendant Skyla over in Skytown. Listen, I know you’re having fun, but like nobody has gotten my badge yet and that’s boring. So, uh, at the risk of termination, I’mma give you a hint. See that big zeppelin lookin’ thing hovering over Skytown? Yeah, there’s a badge in that. Come get it.”



About twenty seconds later, there had followed another announcement: “Oh, and there better not be any running or stampeding there. You hear me? Anyone who stampedes there gets kicked out. I mean it.”



On hearing it, many of the kids had flocked there and, shrugging, Cindi and co had followed. They took their time leisurely, but by the time they arrived about ten minutes later, Skyla’s voice floated over them one final, frazzled time:



“Hey, uh, any employees who could lend a hand in Skytown, we’re, uh, packed full and could use some help! L-love you guys! Skyla OUT.”



In an attempt to winnow the lines down, only three people from groups bigger than that were allowed into the Grand Zeppelin itself. AJ and Diego had volunteered to take Alette off and entertain her elsewhere in Skytown, the young girl pointing and ahhhing at steam-powered bots and elaborate vehicles, while Tasha and Felix accompanied Cindi in line.



And now, finally, they were aboard.



The Grand Zeppelin circled a preset path above Skytown, It was not a true zeppelin; it was on a disguised metal track, and the “balloon” was available to explore, containing a funhouse and maze. The gondola beneath was a place of rest and relaxation, where guests could snack on frozen treats and gaze at the park below through the glass bottom.



There was a certain sense of light-heartedness to it all, a playful wink-wink nudge-nudge that promised enjoyability and a fun voyage.



“Wow,” Tasha said, staring down through the glass floor at the park displayed below. “Look at all that!”



“Hmmm,” Felix said with a careful nod. “High up. …think I’ll go sit down.” He wandered unsteadily over to the edge of the gondola, where the floor was opaque, and carefully set himself in a plush-looking chair.



Tasha and Cindi exchanged a knowing grin, but before they could go any further, Skyla’s voice burst over the cabin:



“Yo, tykes, this is your captain speaking. Send one person from your group up to the funhouse. One person only. They’ll be trying for the badge. Everyone else, just chill down here.”



“‘Trying for’?” said Tasha. “Don’t like the sound of that.”



“It’ll be fine,” Cindi replied. “I’m the leader, so I’ll go. Make sure Felix doesn’t get sick, yeah? Would hate to lose another party member.”



“Can do, boss.” As Tasha wandered over to sit near Felix, Cindi turned and strode towards the stairs to the second level. There was a group of slightly more than a dozen kids there, all crowded around a red-headed young woman wearing a costume that could only be described as the mixture between a pilot’s outfit and a bikini.



“Wassup, I’m Skyla,” she drawled. “So here’s how it works. There’s five funhouse paths, and—” She counted. “Sixteen of you. So I’mma assign three of you to a path, ‘cept the first one, which gets four kids. First person to make it to the end of the path gets the badge, aight?”



One of the children piped up. “What about the others?”



Skyla shrugged. “You can get back in line and try again, I guess.”



“Excuse me,” Cindi said, raising her voice, “Alder’s instructions said all we had to do was find his favorite attraction in each park.”



“Mhmm,” the attendant replied impishly, “but they also give us employees leeway in how to run ‘em. I’m running this show, I’m an employee, so here’s my leeway: it’s a race. Try to win.”



She separated the kids into their groups, each of them waited by their entryway. Cindi’s was #4; she tried not to fidget.



“Oh. You again.”



The voice was mildly familiar. She turned; there was the tall, solitary young fellow with the green hair and the baseball cap.



“Nate,” she said, recognizing him from earlier. He nodded absently.



“Looks like we’ll be competing against each other,” he noted. “Though that’s true regardless of whatever silly game this woman has us play—something most of the kids here forget this entire thing is a competition.”



“I think they just want to have fun,” Cindi replied.



At that he blinked and glanced her way. “I am having fun,” he said, pulling out his badge case and looking at it. He didn’t go out of his way to show her, but she saw six pins stuck in there.



Clearing her throat, Cindi cocked her head at him. “So why are you so excited to win it, anyway?”



He replied without looking at her. “It’s Alderland. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to improve Alderland?”



“Improve? You think it needs improving?”



Nate pocketed his badge case in one swift motion. “Very much so. And what about you? What’s your stake in all this?”



The question was one that she hadn’t really considered up until now, but the answer came to her with swiftness and surety: “I think… I want to understand more. About Alder, and the way he saw the world. About other people, and what makes them happy.”



Eying her, Nate asked, “Understanding, hm. And that’s an end unto itself, is it?”



“I think it is.”



Before long, Skyla counted down the beginning to the race. As the numbers got smaller and smaller, Cindi offered her hand to Nate. “May the best person win.”



He shook it perfunctorily. “I will,” he said without malice.



The door to the funhouse opened, and they surged in.



Right away, there was a splitting of paths—one left, another right, a third one that climbed a set of stairs, and a fourth that wove around a corner into darkness.



Surprised by the choices, Cindi froze, as did the other person competing with them, a short boy who looked to be in the second grade. Nate never stopped, moving with long strides down the rightmost path.



Realizing he had already seized the lead, Cindi shook herself out of her reverie and pushed up the set of stairs.



It took her to a high obstacle course of catwalks, poles, and rigging; a mesh net was caught underneath in case anyone lost their feet. Swallowing, she moved forward and climbed over the rigging. There was no real peril—the mesh would catch her if she fell—but the idea of clambering through the ‘air’ still sent her adrenaline spiking.



When she was almost over the rigging, her heart racing, Skyla’s voice burst over the speakers:



“Cats and dolls, this is your captain speaking. Prepare for awesomeness.”



Cindi barely had enough time to react before the obstacle course tilted slightly to the left, creating a slant that simulated a plane or flying machine checking its course. As she struggled over rigging and down a rope ladder, the next surprise happened.



Panels on the wall peeled back, revealing the night sky.



Of course, it was simulation. Alderland was nowhere to be seen—instead a flotilla of dragonfly-winged craft buzzed by, soaring up into a sky spangled with vivid nebulae. Hisses of steam and the whirr of propellers filled the chamber, and a soft wind pushed through, as if the sky was calling.



In one single moment, Cindi knew why this was Alder’s favorite attraction in this area of the park: wonder.



Filled with renewed vigor, she hurled herself at the obstacles. A maze with shifting walls would have been difficult at the best of times, let alone when the floor was tilted, but Cindi was able to discern one singular way through—the correct path was the one where the floor was slightly worn down. Some people might try one dead end, some might try another, but all of the hundreds of thousands of guests over the years had, eventually, beaten a path to the exit.



After that was a single door, locked behind 9-tile sliding puzzle. Elsewhere she heard the other kids giggling and laughing. Where was the people she was to compete against? Where was Nate? Cindi rushed through the puzzle, her mind racing with the excitement, and solved it. Beyond…



Her breath caught. The floors, the walls, the ceiling, all were glass.



The glorious night stretched around her, stars swirling in the air and machines roiling over each other. She felt she had done something truly amazing. She had conquered this set of challenges, and this was her reward. She had—



A door next to her swung open, and Nate flew past her in a full-stride sprint.



Cindi blinked, and then pursued.



Nate had the advantage of a head start, and his stride was as big as hers, but through sheer willpower, she started to catch up. She was five paces away, now. Four. Three…



The room was not as flat as it seemed. An obstacle—low and cushioned—loomed at them. It had been there all along, disguised via an optical illusion. Nate vaulted over it without missing a stride, but Cindi stumbled, losing a few seconds to it.



It cost her.



Nate reached the other side of the chamber, and Cindi was there right after. She panted, her chest heaving, and Nate similarly fought his breath under control.



He looked at her. “If you hadn’t stopped to look around at the sights, you would have won.”



Though he left the question why unspoken, Cindi answered it anyway. “If I hadn’t looked, I wouldn’t have experienced the full attraction.”



Nate considered it, and looked confused. “But the point was to win.



---



After they had departed, badgeless, and Nate was gone, Tasha was furious. “All that and no badge!”



The rest of the gang were sympathetic, even Alette chiming in a fierce “hear hear!” but Cindi quieted them down.



“It’s alright,” she said, idly tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “It was silly to think I could have coasted through everything. What with finally standing up to Cheren, it’s like… I forgot the real reason I’m here.”



“Yeah,” Tasha interjected, “but we spent all that time and didn’t gain anything from it.”



Cindi touched her chin. “…no, I think I did gain something from that. Wonder. Enjoyment.” She grinned. “The sort of things Alder wanted us to get.”



“That’s all fine and good, but we’re still badgeless. So what do we do?” Diego scowled, putting his hands in his pockets.



Cindi smiled. “Isn’t it simple?” She turned to see the great airship circling overhead. “We dust ourselves off and try again.”

---

Don't worry, I beat Skyla in-game pretty easily. Alette OHKO'd Swoobat after the latter used Amnesia of all things, Tasha OHKO'd Swanna with Thunder Fang, and Felix managed to land a Rock Tomb on Unfezant and outspeed the next turn to KO with Acrobatics. Cindi's "loss" here is just for narrative purposes.

Current team: Cindi (Dewott), Tasha (Stoutland), Diego (Simisear), AJ (Sawk), Alette (Krokorok), Felix (Archen)

DEE'S DISNEY RESEARCH:
Some Disney parks have an atypical, Steampunk take on Tomorrowland. This is true of Disneyland Paris's Discoveryland (which is explicitly based on Verne's novels) and Port Discovery in Tokyo DisneySea, a similarly Victorian adventure set in a mountain called "Mt. Prometheus".

The idea of a big attraction housing an obstacle course is taken from the Pirate's Lair (formerly Tom Sawyer's Island) in Disneyland, which is a large island filled with secret passages, puzzles, underground mazes, and obstacle courses. Despite it not being any place with a traditional "ride" per se, it was always a favorite when we visited Disneyland.
 

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