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Old 07-04-2012, 07:26 PM   #201
Talon87
Shenmue III, baby!
 
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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Originally Posted by YUKI.N View Post
Sky Gate

Talon87 – You wake. Sunlight screams at your eyes, and you shut them tight before opening once again. As sleep departs from your body, your sight soon becomes clear, yet your thoughts are more confused than ever. Where are you? What were you doing? Slowly, you spread your muscles and reverse direction, raising yourself from the resting. The clouds sigh as their stress lightens, inflating back to their original shape.

Clouds?

You startle. What on earth? No, not on earth. That much is clear, as you try to peer over the makeshift pillow where your head lay but greet only a world of white. If you didn’t know any better, you would guess from the slight damp and chill in the air that you were stuck in winter. Like an Ursaring awakened from hibernation before spring. But snow, however soft, doesn’t have this cotton consistency. It tickles to your touch, and most peculiarly removes any trace of imprint as soon as your hand releases its weight.

The only answer then, unless this is all a dream, is that you are up. But how did you get here, bar passing directly through the Pearly Gates? (A possibility you do not want to even consider, for a number of reasons.) Your mind whirls and rewinds, trying to navigate the fog of memories that clouds your own brain. You recall sending out SugarPuff to subdue Mankey, and then there was something about a serpent…

You stop. SugarPuff. Mankey. Where are they? You search frantically. There are no signs of your companions anywhere, let alone the snake you were fighting. It didn’t steal your friends away with the promise of fruit, did it? No, no, that’s silly talk. Keep a level head, Cyrus. Your hands fly to your belt, comforting slightly at the familiar feel of six metal spheres under your fingers. Shaking with trepidation, you obtain the nearest one and call upon its contents, praying for an answer. Even if this were paradise, there’s no way you would wish to spend eternity alone.

The ball brightens, and from it births the image of your Chikorita, safe and sound. She immediately leaps upon you without restraint, causing the two of you to fall together onto the softness. You laugh in both joy and relief as she tickles your chin with her leaf, adoring. For some reason, you both feel as if forever has passed since you last saw each other. It’s a warming emotion… One of homecoming, reunion. Togetherness.

Prying Celes off your lap at last, you stand up and check each of your teammates in turn, smiling to see they’re all here and healthy before returning them promptly back to their homes. When you reach Celes, she shies from your summon and shakes her head slightly. You sigh, stooping down to stroke her leaf and explain to her the situation at hand. Upon realizing her footing is not as firm as she had thought, she sadness substitutes alarm as she swiftly shifts her load back and forth, striving to maintain lightness. Upon your repeated offer of her Pokéball, she wilts but reluctantly withdraws to safety.

With the headcount handled, you turn your attention to the matter of still not knowing exactly where the hell (at the very least you can hopefully rule that possibility out) you are. As your scan the surroundings, your eyes widen to recognize a building in the distance, bold against the blank background. Not only that, but a proud “P” presents itself above the doorway, as holy and iconic as a pair of golden arches would appear right now. You massage your eyes in disbelief, unsure whether it might merely be a mirage. When the image persists, your heart leaps with hope. Not only does the prospect of other people appeal to you, but surely this qualifies as hard proof that you’ve not died and gone to heaven. Why would paradise need a Pokémon Center, after all?

You cross the clouds as quick as you dare, fearing heavy steps will break through such thin support, and enter the double doors into a hospitable realm that thankfully takes you back. The sterile smell, the sight of trainers resting with their Pokémon, and the same old tune you’ve heard time and time again playing over the lobby loudspeakers… They all welcome you gladly.

For some reason, the interior also seems to be strangely decorated with a number of colored balloons. You briefly wonder if it might be someone’s Birthday, but push aside the thought in favor of the more pressing priority. Ignoring the rest of the millers for the moment, you march straight on over to address the smiling woman behind the counter. She bows to your approach, the typical twin extensions at the back of her head bobbing faintly.

“Hello, and welcome to the Pokémon Center. How may I help you?”

You quickly describe your circumstances, and she nods, never losing her joyful look.

“Why, you’re at the Cloud Garden, dear.” At your questioning stare, she clarifies. “My, don’t tell me you’ve never heard of it? It’s only the most wondrous place in the world! In fact, there’s a festival that’s just about to start right outside to celebrate its first discovery. Why don’t you go take a look?”

She then leans in close, and her sweet smile stretches ever so slightly. It’s a bit unnerving how it never sways.

“Although, if you want my advice, the place you should really check out first is Memory Lane. It’s just past the entrance to Rainbow Road, you can’t miss it. Believe me, it’s beautiful this time of year. Why, I remember there was a boy about your age who also came into the Center a while ago with his Houndoom, and he took my suggestion to go there… He never did come back though… I wonder what became of him…”

Her voice drops to a murmur, as if conversing more to herself. All the meanwhile, her brilliant blue eyes bore into your own, and you find yourself barely able to keep contact. Like a trance, you succumb to suggestion.

Suddenly, a hand clasps your shoulder, silencing the spell. You startle to see a man of height and uniform standing next to you, smiling obliquely.

“Thank you, Joy. We’ll be leaving now.”

The nurse beams and bows politely once more. “Thank you for coming. We hope to see you again!”

Before you have a chance to form a response, the man steers you towards the door with a firm grip. Rather than forcing you through them however, he relaxes upon seeing the nurse already occupied with another patient and releases you near the waiting benches. His plastic grin eases as you await an explanation.

“Sorry about that, kid. You shouldn’t listen to Jo- I mean, Nurse Joy too closely. She’s been a bit batty ever since a fire burned down her old Center several years ago, killing all the Pokémon inside. Now she always sends trainers on gravewalks to remind them of the pain she suffered.”

He leans in close, and the ventilation system must have malfunctioned for a moment because the air in the lobby seems to drop a degree.

“Rumor has it that she goes there herself in the dead of the night to harvest organs for transplants. She then lets the patients die on her table and keeps their corpses in the back.”

Upon your appalled reaction, he abruptly draws back, chuckling with great amusement.

“Just kidding! She’s a good doctor, and a friend of my colleague. Her tastes are just a little weird. I can understand where she’s coming from though.” His smile slackens, and the detachment in his eyes seems to suggest he’s reliving some horrors of his own right now. He absently touches the brim of his navy blue cap, and for the first time you notice it bears a badge of bronze wings.

Snapping back, his tone turns suddenly serious. “Besides, it is true she’s not all well. Sad to say it, but after she moved up here for a break, the lack of oxygen might have also addled her brain eventually.”

He notes your look of concern, and hastily continues. “But you don’t have to worry about that, if you’re just visiting. Scientists have figured out how to adjust the atmosphere so that it would take years to cause significant damage to your body. Most humans who live here have a natural tolerance from birth, especially if they were raised in the environment. Others usually go through training to develop it if necessary, such as myself.”

He extends a hand and tips his hat, revealing a head of dark hair. “Name’s Michael Falk by the way, pilot at your service. I’m helping to run the fair Nurse Joy mentioned. You’re welcome to come by if you’d like.” He regards you for a moment, taking in your besieged, bedraggled appearance. Maybe he mistook your disheveled hair as a sign of unspeakable suffering rather than slumber, as he smiles sympathetically. He turns to one of the magazine racks by the benches and pulls out a pamphlet, which appears to be a guide to the Garden. In inflates itself with definitions of each area, as well as associated images. He opens to a page that humbly describes a calm water park filled with fresh, frolicking fish, and presents it to you.

“It’s gonna get extremely here crowded soon, but you look like you could probably do with some peace and quiet instead. If you prefer a place to just sit and think, The Fountain Garden is a good place to reflect. Though that’s just my personal recommendation, feel free to visit wherever you like while you’re here. I hear The Rose Arch and Stardust Fields are also quite nice.”

As he lets you look over the choices as well as familiarize with your overall location, he checks his watch. “Looks like I’d better get back to my station. They’ve probably finished setting up by now, it’s almost opening time.” He doffs his cap again. “It was nice meeting you. Perhaps I’ll see you around. Hope you enjoy your stay at the Cloud Garden!”

With that, he departs, leaving you with guide in hand and a decision to make.

Where will you go?
With pamphlet in hand, Cyrus walked over to one of the sofas in the Pokémon Center and took a seat. This was all so very strange. Maybe the pamphlet which that man had handed to him would shed some light on this place. Cyrus opened up the pamphlet and started absent-mindedly scanning its contents. His mind was elsewhere, a flurry of thoughts. Just where in the world was he right now? The Cloud Garden? Cyrus had never heard of such a place before. Was he really 10,000 feet above the ground right now? How did he get here? What had happened to the fight with that snake from a few minutes ago? Cyrus caught himself staring fixedly at this one picture in the brochure of a desolate wasteland. "The Burnt Forest Wastelands, huh?" Cyrus muttered to himself. The picture showed blackened earth and petrified trees. Cyrus read the description text beside it. "Not much is known about this baron, sandy, dusty, dirty, burnt area. Some say it was once a lush, green forest that was the battlefield between two powerful fire Pokémon." But look at it now. Were places like this one typical of the Cloud Garden? Cyrus turned back to the start of the pamphlet and began to read the descriptions of each and every one of the areas. Whenever he reached one which the man, the one who introduced himself as Michael Falk, had specifically mentioned by name, Cyrus made a mental note of it. But speaking of Captain Falk ...

Cyrus looked up from the brochure. There was no sign of the pilot anywhere, of course. As Cyrus' eyes took in the center, they fell on Nurse Joy. Cyrus wondered about Captain Falk's warnings to him. In fact, that entire series of conversations had been so strange. Why had Cyrus felt so compelled to visit Memory Lane? Why did Captain Falk crack those off-color jokes about Nurse Joy? He seemed to be on a first-name basis with her. Were they really just jokes? Or was there some truth to what the pilot had said? Cyrus had no idea what to think or who to believe.

Looking back down at the brochure, Cyrus cynically chuckled to himself, thinking that he couldn't even really be sure that the person who had made this pamphlet was trustworthy. What if he had wandered into one of those pagan villages you always hear about in scary stories? The ones where the locals sacrifice a poor lost soul who has found himself lost or in need of a lift? What if the "fair" that Captain Falk had been talking about wasn't really a fair at all? What if it was ...? Dismissing these thoughts from his mind as paranoid and stupid, Cyrus looked back at the brochure Captain Falk had given him. "The Fountain Garden: A small garden filled with fountains, waterfalls and clear lakes. Water Pokémon love this little area and thrive to the point where you can't turn around without tripping over a Magikarp. Fishing is not allowed in this area as it is considered as cruelty towards the water Pokémon."

Hmm, Cyrus thought. Fountains, huh? And waterfalls too. Where there's running water, Cyrus figured, there's got to be a source. If he were follow the water back to its source then maybe, just maybe, he might find some more answers about where on earth he was right then. Standing up from the couch, Cyrus opened up his backpack, threw the pamphlet inside, zipped his backpack up, checked his belt to make sure all six PokéBalls were there, and headed out the front door. Looking for a roadsign or for someone who could point him in the right direction, Cyrus made his way towards the Fountain Garden.


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