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Thread: The Empty City

  1. #1
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    Default The Empty City

    WARNING: The following is an interactive horror fic. There will be no blood or gore, but the content is designed to disturb. Please read and participate at your own risk.

    Author’s Note: For those wondering, no, neither of my chaptered fics are dead. This is just a little something that wormed its way into my brain while I was working on other projects, and it just sort of stayed there. Think of this fic like A Leash of Foxes meets Unedited Footage of a Bear. If you’ve played/read Cutlerine’s fic, you know basically how this works: it’s partly your story as well. Comments and commands are therefore 100% welcome!

    Without further ado, welcome to Bad Decision Town.




    MISSION BRIEF

    On ██ July ████, [REDACTED], henceforth known as Patient A, vanished from [REDACTED]. He remained missing for a period of ██ days before being found, apparently comatose, within a confirmed Rocket laboratory. Thirty-six hours after retrieval, it had been determined by ████’s emergency services that psychic tampering may have occurred, due to the medical team’s failure to rouse Patient A using non-psychic means. Given this information and the circumstances of his capture, we are now operating under the assumption that A has been trapped within his own dreamscape as part of an effort to retrieve valuable information from his mind.

    Prior to that point, the retrieval team had discovered you in the company of Patient A. While we have yet to determine whether or not you had been the cause of Patient A’s condition, the medical and research teams have deemed you to be our greatest hope in retrieving A’s psyche from his dreamscape. Be warned: this will not be an easy mission. Patient A possesses a powerful imagination and a strong will, and with those in combination with his subconscious, it is very likely that highly volatile cognitohazards stand between you and A’s waking self.

    We will do our best to guide you from the outside. All of your observations will be relayed to a text-based prompter, which our agents will read and base their advice on. Follow their words, and perhaps minimal damage will occur to both you and Patient A’s psyche.

    Good luck. The world is counting on you.


    ---------------------

    You are at an intersection.

    It is quiet and night, and these are the two things you know for certain. The city around you is dark, far darker than you ever recall it being. Skyscrapers, some of which are vaguely familiar to you, box you in, and even though it’s night in the city, they stand as silent pillars of black glass and black steel.

    No lights. That’s what’s wrong, you realize. It’s not pitch dark necessarily; there is a hazy glow emanating around the city. But all of the buildings, all of the street lamps, all of the traffic lights, everything that could possibly be a source of illumination to you is completely, utterly dark.

    This is the first thing you notice. The second thing is that it’s quiet. You know this place, now that you look at it. You’ve been here before. It is where your friend is from, and every now and then, he brought you here to celebrate his holidays with his family—and, perhaps, yours, now that you think about it. Every time you’ve been here, you remember it being bright and colorful and loud, with thousands of voices and booming music all around you. But now, it’s quiet. Not even a hum of electricity or a soft whistle of wind breaks the silence.

    Perhaps, you think, this is why you couldn’t recognize this place at first. Looking at it now, it reminds you of a mange-infested rattata: once vibrant and full of life, now sickly and barren.

    There are four roads here: one for each of the cardinal directions.

    You do not sense your friend.

    What should you do?

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  2. #2
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    Can I reserve this post and edit it later with my response and review? I really don't want another person to beat me to it, but unfortunately I have some things to do right now that will prevent me from responding immediately.

    EDIT: My response. The review will come later.

    You run your hands up and down your body, trying to get your bearings and assess your situation. You are wearing a warm coat with a delicate texture. You cannot make out the color, but just from touch it seems to be a very luxurious item of clothing, with lush fur lining the cuffs and the hem. A slight breeze ruffles your long hair and blows it into your face. You feel a rather large tote bag, also made of a high-quality material, hanging from your shoulder. As you feel around the inside of your bag, your bare hands brush against various items: a fancy PokeGear, a pouch full of lush berries, and several Poke Balls.

    You frown. So far you still don't know who exactly you are. All you know so far is that you know this empty city, and are on the extremely important mission of looking for your friend. Only when your fingers rub against a smooth ring do you remember.

    Your name is SILPH, GLIMMER SILPH. You are the daughter of two of the most powerful individuals in the Pokemon World: the President of the Silph Corporation, a woman by the name of Sparkle Silph, and the President of the Devon Corporation, a man named Diamond Devon. You are one of the wealthiest people in Alola. You are also a loyal and skilled employee of AA1, one of the most advanced secret agencies to ever exist in the Pokemon World. With its expansive network of spies and technologies, AA1 is solely responsible for maintaining the overall peace of the Pokemon World - a task that the official police forces are sorely incompetent at.
    Last edited by American--Pi; 18th June 2016 at 6:12 AM.

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by American--Pi View Post
    Can I reserve this post and edit it later with my response and review? I really don't want another person to beat me to it, but unfortunately I have some things to do right now that will prevent me from responding immediately.

    EDIT: My response. The review will come later.

    You run your hands up and down your body, trying to get your bearings and assess your situation. You are wearing a warm coat with a delicate texture. You cannot make out the color, but just from touch it seems to be a very luxurious item of clothing, with lush fur lining the cuffs and the hem. A slight breeze ruffles your long hair and blows it into your face. You feel a rather large tote bag, also made of a high-quality material, hanging from your shoulder. As you feel around the inside of your bag, your bare hands brush against various items: a fancy PokeGear, a pouch full of lush berries, and several Poke Balls.

    You frown. So far you still don't know who exactly you are. All you know so far is that you know this empty city, and are on the extremely important mission of looking for your friend. Only when your fingers rub against a smooth ring do you remember.

    Your name is SILPH, GLIMMER SILPH. You are the daughter of two of the most powerful individuals in the Pokemon World: the President of the Silph Corporation, a woman by the name of Sparkle Silph, and the President of the Devon Corporation, a man named Diamond Devon. You are one of the wealthiest people in Alola. You are also a loyal and skilled employee of AA1, one of the most advanced secret agencies to ever exist in the Pokemon World. With its expansive network of spies and technologies, AA1 is solely responsible for maintaining the overall peace of the Pokemon World - a task that the official police forces are sorely incompetent at.
        Spoiler:- Author's Note:
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 18th June 2016 at 7:53 AM.

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    Oh, how could I resist? Jax, you're making me want to do another one of these. :P Anyway, let's kick things off with some exposition.

    >Recall what you know about this city and your friend -- names, locations, shortcuts; anything that might be useful to navigate this place.
    TIME AND TIDE
    Post-post-apocalyptic memoirs from a pirate poet.

    A LEASH OF FOXES
    You wake up. You get to your feet. You step into the wild, wild East.

    SNOW
    Not the white Christmas that anyone was looking for.

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    Oh, cool! Let's have a little fun with this.

    >If you have one, check your Pokégear. If it has a GPS function, use it to check where you are and where the paths lead. If not, at least check to see if you have any messages.
    "Most of the titles for my pieces arrive because on computer, you have to call them something. So I have."
    -Ringo Starr

    -------------------------------

    Pokémon: Convergence

    Next Chapter: Chapter 7

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    Hmm... Interesting.

    >Check your pockets and clothing to see if you have anything of use.
    I looked within my heart of hearts, and I knew despair.

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        Spoiler:- Author's Note:


    >Recall what you know about this city and your friend -- names, locations, shortcuts; anything that might be useful to navigate this place.

    First, the city.

    On the surface, you know it as the place your friend is from—and, indeed, it is still the place he calls his second home. It is a place by the sea, as many cities in his home country are, and underneath its modern veneer, at its very heart, it is an old city. The myths of your friend’s people are still alive and well here, in the absent music and in the missing lights and festivities. This place, the real version of this place, is just as beautiful and colorful as its rainbow-winged god.

    This is Goldenrod City.

    Or it is not Goldenrod City but rather a memory of Goldenrod City—and possibly not even that. It is colorless and silent, devoid of people and sound, and this worries you. Normally, your friend’s mind is warm and vibrant, but to see it so cold and lifeless…

    They hurt him. You know they did, and even though you couldn’t see what they did, you can tell. It is clear to you, looking up at the black buildings and the soft edges of the city’s colorless aura, that your friend had been in pain—enough pain to chase off all the warmth of this place. Clearly, you need to act quickly. The sooner you can draw your friend out of these dreams, the sooner you can begin to help him heal.

    Second, though, you consider your friend. You know why they hurt him, of course. To the human world, your friend is important, valued for what he can do. The other people were right in saying he has a powerful imagination. He considers it his best trait, the one thing he can use to “make a difference in the world,” as he puts it. Unfortunately, it is also the trait that had attracted them to him. He was right there. He needed you, and you—

    You close your eyes and focus. His imagination was important to people, and that was important in itself. But to you, however, he is your friend. He is your friend, and you were one of his first, besides the bulbasaur. He has always been kind to you. He has always fed you and given you shelter, cared for you when you were sick and helped you develop your powers, made you feel safe and loved and whole. Without him, you know you would not be the creature you are now. Perhaps you would have gained the mastery over your abilities that you currently possess, but it would have been far more painful without him.

    Not that this is the only thing he means to you, of course. Your friend is warm. Colorful. Different somehow from all the other people in the real version of this city. There was something different about him. There is something different about him. You would do anything for him, even this, even if the other people hadn’t forced you to do this.

    So you know you must find him. You reach out to him now, but you still cannot sense him.

    Yet … you know enough about this city to know where he might be.

    You open your eyes now and look.

    Directly to the east, there is the Department Store. Your friend never thought much about the Department Store, but it is the most popular area of the real Goldenrod. Perhaps there may be someone there you can ask for help.

    To the northeast, there are the gym and the flower shop. Fond memories exist in the latter and only the latter.

    To the west is your friend’s home. This place feels the warmest out of all the places in the city, but between your friend’s home and you, there is something that feels far colder than anything else here. The direct route may be ill advised.

    To the northwest, there is one entrance to the Underground. The other entrance, you know, is located beyond the cold something, very close to your friend’s home. However, the route to the Underground is longer, and you also know that this path isn’t necessarily safe or free of its own shadows. Never mind the fact that you don’t know what may be in the Underground, either.

    Nothing exists due north or south, nor to the southeast or southwest. The city stretches infinitely in all four of these directions.

    Where would you like to go?


    >If you have one, check your Pokégear. If it has a GPS function, use it to check where you are and where the paths lead. If not, at least check to see if you have any messages.

    Unfortunately, your friend was always the one to carry the pokégear. In your hands, it would always malfunction. Your friend knew why; it had something to do with your abilities. “Alpha waves,” he called it. “You emit them subconsciously. It’s not your fault.”

    He said this after you’d picked up his pokégear once, just to see what it was. Its screen had flickered in your hand, and sparks had jumped from the sides until the whole device had popped and died. You’ve decided since then that you would rather not deal with human technology at all. It is a wonder to you that the device monitoring your progress through these dreams works, but you admit this is the least strange thing the other people have in their possession.


    >Check your pockets and clothing to see if you have anything of use.

    You do not have pockets, as you do not wear anything that would have them. You could if you wanted, but you never did, and your friend always felt uncomfortable seeing other people force their companions to do it.

    However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have nothing. There is the psychic tracking device that the other people gave to you, not to mention the psychic amplifier all of your kind carry. In addition to these items, your friend gave you a bell, which you wear on a red cord around your neck. You don’t need it, but you like the way it jingles when you walk.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 19th June 2016 at 6:16 AM.

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  8. #8
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    This is a fascinating idea, but I think I might hold off on giving an in-depth review until the story has had more time to form. There's great potential here (and obviously I have every confidence that you will realize that potential in time) but I'd like to let this find its own way before commenting too much on it. Now...

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    >Go northwest
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    >Go northwest

    You head northwest.

    Under your feet, the pavement is solid and smooth, and these signs are reassurance to you. Your friend had been hurt but not broken; there is still hope for recovery. But the rest of the city still unsettles you: the way the buildings loom dark and silent, the way each structure looks generic and nondescript, the way they lose detail as you press on.

    You don’t stop to look, but your eyes fall on the facades of storefronts. Letters in mismatched alphabets stretch across signs—some in Russian, in English, in Chinese, in your friend’s native Common, and a few in squiggles you are almost certain aren’t languages at all. Without your friend’s help, you can’t read any of them, but even if you could, you have a feeling none of them would make complete sense because the stores don’t make complete sense. Bakeries with blackened cakes covered with plastic flies, dress shops with fish for mannequins, an electronics shop with a wall of TVs facing the street … these, you know, are merely your friend’s hazy recollections, mixed with his dream state. He never spent much time in this part of the city to create solid memories, so his mind is compensating because you are traveling through this place.

    Or, at least, that is your theory. You don’t want to think about any other alternative.

    One of the TV screens catches your eye. You know you shouldn’t look, but you do. You turn your head and stare, and you find yourself face-to-face with a black-and-white test pattern on a large screen occupying the center of the window. The screen flickers, and the same test pattern blossoms across all the other screens in the display. They remain for a second, then blink—actually blink, with darkness folding down like eyelids over twelve different eyes—before appearing once more. When they return, they’re starker somehow—crisper, with harsher blacks and whites.

    And it’s then that you realize the city isn’t silent anymore. There’s a hum now—low and buzzing, like an old TV being turned on or like electricity running through high-tension wires. Behind you, the cold air suddenly becomes warm, like a hot breath burning the back of your neck. Yet you don’t take your eyes off the screens … because right then, the center monitor changes. In the center of the test card, text blinks into existence in bold, stark-white letters.

    PLEASE STAND BY

    You continue to watch. The test card and text disappear, replaced by a pitch-black screen. Then, a few seconds later, new words appear. Centered. White. Mechanical.

    EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM

    hello world

    In the reflection in the window, something catches your eye: a line of figures, standing perfectly still across the street. You can’t make out exactly what they are, but they look tall and clothed—humans, perhaps? Except … completely unmoving. Just standing there, arms at their sides, faces too fuzzy to make out.

    You feel your breath hitch at the sight of them, and you grit your teeth. This is a dream, you remind yourself. This is your friend’s mental defense mechanisms. They can’t hurt you. You repeat this thought a few times before you finally turn around to face them.

    ...

    You find yourself standing in front of a dark skyscraper with a steel tower thrusting up towards the sky. You know this place: Goldenrod Radio Tower, the source of Goldenrod’s main form of media. Behind it, squatting in its shadow, is the glass-and-steel archway covering the entrance to the Underground.

    There are no people behind you.

    You sense a dark presence inside the Radio Tower.

    You cannot sense anything at all from the Underground.

    You do not sense your friend.

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  10. #10
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    Hm. Best to figure out what the rules of this universe are before we do anything rash, I think. Or, well. Before we do anything else rash.

    >Determine how far you can use your powers in here without harming your friend, and, since you clearly have a good understanding of how mental constructs work, assess the threat posed to you by your friend's mental defence system.
    TIME AND TIDE
    Post-post-apocalyptic memoirs from a pirate poet.

    A LEASH OF FOXES
    You wake up. You get to your feet. You step into the wild, wild East.

    SNOW
    Not the white Christmas that anyone was looking for.

  11. #11
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    After mulling over it for a few days, I'm interested to know if it's possible to broadcast anything from the radio tower, and if so what that would do to our friend/the world. You did say this was Bad Decision Town, so yeah, time to boldly go (completely unprepared, natch).

    >Enter the radio tower
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    > Close your eyes for a while because you're morbidly curious as to what would happen if you lost your awareness just for a little while.

    Ha. Haha. HAHAHAHA-

    Ahem. I apologize, but now that I've read this whole story that was my first reaction. Man, I was SO off in my interpretation. When I read the first post I was sure that the main character was a James Bond-type secret agent who was, through Matrix-like technology, inside her important friend's dreamscape in an attempt to wake said friend up. Who knew that the main character was a Pokemon? XD

    Another reason for the HAHAHAs is the horror. Even though I don't fully understand what's going on, this fic is still chilling me to the bone. Its horror is really well executed, and is definitely something that I can't cook up (I s2g the last time I tried writing horror it ended up seeming like crack, so I just rolled with it and re-classified the fic as "crack taken seriously". Ż\_(ツ)_/Ż). I'm not quite sure how to define the horror, but man, this place is SO messed up, and I feel like the poor main character won't be sane for much longer. Great job with the execution, really.

    Currently, my only criticism is that I'm not entirely sure what's going on. Who exactly is the main character? Who is the friend? What's the background context behind this story? What's with the psychic tampering and other psychic stuff? Why is this city so weird? Of course, since this is only the beginning of the story, and confusion is a huge part of horror, I'm kind of sort of fine with it. XP

    I do have an interpretation of the events in this story, though, and this interpretation will NOT go away. Chances are I'll be 120% wrong as usual, but:
        Spoiler:- interpretation:


    Can I also say that I love the whole Goldenrod Gym reference? XD

    As a side note, this post's kind of review - shorter, less formal, and more manageable - is probably the kind of review I'll be writing more in the future. It's definitely less stressful than my previous format of strictly formula Weekly Reviews. Now that I've put less pressure on myself, I'll definitely try my best to be along for the ride.

    Keep up the great work!

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    >Determine how far you can use your powers in here without harming your friend, and, since you clearly have a good understanding of how mental constructs work, assess the threat posed to you by your friend's mental defence system.

    At first, one would think that the first question would be the simplest, but it gets a little more complicated the longer you dwell on it. Dreamwalking, or the act of projecting oneself psychically into another’s dream, is basically advanced telepathy. Anything you do within another’s dream state is less telekinetically manipulating your environment and more telepathically influencing your host to manipulate it for you, whether they know it or not. As such, on paper, it’s safe in the sense that nothing that happens to you here will harm you physically. You could, for example, be run in with the blade of an adult scyther, and you’ll wake up completely unharmed. Likewise, as long as you’re careful and not actively trying to destroy your environment, you could very well do whatever you pleased in that world, and to your host, your actions would be just another component in one long, very strange dream.

    Or, well, “whatever you pleased” is a bit strong of a term. Obviously, you’re limited by your own imagination and your knowledge of your friend’s dream topography. Teleporting from one point to another, for example, would require you to actually see the places you want to teleport to, as attempting to do it the way you can in reality will very likely not get you particularly far. Places, after all, may not be exactly where they should be in a host’s dreams. On the other hand, using some kind of variation of telekinesis—or, rather, manipulating the environment through extremely strong mental suggestions to the subconscious—should probably work better than it would in reality, as if you tell a sleeping human that you can lift a beached wailord, they are less likely to argue with you.

    Yet that’s not quite true either. Yes, all of these rules work for willing subjects, but someone who is invaded and therefore unwilling to become a host is an entirely different matter. And there is where it gets complicated … and where the second question comes in.

    To put it simply, there are two types of mental defense systems. The first is more of a barrier—mental walls, mental buffers, and the like—designed to repel an invader out of the mind. It’s also the easier type to erect and the more humane to execute, as it operates using only one action: push. At most, the invading psychic will be rendered momentarily stunned if the host pushes hard enough, but because an invader’s natural mental state is obviously not within the host’s mind, then that’s the worst possible outcome to the barrier type of defense.

    However, the second type is a bit more ruthless, and it takes a lot more effort for the host to execute, especially if they aren’t psychic in the first place. In simple terms, imagine the human immune system. Imagine that an invading psychic mind is a bacterium that has somehow bypassed the barrier that is the host’s skin. Imagine millions of white blood cells descending upon that bacterium, consuming it whole, and breaking it down until there is nothing left. Now realize that because it’s just your mind within that dream scape, to be broken down means nothing will go back to your body. Which is to say this type of defense mechanism will consume your mind, your soul, everything you are—and leave your body as an empty husk. That is the second defense system.

    You taught your friend the first type of defense system a long time ago, back when the headaches your kind induce on his got to be too much and back when he realized having just any psychic enter his brain would be a risk to his work. And that is the type you were expecting to face. But the funny thing about trauma is that it can do all kinds of things to the human brain, including force it to learn a completely different defense mechanism to preserve its sanity. The shadows you saw in the window? Those were the leucocytes, hunting down the vague notion that there is an invader in that dreamscape.

    So, as of right now, you know the risk. Spend too long in your friend’s mind, and his defense system will find you and eliminate you. Make the wrong move in your friend’s mind, and his defense system will find you and eliminate you.

    But … perhaps there’s still hope. The closer you get to your friend, the more you can assert your presence on him, and the more you do that, the more likely he will recognize you and call off his defenses. Thus, your objective is made all the more clear, thanks to your thoughts on all of this: you must find your friend, and find him quickly.


    >Enter the radio tower

    Against your better judgment, you enter the radio tower.

    Here is where someone writing horror fiction would say that the air felt cold or off or something along those lines, but to you, there is nothing immediately wrong about the air of the lobby. Structurally speaking, it even looks like a lobby, with its pristine counter, its marble floors, its posters for various radio shows, right down to its potted plants.

    But it’s the details of that place that throw you off. For one, the reception desk is not manned by any sort of human being, as it is in reality. Instead, there are chairs behind the desk, and on those chairs are pikachu plushes, dressed in little suits and dresses. You approach the desk and gaze into their button eyes, but you can sense no life from them. These, you decide, are not leukocytes. Not yet, anyway, and you choose not to stick around long enough to see if your friend’s dreamscape will turn them.

    So instead, you wander away from the reception desk, to the posters on the wall. Like the signs outside, these are in languages you either cannot understand or doubt are languages at all, but more than that, there is something wrong with these. At first, they start off normal enough: just posters with images of pokémon performing. Jigglypuff singing into microphones and meowth dancing in rains of coins and clefairy in space helmets … in Johto, pokémon have been the cornerstones of entertainment since the ancient Noh theaters, so it doesn’t surprise you to see them here. But as you continue along the wall, the posters get stranger. The pokémon become replaced with people in pokémon masks—lanky figures with rubbery jigglypuff and meowth faces grinning unnaturally wide. And at first, they did the same things their pokémon counterparts did—sing into microphones and dance and so forth—but with each new poster you see, their movements get less and less … energetic, somehow. Like they’re slowly tiring out until, at last, they stand with their arms hanging limply at their sides.

    And then, you come to the last poster, but it isn’t of the people at all. It’s of your friend. Or, a younger version of your friend—the person he was before he had met you. He sits in black and white on a chair facing someone unseen. A microphone hangs down from above him, but he stares straight ahead, not at it. His mouth is closed, and there’s something odd about the eye you can see. Something glassy. Tired.

    You step forward to examine the poster carefully. Your friend’s hands are folded over something on the table in front of him, but you can’t tell what it is. As you step closer, you start to make out something between his fingers: a soft-edged object, poking up between his knuckles. A feather, perhaps?

    Something out of the corner of your eye catches your attention, and you glance at the side of the poster. There’s something there: a fuzzy darkness that takes up one edge of the poster. You squint and reach out of yourself, grasping at the edges of this thing. You know it’s a memory, and you can tell by your friend’s expression that it’s not a good one. But what is this? What happened here?

    That was when you began to hear the noise. You turn your head to see a door, propped open by a stuffed pikachu in a doorman uniform. From beyond the doorway, you hear the noise—a series of quiet beeps repeating over and over again in a pattern you do not, at first, understand. You listen carefully, separating each beep until a message forms in your mind.

    You realize now that you may not be wanted here.

    You feel as if you are being watched.

    You do not sense your friend.


    > Close your eyes for a while because you're morbidly curious as to what would happen if you lost your awareness just for a little while.

    You close your eyes.

    For a long while, nothing happens. When you feel it’s safe enough to assume that nothing will, you open them again.

    The pikachu dolls seem to be looking at you now.

    All of them.




    Author’s Note: For the Hearing Impaired
    For those of you who are unable to hear the sound file included in this batch of updates, here is a graphic representation. Yes, the fact that some parts of the story will link to media like this will become important later in the story. You may still enjoy The Empty City without clicking on any of the links, but some clues may not be as apparent through text alone.

    Or, well, warnings. Mostly warnings.


    Author’s Note: Responses
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  14. #14
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    > RUN. Run away from the Radio Tower to the Underground. You don't want to risk your attacks not working in this wonky dreamscape.

    I really liked how much explanation was in this "chapter". Now I'm a lot more sure of how things are going to work here. In addition, YIKES. The horror is really kicking up a notch, especially with the Pikachu dolls looking at you. I love fashion dolls and collecting them, but why the heck do certain dolls look so creepy?

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    Gotta say I disagree with you, Pi. Things are just getting good. So I'm gonna go ahead and put the Bad Decision back into Bad Decision Town and say...

    Despite not being able to sense our friend, we definitely sensed something, and it would be a crime against the Scientific Method not to see this through. (I think. I'm pretty sure my definition of the scientific method is a bit skewed) Also I kind of want to know if it's possible to broadcast anything in the dreamscape. So anyway...

    >Proceed up the radio tower.
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  16. #16
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    So, if I'm reading this right, and I may well not be, our Morse message is something like KNOCK KNOCK WHO'S THERE AAA AAA AAA NO ONE ANSWERED, which is possibly actually more reassuring than if someone had answered, to be honest, because if someone answered, then someone is listening, and the goal of Almost Bad But Determinedly Good (Despite Firebrand's Best Efforts) Decision Town seems to not be noticed while we go about our psionic business.

    Also, I'm amazed it took us that long to realise that we might not be wanted here. Kind of feels like that was made clear a while back.

    Anyway, pikachu dolls seem way less creepy than dolls of humans, since they by definition can't enter the uncanny valley, so for the sake of our sanity we shall categorise their stares as merely 'rude' rather than 'horrifying', and ...

    >Leave. Quietly. Shut the door on your way out.

    Hopefully two voices in favour of the preferably-not-dying route is enough to sway our hero's mind. :p
    Last edited by Cutlerine; 29th June 2016 at 1:56 PM.
    TIME AND TIDE
    Post-post-apocalyptic memoirs from a pirate poet.

    A LEASH OF FOXES
    You wake up. You get to your feet. You step into the wild, wild East.

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    >Head further up the radio tower. Think over the sounds you heard.


        Spoiler:
    I looked within my heart of hearts, and I knew despair.

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    I'm really enjoying this so far! I'm really intrigued by the universe you've set up and its delightful set of rules. I am 100% behind anything psychic, but I love the horror setting you're creating, here. I'm super curious about how much you plan in advance and how much is on the fly, especially as we inevitably turn into a terrible Twitch chat equivalent and proceed to screw everything up.

    My guess as to the main character's identity, since now seems like a bad time in the story to make them do any self-reflection:
        Spoiler:- I may have cheated a bit:


    Quote Originally Posted by Firebrand View Post
    Gotta say I disagree with you, Pi. Things are just getting good. So I'm gonna go ahead and put the Bad Decision back into Bad Decision Town and say...

    Despite not being able to sense our friend, we definitely sensed something, and it would be a crime against the Scientific Method not to see this through. (I think. I'm pretty sure my definition of the scientific method is a bit skewed) Also I kind of want to know if it's possible to broadcast anything in the dreamscape. So anyway...

    >Proceed up the radio tower.
    Keep in mind that we now know the longer we spend putzing around, the higher our chance of being found and literally having our mind destroyed. While I like the idea of trying to send some kind of broadcast, I'm not quite sure what sort of message a Pokemon would send, and under these circumstances.


    I'm intrigued to see whether or not our commands will be taken democratically or anarchically, so I'll just add the following:

    >You return to examining the poster to see if there is anything else you can gleam from it, and see if you can take the a fuzzy darkness from the poster edge. You try to sense if there is anything else of use in the tower.

    ~Psychic

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  19. #19
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    > RUN. Run away from the Radio Tower to the Underground. You don't want to risk your attacks not working in this wonky dreamscape.

    >Proceed up the radio tower.

    >Leave. Quietly. Shut the door on your way out.


    You feel conflicted at first. Stay or go? On the one hand, you were raised by a scientist, and as such, you can’t help but feel your friend’s overwhelming sense of curiosity. Had he been there and in his right mind, this wouldn’t be a decision. He would lead you up the stairs, and you would be with him. On the other, you were always the voice of reason between the two of you, and you know damn well that running off into dangerous places is exactly what got you and your friend in this mess in the first place.

    Ultimately, though, you decide against leaving. It’s not because your handlers—the collection of voices pushing into your mind from the tracking device—have urged you to stay. It’s because you know that something in here could be a hint: a clue, a shade, something that could tell you what is locking your friend in his dreamscape.


    >You return to examining the poster to see if there is anything else you can gleam from it, and see if you can take the a fuzzy darkness from the poster edge. You try to sense if there is anything else of use in the tower.

    So you do. Ignoring the pikachu dolls, you turn your attention back to the poster in front of you, the one of your friend. You push your consciousness outward again, mentally feeling the poster and searching for some kind of sign. It rustles under your unseen hands, and the shadow at the edge ripples. You watch it intently for some time, your mind pushing at the edges of the poster to urge it to react.

    And then, finally, it does. Like a flip book animation, the shadow flickers and shifts in jerking waves. Slowly but surely, hands emerge from the right edge of the poster, stretching across with five shadow-drenched fingers splayed. No body follows; the arms simply stretch like taffy strings from the edge of the poster, across your friend’s face, and to the other side, where one hand wraps around his head to cover his eyes. The other hand twists, and the long fingers reach into his mouth and, slowly but surely, begin to pull out his tongue.

    It’s here when you tear your eyes away from the poster. You want to look at something else—anything else—but your gaze settles instead on the other posters on the wall. All of them have changed in the time it took you to study the first poster. The pokémon and the people in the masks are gone now. In fact, everything is gone now. All that’s left on each of the posters are patterns of dots and dashes and slashes in glistening, black letters, splattered onto bold, red pages.

    ... --- / - . .-.. .-.. / ..- ... --..-- / .... .- ...- . / -.-- --- ..- / -- .- -.. . / .- / -.. . -.-. .. ... .. --- -. ..--.. / .- .-.. .-.. / - .... . / - --- .--. / ... -.-. .... --- --- .-.. ... / .-- .- -. - / -.-- --- ..- .-.-.- / -.-- --- ..- / -- ..- ... - / -... . / ... --- / .--. .-. --- ..- -.. .-.-.-

    .. / .-- .- -. - / - --- / --. --- / .... --- -- . .-.-.-

    ... --- ..- .-. -.-. . ... / ... .- -.-- / -.-- --- ..- / .-- . .-. . / ... . . -. / .-- .. - .... / .- / --. .. .-. .-.. / .-. . -.-. . -. - .-.. -.-- .-.-.- / .- .-. . / -.-- --- ..- / -.. .- - .. -. --. ..--.. / - . .-.. .-.. / ..- ... / .- .-.. .-.. / - .... . / -.. . - .- .. .-.. ... .-.-.-

    .. / ..-. . . .-.. / ... .. -.-. -.- .-.-.-

    .- .-. . / -.-- --- ..- / .- ..-. .-. .- .. -.. / --- ..-. / -.. .. ... .- .--. .--. --- .. -. - .. -. --. / -.-- --- ..- .-. / -- --- - .... . .-. --..-- / --- .-. / .--- ..- ... - / -.-- --- ..- .-. / ..-. .- - .... . .-. ..--..

    As you study these posters, you steady yourself. You don’t know what these messages mean, but it’s the feeling from them. You feel as if you’re being watched, not by the pikachu dolls but by something else. You feel that cold, heavy presence of something else in that dreamscape besides you and your friend. And you feel something moving all around you.

    But more than that, you feel something upstairs. Something shifting and congealing. It feels … warm, like your friend, but it’s not the whole of your friend. Not really. And it feels cold, like the hands and the dolls and a lot of other things, but you know it’s not any of these entities. Not really.

    And from this, you draw one conclusion: whatever it is, it is important.

    The hands from the first poster enter the next and then the next and then the next. There is still no body, no end to their arms, and something about their open palms exacerbate the feeling of having all eyes on you.

    It is then that you realize the tone you’ve been hearing has changed.


    >Head further up the radio tower. Think over the sounds you heard.

    You tear your eyes away from the posters, grateful for another distraction. Instead, you look at the open door, at the staircase behind it. You know that you’ve put off going upstairs long enough, and now, knowing that you would rather not find out what else these hands will do, you finally set out for the upper floor. The pikachu doll beside the door doesn’t stop you. In fact, none of them do, but you know that if you turn around now, you will most likely find all of them staring at your back.

    You try not to think about this.

    It doesn’t take you long at all to climb the stairs, and when you do, you find yourself in a single room. Perhaps it’s because your friend doesn’t remember all of the details, but there is only one floor here, despite how tall the building seems to be, judging by the skyline out the windows. All of them, that is—each wall isn’t so much a wall as it is a window, looking out onto the sprawling Goldenrod landscape. You’re almost certain this is not the actual view from the real radio tower, but it’s not important.

    What is important is the main feature of this floor: a broadcasting booth. The controls seem to take up half the room. You glance at them to see lights on and screens flickering. In front of them, sitting in a chair, is a plush meowth wearing a headset. Like the pikachu downstairs, it, too, is staring at you as soon as you emerge into the room. You ignore it and the controls. They’re not important right now.

    That leaves the other half of the room. This space is divided neatly in half by a wall, which isn’t really a wall so much as another window with a door in it. Beyond the door are two dolls. One of them is of a woman. Red-headed. Glasses. Leaning over a microphone on the table in front of her. You recognize her from the advertisements you would see when you accompanied your friend on holidays back to his home. This is DJ Mary, although she is too young to have ever met your friend as a child. You suppose that the memory has gotten corrupted somewhere, muddled by the dreamstate.

    She is also not important.

    The reason why is because across from her, sitting in a chair beneath another microphone, is your friend. Or, rather, not your friend but a rag doll of him too, rocking back and forth in his chair. As you approach the door, you realize that this rocking has a source: fine, glistening threads stitched into his stubby arms and the back of his neck. Your eyes trail down one of the strings to his hands, and there, you see something odd. Fuzzy. Gray. Feathery. The object that was between your friend’s fingers in the poster and half of the sensation you were feeling downstairs. This, you realize, is something that may be important.

    As you continue to watch, you realize something else. The tones are not coming from the speakers or a radio or anything mechanical. They’re coming from these dolls. Every so often, a pull string from the back of one would draw itself out, sliding to its full length before slowly winding back up. And as the string withdrew, the doll that housed it would beep and hum until falling silent, just long enough for the same thing to happen to the other doll. At first, the message is simply the same as the last one you heard, repeated over and over again, first by one doll, then the other. But then, as soon as you come to a stop right at the door, DJ Mary’s string extends, draws back, and allows her to emit an entirely different message.




    Author’s Note: For the Hearing Impaired
    1. has changed
    2. allows her to emit an entirely different message

    Author’s Note: Responses
    Lmao, juuuust in case anyone’s wondering, I do, in fact, have a plan for resolving ties, should we ever have one again. It’s called “rolling a d20.” 8D No, but seriously, thanks so much for making this round preeetty interesting.

    Also, to Cutlerine, those AAA bits were meant to be periods, but I like your translation better because it sounds like someone was randomly screaming while feeding lines to the telegraph operator.

    Meanwhile…

        Spoiler:

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  20. #20
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    Alright, I guess I am a glorified translator now, because I got the first Morse Message (or MM) done in a minute.

        Spoiler:


    The tone is very simple:     Spoiler:


    I will not translate the last message, just because I am tired of transcribing dots and dashes.

    >Continue up the tower. Try to avoid or ignore the posters.
    I looked within my heart of hearts, and I knew despair.

  21. #21
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    Hang on a sec there, Omega. There's nowhere else left to go up the tower. Only two floors, remember? We're at the top. As to your translations, yeah, that's what I got too. I tried deciphering the third one, but I'm just getting jumbles of letters. Maybe someone else should give it a shot. The translator worked fine for the first few, but the last one doesn't seem to make any sense.For example, for the first four words I'm getting "turn ongw tune ingw" which can't be right... Hrmmm

    Anyway, obviously whatever that gray thing is, I'm sure we can all agree it's a thing we want to have.

    >Take the thing

    ... Of course this will obvs have consequences, so now I'm terribly curious as to what would happen if we couldn't get out down the stairs. Maybe we could jump through one of those windows and out, because space seems distorted here. At the very least, psychic ourselves down.
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    >Continue up the tower. Try to avoid or ignore the posters.

    It’s true that you’ve reached the topmost level of the tower—as far as you know, anyway. Looking around the room, there are only two doors. One of them leads back downstairs, and the other is the one to the recording booth.

    Speaking of the latter…


    >Take the thing

    You take a deep breath first. You know that regardless of whether or not this object itself is good or bad, taking it may result in either of two scenarios. Either nothing will happen (which you hope will be the outcome of this), or physically interacting with a piece of the dreamstate will alert your friend and the inhabitants of his dream to your location. On the other hand, you can feel by the aura surrounding this object that there is something about it—that you must have it in order to proceed for some reason.

    So you open the door. Neither of the dolls seem to notice you as you move into the hot, stuffy air of the recording booth. They don’t notice you as you glide across the room, around the table, and to the doll of your friend. Your eyes settle on the object, and you reach out with your mind and pull.

    It comes free easily and drifts to your open claws. Once in your palm, you look at it and realize what it is.

    The Rainbow Wing. Except … gray. As if all color had been drained of it.

    All around you, right at that second, the air explodes with a piercing screech. You’re almost certain you scream, but you can’t hear yourself at all. You can only double over, clutching both the Rainbow Wing and your head as the DJ Mary doll rise from her chair. Both dolls are looking at you now, but only DJ Mary is moving. Her face had torn open where a mouth would be on a human face, and the ragged edges of that hole are now parting and stretching, forming a cavernous, black hole far too wide for a human mouth. The sound is coming from her. Your friend’s doll is silent but shaking now, button eyes wet as the threads sewn into his arms and neck slacken and begin tangling around his body.

    With some effort, you tear your eyes away and stumble out of the booth. You don’t get far, though, because lined up against the far wall, between you and the door to the stairs, is every single doll in that building. They don’t move, however, and you’re certain you can push through them if you tried.

    Meanwhile, the windows to your sides are unbroken, and through them, you can see the rest of the city, including every single point of interest you had seen when you first awoke on the streets.

    Behind you, you can sense the dark, cold presence within the DJ Mary doll filling the booth you had just left. It will be emerging into the rest of the room if you do not move immediately.

    So, what will it be? Windows, door, or something else?

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  23. #23
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    Well, well. I suppose we were about due some form of action sequence. Anyway:

    >Jump out of the window and hope your telekinetic powers can slow you down enough to stop your encounter with the ground reducing you to paste.
    TIME AND TIDE
    Post-post-apocalyptic memoirs from a pirate poet.

    A LEASH OF FOXES
    You wake up. You get to your feet. You step into the wild, wild East.

    SNOW
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  24. #24
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    Gotta say, Cutlerine, for once we agree. Windows seem the best bet here. But before we go, I think there's something we need to do for science.

    >Before jumping, shatter the window with a psychic pulse and then use another one on the dolls just to see if it has any effect
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        Spoiler:



    >Jump out of the window and hope your telekinetic powers can slow you down enough to stop your encounter with the ground reducing you to paste.

    >Before jumping, shatter the window with a psychic pulse and then use another one on the dolls just to see if it has any effect


    Breaking the window is the easy part. You reach for it, not only with your hand but also with your will. You feel its cold, its smooth surface beneath your mind. It vibrates beneath your touch, rippling as you dip into it.

    And then, it explodes into a million pieces, bursting outward into the city.

    Except … it doesn’t. Not completely. Just beyond the window, it hangs, suspended in the sky like fragments in gelatin. This is not your friend’s doing but instead yours. And you know it’s yours because in the next instant, you pull back, and the shards obey. They rush back into the room, twisting into a funnel over your head, roaring into a mass of wind and splinters. You swing your body around and throw your arm out, and with that motion, your mind pitches the glass storm right at one of the dolls. You don’t pay attention to which; that part doesn’t matter to you. The stream obeys anyway, drilling straight through the pikachu doll that had manned the soundbooth. Its cloth skin rips away, and its cotton innards and thread joints dissolve into nothingness within the glass vortex. Beneath the roar of your storm, you hear three screams: one of a small child, one of a pikachu, and one of something you cannot describe, intertwined and agonized.

    You send the rest of the vortex into the wall to drive home your point. The other dolls and the thing that had been Mary hesitate only slightly, as if to evaluate you. Then, they make their next move. The dolls all launch into motion now. Their faces rip open, and the tops of their heads stretch up and back to widen the gaping, black holes that are their mouths.

    It is then that you decide to execute the other part of your order.

    You leap out the window, half propelled by your powers and half by your own feet. Behind you, Mary screams and follows. As you fall, you watch her, a shadowy figure stretching out like spilled paint against the sky. Her face flattens and distorts, mouth elongating into a horrified scream. Her hands reach, but they can’t reach for you. Instead, they spread outward from the window, trickling across the air above you. Mary, you realize, cannot hurt you. She doesn’t even matter to you. Not anymore.

    So you turn away.

    The city fans out before you as a mass of gray, shortly before you arc away from the open window. You can see in the distance your friend’s home. You know you can teleport there, but the image rushes upwards, out of your view, replaced by the skyscrapers around the radio tower. You’re falling. You don’t know how you’re falling, but you are. Spots of color burst splash across the city and stream upwards, away from you. Cold wind whips around you. Sounds of cars and people and music rush up from the street right for you. And concrete sidewalk grows closer and closer and closer and—

    And you wake up. You find yourself where you started, back at the intersection between two roads. Not far away, the Radio Tower looms, brightly lit and waiting but far colder than it had been initially. It looks almost plastic now, like someone had put a toy Radio Tower where the real one had been. Even from a distance, the windows look like cellophane, and the details look painted.

    This doesn’t matter to you. What matters to you instead are two things.

    First, all around you, you can hear something. There are still no people on this street, but there is the sound of them. Not voices, exactly. Cars. Cars humming along the street. Horns honking. Bass thumping through radio speakers. Tires grinding into pavement. There are signs of people are all around you, even though you cannot feel them or see them or even hear their occupants. And you know this is something notable because the dream is shifting. Changing. Becoming populated, little by little.

    Second, the feather. You open your hand and look at it. In the sunlight of the street, the grayscale Rainbow Wing glints. You know that it’s not complete, and you’re not sure how you know this.

    But either way, you know how to find your friend.

    You need to complete this feather.


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