You can’t help but stare as the roller coaster above slowly reaches its peak before plummeting downwards, accompanied by a chorus of screams. Just watching the cars zip through loops and corkscrews makes your head spin, and you find yourself grateful that you aren’t on that particular ride. You don’t know if your heart could take it.
The repairs at the mansion finished with accompanying fanfare (well, in your head, at least) and you thought you’d be able to sit back and relax for a bit. Your new life had other plans, of course, and the Smashers were absolutely insatiable, so you had been invited to join them to an amusement park. Honestly, you should have declined - you wanted to! - but…
“Pleaaaaase?” Roy had been the one to ask you to join them, giving you puppy dog eyes as he held the brochure out. The park was in a place called Nimbasa City - recently expanded! grand re-opening! - which you recognized as a place in the Pokemon universe.
“You know you can go without me, right?” you tried, still feeling worn out from all the Social Activities and babysitting you’ve been doing lately. The other day, you found DK using Pac-man as a bowling ball to “prank” anyone wandering the halls. Then the following day, you’re pretty sure Villager and Toon Link had a slingshot competition with the mansions’ windows. And then the day after that, Leaf helped you play detective to find out who was stealing all the speakers throughout the mansion, just to find Diddy Kong using them to create - and you quote - a “gaming set-up fit for a king”.
You swear, every time you feel like you can relax and trust the Smashers with your stuff, they go out of your way to prove you wrong in the most bizarre and/or destructive ways possible.
Completely oblivious to your weariness, Roy’s expression remained enthusiastic, even when he gave you a mock-frown. “Sure, but, you said we would hang out together next time everyone was doing something!”
“Yeah, you did!”
Oh right, you did. You did say that after he wasn’t invited to the sleepover. Curse you and your desire to keep everyone happy! Now you have to go! Granted, you didn’t specifically mean you would be hanging out with him - you meant “we” in a general sense - but it seems that’s how he’s chosen to interpret it. And you’re not going to break his heart and his cute smile by admitting otherwise.
And so, after someone consulted Master Hand about building a temporary transporter directly to Nimbasa City, here you are.
“Whoa, it’s even cooler than in the pictures!” Roy, determined to take you up on your offer to spend time together, arrived via teleporter alongside you. While the mansion has been abuzz over another multiverse outing, you have no idea who actually intended on going. It’s already midday, so there are probably plenty of Smashers already here…
Pulling your gaze away from the roller coaster, you notice that your redheaded companion was also staring intently at this Rayquaza-themed deathtrap (appropriately named "The Ozone Layer"). His expression is strained, leading you to believe the both of you are thinking the same thing.
“Why don’t we start with getting something to eat?” you suggest, thinking of the safest option possible. Oh, but if you end up going on rides with a full stomach… Hm, maybe that’s not as safe as you thought. But Roy eagerly takes your suggestion and you have no choice but to follow him to the food court.
“That’s a great idea! I’m dying to see what kind of food this world has!”
You can’t help but agree, but his words have curiosity bubbling within you. “Have you never visited the Pokemon world before?”
“Only once, during Melee!” His grin is almost infectious, though it mellows out as he continues talking. “We never came out here during the last tournament season! ...Or at least, not while I was around.” Roy frowns a moment before putting on another smile, though this one seems a bit more forced. “Melee’s whole thing though was that we were travelling to a new universe for each round of the tournament. For the Pokemon world though, we took a blimp to the stadium, so we didn’t really get to explore…”
That’s right - you forgot Roy was technically only invited to one full tournament, so he wouldn’t have had as much time to relax and travel around with the others. It was only by popular demand that he was invited for the “extra” tournaments, appearing alongside Ryu as a secret opponent for the champions of the mini doubles tournament. They’d both go on to appear in the remaining tournaments and random matchups of the season. While that would have given him a few months to participate in fun activities with the others, you have to imagine a lot of that slows down during the actual tournament season.
“But, a few Smashers and I snuck out between matches to check out the local town.” Roy continues his story sheepishly, smiling fondly at the memory. “And then we uh, went a bit too far… got lost in a cave… We made it back just in time for our next match, but Master Hand really gave us an earful…” He laughs awkwardly, and you find yourself snickering at the idea of Master Hand panicking when he discovered some of his hotshot superstars have gone missing. Haha, that almost happened to you guys the other day, huh? Man, good thing you dodged a bullet there.
“Who all went with you?”
He counts them off on his fingers as he lists everyone. “Me, Pichu, Young Link, Popo, Nana... oh, and Ness. Pikachu ended up being the one who found us lost in the cave.”
You can just imagine the six of them running in circles trying to find the exit, just to have Pikachu show up and use their familiarity of the region to lead them out in mere minutes.
...Huh. Funny, most of those six are Smashers that didn’t get invited back every year afterwards. And you remember there had once been rumours that Ness wasn’t going to be invited back to Brawl…
...Eh, probably just a coincidence. Master Hand wouldn’t exclude someone over an incident like that.
“I’m surprised Pikachu didn’t try to get you even more lost on purpose,” you say offhandedly. Roy’s expression is surprisingly contemplative.
“Nah, Pikachu used to be cool back then. Like, sure they liked to hype up the crowd, but outside of matches they were really chill.” He pauses. “I was surprised to find out they kind of became a jerk. Apparently they’ve just been that way since the start of Brawl.”
“Really?” And here you thought the first tournament had been the catalyst to their inflated ego, where the electric rodent had won both the singles and the doubles tournaments that season. Pikachu’s record during Melee was pretty average… maybe something else happened between that and Brawl? An event none of the Smashers would have known about?
Roy shrugs - he’s just in the dark about it as you are - and you notice you’ve arrived at the food court, signalling the end of the conversation. You spot a Pansage, a Panpour, and a Pansear behind a long counter. Pansage takes orders and hands them to the other two monkeys, who then proceed to rush around unnecessarily chaotically to put the order together. This seems like the type of environment where mistakes are easily made, but a lot of people seem to be eating food from here, so apparently they know what they’re doing…?
As you’re browsing the menu, you spot Leaf and blue Inkling ordering from what looks like a cotton candy cart. The Pokemon trainer takes two large spools of the fluffy treat from the person working the cart, then leans down to hand one to her Inkling friend.
“It’s called Whimsicandy!” she explains, smiling. “It’s soooo good! It’s like eating a cloud!”
Inkling accepts it warily, then cautiously takes a bite from the fluffy goodness. His eyes widen and he starts ravenously eating the rest of it.
You end up ordering a Rawst Burger and a lemonade, while Roy gets a corn dog and a soda pop. On your way to finding somewhere to sit, you spot Falco getting his hot dog stolen by the Duck Hunt Dog. You’re glad he’s too far to notice you laughing.
“Look, there’s space at that table!” Your attention is brought back to Roy, who is pointing at a table with only one other person sitting at it. Oh, it’s Cloud! You smile recalling the epic Minecraft adventure the two of you went on the other day. The teamwork when you mowed down enemies together, the late night talks around the campfire…
...that time you woke up to discover you two were cuddling in your sleep.
Heat rushes to your face to suddenly recall that memory. No! You thought you were OVER that!! Although Cloud had never brought it up, your brain likes to replay it for you every now and then. What if he never brought it up when it happened because he was focused on getting home? What if he thinks about it now, and he hates you?? What if he thinks you’re cringe for being unable to control your cuddling habits in your sleep?? Wait, was it him who cuddled you or the other way around? It doesn’t matter, either way he is probably MORTIFIED by the memory like you are, and has no desire to ever speak with you ever again--
Cloud looks up and spots you, and you freeze like a deer in headlights. He stares silently for a moment, then, expression still unchanging…
...raises his hand and gives you a casual peace sign in greeting.
Oh. Oh HECK YES. Heck. Yes. That’s the universal sign for “bro we are homies”. THE sign for “we are tight dude, let’s hang out”. Cloud is giving you that sign. Your adventure together has made you into BEST FRIENDS. With a giddy smile, you carry your food over yonder, refraining from skipping joyfully over to the table. Thankfully, Roy doesn’t understand the silent exchange between the two of you. Not only that, but he doesn’t even seem to recognize him right away! It’s not until you’ve both rounded the table to sit across from the swordsman that the redhead addresses him.
“Oh hey, you’re that guy… uh, Rain, was it?”
Now that you’re close enough to clearly see Cloud’s face, an involuntary snort arises from your throat as you try to hold back laughter.
“It’s Cloud. Cloud Strife.” Apparently they offer facepainting somewhere at the park, because Cloud’s face is covered in ink that resembles a bunny. When combined with his completely serious expression, you have to hide a smile behind your hand as you sit down.
“Right, that’s it. I knew that.” Roy sits next to you, raising an eyebrow at the swordsman across from you two. “What’s on your face?”
“It’s a rabbit.”
“I guess someone is offering facepainting somewhere?” you clarify helpfully, and Roy’s face lights up in recognition.
“Oh! That sounds fun.” He looks to you with enthusiasm. “Hey, what animal do you think I should get? Heh, probably something fierce, like a lion, or--”
“A puppy,” you reply without hesitation, interrupting his own ideas. Roy looked shocked at your suggestion - almost even offended . Whoops? You're just being honest.
“A-A puppy? Not like… a bigger dog? A wolf, maybe…?”
“I think a puppy would suit you as well,” Cloud agrees. Roy’s jaw drops as he’s left struggling for an objection, but Cloud moves the conversation before he can say anything. “They also do portraits - look.”
He hands you a large rolled up piece of canvas paper that you’ve been curious about for awhile now before returning to picking at his funnel cake (mm, you gotta get one of those later). Roy leans into your personal space to take a look as you unroll it.
Oh my. That is certainly a caricature.
Roy almost immediately lets out a laugh. “Wo-ow! That would explain your face.”
The canvas blocks your vision so you can’t see Cloud’s face, but you can hear him exhale deeply. Rolling the portrait back up, you place it down on the table.
“I like the style! The art is very clean.” You’ve seen a lot of skill levels in the art found in your mansion, and you’ve come to appreciate them all and their distinct vibes. All art is GOOD art! Then of course, there’s your own art to consider… yeesh. “I think the artist really captured your character.”
“That’s what I thought,” Cloud responds with a nod, relaxing in the seat. Roy snorts beside you, and you refrain from elbowing him quiet in favour of shooting him a wry look.
“What, you think you could do better?”
Your challenge seems to actually take him off guard, and he fumbles to regain his confidence. “Uh… pfft. Of course. Anyone could do that.” He tries to laugh confidently, but there’s a clear nervous edge to it. Refusing to show him mercy, you play along by feigning amazement.
“Really? Wow, I’d love to see that. Maybe we should have an art show back at the mansion! Wouldn’t that be fun?”
“O-Ooh, I mean… You really think people would be interested in that…?”
Cloud recognizes the game you are playing and chimes in with an immediate “I would”. You do a gesture as if to say “see??”, smiling bright and devious until his resolve finally breaks.
“F-Fine! I’ll do it! But don’t say I didn’t warn you, cuz I’m… really good!!” His voice shakes with anxiety at the end, and it takes all you have not to burst out laughing. This is good. This is so good. You’ll have to file this “art show” idea away for down the road, so you can spring it on him again unexpectedly. Although, torture and humiliation aside, you actually suddenly are curious if any of the Smashers are secretly artists. You don’t think you’ve ever seen any of them draw! Well, aside from that time Jigglypuff graffitied all over your face.
“Yes! I’m looking forward to it!” With a grin, you end the conversation by finally picking up your burger and taking a bite into it. Huh, it tastes… fruity. Bitter. Wait, that must be because there are Rawst Berries used in it. Guess you should have seen this coming. You don’t hate it, but the taste has definitely taken you off-guard and you’re not sure you like the mix of meat and berry.
You must have been making a face because Cloud slides his funnel cake plate halfway across the table. “Here. I probably won’t finish it anyways.”
Forgetting about his previous worries, Roy smiles and reaches for the plate. “Ooh, don’t mind if I do--” To his dismay, Cloud hits his hand away.
“I didn’t offer it to you.”
Roy looks torn. You’d feel bad for him if it wasn’t so funny. Likewise, you usually try to politely decline gifts so as to not seem greedy, but you are enjoying having fun at Roy’s expense. Not to mention, you and Cloud are homies now. Sharing food is part of the deal. “Thanks!” You put down the burger and reach for a piece of the doughy, sugary treat. Ripping it off, you pop it in your mouth and audibly hum in delight. Hehe, you’re a real devil!! If you wanted to be really mean, you could mention how sad it is that Roy can’t know how good this is, but you are not that cruel. Not right now, at least.
Between stealing chunks of funnel cake and continuing to try finishing the burger (nnnnnope, still tastes weird!), you let your mind wander to thoughts regarding the swordsman across from you. It honestly still amazes you that he’s part of the Smash tournament. What kind of strings did Master Hand have to pull to get Cloud on the roster not just once, but twice? Did he have to bargain with his manager, perhaps?
“Where’s your manager?” you ask as you rip a part of funnel cake in two. Cloud looks like he’s all alone here, with the Moogle nowhere in sight. At the reminder, Cloud pulls out his phone (oh he has one??), glances at it, then puts it away.
“Mosley is finalizing my contract with Master Hand. They were taking a while so I decided to come here on my own.”
“Well aren’t you the risktaker?” you joke. Cloud says nothing, just takes another bite of funnel cake. Roy had been listening to your exchange silently, finally taking the moment to cut in sounding as nonchalant as he can.
“Soooo… you have a manager? That’s cool! How did you get one?”
The blond doesn’t respond immediately. “...Mosley came to me and said he could make me a star. I said sure.” He shrugs. Roy looks disappointed.
“I just have to wait for someone to want to be my manager?? Aw man…”
“Aren’t things busy in your world?” you ask, amused. “Do you really have time for all this multiverse stuff?” You’re done eating so you get up to bring your garbage to the bin. Roy gets up to follow you.
“I mean… I guess… But I think I could do both!” He tosses his garbage in the bin after you do. “Just, you know, what if someone wants me in a movie or something? Or maybe Master Hand is having trouble contacting me for the next Smash tournament? I think having a manager would help with that, right?”
Ah. You understand now.
“You’re right about that.” You didn’t realize it until he said something, but Cloud got up to follow you two as well. “Having a manager does help you get roles. I never have to worry about any of that thanks to Mosley.”
“Wow…” Visibly frustrated, Roy sighs. “One day I’ll get one…”
“Hey, why don’t we go on some rides?” you offer, hoping to lighten the mood. It works: Roy almost instantly starts smiling again.
“Yeah! Which one should we go on first? I’ll go on ANY ride, no matter how big!”
Your eyes drift to the Rayquaza Coaster - the tallest ride here. You watch the green dragon train plummet and zip through a string of loop-de-loops.
...You think you’re going to have to work your way up to that one.
“Let’s start with something in the middle,” you suggest, tearing your eyes away from the big scary roller coaster to address Roy again. “Something that won’t make us lose our lunch, but is still exciting.”
“Good idea!” Roy hums and looks around. “Oh, what about that one?” Before you can respond, he’s running towards a ride called “The Silver Stunfisk”. You hurry to follow him. The ride is silver, brown, and yellow, and it’s the type of ride with the seats where your legs are dangling in the air. The seats in question are designed to look like the Pokemon Stunfisk, and are big enough to fit three people in a row. The track looks pretty short and doesn’t feature any loops, big drops, or corkscrews, so it looks like the perfect first ride for you both. Or, ah, you three.
You don’t notice Cloud has followed you until you’ve gotten in line.
“Hey!” Once Roy notices him, he addresses him with a sour look on his face. “What are you doing here??”
“I’m going to go on this ride too.” The blond looks entirely unperturbed by the other’s frustration. He might not even notice it. Regardless, you step in quickly to clear the air.
“That actually works out pretty well for us! I think we’d feel more comfortable sitting next to you than sitting next to a stranger. Right Roy?”
You give the boy A Look. You’re not sure what Roy has against Cloud - some sort of internal rivalry, maybe?? - but you don’t want it to get in the way of the latter’s good day. If he wants to join you two on the rides, then that’s fine! Why would there be a problem with that? Whatever the problem is, Roy still looks displeased, but manages to put on a (rather forced) smile for you.
“Y-Yeah, I guess you’re right…”
You thankfully don’t have to fill the space with idle chatter, because the line is short enough that it’s your turn next. Roy grabs your arm and rushes to the front of the ride, where you take the middle and the two boys take the seats to your left and right. As soon as you’re comfortable, you pull down the yellow harness and wait for the ride to start.
“This is so exciting!” To your left, Roy looks like he’s practically vibrating in his seat from anticipation.
“Have you ever been on a roller coaster before?” you ask. He shakes his head, grin still plastered on his face. You smile back. “Well, you’re in for a treat! They’re really fun - it’s easy to get hooked as you work your way up to the scariest rides.”
You’ve been to your fair share of amusement parks during your lifetime, but it has been awhile since your last visit. Even though this one is a pretty tame ride in comparison to others at the park and others you’ve been on, you can’t help but be excited as well.
When you look to your right to see if the blond swordsman shares your enthusiasm, you find that Cloud’s expression is as neutral as always. The inside of his mind is a complete enigma to you...
The park attendant managing the ride comes around to check everyone’s harness is secure, and then goes to the booth to start the ride. You’re a little startled when the ride lurches into motion, but quickly relax as excitement takes over you. You’ve got a big dumb grin on your face as the ride behinds to ascend slowly up the small hill. With your grip loose on the harness, you take a peek at your two neighbours to see how they’re feeling. Cloud remains completely stone-faced, while Roy…
...Roy has gone very pale.
“Are you okay?” You have to shout over the noise of the ride to be heard. Roy barely glances in your direction, his gaze fixated on the drop up ahead. He’s holding onto the harness so tightly that his knuckles are white.
“I-I’m fine! I’m not scared!!”
Amused, you hold out your hand to him. “You can hold my hand if it would make you feel better.”
A bit of colour returns to his face. “N-No! I-I told you, I’m fiiiiIIIIIIIIIIAA AAAAAAAA AAAAAA”
As Roy is talking, the ride reaches the top of the hill and drops downwards, rushing and twisting along the track. Roy blindly grabs your hand and squeezes it tight as he screams for the entire ride. Meanwhile, you are practically giggling the entire time - both from his behaviour, and from the thrill of the ride. The wind whips by as you soar by the trees and are offered a glance at the rest of the park. You think you spot a few familiar splashes of colour that could be other Smashers, but you’re going too fast to recognize any of them.
After a minute, the ride slows to a stop back at the boarding terminal. Despite your attempts to separate yourself from him, Roy does not let go of your hand even when the harness automatically lifts to free you. He seems to be completely petrified from fear - and a little wobbly - so you have to guide him to the exit. Once you’ve stepped off the exit ramp, you clear your throat to speak to your parkmates.
“Everybody have fun?”
“Yes,” Cloud replies almost instantly. He still has the same neutral expression as always. Roy doesn’t respond until you nudge him a bit.
“Mm-hm! Y-Yeah! L-Lot’s of fun! Wh-What’s the next one, I’m r-ready for it!!”
Oh dear, he seems so desperate to prove himself that you could probably make him go on ride after ride… but you decide to take mercy on him for now. “Actually while we were up there, I saw some fun games nearby we could play. Why don’t we try those out for a bit?”
“Oh! Oh yeah that’s a great idea!!” All at once, Roy seems to relax and a genuine (if not a bit strained) enthusiasm returns to him. Cloud agrees with your idea, and so you lead them over to the booths you saw. Along the way, you loosen your grip on Roy’s hand as if you silently tell him “ok, you can let go now”, but he never lets go of your hand.
Ah geez, this is kind of awkward. Well, that’s okay, he’s probably still a little on edge. Instead of it being intensely embarrassing like it would be with numerous other Smashers, it’s more like you’re holding your little brother’s hand so he doesn’t get lost at the supermarket.
Now, which game to play? You look around as the three of you walk together. You see DK playing Whack-A-Drilbur, slamming down on the toy moles popping out of the machine with a giant rubber hammer. A little further in you see Megaman, orange Inkling, Ness, and Richter playing that water gun game - y’know, the one you have to shoot the center to make the gauge go up? Ness ends up winning and - apparently on a winning streak - trades in his Stufful plush for a giant Bewear plushie. The other three are in awe at how big this bear is. It’s literally bigger than Ness himself! Satisfied with his winnings, Ness hops off the stool and leaves the booth, carrying the Bewear on his back.
“New challengers!!” A new, unfamiliar voice startles you from your browsing. “Come, approach me! Test your might!” Looking around for the source of the voice, your eyes land on the dunk tank nearby. Wait, the man sitting inside looks familiar… is that…?
“Ryu??” Roy completes the thought as all three of you walk towards the tank. Yeah, that’s Ryu, one of the guests from the Street Fighter tournament! He’s wearing his signature white gi and red headband, and he looks… considerably dry for someone sitting in a dunk tank. This is the first time you’re meeting him - he hasn’t come to the mansion yet (as far as you know) - so you’re definitely surprised that your first encounter is… this.
“Ah, Roy and Cloud Strife! A pleasant surprise.” Ryu has his arms crossed as he chills in the dunking booth, looking through the cage with a hardened gaze. “You’re not the first of our Smash Brothers brethren I’ve seen today. Is this a field trip?”
“Yeah!” Roy replies enthusiastically, happy to see his Smash 4 doubles partner again. “We read the brochure and thought it sounded fun, so we got Master Hand to set up a teleporter here.”
“Is that so? Well, that’s convenient for me. I’ll be able to easily join you all once I’m done here.”
Roy gasps. “You were invited back this year too?!” Ryu nods.
“I was. I would have been there sooner, but I made a promise with the people of this city that I would help with their park’s grand reopening.”
So THAT’S why he was in the dunk tank. Well, that’s awfully nice of him! Roy, on the other hand, doesn’t quite make the connection.
“Sooo… what are you doing in there?”
“It’s a dunk tank,” Cloud explains, gesturing as he does. “It’s a game where you try to drop the person inside the tank into the water. You throw a ball at the target, and if you hit it hard enough, the person inside will fall.”
“Exactly!” Ryu confirms. “It’s a simple test of strength. Would you like to try?”
“Sure!” Roy smiles as someone else helping run the game brings over three weighty plastic balls. The redhead takes one and throws it as hard as he can.
It misses, hitting the tarp behind the target instead.
“That was just a warm up!” Roy informs you as he takes another ball. He throws again.
It misses. You wonder how many times that Magikarp drawing on the tarp has been hit today.
“I-I’m better with a sword,” the boy says defensively, clearly embarrassed. He surprises you by holding the last ball out to you. “Here! You try!”
“Okay.” You take it and focus intently on the target. If you focus on the exact spot where you want the ball to go, that’s supposed to help, right? With a wind up, you throw the ball with all your might and…!
Yeah uh, there’s a reason you never played pitcher during that baseball game awhile back.
“An admirable attempt!” Ryu shouts. “Hone your focus and return if you’d like to try again. ...Ah, you’re back! Have you found your inner strength?”
You look over to see Lucario and Little Mac approach the tank. Unbeknownst to you, Little Mac had been here earlier, trying to dunk Ryu but to no avail. So he found someone he thought would be capable of doing it.
Mac gives a determined nod to the aura Pokemon. The park attendant brings the three plastic balls to them, and Lucario takes one. You watch with bated breath as Lucario closes their eyes and uses their sixth sense to be attuned to their surroundings. After a few seconds of concentration, he throws the ball at the target. It’s a direct hit!
...But Ryu doesn’t fall.
Lucario - without opening their eyes - takes the next ball and throws it with more force. It once again hits the bullseye, but isn’t enough to drop Ryu into the water. More determined than ever, Lucario takes the last ball and puts all his strength into his throw, letting out a grunt as the ball goes flying!
The result is the same.
“This game must be rigged,” Little Mac finally says. From inside the tank, Ryu shakes his head.
“No. Your body and mind just aren’t synchronized. Only then will you have the power necessary to succeed.”
Fed up with this, Little Mac approaches the target and punches it with all his might. The target swings backwards to acknowledge his power, but Ryu remains unmoved. Instead of admonishing the boxer for cheating, Ryu simply echoes his previous statement.
Aren’t these supposed to be games that kids could win at?
“Hey, why don’t we try playing something else?” you say to both Roy and Cloud. The former looks a little disappointed to be giving up so easily, but nods in agreement. The blond, however, keeps his gaze fixed on the target.
“Go on ahead without me,” Cloud says, “I’d like to try my hand at this too.”
Before you can offer to stay til he’s done, Roy grabs your arm with a grin and already starts pulling you away. “Sure thing! See you later, Rain!”
As you are dragged away, you look back to see Cloud trying and failing to dunk Ryu. But despite his failures, he tries again. You’ll have to ask him later how it went! There were some cool prizes on that table, so it would be awesome if he managed to win one…
You and Roy try your hand at a few more games, this time with a much better success rate. Neither of you manage to win any big prizes, but you managed to win a Zorua plush from a balloon popping game, while Roy wins a Tepig plush from Ring Toss. Along the way, you catch sight of several Smashers playing the games, including Red who seems to be trying to clear out all the Pikachu plushies from every game. He has so many already that Squirtle and Ivysaur have to help carry them.
Finally you reach… the dread Ping Pong game.
“Ohhh, we shouldn’t play this one,” you say to Roy as soon as you’re close enough to realize what it is. It’s that horrible game where you have to throw the ping pong balls into the fish bowls. “I’m pretty sure this one is always rigged. It’s almost impossible to win.”
“But look at the prizes!” Roy points to the giant Pokemon plushies hanging from the tent. It looks like you can also win actual fish Pokemon here too - there’s a bunch swimming around in a tank. “C’mon, let’s just try! I bet I can win!”
You have no choice but to follow Roy over to the booth. It seems you’re not the only Smashers who’ve approached this game today - you see both R.O.B. and Greninja taking turns trying to win this game. Judging by the lack of prizes in their corners, it seems neither of them have been successful yet.
“Wahahaha! More suckers-- err, I mean… More customers have come to play Wario’s game! Step right up! Win some fabulous prizes! It’s so easy even a baby could do it!”
Oh this game is definitely rigged if Wario is the one running it.
“I’ll try!” Roy says excitedly, not knowing the danger that lurks ahead. Wario looks pleased to have found another chump willing to play his game.
“Sure thing kid, let’s see that money first though…”
Roy puts down a few Pokedollars on the table and after counting them, Wario brings him a cup full of ping pong balls. The mustachioed man has a lazy grin on his face as he watches, one by one, every single ball bounce off the edges of the bowls.
“Wanna try again?”
“O-Of course!” Roy puts down more money. He again goes through the entire cup without landing a single shot. You can practically hear the amusement oozing from Wario’s voice.
“Ooh! You were so close! I betcha it would just take one more try…”
Determined, Roy puts down more money. But instead of trying again, he pushes the cup over to you. “Why don’t you try?”
“Are you sure? It’s your money…”
“It’s fine, really!”
You stare at the table full of fish bowls. “...Okay, but after this I think we should go do something else.”
You really don’t have any confidence in yourself, but you give it your best shot anyways. As expected, each ball bounces off the glass rims. When you’re down to your last ball, you’ve pretty much given up on winning, so you give it a lazy, half-hearted throw, fully expecting to miss again.
Maybe it’s a trick of the light, but you think you see a faint hazy purple glow around the ball… before it lands directly in one of the bowls.
“...You did it!!” Everybody is stunned into silence for a moment, but Roy is the first to break it with a cheer. You’re in a daze - did that really happen? are your eyes playing tricks on you? are you even awake right now?? - but break into a grin and excited cheers of your own as you and Roy share a high five. You won!! Wow wow wow!!!
“Aghhh, you just got lucky.” Wario looks particularly displeased, refusing to even look your way. “Hurry up and pick a prize already.”
Overwhelmed and still reeling from shock, you have to mull it over for a moment before you finally pick out the giant Volcarona plush. It’s almost bigger than your entire body. You give it a happy squeeze and get ready to leave and do something else, but your eyes are suddenly drawn to R.O.B. and Greninja. Although they are silent, they both look a little jealous of your win.
Steeling your resolve, you hand Volcarona to Roy to hold - nearly knocking him over - and turn back to Wario. You slam down some money on the table.
“I wanna try again!” That win was probably a fluke, but you’ve decided to fall for the Gambler’s Trap, where one win makes you think you are "on a roll", as they say in the biz. You’re only going to try once, you swear! It’s just that, if you have any luck in you, you want to try using that to win prizes for your other friends. Wario doesn’t look too pleased to be giving you another chance, but he takes the money and gives you the ping pong balls anyways. One by one, you fail each throw. Just as you’re coming down from your winner’s high and accepting: yeah, it was just a fluke, you throw the second-to-last ball in the cup and it lands directly in one of the bowls.
“I DID IT AGAIN??” The rush returns to you all at once and you let out an excited squeal. You faintly notice how unhappy Wario looks before you turn to R.O.B. - the one closest to you between him and Greninja - and ask what prize he wants.
He happily rolls away from the booth with a giant Bisharp plush.
The next time you try, your very first throw lands in a bowl. When you ask Greninja what they want, the ninja frog silently points at the large fish tank filled with Water-type Pokemon. You don’t need any other information - you know exactly what they want. Wario looks very disgruntled as he drops a Tympole into your arms, which you hand off to Greninja with a smile. Greninja carefully retrieves the tadpole Pokemon and, after giving you a look of silent gratitude, hops away with their new friend in tow.
“I’ll win you something next!” you tell Roy, brimming with confidence thanks to your winning streak. Unfortunately, Wario is obviously done with your good luck, because he slams down a “GONE TO LUNCH” sign.
“Sorry, game’s closed! Maybe you can come back later.” Without waiting for your response, Wario scoops up all the Pokedollars he’s gotten from people and rushes off. You frown and turn back to Roy.
“Sorry. We can try coming back later?”
Roy shakes his head, adjusting the giant plush in his grip so he can see you better. “That’s okay! Hey, let’s try playing more games!”
It seems he’s still not ready to try the rides again. You do eventually want to get back to the rides, but for now you nod and the two of you start walking away from the Ping Pong game.
“Do you want me to take Volcarona back?”
“It’s fine! I can carry it-- augh!!”
Unable to see where he’s going, Roy bumps into a large cardboard box and trips. As you help him to his feet, you give the box a wry smile.
“Snake?? You mean... that guy who's one of the Smashers??” He stares hard at the box. “How can you tell that’s him?”
“Just a hunch.” It’s become a habit for you to greet every conspicuous cardboard box you pass. If Snake is hiding in those boxes, he never responds to you, so you never know if he’s actually there… but you have fun guessing anyways. You pick up Volcarona as you address the box one last time:
“Snake, I think you’d have more fun if you were actually doing stuff like playing games and going on rides instead of just snooping around. That’s just my opinion. See ya around!” You give the cardboard box a wave as you turn and walk away. Roy follows you, looking back curiously to watch the box. You make a point to keep your gaze away from the box until you play a couple more games in the area. After you do so, you look back to see if the box is still there.
There’s no trace of it anywhere.
You mentally pat yourself on the back for being a genius. Snake’s gotta step up his game if he wants to uncover all your funny little secrets.
Anyways, now that you have the ultimate prize that is Volcarona, you’re admittedly not as invested in trying the games anymore. Roy seems determined to get a prize as good as yours though, so you follow him around to try more games. Along the way, you encounter Robin who’s invested in getting as many prizes as she can for her daughter. You can tell because every time she wins something, she cackles and shouts “Allll for Lucy! All the best prizes for Lucy!!!”. The two of you avoid the games she’s playing to avoid her competitive wrath.
Eventually, you realize you’ve gone through the entire games area. You’re trying to nonchalantly return to where the rides are, but Roy points you in the opposite direction.
“Hey, why don’t we try that place over there?” He’s pointing at the giant stadium on the north side of town. “The map says it’s a sports stadium! I think a game is going to start soon; we should watch it!”
Finding yourself unable to say no to that face, you let him drag you in the direction of the stadium. But along the way, the two of you are nearly shoved out of the way by a retreating disgruntled Charizard. You watch the giant lizard Pokemon stomp away for a moment before looking around to see what put him in that mood.
“Whoaaaa! I can’t believe you beat Charizard!” To your right, you see a bunch of kids crowding around a large bipedal black-and-red cat Pokemon. Among the crowd, you’re able to pick out the Ice Climbers, Lucas, Toon Link, and Villager. Nana is jumping up and down in excitement as she continues: “I thought Charizard was one of the strongest Pokemon ever, so you must be REALLY strong!!”
The cat Pokemon lets out a hearty, confident laugh and flexes. All the kids cheer. Nana and Toon Link jump up and start hanging from the Pokemon’s arms. Beside you, Roy is staring at the scene curiously.
“Is that a Pokemon? I’ve never seen that one before.”
“Yep, that’s an Incineroar,” you explain. “They’re usually native to the Alola region, but I’m guessing this one is here in Unova because it’s the one that’s joining the Smash tournament?”
“WHAT?! That big guy??”
As if they heard you talking about them, Incineroar growls and looks in your direction. He points at Roy and does a thumbs down. The children start cheering even louder. Roy looks to you frantically for an explanation.
“What did that mean??”
“I think they’re challenging you to a fight?” You maneuver the Volcarona in your arms so you can do the thumbs down gesture to help explain. “This means ‘you’re going down!’. Or well, that's usually how it's interpreted. Some actually think the meaning of the thumbs up and thumbs down gestures were reversed over time-- ”
“What! I’d never lose to some big kitty cat! Here--” Falling for the taunt, Roy gives you his bag full of prizes and runs at Incineroar with a war cry. Incineroar grins and suplexes him, not even giving the boy a chance to attack. As Roy lays on the ground, Incineroar poses for the crowd. Everyone is cheering.
...If you try to help, will that happen to you too?
You hear someone calling your name, and when you turn you see Marth, Shulk, and Richter approaching you. While the latter two look fairly normal, Marth is wearing cargo shorts, flip-flops, and a short-sleeve blue-green shirt with pink Alomomola printed all over it.
“I didn’t know you had come along today!” Marth is giving you a warm smile, and it takes all your strength to focus on his face and not his fashion choices. “If you’re not doing anything, would you like to join us on the rides?”
Finally! An excuse to return to that side of the park! “Sure! Oh, but… I was hanging out with Roy, and he’s…” You awkwardly gesture to where Roy is still trying to fight Incineroar. He is not doing very well. As if noticing him for the first time, the boys look concerned about the battle before them.
“Don’t worry, I’ll look after him,” Richter says, stepping away from your group with the intent to go help. “You three go on ahead, and we can catch up later.”
“Okay, sounds good,” Shulk says with a nod. Before you can go your separate ways, you hand Richter the bag that holds all of Roy’s prizes. You briefly consider giving him your Volcarona and Zorua plushies to hold, but… you think they will be safer if you yourself are holding onto them.
Also they are your friends now, and you want to spend time with your friends.
As Richter rushes over to help Roy, you go with Marth and Shulk back towards the heart of the park. While neither of them are scaredy cats like Roy, they’re not quite the level of thrill seekers you were secretly hoping for. All the rides the three of you go on are more intense than The Silver Stunfisk, but the two swordsmen notably avoid the rides that go upside-down or have too big of drops. Thankfully this works out in your favour for now, because you enjoy taking Volcarona and Zorua onto the rides with you! On each ride that fits two or four people in a car, you fill the empty space by buckling in Volcarona in the seat beside you, and then holding Zorua close. These two are your date and your child respectively, and you are having a wonderful time at the Nimbasa City amusement park together as a family.
You of course do not voice this fantasy out loud to the people you are actually supposed to be hanging out with.
The next ride you’re all going on is called The Scrambler, which seems to have an Exeggcute theme to it. As you get in line, you see Bowser and Bowser Jr. run down the fast pass lane. This seems to be a popular ride with a decently long line, which means you have a bit of time to socialize before it can be your turn to board.
“So… have you guys been having fun?” If your attempt at small talk sounds as awkward as it feels, neither Marth nor Shulk point it out. The former gives you a warm smile as he responds to your question:
“Yes, it has been rather nice to be able to explore a place like this at our own pace. I’ve started to see the appeal of these ‘amusement parks’.”
Shulk nods in agreement and then adds: “The last time I went to one was during the previous Smash tournament. It was the first time Lucina, Robin, and I had ever been to one, so Captain Falcon offered to be our guide.” The boy suddenly has a thousand yard stare, as if reliving a horrible memory. “It was rather… overwhelming. Her mother seemed to have fun, but Lucina said she was never going to go to one of these parks ever again.”
That would explain why you’ve seen Robin without her daughter today.
“That was a park in Sonic’s world,” Marth clarifies for you, “which was a particularly bad time from what I heard.”
“We went into a House of Mirrors,” Shulk continues, “and there were… trap doors. In the floor. It felt like we were lost in there for hours...”
“My first experience was during Brawl,” Marth says to bring the conversation away from whatever death trap Shulk had experienced. “Off the coast of Isle Delfino is an island with an amusement park on it. It’s a rather pleasant place now that I think back to it - much smaller than this park - but…” He chuckles weakly at the memory. “I suppose Peach was trying to work our way up the rides, but I’m afraid the roller coasters and the pirate ship were too much for me at the time.”
You can’t help but be amused by their bad amusement park experiences. Of course their first times would be overwhelming - the worlds they came from probably had no equivalent inventions that could match the thrill factor of even the most basic of roller coasters. Well, Shulk's world has mechs and flying machines but it's not like they were for recreational use. You’re glad they both seemed to have warmed up to all this though.
“How about you?” Shulk asks. “Have you ever been to a place like this before?”
“Oh yeah, tons of times. I used to go all the time when I was a kid.”
Both of the boys are in awe. They probably go so infrequently that amusement park visits feel like a Big Event to them. Your memories are hazy enough that you don’t remember exactly how many times you’ve been to one of these parks, but you remember the small temporary park that would be set up by the beach every summer. It wasn’t as glamorous as the big parks (some of which you’ve also been to), but as a result it was also much cheaper.
Man, it’s been awhile since you thought about that particular park. You would have still been a kid the last time you went. You wonder if it’s still there…?
“I suppose that makes sense, considering where you live.” Marth’s voice brings you out of your reminiscing. “I’m sure you’ve been to plenty of amusement parks all over the greater multiverse. Ones bigger than any either of us have been to.”
Caught off guard by the assumption, you’re at a loss on how to respond for a moment. The line moves forward, and you see the Bowsers running through the fast lane again to have another go at the ride.
“...Yeah,” you lie, having trouble keeping eye contact. You hold Volcarona tighter to yourself, hoping the size of its wings makes it hard to see your expression. “I’ve been to so many that I don’t even remember them all! I don’t even remember where the first one I went to was, cuz I was really young, haha…”
“That’s incredible,” Shulk says earnestly. “I can’t imagine living where you do. To technically be able to go anywhere you want at any time… I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“You get used to it after a while.” Now that part isn’t a lie. While it's all still thrilling to you, the whole interdimensional travel thing is just an accepted part of your normal life now.
“I suppose… I can’t imagine how long that would take though. I’m still finding books in your library that I want to read.”
“Now that’s surprising,” Marth says teasingly. “With how much time you and Robin spend in there, I would have thought you two would have read every book there is to read already!”
The blond smiles. “Not at all. Have you actually been in there yet? You can hardly see the other end from the entrance. Even if both Robins and I split the work, we probably wouldn’t even read half of what the collection has to offer before the tournament season is over!”
“Definitely not,” you confirm. “I’m pretty sure there are still books in there that I haven’t read all the way through.” And as an interdimensional hermit, one of the only things you can do other than sleep and play pretend is read. “Speaking of Robin, did he stay behind again?”
The male tactician not only sat out on the tennis tournament and stayed home on the beach trip, but hasn’t participated in any of the other activities the Smashers do together since he arrived here. At least, not any of the ones you've been a part of. Apparently he was helping the effort to get you and the others back from the Minecraft world, but besides that? You hardly see the guy! He’s probably one of the Smashers you’ve interacted with the least. The two of you didn’t even share a proper introduction - the day he arrived, the other Robin tried to introduce the two of you to each other, but right after giving your name, he said he remembered something important he had to do and hurried off…
Part of you wonders if he hates you, and that’s why he avoids you. But… you can’t imagine why! After all, you’ve never met him before the Smash Ultimate season! Robin said - err, lady Robin, of course - the two of them are actually pretty similar, but you haven’t really seen much evidence of that at all.
“Actually, he came here with us and Richter,” Marth explains, surprising you. “The four of us were together up until we met up with you. Robin said he saw something he wanted to study and that he would meet up later.”
“Wow, I’m surprised. I didn’t know he liked going out like this.”
“Now that you mention it, he’s been a bit more reclusive this year...” Shulk muses. “Last year both Robins were always eager to explore new places, but I guess he’s been staying at the mansion more this time…” He smiles, a hint of a laugh in his tone. “Well, him getting distracted and missing the point of the trip isn’t anything new, at least. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him again until we’re back at the mansion. Robin is the type of person who - well actually, both of them are - they’re the type of people who won’t stop at something until they’re satisfied.”
“You say that like you’re not the same way!” Marth laughs. Shulk smiles sheepishly.
“I suppose you’re right! I guess that’s why I get along with them so well.”
For some reason, this conversation puts your mind at ease. Yeah, Robin probably isn’t avoiding you! He’s probably just like that when he finds something he’s interested in. You’re sure once he’s cleared out your library of everything that interests him, you’ll see him around more often.
Anyways, the mention of Richter reminds you of the two you left behind.
“I hope Roy and Richter are okay,” you say, idly looking around the park to see if they happen to be nearby. “It’s been awhile, and they haven’t met up with us yet…”
“It’s a big park,” Marth replies as he looks around for any trace of them as well. “I’m sure they’re fine and looking for us now. Perhaps we should try looking for them after this?”
You and Shulk agree to that plan.
For the third time that day, Bowser runs by you in the fast pass lane.
“Bwhahahaha! So long, chumps!”
Junior is snickering as he dashes after his dad. Unlike the last two times however, he skids to a stop after spotting you.
“Whoa! Where did you get that??” He reaches for the Volcarona plushie in your arms. “I want one!”
“From a game.” You instinctively move Volcarona away from his grabby hands. You are very generous, but this? This is your beloved. No one can have them but you. “On the other side of the park, there’s a game where you throw ping pong balls into fish bowls, and it has lots of big prizes like this.”
“Coooool! I’m gonna go get one!!” Excited, Junior sprints back the way he came, abandoning the ride… and his fast pass.
“Wait, you dropped something!!” You quickly hand Volcarona to Shulk and duck under the railing to pick up the wristband that fluttered to the ground. Looks like it ripped right off… sheesh, you don’t remember these things being that flimsy. Unfortunately, Junior doesn’t hear you calling him, leaving you at a loss. Should you give chase to deliver it? Or should you just hold onto it until the next time you see him? Or maybe you can--
“HEY! Where’s Junior going??” You almost jump out of your skin when you hear Bowser behind you, having doubled back to see what happened to his son.
“Uhh, there was a game he wanted to play.” You hold out the broken wristband for the Koopa King to take. “He dropped this.”
Bowser’s expression can only be described as flabbergasted as he stares at the wristband in your hand. He clearly doesn’t know what to do about this unexpected turn of events! You push the broken band closer to him, hoping he’ll take it so you can get back in line, but he surprises you by grabbing your arm and dragging you down the fast pass lane.
“WELL SOMEONE NEEDS TO GO ON THE RIDE WITH ME!”
No matter how much you squirm or protest, Bowser refuses to let go. You’re helpless as you watch Marth, Shulk, and Volcarona - all very worried about you - get further and further away. Ugh, you were finally close enough to be in the next batch of riders, but you didn't even get to go on the ride with the people you were waiting with!! This is just too sad. You wish you were at least still holding Volcarona so you could at least be with the one you love the most. This is going to go down in history as the saddest love story of all time.
Resigning yourself to your fate - whatever, it’s just one ride! - the gate opens and you follow Bowser to his Exeggcute-shaped seat of choice. He eagerly sits down, and you make sure to sit left of him, placing you on the outer seat. You know how this ride works! When the ride starts spinning, everyone in the car gets pushed inwards, meaning whoever sits on the inside is going to get squished. You do not want to get squished by Bowser and his spiky shell. And since it’s just the two of you, you don’t have to get squished by anybody. Guess that’s a silver lining to all this…
As soon as you’ve thunked that thought, someone tall and looming sits down to your right and closes the safety bar on you. You can’t help but balk at who it is.
Ganondorf grins down evilly at you. “Why are you so surprised? Am I not allowed to enjoy the festivities as well?”
You can’t help but notice that, much like the Bowsers, there is a fast pass band on his wrist. While you’re struggling to come up with a response, the Koopa King snarls and tries to lean over you to glare at his eternal Smash rival.
“NO! Go enjoy yourself somewhere else!!”
“Aww, why are you acting like that, old friend? Don’t tell me I’m interrupting your little date.”
“I SAID GO AWAY!!” Bowser tries to lift the safety bar so he can force Ganondorf to leave, but it’s locked tight. Suddenly, the ride lurches into motion, and that’s when you realize…
You are stuck between these two on The Scrambler.
You haven’t been scared of this ride since you were a kid, but today you find yourself gripping the safety bar for dear life. On your left is a very moody Bowser, and on your right is a very smug Ganondorf, and as the ride begins to slowly pick up speed, you brace yourself for the inevitability that you are going to be crushed between them.
Before you can be completely consumed by despair, you see that Marth and Shulk made it onto the ride during this cycle, and they have your Volcarona plushie sitting between them. God you wish you could be over there.
You wish you could be anywhere but here.
But it seems you’re simply not allowed to have a single day with the Smashers where nothing extremely unpleasant happens.
The spinning gets faster and, as predicted, the force of the spin pushes Ganondorf’s body into yours, which pushes you into Bowser. Ganondorf starts laughing - not a laugh of mirth, but an evil maniacal one. This in turn makes Bowser start laughing his own dark way, and soon the two of them are all you can hear as they laugh louder and louder. Later you will look back on this like it was a bad fever dream, but currently: this quickly becomes the longest ride of your life, and you feel like you’ve dissociated from it completely. For the first time today, you are without joy. Amusement parks are very bad actually, and you are glad you stopped going to them. You're never going to one ever again.
After what feels like an eternity, the ride gradually slows to a stop. Bowser and Ganondorf are still cackling as the safety bar lifts and they emerge from their seats, and then they immediate engage in fisticuffs as they are exiting the boundaries of the ride. The person managing the ride calls security, and that’s when you decide: ‘hey. I don’t want to be involved in this!’
So you leave.
“Are you alright?!” Marth and Shulk hurry out after you, both wearing expressions of concern. Before you reply, you immediately take Volcarona and Zorua back from them for emotional support.
“Uh-huh,” you reply weakly, resisting the urge to check your arms for bruises. That’s when you notice: you still have Bowser Jr.’s fast pass wristband! Bowser never ended up taking it back from you! “I’m gonna go find Bowser Jr. and give this back.”
“We shall accompany you--”
“No, you guys should start looking for Richter and Roy. This park is so big, it would be easier if we split up anyways. The game Bowser Jr. should be at is past where we first met up, so I can check for them along the way.”
You think you need some breathing room after that experience.
Marth hesitates a moment, then finally nods. “Alright. We’ll see you later then.”
With a smile and a nod of your own, you go your separate way from Shulk and Marth. Too late you realize you should have agreed on a meeting place in case you have trouble finding each other again, but when you look back, they’re already gone from your sight.
Oh well. You’re sure it’ll work out in the end.
You begin the long trek back to the other side of the park. Along the way, you see the Wii Fit Trainers walk by. They both are wearing face paint - the female one has very detailed eyes painted onto her, while her twin brother has the gay pride flag on his face. Heck yeah. Happy PRIDE MONTH everybody. If you're reading this in any month that's not June, then happy WRATH MONTH! All months belong to the LGBT community now. That's the law.
When you reach the spot you and Roy first encountered Incineroar, you can’t find any trace of Roy, Incineroar, or Richter anywhere. All the kids that were with Incineroar are gone as well. Shrugging it off, you continue onwards until you finally reach the booth you’re looking for. Junior is there, tirelessly trying to win the game, but you notice that Wario is nowhere to be seen. Instead, a regular staff member of the park is running the event.
“Grrr! I should have had it that time!” Bowser Jr. looks like he’s been at this for awhile. “This game is rigged!”
“Want me to try?” you offer as you approach. Junior pouts.
“I can do it myself!”
“I know you can, but I had a lucky streak in this game so I figured I’d offer anyways.”
The Koopa prince grumbles and gives it a few more tries. Not even a single ball lands in the bowl. Finally fed up with this game, he thrusts a ping pong ball into your hands.
“You do it! You’re the host, so that means it’s your job to get me whatever I want anyway!!”
“That’s true,” you agree, amused. Ahh, what technique did you use for this again…? You’ve completely forgotten. Well, there’s no way you can win this game four times in a row, right? Maybe you can just give it your best and then manifest something for Junior when you get home.
You throw the ball.
Clink, clink, clink. It bounces off the edges of the bowls. Yeah, looks like you’ve lost your touch. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
...But then something unexpected happens. As the ball clears the range of the bowls - bouncing off the last one so there’s no way you can get a victory now - a hazy glow envelops it and it is suddenly pulled backwards. The ball unnaturally flies into the bowl and remains there. Bowser Jr. is cheering, meanwhile you and the person in the booth are confused.
“...Huh. Say, you’re not using any psychic Pokemon to cheat, are you?”
“N-No! I’m not even a trainer, I swear!” Instinctively, you look around for anyone who could be helping you - you’re pretty sure you saw that glow back then too! - but no one jumps out at you. The closest thing you see to a psychic in the area is a Mewtwo statue in the distance but, well, that’s just a statue. You think so, at least. Before you can think about it too hard, you hear the staff member sigh.
“You know what? No one’s won this game all day, so I’ll let you pick something anyways. Go ahead.”
“YEAH! I want that one!” Bowser Jr. points at the giant Hydreigon plush hanging from the roof of the tent, and the booth runner pulls it down for him. It’s… comically large compared to the little prince.
“Do you want me to carry that for you?” you offer, but Bowser Jr. instinctively holds the Hydreigon away from you.
“NO! It’s mine and I can carry it!!” With a mischievous - but obviously happy - giggle, Bowser Jr. runs off with his prize. Well, he could have thanked you, but regardless you’re happy to see him happy. Now that that’s done, you can meet back up with the others!
You make your way aaaaaaaaaaall the way back to the other side the park, to where you last saw Shulk and Marth. You don’t see them (or Roy or Richter) on the way there, nor do you see them when you arrive. You continue to wander aimlessly for awhile in hopes that you’ll catch sight of them, but… you never do.
...New plan! Looking up at the rides gives you an idea - if you go on a ride that lets you overlook the park, maybe you’ll see them! There’s a ride called Construction Zone (featuring Conkeldurr) that looks perfect for the job since it’s a ride that goes straight up and down, but after watching it for a bit… it goes kinda fast… You probably won’t be able to see anything on it.
As you’re thinking about it, Olimar stumbles off the ride and passes out. His Pikmin rush over and start carrying him away.
...Okay, how about you go on a ferris wheel instead? Those are slow and go really high - you’re sure you’ll be able to see something from up there! The park has three different ferris wheels, all different sizes. The smallest - which is the kid-sized one - is shaped like a Cryogonal, and then the next biggest is themed after Chandelure. The biggest one - which is the one you’ve decided to ride since it matches your motives - is shaped like a Ferrothorn. On your way over, you encounter blue Inkling staring up at the ferris wheel, his expression a mixture of awe and fear.
“Hey, wanna go on the ferris wheel with me?” Your voice shakes him out of his spell, and the squidkid beams and nods at your offer. The two of you get into line, and it takes you a moment to realize… the person in front of you is Robin! Would it be awkward if you said hi to him? The silver-haired tactician hasn’t noticed you standing behind him yet. Maybe if you two had any sort of bond before now you’d say something, but you’ve literally never interacted with him for more than a few seconds, so it just… feels weird to suddenly start acting friendly. Yeah, you’re just going to wait and see if he notices you.
You and Inkling silently wait for the line to move forward. Robin never ends up looking back at you, and soon enough the three of you are at the front of the line. One of the staff managing the ferris wheel approaches while the wheel is slowing to a stop to let people off and on.
“Are you three together?” they ask Robin.
“No, but it’s alright if they join--” Finally, Robin looks back, and he stops speaking as soon as he lays eyes on you. Expression unreadable, he stares at you silently for a moment before his eyes glaze over, supposedly looking at something somewhere else.
“Actually, nevermind. Let them go ahead of me - I’ll take the next one.”
Your mind is full of question marks at the tactician’s sudden mood change. Before he noticed you, his voice had sounded amicable, but now… he suddenly seemed cold. Were your fears right? Does he actually hate you for some reason?? While you’re not so vain to believe that everyone likes you, you truly can’t imagine what you’ve done to offend him. You’re pretty sure he hadn’t been personally affected by the mansion repairs, and it’s not like he was there for the baseball game… Maybe he hates your library’s sorting system?? That would be valid; you don’t like it either.
Oblivious to the tension between you two, the staff member smiles and gestures you and Inkling towards the now-empty ferris wheel car. “Okay! Right this way, please!”
Anxiety rots your gut as you spare Robin one last questioning look - one he doesn’t notice, because he is pointedly looking away from you - before following the park attendant. Inkling hops on first, and as you’re climbing into the car yourself, you hear a familiar voice shouting behind you.
“HEY! Let me get on too!!”
You spare a glance backwards to see Captain Falcon - with a fast pass wristband on his wrist - practically leap over the gate to join you. You’re so startled by his sudden arrival that you are unable to protest, your body moving automatically to board the ride as the racer approaches. Did you think you could get away from him by getting on the ride? If you did, you are very foolish, because he gets into the car and the door slams shut behind him.
You quickly place Volcarona and Zorua beside you, filling up the seat. Captain Falcon looks unperturbed, smiling directly at you as he sits down next to Inkling across from you. The squidkid is completely oblivious to the vibes happening right now, and is fixated on the view outside as the ride starts up and you gradually begin to ascend.
“It’s like I always say:” Captain Falcon starts to break the silence, and you feel your insides twist into something unpleasant at the direction you’re sure this conversation is going to go in, “there’s nothing more romantic than the ferris wheel.”
You have never heard him say this before. And if you’re being honest, you have a sneaking suspicion he has, in fact, never said this before in his life. All you can do is make a sound of acknowledgement as you turn your gaze to the window as well, unable to look at the man across from you.
Right! You came on this ride to look for Marth and the others!! You should do that.
“Nice weather we’re having, eh?” While this is stereotypically an awkward, bottom-of-the-barrel conversation topic, you can hear the confidence in Captain Falcon’s voice. He is not feeling awkward at all. “I bet it helps make for a gorgeous view.”
He’s not wrong, but you are not focusing on how nice the view is. You’re looking for the people who are going to save your life as soon as you get the opportunity to escape this ride. As the car you’re in slowly ascends, your eyes frantically roam the park grounds for any sign of the familiar reds or blues of your party. Unfortunately, the only Smashers you see right now are Kirby and Dedede - the latter is happily eating an ice cream while the pink puffball watches. Suddenly, the ice cream falls off the cone and splats onto the concrete! The penguin looks distraught… until Kirby uses his vacuum inhale to suck up the fallen ice cream so it doesn’t go to waste. Furious, Dedede starts chasing Kirby around the park.
A comical scene, but not what you’re looking for.
You need a better view.
“Now I know what you’re thinking:” Even though you haven’t said a word or spared him a glance, Captain Falcon continues speaking coolly. “ ‘It’s been a great day, I’ve had a lot of fun, there’s no way it could get better! ’ But let me tell you: it can! With me!!!”
The ride is now high enough that you can see the food court. While you’re too high up to confidently identify anyone, you are pretty sure that’s Yoshi sitting at a table with a ginormous plate of berries. The only reason you can tell is if you squint, you can see them using the long tongue to eat.
“I see you don’t have a fast pass for the park. That’s no good - you’ll run out of time before you can go on all the rides!!! Luckily, I just happen to have a spare!!”
Despite all your efforts up until now, the thing that finally gets you to turn and look at Captain Falcon is him leaning forward to take your arm and put a wristband on you. You can’t help but stare dumbly at it, then find yourself caught when you glance up to see the racer looking directly at your face with a relaxed grin. For some reason, you find yourself unable to break eye contact.
Mentally you are screaming for help. But blue Inkling is not privy to your attempts at telepathy, and instead is enraptured by the view outside. He has no clue that such an embarrassing scene is going on right next to him! Oh how you envy his obliviousness!
Volcarona and Zorua also cannot help you, for they are just stuffed toys. There may be stuffed toys that come to life in this universe, but these two are not among them.
“Hey!” Just when you think you’re dissociating from this situation, Captain Falcon’s voice brings you right back. He’s still wearing that grin as he holds your hand in both of his. “Listen, you’re cool, and we all know I’m cool, so sometime in the future why don’t you and I get together and go on a d--”
The ride stops suddenly, roughly jostling the car and cutting off whatever completely unknown thing Captain Falcon was going to say. You truly have no idea where that conversation was going. Still holding your hand with one of his, he moves his other hand to your shoulder as if to stop you from falling - even though you’re sitting down and not at risk of such a thing.
“What was that?!” Captain Falcon looks around wildly for any other anomalies. Normally the ride stops periodically to let people on and off, but this feels… unnatural. Inkling is curled up in the seat in fear. Is that smoke rising up outside?? Captain Falcon finally lets you go and stands up - letting out a groan of pain when his helmeted head bonks into the metal ceiling. You’d laugh if you weren’t worried about the state of the ride right now.
“Don’t worry, you have nothing to fear with me around!!” He easily shakes off the pain and returns to being cool and confident. “I will go find out what happened!”
Slightly crouched to avoid hitting his head again, the F-Zero racer makes his way to the door and looks out the window. Unable to see anything, he opens the door and, as soon as he does so, a pink-and-blue blur leaps in, knocking Captain Falcon aside and onto the seat.
“Greninja!” You’re very startled to see the frog Pokemon in a place like this! Confused and worried, you continue: “What are you doing here--? Uh???”
Instead of answering your question, Greninja approaches you with lightning fast reflexes and you soon find yourself in a familiar scenario. Before your brain can register what’s happening, Greninja picks you up and leaps back out of the car. You let out an involuntary shriek as the wind rushes by you, and nearly feel your heart fly out of your throat when the frog suddenly lands on one of the ferris wheel’s iron bars. You hold on tightly as Greninja hops and climbs down the ferris wheel and when you look up, you can see Captain Falcon staring down in shock. He makes no moves to follow you, accepting that a feat like this would be too much even for someone as cool as him.
Within a couple minutes - though it feels like much longer - Greninja finally lands on the concrete and puts you down. Your legs feel like jelly.
“Th-Thanks…” Then, you suddenly remember with horror: “Oh no!! Volcarona and Zorua are still up there!!”
In an instant, Greninja starts jumping back up the ferris wheel. As you wait for him to climb back down, you look at the state of things. Smoke is rising out of the control room, and it looks like the ferris wheel has broken down. While humans and Pokemon alike are trying to fix the problem, others seem to be preparing for a worse-case-scenario rescue operation by bringing out the flying Pokemon.
Greninja returns with your Volcarona and Zorua plushies. You take them gratefully and give them a big squeeze. You don’t know what you would have done if anything happened to them.
“Thank you!” you say earnestly. Being carried around and rescued like a damsel in distress is embarrassing but… well, it’s better than staying up there. You recall the last time Greninja saved you from certain peril, and begin to look around for any conspicuous cardboard boxes. “Did Snake put you up to this again?”
Greninja remains silent, staring at you with an unreadable expression for an uncomfortably long time. Finally, the frog Pokemon looks down, almost looking bashful.
Which translates to:
Without another word, they hop away.
Oh, does Greninja consider you their friend?? ...Or is this thanks for winning that Tympole for them earlier, which is the "friend" they are referring to? You truly cannot be sure, but in any case: it sounds like this is something they did of their own volition rather than an order from their boss… err, spy partner… or whatever those two are to each other. How did they even meet? You're never in the same place with either of them long enough to ask. So very mysterious…
As you are zoning out, someone taps you on the shoulder. You turn to see Link, waving in silent greeting as he wears a warm smile. You feel a sense of relief to finally run into someone you have no embarrassing memories with.
He gestures up towards the Rayquaza coaster - The Ozone Layer - expression hopeful. Wanna go? You somehow get the sense that he’s been looking for someone who’ll join him all day.
Finally, someone with good taste in rides!
You nod with a smile of your own and Link’s face lights up in excitement like a kid on Christmas. Without any further hesitation or interruptions, the two of you make a beeline for the biggest ride in the park. If there’s one thing you can thank Captain Falcon for, it’s the fast pass wristband; Link has one too, so you two are able to cut the massive line and are at the front within minutes.
You let Volcarona and Zorua sit this one out. You don’t think they’d like the loops.
The ride ends up being the most thrilling - and terrifying! - experience you’ve had in recent memory. You and Link are screaming in terror throughout the whole thing, and when the ride is over, the two of you look at each other and laugh at how disheveled you both look. Link’s hair has been whipped in all directions, and there are dried tear streaks on his face. You don't check, but you're certain you don’t look much better.
You go on the ride three more times before you finally decide to make a lap around the park to go on all the rides that your previous company had been too chicken to try. Falco and Pit eventually join you, and when you find out they haven’t been on the Rayquaza ride yet, you and Link practically drag them over there. By the end of the day, you and Link have collected so many pictures from the nearby booth of you two and the rest of your party looking scared out of your minds. The rest of your evening is filled with thrilling rides and mirth, with the worst thing that happens being Duck Hunt Dog stealing your dinner.
At the end of the day, despite both the literal and metaphorical ups and downs... you think you had a pretty good time at the amusement park.