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Thread: Morphic (R, possibly offensive to some)

  1. #101
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    Greetings! Can't remember if I'm a new reviewer or not; been following this from the sidelines since Ch 1. Anyways...

    I liked this chapter a lot despite its shorter length. In a way, the fact that it is shorter kinda helps b/c it seems to emphasize the abrubtness and intensity of the plot. And helps w/ hooking the reader.
    Also, like those before me, Gabriel's kiddnapping was a total "Woah! What just happened!?!" kinda moment. A little thought in my head when I read it though was 'of all the morphs, Gabriel would be the one to get kiddnapped.'. With his luck, something like this was bound to happen sooner or later.

    And one question about Gabriel and his predicament: if I remember correctly he has flaming eyebrows, yes? Assuming his captors didn't think this part out (despite it being a brilliantly thought out plan as elvyorg pointed out) and had some flame retarding material, wouldn't his eyebrows ignite the bandana if it's tied around his face?

    Sorry this is short, but I'm writing it from my iPod, which is reeeally annoying to do, but I had to say something, so yeah.
    Keep up the good work and can't wait for the next chapter!

    Cheers!!
    -Yashe

  2. #102
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    Thanks for reading and reviewing.

    The deal with Gabriel is that he has basically Slugma's flame antennae/horns/eyebrows/whatever, and they're solid up to a point and then become more or less flames - sufficiently high up to make it possible to tie something around his eyes. I considered bringing it up while Gabriel was tying it on, but it seemed like he had better things to think about.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  3. #103
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    aw man, been so long since I read this, and the latest chapter rocks!
    I never knew Jack was so violent on the inside, at least now he and Mia will have something to talk about ^_^

    my random thought of the week:
    Life is full of surprises--That's what we love and hate about it. Once we think we've got things figured out, life throws us a screwball. Sure it sucks for a while, but we always come back for more.
    Now why would you want to click this?

  4. #104
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    I’ve just read through this fic and so far it’s a well done “realistic” take on Pokemorph fics.* However..
    I’ve had several experiences with rude atheists that have left me sensitive (overly so, really) to religion-related topics, and so when I came to the bit about that being the major offensive issue, my mind went like this:

    Oh ****.

    But I decided to read on, because I loved your premise and my morbid curiosity was so strong…

    And I came out far less offended than I thought- or you said- I would be.

    The only real problems were with Dave and Mia. Both occasionally have moments where they seemingly preached something to the audience. However, Dave is obviously meant to be a jerk about his opinions, and Mia is highly rationalistic/cynical/whatever you want to describe her personality as. (The “imaginary sky friends” line was grating, however, due to the aforementioned experiences.) Overall, both of their opinions about religious issues come off as natural results of their personalities, and you mostly do a good job of not making those opinions seem preachy. Mia actually happens to be one of my favorite characters, along with Jack and Gabriel (D&D nerds FTW).

    Again, great story, great premise, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    *- Incidentally, it’s also the first Pokemorph fic I’ve read, so I had no clue what Sara Hooter was parodying at first (Harry Potter? Maximum Ride? The Twilight craze?)
    Oneshots and perhaps fanfics coming soon.

    In the meantime, want your fic reviewed? Send me a PM asking! I'll see if I can make time.

    (Keep in mind I'm not usually partial to really dark fics, so I may take longer to get to those.)

  5. #105
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    Well... this is fic three on my 2010 To Read List. I think I'll catch up fairly quickly on this one... so a review should be coming sometime really soon.

    L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
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  6. #106
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    Been a while, I know, but chapter twelve is here. It's also twelve pages long - a lot longer than any of the previous chapters of this fic. Hope you enjoy.

    InsaneTyranitar: Thanks for reading, and I'm glad you don't let it bother you too much. Hope you continue to follow this in the little that is left.

    Air Dragon: I know I mentioned this in the QftL thread, but you really shouldn't post in a fic thread just to say "I will review this at some point in the future." :/ Glad you'll read it, though, and I'll be looking forward to your review when it comes.

    Anyway. The chapter. It has lots of Jack.



    Chapter 12

    Dave closed his cellphone, turned around and looked blankly at Cheryl, then Howard, then Monica Sellers. They stared back at him, eyes wide.

    “It’s true. They have Gabriel. Goddamn it.” He placed a hand over his face and tried to think. “He’s bluffing. He has to be bluffing. How are they going to know if we talk to the police? They couldn’t possibly know.”

    “They could,” whispered Monica. “At least one of them is in the police force. Maybe more. I don’t know.”

    “In the police force? The fuck.” Dave paced back and forth around the floor. “That would explain the fucking Gardevoir test. Who the fuck lets fundies on the force?” It was that officer who was with the Gardevoir, then – or maybe somebody who had trained it. It could be fucking anybody. Even that apparently nice Officer Russell, if he was a good actor.

    “And how the fuck did they know to kidnap him?” Dave went on. “There’s no way he followed you here and cooked up and executed a fucking kidnapping plan in the time it took for you to tell us about it.” He looked over at Monica, who flinched under his gaze.

    “Actually I…” she began in a quiet, high-pitched voice that then broke. She tried again. “I told him what I meant to do yesterday.”

    Dave stared at her. “You fucking told him you were going to rat him out?”

    She looked mortified. “I thought that… I thought he would cancel it all if I threatened to warn you. And he didn’t.”

    “You thought…? Oh, Christ. You idiot. Why didn’t you go straight to the fucking police the moment you snapped out of it and realized he’s a psycho?”

    She shook her head, in tears now. “I couldn’t… I felt…”

    “And guess what. Now we can’t call the fucking police, because they have Gabriel and could kill him. And that leaves them peace and quiet to come and gun us all down whenever they’re ready. Goddamn it.”

    He walked quickly to the nearest window, looked briefly outside for suspicious people and then pulled the curtains to cover it. He did the same with the other windows in the room. Howard and Cheryl watched him silently.

    “Look, here’s what we’ll do,” Dave went on. “You call everybody, tell them the party’s off and they should get the fuck away from here. Then we try to stay behind solid walls…” He trailed off. “Fuck, what if they try to set fire to the house?”

    “Dave,” Cheryl said gently, laying a hand on his shoulder. “Calm down. Judging from the attack on you and Brian, they won’t strike in broad daylight. When everyone is here, it will be easier to talk it over properly and figure out just how we should respond.”

    “How the fuck can we respond? If we do anything, they kill Gabriel. If we don’t do anything, they find an opportunity to kill us and then kill Gabriel too.”

    Cheryl was silent for a moment as Dave buried his hands in his hair and paced back and forth in an attempt to think. They were interrupted by a knock on the door; everyone turned sharply towards it and hesitated before Cheryl hastily walked over to open it.

    “Happy birthday,” said Bill and Jack cheerfully in unison, the Chinchou morph holding forward a large giftwrapped box. “Are Sharon and Gabriel here yet?”

    -------

    There was a long silence when everyone was finally there and everything had been explained.

    “Well?” Jack asked, feeling his pulse uncomfortably in his throat. “What are we going to do?”

    “We could talk to the police anyway,” Howard suggested with little conviction. “It could be kept to a select few individuals, people who can be trusted.”

    “How do we know their guy isn’t the one answering the telephone?” Dave replied immediately, still pacing back and forth around the floor, though now with a glass of beer in his hand.

    “We could hire somebody to investigate it,” said Sharon.

    “What sort of a private investigator would take a case that requires him to save a kidnapped half-Slugma from a bunch of armed religious fanatics?”

    There was another long silence.

    “Christ,” said Dave, shaking his head before he took a long sip from his glass, “I don’t think there’s anything we can do.” He paused for a moment and then without warning began to chuckle madly. “Actually, the smartest fucking thing in the situation is to just call the police anyway and save ourselves, because Gabriel’s dead no matter what we do.”

    Something in Jack’s chest twisted itself into a knot and made him nauseous. He tried to tell himself there was no way it was a serious suggestion, because Dave was still burying his head in his hands like he didn’t expect an answer and nobody else seemed to think it was even worthy of comment, or were they actually considering it? No, they couldn’t be. They wouldn’t.

    “Perhaps we could try to wait it out,” said Joe, Will’s father, after a pause. “Maybe they’ll change their minds or...”

    Dave let out a short burst of hysterical laughter and Joe trailed off without finishing. There was yet another silence as everyone gave uncomfortable glances to one another.

    “Maybe we should sleep on it,” said Cheryl at last. “They won’t kill Gabriel while they can still use him to keep us from calling the police. Somebody can keep watch in case they try anything tonight, and we can attempt to defend ourselves somehow.”

    She looked around at everyone; they looked back at her and at everyone else in silence. Dave slumped exhaustedly down on the couch and squeezed his eyes shut.

    “So, what?” Jack asked loudly. “We’re not going to do anything?”

    “We can’t fucking do anything!” Dave snapped and slammed his fist down on the coffee table with a bang that made everyone shudder. “What the hell do you expect us to do about it? If you’re going to be a naďve little idiot thinking you can rush in and rescue him or something, you can go do that yourself and get gunned down like Brian, but those of us without a goddamn hero complex are not going to get ourselves killed with you. Fucking shit.”

    Jack looked at him for a moment, feeling as if he’d just been slapped in the face. Everyone’s eyes were on him or Dave, all of them still too stunned to speak.

    He quickly turned around, walked into Mia and Lucy’s room and slammed the door behind him before they’d had the chance to respond.

    -------

    Jack lay awake that night, listening to the sound of the other morphs breathing all around him in their sleeping bags. Lucy’s ghostly form stood by the window, the pink-tipped strands of her hair floating eerily behind her head, and watched for suspicious people with all her senses.

    Technically, he supposed, their parents were right. Gabriel was theoretically safe for as long as he was useful to his captors alive, and for as long as the police didn’t know anything, he would be. And Lucy was largely nocturnal anyway and could sense new presences in the vicinity, allowing her to alert them if they came, and then they could be prepared. Dave had gone out and bought some guns for use in self-defense if it came to that.

    But he was still afraid. After all, these people’s long-term goal, according to Monica Sellers, was to kill all of them, including Gabriel; the moment they decided keeping him around was more trouble than it was worth, they would murder him in a heartbeat. And though Isaac had called earlier that night to let them hear Gabriel’s voice again and tell them he would call twice a day to assure them they were keeping their end of the deal, that was still only twice a day and would give the kidnappers twelve hours’ headstart before they noticed anything – plenty of time to execute a plan to murder as many of them as possible.

    He looked around the room and suddenly realized that Lucy’s big, hypnotic eyes were looking at him.

    “You’re scared,” she said quietly.

    Jack’s first instinct was to deny it and try to convince her there was nothing to worry about, but the very thought of pretending everything was okay made him feel hollow and empty. Instead, he just nodded and looked down at his webbed fingers, faintly lit by the glow of his antennae.

    “If you’re scared, you should talk to them,” Lucy said, blinking innocently at him. Jack wasn’t sure how much she understood of what was going on and what he was thinking. He wasn’t even sure what ‘them’ she was referring to. But somehow, he still felt like she was right: he would like to talk to somebody, if only to get things off his chest.

    He looked around the room again. If he was going to talk to anyone, it was the other morphs, and preferably someone mature enough to understand. Katherine was lying on her side in a sleeping bag near him, one rose-hand sprawled limply on the floor; she was physically the ‘oldest’ of them, but she was also slow and groggy without sunlight, so waking her up in the middle of the night was probably not the best idea. Just after her in mental age was Mia, but she was plenty disturbed enough to make her a poor choice for a comforting conversation.

    The next candidates, then, were Will and Jean, and Jean was certainly no pinnacle of maturity, so although Will was pretty shy and reserved and generally didn’t talk much, Jack figured he was his best bet.

    He glanced back at Lucy, who had resumed staring out the window, and then climbed carefully over Katherine to get to the Meowth morph, who was curled up in a ball in his sleeping bag.

    “Will?” Jack touched his shoulder carefully.

    “Mm.” Will curled himself up tighter, smiling in his sleep, and after a second began to let out a soft, purring noise. Jack watched him in disbelief, some part of him balking at the idea he could be purring at a time like this.

    “Will, wake up,” he muttered and gave him a push. This time the purr stopped instantly and Will jerked his head up, his big eyes flicking open.

    “Jack?” he asked sleepily. “What is it?”

    “I just wanted to talk.”

    “Talk? About what?” Will yawned.

    “This whole thing,” Jack said. “You know, I really think we should do something.”

    Will blinked. “About Gabriel, you mean?” he asked after a moment.

    “Yes, about Gabriel,” Jack answered, trying to beat down his disturbing urge to punch the other boy. “These people want to kill him. It’s just a question of when. They’re never going to just let him go, and if it’s ever slightly inconvenient to keep him around, they’ll decide it’s not worth it. The longer we wait, the likelier they’ll just go fuck it and...”

    Jack trailed off, not really wanting to finish that thought, and realized suddenly that all the morphs were awake and looking at him. It registered vaguely that maybe he had raised his voice a bit somewhere in the middle of that rant. Lucy smiled at him from her position by the window.

    “What’s going on?” asked Katherine, her voice a bit slurred as she rubbed her eyes.

    “I was just telling Will we need to do something,” Jack said, not bothering to keep his voice down now. “We can’t just sit around waiting. They want us all dead, including him. All that’s keeping them from killing him right now is that they’re using him to stop us from calling the police, and even if they do kill him, it could be twelve hours before we realize there’s anything wrong, and by that point they could have killed us all. And we can’t call anybody. We have to step in ourselves and do something about it.” He took a deep breath. “And really, we can do something about it. Have you all forgotten we’re Pokémorphs? We can use Pokémon moves now! We have powers! If we could just find where they’re keeping him, we could sneak in and free him, and then we can call the police when he’s safe and have the killers finally put in jail.” He looked around at all of them and dreaded for a split second that they would all start to argue and not want to risk their lives on a rescue operation and yell at him, just like Dave had.

    But they didn’t. For a few seconds they were all quiet, and then Peter piped up, “Sounds cool. I’m in.”

    Will looked at Jack. “Well... it sounds dangerous, but I guess if anybody can save him, it’s us.”

    “We’ll go there and torch all the bad guys, right?” asked Jean brightly.

    Jack resisted the urge to slap his forehead; he needed the support. “Yes,” he said decisively. “We’ll torch all the bad guys, and we’ll save Gabriel, and everything is going to be fine.”

    “But how do we actually find out where they’re keeping him?” Will asked, looking around. “We can’t really do anything without knowing that.”

    “I know,” Jack said and sighed, closing his eyes to think, and an idea hit him almost immediately. “Felicia!” he said excitedly. “Growlithe have a great sense of smell! If we just go to the place where they took him – it must have been where Sharon was going to pick him up from the comic book store – she might be able to smell where he was – smell the car they put him in – maybe even follow the car –”

    “That’s crazy,” Katherine interrupted groggily. “That was in the afternoon. It’s the middle of the night now. How many cars do you think have been parked in the same spot and driven the same streets since then? How would Felicia work out which layer of generic car smell it is that leads to the right place?”

    “Well, it’s something,” Jack snapped. “Do you have a better idea? Or do you think we should just sit here and let them kill Gabriel?”

    Katherine swallowed. “No,” she said quietly.

    “At least it’s worth a try. And there could be more clues at the location where they took him, too. All we need to do is get there.”

    The others were all silent, waiting for him to go on.

    “Well... Katherine got a couple of driving lessons with her dad, right?” He looked hopefully at the Roselia girl.

    “What?” she asked, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. “You want to steal our car and have me drive it without a license?”

    “Nobody here has a license! And we can’t tell our parents about it. They’d stop us.”

    “And maybe there’s a good reason for that.” Katherine looked anxiously at him. “I wish we could save Gabriel too, I do, but the way to do that isn’t to put ourselves in as much danger as possible.”

    “But that’s not…” Jack looked around at the others in frustration. “Let’s have a vote, all right? If more than half of us want to go, I’ll be driving the car and I don’t care that I don’t know how. Okay? I want to save Gabriel because he’s my best friend and these people want to murder him, and they won’t release him by will no matter what we do, so we have to get him released by force. Katherine?” He tried to look neutral as he turned towards her, but it came out as a resentful glare anyway.

    Katherine took a deep breath. “I’d want to help Gabriel if I thought we actually could, but realistically… we just can’t. We don’t know where he is. The clues Jack wants us to chase are almost definitely dead ends. Even if we did find out where he is, they’re probably armed and won’t think twice before shooting us, and the little we have in the way of Pokémon attacks is pretty pathetic. It seems to me we would just be endangering ourselves with little to no chance of actually succeeding at rescuing him. It’s a terrible situation, but...” She bit her lip. “I just can’t see this helping anyone.”

    Jack swallowed and resisted the urge to shout at her, try to slap some sense into her. “Will?”

    The Meowth morph looked unsurely around. “Well...” he began, “what Katherine’s saying makes a lot of sense, but are we really any better off here?” He looked around at the others. “They could come here any time and try to kill us, and even if we have weapons, it doesn’t really make us safe. If we go somewhere, at least they won’t know where we are. And who knows; maybe if they notice we’re gone when they come, they won’t attack our parents, since it’s really us they want.” He looked hopefully up at Jack. “And Dave too, I guess,” he added in a mutter.

    “He’s right,” Jack said. “It’s not like we aren’t in danger if we stay here. We’ll be on the run, and we might save Gabriel too. What have we got to lose? Jean?”

    “I say we go and kick their asses!” the Vulpix girl said happily with an emphasizing punch to her sleeping bag.

    “Peter?”

    “Gabriel was my friend too. I want to try to help him, no matter what it takes.”

    “Lucy?”

    “I have to stay here and watch,” said the Misdreavus girl, still facing the window.

    “Right. You’ll take good care of our parents, okay? Mia?”

    The Scyther morph sat for a moment staring blankly ahead, contemplating it. “I’ll get to fight them?”

    “Yes, hopefully, you’ll get to fight them,” Jack replied patiently.

    She nodded. “Then I’ll come.”

    “Great.” Jack turned back to the Roselia girl, his expression stern. “So, Katherine. Am I driving, or will you?”

    She sighed, rubbing her forehead. “Fine. I’ll do it. But not now. It’s the middle of the night. I might as well be driving drunk. We can sneak out when the sun rises and my head starts clearing, okay?”

    -------

    Some of the others managed to get a bit of sleep after this (Katherine, in particular, was fast asleep five minutes after things had quieted down), but Jack didn’t; he was too worked up to feel tired. In his mind, he laid out a careful plan for what they’d do once they found out where they were keeping Gabriel, while pushing aside all nagging doubts. After he’d gone over it too many times to think he’d be able to add to it, he spent the rest of the night practicing his Spark while all too aware of the eyes of the other non-sleeping morphs on him.

    Then, finally, the first rays of the sun made their way into the room, and he sprang up to wake Katherine.

    “Mwuh?” she mumbled as he shook her. “Oh, Jesus, I’m going to be terrible until a couple of hours from now.”

    “That doesn’t matter,” Jack hissed at her. “Our parents could be up a couple of hours from now. We have to get going.”

    “I don’t know how you goaded me into this,” she muttered, but she stood up anyway, and after several frantic insistences for everyone to be as quiet as possible, Jack opened the bedroom door as silently as he could and they tiptoed out into the hall while Lucy waved absent-mindedly after them from her position by the window.

    Jack crept towards the front door and opened it, also as quietly as he could. This early on a Saturday, there was nobody in the streets. His heart was racing as the others came through the door; he saw a movement in a bush across the street and jumped, but it was just a Murkrow taking off. As Mia came through the door, the last of them, Jack moved to close it, slowly and carefully.

    He exhaled finally when he took his hand off the doorknob. “Okay,” he said quietly. “You took the keys, Katherine?”

    She nodded nervously, blinking towards the sunrise. “This is a terrible idea,” she muttered, sounding more scared than irritated now that some of the grogginess had faded. Nonetheless, she walked shakily towards her parents’ car and opened it. “Get in. Hopefully we can fit four of you in the back seat.”

    Since nobody wanted to be beside Mia in a cramped space, she had an automatic claim to the passenger seat. As Katherine struggled to fasten her seatbelt with her flaplike fingers, Jack, Will, Jean and Peter managed to squeeze themselves together into the back seat.

    “I don’t suppose you can get your belts on like this?” Katherine asked anxiously, glancing at them in the rear-view mirror; they shook their heads. “Oh, God, this is an awful idea. We shouldn’t be doing this.”

    “It’s too late now,” Jack said firmly. “We have to get going before our parents wake up. First stop, our place.”

    “All the way over in Taillow Springs.” Katherine sighed. “What are we doing? I can’t drive.”

    “Yes, you can,” Jack insisted. “There’s no traffic now. You’ll be fine. Just start the car.”

    After closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she did. The engine whirred to life. She grabbed the steering wheel as well as she could before remembering she was still in parking gear, and she silently thanked God that at least she didn’t have to drive stick. Another deep breath and she shifted to reverse; then she stepped extremely slowly and carefully on the gas pedal, only to realize the handbrake was still on.

    “Okay, look, I can’t do this. I’m forgetting everything. Can we please just stay?”

    “We voted on it.”

    Katherine shook her head and took a few breaths to steel herself. She carefully released the handbrake and then managed to back the car into the middle of the street, where she had to spend a moment to try to get a decent grip on the steering wheel before turning it. Eventually they were on the right half of the street and she got the car straight before pressing a bit harder down on the gas and getting it up to an acceptable speed, and finally the worst was over for now.

    -------

    It was a forty-five minute drive to the neighbouring town, but they met nobody on the way; in fact, had that not been what they’d been hoping for, the general emptiness of the streets would probably have been unnerving. The drive itself was about as uneventful as they could have hoped, though Katherine had a hard time making sharp turns thanks to her hands’ poor grasp on the steering wheel. Once they’d entered Taillow Springs, Jack gave her directions to his home, where he quickly ran inside to get Felicia in her Pokéball, and then to the comic book store, which she hadn’t been to often enough to remember the way.

    “Right,” said Jack as they stepped out of the car in a parking lot close to the store after Katherine had just barely managed to park the car. “I think I heard Gabriel talk about how he’d be up in... that street.” He pointed decisively up towards the small side street. Without further words, they walked there, all the while looking nervously around for people or murderers. By now it was slightly less empty than it had been on the way, with a few cars making their way around the downtown streets, but none came close enough to be likely to notice they weren’t just a normal disparate group of kids and teens taking an early-Saturday morning walk.

    They entered the street, and Jack’s heart stung horribly as he recognized the bag from the comic book store still lying there on a bench, a book lying discarded on the sidewalk under it. He ran over and picked it up, wiping the grime off the pages (he couldn’t help noticing that it had been lying open on a fold in the middle of a scene where one character was bashing another’s brains in with a baseball bat, and there was something disturbingly satisfying about it) and put it back into the bag. “It’s his,” he said quietly, looking up as the others hurried towards him. “He was here.”

    They stood there silently for a moment, looking at the bag in Jack’s hands, before he had the presence of mind to drop Felicia’s Pokéball onto the ground. The Growlithe materialized in a burst of light and looked happily around at the group of them before apparently picking up on the gloomy atmosphere; the eager swishing of her tail slowed down to a crawl and she sat down with a soft whine.

    “Felicia,” said Jack, “Gabriel’s lost. We need you to help us find him. Okay?”

    The dog Pokémon tilted her head for a moment but then gave an affirmative bark and got to work with sniffing at and around the bench. She quickly found a trail leading from behind the bench and followed it for a few meters, where she stopped and barked proudly. Jack quickly came over to see what she had found: there was a familiar-looking dirty glob of orange slime on the ground.

    “Good girl!” he said excitedly, his heart racing. “Go on!”

    The Growlithe continued eagerly, wagging her tail all the while. Gabriel’s scent led her over to the very parking lot they’d parked in and to the spot next to where they’d parked (Jack shuddered), and there, of course, the trail ended. He asked the Pokémon if she could follow the car, but Felicia just tilted her head with a soft whine; as far as she could tell, Gabriel had simply been abducted by aliens right there.

    They looked glumly at the puppy for a moment in silence. Jack sighed. What had he been expecting, honestly? Some sort of a Lassie movie where the dog miraculously saves the day? He recalled Felicia into her Pokéball and just stood there for a few seconds, knot in his stomach, tears burning in his eyes.

    Jean’s cellphone chose this moment to start ringing with a horribly loud and obnoxiously cheery pop tune.

    She reached into her pocket and, oblivious to the wretched stares of all the others, took several seconds to fish the phone out, the ringtone only growing more intolerable when it was no longer muffled by the fabric of her jeans. With a practised motion that somehow combined checking the caller ID, opening the phone and swinging her arm upwards, she held the phone to her ear and said, in a tone nearly as cheery as her ringtone, “Hi, Dad!”

    “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” was the answer, clearly audible to anyone within a ten-foot radius.

    “We’re saving Gabriel!” Jean replied excitedly. “We took the Harrisons’ car, and Katherine could totally drive it all the way over here! And Felicia can smell Gabriel, so we’re going to go and torch all the bad guys!”

    “What the... you’re sneaking around up at the Church of Holy Truth? Katherine driving? Are you fucking insane? We wake up and go to check on you, and suddenly Lucy’s alone and telling us you fucking went to play superheroes? Christ, Jean, just get back here right now. This isn’t some fucking kids’ action movie where the good guys win. This is real life with real-life murderers waiting to murk the life out of you because the invisible man in the sky told them to do it. You’re just a bunch of kids. By God, Jean, you’re all going to fucking die. Please don’t do this to me.”

    Over the course of this rant, Dave’s voice became less angry and more pathetically desperate. Jean sniffled and looked unsurely around at the others; Jack’s heart thumped as his brain processed everything Dave had just said.

    “Give me that,” he said quickly, but didn’t wait for Jean to voluntarily give him the cellphone before he’d torn it out of her hand. “The Church of Holy Truth?” he said into it. “That’s what you said? They’re keeping Gabriel there?”

    There was a short pause. “Oh, what the fuck? You didn’t know...? Look, forget I said anything about that. Just get back here already. Your parents are all worried sick about you.”

    “They want us more than you,” Jack replied, his heart still racing. Church of Holy Truth. “If they realize we’re not there anymore, you’re safer than you are with us. Just stay there and keep safe. We’re going to try and save Gabriel, no matter what it takes.”

    He hung up immediately, before Dave had begun to answer; he didn’t want to hear it. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and then looked at the others, who were staring at him.

    “We know where they’re keeping him now,” he said. “Or we know the name of the place. Looking up where that is is easy. We can go do this now. If you want to go home, go ahead, but this is what we came here for, and every one of you that helps gives us better chances. And don’t listen to Dave. We’re not just a bunch of kids. We’re a bunch of Pokémorphs. We can do this.”

    Nobody volunteered to leave, but nobody responded with a particular enthusiasm, either. He could tell they were worried, scared; they looked at one another, doubtfully, gauging one another’s reactions in silence.

    “Come on,” he said, gritting his teeth. “Gabriel is going to die if we don’t do something.”

    They murmured some uncertain agreement.

    “Great. So let’s go.”

    Jack marched over to the car, and the others followed hesitantly behind, except for Katherine, who caught up with him, grabbed his arm and pulled him aside while vaguely telling the others they needed to discuss driving.

    “There’s something that bothers me,” she said quietly as the others were getting into the car.

    “Oh?”

    “It didn’t really register this morning when I was all groggy, but... why didn’t they attack last night?”

    Jack looked at her. Deep down, that had been nagging at him, too; if they were going to attack them, why hadn’t they done so at the first opportunity, when their victims would be the least prepared? But he still just shrugged and replied, “Maybe they needed time to plan or get ready.”

    Katherine glanced at him. “Really?”

    Jack shrugged as nonchalantly as he could. They couldn’t start getting paranoid now.

    “And how does Dave know where they’re keeping Gabriel?”

    Jack shrugged again, wishing she would just stop. “He’s the one who spoke to them on the phone. Maybe Gabriel managed to tell him.”

    “But why would they let that happen? It’s almost like…”

    “Almost like what, Katherine?” Jack snapped, looking at her. “What are you trying to say?”

    She bit her lip. “Doesn’t this all seem a bit… too easy?”

    Yes. Of course it did. “What are you talking about?”

    “It’s almost as if… they want us to come for him.”

    She looked at him, and he looked back, biting back the thought.

    “Think about it,” Katherine went on, carefully. “They’ve got someone we love. There are better ways to exploit that than just as leverage to prevent us from calling the police. Normally kidnappers do it because of what the family is willing to do to get the child safe. And what they actually want… is us.”

    Bait. Gabriel had been made into the bait in a Pokémorph-trap. Jack clenched his fist tightly in anger.

    “We’re not leaving him behind,” he said quietly. “We’re on to them now. We’ll be prepared and be careful, and we’ll surprise them, and we’ll save him anyway.”

    Katherine looked anxiously at him. “Jack…”

    “Don’t you ‘Jack’ me!” he snapped. “Gabriel is my best friend, and I would gladly die for the chance he could be saved. I’ll go alone if I have to, but don’t try to stop me. Please.”

    He looked desperately at her, and for a moment he wanted to just go home with the others and hope somehow everything would magically be okay.

    But nothing was ever magically okay. The only way to make things right was to act, no matter how hopeless and horrifying the prospect was, and at least if he failed he wouldn’t have to live with the dread of constantly wondering what Gabriel could be going through. And so he steeled himself, looked away, and said, “Well? Are you coming?”

    Katherine was silent for a moment. “We’ll have to talk to the others,” she finally said. He nodded without words, his throat dry, and they went back over to the car, where the others had gotten in already. She explained the bait theory to them as they watched, wide-eyed, and there was a long silence.

    “I think we can surprise them,” Jack said, sensing the unease in the others. “We can spend a little while practicing our Pokémon moves before we go. We can try to disguise ourselves so they won’t be able to gun us down from a distance. We could even buy a good TM and teach it to Felicia so she can help. But I understand if you’re afraid and don’t want to get involved. All I know is that I’m going no matter what, and my chances are better the more of you come with me.” He took a deep breath. “Even then, don’t come for my sake. Come for Gabriel’s sake. And if you don’t want to come, then don’t.”

    There was another doubtful silence.

    “But really,” Jack found himself adding all of a sudden, “haven’t you ever felt restless? Like you want to get into a fight and win, and to show the world what you can do? Aren’t you ever more excited by violence than you know you should be? Don’t you ever just want to solve your problems the physical way? Don’t you ever want to act?”

    “I feel like that all the time!” Jean replied immediately, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “I want to kill the bad people who took Gabriel!”

    There was an awkward silence for a moment, and then they all started speaking at once, confirming that yes, actually they all felt that way sometimes, or a lot of the time, or constantly in Mia’s case – even Katherine admitted reluctantly that she had disturbingly violent urges once in a blue moon and there was something irrationally satisfying about the idea of trying to rescue someone in danger.

    Within minutes they had all agreed to continue on their mission, with Katherine the only one somewhat reluctant, and as she started the car again, Jack felt for the first time like it was really all going to work out.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 26th September 2011 at 5:25 AM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfree View Post

    He looked around the room again. If he was going to talk to anyone, it was the other morphs, and preferably someone mature enough to understand. Katherine was lying on her side in a sleeping bag near him, one rose-hand sprawled limply on the floor; she was physically the ‘oldest’ of them, but she was also slow and groggy without sunlight, so waking her up in the middle of the night was probably not the best idea. Just after her in mental age was Mia, but she was plenty disturbed enough to make her a poor choice for a comforting conversation.

    The next candidates, then, were Will and Jean, and Jean was certainly no pinnacle of maturity, so although Will was pretty shy and reserved and generally didn’t talk much, Jack figured he was his best bet.

    He glanced back at Lucy, who had resumed staring out the window, and then climbed carefully over Katherine to get to the Meowth morph, who was curled up in a ball in his sleeping bag.



    “Mm.” Will curled himself up tighter, smiling in his sleep, and after a second began to let out a soft, purring noise. Jack watched him in disbelief, some part of him balking at the idea he could be purring at a time like this.
    Ţessi partur var góđur. Mjög vel skrifađ og lýst hvernig út af ţví ađ Katherine er part Roselia ţá er hún frekar orkulaus án sólarljós.

    Annađ er ţroska röđin (Katherine, Mia(of brjáluđ samt),Will og Jean...) hún var góđ hugmynd ţađ er alltaf gott ađ vita hver er svona elstur og röđin niđur ţar.

    Áttu kött? Ţví ađ kötturin minn gerir ţađ sama í svefni og Will gerđi, ţetta var líka dálítiđ fyndiđ og skrýtiđ hverning Will fer allt í einu ađ mala.

    Yfir allt góđu og langur kafli ein af ţeim bestu ţó hann var međ sýna slöku parta. Get ekki beđiđ eftir nćsta kafla!/ This part was good. Very well written and the fact that Katherine who is part Roselia is rather energyless without sunlight is well described.

    The maturity line (Katherine, Mia (too crazy tough), Will and Jean...) was a great idea cause its always good to know which character is like the oldest and the line down there.

    Do you own a cat? Cause my cat does the same thing as Will did in his sleep, it was also a little funny and strange on how Will starts purring.

    Overall a great and long chapter and one of the best altough he had his sloppy parts. Cant wait until the next chapter!

    Plat FC: Restarted recently. Update later.
    HG FC: 0820 1928 9654
    White FC: 1550 7122 1586
    Black 2 FC: 3526 4292 5271
    3DS: 2809-8335-2844
    Screen Name: Atli


    Quote Originally Posted by Sheimi-Shaymin View Post
    Then you sir, must be burned. May I graciously pour gasoline onto your person and ignite you with a match, and allow my farts to viciously make the flames bigger.

  8. #108
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    THIS is a GREAT fic I REALLY hope you'll post more, even though i dought t. I found NO error in spelling/grammer, It has a VERY good storyline and has even inspired me to write my own pokemorph fanfic.You are an exelent writer but now, the problem is i'm TO eager to find out how it ends, so eager sometimes thnk of endings in my free time mean you nded on a clifhanger so i wonder things like:will they save gabiral?, wil they all die?, wll Gabril be saved but in the progress another pokemoph will scarfice themslef for the rest?, HOW WILL IT END? along wth manny other things..This is the only fanfic i've been (re)-reading, because it maes others pale in compairson.
    [IMG]http://i43.*******.com/2vkg5s5.jpg[/IMG]


    don't click this link...

        Spoiler:- Credit:

  9. #109
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    THIS is a GREAT fic I REALLY hope you'll post more, even though i dought t.
    Don't doubt it. This fic has always been written relatively slowly (except at the very beginning), but I don't give up on things once I've gotten this far with them. I'm writing chapter thirteen as we speak and am hoping to complete it before the end of the month at the latest. Might even be up as soon as tomorrow.

    Thanks for reading and reviewing, in any case.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  10. #110
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    YAY! wait..*spookey to you voice *chapter 13
    [IMG]http://i43.*******.com/2vkg5s5.jpg[/IMG]


    don't click this link...

        Spoiler:- Credit:

  11. #111
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    And here it is. Though, much as I appreciate your readership, please don't post spammy one-liner replies like that.

    It's a bit over fifteen pages long, making it decidedly the longest chapter ever of this fic. I should also warn you this chapter is quite brutal and bloody. If you were hoping for sunshine and rainbows and cheery PG violence, turn away now. Seriously.


    Chapter 13

    Peter stepped out of the Grace City Department Store and hurried into the alley behind the building, quickly unwrapping the Fire Stone and Fire Blast TM he’d bought. The others were sitting around and waiting for him there; Jack stood up as soon as Peter came in, with Jean following.

    “You got them?” Jack asked urgently.

    “Yeah,” Peter replied, handing him the items before he sat down next to Will. “I don’t think they realized I wasn’t normal.”

    “Good.” Jack nodded and turned his attention to the yellow rock and CD case in his hands. “Okay, I hope Felicia doesn’t mind becoming an Arcanine. Can somebody hold this for a moment?”

    Jean stepped up and took the rock off his hands while he reached for the minimized Pokéball in his pocket. There was a piercing scream, and Jack turned quickly around, his brain realizing belatedly that he had just given a Fire Stone to a half-Vulpix.

    Her body had taken on an uneven sort of white glow, with her fully-Vulpix tails, hair and ears shining the way they ought to on an evolving Pokémon, but the rest of her either glowing sort of halfway or flickering disturbingly back and forth in intensity, like a failing lightbulb. Her six tails split into nine, her curled red hair straightened into a long, flowing mane, her ears became more perked and delicate, but at the same time her skull seemed to be trying to change shape, and her neck bulged out weirdly, and her legs and arms lengthened a little, and something horrible was happening to her eyes; the whole while she screamed in pain, her body stiffened by the horrors that were happening to it. Jack looked frantically for the Fire Stone, in some vague hope that he could remove it, but it had already turned a dull, grayish yellow in her hand, its power exhausted; there was nothing they could do.

    “Jean! Are you okay?” Will shouted as the girl dropped down on all fours; the scream that followed sounded decidedly like a no. Then she cried out again, and it came out in an eerie howl as a tongue of flames spewed out of her mouth and narrowly missed Jack, who backed away in horror.

    The glow faded completely from her body at last, but she didn’t stop bawling and screaming breathlessly as she curled up on the ground. Will and Katherine ran up to her side as Jack stared at her, taking in the changes.

    Well, she’d turned blonde. That in itself, combined with the straightening of the curls in both her hair and tails, made her look disturbingly unlike herself at a brief glance. The lengthening of her limbs had made her look several years older, though her proportions were odd and kind of disturbing; she looked too thin and her body too small in comparison, like a misshapen doll. Yellow-white fur, the same color as her hair, had grown into an uneven, messy collar around her neck. Her eyes had gone blood red, with the whites no longer visible. Primarily, though, her face had lengthened and her chin shrunk, giving her something almost like a muzzle but not quite, still too human to pass as Pokémonlike.

    Everything about her was wrong, smack-dab in the middle of the Uncanny Valley. Jack cringed and looked away as her cries quieted into hysterical sobbing. Peter was still staring at her in disbelief. Only Mia was wearing the same expression as always.

    “It... it h-hurts...” Jean moaned between shaky breaths.

    “What hurts?” Katherine asked quickly.

    “M-my mouth,” Jean choked up and began to wail again. Of course, Jack thought distantly – even if evolution had activated the fire sac they’d always known she had, the inside of her mouth probably wasn’t all that heat-resistant. That had to suck.

    “I’m sorry,” he said limply, not sure if it was loud enough for Jean to hear him. Handing her a Fire Stone. How could he be that stupid and careless at a time like this? (His mind also insisted on pointing out how stupid it was that she had actually accepted it, and really he’d just sort of held it out for anyone to take, and it was her fault if she took it anyway, right? Then again, he was also extremely tired after staying up all night, so perhaps it was no wonder he’d been a bit careless.)

    Katherine, still kneeling by Jean’s side, stroked her silky Ninetales mane gently in an attempt to comfort her, and suddenly the Roselia morph’s expression changed. She closed her eyes, raised her face up towards the bright sunlight, and they all looked at her in puzzlement for a few seconds – all except Jean, who was still sniffling – before a strange, sweet, soothing smell wafted through the alley. It was incredibly pleasant and relaxing; Jack inhaled deeply and slowly realized he no longer felt tired. Jean sniffed and blinked.

    “It feels better,” she said weakly and sat shakily up, feeling her body up and down with her hands. Her expression turned horrified as she groped at her face, and when she stroked her hands along her hair and new tails, she began to cry again.

    “What is it? Does it still hurt?” Will asked with concern.

    “No,” Jean said miserably, “but how can I be Sarah Hooter now? I look all wrong.”

    Nobody answered that. Katherine still looked kind of dazed after what had to have been an Aromatherapy attack; she blinked blankly, like she wasn’t sure where she was. When Peter came over to his sister to ask quietly if she was all right, however, she nodded and seemed to be recovering.

    “Look, Jean,” Jack said, looking at her again, “nobody gives a fuck about Sarah Hooter right now, okay? Just... don’t. We’re trying to help Gabriel here and...”

    “But I don’t want to help Gabriel anymore!” Jean whined. “I want to go home!”

    Jack really, really wanted to slap her, but the nagging knowledge that this was still his fault to at least some extent stopped him. “You can’t go home,” he said desperately. “We need Katherine with us, especially with Aromatherapy; she can’t be driving you back and forth. And you could help too – even if it burns your mouth, fire would be really useful, right? What if Katherine...”

    “I don’t want to!” Jean yelled shrilly; Jack looked quickly towards the alley exit to make sure nobody had heard all her incessant screaming and was coming to check on it, but they seemed to have chosen a location out of the way enough for nobody to be around.

    “Well, all right, but if not, you can just stay in the car while we go in, or something. Either way you can’t go home.”

    “I’ll take a bus,” she replied, sniffling.

    “Oh, Christ, Jean, public transport?” Jack asked in frustration. “You’ve never used it before. There are all sorts of people on public transports and maybe one in five of them is okay with sharing a ride with a Pokémorph. There’s just no way. Snap out of it and just come with us.”

    Jean pondered this for a moment; then, with a barely-visible nod, she muttered, “Okay.”

    Jack nodded emphatically in reply. “Great.” There was a moment’s pause. “So Peter, could you go get another Fire Stone?”

    -------

    The good thing about churches, thought Jack, was that they didn’t exactly sneak up on you; thanks to those convenient towers, you could always be sure where they were from a comfortable distance away. Even before they were two thirds down the directions they’d printed at his place, they could see the Church of Holy Truth looming ominously above the buildings around them.

    “We probably shouldn’t go too close,” he told Katherine from the back seat. “They could be watching the roads leading up to the church.”

    She didn’t answer. They’d all been a bit silent in the past minutes as it fully dawned on them just what they were doing. Jean still sniffled every now and then, fiddling with her pale, straight locks or shifting in discomfort as she tried to fit all her tails into the left-side seat. Will licked guiltily at his fingertips, squished between her and Peter, who kept turning his head anxiously towards Jack and back again with a jerky, birdlike motion. Katherine glanced in the rear view mirror so often it was a miracle she could pay attention to the road in front of her. The only one of them who wasn’t shifty at all was Mia, ever silent and stoic in the passenger seat in front of Jack.

    Katherine pulled into the next parking lot they noticed with a few free spaces and began to slowly make her way into a spot between two stationary cars, until there was an uncomfortable crunching sound as the side of their car squished into the corner of the one on the left.

    “Oh, shit,” Katherine hissed between her teeth and banged her rose-hands on the steering wheel in frustration. “What do we do now? I told you I couldn’t do this.”

    Jack’s heart sank horribly. “Try... try to get back?” he suggested weakly as his mind swirled with the fact he should have known something like this would probably happen when they had a completely inexperienced driver under great pressure trying to get around in the city; something had to go wrong somewhere.

    Katherine did something, and there were more crunching noises. “I can’t do this!” she repeated, her voice high-pitched and panicky as she lifted her hands completely from the steering wheel. “I’m just making it worse!”

    “You’ll have to do it somehow!” Jack replied desperately; the others were looking fearfully at him. “It’s not like we can drive!”

    “Turn it left,” Mia said coolly. “Then back out. Don’t hit the car on the right.”

    Katherine looked at her for a moment, still cringing and holding her hands away from the steering wheel as if they might do something on their own accord if they came too close to it. “Right,” she squeaked, trying to slow her breathing, before she turned back towards the wheel. “Right. Okay, Mia. You probably know all about this. Gee, I wonder why you haven’t just been driving instead of me the whole time.”

    Despite the sarcasm, she still followed Mia’s advice and carefully turned the steering wheel left and switched to reverse. Very slowly, the car eased away from the other one; the front right corner fast approached the car on the right, but Katherine managed to stop and turn straight before anything happened on that side. After what seemed like absolute ages, they were a comfortable distance away from both cars again.

    “And now I have to try it again,” Katherine said with a nervous sigh. “That’s going to end well.”

    Incredibly enough, it did; this time she came in at less of an angle and successfully got the car into place. There she switched to parking gear, put the handbrake on and finally shut off the engine with a turn of the key.

    She slumped back in the seat and took a deep breath. “Okay. Uh, we should probably leave a note for the owner of the other car?” She looked around for a moment before opening the glove compartment. “Our parents are going to love this.”

    Jack looked guiltily at Peter, who was kind of pale but silent as his sister attempted to pick up some papers, had little success, and in frustration asked Mia to do it instead. The Scyther morph took them out and looked blankly at the damage report forms; Katherine looked over her shoulder at them, about as blankly, and finally said, “We’ll get this stuff filled out later. Let’s just leave a cellphone and license plate number before the owner of the car gets here.”

    Some part of Jack’s mind was immediately convinced that judging from their luck so far, the owner of the car would probably get there just around the time they’d finished writing a note, but no, they managed to write down Katherine and Peter’s dad’s cellphone number and the license number of the car on a piece of paper and stick it under the wipers on their victim – thankfully or not-so-thankfully, their car looked considerably worse than the other one once they walked around it – before they made their way out of sight as quickly as they could while looking reasonably casual.

    “Okay, uh,” Jack began once they were a comfortable distance away from the parking lot, “well, you’re not going to be waiting in the car, Jean, so I guess you can just wait someplace reasonably quiet around here?” He looked around; there was nowhere immediately obvious in the vicinity that wasn’t uncomfortably public. “Or you could come in with us and try to help. That would be nice, too.”

    “No!” she answered immediately and looked unsurely around. “I’ll... I’ll walk to our place and just wait there.”

    “Your place?” Katherine asked hesitantly. “Well, it’s a bit of a walk, but it’s away from the church, and I guess you could avoid the larger streets.” She looked at Jack with a shrug.

    He sighed. “Okay. I guess that’s the best option. Try to stay safe.”

    “I will.” Jean smiled brightly. “Good luck!”

    Well-intentioned as they were, her words only made Jack feel more nauseous. The others didn’t respond very enthusiastically to it either, but at least they managed some sort of a brief goodbye before the now-Ninetales morph bounded off across the road and soon disappeared into a side street.

    “I hope she’ll be all right,” Will muttered.

    “I’m sure she will,” Jack said with a lot more confidence than he felt. “Come on. Gabriel needs our help now.”

    -------

    “Okay,” Gabriel said unconvincingly to himself, staring at the strewn sand and dirt on the floor beside him, “I could eat this as a fetus. I’ve got to be able to eat it now.”

    He had been locked inside a tiny, windowless, spectacularly dirty room in the church cellar, probably used to store visitors’ shoes or something of the like, for what he estimated to be close to twenty-four hours now though that figure might have been exaggerated by boredom. And although he thankfully didn’t need a lot of water to sustain himself, it took a lot of energy to maintain his unusual body temperature, and he was already feeling on the brink of starvation. He’d tried the whole banging-on-the-door thing already, but had soon come to the conclusion that there was simply nobody on the other side – not that his captors seemed likely to care very much about keeping him fed, anyway.

    After giving up on that, he had looked around the room in exasperation and concluded for the umpteenth time that there was absolutely nothing in it except the thick layer of dust, sand and dirt on the floor. Then he had sat down, mostly because he was getting tired of pacing around and figured he could stay still for a while now before needing to warm up his skin again. And the floor had felt grainy beneath his fingers, which had made him remember some of what he knew about the circumstances of his creation.

    So now, deliberately ignoring the glaring logical fallacy in his previous words, he squinted at the floor and stroked his hand carefully over it. The sand stuck to his gooey skin, leaving a visibly cleaner patch where he had wiped it. He turned his hand slowly around and dully watched the grains sink into the semi-transparent orange sludge on his palm. He shook his head; this was why he’d always had to eat everything with a fork or a spoon.

    He looked around as if expecting to find a spoon magically lying around. Part of him wondered in morbid amusement whether he was really hungry enough yet for this to be worth it, but by now it was really less so much because he was hungry and more a means of finally letting his brain occupy itself with a task: figure out some way to eat this sand. It was oddly relieving after all the sleepless hours of having nothing to think about except guns being pressed against his head and whether he would ever get out of this alive.

    After a bit of deliberation, Gabriel carefully removed his shirt and began to use a corner of the fabric, helped by the stiffer plastic coating on the inside, as a shovel. It took him at least ten minutes going around part of the room and trying to sweep the sand onto the shirt before he had gathered a satisfactory pile of dirt, and then he set it very carefully down on the floor and stared at it. He felt oddly like a drug addict confronted in a moment of clarity with the knowledge that his fix had spent unknown periods of time inside somebody’s anus.

    Again he wondered whether he was really this hungry.

    Then he decided that the longer he thought about it, the worse it would seem, and so he quickly grabbed the shirt and stuffed the pile of dirt into his mouth.

    His gag reflex reacted immediately and violently. He coughed and spluttered, trying to clear the dirt from the inside of his mouth, but a lot of it remained stuck and gave him a terrifying feeling of suffocation. He desperately spat out a glob of grayish sludge, then half-vomited a bit more of it at the sight of what he’d just willingly attempted to eat, and finally lay there miserably for a few moments, feeling his muddy saliva dribble down his chin and blend with his skin, before he shakily pulled himself to his feet.

    “Okay,” he croaked to himself and coughed a few more times, “no way in hell am I trying that again.”

    He stood up, shaking a little, and wondered just how fetus-him had managed to feed on that.

    In fact, he wondered just how he had eaten anything at all while he was a fetus. Fetuses weren’t supposed to eat, were they? Technically, of course, he’d become self-sustaining even while he was still a fetus by human standards, but his mouth and digestive system were nothing like those of a Slugma.

    There was something very important that he was forgetting. He closed his eyes and rubbed them, trying to concentrate on the memory of when he’d seen that brief news video about the Pokémorphs years ago. A small slimy blob squirming around in an incubator – an incubator full of sand. Dave explaining off-screen that he gained nourishment from the sand by…

    He was an idiot.

    Gabriel stroked his slimy hand again over the floor and then stared at his dirty palm. The sand and dust were again sinking ever-so-slowly into the orange goo. He stared at it for a long while, watching the already tiny grains shrink and eventually dissolve into nothing. He wasn’t exactly surprised – this was, after all, why it wasn’t a problem that it was impossible for him to bathe – but this was the first time he’d ever properly realized the significance of it.

    Gabriel removed his jeans, cleaned out a corner of the room with his hands, piled his clothes there and lay down naked on the floor.

    He squeezed his eyes and mouth shut and then rolled himself awkwardly across the room. He stood up and looked with satisfaction at the line of cleanness he had left on the floor – cleanness aside from the globs of slime, of course, but that was not important. He looked down at himself and the dirt covering his entire body and watched with a triumphant glee as it slowly just disappeared, leaving his slime back to its normal orange in a matter of minutes – in fact, he must have been imagining it, but somehow it seemed to have gotten a little lighter and glowier and warmer than before.

    Gabriel began to press himself against the walls, too, gathering up the grime stuck on them, before he had an even crazier idea. Experimentally, he pushed his hands onto the bare wall, laying his weight against them. He waited still like that for several minutes, feeling his quickening heartbeat all the while, and then stepped away to find two shallow, hand-shaped depressions in the concrete, unmistakable even underneath the layer of slime.

    He laughed uncontrollably, looking at his hands in disbelief; they were a little grayish, but even that was rapidly disappearing with a renewed vigor. He wasn’t feeling one bit less hungry, in the way that he ordinarily understood the word – but as he pushed his entire body at the wall, he felt as if he were satiating some even greater hunger that he had gotten too used to to even notice. In fact, he was beginning to feel better and more energized overall than he had in years – and although it did alarm him somewhat that his skin really did seem to be getting hotter and hardening more quickly while his heart was beating as if it were about to explode, that feeling was too euphoric for him to stop.

    For the first time in his life, he felt powerful. He felt fierce. He felt like a Pokémon.

    -------

    Jean, in fact, hadn’t gone home. She cringed at the very thought of being alone in their apartment now when she direly needed a hug and some pity. So instead, she’d just run over to the next bus stop she knew of and waited for a bus anyway.

    The bus driver had a weird expression when she stepped in. She handed him the fare as quickly as she could and then walked shakily down the middle of the bus, uncomfortably aware of all the eyes on her. She didn’t look like Sarah Hooter anymore. She just looked like a freak, and they all hated her.

    She found an empty seat near the back of the bus and sat down in it, tucking her tails carefully away so they wouldn’t get in people’s way. At first she looked around, but they were all still staring, so she just looked down at her clenched fists and pretended she didn’t see them. Her hands still felt weirdly far away, almost like puppets she was controlling from the end of a stick rather than parts of her body.

    She twiddled her foot and it accidentally hit the seat in front of her; the old woman sitting there turned around with a scowl, and Jean looked back down, blushing. She tried not to move as the bus continued on its way, and she didn’t look up until she heard a couple of teenage boys who were about to get off making a joke about how it was no wonder Sarah Hooter hadn’t taken the Ultimate Fire Stone; she growled threateningly at them and they hurried out of the bus. Afterwards her throat burned, because there had been flames beginning to form, but she tried to cry as quietly as she could, and finally the bus stopped near where the Kerrigans lived, and she got off and ran all the way to the house as fast as she could.

    She knocked on the door and her dad opened it, his expression lost and bewildered. “Jean?” he asked weakly. “Christ, what the hell happened to you?”

    She was going to answer, but all that came out was a strangled sob, and she flung herself into his arms to cry on his shoulders. He was stunned momentarily but then pulled her inside and hastily closed the door. All their parents were standing around, looking exhausted and horrified.

    “I’m glad you’re okay,” her father said quickly, hugging her. “Where are the others? Are they all right?”

    It was a while before she could speak again. “I-I don’t know,” she said. “I left them after that Fire Stone evolv...” Her voice broke again.

    “And they were all okay when you left?”

    She nodded quickly and a wave of relieved tension and mutters of “Oh, thank God” travelled through the room.

    “What did they do? What were they going to do?”

    “T-they hadn’t really done anything yet,” Jean answered. “They were about to... to enter the church, but I... I wanted to go home.”

    “Shit,” her father muttered, very quietly, but she heard him anyway. “Okay,” he said, a little louder, releasing her so he could look her in the eyes, “so they’re at the Church of Holy Truth, right? The one here in the city?”

    Jean nodded.

    “I’m going after them,” said Martha Harrison immediately, her gaze steeled. “Who’s going to lend me a car?”

    “But... but then you’ll be in danger,” said Jean, looking at her.

    “I don’t care,” Martha replied. “We’re in danger here anyway. And now that I know where they are...”

    “B-but it was a trap!” Jean exclaimed. “We figured it out – they wanted us to come to rescue Gabriel, and that’s why they didn’t attack you, so you’ll be okay if you stay here.”

    Everyone stared at her.

    “Wait,” her father said, squeezing the bridge of his nose, “are you telling me they figured out it’s some sort of a trap... and then they went there anyway?”

    Jean nodded. “They wanted to save Gabriel.”

    “Oh, for the love of...” He grabbed his hair with both hands. “Shit. Why do they all have such a fucking hero complex?”

    Before anyone could reply, Lucy suddenly floated through the wall from the girls’ room and looked at Jean. “They’re waiting for them?” she asked. “They won’t come here?”

    Jean shook her head. “You’re safe.”

    Lucy looked at her for a moment with her ghostly eyes. “I’m going to help them,” she said, and without warning, she disappeared out through the front wall.

    “Lucy!” called Howard, but she was already gone.

    -------

    Peter walked innocently towards the Church of Holy Truth, concentrating fiercely on keeping his movements natural. He peered at the stained-glass windows, trying to see through them; the colored glass made it hard to see through into the darker building, and though he knew those inside would have a much easier time seeing into the sunlight, he also noticed those windows didn’t appear to open. He didn’t think these people would actually destroy the pretty glass windows of their church with bullets, even if they could avoid getting the glass all over themselves. They were probably safe until they were inside, then, but there was no real knowing. Maybe some of the windows could be opened. They could never be sure.

    He glanced towards the streets where the others were coming through. He still wasn’t sure it had been a good idea to temporarily split up, but it did make them harder targets and more difficult to spot than the rather glaring image of five kids and teens in conveniently concealing clothing all advancing towards a church together. Currently he was the closest to the building, which made him a bit nervous, but he tried to ignore it and headed in a beeline towards the door. Katherine wasn’t far behind; being his big sister, she’d insisted on being close to him.

    He quickened his pace a little, looking to the sides before he crossed the street – oh, crap, he’d just done a very conspicuous head-jerk, hadn’t he? His heart raced as he tried to decide whether it would be better to run and possibly blow his cover if he hadn’t already or to walk and remain easy to hit, but he’d started running before he’d come to a conclusion. In a sprint that may have been unconsciously assisted by a Quick Attack, he narrowly avoided getting hit by a bus, reached the door, turned the knob, opened it, went inside and slammed it behind him to catch his breath.

    The clunk of the door echoed uncomfortably in the empty church. He flicked his gaze around in several quick jerks of his head, but found only the walls and windows, benches, an altar with some candles and crosses on it, normal church stuff like that. There was a small door at the back, but there didn’t seem to be anybody in the nave. He took a few breaths to calm himself. He should just wait for the others now and then they could continue and look for Gabriel.

    The door at the back flew open, breaking the silence again. A man half-jumped out and threw it shut again, and Peter realized with a chilling feeling of horror that he was holding a pistol.

    The man’s frantic eyes locked onto him, and he pointed the gun straight at Peter and fired.

    -------

    Flames danced around Gabriel’s hand, tickling him comfortably; it took only the slightest effort to maintain them. It seemed so natural and intuitive. It was almost bizarre to think that he couldn’t do that yesterday. His heart thumped furiously. Every part of him felt hot.

    He looked at the wooden door and wanted to smash it to pieces or disintegrate it in a blaze of glory, but common sense stopped him: if he did anything too noisy and obvious, he’d attract the attention of his captors immediately if they were anywhere nearby. So he settled for pressing his fiery hands onto the door near the lock and watching the wood blacken and crumble under his fingers.

    The faint echo of a gunshot sounded somewhere above him.

    -------

    The world slowed down. Peter watched wide-eyed as a bullet came flying in his direction; he desperately tried to jump to the side, and that was when he realized that he wasn’t slowed down at all.

    He grinned as a second shot rang out and another bullet came flying; another Quick Attack allowed him to speed out of the way with no more effort than dodging a thrown softball. This was easy. They couldn’t hurt him.

    He skirted out of the way of the third bullet just as the door opened again.

    “Peter?” asked Katherine in a high-pitched, panicked voice, and the gunman immediately turned towards her and pulled the trigger yet again.

    She had no Quick Attack. All Peter could think of to help her was running into the path of the bullet as fast as he could.

    He felt it pierce through his side, leaving a path of burning pain in its wake, but saw the man raising his gun again and raced towards him instead, trying to ignore the numbness spreading through the right side of his body. Before the man could pull the trigger, Peter had reached him and awkwardly tackled him down; the gun flew out of his hand, and Peter landed on top of him with a sharp sting of pain.

    “Peter!” he hazily heard his sister screaming as she ran towards them, her footsteps echoing. The gunman pushed him off and stumbled towards where the gun was lying, but Katherine threw herself at him and tackled him down again. She shook her rose-hands desperately in his face as he tried to wrestle her away, and in a matter of seconds, his struggling stopped.

    Katherine ran over to Peter as he lay on the church floor, groaning. He felt dizzy and weak; pain throbbed where the bullet had hit him, somewhere in the middle of a strange numbness.

    “Oh, God,” she said, pale and wide-eyed. “Are you... Peter, you can’t just jump in front of...”

    That was the last thing he heard before he blacked out.

    -------

    Jack approached the front door with hurried steps. He glanced to the left, where Mia was creeping along the wall, her gaze fixed on him with something disturbingly like predatory hunger. He’d been close enough to hear the gunshots; he had to expect the worst. He shivered as he grabbed the doorknob and had to steel himself for a moment before he pushed it open.

    Involuntary static electricity was beginning to build up in his antennae even before he took in the sight of the church: a man was lying motionless on the floor next to a gun, and up nearer to the altar, Peter was lying in a pool of blood, with Katherine kneeling over him. She looked sharply up as he let the door clunk shut; he hurried over to them, his heart thumping in his chest.

    “I have to get him to a hospital,” she said, her voice strained and hysterical. Jack stared at the wound and the blood, simultaneously fascinated and horrified.

    “You call an ambulance,” he said to Katherine. “Just tell them he’s in here, and then we can continue looking for...”

    “I’m staying with him,” she said sharply. “We can’t just leave him defenceless like this.”

    Everything was wrong. It wasn’t supposed to go like this. “Look, Katherine,” Jack said pleadingly, “we need you. You can’t just...”

    “I need to protect him,” she replied, looking into his eyes; she was pale but her eyes shone with determination and he could tell nothing he could say would convince her. “It’s our fault he got involved in this. We never should have come here in the first place.”

    The front door clunked shut and Jack looked around at it in alarm. Will was shuffling inside, panting. Mia seemed to have made her way inside earlier; she was watching them steadily from close to the entrance. As Will saw Peter lying on the ground, he froze, the tip of his tail twitching as he stared at the pool of blood spreading around him.

    Jack looked back at Katherine. She’d taken out her cellphone to call an ambulance. As long as she didn’t mention anything relating to Brian’s murder or Gabriel’s kidnapping, it should be okay even if the inevitable questions reached the police. Will was hurrying over, while Mia followed him nonchalantly, looking around.

    “Is he going to be okay?” Will murmured as he knelt down by Jack’s side. The Meowth morph averted his eyes from Peter’s wound, instead staring at his face.

    “Katherine’s calling an ambulance, and they’ll get him and it’ll be fine,” Jack replied insistently. Of course it would be fine. It had to be.

    Will glanced at the sleeping man lying on the floor a bit further away. “So um... is that all? Aren’t there more of them?”

    Jack looked up. “More,” he repeated, blinking; somehow the word didn’t sink in immediately, but once it did, of course it struck him as odd. “Why aren’t there more?”

    “Must be lying in wait,” Mia said. She’d reached them now; her eyes were still darting back and forth, taking in the room. “They probably want us to proceed further inside, where it’ll be harder to run.”

    Jack’s stomach lurched uncomfortably; the thought of being ambushed somewhere deep inside an unfamiliar building was chilling. He looked around and found the door in the back that Mia’s gaze had also settled upon. “Well, we’re not running, are we?” he said. “Let’s go find Gabriel.”

    Mia simply nodded. Katherine gave him a meaningful glance: she’d be staying with her brother, no matter what he said. He looked at Will; the Meowth boy’s tail was swishing restlessly back and forth as he glanced uncomfortably at Peter’s unconscious form. He looked uncannily like a cornered kitten.

    “You coming or not?”

    Katherine was still on the phone, but she gave Jack a frantic glare and shook her head.

    “I... I’m okay,” Will muttered. “I want to help.” He stood up, and as Mia led the way towards the back door, he followed uncertainly behind Jack as Katherine gestured wildly in their direction.

    Mia stopped abruptly as they were about to reach the door. Jack held his breath as her eyes darted around.

    “There’s somebody breathing on the other side,” she said.

    Jack stared at her. “You sure?” he whispered.

    She gave him a strange look. Of course she was sure. She never said anything she wasn’t sure about.

    “Um,” Will asked quietly. “So what do we do then?”

    They never had to answer, because now the door burst open and suddenly two men were standing there, aiming handguns at them.

    Time slowed down to a crawl. A shot rang out and Will started to crumple to the ground just as Jack instinctively threw himself down; he could feel the air displacement in the wake of the second shot just above him. Energy automatically flared up in his antennae as Mia emerged from behind the door, and somehow, he simply knew what to do: he focused for a fraction of a second as one of the men was starting to lower his gun down towards him, and suddenly a burst of electricity hit the man.

    The victim let out a strangled sound as his muscles contracted involuntarily; his finger squeezed the trigger automatically, and Jack felt horrible, searing pain in his right leg. The other man, momentarily distracted by his partner’s fate, screamed when Mia slashed at his forearm, and the gun flew out of his hand; she grabbed his bloodied arm and with a disturbing strength managed to swing him headfirst into the wall. After a long moment, she released him and he fell, unmoving.

    The one Jack had Thunder Waved was lying helpless on the ground, locked in a foetal position and groaning in pain. Jack tried to stand up but couldn’t even begin to try to put weight on his shot leg. Now that the brief adrenaline rush of the fight was dying down, the pain was coming back with a vengeance, intensifying with every heartbeat. He shakily managed to drag himself over to the wall, roll over onto his back and sit up.

    “Mia,” he said and looked over at her, realizing with a jolt of horror that she’d laid out the unconscious man on the ground and was staring as if mesmerized at his pulsing jugular, her scythed arm hovering dangerously close. “Mia!” he said, louder, and she turned her head towards him. He saw her eyes flick over to his bleeding leg and stay there. “Don’t get carried away, just...”

    She stood up, and he grimaced in pain and closed his eyes, trying to wish it away. He heard Katherine approaching hurriedly and kneeling down somewhere near him. “Can somebody, um... do something about my guy before the paralysis wears off?” he managed to say, but there was no response.

    Jack opened his eyes again, and as he found Katherine, his gaze fell on Will, who was lying sprawled on the church floor next to her with a pool of blood spreading from his head.

    He felt dizzy all of a sudden. Will. He’d completely forgotten about him in the heat of the moment, and there he was, his large eyes empty and staring. Jack had the time to make out an entry wound just beside the charm on his forehead before he forced himself to look away, frantically refusing to assess the damage otherwise. Will had to be okay somehow. The image of him curled up in his sleeping bag and purring with a contented smile on his face just last night hovered in Jack’s head, clashing violently with the horrifying, dull stare of the present. He couldn’t just be gone.

    Katherine turned sharply towards him, tears of anger streaming down her cheeks. She choked on whatever words she meant to say, but he knew what she was thinking. It was his fault. Of course it was.

    Searing pain throbbed in his leg. He dimly heard several loud thumps as Mia presumably introduced the paralyzed guy’s head to a wall on the other side of the door. Katherine was right; they never should have come there. And after what happened to Peter, why had he brought Will into danger as well?

    Off where he was lying, Peter let out a groan, having seemingly regained consciousness, and Katherine immediately hurried over to him. Jack was left alone with Will and his empty stare.

    He cringed and looked away, and suddenly he remembered Felicia. He somehow managed to dig into his pocket for the Pokéball before he crawled through the doorway. “Mia,” he said hoarsely. “We just... we have to find Gabriel and get out of...”

    Mia wasn’t paying attention to him. She was staring at something that looked like a broom cupboard by the wall on the right, which she suddenly almost leapt towards and wrenched the door open.

    A scrawny guy with wide, haunted eyes half-fell out of it with a frightened yelp, managing just barely to keep his balance and point the gun he was holding at Mia with a trembling hand. She was ready before he fired it and jumped to the side, grabbed the gun arm and used it as leverage to move up behind him while he fired useless shots into thin air.

    As he struggled and screamed, she swung her other arm around and slit his throat with its blade. Blood sprayed out as the man continued feebly to fight back against her, but she held him still until his body went limp.

    Jack stared in frozen horror at the dead man and at the psychotic grin breaking out on Mia’s face as she gazed at the blood dripping from her scythe, and it surprised him as much as her when yet another gunshot rang out, her head jerked, and she collapsed on top of her prey, her eyes rolled back in her head.

    A tall, dark-haired man with piercing, icy blue eyes stood in front of another open door at the back of the room, his gun still raised, and chuckled. He looked at Jack, but the gun remained steadily pointed at Mia’s body as he walked slowly closer and fired two more shots at the back of her head.

    Jack threw Felicia’s Pokéball forward with the little strength he had just as the man pointed the gun towards him. “Use Fire Blast!” he shouted in panic.

    The Pokéball’s white sendout light burst forth, illuminating the room as it took the shape of the enormous Pokémon, and the moment the light began to fade, the man simply emptied the clip into the Arcanine’s head.

    Jack stared in horror, splattered with hot Fire-type blood. Felicia’s body collapsed in front of him. The man was already reloading his gun with quick, practiced motions. Jack tried feebly to crawl back towards the wall as he raised the weapon yet again with a satisfied grin.

    “Freeze!” came Katherine’s voice from the doorway, high-pitched and panicky. She was holding one of the other men’s discarded guns and pointing it shakily at Jack’s attacker. “You – you drop the gun, or I’ll shoot!”

    The man didn’t drop the gun. He just swung his arm towards her instead, there was yet another gunshot and a scream, and Katherine hit the floor with a thump.

    The killer chuckled softly. “Stupid girl.”

    Jack wanted to shout something defiant and angry as the man looked back at him, but all that came out was a frightened whimper. There was no one left to save him now.

    The man grinned manically and pointed the gun at him, and he braced himself for a swift death.

    A jet of flame suddenly rushed into the room from behind the gunman, and he whirled around to shoot in its direction, but the fire enveloped him completely before he could. The gun dropped from his hand; he staggered backwards, but the fire followed him mercilessly, and Jack’s heart jumped when he realized that the source of the flames was Gabriel, his skin glowing a bright orange as flames streamed from his outstretched hand.

    The man backed up against the wall, and Gabriel continued to advance towards him, glancing worriedly at Jack. As Mia’s murderer burned to death, he laughed madly among the flames, never screaming or crying; Gabriel continued to scorch his body with a shaking hand until he was finally silent and unmoving.

    “Jack,” he said weakly as the flames died down and he hurried towards his friend. “Are you all right?” He knelt down by Jack’s side, looking at the bloodsoaked leg of his jeans and then at the room. “I... is that... Felicia?”

    “I’m sorry,” Jack whispered. “It’s all my fault.”

    “It’s okay,” Gabriel murmured, still staring frozenly at the body of the Arcanine.

    “Are... are you okay?” Jack was shaking. His brain felt frozen and numb.

    “Me?” Gabriel smiled faintly for a moment. “Never better.”

    Then his eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped limply down across Jack’s lap.

    “Gabriel?” Jack shook him frantically, but the Slugma morph didn’t wake up. “Oh, no. Gabriel, you can’t die. We all came... we all came to save you and... Will, he... everyone... oh, God, please. It’s all my fault. Please don’t die.”

    He was starting to sob uncontrollably, his hands still buried in the uncomfortably hot slime of Gabriel’s back. His leg burned with pain; part of Gabriel had landed on top of it and the liquid skin was pressing into the wound. Some part of him registered in puzzlement that Gabriel was naked. What had they done to him? Why was he dying? How had he escaped? When had he learned to use fire?

    There was a groan near the door he’d come in through, and he looked frantically towards it. The first man that Mia had knocked out had regained consciousness where he was lying and was reaching for the gun he’d dropped.

    “No,” he said hoarsely as the man gripped the weapon and turned his head towards them with difficulty. “Please. We didn’t do anything to you. Please don’t.”

    The man’s eyes flicked towards the bodies of the two men they had killed and pointed the gun towards Jack with a shaky hand, his expression showing only pure terror.

    He was knocked back by an orb of purple energy as the dark shape of a little girl emerged through the wall beside Jack. She levitated to the middle of the room, forming another Shadow Ball between her small hands as her ghostly hair fluttered in a nonexistent wind and her hypnotic eyes watched the man carefully.

    “Lucy!” Jack choked out in relief before he realized that the Misdreavus morph had noticed her sister’s body lying there on the floor.

    Lucy let out a bone-chilling wail as her eyes took on a blood red glow. The man she’d attacked frantically grabbed the opportunity to shoot at her, but the bullets went through her like smoke, eliciting no reaction as she floated up straight above him and hurled the second ball of energy down at him. He screamed as it hit, but it was drowned out by Lucy’s own scream that quickly transformed into an eerie melody of concentrated agony.

    The world became pain; Jack dimly heard himself begin to scream as well as the excruciating notes dug into every fiber of his being, and then everything went black.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 26th September 2011 at 5:26 AM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  12. #112
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    ...

    Wow, Dragonfree. You really had a bloodlust coming into this, didn't you?

    I don't even know what I'm supposed to say here. I really don't. I'm used to one unexpected death in a chapter, but you just killed off almost the entire freaking cast.

    Honestly I should have seen this coming, with their kamikaze mission and all, yet I'm having a really hard time digesting what just happened.

    Unfortunately, I don't think I can really give you high marks for this chapter. I mean, sure, it had a ****-ton of blood and a lot of death, but a good chapter those things alone does not make. I feel that in order to carry out all the blood and death you wanted to, you had to thin out the actual plot. Some of the deaths, especially Gabriel's, felt too sudden and out-of-left-field. Something else that bugged me is that Jean wasn't attacked on the bus; that whole segment felt disjointed and out of whack.

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  13. #113
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    Um, the only ones that definitely died here are Will and Mia (and Felicia), who were shot in the head on-screen; what happened to the others is all ambiguous right now. Gabriel, in particular, fainted for completely unknown reasons but Jack jumps right to thinking he's dead or dying because of his horrorstruck "everyone's dying" mental state at the moment. Don't just assume everyone who was shot at all or unconscious = dead.

    Why does it seem so scandalous for Jean not to be attacked on the bus? No, nobody really likes her being there, and some of them feel actively hostile towards her, but it's a bus; there are very few people who would just attack somebody in a crowd of onlookers. They're not liked, but they're not so openly despised and reviled that they absolutely can't be in public without being assaulted. To boot, a bus is a pretty sucky place to attack anyone even if you're inclined to, what with how cramped it is, the seats and the fact it's moving. Jack advised her against using public transports because it would be uncomfortable for everyone and there possibly might be trouble, not because showing her face on a bus will automatically get her attacked. Statistically, it's far more dangerous for them to be alone somewhere out of the way with only one or a few people.

    Now, believe it or not, I was not doing this for the carnage at all. This fic is a deconstruction; if a bunch of kids with pathetic Pokémon powers confront a group of armed men who want to kill them, they will fail horribly, and there is no way this fic could have ended with anything else. I didn't want to kill Will, who is adorable and a kitty and purrs in his sleeping bag, but he's a little kid with no worthwhile powers to speak of and there is just no way that he is going to survive coming into something like this. I most certainly didn't want to kill Felicia, who's just a dog and never even had a choice. But that's life, and for the sake of the story, it had to happen. Please don't suggest I wrote this with the aim of just fitting in as much blood and death as possible and damn the rest. I'm obviously not the one to judge how well I actually pulled off what I was trying to do with this chapter, but I was trying to write reality crashing down on Jack, not just blood and death. Obviously that didn't work out as well as I'd hoped, but then it would be helpful if you could expand upon why it just felt like a mindless bloodlust fantasy to you, because clearly that's something that needs to be fixed.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 2nd June 2010 at 5:52 PM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  14. #114
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    Well, I guess that answers the "can they evolve" question. o.o Or the "can those who evolve via stone evolve" question, anyway. I find myself inclined to still wonder what the case would be for ones who are partially something that evolves elsewise...

    Continuing on the topic of evolving, I liked the evolution scene. I pretty much always like to read disturbing transformation sequences, and I think it was quite appropriate for this evolution in particular to be handled as one--considering that it involved a creature who's only partially made of stuff that's meant to evolve, it seems fitting that it would hurt like heck.

    I thought that the development involving Gabriel and his fire was pretty interesting, especially considering what led up to that. The whole... well, I know he absorbed other things, like concrete and stuff, but my brain just seems to like to call it the "dirt-eating scene" for some reason... X3 Anyway, that scene struck me as memorable on account of how awesomely bizarre it was. And kinda funny, too, in the early part of the scene when he was thinking about (and then actually attempting) eating the dirt and dust and whatnot in the non-absorption-through-the-slime sense. X3

    Now, I've mentioned "holy ****" moments before. Well, the latest chapter had pretty much an entire "holy ****" scene. And I consider this especially noteworthy since the outcome wasn't exactly what I'd call a surprise. From the moment that Jack started entertaining the notion of the morphs going and attempting to rescue Gabriel, I knew that things were most definitely not going to go smoothly for them in that endeavor should they choose to go through with it--I knew that this wasn't some "plucky band of pokémorph heroes save the day in style" type story. X3 And yet knowing that didn't stop my eyes from going wide (and, at one particular part, an audible "Holy ****ing ****!" from being spoken in here) whenever someone was killed (or even just injured).

    And on the subject of the suddenness (or, well, the in-universe suddenness--again, I was pretty much anticipating trouble in their rescue mission; I just didn't know the exact details of how that trouble would play out) of certain of the deaths, I think that that was actually a contributing factor to why those moments still managed to have an impact on me. o.o I think that the fact that they weren't drawn out or made inappropriately dramatic helped them to hit harder for me.

    Plus, I thought that it was pretty refreshing to see them handled that way since, as far as I can reckon, it was a pretty darned realistic and appropriate way for those things to be handled--not only are real-life tragic occurences honestly that sudden sometimes, but the way that what happened to Will, Mia, and Felicia happened just really seemed to me like what the ones who pulled the triggers in that scene would do and how they would do it, you know?

    And oh yes, Will in particular being taken out got quite the ;^; reaction out of me because one of my favorite characters in this + the fact that said character was kitty as all hell = that reaction out of me. But yeah, him being killed just seemed to make too much sense in that context not to happen, as was also the case with Felicia and Mia, so in a weird way I'm actually kind of glad that those things happened. o.o;

    Oh, and speaking of Mia... damn, were her last living moments in the story ever memorable. o_o I got the feeling that she was gonna be putting a blade to use at least once, and I wasn't disappointed. The "psychotic grin" that she was described as having was icing on the cake, and the fact that that moment was followed by her getting her brains blasted pretty much had the effect of super-gluing both it and what Mia did right before it to my brain. Not gonna forget that anytime soon, I suspect.

    Incidentally, what I talked about there in that last paragraph was what got the aforementioned "Holy ****ing ****!" reaction out of me. X3

    Other highlights and assorted thingies that I wanted to comment on:

    “Happy birthday,” said Bill and Jack cheerfully in unison, the Chinchou morph holding forward a large giftwrapped box. “Are Sharon and Gabriel here yet?”
    Damn. X3; I found that part both funny and sad at the same time, and the timing of it's to thank for that, I think.

    “What sort of a private investigator would take a case that requires him to save a kidnapped half-Slugma from a bunch of armed religious fanatics?”
    Can I just say that I love that there's a story that provides a legitimate reason for that question to be asked? X3

    Jack’s first instinct was to deny it and try to convince her there was nothing to worry about, but the very thought of pretending everything was okay made him feel hollow and empty. Instead, he just nodded and looked down at his webbed fingers, faintly lit by the glow of his antennae.
    Nice little bit of detail there, and a cool image to boot. Fwee for bioluminescence. :D

    “Mm.” Will curled himself up tighter, smiling in his sleep, and after a second began to let out a soft, purring noise. Jack watched him in disbelief, some part of him balking at the idea he could be purring at a time like this.
    Makes me wonder what he was dreaming about there--which in turn leads me to imagine that it involved him running through this fantasy land filled with these weird fish and turkeys and things like in this cat food commercial that I seem to recall having seen before.

    Yes. This is the sort of thing my mind does to things that are just so darned kitty. X3

    “We’ll go there and torch all the bad guys, right?” asked Jean brightly.
    Oh Lord, that she asked that brightly... XD;

    He ran over and picked it up, wiping the grime off the pages (he couldn’t help noticing that it had been lying open on a fold in the middle of a scene where one character was bashing another’s brains in with a baseball bat, and there was something disturbingly satisfying about it) and put it back into the bag.
    Nice. X3 Good ol' Jack...

    Jean’s cellphone chose this moment to start ringing with a horribly loud and obnoxiously cheery pop tune.
    Oh God. XD I can totally imagine how that must have sounded.

    “Good.” Jack nodded and turned his attention to the yellow rock and CD case in his hands. “Okay, I hope Felicia doesn’t mind becoming an Arcanine. Can somebody hold this for a moment?”

    Jean stepped up and took the rock off his hands while he reached for the minimized Pokéball in his pocket. There was a piercing scream, and Jack turned quickly around, his brain realizing belatedly that he had just given a Fire Stone to a half-Vulpix.
    That right there struck me as an "oh snap" moment.

    Her expression turned horrified as she groped at her face, and when she stroked her hands along her hair and new tails, she began to cry again.

    “What is it? Does it still hurt?” Will asked with concern.

    “No,” Jean said miserably, “but how can I be Sarah Hooter now? I look all wrong.”
    XD Leave it to Jean to be concerned about that.

    The Pokéball’s white sendout light burst forth, illuminating the room as it took the shape of the enormous Pokémon, and the moment the light began to fade, the man simply emptied the clip into the Arcanine’s head.

    Jack stared in horror, splattered with hot Fire-type blood.
    There's another nice bit of detail there, and a particularly effective one, at that--a doggie getting shot in the head isn't exactly a happy rainbow image to begin with, and adding in description of what it felt like to Jack to be splattered with her blood... *shudders* Yeah, that made it all the more disturbing.

    Lucy let out a bone-chilling wail as her eyes took on a blood red glow. The man she’d attacked frantically grabbed the opportunity to shoot at her, but the bullets went through her like smoke, eliciting no reaction as she floated up straight above him and hurled the second ball of energy down at him. He screamed as it hit, but it was drowned out by Lucy’s own scream that quickly transformed into an eerie melody of concentrated agony.

    The world became pain; Jack dimly heard himself begin to scream as well as the excruciating notes dug into every fiber of his being, and then everything went black.
    Eeee, a perish song. :D That's one of those moves that I just really like to see used in fiction. ^^


    I'm quite pleased by how this story's unfolded thus far. I look very much forward to seeing just how it concludes. :3
    DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
    (Or do. I don't actually mind.)
    The Origin of Storms | Communication

  15. #115
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    Thanks for reviewing, Sike Saner!

    So. Chapter fourteen, also known as the end. I can't promise you're going to like it; this is a bit of an odd story and that never comes out better than here. But oh well; this is it. It's been a hell of a ride. At least I did finish it in 2010.


    Chapter 14

    Jack regained consciousness in a bed. His leg stung faintly, but not quite painfully.

    His eyes snapped open as soon as everything that had happened came back to him. His parents were sitting by the side of the bed in quiet conversation, and that combined with the smell told him he was in a hospital.

    “Gabriel,” he said quickly, or rather that was what he tried, but it came out mumbled and drowsy. “Where’s Gabriel?”

    His parents looked up and were suddenly hugging him. He noticed properly now that his leg was in a cast, raised above the bed. “Is Gabriel okay?” he asked, his voice sounding a bit clearer than before.

    “They don’t know yet,” his father said quietly, rising again. “His body temperature was far too high. Some of his internal organs may be permanently damaged.”

    “What about the others?”

    “Peter and Katherine are both alive and recovering – she might lose some strength in her arm, but they’re out of immediate danger. They say it’s a miracle, probably some of it thanks to the Pokémon DNA.”

    Jack’s heart sank as his father hesitated. “So Will and Mia and Felicia...?”

    His father shook his head slowly. He wasn’t sure why that little shake horrified him so much, after he’d known it already; really, with Peter and Katherine all right, it was much better than he’d dared to hope. But somehow, the confirmation that they were gone, dead, forever – it was suffocating. He wanted to say something but had no idea what; he swallowed, looking at his father.

    His mother rose as well and looked at him. “What were you thinking?” she whispered, sounding less angry than just puzzled. Jack couldn’t answer her: he really didn’t know anymore what he’d been thinking. All the planning and excitement – that strange excitement over wandering into an obvious deathtrap – seemed faraway and bizarre, like waking up from a vivid, seemingly realistic dream only to then realize that it was nonsense from beginning to end.

    “Gabriel has to be okay,” he managed to choke up at last. “He has to be, or they all... it was all...”

    “You should rest,” his father murmured. “We’ll wake you if we hear anything.”

    -------

    The man chuckled, his stinging icy blue eyes focused on Jack as he raised his gun, except that Jack was actually Gabriel; the man began to burst into spontaneous flames and screamed in agony as he burned, but then all of a sudden Mia grabbed him from behind, scythed arm shining by his throat, and said, “Hey, Jack.”

    His eyes flicked open and he wondered momentarily in a panic why everything was white all of a sudden; then he heard his name again, and as he looked frantically around, he realized hazily that he was still in his hospital bed – and it was Gabriel that was saying his name in the bed next to his.

    “Gabriel?” he managed after blinking and shaking off some of the sleepy mist in his head.“You’re all right?”

    Gabriel nodded; he looked tired but satisfied. He was propped up against the pillows, a crude transparent plastic sheet protecting the bed from his slime. It still looked brighter and somehow healthier than usual.

    “Could you leave us for a moment?” Gabriel said after a second’s hesitation, looking at Jack’s parents, who were still sitting near his bed. They glanced at one another, then at Jack with concern, but finally stood up and left the room.

    “Thanks for coming for me,” the Slugma morph said with a faint smile as the door closed. “Maybe I shouldn’t be thankful you did something like that, but I am, so shoot me.”

    Jack couldn’t possibly find that funny considering the circumstances; Gabriel’s smile faded again and he looked away.

    “What a joke,” Jack said after a moment, staring out the window on his side of the room. “I was so desperate to save you I dragged everyone else into it too, and in the end, you were the one that saved me and they suffered for it. Near as I can tell, you could’ve gotten out by yourself without anyone getting hurt.”

    “But you didn’t know that,” Gabriel said, looking back at him. “It was brave – stupid, but brave.”

    He knew Gabriel meant well, but hearing it called brave made Jack nauseous. He thought of Will, of his wide, staring, dead eyes, and realized with a knot in his stomach that the only time he would ever see him again would be in a coffin. He remembered Brian’s funeral, the crushing, suffocating atmosphere and the mildly sickening feeling of looking at him lying there and realizing Brian wasn’t actually there anymore. And when he thought of Felicia – Christ, she was just a dog – tears angrily started to burst out at the corners of his eyes. He looked away and tried to hold it in; God, he was so stupid. He’d told them all that everything would be okay, so fervently he had almost believed it himself, and now they were dead, all for nothing – it wasn’t brave. It was stupid and pointless and wrong.

    There was a lengthy silence.

    “I thought you didn’t have any Slugma powers,” Jack said after a while, without looking at him.

    “That’s what I thought, too,” Gabriel replied. “But it seems my Slugma cells were just starving to death.”

    Jack turned towards him and blinked.

    “True story,” Gabriel went on. “My skin eats rocks. I haven’t been rolling around in sand much lately, so it wasn’t feeling too good. Then I got locked up in a really dirty room with bare concrete walls and no food, and it turns out I have badass fire abilities after all.”

    Jack looked incredulously at him.

    Then it turns out if I actually use my powers, my body temperature rises and my human organs start failing. So I’m back to sucking at life. Figures.”

    There was another long silence.

    “I don’t understand how you can be so cheerful about this,” Jack blurted out all of a sudden, looking back at him. “Hasn’t anybody told you that Will died? And Mia, and poor Felicia?”

    Gabriel’s expression quickly sobered. He was silent for a while, and for a moment Jack was terrified that he honestly hadn’t known.

    “Yeah, that’s kinda fucked up,” Gabriel replied eventually. “I know what happened, and it’s terrible, but I can’t get myself to feel like I did when Dad died. Heck, I killed a man in there. And I know I should be traumatized and never recover or something, but I’m not. I feel pretty good about it. Hell, I feel awesome. I can burn people! How cool is that?”

    Jack felt sick; he looked away.

    “You know,” Gabriel said hesitantly after a moment, his tone uncertain, “I thought this was what you meant when you talked about feeling violent and wanting to beat people up, show them you’re better than them, or whatever.”

    Something stung in Jack’s chest as he recalled that conversation. “I don’t feel like that now,” he mumbled, feeling kind of terrible for ever having thought that way. And yet, in a way it had been exciting being about to walk into that church, and just earlier he’d wanted to punch Gabriel a little, but that was just being angry, wasn’t it?

    Gabriel looked contemplatively at the ceiling for a few long moments without saying anything. Then he said, “Maybe it’s just that I won, and you lost.”

    There it was again, that inexplicable feeling, that longing to show him that no, Jack didn’t lose, he wouldn’t lose in a fair fight, and as soon as his leg was out of that cast he could –

    Jack cringed; Gabriel was looking at him, and he could tell that somehow, the other boy understood.

    “I guess Pokémon feel like this all the time,” Jack said quietly.

    “No wonder they love battling so much. One mystery explained for the ages, thanks to us.”

    They looked at one another, and for a precious moment, Jack managed to forget all about the horror in the church and winning and losing and just be glad to have his best friend back, alive and well. Then the image of dead Will assaulted him again, and he turned back towards the window.

    “You know, I think we’re all pretty fucked up in the head, one way or another,” Gabriel said after a while. “Mia was just the only one that didn’t hide it.”

    Jack nodded silently. They had to be: why else would they have gone along with him?

    -------

    ‘POKÉMORPH’ TRAGEDY AT CHURCH OF HOLY TRUTH

    Yesterday, six of the human-Pokémon hybrids created by Heywood Labs in the fall of 2000 staged an assault on a Grace City church, the Church of Holy Truth.

    The church had formerly been involved with protests against the creation of the so-called ‘Pokémorphs’, calling them ‘abominations’. The attack occurred after extremist members of the congregation had kidnapped a seventh Pokémorph, Gabriel Edwards, and held him inside the building.

    During the attack, the Pokémorphs physically assaulted five men, killing two while another two have been hospitalized with severe concussions. In self-defense, the men shot and killed two of the Pokémorphs and an Arcanine, as well as causing minor injuries to three of the other Pokémorphs.

    The reasons for the kidnapping are unknown. Investigation is still underway.

    “Self-defense,” muttered Dave, putting down the newspaper. “What a load of horse shit.”

    “What is it, Dad?” asked Jean as she spread butter on her toast.

    “Nothing,” he replied, scratching frustratedly at his scalp. “Just the media being a bunch of biased hacks as usual.”

    She nodded sagely, like she understood exactly what he meant. He picked up his cup of morning coffee and took a sip as he flipped through the rest of the paper with his other hand. He considered whether to read the in-depth article, but it would probably only piss him off more. Most of the time that wouldn’t have stopped him, really, but for the moment pissed off was just not what he wanted to feel. This was, in all likelihood, the calm before the shitstorm, the short period of mostly-ordinary life before the outraged public would swallow them whole. Ten years ago, he’d spent that calm being pissed off anyway. By now he could only be grateful there was a calm between shitstorms at all.

    His phone started to ring, and he jumped, struck in a split second with a flash of memory, the smooth voice of the psychopath as he announced that they had Gabriel. He dug it from his pocket and answered it.

    “Yes?”

    “David Ambrose?”

    “Speaking.”

    “This is your daughter’s agency. Sorry to intrude, but we could not help but hear some, ah, rumours about the events of yesterday – is it true that she has... ‘evolved’?”

    His hand tensed around the phone. “She may or she may not. What about it?”

    “Well, we just wanted to confirm that you were aware that her acting contract for the Sarah Hooter film series includes a clause stating that should she become unsuitable for her role due to injuries or other unexpected physical changes, she would lose the right to the role of...”

    He stopped listening somewhere in the middle of the sentence. “What? Really?” It had been obvious from the beginning, of course, but he’d had enough else to think about. “So she can’t have the role anymore?”

    “We’re very sorry, but the contract...”

    “Are you kidding? That’s the best news I’ve heard in months.”

    There was a beat of silence on the other end. “Well, then, Mr. Ambrose, we hope you understand.”

    “Absolutely. Thanks.”

    “Goodbye.”

    He hung up. Jean looked questioningly up at him; he took a deep breath.

    “Okay, Jean, remember the Sarah Hooter movie?”

    She nodded warily.

    “Well, turns out they’re prejudiced pricks who don’t want you anymore because you look different now.”

    She took it surprisingly well, truly – her eyes began to well up with tears, but he’d expected a tantrum the size of a freight train at the very least. “But, Jean,” he added anyway, “if they don’t want you, they’re not worth it. There are a lot of people who think you guys are pretty freaky, but you’re better than all of them put together, okay?”

    She sniffled and nodded. Then, after a pause, she looked up and asked hopefully, “Can I torch them?”

    Shit. “Ah,” he replied, scratching the back of his neck, “torching might not be such a good idea after all. You, uh, you saw – you heard what happened to...”

    “Will,” she finished quietly, looking back down at the table. There was silence; she poked listlessly at her toast. He looked at her, unsure what to say. She hadn’t known Brian that well and hadn’t been particularly bothered by his murder; there hadn’t been a lot of explaining or comforting to do then.

    “I’m glad you came back, Jean,” he ended up saying.

    “Was it stupid to go?” she asked, looking up at him with a worried earnestness.

    “Stupid?” He considered it. “Not exactly. You were just trying to be heroes. Thing is, the heroes you read about in books aren’t real. There’s always a writer watching over them and making sure they win out in the end and the bad guys get caught. In the real world, we aren’t that lucky. There’s nobody watching over us, and the bad guys win all the time. You could all have died and the universe wouldn’t care. That’s why you have to be careful and you can’t play heroes – because the universe doesn’t care, but the people you know care and they’re going to be heartbroken if something happens to you.” He paused to breathe, rather pleased with himself for the spontaneous life lesson. “Promise you’ll never do anything like that ever again, all right?”

    Jean nodded wordlessly.

    “Good.” He sighed. “Too bad it’s too late to tell that to Will and Mia.”

    Unexpectedly, that sentence left a lump in his throat, and it refused to go away, so he didn’t say anything else and turned back to his newspaper.

    “Dad?”

    “Mm?” He took a sip of his coffee. It was getting cold.

    “Do you miss Mia?”

    He looked up, forgetting the cup halfway down to the table. “What?”

    “I mean,” Jean went on, hesitantly, “I was friends with Will, and you were friends with Mia, right?”

    “Friends?” He put the cup down, looking back at the paper. “I wouldn’t say friends.”

    “Oh.” Jean paused, looking at him with those new red eyes of hers that he was still getting used to; they always gave him the strangest feeling she was reading his mind. “She didn’t really have any other friends, though. I think she really liked being with you.”

    “Maybe.” He picked up the coffee again. Why were newspaper crosswords so fucking indecipherable?

    “I think maybe she...”

    Dave put the cup down, more harshly than he intended. “Goddamn it, Jean, she’s dead. There’s no point talking about her friends or lack thereof anymore. Just give it a rest. Christ.”

    Jean closed her mouth and looked down at the table.

    “And she was a fucking sociopath anyway. Odds are she wouldn’t understand the word ‘friendship’ if you gave her a goddamn dictionary to look it up in.”

    Jean nodded vaguely without looking up.

    Dave rose and put the empty coffee cup in the sink before rubbing his eyes. Calm before the shitstorm. Try not to spend it being pissed off or taking it out on her. God knew she’d been through enough in the past couple of days. “Sorry, Jean. I’m in a bad mood.”

    “It’s okay, Dad,” she said with a sudden cheerfulness, like nothing had happened at all, and he took a moment to marvel at her ability to change her mood in less time than it took to blink. Did Vulpix even do that? Sometimes he wondered if she was just faking it to cope.

    “Oh!” she exclaimed suddenly. “The Pichu Brothers are on TV!” And then she grabbed his hand and began to drag him over to the living room.

    “Yeah.” He sighed. “Cartoons. Sounds good.”

    -------

    The funerals were simple and quiet, except for the protesters. Some were probably from the Church of Holy Truth; others held signs saying MURDERERS or DETAIN THE POKÉMORPHS. The police kept them at bay, but Cheryl couldn’t help getting the feeling that was not the only reason they were there.

    Will got a few powerful eulogies of his own. He’d been a sweet, adorable kid, after all – anyone would put in a good word for him now that he was gone. But Mia... people exchanged awkward glances when Cheryl attempted to sort through what good could be said about her, knowing everyone who was listening had heard the rumours, that the Scyther morph’s last act in life had been cold-blooded murder.

    It crossed her mind, many times, that they were all probably kind of relieved Mia was dead. It crossed her mind, too, that as much as she had tried to understand her, treat her as a person and act like she was just different rather than disturbed, some part of her was a little relieved as well.

    Then, after she stepped down, Dave delivered a passionate speech that somehow managed to make the half-Scyther sound merely eccentric and unreasonably persecuted, and though it reeked of half-truths and was a little awkward to listen to, she somehow really appreciated it.

    Lucy had been silent ever since the incident. She just watched, her eerie red-and-yellow eyes hypnotic and somehow accusatory, as the coffin was lowered into the grave, and spent the rest of the day standing around dully, only communicating in more haunting stares at anyone who tried to get her to talk. Even while concerned about her, Cheryl felt some irrational envy at the fact she could feel such unconditional love for her sister, without a trace of the fear and alarm that tainted her own feelings.

    Perhaps it was just the Misdreavus girl’s innocence and naivety. Or perhaps she just had nothing to fear. After all, she had terrifying power, possibly more terrifying than Mia’s had ever been – she just acted more normal about it.

    That night, as they were watching television in the living room, she tried to hug the girl, but she had made herself insubstantial and showed no reaction to the gesture at all.

    “Lucy,” she murmured, “even though Mia is gone, we have to move on. You can’t refuse to talk forever.”

    Lucy’s gaze locked onto her, and Cheryl found herself unable to look away – actually, physically unable. There was a resentful coldness in the girl’s ghostly eyes, and Cheryl’s mind was suddenly assaulted with flashes of raw emotions: pain, injustice, hatred, a disturbing longing to hurt. Then it was gone, so quickly she almost thought she might have imagined it.

    She could move again; she pulled away, shivering, and averted her eyes from her daughter for the rest of the evening.

    She considered mentioning it to Howard that night, but didn’t.

    -------

    Jack looked at Dave, then at the other morphs’ clueless faces, and then at their parents standing near the hospital wall, looking grave. “So what is this about?” he asked, his throat dry. If they were all here, it couldn’t be good.

    “Well,” Dave began. “The good news is that you’re all legally juveniles and employed force only after provocation. Lawyer thinks he can get you off completely in court, Pokémorphs or not.”

    They looked at one another, waiting for the continuation.

    “On the other hand, a committee is being put together to establish a ruling on whether you’re ‘dangerous nonhumans’ and what should be done about it.”

    Jack stared at him, his stomach twisting itself into a knot.

    “Thing is, there was a precautionary law put in place before you were born to ensure that if you turned out psychotic or otherwise apparently a danger to society, they’d have a solid basis on which to put you all away. I managed to talk our way out of it when Mia just scratched some guy, but it’s kind of hard to do the same when two people are dead, no matter how justified. So there’s a committee, there are going to be special hearings, and depending on the outcome you could all get institutionalized, or forced hormone treatments, or whatever those bozos think up.”

    “What?” Gabriel asked in disbelief. “All of us?”

    “The fuck do you think they understand about genetics?” Dave replied irritably. “As far as they’re concerned you’re all the same thing armed with different ways to kill people. It might have been easier to convince them you’re okay if it were just Mia, but you guys weren’t exactly Gandhi in there either. Burnt corpses tend to leave something of an impression on people.”

    Gabriel glanced uncomfortably around at the others. After his victorious euphoria had worn off and his skin had returned to more or less its former condition, he’d been considerably less enthusiastic about that particular part of the events at the church, but Jack supposed Dave would never let that stop him from rubbing it in.

    “So is there nothing we can do?” Katherine asked hesitantly.

    “Well, odds are they’ll call at least some of you in for a hearing. Some of us, too. Only thing to do is to act normal, tell them something that sounds good and hope to earn enough sympathy for them to miraculously decide to let you off.”

    Jack’s heart sank, but the feeling was dulled with familiarity; by now it was just a faint little sting, and he couldn’t help thinking, the idea somehow horrifying him, the day would come that he would stop feeling it at all.

    -------

    “Mr. Ambrose, what is your connection with the Pokémorphs?”

    “I made... had a part in making them. I’m also the father of Jean Ambrose, the Vulpix Pokémorph.”

    “What was your experience of their characters before this incident?”

    Dave sighed. “They’re great. Wonderful people. Wouldn’t harm a fly, except I guess Mia.”

    “And what made you think that?”

    “Same thing that makes you trust anyone else you know.” He paused. “Some of them are a little eccentric, okay. We didn’t touch anything we thought was connected to personality or behaviour, but genes are complicated and there’s always something. But when you talk to them and spend time with them, they’re human and normal. They have normal hobbies and normal interests and talk about normal things, for the most part. They have a normal understanding of what’s good and evil. There’s nothing unstable or dangerous about any of them, except maybe Mia but she’s not the issue here.”

    “We trust you are aware of the circumstances of Isaac Daniels’ death...?”

    Did they think he was a fucking idiot? “That was self-defense. The man had just kidnapped and threatened him and shot at least two of his friends, and he was aiming the gun at a third – he’d just shot his dog, for Christ’s sake. Did you expect him to stand around and watch? Nobody would stand around and watch. Nobody should stand around and watch when you could be stopping a psycho from murdering someone in cold blood. I don’t see why you’re even bringing that up.”

    “There is testimony to the effect that Gabriel Edwards continued to deploy fire for an extended period of time until it proved lethal.” Fuck, who told them that? Jack?

    “Look, he was in shock and scared for his life. Why would he be thinking of trying not to kill the guy? Roasting him until he stops moving makes sense to me, when it’s a psychopath who’d kill you if you took your eyes off him.”

    The committee looked down at him with irritatingly neutral expressions. “Do you believe the Pokémorphs did the right thing, Mr. Ambrose?”

    “No,” he replied patiently. “But imagine being in their shoes. All your life you’ve been reading Sarah Hooter books and having it ground into your head that kid heroes can go up against dangerous criminals and win. And sure, you realize that kids aren’t solving crimes and saving lives left and right in real life, but things are going to get a lot fuzzier in your head when you actually have superpowers. Combine it with the adults in your life being unable to do a thing to save your friend whereas you think you can? Your kids would’ve done the same thing. They didn’t go in there wanting to kill anyone, for Christ’s sake – they just wanted to save Gabriel’s life. And if it turns out they need to Flamethrower the ringleader behind the kidnapping in the process, they’re going to do it – because they have to, not because they have a genetic predisposition towards murder.”

    Clackity-clack went the typist as he caught his breath. Yeah, write that down, he thought. That needs to be on the record.

    The head of the committee cleared his throat. “What about Mia Kerrigan’s attacks on her schoolmates and subsequent murder of...”

    “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” he blurted out before he could stop himself, “she’s irrelevant. Yeah, she was a little screwed up, I admit, but she got three bullets through her brain and the rest of them aren’t half Scyther, if you haven’t noticed. Plus those kids at her school kept provoking her.”

    There were a few tense moments of silence.

    “So are you of the opinion that the Pokémorphs should walk free?”

    “Of course I am. They’re not animals to be kept in cages. They’re smart, nice, well-raised human kids who look at a little different. That’s all.”

    The members of the committee wrote something down, impassively, neutrally, as if this was an issue with multiple valid sides to consider instead of a matter of basic, supposedly inalienable human rights. Fucking bureaucrats.

    The man in the center finally looked up. “Thank you, Mr. Ambrose. That will be all.”

    That was it. All he would get to say before they took them all away. He wanted, burningly, to make a glorious exit, to tell those committee shitfaces exactly what he thought of them, but bit back the urge, for the sake of the morphs. It would only hurt their already hopeless case.

    They were all basically his kids, for fuck’s sake.

    With a deep breath, he stood up, nodded vaguely to the committee and turned towards the exit.

    -------
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 26th September 2011 at 5:27 AM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  16. #116
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Iceland
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    Default

    It wasn’t as bad as Gabriel had thought, honestly. Restrained from society at large sounded bad, but they tended not to be around society at large much, anyway. He’d miss the comic book store, but most of his and Jack’s friends’ parents had already voiced their full permission for their kids to continue to visit if it came to that, and there were always computers – hell, video chats, even – to keep in touch with Ben. The morphs had always spent a lot of time at home, and they’d still be able to see each other if they were driven between places during the night. And though the warning signs posted around their homes made him cringe, there was a strange sense of relief in never having to see that repulsed look on people’s faces or those nervous sideways glances again.

    Which wasn’t to say everyone agreed. Dave, for one, thought it was a travesty of justice. But after spending what felt like years thinking he might live out the rest of his life in solitary confinement, punctuated with a gripping, irrational fear that somehow the ‘Put the Pokémorphs Down’ group would get their way after all, it felt downright liberating.

    (He’d had nightmares about being strapped down on a table, with faceless figures in black suits giving him injections, then woken up paralyzed and convinced that his breathing was slowing down. By now he wasn’t sure any realistic result would’ve disappointed him, really.)

    The night before the law was to formally take effect, he snuck out to see the town properly with his own eyes for probably the last time. The streets were empty in the harsh light of the streetlamps. Everything was silent, in that beautiful, calming way rather than the heavy, unsettling way. He walked around rather aimlessly, turning at random; there wasn’t anywhere in particular he wanted to see so much as just taking in the neighbourhood. He didn’t know it that well; he’d lived in a different part of town with his dad.

    Eventually he wandered into a nearby playground. For a moment he looked at the deserted swings and slide and was a little sad he’d never see little kids playing in them again. Then it hit him that every time he actually had, the kids would notice him and scream or run to their parents.

    Really, wasn’t he a lot better off just enjoying the world through photos and movies, where he could pretend his presence didn’t just fuck everything up?

    He sat down on the edge of the sandbox and sighed, laying his hand on the nearest mound of sand. Almost immediately he felt warmth trickle up his arm; he shivered. It felt nice, satisfying.

    And, against the doctors’ advice, he couldn’t resist burying his other hand in the sand as well.

    He felt his skin heat up as a sensation of power spread through his body. He removed his hands quickly and stood up, feeling a little lightheaded.

    His left hand swept across the air, flames sprouting in its wake. It took only a moment of concentration to send a long tongue of fire into the air from his right hand. The sheer destructive force he knew he had was incomparably thrilling.

    He thought back to Isaac Daniels’ charred body, felt powerful and victorious, and then sat back down, shuddering and a little horrified at himself. It took a while for his high to wear off before he felt safe around his own thoughts again.

    Maybe it was really for the best to keep them away from society.

    -------

    What if?

    That question haunted Katherine, never leaving her alone for very long at a time. She’d grown pretty used to it, but it didn’t stop pounding in her brain, and she wasn’t sure it ever would.

    Peter was still just a kid. To him, it had just been a mistake – one that very nearly cost him his life, maybe, but he was still at that carefree stage of life where he could look at it afterwards and think of it as an adventure, to some extent. Will’s death affected him, but there was a certain disconnect between it and the rescue mission in his mind.

    Katherine couldn’t do that. She was the fastest-growing morph, for all intents and purposes in her late teens. They were kids and wouldn’t know better, but she should have known better – she had known better, but she’d gone and given in to Jack anyway for some reason she couldn’t even begin to comprehend now.

    She should’ve been more responsible.

    Again and again, her mind imagined what might have happened if she’d simply refused to go. Would Jack ever actually have taken the car? Surely not. And then Gabriel would have discovered his powers and escaped on his own, and made his way home, and they’d have called the police, and everything would have been okay. She clung to this fantasy, imagining it vividly again and again and wishing desperately that she could will it into existence or rewind time.

    But with every new time she imagined it, there was more time to rewind. The tangibility of the fantasy was slowly fading away, replaced with a cheesy fairy-tale-like glamour. It was silly and still she couldn’t stop thinking about it: what if?

    She sighed wearily, turning her swivel chair away from her desk. There was an essay she was supposed to turn in by mail, but she couldn’t focus on it. She let her pencil drop and shook her arm; her right shoulder stung with phantom pain. Maybe she’d been lucky to be left-handed, after all. It would have sucked if she’d been shot in her good arm.

    There was a sudden knock on her door. She looked up to find Peter opening the door carefully.

    “What is it?” she asked.

    Peter shrugged nervously, stepping inside. “Just wanted to talk, I guess.”

    She turned her chair towards him, and he took that as an invitation to sit down on her bed. Her brother hesitated once there, looking around; his neck moved in small, birdlike jerks, indicating he was either nervous or just not trying.

    “They’re...” he said after a moment, “they’re not going to let me continue my Pokémon journey next year, are they?”

    “No,” she replied flatly. “You can’t be around normal people ever again, unless they choose to come to you.”

    He contemplated that for a few seconds. “If they come to me? So technically... I could be a Gym leader?”

    She stared at him, and he tilted his head questioningly, like a pigeon. “Somehow I think parents would have a problem with that,” she said, raising her eyebrows.

    He paused again, thinking. “But what if there’s a barrier and a remote-controlled Pokéball thrower, so that we can have the Pokémon battle but I wouldn’t really be able to go near the challengers?”

    She couldn’t help it; something about it just cracked her up. He didn’t take offense to it, she hoped.

    “I haven’t seen you laugh in a while, Kathy,” he said, conversationally, when she’d stopped giggling.

    “There hasn’t exactly been much to laugh about, has there?” she said dryly.

    Peter shrugged, looking out the window. It was gray and rainy, but knowing him, he probably still wished he was outside. That was certainly going to get a lot harder for him now.

    “You know, maybe you can be a Gym leader one day,” Katherine said after a moment. “Crazier things have happened.”

    He smiled a little. “You don’t have to say that. Thanks, though.”

    She looked at him, and he looked back at her, thinking. “How’s your arm?” he asked.

    “Better, I think,” she said. She wasn’t sure it was better at all, or would ever be better, but there was no reason to worry him. He’d suffered enough because of her thoughtlessness.

    Peter was looking longingly out the window again now; he sighed. “What are we going to do?” he asked, jerking his head back to her.

    What were they going to do? What sort of half-life could they have, confined outside society forever? In theory they could have jobs if they could do the work at home – school still worked, just about – but what employer would hire them?

    She looked at her brother. “We’re going to live,” she said. “Somehow. And maybe the law gets repealed sometime in the future and we can pretend to be normal again. Until then, all there is to do is survive and make the best of it even if it sucks. That’s what we’ve always done.”

    Peter nodded silently, looking at the window again.

    “You can probably be outside if you stay within the fence,” Katherine said eventually. “It’s not like anybody’s going to be there. Just ask Mom and Dad first.”

    His face lit up. “You think so?”

    “Sure. Just be glad we don’t live in the city.”

    “Maybe I can even train my Pokémon,” Peter said excitedly, standing up and taking a step towards the door.

    Suddenly he hesitated and turned back to her. “Are you going to be okay?”

    “I’ve got roses for hands, Pete. I would’ve had a crappy life anyway.”

    He gave her a skewed smile in response and then left the room. She heard the echo of his footsteps through the closed door.

    Yeah. Her life would’ve been shit anyway. This probably didn’t change that much for her, aside from definitively ruling out those violin lessons, but really, who had she ever thought she was kidding with that?

    She just wasn’t so sure about the others.

    -------

    Jack stared at the sidewalk below, hands clenched around the railing.

    He’d always had those little flashes of morbid thoughts. When he handled a knife, for instance, he’d briefly imagine slitting his own throat with it, or even stabbing someone else. It wasn’t anything he would ever act on; it just came up as a dramatic hypothetical, and usually it would make him shudder and then cut his toast and forget about it. It was the same with high places: he’d look down and some part of him would think, what if I jumped? It would just never have crossed his mind to take it seriously.

    Until now.

    He was on the balcony of their apartment, looking down. It was oddly thrilling, just standing there contemplating what it would feel like to fall from this height. He imagined the momentary rush of air and the sudden sharp shock at the end. He imagined looking down at his own body, lying in a heap on the pavement, blood dripping from his fractured skull. It didn’t make him shudder this time; in fact, the thought was strangely appealing.

    Slowly, trancelike, he stepped onto the base of the balcony railing. His stomach fluttered and he closed his eyes; the breeze tickled his skin as the handrail swayed ever so slightly under his weight, fragile. He imagined it breaking, tumbling down and taking him with it. Again, the thought was more fascinating than disturbing.

    Some desperate instinct was starting to warn him off, that no, no, this was a stupid thing to do, stupid and selfish and pointless – but its objections seemed flat and feeble. He swung his leg over the railing and stepped down on the outside of it instead. His other leg followed, and he turned carefully around to face outwards, his hands wrapped around the handrail as tightly as he could. That wasn’t very tightly; his fingers were still webbed and weak, after all.

    He looked down, feeling his heart thumping. Again there was that indescribable thrill of being so tantalizingly close to falling: he imagined leaning forward until his hands were too weak to hold him up anymore, or just letting go and closing his eyes and going limp. It was so easy. It would be easy. Why wouldn’t it be?

    He thought he heard something, but it barely registered in his mind. He closed his eyes and took deep, shuddering breaths. The cold wind ruffled his hair. It felt nice, peaceful. And wasn’t that how everyone wanted to go?

    “Jack?” he heard Gabriel say from inside the apartment.

    His eyes flew open. Jump, said his mind urgently; jump, before he sees you and stops you.

    He heard Gabriel’s footsteps approaching the living room. It’s the only way. You have to. Jump!

    It was too late. “Jack!” Gabriel screamed behind him. He tried to let go, but the hypnotic thrill of the idea was gone; suddenly the cold was biting and the height was terrifying. Gabriel rushed out onto the balcony, and he felt the Slugma morph’s slimy hands grab onto his arm, tightly. For some stupid reason he started to sob.

    “Jack, for God’s sake, get back over here right now.” Gabriel’s voice was trembling. Jack took a few shaky breaths, his eyes closed. He imagined wrestling away from him and throwing himself down anyway. He imagined pulling Gabriel down with him, the Slugma boy’s eyes widening in fear as they plummeted towards the ground.

    That was the thought that finally made his heart lurch in his chest, gave him that shuddery wake-up call. His stomach roiled as he looked down, and against his mind’s screams of protest, he started to turn around. His legs were like jelly; it struck him that without Gabriel to support him, he’d probably fall anyway. He tried to climb back onto the balcony, but he was too weak, and Gabriel had to half-lift him over the railing; then the Slugma morph dragged him inside and closed the door.

    “What...” Gabriel began, as Jack collapsed on the sofa, shaking. The Slugma boy’s yellow eyes were wide, his expression concerned and alarmed. “What the hell, Jack?”

    “You don’t understand,” Jack said, his voice cracked, looking down. “It’s all my fault, first Will and Mia and Felicia and now this house arrest th...”

    “I don’t understand?” Gabriel interrupted, abruptly pulling him to his feet by the arm and forcing him to look at him. “Jack, I looked a man in the eye and burned him to death!”

    Jack fell silent, a little puzzled by the remark, staring at his friend; there was a weird, desperate intensity in his eyes.

    “Listen to me,” Gabriel went on, calmer but still urgent, not letting go of his arm. “Terrible mistakes aren’t fixed by making more terrible mistakes. And sometimes you don’t really want to go on living, but then you try to fix your life so that it’s worth living. You don’t just...”

    His voice died down for a moment. “For God’s sake,” he started again, “what if I hadn’t been here to stop you?”

    And then, suddenly, Gabriel pulled him into a hug. Jack was too stunned to react at first; then all he could think of doing was hugging him back as he broke into stupid, involuntary sobs again.

    It was a few seconds before Gabriel relaxed his grip on him, stepped back and looked away. “I’m... I’m sorry,” Jack choked out. “It was just...” He shifted. “How can I have the right to just go on living like nothing ever happened, when they died because of me?”

    “Well, you have to,” Gabriel said, jerking his head back towards him. “The last thing we need is more tragedy. It wasn’t your fault; it was the shooters’ fault. And even if it were your fault, it wouldn’t stop being it if you killed yourself. A murderer who dies is just a dead murderer. Death doesn’t fix things. It doesn’t work that way.”

    Jack took a deep breath and sank back into the sofa. After a moment, Gabriel sat down beside him. They stared at the blank screen of the television.

    “How do you deal with it?” Jack said quietly. “Having killed someone, I mean?”

    Gabriel didn’t answer for several seconds. Jack looked at him.

    “He killed my dad,” Gabriel said at last. “He killed Felicia. He shot Katherine. He tried to kill you. The guy who killed Will probably did it on his orders. He was a monster and he deserved it.”

    Jack shuddered inwardly, guilt stinging at him: Will wasn’t a monster; he shouldn’t be dead. There was no justification for...

    “But you know what?” Gabriel went on suddenly. “I didn’t even know who he was when I did it. I knew he was trying to kill you, and that was why I attacked him, but I don’t think that’s why I kept going until he was dead. I was enjoying it. And I wish that was because he killed my dad, but it wasn’t.” His voice was starting to break. “God, I’m so confused right now.”

    He paused a moment, but then all of a sudden looked desperately at Jack. “You know, maybe I’m a monster too. But you aren’t a monster. You were just trying to help me, and it wasn’t your fault things turned out how they did. And yet here you are trying to kill yourself, and all I can think is, if you think you deserve to die, what the fuck am I still doing here?”

    Gabriel looked away and fell silent. Jack stared at him for a few seconds, his brain frozen, thoughts jumbled, unsure what to say.

    “Thanks for saving me,” he said eventually, quietly, looking back at the TV. “Both times. I’m sorry you had to do it again.”

    Gabriel was still looking in the other direction; he shifted but didn’t respond. After a moment, Jack added, “I don’t think you’re a monster. You just did it to help me. That’s all.”

    The Slugma boy turned around, his face doubtful. For a couple of seconds he just looked miserably at Jack; then his expression hardened and he said, “Yeah. I guess that was all.”

    Jack dared to smile, tentatively; a wave of relief passed through him when Gabriel actually smiled back.

    “Please don’t try that again,” Gabriel said quietly, and suddenly it struck Jack that the Slugma morph had already lost his father and Will and Felicia; to make him lose his best friend too was downright cruel, wasn’t it?

    He shook his head. “I won’t. You’re right. It won’t fix anything.”

    Gabriel smiled again, forcedly; then he suddenly stood up. “Want to play some Blood Sport III?”

    The suggestion was a little suspiciously overeager, but Jack was grateful for it anyway. “Sure.”

    After about a dozen rounds of brutally beating up various characters and adamantly pretending Gabriel wasn’t losing on purpose, Jack was actually beginning to feel almost okay.

    -------

    Dave opened a new can of beer and took a good swig of it before putting it down on the table and throwing himself into the sofa with a sigh.

    Permanently grounded. What sort of a fucking life were they supposed to have after this? And yet people kept insisting it was pretty lucky because they could theoretically work and get education and see friends.

    He drank a little more. To think that ten years ago making Pokémorphs had just seemed like an amusing idea. He’d been at that party, just drunk enough, and suddenly it had hit him – the way Pokémon and human genomes could be viably combined, even for wildly different species. It was a stroke of true genius, probably the greatest scientific insight of his life, and of course he’d had to do something with it. How could he not? Even Howard had been excited about it, and when was he ever excited?

    Originally it had just been a proof of concept thing. He’d been sure it would work, but they’d had to silence the inevitable sceptics before the publication of their discovery would put them in the spotlight. Or something. It had seemed to make sense at the time. They’d all been well aware of the risks, of course; so aware of everything that was not quite legal or ethical about the creation of the embryos that it had never even crossed their minds that somebody would have a problem with the abortion.

    That was the problem. The creation was already done; there was nothing to do about that after it got out. Keeping them alive was ridiculous, but it was the one thing that could be done to please somebody in the midst of all the general outrage.

    He’d never wanted to have kids. At the time he’d actually thought that was the worst thing ever to happen to him. He chuckled mirthlessly at the thought before picking up his beer again and taking another long sip.

    And then the morphs had grown up and he’d come to realize that they were the most fucking amazing kids in the history of the universe.

    Oh, sure, people loved to pat themselves on the back saying everyone’s special. But Mia was fucking unique. There would never again be anyone like her. Vanilla humans were all identical fucking twins in comparison, and yet everyone, even Howard and even Cheryl – Christ, he’d thought she was better than that – stood around talking about Mia’s death as if nothing of value had been lost. And they mourned Will like he was just another sweet little bullied kid, too. It was fucking tragic.

    He thought about the little rips and scratches covering the sides of the passenger seat of his car, and about Will beaming as he showed him how he could use Pay Day, and about buying hotdogs and arguing with the principal, and about Joe’s idiot kids he knew had treated their half-Meowth brother like shit all his life – all his measly fucking ten years of life –

    – and this, he thought, emptying the beer can before squeezing it so hard it crumpled under his fingers, was why God didn’t exist: because a real creator would love his creations too fucking much to leave them to die in a world like this under the pretense of free will.

    He tossed the can away as hard as he could. It hit the wall with a clatter, then bounced a few times off the floor before coming to a standstill. He looked at it for a few seconds and then, stupidly, he broke into uncontrollable sobs.

    What the fuck.

    He turned to face towards the back of the couch, waiting for it to pass, despising that his body thought that was going to fucking help. It was a couple of minutes before he’d gotten it under control.

    “Dad?”

    He sprang up in alarm only to find Jean standing by the couch in her pyjamas, looking concerned. He blinked and rubbed his face. Had she been watching him cry? “Shit, Jean,” he mumbled. “What are you doing up?”

    “Um...” she said hesitantly, “I heard a noise so I came to check what it was.”

    The can, he realized. “Oh,” he said, slumping back down on the sofa. “Sorry I woke you.”

    Jean looked up at him. “Are you okay?”

    “I’m fine.”

    “Why were you crying?”

    Oh, Christ. “It was nothing. Go back to bed.”

    She gave him a sceptical look, red eyes piercing accusingly into his. “You don’t cry when it’s nothing.”

    He blinked. “Well,” he said after a pause, “I was angry with the bastards that killed Will and Mia.”

    He walked over to the fridge, glancing at Jean as he took out a second can of beer and opened it. She watched him as he walked back over to the couch, taking a sip.

    “And the committee that’s having you locked up like animals,” he went on, “and all the self-proclaimed Pokémorph supporters who think that was a pretty cool compromise.”

    As he sat down again, she nodded, very slightly. It made him feel better, in some bullshit psychological Asch-experiment way.

    “And Brian,” he went on without really meaning to after chugging down a bit more. “They shot Brian through the fucking heart, just because he had the audacity to be standing behind me. What the hell are you supposed to do in a world like that?”

    Jean looked at him for a few seconds, her eyes sad and lonely and inhuman. Fuck, he wished he could just help her, help all of them. But there wasn’t any help to give. All there was to do was make some shitty attempt to be a father and try to hold a fucking beach umbrella over their heads when the world sent tsunamis their way.

    “Jean,” he said, raising the can to his lips once more, “I’m sorry you have to live on this shithole of a planet.”

    And then suddenly she sat down beside him, wrapped her arms around him and whispered, “It’s going to be okay, Dad.”

    He blinked; it was almost like she was trying to reassure him instead of the other way around. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Was she worrying about him on top of everything else?

    He felt her starting to sniffle into his shoulder. “Yeah,” he said numbly. “Everything probably is going to be okay.”

    But that didn’t make her better, it seemed; she was shaking with sobs now, squeezing him tightly. He had no idea what to say.

    “It’ll probably be overruled,” he managed eventually. “They’ll probably realize their mistake and give you all free rein again.” He paused; she was still weeping quietly.

    “The church’ll be disbanded,” he went on. “Everyone will realize you’re just people like them. You can walk out in the streets all alone and people’ll just nod and smile. You’ll grow up and get jobs and have a great life. And...” And they’d take Will and Mia to a fucking Pokémon Center, and they’d get revived by a machine that goes bing, and everyone would live happily ever after. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    At least Jean had stopped sniffling now.

    “You should go back to bed,” he murmured. She shifted, nodding, and then stood up.

    “Good night, Dad,” she said quietly.

    “Sleep tight, sweetie.” He put his beer down on the table and watched her close the door.

    Happily ever after. Yeah, wouldn’t that be fucking nice?

    It was a good thing Jean couldn’t hear him cry through her door.

    ------

    Author’s note: So that’s it. Morphic is done. I’m saying this because I realize it doesn’t feel much like a traditional end and if I didn’t state it explicitly I would undoubtedly get a slew of confused comments asking when it’s going to be updated.

    That said, this fic is no exception to my compulsive rewriting syndrome, so you haven’t seen the last of it. A whole lot of things especially in the earlier chapters bug me, particularly because for a while my conception of the plot was limited to ‘there are Pokémorphs and religious fanatics try to kill them’ (and later to ‘religious fanatics eventually kidnap Gabriel for some reason and the others try to save him’). The first half of the fic just goes into slice-of-life introducing all sorts of stuff that never gets picked up on (the kids calling Mia possessed at school especially come to mind) with one random exaggeratedly evil villain-POV. I like to think that a rewrite could be a lot more focused, what with me actually knowing what the plot is like from the beginning. Which isn’t to say it would do away with the slice-of-life aspect – it would just try to make it feel like the fic is actually going somewhere interesting with all this and have a clearer idea of what’s relevant and what isn’t.

    This prospective rewrite also means that your comments would absolutely not be wasted just because the story is already over. If something in any chapter is ridiculous or makes no sense or contradicts something else or whatever, now is the perfect time to point it out to make sure I’ll do something about it in the rewrite. So get criticizing, everyone! I will greatly appreciate every nitpick, provided it’s a valid objective complaint (as opposed to a plea to add a Mewtwo morph or to make the ending happy).

    I also might (that’s a big might) possibly do a sequel at some point in the future, but please don’t get your hopes up; my ideas for it at the moment are extremely vague and have a ways to go before they start to make any real sense, if ever.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 26th September 2011 at 5:34 AM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  17. #117
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Earth
    Posts
    1,969

    Default

    Whew... I'm glad that Gabriel seems to be doing all right, physically speaking; I'd been concerned about him, thought that he might have gone and fatally fried himself inside.

    I shudder to think of what Jack might have done if that had happened. o_o;

    Speaking of whom, his "balcony scene" was memorable as hell right from the start:

    Jack stared at the sidewalk below, hands clenched around the railing.
    A couple of seconds after reading that, I found myself thinking, Oh ****, of course... of course he'd be doing such a thing, what with the paragraph that followed that and my consideration of all that he'd been through and the reactions that he'd already shown to it. My immediate reaction to that line, however: O__O That one line definitely had a good, strong punch to it, the kind that just arrests my thoughts and just leaves me reacting to it for a moment.

    There was a nice degree of suspense in that scene; it did keep me guessing as to whether or not he would indeed go all the way through with it (and then it furthermore went and brought me that fleeting moment of wondering whether or not he'd not only do it but bring Gabriel down along with him--that was definitely a "holy ****" moment right there).

    Not only that, but Jack's fascination with what it might actually be like to fall/jump off of there, the way that he sort of turned the notion over and played with it in his mind, was very interesting. Plus it had the side effect of causing one of my favorite lyrics of all time to pop up in my mind and stick there for a short while:

    And when it lands/Will my eyes be closed or open?
    - Björk, "Hyperballad"

    I don't know if I ever really knew quite what to expect with regards to the way this story would end, but I do know that I'm pleased with how it has ended, the reason being that it seemed believable, made sense. There's part of me that would have liked to have seen the morphs not get put under house arrest, sure, at the very least because you succeeded in getting me to really give a damn about these characters--to like them and want to see them well-off and happy--and being allowed to live free as they had been living was what at least some of them seemed to want. But at the same time, I do think that it wouldn't have been as realistic somehow if they'd not wound up restricted from society in some way after what happened.

    Further on the subject of being allowed to live free being what some of them seemed to want...I want to emphasize the "some of them" because I liked that there was some variety in how the morphs reacted to what was decided upon for them. Those reactions furthermore fit the characters well, I thought.

    Other highlights and whatnot that I wanted to comment on:

    And when he thought of Felicia – Christ, she was just a dog – tears angrily started to burst out at the corners of his eyes.
    Being reminded of that hit me kinda hard, too. ;-; I think it was the "Christ, she was just a dog" that did it.

    “True story,” Gabriel went on. “My skin eats rocks. I haven’t been rolling around in sand much lately, so it wasn’t feeling too good. Then I got locked up in a really dirty room with bare concrete walls and no food, and it turns out I have badass fire abilities after all.”
    Heh. This quote is awesome, particularly since it definitely falls under the category of things that I never would have expected to hear out of a character if it weren't for this story. X3

    She sniffled and nodded. Then, after a pause, she looked up and asked hopefully, “Can I torch them?”

    ****.
    Heh again. X3

    “Stupid?” He considered it. “Not exactly. You were just trying to be heroes. Thing is, the heroes you read about in books aren’t real. There’s always a writer watching over them and making sure they win out in the end and the bad guys get caught. In the real world, we aren’t that lucky. There’s nobody watching over us, and the bad guys win all the time. You could all have died and the universe wouldn’t care. That’s why you have to be careful and you can’t play heroes – because the universe doesn’t care, but the people you know care and they’re going to be heartbroken if something happens to you.”
    Liked this quote, too; thought it was nicely worded.

    The funerals were simple and quiet, except for the protesters. Some were probably from the Church of Holy Truth; others held signs saying MURDERERS or DETAIN THE POKÉMORPHS.
    Ugh. D: That image certainly got a reaction out of me--people pulling that kind of **** at funerals in real life disgusts me, too.

    Perhaps it was just the Misdreavus girl’s innocence and naivety. Or perhaps she just had nothing to fear. After all, she had terrifying power, possibly more terrifying than Mia’s had ever been – she just acted more normal about it.

    That night, as they were watching television in the living room, she tried to hug the girl, but she had made herself insubstantial and showed no reaction to the gesture at all.
    There was just something about that that struck me as really sad. ;-;

    “Lucy,” she murmured, “even though Mia is gone, we have to move on. You can’t refuse to talk forever.”

    Lucy’s gaze locked onto her, and Cheryl found herself unable to look away – actually, physically unable. There was a resentful coldness in the girl’s ghostly eyes, and Cheryl’s mind was suddenly assaulted with flashes of raw emotions: pain, injustice, hatred, a disturbing longing to hurt. Then it was gone, so quickly she almost thought she might have imagined it.
    Wow. o_o Powerful stuff, there.

    He’d had nightmares about being strapped down on a table, with faceless figures in black suits giving him injections, then woken up paralyzed and convinced that his breathing was slowing down.
    That sounds scary as hell, and not just with regards to the nightmares. Sleep paralysis or anything at all like it = not fun.

    He felt his skin heat up as a sensation of power spread through his body. He removed his hands quickly and stood up, feeling a little lightheaded.

    His left hand swept across the air, flames sprouting in its wake. It took only a moment of concentration to send a long tongue of fire into the air from his right hand. The sheer destructive force he knew he had was incomparably thrilling.

    He thought back to Isaac Daniels’ charred body, felt powerful and victorious, and then sat back down, shuddering and a little horrified at himself. It took a while for his high to wear off before he felt safe around his own thoughts again.
    This part was rather neat in the way that it started out oddly beautiful and then took a disturbing turn.

    Peter was looking longingly out the window again now; he sighed. “What are we going to do?” he asked, jerking his head back to her.

    What were they going to do? What sort of half-life could they have, confined outside society forever? In theory they could have jobs if they could do the work at home – school still worked, just about – but what employer would hire them?

    She looked at her brother. “We’re going to live,” she said. “Somehow. And maybe the law gets repealed sometime in the future and we can pretend to be normal again. Until then, all there is to do is survive and make the best of it even if it sucks. That’s what we’ve always done.”
    Another quote that I liked in much the same way that I liked that one Dave quote from earlier in the chapter: I just really like the way that she chose to word her response there.

    Suddenly he hesitated and turned back to her. “Are you going to be okay?”

    “I’ve got roses for hands, Pete. I would’ve had a crappy life anyway.”
    And there's another quote for the "I love that this story came into being and thus provided such a thing with a legitimate reason to be said" list. X3

    His voice died down for a moment. “For God’s sake,” he started again, “what if I hadn’t been here to stop you?”

    And then, suddenly, Gabriel pulled him into a hug. Jack was too stunned to react at first; then all he could think of doing was hugging him back as he broke into stupid, involuntary sobs again.
    D'aww... ;-;

    He paused a moment, but then all of a sudden looked desperately at Jack. “You know, maybe I’m a monster too. But you aren’t a monster. You were just trying to help me, and it wasn’t your fault things turned out how they did. And yet here you are trying to kill yourself, and all I can think is, if you think you deserve to die, what the **** am I still doing here?”
    That part hit me pretty hard, too. ;-;

    After about a dozen rounds of brutally beating up various characters and adamantly pretending Gabriel wasn’t losing on purpose, Jack was actually beginning to feel almost okay.
    Heh, liked the bolded bit. X3 Thought that was a nice touch.

    Oh, sure, people loved to pat themselves on the back saying everyone’s special. But Mia was ****ing unique. There would never again be anyone like her. Vanilla humans were all identical ****ing twins in comparison, and yet everyone, even Howard and even Cheryl – Christ, he’d thought she was better than that – stood around talking about Mia’s death as if nothing of value had been lost. And they mourned Will like he was just another sweet little bullied kid, too. It was ****ing tragic.
    This is another one of those things that I wanted to call particular attention to because it succeeds, through not only this part but also Cheryl's part at the funeral earlier in the chapter, in really getting me into a position of being able to understand more than one viewpoint with regards to the same thing. I can understand how someone could have feelings like Dave's about Mia's fate, and at the same time, I can also understand how someone could have feelings like Cheryl's about that.


    I'm always glad when a chaptered fic that I've been following is successfully completed, and considering just how damned good this one is, I'm all the happier to see it having been finished. Congratulations on completing this story, and thanks very much for sharing it with us. ^^
    DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
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  18. #118
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    Thanks a lot for reviewing and having stuck with the story!

    I shudder to think of what Jack might have done if that had happened. o_o;
    Heh, yeah. It really struck me as I was writing this chapter how if Gabriel had died, the end would've been absolutely horribly depressing, because then in addition to his death Jack would also definitely have jumped (with even more guilt and nobody around to stop him). Thankfully he pulled through.

    I'm glad you liked the characters' different reactions and views on what happened; I set out to show all these different people's varying viewpoints in a realistic way and it's good to hear I seem to have succeeded in that department. :3 Also glad the balcony scene went over well; I found it quite challenging to write.


    Anyway, this may be a complete mood whiplash, but I recently wrote a couple of short, silly extras that happen sometime prior to chapter five and put them on my site. I figured I might as well share them here as well. Again, these are silly and pointless and just excuses for me to write more Dave and Mia because I adore them, but readers over there seem to find them pretty amusing. The writing also isn't particularly refined because, again, these are just silly little extras.


    Warning: This extra contains (non-graphic) discussion of sex and related topics, including mentions of some rather skeevy stuff.

    Dave and Mia Discuss Sex

    “Have you had sex?” she said, completely out of the blue.

    “What?” Dave automatically looked at Mia for a split second before forcing his eyes back towards the road. “Of course. Why?”

    She shrugged. “You don’t have any biological children.”

    “Well, no, but that’s thanks to contraceptives, not –” He gave her a glance again. “They’re not teaching you abstinence-only at school, are they?”

    She shook her head.

    “Well, that’s good. Then you know that contraceptives can do wonderful things.”

    “How old were you?”

    “What?”

    “The first time.”

    He gave her a doubtful look. “Uh. Fifteen, but…” He stopped at a red light. “What’s with the sudden interest?”

    She shrugged. “We had sex ed today. It sounds interesting. I think I’d like to try it sometime.”

    She was looking at him the way she did when she wanted advice. He raised his eyebrows. “Eh. That’s a bit of a complicated subject, but, uh…” He scratched at the back of his neck awkwardly; the light went green, and he tried to think while accelerating. “First of all, the point of sex is to have it with somebody else. Do you… do you like men or women?”

    There was a momentary pause. “Men.”

    “Well, okay. Then you find some guy you like, and… are you looking for commitment or just a…”

    “I like you.”

    He looked sharply in her direction; she was wearing the exact same neutral expression as usual. “…What? No, Mia, that’s – no, that’s not how it works. Christ. You find somebody your own age – mental age – like one of the guys in your class at school, or something.”

    “I don’t like them.”

    There was silence. “Well, you shouldn’t be having sex now anyway,” he said after a moment. “Technically you’re ten years old. It’s illegal.”

    She nodded contemplatively.

    “Also, it’s a different kind of like. Guys you like sexually are not the same as people you just generally like. It’s a different feeling. You don’t like me that way. Or at least I hope not.”

    She cocked her head. “Why?”

    “Oh, Jesus, Mia.” He scratched at his neck again. “Because that would be fucking creepy, that’s why.”

    Mia shrugged, looking casually out the other window. Several seconds passed. Then, “I don’t get it.”

    “What part of ‘fucking creepy’ do you not –”

    “The different kind of like.”

    “Oh, that.” He paused. “Uh. Well, it’s when you can’t stop thinking about someone. Or you look at someone and… you just want to keep looking at them. Or you want to touch them, or do things to…” He shook his head. “Jesus Christ, why are we having this conversation? You should ask your mom.”

    She looked at him for a while. “You like her that way,” she then said, conversationally.

    He gave her a sharp glance; his fingers tightened on the steering wheel. “Why would you think that?”

    “You keep asking about her when you come over,” Mia said. “You look at her a lot, differently than you look at other people. Just now you thought of her when you were talking about liking people.”

    He ruffled his hair. “Oh, Jesus, Mia,” he muttered, “you’re something else, you know that?”

    She looked at him for a second. “You had sex. With her.”

    He jerked his head towards her; the car veered and he only barely managed to pull it back on track. “What the fuck. How do you even… what?” She opened her mouth. “No, on second thought, don’t answer that. I don’t think I want to know. What the ever-loving fuck.”

    A second passed as he stared determinedly at the road ahead. “You did,” she insisted.

    He decided not to dignify that with an answer. She didn’t seem to mind; she just looked out the window, apparently unaware she’d said anything particularly significant.

    “Hey, uh,” he began after a moment, “don’t be mentioning this crazy theory of yours to your dad, all right?”

    She shrugged. “Okay.”

    “Great. Thanks.”

    A minute passed in silence.

    “I don’t think I like anyone like that,” Mia said eventually.

    “That’s fine too. Maybe there’ll be someone later. Or you’re asexual. Wouldn’t surprise me.”

    She paused. “Asexual is when you don’t have sex with anyone?”

    “Because you’re not attracted to anyone, yeah.”

    “What if I wasn’t attracted to anyone but wanted to have sex anyway?”

    “Well, then you’d do that and stop trying to apply labels to yourself – but not now, because you’re ten years old and any sex you have right now is legally statutory rape.”

    She nodded.

    “I can’t get pregnant,” she observed after a moment.

    “You’re infertile, yeah. But you could probably get STDs, so for the love of God use condoms. Or rather, use condoms there far in the future when you’re not ten fucking years old.”

    There was a lengthy pause. “When is it legal?” she asked.

    “The age of consent is sixteen over here. Other countries are different.”

    “You said you were fifteen.”

    “Uh.” He drove on a moment. “Nobody takes these things that seriously. Point is, ten’s creepy no matter who you ask, your mileage may vary on whether looking and acting older actually helps with that, the law tends to be firmly on the ‘no’ side, and though I wouldn’t personally report a guy you had consensual sex with there are definitely people who would.”

    She contemplated that. “There’s plenty of time,” she said eventually. “I’d just like to try it sometime.”

    “That’s the spirit. No need to rush it.”

    He stopped the car in front of the Kerrigans’ house. “One more thing,” he said as Mia unfastened her seatbelt and opened the door. “Most people are going to be a wee bit freaked out if you suddenly start asking them odd questions about their sex life. Don’t walk in there asking your parents when they lost their virginities. It’ll be awkward.”

    “Okay,” Mia replied before she stepped out of the car. She hesitated for a moment there and then said, “Thank you.”

    Mia really, really didn’t say ‘Thank you’ often.

    He didn’t get a chance to reply before she’d slammed the door and headed off to the house, but as he drove off he felt oddly proud.



    Dave and Mia Discuss Politics

    “All voted,” said Dave as he got back into the car. “Sorry for making you wait. Hotdogs?”

    “That would be nice,” Mia said.

    He shut the door and started the car, calculating the best route to their favorite hotdog stand. He knew Mia usually wasn’t bothered by waiting and didn’t exactly need it made up for with bribery, but he’d come to enjoy these trips more than he liked to admit, and she didn’t usually see too much interaction with people besides her sister. It was probably healthy for her to have adult conversations every now and then.

    Such as now, when she broke the silence with, “I don’t get voting.”

    “Well, they count together all the votes, and whoever has the most votes gets to govern the country. That way, the largest possible number of people get to have their way and be happy. Democracy in a nutshell.”

    “But most people are nuts.”

    She was looking at him in perfect seriousness; he started to chuckle a little. “That’s true. Problem is, the nuts are equally convinced that we’re the nuts. There’s no objective nut-scale to decide whose opinion should count.”

    “Of course there is,” Mia said, her usual neutral tone leaning a little towards puzzled and frustrated, like it was obvious. “IQ tests.”

    He raised his eyebrows, amused. “To be fair, IQ tests aren’t the most objective science out there. They give wildly different…”

    “So make them take many,” she said, still in the same tone of voice. “Average the result over enough different tests to be statistically significant. It’s science.”

    He laughed; she didn’t appear to see the humour in it. “Well, that’d be one unpopular decision. Politicians never make unpopular decisions, unless the alternative would make them even more unpopular. That’s just how politics works.”

    She nodded reluctantly and looked out the window on her side for a while. “It’s stupid that it works that way,” she said eventually, turning back towards him. “The system should be changed.”

    “And how do you propose we do that?”

    She shrugged. “I could kill the government,” she suggested after a moment.

    He would have done a spit-take, if he’d been drinking anything. As it was it just came out as a choked snort of disbelief.

    “You should be president,” she went on. “You’d have the final say on everything. There would stop being elections, and you’d just appoint somebody sensible to replace you before you die. If somebody doesn’t like it, I can threaten them.”

    He couldn’t help grinning. “That would make me a dictator, not a president.”

    “Okay. That, then.”

    He looked at her. She still looked perfectly serious. “Well, I’m flattered you think I’d make a good one, but dictatorships don’t really fly in this day and age.”

    She turned towards the window again. “That’s too bad.”

    “And, uh,” he began after a short pause. “Neither does the systematic murder of the government. Besides, all the important ones have bodyguards. You’d get shot before you got anywhere close.”

    Mia looked back at him.

    “And if you did systematically murder the government, you wouldn’t be the one picking the new one. In fact, you’d be put in a maximum-security prison while people campaigned to have the death penalty reinstated just for you. So don’t go trying that.”

    She nodded. There was silence.

    “Now,” he went on after a little while, “if you want to have a say in politics, you can vote when you’re eighteen.”

    “What’s the point?” she said. “Most people are nuts. They’ll still be nuts if I vote. It won’t make a difference.”

    “Well, if everyone thought like that, nobody would vote at all, would they?”

    There was a pause. “That would be nice,” she said. “Then I could go and cast the only vote.”

    He didn’t reply immediately. “Well,” he answered at last, “that’s kind of defeating the point. The idea is everyone gets to vote and have an equal say, regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, social standing, education –”

    “But that’s stupid,” she said. “People who believe in things there’s no evidence for, or can’t do simple sums in their heads, or think we didn’t really land on the moon, shouldn’t have a say in anything important.”

    He racked his brain for a counterargument she would understand. “Thing is, Mia,” he said eventually, “the moment you give any excuse for discrimination, on any basis, you’re opening windows for other discrimination, and the first people who are going to get discriminated against are Pokémorphs. If you took the vote away from individuals with a lower IQ, or members of organized religion, or everyone who’s ever failed a math test, they’re going to take it from you as well. It’s not a very long path of inference from ‘people must be smart to vote’ to ‘people must be human to vote’.”

    She shrugged. “That’s okay. Eight votes wouldn’t make a difference anyway. It’d be worth it for the greater good.”

    He raised his eyebrows as he pulled the car to a stop at a light. The thing about debating with Mia was that sometimes her handicap made it actually hard. Usually, people with her kind of utter immunity to the trump cards of most rational discourse – human rights, justice, equality and so on – were also incoherent lunatics who wouldn’t recognize a sound argument if it hit them in the face. Mia could hold an actual line of reasoning in her own little bizarroverse. In a way, it made it interesting.

    “See,” he said after thinking a little, “people can revolt if they’re unhappy, even if they’re religious or stupid or conspiracy theorists. If the majority of everyone has their way, there will be fewer people who are unhappy and can revolt than there are people who are happy and would oppose the revolution, creating more stability. But if only some people get to vote, the conclusion might only represent a minority and the unhappy majority will be able to revolt. Dictatorships are even more vulnerable because then, in theory, absolutely everyone except the dictator could be unhappy. With democracy where everyone can vote, revolutions are unlikely.”

    Mia listened with interest. “So democracy is because the government doesn’t want there to be revolutions.”

    “In a sense, yeah.” He paused. “I mean, you can lose subsequent elections, but it’s a relatively small loss. You’ve lost money on the campaign, but you went into it knowing that risk, and you might win again next time.”

    “Whereas if you were a dictator and there was a revolution, you’d probably be killed.”

    “Basically, yes.”

    She nodded, looking satisfied.

    “Or tortured,” she added after a second. “If they hated you enough, they’d want to listen to you scream.”

    “Uh,” he replied, glancing at her. “Yeah, I suppose.”

    Her expression had turned distant as she stared out the window, pupils wider than usual, mouth in something resembling a contented smile. He tried not to wonder exactly what she was imagining as he prepared to park opposite the hotdog stand.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 26th September 2011 at 5:34 AM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  19. #119
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    Oh man, these two. These two. I love these characters, and their interactions are seriously amusing as well as fascinating. I can definitely see why you'd want to write more of them.

    She looked at him for a second. “You had sex. With her.”

    He jerked his head towards her; the car veered and he only barely managed to pull it back on track. “What the ****. How do you even… what?” She opened her mouth. “No, on second thought, don’t answer that. I don’t think I want to know. What the ever-loving ****.”
    I laughed so hard. XD Oh, Mia. You and your perceptiveness.

    “Or tortured,” she added after a second. “If they hated you enough, they’d want to listen to you scream.”

    “Uh,” he replied, glancing at her. “Yeah, I suppose.”

    Her expression had turned distant as she stared out the window, pupils wider than usual, mouth in something resembling a contented smile. He tried not to wonder exactly what she was imagining as he prepared to park opposite the hotdog stand.
    One wonders if he succeeded. I know I couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking of, although I did get a pretty strong suspicion about what was going on in that head of hers there pretty darned quickly...


    Those extras were quite enjoyable. ^^ Thanks for posting them, and congrats again on completing this fic!
    DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
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  20. #120
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    wow. i just read all that. holy $hi+. one word. More!
    I have clamed... the mighty Thor. Oh wait it's Throh *Facepalm*
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  21. #121
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    Sike Saner: Haha, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the extras.

    Hopefully, then, you'll be pleased to hear I wrote a couple more. It feels kind of backwards how I've probably written more words-per-day of this fic after finishing it than before, but my mind works in mysterious ways. (Alternatively, I'm just high on Dave and Mia, because I have seriously concluded that I could spend the rest of my life writing about them talking and never get bored.)


    Dave and Mia Discuss Horror

    “So, Mia,” Dave said as he started the car, “how’d you like the movie?”

    She thought for a moment. “I liked the bit where the guy had to cut his eye out.”

    He snorted. “You would.”

    “Also with the Houndoom killing the woman. That was nice.”

    He winced a little. “That was pretty brutal, yeah.” He paused. “How about the Scyther bits? I’ve got to admit that was why I took you.”

    “No,” she said. “That was lame. It was all CGI.”

    He raised his eyebrows. “Well, that’s obviously necessary if you’re going to have a person cut in half.” He paused until it struck him that maybe she didn’t find that obvious at all. “You know, because otherwise they couldn’t get any actors for the part,” he added. “It’s all special effects. Nobody would want to be in the movie if they had to be actually gutted for it.”

    She nodded, looking out the passenger side window. “That’s too bad.” After a moment she turned back to him. “But a real person being cut in half wouldn’t look like that. It was stupid.”

    “I don’t think a lot of people know or want to know what a real person being cut in half would actually look like, Mia.”

    She shrugged. “I could tell it looked wrong.”

    “Well, there’s a career for you. Gorn movie special effects. I’m sure you’d be great.”

    Mia’s lips curled into a grin as she looked out the windshield. Dave fleetingly wondered if, with time, her social skills and understanding of human ethics might actually improve to the point that she would be able to get and hold a regular job. Probably not very likely. He’d sometimes toyed with the idea of trying to get her into programming – provided she could keep her mind on it, he imagined her bizarre hyperlogical brain would probably be good at it – and seeing if she could earn some money off freelance work online for people who had no idea who or what she was. But that was a question for the future.

    “I didn’t like the main character,” Mia said after a while. “He kept doing things that made no sense.”

    “Oh?” Well, he supposed experiencing mental anguish over being forced to watch one’s family tortured and slaughtered would probably never make sense to her. “Like what?” he asked anyway.

    “Like when he started stabbing himself with his pocket knife. It was painful and he could have died.”

    Dave looked at her. It was funny how, after all these years of knowing she had no sense of humour whatsoever, he still always kept checking if she was joking. “I’m, ah, pretty sure that was the idea,” he said eventually.

    “Why would he want to be in pain?”

    “He didn’t want to be in pain. He wanted to be dead.”

    “That doesn’t make sense. You can’t want to be dead.”

    “Yes, you can,” he said patiently. “He was living out the most fucked-up horror scenario the scriptwriter could stuff into one film, and he’d rather die than experience that because he’s a normal human being. Just because you wouldn’t want to be dead doesn’t mean –”

    “That makes no sense,” Mia repeated. “You can’t want to be dead. Wanting something means you’d be happy if it happened, but if you’re dead you don’t exist so you can’t be happy about it.”

    He thought about it in silence for a few seconds. It occurred to him that he was sitting in his car arguing for the merits of suicide with a ten-year-old girl. That was a little fucked up.

    “Maybe he was religious,” Mia suggested after a while. “Then he could have thought he’d be happy after he died.”

    “It’s not that,” Dave replied with a wave of his hand, trying to get his thoughts in order. “If I were him and honestly thought killing myself would just put me into some cheery blissful afterlife while everybody I cared about got tortured to death, I’d…” He trailed off. “Well, point is, that’d be a fucking nightmare. Meanwhile, not existing means you don’t have to spend an eternity living with the memory of it anymore, and yeah, there’s definitely a sense in which you might want that.”

    “But that doesn’t change that it happened,” Mia said.

    “No, but because you’d be dead, you wouldn’t care anymore. Dead people are selfish pricks that way.”

    “Dead people don’t exist.”

    “That was a joke. Jesus.”

    There was silence.

    “So you’d try to kill yourself if that happened to you?” Mia asked after a while, tilting her head.

    He winced. “Uh. Yeah, I guess. Seems less painful than the alternative, in any case.”

    She considered it. “But he was just in pain. He didn’t even die.”

    “Well,” Dave said, “for my parts, I’d try to stick the knife somewhere fatal. That’s where the guy in the movie went wrong.”

    Mia nodded slowly. “So it was because he was bad at anatomy.”

    He paused. “In a sense, I guess you could say that.”

    She was looking thoughtfully at him now. “What if you didn’t have a knife?”

    “Oh, Jesus.” He scratched at his hair. “I don’t know. I mean, what would you do? How the fuck are you supposed to know what you’d actually do in some situation like that?”

    “I’d kill them,” she said, like it was the simplest thing in the world.

    “Well, okay, but what if you had no –” Though it wasn’t like she needed to be armed. “Look, what if they’d just cut off your scythes, or something, and…”

    “I could still fight them. I’m strong.”

    “There’d be too many of them, okay? Or they’d have, I don’t know, knocked you unconscious and then tied you up with unbreakable rope beforehand. What would you do then?”

    She considered it for a moment. “Nothing,” she then said, shrugging. “There wouldn’t be anything to do.”

    “Nothing,” he repeated. He took a breath and expelled it in a sigh. “Yeah, I guess I’d be doing nothing too.” He stared at the road ahead. “Well, fuck.”

    “What?”

    “Nothing.”

    “You’re lying.”

    He looked at her in exasperation. “Look, Mia, can we please just talk about something other than being stuck in a bad horror movie?”

    She tilted her head. “Why?”

    “Well, it’s just…” He gestured vaguely at her. “Imagining that… This stuff could never actually happen and it makes me queasy, okay?”

    “It could happen. There are plenty of nutjobs out there.”

    “Mia, just…”

    “Many of them want the Pokémorphs dead. And you, too.”

    “Will you just shut the fuck up about that? Christ.”

    She looked at him but didn’t say anything; after a moment she turned towards the passenger-side window.

    He sighed, rubbing his forehead. “I’m sorry.”

    “That’s okay,” said Mia, her tone indifferent as ever. Knowing her, she probably didn’t even know what he was sorry about. He didn’t know why he bothered.

    “Maybe we can see another movie sometime,” he offered as he stopped the car to let her out.

    “That would be nice,” she replied before she slammed the door.



    The next one is a bit less completely silly than the others, as unlike them it takes place post-chapter seven (specifically, the night after the end of chapter nine); there's a lot more general misery involved, and there's actual narration that's not just to provide beats in the conversation. It is still mostly about Dave and Mia talking, but they're not quite talking about any one thing in particular and it's the odd one out in general, so it doesn't adhere to the title pattern.

    Chapter 9.5

    He didn’t know why they got him to watch Mia and Lucy that night. He wasn’t even sure why they needed watching at all; Cheryl hadn’t really made clear what they were doing. What the fuck could they be doing at a time like this that warranted babysitting, even? (Oh, he could think of things, but he liked to think their sex life wasn’t that interesting – though he didn’t like to think of their sex life at all, really – and by all appearances she had used to agree. And there were better times for that than when there was a crazed murderer on the loose, for fuck’s sake.)

    But he’d agreed to it anyway, because it was Cheryl, and he had to make up for last night somehow, and the girls were probably more of a target than she and Howard were anyway: she was probably safer without them than with. Maybe Mia and Lucy were safer with him, too; he did have cops hanging around his house. Or maybe being with him just made them all a juicier target. It was hard to tell.

    It was both disturbing and fascinating, watching the two of them play; Lucy could do the creepiest shit while wearing the happiest, most innocent-looking smile in the known universe, and Mia got a funny, predatory glint in her eye every time she prepared to pounce on her sister, her slightest movements eerily precise and calculated. He wasn’t that often around them playing together. Seeing Mia look something resembling actually happy was a nice change; Lucy usually seemed pretty happy, but with Mia she was positively ecstatic. They were a strange pair, somehow complementing one another despite that the only thing they had in common was being really fucking creepy in their own different ways.

    He made steak for dinner, anticipating Mia would love it rare, and was satisfied to find he was right on that count. He drank a few beers with it, maybe a few more than he meant to. At some point Lucy insisted she was supposed to be going to bed, so he told her to go do that. (Maybe he should’ve had something like that in place for Jean. She always stayed up too late.) Mia remained up, watching the second half of the movie that was on TV with him (some vapid shit about how true love conquers all, vaguely salvaged by the lead actress’s cleavage; he couldn’t imagine why Mia would prefer it over watching paint dry, but she sat there anyway until the end) while he had a few more drinks.

    “So, uh,” he said as he muted the sickeningly heartfelt end credits music, “did your parents mention what they were doing tonight?”

    She shook her head.

    “Nothing about why they wanted me to take you?”

    “Mom thought you were lonely and probably needed company.”

    He looked at her and blinked. “Well, that’s bullshit,” he said after a moment, taking a sip from the can he was holding. Mia nodded vaguely, still with her eyes on the scrolling text on the screen.

    “I mean,” he went on after a second, “I guess that’s nice of her, but… what the fuck.” He sipped a little more, thinking. “She didn’t, uh, seem upset or anything, did she?”

    Mia shrugged. “Not particularly.”

    “Did she talk about last night?”

    Mia shook her head. He wasn’t sure if he felt better or worse about that.

    “What about your dad? Did he seem more inclined to kill me than usual?” The idea of Howard wanting to kill somebody drew an involuntary chuckle out of him. “Or, I don’t know, give me an annoyed look?”

    She shrugged.

    “No? Well, that’s good. I don’t know what I’d do if he gave me an annoyed look.”

    Mia looked at him with that subtly puzzled expression of hers.

    “Yes, that was a joke.”

    He sipped his drink. Her gaze flicked disinterestedly around the room, probably looking for insects to murder.

    “That’s the thing about your dad,” he said. “He doesn’t know how to be truly angry at somebody. I mean, Jesus. It’s not natural. Sometimes I want to, I don’t know, greet him every day with a punch in the face just to marvel at how not-pissed-off he’d be, except that’d be like kicking a fucking puppy – I bet he’d like, ask me to please stop and then quietly resign from his job and turn to… fucking gardening or something.”

    Mia didn’t look like she was listening, but he knew she was (she was always listening to everything, even if her attention seemed to be elsewhere), and he didn’t really give a damn anyway.

    “I mean, fuck,” he continued, “I can’t even tell if he knows, because there wouldn’t be any goddamn difference. It creeps the hell out of me.”

    “Knows what?”

    “Hm?”

    “You can’t tell if he knows what?”

    “Never mind.” He rubbed his nose. “Fuck.”

    The good thing about Mia was that you could say ‘never mind’ and she actually wouldn’t mind. Her eyes flicked towards the muted commercial on the television, the kind of bullshit ad where there was no Earthly way to tell what they were advertising (a group of men in crudely made Pokémon costumes sitting around a poker table – what the fuck). He lifted the can to his lips again.

    “Why do you drink so much beer?” Mia asked suddenly without looking at him.

    He started to laugh. “You always just ask the best questions, don’t you?”

    She turned towards him, apparently expecting an answer; he sighed. “I like it and sometimes it makes me feel less like shit. What’s not to like?”

    “I want to try it.”

    He blinked. “Uh.” He scratched at his chin for a second, considering it. “Well, who am I to pretend to be a responsible parent. Whatever. Why not.”

    He pushed the next can he’d gotten out towards her on the table. She reached for it, not in a hurry, looked at it for a moment, opened it and sniffed at it, expression observant and focused. He watched her with amusement as he emptied his own drink.

    After a bit more examination, Mia finally raised the can to her mouth and took a small sip. She seemed to spend a second evaluating it before she wrinkled her nose and put the can back down.

    Dave chuckled. “It’s probably for the best. It’s bad for you.”

    “Then why do you drink it?”

    “Because I’m an adult with fully-developed frontal lobes and that means I’m free to fuck up my own life however I fucking please without it being anybody else’s problem.”

    She shrugged.

    “By the way, uh, you don’t have to tell your mom and dad that I gave you beer.”

    Mia nodded. After a moment she said, “My parents are scared.”

    Well, fuck.

    “You’re not going to drink that, are you?” he asked, reaching for the can Mia had put away. She shook her head and let him take it.

    He took a sip. Mia was still looking at him, in that expectant way. “Aren’t we all?” he said, reaching for the remote to turn off the TV. “Psycho murderer on the loose, Brian’s fucking dead, we could be next. Anybody would be a little unnerved.”

    She tilted her head.

    “I mean,” he went on, “maybe not you, because you’re pretty fucking special in more ways than one, but…” He gulped down a bit more of his drink. “See, fear is just a defensive response in the brain. It goes ‘there’s danger, so try not to get killed’. That’s all there is to it.”

    Mia looked at him for a moment. “You’re scared too,” she then said.

    “What’s your point?” he replied, irritation seeping into his voice. “What the fuck do you expect us to do? Not care that somebody fucking shot Brian? I mean, Christ, he wasn’t even… they weren’t even going for him, they were going for me.” Another quick sip. “That’s the sickest part of all. I mean, fuck. You know, maybe there is a god, except he’s a sadistic bastard who saw one of his followers aiming a gun at me and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fucking hilarious if it hit the most self-sacrificing nice-guy on the planet instead?’” He laughed mirthlessly at the idea.

    “That’s dumb,” Mia said, her tone annoyed. “Coincidences happen both ways. Somewhat unlikely incidents are not evidence for the existence of a supernatural, physics-defying intelligence.”

    Dave took a long sip of his drink. “Yeah,” he said eventually. “I know that.”

    There was a long silence. Mia looked straight ahead, at the blank television; he imagined she was mulling over whether to forgive him for that grievous lapse in rationality. It was probably too late to tell her it was a joke.

    “If they come here,” she said after a while, turning back towards him, “I’ll defend you.”

    He blinked. “Uh. That’s…” His imagination saw Mia leaping in front of a bullet, bleeding, dying. “…Thanks.”

    “I could beat them,” she insisted as if she knew exactly what he’d been thinking. “I’m fast.”

    “No, you couldn’t,” he said. “They have guns. You’re fast but last time I checked you couldn’t break the fucking sound barrier.”

    “They have human reaction times,” she replied. “Imperfect aim. They can be distracted.”

    “I don’t give a fuck if they can be distracted. You’d die. Maybe you could put up a fight for a few seconds, but they’d fucking shoot you.”

    “It’s a calculated risk.”

    “Calculated fucking nothing.”

    “If I didn’t act, they would kill all of us anyway.”

    “So defend yourself, for Christ’s sake.” He’d raised his voice a bit more than he intended; he tried to tone it down. “I don’t want anybody else getting shot to death in my place, okay?”

    He drank more, quickly; Mia looked at him with something like faint curiosity. “I’d be defending all of us,” she said. “It amounts to the same thing. You’re just arguing with what to call it.”

    “Well, then don’t call it defending me.”

    “Why?”

    Because,” he began exasperatedly, “because can we talk about something else? Christ.”

    He finished his drink and walked to the fridge to get another one.

    “You’re dodging the question,” said Mia when he returned. Her expression was becoming frustrated. “Is it because of the beer?”

    “No, it’s not the fucking beer,” he said as he sat down and took a sip from the bottle he’d retrieved.

    “Alcohol interferes with judgement and reasoning.”

    He started to giggle. (Okay, so maybe he was a little drunk.) Mia frowned at him, annoyed.

    “If you’re not going to make any sense, I’m going to sleep,” she threatened.

    Maybe it’d be nice if she went to bed and left him alone, he thought. And at the same time he really, really didn’t want her to.

    “No, stay,” he said, waving his hand vaguely at her as she was preparing to stand up. “You don’t… I’m fine. Don’t go.”

    She sat tentatively back down, looking warily at him. “Why not?”

    “It’s, uh…” he began before taking a sip from his bottle. “I like talking to you, all right? You’re smart and you’re interesting and let’s face it, it’s a shitload better than talking to myself because I’m kind of a dick.”

    She shrugged. “I enjoy talking to you, when you make sense.”

    He chuckled a little. “Thanks. I’ll try.”

    There was silence. He wondered if she’d return to the same question as before, but she didn’t. Knowing her, she’d probably never actually cared about the answer in the first place.

    “Do you think it’s just one killer?” she asked at long last.

    He sighed and took a sip of his drink before answering. “I don’t know,” he said. “Could be one guy, could be a global fucking government conspiracy for all we know.”

    She nodded thoughtfully.

    “That’s the worst part. We don’t know jack shit, and here we are hiding away from… you know, whatever the fuck’s actually going on, completely in the dark, just… waiting for somebody else to die. I mean, what are the odds they’ll catch the guy, just like that, based on the information they have now? It’s basically zero. Somebody else is going to get killed, sooner or later, and I just…” He took a quick swig from his bottle. “Fuck.”

    Everything was silent, even the usual noise of traffic absent; Mia gazed at the empty TV screen, expression focused but faraway. (He knew she was listening; she always listened. She was the only person who ever listened.) He looked at the screen with her and didn’t mean to say anything else.

    “I don’t know what I’d do if they got Cheryl,” he then heard himself blurting out all of a sudden, in a strained, shaky voice that sounded absolutely nothing like him, and fuck he was drunk; he should go to bed already and sleep it off and maybe tomorrow he’d actually want to get up again (maybe) –

    “If they killed you,” Mia said, her voice cool but chillingly devoid of her usual indifference, “I’d hunt them down.”

    He looked at her and knew he shouldn’t find that weirdly touching and ought to say something about revenge being an archaic, morally obsolete practice and that she’d go to jail – something reasonable that she’d understand – but instead he just put his beer down on the table and said, quietly, “They’ll kill you. Please don’t.”

    He expected protests, whys, insistence that she could take on armed murderers and win, but this time, she just didn’t reply. He exhaled slowly, half in relief, half in exhaustion, rubbing his forehead. (He was so fucking tired.)

    “Listen, Mia,” he said after composing himself for a moment, “we should probably go to sleep.”

    She nodded absent-mindedly and stood up. He was glad he’d prepared the extra mattress in Jean’s room before dinner; he wasn’t sure he’d have survived trying to arrange that now.

    He didn’t know why, but as he collapsed into his bed he felt somewhat better than last night.

    -------

    When Cheryl came to pick them up the next morning, he dragged himself out of bed through a pounding headache to answer the door. The girls were ready and out in the corridor within minutes; Cheryl lingered for a moment at the door, looking at him.

    “How did it go?” she asked quietly, shifting a little; her arms hugged her coat, like she was cold.

    “Fine,” he replied and looked at her, trying to get words around something intelligent with whatever parts of his brain were not in the process of being beaten into a pulp. “Was that,” he mumbled eventually, “did you get me to do that… for my sake?”

    One corner of her mouth twitched into a faint half-smile, an expression nobody else could have made so weirdly attractive. He looked down and shook his head. “I didn’t deserve that.”

    “I did it anyway,” she said simply, without affection, not disagreeing.

    He looked into her eyes again for a moment – tired, worried, haunted eyes – and said the only thing he could think of: “Thanks.”

    He wanted to add an apology for the day before yesterday, too, but she looked away, sighing, and said, “Goodbye, Dave.”

    “Bye,” he said, and then the three of them were gone.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 26th September 2011 at 5:36 AM.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  22. #122
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    Seeing as it's your birthday, I thought this would be the perfect time for me to finally get around to finishing that rambly, fangirly, overanalytical thing for the final chapter that I said I was working on. Happy birthday again! :3

    (The paragraph about Dave was written a while before I read his character ramble or indeed any of the silly extras, I believe, so.)

    For me, this chapter worked pretty well as a final wrap-up to the story. I think a lot of it was down to some of Dave's speeches - the one he gave to Jean about playing heroes comes to mind, as does him defending why the morphs did what they did in front of the commitee - that were just really well worded and rather worked to sum up the point of the story and why things happened how they did. And then another thing I loved from Dave was his inner monologue about the morphs in that last scene - I don't think I ever really fully appreciated just how much they meant to him until now! 'Cause throughout most of the fic he just seemed like a clever but arrogant guy who does stupid things when he's drunk; yeah, it was mentioned several times that he did a lot for the morphs, but I'm not sure I ever quite latched onto that as much as I should have, and I might just have brushed it off as him trying to make himself look good, or something. But damn it, Dave really cares about those kids. Beyond that, he seems to be the only person open-minded enough to feel that not only are the Pokémorphs perfectly decent people deserving of equal rights, but that they shouldn't even have to try and hide the non-"normal" things about them just because society wants them to; they should be allowed to embrace how different and unique they are without society being assholes about it. And I really can't help but admire Dave for that, no matter how much of an arrogant jerk he seems to be the rest of the time. xP (That and he really was rather adorable when he was breaking down like that at the end.)

    Jean, also, surprised me somewhat in this chapter. I imagine it was due to her evolution - either having something that horrific happen directly to her gave her a dose of reality and awakened her to the fact that life sucked sometimes, or maybe she's simply more mature now that she's a half-Ninetales. But a few of the things she did seemed rather grown up for her usual standards, showing that maybe there's something behind that cutesy airheadedness of hers now. The way she suddenly snapped back into cheeriness in the first Dave and Jean scene, for example, where Dave marvels at whether it's genuine or she's just faking it to cope; I like to imagine she's faking it not just to help herself cope but to help him cope too, after vaguely noticing how upset he was about Mia. Then there's the last scene where she just hugs Dave and tells him it's going to be okay; for a child to comfort a parent figure, the ones who are supposed to be strong and invincible and make everything okay for them and not the other way around, takes a lot of maturity and strength.

    The whole "house arrest" situation, or whatever you want to call it, doesn't seem like too bad a fate for them in the end, at least when you look at it from most of the morphs' point of view and not Dave's hopeless wishes that the world could just be nicer than this. Because since it isn't, I can see what most of the morphs are getting at in that their lives were going to suck anyway and this isn't all that much worse. The one I feel most sorry for in this regard is Peter - it kinda sucks for him that he can't be a trainer any more and that he's mostly cooped up inside when he loves the outdoors. Especially when you consider that he probably has some of the least "dangerous" powers, he doesn't really deserve to have had that freedom suddenly taken away from him, poor guy.

    But meanwhile! Easily my favourite scene in all this - in fact, quite probably my favourite scene in the whole fic now - was that last one between Jack and Gabriel. The fact that you found parts of it challenging doesn't seem to have stopped you from doing it justice at all. Oddly enough, and it may have been me being slow on the uptake, unlike Sike Saner I didn't quite twig that Jack was serious about jumping straight away. I just sort of got it in a slow stream of realisation, first that he's thinking about it, then that he's starting to act on those thoughts and then that, oh god, he might actually do it if something doesn't stop him... I think it was the narration and the way it focused on his fascination with the violence of it rather than anything directly to do with him dying; it really gave the impression that it's less that he actively wants to die and more that his Pokémon side's morbid fascination has brought him here and led him to do this when combined with the fact that he no longer actively wants to live. And so this became one of those times when I'm so into a story that I'm mentally shouting to the characters as I read, in this case desperately urging Jack not to do it because goddammit what about Gabriel? (as a matter of fact, I technically knew he couldn't go through with it, because you'd mentioned something to me about the two of them hugging each other and that hadn't happened yet, but I was clearly so immersed that that just didn't matter as I read.) So I was very much relieved when Gabriel stopped him - and I love that the thing that jolted Jack back into reality was the thought of dragging his best friend to his death, too.

    So I find both Jack and Gabriel completely adorable, which I totally haven't already told you enough times. In Jack's case, I love idealistic characters, I love characters who can't resist wanting to help people they care about when they're in trouble, and I love characters who unwittingly bring horrible things upon themselves due to their own actions and decisions. Jack in a nutshell! - thanks at least in part to the mental side-effects of him being a Pokémorph. Although actually, one thing I've noticed about his competetive, violent urges is that they don't just seem like an almost external thing brought on by his separate Pokémon side, like they might if this situation were in the hands of another writer; they feel absolutely like an intrinsic part of Jack, just as much as anything else like his geekiness or his love of videogames is a part of him (although I do kind of wonder now if he got his love of videogames in the first place as an outlet for these competetive urges! but yeah). Which just makes the misery he ended up putting himself through all the more tragic, as it feels like it happened simply because he's Jack and that's what he'd always have done - same with him trying to kill himself! - and d'aww. :<

    Gabriel, meanwhile, this chapter managed to make me love even more than I already did, what with him turning out to be incredibly messed-up like this. Another thing I tend to enjoy is when characters I like suddenly show themselves to be dangerous and frightening, so the way part of Gabriel's mind actually revels in his destructive power is all aaaa - meanwhile the rest of him is horrified by himself which is also very fun! I like to think that he's not a monster, at least so long as he remains afraid of being one, because that means that most of him knows full well how terrible his powers could potentially make him and therefore isn't a bad person at all; the feelings of euphoria that his Pokémon side can give him aren't his fault. (Incidentally, I seem to remember Brian's inner monologue way back in something like chapter 6 talking about how Gabriel may be the freakiest physically but unlike a lot of the other morphs he has an entirely human personality; now I realise that this was actually just because his Slugma cells were so undernourished that his Pokémon side wasn't strong enough to be part of his mind - you totally had this planned, didn't you?) But Gabriel still doesn't seem convinced that he isn't a monster what with the rather forced way he responded to Jack's reassurance at the end there, and he's just all confused and adorable and awww. :< Also it was totally Gabriel himself who told the commitee that he didn't stop burning Isaac until he was dead - there was no way Jack would ever have told them that - and the fact that he told them even though it could get him in huge trouble and he could easily have lied about it is so fun and self-loathing. That and I have convinced myself that the throwaway mention of Gabriel losing on purpose at the videogame is his desperate attempt to subdue his competetive Pokémon side by not giving it what it wants and not letting himself feel that dangerous euphoria of victory again. Which I imagine may not have been intentional on your part but is totally my headcanon.

    So Jack and Gabriel both hate themselves and each cares way more for the other than he does for himself and the only thing that's keeping both of them going is each other, and this is why they are absolutely one of the most adorable platonic friendships ever! The end. :3


    Now that I've rambled as much as I can without being completely incoherent and disjointed, I guess I'll vaguely attempt at giving some help for the rewrite. The thing that most struck me as off with the first half of the fic was the endless morph introductions. It wasn't the introductions themselves as such, since obviously you had to introduce the morphs, and a lot of them did result in me growing very fond of the morph in question in a short space of time - it was more the way they were done, as if you obligatorily had to do them rather than them being an organic part of the story. For example, one of the introductions that felt the least problematic in this way was Peter's, because it involved him reacting to Brian's death and was therefore part of the events that had begun in the chapter before. Mia's also doesn't feel particularly off because the whole of chapter 5 was pretty much her own little plot arc with her expulsion, so it seemed to have a purpose and a story to tell other than just "Hey guys, meet Mia". So if you can somehow restructure the morph introductions so that they feel like they're part of the plot rather than just "oh, and here's another morph" - although admittedly I don't know how you could do this as there isn't really much plot going on prior to Brian's death, but I imagine you'd be able to figure something out - then it should help the first half of the fic feel like a much more coherent whole.


    But yes. You have written an incredibly fun, interesting, moving story (that last Jack and Gabriel scene made me cry, remember!) filled with adorable, fascinating and likeable characters, and you should be very proud. :3
    .: Evolution is a battle .:. Something has to lose :.
    LOST EVOLUTION
    Chapter 33: Inside has been posted.


    Foregone Conclusion
    Spinoff/prequel/backstory/thingy to Lost Evolution, written for NaNoWriMo 2010

    Three Heads Are Better Than One

  23. #123
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    Heh. I think that I will never tire of Mia's ability to technically make sense in a way that breaks my brain in a way that people usually have to make no sense at all to do. If that makes any sense. X3;

    Other highlights:

    Lucy could do the creepiest **** while wearing the happiest, most innocent-looking smile in the known universe, and Mia got a funny, predatory glint in her eye every time she prepared to pounce on her sister, her slightest movements eerily precise and calculated.

    And that's pretty much why I like their interactions so darned much.

    “What about your dad? Did he seem more inclined to kill me than usual?” The idea of Howard wanting to kill somebody drew an involuntary chuckle out of him. “Or, I don’t know, give me an annoyed look?”

    She shrugged.

    “No? Well, that’s good. I don’t know what I’d
    do if he gave me an annoyed look.”

    Heh. X3

    “That’s the thing about your dad,” he said. “He doesn’t know how to be truly angry at somebody. I mean, Jesus. It’s not natural. Sometimes I want to, I don’t know, greet him every day with a punch in the face just to marvel at how not-pissed-off he’d be, except that’d be like kicking a ****ing puppy – I bet he’d like, ask me to please stop and then quietly resign from his job and turn to… ****ing gardening or something.”

    That struck me as amusing, too. Especially the "just to marvel at how not-pissed-off he'd be" part and the bit about gardening.

    Her eyes flicked towards the muted commercial on the television, the kind of ******** ad where there was no Earthly way to tell what they were advertising (a group of men in crudely made Pokémon costumes sitting around a poker table – what the ****).

    That's... certainly an interesting image. XD Also, I find crappy costumes hilarious. I just do.

    “I want to try it.”

    He blinked. “Uh.” He scratched at his chin for a second, considering it. “Well, who am I to pretend to be a responsible parent. Whatever. Why not.”


    Well, at least he's honest about it. X3


    Seeing more Dave-and-Mia-related extras made me smile. :3 Thanks for posting them!
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 18th February 2011 at 10:53 PM. Reason: Lol, HTML. X3;
    DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
    (Or do. I don't actually mind.)
    The Origin of Storms | Communication

  24. #124
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    elyvorg: Eeeee! <3 Thanks for the awesome rambly review! I love awesome rambly reviews. :D Seriously, best birthday present.

    And then another thing I loved from Dave was his inner monologue about the morphs in that last scene - I don't think I ever really fully appreciated just how much they meant to him until now! 'Cause throughout most of the fic he just seemed like a clever but arrogant guy who does stupid things when he's drunk; yeah, it was mentioned several times that he did a lot for the morphs, but I'm not sure I ever quite latched onto that as much as I should have, and I might just have brushed it off as him trying to make himself look good, or something. But damn it, Dave really cares about those kids. Beyond that, he seems to be the only person open-minded enough to feel that not only are the Pokémorphs perfectly decent people deserving of equal rights, but that they shouldn't even have to try and hide the non-"normal" things about them just because society wants them to; they should be allowed to embrace how different and unique they are without society being assholes about it. And I really can't help but admire Dave for that, no matter how much of an arrogant jerk he seems to be the rest of the time. xP (That and he really was rather adorable when he was breaking down like that at the end.)
    As the character ramble must have made abundantly clear, yessss. He cares so much and is such a complete idealist at heart underneath all those layers of bitterness and despair and depression! And it's so hard to communicate any of that efficiently to the reader when he is being himself but it worked and yay. :D

    The way she suddenly snapped back into cheeriness in the first Dave and Jean scene, for example, where Dave marvels at whether it's genuine or she's just faking it to cope; I like to imagine she's faking it not just to help herself cope but to help him cope too, after vaguely noticing how upset he was about Mia.
    :D

    I think it was the narration and the way it focused on his fascination with the violence of it rather than anything directly to do with him dying; it really gave the impression that it's less that he actively wants to die and more that his Pokémon side's morbid fascination has brought him here and led him to do this when combined with the fact that he no longer actively wants to live.
    Very, very nice observation! Jack's not really the type of person to actually, intellectually consider suicide, but on some deeper level he does want to die; it just doesn't properly surface because that's a very, very frightening thought for him. The morbid what-if is a sort of lead-in that's letting him coax himself into getting consciously comfortable with the idea, and throughout most of the scene, as you note, he never actually admits to himself that he wants to die. When Gabriel gets there, though, the part of him that's telling him It's the only way. You have to. Jump! is definitely bona fide suicidal - you wouldn't get that sort of thought there otherwise.

    (as a matter of fact, I technically knew he couldn't go through with it, because you'd mentioned something to me about the two of them hugging each other and that hadn't happened yet, but I was clearly so immersed that that just didn't matter as I read.)
    D: Sorry for almost spoiling it for you! And glad it worked out anyhow.

    and I love that the thing that jolted Jack back into reality was the thought of dragging his best friend to his death, too.
    :D I love how you notice things.

    (although I do kind of wonder now if he got his love of videogames in the first place as an outlet for these competetive urges! but yeah)
    He liked video games before the competitive urges began to manifest in a real, conscious way - that sort of came with puberty - but on a subtler, subconscious level, who knows?

    (Incidentally, I seem to remember Brian's inner monologue way back in something like chapter 6 talking about how Gabriel may be the freakiest physically but unlike a lot of the other morphs he has an entirely human personality; now I realise that this was actually just because his Slugma cells were so undernourished that his Pokémon side wasn't strong enough to be part of his mind - you totally had this planned, didn't you?)
    Yup! The scene where Gabriel discovers his powers in the church was actually written waaaay in advance, long before I'd properly figured out how the hell he'd even get there. I had so much fun with foreshadowing that.

    But Gabriel still doesn't seem convinced that he isn't a monster what with the rather forced way he responded to Jack's reassurance at the end there, and he's just all confused and adorable and awww. :< Also it was totally Gabriel himself who told the commitee that he didn't stop burning Isaac until he was dead - there was no way Jack would ever have told them that - and the fact that he told them even though it could get him in huge trouble and he could easily have lied about it is so fun and self-loathing.
    :D :D

    That and I have convinced myself that the throwaway mention of Gabriel losing on purpose at the videogame is his desperate attempt to subdue his competetive Pokémon side by not giving it what it wants and not letting himself feel that dangerous euphoria of victory again. Which I imagine may not have been intentional on your part but is totally my headcanon.
    In my mind he was doing it for Jack's sake, in a desperate attempt to make him feel that victorious euphoria so that he wouldn't want to kill himself anymore. But that works too! Alternative interpretations are good.

    Yeah, I'd try to structure the introductions better. I already have some ideas - I hadn't actually nailed down their relationships with one another properly when I started, for instance, so I could make much better use of that in the rewrite. (I should introduce Jack and Gabriel's friendship much earlier, considering how important it then suddenly becomes - I think the first time they interact on-screen or are even vaguely hinted to know one another is chapter eight.) And there will be more plot. I'm hoping to include a little more of the Church of Holy Truth, and make them a little less flat in the process.

    Thanks again for the awesome review! Best birthday present. :3


    Sike Saner: Glad you enjoyed it! :3 And that you're entertained by the extras, in general; I love writing them but they're way pointless as far as the actual fic goes and I never really expect anyone else to give a damn.

    Heh. I think that I will never tire of Mia's ability to technically make sense in a way that breaks my brain in a way that people usually have to make no sense at all to do. If that makes any sense. X3;
    She's remarkably consistent and reasonable in her own completely loony way. It's very entertaining to write her, just for the sake of thinking up how she'd actually view various things. x3

    That's... certainly an interesting image. XD Also, I find crappy costumes hilarious. I just do.
    Believe it or not, that part was actually based on some actual Icelandic ads. I think they're for a phone company? Not Pokémon costumes, but yeah. Though the one with the costumes might have been a different one from the one with the poker. I'm not sure.

    Thanks awesomely for reviewing! :3

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  25. #125
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    This is an example of how you might reply to an Open Participant as a Closed Participant. Dragonfree is now going to play the part of a sample open participant to my closed participant.

    This is a review exchange review.
    Fics: "Under the Same Sky", a PG-15 Chaptered Story (Currently at Three Chapters, and 20,000-ish words).

    Summary: A nameless teenager is heralded as the Champion of the Unova League. However, he's not ready to bear that cross. In order to deal with his inner demons, he absconds to Undella Town - and meets a certain blonde Sinnoh Champion.

    Review Wanted: A review similar to mine. I provided quote-by-quote analysis for four chapters, which should be similar to my three chapters in length. Generally, I want some nitpicks as provided: grammar mistakes and syntactical errors are both areas of focus. Other elements I'd like you to perhaps concentrate on are plotline, premise, and description.

    And my review begins. Hang on to your seat-belts, because this is going to be a bumpy but exciting ride. =O

    Chapter One:

    It was a rhetorical question, of course. Dave and his girlfriend were now at some fancy restaurant, celebrating their anniversary. He had been practically begged to go; Dave had given him a long speech about what his relationship meant to him. And in some moment of pity, Mr. Edwards had agreed to it, figuring it would perhaps, maybe, if he looked optimistically at it, not be [You forgot a ‘Space’ here] quite as bad as it sounded. Damn it all. It was even worse.
    -Comma required, since it is the couple, not the restaurant, which is celebrating the anniversary.
    -Both ‘Dave’ and ‘Brian Edwards’ are ‘he’s. It makes it a little confusing to use the pronoun all the time.
    -Self-explanatory.

    “Good evening, and welcome to Friday Night with James Sullivan!” the host said suddenly, indicating that they were on air. “As most of you will already know, there has been much recent controversy around a team of scientists working for Heywood Labs! According to their spokesman and leader, David Ambrose, the group actually managed to create ‘Pokémorphs’, fetuses with spliced human and Pokémon DNA, which appear to be growing normally. In particular, the controversy is about this statement you will see here!”
    Good things and bad. I liked the ‘Corny Collins’ vibe from Sullivan; it imbues the story with a nice atmospheric beginning. However, I did feel that it was an Info Dump, Exposition conversation. Couldn’t you have split it a little, so the information isn’t too daunting to process in one go? Perhaps include a description about the camera crew, before proceeding with the rest of the information.

    “It… it seemed like a much better idea at the time,” he said stupidly. “We’d had a little to drink that night since it was Dave’s birthday – he always gets weird ideas when he’s drunk – and it was just so obvious, I mean, look at all those book series – and after getting the idea and figuring out how it was possible in the party, we just figured the next day, hey, why not…” What the hell was he saying?

    Hannah gave him a disgusted frown and looked at the camera. “Drunk scientists who want to imitate bestseller book series in some sad attempt to get attention make genetic experiments with unborn human children, and now, to top it all, they’re going to be murdering them. Clearly this is only another example of the godlessness of some of the men we call intellectuals today. We cannot let them do this.”
    Nice bit of conversation here. I chuckled a little. Edwards is a little zany, isn’t he?

    Damn it.

    Damn it all.

    ****ing hell.
    Stars can be avoided through the use of Size tags. Unmodulated swears don’t break immersion. =)

    “You’ve really ****ed us up, Brian.”

    “I know,” Brian said miserably. “She was just making so much sense and being so calm that I just…”

    “Making sense?” the phone shouted at him. “She was making exactly no sense at all! You didn’t even say half of the stuff we talked about! And for Christ’s sake – well, not his, specifically, but you know what I mean – babbling on about how I have weird ideas when I’m drunk? What the ****?”

    I know that this is more of a personal quibble, but why would Jesus exist in the Pokemon Universe? It seems a bit weird. I recognize that the proclamation is a rhetorical device and that most readers wouldn’t be fazed, but it’s a minor problem with me.

    You seriously ****ed us up, man. Remind me never to make you represent us again.”
    Refer to above.

    Overall, a decent start to an interesting premise. I had to trudge through some of the prose, mainly because I didn’t find Brian Edwards a palatable or interesting character. He felt bland and boring to me. Yes, I know you intended that, but the Chapter was through his POV, which did weigh more the narrative. However, your concept is fascinating. PokeMorphs and the political (and humorous) implications? Bumbling, drunk scientists without scruples?

    Hell yes.

    Chapter Two:

    He pressed a key on his laptop. On the smooth, white wall behind him appeared the cover illustration of ‘Sarah Hooter and the Rocket Experiment’: a sexy teenage girl with Vulpix ears, a tuft of red hair that organized itself into unnaturally orderly curls on the top of her head, and six curly, reddish-brown tails fanning out behind her as she struck a pose. A couple of people snickered.

    “Ridiculous, isn’t it? Well, it’s possible. We proved that here at Heywood Labs – of course the whole thing with Team Rocket suddenly turning an ordinary girl into half a Vulpix is ******** and the real method is a lot different, but the end result is the same. We even specifically created a Vulpix morph who is likely to look very similar to Sarah Hooter here when she grows up.”
    [SPACE]
    “Of course,” Dave added with emphasis, “we never intended for her ever to grow up. She’ll be made fun of like all hell at school. But outside pressure and… some inside goofs have forced us to raise the Pokémorphs, and that’s why we’re here. We are all responsible, and thus we need to fairly distribute the morphs between us for rearing. Any questions?”
    -Self-explanatory.
    -I added the Space because the paragraph of just talking was becoming very long. Readers with short-attention spans tune out, so please make it bite-sizes for us peons.
    -Sarah Hooter summons very funny images.

    It was Cheryl Jones, a woman in her thirties that Howard, a research assistant for Heywood Labs, had been seeing recently. She had also, according to Howard, always been passionately interested in the Pokémorph project. She was one of those intelligent blondes who wore glasses, liked to protest and did volunteer jobs.
    -Too many dependent clauses in one short sentence. It reads a little awkwardly, because of the information overload. Separate it into two sentences, or two independent clauses.
    -I like the name “Cheryl”, by the way. It evokes fond memories of the Eterna Forest from D/P/Pt.

    Jane leant at him. “Maybe we should take her, honey.”

    He turned around. “Why?”
    -You lean “towards” somebody, not “at” them.

    “Well,” he said. “The last one. The Slugma boy. The bad part is that he’s pretty much a total failure; it’s lucky – or unlucky, depending on how you look at it – that he’s survived at all to this point. For one thing, his skin is looking to be liquid – as in some kind of thick ooze. This ooze appears to slowly harden at room temperature, which would make him immobile unless his skin is rubbed or heated or something. In addition to that, his blood is far too hot, so he’s really just begging for some sort of organ failure at some point. The organs do seem to be developing some resistance to it, and we’ll have to hope that’s enough. Oh, and we had to take him out of the artificial uterus and put him in a heated glass cage. Somehow he’s already self-sustaining, although if something attacked him at this stage he’d obviously be completely helpless. We don’t even know if we should consider him already born or what, and we have no idea how his physical age is going to change. Basically we’ve got some sort of a human blob and we have no idea what is going to happen to it next.”

    The spouses stared at him in horror.

    “Yeah, his life is going to suck,” he agreed. “If for any reason you are ever going to try to mix a human being with a blob of lava in the future, don’t. But regardless, we can’t kill him, so somebody needs to take care of him if he survives.”
    -“Ouch” for the Slugma boy, and the highlighted statement was pure win. It sounds like a Desperate Housewives or Stepford Wives moment. Gotta love the juxtaposition between absurdist events and middle-class behavior.

    And poor Brian. Holistically, this was a stronger chapter than the one before. The interplay between the scientists and their spouses creates an interesting friction which gives traction to absurdist comedy such as the one that your premise proposes. The Morph Children are ridiculous in their descriptions, but that’s the point, isn’t it? Let’s see where we go.

    Chapter Three:

    “I can’t stand this, Dave!” Jane said desperately. Her smooth face was tearstruck and her beautiful blue eyes were red and puffy. “I hate that freak!”

    “Please, Jane, be reasonable…” Dave began in the most soothing voice he could manage, but was cut off.

    “Reasonable! It’s all you think about, isn’t it?” She sniffed. “Your precious science and career! Keeping a journal of every little thing that little ***** does! You write happily about how she’s teething, and meanwhile I’m getting hormone injections every day and her fangs are digging into my nipples, just because you still insist on her being fed ‘naturally’ for your stupid research! Everything was so much better before the freak came along and we could spend our time together without the stupid howls waking us up at night!”
    -“Tearstruck” isn’t a word, while “tear-struck” is a compound word.
    - Self-explanatory.
    -The breastfeeding reference made me wince. It really did.

    “No, it won’t,” she sobbed. “You said that last time, too, and it just stayed the same.”

    “No, it didn’t, until you started complaining about nothing again! Why do you keep having these ridiculous hysteria fits about everything?” slipped out of Dave in frustration. He regretted it immediately; Jane pushed his hand off her shoulder and turned away.

    “Sorry, I didn’t mean that…”

    Jane threw the baby into his hands and stormed back into the apartment.

    “Wait, Jane!” Dave called desperately, running in after her with the morph squirming in his hands. “I really didn’t mean it! I haven’t slept for days! I was just…”

    “Goodbye, Dave,” she called over her shoulder.

    “No, please, don’t leave…”

    The door slammed. Dave stared at it.

    He bit his lip and blinked a few times to clear his eyes out. “****,” he muttered.
    -Self-explanatory
    -Jane is becoming unhinged. We are starting to see the effects of raising PokeMorphs. Also, single male + baby = disaster awaiting.

    ****!” he screamed at the clothing rack. Then, at the bawling Vulpix morph in his hands, “I hope you’re happy, you little freak!”

    She continued to howl for food. He looked at her for a few seconds and didn’t have the energy to be angry anymore. He quickly splashed some infant formula milk from the refrigerator into a baby bottle and fed her absent-mindedly; after a moment, he opened the refrigerator again and got out a few cans of beer that he put onto the table, before closing the fridge with his foot.

    He suddenly realized that the little Vulpix girl was already asleep. Everything seemed so unreal that he hadn’t noticed.

    ****,” he muttered again, carried her into the bedroom and put her down on the bed before taking out his cellphone and entering Jane’s number. He slumped down on one of the couches in the living room, still staring at the number on the screen.

    “Later,” he muttered to himself. “When she’s gotten over it.” Then he added, as if to reassure himself, “She always does.”

    Admittedly, she had never before gone quite as far as to walk out of the apartment on him. She had locked herself in the bathroom and refused to come out, and she had verbally told him she was going to leave, but she had never actually left.
    -Self-explanatory swears and some missing commas.
    -The highlighted statement sounded strange to me. I would have done it this way:

    “Fuck.”

    Muttering under his breath, Dave carried the girl into the bedroom and put her down on the bed, before taking out his cellphone and entering Jane’s number.
    Or

    “Fuck,” muttered Dave, as he carried the girl into the bedroom. After putting her down on the bed, he pulled out his cellphone and entered Jane’s number.
    Either way, it’s an awkward sentence. It’d be best if you fixed it, rather than me. I’m not as familiar with your writing style as you are, so you are the best person to make the final call.

    “What is it you want this time?” he said disdainfully. “Need your diaper changed? More food, you greedy little *****? Or are you just screaming for your mommy because your daddy isn’t good enough for you?”
    -Self-explanatory

    The *****.

    He closed the cellphone and threw it at the couch. “****ing *****!” he shouted at the phone.

    He hurried over to the refrigerator and opened it, but didn’t find any alcohol. He closed it again and wasn’t sure what he’d do. Finally he went into the bedroom to the still-crying Pokémorph baby and collapsed onto the bed next to her.

    “Jane…” he moaned. He was silent for a long while, listening obliviously to the cries of the little Vulpix girl.

    “It’s just you and me now, isn’t it, little Jane?” he muttered, turning to the child. “Jane…”

    He winced. “No, I really can’t call you Jane. Not quite that, anyway. Too much painful association.”

    Dave looked at his adoptive daughter. Her tiny fangs were visible in her open mouth and whitish hair was already growing on her head and organizing itself into unnatural curls. He sat up and stroked her face carefully, scratching behind her triangular ear; her mouth latched on to his finger and instinctively started to suck on it. He smiled briefly and stroked her one soft, white tail that would one day split into six and gain color.

    “How about something more like… Jean?”
    Okay, I’m going to stop with noting all the swearwords. I’ve mentioned the problem already, so just assume what my stance is for the rest of them.

    And a redhead girl called “Jean”? I shotgun calling the X-Men reference. =)

    A strong chapter. Switching to Dave as a central character was a smart move; he is considerably more interesting than Brian, I’m afraid. The conversation between Dave and the Principal was intense, drawing interesting parallels with real life. The moment with the film studio also made me chuckle, because of the absurdity of it all.

    Although I can see bucket-loads of drama, I can’t see some of the humor that your premise promises. Jane’s dramatic departure, the fracturing of a relationship, discrimination at the school… These are all heavy topics. If this was a drama fic, I’d be fine; however, since the chosen genre is (black) comedy, I was expecting some more humor.

    It’s not a problem for now, but if it isn’t rectified soon, you may face troubles further down the line.

    Chapter Four:

    “The Pokémorphs,” he repeated. “Humans, though created in His image, should not play God, but those propagators of science and evolution of course disregard this as fantasy. I need only cite the very fourteenth Commandment: ‘The creatures shall be the humble servants and the men shall be their kind masters: they are distinct by their nature.’ It tells us that the Pokémonly and the humanly are to be separate. And we are again warned in the Book of Visions, 21.5: ‘And there will be no more distinction between the men and the monsters: the Machoke shall pose as man and lie with the woman as the man.’ By creating the Pokémorphs, they have blurred the natural border between humans and Pokémon, and thus brought us one step closer to the looming apocalypse prophesized in the Book of Visions.”
    ‘Book of Visions’? Sounds a lot like the Book of Revelations. Deliberate or incidental reference?

    David Ambrose had to die.
    Dun-Dun-duh! *Cue dramatic music* To be serious, it was a good sentence. Pithy and dramatic; doesn't it extol the virtues of shorter sentences, ay?

    The rustling gave it away altogether too loudly, but the teacher had gotten so used to it that she only glanced briefly at Katherine, rolled her eyes quickly and continued talking.
    Some of your sentences seem a bit too long. You can do with shortening some of them, at least so that they read awkwardly. So much had happened in that quote alone. I had to read it twice to gage what Katherine was doing – and that’s not good. It breaks immersion. It’s only my personal opinion, but think about it.

    “Yes, I’m the Slugma Pokémorph,” Gabriel replied with a sigh. “Please try not to make me angry at any point in the future, because if my body temperature gets any higher than it is, I happen to have a very uncomfortably high risk of major organ failure.”

    The kid ran for it. Gabriel smiled grimly after him.

    “My life sucks,” he sighed as he headed towards his home.
    Can you “sigh” words? You can sigh and then say something, or say something in a weary voice. But physically sighing words? It must belong to the school of “smiling” or “glaring” words.

    I would remove that comma for something else.

    Overall, I really felt for Gabriel in this chapter. The writing was stronger, but dragged a little in some portions. Those long, awkwardly-worded sentences are part of the problem; I had to read twice in Katherine’s section, and that really breaks immersion. You don’t want the reader to double-guess even basic actions, like moving a pencil. Please consider what I’m saying, at least for the future.

    There were some great positives, though. The Slugma Morph only appeared for one scene, yet I already feel a greater emotional connection than I have for the other characters. The dialogue from him seems natural, which leads me to my point: you have a gift for dialogue. Your character say things that make sense and sound unforced. The exchanges between Dave and Jane exemplify my point; Jane was more than a paper cut-out, and Dave sounded like the harried significant other. Good dialogue leads to a greater suspension of disbelief, so well done.

    The storyline itself is solid, and at this point, I like the direction this story is travelling. The religious subplot and the sociopolitical implications were skillfully woven in, so well done again. As a whole, I enjoyed Morphic at this point. Sure, there were some problems, but which story doesn’t?

    Perhaps I’ll finishing reviewing the rest of the chapters at a later date. But for now, I shall close my book.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by Draco Malfoy; 16th July 2011 at 10:16 AM.

    Under the Same Sky - PG-15||Completed

    Memorandum to UtSS: "A Deathless Prelude".
    FF.net Profile//Quote-of-the-month: “History is much like an endless waltz. The three beats of war, peace and revolution continue on forever.”

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