Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
Anima Ex Machina: Ten
Violence is a last resort.

Bill was hard-pressed to recall any situation that was more awkward than the one he was in right then. It had been some time since Officer Jenny ordered the pudgy man at the door – who never did reveal his name – to unchain Bill and lead him downtown for negotiations. This involved unchaining Bill, naturally, but it also involved using the chains as a collar and leash to lead him down the empty streets of Mauville City.

Needless to say, Bill tried to focus more on the fact that the streets were empty than his current state.

Mauville reminded him a little of Goldenrod City. It looked modern on the surface, but it had a sort of old-city charm underneath that. Both sides of each wide street were lined with brick buildings. Some of these were apartments, their revolving, glass doors shaded by weather-beaten awnings. Others were stores with windows full of colorful displays.
Good description of Mauville City, I can definitely picture that.

However, the difference between this place and where Bill grew up – a difference that made his heart feel chilled – was that this place was completely devoid of visible people. Technically, it wasn't completely devoid of people in general; Bill could catch the scraping sound of people moving on rooftops around him. It was just that the streets were empty. Even the man who led him there had subsequently dashed for a hiding spot as soon as the end of the chain was securely locked around a lamp post.

Ignoring this form of company, Bill could tell that there hadn't been crowds on that street for some time. On closer inspection along the way, he had noticed that all of the store displays were coated with thick dust that gave every color a gray tint. The garbage cans didn't even smell like something was rotting in them – as if there wasn't anything left to rot at all. Most of all, the place was quiet: extremely quiet, like the entire city block was gone. He couldn't even hear the buzz of electricity or the hum of traffic in the distance.

Leaning against the lamp post, he waited. He couldn't quite tell what time it was, but the sun hung halfway between the earth and its zenith. For awhile, he watched the shadows by his feet elongate while he wondered what the humans wanted him to do.

How boring. I hope you were not planning on remaining here for much longer, Bill.

At the voice, Bill jolted back into reality. "Adam!"

Did you expect anyone else? Tell me, human, what is your plan?


To escape, of course. We have things to do. We cannot be chained here forever.

"Are you insane?" Bill whispered. "We can't escape!"

Why? Are you concerned about breaking the chain? I could give you the ability to do so.

"That isn't the problem."

Then what is?

Bill looked up, scanning the rooftops. Catching sight of the corner of a shadow, he turned towards it and leaned back a little.

"Do you see that figure on the roof?"

I can see it through your eyes.

Ignoring the creeping shiver he got from that statement, Bill frowned. "That man is carrying a gun."

A gun?

Balling his hand into a fist, Bill carefully used the back of his wrist to rub the bridge of his nose. He was starting to get a headache, but the last thing he wanted was to put out his own eyes.

"Guns," he said. "They're weapons that can kill us both from a distance by firing lead projectiles at us at high velocities."

How primitive.
I hear Obi-Wan Kenobi's disgust for blasters here. XD;

It occurred to Bill right then that he knew next to nothing about Adam or the rest of his species. He knew that they apparently began appearing around the crater outside of Fortree City in Hoenn, and from that, he guessed that they were extraterrestrial in origin. Other than that and what little data Project Stardust gathered about the way they functioned? Nothing. He didn't know where they actually came from, let alone how they lived before coming to Earth. Adam's comment right then sent an electric shock to his brain – a shock that made him realize he was dealing with something that most likely was far more advanced than he had originally believed.

"Adam," he said, "what did--"

Before Bill could go any further, a howl rose in the air. He felt his nerves prickle under his metal armor, and instinctively, he crouched.

"What was that?" he whispered.

One of us, I should think, Adam replied. Prepare yourself, Bill. We will need to treat this delicately.

"What do you mean by that?" Bill asked.

Before the parasite could say a word, the howling grew close. Looking forward, Bill could see a pair of purple blurs streak towards him. Yelping, he scrambled to run away, but he got no further than a few feet from the post before the chain yanked at his neck. He choked and grabbed it, holding it taut. Although he knew it was locked, he still pulled at it, hoping it would somehow come undone.

A purple hand grasped the chain. Stopping short, Bill felt his breath catch in his throat. Cautiously, he turned his head to find that the purple blurs had stopped, and both of them were standing uncomfortably close to him.

As far as he could tell, both of the creatures must have been teenagers when they transformed. They looked about as young as he was, with smooth, round faces and wide eyes. The long, purple quills all over their bodies rose and fell as they leaned in to study him, and their tails, both ending in spike-studded balls, waved like the tails of a pair of content dogs. One of them – female, as far as Bill could tell from the chest – ran long fingers along his tail to find the arrowhead. The other, a male, looked down but kept his own hand on the chain.

"Monarch," she whispered. "Tail. Look."
I wouldn't be laughing so hard here if I wasn't a Venture Bros. fan.

What he thought was the corpse of the female sat up. Bullets hit her, biting off parts of her body little by little. Her shoulder was ripped open. Several holes went right through her torso. Parts of her brain were exposed to the open air, and some parts of it were ripped completely out of her skull. Yet, she still stared at Bill with the same expressionless face, and keeping her wide, blank eyes on him, she stood without a problem.

Sinking to the ground, Bill felt his mind go completely blank. He couldn't think of a single thing right then, except for the thought that he really wanted to scream.
That's terrifying.

Change your expression.

He kept his eyes on the female. His entire body felt numb, not because he was losing control but instead because he couldn't sense anything else but the image of the girl with her brains in full view. He had no idea Adam was trying to communicate with him.

Bill. I gave you an order. Change your expression.

Closing his mouth, Bill tried to push himself backwards. His body shook as the girl knelt in front of him and stared with her wide eyes.

Bill. Listen to me. Humans express their emotions on their faces. My kind does it by other means. A human who has recently become a drone struggles with transitioning from one mode of expression to another, but a monarch is in control of their body language at all times.

"What?" The word stumbled out of Bill's mouth so softly he almost believed he had imagined he said it.

You are putting us in danger by staring at her the way you are! Change your expression!

Although Bill heard him, he couldn't comply. All he could do was continue to stare at the girl as she reached down and grabbed his chin. He felt her slick, cold fingers grasp his face tightly, the claws stinging his skin.

"Rogue," she rasped.

She knows.

Bill couldn't make sense of either voice – the girl's or Adam's. His eyes fell on the female's free hand as she drew it back. She pressed her fingers together, each one glowing with a bright, violet glow. Then, her arm shot forward, aiming directly for the red jewel in Bill's chest.

Acting on its own orders, Bill's hand reached up to grab the girl's wrist just before the strike connected. Suddenly, Bill's expression blanked, and all of it wasn't even his doing. After all, he felt himself slip backwards, as if all of his body had gone numb for a completely different reason.

"Bill," Adam said, using his mouth, "I want you to watch what I do. Let this be a learning experience."

Then, the parasite bent the girl's arm until it snapped. Kicked backwards into the street, she shrieked and grasped her broken arm frantically. Adam rose from where it sat and walked forward. It extended one of its hands, spreading its claws to prepare for a strike. Each finger took on a white glow as the muscles tensed to the point where it felt like all that existed in that appendage was pure steel.

Above them, Bill could hear the male's shriek, but whereas he would have reacted a second too late, Adam twisted and thrust the glowing hand upwards. The male fell, intending on ambushing Adam, but before he could so much as plant a claw on the steel-type, its glowing claws stabbed into his stomach. Turning, Adam threw its victim back into the street, letting him slam into the pavement. The female bent over him and whimpered as he curled on his side.

"Lesson one," Adam said. "When engaged in battle, always be aware of your surroundings."
When did Bill become a badass. Geez.

The shots stopped. By then, Adam could see people gather on the edges of buildings with their guns lowered and their eyes fixed on the scene on the street. The female rose and lifted her arms in front of her. Each quill that ran along her forearms stood and pointed themselves at Adam. Calmly, it turned its head back towards her and shielded its face with its own arms. For a second time, Bill sensed that the muscles of his body tensed as his armor began to glow with a white light. Pins shot from the female's arms and struck Adam's with a volley of clinks; not a single one of them pierced armor.

Behind it, Adam's tail stiffened and began to glow. As soon as the attack finished, it lunged forward, crouched, and spun. Its tail whipped around it and sliced cleanly through the girl's legs halfway down her thighs. The rest of her body smacked back into the pavement and fell still, her mouth open in death. However, one of her amputated legs twitched. Adam bent down to pick it up.

"Lesson two," it said, "locate and destroy the core. The core is our source of life. Our host may be decapitated, and we can still control its body to fulfill our needs. However, if the core is broken, we die."
Again, very creative...

It turned the leg over and found the female's crimson jewel embedded in her heel. Adam's fingers dug into the flesh surrounding it, cutting through the spindly threads that anchored the parasite to its host. With a rip, Adam yanked the creature free from the leg. The parasite squealed and thrashed its tentacles as the rest of the leg was tossed onto the girl's body. Adam held it up, studying it for a few seconds. Then, metal fingers gripped the parasite in a palm until its exoskeleton cracked. The squealing abruptly stopped, and the red body flashed several times before bursting in a splash of blood and acid. Opening its hand, Adam licked the blood.

Without warning, a purple arm wrapped around his shoulders. Another hand lashed forward, its claws ripping across the exposed flesh of Adam's throat. The steel-type rasped, feeling the blood run from its neck and the cut in his windpipe.

Taking advantage of my distraction. Using Slash instead of a venomous move, Adam thought. This one is intelligent. However...

It reached over its shoulder. The five claws on its hand began to glow white again. Taking notice, the male grabbed Adam's hand and wrapped his tail around its waist. Adam struggled to free its wrist, but the male held on with a crushing grip. The glow faded before Adam could do anything with his second Metal Claw.

But then, it stabbed the male through the shoulder with the arrowhead tip of its glowing tail. Instantly, the parasite on the poison-type's back burst, and the creature shuttered. Withdrawing its tail, Adam pulled itself free from the man's weakened grip. It looked at the infected human as he dropped to his knees. Bringing a hand to its throat, Adam felt the wound across it heal, and with that, it coughed.

If he wanted to cripple me, he would have broken my horns, Adam continued.

It finished its victim off by whipping its tail through his neck. The man's head fell off his shoulders with a thud, and the rest of the body collapsed sideways.

Walking into the middle of the street, Adam looked towards the rooftops. Every single human stood there, still as people in a photograph. A few of them still held guns, but these remained at their sides. Adam had nothing to say to them.

"No contest."

Turning its head towards the whisper, Adam caught sight of three familiar faces. The first was the chubby man who had led Bill to that spot, and the second and third were Officer Jenny and Ellen. All three of them were standing at a street corner several feet away, but although Jenny whispered, the place was silent enough for Adam to hear her voice.

"Two ixodida in less than ten minutes. I... I don't believe it."

Bill, take over, Adam thought. They do not intend on attacking us, and I have spent too long outside as it is.

There was no answer.


Still, there was silence.

Jenny started forward. Her face was pale, and her movements were sluggish, as if someone had sapped all her energy. Without a word to her, Adam turned away, dropped to all fours, and started running.
Overall, it's certainly an interesting chapter to return with. We'll have to see how things go from here.