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Thread: Anima Ex Machina (PG-15)

  1. #101
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    More than a month between entries, and this one happens be rushed because...

    *flailflailflail* HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILL.

    Yes, folks, I am so creepy a fangirl, I celebrate the birthday of my favorite character by abusing him via fanfiction.

    Also:

        Spoiler:- Excuse me while I EXCITEDLY RAVE ABOUT SOMETHING I REALLY LIKED IN THIS CHAPTER.:


    So... yes. If there's any new readers out there, I hope enjoy the chapter (because I certainly did)!


    Anima Ex Machina: Fourteen
    I know your face.


    "Damage report."

    On the wall of a board room, a screen lit up. Black-and-white stills filled every inch of it, each one detailing a different shot. Some of them were of a group of people in lab coats crowding a nondescript hallway. Others were of two alien creatures: one standing upright and the other crouched in a fighting stance. Still others showed a battle between the second alien and the army of scientists, followed by images of another struggle between the remaining humans and a security force. The last few were photographs of a hole in the roof, the debris beneath it, scorch marks, and bodies – growlithe and people with their mouths forever open in dead screams.

    Five individuals sat behind a long table. Each one of them looked roughly the same: pale skin, black suits, eyes fixed on the images in front of them. Most people involved with Project Stardust would never meet them, but these were the Committee, the five individuals who watched over every last activity within each of the government-sanctioned research institutions.

    As such, they were hardly pleased to know what happened to Polaris Institute.

    At one end of the long table, the man known as Fifth cleared his throat and began, "Our staffing procedures neglected to filter out several members from the organized crime syndicate known as Team Rocket. Their specific goals and the extent of their reach within Project Stardust remains unknown to our own officers, but it is absolutely clear to us now that they wish to acquire both forms of XP-650."

    In the center seat of the table sat the head of the Committee itself, a man simply known as First. Frowning, First laced his fingers together and propped his elbows on the table.

    "Are they aware of the threat XP-650 poses to humankind?" he asked.

    "It seems," Fifth replied, "that they want to use it to their advantage. We have reason to believe that they were behind the creation of Adam, and we are almost certain they were responsible for Abel."

    "I see. Is there anything we can do to prevent further activity from them?"

    On the other end of the table, a woman, Fourth, spoke, "Investigations have been underway since Abel's creation. Team Rocket has hidden its operatives well within our ranks. Finding them and expelling them will take far too much time, and we have very little of that already."

    Without turning his head, First slipped his gaze to Fourth. "Then, what would you propose we do?"

    "Allow them to continue their own operations," Fourth proposed. "So long as they fail to escape our facilities, we could use their experiments for our own purposes. After all, while we cannot violate any of our own code of ethics, Team Rocket does not subscribe to the same. They can create the specimens we need to understand the XP-650 species in full."

    First exhaled. He knew he didn't have much of a choice in the matter. After all, he could clearly see what kind of damages an ixodida could induce.

    "Very well, then," he said. "We will allow Team Rocket to continue operations. Additionally, we will send teams to repair Polaris Institute and outfit the complex with security suited for containing XP-650. The next one to be created will not escape."

    "Thank you, sir," Fourth replied.

    "Yes." First turned his head to the woman sitting next to him. "Second, do you have the status of the indexed XP-650?"

    Second reached forward to press a button on the table. Instantly, the stills disappeared, and in their place was the image of a young, pale woman in a chair.

    "Stardust Project: Subject 001, Codename Pandora," she stated. "Operatives in Hoenn have spotted her flying above the meteorite crater near Fortree City known as Point Zero. She was heading east, presumably for Mt. Pyre. Due to the concentration of XP-650 in that particular area, we lost contact with her shortly thereafter."

    Her fingers hit the button again. This time, the image that appeared was a black-and-white shot angled down towards part of the nondescript hallway. Standing close to one side of the photo was an armored ixodida. One of his hands was on his head while the other was braced against the wall. He looked forward with a concerned expression on his face; he didn't seem to notice the camera at all.

    "Stardust Project: Subject 002, Codename Adam," Second continued. "Shortly after the attack on Polaris Institute, Adam vanished along with Abel. The last sighting of him was over one of the National Defense Force bases in Fallarbor Town. It has been reported that Abel was carrying him southward, presumably to the same point as Pandora. Unlike the other registered XP-650, this one seems to be what is known in their species as a rogue – an XP-650 capable of independent thought most resembling the host. Because of this, his retrieval is priority one. We have not been able to identify a true rogue throughout Project Stardust until Adam, and we need to understand how one is created more than anything else."

    "Of course," First replied. "But continue. What of the others?"

    Second pressed the button again. Another shot of the nondescript hallway appeared, this time with an ixodida crouched in the center. Electricity arced off its spiky skin, and its mouth hung open.

    "Stardust Project: Subject 003, Codename Abel," she reported. "While Pandora and Adam are both monarchs, Abel is what is known as a drone. His behavior is violent and erratic, far more than even Pandora's; however, while Pandora was more dangerous because of her ability to be calculating, Abel was simply mindlessly destructive. He was responsible for the collateral damage to Polaris Institute as well as the deaths of a small portion of the security staff. His status, as far as we know, is the same as Adam's."

    She hit the button one more time. This time, the screen blanked completely. Instead, a sound filled the room: the sound of a woman singing. At first, it was simply that, but as it continued, a low, almost demonic rumble began under her vocals.

    "Stardust Project: Subject 004, Codename Lilith," Second continued. "The research camp closest to Point Zero recently received this transmission from her. We currently have no further information concerning Lilith or who she is."

    First leaned forward, and for a long time, he simply stared straight ahead. The others waited in complete silence. It was difficult to tell whether or not they were even breathing.

    Then, he finally spoke.

    "I see."

    Second swallowed. "Sir? Your orders?"

    "Notify the Agency of Lilith. Advise them to send forces to Point Zero," First replied. "She may be the one we will need to watch the most."

    "Is that all, sir?"

    Another silence lapsed between all five members of the Committee. First's hand slipped to a button in front of him, and as soon as he pressed it, the screen flared to life. A single image remained on it, that of the metal ixodida standing in the otherwise empty hallway.

    "Codename Adam," First said. "A steel-type. Curious. We have no documentation of any other steel-types on this planet."

    "Sir?" Second asked.

    "Nothing," First replied. "Yes, Second, that will be all."

    He pressed the button again, and instantly, the room plunged into darkness.

    ---

    Early mornings in Mauville City typically involved a thick, chilled fog rolling in from the nearby river. Most residents knew this was a dangerous time to be outside. Human senses weren't adapted to fog, but the ixodida had no trouble traveling in those conditions. So, to the residents of Mauville, fog meant one could never tell if an ixodida was lurking just beyond what human eyes could see.

    As a human's pokémon, Chansey knew this very well. She had to treat far too many careless trainers than she cared to count, and she knew that her kind was nothing more than prey to the ixodida. However, she also knew that the best time to go outside, if one wanted to be left alone, was barely a half an hour after the sun rose. At that time, the fog would thin just enough for the average person to see the hazy forms of the city several feet around them, and for pokémon, creatures that relied on their senses of smell and hearing instead of sight to identify approaching dangers, the extra visibility just made things more convenient. The humans of Mauville generally erred on the side of caution by staying indoors until not a trace of fog clouded the streets, which kept the numbers of different scents and sounds at a minimum. At the same time, she was close enough to the pokémon center that a human, if one happened to be watching, could easily see her from the window.

    Because of that, she felt at ease standing outside. Her feather-like ears twitched as she meditated quietly in the last remnants of the fog. She waited patiently for something to happen, for someone to arrive.

    Behind her, she heard a soft scratch, the slight sound of something scraping lightly against concrete. Turning, she was just in time to see a white glow swing backwards and form the shape of five glowing, sharp claws. She pulled her stubby arms over her head and crouched as the arm swung forward, but before it could strike her, her soft body compressed itself and shrank, melting into a smaller version of her natural form.

    "GAH!"

    Her attacker's arm flailed through the empty air above her head. The rest of his body followed, and before he could process what was happening, Bill tumbled head over heels into the road beyond his target.

    When he came to a stop, he forced himself to sit up with a wince. His claws stopped glowing as his hand reached for his head.

    "I should have seen that one coming," he mumbled to himself.

    Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of another white light. Looking up, he watched as an egg-shaped object rolled towards him and came to a stop right by his feet. It took another second for him to realize what a glowing egg meant.

    A few feet away, Chansey watched with a small, triumphant smile on her face as her Egg Bomb exploded, sending dust and debris sky high. The egg itself sailed out of the cloud in a neat arc before Chansey reached up and caught it neatly. Shoving it back into her pouch, she glanced towards her opponent with a devious grin.

    As soon as the dust cleared, she was surprised to find that he was still kneeling exactly where he was without so much as a dent on his body. His arms were crossed in front of his face, and a faint, blue aura surrounded him. Slowly, he lowered his arms while the light faded.

    "I can't believe that actually worked," he said.

    Neither can I, Adam quipped.

    "I told you Iron Defense wouldn't be a worthless move."

    I never said it would be. I was referring to the fact that your speed is abysmal.

    Bill frowned. "You don't have to put it that critically."

    Hm. Bill, focus. The battle is far from over, and it appears our opponent has realized that.

    Turning, Bill narrowly dodged the happiness pokémon as she barreled right at him. A streak of gold energy followed her pink body like the tail of a comet, and when she struck the pavement, the road indented beneath her, leaving cracks and a crater where she fell. Seconds later, she picked herself up, clutching her side with one of her paws while she panted.

    Double-Edge. A risky maneuver. She must be getting desperate, Adam commented.

    "Not exactly," Bill whispered. "With Softboiled, she makes up for whatever health she loses."

    A fair point. What do you plan to do now, knowing this?

    "What I usually do in this sort of situation," Bill replied, a little too calmly. "Make things up as I go along."

    For a second time, Chansey pushed off the ground with both feet and launched at her target with a burst of speed. A golden streak stretched behind her, and she braced herself for impact. As quickly as he could, Bill crouched, shielding his face again with his arms. The same, faint aura that he had produced not too long ago surrounded his body just before Chansey slammed directly into him. His armor took the blow, refusing to bend beneath her strike while his hands lashed out to grab her. Each of his fingers encircled the feathery appendages on either side of her head, stopping her right where she was.

    "Got you!" he exclaimed.

    Good job, Bill, Adam said. Now. How should we finish her?

    "I've got just the thing."

    Bill lifted his tail as it began to glow. He could feel the muscles in each segment tense against his metal skin until the appendage was stiff and heavy. In one quick motion, he let go of Chansey and spun around, swinging his tail in a circle around his body.

    The challenge in mastering many steel-type moves, as Bill would shortly learn, was that every last one of them needed the user's utmost focus to use. Even a split second of hesitation would result in complete and utter failure.

    For example, just before Bill's strike landed, part of him wavered. Would it be too forceful of a strike? Would it actually seriously hurt her? She had just used not one but two Double-Edge attacks, so she was already weak. These thoughts, as quickly as they came, were just enough to cause Bill's tail to relax just a little. It lost its glow a split second before it hit its target, and as a result, it smacked the side of Chansey's head with just that: a smack, not a blow.

    Blinking, Bill looked over his shoulder as Chansey opened her eyes. The pink pokémon gave him a mischievous grin as her hands reached up to wrap around his tail. Bill bristled, straightening as every part of him tensed in anticipation for the inevitable ending strike.

    Yanking him closer to her (which itself elicited a loud yelp from Bill), Chansey extended one paw and smacked him across the face repeatedly. Then, to add insult to injury, she seized his tail in both hands again. With strength Bill didn't even realize a chansey could possess, she jumped into the air, yanking him off the ground with her. Once airborne, she swung him in a complete circle beside her like a yo-yo and released him mid-swing to send him sailing towards the ground. Her Seismic Toss lasted only a few brief seconds, and at the end, Bill landed with a crack on the pavement. He didn't bother to stir after that.

    Just the thing, Bill? Adam scoffed.

    Bill didn't respond. He simply stared upwards at the gray sky. The fog was lifting, and the morning sun was filtering through the remaining wisps. Above him, Chansey's face, now a normal size for her species, appeared to give him a sympathetic glance.

    "Chansey chan?" she muttered.

    She pulled out her egg while it took on a yellow glow. Light from its surface bathed her former opponent, and he closed his eyes and relaxed. Gradually, his mind began to clear enough to let him think straight.

    "I'll be all right," he said quietly. "Thank you for your concern."

    After a few moments, he sat up and rubbed the back of his head. Chansey took a step back and stuffed her egg into its pouch again.

    "Chansey chan chan-sey," she told him.

    "You don't have to apologize," he replied. "It was better that you attacked me that vigorously. At least I learned Iron Defense this time around."

    "Chan. Chan chan chansey chan. Chansey chan."

    "Clear my mind when I use Iron Tail?" He shook his head. "Yes, but I can't help it. Every time I'm about to hit you, I can't stop myself from thinking I might hurt you."

    "Chan," she replied sternly. "Chansey chan chansey."

    "You're starting to sound like Officer Jenny," he muttered as he gave her an awkward look. "But you're right. If I'm going to help any of you, I need to stop letting myself be preoccupied with that." Glancing upwards at the sky, he squinted. "Perhaps we should try one more time. I need to learn at least one steel-type attack before the Caravan arrives. Just give me a few minutes to rest, and we can begin."

    Chansey reached up to pat him on the shoulder. She didn't say anything, opting to let her companion sit and breathe quietly until he felt well enough to stand. In the meantime, the fog completely lifted, revealing buildings block by block until the entire street was visible. Right about then, the low hum of chatter began to filter from the pokémon center as the survivors of Mauville gathered in its lowest floor. Bill listened to this for a while before he stood and flicked his tail. He needed to do this for them, and he knew that.

    "Right," he said. "Are you ready?"

    Before Chansey could respond, the two of them caught the sound of shoes against pavement and the bark of a manectric. Turning, they saw Thom and Ellen run towards them with Thom's manectric leading the way.

    "Bill! Chansey!" Ellen called. "Oh, thank goodness! I've been looking all over the center for the two of you! Why would you come out in the fog?"

    Straightening, Bill replied, "I'm terribly sorry. I should have asked to borrow Chansey this morning. She was helping me train."

    Chansey nodded vigorously and chirped to confirm his explanation. Ellen glanced from her partner to the ixodida and back and frowned.

    "I know you're new to this area, Bill, but it's extremely dangerous to go out when it's foggy. You never know if any hostile ixodida are out," she said. "Chansey, why would you let him train at this hour?"

    As the happiness pokémon chirped her reply, Bill cringed in embarrassment. He hadn't thought of the possibility, and already, he was feeling a little foolish for it.

    "Never mind that!" Thom said excitedly. "How far did you get in your training? D'you think you'd be able to hold your own against Manectric?"

    Shifting a confused gaze towards Thom, Bill replied, "Ah... Well, I mastered Slash and Scratch, and I learned Iron Defense. So, not very far, I suppose. But... why are you so excited about fighting me again?"

    "Are you kidding?!" Thom exclaimed, leaning towards Bill. "I've got to do some training too! Just think of how many ixodida I'll be able to kick around once Manectric's all revved up for it!" Then, he paused and leaned back. "Uh, no offense or anything."

    Bill shied away from Thom. "I'm... honestly not sure how I should be reacting to that."

    "Seriously, Thom," Ellen whispered harshly.

    "Oh come on!" Thom protested. "I'd really go easy on him this time! Honest! And it'd be for a good cause!" His voice lowered into a mumble. "And it's not like I was actually saying I'd kill him or anything."

    Ellen opened her mouth to retaliate, but before she could, a green glow caught her eye. Gasping, she turned towards its source and stumbled out of the way.

    "Wait!" she cried. "Look out!"

    Thom, Manectric, and Chansey dove in opposite directions to get out of the way of the incoming beam. Bill, meanwhile, whirled around and stumbled backwards, just in time for the green and yellow beam to slam into the pavement where he had been standing a second ago. He stared with wide eyes at the crater it left behind a moment before he heard the sound of something thumping against the pavement. Lifting his gaze, he noticed a figure running directly at him, but before he could get a good look at the newcomer, she swung at him with a long, metal object. Reflexively, he blocked the object – a crowbar, apparently – with his forearm, but this left his legs wide open for a boot to sweep his feet from under him. He slammed onto his back, and seconds later, the girl was sitting on his stomach, the crowbar pinning his chest to the ground.

    "Run!" she screamed.

    "What's the big idea?!" Thom exclaimed. "What do you think you're doing?!"

    "Saving you!" the girl snapped. "Run before it breaks free!"

    "He's not going to hurt you!" Ellen explained. "He's a friendly ixodida! One that thinks just like a human! Just ask him!"

    The girl turned back to her captive and glared coldly at his face. In the meantime, Bill lay where he was. He was stunned, but it wasn't because of the attack.

    It was because he knew her.

    From what he could tell, the woman had been through Hell. Her green dress was ripped halfway up its skirt, revealing legs bound tightly in thick leather boots. The bodice was bound with leather belts crossing her waist and chest, but judging by the knife sheathed on her hip and the poké balls clipped to one of the strips crossing her torso, they weren't for show. Her arms were bound by torn, green sleeves, but even though they covered most of her pale skin, Bill could see scars he knew she didn't have months ago. Even her face looked harder. Her red eyes glared icily at him from behind half-moon glasses, and her mouth formed a thin line as she pressed down on the crowbar a little more.

    In the pause as she glared at him, her altaria descended, ruffling her cloud-like wings as she stood and waited for her mistress's next command.

    "You have ten seconds to prove her right, or I'll order my altaria to end you right here," the woman drawled.

    Ten seconds. In that time, Bill deliberated back and forth between whether or not he should reveal who he was to her. The newcomer was smart, though, and he had no doubt she would recognize him eventually. Besides, it would certainly make things easier for him to have an ally like her on his side. Yet, on the other hand, he didn't particularly want her to see his body the way it was – not her, of all people.

    Fixing his jaw, he prepared to speak. If it would get her to trust him, the easier way won out.

    "Hello, Lanette," he said.

    Ellen stepped back and exchanged glances with Thom. Both of them recognized the name, and why wouldn't they? Lanette wasn't exactly a common name in that region, and the one that came to mind for the both of them had her name attached to the regional storage system. Neither of them had any idea what she was doing there, looking like an amazon ripped from a dystopian comic book, let alone one with a crowbar pressed firmly against an ixodida's chest.

    Lanette had no idea that they were staring at her in curiosity. After all, she was busy giving the ixodida her own gaze of wide-eyed surprise.

    She sat a little straighter. "How did you...?"

    He opened his eyes and gave her a pleading look. "It's me. Bill."

    The look of shock on her face immediately dissolved into a fierce glare again as she pressed down on the crowbar. "Who?"

    "McKenzie," he choked as he squirmed under the pressure of the bar. "I'm your partner!"

    "Liar! The Bill I know is in Kanto. I don't know where you got that name, but--"

    "It's true," Bill interrupted. "Lanette, there was... I was involved in an accident. It's a very long story, but the end result is, well..." He gave her a sheepish grin. "I'm here. And I'm stuck like this. Please believe me."

    "Why should I?"

    She pressed down a little harder. Bill coughed, feeling the pressure of her hold against the jewel in his chest. Adam stirred in his mind with a low growl.

    Bill, do something, it hissed. If my core breaks, then we will both die. Therefore, if you allow her to continue, I will be forced to kill her myself.

    For a brief second, Bill paused to think about what Adam said. He didn't need to be told twice, especially when it concerned a friend. Resolving himself, he shifted just enough to let his tail slip out from under him. Lanette gasped, looking over her shoulder to watch the appendage rise, but before she could do anything to ward it off, it moved across her back and pushed her down to lie against him.

    At the same time, the altaria screeched and reared back, opening her beak enough to let a greenish-yellow light form at the back of her throat. However, she stopped there, waiting for something to happen. She knew she couldn't do anything without hitting her mistress, and her mistress preoccupied herself with staring once again in bewilderment at the creature holding her close – particularly when nothing happened.

    "As you can see, if I meant any harm to you, I would have done so already," Bill told her. "Besides..."

    Tilting his head towards her, he whispered a password into her ear. She inhaled and pulled away to sit up on him again. He let her, watching her carefully as she stared at him with a startled expression.

    "Bill," she whispered.

    He nodded once. Lanette's lips parted, but she said nothing to him. Instead, she scrambled to her feet and took a few steps backwards. The crowbar rested at her side, much to Bill's relief. Taking pleasure in the lack of pressure, Bill sat up and kept his eyes on her.

    "It's good to see you," he said.

    She turned away and began walking back the way she came. Her hand motioned for her dragon to follow her, and with a sweep of cloud-like wings, the altaria closed her beak and fluttered to her mistress's side. Still, Lanette was silent as she swung a leg over the altaria's back.

    Bill blinked. That was what he would call an unexpected reaction. He scrambled to his feet and started after her, leaving Ellen and Thom behind and completely lost. Of course, he didn't notice; he devoted all his concentration to the fact that the only person he knew on this island before its quarantine was about to take off.

    "Where are you going?" he asked.

    Swiftly, she twisted in her seat and blocked his way with her crowbar. He stopped short, staring at the pointed end close to his chest.

    "Stay away from me," she growled.

    "What? Wait!"

    "You have no idea how much trouble you're in right now," she told him. "I've got to go back to the Caravan and notify them of you."

    "The Cara--"

    Bill darted in front of the altaria and placed his hands on the bird's neck. The dragon squawked indignantly and shook her head, trying to shrug the ixodida's hold off her shoulders. Ignoring this, Bill leaned towards Lanette.

    "You're not talking about the band of refugees, are you?" he asked.

    "Yes," she snapped. "Now get out of my way."

    He shook his head. "Lanette, please. I want the people of Mauville to go with the Caravan."

    "And they will."

    "You don't understand. The people of Mauville want me to go with them."

    Her eyes narrowed. "Out of the question. Get out of my way, Bill."

    He transferred hands to the end of her crowbar and gripped it tightly. "I can help you. Just convince the Caravan to take me with them, and I can help protect the Caravan wherever it goes. I have nowhere else to go anyway; I doubt I would be allowed back to Kanto looking like this."

    "How long have you been in Hoenn?"

    "Only a few days. Why?"

    She huffed. "Allow me to teach you something I doubt you learned in Polaris Institute. You may be able to think like a human, but ixodida have a way of finding one another. If you travel with us, they'll sense you and come to us in droves to see why you're here. In other words, you'll be trouble for us just by existing. Now, for the last time, get out of my way, Bill. I don't want to hurt you."

    He let go of her crowbar and let his arms drop to his sides. What she just said slowly sank into his skull. The ixodida could sense him. No matter where he went, they would know where he was. He was smart enough to realize this meant he'd be a danger to the Caravan, but the thought of being left behind to face masses of ixodida scared him, too. Lifting one of his hands, he stared at the claws. He didn't yet know how to fully defend himself, and he needed Lanette's help – or anyone's, for that matter – to understand what he was.

    A gust of wind signaled that the altaria had taken off. Looking up, he reached out for Lanette before she or her bird could get far.

    "Lanette!" he called.

    She pulled on her pokémon's shoulders to get her to hover. When the dragon stopped, Lanette gazed at her former partner once again.

    "What will the Caravan do once they know about me?" he asked.

    "If you're lucky, they'll drive you into the wilderness and order you not to follow us."

    "And if I'm not lucky?"

    For a brief second, Bill saw a flash of a sympathetic look cross her face. A second later, it was gone, and Lanette kicked the sides of her bird. Far below, Bill shivered in response to her glance and watched her fly away.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 9th October 2011 at 6:41 AM.

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  2. #102

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    Happy Birthday, Bill!

    ˇFeliz cumpleańos, Bill!

    Hyvää syntymäpäivää, Bill!

    (Bill's awesome enough to be wished 'happy birthday' in three languages. ^_^)

    Hehe, yes, another battle! Gotta say, I didn't expect Chansey to be so great at solo battling; imagining Chansey with a mischievous grin was also a great mental image. Oh well, at least Bill has another attack up his metaphorical sleeve when another ixodia comes, though for Bill's sake, we should hold off more ixodia battles until he gains more moves. :P

    When Lanette came in attacking, I was definitely surprised. She's a researcher, so it was as shocking as if Bill had been the one leaping from the fog, crowbar in hand. xD I love how another character with little background info is now in; you won't know what to expect from them.

    The Caravan! Eeep, the next chapter will be great, I know it. Keep up the awesome work.

    (How do you like your birthday so far, Bill? You get a nasty cliffhanger as a present. xD)

    - Kat


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  3. #103
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    It's my nan's birthday as well xP

    while Pandora was more dangerous because of her ability to be calculating, Adam was simply mindlessly destructive.
    I think you mean Abel there :P

    "Stardust Project: Subject 004, Codename Lilith," Second continued. "Point Zero recently received this transmission from her. We currently have no further information concerning Lilith or who she is."
    Someone new? Someone else named after some sort of mythology? Well this is a B-Movie fic xD

    I'm going to guess she's a Fire or Water ixodida, some elemental basic like that.


    Lanette's intro was fun. She kicks his *** with a crowbar and Bill's all like, "woah love! Calm a llama down!"

    One thing I did like about it was that Lanette, after learning about his true identity, wasn't all like, "oh noes, I must drop everything and help you!" but she had her priorities in order and told Bill like it is. 'Eff off or we make you eff off.'

    Lanette just cashed in many, many badass points on her badass rewards card.
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  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantom Kat View Post
    Happy Birthday, Bill!

    ˇFeliz cumpleańos, Bill!

    Hyvää syntymäpäivää, Bill!

    (Bill's awesome enough to be wished 'happy birthday' in three languages. ^_^)
    And you are awesome enough to do it in multiple languages. ♥

    Hehe, yes, another battle! Gotta say, I didn't expect Chansey to be so great at solo battling;
    Haha, yeah. I like the idea of Nurse Joy's Chansey secretly being able to kick tail, so this one definitely does. (Of course, it also helps that Bill really sucks at battling.)

    imagining Chansey with a mischievous grin was also a great mental image.
    Aaaaaaas it should be. ;D

    though for Bill's sake, we should hold off more ixodia battles until he gains more moves. :P
    And I'm taking this as a reader request. ;D (Oh, Bill. You are entirely too easy to abuse.)

    When Lanette came in attacking, I was definitely surprised. She's a researcher, so it was as shocking as if Bill had been the one leaping from the fog, crowbar in hand. xD I love how another character with little background info is now in; you won't know what to expect from them.
    Thank you! And yeah, which is why it's a lot of fun working with her. There's literally nothing about her except for the fact that she was a rather formal and disorganized person. (Jumpy too, if we take Special into consideration.) But I have plot in mind for her that should explain why she's not quite the Lanette some of us might know and love. *rubs hands together*

    The Caravan! Eeep, the next chapter will be great, I know it. Keep up the awesome work.
    Thank you! And I hope so. I just have to find time to sit down and start it. XD;

    (How do you like your birthday so far, Bill? You get a nasty cliffhanger as a present. xD)
    I'm sure he'd like it juuuuust fine. >

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    It's my nan's birthday as well xP
    Happy belated birthday to her~!

    I think you mean Abel there :P
    Wot? Adam is totally mindlessly destructive too. *whistles innocently and makes a note to fix it when she's not procrastinating like whoa*

    Someone new? Someone else named after some sort of mythology? Well this is a B-Movie fic xD
    Yes indeedy. ;D Also, I grin mischievously at your guesses, but I refuse to say whether or not you're close.

    Lanette's intro was fun. She kicks his *** with a crowbar and Bill's all like, "woah love! Calm a llama down!"
    This line will now be worked into the fanfic somehow. Just... Bill saying "calm a llama." That's brilliant. XD

    One thing I did like about it was that Lanette, after learning about his true identity, wasn't all like, "oh noes, I must drop everything and help you!" but she had her priorities in order and told Bill like it is. 'Eff off or we make you eff off.'

    Lanette just cashed in many, many badass points on her badass rewards card.
    Thank you! And this is why I'm looking forward to doing a lot more with her.

    Also, thanks in general to the both of your for the kind reviews! ♥

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  5. #105

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    English - Fluent
    Spanish - Native
    Finnish - Currently learning

    (So many awesome languages, so little time.)

    lol I can just imagine Chansey and Lanette kicking major tail as everybody watches in shocked silence. I've never read Special, so Lanette is completely new to me (not counting Pokemon Sapphire). It'll be fun how you portray her.

    Poor Bill, but I would love to see more hair-rising ixodia encounters...

    "Calm a llama down." xDD That's brilliant, Diddy, and YESH, it must be inserted into the fan-fic somehow.

    And you're welcome. ^^

    - Kat
    Last edited by Phantom Kat; 3rd January 2011 at 9:26 AM.


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    Happy Birthday, Bill! (even though its a week late...please forgive me)

    Lanette had less than a chapter to introduce herself, yet she made the bad*** meter skyrocket. That in itself is impressive, but noooo, she had to take down an ixodida single-handedly in the process (even though it was Bill, but that's beside the point). If that was just the beginning, then I can't wait for more!

    Now Team Rocket and this "Committee" are thrown into the mix. We probably already know what Team rocket is up to, but the Committee...their an unknown. It just screams conspiracy and raises a lot of questions. I must investigate. (launches spy satellite for answers)

    "Calm a llama down"...that's just pure genious, Diddy. XD

    Thanks to Gladeshadow for the trainer card and Felly for the Banner


    'We're casual, why should we put more EFFORT into our games and sacrifice our VALUES?' Come to the Non-Competitive Trainer's Hangout if you agree with this statement.

  7. #107
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    Review time! Sorry it took so long. First off, I have to say that I absolutely love this story.

    Also, may I be added to the PM list, please?

    One of your story's greatest aspects is its characterization, especially that of Bill and Adam, and its overall creativity in general. I love the idea of Bill's transformation and the ixodida species. Creating a parasitic Pokemon is a really unique idea. I can't say I like Lanette that much, though.

    While your villians are somewhat stereotypically evil in the respect that they don't really have many redeeming or likeable qualities, I think that in some cases that can be a good thing, the "villian we love to hate." So it's not really inherently all that bad, especially when involving science fiction - I just thought I'd let you know just in case. ^^ I'm only referring to Team Rocket here - Adam is just excellently portrayed as parasitical but not necessarily a terrible, malicious creature, so good job with that. I actually find him to be very interesting.

    A few plot elements were unclear - I wasn't entirely sure if it was only Team Rocket who wanted to test the ixodida on humans and why exactly it was manufactured in the first place. Then again, maybe I missed something.

    Other than that...the story was captivating and exciting, with plenty of character development for Bill, who is a very likeable character (although a bit...lacking in battling abilities!) I'm really excited to see how the plot progresses.

        Spoiler:- Minor errors and the like:

    As for scenes I really liked:
        Spoiler:- :D:


    So overall, nice job creating an original and exciting story! I'm excited to read Chapter 15.
    Last edited by GastlyMan; 13th January 2011 at 12:44 AM.
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  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantom Kat View Post
    English - Fluent
    Spanish - Native
    Finnish - Currently learning :)
    Okay, this officially makes you awesome. Tell me how the Finnish goes as well; I've been meaning to learn myself. :D

    lol I can just imagine Chansey and Lanette kicking major tail as everybody watches in shocked silence. I've never read Special, so Lanette is completely new to me (not counting Pokemon Sapphire). It'll be fun how you portray her.
    Thank you! Also, it's probably a good thing you've never read Special in this case. I've only read parts of it, so I only vaguely know what she's like there. XD; This particular portrayal is just a mashup of the game and me pulling crap out of my rear.

    Poor Bill, but I would love to see more hair-rising ixodia encounters...
    And more hair-raising ixodida encounters you shall get~! >:D

    Quote Originally Posted by Cryptic Blaze View Post
    Happy Birthday, Bill! (even though its a week late...please forgive me)
    XD I'm sure he wouldn't mind if he was real. (In fact, I get the feeling he wouldn't even realize he turned a year older until someone pointed it out to him maybe days down the line, too.)

    Lanette had less than a chapter to introduce herself, yet she made the bad*** meter skyrocket. That in itself is impressive, but noooo, she had to take down an ixodida single-handedly in the process (even though it was Bill, but that's beside the point). If that was just the beginning, then I can't wait for more!
    *le bow*

    And don't worry, she won't be this much of a *****... after, I don't know. Several chapters.

    I do have to say it's a lot of fun to write her like this, though. I've been so used to seeing her as a reserved young lady, so it's nice to see her pull a Buffy on other characters.

    but the Committee...their an unknown. It just screams conspiracy and raises a lot of questions. I must investigate. (launches spy satellite for answers)
    *evil grin* Oh, I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that there is a cabal.

    Thanks for the review~!

    Quote Originally Posted by GastlyMan View Post
    Review time! :D Sorry it took so long.
    Totally all right. Sorry it's taking me so long to get to yours. ^_^;

    Also, may I be added to the PM list, please? :)
    Certainly! Thank you for the compliment as well. :D

    Creating a parasitic Pokemon is a really unique idea.
    Thank you! I have to admit I'm surprised there aren't more fakemon that are like that. They're prime fic material, and there's an insane amount of different species of parasites out there. Basically, it's like if you can think of it, there's either a parasitic form of it or a parasite that infects it.

    Short of it is, biology rocks, guys.

    I can't say I like Lanette that much, though.
    Totally okay. XD I have to admit she's a bit of a *****, so I'm not particularly surprised not everyone thinks she's awesome. On the downside, she's probably going to be a ***** for the next few chapters. In fact, I've got a plan for literally the next chapter that makes Nettle's level of obnoxiousness seem like a streak of Girl Scout-brand sweetness. (Aaaand I apologize in advance for that. *whistles innocently*)

    While your villians are somewhat stereotypically evil in the respect that they don't really have many redeeming or likeable qualities, I think that in some cases that can be a good thing, the "villian we love to hate." So it's not really inherently all that bad, especially when involving science fiction - I just thought I'd let you know just in case. ^^ I'm only referring to Team Rocket here -
    Oh, good! This was actually exactly what I was trying to get across. I mean, I know it's usually frowned upon to play with stereotypes, but I just couldn't resist. A lot of this fic is meant to be read like the novelization of a campy sci-fi flick (although as of late, I've somehow managed to create scenes where the fic actually comes off as serious business instead), and on top of that, I honestly didn't want to go with the kind of portrayal a lot of other fic authors tend to use for Team Rocket. (Y'know, the dark and violent kind.) What I wanted to do with them was basically to portray them as the evil but still pretty fluffy kind of organization that you see in the anime, which is the canon I'm working with mostly. (Using the anime's had a very nice unintended side effect, though: while I've got a lot of characters who came from a bright and not-particularly-violent world, they end up being a nice contrast to the kinds of horrors the ixodida provide just by existing. In other words, the campy and evil Team Rocket? Totally made this even more fun than it would have been otherwise. For me, at least.)

    Adam is just excellently portrayed as parasitical but not necessarily a terrible, malicious creature, so good job with that. I actually find him to be very interesting.
    Thank you! :D I'm glad you do because you'll be seeing a lot more of him -- trust me on that one.

    A few plot elements were unclear - I wasn't entirely sure if it was only Team Rocket who wanted to test the ixodida on humans and why exactly it was manufactured in the first place. Then again, maybe I missed something.
    Good question here.
        Spoiler:- And it deserves a lengthy answer. XD:


    Other than that...the story was captivating and exciting, with plenty of character development for Bill, who is a very likeable character (although a bit...lacking in battling abilities!) I'm really excited to see how the plot progresses.
    Thank you! I hope I'll meet your expectations! :D

    Also, yeah to Bill's battling abilities. XD You can blame that one on game canon.

    Minor grammatical slipup. I would remedy the emboldened phrase as "...and the screams of dying pokémon farther north."

    Minor discrepancy between "further" and "farther" here. "Farther" implies tangible distance, while "further" represents distance that is intangible - in sentences such as "We need to make further progress on that project," as opposed to "He threw the ball farther than he had ever thrown it before." The latter implies actual, physical distance.
    Thanks very much! I have a tendency to leave out or skim over minor words. Pretty much the way the brain processes things, you know?

    As for further/farther, I'm a little embarrassed to note that I never realized that. (Little embarrassed because usually, I make a point to memorize things like this.) I'll have to keep that in mind, and thanks so much for the examples to go right along with it.

    (I do have to say, also, that I looked it up because you said you weren't sure, and what you said is absolutely true, looks like. So, there you go!)

    You posted the same passage two times in a row.
    Hmm. I'm not sure how I managed to do that, but I get the feeling it just happened during one of my edit sprees -- a pasting instead of a replacing, basically. Sorry about that. ._.

    I believe you meant "Abel."
    Yeah. XD; I haven't had a chance to change it yet, but Diddy and I had momentary lulz over it.

    That...sounded really cool for some reason. :D
    Thank you! :D And that's just me working in every bit of canon that I can. Oh, Bill. You are full of so many potential Chekhov's Skills.

    Urgh...loopholes. Sounds like this isn't gonna end well...
    It most certainly won't, but you'll find out what I mean by that later. ;D

    So overall, nice job creating an original and exciting story! I'm excited to read Chapter 15. :D
    Thank you again! And pfft to your comment in that PM about not being able to review well. Maybe I'm just used to one-liners everywhere else I've gone, but it seems like you and Serebii people in general are some of the best reviewers I've encountered. So, I do mean it when I say thanks to all of you. ♥

    You also won't have to wait long for that fifteenth chapter. It's done, which means it'll probably be up tomorrow. :D
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 14th January 2011 at 3:07 AM.

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  9. #109
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    And sure enough, hi, guys! Update time!

    As a note, still procrastinating on the edit spree. There's a few things I want to polish up anyway, so hopefully, I'll sit down and fix up everything soon. ...If, you know, I don't just get distracted by, "LOL, BILL GETTING SCREWED OVER THREE DIFFERENT WAYS IN CHAPTER SIXTEEEEEEN~!"

    But anyway.



    Anima Ex Machina: Fifteen
    A storm is coming.


    When the quarantine came down on Hoenn, the Japanese government didn't count heads. It was too much in a rush, too preoccupied to realize that there were hundreds upon hundreds of people who never got off the island by the time the restrictions on the ferries and planes were announced. The people of Hoenn already knew about the threat of the ixodida, of the red parasites that traveled in waves to consume every pokémon in their path and of the humanoid beasts that slaughtered humans for no apparent reason. Some people even watched it happen with their own eyes. Once the news broke out within the region about the alien creatures, the public naturally panicked. Riots broke out in Slateport and Lilycove as citizens became desperate to leave the island as soon as possible. More people died in the rush than in the ixodida attacks, yet the increasing number of disappearances in the heart of Hoenn made the crushing crowds at its port cities preferable to waiting in the wild.

    The Japanese government knew about the stampedes, but there was nothing they could do. Each city could only hold so many ferries, the airports could only field so many air crafts, and the military helicopters could only lift so many people out of the region. At the same time, the ixodida sightings steadily increased, and the military feared that they couldn't repel the alien swarms as quickly as they appeared.

    They hadn't even thought of the quarantine for this reason. If everything was going exactly as they were in the months after the news broke out, the government would have simply continued and evacuation until the entire region was uninhabited. Instead, something else occurred that no one could have predicted, something that completely changed the game: the St. Lucia Incident.

    Ferries from Slateport City carried Hoenn residents to two places besides interregional transport: Pacifidlog Town and Dewford Town. Besides Mossdeep, Ever Grande, and Sootopolis, those were the largest settlements outside of mainland Hoenn, so they were deemed safe areas by the government – safe havens where the region's citizens who had nowhere else to go could relocate until the military stabilized the mainland. However, only a few months after the evacuation began, one of the trainers, one who had traveled from Fortree after learning that his home had been annihilated, carried with him a seemingly innocuous backpack. Inside, it held the usual supplies for a trainer: food, water, his pokémon... and an ixodida parasite.

    He wasn't aware that it was there, of course; he couldn't begin to guess when it might have crawled inside. Of course, he would never have time to guess. The parasite fed off his food supply without him knowing, and at the bottom of his pack, it laid eggs.

    One could only come to the logical conclusion from this.

    The ferry, known as the St. Lucia, went down in history the day that single trainer opened his backpack. A sea of parasites erupted from within it; he was the first to be infected. Thirty-seven other passengers fell victim, and the captain, a small portion of his crew, and several terrified civilians barricaded themselves in the control room. This small band of survivors lasted for two weeks on whatever supplies they shared between them while outside, an ixodida army began forming. The captain kept in contact with the military through the radio, and although he and the others could see part of the NDF's naval fleet outside their window by the third day, no help for them arrived.

    At the end of the second week, as supplies gave out, as several of the survivors descended into insanity, and as the fully-formed ixodida began pounding on the doors, the remaining sane members of the tiny band said their goodbyes and asked the NDF for relief.

    The St. Lucia took a torpedo to the side of her hull and sank a safe distance from Dewford Town. 400 civilians, twenty crew members, 387 infected, zero survivors. This single sinking was considered the worst maritime disaster in Hoenn's history, and the details surrounding it were instantly classified.

    After the event, thereafter known as the St. Lucia Incident, the government realized that no ferry could be safe without vigorous security measures. For this reason, the quarantine fell. No one within the region could leave the island without being checked at the militarized Slateport or Lilycove. This meant days of quarantine as units checked every passenger thoroughly. Ferries were strictly organized, and everything going into and out of the region was categorized. There were still hundreds upon hundreds of people stranded in the heart of Hoenn, and the ability to leave was suddenly reserved for the very few.

    That's why the Caravan began. In Rustboro, a group of survivors led by the former sailor known as Mr. Briney realized that no one official was about to help the last remnants of the region, so they gathered everything they could. Buses, trucks, cars – all filled with clothes, tents, medical supplies, and people who knew how to use them. Their goal: to collect as many survivors as possible, defend them from the ixodida invasion, and deliver them, if they met government standards, to any of the military bases around Hoenn. Some of them would be carried to safety. Others were assimilated into the Caravan's army to help defend the rapidly expanding mobile settlement.

    They found Lanette Chastain not at Fallarbor Town, as she usually was before the quarantine. Rather, she was several miles to the east, closer to Fortree. With the Hoenn League virtually frozen at the height of the evacuation, Lanette's storage system was shut down, and most pokémon were distributed among Japan's other regional networks. Lanette herself was summoned with her sister, Brigette, to a place called Point Zero. Their mission: to investigate the strange pokémon that had appeared around the area.

    Unfortunately, the Chastain sisters never made it.

    Lanette never spoke about what happened west of Fortree during that time, and even months later, she couldn't recall how long she spent in the wilderness. Either way, the Caravan found her dehydrated, half-starved, delirious, alone, and covered in blood. Strangely, she wasn't infected.

    It took her a week to recover physically, and once she was physically stable, she regained her sanity slowly but surely. Nonetheless, she never recovered from whatever happened those weeks ago. She was cold, distant, and most of all, intent on eradicating every ixodida she saw. The Caravan accepted her as part of its own military force, and she quickly climbed the loose ranks it developed until she became Briney's right-hand woman. Within the Caravan, they knew her as their strongest warrior and most brilliant adviser. Whatever she said, the others listened to her every word. Whatever she did, the others followed. They trusted her to protect them, and she never let them down.

    That was why, when she landed at the Caravan's camp on the outskirts of Mauville, members of the Caravan immediately took notice of the expression on her face. She strode forward in the usual manner: straight-backed, head held high, a small frown on her lips. Yet, there was something else in her red eyes, a glint of an emotion no one had ever seen from her. Or perhaps it was the fact that her face was just a little paler than usual that tipped people off.

    Whatever it was, as soon as she strode towards the center of the camp with Altaria in tow, a young, green-haired man looked up and started forward, his smile fading as he looked carefully at her expression.

    "Vito," Lanette said firmly, "it's clean. Spread the word to have everyone pack and move out."

    Her companion hesitated. She eyed him with a cold glance.

    "Well?" she asked.

    "Lanette, you..." Vito tilted his head. "What did you find?"

    She bowed her head. Of course, she thought of Bill, the familiar face attached to an alien body. She had been thinking about it since the moment she left him standing on the streets. He thought like a human. That was the Bill she had always known. Yet, he was an ixodida. The rules were strict about his kind.

    So, she would just have to deal with him herself. It would be cleaner that way. No fuss.

    A hand wrapped around her wrist. She yanked her arm towards her chest and lashed her hand towards the neck of her would-be attacker. Vito instinctively tilted his chin back, allowing Lanette's fingers to brush his skin. The researcher stopped there, relaxing as soon as she realized who had just touched her. Her hand dropped to her side, and she turned her eyes away from the trainer. Vito watched her movements for a few seconds. Then, he moved forward and wrapped his arms around her. She didn't reciprocate, opting instead to leave her arms limp at her sides with her hands clenched into fists.

    "Something's wrong in that city, isn't there?" Vito asked.

    "Nothing dangerous," Lanette admitted. "There is a small colony of human and pokémon survivors located at the center of the city. The ones I was able to spot look ready to travel. We should have enough room on one of the buses for the majority of them, but the city is otherwise empty. If we need further supplies or transportation, we have a large selection."

    "No ixodida?"

    "No." Lanette's answer was quick and firm, even though her eyes narrowed a little at the lie.

    Vito held her a little closer. "Lanette... you know if you need anything, you can tell me, right?"

    Lanette's body went slack just a tiny bit. Her normally stiff and straight posture slouched slightly, and her fists loosened until her fingers dangled at her sides.

    "Where is Hope?" she asked.

    "Where she always is," Vito told her. "On the school bus. Julie's looking after her."

    "Good," Lanette responded. "When we stop in Mauville, I want her to stay there. Have Julie watch her closely."

    Vito pulled away from her, resting his hands on her shoulders. "You know she doesn't get off the bus anyway. Why would you need anyone to keep an eye on her?"

    "Just make sure it's done," Lanette replied.

    She pulled away from Vito, keeping her eyes on the camp in front of her. Her hand rose in a small motion, and Altaria fluttered to her side. Vito lifted one of his own hands, intending on grabbing her shoulder one more time. Instead, Lanette cut him off before he could say a word.

    "Now, notify the rest of the Caravan that we're moving," Lanette ordered. "We should arrive at the Mauville Pokémon Center before nightfall so the scavenger party can get to work safely."

    Vito lowered his hand. Although he wanted to say something more, instead, his voice uttered two words softly, almost beyond his control.

    "Yes, ma'am."

    ---

    In the middle of a field just north of Slateport City, a black helicopter lifted off and rose quickly into the blue sky. The wind from its blades made the sea of grass dance violently, but the two people standing beside a black jeep nearby hardly felt phased. Neither of them moved until the helicopter was well out of sight, when the wind died down into a calm, warm breeze.

    The older of the two was the first to pull her eyes away from the sky. She scoffed and turned, the hem of her silver long coat whipping around her legs so hard that the stiff material smacked the white leather of her boots. A brown bag slipped off her shoulder as she opened the door to the passenger side of the jeep and sat down. Her blonde companion looked towards her and watched her pull out a black laptop.

    "What are you doing?" 009 asked.

    "Getting to work," Professor Nettle replied.

    She opened the laptop and waited for the screen to flare to life. As soon as it did, it revealed that she already had a program open: a map of Hoenn with a single red dot on its face. There was no other information save for a set of numbers in the top right-hand corner.

    "We need to go to these coordinates," she said.

    "Hold on," 009 snapped. "Just what is that, and why do we need to go there? Giovanni ordered us to capture an XP-650, not go sightseeing."

    Nettle glared at her. "If you would get it through that simple mind of yours to wait, I would be happy to explain."

    009 opened the door on the driver's side and slid onto the seat. Slamming the door behind her, she turned and waited for Nettle to say something.

    "Well?" she asked. "What is it?"

    Nettle smirked. "While you were busy attempting to order me around in Polaris Institute, I took the liberty of attaching a small tracking device to McKenzie during his transformation. No matter where he goes on this island, I'll know exactly where he is so long as the device is still transmitting. And because Giovanni explicitly told us to capture him..."

    009 reeled back. Her hand slipped under her hat and pulled free the key to the jeep. As she pushed it into the ignition, she couldn't help but smile.

    "For once, Professor Nettle, I have to compliment you on your genius. I suppose you have a plan for what to do once we find him?"

    "Of course."

    Nettle reached into her bag for a second object. 009 looked towards her just in time to be presented with an object the size of a ping-pong ball. With a click of a button on its face, Nettle expanded it to reveal a purple and silver poké ball. Two pink bubbles protruded out of its violet hemisphere, and a silver M was etched between them.

    "You plan to capture him with a poké ball?" 009 muttered.

    "Not just any ordinary poké ball," Nettle answered. "You wouldn't know what this is, would you? Allow me to enlighten you. The Silph Company has always been a close partner of the Pokémon Symposium. Our finest members have been employees of Silph, and Silph frequently designs tools for Symposium scientists. Several years ago, Silph sent the Symposium's top researchers these: special poké balls meant for only the most powerful pokémon. I've kept it since then to wait for the perfect opportunity to use it. I believe now would be that time."

    She reached over to 009 and pulled one of the girl's wrists towards her with one hand. The other placed the ball in 009's palm. Once she was released, 009 pulled the ball close and examined it with scrutinizing eyes.

    "Take this," Nettle said. "Your stealth and battling skills will enable you to use it on McKenzie when he least expects it. I would myself, but I doubt he would allow me to come anywhere near him."

    009 moved her eyes to her partner. "I still don't get it. What's so special about this ball?"

    "That," Nettle replied, "is the Master Ball. It has the ability to capture absolutely any pokémon without fail."

    ---

    To the east of Mauville City, the warm breeze characteristic of Hoenn burst into a gust of cold wind. The water in the river that divided Hoenn neatly in half churned, and its blue surface rose into white peaks. Just beneath the waves, a magikarp swam lazily, its blank stare on the waves above it. Because of its own distraction, it didn't see the four carvanha darting out of the dark depths of the river.

    The only warning it received was a flash of red and blue just at the edge of its peripheral vision, but by the time it twisted itself to look at its attackers, four pairs of jaws sank their teeth into its sides. It cried out and lashed its tail from side to side in the closest thing to an attack it knew, but in response to the Splash attack, the carvanha simply ripped away from the carp. At once, the magikarp stopped struggling and turned until it floated belly up on the surface of the water. Its gills pumped frantically as its mouth flapped, taking in gulps of water it didn't process. All around it, the river began to turn pinkish red from the spurts coming from the four deep wounds in its sides.

    Each of the four carvanha swallowed its own mouthful and glanced at the rest of its group. They twitched their tails in preparation for another attack. The fish darted towards the magikarp, jaws open and ready for another bite.

    Right before they sank their teeth into their prey, three pairs of claws lashed into the churning water to grab most of the school. The last one stopped just before striking. Its eyes focused on three blurry objects just above the surface as it backed away. Then, it turned and darted into the darkness, leaving both its hunting party and the dying magikarp behind.

    Above the water, three white ixodida hovered. Snowy, bird-like wings extended from their backs and flapped at regular intervals to generate bursts of wind. Each gust played with the white feathers covering their bodies and the long, white hair that cascaded from their heads. Golden claws on their feet brushed the surface of the water, and the matching set on their fingers clutched the fish in their hands. Their tails, each ending in a blunt tip, wagged happily as they brought their catches to their mouths. The carvanha screeched and lashed as the harpies' lips parted to reveal long, sharp fangs. Then, before the fish could slip away, the bird-women bit down into their prey, fangs sinking deep into flesh.

    Almost immediately, the fish fell silent and still.

    The harpies ate in peace for awhile, consuming every last scrap of the fish – bones, rough scales, and everything else. After a few minutes, they paused as a new gust of wind blew over them. Their heads turned towards the sky to see another feathered ixodida stare steadily at them with a pair of black eyes. As he watched them, his long tail swung beneath him, its arrowhead tip cutting through thin air. Upon spotting him, each of the harpies dropped the remnants of their fish and bowed their heads low in respect.

    "I have a task for you three," he said.

    Craning his neck, he glanced towards the horizon. The three birds lifted their heads and turned to see the skyline of a city not far away.

    "Within that human settlement, there is one of our own," the male told them. "I want the three of you to go there and find him. If he is a member of the Iron Clan, use any means necessary to bring him to me. Is that understood?"

    The three harpies swiveled their heads towards him and screeched. Their wings extended, and with a flap, they ascended until they floated above him.

    "Good," he said. "Go quickly before we lose him."

    All three of them opened their mouths for a second screech as they twisted themselves in mid air. Before long, they shot towards the city, putting as much distance between their superior and themselves as possible.

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  10. #110

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    the government would have simply continued and evacuation until the entire region was uninhabited.
    Should be "the".

    D: No Bill in this chapter, but it was still a good read. So much information to take in. Man, that St. Lucia Incident sounded awful, and it sounds like Lanette had a tough time during that mission gone wrong. I hope she doesn't take it out on Bill. :>

    Oh my gosh, the ending of the Nettle and 009 scene left me on the edge of my seat. I had never thought of catching an ixodia like a Pokemon, but it does make sense. My mind's running with all the possibilities of this, but I guess I gotta wait and see what happens.

    As to what that last scene was about, well that just adds more suspense to the ixodia side of the plot. Poor Bill, everybody wants to screw him over. SO can't wait for the next chapter. xD

    Awesome job on the chapter. It had the perfect amount of background info and plot development to keep me hooked and to set up the next chapter. ^^

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    Okie-dokie *rubs hands together*

    When the quarantine came down on Hoenn, the Japanese government didn't count heads.
    Japanese government? Easy to explain, nothing wrong with it, just thought it was a bit odd. I know the anime and games reference real-world every now and then but you don't see it as often in fics. Then there are some people who reference real-world all the damn time. I'm looking at you DarkPersian479 xP

    Lanette earns more points for being temporarily insane. I like my women edgy


    Okaaaaaay.

    The St. Lucia Incident. It was...

    -Chilling
    -Well paced
    -A blend of information giving and prose which worked well

    Whereas this list was a pathetic attempt to make this review look a little longer than it actually is.

    Team Rocket are no longer one-time baddies. Yay! They're (well Black Tulip and Prof. Nettle anyway) back and they have an evil (are there any other kinds?) plan which involves Bill and a Master Ball. I lol'd.

    Harpies. Need I say more? Greek Mythology references FTW!
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    Aw man, Bridgette's gone and Lanette's a warrior. Dark times.

    Finally commenting on this story; I will agree, I think you have taken a serious turn. Or it could just be that it is much easier to distinguish the heartfelt from cheese in film than in writing. I hear committee and think "Okay, should this encourage me, or do we have Team Rocket and a group taking managerial cues from the Umbrella Corporation working simultaneously?"

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    "That," Nettle replied, "is the Master Ball. It has the ability to capture absolutely any pokémon without fail."
    Shiz. Just. Got. Real.

    (Whether or not it actually works.)

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Ferries from Slateport City carried Hoenn residents to two places besides interregional transport: Pacifidlog Town and Dewford Town. Besides Mossdeep, Ever Grande, and Sootopolis, those were the largest settlements outside of mainland Hoenn, so they were deemed safe areas by the government – safe havens where the region's citizens who had nowhere else to go could relocate until the military stabilized the mainland. However, only a few months after the evacuation began, one of the trainers, one who had traveled from Fortree after learning that his home had been annihilated, carried with him a seemingly innocuous backpack. Inside, it held the usual supplies for a trainer: food, water, his pokémon... and an ixodida parasite.

    He wasn't aware that it was there, of course; he couldn't begin to guess when it might have crawled inside. Of course, he would never have time to guess. The parasite fed off his food supply without him knowing, and at the bottom of his pack, it laid eggs.
    Ouch, way to attack the heart of Pokemon. Can't say I can expect anything less from a parasite that eats the darn things.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post

    One could only come to the logical conclusion from this.

    The ferry, known as the St. Lucia, went down in history the day that single trainer opened his backpack. A sea of parasites erupted from within it; he was the first to be infected. Thirty-seven other passengers fell victim, and the captain, a small portion of his crew, and several terrified civilians barricaded themselves in the control room. This small band of survivors lasted for two weeks on whatever supplies they shared between them while outside, an ixodida army began forming. The captain kept in contact with the military through the radio, and although he and the others could see part of the NDF's naval fleet outside their window by the third day, no help for them arrived.

    At the end of the second week, as supplies gave out, as several of the survivors descended into insanity, and as the fully-formed ixodida began pounding on the doors, the remaining sane members of the tiny band said their goodbyes and asked the NDF for relief.

    The St. Lucia took a torpedo to the side of her hull and sank a safe distance from Dewford Town. 400 civilians, twenty crew members, 387 infected, zero survivors. This single sinking was considered the worst maritime disaster in Hoenn's history, and the details surrounding it were instantly classified.
    So ixodida can drown? That's a relief. Oh, and ugggh. At least the government is trying to adapt; normally it's already over by the time they realize what's going on. Of course, it's also more realistic.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantom Kat View Post
    Should be "the".
    How did I manage to do that? O.o *adds this to her list of future fixes*

    D: No Bill in this chapter, but it was still a good read.
    Thank you! And I'm glad it wasn't too much to take in. I was afraid the first part would be especially info-dumpy.

    and it sounds like Lanette had a tough time during that mission gone wrong. I hope she doesn't take it out on Bill. :>
    But she totally will. XD Oh yes. She definitely did, and you'll learn more about the poor girl's hard luck later.

    Oh my gosh, the ending of the Nettle and 009 scene left me on the edge of my seat. I had never thought of catching an ixodia like a Pokemon, but it does make sense. My mind's running with all the possibilities of this, but I guess I gotta wait and see what happens.
    All kinds of terrible, terrible things involving D/s. ;D *shot repeatedly*

    As to what that last scene was about, well that just adds more suspense to the ixodia side of the plot. Poor Bill, everybody wants to screw him over.
    In canon and out of it! My theory is that he was born lucky, so Fate, Destiny, and Whathaveyou have decided to make him their unofficial plaything/buttmonkey for the rest of his life.

    (This may or may not be part of my actual headcanon.)

    Awesome job on the chapter. It had the perfect amount of background info and plot development to keep me hooked and to set up the next chapter. ^^
    Thank you! I hope I don't end up making you wait long!

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    Japanese government? Easy to explain, nothing wrong with it, just thought it was a bit odd. I know the anime and games reference real-world every now and then but you don't see it as often in fics.
    Oh yeah. It's probably because a lot of fans like to consider the Pokémon world as being completely separate, even as far as saying that Kanto and others are countries/continents unto themselves and not just parts of a larger country. I'm totally all right with that, of course, 'cause it's all different interpretations and whatnot. I just like world-building like crazy. (I've even written multiple essays on my headcanon for the Pokémon world as a whole. 'Cause I'm crazy like that.)

    Then there are some people who reference real-world all the damn time. I'm looking at you DarkPersian479 xP
    I really need to sit down and read DarkPersian's work. I've heard it's awesome; I've just never gotten a chance to get to it.

    Lanette earns more points for being temporarily insane. I like my women edgy
    On the part about Lanette: Pfft. Temporarily? ;D

    On the part about women: ORLY?

    The St. Lucia Incident. It was...

    -Chilling
    -Well paced
    -A blend of information giving and prose which worked well

    Whereas this list was a pathetic attempt to make this review look a little longer than it actually is.
    XD Could be worse. I mean, there was a review here earlier today that was advertising car dearlerships. Idk.

    But seriously, thanks! As I've said above, I was a little worried that it was too info-dumpy, so I'm glad a lot of people are cool with it.

    Team Rocket are no longer one-time baddies. Yay!
    It just wouldn't be Team Rocket if they didn't turn into a Goldfish Poop Gang, amirite?

    Harpies. Need I say more? Greek Mythology references FTW!
    INORITE? Greek mythology has some of the best creatures ever. (I'm totally making a siren-like ixodida.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinsirius View Post
    Aw man, Bridgette's gone and Lanette's a warrior. Dark times.
    Amen there. But thanks to you, I now have the mental image of Lanette as Xena. I don't entirely object to this.

    I hear committee and think "Okay, should this encourage me, or do we have Team Rocket and a group taking managerial cues from the Umbrella Corporation working simultaneously?"
    PRETTY MUCH.

    I mean, uh, totally... not. I'm... totally more creative than that. >_> <_<

    So ixodida can drown? That's a relief.
    Most of them, anyway. ;D

    Oh, and ugggh. At least the government is trying to adapt; normally it's already over by the time they realize what's going on. Of course, it's also more realistic.
    Thank you! And thank you all over for the review as well! ♥

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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Oh yeah. It's probably because a lot of fans like to consider the Pokémon world as being completely separate, even as far as saying that Kanto and others are countries/continents unto themselves and not just parts of a larger country. I'm totally all right with that, of course, 'cause it's all different interpretations and whatnot. I just like world-building like crazy. (I've even written multiple essays on my headcanon for the Pokémon world as a whole. 'Cause I'm crazy like that.)
    I actually love stuff like that. I remember Purple Drake did something it might have been an epic essay reply to when I reviewed one of her fics, she had this massive explanation about how the world worked, and it was pretty awesome.

    I shall henceforth read said essays :P

    I really need to sit down and read DarkPersian's work. I've heard it's awesome; I've just never gotten a chance to get to it.
    Lurking in the Shadows is brilliant, I was a reader way back during the first iteration, kinda lost my way a bit but when the second, revised version came around I stuck with it till the end. Well worth it.

    On the part about Lanette: Pfft. Temporarily? ;D

    On the part about women: ORLY?
    Not temporarily?

    ...Yes RLY. I once dated a girl almost solely because she "had issues". Needless to say, it wasn't exactly the greatest relationship ever. Masochism ftw, right?

    XD Could be worse. I mean, there was a review here earlier today that was advertising car dearlerships. Idk.

    But seriously, thanks! As I've said above, I was a little worried that it was too info-dumpy, so I'm glad a lot of people are cool with it.
    Speaking of car dealerships, Lurking in the Shadows is full of car facts and figures, not to mention epic math battles and all the quality inn information you could want or need. I actually remember writing a fic, the main character goes to a hotel and I pm'd them asking them what you could expect from your generic hotel room, seeing as I didn't have much expertise on the matter xD

    It was good info-dumpy. If it was a movie, I could imagine it being in the form of a news report or flashback.

    INORITE? Greek mythology has some of the best creatures ever. (I'm totally making a siren-like ixodida.)
    What about an Ophiotaurus, a half cow/bull seal thing. Maybe that wouldn't work :P The Greeks had an obsession with splicing animals together.

    Reading Percy Jackson kinda rekindled the fascination I had with greek mythology as a kid. I remember, I was in Year 1 (the 5-6 year old class) and we were doing greek mythology as our history lessons, and my little fold out story book of Persephone eating pomegranates and being forced to stay in the underworld was so good, I got a gold star.

    In the Percy Jackson books it makes me laugh how Demeter (Persephones Mother and henceforth Hades' Mother-In-Law) is asking her why she couldn't have married someone better like the god of doctors or lawyers.

    Ah well, I'll leave you alone now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Anima Ex Machina: Fifteen
    A storm is coming.


    When the quarantine came down on Hoenn, the Japanese government didn't count heads. It was too much in a rush, too preoccupied to realize that there were hundreds upon hundreds of people who never got off the island by the time the restrictions on the ferries and planes were announced. The people of Hoenn already knew about the threat of the ixodida, of the red parasites that traveled in waves to consume every pokémon in their path and of the humanoid beasts that slaughtered humans for no apparent reason. Some people even watched it happen with their own eyes. Once the news broke out within the region about the alien creatures, the public naturally panicked. Riots broke out in Slateport and Lilycove as citizens became desperate to leave the island as soon as possible. More people died in the rush than in the ixodida attacks, yet the increasing number of disappearances in the heart of Hoenn made the crushing crowds at its port cities preferable to waiting in the wild.

    The Japanese government knew about the stampedes, but there was nothing they could do. Each city could only hold so many ferries, the airports could only field so many air crafts, and the military helicopters could only lift so many people out of the region. At the same time, the ixodida sightings steadily increased, and the military feared that they couldn't repel the alien swarms as quickly as they appeared.
    Two things about this. One, I think the information that more people died in the initial rush to escape the Ixodida than in their attack itself is something quite interesting to know, and something I find very realistic and believable.

    Two, the Japanese government? If this is sent on the real-life planet Earth (operating under the theory that the regions are simply extra continents) that raises some very... peculiar questions that complicate things, I think.

    They hadn't even thought of the quarantine for this reason. If everything was going exactly as they were in the months after the news broke out, the government would have simply continued and evacuation until the entire region was uninhabited. Instead, something else occurred that no one could have predicted, something that completely changed the game: the St. Lucia Incident.
    Wait, I'm confused. The wording of the first segment implied that the quarantine was already in place, but now they hadn't thought of it?

    Ferries from Slateport City carried Hoenn residents to two places besides interregional transport: Pacifidlog Town and Dewford Town. Besides Mossdeep, Ever Grande, and Sootopolis, those were the largest settlements outside of mainland Hoenn, so they were deemed safe areas by the government – safe havens where the region's citizens who had nowhere else to go could relocate until the military stabilized the mainland. However, only a few months after the evacuation began, one of the trainers, one who had traveled from Fortree after learning that his home had been annihilated, carried with him a seemingly innocuous backpack. Inside, it held the usual supplies for a trainer: food, water, his pokémon... and an ixodida parasite.

    He wasn't aware that it was there, of course; he couldn't begin to guess when it might have crawled inside. Of course, he would never have time to guess. The parasite fed off his food supply without him knowing, and at the bottom of his pack, it laid eggs.

    One could only come to the logical conclusion from this.

    The ferry, known as the St. Lucia, went down in history the day that single trainer opened his backpack. A sea of parasites erupted from within it; he was the first to be infected. Thirty-seven other passengers fell victim, and the captain, a small portion of his crew, and several terrified civilians barricaded themselves in the control room. This small band of survivors lasted for two weeks on whatever supplies they shared between them while outside, an ixodida army began forming. The captain kept in contact with the military through the radio, and although he and the others could see part of the NDF's naval fleet outside their window by the third day, no help for them arrived.

    At the end of the second week, as supplies gave out, as several of the survivors descended into insanity, and as the fully-formed ixodida began pounding on the doors, the remaining sane members of the tiny band said their goodbyes and asked the NDF for relief.

    The St. Lucia took a torpedo to the side of her hull and sank a safe distance from Dewford Town. 400 civilians, twenty crew members, 387 infected, zero survivors. This single sinking was considered the worst maritime disaster in Hoenn's history, and the details surrounding it were instantly classified.
    Excellent disaster narrative; this alone would make a fine survival horror film. Although, it seems odd that such a major incident could easily be classified.

    Is the St. Lucia the Abandoned Ship between Dewford and Slateport?

    They found Lanette Chastain not at Fallarbor Town, as she usually was before the quarantine. Rather, she was several miles to the east, closer to Fortree. With the Hoenn League virtually frozen at the height of the evacuation, Lanette's storage system was shut down, and most pokémon were distributed among Japan's other regional networks. Lanette herself was summoned with her sister, Brigette, to a place called Point Zero. Their mission: to investigate the strange pokémon that had appeared around the area.

    Unfortunately, the Chastain sisters never made it.

    Lanette never spoke about what happened west of Fortree during that time, and even months later, she couldn't recall how long she spent in the wilderness. Either way, the Caravan found her dehydrated, half-starved, delirious, alone, and covered in blood. Strangely, she wasn't infected.
    I'm not totally buying this part at face value. I've learned this much from watching too many creature movies - if something is obviously what it seems, it's not. Something else happened here.


    In the middle of a field just north of Slateport City, a black helicopter lifted off and rose quickly into the blue sky. The wind from its blades made the sea of grass dance violently, but the two people standing beside a black jeep nearby hardly felt phased. Neither of them moved until the helicopter was well out of sight, when the wind died down into a calm, warm breeze.

    The older of the two was the first to pull her eyes away from the sky. She scoffed and turned, the hem of her silver long coat whipping around her legs so hard that the stiff material smacked the white leather of her boots. A brown bag slipped off her shoulder as she opened the door to the passenger side of the jeep and sat down. Her blonde companion looked towards her and watched her pull out a black laptop.

    "What are you doing?" 009 asked.

    "Getting to work," Professor Nettle replied.
    THEY'RE BACK. I knew these two and their gang weren't through yet.

    "For once, Professor Nettle, I have to compliment you on your genius. I suppose you have a plan for what to do once we find him?"

    "Of course."

    Nettle reached into her bag for a second object. 009 looked towards her just in time to be presented with an object the size of a ping-pong ball. With a click of a button on its face, Nettle expanded it to reveal a purple and silver poké ball. Two pink bubbles protruded out of its violet hemisphere, and a silver M was etched between them.

    "You plan to capture him with a poké ball?" 009 muttered.

    "Not just any ordinary poké ball," Nettle answered. "You wouldn't know what this is, would you? Allow me to enlighten you. The Silph Company has always been a close partner of the Pokémon Symposium. Our finest members have been employees of Silph, and Silph frequently designs tools for Symposium scientists. Several years ago, Silph sent the Symposium's top researchers these: special poké balls meant for only the most powerful pokémon. I've kept it since then to wait for the perfect opportunity to use it. I believe now would be that time."

    She reached over to 009 and pulled one of the girl's wrists towards her with one hand. The other placed the ball in 009's palm. Once she was released, 009 pulled the ball close and examined it with scrutinizing eyes.

    "Take this," Nettle said. "Your stealth and battling skills will enable you to use it on McKenzie when he least expects it. I would myself, but I doubt he would allow me to come anywhere near him."

    009 moved her eyes to her partner. "I still don't get it. What's so special about this ball?"

    "That," Nettle replied, "is the Master Ball. It has the ability to capture absolutely any pokémon without fail."
    Oh crap. This one ain't gonna end well. And I wonder why I never realized such a simple solution.


    ---

    To the east of Mauville City, the warm breeze characteristic of Hoenn burst into a gust of cold wind. The water in the river that divided Hoenn neatly in half churned, and its blue surface rose into white peaks. Just beneath the waves, a magikarp swam lazily, its blank stare on the waves above it. Because of its own distraction, it didn't see the four carvanha darting out of the dark depths of the river.

    The only warning it received was a flash of red and blue just at the edge of its peripheral vision, but by the time it twisted itself to look at its attackers, four pairs of jaws sank their teeth into its sides. It cried out and lashed its tail from side to side in the closest thing to an attack it knew, but in response to the Splash attack, the carvanha simply ripped away from the carp. At once, the magikarp stopped struggling and turned until it floated belly up on the surface of the water. Its gills pumped frantically as its mouth flapped, taking in gulps of water it didn't process. All around it, the river began to turn pinkish red from the spurts coming from the four deep wounds in its sides.

    Each of the four carvanha swallowed its own mouthful and glanced at the rest of its group. They twitched their tails in preparation for another attack. The fish darted towards the magikarp, jaws open and ready for another bite.

    Right before they sank their teeth into their prey, three pairs of claws lashed into the churning water to grab most of the school. The last one stopped just before striking. Its eyes focused on three blurry objects just above the surface as it backed away. Then, it turned and darted into the darkness, leaving both its hunting party and the dying magikarp behind.

    Above the water, three white ixodida hovered. Snowy, bird-like wings extended from their backs and flapped at regular intervals to generate bursts of wind. Each gust played with the white feathers covering their bodies and the long, white hair that cascaded from their heads. Golden claws on their feet brushed the surface of the water, and the matching set on their fingers clutched the fish in their hands. Their tails, each ending in a blunt tip, wagged happily as they brought their catches to their mouths. The carvanha screeched and lashed as the harpies' lips parted to reveal long, sharp fangs. Then, before the fish could slip away, the bird-women bit down into their prey, fangs sinking deep into flesh.

    Almost immediately, the fish fell silent and still.

    The harpies ate in peace for awhile, consuming every last scrap of the fish – bones, rough scales, and everything else. After a few minutes, they paused as a new gust of wind blew over them. Their heads turned towards the sky to see another feathered ixodida stare steadily at them with a pair of black eyes. As he watched them, his long tail swung beneath him, its arrowhead tip cutting through thin air. Upon spotting him, each of the harpies dropped the remnants of their fish and bowed their heads low in respect.

    "I have a task for you three," he said.

    Craning his neck, he glanced towards the horizon. The three birds lifted their heads and turned to see the skyline of a city not far away.

    "Within that human settlement, there is one of our own," the male told them. "I want the three of you to go there and find him. If he is a member of the Iron Clan, use any means necessary to bring him to me. Is that understood?"

    The three harpies swiveled their heads towards him and screeched. Their wings extended, and with a flap, they ascended until they floated above him.

    "Good," he said. "Go quickly before we lose him."

    All three of them opened their mouths for a second screech as they twisted themselves in mid air. Before long, they shot towards the city, putting as much distance between their superior and themselves as possible.
    This is getting very complex and very good. I have a feeling that we might see a Bill VS. Lanette VS. Team Rocket VS. the Ixodida species all-out war soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    I actually love stuff like that. I remember Purple Drake did something it might have been an epic essay reply to when I reviewed one of her fics, she had this massive explanation about how the world worked, and it was pretty awesome.
    Inorite? I've seen a number of authors who really get into it (even more than me -- I'm talking has-a-wiki-for-their-fic level), and it's really cool to see someone who's thought out the world around their fic in that much detail. Sometimes, the worldbuilding's even more interesting than the fic itself.

    Either way, this makes me think I should go and find that massive explanation.

    I shall henceforth read said essays :P
    Woot! And if you'd like other headcanony things, I keep a fandom blog (linked in my sig) that's full of all kinds of fun tidbits.

    Lurking in the Shadows is brilliant, I was a reader way back during the first iteration, kinda lost my way a bit but when the second, revised version came around I stuck with it till the end. Well worth it.
    Definitely going to check it out. Thanks!

    Not temporarily?
    That's better. ;D

    ...Yes RLY. I once dated a girl almost solely because she "had issues". Needless to say, it wasn't exactly the greatest relationship ever. Masochism ftw, right?
    XD; Well, on the positive side, good to hear you're no longer in that kind of relationship.

    Speaking of car dealerships, Lurking in the Shadows is full of car facts and figures, not to mention epic math battles and all the quality inn information you could want or need.
    I'm intrigued by the phrase "epic math battle."

    It was good info-dumpy. If it was a movie, I could imagine it being in the form of a news report or flashback.
    Thank you!

    What about an Ophiotaurus, a half cow/bull seal thing. Maybe that wouldn't work :P
    Yeah, probably not. ;_;

        Spoiler:- On the other hand...:


    The Greeks had an obsession with splicing animals together.
    Which really made them awesome. Hello, minotaur.

    And I do have to admit Percy Jackson is also on my to-read list. (Among a ton of other things, if you may have noticed. *whistles innocently*)

    Persephone! ♥ Probably one of my favorite stories, just because it proved that Hades wasn't a jerk.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Two things about this. One, I think the information that more people died in the initial rush to escape the Ixodida than in their attack itself is something quite interesting to know, and something I find very realistic and believable.
    Thank you!

    Two, the Japanese government? If this is sent on the real-life planet Earth (operating under the theory that the regions are simply extra continents) that raises some very... peculiar questions that complicate things, I think.
    The short of a very long and complicated explanation is that it's actually operating under the theory that the regions are just regions according to the literal definition of the word: parts of countries instead of countries and continents themselves. This goes along with the idea that Kanto = real-world Kanto, Johto = Kansai, and so on and so forth. However, while the names of the cities and regions have changed (with some noted examples, including Tokyo City, Hollywood, et cetera), names of countries have not. So, the area in which most regions (Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, the three Ranger regions, the Orange Islands, and the Sevii Islands) are located in Japan, hence the presence of the Japanese government.

    Side note, but at the same time, Orre and Unova are located in the United States, so they're beyond the reach of that particular government system.

    I know there's probably spots of confusion here about names and whatnot, but the short of it is there was a massive unification movement after years upon years of war, and as a result, there was a lot of cultural exchange. For one, there's no language barrier. Everyone from a certain generation (Rowan's, in fact) onward have learned to speak a common language known simply as Common. (In the canon of AEM, its spoken language is based in English while its writing system is a blockier form of Japanese.) Of course, the old languages still exist. There's signs that are written in English, ads that have Chinese, things like that. Moreover, some people in the world still speak or are taught languages besides Common. For a somewhat relevant example, Bill, thanks to his parents (a Scottish immigrant and a Japanese traditionalist), knows how to write in English and can speak Japanese. Same thing with his sisters. Lanette, who also comes from an immigrant family (albeit hers is French), can also speak and write in French. Both are aside from the fact that they also most likely studied a little bit of Latin thanks to their scientific training. Ellen probably knows a little bit of Latin herself, what with having a medical background. At least one of these is plot relevant.

    Besides language, it's not particularly unusual, thanks to a heavy Western influence, for children to be named things like Ash and Misty and to have Western interests and customs (Western-esque Christmas, for example). But you could probably find a better description of what's going on in terms of culture over here.

    Other than that, feel free to ask away!

    Wait, I'm confused. The wording of the first segment implied that the quarantine was already in place, but now they hadn't thought of it?
    Mm, I didn't word that part that well -- sorry about that. I meant to say that at that point, they didn't actually think of it. The entire section is actually explaining why the quarantine (which exists in the present of the fic) is in place. The St. Lucia Incident happened months and months ago, shortly after the meteor fell. So, by then, the government never thought there was a particular reason why they needed to quarantine an entire region until the St. Lucia Incident taught them that people can carry parasites/parasite eggs with them to other regions without even knowing they are.

    Excellent disaster narrative; this alone would make a fine survival horror film. Although, it seems odd that such a major incident could easily be classified.
    Thank you! And as for the second... ;D There's a reason for that.

    Is the St. Lucia the Abandoned Ship between Dewford and Slateport?
    It would be really cool if it was, but unfortunately, it's not. The fic takes place after Ash went through Hoenn, and the Abandoned Ship was actually featured in one of the Hoenn-season episodes.

    I'm not totally buying this part at face value. I've learned this much from watching too many creature movies - if something is obviously what it seems, it's not. Something else happened here.
    Oh, definitely. ;D You'll see what in a few chapters, hopefully.

    Oh crap. This one ain't gonna end well. And I wonder why I never realized such a simple solution.
    Hilariously, I never did until I wrote that part. XD Originally, their plan was going to involve a mecha, and then I realized this would actually have a lot of potential for awesome stuff.

    This is getting very complex and very good. I have a feeling that we might see a Bill VS. Lanette VS. Team Rocket VS. the Ixodida species all-out war soon.
    Oh, you know it. ;D

    Thanks for the review~!

    REBOOT: Chapter eleven now available. | Original: Chapter thirty-one now available.

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  17. #117
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    Sorry for the late review. My computer has been giving me a hard time for a couple of days now.

    The St. Lucia incident was a nice touch to the story, and also a believable one at that. In a disater of this scale, something is bound to slip through one way or another...except this one involved a kid and most of a ship being infected/eaten when said kid just wanted a sandwich or something from his pack. What a way to end a day.

    They found Lanette Chastain not at Fallarbor Town, as she usually was before the quarantine. Rather, she was several miles to the east, closer to Fortree. With the Hoenn League virtually frozen at the height of the evacuation, Lanette's storage system was shut down, and most pokémon were distributed among Japan's other regional networks. Lanette herself was summoned with her sister, Brigette, to a place called Point Zero. Their mission: to investigate the strange pokémon that had appeared around the area.

    Unfortunately, the Chastain sisters never made it.

    Lanette never spoke about what happened west of Fortree during that time, and even months later, she couldn't recall how long she spent in the wilderness. Either way, the Caravan found her dehydrated, half-starved, delirious, alone, and covered in blood. Strangely, she wasn't infected.
    I have to agree with The Great Butler on this one. It just doesn't quite sit well with me believeing this a face value. It makes me think of several scenarios for it, but one thing keeps coming back, especially with the last three words...
        Spoiler:- possible spoiler:

    This event also is an understandable reason for Lanette to hate Bill's ixodida form. It must be awkward to like someone and hate his guts at the exact same time.

    Yay! Team Rocket is back with a heaping helping of plotting too. Oddly enough, the idea of Team Rocket capturing ixodida made me think up a rather funny (in a sadistic way) advertisment involving Team Rocket selling said ixodida as "guard dogs". My mind is weird like that. :P

    Now that they are after Bill too, that means pretty much every major faction in the story is after Bill, wheter to kill or capture him. That's just evil JX...I love it.
    Last edited by Cryptic Blaze; 25th January 2011 at 11:31 PM.

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    I read this through in one go the other day after your first post really interested me ha, have to say you've got yourself a fan here!

    It's a really exciting and engrossing plot, I love the idea of Hoenn being this nation in ruins and how ambiguous this XP-650 is. That, and the dual character of Bill / Adam and how unassuming Adam is to the way of the world sometimes - it gives almost a sense of humanity to him, I feel.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing where the plot progresses next. Like I said, you've got yourself another long-term reader.

  19. #119
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    Totally all right. Sorry it's taking me so long to get to yours. ^_^;
    Thanks. (Don't worry about taking a while to get to mine, either! I'm a pretty slow writer for the most part anyway, so I've got time.)
    Thank you again! And pfft to your comment in that PM about not being able to review well. Maybe I'm just used to one-liners everywhere else I've gone, but it seems like you and Serebii people in general are some of the best reviewers I've encountered. So, I do mean it when I say thanks to all of you. ♥
    Aw, thanks. Sometimes I feel like I'm not doing that well at it. So it's very nice to hear that! And thanks for the detailed response to my review! Glad to see I was right with the farther/further issue...

    And hence I begin my review! Sorry if it's a bit short. D:

    In the middle of a field just north of Slateport City, a black helicopter lifted off and rose quickly into the blue sky. The wind from its blades made the sea of grass dance violently, but the two people standing beside a black jeep nearby hardly felt phased. Neither of them moved until the helicopter was well out of sight, when the wind died down into a calm, warm breeze.
    Excellent imagery here.
    "Within that human settlement, there is one of our own," the male told them. "I want the three of you to go there and find him. If he is a member of the Iron Clan, use any means necessary to bring him to me. Is that understood?"
    Hmm, Iron Clan...I wonder if they're talking about Bill and his Steel typing...

    While I admit the first paragraphs of the chapter read a bit like a summary, it wasn't boring in the slightest. The scene of the ixodida egg in the boy's backpack was one of the most exciting scenes in the chapter. Like one of the other posters said, it was a good intermingling of summary and plot, and it didn't feel like too much of an info-dump.

    *The only warning it received was a flash of red and blue just at the edge of its peripheral vision, but by the time it twisted itself to look at its attackers, four pairs of jaws sank their teeth into its sides. It cried out and lashed its tail from side to side in the closest thing to an attack it knew, but in response to the Splash attack, the carvanha simply ripped away from the carp. At once, the magikarp stopped struggling and turned until it floated belly up on the surface of the water. Its gills pumped frantically as its mouth flapped, taking in gulps of water it didn't process. All around it, the river began to turn pinkish red from the spurts coming from the four deep wounds in its sides.

    Each of the four carvanha swallowed its own mouthful and glanced at the rest of its group. They twitched their tails in preparation for another attack. The fish darted towards the magikarp, jaws open and ready for another bite.

    Right before they sank their teeth into their prey, three pairs of claws lashed into the churning water to grab most of the school. The last one stopped just before striking. Its eyes focused on three blurry objects just above the surface as it backed away. Then, it turned and darted into the darkness, leaving both its hunting party and the dying magikarp behind.
    The food chain at its best! XD

    Also, the additional characterization of Lanette was interesting, as well as her interactions with Vito. Vito creeps me out a little bit, but maybe that's just me.

    I apologize I can't leave a more detailed review. :/ However, there wasn't much material needing critique this chapter. No grammatical errors or logical fallacies were present at all, so good job with that. Excellent chapter, and thanks for adding me to the PM list!
    I will be offline from January 2013 to October 2014.

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    Chapter 3 and cooler banner coming eventually. :P

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  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cryptic Blaze View Post
    Sorry for the late review. My computer has been giving me a hard time for a couple of days now.
    Totally okay, and ouch. O_o Hope everything's all right. I hate it when computers decide to hold uprisings against mankind.

    The St. Lucia incident was a nice touch to the story, and also a believable one at that. In a disater of this scale, something is bound to slip through one way or another...except this one involved a kid and most of a ship being infected/eaten when said kid just wanted a sandwich or something from his pack. What a way to end a day.
    Thanks! And I know, right? XD Just remember, if you think your day sucks, at least you're not that kid.

    I have to agree with The Great Butler on this one. It just doesn't quite sit well with me believeing this a face value. It makes me think of several scenarios for it, but one thing keeps coming back, especially with the last three words...
        Spoiler:- possible spoiler:
    *whistles innocently*

    Seriously, though, good guess. You'll see the real reason in a couple of chapters, hopefully, and I have to say I'm very excited about the upcoming reveal.

    This event also is an understandable reason for Lanette to hate Bill's ixodida form. It must be awkward to like someone and hate his guts at the exact same time.
    Oh yeah. And I have to admit, it's a lot of fun to have her hate him and have him be completely oblivious as to why. You can definitely bet that Bill is hilariously confused about the fact that Lanette sort of wants to kill him with her bare hands.

    I'm almost tempted to make her his ex-girlfriend, just for lulz and even more awkward. ("Is this about our breakup? Because I thought I apologized profusely to both you and your sister for that.")

    Yay! Team Rocket is back with a heaping helping of plotting too. Oddly enough, the idea of Team Rocket capturing ixodida made me think up a rather funny (in a sadistic way) advertisment involving Team Rocket selling said ixodida as "guard dogs". My mind is weird like that. :P
    You wouldn't be too far from the truth on what they want to do with them. XD

    Now that they are after Bill too, that means pretty much every major faction in the story is after Bill, wheter to kill or capture him. That's just evil JX...I love it.
    *bows* Thank you! I like my plots evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by spareux View Post
    I read this through in one go the other day after your first post really interested me ha,
    *high fives* I love readers with awesome senses of dedication. I mean, fifteen chapters (and a prologue) in one day? Very nice. I can't even do that.

    have to say you've got yourself a fan here!
    Thank you! I'm glad you like it! If you'd like, I could also add you to a PM list to make sure you get updates every time I post a chapter (which, uh, I really should probably do soon).

    That, and the dual character of Bill / Adam and how unassuming Adam is to the way of the world sometimes - it gives almost a sense of humanity to him, I feel.
    Ooh, that's a really interesting way of looking at it, seriously, and I'm glad Adam came off that way. I was trying to make it seem alien, but it's never easy to see whether a character's being alien or just plain flat (especially since Adam's not supposed to feel emotion the way humans do). So, feedback on that part is always awesome.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing where the plot progresses next. Like I said, you've got yourself another long-term reader.
    Thank you! This really means a lot to me. ♥

    Quote Originally Posted by GastlyMan View Post
    Thanks. (Don't worry about taking a while to get to mine, either! I'm a pretty slow writer for the most part anyway, so I've got time.)
    Sweet! I hope I'll be able to get a review up before you get your next chapter out. b)'')b

    Aw, thanks. Sometimes I feel like I'm not doing that well at it. So it's very nice to hear that! And thanks for the detailed response to my review! Glad to see I was right with the farther/further issue...
    No prob, but I really should be thanking you. (I mean, at the very least, you did teach me something new about grammar.)

    And hence I begin my review! Sorry if it's a bit short. D:
    Oh, don't worry. You've already beaten the one-liners I usually get. XD

    Excellent imagery here.
    Thank you!

    Hmm, Iron Clan...I wonder if they're talking about Bill and his Steel typing...
    Yep. Admittedly, I thought I'd mentioned this earlier, but I was apparently thinking of the old version (where it's actually explained in some info-dumping for hilarious reasons that involve me really liking info-dumps back then).

    The short answer     Spoiler:- which is totally not a short answer because it's me:


    While I admit the first paragraphs of the chapter read a bit like a summary, it wasn't boring in the slightest. The scene of the ixodida egg in the boy's backpack was one of the most exciting scenes in the chapter. Like one of the other posters said, it was a good intermingling of summary and plot, and it didn't feel like too much of an info-dump.
    Thank you! I'm really glad it worked!

    The food chain at its best! XD
    Inorite? XD The Discovery Channel in that universe must be the best thing ever.

    Also, the additional characterization of Lanette was interesting, as well as her interactions with Vito. Vito creeps me out a little bit, but maybe that's just me.
    If there's a character in this fic who doesn't have something creepy about them, then that character was clearly written by someone else. XD

    Although if it amuses anyone at all, Vito is actually the cast member who has the least problems. I mean, sure, his family is implied to have been slaughtered already, but at least he wasn't there to watch it happen like half the rest of the cast.

    I apologize I can't leave a more detailed review. :/
    Aww, this was a completely cool review as it was. ♥ Thanks so much for taking the time and for the feedback!

    REBOOT: Chapter eleven now available. | Original: Chapter thirty-one now available.

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  21. #121
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    Wow i've just finished all that. Poor Hoenn.
        Spoiler:- I have a theory...:

    Keep up the good work and could you add me to your pm list?
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    Way to go, self. Sorry about the late response, gmoyes.

    Quote Originally Posted by gmoyes View Post
    Wow i've just finished all that.
    *high fives* And I mean that honestly because I'm always impressed by anyone who can get through (technically) sixteen chapters in a short time period. Thanks for the review as well, and no problem about the PM list!

        Spoiler:- I have a theory...:
    Iiiin a roundabout way.

        Spoiler:- Pfft, since when can Jax give a short answer?:


    And end ramble.


    On a few housekeepy notes, I've finally started with the edits to the earlier chapters, so hopefully, I'll be able to get those done soon. Real life is really kicking my tail right now, so.

    And! There is now a sixteenth chapter! Side note about the first half of this one? Ignore is repeated a lot. At first it was unintentional, but I ended up liking the effect. Please feel free to tell me if I should stop proofing my chapters drunk it only beats you over the head with the word instead of emphasizing that last line there.


    Anima Ex Machina: Sixteen
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.


    "You're kidding, right?" Veronica deadpanned.

    In the examination room of the pokémon center, the police officer observed one of the sights she hoped she wouldn't have to see. It wasn't death, destruction, or mayhem. It was Ellen Joy helping an ixodida get dressed. In human clothing.

    Bill wasn't exactly comfortable with the whole idea himself. For one, it made him realize, much to his embarrassment, that he had been completely naked since he first awoke as an ixodida. While he couldn't argue with covering himself up in light of that fact, the fact that the idea never dawned on him until now served as a not-too-kind reminder that his body was far from what he would call human.

    For another, clothing felt strange against his skin – almost unpleasant. He felt too warm, and although he could no longer feel the texture and softness of fabric, the way it brushed against his armor felt like it was touching a numb limb. His nerves prickled uncomfortably, perhaps because his nervous system knew it should be feeling something but simply couldn't.

    For a third, he couldn't get Adam to shut up about it.

    Clothing. Is that what you humans call it? Adam muttered bitterly. Your species must be incredibly vain. Why would you need to cover your bodies? Is there something you all consider repulsive about your form? It is a wonder that any of you breed.

    He kept silent, even fixing his jaw to avoid speaking. Craning his neck, he tried to focus on the ceiling while Ellen worked on tightening the leather belt around his waist. The loose material of the gray slacks and the white shirt he wore did wonders to hide his form, but because of his claws, he couldn't do much to put on the disguise himself. He wished he could, not only because he felt embarrassed about having another person dress him but also because it would have given him something else to focus on besides Adam.

    Is it an adaptation technique? Adam continued. I noticed that your human form lacked a pelt. All of your skin was thin and flimsy before I changed it. It may be a wonder that you evolved at all. One would think that your kind would die from something as humiliating as exposure shortly after it decided a pelt was unnecessary for survival. It amuses me that your kind could be so fragile and survive. You would hardly be considered the most intelligent species on this planet alone if you must know, and the more intelligent species are far better equipped to handle this planet's environment.

    Just ignore him, Bill chanted in his own mind, but he couldn't help but feel as if something was smiling at him with just a little too much teeth.

    Luckily, Ellen, having finished with the belt, looked around her companion and proceeded to give him just the distraction he needed.

    "We should do something about your tail," she said.

    "Hmm?" Bill looked over his shoulder and lifted his tail. "That shouldn't be too difficult. What if I tried this?"

    He wormed his tail under his shirt and, while taking care to not let the tip shred the material over his torso, wound it around his midsection in tight circles. Eventually, the last segment disappeared under cotton.

    "How does that look?" he asked.

    "Well..." Ellen smoothed the fabric over his torso. "It's a little bulky, but if we let your shirt hang the way it is, I don't think anyone would notice."

    Veronica crossed her arms and sighed. "This is not going to work."

    Ellen sent a glare towards her partner. "What makes you so sure? He looks all right to me."

    "So, you plan to have him just pretend to be human for Jirachi knows how long?" Veronica moved her hands to her hips. "How is he supposed to hide the fact that he's an ixodida when we feed him raw meat? And what about all the fighting? He can't exactly keep pretending to be a human when he's using his hands to slice up another ixodida."

    She is right, you know.

    Bill recoiled, not so much at Veronica's words but more because of Adam's tone. The parasite was practically purring inside his head.

    You see, Bill, Adam said, while you can hide as much of our form as you would like, there are things you cannot conceal. Our instincts, for example.

    He felt something tingle in his head. His mouth filled with a coppery taste, and he shivered with a sudden pang of hunger. All around him, the air smelled sweet. He knew it was Chansey's scent, but right then, he felt like he wanted to follow it, rip her throat out, and taste the soft flesh beneath her pink fur. A second later, he realized how easily that thought floated into his mind, and clearing his throat, he tried his best to dispel it.

    With a quick sweep of his hands, Bill grabbed a pair of leather boots that sat waiting for him beside the examination table. He jammed his feet into them, piercing the paper stuffed into their toes with his claws. The brown leather would have gone up to mid-calf on his human self; now, it braced his heel.

    Above him, he listened to Ellen and Veronica's argument continue.

    "It's not going to be forever," Ellen replied. "Once we can convince the Caravan that Bill has a good heart and wouldn't hurt anyone traveling with us, he won't have to hide anymore."

    "And what about that girl? The one you said recognized him?"

    Bill stopped where he was, his fingers halfway done with tying his boots. Lanette. He couldn't begin to imagine what might have happened to her. In his mind, he could envision the way she was before the quarantine. She wasn't exactly what he would call happy-go-lucky, but it was very rare for him to see her without some kind of expression on her face. A smile. A shadow of nervousness. A glint of determination. Something that made her look human.

    The Lanette he met recently was cold. Expressionless. Robotic. He could recognize the face anywhere, but the spark that had been there – the part of her that he considered his best friend – was nowhere to be seen. Yet he wanted so much to believe she would help him.

    "Well, Nurse Joy?" Veronica asked.

    "Okay, I don't know," Ellen replied, "but we'll figure something out. Bill, isn't she a friend of yours?"

    Finishing with the boots, Bill kept his eyes on the floor. "Yes."

    "Then, what's there to worry about? I'm sure she'll be happy to help us," Ellen told Veronica. "So long as Bill is covered up and isn't causing any trouble, why should any of us worry?"

    "Because it's a stupid idea," Veronica snapped. "Look at him! No one's going to believe that!"

    Although I would hate to admit to agreeing with a human, she has a point, Adam drawled. Bill, I feel ridiculous wearing human clothing. Take it off.

    Doing his best to ignore the parasite, Bill stood. He was just in time for Thom to burst into the room with a bundle in his arms.

    "Sorry I'm late!" the boy chirped. "Is he ready yet? Lemme see!"

    Veronica rolled her eyes and leaned against the examination table. At the same time, Thom leaned forward and squinted, prompting Bill to reel back slightly.

    "Hey!" Thom said. "Not too shabby! This'll work! Here, I've even got a few things to finish it off!"

    Before Bill could protest, Thom pulled a puffy, gray hat out of the bundle and jammed it on top of the ixodida's head to cover his horns. The second thing that went on was a red scarf flung around his neck. Finally, Thom shoved a pair of black leather gloves into Bill's hands.

    "Here, put these on, and we'll see how it looks!"

    Bill blinked in response. Then, carefully, he slipped his hands into the gloves and let his arms fall at his sides. Ellen stepped beside Thom and gazed at the finished outfit as Thom tapped his chin with a finger.

    "Y'know, I think everyone out there's a genius. They really outdid themselves this time, didn't they?" Thom said.

    Ellen smiled. "It's for a good cause. But they did a great job finding all of this. Bill, you should see yourself before we leave. It's amazing how a few pieces of clothing can make you look so human!"

    Bill adjusted his scarf and replied softly, "Do you really think so?"

    "Oh yeah. We're not just saying that to be nice. You'll be fine," Thom said. "What d'you think, Officer Jenny?"

    For a few moments, she was silent. Then, she huffed and snapped a glare at all three of them.

    "And what will the Caravan say when they find out we've been harboring an ixodida?" she snapped.

    Right away, Bill felt awkward as Lanette's words echoed through his mind. The ixodida could hunt him down wherever he was. That he understood. What he never thought about was the idea that he would make things even more complicated for the survivors. Would anyone try to help the people of Mauville if anyone found out they were trying to protect him?

    "Oh!" Thom suddenly quipped. "That reminds me. The Caravan's already outside."

    Veronica turned her full attention to Thom. "What?!"

    He pointed a thumb towards the door. "Oh yeah. Arrived here about ten minutes ago. That red-headed girl we told you about said she's looking for the authorities here."

    "Why didn't you tell me this first?!"

    "I forgot."

    "****!"

    Veronica balled her hands into fists and gritted her teeth. Then, she exhaled and relaxed her shoulders.

    "Y'know," Thom said, "you've gotta relax now and then, officer. Too much stress'll cause a heart attack."

    "If assault wasn't a crime, I'd punch you in the face right now, Wattson."

    Without another word, Veronica stormed out of the room. Thom stammered out the beginning of a question before quickly following her. All that was left was Ellen and Bill. The nurse turned to her charge and rested a hand on his shoulder.

    "Don't let her get to you," she said. "Everything will be fine. We'll make sure of it. You saved us, after all. We can't leave you behind."

    He looked into her eyes and nodded. "Thank you, Nurse Joy. This means a lot to me."

    Her smile returned as she pulled away and started for the door. "Coming?"

    "No, not yet. If it's all right, I'd like to make sure I'm ready to go out there."

    Looking over her shoulder at him, she replied, "Of course. Take your time, Bill. The Caravan shouldn't be leaving today."

    With that, she glided through the doorway, leaving Bill in a completely empty room. As soon as she was gone, Bill raised his hands and stared at the gloves. He flexed the fingers experimentally and listened to the creak of the hide.

    Then, he lost feeling in his left hand.

    Grabbing his wrist with his free hand, he tried to keep his arm from moving as it strained to rise on its own.

    "Adam!" Bill hissed. "What are you doing?"

    You were ignoring me, it answered. Therefore, I will take action myself.

    The left hand yanked the glove off the right and started tugging on the scarf. Bill gagged and grabbed for the red material around his neck.

    "Isn't this a little petty?" he coughed.

    In a flash, he felt numb all over as his body acted on its own. It took off the scarf and gradually slipped its hand out of the other glove.

    "Not at all," Adam said with his mouth. "Listen, Bill, we need to talk about this Caravan. About that girl, Lanette."

    Shuddering, Bill felt his consciousness slip forward, and his body once again started responding to his own will.

    "I'd listen to you, even if you didn't take such drastic measures!" Bill objected.

    "Somehow, I doubt that. You seem distracted."

    Bill shook his head. "Will you stop that?! I thought the whole point of making me the dominant mind was because you didn't want to have control over this body!"

    "Oh, Bill, you can be entirely too naďve sometimes. I am what you would call a parasite. Of course I would want control over your body. The problem is I lack the ability to do so for extended periods of time." Adam paused. "Does this disturb you that much?"

    Grimacing, Bill responded, "Of course it does! Why wouldn't I be disturbed by the fact that I don't even have the free will to move on my own all the time?!"

    It got your attention, did it not?

    Sighing, Bill turned and placed his hands on the examination table. He closed his eyes and bowed his head.

    "All right, Adam," he murmured. "I'll listen to you. Just... don't do that anymore, okay?"

    Very well.

    Bill snatched the gloves and scarf again. He leaned against the examination table and began to slip the gloves on. Suddenly, his tail unwound from his waist and yanked itself from between the rest of his body and the table behind him. Before Bill could correct his balance, he smacked his back against padding and stumbled to the floor. The arrowhead tip flashed beside him, and he glared at it.

    "What did I just say?!" he snapped.

    I find you amusing. Besides, you should learn to stop thinking of this as your body when it is ours. After all, you did not have a tail. This is completely mine.

    Bill growled and looked away. He didn't want to watch something he knew was attached to him act on its own, let alone think about Adam's point with any depth.

    "You were saying something about the Caravan and Lanette?" he asked.

    Adam hesitated, and the arrowhead tip of the tail tipped downward. Bill, I realize this may be difficult for you, but if we are to succeed in our mission, then we must learn to work together. You must trust my judgment and listen to me when I have something important to say.

    "What is this all ab--"

    Bill turned his head sharply, only to come face to face with the point of his tail. He stopped short, watching the tip carefully as it came close to his face. There, it hovered, tilting and bobbing with Adam's every word.

    I sense that you care deeply about this Lanette, Adam said.

    "She... she's my colleague," Bill answered quietly. "That's all."

    Is it? Bill... I have studied you closely since I chose to accept you as my host. I have given you incredible power. That combined with your intelligence should make you unstoppable. But do you know what your weakness is? What keeps you from becoming a true warrior? Your emotions. You let your heart judge for you. You hesitate to hurt others because you think too much about the consequences. You avoid trusting those who may be your greatest allies, and you trust those who may be your greatest enemies.

    Bill tensed. "What are you saying?"

    I am saying that I do not trust Lanette, and neither should you.

    At once, Bill scrambled to his feet. His tail lashed upwards, wrapping it around his arms and torso tightly. Trapped, he stared downward at the arrowhead.

    "Are you saying I shouldn't trust my closest friend?" he demanded. "She hasn't lied to me before!"

    She is not the same as she was before my kind came. Neither are you. You cannot deny that.

    Bill squirmed his arms out of Adam's grip and yanked his shirt up and over his tail.

    "I appreciate your concern, Adam, but I'll be fine. I can at least tell when I'm being tricked."

    He felt his tail tighten around his torso, but as he strode forward, he did his best to ignore it.

    As your partner, I cannot force you to change your mind, Adam replied, but I do hope for our sake that you are right about her.

    His tail went lax, and for the first time in the past several minutes, Bill could feel it again. Stopping at the door, he adjusted his scarf while he wound his tail around his waist himself. He paused, taking a deep breath to calm himself.

    "We'll be fine," he whispered. "There's nothing to worry about."

    Then, he stepped out into the hallway and walked down the short corridor to the common area. It struck him as odd that even then, he couldn't hear any voices. Normally, there would be people talking in the pokémon center's common area, and he expected there to be even more activity with the added population of the Caravan. While he heard the muffled sounds of something outside, the common room itself was quiet.

    As soon as he arrived, it didn't take him long to discover why. The entire place was empty. No one was at the green videophones lining the wall. All of the tables were bare and the seats unoccupied in the dining area. In the lounge clustered in the opposite corner of the room, the plush couches that normally were crowded with people were almost empty.

    Almost.

    Veronica leaned against one of the chairs with a glass of amber liquid in her hand. Even from several feet away, Bill caught the bitter scent of alcohol, and this was part of the reason why he instinctively bristled. The other reason was sitting on the couch Veronica leaned against. Lanette took one last sip of her own beverage – coffee, if Bill's nose was correct for a second time – before she placed her cup on the table. At first, she didn't say a word, opting instead on fixing her ruby-red eyes on her colleague.

    "Lanette," Bill murmured. "I..."

    He stopped, remembering the point of his disguise. Pressing his lips together, he pulled down on the hat's brim to hide his eyes. Lanette narrowed hers at him.

    "The Caravan reached a decision," she said.

    Bill looked up. "What... what did they decide?"

    Lanette stood. She brushed past Veronica and started for the door. The officer downed the rest of the contents in her glass before placing it on the table. Immediately afterwards, she fell into step behind the red-head.

    "A test," Lanette said. "Follow us, if you please. We don't have much time to administer it."

    Bill took a step forward and froze where he was. It wasn't his doing.

    I sense something wrong here, Bill. Be on guard.

    "I know," Bill whispered harshly.

    "What was that?" Veronica asked.

    Shaking his head, Bill smiled and walked after them. "Nothing."

    Lanette gave the ixodida a strange look before turning back to the door. Inside his head, Bill could hear Adam's growl; once again, he tried to ignore it.

    Later on, he would wish he hadn't.

    ---

    Adam was right about one thing: Bill's main weakness was the fact that he was afraid of hurting anyone. But Bill already knew this. He knew before he was a researcher, back when he was still training pokémon. To be specific, he was terrible at battling even then. At first, it was just inexperience, a lack of understanding as to how battles worked combined with a stubborn refusal to trust his pokémon. After awhile, inexperience turned into compassion. As soon as he began seeing his pokémon as friends, he became reluctant to exert real effort into winning a battle. Of course, he knew pokémon were never seriously injured by matches, but every time he walked onto a battlefield and tried to order his pokémon to do something, he would hesitate, thinking about all the things that could go wrong and land a pokémon in Nurse Joy's hands for more than just a band-aid and a potion.

    As a result, Bill never earned a single badge. In fact, after he realized what his problem was, he avoided gyms as a general rule. They made him uneasy with their wide, open battlefields that invariably struck him as being suspiciously pristine and well-kept for sites of long, arduous matches. Whenever he looked at one, he didn't see a smooth surface with neatly painted white lines, and he didn't imagine one flashy attack after another in an epic struggle between two equal forces. He saw the craters, trenches, and burn marks with his pokémon in the center of each one, just as they were at the end of the last few gym battles he ever bothered to fight. He saw the thousands of ways a pokémon could be left with broken bones, psychological trauma, and the gods knew what else.

    Naturally, Bill was fully aware that it was ironic that he supported trainers, despite what he thought of gyms. It's just that the thought of going back to being a trainer left an unpleasant feeling in his chest.

    In short, when Lanette and Veronica led him into Mauville Gym, he was wary, not because of what Adam had told him about Lanette but instead because he just didn't like gyms.

    At the edge of the battlefield, Lanette started up a metal ladder leading to a catwalk. Veronica stepped beside it and motioned for Bill to follow the Caravan's leader. He hesitated, waiting for Lanette to reach the top before climbing up himself. Inside, he felt Adam stir, and he sensed that the ixodida was watching every move he was making. When he reached the top, he shut his eyes briefly, as if to drive the parasite away. In the darkness, he heard Lanette's footsteps across the steel walkway. They stopped after a few seconds.

    "Come," she said.

    Opening his eyes, he turned and followed her in a trot until he stood behind her. Keeping her back towards him, she pulled a poké ball from one of the pouches on her belt and released a pokémon in front of her. The gloom trilled and skirted around his master until he stood, squinted eyes staring up at the other pokémon. Bill shifted uncomfortably on his feet, staring first at it and then at Lanette. Behind him, he could hear Veronica coming up the ladder.

    "Er... Lanette?" he asked softly. "What... what kind of test are we performing?"

    There was a cold look in her eyes, and finally, Bill realized something was terribly wrong.

    "Lanette," he muttered. "You know it's me, right? You know me. I'm not a threat to you. I'm... we're friends, aren't we? We... we designed the system together."

    She blinked and shifted her gaze to a point behind him. "The Caravan has reached a decision. Officer. Now."

    Veronica grabbed Bill's wrist. He gasped and tried to turn to face her, and in the quick second of distraction, she snapped a set of handcuffs around his arm and part of the rail along the catwalk. Instinctively, Bill grasped his bound wrist and tried to wrench it away from the metal bar, but the handcuffs held fast. Lanette took the time to skirt past him, her gloom trotting behind her. Veronica, her job complete, turned and walked towards the ladder silently.

    "Wait!" Bill said. "Wait! What's going on?"

    After putting several feet between herself and Bill, Lanette turned and continued, "Ixodida, on behalf of the Caravan, I hereby sentence you to exile for the crimes your species have committed against humanity."

    "Exile? Crimes? Lanette, you can't mean that you think I had anything to--"

    "The Caravan will be leaving Mauville City this afternoon."

    "Lanette, please, just listen to me!"

    "You are forbidden to leave this gym until we've departed, and if you attempt to follow us, we will terminate you on sight."

    Bill hesitated, his body trembling. Terminated? Exiled? He kept his eyes on his partner, his mouth slightly open. Right then, he began to realize just how different this woman was from the Lanette he knew.

    "Lanette," he murmured. "I..." His wrist shook, rattling the handcuffs against the rail. Glancing down at them, he let his next few words tumble from his lips. "I understand. May I at least have the key to set myself free once you're gone?"

    She turned away from him. He watched her from the corner of his eye, and in his chest, a stabbing pain hit his heart.

    "No," she replied. "Gloom, Sleep Powder."

    The weed pokémon tilted his head towards Bill, and from the bulbous flower on his head, a cloud of blue spores burst and swirled towards the ixodida. Bill made no effort to dodge, instead inhaling the powder as it engulfed him. At once, his vision began to get hazy, and his body felt weak. He dropped to one knee with a bang while he turned his head at last to watch Lanette recall her gloom and move towards him again. Surprised by this action, Bill struggled to keep his eyes open as she knelt in front of him and placed a hand on the side of his face. Her skin felt inordinately cold.

    "Your face still looks the same as it did the last time we saw each other," she said tonelessly. "I wish I could help you, Bill, but I can't give you a merciful death. Please forgive me."

    "Lanette..." Bill whispered. His voice was getting fainter and fainter as his head began to drop. "Aren't we friends?"

    The expression on her face darkened, and she let him go. "All ixodida are monsters. If you aren't one now, you will be one soon. I can only hope that parasite has enough sense to die with you."

    Bill tried to shake his head, but by then, his body could only manage slight motions. "No. Don't be... don't be confused. Cover... book... not the same... I..."

    The last thing he saw was Lanette standing and the blurry, brown blobs that were her boots moving away from him. After that, Bill crumpled to the floor of the catwalk, his eyes shutting at last.

    In the darkness of his mind, he heard Adam's voice.

    What did I tell you, Bill?
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 20th February 2011 at 3:46 PM.

    REBOOT: Chapter eleven now available. | Original: Chapter thirty-one now available.

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  23. #123
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    "If assault wasn't a crime, I'd punch you in the face right now, Wattson."
    Loved this line. But who would arrest her? she's the only cop in town. I had a feeling something like that would happen. the disguse would never have worked. i guess this way is sort of fair. ish...
    Anyway keep up the good work.
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  24. #124
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    I'm glad gmoyes chose that exact quote because that means I don't have to quote it

    Anyway, I don't pretend to be knowledgeable about American Law but I do know a fair bit about British Law and I do know that Assault is described as putting someone in fear of being attacked. So technically she's committing an assault as she says that. Punching somebody would be a battery, or if it was a little worse, Actual Bodily Harm or Section 20 or 18 Grievous Bodily Harm.

    Law Man, Awaaaaaay! *zooms off into the distance*


    *returns, realising that he still has a chapter to talk about*

    Aaaaanyway, good job.

    It seems you and I have almost identical views on how pokémon (or space parasites) see clothing and it's necessity, I've made similar points in a fic I'm writing and in a mad crossover project I even had my murderous Gallade wonder how humans got to be so dominant when they are merely useless fleshbags with no visible defences.

    Lanette was pretty good for what little she did in this chapter, I liked the coldness she showed then, right at the end, she warmed up a little. It was almost heartbreaking to see Bill's confusion, at least, it elicited a pitying aww from me.
    Skogsrĺ

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  25. #125

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    Haha, an ixodia in human clothing. The whole mental image was just hilarious despite the fact that the situation was anything but. xD Maybe they could have pulled it off, but one would have to wonder why a person would be wearing everything but the kitchen sink.

    I was agreeing with Adam with the Lanette thing. She all but told Bill she was going to handcuff him in Mauville Gym, but he still assured himself she was the same best friend as before the invasion. Bill is just too trusting for his own good, sometimes, and if it wasn't for Adam he would have been dead long before. At least we know Lanette isn't completely heartless. I was right there with Diddy saying "aww" at the end.

    lol at the Veronica quote. xD Thom is going to have to get a bit less forgetful if he doesn't want a black eye (a Flamethrower to the face.)

    Fun chapter (fun for us, not Bill, of course). Can't wait for the next.

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