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Thread: Anima Ex Machina (PG-15)

  1. #251
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Asdfghjkl; *CLING* Absol, I was wondering where you went! ;_;
    I didn't realize people missed me ^ ^;


    Do you reeeeally want to do that? ;D
    >.> <.< ....Yes? :-D It's not like my dirty mind is any more innocent.


    Yeah, inorite? What was I thinking, assuming anyone with delicate sensibilities are still reading this thread.
    They packed up ages ago.

    I'm now wondering if there's anyone in the audience who isn't wondering when Bill and Lanette are going to hop in bed with each other. XD Because besides probably Steven, Wallace, Tate, and Hope, the cast sure is expecting it.
    With the exception of Bill and Lanette themselves.


    Something to admit: Next chapter, I actually wound up not using the plot point I was talking about here. Because I forgot. But! You'll still get to see something awesome.
    It's all cool. I'm still trying to catch up with everything, though. ;.;


    We're all sadists here.
    ...Oooooh....that explains so much.

    Nope! He falls into the last three categories.
    Bill is stuck-up?


    You're going to like this next chapter. ;D
    ....Jx winked at me.

    ....Why am I suddenly very afraid?

    XDDDD WELL, IN THAT CASE, yeah, you should totally start cooking for yourself. I feel you. ;_;
    My idea of cooking=Spaghetti O's+Microwave


    Oh yeah, pretty much. Gary has an older sister named May, and Ash has the hots for her. It becomes a running gag… and part of the reason why he's a trainer. It's sort of glorious.
    The fact that Ash (not Red) is showing lustful emotions is rather...awkward. Considering that the Anime has done everything they can to prove that impossible and all.

    Agreed so hard. Or they just look disgusting. Like, when it comes to men, if you've got this overly muscular figure, you can see their veins, and that's just not cool. With women, if you've got torpedo boobs, all I can think of is, "Oh, plastic surgery." And back pain, for that matter. It's just plain not attractive, so I'm happy Viz toned everything done so that women actually look a little more reasonable.
    This is why I don't play many online games anymore. Seriously, game developers, if I wanted a four letter word that rhymes with corn...I would TYPE THAT INTO A SEARCH ENGINE. Do not invade the world of video games because it's not only distracting to the gamer, but it's most riddiculously unnecessary element in the whole dang thing. I have plenty of ways to look for that stuff if I really want to; I don't need it in any other aspect of my life.

    I personally think it was the system that did it. I mean, Caroline was pretty reasonable herself before she got uploaded, so…!
    That also could be because it was hinted she was forcefully uploaded.

    XD Headcanon time: This is how the costumes actually work.
    I think I may be out of it because I really have no idea what you mean

    XDDD I guess Ellen is out of the question too?
    Unless he feels like taking a bullet from Ellen's overprotective girlfriend: Veronica.

    I don't know why, but I can't help but seeing those two in a relationship. Maybe because they have opposite personalities and are both from clone families.

    Funny story about how someone noticed I never mentioned Bill's mom in this version of the fic.
    Funny story about how I laughed when I imagined Bill saying Magmar's Japanese name in front of Lanette.

    Well, unless John is really a Pokemon in disguise with the ability "Parthenogenesis", I guess it would be safe to assume Bill had a mother. Now we just need to find out the species. It's a Cacturne, right? They're in the human-like egg group and sort of have green hair.

    Aww. You mean you're not fluffy and pink?
    I can't stay turned on forever either.

    Also, update! The next chapter is finally underway, thanks to the fact that my month of death is slowly winding down. Just Anime Boston, a paper, a final project, and job/internship applications left. Which sounds like a lot, but considering I just said March was my month of death… yeah. In any case, chapter will be coming soon~!
    I'm happy things are winding down for you. I, on the other hand, still feel the characters from "The Birds". A million things are flying at me at once, and barricading my windows doesn't seem to work well.

    Aaaaand this is also my 100th post to this thread. Neat!
    Let's go for 300!!! Then I can spam images of a certain Jack Snyder movie.


    It felt like his new friend was trying to poke through his skin to the major artery underneath, and Bill knew that one good squeeze there would bring him to his knees.
    Bill….my buddy, my pal….I really hate to tell you this but…a lot of things can bring you to your knees. I think all it would take is Lanette telling you to sit.

    At the door, the intern who guided him by the arm swiped a card and proceeded through the rest of the security measures. Bill watched with mild interest. He didn't know who these people were, but he at least knew that they hadn't somehow broken in. The door swung open at that point, and he was led inside, passing through the doorway without another glance towards the first intern.
    Hmm…took me a while to figure out which intern was which. I guess because I was under the impression that he was led inside by the first mentioned intern in the chapter.

    It was just a little too wide and showed just a bit too much of her clean, white teeth.
    Team Rocket: They may be horrible, ruthless, and willing to go to any lengths to steal your hard trained Pokémon, but you cannot deny they observe good dental care.

    Or perhaps it was the fact that the girl looked a little too innocent, with curly, golden pigtails caressing the sides of a round face. It reminded him of victreebel: the kind of thing that lured prey in by looking appealing just before killing them off with one swift blow.
    I’m sorry, but all I could think about was: She eats James?

    "Don't you just love technology?" she asked
    O.O She’s the one isn’t she?! I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT!

    I knew that guy snooping around the starter towns who kept spouting “technology is amazing” was really a Rocket member in disguise. Leave it to Team Rocket’s expert con artist to come up with a way to spy on the labs without too much attention drawn.

    I had something else for this chapter but it will have to wait until I can get images to work for me again.

    The orange-haired girl huffed and frowned. Then, with a quick motion, she ripped open Bill's shirt and shoved him backwards.
    My my, Cassidy. I always knew you were forceful type, but you could have at least have bought the poor guy dinner first.

    What he felt next was pain. It was like feeling a large, hot needle getting jammed into his chest. It was like sticking a hand into a nest of rabid beedrill. It was like getting molten lava pumped into the veins.
    Because of the beedrill reference, I keep thinking about his hand hurting and not his chest. XD

    I like how you depict Team Rocket as a group of baddies trying to do nefarious super-evils, but fail horribly at the specifics (such as “keeping Bill alive and untainted for future purposes”). After all, just about every Rocket in the anime (or at least the ones we know about) fail horribly at what they try to accomplish.


    Some things I forgot in the Chapter 3 review:

    In the meantime, cookies to whoever can find the Joss Whedon reference in the middle of this chapter.
    That guy did so much, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I’m going to go with “What is Firefly?”
    Fanfiction:
    The Twisted Child of Johto

    http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=543996

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  2. #252
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolXWolf View Post
    I didn't realize people missed me ^ ^;
    *clings to you* ;_; You mentioned you were going to a con and then weeks of inactivity! I was like, "Oh goodness, something happened, didn't it?" Because my mind is totally overdramatic like that.

    >.> <.< ....Yes? :-D It's not like my dirty mind is any more innocent.
    Okay, fair point. XD

    With the exception of Bill and Lanette themselves.
    Oh, naturally. ;D

    It's all cool. I'm still trying to catch up with everything, though. ;.;
    It's okay. Take your time. The next chapter has been moving at a snail's pace. XD; Hopefully, though, it'll be finished by the weekend.

    Bill is stuck-up?
    Depends on which character you ask. XD

    In fact, there's a list for this!

        Spoiler:- Is this really even necessary?:


    ....Jx winked at me.

    ....Why am I suddenly very afraid?


    My idea of cooking=Spaghetti O's+Microwave
    Yet that's somehow better than dorm food. XD

    The fact that Ash (not Red) is showing lustful emotions is rather...awkward. Considering that the Anime has done everything they can to prove that impossible and all.
    Oh yeah. Toshihiro Ono pretty much threw that part out the window. XD Ash lusts after pretty much everything with boobs. It's sort of hilarious. (Some shots, you'd have to remember the manga is being told from his perspective, so you end up seeing panels of girls' chests and legs and realize this is what Ash is focusing on.)

    This is why I don't play many online games anymore. Seriously, game developers, if I wanted a four letter word that rhymes with corn...I would TYPE THAT INTO A SEARCH ENGINE. Do not invade the world of video games because it's not only distracting to the gamer, but it's most riddiculously unnecessary element in the whole dang thing. I have plenty of ways to look for that stuff if I really want to; I don't need it in any other aspect of my life.
    High five there. So much word. :/ That's part of the reason why I don't play, either (with the rest of the reasons being a whole list that would take forever to write). It's even worse if you're a girl and looking for a reasonable avatar to represent you. Your choices, if you don't want to walk around a gaming world looking and being treated like a sex object, are "play as a dude" and "play as one of the joke races." This is probably why, when I last played WoW, my only two mains were one of the cowpeople and a gnome. Joke races. :| And even the joke races sort of sexualized the females a little. (Why, armor? Why?)

    At least with some of the crackier games (hello, MapleStory), you didn't have that. Unless you were really trying.

    But anyway.

    That also could be because it was hinted she was forcefully uploaded.
    Okay, good point there. XD

    I think I may be out of it because I really have no idea what you mean
    You know how anime!Bill does his research by going around in costumes figuring out what Pokémon are like? In my headcanon, he gets high to figure out some of the tougher ones.

    Unless he feels like taking a bullet from Ellen's overprotective girlfriend: Veronica.

    I don't know why, but I can't help but seeing those two in a relationship. Maybe because they have opposite personalities and are both from clone families.
    XDDD It's okay. I ship them too. I just haven't had a chance to bring out their relationship.

    In fact, there's a list for this too!

        Spoiler:- Really, Jax?:


    Funny story about how I laughed when I imagined Bill saying Magmar's Japanese name in front of Lanette.
    He would be slapped so hard. XD

    Well, unless John is really a Pokemon in disguise with the ability "Parthenogenesis", I guess it would be safe to assume Bill had a mother. Now we just need to find out the species. It's a Cacturne, right? They're in the human-like egg group and sort of have green hair.
    XDDD Imagining Cactune doing the dirty makes me want to cross my legs.

    But seriously, if anyone's really curious about Bill's mother, I wrote up a headcanon-filled profile for her here. Which reminds me that I should probably write up another extra because it's been weeks, hasn't it?

    I can't stay turned on forever either.
    You can't drum it that long either? ;D

    I'm happy things are winding down for you. I, on the other hand, still feel the characters from "The Birds". A million things are flying at me at once, and barricading my windows doesn't seem to work well.
    Thanks, but oh goodness. ;_; Finals month sucks, amirite? But still, good luck with everything! You can do it!

    Let's go for 300!!! Then I can spam images of a certain Jack Snyder movie.
    Well, we have only fifty more posts until the thread itself reaches 300. ;D

    Bill….my buddy, my pal….I really hate to tell you this but…a lot of things can bring you to your knees. I think all it would take is Lanette telling you to sit.
    Haha, pretty much. XD

    Hmm…took me a while to figure out which intern was which. I guess because I was under the impression that he was led inside by the first mentioned intern in the chapter.
    Yeeeeah, I seriously need to edit that bit. x_x Sorry about that. I'm not sure if I managed to clarify that part when I put it on FFNet, but if I didn't, I'll double-check when I'm prepping the edited version for this thread and try to fix it up.

    Team Rocket: They may be horrible, ruthless, and willing to go to any lengths to steal your hard trained Pokémon, but you cannot deny they observe good dental care.
    Their benefits package is amazing.

    I’m sorry, but all I could think about was: She eats James?
    XD Who doesn't in that organization?

    O.O She’s the one isn’t she?! I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT!

    I knew that guy snooping around the starter towns who kept spouting “technology is amazing” was really a Rocket member in disguise. Leave it to Team Rocket’s expert con artist to come up with a way to spy on the labs without too much attention drawn.
    High five for noticing that. XD

    I had something else for this chapter but it will have to wait until I can get images to work for me again.
    Alas, when Serebii upgraded to vB 4, it disabled the ability to post images for whatever reason. ._. We're stuck pretty much linking to them.

    My my, Cassidy. I always knew you were forceful type, but you could have at least have bought the poor guy dinner first.
    XD ^ Summarizes most of Team Rocket's relationship with Bill.

    Because of the beedrill reference, I keep thinking about his hand hurting and not his chest. XD
    That's actually a good point. I never thought of that. O_o I'll definitely consider taking it out when I'm doing the preps for posting the edits here.

    I like how you depict Team Rocket as a group of baddies trying to do nefarious super-evils, but fail horribly at the specifics (such as “keeping Bill alive and untainted for future purposes”). After all, just about every Rocket in the anime (or at least the ones we know about) fail horribly at what they try to accomplish.
    Thank you! Part of my aim in this fic was to write a dark fic that still nods heavily to the anime canon, and attempting to capture Team Rocket's animeverse "spirit" (for lack of a way to put it without sounding crazy) was one of the ways I tried to do it.

    That guy did so much, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I’m going to go with “What is Firefly?”
    XD DING DING DING.

    To be specific, the Pandora Tape was inspired and partly based on the R. Tam Sessions.


    And with that said, hopefully, the next chapter will be finished soon. Working as hard as I can on everything, folks! o>

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

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  3. #253
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    Review time, whaaaaattt!!!

    Lol, its taken me awhile but I'm here. I'm very glad I took the time to read your fic. It expanded on my ideas and sci-fi and the directions you can take the world of Pokemon into. Most of the reviews I do are chapter by chapter, and I can be really precise, but your fic has so many chapters, and really has so many points to cover that I'm going to skip that. Instead, I'm going to try and hit specific points that I liked, disliked, etc. In my rambling, poorly worded summary of your amazing fic, I hope Im able to tell you what it said to me (though I'm sure I'm going to fail miserably haha). So if this seems somewhat jumpy and poorly worded, I apologize lol

    First off, the sleep powder laced flower. Very nice addition. I've always been obsessed with taking Pokemon moves further and somehow weaponizing them for humns. Stun spore bombs, dragonbreath land mines, fire blast trap doors! I like that you're able to think outside the box and show that if this world was real, things like this would happen all the time. I've seen things like this in other fics before, so its by no means new to me, but I feel like you presented it very well. It fit the character nicely, and is totally 'Rocket' style.

    Another bit I really liked was the fact that Bill, Oak, and crew experimented on Pokemon. Using the Rattata to test the aliens reactions and time their consumption times was brilliant. Real world experimentation goes on all the time. Pigs, monkeys, rats, etc, nothing is immune when it comes to humans trying to make sure we're safe from this or that. So many fics I read nowadays are so afraid to treat Pokemon as anything less than 'darling friends and life partners', but they cn be less. Later on when you had Bill eat a Zigzagoon was another part that stoof out for me. Pokemon eat, and alot of them eat meat, so why is it shown in your fic and not in as many others? Because you're not afraid to cross that line, and I love it. The eating, and experimentation were awesomely realistic touches. good job!

    Besides the very rare comma mistake or incorrectly spelled word, your grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure are all superbly done. Great job on that, as I know that you're aware that good grammar goes a long way in creating a story that everyone can relate to. BTW, I like the way you go back and edit every chapter to fix things. It shows that you can accept criticism and can LISTEN to what other people suggest (which is becoming increasingly now rareadays in some forums I visit >.>

    Just to touch on Bill's, and to a lesser extent, Lanette's transformation, I think they were great. Especially Bill's. I felt like I was there when I was reading it. I could watch the events play out in my head so clearly that your reading was barely required. You gave me the start, and described it, and I let my mind just run wild with it. Not only are they wonderfully and grotesquely described, but they feel real. I hurt when the characters did, I want to cry when they do, especially when it comes to a surgeons hand getting sliced off, or seeing a metal exoskeleton inside you.

    The grey forest is a great addition too! I've always liked the thought of a deep part of someone's mind that they can ask questions, run, get attacked, blah blah blah. Bill's bits with Adam are really nice, as it reaffirms that they are seperate (More than once as I was reading, I started thinking of them as so close they were one person with a primary name, Bill. And a nickname, Adam). The bit where Adam goes "You'll never reach the end", was really nice. I've always wanted to be a seperate entity in my own mind and thoughts, and Adam commenting that Bill will never reach the end almost brought me to tears for some reason. Not sure why, but it feels hopeless when he's in that forest. I know he comes out of it everytime, but its still sad to me (In a depressingly beautiful kind of way)

    When you were talking about the ship incident in Johto, it really reminded me of the scenes from 'World War Z', and 'The Passage'. Not that I'm comparing your work to their's, but it was quite similar. Mainly in the sense that your's and their's are EXTREMELY well written and informative. I felt the tragedy when I realized that the ship was doomed, and before you even wrote it, what it meant for the people of Hoenn that were left behind. I hope that makes sense lol

    Spinda kicks so much ***! She is BY FAR my favorite trainer owned Pokemon the fic. To be honest, I've never really much cared for Spinda in the games or the anime. I've always thought of them as weak, and frankly kind of uninteresting. You've changed all of that for me. The power it demonstrated was so epic I really wanted it to continue. You definately owe me a Fic with solely Spinda's in it after this story is over. Even if I'm your only reader, it's completely worth. Rock Tomb really tuck out for me when I saw Spinda use it, so much so that I went back and read it several times. On that note, the Pokemon moves you describe are always very well done. They seem realistic and appropriate for when they are used, and you really do have a talent when it comes to the pacing of a battle and how its described. Great job!

    Main wise, Adam is my favorite. Seriously, once Bill man's up (and I know he is slowly starting to do so) I'll give him another go, but for the moment, Adam is the standout. From his cold calculating start, to the way he slowly starts to use sarcasm and jokes, he always stood out. His struggle with Bill, almost from the stance of an annoyed parent, ha really appealed to me. One thing that does bother me about him are his motives. When it comes to Bill and Earth, I'm starting to formulate theories of my own, but when it comes to Nila, I am still somewhat confused. I can tell he's good at heart (though I secretly hope he's not, haha) I don't think there has been enough explanation to justify him going out of his way to protect the Relian's and their way of life. While obviously noble and brave, I want to know his motives behind it. Obviously you have to keep some things back (even now I feel like I'm only scraping the surface of him), but when it goes into his backstory, I just feel somewhat unfufilled.

    I really didn't hit on ALL the points I wanted to, mainly becuase I'm extremely sleepy, but I got the main ones out that I thought were important. If you noticed, there really is nothing I don't like about your fic. Except a hiccup here and there with a word I would have used differently, or a different one altogether, IMO there is nothing wrong with it. Your pacing is perfect, your description is brilliant, and your characters are relateable. Which are the three things I look for in every fic. You've really pushed the edge of how violent and real I thought Pokemon could be. Along with mixing Pokemon with pretty much the best parts of every science fiction movie I've ever enjoyed. You've done something really great with this fic, and I'm really glad I took the time to read it.

    PM list please!

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  4. #254
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    *clings to you* ;_; You mentioned you were going to a con and then weeks of inactivity! I was like, "Oh goodness, something happened, didn't it?" Because my mind is totally overdramatic like that.
    Oh...that...*sweat drop* I sometimes get depressed and when that happens I tend to drop everything. Sorry about that. It's kind of a sudden thing that comes and goes for me.

    It's okay. Take your time. The next chapter has been moving at a snail's pace. XD; Hopefully, though, it'll be finished by the weekend.
    Hopefully I'll have plenty of time over the summer to catch up. ;_;


    In fact, there's a list for this!
    :-D ...I love it when you do lists.

        Spoiler:- Is this really even necessary?:




    ...*twitch*

    Oh yeah. Toshihiro Ono pretty much threw that part out the window. XD Ash lusts after pretty much everything with boobs. It's sort of hilarious. (Some shots, you'd have to remember the manga is being told from his perspective, so you end up seeing panels of girls' chests and legs and realize this is what Ash is focusing on.)
    ...Does he still have Anime!Ash's cluelessness and (sometimes) blatant stupidity? Because that combination ought to be gold.

    ...wait....what did Toshihiro do with Brock then? No wait....maybe I don't want to know.

    High five there. So much word. :/ That's part of the reason why I don't play, either (with the rest of the reasons being a whole list that would take forever to write). It's even worse if you're a girl and looking for a reasonable avatar to represent you. Your choices, if you don't want to walk around a gaming world looking and being treated like a sex object, are "play as a dude" and "play as one of the joke races."
    Speaking of which, what kind of dude would want to walk around in a gaming world where everything is just one big distraction? Seems to me that type of person doesn't have much of a life.

    This is probably why, when I last played WoW, my only two mains were one of the cowpeople and a gnome. Joke races. :| And even the joke races sort of sexualized the females a little. (Why, armor? Why?)
    What armor? Oh, you mean that puny thing. How is that logically going to protect anything like, oh I don't know, your character's heart? Really, if you're going to aim to make a game "more realistic," don't do things in halves.

    At least with some of the crackier games (hello, MapleStory), you didn't have that. Unless you were really trying.
    I'm shamefully addicted to Mabinogi, and that's only because my friend got me involved a few years back. I can't seem to cut the habit because the story is intriguing, the combat system is unique, and I appreciate the fact that your characters are customizable to the extreme. The female outfits are still pretty bad, but at least there are some options where your character doesn't look like a dancer from a shady club. Robes are amazing.

    I'm not even going to speak about Vindictus. "More realism" doesn't mean unrealistic chest bouncing and illogical armor selections. Also, a succubus boss where you tear off her clothing as you defeat her? Seriously? Wasn't it bad enough it was in Mabinogi? Did you seriously have to bring that back? Yeah...played Vindi for one week and never touched it since.

    I'm also angry that looking up Pokemon stuff in a search engine on "strict" still brings up stuff unsuitable for children. Is it really too hard to put even a subtle censor on it?

    Sorry...rambling again.

    You know how anime!Bill does his research by going around in costumes figuring out what Pokémon are like? In my headcanon, he gets high to figure out some of the tougher ones.
    So he gets high off of Gloom's fumes to get how a Gloom feels?


    XDDD It's okay. I ship them too. I just haven't had a chance to bring out their relationship.
    It's funny because I don't often ship same gender(not that I have anything against it, it's just never really been much of my "flavor" if you know what I mean).

    In fact, there's a list for this too!
    Yay! Keep the lists coming!

        Spoiler:- Really, Jax?:



    XDDD Imagining Cactune doing the dirty makes me want to cross my legs.
    It hurts so good?

    But seriously, if anyone's really curious about Bill's mother, I wrote up a headcanon-filled profile for her here. Which reminds me that I should probably write up another extra because it's been weeks, hasn't it?
    I always thought Bill's obsession for Eevelutions stems from his mom being a Kimono Girl (with all their Eevelutions). It makes me wonder whether or not this was put in the game on purpose.

    You can't drum it that long either? ;D
    Once upon a time I played percussion for band. Does that count?

    Thanks, but oh goodness. ;_; Finals month sucks, amirite? But still, good luck with everything! You can do it!
    I hope so. Istryingtogetonaresearchproject.

    There's something I've been wondering about after I'd read the Valentine's special...Sooooo if Bill were to use Attract on a mirror, would he infatiate himself with himself or (since I'm almost 99.999% sure it's Adam doing the attacking) would Bill become infatuated with Adam?

    Second question: Tate wouldn't happen to know a mirror-like move like Light Screen or something would he? >:-D

    Will respond to the rest soon!
    Fanfiction:
    The Twisted Child of Johto

    http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=543996

    Official from Oscars Thread ^

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  5. #255
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        Spoiler:- Responses!:


    In the meantime, GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE. Chapter 27 is getting sent off to my beta tonight, which means you should have it sometime before the weekend. In the meantime, how's about a new extra?



    Extra #2: lol WHAT Moveset Limits?
        Spoiler:- Extra #2: lol WHAT Moveset Limits?:
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 25th June 2012 at 7:51 PM.

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

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  6. #256
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    Thanks, and high five. I have to admit, one of the challenges with Domino is the fact that she doesn't use pokémon, so at times like this, I had to come up with something she would use. I'm glad it came out all right, though; if I said I didn't have fun with it, I'd be lying.
    That really was a toughie. I salute your ingenuity, because it turned out really well. Very inventive

    …Although I haven't read The Passage yet, and something tells me I should be ashamed of myself for that.
    Are you serious? From your writing style, I really think you'd like it. Its got my stamp of MAJOR approval for sure

    It's good that you noticed that. Keep that in mind because there's a reason for it. A completely evil (on my part) reason that you'll find out soon enough. *tents fingers*
    I can't wait. Seriously, I'm there with bells on


    And you are very welcome. This was a great treat for me, especially because I read most of it in my downtime at work, lol. It helped passed two very slow days. I eagerly await the next chapter

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

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  7. #257
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    That really was a toughie. I salute your ingenuity, because it turned out really well. Very inventive
    Thank you~!

    Are you serious? From your writing style, I really think you'd like it. Its got my stamp of MAJOR approval for sure
    Okay, it's totally going on my wishlist now. XD Thanks for the rec!

    I can't wait. Seriously, I'm there with bells on
    Luckily, you don't have to wait for long because my beta is awesomely fast. ;D In fact...



    Author's Notes: And by that, I mean "Hope McKenzie's Translation Corner."

    In today's episode chapter, most of what Hope says are actually lyrics from this song. Most of it is nonsense, then, except for a few lines. Meanwhile, the last thing she says in the chapter is simply, "It's going to rain."



    Anima Ex Machina: Twenty-Seven
    The war machine springs to life, opens up one eager eye.


    Hope kept her eyes closed, breathing in deep as she listened to the crowds. A smile crossed her face as she tilted her head upwards and allowed the heat of the lights to warm her skin. She slowly opened her eyes and examined the rows of seats all around her, the glittering display on the contest hall's screen, the wide-open space of the field, and the three judges standing before her. At her side, she felt Squirtle press against her legs, suddenly aware of the crowds for the first time that night.

    Part of her sympathized with him. It had taken her three contests to win, so with all the crowd's attention on both her and Squirtle – and on only them – she felt a little embarrassed by the flattery. Yet she didn't let it affect her. With her neck still craned, she took a deep breath and strode forward, approaching the judges with Squirtle trailing behind her.

    When she stood before the center judge, the one she knew as Mr. Contesta, the older man smiled broadly at her and accepted a box from the Nurse Joy standing beside him. Opening the lid, he tilted it forward to allow Hope to see the ribbon resting inside. Its golden crest and pink ribbon almost shimmered in the light. Hope's breath caught in her throat as her hand twitched; she wanted to reach for it but knew the etiquette of the contest hall all too well.

    But oh, how hard she worked to be able to hold that ribbon. It had been months since she left Johto, after all. Months of training. Months of losing. Months of learning.

    "This is your first ribbon, isn't it, Hope?" Mr. Contesta asked.

    Hope looked at her feet, clasped her hands in front of her, and smiled shyly. "Yes, sir."

    "I could tell by your enthusiasm. You put on quite a show, young lady. The creativity you've displayed on the battlefield today shows you've worked hard to earn victory. We're expecting great things from you."

    At his last words, Hope's cheeks burned with a blush, and her voice grew quieter. "Thank you, sir. I'm-I'm really… I'll do my best. But it's really Squirtle who deserves the congratulations."

    "Modesty is a good trait to have, but remember that every contest relies on the teamwork between a coordinator and her pokémon. You're both deserving of this award." Mr. Contesta's hand grasped the ribbon and drew it out of the box. "Hope, it's my pleasure to confer on you and Squirtle the Rustboro Ribbon. Congratulations to you both."

    The crowd went wild while Hope raised her eyes at last to the ribbon. Her hand moved from her side, inching upwards almost reluctantly. Eventually, her fingers clasped the satin and gold, and her blood pounded in her ears.

    Suddenly, everything went dark and silent except for Hope's own scream.

    She was running. Her squirtle wasn't by her side, and the ribbon was no longer pressed against her palm. The tall grass scratched at her knees and thighs as she tore past scrambling nincada. Behind her, she could hear several people. Most of the sounds that came from them were the rustling of grass and the huffing of running, but occasionally, Hope heard short screams, brief few seconds of different cries before their sources were silenced. She didn't dare look back. She didn't want to see what was making the growling and screeching that accompanied each short yell. Not when she knew they weren't that far away.

    A pair of arms scooped her up. She screamed, but a hand – a human hand – covered her mouth. Looking up, she saw the silhouette of a large, bald man. He looked frantically over his shoulder as he carried Hope to the trees edging the field of tall grass. Glancing over him, she could see what was pursuing them: dark creatures with long tails and glowing, red eyes.

    But more than that, she could see that they were fast – and, for that matter, that they were rapidly getting closer.

    The man pushed Hope up the tree. Her arms wrapped around the closest branch she could grab, and with some effort, she managed to pull the rest of her body onto it. As soon as she was safe, her companion reached for a branch to pull himself off the ground. He got no further than a few inches up the tree before the creatures – four in all – appeared seemingly out of nowhere to yank him off the trunk.

    Hope shrieked. It was the most natural thing she could think of doing as she watched the creatures descend on the man, ripping into his body with their sharp claws. That in turn saved him for a few precious moments. All four ixodida lifted their heads, their glowing eyes narrowing at the tree. One of them leapt at her, grabbed her leg, and pulled her down. She tried to cling to the branch, but the ixodida's grip was stronger. Her fingers slipped away from the bark, hands grasping at the air as she fell. Claws tore at her in mid-air, slashing through her clothing across her stomach and her arms. One of the ixodida's hands finally batted her away from the tree, flinging her to the ground next to the man. She hit it hard and instantly crumpled, her voice silenced as she turned her head. Next to her, she could see through the three other ixodida to the man's face. His eyes were wide and glazed over. His throat was torn open.

    But he blinked at her.

    The fourth ixodida joined its companions to tear at the man's torso and devour the slick, pink entrails. Hope could only watch, curled on her side as she cried quietly.

    She could barely hear the faint pop of a ball opening. She could barely register the flash of white light or the sound of a low growl. She couldn't even watch as a black and white blur leapt at her attackers or sank its teeth into one of their necks.

    All she could see was the face of the man.

    Blinking.

    ---

    Tate wasn't used to waking up in a cold sweat, so when he did at that point, he was momentarily confused by how cold and different the world was compared to his dreams. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest, even as he took several deep breaths to calm himself. Ellen, who sat between him and the van, looked down and placed a hand on his forehead.

    "It's good to see you awake," she said. "How are you feeling?"

    The psychic gingerly rubbed his eyes and groaned. "Never better."

    Ellen pressed her lips together for a second as she stood.

    "Chansey took care of your injuries, but wait here. I'm sure you'll need to feed to recover the rest of your energy," she told him.

    "Huh? Oh. Yeah, I guess so."

    The nurse gave him one last concerned glance before she turned and strode towards the truck. In the meantime, Tate sat up, swaying slightly as his head spin. Even as the time ticked on, the vision he had in his sleep – the girl, the ixodida, the blinking man – refused to fade. His thoughts lingered on it, and he struggled to figure out why he simply couldn't shake it until something caught his ear.

    "Pi po pa po pi po pa po pi po pa po pi po pa po…"

    Turning his head, Tate stopped. At the center of the clearing, beside the roaring fire, was the exact girl he had seen in his dreams. She sat, her eyes wide and on the flames, as her other hand slowly waxed the shell of the squirtle sitting in her lap. The pokémon itself looked relaxed and happy while his owner's hand worked a cloth in small circles across his shell. Even the song the girl was singing seemed light and happy, almost whimsical. It was just her face. The empty eyes, the slight frown, the sharp, gaunt edges of her cheeks. Tate shuddered as he looked at her, yet there was something about her. He could almost hear something else deep inside her – something that sounded like a whisper.

    "Pi po pa po pi po pa po kimi ni wa wakaru?"

    He leaned towards her, preparing to get up and move to her side, when a boot came down hard in front of him. Jolting out of his thoughts, he looked up at Lanette's stern face.

    "I need your assistance," she growled.

    Tate cringed, backing against the van. "Uh… my assistance?"

    "You're psychic, aren't you?"

    "Well, yeah, but—"

    "And, as an ixodida, you can sense others like you."

    Tate shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah."

    Lanette narrowed her eyes. "We're missing a member of our group."

    "What?" Tate sat up a little straighter. "You lost Bill?"

    "We did not lose him," she replied harshly. "The idiot wandered away on his own, and the other idiot did absolutely nothing to stop him."

    "In my defense, neither did Steven or Wallace!" Thom shouted.

    Without turning her head, Lanette shot him an icy glare out of the corner of her eye.

    "I'll shut up," he quickly responded.

    Lanette moved her eyes back to Tate, her expression melting into a slightly less cold look. "I need you to find him. He'll be of no use to us dead."

    "That may not be necessary," another voice chimed in.

    She cast a glance over her shoulder to see Vito approaching with a swellow flitting after him.

    "Swellow spotted a plume of smoke," he explained. "It's not far from here. Probably about a half an hour's drive from us directly to the west. That matches up with the last time and place Thom saw Bill."

    "You think he got into a fight already?" Lanette asked.

    "Could be. And Lanette." His expression darkened. "There's only so many types of pokémon that could produce smoke in the middle of a forest."

    She narrowed her eyes. Then, exhaling, she turned to the west and plucked a ball from her belt. "You. Ixodida."

    "I have a name!" Tate snapped.

    "If you don't help me get that idiot back safely, you won't need it," Lanette replied.

    Tate's eyes began to glow. "What?! Are you seriously threa—"

    Abruptly, the glow dissipated, and Tate swayed in his seat. Vito dropped to the boy's side and held him up. As if on cue, Ellen rushed to their side, dropping a small, plastic cooler as she knelt beside Tate as well. Her cool fingers wrapped around the boy's wrist, feeling for a pulse.

    "You shouldn't be so harsh towards him," Ellen told Lanette. "He's still recovering. I'm sorry, Lanette, but I don't think he can help you."

    Vito looked up at Lanette. For a few seconds, her face remained stony cold, and Vito was almost afraid that she would argue. However, she turned away from them at the last second.

    "Fine." Lifting her chin, she raised her voice and announced to the rest of the camp, "Wallace, I want you to stay here and look after Tate. You're his traveling companion. You're the one who's best for keeping an eye on him. Steven, I'll need your metagross and rock-types. We may be battling an ixodida." Then, she turned to Vito. "Vito, your alakazam knows Rain Dance, and your swellow can lead the way."

    He stood. "Are you sure you don't need me here?"

    Lanette started for the forest. "If that smoke was made by the fire-type that appeared around Mauville City, I'm going to need all the help I can get, but I need one of the champions to stay behind and watch over the psychic."

    "Excuse me?" Tate growled.

    She ignored him, simply focusing on heading towards the woods. Vito fell into step behind her, and a gust of wind beside her signaled that Steven arrived. She held out her hand and allowed the champion to pull her onto his metagross's back.

    "You're going out of your way to help him," he commented. "Change of heart?"

    Lanette paused for only a few seconds. After they passed, she spat, "Don't read into it. I'm only helping him because he promised he would look after his sister."

    Vito pulled himself onto the back of the pokémon, and as soon as he was safely onboard, the metagross shot into the woods. At the same time, Tate sat up on his own and looked towards the trees.

    "Sister?" he asked.

    Ellen pulled the cooler towards herself and opened the lid. "Didn't you know?"

    As she pulled a plastic container from the cooler, she nodded towards the fire. Tate accepted the container as he turned his head, following Ellen's gaze until his eyes fell on Hope. The girl was exactly where he left her, sitting by the fire and waxing her squirtle's shell. All the while, her soft voice continued weaving the same quiet song.

    "Pipopa-go shika ima hanasenai yo."

    "A sister," Tate repeated.

    He lowered his head. His fingers cracked open the container, and he stared at the raw meat inside. All he could think about was that word. Sister.

    "Liza."

    As if she heard, Hope's motions gradually slowed to a stop as her voice reached the last notes of her song.

    "Pi po pa po pi po pa po pi po pa yurushite."

    ---

    "Mirror Shot!"

    Bill, no!

    For the third time in the past several minutes, a bright, silver light exploded in the forest, sending Bill careening into a tree. His back slammed its trunk hard, and he fell into a heap at its foot. Groaning, he lifted his head and pulled one of his hands into view. The jewel in its palm fizzled and faded, and the remnant energies of one more failed Mirror Shot faded into the air.

    "What were the chances of taking my hands off with that move again?" he muttered.

    Increasing steadily the more you insist on using it. Bill, this is a serious battle. You cannot afford to wield a weapon you have not mastered.

    "We don't have a choice, Adam! He's too strong for anything else I've got!"

    "Correction, little rogue, you have a choice. A very simple one, in fact."

    Bill lifted his chin just in time to see the source of the voice. Prometheus glided forward, igniting every tree he passed on his way. He had been chasing Bill for the better part of the twenty minutes that had elapsed since the two of them met, but throughout that time, Prometheus went at his own pace, catching up to his quarry whenever the steel-type made the mistake of attempting Mirror Shot. Now, he hovered, waiting patiently for Bill to do one of two things: surrender or start flying again.

    Unfortunately, Bill had the bad habit of being immensely predictable.

    "I'm not going anywhere with you," he growled. "Magnet Rise!"

    Golden light swirled around Bill's body as he sprang off the ground and launched into a low flight path. Prometheus was ready for this. He held up a hand, palm facing his opponent, as the flames dancing across his skin grew larger and brighter. His entire hand became engulfed in a bright, blue fire that centered on a swirling ball hovering in front of his palm. With a boom, the orb exploded into a stream of blue light that tore through the air. Trees instantly burst into towering infernos the moment the stream touched them, and as Prometheus glided through the forest after his prey, he moved his arm to sweep his surroundings.

    Although Bill flew as quickly as he could, the jet shot directly over him, engulfing multiple trees just in front of him. A strangled yelp escaped his throat as he twisted in the air to avoid hitting fire. In an attempt to slow himself down, he hit the ground with a knee and both sets of claws, sliding towards the trees until he stopped just short of the flames. The golden aura around his body flickered, and his translucent wings drooped as he knelt. Already, the heat was getting to him. Shaking, his body lowered close to the ground as he began to pant. His metal skin began to burn against his muscles, and it took all of his power not to scream. Prometheus landed and strode forward as his entire form erupted into brilliant, orange flames. Bill winced and buckled a little more under the added heat.

    "Struggling to stand the heat, little rogue?" Prometheus sneered. "I can keep this up all day, long after you collapse. Why not give up now and save yourself the pain?"

    "Your empress," Bill panted. "Your empress wants me alive, doesn't she?"

    Prometheus shrugged. "Of course. But she never said anything about bringing you to her unharmed."

    At that, Bill cringed. "Oh. I… I d-didn't think about that."

    He crawled backwards, his wings spasming against his back as he stared at the flames surrounding Prometheus. The fire-type flicked his tail but stood his ground, waiting for the rogue's response.

    Well, Bill. Now would be a good time for a plan. I assume you have one, Adam quipped.

    Bill dug his claws into the ground and glanced from Prometheus to the trees around him. As he gazed through the flaming branches to the sky, a smirk played across his face.

    "I do," he said. "First, let's put out a few fires."

    His golden aura flared again, and he pushed off the ground to launch himself straight into the air. Drawing his limbs close, he summoned a green barrier of light just before unfurling himself and shooting through the fires to the forest canopy. Watching him, Prometheus tilted his head.

    "Do you truly believe you can escape me? Perhaps this will be a bit more interesting than the Lady of Frost made it seem," he said.

    With that, he extended his flaming wings and shot through the forest canopy.

    ---

    In the clearing, Hope looked towards the sky. She squinted, studying the black clouds as they trailed across the clearing.

    "Ame ga furu," she murmured.

    Scooping her squirtle into her arms, she dashed towards the forest, heading in the same direction Lanette, Steven, and Vito had taken. Tate, who had been watching her for the past several minutes, perked up.

    "Hey!" he cried after her. "Hey! Wait!"

    He stood and took a step towards the trees, but he went no further before Ellen jumped to her own feet and grabbed him by the collar.

    "And where do you think you're going, young man?" she snapped.

    Turning, he flashed his eyes at her. The air rippled as rings of psychic energy ebbed from Tate to Ellen. Unable to look away, Ellen let her eyes lock onto Tate's before she began to sway on her feet. Within seconds, she let go of him and began to drop. A blue aura surrounded her body, and slowly and gently, she came to rest on the ground. As soon as she was safe, Tate snapped out of his psychic trance and leaned against the van. Gingerly, he held his head and shut one of his eyes. The other glanced in the direction of the forest.

    "Wallace!" he called. "C'mon!"

    Before he could explain, Tate dashed after Hope. The water-type champion, who sat by the fire, raised his eyebrows before getting up and starting after Tate. Behind him, Veronica and Thom leapt from the truck. Veronica immediately ran across the clearing to Ellen's side.

    "What's going on here?!" Veronica demanded.

    "I don't know, but stay here," Wallace replied.

    As Veronica carefully knelt to pull Ellen into her arms, Thom stopped and stood. Neither of them could say a word while Wallace ran into the forest after the children.

    ---

    High above the forest, Bill swooped to dodge a fireball. As soon as it passed him, he twisted in the air and shot back towards the atmosphere. Behind him, Prometheus soared, looping and bobbing through the air in a stubborn attempt to keep up with his opponent. Every so often, Bill looked back to ensure that Prometheus was still there or to block a fireball with Protect.

    I hope that you do not take this to mean that I do not trust you, Adam said, but what exactly are you doing?

    "You can't tell?" Bill asked.

    No.

    Smirking, Bill looked above him. The blue sky was thinning out, and he was already beginning to see the sparkle of stars just beyond the planet's atmosphere. He didn't dare look down, and he didn't dare stop. The cold air felt welcome against his skin, as did the fact that it was getting harder and harder to breathe. At least the latter meant that Prometheus was following him right into his trap.

    "There are only two things a fire needs," Bill explained through short breaths. "Something to burn and…"

    He could feel the heat of a fireball rush by his shoulder, but by the time it passed him, it was already barely an ember. It fizzled out a short distance away from him, which signaled him to stop. Carefully, he turned around to face Prometheus, who hovered silently close by. The flames that had once danced across the ixodida's body were now out, leaving behind nothing but the creature's bright, red skin.

    "Oxygen," Bill finished. "Let's talk."

    "Talk?" Prometheus repeated.

    Bill nodded. Although the air protected him from Prometheus's flames, it meant that every second, he struggled for oxygen. Because of that, he knew that every word had to count, and when he spoke, it was slowly and haltingly.

    "Yes. I want to know. Why me?"

    Prometheus stared at the steel-type for a long while. Then, a shadow of a smile flickered across the creature's face. Just as quickly as it appeared, it vanished, leaving behind a blank expression that unnerved Bill more than usual.

    "Why you? Why are we after you?" Prometheus asked. "Do you truly not know?"

    "No," Bill growled, struggling to maintain his neutral expression.

    "Oh, little rogue," Prometheus sighed. "Her Majesty simply wants to speak with you."

    "Why?"

    Prometheus craned his neck. "Why? Why, because somewhere out there, there is one of my kind who prefers manifesting itself as a steel-type rogue. This creature… it is a troubling monster. A creature responsible for the downfall of our peaceful little moon."

    "But why do you want to take me to your empress in that case?" Bill demanded. "Why not just kill me?"

    "Believe me, little one, I have asked the same thing every passing moment since I was assigned to collect you." Prometheus extended his arms. "Now then. Will you surrender?"

    Breathing as deeply as he could, Bill tensed his body, balling his hands into fists as he stared hard at Prometheus. So far, step one had him lead Prometheus to a place where his fire powers would be useless, and step two entailed coaxing some semblance of answers out of the ixodida. With each breath, Bill began to feel lightheaded, and the longer he remained there, the harder it was to come up with a step three. Unfortunately, if he wanted to get out of that situation alive without leading Prometheus to the Caravan, he knew he was going to have to come up with something else. At long last, he extended his claws. He knew he was working with a type disadvantage and that Prometheus's type could resist the strongest attacks he had in his arsenal. Because of that, he prayed that he was right about the thin air severely limiting what Prometheus could do.

    "No," he finally said.

    "No?" Prometheus responded.

    "I'm not going with you," Bill told him. "You can't force me, either. Up here, I have the advantage."

    Prometheus quirked an eyebrow. "And what advantage is that?"

    Bill held up his claws. All of them began to glow with a bright, white light. Behind him, his tail curled, and the arrowhead took on a silver aura of its own.

    "I can still attack," he told the fire-type. "I'm giving you one warning. Stand down and leave me alone, or I'll resort to force."

    Prometheus tilted his head. "Little one, if I could laugh, I would. I will give you my compliments, though. You are smart enough to know how to disable many of my powers. However… you forget one thing."

    Bill refused to falter. His hands quivered briefly, but the glow remained. All he did to betray a sense of uncertainty was narrow his eyes as he focused his gaze on Prometheus.

    "What's that?" he asked.

    Prometheus held out both of his hands. "I can strike with more than just fire."

    He lunged at Bill, claws out. Instinctively, Bill flinched drawing his arms in front of his face to intercept Prometheus's attack. The light from his claws faded, but as a trade-off, his tail stiffened and shone with a bright, silver shimmer. Swinging it around, he struck Prometheus in the side, throwing the fire-type away from him. Prometheus dropped through the air for a few seconds before catching himself. His eyes rose to find Bill swooping away from him with a faint, blue light flashing across his body before his aura turned bottle-green and back to gold.

    The Lord of Flames flexed his claws and dove at the other ixodida again. His hand latched around the steel-type's tail and yanked him backwards. Ignoring the sharp wail his prey emitted, Prometheus pulled back his fist and readied his next strike. Although the flames he was used to producing were reduced to nothing but faint sparks in the thin atmosphere, his fingers began to glow red with heat just before he rocketed his fist into Bill's stomach while the other hand released him. To finish off the assault, one of the fire-type's feet slammed into the same spot as orange sparks crackled across his red skin.

    Flipping through the air, Bill's aura began to flicker. Pain radiated through him from the point where Prometheus struck, and the wind that rushed past him as he plummeted made it difficult to straighten himself out. Luckily for him, Prometheus snatched his arm, yanking him out of a free fall. As if acting on instinct, the rogue responded by slashing across the fire-type's cheek with a set of glowing claws before jamming his feet against his opponent's stomach and springing away. His golden aura reignited, and with his second wind, Bill quickly cut through the air to put distance between himself and Prometheus. At the same time, Prometheus righted himself and growled.

    You are doing very well, Adam commented, but we cannot run forever.

    Bill glanced behind him, scanning for his opponent. "You're right. We're not. Need to wear him down. Much easier to fight in that case."

    He closed his eyes. With the pain still throbbing across his torso and the oxygen still running low, his vision began to blur, and it felt like the world was spinning.

    It seems like you are getting more worn out than he is. Perhaps it would be best to change tactics.

    For a second time, he felt Prometheus's grasp, but this time, the Lord of Flames wrapped his arms around the steel-type's neck, jerking his victim out of a free fall jarringly. Bill's eyes opened wide as his fingers scratched and dug into Prometheus's arms.

    "I will ask you one more time," Prometheus growled, ignoring the lacerations on his arms. "Will you surrender?"

    "N-never!" Bill croaked.

    Prometheus clicked his tongue. "Very well."

    Loosening his arms, Prometheus let the steel-type slide out of his grip until his red claws snatched one of Bill's arms. His free hand pulled back into another sparking fist just before it crashed down against his victim's temple. Then, he watched as Bill dropped, as the steel-type's golden aura faded away and as his golden wings fizzled into a shower of sparks.

    Lingering in the air, Prometheus waited for his quarry to pick himself back up. When Bill simply continued to fall, the fire-type took this as a signal and swooped after him. For a third time, he drew his opponent into his arms, stopping him once more from falling.

    "And now?" he asked.

    His opponent lifted its head slowly and turned to look directly at him. Its eyes were open, but its face was completely devoid of expression. Tilting its chin back, it twisted in Prometheus's arms and placed a hand against his chest.

    "Give my regards to Her Majesty," Adam hissed.

    A flash of white light burst from Adam's palm, blasting Prometheus away from it. The fire-type, unable to regain control over his flight path thanks to the force of the point-blank Mirror Shot, sailed in a long arc back towards the forest. At the same time, Adam, barely conscious, began falling in a curved path towards the black clouds of smoke. Through half-open eyes, it saw the glimmer of a blue ball burst among the smoke, turning the black smog into gray storm clouds. As it punched through the topmost layer of gray, only one thought ran through its head, a thought that spilled across its lips in barely a whisper.

    "You… you idiot."

    ---

    Fat raindrops struck and rolled across Lanette's eyeglasses as she stared into the sky. Behind her, Steven and Vito stood, craning their necks as they examined the rainstorm right alongside Lanette. With a nod, Vito held up a poké ball to the alakazam standing beside him.

    "Good work, Alakazam. Take a rest," he said.

    The fox-like pokémon nodded and disappeared into the ball with a flash of red. Pocketing it, Vito turned to face the forest straight ahead, watching as the forest blaze flickered orange and yellow not far away. The group had stopped when it was not much more than a soft glow several feet away. Now, they could feel its heat. They waited for several minutes, watching the inferno creep to a halt, as if uncertain about licking the trees between them and it.

    "It's slowing down," Vito said. "What now?"

    "We wait," Lanette responded.

    The men exchanged glances as Lanette lowered her gaze to the fires. Her hand drifted to the pouches on her belt, and her fingers snaked into one of them to feel for a poké ball. She remained quiet as she watched the flames die down and as she listened for something important.

    "Lanette," Vito said, "what if he's… I mean, if he's in there, then…"

    "Then he's what, Vito?" Lanette asked, her voice low and quiet.

    "I think what he means to say is he's a steel-type," Steven said.

    "I know that."

    "I know you do," Vito replied quickly. "It's just a little unusual for you to go through all this trouble, isn't it?"

    "Are you suggesting that we let him die?"

    "What? No!" Vito shook his head. "It's just… I'm worried about you, Lanette. This isn't like you."

    She looked over her shoulder, her eyes scrutinizing Vito carefully. He pressed his lips at her gaze and looked towards the forest.

    "I mean," he said, "if you needed anything, you know you could come to me, right?"

    Her gaze softened slightly. "I appreciate the offer, Vito. There is absolutely nothing wrong, I assure you. But as I've said…" She turned her head towards the forest. "He promised that he would look after that girl."

    "And you trust him?"

    "No. But he may be exactly what she needs to heal."

    Vito sighed. "I really hope you're right."

    Steven watched the two of them carefully, eyeing Lanette in particular. He saw her head tilt downward and her body slacken slightly, and though he couldn't see her expression, he had a feeling it wasn't the same stony look she always seemed to have on her face.

    Before he could speculate any further, a bird's trill broke the silence. Looking up, all three humans spotted Vito's swellow circling above them. At once, Lanette launched forward, her boots squelching in the mud.

    "Let's go!" she called.

    Trilling in response, the bird swooped beneath the canopy and darted between the trees, leading the red-head through the forest and dying fires. The men dashed after her, calling out for her to slow down. She paid no attention to them, however, as she ran after the bird. Her lungs burned with effort and smoke, and her feet sank into the mud with each step. Yet, she refused to slow or stop. With each passing second, her mind focused on only one thought, repeated over and over until it became a mantra.

    Please be alive. Please be alive. Please be alive.

    Eventually, she broke through to a patch of forest where the trees grew further apart. Even here, the canopy and trunks flickered with the last flames as the rain continued to pound the earth. Swellow flitted between the trees carefully until he circled an indented patch of mud. After a few moments to catch her breath, Lanette ran forward to find a figure half-buried in the mud and lying face-down. She stood over the figure for a long while before nudging him with her boot until he rolled over onto his back.

    "Lanette!" Vito called.

    She looked towards the sky briefly before throwing a glance towards her companions. "Over here! I found him!"

    Vito and Steven ran forward until they stood beside Lanette. Together, all three of them gazed down at the body lying on the ground.

    "He looks like he's in bad shape," Vito said. "Is he…"

    Lanette knelt beside the ixodida. "I don't know."

    She pressed her fingers against Bill's neck, feeling the patch of flesh between his head and the metal plating running down his throat. Carefully, she undid the topmost buttons of his shirt, just enough to peer down it. Underneath the fabric, she could see the parasite core, flashing red in time with the beating of a heart.

    "He has a pulse, and his core is still here," Lanette noted. "If he was dead, the parasite would have abandoned him by now."

    Standing, she glanced at her gray-haired companion.

    "Steven, call out metagross again. We'll need—"

    She stopped short as soon as she felt something grasp her ankle. Calmly, she looked down to see the ixodida lying on his side, his hand circling her leg as he looked into the mud.

    "Oh good," she said. "You're awake. That will make things easier. Can you walk, or will we need to carry you back to the Caravan?"

    He turned his head slightly, and his voice hissed something that Lanette couldn't hear over the sound of the rain.

    "What was that?" she asked harshly. Yanking her ankle out of his grasp, she knelt to his level. "Speak up. Go on. You pester me incessantly about friendship, you wander off, you force me to search a burning forest for you… I'm certain you have something to say for yourself, so go on! Say it!"

    He lifted his head and stared at her with an expressionless face. She froze, her glare faltering.

    "Feed," he whispered. "Must… feed."

    Slowly, Lanette began to stand up. As soon as she reached half her full height, however, the ixodida sprang to life, leaping at her and pinning her down. It bared its teeth with a hiss as its claws pinned her arms to the ground. Right away, Vito and Steven jumped to action, pulling poké balls from their belts and throwing them into the air. With twin bursts of white light, two pokémon materialized beside their masters: an aggron and Vito's alakazam.

    "Aggron, get that ixodida off her!" Steven ordered.

    Grunting, the iron armor pokémon reached down and yanked the ixodida into the air. In response, the alien opened its mouth as its fangs began to glow white. An ear-piercing screech tore from its throat while faint, blue rings of air ripped from its mouth to wash over aggron and the alakazam. The aggron roared. His bulky paws released the ixodida and moved to his head as he writhed at the Metal Sound. In the same moment, the ixodida landed on all fours on the forest floor and scrambled towards the alakazam, leaping on to the psychic-type within seconds. It opened its mouth with another hiss and sank its teeth into the fox's shoulder. Screaming in response, the alakazam engulfed his body with a blue aura before telekinetically tossing the creature into a burnt trunk yards away. The monster dropped to the foot of the tree and growled before scrambling back towards the pokémon on all fours.

    "Aggron, stop him!" Steven snapped. "Use Thunder!"

    Bellowing once again, Aggron lifted his head to the sky as sparks danced across his metal skin. A twisting ball of yellow energy appeared between the three horns on his head, growing quickly in size as the sparks became a flickering, yellow aura. Once the ixodida was halfway back towards the group, Aggron tilted his head down, ground his feet into the mud, and jerked his head. A lightning bolt flashed between the earth, the sky, and his horns just before the yellow orb hovering over his head exploded into a massive beam of electricity. It slammed into the rampaging ixodida head-on, throwing it off its claws and slamming it clear through the burnt trunk. The dead tree creaked and snapped, and with a roar, it came crashing down in the space between the aggron and his opponent.

    For a long while, there was only the sound of the rain. Vito stooped by his alakazam to assess its condition silently. At the same time, Steven helped Lanette to her feet, and the red-head leaned against the champion. Then, there was a rustle, followed by a scream.

    "Get ready," Steven said.

    The other two humans nodded. Rising to his feet, Vito balled his hands into fists, his thoughts flicking through all of alakazam's possible attacks. By his side, Lanette drew her crowbar and crouched in a fighting stance. Seconds later, the ixodida rushed towards them on all fours again.

    This time, just as it was about to leap onto the alakazam for a second time, its body took on a blue aura and whipped into the air. An unseen force slammed the steel-type into a tree and let it drop with a thud back onto the muddy ground. Hesitating, all three humans turned in time to see Tate lower his hand as the blue glow in his eyes faded. Next to him stood Hope, clutching a squirming Squirtle to her chest like a doll. Wallace quickly approached behind them.

    "Is everything all right?" he asked.

    "You were about to miss all the fun," Steven replied.

    "What happened?"

    "It's Bill," Vito said. "He's gone berserk!"

    As if on cue, the feral ixodida rose to its feet again. It narrowed its eyes at the troupe as a low growl rumbled from its throat. Tate only needed to glance at him to know exactly what was wrong.

    "He's starving," Tate said. "He's trying to find something to feed on so he can heal."

    "What do you expect us to do? Let him kill and eat us?" Lanette snapped.

    Tate shook his head. "No. We've just got to knock him out or something!"

    Once more, the ixodida lunged, heading towards alakazam for a third time. Before he could lay a claw on him, Hope flinched and screamed. Instantly, the ixodida skidded to a halt, resting his hands on the psychic fox's shoulders. Its expressionless façade broke into a mixture of confusion and weariness. Bill blinked several times, glancing from the alakazam to his sister.

    "Hope?" he whispered.

    A crowbar cracked against his skull. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as he slipped to the side and fell onto the forest floor. Lanette stood over him, glaring at his unconscious form for a second time. Then, she held up the Master Ball, cracking it open to recall the ixodida in a flash of red light.

    "Idiot," she muttered.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 18th April 2012 at 7:43 PM.

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

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  8. #258
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Considering how many dirty thoughts are in there, that may not be a good idea. Huzzah, closet readers! \o/
    So a dirty mind helps you write fanfiction, huh?
    I’m not sure that this will be much of a review, since there’s not a lot that needs fixing in your work, but there are a few highlights.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Suddenly, everything went dark and silent except for Hope's own scream.
    Peace and triumph never seem to last long around these parts.
    I did like how you described the Contest Hall, though. I think the juxtaposition of the nice and safe Hall makes the switch back to the story’s more usual setting helps keep the alien attack scenes fresh.

    But he blinked at her.
    Well that’s . . . unnerving.

    She could barely hear the faint pop of a ball opening. She could barely register the flash of white light or the sound of a low growl. She couldn't even watch as a black and white blur leapt at her attackers or sank its teeth into one of their necks.
    A black and white blur to the rescue. Is this what you meant by “something that will make Absol happy”?

    "We did not lose him," she replied harshly. "The idiot wandered away on his own, and the other idiot did absolutely nothing to stop him."

    "In my defense, neither did Steven or Wallace!" Thom shouted.

    Without turning her head, Lanette shot him an icy glare out of the corner of her eye.

    "I'll shut up," he quickly responded.
    This part made me laugh.

    "You think he got into a fight already?" Lanette asked.
    It’s Bill. Have you seen the luck this guy’s been having the past few days/weeks? Come to think of it, how long has it been now?

    She narrowed her eyes. Then, exhaling, she turned to the west and plucked a ball from her belt. "You. Ixodida."

    "I have a name!" Tate snapped.

    "If you don't help me get that idiot back safely, you won't need it," Lanette replied.
    At least Bill’s not the only one she treats like this. Look out for crowbars, Tate.

    "You're going out of your way to help him," he commented. "Change of heart?"

    Lanette paused for only a few seconds. After they passed, she spat, "Don't read into it. I'm only helping him because he promised he would look after his sister."
    Whatever you say, Lanette. Whatever you say.

    "Sister?" he asked.

    Ellen pulled the cooler towards herself and opened the lid. "Didn't you know?"
    Guess the Caravan hasn’t had much time for small talk.

    "Your empress," Bill panted. "Your empress wants me alive, doesn't she?"

    Prometheus shrugged. "Of course. But she never said anything about bringing you to her unharmed."

    At that, Bill cringed. "Oh. I… I d-didn't think about that."
    Ah, poor Bill.

    Before he could explain, Tate dashed after Hope. The water-type champion, who sat by the fire, raised his eyebrows before getting up and starting after Tate. Behind him, Veronica and Thom leapt from the truck. Veronica immediately ran across the clearing to Ellen's side.
    Just a nitpick, and it might just be me, but I was sort of thrown off by the term “water-type champion” when I first read through. For a moment I thought you were saying Wallace was a water-type, rather than someone who specializes in water-types. Maybe it’s just me, though.

    As Veronica carefully knelt to pull Ellen into her arms, Thom stopped and stood. Neither of them could say a word while Wallace ran into the forest after the children.
    Poor Wallace: from Hoenn’s champion to babysitter in an alien-plagued region.
    I hope that you do not take this to mean that I do not trust you, Adam said, but what exactly are you doing?

    "You can't tell?" Bill asked.

    No.

    Smirking, Bill looked above him. The blue sky was thinning out, and he was already beginning to see the sparkle of stars just beyond the planet's atmosphere. He didn't dare look down, and he didn't dare stop. The cold air felt welcome against his skin, as did the fact that it was getting harder and harder to breathe. At least the latter meant that Prometheus was following him right into his trap.

    "There are only two things a fire needs," Bill explained through short breaths. "Something to burn and…"

    He could feel the heat of a fireball rush by his shoulder, but by the time it passed him, it was already barely an ember. It fizzled out a short distance away from him, which signaled him to stop. Carefully, he turned around to face Prometheus, who hovered silently close by. The flames that had once danced across the ixodida's body were now out, leaving behind nothing but the creature's bright, red skin.

    "Oxygen," Bill finished. "Let's talk."
    Ah, looks like Bill likes showing off when the opportunity finally arises. This really shows how much he's started getting used to being an Ixodida and having to fight, too.


    "Talk?" Prometheus repeated.

    Bill nodded. Although the air protected him from Prometheus's flames, it meant that every second, he struggled for oxygen. Because of that, he knew that every word had to count, and when he spoke, it was slowly and haltingly.
    For some reason I imagine someone, probably Lanette or Veronica, making a quip about how much oxygen usually reaches Bill’s brain.

    "But why do you want to take me to your empress in that case?" Bill demanded. "Why not just kill me?"
    Bill, by now one would think you would have learned not to tempt fate.

    Oh, who am I kidding?

    His opponent lifted its head slowly and turned to look directly at him. Its eyes were open, but its face was completely devoid of expression. Tilting its chin back, it twisted in Prometheus's arms and placed a hand against his chest.

    "Give my regards to Her Majesty," Adam hissed.
    I like the change of pronoun from “him” to “it” to denote the change of control to Adam. It makes Adam seem more alien, somehow.

    Steven watched the two of them carefully, eyeing Lanette in particular. He saw her head tilt downward and her body slacken slightly, and though he couldn't see her expression, he had a feeling it wasn't the same stony look she always seemed to have on her face.

    Before he could speculate any further, a bird's trill broke the silence. Looking up, all three humans spotted Vito's swellow circling above them. At once, Lanette launched forward, her boots squelching in the mud.

    "Let's go!" she called.

    Trilling in response, the bird swooped beneath the canopy and darted between the trees, leading the red-head through the forest and dying fires. The men dashed after her, calling out for her to slow down. She paid no attention to them, however, as she ran after the bird. Her lungs burned with effort and smoke, and her feet sank into the mud with each step. Yet, she refused to slow or stop. With each passing second, her mind focused on only one thought, repeated over and over until it became a mantra.

    Please be alive. Please be alive. Please be alive.
    Aw, she does care about him. Until Adam finds a way to mess it up, anyway.

    "Steven, call out metagross again. We'll need—"

    She stopped short as soon as she felt something grasp her ankle. Calmly, she looked down to see the ixodida lying on his side, his hand circling her leg as he looked into the mud.

    "Oh good," she said. "You're awake. That will make things easier. Can you walk, or will we need to carry you back to the Caravan?"

    He turned his head slightly, and his voice hissed something that Lanette couldn't hear over the sound of the rain.

    "What was that?" she asked harshly. Yanking her ankle out of his grasp, she knelt to his level. "Speak up. Go on. You pester me incessantly about friendship, you wander off, you force me to search a burning forest for you… I'm certain you have something to say for yourself, so go on! Say it!"

    He lifted his head and stared at her with an expressionless face. She froze, her glare faltering.

    "Feed," he whispered. "Must… feed."
    Yep. Adam sure knows how to throw a crowbar wrench into the relationship. As soon as she starts showing signs of seeing the "Bill" in the Bill/Adam hybrid more, Adam makes his way back to the surface.

    Once more, the ixodida lunged, heading towards alakazam for a third time. Before he could lay a claw on him, Hope flinched and screamed. Instantly, the ixodida skidded to a halt, resting his hands on the psychic fox's shoulders. Its expressionless façade broke into a mixture of confusion and weariness. Bill blinked several times, glancing from the alakazam to his sister.

    "Hope?" he whispered.

    A crowbar cracked against his skull. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as he slipped to the side and fell onto the forest floor. Lanette stood over him, glaring at his unconscious form for a second time. Then, she held up the Master Ball, cracking it open to recall the ixodida in a flash of red light.

    "Idiot," she muttered.
    Of course, the poor guy comes to his senses just in time to take a crowbar to the skull. Also, “idiot” seems to be a favorite word of . . . *thinks for a second* about half of the characters.

    So now we’ve seen at least some backstory for Lanette, Adam, and Hope over the course of the past few chapters. Who’s next? Tate?
    Last edited by Ememew; 21st April 2012 at 8:57 PM.

  9. #259
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    In today's episode chapter, most of what Hope says are actually lyrics from this song. Most of it is nonsense, then, except for a few lines.
    I have to say, having access to those lyrics prior to reading the chapter really helped me frame the chapter's emotion in my mind a lot more clearly.

    Hope kept her eyes closed, breathing in deep as she listened to the crowds. A smile crossed her face as she tilted her head upwards and allowed the heat of the lights to warm her skin. She slowly opened her eyes and examined the rows of seats all around her, the glittering display on the contest hall's screen, the wide-open space of the field, and the three judges standing before her. At her side, she felt Squirtle press against her legs, suddenly aware of the crowds for the first time that night.

    Part of her sympathized with him. It had taken her three contests to win, so with all the crowd's attention on both her and Squirtle – and on only them – she felt a little embarrassed by the flattery. Yet she didn't let it affect her. With her neck still craned, she took a deep breath and strode forward, approaching the judges with Squirtle trailing behind her.

    When she stood before the center judge, the one she knew as Mr. Contesta, the older man smiled broadly at her and accepted a box from the Nurse Joy standing beside him. Opening the lid, he tilted it forward to allow Hope to see the ribbon resting inside. Its golden crest and pink ribbon almost shimmered in the light. Hope's breath caught in her throat as her hand twitched; she wanted to reach for it but knew the etiquette of the contest hall all too well.
    I have no explanation as for why, but I'm seeing Madoka standing here smiling right about now. That cannot possibly be a good thing.

    But oh, how hard she worked to be able to hold that ribbon. It had been months since she left Johto, after all. Months of training. Months of losing. Months of learning.

    "This is your first ribbon, isn't it, Hope?" Mr. Contesta asked.

    Hope looked at her feet, clasped her hands in front of her, and smiled shyly. "Yes, sir."

    "I could tell by your enthusiasm. You put on quite a show, young lady. The creativity you've displayed on the battlefield today shows you've worked hard to earn victory. We're expecting great things from you."

    At his last words, Hope's cheeks burned with a blush, and her voice grew quieter. "Thank you, sir. I'm-I'm really… I'll do my best. But it's really Squirtle who deserves the congratulations."

    "Modesty is a good trait to have, but remember that every contest relies on the teamwork between a coordinator and her pokémon. You're both deserving of this award." Mr. Contesta's hand grasped the ribbon and drew it out of the box. "Hope, it's my pleasure to confer on you and Squirtle the Rustboro Ribbon. Congratulations to you both."

    The crowd went wild while Hope raised her eyes at last to the ribbon. Her hand moved from her side, inching upwards almost reluctantly. Eventually, her fingers clasped the satin and gold, and her blood pounded in her ears.

    Suddenly, everything went dark and silent except for Hope's own scream.
    And there's the Jax we know and fear love back to screw with us again. One thing that struck me as odd, though - where does "blood pounded in her ears" come from? It sounds awfully ominous, yet the dark content wasn't until the next line.

    A pair of arms scooped her up. She screamed, but a hand – a human hand – covered her mouth. Looking up, she saw the silhouette of a large, bald man. He looked frantically over his shoulder as he carried Hope to the trees edging the field of tall grass. Glancing over him, she could see what was pursuing them: dark creatures with long tails and glowing, red eyes.
    I wonder if it's important to know who this is, or who he even was in the first place.

    But more than that, she could see that they were fast – and, for that matter, that they were rapidly getting closer.

    The man pushed Hope up the tree. Her arms wrapped around the closest branch she could grab, and with some effort, she managed to pull the rest of her body onto it. As soon as she was safe, her companion reached for a branch to pull himself off the ground. He got no further than a few inches up the tree before the creatures – four in all – appeared seemingly out of nowhere to yank him off the trunk.
    Boy, that guy sure fell to a fate that we're all familiar with - almost escaping only for the pursuing creature to grab you at the last minute.

    Hope shrieked. It was the most natural thing she could think of doing as she watched the creatures descend on the man, ripping into his body with their sharp claws. That in turn saved him for a few precious moments. All four ixodida lifted their heads, their glowing eyes narrowing at the tree. One of them leapt at her, grabbed her leg, and pulled her down. She tried to cling to the branch, but the ixodida's grip was stronger. Her fingers slipped away from the bark, hands grasping at the air as she fell. Claws tore at her in mid-air, slashing through her clothing across her stomach and her arms. One of the ixodida's hands finally batted her away from the tree, flinging her to the ground next to the man. She hit it hard and instantly crumpled, her voice silenced as she turned her head. Next to her, she could see through the three other ixodida to the man's face. His eyes were wide and glazed over. His throat was torn open.

    But he blinked at her.

    The fourth ixodida joined its companions to tear at the man's torso and devour the slick, pink entrails. Hope could only watch, curled on her side as she cried quietly.

    She could barely hear the faint pop of a ball opening. She could barely register the flash of white light or the sound of a low growl. She couldn't even watch as a black and white blur leapt at her attackers or sank its teeth into one of their necks.

    All she could see was the face of the man.

    Blinking.
    What the?

    I know this is almost certainly embellished by her memory, but I still get the feeling that something happened here that is going to be important to remember later.

    The nurse gave him one last concerned glance before she turned and strode towards the truck. In the meantime, Tate sat up, swaying slightly as his head spin. Even as the time ticked on, the vision he had in his sleep – the girl, the ixodida, the blinking man – refused to fade. His thoughts lingered on it, and he struggled to figure out why he simply couldn't shake it until something caught his ear.

    "Pi po pa po pi po pa po pi po pa po pi po pa po…"

    Turning his head, Tate stopped. At the center of the clearing, beside the roaring fire, was the exact girl he had seen in his dreams. She sat, her eyes wide and on the flames, as her other hand slowly waxed the shell of the squirtle sitting in her lap. The pokémon itself looked relaxed and happy while his owner's hand worked a cloth in small circles across his shell. Even the song the girl was singing seemed light and happy, almost whimsical. It was just her face. The empty eyes, the slight frown, the sharp, gaunt edges of her cheeks. Tate shuddered as he looked at her, yet there was something about her. He could almost hear something else deep inside her – something that sounded like a whisper.

    "Pi po pa po pi po pa po kimi ni wa wakaru?"
    So it was Tate seeing memories of Hope's in his own dream. Interesting. That's certainly an ability that will likely come into play again...

    Knowing what the song Hope is singing means in English only makes it more soul-crushingly depressing, but that's Jax for you, eh?

    Lanette narrowed her eyes. "We're missing a member of our group."

    "What?" Tate sat up a little straighter. "You lost Bill?"

    "We did not lose him," she replied harshly. "The idiot wandered away on his own, and the other idiot did absolutely nothing to stop him."
    Such is the power of a Combee honey addiction. You know what I mean.


    She narrowed her eyes. Then, exhaling, she turned to the west and plucked a ball from her belt. "You. Ixodida."

    "I have a name!" Tate snapped.

    "If you don't help me get that idiot back safely, you won't need it," Lanette replied.
    That could mean one of several things. Oh, Lanette, you crazy yet badass *****.

    "You're going out of your way to help him," he commented. "Change of heart?"

    Lanette paused for only a few seconds. After they passed, she spat, "Don't read into it. I'm only helping him because he promised he would look after his sister."

    Vito pulled himself onto the back of the pokémon, and as soon as he was safely onboard, the metagross shot into the woods. At the same time, Tate sat up on his own and looked towards the trees.

    "Sister?" he asked.

    Ellen pulled the cooler towards herself and opened the lid. "Didn't you know?"

    As she pulled a plastic container from the cooler, she nodded towards the fire. Tate accepted the container as he turned his head, following Ellen's gaze until his eyes fell on Hope. The girl was exactly where he left her, sitting by the fire and waxing her squirtle's shell. All the while, her soft voice continued weaving the same quiet song.

    "Pipopa-go shika ima hanasenai yo."

    "A sister," Tate repeated.

    He lowered his head. His fingers cracked open the container, and he stared at the raw meat inside. All he could think about was that word. Sister.

    "Liza."
    And now I just suddenly got a really ****ing ominous feeling when, at the same time as I was reading this scene, I realized we don't really know much about Tate's parasite. How do we know a stress factor like this is not going to lead to something really, really bad happening?

    As if she heard, Hope's motions gradually slowed to a stop as her voice reached the last notes of her song.

    "Pi po pa po pi po pa po pi po pa yurushite."
    The placement of this specific lyric is beyond excellent, and I would encourage anyone who hasn't clicked that link up top yet to do so and understand just why I say it's so chilling when used here.

    "Mirror Shot!"

    Bill, no!

    For the third time in the past several minutes, a bright, silver light exploded in the forest, sending Bill careening into a tree. His back slammed its trunk hard, and he fell into a heap at its foot. Groaning, he lifted his head and pulled one of his hands into view. The jewel in its palm fizzled and faded, and the remnant energies of one more failed Mirror Shot faded into the air.

    "What were the chances of taking my hands off with that move again?" he muttered.

    Increasing steadily the more you insist on using it. Bill, this is a serious battle. You cannot afford to wield a weapon you have not mastered.

    "We don't have a choice, Adam! He's too strong for anything else I've got!"

    "Correction, little rogue, you have a choice. A very simple one, in fact."

    Bill lifted his chin just in time to see the source of the voice. Prometheus glided forward, igniting every tree he passed on his way. He had been chasing Bill for the better part of the twenty minutes that had elapsed since the two of them met, but throughout that time, Prometheus went at his own pace, catching up to his quarry whenever the steel-type made the mistake of attempting Mirror Shot. Now, he hovered, waiting patiently for Bill to do one of two things: surrender or start flying again.

    Unfortunately, Bill had the bad habit of being immensely predictable.

    "I'm not going anywhere with you," he growled. "Magnet Rise!"

    Golden light swirled around Bill's body as he sprang off the ground and launched into a low flight path. Prometheus was ready for this. He held up a hand, palm facing his opponent, as the flames dancing across his skin grew larger and brighter. His entire hand became engulfed in a bright, blue fire that centered on a swirling ball hovering in front of his palm. With a boom, the orb exploded into a stream of blue light that tore through the air. Trees instantly burst into towering infernos the moment the stream touched them, and as Prometheus glided through the forest after his prey, he moved his arm to sweep his surroundings.

    Although Bill flew as quickly as he could, the jet shot directly over him, engulfing multiple trees just in front of him. A strangled yelp escaped his throat as he twisted in the air to avoid hitting fire. In an attempt to slow himself down, he hit the ground with a knee and both sets of claws, sliding towards the trees until he stopped just short of the flames. The golden aura around his body flickered, and his translucent wings drooped as he knelt. Already, the heat was getting to him. Shaking, his body lowered close to the ground as he began to pant. His metal skin began to burn against his muscles, and it took all of his power not to scream. Prometheus landed and strode forward as his entire form erupted into brilliant, orange flames. Bill winced and buckled a little more under the added heat.
    I wish I could describe such scenes as well as you do. There's just so much beautifully described detail here, yet it never goes into purple prose. It just reads like a really well-written battle scene.

    "Struggling to stand the heat, little rogue?" Prometheus sneered. "I can keep this up all day, long after you collapse. Why not give up now and save yourself the pain?"

    "Your empress," Bill panted. "Your empress wants me alive, doesn't she?"

    Prometheus shrugged. "Of course. But she never said anything about bringing you to her unharmed."

    At that, Bill cringed. "Oh. I… I d-didn't think about that."
    Bill, you're a genius, right? Thinking is your job, do it when it will save your *** too.

    In the clearing, Hope looked towards the sky. She squinted, studying the black clouds as they trailed across the clearing.

    "Ame ga furu," she murmured.

    Scooping her squirtle into her arms, she dashed towards the forest, heading in the same direction Lanette, Steven, and Vito had taken. Tate, who had been watching her for the past several minutes, perked up.
    Oh no. This can't end well.

    High above the forest, Bill swooped to dodge a fireball. As soon as it passed him, he twisted in the air and shot back towards the atmosphere. Behind him, Prometheus soared, looping and bobbing through the air in a stubborn attempt to keep up with his opponent. Every so often, Bill looked back to ensure that Prometheus was still there or to block a fireball with Protect.

    I hope that you do not take this to mean that I do not trust you, Adam said, but what exactly are you doing?

    "You can't tell?" Bill asked.

    No.

    Smirking, Bill looked above him. The blue sky was thinning out, and he was already beginning to see the sparkle of stars just beyond the planet's atmosphere. He didn't dare look down, and he didn't dare stop. The cold air felt welcome against his skin, as did the fact that it was getting harder and harder to breathe. At least the latter meant that Prometheus was following him right into his trap.

    "There are only two things a fire needs," Bill explained through short breaths. "Something to burn and…"

    He could feel the heat of a fireball rush by his shoulder, but by the time it passed him, it was already barely an ember. It fizzled out a short distance away from him, which signaled him to stop. Carefully, he turned around to face Prometheus, who hovered silently close by. The flames that had once danced across the ixodida's body were now out, leaving behind nothing but the creature's bright, red skin.
    Remember what I said about thinking, Bill? I take it back, even if Robert Downey Jr. did something similar to stop Iron Monger. Takes a certain level of creativity to put out a fire without using water, you know?

    "Oxygen," Bill finished. "Let's talk."

    "Talk?" Prometheus repeated.

    Bill nodded. Although the air protected him from Prometheus's flames, it meant that every second, he struggled for oxygen. Because of that, he knew that every word had to count, and when he spoke, it was slowly and haltingly.

    "Yes. I want to know. Why me?"

    Prometheus stared at the steel-type for a long while. Then, a shadow of a smile flickered across the creature's face. Just as quickly as it appeared, it vanished, leaving behind a blank expression that unnerved Bill more than usual.

    "Why you? Why are we after you?" Prometheus asked. "Do you truly not know?"

    "No," Bill growled, struggling to maintain his neutral expression.

    "Oh, little rogue," Prometheus sighed. "Her Majesty simply wants to speak with you."

    "Why?"

    Prometheus craned his neck. "Why? Why, because somewhere out there, there is one of my kind who prefers manifesting itself as a steel-type rogue. This creature… it is a troubling monster. A creature responsible for the downfall of our peaceful little moon."
    And I was right, Adam's not telling the whole truth. Not that we had any reason to think he would, though.

    "But why do you want to take me to your empress in that case?" Bill demanded. "Why not just kill me?"

    "Believe me, little one, I have asked the same thing every passing moment since I was assigned to collect you." Prometheus extended his arms. "Now then. Will you surrender?"

    Breathing as deeply as he could, Bill tensed his body, balling his hands into fists as he stared hard at Prometheus. So far, step one had him lead Prometheus to a place where his fire powers would be useless, and step two entailed coaxing some semblance of answers out of the ixodida. With each breath, Bill began to feel lightheaded, and the longer he remained there, the harder it was to come up with a step three. Unfortunately, if he wanted to get out of that situation alive without leading Prometheus to the Caravan, he knew he was going to have to come up with something else. At long last, he extended his claws. He knew he was working with a type disadvantage and that Prometheus's type could resist the strongest attacks he had in his arsenal. Because of that, he prayed that he was right about the thin air severely limiting what Prometheus could do.

    "No," he finally said.

    "No?" Prometheus responded.

    "I'm not going with you," Bill told him. "You can't force me, either. Up here, I have the advantage."

    Prometheus quirked an eyebrow. "And what advantage is that?"

    Bill held up his claws. All of them began to glow with a bright, white light. Behind him, his tail curled, and the arrowhead took on a silver aura of its own.

    "I can still attack," he told the fire-type. "I'm giving you one warning. Stand down and leave me alone, or I'll resort to force."

    Prometheus tilted his head. "Little one, if I could laugh, I would. I will give you my compliments, though. You are smart enough to know how to disable many of my powers. However… you forget one thing."

    Bill refused to falter. His hands quivered briefly, but the glow remained. All he did to betray a sense of uncertainty was narrow his eyes as he focused his gaze on Prometheus.

    "What's that?" he asked.

    Prometheus held out both of his hands. "I can strike with more than just fire."
    I'll give Bill a pass this time for not thinking, because of the low oxygen. He better not get used to it.

    Loosening his arms, Prometheus let the steel-type slide out of his grip until his red claws snatched one of Bill's arms. His free hand pulled back into another sparking fist just before it crashed down against his victim's temple. Then, he watched as Bill dropped, as the steel-type's golden aura faded away and as his golden wings fizzled into a shower of sparks.

    Lingering in the air, Prometheus waited for his quarry to pick himself back up. When Bill simply continued to fall, the fire-type took this as a signal and swooped after him. For a third time, he drew his opponent into his arms, stopping him once more from falling.

    "And now?" he asked.

    His opponent lifted its head slowly and turned to look directly at him. Its eyes were open, but its face was completely devoid of expression. Tilting its chin back, it twisted in Prometheus's arms and placed a hand against his chest.

    "Give my regards to Her Majesty," Adam hissed.

    A flash of white light burst from Adam's palm, blasting Prometheus away from it. The fire-type, unable to regain control over his flight path thanks to the force of the point-blank Mirror Shot, sailed in a long arc back towards the forest. At the same time, Adam, barely conscious, began falling in a curved path towards the black clouds of smoke. Through half-open eyes, it saw the glimmer of a blue ball burst among the smoke, turning the black smog into gray storm clouds. As it punched through the topmost layer of gray, only one thought ran through its head, a thought that spilled across its lips in barely a whisper.

    "You… you idiot."
    Hey, maybe fighting in low oxygen was stupid, but it worked, didn't it?

    She looked over her shoulder, her eyes scrutinizing Vito carefully. He pressed his lips at her gaze and looked towards the forest.

    "I mean," he said, "if you needed anything, you know you could come to me, right?"

    Her gaze softened slightly. "I appreciate the offer, Vito. There is absolutely nothing wrong, I assure you. But as I've said…" She turned her head towards the forest. "He promised that he would look after that girl."

    "And you trust him?"

    "No. But he may be exactly what she needs to heal."
    Why so tsundere, Lanette?

    In all seriousness though, I think this would have even more impact if we could get just a little more out of Hope herself. It's not that I'm saying Hope is poorly written or unemotional (she is far from either) but she would be even more effective if we knew just a little bit more about her and her situation, I think.

    Please be alive. Please be alive. Please be alive.
    This is really, really surprising coming out of Lanette.

    "What was that?" she asked harshly. Yanking her ankle out of his grasp, she knelt to his level. "Speak up. Go on. You pester me incessantly about friendship, you wander off, you force me to search a burning forest for you… I'm certain you have something to say for yourself, so go on! Say it!"

    He lifted his head and stared at her with an expressionless face. She froze, her glare faltering.

    "Feed," he whispered. "Must… feed."

    Slowly, Lanette began to stand up. As soon as she reached half her full height, however, the ixodida sprang to life, leaping at her and pinning her down. It bared its teeth with a hiss as its claws pinned her arms to the ground. Right away, Vito and Steven jumped to action, pulling poké balls from their belts and throwing them into the air. With twin bursts of white light, two pokémon materialized beside their masters: an aggron and Vito's alakazam.
    You know, this situation is so horrible that I can't even make jokes about Lanette being tsundere again. This is bad. I don't think they've been in a position this bad in a very long time.


    The other two humans nodded. Rising to his feet, Vito balled his hands into fists, his thoughts flicking through all of alakazam's possible attacks. By his side, Lanette drew her crowbar and crouched in a fighting stance. Seconds later, the ixodida rushed towards them on all fours again.

    This time, just as it was about to leap onto the alakazam for a second time, its body took on a blue aura and whipped into the air. An unseen force slammed the steel-type into a tree and let it drop with a thud back onto the muddy ground. Hesitating, all three humans turned in time to see Tate lower his hand as the blue glow in his eyes faded. Next to him stood Hope, clutching a squirming Squirtle to her chest like a doll. Wallace quickly approached behind them.
    OH NO.

    "Is everything all right?" he asked.

    "You were about to miss all the fun," Steven replied.

    "What happened?"

    "It's Bill," Vito said. "He's gone berserk!"

    As if on cue, the feral ixodida rose to its feet again. It narrowed its eyes at the troupe as a low growl rumbled from its throat. Tate only needed to glance at him to know exactly what was wrong.

    "He's starving," Tate said. "He's trying to find something to feed on so he can heal."

    "What do you expect us to do? Let him kill and eat us?" Lanette snapped.

    Tate shook his head. "No. We've just got to knock him out or something!"

    Once more, the ixodida lunged, heading towards alakazam for a third time. Before he could lay a claw on him, Hope flinched and screamed. Instantly, the ixodida skidded to a halt, resting his hands on the psychic fox's shoulders. Its expressionless façade broke into a mixture of confusion and weariness. Bill blinked several times, glancing from the alakazam to his sister.

    "Hope?" he whispered.

    A crowbar cracked against his skull. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as he slipped to the side and fell onto the forest floor. Lanette stood over him, glaring at his unconscious form for a second time. Then, she held up the Master Ball, cracking it open to recall the ixodida in a flash of red light.

    "Idiot," she muttered.
    Ah well, nothing a good crowbar to the head can't solve.

    I think you can gather that I really liked this chapter, as usual. There was an exceptional balance of action and emotion this time out. I think that's when it's most effective - when you can balance several different things. The plot moved along nicely, too.

    I'm sorry this review isn't the best I've done. I wasn't feeling well tonight.

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  10. #260
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    You see, this is what happens when you don't check SPPf as often as you used to. Things pass by under the radar.

    Luckily however, I managed to catch this latest installment of "Love/Hate Relationship: A Jax and Bill story"

    "We did not lose him," she replied harshly. "The idiot wandered away on his own, and the other idiot did absolutely nothing to stop him."

    "In my defense, neither did Steven or Wallace!" Thom shouted.

    Without turning her head, Lanette shot him an icy glare out of the corner of her eye.

    "I'll shut up," he quickly responded.
    THOM IS BEST PONY. I swear you must have so much fun writing Thom. He's just the perfect lovable idiot, what with his cheery attitude, also (now that I've watched Firefly and am allowed to reference it) he reminds me a little of Wash in so far that no matter how bad things get, he's always ready with something that will make someone laugh.

    I'm also rather proud of Bill at the moment, he took on Prometheus and actually did rather well. His flying high into the air plan might not have been a winner, but at least it gave him some time and he was also doing pretty good with his offensive abilities (unmastered Mirror Shots notwithstanding) it was only when he thought up another plan that he resorted back to his defensive abilities. Our little man is growing up, *wipes away tear*

    I also never expected his (or was it Adam's) reaction after he fell, trying to eat everyone and such. It was good though- realistic (you know, as real as parastic space monsters invading pokémon can be)

    Yay for character development and yay for Thom! Great chapter.
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  11. #261
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    I, as most people here really enjoyed the story because of the great balance of emotional factors and action. The experiments and the way you wrote the characters were really interesting and I think the sci-fi elements were really creative. Bill in particular was really awesome in this chapter because you've made him so easy to like.


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  12. #262
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    The flashback with Hope there, I was like “awww” over her excitement in winning the contest, only to then feel sorry for her watching the person that saved her being attacked. :< Kind of interesting Tate is actually the one dreaming/seeing that, though. I also like how you referenced Liza at the end.

    "Your empress," Bill panted. "Your empress wants me alive, doesn't she?"

    Prometheus shrugged. "Of course. But she never said anything about bringing you to her unharmed."

    At that, Bill cringed. "Oh. I… I d-didn't think about that."
    Okay, I laughed outloud at this part, LOL. Something about Bill realizing that amuses me.

    Wee for Bill having a bit more initiative and confidence in battle, but of course he still needs Adam’s help. :P He’ll get there eventually lol. And haha, like how both Adam AND Lanette called him idiot. He's a lovable idiot, though. :3 As for the part with Bill (or Adam for that matter) going crazy, glad Tate came at the nick of time and the return of Lanette’s crowbar lol.

    Overall another enjoyable chapter there. Can't wait for the next one!


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  13. #263
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ememew View Post
    So a dirty mind helps you write fanfiction, huh?
    You know it. ;D

    I’m not sure that this will be much of a review, since there’s not a lot that needs fixing in your work, but there are a few highlights.
    No problemo. b)'')b I appreciate everything~!

    Peace and triumph never seem to last long around these parts.
    Haha, nope! Peace might not even be on the agenda for quite some time to come. *fingertents*

    I did like how you described the Contest Hall, though. I think the juxtaposition of the nice and safe Hall makes the switch back to the story’s more usual setting helps keep the alien attack scenes fresh.
    Thank you! I really wanted to hit home how Hope's life differed before the Ixodida invaded, and I thought that was a good place to start. (Although I definitely have to say there's going to be a lot more glimpses into what Hope was like before the quarantine.)

    Well that’s . . . unnerving.
    Mission accomplished!

    A black and white blur to the rescue. Is this what you meant by “something that will make Absol happy”?
    Yep. And you can bet that that black and white blur's going to pop up again. Hope doesn't just have a Squirtle, after all.

    This part made me laugh.
    Haha, as it should have. ;D I love writing Thom for these kinds of reasons.

    It’s Bill. Have you seen the luck this guy’s been having the past few days/weeks? Come to think of it, how long has it been now?
    Good question!

    Lemme think for a sec.

    - Bill took two weeks to transform.
    - He spent a couple of days in Mauville before Lanette showed up.
    - A huge chunk of chapters took place over the course of three days (basically, between Lanette's arrival and the end of the Mauville arc).
    - Between leaving Mauville and chapter twenty-five, a couple of days.
    - Between chapter twenty-six and now, one full day.

    So in total, it looks like it's been three weeks since Bill was captured by Team Rocket in chapter two.

    At least Bill’s not the only one she treats like this. Look out for crowbars, Tate.
    Haha, yep.

    Guess the Caravan hasn’t had much time for small talk.
    *le nod* They really haven't. Most of the time, a lot of its members haven't been particularly talkative, probably because of the anticipation that something's going to attack them at any second. I can imagine Steven and Wallace chatting with each other and Thom talking to whoever will listen (but more likely Bill's unconscious body). Vito talks to Lanette, but Lanette doesn't always respond. Ellen and Veronica sometimes chat, but pretty much the same thing there. Tate, meanwhile, spent much of his time with the Caravan unconscious, and the other times, he was following stealthily. (Something I didn't really get across in chapter twenty-five, actually, but there's definitely a reason why Bill didn't recognize Tate when he was attacked.)

    Ah, poor Bill.
    Someone has said "poor Bill." It is now an average chapter for this fanfic. b)'')b

    Just a nitpick, and it might just be me, but I was sort of thrown off by the term “water-type champion” when I first read through. For a moment I thought you were saying Wallace was a water-type, rather than someone who specializes in water-types. Maybe it’s just me, though.
    Actually, that's a good point, especially given the fact that I tend to refer to the Ixodida (who are literally ____-types) by their type names. I'll go back and fix that up when I get a chance, maybe with something that doesn't use "champion" as an epithet at all (to avoid confusion with Steven). Maybe gym leader would work (if we ignore Emerald)? Gotta do some digging concerning Wallace.

    Poor Wallace: from Hoenn’s champion to babysitter in an alien-plagued region.
    Haha, yeah. Even Steven doesn't get degraded like that because Lanette likes him more.

    Ah, looks like Bill likes showing off when the opportunity finally arises.
    Absolutely and this is totally canon too. Especially given the fact that the poor guy's been so out of his element lately. It's finally dawning on him that he could still show off his intelligence if he had the spine to do it (so he's totally going to be doing a lot more of this).

    This really shows how much he's started getting used to being an Ixodida and having to fight, too.
    Finally, amirite? XD

    For some reason I imagine someone, probably Lanette or Veronica, making a quip about how much oxygen usually reaches Bill’s brain.
    Haha, Veronica totally would. XD

    Bill, by now one would think you would have learned not to tempt fate.

    Oh, who am I kidding?
    "Is Bill in immediate danger because of his complete and utter failure at being genre savvy? Must be Thursday."

    I like the change of pronoun from “him” to “it” to denote the change of control to Adam. It makes Adam seem more alien, somehow.
    Thank you! It makes talking about the two of them so much easier.

    Aw, she does care about him. Until Adam finds a way to mess it up, anyway.
    This = most of this arc in a nutshell.

    As soon as she starts showing signs of seeing the "Bill" in the Bill/Adam hybrid more, Adam makes his way back to the surface.
    In the worst ways possible, no less. ;D

    Of course, the poor guy comes to his senses just in time to take a crowbar to the skull. Also, “idiot” seems to be a favorite word of . . . *thinks for a second* about half of the characters.
    Haha, seriously, according to one of the spoilers in the responses I made last week.

    So now we’ve seen at least some backstory for Lanette, Adam, and Hope over the course of the past few chapters. Who’s next? Tate?
    Most likely. And more of Hope too, since I really want her to be more of a participant in the main cast.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    I have to say, having access to those lyrics prior to reading the chapter really helped me frame the chapter's emotion in my mind a lot more clearly.
    Awesome! b)'')b I hoped so. And this, dear folks, is how you put mood music in your fic without making it feel like you're bludgeoning your reader in the face with a brick. (Seriously, whoever started the "let's link to songs in the middle of the goddamn chapter" trend, especially by way of author's notes, please be ashamed of yourself.)

    I have no explanation as for why, but I'm seeing Madoka standing here smiling right about now. That cannot possibly be a good thing.
    Better than imagining Kyubey smiling, amirite?

    Seriously, hosnap. I didn't make that connection, and now I sort of want to imagine Hope as the Madoka of the cast. And yes, there are characters who might as well be the Homura, Sayaka, Mami, and Kyoko of the clan. And Adam is obviously Kyubey.

    And there's the Jax we know and fear love back to screw with us again.
    *cackles evilly*

    One thing that struck me as odd, though - where does "blood pounded in her ears" come from? It sounds awfully ominous, yet the dark content wasn't until the next line.
    It's actually another way of saying her heart is pounding. Although I think I meant "heart pounded in her ears," so that's got to be fixed.

    I wonder if it's important to know who this is, or who he even was in the first place.
    Nope. Just there for the honorable position of resident red shirt. Don't worry about him. *nods*

    Although he is the source of Hope's psychological trauma, and Hope did take a souvenir from him.

    Boy, that guy sure fell to a fate that we're all familiar with - almost escaping only for the pursuing creature to grab you at the last minute.
    Pretty much. XD

    I know this is almost certainly embellished by her memory, but I still get the feeling that something happened here that is going to be important to remember later.
    Yep. The blur.

    So it was Tate seeing memories of Hope's in his own dream. Interesting. That's certainly an ability that will likely come into play again...
    Oh yes. And hilarity will ensue once Bill finds out that someone's been romping around in his sister's mind. (Warning: Trope links.)

    Knowing what the song Hope is singing means in English only makes it more soul-crushingly depressing, but that's Jax for you, eh?
    *le bow*

    Such is the power of a Combee honey addiction. You know what I mean.
    Indeed I do. ;D

    That could mean one of several things. Oh, Lanette, you crazy yet badass *****.
    Why, yes, she totally just threatened the life of someone who can kill her with his brain.

    And now I just suddenly got a really ****ing ominous feeling when, at the same time as I was reading this scene, I realized we don't really know much about Tate's parasite. How do we know a stress factor like this is not going to lead to something really, really bad happening?
    *whistles innocently*

    Seriously, you'll find out what happened to Tate's parasite eventually. When Bill and Tate finally get a chance to sit down and talk… without one trying to beat the crap out of the other.

    I wish I could describe such scenes as well as you do. There's just so much beautifully described detail here, yet it never goes into purple prose. It just reads like a really well-written battle scene.
    Aww, thank you. ♥ I've had a lot of practice.

    And don't discount yourself too much. Your battle scenes are pretty awesome too. b)'')b

    Bill, you're a genius, right? Thinking is your job, do it when it will save your *** too.
    Haha, take Bill out of a laboratory, and he's just about as useful as a trout.

    Remember what I said about thinking, Bill? I take it back, even if Robert Downey Jr. did something similar to stop Iron Monger. Takes a certain level of creativity to put out a fire without using water, you know?
    *gives you a cookie again for recognizing the reference*

    And I was right, Adam's not telling the whole truth. Not that we had any reason to think he would, though.
    *tents fingers* Oh no. The whole truth has certainly not been told.

    I'll give Bill a pass this time for not thinking, because of the low oxygen. He better not get used to it.
    Haha, trust me, he definitely won't. ;D (I think I like writing him as being creative on the battlefield. It gives me more of a challenge to come up with funky things to do in fights, especially since Bill – along with half the Caravan, actually – absolutely refuses to think inside the box.)

    Hey, maybe fighting in low oxygen was stupid, but it worked, didn't it?
    Until the "whoops I'm falling" part. XD

    In all seriousness though, I think this would have even more impact if we could get just a little more out of Hope herself. It's not that I'm saying Hope is poorly written or unemotional (she is far from either) but she would be even more effective if we knew just a little bit more about her and her situation, I think.
    Ask and ye shall receive! While I'm not sure how much of Hope I can edit into this chapter, I'm definitely thinking of including her more and more in future ones, especially since she's actually supposed to play a vital role in the ending.

    This is really, really surprising coming out of Lanette.
    Change of heart? In my Lanette? It's more likely than you think.

    OH NO.
    OH YES.

    Ah well, nothing a good crowbar to the head can't solve.
    It's like duct tape!

    I think you can gather that I really liked this chapter, as usual. There was an exceptional balance of action and emotion this time out. I think that's when it's most effective - when you can balance several different things. The plot moved along nicely, too.
    Thank you~!

    I'm sorry this review isn't the best I've done. I wasn't feeling well tonight.
    It's totally okay. *pets* I hope you get well soon, though! Sinuses can be a serious ***** this time of year, and that's got to be wreaking havoc on your emotional state and stress levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    You see, this is what happens when you don't check SPPf as often as you used to. Things pass by under the radar.
    Aww. Real life and ponies, amirite?

    Luckily however, I managed to catch this latest installment of "Love/Hate Relationship: A Jax and Bill story"
    That is now the fic's subtitle.

    THOM IS BEST PONY.
    And this is why I love you. XD

    …What would his cutie mark even be?

    I swear you must have so much fun writing Thom.
    I DOOOOO. \o/

    He's just the perfect lovable idiot, what with his cheery attitude, also (now that I've watched Firefly and am allowed to reference it) he reminds me a little of Wash in so far that no matter how bad things get, he's always ready with something that will make someone laugh.
    He's a leaf on the wind.

        Spoiler:- Spoilers for Serenity… which is an awesome movie you should also watch if you haven't already.:


    I'm also rather proud of Bill at the moment, he took on Prometheus and actually did rather well. His flying high into the air plan might not have been a winner, but at least it gave him some time and he was also doing pretty good with his offensive abilities (unmastered Mirror Shots notwithstanding) it was only when he thought up another plan that he resorted back to his defensive abilities. Our little man is growing up, *wipes away tear*
    Inorite? 8D I'm really looking forward to the upcoming chapters because Bill's finally becoming more and more willing to fight. (Or at least to understand that pacifism doesn't mean just standing by or running away.)

    I also never expected his (or was it Adam's) reaction after he fell, trying to eat everyone and such.
    Goooood question, the one in parentheses. That is basically their autopilot mode – what happens when neither of them are fully in control but rather their instincts take over. (Which means, yes, technically, there's three personalities in that body. Or two personalities and one semblance of one.) But that will be explained better in the next chapter.

    Yay for character development and yay for Thom! Great chapter.
    Thank you~!

    Quote Originally Posted by C.Gholy View Post
    I, as most people here really enjoyed the story because of the great balance of emotional factors and action.
    Thanks very much!

    The experiments and the way you wrote the characters were really interesting and I think the sci-fi elements were really creative. Bill in particular was really awesome in this chapter because you've made him so easy to like.
    I'm really glad you think so. It's a lot of fun working with both the sci-fi genre and my favorite character in the franchise, so it's really cool to hear that people are enjoying what comes out of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bay View Post
    The flashback with Hope there, I was like “awww” over her excitement in winning the contest, only to then feel sorry for her watching the person that saved her being attacked. :<
    My work here is done. *dons hat and skips off to the next chapter*

    Kind of interesting Tate is actually the one dreaming/seeing that, though. I also like how you referenced Liza at the end.
    Thank you! And yes, Tate is totally getting dragged into Hope's little side plot thanks to that mysteriously absent twin sister of his.

    Okay, I laughed outloud at this part, LOL. Something about Bill realizing that amuses me.
    *le bows* It's so much fun to put Bill in situations where he's finally forced to admit that he doesn't know jack.

    Wee for Bill having a bit more initiative and confidence in battle, but of course he still needs Adam’s help. :P
    Naturally, but not for long. ;D

    He's a lovable idiot, though. :3
    High five for this comment. XD

    As for the part with Bill (or Adam for that matter) going crazy, glad Tate came at the nick of time and the return of Lanette’s crowbar lol.
    Oh yes. No doubt Vito's Alakazam would've suffered a fate worse than a bite on a shoulder if Tate didn't pull a Big Damn Hero.

    Overall another enjoyable chapter there. Can't wait for the next one!
    Thank you~! Hopefully, it'll be up by the beginning of next month. Finals are starting, but on the positive side, that means the semester's almost over. \o/ Summer job from here on out~!

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

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  14. #264
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    Nicely done

    Sorry it took me so long to get around to this. Once again, you did an awesome job. Grammar wise, everything was perfect, which is important. I think you said you had a beta reader, which I'm sure helps out alot. One thing I did notice though was that when Steven called out Aggron and yelled to it, his name was capitalized. However, when Aggron is referred to in the next paragraph, it's name is not. Believe me, I'm not real familiar with English capitalization but since that is it's name, shouldn't it be capitalized all the time? If I'm wrong please tell me lol. Anyway, besides that, the chapter was perfect, and I want to list a few parts that stuck out for me

    The part in the beginning where Hope got pushed up the tree by that guy, just to have him be torn down and devoured was so freaking epic. It actually reminded me alot of a few scenes in the movie 'Pandorum'. In it, these genetic monstrocities just rip people apart and feast on them. It's actually quite graphic. So when I was reading that part, I felt like I could picture it perfectly. Nicely done!

    Another bit that I thought was really smart was to have bill take Prometheus up high into the atmosphere to combat his fire abilities. Really smart on his and your part. Very rarely do people take science and common sense into effect and combine them. I also liked how it was hard for bill to breathe up there and as a consequence of weakening prometheus's ability, he was losing power as well. Which is smart, as that is exactly what would happen if they were up that high.

    One last thug I really liked was when bill went comPletely beserk when he came to. Nice touch, and it was alot of fun to read. During the course of that fight, one other thing that stuck out for me was when he bit Alakazam and he screamed. Screaming is something that always grabs my attention when reading and when I read that, I moved like six inches closer to the screen. It really made it all the more exciting.

    Great job once again, and be sure to PM me when the next one is up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Nicely done
    *le bow*

    Sorry it took me so long to get around to this.
    Totally A-OK. I always appreciate awesome people dropping by either way.

    I think you said you had a beta reader, which I'm sure helps out alot.
    Absolutely. This is only the second chapter this particular one went through (because oh lol the shenanigans I had with beta readers for the first chapters of the fic), but he's incredibly thorough and helped me straighten out a lot of errors that I seriously wouldn't have noticed myself.

    One thing I did notice though was that when Steven called out Aggron and yelled to it, his name was capitalized. However, when Aggron is referred to in the next paragraph, it's name is not. Believe me, I'm not real familiar with English capitalization but since that is it's name, shouldn't it be capitalized all the time? If I'm wrong please tell me lol.
    This is an intensely good question because you're not actually wrong, but on the other hand, there's camps that argue that capitalizing everything is only one correct way of doing things. It is seriously something that has caused flame wars in this fandom.

    The problem is that fandom terms are a bit of a shady thing. In other fandoms, sometimes, it's very clear what needs to be capitalized. Vulcan is a Star Trek race (and not just a species), so of course you'd capitalize it. Hobbit is capitalized because Tolkien said so. Xenomorph is not capitalized because it's a species name. That and it's pretty easy to tell what should and shouldn't be capitalized because 1) the words were written with our alphabet to begin with and 2) a lot of these examples aren't trademarked, making the argument of whether or not one should capitalize them purely an argument of whether or not the root word is a proper noun. (The root for Vulcan is; the root for xenomorph isn't.)

    …But then you get to Pokémon. The source media, up until Gen IV, made things incredibly ambiguous thanks to the convention that everything should be capitalized. This included things like BIKE, however, so that made things even more confusing. If that wasn't enough, all Pokémon names are actually trademarked by Nintendo, meaning technically, they're akin to brand names. We can't even get an official statement on the subject because the Japanese language – which is the root for the original names of each species – has no concept of capital letters, so we can't just point at the original names of the creatures and say, "The creators did this, so logically, the English names should be exactly the same." As a result, you've got two major camps: those who capitalize and those who don't.

    The people who capitalize Pokémon names all the time do so because of a lot of key factors: the names are trademarked, they're capitalized in the games, and so forth. (Note: Pokémon species names are not proper nouns, so the argument that "Pokémon names should be capitalized because they're names" is not being grouped here. But that's one of the other major arguments for the camp.)

    Meanwhile, the other camp says that, technically, Pokémon names are not proper nouns. After all, if you replace every instance of "Pikachu" with the word "mouse" in a fanfic, chances are, the sentences you'll get out of it would still make sense. That's an indication that you're not looking at a proper noun but instead a common noun – as in, a reference to a random mouse-like creature, not a specific mouse whose actual name is Mouse as opposed to Jerry.

    It gets even more complicated from there because while the camps are pretty clear-cut when it comes to species names, not everyone agrees on things like item names and move names. For example, I capitalize move names because to me, they're names of specific techniques, but I know people who don't capitalize move names because you don't capitalize "punch," "kick," or "praying mantis," either.

    To boil everything down, though, it really depends on the writer's comfort. Some people do capitalize, and on a level, they're not really incorrect. Likewise, some people don't capitalize, and it's really difficult to argue that they're incorrect too.

    So just to clarify, here's a basic run-down of the rules I go by:

    1. Don't capitalize species names if they're serving as a common noun. As in, if I can replace a species name with what the species actually is (e.g., replacing "Alakazam" with "fox") and get basically a working sentence as a result, then the Pokémon name won't be capitalized.

    2. Do capitalize when the species name is actually being used as a name of an individual. Admittedly, this gets a little confusing because most characters don't actually nickname their Pokémon. So, when you see a capitalized Aggron, chances are, Steven's actually addressing his Pokémon by name.

    3. Capitalize all move names. (When move names aren't capitalized, I'm actually describing an action, not the overall technique.)

    4. Capitalize all special items. For example, in my headcanon, Poké Balls are mass-produced, so the term is never capitalized. (Also, said term can refer to any ball that's used to capture Pokémon, so there's that too.) However, Master Ball is always capitalized because it's referring to a "brand" or special type of Poké Ball.

    5. Pokémon (and Pokédex) are never capitalized.

    6. All of these rules do not apply outside of fanfic. (In a regular post, I typically capitalize everything unless I'm working on a word processor/posting to this thread. This is to avoid having someone call me out on my lack of capitals.) So that's why you see me capitalize the word Ixodida in response posts.

    And that's your tl;dr for the day! \o/

    Anyway, besides that, the chapter was perfect, and I want to list a few parts that stuck out for me
    Aww, thank you!

    The part in the beginning where Hope got pushed up the tree by that guy, just to have him be torn down and devoured was so freaking epic.
    Thank you!

    It actually reminded me alot of a few scenes in the movie 'Pandorum'. In it, these genetic monstrocities just rip people apart and feast on them. It's actually quite graphic.
    …And I like you.

    Although I haven't seen Pandorum, I've heard of it and read the synopsis, and oh yes, it's on my to-watch list. I mean, seriously. Awesome – and violent! – plot but so many critics panning it? Clearly a B-rated epic. (And excuse me while I fangirl all over you for a moment.)

    Another bit that I thought was really smart was to have bill take Prometheus up high into the atmosphere to combat his fire abilities. Really smart on his and your part.
    Thank you! Like I said earlier, I am really liking the idea of using Bill's scientific know-how in a battle. ;D You're totally going to see more of that happening, just because it's so much fun.

    And I also promise that the next time it happens, I'll actually show my homework a little more. (Luckily, no one's noticed so far that neither Bill nor Prometheus suffered from the bends at any point in these shenanigans. Among other lulzy things I'm totally not hand-waving right now.)

    One last thug I really liked was when bill went comPletely beserk when he came to. Nice touch, and it was alot of fun to read.
    Thank you! Oh, the fun drama that will come out of this. And by that, I mean "more violence."

    During the course of that fight, one other thing that stuck out for me was when he bit Alakazam and he screamed. Screaming is something that always grabs my attention when reading and when I read that, I moved like six inches closer to the screen. It really made it all the more exciting.
    High five. o/ Screaming does the same for me too. Especially when something visceral is thrown in along the way.

    Great job once again, and be sure to PM me when the next one is up.
    Thank you, and will do~! o>
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 25th April 2012 at 7:20 AM.

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

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    1. Don't capitalize species names if they're serving as a common noun. As in, if I can replace a species name with what the species actually is (e.g., replacing "Alakazam" with "fox") and get basically a working sentence as a result, then the Pokémon name won't be capitalized.

    2. Do capitalize when the species name is actually being used as a name of an individual. Admittedly, this gets a little confusing because most characters don't actually nickname their Pokémon. So, when you see a capitalized Aggron, chances are, Steven's actually addressing his Pokémon by name.

    3. Capitalize all move names. (When move names aren't capitalized, I'm actually describing an action, not the overall technique.)

    4. Capitalize all special items. For example, in my headcanon, Poké Balls are mass-produced, so the term is never capitalized. (Also, said term can refer to any ball that's used to capture Pokémon, so there's that too.) However, Master Ball is always capitalized because it's referring to a "brand" or special type of Poké Ball.

    5. Pokémon (and Pokédex) are never capitalized.

    6. All of these rules do not apply outside of fanfic. (In a regular post, I typically capitalize everything unless I'm working on a word processor/posting to this thread. This is to avoid having someone call me out on my lack of capitals.) So that's why you see me capitalize the word Ixodida in response posts.
    Wow, that was probably the best pokemon invoplved explanation I've ever seen. That really clears my thoughts up. I copy/pasted those 6 rules into a word document to use on my own fic lol. So thanks!

    Although I haven't seen Pandorum, I've heard of it and read the synopsis, and oh yes, it's on my to-watch list. I mean, seriously. Awesome – and violent! – plot but so many critics panning it? Clearly a B-rated epic. (And excuse me while I fangirl all over you for a moment.)
    I really think you'd like it. Ben Foster completely steals the show from Quaid. Definately worth a looksie

    And no problem. For some reason, I like reviewing things that are well written

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    Quickie announcement post because lol work:

    1. The umpteenth edit blitz is currently underway! \o/ Chapters zero through five have finally been edited, with things like fixed wordings, the transition from "intern" to "assistant" (because there are no interns at Polaris now), and one censor dodge. (I still have to edit a tiny bit into chapter four, but otherwise, these represent the as-of-now final version of the story.)

    2. Chapter twenty-eight is finally done and coming up. I'm hoping that with school out for the moment, I'll be able to write more and get back to a weekly schedule, but I say that every year. :| It's my goal this year, though, especially as I'm shifting focus from all kinds of other fandom pursuits (which I'm sure you didn't know that I did on the side) to writing.

    3. There will be a surprise in store for you folks when we hit 300 comments on this thread. What could it beeeeee~?

    4. One of the things I'd like to do in this edit blitz is change Hope's name. Weird, I know, but I realized a long time ago that: a) Hope is the name of one of Professor Ivy's assistants (really) and b) I'm no longer quite as fond of the Meaningful Name trope. Or on that level, anyway. So what will her name be? I haven't decided!

    This is where you come in. The following are the proposals. Feel free to comment at any point between now and when her chapters will be edited (which won't be for some time) with your choice. I'll take the most popular (or the best suggestion, in the case of the third option) and run with it.

    Your choices at the moment are:

    1. Sophie
    2. Serena (I will always be on a Sailor Moon kick, okay?)
    3. Ra(y)e
    4. "These names suck, Jax. Here's one that doesn't." (i.e., the "comment with another suggestion" option)
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 18th May 2012 at 1:28 PM.

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

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    Aaaaaand I wasn't kidding when I said the next chapter would be up soon. \o/


    Anima Ex Machina
    Twenty-Eight: We have nothing to fear but fear itself.


    As Bill soon learned, the gray forest did whatever he wanted it to do except let him go. He could bend trees, convince the sky to turn green, even populate it with pokémon if he wanted, but it would never end.

    More than that, there was no real concept of time, but he already knew that. He knew that sometimes two minutes in the gray forest would be an hour outside. Other times, seconds in reality would be years there.

    Yet both facts never seemed as real to him as they did when he woke up next. The first several hours, he screamed and cried and clawed at himself in a desperate attempt to get rid of the memory of the attack. All he could think about was how he floated in a dark space behind his eyes but could hear the voices of his friends, could feel his body lash out and act on its own. The second several hours, when his voice grew hoarse and his limbs grew weary and caked in dried blood, were spent in complete misery. Adam hadn't made its presence known, and there was no end to Bill's dream in sight. He was trapped, unable to apologize or fix anything he had done outside of that space. All he had, as he lay on the soft earth, was the memory repeating itself over and over again.

    In the third several hours, he got up and started walking. That was the part that took eons.

    He had no aim. Although he knew the path through the forest by heart and wanted to go home – his home, the lighthouse on the cliff – he knew he would never reach the end of the forest if he tried walking straight there. So instead, he wandered aimlessly, weaving a winding path between the trees. He made the sun set and the moon rise. He made storms roll in (but never soak him) and clear away. He made ghost-like eevee and squirtle and swablu flit through the trees and fill the forest with sounds, and he made them disappear and fall silent. But he couldn't escape, and he couldn't see what was outside the forest. Eventually, his memory of the outside world began to fade. There was no way for him to tell how long he had spent wandering; he felt like he had been wandering for years but knew it wasn't relevant. So long as he made the sun and moon rise and set when he wanted them to, days didn't mean a thing to him.

    Every so often, he would settle down in a spot and close his eyes. He didn't think he was sleeping in those moments. They were simply dark expanses of time that stretched across two points of the gray forest. Occasionally, in these visions, he would reach out and see a flash of light, but the flashes would fade and plunge him deeper into the darkness.

    After one of these moments, he felt Adam's presence.

    "There you are," Adam said. "I have been looking for you."

    Bill sat up. He knew where Adam was – behind him, in a tree – but he didn't bother acknowledging the parasite.

    "Upset, are we?"

    A rustle and a thump signaled Adam's fall from its perch. Bill could hear the crunch of leaves with the creature's every step. He felt its warm arms slide around his shoulders and embrace him tightly, and all at once, his body tensed.

    "Is that any way to treat your partner?" Adam purred.

    Bill narrowed his eyes but said nothing in response. Eventually, Adam drew itself away from him and stood.

    "I came to congratulate you on a job well done," Adam said. "You battled a member of the empress's court and survived. Had you fed properly beforehand, you might have actually succeeded in doing real damage to him."

    In the beat of silence, Adam didn't expect Bill to reply. Because of that, it drew itself away from him, bowed its head slightly, and exhaled.

    "Incidentally, that is what happened, if you were wondering. I warned you, did I not? We need fresh, raw meat in order to regenerate ourselves. Pokémon meat especially. We can absorb their regeneration factor and accelerate our own healing, and we need the boost of energy their meat can provide in order to power our own abilities. Cooked meat loses that quality, and your animal 'jerky,' while it may sate our hunger, does very little for us in terms of truly sustaining our abilities. It is nothing more than candy to my kind."

    Bill shifted in his seat. Out of the corner of its eye, Adam watched him.

    "Did that pique your interest?" Adam asked.

    Its host stood, clenching his hands by his sides as he kept his eyes on the ground.

    "I must say, I am rather pleased," Adam continued as it rose to its own feet. "Many hosts fail to adapt. That is why rogues are uncommon to rare. Humans, from what I have observed in my dormant state, are particularly fragile. You are indeed different from the others. Perhaps you are worthy of being my partner. There certainly is hope for you as a warrior."

    "I'm not a monster," Bill hissed.

    Adam lifted its chin. "Is that what you think of my kind? Monsters? Dear host, we are far above that. We fight when it is necessary."

    "I'm not," Bill replied, his every word grunted slowly through clenched teeth, "a monster."

    "Is this about your loss of control? An amateur mistake. You will learn to harness and control that rage and then channel it towards only necessary battles."

    "I. Am not. A monster."

    "Is this about the fact that you nearly killed that girl of yours?" Adam's voice dropped low, but it was dripping with his amusement. "The interesting one. Lanette. Oh. You promised her that you would never lose control, did you? Well, this certainly complicates things. Perhaps it would be better this way. You no longer would be burdened with the task of fighting for her favor. After all, I doubt that she would have anything to do with you now that she knows exactly what you will eventually become."

    "I. Am. Not. A. Monster."

    Adam hesitated. "This is not about Lanette at all, is it? Oh… I see. It is about the boring one who fears my kind. Yes, you could have killed her. She only stood there, after all. A fairly easy target, had it not been for the runt protecting her." It paused for a second time. "I wonder what she thinks of you now. You must forgive me for saying such, but I have never been very fond of sisters. Nothing good has ever come of them. That having been said, the little one would only serve as a distraction to our mission. Perhaps it would be best that she thinks of you as a monster, then."

    "I am not—!"

    Bill whirled around to face Adam, but he stopped dead in his tracks. There, behind him, he saw himself as a human. The expression was still the unnervingly blank mask Adam always wore, but everything else – the fingers, the skin, everything – was exactly what he remembered seeing in the mirror as a complete and independent person. Adam drew a hand – rounded tips, no claws – to its mouth.

    "You dropped this on the way here. I simply picked up what you discarded. It is not like you need it anymore," Adam explained. "But I do find it curious how much you identify with that body now."

    Shaking, Bill looked down and drew his steel-plated hands into view. His tail curled behind him in an anxious knot, and he was aware of the fangs filling his mouth for the first time since he began walking.

    "Do not fear it," Adam said. "Incidentally, I read something fascinating in your mind while you were preoccupied."

    Bill looked up and slowly backed away from the parasite. The blank look on its face suddenly seemed more terrifying than anything else he had faced thus far.

    "Nyctophobia, the irrational fear of darkness," it said. "In truth, it is not fear of the dark itself but instead of the things that are in the dark."

    With each word, Bill slid backwards. His back eventually hit a tree, and his hands clutched its trunk. A cold, clammy feeling flowed through every point of his body, and with every second, the gray forest grew dimmer and dimmer.

    Then, the corners of Adam's mouth twitched.

    "Monsters like us, Bill, have no reason to be afraid of the dark," Adam told him. "It is what we find when we wake up that we should fear the most."

    At that very second, Bill woke up.

    He saw nothing.

    Literal.

    Unending.

    Nothing.

    ---

    The plastic cooler in Lanette's lap rattled violently. She slammed her hands on its top, pressing the lid down to keep the Master Ball inside it closed. Her lips curled back in a snarl, and turning her head away from Steven, she growled just low enough that her voice was masked by the sound of the engines in the Caravan.

    "Stop it!"

    Even though Lanette tried to keep her voice down, Steven still looked over his shoulder at her. The two of them sat on the back of Steven's metagross as it glided through the air behind the van at the rear of the convoy; Wallace had taken Lanette's place in the truck's cabin on her request. She, meanwhile, sat with her back to the gray-haired champion and her attention mostly consumed by the container in her lap. While it remained mostly quiet for the better part of the journey, there were moments when the ball inside it tried to crack open. The lid would tilt open slightly as a white light flickered from within it, and at these moments, Lanette would slam it closed again, forcing the ball to shut on the pokémon trying again and again to escape.

    After several attempts, Steven risked speaking up.

    "Lanette, don't you think that maybe we should let him out? He seems pretty desperate," he said.

    "We don't know what we'll be encountering if I do," Lanette growled.

    "Steel-type attacks aren't effective against metagross," Steven reminded her. "Why don't you let him out when we stop, and I'll worry about keeping him under control?"

    "No."

    Steven raised his eyebrows at his companion. Lowering her head, Lanette spread one hand out on the plastic lid, pressing it down with as much force as she could apply.

    "He stays in," she said firmly.

    "You can't keep him in there forever," Steven responded as he faced forward.

    "Why not? He barely has any aptitude on the field, he shows very little interest in battling, and he somehow attracts more trouble than the psychic. In total, weak and a hassle when he's in control; dangerous to everything around him when he's out of control. As far as I'm concerned, this thing is nothing but dead weight to us."

    "That thing is your partner," Steven answered. After a slight hesitation, he added, "I've read about you, you know. The two of you created the storage system together, right? Trainers all over Japan have both you and Bill to thank. I'm one of them."

    Lanette leaned forward to press even harder on the lid of the cooler. "Forgive me for failing to understand your point."

    "My point is your partnership is what made you famous. Neither of you could have done it alone. Isn't that right?"

    It took a few moments, but Lanette finally answered. When she did, her voice was even lower. "It was a different time back then."

    "Maybe so," Steven admitted, "but if you believed with all your heart that no part of what's in that Master Ball is Bill, you wouldn't be this upset, would you?"

    "Upset?" Lanette snapped.

    "It seems to me that his attack on us hurt more than just Vito's alakazam. You cared enough about him to take him with us, yet you're personally seeing to it that he doesn't escape his ball."

    For a long while, Lanette gave Steven a side glance. Even though he could see only one of her eyes, he noticed the dark look in them, the glitter of sheer anger and of something deeper and more painful than she was telling him. He wanted to reach out to rest a hand on her shoulder, but she moved, shifting her eyes to the path and leaning away from his reach. Then, she opened one of the pouches on her belt and pulled from it a poké ball. Tossing it into the air, she let it crack open and release her solrock. As soon as the light faded, it shook itself awake and floated alongside its mistress.

    "Go to the front of the Caravan and release the signal," she ordered. "We're stopping for a moment."

    "Stopping?" Steven asked.

    In the same instant, her solrock nodded and soared over the rest of the Caravan to the front of the line. Lanette, refusing to respond to Steven, slid off Metagross's back with the cooler in her arms. Her feet hit the ground, and she crouched as Solrock flashed twice behind her. Then, as she rose to her feet, the van, the truck, and the metagross all halted in their tracks.

    "Lanette?" Steven called. "What's going on?"

    She turned to him. "You think I care about that monster?!"

    One of her hands reached up to yank her crowbar from its sheath. The other dropped the cooler to the ground. Her boot connected with its side, sending it arcing away from her until it split open and spilled onto the ground. From within it, the Master Ball rolled until it cracked open in mid-cycle. A flash of light lit up the path, and finally, a few yards from Lanette, Bill appeared, kneeling with his head bent low. He wearily opened his eyes and blinked at the black dirt.

    "What are you doing?!" Steven shouted.

    "What I should have done as soon as I found this thing!" she barked.

    Launching forward, she dashed across the distance between herself and the ixodida. The steel-type looked up, the situation dawning on him a second too late. She jumped on him, driving his back into the dirt as she pinned him down with her crowbar. Her knees held her weapon against his stomach while one hand shoved his shoulder into the dirt. The other reached for her side and unsheathed her knife. Its blade glinted in the sunlight, and all at once, Bill felt terrifyingly lucid.

    "Lanette, no!" Steven yelled.

    Right then, the champion's hand grabbed Lanette's wrist, and an arm curved around her waist. Steven yanked her to her feet as she screamed and struggled desperately against him.

    "Let me go! I have to—I have to…!"

    "Stop!" Steven cried. "You don't know what you're doing!"

    "I know exactly what I'm doing!" she screamed.

    Her eyes flashed at the ixodida. As he sat, scrambling to piece together the situation, all Bill could see was the red of her eyes. Angry, dark red. He shook and inched himself backwards, away from her as she glared at him.

    "You liar!" she shrieked. "You monster! You promised me! You promised me that I wouldn't have to do this again! You… you…!"

    For a split second, Bill could see her face twist, her eyes narrowing and misting as her mouth stretched. She turned in Steven's grip and shoved an arm into the champion's chest.

    "You bastard," she growled. "Let me make this absolutely clear so that even you would understand. We're done. I'm willing to believe that you had Bill's memories, but as far as I'm concerned, you killed him. I don't know what you are, but you and I have no further business between us. I'm not your friend, and I'm not your partner. You are nothing but a monster. So, you want your freedom? Take it. Take the Master Ball and do whatever you want with it. But don't you dare come anywhere near me again, or I swear to all the gods, I will end you. I mean it this time."

    Shoving herself away from the champion, Lanette stormed off, nearly bowling over Tate on her way towards the front of the Caravan. The psychic shuffled out of her way and nearly fell over Metagross as he clutched a plastic container to his chest. Righting himself, Tate frowned and continued towards Steven.

    "What's her problem?" he asked.

    "It's… probably complicated," Steven replied as he narrowed his gray eyes at her back. Then, he nodded towards Bill. "Tate, who are we looking at here?"

    The psychic glanced towards the steel-type. His eyes flared with blue light briefly as he looked the creature over.

    "Hard to say," Tate said.

    Steven froze. "Hard to say?"

    "I can't get a good fix on which mind is in control," Tate explained, "but I do know it's not hostile. It's just… sitting there."

    "Make sure he sits there, then," Steven said. "I've got to go calm Lanette down."

    He turned and swiftly made his way to the front of the Caravan. Tate watched him briefly before starting forward with the plastic container in his hands. Halfway between the ixodida and Steven's metagross, the boy cracked open the container. Bill sniffed, catching the scent of dead fish in the air. Perking up, he glanced at the container as Tate tipped it forward just enough for him to see its contents: a dead and gutted feebas. Tate sighed as he approached.

    "You're not going to give me any trouble about this, are you? Because whether you like it or not, you're going to have to feed someti—"

    As soon as the boy was within arm's reach, the steel-type interrupted him by swiping the container out of his hands. Tate recoiled and clutched one of his wrists as he watched his companion bite into the head of the fish. After a few seconds, Tate shook off the shock and assumed a fighting stance. His eyes took on a brighter glow as a blue aura ebbed off his skin.

    "All right, you—"

    "Relax," Bill said between bites. "It's me."

    Tate paused for a few seconds, his mind probing the other ixodida's. Then, he lowered his claws and let the blue light fade.

    "You're actually eating a pokémon," he said incredulously.

    "I figured a few things out," Bill responded.

    "Like what?"

    Bill swallowed. "That the consequences of resisting are far greater than giving in."

    Tate furrowed his eyebrows. "Huh?"

    "I'm sorry. It's too difficult to explain right now."

    Bill grasped the half-eaten fish as he shakily stood. With his other hand, he shoved the plastic container back into Tate's hands.

    "Thanks for the fish," he said. "I should go before Lanette comes back."

    "What? Wait, go where?" Tate demanded. "Look, if you're worried about whether or not she'll try to kill you—"

    "That's…"

    Bill shook his head and looked at the ground. Her words resounded in his head, and in that instant, he shivered and bared his teeth in a grimace. He could hear her voice and the tone she used when she called him a monster, but he couldn't see her face. All he could see was the thing that snapped him out of it when he attacked everyone. The image of wide, brown eyes staring up at him. The small face, the blank expression, the way the girl's tiny frame stood within range of his claws.

    A stabbing, cold pain struck him to the core the second he realized he nearly broke a completely different promise he made to Lanette. He had only one duty on the Caravan, only one reason as far as he knew as to why Lanette kept him on the team, and he nearly forgot about it. He nearly forgot about her, the small, scared face in the rain. What's worse, he nearly broke his promise to Lanette in the most fantastic way possible. He could have killed her, and no matter what he did, he just couldn't shake that single thought.

    It scared him to think of how close he came to being that kind of monster.

    He could feel Adam's presence in his head, but he tried desperately not to think about it. His thoughts quickly shifted to his own words.

    "That's part of it, but it's not everything," he admitted quietly. But then, as he raised his eyes, his voice grew louder and stronger. "There's something I need to do on my own."

    Tate frowned. "What's that?"

    "Train. Naturally."

    Bill crouched with a smile, spreading his arms out as a golden aura flickered around him. Before it could ignite into a full-fledged Magnet Rise, it faded, and a sudden, stabbing pain ran through his torso. He choked back a cry as he doubled over and wrapped an arm around his stomach. The other hung limply, still clutching the fish. At the same time, Tate started forward.

    "Um, look, I don't think you're well enough to go by yourself," the boy said. "Maybe if you just waited, we'd—"

    The steel-type shook his head. "No. I need to do this alone. There's something I need to figure out, and I can't accept help to do it."

    "No offense, but you're not exactly great at defending yourself. And since you're right now more than a little bit hurt, you know that you're taking a huge chance by going out there alone, right?"

    Slowly, Bill began to smirk again. "I realize that completely, Tate. Regardless of what the others may think of me, I'm not stupid."

    "Then what's so important that you have to risk putting yourself in danger over it?" Tate demanded.

    Bill said nothing, opting instead to broaden his grin a little bit wider. His gaze met Tate's, and in that brief second, the psychic froze. A flicker of blue light danced in Tate's eyes, and a second later, the younger ixodida stiffened and backed away.

    "While I'm gone, watch over Hope for me," Bill said at last. "I'll come by to visit her once I've gotten through the first part of my training, but until then… just make sure she's safe. Please."

    "Um…"

    "Also, please tell Wallace and Steven that I've gone," he continued. "Eventually, I'll be ready to train with them as well."

    Tate closed his mouth. The blue light continued to flicker through his eyes for a few more seconds.

    "And tell Lanette that I'm sorry," Bill finished, his voice softer than it was a moment ago, "and that someday, I'll make this right." Then, with one last glance to Tate, he smiled once more. "Thank you."

    Then, he bit into the back of the feebas and held it in his mouth like a cat holding its prey. He dropped to all fours and darted into the underbrush that way, tail disappearing under the bushes before Tate could say another word. Behind him, the psychic only stared at the vanishing arrowhead as Steven returned to the end of the Caravan, this time accompanied by Wallace. Steven cast a curious glance towards the psychic, who finally turned to his companions.

    "I think I'll ride with you guys this time," Tate told him. "I need to talk to you about Bill. He's in serious trouble."

    "The fire-type?" Wallace asked as he climbed onto Metagross's back.

    As Tate leaned down to scoop up the Master Ball, he replied, "No. Worse."

    He stopped, examining the ball carefully. Its purple surface glinted in the sunlight no matter which way he turned it.

    "Much worse," he said.

    ---

    It was easy to forget whether it was night or day in Polaris Institute. Most of the complex was guarded with thick, windowless walls, so a view of the sun was a rare site limited to the windowed corridor between the Outer and Median Rings and the windows of the employee suites. Even then, sometimes, sunlight itself had no meaning to an overworked scientist.

    For that reason, John barely knew what time of day it was when he ambled wearily to his own suite. He only stared straight ahead as he trudged through the halls of the Outer Ring, found his door, and drew his ID out of a pocket. However, as soon as he placed his hand on the door, it swung open before he could unlock it, and all at once, he was intensely aware of his surroundings.

    Raising his eyes to the ceiling, he sighed, shook his head, and stepped into the dark apartment. Nonchalantly, he slipped his lab coat off and hung it on a hook beside the door. His heel kicked the door closed before his feet shuffled forward, carrying him through the doorway to the kitchen on his left. As he flicked on the lights, he cast a gaze towards the other door on the adjacent wall. A soft glow emanated from the sitting room beyond it.

    "Remind me again what your name was," he announced to the room. "Athena? Ariadne?"

    "Ariana."

    John moved to the other door and poked his head out of the kitchen. In the next room, he saw the shadow of the woman sitting straight on the couch. The soft glow of a laptop screen – from a computer sitting on his coffee table – illuminated her long, crossed legs.

    "Ah." He nodded and drew back into the kitchen. "I could never keep your damned codenames straight."

    "My apologies," Ariana said flatly.

    "Think nothing of it. Now then. Before we get any further, my dear, how did you get in?"

    Ariana pushed herself forward and stood gracefully. "A perfectly valid question. You must know, though, that as chief of security, I have the liberty of indulging in… perks."

    "No, no! No need to get up!" John strode out of the kitchen with a glass of scotch – straight, no rocks – in hand. "I was just fixing myself a drink. Would you like anything?"

    Ariana cautiously sat back down. "No. Thank you."

    "Are you sure? I've got a bottle of aged whisky. The real stuff, straight from Glenmorangie."

    "Professor," Ariana said, "we have important matters to discuss."

    "I'm sure we do," John replied cheerfully.

    "Where is Professor Oak's assistant?"

    John paused for a moment to take a sip. "Huh. That's not one of the topics I was expecting. He went home. Seems his mother's sick. Poor creature."

    "You're lying," Ariana told him. She drew out the syllables as if she was giving him a warning.

    To that, John smiled. "That's true, but I don't think it's any of your business where he is. And it's especially not your boss's."

    As he raised his glass, he peeled one of the fingers clutching it away from its sides to point at the laptop on the table. Ariana turned her head but said nothing in response. Instead, a third voice spoke for her.

    "Turn the screen to him, Ariana. I want to see him when I speak."

    Obediently, she turned the computer, revealing a screen-wide image of a man reclining in a large leather chair. He smiled as if he was speaking to a long-time friend, but his eyes looked hungry and dark.

    "Ah, Professor John McKenzie," he greeted. "It's been awhile, hasn't it?"

    "It certainly has, and I had hoped it'd be longer." John took another sip. "Say, there's something I've always wondered about your organization. Why have you never tried to take control of the storage system? Seems like that would be your idea of fun, and my boy doesn't exactly know how to make himself inconspicuous."

    Taken aback, Giovanni frowned. "It was never of interest to us."

    "Is that so? Well, so long as it had nothing to do with me. I don't want you to think I'd ever gone soft." John took a third sip and winked at the screen.

    "Are you stalling, John?" Giovanni asked in amusement.

    "Not really. It's just that you're of no interest to me, Mr. di Roketto."

    "So Ariana tells me," Giovanni said. "From what I understand, if given the proper incentive, you would consider rejoining the fight for our cause."

    At that, John snorted into his drink. He had to pull his glass away to burst out laughing. The sound of his voice boomed through the room and echoed off the walls.

    "Ah, you Rockets have such a fantastic sense of humor," he said. "No, I didn't say that at all. What cause, anyway? World domination? Have you ever really looked at the world lately? What in God's name would you want to do with that thing? Besides, you haven't got a thing I want. I don't want money, my family doesn't need protection, and I couldn't care less about power. What's there that you could possibly offer me?"

    Then, it was Giovanni's turn to smile. As John watched the other man's lips pull back into a broad, white grin, he did his best not to shudder or lose an ounce of composure.

    "Come now," Giovanni drawled. "There must be a reason why you've been hiding in Goldenrod City for almost twenty years."

    "Yeah. I like it there," John replied as he raised his glass. "The food clogs the heart, the lights keep you up at godless hours, the booze flows freely, the pachinko parlors seduce you with expensive prizes, and the girls have legs miles long. What more could I want?"

    "Your old reputation."

    John stopped. He drew his glass to his lips to hide a faltering smile, but he didn't dare tear his eyes away from the screen. Giovanni noticed this and leaned towards the camera on his end.

    "You can't deny it, can you? You were once the star of the Pokémon Symposium. The greatest mind in Pokémon biophysics. A brilliant inventor in his own right. Creator of the TM and HM systems. The man who wrote the book on move tutoring and who outshined Professor Samuel Oak at the peak of your career. And then, suddenly, he reappears in Goldenrod City addicted to gambling, women, and alcohol. Suddenly, he publishes papers that can be easily debunked by the most amateur researchers fresh from Celadon University. Suddenly, he becomes involved in countless scandals. Nothing too earth-shattering. Conning trainers. Fixing pachinko machines. Dealing with small-time yakuza families. Abandoning whatever work he bothered to do. How did it feel, John, when researchers in the Symposium began ignoring you? How did it feel when they began writing you off as a has-been, a charlatan, and nothing more than a mad scientist? How would you feel if I told you I had the power to erase all of that?"

    John downed the rest of his scotch and walked over to place his glass on the table. As he remained bent towards the screen, he cracked another smile.

    "I'd say you're an idiot." Straightening up, he started walking back towards the hall. "If I wanted any of that, don't you think I would have bothered to fix my own reputation? All it'd take would be a few papers here and there to prove that I'm not as much of a twit as I pretend I am. After all, if the Symposium lost all hope in me, I wouldn't be here, would I?"

    Giovanni laced his fingers together and placed his hands in front of his mouth. "Is that so?"

    In response, John turned and said, "Of course. Anyway, now that it's clear that you have nothing to offer me, I'll be off. Ariana, not that it matters considering this complex is full of your people, but make sure you lock up before you leave. Help yourself to anything from the kitchen, but I'll warn you right now, the bedroom doesn't contain anything that'd be interesting to you or your boss. Or if there is anything, don't tell me about it because I don't want to know what tickles your fancy."

    Ariana curled her hands into tense fists on her knees. Meanwhile, Giovanni moved his hands to reveal an amused smile. John, failing to notice either of these expressions, disappeared into the kitchen.

    "Where are you going, John?" he asked.

    "Where else?" John poked his head out of the kitchen to hold up a bottle of scotch. "The infirmary. The Nurse Joys get prettier the drunker you are, and if I'm arrested by the lovely Jennies of the security personnel, I'd rather be the happiest old man on Cinnabar Island while it's happening. And if you don't mind me saying so, talking to you puts me in that kind of mood."

    "Isn't it rather early for that kind of behavior?"

    John tilted his head. "Is it? What time is it?"

    "Noon," Ariana replied curtly.

    "Oh."

    John nodded. Then, after a pause, he uncorked the bottle, took a swig, and disappeared into the kitchen again. The next sounds either of the Rockets heard were the rustling of John's lab coat and the door clicking open. Ariana immediately stood and rushed towards the front hall. When she found John next, the door was halfway open.

    "It would be a mistake to make an enemy out of Team Rocket," she growled.

    He quirked an eyebrow at her. "Well, see, here's the problem."

    Throwing open the door, he stepped outside. Turning back, he saw Ariana's face illuminated in the sliver of an opening. Her jaw was set, but the skin of her face was bright red. It looked as if she was doing everything in her power to control her anger.

    John took this as a challenge.

    "The problem," he told her, "is I'm not afraid of you at all."

    With that, he slammed the door shut in her face and walked calmly down the corridor.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 18th May 2012 at 8:44 PM.

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

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  19. #269
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    :x nuuu, Jax. your not aloud to ask the readers fer names! In all seriousness, Raye is pretty good. Sophie seems a little too... neither Scottish nor Japanese.

    One thing this chapter makes clear to me is that John McKenzie is impossibly badass. The only thing that could have made that scene better is if John called Ariana 'toots' or 'sugar buns' or something sexist from the fifties. A nice little touch from that scene I did like was when John got Ariana's codename wrong and referred to her as Athena which is the name she has in the Japanese version of the games. Ariadne is of course the woman who boasted to have weaving skills better than Athena and once defeated, was turned into a spider for her troubles.

    Holy crap. Major Edit time. The weaving woman was Arachne... Ariadne was the princess who gave Theseus the string to get through the labyrinth... Wow, I suck.

    If I hadn't already made this clear, I bloody love Greek Mythology and anything that makes references to it :P

    Nice to see Bill taking his fate into his own hands (claws?) After his little incident, perhaps some solitude and reflection is the best thing for him.
    Last edited by Diddy; 18th May 2012 at 9:04 PM.
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  20. #270
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    The part with Bill keep telling Adam he's not a monster, dang quite an intense moment there. D: Like Diddy, I too like Bill taking the initiative and I especially love the "That the consequences of resisting are far greater than giving in" line. Also found it interesting Tate can't distinguish between Bill and Adam. Wonder if that'll be shown more soon (won't be disappointed if that's not the case, heh).

    Also like Diddy agree that John is awesome there. Great work, looking forward to next chapter!

    As for names, Raye is a good one.


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  21. #271
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Anima Ex Machina
    Twenty-Eight: We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

    As Bill soon learned, the gray forest did whatever he wanted it to do except let him go. He could bend trees, convince the sky to turn green, even populate it with pokémon if he wanted, but it would never end.

    More than that, there was no real concept of time, but he already knew that. He knew that sometimes two minutes in the gray forest would be an hour outside. Other times, seconds in reality would be years there.

    Yet both facts never seemed as real to him as they did when he woke up next. The first several hours, he screamed and cried and clawed at himself in a desperate attempt to get rid of the memory of the attack. All he could think about was how he floated in a dark space behind his eyes but could hear the voices of his friends, could feel his body lash out and act on its own. The second several hours, when his voice grew hoarse and his limbs grew weary and caked in dried blood, were spent in complete misery. Adam hadn't made its presence known, and there was no end to Bill's dream in sight. He was trapped, unable to apologize or fix anything he had done outside of that space. All he had, as he lay on the soft earth, was the memory repeating itself over and over again.[/quote]

    Good job fixing the things I pointed out. These are really a beautiful few lines here, and with just these few parts you already painted a very vivid picture.

    In the third several hours, he got up and started walking. That was the part that took eons.

    He had no aim. Although he knew the path through the forest by heart and wanted to go home – his home, the lighthouse on the cliff – he knew he would never reach the end of the forest if he tried walking straight there. So instead, he wandered aimlessly, weaving a winding path between the trees. He made the sun set and the moon rise. He made storms roll in (but never soak him) and clear away. He made ghost-like eevee and squirtle and swablu flit through the trees and fill the forest with sounds, and he made them disappear and fall silent. But he couldn't escape, and he couldn't see what was outside the forest. Eventually, his memory of the outside world began to fade. There was no way for him to tell how long he had spent wandering; he felt like he had been wandering for years but knew it wasn't relevant. So long as he made the sun and moon rise and set when he wanted them to, days didn't mean a thing to him.
    This is creepy enough on the surface, but when you realize just what constructs this world, it becomes terrifying.

    Every so often, he would settle down in a spot and close his eyes. He didn't think he was sleeping in those moments. They were simply dark expanses of time that stretched across two points of the gray forest. Occasionally, in these visions, he would reach out and see a flash of light, but the flashes would fade and plunge him deeper into the darkness.

    After one of these moments, he felt Adam's presence.

    "There you are," Adam said. "I have been looking for you."

    Bill sat up. He knew where Adam was – behind him, in a tree – but he didn't bother acknowledging the parasite.

    "Upset, are we?"

    A rustle and a thump signaled Adam's fall from its perch. Bill could hear the crunch of leaves with the creature's every step. He felt its warm arms slide around his shoulders and embrace him tightly, and all at once, his body tensed.

    "Is that any way to treat your partner?" Adam purred.

    Bill narrowed his eyes but said nothing in response. Eventually, Adam drew itself away from him and stood.

    "I came to congratulate you on a job well done," Adam said. "You battled a member of the empress's court and survived. Had you fed properly beforehand, you might have actually succeeded in doing real damage to him."

    In the beat of silence, Adam didn't expect Bill to reply. Because of that, it drew itself away from him, bowed its head slightly, and exhaled.
    Very unsettling even though the situation itself is technically still calm. It really is that sometimes the calmest situations are the most disturbing. That's the word I'd use to describe Adam's not-so-subtle manipulation - disturbing.

    "Incidentally, that is what happened, if you were wondering. I warned you, did I not? We need fresh, raw meat in order to regenerate ourselves. Pokémon meat especially. We can absorb their regeneration factor and accelerate our own healing, and we need the boost of energy their meat can provide in order to power our own abilities. Cooked meat loses that quality, and your animal 'jerky,' while it may sate our hunger, does very little for us in terms of truly sustaining our abilities. It is nothing more than candy to my kind."

    Bill shifted in his seat. Out of the corner of its eye, Adam watched him.

    "Did that pique your interest?" Adam asked.

    Its host stood, clenching his hands by his sides as he kept his eyes on the ground.

    "I must say, I am rather pleased," Adam continued as it rose to its own feet. "Many hosts fail to adapt. That is why rogues are uncommon to rare. Humans, from what I have observed in my dormant state, are particularly fragile. You are indeed different from the others. Perhaps you are worthy of being my partner. There certainly is hope for you as a warrior."

    "I'm not a monster," Bill hissed.
    And thus the temptation begins. You're really doing an excellent job of giving Adam this almost diabolical edge, especially here.

    Adam lifted its chin. "Is that what you think of my kind? Monsters? Dear host, we are far above that. We fight when it is necessary."

    "I'm not," Bill replied, his every word grunted slowly through clenched teeth, "a monster."

    "Is this about your loss of control? An amateur mistake. You will learn to harness and control that rage and then channel it towards only necessary battles."

    "I. Am not. A monster."
    Liking the repetition of "I am not a monster" in various ways. It strengthens the conflict between the two sides.

    "Is this about the fact that you nearly killed that girl of yours?" Adam's voice dropped low, but it was dripping with his amusement. "The interesting one. Lanette. Oh. You promised her that you would never lose control, did you? Well, this certainly complicates things. Perhaps it would be better this way. You no longer would be burdened with the task of fighting for her favor. After all, I doubt that she would have anything to do with you now that she knows exactly what you will eventually become."

    "I. Am. Not. A. Monster."

    Adam hesitated. "This is not about Lanette at all, is it? Oh… I see. It is about the boring one who fears my kind. Yes, you could have killed her. She only stood there, after all. A fairly easy target, had it not been for the runt protecting her." It paused for a second time. "I wonder what she thinks of you now. You must forgive me for saying such, but I have never been very fond of sisters. Nothing good has ever come of them. That having been said, the little one would only serve as a distraction to our mission. Perhaps it would be best that she thinks of you as a monster, then."
    Wow, Adam, you did NOT just go there. Over the line, bro.

    "I am not—!"

    Bill whirled around to face Adam, but he stopped dead in his tracks. There, behind him, he saw himself as a human. The expression was still the unnervingly blank mask Adam always wore, but everything else – the fingers, the skin, everything – was exactly what he remembered seeing in the mirror as a complete and independent person. Adam drew a hand – rounded tips, no claws – to its mouth.

    "You dropped this on the way here. I simply picked up what you discarded. It is not like you need it anymore," Adam explained. "But I do find it curious how much you identify with that body now."
    Dude. I don't think I can even describe how that twist made me feel.

    THIS is how you do psychological horror.

    Shaking, Bill looked down and drew his steel-plated hands into view. His tail curled behind him in an anxious knot, and he was aware of the fangs filling his mouth for the first time since he began walking.

    "Do not fear it," Adam said. "Incidentally, I read something fascinating in your mind while you were preoccupied."

    Bill looked up and slowly backed away from the parasite. The blank look on its face suddenly seemed more terrifying than anything else he had faced thus far.
    Does Adam have red eyes, a perpetual smile and cat ears?

    "Nyctophobia, the irrational fear of darkness," it said. "In truth, it is not fear of the dark itself but instead of the things that are in the dark."

    With each word, Bill slid backwards. His back eventually hit a tree, and his hands clutched its trunk. A cold, clammy feeling flowed through every point of his body, and with every second, the gray forest grew dimmer and dimmer.

    Then, the corners of Adam's mouth twitched.

    "Monsters like us, Bill, have no reason to be afraid of the dark," Adam told him. "It is what we find when we wake up that we should fear the most."

    At that very second, Bill woke up.

    He saw nothing.

    Literal.

    Unending.

    Nothing.
    I like the way you used the last four lines for emphasis, though I might have used something other than "literal."


    The plastic cooler in Lanette's lap rattled violently. She slammed her hands on its top, pressing the lid down to keep the Master Ball inside it closed. Her lips curled back in a snarl, and turning her head away from Steven, she growled just low enough that her voice was masked by the sound of the engines in the Caravan.

    "Stop it!"

    Even though Lanette tried to keep her voice down, Steven still looked over his shoulder at her. The two of them sat on the back of Steven's metagross as it glided through the air behind the van at the rear of the convoy; Wallace had taken Lanette's place in the truck's cabin on her request. She, meanwhile, sat with her back to the gray-haired champion and her attention mostly consumed by the container in her lap. While it remained mostly quiet for the better part of the journey, there were moments when the ball inside it tried to crack open. The lid would tilt open slightly as a white light flickered from within it, and at these moments, Lanette would slam it closed again, forcing the ball to shut on the pokémon trying again and again to escape.
    Did you mention before that the gray forest was what Bill sees when inside the Master Ball? I've forgotten if it was said before, but it really is a good idea.

    "Why not? He barely has any aptitude on the field, he shows very little interest in battling, and he somehow attracts more trouble than the psychic. In total, weak and a hassle when he's in control; dangerous to everything around him when he's out of control. As far as I'm concerned, this thing is nothing but dead weight to us."

    "That thing is your partner," Steven answered. After a slight hesitation, he added, "I've read about you, you know. The two of you created the storage system together, right? Trainers all over Japan have both you and Bill to thank. I'm one of them."

    Lanette leaned forward to press even harder on the lid of the cooler. "Forgive me for failing to understand your point."

    "My point is your partnership is what made you famous. Neither of you could have done it alone. Isn't that right?"

    It took a few moments, but Lanette finally answered. When she did, her voice was even lower. "It was a different time back then."

    "Maybe so," Steven admitted, "but if you believed with all your heart that no part of what's in that Master Ball is Bill, you wouldn't be this upset, would you?"

    "Upset?" Lanette snapped.

    "It seems to me that his attack on us hurt more than just Vito's alakazam. You cared enough about him to take him with us, yet you're personally seeing to it that he doesn't escape his ball."
    I see the point Steven's trying to make, but it's painful to watch Lanette not get it.

    For a long while, Lanette gave Steven a side glance. Even though he could see only one of her eyes, he noticed the dark look in them, the glitter of sheer anger and of something deeper and more painful than she was telling him. He wanted to reach out to rest a hand on her shoulder, but she moved, shifting her eyes to the path and leaning away from his reach. Then, she opened one of the pouches on her belt and pulled from it a poké ball. Tossing it into the air, she let it crack open and release her solrock. As soon as the light faded, it shook itself awake and floated alongside its mistress.

    "Go to the front of the Caravan and release the signal," she ordered. "We're stopping for a moment."

    "Stopping?" Steven asked.

    In the same instant, her solrock nodded and soared over the rest of the Caravan to the front of the line. Lanette, refusing to respond to Steven, slid off Metagross's back with the cooler in her arms. Her feet hit the ground, and she crouched as Solrock flashed twice behind her. Then, as she rose to her feet, the van, the truck, and the metagross all halted in their tracks.

    "Lanette?" Steven called. "What's going on?"

    She turned to him. "You think I care about that monster?!"
    And now I'm glad I beta'd this, because I'd be screaming at the screen if I didn't know what was coming.

    One of her hands reached up to yank her crowbar from its sheath. The other dropped the cooler to the ground. Her boot connected with its side, sending it arcing away from her until it split open and spilled onto the ground. From within it, the Master Ball rolled until it cracked open in mid-cycle. A flash of light lit up the path, and finally, a few yards from Lanette, Bill appeared, kneeling with his head bent low. He wearily opened his eyes and blinked at the black dirt.

    "What are you doing?!" Steven shouted.

    "What I should have done as soon as I found this thing!" she barked.

    Launching forward, she dashed across the distance between herself and the ixodida. The steel-type looked up, the situation dawning on him a second too late. She jumped on him, driving his back into the dirt as she pinned him down with her crowbar. Her knees held her weapon against his stomach while one hand shoved his shoulder into the dirt. The other reached for her side and unsheathed her knife. Its blade glinted in the sunlight, and all at once, Bill felt terrifyingly lucid.

    "Lanette, no!" Steven yelled.

    Right then, the champion's hand grabbed Lanette's wrist, and an arm curved around her waist. Steven yanked her to her feet as she screamed and struggled desperately against him.

    "Let me go! I have to—I have to…!"

    "Stop!" Steven cried. "You don't know what you're doing!"

    "I know exactly what I'm doing!" she screamed.
    I just realized what to compare this to to rationalize it.

        Spoiler:- spoiler:


    Her eyes flashed at the ixodida. As he sat, scrambling to piece together the situation, all Bill could see was the red of her eyes. Angry, dark red. He shook and inched himself backwards, away from her as she glared at him.

    "You liar!" she shrieked. "You monster! You promised me! You promised me that I wouldn't have to do this again! You… you…!"

    For a split second, Bill could see her face twist, her eyes narrowing and misting as her mouth stretched. She turned in Steven's grip and shoved an arm into the champion's chest.

    "You bastard," she growled. "Let me make this absolutely clear so that even you would understand. We're done. I'm willing to believe that you had Bill's memories, but as far as I'm concerned, you killed him. I don't know what you are, but you and I have no further business between us. I'm not your friend, and I'm not your partner. You are nothing but a monster. So, you want your freedom? Take it. Take the Master Ball and do whatever you want with it. But don't you dare come anywhere near me again, or I swear to all the gods, I will end you. I mean it this time."
    I died a little inside at this point just trying to imagine how much this hurts for all involved.

    He turned and swiftly made his way to the front of the Caravan. Tate watched him briefly before starting forward with the plastic container in his hands. Halfway between the ixodida and Steven's metagross, the boy cracked open the container. Bill sniffed, catching the scent of dead fish in the air. Perking up, he glanced at the container as Tate tipped it forward just enough for him to see its contents: a dead and gutted feebas. Tate sighed as he approached.
    Do you not know how rare Feebas are?!! Zigzagoon are one thing!

    "You're not going to give me any trouble about this, are you? Because whether you like it or not, you're going to have to feed someti—"

    As soon as the boy was within arm's reach, the steel-type interrupted him by swiping the container out of his hands. Tate recoiled and clutched one of his wrists as he watched his companion bite into the head of the fish. After a few seconds, Tate shook off the shock and assumed a fighting stance. His eyes took on a brighter glow as a blue aura ebbed off his skin.

    "All right, you—"

    "Relax," Bill said between bites. "It's me."

    Tate paused for a few seconds, his mind probing the other ixodida's. Then, he lowered his claws and let the blue light fade.

    "You're actually eating a pokémon," he said incredulously.

    "I figured a few things out," Bill responded.

    "Like what?"

    Bill swallowed. "That the consequences of resisting are far greater than giving in."

    Tate furrowed his eyebrows. "Huh?"

    "I'm sorry. It's too difficult to explain right now."
    I'll be waiting on that explanation too, because I'm pretty intrigued...

    Bill shook his head and looked at the ground. Her words resounded in his head, and in that instant, he shivered and bared his teeth in a grimace. He could hear her voice and the tone she used when she called him a monster, but he couldn't see her face. All he could see was the thing that snapped him out of it when he attacked everyone. The image of wide, brown eyes staring up at him. The small face, the blank expression, the way the girl's tiny frame stood within range of his claws.

    A stabbing, cold pain struck him to the core the second he realized he nearly broke a completely different promise he made to Lanette. He had only one duty on the Caravan, only one reason as far as he knew as to why Lanette kept him on the team, and he nearly forgot about it. He nearly forgot about her, the small, scared face in the rain. What's worse, he nearly broke his promise to Lanette in the most fantastic way possible. He could have killed her, and no matter what he did, he just couldn't shake that single thought.

    It scared him to think of how close he came to being that kind of monster.
    That was actually pretty depressing and disturbing to read.

    "While I'm gone, watch over Hope for me," Bill said at last. "I'll come by to visit her once I've gotten through the first part of my training, but until then… just make sure she's safe. Please."

    "Um…"

    "Also, please tell Wallace and Steven that I've gone," he continued. "Eventually, I'll be ready to train with them as well."

    Tate closed his mouth. The blue light continued to flicker through his eyes for a few more seconds.

    "And tell Lanette that I'm sorry," Bill finished, his voice softer than it was a moment ago, "and that someday, I'll make this right." Then, with one last glance to Tate, he smiled once more. "Thank you."

    Then, he bit into the back of the feebas and held it in his mouth like a cat holding its prey. He dropped to all fours and darted into the underbrush that way, tail disappearing under the bushes before Tate could say another word. Behind him, the psychic only stared at the vanishing arrowhead as Steven returned to the end of the Caravan, this time accompanied by Wallace. Steven cast a curious glance towards the psychic, who finally turned to his companions.

    "I think I'll ride with you guys this time," Tate told him. "I need to talk to you about Bill. He's in serious trouble."

    "The fire-type?" Wallace asked as he climbed onto Metagross's back.

    As Tate leaned down to scoop up the Master Ball, he replied, "No. Worse."

    He stopped, examining the ball carefully. Its purple surface glinted in the sunlight no matter which way he turned it.

    "Much worse," he said.
    Why must you tease us so? To think you leave us like this, wondering what's happened to our hero...!!

    It was easy to forget whether it was night or day in Polaris Institute. Most of the complex was guarded with thick, windowless walls, so a view of the sun was a rare site limited to the windowed corridor between the Outer and Median Rings and the windows of the employee suites. Even then, sometimes, sunlight itself had no meaning to an overworked scientist.

    For that reason, John barely knew what time of day it was when he ambled wearily to his own suite. He only stared straight ahead as he trudged through the halls of the Outer Ring, found his door, and drew his ID out of a pocket. However, as soon as he placed his hand on the door, it swung open before he could unlock it, and all at once, he was intensely aware of his surroundings.
    **** yeah! John's back!

    Raising his eyes to the ceiling, he sighed, shook his head, and stepped into the dark apartment. Nonchalantly, he slipped his lab coat off and hung it on a hook beside the door. His heel kicked the door closed before his feet shuffled forward, carrying him through the doorway to the kitchen on his left. As he flicked on the lights, he cast a gaze towards the other door on the adjacent wall. A soft glow emanated from the sitting room beyond it.

    "Remind me again what your name was," he announced to the room. "Athena? Ariadne?"

    "Ariana."
    And **** yeah, Ariana's here! Nice fourth-wall leaning with Athena, too.

    John moved to the other door and poked his head out of the kitchen. In the next room, he saw the shadow of the woman sitting straight on the couch. The soft glow of a laptop screen – from a computer sitting on his coffee table – illuminated her long, crossed legs.

    "Ah." He nodded and drew back into the kitchen. "I could never keep your damned codenames straight."

    "My apologies," Ariana said flatly.

    "Think nothing of it. Now then. Before we get any further, my dear, how did you get in?"

    Ariana pushed herself forward and stood gracefully. "A perfectly valid question. You must know, though, that as chief of security, I have the liberty of indulging in… perks."
    New OTP incoming. Seriously, can you blame me?

    "No, no! No need to get up!" John strode out of the kitchen with a glass of scotch – straight, no rocks – in hand. "I was just fixing myself a drink. Would you like anything?"

    Ariana cautiously sat back down. "No. Thank you."

    "Are you sure? I've got a bottle of aged whisky. The real stuff, straight from Glenmorangie."

    "Professor," Ariana said, "we have important matters to discuss."
    Must be important if she refused booze.

    "I'm sure we do," John replied cheerfully.

    "Where is Professor Oak's assistant?"

    John paused for a moment to take a sip. "Huh. That's not one of the topics I was expecting. He went home. Seems his mother's sick. Poor creature."

    "You're lying," Ariana told him. She drew out the syllables as if she was giving him a warning.

    To that, John smiled. "That's true, but I don't think it's any of your business where he is. And it's especially not your boss's."
    Remind me where he actually is? I can't remember right now.

    As he raised his glass, he peeled one of the fingers clutching it away from its sides to point at the laptop on the table. Ariana turned her head but said nothing in response. Instead, a third voice spoke for her.

    "Turn the screen to him, Ariana. I want to see him when I speak."

    Obediently, she turned the computer, revealing a screen-wide image of a man reclining in a large leather chair. He smiled as if he was speaking to a long-time friend, but his eyes looked hungry and dark.

    "Ah, Professor John McKenzie," he greeted. "It's been awhile, hasn't it?"
    You know, I should have expected this, but I didn't.

    "It certainly has, and I had hoped it'd be longer." John took another sip. "Say, there's something I've always wondered about your organization. Why have you never tried to take control of the storage system? Seems like that would be your idea of fun, and my boy doesn't exactly know how to make himself inconspicuous."

    Taken aback, Giovanni frowned. "It was never of interest to us."

    "Is that so? Well, so long as it had nothing to do with me. I don't want you to think I'd ever gone soft." John took a third sip and winked at the screen.
    Lampshading that Team Plasma had control of the system and never did anything with it?

    "Are you stalling, John?" Giovanni asked in amusement.

    "Not really. It's just that you're of no interest to me, Mr. di Roketto."
    Uh oh, watch out, we got a badass here. You generally don't talk to Giovanni like that.

    "Come now," Giovanni drawled. "There must be a reason why you've been hiding in Goldenrod City for almost twenty years."

    "Yeah. I like it there," John replied as he raised his glass. "The food clogs the heart, the lights keep you up at godless hours, the booze flows freely, the pachinko parlors seduce you with expensive prizes, and the girls have legs miles long. What more could I want?"
    I am not sure if he means this in a good way or a bad way. Really.

    "Your old reputation."

    John stopped. He drew his glass to his lips to hide a faltering smile, but he didn't dare tear his eyes away from the screen. Giovanni noticed this and leaned towards the camera on his end.

    "You can't deny it, can you? You were once the star of the Pokémon Symposium. The greatest mind in Pokémon biophysics. A brilliant inventor in his own right. Creator of the TM and HM systems. The man who wrote the book on move tutoring and who outshined Professor Samuel Oak at the peak of your career. And then, suddenly, he reappears in Goldenrod City addicted to gambling, women, and alcohol. Suddenly, he publishes papers that can be easily debunked by the most amateur researchers fresh from Celadon University. Suddenly, he becomes involved in countless scandals. Nothing too earth-shattering. Conning trainers. Fixing pachinko machines. Dealing with small-time yakuza families. Abandoning whatever work he bothered to do. How did it feel, John, when researchers in the Symposium began ignoring you? How did it feel when they began writing you off as a has-been, a charlatan, and nothing more than a mad scientist? How would you feel if I told you I had the power to erase all of that?"
    Okay, I take it back, this guy really is a badass. Well actually we already knew that, but it's clear as day now.

    John downed the rest of his scotch and walked over to place his glass on the table. As he remained bent towards the screen, he cracked another smile.

    "I'd say you're an idiot." Straightening up, he started walking back towards the hall. "If I wanted any of that, don't you think I would have bothered to fix my own reputation? All it'd take would be a few papers here and there to prove that I'm not as much of a twit as I pretend I am. After all, if the Symposium lost all hope in me, I wouldn't be here, would I?"

    Giovanni laced his fingers together and placed his hands in front of his mouth. "Is that so?"
    Giovanni's clearly looking for someone to clone his dead wife so he can fuse his mutated hand with her to cause the apocalypse RIGHT?

    In response, John turned and said, "Of course. Anyway, now that it's clear that you have nothing to offer me, I'll be off. Ariana, not that it matters considering this complex is full of your people, but make sure you lock up before you leave. Help yourself to anything from the kitchen, but I'll warn you right now, the bedroom doesn't contain anything that'd be interesting to you or your boss. Or if there is anything, don't tell me about it because I don't want to know what tickles your fancy."
    I get the feeling John would find quite a few things missing from his bedroom...


    "Where else?" John poked his head out of the kitchen to hold up a bottle of scotch. "The infirmary. The Nurse Joys get prettier the drunker you are, and if I'm arrested by the lovely Jennies of the security personnel, I'd rather be the happiest old man on Cinnabar Island while it's happening. And if you don't mind me saying so, talking to you puts me in that kind of mood."
    Huh? That one reads a little oddly, can't quite make sense of it.

    "Isn't it rather early for that kind of behavior?"

    John tilted his head. "Is it? What time is it?"

    "Noon," Ariana replied curtly.

    "Oh."
    Okay, I laughed.

    John nodded. Then, after a pause, he uncorked the bottle, took a swig, and disappeared into the kitchen again. The next sounds either of the Rockets heard were the rustling of John's lab coat and the door clicking open. Ariana immediately stood and rushed towards the front hall. When she found John next, the door was halfway open.

    "It would be a mistake to make an enemy out of Team Rocket," she growled.

    He quirked an eyebrow at her. "Well, see, here's the problem."

    Throwing open the door, he stepped outside. Turning back, he saw Ariana's face illuminated in the sliver of an opening. Her jaw was set, but the skin of her face was bright red. It looked as if she was doing everything in her power to control her anger.

    John took this as a challenge.

    "The problem," he told her, "is I'm not afraid of you at all."

    With that, he slammed the door shut in her face and walked calmly down the corridor.
    Wow um... he sure isn't afraid if Team Rocket can't intimidate him at all.

    I think the strongest part of this chapter was the emotion. At times it actually got difficult to read, and Bill's struggling with the consequences of his actions was very sad to see. Adam was notably absent for a lot of this chapter, but the time he was around served to become outright disturbing.

    Sorry if this review isn't so great, I'm still not all together.

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  22. #272
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    :x nuuu, Jax. your not aloud to ask the readers fer names!
    OH SORRY I'LL GO POST IN THE AUTHOR'S CAFÉ THEN. :V

    In all seriousness, Raye is pretty good. Sophie seems a little too... neither Scottish nor Japanese.
    That makes three votes for Raye already (including one from my beta). I get the feeling that's what we're going with. b)'')b Honestly, I really like that one too, and that's one of the reasons why.

    One thing this chapter makes clear to me is that John McKenzie is impossibly badass.
    He doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis.

    The only thing that could have made that scene better is if John called Ariana 'toots' or 'sugar buns' or something sexist from the fifties.
    Haha, if only I could imagine Sean Connery saying that. If I could, that would have totally happened.

    A nice little touch from that scene I did like was when John got Ariana's codename wrong and referred to her as Athena which is the name she has in the Japanese version of the games. Ariadne is of course the woman who boasted to have weaving skills better than Athena and once defeated, was turned into a spider for her troubles.

    Holy crap. Major Edit time. The weaving woman was Arachne... Ariadne was the princess who gave Theseus the string to get through the labyrinth... Wow, I suck.
    Y'know, I was thinking about Arachne because that would've made a better reference, but I went with Ariadne because it's one letter off Ariana's French name (Ariane).

    If I hadn't already made this clear, I bloody love Greek Mythology and anything that makes references to it :P
    *brofists* And there will totally be a lot more!

    Nice to see Bill taking his fate into his own hands (claws?) After his little incident, perhaps some solitude and reflection is the best thing for him.
    Agreed. Or as much solitude as he can get with the empress's court trailing after him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bay View Post
    The part with Bill keep telling Adam he's not a monster, dang quite an intense moment there. D:
    Thank you! Now the challenge is getting himself to believe it.

    Also found it interesting Tate can't distinguish between Bill and Adam. Wonder if that'll be shown more soon (won't be disappointed if that's not the case, heh).
    It might be. *grins and tents fingers*

    Also like Diddy agree that John is awesome there. :D Great work, looking forward to next chapter!
    Thank you all around! John is insanely fun to write, so I'm pleased other people liked how that went down. :D

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Good job fixing the things I pointed out.
    Thanks! I'll admit I was playing around with the first line for a bit because I wasn't sure where to put that key phrase, but I'm glad it turned out all right.

    This is creepy enough on the surface, but when you realize just what constructs this world, it becomes terrifying.
    Oh yes. Leave it to Bill to prove that you can totally mind**** yourself.

    Very unsettling even though the situation itself is technically still calm. It really is that sometimes the calmest situations are the most disturbing. That's the word I'd use to describe Adam's not-so-subtle manipulation - disturbing.
    Y'know, I didn't realize until you mentioned it just how far Adam's come from the first scene in Gray Forest. I guess this just shows that Adam's techniques are most definitely evolving.

    And thus the temptation begins. You're really doing an excellent job of giving Adam this almost diabolical edge, especially here.
    Thank you!

    Wow, Adam, you did NOT just go there. Over the line, bro.
    Yep. Adam just jammed its hand on Bill's berserk button. Luckily, this is considered another one of Bill's heroic BSODs because otherwise…

    …Well, actually, you'll get to see what happens when you mess with Bill's sister(s) in his presence later.

    Dude. I don't think I can even describe how that twist made me feel.

    THIS is how you do psychological horror.
    *bows* :D

    Does Adam have red eyes, a perpetual smile and cat ears?
    MAYBE.

    It may also ask gullible humans to make contracts with it.

    …Which actually happened in this fic. (Oh, that first Gray Forest scene.)

    I like the way you used the last four lines for emphasis, though I might have used something other than "literal."
    Hmm. That's a good thought. I'll have to play around with that part to see what else might fit there.

    Did you mention before that the gray forest was what Bill sees when inside the Master Ball? I've forgotten if it was said before, but it really is a good idea.
    Nope, but thanks! Truth be told, Gray Forest is what Bill sees when he's unconscious or asleep. The nothingness is what he sees when he's inside the Master Ball. (In this world, that's what all Pokémon perceive, but most of them enter a state of semi-dormancy. They're vaguely aware of what's going on outside of their balls, but they don't actually perceive that they're locked in a void. This also explains why Ash's Pikachu hates being kept in Poké Balls and why so many other Pokémon have a penchant for breaking out. Because some Pokémon do perceive the void and are incredibly freaked out by it.)

    I see the point Steven's trying to make, but it's painful to watch Lanette not get it.
    Yep. And she probably won't for some time. She's just that pissed off.

    And now I'm glad I beta'd this, because I'd be screaming at the screen if I didn't know what was coming.
    *cackles madly*

    I just realized what to compare this to to rationalize it.

        Spoiler:- spoiler:
    Oh my God, that's a beautiful and intensely appropriate comparison.

    Even if Lanette is Homura.

    I died a little inside at this point just trying to imagine how much this hurts for all involved.
    Oh yes. Some more than others.

    ….

    *pets Lanette*

    Do you not know how rare Feebas are?!! Zigzagoon are one thing!
    PAYBACK FOR BEING SUCH A ***** TO CATCH. >:D

    I'll be waiting on that explanation too, because I'm pretty intrigued...
    And you certainly will get it, hopefully in the next chapter~!

    That was actually pretty depressing and disturbing to read.
    Thank you! Yeah, Bill's finally remembering that he's got a duty to his sister. And what's even more depressing is that…

    …Well, let's just say that Bill has plenty of family issues he doesn't talk about. (Until maybe next chapter.)

    Why must you tease us so? To think you leave us like this, wondering what's happened to our hero...!!
    Because I'm evil. ;D

    And **** yeah, Ariana's here! Nice fourth-wall leaning with Athena, too.
    *le bow* I love John because he's probably the character who's the most genre savvy out of the entire cast.

    New OTP incoming. Seriously, can you blame me?
    Not at all. ;D

    There needs to be, like, a Homestuck-esque shipping wall for the entire cast. It would take forever to describe all the fantastic configurations.

    Remind me where he actually is? I can't remember right now.
    Tracey? I never mentioned where he was. ;D But don't worry. You'll see soon enough!

    You know, I should have expected this, but I didn't.
    *le bows again*

    Lampshading that Team Plasma had control of the system and never did anything with it?
    Oh man, lampshading everything about gameverse evil teams and the programmers. Literally, the only one who gets a pass on this one is Lanette, and that's only because Teams Aqua and Plasma weren't trying to take over the world. >8| Everyone else? Oh, let's see.

    1. Team Plasma came close to controlling the system, but did they do anything with it? Nope! Which is hilarious because their biggest goal was to separate people from their Pokémon. Y'know. A goal that would have been achievable by hacking everyone's accounts and screwing with them to either disable the system or release every captured Pokémon in Unova.

    2. Then you have Bebe, who lives smack in the middle of the largest city in Sinnoh. Granted, Team Galactic wasn't after disabling trainers in order to reach their goals, but you'd think that'd make things easier, right?

    3. And then you have Bill, which turns into all shades of hilarious because he managed to evade being remotely bothered by the one team that's most notorious for wanting to take over the world when it took over his hometown. Even better, depending on how you play the game (read: depending on whether or not you visit Ecruteak's Pokémon Center before defeating the Mahogany Gym), there's a good chance that Bill is actually in the city at the time. And even more hilarious, Gen II had him inventing a time machine, so with Team Rocket crawling all over Goldenrod and with Bill practically painting a bullseye on himself, there is literally no conceivable excuse as to why absolutely no one in the organization stopped and said, "Hey! You know what would be really cool? If we could not only control the Pokémon storage system but also mother****in' time and space." This is also ignoring the fact that Gens I and III put Team Rocket recruiters in the vicinity of his home, which would technically mean that he's happily and obliviously skipped away from Team Rocket's clutches not once but twice. It's also ignoring the fact that, even more hilariously, the only time that Team Rocket has ever targeted him specifically was in the one canon in which he wasn't even explicitly an inventor (read: the anime). In every other canon, they've either ignored him, targeted him because he has an unfortunate habit of making friends with protagonists, or went after a Pokémon he was looking after because it was their property to begin with. (Toshihiro Ono's extra really is that amusing, by the way.)

    Tl;dr, evil teams really dropped the ball, but Team Rocket seems to have dropped the ball off a skyscraper. Except for Jessie and James. Somehow.

    Uh oh, watch out, we got a badass here. You generally don't talk to Giovanni like that.
    Unless you're awesome. ;D

    I am not sure if he means this in a good way or a bad way. Really.
    Haha, well! John is a man of… interesting morals. His idea of fun is pretty much eating greasy food, drinking heavily, gambling at insane hours, and hitting on young women. (His wife is only okay with this because she knows she's the only one he sleeps with at the end of the day. John may be sleazy, drunk, and lecherous, but at least he's honest to the woman he actually loves.)

    Okay, I take it back, this guy really is a badass. Well actually we already knew that, but it's clear as day now.
    Haha, he is.

    Giovanni's clearly looking for someone to clone his dead wife so he can fuse his mutated hand with her to cause the apocalypse RIGHT?
    SHHH. THAT'S TOTALLY NOT THEIR ULTIMATE GOAL.

    I get the feeling John would find quite a few things missing from his bedroom...
    Like all of his underwear. All of it.

    But he wouldn't mind because he probably struts around commando anyway.

    Raise your hand if I just planted in your mind the image of Sean Connery without any underwear. To those of you raising your hands, you're welcome.

    Huh? That one reads a little oddly, can't quite make sense of it.
    Basically speaking, John wants to get drunk at the infirmary and hit on the Nurse Joys working there. He then wants to continue being drunk when the Officer Jennies of the security personnel come to drag him away so he can hit on them and generally be intensely happy that he's being man-handled (professionally) by hot police officers in mini-skirts. He would literally be the happiest man on Cinnabar Island (where Polaris is) if things happened in that order.

    With that said, I'll totally take another look at it to see if it can be phrased any clearer. Thanks!

    Wow um... he sure isn't afraid if Team Rocket can't intimidate him at all.
    Haha, yeeep. Evil organization equivalent to the yakuza on steroids? Mock them and then slam a door in their faces. That will totally end well.

    …If you're awesome.

    I think the strongest part of this chapter was the emotion.
    Thanks! Ngl, I have a lot of fun writing emotional scenes. It's just really fun to watch characters who are normally perky/serene/what-not (like Bill) get backed into a corner and figure out what to do with that. It's especially fun with Bill, I think, because as a genius and eccentric, his brain is seriously not wired like anyone else's, so his reactions aren't going to be the same as mine, yours, or anyone else's. I mean, if I was in that situation – where someone I thought of as a best friend physically abused me and called me a monster – I'd probably break down emotionally. Others might lash out in anger. Bill quietly calms himself down and then decides to leave. It's a completely different reaction from anything else someone would think of as logical, but I guess that's a lot of the point with Bill's psyche, which is why he's so much fun to write (as in, because you just never know with him).

    John's a lot of the same, actually, because like Bill, his brain isn't wired the same way. It's just that he adds experience on top of eccentricity and genius, so he's able to shrug a lot of things off as irrelevant. Did someone just rip open a wound by pointing out that you were once respectable and are now an abject failure? I'm sure there are people out there who wouldn't be able to handle it, but John laughs it off and says that was completely intentional.

    Tl;dr, it's my opinion that the difference between a genius and a normal person isn't how they speak. They don't engage in sesquipedalian loquaciousness, speak only in extremely formal manners, or pepper everything they say with technobabble. They just react to situations completely differently than most people. That's why it's a saying that there's a fine line between genius and insanity. Writing emotional scenes like these lets me play with that idea completely.

    That and I love tormenting my characters, but that goes without saying. ;)

    Sorry if this review isn't so great, I'm still not all together.
    Totally cool. I hope you're doing better today, though.

    Also, thanks for the review. ♥ I seriously appreciate it. And that goes for Bay and Diddy too.

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

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  23. #273
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    That makes three votes for Raye already (including one from my beta). I get the feeling that's what we're going with. b)'')b Honestly, I really like that one too, and that's one of the reasons why.
    I suppose you could say she will be a 'Raye' of hope!

    Ba-dum tss!
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  24. #274
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    I suppose you could say she will be a 'Raye' of hope!

    Ba-dum tss!
    You know, my beta said the same thing, and in my mind, this happened:



    THOM
    I guess you could say...

    (He dons a pair of sunglasses and poses.)

    THOM
    ...She's our Raye of hope. YEEEEEEAH.

    (Significant pause.)

    LANETTE
    Thom, I will beat you senseless with my crowbar.

    VERONICA
    I'll watch.

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  25. #275
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    Raye is cool, though I'm still pretty found of hope

    More than that, there was no real concept of time, but he already knew that. He knew that sometimes two minutes in the gray forest would be an hour outside. Other times, seconds in reality would be years there.
    I liked that a lot. I went through something similar in my own fic recently. Although, it was time slowing down, not stopping. I like that Bill is starting to realize where he is and how he can change his circumstance. The more he frees his mind and settles into more of a 'Mature' state, things are slowly getting better for him. I base that on the fact tht he is able to exercise more control over what's ahppening, (at least in that area)...hope that made sense haha

    That was the part that took eons.
    I would change 'Eons'...I know you're trying to describe how drastically long it took, but that portion read weird to me.

    "You dropped this on the way here. I simply picked up what you discarded. It is not like you need it anymore," Adam explained. "But I do find it curious how much you identify with that body now."
    This is why I love your writing. What a powerful statement. Seriously. Got a slight chill when Adam said that.

    At first I felt like Adam was being intentionally malicious. Baiting Bill with his image in an effort to show him what he had lost. The more I thought about it though, I came to feel like Adam was trying to break Bill out of his depression and angst by showing him that his body/being is still there. Waiting for him in a way. Bill completely lost his train of thought for a second when he saw it. To me, it felt like Adam was trying to tell him that he ISNT a monster, he is still who he was, but he's growing. That's what I got from it anyway haha

    He stopped, examining the ball carefully. Its purple surface glinted in the sunlight no matter which way he turned it.
    Why do I feel like this means something

    "The problem," he told her, "is I'm not afraid of you at all."
    I knew I liked John.

    Spelling and stuff was perfect in this chapter as always. The one thing that felt odd to me in this chapter was the pacing. It went from Bill, to Lanette and Steven, to John. Tht's not very many shifts at all, hell I've used a lot more in a single chapter. I was hoping for a little more expansion on the forest, maybe Bill making some Pokemon or changing the scenery Inception style. I don't really have a way for you to fix this, and that suggestion might just be in my head, so pay me no mind lol. It was a good chapter for the sole reason of Bill coming to terms with the fact that he has to get stronger. I knew that revelation would eventually happen, I just didn't think that Lanette would be the cause of it. Anyway, awesome chapter yet again, and I'm 'hungry for more

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the banner above, and Sworn Metalhead for the banner below -


    All Hail the Six Kings...
    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

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