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Thread: Anima Ex Machina (PG-15)

  1. #176
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    Bill heard the rustling of cloth. All of a sudden, the room filled with the scent of blood and something musty. He felt his stomach begin to rumble, and at that, he dreaded to know what Thom had just pulled out. Ellen's gasp and sharp whisper didn't really help.

    "Thom! What are you doing?! This is a hospital room!"

    "What? You told me to go out and catch something Bill can eat, and here it is!"

    "He's not awake yet! Besides, do you know how unsanitary that is?!"

    "Oh, come on! It's not like you've never had one in here!"

    "Not dead!"
    Oh gosh...Right at that line I knew there was going to be something disgusting. XD

    "Lanette, you must destroy that poké ball," he said. "I need to be free. I'm afraid that the more you treat me like a pokémon, the more likely I'll forget that I'm human."

    "Are you afraid of hurting someone?" Lanette asked quietly.

    Bill looked up. "Yes. Yes, that's exactly it, Lanette. I don't want to hurt anyone. I want to be me, but—"

    The zigzagoon was knocked out of his hands. It landed with a wet slap on the tiled floor, but Bill was too preoccupied to notice. The reason why was because at the same time, Lanette forced him back, her hands shoving his shoulders into the bed. When he was down, she sat on his stomach and seized one of his wrists. With a sharp yank, she pulled his fingers to her neck, forcing his claws to circle her soft flesh.

    "H-hey!" Bill stammered. "What are you—"

    "Kill me," she snarled.

    "W-what? What are you talking about?"

    "Kill me, you coward!" she yelled. "If you're the monster you insist you are, then do it!"

    Bill shot her a scared look. "I would never do something like that! What's gotten into you?!"

    She scoffed and released his hand. Then, she swung her leg over him and pushed herself off the bed.

    "The Master Ball will not be destroyed," she said. "I'm keeping it to ensure that you don't do anything. If you want to be treated like a human, work for it. Did you have this much of a problem pretending to be any other pokémon?"

    "There's a difference between my costumes and this. I can't take this off," Bill replied as he sat up.

    "As far as I'm concerned, you still have a human brain. Use it."

    She grabbed the zigzagoon from the floor and threw it at Bill. He caught it but not without letting one of its organs splatter across his chest and fall to the floor on the other side of the bed. Staring at it, he let her words sink in.

    "You're really not the Lanette I knew six months ago," he commented.

    "And you're not the Bill I knew six months ago either. The Bill I knew wouldn't have succumbed to fear so easily. People change."
    That’s pretty cool. I’m liking Lanette more and more as the plot progresses.

    Great chapter (and I apologize for the extremely short review ). I enjoyed the characters’ interactions especially - Bill and Adam’s conversations are always so interesting, as well as Bill and Lanette’s. Awesome job.
    I'm back for good!

    Greetings from the asylum of my insanity.
    Chapter 3 and cooler banner coming eventually. :P I am still working on it despite a very long lack of updates!

    Dex: 128 created! ~ DA and LJ links coming later.

  2. #177
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    Aaaand catching up on replies!

    Quote Originally Posted by Phantom Kat View Post
    :O I didn't know "switch" could become a verb.
    Indeed it can! It's such an awesome word and pretty versatile too, so I highly encourage its use. That and it's just all-around classy.

    Oh English. No wonder my sister calls this language "dumb". xP *shakes head*
    Inorite? Just the other day, I taught someone about the various uses of the word "elaborate," and then there's my favorite, "envelope." And of course, "desert."

    Your comment about the zigzagoon's head scaring Hope reminded me of the "Matazetas" (a rebel group)of Mexico leaving the heads of the "Zetas" in front of schools.
    Okay, Mexican history officially freaks me out, then. Poor children indeed. O_o Seriously, wat?

    Poor children. D: As for where Thom left the head, maybe he's saving it for Bill? Let's hope he didn't leave it in those ice machines they have in hospitals.
    Knowing him, that's exactly where he put it. XD

    Yeah, it seems not a lot of authors spend time on the psychological aspect of a TF story. Like you said, if not done right it can pretty much just fall flat on its face, but isn't that the whole point of fan-fiction, to experiment and improve in areas you don't feel comfortable in? Writing a fan-fiction without risks or challenges can get boring.
    Exactly! But oh, please tell oh so many fic authors this. ;_; So many people just think it's about doing whatever they want with the character designs and whatnot to pull trite storylines (and call it [genre] fic), but... that's kinda missing the point. And it makes me sad-face because, seriously, this fandom needs more clever fic. Not another reborn story that everyone flocks to because it's a reborn story. :| /incoherent rant

    Quote Originally Posted by GastlyMan View Post
    Oh gosh...Right at that line I knew there was going to be something disgusting. XD
    *cackles madly*

    In that case, that's a mission accomplished for Thom. ;D

    That’s pretty cool. I’m liking Lanette more and more as the plot progresses.
    Awesome! I'd really like her to come off as an ice queen but at the same time redeemable, if that even makes sense. Or, y'know, just a character people can enjoy watching as she beats up our main protagonist repeatedly. So I'm really glad you're enjoying watching her (and the other characters interact, for that matter).

    Great chapter (and I apologize for the extremely short review ).
    Thank you, and not a problem! I know it's a busy time for everyone, so I'm glad you were able to sit down and relax a bit at all.


    That being said, which person thanks to NaNo wrote a chapter and a half in the past two days? This person. So, chapter twenty-two and twenty-three might pop up soon? We shall seeeeee~!

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

    The Witch of Fic | 365+ Reviews
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  3. #178
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    Hey, remember when I said I blitz-wrote an entire chapter for the first part of NaNoWriMo and how I'm halfway through the next chapter? Chapter twenty-two, I choose you! And maybe twenty-three in a few days! And I apologize if the quality is worse than usual!

    Also, if anyone spots the references here, you're shiny. That's all I'm saying.


    Anima Ex Machina: Twenty-Two
    I guess we've lied enough.


    The sun was setting the next time Bill awoke. Already, it was nearly dark, save for the dim beam of orange light that filtered through the window. He sat up, allowing the remaining bones and organs of the zigzagoon to clatter to the floor. It took all of his strength to ignore it, to ignore the smell of blood or the spatters on the white sheets or even how stiff his joints felt. Instead, he stared out the window for a bit and waited for the remaining grogginess to ebb away from him.

    "Adam?" he whispered.

    Yes?

    "Are we ready?"

    If you mean to ask if all our wounds have been healed, then yes.

    "Good."

    Slipping out of the bed, he carefully placed his weight on his feet and waited for the strength in his legs to kick in. His muscles felt tense as an ache throbbed from his knees, but thankfully, he remained standing. Cautiously, he crept towards the window, opened it, and leaned out a little to see what was outside. Looking straight down, he realized he was on the second floor facing the back of the building, and beneath him was a small courtyard enclosed by a wooden fence. A few wooden tables and benches sat in each corner of the area, presumably untouched since the last attack on Mauville City.

    "That should do nicely," he murmured. "Magnet Rise!"

    A golden aura ignited around him, and his insect wings burst from his back. He felt his toes brush the linoleum floor as he began to hover a short distance above it. One of his feet curled around the edge of the windowsill, and with a shove, he threw himself out the window and sailed through the air towards the courtyard.

    May I ask what you have in mind? Adam asked.

    "We're going to train," he replied.

    I thought you said you had no desire to fight.

    He landed softly on his feet and let the aura around him fade. Looking up towards the open window of his room, he took pleasure in the fact that there was at least one power he was slowly getting the hang of.

    "That's true," he admitted, "but that doesn't mean I can't know how to defend myself. I can use Protect well enough, but I can't use it multiple times consecutively. Iron Defense can only do so much, too. That means I'll need to figure out what other moves I can use, even if I have to spend all night doing it."

    He moved to one of the tables and pulled himself onto its surface. There, he crossed his legs and wound his tail onto his lap, and once he was in position, he closed his eyes.

    "Okay, Adam. I need your cooperation. I know you don't want me to master my moves this way, but I need to know what else I can do so I can work on it quickly. Can I use Thunder Wave?"

    Do we look like an electric-type?

    "Double Team?"

    Even if we could, your speed would prevent it from being effective.

    "Teeter Dance? Substitute? Reflect?"

    Unfortunately no.

    "Attract?"

    There was a brief hesitation.

    …Really, Bill?

    He snapped his eyes open. "Look, I'm trying as hard as I can to come up with a strategy I can use where no one gets hurt!"

    A wise human once said that the best defense is a good offense.

    Bill sighed and let his shoulders slump slightly. In the quiet between them, he thought for a moment, listening to the sounds of the chilled wind as he struggled to come up with another possible attack. Behind him, he heard the slight rustle of what he thought was the grass against the wooden fence.

    "Detect, then."

    If we could learn Detect, you would have already used it to greet our incoming company.

    "What?!"

    At that warning, Bill flung a hand above him to summon a green dome of light around his body. Seconds after it appeared, a black tulip smacked against its surface, its blossom exploding in a shower of blue powder. Furrowing his eyebrows, Bill watched as the wind carried the Sleep Powder extract and the remnants of the flower harmlessly away.

    "A black tulip," he whispered. Then, his eyes widened in realization, and he jumped to his feet. "You! Show yourself!"

    From the shadows in the corner of the courtyard, a figure leapt up and slammed her feet onto the wooden table Bill had been sitting on a moment ago. With a smile, the blonde fixed her purple eyes on him and drew her black tulip baton into view.

    "My my!" 009 exclaimed. "You've gotten to be quite a battler, even without that stuck-up old hag ordering you around. I'm sure the boss would love to meet you now."

    Bill ground his feet into the dirt, anchoring himself to the ground with his claws. He knew he would be seeing a fight shortly.

    "For your information," he spat, "that 'old hag' happens to be my partner, and I have absolutely no intention of going with you anywhere."

    009 clicked her tongue. "Touchy. Anyway, why are you protesting? I caught you fair and square in a poké ball given to me by my fellow Team Rocket member. For all intents and purposes, you belong to Team Rocket. Completely legally, too!"

    "That's hardly true," Bill snapped. "A ball may have captured my body, but my mind doesn't belong to you. And just as soon as I can convince Lanette to get rid of that thing, I'll be free again, but until then, it's in her hands, not yours."

    "What's that? You think you belong to that girlfriend of yours? Oh, that's so cute!"

    At once, Bill's face flushed. "What?! I beg your pardon, but she is most certainly not—"

    "Your girlfriend? Come on, I've heard it a thousand times!" 009 brandished her baton and crouched. "Anyway, if you're going to insist that you don't belong to Team Rocket, I'm going to have to convince you myself!"

    With that, she leapt off the table and lunged at him. Her baton swept in an arc beside her, aiming for the ixodida's head. As swiftly as he could, Bill raised both his hands, palms out towards her, as a second green barrier flared to life around him. The baton banged off its surface and flicked harmlessly to the side. 009 twirled it beside her as she crouched in preparation.

    "Protect worked twice, but let's see it work three times!" she shouted.

    She swung at him for a third time, but this time, he didn't try to block it. Instead, he turned, whipping his tail around him until it curled around the baton. As he turned he wrenched it out of 009's hand and sent her weapon flying across the courtyard. Snarling, he crouched and kept himself between her and it. She straightened her back and gazed at him through half-open eyes.

    "Sienna," he barked. "Your name. It's Sienna, isn't it?"

    A grin crawled across her face. "Maybe. You're smart, aren't you? What do you think?"

    His tail waved back and forth behind him as his claws flexed. With narrow eyes, he studied his opponent, waiting for her next move.

    "What's your name, then?" he asked.

    "They call me a lot of things. The Black Tulip. Agent 009…"

    She flicked her arm towards her opponent, and with a snap of her wrist, she shot a tulip straight at Bill's face. He had no time to dodge before the sharp stem slashed his cheek, and in that single moment, he yelped, flinched, and covered the wound with a hand. That single fluid reaction bought 009 enough time. In his distraction, she darted around him and leapt into the air. Somersaulting in mid-air, she closed the distance between herself and her weapon until she landed gracefully right next to it. Her hand swooped down to snatch it, and with her fingers gripping it tightly, she turned just in time to see her opponent pulling his hand away from his face. As the wound on his cheek visibly began to heal, he scowled at her and assumed a defensive stance: one foot in front of the other, one arm bent at his side with a hand balled into a fist, the other held up with its palm open. Bill knew next to nothing about martial arts, but he imagined, thanks to one kung-fu movie or another, that this stance helped in some way. Adam was at least not arguing about it.

    "Your name," he repeated.

    009 twirled her baton and walked towards him. "Why do you need to know?"

    "I should think it's only proper to know the name of your opponent before you fight them. It separates a pokémon battle from common street fighting, wouldn't it?"

    She chuckled. "You're too cute, but I can tell you're stalling. Fine. I'll humor you. It's Sienna."

    At her last word, she lunged at him, baton swinging for his head. Bill's body flashed with a dim, blue aura as he raised his arm to block her strike. The sound of metal on metal resonated through the courtyard, and while it lingered in the air, he turned in an attempt to repeat his strategy to disarm her. She was ready this time, ducking low before his tail could touch her.

    "Or maybe it's Yolanda!" she shouted.

    Her next move came in the form of a swing at his head once again. He leaned back, allowing the blossom to pass over him harmlessly, but in the process, he noticed it spark with electricity.

    "Or Saffron!"

    She swung again, forcing him to block her with one arm. Once again, the baton banged off his skin, but before she could recover, Bill swung his free arm upwards and quickly channeled his energy into his fingertips. Each one took on a brilliant, white glow just as he slashed at the stem, slicing it in half. He was about to slash at her hand to knock the blossom away when she swung her arms away from him and twirled both ends in her hands.

    "But I think my favorite cover was named…"

    At once, she pointed both ends at him.

    "…Domino!"

    Electricity arced off both the blossom and the baton's blunt end with a crack. For a second, Bill could only see light as his entire body went numb – and airborne. Before he could realize what was going on, he came crashing down onto one of the wooden picnic tables, smashing through it until he lay in a heap on top of splintered wood.

    Groaning, he opened his eyes and held his head. His vision blurred, but he could just barely make out a black and yellow blotch moving slowly towards him. Squinting, he forced his vision to resolve until he could see 009 standing over him with her broken baton at her sides.

    "Well? Did I convince you?"

    Bill spat at her feet. "Your real name."

    The Black Tulip cocked her head to the side slightly, but before she could respond, something cracked against the back of her skull. Her eyes rolled up into her head, and she dropped like a ragdoll at Lanette's feet. The redhead rubbed the edge of her crowbar gingerly, as if she was more concerned about the damages done to it than to the Rocket field agent.

    "She would have only lied anyway, Bill," she stated. "What were you doing?"

    He coughed and struggled to sit up. "Training."

    "Training," Lanette repeated as one of her eyebrows rose.

    "Or trying to anyway before she interrupted me."

    "Hm. First rule of battling."

    With one of her feet, she shoved Domino's body to the side and offered a hand to her partner. He briefly glanced at the blonde to the side before accepting Lanette's gesture and allowing her to pull him to his feet. His legs tingled and shook with the remaining effects of the electricity, but Lanette supported him, wrapping her arms around his waist to keep him upright.

    "Don't ask the enemy questions in the middle of a fight," she finished.

    "Oh. That?" Bill smiled awkwardly and slipped one of his arms around Lanette's shoulders for stability. "That was stalling."

    "That was stupidity."

    "I needed time to think of a move that wouldn't kill her!"

    "You do what you need to do. She wouldn't have let you kill her."

    Bill pulled himself away from Lanette and glared at her incredulously. "Are you suggesting I should murder someone?"

    "No," she replied. "I'm suggesting you defend yourself properly. The policy of the Caravan is to do what is necessary to safeguard the lives of everyone we take in. Out there, there are ixodida who will gladly rip you apart without rhyme or reason. We need to be prepared for that, which means you'll need to be prepared to do everything in your power to protect us. And I mean everything."

    "And I will, but I don't plan on hurting anyone in the process. Lanette, we can figure this out! Between you and me, we can uncover what the ixodida really want! This doesn't have to be a war!"

    For a long moment, she locked her eyes on his. Then, she placed a hand on her hip, sighed, and shook her head.

    "You still don't understand, do you?" she said.

    "I'm trying to," he told her quietly. "Believe me, I'm trying to."

    "Not with that attitude, you're not. But if you need to be convinced…" She looked over her shoulder. "Steven. Wallace."

    She stepped aside to reveal two shadows perched on one of the unbroken wooden tables. Stepping forward, Bill squinted, forcing his eyes to adjust to the darkness in order to see them. When he did, he stopped.

    Both of them were young men not much older than he was. The one on the right kept pale, narrow eyes fixed on Bill and Lanette as thick fingers played with the smooth surfaces of a stone he held in his palm. On the left, his companion leaned the small of his back against the edge of the table but kept his eyes on the moon. One of his hands curled around the edge of the table; the other held his white beret against his straight, green hair.

    Bill didn't need an introduction to know who either of these men were. One of them – the right one, the gray-haired man in the suit – was Steven Stone, son of the world-renowned inventor who ran Devon Corporation. The other, the green-haired man in loose-fitting artist's smock, was Wallace, renowned master of water-type pokémon. Furthermore, he knew enough from Lanette already to realize he was in the presence of both of Hoenn's league champions. With that in mind, he waited, anticipating that something painful was about to happen to him.

    Wallace was the first to speak. "What she says is true. The ixodida have no desire to negotiate, and we can't waste our efforts trying."

    "Why not?" Bill asked.

    "They can't make their own decisions," Steven explained. "At the heart of the Hoenn region is Point Zero, the crater where the meteor that leveled Fortree City fell. Somewhere in that area is an ixodida known as the empress, a creature stronger than any of the others on this island. All ixodida answer to the empress without question, and it's because of her that they're attacking us. Unless we defeat her, she'll continue to order the others to kill us all."

    "But why?" Bill insisted. "There must be a reason for it! Perhaps they're simply territorial, or perhaps we've somehow threatened them. There could be any number of reasons why they're attacking us, but it can't simply be because they sociopathic."

    Steven slouched and gazed at the rock in his hands. "That may be so, but any other ixodida won't give us that answer. They will attack us on sight, and they won't hold back. We need to work our way to the empress in order to stop her, and in doing so, we'll need to travel through an area with a high population of ixodida. Therefore—"

    "Wait. We?"

    At that, Steven looked up. "Yes. You, Wallace, the rest of the Caravan—"

    "There are children in the Caravan!"

    Wallace glanced at Lanette. "You didn't tell him?"

    To that, she tore her eyes away from them, moving her gaze to the side. "It was irrelevant."

    Steven rapped his hand on the table, hitting the wood with the surface of his rock. "Nonetheless, we need to prepare absolutely everyone who can fight if we want to reach the empress without incident. You're an ixodida yourself. You're better equipped than any of us to do the job for a number of reasons, the least of which is your inherent strength compared to most native pokémon. All you need is training."

    "Surely, there's another way to do this."

    Lanette huffed. "Why won't you understand? The ixodida will not stop attacking us until we defeat the empress, and they're certainly not going to listen to reason. We don't know whether or not the empress will, but that's irrelevant if we can't get to her in the first place. You need to train because you, as much I'd hate to admit it, are probably our best hope in getting to her in one piece."

    "But all ixodida are human inside! I can't kill them!" Bill protested. "If I can think independently, then—"

    A growl rumbled out of Lanette's throat, and suddenly, she turned to him and slapped her hands on his shoulders.

    "Listen to me, Bill," she snapped. "Try to imagine what would happen if you and Hope were facing an ixodida. The ixodida is trying to kill Hope, and you have ten seconds to keep it from doing the job. What do you do?"

    "I…" Bill lowered his head. "I… I don't know."

    "The correct answer is you would rip that ixodida apart," Lanette told him. "The ixodida are a real threat to innocent people. You can't rely on the possibility that you might get through to one and convince it not to attack. There's still the chance that someone else will get hurt because you didn't act, and it's better to sacrifice someone who can't think for themselves for someone who can. Do you understand that?"

    He lifted his chin slightly and mumbled, "I do."

    "So Steven and Wallace can hear you."

    After taking a deep breath, he replied in a clear, loud voice, "I understand."

    "Good."

    She forced him to turn and shoved him back towards the pokémon center. He took a few steps before turning and glancing back at her.

    "Get some rest," she ordered. "Tomorrow, we wake up early to move out. You're going to have to learn on the road."

    "Learn on the road?"

    She nodded. "As soon as Steven and Wallace arrived to fight the fire-type, it fled. The three of us have agreed that there's reason to believe it will come back. We can't stay here to wait for it."

    He wanted to protest. He wanted to open his mouth and ask her how she could believe he could fight against something like that – not because he was worried about the human it was inside but instead because she knew how weak he was. Steven and Wallace could spout their beliefs concerning the strength of an ixodida compared to a pokémon all day, but at the end of it all, Bill knew he could be defeated by a chansey and a growlithe. He wanted to help. He didn't want to be a hero, but he certainly wanted to be a protector, a guardian of the innocent people of the Caravan. But the thing he couldn't do was fight, and no matter what he tried to say, he just couldn't make anyone there understand the reasons why. His mouth opened; he found the words to say and was just about to say them.

    But instead, he said, "I see."

    It was when he was halfway to the door that he realized he wasn't in control anymore. Although his mind made an effort to pry control from Adam's grip, his main concern at that point was the utter confusion he was feeling right at that moment.

    Adam, what are you doing? he finally asked.

    "Saving you the trouble of arguing for another hour," the parasite whispered. "They are all correct. The empress exists, and we will not be able to rest until she is defeated. Besides, you need to sleep. The way you battled was a decent effort, but you took enough damage to require us to rest. I really wish you would not be so quick to put our body in harm's way."

    As soon as it stepped inside, Adam retreated, pitching Bill forward. He wavered on his feet and grabbed his head, trying his best to shake off the disoriented feeling that suddenly hit him hard.

    "Even my body is against me," he muttered with a grimace.

    Then, without another word or glance back, he continued into the center and headed back to his room.

    Outside, Lanette, Steven, and Wallace watched the door close. As soon as it did, Lanette relaxed.

    "Well?" she said.

    "His technique could use improvement, but it definitely shows potential. The way he disarmed that girl shows that he can be creative in a battle if he wants to be," Wallace commented. "We just need to refine his reaction times and his ability to strategize. That I can do." He glanced towards his partner. "Steven?"

    "You've already told me he can use Iron Tail and Metal Claw, Lanette," he said, "but the way he used Metal Claw makes me think he could be taught a few other moves. I'd like to see which ones I can teach him." Then, his gaze drifted over his shoulder, towards the fence. "What about you, Tate?"

    There was a long silence. At the height of it, a boy walked out of the shadows. With each step, a long tail with an arrowhead-tip swayed behind him, and the core on his ankle and the bone-white horns nestled in his pink hair glinted in the moonlight. The rest of his body was dressed in blue and red Chinese-style garments, all of which covered his smooth, pale-pink skin. As he brought his claws to his mouth, he stared at the door with blue-eyed wonder.

    Taking note of his expression, Steven asked, "Tate? What is it?"

    "I don't know," the boy admitted, "but I couldn't read that guy's future."

    ---

    Lab assistants in Polaris Institute were a lot like vital organs: although one didn't notice his own liver while it remained in full operation, removing it disrupted an entire delicate system. Most of the time, lab assistants were not hired separately from researchers. Rather, many researchers had full-time assistants that they brought with them on the account of being able to trust their ability to remain confidential, keep calm, and work well in a team. Thus, they were permitted in the laboratory to work side-by-side with researchers to collect data, ensure each experiment ran smoothly, and generally perform whatever duties each research team required.

    The position thrilled Tracey Sketchit beyond all reason.

    Tracey did not have an illustrious background; in fact, he was the first pokémon watcher in his family. By contrast, many of his family members were in the tourism industry, and he was the son of a craftsman on Valencia Island who specialized in turning seashells into souvenirs. Most Sketchits never even had a passing fascination with pokémon save for the facts that some were used to harvest shells and that it was often trainers who came to their shops. So it was a great surprise when, seemingly out of the blue, Tracey announced that he wanted to take his marill and travel the world to study pokémon.

    The next few years were a flurry of adventure. For a long while, he traveled by himself, fine-tuning his abilities to observe pokémon and sketch them in a short amount of time. For another while, he traveled with a young trainer from Pallet Town, and that made his life even more interesting by giving him the opportunity to encounter strange and wondrous pokémon he never would have met by himself, the least of which were the legendary birds.

    Then, for the next while, he was Professor Oak's personal assistant. As such, his position in Polaris Institute was an important one, although he sometimes shied away from describing it as such. While he was rarely required to step into a laboratory and assist an experiment himself (mostly because Oak was more of a supervisor than a scientist), he performed all clerical duties Oak required, greeted and organized new members to the Polaris staff, and analyzed employee profiles sent by the Committee to help his superior choose new members. Only on occasion, he would set out to the Median and Inner Rings to oversee certain experiments to deliver a report to Oak, and now was such an occasion.

    Tracey's steps fell quickly as he raced down the hallway towards one of the laboratories of the Inner Ring. His ID was already in hand, and his mind was struggling to keep track of the time. He knew that he was running late, that the biochemistry team's experiment was starting in fifteen minutes, and that he should have been there five minutes ago.

    He also knew that according to Murphy's Law, if one is running late, the chances are greater that there would be one obstacle or another to determine that one would absolutely be late. As such, just as he spotted the door to the laboratory in the distance, a hand grabbed his arm and jolted him back. By some miracle, he didn't tumble to the floor and instead managed to right himself, all while twisting his body until he came face-to-face with a man whose image he had seen on the backs of more than a few books.

    "Ah! Tracey Sketchit! Just the assistant I wanted to see!" John said cheerfully. "Do you remember who I am?"

    At the question, Tracey widened his eyes and stammered, "Y-yes, sir! You're Professor McKenzie, one of the world's leading experts on pokémon psychology and battle techniques! I'm a huge fan of yours, but—"

    "Clever boy, clever boy!" John exclaimed as he patted Tracey on the back. "Say, you wouldn't happen to be busy, would you?"

    "Uh, actually…" Tracey's eyes darted towards the end of the hallway. "I'm late for assisting the biochemistry team, and—"

    John's face fell. "Oh. Them. Well, in that case, let me escort you! I'd like to make a business proposal along the way, if I may."

    "A… business proposal?"

    "Yes, yes! Very simple arrangement, really. You see, I need help on a little project of mine, and I can't trust anyone but Professor Oak's finest. I can convince the old arcanine to lend me you for a bit, but negotiations would be much smoother if I knew whether or not you'd like to work closely with me."

    "Well, I…"

    "Did I forget to mention that it'd get you out of a desk job and back into a laboratory?"

    That was all it took to coax the boy into rambling about why he would be thrilled to do it and wasn't entirely sure if it would be okay and countless other things John only half-listened to. The older man simply grinned and put an arm around Tracey's shoulders like he was a close friend, and with that, the two of them walked down the hallway. Along the way, he shot a victorious glance through an open door. Beyond it, he could see Ariana, dressed in the uniform of the chief of security and flanked by two large lab assistants, and while the assistants looked completely nonchalant about the image of Tracey being accompanied by John, the Rocket executive seethed in quiet fury.

    And that, in John's opinion, made this all positively worth it.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 25th December 2011 at 9:37 PM.

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

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  4. #179
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    This is me being awkward and reviewing the chapters OUT OF ORDER! YAY! (it actually doesn't help that I was excited when I found out you updated)

    And I apologize if the quality is worse than usual!
    If the quality is worse than usual, then I must be blind. Your wording and characterizations are as perfect as ever.


    "Attract?"

    There was a brief hesitation.

    …Really, Bill?
    LOL. I got this image in my head of Bill using attract like Emolga does in the Best Wishes anime. Oh geez. I know you're trying to hook back up with Lanette, Bill, but I don't think this is the answer. ...Then again, Bill using attract on Lanette might prove to be hilarious (though I can't imagine him purposely doing so). Or heck, even Adam using attract on Lanette.

    "My my!" 009 exclaimed. "You've gotten to be quite a battler, even without that stuck-up old hag ordering you around. I'm sure the boss would love to meet you now."
    Whenever I see the word "hag" in the Pokemon universe, I can't help but think of Agatha for whatever reason. Bill with Agatha...UGH. (Tries to scrap image off mind)

    009 clicked her tongue. "Touchy. Anyway, why are you protesting? I caught you fair and square in a poké ball given to me by my fellow Team Rocket member. For all intents and purposes, you belong to Team Rocket. Completely legally, too!"
    Team Rocket catching a Pokemon legally. For once in their existence. Mind turning yourself in while you're in the goody two-shoes mood, Black Tulip?

    "That's hardly true," Bill snapped. "A ball may have captured my body, but my mind doesn't belong to you. And just as soon as I can convince Lanette to get rid of that thing, I'll be free again, but until then, it's in her hands, not yours."
    Lanette is never gonna give you up,
    Never gonna let you down,
    Never going run around and desert you (though she tried in the beginning)
    Never gonna make you cry
    Never gonna say goodbye (she tries though)
    Never gonna tell a lie (ok so that part sometimes happens) and hurt you....(at least not without her crowbar)
    (Dang, I am too hyper for my own good)


    As the wound on his cheek visibly began to heal, he scowled at her and assumed a defensive stance: one foot in front of the other, one arm bent at his side with a hand balled into a fist, the other held up with its palm open. Bill knew next to nothing about martial arts, but he imagined, thanks to one kung-fu movie or another, that this stance helped in some way.
    Bill's taking a stance he learned from a kung-fu movie and hoping that it will help in some way....oh boy.

    "I should think it's only proper to know the name of your opponent before you fight them. It separates a pokémon battle from common street fighting, wouldn't it?"
    Spoken like a true kung-fu action hero there, Bill. You got the lines down, the stance down, the special effects (Tulip's bombs), and now all you need is a stunt double. Ask Black Tulip if she'll let you bring in Bruno and have him fight your place.
    She chuckled. "You're too cute, but I can tell you're stalling. Fine. I'll humor you. It's Sienna."
    So you're not only hitting on him (literally), you're starting to hit on him figuratively as well? Why do I have a feeling that, any moment now, Lanette is going to come in and hit you upside the head with a crowbar?

    "Or maybe it's Yolanda!" she shouted.

    "Or Saffron!"
    Careful there, Black Tulip. Bridget and Brigette are awfully similar, and you wouldn't want to anger Lanette anymore than you already have.

    The Black Tulip cocked her head to the side slightly, but before she could respond, something cracked against the back of her skull. Her eyes rolled up into her head, and she dropped like a ragdoll at Lanette's feet. The redhead rubbed the edge of her crowbar gingerly, as if she was more concerned about the damages done to it than to the Rocket field agent.
    LMAO! What did I tell you, Black Tulip?? XD
    "You've already told me he can use Iron Tail and Metal Claw, Lanette," he said, "but the way he used Metal Claw makes me think he could be taught a few other moves. I'd like to see which ones I can teach him."
    Steven teaching Bill....oh this is going to be good.
    Then, his gaze drifted over his shoulder, towards the fence. "What about you, Tate?"

    There was a long silence. At the height of it, a boy walked out of the shadows. With each step, a long tail with an arrowhead-tip swayed behind him, and the core on his ankle and the bone-white horns nestled in his pink hair glinted in the moonlight. The rest of his body was dressed in blue and red Chinese-style garments, all of which covered his smooth, pale-pink skin. As he brought his claws to his mouth, he stared at the door with blue-eyed wonder.
    WHAT?

    The position thrilled Tracey Sketchitt beyond all reason.
    WHAT?

    Tracey's steps fell quickly as he raced down the hallway towards one of the laboratories of the Inner Ring. His ID was already in hand, and his mind was struggling to keep track of the time. He knew that he was running late, that the biochemistry team's experiment was starting in fifteen minutes, and that he should have been there five minutes ago.
    Why am I getting a feeling of deja vu?

    The older man simply grinned and put an arm around Tracey's shoulders like he was a close friend, and with that, the two of them walked down the hallway. Along the way, he shot a victorious glance through an open door. Beyond it, he could see Ariana, dressed in the uniform of the chief of security and flanked by two large lab assistants, and while the assistants looked completely nonchalant about the image of Tracey being accompanied by John, the Rocket executive seethed in quiet fury.
    Did Bill's father just save Tracey from the same fate that befell Bill?
    Last edited by AbsolXWolf; 10th November 2011 at 1:44 AM.
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  5. #180
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Anima Ex Machina: Twenty-Two
    I guess we've lied enough.


    The sun was setting the next time Bill awoke. Already, it was nearly dark, save for the dim beam of orange light that filtered through the window. He sat up, allowing the remaining bones and organs of the zigzagoon to clatter to the floor.
    Boy did you have a beautiful description going.

    And then, ZIGZAGOON GUTS.

    It took all of his strength to ignore it, to ignore the smell of blood or the spatters on the white sheets or even how stiff his joints felt. Instead, he stared out the window for a bit and waited for the remaining grogginess to ebb away from him.

    "Adam?" he whispered.

    Yes?

    "Are we ready?"

    If you mean to ask if all our wounds have been healed, then yes.

    "Good."

    Slipping out of the bed, he carefully placed his weight on his feet and waited for the strength in his legs to kick in. His muscles felt tense as an ache throbbed from his knees, but thankfully, he remained standing. Cautiously, he crept towards the window, opened it, and leaned out a little to see what was outside. Looking straight down, he realized he was on the second floor facing the back of the building, and beneath him was a small courtyard enclosed by a wooden fence. A few wooden tables and benches sat in each corner of the area, presumably untouched since the last attack on Mauville City.
    Really a nice touch here describing every bit of his physical being in this scene. It really isn't that easy to flesh out such a thing like that.


    "That should do nicely," he murmured. "Magnet Rise!"

    A golden aura ignited around him, and his insect wings burst from his back. He felt his toes brush the linoleum floor as he began to hover a short distance above it. One of his feet curled around the edge of the windowsill, and with a shove, he threw himself out the window and sailed through the air towards the courtyard.
    See, usually, people would use Fly or other Flying-type moves or the ability Levitate to show this, so using Magnet Rise is creative. It's shown creatively too.

    May I ask what you have in mind? Adam asked.

    "We're going to train," he replied.

    I thought you said you had no desire to fight.

    He landed softly on his feet and let the aura around him fade. Looking up towards the open window of his room, he took pleasure in the fact that there was at least one power he was slowly getting the hang of.

    "That's true," he admitted, "but that doesn't mean I can't know how to defend myself. I can use Protect well enough, but I can't use it multiple times consecutively. Iron Defense can only do so much, too. That means I'll need to figure out what other moves I can use, even if I have to spend all night doing it."
    Go Bill! Practice your moves tonight so you can last with Lanette. *runs*

    He moved to one of the tables and pulled himself onto its surface. There, he crossed his legs and wound his tail onto his lap, and once he was in position, he closed his eyes.

    "Okay, Adam. I need your cooperation. I know you don't want me to master my moves this way, but I need to know what else I can do so I can work on it quickly. Can I use Thunder Wave?"

    Do we look like an electric-type?
    Neither does he, in all fairness.

    "Double Team?"

    Even if we could, your speed would prevent it from being effective.

    "Teeter Dance? Substitute? Reflect?"

    Unfortunately no.
    Teeter Dance

    Teeter Dance

    TEETER DANCE

    Dear God, Jax, make this **** happen. Adam in a dance-off with Miror B., Ludicolo and Maractus.

    "Attract?"
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    Bill's true colors FINALLY come out. Infected with an alien parasite? Transformed into a hideous mutant? **** that ****, get the girl!

    There was a brief hesitation.

    …Really, Bill?

    He snapped his eyes open. "Look, I'm trying as hard as I can to come up with a strategy I can use where no one gets hurt!"
    The only reason why Lanette would get hurt is because she isn't infected too... yet. You know Adam wants it.

    A wise human once said that the best defense is a good offense.

    Bill sighed and let his shoulders slump slightly. In the quiet between them, he thought for a moment, listening to the sounds of the chilled wind as he struggled to come up with another possible attack. Behind him, he heard the slight rustle of what he thought was the grass against the wooden fence.

    "Detect, then."

    If we could learn Detect, you would have already used it to greet our incoming company.

    "What?!"

    At that warning, Bill flung a hand above him to summon a green dome of light around his body. Seconds after it appeared, a black tulip smacked against its surface, its blossom exploding in a shower of blue powder. Furrowing his eyebrows, Bill watched as the wind carried the Sleep Powder extract and the remnants of the flower harmlessly away.
    It wouldn't have been very useful anyway, considering that it just does the same thing as Protect in the end.

    Either way, he better learn how to fight and fast.

    "A black tulip," he whispered. Then, his eyes widened in realization, and he jumped to his feet. "You! Show yourself!"

    From the shadows in the corner of the courtyard, a figure leapt up and slammed her feet onto the wooden table Bill had been sitting on a moment ago. With a smile, the blonde fixed her purple eyes on him and drew her black tulip baton into view.

    "My my!" 009 exclaimed. "You've gotten to be quite a battler, even without that stuck-up old hag ordering you around. I'm sure the boss would love to meet you now."

    Bill ground his feet into the dirt, anchoring himself to the ground with his claws. He knew he would be seeing a fight shortly.

    "For your information," he spat, "that 'old hag' happens to be my partner, and I have absolutely no intention of going with you anywhere."
    See, at first, I thought she was referring to Nettle, and that made me laugh twice instead of once.

    009 clicked her tongue. "Touchy. Anyway, why are you protesting? I caught you fair and square in a poké ball given to me by my fellow Team Rocket member. For all intents and purposes, you belong to Team Rocket. Completely legally, too!"

    "That's hardly true," Bill snapped. "A ball may have captured my body, but my mind doesn't belong to you. And just as soon as I can convince Lanette to get rid of that thing, I'll be free again, but until then, it's in her hands, not yours."

    "What's that? You think you belong to that girlfriend of yours? Oh, that's so cute!"
    Don't do it Domino. You don't want to end up like Nettle did. Don't go there.

    At once, Bill's face flushed. "What?! I beg your pardon, but she is most certainly not—"

    "Your girlfriend? Come on, I've heard it a thousand times!" 009 brandished her baton and crouched. "Anyway, if you're going to insist that you don't belong to Team Rocket, I'm going to have to convince you myself!"
    I get the feeling Domino dies next. She crossed that line now.

    With that, she leapt off the table and lunged at him. Her baton swept in an arc beside her, aiming for the ixodida's head. As swiftly as he could, Bill raised both his hands, palms out towards her, as a second green barrier flared to life around him. The baton banged off its surface and flicked harmlessly to the side. 009 twirled it beside her as she crouched in preparation.

    "Protect worked twice, but let's see it work three times!" she shouted.
    It does happen.

    Great description of the action, by the way.

    She swung at him for a third time, but this time, he didn't try to block it. Instead, he turned, whipping his tail around him until it curled around the baton. As he turned he wrenched it out of 009's hand and sent her weapon flying across the courtyard. Snarling, he crouched and kept himself between her and it. She straightened her back and gazed at him through half-open eyes.

    "Sienna," he barked. "Your name. It's Sienna, isn't it?"
    Wait, what? Sienna?

    Also, I'm guessing that was Iron Tail? Looks like he's got some moves after all.

    A grin crawled across her face. "Maybe. You're smart, aren't you? What do you think?"

    His tail waved back and forth behind him as his claws flexed. With narrow eyes, he studied his opponent, waiting for her next move.

    "What's your name, then?" he asked.

    "They call me a lot of things. The Black Tulip. Agent 009…"

    She flicked her arm towards her opponent, and with a snap of her wrist, she shot a tulip straight at Bill's face. He had no time to dodge before the sharp stem slashed his cheek, and in that single moment, he yelped, flinched, and covered the wound with a hand. That single fluid reaction bought 009 enough time. In his distraction, she leapt into the air and jammed her boots onto his shoulders. Using him as a springboard, she somersaulted through the distance between her and her baton until she landed gracefully on her feet right beside it. Her hand swooped down to snatch it, and with her fingers gripping it tightly, she turned just in time to see her opponent pulling his hand away from his face. As the wound on his cheek visibly began to heal, he scowled at her and assumed a defensive stance: one foot in front of the other, one arm bent at his side with a hand balled into a fist, the other held up with its palm open. Bill knew next to nothing about martial arts, but he imagined, thanks to one kung-fu movie or another, that this stance helped in some way. Adam was at least not arguing about it.
    Oh WOW. Now that was simply ****ing badass. Domino/Sienna/whatever her name is really is fearless, isn't she?

    And Bill learning moves from kung-fu movies. I laughed.

    "Your name," he repeated.

    009 twirled her baton and walked towards him. "Why do you need to know?"

    "I should think it's only proper to know the name of your opponent before you fight them. It separates a pokémon battle from common street fighting, wouldn't it?"

    She chuckled. "You're too cute, but I can tell you're stalling. Fine. I'll humor you. It's Sienna."
    Why do I not believe her?

    At her last word, she lunged at him, baton swinging for his head. Bill's body flashed with a dim, blue aura as he raised his arm to block her strike. The sound of metal on metal resonated through the courtyard, and while it lingered in the air, he turned in an attempt to repeat his strategy to disarm her. She was ready this time, ducking low before his tail could touch her.

    "Or maybe it's Yolanda!" she shouted.
    Pssh, Yolanda. I knew she was full of it.

    Her next move came in the form of a swing at his head once again. He leaned back, allowing the blossom to pass over him harmlessly, but in the process, he noticed it spark with electricity.

    "Or Saffron!"

    She swung again, forcing him to block her with one arm. Once again, the baton banged off his skin, but before she could recover, Bill swung his free arm upwards and quickly channeled his energy into his fingertips. Each one took on a brilliant, white glow just as he slashed at the stem, slicing it in half. He was about to slash at her hand to knock the blossom away when she swung her arms away from him and twirled both ends in her hands.

    "But I think my favorite cover was named…"

    At once, she pointed both ends at him.

    "…Domino!"
    Okay, I don't know how you did this, but the combination of the (extremely well-described) action, the interspersed dialogue, and the fact this somehow came off as resembling an over-the-top power up sequence for a super sentai team (thanks, watching Future Diary too much) this whole fight is possibly the most badass thing I've read here yet. Really.

    Electricity arced off both the blossom and the baton's blunt end with a crack. For a second, Bill could only see light as his entire body went numb – and airborne. Before he could realize what was going on, he came crashing down onto one of the wooden picnic tables, smashing through it until he lay in a heap on top of splintered wood.

    Groaning, he opened his eyes and held his head. His vision blurred, but he could just barely make out a black and yellow blotch moving slowly towards him. Squinting, he forced his vision to resolve until he could see 009 standing over him with her broken baton at her sides.

    "Well? Did I convince you?"

    Bill spat at her feet. "Your real name."
    You best tell him, Domino. I think you pissed him off.

    The Black Tulip cocked her head to the side slightly, but before she could respond, something cracked against the back of her skull. Her eyes rolled up into her head, and she dropped like a ragdoll at Lanette's feet. The redhead rubbed the edge of her crowbar gingerly, as if she was more concerned about the damages done to it than to the Rocket field agent.

    "She would have only lied anyway, Bill," she stated. "What were you doing?"

    He coughed and struggled to sit up. "Training."

    "Training," Lanette repeated as one of her eyebrows rose.

    "Or trying to anyway before she interrupted me."

    "Hm. First rule of battling."

    With one of her feet, she shoved Domino's body to the side and offered a hand to her partner. He briefly glanced at the blonde to the side before accepting Lanette's gesture and allowing her to pull him to his feet. His legs tingled and shook with the remaining effects of the electricity, but Lanette supported him, wrapping her arms around his waist to keep him upright.

    "Don't ask the enemy questions in the middle of a fight," she finished.
    Why do I get the feeling that Lanette has experience with making that mistake?

    "Oh. That?" Bill smiled awkwardly and slipped one of his arms around Lanette's shoulders for stability. "That was stalling."

    "That was stupidity."

    "I needed time to think of a move that wouldn't kill her!"

    "You do what you need to do. She wouldn't have let you kill her."

    Bill pulled himself away from Lanette and glared at her incredulously. "Are you suggesting I should murder someone?"

    "No," she replied. "I'm suggesting you defend yourself properly. The policy of the Caravan is to do what is necessary to safeguard the lives of everyone we take in. Out there, there are ixodida who will gladly rip you apart without rhyme or reason. We need to be prepared for that, which means you'll need to be prepared to do everything in your power to protect us. And I mean everything."

    "And I will, but I don't plan on hurting anyone in the process. Lanette, we can figure this out! Between you and me, we can uncover what the ixodida really want! This doesn't have to be a war!"
    Time kind of ran out to be a hippie, Bill.

    He's gonna kill someone eventually, I'm calling it now.

    For a long moment, she locked her eyes on his. Then, she placed a hand on her hip, sighed, and shook her head.

    "You still don't understand, do you?" she said.

    "I'm trying to," he told her quietly. "Believe me, I'm trying to."

    "Not with that attitude, you're not. But if you need to be convinced…" She looked over her shoulder. "Steven. Wallace."

    She stepped aside to reveal two shadows perched on one of the unbroken wooden tables. Stepping forward, Bill squinted, forcing his eyes to adjust to the darkness in order to see them. When he did, he stopped.

    Both of them were young men not much older than he was. The one on the right kept pale, narrow eyes fixed on Bill and Lanette as thick fingers played with the smooth surfaces of a stone he held in his palm. On the left, his companion leaned the small of his back against the edge of the table but kept his eyes on the moon. One of his hands curled around the edge of the table; the other held his white beret against his straight, green hair.
    WHAT THE...?

    Okay, where did these two come out of? Things just got a lot more interesting. Certainly two faces I didn't see coming.

    Bill didn't need an introduction to know who either of these men were. One of them – the right one, the gray-haired man in the suit – was Steven Stone, son of the world-renowned inventor who ran Devon Corporation. The other, the green-haired man in loose-fitting artist's smock, was Wallace, renowned master of water-type pokémon. Furthermore, he knew enough from Lanette already to realize he was in the presence of both of Hoenn's league champions. With that in mind, he waited, anticipating that something painful was about to happen to him.

    Wallace was the first to speak. "What she says is true. The ixodida have no desire to negotiate, and we can't waste our efforts trying."

    "Why not?" Bill asked.

    "They can't make their own decisions," Steven explained. "At the heart of the Hoenn region is Point Zero, the crater where the meteor that leveled Fortree City fell. Somewhere in that area is an ixodida known as the empress, a creature stronger than any of the others on this island. All ixodida answer to the empress without question, and it's because of her that they're attacking us. Unless we defeat her, she'll continue to order the others to kill us all."
    Dare I sense a big battle coming?

    "But why?" Bill insisted. "There must be a reason for it! Perhaps they're simply territorial, or perhaps we've somehow threatened them. There could be any number of reasons why they're attacking us, but it can't simply be because they sociopathic."

    Steven slouched and gazed at the rock in his hands. "That may be so, but any other ixodida won't give us that answer. They will attack us on sight, and they won't hold back. We need to work our way to the empress in order to stop her, and in doing so, we'll need to travel through an area with a high population of ixodida. Therefore—"

    "Wait. We?"

    At that, Steven looked up. "Yes. You, Wallace, the rest of the Caravan—"

    "There are children in the Caravan!"

    Wallace glanced at Lanette. "You didn't tell him?"

    To that, she tore her eyes away from them, moving her gaze to the side. "It was irrelevant."

    Steven rapped his hand on the table, hitting the wood with the surface of his rock. "Nonetheless, we need to prepare absolutely everyone who can fight if we want to reach the empress without incident. You're an ixodida yourself. You're better equipped than any of us to do the job for a number of reasons, the least of which is your inherent strength compared to most native pokémon. All you need is training."

    "Surely, there's another way to do this."
    Bill needs to begin accepting reality, seriously. Peacenik strategies are clearly not going to work here.

    I do think he will learn soon though.

    [quote]Lanette huffed. "Why won't you understand? The ixodida will not stop attacking us until we defeat the empress, and they're certainly not going to listen to reason. We don't know whether or not the empress will, but that's irrelevant if we can't get to her in the first place. You need to train because you, as much I'd hate to admit it, are probably our best hope in getting to her in one piece."

    "But all ixodida are human inside! I can't kill them!" Bill protested. "If I can think independently, then—"

    A growl rumbled out of Lanette's throat, and suddenly, she turned to him and slapped her hands on his shoulders.

    "Listen to me, Bill," she snapped. "Try to imagine what would happen if you and Hope were facing an ixodida. The ixodida is trying to kill Hope, and you have ten seconds to keep it from doing the job. What do you do?"[/qupte]

    I didn't think that he'd begin learning THIS fast though. Lanette sure is good at delivering some hard-hitting points.

    "I…" Bill lowered his head. "I… I don't know."

    "The correct answer is you would rip that ixodida apart," Lanette told him. "The ixodida are a real threat to innocent people. You can't rely on the possibility that you might get through to one and convince it not to attack. There's still the chance that someone else will get hurt because you didn't act, and it's better to sacrifice someone who can't think for themselves for someone who can. Do you understand that?"

    He lifted his chin slightly and mumbled, "I do."

    "So Steven and Wallace can hear you."

    After taking a deep breath, he replied in a clear, loud voice, "I understand."

    "Good."

    She forced him to turn and shoved him back towards the pokémon center. He took a few steps before turning and glancing back at her.

    "Get some rest," she ordered. "Tomorrow, we wake up early to move out. You're going to have to learn on the road."

    "Learn on the road?"

    She nodded. "As soon as Steven and Wallace arrived to fight the fire-type, it fled. The three of us have agreed that there's reason to believe it will come back. We can't stay here to wait for it."

    He wanted to protest. He wanted to open his mouth and ask her how she could believe he could fight against something like that – not because he was worried about the human it was inside but instead because she knew how weak he was. Steven and Wallace could spout their beliefs concerning the strength of an ixodida compared to a pokémon all day, but at the end of it all, Bill knew he could be defeated by a chansey and a growlithe. He wanted to help. He didn't want to be a hero, but he certainly wanted to be a protector, a guardian of the innocent people of the Caravan. But the thing he couldn't do was fight, and no matter what he tried to say, he just couldn't make anyone there understand the reasons why. His mouth opened; he found the words to say and was just about to say them.

    But instead, he said, "I see."
    I think this is the beginning of a turning point. I am beginning to see a transformation in his character.

    It was when he was halfway to the door that he realized he wasn't in control anymore. Although his mind made an effort to pry control from Adam's grip, his main concern at that point was the utter confusion he was feeling right at that moment.

    Adam, what are you doing? he finally asked.

    "Saving you the trouble of arguing for another hour," the parasite whispered. "They are all correct. The empress exists, and we will not be able to rest until she is defeated. Besides, you need to sleep. The way you battled was a decent effort, but you took enough damage to require us to rest. I really wish you would not be so quick to put our body in harm's way."

    As soon as it stepped inside, Adam retreated, pitching Bill forward. He wavered on his feet and grabbed his head, trying his best to shake off the disoriented feeling that suddenly hit him hard.

    "Even my body is against me," he muttered with a grimace.

    Then, without another word or glance back, he continued into the center and headed back to his room.

    Outside, Lanette, Steven, and Wallace watched the door close. As soon as it did, Lanette relaxed.

    "Well?" she said.

    "His technique could use improvement, but it definitely shows potential. The way he disarmed that girl shows that he can be creative in a battle if he wants to be," Wallace commented. "We just need to refine his reaction times and his ability to strategize. That I can do." He glanced towards his partner. "Steven?"

    "You've already told me he can use Iron Tail and Metal Claw, Lanette," he said, "but the way he used Metal Claw makes me think he could be taught a few other moves. I'd like to see which ones I can teach him." Then, his gaze drifted over his shoulder, towards the fence. "What about you, Tate?"

    There was a long silence. At the height of it, a boy walked out of the shadows. With each step, a long tail with an arrowhead-tip swayed behind him, and the core on his ankle and the bone-white horns nestled in his pink hair glinted in the moonlight. The rest of his body was dressed in blue and red Chinese-style garments, all of which covered his smooth, pale-pink skin. As he brought his claws to his mouth, he stared at the door with blue-eyed wonder.

    Taking note of his expression, Steven asked, "Tate? What is it?"

    "I don't know," the boy admitted, "but I couldn't read that guy's future."

    ---
    Wait, Tate now too? Should I assume that many if not all of Hoenn's prominent figures - Gym Leaders, Elite Four, etc - survived?

    I think things are about to step up majorly. It looks like a major battle is coming, and with Bill training on the road, it doesn't look like there will be large downtimes.

    That last line was pretty ominous...

    Lab assistants in Polaris Institute were a lot like vital organs: although one didn't notice his own liver while it remained in full operation, removing it disrupted an entire delicate system. Most of the time, lab assistants were not hired separately from researchers. Rather, many researchers had full-time assistants that they brought with them on the account of being able to trust their ability to remain confidential, keep calm, and work well in a team. Thus, they were permitted in the laboratory to work side-by-side with researchers to collect data, ensure each experiment ran smoothly, and generally perform whatever duties each research team required.

    The position thrilled Tracey Sketchitt beyond all reason.
    Well now THAT'S a surprise.

    By the way, you spelled his name wrong. It's "Sketchit" with only one T at the end.

    Tracey did not have an illustrious background; in fact, he was the first pokémon watcher in his family. By contrast, many of his family members were in the tourism industry, and he was the son of a craftsman on Valencia Island who specialized in turning seashells into souvenirs. Most Sketchitts never even had a passing fascination with pokémon save for the facts that some were used to harvest shells and that it was often trainers who came to their shops. So it was a great surprise when, seemingly out of the blue, Tracey announced that he wanted to take his marill and travel the world to study pokémon.

    The next few years were a flurry of adventure. For a long while, he traveled by himself, fine-tuning his abilities to observe pokémon and sketch them in a short amount of time. For another while, he traveled with a young trainer from Pallet Town, and that made his life even more interesting by giving him the opportunity to encounter strange and wondrous pokémon he never would have met by himself, the least of which were the legendary birds.

    Then, for the next while, he was Professor Oak's personal assistant. As such, his position in Polaris Institute was an important one, although he sometimes shied away from describing it as such. While he was rarely required to step into a laboratory and assist an experiment himself (mostly because Oak was more of a supervisor than a scientist), he performed all clerical duties Oak required, greeted and organized new members to the Polaris staff, and analyzed employee profiles sent by the Committee to help his superior choose new members. Only on occasion, he would set out to the Median and Inner Rings to oversee certain experiments to deliver a report to Oak, and now was such an occasion.
    Even with a promotion Tracey is useless. XD

    Tracey's steps fell quickly as he raced down the hallway towards one of the laboratories of the Inner Ring. His ID was already in hand, and his mind was struggling to keep track of the time. He knew that he was running late, that the biochemistry team's experiment was starting in fifteen minutes, and that he should have been there five minutes ago.

    He also knew that according to Murphy's Law, if one is running late, the chances are greater that there would be one obstacle or another to determine that one would absolutely be late. As such, just as he spotted the door to the laboratory in the distance, a hand grabbed his arm and jolted him back. By some miracle, he didn't tumble to the floor and instead managed to right himself, all while twisting his body until he came face-to-face with a man whose image he had seen on the backs of more than a few books.

    "Ah! Tracey Sketchitt! Just the assistant I wanted to see!" John said cheerfully. "Do you remember who I am?"

    At the question, Tracey widened his eyes and stammered, "Y-yes, sir! You're Professor McKenzie, one of the world's leading experts on pokémon psychology and battle techniques! I'm a huge fan of yours, but—"

    "Clever boy, clever boy!" John exclaimed as he patted Tracey on the back. "Say, you wouldn't happen to be busy, would you?"
    And I see his luck really hasn't improved, either.

    "Uh, actually…" Tracey's eyes darted towards the end of the hallway. "I'm late for assisting the biochemistry team, and—"

    John's face fell. "Oh. Them. Well, in that case, let me escort you! I'd like to make a business proposal along the way, if I may."

    "A… business proposal?"

    "Yes, yes! Very simple arrangement, really. You see, I need help on a little project of mine, and I can't trust anyone but Professor Oak's finest. I can convince the old arcanine to lend me you for a bit, but negotiations would be much smoother if I knew whether or not you'd like to work closely with me."

    "Well, I…"

    "Did I forget to mention that it'd get you out of a desk job and back into a laboratory?"

    That was all it took to coax the boy into rambling about why he would be thrilled to do it and wasn't entirely sure if it would be okay and countless other things John only half-listened to. The older man simply grinned and put an arm around Tracey's shoulders like he was a close friend, and with that, the two of them walked down the hallway. Along the way, he shot a victorious glance through an open door. Beyond it, he could see Ariana, dressed in the uniform of the chief of security and flanked by two large lab assistants, and while the assistants looked completely nonchalant about the image of Tracey being accompanied by John, the Rocket executive seethed in quiet fury.

    And that, in John's opinion, made this all positively worth it.
    I don't really have anything to add to this part but to say that it had Ariana, so it was neat.

    Interesting chapter overall. Looks like big things are going to happen soon.

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    Fghghgjsdsd! New chapter!

    For some reason, the whole chapter had a different (but good!) feel compared to the rest of the chapters, even in the beginning. After I read the entire chapter, it made me realize that this chapter seems to be (in my mind) the start of a whole "arc". We're going out of Mauville, we are formally introduced to the "big baddie", and there's a handful of new characters on board. All in all, a fresh new chapter to satisfy my needs.

    The battle between Bill and 009 was just one awesome scene. I felt that Bill was more confident, reacted more than planned this time. Due to that, I found myself being immersed more in what was being said than what was being done. Before, Bill didn't have the ability exchange witty banter while trading blows. Or, trying to trade blows. xD

    Steven and Wallace. Welp, I should have expected this. As for Tate, would it be mean of me to admit that I thought, Oh sweet revenge...? He and his twin were such a nightmare in my Sapphire game that finding out one of them got turned into a psychic alien brought a grin to my face. As for how that happened, I haven't the slightest. And that ending line! CREEPY...!

    You realize that I have to make fanart for him now, right? I can't get the image out of my head.

    Tracey. :3 I always did like him, so I'm glad he's now part of the cast. I still can't seem to grasp the fact that AEM follows canon (barring some adjustments, of course.) When I write, I usually end up throwing canon out the window. Completely. Like it never existed.

    And no, I don't think the quality was bad at all. Everything flowed as it should, and description (both in characterization and outer details) was great! Awesome job! ^-^

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    Ariana seething in quiet fury in quite clearly the best. I'd hit that like the fist of an angry god. Figuratively speaking of course.

    One thing that jumped out at me... (OTHER THAN PSYCHIC SPACE ALIEN TATE OH GOD I BET HE'S GEEKING OUT ABOUT BEING THAT AWESOME!! Is Liza normal/jealous/dead?)

    ...aaaaaaaanyway... Was the mention (ish) of Ash, I wonder how that plucky youngster is doing. Going by your timeline, give it up Jax, WE KNOW YOU'VE PLANNED A TIMELINE FOR THIS :P where abouts would Ash be in the world?

    Wow, this post is random and shouty, please ignore my shoutyness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolXWolf View Post
    This is me being awkward and reviewing the chapters OUT OF ORDER! YAY! (it actually doesn't help that I was excited when I found out you updated)
    *high five!* I am completely A-OK with out-of-order reviews. \o/

    If the quality is worse than usual, then I must be blind. Your wording and characterizations are as perfect as ever.
    Aww, thank you. ♥

    LOL. I got this image in my head of Bill using attract like Emolga does in the Best Wishes anime.
    That is exactly how it would happen, pose and all. And sparkles, naturally. You can never be too adorable when it comes to Attract.

    Oh geez. I know you're trying to hook back up with Lanette, Bill, but I don't think this is the answer. ...Then again, Bill using attract on Lanette might prove to be hilarious (though I can't imagine him purposely doing so). Or heck, even Adam using attract on Lanette.
    Hold on. Coupling this with something Nando said.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    Bill's true colors FINALLY come out. Infected with an alien parasite? Transformed into a hideous mutant? **** that ****, get the girl!
    So, I'm extremely entertained by the fact that the first reactions people are having to those lines are "lol Bill is trying to hook up with Lanette" and not "lol Bill wants to hit on Pokémon." XD Because I thought that was where that was going, and so did Adam.

    And the thought of Bill using his powers for terrible, terrible reasons involving Lanette makes this all incredibly hilarious. So I'm taking it as a reader request!

    …And there will be no guarantees that Bill is going to get away with it without having the crap beaten out of him. (I feel like the discussion of whether or not Bill and Lanette are in the same egg group needs to exist. Because that's exactly the kind of ridiculous discussion that this fic should be spawning on a whenever-it-updates-ly basis.)

    Whenever I see the word "hag" in the Pokemon universe, I can't help but think of Agatha for whatever reason. Bill with Agatha...UGH. (Tries to scrap image off mind)
    Which in turn reminds me of terrible, terrible crackships back in the day. ;_; Excuse me; gonna go cry in this corner over here.

    Team Rocket catching a Pokemon legally. For once in their existence. Mind turning yourself in while you're in the goody two-shoes mood, Black Tulip?
    Haha, oh, wishful thinking. XD

    Lanette is never gonna give you up,
    Never gonna let you down,
    Never going run around and desert you (though she tried in the beginning)
    Never gonna make you cry
    Never gonna say goodbye (she tries though)
    Never gonna tell a lie (ok so that part sometimes happens) and hurt you....(at least not without her crowbar)
    (Dang, I am too hyper for my own good)
    asdfghjkl;

    And now I lost the Game. :|

    For that, I give you this.

    Bill's taking a stance he learned from a kung-fu movie and hoping that it will help in some way....oh boy.
    Only one way that could ever go: awesomely.

    Spoken like a true kung-fu action hero there, Bill. You got the lines down, the stance down, the special effects (Tulip's bombs), and now all you need is a stunt double. Ask Black Tulip if she'll let you bring in Bruno and have him fight your place.
    Or reveal that she killed his family like a true kung-fu action villain. *sage nod*

    So you're not only hitting on him (literally), you're starting to hit on him figuratively as well? Why do I have a feeling that, any moment now, Lanette is going to come in and hit you upside the head with a crowbar?
    Crowbar justice? In my fanfic?

    It's more likely than you think!

    Also, evidently, everyone wants Bill, yes. ;D He's just that irresistible. Much to Lanette's thinly-veiled chagrin.

    Careful there, Black Tulip. Bridget and Brigette are awfully similar, and you wouldn't want to anger Lanette anymore than you already have.
    *gives you an ice planet in lieu of an internet for getting the reference*

    Steven teaching Bill....oh this is going to be good.
    Haha, oh yes, I'm looking forward to writing that like an 80's montage. Because it's going to be good, but no one can say for certain if Bill would think that. ;D

    WHAT?

    WHAT?
    Ah, the sweet sound of a mission accomplished.

    Why am I getting a feeling of deja vu?
    Because I am an evil, evil person. ;D

    Did Bill's father just save Tracey from the same fate that befell Bill?
    Absolutely! For now, anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Boy did you have a beautiful description going.

    And then, ZIGZAGOON GUTS.
    That could be a description of the entire fanfic as a whole, I think.

    "Lengthy, flowery description attempting to establish a serene tone AND THEN DEAD BODIES."

    Really a nice touch here describing every bit of his physical being in this scene. It really isn't that easy to flesh out such a thing like that.
    Thank you!

    See, usually, people would use Fly or other Flying-type moves or the ability Levitate to show this, so using Magnet Rise is creative. It's shown creatively too.
    Thanks! Yeah, the original version of this fic actually gave Bill real wings (and not ethereal energy faerie magic wings), but I decided to scrap that idea in this version, in part because I couldn't figure out how the wings were actually stored (they were basically metal blades as a nod to the manga Saikano) and in part because I couldn't figure out how to explain how they would enable Bill to fly. I mean, Bill's actually rather heavy and not at all aerodynamic in this form; if thrown in the air, he would most likely drop like a rock. Abusing Magnet Rise at least means I can hand wave it by saying, "You know the Beldum and Magnemite lines? Yeah, it works like that."

    I also have no idea why I feel the need to make Bill's ability to "fly" make sense, save for "this is sci-fi." \o/

    Go Bill! Practice your moves tonight so you can last with Lanette. *runs*
    Haha, WELL. If Bill and Lanette "train" together, it'd unfortunately be Lanette who would have to figure out how to last. *flee!*

    I have thought entirely too much about this.

    Neither does he, in all fairness.
    Haha, fair point there.

    Teeter Dance

    Teeter Dance

    TEETER DANCE

    Dear God, Jax, make this **** happen. Adam in a dance-off with Miror B., Ludicolo and Maractus.
    Y'know, THERE MAY JUST BE AN EXTRA FOR THIS. I'm too amused by the mental image of this dance-off. It's beautiful.

    The only reason why Lanette would get hurt is because she isn't infected too... yet. You know Adam wants it.
    What doesn't Adam want, if you know what I mean?

    It wouldn't have been very useful anyway, considering that it just does the same thing as Protect in the end.
    Pretty much, but try telling him that. XD

    Either way, he better learn how to fight and fast.
    Oh, he'll eventually learn. *cackles evilly*

    See, at first, I thought she was referring to Nettle, and that made me laugh twice instead of once.
    Haha, that thought never even crossed my mind, but now that I think about it, that makes this moment even more hilarious because of how readily Bill jumps to assume that Domino is referring to Lanette. That could either be taken as shippy goodness or as the equivalent of Bill saying, "WHAT NO I DON'T THINK SHE'S A HAG WHAT?" It's up to you. XD

    Don't do it Domino. You don't want to end up like Nettle did. Don't go there.
    It's kinda like having a huge red button that says in massive letters, "DO NOT PUSH." It's just too tempting!

    I get the feeling Domino dies next. She crossed that line now.
    *whistles innocently*

    It does happen.
    Oh yes. It just diminishes in likelihood the more times it's used, and given Bill's luck and how the universe feels the need to dictate that the things he needs to have happen at a certain time won't happen, that decrease in accuracy just means "it's totally not going to happen for him when he needs it."

    Or in other words: Yeah, but this is Bill who's trying to use it. XD

    Great description of the action, by the way.
    Thank you!

    Wait, what? Sienna?
    Ooh, yes, it's been a long while, hasn't it? Sienna was the cover she used back in Polaris Institute as one of the lab assistants. We see her using that name only once, back when Bill just wakes up as an Ixodida.

    Also, I'm guessing that was Iron Tail? Looks like he's got some moves after all.
    Believe it or not, it actually wasn't. (When Bill uses that move, his tail becomes too tense to manipulate, so he actually can't grab anything until he releases the energy he channels to it in preparation for the attack.) But I will say that Iron Tail is one of the few moves we can safely assume that Bill's mastered by now. Or practically mastered, anyway.

    In the meantime, this move is what we call an ***-pull. I'd say "literally," but that would be a terrible pun.

    Oh WOW. Now that was simply ****ing badass. Domino/Sienna/whatever her name is really is fearless, isn't she?
    Absolutely! She is the Black Tulip, after all. ;D

    And Bill learning moves from kung-fu movies. I laughed.
    Just wait until the Caravan finds out that's where most of his self-defense maneuvers came from.

    Why do I not believe her?
    Because if you believe a Team Rocket member, one would really have to worry about you, amirite?

    Okay, I don't know how you did this, but the combination of the (extremely well-described) action, the interspersed dialogue, and the fact this somehow came off as resembling an over-the-top power up sequence for a super sentai team (thanks, watching Future Diary too much) this whole fight is possibly the most badass thing I've read here yet. Really.
    Thank you! And there's going to be a lot more fight scenes like these in the future, what with this new arc just about to start. We're finally moving out of the "LOL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT BACKSTORY EVERYWHERE" part and into the "sentient beings kicking the asses of other sentient beings" part. And potentially "political intrigue" part too.

    There's still some backstory you'll be getting, naturally, but hopefully, there'll be a lot of characters being awesome too.

    You best tell him, Domino. I think you pissed him off.
    And you won't like him when he's angry. *shot!*

    Why do I get the feeling that Lanette has experience with making that mistake?
    *walks away whistling because this is totally not a plot point or anything*

    Time kind of ran out to be a hippie, Bill.
    All he is saying is give peace a chance. :( *shot again!*

    He's gonna kill someone eventually, I'm calling it now.
    It's always the nice ones, amirite?

    WHAT THE...?

    Okay, where did these two come out of?
    Magic!

    Seriously, you'll learn in a chapter or two where they popped in from. And hopefully where the Fire-type came from, too. Because that kinda feels like a plot hole, doesn't it?

    Dare I sense a big battle coming?
    Absolutely! ;D

    Bill needs to begin accepting reality, seriously. Peacenik strategies are clearly not going to work here.

    I do think he will learn soon though.
    Oh definitely. It'll probably take some knocking about, but he will.

    I didn't think that he'd begin learning THIS fast though. Lanette sure is good at delivering some hard-hitting points.
    Yep. Or using Bill's sister as a bargaining tool. However you'd like to think of it.

    I think this is the beginning of a turning point. I am beginning to see a transformation in his character.
    Oh yes. One way or another, he's going to experience a lot of character growth from here on out. Even if he has to be "coaxed" into it by Adam.

    Wait, Tate now too? Should I assume that many if not all of Hoenn's prominent figures - Gym Leaders, Elite Four, etc - survived?
    Ooh, a lot of them, yep. In fact, for funsies, the list of prominent Hoenn characters. The ones who are absent from the list, by the by, are the ones who will be involved in plot points later.

        Spoiler:- Totally not subtle or anything.:


    I think things are about to step up majorly. It looks like a major battle is coming, and with Bill training on the road, it doesn't look like there will be large downtimes.
    Pretty much. :D

    That last line was pretty ominous...
    Oh yes. And I can't wait to reveal why that is.

    By the way, you spelled his name wrong. It's "Sketchit" with only one T at the end.
    For the longest time, I thought it was spelled with two T's, and consequently, when you told me it doesn't and after I looked it up on Bulbapedia, my mind = blown the same way I found out Brigette's name isn't spelled with a D.

    POKÉMON, Y U DO THIS?

    Even with a promotion Tracey is useless. XD
    Haha, yeah. XD He seriously got the short end of the stick in terms of jobs here.

    And I see his luck really hasn't improved, either.
    Nope. XD It'll probably get slightly better because John almost emits good luck himself, but… probably not.

    I don't really have anything to add to this part but to say that it had Ariana, so it was neat.
    ARIANA MAKES EVERYTHING 20% COOLER. *shot for pony references*

    Interesting chapter overall. Looks like big things are going to happen soon.
    Thank you! And I'm quite excited about it because, oh yes. There will be excitement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phantom Kat View Post
    For some reason, the whole chapter had a different (but good!) feel compared to the rest of the chapters, even in the beginning. After I read the entire chapter, it made me realize that this chapter seems to be (in my mind) the start of a whole "arc". We're going out of Mauville, we are formally introduced to the "big baddie", and there's a handful of new characters on board. All in all, a fresh new chapter to satisfy my needs.
    Ah, thank you! I'm glad you see it as a shiny new beginning because that's totally what it is. I've got lots of awesome things planned in the next few chapters, particularly once the gang finally gets the crap out of Mauville. Finally.

    …Of course, there will probably be a few chapters leading up to the escape. Because I can never get a scramble to escape anything done in just one chapter.

    The battle between Bill and 009 was just one awesome scene. I felt that Bill was more confident, reacted more than planned this time. Due to that, I found myself being immersed more in what was being said than what was being done. Before, Bill didn't have the ability exchange witty banter while trading blows. Or, trying to trade blows. xD
    Nice catch. He's definitely getting more comfortable with (well, less shocked by) battling, and he's definitely going to get even more so as time goes on. I have to admit, I had a lot more fun writing him this way than in previous chapters; it was pretty amusing imagining him taking some pseudo-kung-fu stance and being inappropriately polite to his opponent smack in the middle of the fight just to stall. Not to mention it's just a lot more fun writing a character who can come up with creative moves to pull in a fight, and I really do think that Bill's the kind of person who, if he just gets past all that pacifist business, has the potential of coming up with all kinds of crazy-awesome stunts.

    Steven and Wallace. Welp, I should have expected this.
    And I'm looking forward to writing both of them, too. ;D And actually, I do mean that honestly. This'll be my first time trying to write the both of them (completely in-character and not crack-o-riffic or based on other people's RP versions of them), so I'm just a little nervous tackling their characters because I know they're still fairly popular. One thing's for certain: I'm rewatching their episodes like nobody's business.

    As for Tate, would it be mean of me to admit that I thought, Oh sweet revenge...? He and his twin were such a nightmare in my Sapphire game that finding out one of them got turned into a psychic alien brought a grin to my face. As for how that happened, I haven't the slightest.
    XDDDD Honestly, I can't blame you. The twins' game incarnations are creepy as all sin, and unless you abuse Surf and Water-types as much as I do, they can make getting that seventh badge a lot like taking a walk through a park in Hell.

    On the other hand, their anime counterparts are downright adorable and not at all full of "OH GOD WHY," so luckily, I'll be basing Tate's personality on anime!Tate to create a fluffy, likeable character…

    …With psychic powers that would make Sabrina jealous.

    And that ending line! CREEPY...!
    Bwahahahahaaaaaaa…! >:D

    You realize that I have to make fanart for him now, right? I can't get the image out of my head.
    DO IT. Fanarts are always pretty and welcome. :D ♥

    Tracey. :3 I always did like him, so I'm glad he's now part of the cast.
    *high five!* Tracey's always been somewhere on my "characters I like" list. I mean, he's such an adorable fanboy, and he's got this "sensitive artist" aura about him. It's going to be a lot of fun working with him in particular because basically before being a Bill fangirl, I was a massive Tracey fangirl. As such, there's going to be one huge wave of nostalgia after another going on here.

    I still can't seem to grasp the fact that AEM follows canon (barring some adjustments, of course.) When I write, I usually end up throwing canon out the window. Completely. Like it never existed.
    XD I really don't blame you. A lot of people in this fandom do, which is totally cool if it floats your boat and such. I just like working directly with canon because I have a lot of fun challenging myself to capture canon personalities or include canon facts where they're relevant (and won't end up contradicting one thing or another), and of course, it's also a lot of fun playing with Bulbapedia for this too.

    At the same time, I like writing about events that happen outside of the timeline that we see. As in, I never really like writing about Ash and whoever he's traveling with right now because then I'd have to directly address canon events and try to wedge my fic into one event or another, never mind the fact that I'd have to keep up with changing teams or companions or whatnot. So I prefer doing things like what I'm doing for AEM, where I write about events that happen to characters Ash hasn't seen in a long time so that there's reason to believe that canon events are still going on in a completely different part of the world. Buuuut I'll get into that with a response to one of Diddy's questions.

    And no, I don't think the quality was bad at all. Everything flowed as it should, and description (both in characterization and outer details) was great! Awesome job! ^-^
    Thank you! :D

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    Ariana seething in quiet fury in quite clearly the best. I'd hit that like the fist of an angry god. Figuratively speaking of course.
    Honestly, I wouldn't blame you at all. ;D I kinda would too.

    One thing that jumped out at me... (OTHER THAN PSYCHIC SPACE ALIEN TATE OH GOD I BET HE'S GEEKING OUT ABOUT BEING THAT AWESOME!! Is Liza normal/jealous/dead?)
    *walks away whistling because that's totally not a plot point or anything either*

    ...aaaaaaaanyway... Was the mention (ish) of Ash, I wonder how that plucky youngster is doing. Going by your timeline, give it up Jax, WE KNOW YOU'VE PLANNED A TIMELINE FOR THIS :P where abouts would Ash be in the world?
    Good question! And prepare for rambling!

    To start off, I consider AEM to be slightly AU. That is to say, canon events are still going on elsewhere in the world, but there's a few key differences, one of which being (obviously) Professor Oak working in Polaris and the whole Project Stardust thing and the part about Hoenn being under quarantine. Keeping that in mind…

        Spoiler:- Ash and friends, the update!:


    Wow, this post is random and shouty, please ignore my shoutyness.
    But I like your shoutiness. :(


    Seriously, guys, thanks! :D I'm not sure when the next chapter will be out (because I've fallen behind again), but considering it's over halfway done, maybe soon?

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

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        Spoiler:- The spoilery list of Hoenn people and what happened to them plus my responses:
    I totally needed to comment on that list, considering how Hoenn is best region, things need to be said.

    Random splurge of headcanon is fun!
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        Spoiler:- Whee, spoiler box!:


    And high five for the Hoenn love!

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    That is exactly how it would happen, pose and all. And sparkles, naturally. You can never be too adorable when it comes to Attract.
    Oh yes PLEASE. If you ever give Bill the ability to use attract, denying us the sparkles would be a CRIME. A crime, I tell you!

    So, I'm extremely entertained by the fact that the first reactions people are having to those lines are "lol Bill is trying to hook up with Lanette" and not "lol Bill wants to hit on Pokémon." XD Because I thought that was where that was going, and so did Adam.
    Oh I wouldn't doubt Bill would want to hit on some Pokemon. But Lanette is a much more intersting target for him at the moment.

        Spoiler:- *shifty eyes*:


    And the thought of Bill using his powers for terrible, terrible reasons involving Lanette makes this all incredibly hilarious. So I'm taking it as a reader request!
    :-D BEST NEWS I’VE SEEN ALL DAY TODAY

    …And there will be no guarantees that Bill is going to get away with it without having the crap beaten out of him.
    AND THE NEWS KEEPS GETTING BETTER!! :’-D

    And now I lost the Game. :|
    If it makes you feel any better, I’m sure Bill’s father loses the game every time he goes to Celadon and sees the sign of his favorite building.

    For that, I give you this.
    Nyanyanyanyanyanyanyan

    Oh wait, this is Pokémon we’re discussing.

    Nyarthnyarthnyarthnyarthnyarthnyarth

    Also, evidently, everyone wants Bill, yes. ;D He's just that irresistible. Much to Lanette's thinly-veiled chagrin.
    He already has a harem of Pokémon storage system girls. He even has his own fanboy Celio. I’m starting to think the gender of the storage system keepers in subsequent regions after Johto are purposely all female as some sort of running gag.

    *gives you an ice planet in lieu of an internet for getting the reference*
    Yay! Did I get Hoth?
    Very clever to use the aliases of an already established con-artist, BTW.

    Because I am an evil, evil person. ;D
    Does this mean we’re going to torture transform Tracey next? :-D

    Haha, WELL. If Bill and Lanette "train" together, it'd unfortunately be Lanette who would have to figure out how to last. *flee!*
    Lanette used SKULL BASH!
    But it missed!
    Bill used ATTRACT!
    It’s super effective!
    Lanette faints!
    Bill: *confused* But…but Attract isn’t even a damaging move! And why does it feel like I’m using Harden right now?

        Spoiler:- Totally not subtle or anything.:
    And I'm looking forward to writing both of them, too. ;D And actually, I do mean that honestly. This'll be my first time trying to write the both of them (completely in-character and not crack-o-riffic or based on other people's RP versions of them), so I'm just a little nervous tackling their characters because I know they're still fairly popular. One thing's for certain: I'm rewatching their episodes like nobody's business.
    Steven is one of favorite characters, and I'm looking forward to how you handle him. You've done a beautiful job with your characters so far, so I'm positive you'll do just as well with Steven. (I was so mad when they only included him in one episode of the Anime. I mean, come on! He's the former champion!)

    DO IT. Fanarts are always pretty and welcome.
    Fanart? WHERE?


    *high five!* Tracey's always been somewhere on my "characters I like" list. I mean, he's such an adorable fanboy, and he's got this "sensitive artist" aura about him. It's going to be a lot of fun working with him in particular because basically before being a Bill fangirl, I was a massive Tracey fangirl. As such, there's going to be one huge wave of nostalgia after another going on here.
    Does this mean we’ll get to see more of Tracey than just a single chapter? *hopeful*

    XD I really don't blame you. A lot of people in this fandom do, which is totally cool if it floats your boat and such. I just like working directly with canon because I have a lot of fun challenging myself to capture canon personalities or include canon facts where they're relevant (and won't end up contradicting one thing or another), and of course, it's also a lot of fun playing with Bulbapedia for this too.
    I think following an Anime/game fusion canon pretty much only works if you’re not trying to follow the game story or if you're focusing on someone who hasn’t been a main character in the series. If you were trying to mesh the games and the Anime with a character like Kris it wouldn’t work, because the things that happen to Kris in the game more or less happen to Ash in the Anime.


        Spoiler:- Ash and friends, the update!:
    I think I’ve mentioned before that I already read all of your chapters. However, making commentary based on what I thought after revisiting these chapters isn’t nearly as fun as writing what my thoughts were when I first read them. So I’m going to write as though I’m reading these chapters for the first time. (There will be a few moments when I’ll mention later chapters though)
    What was strange was the fact that most of the absol stayed behind. Absol had the capability of relocating. They knew they could move and feed off of whatever they found along the way. It was just that only a handful of them actually left the area. All of them looked towards the sky for months, as if knowing already that no matter where they went, it wouldn't matter.
    NOOOO! Run away absols! RUN AWAY!!! I know you’re in tune with nature and all that jazz, but some of you have a chance of survival. GAH!!
    A massive, red wave had risen from inside of crater and lingered on its edge. Then, the mass rushed like a tsunami at the dark-type creature. With a whimper, the absol struggled to stand, but the small, red beads that flowed towards him were already washing against his legs. Small mouths tore into his flesh.

    Instantly, his eyes widened. He threw back his head, and his high-pitched howl filled the air.
    NOOOO~~!! ABSOL!!!! *cries*
    You…you killed my favorite Pokémon. You monster!! (joking, joking)
    This is my least favorite part of the whole story so far. Not because it isn’t good (far from it), but because you killed an absol. Is it bad that I feel worse for an absol I only got to read about in a few paragraphs than I do for Bill and all the cr*p he has to go through? (sorry Bill, but your torment amuses me)
    It’s ok though. Your wonderful writing keeps me entranced and involved in this story. So I’m going to go through the story pretending that my favorite Pokémon wasn’t slaughtered in the Prologue. It was a kecleon. A kecleon was killed. Not an absol. Denial is a beautiful river by the way.

    Then, shortly after the howl began, it ended abruptly. The pokémon surrounding Fortree City would have no other warning.

    Neither would the rest of Hoenn.
    YES. FORESHADOWING SENTENCES FTW.
    Last edited by AbsolXWolf; 20th November 2011 at 11:51 AM.
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  12. #187
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolXWolf View Post
    Oh yes PLEASE. If you ever give Bill the ability to use attract, denying us the sparkles would be a CRIME. A crime, I tell you!
    Inorite? As humiliating as it would be for him, he needs sparkles.

    Then again, this entire fanfiction is basically one long Trauma Conga Line for him, so naturally. ;D

    Oh I wouldn't doubt Bill would want to hit on some Pokemon. But Lanette is a much more intersting target for him at the moment.
    Oh so very true. That and he probably instinctively wants to avoid confirming about half those rumors that are floating around about him. You know the ones I mean.

        Spoiler:- *shifty eyes*:
    So does this mean Lanette would wear the pants in the relationship?

    :-D BEST NEWS I’VE SEEN ALL DAY TODAY
    AND THE NEWS KEEPS GETTING BETTER!! :’-D
    I aim to please. ;D

    If it makes you feel any better, I’m sure Bill’s father loses the game every time he goes to Celadon and sees the sign of his favorite building.
    Haha! Only most of the time. He wins sometimes. You know, totally to keep the game interesting. ;D

    Nyanyanyanyanyanyanyan

    Oh wait, this is Pokémon we’re discussing.

    Nyarthnyarthnyarthnyarthnyarthnyarth
    *glues a Pop Tart to Meowth*

    He already has a harem of Pokémon storage system girls. He even has his own fanboy Celio. I’m starting to think the gender of the storage system keepers in subsequent regions after Johto are purposely all female as some sort of running gag.
    This is totally my headcanon. ;D Although I do have to say it gets a little weird with Amanita, who's underage. But, uh, we won't judge. Not at all.

    Yay! Did I get Hoth?
    You do now!

    Very clever to use the aliases of an already established con-artist, BTW.
    Thank you! Also, it's going to be rather fun later on because while everyone else is going to decide on a single name to call her, Bill's probably going to go the route of Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name and just call her a different name each time he refers to her.

    Does this mean we’re going to torture transform Tracey next? :-D
    Maaaaybe. ;D I have to admit, there was an earlier version of this fic where he gets transformed, but I haven't decided whether I want that to happen again or if I want him to follow John for some shenanigans involving the Committee and the Agency.

        Spoiler:- I guess it boils down to...:


    Lanette used SKULL BASH!
    But it missed!
    Bill used ATTRACT!
    It’s super effective!
    Lanette faints!
    Bill: *confused* But…but Attract isn’t even a damaging move! And why does it feel like I’m using Harden right now?
    And then I lol'd. Congratulations for writing the first porn fic involving an Ixodida. XD

    Steven is one of favorite characters, and I'm looking forward to how you handle him. You've done a beautiful job with your characters so far, so I'm positive you'll do just as well with Steven. (I was so mad when they only included him in one episode of the Anime. I mean, come on! He's the former champion!)
    Thank you! I'm looking forward to having fun with him. :D

    Also, so flipping agreed about Steven. Actually, I'd like to extend that to a lot of important game characters. I mean, none of the other programmers show up at all, Maxie and Archie get two crappy episodes despite being regional evil masterminds (seriously, wtf), only the Sinnoh Elite Four is shown in its completion in the main series (Kanto E4 eventually shows up, but Agatha is relegated to one of the Chronicles episodes, and poor Lorelei decides she wants to be called Prima for some reason), and Steven? The league champion, and he gets barely an episode. Most of the gym leaders in the Hoenn arc get more attention than he does. The gym leaders. *flail*

    Tl;dr, so much disappointment there.

    Fanart? WHERE?
    Kat already did a pretty adorable fanart of Veronica's Growlithe and Bill, and I am heavily excited by what other stuff her l33t art skillz pull off. :D

    Does this mean we’ll get to see more of Tracey than just a single chapter? *hopeful*
    Absolutely!

    I think following an Anime/game fusion canon pretty much only works if you’re not trying to follow the game story or if you're focusing on someone who hasn’t been a main character in the series. If you were trying to mesh the games and the Anime with a character like Kris it wouldn’t work, because the things that happen to Kris in the game more or less happen to Ash in the Anime.
    Agreed. Of course, the vice-versa (sending Ash on a journey that mirrors a game's layout) could possibly work because Ash could function as a stand-in for, say, Hilbert, but yeah, having Kris go through the Johto League by replacing Ash with her usually ends up reading as uncreative. (Most recent example I have is a fic on dA about a girl who was basically Leaf waking up late, getting a Pikachu that's hostile towards her, and working her way to Viridian City where she ends up being entangled in a struggle against Team Rocket in a Pokémon Center. One of the other readers and I started thinking of making a drinking game out of it because it was that predictable.)

    But yeah, it really is easier to avoid the games' stories and focus on a side character. Then the readers can't really predict what's about to happen in the next chapter unless you make it painfully obvious. So it ends up being heavily delightful.

    I think I’ve mentioned before that I already read all of your chapters. However, making commentary based on what I thought after revisiting these chapters isn’t nearly as fun as writing what my thoughts were when I first read them. So I’m going to write as though I’m reading these chapters for the first time. (There will be a few moments when I’ll mention later chapters though)
    Awesome. :D

    NOOOO! Run away absols! RUN AWAY!!! I know you’re in tune with nature and all that jazz, but some of you have a chance of survival. GAH!!
    *evil cackle* There will be no escape.

    You…you killed my favorite Pokémon. You monster!! (joking, joking)
    But I am a monster. >:D

    This is my least favorite part of the whole story so far. Not because it isn’t good (far from it), but because you killed an absol. Is it bad that I feel worse for an absol I only got to read about in a few paragraphs than I do for Bill and all the cr*p he has to go through? (sorry Bill, but your torment amuses me)
    It's okay; Bill's torment amuses everyone.

    Not at all, really. Poor Absol didn't even get more than a page of an appearance before being offed in a way that was by no means symbolic or anything.

    It’s ok though. Your wonderful writing keeps me entranced and involved in this story.
    Aww, thank you. :D

    So I’m going to go through the story pretending that my favorite Pokémon wasn’t slaughtered in the Prologue. It was a kecleon. A kecleon was killed. Not an absol. Denial is a beautiful river by the way.
    ...And just for this, a Kecleon is going to appear in the main cast eventually.

    YES. FORESHADOWING SENTENCES FTW.
    *high five!*

    And thanks for reading! I'm really glad you're enjoying yourself, and you've come up with some pretty awesome points that I'm totally not taking as readers suggestions or anything. :D

    Edit: And then I missed a few comments. XD

    NOOOOO!!!!! SHE WAS, LIKE, THE COOL TEACHER I NEVER GOT TO HAVE! NOOOO!!!!
    Aww, but she died honorably, at least.

    NOOO!!! HE HAS A SON, HOW COULD YOU?!!! NOOO!!!!
    And he's in a better place. *nod*

    ….eh…*shrugs*
    XDDD Oh, appropriate reactions.

    Well aren't WE lazy, Juan?
    Pretty much. *solemn nod*

    …eh…he wasn’t my favorite.
    Rowan > all your other regional professors. Juuuust saying. (Juniper and Oak are close seconds in my book, but Rowan's a badass.)

    …who the heck?
    Clearly, my knowledge of one-shot characters is awesome. Meet Joshua, ladies and gents! Fun fact: This is more or less a nod to the first version of the fic, although like I said to Diddy I do believe, I may bring him back because he's also pretty awesome.

    Awwwww..no…
    But he died being amazing, at least.

    Who’s this? The Professor who lived up in Fallorbar? Don’t be ridiculous, Jx, there never was a Professor in that town…
    Eeeexactly. ;D

    …*starts cracking up laughing*…
    ...Yeah, he's totally going to make a guest appearance now.

    NOOO!!! DON’T LEAVE A MEMBER ALIVE!! YOU GOTTA KILL ‘EM ALL!!! (In case you haven't noticed, I hated them in the game)
    Hold that reaction until you start seeing more of him. I've got hilarious plans involving him and Lanette. Hilarious things that may or may not have been inspired by this.

    Also, word to the Winstrates, but on the positive side, they were awesome EXP dispensers.

    Steven’s father, President Stone
    Because he's a pretty important businessman vital to the economy of the region, he was one of the first to be carted off the island as soon as it was clear that the Ixodida were a threat. Naturally, he had to be dragged out of the region kicking and screaming, and Steven gave him the ಠ_ಠ face every step of the way until he was finally forced to settle in Johto.


    Also, good news everyone! You are reading this message in Professor Farnsworth's voice!

    I mean--!

    Seriously, the next chapter is just one scene away from being complete. Which sounds like a lot, but it's a really short scene, so hopefully, you'll see that up sometime soon~!

    Hurray, NaNo!
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 20th November 2011 at 11:59 PM.

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

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  13. #188
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    And by "soon," I guess I meant "today."

    Just a couple of notes before this goes up:

    1. I apologize in advance for both the gratuitous Japanese and the potential butchering of the Japanese language. It's plot-relevant, I swear!
    2. "Paralyz heal" is spelled correctly.
    3. Still haven't rewatched Wallace's episodes, so if I screwed up the characterization there, sorry!
    4. Totally did not just figure out a major plot point for this fic and attempt to shove it in starting this chapter. Oh, things that will be fixed and tightened during the on-going edit spree.

    That all said... enjoy! Hopefully the next chapter will be equally quick, considering I'm pretty much still trying to NaNo this arc.

    Warning!
    This chapter is rated R for graphic depiction of dead characters. Please be wary while reading this chapter.


    Anima Ex Machina: Twenty-Three
    Some days, you just don't want to wake up.


    Morning crept into the trainers' dormitories of the Mauville City Pokémon Center with a cold grayness. At first, Bill, wrapped in a cocoon of thin blood-stained sheets, failed to notice or stir as the door to his room opened with a slow creak. He didn't hear the quiet breathing of the newcomer or the sound of shoes padding softly across the linoleum floor. The mumbling flowing out of a barely open mouth didn't even reach his ears, nor did he hear the sound of one of the zigzagoon's bones sliding out of the dried pile of remnants.

    What woke him up at long last was the presence he felt. He felt the warmth of someone lean close, and his nose picked up an unfamiliar scent. His eyes opened at once before focusing on the tip of a zigzagoon femur. Startled, he twisted to look behind him to see who was standing right beside his bed.

    And there, she stood. Her gaze was fixed on him, but her face was otherwise expressionless, with a mouth in a straight line and not a glint of emotion in her wide eyes. He sat up with a jolt, causing the girl to drop the bone and back away slowly.

    "Hope," he whispered. "What are you…"

    By then, she stood in the middle of the room. Her hand fell to her side, and she simply stared at the ixodida in the bed. Motionlessly. Quietly. Bill pulled the sheets off his torso as he watched his sister for a while.

    "Wait. You don't recognize me, do you?" he said softly.

    Her body cringed, but her face remained unchanged, almost as if she was wearing a mask. Bill felt something inside him twist, but he knew it wasn't Adam's doing. Something was terribly wrong here. He knew it. Because he was conscious of that, he slowly held out a hand to her, palm out, fingers unfolding gently as he smiled as sweetly as he could at her. Her eyes flicked to his hand and then back at his face, but otherwise, she didn't move.

    "It's all right. I'm not going to hurt you. It's me."

    Her eyes flitted once again to his hand and back to his face. He slid closer to the edge of the bed, still holding his hand out to her. Still, she looked at it, her feet sliding backwards with every inch he leaned towards her, and he knew from this that winning her over wasn't going to be easy, not that he was expecting it to be in the first place. He knew what he looked like, what his hand looked like, and for that, he couldn't honestly blame her for being alarmed.

    Nonetheless, he still had one more trick to use. The old language. Japanese, the archaic language of their country, the language his mother taught him and he and his sisters used when they wanted to relay messages only meant for each other. Few people actually spoke it anymore thanks to the lack of language barriers granted by Common, the international tongue that had been in place for as long as anyone Bill knew could remember, and for this, he felt it was something special, something that tied him to his family and his heritage, even when he was never quick to admit he had a soft spot for either.

    But most importantly, it was, in his mind, one of the few things he and his sisters shared. The one thing that would make them feel comfortable and coax them into seeing him for who he was.

    "Nii-chan desu," he said. "Boku wa Nii-chan desu."

    For a third time, her eyes flitted between his hand and his face. He couldn't tell if what he said to her was registering at all; all he could get from her was the same blank expression. Then, abruptly, she turned and darted for the door.

    "Hey! Hope! Wait!"

    He scrambled to pull himself out of bed, but in doing so, his legs tangled in the bed sheets. As his claws and joints ripped the cloth to shreds, he crashed onto the floor, scattering the last pieces of zigzagoon everywhere. He placed his palms on the linoleum and pushed himself up just in time to see the girl disappear through the doorway.

    "Hope! Matte! Matte!"

    In the next few seconds, he struggled to break free from the tangle of the shredded sheets, and consequently, he tore them into rags before scrambling away from the mess on his hands and knees. Partway through the room, he launched himself to his feet and scrambled for the door. By then, as he peeked out into the hallway, he knew Hope had plenty of time to escape him.

    And indeed she did, as the hallway held no sign of her in the direction that she ran. Inhaling, Bill picked up on her scent (sweet, almost floral) and knew he could track her if he wanted to. However, when he emerged from his dormitory, he simply placed a hand on the wall of the corridor and breathed in the smell of hospital cleaners and layers of different people and pokémon until his heart calmed.

    Rather early to be this excited, is it not?

    "Rather early to be giving me trouble, isn't it, Adam?" he quipped.

    Forgive me for taking a remote interest in you and the things you do with our body.

    "Not a morning person, are you?"

    It would be rather irrelevant to apply biological concepts to me in this state, Bill. The question is, are you a morning person?

    "What? That doesn't even—" He held his head and groaned. "I don't have the patience for this right now."

    Ah, so the answer is no, then.

    "I said, I don't have the pa—"

    "Who are you talking to?"

    He stopped at the sound of Lanette's voice. Whirling around, he came face-to-face with his partner as she stood with a brown paper package tucked tightly under one arm and her red eyes staring holes into him.

    "How long have you been there?" he asked.

    "Right about the time you insisted that you didn't have the patience for… whatever it is. Should I even ask what you were talking about?"

    "Nothing," Bill replied quickly. "I was talking about nothing."

    "Nothing." She gave him an incredulous expression. "And you were talking about nothing with…?"

    "No one. Just… never mind."

    She raised an eyebrow. "And you insist that we shouldn't worry about you. What are you doing out here anyway? Or is that also nothing?"

    For a long time, he had absolutely nothing to say. All he did was turn to face the direction down which his sister had run, and his only movement after that was the rhythmic swish of his tail back and forth behind him. When nearly a minute passed, Lanette stepped away from him, heading in the opposite direction down the hall.

    "Fine. Be like that," she snapped.

    His fingers ground into the wall, punching small holes into the plaster.

    "Lanette. I need to know something."

    She stopped. After a brief pause, she looked over her shoulder.

    "Then ask."

    He turned around to look her in the eye before he spoke, as if that would ensure that every word hit her hard.

    "Why is Hope here?"

    She hesitated for a brief moment, lifting her chin slightly as her lips pressed together. Then, she looked away.

    "Lanette," Bill said sternly. "Tell me. She's my sister. I need to know."

    Before she made any effort to answer, she tossed the package at him. Awkwardly, he fumbled to catch it.

    "If you're demanding that I respond to a question that would require a long answer, the least you can do is multitask. Put this on."

    He blinked as he stared at it.

    "What does this have to—"

    "It's trainer-grade clothing. I can't imagine who thought it would be a brilliant idea to give you anything less and expect it to last," Lanette interrupted. "And no, it doesn't have anything to do with the answer to your question. I just find it difficult to take you seriously while you're naked."

    He shot her a glare but didn't argue. Instead, he tore open the package to find a full outfit: white shirt, gray slacks, suspenders, gloves, hat, scarf, all made with notably heavier material. The only thing that was missing was anything to cover his feet, but he honestly didn't care at that point. He dropped all of the garments to the ground except the shirt, which he worked to put on as Lanette spoke.

    "Our scouts found her outside Rustboro City on our first circuit around that part of the region. All we know is she was on the Hoenn contest circuit, probably headed towards Verdanturf Town. She had two ribbons on her, and the coordinators we had helped us figure out that she probably was headed for the next contest there after trying the one held in Rustboro months ago. We have no idea what happened to her between the quarantine and when we picked her up. It's rare that she speaks to any of us, and when she does, we can't understand the things she says. Or, rather, that's what I've heard. I've never heard her speak with my own ears. She only spoke to one person in the Caravan, and that person couldn't decipher what she was talking about."

    Suddenly, Bill's throat felt dry, and he stopped, his fingers frozen in the middle of buttoning his shirt. He swallowed painfully as he tried to force his tongue and mouth to operate. The rest of him felt cold and clammy, as if it already knew the answers to all of the questions rushing through his mind.

    "Why not?" he finally asked.

    Lanette shrugged. "Part of it is because she babbles. Sometimes speaks in riddles. Sometimes speaks in one-word sentences or non-sequiturs. And when she's not doing either, she's speaking gibberish in the old language."

    His tail snaked under cloth and wound tightly around his waist as he stooped to reach for the next garment. This revelation, that his sister was corrupting it, speaking nonsense with it, left an unsettling feeling in his heart. Although Hope was never an outgoing person, she wasn't necessarily shy, either. In friendly company, she would chatter away about the things that interested her. Accessories, cute pokémon, cartoons, it didn't matter.

    So to hear that she had stopped speaking, stopped wanting to communicate with people, and to remember that look on her face – the wide-eyed, empty look that she gave him – chilled him to the core. Something was horribly, horribly wrong.

    "Tell me more," he demanded after a long pause. His hand snatched the garment from the floor at the same time; he didn't want Lanette to see how much this news disturbed him.

    "What would you like to know?" Lanette's tone was neutral and calm, as if she was expecting his response but wanted him to say it out loud.

    "What happened when you found her? What state was she in? Did she say anything? I don't know; tell me as much as you can."

    Lanette studied him for a while, but he refused to make eye contact. Instead, he kept his head down as he slipped his legs into his pants, and he kept his movements calm, refusing to betray any kind of hint that he was feeling anything else but professional detachment.

    "Fair enough," she said. "I wasn't there when the scouts found her, but from what I've been told through their reports, they found her wandering around the outskirts of Rustboro City in a delirium with several lacerations to her arms and legs. It took us a week to get her to say a word, and when she did, she would only talk to our child caretaker Julie. In turn, Julie could only coax her into talking about contests, and when Julie asked her what she was doing out there and what happened to her, Hope would only respond with one-word answers. She won't tell anyone what happened to her – or can't, anyway."

    Bill listened carefully to what Lanette had to say as he finished putting each garment on. Shirt tucked into pants, suspenders clipped to waistband, gloves pulled on, scarf wound around neck, hat shoved onto head. When she finished speaking, he stared at her and fiddled with the edges of his gloves, as if expecting her to say something else.

    She, luckily, got the hint. "We know one thing, though."

    "What?" he asked.

    "By the time we got to Rustboro, it was reduced to rubble, and there were dead bodies all over the field where the scouts picked up Hope," Lanette told him. "She was attacked by ixodida."

    Bill's hands fell to his sides, and the expression on his face faltered. He wasn't sure how to respond. Lanette watched him with interest, waiting for him to say a word. When the silence lingered for nearly a minute, she placed a hand on her hip.

    "Then why did you say I'm the only one who can protect her?" he asked quietly before she could interrupt. "If the ixodida attacked her…" He shook his head, remembering the look on her face – not just that morning but also when he first saw her the day before then. "I don't understand. The ixodida attacked her, but she went looking for me! Why?"

    "Who knows? Who knows what's going through her head right now? All I know is you're the one who can stand up to the ixodida, and if an ounce of you is still the Bill I remember, then she should be safe with you. The Caravan is risking quite a lot by accepting you among us. Don't prove us wrong."

    "Lanette," Bill responded harshly, "if there's anything you can trust me to do, it's protect Hope. I know you think many ixodida are violent monsters, but not all of us are. I will never hurt you or anyone else on the Caravan."

    Once again, he found her staring at him as if she was memorizing every inch of him at once. Although he wanted to cringe at the expression she gave him – her cold eyes, her steady stare – he tried his best to stand his ground and refuse to show her any sign of weakness.

    "It's been months," she growled. "It's been months, and you have no idea. You weren't here, Bill. You don't know what Hoenn is like. All of the towns and cities in this region are ghost towns. It's impossible to stop entire swarms of the parasites, and whatever isn't devoured by them is either infected or insanely lucky. Whatever is infected gathers in groups and destroys everything they can find. Every last inch of this island has been leveled except for Littleroot Town and Lilycove City, and that's only because the National Defense Forces have strongholds in both places. I have seen things you can't even begin to fathom. Have you seen entire streets filled with bodies? Did you ever see children ripped apart? Were you ever forced to stand by as someone you know tried to fight off the infection? Did you ever watch someone you trust kill or maim everything it could get its hands on? I have. The parasite changes people. I don't know why yours hasn't, but I'm not going to trust it. And you can't be surprised that I won't because of all the things I have seen ixodida do – every single ixodida I've met until you."

    She paused for a moment to watch her partner's expression. At the same time, Bill remained quiet. He had plenty to say, but for the moment, he held himself back. In his heart, he knew she wasn't ready to listen to any of it – any of the things he wanted to tell her to insist that he wasn't like that, that not all ixodida were like that, that he could figure out why this was all happening if given the time and the chance. She wasn't ready. Lanette didn't want peace and didn't want anything remotely like peace. It didn't take any special ability to tell that much.

    After a few seconds, she noticed the silence and exhaled a short breath.

    "So what does your parasite have to say about that?" she snarled.

    "Nothing," Bill answered. "He has absolutely nothing to say."

    Speaking for me, Bill? How impudent of you. I have plenty to say on the subject, actually. I find it fascinating, as an off-handed example, that you find it so shocking that my kind are murderers and torturers. Are you certain that you understand me well?

    "Shut up," he whispered harshly.

    Lanette narrowed her eyes. "What did you say?"

    "No, nothing," he replied. "Not… nothing."

    What is it, Bill? Why are you hesitating? Go on. Tell her. Tell her about me. Our last conversation was far too short to be satisfying.

    He turned away from her to hide his expression. As soon as he moved away from her, he felt a hand grab his wrist. Lanette yanked his arm almost painfully as she tried to force him to turn around and face her.

    "Don't you dare, you coward!" she yelled. "Say that to my face!"

    She swung her hand up, intending on reaching around him to grab his shoulder and twist his body to face her, but before she could touch him, his other hand snatched her wrist. Her feet left the floor, and the two of them whirled until her back crashed into the wall. She yelped as he pinned her wrists to the plaster and leaned against her. Slowly, she forced her eyes to open, and at once, looking at the her partner's expressionless face, she knew she wasn't addressing Bill anymore.

    "You are very astute to assume you cannot trust my kind," Adam told her. "I have high hopes for your kind if you are an example of its warriors."

    Her lips pulled back to reveal her teeth in a sneer. "You—!"

    "Ah. I have not formally introduced myself, have I? I suppose I should, considering my host has deemed it unnecessary to do so. Horribly impolite, is it not? Lanette." The parasite's voice lingered on her name, drawing out each syllable with a tone that reminded her of oil – slick and poisonous. "You may call me Adam."

    "I don't care. Let me speak with Bill again."

    She tried to pull her hands off the wall, but Adam tightened its grip around her wrists. Her arms were bashed back into the wall, sending waves of throbbing pain from her wrists to her elbows.

    "You will get your chance," it reassured her. "First, I wish to establish our relationship. After all, even if I plan on allowing Bill to do what he wishes with our body, I will always be present in his mind. I am, after all, just as much a part of this creature as he is."

    "Let go of me!" she screamed.

    "But if I let go, then my point will not be made. Do you realize that I have overpowered you so quickly and easily? I could do that at any time, but I will not because you and my host's opinion of you entertain me. You are very right to assume that you should not trust me, but this is true for everyone you meet from now onwards. Truth is so subjective, child. There are humans in your party that you should trust far less than me. At least with me, you have the guarantee that I will not kill you – not until I am no longer amused by you or Bill, and I do not foresee that occurring until far into the future."

    Adam paused. Its eyes moved away from Lanette and to a point on the wall beside her head. She kneed it as hard as she could between the legs, her thigh slamming against what she found to be only metal plating. Either because of that or because of Adam's distraction, the creature refused to react, opting instead on staring at a point on the wall.

    "Bill, do you feel that?" it asked. "There is another ixodida nearby."

    Swiftly, Adam dropped to all fours and ran down the hallway. Lanette pulled herself away from the wall and rubbed her wrists gingerly as she watched her partner – or his body, anyway – dash away from her on its hands and feet. Finally, it registered in her mind what was about to happen, and with that, her feet shoved off the ground while her body launched forward in a dash.

    "Hey!" she yelled. "Stop!"

    The creature ignored her, opting to dash headlong to the end of the hall, straight through the common area, and out the open door. By then, the morning sun shone brightly over the pokémon center, forcing Lanette to hesitate slightly as she approached the door, if only to wince and force her eyes to adjust. As a result, she slowed as she crossed the empty common area until she stopped completely in the doorway. She shielded her eyes with a hand and squinted into the outside world just enough to see the ixodida standing on its feet.

    Lanette knew what Mauville looked like, but neither Bill nor the parasite inside him did. They only saw the outside world in darkness, and even then, their only glimpse of the city was the courtyard, a tiny oasis of peace and order.

    What most of Mauville looked like was in the front of the center. All around them, charred shells of buildings stood, skeletons of what the city used to be. Lamp posts and cars were reduced to twisted, metal lumps. Blackened rubble lay strewn in the street, and melted glass glittered like patches of ice across bare patches of cracked sidewalk. Just about the only things that were left untouched were a truck and a van that Vito and Thom were loading with boxes of supplies. They looked up as soon as the creature came outside. Thom stepped forward, his mouth open in preparation for a greeting before Vito reached out to grab him by the shoulder. At that, he looked up into his companion's stern gaze, just in time to see Vito shake his head at him and then nod towards Lanette. Thom fell silent as he glanced at the quiet of the scene, watching and waiting for something to happen.

    At the same time, in one of the gutted buildings, the creature could see a towering, black pile. Slowly, it walked across the street to approach its broken windows and peer inside. Only then did it realize that the pile was one of corpses, charred black with nearly all the flesh burnt off of each body until many of them weren't much more than black skeletons with scraps of muscle just barely hanging on to their bones. Every single head was covered in a melted face. Mouths hung open, eyes were melted out of sockets, noses were amorphous lumps jutting out of each skull.

    The only thing worse than the sight of those faces themselves was the fact that every skeleton was a different size, and quite a number of them were too small to be adults.

    Adam released its hold, and the first thing Bill did was choke on the bile filling the back of his mouth. Gagging, he doubled over and coughed it up, letting it splash onto the sidewalk. He covered his mouth with a hand as he staggered away. The smell of it all – the burnt flesh, the blood, the melted organs, the bitterness of his own vomit – overwhelmed him.

    Breathing in deep, steady gasps, he made his way to the middle of the street, where he stood shaking. Lanette watched him from the doorway, knowing from these reactions that it had to be her partner, the man she knew nearly all her life. Her hand balled into a fist as she thought about what the parasite did just a few minutes ago, about how Bill sounded when he demanded information about Hope, about those two contradictions and all the possible ways she could reconcile them in her mind. She didn't want to believe that this was Bill, that this creature was the same one who once worked side by side with her what felt like a long time ago. She didn't want to remember the way his hands looked when he worked, how his words sounded when he was encouraging her, how he treated every test subject they had as if it was a person. Yet, when she watched him throw up and realized right then just how out-of-place he was, she remembered that part of her: the one that, a long time ago, would sigh and help him unwrap himself from a caterpie's String Shot or administer a paralyz heal after he managed to expose himself to a shroomish's Stun Spore. It was strange, how she wanted right then to swoop in and help him like some kind of mother caring for a child with a band-aid and a lecture.

    After all, every interaction with him was a risk. She risked encouraging him to rely on her, to continue to be weak, to tempt death. Even more than that, she had no idea which one she was speaking to whenever she approached him. She could find herself face-to-face with the parasite, and there was a list of reasons why she couldn't trust Adam, the least of which being how easily it could overpower her and how frequently it made it clear that it could kill her on a whim if it chose. Not only that, but she also couldn't tell what the parasite did to the Bill part of him. Was this weak monster really still the Bill she knew, or is he hiding the manipulative sociopathy she knew the ixodida to have? Narrowing her eyes, she watched the creature's shoulders heave as she lingered on that last question.

    Bill was vaguely aware that Lanette was staring at him, but he was too busy being preoccupied with forcing his mind to settle down to respond. He lifted his eyes, fixing them on her as he struggled to slow his breathing to a normal rate. With each quick gasp, he straightened his back and slipped his arm from where it was clamping his torso to a more relaxed hang with his hand still on his stomach. His shoulders ached, but he ignored the pain.

    "Dead," he whispered. "They're all… the Caravan… Lanette, I…"

    In the quiet of the street, Lanette could hear his words, and at his murmurs, she snapped out of her attempts to analyze him. The truth was the night she and the others dragged him back to Mauville, she was just as shocked as he was, but shock, for Lanette, came and went easily. People died. She knew that, and she knew that sometimes, there was nothing she could do about it. When she got right down to it, she refused to think of herself as a failure, refused to think that she had failed the Caravan by not being there to protect them. By then, she had thought that all she had felt towards the massive losses was a numbness – an eagerness to pay respects to the dead and move on as quickly as possible. After all, mourning was weakness, a nod to human fragility. She had to be strong. The living counted on her.

    And she had been certain of all of that up until the point Bill opened his mouth and let it shape the words that he wanted to say ever since he saw her current self.

    "I'm so sorry."

    Lanette couldn't explain it, but somehow, those three words hit her hard. The last thing she wanted was sympathy from the species that decimated the Caravan. Clenching her fists, she steadied her gaze on the monster and tried once again to reconcile her thoughts. This was not her friend. It was the enemy she happened to capture and tame. It was a tool. Not Bill. Not a person. Not something with a soul.

    Her mind repeated these things over and over again. The Bill she knew, the one with the encouraging voice and the careful hands, would never pin her to a wall. He wouldn't threaten her. He wouldn't urge her to negotiate with murderers. She understood that this creature called himself Bill and tried to convince her that he was still the same inside, and on a level, she accepted that. But somewhere inside him too was the same breed of monster that burned a bus full of innocent children, and as she stood with her glare fixed on him, she decided that she wasn't about to accept his apology.

    How dare he apologize for this? He had no right to make any member of his species seem remotely human. It was an insult to her kind to think that this being could apologize – could feel remorse – for the deaths of over twenty children. It was an insult to her that he took away the only thing she could blame for the decimation. He had no idea how she felt the night she saw them all lying in the streets. He had no idea how much she struggled to push past those emotions, to maintain her composure because the survivors needed her now more than ever.

    He had no right to apologize.

    And the more she realized that, the angrier she got.

    She didn't get a chance to tell him any of this. Instead, a blast of water ripped him off his feet and sent him slamming into the ground. At once, Thom leapt off the back of the truck and sprinted forward, heading towards a charred pile of rubble. With some effort, Bill looked up, watching his friend stop and glare at two figures standing atop it: a man in green and a milotic beside him.

    "Hey! What's the big idea?!" Thom shouted.

    "Forgive me," the man responded. "Normally, I don't like surprise attacks on my own allies, but this is a special case." He raised his voice and glanced over Thom's head. "Tell me, are you Bill, or are you Adam?"

    Bill shakily stood, wet and flustered. "How did you…?"

    "Don't you ignore me!" Thom snapped. "I don't care if you are our allies, no one's allowed to attack Bill except Officer Jenny and me! Okay, and Lanette too! And maybe Nurse Joy's chansey, but that's only if Bill asks her to!"

    Lanette rubbed the bridge of her nose at that comment but made no effort to counter it. At the same time, Wallace settled his green eyes back on the blond.

    "This doesn't concern you," he replied calmly.

    "Like hell it doesn't!" Thom yanked one of his poké balls out of one of his pants pockets and tossed it in the air. "Manectric! Thunder!"

    The ball split open in mid-air, and from its core, white light spilled onto the ground. Manectric leapt from the flash, his body already sparking with electricity. As soon as he planted all four paws onto pavement, he roared, and all of the static arcing off his skin flared forward in a blast of yellow lightning and deafening sound. Just before it struck Wallace's milotic, golden, translucent walls appeared around him. The bolt struck it with a bang, and the walls around the milotic exploded with brilliant gold light. Thom shielded his eyes with an arm for a few seconds before, slowly, glancing over his wrist at his opponent. Wallace remained standing exactly where he was, as if nothing happened. Beside him, his pokémon righted itself and shook its head, apparently barely fazed by the attack.

    "Hey! How is that fair, throwing up Light Screen before I can get in an attack like that?!" Thom snapped.

    To the side, Lanette crossed her arms. "Easily fair. A well-trained milotic can execute commands in seconds, and an experienced trainer would have had it set up as soon as they took the field. Step down. You're outclassed, and this doesn't concern you."

    Bill glanced at her from the corner of his eye, but he didn't say a word. He knew that, from the perspective of a researcher, she was right. Yet he had a feeling, a twinge in his mind that he best described as a feeling of dread, that there was something else at work here.

    "Just whose side are you on anyway?!" Thom shouted at her.

    She eyed him briefly before turning towards the interior of the pokémon center.

    "Wallace. Do what you want with him if you think it will make your point clear. He's of no concern for me."

    "Very well." Wallace swept a hand towards his pokémon. "Milotic, Dragon Pulse, please."

    The serpent arched its head back, its body pulsing with green energy. Its mouth opened wide to make room for a jade-colored ball formed from wisps of its aura swirling between its jaws. One of Thom's feet slid back as he stood transfixed by the green light, and in front of him, his manectric bowed his head and growled.

    Milotic's head snapped forward, and all of the green energy around it pooled into the ball as it left its mouth. Thom could only stand still, his mind frozen on possible commands, possible counters. At the last second, he flinched, twisting his head and torso away from the attack in preparation of the blast.

    There was a bang and the wind of an aftershock, but there was no pain, no force driving him backwards. Gradually, he opened his eyes and turned back towards Milotic, only to find someone standing between Manectric and the serpent. For a few seconds, Bill stood there, arms crossed in front of his face, feet firmly planted in the cement road. Then, one of his legs bent, and his arms swung to his sides in an attempt to keep his balance.

    Thom reached out for him. "Bill, are you—"

    "I'm fine," he replied, grinning over his shoulder. "One of the advantages of being a steel-type. Dragon-type moves don't affect me that much. But it would be a good idea to get back, Thom. He's only here for me, but I thank you for defending me."

    "You sure, buddy?"

    After a second, Bill nodded. With that bit of reassurance, Thom relaxed and walked backwards, putting several feet between himself and his companion. Manectric padded at his master's toes with his mouth open in short pants. Once the two of them were far enough away, Bill glanced back at Wallace.

    With a determined expression, Bill cleared his throat, and in as firm a voice as he could muster, he said, "Well? How did I do?"

    Wallace immediately bowed his head in a short nod. "Your speed and defenses are better than I thought they were, but we'll need to work on your awareness. You allowed yourself to be caught off-guard."

    His hand rose, holding a poké ball to his partner. The serpent twisted its head, nudging at Wallace's fingers until the ball opened and drew Milotic inside.

    "Nonetheless, you finished lesson one admirably. You didn't hesitate to defend your friend, and you did so without backing down. I'd say you passed. We'll begin lesson two after we move out."

    He began climbing down the pile of rubble casually, as if it was a set of stairs. Bill watched for a few seconds before narrowing his eyes.

    "Wallace," he called, "there's something else I need to ask."

    The champion stopped, lifting his sea-green eyes towards his student.

    Bill didn't flinch from the man's expression. Instead, it made him resolve himself, stand a little straighter, tighten his hands into fists. So when the next words came out of his mouth, they weren't as loud as the ones he had been using to his teacher, but they came with a firmer, more deliberate tone.

    "There's another ixodida here, isn't there?"

    Wallace stood, his eyes gazing hard at the ixodida. Then, he flashed a smile at him and continued down the side of the pile without a word.

    ---

    Later that night, in the heart of Hoenn, the fire-type landed. His feet scorched the grass around him as he walked towards the edge of a lake. Approaching its shore, he stood, gazing deep into its depths and the quivering reflection of the moon on its surface.

    After a few moments, the air grew chill, and the water froze into a thick layer of ice. Yet the fire-type refused to move, not even to prepare to battle. Instead, he lifted his eyes to the side, just enough to watch a woman stride across the surface, her crystal-studded tail skimming the ice behind her.

    "If I remember correctly," he announced, "they call you Pandora, Lady of Frost."

    "And they call you Prometheus, Lord of Flames," she responded curtly.

    He held his hands out to her. "Ah, why the attitude, my lady? This is the first time we have come to meet on this dismal planet."

    Stopping in the middle of the lake, she looked at him up and down. "You know very well why. I come bearing a message on behalf of Her Majesty."

    "Oh? And what might that be?"

    Flicking a hand out to her side, Pandora churned the frigid winds into blowing across the surface of the lake. Waves rose, and water shot into the air, twisting into a spire of ice. Spikes burst from the tower's surface, glittering in the moonlight.

    "She wishes to know why you have attempted to defy her," Pandora continued.

    Prometheus squinted at the structure as fire circled his wrists. "Defy her? I would do no such thing."

    "The rogue," she spat. "The one that the Lord of the Skies was sent to retrieve. Why have you attempted to eliminate it?"

    "Temper, temper. I was following orders. Our orders are to eliminate every rogue we find within our territory, regardless of clan status. He is a rogue, and he was in my territory. Therefore—"

    "You were told to eliminate rogues of any breed except the Iron Clan."

    Prometheus hesitated briefly and then allowed himself to exhale a short burst of flame. "Is she worried about whether or not he fell to this planet? Surely, she should realize that—"

    "It is not the general that concerns her," Pandora interrupted. "It is Ereshkigal."

    "Is that so?" he replied, his voice suddenly quiet. "The likelihood of Ereshkigal landing here—"

    "—Is higher than you think, considering the empress's proximity to that abomination on our home planet the moment of the Destruction. Considering Her Majesty landed here, we have reason to believe Ereshkigal is here too."

    Prometheus balled his hands into fists. "If that is the case, then why does Her Majesty want every rogue alive?! We should be massacring all of them!"

    "My lord, are you displaying anger?"

    He had nothing to say to Pandora's words. Instead, he stood, waiting for her to respond. The flames that danced across his body died down until his red skin smoldered in the cold air.

    "This rogue could be the general, Ereshkigal, or no one at all," Pandora continued, as if Prometheus had only been calm those past few minutes. "We have no way of telling until he is brought before Her Majesty. Do not question the empress's wishes. If it is indeed Ereshkigal, you have even less of a chance of surviving the confrontation than you would if it was simply the monster's general. So long as it remains a rogue, its host can be overpowered. Because you attempted to eliminate him, Her Majesty has decided that you will take on the mission originally given to the Lord of the Skies. Capture this rogue and bring him to the empress alive. She and she alone will decide what his fate will be."

    "And risk the life of our empress?!"

    "I said do not question Her Majesty's wishes!"

    Pandora swung one of her hands towards the sky. With a loud crack, the ice tower next to her snapped off the surface of the lake and flew through the air, point first, until it drove itself into the ground next to Prometheus. As soon as it struck, it exploded, raining clods of dirt and sharp icicles down on the fire-type, whose only defense was to engulf himself in flames. The ice melted and the earth burned into dust around his head and shoulders until, at last, it stopped. Cautiously, Prometheus looked towards Pandora, who suspended herself above the lake with snow-white butterfly wings.

    "You have made your point," he told her. "Consider the task accepted."

    "Very good. Keep in mind that we will be watching you, Prometheus. May you be blessed."

    She left him there, gliding away from him on the cold winds she drove. Prometheus watched her until he could no longer see her. Once she was out of sight, he raised a fist, allowing it to burst into a flame the size of his own head. Opening his hand, he pulled the fire into a ball of light before pitching it into the icy lake. It crashed, sending shards of ice flying into the air as he turned and walked back into the forest.

    And with every step he made, the grass he touched caught ablaze.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 26th December 2011 at 3:16 AM.

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

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  14. #189
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    Important Update: Yes, I felt the need to add this on in its own post because I know some of my readers are currently writing reviews.

    But!

    With the latest edit (What version are we on anyway? 2.something. I want to say 2.3 by now.), one of the things that's happening is that the graphic violence will probably be turned down. You've probably already noticed that with the prologue (wherein Absol is killed off-screen), but basically, you'll probably see more of that. As in, graphic violence of the nature you saw in this latest chapter will probably be the most of it.

    What I want to know -- and please include this in any reviews if you can -- is do you think that this would still warrant an R rating? As in, does the violence squick you at all? If the answer is no, I'll take it up with a mod and see if we can get the rating bumped down to PG-13. If the answer is yes, then the R rating stays. I just can't decide myself because I've always had very weird tolerance thresholds, so... yeah. Your call, kids. Make terrible decisions for me!

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

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  15. #190
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    I never really thought this warranted an R rating anyway. Sure you have some scenes where people get killed or have the flesh melted from their bones, but those isolated scenes could easily be remedied with a warning before the chapter rather than an overall bumped up rating.

    My opinions aside... I really liked this chapter, more than some others I'd think. Perhaps it was because we got our first proper glimpse of Pandora (I'm sure it was the first proper appearance anyway) and a proper introduction to Prometheus. A name that really got me thinking, because in Greek Mythology, Prometheus of course was the Titan who gifted fire to the mortals, however, not many people know that in punishment for this, the Gods created Pandora (one of those Adam and Eve/women are sinful allegories) and entrusted her with a pithos (A greek jar, but it's commonly cited as a box) that would release all of the worlds evils. Due to the nature of how she was created, it was inevitable she would open it.

    History lesson over. Anyway, I wonder if that story has anything to do with the our two elite Ixodida.

    If you can't tell, I'm getting really excited for this upcoming arc. With all of the things being introduced (Wallace's training, more Thom, Ixodida interaction, mention of the Empress) you could say that the fun has been doubled.

    As for Wallace's characterisation, it's been a long time since I watched the Wallace Cup episodes and a really long time since I watched the Sootopolis Gym episodes, but I think it's safe to say that he wouldn't be his usual flamboyant self in this kind of evironment. To quote any war film ever, "War changes everything." And I'm sure that sentient, elemental space aliens can change you as well.

    I'm guessing that the Ixodida Adam sensed during the scene with Lanette (Adam and Lanette have brilliant interactions btw xD) was Tate, because nothing really came of it towards the end and Tate is hanging around and such.

    Here's hoping for continued badassery in future chapters!
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  16. #191
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    I guess it depends on the person. I personally am a bit 'squicked' at other parts but that's not necessarily the violent parts so go figure. PG-15 is possibly fine though, I'd say... but I can't say that's okay yet. Probably need to look these new versions of old chapters first. Also not ponder this after 1am.

    Anyways, caught up on this now (partly because no more uni exams for the year, woo). Last I said anything on it was the last chapter Nettle appeared in, so brief comments on the following ones, away!

    Thom is very entertaining with his unhelpful actions of trying to feed Bill, heh. As usual the conversations are pretty interesting as well, both the one between Bill and Adam (I particularly liked the part where Adam said he cannot leave the forest, and Bill retorted that he didn't care) and Bill and Lannette. Sure are keeping parts of her past (leastways in the war) well hidden there, and not just in that chapter. Poor Chansey as well, although I am amused at the thought of it smiling happily and then just falling over out of exhaustion, while still smiling.

    Also, I had the thought of Thom finding out about Bill feeling iffy about becoming like a Pokemon and then trying to convince Bill it was a Human Ball or something instead.

    "He's not awake yet! Besides, do you know how unsanitary that is?!"

    "Oh, come on! It's not like you've never had one in here!"

    "Not dead!"

    "They're not much different when they're alive, right?"
    I initially read the second line in regards to eating ('never had one') and not just being in the building so had a 'wait you eat live Zigzagoon!? @_@' moment. Herp. But I liked that it ended up headless later on. Just to ram it home.

    One thing I also noted to myself is that Bill kept saying that he wouldn't fight to Adam... but wouldn't his action in trying to choke him in a way contradict that? But I guess Bill wouldn't care about semantics at the time, poor guy.

    Tate also having the same 'infliction' was an interesting reveal (and I was wondering where Steven and Wallace had come into it I was only up to there before reading that other thing which involved them). The battle against... Domino, I'll call her - she has too many darn names! - was quite entertaining but I didn't quite like somersault-off-Bill bit. Sure, it was awesome, but something about that whole thing irks at me. =/ I wouldn't put it past my experience in karate though and all, but that's another story to be honest.

    Tracey's steps fell quickly as he raced down the hallway towards one of the laboratories of the Inner Ring.
    Not familiar with the phrase 'steps fell quickly' so maybe it's acceptable (probably is at any rate) but it sounds a bit odd to me.
    Tracey's appearance was surprising though - not that I mind it, just that I didn't expect him to show up. I can imagine him excitedly drawing a picture of Bill though. Also:
    Tracey did not have an illustrious background;
    Given how close that word is to illustrator and whatnot... haha. =p

    The last chapter was also quite enjoyable. All these subplots and sub-sub-plots and whatnot seem very well put together and each one is fairly interesting in its own right too. Steven and Wallace showing up for training, the training being on the go, their ultimate aim, and actually I'll stop listing them as I'll be a while. =p But it's darn impressive, I'll give you that.

    Lannette's thoughts felt a bit odd to me though... I feel it was a bit too quick in feeling somewhat sorry for Bill to white-hot anger at ixodida, although I can see why that happened here. I also feel that at least some of the explanation about Japan being the 'old' language for this story/Hope knowing it/etc could have been at least indicated some more when Bill tried talking to her in that Japanese (idk exactly how right/wrong it was, way too rusty on Japanese that is not the karate-instruction sort) - even with the mention about it before the fic it threw me off as it seemed way too out of left field at the time for me.
    "By the time we got to Rustboro, it was reduced to rubble, and there were dead bodies all over the field were the scouts picked up Hope," Lanette told him.
    where.
    It was a tool, not Bill, not a person, not something with a soul.
    I feel this would be better with 'It was a tool' as its own sentence, personally.
    "Don't you ignore me!" Thom snapped. "I don't care if you are our allies, no one's allowed to attack Bill except Officer Jenny and me! Okay, and Lanette too! And maybe Nurse Joy's chansey, but that's only if Bill asks her to!"
    Thom is awesome.

    Lastly; you have a knack of ending chapters awesomely. And:
    Dear God, Jax, make this **** happen. Adam in a dance-off with Miror B., Ludicolo and Maractus.
    Yes.

    A parody of the Pokemon Colosseum game, full of pastries and Miror B.
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  17. #192

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    Mhmm, I'm not "squicked" by anything I've read so far. Possibly one of the only scenes I've cringed a bit at was the latest description of the mound of charred bodies. I personally wouldn't classify it as "R", just something above PG-13 at the most. Then again, I've done a good amount of dissections and helped out in a hospital with patients, so...

    Typos:

    His eyes opened at once before focusing on the tip of one of the zigzagoon's leg bones.
    She tried to pull her hands off the wall, but Adam's tightened its grip around her wrists.
    Just "Adam", I think.

    And with every step he made, the grass he touched burst caught ablaze.
    Something funky's going on. lol I think you only wanted to use one verb there.

    One of the things I particularly liked about this latest chapter was, oddly enough, Bill's thought of how Japanese connected him to his family. It's much the same way I feel about my Spanish with my own family, and when Bill mentioned how it hurt his heart to hear that Hope was "corrupting" it it reminded me of how "Spanglish" words are sometimes inserted into conversations. I totally understand him there.

    It's hard to see that Lanette can still think of Bill as he was before all of this happened but chooses to set aside such feelings. I completely understand why she does this, though. Bill is fused with a parasite that can control his body at any time, so the thought of human!Bill unknowingly corrupted by it is pretty real.

    WALLACE. :B Just the thought of him next to his giant Milotic, completely calm and defeating Thom like nothing is pretty awesome. I don't think I've seen the anime episodes with Wallace, so I can't say whether he's in-character. Haha, Thom yelling at Wallace was pretty hilarious. He's definitely one of my favorite characters.

    Awesome job, Jax! The arc's coming to close. I'm excited!

    - Kat
    Last edited by Phantom Kat; 25th November 2011 at 3:57 AM.


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  18. #193
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    Sorry this review took so long! ^^;

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Anima Ex Machina: Twenty-Three
    Some days, you just don't want to wake up.


    Morning crept into the trainers' dormitories of the Mauville City Pokémon Center with a cold grayness. At first, Bill, wrapped in a cocoon of thin blood-stained sheets, failed to notice or stir as the door to his room opened with a slow creak. He didn't hear the quiet breathing of the newcomer or the sound of shoes padding softly across the linoleum floor. The mumbling flowing out of a barely open mouth didn't even reach his ears, nor did he hear the sound of one of the zigzagoon's bones sliding out of the dried pile of remnants.
    Boy you really don't want to let that go, do you?

    What woke him up at long last was the presence he felt. He felt the warmth of someone lean close, and his nose picked up an unfamiliar scent. His eyes opened at once before focusing on the tip of one the zigzagoon's leg bones. Startled, he twisted to look behind him to see who was standing right beside his bed.

    And there, she stood. Her gaze was fixed on him, but her face was otherwise expressionless, with a mouth in a straight line and not a glint of emotion in her wide eyes. He sat up with a jolt, causing the girl to drop the bone and back away slowly.

    "Hope," he whispered. "What are you…"
    Oh boy, here we go. With all the issues he's having he really doesn't need his sister mixed up in this.

    By then, she stood in the middle of the room. Her hand fell to her side, and she simply stared at the ixodida in the bed. Motionlessly. Quietly. Bill pulled the sheets off his torso as he watched his sister for a while.
    Wait, isn't he still, you know, naked?

    "Wait. You don't recognize me, do you?" he said softly.

    Her body cringed, but her face remained unchanged, almost as if she was wearing a mask. Bill felt something inside him twist, but he knew it wasn't Adam's doing. Something was terribly wrong here. He knew it. Because he was conscious of that, he slowly held out a hand to her, palm out, fingers unfolding gently as he smiled as sweetly as he could at her. Her eyes flicked to his hand and then back at his face, but otherwise, she didn't move.

    "It's all right. I'm not going to hurt you. It's me."

    Her eyes flitted once again to his hand and back to his face. He slid closer to the edge of the bed, still holding his hand out to her.

    "Nii-chan desu," he said. "Boku wa Nii-chan desu."
    Okay, that came out of nowhere. I'm not sure if I should be horrified or laughing at a Ridley Scott-like alien speaking in Japanese.

    For a third time, her eyes flitted between his hand and his face. He couldn't tell if what he said to her was registering at all; all he could get from her was the same blank expression. Then, abruptly, she turned and darted for the door.

    "Hey! Hope! Wait!"

    He scrambled to pull himself out of bed, but in doing so, his legs tangled in the bed sheets. As his claws and joints ripped the cloth to shreds, he crashed onto the floor, scattering the last pieces of zigzagoon everywhere. He placed his palms on the linoleum and pushed himself up just in time to see the girl disappear through the doorway.
    I hope that Zigzagoon is happy in Heaven... because the only thing Bill hasn't done to that corpse is defecate on it at this point.

    "Hope! Matte! Matte!"

    In the next few seconds, he struggled to break free from the tangle of the shredded sheets, and consequently, he tore them into rags before scrambling away from the mess on his hands and knees. Partway through the room, he launched himself to his feet and scrambled for the door. By then, as he peeked out into the hallway, he knew Hope had plenty of time to escape him.
    That raises a question to me. Why didn't he just cut the sheets immediately? Why did he struggle with them?

    And indeed she did, as the hallway held no sign of her in the direction that she ran. Inhaling, Bill picked up on her scent (sweet, almost floral) and knew he could track her if he wanted to. However, when he emerged from his dormitory, he simply placed a hand on the wall of the corridor and breathed in the smell of hospital cleaners and layers of different people and pokémon until his heart calmed.
    Just as a point I'd like to make, I personally don't care for the use of parentheses in description like that. It's up to you, but I probably would personally use dashes instead.

    Rather early to be this excited, is it not?

    "Rather early to be giving me trouble, isn't it, Adam?" he quipped.

    Forgive me for taking a remote interest in you and the things you do with our body.
    Bill. The quicker you realize that Adam has more than a "remote" interest in things you do with your body, the better.

    "Not a morning person, are you?"

    It would be rather irrelevant to apply biological concepts to me in this state, Bill. The question is, are you a morning person?

    "What? That doesn't even—" He held his head and groaned. "I don't have the patience for this right now."

    Ah, so the answer is no, then.

    "I said, I don't have the pa—"

    "Who are you talking to?"

    He stopped at the sound of Lanette's voice. Whirling around, he came face-to-face with his partner as she stood with a brown paper package tucked tightly under one arm and her red eyes staring holes into him.
    Lanette really is not the person he needed to see right now. Especially with Adam's interests.

    "How long have you been there?" he asked.

    "Right about the time you insisted that you didn't have the patience for… whatever it is. Should I even ask what you were talking about?"

    "Nothing," Bill replied quickly. "I was talking about nothing."

    "Nothing." She gave him an incredulous expression. "And you were talking about nothing with…?"

    "No one. Just… never mind."

    She raised an eyebrow. "And you insist that we shouldn't worry about you. What are you doing out here anyway? Or is that also nothing?"

    For a long time, he had absolutely nothing to say. All he did was turn to face the direction down which his sister had run, and his only movement after that was the rhythmic swish of his tail back and forth behind him. When nearly a minute passed, Lanette stepped away from him, heading in the opposite direction down the hall.

    "Fine. Be like that," she snapped.
    How tsundere of you, Lanette. The good kind of tsundere.

    His fingers ground into the wall, punching small holes into the plaster.

    "Lanette. I need to know something."

    She stopped. After a brief pause, she looked over her shoulder.

    "Then ask."

    He turned around to look her in the eye before he spoke, as if that would ensure that every word hit her hard.

    "Why is Hope here?"

    She hesitated for a brief moment, lifting her chin slightly as her lips pressed together. Then, she looked away.

    "Lanette," Bill said sternly. "Tell me. She's my sister. I need to know."

    Before she made any effort to answer, she tossed the package at him. Awkwardly, he fumbled to catch it.

    "If you're demanding that I respond to a question that would require a long answer, the least you can do is multitask. Put this on."

    He blinked as he stared at it.

    "What does this have to—"

    "It's trainer-grade clothing. I can't imagine who thought it would be a brilliant idea to give you anything less and expect it to last," Lanette interrupted. "And no, it doesn't have anything to do with the answer to your question. I just find it difficult to take you seriously while you're naked."
    Okay, someone FINALLY noticed he was naked? I guess he really isn't that impressive, so to speak, if it took this long!

    He shot her a glare but didn't argue. Instead, he tore open the package to find a full outfit: white shirt, gray slacks, suspenders, gloves, hat, scarf, all made with notably heavier material. The only thing that was missing was anything to cover his feet, but he honestly didn't care at that point. He dropped all of the garments to the ground except the shirt, which he worked to put on as Lanette spoke.
    Good outfit.

    "Our scouts found her outside Rustboro City on our first circuit around that part of the region. All we know is she was on the Hoenn contest circuit, probably headed towards Verdanturf Town. She had two ribbons on her, and the coordinators we had helped us figure out that she probably was headed for the next contest there after trying the one held in Rustboro months ago. We have no idea what happened to her between the quarantine and when we picked her up. It's rare that she speaks to any of us, and when she does, we can't understand the things she says. Or, rather, that's what I've heard. I've never heard her speak with my own ears. She only spoke to one person in the Caravan, and that person couldn't decipher what she was talking about."

    Suddenly, Bill's throat felt dry, and he stopped, his fingers frozen in the middle of buttoning his shirt. He swallowed painfully as he tried to force his tongue and mouth to operate. The rest of him felt cold and clammy, as if it already knew the answers to all of the questions rushing through his mind.

    "Why not?" he finally asked.

    Lanette shrugged. "Part of it is because she babbles. Sometimes speaks in riddles. Sometimes speaks in one-word sentences or non-sequiturs. And when she's not doing either, she's speaking gibberish in the old language."

    His tail snaked under cloth and wound tightly around his waist as he stooped to reach for his pants. He knew what she meant by the old language: Japanese, the archaic language of their country, the language his mother taught him and he and his sisters used when they wanted to relay messages only meant for each other. Few people actually spoke it anymore thanks to the lack of language barriers granted by Common, the international tongue that had been in place for as long as anyone Bill knew could remember, and for this, he felt it was something special, something that tied him to his family and his heritage, even when he was never quick to admit he had a soft spot for either.
    I see, this makes sense. It's actually a pretty greatly developed background, in fact. I give you credit for working this up.

    But this revelation – that his sister was corrupting it, speaking nonsense with it – left an unsettling feeling in his heart. Although Hope was never an outgoing person, she wasn't necessarily shy, either. In friendly company, she would chatter away about the things that interested her. Accessories, cute pokémon, cartoons, it didn't matter.

    So to hear that she had stopped speaking, stopped wanting to communicate with people, and to remember that look on her face – the wide-eyed, empty look that she gave him – chilled him to the core. Something was horribly, horribly wrong.
    Wow was this effective. Gave me a chill down my spine. Great description, too.

    "Tell me more," he demanded after a long pause. His hand snatched the pants from the floor at the same time; he didn't want Lanette to see how much this news disturbed him.
    You do realize the hilariously wrong implications of this image, right?

    "What would you like to know?" Lanette's tone was neutral and calm, as if she was expecting his response but wanted him to say it out loud.

    "What happened when you found her? What state was she in? Did she say anything? I don't know; tell me as much as you can."

    Lanette studied him for a while, but he refused to make eye contact. Instead, he kept his head down as he slipped his legs into his pants, and he kept his movements calm, refusing to betray any kind of hint that he was feeling anything else but professional detachment.

    "Fair enough," she said. "I wasn't there when the scouts found her, but from what I've been told through their reports, they found her wandering around the outskirts of Rustboro City in a delirium with several lacerations to her arms and legs. It took us a week to get her to say a word, and when she did, she would only talk to our child caretaker Julie. In turn, Julie could only coax her into talking about contests, and when Julie asked her what she was doing out there and what happened to her, Hope would only respond with one-word answers. She won't tell anyone what happened to her – or can't, anyway."
    That's actually an excellent depiction of trauma and regression as a coping mechanism, I think. Cookies for that.

    Bill listened carefully to what Lanette had to say as he finished putting each garment on. Shirt tucked into pants, suspenders clipped to waistband, gloves pulled on, scarf wound around neck, hat shoved onto head. When she finished speaking, he stared at her and fiddled with the edges of his gloves, as if expecting her to say something else.

    She, luckily, got the hint. "We know one thing, though."

    "What?" he asked.

    "By the time we got to Rustboro, it was reduced to rubble, and there were dead bodies all over the field were the scouts picked up Hope," Lanette told him. "She was attacked by ixodida."
    Why do I get the feeling this is going to make him grow a spine?

    Bill's hands fell to his sides, and the expression on his face faltered. He wasn't sure how to respond. Lanette watched him with interest, waiting for him to say a word. When the silence lingered for nearly a minute, she placed a hand on her hip.

    "Then why did you say I'm the only one who can protect her?" he asked quietly before she could interrupt. "If the ixodida attacked her…" He shook his head, remembering the look on her face – not just that morning but also when he first saw her the day before then. "I don't understand. The ixodida attacked her, but she went looking for me! Why?"

    "Who knows? Who knows what's going through her head right now? All I know is you're the one who can stand up to the ixodida, and if an ounce of you is still the Bill I remember, then she should be safe with you. The Caravan is risking quite a lot by accepting you among us. Don't prove us wrong."

    "Lanette," Bill responded harshly, "if there's anything you can trust me to do, it's protect Hope. I know you think many ixodida are violent monsters, but not all of us are. I will never hurt you or anyone else on the Caravan."
    As I thought. He's showing some acceptance of his situation, too.

    Once again, he found her staring at him as if she was memorizing every inch of him at once. Although he wanted to cringe at the expression she gave him – her cold eyes, her steady stare – he tried his best to stand his ground and refuse to show her any sign of weakness.

    "It's been months," she growled. "It's been months, and you have no idea. You weren't here, Bill. You don't know what Hoenn is like. All of the towns and cities in this region are ghost towns. It's impossible to stop entire swarms of the parasites, and whatever isn't devoured by them is infected. Whatever is infected gathers in groups and destroys everything they can find. Every last inch of this island has been leveled except for Littleroot Town and Lilycove City, and that's only because the National Defense Forces have strongholds in both places. I have seen things you can't even begin to fathom. Have you seen entire streets filled with bodies? Did you ever see children ripped apart? Were you ever forced to stand by as someone you know tried to fight off the infection? Did you ever watch someone you trust kill or maim everything it could get its hands on? I have. The parasite changes people. I don't know why yours hasn't, but I'm not going to trust it. And you can't be surprised that I won't because of all the things I have seen ixodida do – every single ixodida I've met until you."
    One: Lanette's been waiting to unload this for a long, long time, hasn't she?

    Two: "Whatever isn't devoured by them is infected." Hope was attacked by the Ixodida but survived. As in, she wasn't devoured.

    She paused for a moment to watch her partner's expression. At the same time, Bill remained quiet. He had plenty to say, but for the moment, he held himself back. In his heart, he knew she wasn't ready to listen to any of it – any of the things he wanted to tell her to insist that he wasn't like that, that not all ixodida were like that, that he could figure out why this was all happening if given the time and the chance. She wasn't ready. Lanette didn't want peace and didn't want anything remotely like peace. It didn't take any special ability to tell that much.

    After a few seconds, she noticed the silence and exhaled a short breath.

    "So what does your parasite have to say about that?" she snarled.

    "Nothing," Bill answered. "He has absolutely nothing to say."

    Speaking for me, Bill? How impudent of you. I have plenty to say on the subject, actually. I find it fascinating, as an off-handed example, that you find it so shocking that my kind are murderers and torturers. Are you certain that you understand me well?

    "Shut up," he whispered harshly.

    Lanette narrowed her eyes. "What did you say?"

    "No, nothing," he replied. "Not… nothing."

    What is it, Bill? Why are you hesitating? Go on. Tell her. Tell her about me. Our last conversation was far too short to be satisfying.
    Why do I get the feeling Adam is beginning to press his luck?

    He turned away from her to hide his expression. As soon as he moved away from her, he felt a hand grab his wrist. Lanette yanked his arm almost painfully as she tried to force him to turn around and face her.

    "Don't you dare, you coward!" she yelled. "Say that to my face!"

    She swung her hand up, intending on reaching around him to grab his shoulder and twist his body to face her, but before she could touch him, his other hand snatched her wrist. Her feet left the floor, and the two of them whirled until her back crashed into the wall. She yelped as he pinned her wrists to the plaster and leaned against her. Slowly, she forced her eyes to open, and at once, looking at the her partner's expressionless face, she knew she wasn't addressing Bill anymore.

    "You are very astute to assume you cannot trust my kind," Adam told her. "I have high hopes for your kind if you are an example of its warriors."
    Oh ****. Here we ****ing go.

    Her lips pulled back to reveal her teeth in a sneer. "You—!"

    "Ah. I have not formally introduced myself, have I? I suppose I should, considering my host has deemed it unnecessary to do so. Horribly impolite, is it not? Lanette." The parasite's voice lingered on her name, drawing out each syllable with a tone that reminded her of oil – slick and poisonous. "You may call me Adam."

    "I don't care. Let me speak with Bill again."

    She tried to pull her hands off the wall, but Adam's tightened its grip around her wrists. Her arms were bashed back into the wall, sending waves of throbbing pain from her wrists to her elbows.
    Correction: "Adam tightened its grip."

    Also, this is creepy as ****. Seriously.

    "You will get your chance," it reassured her. "First, I wish to establish our relationship. After all, even if I plan on allowing Bill to do what he wishes with our body, I will always be present in his mind. I am, after all, just as much a part of this creature as he is."

    "Let go of me!" she screamed.

    "But if I let go, then my point will not be made. Do you realize that I have overpowered you so quickly and easily? I could do that at any time, but I will not because you and my host's opinion of you entertain me. You are very right to assume that you should not trust me, but this is true for everyone you meet from now onwards. Truth is so subjective, child. There are humans in your party that you should trust far less than me. At least with me, you have the guarantee that I will not kill you – not until I am no longer amused by you or Bill, and I do not foresee that occurring until far into the future."

    Adam paused. Its eyes moved away from Lanette and to a point on the wall beside her head. She kneed it as hard as she could between the legs, her thigh slamming against what she found to be only metal plating. Either because of that or because of Adam's distraction, the creature refused to react, opting instead on staring at a point on the wall.
    I'm not going to think about what the implications of her kicking him only to find metal plating are. I'm just not going to.

    "Bill, do you feel that?" it asked. "There is another ixodida nearby."

    Swiftly, Adam dropped to all fours and ran down the hallway. Lanette pulled herself away from the wall and rubbed her wrists gingerly as she watched her partner – or his body, anyway – dash away from her on its hands and feet. Finally, it registered in her mind what was about to happen, and with that, her feet shoved off the ground while her body launched forward in a dash.
    Okay the image of Bill/Adam getting on all fours and running off creeps me out, again.

    "Hey!" she yelled. "Stop!"

    The creature ignored her, opting to dash headlong to the end of the hall, straight through the common area, and out the open door. By then, the morning sun shone brightly over the pokémon center, forcing Lanette to hesitate slightly as she approached the door, if only to wince and force her eyes to adjust. As a result, she slowed as she crossed the empty common area until she stopped completely in the doorway. She shielded her eyes with a hand and squinted into the outside world just enough to see the ixodida standing on its feet.

    Lanette knew what Mauville looked like, but neither Bill nor the parasite inside him did. They only saw the outside world in darkness, and even then, their only glimpse of the city was the courtyard, a tiny oasis of peace and order.

    What most of Mauville looked like was in the front of the center. All around them, charred shells of buildings stood, skeletons of what the city used to be. Lamp posts and cars were reduced to twisted, metal lumps. Blackened rubble lay strewn in the street, and melted glass glittered like patches of ice across bare patches of cracked sidewalk. Just about the only things that were left untouched were a truck and a van that Vito and Thom were loading with boxes of supplies. They looked up as soon as the creature came outside. Thom stepped forward, his mouth open in preparation for a greeting before Vito reached out to grab him by the shoulder. At that, he looked up into his companion's stern gaze, just in time to see Vito shake his head at him and then nod towards Lanette. Thom fell silent as he glanced at the quiet of the scene, watching and waiting for something to happen.
    Wow, that's some beautiful description right there. Excellent work.

    At the same time, in one of the gutted buildings, the creature could see a towering, black pile. Slowly, it walked across the street to approach its broken windows and peer inside. Only then did it realize that the pile was one of corpses, charred black with nearly all the flesh burnt off of each body until many of them weren't much more than black skeletons with scraps of muscle just barely hanging on to their bones. Every single head was covered in a melted face. Mouths hung open, eyes were melted out of sockets, noses were amorphous lumps jutting out of each skull.

    The only thing worse than the sight of those faces themselves was the fact that every skeleton was a different size, and quite a number of them were too small to be adults.

    Adam released its hold, and the first thing Bill did was choke on the bile filling the back of his mouth. Gagging, he doubled over and coughed it up, letting it splash onto the sidewalk. He covered his mouth with a hand as he staggered away. The smell of it all – the burnt flesh, the blood, the melted organs, the bitterness of his own vomit – overwhelmed him.

    Breathing in deep, steady gasps, he made his way to the middle of the street, where he stood shaking. Lanette watched him from the doorway, knowing from these reactions that it had to be her partner, the man she knew nearly all her life. Her hand balled into a fist as she thought about what the parasite did just a few minutes ago, about how Bill sounded when he demanded information about Hope, about those two contradictions and all the possible ways she could reconcile them in her mind. She didn't want to believe that this was Bill, that this creature was the same one who once worked side by side with her what felt like a long time ago. She didn't want to remember the way his hands looked when he worked, how his words sounded when he was encouraging her, how he treated every test subject they had as if it was a person. Yet, when she watched him throw up and realized right then just how out-of-place he was, she remembered that part of her: the one that, a long time ago, would sigh and help him unwrap himself from a caterpie's String Shot or administer a paralyz heal after he managed to expose himself to a shroomish's Stun Spore. It was strange, how she wanted right then to swoop in and help him like some kind of mother caring for a child with a band-aid and a lecture.
    Okay, this passage gave me a really good look into Lanette's softer side, which is important to establish. It really adds a third dimension to her as a character.

    After all, every interaction with him was a risk. She risked encouraging him to rely on her, to continue to be weak, to tempt death. Even more than that, she had no idea which one she was speaking to whenever she approached him. She could find herself face-to-face with the parasite, and there was a list of reasons why she couldn't trust Adam, the least of which being how easily it could overpower her and how frequently it made it clear that it could kill her on a whim if it chose. But more than that, she couldn't tell what the parasite did to the Bill part of him. Was this weak monster really still the Bill she knew, or is he hiding the manipulative sociopathy she knew the ixodida to have? Narrowing her eyes, she watched the creature's shoulders heave as she lingered on that last question.

    Bill was vaguely aware that Lanette was staring at him, but he was too busy being preoccupied with forcing his mind to settle down to respond. He lifted his eyes, fixing them on her as he struggled to slow his breathing to a normal rate. With each quick gasp, he straightened his back and slipped his arm from where it was clamping his torso to a more relaxed hang with his hand still on his stomach. His shoulders ached, but he ignored the pain.

    "Dead," he whispered. "They're all… the Caravan… Lanette, I…"
    Wait, what?! Now I have to go back and read a few paragraphs back again...

    That pile of bodies was the Caravan?

    In the quiet of the street, Lanette could hear his words, and at his murmurs, her mind switched from dwelling on that one question of who this creature was and immediately slid into the things she wanted to push out of her memories as quickly as possible. The feeling of wanting to protect this creature vanished, and her expression turned from one of scrutiny to a quietly angry glower. For the past days after she returned to Mauville to find the Caravan in cinders, she did her best to push it out of her mind with thirty thousand other thoughts. Dwelling on failure was not an option for her. She was not at all like Veronica Jenny, and she was not about to think of all the children she had failed to protect.

    So instead, she thought of the thing in front of her, of what it was to her and of all the things she would like to do to it. This was not her friend. It was the enemy she happened to capture and tame. It was a tool, not Bill, not a person, not something with a soul. That was her answer, and part of her felt a sense of sick pleasure, a sick sense of relief, at embracing this thought. It meant that she had someone to channel that anger towards, someone to blame for the loss of all those people. She wasn't at fault, and she was allowed to be angry.
    There are more philosophical issues raised here than one might think, for example the duality of his being and how Lanette struggles to accept it.

    In the meantime, Bill noticed her expression but pressed on. Eventually, his mouth shaped the words that he wanted to say to her since he saw her.

    "I'm so sorry."

    Right then, all that Lanette could feel was rage. Her teeth clenched, and her lips parted to reveal them. Her hands fell at her sides, balled into tight fists. Her entire body shook, and her eyes opened fully in a deathly glare. She wanted to respond, wanted to say how dare he apologize for anything, wanted to demand that he stop making her want to accept those words. All she wanted to do was feel angry at this thing, but the way it looked and sounded, the genuinely apologetic expression on his face and the quiet tone of his words, took that away from her. And in her opinion, he had absolutely no right to do that.
    Okay, yeah, that's a really deep look into her. I have to give you a lot of credit for this - the amount of perspective on Lanette's psychology that we're getting here is astounding, far above and beyond what most people provide.

    More cookies to you, in any case.

    She didn't get a chance to tell him any of this. Instead, a blast of water ripped him off his feet and sent him slamming into the ground. At once, Thom leapt off the back of the truck and sprinted forward, heading towards a charred pile of rubble. Bill groaned and looked up, watching his friend stop and glare at two figures standing atop it: a man in green and a milotic beside him.

    "Hey! What's the big idea?!" Thom shouted.

    "Forgive me," the man responded. "Normally, I don't like surprise attacks on my own allies, but this is a special case." He raised his voice and glanced over Thom's head. "Tell me, are you Bill, or are you Adam?"
    This is pretty in-character for Wallace, I think. So don't worry.

    Bill shakily stood, wet and flustered. "How did you…?"

    "Don't you ignore me!" Thom snapped. "I don't care if you are our allies, no one's allowed to attack Bill except Officer Jenny and me! Okay, and Lanette too! And maybe Nurse Joy's chansey, but that's only if Bill asks her to!"
    And maybe Nurse Joy, if Bill asks her to. Heh, heh, heh.

    Lanette rubbed the bridge of her nose at that comment but made no effort to counter it. At the same time, Wallace settled his green eyes back on the blond.

    "This doesn't concern you," he replied calmly.

    "Like hell it doesn't!" Thom yanked one of his poké balls out of one of his pants pockets and tossed it in the air. "Manectric! Thunder!"

    The ball split open in mid-air, and from its core, white light spilled onto the ground. Manectric leapt from the flash, his body already sparking with electricity. As soon as he planted all four paws onto pavement, he roared, and all of the static arcing off his skin flared forward in a blast of yellow lightning and deafening sound. Just before it struck Wallace's milotic, golden, translucent walls appeared around him. The bolt struck it with a bang, and the walls around the milotic exploded with brilliant gold light. Thom shielded his eyes with an arm for a few seconds before, slowly, glancing over his wrist at his opponent. Wallace remained standing exactly where he was, as if nothing happened. Beside him, his pokémon righted itself and shook its head, apparently barely phased by the attack.
    I think you meant to use "fazed" at the end there.

    "Hey! How is that fair, throwing up Light Screen before I can get in an attack like that?!" Thom snapped.

    To the side, Lanette crossed her arms. "Easily fair. A well-trained milotic can execute commands in seconds, and an experienced trainer would have had it set up as soon as they took the field. Step down. You're outclassed, and this doesn't concern you."

    Bill glanced at her from the corner of his eye, but he didn't say a word. He knew that, from the perspective of a researcher, she was right. Yet he had a feeling – a twinge in his mind that he best described as a feeling of dread – that there was something else at work here.

    "Just whose side are you on anyway?!" Thom shouted at her.

    She eyed him briefly before turning towards the interior of the pokémon center.

    "Wallace. Do what you want with him if you think it will make your point clear. He's of no concern for me."

    "Very well." Wallace swept a hand towards his pokémon. "Milotic, Dragon Pulse, please."

    The serpent arched its head back, its body pulsing with green energy. Its mouth opened wide to make room for a jade-colored ball formed from wisps of its aura swirling between its jaws. One of Thom's feet slid back as he stood transfixed by the green light, and in front of him, his manectric bowed his head and growled.

    Milotic's head snapped forward, and all of the green energy around it pooled into the ball as it left its mouth. Thom could only stand still, his mind frozen on possible commands, possible counters. At the last second, he flinched, twisting his head and torso away from the attack in preparation of the blast.

    There was a bang and the wind of an aftershock, but there was no pain, no force driving him backwards. Gradually, he opened his eyes and turned back towards Milotic, only to find someone standing between Manectric and the serpent. For a few seconds, Bill stood there, arms crossed in front of his face, feet firmly planted in the cement road. Then, one of his legs bent, and his arms swung to his sides in an attempt to keep his balance.

    Thom reached out for him. "Bill, are you—"

    "I'm fine," he replied, grinning over his shoulder. "One of the advantages of being a steel-type. Dragon-type moves don't affect me that much. But it would be a good idea to get back, Thom. He's only here for me, but I thank you for defending me."
    Bill McKenzie, knight of justice. Don't pick on defenseless Manectric.

    "You sure, buddy?"

    After a second, Bill nodded. With that bit of reassurance, Thom relaxed and walked backwards, putting several feet between himself and his companion. Manectric padded at his master's toes with his mouth open in short pants. Once the two of them were far enough away, Bill glanced back at Wallace.

    With a determined expression, Bill cleared his throat, and in as firm a voice as he could muster, he said, "Well? How did I do?"

    Wallace immediately bowed his head in a short nod. "Your speed and defenses are better than I thought they were, but we'll need to work on your awareness. You allowed yourself to be caught off-guard."

    His hand rose, holding a poké ball to his partner. The serpent twisted its head, nudging at Wallace's fingers until the ball opened and drew Milotic inside.

    "Nonetheless, you finished lesson one admirably. You didn't hesitate to defend your friend, and you did so without backing down. I'd say you passed. We'll begin lesson two once we move out."

    He began climbing down the pile of rubble casually, as if it was a set of stairs. Bill watched for a few seconds before narrowing his eyes.

    "Wallace," he called. "There's something else I need to ask."

    The champion stopped, lifting his sea-green eyes towards his student.

    Bill didn't flinch from the man's expression. Instead, it made him resolve himself, stand a little straighter, tighten his hands into fists. So when the next words came out of his mouth, they weren't as loud as the ones he had been using to his teacher, but they came with a firmer, more deliberate tone.

    "There's another ixodida here, isn't there?"

    Wallace stood, his eyes gazing hard at the ixodida. Then, he flashed a smile at him and continued down the side of the pile without a word.
    Okay, I'm getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I don't want to believe what I'm beginning to think but it almost seems unavoidable.

    ---

    Later that night, in the heart of Hoenn, the fire-type landed. His feet scorched the grass around him as he walked towards the edge of a lake. Approaching its shore, he stood, gazing deep into its depths and the quivering reflection of the moon on its surface.

    After a few moments, the air grew chill, and the water froze into a thick layer of ice. Yet the fire-type refused to move, not even to prepare to battle. Instead, he lifted his eyes to the side, just enough to watch a woman stride across the surface, her crystal-studded tail skimming the ice behind her.

    "If I remember correctly," he announced, "they call you Pandora, Lady of Frost."

    "And they call you Prometheus, Lord of Flames," she responded curtly.

    He held his hands out to her. "Ah, why the attitude, my lady? This is the first time we have come to meet on this dismal planet."

    Stopping in the middle of the lake, she looked at him up and down. "You know very well why. I come bearing a message on behalf of Her Majesty."

    "Oh? And what might that be?"

    Flicking a hand out to her side, Pandora churned the frigid winds into blowing across the surface of the lake. Waves rose, and water shot into the air, twisting into a spire of ice. Spikes burst from the tower's surface, glittering in the moonlight.

    "She wishes to know why you have attempted to defy her," Pandora continued.

    Prometheus squinted at the structure as fire circled his wrists. "Defy her? I would do no such thing."

    "The rogue," she spat. "The one that the Lord of the Skies was sent to retrieve. Why have you attempted to eliminate it?"

    "Temper, temper. I was following orders. Our orders are to eliminate every rogue we find within our territory, regardless of clan status. He is a rogue, and he was in my territory. Therefore—"

    "You were told to eliminate rogues of any breed except the Iron Clan."

    Prometheus hesitated briefly and then allowed himself to exhale a short burst of flame. "Is she worried about whether or not he fell to this planet? Surely, she should realize that—"

    "It is not the general that concerns her," Pandora interrupted. "It is Ereshkigal."
    I don't know what this means but it sounds ****ing awesome. The deeper this plot goes, the better.

    "Is that so?" he replied, his voice suddenly quiet. "The likelihood of Ereshkigal landing here—"

    "—Is higher than you think, considering the empress's proximity to that abomination on our home planet the moment of the Destruction. Considering Her Majesty landed here, we have reason to believe Ereshkigal is here too."

    Prometheus balled his hands into fists. "If that is the case, then why does Her Majesty want every rogue alive?! We should be massacring all of them!"

    "My lord, are you displaying anger?"

    He had nothing to say to Pandora's words. Instead, he stood, waiting for her to respond. The flames that danced across his body died down until his red skin smoldered in the cold air.

    "This rogue could be the general, Ereshkigal, or no one at all," Pandora continued, as if Prometheus had only been calm those past few minutes. "We have no way of telling until he is brought before Her Majesty. Do not question the empress's wishes. If it is indeed Ereshkigal, you have even less of a chance of surviving the confrontation than you would if it was simply the monster's general. So long as it remains a rogue, its host can be overpowered. Because you attempted to eliminate him, Her Majesty has decided that you will take on the mission originally given to the Lord of the Skies. Capture this rogue and bring him to the empress alive. She and she alone will decide what his fate will be."

    "And risk the life of our empress?!"

    "I said do not question Her Majesty's wishes!"

    Pandora swung one of her hands towards the sky. With a loud crack, the ice tower next to her snapped off the surface of the lake and flew through the air, point first, until it drove itself into the ground next to Prometheus. As soon as it struck, it exploded, raining clods of dirt and sharp icicles down on the fire-type, whose only defense was to engulf himself in flames. The ice melted and the earth burned into dust around his head and shoulders until, at last, it stopped. Cautiously, Prometheus looked towards Pandora, who suspended herself above the lake with snow-white butterfly wings.

    "You have made your point," he told her. "Consider the task accepted."

    "Very good. Keep in mind that we will be watching you, Prometheus. May you be blessed."

    She left him there, gliding away from him on the cold winds she drove. Prometheus watched her until he could no longer see her. Once she was out of sight, he raised a fist, allowing it to burst into a flame the size of his own head. Opening his hand, he pulled the fire into a ball of light before pitching it into the icy lake. It crashed, sending shards of ice flying into the air as he turned and walked back into the forest.

    And with every step he made, the grass he touched burst caught ablaze.
    And giving the aliens a very advanced-looking civilization complete with their own mission finishes off this excellent chapter on a high note. I like the Evangelion parallels, which enhance the impact (har har har) and strengthen overall the idea of these aliens having their own take on civilization, honor, drive and other things.

    We also got to see a lot of important development for Bill and especially Lanette here, which is always welcome. Especially with Lanette, who got a lot of depth in this one chapter alone.

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  19. #194
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    The other ixodida is Tate, the boy Mossdeep Gym twin right?

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  20. #195
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    Catching up on review responses before I become a complete hermit due to paper.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    I never really thought this warranted an R rating anyway. Sure you have some scenes where people get killed or have the flesh melted from their bones, but those isolated scenes could easily be remedied with a warning before the chapter rather than an overall bumped up rating.
    That makes sense and sounds a lot easier. I know that most of the chapters tend to be just drama and soap-operaish shenanigans and that even when battles happen, the only gore that pops up is if an Ixodida is involved. So... yeah, totally can see that.

    My opinions aside... I really liked this chapter, more than some others I'd think. Perhaps it was because we got our first proper glimpse of Pandora (I'm sure it was the first proper appearance anyway)
    Pretty much. She was in one earlier chapter when the empress sent the Lord of the Skies off to try to capture Adam, but this is her first major speaking appearance.

    History lesson over. Anyway, I wonder if that story has anything to do with the our two elite Ixodida.
    Absolutely. All of the Ixodida actually have Meaningful Names, usually with both in-universe and meta reasons.

        Spoiler:- A few of the explanations::


    If you can't tell, I'm getting really excited for this upcoming arc. With all of the things being introduced (Wallace's training, more Thom, Ixodida interaction, mention of the Empress) you could say that the fun has been doubled.
    Awesome! I'm really looking forward to getting deep into this arc because it'll be fun to get this plot really moving. We're basically careening towards the end of Book I here.

    As for Wallace's characterisation, it's been a long time since I watched the Wallace Cup episodes and a really long time since I watched the Sootopolis Gym episodes, but I think it's safe to say that he wouldn't be his usual flamboyant self in this kind of evironment. To quote any war film ever, "War changes everything." And I'm sure that sentient, elemental space aliens can change you as well.
    Fair point there. I sort of still want to get both Steven and him to be somewhat in-character because I imagine them to be the kinds of characters who kick *** and drink tea (Gratuitous Madoka reference!), but it's definitely good to know that if that doesn't work out too well (read: I end up too lazy to refresh my memory about canon), the "war is hell" angle works too. :D

    I'm guessing that the Ixodida Adam sensed during the scene with Lanette (Adam and Lanette have brilliant interactions btw xD) was Tate, because nothing really came of it towards the end and Tate is hanging around and such.
    Yep. I plan on making the first meeting between them particularly interesting. Hopefully, that'll happen in the next chapter.

    Here's hoping for continued badassery in future chapters!
    Oh yes. ;D

    Quote Originally Posted by bobandbill View Post
    I guess it depends on the person. I personally am a bit 'squicked' at other parts but that's not necessarily the violent parts so go figure. PG-15 is possibly fine though, I'd say... but I can't say that's okay yet. Probably need to look these new versions of old chapters first. Also not ponder this after 1am.
    It'd definitely be awesome if you did because then I wouldn't have to pester Psychic or Dragonfree to look instead. Take your time, though. I'm in no real rush to change up the rating (in part because I'm definitely not writing another chapter until finals are over).

    Thom is very entertaining with his unhelpful actions of trying to feed Bill, heh.
    Thank you! \o/ I really enjoy writing Thom, if only because he's the comic relief this fic frequently needs. Everything he does is either full of derp or full of lulz.

    Thanks also for the note about conversations. If it's not already pretty obvious (considering how much the plot tends to rely on dialogue), I have a lot of fun watching the characters interact. Especially since their personalities clash so hard most of the time.

    Also, yes to Chansey. I love her and think she's adorable, but oh that part. ;_;

    Also, I had the thought of Thom finding out about Bill feeling iffy about becoming like a Pokemon and then trying to convince Bill it was a Human Ball or something instead.
    …This conversation is now going to happen. (Probably in the Christmas special.)

    I initially read the second line in regards to eating ('never had one') and not just being in the building so had a 'wait you eat live Zigzagoon!? @_@' moment. Herp. But I liked that it ended up headless later on. Just to ram it home.
    Haha, knowing Thom, he probably would've meant that too. And that's where the Zigzagoon head went.

    One thing I also noted to myself is that Bill kept saying that he wouldn't fight to Adam... but wouldn't his action in trying to choke him in a way contradict that? But I guess Bill wouldn't care about semantics at the time, poor guy.
    Yeah, normally, he wouldn't fight, but at that particular time, Adam just pushed the right buttons and made Bill flip out. In general, Bill (as I see him, anyway) is the sort of person who would only resort to violence if under heavy stress. Part of this is because he's well aware that he has very little battling capabilities, and the other part is, as mentioned in an earlier chapter, resorting to violence causes him to feel an overwhelming sense of guilt even if there's actually very little reason for it. So the moments you see him actually being violent outside of training sessions at any time so far (when he tried to fight off the assistants in chapter two and pretty much right then), it's because he's either desperate or royally pissed off.

    That's totally going to change, though, especially since he's beginning to realize how he needs to start fighting.

    The battle against... Domino, I'll call her - she has too many darn names!
    And she's going to get many more. ;D I'm taking name suggestions!

    - was quite entertaining but I didn't quite like somersault-off-Bill bit. Sure, it was awesome, but something about that whole thing irks at me. =/ I wouldn't put it past my experience in karate though and all, but that's another story to be honest.
    Hmm. That's an interesting thought, and given the fact that you are a black belt, I'd trust your judgment there and say that it's very likely the move isn't something that could be pulled off. (I wouldn't say that it's OOC for Domino to try because she's a ***** like that, but certainly, given her height and the fact that she's jumping from ground-level, I can see what you mean. I'll definitely take another look at it.)

    Not familiar with the phrase 'steps fell quickly' so maybe it's acceptable (probably is at any rate) but it sounds a bit odd to me.
    This seems like an easy enough fix, considering the phrase actually turns out to be redundant anyway. Thanks for pointing that out!

    Tracey's appearance was surprising though - not that I mind it, just that I didn't expect him to show up. I can imagine him excitedly drawing a picture of Bill though.
    Is that a euphemism?

    Also, haha, yeah, I guess I should've made his appearance a little more prominent. He only popped up once earlier in the fic, and that was during John's proper introduction. Like the intro in this later chapter mentioned, he spends most of his time hanging around elsewhere instead of following Professor Oak everywhere.

    Given how close that word is to illustrator and whatnot... haha. =p
    That was totally not intentional, too. XD

    But it's darn impressive, I'll give you that.
    Thank you! I'm really glad you liked it!

    Lannette's thoughts felt a bit odd to me though... I feel it was a bit too quick in feeling somewhat sorry for Bill to white-hot anger at ixodida, although I can see why that happened here.
    I actually have to agree with you. Originally, that part was more of an abrupt transition. At first, it was just Lanette's thoughts about Adam, but then I realized that if Bill is going to discover what happened to the rest of the Caravan, it would be intensely awkward not to have Lanette's reaction to all of this somewhere along the line. So after attempting to include it, I realized that it needed a really good bridge because the part where she's meditating on her internal conflict went pretty deep into her thoughts, and as a result, what you're seeing is actually the built-up version of that bridge. I still agree that it could use a bit more building, but I'd need some time (and the reassurance that this chapter won't hit twenty pages) to figure out how to do it.

    I also feel that at least some of the explanation about Japan being the 'old' language for this story/Hope knowing it/etc could have been at least indicated some more when Bill tried talking to her in that Japanese (idk exactly how right/wrong it was, way too rusty on Japanese that is not the karate-instruction sort) - even with the mention about it before the fic it threw me off as it seemed way too out of left field at the time for me.
    Fair enough there. I can definitely see an opening in the earlier part of the scene – maybe including a reaction from Hope since he is speaking to her in a language she's more used to hearing from only her family.

    where.
    XD That's what I get for NaNoing this chapter and proofing it at 4 AM.

    Not to mention my computer has this weird habit of refusing to register that I'm hitting keys periodically. Seriously frustrating.

    I feel this would be better with 'It was a tool' as its own sentence, personally.
    Ooh, I like that change. I'll have to go back and fix it up when I'm caught up with edits.

    Thom is awesome.
    Indeed he is. ;D

    Lastly; you have a knack of ending chapters awesomely.
    Thank you! :D

    Yes.
    Well, the Christmas special will be full of crack, so why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phantom Kat View Post
    Mhmm, I'm not "squicked" by anything I've read so far. Possibly one of the only scenes I've cringed a bit at was the latest description of the mound of charred bodies. I personally wouldn't classify it as "R", just something above PG-13 at the most. Then again, I've done a good amount of dissections and helped out in a hospital with patients, so...
    *high five* Totally okay, though; I can definitely see what you mean. It seems like what Diddy suggested might actually be a better idea, so I might go and bump the rating for the overall fic down and then warn for any chapters that get a little edgy.

    Thanks for pointing out the typos! I have to admit I proofed this at 4 AM after blitz-writing it for NaNo, so… I'm not too surprised that the quality in terms of grammar was all over the place. XD I'll get that fixed up once I get caught up with edits.

    One of the things I particularly liked about this latest chapter was, oddly enough, Bill's thought of how Japanese connected him to his family. It's much the same way I feel about my Spanish with my own family, and when Bill mentioned how it hurt his heart to hear that Hope was "corrupting" it it reminded me of how "Spanglish" words are sometimes inserted into conversations. I totally understand him there.
    I have so much envy for people who are bilingual and come from bilingual families right now. ;_; (Half of my family is bilingual, but I was never raised to speak my mom's language because apparently, my grandfather massively confused my older brother when he attempted to teach him three different languages at once. Way to go, other parts of my family.) So… in a sense, I totally know what you mean because I've always wanted to be able to cringe at language corruptions or to feel that kind of connection with my own family. [/cool story, emo girl]

    In short, you are so cool in my eyes, Kat, on levels I can't even explaaaaaain.

    It's hard to see that Lanette can still think of Bill as he was before all of this happened but chooses to set aside such feelings. I completely understand why she does this, though. Bill is fused with a parasite that can control his body at any time, so the thought of human!Bill unknowingly corrupted by it is pretty real.
    Absolutely. That and she absolutely refuses to accept the reverse (that there's such a thing as a good Ixodida). Poor Bill, though, always trying to prove that he's not like the others on any remote level.

    WALLACE. :B Just the thought of him next to his giant Milotic, completely calm and defeating Thom like nothing is pretty awesome. I don't think I've seen the anime episodes with Wallace, so I can't say whether he's in-character.
    HE SPARKLES.

    And by that, I mean they were pretty awesome episodes all around. XD I just wish I'd paid more attention to how he speaks.

    Haha, Thom yelling at Wallace was pretty hilarious. He's definitely one of my favorite characters.
    Thank you! \o/ He's definitely one of my favorites to write.

    Awesome job, Jax! The arc's coming to close. I'm excited! :D
    Thanks so much! I'm really looking forward to writing it. :D

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler View Post
    Sorry this review took so long! ^^;
    Totally okay. Sorry for the guilt-trippy LJ post not too long ago and for still not getting caught up on all your fics. It'll happen soon, I promise!

    Boy you really don't want to let that go, do you?
    Nope. XD

    Oh boy, here we go. With all the issues he's having he really doesn't need his sister mixed up in this.
    But of course, the universe has decided he totally does. ;D

    Wait, isn't he still, you know, naked?
    Completely. Apparently, Bill has no qualms with nakedness. *nods*

    Okay, that came out of nowhere. I'm not sure if I should be horrified or laughing at a Ridley Scott-like alien speaking in Japanese.
    Probably, your best bet is to feel the same way you would if one donned a top hat and monocle, sipped a cup of tea, and went, "I say, good man! Quite a lovely day for tea and crumpets, wouldn't you say?" Which, incidentally, is Bill normally.

    I hope that Zigzagoon is happy in Heaven... because the only thing Bill hasn't done to that corpse is defecate on it at this point.
    Well, he also hasn't violated it via other means yet, but luckily, this isn't that kind of fic.

    That raises a question to me. Why didn't he just cut the sheets immediately? Why did he struggle with them?
    Because he's an idiot. Seriously, he just woke up and wasn't thinking straight, and while I imagine that the cloth touching his joints would be shredded pretty much immediately, there are some parts of his skin that aren't blade edges (specifically, the parts of his limbs between joints, like the forearm). So, he wound up tangled in an awkward position, so he'd have to untangle his limbs in order to do any sort of cutting.

    Just as a point I'd like to make, I personally don't care for the use of parentheses in description like that. It's up to you, but I probably would personally use dashes instead.
    Normally, I'd have the same stance, but for some reason, it just felt more appropriate here, like the statement was a little more removed from the rest of the sentence. I'll take a closer look at it and think about it, though.

    Bill. The quicker you realize that Adam has more than a "remote" interest in things you do with your body, the better.
    Inorite? XD

    Lanette really is not the person he needed to see right now. Especially with Adam's interests.
    Oh, absolutely. But of course, the universe says, "lmao let's totally make this happen." ;D

    Okay, someone FINALLY noticed he was naked? I guess he really isn't that impressive, so to speak, if it took this long!
    I have totally not given too much thought to what happens to a host's genitals during transformation, but basically… it's hidden. This is how Bill managed to go for half a fic without anyone commenting on being able to see his junk.

    Also, there's an even lengthier explanation that involves fish biology.

    Good outfit.
    Thank you! Apparently, Lanette has some semblance of fashion sense.

    I see, this makes sense. It's actually a pretty greatly developed background, in fact. I give you credit for working this up.
    Thanks very much. And I swear, it's totally going to be plot-relevant later. XD

    You do realize the hilariously wrong implications of this image, right?
    Haha, at the time of writing it, no, but now I do. XD I'll have to fix that up a little to avoid the incestyay going on.

    That's actually an excellent depiction of trauma and regression as a coping mechanism, I think. Cookies for that.
    Thanks very much! I'm always a little bit wary about describing psychological shenanigans, so it's good to hear that it actually looks realistic. Especially since she's probably going to be like that for a good while until someone comes along and calms her down.

    Why do I get the feeling this is going to make him grow a spine?
    Because it's totally the kick in the pants he's going to need in a few chapters. ;)

    As I thought. He's showing some acceptance of his situation, too.
    Slowly but surely, yep. It helps that literally everyone is telling him he has to fight if anyone's going to survive.

    One: Lanette's been waiting to unload this for a long, long time, hasn't she?
    Oh yes. ;D And there's something else that she's been wanting to unload, but that'll come in a few chapters. (Minds out of gutters, please.)

    Two: "Whatever isn't devoured by them is infected." Hope was attacked by the Ixodida but survived. As in, she wasn't devoured.
    Truth be told, she's actually an exception to the rule. Technically, so are the citizens of Mauville and the Caravan on a constant basis. You could say Lanette's exaggerating a little, but on the other hand, the citizens of Mauville and the Caravan are also pretty much badass, so really, it's a massive miracle that Hope (no pun intended… OR IS IT?) survived.

    Why do I get the feeling Adam is beginning to press his luck?
    Because it totally is. ;D

    Also, this is creepy as ****. Seriously.
    Thank you! (And also, thanks for catching the typo. :D)

    I'm not going to think about what the implications of her kicking him only to find metal plating are. I'm just not going to.
    XD Don't worry. Bill does have some kind of manhood down there.

        Spoiler:- Squick, anyone?:


    Okay the image of Bill/Adam getting on all fours and running off creeps me out, again.
    As it should. ;D

    You know, I feel like this is an appropriate time to mention that originally, the Ixodida had the power to walk on walls and ceilings. Now imagine Bill/Adam doing that on a ceiling/up a wall, and if you can sleep tonight, I tip my hat to you. (Although they sort of did it with their claws a few chapters back… but that really doesn't count as demonic spider-crawling, does it?)

    Wow, that's some beautiful description right there. Excellent work.
    Thank you! \o/

    Okay, this passage gave me a really good look into Lanette's softer side, which is important to establish. It really adds a third dimension to her as a character.
    Thank you. And yep, definitely keep all that in mind because from here on out, Bill's going to attempt to Defrost the Ice Queen.

    Wait, what?! Now I have to go back and read a few paragraphs back again...

    That pile of bodies was the Caravan?
    Yep. ;D Had to trim the cast size somehow.

    There are more philosophical issues raised here than one might think, for example the duality of his being and how Lanette struggles to accept it.
    Thank you! This is actually one of the (many) themes I wanted to bring into the story because, seriously, this fandom needs an overly pretentious fic that doesn't read like an overly pretentious fic, amirite?

    No, just kidding.

    The real reason why I want to thank you for noticing this is because it's going to play an important role in the development of at least one of the characters – probably multiple, given the fact that there's a lot of differing opinions about Ixodida among the human cast. (Hope is afraid of most of them but is for some reason curious about Bill. Veronica and Lanette both hate them. Ellen wants to help them but knows she can't. Vito sides with Lanette about everything but at least wants to give Bill a chance. Thom is like the delightful kind of racist who has one African-American friend but says incredibly offensive things about African-Americans anyway. Steven and Wallace work with one and therefore don't care. And Domino thinks of all of them as tools.) So the question/trope of What Measure Is a Non-Human is going to be pretty much everywhere as all these opinions clash with each other.

    Also, What Measure Is a Non-Human is a massively awesome trope either way.

    Okay, yeah, that's a really deep look into her. I have to give you a lot of credit for this - the amount of perspective on Lanette's psychology that we're getting here is astounding, far above and beyond what most people provide.
    Thank you. I really want to develop her a bit more, especially since the actual reason why she's giving Bill such a hard time is pretty interesting to me. Buuuut you'll see that in a few chapters, I think.

    More cookies to you, in any case.
    *NOMS*

    This is pretty in-character for Wallace, I think. So don't worry.
    Awesome. Thanks!

    And maybe Nurse Joy, if Bill asks her to. Heh, heh, heh.
    XD Well, what Pokémaniac didn't have a crush on a Nurse Joy at some point, amirite?

    I think you meant to use "fazed" at the end there.
    Whoops! So I did. Thanks!

    Bill McKenzie, knight of justice. Don't pick on defenseless Manectric.
    The thought of Bill as a knight is beautiful, just so you know.

    …Because I can totally see him charging at windmills attempting to be a knight in shining armor, if he's not already trying his hardest now.

    Okay, I'm getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I don't want to believe what I'm beginning to think but it almost seems unavoidable.
    Ooh, I'm curious. What do you think it means?

    I don't know what this means but it sounds ****ing awesome. The deeper this plot goes, the better.
    *tents fingers evilly* Eeeexcellent.

    And just to reassure you folks, now that they're mentioned, both of those characters are totally going to be making an appearance. …Juuuust probably not in the way people would expect.

    And giving the aliens a very advanced-looking civilization complete with their own mission finishes off this excellent chapter on a high note.
    Thank you! I can't wait to get more into the Ixodida's society. There's this huge backstory that they've got, coupled with a pretty intricate caste system. Both of these are basically what the plot is running on.

    And high five for catching the Evangelion references. :D

    We also got to see a lot of important development for Bill and especially Lanette here, which is always welcome. Especially with Lanette, who got a lot of depth in this one chapter alone.
    Yep. And she's definitely getting even more later on in the story as she's slowly coming to be one of the central characters. (Yes, she's not considered one now. Mostly because Bill and Adam are hogging the goddamn spotlight. Tate's probably going to be pulled into this status too, but it depends on where I end up taking future chapters.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ga'Hooleone View Post
    The other ixodida is Tate, the boy Mossdeep Gym twin right?
    Yes indeedy!


    Thanks to everyone who commented so far, especially those of you who put in two cents about the rating. Definitely taking that and all of your other suggestions (and corrections!) into consideration.

    Gonna have to say, though, that for the next week, I'll be buried in schoolwork and won't be able to touch fic much, but don't worry! I'm cooking something up that's extra awesome for Christmas (not to mention more chapters!) so keep an eye on this thread throughout December.

    Why, no, we're not attempting to impress you for the upcoming fanfic awards. What gave you that idea?

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

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  21. #196
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    Side Announcement:
    So I went by Diddy and Kat's advice and got the rating bumped down to PG-15, as approved by the handsome and wonderful bobandbill, and that's the first change that you can see going on around here.

    The second one? Casting call!

    So I want to do something pretty cool for AEM's Christmas special, but in order to do it, I'm going to need voices. I don't really want to share what it is (shut up if you've read my LJ), but I'm hoping it'll be a lot of fun to put together. If you think you can voice one of the characters you've seen so far in this fic (anyone from the Committee to Lanette), record a sample clip of what you think that character sounds like, upload it to an online host (like this or this), and shoot me a PM with a link to it. If it's good, you'll get a set of lines to read off and send back to us, and my awesome sound editor (who if I recall correctly has also agreed to be Bill's voice) will put it all together in one big awesome file that you'll get to hear Christmas Day.

    So far, characters that are definitely taken are basically just Bill and Adam at this point. I know I've got a few other volunteers via LJ that I have to hammer out parts with, but basically, pretty much everything else is fair game.

    So... yeah. If you think it'll be fun, definitely consider giving it a shot. You don't want my sound editor and me to be reading all of the lines because I'm a horrendous voice actress, and he's threatened to do every voice in the script as a manly New Zealander. Or maybe you do. The script is pretty much pure, unadulterated AU crack.

    And one of these days, I will actually post a new chapter instead of a crappy announcement (that is, in all fairness, sort of vital to a future installment, but still).

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

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  22. #197
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    Happy Suicide Awareness Week! (Final exam week)

    YES I AM RESPONDING TO YOUR RESPONSES TO SOMEONE ELSE’S COMMENT.
    I believe a few are these are responses to Diddy’s comments

    And Archie is most likely living on a submarine off the coast of Lilycove.
    Like a true Captain Nemo, Archie!

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    Damn you Juan! Holed up with basement harem whilst the rest of Hoenn goes to hell!
    O.O I never thought about it like that…
    Dang it Juan! I don’t care if you’re cold, that’s no excuse to try and re-populated Hoenn with mini-Juans. If you’re so freezing then don’t set the Gym to below zero!

    So does this mean Lanette would wear the pants in the relationship?
    I think you’ve already established that she does the moment you introduced her into the story.

    This is totally my headcanon. ;D Although I do have to say it gets a little weird with Amanita, who's underage. But, uh, we won't judge. Not at all.
    I can totally see it going like this:

    Amanita: *Glomps Bill* <3 <3 <3 <3
    Bill: *nervous* Err…may I help you?
    Amanita: You’re cute! MARRY MEH!
    Bill: O-O *horrified* Wh-what?? No! I don’t even know you! P-plus, aren’t you a little young??
    Amanita: >_< *puts him in a rather…er…suggestive postion*
    Bill: *POSITIVELY horrified* WHAT ARE YOU DOING????

    And then Lanette walks in. She stares at Bill. He stares back at her. She grabs Amanita off him and then proceeds to pummel him with her lucky blunt object crowbar.

    Bill: Lanette??!! Stop! Why are you attacking me??
    Lanette: HOW DARE YOU TRY TO CORRUPT AN INNOCENT GIRL LIKE THAT! YOU CAN DO POKÉMON ALL YOU WANT IN YOUR SPARE TIME BUT, SO HELP ME, YOU WILL NOT SCREW CHILDREN! NOT ON MY WATCH! SHE ISN’T A RESEARCH PROJECT, DANGIT!
    Bill: No…no that’s not what I-! It’s a misunderstanding! Lanette, please! Why does it seem like life is out to get me?

    Thank you! Also, it's going to be rather fun later on because while everyone else is going to decide on a single name to call her, Bill's probably going to go the route of Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name and just call her a different name each time he refers to her.
    Have him call her Bridget. Especially in front of Lanette. That would be amazing.

        Spoiler:- I guess it boils down to...:
        Spoiler:- ...:


    Also, so flipping agreed about Steven. Actually, I'd like to extend that to a lot of important game characters. I mean, none of the other programmers show up at all, Maxie and Archie get two crappy episodes despite being regional evil masterminds (seriously, wtf), only the Sinnoh Elite Four is shown in its completion in the main series (Kanto E4 eventually shows up, but Agatha is relegated to one of the Chronicles episodes, and poor Lorelei decides she wants to be called Prima for some reason), and Steven? The league champion, and he gets barely an episode. Most of the gym leaders in the Hoenn arc get more attention than he does. The gym leaders. *flail*
    I know how you feel. It didn’t even seem like they TRIED on Steven’s episode either, which only added insult to injury. At least they were nice enough to bring Lance back for a few episodes. They seem to be determined to show the world that the series has the most characters of any media simply by adding on COTD constantly.

    Tl;dr, so much disappointment there.
    Tl;dr,? Sorry, I'm not up to date on all my Internet slang.

    Kat already did a pretty adorable fanart of Veronica's Growlithe and Bill, and I am heavily excited by what other stuff her l33t art skillz pull off.
    KAT. IF YOU CAN SEE THIS, MAKE MORE!!!

    (Most recent example I have is a fic on dA about a girl who was basically Leaf waking up late, getting a Pikachu that's hostile towards her, and working her way to Viridian City where she ends up being entangled in a struggle against Team Rocket in a Pokémon Center. One of the other readers and I started thinking of making a drinking game out of it because it was that predictable.)
    I’d drink to that.

    But yeah, it really is easier to avoid the games' stories and focus on a side character. Then the readers can't really predict what's about to happen in the next chapter unless you make it painfully obvious. So it ends up being heavily delightful.
    OR…you can follow the story of the game but add in tons of wtf moments at random points just to completely screw with people.


    ...And just for this, a Kecleon is going to appear in the main cast eventually.
    Oh Valentine, how you toy with my emotions. (I purposely worded it this way. Because it amuses me so.)

    *gets out my Sapphire version and goes to find that one Kecleon hidden in the middle of the road. Saves game. Battles Kecleon and makes it faint. Restart game without saving. Rinse and repeat 500 times*

    And thanks for reading! I'm really glad you're enjoying yourself, and you've come up with some pretty awesome points that I'm totally not taking as readers suggestions or anything.
    You wouldn’t happen to be referring to the mini-porn story would you?

    Hold that reaction until you start seeing more of him. I've got hilarious plans involving him and Lanette. Hilarious things that may or may not have been inspired by this.
    …I don’t know what I just watched but I APPROVE!

    Because he's a pretty important businessman vital to the economy of the region, he was one of the first to be carted off the island as soon as it was clear that the Ixodida were a threat. Naturally, he had to be dragged out of the region kicking and screaming,
    Oh I'll bet.

    and Steven gave him the ಠ_ಠ face every step of the way
    Oh I'll BET. (How DO you do that emoticon anyways?)

    until he was finally forced to settle in Johto.
    Where he is currently making little models of Rustboro out of toothpicks because he’s much too bored. That, and because the Silph Co. people were too mean to let him play in their building.

    And she's going to get many more. ;D I'm taking name suggestions!
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die

    ON TO THE RECENTLY UPLOADED CHAPTER:
    Hope still lives on (pun intended) but I have a feeling she’s traumatized. Could it be because she witnessed Ixodida wreaking havoc on Hoenn or…could it be that she witnessed a specific someone, transformed into an Ixodida, wreaking havoc on Hoenn?

    Because he was conscious of that, he slowly held out a hand to her, palm out, fingers unfolding gently as he smiled as sweetly as he could at her.
    I don’t know about Hope, but I’d have a hard time resisting kind gestures like this.

        Spoiler:- About this...:
    .

    "Nii-chan desu," he said. "Boku wa Nii-chan desu."
    It’s times like these when I wish I knew Japanese. > < Nii-chan means brother, but that’s all I know in this sentence.

    "Hope! Matte! Matte!"
    I’m assuming that means “wait”?

    "It's trainer-grade clothing.
    Oh good. The stuff that can last volcanoes, deep-sea diving, below 20 degree blizzards, and M1 Abrams. I always thought the clothes you wore in the games were pretty sturdy considering that you don’t come out in the end to challenge the Champion naked.

    Lanette interrupted. "And no, it doesn't have anything to do with the answer to your question. I just find it difficult to take you seriously while you're naked."
    1.I’m glad that Bill being naked has nothing to do with why Hope is here.
    2.Does this mean you find a naked Bill distracting, Lanette?
    3.Funny how it takes you so long to get him some durable clothes that won’t break apart at practically the next second, Jx. It’s almost as if you enjoyed torturing the poor man while he was exposed. Or enjoyed giving Lanette something to look forward to when she wakes up each and every day.

    scarf wound around neck, hat shoved onto head.
    A scarf and hat. Now that’s got me thinking about the Platinum character design

    Once again, he found her staring at him as if she was memorizing every inch of him at once.
    *chuckles* You’re doing it wrong, Lanette. You’re suppose to memorize every inch of them with their clothes OFF.

    There are humans in your party that you should trust far less than me.
        Spoiler:- Nooo...don't tell me...:


    Adam paused. Its eyes moved away from Lanette and to a point on the wall beside her head. She kneed it as hard as she could between the legs, her thigh slamming against what she found to be only metal plating. Either because of that or because of Adam's distraction, the creature refused to react, opting instead on staring at a point on the wall.

    "Bill, do you feel that?"
    Take this line out of context and it's hilarious. :-D

    the one that, a long time ago, would sigh and help him unwrap himself from a caterpie's String Shot or administer a paralyz heal after he managed to expose himself to a shroomish's Stun Spore.
    I want to know these stories lol.
    "Dead," he whispered. "They're all… the Caravan… Lanette, I…"
    Population control, Jx?

    Hoennian: n. (noun) an extinct race of people who once lived on a series of islands before they were completely wiped out by someone called Jx Valentine a Pokémon race known as the Ixodida.

    Wait, is Ellen dead too?

    He began climbing down the pile of rubble casually, as if it was a set of stairs
    YES. This is so win. This is so Wallace.

    "If I remember correctly," he announced, "they call you Pandora, Lady of Frost."

    "And they call you Prometheus, Lord of Flames," she responded curtly.
    Two interconnected mythological names. I see what you did there, Jx.

    "It is Ereshkigal."
        Spoiler:- Oh...:
    Last edited by AbsolXWolf; 4th December 2011 at 5:44 AM.
    Fanfiction:
    The Twisted Child of Johto

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

    Official from Oscars Thread ^

    png image hosting
    I made this ^

  23. #198
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolXWolf View Post
    Happy Suicide Awareness Week! (Final exam week)
    Inorite? x_x In the past week, I've written probably over twenty-five pages of analysis. Which isn't too bad until you consider these were research papers I should have been doing over a period twice as long.

    But we'll get through it! It's December, which means there's a light at the end of the tunnel!

    Like a true Captain Nemo, Archie!
    Pretty much. ;D

    O.O I never thought about it like that…
    Dang it Juan! I don’t care if you’re cold, that’s no excuse to try and re-populated Hoenn with mini-Juans. If you’re so freezing then don’t set the Gym to below zero!
    Yeah, I can't really imagine what the act must feel like in freezing temperatures. All I can think of is what happens when you try to lick a frozen metal pole. (You're welcome!)

    I think you’ve already established that she does the moment you introduced her into the story.
    Okay, fair point there. XD

    And headcanon says she always wore the pants on some level -- like, besides her sister, she's the most mature, level-headed member of the programmer group. Bill, meanwhile, was the Cloudcuckoolander she tried desperately to keep from killing himself, usually either due to suggestions prompted to him by Bebe (the group's resident bottle fairy) or due to his overenthusiasm for his work.

    I can totally see it going like this:

    Amanita: *Glomps Bill* <3 <3 <3 <3
    Bill: *nervous* Err…may I help you?
    Amanita: You’re cute! MARRY MEH!
    Bill: O-O *horrified* Wh-what?? No! I don’t even know you! P-plus, aren’t you a little young??
    Amanita: >_< *puts him in a rather…er…suggestive postion*
    Bill: *POSITIVELY horrified* WHAT ARE YOU DOING????

    And then Lanette walks in. She stares at Bill. He stares back at her. She grabs Amanita off him and then proceeds to pummel him with her lucky blunt object crowbar.

    Bill: Lanette??!! Stop! Why are you attacking me??
    Lanette: HOW DARE YOU TRY TO CORRUPT AN INNOCENT GIRL LIKE THAT! YOU CAN DO POKÉMON ALL YOU WANT IN YOUR SPARE TIME BUT, SO HELP ME, YOU WILL NOT SCREW CHILDREN! NOT ON MY WATCH! SHE ISN’T A RESEARCH PROJECT, DANGIT!
    Bill: No…no that’s not what I-! It’s a misunderstanding! Lanette, please! Why does it seem like life is out to get me?
    Haha, and then Fennel comes in and joins Lanette in beating the crap out of Bill (because my headcanon says Fennel is somewhat of an overprotective big sister towards Amanita).

    Have him call her Bridget. Especially in front of Lanette. That would be amazing.
    Will do! o>

        Spoiler:- ...:
        Spoiler:- ;D:


    I know how you feel. It didn’t even seem like they TRIED on Steven’s episode either, which only added insult to injury.
    Pretty much. "Let's go wander around in this cave and establish that this random canon character who's making a cameo wants to preserve the Aron's environment BUT OOPS HE USES HYPER BEAM TO SEND TEAM ROCKET FLYING BECAUSE WE NEED TO ESTABLISH THAT HE'S STRONG WHILE CONTINUING THE RUNNING GAG! WHO NEEDS CONSISTENCY? "

    Y'know, I really, really like the anime at points, but everything from Johto to maybe the middle of Hoenn just sucked on so many levels for things like this. :/

    They seem to be determined to show the world that the series has the most characters of any media simply by adding on COTD constantly.
    Pretty much. It's seriously ridiculous, and most of them are redundant, generic trainers of the Pokémon of the day with the exact same problems as the trainer an episode ago. Or they feature random canon characters no one even cares about in ways that give them more personality and development than the ones that would logically be more important to the regional plot. (I like Duplica, but why was it considered a good idea to give Copycat more screen time than the Elite Four? Moreover, what was the point of her Johto episode?)

    Tl;dr,? Sorry, I'm not up to date on all my Internet slang.
    Too long; didn't read. I usually use it to say "too long; didn't read version," which means "short version of the passage people would skip over due to length. XD

    KAT. IF YOU CAN SEE THIS, MAKE MORE!!!
    Inorite? ;D

    I’d drink to that.
    As you probably should. It was pretty terrible. And hilarious. Like, quite literally at one point in the conversation, I hadn't read the latest chapter, and I jokingly made a prediction for how it was going to go. Turns out I was right on all counts and managed to summarize the chapter completely without having even touched it.

    Kids, if your readers can do that, you fail at storytelling. That's all I have to say.

    OR…you can follow the story of the game but add in tons of wtf moments at random points just to completely screw with people.
    *nods* This could work too, especially if the game part of it is delivered subtly – as in, if the original bits of the story take precedence over the game bits, if that makes sense.

    I dunno. I guess on a level I just have a thing against straight-up game novelizations. I've read so many of them that I just find it to be a turn-off if I know what happens next, so I like it when a journey fic follows the games' storyline as a skeleton at most but adds a lot of plot on top of that – or if they bring something new to the table while talking about the game storyline. (The only fic I've read that's successfully done the latter without being an outright comedy was Farla's Lucki, truth be told. Her fic followed the games pretty closely, but it did so to make us think about what was going on in them in an entirely new light.)

    Oh Valentine, how you toy with my emotions. (I purposely worded it this way. Because it amuses me so.)
    ;D Which means mission accomplished in my books.

    You wouldn’t happen to be referring to the mini-porn story would you?
    *whistles innocently*

    …I don’t know what I just watched but I APPROVE!
    Japanese-grade crack. ;D And awesome! Because love triangles are fun.

    (How DO you do that emoticon anyways?)
    Copy and paste. I look it up via Google using "disapproval smiley," and I get that. I know there's an easier way involving punching in a series of numbers while you hold down the ALT key (because there's always an alternative like that), but… eh.

    Where he is currently making little models of Rustboro out of toothpicks because he’s much too bored. That, and because the Silph Co. people were too mean to let him play in their building.
    Pretty much. XD Especially after he may or may not have dismantled one of their prototypes to "help improve it."

    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die
    And that is now a reader suggestion.

    Hope still lives on (pun intended) but I have a feeling she’s traumatized.
    Oh yeah. Massively so.

    As to how that happened, that'll be brought up later, but I will say one of those things you mentioned is completely true.

    I don’t know about Hope, but I’d have a hard time resisting kind gestures like this.

        Spoiler:- About this...:
    .
        Spoiler:- In response!:


    It’s times like these when I wish I knew Japanese. > < Nii-chan means brother, but that’s all I know in this sentence.

    I’m assuming that means “wait”?
    I did forget to add in translations, didn't I? XD

    You're right in saying "nii-chan" means brother (specifically, a casual term for older brother). Bill's using it as a nickname for himself because his sisters probably did out of affection. "Desu" roughly means "is," so "Nii-chan desu" means "I am (your) older brother" or "I am Nii-chan/Big Brother."

    "Boku wa" means "I am" (more specifically, "boku" is a male pronoun referring to oneself, whereas "wa" links the subject to the verb) but it's usually only included in a statement for emphasis because Japanese tends to leave pronouns to implication. So, when Bill says "Boku wa Nii-chan desu," he's just repeating himself with an emphasis.

    You're completely right about "matte." It just means "wait."

    (And I probably still murdered the language, so if anyone knows Japanese a bit better, feel free to correct me here.)

    Oh good. The stuff that can last volcanoes, deep-sea diving, below 20 degree blizzards, and M1 Abrams. I always thought the clothes you wore in the games were pretty sturdy considering that you don’t come out in the end to challenge the Champion naked.
    Exactly. XD And it's always interesting to note that Ash and friends may be electrocuted by Pikachu or some other electric rodent on a daily basis, but the one thing about them that comes out relatively unscathed is their clothing. It's totally got to be made of some kind of Pokémon hair.

    1.I’m glad that Bill being naked has nothing to do with why Hope is here.
    XD Inorite? Bill may be creepy, but luckily, he hasn't reached those levels of creepy.

    2.Does this mean you find a naked Bill distracting, Lanette?
    Absolutely, but she'll never admit it.

    3.Funny how it takes you so long to get him some durable clothes that won’t break apart at practically the next second, Jx. It’s almost as if you enjoyed torturing the poor man while he was exposed. Or enjoyed giving Lanette something to look forward to when she wakes up each and every day.
    *whistles innocently and casually covers up the parts where she notes she's thoroughly thought about certain parts of Bill's anatomy*

    A scarf and hat. Now that’s got me thinking about the Platinum character design
    Tempted to say that's his outfit now. Except I already described it in detail.

    I will say, though, that he totally stole his scarf from DP!Lucas and his hat from Lucas in general.

    *chuckles* You’re doing it wrong, Lanette. You’re suppose to memorize every inch of them with their clothes OFF.
    MAYBE SHE HAS X-RAY VISION. :V

        Spoiler:- Nooo...don't tell me...:
        Spoiler:- Oh no.:


    Take this line out of context and it's hilarious. :-D
    November seems to have been the month for me to do those kinds of things unintentionally, and I don't know why. XD

    I want to know these stories lol.
    They were hilarious stories that Bill hopes no one will ever remember. *nod*

    Population control, Jx?
    *whistles innocently*

    Wait, is Ellen dead too?
    Nope! Pretty much every named character in Mauville City who hasn't had an on-screen death is still alive.

    Except Julie.

    Sorry!

    YES. This is so win. This is so Wallace.
    Thank you! I'm really having fun working with both him and Steven, just because they're the first completely, off-the-charts badasses included in the fic who aren't on some level original characters (like John and in a way Lanette).

    Two interconnected mythological names. I see what you did there, Jx.


        Spoiler:- Oh...:
        Spoiler:- Oh yes.:

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

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  24. #199
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    Inorite? x_x In the past week, I've written probably over twenty-five pages of analysis. Which isn't too bad until you consider these were research papers I should have been doing over a period twice as long.

    But we'll get through it! It's December, which means there's a light at the end of the tunnel!
    Hopefully all the work is behind you, but if it’s not, I hope you break a leg with it! Or a nail! (Bad luck to say good luck, you know)

    I recently finished my exams, so I’ll hopefully have some more time to spend reviewing (if my family doesn’t decide they want to hog me for themselves that is)

    Yeah, I can't really imagine what the act must feel like in freezing temperatures. All I can think of is what happens when you try to lick a frozen metal pole. (You're welcome!)
    UGH!!! THE IMAGE!! IT BUUUURRRNS!! *angrily stares at Jx while scrubbing brain with mental soap*

    Bill, meanwhile, was the Cloudcuckoolander she tried desperately to keep from killing himself, usually either due to suggestions prompted to him by Bebe (the group's resident bottle fairy) or due to his overenthusiasm for his work.
    Not surprised in the least.

    Haha, and then Fennel comes in and joins Lanette in beating the crap out of Bill (because my headcanon says Fennel is somewhat of an overprotective big sister towards Amanita).
        Spoiler:- CAUTION: EXTRA LONG CRACK STORY:


    Pretty much. "Let's go wander around in this cave and establish that this random canon character who's making a cameo wants to preserve the Aron's environment BUT OOPS HE USES HYPER BEAM TO SEND TEAM ROCKET FLYING BECAUSE WE NEED TO ESTABLISH THAT HE'S STRONG WHILE CONTINUING THE RUNNING GAG! WHO NEEDS CONSISTENCY? "
    See? Why watch the episode when I can just read your all too accurate summary?

    Y'know, I really, really like the anime at points, but everything from Johto to maybe the middle of Hoenn just sucked on so many levels for things like this. :/
    One good thing about Johto: Morty. I felt they did a decent job with him while sticking some background info on Ecruteak legend. Of course, I’m a big ghost fan so I could just be biased, but they seemed to completely glaze over most of the other Gym Leaders. I’d like to think that they didn’t put Will or Karen in the Anime because it technically hasn’t been 3 years since Ash left home (gonna age anytime soon, boy?) but I’m probably only fooling myself and the real reason is that they were lazy.

    Pretty much. It's seriously ridiculous, and most of them are redundant, generic trainers of the Pokémon of the day with the exact same problems as the trainer an episode ago. Or they feature random canon characters no one even cares about in ways that give them more personality and development than the ones that would logically be more important to the regional plot. (I like Duplica, but why was it considered a good idea to give Copycat more screen time than the Elite Four? Moreover, what was the point of her Johto episode?)
    They’re going to run out of names eventually. And Duplica appeared in Johto?? I only remember her original Kanto appearance. Maybe they felt like bringing Ditto after they found out it likes to sleep around has an amazing ability in the breeding department.

    *whistles innocently and casually covers up the parts where she notes she's thoroughly thought about certain parts of Bill's anatomy*
    Is there something you’d like to share with the class, Jx?

        Spoiler:- Oh no.:
        Spoiler:- Whew..:


        Spoiler:- Oh yes.:
        Spoiler:- Huh.:
    Last edited by AbsolXWolf; 15th December 2011 at 12:12 PM.
    Fanfiction:
    The Twisted Child of Johto

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

    Official from Oscars Thread ^

    png image hosting
    I made this ^

  25. #200
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    389

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    Excellent job. I missed reviewing for a while so here it is for 22 and 23.

    Chapter 22:

    She chuckled. "You're too cute, but I can tell you're stalling. Fine. I'll humor you. It's Sienna."

    At her last word, she lunged at him, baton swinging for his head. Bill's body flashed with a dim, blue aura as he raised his arm to block her strike. The sound of metal on metal resonated through the courtyard, and while it lingered in the air, he turned in an attempt to repeat his strategy to disarm her. She was ready this time, ducking low before his tail could touch her.

    "Or maybe it's Yolanda!" she shouted.

    Her next move came in the form of a swing at his head once again. He leaned back, allowing the blossom to pass over him harmlessly, but in the process, he noticed it spark with electricity.

    "Or Saffron!"

    She swung again, forcing him to block her with one arm. Once again, the baton banged off his skin, but before she could recover, Bill swung his free arm upwards and quickly channeled his energy into his fingertips. Each one took on a brilliant, white glow just as he slashed at the stem, slicing it in half. He was about to slash at her hand to knock the blossom away when she swung her arms away from him and twirled both ends in her hands.

    "But I think my favorite cover was named…"

    At once, she pointed both ends at him.

    "…Domino!"
    That was a really cool battle scene, but what I really liked was the dialogue. ^^ She’s a woman of many names... XD

    There was a long silence. At the height of it, a boy walked out of the shadows. With each step, a long tail with an arrowhead-tip swayed behind him, and the core on his ankle and the bone-white horns nestled in his pink hair glinted in the moonlight. The rest of his body was dressed in blue and red Chinese-style garments, all of which covered his smooth, pale-pink skin. As he brought his claws to his mouth, he stared at the door with blue-eyed wonder.

    Taking note of his expression, Steven asked, "Tate? What is it?"

    "I don't know," the boy admitted, "but I couldn't read that guy's future."
    Another ixodida? Interesting...

    Lab assistants in Polaris Institute were a lot like vital organs: although one didn't notice his own liver while it remained in full operation, removing it disrupted an entire delicate system.
    Excellent comparison! And interesting to see how Tracey is fitting into all of this...

    I’m jumping on the bandwagon of MUST SEE BILL USE ATTRACT! XD It would be amazing.

    Chapter 23:

    "Very well." Wallace swept a hand towards his pokémon. "Milotic, Dragon Pulse, please."

    The serpent arched its head back, its body pulsing with green energy. Its mouth opened wide to make room for a jade-colored ball formed from wisps of its aura swirling between its jaws. One of Thom's feet slid back as he stood transfixed by the green light, and in front of him, his manectric bowed his head and growled.

    Milotic's head snapped forward, and all of the green energy around it pooled into the ball as it left its mouth. Thom could only stand still, his mind frozen on possible commands, possible counters. At the last second, he flinched, twisting his head and torso away from the attack in preparation of the blast.

    There was a bang and the wind of an aftershock, but there was no pain, no force driving him backwards. Gradually, he opened his eyes and turned back towards Milotic, only to find someone standing between Manectric and the serpent. For a few seconds, Bill stood there, arms crossed in front of his face, feet firmly planted in the cement road. Then, one of his legs bent, and his arms swung to his sides in an attempt to keep his balance.
    Good battle scene there. Definitely caught me by surprise.

    She left him there, gliding away from him on the cold winds she drove. Prometheus watched her until he could no longer see her. Once she was out of sight, he raised a fist, allowing it to burst into a flame the size of his own head. Opening his hand, he pulled the fire into a ball of light before pitching it into the icy lake. It crashed, sending shards of ice flying into the air as he turned and walked back into the forest.

    And with every step he made, the grass he touched burst caught ablaze.
    Wow. That was cool. ^^ Great conclusion to the chapter!

    Interesting how Hope was only speaking Japanese...should be cool to see what exactly happened.

    No errors grammar-wise as usual. Great character and plot development too. Keep up the good work!
    I'm back for good!

    Greetings from the asylum of my insanity.
    Chapter 3 and cooler banner coming eventually. :P I am still working on it despite a very long lack of updates!

    Dex: 128 created! ~ DA and LJ links coming later.

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