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  #51    
Old April 6th, 2009 (11:51 AM).
Incinermyn's Avatar
Incinermyn
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Yeah, wish I could stick to a schedule like you when it comes to updating. Used to be once a month at the least, now I'm lucky if I can meet that.

Still, best chapter yet by far, Xanthine! Actually, your story kind of inspired an alien fakemon of my own. And, NO! It's nothing like your parasites, but this story did get me thinking about my own stuff.
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  #52    
Old April 6th, 2009 (04:54 PM).
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JX Valentine
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Quote originally posted by Skunter:
Yeah, wish I could stick to a schedule like you when it comes to updating. Used to be once a month at the least, now I'm lucky if I can meet that.
Exactly. Oh, real life. Why must you flood people with things to do away from our srs beans fanfics?

Quote:
Still, best chapter yet by far, Xanthine!
Thanks. =D I was a bit uncertain about this one because it wasn't as detailed as my usual work (because, uh, I totally didn't write it completely in class), but I'm glad it actually worked.

Quote:
Actually, your story kind of inspired an alien fakemon of my own. And, NO! It's nothing like your parasites, but this story did get me thinking about my own stuff.
Ooh. If it's not already in your fic (which I've yet to find time to read, unfortunately -- sorry), I can't wait to see what you've come up with. Yay for aliens!
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  #53    
Old April 6th, 2009 (05:24 PM).
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cookie_lovr
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I like this! The story is very suspenseful, and it is so exciting at the same time. Good work!
  #54    
Old April 7th, 2009 (08:43 AM).
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JX Valentine
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Quote originally posted by cookie_lovr:
I like this! The story is very suspenseful, and it is so exciting at the same time. Good work!
Thanks very much for the response. I'm glad you liked it.
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  #55    
Old April 15th, 2009 (09:03 PM). Edited June 30th, 2009 by JX Valentine.
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Nine
(All I see is an unfamiliar ceiling.)

The jungle air felt heavy around him. Tall, red plants brushed against his shoulders, their stiff blades parting to make way for his body. He walked across the field with purpose, his feet pressing into the moist earth of the road as his eyes fixed on the glow of a city. For the umpteenth time, he adjusted the strap of a satchel on his shoulder. He knew he had only a few more hours before he found shelter at last.

A whistle sounded above him. Instinctively, he looked up at the red sky. Normally, it would have nothing but the brilliant sun and the emerald moon in it, but now, there were black stars – hundreds of them scattered across the red expanse above him.

Green light shone from each black star until the planet was engulfed in its glow.

A second later, the ground exploded.

---

Bill jolted and opened his eyes, but he knew he wasn't awake. He turned his head, watching green curls spill across his eyes as he stared towards the open window. For a moment, he watched as white curtains softly rustled in the warm breeze. His body felt heavy as he struggled to move, so all he succeeded in doing was lift his hands.

The movement caught the attention of the room's other occupant, who was soon staring down at Bill with an expressionless face. It took a moment for Bill to finally turn to glance at the parasite.

That dream, he thought. I was…

It nodded in response. "You were remembering something."

What?

The parasite closed its eyes. "Something ancient."

Its fingers reached down to caress Bill's stomach. Instantly, a sharp, stabbing pain radiated from the spot. He couldn't scream, but his mouth fell open in a silent gasp as he felt his skin prickle and warm.

"Burns," the parasite said with a sigh. "I ask you to carry us, and you carry us directly into danger. Perhaps I should reconsider having you as my host."

Tears formed in Bill's eyes as the parasite touched the other places where fire had hit him. Each one began to feel warm, as if hundreds of hot needles were piercing his flesh.

What are you doing? he asked.

The parasite narrowed its eyes. "You might as well know. When my kind fuses with yours, we grant you numerous powers to keep you alive. On our own, our parasite forms can lay fertile eggs, but those only hatch into other parasites. In order to rebuild our species, we need you to breed and produce eggs that will hatch into our true forms."

Your true forms…

"Did you think we all are tiny insects?" the parasite asked with a smile. "Those are simply our cores – storage centers for our memories, our thoughts, and our genetic codes. They are our second brains, only body parts in the same way your arm is not your complete you."

Bill glanced at his arm. He forced himself to lift it just enough to bring it into view. To his surprise, he watched as a burn – one the parasite had already touched – slowly shrank into healthy skin and tissue.

What…?

The parasite sat on the edge of the bed and propped its chin with a palm. "Rapid regeneration and healing. It is one of the many gifts we give our hosts."

Bill rested his arm across his chest as he stared at the ceiling in thought. Flight… healing…

"Overwhelming, isn't it?" the parasite replied. "All of these blessings and more that you have yet to find. Anything to keep you alive. My race is extinct otherwise."

Extinct?

It nodded. "That memory you experienced. That was the last moment of our planet before it was destroyed."

For a long moment, Bill turned the words over in his mind again and tried to recall the memory. Already, it was fading from him like an old dream. The parasite stood and began walking towards the window, and the further it got, the more Bill felt as if he was falling asleep again.

Wait, he thought.

It looked over its shoulder. "Hmm?"

What do I call you?

The creature smiled. "Your kind gave me a name. Do you recall what those soldiers called the two of us before we were sent here?"

Bill furrowed his eyebrows as he struggled to remember. Adam?

"My kind does not normally name its people," it said, "but that name… I think I will take."

Bill closed his eyes and felt his mind drift away. Adam… humans have stories about him. He's the first man.

Adam grinned. "So he is."

---

For a second time, Bill awoke. Once again, he found himself on a bed, staring at a ceiling. He shifted, feeling the soft mattress. His eyes closed, and he inhaled. It was the first time in a long time he felt genuinely comfortable.

Then, something jumped on the bed. Opening his eyes, he found himself staring at the face of a squirtle. At once, he drew in a startled breath as he tried to sit up, but before he could fully get up, he felt something stiff jam itself into his back. Pain radiated from his shoulder blades as he reached back and pulled the smooth object to the side. With one eye open, he glanced at it to find two silver blades.

My wings, he thought. Adam…

Inside him, Adam stirred. Just think about retracting them, and they will obey.

Lying back, he closed his eyes briefly and concentrated on the image of his wings disappearing. A pressure radiated from his back as he felt the blades draw themselves into two points near his shoulders. With what felt like a pinch, his wings disappeared, and all he felt beneath him was the mattress.

A sigh escaped his throat as he carefully sat up and glanced at the squirtle again. It tilted its head as it held up a small, silver thermos. Blinking, Bill accepted the thermos and stared at it for a moment.

"Thank you," he murmured.

Then, he twisted off the cap. Immediately, the scent of blood flooded his nose, and he flinched in disgust. At the same time, his stomach growled, and his body felt weak. Slowly, he turned back to it.

"All right," he hissed at himself.

He took a sip, feeling the blood slide down his throat and warm him from the inside. Within him, he could swear he saw Adam relax like a cat, curling around his mind with an internal purr. A wave of relief washed over Bill. He felt as if for the first time, the thing that shared his body with him would leave him alone, even for a moment.

Taking another sip, he glanced to the rest of the room. The bed was covered with a pastel-colored quilt, and that was only the beginning of how quaint the rest of the room was. A warm breeze filtered through the windows across the way, and the white curtains swayed with each zephyr. Shelves were built into the pale blue walls, and atop them were leather-bound books.

Then, he finally noticed he wasn't alone in the room. Beside him, in a wooden chair, sat Rose. He jumped, startled to see her without Veronica. She stared back at him with wide eyes and a small smile on her face. Squirtle jumped into her lap, and she wrapped her arms around it like a doll.

Bill blinked and took another sip. "Rosie, you surprised me. Are you all right?"

She nodded. That same smile remained on her face.

At that point, he began to feel slightly uncomfortable. "Where are we? Where's Veronica?"

Rose pursed her lips and lowered her eyes to her squirtle for a moment. Then, she turned her head to glance towards the door.

"Out there?" Bill replied.

She nodded and turned back to him. The shy smile returned once more. By then, Bill had to glance at her oddly.

"You're smiling," he finally said. "Is it because you're used to me now?"

For a moment, Rose looked down at her squirtle. She pursed her lips one more time before looking back to her brother as he took another sip. A broad smile crossed her face as she opened her mouth and spoke.

"Your wings make you look like a fairy."

Bill nearly choked on his drink in response.

---

The cottage sat beyond the canyons, nestled against a rock wall on a slope of grass. Forest stretched to the northwest, and to the south, there was desert. In the middle, just where the foothills stretched between the desert and the forest, Veronica found the cottage empty. The old woman who once lived there was completely gone, save for a hand in the front yard that the officer quickly buried before Rose could see it.

For the past several days, she had been hunting in the forests. With her growlithe by her side, she tracked down and slaughtered any wild pokémon she came across. Part of her felt guilt over what she was doing, if only because it was a crime to kill pokémon. Still, she knew if she didn't, her companion would die, and she and the girl would be as good as dead or infected.

At that point, she approached the cottage with a machop under one arm. The machop was already dead, its throat ripped open thanks to Veronica's growlithe. It was just a matter of taking it back to the cottage to drain its blood and figure out what to do with the rest at that point.

When Veronica reached the door, a cool breeze blew across the back of her neck, carrying with it the sound of a rustle. She stopped, glancing over her shoulder towards its source as her growlithe crouched low to the ground and began to growl. Narrowing her eyes, Veronica stared towards the trees near the cottage, but nothing out of the ordinary appeared. Shrugging, she opened the door and slipped inside, followed close by her dog.

With a sigh, she walked briskly from the empty foyer to the kitchen on the right. Carefully, she placed the carcass of the machop on the blue-tiled countertop, right next to the old stains from the day before then. Ignoring the splotches, she began to open the cabinets in search of bowls or cups – anything to catch the blood.

Behind her, Growlithe barked. She turned and found the dog with his fore paws on Rose's legs as she stood in the doorway. The girl smiled and bent down to pet the police dog on the head. With her own smile, Veronica turned from the cabinet with a bowl in hand.

"You look cheerful today," she commented. "What is it?"

Rose straightened and smiled at Veronica. "Nii-san is awake."

"You're talking now? That's good," the officer said with a blink. "Nii-san? You mean Bill?"

She nodded.

Veronica turned away and opened a drawer in search of a knife. "Good. Maybe we'll be able to get to Fallarbor once he's back on his feet." She paused, drawing a long knife from the depths of the drawer. "Go into the other room and keep him company, Rose. Tell him another cup's coming his way soon."

"That won't be necessary."

At the sound of the new voice, Veronica looked up to find Bill standing behind Rose. Slipping the knife back into the drawer, Veronica glanced at Rose.

"Why don't you go into the other room anyway?" she asked. "Go play with Numel and Squirtle for awhile. Bill's got to take care of this."

The girl nodded and moved past her brother and out the door. Bill watched her leave for a moment before stepping into the room.

"She's talking now," Bill murmured.

Veronica nodded. "Yeah. She calls you 'Nii-san.'" She motioned to the carcass. "Lunch?"

He smiled. "Yes. It means 'older brother.' Our mother taught it to her." Then, he hesitated as the question sunk into his head. "Lunch?"

"Mmhmm." Veronica motioned again to the carcass. "You really should feed. We're not that far away from Fallarbor, but it's not an easy journey, either."

She backed away from the counter to let him see the carcass. At once, his eyes widened when he realized what she was asking him to do. Then, he turned away.

"No, thank you," he said quietly. "I'm not hungry."

A frown crossed her face as she walked forward and blocked his way to the door. Her hands gripped both sides of the doorframe as he stopped short, drew in a breath, and turned. His movements, unfortunately, were a little too quick, and in the next instant, his back hit the refrigerator behind him with a bang as his vision swam. Closing his eyes, he reached up to hold his head. Veronica took notice at once and narrowed her eyes.

"You haven't even recovered all the way," she said. "You need this. You know you do."

He shook his head. "No, I'm all right. I just need a moment."

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Sure you do. And I can breathe underwater. Listen, you'd better go over there and drink, or I'm going to pin you down and force that body on you."

Bill drew his hand away from his head and glared at Veronica. "Would you not put it that way? Rosie can hear you."

"Get your mind out of the gutter. She's eleven."

For a long moment, the two stared at each other with hard glares in a silent battle of wills. After a few moments, it was Veronica who won as Bill sighed and turned away. He walked quietly to the counter and stared at the body for a moment before glancing back at Veronica. She raised her eyebrows and nodded towards him.

"I'd rather you didn't watch," Bill said. "Could you…"

"No, I can't," Veronica replied. "If you're going to be a baby about this—"

Bill straightened. "I beg your pardon?"

Veronica smirked. "You heard me."

In response, he raised an eyebrow. "You're being rather forward today."

"Well, you deserve it," Veronica replied with a shrug. "Look, we need you fully recovered if we're going to start for Fallarbor anytime soon. We're not that far from it. We just need to head west from here, past the ash fields. But even if it's not far, it's not going to be easy. From here, the entire place is covered in ash from Mt. Chimney, and there's no alternate route. We could be ambushed at any time by anything, so we need all of our pokémon in fighting condition."

Bill frowned slightly at the thought of being called a pokémon. As a human, he would have taken it as a compliment, but now that he was stuck as he was, the term seemed less appealing. Still, he couldn't argue against it. Instead, what made his hands curl on the counter were the last three words Veronica had said.

"Fighting… you want me to fight?" he whispered.

"Um… yeah?" Veronica raised an eyebrow. "You are an ixodida. You've got powers, don't you? You're just as good a defense as the other pokémon are. Probably even better than my gun at this point."

A cold, uncomfortable feeling settled in Bill as he looked away. "Veronica… I can't actually fight."

After a beat of hesitation, she furrowed her eyebrows. "What? What do you mean? I saw you in Mau—"

"That wasn't me." Bill sighed. "Do you recall how I said I can hear the parasite inside me? Occasionally, it takes control. That… that was one of those times."

Veronica stiffened. "You mean, when you went completely insane and tried to maul that other ixodida…"

He nodded. "That wasn't actually me."

"****."

Bill looked up, giving Veronica a forced smile. "I know."

Veronica's arms loosened. "So… you're basically useless unless that thing is in control of you?"

At that, Bill raised an eyebrow. "I find it ironic that I tell you I have a homicidal second personality in a body well-equipped for lethal damage, and the thing you're more concerned about is the fact that I can't fight unless it's dominant." Then, after a beat of pause, he added, "No, I don't know how to access any of its attacks."

She shrugged. "Well, you – or, well, that thing – never hurt Rose or me."

"It never had a chance," Bill said with a shake of his head. "What makes you think that if left unchecked, it couldn't attack you as well?"

"Growlithe and Numel." Veronica shrugged again.

Bill tilted his head. "How do you know they'll be able to protect you from me?"

"You're a steel-type."

With that, Veronica pulled away from the door and walked forward. Before Bill could realize what she was trying to do, she grabbed him by the arms and forced him to turn. When his back pressed against the counter, one of her hands drifted towards his stomach.

"We found you with burns on your—"

She paused and rested a hand where the armor had been melted over Bill's stomach. What she found instead was smooth plating, fully repaired as if nothing had happened. He looked down.

"Huh," she said. "It's gone."

Bill nodded. "It's… ah… it's apparently one of the powers the parasite has."

Veronica looked up, into Bill's face. He stared back as he felt the skin of his face grow hot in a blush. She raised her eyebrows and smiled as her hand trailed up his body to his shoulder. Biting her lip, she leaned in, pressing herself against him.

"You're… you're awfully close," Bill whispered.

"Mmm." Veronica grinned. "Am I making you uncomfortable?"

Bill swallowed hard and closed his mouth. He found he couldn't push himself to speak. Instead, he shook his head.

Veronica nodded. "Good."

And then, she grabbed one of his arms, pulled back, and swung Bill around until he slammed into the wall on the opposite side of the kitchen. He winced and slid to the floor, and once he hit the tiles, he opened an eye painfully and glanced towards Veronica. Calmly, she stood with her hands on her hips.

"See, that's why I'm confident we'll have no problem keeping you in check," she said. "Parasite or not, I can take you."

Then, she picked up the machop carcass, walked over, and dropped it onto his lap.

"Drink up, or the next place you're going is in the ceiling," she said.

He could only stare blankly at her for a long moment. Then, without taking his eyes off her or changing his shocked expression, he lifted the carcass and bit into its neck.

---

In the middle of the forest, all was quiet. The only sign of life, other than an occasional flash of red across the forest floor, was a shadowed figure sitting in the black branches of a tree. A faint glow from the screen of a laptop illuminated her pale face, and her purple eyes fixed on one of its windows as an image within it waited for her words.

"Adam hasn't moved for a week," she said. "He's still in that house on Route 111."

On the other end of the connection, Nettle frowned. "Yes, the tracking device could have told me that. Are you ready?"

"Almost," the grunt replied. "I just need to test it."

"Test it on Adam," Nettle hissed.

Although the subordinate wanted to cringe, she managed to keep her composure and nod instead. "Yes, ma'am." Then, after a short pause, she added, "Ma'am, if I may ask, why am I reporting to you instead of an officer or the boss?"

Nettle closed her eyes on the screen. "Adam was assigned to me by our leader as my personal project, and I would find it more productive if you didn't question my authority."

The grunt nodded again. "Yes, ma'am."

"Be ready and attack tomorrow evening," Nettle added. "Report to me only after you've gotten the results."

Before the grunt could respond, the window went blank as Nettle cut off the call. The Rocket frowned and turned her head to glance at the hulking shadow beside the tree.

"Well," she muttered, "tomorrow's our big day."
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  #56    
Old April 15th, 2009 (09:35 PM). Edited April 16th, 2009 by Ninja Caterpie.
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Ninja Caterpie
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Whoa! Nice! It's really nice to see another chapter...it's really interesting. =P

Hey, I just realised you got a name change. :O
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  #57    
Old April 16th, 2009 (08:39 AM).
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Incinermyn
I ain't no Robin Hood, boys! :P
 
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Whoa, this chapter kind of scared me for some reason...and more so than how the rest of the fic had been. Awesome! Keep it up, Valentine!
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Old April 16th, 2009 (11:06 AM).
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JX Valentine
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Quote originally posted by Ninja Caterpie:
WhoA! Nice! It's really nice to see another chapter...it's really interesting. =P
Thanks kindly. I'm glad you liked it.

Quote:
Hey, I just realised you got a name change. :O
Yeah, it's something I sort of did quietly. I just got tired of going around with a name that's a chemical that breaks down into uric acid. XD (It's also the name of the family that includes caffeine, but... yeah. uric acid. Which converts to urine. Which then made my title heavily juvenile but a nice, subtle little joke.)

Quote originally posted by Skunter:
Whoa, this chapter kind of scared me for some reason...and more so than how the rest of the fic had been.
XD Then I've done my job. *salutes* Seriously, it's awesome to hear it's getting that kind of response. Thanks so much for the review.
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  #59    
Old April 16th, 2009 (01:19 PM).
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Feign
Clain
 
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Was going to reply earlier, but the server here keeps acting weird.

Anyway, even from the first line did it catch my eye, I really like the way you not only introduced it but wrote it out thus far.

Great job! I like the darker themes myself
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  #60    
Old April 16th, 2009 (04:30 PM).
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JX Valentine
Your aquatic overlord
 
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Location: Harassing Bill
Age: 27
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Quote originally posted by Feign:
Anyway, even from the first line did it catch my eye, I really like the way you not only introduced it but wrote it out thus far.

Great job! :) I like the darker themes myself >:)
Thanks. I'm glad you liked it. And yeah, dark fic's awesome. (At least, if it's done well. Oh, Pokémon MASTER. You are so unintentionally hilarious.)
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  #61    
Old April 17th, 2009 (06:50 PM). Edited August 13th, 2009 by Avey.
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Avey
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At twelve tonight, I told myself I'd reread over the prologue and maybe chapter one of your latest masterpiece, just so I'd remember what was happening when I read on from chapter two tomorrow. Right now it's twenty-five to four in the morning and I'm replying to your thread after reading all you've written so far. I don't think anyone would be surprised by that though.

Anima Ex Machina is (to put it simply) amazing. Every line makes you want to read more, the characters are all believable and their personalities are great. No one could possibly predict where the storyline is going to go next, and that's what I love about this the most. I have to agree with Ryan, I assumed Bill was going to die when he was infected, but to turn into a new Pokémon? That's unexpected, but in a good way. Genius, even. Very gripping, as well. And the developments that have taken place! Finding out Nettle worked for the Rockets took me by complete surprise, and the cliffhanger you've left us with involving the McKenzies and Oak leaves me wanting more, so much. Oh, and it's pretty damn awesome to see how much torture one can make Bill undergo.

That said, there is one thing I have to comment on:

Quote:
In turn, that controversy planted doubt in the minds of Project Stardust's primary benefactor: the Japanese government and the officials who sat on the board that oversaw the research efforts. Many of them would have rejected him as being far too inexperienced to handle teamwork on a major project (based, of course, on the opinions of a number of members of the Symposium), but luckily, he had at least one very reliable backer.
I noticed that you referenced the Japanese government in chapter one. I appreciate that we sometimes differ on aspects of the fandom, but I can't help but wonder if that was a mistake? It's cool and all if you want the real world to be inhabited by Pokémon as well, and you want Kanto, Johto and all the other continents to exist as well, but seeing as you haven't made any guesture to any other nationality in our world, I'm assuming you didn't mean for that to be there.

Apart from that, wow. Just wow. The most entertaining, awesome work I've read in a very, very long time.

One last thing: Tracey + Giovanni + Bill + one fic = awesome automatically.
  #62    
Old April 18th, 2009 (03:39 PM).
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JX Valentine
Your aquatic overlord
 
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It's good to hear I'm also responsible for sleep-deprivation. XD

Seriously, thanks kindly for the review, and I'm glad you like it that much. I'm also amused to hear that I'm breaking predictions, simply because I love it when the audience ends up in that kind of state. (It's an incredibly convenient way to advertise, I think. Screw with the minds of your readers, and of course they'll come back and try to figure out what the hell you're doing.)

And, of course, I'm glad to hear that you think the characters are believable. It's one of those things I was worried about. There's probably over 9000 scraps of scenes that were earlier versions of pretty much every scene in this fic either because I was afraid my OCs would come off as overdramatic or because I didn't like how I portrayed a canon character I don't normally work with, like Oak. The latter's always a bit of a worry for me because I know the characters I'm using (Oak especially) actually have fans out there… some of whom are on my friends list and would probably cry just as much as I would if I canon-raped their favorite characters.

Rambling aside, about this:

Quote:
I noticed that you referenced the Japanese government in chapter one. I appreciate that we sometimes differ on aspects of the fandom, but I can't help but wonder if that was a mistake? It's cool and all if you want the real world to be inhabited by Pokémon as well, and you want Kanto, Johto and all the other continents to exist as well, but seeing as you haven't made any guesture to any other nationality in our world, I'm assuming you didn't mean for that to be there.
It's not actually a mistake. I just haven't managed to find a way to work in more Japanese culture. XD

Basically, the way I envision the pokémon world is that it's essentially a parallel universe to the real world, and Kanto, Johto, and the other regions are just regions of a larger nation – in this case, Japan. (Mostly, I support this idea with the fact that "region" in a real-world sense usually means "part of a place," much in the same way "New England" isn't its own place or even a state and is instead a collection of states in a particular part of the US. On top of that, I figure it's a parallel universe because places like Hollywood and Las Vegas are mentioned in the dubbed anime, and Tokyo kind-of-sort-of-semi-canonically exists.) However, things are a bit more peaceful between humans in this other world for various reasons (one of which involves that war Surge was apparently involved in). Hence, while there's separate cultures, for the most part, the world has recently – as in, within the past half-century or so (longer than many of the current cast of canon characters have been alive, at least) – experienced a cultural mesh where you might have things like the English language or a general standard language being spoken in what's otherwise Japan by people who are Japanese by descent but have Western names.

There's hints of the Japanese culture on top of that that I meant to have imply that this is a Westernized Japan with a few people who are still traditional. For example, Riko is, by descent, actually full-blooded Japanese. Hence, she's described as exotic (because she was, at one point, a kimono girl/geisha-in-training, and she still maintains that kind of beauty and the soft-spoken, heavily polite mannerisms she's picked up in her training), and she's taught her children the Japanese language. This is why Rose calls Bill by the Japanese term "Niisan," rather than the English term "Big Brother"… or, for that matter, his actual/preferred name. (As a side note, Cornelius is British -- probably a British mutt. Something to explain the totally random accents of his children. When I finally introduce him, yep, I'll make a note of it.) Otherwise, most of the reason why no other cultures are mentioned is because the situation is, for the most part, being contained in Japan, and other than Cornelius, there's few cultural outsiders. Hence, the culture you'll most often see is the Westernized sort of Japan as shown in the first season and Hoenn arc of the anime. But those little things the characters keep calling cookies or chocolate will be onigiri. Sorry, but they are.

In other words, yeah, it's not so much a mistake as it is background I completely failed at explaining properly. XD I'll think about ways to fit it in a bit better. I'll probably find a way to tie it in with the Committee because it'd otherwise be random, I think.

Quote:
One last thing: Tracey + Giovanni + Bill + one fic = awesome automatically.
You make it sound like the Holy Trinity. XD

Also, just because of this, I'm probably going to be doing something evil to Tracey. He is, of course, going to live. But the poor guy's practically forgotten in fanfiction nowadays, so…

(But Giovanni's just too badass to have anything happen to him. He just is.)
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  #63    
Old May 12th, 2009 (09:54 PM). Edited June 30th, 2009 by JX Valentine.
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JX Valentine
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Join Date: May 2004
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Ten
(You teach me, and I'll teach you.)

A zigzagoon lifted her head to the sky. Her dark eyes blinked as she sniffed the crisp, afternoon air. Although her ears twitched and strained to listen to her surroundings, she heard nothing but the wind. The forest had been silent since the red things and the monsters had appeared. She had seen many members of her kind die to the strange creatures, but with nowhere else to go, she did her best to survive where she was. At least there was more food for her.

Stopping at the base of a tree, she sniffed at a patch of orange mushrooms. Deeming them to be edible, her sharp claws scraped at the dirt around them. Just before she successfully dug them out of the earth, she stopped. Her ears twitched again; she could have sworn she heard something clicking not far away. With a snort, she moved, prepared to dash deeper into the forest.

Then, a silver hand came down hard on her back.

Bill emerged fully from his hiding spot in the brush beside the tree. He had been waiting for something to come along for the mushrooms for half the afternoon, and now, he stared at his catch as she struggled under his hands.

"I'm truly sorry," he whispered. "Please forgive me."

In response, the zigzagoon lifted her head and whined. Bill flinched, his tail wagging in annoyance. That was the worst part of hunting: the crying. His victims always cried. It almost made him want to release his catch if it wasn't for the hunger he felt.

"Please don't do this," he murmured. "Please. Please be quiet."

His hands tightened around the raccoon, causing her to yelp louder. He knew, however, that he wasn't the one controlling his fingers.

Bill, Adam hissed in his mind. Bite it now.

He closed his eyes and tried to calm himself. Inside, Adam sighed.

You are absolutely useless.

Bill felt himself bend and sink bared teeth into fur and flesh. One last scream blasted from the zigzagoon's throat before she fell silent. Slowly, he opened his eyes to watch his body feed on the limp pokémon on its own. Warm blood flooded his mouth as the creature fell limp, fainted from extreme terror. He closed his eyes again, trying to will himself away, but he couldn't force any part of him to move.

Let me go, he demanded.

Adam's grip tightened on the zigzagoon. Beneath his hands, Bill could feel the raccoon's heart slow.

Not until we finish, Adam replied. You must learn how to drink on your own. You hunt, but you release everything you catch. You will kill us both if you continue to resist.

You're killing it! Bill mentally cried. Let go! Please!

Adam opened his eyes and immediately narrowed them. We have not consumed our fill in days. This forest is bare. We cannot let a drop go wasted, or we will go hungry.

Must we drink all of its blood? Bill asked. Perhaps we can leave some for the zigzagoon to recover.

Adam withdrew and smiled. Perhaps I can teach you the alternative.

Suddenly, a sharp pain laced through Bill's side as Adam released him. He found himself in control of his body again, except for the movement he felt just under the flesh covering his ribs. With a choked cry, he doubled over, pressing his forehead into the earth beside the body of the zigzagoon as his arms wrapped around him. Tears blurred his vision; he felt as if knives were trying to burst from his chest.

Stop, he begged. Please stop!

The pain subsided, but Bill had no time to relax. Before he could recover, Adam forced him onto his hands and knees, bringing his face close to the zigzagoon's limp form.

Drink, Adam snapped.

Bill hesitated for a moment. Then, slowly, he brought his lips to the wound and sucked on it. Blood filled his mouth and warmed him from the inside again. He closed his eyes and placed his hands on the carcass. Although her body was still warm, she didn't breathe, and her heart stopped beating long before Bill finally drained the last drop of blood from her flesh.

After awhile, Bill sat up and licked the remaining redness from his lips. He carefully maneuvered to lean against the tree trunk. The zigzagoon helped stem his appetite for that moment, but he knew it wasn't enough.

That will be all for today, Bill, Adam said.

Are you sure? Bill asked. If we stop now, we'll need to hunt again soon.

Adam smirked. "Are you saying you want to hunt now?"

It stood and began walking away from the zigzagoon carcass. In his horror, Bill realized belatedly that Adam had taken control, and upon that revelation, he frantically pressed his mind onto the parasite's.

What are you doing? Bill demanded. Let me go!

Adam furrowed its eyebrows. "Stop that. I want to talk to you, but you get distracted when I give you control."

I'll listen to you if you let me walk on my own, Bill growled.

"Do I really alarm you that much?" Adam replied with a chuckle. "I was reading your memories recently. You were a scientist, were you not? Your research methods were certainly interesting. I would have thought you would be thrilled to have me show you what being a monster truly feels like."

At that, Bill was shocked into silence for a beat. He felt violated – like every last secret he kept was suddenly out in the open for anyone to see. Even more than that, he listened to the way the parasite drawled as it described his occupation, what he did for a living and would have normally loved. His own voice gained a sarcastic edge as it spat at him. Briefly, it made Bill wonder if it was because the parasite could have grasped better what he struggled for years to understand, and that only led to the realization of how much he didn't know about the creature. It was a foreign mind inside his own body, and it simultaneously piqued his curiosity and incited a crippling sense of terror.

Stay out of my head, he finally drawled.

At that, Adam stopped. A smile drew across his lips.

"'Getting inside its skin helps me get inside its head,'" Adam recited. "You said that once to a child. Do you remember? What if I wished to understand you? Would you not wish to understand me?"

It brought Bill's hands into view. Unable to do anything but observe the world as Adam saw it, Bill stared at his claws, still caked with brown mud from crawling around the forest floor.

"This may have originally been your body," Adam said, "but I created you. It is just as much your skin as it is mine. I can access your mind easily because it is a part of me. Yes, Bill, I am a parasite, and that means whatever is inside you is mine as well. However, you must make a conscious effort to get inside my mind. If you finally understand me, then perhaps, it won't be necessary for me to take control to force you to do something as simple as feeding." It closed its hands. "So, come. Do what you did with your ridiculous costumes."

No, Bill responded. I can't. I don't want to—

Adam lowered its hands and glared to the side. "Why? Are you afraid of me?"

I don't want to be a monster. None of my experiments ever hurt anyone.

"And no one will be hurt if you do exactly as I say," Adam replied.

What about our victims? Bill asked. We just killed an innocent zigzagoon. Don't tell me she didn't matter.

Adam scoffed and placed its hands on its hips. "We do what we must in order to survive. What is so difficult to understand?" It sneered. "You are truly impossible. Perhaps I should simply finish the process and replace your mind with mine."

Perhaps it would be better, Bill replied. I would rather die than kill a pokémon.

At that response, Adam narrowed its eyes. "And perhaps I should annihilate your mind in the process the way my brothers and sisters have done to their hosts. Then, if I truly wish to stop restraining myself for your sake, I will kill those pathetic females you cherish so much."

For a long moment, Adam stood, listening closely for any sign of its partner. When it got no response, it frowned and mentally reached into itself until it finally found its host, stunned into cold, silent fear.

Inside, Bill could feel the presence, even if he didn't have his physical form. It pressed against him on all sides, threatening to crush him at first. Then, surprisingly, it merely wrapped itself around him to envelop him in a sense of warmth and strength.

What are you doing? he asked.

Adam shrugged and continued through the forest. "Getting your attention. I want you to understand something perfectly, Bill, and to do that, I want you to listen to every word I am about to say."

There was a short pause. Adam almost thought it had lost its host when finally, his voice responded.

I'm listening.

Adam nodded. "Good. While you may not enjoy living with me, the simple truth is that until one of us dies, we will be bonded together. I intend on making this relationship last as long as possible, and furthermore, I doubt I will die before you do."

It hesitated when it felt Bill cringe inside. With a frown, it shook its head.

"Also," it said, "there are two possibilities for our relationship: entirely parasitic or entirely mutual. I can help you just as much as I can hurt you. If you wish for me to help you, you must understand that we are to work together, not separately. I am not one of your little Terran pokémon who exist only to serve you and fight for you. I am your benefactor. I exist to give you the gifts of my people and teach you how to use them. When you learn, I will teach you to combine your power with mine so we may live together – not as one creature leeching off the other or one creature cowering and the other fighting." It narrowed its eyes. "Do you understand? You must fight, or our relationship will only be detrimental. Either you will be my parasite, depending on me for every little thing, or I will be your parasite and take control of your body until I have no use for it anymore."

There was a beat of silence. Adam narrowed its eyes as it patiently awaited its host's answer.

I understand, Bill whispered.

"Good." Adam fell into step again. "You have a question."

What makes you say that?

Adam didn't respond. Instead, he smirked and waited as a realization settled on Bill.

Oh. Right. We're… we're linked. He hesitated slightly. Why are you doing this? Clearly, you can take control of my body if you wanted.

"Ah, yes," Adam replied. "You have asked this before."

It hasn't killed me yet.

Adam shook its head. "No, it has not. However, I cannot maintain this state forever. Eventually, I will tire myself and retreat back to where I have been watching you."

So, in reality, your only concern is that it would kill you.

The parasite laughed. "Ridiculous. And you call yourself a scientist. No, if I forced myself onto you, then, yes, something would break."

Break?

It nodded. "Yes. That is one thing my brothers and sisters fail to realize. Strength comes from the bond between the host and oneself, not control."

I don't understand.

Adam narrowed its eyes. "You are a scientist. Figure it out." It paused. "You have another question."

I don't like that you can do that. If you know I have a question, why not simply answer it?

"Because you amuse me," Adam replied with a smile. "You have every opportunity to simply reach into my mind and find the answer, yet you refuse to do so, despite the fact that that is what you spent your time as a human doing." It shrugged. "However, I will respond to your question. Those females called us a monarch, yes, but a monarch—"

Before it could finish its sentence, a scream pierced the calm of the forest. Adam paused, straining its ears to listen. The scream was familiar, and judging by the feeling of its host cringing again within its body, it had a feeling it knew exactly what the scream was.

"Your sister," Adam said. "Shall we go?"

Bill didn't even hesitate before responding. Yes! Go! Please!

Adam flashed one last grin before bolting back towards the cottage.

---

"Growlithe! Flamethrower!"

A jet of flames blasted from Growlithe's throat to wash over a lumbering target. The target in question was a massive metal behemoth: a hulking, bipedal creature almost as tall as the two-story cottage. Its arms, tipped with large, red hands, telescoped as they swung upwards to block the fire. There was no head, just a mound with black, reflective glass across the front. On its chest, a bright red R glistened, as if the paint on it was still wet.

Upon the failure of the Flamethrower alone, Numel jumped forward – between the robot, Veronica, and a cowering Rose – to fire a volley of fireballs. Growlithe, without skipping a beat, blasted another jet. Both attacks combined into a whirling blast of light that washed over the robot, but it slowly crossed its arms in front of itself before snapping them to the sides. The fire dissipated, leaving behind its masters who stood stunned by the ineffectiveness of their assault. A laugh echoed from the machine.

"Is that all you've got?" it said. "Mecha Rocket, grab them!"

Both of its hands lashed towards the machine's attackers. Growlithe and Numel tried to race away from it, but the hands were faster. They came down hard on the fire-types and closed around them. Fire licked the behemoth's fingers, but it, unshaken, lifted its hands into the air and tightened its grip.

In the nearby bushes, Adam stopped. Both it and its host watched quietly as Growlithe and Numel struggled against the hands.

Adam, Bill whispered, what should we do?

Suddenly, he felt himself be pulled forward, and he stumbled as he regained control of his body. With wide eyes, he straightened and glanced at the jewel in his chest.

"What are you doing?" he hissed.

I have stayed out for far too long, Adam replied wearily. Besides, what better way to learn how to fight than to let you do it?

"Me?!" Bill took a step back, eying the mechanical beast warily. "No! I-I can't! I'm not ready yet!"

He felt Adam settle in the back of his mind as a shiver ran down his spine. A weight of dread settled in his stomach.

Just do everything I say, and neither us nor your friends... Adam paused to flash images of Rose and Veronica through Bill's head. ...Will be harmed. What do you say?

Bill flinched and held his head as he lingered on the images that Adam had shown him. He took one more glance towards the robot as it threw Growlithe and Numel into an opening in its stomach. As it reared back, a door slipped over the hole, and in the next instant, one of its hands reached out to grab Veronica. She yelled and turned to escape, but soon, she found herself kicking the arm as the fingers gripped her. As the robot lifted her off the ground, its fist tightened, and a piercing scream tore from Veronica's throat.

"Veronica!" Bill gasped. "Adam, what do I do?"

Very good, Adam said. First, let us learn how to fly. Imagine yourself with wings.

Swallowing, Bill glanced over his shoulder and tried to will his wings into existence. With a cold rush, they slid from the spikes on his back to form four metal blades.

Feel their muscles. Do what comes naturally.

Furrowing his eyebrows in concentration, Bill mentally reached to the base of the wings. He lifted them, spreading them as he tried to get them to work. Their bases spasmed, causing them to buzz and whir. It took a few moments, but the air around them lifted him until he hovered an inch off the ground.

Very good. Your body and tail serve to steer. Wherever you turn, your wings will take you.

With a nod, Bill swept himself away from the ground, nearly flipping over as he struggled to right himself and fly forward, towards the robot. By some miracle, he burst from the forest without smacking into the ground or the tree but instead darting in an erratic weave towards his target. For this reason, it took him several moments to finally reach the robot, and when he did, he brought his claws down to scratch the arm that held Veronica. Instantly, it released her, letting her drop limply to the ground. Without thinking, Bill stopped and hovered as he twisted to turn towards her unconscious form.

"Veronica!"

Bill, you fool! Adam snapped. Never turn your back on the enemy!

He blinked. "What?"

Without warning, he was knocked out of the air by one of the robot's bulky arms. Slamming into the ground, Bill winced and retracted his wings. Carefully, he turned over and forced himself to sit up. The robot started forward while behind him, Rose trembled.

"Nii-san!" she screamed.

He glanced over his shoulder. "Rosie, go back inside!"

With a jump, she nodded and darted for the door. Bill turned back just in time to see one of the hands reach for him. He gasped and scrambled to his feet, but he was too slow to run. Fingers tightly clasped around him, and he felt himself be lifted off the ground. The grip around him tightened until he felt his armor bend under it.

"Stardust Experiment 02, Codename Adam," the voice within the robot recited. "I've been waiting for you."

The fingers released him, and he fell to the ground. Gasping for breath, he struggled to his knees.

"You're weaker than I thought you would be," the voice drawled. "Well, then. That makes this easier."

At that, the robot reared back, its arms swinging backwards before lashing towards him. Drawing in a breath, Bill shielded his head with his arms. He silently prayed for protection, and suddenly, he felt every muscle in his body tense. The behemoth's hands struck Bill's arms but ricocheted to the side. Slowly, Bill lowered his arms and blinked when he realized that he hadn't sustained much more than a dent on his forearms in damage.

"Using Harden like a little metapod?" the voice drawled. "How cute."

Bill struggled to stand. "Harden? Did I do that on my own?"

Adam scoffed. Yes. Congratulations. You figured out how to execute a useless maneuver.

"I wouldn't call it useless," Bill whispered.

The arms swung towards him again. With a gasp, Bill extended his wings and jumped upward to escape another strike. He flitted around and behind the machine to land by scraping his hands and knees onto the ground. With wary eyes, he gazed towards the behemoth.

Adam, he thought, teach me another move.

Metal Claw, Adam responded. Extend your claws and imagine your energy flowing into them. You must focus, or it will fail.

Narrowing his eyes, Bill tensed his right hand and tried to do exactly as Adam had told him. He felt his claws tense until at last, they took on a white glow. In the meantime, the robot reared back, whirling around as it swung its arms outward. Before the mecha could hit him, Bill swiped, cutting through the air towards the oncoming hand. His eyes fixed on his target, the large metal palm almost as wide as he was tall. For a split second, he hesitated, uncertain about his attack. Then, furrowing his eyebrows, he pushed forward.

The arm literally swept him off his feet.

When he smashed into the ground for a second time, he looked up and blinked as his vision blurred for several seconds. Then, he shakily rose to his feet, paused for a moment to ensure that he was stable, and then raced towards the machine. It stood as he swiped at it in a frenzy, his hands flashing with white energy every so often. After awhile, he finally stopped, breathing heavily in exhaustion.

In response, the robot batted him away with an arm.

I told you to focus, Adam hissed as its host slammed into a tree. The moment your mind wanders, the power disperses, and the attack fails.

Groaning, Bill struggled to his knees. He was about to reply when a whir and a boom directed his attention back towards the robot. It was turned towards him, its arms swinging back for another strike.

Suddenly, something hit its shoulder with a plink. It paused, waiting until something else hit its shoulder. Then, it turned just enough for Bill to notice Veronica on her feet beyond the robot. She picked up another stone from the ground and threw it at the robot's mound head. It smacked the side of its metal frame, and with that, the robot turned completely towards Veronica.

"You little pest!" the voice snapped. "If you won't stay down, then die!"

As the robot's arms swung, Bill stared at its back. Suddenly, an idea hit him, and with that, he stood and darted towards one of the arms.

"Don't turn your back on the enemy," he murmured to himself.

He grabbed one of the arms and quickly climbed to the shoulder. The machine stopped, its second arm flying aimlessly over Veronica's head.

"What are you doing?!" the voice barked.

Bill wrapped his tail around the arm and straddled the shoulder as the mecha flailed its free arm.

"Focus," he whispered.

Clearing his mind, he concentrated until the claws on both of his hands began to glow white again. He swung down, slamming his hands into the robot's metal back. All ten claws pierced its armor.

"Hey!" the Rocket growled.

One arm finally flew up and smacked into Bill's side. With a yelp, he slipped from the shoulder to hang by his claws and tail. Furrowing his eyebrows, Bill planted his feet on the metal and pushed his claws down to cut long holes in the robot's back. The arm swung towards him again, and as he tried to pull the tracks apart to form a hole wide enough to fit through, the hand slammed into him from behind. Its fingers curled around him and yanked him off its back as he yelped and flailed in his desperation to get back to the hole. Instead, he was brought around to the front of the metal behemoth to stare into the black glass. With a wince, he grabbed the fingers around his waist and tried to pull them apart to work his way free. His struggling, however, only resulted in the machine gripping him tighter. He responded by gritting his teeth and tensing his every muscle again in another Harden.

"Where is that strength you had in Polaris Institute?" the voice asked. "Weren't you the one who tossed a rock-type twice your size into a wall?"

"What are you talking about?" Bill rasped as he strained to push the fingers open.

Another stone flew towards the mecha's face. This time, it hit its mark, and cracks laced across the black glass from the hole the stone left in the center of the panel. Veronica smirked.

"And that's how it's done!" she said.

The hands automatically opened, and Bill dropped once again to the ground. Its arms rose and flailed as the sound of the voice within the robot became distorted.

"Oh, you little twerp!" the voice shouted. "Smashing my mecha's visual sensor like that!"

It stepped forward, beginning to lumber towards Veronica as one arm lashed forward with the intent on grabbing her. However, the hand planted itself in the ground several feet away, giving Veronica ample time to throw another rock into the black glass and run. The rock hit and pierced through into the robot's body. Something crunched, and in the next moment, the robot flailed wildly as the voice became even more distorted.

"Wha... app... ing?" it screamed, its every syllable fighting against bursts of static.

The doors in the robot's stomach opened, and Growlithe eagerly leapt into the open with a howl. Numel followed not long after, pausing only to glance cautiously upwards at the robot's flailing arms.

In the meantime, behind the behemoth, Bill stood and shook off the shock of nearly being crushed. Extending his wings once more, he flitted up to the hole he'd created in the monster's back. Pulling it open a bit further, he pushed himself in just enough to look inside.

Beams of light from the hole in the black glass filtered downward, revealing a bashed computer just behind the robot's visor. However, beneath that was a jungle of wires, looping in and out of a black box that hummed quietly. He narrowed his eyes at the box, realizing almost immediately what its presence meant.

"There's no one in here," Bill murmured. "Just an on-board computer."

Then, resolving himself, he pushed further into the machine, reaching up until he touched the black box – the object he knew to be the robot's core. Seizing it with both hands, he pulled down firmly. It tore free, sending a shower of sparks downward as he quickly pulled himself back out the hole. Crackling echoed from within the robot as it suddenly shuddered and froze. Bill paused briefly, waiting for something to happen. When he realized all was silent, he let his wings whir as he pushed off the robot with his feet. The robot, in response, fell forward onto its face. Veronica and the pokémon stood a short distance away, glancing first at the robot and then at Bill as he descended onto the robot's back.

"Not too bad, if I do say so myself," Veronica said.

Bill didn't respond. Instead, he stared at the box with furrowed eyebrows. His claws pried open one of the sides, just enough for him to see the circuit boards inside and another red R painted on the metal bottom of the box.

"What's with that look?" Veronica asked as she stepped forward. "We won, didn't we?"

Bill shook his head. "No. I think..." He looked up at her with a small frown. "I think we should move."

"Move?" She blinked. "Now?"

"As soon as possible."

Veronica tilted her head. "Are you sure you're up for it? You're still recovering, aren't you?"

"We don't have a choice!" Bill replied. "Veronica, this machine belongs to Team Rocket."

"Team Rocket?"

He nodded. "A criminal organization that—"

Veronica frowned. "I know who they are. I'm a cop, remember? I just didn't think they were in Hoenn."

Bill sat down and placed the black box in his lap. "Neither did I, but it seems they were searching for me."

Blinking, Veronica moved to sit beside him. "How do you know? It called you Adam, didn't it? Maybe they mistook you for someone else."

He shook his head again. "No. That's the name the National Defense Forces gave me. I don't know how Team Rocket got that information or how they found me, but they did." Looking up at Veronica, he furrowed his eyebrows. "Regardless of whether or not they're looking for me specifically, however, it's far too dangerous to stay here anyway. Now that they know someone is here, they'll come back."

"How do you know?" Veronica asked.

Bill raised the box. "I think the fact that we destroyed their robot is enough to assume that they don't have whatever they came here for."

"Oh."

He handed her the box, but his eyes remained on her for awhile. She studied it carefully, staring at the red R within it as she placed it in her lap.

"Okay," she said. "First thing tomorrow morning, we'll start out. Until then, we'll need to get some sleep so we'll be well-rested and recovered for the journey tomorrow." She looked up, intending on asking Bill for his opinion about her plan when she noticed his stare. "What?"

Bill looked away. "Your... um, the top buttons of your shirt must have come undone during the fight."

Raising her eyebrows, Veronica looked down to see that, in fact, her shirt was partly unbuttoned. With a grin, put the box aside and brought her hands to the cloth.

"Oh! Thanks," she said. "You know, Bill, I'm surprised you were looking there."

She glanced at him just in time to see him turn his head away with a blush. Her grin broke into a wide, mischievous smile as she touched his arm. When he turned back, she leaned forward and opened her shirt a little further.

"Here, have a better look," she offered.

Instantly, Bill pushed himself away as his face turned bright red. "What?!"

Veronica grinned and inched closer. "Aww, you won the fight, didn't you? It's only fair that you get a reward like a good little pokémon."

Bill jumped to his feet. "What kind of police officer are you?!"

Following him, Veronica stood and touched her chin with an index finger. "Hmm... either a good cop or a bad cop. I can't remember." She leaned closer to Bill. "Wanna help me figure it out?"

Instantly, Bill turned away and scrambled for the door. "I've got to make sure Rosie's all right."

Veronica watched him dash into the cottage and slam the door behind him. She waited for a few beats as she listened to the silence that ensued. Then, she sat down on the robot, crossed her legs, and buttoned her shirt.

"He's a virgin," she said to herself.
__________________
Professional ninja. May or may not actually be back. Here for the snark and banter at most.

Need some light reading?
Anima Ex Machina (Chapter 20 now available)
The Leaf Green Incident (SWC 2012 winner)
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  #64    
Old May 13th, 2009 (01:52 PM).
Incinermyn's Avatar
Incinermyn
I ain't no Robin Hood, boys! :P
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Nature: Timid
After critiquing several bad fics on other sites, this is kind of a real refresher, Valentine. Guess I'm at a little loss of words for this, it's all so good. Can't wait for Chap. Eleven!
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  #65    
Old May 14th, 2009 (10:05 AM).
JX Valentine's Avatar
JX Valentine
Your aquatic overlord
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Harassing Bill
Age: 27
Gender: Female
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Quote originally posted by Skunter:
After critiquing several bad fics on other sites, this is kind of a real refresher, Valentine. Guess I'm at a little loss of words for this, it's all so good. Can't wait for Chap. Eleven!
Thanks kindly. I'm glad you liked it, and I'm glad to hear it's refreshing compared to the badfics you've reviewed. XD

Chapter eleven might come earlier than the others. I'm out of school, and other than applying for internships, I'm pretty much doing nothing but writing.
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  #66    
Old May 14th, 2009 (07:37 PM).
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Shrike Flamestar
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Oh hey, Jax Xanthine Valentine. I saw this when it was first posted way back last year and was immediately interested by the prologue, but in my usual fashion I ended up “forgetting” to actually read anymore. Well, with the arrival of summer and departure of schoolwork I have decided that I may perhaps have the time to actually read this! ...Also, I skimmed over the beginning of chapter ten on a whim and saw that there is indeed more of the nice, gruesome BLOOD AND DEATH. Yes.

On that prologue before I get to the rest of the review, I must comment on how much I sheerly LOVED the whole Absol being eaten by the swarm of parasites thing. If I haven't said so in the lounge yet I'll just say it here: I am exceedingly sadistic to my favorite things, rather like how you are to Bill. :D An Absol, one of my top favorite Pokémon (Quilava, Buizel, Mightyena, and Absol being my top four with the order of the first two and last two changing on an almost daily basis), being eaten and all by those parasites is just lovely to me. <3 I need some of those parasites for myself for my own diabolical purposes. Oh, and on violence, in the latest chapter the rather detailed and somewhat sad description of Bill (well, Adam) killing and drinking the blood of a Zigzaggon, the pre-evolution to one of my top yet lesser favorites, was also great. Too bad neither Quilava nor Buizel or Hoenn natives...but Mightyena is! Come on, toss a Poochyena Bill's way, will ya? Or maybe a Mightyena who got lost from its pack being surrounded by a swarm of the parasites while Bill and the girls stand on, helpless to do anything but watch!

*Coughs*

Anyways...when I was first planning to post I had only read the first two chapters but over the past two days I've ended up getting really interested by this and, in fact, reading all ten up to now. As with other people, the story's ended up taking so many departures from what I expected that I've pretty much given up making any expectations of it at all. Due to my skimming over the beginning of chapter ten I knew Bill wasn't going to die but I didn't expect him to become as mutated as he has. I fully expected Oak to die in the encounter with the rock Ixodida, but he lived (minus one leg). I expected Jenny to die and for Rose to either run away or also die leaving Bill by himself again, but none of that happened. I didn't expect one of Team Rockets ridiculous robots to show up either, now did I even halfway expect Jenny/Victoria's advances on Bill. Seriously, “I can take you”? Please tell me I'm not the only one seeing all this. I can say that I DID see Nettle as being a member of Team Rocket, though. In fact I fully expected her to be the one leading the intrusion at the start, but I guess they just want her to lay low and stuff (otherwise why would they even need Oak when Nettle could get them into the lab just as easily?)

Even with all the departures from expectations (and perhaps due to them) I find this story fascinating. The feel of a desolate Hoenn really reminds me of a zombie movie ala 28 Days Later, just with the parasites and Ixodidas instead of zombies. I guess you could relate the parasites to your standard swarm of stupid zombies, such as the infected horde in Left 4 Dead, while the Ixodida are the more advanced zombies that have superior abilities and all, such as the boss zombies (on that note, the janitor turned rock Ixodida really reminds me of the Tank, while the Pandora girl is kind of like a combination of the Witch as well as the Diclonius from Elfen Lied. Please tell me she's still alive and comes back into the story later as it'd be awesome if we get to see her on more than just a video). There's also a direct relation to the headcrabs and headcrab zombies in Half-Life, although the standard headcrab zombies are insanely stupid...

One thing I find interesting about the Ixodida is the varying types. Bill's steel, the Pandora girl was ice, the janitor was rock (BTW, is it a coincidence that the first three Ixodida seen in the story are the same types as the regis?), the ones in Mauville poison, and the girls in the canyon grass. There'll be a fire one too, right? :D I wonder if the type depends on the host, the parasite, some external influence, or if it's just random...

One more thing, the committee kind of reminds me of SEELE from Neon Genesis Evangelion and I fully expect them to be actively experimenting with the Ixodida in order to try to evolve humanity or something. Of course with my past expectations...

Anyways, while I overall like the style and think it works well to describe the setting and plot, I have to agree with an early review in that I found the use of parenthesis to be somewhat distracting. Fortunately they've vanished in recent chapters, so...change your mind on them? I also only found a single typo in all of the story, in the latest chapter at that.

Quote:
"Smashing my mecha's visual censor like that!"
What's it censoring, now? Veronica's unbuttoned shirt? :D

Anyways, I shall keep watch now and eagerly await the next chapter and whatever sudden and completely unexpected turns of the plot come with it!
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  #67    
Old May 15th, 2009 (12:04 AM).
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QWERTY-My-Keyboard
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WOw. You're not a good writer... YOu're an Awesome, Great, Spectacular writer!!! I love the storyline everything seems to fall into place with the parasites and whatnot.

Oh yes, I can be very sadistic when i want to be I love the blood!

Blood, blood, blood [launches into song about blood]

*twenty minutes later*

Oh by the way good work, keep it up!
  #68    
Old May 15th, 2009 (12:30 AM).
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You get another chapter out while I'm at camp?

MADNESS!

But it was nice, nice, yes.
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  #69    
Old May 15th, 2009 (08:35 AM). Edited May 15th, 2009 by JX Valentine.
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Quote originally posted by Shrike Flamestar:
...Also, I skimmed over the beginning of chapter ten on a whim and saw that there is indeed more of the nice, gruesome BLOOD AND DEATH. Yes.
>8D

Seriously, I'm surprised by the number of sadists this fandom actually has. XD Why can't we get more good dark fic, then? *pokes the other authors*

(Incidentally, I keep meaning to read your fic as well. I'm pretty much in the same boat, though -- college and "oh hey! Summer = fun times!" -- so you should get a review soon.)

Quote:
On that prologue before I get to the rest of the review, I must comment on how much I sheerly LOVED the whole Absol being eaten by the swarm of parasites thing.
Thank you. I was hoping it wasn't blatant symbolism. XD;

Quote:
Too bad neither Quilava nor Buizel or Hoenn natives...
Hmm. Well, there are trainers from other regions lurking around... (Or, well, there were.)

Quote:
but Mightyena is! Come on, toss a Poochyena Bill's way, will ya? Or maybe a Mightyena who got lost from its pack being surrounded by a swarm of the parasites while Bill and the girls stand on, helpless to do anything but watch!
Ooh! Reader request! I'll find a way to fit it in.

Quote:
Seriously, “I can take you”? Please tell me I'm not the only one seeing all this.
If you are, I'm impressed. She's really making it obvious because she's right. Bill is a prude, and she's amused by that. Whether or not an actual relationship would develop between them is something I'm playing around with, although with this audience, I get the feeling no one would mind if I tried to describe what would happen if someone tried to have that kind of relationship with a guy whose body was made of knives.

Quote:
but I guess they just want her to lay low and stuff
Pretty much, actually. I don't think it's much of a spoiler, but basically, they were hoping Nettle would become the director of Polaris. Having her open the doors herself would've drawn unwanted attention to her from the Committee. The reason why has sort of been touched upon, but since I'm too lazy to go back through my chapters, I'll leave it at that.

Quote:
The feel of a desolate Hoenn really reminds me of a zombie movie ala 28 Days Later, just with the parasites and Ixodidas instead of zombies.
As it should. I'd wanted the ixodida race to be zombie-like, but I ended up with vampires. Or, um, vampire-zombies. Either way, if Bill corners Veronica in the forest and tells her, "This is the skin of a killer," please tie me down and force me to watch Night of the Living Dead again.

Also, I'm glad someone thought of the diclonius. Also a basis for the race. *high fives*

Now, if someone can mention xenomorphs, I've gotten my point across. XD

Quote:
Please tell me she's still alive and comes back into the story later as it'd be awesome if we get to see her on more than just a video).
Admittedly, I haven't planned on it, but now...

Quote:
There's also a direct relation to the headcrabs and headcrab zombies in Half-Life, although the standard headcrab zombies are insanely stupid...
But amusing to watch. Especially in parodies of badfic.

Quote:
(BTW, is it a coincidence that the first three Ixodida seen in the story are the same types as the regis?),
Actually, it is. XD But it's rather funny, considering right after, the survivors get shipped off to Hoenn. Maybe my subconscious is really into symbolism?

Uh, in any case, yeah. Basically, Bill's type came first. I wanted him to resemble a xenomorph the most, and with the shiny, shiny exoskeleton of those things, I automatically thought "steel-type." So, I just mentally painted one silver and added a human head instead. The janitor's type came after that because I wanted a hard hitter with a type that was weak to Bill's to make it easy for him. (Because at that point, he and Adam were basically newborns, so their powers hadn't fully developed yet. Anything else except a rock-type wouldn't have been threatening enough and/or would have been impossible for them to take down.) Pandora's was last, and that was just because I wanted her type to be obvious but not entirely harmful to the people around her. (She was originally an electric-type before I realized how blinking hard that would've been to render without having her kick the crap out of people.)

In other words, it's a cool connection, but it wasn't what I was thinking of at the time. XD;

Or we can pretend I'm really that clever and consider this all a lie.

Quote:
There'll be a fire one too, right? :D
Oh yes. And you should meet one soon.

Quote:
I wonder if the type depends on the host, the parasite, some external influence, or if it's just random...
Actually, it's the parasite. There's a reason behind this, but that would be heading down spoilertasticness. Don't worry. It'll be added to the fic too.

Quote:
One more thing, the committee kind of reminds me of SEELE from Neon Genesis Evangelion
*walks away from her Evangelion bookmarks, whistling*

Quote:
I have to agree with an early review in that I found the use of parenthesis to be somewhat distracting. Fortunately they've vanished in recent chapters, so...change your mind on them?
Hmm. Probably. I actually didn't entirely notice that I'd stopped... or if I did, I forgot why I used them to begin with. XD; I'll have to go back and see if I can pick apart the remaining ones at the beginning.

Quote:
What's it censoring, now? Veronica's unbuttoned shirt? :D
THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Seriously, good eye. I'll have to go back and fix that when I get a chance.

Thanks for the review, and I'm glad that you'll keep reading and that you got so much out of it. =D It made my day.

Quote originally posted by QWERTY-My-Keyboard:
WOw. You're not a good writer... YOu're an Awesome, Great, Spectacular writer!!!
Haha, thanks. I'm glad you liked it.

Quote originally posted by Ninja Caterpie:
You get another chapter out while I'm at camp?

MADNESS!
Yeah, seriously. I actually got a chapter out within a month of not just one but two before it. I think we'd better check the skies because at any moment. I get the feeling the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will be riding past. XD

Seriously, thanks for the review and the compliment.
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  #70    
Old May 19th, 2009 (11:49 PM).
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Bay Alexison
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Man, now you have been getting reviews here like how those parasites eat those Pokemon, huh? XD;

*coughs*

Before I start, want to say at first I thought I wouldn't like this story more than Midsummer Knights, part of the reason because I usually prefer tournament kind of stories instead of aliens. ; *gets shot* However, I have to say after thinking over your two stories, I like this one quite better.

Now, to the review. First off, I just love your characterization of the canon characters. I'll go through them one by one:

-Oak: Just love how you're able to not only show his humble side, but also his dilemma on how he should dealt with both Polaris Institute and Bill. The emotions are just great there. Also, nice twist on him going to take down the committee with Bill's mom there.

-Veronica Jenny- One thing I love about the Officer Jennies is that they're very flexible and you can almost put any personality in them. Veronica I just love because of her sarcastic nature and she knows what she's talking about. Dang it, you portrayed the officer a million times better than me. XD;

-Bill- You're able to portray his emotions while having to stick with Adam very well. Also, love how you incorporated his thoughts over Pokemon and what he thinks are the right and wrong ways to treat them.

Speaking of Bill and Adam, just love their interactions there. I think my favorite has to be in Chapter 9 I think, in which Bill dreams he's face to face with Adam. Adam giving Bill background info on the parasites and other stuff bit by bit is a nice touch too.

Like everyone else, great imagery there on both the violent scenes and also the Ixodida. You did your job on making me cringe whenever there are those things coming or if there's blood. XD

There a couple things I want to mention. First off, am confused what happened to the janitor after Bill/Adam defeated him (offscreen). Probably I missed it or something. ;

Another thing is I'm wondering how and why that Gardevoir released Bill onto the fields. Speaking of which, that Pokemon wasn't mentioned again. Perphaps she'll be back or at least Bill will remember that incident?

Overall, this is one awesome fic you got there and I enjoyed every bit of it. Can't wait for next chapter!
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  #71    
Old May 20th, 2009 (01:22 PM).
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JX Valentine
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Quote originally posted by Bay:
Man, now you have been getting reviews here like how those parasites eat those Pokemon, huh? XD;
Very nice way to put it, Bay. XD

Quote:
Before I start, want to say at first I thought I wouldn't like this story more than Midsummer Knights, part of the reason because I usually prefer tournament kind of stories instead of aliens. ^^; *gets shot* However, I have to say after thinking over your two stories, I like this one quite better. :)
Thanks. And you've just reminded me that I still need to work on Midsummer Knights. XD;

To be honest, it's really not surprising. Midsummer Knights represents my old, high school style of fic, the one where I focused a lot on angst and very rarely used a beta. Hence, the pace is slower, and I often forgot it's set in a Pokémon-centered world. AEM represents my current style, wherein I do use a beta, and because of that, I'm a bit more conscious about plot and keeping the characters just shy of angsty because neither of my betas were/are the kind of people who would put up with that for long periods of time.

I guess – in this rambly, rambly text – what I'm trying to say is that if people like AEM more, it's probably because there's definitely a difference in style as well as genre. Of course, I'm still going to try finishing MKD as well. It's probably just going to take awhile because it's basically me switching back to my high school style.

Also, I'm glad you still like it, despite the fact it's not entirely your cup of tea. Seeing people cross genre lines to read my stuff really makes my day.

Quote:
-Oak: Just love how you're able to not only show his humble side, but also his dilemma on how he should dealt with both Polaris Institute and Bill. The emotions are just great there. Also, nice twist on him going to take down the committee with Bill's mom there.
Thank you. =D I was a bit afraid he wasn't entirely recognizable, especially after he was sent back to Pallet Town.

Quote:
-Veronica Jenny- One thing I love about the Officer Jennies is that they're very flexible and you can almost put any personality in them.
Amen. (It also helps because I don't even remember if there was a Mauville City Jenny in the show. XD)

Quote:
Dang it, you portrayed the officer a million times better than me. XD;
Aww, you did well too for the situations you have in your fic. (And I promise I'll review your fic when I get a chance.)

Quote:
Also, love how you incorporated his thoughts over Pokemon and what he thinks are the right and wrong ways to treat them.
Thanks. It's really the best way to remind myself to keep him in character. Sometimes, it's difficult because I like to see him suffer, but once I throw in the question of, "Hey, Bill. You're about to kill a Pokémon. How do you feel about that?" he goes back on his merry way to "oh yeah, this is how I'm supposed to act."

Quote:
Like everyone else, great imagery there on both the violent scenes and also the Ixodida. You did your job on making me cringe whenever there are those things coming or if there's blood. XD
*bows* Then, I've done my job.

Although if I give people nightmares, then not only have I done my job, but people totally get the point of this entire fic. XD (Mmm, 70's/80's sci-fi flicks.)

Quote:
First off, am confused what happened to the janitor after Bill/Adam defeated him (offscreen). Probably I missed it or something. ^^;
Well, it's implied that Adam ripped him apart in the same way he dispatched the Poison-type female. The pile of rocks Bill sees shortly after waking up in chapter four is the janitor, and the blood that coats those rocks is definitely the janitor's blood. I'd like to go back to this moment later on to explain how Oak lost his leg, so it might get a bit clearer.

Quote:
Another thing is I'm wondering how and why that Gardevoir released Bill onto the fields.
Because I haven't seen a lot of DP episodes, I never saw the one where Paul releases Chimchar. This is relevant because I'm instead going off earlier bits of anime canon where Poké Balls were broken in order to officially release a Pokémon into the wild. So, the "how" is that Gardevoir used her telekinetic abilities to shatter the ball and cut any ties Bill had with the NDF.

The "why," meanwhile, is a bit more shady because I'm not entirely sure if I explained Hoenn's situation well enough to get it across. Basically, the entirety of mainland Hoenn (i.e., all of Hoenn except Sootopolis, Pacifidlog, Mossdeep, and the other small islands separated by expanses of water from the rest of the region) is essentially a nature preserve in which hundreds upon hundreds of Ixodida adult and seas of Ixodida parasites roam free. There's few humans except in isolated cities (like Fallarbor and Lavaridge, to name two) and cities sealed off by the NDF (Rustboro, Littleroot, Slateport, and half of Lilycove). These cities, by the way, will be visited and mentioned in a bit more detail later on in the fic, so don't worry if I screwed up and didn't make things clear.

Now, the reasons behind releasing an Ixodida in the wild are the following:

1. The NDF is aware of an Ixodida "queen" (mentioned by the Committee earlier in the fic). I'm not sure how I'm going to get this part across, but they do. And, of course, they're hoping Bill (and any other Ixodida they release) will lead them to her.

2. They don't have the facilities to maintain a captured Ixodida. Past incidents of attempting to keep them in labs have ended pretty disastrously.

3. There's hundreds of Ixodida adults, and they have a tendency to travel in packs. This is mostly relevant because it's already been established that guns don't work on Ixodida (unless it's a headshot), and Ixodida like eating other Pokémon for snacks. So, releasing one prevents the rest of the pack from getting pissed off and going after human settlements (hence why Gardevoir released Bill in the middle of nowhere and Teleported the crap out right after).

4. They aren't aware that most Ixodida have wings (not that most Ixodida can actually fly forever: Bill, for example, has a limit to how long he can stay in the air but has just never come close to it) or that Ixodida can be Water or a type better equipped to fly (Flying, Ghost, Psychic). Very little is known about the Ixodida race because it's too difficult to study one in captivity, and studying them in the wild is a risk and a half.

But I definitely see that the "why" part of this question is a bit weak, so I'll try to figure out a way to better detail it later on in the fic.

Quote:
Speaking of which, that Pokemon wasn't mentioned again. Perphaps she'll be back or at least Bill will remember that incident?
He'll probably remember it, but I'm not sure if he'll meet her again. She's an NDF Pokémon, and the NDF have a lot of those. They're basically a military force, so that was like sending a spec ops soldier out to perform a small duty for the good of the country.

Quote:
Overall, this is one awesome fic you got there and I enjoyed every bit of it. :) Can't wait for next chapter!
Thanks. It should be out soon. My beta's going over it. =D
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  #72    
Old May 21st, 2009 (04:25 PM). Edited June 30th, 2009 by JX Valentine.
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JX Valentine
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Gasp! Another chapter within two weeks? Yes, folks, Valentine does not have a life. Also, she discovered the glory of short blinking chapters.

Incidentally, if anyone's wondering about my post in the Beta Thread, yes, I'm currently looking for a beta. My current one was able to get her computer issues resolved for now, but even then, I figure it's not a bad thing to get another pair of eyes either way. So, if you have nothing better to do and want sneak peeks at the latest chapters, you should totally look into it. *thumbs up*



Eleven
(My words fly up; my thoughts remain below.)

Nettle crossed her legs and leaned back in her chair. For someone who had just told her superior that she was responsible for the loss of a several-million-yen giant robot, she was feeling comfortable and calm. On her desk, the computer was on, and through it, she spoke to a man – the aforementioned superior – on the other end of a call. One of his large hands stroked the head of his persian as he listened patiently to Nettle's next words.

"I assure you, sir, that the loss was worthwhile," she said. "We've gleaned quite a bit of information from our subject. He's a low-level XP-494B, capable of using Metal Claw, Scratch, and Harden. Other abilities include flight and an unusual recovery time."

The man paused. "Frankly, Professor Nettle, I hardly care about any of this information. The entire point of the experiment was to uncover information concerning his psychological state. Were you or were you not successful in this endeavor?"

Nettle hesitated for a moment and then nodded. "Yes, sir. Mecha Rocket Alpha's on-board computer managed to record and transmit both video and audio of the struggle until it was disconnected. I've taken the liberty to analyze the recordings."

"Well?" he growled. "What were the results?"

"The creature seems human in mindset," Nettle replied after a short hesitation. "Allow me to send a clip recorded after the onboard computer was removed from Mecha Rocket Alpha."

Nettle pushed herself forward, just enough for one hand to reach the mouse. She trailed the cursor over the window, clicking on options until a window appeared detailing the transmission of a file. When the process was complete, the man tapped a key with a large finger on his free hand and sat back to listen.

"What's with that look? We won, didn't we?"

"No. I think… I think we should move."

"Move? Now?"

"As soon as possible."

"Are you sure you're up for it? You're still recovering, aren't you?"

"We don't have a choice! Veronica, this machine belongs to Team Rocket."

"Team Rocket?"

"A criminal organization that—"

"I know who they are. I'm a cop, remember? I just didn't think they were in Hoenn."

"Neither did I, but it seems they were searching for me."


The clip ended, plunging both rooms into silence. Nettle paused for a moment, resting her hands in her lap as she composed herself. In the meantime, she carefully eyed her superior, watching for any changes in his posture and face that may reveal his reaction.

"As you can see," she finally said, "he seems to have human knowledge of us. Likewise, in a clip I found inappropriate to send to you, he responded to his human name. Clearly, his state of mind during his time here has most likely resolved itself, and the mindset that possesses control currently is McKenzie's."

"I see," the man drawled. "Any idea if this resolution you've observed occurs with every XP-494B?"

Nettle shook her head. "Not yet. That's why we've created Prometheus, sir."

"Yes, Prometheus." The man leaned back in his chair, his free hand rising to his bony chin. "Tell me about him."

"The physical transformation is complete, sir," Nettle answered. "A fire-type. He's giving the staff a bit of difficulty to control."

"And his mindset?"

Nettle shook her head. "Deranged. We don't know yet if he went insane during the transformation, if it's the parasite, or if his mind simply hasn't resolved itself yet. We suspect it will still take some time to discern."

"How long?"

She tilted her head. "Perhaps another month. It took McKenzie roughly two full months before he adjusted, from what we can tell of the findings from Mecha Rocket Alpha."

The man frowned. "I suppose it would be too much to ask to find a way to speed up the process."

Nettle nodded. "Unfortunately, we're working as quickly as we can, sir. If we work too hastily, there is a risk we could kill Prometheus before gleaning any information from him."

"Hmph." The man leaned back and stroked the persian again. "Very well, then. Continue conducting your experiments and contact me when you've made progress. In the meantime, our field agents will have to keep an eye on Adam."

"Yes, sir," Nettle responded. Then, after a beat of hesitation, she added, "Sir, there is one minor problem."

He quirked an eyebrow. "What is it?"

"Someone else is copying the data that the Committee is receiving through Polaris's computers. According to our computer technicians, whoever is doing it has masked themselves well, but we've at least been able to uncover a destination."

The man stopped. "And to where is the data being sent?"

Nettle frowned. "Pallet Town."

For a long moment, there was silence. Then, slowly, the man began to laugh. It started as a low rumble, but gradually, it ran through a crescendo until it filled the office. His large hand patted his cat just before she slipped away to hide behind his chair.

"Of course," he said. "The old man won't retire if one forced him. Well, then, Professor Nettle. What difference does it make if he watches the Committee's progress?"

Nettle stiffened. "Well, sir, for one, he may detect our movements, and—"

He waved his hand. At once, Nettle fell silent. She closed her mouth and waited intently for his next words.

"I have an idea," he said. "Why don't we have a formal liaison between Professor Oak and Polaris Institute – a partnership, if you will – for the purpose of obtaining the largest amount of information?"

"What exactly are you proposing, sir?" Nettle asked quietly.

The man grinned. "Professor Oak has an assistant, doesn't he?"

---

The wind blew to the north from the peak of Mt. Chimney, and because of that, clouds of ash drifted from the lava fields at its top to leave the grasslands to the east of Fallarbor coated in a thick layer of soft grayness. For some, it projected a feeling of tranquility with flakes falling like fresh snow gently to the earth. Others enjoyed rushing through it, brushing the green grass beneath it free from their dusty coats for a few precious moments. And for others, it was the ideal place to practice stealth, to hide among the ash piles for unsuspecting passersby – or, in the case of the occasional small pokémon, to hide from predators.

For that reason, it wasn't at all unusual for a spinda to wobble along and come in contact with a sandshrew. The latter's ears twitched, and he lifted his head to swivel his dark eyes towards the dancing bear. She stared at him for awhile with her spiral eyes, watching with a short giggle as the sandshrew rose to his haunches. One yellow paw reached down to the edge of his burrow in preparation for slinging some of the ash and dirt at the panda, but before he could, he turned his head away from her sharply, towards another form of commotion. Spinda turned herself in the same direction, just in time to see a cloud of dust rising in a zig-zag across the field not far away. A buzzing rose from it as it darted closer and closer to the two. With a pair of shrieks, the sandshrew and the spinda jumped into movement: the sandshrew frantically burrowed out of sight, while the spinda stumbled drunkenly away.

By some miracle, the cloud and the ixodida within it missed them both by a few seconds.

For the past three minutes, Bill had been in a frantic flight away from an attacker. It took two of those minutes to realize that perhaps flying low to gain cover by kicking up ash was a bad idea because it had the unfortunate side-effect of rendering him blind as well. The third minute was currently being spent trying to figure out how to gain altitude without slamming into the ground while at the same time avoiding obstacles he couldn't see. Needless to say, he quickly found he wasn't particularly good at the entire concept of flying.

Jerking to the side at the sight of a sudden shadow, Bill managed to miss a boulder by a few inches while at the same time clipping the ear of another wandering spinda with one of his wings. The latter tottered away with terrified cries while Bill found himself scrambling to regain balance. Unfortunately, physics won out, and he soon found himself tumbling head-over-heels for several feet as his wings uselessly beat against the ground. Finally, he stopped only by slamming his back upside-down against a rather large rock, leaving his legs in the air and his shoulders supporting him on the ground. For several moments, the impact left him silent as pain jolted through every part of his body.

"Remind me never to do that again," Bill murmured to Adam with a groan.

Slowly, he twisted, carefully pulling his legs back towards the ground as his hands pushed against the rock for support. He shakily rose to his feet and winced as he placed a hand on the small of his sore back. With shuffling movements, he turned just in time to see his pursuer hop into view.

The whismur stood a few feet in front of him. Her crossed eyes fixed on him as her small paws rose to her mouth. Bill froze, his eyes widening as he turned completely towards her. He lifted one hand, palm outward, as he backed against the rock.

"Now, hold on," he said. "I'm not ready to—"

She took a deep breath, opened her mouth as wide as possible, and screamed. Instantly, Bill yelped, covering his ears with both hands. The act left him without an anchor against the rest of the blast: the air itself as it vibrated in a wave. It crashed against him, launching him backwards, off his feet and into the rock behind him. He smacked into the hard surface and remained pinned until the whismur finally stopped. After that point, he fell limply to his knees first and then, finally, face-down into the ground.

Satisfied, the whismur closed her mouth. Bill turned his head, squinting as spots clouded his sight for a long while. He could vaguely make out colored blobs appearing in his line of vision, but it didn't register to him what they were until he heard a voice.

"How many does that make now?" Veronica asked. "Six?"

She knelt beside him. He heard something scrape – the sound of a cap twisting off the top of a bottle – just before ice-cold fresh water drenched his head. Jolting, he pulled away and struggled to force himself to his knees. He glared at her as he played with his soaked ear, trying to toy water out.

"Yes," he said dryly. "It's the sixth time. I never knew battling would be so difficult. Rosie's whismur is well-trained."

Veronica stood and capped the canteen. "Hmph. Don't blame the whismur for the fact that you're lame. It defeated you six times in a row, Bill."

Slowly, Bill forced himself to stand. "I'm still getting used to this part of being an ixodida."

In response, Veronica quirked an eyebrow. "You're bigger than it, and you have a type advantage. I think this goes well beyond needing to adjust."

Whismur turned and bounced back towards her owner, who was approaching from the way Bill had come. With a tilt of her head, she pulled herself up to sit on a large rock with Whismur in her lap. Her boot-clad feet swung back and forth as she fixed her eyes on her brother with a curious glance.

"Maybe if Nii-san tried only learning one skill at a time, he'd do much better," she commented.

Veronica snickered. "And you're getting reasonable advice from an eleven-year-old. You really suck at this, Bill."

He narrowed his eyes at her. However, before he could respond, he heard a voice in his head.

Oh, human, if only you knew how I felt, Adam quipped. You at least only have to watch. I have to suffer when he damages our body.

"Not you too," Bill whispered.

Veronica raised an eyebrow. "What?"

Shaking his head, he glanced at Veronica. "Nothing. The parasite was trying to tell me something."

She smirked. "He thinks you suck too, huh?"

Instantly, Bill blushed and glared at her. "I thought you were supposed to be supportive. Weren't you the one who convinced me to do this in the first place?"

She slung the canteen's strap over her shoulder, shrugged, and put her hands on her hips. "I'd be a bit more supportive if you actually listened once in awhile. After all, I was the one who told you not to fly this time."

"For the last time," he replied, "you are not my trainer. Until you capture me in a poké ball—"

Rose tilted her head. "Actually, Nii-san, that already happened."

A long moment of silence passed between the three of them. Slowly, Veronica turned her head towards Rose as she happily swung her legs back and forth. The whistling wind blew past, carrying with it whirling puffs of ash and the only form of sound until, finally, the former officer darted towards her.

"Rose!" Veronica hissed. "You weren't supposed to tell him that!"

Cringing, Rose's expression blanked. "I wasn't?"

Veronica clenched her teeth. "No! I mean…" Realizing what tone she was using at that point, she forced herself to soften her voice. "It's probably a bad idea. I mean, Bill…"

At that point, she turned towards her alien companion and stopped. Veronica had expected a look of shock, of betrayal, of anger, of an ocean of negative emotion that would have descended upon her in a blaze of uptight glory. After all, it was one thing to forget that a person was human, but, in Veronica's mind, it was a different thing entirely to capture them, own them, and treat them exactly as one would a growlithe.

So, when she looked over her shoulder at Bill's expression, she didn't entirely expect him to merely tilt his head and blink.

In response, Veronica tensed, clenching her hands into fists as she examined Bill cautiously. "What? Aren't you angry?"

Again, he blinked. "About what?"

Veronica's mouth fell open. "Um… about us… capturing you."

Bill rubbed the back of his neck. "When did that happen?"

He asked it casually, as if he was asking about the weather. Shifting on her feet, Veronica narrowed her eyes. A tight feeling was forming at the pit of her stomach – the kind of feeling she got when she felt like she was walking into an ambush.

"While we were going through the Valley of Steel," Veronica replied slowly. "You fainted then, remember? We had to get you out of there before those red things laid eggs in the ixodida or something." Then, her voice sped up a bit as she tacked more words onto her explanation. "It was the first thing I could think of, and I'm totally and completely responsible for this. I'm sorry."

"The Valley of Steel," Bill repeated as he tilted his head back to look at the sky. "Strange. I always thought there would be a distinct difference between being a wild pokémon and being tamed. This certainly sheds a new light on the subject."

Veronica stared at him for a long moment. In the pause, Bill glanced at her with a nonchalant expression. He didn't seem to notice her surprise.

"Anyway, I suppose this would make you my trainer after all?" he said.

For once, Veronica couldn't speak. Instead, Rose rummaged through her pockets and pulled a poké ball from one of them. She held it up to her brother as she tilted her head slightly. Glancing at it, Bill began to wag his tail as he put his hands on his hips. He could feel something radiating from it, like a tug from an invisible leash. Yet, even after he became conscious of that sensation, he still felt surprisingly comfortable.

"Oh, I see," he responded with a nod. "You are. Well, I suppose that's a bit more appropriate. You are family, after all."

Finally, Veronica forced herself to speak in a murmur. "Bill… aren't you angry?"

"Huh?" He turned to her with another blink. "No, not at all. Why would I be?"

At once, Veronica's sense of disbelief pushed her over the barrier between mild shock to utter frustration. She knit her eyebrows as she opened her hands with the palms skyward. Taking a step forward, she opened her mouth, and the next words came in a high-pitched snap.

"Are you serious?" she asked. "I just get done telling you we captured you like a common pokémon, that you're right now owned by an eleven-year-old girl, and that a poké ball actually works on you, which means you're definitely not human, and your only reaction is—" She hesitated only because she struggled for a beat in figuring out how to best imitate Bill's accent. "'Oh, that's nice. Lovely weather we're having, isn't it?'"

Bill furrowed his eyebrows. "I don't actually sound like that, do I?"

Veronica growled in frustration, put her hands on her head, and turned away. "That's not the point, Bill, and you know that. The point is isn't this the part where you're supposed to freak out or brood over your sudden loss of humanity or get angry about the fact that I didn't tell you or something?"

He tilted his head. "While I'm a little disappointed that you didn't tell me, I don't know why you felt I'd otherwise experience this like that."

At his response, she turned to face him with narrow eyes. "Why are you so damn calm about the fact that we captured you?"

"To be honest, Veronica, I didn't notice that you did." He shrugged. "Besides, although I don't like the idea of studying the ixodida at the moment, I've always wondered what it was like to be inside a poké ball."

She smacked her forehead with her left hand, looked at the ground, and shook her head.

"What?" Bill asked as he stared at Veronica with a curious glance. "Haven't you ever wondered the same?"

Veronica looked up and crossed her arms. "How about we just wrap your training up for now and start heading to Fallarbor before it gets dark?"

Straightening, Bill nodded. "Oh. Yes, of course."

With that, he turned and started maneuvering himself around the rock. Rose pocketed Bill's poké ball and reached for another one to recall Whismur. Then, she slid off the rock to join him, clasping her hands behind her back. Veronica lingered a little before jogging forward and falling into step beside them as they began to walk through the ash fields.

"Hey, Bill?" she said.

He didn't turn to her when he responded. "Hmm?"

"You really creep me out sometimes."

In response, he merely smiled at her.

Meanwhile, perched on a cliff high above them, a pair of eyes watched. He shook his body, sending white ash and golden sand flying off his smooth, brown skin. Turning, he grasped the rock wall behind him with long, brown claws and slowly climbed up the face of the cliff.
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  #73    
Old May 22nd, 2009 (08:04 AM).
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Incinermyn
I ain't no Robin Hood, boys! :P
 
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That was quick. And what timing, too? Feral Twilight's back up (and yet again I have no readers).

My frustration aside, I felt that something was just a hair off in this chapter, though I can't say what. Maybe I'm just imagining it because you got this up so much sooner than I anticipated. It was still as excellent as always, Jax. Keep up the pace.
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Old May 22nd, 2009 (02:19 PM).
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JX Valentine
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Quote originally posted by Skunter:
That was quick. And what timing, too? Feral Twilight's back up (and yet again I have no readers).
Yep. It comes from having nothing better to do for eight straight hours of my day. XD Dial-up = I can't get online if I'm waiting for callbacks; suburbia = what things to do locally?

Yeah, I noticed you got it up. I'll have to go through and leave a review because I was definitely looking forward to reading it after our discussion earlier in this thread.

Quote:
I felt that something was just a hair off in this chapter, though I can't say what.
Wouldn't be surprised. I feel like something's not quite right too, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I was hoping someone else might be able to figure it out because my current beta said that the chapter's plot is okay. *shrug* (It's cool if we're in the same boat, though.)

Quote:
It was still as excellent as always, Jax. Keep up the pace.
Thanks. I'll try. =D (Thirteen's even about halfway finished at the moment.)
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  #75    
Old May 22nd, 2009 (04:32 PM).
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Lana.
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...

Holy cow. o_0 Ugghhh.

This... is beyond any sort of word I can think of right now.

*thinks* Ummmm...

Can I just say this was ridiculously amazing and put to shame almost every Pokemon fic I've ever read? Because it did. And to end this long string of incoherencies, let me start on my real review:

And about the Veronica/Bill thing... I'm all for it if you're still toying with the idea. That would be interesting to watch play out. Though it made me pause for second when Nettle was proved to be Rocket, I sort of knew she wasn't on the side of goodness (forgive the corny word choice) right from that line of hers about Oak waaay in the beginning (it was the first or second chapter, something about Oak being a weak old fool). I really don't have any complaints; nothing made me go, "Wait, what?" and I just enjoyed reading it.

It was just intense. *tries to think of something else to say*

I'm drawing blanks here, so I'll just say this: you're certainly setting a standard for anything I read/write in the fanfic category. I'm not going to be able to enjoy reading anything anymore. This is too good. xDD

Please, keep doing what you're doing. Because it's excellent. And now I'm going to have to go read Midsummer Knights...
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