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Happy New Year everyone! And, with the New Year, and new decade, we all make resolutions to ourselves that we hope to keep, but fail miserably afterwards. Well, some of us anyway –namely me. Among other things, I promised myself to stop talking about, and start writing The Chronicles of Neo Groudon. After realizing that the old, first person POV, lacked potential, I thought that maybe it was the time to start fresh. This became the driving force behind TCNG ver. 3.0 which I dub, NG-137 Synthetic Integration. A completely new name, for a revamp of the old one. If you want to read the old, horrible versions of TCNG and NG, you may do so by searching the Fanfiction section of PC using the search tool. I don’t recommend it though.
A few things have been changed in this version, but I doubt any of you actually care since the first and second version weren’t that developed to begin with. Let’s just hope that ver. 3.0 doesn’t suffer the same fate as NG and TCNG.
Disclaimer: The name Pokémon and the concept used in this work of fiction are rightfully owned by Gamefreak and its affiliates. Any similarities to other works of fiction, Fanfiction, and real life are purely coincidental and possibly already covered by TV Tropes.
Spiritual Disclaimer: All spiritually related events that are depicted in this piece of fiction do not necessarily reflect the author's spiritual and or religious beliefs, and may not be used to prosecute the author on accounts of heresy/sacrilege/shirk.
Special Thanks: To An-Chan(at the Sandbox BBS) for reviewing the preliminary version of the prologue, Haz, supporting me in the making of this fic, Solovino for showing a mild interest in the concept of this fic when he PM’d me for something else, Feign, Aviani, and ©eral Killer for reading the original, and finally Bay, Jax and Yuushin for helping with grammar directly and indirectly. It helped a lot guys. ;D XD
Rated: R for depictions of violence, and abstract scientific concepts, but mostly violence. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
noteNG-137 Synthetic Integration
Prologue – A Certain Demigod
Orange, molten rock slowly crept over the edge of the lava pool, the air around it shimmering with the stifling heat. Slowly, it receded back into the pool and repeated the process the same way the waves of the ocean lap against the shore. Rocks crumbled into the pool, were melted down, and were added to the already brimming amount of lava that tumbled around lazily in the crater. The air in the cave rose and fell according to the convection currents, and tiny particulates of carbon were carried up along with the draught as ash. Deep inside the molten rock, an entity, much larger than life slumbered peacefully in the endless ennui of the boiling heat, rocked to sleep by the convection currents of its own energy.
An assortment of activity pervaded the small portion of the world which the cave took up, but otherwise, the cave was considered static, and the only defining feature it had was the lava pool in the middle.
The cave and the pool, however, were far from unique. Around the island, dozens of similar lava pools were scattered in discrete locations, most of them untouched by the humans which the creature who inhabited the pools regarded as vermin.
The term creature was not the correct word. It would be wrong to call what inhabited the lava pools a mere creature for it was far more than that. The humans would have referred to it as a monster, the same way they referred to the rest of its kind, but it was, of course, far more than that. No, what inhabited the pool was neither a mere creature nor a monster of any kind. The correct term would have to be a regal one. In the language of humans, the term was Demigod. And that was true as it was a god, of sorts, to say the least.
Peacefully, the demigod slumbered under its warm blanket of lava until the moment in time when its father would call upon it. Its body was, at the same time, suspended in the molten rock and at the same time at home within it. The way in which it slept could almost have been called fetal, but that would have been insulting. Fetal was reserved for those creatures that had been born. A god cannot be born; a demigod similarly so. This demigod had been created, wrought from the very elements which served as the foundation of the universe. In turn, the demigod itself had also helped to carve a smaller world of its own, a miniature tribute to its father, and one which its father deemed necessary. This world was more accurately referred to as a planet, again, in the terms of humans. But what did they know? The demigod was far older than their entire race.
And so, as millions of years passed the demigod slept unhindered, resting for an eternity, dreaming of the miniature world it had helped create. Above it, the humans evolved, the legend of their demigod passed on by word of mouth until it soon became just a legend that was eventually forgotten.
But this did not anger the demigod. Why would he have needed the praises of the many creatures above him when it did nothing but fuel an unnecessary need that was pride? The humans could forget their demigod. It would try to forget them. Its father could have these humans and play his games; he would have none of it. Mutually, they would ignore each other and for millions of years they would co-exist in the same world. Peace.
An earth-shattering explosion shook the cave. Part of the rock that made up the western wall crumbled and fresh air flooded the chamber. Inside the lava pool, the demigod awakened, its eyes snapping open in anger. The grooves which ran through its rocky body glowed a deep red, it kicked the floor of the pool, and it began to rise to the surface. “Who would dare?” it thought angrily.
Just as the first bulge of molten rock appeared in the otherwise smooth pool, a flash of red was fired. The demigod broke free of the confines of the lava pool and gave a mighty roar whilst the lava dripped menacingly from its body, harming the demigod as much as water would harm a plant. Then, the flash of red made contact and the demigod vanished, its roar cut short by an eerie silence that was broken only by the crackling of the burning rocks. The lava which had clung to the demigod’s flesh fell back into the pool and cooled. And slowly, the fires which had kept the rock molten for millennia were doused and the only trace that remained of the demigod was the uneven crater that marked the cooling rock.
The first chapter has been updated.
Chapter 1 – Scientific Inspection
A gargantuan glass chamber in the general shape of a cylinder stood in the centre of the underground amphitheatre-like room. An slightly larger room, radius-wise, encircled the middle half of the glass chamber, and overlooked its base. Interlocking grids of steel criss-crossed the glass wall of the chamber to reinforce the security of the cage – if it could be called one. In the exterior room – or ring, dozens of computers, wide-screen monitors, and workstations were positioned in a circular arrangement around the glass. Scientists and researchers resided here; each of them performing their own work and research that eventually led to a bigger discovery when it was finally input into the computer after being processed by the scientists. However, as much as research was emphasized, there were strangely no physical equipment for the scientists to work with. Microscopes, chemicals, and everything that regular laymen had come to associate with a laboratory had been replaced with computerized equipment. All physical equipment was remotely controlled via the computers inside the lab to maximize efficiency.
In the glass cylinder that made up the bulk and centre of the larger chamber, cameras moved periodically on the steel grid, training their lenses everywhere, and covering every single spot in the interior. Computers examined the feed received from the cameras utilizing human-like artificial intelligence with their human counterparts, ensuring that human error did not become a contributing factor if the project were to somehow fail. In total, there were sixty cameras, thirty operators, and one large computer with the optimal amount of processing power needed to emulate at least sixty percent of the human brain’s thinking capacity. Currently however, the present focus that had at least twenty-five cameras trained on it at any given time was the centre of the chamber. Remarkable in its own right; the floor of the cylinder had sixteen, large, inward-pointing, triangular, heat-resistant floor tiles that ended in a medium sized circle that was set in the middle of the chamber. Large grooves in the floor –presumably tracks for a currently unknown mechanism— ran through the gaps in between the triangular floorboards. Seventeen long, high-tension wires were fixed halfway through the tracks on unusual devices that were currently bolted to the floor. The other ends of the seventeen shackles were less remarkable, as they were –to use the crude term— chained to the body of a young man that was standing in the middle of the circle.
This man, who was so integral to the success of the project, was known as number one-thirty-seven to the scientists. The name was not an aesthetic choice. It merely denoted that number one-thirty-seven was the first successful test subject in the line of thirty-six failures. Informally, he was known as number thirty-seven, omitting the 'one'.
On the subject's body, a steel helmet had been bolted tightly to his head. It was filled with all manner of equipment ranging from a plethora of wires that had been plugged into the casing to exposed transistors for easy maintenance. The helmet, which did more than rob him of his sight, monitored his eye movement, carotid artery blood pressure, jugular vein blood pressure, and all the six brainwave frequencies. His bare torso on the other hand, had been fitted with wires that stretched out to the top of the cavern where a large, upside-down, mechanical hemisphere was attached to the ceiling. Motors helped to jerk the wires out of one-thirty-seven’s body at a moment’s notice and a laser-guided, pneumatic firing system could shoot the wires back in with pinpoint accuracy.
His nails, which normally would have been the amber colour of keratin, were now a shiny grey colour that reflected light abnormally well. His entire body was riddled with plastic tubes and enamelled copper wires that jutted out clumsily from steel, port-like implants loosely embedded in his skin. His nether-regions were covered with a pair of black, loose boxers to spare the female scientists working on the project.
However, once you got past the wires and tubes, his body structure was not really that impressive. He was of a normal build and had dark red hair that fell down in split ends at the side of his scalp. His skin complexion was slightly darker than most Japanese males due to western ancestry, but he could still pass off as Japanese in most situations. Closer still, through the helmet, one would notice that he had dark green eyes that were barely noticeable in normal light, a sharp nose, and thin lips that gave the impression that he rarely smiled.
Of course, number one-thirty-seven was not left unsupervised. In the lab, one man, who was currently the least busy with research due to the fact that the departments supervision rested on his shoulders, watched over the subject with an impatient look playing upon his face. Dr. Sanosuke Kuroyama, Sano to his close friends, Sano-sen to his close colleagues, Kuro-sensei to his Japanese subordinates, and Dr. Kuroyama to his other subordinates, stared through the glass wall at the subject. He put one hand to the glass and looked intently at the one subject in the chamber. The hideous and complex system of wires that covered the subject was a work of art that only an engineer could appreciate. Dr. Kuroyama was not an engineer and he glared hatefully at the wires which obstructed what he called, 'a primary observation of the subject'.
Withdrawing his hand from the glass, he scratched his greying hair --which released a plume of dandruff into the air— and walked towards the coffee table at the end of the room. There, he took the jug that had been filled to the brim with a black viscous substance and poured it into a cup. Swishing the hot liquid in the cup slowly, he returned to his desk at one section of the room. The table, which was actually a metal counter affixed to the floor with its own inbuilt desktop, was packed with papers here and there. Computers were not his forte and attempts at learning how to use spreadsheets and databases had left him floundering. The obscene amount of written research notes on his desk coupled with statistical and hypothetical print-outs from his subordinates contrasted rather oddly with the clear workspace of the other desks in the room which, on average, had only a few scattered sheets of paper and a desktop computer.
“What now?” thought Dr. Kuroyama to himself. “We've extracted all possible data. Is there nothing more to do than re-analyze our findings?” Dr. Kuroyama sipped the black liquid and gagged. “Kona Coffee!” He hated the taste of the imported, Hawaiian Kona Coffee. His co-workers might have liked the putrid black liquid, but he absolutely despised it. Why did they have to import it anyway? Most of them were Japanese so what was wrong with some tea? Traditional yes, but also relaxing. If the department head didn’t like it what was the point. Admittedly, it was pretty selfish reasoning, but he was, at heart, a pretty selfish person.
As the minute hand on the clock made its way to the number twelve, monotony was broken as the steel blast doors that served as the entrance to the Jupiter Ring –the name of the lab-- began to slowly slide open. Dr. Kuroyama hated that door. It was slow and it was a hassle for only one person to go through it at any given time. From the sounds of it, there was only one person. Dr. Kuroyama groaned inwardly, reclined back in his seat and massaged his temple. It was not that he had a headache or anything, it was just an odd quirk he had when he was annoyed. Not waiting for the door to open completely, a man in a black, two-piece suit wearing a beret barged impatiently into the room. All the typing, clicking, and muted whisperings ceased as the man with a shiny red ‘R’ pinned to his top looked around the room. On his belt, two black and white spheres were nestled comfortably on his left alongside a threatening black pistol. Finding what he was looking for, the Rocket Grunt walked towards one section of the room.
“Kuroyama-sensei, you’re wanted sir,” he said blithely, with a slight smirk playing on his face.
Dr. Kuroyama opened one eye and stared at the Rocket Grunt dubiously. He sighed then got up. “The rest of you, stop staring and get back to work,” he said tiredly to his subordinates. “Dr. Lievrick, you’re to take charge of the operation in my absence.”
A brown haired, bespectacled man stood up and turned to the rest of the room. “You heard Kuro-sensei, get back to work!”
Dr. Kuroyama followed the grunt outside the room as the door closed slowly behind them. They walked briskly through several steel and concrete corridors until they reached a pair of glass doors –the entrance to the conference room. Through the transparent, glass, double-doors, he could clearly see that the entire board of the NG facility had gathered around the rectangular table situated inside the room. Stars could be seen clearly through the window to the right of the room. Dr. Kuroyama knew that this was one of only five rooms in the facility that had a window. He pushed upon the double doors and admitted himself in.
“Ah, Dr. Kuroyama, so glad you could make it,” said a black haired man sitting at the left of the empty main chair.
“It’s not like I actually have a choice do I?” replied Dr, Kuroyama grumpily. “Do you know what time it is?”
“Apparently, you don’t?” said the man questioningly. “Sir,” he added as an afterthought.
Dr. Kuroyama frowned and took his seat at the main chair of the table. Protocol dictated that the highest-ranking member currently present in the facility was to be seated at the main chair of any staff meeting. Since the Research and Development branch took precedence over the economic and military branches, Dr. Kuroyama, as the acting head of the R&D, was effectively the highest-ranking member currently attending the staff meeting.
“So what’s this about?” asked Dr. Kuroyama.
The black-haired man frowned. “Doctor, surely you didn’t forget?”
“Out with it Hideyoshi,” spat Dr. Kuroyama impatiently.
“The CEO, he’s here. He arrived quite a while ago if I'm not mistaken.”
Dr. Kuroyama’s frown turned into a look of genuine surprise. “And why was I not informed of this?”
“We assumed you knew, because Phineas,” he jerked his thumb rudely towards a grey-haired man sitting on one of the chairs, “posed the issue in the meeting last week in response to the e-mail from the main headquarters.”
Dr. Kuroyama groaned. How could he have forgotten this crucial detail? “Were there any orders?” asked Dr. Kuroyama.
“Just two. He said to instigate the third scientific protocol and,” he turned to Phineas, “to begin the fifth martial protocol.”
Sergeant Phineas Giles stood up. “That soon?” All eyes turned to Phineas. No one questioned an order from the top. Realizing his embarrassing --and hopefully non-fatal— mistake, he sat back down, dug out his mobile phone, and began conversing hurriedly to his subordinates in hushed tones. His role as the military general of the NG facility could not be taken lightly.
Following Phineas’ lead, Dr. Kuroyama fished out his own phone from his pocket and called Dr. Lievrick who was in the Jupiter Ring.
“Hello? Lievrick? Begin the ‘IS’ protocol,” a pause, “then just increase the anesthesia!” another pause, “No, no I… fine. In that case we’ll have to bring him to oversee the operation… yes he’s a scientist! What the hell do you think that doctorate was for?” Dr. Kuroyama ended the call and furiously stuffed his phone back into his pocket. Then, he massaged his temple once more and closed his eyes. “Lenold,” he said to another one of the board members at the table, “get Dr. Amadeus to meet me in the hall. I’ll escort him to the lab; we need his expertise.”
The man named Lenold, who at that moment had been staring out of the window minding his own business, looked up. “Yes sir,” he said. Not wanting one of the grunts to mess anything up, he personally went to fetch the CEO who was currently in his office.
Okay, I have one main question so far. Is number one-thirty-seven really a Pokémon? I’m just curious, because most subjects that seem to be experimented on and researched are actually Pokémon. At least, that’s what I’m basing my question on, from lots of other fan-fictions I’ve read. So yeah, my question may be stereotypical, but it’s only natural for me to think that.
Credit goes to Sgt Shock for my signature and avatar
Anyway, as stated in the fic, one-thirty-seven is a human, so called. I won't reveal what the twist is just yet(though people who read the old versions probably already know), but suufice to say that one-thirty-seven is mainly human.
I did read the fic. That's why I asked. And thanks for clarifying.
Credit goes to Sgt Shock for my signature and avatar
Chapter 2 is up. This has been rewritten.
Anyway, Chapter 2 is where the plot thickens.
Warning: Swear words so turn away if offended.
Chapter 2 – Virtue of the Master
(A.k.a. Waltz of Innocence.)
“Lenold Danvers,” said Dr. Amadeus without looking up from his work. “That is your name; am I right?”
Lenold Danvers, the current Assistant Manager to the Economic Branch of the NG Facility, stood warily at the mouth of the door that led into Dr. Amadeus’ office. His eyes aimlessly roamed the interior of the room; taking in the extraordinary sight that greeted him. The maroon colored carpeted floor, steel and concrete walls, oak furniture, gentle air-conditioning, and stacks upon stacks of papers lined up neatly on four desks positioned strategically inside the C.E.O.’s room gave it the exquisite appearance of a professional and comfortable workspace. This was in stark contrast to the rest of the facility, which was mostly lifeless steel with hardly any decorations. It was true that Dr. Amadeus had simple tastes, but the room, which seemed to belong to a different building entirely, screamed denial at this fact.
“Yes sir,” said Lenold nervously. The man who had previously been scanning the C.E.O.’s personal office looked up to the face of a weary old man, whose amber eyes and sharp facial features –in which wrinkles had started to appear— imparted upon the observers mind such a striking image that you wouldn’t have forgotten how he looked like. His icy, indifferent stare was strangely menacing; almost inhuman. Lenold swallowed nervously. “We wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important sir, but your expertise is needed by Dr. Sanosuke Kuroyama of the Research and Development Branch.”
Dr. Amadeus raised his bony fingers to his head and ran it through his hair in an attempt to tame the messy red tangle which sat upon his scalp. He stood up from his chair, and walked forward taking precise calculated steps through the lush, crimson carpeting. It was then that he noticed Lenold’s roaming eyes observing his office with interest. “Don’t judge a book by its cover, Lenold,” he said.
Startled, Lenold immediately focused his attention on Dr. Amadeus once more; abandoning his previous activity of the office’s scrutiny. “Sorry sir, I don’t quite understand.”
“You find my office to be lavish. I assure you however, it’s just a petty façade. The office was not of my design; merely a useless attempt by the designers to please the management. A waste of effort if you asked me.”
“I’m sor-“ began Lenold.
“Don’t apologize; it’s a waste of time, ” said Dr. Amadeus abruptly. “Now tell me, the economic department, how much space has been allotted for you there?”
“With all due respect sir, our working conditions are fine.”
“Is it now? Have you seen the lounge for the military department and the research department respectively?”
“How do you find them? A tad more extravagant I assume?”
“Do you find that this affects your efficiency?”
“Do you think your staff could work harder if its funding were on par with the other two departments?”
“I don't know, sir.”
Dr. Amadeus sighed. “You people are never honest with authority. You try too hard not to displease and at the same time you work less efficiently.” Shaking his head in disbelief, Dr. Amadeus grabbed his lab coat, which was conveniently hanging on a coat stand near the door, and proceeded to wear it above his normal white suit. The lab coat, which blended perfectly with Dr. Amadeus’ white suit, almost made it look like he was sporting a cape. He stalked out of his office through the doors that opened automatically for him and made motioned for Lenold to follow him. Dumbstruck, Lenold hurried after Dr. Amadeus.
The pair walked through the many corridors, lined with rooms dedicated to theoretical and experimental sciences, and soon arrived at the Main Hall of the facility. The Main Hall, which was decorated as blandly as the rest of the facility, had only two things thing with which to distinguish it from the rest, discounting its larger size. Firstly, it had a large plaque on the wall which announced the facility's name and secondly: a circular help desk at the centre.
“Amadeus-sensei,” Dr. Kuroyama began while walking forward; taking large steps which echoed in the silence of the hall. “We’ve been waiting for you.” He bowed slightly as was his custom and waited for Dr. Amadeus to reply.
“What’s this about then?” said Dr. Amadeus while motioning to Lenold that he could leave, “You’re having problems with number thirty-seven, Kuroyama-sensei?”
“Straight to the point I see,” thought Dr. Kuroyama. He bit his lip. “Well sir, he seems to be partially active. We’re afraid that he might somehow interfere with the stimulation procedure if he’s not sufficiently sedated.”
Dr. Amadeus started walking forward; evidently familiar with the layout of the facility enough to know where the Jupiter Ring was located. “Have you tried increasing the anaesthetic dosage?”
“Well no,” said Dr. Kuroyama defensively while walking forward; following Dr. Amadeus’ lead, “that much of anaesthetic might put him in an irreversible coma. We’re already stretching the boundaries while, and I emphasize while, taking into account the added mass from the initial ‘FI’ procedure. We’re practically pumping anaesthetic into his veins and arteries as if it were blood!”
“And how do you know that the subject would actually have such an adverse reaction?”
“I am a biologist sir. I’ve studied Pokémon for a long time. “
“Number one-thirty-seven is not a Pokémon, Kuroyama-sensei, he’s human.”
“I understand that sir, but the integration process will have changed that.”
“He hasn’t been fully integrated. They are still two entities. No more no less,” said Dr. Amadeus as he rounded a corner.
“This procedure is still experimental. We cannot just barge ahead with disregard for proper scientific method.”
“With the subject as he currently is, we cannot be certain that they're still two separate entities. There's the matter of cellular diffusion in between thirty-seven and the sample to be taken into consideration.”
“Did you take into consideration the fact that we're dealing with two, entirely different species. Not to mention that, even though they're both carbon-based, they have completely different cell structures and organisation.”
“Yes, I know all this, but as I've said, the method is purely experimental; as far as we know, the chances of a successful implantation are one to thirty-six based on our current statistics. Even those aren't reliable, and it takes considerable effort even for the first step.”
“You did run tests on Ratata to ascertain what would happen?”
“Yes. All the Ratata survived the procedure and have been eliminated.”
“Then what's the problem?”
“A Ratata is no substitute for a human, and they were relatively expendable. That said, from the Ratata experiments we've proven that a physical integration might work with a success rate of ninety-eight percent over five-hundred separate experiments. However, our thirty-six, other, human volunteers, who we tested the procedure upon, all died: suggesting that there's something wrong with using it on humans.”
“Manner of death?”
“We can't be sure, but upon observation, number thirty-two seemed to have undergone some kind of suicide?”
“Some kind of suicide?” said Dr. Amadeus curiously.
“Uncontrolled cell apoptosis coupled with abnormal thermal decomposition of certain chemical compounds. We suspect that the sample may be involved because of the thermal decomposition. No, we're almost sure it is involved.”
“What does this have to with suicide?”
“Two minutes before he, literally, exploded, there was a sudden spike in beta wave activity. That is to say, he was stressed. The chances are minute, but there is that possibility. Most other subjects recorded a similar spike, but we attributed it to the overload of the sensory array during the death of the subjects. Number thirty-two withstood it long enough for us to recognise it.”
“I suppose that number thirty-seven has none of these beta waves.”
“Well yes, but still, there are certain other anomalies in his brainwave patterns that we can't ignore.”
Dr. Amadeus smiled inwardly. “Such as?”
“Spikes in the frequencies of four to seven hertz: theta waves.”
“As you've stated, you're a biologist Kuroyama-sensei. Why would you think an increase in theta waves would be a problem?”
“I've consulted with Dr. Erik Schweill, our head neurologist, sir. He claims that the subject is repressing something.”
“We don't know.”
“Theta waves are highest where people are trying to repress responses, as Dr Schweill has rightly said. Given the circumstance, do you really find that to be so odd?”
“Repress responses from external stimuli or internal responses to external stimuli, yes. However, the subject has had no external stimuli applied to him in over eleven months. All that we've done has been to prepare him for the implantation and stimulation procedure.”
“Your worry is unwarranted. We can expect him to be fighting back the anaesthesia.”
“That's a physical stimulus.”
“And yet, we have-”
“You!” Dr. Amadeus was cut off by a loud scream at the end of the corridor.
Startled, he turned around to face the source of the noise and was confronted by a thin, black-haired woman in a lab coat whom had her arm raised high. He reached hurriedly for the butterfly knife he kept in his pocket for safety, but was to slow to react. The woman’s outstretched palm came into contact with the side of his face, and he fell down to the ground in shock; the butterfly knife falling out of his pocket and sliding to a halt on the floor a few centimeters away. The black-haired woman stood angrily in the centre of the corridor, shaking with rage. Her lips were pressed together tightly and her eyes stared accusingly at Dr. Amadeus.
A moment of stunned silence passed before any of the three spoke. Dr. Amadeus blinked in astonishment a few times at the woman towering over him; Dr. Kuroyama staring aghast at the behaviour of one of his subordinates. “Bastard!” she screamed loudly.
“Mikan, what the hell are you doing?” shouted Dr. Kuroyama as he stooped down to help up Dr. Amadeus.
Dr. Amadeus pushed aside Dr. Kuroyama roughly and stood up under his own power, picking up his balisong in the process. He rubbed his cheek and mouth softly with his left hand then pocketed the knife. “What idiot gave the green light for this ***** to be hired here?” he said seethingly.
“*******,” she hissed, ignoring his previous statement. “I always knew there was something wrong with you. What Mori ever saw in you I’ll never know.”
“Mikan, calm down,” said Dr. Kuroyama with authority. “Can’t we be civilized about this? Whatever it is Dr. Amadeus did to you, I’m sure we can settle this-“
“Wha- what he did to me!” she shouted exasperatedly, “he’s using Phaiel as a test subject! That is sick! That’s just plain wrong!” She jabbed her finger rudely towards Dr. Amadeus a few times to get her point across.
“Fa-yel?” said Dr. Kuroyama uncertainly. “Do you mean number thirty-seven? Why of course, it’s all standard procedure. I do admit that using humans is unethical, but we must have allowances for the natural progression of science.”
“Science? What the hell does this have to do with science?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re getting at Mikan-san.”
“Enough, Kuroyama,” said Dr. Amadeus abruptly, “get to the ring. These are my matters.”
“But-“ Dr. Amadeus turned and fixed his icy cold gaze upon Dr. Kuroyama, interrupting his sentence. This time, the usually calm, indifferent, amber colored gaze was filled with pure anger and loathing. Whether the hatred was directed at himself or Mikan, Dr. Kuroyama never found out because he ran to the lab without another word.
“What of Raphael as my test subject,” said Dr. Amadeus once Dr. Kuroyama was out of earshot, “he’s been the only successful one so far.” Dr. Amadeus smoothed down his white labcoat and looked half-heartedly at Mikan as though she were a boring article in a newspaper that he was forced to read.
Mikan took Dr. Amadeus’ obliviousness towards her plight as an intentional insult or as the fact that he really didn’t care. Regardless, her lower eyelid twitched --one of her natural reflexes to rising stress, her jaw dropped slightly in disbelief, and she raised her hand to slap Dr. Amadeus once more. This time however, he caught her wrist in mid-air as her arm began to rise. Dr. Amadeus stared into her eyes uncaringly.
“Explain, Mikan,” said Dr. Amadeus. “What is so wrong with making Raphael my test subject.”
She wrested her arm roughly from his surprisingly strong grip. “Are you such a complete monster that you can't even see what's wrong with making that boy one of your, so called, tests?” she said angrily.
“No, I don't see anything wrong.”
She stared at him in complete disbelief. “Do I... do I need to spell it out for you?” she shouted.
“I'd rather you not. I have places to be and things to do. Unlike you: evidently content to while away the hours stalking the corridors shouting and assaulting personnel. Also, I know how completely oblivious you are when it comes to something other than your work, but please do not shout. I can hear you just fine.”
“I'll shout however the hell much I want to shout! Is there something completely wrong with you that you don't see anything wrong with doing what you're doing here?”
She screamed in frustration and stalked off. As she left, she turned to face the departing Dr. Amadeus and shouted, “One way or another, Phaiel's getting out of there! You, on the other hand, are a complete and utter monster. When I get out of here, Mori's going to hear about this.” She turned a corner in the corridor to avoid any possible backlash from Dr. Amadeus and leaned tiredly on the white wall of the corridor. Her eyes gazed unblinkingly at the ceiling as she held back frustrated tears. It didn't work. A slight, and slow, stream of tears made its way down her face and she sobbed quietly to herself. She wiped the sleeve of her labcoat against her face and it came off wet with her salty tears.
Despite having being working for the NG Facility for a whole year, she couldn’t be blamed for her apparent hypocrisy. She had no idea that the current test subject had been Phaiel. In fact, the three laboratories in the facility, namely the Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune Ring had little to no personnel contact in between them. It was a practical manoeuvre by the upper management to ensure that each and every one of its employees were specialized in their specific task and wouldn’t delve into the work of the other staff. Even staff interaction was kept at minimal.
Mikan, for instance, worked in the Neptune Ring, the smallest of the three laboratories. The only work she knew was the testing of the FemtoIntegration method on live Ratata. Even though, it was unethical in its own right, since Pokémon experimentation was outlawed, Mikan was the type of person who believed in science. This of course, had greatly shocked Dr. Kuroyama because he who had once talked to Mikan, would be surprised as to why she of all people would act so adversely to human experimentation.
Dr. Amadeus, thoroughly disgruntled at being assaulted by one of his employees, walked in a huff to the Jupiter Ring. “What a waste of time,” he thought to himself.
Reaching the steel blast doors, he waited impatiently as the door mechanism opened. A camera that was linked to a computer with the latest in facial-recognition scrutinized Dr. Amadeus’ face and activated the door opening mechanism.
As it opened every face in the Jupiter Ring Laboratory’s first section –the one that was in visible range of the door— turned to greet their boss, Dr. Amadeus, C.E.O. of the Infinity Conglomerate. Dr. Kuroyama, visibly shaken by the previous incident, shuddered to think of what the repercussions would be on Mikan’s case. Nonetheless, he proceeded to act dignified in front of the C.E.O. and more so in front of his staff.
“Dr. Amadeus, we’ve been awaiting your arrival,” he said courteously.
“The subject is in the cage, I suppose?” replied Dr. Amadeus. He had regained his previously calm demeanour and was now walking about the lab, observing the computing equipments and casually staring at the LCD displays on the wall. It might not have seemed like much, but he actually did take in everything he saw. Every bit of information that reached his eyes was memorized.
“Yes sir,” came the succinct response from Dr. Kuroyama.
“Was the hatch to the core installed as per the blueprints?”
Hearing this, Dr. Amadeus walked to one of the computers in the technical section, motioned the current user away, and began to input his own commands into the computer. The complex method employed to open one of the most dangerous parts of the Jupiter Ring was obviously necessary. If the trigger mechanism were a mere lever or switch, it would be easy for one careless employee to accidentally prompt the release of the test subject.
“Sir, you intend to descend into the core?” asked a computer technician.
“Yes,” Dr. Amadeus said coolly, “do you have a problem with that?”
“Pardon my brash behaviour, but it’s dangerous sir. What possible reason could you have to want to see one-thirty-seven when the cameras in the chamber provide a sufficient picture of every possible condition in which the subject is in. You don’t even have to be there.”
“This is my operation. I have the right to see the fruits of my labour.” He pressed the ‘enter’ button on the keyboard, and a hatch, with a width of two normal people, opened with a pneumatic hiss at the observation area of the ring, revealing a staircase that spiralled downwards, wrapped around the bottom half of the cylindrical cage, and led into a door that opened into the interior chamber. “Izanagi, Dr. Kuroyama, follow me into the chamber.”
At the edge of the blast doors in which the coffee table was situated, a man in a black suit, that no one had noticed earlier, leant on the wall, sipping a cup of coffee. At the order from Dr. Amadeus, he had gently replaced the cup and walked forward calmly. While he strode forward, his hand wandered aimlessly around his waist –a subconscious habit he had picked up— and felt the comforting metallic handle of his .45 caliber pistol.
“Sir,” he said loudly while saluting. Izanagi’s expression showed that he was as alert as ever. It might have partly been because of the coffee, but most who knew Izan personally were always aware that he was perpetually alert.
The three men then descended into the large stairway and finally arrived in the large, and refrigerated chamber that held one-thirty-seven. A neutralizing spray and ultraviolet light hit the three of the right before they entered the frigid chamber to decontaminate their bodies. Immediately, they felt the temperatures plummet. Izanagi Yamada struggled to keep warm by rubbing his arms together, as did Dr. Kuroyama. Dr. Amadeus on the other hand, calmly strolled forward as if nothing had happened. A detached part of his mind was, for an instant, reminded of Switzerland.
He sidestepped the plethora of wires on the floor and ducked under the large cables that kept the subject restrained to the centre of the chamber. He reached the subject that was standing partially hunched over and gazed intently at the tangle of wires and tubes that stretched to the ceiling high above. This was the result of eight billion yen in research. For a moment, a small smile of triumph showed upon his face, but that was quickly replaced by a slight grimace and a return to his regular composure.
“All according to plan,” he muttered.
He took out the butterfly knife from his pocket, and used it to adjust a trimmer potentiometer located at the side of the subject’s helmet. Checking to see that the wires were properly attached to the helmet, Dr. Amadeus pocketed the knife.
“I’m done here,” he said to Dr. Kuroyama. He gestured towards Izanagi who was leaning on the steel mesh that were the tracks of the camera mechanism to leave. Izanagi walked forward and followed Dr. Amadeus up the stairs. The door to the chamber promptly sealed itself once more and a cold silence fell once more upon the inner chamber.
I post every chapter to the series from a day to a week earlier at the Sandbox BBS.
Warning: Swear Words as usual. Also, some gore so turn away if offended. Obviously, it's not the best gore, but it's sufficient for this chapter. :D
Chapter 3 – Persecution of the Mighty
(A.k.a. I hear it in the deep heart’s core.)
The Hoenn region of Japan boasts an excellent road and highway network that makes up almost eighty percent of its transportation infrastructure. While the trainer paths of days gone by are still intact and in use for the typical trainer on a quest, most of the population currently make full use of the paved, tarmac roads that criss-cross through Hoenn. Cars, which were a rarity ten years ago, even with most of the modern world using them, now litter the streets of modern Hoenn and are the favourite current mode of transportation. Not to say that the past ten years of rapid modernization were primitive, but with the advent of cheap hydrogen extraction, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Motorcars, now in compliance with the Second Kyoto Protocol, have hit the streets of Japan like the anthropomorphic Hello Skitty did to the Millennium Generation of Japanese girls. Now, five in ten families own two cars and almost ninety-four percent of the Hoenn population own at least one Hydrogen powered vehicle. Cars of course, do cause problems with traffic from time to time, especially when you consider that the Japanese rail system did not extend into Hoenn and thus negated the government motion for a Hoenn rail system. Even a light rail system was out of the question since the island region already had such an established road network.
All in all, that fact was what made it an odd sight to see a gasoline powered Motorcar running down the Highway spewing noxious carbon monoxide and soot out from its exhaust and into the atmosphere. The black coloured BMW, an antique –relatively speaking-- built over six years ago, had been heavily modified and had no hydrogen-powered components to speak off. It had a shiny, night-black hood, and its chassis was streaked with scratches here and there. The windows were heavily tinted to avoid prying eyes, the wheels of the car were worn, as if they hadn’t been changed in a few good years, and some of the hubcaps were missing. Actually, it was almost as if the owner of said vehicle was only able to afford a good wax for his car rather than the servicing it clearly needed.
The car turned and exited the highway just before the 47th Exit –RB1— and found itself on one of the older roads, built in the early days of the Modernization Movement. The road was uneven, potholed, and littered with the mulch of the autumn leaves that had been subjected to vast amounts of cold rain mixed with the mud from the ground. The trees that lined the road cast soft shadows onto the tarmac as light filtered through the branches. Still, the car ran on: ignorant of such trivial matters. One more turn and there it was: the small concrete parking lot situated at the foot of Mount Chimney. The black automobile grinded to a halt haphazardly on the concrete and a red haired man in a black suit stepped out of the car. He was young, a mere thirty years old, rich, and powerful. However, his wealth and power were right now the reason he had been dragged into this. How had it come down to this, the mighty Team Rocket of the Kanto and Johto underground, reduced to being a mere confidential partner for the large Infinity Conglomerate. It was this oversight that had lead him to ridicule by his father’s old officer, Domino.
He cursed and spat on the ground, remembering this fact. After him, his chauffeur and current secretary, Marcus Williams, stepped out of the front seat of the car. Among most of the Team Rocket employees, Marcus was undoubtedly the most loyal. He would gladly take a bullet for his leader and had been known to personally oversee the preparations of his boss' meals personally. Marcus was the archetypical example of a loyal employee in every way.
“Silver sir,” said Marcus tersely, “I believe these are the coordinates, but there seems to be nothing here.” Marcus took look around the woodland surrounding. No welcoming party, no sign showing the way to the meeting point, and no direct entrance to anything. “Do you think that it’s a sting operation sir?” said Marcus cautiously.
“Unlikely,” snorted Silver, “the NPA doesn’t have any dirt on Team Rocket.”
“Yes but the Infinity Conglomerate does.”
Silver rolled his eyes. “Just you wait Marc, that sly bastard Amadeus should be here to greet us soon. He and his precious Infinity Conglomerate, can go get stuffed.” Silver looked up into the sky of the evening sun absentmindedly, whilst shielding his eyes from the glare with his hand, and breathing in the cold winter air. Surprisingly though, it hadn’t snowed this year. None whatsoever. Maybe it was for the best? Possibly? No one liked snow. Did they? His brief thoughts on nature, however, were cut short as a loud bang resounded through the forest and the whistling sound of a bullet whooshing through the air caught him by surprise. Silver turned his head just in time as the lead projectile lightly grazed his outstretched arm.
“Aargh!” he shouted. He cursed as he fell onto the road; clutching his bloody hand. Blood dripped steadily from the bullet wound and he quickly brought his arm to his shirt to stem the bleeding. The gleaming crimson liquid stained his black-coloured suit and caused it to dampen in a few places.
“Sir,” shouted Marcus while rushing to Silver’s side; pulling out a gun. He brought his pistol up and desperately looked around for Silver’s would-be assassin.
“Come with me,” came a sudden voice from the woods.
Somewhat shocked, Marcus aimed his pistol at the woods where he had heard the voice. “Who’s there?” he shouted confidently.
In response to Marcus’ question a lone figure emerged from the woods; holding a smoking handgun.
“Identify yourself,” Marcus shouted again; his eyes on the man’s gun.
“Commander General Shi of the Armed Terra Forces Division of the Infinity Conglomerate,” said the man in the black suit. “Under the order from Dr. Amadeus, chairman of the Infinity Conglomerate, you will come with me so I may escort you to the facility.” Shi bowed slightly and tilted his head a degree as Marcus pulled the trigger of his own gun. The bullet whistled past Shi’s head and embedded itself into a tree. “I’d advise that you refrain from shooting me. I’m an incredibly accurate shot and it would be a terrible waste of man-power if you two were to somehow die.”
“Like Hell you are!” shouted Silver as he desperately tried to stem the bleeding on his hand, “Marcus, kill him.”
“Understood,” said Marcus. He brought his pistol up to chest height and cocked the gun, setting the bullet into place.
In response to the duo's disbelief of his claims, Shi stepped out of the shadows of the forest and into the sun. There, the light shone brightly as it caught on the green, silver, and gold star on his uniform collar. Marcus’ eyes widened as his sight fell on the glistening, silvery-green badge pinned upon Shi’s shirt collar. He lowered his gun and left his mouth agape. “I can’t sir, he’s the real deal. There’s the ten point star on his collar right there and everything.”
“Then why the **** did he fire at me! Aren’t I an ally of your ****ing Infinity ****?”
Shi brought the gun up and aimed it at Silver. “Another crack like that and I’ll make sure to aim at your mouth Silver-dono.”
“What about my hand!” shouted Silver; undeterred by the muzzle of the silver pistol pointed directly at his face.
“It’s a flesh wound, if we’re fast enough we can get it treated in the facility. After the meeting.”
“After! It’s my freaking-“ he was cut off as Shi cocked the gun.
“I insist you come with me,” said Shi quietly.
“Sir, I don’t think he’s messing around,” said Marcus. “Allow me to assist you with the treatment sir.” He pulled a roll of cloth out from his brown jacket and wrapped it around Silver’s hand, making a makeshift bandage. “That should hold the bleeding for now.”
Silver stood up under his own power as Shi turned to lead the way.
“Wait, why did you actually shoot me?” said Silver through gritted teeth; trying to control his mounting anger.
“Sir,” Marcus began, but Silver quieted him with a wave of his hand.
Shi stopped and said, “Because your previous words of offence towards the CEO show that you lack enthusiasm for the Conglomerate. This is base treachery.”
“Wait, wait, wait, as the Leader of Team Rocket, I’m a superior, board member of the Conglomerate. You, you’re just a ten point whatever. You can’t go around ****ing shooting board members now can you?” said Silver triumphantly with the smile one wears when one has blackmail in one’s mind.
Shi turned and fixed his calm gaze upon Silver. “No,” he said coolly, “I am the Commander General of the Armed Terra Forces. This makes me one of the three leaders of the exterior military force. You,” spat Shi; his face showing disdain at implying Silver’s existence, “are just an underground member of the Infinity Conglomerate based in Kanto and to a certain extent, in Johto. In Hoenn however, you hold no power save for your market interests. Here, I am your superior.”
Silver stared dumbstruck at how the balance of power had suddenly shifted drastically to Shi. He sighed resignedly and began to follow Shi into the forest. Marcus trailed behind; his previous enthusiasm having been soured by the incident.
“Was it really necessary to play with him like that?” asked Rin cheerfully as she bent down to get some water from the cooler. Rin, who was frequently known as the most cheerful, or friendly, of the three commanders, was also a valuable asset towards maintaining the morale of the troops in the army. Nevertheless, this was not the reason as to why she was promoted to a ranking of such high distinction.
Shi, who at that moment had been busy reading The Yomiuri Shimbun –Hoenn’s most prominent newspaper and one of the five most distinguished in Japan, looked up; his eyes focused and face as expressionless as always. “Silver-dono’s ego in itself was a threat to the conglomerate.” He didn’t bother to ask how she knew what he had done outside while fetching Silver. He already knew that news always managed to reach Rin in one form or another; especially if that news involved a board member arriving for a meeting with a bandaged hand.
“Ego? He couldn’t have been that bad could he? I mean, you really didn’t need to shoot him.”
“I have my reasons.”
“Such as?” interjected Izan who had just entered the room.
Shi stared at the clock that hung on the wall. “Five more minutes; then I can tell you.”
The Jupiter Ring, which had been packed with scientists and technicians just the other day, was now filled with a handful of senior scientists and the core board members of the Infinity Conglomerate. In one way or another, these members had all joined the Conglomerate willingly, by blackmail, through the commercial process of being bought over, or through a willingful merger. All in all, there were six major members of the Infinity Conglomerate’s Board of Directors, all of them present and accounted for. The first, and most prominent member as well as the current acting C.E.O, chairman and founder was of course, Dr. Amadeus. His former company, the DeusAm Research and Development Enterprise was the first company to instigate the nationwide merger with the rest of Japan’s main companies and one which indirectly influenced Japan’s economy from the exterior. All other members below Dr. Amadeus were more or less equal. In no particular order, they were Richard Daemon; the founder of Daemon Incorporated, Steven Stone; the current successor of the Devon Corporation, Ryoutaro Silph; owner of the Silph Corporation, Idante Rydel; founder of the Rydel Motorworks Corporation, Silver; current leader of Team Rocket, and Eliza Reesent; founder of the newly established Team Hydra.
Of all the members present, the youngest of them all was Eliza. She had black hair which she had dyed blue in certain places and a regularly bored look upon her face. Both her hands were casually inserted into her pocket and in her mouth was a breath-mint; ones she had recently become addicted to, much to the chagrin of Ai Shinozaki, her legal guardian. It would be normal to think that Ai was the one who held all the power within Team Hydra using the woman-behind-the-throne method, but the converse was also true. Everything that went on in the structure of Team Hydra was made known to Eliza. Eliza was the one who controlled every aspect of the syndicate. Ai was, as some put it, akin to a butler or a maid in her case. She was the one who was in charge of the technical aspects of the Team and was more of an invisible, if not influential, member of Team Hydra.
“Gentlemen,” began Dr. Amadeus courteously, “and Lady,” he added as Eliza crunched the mint loudly in her mouth with her eyes fixed on Dr. Amadeus. “We have convened here today to witness an epic revolution in the field of Pokémon Communication and Linguistics.” The silence was broken as Eliza took out another mint from her box. “The NG facility, the third most important research facility in the Hoenn region, has finally managed to perfect the Pokémon communication device. Something that the Devon Corporation failed to do I might add.” Dr. Amadeus said this while slyly looking at Steven who stared back seethingly.
Steven Stone, who had recently inherited the Devon Corporation from his recently decease father, had unfortunately received another great blow to his mental stability when one day, a government official from Tokyo showed up at Devon HQ and issued a government order for the merger of the Devon Corporation into the Infinity Conglomerate. “Merger?” thought Steven after reading through the terms of the agreement, “more like absorption.” The only other viable option besides a merger would have to be the revocation of the Devon Corporations licenses and the suspension of all further patents. With that, the Devon Corporation giant, succumbed to the many far-reaching tentacles of the Infinity Conglomerate. To this day, Steven still hadn’t figured out how Dr. Amadeus had managed to pull this off.
“Is this really such a big deal?” said Eliza.
“Ma’am, the chairman is speaking,” said Ai. “Do continue doctor, sir.”
“As you may or may not know,” continued Dr. Amadeus from where he left off, “Pokémon Linguistics is an extremely difficult venture due to the absurd amount of Pokémon in existence. Of course, communication of this kind would have to be universal for it to be useful and therefore would have to be based on emotional readings and the actual meaning behind what the Pokémon in question is actually trying to convey. This of course, is also difficult as no proper methods for reading emotions has ever been developed. The Devon Corporation, in its idiocy, did not do this. Instead, it set out to translate every single syllable pronounced by all hundreds of different species of Pokémon. An incredibly foolish venture if you ask me.” By this point, Steven was practically shaking with rage.
“This sounds like a Babelfish,” said Richard Daemon in jest.
“A what?” inquired Dr. Amadeus politely.
“It’s from the Hitchi- never mind.”
“As I was saying,” said Dr. Amadeus, “the process is extremely difficult and to date, the underlying theory behind Pokémon linguistics is still arbitrary and convoluted at best. An efficient translator would have to have a fast enough processor to decipher, and filter all the information fed into it by an aural source, as opposed to a visual stimulus or through typing it on a keyboard. Obviously, it is extremely difficult to build. Nevertheless, after months of research, we at the NG have finally managed to build it. In the chamber behind me,” said Dr. Amadeus as he pointed to the interior chamber, “is the integration section where the product will enter its final phase of completion. It is still a limited prototype, however.”
“Integration?” said Richard Daemon. “Don’t you mean construction?”
“No, he means fusing. It has something to do with fusing one material into another or something,” interjected Naritai Silph.
“What does that have to do with the thing? Why was I called to see the assembly of a prototype? If it’s not the testing then I’m not interested.”
“Mr. Daemon, the manufacturing process is just as important as the testing. There are times when the board members must view the process.”
“Gentlemen, you speak as if the device is a m-,” said Dr. Amadeus.
“Boring!” shouted Eliza loudly. Every head in the Ring turned to look at Eliza. Excluding Dr. Amadeus and Ai, no one could really reprimand Eliza. Even though she was relatively still a child, she was the leader of a dangerous underground organization. Something that even the public was unaware of.
“Eliza!” shouted Ai at Eliza exasperatedly.
“Where’s the experiment thingy. One something or another,” said Eliza as she pushed forward to the circular glass wall.
“Eliza wait!” said Ai, but she was ignored.
Dr. Amadeus smiled as he waited for her reaction. She looked down from the curved window and her breath caught in her throat. Down in the chamber, the solitary test-subject, one-thirty-seven, stood still. “It’s a man?”
“A human?” said Steven Stone noisily, “You’re planning to use a human to communicate to Pokémon? I would’ve thought that you created a machine or something. Certainly something more complicated than this.” Steven Stone smiled sardonically at Dr. Amadeus; tempting a backlash. It was one of the many ways he used to get his revenge on the man who had practically stripped his company of its identity.
“Silence, Mr. Stone,” said Dr. Amadeus menacingly. “This human, as you so bluntly put it, is the result of millions that were poured into research. Furthermore, he houses the most complicated mechanism known to man: the human brain. Apart from being a practical translator, he’s the one that the government is planning to use to spearhead the Avalon Program.”
“The Avalon Program?” said Richard Daemon in a noticeably Western accent, “what’s that?”
“It’s the use of Pokémon in modern warfare Mr. Daemon,” said Naritai Silph, “The Silph Corporation was involved in the project before our merger with the conglomerate. The name itself is misleading to avoid information leakage.”
“Wait, you’re planning on war with the United States?” said Mr. Daemon as he reached for his cell phone, “I’m not getting involved in this.”
“I wish you’d stop jumping to conclusions,” said Idante Rydel exasperatedly as he stepped out of the background, “This is a joint venture in between the United States and Japan. It’s completely confidential of course, the United Nations is completely unaware and only the top members of the companies directly involved in the program know of it. Suffice to say, Mr. Daemon, you have not been informed till now for this very reaction which you have given us.”
Richard Daemon relaxed and let his arm fall to his side. “Then there’s no harm done then.”
“Well put, Mr. Rydel. You’re much wiser than your father,” commented Dr. Amadeus. “As stated, one-thirty-seven is going to be conscripted into the Avalon Program after the integration procedure is completed. It is necessary for the subject to be fused with a Pokémon for the translation to be successful. This has of course, some very interesting projected side-effects that the government finds useful for the Avalon Program.”
“So what Pokémon is it then?” said Richard Daemon, “And what’s with the mostly empty room if this is such a momentous occasion?”
“Unlike the monitoring of the subject, we don’t need as many staff to deal with this. Also, they would just slow down the procedure; we don't need unnecessary clapping from scientists who are overproud of themselves. As for what Pokémon is being used here today, the details regarding the actual process are still a DeusAm trade secret gentlemen so I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t ask. If you’d start the process, Kuroyama-sensei?”
“Sirs, I’d advise you to wear these tinted-goggles as the light produced by the operation is extremely bright,” said Dr. Kuroyama as an attendant stepped forward with a box of goggles. Everyone reached out to grab their own.
“Wait,” began Silver who had been hovering in the background and who had yet to put on his own goggles, “why are we here? Usually board members only get to see the finished product. Since when are company executives invited to see the stuff being made?” Silver frowned. Something wasn’t right with this set-up.
“Five,” began Dr. Kuroyama as he put on his goggles. “Four.”
“Wait, you haven’t answered my question,” said Silver. Unluckily for him, the machinery that made up the bulk of the inner chamber and the massive computers in the outer ring, had begin to make the loud humming noise that was usually associated with the sound of the internal processors of a computer. Coupled with the sound of the gears working in the actual inner chamber, the noise it made was deafening, but tolerable.
“Damn,” said Silver as he hastily adjusted his goggles.
“Damn it, why won’t these come on properly!”
“One!” With that decisive syllable, Dr. Kuroyama pressed the enter key on his keyboard relaying the pre-set commands displayed on screen to the internal computer which then transferred it to the output devices.
And then, a scream that was drowned out by the sound of the machines.
The steel helmet that usually encased number one-thirty-seven’s head disconnected with a hiss that came from the pneumatics of the helmets mechanism. In that instance, the warm air that had been trapped inside flooded out of the space to be replaced with the frigid air of the cylinder. And, in that single moment, number one-thirty-seven, his eyes opened, saw for an instant, a mesh of steel wires, and then light. A completely bright, white light that encompassed his entire area; obstructing his field of view to a mere few inches in front of him. He noticed that a faint white mist had also accompanied the light, in effect reflecting the light substantially and exaggerating its brightness.
His irises contracted to a hundredth of an inch to allow a minuscule amount of light to enter and not damage his retina. It was enough for the time being and his eyes adjusted quickly. As the anaesthetic began to wear off he found his human curiosity and awareness returned; he started to explore. He carefully felt around his body as he gradually built up a mental picture for what was happening around him. The first thing he noticed was that he was completely immobile, something that the restraints he felt on his wrists and ankles had something to do. A more thorough visual exploration noted that metal clamps held his wrists and feet firmly to the ground. Though he could not see for more than a few metres around him, he assumed that the metal cables attached to the clamps stretched out and connected to elsewhere in the cavern. Secondly, the air in the direct vicinity surrounding one-thirty-seven was cold. He deduced this not from the feel of the cold air on his skin, rather the slight condensation of air that escaped his nostrils and mouth alerted him to this fact. Mentally, however, despite the confined area, one-thirty-seven was feeling completely at peace.
One-thirty-seven's scrutiny was cut short as his sense of sound returned to him and his ears could detect the cacophony of sounds that emanated from his surroundings. Whirrings, hummings, beepings, echoed around the emptiness of the chamber. He wasn’t annoyed though. His mind was floating in a sea of ennui without a care in the world. What did sounds that were so trivial do to distract him?
No wait. He turned again to his body, his mental alertness returning much more slowly than his other senses, what were these things on his body? He moved his eyes in their sockets a fraction and glanced downwards almost lazily. Tubes? Transparent, durable latex tubes attached to tungsten syringes that penetrated his skin were had been injected at various points along his body, like leeches latching onto his figure. They didn’t look like they had anything in them though. He could, however, definitely feel something entering his body. Or was it exiting?
“Amadeus-sensei,” said Dr. Kuroyama through his headphones.
“Reading you loud and clear,” replied Dr. Amadeus through his own pair.
“You realize that while the integration is going on, we cannot carry out readings on the subject’s brain activity, nor on the subject’s vital signs. All our equipment was in the Rostral Unit and we need to remove that to avoid any accidental fusion or damage to the equipment.”
“Of course, I planned it didn’t I.”
“Then you see no risk?”
Dr. Kuroyama moved to loosen the crick in his neck and something caught his eye. “Sir, is that Silver-sama on the floor at the back?”
Dr. Amadeus turned and craned his neck to look closer at the mass of black clothing on the floor behind him. A flash of red hair seen through his tinted goggles affirmed Dr. Kuroyama’s previous suspicion. Silver lay on the floor of the Jupiter Ring; his eyes closed.
“Apparently, he couldn’t get the goggles on in time,” said Dr. Amadeus.
“Wouldn’t that burn out his retina?”
“I suppose so.”
“Wait, shouldn’t we get medical help?”
“Ignore it; we gain nothing for his own stupidity.”
“You did what?” shouted Izan to Shi who had begun to pick up his newspaper after the explanation.
“I hate repeating myself, Yamada-san. I adjusted Silver-dono’s goggles before they were transported to the Jupiter Ring. Is that a problem?”
“A problem?” Izan shouted exasperatedly. “That’s his ****in’ eyesight you’re talking about. Yeah, I don’t like him either, but I think you might have blinded him.”
“I agree with Izan, Shi. That may have been going too far,” said Rin.
“That was the plan.”
“The plan? What plan?” asked Izan.
“To blind him of course. It was an order.”
“From?” said Izan. Shi looked at Izan exasperatedly. “Okay, whatever. Besides that, how the hell would you know which goggles he would choose?”
“Psychological and mathematical reasoning.”
“What?” said Izan and Rin in unison.
“I knew that he would’ve been humbled a fraction from our previous encounter. Therefore, he would’ve most likely stayed out of the conversation preceding the procedure. So I positioned the affected goggles at the most likely spot in which he would take them.”
“Wouldn’t that be risky?”
“Not at all, those goggles were slightly more worn and had a few scratch marks on them. Plus, they were at the bottom of the pile. No one wants the worn ones. If Silver was the last one, then it would be safe to say that he’d have taken the worst possible pair.”
Izan fell on the sofa in the middle of the room. “You’re one crazy bastard Shi,” he muttered.
What was this? He could feel pressure being applied on to the tubes, forcing them to relinquish hold on his skin. Ten large plastic tubes exited his skin roughly and the needles that had kept them lodged into one-thirty-seven’s skin trailed limply behind. No liquid was spilt on the floor. It could have been taken as a sign that there really was no liquid in the tube and that it had all been his imagination or maybe the system was really that efficient that it could avoid excess waste. One-thirty-seven chose the latter.
“There really were things being pumped into my body,” he thought stubbornly to himself.
Wait, there were more pressing matters at hand on the existence of liquid. Curiosity overtook his peaceful, existential feelings and he began to wonder: who was he? A wave of déjà-vu swept through his mind. He was pretty sure he had gone through this. Was it yesterday? When did he begin to wonder about existence? Who? What? Why? In response to the questions that were flooding his mind, a single sentence wafted hazily to the fore of his thoughts.
I think, therefore I am.
What was that? A snippet from his memory? External stimuli perhaps? Where had he heard those words before? Again, out of instinct, he brought down his eyes to examine his body. It was still full of copper wires and coloured tubes of all shapes and sizes, but at least the larger, more annoying tubes were gone. Hopefully at least.
A slight chill broke the monotony of his existential crisis and brought him back to reality. He had felt a tiny sliver of metal slightly brush the nape of his neck, alerting the cold receptors in his skin, and reaffirming his previous assumption of the frigid temperatures of the sterile chamber. Instinctively, he raised his hand to feel for the source of the cold, but stopped unexpectedly as the metal clamps which restrained him held in stubborn defiance.
Suddenly, in the fraction of a second that he had taken to reach for his neck and fail, a metal clamp locked on to one-thirty-seven’s neck with a resounding clang. He raised his eyelids a fraction in mild surprise. Was the metal on his neck ever cold.
A loud whirring sound, the kind one gets from listening to electric motors running, made one-thirty-seven turn his focus in front of him. A moderately sized mechanical arm had begun to descend from the infinitely white light above him. An electronic messenger from heaven perhaps. He chuckled mentally. Tubes, wires and all sorts of other beeping sounds accompanied the arm in its descent. As it came closer, one-thirty-seven made a mental note on how menacing it looked. With a slicing metal-on-metal sound, three metal claws opened out from the fore of the arm and a menacing titanium needle protruded out of the front of the arm.
Sensing danger, even through the apathetic environment, one-thirty-seven began to struggle.
“Clamp procedure, successful. Constriction devices, functional. Projected rostral vector magnitude, negligible. Projected thoracic vector magnitude, inclusive limbs, four degrees. Projected pelvic vectors, inclusive support, zero. Arm flood chamber, full, ” said Dr. Kuroyama through his microphone, “Subject activity, unknown.”
The needle came closer and closer; all the while, one-thirty-seven fought back against his restraints. It seemed futile, but he had to try. His eyes widened. The gears of the machinery whirred as loudly as ever. His breath quickened and his entire body felt like it was burning up. Undaunted, the mechanical arm continued slowly forward, closing the distance in between it and one-thirty-seven with a menacing, constant speed which almost seemed like an eternity to the observer. Finally, as abruptly as it had began to move, it came to halt directly at the left of one-thirty-seven’s chest. One-thirty-seven's short gasps were replaced by a long sigh of relief. He closed his eyes and tried to relax while sweat dripped freely from his forehead. He was more alert than ever now, the shocking appearance of the needle had done a lot to dilute the feelings of apathy he had previously had with raw adrenaline. It seemed, the worst was now over.
That, however, was wishful thinking on the part of one-thirty-seven. A frightful hissing sound erupted from the pneumatic valves that made up a quarter of the machinery of the arm and three, menacing, red laser sights converged on his chest. He looked up, eyes wide, and just barely caught sight of the three inch needle as it thrust forward out of the arm's chamber and into his torso. He jerked forward violently in shock, but was held tightly by his restraints. The needle penetrated through all three layers of his skin, bone, and the outer layer –pericardium— of his heart, lodging itself firmly into his left ventricle. Tiny rivulets of blood leaked out where the needle had penetrated and one-thirty-seven blanked out for a brief moment. A very brief moment.
Pressurized blood fought to exit one-thirty-seven's body by means of the entry wound, but the syringe held stubbornly in place. One-thirty-seven's heart, despite having half-an-inch of titanium puncturing it, continued beating unabated.
Intense pain racked one-thirty-seven’s body. A sterilized needle through the heart was obviously an unpleasant experience. The needle, however, had done more than penetrate into the heart; in fact, part of the sternum that protected the heart –broken from the force of the impact-- now littered the exterior of the crimson, life-giving organ like deadly shrapnel. One-thirty-seven gasped repeatedly and coughed out blood. He wasn’t screaming, his eyes had widened from the shock, and every single muscle in his body –now stimulated by the excess adrenaline, but lacking an output— tensed themselves. It seemed that fear had frozen him in place.
“You can’t see anything in there, can you?” said Richard Daemon loudly to Dr. Amadeus. Normally, focused attention would have to be given to catch anything being said with the loud noise being generated by the machines. Nonetheless, Dr. Amadeus heard. He tossed a communication piece to Daemon and waited impatiently for him to put it on.
“Yes,” said Dr. Amadeus, “it’s actually there to blind the subject to our presence in case he becomes aware?”
“Don’t worry, even though we’ve removed the anesthesia tubes for now, the subject cannot remove all of it from his system in the limited time in which we conduct this procedure. He can’t possibly be awake.”
The irony here is that the subject was awake, and in immense pain at that. With the gleaming needle sticking out of his chest and his breathing increasing rapidly by the minute, one-thirty-seven fought to stay alive. The needle, which before this seemed to one-thirty-seven as a sadistic way to inflict pain, actually did have its uses. A hydraulic system in the arm activated, and the needle injected a transparent, viscous liquid into one-thirty-seven’s heart. The liquid, reminiscent of blood plasma, shot into his body at an almost unbearable speed and intermingled with the subject’s regular blood. Despite not mixing together due to their different viscosities, the blood pressure level inside one-thirty-seven’s body skyrocketed from the intrusion of the foreign substances. More and more of the plasmatic liquid forced its way into his body, threatening to burst upon his blood vessels. There was now no difference in between the blood pressure in the veins, capillaries, and arteries.
One-thirty-seven began to exhibit some really gruesome properties from that point on. Blood poured out from his mouth as the vessels in his cheeks popped. His eyes turned a grisly crimson colour from the excess blood in his choroid. His entire body had trouble coping with this level of pressure. Physics compensated using the only way it knew how to: plasma began to force out some of the blood from the system to lower the pressure. Weak points around his cardiovascular system were the first to go; followed shortly by the various blood capillaries that littered his body. His lungs, which had a high concentration of blood capillaries in the alveoli, filled with blood. His breathing became restricted, and he coughed out more of the precious red liquid.
And when the needle had run out of its vile fluid and one-thirty-seven may have remembered the meaning of peace, something else happened. The metal collar on his neck, the one that had previously been attached, crackled menacingly and conducted a steady stream of electricity into one-thirty-seven’s body. Thousands of amperes of electricity flooded every single nerve in the subject’s nervous system and caused simultaneous activation throughout his body. Alarms went off in his brain as his over-stimulated mind experienced happiness, fear, sadness, and every other emotion simultaneously along with pain, heat, cold and almost all of the synaesthetic senses associated with the abnormality. Synapses grew and died off at an abnormal rate. His conscious mind was a garbled mess of black and white static. One-thirty-seven’s fingers jerked uncontrollably and his mouth opened and closed in succession a few times, blood mixed with mucus dribbling from his chin and spilling messily everywhere on the floor.
At that point, the chamber grew slightly brighter, and the machinery began
“What was that?” asked Daemon through his communication piece; just as confused as the rest. Even through the tinted goggles, that last flash had made the entire Jupiter Ring a fraction brighter.
“Gamma radiation,” replied Dr. Amadeus.
“I know I flunked at physics in high-school, but isn’t that dangerous?” inquired Daemon.
“The glass windows were treated with FemtoIntegration and lead. The radiation can’t enter the outer ring; even if it did, it wouldn't cause that much damage. The flash of light was just a warning light.”
Finally, there was peace. The needle extracted itself from one-thirty-seven’s chest and ascended towards the ceiling high ahead; aided by the cables that had brought it down. One-thirty-seven’s collar unclamped itself and that too ascended. Stray bolts of electricity from one-thirty-seven's body shot into the chains that kept him restrained. Violet coloured sparks arced off one-thirty-seven’s body into the air. He breathed raggedly as blood spilt from his mouth and his chest poured out blood. Every single breath he took was interjected by a cough and a stabbing pain from his lungs. His heart however, beat rapidly and surely. It didn’t care whether its pumping was draining blood from its own body, it only did its job as instructed by the brain.
Then, a supposed miracle. The skin around the cavity in his chest where the needle had entered began to turn a sickly grey colour. It wrinkled up and, with a sound akin to gravel on gravel, the wound began to close itself. Everywhere arteries had burst, the same sound could be heard, albeit at a much more minute scale. Wounds closed of and blood coagulated on his body at an alarming rate. With his reserves of adrenaline dangerously low, his muscles began to relax. He was alive, and extremely active for some reason. Finally, the only remnant of the horrific, bloody episode was the semi-coagulated blood that stuck to his skin.
One-thirty-seven breathed another sigh of relief. With the apathy gone, he could think. Where was he? How-
His train of thought was cut off. Ten, long, plastic tubes shot into his skin from out of the sterile environment. Immediately, he felt the sudden rush of liquid being pumped into his body. “Ah, so it was being pumped in.” Then, he fell asleep.
The light in the inner chamber dimmed and everyone took of their tinted goggles.
“There was nothing to see!” said Eliza Reesent, annoyed.
“Anticlimactic at the very most,” said Mr. Daemon.
“The finished product is much more spectacular,” said Dr. Amadeus. “Now, before we go any further, you'll need to sign this waiver and this agreement which confirms that you, as a founding member of the Infinity Conglomerate, by your passive participation in the process of creation of any one of the DeusAm Corporation's products, fully condone the actions carried out by the DeusAm Corporation of the conglomerate. You have no choice in the matter.” He looked at Silver lying down on the floor. “Eliza,” he said while jerking his head in Silver's direction.
Well, after a long delay, here's Chapter 4 of NG-137 Synthetic Integration.
Unlike the previous chapters, the violence and gore is more pronounced towards the end so as usual, turn away if offended.
Warning: Swear words and gore.
Chapter 4 – Flight of the Beast I
(A.k.a. The Shackles have been shattered.)
Shallow breathing, rapid eye movement, the world in a blur. “Wake up…” said a quiet voice. It was throaty, deep and sadistic, but highly reminiscent of one-thirty-seven’s original voice.
“And you are?” said one-thirty-seven in his mind. No answer.
Slowly but surely, one-thirty-seven opened his eyes and was greeted by a cold steel floor with, what appeared to be, dry, red paint splattered all over it. Scratch that, it wasn’t paint. It was dry blood. Blood? But from where? Was someone injured? Did they need help? Almost immediately, his brain was flooded with all manner of questions. Where was he? What was he doing here? Why? None of these questions, however, seemed to be answerable in the near future to one-thirty-seven. Well, maybe he could at least remember something that had previously happened. Maybe that would jog his memory? He closed his eyes in relaxed concentration and began to think, almost furiously. His eyes snapped open and he shuddered as a blurry, incomprehensible memory of one of his past experiences came to the fore. He couldn't exactly remember what it was, but the memory brought a certain chill to his otherwise warm body. His skin broke out in cold sweat and he turned to look at his surroundings to distract himself.
This was the first time he had had a good chance to look at where he really was. The chamber was much smaller than he had first expected. The infinite white mist was not present and his surroundings were all too clear. Pristine white, concrete walls enclosed the chamber and a steel mesh wrapped around the walls interior. White coloured, spherical cameras stood stock still at random positions on the mesh that one-thirty-seven now saw as a network of rails. Despite this being the first time that he had had a good look at his surroundings, there was something subtly peculiar about this place, besides the fact he was chained to the floor. Could it be his physiology that had changed he wondered?
He looked downwards at his body, found out that his neck was no longer restrained, and studied his body for anything out of the ordinary. As before, the transparent tubes which had been pumping him full of anaesthesia --possibly-- stuck out awkwardly from his pale skin alongside the copper wiring that jutted out messily. This time, something was indeed different, but only subtly though. A tinge of grey, which reminded him of a liver-spot, was visible at the left side of his chest. Was this the difference that had been bothering him?
A sudden flash of realisation struck and he jerked violently forward against the restraints and shuddered violently. He broke out in cold sweat again and his breath quickened, his eyes opened wide. Everywhere he turned,he could see brief flashes of an inch-long metallic syringe, blood everywhere, unbearable pain, a surge of electricity, and a world painted red. He dry-heaved and instinctively brought his hands up to cover his mouth, but was held back by the chains. Even though he could make head nor tail of the garbled memory one sentence described it perfectly, “Scary as hell.”
He calmed down, closed his eyes, and tried to subdue his breathing. Whatever it was that had happened, had happened and he was relatively okay with little to no scarring. No, he had to focus on something other than the memory. Something that would take his mind of the fear. With sweat still dripping from his brow, he turned his attention back towards the grey spot that he had noticed earlier, trying to ignore how it had come about in the first place.
He looked downwards and continued his study. At a glance, the spot was a seemingly simplistic feature in his skin. It was not so much a scab rather than a part of his skin. The point where the skin turned grey was abrupt, but it joined seamlessly, almost as if it was already part of his skin to begin with. His eyes wandered away from that spot and began to roam the other parts of his body. There was plenty to note besides the various foreign objects embedded in his skin. For one, there was the blood. It was dried, caked, and was smeared upon multiple points on his body. His toenails, his fingers, and now even the interior of his mouth –which had the slight taste of copper or iron— all had been overflowing with the crimson liquid at one point, but had suddenly clotted over with no visible scarring. Except of course, for the grey tinge near his chest.
This wasn't what was bothering him, though. One-thirty-seven closed his eyes and concentrated to find the source of the disturbance. He then noticed a deep, throbbing sensation in his head. Wave upon wave of heat coursed through his skull, directly in contrast with the supposed frigid temperatures of the chamber. Not that he felt cold or anything. He reached for his head with one of his hands then stopped automatically. He wasn't that stupid as to forget the restraints that were holding him down.
Still, the mere thought of moving his arm had triggered it to spasm slightly. The shackles protested, and the minute whirring of gears and the action of hydraulic liquid being transferred from one chamber to another could be heard quite clearly. The pressurized hissing of the hydraulic liquid as it made its way from one chamber to another sounded clearly to one-thirty-seven's ears despite the magnitude of its noise. It wasn’t extremely loud as to blind him to every other sound: it was more akin to being the auditory equivalent of being able to see clearly in two different directions. This train of thought led him to his eyesight. It had also changed quite subtly. If he concentrated hard enough, he could just make out a faint tinge of violet scattered through his field of vision. He could clearly notice the varying fields of brightness of the violet light that he could see through the chamber.
Brightness. There was the keyword. The brightness in the chamber around him was fluctuating quite drastically, but in a constant manner. He was surprised. He hadn't noticed it before. No wait, he had noticed it before. This was what had been bothering him! He turned his head upwards and noticed a window set near the third quarter of the top of the room that ran around the most the chamber. A bright red colour emanated from it.
“Sensei,” shouted a black-haired technician over the flurry of activity in the Jupiter Ring, “the system is failing. We’re unable to fit the rostral unit back onto one-thirty-seven and the anaesthetic fluid isn’t flowing.”
Dr. Kuroyama cursed and banged his hand on the console. “And just after a successful integration too…” he thought to himself. The red warning light flashed menacingly on the ceiling as the technicians struggled to get the system under control. An unexpected bug in the server had caused the Ring system to fail and the computer systems to short circuit. Why was everything going so wrong? The best computer technicians had been brought in from the whole of Japan to work on the Ring system computers. Fifteen Terrabytes of data had been stored on the hard disks and Dr. Kuroyama wasn’t going to let all the research go to waste. “Damn,” he muttered angrily.
“Sensei, the servers are shutting down. It’s a hardware fault somewhere, and we can’t salvage the system properly.”
Dr. Kuroyama breathed in deeply. “Transfer all our data to the ERF via the IC broadband line. Send them in order of priority and print out everything that you can’t send in time.”
“Wait,” said Dr. Kuroyama as he held the technicians shoulder, preventing him from leaving. “Issue the E-Protocol, priority one. VIPs first. Dr. Amadeus should be in the hangar preparing to leave. Escort the rest through the emergency tunnel.”
“Sir, it’s just a system failure -- we don’t need to evacuate just for that.”
Dr. Kuroyama looked incredulously towards the young face of the technician. “What the hell, man! Think! Every single thing in the entire bloody facility is computerised! The only things holding that,” he jabbed his finger towards the inner ring, “from getting out are a few flimsy chains.”
The technician’s eyes widened in fear and he raced off to spread the news as fast as he could.
“Break your shackle; free yourself,” said the voice in the same tone as before.
“They can’t be broken,” said one-thirty-seven in his mind. “I’ve tried.”
“Don’t assume that so fast. Pull on them harder.”
“I’m not going to waste my energy on impossible fantasies.”
“Yes, but logically there’s a fifty percent chance that I’m correct. If I’m wrong, you’ll only have wasted a few joules, nothing much. You gain much more from trying than leaving it to fate. ”
“No?” sounded the voice angrily.
“Listen you, I told you I'm not stupid enough to damn disembodied voice. You must think I'm crazy.”
“You're hearing voices,” said the voice, “how are you not crazy?”
“I've never thought about it that way.”
“Good, now pull.”
Four shackles later and freedom a mile away, one-thirty-seven rubbed his wrists thankfully.
“Now what?” said one-thirty-seven.
“Are you really that dense? Get out of here!” retorted the voice angrily.
“How? I’m surrounded by concrete everywhere I turn. Do you think I can get out of here that easily?”
“Find a way out.”
“A way out?”
“Stop being such a damn parrot and do as you’re told!”
“Who the hell are you and where’s your voice coming from?” One-thirty-seven turned around wildly as if hoping that his mysterious saviour would be standing right behind him in the chamber.
The voice grinned with what would have been the mental equivalent of grinning. “There’s no point in me telling you now lest you get distracted.”
One-thirty-seven sighed. Fighting would get him nowhere. He walked forward with determination and grimaced as he realised that he had forgotten about the multitude of wires and tubes connected to his body. Needles, copper wires and embedded ports ripped out of his torso, bringing with them little scraps of skin from his chest. He gritted his teeth, expecting unimaginable, but slightly delayed, pain from the nerves in the vicinity.
The pain came and went, but it wasn’t as bad as he had imagined. It was true that his nerve endings, flared to life as soon as they felt the slight electrical impulse from the pain receptors in the epidermis. It was also true that those nerve endings were now exposed and prone to more fits of mind-numbing pain as they were subjected to the open air. However, as if by divine intervention, the nerve endings fused over frighteningly fast and the gaps in his skin left by the wires closed up as more skin grew quickly to replace it. Yes there was some pain, but it wasn’t as bad as one-thirty-seven had expected. In fact, it only felt as though he were being injected by multiple needles instead of having his skin ripped from his body.
“How is it,” thought one-thirty-seven, irrationally annoyed at his earlier false presumption, “that I could rip out the needles without much effort?”
“Simple. you walked forward, you were much stronger, and you didn’t realise the force each one of your steps put out,” replied the voice.
“You again?” One-thirty-seven was more angry than annoyed at this point. “What the hell are you?” If his thoughts were transferred to his vocal chords in order to make the necessary sound, he would undoubtedly be screaming right now.
“Later. We have more pressing issues at the moment.”
“Like what,” snarled one-thirty-seven in a manner wholly unlike his own. He stopped, surprised by the inhuman quality of his voice that had escaped his mind and into his mouth.
All of a sudden, the abrupt compulsion to look up hit one-thirty-seven and he complied. There, he saw once more, the flashing red light from the glass above. He squinted and the scenery seemed to zoom in on exactly where he wanted as perfectly and smoothly as the zoom function on a telescopic camera. In the window, silhouetted by the glare from the light, stood three men. At least two of them appeared to be in the possession of some form of a wide-barrelled sniper rifle.
“Remember, don’t hit any of the vitals. We just want to paralyse it, not kill it,” said Dr. Kuroyama as he observed one-thirty-seven who appeared to be stumbling around, confused, in the middle of the inner ring.
“These are tranquillizer darts sir. There’s enough power in one of these shots to put a Rhydon to sleep for years. Or so I’ve heard. Ain’t that right, Nick?” said the first guard who wore Team Rocket’s customary black uniform with the red ‘R’ and the symbol of Infinity stitched onto it.
Nick, the second guard who was more relaxed than the first, bit his lower lip and nodded. This wasn’t the time to get distracted. “Stay alert; he’s dangerous.”
The first guard laughed. “Do you know how much he must weigh after that thing those scientists did? I doubt he can jump.”
“Actually,” interjected Dr. Kuroyama, “he can.”
“What?” shouted the first guard. One-thirty-seven chose that precise moment to make his move. He launched himself into the air and grabbed onto the steel mesh that ran around the wall at the side of the chamber and hung there momentarily. He tensed his muscles and took another vertical leap while using the mesh as a make-shift vertical platform. After a few jumps, he reached the level of the Jupiter Ring’s laboratory and smashed directly into the thick, reinforced glass of the lab; sending shards of glass everywhere. He walked –crunching the glass underfoot-- slowly and carefully whilst observing his surroundings with an air of mild surprise; all the while, ignoring the three men that stared at him in shock.
“Oh ****,” swore Dr. Kuroyama. He turned around and bolted for the door at the opposite end of the chamber. This would require three-quarters of a lap around the ring as he wasn’t too keen on confronting one-thirty-seven for the exit just then. He was one of the last scientists in the ring as the others had evacuated much earlier with the data they had been able to salvage.
“Damn, damn, damn,” said Nick as the tranquillizer rifle locked on to one-thirty-seven. The first guard, on the other hand, stood stock still, his own gun hanging limply in his hand. “Don’t just stand there!” shouted Nick as he pulled the trigger of the weapon. A loud bang sounded and the computerised dart flew out of the gun barrel.
One-thirty-seven turned and stared as the bullet came flying to him in slow-motion. Or rather he felt that it was in slow motion. His perception of time had slowed as his bodily reflexes and mental impulse time had been sharpened to a point. He looked at it intently before recognizing it as a threat and held out his hand –which, oddly enough, felt and moved sluggishly-- to grab the cylindrical shell that tapered down into a syringe at the front. His palm made contact with the top of slow-moving object, but instead of stopping instantly, it changed its course slightly and continued on its journey, albeit in an angle a few degrees off of perfectly horizontal. He tried to bring back his hand, but it continued moving forward slowly under inertia as though he were swimming in some kind of ultra-thick treacle. He dragged his hand back and watched with slight bemusement as the bullet flew harmlessly past his body.
“Time isn’t moving slowly; you’re just finding it slow. Physics still applies,” said the voice as though he knew what one-thirty-seven was going to say next.
“Why are you helping me? Who the hell are you?” demanded one-thirty-seven in his mind. He was ignored.
Instead of answering the voice said, “Those men, they trying to subdue us. Get rid of them.”
“No way,” retaliated one-thirty-seven. “no way am I going to kill another human being. That’s just wrong. That’s just immoral.”
“That’s just stupid.”
One-thirty-seven shook his head vigorously –as though it would rid him of the voice-- and ignored the two men as his regular perception of time returned to him.
“They will continue to shoot at you.”
“Hector,” said Nick, “did you see that? I didn’t imagine it, did I?”
“No,” replied Hector --the first guard, “he definitely just swatted away the bullet.”
The two guards who stood at the brim of the Jupiter Ring’s inner chamber had stared dumbstruck at the way one-thirty-seven had made the bullet change its direction in mid-air. To them, it looked like one-thirty-seven had moved forward clumsily in high-speed and lightly touched the projectile with his palm which then made it veer of course slightly and ricochet of the thick glass wall.
“That’s it. Reload.”
“No, stop,” said Hector with the air of someone with an incredibly bright idea to share. “Let’s use our Pokémon to deal with this.” He moved his hand towards his own custom Pokéball and waited for Nick’s approval of his plan.
“Yeah...” Nick began with every hint of sarcasm in his voice. “Let’s use Pokémon like those morons from Team Magma, and Team Aqua when we have perfectly good guns that can kill accurately with a single shot if fired correctly. Yeah, we’ll do that. And while we’re at it, let’s go find some rocks and throw it at the thing.” Nick stared at his partner with an I-can’t-believe-you-just-suggested-that look. “You do remember that those three were taken down by teenagers right? Twelve year olds at that, hardly into their teens.”
“Whatever,” replied Hector. He pulled out his own tranquillizer gun and aimed it directly at one-thirty-seven. Again, for the second time as he pulled the trigger, the bullet whizzed out of the barrel and was swatted away by the subject.
“This is going to take much longer if you keep avoiding them.”
“I’m not going to kill them.”
“Stop being such a child! You have to prepare to kill or you will be killed!”
“How is this being childish?” retaliated one-thirty-seven. “Adults don’t go around killing everyone that challenges their honour.” As he said this, another bullet whizzed by which he avoided by a wide margin.
“Adults aren’t put on the rack of torture either...”
“Whatever, it’s my body so I’ll do whatever the hell I want.”
An endless barrage of tranquillizer darts flew by one-thirty-seven in slow-motion as he avoided them with relative ease. He knew however, that his mind or his body would eventually tire.
“The exit, it’s there.” said the voice; suddenly changing the subject. One-thirty-seven turned quickly turned to his right and focused his attention on a steel door that had just clanged shut. “Too late.”
Again, by some sudden compulsion, one-thirty-seven felt the need to fix his gaze upon a small black panel at the side of the door. His eyesight zoomed in on that particular spot and he suddenly recognized it as an optical scanner. How he had suddenly known this was beyond his comprehension, but he suddenly felt a malicious grin form upon his face. The grin, which he realised was not off his doing, was the first indicator that his body was not fully his own. The second indicator came soon after.
“Desperate times...” said the voice with a sigh.
One-thirty-seven felt his body go slack and he crumpled to the floor in a heap of flesh and bone. “Obviously you’re not going to kill them and you apparently have no idea how to,” said the voice quickly. “In that case, I’ll do it then.” Slowly, one-thirty-seven’s body pushed itself up to its feet and stood confidently amongst the rows of control panels in the lab. One-thirty-seven’s primary consciousness was pushed to the rear of his mind as the voice took complete control over his body. “Don’t worry; this’ll only take a while.” The voice turned to face the two men who were dumbstruck at the way that one-thirty-seven had seemingly fallen to the floor (a fact that they were too bewildered to laugh at) and gotten up as though nothing had happened, albeit slightly more malicious than before. Coupled with the fact that they had finally run out of bullets, they, too, were ready to employ their last resort.
“Hector,” said Nick.
“We’re gonna have to use your plan after all.”
A slight pause came from Hector as he struggled to put into words what he had to say. “After you explained it just now, I don’t think that’s such a good idea anymore.”
“Do we have a choice?”
“Bare-hands?” suggested Nick nervously and with a trace of humour.
“Yeah, real funny.”
The pair unhooked their respective Pokéballs from their belts and pressed the circular white button in the centre of the black and white sphere. This released two beams of red light which materialised into the shapes of a Houndoom and a Feraligatr respectively. The tension in the air was thick as the Houndoom stood its ground, raised its hackles, and pawed the floor nervously in anticipation for the orders which were soon to come. The Feraligatr on the other hand flexed its muscles in what it knew was a menacing fashion as it thought to intimidate the obviously weaker –as far as it knew--human opponent standing with its eyes trained on the two. Both of the Pokémon were not new to assaulting humans. In fact, their core training regiment had always been focused on one of two things: disable or kill. Most of their lives since being hatched had been spent in the training facilities and then in the field where they had done joint-training sessions with the NPA. The one thing that remained constant in their lives however, was the fact that they had always been partnered with the same trainers.
“It seems,” said the voice using one-thirty-seven’s mouth for the first time, “that you people really don’t know much about anything.” The voice walked forward and surveyed the two Pokémon through his eyes –one of which was now a curious red colour as opposed to the dark-green from before.
“It can talk!” shouted Hector in surprise.
“Enough talk,” shouted Nick who had regained his composure faster than Hector had gotten past the shock. “Finny, Hydro-Pump that thing and shoot to disable, I repeat, disable,” he said to the Feraligatr. Acting on command, Finny the Feraligatr fired a jet of pressurized water towards one-thirty-seven who stood his ground; analysing the jet that had the power to rip his epidermis from his body. Not wanting to get left out, the Houndoom looked to Hector for instructions.
“Right,” said Nick, “Tzao, don’t get in the way of Finny, provide suppressive fire in whatever way you can.” The Houndoom nodded once and proceeded to expel a plume of smoke from his lungs causing part of the lab to get covered in a literal smoke-screen devised to provide limited visibility for one-thirty-seven. One-thirty-seven stood unphased as he met the challenge of the lethal stream coupled with the debilitating smoke that surrounded any potential points of evasion amongst the rows of computers that were bolted to the floor. As the hydro-pump attack reached within three inches of his face, he tensed his muscles and dived forward into the lethal torrent of airborne liquid thus diverting the flow to the sides of his body. How he remained unscathed through the extreme pressure and how he managed to fight through the water was anyone’s guess, but for the most part, Finny was caught by surprise as Tzao’s smoke-screen proved ineffective against the only possible point where the direction had been clear.
One-thirty-seven grabbed onto a control-panel underfoot for support and brought his arm directly into Finny’s torso. The Feraligatr’s eyes widened in shock as one-thirty-seven’s fist, which was much tougher than anyone could have ever imagined, smashed into the her ribcage –disrupting the flow of water— and sending Finny flying backwards and smashing into a computer panel. Both of one-thirty-seven’s eyes had turned a deep shade of red as they inexplicably shone with a weak light of their own. Tzao turned to his human partner who was still in shock. Taking it upon himself to compensate for Hector’s shock-based-paralysis, Tzao fired a volley of flames at one-thirty-seven who promptly swept away the fire with his arm. It curled harmlessly around one-thirty-seven’s limb with the motion of a liquid and gas combined. Ignoring Tzao’s relatively harmless attack, one-thirty-seven continued forward to finish off Finny before she could do any more damage than was necessary. He tore forward at an inhuman speed as his right arm suddenly glowed a bright white colour and transformed into a rather large, red-coloured (with bold and black markings), arm with four silver-tipped claws that made up the fingers. The claws were obviously not designed for dexterity as they had no thumbs; rather, they had been made so as to cause as much destruction as possible. The steel claws gleamed in the low, red-coloured lighting on the lab and fulfilled its purpose beautifully as one-thirty-seven reached Finny and sank his claws deep into her tough, thoracic area. His tough claws smashed against the scales that made up her hide as blood erupted out of the sides where the claws had penetrated and caused Finny to quiver in shock and extreme pain. Her entire body shook violently in her death throes as one-thirty-seven looked ambivalently towards the beautiful sight of the crimson liquid that spilled out into the open and the utter repulsion belonging to one-thirty-seven’s original mind as he had no control over his body.
To finalize the attack, one-thirty-seven grabbed onto one of the most crucial organs in Finny’s body. Then, he withdrew his claws brutally with the sticky blood stuck to his forearm loosely. On one of his claws was impaled with the still-beating heart of Finny the Feraligatr. Nick sank to the floor after seeing his partner’s brutal and efficient demise at the hands of the creature that he had been assigned to protect from external threats rather than confine to the facility. He realised that he was shaking and he reached for his own gun situated in its holster on his belt. He brought up the metallic weapon that had never seen anything but the target ranges, and, without thinking, fired a single shot straight into the skull of one-thirty-seven; a fatal shot by anyone’s standards.
The bullet seemed to take forever to fly towards one-thirty-seven. Nick had hoped, that with his current preoccupation with pulling out Finny’s heart, he would not notice the lead projectile as it flew in a straight path towards the creature’s head. Indeed, even with one-thirty-seven’s amazing speed, his arms were too far away to block the bullet as it sped ever closer to his head. One-thirty-seven’s eyes caught sight of the bullet and his eyes widened as a dozen complex calculations raced through his head as he wondered on the most effective course of action. It only took a hundredth of a second, but finally he accepted what he had to do.
He ducked his head slightly as the thing flew straight at him. One-thirty-seven knew that he could not be able to avoid the bullet, but he could avoid the fatality of the impact. It worked. The bullet grazed the top of his skull as blood and flesh were ripped from his scalp along with the lead that made up the bullet. As with before, the nerve endings fused over before too much pain was transferred to the brain. This was an essential procedure by one-thirty-seven’s body as pain was only there to remind him of the points at which his body was injured and the severity of the injury. If he already knew where he was injured, there wasn’t much use for the pain receptors to dull his other senses with the mind-numbing pain that came with injuries.
Then, he turned to face Nick.
**To be Continued**
A tinge of grey, which reminded him of liver-spots, was visible at the left side of his chest. It was a seemingly simplistic feature (which / but it) reminded him of the gruesome and unusual torture he had been forced to endure.
I'm not sure if you prefer "which" or "but it" in the above example; they mean the same thing almost. It just gives a certain "feel" to the sentence.
You can see the individual definition for "hydraulic" here and the definition for "hydraulics" here.
“Sensei, the servers are shutting down. There's a hardware fault somewhere, and we can’t salvage the system properly.”
The second comma should be changed to a period. I'm still debating on better punctuation, but a period is better than a comma for now.
"I wish," Arnold began, "that everyone could just get along."
Obviously "I wish" isn't its own sentence, and part of the following one, thus "began" meets Mr. Comma at the end. In your case, "You don't understand" is a sentence by itself, and thus "he began" requires a period.
One-thirty-seven raised his eyebrows in mild surprise. The voice had been right.
As for that semi-colon, change that to a comma.
"At least two of them appeared to be (wielding / in the possession of) some form of a wide-barelled sniper rifle."
Also, you should separate "We just want to paralyse it" with either a comma or a dash, to get either:
"We just want to paralyse it, not kill it."
"We just want to paralyse it - not kill it."
Pretty much the same thing, but it gives a different "feel" to the phrase.
The second comma is a comma splice, but adding a period would make it sound redundant. I'm suggesting you rewrite it as:
"That's just wrong... immoral, even."
or something similar.
The second comma is, again, a type of splice separating two complete sentences of dialogue. Change it to a period.
That's all I could find for now; I really do enjoy your descriptions and your dialogues. You capture moments vibrantly and really let the reader know what's going on, rather than leaving them to think up 1/2 the story themselves.
Kudos to you :D If I have time, I'll get to the other chapters :s but apparently it's "National Chore Day" in my dad's eyes, so.
A small note, I’m referred to as Mizan and not Kuro though I do like being called that. :P
So uh, refer to me as either. :3
I hate it when typos happen. I meant to change that, but I somehow missed it out…
*Directed at everyone else*
Also, this is why we need good reviewers. No writer can catch all his mistakes.
Chapter 4.5 is up. There's an uncensored version over at the Sandbox BBS in my sig for anyone who's curious.
EDIT: FFFFFFFFUUU...... OpenOffice, wai yu du dis to me??? ;_;
*ahem* Chapter 4.5 has been updated.
Chapter 4.5 – Flight of the Beast II
(The light of freedom shines on those who strive for it.)
Two hours earlier; in the Neptune Ring...
Mikan drummed her fingers on her desk nervously as she sat down in deep concentration. Her private office wasn’t the most spacious of accommodations, but it did provide an excellent home away from home. Not that home really had any meaning ever since she transferred to the NG facility and was forced to share a room with another one of her fellow senior researchers. At a glance, the layout wasn't something to be proud off. As usual her filing cabinets were filled with research papers and on her desk was a white laptop. A few picture frames containing photos of her two children, her husband and her sister Mori also stood on the desk, a reminder of the people she would get to see once the project was completed and she was allowed to leave the facility. Her thoughts wandered to her sister and that in turn brought her to wondering about her brother-in-law, Dr. Amadeus. Angry-tears welled up in her eyes once more as the memory of Dr. Amadeus and his apparent nonchalance towards how he had casually used Phaiel for the experiment was brought to the fore. She had no visible qualms against using humans for scientific experimentation personally, but using Phaiel was going too far, especially for Dr. Amadeus.
A sudden knocking on the wooden door that led to her office prompted her to wipe her tears of her face. She regained her composure by taking a deep breath and muttered an audible, “Come in.”
The door opened widely and the brighter glare from the Neptune Ring permeated her office which was less brightly lit. Colin Dylan, a new recruit to the facility that had taken to tailing Mikan around, burst in the room with a large, unopened, amber-coloured, wine bottle and loudly exclaimed, “Dr. Mikan!”
“What is it Dylan?” said Mikan as she tried to make herself look busy.
“It’s Colin, Doctor,” he said. “Remember the company policy to increase productivity and improve social interaction? Members of the facility must always-“
“-refer to each other on a first name basis with honorifics where applicable. This is to improve social yadda yadda,” interjected Mikan. “Yes, Colin. I know.”
“Then why’d you?”
“Why are you here Colin?” said Mikan, clearly trying to avoid the fact that she had forgotten that detail.
“Oh right. Doctor, you have to come and join the celebrations. Me and the rest of the lab managed to get this bottle from the mess hall and-“
“Is that wine?” said Mikan, suddenly serious. “Sorry Colin, I don’t drink. Besides, we can’t do that in the lab.”
“No ma’am,” said Colin. “It’s apple cider.”
Realising that she needed to think up an excuse to get more thinking time for herself, she cast her gaze upon Colin sternly. “Colin,” she began rather lamely, “I’m busy. Get out.”
“Jeez, you don’t have to be such a killjoy. Anyway, we’ll be in the lab if you decide to join the party. I mean, all our hard work and testing plus all those dead Ratata have finally paid off. We finally get to go home and-“
“Colin, out.” Mikan said this softly, but it apparently had an effect on Colin who shrugged and shut the door behind him.
The party in the ring was probably due to the fact that word had arrived half an hour ago that the first successful integration had been performed in the Jupiter Ring. This meant that one of the test subjects had finally been successfully fused with the G-Core without it rejecting the subject’s body. This also meant that the staff, particularly the research division, were finally allowed to return home for the first time in five months. As fate would have it, or rather, as Dr. Amadeus had planned, the person responsible for the festivities had turned out to be Phaiel. Somehow, Mikan couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty as her research efforts in the Neptune Ring had inadvertently been the basis of the entire project. Admittedly, she wasn’t responsible for FemtoIntegration in general; she was however, responsible for its testing on live subjects. She was a biologist after all. The moral aspect of her mind had been dulled to the concept of live-experimentation as she endured the daily, desperate squeaking of the purple rodents as one by one, their numbers thinned. Even so, the moral implication that she had had something to do with Phaiel’s condition was enough to drive her to guilt –even with her hardened mentality-- as she buried her head in her hands and groaned lightly. Why would Dr. Amadeus choose Phaiel? He was always the one who went on and on about logic and efficiency, but choosing Phaiel as a test subject, a pointless manoeuvre, seemed to contradict this . He was a bright boy, no doubt, and he wasn’t particularly out of shape, but he wasn’t, however, at the epitome of physical health.
This entire project, as far as Mikan knew, was meant to test the effects of FemtoIntegration on biological subjects. They had passed the point where they could just carry out tests on Ratata to ascertain the level of risk that FemtoIntegration might have on the human structure. They needed an actual, human subject; they had got him and succeeded. Apparently, this research was to go to the medical sector where the whole world would benefit from advanced prosthetic technology. At least, that’s what Dr. Kuroyama had told her when she first arrived at the NG facility.
A sudden noise, reminiscent of a wind chime, snapped her out of her reverie and alerted her to the fact that she had just received a new e-mail.
She opened her e-mail; it read:
Date: Tue, Jan 25, 2010 at 4.45 AM
Do not reply to this e-mail. As with my previous e-mail, you will find that what I have said to you regarding the human test subject for the Jupiter Ring is indeed of importance to you. I am disappointed that you allowed your emotions to get to you for in doing so you alerted the enemy to your knowledge. In the future, please keep our correspondence confidential as I cannot guarantee your safety if you chose not to comply. The reason for my current letter is as follows:
Tonight, the Infinity Conglomerate’s NG Facility will have its security code set to orange. This will happen in approximately two hours and we expect that all the staff will evacuate as the order is issued. There is an ulterior motive to this however. The purging of all system files relating to the project will happen as the staff exit the building, and the facility itself will be erased with the security mechanism. All evacuated staff will be apprehended as they exit the premises and they will be forced to undergo a type three, memory erase operation. You will not be excluded. This entire procedure is to facilitate the process of suppressing the sphere of knowledge in which FemtoIntegration is known. All hardcopies relating to FemtoIntegration have been shipped off-site to an undisclosed location. Every staff member related to the project will be relocated.
Fortunately, I have taken an interest in your welfare Dr. Mikan. I do not wish for such an exemplary mind to undergo this procedure as your input will be invaluable because I seek to recreate the project elsewhere, away from the influence of the Infinity Conglomerate. For this to happen, I wish for you to falsify your death and escape via the service tunnel used to carry the Infinity Conglomerate’s fibre-optic cables. You will find that your security specifications have now been altered to allow you to access maintenance areas. If possible, please bring any hard copies of whatever information you can acquire. Do not convey this information to anyone. They will not be harmed, but you would do well to heed my advice.
I will rendezvous with you at Mauville City in five days. Please find enclosed in the attachment, further instructions for your perusal.
For now, I bid you goodbye.
Mikan reread this particular e-mail repeatedly before she was able to understand fully what this anonymous sender wanted of her. A few weeks earlier, she had received an e-mail from the same sender that alerted her to the fact that it was Phaiel who was the one being experimented upon. At first, she had been sceptical as she was not one who was easily fooled. However, after paying a visit to the Jupiter ring under the pretext of an errand, she had been horrified to discover the barely clothed, young man standing stock still in the lower chamber of the Jupiter Ring.
Immediately, heeding the e-mail, she began packing her research papers into her briefcase. Halfway through this procedure, she stopped. She couldn’t possibly reach the maintenance tunnel with a briefcase full of confidential research papers without being stopped; especially with such an important procedure about to go underway. She had to think of a better plan. Finally, that plan came and she smiled. It was so simple.
One-thirty-seven’s claw punctured the soft skin of the nape of Hector’s neck, penetrating the point where the spinal cord connected to the brain perfectly. He withdrew the single claw which he had used for the procedure and it promptly transformed itself back into his pale, skin-coloured hand. The Jupiter Ring was not unrecognisable, but it now had bits and pieces of charred, twisted metal littering the bloody floor in which one-thirty-seven had mercilessly slaughtered the two men and their Pokémon. Hector slumped onto the floor, the messages from his brain no longer being transmitted to his legs. He had ceased to breathe as all the instructions from his brain did not reach the diaphragm, but his heart continued to beat from the remnants of the electrical impulses that agitated the heart muscle; in effect, slowly killing himself. He would soon die of asphyxiation and it would be painless. Or so one-thirty-seven thought.
Realizing for the first time that a lack of a mouth did not hinder him from transferring his thoughts to the Voice, one-thirty-seven’s original consciousness screamed internally and the Voice’s mind was flooded with white-noise. He keeled over, dropped to the floor with his forehead on the cold, hard ground, and futilely tried to cover his ears as the traumatized cry of one-thirty-seven’s original consciousness caused a pounding headache to form itself within his mind. “Will you shut up!” roared the voice. It was not really much of a scream to release stress as much as it was a scream of fear, but it didn’t matter. All the mental barriers that held one-thirty-seven’s consciousness from the voice snapped and their souls melded together in a cacophony of mental energy. One-thirty-seven clutched his head as his hands turned from claws to hands and back to claws in quick succession. His face distorted horribly, and the overhead fluorescent lighting flashed inexplicably. The bare skin on his bones turned red in places and literally bubbled furiously from the unrestrained chemical reactions that took place in one-thirty-seven’s body. Boils sprang up and exploded as the scream continued. Any mental blocks the voice had placed on one-thirty-seven’s senses broke, and the blare of the sirens overhead was heard by him for the first time.
The scream lasted longer than it normally would have because it did not need oxygen to keep it going. By the end of it, one-thirty-seven’s original consciousness had been reduced to a pathetic wreck of its former self. He had not been completely broken, but his mental disposition was exceedingly unstable and the slightest trigger could set him off. If he were in control of his own body, he would have probably been wide-eyed and wild as he struggled to down the concept that he –technically his body— had just killed four living creatures, a traumatic experience for any human. Even though he wasn’t the one in control, he had felt everything from the warm, sticky blood to the heat of the fire, and the pain of the gunshot wound in his head.
“You! You ****ing killed them! Why?” shouted one-thirty-seven. He had calmed down, and trauma turned to fury.
“It was necessary,” replied the voice while massaging one-thirty-seven’s temple softly.
One-thirty-seven’s body moved again, controlled by the Voice. He grabbed hold of Nick’s decapitated head, which lay in a bloodied mess next to his body, and brought it with him to the huge, steel blast doors. Taking note of the optical scanner, he brought Nick’s head to the device and opened the head’s eyelid. Immediately, a beeping noise sounded from the piezo speaker in the scanner and a concealed gun turret dropped from the ceiling and fired a single shot towards one-thirty-seven’s head. One-thirty-seven cursed and ducked as a bullet grazed the top of his head once more. It would not have missed if not for the fact that most of the facility's processing power had been routed to another cause and thus slowing down the defence system by a fraction of a second.
“It was a trap. The door isn’t opened with a retinal scanner,” said the Voice with minor surprise.
“You think!” screamed one-thirty-seven’s original consciousness, furiously annoyed that they had killed for nothing. “People, people, people: not objects!”
“No matter. It was worth a shot to conserve energy.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” he screamed once more.
The voice ignored one-thirty-seven's continued mental tirade and brought both his arms towards the steel blast doors in what was a much more energy consuming back up plan. The air around his arms began to shimmer and the turned a bright red colour as they transformed once more. Invisible infra-red radiation shot out of his palms and the concentrated waves transferred to the free electrons on the door as one-thirty-seven sought to melt down the obstruction that blocked him from freedom. After a while, the doors, that had been designed to withstand long exposure to heat from temperatures of twice the surface of the sun melted away. Sweat dripped down from one-thirty-seven’s dark, red hair and he looked into the corridor that was more or less deserted.
“Where is everyone?” said the voice. Meanwhile, one-thirty-seven, who was still unstable as of then, slipped back into insanity and started gibbering wildly in his mind about morality and killing; damnation and hell. The voice promptly erected another mental barrier and shut him off. Survival came first.
The padded footsteps of one-thirty-seven’s body echoed desolately through the many corridors that made the, now empty, NG Facility. A harsh, red light flashed overhead in the neon tubes that ran along both sides of the corridor ceiling. Research papers were strewn all over the floor with a few pens and pencils had made their way among them in the confusion that had caused this. “We need to get out,” muttered the voice to himself. It was unnecessary, but reassuring to know that he was still sane, unlike the boy –whose name he did not know. He turned a corner and a steel sign embedded in the wall improved his mood by a fraction. It was an electronic signpost which, as of that moment, had overridden whatever was supposed to be displayed on-screen and now blinked a green sign that showed the way to the exit.
The voice continued down the path in accordance with the sign and turned another corner into what appeared to be the main hall. It was empty, but it was slightly cleaner than the corridor before it. A sharp pang of sudden pain rang through the voice’s head and he brought one-thirty-seven’s hands up onto his forehead once more to suppress the pain –no matter how futile using ones hands for mental pain is. “Stop it!” screamed the voice as one-thirty-seven's continued perseverance at breaking down the voice's mental barriers proved effective. “We’ll never escape if you don’t stop being such a baby and get on with it. I admit, killing them was wrong, but grieve for strangers later. I can tell that something’s going to happen.” One-thirty-seven did not ignore the voice, but it seemed like it as his unstable mind could not comprehend a word that it said. The voice, of course, knew this, but every possibility to conserve energy was worth trying.
Waves of one-thirty-seven’s consciousness smashed themselves against the voice’s mental barriers as they gradually weakened. He was close to –or already at— the brink of madness. Undaunted, the voice continued his mental blockade. He gritted his teeth and moved forward, regardless of the pounding headache in his mind.
“Come on, come on, come on,” said Mikan as she desperately tried her best to find her card. The security force could be here at any moment and she needed to escape through the tunnel. All she had with her was her handbag and a few provisions, but apart from that, all her files had been transferred off-site. Even with the stress of the loss of her security card, she still managed to smile as she recalled how easily she had beaten the system filter in sending the mail. “Damn it,” she exclaimed as she emptied the contents of her handbag onto the floor. The hatch, that was less than twice the height of a regular door and set into the wall of the maintenance corridor, seemed to mock her attempts at gaining clearance. At least, that’s what she was thinking of as she flicked through the many credit card holders of her purse. Suddenly, she stopped as a burst of realization hit her. “Of course...” she whispered foolishly as she groped around the inside pocket of her lab coat. “I always keep it here.” She laughed silently to herself and stole a quick glance at her watch. “Ah, it’s almost ti-“ She was cut off as she noticed a tall figure pass by the corridor situated perpendicular to the one she was in. His tall frame had a professional feel about it and his hair was a pure black colour. He wore a black, custom-tailored, commissioned-officer, military suit, characteristic of upper management and didn’t spare her a second glance or notice her as he passed by.
“No...” she whispered to herself in disbelief. “What was he doing here?” thought Mikan. She clutched her security card firmly and debated on whether or not it had been real. “No way. He can’t be working here. I must be imagining it.” She brought her card up to the maintenance shaft’s door to activate the lock and stopped again as her heightened sense of security picked up on the sound of soft, bare footsteps on a marble floor. She turned to the source of the noise --the corridor opposite the one that the military personnel had passed by, prepared and resigned to the fact that a member of security had been alerted to her intrusion and was here to escort her out. Her eyes widened with shock as an unexpected occurrence made itself known to her. Yet another tall man, red-haired and barely clothed, save for a pair of black boxers, stared at her in mutual surprise
“Phaiel,” whispered Mikan.
Mild surprise registered on one-thirty-seven’s face as he stepped forward hurriedly. “Scientist,” said the voice out loud, “do you know who I am?”
“Phaiel, it’s me!” she said to one-thirty-seven.
“Answer me, scientist!” demanded the voice.
“That bastard,” thought Mikan. “He must’ve performed an ME on Phaiel-kun.”
“Phaiel, it’s me, Mikan. Remember?” The blank look on one-thirty-seven's face made it painfully obvious that he didn't. “You know what,” she began, trying a different strategy, “remember Kana?” Even though she knew that Phaiel would be unlikely to remember anything, it was still worth a try.
Mistakenly taking one-thirty-seven’s quizzical look for a look of understanding, Mikan replied, “Yes, Kana. She’s in Rustboro. Find her and meet me in Mauville in five days.” As she said this, one-thirty-seven's mind flashed with images of large buildings and street signs, a large building, and plenty of people. “What happened to you?” said Mikan.
The pounding in one-thirty-seven’s head suddenly grew louder and more powerful as he struggled to remember what had actually happened to him in the past few weeks. The question had caught him off-guard and one-thirty-seven’s original consciousness, seizing an opportunity in the voice’s weakened mental armour, sought to retake his body by any means possible. “Stop it,” hissed the voice. “You’re not stable yet; you might do something stupid.”
“Phaiel-kun?” said Mikan uncertainly as she stood still, watching one-thirty-seven’s eyes dilate with every passing second –a side effect of the mind game being played by the voice and one-thirty-seven.
“Yes,” replied one-thirty-seven’s original consciousness –Phaiel— after a short pause. “Yes,” he repeated himself. He had momentarily defeated the voice in control of his body, was breathing deeply and he flexed his hands on which his nails had grown inhumanly sharper. Irrational bloodlust gleamed in his eyes and a blood vessel near his eye beat ferociously as blood pulsed through it. Phaiel stepped forward and the floor in which his bare foot made contact with the ceramic developed a yellowish sheen to them –an effect of heating. Undoubtedly, he was still unstable and he had not recovered from his previous trauma. This time, all his morales had disappeared alongside his sanity and the voice which desperately tried to regain control of the body.
“You don't know what you're doing,” shouted the voice internally as it was his turn to break through the grip Phaiel had on his own body.
“What happened to you?” said Mikan uncertainly.
Phaiel did not answer. He merely stepped forward, coming closer and closer towards Mikan.
Still no answer.
“I-” she began hesitantly, but was interrupted as Phaiel and his current unstable mentality that was focused on destroying what he now saw as a physical manifestation of his suffering –the sudden theory that it may have been the scientists who had tortured him-- launched himself at Mikan with his claw-like hands outstretched and his eyes burning with fiery bloodlust.
He roared loudly and incomprehensibly as his enlarged claws caught hold of her, relatively smaller, windpipe and gripped it mercilessly, his metallic claws digging into the skin of her neck whilst puncturing into the carotid artery and choking of the blood supply for the jugular vein. His eyes were bloodshot red, as opposed to the dark green from earlier, and they stared half confused, half defiant at Mikan’s face which had not had enough time to have shown shock or fear, only turning a shade red from the blood trapped in her head. Her face was just as it had been moments before the attack –apprehensive— and this served to enrage Phaiel further as he mistook it for Mikan to be mocking him. His unstable disposition fuelled his wrath and when he heard the satisfying snap of her spine under his hands, he lifted her body up by the neck with his left arm and slashed his right arm through her body at an angle, ripping flesh from bone and tearing her entire body asunder. A whole host of tissue and organic structure intermingled with blood from the many blood capillaries in the body and spattered on the cold, clean floor. His breath came in short gasps and his eyes were wild and bloodshot like before as he dropped the mangled remains of flesh, blood, bone and cloth onto the ground. Residual blood flecked his boxers and coated his upper arms.
“What have you done?” screamed the voice internally as he wrested control from Phaiel. “She was a valuable source of information!”
“Vile things, torture,” he babbled incoherently. The babbling soon degenerated into unstructured gibbering as Phaiel’s current mindset was now much weaker in contrast to his sudden burst of wrath which had overtaken the voice in his mind for supremacy over the body.
“**** you,” said the voice in anger, using a pejorative term which he rarely used, as he retook control of Phaiel’s body. In order to disallow anything like what had just happened to repeat itself, the voice expended its energy on trying to calm Phaiel instead of just suppressing him. It proved to be difficult to bring back one that was close on the brink of insanity but the voice persevered.
He started walking forward once more and began to follow the exit signs. Most of his energy had been expended and he was beginning to feel the strain. It was getting harder to keep his eyes open and Phaiel would soon retake control. It would be enough if he managed to escape the facility before that happened. A deep primal instinct, something to do with a nagging feeling he had at the back of his mind, kept telling him that they were in danger. As much as he wasn't inclined to listen to instinct, what he wanted to do wasn't that different from what it was telling him; only the urgency of the matter differed.
Besides wanting to escape the facility, there was also one other thing the voice wanted. That was to find out about whom he really was and why he was as such. Sure it may have infused Phaiel with temporary confidence by acting like it knew everything, but inside, it was just as confused about the whole situation as Phaiel was. The only key differences between them were the fact that the voice could generalise and rationalise much better than Phaiel could under stress, had a name which it could vaguely recall by itself, and it knew its primal objective –not its current one. Ostile was what he called himself and he liked to think that he was male, just as Phaiel was. They did share a similar body after all.
Suddenly, he stopped. He turned around while his logical mind wandered to the question of what Mikan had been doing, alone, in a corridor with the contents of her purse strewn across the floor. Ostile bent down and searched through the mess of blood and guts that had been Mikan. Blood permeated the cloth which had been the remains of her lab coat, and a still beating heart, which would cease to live once the muscle’s posthumous activity died down, caused ripples in the blood pool on the floor. After a while, Ostile found what he was looking for. In the hand of Mikan’s corpse, was a card of polyvinyl chloride that had the name Dr. Mikan, followed by a smirch of blood that covered her last name. A black, magnetic strip covered the back of the card.
Ostile turned the card around in his hands while studying the wall in which Mikan had been standing next to a moment ago. His eyes caught sight of a small slot situated besides the hatch, presumably for the card. Walking forward, his feet tracking blood, he brought the card down to the slot and inserted it in cleanly. The hatch opened without further delay and the musty, earthy air of the service tunnels mingled with the air of the corridor that smelt of disinfectant. Immediately after opening the hatch, Ostile heard a slight rumble reverberate throughout the floor and wall of the facility. The lights flickered on and off in quick succession whilst cracks appeared in the walls of the corridor.
“This can’t be good,” thought Ostile, rather unnecessarily.
At that moment, powerful explosions, equal to a few kilo tonnes of TNT, rocked a few key areas in the lowest levels of the NG Facility Complex. The facility itself was not damaged irreparably from the blast, but the explosions had caused a breach in the many layers of rock that protected the NG Facility from the Mount Chimney magma chamber deep underground. Red-hot magma rushed out of the chamber and emptied itself into the NG facility. The heat dispersal system then proceeded to systematically fail, as per programming, and the lava began to erase the facility from existence.
Rin adjusted the flight control stick of the plane slightly as she fixed the angle at which the plane ascended. It was a delicate balance as she could not ascend too quickly because the limited thrust the private jet could muster would have caused the plane to stall, but she had to ascend quickly enough so as to be able to avoid the worst of the ash cloud which spewed out of the, now active, Mount Chimney. Not that it wasn't active before, but recent events had caused a spike in the seismic activity of the region and the pressure of the underground magma chamber to increase. Izanagi, who sat in the seat next hers while acting as a co-pilot of sorts, was quiet. This was unusual as when he was with Rin, he usually had plenty to talk about. Instead now, his eyes were slightly wider than they usually were and his face carried the expression of one in an extremely slight vegetative state. Rin had tried few times to engage his attention, but had failed.
“Iza-kun?” she asked worriedly.
“Huh,” he answered, still staring forward into the cloud layer.
“Is something wrong?”
“No... no, nothing's wrong. I just...” His voice trailed off once more. “Nevermind,” he said quietly.
Rin didn't question him. She had never seen him like this before and she wasn't sure of what to do. “Maybe he'll come around soon,” she thought.
The plane entered the cloud layer and was enveloped in the water vapour that made it up. Rin moved the flight control stick to the left causing the plane to bank northwards at a slight degree. This may very well have been the last time she would be able to fly for a long time as the ash cloud would ground flights all over Japan.
Ostile climbed out of the hatch in the forest which sealed shut behind him. The magma had solidified further down the tunnel, and had not managed to penetrate the first hatch of the service tunnel. There, he collapsed in an exhausted heap as he began gasping for air. He was extremely tired and had finally run out of his share of the energy. [i]“At least,” /i] he thought, “we're out.” His eyes felt heavy and so he closed them for what he hoped would be a long recuperation period. At that moment, as Ostile slowly faded away into the recesses of the mind, Phaiel arose from the soothing trance in which Ostile had kept him. He didn't remember much except those few minutes in the ring where something bad had happened.
“Where... where am I?” he said aloud to no one in particular. He blinked once and caught view of his surroundings. The night was dark and many nocturnal Pokemon had made their way into the surroundings for the midnight hunt. He noticed that even though it was dark, he could still see fairly well, albeit slightly blurred. Dizziness overtook him and he leant against a nearby tree for support. The hatch passed by unnoticed as it was perfectly camouflaged against the forest floor.
“Ugh my head...” said a sudden voice.
“Who said that?” shouted Phaiel as he turned around quickly. He brought his arms up in defence using a stance he didn't know he knew how to perform and then recoiled in horror at the sight of the dry blood that caked his wrists and upper arm. He gasped in horror and started to panic. What had he been doing, why was their blood on his hand? After a frantic thirty seconds of panicking, he stopped. Maybe was over reacting. Maybe it wasn't blood. Maybe, some of his friends had played a trick on him involving fake blood and dropping him off into the forest. Maybe he'd gotten drunk and had dreamt everything that had happened. Maybe that was it. He calmed down substantially before suddenly, he heard a deafening roar. He turned around again, this time hoping to meet his feral assailant.
“My claws!” screamed a voice “What happened to my claws? Father!”
Phaiel turned around repeatedly while trying to find the source. He backed into a tree and looked around warily. The voice was inhuman, guttural and had a certain gruff quality to it. The voice sounded from all angles, and he couldn't pinpoint the source despite the magnitude of its sound.
“Who's there?” he shouted out loud.
“What's this?” replied the voice. “To speak, but not in my tongue?” It paused. “What the hell's this about?”
“I... who's speaking?” demanded Phaiel.
“Don't you know me?” it said pretentiously.
“Show yourself! Stop hiding!”
“Why would I hide? I am right here; you blind? The question is, what are you?”
“What do you mean 'what'? I'm human.”
“Human? That filth?”
“Filth? Hey listen here, as much as I don't care for being insulted, I still want to know where you're coming from. Stop playing mind games already.”
“Damn it, stop trying to confuse me! What have you done with my body? I can feel the grass underfoot, but why does it not burst into flames?”
“Why would it?”
“Who the hell do you think I am? Why would you ask such a stupid question?”
“Hey,” said Phaiel, tired of mincing words, “I just want to know who you are so that I can go home.” The word 'home' struck something somewhere in Phaiel's mind as being particularly odd. He couldn't pinpoint what exactly was odd about it. In a sudden burst of realization, he found out the source of his discomfort. “Home: where is home exactly?”
“Mount Chimney,” replied the voice simply.
“Who am I for that matter?”
“Simple, you must be a figment of my imagination brought upon by fatigue. Damn, that fight must have really worn me out.”
“Then who're you?”
“Groudon, *****. Who else,” it replied simply.
Despite what you may think, Izan isn't just Mizan without the 'M', nor is he a sneaky self insert.
Anyway, posting irregularly due to a bad internet connection, I decided to update this thing here.
Chapter 5 – A Brief Interlude into the Lives of Men
(Because some stories are worth telling.)
Part 1 – Those who follow orders
The gleaming, white aircraft slowly, elegantly descended into the cloud layer. It dove into the mass of white, deceivingly-fuzzy, frozen water crystals slowly, though at an angle which allowed for a constant drop in altitude while maintaining a certain comfortability for the passengers it carried. Water condensed on the cockpit window and rolled of in tiny rivulets as the plane pushed through the wind at an astonishing speed. The cockpit lights dimly lit the interior, though they were unnecessary as the first glimpses of sunlight had begun to inch its away over the horizon.
In the cockpit, the pilot, Rin Mitarashi, gently eased the flight control stick to gradually decelerate the plane as she spotted the large, man-made island-***-airport afloat in the centre of Johto Bay. Lights danced across the surface of the water and accentuated the position of the airport from the extreme contrasts the two created against one another. The glare of the sun, however, went unnoticed to Rin as the anti-glare shielding on the cockpit window managed to diffuse any excess light that would have normally deemed irritating –fatal under the right circumstances. The cockpit itself was comfortably designed in its own right. Two black, heated, leather seats, a temperature control system, and various computerised gadgetry helped the occupants of flight cabin to alleviate much of the stress that was usually associated with the long flights suffered by various pilots across the world. It was to be expected of course; it was hardly a normal plane, and the current passengers were nothing less than VVIPs.
Despite all the creature comforts, Rin could not help but feel slightly uneasy throughout the entire flight. It wasn't the fault of the plane --she rather enjoyed all that it had to offer, it was but the fault of Izanagi Yamada (otherwise, Izan) who sat in the opposite chair, the co-pilots seat. What it was that was bothering her was not his presence –again, she enjoyed and welcomed that too, but it was his mood that put her off. An aura of depression seemed to cling stubbornly to Izan's immediate surroundings, therefore also affecting Rin. To put it simply, Izan was usually most animated around Rin whom enjoyed his company as much as he enjoyed hers, but this time there was none of the usual friendly conversation that brought the two together. Only silence. Not a complete silence, the hum of the engine was clearly heard, but a silence of words that was unusual for Rin who had never known Izan to be so quiet.
Upon inspection, Izan seemed to be lost in thought. His eyes stared forward with an expression that suggested something dead and his mouth was very slightly agape. There was none of his usual vitality, none of his wit, and none of his cheerful personality that he usually had around Rin. Even his usual sharp, serious attitude had been replaced with what might be called passiveness or slight lethargy.
Ignoring Izan for the time being, though, Rin focused on bringing down the plane for a safe landing.
The plane touched down on the hard tarmac of runway four. Rin let go of the steering and stretched her arms to the ceiling, relieving the stiffness of the flight. She could have just activated the auto-pilot as most would do, but for her there was no excitement in doing that. Whenever she flew a plane it was manual all the way. It was not that she distrusted the flight computer –it was even more reliable than her on long flights, she just preferred to fly the old-fashioned way.
A hatch extended from the plane's fuselage as Shi opened it from the inside. He held his hand at the revolver strapped to his belt and observed the surrounding area intently. The runway which they had just landed on was reserved especially for this occasion. Taking a few cautionary steps down the hatch stair, he made sure that the surrounding area was clear of any people who hadn't been authorized to enter runway four, the only runway in the airport that was reservable upon request and was maintained in pristine condition due to its high demand. The silence of the runway was broken by the occasional deafening roar from the commercial aircraft that landed every few minutes or so on the other runways.
Taking note of the clear path, Izan signalled to Dr. Amadeus that he could exit the plane. Dr. Amadeus stepped out of the shade of the plane's interior to be confronted by the blazing, early morning sun. He shielded his eyes and waited for both Rin and Izan to disembark from the plane.
“Where's the shuttle?” asked Dr. Amadeus.
“It will arrive in due time,” replied Shi. “Yamada-san probably only just called the private arrivals department. He's been looking unfocused ever since we left the facility.”
“I suppose he would.”
“Do you know anything about this, sir?”
“All in good time. Let's check into our hotel first. I want to make a few calls.”
“As I've said, all in good time.”
Dr. Amadeus and Shi waited patiently as the two from the cockpit walked out of the cockpit. From the same door, emerged a dishevelled looking Izan whose eyes betrayed his usual façade of indifference. Rin followed suit, pausing only to help Izan down the steps as he stumbled slightly.
“Have you called the arrivals?” asked Shi.
“What?” said Izan, looking up in a daze.
“The arrivals department: have you called them to arrange for the shuttle?”
“I... no,” Izan said simply, his mouth running dry. “My apologies, sir.” He directed this statement towards Dr. Amadeus. Then, he took out his phone and noticed that the battery had run dry. “I'll fetch them myself.” Izan walked off towards the tarmac of the taxiway which would lead him to the main airport building. There was no mistaking the aura of depression that surrounded him.
“Mitarashi-san,” said Shi, “is something wrong with Yamada-san?”
“He's been in a daze ever since we boarded,” said Rin. She pulled out her own mobile phone from her uniform pocket. “I just realised that he even forgot that I could have lent him my phone.”
“Any cause that I'm not aware of?”
“No,” said Rin, fully aware of Shi's directness. “Sir?” she asked Dr. Amadeus.
Dr. Amadeus stared at the rapidly departing Izan. “All in good time.”
The shuttle rolled down the taxiway, the three – Dr. Amadeus, Shi, and Rin-- sat inside quietly, each of them barely saying a word to each other. The silence was most noticed by Rin who was usually said to have had the gift of the gab and didn't really enjoy not talking when given a perfectly good opportunity. Here however, she didn't try to even strike up a conversation. Dr. Amadeus and Shi would certainly just ignore her. This wasn't something new to her, though. She was painfully aware that in some ways, Shi was almost exactly like Dr. Amadeus. Not in looks, but in mannerisms and personality. For instance, both of them always seemed to talk only when necessary, they almost never laughed, and that they never tried to be friendly when unnecessary. She also knew that both of them were never perfectly truthful, only revealing the details of their actions after having the plan set in motion. She bit her lip lightly as she wondered on what Dr. Amadeus had done to turn Izan's mood so horribly south.
As the shuttle rolled to a stop at the entrance of the lobby, the three of them disembarked and started walking briskly towards the glass sliding doors, the entrance for the airport lobby. The sliding door slid opened and two people entered. Rin had, instead, backtracked around the side of the building where earlier, she had spotted a minute plume of smoke rising into the sky.
She walked quickly, her face stern. What idiot would dare to smoke in an airport? In runway four, no less. She entered the wide space between the hangars and quickly found the shaded area where the rule-breaker was located. “Oi, smoker!” she shouted angrily as she stalked towards a lone figure hunched over near the wall of the hangar, traces of smoke pouring out of his nostrils. “Don't you know it's illegal to--” Her voice cut off abruptly. The same feeling of unease from the plane passed through her body once more. There was something oddly familiar about that person. She squinted her eyes and through the darkness of the shade, she could just barely make out the solitary figure of-- “Izan,” she whispered.
Izan looked up and around wildly when he heard her voice. Turning to his right, he saw Rin striding towards him slowly, precaution evident in every step she took. Noticing that it was only Rin, he relaxed and continued to smoke. As she came closer, he stood up slowly, inhaled deeply, the acrid smoke burning his lungs, and exhaled. He took the cigarette out of his mouth and held it between two fingers. “Go away, Rin,” he said.
“Izan... I thought you quit smoking.”
“Yeah, well **** happens doesn't it,” he said, taking another puff. The surrounding air was thick with smoke. On the floor, Rin noticed a few other burnt up cigarette butts.
“You're not making any sense. Take that cancer stick out of your mouth.” She moved forward cautiously.
“Rin, go away.”
“Please,” she said with a touch of desperation in her voice.
“I said go away!” he shouted. The cigarette dropped from in between his fingers and he stepped on it with his boots roughly. He glared at her angrily (unwillingly?)
“What's wrong? You're not usually like this,” said Rin, unphased by his shouting.
“Oh God, Rin, just mind your own damn business.” He turned around in a huff, banged his fist on the concrete wall, and rested his head on it lightly. “I mean it when I say leave me alone. I'll come when the doctor calls, alright.”
“You're not acting like your usual self.”
“Is that right?” he said sarcastically. “Maybe sometimes I don't want to be all cheery and whatnot. Rin, stop trying to butt into everything. You can't make everyone happy!”
For an instant, she considered saying the words, 'Well I can damn well try!' but thought better against it. Instead, she continued forward silently, and --when she was within an arm's reach-- held out her hand. He swatted it away roughly, then –with the same hand-- banged his fist onto the concrete wall of the hangar, breathing in irregularly, hyperventilating. A feeling of helplessness coupled with a twinge of self disgust, or rather guilt, wrapped itself stubbornly around Izan's conscious mind. He didn't want these feelings. They were too real, too persistent, too uncomfortable. Any logical thought vanished from Izan's usually calm demeanour. The only thing he knew was that he didn't want to feel. Then, in a futile but emotion-driven attempt to rid himself of the psychological stress, he brought his head back slightly, and rammed it full force into the rough concrete before him.
“Izan!” shouted Rin, shocked. In the few years that she had worked with him, she had never seen him lose control like this. Rin moved swiftly forward, grabbed hold of his arm, and pulled on his less-than-lightweight frame, attempting to stop him from hurting himself. The difference in strength was evident.
Izan shook hard on his arm and moved to shove her out of the way. She wasn't one for leaving herself open for assault and dodged his arm ever so slightly. Then, using the momentum of the moment, she bent down low and lightly kicked his shin. Izan turned to face her in surprise rather than pain, and Rin could see that his forehead was bleeding profusely from his own self-inflicted abuse. Rather than feeling worried, Rin's military training kicked in and, taking advantage of Izan's temporary surprise, she flitted nimbly in between him and the wall, grabbed both his arms, and brought him down crashing to the ground. “Izan,” she said soothingly, “stop it.”
Unexpectedly, instead of fighting back, Izan just laid there calmly. He did not try to resist even though he was being pinned down by Rin. A little more than two seconds passed when a slight gasp and a dry sob escaped Izan's mouth followed by a sharp breath. “You just don't understand,” said Izan through gritted teeth. He held back his tears and said, “Get off, Rin, I'm okay now.”
“Are you sure?” she said suspiciously.
She released her hold on him and he got up, slowly getting into a sitting position, rubbing his wrists. “Thanks,” he said. Then, he leaned his back on the wall as his rapid breathing subsided to be replaced with his much more usually calm demeanour. Unexpectedly, he put his hands in his head and began to moan softly, the fresh blood trickling down his palms. He brought his knees closer to his body and hunched himself up, covering his face.
“What's wrong?” asked Rin. “Why've you been acting so weird since we left?”
Izan removed his hands from his face and looked at Rin sadly. His eyes betrayed his usual self confidence and cold sweat glistened visibly on his forehead. His hands had accidentally smeared the blood from his head across various parts of his face, giving him a ghastly appearance. He looked downwards for a brief period, ashamed, and took a deep, steadying, breath. “I'll tell you,” he said shakily. “The doctor's probably going to tell you and that person anyway, but just act as if you've never heard it before. Okay?”
She looked over her shoulder just in case anyone was eavesdropping, nodded, and sat down beside him. After that, she fished around in her coat pocket for a handkerchief to give to Izan.
“You know the NG facility?”
“Yes, we just left from there a few hours ago.”
“Did we? Sorry I'm still a bit dizzy from the blood loss.”
“It's okay.” Rin handed him the cloth.
“Thanks. Where was I? Oh yeah, you remember the facility? Well, you also know the purging operation Shi's Special Ops was supposed to carry out?” The handkerchief remained in his hand. He hadn't used it.
“Of course, those were direct orders from Dr. Amadeus. It's just that, I'm a bit sketchy on the details. You know I'm only in charge of the air-force.”
“Yes, well the scientists...”
“Yes, the scientists have all been relocated and wiped,” she said impatiently while looking at her watch, “I'm sorry, he might send for us at any minute. What happened next?”
“Yes we've established that.”
“--are all dead.” He buried his head in his hands again.
“What?” said Rin, her face turning pale.
“Dead, Rin. Dead.” He brought his legs closer to his body in a tighter cocoon of self-pity and began to breathe in short bursts again.
“How?” she asked weakly.
“I... I was ordered to... to disable the exits,” he said in between short gasps. “W...when the facility flooded, o...our people went d...do...down with it.” He had started to shiver uncontrollably. It was not due to the cold, however.
“What about the special-ops team?”
“They didn't go,” he said simply. “Damn it, Rin, what else could I have done!”
The revelation had shocked her. For all she knew, the facility was only to be abandoned, not completely purged of every single life-form in it. She grasped desperately for words of comfort or reprimandation, but neither surfaced. Instead, she just bowed her head softly and muttered a short, “I'm sorry, I didn't know.”
“It's not your fault.” He brought the handkerchief up to his face and began to dab lightly at the various parts on his face where blood had began to pool. It was difficult to tell whether or not there were tears on his face.
“Neither was this whole mess yours,” she replied.
“Then why do I feel so terrible?” he moaned.
She didn't answer. It was not so obvious that it was rhetoric, but she had known Izan long enough to know how he talked. Instead, she tried a different tact. She pat his back slowly.
“It... it's okay. They were orders from the top right? It's for the greater good, like Dr. Amadeus always says.” Her words sounded hollow, even to her.
“What greater good, Rin?” a hint of confidence seemed to return to his voice. “We don't know what he's planning. He keeps on saying 'greater good' this and 'greater good' that, but I don't see anything. You know why I joined the Conglomerate's army? It's not the money, no. It was because I thought I could do some good, you know? It's the most clichéd reason in the world, but what other reason could there be?”
“There's the killing.”
“Sick bastards,” he muttered.
“Sorry, I can't help saying what comes in my mind.”
“I don't blame you,” he said, knowing wholeheartedly that he did.
“I know I'm not one to talk, seeing as I can't imagine how you must feel right now, but try to look at it this way. Remember the Sinnoh Civil War? We killed there too. In the dozens.”
“We killed the enemies, Rin. Enemies.”
“Still, you can't deny the fact that we killed, Izan. Please don't hold it against me or anything –I'm sure I'd be feeling the same way if I was in your position, but taking a human life is the same no matter who's doing the killing.”
“No, Rin. Killing the enemy is much, much, more easier. Do you know what a good soldier instinctively learns to feel?” Rin shook her head. “We learn, or rather feel, that the enemy is sub-human, at best. It makes it a hell of a lot easier to deal with. As for comrades... let me put it this way. A soldier is only ever told to shoot his comrades in the back if they retreat from combat prematurely. The scientists were civilians. I don't see anything to gain from killing them. We have ME technology for God's sake. We don't even need to kill anymore to make people forget.”
Rin sighed. “I can't honestly say I know how you feel. It must be tough, but it's tough for any human to kill knowingly. We gave up our humanity when we enlisted, Izan. Look at Shi, he's barely human. I can try to feel your pain, but we won't gain anything from that.”
“You sound like them,” said Izan impassively.
A narrow smile crossed Rin's face. “Come on, get up. We're soldiers. We just follow orders. The devil owns our souls now.”
“That's pretty pessimistic, don't you think?”
“It doesn't change the bare fact that I killed them. All of them and for no reason.”
“The reason should be clear enough. It was for the greater good.” This time, she put more emphasis into her words. Willing herself to believe her own statements.
“Greater good, my ass. Tell me, what kind of greater good is the good doctor planning?” A hint of sarcasm entered his voice. “Is it in the form of world peace, furthering our knowledge, or maybe just plain making the world a better place. Maybe that reason sufficed when I entered office two years ago, but this latest order isn't making his proposal any more attractive or less vague for that matter.
“I don't make it my purpose to find out, Izan. The Conglomerate's army isn't a one time thing for one goal. We work here and there and can only assume the greater good is changing the world bit by bit to make it more liveable. Do you think we're working to a single goal? It's not like we're some super-villain's army or something.
Izan breathed in through his nose deeply. “That doesn't answer the main question. It only answers the question which derives from the first one. Why was I ordered to kill the scientists? They weren't dangerous.”
“They might have been, as far as we know.”
“You're being ridiculous.”
“No, deadly serious. They had that thing. They could have programmed it for their own interests.”
“It's not a robot--”
“It was still dangerous. And you know, the system did fail at the last minute: it could have escaped.”
“I know... I know, but –it's something I can't explain, I don't think the scientists would have any motive to do that. They were scientists, not soldiers, not power hungry.”
A sudden thought struck Rin and she voiced it aloud. “Or maybe,” said Rin, her face lighting up a fraction, “it was containment.”
“Explain.” Izan looked up curiously. The thought had never crossed his mind till now.
“You were ordered to seal the exits not to kill the scientists, but to contain the subject. It should be dead by now.”
Izan suddenly turned to stare at her face hopefully but then stopped and released a sigh. “Good thinking, but I received the orders around the same time Shi was ordered to purge the facility. That is to say, before we knew the system would fail. Either way, we'd have killed the thing and the other facilities would continue the research as planned. It would still die is what I'm trying to say.”
“Look at it this way, at least you killed it before it escaped.”
“It was going to die anyw--”
“But you killed it,” she interjected firmly. “It'll make you feel better.”
Izan was silent for a few seconds. Rin couldn't tell what he was thinking.
“Come on.” She tugged lightly on his sleeve and stood up herself.
“Thanks,” he said softly. “I'm not dropping it, but at least I feel better. Just... just let me be alone for a few minutes. I at least deserve that bit of peace.”
“No smoking or head-banging?”
“I'll wait for you just over there.”
“I'm not a child, Rin.”
Part 2 – Those who've fallen from grace
“You can open your eyes, Mr. Silver,” said a somewhat confident, somewhat feminine voice. Silver opened his eyes and immediately shut them as his vision was flooded with an overly bright, white light.
“'s too bright...” he muttered. He'd just woken up, and, as far as he could gather, he was lying down on some sort of chair with a firm but soft backing. A bit like a dentists chair.
“The eyes will take some getting used to. Try opening them slowly but don't push yourself. The shock might kill you.”
Only one word had registered in his mind. “Eyes?”
“Your new eyes,” said the voice impatiently. In the darkness, Silver heard the tinkling sound of glass and the vaguely familiar sound of a dentist's metal tray being pushed, the instruments clinking together as they were jostled around on the surface. He wondered if this was some sort of dentistry. Then he wondered on what a dentist would be doing talking about eyes.
“My eyes?” he said curiously. “My eyes?” And it all came rushing back to him. The Jupiter Ring, that bastard Amadeus, the faulty goggles. “What happened to my eyes? I remember a white flash, but that's about it.”
“Burned out, to put it simply. Now open them, I don't have all day.”
“Burned out...” He let the weight of the words sink in.
“Yes, burned out. Open your eyes”
“So I was brought here then...”
“Just open your damn eyes will you!” shouted the voice impatiently, not even trying to show respect.
“Who do you think you're talking to!” shouted Silver as he got up all of a sudden, his eyes snapping open. Once more, he shut his eyes reflexively as their extra photosensitive state let in too much light. He hissed in pain and his hands instinctively went to his eyes.
“That's right, Mr. Silver. Not so tough now are you, huh.”
“Shut your trap, woman.”
“Woman? That's doctor to you.”
“Oh right, the stupidity. I forget that you don't know what a doctor is,” said the woman sarcastically.
“No, no, what kind.”
“Medical. I'm treating you here, aren't I? You could at least try to be grateful that you're not blind.”
He leaned back down on the chair. “I'm not blind...” Silver said as if to convince himself. “My head is aching, though.” He brought one hand to rest lightly on the side of his head as if to subdue the dull throb that emanated throughout his skull.
“Probably from the morphine. Just open your eyes –slowly.”
Silver followed her instructions. Cautiously, he opened his eyelids a fraction forming two slits that carefully let in a marginal amount of light. He waited for them to adjust appropriately –it seemed to take quite a while-- and then began to expand the slit in which light was allowed through. Through tears, he opened his eyes confronted with the scene of a small surgery and a bright overhead lighting fixture which seemed to be attached to the chair. It was not unlike a surgery light. To his right, he noticed the source of the voice. A brown-haired, female doctor wearing a brown turtle neck sweater. Her arms were crossed and her face wore an expression of subtle annoyance. He blinked a few times to clear the tears and rubbed his eyes with the back of his palm. So far so good.
He looked around the surgery more carefully, noting the whiteness of it all, and was immediately relieved at being able to see. He didn't think he'd be able to handle going blind. For that, he was grateful. Restored sight, however, came at a price. That price was a decrease in ability. That is to say, there was something drastically different about his sight. His field of vision was much more limited than before. For one thing, he did not have the perfect stereoscopic vision which was present in almost all higher mammals. At least, not effectively.
Though light entered his eyes as usual, the outer portion of his field of view was severely blurred, only allowing the greatest focus at the center of the eyes and none of the gradual lessening of optical clarity associated with the difference of density in the of photoreceptor cells throughout the retina. Furthermore, there seemed to be a greenish, monochromatic haze about the room with certain luminescent numbers floating lazily in front of his eyes. He could still see in colour, but the haze distilled the effect somewhat. The numbers, on the other hand, changed constantly and he was partially certain this had something to do with the morphine.
He raised a hand to face-level and stared at it through his new eyes that seemed alien to him. An unnatural part of his body. He said, “It still feels unreal to me somehow. I would have thought that an eye transplant would need rehab or something. Now you're telling me that I only need to open my eyes a bit and I'm good to go?”
“Eye transplant?” she said innocently, almost mockingly.
“Yes, eye transplant. What do you take me for, an idiot?”
“Completely.” Her tone was humourless and she said it in a way that one would comment on the obvious.
Silver felt his rage boil up at this insolent woman. Who the hell did she think she was? She couldn't just screw with the leader of Team Rocket and get away with this. He'd see to it that her little surgery here would be ruined. Just one phone call to the nearest field agents and he'd have the building raided and the doctor begging to be let free. He smirked a little at the thought. The doctor, not missing a beat, said, “And what are you smirking at?”
He didn't answer. Instead, he said, “You haven't answered my question. I asked you, if I would need rehab? Rehabilitation, then, if your going to answer all my questions with questions.”
She smiled tightly to herself. “You're not going to need rehab with eyes like those. They're the latest in cybernetic technology straight from the Infinity prosthetics line itself.”
“Cybernetic technology...” he said weakly. Despite being a partner, somewhat, of the Infinity Conglomerate, this was all news to him. He would have thought that Team Rocket would be more influential than this. He couldn't stand for his organization to be playing lackey to the much larger Infinity Conglomerate. It was surely humiliation of the highest order. His ignorance at products like these confirmed that.
A moment of awkward silence passed in which Silver took a while to test out the capabilities of his new eyes. All the while, the doctor continued to stand up, arms crossed, while staring placidly at Silver. He was the first to break the silence. “Who's paying for this then?”
An affronted look passed through her face. “Who said anything about pa--” she stopped abruptly. Then, in an obviously condescending tone, she said, “You don't actually know where you are, do you?”
“No, I don't really care just yet. I want to know who's paying for this, and who brought me here, Marcus?”
She frowned. “Mr. Williams is currently in the other room, having waited for you for six hours straight. Yes, he did bring you here, but I don't think you fully understand the situation you currently find yourself in.”
“What's there to understand. I was hurt, and Marcus brought me to the nearest private practice he found. So who's paying for this.” He emphasized the last question greatly. He didn't want blindness, but he didn't want to have to transfer money to this woman either. He knew from experience that it was harder to get back the money once transferred, even after his field agents had done their work. He decided not to risk it and asked the same question again but more forcefully.
The doctor shook her head. I'm not going through all the trouble to explain this to you. You can ask your aide later. That is, once the boss is done with you.”
This piqued his interest. “Boss? Are you not a private practice?”
“How little you know.”
“Are you a private practice?” he asked forcefully.
“No, but that's all you're getting out of me on the subject of payment and such.”
“Fine then. Answer me this: where am I? What region? What city?”
“I'm not at liberty to discuss that.”
Silver sighed. He wasn't going to get anywhere with this woman. He'd just have to make the best of it and get more information out of her on other things. His new eyes for instance.
“This greenish haze--” he trailed off as if waiting for her to finish his sentence for him.
This time, her smile was of a sadistic pleasure. “Permanent,” she said. It was almost as if she was waiting for that very question to be asked. “The floating numbers and the limited vision too I might add. You're not going to get used to them and have them start working like your old eyes again if that's what you're asking. As for the numbers, they're just miscellaneous statistics pre-programmed to be displayed upon your vision. I don't know what they mean, but I'm guessing it has something to do with these eyes being the mass produced military version. Although, try as they might, scientists don't yet have the technology to create real eyes. A pale imitation, like the one in your head right now, is, I guess, the best that they can come up with at the moment.” She waited a while for the gravity of the situation to sink in. “You won't be able to see as before. So you see, Infinity's generosity has its limits.” She sniffed superiorly. “I hope that's answered all your questions.”
“This isn't temporary?”
“I've just said: no.”
Again, Silver fell quiet. He felt that there were no longer any questions left to be answered. Or at least, he was not curious enough to be asking any questions. The revelation that his eyes would no longer work as they used to came as a bit of a shock to him. He had always seen the world in perfect clarity, and now he would no longer be able to. He had never been one for art or appreciating nature and now he regretted not doing so sooner. He felt a certain sense of loss. It wasn't very big, but it did cause him some slight discomfort.
The door to the surgery suddenly swung open, interrupting his silent reflection. Silver turned to the door and said, almost reflexively, “Marcus?”
“Marcus?” answered another voice, also female. Standing in the doorway, the source of the voice, stood a young girl, barely into her teens. She wasn't very tall, but she wasn't at all short, and her hair was a dark black colour that had been dyed blue strategically. The clothing she wore, was simple, if not noticeably neat, and a small cylinder –of what appeared to be breath-mints-- fitted snugly into her breast pocket. She was Eliza Reesent.
“I believe that's the name of his aide,” said another woman, standing slightly behind Eliza. This was of course, Ai Shinozaki, thought Silver.
“You mean that one in the waiting room? He doesn't look like much of an aide to me. Not like you, Ai.”
“Thank you, my lady.”
“I didn't mean it as a compliment, and you know that!” said Eliza hotly, as though giving anyone a compliment was a grave insult.
“I regard it as one anyway,” said Ai.
“My lady,” said the doctor all of a sudden.
Eliza turned to look at the doctor curiously. “You are?” she asked.
“Dr. Mei Weng.” There was considerably more respect in Dr. Weng's voice as she spoke to Eliza than when she spoke to Silver. She definitely works for Eliza, thought Silver.
“Ah, uh, Dr. Mei--”
“Weng,” interjected Ai, “that's her surname.
“Shut up, I knew that.” Despite being the head of a criminal organization, Eliza was, at times, unbearably immature. That was what Silver thought anyway. “Dr. Weng,” she said, “nice to meet you.”
“The pleasure is all mine, my lady.”
“I take it that you're the doctor assigned to Silvy over here?”
“Silvy?” thought Silver angrily.
“Yes, my lady.”
“Hey, hold up,” interrupted Silver.
“No, you shut it!” shouted Eliza, angry all of a sudden. “I talk first, you sit still until I'm done talking. Get that?” She stared at him angrily. Silver was taken aback at her sudden outburst. What had he done? Eliza continued, “You were saying.”
Dr. Weng, also visibly surprised, regained her composure and replied, “You were asking me if I was the doctor assigned to Mr. Silver.”
“And you said?”
“Oh, alright then.” She turned to Silver. “Now, where to begin, where to begin?”
“You could start--” began Silver.
“What did I say?” screamed Eliza.
“Okay, okay, geez...” Ai looked at Silver apologetically.
A few seconds passed in which it looked as if Eliza was deep in concentration. “Okay, got it!” she said suddenly. “You,” she said, a note of triumph in her voice, “belong to me now.” Eliza looked at him while grinning a small, ecstatic smile.
“You belong to me.”
“Belong? Now wait here, little miss big boss,” --he used the phrase 'big boss' sarcastically-- “I'm Silver. I don't belong to ****ing no one, got that!” Before she could retort, he stuffed his hand into his pocket and pulled out a mobile phone. He flipped it open and pressed the speed dial which would connect him directly to his nearest field agents.
Eliza made as if to say something, but then stopped at the last minute. Her grin grew wider and slightly more ecstatic the longer Silver spent on the phone. For Silver, the call that should have connected in less than ten seconds did not. In fact, it even disconnected without so much as a warning. This was surprising, as there was no way one of his agent could reject a call. Their communication devices weren't capable of it. Even if they ignored it, the call would still connect and he would at least get some form of audio from the receiving end.
Undaunted, Silver tried again. More calls, more disconnections. Finally, he tried headquarters and was met with even more failure. Soon after, he gave up on the phone and slowly slid it back into his pocket.
All the while Silver had futilely tried to establish contact with his organization, Eliza had been laughing ecstatically to herself. She snorted and giggled maniacally in a manner not many would consider sane. While this went on, Silver, realising that he was in a vulnerable position (on the chair) got off and put himself out of arm's reach of any of the three women, the surgery chair between them. Silver silently sized up the three and tried to determine which one would pose more of a threat. He wasn't military trained, sure, but he did have street smarts and with that, a vague form of self defence which involved blindly attacking an assailant.
Eliza's laughter gradually died down. Her eyes were wide eyed and wild from laughing and she clutched her stomach to contain herself. Ai did nothing but stare emotionlessly at Eliza. She was used to this kind of thing happening, and, as Eliza's personal assistant, had developed an immunity towards Eliza's random outbursts. Dr. Weng, on the other hand, was not used to this at all. She wasn't a psychologist or any kind of specialist –merely a general practitioner at best, but even she knew that Eliza's laughing was far from normal. Silver, of course, did not care, as long as no harm came to himself.
Eliza breathed in deeply in long, drawn out gasps, gradually suppressing her apparent hilarity. At the same time, Ai pat her back. “Bravo, bravo, Mr Silver,” she said. “Come on, call your field agents, your strike teams, your personal assassins, wherever they may be. I'll wait here until you're ready. It won't be long.”
Silver stared at her coldly. “What do you mean, belong?” he said.
Eliza smiled her cold smile. “I mean exactly that. You; your organization, that is to say Team Rocket; your bases of operation, in both Kanto and Johto; your personnel; and generally your entire operation now belong to me.” A touch of malice entered the final syllable of 'me', as if to emphasize her sole ownership of all the aforementioned property.
Silver froze. He hadn't been expecting this at all. He still didn't even know where he was or why Team Hydra (he assumed that Dr. Weng belonged to them) would bother to restore his eyesight, and now he was being confronted by this child and being told that he had lost ownership of his entire organization. “No,” he said after a while, “stop playing around, kid.”
“Kid?” she shouted incredulously. “I'm Eliza Reesent, head and founder of Team Hydra! I'm no damn child. I've seen people die first hand. Don't you dare underestimate me!”
Silver ignored her outburst. “Team Rocket's still mine. I own it. Do you think you can just take over a criminal organization like you can a business? We don't have legal contracts for you to take. We aren't registered in any list with my name as the leader. We're held together by their loyalty to me!” He thumped his chest as if to reaffirm his statement. There was no way Team Rocket could just pass ownership that easily. For one thing, it's not like there were any contracts involved.
Ai stepped forward, about to say something, but Eliza held her back. “I want to do it,” she said. She looked Silver squarely in the eye, her face stern, and said, “I'm not a child, as I've said. Do you for a moment think that I'm not aware of that despite me having my own organization to handle. Do you think Ai does everything, oh no. It's me! I organize Team Hydra, I meet up with my generals, I negotiate with business partners. Me! Me!” She breathed in deeply through her nose. It was evident that she was angry. “And you know what, your precious Team Rocket is mine!”
“Then tell me, how?” Silver sniffed disinterestedly. He still didn't believe her. It was too far-fetched.
“Team Rocket is weak,” she said in response. “It's been going downhill for years, ever since Giovanni left. It's deteriorated. It only ever does small time operations any more. Nothing major. I've seen your protection areas. How many businesses actually pay you any more? How many people listen to the name Team Rocket and fear it as they did ten years ago? Your men have gradually lost the will to fight. You have no cause. You're just thugs, disorganized crime for profit. Nothing like it was back in its hey-day when the old Team Rocket even managed to paralyse Silph for a while. And now there's you. Do you think you can rekindle a dying flame? You're not even trying any more.”
Silver was dumbstruck, but he did not show it. Everything she had just said hit home, and yet he refused to believe it. “No,” he said defiantly, “Team Rocket's still as powerful as ever. You can't just--”
“But I have,” she interrupted him. “Team Rocket's no more. You've been assimilated into Team Hydra.”
“How then,” he said, faltering.
“How, is easy. Money. Lots of money. Like I said, Team Rocket's not even a proper organization anymore. All your men have no goal apart from money. They thrive on the easy cash you get from selling Pokémon. You have no goals. Not even schemes to gain more profit. Team Hydra, however, has them. We have more future prospects. We also have more money, and we cover more area.”
“I've got enough of this.” He pulled out his phone again, and, instead of activating the speed dial, he called Marcus on his regular number. Eliza watched silently for a second time. For a moment, it seemed as though she would burst into maniacal laughter as before, but she restrained herself by biting on the inside of her cheek. In moments like this, silent realization would be sweetest.
The phone rang, once, twice, and Marcus answered. “Yes sir.” His voice was admittedly much more shaky, and he did not sound as confident as he usually was. “How did the operation go? I trust you're doing well.”
“Never mind that, Marcus. I'm fine,” said Silver impatiently. “I'm with that Eliza kid right now,” --Eliza bristled but said nothing-- “and I want you to contact HQ. I can't get a signal.”
Marcus responded quietly after a pause, “I'm sorry, sir. I did all I could.” --Marcus breathed in-- “They raided Central while we were away. It was... bloodless, to say the least.”
For the second time that day (he was unsure of what time it was), Silver froze. “What do you mean,” he said quietly.
“I don't know if she's told you, but we're done. Finished. There's no more Team Rocket to speak off. We're dead, so to speak.”
“How did it happen?”
“I'll say it again, sir. It was bloodless. I can only assume from what they told me was that most of the men were bribed into joining. About the senior officers, I don't know. I can only assume that double-oh-nine, the Black Tulip, was probably on their side. I saw her here a few hours ago, new uniform and all. The rest--”
Silver couldn't bear to hear the rest and cut him off in mid-speech. “And you, Marcus? Where do your loyalties lie?”
Even through the phone, Silver noticed Marcus' voice perk up ever so slightly. “With you all the way, sir. But I don't think that it'll make any difference. However, I do have a small consolation. Your Pokémon are with me right now. They gave it to me to keep. I don't know why, though.”
Silver closed the phone softly, cancelling the call. He had had enough. Eliza watched on, still smiling, still subdued, thought not without malice “Finished?” she asked.
He did not answer. He glared silently at her and slowly made his way to the door. He did not have anything to say to her anymore. He would leave this place, wherever it was, and start again. He wasn't entirely sure how he would accomplish this, but he hoped that Marcus could somehow give him some help. He had, after all, only taken over his father's dead organization –rekindled, to use Eliza's term-- and pushed forward with the pre-existing momentum left over from the past five years of silence.
He opened the door, but Ai held his shoulder. He glared back hatefully at Ai who looked at him impassively. “I believe, my lady has something to say to you.”
“What is it?” began Silver sarcastically, “Are you going to say sorry, huh? Your apologies for ruining my life?” He said it mockingly, not even trying to hide his contempt.
Eliza ignored his tone of voice. “Not at all,” she said. “I'm just wondering where it is you're going?”
“What's it to you?”
Her eyes widened in surprise. “And here I thought that you weren't as hopeless as Ai at picking up hints. Didn't you hear me? I said, you, your organization, your assets, all belong to me.”
“Yeah, so? You've ruined me, so what?”
“You, belong to me.” She added emphasis to the first syllable. “As in, your right to be human, your life, it belongs to me.”
“I?” he said disbelievingly. “I don't belong to you. What right do you have to my body? I own every single cell, every single atom, of my own body. What do you think this is, the bloody dark ages? You can't just make me your slave. There are limits to what you can do!”
“I know that.” She produced her mobile phone from her pocket. It was a symbian touch phone, one of those new things that Silver didn't bother with. “You've installed that thing, right?” she asked Ai.
“Yes ma'am,” she replied.
“Okay...” said Eliza in a long drawn out fashion while flicking her finger, flipping through the various functions present on the screen. “Here it is.”
Silver stared suspiciously at Eliza, more specifically her phone. “What do you--” He didn't complete the sentence. Eliza pressed her finger lightly on the phone's touch screen and his sight failed completely, plunging his world into darkness. “What the hell?” he screamed. “What did you do to my eyes.” He grabbed wildly, blindly, in front of him, grabbing for the girl that he couldn't seem to reach.
“What?” she said innocently. “Your eyes? Don't you mean my eyes? The ones I gave to you out of the goodness of my heart. If Silver had his sight, he would've seen her eyes wide in mock surprise, and her hand at her chest as if to feign concern.
“Give me back my eyes!” he shouted. He stumbled around the room, crashing into equipment and making a mess. He heard a displeased sound come from Dr. Weng, which he ignored.
“Only if you say please,” she said teasingly.
“Please!” Desperation had entered his voice.
“Did I say that? I was only joking, of course. The 'P' word gets you nowhere in this day and age. If I said please give me all your base,” --she chuckled slightly to herself-- “would you?”
Silver didn't hear her. He was too caught up in panic over the prospect of not being able to see. His new eyes weren't perfect, but they were better than nothing. “Please!”
“Wait, wait,” she said, “I haven't shown you the best part. She ran her finger in a semi-circle shape across her phone. Immediately, Silver felt a slight tingling in the back of his eyes and a surge of electricity ran through his forehead, stimulating his pain receptors. He could not feel anything in his brain, of course, but it was unpleasant nonetheless. Pain coursed through his body and he fell to the floor gibbering madly. After what seemed hours, or minutes, the pain receded, almost as quickly as it had arrived.
“What gives?” said Eliza. “I haven't stopped it yet.”
“It's part of the programming, my lady. It's a fail-safe that cuts of the power after half a second of use at full blast to avoid you from killing him while providing an optimal amount of pain. It's not perfect, however. He needs to rest to recover from the shock. I think he won't risk a shock like that again.”
“That blows,” said Eliza, but she said nothing more as Dr. Weng brought in her own assistants to cart Silver off to one of the wards.