Thread: The Beta Place
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Old November 8th, 2008 (8:37 PM).
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JX Valentine JX Valentine is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
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Need a beta this time. My old one got caught up in real life. ^_^;

Title of Story: Anima Ex Machina
Fandom: Pokémon
Plot summary: When a meteor crash-lands in Hoenn, it unleashes onto the planet a species of parasitic pokémon that threatens all life on Earth. Meanwhile, a young pokémon researcher recruited to study the parasite finds himself involved in a lab accident that leaves him transformed and in the middle of the struggle between the alien invaders and several human organizations with their own agendas. Without any choice in the matter, he's forced to fight for the future of the planet, but is he the key to humankind's survival or a pawn for its destruction?
Genre: Science-fiction, dark fic
Rating (PG, R, etc): R (Blood, violence, torture, general disturbing images.)
Type of mentor needed: Proofreader or comprehensive
Writing sample of story: Current progress is here. Excerpt is the entirety of the prologue.

Twilight broke into night over Hoenn in waves: blue swallowed by red, red swallowed by black. One by one, taillow retreated to the trees for sleep, giving way to zubat fluttering across the black sky in search of prey. Cities gained white haloes of electric light as the human race fought the darkness of night. Far above, ignorant of mankind's attempt to preserve the daylight, the celestial forest of stars and planets and other points of white flickered to life.

One of them moved.

Dubbed MC-198 by the scientific community, the meteor sported the size and approximate mass of a school bus. That, along with the fact that it streaked down a path that crossed neatly with Earth, had kept astronomers' eyes on it for several months prior to its destined approach. For the past twenty-four hours, the city closest to the estimated point of impact, Fortree City, remained completely deserted save for the area's wild pokémon. Despite their curiosity and puzzlement over the long train of humans traveling in masses towards neighboring cities and the nagging sense that something was about to happen, few of them fled the area, particularly with the lack of anywhere else to go. For that reason, as day faded away into night, the wild pokémon could do nothing but stare skyward at the glowing streak that loomed closer.

Standing atop a hill, within a circle of rocks countless years old, was an absol whose red eyes were fixed on the falling star. He shifted on his paws as the cold but familiar feeling of dread sank into his bones. The minutes ticked closer to the blackest part of the night, but he could do nothing during that time but watch. There was no one to warn, not because the place was deserted but instead because of something else he could sense – a feeling of inevitability.

The meteor punched through the atmosphere and immediately burst into a brilliant ball of red and white. Absol's claws scraped against the dirt of the hill as he burst into a run down its face. To his side, the meteor fell rapidly, descending hundreds of feet in seconds towards the soft earth. Several linoone lifted their heads skyward as the absol passed by in his frantic search for safety.

He barely reached the edge of the lake some distance from the base of the hill when the meteor landed. The ground beneath his paws shook violently as a cloud of red dust spewed towards the heavens and quickly engulfed the area. Waves from the lake swallowed the sandy shores and flooded the Scorched Slab. In the distance, a great crack and subsequent crash signaled the literal fall of Fortree City, shaken free from its lofty perch in the trees of the forest. Unable to ground himself, the absol flew through the air and landed awkwardly on a paw. His mouth opened to release a great cry, but it was drowned by the rumbling and screams of both the trembling land and the dying pokémon further north.

Absol lay on the earth for what felt like hours as his ruby eyes watched the red cloud above him fade to allow the blood-red moon to shine through. Eventually, he tried to move, but his body ached. One of his paws was definitely injured – the back one that was already beginning to swell. He whimpered as he limped north, back towards the remains of his home.

Several yards away, a hole stood in his path, mostly concealed by the cloud of red dust. Gingerly, he limped on his twisted paw for what felt like an immense distance towards the lip of the crater. His throat whined, not because of the pain shooting up his leg but instead because of the familiar, cold feeling that seeped into his bones. When he finally ambled to the rocky edge of the crater, he cautiously looked downward, towards the rock at the exact center of the pit as the dust began to clear enough for its silhouette to appear. In the darkness, it lacked any sort of detail except for a crack lacing up the side of its worn exterior. Beyond the crack, a red glow emanated from the meteor's hollow interior, a glow that spilled onto the earth around its source.

It took a moment for the absol to realize that the glow moved. Instantly, his eyes widened, and he turned to stumble away towards the hill. With unseen eyes, the wave of red pouring from the meteor detected the absol's movement and rushed up the side of the crater. The white dog remained unaware that he was being pursued. All his attention went into running, but his injured ankle protested with each step. Eventually, it bent underneath him and sent him head-long into the dirt only a short distance from the crater. A sharp whine tore from his throat as he struggled to stand, but his pursuers were already upon him and washed against his hind legs in a wave of red. Small mouths tore his flesh in tiny bites until his skin was completely ripped off by a coat of red parasites. The dog wanted to scream, but all he could do was feel his legs give out, his body collapsing into the carpet of red that quickly overwhelmed him. He tried to open his muzzle to release a howl, but as soon as he did, the parasites took the opportunity to enter his body and consume him from the inside out. Unable to find a piece of the absol left to devour, parts of the entity pulled away from the dying canine to lunge towards the grass to the south of the crater. Slowly but surely, the entity slaughtered sleeping zigzagoon, kecleon, oddish – anything it came into contact with until it carved a path towards Mt. Pyre. The other entity, having picked the bones of the absol clean, moved northward across the crater and towards the fallen Fortree.

When the inhabitants of Fortree gradually returned throughout the course of the week, their only warning would be the blood-drained corpses of pokémon outside their matchstick city.

Other: I've been writing fanfiction for years, so I've tried my hardest to polish up the story before I submit it. However, I'm working with a lot of canon characters that I'm not used to using (particularly in the early chapters), so I'm a bit uncertain as to whether or not they're spot-on (or worse, if it sounds like I'm trying to hard and failing to get their characters right). Likewise, I have problems with phrasing and redundancy now and then, none of which I catch on my own. So, it'd be great if someone could look over my work and tell me if everything looks good.

Also, yes, I like for my betas to be as thorough as they'd like. Shred my story if you have to. I'm very excited to be working with this kind of idea, so I may get too ahead of myself and fail to explain myself clearly. Stopping me and pointing out every problem -- logic, phrasing, what have you -- you have with a scene (in order to go, "Wait. That doesn't make any sense whatsoever.") will only help me.

Additionally, concerning the position itself: If you sign up for this position, you've got to be thorough and active. Active especially because I'm currently working on chapter six, and my former beta got caught up with all kinds of real-life problems before he could finish chapter two. (As in, please don't take more than two weeks on one chapter. I know this sounds really picky, but I'm probably going to go fast until I decide to pay attention to my other projects. Don't worry; I'll always proofread before sending it to you to make your job easy.) Yes, you will have to go back and read the first two installments in order to avoid getting lost. (Sorry about that.) A taste for the genre is preferred but not required. My last beta was not a sci-fi fan, but this is going to be a long ride. Ergo, you'll want to be perfectly okay with sci-fi and, for that matter, violence. The excerpt should give you an idea of what level of violence we're talking about here.
Professional ninja. May or may not actually be back. Here for the snark and banter at most.

Need some light reading?
Anima Ex Machina (Chapter 20 now available)
The Leaf Green Incident (SWC 2012 winner)
Braid (Creepypasta apparently)
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