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  #51    
Old July 10th, 2017 (5:45 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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As Set floated away with Thoth, the haunter chuckled to himself. The pokemon, though it looked, talked, and acted like a human, couldn’t hide her secrets from him. The torment and self-doubt emanating from her tasted like sugar crystals wafting on the wind. He flapped his tongue in the air as she turned towards the door, getting one last taste of her anguish before he went to his mission.
I like the "tasted like sugar crystals wafting on the wind" description there.

I enjoyed Set and Thoth's banter this chapter, Thoth's more serious personality works in line with Set's more unpredictable nature. Thoth's reaction to Set getting the guard's pants was the most amusing. Looking forward to more of the prison break in!
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  #52    
Old 4 Weeks Ago (11:17 AM).
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Spoiler: Message from the Author
I'm glad you liked Set and Thoth. I intend to write more of their shenanigans in the future, if the end of that chapter was any indication. In the meantime, here's the second part of the prison escape. I feel like I'm treading on thin ice here... I'm flying by the seat of my pants right now. I hope I can get through this alright and then get to the story arc after this one.

Chapter Twenty-Six

After what felt like an eternity, huddling on top of the toilet seat and staring at the stall door, the tablet strapped to Seven’s wrist vibrated. A message flashed on the screen, simply saying, “I’m in. Limited access, but it should work.”

Claws clacking against the screen, Seven replied, “Track my progress, ping me if a patrol’s coming, and deactivate security devices in my path. Two pings if you need time.”

In reply, Thoth wrote, “Wait one minute. Guards passing outside your current position.” As Seven read the message, she could hear the footsteps stomping against the concrete floor just outside the bathroom. They quickly faded into silence, but Seven waited the full minute before opening the door.

The way deeper into the prison proved even more arduous than Seven feared. Long, narrow, snaking corridors that gently sloped down guarded the cells deep below ground. Sight lines extended for a hundred feet, without a single shadow to hide in. Thoth stopped her numerous points along the way to crack firewalls on cameras and deactivate daemons guarding alternate servers. Each time, Seven had to huddle against a wall and hope no guards would pass by, and each time, at least one pair of guards, walking shoulder to shoulder, would round the path and walk towards her. Each time, she made herself invisible, clambered up the walls, and pinned herself against the ceiling, sucking in her gut so she wouldn’t bump the hats the officers wore. More than one hat brushed the fur on her belly, but none of the guards noticed the slight twitch on their heads.

And each time, the illusion came up more slowly, the invisible straps bound her tighter, the unseen knives loomed closer, and more phantom needles plunged into her arms and legs. Even with her invisibility banished and sight returned, the tight, close walls reminded her too much of the cell. Each breath caught in her throat, and her arms trembled. She dreaded the too-familiar twinge on her arms as the tablet alerted her to the next ordeal.

“No,” she muttered with each breath. “I won’t. Go back. Never. Won’t go. No cage. I’m human. A person. Won’t. No.” Step by plodding step, her words grew less coherent until each breath was a wordless snarl. The deeper she went, the dimmer her sight became. The lights overhead couldn’t keep the darkness at bay. Scalpels prodded her along the path, straps pulled her onward. Tongs picked at her teeth, tweezers pried her eyes open, ghostly liquors crept along her veins, leaving trails of burning fire and icy cold she could trace with a finger.

Then she felt a twinge in her throat. Seven’s eyes widened in recognition. Above all other pain she suffered in the dark operating room, that one cut the deepest.

“No,” she hissed. “I’m done being a test subject, I’m done! You don’t have any more power over me, professor! You’re dead, I’m alive, and you can’t hurt me!”

But the pain kept coming. She could feel the tendons in her throat part around a scalpel as it sliced through her adam’s apple. Tiny metal hooks wriggled into her vocal chords. Knowing what came next, Seven frantically rummaged in her hair and wrenched out the first object her hands grazed. It was a bag of beef jerky. She jammed the whole bag in her mouth, not even opening it.

One by one, she felt the cords in her throat get sliced away. Each cut brought a muffled scream as jolts of pain shot up her neck like spiked bullets. Forty-seven slices, that’s how many it took to slice through the bottom, followed by six injections into the severed area, then forty-two above the hooks. This time, she could feel the part of her, her lost vocal cords, dangling on the ends of metal hooks as the professor eased them out of her throat with his own hands.

Then came the part she hated the most. The pain subsided as the new cords were stitched into place and smeared with a warm, soothing jelly. Then she heard the words.

“Say your name,” came the whisper in the dark. “Go ahead, speak.”

The words caught in her throat. Tears streamed down her face, and searing pain clouded her sight, but the words came all the same.

“I’m Subject Seven,” she said.

“Good,” said the professor’s hoarse, quiet voice, reaching her ears from beyond the grave. “Now you can speak just like us. Now you will be more useful to us. Aren’t you happy?”

Seven shook with sobs, but she couldn’t help herself. All her ‘humanity,’ not even a gift, but an added feature, forced on her through needle and scalpel. And yet, she felt the words “Thank you” pass her lips, as soft as a caress on the cheek, as painful as a white-hot brand pressed into her flesh.

“Get up.” Dimly, through the professor’s words, she saw the same message on the tablet. Its dim, harsh light tapped on the darkness like a finger against a pane of glass. Staring at the screen, she stood up and growled at the voice in her head.

“You’re dead. You’re dead and I’m free.”

“Free?” She could see the professor’s gentle, mocking smile and feel his thick, pudgy fingers brush through her hair. “Freedom is a lie. We’re all frogs in the bottom of a well, looking up at a thin sliver of sky. Any frog that thinks there’s anything more, that scrapes its fingers raw climbing the slick stone walls, that starves itself reaching for that sky, that heaves itself over the side, finds another set of walls, another circle overhead.” The professor in her memories shrugged, and his grin widened. “It’s a bigger well, and maybe you can’t see the sides yet, but it’s still a well, and you’re still at the bottom.” Then invisible bullets punctured the vaporous image before her. Red mist streamed from the holes, and his smile bled across his face. “Get going. Another patrol is coming.”

She blinked. The image was gone, and instead, she was staring at the tablet. Those last words flickered before her, and she heard echoes of the whisper as she read them again and again.

Footsteps brought her back to her task, loud and heavy against the cold concrete floor. This time, while invisible, she sprinted towards them, making only the tiniest shuffling sound with her padded, silent shoes. If the guards felt a breath of wind as she flew over them, they dismissed it as a draft and kept walking without a single glance back.

The last minute of her descent went smoothly. During her hallucination, Thoth had hacked everything ahead, and Seven moved quickly enough to avoid the next patrol. Once down to the main facility, she ducked into a laundry basket and watched her surroundings.

The real Stonebough, the one buried beneath a mile-high hill of concrete and steel, held only forty-one prison cells. Reserved for truly dangerous criminals, whose crimes were filed on reports thick enough to crush them to death, these cells had the highest security the state could provide. Each door had encrypted digital locks, whose passwords changed at random intervals, each area had security cameras with submachine guns mounted beneath them, and each cell had vaporous green barriers on all four sides. The bare cells had floors of steel, and the prisoners weren’t trusted with a mattress, let alone chairs and a table. A hole in the middle of the floor, about three inches thick and rimmed with barbed wire, served for a toilet, and a greasy brown stain marked where their food was dumped.

The prisoners, two or three to a cell, huddled in their cramped confines, clothed with just enough skintight white fabric to offer some semblance of decency. Every single one of them had vacant, gaunt, hollow-eyed faces that stared absently in no particular direction.

Officers and their pokemon patrolled the floor. Each block of four cells had a pokemon circling each cell and two officers on standby in chairs at their center.

Luckily for Seven, two factors worked in her favor. One, each block of cells was split off by a giant steel wall, necessitated by all the weight pressing down on the ceiling. As a result, each group of cells was isolated. Wide double-doors with encrypted locks and fiberglass windows connected each cell. Two, the patrols, with a wide variety of pokemon, moved at different speeds. With correct timing, she could silence the guards and pokemon before they noticed anything amiss.

Seven waited outside the first area, staring through the window until she saw a gap in their patrols. She tried the knob, but it was still locked. Grimacing as the opening vanished, she hurriedly typed orders on the tablet.

“I was busy making sure those cameras wouldn’t kill you,” Thoth answered. “The first door will be tricky, but the rest will be quick.” Then, a minute later, “Okay, ready.”

Seven had to wait three more minutes for another opening, but this one gave her even more time. She flung the door open, slipped between two cells, and hit both officers from the side. Before they could turn and shout, she slammed both their heads together. One slumped in his chair, but the other struggled in her grasp. With one hand, she reached for the pokeballs on their belts and recalled their pokemon, and with the other, she pinched the man’s jugular. He clawed at her wrist, hard enough to draw blood at first, but gradually, the man’s hands fell to his sides and his chest went slack.

Seven checked the other doors quickly, one opposite the one she just entered, and the other to the right, both leading to other blocks of cells. Neither set of patrols noticed anything. Then, turning back to the cells, she considered the green barriers walling in each cell. She brushed her fur against it and felt it burn to a crisp as every atom of hair that entered the electromagnetic field got fried by a stream of electrons flitting through it.

“Can you turn off the cells?”

“Not without alerting the whole facility,” Thoth answered. “I could reroute the power, but that would take days.”

Seven shrugged and typed back, “I have a better idea.”

She went back to the door she opened and studied the hinges. Then she called out Ra.

“Burn through the hinges,” Seven told the torkoal. Ra grunted, and a plume of smoke shot out of the holes in its back. Flame shot out of her mouth in a tiny blue stream, searing steel like a welding torch. But even though the steel turned white hot, it refused to melt.

With a grunt, Seven wrenched on the door. The combined heat and stress snapped the hinge in two, leaving the door hanging loosely on the other hinge. Ra and Seven repeated the process, and with a high-pitched squeal, the door’s electronics popped out of the wall.

“Careful with that,” Thoth warned with a flurry of pings. “If you disconnect the lock, it’ll set off alarms.”

“I need the door,” Seven told it.

“I can’t imagine why, but if you want it that badly, cut the fifth red wire from the top and the third black from the bottom at the same time. You’ll have four seconds to bind the ends together. After that, you’ll have your door.”

Seven took out her knife and rummaged through the exposed electronics. She counted the wires twice before taking the two wires between her fingers. With a single deft motion, she sliced both wires, pressed both ends together, and had Ra melt them together.

“Perfect,” Thoth said, “But I still don’t see how it’ll help.”

Using the butt of her knife, Seven smashed through the fiberglass. Large jagged shards clattered across the floor. The remaining hole was just large enough to crawl through.

She approached the first cell. Only one man sat in this cell, a man so huge he took up enough space for two. Muscles the size of bowling balls, bulging beneath drawn, pasty skin, twitched as the man regarded Seven. His stare was expressionless, but a small smile touched his lips. His long, lanky hair hung in matted clumps around his face, but Seven could still recognize the Vice-Admin for Mad Hax, a bruiser known as Blacksmith.

“Giovanni sent you?”

Seven turned the door up-side-down and pushed it into the barrier. Sparks hissed and crackled off of it as the barrier parted around the metal.

“Mind the edges, they’re hot and covered in jagged glass.”

Blacksmith’s shoulders were almost as wide as the door, but he wriggled through without a scratch. He stood, brushed off his pale, hairy legs, and looked down at Seven.

“About damn time someone made it this far,” he said flatly. “Make sure you don’t psyduck this up.”

“I won’t,” Seven replied. “But before we move on, I have a favor to ask of you.” She took the pistol from one of the guards and handed it to him. Without looking at it, Blacksmith turned off the safety and cocked the gun.

“By Giovanni’s orders, your former Admin, Mad Hax, is not to leave this place alive.”

“And you’re worried that he’ll kill you before you kill him.” Blacksmith chuckled dryly. “Smart man.” Then he paused and frowned. After a minute, he jammed the gun into his loincloth and said, “You can count on me, sir.”
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  #53    
Old 4 Weeks Ago (4:28 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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I like the part where Seven was hallucinating about her professor mentioning she wants freedom like a frog in a pond. Usually one would use birds flying for freedom, I don't see that used with frogs too often.

The part where she was able to pass through the guards was a cool scene, though a part of me wonders if you can add a bit more reaction to the Pokemon before Seven was able to recall them. Otherwise, things seem to be going fine so far for her though I believe she'll face other obstacles soon.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago (1:13 PM).
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Hi guys.

I moved yesterday. It was a bit hectic and a bit tiring, considering I have a frickin' lead weight for a table. But hey, at least I'm on schedule for my writing, and it feels so damn good being on my own, finally. I'll go on a little trip Tu-We, but hopefully I'll still keep up the pace on my writing. I intend to churn out half a chapter today... or maybe even a whole one. Fingers crossed.


Chapter Twenty-Seven

Over the course of two grueling hours, Seven breached the remaining nine walled areas, took out eighteen officers and sixty-one pokemon. She didn’t bother cloaking for any breach, instead waiting for a gap in the patrols before darting in, knocking the officers on the head before they could turn towards the black blur in their peripheral vision, and either capturing or knocking out their pokemon.

A nidorino dodged the capture beam and lunged towards a door, but Blacksmith caught the pokemon in a headlock and twisted hard enough to snap its neck. The burly man checked his arms for puncture wounds and kicked the corpse into a barrier, where it vanished in a plume of white smoke and a shower of sparks.

“Good thing I didn’t lose my touch,” Blacksmith said with a deep, booming voice brought down to a low whisper. Before Seven turned away from him, out of the corner of her eye, she saw him grab his gun and check the clip. Another click told her he did something more than put the clip back, but she couldn’t be sure what.

Another time, a noivern caught the sound of her footsteps and let out an ear-splitting shriek. It was just as unexpected for the guards in the room as it was for Seven and her growing gang of Rockets. Suppressing the urge to cover her ears, Seven yanked the gas mask out of her ears and slipped it on. It muffled the noise enough for her to charge forward, kicking one guard in the gut and grabbing the other by his adam’s apple. With a twist, she brought the thin, wiry man to the ground and left him there, choking on his own throat.

She wrenched two pokeballs off his pocket, one of which recalled the noivern, and the other a vigoroth. The other officer reached for his radio, but two grunts grabbed him by the arms and slammed his head onto the floor. Blood trickled from his nose as he lay still.

The noise brought two more guards in, one from each door. The doorknob to her left twisted first, and before the door was halfway open, she wrenched the man through the doorway and leapt past him, scrambling for the second guard. That woman, a stocky, tall, officer, reached for her pistol. Just as she pulled the trigger, Seven brought one leg in a high kick, knocking her hands aside. The bullet caught a charging machoke in the left arm, and it fell to the floor with a grunt. A spray of blood spattered Seven’s uniform and mask as she leapt onto the woman, twisted around her shoulders, and brought her down to the floor, one leg trapping her right arm, and the other pinning a knee into her stomach. She groaned in pain as Seven tightened her grip, and gasped when she smacked her temple with the butt of her own pistol.

Turning back towards the previous room, she saw that the crowd of sixty grunts, led by Blacksmith, made short work of the three remaining guards. The guards lay on the floor, grunting in pain or unconscious. They were stripped of radios and shoved through the door after they released the grunts in the one room.

Seven turned back towards the room she leapt into. This room, though guarded just as heavily as the others, only had one cell, and that cell, half the size of the others, only had one occupant. A thin stubble of hair covered his scalp in uneven patches, and dark brown scabs showed where he had torn his hair out. His face, sunken and hollow even in the best of health, looked skeletal, with skin drawn tight over his huge, pointy cheekbones and chin. His sockets appeared empty unless he looked directly into the light, and eyebrows so thin they seemed nonexistent completed the image of a grinning human skull.

Mad Hax’s hands twitched when he saw Seven approach. His voice was weak and raspy, but he still sounded suave as he said, “Didn’t think the Don would let a rookie on a high profile mission like this. Where’s Fisher? I’d like a word with him.”

“Fisher isn’t here.”

Hax’s eyes narrowed. “Dekkard, then? I guess this would be a fine proving ground for him.”

Seven held back a grimace as she saw the man, slumped on the floor, bleeding out of fifty holes in his chest, holes she put there herself.

“I’m the only one.”

Mad Hax glanced around Seven, through the door she had opened, at the crowd of Grunts milling outside the door. Even in the back of the crowd, Blacksmith stood out above the rest. His eyes met Hax with a blank, level stare.

“Ten of the best tried busting in here. They made it into one of the rooms before they tripped an alarm on the door and brought every guard in this anthill down on them. Then Giovanni sends one rookie down here, and you slip in and free everyone without a single alarm going off. How’d you do it?”

Seven considered her words carefully. “I hacked what I could, and worked around what I couldn’t.”

Hax grinned even harder, and his eyes sparkled like black diamonds in his deep, shadowed sockets. “It’d take a high quality porygon to crack through this cyber security, and we lost our only upgraded version in the last raid. Giovanni may be powerful, but even he can’t get his hands on a Silph Up-Grade in six months. Let me guess, you’re using Thoth?”

Seven nodded, and Hax spat into the hole in the floor.

“A piece of garbage. That trash would take five minutes to a camera on the way down, and patrols pass that way every ten minutes.”

Seven’s tablet beeped, and the message “I heard that” blinked at her in big, bold script.

Hax sighed and leaned back, kicking one foot up onto his knee. He stared up at the ceiling and said, “I’m done beating around the bush. Are you going to kill me now, or does the Don want the pleasure himself?”

Seven felt herself tense, but the words Admin Colson coached her through came readily to mind. “Kill you? We can’t afford to, not now.”

Hax cackled, which sounded all the more deranged as it bounced off the walls and formed an echo-like interference pattern, as if his voice were a tuning fork struck on an anvil. “Don’t give me that crap. Giovanni doesn’t tolerate failure, and I psyducked up big time. Just put a bullet through me so I can stop rotting in this hell hole.”

Seven waited for his laughter to die and his attention to return to her face. Then she said, “Have you heard of the White Knights?”

If Hax had eyebrows, they would’ve been bunched up against his eyes. “I think I heard the guards speak that name once or twice.”

“They’ve been causing trouble, lots of it.” Seven counted off her points on her fingers. “They’ve burned down the Golden Magikarp casino, trashed two pokemon smuggling rings, beat fourteen Grunts to death and injured six others, raided four warehouses, and stole a couple dozen pokemon from a drop zone. They’re popular with the public, and they don’t negotiate.” Seven made herself stare into those sunken eyes, each like an abyss. “Giovanni is only giving you one chance to redeem yourself, and he only does so because his back’s against the wall. It’s do or die time, Admin Hax.”

As Mad Hax puzzled over her words, Blacksmith brought over the door. Seven held it up to the walls, and Hax stared in wonder as the barrier parted around the metal.

“It’s so stupid it’s genius,” he said. “The others tried hacking them, but the security on these things is airtight. You couldn’t slip a one through those firewalls point first.”

“Come on,” Seven said, motioning through the broken window. “And mind the edges.”

Hax leapt through and rolled up onto his feet with a flourish. He got a few claps from the Grunts gathered around the door.

“Thank you, thank you,” he said, bowing to the crowd. “And for my next trick, with my lovely new assistant… what’s your name?”

“Steven,” she told him.

“Steven,” he said, rolling the name on his tongue. “Steven, would you mind telling us how you plan on getting out of here? As much as I’d like to think we’re home free, there’s a mile of concrete above us, they could drop a lake on us at any moment, and unless nobody noticed a mountain of corpses, we still have all the outside guards to deal with.”

“Outside and inside,” Seven said. “We’re not killing anyone today if we can help it.”

“Going the pacifist route? That’s no fun.” Even so, he grinned. “But it’d make for an excellent headline: incompetent police force let all the worst criminals escape. No police or civilian casualties. There’s a story to get commissioners sacked.”

The Blacksmith stepped forward, shoving Grunts aside like blades of grass. “I’m sure you have a lot to chat about, sir, but we need to get out of here.”

“Right, right,” Hax said irritably. Then his eyes darted to the pistol sticking out of his loincloth. “Give it here.” His command cut the air like a knife. Without the slightest bit of hesitation, he handed him the gun, grip pointing towards him, and the former Admin took it. Seven felt a cold knot twist in her stomach, but she forced herself to keep a calm face as she strode towards the door.

“Let’s head back,” she told them, “But first, put on as many uniforms as you can manage. It may buy us time if you’re spotted.”

“You should’ve had them doing that as you were coming here,” Hax pointed out. He tsked at her. “You won’t be an Admin anytime soon if you make sloppy mistakes like that.”

Seven frowned at him. “Would you prefer to take the command?”

Hax laughed and held a hand to his stomach. “No Steven, you dug your grave, now you can dig yourself out of it.”

Seven shrugged and turned away from him. She felt her back prickle, but she refused to turn around, in case Hax decided she was acting suspicious and shot her right then and there. She led the way up the slow, circling ramp that wound its way through the concrete fortress. She ranged out a few hundred feet ahead and signaled when she was sure there weren’t patrols waiting. Oddly enough, they went half an hour without seeing a single guard. Seven’s stomach sank as she realized that there would be only one reason for those halls to be empty. Patrols ran down as regular as clockwork, with a flurry of randomly generated patrols to make planning around them more difficult, and they ran no matter the time of day. Even lunch breaks didn’t disrupt the flow of guards through the hall.

“We have to run,” she told them. “They’re getting ready to flood the halls.”

“And drown their own men?” Blacksmith asked. “I know they want us bad, but that’s too cold even for them.”

Hax laughed maniacally and pounded his hand on the wall. “They probably assume we killed them all. Honestly, that's what I would've done. He leaned back and looked up at the ceiling. "Looks like you got us all killed. Way to go.”

The Grunts muttered anxiously as Seven quickly typed a command onto her tablet. “Stop the flooding.”

“Can’t. They kicked me out of the system. However, I have an idea. Just hold tight.”

Hax glanced over Seven’s shoulders. She felt herself flinch, but the former Admin didn’t seem to notice.

“If that porygon’s our last hope,” he said dryly, “We’re all psyducked.”
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My fanfics:

Through the Scope (pretty bad)

Through the Aura (somewhat tolerable)

Through the Darkness (getting better)

Sleepy Chateau (a Halloween collab with Bay)


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for some fun, laughs, and murder!
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  #55    
Old 3 Weeks Ago (9:41 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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Hax really doesn't think highly of Thoth, huh. Hopefully Thoth can prove him wrong. =p And not surprising Team Rocket are up in arms with the White Knights if those guys have beaten their grunts to death. Interested in more development of their conflict.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago (6:25 PM).
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Hello everyone. Here's another chapter of Thoth and Set... hopefully you'll find them amusing.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

As Thoth navigated through a labyrinth of firewalls, with anti-malware programs patrolling the circuits like minotaurs, one of the guards, the one without any pants on, lurched to his feet. He walked up to the porygon with a drunken, awkward shamble and looked over the porygon’s blocky body at the collection of screens, each displaying a different camera and audio recording.

“Hey, do you think you could set off the fire alarms?” the guard said with a lop-sided grin. “I want to see how they react.”

“That would be most unwise,” the porygon answered. “Plus, the alarms aren’t integrated into their security network. I’d have to approach each one and hack them directly.” The porygon turned and glared at the guard. “Would you get out of there? The master instructed us not to kill any humans, and that will kill him.”

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that,” Set said. “When they start to die, it gets really hard to stay inside. It’s like…” Suddenly, the guard’s hands shot up to his mouth. He gagged, and a black bulge worked halfway up to his throat before he forced it back down. “Like that,” the guard continued. “Like eating a neon tube while it’s on.”

Thoth stared at him. “Please tell me you weren’t stupid enough to actually try it. I calculate a ninety-four percent chance that you did, but I’d like to give you the benefit of that six percent doubt.”

The guard shrugged. “It seemed like a good idea at the…” He covered his mouth again, but this time, the black bulge reached his mouth. He bent over and vomited, and black fog billowed out of his mouth. A grin split the gas, followed by two eyelids opening, and then hands reached out and flexed their skeletal, slender fingers.

“Whoops,” Set said, “Time’s up.”

“Another four seconds, and he would’ve been dead.”

Set grinned. “You worry too much. So, are we done yet? I’m getting bored.”

“Well, all the prisoners are out of their cells, but now we have to get them out of the prison.”

“Can’t we flush them down a toilet?” Set asked. “That’s how I got out of a prison once.”

Thoth turned back to the screens and said, “I’m not even going to ask.”

Then the phone ring on one of the consoles. For the first ring, Set and Thoth stared at it. Then Thoth darted towards it, dropping everything else.

“Muk,” the porygon said, “It’s a video call. I can’t fabricate a full visual conversation like this.”

Set’s eyes darted around the room and stopped at the two guards crumpled on the floor. He swooped over to the guard with his pants on, shoved himself down the man’s throat, and stood. Humans were such fragile and precarious shells. It felt like trying to balance two giant stacks of porcelain dinner plates on his tongue.

“I got it,” Set said, lumbering over, arms outstretched to catch himself on the consoles.

“It’s not going to work,” Thoth said. “We have a two percent chance of success.”

Set chuckled. “That’s two more than zero.” He sat down and stared at the impending call. “Tell me what to say, got it?”

Thoth sighed. “I invoke the destiny bond,” he said. “Do not psyduck this up, got it?”

Set’s body, not the fleshy one but the nebulous gas buried in the man’s chest, went cold as a buried corpse.

“Got it,” he answered woodenly.

With that, the conversation started. Porygon whispered a greeting, and Set repeated it back at the corporal.

“What can I do for you, Corporal Mathers, sir?”

“Have you noticed anything unusual in the server room?” the stocky, bearded man asked. “There’s some unusual activity on the servers.”

“No sir, nothing that I can see.”

“Well go check!” he barked. “And put Todd on the phone, I need to have a word with him.”

Set glanced nervously at Thoth, and then quickly said, “Yes sir. I’ll go get him.”

The haunter moved the officer’s body to the corner and forced himself up the officer’s throat.

“That’s Todd,” Thoth said, gesturing towards the pants-less officer.

Set went in. The body felt colder than last time, and he already had that fluttering feeling in his gut. With a sinking feeling of dread, he realized that this body hadn’t recovered from his last time piloting it.

He didn’t bother going for the pants. His control over human hands was too clumsy, and he had no time. Clothed only in underwear below the waist, Set sat the human in the chair and faced the camera with the stillest face he could manage. The haunter felt some dismay at seeing a faint grin on Todd’s face in the upper right corner of the chat, which showed his side in miniature.

The corporal frowned as Set adjusted the seat. “What the hell happened to your pants?”

Thoth thought of an answer, and Set stumbled through the reply. “The – the belt buckle broke, sir.” He swallowed, feeling an acrid taste at the back of his mouth, both for human and pokemon. “My pants wouldn’t stay up, so I left them.”

The corporal stroked his beard. “Well, at least you didn’t leave your station. I suppose what you did was acceptable.” Then the man’s expression hardened. “However, I cannot excuse your continued absence. Come to my office after your shift so we can have a more thorough discussion on the subject.”

“Yes – yes sir.” Set forced himself to keep his hands at his sides. Wisps of vapor crept up the man’s throat, but he had just barely enough control to keep them down. “I’ll go straight there.”

“And for god’s sake,” the corporal added, “Get a new belt first. Got it?”

“Ye–” That last word was one too many. In a rush, Set was forced up the Todd’s throat and out his mouth. The man slumped off the side of the chair, leaving Set alone, facing the corporal in a live video chat.

“Psyduck,” Set said, and hit the end call button.

Thoth darted over to the computers, whirring and buzzing like an overheating toaster oven. Set, meanwhile, stared at his hands, which trembled like guttering candles.

“How long do I have left?” Set whispered. Thoth ignored him, and he repeated his question, again and again, louder each time until his voice rose to a yell the porygon couldn’t ignore.

“Be quiet please,” Thoth said, voice cracking with the sound of static. “I’m trying to do a lot at once. They’re opening the floodgate and sealing the doors to the lower levels.”

Set laughed, but he felt no joy in it. “You can’t even give me a number? Just tell me how long I have left.”

For another minute, Thoth grappled with the computer network, sliding through firewalls and tampering with software, but then the porygon turned away.

“I’m too slow,” it said with a dull, leaden voice. “The water’s already starting.”

“Well, tell them how to get out,” Set replied.

“There’s only one door, and it’s four inches of steel. It would take Ra four hundred and sixty two hours of continuous application of heat with only fifty percent waste to melt a hole large enough for them to crawl through, and they have two.”

“Flush them down the toilets then. That’s how I got out of a prison.”

Thoth gawked at him. “You flushed yourself down a toilet? You do realize where those go, right?” The porygon shuddered, its sleek polygonal angles rippling with static.

“It’s really fun,” Set said. “I got myself locked in the same prison again just so I could do it again. Well, that time, they caught on, so it was rather… uncomfortable… when am I going to die?”

“We don’t have time for that. Water’s already running down the ramp. If we don’t seal off the vents, they’ll all drown.”

“You mean you don’t have time.” Set shrugged and grinned anxiously. “The way I see it, I’m dead anyways, so who cares?”
“Will you be quiet please? I’m using up all my processing power to calculate potential routes of escape.”

“Just tell me how long I have left, and I’ll stop bothering you. Hell, I think I even have an idea.”

“You do? Tell me!”

“Nuh-uh!” Set said, waggling a finger in Thoth’s face. “How long do I have left? Is there a way that I can not die?”

Thoth frowned and said, “I lied.”

Set blinked. “What?”

“I lied. I tricked you into thinking you would die so you wouldn’t screw anything up like you did with the keycard. It raised the probability of this mission’s success, which had dwindled into single digits thanks to you.” Thoth paused, and its eyes went out of focus as it ran a complicated string of calculations. Then it said, “I’m sorry, and I hope you can forgive me.”

Set’s mouth curled upward, and a tremendous laugh boomed out of his chest, echoing off the metal walls like deranged ravings within a mental asylum.

“Holy muk, that has got to be the best prank I have ever seen? You used my own destiny bond to make me do whatever you wanted!”

Thoth frowned at him. “This isn’t the reaction I calculated. I thought you would be mad.”

“Mad? That was genius!” Set slapped a hand on Thoth’s back and cackled. “I thought I was good, but that was absolutely cold-blooded! I had shivers going down my spine the entire time!”

Thoth inched away warily from Set. “You don’t make any sense.” Then it shook its head. “Never mind that, what is your idea?”

Set laughed for a few moments, struggling to get his breathing under control. Then he said, “That second time, the toilet slammed shut behind me, hard. No air could get in, so the water stopped moving. I got stuck in the toilet-s u-bend.” Set grinned sheepishly and said, “I can’t swim, and those pipes tingled like these walls. I was down there a whole week until someone had to use that toilet.”

Thoth shuddered again, but then it processed Set’s suggestion. Then it had an idea, and with a thought, it pulled a thin silver disc out of its chest and pushed it towards Set.

“Get that to our master,” Thoth said. “But that’s only going to slow the water down.”

Set smiled again. “Then you will have time to open those doors, right?”

Thoth shook its head. “Not even close. I think they got a few porygon, and they’re keeping me far away from that door.”

“Then flush them.”

“Don’t be an idiot, humans can’t fit down a toilet, and they can’t stay submerged longer than a few minutes. Heck, there’s only one pipe in the whole facility big enough to fit them…”

Thoth’s eyes widened, and it darted back to the computers.

“You thought of something?” Set asked.

“Get that disc to him, now!” Thoth shouted.

“And then?”

If Thoth had a mouth, it would’ve grinned hard enough to split its face in two. Instead, it danced and spun its arms and legs in dizzying circles to show its joy. “Then we flush them down the world’s biggest toilet.”
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Old 2 Weeks Ago (4:19 PM).
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Set's definition of fun is on the odd side, especially when it comes to toilets. I admit a part of me wasn't unsure of the toilet jokes due to you doing toilet humor in SoulSwitch's last chapter too, but huh looks like there is going to be something involving flushing toilets that is important, hmm. Also I like that Set was humored over being tricked with using Destiny Bond.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago (7:25 PM).
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Spoiler: Message from the Author
I feel like I've outdone myself this chapter. It was hella fun to write, and it feels so good to bring another story arc to a close, or close to it. Curious? Go on, give it a read.

As to all the sewer humor I've been writing lately... I guess my mind's been in the gutter

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Once Seven finished the long list of instructions Thoth sent to her, no mean feat since it was a solid block of letters, Set arrived with a disc in one hand. Seven called out Ra, stuck the disc on his forehead, and watched as it vanished into his skull with a flash of white light.

“You do realize that torkoal can’t swim, right?” Hax asked with a mocking smile. “Did you get some floaties for it?”

Seven walked past him and drew the eyes of all the Grunts. “Find all the vents along this hallway. My torkoal will seal them up.” First, she gave Set the pokeball carrying her magneton. The haunter grinned at her and whisked the ball away up a vent. Next, she called Horus, giving the noctowl new orders. With a hoot, Horus left his perch atop a guardhouse and flew towards the city. Then Seven sprinted down to the cells. The torkoal slid on its belly behind her, bouncing off the walls like a hockey puck.

She frowned at the missing door and ordered Ra to seal the two doors beyond that cell. The torkoal, using the move it learned from Thoth, spat gobs of mud out of its mouth, and seared them into place with a jet of flame. Once it cooled, Seven gave the seal a quick rap. It felt solid as stone.

“Wow, genius, let’s seal ourselves in with mud. What could possibly go wrong?”

Hax examined the seal and chuckled quietly. Seven said with a snap in her voice, “Could you let me do my job?”

The former Admin raised his hands defensively. “Hey, I’m not trying to stop you. I’m just amused at how badly you botched this. Giovanni will not be pleased.”

As Hax mentioned the boss’ name, he raised one fingernail to his chin. The point of the fingernail, razor sharp like a knife blade, drew a bead of blood, but he didn’t seem to notice.

The sound of trickling water made her look back down the hall. A small stream tumbled into the room and washed up against the blocked doors. Ra gave a high-pitched whistle, like a tea kettle, as water washed against its legs.

“We don’t have time for this,” Seven said, picking up the torkoal by the edges of its shell and carrying it to the dry side of the hall. Even that far from the coals burning in its belly, she felt her fingers sting.

“If you find a bar of soap, let me know,” Hax called after her. “I’d like to be squeaky clean when I call on the devil, and they haven’t given me a bath in a month.”

As she passed BlackSmith, who covered one vent with a foot and stretched to touch a second with his hand, she felt tempted to remind him of the task she set for him, or better yet, do the deed herself. Instead, she clenched her hands and approached a vent on the opposite side of the hall. She felt that all of Hax’s snarkiness was just a front, a way of making her drop her guard. If she showed even the slightest hint of betrayal, he’d kill her and anyone else in his way with his bare hands, even Blacksmith. She needed to know her subordinates would obey her, or she would never be an Admin.

Once Ra finished sealing up the vents closest to the cells, where water already formed a puddle an inch deep, Seven walked up to the Blacksmith. He slid aside without a word, so loose and limber that she couldn’t imagine any anxiety or anger in his bulky frame.

As Ra worked, the water picked up pace. At some vents, she had to have bundles of clothes piled up so Ra wouldn’t drown in the rushing stream. Water rose towards them, inch by inch, but once they were three quarters of the way up the ramp, she noticed a drop in the water pressure at her feet. Once the last vent was sealed up, the water gurgled fitfully for another minute before the hall fell silent, save for the splashing of Grunts wading in the deeper end of the hall. Seven called Ra back to his pokeball and stared up, towards their only escape.

“You do realize that we’ll run out of oxygen pretty quick, right?” Hax asked with a smooth, innocent smile on his face. “It’s less painful than drowning, I suppose, but there are easier ways to die.”

Seven ignored him and typed into the tablet on her arm. “Vents are sealed.”

“Greet,” came a hasty response. “Hold tights, am bus getting pipes switched.”

An edited message, with the spelling corrected, followed it a second later, but it did nothing to ease the sudden stir of anxiety, like hornets buzzing in her chest, at the thought that her life depended on a malfunctioning porygon. However, she forced the illusion masking her face to maintain perfect composure.

Hax still sensed her unease. “I’d say that this hare-brained plan of Steven’s has run full course,” he said to the Grunts, gesturing towards the lake threatening to swallow them all. His voice echoed over the water’s surface and made it ripple. “Giovanni trusted him to do his job, and he failed. Therefore, it falls upon me, Admin Hax of Team Rocket, to punish him.”

With a flourish, he drew Blacksmith’s pistol from his loincloth and pointed it at her. Before she could react, he pulled the trigger, and the gun clicked softly. Hax only had time to give the faulty gun a perplexed stare before a shard of fiberglass split his spinal cord in two. A tiny shard, shining red with Hax’s blood, jutted out from his belly button. With a gurgle, Hax dropped to the floor and clutched at the glass sticking out of his back.

Blacksmith wiped the blood off his hands on his loincloth and circled around Hax, pressing his back against the wall as he passed the dying Admin.

“Well done,” Seven told Blacksmith as he came within strangling distance of her.

He nodded slowly and said, “Word of advice, I follow Giovanni’s orders, not yours. Forget that, and you might end up like him,” he said, jerking his head at Hax’s corpse. He had died giving Seven the middle finger and had it propped against his chin so it would stay upright even in death.

“Noted.” She looked down at her tablet, and to her relief, the porygon said that everything was ready.

“Time to go up,” Seven told the Rockets. “The plan is to escape out the pipes pumping water into the prison. Once we’re out, a small team will head for home and return with a full convoy. Any questions?”

Silence answered her. With a nod, Seven led the way up the hall, to the source of the flood. Where there was once a bare concrete wall, two doors swung out, revealing a gaping black cavern large enough for Blacksmith to crawl through. Sloshing sounds echoed out of it, along with a high-pitched, keening wail of a motor losing the fight against air pressure. Robbed of its means of displacing air, the motor lacked the strength to compress the chamber’s air any further than atmospheric pressure, and therefore ceased to push water into the prison.

Her tablet vibrated, with an especially long message from Thoth, which read, “The city used to rely on an underground sewer treatment facility. It had an especially large tank, for preventing floods from overwhelming their system. However, as the population rose, the old system couldn’t keep up. They built a new sewer system, but they connected it to the old one so they could divert excess waste to the old system. Once the new system was perfected, they abandoned the old one, and it became the emergency flood system used by Stonebough Prison.

However, the connection between the two systems remain. By using the emergency systems in reverse, I can divert the excess water in the old sewer into the new one, letting you escape through the old sewers. Tell Hax that I’m not a piece of garbage, will you? Oh wait, he’s dead.”

What drew her attention next, however, was a metal grate in front of the hole, made of criss-crossing metal bars half an inch thick. The holes were just big enough for Seven to squeeze a fist through.

“You didn’t mention a grate,” Seven told the porygon, and accompanied it with a picture. She refrained from typing ‘you piece of garbage’ as an afterthought.

“That wasn’t in the schematics,” Thoth said. “Do you see any means of prying the bars free?”

Seven called Blacksmith over and had him inspect the bars. “Despite my name,” the man said without a smile, “I’m no expert on metal.” He gave a bar an experimental tug. “However, I can tell you this muk’s going nowhere without some extra muscle.”

She called out Ra, but the torkoal, already exhausted from sealing up the vents, could do little more than dry the bars. The thought of smashing through the bars herself came to her, but she angrily shoved it aside.

“Have Set bring back the magneton,” Seven told Thoth.

“It’s not optimal,” Thoth replied, “And Set isn’t back yet, but I’ll have it done.”

As Seven finished reading this, she heard a gurgle. Water splashed through the grate, soaking her feet. A steady trickle ran from the base of the pipe.

“I think one of the seals broke,” Seven told the porygon.

“Then I’m going to need the magneton,” Thoth said. “I was planning on escaping first and then accessing the sewer’s computers, but if the first seal broke, it’s only a matter of time before the cells get flooded and the officers escape, telling those upstairs that the flood system isn’t working. I can access it from here, but once they figure out what’s happening, I’ll be under attack, and they’ll open the doors and come after you.” That message was followed by another. “I’m sorry. Either way, you’ll be cornered.”

Seven felt her heart sink as she weighed her options: arrest, and imprisonment for the rest of her life unless she managed another escape, or freedom, at the cost of her humanity. Even if she could maintain her illusion, the men would look in askance at the twig-like figure punching through metal even Blacksmith couldn’t bend, but power that strong coursing through her hands would tear her fragile illusion like wet toilet paper.

But then, she thought of a simple, elegant solution.

“I can break the pipes,” she told Thoth. “Get everything ready for our escape.”

Then she looked at the Rockets milling before her. “Everyone,” she said, loud enough for them to hear, “I order you all to turn around. Do not look this way until I tell you to.” She paused, and added, “I am about to use something that Giovanni wishes to keep secret.”

That convinced them. As one, they all turned their backs to her and placed their hands over their eyes, even Blacksmith.

Satisfied, Seven dispelled her illusion and focused on her hand, making it throb with her power. When it felt ready to explode like a grenade, she punched at the grate. The bars bent like string cheese before her hand even touched them. The squeal of dented metal rang through the hall and sent a shiver through some of the Grunts.

Wiping sweat out of her eyes, she punched again. And again. Over, and over, making the entrance cave in on itself, until finally, one of the bars wrenched loose. More followed with each punch. Once the opening was clear, she donned her illusion, which felt so much heavier from her fatigue. She craned her head to hear down the pipes. The pump still whirred, but it no longer screeched and groaned with pent-up water.

“You may turn around now.”

When those Rockets turned, and she with them, they all saw freedom, hidden beyond the cringing, broken-toothed cavern. Without another word, Seven was the first through, flashlight in hand lighting the damp, echoing path, and a flood of Rockets followed close behind her.
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Through the Scope (pretty bad)

Through the Aura (somewhat tolerable)

Through the Darkness (getting better)

Sleepy Chateau (a Halloween collab with Bay)


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  #59    
Old 1 Week Ago (6:40 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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Quote:
However, the connection between the two systems remain. By using the emergency systems in reverse, I can divert the excess water in the old sewer into the new one, letting you escape through the old sewers. Tell Hax that I’m not a piece of garbage, will you? Oh wait, he’s dead.”
I admit, I chuckled at that part. Blacksmith killing Hax was a cool scene, though.

Seven punching the bars in her true Zoroark form was a risky move with all those Team Rocket grunts, but seems to work in her favor in the end. Looks like this arc is about to wrap up soon!
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Old 1 Week Ago (2:37 PM).
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Chapter Thirty

Thoth stared at Steven’s last message in confusion. Its processors worked furiously to unveil every potential meaning behind those words. “I can break the pipes.” Did he have a tool that the porygon didn’t know about? Or was he making sure Thoth got away despite his capture? Either way, Thoth knew the only path to take involved fighting his way out.

“We must get to the west gate,” Thoth told Set and the magneton. “There, Horus can disable the guard towers, and we can fly right over the walls. Set chuckled. The magneton sent a faint radio signal that Thoth took for an affirmation.

“Magneton, you’ll stay front and center. Nonlethal attacks only. Set, cover the rear. Focus on causing confusion. I’ll concentrate on giving orders and finding the way out. Let’s go.”

With a powerful discharge, Thoth fried every computer in the room, reducing them to hunks of molten plastic and metal. The magneton drank the excess power and flung the door open. A cop, planting a breaching charge on the door, got pinned to the wall. Luckily for him, he hadn’t started its countdown. The magneton left him there as it flew into the hall. A crackle of electricity shot from its magnets and coursed down the hall, leaping from man to pokemon. Two dozen fell to the ground, arms twitching, but a sandslash darted forward, claws reaching for magneton’s eyes. Set floated in front of it and sent a whirling rainbow sphere from his hands. When it hit the sandslash’s eyes, it stopped and clawed at the air around it.

A fireball soared through the hall, flying straight towards the magneton. Thoth flew in front of it and surrounded itself with a glowing blue barrier. The fire slammed against it and went out.

As they raced away from pursuit down the other hall, Thoth messaged Steven again. “Please tell Horus to hold position and disable the nearest guard towers at my signal.”

“Alright.” The reply came quickly. “We’re moving down the pipes. It’s a straight shot to the exit point, right?”

Thoth wrenched some processing power away from battle analysis for a moment to review Steven’s situation. Ra couldn’t break them. Maybe they forced one of the officer’s pokemon to help them? Police pokemon are well-trained, taking orders only from their trainer. Maybe if they were confused… no, Set’s with me. How did he do it? Is he lying to me?

A fist flying through Thoth’s peripheral vision snapped him back to reality. With a small discharge, he made the attacker, a scrafty, tumble to the floor. The porygon darted forward just in time to block a crackle of purple thunder. Magneton fired back with a solid sphere of gray light, but the gardevoir teleported away. Instead, the attack slammed into an ursaring and knocked it unconscious.

While they raced through an empty hallway, Thoth answered Steven’s question. The porygon craved information about Steven’s situation, but the fight ahead demanded all its attention. An absol lunged from the shadows, swiping at Set, but the magneton swatted it out of the air with a crackling magnet. It fell with a sharp yelp and didn’t move. Blood trickled from its broken horn.

Farther ahead, Set possessed one of the officers and had their graveler explode. Thoth grimaced as four officers were knocked back by the blast, but a quick scan told it that they would live. In the same officer’s body, Set threw more pokeballs to the floor. A shiftry blew officers and pokemon down the hallway, while a glalie froze the ground beneath their feet.

When Set got vomited out by the officer, the woman reacted quickly, setting her two pokemon on them. Overclocking his processors, Thoth taught himself signal beam while it ordered magneton to incapacitate the glalie with flash cannon. Before the pokemon could react to their new orders, they fell to the calculated attack, and Set put the woman to sleep.

Thoth ran another calculation. At the rate they were heading west, they would arrive at the walls in ten minutes. As they rounded a corner, a wall of officers, wielding riot shields and semi-automatic pistols, barred the way. Better make that fifteen. He decided to contact Horus anyway, giving the order to disable the western guard towers. By the time he looked back, the shield wall had fallen apart, scattered by two confused officers raving about crobat and ariados attacking from above. One officer was down with a bullet through the leg. Blood seeped through his legs, but it missed his femoral artery. Another took a bullet in the shoulder, and despite the wound, fought to pin the two raving officers to the floor.

While they were distracted, Thoth and the others floated over them. The magneton crippled them with a thunder wave before it left. Set cackled loudly as they moved through another empty hall.

“I haven’t had this much fun since the bank robbery!” he shouted.

“Be quiet,” Thoth hissed at him. “We’re not out yet.”

“Don’t be such a spoilsport, Thoth.” Set’s grin widened, and his white eyes sparkled like diamonds. “They’re never going to catch us!”

As the words left his mouth, a huge scythe, glowing with purple miasma, swiped at Set. The blade passed through him, leaving a jagged black tear. On impulse, Thoth fried everything in the darkness of the adjoining hallway with a max-volt discharge. A scyther hit the floor like a sack of grain. A roserade’s cry of pain echoed down the hall, and Thoth fired at it with a signal beam.

Set floated in the air, severed in two pieces that drifted away from each other. As Thoth watched, flakes peeled off and disappeared. The porygon scanned its databases, hunting for any technique that might save Set’s life. Then, it found a move. Pain split.

Throwing all his processing power at the download to hasten it by a few seconds, Thoth stopped itself from thinking of the odds it would work. Once it learned the move, Thoth used it. Its body, composed of electrical signals suspended in plasma, rippled as a jolt of pain shot through its delicate circuits. Meanwhile, the two severed halves pulled themselves together. Eyes and a mouth emerged from the mass in odd places, making his smile impossibly grotesque.

“Wow, I thought I was really gone there,” Set said with a nervous chuckle. “Neat trick.”

Thoth’s own circuitry was in complete disarray. The extremities, housing many of Thoth’s spare processors, were a blue smear in the air, and the red core had cracks running through it. Though damaged, Thoth had enough power left to download another move. Activating the program, the porygon breathed a sigh of relief as a green glow reassembled its peripheral body components and knitted its core back together.

Meanwhile Set had grabbed his eyeballs and stuck them back in their proper place. Adjusting his smile like a human would adjust a coat hangar, Set scrunched up his face into a wobbly smile.

“Mind doing that again? I still feel a bit torn up inside.”

Thoth complied. This time, the burden to his systems was far less, and the damage faded even more quickly. Set flexed his hands, and eerie blue flames flickered out from between its fingers.

“Uh, thanks, I guess.” He chuckled softly and went to help the magneton. It had nicks and dings in its metal plating, and one of its magnets hung limply at its side. Thoth healed it and blocked a boulder before it could scuff the magneton’s freshly buffed body.

As it recovered again, Thoth’s thoughts drifted back to Steven. It asked for a status report, and a few seconds later, Steven told him they were still crawling. Were they keeping the police from opening the doors and dealing with the crowd of Rockets trapped in the lower prison? Or were they really free? Neither explanation made any sense to the porygon. It felt as though he was missing a piece of the puzzle. Mulling it over, Thoth realized the “piece” was the way out. Before it could stop to think, Thoth asked Steven how he broke the bars.

A long silence followed. Thoth jerked his attention back to the fight long enough to paralyze a flareon and heal Set’s charred hands. There still wasn’t a reply when Thoth got wrapped by a vine. Magneton shocked the tangela, which caused electricity to ripple through Thoth, but it also freed the porygon. As it recovered, the response finally appeared.

And it read, “Secret by Giovanni’s order.”

So he did break the bars. And yet, the doubt remained. Perhaps he was still keeping up the charade? But why? He had nothing to gain by letting the four of them escape, and had his freedom to lose. And what would be so important that it would be kept secret by Giovanni’s order? Was it some sixth pokemon Steven had? It had to be.

Satisfied with its conclusion, Thoth consulted the map. They were approaching a set of service doors leading to the western wall. Two officers, a nidoking, and a hariyama blocked the way out. Magneton fried the hariyama, Set put the nidoking to sleep, and Thoth disabled the two officers with a small discharge to their chests.

When they made it outside, Thoth was dismayed to find that the guard were still standing in their posts, attentively scanning the grounds. But Horus was perched in the nearest tower, looking down at them. The guards, though looking, never saw them.

Bullets followed them over the wall, dinging off of magneton’s sturdy body and Thoth’s shield, and passing through Set’s gaseous body. Horus dove down the other side of the wall. Thoth and the others followed, and together, they wound their way through the trees, losing the pursuing police.
Once the clatter and clamp of police boots faded to silence, Thoth led them to the sewer’s emergency exit, in a squalid part of the city populated by low-rent apartment complexes, chain restaurants with broken windows, and rusty warehouses. The exit was blocked by a solid metal door. One tug from magneton tore it free from its rusty lock and hinges. Musty air wafted from the exposed room like a freshly opened grave, and the sensory data made Thoth’s programming prickle. With a grimace, Thoth led the way down. Cracked pipes, rusted, dry, and dusty from decades of idleness, lined every wall and the ceiling.

At the far end of the hall, a round hatch, marked “Emergency Exit,” sat between a dented boiler and a fire extinguisher. Magneton latched onto the hatch’s wheel. Chips of red paint drifted from the wheel as it turned. Squeak by rusty squeak, the wheel crept in a slow circle, until, at last, the hatch swung open.

Light shone. With a wet, squelching plop, Steven Sun tumbled out of the sewer. He and a hundred grunts crawled through five hundred yards of muk that Thoth shuddered to imagine. Five football fields. Just short of half a mile. He and a hundred grunts, drenched in filth that coated abandoned pipes for decades, cheered as old musty air, clean as a mountaintop gale compared to the sewer stench, filled their lungs.

As Thoth was called back into its pokeball, one last thought flickered through his mind. How the hell had he done it?
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  #61    
Old 1 Week Ago (5:56 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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Interesting use of Pain Split there, Set was indeed was grateful for that heh. So Thoth doesn't know Steven's true identity. His theory of a sixth Pokemon is close but also so far. I wonder how he and the other Pokemon will react to Giovanni's secret.
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  #62    
Old 5 Days Ago (12:51 PM).
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Bardothren Bardothren is offline
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Spoiler: Message from the Author
Bruno's back! A new story arc's starting, so buckle your seat belts. Also, Bay, I'm glad you liked the pain split idea. I went through porygon's move list, hoping to find Heal Pulse or something similar and instead stumbled on that move.

Chapter Thirty-One

Bruno never felt so small or so defenseless as when he sat in the police headquarters’ meeting room. Commissioner Mason paced across the room behind the podium, fuming under his breath. The projector cast an image of a newspaper onto the wall. It read: “Stonebough Broken: All the Muk Pours Out.”

The Commissioner stopped in his tracks and turned towards the screen. On the podium was a small stack of newspapers. Mason grabbed a handful, tore it up, and threw the shreds at a garbage can. Most of them settled onto the floor.

“I swear to god,” Commissioner Mason grumbled, “If I had a hundred bucks for every sewer-related pun in the goddamn news today, I could retire right now. I could be on some vacation island drinking pina coladas right now, but instead, I have to deal with this muk.” He chuckled dryly. “Now the papers have me doing it too.”

The Commissioner took a deep breath, and his expression softened. “I don’t blame any of you for this. We threw everything we had at that prison, and they still got out.” He picked up another newspaper and held it up. “Of course, telling the press that isn’t going to make the public happy.”

He pressed a button on the remote, and the article was replaced by a grainy photo of the prison. A fuzzy black cloud loomed on the southern half, punctuated by the occasional red R. Further up, a lone man stood before a sewer grate. Bruno could make out a blob of brown hair.

“Sorry about the resolution,” Mason said. “Frickin’ powerpoint won’t let me use the raw video clip. Hold on a second.”

He opened up a video player on his laptop. On screen, it showed the man, this time with his brown eyes distinct on his plain, clean-shaven face, speaking to the mass of Rockets standing before him. All the Rockets faced the camera, the man turned around, and then the video turned grainy again. White flashes obscured the camera, but for a brief moment, so fast that the image vanished before he could blink, he saw Serena, with long locks of violet and black hair spilling out over the rocket uniform.

Bruno schooled himself to calmness while the rest of the room muttered. Mason held up a hand, a signal for silence, and cleared his throat. “We don’t know why the footage cuts out like that, but at least we got a clear image of the man’s face. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single match.” He rewound the tape and paused it just before it cuts out. “Our porygon have cross-referenced his face with every single photograph we have on file, every single driver’s license and trainer identification, passports and criminal records, everything. We have no idea who the hell this guy is, where he came from, or why he showed up out of nowhere. What we do know is, that guy stormed Stonebough alone.” He put extra emphasis on that word. “Alone, he slipped past a double perimeter of guards, disabled the cameras, slipped past every patrol on the way down to the dungeons, knocked out every single guard posted in the cells before they knew what the hell was happening, and escaped through the psyducking sewer trap that’s supposed to drown them all.”

The Commissioner crushed a newspaper in his fist. His grip tightened as he turned back to the police.

“Here’s what we’re going to do,” he said with a calm, stiff voice like cold iron. “First, we’re going to put more boots on the streets. I know you’re all exhausted from watching the prison, but we’re in crisis mode. The people have to know we’re taking this seriously. Also, we’re going to throw everything at catching this son of a rattata.” Mason grimaced and crumpled the paper into a tight ball. “The cheeky bastard didn’t kill a single cop. Had he done it, I could’ve had him executed and put all this behind us… damn it.” Then he stopped himself and turned back to the officers and gave them a weak smile. “Please forgive me. I couldn’t be happier that none of you died during that fiasco. I’m just… on edge.”

Bruno felt the room spinning around him. His mind raced as he compared blurry image, wearing the Rocket uniform, with the stunning pokemon he met on the rooftop. As much as he wanted to deny it, there was no question. That was Serena. But he couldn’t figure out why. Why would a pokemon work for Team Rocket? Even more puzzling, how could they let a pokemon wear their uniform and act like a human? She even looked human, before the cameras started blurring.

His mind latched onto that outlet. The camera. Maybe it was a trick of the camera, edited to make it look like something else. But why her? Why was she there?

Peter gave him a gentle nudge on his shoulder. Looking up, Bruno saw that the room was already emptying. He rose from his seat, but the Commissioner told them to stay. Reluctantly, Bruno stood at attention and waited for the other officers to file out.

“Peter, Bruno, I’m really sorry to ask this of you,” the Commissioner said. “I know I’ve been working you two to the bone, but it can’t be helped now. You’re the fastest way to find this son of a rattata.”

Bruno felt his stomach twisting itself in knots. He could tell them what he knew and lead them straight to her. He might even lead them straight to a Rocket base. However, he could also hurt her by following her. What if they thought she betrayed them, or what if they forced her to attack the police?

Before he made up his mind, a powerful presence entered his senses, one that chilled him to the bone. Seconds later, the door swung open. The Commissioner opened his mouth to admonish the intruder, but his stern finger-point turned into a low bow at the elderly figure entering the room. He was shaved bald, exposing his wrinkled forehead, but he had a long white beard that fell to his waist.

Behind him was a lucario, far older and more powerful than Bruno, an Elder among his kind. Streaks of gray flecked his fur, and his eyes were pale enough to be called pink. He was also four inches taller than Bruno, and broader in the shoulders.

“Elder Bayron,” Bruno said with a stiff bow. “What brings you to the city?”

“You,” the Elder gruffly replied. “I can sense your imbalance from the Temples. It’s time you left the city.”

As Elder Bayron spoke in his tongue, the elderly man translated. Mason grimaced.

“You can’t take him away now! We’re in a crisis here!”

“You will have a far greater crisis if this one remains for much longer. He has lost his balance. After a few years of meditation, he will be fit to return, but until then, he must leave.”

“A few years!” Mason roared. “I don’t have a few years! I don’t even have a few days! I need a lucario here, or the city’s going to fall into chaos. Absolute chaos. The White Knights are planning their next move, and the Rockets just broke out of Stonebough. There is no time to waste!”

Elder Bayron slammed his fist on a table hard enough to crack the wood. “I will not argue with you. Bruno must leave. Today.”

Commissioner Mason took a deep breath. “Fine. Take him. But in return, get another lucario here within the hour.”

“Not possible. You know our kind don’t fare well in cities.”

Mason studied them for a moment. Then he reached into his jacket and pulled out a glowing blue sphere. Bruno averted his gaze away from it, straining against its seductive pull. Bayron’s arm crept a few inches forward before he returned it to his side.

“Catch the man I’m after, and you can have this,” Mason said.

“You’re really desperate enough to part with it?” Bayron asked. “And for so low a price?”

Mason returned the sphere to his coat. Bruno sighed with relief when the tug on his aura disappeared.

“This city’s psyducked. There’s a war brewing, and just the aftermath of it is going to leave more police casualties and public upheaval than anything in this city’s history. Just look what happened already. You can feel this city’s unrest, can’t you?” Mason gestured at the ruffled stack of newspapers. “They’re terrified, and there is nothing worse for society than a bunch of terrified citizens fed up with their government. If a glowing hunk of rock I can’t use anyways will stop that, then I consider it a bargain.”

Bayron stared at Mason, as if seeing the stone through his coat. Then he said, “You make a tempting offer, but my answer must remain the same. No panic humans can make can ever compare to what we’re capable of. For your sake, we must leave.”

Mason glared at the Elder. “Fine. Just know that I won’t offer it for nearly as cheap next time I need help.”

As the Elder and his human companion left, Bruno dashed after them. Elder Bayron turned and frowned at him.

“Are you that eager to leave?” Then his brow furrowed, and his voice went flat. “Or do you really think you should stay here?”

Bruno swallowed. His throat itched for a cup of water, but he made himself speak. “I think I already know where to find the one they want.”

Bayron raised an eyebrow at him. “Go on.”

Bruno hesitated for a moment. Bayron’s pale pink eyes burrowed into his head and saw the roiling tempest of aura within. He could feel Bayron’s gaze, feel Bayron’s hackles rise as he studied the aura, and feel the beating of his own heart as he struggled to find words. Then he told him everything about Serena.

Bayron listened impassively. His eyes slid back and forth as Bruno’s aura whipped and fluttered like a flag caught in a gale. Once the tale was told, Bayron took a step closer, pressed his nose into the hair on Bruno’s forehead, and inhaled deeply.

“Hmm, I thought so,” he said as he backed away. Bruno caught a hint of a smile on his face. “So that’s what got you unstable, eh?” Bayron ran his fingers over the spike on his chest and tapped the tip while he thought. Then he let out a breath. “Alright, I’ll let you stay.” Before Bruno could get too excited, he added, “You have two days. Offer Serena asylum at the Temple. There, even Team Rocket couldn’t reach her, not if they broke their whole strength on our gates. If she accepts your offer, you will remain at the Temple until further notice.” A sparkle lit up Bayron’s eyes, and he chuckled. “You’ll have plenty of time to get to know her.” Bruno flushed, but Bayron’s smile vanished, and his voice turned hard as stone. “But if she refuses, you are to return immediately. Not after two days, immediately. Do you understand?”

Bruno felt his chest swell up with confidence. He grinned and said, “There’s no way she’d turn down that offer.”

Bayron’s voice cracked like a whip. “Do you understand?”

Bruno flinched and quickly said, “Yes Elder.”

“Good.” Bayron turned to leave, but he stopped. “Be careful around her,” he called over his shoulder. “If her soul is really as powerful as you say, then she could… she could…”

“Could what?”

The Elder chewed his lip. “Just be careful around her, and follow my instructions to the letter. Also, keep Peter close. Whatever you do, don’t leave his side, even for a second.”

“I won’t,” Bruno said quickly. “Have a safe journey back to the Temple.”

Once he was sure the Elder was out of earshot, Bruno cheered, ran back inside, and told Peter that they could stay. He left Serena out of his story.
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Don't mind me, I'll just be lurking in the shadows over here.

My fanfics:

Through the Scope (pretty bad)

Through the Aura (somewhat tolerable)

Through the Darkness (getting better)

Sleepy Chateau (a Halloween collab with Bay)


Also, come check out the Underground
for some fun, laughs, and murder!
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  #63    
Old 4 Days Ago (7:27 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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I take it only Bruno noticed Seven's true appearance when everyone was watching the video? I was about to say he probably should let Peter know if that's the case, but then again he probably don't want Seven to get in trouble.

Bayron the elder Lucario, huh? I swear, this is like the third time you named a character after me, hahaha. But anyways, that's nice of him to give Bruno a chance to convince Seven to seek asylum. I have a feeling it won't be as easy as Bruno thought it would be, though. Also, interesting Lucario has some influence over this city's police force there.
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