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Anima Ex Machina (PG-15)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by JX Valentine, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. The Great Butler

    The Great Butler Hush, keep it down

    I know this shouldn't be funny. But it is.

    This is a good little bit of detail here, showing how each of the Ixodida contributes to the attack in their own way. It helps show just how intelligent they are.

    Okay Jax, you need to stop being funny when you shouldn't be. The alien apocalypse should not be hilarious!

    Ah yes, typical Bill. He does live in a world where the choices are always and only Fight, Bag, Pokemon and Run, after all.

    I haven't scrolled down yet. If he's about to jump off the roof onto one of them, I'm going to start laughing again because of how hilariously epic it is.

    Oh, Adam. Always so patronizing.


    Oh God. He's gonna do it, isn't he?

    Well that was unexpected.

    That's incredible. Seriously. Toxic's not easy to describe either.

    Holy ****, that's ****ing badass. I love her now.

    Okay, and now I don't.

    Good riddance.

    Not looking forward to the Lanette/Ixodida hybrid spawn that come from this.

    Oh you, Jax. You and your friggin cliffhangers. I don't think Lanette is going to appreciate him saving her even if he does, though.

    It's impressive how much you managed to pack in for a chapter in which not much happened on the surface. I think the plot should begin moving a bit more quickly now that Bill's on the move, and if he fights those Ixodida that kidnapped Lanette, there's some big action coming too.
     
  2. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    Oh, it should totally be funny. 'Cause it's true. ;D

    After all...

    Professor Ivy: "Who needs garbage cans when you have the floor?"

    Professor Elm: "SORRY, I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF THIS THING I'M STUDYING."

    Professor Birch: "I'm going to piss off this Poochyena and use my l33t researcher skills to determine that it's pissed off! And then I'm going to climb a tree and rely on a newbie trainer to rescue me!"

    Professor Westwood V gets no witty lines from me because canon takes care of itself.

    And then you have Bill, who once accidentally trapped himself in a Kabuto costume (and then, in the original, tried to pass it off as completely intentional). He'll make a great researcher yet. *nods*

    Thank you!

    Or it could simply show you how much of a hive-mind the drones are. ;D

    NOT ACCORDING TO MEN IN BLACK. :V

    Pretty much. And you know that in his mind, it's going like this:

    FIGHT BAG
    PKMN RUN


    Y'know, I thought about that idea too, but he totally would've missed and hit the pavement.

    Naturally. ;D It's probably regretting choosing Bill to be its host throughout this chapter.

    ;D

    Thank you!

    It helps that I did a lot of work for a couple of Anime-Style Battling leagues in the past. It's just not a real battle in those kinds of games unless someone uses Toxic at some point, so I've had a lot of practice.

    I love your reactions. XD

    Well, luckily, there won't be any Lanette/Ixodida hybrids.

    From the harpies, anyway.

    We just have to hope Bill and Adam can keep their hands to themselves.

    Oh, she definitely won't. ;D

    Thank you! And I hope I won't disappoint when it comes to the next chapter because, yes, there totally will be awesome battle scenes not too long from now.
     
  3. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    So then I decided it was totally a great idea to speed-write the crap out of sixteen pages. Y halo thar, longest chapter this fic has had so far.



    Anima Ex Machina: Nineteen
    In the third act, the pistol is shot.


    At the time of the attack, the children of the Caravan, save for the capable trainers, were herded into the pokémon center. Most of them were huddled away from the windows in tight, whispering groups of three or four. Ellen and Chansey hovered from cluster to cluster holding trays of mugs filled with steaming hot cocoa. Across the room was a young, purple-haired girl with a furret close behind her. Ellen had nothing to say to her, to this girl she knew as Julie, for a long time. After all, her priority was keeping the children calm and inside the center where it was safe.

    But then, something caught her eye. It was a flash of dark green passing by her, so low it nearly knocked the tray out of her hands. Stepping out of the way, she saw the back of a girl; the flash of green, as it turned out, was her pigtails bouncing with each step her sneaker-clad feet made across the floor. She held something close to her chest, something Ellen couldn't see until the girl approached the window. Once she did, the object jumped out of her arms and perched itself on the windowsill. The blue turtle leaned out of the broken front window of the center, peering almost hungrily at the battle outside.

    Ellen stepped towards her, reaching for her shoulder with a hand, but before she could touch the girl, Julie appeared by her side.

    "Oh, that's Hope," she said. "Don't worry about it. I can take care of her."

    Swiftly, she approached the girl and took her hand. Hope looked over her shoulder, revealing a heart-shaped face and large, brown eyes. At once, Ellen stopped. Something about that face struck her – something she couldn't she couldn't place.

    "Come on, Hope," Julie cooed, as if she was speaking to a young child. "It's too dangerous to stand by the window like this. Let's go back with the others, okay?"

    Julie's hand slid to Hope's wrist, but the girl wasn't about to let herself be led away without a fight. She squealed and twisted, wrenching her arm away from Julie. Her squirtle trilled and jumped out of the open window, followed closely by the trainer herself.

    "Hey!" Julie called. "Hope! Wait! Don't go out there! Furret!"

    The ferret's ears twitched as he turned. He didn't even need instructions. Furret simply bound across the room, weaving his way between clusters of children until he reached the open window where Julie was already climbing onto the sill. Within seconds, the both of them were outside, leaving Ellen to stand dumbfounded in the room. Chansey approached and gazed at her partner with an inquisitive glance.

    "Chansey," Ellen finally said, "take these and keep an eye on the children. I'll be back in a moment."

    Obediently, Chansey nodded, took Ellen's tray in her free paw, and watched as the nurse mounted the windowsill and bounded outside with the others.

    She didn't get very far. The fighting had ceased, but everyone was frozen in place. Julie stood in the middle of the street with her arms wrapped loosely around Hope, and both of them were turned in the same direction as the others: facing a spot in the sky over the building next to the center. With a blink, Ellen followed their gaze and stopped as dead in her tracks as they had in theirs.

    Hanging in the air was what looked like a person -- at least, in terms of size and general shape and the fact that the figure was fully clothed. Beyond that, Ellen could see the tail curled around his form, the claws clutching at the hat on his head, the golden aura surrounding his body, and most importantly, the two pairs of gold, translucent insect wings jutting from his shoulder blades, an addition she knew he didn't have not too long ago.

    Ellen's mouth moved, but her voice couldn't connect to it. All she could do was watch as the figure uncurled himself slowly and glance at where he was. Bill looked down and then over his shoulder. He murmured something, but what, Ellen couldn't hear, even with the quiet of the street. Seconds later, he winced and grabbed his head again before looking towards the western horizon. His hands dug into his pockets and pulled out his gloves. Afterwards, the rest of him bent, arms flailing and tail thrashing in an attempt to stabilize himself in the air until, finally, he started off in a wild, zig-zagging path down the street.

    The nurse stood there for a few seconds, watching the ixodida bolt for parts unknown. What snapped her out of it was a sharp cry. Something bumped into her, and Ellen realized just a second too late that Hope had broken away from Julie once again. This time, the girl stumbled away from the rancher before bolting in the same direction Bill had followed.

    "Hope! Don't!" Julie paused to cast a frantic glance towards Ellen. "Nurse Joy, stay here! I'll go get her! Furret, come on!"

    Before Ellen could react, Julie sprinted after the girl, the ferret in tow. The nurse was, once again, left behind in utter, stunned silence.

    ---​

    A year ago, Lanette would have screamed bloody murder at being carried high into the air by three alien monsters. She never liked heights, much less flying. Now, she had her knife in hand, her arm swinging in a frantic effort to gut her captor. Eventually, one lucky swing planted the blade between the bird's ribs. The ixodida screamed and snapped her arms apart, releasing her victim mid-flight. Lanette slipped through the air, freefalling until she landed on something soft and warm. Sitting up, she sheathed her knife and patted her altaria on the back.

    "Good job, Altaria. Now, finish it! Flamethrower!"

    The dragon chirped and swiveled her head towards the ixodida. Opening her beak, she spewed a jet of flames at the injured harpy. The fire engulfed the creature, scorching her feathers and sending her to the ground in a fireball. She hit the cement with a crack, and there, she lay burning in a mess of feathers and limbs.

    Suddenly, something slammed into Altaria. Rider and mount flew in opposite directions. The second ixodida latched onto Altaria and drove her into a nearby rooftop. At the same time, Lanette fell, her hands grasping desperately for something to break her fall.

    Luckily, another hand grabbed hers. Her body jerked to a halt, and in the pause, she looked up to see a gloved hand. Above it, Lanette spotted a familiar face.

    "You!" she snapped.

    "Good to see you're safe, Lanette," Bill said.

    He glanced towards the rooftop where the other ixodida pinned Altaria. The harpy lifted her head, turning her blank eyes to Bill and Lanette.

    "That's not good," Bill muttered. "I'm sorry, Lanette, but it looks like we'll need to have this conversation later. Hold on!"

    Lanette yelped as Bill pulled her into the air and circled his arms around her waist. When he was sure he had a good grip on her, he darted back towards the pokémon center.

    He didn't get far. As soon as the shock wore off, Lanette began thrashing in his arms, pushing her hands against her colleague's chest in an attempt to get away. Bill held her tighter, but this diverted his concentration away from flying. As a result, the two of them began to bob and dart through the air uncontrollably.

    "Lanette, hold still!" Bill cried. "I can't—"

    She slapped him. Because of that, Bill's concentration completely snapped, driving him to swerve directly into a nearby shop wall. His aura vanished immediately, and both ixodida and human plummeted to a blue awning between the ground and them. Lanette bounced once on the canvas, but Bill, considerably heavier and sharper in a literal sense, ripped straight through and hit the sidewalk with a bang. He groaned and squirmed on his aching back until he propped himself up on his elbows. Then, Lanette slipped through the hole in the awning and landed squarely on Bill's torso. The blow forced the breath out of his lungs all at once as he smacked into the pavement again.

    Sitting up, Lanette glanced towards the street. She noticed how quiet it was. How still.

    Her lips moved as her voice spilled across them in a low mumble. "Altaria… Altaria! I'm coming!"

    She twisted and began to stand, but before she could, a hand grabbed her wrist. Looking down, she found the eyes of her partner.

    "Lanette, wait," he pleaded, hoarsely at first until he paused to clear his throat. "Altaria is a very strong pokémon, isn't she? Once we can convince the ixodida that we mean them no harm, we can get her to Nurse Joy, but please, don't hurt them."

    "'Don't hurt them'?!" Lanette wrenched her wrist free from her former partner's grasp. "Are you an idiot?! Bill, do you even know what you eat?!"

    He looked at her confusion. "I'm not sure how that's relevant, but raw meat."

    "It's perfectly relevant!" she snapped. "Where do you think that raw meat comes from?!"

    "I…" Bill stood. "Isn't it the same as what humans eat?"

    "No!" She huffed. "Bill, ixodida like you eat other pokémon!"

    "…What?"

    He fell quiet as he placed a hand over his stomach. All of a sudden, he felt queasy while the memory of his first meal as an ixodida surfaced in his mind. His mouth tasted acidic, and for a second, he thought he was going to throw up. In the meantime, Lanette drew her crowbar from the straps on her back and pointed it at Bill.

    "That altaria evolved from Brigette's swablu. If something happened to her…"

    "Lanette…"

    Bill shook his head and gave her a half-sick, half-sympathetic glance. Then, he caught a glimpse of something beyond her, and his expression completely dissolved into one of surprise. As quickly as he could, he lunged at her and shoved her out of the way of a stream of blue, disc-shaped lights. As soon as she hit the road, Lanette looked up, eyes darting back towards the storefront where she watched her partner get knocked clean off his feet. He crashed onto the sidewalk not far away, and through a wince, he looked up to see a white-feathered creature. This one stepped forward, folding a set of wings as he offered a hand to Bill.

    "My intent was to prevent her from harming you, not doing so myself. I apologize," he said.

    Bill smiled and reached for the other ixodida's hand, but before he could grasp it, it fell numb.

    Be wary, Adam hissed. Do not let your guard down.

    As quickly as it happened, Bill could feel his hand again, and with a sigh of relief, he grasped the ixodida's. The creature pulled him to his feet and looked him over carefully.

    "No harm done," Bill said. "She really wasn't going to harm me, you know. Lanette is just a bit cautious around ixodida like us. I promise you, if we can show her that we have no intent to fight any human, we can—"

    The flying-type's tail twitched. "Are you a rogue?"

    Bill released the ixodida's hand and blinked. "A… what?"

    Adam sighed. Bill. When someone asks if you are a rogue, the proper answer is no.

    "What?" he murmured. "Why?"

    Do you not remember the last time someone found out we were a rogue?

    The other ixodida narrowed his eyes. "A rogue of the Iron Clan. My empress would be most interested in you. Please come with me."

    Bill looked up. Adam?

    The proper answer would be no again, Bill.

    With a nod, Bill took a deep breath, straightened his back, and replied, "I'm afraid I can't. But please—"

    Without warning, Lanette's scream cut through their conversation. The feathered ixodida turned and extended his wings. He flapped them furiously, churning the air into a gale that met Lanette halfway through her lunge towards them, and before she could change direction, she was blasted back into the street. She landed on her side with a thud and skidded for several more inches before coming to a stop.

    "Lanette!" Bill shouted.

    A shadow cast over her, and she looked up to see the second harpy flying high overhead. The female extended her wings, readying them for one more attack. Lanette sat up, struggling to force her body into moving quickly, but the ixodida was faster. Her wings flapped rapidly, shaking blue arcs of energy free from her feathers. They cut through the air towards the human as the latter closed her eyes and braced herself for impact.

    That impact never came. Before it could, something warm hit her and held her tightly. Opening her eyes once more, she first took notice of a green barrier of light standing between her and the arcs. Each strike drummed off the surface of the translucent wall, causing it to flare brightly. Then, she realized the warm something was more of a warm someone – someone embracing her with his own eyes closed.

    "Bill…" she whispered. "You can use Protect?"

    Opening one eye, Bill gazed at the barrier. "So that's what he meant…" Then, with a grunt, he held Lanette a little tighter. "Lanette, I can't keep this up forever. What are we going to do?"

    Lanette regained her composure and frowned. "Listen. I won't ask you to kill anyone, but without Altaria, I won't be able to fight these monsters by myself. I need your help."

    The attack stopped, and with it, Bill's barrier faded. He relaxed his hold on her as he pulled away just enough to look at her face.

    "What are you saying?" he asked. "Wait, you don't mean… Lanette, the ixodida are just like me! They're people inside! We can't hurt them! Please, just let me—"

    Lanette, whose eyes remained on the other ixodida in the sky, abruptly gasped. She threw her arms around her partner and embraced him as tightly as she could.

    "Use Protect now!" she yelled.

    Without even thinking about it, Bill held her and closed his eyes again. Another dome of green light surrounded the two of them, blocking a stream of high-speed wind generated by the female. Lanette's fingers clenched fistfuls of cotton cloth from her partner's shirt as she tightened her hold just slightly.

    "If we don't act against them, they'll hurt someone," she told him. "If it's not us, then it will be the people of the Caravan. We don't have time for diplomacy. They won't fight fairly, and if we show them we won't fight back, they'll take that as an opportunity. Bill, I'm not asking you to kill anyone, but I have to do whatever it takes to protect the others. If you'll help me, I'll know I can trust you, but if you won't, then don't protect me. Do you understand?"

    The wind died down, allowing Bill to let the barrier fade. He relaxed just enough to look at Lanette once again.

    "All right," he said quietly. "What can I do?"

    Lanette pushed herself away from him. "You can fly. Distract the other one and try to lure it into landing. I'll handle the one on the ground. Go!"

    She shoved him away and bolted to her own feet. Nodding, Bill rose and cleared his mind until his body regained its golden aura. His feet left the ground, and the gold insect wings burst from his back. Looking up, he cast a glance towards the female.

    "Let's hope I can do this," he murmured to himself.

    Lanette didn't spend much time watching her partner; she only waited until he slapped his tail against the ground and rose quickly into the air. Once he did, she whirled around and plucked a ball from one of the pouches on the belts across her chest. Her feet stepped forward in wide, graceful arcs as her hand swept downward, fingers clicking the button on the ball to enlarge it before she let it slip from her grasp.

    "Spinda, go! Teeter Dance!" she cried.

    The ball opened with a pop, spewing out a brilliant, white light onto the pavement. In seconds, the light formed the shape of a small, red-and-white bear, and from there, the spinda leapt immediately into action – literally. She hopped from one foot to the other, bounding in a half-stagger towards the male ixodida. Blue light outlined her body as her paws rose in drunken waves, adding to the stumbling dance. With a growl, he responded by flicking his wings up and over his head, shielding his face from the bear and her dance.

    "Take the opening," Lanette ordered. "Water Pulse! Now!"

    Spinda stopped where she was and lifted an arm. The blue light around her body pulled upwards, swirling into a glowing ball the size of her head. She jerked her paw backwards and threw it down, slamming it into the pavement as her momentum pitched the ball towards the ixodida. The sphere of light splashed against Spinda's opponent seconds later, and once it made contact, it expanded until the feathered creature was completely engulfed in water.

    Lanette clenched her hand around her crowbar and barked one last order. "Finish it! Shock Wave!"

    At her master's order, Spinda let loose a cry and raised her arm once more. Blue electricity crackled off her body before rushing up to a point of light at her paw's tip. She twirled once, bringing her arms down until she pointed them, paws out, at the ixodida. The ball of white light bobbed in front of them and burst into a beam of electricity that sliced through the air and slammed into the water surrounding Spinda's opponent. Instantly, the attack exploded, sending electricity and steam arcing into the air. For the next few moments, the battlefield on the ground was shrouded in smoke until, finally, it cleared enough for Lanette to peer at what was left.

    The ixodida's feathered wings were still clamped around it, but his coat was no longer snow-white. Rather, patches of feathers were colored black, curled with burns and still slick with moisture. Part of the wall of feathers fell, tilting the whole thing to an angle as if the bird within it fell to one knee.

    Lanette took that to be her cue. Her voice ripped from her throat in a yell as she raised her crowbar above her head and stormed forward. Just as she was within a foot of her intended victim, the ixodida spread his wings, knocking her back onto the pavement. He glared at her, eyes narrow and teeth bared as his chest heaved with one breath after another.

    "How weak do you think I am?" he snarled. "Do you know who I am? I..." He slowly stood, his legs shaking in an effort to support his body. "I am a monarch. I am one of the empress's chosen guardians. I am not only one of the Wind Clan. I am its lord, the Lord of the Skies. I am not one you should underestimate!"

    He held his hands together as a golden orb grew between them. His hands separated, allowing the ball to grow to the size of a basketball as he pulled his arms back, reading an attack. Lanette simply stood and narrowed her eyes at her opponent, waiting for the strike. She didn't move. She didn't speak. She merely watched as the ixodida threw his hands forward and released his pent-up energy in the form of a hot, wide beam of light.

    It sailed right through what he thought was Lanette and blew a massive hole in the side of the building across the street.

    "And I am three feet to your right," Lanette told him matter-of-factly.

    The ixodida froze, his arms shaking as he suddenly became aware that Lanette was very close to his side. A stabbing pain racked his body, and he threw his head back and screamed. His hands flew to his side where Lanette had wedged her knife into the parasitic core sitting on top of his ribs. Looking to his side, his mind finally cleared, and his vision focused until he could see the real Lanette at last.

    "Confusion is an inconvenience, isn't it?" she purred. "So would being a member of a species with a fatal Achilles' heel."

    She pulled her knife free from the ixodida's body and sheathed it once more. Then, she turned and began walking away.

    "Spinda, put it out of its misery. Rock Tomb."

    With a grin, Spinda held one of her paws up. Then, she twisted it as she spun around wildly, kicking one of her legs up as she turned. She paused at the end of her rotation, fixing her spiral-shaped eyes on her target before swinging herself around. Her body gained speed as it lowered closer to the ground until, finally, she stopped on her knees with one paw rising in the air and the other slamming into the ground. The pavement beneath her rumbled as a crack rushed from beneath her paw to the ixodida. Once it reached the bird's feet, the ground split open, sending him falling into a hole as the cement rose and slammed together to swallow him completely.

    In the ensuing silence, Lanette huffed and looked to the sky.

    "That was almost too easy," she muttered. "Now, if only Bill would stop fooling around and pull down the other one."

    A cry from Spinda snapped her attention away from the sky. Casting a glance Spinda's way, Lanette immediately froze as her lips parted slightly. The reason why was staggering towards her with a nose smashed into the skull, two arms hanging limply, a leg dragging behind it, a back crooked, and what appeared to be burns all over its body.

    "You've got to be kidding," Lanette sneered as she watched the half-dead female stagger towards her. "Fine. If you want to play like that…" She raised her crowbar. "…Come get me, then."

    Meanwhile, Bill was literally flying circles around the other female – with good reason, too. Every moment he hesitated, she extended her wings and flapped them to launch another attack: another gale, another stream of blue lights, another rain of feathers. He bobbed and darted through the air in an attempt to dodge each one. One blast of wind caught him, driving him towards the ground again. The golden aura around him flickered and nearly faded before flaring up brightly just before he could smack into the ground. As a result, he glided just a few inches from the cement and launched himself into the air to analyze the situation again.

    Protect becomes less effective the more times I use it in a row, he thought. I've already used it twice so far; using it a third time would be too risky. And she's using distance attacks, so Iron Defense won't be effective. What does that leave me?

    Actually attacking?
    Adam inquired.

    "I can't, Adam," Bill replied as he dodged another stream of wind. "She's too fast, and I'm not ready to fight an ixodida yet. I can barely fight a normal Pokémon!"

    Then you propose doing nothing at all?

    Bill opened his mouth, but a cry prevented him for responding. He glanced down to see Lanette and a spinda freeze in their tracks. Ambling towards them was an ixodida, limping and flopping like a walking, half-burnt ragdoll.

    "Oh no," he whispered.

    Suddenly, something collided into him, and the next thing he knew, the harpy latched onto him and dragged him close to the ground where she threw him into the pavement. She sped away after that, pulling up and out of her Aerial Ace with a cackle. Groaning in effort, Bill sat up.

    Bill, we cannot simply sit here and do nothing, Adam barked at him. One female is attacking us, and the other is threatening your friend. What will you do?

    "I can't kill anyone," Bill said. "Isn't there another way? Can't I just convince them to stop attacking?"

    That will not work with my kind. They only know war. Why will you not understand this?

    Bill felt the wind pick up slightly. His nerves prickled as he cautiously cast a glance towards the female in the sky. She held her hands in front of her as a blue sphere of light swirled between them. Pulling her hands back, she aimed her palms at Bill and pushed on the ball, sending it flying right at him. He snapped his arms in front of his face and summoned another bright, green barrier to block the attack. The orb exploded on impact, flashing with a brilliant blue light as the energy contained within it rippled across the emerald wall. It took a few seconds for the dome to fade completely, and Bill took that as his cue to stand.

    However, his opponent wasn't finished. With another flap of her wings, she pulled her hands in front of her once again to generate another ball of blue light. For a second time, Bill cringed, holding up his hands and drawing yet another barrier around him. Once again, the female sent the ball flying just a second too late, and the attack smacked against the steel-type's force field and exploded harmlessly across its surface. This time around, as soon as it faded, Bill let his arms hang limply. They felt heavy and numb, as if they had been tied to weights for the past hour.

    Bill, you must fight back, Adam instructed. Only defending yourself will get you nowhere.

    "I know! I know!" Bill answered. "I just need time to think!"

    You will need to think faster than that.

    For a third time, the harpy drew her hands in front of her body. Wind swirled around her as another blue ball of energy formed in her hands. Bill, ignoring the numb feeling in his arms, forced himself to raise them one more time and summon one last barrier. This one glowed with a fainter light than his first one, however, and his arms shook as he held it up. As a result, when the ball flew at the barrier, it didn't strike it. It passed right through.

    Bill had no time to react. The ball slammed into his arms and chest, tearing him off his feet and sending him flying backwards. He landed in a heap a few feet from where he started with a loud bang.

    Seconds before that moment, Lanette had directed Spinda into another attack, one that was in the process of being executed. Spinda opened her mouth and inhaled deeply as her spiral-shaped eyes filled with tears. Then, she bellowed, her voice rising in volume to the point where the shop windows around her shattered. Blue ripples of light ebbed from her mouth and struck the ixodida, causing her to screech and flail her arms wildly until one of them struck and swept Spinda. The feathered alien sent the panda flying at an angle into a shop wall while the other struck Lanette just as she darted in to deliver a blow with her crowbar. Lanette was flung backwards, crashing onto the ground with a cry just after Bill landed. The steel-type's attention was drawn to her again at once.

    "Lanette! No!" he cried.

    Now do you see? Adam asked. If you refuse to act, you will not fulfill your true purpose.

    Bill lowered his head. "Adam, I can't do this by myself. I need to help Lanette, and I need your assistance to do it."

    Then what do you propose to do?

    Bill stood and held his arm. Above him, a screech sounded. He looked up to see the other harpy diving at him, her entire body glowing with a neon, teal color. That's when he tensed.

    "I have an idea," he said.

    Several feet away, Lanette picked her head up and shook it. A shadow loomed over her, and realizing that the injured ixodida was just above her, she reached for her crowbar, only to notice she had dropped it exactly where she had started. She sat up and pushed herself backwards, her eyes steadying on her opponent. The alien's lips parted, jaw unhinging to stretch her mouth wider than a human's could ever open. Yet, Lanette didn't scream. She didn't make a sudden move. She didn't even make a sound.

    That is, until she let loose an involuntary yelp when the second feathered ixodida crashed into the first. Bill skidded to a halt in front of her, shielding himself with his arms as he stood between the ixodida and her.

    "Are you okay?" he asked.

    She raised an eyebrow. "Fine."

    "Good. Don't move."

    The two harpies untangled themselves, snarling at one another before the healthy one spread her wings. With a flap, she was airborne again, but she wasn't that far from the ground before Bill rushed at her and grabbed her tail. He yanked her down roughly, ignoring the high-pitched screams that tore from her throat. Once she was down, one of his hands grabbed a wing while the claws of the other hand began to glow white. His fingers slashed across the base of the wing, severing it from the rest of the harpy's body with a crack. Her shrieks grew louder, and still, Bill didn't react to them. He simply focused on channeling the energy in his hand into his tail, and once it began to glow white, he turned quickly and swung it into the female. The metal cut through her body easily, sending her torso falling to the ground with a wet thump as her waist and legs dropped to the ground like a puppet cut from its strings.

    Bill raised his claws, ready to finish her off when the other ixodida grabbed him from behind. Her jaw unhinged again, releasing a hot breath of air that smelled strongly of fish. Shuddering, her prey wrinkled his nose and reached up to grasp her forehead.

    "You lot need to learn new tricks," he stated.

    With that, he sank his claws into his skull and flipped her up and over his head. As soon as she hit the pavement, her screaming stopped, and her head snapped clean off her body. Her arms flailed, grabbing onto Bill's feet as a red glow flashed in her back. He stooped down, his claws digging into the glow until he felt the smooth, glass-like surface of the parasite's body against his palm. Then, with a yank upwards, he ripped the ixodida's core free from her back. The rest of her body fell still as Bill stood over her, examining the parasite closely. At last, he clenched his fist, crushing the squealing pokémon in a burst of green liquid.

    "One down," he murmured.

    A scraping noise drew his attention to something crawling behind him. He lifted his tail, once again channeling energy into it until it began to glow white. Then, he turned, gliding his tail clean through the other female's neck. Her head dropped to the pavement and bounced until it rolled for a few feet, but the rest of the body continued towards him.

    "Where is your core?" he muttered.

    Suddenly, as if to answer his question, a crowbar jammed into the female's hand. Green liquid spurted out of the wound, and the headless torso collapsed. Lanette pulled her crowbar from the ixodida's body and flicked it to shake off the parasite's fluids, but she kept her gaze on the ground as she did it.

    Sighing with relief, Bill grinned at Lanette and walked to the middle of the street where the flying-type's blast forced him to drop his hat. Scooping it up, he fitted it back over his horns as he spoke to his partner.

    "That's quite enough excitement for one day, don't you think? Thank you for your help, by the way. You did spec—"

    He turned, only to come a mere inches from letting the pointed end of Lanette's crowbar stab through his scarf and into the flesh on the front of his neck.

    "Okay," she growled, "who are you?"

    He blinked. "What? Lanette, it-it's me."

    "********," she said. "It might have been Bill who saved me the first two times, but you're not him. Who are you, and what did you do to him?"

    Instantly, his expression blanked, and the creature that was controlling him reached up to grasp the end of Lanette's crowbar. She was about to slide it out of the ixodida's grip when it forcefully pulled her close.

    "My kind normally do not give one another names, but you may call me Adam," it said. "I assure you, Bill is safe. Watching this, even. Our hosts are fully conscious for everything we do – even when we get them killed."

    "If you're trying to force me to feel sympathy for monsters like you, you failed. Now, let Bill go," Lanette snapped.

    "Or what? You will hurt me with this little thing?" Adam narrowed its eyes. "Do you realize how easy it would be to kill you right now? I could stab you with my free hand. Decapitate you with my tail. Pull you high into the air, drop you, and watch you crack on the pavement like an egg. And those are just the possibilities Bill is aware of. He has no idea of half the weapons I have given him."

    Lanette released her crowbar and drew her knife from her belt. "Don't underestimate me. I know all about your weakness. The parasite body. If it's destroyed—"

    "Then you will live with the knowledge that you killed one of your closest friends," Adam finished. "Little girl, not that I happen to be proud of this fact, but I have killed far more of my kind than you could ever hope to eliminate yourself. Your threats do not scare me. And another thing."

    The creature stepped forward. Lanette flicked her knife downward, pointing it at Adam. It twitched its tail and grabbed onto the blade with a bare hand.

    "Bill can feel everything right now. Pain. Excitement. The heat of your body. It was his idea, you know. To help him learn about this body, just for this battle, he can feel everything I am experiencing. So, if you drive that knife into me, he will feel every second of blinding, excruciating pain until he and I finally die together. Do you really want to inflict that upon him?"

    Lanette's skin paled just a shade. Her red eyes glanced to the side, unwilling to peer into those of her colleague.

    "And do you want to know something else?" Adam asked.

    "What?" she snapped.

    It grabbed her chin and turned her head slowly – gently, even. "The reason why I have not attempted to kill you right now is because you entertain me. Your insistence on pretending to be a warrior. Your harshness. And most importantly, all the things Bill is saying about you right now, right inside my mind."

    Against her better judgment, Lanette stared into the alien's eyes. Outwardly, they were the same eyes as the ones she knew her partner to have, but somehow, these seemed dead. Cold. Unfeeling.

    "What is he saying?" she asked as firmly as she could.

    "'Don't you dare,'" Adam replied, mimicking Bill's voice perfectly.

    Lanette stiffened. "What's that supposed to mean?"

    If the creature could smile, Lanette knew exactly what kind would be on its face right then. It wasn't one she would have wanted to see.

    "This," it said.

    And then, its arms wrapped around her, drew her close, and kissed her forcefully.

    For the first time since she joined the Caravan, Lanette Chastain was completely stunned. Her fingers loosened until her knife slipped from her hand and clattered onto the pavement. Although it wasn't the best kiss she had ever experienced, she still felt her eyes widen and her body tingle. Her arms twitched, rejecting her every command to push the ixodida away. Instead, she stared directly at the closed eyes of the all-too-human face in front of her.

    Finally, the face pulled away, and its eyes opened. The dead eyes studied her carefully until they flicked to something over her shoulder. Abruptly, the creature's expression cracked. Its face paled, and its lips parted. Something returned to its wide eyes – a spark of emotion that signaled to Lanette that Adam was no longer the being in front of her. She was about to snap something when her partner let loose a soft whisper.

    "Hope?"

    Lanette looked over her shoulder sharply, and sure enough, behind her stood an alarmed, purple-haired woman holding a young girl close. They had the same eyes -- the alien in front of her and the young girl behind her, but this girl stared at her with a steady, serious expression.

    At the sight of that, Lanette's hands tightened into fists. Gradually, she glanced back at Bill, her mind struggling to form the words she wanted to tell him. She didn't want to explain to him why she was there. He wasn't supposed to know at all. But now…

    Luckily, before she had a chance to say a word to him, something clocked him in the back of the head. The ball split open, and right away, a red light surrounded him. Lanette backed away, watching as her former colleague and friend was pulled into a purple-and-silver poke ball. It dropped to the road, twitching and swaying violently as the button on its face blinked. All three of the humans stared at it, waiting for something to happen.

    And then it stopped. The button turned from red to an unlit gray.

    Gingerly, Lanette stooped, her hand reaching out to grab it. Before she could touch it, something struck the ground between her fingers and its plastic surface. She pulled her hand away, rubbing it gingerly as she studied the black tulip that was now planted in the cement. Its blossom crackled with white electricity before it exploded, spewing a thick cloud of smoke into the air. Lanette, Hope, and Julie all began to cough violently as the adults waved their arms in the air in an attempt to clear the cloud.

    It took a long while, but eventually, the screen cleared, allowing all three of them the ability to see and breathe. Lanette looked to her feet for the ball that contained the steel-type, and her heart began to pound when she realized the only thing on the ground was the broken stem of the flower. The ball was nowhere to be seen.

    "What was that all about?" Julie asked hoarsely.

    Lanette turned to her. "Julie."

    At once, she straightened and held Hope close. "Whoa, Lanette. Wait! I can explain!"

    "Take Hope back to the Caravan and tell them to leave immediately. Don't let Vito try to convince anyone to stay."

    Julie hesitated. On the one hand, she felt relieved that Lanette wasn't about to tell her off about letting Hope wander so far from camp. On the other, something was most definitely wrong if Lanette was telling her to order everyone to pack up and leave immediately.

    "What about you?" she asked softly.

    "There's something I have to do," Lanette replied. "Just do it, Julie."

    Before the rancher could object, she pulled out Spinda's poké ball to recall the bear and then yanked another one free from one of her pouches. Her feet began pounding the pavement as her hand worked to enlarge this ball and toss it into the air.

    "Solrock, I need you!" she called.

    The ball cracked open and released a flash of light into the air. Lanette snatched the orb as soon as it shut and continued to run forward as the ball of light followed until a red, sun-shaped rock burst from it and followed close behind its master.

    She didn't know how or why, but Lanette knew two things at that point. First, that Bill was an idiot. Second, that she had to get him back.
     
  4. Diddy

    Diddy Renegade

    xD <-- My face, right now.

    The end scene was probably one of the most surreal things I've ever read on this forum, without a doubt. At the same time though, there was a distinct rightness about it which made me feel all warm and tingly inside. Leave it to Jax to make human/Alien parasite feel right :p

    One thing I like about Bill in this fic, is how he is constantly being wrong-footed in everything he does. Which I suppose is part of why his character is so interesting to read, he's the scientist who's constantly in the dark and being put into a situation where his intelligence counts for very little.

    I do have to say though, I thought the Lord of the Skies would put up a little bit more of a fight, but as you said, 'Confusion is a bitch'

    Returning once more to the end scene, I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation between Adam and Lanette (and the stunning evisceration courtesy of Adam) but mainly the conversation. Adam came off as so goddamn creepy and Lanette played the part of 'Oh god, a murdering space alien is making conversation with me' rather well. And then Adam kissed her and I had to laugh, I'd go as far as saying that I giggled when I read that.

    Yes, Jax, you've reduced me to giggling.

    I hope you're happy with yourself.
     
  5. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    I win! \o/

    I mean, what?

    Well, either yours truly or the Japanese. *le nod* Iiin any case, I'm glad to see the little bit of inter-species lovin' got someone's approval. :D

    Thank you! It's what makes writing him really fun. I mean, seriously, I love his character, so naturally, I would want to write him as an overglorified Stu of some sort. Hence the lean towards the opposite end of the spectrum: 'cause who really would want to read about a super-genius who can solve every problem when they can read about a super-genius who has somehow been deemed the universe's personal butt-monkey? And I manage to avoid becoming one of those creepy kind of fangirls who fawn over over-sexualized can-do-no-wrong character-rapified versions of their favorites, so that's a win for me, too, and that's besides the fact that writing a character failing at life is a lot more fun than someone who always knows what to do.

    I'm sorry. What were we talking about again?

    That I actually have to agree with you on. When I wrote it, I intended the Lord of the Skies to be basically like the Brock of the Ixodida hierarchy: higher than most other folks but still so laughably weak you beat his Onix with a level 10 Butterfree and go, "No, seriously, how the **** did he get to be a gym leader, Pokémon League?" But he ended up being more along the lines of comic relief here because it was almost too easy for Lanette to the point where the drones were actually harder to beat. I'm playing with the idea of rewriting that so that he actually survives, but there's a scene that I'm working on for the twentieth chapter that should decide which way I should go there. (One version has the next lord laughing at Lord of the Skies for being hilariously weak. The other has the Lord of the Skies limping back to the empress.) I'm still going back and forth about which version of the scene to put in, so I'm totally open for suggestions here about whether or not the fight scene between Lanette and the monarch looked (more than) a little weird.

    Thank you! As always, Adam was loads of fun to write, just because, as I've recently learned, I really like writing creepy characters.

    ...And that came out on all kinds of levels of wrong.

    (But then again, so did a lot of this chapter, amirite?)

    ...You know, there's pretty much no way I can respond to this part of your review without having whatever I say sound incredibly wrong.

    Which is to say yes. Yes, I am. ;D

    And thanks again for stopping by and putting my mind back in the gutter where it apparently lives now! :D
     
  6. OH HO HO THIS IS DELICIOUS!

    I love this fic for its intense amounts of gore and campiness. For all the beautiful drama and destruction caused by the Deoxys, the cheesiness accentuates its luscious, wonderful..... *FAPFAPFAP*

    Oh, sorry.

    Excuse me for writing such a short review, but I've had big, douchey, technical problems and this is all I could do.
     
  7. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    *le bow*

    It's simmered for quite some time, believe me. ;D

    Y'know, if I had a penny for every time that happened, I'd be rich just from the conversations with Diddy.

    Seriously, though, thanks! Gotta have to say that it's not Deoxys, and you're not the first one who thought it was. I mean, given the story's plot, that would actually be even more epic than what I'm doing with it (although I'd probably be banned due to the things I'd do if I gave the main character psychokinesis, tentacles, and a dirty/sociopathic second personality), but yeah, once you get into the fic a bit more, you'll find out what it really is.

    ...But now I want to write a fic all about the things Bill would do if he suddenly had tentacles.

    (Probably nothing, given this is Bill we're talking about, but still.)

    It's okay. Just clean up your monitor and dispose of those tissues properly, plzkthnx. >:|

    Ouch. Totally A-OK. It's cool that you're reviewing at all around here, and I've got to thank you for agreeing to drop dropping on by. Hope those issues get cleared up soon!
     
  8. The Great Butler

    The Great Butler Hush, keep it down

    I'm not feeling well today, but I don't want to delay this review anymore. I'm going to do running commentary on it instead of quoting everything this time.


    Really liking this description at the beginning. It's certainly vivid without going into PURPLE ALERT territory.

    And then Lanette became an even bigger badass. Seriously, knifing the Ixodida that kidnapped her in midair, then burning it alive?

    On the other hand, I'm getting a little tired of her being completely ungrateful and not-understanding-at-all towards Bill. I'm trying to be understanding of what happened to her, which was pretty horrible, just... I kind of wish there would be more to it, you know?

    ...Well I guess I kind of got what I wished for, didn't I?

    ...Spinda?!! There's something I haven't even thought about in years. Nice surprise.

    And now I like crazy-axe-murderer Lanette again. Stop ****ing with my emotions, Jax.

    Isn't something off about this? Shouldn't that say that Bill sank his claws into *her* head?

    And so it looks like that Master Ball thing from earlier came true already, and yet, I can't stop laughing that those Ixodida+Lanette hybrids still might happen. XD;

    I liked the chapter, but I can't help but feel as if it ended a bit abruptly. Certainly, even if it did, that doesn't offset the character development in this, though.
     
  9. Phantom Kat

    Phantom Kat Hobo Writer

    *hangs head in shame* I'm sorry that I haven't been reading recently. Once school got out I immediately jumped into some moderation duties I left off at another forum that I had neglected this past semester. School was hardly easy this time around.

    In a way, though, this is great because I had two chapters to read instead of one! Since I don't like reading a bulk of chapters and then reviewing, I'll edit my post as I finish each chapter. Reviewing two chapters at once, I think, would mix my reactions and the thoughts I'm left with at the end.

    This one is for Chapter Eighteen.

    As mentioned earlier, the action in this chapter made up for the dialogue and character development that, while they were great fun to read, didn't satisfy the need for action. I wasn't surprised in the least that Lanette attacked Bill and that she only stopped because some harpies kidnapped her. As you wrote in the beginning, it doesn't seem scientists have much common sense because Bill didn't believe her. Maybe now he won't go near her without being prepared.

    And I feel bad for admitting this but I laughed, loudly, when I read this. I just had this image of Lanette straightening from her attack pose, bloody, and Bill in the sidelines just petrified. Poor, poor Bill. xD

    Coming back to something before that, I think Bill took a big step in accepting his powers as an ixodia when he climbed that wall, and then later when he used Magnet Rise. Throughout the whole story up until this point, Bill seemed to keep his mind and his new body separate, and what supernatural things he did were mostly done by Adam. I don't know, but it just seemed like a big turning point in Bill that it made the chapter that much more thrilling. As for what else he can do, as Adam hinted, I'll be looking forward to it, though I'm not sure if Bill is.

    This is the chapter I've been waiting for. I was not disappointed! You did a fantastic job, JX!

    I'm off to read Chapter Nineteen~ I'll update this post with those comments.

    - Kat

    EDIT: I have read Chapter Nineteen~

    So much action happened here, so many things, that I don't know where to start. First of all, two mistakes I saw:

    Yeah, just delete that bit. Reminds me of myself when I stutter sometimes and repeat the word like, twice in a row.

    Forgot italics for Adam's thought-speech.

    Okay, once again, there was so much action in this that I felt myself gritting my teeth with each paragraph. Yay for Bill acquiring Protect! Not so much yay for him being forced to dodge instead of attacking head-on. Then again, the harpy was just pushing him back with her energy balls and gales, hardly a fair fight. Down on the ground with Lanette and the Lord of the Skies, more of a title he applied on himself than by the monarch he's a guardian for, I think, the playing field was more even. I love how Lanette throws in another NU Pokemon into the spin, Spinda, to show this ixodia who's boss. Lanette throughout the entire battle was just hilarious. She always keeps her composure, except for a split-second facial expression. The fact that the ixodia kept coming back for more just made it all the better. I don't doubt he's powerful, but Lanette is much more cunning and resourceful.

    The moment I saw/read Bill throwing the harpy over his head and ripping her wings off, I assume, I knew something was off. When he went for her core and had no qualms about decapitating her, I knew this wasn't Bill. In a way, I'm relieved Lanette caught the change. Whether she likes to admit it or not, she knows Bill better than most people. Then, when Adam began to talk to her, the creepiness set it in. Adam is just so in control of the situation and talks like he's just someone that hopped in for the ride like a spectator that it's unnerving. He's the only character I've encountered so far, barring Bill's dad, that seems to know exactly what he's doing. The sureness is just scary. However, unlike Bill's dad, Adam isn't human. He's a cold, unfeeling monster.

    After I read that line, I stopped reading, buried my face in my hands, and tried to stop the smile from completely forming on my face (and now it's coming back as I'm typing this). Out of all the things I expected Adam to do, this wasn't it. Though in hindsight, it's just like him, teasing Bill with something he knows humans cherish and reserve only for their mates or mates-to-be. I can just imagine Bill either screaming bloody murder or losing consciousness right then and there, if such a thing is possible in his state.

    xD Wait until Adam hears. Maybe Bill can do better? /shot

    And then after that, everything went to Hell. Hope and Julie saw them. Bill was captured by the Black Tulip. Lanette is off to rescue him. I absolutely can't wait to see what happens next; such suspense! This is one of my favorite chapters. Magnificent job, JX! You made me cringe, laugh, smile, and gasp all in this chapter! xD I cannot wait to read more!

    (Oh my God, this gave me so much inspiration for something I'm writing that I'll probably read this again tomorrow to have everything fresh on my mind.)

    - Kat
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
  10. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    o_O I hope you get well soon. Sorry I haven't been around lately, m'dear; otherwise, I'd send you good vibes as frequently as possible. Also, I'd probably smack you into doing healthy things, depending on what's ailing you.

    But in any case, it's totally okay, and I hope you've been resting otherwise. ♥

    Thank you!

    …Although this now makes me want to write a fic intentionally in PURPLE ALERT territory, just for lulz.

    Inorite? Lanette may or may not have been inspired by Chuck Norris Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Oh yeah. There definitely is, don't worry about that. I've got that scene all planned out, in fact.

    Buuut put it this way, there's a reason why she said Altaria was Brigette's.

    Thank you!

    Honestly, I've always wanted to use Spinda in a fic. It's not among my top ten favorite Pokémon, but it's adorable and, according to my own strange sense of humor, pretty hilarious. (Just the Spinda-related missions in the first Mystery Dungeon games. That's all I'm saying.)

    Also, it's equipped with a WTF-worthy movepool. Seriously, its stats may suck, but it learns a crapload of TMs and interesting moves. Figures, right?

    Aww, but your emotions are so much fun to play with. :(

    Haha, yes. XD Good eye there. I'll get that cleaned up on my next edit spree (which should hopefully be sooner than later because I may or may not be whoring this fic out to yet another community).

    I like how these two thoughts are in the same sentence. XD

    But seriously, oh yes. The next chapter(s) are going to be a lot of fun to write, let me tell you.

    In the meantime, I'd imagine sex with Bill at this point would be pretty painful. Just saying. (Just think about where he'd have to put his claws. *shot repeatedly*)

    Hmm. I think I get what you're saying. I couldn't quite think of how to end the chapter after the Master Ball was used. Basically, I knew I had to keep writing and take it to the point where Lanette ran off to chase after Domino, but I couldn't quite figure out how to have that happen. So, I do have to admit (and agree) that the ending isn't quite as strong as what it really should be. I'll check it out later and see if I can come up with something that works a little bit better.

    :O Ooh, where do you mod? Because I'm totally not going to join and stalk the crap out of you, oh no.

    *brofist* I hear that. Seems like every year of school gets harder than the last, and then you graduate and go, "Well, what now?" But it's good to hear that you got through it all right! Here's to hoping next year is better for you? X_x

    That is probably a saner idea than what I usually do (basically, copy all of the chapters I need to read in Word documents and review slowly but surely), and I think I may just steal it later on.

    Totally understood, and I do have to apologize for taking so long to get to the action. How many chapters were we expecting this battle? XD

    Haha, or maybe not. Poor guy is too much of an optimist (even if he doesn't like to admit it). This is why I love messing with anime canon. If you preserve that happy-go-lucky feel the anime has but throw dark fic-style crap at it, you get this hilarious clash that leaves its universe's denizens completely confounded. (This is also why I go lolrite at kids who think the anime needs to be ~*~dark and edgy~*~ in canon. That's what fanfic is for, guys! /rant)

    *le nod* Poor guy just doesn't get a break. ;D The universe even goes out of its way to make sure of that.

    Good analysis there! And that's exactly what's going on. Bill's slowly getting used to the idea that he's going to be stuck as an Ixodida for a long while, and he knows he has a choice between standing by and dying or reluctantly adapting. Buuuut it's still going to be baby steps for him because fully accepting everything means his world does a little somersault.

    As for whether or not he's looking forward to it, hard to say. XD On one level, absolutely not because that = more fighting. On the other, there's totally a part of him going, "I'm a Pokémon now. THAT IS SO AWESOME."

    Wow. I have absolutely no idea how I managed to repeat two whole words. o_O That's like an entirely new level of special beyond what I've been doing (i.e., the whole "lol let's forget a word here or there").

    …Although it's still luckily not the same level of special I experienced when I repeated a whole paragraph in one of the earlier chapters. That was pretty awesome. (On the other hand, that time was due to a copy-paste error. For this one, I'd have to consciously type the words twice in a row, so it's hard to say which slip-up is the more entertaining one.)

    Uh, on the serious side, thanks for the catch! I'll get it edited when I get the chance!

    Ooh, yeah, one of the bad things about letting Adam and Bill have conversations is that I'd eventually have the code the blasted thing. Fun fact: This usually happens once a chapter. I just manage to catch it within five minutes of posting usually, but this time, looks like I let one get away. XD; (Lesson learned: Preview button, guys! It's awesome!)

    Seriously, thanks for catching that! I'll get that one fixed up too. :D

    Inorite? You will be seeing that move used frequently (because it's totally not a play on Bill's name or anything).

    Also, yes to the harpy. Eventually, Bill's going to do some real fighting on his own. Eventually. Maybe.

    Or maybe he'll attempt to take a Doctor route and solve everything with ~*~negotiations~*~. Attempt being the key word there.

    It's official. You will be seeing a lot more of that Spinda.

    Indeed she is. ;D Which is why she now scares the crap out of Bill.

    I do have to say I love hearing about the vibes you're getting from these characters because it means that I'm getting across exactly what I want to have get across. In this case, I'm really glad Adam comes off as creepy because it is, and I'm glad that feeling isn't over-the-top, if that makes sense.

    (Also! Side note! It's always fun to see what kind of comments I get about Bill's father. He's a character who's been bouncing around my headcanon for years, and I just don't get the chance to use him that often. This is the first fic I've been able to write with him in it in which he isn't a complete and utter jerk. So, any comments I get regarding him are fantastic because I like to see people's reactions to his caliber of suave *** hole.)

    ;D Thank you! I am really having more fun writing about Adam's "fascination" with Lanette than I really should. Also, most likely, Bill is currently petrified, mentally going, "SHE IS GOING TO KILL ME."

    According to my headcanon/the Word-Of-God-so-far background to this fic, he has done better. ;D *also shot*

    Thank you! I'm really glad you enjoyed both chapters, and I hope I won't disappoint you with the next one. :D

    And I am totally keeping a sharp eye out for anything you post in this forum from now onwards because now I'm curious to see what kinds of ideas you got here. XD
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011
  11. Phantom Kat

    Phantom Kat Hobo Writer

    Funny you should mention repetition mistakes. I recently stumbled upon this one in chapter one after deciding to reread this from the beginning:

    Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think you meant to repeat this part. xD; (I'm not sure if someone already pointed this out.)

    I'm a moderator on PokemonElite2000 for Other:Chat and the the large Ultra Role Playing Game (URPG, for short) we have. Since the URPG has expanded to the Bulbagarden forums last year, I also moderate there. There's a a Stories section where you basically capture Pokemon through fan-fiction (different Pokemon need different story length, more complex plot, and so on) that I help run there. The awesome part of this section is that you always get a detailed review for your story saying whether you have successfully captured the Pokemon you're aiming for. My writing has improved a lot through these reviews over the four years I've participated.

    (What I'm currently writing is actually for this URPG, which I may post here now that I know someone is actually interested in reading it.)

    /stops advertising xD;

    Hehe, I agree with the /short/ rant about people claiming the Pokemon anime needs to be edgy and dangerous. If the anime was as we envisioned, there would be no fan-fiction, which is no fun at all.

    I'm actually going to copy-and-paste all of the chapters of AEM onto my pendrive tomorrow to have something to read on my seven-hour car trip to our new house this Friday. :D

    - Kat
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011
  12. GastlyMan

    GastlyMan Ghost Type Trainer

    Hey, sorry that this review is so late (and short). :'( The last few weeks of school just about killed me, and then I had vacation...

    You've done a great job, and it was fun catching up to see what I missed! :D

    That's pretty insightful of Adam ^_^ I wonder if this will have significance later...
    No! Not a trap! Nice cliffhanger :)

    BEST PARAGRAPH EVER! :D

    Aah, I love Bill and Adam's little side conversations XD

    You know, I really liked the flashback Bill had towards the beginning of the chapter. It shows a more compassionate, loving side of Lanette. It does a good job illustrating their prior relationship, making the present more understandable, and a bit sad.

    I actually don't think that comma is necessary, but I'm not entirely sure.

    Wow. Stunned is an understatement! :D I'll be honest; I definitely didn't expect Adam to do that!
    Anyway, good job. Bill and Lanette's relationship is just getting more and more interesting! XD Looking forward to more.
     
  13. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    They actually didn't. XD Thanks for that!

    I'm pretty sure this is another case of copy-paste error. During one edit spree in the early parts of this fic, I used a different technique of editing each chapter. Rather than edit a copy of the entire thing and copy-pasting it over the old one, I simply copy-pasted paragraphs or parts. This unfortunately means that there were times when I'd hit CTRL+V more times than necessary, and I wouldn't catch on to it because my computer sometimes likes to lag at the best possible moments. :|

    Tl;dr, seriously, wow. What exactly was I doing during that early editing process? Making things harder for myself, I see. Because that totally makes a lot of sense. (I'M UBER-TALENTED, GUYS! :D)

    In any case, definitely fixing that up the next time I do an edit spree.

    BRB, joining PE2K.

    DO IT. OR WAIT. I MAY BE ON PE2K SOON, SO EITHER WAY WILL WORK.

    ACTUALLY, POST IT ON SEREBII. I ACTUALLY NEED SOMETHING TO NOMINATE THE NEXT TIME WE DO THE FIC AWARDS THING FOR ONCE INSTEAD OF BEING A LAZY-JAX WHO ONLY HITS PRETTY RADIO BUTTONS.

    CAPSLOCK IS TOTALLY NECESSARY FOR THIS TRAIN OF THOUGHT.

    Exactly!

    And oh, I could go on for pages about the haterade the anime gets. :| A lot of the people who bash it don't actually watch it or haven't watched it when it was really bad (read: Johto), which simultaneously amuses me and makes me go, "OKAY. WHERE IS MY SMACKING STICK?" Because, seriously, the anime isn't actually that bad, especially in these last couple of seasons. It actually has plot (mmm, BW Team Rocket), and the filler isn't the same basic script over and over again.

    Not to mention it's a children's card game anime. Yes, it's going to be Happy Fun Candy Land. That's because it's unfortunately not Evangelion or Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I mean, it's cool if people are into that kind of thing. Things like Witchblade, Elfen Lied, and other more "darker" anime floats my boat, too. But, y'know, I realize that the Pokémon anime isn't meant to be like that, so I know that if I want that kind of fix, I'll just have to go and watch something else. And if someone uses Special as an argument to this thought again, there will be a slapping somewhere along the line, I swear.

    So, in short, yes and exactly to the fanfiction point. I mean, there's nothing wrong with the Happy Fun Candy Land feel of the anime, either; you just need to know how to work with it. And, well, appreciate it for how easily it can be twisted into something like Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

    Oh good God, seven-hour car trip. x_x I'm happy I could help you survive that, but still, hope you have an easy journey!

    Totally A-OK. I know how real life can be sometimes, especially this time of year with the lovelies still in school. Good to hear you survived it with your sanity (relatively) intact, right? :D

    Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and it's good to see you around again as well! ♥

    Oh yes. Repeatedly even. Because I'm a sucker for Chekhov's guns. And plays on names. And a whole bunch of other tiny-detail-oriented things.

    IT'S A TRAP. :V

    Thank you! I do have to admit, the wise man referenced? This. And now, my lack of shame knows no bounds.

    And those are always fun to write, just because it's so easy to get them to start bantering with each other. ;D

    *le bow* In that case, that might not be the last flashback/reference to their old relationship you'll see. (Actually, who am I kidding with that "might" there?)

    *headtilt* Y'know, I think you're right about that, although I'm a bit uncertain myself because the comma might also prevent it from being a redundant phrase. I'll have to check into that a bit more (because commas + adjectives = a serious ***** sometimes), but either way, yeah, definitely going to look that part over on the edit spree. Thanks for the sharp eye there!

    Neither did Lanette. ;D (Or Bill for that matter, but he doesn't count.)

    Oh yes indeedy. And I've got evil, evil things planned for those two later on, believe me. >:D

    And thanks again for the review! Here's to hoping that you're chilling at this point in time~!
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  14. Phantom Kat

    Phantom Kat Hobo Writer

    Oh no, I'm bringing AEM back to the first page. How horrible. :p

    You'll be happy to know that I have survived my car trip, despite the fact that two dogs were breathing down my neck through it all. I got to Chapter Sixteen of AEM on my way, and I found some more typos you can fix during your editing spree.

    I don't think that should go there.

    "Adam thought," should not be in italics.

    Forgot to italicize the rest of Bill's thoughts.

    "Adam" should be "Abel."

    Not a typos, but it sounds a bit awkward with two “anyone” in the same sentence.

    ---

    I didn't realize how many details I had forgotten from the past chapters. Ariana, for one, I completely forgot about, but with 009 heading to Slateport with Bill in tow, I feel the Rockets are going to be back into the picture, Ariana included. Then we have the Committee, who might catch wind of this capture and do something. Maybe. They still give me the heebey-jeebies.

    Then I laughed when I re-read Bill and Lanette's meeting. Also, I didn't catch Lanette ordering Hope to stay on the school bus until I re-read that part. of course, that didn't turn out the way she planned.

    Ha, I caught the part where 009 lampshaded the whole "sci-fi fiction" thing and when Bill lampshaded himself as a support character in the plot, rather than the hero. (Read the blog where you mentioned it.)

    - Kat
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  15. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    Gasp! This is a crime that should truly be brought before the eyes of the mods! *shot*

    Oh goodness, dog breath. x_x (I may or may not be more of a cat person, truth be told. Dogs are cute, but I unfortunately don't have the patience for them myself. I don't know why, but hey.) In any case, good to hear you survived! :D I'm also hoping you enjoyed it. Car trips are excellent if you're going through some interesting territory, so!

    /ramble

    Which will be soon, definitely. I joined PE2K, which means I may or may not have another medium on which I can ***** AEM out share the story with others. And whenever I decide to do something like that, that means I go back to the beginning and clean the cripes out of it, so yay excuse to do it! \o/

    In the meantime, you really are right about all of those points, including and especially that last one. The double anyone does have a sense of redundancy, so I'll be looking at rephrasing that. The others are pretty easy fixes enough, so they shouldn't be too bad.

    Probably didn't help that I spent months getting from one chapter to the next. XD Sorry about that. (Maybe I should make a chart that lists all those finer points the next time I decide to go a month and a half with not a peep. *shot again*)

    Oh definitely. Or at least Nettle. You should be seeing another bit with Ariana and John making sweet, sweet business proposals soon, I should think. They're due to speak up.

    As they should. ;D

    *le bows* And yes, it didn't go as planned at all. And so long as Hope keeps on thinking she's River Tam, probably a lot of things Lanette plans on having her do will just not happen.

    Oh hey! People are actually reading that thing! \o/

    Seriously, thanks! I love those subtler tropes. It's always so awesome to watch people's reactions when they think about it later and go, "...Hey!"

    Anyway, thanks for the review and the bumpage! Hopefully, chapter twenty will be coming out sometime within a week, so...!
     
  16. Cryptic Blaze

    Cryptic Blaze Blinded by the light

    I am terribly sorry about the late review, but between trying to enjoy my shortened vacation from school and a ton of power outages, I haven't been able to read your fic. It was fun to catch up with the fic though.

    Now, on with the review.

    Chapter 18:

    Now we have some action going on and we even have Bill trying out some new tricks as well. It is nice to see that Bill is starting to use his new skills to help himself out, but I have to somewhat agree with his "baby step" approach to learning his new powers. If he were to rush into battle learning all his powers at once, he may end up acting a bit more like Adam (but since this is Bill we are talking about, we shouldn't have to worry about that XD).

    Chapter 19:

    This is probably one of my favorite chapters in the whole fic. Lanette turns herself into even more of a badass (if that was even possible) by knifing her captor while in the air and even takes down the flying-type monarch... although looking back on it, he was basically a push-over XD. Bill even learns how to fly, which surprised me.

    Ah, it is nice to see that Lanette still hates Bills guts even when he is trying to rescue her. :D
    It is sad, though, that the only reason she does it is because he has been transformed into an ixodida against his will

    Adam still cracks me up when he has his chats with Bill. The flying ixodida, on the other hand, are pretty unimaginitive with their attacks. Spamming the same attack over and over tends to not work in battle.

    Yay for Lanette using a rarely used pokemon. I like seeing pokemon like spinda used because of the fact you rarely see them. Heck, I even use a...(don't laugh) shuckle in my gym team (I am a gym leader for a group I'm in). It has been fairly effective in my team so far.

    ...What was I saying again? Oh yeah!

    Adam doing this completely shocked me then somehow creeped me out and made me laugh at the same time. I'm still confused a bit over that and has left me wondering why Adam did that.

    And now Team Rocket has captured Bill. It looks like Lanette is going to have to return the favor of Bill's "rescue". I also get the feeling the mysterious Committee will attempt something after hearing of this.

    Now that that is done, I need to go hide from the mods before I get whacked by the judgement hammer for my terrible crime of...bumping *gasp* get some other business done.
     
  17. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    *brofist* Seems like lots of people have been busy lately, and honestly, I'm not entirely surprised. Oh, this time of year. Some kids in some countries forcing themselves through finals, other kids taking off with families, and some other poor, pathetic souls (like yours truly) working obscene numbers of hours.

    In short, it's all good!

    Or completely go insane and end up like Adam that way, too. *le nod*

    (Or kill himself trying to master too many abilities at once. Y'know, either or.)

    Thank you! I'm glad it came across A-OK! :D (And, honestly, I felt bad about delaying the action for so long, so I jammed as much action as possible in this chapter. ...Unfortunately, chapter 20 is going to open with a bit of talking. But it's plot-relevant, so hey!)

    Oh yes. She's currently at only Lara Croft-level of badassery. She still needs a few more pushes to become Samuel L. Jackson-level, I think.

    Surprised him, too. XD

    XD Yeah, some things are a bit slower to change than others.

    Rest assured, though, that her attitude towards Bill might change soon. Or not. Depends on how she feels about that kiss Adam planted on her.

    Thank you! They're always fun to write, just because Adam really is like the patron saint of patience or something. I mean, seriously, all it can do is sit back and watch as its host falls flat on his face over and over again because it certainly can't go, "Okay, seriously? I'm driving. Shove over."

    Aaaaand that would be why Adam never cared for the Wind Clan. XD

    Thank you! Oh, Spinda. You need more love. ♥

    I just want to say that Shuckle is awesome. "Oh, you want to get past me? Sorry! I can't hear you over the sound of every attack you launch bouncing ineffectively off my massive defense stats. Brb, launching Toxic."

    Trolling the crap out of Bill/pissing Lanette off/because it could. Adam is a complex creature whose actions come with many a reason. *sage nod*

    Oh yes. Yes, they will.

    Good luck! And thanks for the review! :D *hides*
     
  18. brawlfan1

    brawlfan1 Brawl

    I'm not sure if I should cheer because I read all that, (for the record, on a tablet) or cry because there isn't more to read right away.

    Well, to distract myself from the above, reviewing time.

    My lord! That was incredibly captivating! I could barely manage to tear myself away to eat! Whenever I had to do ANYTHING I would just hope to get back and read more.

    I can't wait for more of some of the best writing I've seen in a looooooong time.

    Thank you, and good fortune on the rest of chapters and all else you do.

    Sincerely,

    -Brawlfan1
     
  19. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    Haha, yeah. I'm just coming off (yet) another hiatus due to real life, and AEM 20 is finally underway. I'm hoping to get it out either later this week or next week, depending on how much time I have to sit down and write. (Some of the hang-ups? Trying to figure out how to start the fic.)

    In any case, thanks very much for your kind review! I'm hoping future chapters won't disappoint. :D
     
  20. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    Side author's note, but after this chapter, I'm going on a short hiatus. First of all, I'd like to get somewhat started on the edit spree I've been promising for months and to get AEM caught up at those other fun places where I've been whoring it out posting it. Second, real life stuff. But I'm hoping to be back by the first of October (which is what's technically the fic's second birthday), even if I end up writing a short chapter followed by some awesome stuff for Halloween (also hopefully). Don't worry, guys. I'm not going to leave you hanging like I did for the past month and a half.



    Anima Ex Machina: Twenty
    So the word of fire burns today.


    In the middle of a grassy field sat a jeep. Sitting in the driver's seat was Professor Nettle with her dozing jynx by her side. All of Nettle's attention was focused on the screen of the laptop in front of her. On it was a window with a map of Mauville City and the surrounding area, and for the past half an hour, a blinking red dot within it was moving towards a white one. With each moment the dots grew closer together, the map zoomed in until Mauville completely disappeared from the screen. When that happened, Nettle smiled, and her jynx stirred and hummed. The human-shape pokémon sat up as her eyes began to glow bright blue, prompting Nettle to reach over and place a hand on her partner.

    "Calm yourself, Jynx," she said. "It's only our field agent."

    "Your field agent?!"

    Nettle's gaze swept to the side to see 009 push her way through the tall grass surrounding the jeep. A scowl was planted across the blonde's face as she jumped into the air and landed with a bang on the jeep's hood. With both feet planted firmly on metal, she sent a furious glare at the scientist.

    "In case you've forgotten, I outrank you according to Giovanni," the Black Tulip barked.

    Nettle lowered her eyes to her laptop and pressed a button. A shelf slid out of the side, and an arm folded out of the side of the screen.

    "In case you've forgotten, you seem to have fallen out of grace with Giovanni, so I would suggest you watch your own tongue if you're desperate to regain his favor," Nettle corrected. "Now. The Master Ball."

    009 growled as she reached under her hat. Her hand drew free the purple poké ball, which she held at arm's length to show to the scientist. Putting the laptop on the dashboard, Nettle stood and reached to grab the ball, but just as soon as she stretched her arm towards 009, the agent smirked and pulled the ball away.

    Nettle stood straight. "What do you think you're doing?"

    "You really don't get procedure, do you?" the agent said. "Contact Giovanni first."

    "Why would we do that?"

    "Easy. We're going to hand XP-650 to him personally. That way, we're guaranteed a ticket home."

    Nettle balled a hand into a fist and pounded the edge of the windshield. Jynx stood, her golden hair flaring to her sides as a blue aura surrounded her.

    "Are you suggesting Mr. di Roketto can't be trusted? Do you realize that's treason?!" Nettle screeched.

    "Hardly," 009 replied as she rolled her eyes. "That's what being a member of Team Rocket is all about, Professor Nettle. Giovanni would be proud of a member who bargains with him instead of just follows orders. You can't trust anyone in our business, you know."

    "This is our leader, 009. How dare you question his intentions!"

    "Seriously?" 009 flicked her wrist, and a black tulip slid from her glove to cover her smile with its dark blossom. "This is Team Rocket. Call Giovanni now, or I'll leave you here and find a way to contact him myself."

    For a few moments, Nettle and 009 stared at one another intensely. Neither woman flinched in her expression – not until Nettle sat back down and huffed. She pulled the computer onto her lap and began keying commands into a prompt window. 009 lowered her flower and grinned widely.

    Suddenly, Jynx turned and exhaled a blast of cold air and snow. The wind cut through the air and swirled around an object high above them. Looking up, 009 and Nettle saw a solrock hovering directly overhead. One of its points glowed bright white just as the wind hit it, forcing it to release the pent-up energy in its stone body. The SolarBeam cut through the air, sailing directly for 009. Instantly, the agent jumped out of the way, diving into the grass just as the beam blasted into the hood of the jeep. Nettle ducked and screamed, covering her head with her arms as the windshield exploded.

    When it was over, Nettle uncurled herself first, placing her hands on the laptop as the images on its screen flickered. Jynx stared intently at the solrock, her eyes glowing as she waited for orders. The Black Tulip stood in the tall grass, a hand wrapped around her arm while the other one gripped the Master Ball.

    "Call Giovanni!" she demanded.

    "How can we rendezvous with him now?!" Nettle snapped, her eyes peering over the screen at the smoking crater that had been the front of her vehicle.

    "Just do it!"

    At that order, Solrock tilted its body until it gazed at the laptop instead. As Nettle's fingers slipped to the keyboard, Solrock's eyes took on a blue glow. Jynx responded quickly, focusing her psychic energies into reaching out and grabbing Solrock, but before she could complete the attack, a ball of blue energy slammed into her back and washed over both her and her owner. The Water Pulse swept them out of the car, laptop and all, and sent them tumbling into the ground on the other side of the broken jeep. In seconds, the laptop hit the ground with a bang, and its display blanked with a fizzle of electricity.

    "No!" 009 screamed. Then, as she turned away from the jeep, her purple eyes scanned the grass. "Who's there?! Show yourself!"

    The grass around her rustled rapidly. She reached for her waist, intending on pulling free her tulip baton, but before she could, a white and red blur leapt at her face. Instinctively, she sidestepped it and swung her arm outward, catching the object in the back of the head. As soon as the blow landed, the creature smacked into the hood of the car and bounced, landing on its hind feet on the ground nearby. As it turned, one of its paws reached up to rub the mark on the front of its face, and right away, 009 recognized it.

    "A spinda," she muttered. Then, with a grin, she turned towards the field. "Lanette, was it? If you want to come out and challenge me, I'll go easy on you, but really, aren't I doing you a favor?"

    There was a bang behind her. She looked over her shoulder just in time to see Lanette grab her arms.

    "I'll decide what is and isn't a favor for me," she growled.

    Glancing to the side, 009 smirked and yanked her body into a turn. Lanette stumbled off the dented hood of the jeep to follow her target, but this put her in range of Jynx. The human-shape creature flew towards her victim with a fist pulled back and covered in ice, and before Lanette could realize what was about to happen, the ice-type slammed her punch into the small of her target's back. 009 wrenched herself away just as the ice extended from Jynx's fist and completely engulfed Lanette. Clicking her tongue, 009 turned and smirked.

    "Sorry, but it looks like we win. Now then…" 009 opened the hand that held the Master Ball, only to find a rock in the palm instead. Freezing, she did a double-take. "What's this?!"

    She turned frantically, searching for the missing ball. A flash of purple caught the corner of her eye, and as she turned, she noticed the spinda's paws hefting the Master Ball just above the top of the grass as the panda ran through the field. Solrock bobbed above her, its stone face fixed on the jeep and the group near it.

    "Abandoning your master? That's rich!" 009 shouted. "Jynx, after them!"

    The frost princess sent her a glare as a sopping-wet Nettle approached the vehicle again.

    "She only listens to me," Nettle informed her.

    At that, the Black Tulip pulled her baton free from its clip across her thigh, and with a flick, she telescoped it to its full length.

    "You both are useless!" she hissed.

    The Black Tulip launched herself at the pokémon with her arms poised to swing the baton at them. Solrock stopped as the glow in its eyes intensified. Just then, 009 felt a force pick her up and throw her backwards, into the back of the jeep. At the same time, the Master Ball vanished into the grass. Nettled watched it as she seethed, but then, she turned to her frozen captive.

    "Honestly, you grunts have no creativity," she sneered. "Jynx, assault their trainer directly. Psychic!"

    The pokémon turned, her eyes lighting as she held her hands towards Lanette.

    As if on cue, something in the grass popped, and a white blaze of energy streaked towards Jynx. Seconds later, the bolt slammed into Jynx, forcing her glow to extinguish. Both she and the newly released pokémon tumbled one over the other until, finally, the two of them crashed into the base of the ice prison. It tipped over, threatening to pin the both of them to the ground until a hand reached up to support it. The glow around the released pokémon faded at that point, leaving Bill kneeling between his frozen partner and the jynx. He stood as his free hand began to glow white, and with a quick swipe, he slashed at the surface of the ice. It shattered quickly, allowing Lanette to fall into her partner's arms. Unable to speak, she clenched her teeth and shivered as Bill pulled her free and set her to the side.

    "Are you all right?" he asked softly.

    She hesitated briefly before wrapping her arms around herself and nodding.

    "Good." As he straightened, his expression darkened, and his next words came across louder and more forcefully than his question. "You and I need to have a word with each other."

    Lanette opened her mouth as she gave Bill a stony glance.

    "No, just listen," he said. "I just want you to know how insanely difficult you're making all of this. Of course, it already was rather difficult because in no way did I choose to become an ixodida, despite what one might say about my research methods. While I wouldn't have exactly minded being a pokémon, the one time I have the opportunity to truly live as one involves more problems than I would ever want in my life! Allow me to enlighten you. Not only did I not have a choice in the matter, I'm almost certain I died at least once during the transformation process. I was nearly captured by a criminal organization. I was sedated. I was kidnapped by an ixodida and dragged to Hoenn. I was pistol-whipped by a police officer. I was restrained to a bed twice. A city full of humans tried to use me as bait. Two ixodida tried to kill me. I had to watch myself kill someone in self-defense. I was burned alive, electrocuted, and thrown into concrete."

    Behind him, Professor Nettle cleared her throat. "Pardon the interruption, but—"

    Bill whirled around and glared at her. "I apologize for my insubordination, Professor Nettle, but if you don't mind, I'd like to finish." Then, turning back to Lanette, he continued, "That's not even the half of it yet. Then, my best friend keeps trying to kill me. My symbiotic partner thinks all of this is incredibly amusing and thought it would be even more entertaining to force me to kiss you – and I don't mean any offense by that, Lanette, but I had absolutely no intent to do that, and that wasn't me. And then, Hope! Moreover…" He pointed a thumb back towards Professor Nettle. "Why is Professor Nettle behind me, and what just happened?"

    By then, Lanette's body had warmed up just enough for her to stop shivering. At the end of her colleague's list, she exhaled, lifted a hand, and slapped him.

    "Would you stop doing that?!" he exclaimed as he brought a hand to his reddened cheek. "I'm very close to being driven absolutely mad from all of this, you know!"

    "This is hardly the time to snap at me!" Lanette growled. "Those two captured you in a poké ball, Bill. A poké ball! And they intend on keeping you, and you're worried about how much grief I'm causing you?"

    "In a poké ball?" He stood and faced the Rockets. "Let me see it."

    Nettle narrowed her eyes at him. "McKenzie, we may not be at Polaris Institute, but I am still your superior. You'll address me with respect."

    "Normally, I'd oblige," Bill replied as he twitched his tail. "However – and I must apologize for this, professor – my patience has been worn very thin by now. I would like to see the poké ball you used to capture me."

    The corners of Nettle's lips curled upwards as she purred, "Do you really think you're in any position to make demands? I own you, you annoying insect!"

    "Uh, correction?"

    Nettle swiveled her head towards her fellow agent. "What is it?!"

    009 tossed the limp spinda she was dragging behind her, allowing it to land with a thud at Lanette's feet. With her other hand, she held up the Master Ball.

    "I was the one who captured him, so wouldn't I be the one who owns him?" she asked.

    Bill spread his hands to extend his claws as he took a step forward. "Neither of you own me. You may have that ball, but if you think I'll obey either one of you—"

    "Oh, you grew a spine since we last saw you," 009 quipped. "That's good. Giovanni likes a challenge." She tossed the ball into the air, caught it, and pointed the button directly at the ixodida. "Speaking of which, he's probably waiting for you, so back in the ball you go!"

    Every muscle in Bill's body tensed at that point; he prepared himself to dodge the Master Ball's retrieval beam, although he knew he hardly had the speed to avoid it. Luckily for him, at that moment, a blob of purple light slammed into her hand from the side, forcing his would-be trainer to release the ball. It arced through the air towards Nettle, but before she could reach up to grab it, a blue glow surrounded it. Then, it shot backwards towards a waiting solrock. As soon as it had a grip on the orb, it darted to Lanette's side as she knelt to scoop Spinda into her arms. Standing, she held Spinda in the crook of one of her arms while the other reached up and swiped the ball out of the air.

    "Neither of you have the right to own him," she said.

    Bill relaxed and looked at her. "Thank you. Now, if you would be so kind as to rel—"

    "He's mine," Lanette finished, punctuating her statement with a cold glare directly at him.

    And then, his expression dissolved into one of utter horror. "What?!"

    009 gripped her baton with both hands and brandished it at the red-head. "Hey! You can't do that! I caught him legally! What kind of hero are you, stealing other people's pokémon like that?!"

    "You know, she's right up until the part about catching me legally," Bill added. "Lanette, you've got to let me go! You can't keep me like this!"

    Lanette's expression hardened as she stepped closer to him. "Bill, Protect."

    One of Bill's hands lashed outward, and a translucent, green wall erupted around both him and his partner. Drawing his eyes forward, he watched as 009's tulip baton collided with the wall, and the agent herself, in what appeared to be a jump aimed at Lanette, bounced off the barrier and landed on her feet back where she started.

    "What just happened?" Bill breathed.

    "Intercept with Metal Claw," Lanette barked.

    To Bill, it was as if his body was acting on its own. His hand rose, skin glowing bright white, just as the Rocket agent bolted for him. Her baton struck his palm with a clang, and there they stood in a stalemate as they locked gazes with one another.

    "Metal Claw again. Knock her out of the way," Lanette ordered.

    Bill's free hand swiped at 009, but she, anticipating it, jumped into the air, backflipped, and landed out of her opponent's reach.

    "What other attacks do you know?" Lanette asked.

    Her partner half-turned to see her. "A-attacks?"

    "Metal Claw, Protect, Magnet Rise, and what else? Parry with Protect and hurry up!"

    Bill flung his hands outward, his palms facing the Rocket as a green barrier glittered around him. Seconds later, the Black Tulip's baton hit his Protect with a bang.

    "Iron Defense, Scratch, and Slash," he yelled to Lanette. "That's all I know."

    "Fine. Iron Defense!" Lanette ordered. "Bill, you know one more. What about Iron Tail?"

    When 009 swung at him with her baton again, Bill automatically blocked her with his forearm. Underneath cotton cloth, he could feel a warmth pass over his arm and his skin stiffening against his muscles. The agent responded by, once again, somersaulting backwards, landing where she started, and darting to the side.

    As he kept watching her, Bill finally responded, "I can't use that by myself! I've tried, but when I try to focus—"

    "Intercept! Follow with Iron Tail!" Lanette shouted.

    Bill couldn't protest. He didn't even think about it. Instead, as if it was moving on its own, his hand raised just in time to grab the Black Tulip's baton just as she rushed him from the side. Then, his mind cleared, his tail stiffened behind him, and each joint began to glow. His feet slid into motion, turning his body until his tail cut through the air with a whistle. 009 gasped and let go of her baton. She leapt into the air and shoved her boots into Bill's shoulder, using him as a springboard to launch herself out of his reach once more. Thrown off-balance by her dodge, Bill tilted backwards, letting his tail — and the attack — slam into the ground just before he fell onto his seat. He coughed and sputtered at the dust that was kicked up around him as his fingers felt the ditch he had inadvertently created. Eventually, a realization dawned on him.

    "How did I..." He moved his tail, feeling the ache of the attack radiate up his spine. "Adam, was that you?"

    No, that was entirely you, Adam replied. At last. You begin to fight. This is a very good sign.

    "But I—"

    "Bill! Protect!"

    At the sound of Lanette's voice, Bill's arms shielded his face as one more green barrier ignited around him. An orb of light blue energy crashed into the wall and exploded, coloring the dust around him with brilliant turquoise light. Not a single tendril of energy passed the wall, but by the time it faded, Bill smacked his hands into the ground and leaned into his arms. All of a sudden, his vision began to fade, and he felt as if he had already run for miles.

    Lifting his chin, he watched as the dust cleared to reveal Jynx and Professor Nettle standing side by side. Jynx had her purple hands held palm outward as her eyes remained steady on the ixodida.

    "My turn," Nettle drawled. "Jynx! Ice Beam!"

    Obediently, the ice woman opened her mouth as a ball of blue energy formed just in front of her plump lips. Her golden hair rose as she leaned back until the ball grew to the size of her head. Bill braced himself, tensing in case he caught another order from Lanette, but one never came.

    Instead, a black and white object dropped from the sky and smacked Jynx in the head. She immediately tilted backwards and released, allowing the bolt of ice energy to fire into the sky. Following it with his gaze, Bill watched as it narrowly missed a creature suspended above them.

    A creature, Bill noted with a cold feeling in his heart, that was on fire.

    Although the creature's form was blurred with the corona surrounding it, Bill could tell it was another ixodida. It was human-shaped, roughly the size of a lean, fully grown man, with a long tail that curled under reptilian feet. Human arms extended to its sides, ending in red-hot claws. Behind it, a pair of insect wings blazed, keeping it hovering a safe distance away from the group. Its eyes, black in color, scanned each member of the party below it as it silently waited.

    Suddenly, Professor Nettle screamed. Glancing towards her, Bill noticed that she had picked up the object that had been thrown at Jynx, and in her horror, Nettle threw the object as far away from herself as she could. Keeping his eyes on it, Bill watched it bounce once and roll to the side until it stopped. Once it did, he froze, staring deep into the milk-white, dead eyes of a decapitated, feathered ixodida.

    "Solrock!" Lanette shouted. "Stone Edge! Quickly!"

    The rock sun's eyes flared with white light as a pair of light rings crossed its body. It tilted back until all of its face was bathed in the light thrown by the flaming ixodida. At the same time, the rings around it split into sets of white stones hovering like miniature planets around their star.

    Just as Solrock was about to fire both sets, the ixodida finally moved. It lifted a hand to its chest and cast it outward, pointing directly at Solrock. As soon as it did, the flames of its body turned bright blue as fire shot off its arm, sliding down the ixodida's finger until it blasted as a light-blue inferno. Its victim was instantly engulfed with flames as the force drove it into the ground. Lanette dodged, diving with Spinda in her arms into the tall grass nearby. When the fire died down, Solrock lay in a crater, charred and still.

    Bill felt a shudder, but he knew it wasn't his doing. In his chest, he could feel his core drop in temperature.

    "Adam," he whispered. "What's going on?"

    Something far from convenient for us. Be prepared to run.

    "Run?" Bill squeaked.

    "At last, an ixodida worthy of our leader's army," Nettle said with a smile. "Jynx! Psychic!"

    Before the siren moved, the flaming ixodida's other hand flicked outwards to point at Professor Nettle. Blue fire spewed from his other arm and spun directly at the scientist. Jynx cried out and moved towards her master, but she was far too slow to protect her. The flames slammed into Nettle, engulfing her with searing heat. Her screams pierced the air, rising above the roar of the blaze. Bill flinched at the sound, clapping his hands to his ears as his colleague's cries ripped through his head. Through watering eyes, he could see her silhouette bathed in azure. Writhing. Wilting. Collapsing in on itself until it melted into a black mass at the heart of a fire. Her screams faded into nothingness, and all that she left behind was the booming fire and the sobs of her pokémon. Neither of the humans could say a word, their eyes transfixed by the shock of what happened right in front of them. Bill himself couldn't move, couldn't feel a thing except something wet dripping down his face.

    Inside him, Adam remained alert. Bill. Listen to me. Do you see what happened just now? This monster will kill us if you do not focus. I cannot help you to run this time. Do not give him the opportunity to act.

    Yet, even with Adam's orders, the most Bill could do was stand — and even that was done shakily. Looking up, he found that the ixodida's eyes were suddenly on him.

    "At last, I have found you," it said. Its voice was deep. Male in tone. "I have sensed you since you arrived in my territory. It surprises me thoroughly that Her Majesty did not choose me to hunt you, but now that her champion is dead..."

    The creature landed several feet away from Bill. Around his toes, the grass smoldered and blackened.

    "A rogue of the Iron Clan. This is most disturbing," the ixodida commented.

    "W-who are you?" Bill croaked, his throat suddenly tight.

    The other monarch tilted his head. "A better question would be who are you? Your name."

    Do not answer him, Adam advised.

    Bill shut his mouth. The other ixodida narrowed his eyes as the fires dancing across his skin grew. Around him, patches of grass burst into flame.

    "Very well," he said.

    His arm rose, and a clawed finger extended towards Bill. The steel-type tensed as he watched blue fire curl around his opponent's wrist.

    Bill! Run!

    Adam didn't need to tell him twice. Bill lifted a hand, extending a green barrier of light around himself as he turned and pushed off the ground in a sprint. He intended to dodge to the side, to lead the ixodida away from the others, but as soon as he turned and started running, he could hear the roar of fire rush towards him. Almost immediately, a massive force smashed into his barrier and sent him flying backwards into the grass. As soon as he hit the ground, the barrier around him shattered, and the blue fire streamed through to ensnare his body.

    For the next few seconds, all Bill knew was pain: pain greater than anything else he had ever experienced. It was like he was thrown into a vat of magma, where every inch his limbs tried to move was met with extreme resistance, where his flesh began to bubble and melt under the intense heat, where every nerve screamed at his brain. His skin felt as if millions of hot needles were jammed into every part of him all at once. He swore he could hear a woman scream his name, but her voice was drowned by the deafening thunder of the fire. His mind blanked, and although he could perceive Adam barking command after command at him, he couldn't think.

    In other words, it hurt like Hell. Exactly like Hell.

    After some time — and Bill could no longer discern how much time was passing around him — the fire drew away from his body as something stepped between him and the ixodida. His vision resolved just enough to see the hem of a pink dress outlined with blue light. Golden hair rose into a wide halo as a purple hand directed the rest of the blue flames into a curve aimed its source. Above Jynx, dark clouds quickly rolled in, and fat drops of rain fell onto the field. The flames charring the grass began to die as Bill lay, staring blankly at Jynx as the siren's arms swept each fireball away from him and back towards the flaming ixodida. Behind him, he caught the sound of voices. Some of them were familiar. Some of them weren't.

    "Alakazam, good job! Now assist with Psychic!"

    "Manectric, Thunder!"

    "Chansey, hurry!"

    "All right, Growlithe! Let's go!"

    Pokémon stormed around him, but he couldn't move out of their way. He only let them pass over him as he continued to watch. In the meantime, the corners of his field of vision darkened, and his eyesight blurred once more into nothing but colors. Two objects, white and green, lowered beside him.

    "Is he all right?"

    "Bill, can you hear us?"

    "It looks bad. He's been burned. If we don't do something soon—"

    "I get it."

    A purple blotch lowered, overlapping part of the green object.

    "Bill. Return."

    At Lanette's final order, he closed his eyes and obeyed.
     

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