SWC Entry: Everything to Gain

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    Prince of All Blazikens! Magikchicken's Avatar
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    Default SWC Entry: Everything to Gain


    --Everything to Gain: SWC 2010--
    --Intent to Capture: PORYGON--
    --Difficulty Rating: DEMANDING (40k to 55k characters)--
    --SOME WRITING CONTEST 2010 ENTRY--
    --BEGIN--



    ---June 10, Year 1505 MTA; 00:04---


    A laboratory on floor B12 of the Silph Co. building, deep below Saffron City.

    The quiet bubbling of a beaker on a hot plate was the only sound, a melancholy mutter of churning liquid that only served to accentuate the room's silence. A flickering screen set into one wide wall dimly lit the sterile, metallic countertops, on which rested a forest of glass tubes and tall iron stands.

    The screen grew brighter, throwing odd shapes on the far wall and the ceiling as the whitish light twisted its way through the glass instruments. A low, droning hum started up, pervading the room and seeming to come from everywhere at once. A figure appeared standing in the doorway, and remained there silently as the light from the screen became so bright as to be nearly blinding. Then the figure spoke, a male voice with a tinge of some unrecognizable emotion.

    "Porygon, delay one minute and then execute."

    Having said that, the person turned and exited the room at a swift walk. The screen dimmed to its previous low flicker.

    On floors B13 and B11, above and below the lab, scientists slept in dormitory-like rooms, unaware that there was a traitor in their midst.


    ---June 10, Year 1505 MTA; 00:49---


    "Everything! Every last piece of glassware ruined, every sample contaminated!" the bespectacled, nerdy-looking young scientist moaned, wringing his hands and cringing as if expecting a blow. The young man, whose name was Scott Tork, wore an overlong white lab coat that was wrinkled, as if he'd slept in it... which he probably had.

    The man Scott was reporting to was an older scientist named David Brighter. About thirty years old as far as Scott could tell, he wore the spotless white coat of his profession and an uncharacteristically somber expression. Scott idolized him... and was beside himself with worry that, with this failure, he had lost Dr. Brighter's respect forever.

    "That's unfortunate, but we have the funds to replace it all. And our records are intact, so we can easily reproduce the experiments," Dr. Brighter told Scott soothingly, a kind smile finding its way onto his face. The two scientists were moving at a swift walk along a featureless white hallway with white lights running along the ceiling, which was so low that the tall Dr. Brighter had to stoop slightly.

    "That's not all!" Scott said despairingly. "The computers were wiped of all relevant data. Even our raw materials are ruined! The chemicals were thrown together in a way that seemed perfectly calculated to cause the most volatile explosions possible, and we had to get a hazard team to go in and clear the air of noxious vapours before we could even start cleaning up!"

    Dr. Brighter's face seemed to shut down. A cold, thoughtful expression replaced his smile as Scott spoke. "That is worrying," he said in a level tone.

    "Yes! Yes, it is!" shouted Scott. "What are they gonna' do to us when we tell them someone--" he cut himself off abruptly, eyes widening. He may have been socially awkward, but he was bright enough to realize the implications with only a little prompting.

    "Yes, Scott. Not only is someone responsible for this vandalism, but from what you said, it's someone with knowledge of where we keep our records... and of how to efficiently ruin all useful materials in the most damaging way possible."

    "Which means there's a traitor among us." Scott said, his blood running cold.

    Dr. Brighter smiled slightly. "From one point of view, yes. Or... perhaps whoever did this is the only truly loyal one."

    Scott lapsed into uncharacteristic silence at that. As they stepped into an elevator, whose doors opened to reveal a number of similarly taciturn white-coated researchers on their way down, he forced himself to rethink their situation. He checked his watch: It had been one week, six hours and fifty-two minutes since the takeover...


    ~~~June 2, Year 1505 MTA; 17:58~~~


    Scott awoke with a start as the metal door to his room flew open with a loud crash. There was a loud barking noise, and two huge, snarling Houndoom rushed into the room. One leapt onto his narrow cot as he struggled to get out of the entangling sheets, and pinned him down effortlessly. The other raced straight at Scott's roommate, Ian, who was rising from his own cot and fumbling at his hastily-grabbed belt for a Poké ball. Scott, helpless, bit his lip as Ian got the ball free--

    The Houndoom reached Ian before he could do so much as look up, and, to Scott's horror, the Pokémon tore his roommate's throat out.

    A man walked into the room then, his gaze roaming scornfully around the small dormitory and finally, lazily, settling on Scott where he was pinned down. The only light was from the doorway behind the mysterious attacker, rendering him a threatening silhouette. Scott trembled as the man slowly walked up to him, an ominous grin plastered across his shadowy features, white teeth flashing in the dimness.

    "You just got conscripted. Don't get any ideas, or you'll end up like your friend over there." The man's head jerked in the direction of the room's other bed.

    Scott's roommate's body was only an indistinguishable form in the shadows at the foot of his own bed, but a pool of blood was slowly growing wider, shockingly purplish-red where it was spreading into the rectangle of floor lit by the light from the corridor. Seeing it, Scott broke down into tears of terror and helplessness, which seemed to amuse Ian's killer.

    "Yeah, I didn't think so. You'll report for duty tomorrow and your superiors'll tell you what's what. Now, have a nice sleep," the man said with a cruel laugh, "You're gonna' want to be good and rested for tomorrow..."

    The Houndoom snorted in Scott's face, the breath hot enough that it gave him an instant sunburn. Scott flinched, then flinched again as the huge dog Pokémon turned and leapt off of him. The mysterious attacker walked out of the room without a backward glance, and his two Houndoom followed silently. Scott stared, frozen, at the open door for a long time-- he didn't know how long-- then he turned onto his side, facing away from the corpse of Ian, who he'd just met the day before. The young man curled into a ball, weeping quietly, because there seemed to be nothing else he could do.

    ~~~

    Scott didn't sleep at all. The next day, when the room's lights flickered on, signaling the advent of daylight above, he stumbled into the hallway, only to be accosted by a group of men, all wearing black clothing that was unremarkable except for the small silver-and-red dragon emblem over their hearts. One of them went into Scott's dorm and dragged Ian out and down the hall to the elevator, leaving a red trail that nearly made Scott burst into tears again. When he asked where they were taking Ian, they told him the bodies were going to be burned.

    In a daze, as if this were no more than a dream, Scott rode the elevator down to the laboratory floor along with Ian's corpse and six black-clad men who, for all he knew, could kill him at any moment if they wished.

    He got out along with two of the men, flattening himself against a wall to make way for three more, each of whom was dragging a white-coated corpse toward the elevator. Staring numbly at the red smears two of the dead scientists left as they were dragged, his legs gave out and he slid to the floor. The two men who had accompanied him grabbed him roughly by the shoulders and hustled him down another featureless white hallway. He had arrived here at Silph Co. two days before, and today was to have been his first day of actual work. Now, he was afraid that it would be the day he died.

    When he arrived at the lab, a place he'd never seen before, he was nevertheless was surprised by how... normal it seemed. Several scientists, most wearing pyjamas under their lab coats, moved about the room, lighting Bunsen burners and measuring chemicals and solvents. The two men let go of Scott in the doorway, then turned and left. He staggered against the doorframe, then reached for one of the labcoats hanging on a rack next to the door. Donning it, he took a moment to steady himself, then walked into the room, thinking that he should be afraid for his life, but feeling nothing but an odd numbness that he detachedly diagnosed as shock.



    ~~~June 10, Year 1505 MTA; 00:53~~~


    Scott came out of his reverie as the elevator doors opened to that same hallway on Floor B12. That day, when there had been trails of drying blood along the corridor he was now walking through, had been the worst day of his life. But it had also been the day he first met Dr. David Brighter.

    Scott had wandered through the lab, completely disoriented. His entire world had been turned on its head, and he was starting to wonder if there was a shred of normalcy left anywhere. Then, out of nowhere, a steadying hand had placed itself on his shoulder, and he had looked up from the turmoil of his thoughts into a pair of calm, dark blue eyes and an understanding smile that suddenly made everything feel simple again.

    The week that had followed had been so close to normal, Scott sometimes wondered if the awful night of the takeover had been a dream. No one talked about it, and the black-clad men had not been seen in the hallways since. The cafeteria on floor B16 had continued to function as normal, with supplies being regularly delivered as they were supposed to, and Scott had been set to work recording the results of tests whose final conclusion he couldn't even begin to guess-- in other words, college all over again. Only the empty bed in his dorm room, and the occasional meaningful comment like the one he had just heard from Dr. Brighter, now served to remind him that all the scientists' orders, and presumably their funding, now came from someone other than the Silph Co. administration.

    What shocked him most, though, was that the identity of this new organization was still a mystery. He had heard stories of Team Rocket's takeover of Silph Co. in the year MTA 1500, but Team Rocket had been high-profile and powerful. Was an organization small enough to stay off the radar really able to capture and hold Silph Co. like Rocket had? Or, conversely, had an organization as big as Rocket once was somehow managed to remain hidden?

    Either way, Scott realized, he and the several hundred other scientists living in the underground Silph Co. complex were completely at the mercy of this criminal organization. Unless someone came to rescue them, as had occurred with the Rocket incident five years ago, they were unlikely to break free of their hidden captors.

    Emerging from his dark thoughts, Scott reached forward and opened the door for Dr. Brighter. The older man stepped through and surveyed the room that had been his domain. Scott couldn't see his face, but he could imagine. The place was a wreck, and was populated by only a few defeated-looking scientists who were using brooms to sweep halfheartedly at the glass shards that covered the linoleum floor like a carpet.

    There were a few moments of silence, and then Dr. Brighter cleared his throat. The scientists looked up, some animation returning to their faces and limbs as they saw their leader standing in the doorway. He was a man they all respected immensely, and Scott could see why as he began to direct his men and women this way and that. Scott joined a group who were clearing the floors of broken glass with renewed vigour, while others swept the counters of debris and searched the drawers for useable tools. Within an hour or so, the lab was spotless, the desks completely clean of any surviving paraphernalia: whoever had vandalized the equipment had done a viciously thorough job.

    Dr. Brighter, looking tired and sad but somehow still calm despite the shambles that had been made of his domain, nodded to Scott as the bespectacled young man reported this.

    "And we've confirmed that nothing is left of our test results." Scott, with an upwelling of frustration, slammed a fist sideways into the wall, achieving nothing but a pain in the side of his hand. "Damnit! Weeks of my work, and probably months of yours, gone with the press of a button!"

    Dr. Brighter shook his head. "It's not as bad as you think, Scott. Computers are notoriously fickle creatures, so I had paper copies made of everything our lab did. Unfortunately, I don't believe the other three laboratories on this floor did the same... It really is quite tragic."

    "The other three labs? You mean they got attacked, too??" Scott asked incredulously. "How could someone have done all this, and been so thorough, yet not been caught in the act? I was one of the first ones down here when I heard the noise, and when I got here there was no trace of whoever trashed the place!"

    "Yes, it's most mysterious..." Dr. Brighter murmured. "Almost as mysterious as the men who seem to have taken over our operation."

    Scott blinked. "You think they did this?"

    "No, Scott. Think for a moment."

    Then Scott realized what Dr. Brighter was getting at. "You think someone did this to hinder whatever organization took us over?"

    The older man leaned against the lab's wall and nodded, looking pleased with Scott's deduction. "Yes, that is exactly what I think. However, I cannot ignore this. To do so would endanger us all. I will replace the lost information from my own hard copies, and endeavour to find who is responsible for this. Any less would result in unpleasant consequences from our captors."

    And there it was. Scott's own thoughts had been along the same lines, but it made a difference to hear it spoken by the man whose judgment he trusted beyond anything else, though he had only known him for slightly more than a week.

    "What are they going to do to us?"

    "What can they do?" responded Dr. Brighter. "The work of a vandal is not our fault, is it? And we will cooperate with them one hundred percent, giving them no reason or excuse to lay blame at our feet. I will make sure that everyone knows we will give our captors complete support in finding the culprit. Now, you had best go and get some sleep. It's almost one-thirty in the morning."

    Scott felt a bit better. If Dr. Brighter said it would be all right, then it would be. As the older man raised his voice to ask all of the labouring scientists to leave their work and go to bed, Scott realized he didn't think they would ever have gotten through the evil organization's hostile takeover alive without him.


    ---June 10, Year 1505 MTA; 10:20---


    "You have no idea?"

    The man's voice was a smooth, sly drawl, with a hint of violence hidden underneath, like a pin sticking out of a silk cushion. He had a face to match, a weaselly thin profile with a sharply pointed chin and a prominent forehead that was framed by a receding hairline of close-cropped, bristly black fuzz. He wore a black leather jacket over a black shirt that bore a large version of the red-and-silver dragon emblem of his organization, and a pair of black pants over heavy boots. His name was Vern; no one but he himself seemed to know his last name.

    "There seems to be no way of telling who among us is responsible," responded David Brighter. He had had numerous meetings with this man, and each time had received specific orders as to what to research. Someone among the higher-ups in this organization knew a good deal about science, and knew what they wanted. However, he had not had contact with any other members of the organization except for the grunts who had dragged him out of bed and conducted him to his first, and most unpleasant, meeting with Vern.

    "I see... so it could be anyone? Including you, Doctor Brighter?" Vern asked, placing a mocking emphasis on the scientist's title.

    "Anyone at all," responded David Brighter calmly, meeting Vern's eyes. After a few seconds, Vern looked away, giving an uncomfortable cough.

    "Whatever," Vern said dismissively, waving a hand. "I expect you'll do your best to find whoever is responsible."

    "Of course." Dr. Brighter said, hiding a smile of relief with an inclination of his head. Unfortunately, Vern noticed the expression.

    Instead of getting angry, though, Vern responded with an unpleasant smile of his own. "I have a proposal for you, Mr. Brighter," he drawled. "For each day that the culprit is not apprehended, I will order that one researcher from each lab be executed at random. Anyone at all, subject to no considerations for practicality or logic. Am I understood?"

    Dr. Brighter met Vern's eyes again, and this time it was the doctor who looked away. "Yes, sir," he said in a subdued voice.

    Vern, with a triumphant grin, turned away, standing with his back insolently to Dr. Brighter. "You're dismissed. Have a nice day, Mr. Brighter."

    He missed seeing the scientist's hands ball into fists, then relax in a gesture of helplessness. Dr. Brighter turned and walked out of the room, defeat clearly etched into his face and sagging shoulders.


    ---June 10, Year 1505 MTA; 16:45---


    Scott was setting up one of the new Bunsen burners, which had just recently arrived courtesy of their captors' funding, when he was distracted by a scuffle in the doorway.

    Two black-clad men, the first Scott had seen since that first traumatic night, had grasped a passing scientist by his arms, immobilizing him. His shouts for them to release him went unheeded. They threw him against a still-empty lab table, and one held his arms behind his back as the other patted him down. A moment later, the searcher withdrew a dagger from one of the man's long sleeves.

    Then the man who had found the dagger suddenly flipped it around in his hand and stabbed the struggling scientist in the back. The researcher went rigid, then slumped onto the table, no longer fighting to escape.

    A cry of outrage arose from several corners of the room, but the one of the black-wearing goons held up a hand for silence. A grudging silence fell: all of the scientists had been relieved of their Pokémon, if they had them, when the mysterious organization had taken over, so they were completely at the mercy of the thugs.

    "This man is not one of you," said the man who was still holding the bloody dagger. "I invite you to look at his face, and see if you recognize him. You will not; he entered this facility with the mission of killing as many of you as possible."

    The killer paused to let this sink in, and to allow several scientists to verify that they did not, in fact, recognize the dead man. Then he continued, "While you may not like us, the fact remains that you are working for us, and so it is our responsibility to protect you from harm. Keep that in mind when you next complain about our supposed cruelty."

    Scott swiftly re-evaluated his estimation of this organization. Evidently they knew a thing or two about catching infiltrators... as well as about inspiring loyalty, even where it wasn't due. Scott wasn't won over, though, and clearly neither were most of the white-coated inhabitants of the lab.

    "If you don't mean us harm, then why not let us visit our families?" shouted one man from somewhere near the far wall.

    As if unwilling to dignify the question with an answer, the two black-shirted men simply turned and left the room. Scott concurred; it was obvious why this organization could not allow them any modicum of freedom, and even more obvious that there was nothing they could do about it, no protest they could make to convince these people that it wasn't worth holding them captive.

    Unless, said a devious, gleeful voice at the back of Scott's mind, it's by making us too expensive to keep running. A little vandalism goes a long way when half of our most expensive instruments are made of glass...


    ---June 11, Year 1505 MTA; 00:01---


    The silence of the underground complex was broken by a roar of shattering glass. The clatter of feet in stairwells moments later heralded the arrival of a mob of scientists wondering what could have caused the hubbub this time.

    Several black-clad men arrived first, rushing from the places they had been stationed in all over floor B12. Each individual laboratory had had three guards stationed outside a locked steel door, and an additional one within the lab itself. And outside each lab the black-wearing guards now found the exact same picture: three dead men, a door exploded off of its hinges, and no sign whatsoever of the fourth who had been inside the room. One thug ventured too close to the lab door, and collapsed, dead already from the toxic fumes.

    And what did the crafty-looking, black-clad investigators who later inspected the crime scene find?

    Each door had exploded outwards, and all of the outdoors guards had been felled by blunt force trauma to the back of the head. They had each had orders to face away from the doors at all times, and to be ready for anything.

    So how had the perpetrator gotten into the laboratories in the first place?


    ---June 11, Year 1505 MTA; 01:23---


    "The culprits have not yet been caught. As a result, there will be one execution per lab each day until someone turns them in. Clearly this is the work of more than one person, and a full pardon will be given to whoever comes forward with information on his or her accomplices."

    There was an uncomfortable silence as Vern finished speaking. A few of the scientists shifted from foot to foot, and a quiet muttering of disquiet swept through the clumps of men and women spread throughout the newly cleansed and swept room. Scott, standing alone, stayed quiet. He hadn't had time to make any friends with whom to group together, and he couldn't think of anything more foolish at that moment than calling attention to himself.

    Vern made a disapproving tsk noise in the back of his throat as it became apparent that no one was coming forward. Without warning, he suddenly lifted a strange metal device from a holster in his belt. Roughly L-shaped and painted black, it had a hole in one end, which he pointed behind him at an awkward and apparently random angle. He used his forefinger to press a small lever or trigger of some sort on the device.

    There was a bang like a Voltorb exploding, and a woman across the room suddenly collapsed to the floor, blood running from a small but fatal hole in her forehead, staining her white lab coat and beginning to spread in a pool around her. There were pinkish-gray spatters of brain matter on the wall behind where she had stood.

    Vern smiled, a creepy expression in the face of the scientists' shock. "This, ladies and gentlemen, is a tool known as a fire arm. Its inner workings are a secret, of course, but it can throw a small ball of lead fast enough to kill you." His slightly deranged grin spread further across his face, a mad look entering his eyes. "It will kill again tomorrow, unless one of you comes forward between now and then. Until then, I wish you luck... and a bit of common sense."

    The madman turned and strutted out of the room, leaving the laboratory cloaked in a fearful silence. Then a harsh murmur arose from the group gathered around the latest casualty's corpse.

    "Who is it?" asked one man, eyes darting around the room as if anyone here could be the perpetrator... which, Scott supposed, was entirely possible.

    "Why are you doing this? Do you want to get us all killed??" yelled a woman, pointing down at the dead body. "This is all you've achieved, other than the senseless waste of important resources!"

    "Give yourself up!"

    "Throw in the towel!"

    "You fucking coward!"

    The shouts built into a throbbing din of rage and fear. Scott could feel the terror in the air, bordering on hysteria. And why not? After all, they were probably all doomed. They were at the mercy of madmen who would murder them just to prove a point! The world was going crazy!

    Then, without warning, there was a hush. Scott blinked, and shook his head to clear it of the confused fog that seemed to have entered his brain and clouded his thoughts. He saw Dr. Brighter standing on one of the empty lab tables, hands upraised for silence.

    Scott watched with amazement as the entire room quieted. Such was their mutual respect for Dr. Brighter that even their fear for their lives could take a background seat for this one moment.

    "Go back to your rooms. Hysteria will do us no good. I will consider the situation, and do what I can to reason with Vern." He looked around at all of them. "I wish I could tell you that no more will die, but these are madmen we're dealing with. We must comply with their demands. If any of you know anything about this matter, I implore you to come to me and we will decide what is best for all of us."

    Scott, filing out of the room with all the rest, felt let down. Was this it? The big solution? Give in and let them get away with it? Still, why should he be surprised? Dr. Brighter was only human, no matter how much Scott might wish otherwise. There was little any one man could do against killers and madmen. Looking at the hunched shoulders of every other person there, he realized that many of them felt the same. And yet, Scott still held some small hope that Dr. Brighter had a solution, one that he was keeping secret even from the rest of them for some reason.

    He returned to his dormitory and, more exhausted than he had thought, fell asleep almost immediately.


    ---June 11, Year 1505 MTA; 08:30---


    The dormitory light flickered on, signifying that daylight had come in the world above. Scott sleepily checked his watch. 8:30 am. He dragged himself out of bed, shrugged on his lab coat, which he hadn't slept in for a change, and stumbled out into the hallway.

    He was among the last to file reluctantly into the lab, and he saw that Vern was already waiting for them, a crooked grin plastered across his weaselly face. He leaned against one of the lab tables and toyed with the frightening 'fire arm' device, twirling it around one finger. As the door shut behind Scott, the black-clad man straightened and began whistling a tune. He looked around the room, obviously enjoying the tension, and then suddenly whirled to point the device at a group of the most scared-looking scientists. Several of them screamed, and one man dived behind the nearest counter. Vern laughed cruelly, and swept his eyes over the gathered scientists.

    "Ha! Not enough steel in any one of you to be responsible for this. But I have my orders... So who dies today, eh?"

    "No one."

    Every eye in the room was suddenly fixed on Dr. Brighter. He stood at the other side of an aisle between the two longest lab benches, and when Vern turned to face him, there was suddenly an atmosphere of confrontation pervading the room.

    "I see. And why is that, I wonder, Doctor Brighter...?" Vern said, again putting mocking emphasis on Dr. Brighter's title.

    "Because I know who the perpetrator is." Dr. Brighter appeared unperturbed by the nasty tone, though many of the surrounding scientists shifted and muttered with quiet indignation on his behalf.

    "And I'm to believe a single person did this?" Vern raised an eyebrow, a hint of a sneer twisting the corner of his mouth.

    "Yes. I am the one you are looking for."

    A gasp ran through the room.

    Vern clapped once. Slowly and awfully, he separated his hands and brought them together again, a nasty smile spreading across his face. "Very admirable." Clap. "Sacrificing yourself..." Clap. "...for those under your care." Clap. "What a clever ruse."

    "This is no ruse." Dr. Brighter said calmly.

    "Well, even if you're an idiot, clearly you have a death wish. I wouldn't be so cruel as to deny you," said Vern, smiling predatorially. He raised the fire arm device with one hand, to point directly at Dr. Brighter. "Just be aware that your stupid self-sacrifice won't stop me from killing people 'till I find whoever really did this. Any last words, Doctor?"

    "Yes. Porygon, exit 80% maximum velocity, lab three, port six."

    "Wha--?"

    There was a blinding flash of light, and a large red-and-blue object of some sort erupted from a small computer network jack in the wall, reduced to a blur by its speed. It flew across the room and slammed straight into the side of the hand that Vern was holding the fire arm device with. The appendage was cleanly torn off at the wrist, and Vern stared in shock as the speeding object came to rest on one of the lab desks. It was a Pokémon, shaped vaguely like a strange dog or other quadripedal animal, but composed of angular, oddly planed geometric shapes in hot pink and smooth turqouise.

    Vern fell to his knees, his stare now directed at the stump on the end of his arm that was pumping blood onto the white linoleum floor of the lab. He curled into a foetal position, shuddering mutely with pain, unable to do so much as scream. No one moved to help him. Any compassion they might once have felt for the man known as Vern had long since flown.

    "It is best that you all wait here," said Dr. Brighter quietly into the silence. "You will likely never see me again. I wish you luck. Porygon, engage re-entry procedure, lab three, port six."

    With that, the man who Scott had only known for a week, but who had become like a second father to him, turned and left the lab. The pink-and-blue Pokémon dissipated into a storm of odd-looking glowing particles, which suddenly zoomed back into the network port on the wall with incredible speed.


    ---June 11, Year 1505 MTA; 09:10---


    David Brighter held a hand to his right temple as he waited for the elevator to make its way down to the lowest level, the restricted-access Floor B21. Even the sinister organization which had taken over Silph Co. did not allow its thugs down here, restricting access to its higher-ups. There were a great deal of valuable materials and advanced machinery on this floor.

    David held no illusions about what would occur were he caught now. Porygon may have been a marvel of modern technology and programming, and his own creation, but it was no match for the highly trained, powerful Pokémon belonging to the organization's administrators. If the doors opened, and even a single one of them were waiting for him, he was almost certainly going to lose his life.

    The doors opened. David breathed a sigh of relief as he saw the dimly lit corridor stretch into the distance, completely empty. There were some materials and devices here that were very sensitive to light, and as such the hallway and most of the rooms were kept to a minimum possible level of light. It lent the otherwise comforting white walls a sinister atmosphere.

    Passing by a number of doors on each side of the hallway, David made straight for the farthest door, which was barely visible in the distance at the end of the corridor. He was constantly aware of the possibility that at any moment an enemy could come bursting out of a doorway ahead of or behind him, though the admins' dorms were on the floor above and they were unlikely to be down here with a full-on crisis unfolding upstairs. He had just given Porygon additional instructions using the slim, advanced Pokégear hidden underneath his lab coat's long sleeves. It would be wreaking havoc on any objects left in unoccupied rooms or labs on floors B19 through B08.

    Nonetheless, he felt another rush of relief as he reached the door and slipped through it without being apprehended by any black-clad criminals. As it clicked shut behind him, he took in the place he had designed to be his own private sanctum. Few knew of his status as chief researcher of Silph Co. He had been required to withhold his true station from his family, and take on a job as a laboratory director as a cover. Thinking back, he was immensely grateful for the security measures, as they had likely saved his life. The organization had no idea that he was a part of Silph Co.'s administration, so he had escaped the killings that had formed part of their coup. Nor were they aware that he possessed a hidden microchip, implanted in his arm, which permitted him elevator access to restricted areas such as Floor B21... which was yet another reason it would be disastrous to be caught here.

    The expansive room in which he now stood was more than twenty feet across, and was lit only slightly less dimly than the corridor outside. In fact, all of the lighting came from a group of screens that covered the far three walls; the room was shaped like a hexagon with a domed roof. The walls that were not dominated by the screens were painted a deep blue that soaked up the light and made the room feel even darker than it already was; an open doorway in the wall to David's left was the only exit other than the one he had come through. Ahead and to his right, near the three large banks of computers that associated with each screen, a five-foot-tall, bulky machine whirred softly. David was only lucky that the invaders had not known what it was for, or they would have destroyed it summarily.

    After all, they made a point of intentionally cutting off the scientists trapped underneath the Silph Co. building from the outside world. This device was capable of transmitting Porygon's synthetic psyche, though not the Pokémon itself, to any device configured to receive it. So far, that included only a few unique machines, but they were ones that mattered. The Pokégear on David's arm was one of them... and another was a similar Pokégear on the arm of his son Sarren.

    Ah, Sarren... I miss you, David thought with a smile, moving forward to absently check the large machine for damage or mistakes in the configuration of its dials and switches. He wondered where his son was now. He had had no opportunity to receive a report from Porygon on his son's whereabouts since the sinister organization's takeover, but he was confident that the boy could stay out of trouble... as well as take care of himself in less avoidable situations. He was a lot like his father that way.

    An odd noise made David turn around, frowning slightly as he tried to make out what it was. It sounded vaguely like a Pokémon's cry, but that was absurd-- No Pokémon were kept down here. It was coming from the doorless gap to the right of the exit door: the dungeons.

    David had a low opinion of the dungeons. During his tenure as chief researcher, they had never been used, and he had intended to keep it that way, although they had originally been designed for keeping dangerous test subjects confined and concealed from the world. David's first action upon being appointed chief researcher nine years ago had been to abolish all experiments involving live test subjects, human or Pokémon.

    Now, though, it seemed that this sinister organization had put the dungeons to use again. David walked through the doorway, moving quietly; even if the prisoner itself were not dangerous, it was likely that a guard had been placed.

    As he walked down a flight of gray stone stairs, the blue-painted walls were replaced by stereotypical but supremely foreboding blocks of grayish-black stone, lending an almost medieval atmosphere to the place. David sternly suppressed a shiver-- appearing confident was a skill that he had spent years mastering, and one that had served him well.

    Down here, closer to the source of the faint sound, it could be heard more clearly. Though he showed no outward reaction, David could feel his blood run cold and then suddenly flare hot with rage. The noise was unmistakably the muffled shouting of a child, a young girl by the sound of it.

    Those monsters, David thought, his fists clenching in the one tell-tale sign of anger he had never learned to hide. He murmured a command into the Pokégear hidden under his right sleeve, and with a dimly visible flicker of light, Porygon appeared in the room above. It floated gently down the stairs and down the forbidding stone hallway to David, levitating using its Magnet Rise ability.

    Feeling a bit better, David walked around the corner, stopping as he spotted the sentry. The black-clad man was sleeping soundly in a rickety chair, oblivious to the thumping and yells from behind a thick wooden door. A half-empty bottle of whiskey sat on a table next to the obviously inebriated man.

    "Porygon, execute Discharge attack," David commanded in a low voice that betrayed none of his rage. A crackling bolt of electricity appeared linking Porygon and the unconscious man, whose eyes, reflexively, opened for the last time... but saw nothing.

    Rolling the body over and out of the way of the door with one foot, David reached down and snagged a ring of old-fashioned metal keys from the man's belt. What a gross failure in security, he thought disgustedly. These are practically relics, and keeping them right next to the doors they open is just asking for trouble. Speaking of which...

    "Porygon, return to harassing the invaders. Begin operation code-name Armageddon."

    Turning back to the task at hand, Dr. Brighter noticed that there was a wooden chest underneath the small rectangular table. Opening it with the smallest key on the ring, he found an empty black backpack and a belt full of Poké balls, no doubt belonging to the prisoner. Sloppy, very sloppy. He put the belt into the backpack and laid it aside for now.

    Straightening, David continued to sort through the keys, isolating the ones most likely to open the various cell doors, his data-based Pokémon dissipated into a cloud of pixel-like particles that rapidly disappeared, making their way invisibly back into the building's power and data networks.

    Inserting one key after another into the lock on the door, and muttering angrily to himself as each one failed to match, David Brighter noted that the sounds from beyond the thick slab of wood had ceased. Perhaps the prisoner had lost consciousness... or worse. Who knew what these black-wearing animals were capable of doing to someone they saw as a threat?

    Finally, one of the keys fit the lock. Turning it, he pushed the door inwards and was appalled to see the bleeding and bruised body of a girl, maybe fourteen or fifteen years of age, dressed with nothing but undergarments and a too-large lab coat. She was shackled by her wrists to the wall, the chains short enough to keep her from slumping all the way to the ground, even unconscious. Hesitantly drawing closer, David put two fingers to her throat and sighed with relief as he detected a faint but steady pulse.

    Suddenly, the girl's eyes flashed open and she whirled into motion, delivering a spinning kick, seemingly out of nowhere, that smashed into David's left shoulder with surprising force and slammed him against the stone wall of the cell. The girl struggled against the chains binding her, but she couldn't extend her feet far enough to get in a second strike.

    David pushed himself upright, leaning on the wall for support. He didn't think any bones were broken, but his shoulder was almost certainly badly bruised. Who is this girl...? he wondered, surprised and confused.

    "Do your worst!" the girl shouted at him, still yanking at her chains. "I'm going to kill all you assholes unless you kill me first! What are you waiting for??"

    David Brighter met her eyes, and took a step back despite himself. The girl's eyes were a pale grayish-blue, and almost seemed to shine with a light of their own. Something in those eyes, a kind of feverish intensity, made him believe her: this kid was capable of killing. Just what had these sons of bitches done to her?

    "You misunderstand," he explained after a moment of shocked silence. "I'm not with those... others," he continued, swallowing a more vehement term. "I'm here to free you."

    The girl froze, staring David in the eyes. Those unnerving gray eyes bored into him, but rather than disbelief or hatred, they held only a sort of blank confusion, as she struggled to assimilate the idea of rescue after so long without any hope. So he kept his gaze steadily on Tella's eyes until a sudden overflowing of tears signaled her return to a reality in which she had some chance of survival. She buried her face in her knees and wept.

    "There, there..." David Brighter murmured, anger at the girl's captors giving way to pity and concern. Revenge was suddenly secondary, something he would take care of along the way; his most important mission was now to make sure the girl got out of this all right. "I'll get you free, and I'll make sure you get out of here."

    The problem, he reflected as he started trying to find the correct key to unlock the shackles on the girl's wrists, is that I have no idea how I am going to get myself out of this alive, much less the girl...


    ---June 11, Year 1505 MTA; 10:30---


    Scott sat on his bed in his dorm room, watching the black-clad men and their Pokémon rushing back and forth, the sinister Trainers busily shouting commands and curses. All of the scientists had been ordered back to their dorms, with explicit warnings that anyone caught in the hallways would be shot on sight.

    He checked his watch. 10:31. The chaos had been going on for nearly an hour and a half. It had all started when crashing noises from several different unoccupied laboratories signaled the resumption of the last couple of nights' destructive rampage. However, try as they might, the thugs could never seem to reach the site of the incidents quickly enough to catch the elusive perpetrators. The only ones who knew what was really going on were the men and women smiling to each other in Laboratory Three on Floor B12. And none of them was saying anything.

    Now, listening to the shouts of the men and Pokémon running by his room, Scott gathered that instead of just breaking stuff in unoccupied labs, the rampant Pokémon that Dr. Brighter had dubbed 'Porygon' was now picking off black-wearing stragglers, who were found twitching on the ground or impaled on furniture.

    As far as Scott could tell, not one of the black-clad invaders had yet managed to catch a glimpse of Porygon. It attacked from hiding, and retreated into the computer network. Truly a work of genius, Scott marveled; Porygon would long since have been defeated in a head-to-head battle with any of the organization's grunts, but here in its home territory, with access to any room and the ability to travel at the speed of an electrical impulse, it was unstoppable.

    "Stop him!"

    Scott gave a start as the shout from the corridor jolted him from his thoughts, then winced as the noise was followed by a crackle of lightning and a horrible scream. Then, to his astonishment, Dr. Brighter dashed around the corner and into his room, followed immediately by a young girl, who was wearing a belt full of Poké balls and a black uniform that was far too large for her; so much so that she had the sleeves and pant legs rolled up to avoid impeding her movement.

    "Scott," Dr. Brighter said, panting only slightly, "I apologize for getting you into this, but we need to borrow some of your clothing. You have narrow shoulders-- I'm sure something of yours will fit Tella here."

    Scott had over nine thousand questions he wanted to ask, but he could tell from Dr. Brighter's apparent hurry that now was not the time. Dr. Brighter never hurried. "Yes, sir," he said instead, opening a cupboard and lifting out several coat hangers bearing sweaters, jeans and t-shirts. To Scott's embarrassment, the girl who Dr. Brighter had referred to as Tella stripped down to undergarments right where she was standing. Blushing, he turned to face the wall while she pulled on a pair of his jeans and a dark blue t-shirt in a no-nonsense way that seemed incongruous for a girl of her age.

    "Thank you, Scott. And good luck," Dr. Brighter said, and before Scott could even turn around again, they were both gone.


    ---June 11, Year 1505 MTA; 10:40---


    Beryl scowled darkly, and the men sharing the elevator with her edged away nervously, trying to make their movement unnoticeable. As if it wasn't obvious. Idiots. I am surrounded by idiots!

    Beryl was a tall lady, and while no one would have called her beautiful, she did have a striking sort of handsomeness. She wore her black shirt with its red-and-silver dragon sigil like a regal vestment, and behind her fluttered the cape that marked her as an administrator of the organization whose name she was forbidden to so much as think, lest a passing psychic glean it from her mind.

    She had been promoted to her position as head admin of the Silph Co. operation following Vern's death, but so far her new job was off to a rocky start. And what was worse, there was apparently a demonstration of some sort going on in the streets of Saffron City; the people of the City were displeased that Silph Co. was refusing to explain its sudden reduction in produced goods.

    Of course, few except a beleaguered minority in the Kanto Trainers' Association were even aware of the large-scale takeover that was even now unfolding. Beryl couldn't resist a small smile. The setback here was a mere trifle next to the great victory that her organization had already won. Most of Kanto's largest cities, and almost the entire executive structure of the Kanto Trainers' Association, was under their well-hidden control. The judicial system, too, was seeded with their operatives-- many an otherwise impartial judge was on the payroll of their group.

    She just wished that her job, at least, could go so smoothly. She expected that it would all quiet down when that pesky Dr. Brighter was captured. She had already, through the proper channels, ensured that she would have a nasty little surprise for the bastard when she finally caught up with him. Oh, she did so love making others suffer.

    The elevator arrived with a quiet ding! that set Beryl's teeth on edge. Why did they have to make machines with such irritating sounds? Everything about this place irritated her. The damned noisy elevators, the damned rebellious scientists, the damned idiots who couldn't catch a goddamned group of goddamned vandals...!

    Oh, and the damned crowd outside the building, with their insipid little chant of, We Want Potions! We Want Potions! Pah. Beryl was going to enjoy sowing a little terror in those fools. A bit of strong-arm crowd control had been authorized by the higher-ups; the civilians needed to learn that big changes were on the way, and rowdiness would not be brooked. Smiling cruelly, she opened her mouth to give the command to the nervous-looking men surrounding her...

    And stopped as a ding! from behind her signaled the arrival of the elevator once more. She scowled. No one but the admins had the authority to allow anyone topside. And she was quite certain that her fellow admins were still dealing with the situation downstairs. So, if it wasn't them... Someone was about to get their ass kicked. The thought put a smile back on her face, and she turned to greet the hapless idiot who thought an escape was in order.

    Whoever she had expected, though, it wasn't these two. The girl from the dungeons, the one who refused to cry or tell what she knew, no matter what Beryl did to her... And Dr. David Brighter himself. Calm, compliant David Brighter, who until today had never shown any sign of rebelliousness or even displeasure with his situation. Even hearing the rumours flying around, she had never quite believed that this ordinary-looking man could be responsible for the chaos going on down below.

    Now, looking into his dark blue eyes and seeing small spatters of her subordinates' blood across the front of his lab coat, she found that not only could she believe it... she was afraid.

    Pah! She discarded the silly emotion. Since when was she, Beryl, afraid of a scientist and a twerp? She fingered a Poké ball at her waist, readying herself for the enjoyment of wiping the floor with the both of them...

    Then she saw the L-shaped black object Brighter had just taken out of a familiar-looking holster at the back of his belt.

    "Remember this?" he growled, pointing Vern's fire arm at Beryl.

    She gulped. She had seen what Vern could do with that thing; at this range, there was no way Brighter could miss. The four grunts surrounding Beryl stared at her, waiting for orders. She shook her head imperceptibly.

    "Now, let us go, and no one here needs to die." Brighter said in a cold, even voice.

    Beryl nodded, and raised her hands away from her belt full of Poké balls. If only I could reach them before he fired! she thought with frustration. But of course, that was the beauty of the weapon. Kill the Trainer, and one need not bother with the Pokémon...

    Then something occurred to Beryl. A nasty grin spread across her face. It was a gamble, but she thought she was on the winning side of this. She relaxed, letting her hands drop to her sides.

    "Get your hands back in the air!" shouted Brighter, making a threatening gesture with the fire arm.

    "I don't think I will," Beryl retorted, her smile broadening. "You know, I don't think you quite understand how that object works. What if I were to go for my Pokémon... right now?" She reached down and grasped the Poké ball she had originally been heading for when Brighter had pulled out the fire arm.

    Brighter squeezed the trigger.

    But instead of a BANG! and a hole in Beryl's body, all that resulted was a hollow 'click.' Brighter paled, and Beryl burst into laughter, pressing the button on her Poké ball. From it emerged a beam of red light that coalesced into a massive, hulking dinosaur with metal armor and a body of stone.

    "Oh, how cute! He didn't realize he had to reload the damn thing! Some scientist you are, smarty-pants!" she taunted. The goons started laughing, too, but Beryl didn't mind-- the expression on Brighter's face was positively hilarious, and even idiots like these deserved to laugh once in a while.

    But there was more! She couldn't resist this opportunity. "Oh, and I have some news from home, Brighter," Beryl said, her smile becoming its most vindictive yet. "It appears that, earlier today, there was an unfortunate accident. Perhaps your wife, Kendra, left the stove on... Or perhaps it was little Sarren, back for a visit, being careless with his fire-type Pokémon. For whatever reason, it seems both of them were at home and died in the conflagration. What a tragedy!" she simpered, holding the back of her hand theatrically to her forehead.

    If David Brighter's face had been pale before, it was white as paper now. "You... You didn't..."

    "I'm afraid we did," she said with a sardonic smile, fighting the urge to burst into uproarious laughter. "If only you'd thought of your poor family before giving us trouble."

    A fire seemed to light up in Brighter's eyes then, and she could almost feel the flames licking at her face. But she didn't care! She was enjoying this whole affair so, and his rage simply increased her enjoyment. But, of course, it was time to get down to business. She thought it was quite poetic that he'd die now, after discovering that all he'd done with his rebelliousness was get his family killed.

    "Now, Aggron," she ordered the huge, metal-armored dinosaur as it reared up on its hind legs, "Pound them into oblivion with Take Down!"

    The four grunts, seeing that it was time to be serious, released Pokémon of their own while Aggron rushed forward, intent on killing the two fools before it. Tella ducked aside right away, but it was clear that Brighter had no chance. Beryl laughed as Aggron bore down on the idiot scientist, but the laugh abruptly ended, turning into a frown of confusion as it became obvious that Brighter was completely unperturbed. Would he really face his death with such calm? Damn it, that would take most of the fun out of it!

    Then she noticed that his head was tilted slightly sideways, that he was speaking softly into a device hidden under his lab coat's long sleeve. His eyes still burned with hatred, and for a moment she had another pang of fear, before she banished it ruthlessly. Then Brighter finished speaking, there was a flash of white light, and a red-and-blue blur shot from the elevator control panel at mind-bending speed, slamming into Aggron's chest with crushing force.

    Aggron stumbled back a single step, and Beryl stared as Porygon, bouncing back, wobbled from side to side in midair, apparently dazed from the head-on collision.

    "What is that thing??" asked one of the grunts.

    "Shut up!" snapped Beryl. "Aggron! Crush it with your Iron Head!"

    For a moment, it looked like Aggron was just as dazed as Porygon, but suddenly the dinosaur leaped into motion. Porygon, snapping out of its own shaken state, let loose with a blast of energy that fluctuated randomly, striking Aggron at a point when it had the greatest force. The Psywave attack pushed Aggron back one more step, but the heavyweight Pokémon simply dug its feet into the tile floor and rushed forward again.

    A blur of orange and red feathers slammed into Aggron from the side, with a sound like shattering stone... which was probably exactly the case. A Blaziken stood over the prone form of Beryl's Aggron, raising a muscled foot to deliver a coup de grace. Without warning, though, four Pokémon piled on the Blaziken at once: Bibarel, Staravia, Luxray and Muk. The grunts were finally joining the fray. About time, thought Beryl sourly.

    "BLAZE!!" screamed Tella, off to one side where Beryl had forgotten about her, as the Staravia gouged Blaziken's side deeply with its beak.

    Muk moved in towards Blaze, while Bibarel and Luxray headed for Porygon. Tella put a hand to her belt as if to send out another Pokémon.

    "Tella." David Brighter's voice was colder than the breath of a Froslass. "Run. We cannot win this, but I can buy you time."

    Tella stared at him for a split second, then nodded and held up a different Poké ball, recalling her Blaziken.

    Beryl scowled. There was no way she was letting these two escape. She returned Aggron to its Poké ball, and, doing so, noticed that the elevator had opened once more, revealing three of her fellow admins. Excellent.

    "Stop them!" Beryl shouted, and all three of them immediately released their strongest Pokémon.

    Porygon was shining with a pearly barrier of light, as the Protect move was all it could do against the combined attacks of Bibarel and Luxray. This battle was as good as over, Beryl concluded as her colleagues' Pokémon Houndoom, Honchkrow and Magmortar took shape near the elevator.

    But Brighter, she realized with a renewed scowl, is up to something.

    Dr. David Brighter stood next to his Porygon, one hand on its side. "I'm sorry," he murmured to it, so quietly that only the synthetic Pokémon could possibly hear. "I did my best... and it wasn't good enough. Porygon, execute Hyper Beam attack, 1500% power. Use the building's auxiliary power supply. Target... everything."


    Epilogue

    ---June 11, Year 1505 MTA; 11:25---


    Tella stumbled down a side alley, away from the Silph Co. building. She was bleeding from a scalp wound on one side of her face, courtesy of a piece of flying debris from the explosion on the ground floor. She still couldn't believe it... Dr. Brighter had blown himself up, along with every person and Pokémon in that lobby, to ensure that she could escape.

    Why did she deserve to live, when a man like Dr. Brighter died? And his family... they had done nothing to deserve to die in a fire set by this damn organization!! Why, then, was she, Tella, alive, when they weren't? She, at least, had done something to those assholes before they declared her kill on sight! So, why? Why...? It made her so angry!!

    "Hey, there, my pretty."

    Tella looked up from her thoughts to find herself staring into the ugly face of a man wearing a leather jacket and a nasty leer. He was clearly drunk.

    "Now, wha's a li'l girl like you doin' in a place like thizz?" he said, slurring his words a little. "Didn't your mummy ever tell you not to hang out in alleyways? Stuff could happ'n." He took an unsteady step forward, reaching for Tella's chest with a lewd grin.

    I don't have time for this, thought Tella savagely, her simmering anger at everything erupting suddenly in a blaze of fury. She threw a punch with all her weight behind it, straight into the man's face. He reeled backwards, cursing, his nose broken and several of his upper teeth missing.

    "Dabn! Li'l bish!" the man snarled, his mangled face distorting his words. He looked like he was considering attacking her.

    "Count yourself lucky," Tella told him coldly, through gritted teeth. "If I'd gone all-out, your brains would be all over that wall. I can still arrange for that to happen." She had always resisted the temptation to kill her foes, no matter how much she hated them... but right now it would just feel so good to hit something as hard as she could.

    Wait a minute.

    With a yell of pure emotion, letting out every bit of anger, terror, helplessness, sadness, and frustration that she'd felt in the last couple of weeks, she turned and smashed her fist into the cement wall of the alleyway. The concrete blew away like dust, leaving a large crater and a ten-foot-wide hole in the wall of what Tella now saw was the local Game Corner. Patrons turned, blinking, from their roulette machines to stare at the source of the disruption.

    That was enough proof for Tella's would-be attacker. He turned and fled, screaming about devils dressed as little girls.

    Tella still didn't feel good. She didn't know if she would ever smile again. Dr. Brighter was dead. His family was dead, too. And, more remote but no less sharp than these most recent pangs of guilt and grief, there was Noren's death, memories of her mentor hanging like a searing beacon of pain in the mists of her past. No, Tella wasn't anywhere near a happy feeling at the moment. But... after a nice bit of senseless violence, she felt a whole damn lot better than she had before.

    Besides, there was no time to dwell on it: she had to get out of Saffron City A.S.A.P. Tella didn't look back at the small trail of black smoke climbing into the air behind her. If she had, the sight might have broken her.


    ---June 12, Year 1505 MTA; 8:00---


    The loud, abrasive clangor of the newly installed wake-up bell roused Scott from his restless sleep. Other than the unpleasant sound, which echoed from the intercom system in all the hallways and dormitories, not much had changed. It was hard to believe that almost a day had passed since Dr. Brighter had left. The scientists in their underground labs, cut off from the outside world, had no way of knowing what was going on outside.

    They could make educated guesses, though, judging by the morning before, when a single heavily injured survivor, an admin of the organization, had crawled out of a maintenance hatch near the Floor B11 elevator. The woman, who went by the name of Beryl, had ridden the elevator roof down from the ground floor: the roof had been the only part of the elevator that was left.

    Scott wondered what could have resulted in so much damage up above. All he had to go on was the destroyed elevator, the burns covering the surviving admin's body where her Pokémon had failed to protect her, and the massive vibration they had all felt, even several hundred feet underground. Scott hoped fervently that Dr. Brighter had survived the explosion. He tried to imagine Dr. Brighter on his way west, towards Johto and safety with the girl Tella.

    Over the next several hours after the blast, the words 'structural damage' and 'emergency lockdown' had been all that could be overheard of the remaining admins' hushed discussions. Vern was nowhere to be seen, a situation for which no one was particularly sorry, and the remaining admins seemed to be too busy to make life hell for the scientists.

    However, where the higher-ups of their sinister organization were failing, the grunts seemed to be picking up the slack. The black-clad men and women stood around in the brightly lit white hallways, glaring at the scientists and occasionally bullying one into performing some menial chore like fetching drinking water from the stations at the end of each corridor. The increased security seemed to be a direct result of whatever had gone on the day before.

    Scott stirred himself, having fallen into a half-asleep reverie as he thought back to the day before. The bells were still ringing, summoning the scientists to their days' work researching who-knows-what for this oppressive new government of thugs. Scott sighed. What he wouldn't give to be off with Dr. Brighter and Tella in the Johto mountain ranges to the west...

    That was a silly thought, of course. They were in far more danger there than he was in the lab. But all the same, Scott wished there were something he could do.

    But there is, isn't there? Scott realized, his heart suddenly thudding like a drum with anticipation. Dr. Brighter was waging a one-man war of resistance, right? Maybe it's time someone continued his work. A plan began to form in his head as he levered himself off his cot, shrugged on a t-shirt, jeans and lab coat, and strode down the hallway towards the newly restored elevator. He would need co-conspirators, the most trustworthy and strong-willed researchers he could find...

    Scott didn't have a Pokémon as powerful as Porygon, or access to the lab's entire mainframe, but damned if that was going to stop him.

    --Fin--



    Character Report:
    Required Characters: 40,000 to 55,000
    Used Characters (Story only, not intro/disclaimers/this report): 62,133
    Result: Not much overkill, but as usual the count hovers around the upper character requirement rather than the lower. I haz a proud of this story.


    Author's Notes
    *Porygon doesn't exist in my continuity. At least, it didn't until a certain someone developed it. There is only one in the world, and it has never been heard of previous to this story. This change has been made for both storyline purposes and for coolness factor.
    *Guns, (known in-universe as 'fire arms,') are by no means common, and are generally lower-quality than the average handgun in our world. Their existence is a well-kept secret, and they are only one of a good many inventions the 'secret organization' has developed since the beginning of its covert takeover.
    *There are some pieces here that could be considered highly spoileriffic of my other three plotlines, but hopefully it's interesting enough to be justified. ^_^ And maybe it'll make people want to read the aforementioned plotlines.
    *Regarding the format of the dates: The use of 'Year 1505 M.T.A.' is thanks to Neighborhood-Guest. I originally had it be "5 After Rocket," for lack of anything better, but I asked for better suggestions and he came up with this beautiful little blurb:
    "The 'MTA' stands for 'metá tin álfa', the romanization of the phrase, "after alpha" in Greek. The reason for this is because, according to the article, the first form of writing began with the Unown at the various ruins of the known Pokemon world - including, you guessed it, the Ruins of Alph. This all happened 1500 years before Red/Blue/Green/Yellow; thus, '1505' is the year your story takes place in."
    Thanks, N-G!
    Last edited by Magikchicken; 14th November 2010 at 12:33 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: SWC Entry: Everything to Gain

    I graded this story with Magikchicken's agreement.
    The grade will be released at the end of SWC.
    I grade things for the URPG.

    New experimental grading system. Request a tier after I claim your story:
    Tier I / Basic: A quick verdict and some useful advice without much fuss.
    Tier II / Normal: More in-depth analysis.
    Tier III / Heavy: I WILL TEAR YOUR STORY TO SHREDS AND TAP-DANCE ON THE PIECES

  3. #3
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    Default Re: SWC Entry: Everything to Gain

    INTRO
    What impression did I get when I started reading this?

    The story begins with a timestamp. We get both a sense of how it's going to be formatted and a glimpse at your worldbuilding efforts. Apparently, their date system's a little different.

    You set the scene with a lonely beaker in an empty laboratory. A man comes in and talks to a Porygon, then goes out. There's a minor style error where you begin two consecutive sentences with the same word, ("then") but that's not a big deal. Just remember that grammar/style problems at the beginning of a story can seriously affect the opinions of the reader.

    You end the scene with an ominous line. A traitor in their midst! That's exciting stuff and it's going to make this story interesting. Good intro.

    PLOT
    Is it a good story?

    Oh, man, is it! Duuuuuude!

    You've basically retold the story of Porygon's creation and given it a whole lot of oomph. There are good guys, and there are bad guys, and Porygon goes around with a can of buttwhup, taking names. You've really explored the possibilities of an artificial/virtual Pokemon like Porygon. On top of that, you've framed it in a compelling plot: scientists stuck under insanely evil masters, wondering whether they can go on with their normal lives and if they'll be rescued.

    There is nothing bad I can say about this story, except that Tella seems to be shoehorned into the plot. She is neither viewpoint character nor protagonist, and she's a little too special sometimes. She provides the impetus for Brighter to break out, but it seems forced to me. Is she from another story of yours?

    You've left a lot of open ends. What is this organization? How did it take over so much of the world? It's a good hook for a sequel, but from the author's notes I'm guessing that it itself isn't the first story you've written in this setting.

    DIALOGUE
    Do we understand what they're saying?

    Good dialogue overall. You put some effort into the villains' dialogue. It's got that classic movie-villain flavor.

    CHARACTERIZATION
    Are your characters original, well-defined, and compelling?

    Scott is your initial viewpoint character. He's an everyman who you eventually drop to focus on Brighter. I understand that you had to hide Brighter's motivations and thoughts to rack up the suspense, but the way you just drop Scott is still a missed opportunity. He could've been fleshed out.

    Brighter is the true protagonist. He's got the power and goes out in a big boom at the end. He's heroic without being over the top.

    Vern is one of those love-to-hate characters. His over-the-top murderousness and total control over the scientists' lives is probably what clinches it. The parallels to the Team Rocket occupation in the Kanto games is quite clever, too. If Vern had been the one you had to fight as Red, I imagine most readers would have prepared special all-level-100 teams to annihilate him. Then reloaded their saves and done it again. Nice job. He gets his gun hand cut off. I guess that's poetic justice. Does he die, though? He's an important enough character that we ought to know.

    Beryl is a potty mouth! Oh-ho-ho. She's a stereotype, but she's a fun stereotype.

    GRAMMAR
    Does you talk pretty?

    Vern, with a triumphant grin, turned away, standing with his back insolently to Dr. Brighter.
    Word choice. Vern can only be insolent to Brighter if Brighter is in charge. Insolence is a kind of insubordination. Since Vern is the boss, people are suppose to be insolent to him.

    Besides that, there's nothing that pulled me out of the story, and that's what counts. Especially in longer stories like this one.

    DETAIL
    Can we see what you're saying?

    Scott suffers a sleepless night after the takeover. You don't describe it at all. I'd imagine that all kinds of scattered and shattered thoughts are going through his mind, especially as the hours pass and Ian bleeds out and starts to stiffen. It's a missed opportunity to get in Scott's head.

    There's a good depiction of humanity's ability to pretend things are normal, though. The scientists just do their best to ignore the takeover and the dead people. Not bad.

    Shattering glass does not roar.

    You never actually tell us that the chained-up girl is named Tella. You just go straight to calling her that. That's kind of sloppy.

    Scott had over nine thousand questions
    WHAT, NINE THOUSAND? THERE'S NO WAY THAT CAN BE RIGHT!

    PLAUSIBILITY
    Does it make sense?

    Houndoom cannot cause sunburns by breathing in someone's face. Sunburns are caused by ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun. You want regular old burns, which are caused by heat exposure.

    Nitpick: why would the criminal organization have any reason to buy the lab new Bunsen burners? Those burners are very basic and optimized equipment whose design has not changed in years. You don't worry about them becoming obsolete. You only worry about them breaking, and they don't often do that.
    Also:
    A little vandalism goes a long way when half of our most expensive instruments are made of glass...
    Have you ever seen price quotes for advanced laboratory electronics? Glass is nothing.
    Okay, I'll stop. It's just that I spend a lot of time in labs so I care about this kind of thing.

    A possible plothole: you said that Scott didn't see the black-clad men very often. However, a few paragraphs later, you say that there were three guards just outside each lab with a fourth one in the lab itself. Is this a contradiction? If it isn't, it's going to need some explaining.

    Is Vern firing that pistol backwards? The description isn't clear. If so, getting a headshot is a little much, don't you agree? We see the next day that he's shooting forwards, though. I guess it was just an ambiguity.

    LENGTH
    Is it long enough?

    Single capture.
    Porygon (DEMANDING 40,000-55,000)
    Your length: 55,781.
    It's what the doctor ordered.

    OVERALL
    What did I think, personally?

    This story was excellent. The evil-overlord plot sucked me in and the exploration of the powers of a virtual Pokemon was also interesting. The antagonists were compelling as well; they were so evil you wanted to know what would happen to them. There're also sequel hooks that, though blatant, are oh-so-sharp.

    FINAL
    To catch, or not to catch?
    I grade things for the URPG.

    New experimental grading system. Request a tier after I claim your story:
    Tier I / Basic: A quick verdict and some useful advice without much fuss.
    Tier II / Normal: More in-depth analysis.
    Tier III / Heavy: I WILL TEAR YOUR STORY TO SHREDS AND TAP-DANCE ON THE PIECES

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