Hey, all, Aeris here. I don't know what I'm thinking, re-writing this, but I am. I guess it's because I've been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. Re-visiting my old Pokemon fic seemed like a good idea, remind me of all the friends who helped me come up with it, and the laughs we used to have. Only... well, I looked at it, and it was a piece of crap that begged to be re-written before I could even stomach the fact that yes, I wrote this. And somehow, I have. I've sit down long enough to re-think, re-vamp, and re-write. So I give you the revival of... yea gods... the very first fanfiction I ever wrote. Aheh...
There comes a time in every person's life where they change. It can be a change of heart, a change of mind, a change of attitude, or a change of style. Sometimes it's something as simple as a new haircut that gives them a boost in confidence, a small thing that's completely in their control. Sometimes, though, it's more drastic than that. Much more drastic. Sometimes it's an outside force that rips through their life like a bullet and leaves their whole existence in tattered shreds. And sometimes, they have no control at all over where this bullet is aimed or what it hits along the way. In times like this, it is the truly strong who hold on to the will to survive. One can only hope that will alone is enough...
Cheryl brushed a length of black hair over her shoulder as she looked at the chart she was holding. All of the vital signs were strong, the heavily monitored brain waves indicative of a peaceful, albeit chemically induced, sleep. In other words, everything was going just fine. She sighed softly and set the charts down, looking over at the large tank. Sometimes she wished it wasn't going just fine. Sometimes she wished she would come into work to find the lab in a state of panic because the poor creature had just up and died on them. But even as she wished it would just end, she knew it wouldn't. If this specimen died, they would just make another. And another, and another, and another, until they were done. It wouldn't just end. It just wouldn't end.
Sometimes she wished she could just walk over there and pull the power cord, but she couldn't. She needed this job. She needed the pay. No one else would pay a nobody like her this well. Then again, she knew the reason the employees of this lab were so accommodated for. So they would keep their mouths shut. After all, if someone were to just casually mention that they were a Team Rocket lab assistant, it could bring down the whole operation. Especially this operation.
She settled into a threadbare office chair at a small, cluttered desk, glancing briefly at her coworkers. The nightshift was dull, more of a formality than anything else. All of the experimenting was done during the day. At night, there were just a few lab techs on hand to be sure nothing went wrong. Or at least, there were supposed to be a few lab techs on hand. The actual technicians usually sat in the staff room were the vending machines were, playing poker. It was their assistants who kept an eye on things. After all, why should the techs have to do non-existent work when the little assistants were so desperate for their jobs, they'd do whatever they were told? Well, maybe there was one who would do his job. Cheryl idly drummed her fingers on the desk, glancing over at her redheaded co-worker Yota, who was balancing a pencil on one finger and humming along to the music from his radio. The young man was a gifted scientist, she knew, but he was also a widower, who took this thankless job to support his six-year-old daughter, working nights so that he could spend time with the child during the day. She wondered how he did it. How could he go home and pick his daughter up without feeling guilty? How could any of them go home without feeling guilty?
Without her realizing it, Cheryl's eyes strayed to the tank, to the creature in the tank. Even curled up as it was, one could tell that it was at least five feet tall, probably closer to five and a half. Pale body, probably white, but it was impossible to say for certain when viewing it through the yellowish fluids that contained it. It had a vividly dark underbelly and tail. The tail was long and thick, bigger around than the young woman's own arm. If this one rebelled, it could snap a man's back with just it's tail alone. Powerful legs, too, whereas the arms were slender. It would be a biped, when it woke up. Cheryl wondered if this one was female or not. The base had been female, after all. All the pictures showed pretty young girl with long, luxurious hair. This one had thick, long hair as well, hair that bobbed and swayed, rising and falling with the current of the liquids that were constantly being filtered in and out of the container. It looked, to the assistant, perfectly out of place on a Pokémon. She pushed her own hair out of her eyes again unconsciously as she studied the thing's face. Its face reminded her of a cat. With its head tilted down, even just a little, one could not see the mouth. The ears, too, were barely visible, just peeking out of the hair that floated about its head like a halo. What one could see was the way the closed eyes sloped upwards just a little, and how wide they were across. It would have big eyes...
"It's easier to get through the night if you don't look at it, you know." Cheryl was snapped out of her idle thoughts by the sudden intrusion of words. Yota was looking across the room at her rather sadly. "It becomes more real, the more you look at it." She nodded silently, recalling dimly that Yota had been with the project from the very beginning. If anyone knew what to expect, it was him. She reached down to open the bottom drawer of the desk, groping around for the paperback romance novel she'd hidden there. She would pass the night by reading, same as she always did. Cheryl was a frequent face at the local library because she could usually read five or six good books in a single week, and owning that many books on her pay was simply out of the question. Tonight, she would finish the lurid tale of love and deceit and start on a good science fiction.
Or at least, she would have, had some primal instinct not compelled her to look back towards the tank. The book that she had been pulling from the drawer fell to the floor with a soft rustling of pages. For just a moment, the Pokémon's head had lifted, and open eyes stared vacantly at the nothingness before it. They were only half-open, but Cheryl could see how dark they were. She tried to call out to her co-workers, get them to look too, but all that she could muster up in her shock was a small, weak croaking sound. Then the exotic eyes lifted their gaze, until the creature's vision actually locked onto Cheryl herself. For a second, it seemed to meet her gaze, and then the narrow head dipped low and the eyes drifted shut once more, as though nothing had happened.
Cheryl sat there, numb, as the handful of people around her exploded into action, still unable to process what she had just seen. She was vaguely aware of one of the other lab assistants shaking her shoulders and calling her name, but none of it really seemed to register anymore...
Yota had just been going back to considering ideas for his daughter's next birthday party when the strangled cry from two desks over caught his attention and held it. The young lab assist who had been studying the creature earlier was starting at the tank again, but this time her face was an ashen white. He had followed her stricken gaze just in time to see a pair of almond eyes closing.
Now, less than an hour later, the whole lab was in an uproar. The computers had confirmed that yes, there had been a spike in brain activity. For just a moment, the creature had actually been awake. The day techs were being called in now, and the boss was already on his way. The lab assistant girl, Cheryl, was sitting off in a corner. He'd been about to tell her to go home when it occurred to him that if the Pokémon did wake up fully, it might be useful for her to be here. After all, she was the only one who it had made eye contact with. If, by some chance, it had formed some psychic bond on her in those few moments, the woman's presence could keep the creature from becoming unruly like... well, like the last one supposedly had.
The truth was, no one really knew anything about the last one of these things that Team Rocket tried to make. Or rather, no one remembered anything they might have known. The files were just... there. Instructions on how to create, to clone, the perfect bio-weapon. The results of tests that were done on the original. Video and sound files that blatantly put it's power out in the open. Looking at the files, reading about the creature's abilities, it had become apparent that there was only one real flaw in this near-perfect creation of science.
It had been too damn powerful.
Of course, that hadn't stopped Team Rocket's leader from demanding that they re-create the project. They had material samples, both of the cloned and the original DNA. But this time, they would take more precautions. Tamper with the DNA a bit. Make the clone weaker than the original, not stronger. Make it tamer. Make it manageable. Instead of creating the clone from simply the DNA of the original, grow it from a base of a different species. Maybe a human base. It could speed the growth, at least, even if it didn't put a damper on its capabilities...
Yota shoved the thoughts out of his head. Thinking about it made it real, damn it. He couldn't let it be real. He had to keep it as a bad nightmare in his head so that he could go home every morning and wake his daughter for school. He sighed, looking at the can of hot coffee the vending machine had just supplied. He'd better call in the morning, let his little girl know that daddy might not be home for a few days, and that she was to go to a friend's house after school. The odds were good that if he did make it home, it would only be to sleep for a few hours before coming back to work.
Glancing back across the lab, the tech found himself reaching into his wallet for enough cash to get another coffee from the machine. Well, why not? The poor assistant would undoubtedly be here for a while, too. What harm could there be in sharing? He grabbed the hot can, tossing it in the air a bit so he wouldn't burn his palm, and made his way across the bustling room to the confused young woman he'd parked in a corner. She didn't even seem to notice he was there until he dangled the can in front of her face. "Drink up. It's going to be a long night."
Why was it so hard to just wake up?
Everything seemed so... dull. Insubstantial sensations, muffled sounds. The world moved around her, bustling and busy, but she herself felt heavy, lethargic. It was a struggle to just open her eyes...
It was awake again. It hadn't moved yet, but the computers said it was awake. Yota watched, suddenly anxious, as the day techs that had taken over for him oversaw the draining of the tank. If this project was a success, if it really worked out, then the Pokémon would be transferred over to the Team Rocket caretakers, and Yota and the other geneticists and technicians would be handsomely rewarded for their efforts and granted leave from Team Rocket's laboratories. It was money he could use to pay off the little house he and his daughter lived in, so he could take a smaller, more legal job, one that he would be able to admit to having.
The tank was drained almost completely now, enough so that the Pokémon had sunk to the bottom. It was starting to stir slightly now, but it's eyes had not opened again.
The heaviness was worse now. And the sounds around her were clearer, no longer muffled and indistinct. Sharp, loud voices. Mechanical whirs and beeps. Shuffling feet. Papers. The physical sensations were more distinct, too. A hard surface bellow, a smooth surface behind. The slight chill of dampness. A rustiness, stiffness, in her whole body. A sour taste in her mouth.
Nothing felt right.
The boss was here now, the head of Team Rocket. Giovanni, they called him. As though it was the only name he needed. It probably was, Yota mused as he watched the crime lord talk to the young assistant. Cheryl was nodding her head silently. Yota watched as they carried on like this for a while, and then made his way over to her once Giovanni had walked off. "What did he say?"
The young woman was coiling a strand of hair around her finger. "He said I have to stay near the tank, just in case."
"In case you made some sort of impression on it."
Her response was a weak nod. "He said that if I have... made an impression... I'll have to stay on the project indefinitely... but they'll triple my pay, if I can keep it in line..."
"Can't say I envy you there."
Cheryl nodded numbly. This isn't how things were supposed to happen. She should get some money, get some training, get the medicine her grandmother needed, and get out. Not stay and keep watch over... over... whatever!
She sighed and looked at the Pokémon. With the tank drained, she could see that the main body was white, and apparently covered in very fine fur. It was a crisp, pure white, like snow. The tail and belly, on the other hand, were a brilliantly deep magenta. The long hair was the same, with bold fuchsia highlights running through it. Such a strange, exotic looking thing...
Yota was staring at her. "You're positively entranced by that thing, aren't you?"
"Maybe I am," Cheryl only half-joked as she rested a hand on the glass. "It's an entrancing thing, I guess. Yota... what we're looking at right now, no one's ever seen before. She's one-of-a-kind..."
Cheryl blinked. Who had said- oh, wait. She had. "Yeah... she. Why shouldn't she be?" She looked up at the technician. "The base was a girl."
The redhead shook his head as he turned away. "Just don't get too attached."
I won't, the young woman thought indignantly as she turned her attention back to the tank, and her possible charge. And thought her heart would stop.
The Pokémon was opening its eyes!
There... the world around her seemed to stop for a few brief moments as she looked around her for the first time. She had to blink her eyes for a while before she could actually see, but then she saw people. Lots of people, and machines. She was walled in by... she stared both at it and through it, and after a moment, the word came to her. Glass. There was glass on all sides of her. And a person, closer than all the others, with a hand on the glass. She stared at the hand, then reached up to press her own against the glass next to it. Her own hand was different. The human had a thumb and four fingers, five digits in all, but she had only three, oddly shaped at that. She studied her hand for a moment, fascinated by it, before looking again at the one on the other side of the glass, and the person it was attached to. It was a woman, although she didn't know how she knew. The woman was looking at her with the most puzzling expression. She looked a little confused, a little afraid, sad and awed at the same time. The creature looked around her again. They all had that expression, except for one. A tall, imposing man stood with his hands behind his back, looking smugly satisfied as he looked her over. The Pokémon stared at them all, even as they stared back, and then finally could take the silence no more. She looked back up at the woman with her hand pressed to the glass. "Where... where am I?"
And the world around her erupted with activity once more.
Everything got busy again once they heard it speak. Some of the scientists got right back to work, checking vitals and brain waves, while others clapped each other on the back and congratulated each other. Kazu, his personal assistant, was among those that celebrated. He greeted Yota with a hearty clap on the back and a jovial "We're free!" before running over to chat with Reiko, a cute day tech he'd been seeing on his days off. The youth had been assigned to the project at the same time he had, and both would be glad to be rid of it. Rid of it. Yes, they would be rid of this thing. Team Rocket would be rid of this thing, too, if he had his way about it...
Now, I know this doesn't seem like humor yet, but believe me, once my... ahem... 'creation' wakes up a bit, things get funny. Eve is the most complex character I've ever done, which is probably why I couldn't write her well at first. She also has a strange, twisted sense of humor. Also, there's another character forthcoming who'll add to the humor factor. She always does.
I also need to make note of the rating. It seems low now, but language and violence are going to escalate. Especially if my main character sticks to her usual habits of having fun at other people's expense. Knowing Eve, she probably will...
The funny thing is, I gave myself a couple of 'taboo' words as a challenge, ones I would not use in the first chapter. Somehow, I managed it. Anyway, it's kinda fun re-doing this and seeing how I've grown as an authoress since I started writing, wow, about five years ago. I hope you all enjoy the ride as much as I do! Thanks!