A/N:Hey everybody! Whatever everybody there is… I'm not sure if people read pokemon fanfiction anymore. But I've felt for the longest time that I had one last story in me, one final pokemon TF fanfic. I guess my last one wasn't really TF… a mistake I intend to correct with this story. For those who haven't read any of my prior work: This story is a direct continuation of Probable Descent, my last pokemon fanfic. Don't take it to mean you need to have read any of those previous stories to understand this one, but if you enjoy TF and you enjoy Pokemon, you'd probably enjoy them too.

Pokemon and the pokemon franchise are copyright gamefreak, Nintendo, and everybody else who might own it at this time. I do not claim any ownership thereof, and make use of their universe through the terms of fair use. Please don't sue me.

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Prologue: "…and the Void Shouted Back"

Senior research fellow Adam Newton hardly looked the part his title implied. His hair was disheveled, his personal hygiene sometimes left a little to be desired, and he lined his research space with plushies and other childish toys. But what he lacked in presentability he made up for with raw talent, or else he wouldn't still be employed. A remarkably short time ago, Adam had just been a student, which was a prestigious opportunity in itself, considering the school was the best-recognized technical college in all of Kanto.

In many ways, Adam was very similar to his colleagues in the technical field: Young, lazy, and brilliant. The man was on the wrong side of twenty but the right side of thirty, with circuit-board-green eyes and black hair that probably would've broken any comb that tried to tame it. He spent many of his working hours the way most programmers did: not working. Although in this case, it was difficult to blame him. Despite his title, he'd been relegated to a relatively minor office in the basement, and one late evening found the television the only sound in the otherwise silent chamber, as it often was. Adam leaned back in his chair, half-asleep, dirty shoes resting on one of the several desks in the room as his subconscious barely listened to the squawking reporter whose outline his mostly closed eyes could barely make out.

"Celadon police announced today that fourteen additional individuals had been officially added to the city's missing person list, presumed to be the latest victims of what authorities are calling the 'mutagenic nano-virus resurgence.' What the authorities have as of yet not explained is how the current victims could have been harmed by the now-defunct Rocket virus, when, according to their families, they had all received the state-mandated vaccinations to that virus. Could this be some new mutation of the artificial plague that nearly wiped out human life in Kanto forty-five years ago? Our on-site reporter has more."

Adam sat up slightly more awake as he heard the name of his current residence, the city where he also happened to be working as a researcher. Behind him, his Porygon2 seemed to shimmer a little in midair, tilting its head to one side in an inquisitive, questioning sort of way. The thing spoke, a meaningless splurge of its own name and letters and numbers and symbols all jumbled together, but his computer processed those sounds into a message that flashed briefly across the screen. At least, it was a message to Adam. To many of his lesser colleagues, it was just as meaningless. Porygon was, after all, the only fully artificial pokemon, constructed of computer code and matter synthesis. From Adam's point of view, he was the greatest example of everything he believed: That computers could literally rewrite the universe.

The screen flashed only briefly with what his Porygon had said, but Adam took it all in with a glance.

"outputStream (arg []){

iterate! (loops: long newLong(MS4w))

new Proper eContext = (inputStream QWRhbQ==);

eContext%=_IO_PARAMATERS;

break;

}"

He replied at once, and was almost sharp as he did so, obviously eager to get back to the program he was watching. "No, I'm not afraid, Ion. Of course I'm worried something like this is happening in Celadon, but… I'm sure the authorities can handle it." Meanwhile, the field reporter was standing outside the Celadon Hotel, one of the wealthiest places in the city. Or at least it had been.

"Many residents remember the meteorite impact that inflicted heavy damage on the upper levels of the Celadon hotel roughly five years ago. Nearly fifty people were killed in the initial impact. That the structure and so many of those inside survived was considered miraculous." The camera zoomed in on the police barriers for a moment, then the top floors of the building, which had little left but steel struts. The little plastic "Condemned" posters were plastered all over the lower floors, but as of yet, no demolition had taken place. "Survivors are now questioning this reality, as almost all of the 142 names on the Missing Persons list were either staying at the hotel at the time or are the immediate family and friends of someone who was."

"But Cindy!" The anchor asked from one side of the screen, in predictable mainstream-news fashion. "Weren't the survivors all screened after the impact? How could something like this happen?"

"Thorough screening of all involved did take place, though it was mostly for radiation. Still, authorities aren't ruling anything out. As this is the only lead any of them have to go on, they're urging all citizens who were present at the Hotel or who came in contact with someone who was to report to any of the three designated processing centers…" A map appeared briefly on the screen. "for their own safety. Those who do so will be given complete medical care at no charge. Those who do not report within 3 days will be forced to submit themselves to medical care in the public interest." She then looked straight forward, in what was obviously an attempt to make an appeal to the Ethos of the audience.

"Please, if any of you watching were there, submit yourself to medical care immediately: You could be helping to stop the spread of the most dangerous plague mankind has ever seen."

Adam made a frustrated gesture at his television then, which deactivated at once in response. He was mostly speaking to himself, but he glanced over his shoulder at the Porygon2 as he spoke, as though in some-way indicating him. "See that, Ion? They talk all about this plague but don't even mention what happened to the people who went missing, not once. Even if they'd caught that old Rocket thing, you'd expect at least one of them to have died… most of the people that caught it just died! And the ones that didn't… how clever is your average person when they're crammed into a pokemon brain? Could the infected even escape their own homes that way? It's bull, all of it. They're not telling us something, and that something's really important."

Adam didn't look at his computer-screen to see what Porygon had said in response; He didn't much care just now. Still slightly groggy, he flipped on the lights, which abruptly lit the room with harsh white. There were his twelve consoles, daisy-chained together into the most powerful supercomputer this half of the content. Infinitely more valuable, though, was the collection of wires and receptors attached to the end of the rightmost console. Few at the university knew Adam had actually stole this little machine and the software to run it from an abandoned laboratory in his childhood, along with this Porygon and innumerable technical texts. Adam claimed to have invented it himself, and with no evidence to the contrary, it had made a significant part of what earned him his current role. But so much of the code had to be rewritten. Whoever had originally built it had done so as a rather permanent solution… when worn by an individual, that individual was (for lack of a better word) "downloaded" from their own brain into a vastly powerful computer, rendering them a sort of artificial immortality. That was his theory as to the machine's real purpose, though he hadn't told anybody the theory.

Adam had taken the machine and, in a legitimate show of technical skill, changed it from a device of complete download and erasure to one of read and write… it saw the brain as a hard-drive written in its own biological code, and parsed that code into a language that could be read on a computer screen. At least, that was the theory. It hadn't actually been tested yet. At least… it hadn't been tested aside from the little bits of scorched hair he'd found in the wiring, obviously belonging to two distinct individuals. But he hadn't mentioned that either.

Adam's musings were interrupted, however, by the most intense pain he had felt in his entire life. Indeed, the most intense pain he would ever feel. It felt as though somebody had reached straight inside his body, where no hands had a right to be, and started yanking hard on his soul, twisting it so hard his heart nearly gave out with every turn. Quite unceremoniously, the disheveled programmer dropped limply to the floor, stripped even of the ability to cry out, or move. It was not a sensation confined to one specific part of his body. Even as he lay there limply, struggling to gather the energy to breathe… struggling to even care enough to breathe… he heard the words of that night's news-report in his ears, and saw that same night five years ago, when he'd first arrived from Palette and been staying just a night at the Celadon hotel until he could move into the dorms. He remembered the way the building had started to shake before the impact, same as all the other structures in Celadon. He remembered the impact, an awful second that simulated a severe earthquake and caused everything in his room to come tumbling down on top of him. Then, as abruptly as flicking off a light, he remembered nothing at all.

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Sensation was slow to return after that. Adam thought he saw sunlight coming in from the tiny window, but he couldn't be sure. He wasn't surprised none of the cleaning staff had found his unconscious body: They'd given up on keeping his office clean months ago. He was surprised nobody had called though, not so much as a whisper on the phone still buried somewhere in his pocket. Or maybe they had, and he simply hadn't woken up. Adam would not have been surprised if an Atom Bomb had gone off somewhere in the city and not woken him up with as awful as he felt. So he sat up, and brushed himself off, glancing over his body for any sign of injury.

Or… wait. No he didn't. He continued to lie there, gradually aware of the ache that laced his body like a gymnast's ribbon. Adam swore under his breath, or tried… again, nothing happened. /My neck's broken, isn't it?/ He thought to himself, practically whimpering with pain and panic. /Now I'm gonna lie here until somebody finds me… probably suffocate long before then. Probably suffocating now./

'You really think so?' Came a voice from inside his head, rather suddenly. It had no sound that could be correlated to it, thought Adam heard it in the same mental voice he always read the errors his compiler threw him while he was coding: a shrill female voice that had something unpleasant jammed somewhere personal. 'Gosh, here I thought that'd I'd worked real hard all this time incubating a carrier strong enough to infect your so called 'dominant' species, and all the credit goes to a neck-injury. I'm hurt. Here… lemmie show you.' Without meaning to… without meaning to do much of anything, Adam stood up. It felt like being manipulated. A puppet, controlling him awkwardly and mechanically as he walked over to a tiny mirror glued to the back of the closed door to the hallway, and looked in at his own face. What he saw nearly made him scream, except that he lacked any control over his own body. The parts of his body that were sore… like the stretch crossing his face… weren't just sore: They were raw, as though dreadfully sunburned. Swolen and blistered and red. It wasn't just his face, either. Random swathes of his whole body ached this way, and a few of the blisters had already burst, expelling putrid-smelling pus as they did. Had he seen this in anyone else, he would've thrown up. Heck, if he'd been in control of himself, he might've thrown up. But he wasn't, so he just stood there, staring.

'Like it? Just wait until you see when it's finished, I've got all sorts of changes in store. So much tissue you don't need. Evolutionary excesses. Or maybe they weren't excesses, but a lesser servitor race doesn't need them. You should be congratulated: you're one of the first. A position of great pride. And when I'm done you'll infect this whole university, isn't that great?' Adam was powerless to resist as he sat down in his own chair, putting up his own legs as he often did and stretching out in a relaxed sort of way. Doing so hurt enormously, popping several more blisters he couldn't even see. 'Only half a step away from the Firstborn. Yeah right. Even with all your fancy machines, you're no better off than the weakest pokemon. Caterpie, that's what you are.'

Adam did not respond to the presence, did not reply in a thought, or even consider what his response might be. He didn't care. Likewise, he didn't think much about what he was doing next, determined not to give the voice any insight as to what he was thinking. Whatever this presence was… it was clearly malign, and had to be fought. He had to retake his body! He had only one chance… Ion. The Porygon2 had blinked into existence from its hibernation state as he stood, protesting in a long series of instructions Adam could not direct his head at the screen to read. He knew the pokemon must be terrified for his health, though… Ion was one of the most intelligent pokemon he knew, and had been ever-grateful to him for freeing it from its confinement. Adam knew Ion was his only hope, though… he didn't try anything until the pokemon had drifted right in front of his face, protesting again, and loudly.

'Look at your construct, it's sad for you! Aren't you going to say something to comfort it? Maybe you should say that it's meaningless artificial life without a soul. No wait, let me.' And so Adam did, his voice slow and mechanical. At the exact same moment though, Adam struggled with all his might, concentrating all his effort on one of his eyes. With the greatest mental exertion he could remember, he forced himself to blink. On and on and on he went, closing and opening his one eye with mechanical precision. The voice did not seem to notice.

"01101001 01101111 01101110 00101110 01010100 01001101 00110011 00101000 01100001 00101001 00111011"

Fortunately for Adam, his Porygon2 did not listen to his scornful words, which his own mouth was producing quite regularly now. Neither payed much attention to what the voice had to say. Abruptly, Ion narrowed its eyes, and Adam could feel the charge in the air as the pokemon prepared an attack. The voice did not have time to respond, to either of them. In a near-instantaneous moment, Porygon2 glowed with psionic force, and struck Adam with it with enough energy to send his chair sliding across the room, and his own body slamming off of it to land in an injured heap.

As quickly as it came, the voice was gone, leaving Adam alone with his own thoughts. He did not try to move, not at first: He knew the presence had fully gone as tears of pain began to distort his face, a quite natural result of his unfathomable mutilation. He did a quick mental inventory: No bones felt broken, though his head was pounding. But he ignored that. Ion's Psyshock had banished the presence for now, and he would make maximum use of whatever moments he had. "Thanks, Ion." He croaked as he rose staggering to his feet, able to stand just long enough to slump into the chair. He felt like hell, and probably looked worse. Adam wouldn't glance in the mirror. There was no time for that. "No, I didn't mean any of those things. But…" And he coughed then, expelling a little blood into one of his hands. "I probably don't have much time. I don't know what that thing was, so… I don't know how long it will take to re-establish control." He gestured weakly to the loose helmet of wires hanging on the far end of the room, pushing weakly on the floor with his good leg to bring himself closer to it. "Help me put it on." Ion protested, but not much. It could see the severity of the situation, knew that however dangerous using an untested bit of neurotechnology was, doing nothing would be infinitely worse.

So, with the wire-helmet wrapped gingerly around his head, Adam flipped several switches he knew he shouldn't, and quickly compiled the program he knew very well might end his life.

kernel_1293845_newtonsputin$ -r transceiver . pke args: FULL_IMPORT, ISOLATE, RECOMPILE_ONLY

As he pressed enter, Adam felt a brief surge of energy. Had it not been for the day before, and recently being attacked by his own pokemon, he would've called the feeling intensely painful. It wasn't anymore. And he wasn't electrocuted: Adam did not fall limply to one side never to move again. Rather, all of the monitors mounted to the walls all filled with streams of data. And filled, and filled, and filled, blanking over and over and over much too fast for the human eye to see. When it was finished, only a minute or so later, all the monitors blanked except the one immediately in front of Adam, which filled with a few lines of text.

all stability tests passed (good job Adam, buy yourself a cold one)

Adam . pke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.21 * 10^22 bytes (ISOLATED)

Error: Adam . pke is being edited anyway. Will attempt to compensate, but expect runtime errors.

ROC: .000001% sec.

Available Commands

1 - Recompile and Run

2 - Edit

3 - Delete

4 - Exit

Adam shivered as he read his brief testcode, which had tore apart his mind as though it were another program, and stored in the vast satellite mainframe. What frightened him most was that it was still being edited… that would be the presence that had ripped his body away, taking it back. And doing… whatever else it was doing. He had little time. With a few quick strokes, he opened up the program that was his entire being. The helmet sparked several times, and Adam slumped backward into the chair, overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information. He saw stretched out before him his entire life… every memory and every thought he had ever had. The information poured into his conscious mind, which would've been unable to processes it were it not for the assistance of the computers buffering it for him. Still it should've killed him, but perhaps by luck, perhaps something else, prevented that. So before his eyes ran the fabric of his being… not just what he knew, but what he /was/. His entire genetic structure was there, and so was the hidden subconscious truth that operated his mind. In that instant, he knew he could've redefined the fields of both psychology and philosophy, except that he wouldn't remember any of this when the machine was disconnected.

His fingers flew across the keyboard as fast as his weak body could manage, navigating his way to the section of his own code he needed: The functions that some alien entity was adding. He saw the way the beings were doing it, gradually weakening his hold on reality until his mind was feeble enough for them to rip something vital from him, something science said shouldn't exist. Without that something, he would be an empty shell, just another tool to be used without free will or intelligence. That he would not allow.

First Adam rewrote the routine that was altering his body, changing the genetic and neurological messages to repair the body instead of deactivating his immune system, allowing him to rot away as the microbes in his body ate him alive. This part was easy enough: He already knew about the healing routines his body contained. For efficiency's sake, he quadrupled the constants that governed healing and his immune system. So that much was taken care of. The mental part was trickier, made much worse because it was constantly being rewritten. Every moment it was hidden somewhere else, and every moment it would run in a slightly different way, trying to connect him with the entity that had taken brief control of his body. He was fortunate that the computers seemed to have isolated him from it, at least temporarily. Good: He could have peace and quiet to work. The resulting changes took hours for him to write, even in this heightened state, interfaced with his computer. He'd long-since abandoned the use of the keyboard, thinking the changes directly onto the screen. When he was finished, his body was thick with sweat, and he felt worse than he had in months, even worse than he had that one time he got the stomach flu so serious that he'd been hospitalized.

There was already a "1" flashing on the screen, all he had to do was press enter, and all his changes would be compiled back into his own head. At least, in theory. For all he knew, that might kill him. It might erase his brain, it might replace the entire contents with the word "rubles". Just as with the read, it was untested. He shivered at the thought of what would happen when he pressed the key: There was much he would be able to remove, but not all of the Soulphage's symptoms could be erased. That was the name of the thing, a name he alone in the world knew. He would be sacrificing a great deal with the code he was about to upload, such as the memory of everything he'd done. The code was as it had been when read from his mind… something had been changing his local copy a little, but not much. When he uploaded it, every memory he'd accumulated since beginning would be erased. Everything he'd learned… both about himself and about the future of the planet, would be gone. But he was running out of time, he knew that. The quiet voice was getting louder and louder, and his limbs were going stiff. Soon he wouldn't have the strength to press the key, and the entity would just erase his near victory. It was now or never.

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Adam woke abruptly, blinking the sweat out of his eyes and pulling the now-melted wires from his scalp, taking a little of his hair with them and whimpering as he did so. His eyes jerked immediately to the mirror, expecting to find the same hideous sight he had seen before. The pus was there, dried brown in a thin layer over his skin, but there wasn't a sign of the nearly rotten skin, swollen and deep red. In its place was a swathe of pale white flesh, peeling as though newly healed from a sunburn. Gone too was the fever he had unmistakably felt, the interior reaction to the exterior rotting that he remembered had disfigured him. But his head was swimming: A feeling like mineral oil being poured into his ears, clouding all his thoughts.

He turned weakly to his Porygon2, and was shocked when he didn't need to glance at the screen of his computer (Which would've done him no good, the consoles were all charred black and inoperable). "Note! You left yourself a note! Read now, before it starts. Less disorienting if you know!" And it gestured over and over at a slip of lined paper attached to the biggest monitor. Adam approached the note, not really noticing the feeling of warmth building in his body. More than warmth. Almost electric. The jagged white half-sheet was written in his handwriting, and bore a very simple message, along with a little memory-disk attached with adhesive tape.

"Me - If you're reading this, we won! Neural-uploader worked, great job! Had to rewrite. Figured out what they're doing. Figured out how to screw it up. Didn't just save yourself, saved whole world maybe. But had to split the Adam. Sorry about that. No idea what to expect. Same as all victims of Soulphage though. Pokemon result of successful defense. Soul's way of protecting itself maybe. No time to find out. Take this disk to Saffron by moonlight. The moon will know what to do with it. Don't touch it until you're finished though: Electricity will erase contents. Hold onto your desk and you'll see what I mean."

Almost on instinct, Adam obeyed that last command, reaching out to touch the metal structure that held his now-worthless supercomputer. But before his hand could get there, a jolt of what seemed like lightning surged down his face, jumping from his hand into the desk and causing several of the monitors to flash random shades for a brief instant before going black again. Stranger, Adam felt no pain at this. "What kind of electrical discharge… wait." He looked up suddenly at Ion, narrowing his eyes. "You didn't talk just now, did you?"

Ion replied immediately, though not as quickly as Adam's body began to change. He didn't notice the slight shrinking at first, or the way his hair had gone light yellow, spreading as fur down his back. At least until he finished listening to Ion. "All of us have language. But I learned mine from humans, so I guess you can understand me even when you haven't finished yet."

The programmer very nearly replied with "finished what?", but didn't have the chance as he felt what was happening to him, and his own body answered that question for him. He felt his body changing, shrinking so rapidly now that his shirt had already slipped off, and his pants wouldn't be far behind. There was no pain, only an intense, white hot sensation, like his insides were melting and reshaping themselves. This sensation only got more intense as the bones in his arms and legs twisted and reconfigured, abruptly making it difficult for him to stand. He looked up, eyes wide as he watched his ears pulled up his head, stretching bigger and bigger, making his head look in some ways like an alligator clip used in electronics. His nose was a moist speck now, tugged out just a little as his face formed a muzzle. He whimpered at the first genuine pain during this transformation as electrical sacks formed suddenly in his face, discharging much of their energy into his own body and causing him to spasm a little. He felt a tail forming, strangely shaped and the same color as the fur on his paws, tugging on his spine even as the organs in his torso seemed to solidify themselves into whatever new configuration suited them. With his transformation, Adam became the Soulphage's first (and currently only) real survivor. But he didn't know it yet.

For a moment, there was calm, and it seemed the transformation was finally over. Adam might've taken a guess as to what he looked like then, as he'd seen a fair few pokemon like this, and could feel the shape of his own body by the clothes that covered him. But the heat in his chest had not faded… if anything, it was getting worse. Much worse, so much that it /did/ hurt now. He struggled out of what had been his clothes, standing up on shaky legs and holding himself upright by the aid of the desk, whimpering as the heat continued to grow. So much so that his body itself seemed to be glowing faintly, illuminating a room where all the lights had either burned out or right-out exploded. Ion moved as far away as he could, seeming to understand what was happening to Adam in a way Adam himself did not. The former programmer felt as though his body was an explosive, charging itself for some destructive blast. He wasn't so far from the truth.

Right as the heat became unbearable, when it felt as though his blood were boiling and his brain would fry inside his skull, came the release. It looked a great deal to all observing as though he were evolving: Though of course, Minun could not evolve. To Adam, it felt like being pulled, stretched along a tube of infinite length, having his mass briefly split between two points of nucleation, then quickly reforming into his original shape… twice? As the light faded, Adam got a brief look in the eyes of another little rodent, feeling its complementary charge to his own… then he realized what the note had meant by "splitting the Adam." Both Plusle and Minun dropped to the ground, each unconscious from the mental shock, collapsing limply onto one another. There they would stay until the evening, when the custodian found them and called animal control, and the disparate pair was caged and taken down to the Celadon Pokemon shelter.

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A/N: So… yeah. That's the prologue. Wanted the first chapter to introduce exactly what plague was being talked about in the summary, so there it is. As always, reviews are greatly appreciated, and make writing this story all the more enjoyable. I was happy with the (previously) first chapter's great responses, and as a result I'm writing this 'second' chapter as quickly as I can. Sorry about being screwy with the chapter order, but it won't happen again. If anybody's already reviewed Chapter 1 and would like to review the prologue, go ahead and attach your review to the next chapter. I'll understand what you mean. Everybody else, feel free and review here. Once again, sorry for being so convoluted and confusing. Won't happen again. Chapter 2 should be coming soon… either after finals or as soon as I get a handful of reviews, whichever comes first.