Anima Ex Machina: Eighteen
The power is yet unknown.

A wise man once said that if a normal person pulled a lever and received an electric shock, he wouldn't pull the lever again; if a scientist did it, he'd do it at least twice to see if it would happen again. This was largely true in Bill's world. In terms of common sense, pokémon researchers were generally stupid people. This would also explain why Bill, who had very little battling experience and an equal amount of understanding as to how his powers worked, ran headlong into hurricane force winds.

Slamming into a telephone pole, Bill grimaced and braced his back against the fixture. As he opened one eye, he cautiously surveyed what he was up against. Before him lay a war zone. The street in front of the pokémon center was, in a sense, just as he left it: crammed with cars, tents, people, and pokémon. Yet, the difference here was that the orderliness of the Caravan was gone. Cars were overturned or in the process of being overturned. Debris -- everything from trash to pots and clothing -- sailed along strong currents of wind. People, all of whom were to his luck too distracted by the fighting to notice him, were armed and shooting towards the sky if they weren't running or being tossed right along with everything else the gusts picked up. Pokémon turned their limbs towards a spot above them and fired everything from flames to leaves. Glancing towards the sky, Bill caught sight of what was causing the commotion, and that sight alone was enough to stop him right where he was.

Above the battleground were three white ixodida. All three of them whipped their wings furiously, churning the air into strong gales. Blue feathers of light shot from one harpy's wings to cut through the air and slam into the trainers just beneath her. The second twisted her wings, and the gales she generated picked up every pokémon and person in her path. At the same time, the third held out her hands and turned them in front of her as if to weave the winds around her sisters. All of this happened while they suspended themselves far above their attackers.

Having had enough of this sight, Bill dashed for a nearby building. The windows had been blown out by the storm, so he had no trouble slipping inside to find the comparatively peaceful interior of a wind-gutted shop. As he scrambled over broken glass and overturned shelves of shirts and clothing, he concentrated on only one thing.

"Flying," Bill muttered. "Why are they flying?"

Inside his head, he could feel Adam's presence. Well, Bill, I do believe they would be what your kind call "flying-types."

"Yes, but..." He shook his head. "I'm not a flying-type! I think."

Your point?

"Why are they flying?!"

Adam sighed. If you are asking why they are of the Wind Clan but you are not, that would be explained by the fact that I hardly care for their kind at all. Bill, you are in the middle of a battle. What is your next move?

"My next move?"

Yes. I would assume you are planning on doing something besides run.

"I-I'm working on it."

He tore across the store and to the opposite wall. Seemingly at random, he began throwing open every door he could find along it -- doors to closets, to bathrooms, to back rooms. Adam watched as its host scrambled into the latter, clamoring over cardboard boxes in search of another door.

Is that so? Adam asked. And what, may I ask, are you planning on doing exactly?

"I need to get to the roof," Bill replied, as if it was the simplest question in the world.

And from there?

"I haven't the faintest."

Bill reached a door on the opposite side of the wall. Shoving it open, he slipped outside once again, but this time, he found an alley just behind the store. Just outside, the wind was not much more than a cold breeze carrying the strong scent of garbage. The other ixodida were nowhere to be seen, but Bill could hear them clearly on the other side of the building -- a sharp reminder of why he was out there. At the same time, he couldn't see any sign of what he was looking for: a fire escape, a ladder, anything that would help him climb the brick walls surrounding him. Realizing this fact, he raised his claws and examined them.

"Adam," he said.

Yes, Bill?

"When you climbed the gym wall, you didn't need to do anything else but pierce the surface, correct?"

Correct. If you tried it, our body will know what to do.

"Is that so?" Bill replied quietly. Then, he gazed at the brick wall of the shop. "Well. Nothing to lose, I suppose."

He approached the wall and placed a hand on it. Experimentally, he pushed his claws into the brick, feeling their hard tips grind against the solid surface.

You will need to hit it harder than that, Bill.

Bill hesitated, hand feeling the solidity of the brick and mind acknowledging that stabbing a wall with one's own fingers would most likely hurt just a bit. Nonetheless, he closed his eyes and tried to follow Adam's advice. His body would know what to do, but how was he supposed to make a connection between what he wanted it to do and what it could do?

The sound of the birds' shrieks from the other side of the building snapped him out of his meditations. Looking up, he saw a flash of light, and he could hear a crack of thunder. With that, Bill steadied himself and turned his eyes back to the wall. He brought a hand back and let it cut through the air until it slammed into the surface. All five of his claws sank into the material like nails being driven into it with a hammer. His other hand followed, and soon, Bill found himself climbing up the wall without much effort.

"I can't believe I'm doing this," he murmured.

You can do much more, Adam replied, but this is a good start.

Bill briefly thought to ask Adam what he meant, but as he climbed onto the roof, he felt the wind from the ixodida not far away. It served as his anchor, his focus point as he clambered over the edge of the building and onto the roof. Looking up, he caught a glimpse of the three birds, still stirring winds between them above the main street. Jumping to his feet, Bill launched himself forward until he stood on the edge of the roof closest to them. Part of him felt shudders of nervousness; he knew he didn't really think his plan all the way through. The other part, meanwhile, was the one that drove him to lift an arm and wave it at the other ixodida.

"Hey!" he shouted. "Hey! Over here!"

While two of the harpies broke formation to dive at the crowd beneath them, the third turned her head to look at Bill. He opened his mouth, prepared to speak and address her, but then, something hot hit him from behind. In the next few seconds, all he could see was green light. He felt as if a sledgehammer slammed into his spine. The ground slipped from beneath his feet, and all of a sudden, his limbs flailed through the air until his fingertips hit brick. His entire body jolted, and right then, Bill realized he was hanging from the wall, back and arms throbbing with a stabbing, hot pain. The other ixodida's shriek filled his ears, and mid-wince, he caught sight of a white blur sailing above him.

Shakily, he pulled himself upwards and back onto the roof just in time to watch the harpy slam her entire form into Lanette's altaria. Lanette herself leapt into the air to dismount, landing with her back turned towards Bill.

"Altaria! Blind it with Toxic!" she ordered.

The bird screeched and enveloped the alien with her wings. As soon as she realized what was about to happen, the harpy thrashed as her enemy craned her slender neck and began hacking and coughing. The bird's beak opened, and a black, viscous mass splattered onto the ixodida's face. Skin hissed beneath a coat of slime as the harpy screamed and violently twisted her body in an effort to get away.

Across the roof, Lanette pulled her crowbar free from the straps across her back. "Altaria, send her back. DragonBreath!"

Once more, the altaria whipped her head upwards and opened her beak. This time, sparks of green light gathered in the back of her throat. The glow grew quickly until it filled her entire mouth. Then, she unfolded her wings and exhaled, breathing out the energy in the form of a wide, green beam. Blind and unable to defend herself, Altaria's opponent took the brunt of the attack and sailed backwards, her screams drowning in the roar of the blast. At the same time, Lanette gracefully stepped aside and swung her crowbar into the incoming harpy. Metal met the ixodida's skull with a sickening crack, driving her to flip in the air and fall limply like a ragdoll onto the tar roof. Lanette wasted no time from there: she flipped her crowbar with one hand and stabbed the white-feathered creature through her stomach. Green liquid and blood spurted out from the jewel on the alien's torso.

Bill had never been so terrified of someone he knew in all his life. He watched her yank her crowbar free from the ixodida's body. In his silence, he rose to his feet once more, but he couldn't force his mind to work enough to say something to her. It was Lanette who had to break the quiet between them, although she never turned to face him.

"Do you want to die?" she growled.

"W-what?" Bill murmured.

Lanette flicked her wrist, shaking blood and the parasite's bodily fluids off her crowbar.

"I was very clear with the sentence I gave you," she said. "Exile or death. And here you are."

"Lanette..." Bill forced himself to smile at her. "You-you wouldn't really... would you?"

She turned her head to look over a shoulder at him. Without warning, she screamed and lunged at him, swinging her crowbar at his head. Instinctively, he ducked, dodging her first strike narrowly. His arms flew in front of his face to defend himself as his entire body began to glow silver. Her crowbar connected with his forearm with a resounding clang, but with Iron Defense reinforcing Bill's armor, Lanette's weapon slid off him harmlessly. For Bill, a dull ache radiated from the spot she hit, but it was nothing compared to the pain he felt when Lanette's crowbar nailed him on the side of the head. His vision flooded with fuzzy spots as he reeled away from her. One of his hands grasped the side of his head, and he closed one eye and gritted his teeth.

"You're serious!" he yelped. "Lanette, stop!"

His vision resolved just seconds before he saw another flash of silver headed towards the other side of his head. A gasp caught in his throat as he sidestepped his colleague, but this put him in clear range of a large, round sphere of green light launched by the altaria hovering nearby. For the second time in a span of fifteen minutes, Bill pinwheeled through the air, hot pain lacing through his limbs before he faceplanted into the roof on the opposite side of the building. Groaning, he lifted his head and squinted just enough to see a blue blob hanging several feet away from him. A brown boot came down hard next to him, and, already shaking, he turned his eyes to see Lanette standing above him.

"Why won't you put up a fight?" she asked.

Bill coughed. He planted his hands on the roof and pushed until he knelt with his head bowed.

"Because I'm not your enemy," he replied.

"No," she said quietly. "That's not what I meant."

She swung one more time, smacking Bill in the back of the head. He sprawled onto the roof again, but this time, Lanette pushed him onto his back with one of her feet. That same foot planted itself onto his chest, and both of her hands drew in front of her to encircle the crowbar tightly.

"I mean you're possibly the most pathetic ixodida I've ever met," she told him.

She raised her crowbar, pointed end aimed at Bill's head. Right when it was raised as high as she could lift it, a white figure swooped down and grabbed the other end. Lanette had no time to defend herself before she was pulled into the air by a pair of white-feathered arms. Altaria shrieked and turned her head, beak open as green light gathered in her beak, but she hesitated as her target held her master close. Bill sat up, eyes wide as he watched both Lanette and the creature rise into the air with altaria trailing far behind. Two other ixodida joined them shortly afterwards.

It didn't take long for two realizations to hit Bill. First, the obvious -- that Lanette was just captured by a bunch of ixodida. The second was a bit more obscure.

"Adam, weren't there only three ixodida?" Bill asked quickly.

Without hesitation, Adam replied, Yes, Bill, I do believe there were.

"One of them is dead."

Yes, Bill.


Bill forced himself to his feet as quickly as his injuries would allow. Yelping, he held his head as the world swam around him.

"Adam, I need to think. How quickly can my body recover from Lanette's attacks?"

Luckily, not that long. We should be within fighting condition in a few minutes.

Grumbling, Bill opened an eye. "I really don't plan on fighting, but I need a way to follow those ixodida. How high can I jump?"

Not very.

"Can I draw them to me?"

I would hardly suggest it.

"What if I used an attack to launch myself towards them? Perhaps Hyper Beam or something of that nature?"

I do believe that would be considered a ridiculous idea.

Bill sighed in exasperation. "Then what can I do?"

There was a pause as Bill watched the white figures grow more and more distant. He thought for a moment that Adam was simply not going to help him at all, but as he began to rattle his brain for a plan of his own, the parasite responded.

There is one thing you can do.

Bill glanced down. "What?"

Run forward and jump.


Do it. You will see.

Bill fixed his jaw. Glancing around him, he couldn't quite see anything that would help him put together a better idea, and in any case, Adam knew his body best... right? Taking a deep breath, Bill fixed his eyes straight ahead. Once he cleared his mind, he sprinted forward, his every muscle focused on carrying him to the edge of the building as quickly as possible. He had no idea what he was going to do. No combination of powers came to mind. All he thought about was running, as if that would somehow magically bring Lanette down safely.

Then, he ran out of ground. His body launched over the edge, arms flailing through the air and wind rushing around him. That's when it clicked. A sudden thought -- one that he considered simple at that moment, as crazy as it would have sounded if he wasn't free-falling from a three-story building. In preparation for that single plan, Bill's body began to glow with a golden aura. His mouth opened, and without thinking about it, he uttered two short words.

"Magnet Rise!"

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