The aim: write a Pokemon fan fiction without using the word "pokemon" or any of their names.
I've got a chapter so far:
(I should proof read it..)
It wasn't a question, it was never a question. The muscle-bound mountain of a man stared down at Fallow, brandishing a questionably filthy needle in his meaty fist.
They swapped them out, rotating the six needles as the line of sullen refugees marched one halted step after another into the sanctity of the Indigo Salvation Centre. Each asylum seeker had their blood drawn, tested with a diminishing supply of solution, and they allowed entrance. If they were lucky.
The air was thick with charred decay. They made no effort to hide the burnt husks of human and animal remains which littered the paths towards the one and only entrance. Fallow had yanked Ivy's leash on more than one occasion to pull the creature from eating the blackened flesh.
“Arm.” the officer grunted again, not waiting for Fallow to move as he snatched his left arm and jabbed it with the needle.
“That beast should have a muzzle.” he said, eyeing Ivy as he mixed the blood and solution in a small, reusable vile.
Fallow looked down at his companion, and Ivy looked up back at him with sickly purple drool hanging in strands from the corners of its panting maw. If opened fully, Ivy could fit Fallow's entire head into its mouth with room to spare; it's reptilian smile was as wide across as his forearm.
“If you find one big enough.” Fallow said, releasing his breath as the solution turned his blood black.”
Stupid. Fallow thought. He'd been through this checkpoint a dozen times. He knew he wasn't infected, so why did he worry each and every time.
“If that thing bites me,” the officer said as his companions levelled their shotguns and aimed at Ivy, “It'll be the last thing either of you do.”
Ivy shuffled nervously under the scrutiny and Fallow tightened his grip of the leash. The rifle hung comfortably at his back, and it was loaded, his finger twitched.
“Maybe you should let me do it.” he offered, holding out his hand. “Your buddy Jet had me do it last time I was here.”
“Jet's dead.” the guard snorted, tossing the needle towards him.
Light gleamed off the well-used syringe and it was all Fallow could do not to step aside and let it shatter to the ground. He chose his moment carefully and plucked it out of the air, dripping bloody from the puncture in his arm.
“Easy girl.” Fallow said, getting to one knee and wrapping the leather leash over and over around his wrist, shortening its length to a few inches.
“Cover your mouths.” Fallow said, looking up at the refugees in line behind him. He didn't bother warning the guards, knowing they would take the precaution as soon as he did.
Fallow lifted the rag from around his neck until it sat snugly over his nose and mouth. He breathed in the familiar dirt-tinged breaths and refocused on the task at hand. The leash began to pull in his hand as Ivy eyed the needle and backed away.
She sat squat to the ground on four powerful legs and Fallow had a difficult time keeping her in place.
“I'm sorry.” he said, and jabbed the syringe into the soft skin of her underbelly.
Ivy squealed with the sudden shock and pulled him off balance. Boxed in by the crowd, the officers and the chain-linked fences she didn't take more than a step before bumping into something and coming to a stop.
Fallow landed with his face pressed against her hide as the plant-like growth on her back quivered. Although unseen, he knew the air around them had been polluted with her toxins. The vegetation on her back looked painful and alien, but if one traced the roots and veins of the leaves they merged seamlessly with her own bloodline.
Fallow had seen the nightmarish beasts which suffered under a truly parasitic growth, and he'd decided Ivy was more of a hybrid of fauna and flora than anything else. Besides, their backs grew spores and fungi, whereas Ivy sported deep green leaves and a budding rose-like flower.
“Get back!” Fallow shouted, causing the line of people and the one or two pets they had to scramble awkwardly back down the corridor of fences.
“Keep yer aim!” the officer shouted above the confusion.
“No!” Fallow barked, twisting his body so he was between Ivy and the gunmen. “She's fine!”
“She's a wild animal, boy!” he said looking down at him, a pitiful look in his eye.
Fallow ignored him, turning his back on the shotguns and cradling Ivy's scaled chin in his hands.
“You're OK...” he whispered, “You're A-Ok...”
Her eyes, each a large, flat disk easily the size of his palm, opened as he cooed. Even through the rag he could smell the toxin in the air, and he knew some of the crowd would be effected soon. Ivy stopped shaking and he used the moment of clarity to gently slide the needle out of her flesh.
“See, she's fine.” he said, “You can take your face masks off in about thirty seconds.”
“That thing is a menace to the entire centre!” the officer said as his deputies lowered their weapons.
“No more than yours?” Fallow nodded at their own beasts held by their masters by thick chains.
“Domesticated.” the officer said matter of factly, snatching the needle back and testing Ivy's blood.
The two canine beasts were larger than Ivy, but in comparison to their ancestors they were stunted and gaunt. Their fur was matted with blood and charcoal and far too thin to be healthy. They each held his stare behind heavy black muzzles of iron and brass; not assertionally aggressive, just alert and hungry.
The fences ended just beyond this checkpoint, at to either side of the entrance two huge water containers rose towards the sky. Hoses hung loosely from their elevated base, and even if one hadn't seen what these creatures can do, you could but the evidence together pretty easily. Fallow dragged his eyes away from a smouldering bone pile just in time to get the all clear on Ivy's blood.
“You keep that thing under control, boy, or I'll put it down myself.” the officer said, raising his arm towards the guard on the other side of the gate.
A buzzer sounded, and the magnetic seal released, allowing Fallow to pass as the guards and officers eyed him and Ivy, covering their mouths with masks as they grew near. As they got to a desk, the officer behind it fumbled to get his own mask around his face. Fallow smiled, lowering his rag and taking an exaggerated breath inwards.
“Terrible stuff if you get a full wiff.” he said, “But it never hangs around.”
“Good to know...” the officer said as he purposely placed his mask on the corner of the desk. “May I please check your bag, and any weapons you may have on your person.”
He was better spoken than the gate officer, yet his polite manner did little to hide the order in his tone. Getting through the gate was easy however, if your blood was clean, getting everything he scavenged into the tented city was another matter altogether.
Fallow unslung his rifle and placed it on the desk, careful not to point it at anyone; the weapon was well used, and was becoming a little less reliable than he cared to admit. Next he pulled a pick-axe from the make-shift holster at his hip. He smiled at the officer's raised eyebrow as he placed the broken-handled tool beside the gun.
His bag soon followed, and whilst the officer began his search Fallow pulled knife after knife out of his numerous hidden pockets and sheaths. When he'd done, thirteen knives littered any spare space around his bag.
“Is that all?” the officer said, one hand lifting the bag's cover as he'd paused mid action.
“Nearly.” Fallow said, turning to Ivy and dropping once again to one knee.
He leant forward, reaching to either side of her neck and sliding his hands beneath the leaves of her back. His fingers brushed against the leather belt he'd placed there and removed the two small blades from within. As he got back to his feet, he wiped off the drool he'd received from a loving lick across his cheek.
“It's a bit of a problem, I know, but a man needs a hobby.” Fallow said, placing the last two daggers amongst the rest.
“Indeed...” the officer said, “And now onto your other little collection.”
One by one the items of his hunt was scrutinized and arranged on a separate desk, boxed in on Fallow's side by a wire mesh. This blocked him from grabbing at any of the items without crossing the deep red line painted on the ground.
“DO NOT CROSS THE LINE” several signs read all around the ash-marked tent.
“A lot of old technology...” he said in thought, placing the broken and near-unrecognisable items between them. “Are you a historian?”
“Scavenger.” Fallow said plainly. “Ain't got the book-smarts for that sorta thing.”
“Ah yes, but why technology? There's so much more money in... ah.” the officers eyes lit up as he pulled out the small, black pouch from the deepest corner of the bag.
“Now you weren't trying to sneak this passed me, where you?” he grinned a thin, white-lipped grin.
“Not at all.” Fallow's voice betrayed his disappointment.
“Now then...” he continued, emptying the pouch onto the desk with a carefulness somewhat absent from when he handled the old tech.
The golds and silvers of the jewellery glistened in the sunlight as he gingerly fingered them into separate piles.
“A man's gotta eat.” Fallow said flatly.
“And you think that gives you the right to flood the Centre with black market goods?” the officer said, loud enough for those around to hear. “Our economy is a delicate and well organised system, do you know how devastating it could be if people like you devalue our currency by introducing outside wealth?”
Fallow stayed silent, he'd seen this play before.
“I have no choice!” he said, grabbing an empty tray from under the desk, “But to confiscate these items and see them destroyed!”
Fallow bit his lip, but held his tongue as the officer squirrelled away the precious metals and stones into a lock-box safely stashed behind the line.
“Now I have every right to turn you away.” he continued.
But you wont, Fallow thought.
“But I wont, on this occasion.” the officer said, waving at one of his guards, allowing him to pack the none-confiscated items back into the bag.
“So I'm free to enter?”
“You are free to enter. Here is your locker tab; return it to this desk upon your exit of the Centre and we will return to you your weapons.”
“Perfect.” Fallow sighed, shouldering his bag with what deflated energy he could muster.