Augusta and Meredith giggled as they watched Roberto neatly drop to the ground under Gina’s tackle, sliding across the tile floor. He bounced back to his feet, grabbing Gina’s ankle and pulling her from her hovering position. There was an audible grunt from Gina as she hit the ground, and she turned to glare at Roberto.
“That hurt!” she hissed loudly. Since the four had been together, Regina had stopped using telepathy as much and spoke more. It helped that her voice had also changed with her evolution—it was now a silky smooth soprano. But mostly it was because Augusta didn’t like being spoken to with telepathy and once Gina’d gotten into the habit of speaking to her she’d kept doing it. The scientists all thought that it’d been Roberto and Augusta that had improved her speech, and the four kept it that way.
“Oh, like it didn’t hurt the other day when you used a Whirlwind move and tossed me into the wall.” Roberto rose to his feet, dusting some of the floor’s dirt off his knees.
“Oh, and I’m guessing the Thunder Wave you used last week was just a tickle, hmm?” Gina pulled herself to her knees, holding her shoulder.
“She’s got a point,” Meredith said, looking up from her book. “Gina was still twitchy an hour later.”
“Well, we can only get better at our moves if we use them more often, yes?” Roberto shrugged. “It’s not like we’re really trying to hurt each other. It’s just playing, right? Ever since we figured out we can do all these cool moves, we’ve only been playing with each other to see how they work.”
Gina nodded. “I guess so. But no more play battling today for me, okay? My arm hurts.”
Augusta set her book down—her reading skills had improved greatly and she was on level with Meredith nowadays. “I’ll play, then.”
“Thanks!” Roberto got into a crouching stance and waited for Augusta to do the same, Then with a leap, they started battling. Roberto deliberately pulled his punches, as Augusta wasn’t the best of the four at fighting, but she was good in her own right, calling up little bursts of flame with a thought and flicking them at Roberto.
“Roberto’s probably gonna evolve in a few months,” Gina said, sitting down besides Meredith. “He’s getting really good with the moves he knows and likes the idea of becoming a Pikachu. He’s only known us for two years, but he’s really secure. And boy, he likes to battle.”
“He’s been teaching all three of us girls to fight, hasn’t he?”
“Yah, but he’s the first one to start doing it. I know all the field books tell us that Pokémon like to battle each other a lot, but we just didn’t.”
“I’m not a fighter,” Meredith pointed out. “I really only battle you and Augusta and Roberto when he asks me to.”
“Well, Eevee aren’t known for being fighters—most people keep them as pretty pets outside. The few trainers that do battle them don’t do it roughly.”
“Well, I never want to evolve. I’m happy just the way I am.”
Gina playfully ruffled Meredith’s curls. “And we’re happy with you the way you are too.”
The elder scientist handed over her notes from the last week to the head of her team. “They’re starting to form into a team, sir,” she said, looking at the desk instead of him. He was one of the higher ups in the program, and by default she deferred to him. “The Butterfree hybrid–she calls herself Regina…”
“What they call themselves is of no concern to me, Doctor Morgan.” The head scientist glared at her, and she squirmed uncomfortably.
“But wasn’t it an important step in their development that they have names? There was a big fuss when Meredith informed us many years ago with what she named herself.”
“It might have been important then in development, but it’s of no concern to me in the long run. I’ve referred to them by their root forms most of the time, and I will keep doing that. Names no more make them human than putting them in clothing. I’m worried about the success of this program, doctor, not about what silly little identification tags they’ve given each other.”
“I apologize, sir.”
“The Butterfree hybrid is speaking English properly and often now, due to the others having been placed with them. The four of them enjoy mock-battling, but don’t try to hurt each other in the process. The Pichu hybrid appears to be almost ready to evolve—I expect it to happen within a week or two at most.”
“Good, good. As soon as possible, but do not force it on him. Natural evolvers must take their time.” He tapped a sheet in front of him. “This one, though…Hybrid 22-19D. She is still unevolved.”
“She doesn’t appear to want to, sir. At first we were hoping she would pick one of the natural evolved forms, but it appears she will do neither. She wants to remain Eevee.”
“She will be evolved by exposure, then. She will not be a good source later on if she remains unevolved. Her hips are slim and she doesn’t appear to have the strength to supply us with the forms we will need later.”
“Are we still going forth with that plan, sir?”
“It is the best one. She was the only one of our hybrids who came out with the highest functioning systems. No other Eevee hybrid we’ve created survived long enough out of the tubes for us to test, except for Eevee Hybrid 36-64F. I want her evolved within the week, doctor. She will become fertile before then, and it is much harder to stone evolve a post pubescent. We found that out with Jigglypuff Hybrid 65-85A, hence her remaining unevolved.”
“We were not expecting her to grow up so fast.”
“Well, we know better now. Have her evolved before your next report, Doctor Morgan.”
“Yes, sir.” The scientist picked up her notes and headed out.
Meredith was woken up by stirrings in the lab. The four were all asleep—they always took a nap after lunch. She looked around to see Augusta, curled up with her tails around her. Roberto was leaning against the wall, and Regina was at the table, head on a book. Meredith had always been a light sleeper. She turned to see one of the scientists standing in the doorway, holding a clipboard and a blue box. She didn’t say anything though—she normally never spoke to a scientist first.
The slim female looked down at her clipboard before looking up. “Meredith?”
“Come here, dear. We need to perform some tests.”
“The others?” she said, pointing to her friends.
“No, just you. Come on.”
Meredith rose to her feet and the scientists held a hand out to take hers. “Just tests?”
“Just tests.” They headed out and down the halls until they reached another room. Two more scientists were standing there.—one was carrying a large box and the other was carrying was appeared to be a muzzle of some sort. Meredith sulked—they muzzled her a lot when they did tests to her. As it was, she’d got used to it. She would have struggled but struggling made things worse. As the straps were placed around her head, she gagged on the metallic bar slid into her mouth. Muzzling was a horrible act. But ever since Augusta had gotten frightened and bitten one of the scientists when she was getting a checkup, they’d all had to wear muzzles or some restraining device.
Once she was in the muzzle, they led her past the big metal door into a rather bare room. There was an examination table in the center and three chairs around it, as well as a scale. This she was used to. What she wasn’t used to was seeing the device with it—a large wall mounted device with three empty slots for holding something.
She wasn’t nervous at first—they conducted the same weight, height, and other examinations they did nearly every month. It wasn’t until they started strapping her onto the table by her ankles and wrists that she began to worry. She started struggling, whimpering at the tightness. None of the scientists paid much attention to her—the first kept scribbling on her clipboard and the other two made sure she was in securely.. The second one—he was male—looked at the first. “Should we keep her clothing on her?” he asked.
“No. It gets destroyed in the process. Worry about that later.”
“But she’s strapped down.”
“Clip them off then. Don’t unlock her.”
The second scientist pulled out a pair of scissors and clipped off Meredith’s dress, leaving her nude as he pulled the fabric away. They’d never cut her clothes before—just pulled them off. She struggled harder, wondering what was going on.
The scientists put on orange tinted glasses and the third scientist pulled on latex gloves before he opened the box he was holding, pulling out a glowing sheet. He opened it up to reveal three large glowing blue stones, which he mounted into the device. With a terrified gasp, Meredith recognized them as Water Stones—she’d seen them in the guide book. And Water Stones were used to evolve Pokémon that didn’t evolve naturally. Eevee, unless they opted into being Umbreon or Espeon, used stones to evolve.
“How long will it take?’ the third said, pushing codes into the device before placing it near Meredith’s chest.
“She’s twelve, yes? With the last one, it took about five hours. It’ll probably take as long, and then we’ve got the observations afterwards. So at least six hours before we can return her. We’ll just keep her overnight—it’s best that way.”
As the machine clicked on and she felt the energy of the three blue stones surge into her, she started to sob softly. This wasn’t a test. They’d lied to her. They were evolving her against her will.
“Wonder what’s taking so long,” Augusta said, chewing on the tough jerky that had been brought for dinner. There’d been more at the start—fruit, raw vegetables, water—but they’d always saved the jerky for last so they could sit around and chew on it while reading or conversing. Meredith hadn’t been there for dinner, but they’d put her portion to the side for when she got back.
“It’s probably some kind of training,” Regina said, ripping off a piece with her teeth. She had fairly sharp front canines. “Like when I learned to use Sleep Powder, the scientists took me off for the evening and performed all kinds of tests on my wings to figure out how it worked. She’ll be back in one piece and fighting fit, probably within an hour.”
“Cool,” Roberto said, tossing a stray hair from his eyes. “I want her to be here when I evolve into a Pikachu. I’m gonna do it tonight—I think I can do it all by myself.”
But Meredith wasn’t back, and Roberto started getting antsy. Finally, just as the scientists were locking down things for the night, he stood up.
“She’s not gonna be back till tomorrow. I’m getting this over with. After all, she saw Regina evolve, so she doesn’t have to see me. I’ll show her when she gets back.”
“If you want,” Regina said. She and Augusta sat on top of the table in the room and watched. “You can stay dressed, yes?”
“Yah. From what I read, it’s more like a voluntary shifting. Not like your having to spend a month encased in a shell. I just have to concentrate hard” Roberto bent over so that he was up on his hands and feet, stretching forwards. About five minutes after he scrunched his eyes tight, he started evolving.
The changes started at Roberto’s ears. They stretched out, as if pulled by an invisible force, into thin tapered shapes. The black that surrounded them faded into yellow everywhere but the tips. The chubbiness in his cheeks smoothed out, making the red spots seem to shrink into his face. His muzzle elongated just a little to give him a more mature look. The small black tail grew four times as long and the blackness completely faded away, leaving a brown tint at the base that faded into a yellow for the remaining length. The single angle in his tail developed into four distinct bends. In the gap between his shorts and shirt, the girls could see two brown stripes appear along his back. The final changes came in his arms and legs—he bulked up slightly as his muscles grew bigger and his hands and feet grew larger to support his bulk. It took about thirty minutes overall, and when he was done, he gave himself one good shake from head to tail and a crackle filled the air, as if full of static electricity. He looked up with his black eyes and grinned brightly. “So, how do I look?”
“Oh, how handsome!” Augusta clapped her hands in approval.
“It suits you. You look older now,” Regina nodded in approval.
Roberto smiled. “I can’t wait to show Meredith my new look in the morning.”
That morning, when the front door opened for breakfast, Regina was the first to see the trembling shape that was also pushed into the room with the tray. The hybrid—for it was obviously one—stood at the door, shaking.
“Meredith’s back!” she cheered, fluttering over to grab breakfast and greet her. However, she stopped short, hovering about three inches off the floor, and went silent. The hybrid had her head buried in her arms, and she sank to the floor crying loudly.
“Hey, Meredith, I evolved last night!” Roberto leapt to his feet. “Wanna s…” His voice faded off as he saw Meredith by the door.
“What’s wrong?” Augusta looked up, rubbing her eyes.
“Something’s wrong with Meredith,” Roberto replied. He creeped forward, holding out a hand. “Meredith? You okay? What happened?”
Meredith sniffled, looked up, and then flung herself into Roberto’s arms. However, it was not the brown, bouncy, fluffy Meredith that had left yesterday. This Meredith had a thinner, sleek face. Her blue skin was smooth, cold, and clammy to the touch, and her once slim and pointed ears were blue tinted and webby, splayed out from the sides of her head. The soft brown curls that had fallen wildly around her face were now a deep blue, wavy and falling around her like a curtain until it curled up a little at the end like a waterfall. The big fluffy tail had been turned into a long, ridged tail that slimed off and then split at the end like a mermaid’s tail. Around her neck hung a small carved stone, shaped like a raindrop. She looked up with tilted black eyes full of tears.
“In the name of Mew,” Roberto whispered, pulling Meredith’s to his chest. "She's a Vaporeon."
“What did they do?” Augusta leaned over, reaching out a hand to touch Meredith.
Regina glared at the now-shut door. “They evolved her. They evolved her against her will.”
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