This story has a different technical style to it, as I think it best suits what it's about. So then, an idea I've been kicking around for a while is figuring out how Cyrus, somebody who doesn't believe in emotions, could manage to acquire a Crobat, a Pokemon that evolves by happiness.
Seeker of Heaven
Part 1 of 3: Zubat
To a zubat, the world is full of sound. The hush of a breeze or the scream of a gale, the calls of other pokemon, the huffs and movements in battle, the gurgling of streams, the spatter of raindrops, the rustle of trees, the tumbling of rocks. And then their sonar abilities, the hard but scattered reflect of rocky mountainside, the softer rolls of the grassy fields, the fleshy hints of humans, pokemon, or animals. But sight, there was nothing. Sound was everything.
It was a night where the sky was endless. She sent a pulse of sonar upward, but got nothing in response. If there were echoes, they would be faint watery ones of clouds. On this cloudless night, she flew with her flock. “I wonder how far you can fly into the sky,” she said. “I wonder what you’d find there.”
“The sky is endless, so don’t try,” an older zubat said.
“Maybe we think that because we can never hear anything from it but clouds,” she replied. “But if you get high enough, you can’t hear anything from the ground. So maybe there is something if you fly far enough into the sky.”
“There isn’t, so just put it out of your mind,” he said again.
“But it sounds like an adventure,” another zubat commented. “Besides, what harm is there in trying?”
“Oh, there is harm in trying,” the older one said. “The ancestors say so.”
“What do they say is up there?” the curious one asked.
Feeling defiant, she flapped her wings a bit harder than necessary. “But I want to know for myself. I’m gonna try.”
“Me too!” someone piped up.
“Me three, and I’m gonna beat you all!” another added.
“Foolish,” the old one said, but a fair number were already trying.
The one who had originally wondered about the other end of the sky took off after her peers. They laughed and joked for several minutes, imagining that some kind of pokemon paradise was at the other end of the sky. And it wasn’t too bad. The winds changed as they continued to climb, but they were used to it. The vibrations of the air would inform them of how they needed to alter their flight.
But then things got tough. It got colder and colder as the air got thinner and thinner. Because of that, it took more effort into pumping their wings to go on. Some dropped out at that point for not being strong enough. And then it got harder and harder to breathe. More dropped out because they didn’t trust air so thin.
Unlike them, she kept going. What was on the other side of the sky? Maybe this was a test of the great sky pokemon to keep lesser fliers from finding out. Feeling that it would let up if she passed through the thin air barrier, she flew on.
Her head grew light. Her wings seemed to be freezing, even though her chest was burning in an effort to keep flying. As she struggled to hear something from her radar, the sounds of the wind grew weak and soft. For a moment, everything seemed to cease.
When she came back to alertness, she wondered why the air was whistling so loudly. It took her a second to realize that she was falling instead of flying. The young zubat stretched her wings out and tried to flip herself upright to slow down. But her whole body felt disconnected from her head. She managed an ungraceful sweep to lower her speed and make sure she wasn’t plunging straight at the ground. And then everything went strange as a cotton mesh enveloped her body. She’d been captured in a net.
“Got another female,” a human female voice said. “Have you got the tag ready, Cyan?”
“In a sec,” a male human responded.
“At least this one isn’t thrashing.” The net got shifted, but the human got a grip on her. The zubat thought about struggling, but still felt exhausted and disappointed. Was she not worthy of flying to the other end of the sky?
“Oh my goodness, look at the poor dear,” another female human said. “She’s got ice crystals all over her body and she’s trembling. But there aren’t any ice pokémon around here.”
“That’s true,” a second male human said. A pulse of radar told her that there were just these four humans, with lots of the human things that were mostly found in cities. The second male came over and touched her chest; he seemed larger and older than the other three. “She is suffering some… I would say that she probably flew too high and passed out.”
How could he know that? The zubat felt ashamed. Even this human knew about her mistake.
“Is there anything we can do for her, Professor Rowan?” one of the females asked in concern.
“We might not have helped by capturing her and putting her under more stress. But, let her rest after we tag her. She should recover just fine on her own.”
The female holding her then passed her off to the male they had called Cyan. Gently, he put a tiny metal clip on her foot. This tagging process was a bit of a mystery to the zubats. Humans did it from time to time, when they captured pokemon just to put on tiny metal clips, then release back into the wild. The tagged ones occasionally talked about being recaptured just to check on the clips. As with many things surrounding human behaviors, it was odd and mysterious.
“Hey, I think I see a bronzor,” one of the females said.
“Really? I want to see it.” The three of them walked off quietly.
Cyan scraped off a bit of the ice on the zubat’s body. “You must have gotten extremely high for this to happen, and to have passed out. And, hmmm… your innate powers are excellent for your kind.” As he spoke, his voice trailed off. But it was never too quiet for a zubat to miss. Then, he put a second heavier clip on her other leg.
A few minutes later, she felt good enough to take back off to land in a tree. Her chest and pride stung, so she didn’t want to rejoin her flock. One of her peers came up to her. “Hey, you all right? I saw you falling, but then you got captured by those humans.”
“Leave me alone,” she said despondently. “I failed the test of the great sky pokemon. I couldn’t make it past the sky.”
“Well, maybe you need a new strategy, or practice,” he suggested, but then flew off when she shook her wings at him.
It was a terrible disappointment.
Click… click… click… click…
As the zubat group gathered in their home cave to rest for the day, there came a steady and monotonous clicking sound. It wasn’t too bad at first, but then it just would not let up. Several of the flock became agitated. “What’s that annoying racket?”
“Is it an enemy?”
“Too regular, but it sure is annoying.”
The female could feel the clicks, on her leg where the second clip was. “I think it’s from this thing the humans gave me.”
“Well make it shut up,” an older male hissed at her. “I won’t be able to sleep with that thing going on and on.”
With the small finger nubs on her wings, she felt the heavier clip. It was smooth, though, and there was no indication of how to stop it from clicking. “I don’t think I can,” she admitted in embarrassment.
“Then get out of here!” another one shouted. “I’m tired and I don’t need some clicking thing bugging me.”
Others in the flock raised their voices in agreement. The constant steady click was too irritating to stay. Sighing, the young female let go of the ceiling. “Okay, I’ll go.” She hoped that someone would stop her, or at least come to keep her company. But they all just grumbled, glad to get rid of the thing on her leg. But she couldn’t escape it.
The sun was coming up. It would burn her skin to be caught outside during the day. But, where could she go? She sent radar queries out. All the major caves around here had a zubat or golbat flock, and they wouldn’t be too happy to hear her either. Where could she sleep?
Then, she located a human town. Celestic, she thought it was called. As she scanned over the place, she noticed that there was a tiny little cave in the center of that town. It was too small for a flock, but a single zubat could find refuge there. From the echoes off the rocks, it seemed that this place had been recently revealed in some rock slide. However it was there; it was shelter and that was good. She flew into the tiny cave and found a spot on the ceiling to settle herself. Maybe once everybody had a good sleep, they would apologize.
In the meantime, she was alone except for the clicking. It was annoying. But maybe if she listened to it as a rhythm, it wouldn’t be so bad. It was just clicks, nothing horrible or dangerous sounding. But to a zubat, sound and smell made up the entire world. An odd unnatural sound like this one…
Click… click… scuff
Her ears pricked as she caught a different sound. Stirring herself from her dozed off state, she focused on it. It was footsteps of humans, for they wore shoes. Two of them. They both smelled to be male. “Stay out here, Cyan. I’ll do this alone.”
“All right, Cyrus.”
The one human came into the cave. Great. She shouldn’t have chosen to sleep in the middle of their town. On second thought, it might have been better to stay under someone’s roof for the day. Humans usually didn’t look up there.
Cyrus went to the back wall of the cave and stopped there for a minute. The zubat listened carefully to his motions, but kept still to appear asleep. Then, the man turned and looked up. “Interesting that I should meet you in this cave, Seeker of Heaven.”
Startled, the zubat shifted her wings and turned her ears towards him. “Huh? How come everybody knows that I tried to reach the other side of the sky?”
“Such ambition and drive in a pokemon is admirable, I guess,” he went on. “I would like to make you stronger, but not in the usual fashion. You may leave if you’re not interested, but please stay if you are.”
“It’s early in the day,” she grumbled. “But okay, if you want a fight…” she let go of the ceiling and righted herself in midair.
But this man Cyrus didn’t do what she expected. Instead of bringing out a pokeball, he brought out a small plastic device, which had some echo hints of electronics. He did not call out any pokemon to help him. Instead, he turned the device on.
A barrage of sound battered her poor ears. She screamed and tried to fly away, but was completely confused about what direction she was facing, what her sonar was saying, where she was, what was going on… her mind did its best to interpret what the sound was, but it was too close to her sonar. All the information it gave was complete gibberish.
Somewhere in the noise, the human was speaking. The zubat couldn’t pick any meaning out of it. Then the impossible happened. The noise itself became hard, clamping down on her head and nearly crushing her. Something small and thin wrapped around her leg, but it scalded her skin much like the touch of the sun. Struggling to get to freedom, even if it was into the burning sunlight, she attempted to escape.
Her body smashed into the rocky surface of the cave. Then the crushing noise began to invade her mind. “Stop it!” she cried.
“Don’t let it take you,” a faint voice whispered, somehow breaking through the chaos.
A second voice joined it. “That thing, the red thread, it is evil.”
“Help me, then,” she mumbled, trembling in pain.
“We were killed to make it,” a third voice said. “And we are weak now.”
The zubat tried, but the noise was overwhelming. It even seemed to crush her heart. If she kept resisting, would it kill her? No, she couldn’t… she didn’t want to die. Her will broke and she gave in to the noise.
And it stopped. The echoes died off, leaving her with a better sound of the small cave she had retreated to. Even that annoying clicking that had driven her from her flock was gone. But for the second time tonight, her body hurt all over with the added trouble of her mind reeling from confusion.
In the return of order, she heard a snap. “Come to me.”
She gasped. There was something about that voice that seemed to light up her mind and her heart. Compelled, she pushed herself off the cave floor and flew a short distance to the source of the voice. Her wings complained about the movement, but she found herself not caring. It was a short flight, at least, to land on the outstretched arm of the human.
Cyrus touched her forehead with his other hand. Normally, she would have bitten a stranger who tried that, but her heart said that he could be trusted. “Here we are, the first survivor of this experiment. I still need to observe your obedience and behaviors for some time, but it seems as though this part of the plan is working.”
Hearing his words, the zubat felt bewildered again. Normally the words of humans came through muddled to her; she didn’t understand everything they said. She didn’t understand everything Cyrus was saying to her now, but she heard his words as clearly as she heard other zubats. “What’s happened to me? Do you understand me too?”
It seemed he didn’t, as he didn’t answer the questions. “Cyan, get me a potion. She got hurt more than I meant for.”
“Yes sir,” the other human said, still sounding muddled. She heard him rustle through a bag, then walk over to them. “Are you sure about this? I mean, I don’t doubt your judgment, but doesn’t a zubat seem a little low-brow for you?”
“I have my reasons,” Cyrus replied, shifting his posture to take the item. “This experiment is risky, but people won’t miss one zubat. If I had taken a less common pokemon, people might question what killed it.”
For a moment, she felt insulted that he would say that. But then something twisted about her heart, like the thin thread that was now tied to her leg. People might miss one dead zubat, but she had survived. That meant that she was special to him, and for that, she ought to be grateful. Yeah, that was a good thought. She had always just been another young zubat in the flock, another mouth to feed, another mind to be reckless. But now she was special to somebody. Thinking on that made her feel giddy.
“I see…” Cyan replied, in an uneasy voice.
How could he not trust Cyrus? She thought of hissing at the ingrate, but then his voice commanded her attention. “I can still make use of her. Come with me, Seeker.”
Accepting the name, the zubat didn’t wince when the healing spray hit her bruised body. She expected to be taken in a pokeball, as that’s what humans did when they took in pokémon. But Cyrus didn’t do that. Instead, he put her in a cage and covered that with a blanket. Now that she was protected from sunburns, he took her outside.
It was a puzzle that filled her mind for a moment. She was not connected to a pokeball, yet she felt strongly that she should listen to Cyrus and do what he said. On her leg, the little red thread simply brushed against her skin. But in her mind, the thread informed her that she need not care. As long as she obeyed Cyrus, things would be perfect.
That was good. Seeker folded her wings at her sides and went to sleep.
Being revived from battle was a nice thing; she wouldn’t be here lying on the ground for hours, defenseless against predators. Seeker’s wings still hurt from hitting the ground and her body hurt from the attack that knocked her out. But Cyrus used another spray potion on her to get her back to feeling well. “All these battles are tough,” she said.
“You get used to it to help your friend,” a riolu said. Now that the battle was over, he wasn’t hostile at all.
There were a few light footsteps from the riolu’s trainer. “Wow, I didn’t know you could fight with a pokemon that’s not in a pokeball. How do you do that?”
“It’s an experiment,” Cyrus said, letting her fly off. But she stayed near him. “There are many ways of doing many things.”
“Is she all right like that?” the girl asked, sounding concerned. “Cause I don’t think the pokecenters would take care of a pokemon not in a ball.”
“It’s fine,” Seeker said. “He’s really really smart.”
“I can handle anything that may come up,” he said, unknowingly agreeing. “Now, Miss?”
“Maylene, sir,” she said. Then she couldn’t seem to resist boasting, “I’m the gym leader’s apprentice.”
Cyrus paid attention to that fact. After a few days of being with him, Seeker noticed that she knew what he was thinking or feeling. He did a lot of thinking that was rapid and really hard for her to understand, but his feelings were only a whisper. “Is that so? I might have guessed it from your style. You seem to be a powerful trainer, Miss Maylene.”
The girl laughed like she had a good wind to carry her wings, if she had wings. “Craig’s even more powerful! He’s the best of the leaders, I think. He taught me everything I know about pokemon and fighting.”
“Noted, although I am certain that you are biased,” Cyrus said, which only made Maylene laugh again. “If you’ll excuse me, it seems I need to do some more work with Seeker.”
“I need to get home myself. Nice meeting you!” She then headed back into town, the paws of her pokemon following her running footsteps.
And then it was the two of them again, alone in a foreign forest. The calls of the wind had a new rhythm and melody because the leaves it passed through were different trees. “I’m sorry,” Seeker said. “I tried really hard. I did! But he was so strong.”
“Come here,” Cyrus said.
She found his outreached hand by sonar and landed there. Once she was settled, he put a device with a cold metal clamp around her neck. It had been intimidating the first time, as it hummed and made strange electrical sounds. But so far, this scanner hadn’t done anything to her.
It beeped, causing her to flick her ears. Cyrus let her fly again as he checked it. “No change, as expected. It does seem counterproductive to only gain energy for evolution by winning. One may need the power more if one is losing.” There were rustles and clinks as he put the device back in his bag. “We have time to do another battle, but there are things I must take care of afterwards.”
“Okay, I’ll win this time,” she said, flying slowly to keep with his pace.
The sky was not responding tonight. Seeker rested on the top of the building, shivering and gasping. Whenever she didn’t get a sonar echo from the sky, she would try again to fly past it. She didn’t seem to be making progress; every time she got up to the cold thin air, she passed out. She had managed to wake back up before hitting the ground, but what if she failed in that? It would only take one failure to be the end of her.
But she thought that there might be a way. It was in her name, after all. Still, she didn’t want Cyrus to find out until she managed to do it. She waited, listening to the sounds of Veilstone City below.
From high above on this tall building, all the sounds tended to blend together into one medley. The lone zubat was used to the forest, but the sounds of this city were becoming a new home. The buildings hummed, the wind gave soft noise, small insects were buzzing and flitting about, humans were walking and talking, pokemon were calling or moving. And every now and then, there would be a lone noise that broke the consistency and called attention to itself: a gleeful shout, a crash of some object falling, a burst of music. A thought that she should be coming back soon.
Cyrus wanted her back? She still felt achy from this attempt, but she took to the air and circled around the building she perched on. A few floors down, she came to a window and landed on its sill. There was an obstacle, a screen that didn’t fully reflect her echo because it had lots of tiny holes. But it had a split down the middle that she could push her way through. It clicked shut after her as she flew into the room.
There were wobbly clinks from where Cyrus was, the sound of metal that had liquid in it. Radar showed that he was working on another one of his devices. It wasn’t in many pieces, so maybe it was done? She landed on the floor near him and turned her ears to the device, trying to get a better understanding of it.
In a few seconds, the sounds of his working stopped. “You stay away from this,” he said, scooping her up in his hand. “I need you to evolve. Hmm?” He got up, holding on to her. As he did so, his other hand brushed along her wings. She felt the heat from that more than usual. “You’ve been flying into the sky again. Then it’s another clear night, is it? You really are ambitious.”
She scrunched herself up. “And you really are smart,” she said, embarrassed. “I’m trying as hard as I can.”
“What kind of spirit does it take to make you want to do that? What kind of flawed idea drives you on?” He set her down on the arm of a chair, puzzled. Maybe even concerned? But before she could feel enough from him to know that, he shut that out. “Not that it would matter if I could understand your answers. I need to finish this repair job and then we have some tests to perform.”
“I’ll do it, and make you proud some day,” she said, saddened that he couldn’t understand her. She was used to living with a large group that always talked to each other. Living like this was lonely.
Seeker tucked her wings around her body, doing her best to keep her warmth in her. This chair she was on, the fabric was rough but soft. Some kind of padding, maybe foam, was underneath the fabric. Close to it, she could smell Cyrus’ scent on it: the oils and flakes from his skin, the clothes he usually wore, a bit of sweat and hair. There was a bed in the room too, but she had noticed earlier that it didn’t smell like him.
As she warmed up, Cyrus went back to working. It wasn’t long before he began talking to her. “This first run wasn’t coming up with the numbers I wanted. The energy drainer works, but only if the operator doesn’t have second thoughts. Now I need to make this harder to tamper with. It may help to further separate the operator from the pokemon. If they can’t manage to distance themselves mentally, then they will need to be distanced physically. I’m going to need a lot more evolution energy to make the red chain and all else that is needed for the project. Especially since the red thread is only a fraction of the power of the chain.”
The red thread. Seeker was feeling a little better, so she pushed herself up. She could reach it with her finger nubs, but the knot on it was tight. That and every time she thought about messing with it, a bellowing thought in her mind told her not to. Otherwise, she didn’t notice it much. Its weight was miniscule and it didn’t get in the way.
“I also need to make sure that the ones who handle the remains won’t talk and won’t be bothered.” It seemed to irritate him that a person would be bothered by something. Whatever he was talking about.
“Is that like when you ask someone to get a flea for you and they keep fussing about your grooming?” she asked. “That irritates me too. I keep myself well groomed.” Thinking on that, she decided to do that to pass time. This ice tended to make her little hairs clump together.
After some time, Cyrus finished his work on the device. He spent a few minutes writing in a notebook, and then put a fabric cover over the device. That seemed to finish that, as he went to a desk to switch notebooks, then came to sit in the chair Seeker was on. While her legs were small, she was able to pull herself forward with her wings so that she wasn’t in the way of his arm.
“I wish they had come up with the scientific process earlier,” Cyrus said, flipping through the notebook. “Myth seems to be a portion falsehood and a portion truth. I don’t want to make myself look like a fool by not testing things, but they make it difficult to do so. We’ll test what we can. Here we are.”
Seeker kept her head up and her ears twisted to hear him best. “What do you want me to do?”
He had his hand on the paper. “By my blood that lies in the thread, let me see the world through your eyes.”
With those words, her mind suddenly felt like it was filled with fog, little water droplets that caused her sonar to go erratic. Flying in fog required great care. Thinking through this fog was odd. There was a thought about being unable to see, so she sent out a pulse of radar. It came back clear and crisp to her. With that settled, there was a thought about flying. She spread her wings, but a moment of confusion caused her to fumble into Cyrus’ lap.
“I’m connected to your mind,” Cyrus whispered as the exact same thought echoed in her head. “We see the world differently. You handle the movement and I’ll lead.” Then there was a thought, his thought, to leave the room through the screen.
Seeker obediently flew to the window and passed through the screen. Twitching her ears, she checked to see if the wind had changed before leaving the building fully. It was a good night to fly: the air was moving reasonably, no precipitation or fog. It was one of those times when it was pleasant just to fly lazily and not worry about things.
Cyrus directed her downward, into Veilstone. Normally she wouldn’t; people didn’t always like a stray zubat flying around on their level. But he wanted to, so she went there. Her radar came back at her more frequently at that level, as more objects were around, more people and pokemon moving about. People reacted to her presence and moved out of her way. Not that they had to, as her radar would let her know when she had to change direction. There was all kinds of other noise, about half of it conversation. She should be able to follow along, but the presence of Cyrus’ mind made it hard to do so.
“Stop. Stay there.”
On that sudden command, Seeker switched how she beat her wings to slow down quickly. There was a conversation here Cyrus wanted to listen to. She noticed that there was an overhang to one of the buildings right there, so she went up and hung from there to rest.
“That building’s an eyesore,” a man said. “Sticks out like a sore thumb with how tall it is.”
“The mall’s tall compared to everything else too,” a woman said.
“Yes, but at least it tries to blend in. The Galactic buildings seem like they were thrown there with no regard for the image of the city.”
“What are you going to do about it?” another man asked. “Their leader’s supposed to be insanely rich; he’s donated all kinds of money to help out the schools and make sure there was a library in every Sinnoh town. People like him.”
That didn’t impress him. “Nobody seems to know how he got that money, just that he does. Craig is having a meeting tomorrow; it might be about kicking those Galactics out of our town.”
“I don’t know if a gym leader should be that powerful,” the woman said. “The mayor listens too much to what he has to say as it is. The government should stay out of the Pokemon League and the league should stay out of the government.”
“He was influential in town before he took over the gym. Been doing good things for years. On the other hand, this Cyrus character just shows up a few months ago, buys up all that land, and then builds that thing at a record pace. What are the spikes and guarded satellites for anyhow?”
“The satellites would be for business communications, obviously. I don’t know about the spikes, though. It is unique.”
“It’s the kind of thing put on to intimidate people.”
Cyrus lost interest in listening in and told her to fly on. Seeker took off and followed his orders to investigate the city, listen to what people were saying. Mostly, he wanted to hear things about Galactic and himself, but there were also times when the gym leader Craig and other apparently important people were being talked about.
“This is a good ability,” Cyrus said. “Being about to listen to the word on the street without them noticing anything more than a zubat. Keeps me from having to interact with them myself.”
But then people started leaving the streets. She couldn’t enter buildings without being noticed as unusual, so Cyrus had her fly just above the rooftops. Not long after she got that order, his mind began to relax. The fog cleared some from Seeker’s mind. As it was, she spent time enjoying the flight. She felt the warm air around her wings, heard the song of the city turned to hushed tones. She nabbed a few insects out of the air to eat and headed out to brush close to some trees.
While it was nice, she felt that Cyrus was falling asleep. His mind was still with hers, passing some of his weary state on to her. But the night was strong and her body didn’t feel tired. Not knowing what would happen, she flew back to the building, to the room he was in. A quick listen revealed that he was still in the chair, slowly falling asleep. Seeker landed on the arm of the chair, snuffled around to find his hand, then gently bit his thumb.
The fog fully left her mind as he stirred in response. He took a deep breath, petting her head. “Will have to be careful about how long I do this in the future,” he mumbled, then put his hand back down and went to sleep. Seeker waited a minute, then went back outside to catch bugs. Trying to break through the sky made her hungry.
A couple of hours later, Cyrus was back awake and working.