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Thread: Seeker of Heaven (PG-13)

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    Default Seeker of Heaven (PG-13)

    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.

    “Nothing.”

    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.

    Click… click…

    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.

    Click… click…

    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.”

    “Resist it.”

    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.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  2. #2
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    Part 2 of 3: Golbat

    By the time Seeker had evolved into a golbat, Cyrus had picked up a few other pokemon: a magikarp, a murkrow, and a sneasel. But he had gotten them the normal way, with pokeballs and her help. He hadn’t even nicknamed them, and he’d given the magikarp to someone else. Initially, that seemed to mean she was the leader of their group, and special at that.

    Convincing the sneasel of that was like trying to fly through a wall. “It all comes down to numbers and facts, yes?” he said. “I am more valuable to the team because my kind is low in numbers. Your kind is as common as dirt and as weak as grass. You have nothing more than small fangs.” He swung his claws, stopping right before he actually hit her. “I have sharp large claws and I move quicker than either of you. So you will listen to me or I will kill you.”

    “Claw, claw!” Murkrow cheered.

    Seeker could actually see now, but she didn’t think it was that useful. She got more information from sound and scent. Still, it was intimidating to have those claws so close to her eyes. “It’s not about that.”

    “It’s not, it’s not,” the murkrow cheered.

    “Well I’ll make it about that.” He took a step towards her.

    “Fight, fight!”

    Seeker flew up in the hallway, but a sharp clarity from Cyrus rung in her mind. “Oh, not now. He’s going to talk and we mustn’t make a ruckus.”

    “Ruckus, ruckus!”

    “Shut up, you brainless bird,” Sneasel hissed, making a mock swipe at him.

    “Oh poo, I was having fun,” Murkrow said, dispirited. He landed on a rod that was on the wall.

    On the stage, Cyrus stopped in front of a stand with a microphone. The people in the audience cheered, unseen by the three pokemon. “People of Galactic, thank you for coming to hear me today,” he said. “I mean to talk to you about our future, but first, our present.”

    “Present?” Murkrow asked, interested.

    “No, not a present,” Seeker said. “He means right now.”

    Sneasel snickered. “See, even she’s not that stupid.”

    “I am not stupid,” she said.

    “Says the ‘mon who’s obsessed with a human,” he countered in condescending tones. “I ought to just kill the both of you and make the world a better place.”

    “I am not obsessed,” she said, trying to stay calm. Cyrus didn’t want his speech interrupted and she wouldn’t be the one to do that. From observing his thoughts, she was figuring out how to stay calm.

    “This world is flawed,” Cyrus was saying. “It was not always so. At the very beginning, there was just the flow of time and the expanse of space. Everything worked as it should and it was perfect. If it stayed that way, it would have remained so. What changed was the introduction of spirit.”

    “Do you believe that?” Sneasel asked. “He is always on your mind. And you pay attention to him so much when he’s the most distant trainer I’ve ever seen.”

    “My mind is connected to his by the red thread,” she said.

    “This vague thing they call spirit, what is it? It is said to be the blend of intelligence, willpower, and emotion that makes us who we are. It is a comforting thing to believe, but I am here to tell you that it is a falsehood to believe in it. These things do not make us strong, especially what they call emotion. Emotion makes us weak, leads to foolish decisions. It leads to pain. Emotions make people believe that they are the most real, the only one that matters. Then willpower drives them to conflict with those who do not agree, and intelligence gives them the means to hurt the other as much as possible. This leads the other to seek revenge, which the first will retaliate also in revenge, in a never ending cycle. This is why you suffer so much through life, because of the spirit that people tell you is a gift you should cherish.”

    “I’d hate to be connected to that mind,” Sneasel said, scratching his head.

    “He is very smart,” Seeker argued. “And he wants to make things better. If you serve him well, then he’ll treat you well too.”

    “Pfft, if he’s going to treat me like a machine, then I’ll treat him that way too,” he said, the last part coming out in a snarl.

    “How do you even know it’s red?” Murkrow piped up. “I thought you bats were blind.”

    “I was told it was red. I can see, though.”

    There were clinks as the bird shuffled his feet to move down the bar. “Really? So what color is that curtain?” He pointed a wing across the narrow space.

    She looked over there, blinking her eyes. “Dark? I see dark and light. I don’t really know what red means.”

    “Aw, that’s sad,” he said, turning a caw almost into a coo. “If you can’t see color, then you can’t see how wonderful all the shiny things in the world are.”

    Seeker twitched her ears. “I prefer how the world sounds.” Like the way the curtain shuffled when moved, or the hushed breaths of the audience listening to the speech. And especially Cyrus' voice.

    “So who told you it was red?” Sneasel asked.

    “I don’t really know,” she admitted. “But Cyrus has said it was red too.”

    “Pathetic.”

    “I will now tell you why I have gathered all of you in this long effort,” Cyrus said, still addressing his audience. “We seek to remake the world at its very foundations. All of the research we have done is a search for a way to call on a legendary pokemon: Palkia, the master of space. We will bring it into this world and then take control of it through use of the red chain, an artifact I am working hard to reproduce. With Palkia listening, we will borrow its power to recreate the world from a flawed sorrowful state into a perfect peaceful form. We will banish pain and suffering from the world by removing the source of it. This world will be for you, Team Galactic! We shall be free of the crippling spirit and become perfect beings ourselves!”

    This was met with a thunderous applause and many agreeing cheers. The sound of it was overwhelming, but not in a bad way. As it reached even into her bones, she felt proud that so many were going to help Cyrus reach his heaven.

    “What’s a palkia?” Murkrow asked.

    “Beats me,” Sneasel said. “What’s this red chain? Is it like your red thread?”

    That worried her. “Yes. It’s supposed to be more powerful.”

    And Sneasel laughed at that. “Oh, so it needs to be more powerful to replace you with a more powerful pokemon? Because you’re pathetic.”

    Fighting back a desire to bite his precious claws off, Seeker stayed in the air. “I’m sure he’ll still want my help.” A thought came to her. “He wants us to go out and greet him when he comes over here.”

    “I’m not going to be some groveling pet,” Sneasel said.

    “What, for presents of shiny things?” Murkrow asked. “Shiny!” He then left the bar and flew onto stage. It was miraculously on cue, so Seeker followed him out. Although she knew it wasn’t for presents, she also knew that Murkrow would forget about that in a couple of minutes when he spotted the next shiny thing he could check out. Sneasel came out on stage, but did not budge from just past the curtain.

    After the show of meeting them, Cyrus recalled Murkrow and Sneasel. Seeker couldn’t be called away, but most people here were used to her flying around after him in this building. He didn’t pay her heed until they got to the teleporter. Once they transferred to the deserted lobby, a bubble of glee emerged in Cyrus. “They believed it,” he said, in quiet words as if he didn’t want anyone other than her finding out. “They think the perfect world will be for them, with them. But it won’t.”

    “What will it be for?” Seeker asked. Of course, he couldn’t answer. She sighed. “And what is a palkia?”

    “We’re going out for a little while,” he said, speaking normally and walking briskly to the front door. She followed after him. “I’ve won over most of Veilstone with your assistance, but Craig is still speaking out against Galactic. Convincing him directly isn’t working well, but I think I have a way.”

    “Yes, I’m helpful,” she said, closing her eyes as she flew through the door he held open for her. The sun no longer hurt her skin, but its brightness washed out her vision so much that this new sense was truly worthless. “And you don’t have to replace me.”

    They passed through the city streets. Seeker flew just above the heads of people so that they didn’t worry about bumping into her. On the other hand, Cyrus didn’t bother to move out of anyone’s way. He expected everyone to move out of his way. For the most part, they did so without being told. Was it because he was inconsiderate? No, it was because he was that important and powerful.

    Seeker lowered her ears briefly, but had to put them back up to listen to her radar. Right as she thought that he was inconsiderate (of her feelings too), there had been a little sharp hot pain from the red thread and a dull ache in her mind. But once the right thought went through, both were gone. It could be because thread was bad; that made her head hurt again. No, it was just some weird incident. The red thread connected her to him, and so it was good.

    At this point, a scent distracted her from the thread. It was mostly a meaty smell of human food, but a hint of berries in the mix. There were some restaurants around here and she had smelled them before. Now the smells made her feel hungry. Was he taking her along to get some lunch? He usually took his meals in his room or office. They were things that weren't appetizing to her, quite bland smells.

    Cyrus stopped outside one of the restaurants. “Good afternoon, Miss Maylene.”

    There was a soft pat as the girl turned to him. She wasn’t wearing shoes? That struck Seeker as odd, as nearly every time she heard a human walking, it was with the sound of shoe steps. “Oh, Cyrus. Good afternoon.” She didn’t sound as cheerful as before, but she was trying to be. “What are you doing here? Sometimes I see your Golbat around at night, but I don’t see you a lot.”

    “I have work to do almost constantly, running my business,” he said. “What are you doing here?”

    “Just hanging around,” she said, but the pace of her heart and the scent of her sweat suggested that the question made her nervous.

    “Are you hungry?” Cyrus asked, although he seemed to know the answer. “Do you have any money to get a meal?”

    This made her embarrassed. “I’m okay, really.” But then her stomach growled, possibly at the point where Cyrus could hear.

    “I see. Would you care to join me for lunch here today? Seeker and I would like some company.”

    “We would?” Seeker asked, confused. Then she realized that he was treating them to a special lunch. “Oh yes, we would!”

    Her stance shuffled. “Are you sure? This place is pricy.”

    That didn’t seem to bother him. “It’s supposed to be worth it. It’s no big deal to me. You may have whatever you wish, my treat.”

    “Really? Thanks, Cyrus. I’ll repay you someday, somehow.”

    “It’s fine.” He then held the door for both Maylene and Seeker.

    It was a great meal. Cyrus didn’t get much for himself: some kind of fish, a salad of greens, and egg drop soup. For Seeker, he ordered a chewy patty that was made of mixed berries, mealworms, and oats. Probably some other things as there were tastes and scents that she couldn’t identify. But it was really good, one of the best meals she had ever had. And a lot less work than catching bugs herself. Maylene had two pokemon with her, the riolu and a meditite, so they got similar dishes.

    As for Maylene, she had more than all the rest of them combined. She had the egg drop soup and greens salad too. As well as a bowl of noodles, a shrimp roll, steamed dumplings, a fruit and cheese salad, grilled beef on skewers, and sweet red bean buns. “Wow, this place really is good!” she said as she was finishing off her last plate. “Worth its price, don’t you think? Are you sure you don’t want a bean bun?”

    “I’m sure,” he said. “And it is worth the price for an occasional treat. Do you eat out much?”

    That caused her to stop before starting on the last bun. “No, not unless Craig takes me. And we usually just go out for ramen if we do. I eat lunch with him most days, but,”

    “He’s off at a league meeting, right?” Cyrus asked. Maylene seemed amazed, but Seeker wasn’t. She’d been helping Cyrus trail Craig and Maylene, even during the day. “What about your father? Does he take you out?”

    “No,” she said, now with bitter tones. “I hardly see him. He’s either working or at the casino, only coming home when he needs to sleep. I buy all the groceries and things with what I can earn from battles and some from Dad. He always tries to get out of giving me money, or asks me for more to buy drinks. Most days, I leave these two with Craig, cause they’ll get what they need there.”

    “So you guys live at the Gym?” Seeker asked.

    “Pretty much,” the meditite said. “Though we’d rather live with her.”

    “And protect her from her father,” the riolu said, fighting off a snarl at the thought. “Not that he ever hits her, but if he does cross that line, I’m gonna slam into him so hard, he’ll feel it into next year.”

    “That’s unfortunate,” Cyrus said.

    That made Maylene embarrassed again. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to be a complainer when you’ve been so nice to me. Thank you.”

    “I was simply concerned about you,” he said, although Seeker didn’t detect any concern about her in his thoughts. “Why don’t you move in with Craig? As you’re his apprentice, I’m sure there would be no problems.”

    “I hadn’t thought about that. I really don’t want to impose on anyone.”

    “It would be something to consider.”

    -+-

    The sky was not returning her sonar. But Seeker just crouched on the rooftop of the Galactic building, not feeling like trying tonight. After so long of flying so high, she didn’t feel like she was making any progress. She always blacked out and plummeted back to Earth, with ice crystals coating her wings. And he tended to notice, feeling disappointed.

    She wanted to impress him and she hoped that finding what was past the sky would do so. But she hadn’t done that and so it was hard to get Cyrus’ attention. Every night, he seemed to be working hard, building all kinds of machines in order to get his red chain. He talked to her at times, but it was always about his machines, his plans, and his dreams. Rarely did he talk to her about her, and when he did, it was about what she did for him in letting him eavesdrop on Veilstone.

    Veilstone. It had been so fascinating and wonderful when she’d first come here as a zubat, but its music didn’t make her feel happy now. Nothing much made her happy. The sneasel would tease her about it and she’d snap at him. At least that usually got him to be sent away. Not sure of what else to do, Seeker flew down into the city.

    As it was early in the night, the streets were active. The areas around the shopping mall and the casino were particularly popular, with people and pokemon out talking, laughing, play-fighting. Everyone seemed happy, keeping her from staying on one spot for long. Why could they all be happy? Why could they all have friends that talked with them instead of at them? Was she doing something wrong in trying to fly past the sky, and so the sky god was punishing her? It made sense she didn’t want and she wished the god would at least tell her it was so, because then she’d know not to try.

    Near the gym, she heard a familiar voice. Seeker flew to behind the building and found Maylene practicing with several adults and pokemon. She listened for a while as the girl managed to beat a woman who, in the golbat’s vague sight, seemed to be twice the size of her. From the sound of things, she knew they were all barefooted. Maybe they had some reason.

    “Hey, it’s you again,” a voice said.

    Seeker twisted her ears and picked up an unfamiliar pokemon. He had some steel on his body, which was odd as she was used to steel pokemon being all metal. “You know me?”

    “Yes, Seeker.” He bowed. “It’s me; I was the riolu with Maylene. I evolved into a lucario.”

    “Oh, you,” she said. “I didn’t recognize the sound of you. But you do smell about the same.”

    He didn’t seem bothered. “It’s all right. You seem different too. Last time I saw you, you were a little sad. But now you’re very sad. Why is that?”

    Knowing that someone wanted to listen to her made her feel a little better. She landed on a windowsill of the gym and held her wings close round her body. “It’s Cyrus. He’s busy with something. I don’t entirely understand it, but he works on it all the time. Back when I was still a zubat, he made time every night to take me out for a walk, and battling others. We don’t ever do that now.”

    “That is bad,” Lucario said, patting her foot. “I guess it must be hard since you’re nocturnal and most humans aren’t.”

    “That’s not it,” she said. “He says he doesn’t believe in sleep, so he takes small naps of a couple hours each in between working on things. This project is taking up all his waking hours.”

    “So you don’t like that he pays more attention to it than you?”

    The red thread seemed to heat up, so she scrunched up further. “It’s not quite that. I need to get better before I really deserve…” no, that didn’t seem right. That’s what Sneasel teased her about all the time. “I mean, I worry about him. He works so hard even though he has all sorts of people there to help him. Like me, if he’d just ask.”

    “Do you try helping him anyhow? I help out Maylene a lot, especially with her training. We spar a lot, and that makes us both happy.”

    He seemed quite happy. Seeker felt jealous and wondered if she should not talk to him. “I can’t work on machines, though. I don’t know anything about them.”

    “Hey, it’s Seeker,” Maylene said, her footsteps shifting the grass. “I was wondering where you and Cyrus were. I bet he’s working, huh?”

    “Always working,” she said.

    “How do you know one bat from another?” one of the men asked.

    “She always has that red thread on her leg,” Craig answered. He had some active device in his hand; Seeker heard its faint sounds. What was he doing?

    “Why’re you taping her?” Maylene asked.

    “I’m curious about something. I know someone in Kanto who knows about pokemon like her and a video’s easier than trying to explain it.” Craig came closer. Seeker leaned away from the sound of his voice; it was odd to get all this attention from humans she didn’t know that well. “You can hang around now, as long as there’s no trouble. Come on, guys, next match!”

    The adults moved away, but Maylene stepped closer. “What kind of accessory is that thread? I don’t think I’ve seen it in the store.”

    “Don’t touch it,” Seeker said. But as the girl came closer, she decided it was better to leave then.

    -+-

    What did she have to do to impress him? To make him happy to have her around? Cyrus didn’t have strong feelings often, so they were readily noticed by Seeker. If she could just feel him being happy on something she did, then she’d know that he really cared about her. But now he was paying so much attention to this red chain project, to replace her with Palkia. Some days it didn’t seem worth the effort to even try.

    But she kept trying. Today, she was following him through Veilstone again. He was talking to people, something that had to do with keeping up an image as a trustworthy figure in the local community. He was calm as usual, but under the surface, there was uncertainty. People kept saying, “It’s odd that your golbat hasn’t evolved yet. She’s always with you, isn’t she?”

    And he would have this mild frustration that never lasted long. “She’s been sad for a little while. I’m trying to cheer her up with this walk.” But that wasn’t the purpose at all.

    Seeker wondered if something was wrong with her that was making Cyrus look bad. That was not what she wanted. But she didn’t know quite how to evolve again. She could remember the wild golbats saying that the last evolution was something special. One would just know when the time was right. As it seemed that might make him happy, she wanted to evolve again. But what exactly did the wild golbats mean?

    In an unusual course, Cyrus went up to the gym and entered. Within seconds, they were greeted by Maylene. “Good afternoon Cyrus! And you too Seeker. Are you here to challenge Craig?”

    “Not today,” he said. “I would like to speak with him.”

    “Hi Seeker,” Lucario said. “How are things?”

    “Not that great,” she said.

    “He’s got a challenger right now,” Maylene said to Cyrus’s comment. “But it should be over in a few minutes; Craig’s much too strong for this guy.”

    “I see. And how have you been doing lately?”

    Her mood brightened. “Great! I talked with Craig about what you said, and he said it was fine if I live here with him. He even made me one of the gym trainers, so my pokemon get to fight a lot of strong teams and we get more money for it.”

    “That’s good,” Cyrus said, smiling for her. Why would he smile for her? He wasn’t even really happy about it, only a little pleased that he had her support. Seeker would be happy to get a smile from him, even though she wouldn’t see it, only feel it through the red thread. “I suppose I do have one question you might be able to answer.”

    “Really? I’ll try, but Craig would know better.”


    “I think you would know. It’s about pokemon that evolve through happiness, like your lucario here and my golbat. Seeker’s been sad for a few days now.”

    “Has she?” Maylene said, sounding a little sad in sympathy. “Why?”

    “I don’t know exactly why. I’m worried about her and I’m trying to find ways to cheer her up.” He wasn’t really worried, except about his own image. Seeker nearly glowered at him for that, but the red thread fought that off before she could do more than think about it.

    “Yeah. Well you could have a nurse check on her and see if she’s not sick or something, in case it’s something more than just being sad. That’d be a little hard cause she’s not in a pokeball, but they should be able to do something. And maybe you should go on a walk with her at night. I see her by herself sometimes, so maybe she’s lonely.”


    “That might help.” He was disappointed that she didn’t have any extra insights, but not revealing it in his words.

    “Oh, there was one time when I was out with him, when he was a riolu. I found a Carbos drink in the bushes and I thought about selling it, because they’re expensive. But it was still good, so I gave it to him to drink. And he was really happy about that! I guess they taste good, or maybe they know it makes them stronger.”


    “What are you doing here, Cyrus?”
    Craig said in a booming voice, one that suggested that he wasn’t happy to see them there.

    “I wanted to speak with you and this was the best time I had to find you,” Cyrus replied, calm on the surface. But he had a flicker of anger at Craig’s tone.

    “The gym has to stay open. But I can meet with you in my office for a few minutes. Maylene, call me if any other challengers come.”

    “Okay, Craig!”

    Seeker and Cyrus followed Craig to the back of the gym, occasional shuffles sounding as panels were slid out of the humans' way. A medicham was in there, humming in some form of meditation. After sliding the door shut, Craig said, “Now what’s on your mind?”

    It was about various civic issues, things that Cyrus was interested in because it helped his businesses or it built his image as a good person. Seeker found a spot on the ceiling she could hang from and stayed there. While the humans talked, she listed and felt out her trainer’s feelings, what few came out of his calm chill. Most of it this afternoon was friction with Craig. They both had different ideas about what to do on many things. Cyrus kept cool and defensive, but Craig kept trying to incite him.

    “On an unofficial note, what kinds of things do you do to keep a pokemon happy?” Cyrus asked after his business was finished.

    “Treat ‘em right,” Craig said in a challenging tone. “Pay attention to them and don’t let them get depressed like your golbat over there.”

    “I treat her well,” Cyrus said, with an ember of anger finally showing. But not in his voice. “I’ve been concerned about her lately, but I got into pokemon training later than most people. I’m not entirely sure what to do.”

    “I don’t specialize in either of her types, so I wouldn’t know that much. I can tell something’s wrong with her, given how she holds herself and how she flies aimlessly at night.”


    Well Cyrus didn’t always fly with her so she didn't have something to aim for. Seeker wondered if she ought to try just looking happy. That would keep her from making him look bad, which could help.

    “I’d like to know why you’ve been taking an interest in Maylene,” Craig said to change the subject.

    “I’ve been concerned about her too,” Cyrus said. “She seems like an exceptional person and it is regrettable how a community can ignore someone like that in need.”

    “Well I don’t mind looking after one of my students, as that whole situation was holding her back. But you now, I can’t see why you would go out of your way to lend a girl a hand, unless you had other intentions about her.”


    At that unstated accusation, Cyrus’ anger flared up as the strongest emotion Seeker had felt from him yet. His restraints were pushed to the point where they buckled, but didn’t break. “It is nothing inappropriate, I assure you,” he said, but past his words, there was a thought that it might be easier to kill Craig than continue trying to gain his acceptance.

    The thought was locked down quickly, but Seeker still noticed.

    -+-

    It was a rainy night. The insects were keeping low and most pokemon were also under shelter. Not Seeker. Although it made her wet, she flew over Veilstone, thinking, searching. Cyrus had gotten her some treats lately: more of those bug and berry patties, as well as power drinks like a Calcium. They did make her feel a little better, but she wasn’t sure if it meant that he cared. Or if she was really happy with those things. Did she deserve them?

    Why was he even trying? She knew why he wanted her to evolve: if she was a crobat, then people would approve of him and think that he was a great person. For now, people generally liked him, but her being a powerful golbat made some wonder if there was something he was hiding, something bad.

    But he was a good person! She was pretty sure of that, as if she wondered otherwise, the red thread would correct her thoughts. It was hard to think of why he was good sometimes. Sure, he was intelligent and he made incredible devices. But then… what was there? He did want to change the world, or remake it to be better, or something. In that, there was something he seemed to hide from everyone. But that didn’t matter. Cyrus wanted to make things better, and for that reason, he was good.

    Seeker flew south, away from the city. While she was there, her radar picked up on someone else out in the rain, a human out on the route. She flew lower and was able to identify him as Craig. He was alone, doing some kind of training by kicking the air. He didn’t even have pokeballs with him, at least not where she could hear them.

    It was just the two of them and that brought out a terrible thought. Cyrus thought things could be better if Craig were gone. However, the temptation was mixed with reluctance. There was something ancient holding her back, a natural law that pokemon were not to kill humans except in self-defense. Why was that? Seeker couldn’t say. But she had to do something to impress Cyrus and make her worthwhile in his eyes. This could be that something.

    After she’d flown within fifteen feet of him, Craig paused and turned to her. He didn’t seem worried. “Ah, it’s you. He’s been ignoring you again, then. Such a thoughtless and selfish man.” He then focused back on training himself.

    “You’re in his way,” Seeker said. “He’ll make the world better, but you make him look bad in front of everyone.”

    And if she did this right…

    -+-

    She landed on the floor next to where he was working. “Cyrus,” Seeker said.

    “Hmm?” He was a little irritated at being interrupted; he had a large device to work on, something about energy draining and restraints. But that went away once he saw her. Cyrus actually put his tool down and crouched down near her, running his finger along her face. “How did you get so bloody? It doesn’t look like you’re hurt.”

    “I…” she didn’t know whether to say that she was sorry or that she had done it for him.

    “Show me what you’ve done,” he said, then entered her mind again. He was only there for a minute, and then he seemed pleased. “We can’t leave him like that. That kind of death is too unusual.” Thinking quickly, he got up and went to his tool box. “I think I have what’s needed to start a fire even in these conditions… no, that would get noticed too soon. A strong acid may work but I don’t want something uncommon.”

    Footsteps entered the room. “Sir? Did you need something?”

    “Something’s come up, but I’ll handle it myself,” he said. “I’ll get back to this work later; get on with your own. Come, Seeker.”

    She’d given him some more work to do, but he seemed appreciative. Seeker came to his call, feeling happier. “Of course!”

    -+-

    Although he hadn’t liked him, Cyrus showed up to Craig’s funeral. The whole city of Veilstone seemed to show up for the public service. Cyrus was important enough to be in the main room, with Seeker close by him. The whole time, he sat there quietly observing what was going on. He was the lone calm person in a room filled with disbelief and grief.

    In the front row, Maylene was attending too. Her father was nowhere in hearing, but some of the other gym trainers were there with her. She wore a dark dress that she didn’t seem comfortable in, but whatever trouble that was was nothing compared to losing her mentor. During the ceremony, she cried often, not getting up to speak even though some of the other gym trainers did.

    Seeker felt odd during the whole ceremony. She had done something wrong; she was the one who caused all this sadness. But where she should have felt guilty, she felt numb instead. She had done it for Cyrus and he was pleased with her. She couldn’t feel proud or happy with that either. Only numb.

    -+-

    Being numb seemed to be the way to go. Cyrus was always calm, shutting down his feelings. Perhaps if she tried to be more like him, then he would accept her fully. Would that let her evolve?

    Today, he had her out with Sneasel and Murkrow for some training. Seeker did her best to ignore Sneasel’s taunting and Murkrow’s clowning. “You are so weird,” the black bird said, flying around near her.

    “I’m just being rational,” she said.

    “And now she’s been around Mr. Machine so long that she’s started acting like him,” Sneasel said, trying to insult her. “I hope that doesn’t start happening to us.”

    “Beep beep!” Murkrow said, then started laughing.

    “Don’t be so foolish,” Cyrus said sternly. “I don’t see why so many people are attached to pokemon. At least I can understand what people are saying.”

    “Forget about them,” Seeker told him. “But if you could understand me, things would be better.”

    Sneasel snickered. “And then he’d know that you were trying to flirt with him.”

    “Cyrus, sir,” a man called out, coming down the route. It wasn’t one of Team Galactic, as the radar came off his clothing differently. “Good thing I’ve spotted you. The city council is taking suggestions on what to do about the gym; the league wants to be able to reopen it before it’s been inactive a month, or they might open a gym elsewhere.”

    “Yes, and the community doesn’t want to lose such an important part of itself,” Cyrus said. “Are you taking suggestions from anyone?”

    “It’ll come up to a public vote, but we’re taking nominations for the new gym leader in private. We’d like your input.”

    That pleased him. “Ah, thank you for your consideration. I have thought about it and I would nominate Maylene for that position.”

    “The apprentice… even though she’s a child?”

    “From what I understand, she was Craig’s best student in every way. And I’m sure no one in Veilstone would doubt that she’s a phenomenal trainer, no matter what her age is.” Not only that, but Cyrus felt that Maylene owed him, at least enough to be on his side.

    “True. I’ll put that in for you.” The humans spoke for a little longer, then the man from the council left.

    Cyrus waited for a moment, then said, “I didn’t want to make that risky of a move in getting rid of Craig. But since he’s dead, favor should come back to me. They don’t have a clue that you would even be a possibility as his killer, Seeker.”

    Sneasel lowered his ears at that. “Wait, what? You killed somebody?”

    “Yes,” Seeker said, keeping her voice calm like Cyrus did. “The gym leader Craig. That was what Cyrus wanted, but he couldn’t do it himself.”

    “Huh?!” Murkrow asked, startled. “But, but that’s wrong! We aren’t supposed to kill humans. That’s just not done.”

    “It had to be done, so I did it,” she replied.

    “You seriously killed him?” Sneasel asked. The scent of him shifted, betraying that his opinion of her had changed. Now he was scared of her.

    “Yes, seriously,” she said.

    “You, you…” Murkrow tried to say something, but fear was coming off him too. “Um, never mind.”

    And they stayed terrified of her. That didn’t matter, though. Only Cyrus’ opinion mattered and he was pleased with her.

    -+-

    The building smelled of sickness and fear. As Seeker flew around, sometimes she caught the faint sounds of pokemon crying or pleading for help. Once she saw one of them, tied up to a machine and striving to fight against it, even though the wires holding her captive threatened to choke her. Cyrus had shifted the captive out of that danger, but left her there tied into the machine. So did Seeker.

    “Out of sight, out of mind,” Cyrus said to her. It was more of giving voice to his own thoughts than looking for a conversation with her. Still, she appreciated it. “Everything is functioning on schedule now.”

    “And that will get you to your goal on time,” Seeker said. But that also meant that the time when he would replace her was coming.

    That was the hardest thing to be numb about. The other pokemon were helping Cyrus to his goal, so it didn’t matter if they were troubled now. In the end, it was for the best. But to think that no matter what she did, she still wouldn’t be enough for him to reach his goals, that was depressing. But she couldn’t be depressed. She had to be here to serve him. And to better serve him, she had to figure out how to evolve.

    Currently, they were away from Veilstone, in Eterna City. Cyrus had business here in this building, checking on his energy gathering. Why that involved pokemon being held captive, Seeker had no idea. But it wasn’t her place to question such things even if she could.

    It was one of those boring days where Cyrus went around talking to people. Seeker took some time to nap while he did so. Like with being numb, napping was another way she was trying to be like him. Cyrus never slept, only napped. He claimed that there was too much to do and not enough time to get it all done if he kept to a regular sleep schedule. It was hard to do, especially during the day when Seeker wanted to escape the sun and sleep.

    She didn’t even get to escape the sun by staying in this building, as Cyrus left shortly after his business was done. There was no use in complaining, so she quietly followed him. While they moved through Eterna, she wondered if he would stay here for the night. She might be able to find her old friends if he did, although this was a little far out of their territory.

    While she was thinking out the best way to get to their territory, Cyrus made a short detour and stopped. “Here it is, the statue of Palkia,” he said quietly.

    “Palkia?” Seeker asked, feeling a jab of hurt and jealousy. She couldn’t see much due to the sunlight washing everything over, but she could hit the statue with her radar. What that revealed was a large pokemon, with a dragon’s powerful build and large claws. The statue depicted it with armored plates.

    “Not nearly as big as the real one, I would guess,” Cyrus said. “But it’s supposed to be the most realistic depiction in Sinnoh.”

    “That’s Palkia?” Seeker asked. She hit the statue with her radar again, keeping in mind that it was probably small. It made her tremble; if this statue was small, how was she supposed to compare? She was a golbat, commonplace. And this Palkia seemed to be a rare and powerful dragon, special enough that the humans made a statue of it. Nobody made a statue of a golbat or zubat.

    Even worse, Cyrus seemed to be enthralled with it. “A pokemon from the creation myth, said to have existed at the very beginning of the world. Palkia created all of space, while Dialga created all of time. Palkia helped to make the world… and it can help to unmake it. Remake it into a more perfect form, such as how it was at that dawn of history. But this dragon does nothing while the world suffers. It won’t have a choice when I have control over it. I will make things as they should be. Everything I’ve done up to this point has led to this. Yes, even capturing you, Seeker of Heaven. I had to test the theory of the myth before putting it to practice on this scale.”

    “That’s…” even her? She was only a test, nothing more? She was trying so hard to be useful and needed, but then, there was no way she could compete against a pokemon who helped to create the whole world. She couldn’t even fly past the sky.

    “And I will have the last thing I need soon,” he said. Then he turned from the statue. “We can’t dally here too long; there’s people I need to talk to in the next town.”

    And with that, he went back into Eterna to head south. Seeker listened over her radar’s information on the Palkia statue once more, then flew off after him. If only she could be as controlled emotionally as he was, then knowing this wouldn’t hurt as much.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  3. #3
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    Part 3 of 3: Crobat

    They were all crowded together on the ceiling of the cave, moving about and grooming each other in preparation for a night’s worth of flying. It could have been any group of zubats, but she felt like it was her old flock. On finding a stalactite that was near them, she landed on it. “Hello,” she said. She had thought about what she might do or say upon returning, but all those ideas had seemed to fly away.

    “Hi stranger!” one of the zubats called out to her. “Wow, you seem really strong!”

    “Thanks, but I’m not a stranger. I was once a part of this flock, but then I got captured by a human.”

    “Really?” That got the interest of a lot more, getting them to turn their ears towards her. “That’s awesome. I bet that’s how you got really strong then. Have you figured out how to turn into the ultimate bat form?”

    “Don’t call it that,” another zubat hissed.

    The question made her feel embarrassed. “Um, no. I’m working on it, though.” Happiness didn’t seem appropriate in the face of getting replaced with a mythical pokemon, but that was the only clue she had.

    “Aw, that’s too bad. I’m working on it too!” He beat his wings, “I’m trying to impress every human I come across and...” and he smacked his wing into one of his neighbors.

    “Cut that out! You klutz,” she snapped, pushing him away.

    “There’s something strange about you, golbat,” another zubat said. “When I listen closely to you, I hear tears and pain… blood and death.”

    The one klutzy zubat had slipped off the ceiling and was now flying. “You hear the weirdest things.”

    “But she hears the dead,” another said.

    Seeker twisted her ears towards this hearer of the dead. “You can hear that? You’ve been blessed.”

    The spirit hearer zubat shifted uneasily on her inverted perch. “You have been enslaved by the power of three lost souls. You have broken the laws of nature. You have killed a human in cold blood, for the love of a human who will not return that love.”

    At that revelation, there was an eruption of flapping wings. All of the zubats hanging from the ceiling with her flew away, frantic and frightened. She could hear a scattering of exclamations about it: a killer in their midst, perhaps descended from their flock? And if she would kill a human, then she might kill anyone. Only an insane pokemon would kill like that.

    That is, all but the hearer zubat flew off. Seeker pulled her wings in closer around her body. “It had to be done. It’s what he needed to be done, but he couldn’t do it himself.”

    “I’m not scared of you,” the hearer said. And from her scent, she really wasn’t. “I feel sorry for you. What he’s done to you must be something terrible.”

    “He’s not terrible,” Seeker said, before the thread could hurt her. “He’s going to make everything better. And I’m going to help him with it, even if he doesn’t see me as that important.”

    “When you say that, your heart dies a little more.”

    “Seeker,” Cyrus called out, not shouting but speaking in a strong tone.

    “May the gods have mercy upon your soul,” the spirit hearer said, then flew off to join her flock.

    Feeling unsettled, Seeker left the stalactite and flew down to Cyrus. “You will make the world better,” she said to him. “You’ll make it without pain.”

    “The atmosphere has shifted from the last time I was here,” he said quietly. “I think this place anticipates my ascension as much as I am. If only it could be today.”

    “Hey mister!” There was the hurried footsteps of a boy about Maylene’s age approaching them (although he wore shoes). By his side, there was the furred paw steps of a luxio. “Yeah, it is you, with the golbat.”

    “Excuse me?” Cyrus asked. “I don’t have much time to waste on nonsense.”

    “It’s for research, sir,”
    the boy said. “I’m Lucas, one of Professor Rowan’s student researchers. I saw you back in Eterna with your golbat, only she didn’t register as a captive pokemon. But she seems to follow your orders just fine.”

    “She’s specially trained,” he replied. “There are more ways than one to train a pokemon.”

    If he was put off by Cyrus’ blunt demeanor, Lucas didn’t show any signs of such. “I see. The thing is, she also reads as being unable to capture. Why is that? And how does she do with being raised and trained like that? There’s a lot of things you can’t do with a non-captive pokemon. But it would be interesting to know other options than just using a pokeball, even some that might be better for some people.”

    This response caused some shift in Cyrus. There wasn’t the disdain or facade he gave other people. Instead, the boy triggered a small amount of respect. “So you’ve noticed. I’m afraid that I can’t reveal everything; she was a test subject for a new methodology of training. Huh, but you really are a researcher, even at your age.”

    “I won the regional youth science fair earlier this year, for a report on the biology of rock and steel pokemon. I had no trouble with the dissections.” He seemed rather proud of it, whatever he was talking about.

    It did impress Cyrus further. “Interesting. I won that myself when I was about your age, for re-designing solar panel energy systems. I may speak with you later, but I have business to handle now. Oh, but a word of warning: you ought to speak quieter and more respectfully when around Mount Coronet.”

    “Really? Why’s that? I doubt avalanches and rockfalls would start to normal conversation.”

    “Research the legends of Sinnoh at some time,” Cyrus advised. “This place, this is where it all began. The whole world. The most powerful pokemon of a legends are said to dwell here, and we must respect them by not disturbing the peace.” Then he left, heading for the east exit of Mount Coronet. Lucas stayed where he was a moment, as if just now realizing the truth of what Cyrus had said.

    -+-

    It had been a busy time, with Cyrus traveling all over getting the pieces of his red chain together. Seeker went with him as always. While he was busy dealing with people and constructing his ultimate project, she kept trying to be more like him, hoping that would unlock the secret of her next evolution.

    Happiness was such a vague concept, she reflected, like he always said. What made one person happy might make another mad. It was so fleeting, a pleasant warm feeling that was gone all too quick. What was its purpose in life? What purpose did it have in evolution? Maybe it was a certain mind frame, a total devotion and loyalty. Although, Seeker didn’t know how she could be more loyal and devoted than she was.

    If she could figure it out, then today would be the perfect time to evolve. Cyrus had brought her back to the place where he had met her, back to the little cave in Celestic. Being here made her wings tingle. Was it the memory of that day, or was it her new knowledge that this place was significant beyond just that? But then, that day had been painful. Necessary, according to the red thread, painful but necessary. She wouldn’t be who she was if she hadn’t gone through that experience.

    “Then nothing new has been found out,” Cyrus said, his voice calm as usual but still displaying that he was displeased to hear this. “I had hoped to hear that there would be some worth to what we’ve spent on getting and studying this site further.”

    “I’m sorry sir, but we have yet to find better clues,” the worker said. “Maybe if we had more time…”

    “I know what I need to know from here,” Cyrus said, cutting off any hope of that time. “Right now, our resources need to be focused elsewhere. You’ll be reassigned. And what is that racket out there?” He started out, but paused to hold his hand up to the worker. “No, you get your tools together. We will leave as soon as possible.”

    “Sounds like a pokemon battle,” Seeker said, taking a few flaps to get closer to the entrance with him.

    The person who had been left to guard the entrance was battling his pokemon against others. And it seemed the opponent trainer was Lucas. Although the boy was fifteen years younger than the guard at least, his pokemon were clearly winning the match.

    For a couple of minutes, Cyrus watched quietly. “That boy reminds me of myself in some ways,” he said, half to himself and half to Seeker. “He has the innocent appearance of youth, but watch his eyes. They analyze the battle as it progresses, taking in information about the pokemon he uses, the pokemon his opponent uses, how the strategies of each move work against each other. And he seems to be planning ahead, at least by three moves. He’s like how I was before I realized the cruelty and unfairness of the world.”

    “His pokemon seem pretty happy,” Seeker noted, listening as the luxio withstood a move that should have knocked him clean out, determined to make Lucas proud. And the boy responded in concern for his pokemon although he still had the upper hand in the battle. While she would have done the same for Cyrus, he would not have said or felt a thing.

    “He should be glad then,” Cyrus said. “I’m doing him a favor in undoing the world before he gets his heart and soul crushed by reality.”

    “Crushed?” Seeker wondered what he meant by that. Had Cyrus experienced something like that overwhelming attack by sound that happened when she had gotten the red thread attached to her?
    And if he had been like that boy once, how would it have been to have been trained like that instead?

    Then the battle was over. The guard got flustered and ran back into the cave, only to nearly collide with Cyrus a few steps in. Outside, Lucas was tending to his luxio, reassuring him with loving words. Inside, her trainer had intimidated the guard. “Don’t make a fool of us,” he said, then pushed the guard aside to go out before him.

    When they came out, along with the site worker, Lucas got up. His scent revealed that he was wary but not afraid. “You?”

    “We met back in Mount Coronet,” Cyrus said to him. “The young biologist. I am Cyrus, the leader of Team Galactic.”

    “You are?” Lucas asked, but only with mild disbelief.

    Cyrus stepped away from the cave. “There is nothing more here of interest to us, so we will be leaving. You may find what’s in there interesting, however. It’s up to you whether you go or stay; it matters not to me.” Then he motioned his two subordinates into leaving town with him.

    “Galactic…”
    Lucas turned and watched them go. Seeker stayed a moment, trying to see if the boy really was anything special. But she wasn’t a spirit hearer. She didn’t need to be one, as he yelled out his next question, “How could you do such terrible things? I saw what you were doing to the pokemon in Eterna. Why would you do a cruel and heartless thing like that?”

    Cyrus didn’t respond to that. He only snapped his fingers and silently called for Seeker to hurry along. “It’s for the better of the world,” she said, then flew off after him.

    -+-

    They were back in Veilstone now, back on the streets talking to people. Cyrus was waiting on something that needed time with his machinery, so he used that time to bolster public opinion. And it was then when they came across her again. “It's been a while, Maylene,” Cyrus said.

    “Um, yeah,” the girl said, nervous but with some purpose. “Running a gym is a lot of work. I'm not really sure if I'm doing everything right.”

    “You'll get settled in and things will become clear,” he said. “How are you doing?”

    “I've had some challengers come about every day. But only one of them actually earned a badge. Lucas; he's a strong trainer even though he doesn't fight himself.” Then she paused. “Oh, you mean about me? Sorry. I'm working on things, I guess. I'm not so sure what to do now that Craig's gone.” She was sad now. “How are you and Seeker doing?”

    “We're busy as usual; taking advantage of a short respite.” He turned to her, so she twisted her ears in his direction. “I figured that she was depressed, but she seems to be pulling out of it. It may be a while yet before she's ready to evolve.”

    “I hope she does cheer up fully. She seems to work so hard for you. But, um...” Maylene hesitated, then gave a small sigh.

    “What is it?” Cyrus asked, mimicking concern.

    She spoke as though she was worried, but uncertain what she should be worried about. “I heard from some people that the group you lead, Team Galactic, they were doing some terrible things to pokemon in Eterna City, and holding a man hostage in the power plant near Floaroma. What really happened?”

    “Some people blew things out of proportion,” he replied. “We've been running tests with energy and new technology, and there were some misunderstandings. I'm sure it'll clear up in time.”

    “Oh, okay,” she said, still uncertain. “You've been nice to me and I didn't think you'd do something bad like that. But then... never mind. Sorry for taking up your time. I'd better get back to the gym.” then she ran off.

    Cyrus shook his head. “She suspects something,” he said quietly. “Or someone told her. At least she's easier to intimidate than Craig.”

    -+-

    There was singing.

    It was strange; there was never any music in the Galactic headquarters. Certainly not singing, as the people here did their work and maybe talked between each other. Even stranger, it was some kind of spiritual song, a trio of beautiful pokemon voices singing to keep brave in the face of adversity. There was even some cheeky cheerfulness, as if their captivity could do nothing to keep down their spirit.

    Listening to it, Seeker felt strange. She knew it was trying to be encouraging and defiant, but she felt nothing on hearing it. She could remember feeling happy singing with her flock. This time, she didn't wish to join in. She just wanted to know why it was. For that, she flew along the halls, using the teleport pads to go straight there.

    It was down in one of the labs where Cyrus had built a lot of machinery. They were like what was in the Eterna building, but bigger and linked into one unit rather than a dozen. While she made her way down the hall, she passed by other humans who helped Cyrus in this project. They were trembling, upset and fearful. “I didn't realize he wanted to use this on them,” one said.

    “You can feel the pain,” the other said. “They were just supposed to be afraid, not in pain. I don't know if I can keep doing this.”

    “It doesn't matter if you can't; he will.”


    Seeker went on, but her flight was slowed by psychic transmissions that were coming from the lab. It wasn't the sort that would hurt her. Instead, it tried to make her feel sympathy for another's pain. It spoke of suffering that the singers felt, even though they sang to fend it off. But like the song with it, she didn't feel the emotions the transmissions tried to provoke. Maybe she was close to what she needed.

    When she entered the lab, she found Cyrus there. He was standing in front of his machine which had three pokemon attached to it. And it was them who were singing, a trio of small pixie pokemon that were alike and yet distinct. They kept in perfect harmony with each other, even if they were singing different parts.

    “The singing won't help you,” Cyrus said, also unaffected by it or the transmissions. “It will only waste your energy. I see no point to it.”

    They continued to sing.

    Since they did, Cyrus ignored them and went to work on the machine. Seeker flew closer, but not too close. Cyrus had warned her that these machines might prevent her evolution. When she got close, one of the singers stopped. “Hi!” she said (at least she had a feminine voice). “Funny to see something like you in here.”

    She didn't even seem like she cared. “I’m one of his pokemon, so I'm around here a lot,” Seeker said.

    “Really? Do you have a name? I have one. I'm Mespirit.”

    “He named me Seeker of Heaven.”

    She laughed in delight, even though her scent indicated tension and pain. “Oo, how glorious. It's normally a sign of great respect and pedigree that a pokemon gets a name like that. Or irony. He doesn't seem like either, though.”

    “He's a good man,” she said automatically. She had to defend him to a lot of pokemon, even those on his team. “He named me that because when I was a zubat, I tried to fly through the sky when I couldn't hear the reply of my radar.”

    “Why would you do that?” Mespirit asked.

    “Because I wanted to know if there was something on the other side of the sky. The older zubats said there wasn't, and it's so hard no matter how many times I try. But I keep trying.”

    “That's an impressive persistence,” a second one of them said, leaving just the one to keep singing. “Most would have given up on failing once. But if you do wish to find heaven, or the other side of the sky, up may not be the best direction to fly.”

    “Why would that be?” Seeker asked, turning her ears towards him. “The sky is up, so the other side of the sky should be up.”

    “It is like the horizon. If you try to reach the horizon, you will never get there as the horizon is always around you. But if you look at it from a different way, you can reach the horizon by picking a place on it to aim for. Going through the sky won't work by going straight up. But if you listen for a place that does not sound or feel like the sky around it, or anything you know, then you could reach the other side of the sky through that place.”

    “What's the horizon like?”

    He flicked his tails in front of him. “Well...”

    “She can't see well enough to know the horizon,” the third said. “The horizon is like when you send your radar along the land and most of it comes back, but there is one small part that does not go back, leaving your knowledge silent there. The horizon is the furthest part of that silence.”

    “But when you fly closer, then you can hear the radar there,” Seeker said.

    “Exactly,” he agreed. “But if you listen again, there will be yet another part of silence you cannot hear. The horizon, always escaping you unless you pursue one part of it.”

    “I guess that makes sense.”

    “You're not connected to a pokeball,” the third one said. “I find it peculiar that you address him as your trainer when this is so.”

    Noticing that all three had stopped singing now, Cyrus paused.

    “He is my trainer,” Seeker said. “But he caught me with some red thread instead of a pokeball. I'm still wearing it too.”

    “I didn't think anybody knew how to do that kind of thing these days,” the second one said. “It's been at least a century since the rites of blood completely faded.”

    The third one seemed to agree. “It is strange. Tell me, does he mention anything about a red chain?”

    “You don't seriously think it's about that, do you?” Mespirit asked.

    “He does talk about it,” Seeker said. “He wants to get Palkia with it, since I won't be enough to do what he wants.”

    “Oh dear,” she said, floating away. The wires kept her from going too far. “Well it does take a very long time to craft, like last time it was years...”

    “Technology has advanced,” the third said, concerned.

    “He's been working on it since before he got me as a zubat,” Seeker said. “I don't know how long that is, but it's a long time.”

    “And what does he want to do with Palkia?” the second asked.

    “He wants to remake the world to be perfect, without pain and suffering.” She scratched one of her ears with the finger-nubs on her wing. “I hear his words and feelings clearer than anyone else, but I don't quite get everything. He says something about getting rid of the imperfect spirit, whatever he means by that.”

    There was silence in response to that at first. The psychic transmissions had shifted too, from tugging at sympathy to a dread of something terrible. “Well it makes sense that you would be able to know his feelings,” Mespirit said, with a nervous tone making her voice waver. “The thread ties your heart to his. Does he feel much?”

    “No, he controls his emotions really well,” she said. “He's mostly calm all the time, and every now and then something calls out. I'm trying to be like him, so that he likes me more.”

    “Can he give you orders by thought?” the second asked.

    “Yeah, he does,” Seeker said. She thought about what happened with Craig, but didn't say anything about it.

    Nevertheless, the room seemed to get tenser. “Can he control you through the thread?” the third asked.

    “Um, maybe?” She considered it. “He flies with me sometimes, well not exactly, but his mind is there. And he tells me what to do then. I guess so.”

    “We won't have a lot of time then,” the third said. “It is authentic.”

    “You pokemon are strange creatures,” Cyrus said, leaving the machine for now. “Seeker, come.”

    “Yes,” she said, and flew after him.

    Once they were out of the room, Mespirit and the other two pokemon began singing again. But any sign of cheerfulness had deflated. The song sounded more like something was being mourned.

    -+-

    The only thing Cyrus was feeling was a mild disappointment. Thankfully it wasn't aimed at her. It was aimed at Lucas, who was battling Cyrus in one of the gathering rooms of the Galactic Headquarters. The boy was radiating determination, but he didn't have the pride that most trainers had. He seemed like he was pushing himself and his pokemon to their limits, as something he strongly believed in. On the other hand, Cyrus didn't seem to feel this was that important.

    Seeker didn't feel much either. She recognized that the pokemon she was fighting were really strong, perhaps stronger than any others she had faced. However, she had to keep stoic to impress Cyrus. As she faced the boy's luxray, she was concerned but didn't let it scare her.

    An electric bolt coursed through her body; her pain senses screamed to the point where she nearly didn't feel her wings. But she couldn't lose quite yet. She'd already taken out one of the boy's pokemon. She had already poisoned the luxray, so if she held on for just a little longer, she would have defeated this one too.

    And then something unexpected happen. Cyrus became concerned, for her. He brought his hand up. “Stop. I'll give this match to you. Seeker, come here.”

    “Back,” Lucas said to his luxray. To Cyrus, he said, “If you want.”

    “You're throwing the match for me?” Seeker asked, puzzled. When he gave her a potion that completely healed her, she knew that was true. There was some cover excuse that time was wasting, but the truth was underneath that. He didn't want her to fall unconscious.

    “What exactly do you base your pokemon training on?” Cyrus asked Lucas.

    The boy had healed his pokemon too; his scent showed that he was wary, what with all the Galactic members around him. But he still answered honestly, “Compassion. I know them scientifically and personally.”

    This disappointed Cyrus further. “Compassion? You still have flawed ideas. Compassion is a weakness. Emotions are a weakness, and I intend to eradicate them from the world. Then what brought you here? Compassion for the three illusion pokemon?”

    “Yes.”

    Cyrus paused. Seeker noticed that he was uneasy and wondered why. The three pokemon has stopped singing not that long ago, or it had gotten too quiet for her to hear from here. In the last few hours, the sympathetic transmissions had sharpened and he had been in that area. Maybe it was finally getting through his defenses?

    “I have no more need for them,” he finally said. “Take them if you wish. I think you're foolish, yet you do have some merit to you, more than most people have. Take this too.” He pulled a pokeball out of his bag and tossed it over to Lucas. The boy seemed puzzled. “That is no ordinary pokeball. That is the Master Ball, one that will catch any pokemon without fail. It was given to me by someone who apparently had no faith in me. I have no need for it either. Use it wisely. I must be off to Mount Coronet.”

    “That place...”

    “Yes, where we first met. It is time to meet our destiny.” He then waved to Seeker and the various Galactic members who were there, ordering them to follow him out of the building.

    “Sir?” one of the lesser Galactics asked. “Are you sure you should give hm something that powerful?”

    “He won't have time to make use of it,” Cyrus said. “And those three are weak, before you ask. They won't make a difference. Now I don't want any waste of time, understand?”

    They all agreed, including Seeker.

    -+-

    The path up Mount Coronet when in and out, up and around. It was long; Seeker could have flown up to the peak easily. However, she followed after Cyrus and his human followers. Even when the air turned cold and ice began to fall, she didn't complain. She did notice that the air got thinner. Was this something those illusion pokemon had been trying to tell her? It might be easier to find a way through the sky when the land reached up into it.

    “We're stopping to rest, not sleep,” Cyrus told those with him. It was a smaller group than he'd started with. As the climb wore on and on, several had stopped as they weren't able to go on. Too tired, injured, with their Pokemon unconscious, or something like that. “If you're asleep by the time we move on, you'll be left behind. I'll be doing something over there, so don't bother me unless it's important.”

    Some in the group grumbled or sighed, but others admonished them. Cyrus went to the far exit of the cave they were stopping in. While he had told the rest he was doing something alone, he was actually going to do something for her and his other pokemon. So she went with him, even though the chilly wind blew stronger over there.

    Then another Galactic worker came running into the cavern. He passed by the group and approached Cyrus. “Sir, I...” he gasped, out of breath.

    “What?” Cyrus asked, his tone hinting that he wasn't going to tolerate nonsense.

    He handed over a pokeball. “I finally got... your magikarp evolved, and leveled some for a... gyarados. I know you said that this mission on the mountain was most important... but I was told to get it to you as soon as... it was at the right level.”

    He accepted it back. “I knew it took a long time to work with, but you seem to have taken exceptionally long.”

    “Sorry sir! I... didn't have much to train it with.”

    “You've done your job. Go back and rest with the others. I want to work with my pokemon alone.”

    The man nodded and went back, soon to be fast asleep on the cave floor. Cyrus studied the gyarados with his device, then released it. “Oh, it's you,” the large psuedo-dragon said to him. “I haven't seen you in ages.”

    “It's not been that long,” Seeker said as Cyrus released Sneasel and Murkrow as well.

    “And you, the weird bat that got me,” Gyarados said. “Hah! You won't be able to beat up on me now! I'm probably more powerful than any of you.”

    Sneasel got worried. “Hey, hey, hold up!” he said. “Don't talk to her that way.”

    He snorted. “And why not? You friends with her, huh?”

    “No, not that. It's just, a bad idea.”

    “She's a killer!” Murkrow squealed, flapping his wings although not leaving the ground. “She killed a human.”

    “Cut that out,” Sneasel hissed.

    “I don't mind if you tell him the truth,” Seeker said. “Makes no difference to me.”

    “But we shouldn't,” Gyarados said, nervous.

    Cyrus spoke up, disturbing their conversation. “This may ultimately end up being unnecessary, but I don't want to get caught in a situation where it was necessary. You take this.” He handed a long claw to Sneasel, longer than his own.

    “How nice,” he said, taking it and looking over its edge. “Don't expect me to like you for it, though. Give me more battles and I might change my mind.”

    “Uh, you sure...?” Murkrow started to say.

    “And this is for you,” Cyrus said, bringing out a glossy black stone of salt and holding it out to black bird.

    'Oh my gosh, it so shiny!” he cried out, hopping over and snatching it in his beak. “Mmph, amph tasfty tooff.” He took a moment to break it up better to eat it.

    “And you just go and eat it,” Sneasel teased him.

    “I always knew he'd give me a present intentionally one day,” Murkrow said. “And tasty.”

    “That needs a few minutes to get working,” Cyrus said. “And I'll have to fight with you for a bit. Seeker, you go fight on your own, or whatever.” He then took Sneasel, Murkrow, and Gyarados with him out into the snowy ledges.

    Seeker decided to leave the cave too and fly into the icy winds. As she'd come up slower than when she'd tried before, her body wasn't working as hard to keep up with the thin cold air. Maybe that was the secret, to get used to the thin air little by little. But then how long would it take to fully break through the sky?

    Finding a rock jutting out of a wall, she landed there and listened around her. Not that far below her, Cyrus had already found a fight for Sneasel in a snover. Gyarados was complaining about the cold and ice, while Murkrow was suddenly hyper and energetic, fluttering around the group. However, Cyrus didn't feel anything for them, not even annoyance. They were like parts of his machines: not as important as the whole, just things to use. Did he feel the same for her?

    No, definitely not. He had been pleased with her at least once, and he allowed concern to lead him to throw a battle rather than knock her out. Maybe she had just been a part of his designs once, but Seeker was pretty sure that she was more important to him than that now. He just didn't let those feelings and thoughts rise above his internal defenses.

    The sky was full of moisture, in the form of snow and clouds. There were more clouds overhead, so it wasn't a time she'd usually try to fly into the sky. Then again, what if the presence of all that moisture helped her? She would have a full radar view of the air around her and could notice something unusual. Maybe she could succeed now.

    Even as she thought of it, she had to wonder why. Why did she want to go through to the other side of the sky? It was just curiosity at first, to know what was there. And then it was because she had always failed and hoped that she might just make it this time. But then, what was the point of it? Whatever was on the other side of the sky... it didn't matter. And it didn't matter because Cyrus was on this side of the sky.

    It was her dream, but it didn't really matter. Only what Cyrus wanted mattered. Even if he wanted to replace her, it didn't matter. It was okay.

    There was a tinge of sadness when she thought of that, but that passed away into numbness quickly. It was a relief to think that she didn't need to worry about what her goals should be, because they'd end up passed over in favor of his goals anyhow. As long as she was near him, she was... happy wasn't quite the right term for it. Content. It wouldn't matter if there was silence or noise around her. When she heard him and knew his thoughts, she would know what to do. Even if her own heart was silent.

    And that turned out to be the breakthrough she needed.

    A few minutes later, Cyrus had the other two members of his team evolved. They had sounded pleased, but hopeful that he might let them go soon if he didn't feel anything for them. Seeker wasn't bothered by this. He still had some use for them, so she would tolerate their foolishness. Once they had been recalled, she flew over to meet with him.

    “A little late for the effect I wanted in having a crobat,” he said, reaching over to rub her ear while she hovered by him. “But good. It proves the falseness of what was believed.” And he smiled.

    Seeker's eyes were getting a clearer view of things, but her mind was still scrambling to figure out how to interpret it all. But the red thread told her everything. He might be trying to clamp it down, but he was pleased to see her fully evolved.

    And that worried him. He didn't want a loose thread in his mental defenses. “I never got into raising Pokemon. I only did so to blend in and get the acceptance of others; those without Pokemon are seen as strange loners. But I never felt a real connection to any of them. They were just there. Except you.”

    “I didn't want to go far from you,” Seeker said.

    Cyrus put his hand to his chin, thinking. “I did have you around almost constantly. I suppose it's only human nature to seek out companionship. It used to help us survive. But it's one of the worse flaws in the world. A person wants the love and attention of others but wants to see themselves as most important, producing two desires that conflict constantly. Biology tries to reward us for making connections. But when those connections break or are taken advantage of, it is crushing, painful to the point of cruelty.”

    Those words seemed to stir something in him that Seeker had only felt on rare occasion, but stronger and more distressing than ever. It was like a bad memory, but instead of one incident it was a whole string of them rolling into a perfect disaster. Sometimes a thought or bit of those memories slipped through, but nothing that made much sense to her. “I won't leave you,” she said, wishing that he could know that for certain.

    For a moment, nothing was said. The cold icy winds blew around them, but Cyrus didn't seem to feel them. Then he got control of his feelings once again. “That pain is not worth what little happiness comes out of companionship. Although in having you around, it is good to have someone I can speak to freely, without a need for all the masking to be socially acceptable. Perhaps that is part of why people owning pokemon has become so widespread with the advent of pokeball technology. Whatever reason there is, it isn't important. The peak isn't far off now,” he turned to look up the mountain. “I didn't want to stop so close.”

    She flew a few feet in that direction. “Why don't we just go? Do you need any of the rest of them?”

    “The ones that aren't strong enough would have been whining and complaining,” he said. “And that would have started arguments, which I don't want to deal with at this stage. Give them a moment of rest. The unworthy will fall asleep.”

    “Of course you'd have it all figured out,” Seeker said, confident in him.

    -+-

    Having a fully evolved team turned out to be a good thing. Cyrus' ceremony to summon Palkia was interrupted by Lucas, a friend of his, and an older man called a professor. As the other members of Galactic weren't dedicated pokemon trainers, the two boys defeated all of them soundly. That included Cyrus.

    While he called her out before gyarados, he did order her to fall back before she got knocked out. He even had her healed up while the psuedo-dragon fought. And he had not healed any of the other three when they were defeated. They had no real connection to him.

    At the end of the match, Cyrus backed up, clutching the red chain to his chest. It clinked and clanked in an odd way, mostly metal but with a tone like a psychic move. “I expect you want me to give up now,” he said.

    “Do you really want to erase emotion from the world?” Lucas asked. “You seem to have a lot of compassion for your crobat.”

    He got a little angry at that, as if it was something he didn't want noticed by someone else. But it didn't show in his voice, as usual. “It doesn't matter. I was only humoring you by agreeing to the challenge. The rite is complete. All that's left now is to set it in motion.” The others were shocked to hear this, giving Cyrus time to turn around and call out, “Palkia, hear my words across the dimensions! Come to me now and fulfill my greatest wish!”

    And the air itself split apart as the red chain began to emit light. Through the split in the sky came a pokemon larger and more powerful than Seeker had ever heard, or imagined. Palkia screamed incoherently, as if caught in cacophony of painful sound. “It will be worth it,” Seeker said quietly, remembering but feeling numb to it.

    Palkia probably didn't hear her, as it lashed out against the sudden calling. It was out of reach of them, though, with Cyrus and Seeker being nearest. In the meantime, the red chain floated out of Cyrus' hands and slithered into the air, seeking to connect to Palkia.

    “See?” Cyrus said, anticipating his success. “I already control it. See the beginnings of my perfect new galaxy!”

    “Heeee-ey!” a cheery voice called out from near Lucas. “It's not fair to start doing this without us!”

    Seeker sent out a call of radar and recognized the pokemon speaking. It was Mespirit, with the other two. Although they seemed weary, they had come. “The lake trio?” Cyrus asked. “What are you doing here?”

    “This is a part of the sacred duty we were charged to keep,” one of the others said.

    “Although we should have caught on sooner,” the third said. “Sorry.” They then sang out a melody which did not seem to have meaning.

    But it did have a power that Seeker heard and felt. It carried itself in a contained fashion, vibrations reaching her ears but not the full impact. That hit the red chain as it was halfway to reaching Palkia. Once it did, the chain shuddered and crumbled into dust. Cyrus was caught in total shock when that happened.

    “What of Seeker?” one of the lake pokemon asked.

    “She is too far gone,” Mespirit said, sad to admit it. “Sorry.”

    “I found my purpose in life,” she said. “I don't care about anything else.”

    The three spirits then vanished. A second later, Mespirit appeared in front of Lucas. “We trust you with Palkia. But make sure to come play with me later, okay?” Then she left as well.

    At that point, the shock wore off. Cyrus briefly experienced a boiling rage that was even fiercer than what he'd experienced with Craig. But it wasn't focused at any one thing. It was directed at everything. “They broke the red chain,” he said, his true feelings roughening his words. “And then it... why did Mespirit appear in front of you?” It nearly focused into hate entirely on Lucas.

    Before it could, there was an enraged scream behind them from Palkia.”What the hell is going on?” it demanded in tones that shook Seeker to her bones. “Why are you trying to enslave my heart?” And the split in the sky began to fray further, threatening to rip apart everything before Palkia could come to its senses.

    Cyrus' rage ended at hearing that. He realized that it didn't matter what he did or Lucas did, or any of them did. In not that long, everything would end and a new world would probably not come about. But he accepted that. If he couldn't have his perfect world, then ending everything suited his purpose. Seeker knew that and it did not scare her either. If it was what he wanted, it would be so.

    And then there was the running footsteps of Lucas, his sneakers scattering loose stones on the ground. He went past Cyrus and closer to Palkia, throwing a pokeball at the immensely powerful Pokemon. Seeker didn't expect it to take hold; even a zubat could fight off a pokeball's hold if he or she wanted, so it should be impossible.

    Should be. It wasn't. No battle, no fuss, no fight, just one pokeball and Palkia wasn't there anymore. The fraying of the rip in the air slowed, and then stopped. While the split was still there, it was of no threat to the world now. Lucas slowed his pace to fetch the pokeball and come back.

    “The Master Ball,” Cyrus whispered, now regretting giving that to the boy. When Lucas passed by him again, he spoke up, saying, “So you have control of Palkia now. What are you going to do with it?”

    “Wait until it calms down,” Lucas answered, not showing a hint of pride. If anything, he was in awe of what he was holding in his hands. “Make sure it's okay. Then, I'll bring Palkia back up here to get that fixed and release it to go back to doing whatever it does. Couldn’t you feel it? Palkia is a force of nature. It doesn't deserve to be held captive by any means. But it doesn't seem to be thinking clearly now. I'll ask it to forgive me. What are you going to do?”

    As smart as he was, this baffled Cyrus. He didn't see how anyone could really be like that, but there was evidence in the way the boy sounded and the way his Pokemon responded to him. But that gave him enough time to regain his mental footing, returning his feelings to numbness. “This may have failed, but that does not mean that I will give up. I will disband Team Galactic for now.” Those who had managed to follow him up this far made sounds of being shocked, but Seeker just accepted it. “I will have my way in the end.” Then he left the area before anyone could stop him, Seeker following as always.

    -+-

    Seeker flew around in the icy winds. They hadn't gone too far. In fact, this place was where she had evolved. True to his word, Cyrus had sent the Galactic members away ahead of him, and had released his other three Pokemon onto the mountainside. Then he carefully made his way down a steep slope, ending up on a lower ledge. Nearby, there was a cave entrance.

    She followed him into the cave. “You can't release me,” she said, knowing that was true.

    “I would tell you to leave me as well, but I'm sure there would be no point in it,” he said. “The red thread would simply draw you back to me.” He continued on into the tunnel.

    “I wouldn't have a purpose if I was without you.”

    Once they were out of the way of the incoming winds, Cyrus dropped down to sit on the floor, his back to the rock wall. He seemed to be exhausted. “I know the paths of Mount Coronet well. This is a hidden path. Once all the rest of them clear out, we can return to Spear Pillar. That tear in space makes me wonder. I've read some things about a hidden world. Back when everyone was superstitious, they used to say it was on the other side of the sky.”

    Seeker perked up her ears, surprised to hear this. “Really? So there is something there! We just had to go a different way than just up.”

    “And once there, there may be something I can still do.” He clenched his fist. “I won't stand for anyone else being there this time. I should have known better. Don't rely on others, because they're stupid. All of them in Galactic under me, they were fools and I could use them as fools, or so I thought. But I was foolish too, getting attached to that boy enough to let him take the lake trio and the Master Ball. I thought someone of his intelligence deserved some kind of boost in this cruel world even if it wouldn't last long, but then he turned them both on me.

    “Maybe he thought he was saving the world, but it will turn on him too.” He then hit his fist against his thigh. “And it's always like that! Always at the end, after you've studied, experimented, run models on, planned, prepared... at the end, it all becomes a disaster, ruined by that one factor you thought was unimportant and everyone laughs at you, leaving you alone to pick up all the pieces.”

    She landed on the ground beside him and gently nipped at his hand. It was an awkward poise to have, but it might help relate to him better. “I'm with you.”

    Cyrus began rubbing the base of her ears, absentmindedly. “I wasn't going to wait on them to laugh this time. And I'm not going to put up with their foolishness anymore. I tried to act normal and seem compassionate to get others to do much of the work. That was just a sign that I still am imperfect. I will find a way to become perfect, and from there, the whole world will have to follow.”

    “And you'll do it,” she said, pushing her head into his hand.

    That action caused him to pause and look down at her. His words had been strengthening his view of the world. But that action caused an uncertainty. An unknown. “He did say that I had compassion for you,” Cyrus said, caught in a discrepancy and not sure what to make of it.

    Seeker pulled her wings to the back of her and relaxed. “I sacrificed my heart and dreams for you. If you wish to be perfect, then I will sacrifice my life as well. You are you whether I am here or not. But I am nothing without you.”

    Bringing his hands to his chest, Cyrus closed his eyes and considered things. Without anything to work on now, with his plans ruined, he soon fell fast asleep. Seeker stayed awake and made sure that he stayed safe and undiscovered.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  4. #4
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    I suppose I should thank the lurking readers for not posting when this was just a three part story. I was going to make it a one-shot, but then it got this long and I figured it wouldn't fit in one post. The three-part works nicely, I think.

    There were lots of questions that were wandering around in my mind in coming up with the idea, not just why Cyrus has a Crobat. There's also Maylene and why she acts the way she does. There's the 'huh what?' moment in which Cyrus gives the PC the Master Ball, and lets you free the lake trio. There's the reaction of the scientist NPC when you go to free the trio. And probably other questions that I can't recall right now. Oh yeah, and why no one seems to do anything about Team Galactic before you do, but then again, that's game standard plot for you.

    I hope you liked this story too.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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    Ugh, fine; I'll come out of the closet and say that I've been reading this. Actually, considering the recent character development with Seeker, I wonder if she and Maylene's Lucario meet up again, and he finds out what she did. It's one thing to intimidate the Pokemon that once heckled her all of the time and another to crumble a rather close friendship. While it's obvious that if that exchange happens, and Lucario will not take it well as it seems like he was the only thing that anchored Seeker to more happy thoughts, it seems like that secret wouldn't stay hidden forever. Also, I guess I should ask if you plan on explaining her evolution the same way you did her evolution to a Golbat and do a small flashback to how it happened, or are you going to actually describe her transformation in present tense somewhere in part three? Once all three are up, I'll come back and do a more formal review than this.
    Last edited by Agent Tectonic; 29th March 2012 at 5:19 AM.
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    Well, well, well. That answered a big question I always had about DPPt. You did a great job creating Seeker's character, she felt very real, and the story itself felt like a tragic love story if that makes any sense. I'm curious though, where did the idea for the red thread come from?
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    @Solar Sceptile: yay, dragged out a lurker! *chuckles* All three parts of the story are up, so it's complete as it stands. Seeker did evolve in the text, I just didn't describe it much (when she was listening to Cyrus train Sneasel on Mount Coronet, because in game D/P, it happens between the two battles you have with him.).

    It is an interesting possibility of having Seeker and Lucario meet up again, except that Cyrus doesn't intend on returning to Veilstone. I felt this was the point to end the story as she has sacrificed her identity and self to evolve for him.

    @SOS: The idea for the red thread came because I felt that Cyrus was scienifically minded and so he wouldn't simply rely on old myths for his big plans. He wanted to test the theory out, so he conducted it on a smaller scale with a smaller object.

    That, and Strangled by the Red Thread was my alternate title. Except I didn't want to make the play off that trope so obvious. (That is a TVTropes link, so beware).
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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    Aww, that was really good. Sometimes the descriptions could have been more fleshed out, but in a way it lent itself to the ebb and flow of everything going on.

    Of course, I have a soft spot for Cyrus fics, and you got him really well, even his underlying sadness. The part where he compared Lucas to himself and then said that he was doing the boy a favor by getting rid of everything before Lucas could realize how horrible the world is just broke my heart, since he'd just shown that he was talking about his own experience.

    Seeker is an excellent character, I have to say. In a way you play her as almost another commander, only far closer (even moreso than Mitsumi, who was raised to be just like him). And the whole ending...I'm STILL crying if that tells you anything. It was a fantastic display of brokenness and how, despite shunning things like compassion and friendship, all they had was each other.

    I do wonder though--why did he release his other pokemon? Surely he'd know that he still needs them (boy is he going to be sore when he gets to the Distortion World and realizes he lacks anything to Surf on).
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