This is a half-serious, half-comedic one-shot spin-off from Survival Project, but it CAN be read without reading my main fic! The only thing that you need to know is that Ezrem (the main character in this one-shot) has shorter wings than a normal rufflet and that he is a shiny pokemon.
Rated PG-13 for language.
FLIGHT - ;
There was something in the clouds.
There was a dark, black vortex up there. …Or a meteor that was coming to destroy everything in its path. Or—even better—a helicopter with a bunch of newscasters inside who were coming to tape us all and make us famous.
Okay, honestly, there is always something in the clouds, so me saying that there was something in the clouds has stopped being as interesting (and as alarming) as it sounds. More realistically, there were a ton of birds flying in one direction, one specific formation…
I wished that I was one of them, so I figured that trying to scare everyone up there was the best way to go. Alas, I was not one of them. I was but a lowly rufflet who could barely fly to his trainer’s shoulders without fearing the seemingly endless fall to the ground. I was restrained by the mere fact that my wings were too short. Nevertheless, I felt limitless, so my dreams were big. At some point—I was very young then, so don’t laugh—my biggest dream, next to trying to find a home, was to fly higher than the clouds. Higher than the other birds. Ah, yes, I was better than them, and I deserved to be treated as such.
I could see it now. Naturally, I would start from the ground and work my way up. I’d fly for a while, pause for a few moments to look at the tiny buildings and people that looked like bugs below me (very fitting, I thought), and then I wouldn’t look back. The clouds would be just within my reach. And there would be a very literal, very real sound—poof!—as I broke through the giant collection of water droplets. Some would bless me as they clung to my feathers on my way through. There wouldn’t be anyone up there, as I would be the only one deserving of this space above the unique, special clouds. It would be my space, and my space alone…
I have something that I must confess. I was owned by a trainer at this time. That means that I wasn’t going anywhere. Her name was Annie, and it was as if she had an invisible leash on me at all times, even though there was no such thing. It was really called a pokéball. Whenever I ventured too far she would call me back into that thing and time would pass as if I didn’t exist. Maybe I didn’t exist to her. She acted like I did, but I knew better. The other pokémon told me that it was just my disdain for her that told me so, but they didn’t know anything. Why didn’t I leave? I had nowhere else to go, had no sense of a home, anyway, so I figured I might as well have stayed.
One day, though, I got my chance. We had just received our sixth badge in the Unova region, and we thought that our journey was going to continue until we got the seventh and then the eighth and then… the pokémon league championship! But no. We went back to Annie’s home in Sandgem Town. I had never been there before then.
“I know you guys were all excited to continue our journey…” she started, looking so solemn, “but something has come up.” At this point, she smiled. The little devil smiled. I should have known better than to believe anything would have ever happened to someone like her. “I came to the realization that I don’t ever want our journey to end. Ever. So… we’re going to Sinnoh!”
Everyone—Kephi the venipede, Obieme the tepig, Virokoe the purrloin—cheered. I slapped myself in the head with my wing.
“I didn’t lie, though,” she said, still smiling. “There’s a problem. We don’t have any money to get to Sinnoh. We spent it all on Virokoe’s contests since he wanted to participate so bad”—she glared at the cat, but he only smirked—“so we need to raise some money.”
“Let’s battle a bunch of trainers!” Obieme cried. The fiery pig was just that. Fiery. Ready to go. All the time. I didn’t know how he did it.
“We’re in Sandgem Town, Obieme,” Annie said, shaking her head. “Do you remember being here? All the trainers are new. We can’t possibly ambush new trainers with our experience.”
“Sure we can,” I offered. “I’ll pretend to be your starting pokémon. And then I’ll evolve into the mighty braviary in the middle of the battle and ensure that they will never step foot outside of their hometown again.”
“Let me think about it,” she said, patting me on the head. When she added a sure “No,” I pulled away from her touch as fast as I could. She continued, “Well, we’re home now, so I thought we could hold a garage sale—”
“What the hell is that?”
That was Kephi. Kephi, after being tortured by all of the world for being a simple, boring bug, had decided that he would become tougher and more intimidating so everyone would leave him alone. So he had picked up Annie’s old habit of swearing. I would tell him that the act doesn’t work, but I am not so kind.
“That’s where we get a bunch of items in the house that we don’t want, and then sell them to make money. Easy,” Annie explained.
“What’s the point?” I sneered, being difficult.
“We can earn enough money to buy a plane ticket to Sinnoh. I’ve never been on a plane before, so it sounds fun. What do you guys think?”
Planes. I had heard of planes before, somewhere… Some place… And then it hit me—Mistralton City! That was it. That was my favorite city, since the gym leader owned flying-type pokémon. I fit right in. It was a shame that we couldn’t stay. But I had learned something very important in that city: there were things that could help me fly to the clouds without having actual wings. That was perfect, since I would never have the wings to fly. (I had joked about being a braviary, but the truth was that Annie wanted a team of baby pokémon… so when she caught us, she made us promise not to evolve or else we had to leave. Why had I stayed? Because I was lost and alone… but that is for another story, another time.)
“I think that’s a perfect idea,” I said loudly.
“Really?” She looked at me curiously. “It’s settled then.”
And that was when I thought I could make my dream come true.
I started making arrangements right away. This also meant that I ran into a dead end right away, because, well, I was a pokémon. I didn’t have belongings like humans did. All I had to my name was some seeds that Annie kept in her backpack for me. Didn’t that technically mean that the seeds were hers? So what was I supposed to sell? Really. As Kephi would say, what the hell was I supposed to sell?!
This was so unfair. I had to make sure that Annie got enough money to earn tickets, but there was nothing I could do. I watched as she gathered various things, things that I could never imagine her having. Lamps, children’s toys and clothes, books, CDs, old movies… She seemed to have it all. Spoiled brat, I thought, but I wasn’t deterred. I would come up with something. I thought and thought some more as I continued watching her. Over the next few days, she brought up tables from the basement and took them into the garage. She set them up and then had to set them up again when Obieme accidentally crashed into them and made them fall when he was practicing his headbutt attack. I scolded him, and he went away, but I could tell he only listened because he didn’t want me to talk to him like I knew everything, as I so often did.
The three of them were unconcerned. They had faith in their trainer, but I was determined. I would sell everything I had. Everything.
It took a couple more days for her to prepare. It seemed to me that she was in no hurry. I hounded her, constantly asked her why she couldn’t just start with the tables and all the stuff on them, but she insisted on setting things she called price tags. Couldn’t she just determine the price as customers came? No, then she could potentially get ripped off! Well, couldn’t she only decide prices for the most important things? All of it was important to her, she said. Then why was she selling the stuff? She had no answer to that.
Finally, though, the day came. And indeed, I had come up with an idea. She opened her garage and placed the table outside. Everything looked nice and neat, as it should, I decided, if any of it ever wanted to be sold. Dawn was just beginning to break, so no one was around on the streets, but Annie said that that would change soon, we just had to wait a little bit longer.
“I’m not the one being impatient,” said Virokoe, licking her paws in the process. “Ezrem is.”
“Shut your mouth or I’m going to make you help me with what I have planned.”
“Is this going to be some monstrous plan of yours that’s going to set all the stuff on fire?” Obieme asked. “Because that would be my job.”
“…That’s it. You’re all definitely helping me,” I said, pulling them over to me, away from Annie.
“What’s the big idea, *******?” Kephi said. I sort of felt bad, considering he hadn’t done anything to spite me, but I quickly dismissed my guilt after that insult.
“We’re going to sell things that are way better than the things Annie could ever sell, okay?” I said.
“Annie can do it. Why are you so worried? Why don’t you ever like anything she does?” Kephi said.
“Look, she’s doing something good. I’ll admit it. But I don’t want her to ruin it and not get enough money. I want to fly above the clouds… even if… even if I have to do it with you idiots.”
“Hey, now—” started Virokoe.
“Yeah, yeah. I know you all hate me. Someday I will leave you all, and you will be happy. It is my second dream, to find a home. Perhaps I will find more rufflet in Unova. But there, Annie could find me, like she found me the first time. It wouldn’t work. How’d she do that, anyway? Well, I will have to go to another region. Not Sinnoh, obviously. Kanto it is. Is Olivine City in Kanto? No, that’s Johto. Johto is popular here, too. What about Vermilion City? I have no idea. I can’t name a single significant thing about the Kanto region, and therefore it would be the perfect place to hide from all of you—”
I was only rambling to pass the time, but I stopped myself because, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone walking in our general direction. A girl walked casually toward us, a small brown pokémon trotting alongside her. Hopefully, they were coming to buy something!
“Dreams are meant to be broken, nightmares like you doubly so,” Obieme whispered, and I nudged him in the side to ensure his shutting up.
When she was closer, I could see that the girl’s eyes were facing straight ahead, showing no indication of viewing our garage sale. I ran out on the street, flapping my wings wildly, trying to get her attention. It seemed to work, since she glanced in the direction I was pointing in. She smiled.
“Oh, Annie, hi! It’s been a long time since you’ve been here, huh? I didn’t even think to check if you were home,” she said.
“Yeah,” Annie said, standing up and walking over to the girl to greet her. “How are you doing? I have so much to tell you…”
But I wasn’t listening to them. “Success!” I cried, and when he walked past me, I grabbed the lillipup that was accompanying her. I dragged him over to the others. He didn’t struggle at all.
“Why aren’t you struggling? Aren’t you supposed to scream and yell for your trainer or something for us kidnapping you?” I asked.
“I-I just… didn’t want you to hurt me…” he said, visibly shivering.
“Fair enough,” I said. “Look, buddy, do you know what’s going on here?”
“We’re trying to sell items for a plane ticket. You’re going to help us.”
“He is?” said Obieme. “I thought we were helping you.”
“You are helping me. This is Obieme the tepig. Do you know what a tepig is?”
“Tepig is one of the starting pokémon that Professor Juniper gives out, right?”
“Right. He is strong. He is noble. He is everything you probably wish you could be.” I embraced Obieme to make it look like everything I was say was true. He grunted, but he didn’t pull away. “Wouldn’t you like to have one for yourself on your own team? If you give us some potions or something to sell—whatever your trainer has in her backpack—then I’ll make sure that Professor Juniper will give your trainer a brand new pokémon for the team.”
“But my trainer says she doesn’t want a pokémon from Professor Juniper… She feels it’s too… cliché…” the lillipup said, rubbing his paws together nervously. He wouldn’t look at me, so he didn’t see my face fall.
“Awkward,” I said. “Well, starting pokémon isn’t the only thing that Professor Juniper specializes in. She also has done work on some crazy stuff. Mind reading, x-ray vision, the works…”
“She has? How do you know?”
“Just ask Obieme here yourself,” I said, squeezing him tighter. He felt hot against my skin, but I would have to ignore it for now.
“Uh… Yeah,” Obieme said, catching on. “If you give us things to sell then we’ll ensure that the professor will give you the ability to read minds if you ever see her.”
“What do I need that for?” the pup asked, though his tone was brighter.
“You could use it to see what your trainer thinks of you,” I said quickly, glancing back and forth between the two.
“Or you could use it to read the future attacks of every opponent you face,” Obieme added, nodding. “You’ll never get hurt again.”
“W-Well, that does sound appealing…”
“Of course it does. Potions and antidotes and awakenings, please,” I said, holding out my wings.
“Uh,” he said. “Hold on…”
He made his way over to his trainer, who was still conversing with Annie happily. He stood there, and I wondered for a while if he was going to do anything. Maybe he had changed his mind. He looked at me shyly, and I prodded him along, so he poked his trainer in the leg and got her attention. He barked a few times and motioned to the backpack. I heard the trainer say something about him being hungry, and then she removed the bag, handed it to the lillipup, and (I think) told him where all the food was. The lillipup grabbed it in his mouth and dragged it over to us.
“Good work, fellow,” I said, starting to dig into the backpack without his permission. “I’ll just take your payment now.”
I took out about five potions, two antidotes, some berries (which may or may not have been eventually consumed during our boredom), and some empty pokéballs. I took out about everything they had. Obviously, these two were about to go on a journey somewhere. Well, hopefully it was to Twinleaf Town, so they could see Professor Juniper… or perhaps I shouldn’t have been wishing that, since it seems that the girl personally knew Annie. Either way, I was getting what I wanted, and that was all that mattered.
“Thank you so much,” the lillipup said. “So we just go see Professor Juniper whenever, right? And explain the situation?”
“Anything for the idea of unbreakable courage,” I said, bowing. “And yes. I’m sure she can understand pokémon, since all she does is study them.”
“I can’t believe that worked,” Obieme said when the trainer and the lillipup left, and then started counting off the amount of items we had. I noticed that the girl had bought some items, too. Double success.
“I can’t believe you didn’t mess that up,” I said nonchalantly, silently proud of myself. It earned me a good glare or two.
More time passed, and no one else came. We still had the whole day ahead of us, so I was calmer. Annie was joyfully humming a tune I didn’t recognize, and the others were napping in the sun. I warned them that they shouldn’t get too comfortable, because I would (hopefully) need them soon, but all they did was snort at me.
At last, a boy came walking down the street, walking… walking… Yes, yes! But when he was close enough, it was clear to me that he had no pokémon with him. Well, that just about ruined my mood, until I remembered that Annie could understand me, since she had spent so much time with me and the others. Perhaps she could help me. Yeah, it was worth a try. What kind of trainer wouldn’t want to see her pokémon’s dreams come true? I would need someone to help me, though. Why did I always need someone to help me? I had a penchant for other peoples’ attention, I supposed, so I went and got Virokoe. He seemed perfect for the job.
“Just look absolutely, positively… cute, as you normally do,” I said simply to him. He snapped at me immediately, not very happy after being woken up from his nap. I barely jumped out of the way of his feline paws. “Good job,” I added.
My plan had me assuming that this guy had no pokémon. He had no belt on his waist with pokéballs lined across, so that only strengthened my thoughts further. He really just seemed too young to have gotten one yet. When he came to speak to Annie, his pipsqueak voice only seemed to confirm it. Still, like every other boy, he had probably at least dreamed of having pokémon. Maybe, then, he had already stocked up on items… pokéballs… pokémon clothing… You know, things I could sell if they were in my possession. If the boy could see just how darling Virokoe was, then he’d surely have to give up some of those items. We were clearly poor and in need of money, so he’d have to give something up. Anything. Oh, but elaborate plans always go a little bit awry.
The boy went to Annie, smiled, and looked around… His gaze went past me, and then back to me. And he gaped. “I want that rufflet!” he cried, his arm extending toward me at the speed of light.
“You do?” Annie said, putting her hands together in delight. “Isn’t he just precious?”
I spat. Precious, she said, when she otherwise acted like I was the worst thing to happen to her. I went behind Virokoe and pushed him forward; he was too distracted by the situation to really show his dismay at what I was doing to him.
“Wouldn’t you like this… nice… purple… cat instead?” I said, grinning.
“Ezrem, we are not getting rid of Virokoe,” Annie said sternly, crossing her arms seriously now.
“Well, rufflet are very rare and strong, right?” the boy said, practically jumping up and down from excitement. “You can usually only get them at the end of your journey. And he’s—”
“He’s mine,” Annie said.
“Why don’t you tell this kind boy that instead of having me, he can support me?” I looked at him. “From very far, far away. Have him give us items and stuff.”
“Yeah,” Annie said. She said to the boy, “Oh. Ezrem says that if you like him so much, you can give him items… and stuff.”
“No, really, do you not see how special that rufflet is? He’s—“
“Can you tell this guy I’m not special?” I said, throwing my wings up in the air. “Tell him that all brains like patterns. That’s what brains are supposed to do. They like patterns. Only it sees patterns that aren’t there. The brain will try to help, will try to filter out everything he’s seeing now into what it knows as right. Tell this guy he should never trust what he sees or hears unless someone else is confirming it”—I stopped to make sure that Annie was repeating everything I was saying, and she was, though rather slowly—“and no one is confirming that I’m special.”
The boy looked at us, dumbfounded. “I think I should leave now,” he said. “I’m going to get my own rufflet, in that case…”
“Good,” I said. “Get out of here. Anyone who really wants to take me away from Annie is a jerk.”
“I’m not going to repeat that,” Annie said, “but thanks.”
I didn’t even believe what I was saying, but I didn’t tell her that. I wanted her to like me so that she’d give me what I wanted. If I kept bouncing around between trainers, then the likelihood of me becoming close to someone and having them want my dreams to come true would dwindle to nothing…
The boy walked away while I was lost in thought, confused within my own words.
Soon, another boy showed up. And no other young boy in his right mind would go anywhere without his pokémon, so of course his little pidove—a mostly gray and black bird with noticeably large, golden eyes—was sitting on his shoulder, content to be looking at everything that Annie had to offer.
I went over to shake Kephi awake, since his behavior would be the same whether or not he was tired. “Wake up,” I said, and before he could swear at me, he was quickly gathering the attention of the bird. It hit me that, well, birds liked to eat bugs… This couldn’t be going any more swimmingly.
“I swear to ****ing Arceus, Ezrem, if you get me eaten, then I’m going to—“
“Shut up,” I said. “I have an idea.”
I flew up to the trainer, causing him to stagger backwards, almost to fall. He caught himself upright and allowed myself to perch myself on his other shoulder.
“You have no shame, do you?” asked Kephi.
The other bird seemed unperturbed by my landing. “I want that bug,” he said simply.
“Yes, yes, I will get to that. First, I want us to get off of your trainer so that he can go mooch whatever belongings he wants off of my trainer. Understand?”
The pidove blinked, then said, “Yes,” and so we flew to the ground. Instinctively, I guarded myself in front of Kephi. Even if we weren’t totally fond of each other, I still felt protective of him.
“Look, Pidove, we’re trying to raise money here. And I’ve got a deal for you—”
“I don’t have any money.”
“Give us items to sell or get your trainer to give us money. Whatever works. Anyway, I’ve got a deal for you, okay?”
“Does it involve the venipede?”
I looked at Kephi, who was clearly fuming and trying not to lash out. “Yes…” I said slowly, cautious, “and no. This venipede is special, do you understand? He’s special because his, uh, poison sting attack actually is made up of a special potion. He was genetically modified when he was younger, see, so… anyone who succumbs to his poison sting is capable of inducing and making use of this potion. It’s a love potion.”
“A love potion?”
“Yes. With this love potion you can attract any kind of pokémon—or human, even—to you with minimal effort. This includes bugs. Do you see what I’m getting at?” I patted Kephi on the back for effect, indicating that I wasn’t afraid of him or his poisonous self, when indeed, he had threatened me with it various times in the past.
“I think so. So I can attract anyone and everyone?”
“Yes. You can walk up to a nice female bug, and… You’re a male, right? Anyway, you can say something off-putting like… ‘I love hoarse voices and long walks in crypts,’ and you’d immediately capture her heart. Ugh, I can just imagine it now…”
But the pidove still looked skeptical. “How do I know you’re not trying to poison me?” he asked.
“We live here.” I pointed to the house behind us. “You can find us here anytime and sue us or something if you end up in the pokémon center. Fair?”
“I guess,” the pidove said. “Let’s get this over with. I’m hungry.”
“Do the honors, Kephi,” I said. “It’s all about you, now.”
“****ing idiot,” Kephi said under his breath. I could still hear him, since I was close. “You know I can’t control whether or not someone gets poisoned. I mean, it won’t kill him unless I drown him in it, but still. You’re ****ing sick.”
“Yeah, yeah, you can tell me all about it later,” I said. I pecked at the bug, urging him to go on. “Just give him the tiniest drop you can manage. It can’t be that dangerous.”
“But it can!” the venipede whispered.
“Is there a problem over here, guys?” I heard a voice say. I didn’t recognize it. It nearly made me jump with its huskiness, its authority. Next to him was Annie, who was holding cash in her hands. So the boy had bought a thing or two. Success…? Maybe. If Kephi could just keep his mouth shut for a few more minutes—
“Annie, Ezrem’s trying to make me ****ing kill this bird with a poison sting just so he can fly on a plane and be a real bird! The nerve of him!” Kephi yelled, skittering over to our trainer in a nervous fashion.
So much for him keeping quiet. And so much for my plans working. Had I gone too far? Maybe. But isn’t that what you were supposed to do when you wanted to achieve your dreams? Go too far? Risk a little something? So what if this little bird was risked in the process? It’s not like it was a great staraptor that acted as a pilot for the entire region. It wasn’t like this was a trainer who had earned more badges than us. He could be sacrificed. Right?
Annie didn’t think so. As she usually did when she got mad at me, her cheeks puffed up and they turned red. Her eyes looked fierce. Yes, she was about to blow up on me.
“Ezrem! I can’t believe you!” she cried.
“Is that true, Pidove?” the boy asked. How dare he have such a masculine voice at such a young age. His voice shook me further than I wanted to be shaken. And wasn’t Annie going to at least ask if what Kephi said was true, too? Nah, she wouldn’t believe me. I looked around sheepishly.
“Geez, Ezrem,” she went on. “You are always like this! How would you like it if I did that to you? What if I put, um”—she picked up something off the nearby table—“this carpet cleaner all over you? And then I wouldn’t wash it off! Yeah! And I’m going to feed you so many honey barbeque chips and make you a fat bird just so I can have more room to pour it on to you. And then I’m going to break the air conditioning so you’ll be hot forever. I know you hate that. …Except then I’ll have to fix it because it’s my air conditioning. Well, I’m also going to make you a sweater that only covers your left side, so your right side will be cold. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do, and then—”
“So… Annie… What are you really trying to say?” I said. There was going to be a catch. There was always a catch at the end of her somewhat amusing—okay, highly amusing—ramblings. I stood there, alone in the midst of her yelling. Being alone wasn’t the same thing as being lonely, though—I still had my dreams with me—but over the months I had gotten tired of explaining the difference. So now when Annie and Kephi and Obieme and Virokoe looked at me with condescending pity when they told me who and what I was to them, I just pretended to suffer and everyone was happy. This means that I was trying hard not to laugh, I was trying to look like I was crying instead, and really I didn’t want to give her the pleasure of me laughing anyway, so I just wanted her to give me the news now, now—
“We’re taking the ferry instead.”