This is his moment. This is the make-or-break, the decision that will change the course of his life. This is the pivotal battle that will change the course of his destiny and catapult him into greatness.
This is, of course, his one chance to pitch his startup idea to a reclusive billionaire. There are many reclusive billionaires in the world, but this one is the one who seems the most promising. Rich, amoral, and terrified of death.
The startup founder had been blindfolded on the way here, not allowed to know a single detail about where the reclusive billionaire lived. The limousine ride here had been comfortable, but after the first twenty right turns he had given up on trying to keep track on just how many turns they'd made and how long they'd been driving.
It seemed excessive, downright paranoid, and the startup founder wasn't sure he'd make it back out alive if he failed to sell this idea. But when he got to thinking about it on that long ride up, it had started to make sense. Billionaires were either reclusive or philanthropic; it didn't pay off to flaunt your wealth to the masses, unless you also made a very good case why you should be trusted with money. All it took was one disgruntled Pokemon trainer with luck on her side, and all that money would be worthless. After all, you couldn't take it with you.
That was part of the reason why so many billionaires dedicated so much of their time and effort to charitable causes, such as Lusamine of the Aether Foundation.
Rose, of Macro Cosmos.
Lysander, of Flare.
…At least before the Lumiose incident.
The startup founder thinks he has a good idea, and the risk is worth it, because if his pitch works, he shall have his wildest dreams. The world will have its wildest dreams.
The room is dimly lit; the reclusive billionaire is cast in shadow as the startup founder explains himself. He starts with promises, his voice shaky but growing in confidence as he speaks; pie-in-the-sky dreams that his startup aims to make reality. The end of disease, the end of hunger, the end of death. But just when he is about to reveal his plans, the reclusive billionaire speaks.
The startup founder nods, though he is slightly perturbed that the reclusive billionaire figured it out so quickly. "The ability to grow cultures of Pokemon cells in-vitro will allow us to isolate exactly what gives Pokemon such great regenerative abilities. After that, we'll try to replicate the process in vivo. That could lead to advances in health and medicine. Limb regeneration, cures for neurodegenerative diseases… reversing aging."
The last phrase is bait; the reclusive billionaire is known for his extensive interest in immortality research, but research in those fields has been drying up in the past few years. The billionaire's last bet on immortality research had been a partnership with Lysander Labs; that had fallen through after the Lumiose debacle and Lysander's declaration as missing-presumed-dead.
The billionaire had withdrawn from public life in the wake of all the investigations. After Lysander's declarations and subsequent branding as an enemy of all mankind, it wouldn't do to let the International Police get too curious about any other billionaires with interests in immortality.
It wouldn't do to let the biotechnology sector be faced with as much scrutiny as the Energy sector, which had never truly recovered from scandalous collapse of Galactic. Galactic's plan, though thankfully thrwarted, was one of the major reasons energy plants were either under the control of regional governments, or else held by much larger conglomerates, such as Macro Cosmos in Galar.
"The last major advances in cloning," the billionaire says, "If I recall… The most promising work was done in the Kanto Region. The Fuji Labs, if I'm not mistaken, though after their initial rounds of funding they all but vanished from the public eye."
"I never looked into it," the startup founder says. The Fuji labs had been founded in a time when news was slow and digital media and archives were primitive. "It struck me as odd that there was so little research into such a promising field."
"The Fuji Labs were destroyed under mysterious circumstances," the billionaire says, his voice hard. "No survivors. No further work to build on. Digital records suggest that there was some recovery effort, but… it's hard to say exactly what happened. Whoever did it was trying to deter further research into the field. They succeeded."
The start-up founder frowns. "I never heard anything about that in my research…"
"It was all kept hush-hush. The circumstances were too mysterious to allow the incident into the public eye."
"And if I may ask, how do you know about it?"
"The same way I know that the Aether Foundation has its grubby little fingers in all sorts of exotic genetics research," the billionaire says bitterly. "I know everything. I am the holder of the Seeing Stones… so to speak."
"Oh," the startup founder says, trying to keep his voice light, despite the grim revelations. "So if you've got an in with the Aether Foundation, then I suppose you don't need my help."
"Don't be an idiot. You're here because the Aether Foundation refuses to work with me on humanitarian grounds. They think I'm a monster because I like a few conservative policies. I have a few people who give me a general pulse of the place. And it's not like the Aether Foundation gives a damn about secrecy. They let their abomination of a chimera participate in the first Alolan Pokemon league, for Arceus's sake. But they don't have any research into cloning, specifically."
"It's odd," the startup founder says, sensing an opportunity. "For some reason cloning remains anathema. It's illogical, when there are so many possible advances…"
The billionaire nods. "And that's why we're talking. Your experimental plan?"
"Start with Pokemon genomes we understand fairly well," the startup founder says. "Normal types. Buneary, Patrat, Skitty. Fairly common. No one will miss a few vermin. Then, once we've got a good handle on how their cells behave in vitro and in vivo, move on to phenotypically similar Pokemon with more exotic abilities. We're thinking Mareep, Mudbray, and Skiddo."
"What are you expecting?"
"Bioluminescence from the Mareep, animal photosynthesis from Skiddo, and physical resilience from the Mudbray. We're hoping those last two will have significant applications in life extension. If we're lucky, we might be able to harness some of the more exotic phenomena – Skitty's ability to heal minor wounds via sonic phenomena, or Buneary's, ah, 'Healing Wish'."
'Healing Wish' was a Pokemon move. When a Pokemon used Healing Wish, it would expend almost all of the energy it had, falling into a near-comatose state, but the next Pokemon to enter the field of battle would be fully revitalized, no matter how injured it had been before – so long as it was still alive.
Unfortunately, Healing Wish usually didn't work on humans. That panacea remained in the realm of myths and legends. Esoteric Pokemon such as Jirachi were said to grant any wish, and Shaymin were said to purge whole lands of toxins, but obviously neither of those could be extended to a mass-market healthcare product.
"'Healing Wish' in vitro…" the billionaire muses. "It's an esoteric ability. But if you could splice it from a Buneary into a Mime Jr. line, you'd be one step closer to human implementations…"
"Imagine a future where those on the brink of death could be revived by just a Healing Wish," the startup founder says. "Where youth can be restored, disease destroyed, by a noble few willing to lay themselves on the line… once we manage the splicing, we'll be one step closer. And once we manage a human implementation, anything is possible."
The billionaire's eyes gleam with avarice and hunger, as if the stars above are in his reach, and eternity awaits. Then he returns to earth and stares the startup founder in the eye. "One million dollars in seed capital."
"What's your time horizon?"
The billionaire chuckles. It's not a pleasant laugh – it's as if he forces the air from his lungs in hacking puffs. "I expect results before I'm too decrepit to consent to treatment. But if you manage to burn a million dollars in a year, you'd better have something to show for it. Then we can talk more funding."
"A million dollars is frankly more than we were hoping for."
"I know. I read your proposal. You were asking for a hundred-kay. But you've done your research, you know what I'm actually after…"
"Eternity," the billionaire corrects. "I give you a million dollars, and you hand me eternal life? A worthwhile investment for infinite returns."