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Old 08-13-2013, 09:22 PM   #13
MarbleZone
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Finally.

It had been almost a week of flying. Baal had requested an impressively sparse number of stops along the way, but Levin insisted they rest every night – it didn’t feel right to ride such a proud Pokemon for so long as if he was little more than a means of transportation. Even if he had acknowledged Levin as his Trainer, Baal still valued his own dignity above all else, so the least the young man could do was to show some manner of respect.

After several days of enduring increasingly higher temperatures and many nights spent in the wilderness, far from civilization, they had finally made it to the southern land of Pompas Gaseosas, one of the hottest places on Fizzy Bubbles save, perhaps, for Cortoza’s active volcanoes.

The bird’s eye view of the land below was unbelievable. Lush green woods to the east contrasted with the sandy landscape in the south, and the northern part of Pompas consisted of imposing ridges whose peaks pierced the clouds. To the west stands a vast plains with several tiny specks you assume to be houses – quite possibly the farmers whose livestock has been attacked over the last months, the victims of his rampant Druddigon… the reason he was here now.

- Baal, over there is where we’ll mostly likely find what we’re looking for. But don’t land, I just need you to hover over the houses for now.

He had a semblance of a plan. He had no idea how powerful Druddigon had grown while he roamed the wild, but he’d heard about several attacks on trainers by a Dragon-Type which, by description and location of the attacks, could only have come from El Rojo. And in that case, he couldn’t just charge in blindly and challenge him; he needed to assure the upper hand.

After a long while of flying to the west, Baal began to lower his altitude until he was mere feet away from the farmers’ houses. Fortunately the sun had just set, so most of them were already indoors and he attracted little attention. It also meant that Druddigon should be showing up to feast on the unsuspecting Mareep and Miltank.

- Keep it steady now.

His fingers grazed through the six Pokeballs he’d brought with him. One of them, a Timer Ball, belonged to Baal. The one he was looking for was a regular Ball, housing a much smaller, but equally invaluable Pokemon. He pressed the device’s central button and released the creature inside: Opal the Venonat.

Other than the cattle in the corrals, I don’t expect any other Pokemon to be near the settlement… except for one. It’s a long shot, but if it works he’s as good as mine.

He tapped the sleepy little furball on the head and whispered.

- Love, I need you to use your Sweet Scent, there’s someone I need to catch. Can you do that for me?

The shy Venonat nods vigorously, eager to help as always, and her fur starts to undulate and then vibrate as it releases countless pink spores that rain down on the ground below. After a short while she stops and looks at Levin expectantly.

- That was perfect, sweetie, now all we have to do is wait. But it’s getting late, you go get your rest, we’ll handle it from here.

He recalled the Poison-Type and asked Baal to take fly up again; he didn’t want Druddigon to catch sight of them if he was indeed lured. The sky was dark by now, and the air was getting chilly. After a while of waiting, a roar was heard.

Could that be?...

It was hard to make out, but suddenly a dark spot on the grass could be seen. Squinting, he began to make out what it was. Moving silently on all fours, uncharacteristic of the species, was a large spiky dragon. He took the bait.

Long time no see, Druddigon. Now, step two of the plan…

This was the trickiest part. It involved relying on the unreliable, and Levin was rarely comfortable in this kind of situation. Still, it had to be done. He unclipped a Chocolate Ball from his belt, brought it close to his lips and whispered a simple set of instructions.

- Look up and follow the Aerodactyl. Whatever happens, just keep running.

He tossed the Ball all the way down to the ground below. As it opened, a very confused Bibarel looked around nervously, before remembering the first part of Levin’s orders. Boo looked up, spotted Baal and waved excitedly at his Trainer. It was only when a second roar was heard, coming from behind the plump beaver, that Boo stopped and turned around. Dangerously near and closing in was Druddigon, eyes set on a meal he’d never tried before.

- Baal, to the beach, now!

The Aerodactly turned around and flapped his wings vigorously, flying south as fast as he could. Levin couldn’t afford to stay around to find out, but he prayed that Boo remembered the second part of his instructions like he did the first.

- BIIIiiiiiiIIIIIiiiiIIIIiiiiIIIIIiiiIIII!!!

He did. The Bibarel instinctively ran away in fear in a random direction at first, before Levin’s words echoed in his underdeveloped brain. ”Follow the Aerodactyl.” He looked up again just in time to see Baal speed away, clumsily changed direction mid-dash and took after the dinosaur. Druddigon hungrily gave chase, and the second part of Levin’s plan was set into motion.

----

The sound of the waves was both soothing and nerve-wrecking; this would be the stage for Druddigon’s capture, so long as everything kept going as he predicted.

- We’re here Baal, let’s land over there by the water.

The Sky Ruler growled in agreement. He dove down and landed gracefully, then lowered his head to allow Levin to dismount. Taming you was one of my biggest accomplishments. How hard it must have been for you to cast aside your pride and lower yourself to my level. Thank you friend.

The young Trainer hopped to the floor, soft and inviting. The sand always reminded him of the holidays spent with his family when he was a child, before Ivan’s tragedy. Those were peaceful times, but Levin couldn’t help but feel more freedom now than he did back then. Maybe it made him a terrible person, but living outside of his brother’s shadow and away from his chronically depressed parents felt better than any childhood memory. His moment, his life, was now. Still, he looked off into the distance with a heart heavy with anticipation.

Boo, don’t you dare die on me…

The adorably dumb Bibarel was one of his dearest friends; the fact that he practically fed him to a feral dragon was driving him mad with guilt, but only he could pull this off! No other Pokemon in his team would remotely interest the Druddigon as far as a tasty-looking meal went, and practically nobody ran faster than a panicking Boo. It was the only sure-fire way of luring the Druddigon over without raising the cunning beast’s suspicion; a constant downpour of Sweet Scent or the melody of his White Flute would certainly make the dragon suspicious, he wouldn’t underestimate the intelligence of a Pokemon who had eluded capture for so long, even by the authorities.

It was time for the fourth element in his elaborate plot to come into play. Levin walked to the shore, retrieved yet another Pokeball from his belt and tossed it over to the water. From within emerged the devious mind known as Krem the Cloyster.

- You're my failsafe. If the next events get out of hand, I'll need you to step in as subtly as you can. If you interfere, you'll have to do so unnoticed, or we'll lose what little advantage we've built up. We're up against a smart one this time, and I can't afford to let him flee a second time.

Krem nodded silently and submerged, grinning all the while. Unsettling as it may be to most, Levin learned to be reassured by the Cloyster's smirk; it meant he knew exactly what to do.

He clenched his fist; it was almost time, as long as Boo didn't get himself caught. The waiting game was something he thoroughly enjoyed when he was firmly in control of a situation, but this time, it was agonizing. He turned to Baal.

- Ready to fight?

The Aerodactly roared with determination and set eyes on the horizon just as his Trainer did. And fortunately, not long after, a familiar sound echoed through the night, disrupting the sound of the ocean.

-... biiiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!

You awesome silly furball!

Boo ran in a straight line right toward his Trainer, his face lighting up at the sight of Levin. Right behind him was the ravenous Druddigon, who luckily hadn't given up the chase midway, or it'd all have been for nothing.

- Great job Boo, return!

He recalled the Bibarel into his Chocolate Ball as soon as he was in range. That had unquestionably been Boo's crowning moment. The dragon stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of Levin, looking surprised and enraged immediately afterwards.

- So you do remember me. I'm here to take you back; you've done enough damage already!

Druddigon growled and quickly turned around, ready to flee back the way he came, but Baal was one step ahead and dove down from above, cutting his path.

Not this time.
The only way the dragon could escape was by Surfing away through the sea behind Levin, but he had Krem waiting for him there. Either way, Druddigon didn't seem to contemplate this choice, instead adopting a fighting stance, opting to run through Baal instead. It was on!

- Baal, let's do this! Let's start with a Bite to put him in his place!

There was a glaring problem with Baal's offense at this moment; all of his moves were short-ranged. And going into a melee fight with an opponent he didn't know made him uncomfortable.
Baal lunged forward, jaws agape, ready to rip the dragon's head off if need be; if bad came to worse they might need to do just that, but for now, Levin would rather just recapture El Rojo.

Druddigon stood his ground, motionless, until the very last second, suddenly ducking under the charging opponent and striking him square in the gut from below with a Sucker Punch. He learned that kind of move on his own?! Baal roared in pain and took to the skies, looking to create some distance after the failed first strike. But no matter what, you'll have to close in again...

Druddigon slammed his fists in the sand, getting noticeably pumped up. Levin reckoned this was the dragon's first taste of a real battle in a long time, and he was clearly enjoying it; up until now, his prey probably never put up much of a fight.

- Alright, let's try again! Fly circles around him just above the ground, then strike with Ice Fang as soon as you spot an opening!

Baal swoop down and obeyed his intructions flawlessly, skillfully manoeuvering just slightly above the sand in a circular motion around Druddigon. The dragon followed with his eyes, biding his time, until he leapt forward in a split-second, looking to land a Crush Claw but just barely missing; seeing the opening he was aiming for, Baal charged his jaws with freezing energy and delivered a powerful Ice Fang that sent El Rojo reeling. This time it was Druddigon's time to create distance, leaping back to recover from the vicious hit. The Aerodactyl was relentless however, and lunged forward in pursuit, striking with a Wing Attack of his own initiative that sent the dragon tumbling back several steps, landing close to the water. Levin looked on expectantly, but Krem was nowhere to be found... what was he waiting for?!

Druddigon got up slowly, eyes locked on Baal all the time. The Sky Ruler, possibly innebriated with his earlier success, jolted forward to charge once more, heedless of new instructions; Levin should have expected some of the old habits to have remained...

- Baal, wait! Don't just...

Too late. Druddigon, as if expecting Baal's behaviour, stared the beast directly in the eye as it charged. The draon's yellow eyes started to glow ominously, emitting an aura of sheer terror that somehow froze Baal in place, filled with hesitation, interrupting his attack. Glare...
Spotting his own opening this time, El Rojo ran straight towards the stunned Aerodactyl, tail glowing with a familiar light; however, the Iron Tail he'd grown accustomed to see used by so many of his own teammates looked somehow different on Druddigon, shining brighter than usual... and as it connected, the impact was much harder than any other he'd ever witnessed, flooring Baal in one strike... knocking him out!

What the hell was that? Where did so much power come from? Such sheer... wait. Sheer Force?!

If that was the case, then El Rojo was even more dangerous than he'd anticipated; many of his moves would be much stronger than usual, at the expense of their side effects, which rarely triggered anyway... it was a scary Ability, on a very scary Pokemon.

The Aerodactyl had been defeated twice in two fights now. While it did not bode well for Baal's spirit, maybe it would finally make him understand that he needed Levin's guidance. He sighed and recalled the prehistoric beast into his Timer Ball; this was the first setback in his plan. He'd have to play his trump card now...

- Alright Druddingon, let's find you a proper opponent, shall we?

He unclipped a Premier Ball from his belt, housing one of his oldest and strongest friends; the first one to join him after Min. If he couldn't get the job done, there was no way the rest of the Pokemon he'd brought along could beat the dragon... It was all riding on him!

- Don't let me down... Your turn, Gaius!

The Gible materialized on the soft sand, his native environment, and looked at the much larger opponent with interest. Levin could only hope Gaius's ego wouldn't get the better of him like what happened with Baal, but he knew his little dragon - he had no shortage of self-confidence.

El Rojo and Gaius locked eyes, ready to clash. The Druddigon showed no outward signs of fatigue, even with the Ice Fang from before, but Levin knew the damage had been done; there was no way he was at a hundred percent. They just had to keep the pressure up!

- Let's start off strong! Trap him in a Sand Tomb and let loose with a flurry of Slashes while he's stuck!

Happy to comply, Gaius buried his claws on the ground; suddenly, the sand around Druddigon's feet began to swirl, and the dragon started to sink until he was buried chest-high! Seizing the moment, Gaius dashed forward and hit Rojo with a combination of Slash attacks, not letting up, each strike making the opponent roar in pain. It was only when the Gible stopped for a breather that Levin took a good look at their foe - battered and bleeding from a couple of deeper cuts, but grinning just like Gaius was. Sick bastard. I'll wipe that smug look off your face!

- Gaius, he's got nowhere to run! Finish him off with your Dragon Rush!

It was one of the Gible's strongest moves, one that he had just recently mastered in a sparring session with Buster the Heracross. If he managed to connect with it, not even Druddigon would be able to withstand it, not in his current state!
Gaius jumped up, blue energy surrounding his tiny frame and suddenly propelling it forward at incredible speed, the aura changing its shape to that of a dragon's head ready to snap its ethereal jaws around the target. But at the last second, El Rojo raised his head and began to spin, sinking himself even deeper until he vanished completely under the ground, Gible narrowly missing him and crashing down hard.

It knows Dig as well?! The realization that this Pokemon had learned more moves on his own than many of Levin's teammates under his tutelage was deeply disturbing. Either he was a terrible Trainer, or Druddigon was a prodigy... which was all the more reason why he absolutely had to recapture him!

- Gaius, hang in there! Follow him with your own Dig and force him back up, then blast with a Dragon Pulse when you resurface!

Struggling to get back to his feet after the missed Dragon Rush, Gaius growled after realizing what had happened. Quickly giving chase, he buried himself deep underground after his opponent, and for a moment, everything went silent once again.

Even though things have stopped moving according to plan, even though I hate that, and even though Druddigon is humiliating me and my skills as a Pokemon Trainer, somehow, I'm still enjoying this... The challenge, the need to adapt, the risk of failure and the value of the reward... and above all, the battle! It's been a while since my last match, since Ivan thrashed me utterly and completely in that dream. So this battle will be the stepping stone in my road to redemption, my quest to challenge him one more time and surpass him, as he expects me to do! And I will absolutely not let Druddigon get the better of me a second time!

The sand beneath his feet started to shake slightly, the intensity of the tremors increasing progressively until the two dragons reemerged simultaneously, and each fired a Dragon Pulse at the other, precisely at the same time!
The two orbs collided and expanded, followed by a tremendous explosion that kicked up so much sand, Levin had to cover his eyes and mouth, losing sight of the battle for a moment. When he looked again, the Gible was lying on the floor several feet away from him, while Druddigon stood firmly near the shore... Rojo shot him a glance of triumph before starting to walk toward the fallen Gaius to deliver the last strike. No...

After the first couple of steps, Druddigon let out a small growl of pain, stammering briefly as something seemed to hurt his foot. The pain apparently subsided quickly, probably a scratch from a broken shell buried in the sand, and he quickly dismissed it, resuming his march toward his downed opponent. He picked Gaius up with one of his huge claws, lifted him off the ground and prepared to land the final blow, the claws on his free hand glowing ominously as he charged his Crush Claw. And just then, the Gible opened his eyes.

What's this? Could it be?!

Gaius's body began to glow, startling Druddigon who instinctively let go of him. His frame grew, sharp edges protruding from the expanding mass of light, and when the glow subsided, the let out a powerful, imposing roar.

- Gaius, you... You did it! You evolved!!

The dragon admired his fins and claws for a brief moment, nodded and grinned right back at El Rojo, was wasn't smiling anymore. But that wasn't a look of fear either... Both dragons were filled with fierce determination. The real battle started now! And we still have a fighting chance after all!

- Alright, show him your new power! Blast him with Stone Edge!

Several sharp rocks materialized around Gaius, orbiting around him before flying toward Druddigon. In response, the dragon gathered water energy around his tail and swung it in a swift motion, the Aqua Tail blocking and shattering most of the projectiles, nullifying Stone Edge. But then...

- Gaius, now!!

The Gabite dashed forward just as El Rojo was done defending from the earlier move, and struck at point-blank with a powerful Dragon Claw with such force that it sent the opponent crashing down and tumbling several feet back! With increased power and agility, Gaius is a proper match for Druddigon now... and Baal did his share too, we're almost there!

Rojo struggled back to his feet, looking to mount a comeback; he was seething at the sudden turn of events, the rage inside him having reached boiling point! His eyes turned from yellow to red and his whole body adopted a white-blue aura that lifted countless grains of sand around his feet slightly above the ground... and he jolted forward at alarming speed, delivering a punch to Gaius's gut that was almost too fast to see, followed by another, and another, and another, quick and powerful strikes in succession that could only mean one thing: Outrage!

- There's only one way to counter this now... Gaius, Outrage!

One of the benefits of having trained together for so long was that the land shark could tap into almost any move at will by now, including this state of draconic fury. The Gabite's own eyes changed from yellow to red as well, and he immediately started to retaliate with vicious strikes of his own. Soon, both dragons were clawing, punching and biting one another so fast that it was impossible for Levin to keep track of their moves, but one thing was clear: there was no stopping either of them now until the opponent fell. He instinctively clenched his fists and watched in silence.

Progressively, their strikes became slower as fatigue set in, but neither was letting up; until finally, Gaius went for a claw strike while Rojo spun around for a tail swing, the latter connecting first and sending the Gabite to the floor, exhausted. Druddigon towered over him, still in trance, and raised his right claw to put an end to things. And as the claw went down... it suddenly stopped, and the dragon bent over, clutching his heart!

What?!

Something from within was causing El Rojo a great deal of pain, to the point where he fell to a knee and growled weakly; his eyes were their regular yellow once again. Gaius, in the meantime, struggled back to his feet, the red glow also gone from his eyes. He looked around in confusion, lost, as per usual after a burst of Outrage, feeling light-headed on top of the extreme fatigue.

Damnit Gaius, focus! Come on, just a little longer!

The pain burning Druddigon from within was beginning to subside, but his breath was still faint... it was now or never! Whatever that was, it had provided them a precious opening, they couldn't let it slip now!

- Gaius, pull yourself together! You're one move away, one strike! Focus, you can do it!!

It was all up to chance and Gaius's spirit now. Did he have the clarity to fight out of confusion? The Gabite brought his claws to his head and closed his eyes, as if haunted by one of Kamui's headaches... and when he reopened them, they were clear and filled with purpose. Gathering the very last remnants of power left inside him, he formed another blue orb of energy in front of his mouth, and fired it straight at the recovering Druddigon. The Dragon Pulse flew straight at his target and found its mark, exploding with a bright flash, and when the dust settled... El Rojo was knocked out!

We... we did it! We won!

Gaius smiled weakly before collapsing himself. Levin rushed over to him, whispered his thanks and recalled the dragon to his Premier Ball. He then walked over to the fallen Druddigon.

Even after a battle with Baal and Gaius's evolution, you were still stronger than him. So why? What happened? Why couldn't you finish it? It's as if you were sick, as if something was eating away at you from inside! But you were fine until... wait...

He recalled the moment Rojo moved in to finish the Gible, and how he seemed bothered by something in the sand that hurt his foot momentarily. It had been the only odd thing about the whole match... Come to think of it, Druddigon did seem to move slightly slower afterwards, although it was hard to tell during the Outrage. But there was no doubt about it, something went wrong in Druddigon's system at the critical juncture, as if he'd been... Poisoned?

- Son of a bitch...

His eyes turned from the dragon to the sea to his left. Floating, his head barely above the water, was Krem with his usual smile. You set a layer of Toxic Spikes while they were fighting...

A purple aura surrounded Krem and he Teleported out of sight, no doubt back to the Base as he'd been told. Could've waited a little longer and taken me with him, the prick... Levin smiled. Gaius was going to be pissed when he realized it wasn't a clean win, but that was a problem for a later date. Right now, all that mattered was that Levin's planned had worked out, and Druddigon was his once again.

He retrieved an empty Pokeball from his bag and tapped the dragon with it, pulling it inside. At long last, the Druddigon entrusted to him by Stark of the Elite Five was back in his possession, and the people of Pompas Gaseosas would have nothing to fear from here on out.

But you, you're something else. Perhaps the most naturally talented Pokemon I've ever seen... You've grown into a formidable fighter with no help from any human, and you've even earned yourself a name. I won't be the one to take that away from you... so welcome back, El Rojo.

He smiled again as he put the Pokeball away. It was time to go back home and start anew, this time with no guilt and no lose ends to hold him back.
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