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Old 10-04-2013, 08:32 PM   #14
MarbleZone
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Wicca, Noah, Panzer, Eva, Mellow, Ymir, Ryker, Hazel.

Levin wrote down each name, the pen moving slowly across the paper as he recalled, one by one, the Seedot, Wailmer, Aron, Ekans, Trapinch, Cryogonal, Skarmory and Eevee he’d once owned; all the Pokemon he’d named and welcomed into the family, only to let them go at some point.

He wasn’t this kind of man at heart. But after recent events, he figured he at least owed them this: a rare exercise in humility, a tribute. After all, how could he ever justify having parted ways with such good companions while still keeping monsters like Magnus and Veiss? The most devoted protectors of the team, Atla and Gram in particular, had been very vocal about the latter’s acquisition, but Levin hadn’t listened; all ever cared about was a Pokemon’s usefulness.

It’s who I am. No matter how much I try to deny it, there was a reason why all of them were let go. Wicca was resilient, but unremarkable; Noah was unreliable with his size and lack of mobility; Panzer was more trouble than he was worth, lazy and gluttonous to the core where Zion proved more reliable and just as sturdy. Eva didn’t offer me anything that Opal and Hebi didn’t, but I miss her the most… she thought just like me. Heard she’s in good hands now, under the care of that Hyrem guy… Mellow was great to have around, but Gaius was already several steps ahead of him, making him redundant. I regret not having raised him well enough to let him fly, but Melissa will take care of him and help him achieve his dream, I’m sure. Ymir was too complicated to understand, and the novelty wore off fast. Ryker resented me since he was born, and made several Pokemon on the team nervous after they were attacked by an equally unsociable Skarmory in Cortoza; he was too much of a liability. Finally, Hazel was a victim of circumstance; I craved the power of an Onix, and the only way to get Gram was to let go of the Eevee, so I did.

He looked outside. Who was he trying to fool? “Ryker was a liability”? So was Magnus, but he raised the Magmar intensively without hesitation, which only made him even more dangerous! That was an excuse; he just didn’t like Skarmory. So what kind of man was he really? The kind of guy that releases a Pokemon because the species is unfavourable, regardless of the creature’s feelings?!

I guess I am. Dammit Levin…

Through the window of his Treetop Home, he saw Mazo sparring with Crix. The Lucario, aloof and with an unshakeable sense of justice, had willingly accepted his Trainer’s flaws and bonded with him enough to trigger the miraculous evolution. He tolerated Levin unlike he would ever tolerate another person remotely similar to him; that spoke volumes about the Lucario’s loyalty, misplaced and undeserved, but so very welcomed.

In reality, he was blessed. Almost every one of his twenty five partners cared about him enough that they wouldn’t just dump him the same way he dumped so many of their friends. All of them, not just Mazo, agreed to stay with him for a reason, regardless of whether or not they liked him as a person – they liked him as their Trainer, their caretaker, their provider. And for that he owed each and every single one of them; as much as he hated to admit it, the merit for his current position in the Fizzy Bubbles region was theirs, not his. The letter of acknowledgement recruiting him for the Unown hunt, the recognition of his adequacy to referee Official League Battles… all that he was and the person he became, he owed it to his team. He was a nobody, a loser before he went on his journey, as Ivan would be quick to agree. But since then, he got to travel all around the world, from polar regions to volcanic areas, and he did so with the help of Pokemon who didn’t shun him, even if they could have chosen a better Trainer or none at all.

He got up, closed his journal and walked outside. There were things he needed to do.

---

Several of his Pokemon enjoyed sparring in their free time – something he probably instilled in them with his training regimens, come to think of it. Fortunately, some others remained blissfully uninterested in the art of battling; Boo and Hebi were playing tag with each other, Dolce was enjoying a brief moment of her own, now that Min wasn’t requesting her services, and was happily Singing where nobody else could hear her. Min herself was taking a bath in the lake, and Kamui was rolling in the grass, clutching his head in pain. Levin always felt helpless when he was like this; his constant migraine was already unusually intense, but it still had periods of exacerbation, and they looked excruciating. He knew he had to evolve the poor thing as soon as possible, but he was so hard to train…

Still, right now he was looking for one Pokemon in particular. He was pretty easy to find; the largest of them all, Gram, who was reluctantly battling a very eager Buster. The Heracross repeatedly lunged himself at the giant rock snake, looking to perfect his Megahorn, only to be repelled by Gram’s gargantuan frame. The Onix, in turn, made no motion to strike back, as he was notoriously uninterested in battling “for fun”. An impeccable guardian indeed, but he lacked the fire within to make the most of his immense power, which often frustrated Levin. He’d subconsciously held a grudge against Gram for the simple reason that his older brother Ivan’s Steelix was responsible for his death, during a battle inside Victory Road, and the memory alone stirred bitterness within the young man – even if his Onix had absolutely nothing to do with the events and didn’t even like fighting in the first place. But it was time to put that behind him and appreciate Gram for who he was and what he brought to his team – to his family.

Levin approached the fighting duo and motioned for Buster to stop, which he reluctantly did, pouting. The young man turned to the Onix and faced up, looking him in the eye.

- Gram, listen. I… I apologize for the way I’ve treated you so far. You’ve done nothing to earn my resentment, and in all honesty, I couldn’t ask for a better protector, a better father figure for the team. I’m thankful for your dedication, and I’m glad you didn’t leave us on account of my behaviour. Please forgive me.

Gram stood silent for what felt like hours, but finally lowered his head all the way down to his Trainer’s level… and lightly nudged him with a satisfied growl, smiling for what Levin knew was the first time since he’d joined the group.

As he patted the Onix on the head, he felt something touching his elbow. Looking to the side, he saw Mazo, who’d approached them without making a sound. He could be damn creepy sometimes.

- Hey there. Done sparring with Crix?

Mazo nodded silently, then looked at Gram. Levin reasoned that the Lucario had sensed a change in their auras as they reconciled, and was naturally drawn to them. The wolf then placed one paw over Levin’s hand and the other on Onix’s head, then closed his eyes.

What is this?...

It was as if he could feel Gram’s warmth, his… his heart? Was that what Auras felt like? But Mazo’s powers went deeper; suddenly, an image began to take shape in his head, which he interpreted as the Onix’s thoughts, perhaps his desires; it was hard to tell… but when the picture became clearer, so did Gram’s intentions. With his mind’s eye, Levin saw a Metal Coat.

I... I understand. You want to become stronger, to protect all of us even better. More than a wall, you want to be our fortress, a shield as well as a sword. For us…

Mazo released Levin’s hand, and the picture faded, as did the inexplicable connection to Gram. But he saw everything he needed to - the Onix cared about all of them even more then he’d imagined. To think that he’d shunned a Pokemon with such a wonderful heart for no rational reason…

- I saw how you felt Gram… and I’m sure you also saw into my own heart. I'm so sorry for having kept you at bay like that! But it’s all in the past if you’re willing to forgive me... And I’ll see to it that you become even stronger, I promise. Let’s show Ivan what a real Steelix looks like, what do you say?

Gram roared in contentment and laid his head on the floor, motioning for Levin to climb. The young man hesitated at first, but remembering he’d already flown on an Aerodactyl’s back for hours straight not that long ago, he smiled and did as the Onix asked. As Gram raised its entire body the air, Levin looked down on his entire property, catching a glimpse of all of his Pokemon like the Onix always saw them – from high up, like a watchman in a tower… a true guardian.
From up there, he witnessed Gaius the Gabite battling Jules the Bouffalant, with Rojo looking on from a distance.

Damn, I forgot …

After a while, Gram put him back down, before going back to sparring with Buster with renewed determination. Levin once again glanced at the confrontation between Gaius and Jules, the former having little troubled against the buffalo in his evolved state. Ever since he’d become Gabite, Gaius had been undefeated in battle, which only further increased inflated his pride. But Levin never told him how his victory against El Rojo had been tainted due to a timely interference by his Cloyster, Krem… How would the immensely proud dragon react to that? He had a personal code of permanently moving on to the next challenge after defeating an opponent… How would he handle the truth? Should he tell him and risk breaking his spirit? Right now, Gaius was unstoppable…

No. I have to tell him. I owe it to him, to Rojo and to myself; I won’t let Gaius live a lie, he needs to have a clean match with Rojo, for his own sake.

He took a deep breath and slowly walked over to the land shark...

Last edited by MarbleZone; 10-06-2013 at 08:36 PM.
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