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Old 11-21-2013, 06:42 PM   #18
MarbleZone
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He woke up panting, sweaty, tired. Another one of those dreams... He thought he'd gotten rid of them after he solved his issues with Ivan. But here they were again: dreams so vivid they couldn't be normal. They meant something, he knew it. For two weeks now he’d been revisiting his childhood in his sleep, a time so far back he shouldn't even be able to remember it at all. How could he? He was a newborn in these dreams. But everything he saw and felt was crystal clear. He saw, with his very own eyes, the miracle his mother always told him about - the Saffron Sun.

- This is ridiculous... Why can't I get some rest? Especially now with everything that's going on! I feel exhausted...

He got up, washed his face and headed to the living room. The couch had been turned into a makeshift bed to provide as much comfort as possible to its single occupant: Kamui.

The Daycare Center attendants had warned him some time ago that the Psyduck's migraines were worsening every week. It reached a point where he was forced to remove Kamui from the facility altogether; he could barely stand anymore, plagued by massive headaches that showed no signs of letting up. But what could he do? He'd reasoned that the only way of curing the Water Type was to make it evolve; it was widely known that Golduck didn't suffer from the same predicament as their unevolved form. But in Kamui's case, the stronger he got, the worse he felt! It was as if there was too much power inside for him to handle already, and further training only aggravated the issue...

For the last couple of days, Kamui had been in so much pain that nothing seemed to help. And storing him away in his Ball felt inhuman; he looked after the Psyduck as best he could, but he knew everything he tried was ultimately inconsequential - in his current state, even one last attempt at gaining enough experience to evolve would be impossible. Bed-ridden, unable to get up or fall asleep, Kamui's hours were spent in heart-wrenching agony. Levin cursed; what right did he have to complain about some silly dreams?

He kneeled down next to the platypus. His eyes were wide open, locked on the ceiling, unmoving. But the constant, low-pitched moaning (something he'd never done before, not even when his typical headache would worsen) reflected just how much he was suffering. Levin reached for two of his Pokemon, fast asleep on the carpet: Min and Dolce. Maybe they could help? The Minccino and Swablu were already well aware of Kamui's condition, so little explaining was necessary. The young man stepped back and watched as the two healers of his team tried to work their magic.

Min was up first; bringing her tiny hands together, she focused her energy on the unnatural talent she had developed - unlike any other Minccino, she’d learned how to perform Softboiled. However, being a technique foreign to her species meant that the effort to pull it off took a greater toll on her than the move itself usually required. After a little while, an oval-shaped orb of light materialized, and Min placed it over Kamui's chest. The energy poured into Psyduck's body, but when the egg faded, nothing happened. The low murmur of pain still filled the room and Kamui showed no signs of improvement.

Meanwhile, Levin spotted a shy little Venonat standing by the door, looking on in concern. He approached Opal and picked her up in his arms.

- He'll be okay girl. Don't worry.

He knew worry wasn't the only thing on her mind. She felt helpless, much like he did; but she always took her own uselessness to heart. Watching the other girls' skills always brought her down, as it reminded her of how little she could actually do for her friends. Min had Softboiled, Dolce had Heal Bell... she had nothing. Levin knew she needed comforting, but right now, Kamui needed saving.

It was Dolce's turn. The Swablu perched herself on the couch and began to sing. It was the most soothing melody Levin had ever heard; Dolce's favorite tune was her lullaby, but this song was different. It filled the air with a sense of peace and tranquility, an acoustic panacea that aimed to relieve Kamui of his torment. However, his migraine was far from a regular ailment susceptible to being cured by the magic of Heal Bell. Ultimately, it too failed to help the Psyduck.

This is out of our hands... Damn it! I promised I'd help him!

It was inevitable. He thought back to every partner he'd failed in the past: he couldn't make Mellow fly, he couldn't make Ryker feel loved, he couldn't get through to Ymir, he couldn't even keep Eva around. And now, he couldn't heal Kamui.

But who can? This isn't a regular injury, it's not a disease, it's almost... mystical in nature! Wait...

Maybe there was someone who could help. Someone who didn't carry a single restorative move, but whose knowledge of life's mysteries was unparalleled. Mazo.

Levin rushed outside. It was dawn, the air was chilly and most of his larger Pokemon - who naturally couldn't stay indoors - were still sleeping. Only two were awake; in the distance, blue flashes of light could be spotted in quick bursts - another one of Mazo the Lucario and Cygna the Ducklett's training sessions. The former had been trying to master his control over Aura, and Cygna had offered to aid him. In turn, she could further improve her own agility, which she considered her strongest point.

He approached the duo. Mazo's technique was still imperfect, but he was closer than ever; at the moment, he could form and release Focus Blasts at will; but only once he fine-tuned his reading of auras, manipulating them at will, would he be able to convert those Blasts into unavoidable strikes, finally mastering Aura Sphere.
Still, he'd been perfecting this single technique for months now; when Levin suggested that he might be lacking something other than strictly practice, he seemed to agree... but continued training nonetheless.
It annoyed him; as unspeakably powerful as Mazo was, both of them knew he was far from reaching his full potential. Legendary Lucario like that of Sir Aaron were said to have even mastered human speech (and such fact was alluded to in the species' Pokedex entry), and to have transcended the laws of physics in a way that their movements became faster than any other creature could keep up with. It could well be that those were myths more than legends, but... what if they weren't? What if Mazo could actually become such a godly being? What was he lacking?

Focus you idiot! Remember why you came!

Mazo stopped before he said anything. Actually, Levin practically only ever talked to him out of courtesy; the Lucario always seemed to know exactly what he wanted to say before he said it, which often made him wonder if emotions were all Mazo could really read.

- I guess you know why I'm here. Kamui's gotten worse... We can't nurse him back to health no matter what we try. Maybe you...

Mazo nodded and dashed toward the Treetop Base. Levin followed him, barely keeping up, and entered the house after him. Min and Dolce continued their efforts, now attempting to use their techniques simultaneously, as Opal looked on from a distance, disheartened. Everyone stopped and fell silent when Mazo entered the living room; his presence alone commanded respect from the other Pokemon. Min had always been particularly fascinated by the lycan... but now wasn't the time.

The Lucario approached Kamui and place a hand on his head, then closed his eyes. Suddenly, he was propelled several feet back by a Psyshock, nearly crashing against the far wall, but managed to withstand the blow. What the hell was that?
Levin stared at Mazo, who for once looked just as surprised. He tried again; it took longer, but after a brief moment of concentration with his hand on the Psyduck's forehead, another Psyshock pushed Mazo away. This time however, the Lucario looked unfazed. Was any of this starting to make sense to him?

When he approached Kamui a third time, he looked at Levin and urged him to get closer. The young man reluctantly complied; Mazo placed one hand on the Water-Type's forehead like before, and the other one on Levin's shoulder, then closed his eyes... and when he opened them, they were no longer inside the Base. They were...

Within Kamui.

Wait, what was this? Startled, he looked around. They were surrounded by a bluish mist, completely alone. So was that?...

Yes master. You can hear me. This comes as a surprise to me also.

- Mazo?! Since when can you talk? What the hell's happening?!

I am unsure. My mastery of Aura is still insufficient to allow this sort of communcation... Perhaps this is Kamui's own power at work. It has created a bridge between us, amplifying my own abilities. I fear this is temporary.

- I... thought you could only read hearts.

You underestimate the extent of Aura's influence. Aura is what makes each living creature unique, it’s their life force; it transcends the concepts of "heart" or "mind"... if anything, it describes the soul. More so than Psychic power, it is the definitive gateway to one's true essence. What you see... Is Kamui's soul.

Levin was at a loss for words. How he hated the paranormal.

You were correct. His affliction is not organic in nature; dedicated as they were, there was nothing neither Min nor Dolce could have done. Kamui's pain is his own doing; in a way, his own choice.

- What do you mean? He's putting himself through all this on purpose?!

Unlikely. Observe.

The fog lifted slightly, revealing a massive stone door, several feet tall, with its doors closed and wrapped in chains.

When you first laid eyes on Jessica's hatchling, you felt something that inclined you to obtain it. You weren't wrong; this Psyduck's potential is nothing short of remarkable... perhaps peerless. But Kamui doesn't understand it, and so he fears it. He has willingly locked away this power, but the more you train him to become stronger, the harder he has to strain to contain it. By refusing to embrace it, this repressed power manifests itself through pain - in a sense, it is screaming to get out. And the more it grows, the more it hurts to keep it locked. You should not blame him.

In short... this meant that, in order to cure Kamui, they'd have to go against his wishes and unleash his potential... How would he feel about that? Would he be grateful... or resentful?

- Mazo... what do we do?

I will do what you tell me to. You will do what you think is right.

- That's helpful... Can you at least tell me if Kamui wants to be healed?

That is irrelevant, master. Even if Kamui is opposed to it, how long will you endure the sight of his suffering? Sooner or later, you will break and ask me to force the cure on him. Best to do it now.

- Don't ever read me again. At least not out loud. But yes… you're right; I can't stand watching him like this. Screw it, he's a platypus, what does he know? Let's just fix him up and be done with it; I trust him to handle his newfound powers once they're released. And if he struggles, you can always give him a hand. He... Kamui deserves to be free of this!

Mazo nodded and approached the gate. It was at least five times as tall as Levin, locked tightly and wrapped in chains of unreal proportions.

- And one last thing. You could kill me on a whim with at least ten different moves; stop degrading yourself by calling me "master".

The Lucario let slip a rare smile as he touched one of the chains.

Levin it is.

Mazo closed his eyes, trying to understand the powers at work. Levin didn't even bother trying; as someone who loathed the supernatural, this was already way out of his league. He just wanted to solve the problem and get back to his pleasantly logical reality. The Lucario stepped back after a while, shaking his head.

This is not regular Psychic energy. It's... different. Foreign to me...

- Meaning?...

I force it open.

Placing both hands to the side of his body, like Levin had seen him do over and over again, Mazo charged energy between his palms and unleashed a powerful Focus Blast straight at the gate. The blue orb exploded on contact with the chain, but... it didn't break?!

It will.

Once again, and again, and again, a flurry of Focus Blasts was fired in quick succession, flawlessly aimed at the same iron link repeatedly. After seven attempts, it started to crack!

- Mazo, hang in there! Are you okay, can you keep it up?

Definitely not. But one more is all I need.

Concentrating every last ounce of strength remaining in his body, the Aura Pokemon gave form to one last orb of Fighting-Type energy, much larger than all the previous ones. He then propelled the Focus Blast forward before collapsing; Levin watched as the attack made contact with the chain yet again, followed by a booming sound and a flash of blinding light...

---

Levin slowly opened his eyes; the clarity hurt at first, everything was a blur. For some reason he couldn't move his arms... he couldn't move at all, yet he was standing. No, not quite standing...

Floating?

His surroundings became progressively clearer: he was back in his home's living room. He could spot Mazo through the corner of his eye, also suspended a few inches above the ground, unable to move as well. He immediately remembered what had happened. Did that last explosion knock out the Lucario, severing their link to Kamui's soul? Wait... Kamui!

His eyes scanned the room, still disoriented. There were Min, freaking out, and Dolce and Opal, trying to calm her down. The Psyduck's moaning could no longer be heard, nor was the yellow platypus anywhere in sight! In its place, hovering slightly above the couch with arms spread wide...

- K-Kamui?! Is that you?!

In a way, it was. Staring back at him with strangely soothing red eyes however, was a completely different creature. All traces of pain gone from its features, replaced by a look of complete harmony, the floated closer to him. The gem on his forehead started glowing red and two words echoed in Levin's mind.

Thank you.

The shine faded, Kamui fell to the floor in exhaustion, landing on his knees, and his psychokinetic hold loosened; as a result, Levin and Mazo tumbled to the ground as well; fortunately it was a short way down. Finally able to move, the young man got back up and helped Mazo to his feet. The Lucario had just regained consciousness, and just like he'd predicted, he could no longer talk to Levin. Maybe all you need is someone to open your own gate...

Kamui stood up as well, just as silent, and exchanged a long, meaningful look with Mazo, who nodded in response. Something told Levin that a very strong bond had been formed that day. The Golduck then turned his attention back to him and cast him the same look. Levin smiled.

- You're free now... It's all over.

Kamui pondered on those words and closed his eyes in relief, as if the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders. And finally he turned around, lay down on the couch once more and immediately fell asleep... possibly for the first time in his life.
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