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Old 12-24-2013, 06:50 PM   #19
MarbleZone
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He sat on the bed and read the text one more time. The document's layout was familiar; it was identical to the diploma he received after being accepted as a Pokemon Battle Referee. This time, it certified him as manager of two Fizzy Bubbles' Rare Candy Banks. Corvus would be so proud.

It was, nonetheless, an unfortunate situation - he was now an adventure overseer at the Arcane Realm and Cascadia, a League Official and a banker, but it still felt like he'd achieved so little of actual importance since the start of his journey! Owning the land's first Minccino, Garchomp, Ducklett and Bouffalant didn't help put him on the map either, so what else was there? As hard as he tried, the name Levin Sanders still meant nothing to most. He lacked one big score...
He sighed and placed the paper in his archive, along with his other certificates and official letters. If anything, they'd serve as a manner of gratification when he was old and useless.

Up until now, Fizzy Bubbles had been living quiet, uneventful days. However, Christmas was just around the corner and many Trainers were tending to the preparations for the festive season. Unlike most other holidays, Levin rather enjoyed this one - it was one of the few his family ever celebrated back home in Saffron.

I wonder how they're doing. After Ivan died, they pretty much stopped paying attention to festivities altogether...

He was grateful for everything his parents had done for him previously, but ever since his brother passed away they were never the same, falling into a serious depression. Levin put up with being ignored for little over a year before taking Min and starting his own journey, against their will. If they were going to neglect him while he was there, he might as well not be.

Yeah, I was harsh. But it was their fault for not giving a damn.

He told himself the same thing whenever these unwanted thoughts resurfaced. That leaving was the right thing to do because they were in no condition to raise him properly. Part of him was also bitter about how obvious it was that Ivan had been their favourite son; he often wondered if their depression would have been half as severe if he'd been the one to die. Yeah, right.

He suddenly got up from the bed and whistled at Basker. The Growlithe, who'd been taking a nap by his Trainer's feet,woke up instantly and wagged his tail in excitement.

- Enough of this crap. I've moved on with my life, they should do the same. Come on Baskie, let's see how everyone's doing with the Christmas Tree.

The Government had decided to freely distribute Sparkly Christmas Trees this year, ornaments in place and all. But Levin made a point to decorate the tree his own way, so here they were on Christmas Eve night, redoing the whole thing from the ground up

They entered the living room, where several of his partners were busy with the decorations. He couldn't help but smile at the effort they put in the task - this was shaping up to be the first cheerful Christmas he'd had in a long time. Last year's event had a very welcome giveaway of Egg House Passes, and as nice as it was, the holiday spirit itself had been the last thing on Levin's mind.

Dolce and Albion flew around a small pine tree, carefully placed next to the living room's TV, carrying silver tinsel garlands. Atla and Spike (muttering to himself) were busy dangling glass balls on several branches. Boo ran frantically across the room holding an exaggerated number of ornament boxes, eager to help somehow. Zion watched. And Min - who else? - directed traffic without actually doing much of anything herself.

Where's Opal? She was so excited about decorating the tree yesterday...

Basker nudged his leg and pointed to the couch where Kamui once laid in pain. Sitting on it, looking heartbroken and about to cry, was his beloved Venonat. Levin approached her, and upon closer inspection he noticed something on her tiny hands - a shattered yellow glass ball. Putting two and two together wasn't hard at all, especially since Min started yelling at Albion for dropping a garland at that precise moment.

- Opal... did Min get mad at you for breaking that ball?

The gnat looked at her Trainer with teary red eyes and lowered her head in silence. She'd never been one to point fingers, but she didn't have to.

Okay, that does it.

Reaching boiling point, Levin turned around and returned to the group minding the decorations. He grabbed the Minccino by her ears and dragged her over to the couch.

- Did you shoo Opal away?

Min looked confused at first, then alarmed as everything fell into place. She shook her head vigorously.

- Are you lying to me?...

Min looked poised to deny it again, but in an uncharacteristic gesture, it was Opal nodded in confirmation. Seems she'd finally had enough of Min's antics as well.

- Goddamnit Min, look at you! What kind of jerk did you grow into? You weren't like this... if you were, I would've left you in the Cold Storage. Had I known you'd turn into this prissy, egotistical, spoiled little brat, I would've never taken you home! And right now... I don't want you here. Not anymore.

Min's eyes widened in horror at Levin's words. The young man reached for a Pokeball in his belt and released Magnus, the Magmortar. Puzzled as to why he was allowed indoors, the arsonist smiled ominously as he awaited an explanation.

- Take Min and Teleport into the forest, anywhere will do. Leave her there and return.

Magnus laughed audibly at the diabolical instructions. Levin was disposing of his very first partner? How delightfully cruel! Quick to comply, before Min could even attempt to run, he scooped her in his arms and, in the blink of an eye, vanished from sight. Opal looked equally horrified - she never liked Min, but this was way too much! And it was all her fault for turning her in! She tried to plead with Levin, but he said nothing in return. Mere seconds later, Magnus reappeared with a wicked grin of pure satisfaction. These were the kind of orders he had no problem obeying.

- Thank you Magnus. Now Opal, go help them out with the tree like you wanted! And don't worry about Min, she won't be a problem anymore.

He recalled the Fire-Type and walked outside to catch some air, Basker following suite with a puzzled look on his face.

-----

Opal watched motionless as Levin and Basker left. Help out with the tree? How could he expect her to just carry on like nothing had happened? Min was abandoned because of her!! And at this hour, what kind of Pokemon could be roaming the the deepest woods?...

The very thought of Min alone in the forest surrounded by hunters made Opal jump in panic. She'd always resented the Minccino for the way she'd treated her since her adoption, for making her feel useless and ugly - so, so ugly - at every chance she got... but they were both part of the group, and Min was Levin's closest friend! Letting her go and leaving her at the mercy of wild Pokemon was wrong, and she had to fix it! If only she hadn't nodded, if she'd kept quiet, Levin wouldn't have done this...

She hopped to the open window in the living room (so as not to run into Levin at the entrance) and jumped outside.

It was nighttime already, and the Winter wind felt chilly, even with all her fur. Now, where could Magnus have left Min? Opal closed her eyes. She may be the ugliest, weakest and clumsiest Pokemon of all, but Levin had always relied on her for one thing - tracking. So that meant she wasn't bad at it, right?
She focused her hardest and tried to use her trusty Foresight. Her surroundings turned red, a thermal vision of sorts, and everything became visible even through the darkness. However... there were no footprints to follow, because Magnus had Teleported, not walked into the woods! Which meant she had nothing to go on... Disheartened, she sat down on the grass like she always did when at a loss.

This wasn't the first time she looked for Min. Some time ago, the Minccino had been kidnapped by a giant dragon at the peak of Mt Infernus, and back then Opal's Foresight had proven invaluable. But there did come a time when they lost track of the kidnapper, and they were equally stumped. She suddenly recalled something Levin had said back then...

"If only you could pinpoint her location by sound, but you don't know the move yet..."

By sound... wait, that was it! She became much stronger since then, and she did learn another helpful trick! Reinvigorated, the tiny Poison-Type ran straight into the woods that could be seen from the Treetop House, suddenly brimming with confidence. Her Foresight improving her visibility, she entered the forest without hesitation (for the first time in her life) and released a Supersonic wave that resonated through the trees and everything else in a wide radius. Stillness all around... except for one area! It was hard to pinpoint exactly where, but something was on the move to the North! Venturing further in, emitting repeated Supersonics to guide her, Opal closed in on the target. What if it wasn't Min at all? It could well be a nocturnal predator, a Gliscor for all she knew! But she had to take that chance... Despite all the history between them, Min was worth it!

The target was now closer than ever. It was moving slowly and seemingly in circles, and as Opal closed the distance, the Supersonic readings became clear enough to tell her it was something relatively small. It could well be Min! But just then... she picked up another movement. Something else was around, much larger and faster than the first creature, and closing in on it! Opal rushed - she had to warn Min, or whoever the smaller one was!
After a short while, she ended up in a small clearing - and nervously walking about, too afraid to wander blindly back into the thick of the woods, was none other than Min! It worked! Opal ran over to the dumbfounded Minccino, who was too scared and confused to even react. The Poison-Type hastily tried to tell her about the large Pokemon making its way toward them, urging her to run, but just as she was about to finish... a massive Liepard, several times the size of either of them, leaped from the foliage and blocked their path! Gracious but deadly, the feline growled before lowering its head and extending its claws... ready to pounce!

-----

- Thank you Crix. Return

Levin recalled his trusty Electivire and knelt down to peak at the clearing through the bushes. Detecting Opal and Min's location was easy enough for Mazo (as if Magnus would ever tell him...), and Crix provided transportation through his Teleport. He felt terrible for doing what he did to Min, but she needed a wake-up call. Now it was time to see if his gamble paid off...

One Liepard... seems manageable.

Even so, his hand instinctively reached for the Fighting Ball in his belt. If bad came to worse, Spike would be a good equalizer.

Min squealed at the sight of the opponent. Battling wasn't her primary calling, and neither was Opal's, who simply froze in fear. The sight broke Levin's heart, but intervening now would undermine the entire plan... Come on girls, snap out of it!

The Liepard wasted little time itself; seeing both of its prey staggered, it took the opening to Hone its Claws, making it even more dangerous. Then, with lightning-fast motions, it lunged forward and Slashed away at Min, knocking her to the ground!

Opal rushed over to her fallen partner. Min struggled back to her feet, angered and finally in the mood to fight. She shoved the Venonat aside, apparently still deeming her worthless, and fiercely approached the Dark-Type leopard. Intent on making use of her speed, her most valuable asset in battle, the chinchilla tried to close in with her patented Tail Slap; however, the opponent had the edge in terms of quickness, and effortlessly dodged the strike, immediately retaliating with another strike of its claws, this time imbued with evil energy... a Night Slash at point-blank! Min was once again propelled backwards and landed with a nasty thud.

Opal cried in fear as she watched the brutal blow connect with her friend's tiny frame. And when Min was unable to get back up, the Venonat feared the worst... she ran over to her side again; fortunately, the Minccino was still breathing, but unable to get back to her feet, much less keep on fighting!

It's all on you now Opal, come on... wait, what was that?

Rustling nearby... above? He spotted movement in the trees from the corner of his eye. And not a second later, one more Liepard leaped into the clearing!

A second one?! I thought Liepard were lone hunters! Unless it's a family... Argh, who cares, it's trouble!

He was about to step into action when Opal did something he'd never expect. Placing herself between Min and the two leopards, the usually shy Pokemon released a wave of dust into the air that immediately forced both Dark-Types to switch focus from the downed, easier target to Opal herself!

Rage Powder? Is she insane?!

The Liepard growled in a low tone, extended their claws again and prepared to strike together. For once, Opal didn't flinch; she stayed put and awaited their strike! The two felines attacked simultaneously, exactly as she'd hoped; as soon as they closed in on her, she shot one more Supersonic wave catching both of them off guard! Stopping dead in their tracks, pain coursing through their delicate ears, the sonic wave confused them temporarily, buying both Opal and Min some time. Far from done, Opal spun around and released another cloud of dust, this time purple in color, that covered both opponents, making them cringe in discomfort and cough uncontrollably as if overtaken by a sudden illness.

Poison Powder... she lacks proper offensive moves, and the few Psychic attacks she knows are worthless here! She's sticking to the only thing she can do...

If Opal was in any way concerned about her limited attack choices, she didn't show it. Caught in the heat of battle and determined to keep the unconscious Min from being caught by the enemy, she kept the pressure up: carrying on with her strategy, she gathered energy in the form of a violet orb and launched it at one of the poisoned Liepard. The sphere enlarged and exploded on impact as the Venoshock's power increased exponentially in contact with the venom, sending the opponent flying back! One of them...

The second Liepard, seeing Opal hurt its partner, lunged forward in retaliation, way too fast for the Venonat to even react! It ran its claw across Opal's fur and flesh, once more going for a Slash that knocked the much smaller foe off her feet, helpless. Helpless as always... useless. Liepard's raised paw became enveloped in black energy again, and when it came down...

Opal opened her eyes when the final blow never came. In front of her was... Min! Bracing herself, she'd jumped in the middle of the two combatants and selflessly Endured the incoming Night Slash! She... saved her!
Min, panting and bleeding from the attack, turned her head to Opal and winked at her. She was smiling at her for the first time in her life... acknowledging her effort! But at what cost?...

Min, finally... Finally you realize just how much Opal is worth! You see her for who she really is - your equal... just like everyone else on the team. That's what you needed to understand!

Opal watched on the floor as Liepard nonchalantly swiped the weakened Min aside. With the Rage Powder still fully in effect, the predator had no problem forgoing the easier prey and instead focus its anger on the one that poisoned it. But something stirred up inside the quiet, timid Venonat - a rage of her own, mixed with a sense of responsibility for Min's condition and an unprecedented feeling of acceptance. For one moment in time, it didn't matter that she was weak, ugly and useless - Min appreciated her effort and put her own life on the line for her! Min, of all Pokemon! And now she needed her again, she was in pain because of her and she had to make it right! No matter what, she had to get Min out of this forest safely and back home to Levin where they both belonged! For once in her life, she felt without a shadow of a doubt... that she was good enough!

Opal?...

The Liepard froze in sheer surprise. A powerful shine enveloped Opal's entire body, which began to rise in the air. From it, two wings of light sprouted, her frame changed, the process now thoroughly familiar to Levin. She was evolving!
After a brief moment, the glow began to fade. In its place stood Opal in its final form, airborne, as a fully-grown...

What on earth is that?!

Levin had expected a regular Venomoth; he'd seen a fair number of them, and he'd have been content to witness Opal become such a delicate Pokemon. But this was far from an ordinary evolution - in fact, he'd never seen one like it! Common Venomoth were well known for their purple wings, covered in poisonous dust that filled the air with each flap. The much rarer Shiny specimens were a pretty tone of blue instead, but Opal wasn't Shiny herself... And what she turned into could only be described as the single most beautiful Pokemon Levin had ever laid eyes on.

Her body now a soothing light pink with a faint yellow marking on her forehead, and wings of a million colors that continuously shifted under the moonlight, as if made of opal themselves, the was nothing short of a miracle evolution with a color pattern unheard of in the entire world! Levin was both fascinated and at an utter loss for words. What could have possibly triggered such a transformation?! A genetic anomaly made manifest when the evolution gene was transcripted? Or perhaps Opal's undying desire to become more than she was destined to be? Going from a despised, undesired Pokemon abandoned at the Adoption Centre, to being ostracized by her own teammates for her looks and weakness... to now standing before them in impossible splendor! For once in his life Levin couldn't explain what he was seeing, but he didn't care to either. All that mattered was that Opal, his dear, sweet Opal, had shattered the bonds of her own shortcomings and transcended her limits in a way nobody could have predicted.

The Liepard seemed just as shaken. All it could muster was watch as Opal took to the air in all her glory, ready to put her new powers to the test. Wasting no time, she summoned her soul's energy and blasted the staggered opponent with Hidden Power Ground, sending it reeling! It instinctively retreated over to where the other Liepard was still recovering from the earlier Venoshock, and the two assumed positions to strike in tandem.

Suddenly, Levin stepped out of the shadows to join his Pokemon. He'd had enough of watching. Opal flickered her gorgeous wings and rushed over to his side, proudly showing her achievement.

- I saw the whole thing, Opal. You were magnificent. You are magnificent! All you've done for Min, and what you accomplished for yourself; those are things I'll never forget. But you've had to endure this on your own for long enough. Let's put an end to this together!

Opal nodded in excitement and turned to face the Dark-Type duo, who were about to attack at any moment.

- Alright Opal, fly circles around them with your Agility and slow them down with Sleep Spore!

Quick to comply, the Venomoth loosened her muscles and dashed forward at unbelievable speed, straight at the two Liepard. Then, at the last second, she flew upwards and released a cloud of emerald dust over her foes; immediately upon inhaling it, the felines became groggy and unable to carry though their combined assault. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Levin ran over to the still-fallen Min. He'd finally made up his mind... a year and a half later. He cradled her in his arms and picked her up.

- Min, are you alright? Hang in there! I'm proud of you girl, I really am. For the first time in a very long time... I would never abandon you. But you needed to open your eyes. You had to see Opal's worth for yourself! And look at her. Look at the miracle she achieved through her perseverance, her heart!

The Minccino nodded faintly and showed him an honest smile. She was just as proud of Opal as he was.

- But she wouldn't be there fighting for you if you hadn't saved her first. You went farther than I could have imagined, you risked your own life for someone you've always despised! Just like the old Min... or maybe you were always the same, but lost sight of it during our journeys. I'm to blame for that too... I'm no better than you when it comes to having an ego. But you proved me wrong tonight, and I'm unspeakably proud of you. So Min... what do you say we help Opal finish this?

He reached for something in his pocket and showed it to his friend. The item, previously an unremarkable rock, glowed brightly in his hand when close to Min. The Shiny Stone he'd held on for so long, always unsure of whether to sell it for a profit or put it to use... His head was clear now. She deserved it, now more than she ever did.
Min's eyes widened as the realization set in. After all the time they spent together, Levin was finally letting her evolve? What if she wasn't ready? What if she wasn't as good as Opal anymore?

- Let's do this together, like we've been doing for 16 years! Trust me Min, please...

He was right. They'd been together for almost two decades; if Levin believed she was ready, then so did she! Min nodded and took the Shiny Stone in her hands. Both the Pokemon and the rock began to glow, brighter and brighter, until the stone itself vanished and the Minccino absorbed its energy, transforming as it did. When the light dispersed, Levin held an entirely different creature in his arms: spotless white fur shaped like an elegant écharpe, smooth to the touch and with a distinctively pleasant scent emanating from it - after so long, Min was finally a !

- You're... perfect!

Briefly overwhelmed by emotion, the Cinccino hugged her Trainer and cried. Her lifelong dream had come true at last, and so what if Opal had also evolved? It was all the more special that it happened on the same night - on Christmas no less! It wa sa sign that they were meant to be something she'd never allowed them to be. But she'd be different from now on, not just in looks or strength: she would be worthy of Levin's, Opal's and everyone else's trust and be the friend that they all deserved!

Min leaped from Levin's arms ready to battle alongside Opal, the two newly-evolved Pokemon more confident than ever under their Trainer's guidance.

- Alright girls, let's end this! Opal, blast those Liepard with your Silver Wind and then Baton Pass your Agility over to Min! Min, use your speed to hand out a Wake-Up Slap apiece and wrap it up with your Hyper Voice!

Sleep having almost completely set in, the opponents could do little to counter the instructions. Opal flapped her wings at high speed and sent a gust of sparkly wind at the two predators, who yelled in pain. The Venomoth then danced in the air with inspiring grace as its body took on a faint pink glow, which shortly afterwards enveloped Min as well. Feeling lighter than ever, the Cinccino dashed straight towards her wobbly foes and, nimbly dodging their attempts to Slash her down, slapped each of them as hard as she could, making each of them fall to the ground again!

- Now Min, let them have it!

Min arched her head back and unleashed a devastating sound wave with enough force to propel both Liepard back several feet, tumbling across the floor under the sheer force of the move! And when they finally got back on their feet, realizing how their prey ended up vastly overpowering them, the hunters opted to limp back to the darkness of the woods in retreat. They'd done it!

Opal and Min returned to Levin, exhausted but exhilarated at their resounding success. Levin himself could do nothing but show them his widest smile, and hugged them tightly. Everything had fallen into place so perfectly he could hardly believe it - even the events he hadn't planned!

- You girls are amazing, both of you. I am so lucky to be your Trainer, you know? You made me very, very proud today. Now let's get back, everyone must be worried sick by now. Besides, do you know what day it is already?

He looked at both of them and smiled again.

- Merry Christmas girls... This will be one to remember!

Last edited by MarbleZone; 12-25-2013 at 06:45 PM.
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