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Old 09-27-2015, 04:33 PM   #37
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Levin sat in his room, in the company of Mazo and Haou, whom he requested join him to discuss an important matter.

- … but there’s no way I can be certain. I need your help with this.

Haou, as usual, said nothing, but a simple touch of his hand on Levin’s shoulder caused a flurry of images to flash before his eyes, conveying everything the Medicham thought on the matter without a word. He saw glimpses of a golden and black dragon standing victorious over its elder, and a meek yellow herbivore triumphing over its natural predator.

- Is this… what’s bound to happen?

Mazo shook his head.

I do not know what Haou sees, but I’ve learned to accept it as a likely outcome. We share the same belief – neither is ready to move on without passing the torch; without knowing that you’re left in good hands.

- But you also think they have to go?

I believe both have destinies that diverge from yours, powerful allies as they would be to your cause. One seeks something you cannot give him, and the other something that cannot be repaired. They are, each in their own way, loyal to you… but if you did truly change as I believe you to have, you already know the answer to your question.

Haou nodded in reassurance, while Levin merely stared out the window. This was becoming a theme – he rose a family, only to see his “children” move on to happier futures without him. Made him wonder just how cut out for training he really was…

Why do I hesitate? It’s for the best, it’s what they need. I shouldn’t let my own feelings get in the way, but what it comes down to is… I’m scared. These guys are the closest thing I’ve ever had to friends. We grew alongside one another… why do they all leave, sooner or later?

Mazo and Haou sensed the Saffron-native’s concern and each placed a hand on his. They weren’t going anywhere. And deep down, Levin knew exactly who the Pokemon who would be with him forever were. All he had to do was watch them all from afar, each tending to their own daily routines, to know how he felt about every single one of them – and who was in it to the end with him. For one reason or another, some wouldn’t make it, and fate would have other plans in store for them. But he welcomed them all regardless and let Arceus decide what he couldn’t. In this case, keeping either Pokemon around would do nothing but bring them misery… He couldn’t be selfish like that, as much as he loved having them around.

He stepped out of the house and whistled. Basker the Arcanine came running to him, recognizing his master’s calling.

- I know how much you’ll dislike this request, but there’s someone I need you to fetch for me.


The clearing in front of his Treetop Base was bathed by the morning sunlight. Levin stood at the center and faced two of his strongest partners: the imposing, rogue black lion, Ryker the Luxray, and the dragon who’d been at his side in each of his most career-defining adventures, Syre the Salamence.

- I called you here to… ask you a favor. Each of you are the strongest Pokemon of your respective Types and your knowledge… your power, you should share it.

He was having trouble finding the words. He knew how each of them felt, things neither of them would readily admit to their Trainer, and he wasn’t going to be the one to press the matter. But if he found a way to show them they’d be well-represented, that they would leave behind worthy successors, maybe then they’d be more at ease. Maybe then… parting ways wouldn’t be so painful.

- Ryker. I know you still harbor negative feelings toward me. I took you away from Zak, I took away your old name, all for the sake of owning a powerful Pokemon. Considering everything that’s happened recently, I don’t think you’ll ever think of me as a worthy replacement. Fact is, I tried to change you from Silas, Zak’s Luxray, into Ryker, my own Pokemon… but maybe I was wrong the whole time. I wonder... if that resentment might be holding you back. I wonder if you can hold your own against a younger Pokemon – I challenge you to fight Lumi.

Mazo, stunned by Levin’s choice, turned his head to face him but didn’t protest. Lumi? The sheep wouldn’t hurt a fly, and the Lucario still remembered the way Ryker manhandled Dux, a pure Fighting-Type, in their forest duel. Surely he knew the Flaaffy would be in danger?

The black lion growled. Levin’s words hit a nerve, and were punctuated by calling his strength into question. He’d show the human… he’d hurt the Flaaffy if that’s what it took, just like he hurt that insolent Machoke. But maybe… maybe Lumi would hurt him back. And maybe, in doing so, he’d awaken a power strong enough to… to succeed him. Maybe then he could leave afterwards without compromising his honor. Did the human know of his feelings?...

Levin turned his attention to Syre, his beloved dragon, the humble hero who let him fly on his back without so much as a complaint, the strongest of his kin Levin had ever met. The only Pokemon of his ever to claim a life – that of Mediville’s Gardevoir, who threatened to kill them all otherwise. He owed more to Syre than just about any of his other friends. And that’s why he couldn’t ignore the obvious any longer.

A family… that’s what you crave the most at this point in your life. Not the battling or flying around… you have your eyes on a certain someone. It’s my obligation to give you that chance, at the very least, after everything you’ve done for me. But just like Ryker, you’re a proud warrior – I’ll show you we will all be in good hands. Trust me Syre…

- Ajax lost his mentor to Nylus and I failed to do anything about it. I know you aren’t keen on the idea of having a pupil, nor do I ask that of you… but just one battle. Please Syre, do what you can to test his limits. See what Rojo did for him and the brilliant fighter he can become. Only you can do it – short of Nylus, you’re the only one he is motivated to fighting. Will you do that for me?

Again, he couldn’t reveal his true intentions. But perhaps if, by some miracle, Ajax could topple one of his very best fighters, Syre would be more comfortable in pursuing his own dreams, knowing Levin and the team would be in good hands. He believed Ajax could one day surpass Syre; question was… did that day arrive already?
Syre, ever obedient, nodded without hesitation. He too wanted to test the Fraxure’s true potential – he owed it to his late friend Rojo, at the very least. And maybe, just maybe, there was a chance Ajax could even surprise him and, who knows surpass him. Just this once, he’d gladly accept that defeat, because his heart and mind were already focused elsewhere. Could Levin somehow know of that?...

Ajax the Fraxure and Lumi the Flaaffy both emerged from simultaneous flashes of light. While the former instantly locked eyes with Syre, the one colossus he had to beat before getting his revenge on Nylus, the latter wasn’t comfortable with so much as glancing at Ryker – they had only joined forces once, and the meek sheep had always been wary of the lone predator.

- Ajax, Lumi, are you ready for the training session of your lives?

Levin’s jovial tone hid a torrent of conflicting feelings. They didn’t need to know any more than this; training was, after all, their daily routine. Only difference this time around was that this wouldn’t be a lighthearted sparring, but actual battles. Ajax, as expected, was raring to go, eager to test himself against the dragon he considered disgraced for bowing so easily to a human. Lumi was mostly apprehensive, but his natural penchant for always seeing the good side of things told him Levin would watch out for him if Ryker got too violent… right?

You should watch from afar. This is a story they have to tell on their own.

- I know. All four of them need this, whether they realize it or not. My only regret is having taken this long to make up my mind…

They’re family. You want them close to you… it is only natural. If anything, you deserve praise – the Levin I first knew would never willingly part ways with a powerful ally, no matter what it took to keep it.

Ajax lunged at Syre, who merely took flight and avoided the charge. Believing himself out of harm’s way, and with little desire to hurt his younger kin, the Salamence merely released a wave of Embers to warn him off… something Ajax took exception to. If Syre wasn’t going to take this seriously, he’d make him!

Channeling his fury, the Fraxure unleashed a sudden burst of energy in the form of Dragon Rage. The blue flames enveloped the airborne Syre, who stopped momentarily to douse the fire that engulfed his wings. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the smaller dragon summoned a barrage of stones that came crashing down on his foe, dragging him back down to the floor and trapping him in a Rock Tomb!

Using his Strength, Syre was quick to remove the debris, but the relentless Ajax had him in his sights – the super-aggressive warrior lunged forward and slashed the Salamence with a vicious Dual Chop, leapt up and came crashing down on his foe with a X-Scissor that left a nasty cut on one of Syre’s wings… rendering him unable to take flight again!

Ajax… you’re not pulling back at all. Did you want this fight that badly?...

Growling in pain and annoyance, Syre’s look changed. Levin instantly knew what it meant – the dragon wasn’t going to take it easy any longer. Taking advantage of Ajax’s proximity, he slammed his massive Dragon Tail against the Fraxure’s torso, propelling him back several feet. Ajax landed on his feet, but was immediately blasted with a powerful Dragon Breath that caused him to lose his balance and fall hard on his back! And then, Syre’s belly took on an ominous red glow…

Meanwhile, Ryker had already engaged the apprehensive Lumi. The black hunter’s body crackled with excess electricity as he charged ahead, reminding Levin of just how much raw power the creature possessed. There was no doubt in his mind that, despite his limited arsenal, Ryker’s lightning attacks were far stronger than Lumi’s, or even Crix’s, could ever become in their prime.
The easygoing sheep watched in stunned disbelief while Ryker lunged at him without holding anything back, ready to Crunch his bones between his fangs. It wasn’t until the very last second that Lumi managed to react, creating a large Cotton Guard shield that completely halted the Luxray’s momentum, much to his irritation. The predator leapt back to create some separation and devise a new approach, while the Flaaffy wondered just what exactly Levin expected him to do – surely not try to hurt Ryker in return?...

He did. And deep down, Lumi knew it – an actual battle, with actual danger, was the only way to really become stronger. Ryker had been through so many of those already… now it was his time to step up! With renewed confidence, and always telling himelf that Levin would keep him safe, the Flaaffy prepared to fight back, much to Ryker’s amusement. It wasn’t until Lumi released a Power Gem blast, which Ryker narrowly avoided, that the Luxray realized his foe really intended to fight back. So be it…

A massive pillar of lightning shot upwards from Ryker’s body and into the sky above. Clouds gathered over the clearing instantly and a twice-as-large Thunder strike came crashing down on Lumi, engulfing him completely in its destructive light. When it faded, the Flaaffy was on the ground, writhing in pain, much like Ajax some feet away.

And here it comes…

Syre had finished charging up, and shot a crimson sphere of energy into the cloudy sky. The orb vanished, and shortly afterwards a deafening noise filled the clearing, as if the world’s most violent storm was just above their heads, announcing its arrival. The clouds took on an orange glow, and one by one, flaming meteors began to fall, homing in on the clearing and, more specifically, on the downed Fraxure. But a move of that magnitude could lay waste to the entire Marble Garden, no matter who Syre’s intended target was…

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a white creature materialized directly in front of Levin, Mazo and Haou, and proceeded to erected a Protective green dome around them all.

- Leon!

This was something the Gallade would never hesitate to do – his sworn duty was to keep his soul twin, Levin, safe at all costs, no matter how far apart they were. And right now, faced with the incoming Draco Meteor Syre had summoned, they needed all the protection they could get. But Ajax and Lumi would have to fend for themselves…

Each comet struck the earth with incredible violence, sending a powerful shockwave on impact. One after the other, the Draco Meteors ravaged the clearing, creating untold devastation. Not even Nylus’s last rampage had been this damaging… Levin clenched his fists, fearing the attack might have been too much for the Flaaffy and Fraxure to withstand. And if that was the case…

After what seemed like an eternity, the onslaught was over, and Leon removed his shield. All around them, smoke and embers were all they could see. When the dust began to settle, the first thing they noticed were the countless desolate craters where once stood a lush green field. And then, something odd – a large round boulder, perfectly severed in two, a meteor that didn’t disintegrate. And scattered all around the large two halves, several small pebbles that should by all accounts have been incinerated on impact, but instead sparked occasionally with electricity.


Mazo stood in place, visibly stunned by something he picked up before Levin, as usual. Haou, in turn, stepped forward and, with a spreading motion of his hands, caused the remaining smoke to vanish from the clearing with his psychic power, revealing the truth of the events.

Where Levin feared to find the charred corpses of Lumi and Ajax, instead were two magnificent creatures, standing proudly and brimming with power. Triggered by their survival instinct, the sheep and dragon joined forces to ward off the deadly barrage, and as a result, the Flaaffy and Fraxure were no more – in their place were a and , staring their respective opponents with confidence and defiance!

A simultaneous evolution. Your household truly is full of surprises…

Syre stared directly at his foe, revealing little emotion but burning inside – finally, this was the true Ajax, and potential successor to his throne. But he had to be sure his power was real, that he could carry Levin to the ultimate victory in his absence. The winged dragon roared and lunged at the Haxorus, coated in glimmering blue energy. The Dragon Rush took the form of a giant dragon’s head and came crashing down on Ajax, ready to engulf him, but the golden warrior didn’t flinch.

A fierce, violent aura enveloped Ajax, empowering him both in strength and speed; the Dragon Dance perfected his body for combat, as Syre drew ever closer, ready to seal the match with his favorite move. The Haxorus stared at the oncoming Salamence and grinned before leaping up directly into the glowing shape that surrounded Syre, as if purposefully allowing himself to be swallowed by the ethereal fangs. Channeling dragon energy of his own into one of his claws, Ajax met Syre mid-air, and the two collided in a flash of light followed by a massive burst of energy.

The expected outcome. Did it go the way you predicted, master?

Mazo, and likely Haou as well, already knew the result. Levin had to wait for the dust to settle and the light to fade; then, he saw one of the dragons land on his feet, and the other tumble to the ground, unconscious. When the golden armor glistened under the sunlight and its wielder let out a triumphant roar, the Trainer realized the torch had indeed been passed – Ajax had just bested Syre!

Ryker saw everything through the corner of his eye, a luxury his unrivaled eyesight allowed. At the same time, he kept his attention on his newly-evolved opponent: Lumi gazed at his own hands, half-confused as to what had just happened, but quickly adjusting to the pleasant reality that he was no longer an effeminate-looking Flaaffy. Empowered by his newfound confidence, the Ampharos found himself able to control powers he never knew he had – he lunged forward, channeling fire into his fist, and prepared to deliver a powerful Fire Punch!
However, the Luxray had his opponent perfectly scouted. Each muscle contraction was effortlessly picked up by Ryker’s prodigious vision, so that he could effectively predict Lumi’s movements the second he began to carry them out. The black lion dodged Lumi’s strike, leaping to the side at the last moment, and fought back with a powerful Take Down that knocked down the Light Pokemon!

Ryker towered over his fallen opponent, intent on putting an end to the battle. Part of him felt disappointed – Lumi wasn’t the replacement he’d hoped, unlike Ajax. Flames escaped his mouth, and the Luxray moved to finish things with a Fire Fang. However, at the last second, Lumi smiled and carried out the plan he’d been aiming for since the start! Ryker’s eyesight was indeed incredible, but at the same time, his most exploitable weakness – and having realized as much, Lumi did what he knew best, unleashing a Flash of light so strong even Levin’s eyes hurt all the way from where he stood watching!
Ryker growled in intense pain and leapt back, eyes shut and burning intensely. His vision was as perfect as it was delicate and more than anyone else, the Flash did a number on him for that very reason. All he could see was a white screen punctuated by stubborn speckles of light. The hunter paced around the ravaged battlefield, trying to shake off the blindness to no avail, and Lumi had the perfect opportunity to strike back! He tapped into a new energy reserve he never knew he had, his body taking on a blue glow as he did. And then, with a ferocious roar resembling Syre or Ajax, Lumi unleashed a beam of draconic energy straight at the vulnerable Ryker! The Dragon Pulse found its mark, exploding in a myriad colors, and to Levin’s profound amazement, the Luxray fell and didn’t get back up!

- Lumi… you did it!!

The ampharos panted heavily but smiled as warmly as he ever did; if Levin were a betting man, he’d wager the Ampharos was as surprised about the outcome as he was. Ajax, equally tired, stood over the fallen Syre with a look of fulfillment on his face – for the first time in his life, the Haxorus radiated inner peace rather than frustration or anger.

Mazo and Leon approached the fainted combatants and revived them with their Heal Pulses. Syre and Ryker, aware that their respective rivals had finally surpassed them, both looked at their Trainer with eyes that told the entire story – it was time to go.
The Luxray moved first; he approached Lumi and nodded in approval, growling his satisfaction and relief. Then he walked over to Mazo and bowed respectfully; though he never admitted it openly, he considered the Lucario the strongest warrior he’d ever met. And at last, Levin. The Saffron-native whispered his apologies to Ryker, for everything – forcefully separating him from Zak, the only Trainer he’d ever loved; failing to bond with him; letting the predator roam the nearby forests rather than welcoming him in his home. Ryker shook his head in disagreement; overtime, he’d come to hold some measure of respect for the Trainer he once loathed. And while it was true he felt lonely and sad beyond repair after leaving Zak’s side, he would leave Levin with fonder memories than he thought possible. But his old heart cried out for freedom, the chance to explore the world on his own after so many years under the care of humans – he was one of the older Pokemon in Fizzy Bubbles at this point, and battling didn’t call out to him as strongly as it once did. It was time for a new generation to take his place and for him to live a new life with the years he had left.

Levin smiled, ran a hand over the lion’s head (the first sign of affection between the two since the day they met) and remembered there was one final thing he had to do. Reaching for a Pokeball, he called out Basker, and the second the Arcanine’s eyes met Ryker’s, he knew the time had come. They’d been bitter enemies for the duration of Ryker’s stay, but held mutual respect for one another as fighters. They said their short but heartfelt goodbyes, wondering if they’d ever get the chance to fight one another in the future. With no loose ends, Ryker waved his tail in one final goodbye, and without looking back, ran off into the forest and the world beyond to start the final chapter of his own story.

Be well, Ryker… I hope we meet each other again some day.

A low-pitched growl brought him back to reality. Syre too should be getting ready to say his goodbyes, but neither him nor Levin felt the story was complete. Ryker’s desire was about to be fulfilled, but Syre’s calling was different and one Levin couldn’t provide on his own. Until he found a way, the dragon would linger. But just then, in a curious twist of fate, it seemed the final chapter of Syre’s story was indeed about to be written - commotion by the entrance of the Treetop Base alerted the group, and Syre was the first to react. Spreading his wings and eagerly approaching Marble Garden’s very first visitors, the Salamence roared a challenge to the woman who’d just arrived.

Levin smiled, counting himself fortunate that everything had fallen into place the way it did. In the woman’s possession was a Pokemon that could change Syre’s life forever, and that was the reason he invited her over in the first place.

- Glad you could make it, Pest.
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