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Old 12-31-2015, 09:31 AM   #48
MarbleZone
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The sound of blades clashing with one another brought him to the window. Levin had been lost in thought all morning, trying to find a reason to stay, but he couldn't; the thought of facing an actual Elite Four and its Champion to fulfill his life's dream was within his reach, but in order to do so, he'd have to leave Fizzy Bubbles. With Kyzer, his ultimate team was now merely two Pokemon away from completion, and then...

But the noise of battle snapped him out of his reverie, and he peered outside. What he saw was an unlikely face-off: Sai, the lone brooding warrior, tested his swords against the living sword itself, Almace. The Ghost-Type was one Levin couldn't figure out; it followed him around everywhere, often materializing from his own shadow, but never revealed a hint of its own personality, making it an unsettling company. To think that either of them would start a fight was unlikely, but there they were.

The blonde Trainer stepped outside, and his unusual insight allowed him to pick up on several details that explained everything. Sai's blade-arms were spotted dark-red on several places, and the edges were notched from extreme usage. Levin knew the mantis enjoyed complete solitude in the woods nearby (reminding him of Ryker, his former Luxray) where he trained incessantly to surpass the team's strongest. He despised advice of any kind, making him very hard to deal with, but there was no denying his hard work had paid off; Levin had never seen Sai moving this fast or hitting this hard.
Almace's edge, on the other hand, was as impeccably clean and sharp as always, and the Pokemon's movements were still sluggish although picking up the pace. No doubt about it - it was Sai who'd started this fight, challenging the still-slumbering Almace. After all, what better way to test your swordsmanship than versus an actual sword?

Either Sai thinks he's strong enough or he's hit a roadblock. Ajax did the same thing once, as did Syre - warriors like them, who don't accept help, often take on battles they can't win in hopes of triggering that "something" they know they lack. It's the same for you Sai, isn't it?...

Despite his assumption, the mantis was doing exceptionally well. Moving too fast for Almace to land a hit, his agility allowed Sai to run circles around his foe, while alternating between close-range slices and raged offense with Air Slashes and Silver Winds. Almace took every blow without flinching, and the occasional swing missed widely, but the Ghos didn't seem fazed at all. In fact, with each of Sai's hits, Almace's blade seemed to glimmer brighter and sharpen...

He's... improving himself with each of his opponent's strikes?

Tiny scraps of metal flew from Almace under Sai's intense onslaught, and that's when it dawned on Levin - that's what the Honedge intended. Before Sai could realize it, Almace had shed most of his unnecessary weight in blunt steel, and when he finally made a move, it was faster - much faster - than either the Scyther or Levin himself could have predicted. Taking full advantage of its Autotomize, the living sword flew straight toward the charging Sai and cut him down with a powerful Retaliate, then turned around and unleashed an unblockable flurry of Slashes! As Almace flailed wildly, hitting faster than Sai could dodge, he began to glow even brighter, but not just the edge this time; the hilt itself took on the same shine, a familiar light-blue, and suddenly the number of slashes doubled, causing Sai to lose his footing and tumble helplessly on his back!

When the light faded, Almace hovered over his fallen foe in his new form, twice as deadly - the stared down at Sai with an unreadable expression, but giving the Scyther time to struggle back to his feet, as if inciting him to try again...

Sai, you were outmatched from the start. Against a Doublade, what chance do you have? But I know you...

As Levin expected, Sai merely spat on the ground and rose back up, beaten but not done yet. He assumed his battle stance, scanning his foe for a weak spot with his Technician instincts, and prepared to charge again... only to see Almace travel through the air faster tan he could react and hit an upwards slash of incredible difficulty and precision, again leaving Sai powerless to block. And after that single Aerial Ace, the mantis could no longer continue battling, succumbing to his injuries and fainting.

Levin rushed over to the fallen Sai; Ciel emerged from her Pokeball and immediately nursed the Scyther back to health without her Trainer having to say a word, like she'd been watching all along. But how could she? She was inside her Pokeball the whole time...

- Sai, are you alright? Come on, you need to rest. That was a good effort, but you should...

Before he could finish, the wounded warrior cut him off by jamming one of his blades into the young man's backpack, nearly piercing it. His expression was a mix of frustration, anger and burning resolve.

- What... what do you want? Is there something there that...

Metal Coat. He needs it.

The realization was as sudden as it was unexpected. Mere months ago, Mellow (now Qeth) had to pry the coat off of him after the trade, since the mantis was too proud to accept any form of armor. But he understood now that he had to embrace its power to achieve the level he craved, even if it meant training even harder to overcome its weight without sacrificing mobility. The Metal Coat would allow him to become stronger than any further amount of training, and Sai was finally ready to accept that limitation.

- If that's what you want... sure. I'll find a way to help you.

Sai merely scoffed, but Levin could sense the slightest hint of gratitude. But just then, he felt something else entirely, something overwhelming, overpowering and at the same time familiar, emerging from the woods ahead...

Master.

- M-Mazo?! What happened to you? And... where's Haou?

At the end of Syre's match with Vesta, the Lucario and the Medicham had slipped off to engage in their own final battle, way from prying eyes. It was Loffley who later filled him in, and it had been days since either Pokemon had reappeared, but Levin simply assumed they needed time. No matte how much he wanted to see his two strongest Pokemon face off and go all-out, he knew how much the battle meant to them and didn't dare to disturb them. So what had happened? And why was Mazo's aura so different?...

The Emperor... you will not see him again.

His mental voice had a different ring to it, and he sounded saddened. Something had happened to Mazo while he was away, but Levin's most pressing concern was Haou's absence...

- What do you mean? Mazo, tell me what happened!!

We clashed. For days, we battled one another, finding a resilience neither of us knew we possessed. The Emperor countered my every strike, but I managed to fend his off as well. Despite his Pure Power and his Psychic proficiency, my Aura matched him. It... was glorious.

He faltered with every word, visibly emotional. It was the first time Levin saw him in such a state.

This morning, there was a winner at last. His last strike missed, but my aim was true... I defeated Haou with the last ounce of my strength. And then...

As he could no longer continue, overcome by a rush of feelings uncharacteristic of such a composed fighter, Levin dropped to one knee and placed a reassuring hand on the lycan's shoulder.

- It's alright... just show me.

With a nod, Mazo closed his eyes, and in a moment the events were playing in Levin's mind. He saw everything...

Mazo stood over the defeated Haou and helped him back to his feet. Around them, where one was a waterfall and lush vegetation, nothing remained but a barren wasteland. Haou, having recovered his consciousness, spoke to Mazo in a language Levin didn't know, but in his vision could fully understand.

Levin's champion... Your power already exceeds my own, yet it may grow further. I can help you, if you wish.

My only purpose left in this life is to serve Levin as best I can. If you say I'm yet to reach my peak... please tell me, Emperor.

Haou hesitated, for some reason. Levin had never seen the Medicham hesitate... what was going on?

There is one more gate for you to open, one that grants godly power. Through my meditation I've seen it, I've touched it... but I cannot cross the gate even in the peak of my strength. It is my curse to bear; you, however, may still achieve that ultimate state. I wish to be a part of that glorious transcendence, and I would give you my essence to do so. Our powers combined may be enough to force the gate open.

Your... "essence"? Emperor, what do you mean?...

It is not like you to ask questions for which you already have the answer. Yes, that is what I offer you, and I would be honored if you accept. I have reached my limit, no amount of training or meditation can further strengthen me. In this current state, powerful as though this body may be, I feel unworthy to serve Levin - others, such as yourself, are my superiors. This is the only contribution I can still give, and would do so gladly...

I cannot accept. I will not be responsible for your...

Death? I will live on, through you, in your soul and as part of your Aura. The one you call "Haou" will physically cease to exist, but I will be with you always. I insist - it is the only way for you to achieve the power we both feel Levin deserves. The only way for you to become his perfect warrior.

Haou held out his hand, and Mazo took it. At that moment, the vision ended...

- Mazo... what happened? Did Haou really?....

The Lucario stared at the ground, not answering for a while. When he spoke again, Levin could clearly tell his voice was indeed different... like two creatures spoke in unison through the same Pokemon.

Haou, as you knew him, is gone. He is part of me, as he wished; our Auras have merged, as have our bodies, his gone and mine empowered by his sacrifice. I can feel his soul dwelling within me, and an unprecedented power coursing through my veins... but the Medicham himself is no more, and he speaks only through me. I am so sorry, Master... but he wanted this to be his final contribution. I could not deny him that...

Levin closed his eyes, fighting back tears, but he understood Haou's sacrifice - it was for Mazo's sake, for the greater good, and he, much like the Lucario, had no choice but to respect the Medicham's choice. He offered his soul to allow Mazo to grow even further, and that gate he mentioned... Mega Evolution?
He instinctively reached for the Lucarionite in his Bag, but stopped midway. This wasn't the time... Mazo needed to adjust, and above all, to mourn. As did he.

Master, if I may ask one more thing of you... Haou and I are one now, he is not dead and I am not alone. I am no longer simply "Mazo"; for his sacrifice, and for his spirit dwelling within me, I believe "Hazo" should be my... our name from now on. With your permission...

- Hazo... I think you're right, as always. But it'll take me some time to adjust, I've called you Mazo for over three years! Even so, Haou's soul and Aura live on through you, and I can't ignore that. We will both honor his sacrifice; he had great plans for you, and I'll see his final wish come true! You and I, with his help, will open that final gate.

He turned to his Scyther, who listened intently with a fierce glimmer in his eyes.

- And then Sai, you can challenge the greatest force of all to the battle of your life.
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