Amarie and the wild seadra from the last post, who I'm naming SearsGoals:
- Eggs, hopefully a horsea this time
- Character development for Amarie
- Establishing Sears the seadra as an NPC for Amarie
They left the forest for a short time to return to the Rose Bowl central camp, with the hopes of advancing in the tournament. The crawdaunt held her head up high, clacked her pincers confidently. She knew they had lost the actual fight, but sometimes, there was a rare exception in which strength was valued and allowed to continue even after a losing fight. She held the skorupi's arm close to her as Alexander recalled her, preparing for the journey.
The Amarie who came back to the Edgewood was a very different one from the one who left.
There was no hope in this one's eyes. It was her second try, her second year in a row that she herself had brought her team down. No matter how hard she trained, no matter how hard she tried, she seemed to be the weak link in her team. One year was a fluke. Two years could only be explained in that way.
Something felt different as she traversed the paths her handler made and settled down near his tent. She felt no inclination to explore, and the sound of the rushing stream was no longer a call to adventure.
She hated to feel that way. Even in her funk, she knew she had to come back. She couldn't mope forever - the dragons would laugh at her. Alexander would understand, but he would pity her, and any crawdaunt worth its pincers would rather die than be pitied. And yet she had lost, she had failed... but not in the stream. In the rushing waters, she had felt so alive. She had fought, and she had won.
As she dared to scuttle over, she remembered him, the scars, the brutality with which they had fought. The two eggs she had taken with her, twins in all but name, cold and slippery and waiting to hatch out of their eggs. She could only wonder if they would resemble her or the majestic beast she had mated with.
Ayla had scoffed at her when she brought the eggs back, bleeding from her own battle to take them as her own. And she had defended them fiercely, shielding them with her body at the mere thought of the haxorus' blades getting anywhere near the flimsy eggshell surface. That had surprised the haxorus, who declared that it was not worth her time and retreated, scoffing at how "soft" Amarie had gotten.
The crawdaunt had laughed. Now, she tried to remember that defensiveness, that eagerness to take what was hers and keep it safe. She enjoyed the way the smaller fish moved out of her section of the stream as soon as she dipped a single claw in the water, watching it lap at the old scars from another battle she had lost. For the first time, she looked down at her trophies and doubted even them. Were her scars and trophies symbols of loss, rather than victory?
She was distracted from her thoughts by a jet of water aimed at her pincer. It was not meant to injure - there was some force behind it, but not enough to sweep her off her feet. A challenge, then. She looked up and saw him skimming the surface of the water, using Water Gun to keep himself afloat. Dripping with water droplets that shimmered in the sunlight streaming down from the canopy of trees, he was a vision of loveliness, something that could distract her from the thoughts nagging at her mind. If this gorgeous creature thought she was worthy, and without an Attract, then she would sink her teeth into that distraction with everything in her.
It worked, for a short while. She tried to forget about the handler who brought her food and left her with the seadra. She tried to ignore the way he was training a new pokemon, a small meditite with a missing eye and lopsided legs, and the way he was allowing the mr. mime who was equally as scary as Amarie herself to tend the young one. She slept fitfully, thinking of the meditite more than she would ever admit. How the mime was training him ever so kindly, teaching him how to be strong in his own element. Could she do the same? Was it possible, considering the raw truth that she could not hide from forever?
She had lost. She knew this the previous time she saw her seadra, yes, but whereas the individual battle's loss fueled her anger then, the loss of Alexander's place in the Rose Bowl made her feel despondent. Unworthy of such a strong creature. Unworthy of any new eggs resting in the damp mud, waiting for her. "Is something the matter?"
he asked her, his long tail unfurled and dipped in the water to help him wake up. She opened an eye and noticed it was morning, a new day creeping in on the forest. Time seemed to move so slowly there, she thought as she looked over at him.
There was the pity she loathed. Resting her head on her pincers in an uncharacteristically lazy pose, she replied: "Nothing." "Then spar with me, fight for these new ones as we fought for our first two,"
he said, nudging her when she failed to stand up. "Will you not fight me?"
The ugly truth sat there. It had festered in her mind for so long, growing and mutating until it had taken her away from this small joy she had allowed herself. "I will fight, but not for the babies."
She didn't even look over in the mud, willing herself to pretend there was nothing there at all. "Do you not want them?" "I want them,"
Amarie grumbled. "But... you are stronger than me. They deserve strength, protection." "You fought me for our first two,"
he said, a slight tone of surprise in his voice. "I lost twice - against the smallest of enemies. A frillish, not even evolved, and a cyndaquil, a fire-type,"
she admitted, not meeting him in the eyes. He didn't deserve a mate as weak as her. "If those can beat me, what hope can our babies have of surviving, of becoming strong?" "And you think they would be strong with me?" "You're strong. You have this area of the stream for yourself, and you could make a safe haven for our babies." "That's not what my handler said when he threw me away."
The confession surprised Amarie, and she looked over at him to find his expression impassive, nearly blank. Almost as if he had feelings at one point, but pushed them so far down that he sounded nearly robotic when he explained. "I was born to him, and he called me Sears. But he wasn't proud of these scars. Each one was a loss, a strike against my place on the team. One day he simply left me here and smashed the ball."
Amarie nodded, not entirely knowing what to do - but knowing that if he was anything like her at all, he would not want her pity or consolation. "He made a mistake." "Did he? I lost battle after battle, and I needed time to get my strength back again."
He looked over at her, nodding his head. Was he trying to tell her it was the same in her situation? "Alexander hasn't been here in two days. He's training new pokemon. He has a mr. mime who can beat anything and a pair of dragons. What does he need me for?"
The seadra - Sears - shook his head. "Your handler knows you are with me. He watches you in the night, he brings you food. What more can you ask of him without anything in return?
Amarie stayed silent. "If he wanted to leave you, he would have left already. What would you think if he left?" "That he was a coward who never meant a single word he said." "Is that what I would tell our babies if you left now? That you were too afraid of yourself to try?" "And if I lose?" "Then you keep going. Again, and again, and again. Never stop. If you had stopped before, would you have the strength you do now?" "Are you trying to get me to fight you again?"
Amarie asked. "Quilladin can live without an ear, and skorupi can live without an arm, but seaking cannot live without a horn, and our babies cannot live without someone teaching them how to do things right." "You think that of me?"
For an instant, as she looked at the seadra, she thought she saw something in his eyes, something fierce and possessive and strong, and yet kind and considerate. He did not see her with pity, but he saw her potential, something she couldn't see in herself. Was this the feeling that Attract mimicked? Was this what she had looked for?
If it was, she wouldn't find it to her satisfaction by sitting down. She propped herself up on her pincers and stood, a slight smile turning into an outright grin as she faced him.
She didn't expect the fire in his eyes, the glint as he silently challenged her for their new family.
Nor could she have prepared for her own reaction, a series of small shimmering red lights coming out of her pincers. Trump Cards, her favorite sort of challenge. An attack unique to her, but one that she could pass on to her babies. A strong move after practice, after multiple uses that looked like weak failures. A good lesson for a baby - and one that she planned to teach the new little one or ones, she thought as she dared to look over at the mud.
When she returned to Alexander, she would bear her prize proudly, the shame not entirely gone from her eyes, but a building fire inside her had overcome it, and she would not let it get between her and her babies.