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Fanfiction Pokemon Legendary Adventures (The Journey Begins)

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by Flyg0n, Jun 8, 2020.

  1. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016

    Cover art credit of 'convesence' on instagram, aka 'Hawkosa' on deviantart.

    NOTE: Feel free to comment/review/discuss on this thread, I don't mind! :D

    Summary: Koamaru longs to be the first to capture a legendary Pokémon. He sets out on his journey with one goal. Become one of the strongest trainers in all of Sinnoh. When fate leads him to a Zubat as his starter, he begins to question what it means to be the strongest. As he trains, he seeks answers. Because the only way he can achieve his dream is to discover what it means to be a trainer.

    SO I'm very new to this site, but a longtime fan of Pokémon. I've been working on this story for a few months now, and I figured I would post it here for fellow Pokémon fans to enjoy. It follows a completely original plot, not the plot of the games/show. It is in-progress, but I've got a lot of it done, so updates should be fairly regular. Feedback is appreciated! Enjoy!

    Just one week left. Koa crossed off today's date on his wall calendar. He flipped to next month's page, June. The 3rd was circled in red, along with a message from his cousin that read "Don't slack little K." Koa rolled his eyes at the nickname. In just one week he turned 14, which was the minimum age to apply for a trainers license in Sinnoh.

    He glanced down at his watch. 6:05. Time to get dressed. He pulled on green cargo pants, boots and a black t-shirt. Then he grabbed a jacket off a chair. The sturdy material had served him well, but the wear had begun to show. It was scuffed in many places and sported its fair share of patches. He gave his room a final cursory glance, then grabbed his backpack off a chair and jogged downstairs.

    The faint murmur of the tv echoed through the living room. His cousin was sprawled on the couch in front of it, fast asleep. He walked over and shook him awake. "Hey Blake, I'm going out."

    Blake grunted and sat up, yawning. "Good morning to you too, Koa. You can take Absol with you. He needs the exercise." Putting his fingers to his lips, he whistled. Toenails clicking on wood floors echoed through the quiet room and an Absol emerged from a hallway. When he spotted Koa, he trotted over and nuzzled his hand. Koa rubbed the Pokémon's head affectionately.

    "Nice to see you too. Ready for a little exercise?"

    Absol barked eagerly.

    "You're never that happy to see me..." Blake muttered to the Absol, his tone playfully bitter. Absol sniffed and turned his back on Blake before walking towards the door. Koa grinned and followed. Blake sat up. "Oh! I nearly forgot. Be back by 8: 30."


    "Because I said so," Blake replied, smirking. The smirk changed to a friendly smile. "It's a surprise."

    Koa nodded in acknowledgment and hurried out the door. There was little point in trying to pry any more information out of Blake. He was too stubborn to give out anything.

    "Hey!" His cousin called sharply. "Aren't you forgetting something?"

    Koa paused his hand on the door handle, and cringed. "What?"

    Blake left the room a moment and came back holding a great ball in one hand and a baton in the other. "Tsk tsk. You should always carry your Pokémon's Pokéball with you. And something to defend yourself."

    Koa rolled his eyes. "Yeah yeah." His cousin tended to be over paranoid, in his opinion. Most Pokémon wouldn't attack humans or seriously harm them. Only the angriest or most territorial Pokémon would. And even then, humans were tough. He tucked Absol's Pokéball into his pocket.

    A rush of salty air greeted him as he stepped outside. Closing the door behind him, he drew in a deep breath of familiar ocean air. The tall buildings of his hometown, Canalave, rose all around him. A sense of familiarity flowed through him as he began his usual routine, starting with a few basic warm-ups.

    As he did, a flock of Pidgey and Starly landed not far away and watched him expectantly. He grinned and waved, then pulled out the pack of seeds he always kept with him, tossing them a few. The birds descended upon them, eagerly pecking them up. They shrieked a thank you before flying off.

    Once he finished stretching, he broke into a jog, heading north. Absol bounded alongside him, keeping pace easily. He took a route through the city taking time to take in the sights of his home. It wouldn't be long before he had his trainers license and he could start his journey. There was a good chance he might not return to Canalave for a long time.

    In between houses, he could catch glimpses of the two large wooden bridges that spanned the town, dividing its two main districts. The west half was primarily housing, while the eastern was composed mostly of businesses. The only things of note on the west half was the library and the gym.

    Eventually, he broke away from the houses, following a path through a small wooded area. The trees gave way to sand and then to the beach. The waves crashed on the shore and a strong breeze whipped through his hair. Ahead, far in the distance, bright ships of different sizes and colors dotted the port.

    As he jogged east across the beach, Absol sprinted forwards, scaring a flock of Wingull. They squawked and flew inland, over the town. He watched as they settled on a two-story building at the edge of the beach. Its gray stone walls stood in contrast to the firm, light-colored wooden buildings surrounding it. Arched windows lined its walls, offering a glimpse at what lay inside-rows and rows of books. Even the mere sight of it made Koa's heart soar. The library was his favorite place in the entire city. He'd spent countless hours inside its walls, reading everything he could about his favorite topic. Legendaries.

    Koa headed back inland, continuing his route. He left the city through the west gate and followed a worn dirt path into the woods. The sparse trees quickly thickened until the path was nearly invisible, and his surroundings darkened, the faint dawn light barely penetrating the leafy canopy. Absol darted in and out of the trees, moving like a shadow.

    Despite the lack of distinct markers, he jogged swiftly through the brush navigating with an ease born of familiarity. Finally, he stopped in front of a tree that was taller than the others. Root like vines wrapped around its trunk and spiraled upwards, forming a web-like tangle near the crown of the tree. Absol stopped at the tree's base, then stretched and yawned, curling up for a quick nap.

    "Don't get too comfy," he declared with a grin. Dropping his backpack onto the ground, he held up his watch and switched it to the stopwatch mode, then pressed the start button. Taking a half step back, he lunged forwards and grabbed hold of the tree, securing his feet against one of the vines. Then he began to climb. He moved swiftly as he could, taking care to secure his hold before moving upwards. No need for a repeat of last month's accident. If he got injured now, he might have to postpone getting his trainer's license.

    As he climbed, he recited his Plan. Luxray, Gyrados. He scrambled over a branch, pulling himself higher. Staraptor, Nidoking. He lunged to the next handhold. Tyrogue. With a final heave, he pulled himself into a spot at the crown of the tree. out his stopwatch, he hit pause. 1:47.


    A startled Hoot Hoot glared reproachfully at him before flying away. The Trainer's License exam featured a rock wall that he had to climb in 3:00 or under. It wasn't hard at all, but he wanted to push himself. While a lot of trainers he spoke to dreamed of challenging the League, he had an entirely different goal. He dreamed of becoming an explorer. If he could climb a tree in less time, he was sure to pass that part. Sighing, he leaned back in the tree and closed his eyes, giving his aching limbs a rest. He could picture his team in his head already. His perfect team.

    Any trainers beginning their journey had a few options available to them. There were training courses in the various schools in the area, and if one completed the course, they would be awarded a Pokémon. The other option was receiving one of the traditional starters from Professor Rowan. But the usual three starters didn't interest him, not really. He wanted the third option - taking a few pokeballs into the wild, and catching something weak, and raising it. His thoughts traveled back to his Perfect Team.

    Excellent coverage for most types, as well as checks and balances. Luxray would be first of course. Shinx weren't too hard to find, and even though he wouldn't have an immediate type advantage, they were powerful Pokémon, and excellent in battle. Then he would catch a Tyrogue. They weren't common, but with some searching, he was sure he could get one. They would also give him an early advantage. Then he could get Starly to help with grass types. From there, he would eventually get a Nidoking, a Gyarados, and finally, a Garchomp. They would be perfect. And perhaps, if he was lucky, he could find a fossil Pokémon. With a strong team backing him, he would be able to explore anywhere.

    Beyond that, he hadn't considered catching more Pokémon. Trainers who caught more than six Pokémon could have their Pokémon sent to one of many Pokémon Ranches, or to a Professor. Otherwise, a trainer would be registered to a PC system. Science wasn't one of his interests, so he had no idea how it worked, but he knew the gist. PC's served as a 'digital space' in which Pokémon could roam about and relax freely until they were recalled. Much like a Pokéball, he knew it acted as a sort of stasis as well, so injured Pokémon would be just fine. Regardless, he wasn't really interested yet in trying to train more than six Pokémon.

    After several minutes, he sat up, then shimmied down the tree. If he wanted to make it home in time for whatever Blake had planned, he had to leave now.

    By the time he reached Canalave's west gate, the sun had risen well above the horizon. He glanced down at his watch. 8:19. Not bad.

    As he approached his house, he spotted his cousin standing outside, waiting. Absol trotted to Blake's side and sat down.

    Blake waved. "How'd the training go?"

    Koa grinned, the memory of his earlier triumph still fresh in his mind. "Great! I beat my time. I think I'm ready."

    Blake grinned proudly. "Good job. I hope you're not too tired though."

    "Why? What did you need me to do?"

    "I have a few books and some research notes I want you to take to Professor Rowan. I was going to just mail it, but I figured you'd like the chance to see him again. He's going to be in Jubilife City this week for a special teaching session at the Trainer's School." He gestured to his bike, which leaned against the side of the house. "You can borrow my bike to get there. It'll cut down your travel time."

    Koa's grin grew as his cousin spoke. "Sick!" he exclaimed, pumping his fist in the air. Professor Rowan was a close friend of his cousin, who was a Pokémon researcher. He'd met the Professor a few years back and immediately grew close to him. It seemed as if Rowan had a never-ending wealth of knowledge, and with his help, he'd learned a great deal about Pokémon.

    "Thanks, cousin!"

    "Be careful with that bike. They aren't cheap you know," Blake said. "Take route 218 straight there. I'm guessing you already have enough basic supplies in your backpack?"

    Koa nodded impatiently. Ever since he started training for the trainer's exam, he got in the habit of keeping a backpack of necessities- first aid kit, map, a knife, clothing, a sleeping bag, and rope. Not to mention the baton he always kept at his side, although he abhorred the thought of having to use it. "Of course. Besides, this is a quick three-day trip, not a wilderness excursion."

    "Good. You should be able to make it there by the morning after tomorrow if you keep a steady pace. I recommended resting at the Ranger's Lodge before you cross the bridge. It's not a good idea to cross the bridge after dark. You can get supplies there too. There's another lodge on the west side that-"

    "Yeah yeah yeah. I know how to travel dude." Koa swung his leg over the bike.

    Blake handed Koa a paper bag. "I packed you lunch."

    Koa took the bag, stuffing it into his backpack. "Anything else, mom?" he said teasingly

    Blake rolled his eyes and returned Absol. He handed the ball to Koa. "You can take Absol, but no battles! He's there for protection only, got it? Last thing I need is a call from Officer Jenny about an unlicensed trainer using my Pokémon in an illegal battle."

    "Okay already. I get it," he took the ball and clipped it to his belt. "Are you done? Can I go now?"

    Blake sighed. "Yes, that's all I guess. Please at least try not to be too reckless."

    Koa rolled his eyes and nodded, then pushed off and started pedaling.

    He zoomed out of Canalave, exiting the city in less than an hour, taking the east gate.

    Once he left the city, he slowed down to a more steady, even pace. Jubilife was close compared to the distance between other towns, but even by bike it would take a little less than three days. Thankfully Route 218 was fairly straightforward.

    The first leg of the journey consisted of a packed dirt road that ran through a massive field. In the distance, patches of trees rose all around. The Verity ocean stretched out to his left. Beautifly danced about through the tall grass and Pidgey and Taillow flew high overhead, along with other bird Pokémon. To his right, and south of Canalave, he could see the untamed wilds of the Ore mountains. He hadn't told his cousin yet, but they were first on his list of places to go once he was officially a trainer. Many explorers delved into those mountains and found fossils of rare and powerful Pokémon. He fully intended to join their ranks. A fossil Pokémon would be an excellent addition to his team, eventually. Although he still hadn't decided how he wanted to fit one into his plan.

    As the sun neared its midpoint in the sky, he stopped for a bit to let Absol out and get a quick snack. There wasn't time for a proper meal, plus it was hot and he didn't want to stay still for too long. Within five minutes, Absol was back in his ball, and Koa was back on the road. There was a lot of ground to cover still.

    By the time the sun began to set, he had nearly reached the West Inlet Ranger Outpost, a small outpost manned by Pokémon Rangers. The outposts were a common sight in the wilderness and on routes. They acted as a rest stop for weary travelers and as an emergency healing center. This one was just west of a large inlet, which was spanned by a series of bridges and boardwalks. He paused outside the ranger outpost, a plain log cabin looking building surrounded by a tall fence. A Ranger guard stood outside, a Mightyena curled at his feet.

    A sigh of relief escaped him. The Outpost meant the first leg of his journey was over. As he approached the gate, the ranger held out his hand, barring him. "ID please."

    Koa pulled out his ID. The Ranger examined it closely, then handed it back with a nod. "Be careful. There have been reports of people getting mugged at night."

    Koa nodded in acknowledgment and headed inside. A short time later, he settled into a room, eating dinner with Absol.

    The next morning, Koa awoke early. He purchased some food from the Ranger cafe, then set out. The next part of the journey would be slightly more challenging. It consisted of several bridges spanning the inlet and a marshy area. Unlike yesterday, time seemed to crawl by. He passed by several trainers, and a few even challenged him, but he was forced to refuse. If he was caught, he would be prohibited from getting his trainer's license. Last time, the police hadn't pressed charges but he doubted he would be so lucky if he did it again. Even though anyone was allowed to carry a Pokémon, only licensed trainers could participate in battles, or try for the gym circuit.

    Bridge after bridge he crossed, until he zoned out, gazing at the horizon, his eyes unfocused. The sun inched across the sky. 1:00. 2:19. 3:41. 5:56. 7:03.


    Koa snapped back to reality. A black and white blur hurtled towards him. His hair stood on end and the air crackled. He swerved sharply to the right, skidding on the wooden bridge. His bike spun out of control and tipped, sending him sprawling onto the bridge, rolling to the edge. The blur passed by, accompanied by hoofbeats on wood.

    "Hey watch it you moron!" Koa screamed. He scrambled to his feet, but he only managed to catch a glimpse of the person. They wore a dark hooded cloak and rode upon a Zebstrika, which explained the speed and electricity.

    Koa sprang onto his bike and started pedaling, but his legs were no match for a Zebstrika. Within seconds they had disappeared over a rise in the road Still, he kept going for several minutes, fueled by anger. Eventually, he stopped, breathing heavily. His heart hammered and his damp shirt clung to his body.

    "Argh! Stupid idiot almost killed me!" he shouted. He slammed his fist into the handlebars clenching his jaw. For a few minutes he didn't move, still fuming with indignation. Finally. He turned around and started pedaling south again. This time, his pace was slower. By the time he reached the Southern Inlet Ranger outpost, he was a good hour behind schedule.

    Dinner was a quick affair. After, he released Absol and turned in for the night. His thoughts turned on the stranger on the Zebstrika for some time. The rider had been dressed strangely compared to people in this area. Where had he been going in such a hurry? Perhaps he was one of those muggers the ranger had mentioned? Or just a foolish trainer. Eventually, he drifted off to sleep.

    The next morning, he skipped a large breakfast in favor of getting on the road sooner. The final leg of the journey would be easy. A straight, hard-packed dirt road through a small forest, and at its end, the gates to Jubilife. The sun had just begun to rise as he started biking down the road. Ahead, he could see a small forest stretching out before him. On the other side, Jubilife awaited him. He hastened his pace, eager to reach the town and rest and get a proper meal.

    As he entered the woods, a loud shriek sounded from somewhere ahead and to his right. Koa paused. The sound came again. It sounded like a Pokémon in distress. Curious, Koa dropped his bike and hurried into the woods.

    A faint trail wound through the woods a short distance, leading to a tiny clearing with a single tree. Unlike the rest of the trees in the area, this one's leaves were a golden yellow, and a sticky coating covered the trunk. A honey tree. He knew there was one near Jubilife, and he wasn't exactly surprised to find another.

    At the edge of the clearing, a small Zubat lay, stunned. A wave of pity washed over him at the sight of the poor creature. He knelt next to it and pulled out a potion from his bag and sprayed the Zubat. After a few moments, it fluttered to life, emitting a happy shriek. Judging by the size of its fangs, it was male. He wondered what he was doing all the way out here. Zubat and Golbat tended to stick to colonies. Usually, they lived in caves, although some lived in forests or in cities. This one also didn't seem as bothered by sunlight as other members of its species.

    The Zubat started to flutter towards the honey tree, but a warning cry from its branches made him pause. The purple head of an Aipom poked out and glared at the Zubat. He guessed the Aipom had claimed the tree as its own. He knew the monkey Pokémon were fairly fond of honey. Judging by the condition Zubat had been in, he guessed it tried to get some and got attacked for it.

    "Huh, I guess you wanted some honey?" Koa mused out loud. He'd never known Zubat to be lovers of honey, but there were always exceptions, he supposed. The Zubat chittered and nodded its head. Koa turned back towards the tree.

    "How about it, Aipom? I'm sure Zubat doesn't want the whole tree, right Zubat?" The Zubat nodded emphatically. The Aipom eyed Koa and the Zubat for a moment, then nodded. With a grateful squeak, Zubat landed on the tree, gratefully licking the honey off.

    Koa shook his head, a smile tugging at his lips at the comical sight. After watching for another moment, he returned to the road. He still had a fair way to go until Jubilife, and he wanted to reach it before nightfall.

    Before long, he could see the highrises of Jubilife City on the horizon. A little while later, he made his way through the gate and into the city. Once he was there, he stopped at the local police station to report the man on the Zebstrika, then he headed for the school. Much to his disappointment, he didn't get to spend much time with professor Rowan. After finishing his teaching, he had to leave almost immediately for his lab in Sandgem. Koa only got a minute to speak with him before he left.

    "So how is the training going?" Rowan asked.

    "Great!" Koa replied enthusiastically. "I'm ready for the exam, I think. And I even have my whole team planned out," he added proudly.

    Rowan frowned. Or at least his normally stern face got slightly more stern. "Planning ahead is good, but remember not to limit yourself. Unexpected occurrences always happen during a trainer's journey."

    "I know," Koa said, trying to hide the impatience in his voice. He didn't really mind surprises, but he didn't want his team to be one.

    Rowan nodded and stroked his beard briefly. "I have to get back to my lab, but keep your phone with you once you start your journey. I may need your help with a project of mine soon."

    Koa's eyes lit up. "What project?" he asked eagerly.

    "You'll have to have some patience, my boy." Rowan said. Koa knew that tone of voice all too well. Try as he might, he wouldn't get any more information from him. Rowan was more stubborn than a rock.

    "One more thing, young man."


    "Make sure you stop by the lab once you get your license. Your cousin and I have something for you that we've been working on."

    Koa's eyes widened. He longed to know what it was, but he felt certain neither Rowan or his cousin would spill a word of whatever his surprises were.

    He bid the professor goodbye. He ended up spending the night in Jubilife, even though it was only early evening.

    The next day, he started on his return journey. The trip back proved mostly uneventful. At least until the final leg of the journey. Thanks to oversleeping at one point, he found himself on the final stretch of Route 218 in the very late evening. The last colors of dusk were fading from the sky, and he could just barely make out stars. He figured he had about an hour's worth of biking to get back to Canalave. Normally, traveling after dark was dangerous, but he had Absol for protection, so he wasn't very worried. Plus, 218 was usually a fairly safe route.

    His thoughts drifted as he biked down the final stretch. The sky gradually darkened more and the moon began to rise. He didn't see the dark shape in front of him until it was too late. Koa cried out in shock as he crashed into something, the impact sending him flying off his bike. Behind him, a low growl arose. He rolled to his feet just in time to see a very angry Mightyena glaring at him. Slowly, he raised his hand in a pacifying gesture.

    "Easy boy. I'm sorry, it was an accident. I didn't mean to run into you."

    Apparently, the Mightyena didn't care for his apology. It snarled in anger and took a step towards him. Koa reached for Absol's Pokéball.

    The rogue Mightyena lunged forwards, knocking the ball out of his hand. It rolled several yards away. The Mightyena snarled, prowling in between him and the ball. Koa gulped. His heart beat a little faster and he stared anxiously at the Pokéball.

    "Easy buddy. I don't want to hurt you," he spoke in as calm a voice as he could muster, and held his hands out. The Mightyena growled louder and took a step towards him. Koa hesitantly reached for the baton clipped at his side. The Mightyena lunged for him. Koa dove to the ground, rolling away from it. He scrambled to his feet, still eyeing Absol's Pokéball. Mightyena remained between him and the Pokéball, much to Koa's annoyance.

    Suddenly, a loud, high-pitched screech from above assaulted his ears. The Mightyena whimpered and folded its ears. Koa looked up, towards the source of the sound. Several feet above, a small Zubat hovered in the air. It screeched again, then dived at the Mightyena. The Mightyena leaped away, then glared at the Zubat, as if contemplating attacking. Apparently it decided it wasn't worth the trouble and gave a single bark, then darted back into the woods.

    Not wanting to lose his opportunity, Koa grabbed Absol's Pokéball and picked up his bike. He glanced up again, but the Zubat had disappeared. He frowned in thought. That was odd. Singular Zubat didn't tend to be aggressive. Why would one attack a Mightyena out of the blue? As he got back on his bike and continued his trip home, he contemplated the Zubat. Could it have been the one from the honey tree? He quickly dismissed the thought. There were hundreds of Zubat in the world. Perhaps this was just the Pokémon gods smiling upon him. Either way, he was grateful not to have to use his baton, even for defense.

    The next several days alternated between dragging by and flying by, which was aggravating. He distracted himself with his job at the local pokemart, saving as much extra cash before he began his training journey. Finally, the day of the trainer's exam arrived. Much to his annoyance, he woke up a half-hour later than he preferred. So much for a morning warm-up.

    Thankfully, he didn't plan on leaving until after the exam. He'd have a chance to stop back by Canalave before he left. His cousin was awake and waiting for him already. The closest exam center was in Jubilife, which meant they would have to take a special bus there. The bus let them out at the gates to Jubilife, and his cousin walked with him the rest of the way. They stopped in front of a large, squarish building with a massive domed roof. Bold letters above the doors spelled out 'DTL' and in smaller letters beneath it read "Department of Trainer Licensing.' Koa started for the double doors.

    "Good luck little K," his cousin called.

    "Oh please. I got this. Luck is for losers!" Koa replied, smirking.

    "That's why I offered it."

    Koa's smirk disappeared and he shot Blake a scathing glare. After a moment, he smiled. "Not bad, I'll give you that." Koa turned and headed inside. Several soon-to-be trainers milled about inside, most around his age or a little older. Some were chatting, while others showed off Pokémon they had gotten. He brushed by them, heading straight for the front desk. A young lady with straight black hair, pale skin and a serious face sat behind the counter, staring blankly ahead.

    "I'd like to register for the Trainer's License exam," he said.

    The lady looked at him, then down at her computer. "Name?"

    "Koamaru Averon."


    "14," he replied. It felt good to finally say it.

    She took another look at him then typed in some more information, murmuring to herself as she did. "Eyes, brown... skin, light. Hair dark navy." She looked back up at him.


    "Five foot six."


    "Canalave City."

    She finished typing, then looked up at him. "You're all set." She slid a slip of paper over the counter towards him. "Here's your exam pass. The first part will begin in five minutes. Please wait in the lobby."

    Koa stood off to the side, looking at his prospective competition. Although he wasn't directly competing against them, any one of them might be the next gym leader or perhaps even champion, further along the line. One boy stood out from the rest. He wore a dark purple cape over a black vest. He had neatly trimmed black hair and dark green eyes. What kind of outfit is that? He thought. Sure, a lot of trainers tended to like weird outfits, but a cape? That seemed pretty extra.

    He let his attention drift as he mentally prepared himself for what lay ahead. The exam consisted of three parts. A test of physical prowess, tests of knowledge about the Pokémon world, and finally, a simulated battle. The physical test and knowledge test he knew well, but he was slightly less certain about the battle test. You never knew what Pokémon you would get, or what opponent you would face. On the bright side, they weren't required to win, merely demonstrate their skills.

    A door beside the registration desk slid open and a man with graying brown hair and a clipboard stepped out. "My name is Fyren, and I'll be your head instructor today. The Trainer's License Exam will begin now. Please follow me."

    Koa hurried after him, the rest of the potential trainers following suit. They were led first into a large gym area with a running course, a rock wall, and hurdles. One by one, each trainer ran a lap around the course, jumped the hurdles, and climbed the rock wall as fast as they could. After each trainer completed the course, the man wrote something on his clipboard and motioned for the next trainer. Soon, it was Koa's turn. He sprinted through the course with ease, scaling the wall in well under two minutes. The caped boy went after him and practically seemed to glide up the rock wall. A twinge of jealousy flowed through him. A few of the other trainers struggled, either knocking down hurdles or falling off the wall.

    After everyone had completed the physical, they followed Fyren to a large classroom. Everyone took a seat and he handed out test papers. The test consisted of a mix of questions, ranging from Pokémon types, to species names, and item knowledge. Koa flew through the quiz, though he couldn't help but note that a few other trainers handed theirs in first. The caped trainer from earlier handed in his test a few minutes before he did.

    Finally, the battle test came. They were led into a huge room with three battlefields outlined in the dirt. "Three of you will be tested at once. You will each receive a random Pokémon, as will the instructors. You will battle against the instructor until one of your Pokémon faints. Remember, this is a test of battle competency. Victory is not required."

    Fyren divided everyone into three lines. Koa ended up second in a group of four, while the caped boy ended up in a different group. He soon forgot about him, however, as the battles began. The girl in front of him, who had teal curls and yellow blouse and skirt, received a Vaporeon, and the instructor an Ekans. The girl won without too much difficulty, although Koa noted that the instructor was fairly skilled. He had a knack for understanding the Ekans movements and working with it.

    Finally, his turn arrived. As the instructor called his name, he stepped onto the battlefield. There was a faint flicker as the invisible barrier around the field was turned on. An attendant selected a Pokéball from a case and handed it to him, then handed one to the instructor.

    The instructor sent out his Pokémon first. A dark greenish-blue eel Pokémon with a light underbelly and two flowing arms hovered, ready to attack. It took a moment before he recognized it as an Eelektross.

    He tossed out his own Pokéball, revealing a Hippopotas. "Aw yeah, I got this! We're gonna own this, Hippopotas!" Hippopotas gave an enthusiastic grunt. The attendant gave him a card with Hippopotas' moveset. Earthquake, Sand Attack, Crunch, Sand tomb. Perfect. Eelektross was an electric type, that much he remembered. This should be a cinch.

    "Battle, begin!" The announcer called.

    "Hippopotas, use Sand Attack!" Hippopotas jumped forwards and shot a stream of sand from its mouth. It struck Eelektross full on, causing it to stumble back and hiss.

    "Crush Claw," the instructor called.

    "Wait til it's close and use Sand Attack again!"

    Eelektross's claws glowed bright blue and it sprang into the air, arcing straight down. A moment later, Hippopotas launched Sand Attack. Eelektross reeled back, Crush Claw missing entirely. It backed away a short distance and growled.

    "Let's finish this! Earthquake!" Hippopotas eyes glowed blue, and waves of energy rippled through the earth, straight towards Eelektross. The instructor said nothing and gave no commands. The waves reached Eelektross and passed right under, fading away. Eelektross didn't even flinch.

    "What!?" Koa shouted. Hippopotas gave a matching cry of shock.

    "Now Eelektross, Grass Knot!" Eelektross's eyes glowed green, and tendrils of grass sprouted from the earth, yanking Hippopotas feet from underneath him and knocking him onto his side.

    "No, get up!" Koa cried. Hippopotas squirmed and struggled.

    "Aqua Tail!"

    "Dodge!" Koa shouted in panic.

    Eelektross sprang high into the air, a vortex of water swirling around its tail. Then it brought its tail down on top of Hippopotas. A burst of energy kicked up a cloud of dust. It settled moments later, showing Hippopotas fainted. Eelektross raised its claws in the air and growled happily.

    Koa's shoulders drooped and he hung his head. He returned Hippopotas to his Pokéball, thanked him, then returned the ball to the attendant. The instructor walked over to him. "Never assume, young man. Eelektross has a special ability known as Levitate, which causes ground attacks like Earthquake to miss. And although type advantages can win a battle, don't forget that a skilled trainer must also account for his partner's weaknesses."

    Koa nodded. "Thanks," he mumbled. He turned away and joined the rest of the trainers who completed their battle. To his disappointment, he'd missed the caped boy's battle. He couldn't find the heart to get interested in the other battles. What if they failed him on his exam? He'd have to wait another month to try again. Just the thought made him anxious.

    After all the battles had been completed, the instructor led them to a large assembly hall with a seating area and a stage. Koa sat with the other trainers in the reserved seating row, his hands clenched into tight fists. This would be it. They would call up the trainers who had passed, and present them with their license. Fyren stepped onto the stage, holding his clipboard. "I will now announce the trainers who will receive their license."

    "Edgar Fennel." A stocky blond boy bounded onto the stage. Fyren handed him a card, then posed for a picture before leaving the stage.

    One by one, more trainers were called out.




    "Cade." The caped boy strode confidently on stage and received his license. A moment later, he left the stage and hurried out of the hall. With each name that wasn't his, Koa became more worried, jittering his leg and tapping his fingers.

    "Koamaru Averon."

    Koa literally leaped out of his chair, barely holding back his exclamation. He ran onto stage, grinning widely as Fyren handed him his license, along with a simple Pokéball belt. Finally. He could be a proper trainer. As soon as he was able, he raced out of the building. As soon as he stepped outside, he jumped in the air and shouted. He spotted Blake a few feet away, smiling proudly.

    "Good job little K. Keep this up and maybe I'll have to start calling you big K," Blake said, chuckling. Koa rolled his eyes.

    "I have a gift for you, by the way." Blake reached into his jacket and pulled out a small box.

    Koa's eyes widened when he saw the picture on the front. "A Poketch?" he stammered. "Thank you!" he hugged his cousin, then stepped back to examine his new prize. He tore it out of the box and put it on. It booted up flawlessly. He'd wanted a Poketch for months now, and planned to buy one after he started his journey. Now he could save his money for something else.

    "So what now? Are you going to head straight for Professor Rowan's lab? I know he mentioned having you stop by once you got your license."

    Blake's eyes looked far away, and despite his upbeat tone, Koa knew better. He shook his head. "I'll take the bus back to Canalave with you. I have a few supplies to pick up, and I'd love to visit the library one last time." Technically, it was true. He did want to see the library before he left, and he could always stock up before he left. Of course, he didn't bother mentioning that he had everything he needed to set out on his journey now. He knew Blake would miss him, and even though he wouldn't admit it to him, Koa knew he would miss Blake.

    The sky had begun to darken by the time they reached Canalave. Koa visited the library before it closed that evening, then purchased a few extra potions and pokeballs from the Pokemart. He bid farewell to his coworkers at the shop, then returned home for the evening. As he lay in bed that night, he silently marveled at the fact that his Pokémon journey would begin tomorrow, for real. He would travel to Sandgem, and soon, catch his first Pokémon. Thoughts of his perfect team floated through his mind as he finally drifted off to sleep.

    The next morning, Koa awoke bright and early. He checked his bag again, making sure it had all his supplies - plenty of pokeballs from the shop, as well as a few potions and his usual supplies of clothes, a sleeping bag, and a small pocket knife. Once his backpack was ready, he logged onto his computer for what might be his last time. With a few clicks, he logged into his favorite website, a forum for legendary sightings. Skimming the list, he scrolled until he found the listing for Sinnoh Pokémon. He didn't expect to see anything - Sinnoh didn't feature many roaming legendaries like Kanto or Johto did, but it was always worth a check. To his surprise, there was one new addition to the forum.

    Potential Regirock sighting at Ore Caverns?!

    Koa eagerly clicked it. He skimmed the information. A trainer had posted a blurred photo of what appeared to be a Regirock. The silhouette definitely looked like a Regi, although the trainer also admitted she only caught a glimpse and was uncertain if it really had been the legendary titan.

    Koa sat back for a moment, contemplating. The Ore Caverns lay within a small mountain range directly south of Canalave. If he left now, he could be there by the afternoon. Of course, it would mean getting to Sandgem much later. Although he could always trek straight through the wilderness and get to Sandgem. He grinned and nodded to himself. It was decided. He would take a quick detour to the caverns, then head Southeast and cut through the wilderness to Sandgem.

    Grabbing his backpack, Koa sprinted downstairs, taking the steps two at a time. Blake was waiting downstairs for him, his hands behind his back. "I was wondering when you were going to come down. I have something for you. Two somethings, actually." Taking his hands from behind his back, he held up a brand new leather jacket. It was red and dark navy blue, with white highlights. The elbows were reinforced and it sported multiple pockets.

    "Sick!" Koa quickly took it, eagerly discarding his worn jacket and putting on the new one. It fit perfectly, snug, but still flexible. The inside material was pleasantly soft yet breathable, and the outside felt surprisingly tough. It would serve him well on his travels.

    Blake then pulled an object out of his pocket. It was a Pokéball, but unlike a regular Pokéball, this one was black with red and gold striping.

    "Wow, a Luxury ball!" He took it almost reverently. While not as expensive as an Ultra ball, they weren't exactly cheap either. He slipped it into his pocket. "Thanks, Blake." He gave his cousin a quick hug. His cousin gripped him tightly, and for a moment, Koa couldn't escape the embrace. After a long second, Blake released him.

    "You better be careful out there, Little K."

    Koa nodded. "I will."

    Blake ruffled his hair, but Koa didn't pull away. This was the last time his cousin would ruffle his hair for a long time. "And check in once you get to Sandgem."

    Koa nodded again. He didn't bother to mention his little detour. If his cousin found he went exploring in a cave without any Pokémon, he would probably be furious.

    "Sorry, no one is allowed past this point without a Trainers License and at least two badges." Two guards blocked the cave entrance, barring the path forwards.

    "What?" Koa cried out. This was his first time hiking all the way to Ore caverns, but he'd assumed he could just go right in. Although granted, he'd never been far from Canalave. The farthest he'd ever gone was Twinleaf town, to visit his cousin's friend. And even then, he always traveled on official routes.

    "Why not?" he demanded.

    The guard looked down at him and frowned. "This is not a cave that is on an official route. It's not safe for inexperienced trainers, plus there have been sightings of a dangerous Golbat colony."

    "You should know better than to goof off in an unexplored cave," the second guard added, giving Koa a look of disdain.

    Koa gave him a dirty look and grit his teeth. Yes, he knew that, but he assumed the frontier lands around Canalave were safer. Still, how bad could the cave be? He eyed the two guards. They wore matching frowns. Not the type who would give in to convincing... "Alright. Guess I'll have to come back later." He put on his sincerest disappointed face and walked away. As soon as he walked around a bend, and was hidden from sight, he began scanning the landscape. Most cave systems had multiple entrances. There was no way he was passing up the chance to go inside now that he was here. Plus, the Zubat line was not that dangerous. As long as he kept quiet, he should be fine.

    Another several minutes of searching led him to a small opening partway up the slope, half-covered by brush.

    "Nice!" Koa got on his hands and knees, crawling through the small opening. It appeared to be a long tunnel, perhaps made by a Pokémon of some kind. For a long time, the tunnel remained fairly narrow, and Koa wondered if perhaps it led nowhere. After a good several minutes, however, the tunnel slowly widened, until he was able to stand up straight. The tunnel continued forwards for another few feet, before dropping off a few feet into a chamber. He hopped down, landing with a small thump. Koa dusted himself off and took a look around. Pulling out his flashlight, he shined it all around.

    The cavern he stood in was medium-sized, perhaps as big as an average house. One large tunnel on the opposite side stretched away into the darkness. Koa decided to head for that one first. Keeping his flashlight trained ahead, he started towards the tunnel. He hardly took a step before a bluish shape darted in front of his flashlight beam. He gave a sharp yelp of surprise as a strange weight landed on his head. Dropping his flashlight, he batted the object off his head. It landed on the ground with a shriek of surprise. Koa grabbed his flashlight and aimed it at the shape. The beam revealed the small bluish body of a Zubat. He frowned and peered closer. The Zubat's fangs indicated it was male, and the fur on its body was sticky and matted. With honey. Koa groaned. Something told him this wasn't just a random Zubat. It was the same Zubat from the honey tree a few weeks ago.

    Zubat fluttered into the air and shrieked happily, then settled on his head again. Koa growled and shook his head, displacing it. "Oh no you don't. Scram," he hissed.

    Either the Zubat didn't understand, or didn't care, and immediately dived for his head again. He ducked out of the way and made a shooing motion. "No!" He could guess this Zubat was trying to join him, and he had no intention of allowing it. There definitely was not room in the Plan for a Zubat. Unfortunately, the Zubat didn't seem to get the memo. It squeaked again and dived for his head. He dodged it again and tried to keep walking. It kept squeaking happily and fluttered after him.

    Koa stopped and turned around, glaring at the Zubat. "You can't come with me," he said firmly. Zubat chirped and did a little loop. Growling, he smacked his head with his hand. Clearly, the Zubat had no intention of leaving. If it kept following him, it could alert every wild Pokémon in the area to him. And more importantly, it could scare off any legendaries.

    With a long sigh, Koa withdrew a Pokéball from his pocket and tossed it at the Zubat. It arced through the air, striking the Zubat on the head and encapsulating it in red light. The ball landed on the ground, rolled once, then dinged. Koa immediately cursed. He'd accidentally grabbed the luxury ball his brother gave him, instead of a regular Pokéball. With a sigh, he picked up the ball and attached it to his belt. Later he could have it transferred to a regular ball, he supposed. Then he could release it. There was absolutely no way in Arceus' name he was keeping a Zubat. No. Way.

    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    #1 Jun 8, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
    BZRich64 likes this.
  2. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    art credit goes to 'convesence' on instagram, aka 'hawkosa' on deviantart. Check him out!

    I figured I'd go ahead and post the first 2 chapters. Enjoy! If all goes well I'll probably try to post weekly.

    Here is chapter 2! Enjoy!

    Koa continued through the cavern, trying to keep his mind off the Zubat he'd just caught. As soon as he got out of here, he was releasing it. He approached a tunnel ahead, examining it curiously. The walls were smooth and somewhat uniform. Probably made by an Onix. "Alright Regirock, where are you..." He pulled out his camera and started walking.

    His ultimate dream was to actually capture a legendary. It was a dream he'd never shared with anyone, not even Blake. Though for now, he would settle for a picture of Regirock. He didn't expect to actually be able to capture a deity like Palkia or Dialga, but perhaps one of a trio of legendary birds or dogs. Research suggested there could be more than one of the species. That would be something. Or perhaps he could even catch a mythical Pokémon, like Shaymin. He turned his attention back to his surroundings.

    The cave wound in a series of tunnels and caverns and ledges and slopes. He took care to mark which routes he'd gone down, so he wouldn't get lost. For almost an hour, he explored with no trouble. As he walked, he kept his flashlight trained on the area in front of him. He saw a few wild Pokémon, although only from a distance. He'd just emerged into another cavern when a cry of challenge broke the silence.

    Koa looked across the cavern to see a small Machop glaring at him. It gave another roar, smashing its fists together in a challenge. Despite its demeanor, it didn't look particularly tough. He groaned and slowly withdrew Zubat's Pokéball.

    "Go Zubat," he muttered.

    Zubat emerged from the Pokéball with a delighted shriek. He immediately faced down the Machop. The Machop seemed surprised at the appearance of an aerial foe.

    "Wing Attack?" Koa called. He had no idea what the Zubat's moves were, nor did he care. He just wanted to keep exploring.

    Zubat shrieked and dived at Machop, his wings glowing. Before Machop could react, Zubat struck it with two solid blows. Baring his fangs, Zubat sunk them into Machop, delivering a solid Bite attack. Machop cried out and shook itself free. It glared at Zubat, still defiant, although Koa could tell the Wing Attack had greatly weakened it. It leaped into the air, its leg glowing white. Zubat twisted sideways, barely dodging the attack. He delivered another Wing Attack, sending Machop smashing to the ground. Machop didn't get up again.

    Koa returned Zubat with a sigh. Despite Zubat's triumph, he couldn't find it in himself to be impressed, not when the Machop was clearly the weaker opponent. He was beginning to regret not going straight to Rowan's lab. Maybe if he had, he could have found a Shinx.

    Scanning the cavern he'd ended up in, he realized it was a dead end. He left the dead-end cavern and took another tunnel. This one ended up opening into a much, much larger cavern. Large stalactites and stalagmites emerged from the ceiling and floor, and small pools of water were scattered about.

    A heavy rumbling noise drew his attention to a ledge on the far side of the room. He shined his flashlight towards it just in time to see a large shadow move away. Could that have been Regirock?

    Sprinting in the direction he'd last seen it, he dodged stalagmites and began scaling the wall up to the ledge. A few moments later, he'd dragged himself onto the ledge. He started forwards, but his foot hit air where he expected solid ground. With a cry of shock, he tumbled forwards, rolling down a steep slope. The rough ground tore at his jacket and scraped his limbs. A few moments later, he smacked into something hard, coming to a stop. He let out a groan of pain, and lay still for a few moments, then slowly sat up.

    "Ughh..." His entire body ached all over, but it didn't feel like anything had broken. He turned to see what he hit. His tumble had taken him just inside a small cavern. A round green boulder had stopped his fall. Green boulder? The cave's walls were a brown color. Which meant...

    "Shoot!" He leaped to his feet just as the boulder seemingly came to life, two arms and two legs popping out, followed by a small brownish head. The Golem roared at him in annoyance.

    A light emerged from his belt and coalesced into the form of Zubat. He shrieked at the Golem, who roared in return. The roar shook the tiny cavern, small rocks falling from the ceiling and rattling the ground.

    "Zubat, get back!" he yelped.

    Golem tucked into a ball and rolled at Zubat, his body moving so fast it became a blur. It smashed into him hard, sending him flying into a wall. Zubat squeaked in pain and lay still. "Zubat!" Koa yelled. He darted towards his fallen Pokémon. A golden orb of energy appeared in Golem's mouth and it fired it towards Zubat. At the last moment, Koa grabbed him and rolled out of the way as the orb exploded behind them. He cradled Zubat close as he stared down Golem. He needed to get out of here, fast. A few yards away, to his left, was another entrance. If he could distract Golem, he could escape through there.

    Golem roared angrily, causing the room to shake. Koa grabbed a rock from the ground and hurled it past Golem. For a brief second, it glanced away, towards where the rock landed. Koa bolted, sprinting by Golem and through the tunnel. He kept running, trying his best to remember the paths he took. For almost ten minutes straight, he kept running, until he was sure Golem wasn't following.

    Finally, he stopped in another cavern, breathing heavily. Kneeling down, he set Zubat on the ground carefully and pulled a slightly squashed Oran berry out of his bag. Drop by drop, he carefully squeezed the juice into Zubat's mouth.

    A few moments later, the Zubat began to flutter its wings. Koa smiled in relief, then gave him another Oran berry. Within a few minutes, he was looking completely restored. Koa opened an HP checker app on his Poketch and scanned Zubat. A few seconds later, the results popped up. Full HP.

    "Phew," he murmured. He still didn't want to keep the Zubat, but he didn't want to see it hurt, either. Until he released it, it was technically his Pokémon. Regardless, the encounter only made him more desperate to capture a real Pokémon.

    "No more challenging ridiculously strong Pokémon," Koa snapped. He pulled out Zubat's Pokéball and returned him, shaking his head.

    Koa stood up and dusted himself off as best he could. "Well, might as well look around." The cavern was large, even bigger than the first one he encountered. Tragically there was no sign of Regirock, although he'd come to suspect what he'd seen earlier had simply been another Pokémon. He wandered slowly through the room, carefully checking the ground for tracks or signs of Regirock. He'd made his way almost halfway around the cavern when something caught his eye. Poking from behind a stalagmite, he spotted something white. He crept over to it and peered around the stalagmite. A crumbled set of human bones lay scattered on the ground, gnawed clean.

    Koa took a step back and shuddered, looking away. Likely an errant researcher or hiker who had wandered too far. What does that make you? He thought. A chill traveled down his spine and he forced his gaze away from the skeleton. There was no evidence of a Pokémon skeleton, so he could have simply come in alone and been overwhelmed. Besides, they looked pretty old. Something else quickly drew his attention away from thoughts of being killed by wild Pokémon.

    An unusual stone object lay several feet away, a much lighter and grayer color than the cave rock. It resembled a piece of a large jaw bone, almost twice as big as his head. "It's a Jaw Fossil!" He picked it up and stroked it.

    It felt heavy, although still lighter than he expected based on its size. He'd found plenty of fossil's before, while out with his cousin or when he snuck into caves on his own. But he'd never found any complete enough for regeneration.

    "I thought these were found in Kalos, not Sinnoh," He murmured to himself. If he could get to the museum in Oreburgh City, he could revive the fossil into a Tyrunt. "Sweet!" He shouted. His voice echoed through the cavern, bouncing back to him.

    As the noise faded, he heard scratching and fluttering above him. A vague sense of dread filled him. Slowly, hesitantly, he aimed his flashlight towards the ceiling. An entire colony of Zubat and Golbat hung from the ceiling. A nest. Their wide-open eyes gleamed in his flashlight beam as they glared down at him. He took a step back and stumbled, his beam sweeping wildly across the ceiling. A loud screeching filled the room and the sound of hundreds of wingbeats echoed as they left their perches, swarming the cavern.

    Their deafening cries filled the room, and they began to dive at him. One whizzed by him and scratched his jacket, tearing straight through the leather and cutting his skin. Another made a dive for him. Koa ducked and it whizzed by just inches above him. He shuddered. This must be the Golbat colony the guards had referred to. The Golbat coalesced into a swarm, shrieking their displeasure. One dove at him again. Koa threw his hands up, narrowly avoiding being bitten in the face, though he paid for it when Golbat bit his shoulder. Flinching in pain, he batted it off. A horrifying thought occurred to him. The Golbat didn't seem to be interested in just driving him off. They wanted him gone, whatever it took. This wasn't just about escaping. It was about survival. Koa backed away, his heart pounding.

    Suddenly his Zubat emerged from his Pokéball again. He faced the swarm, shrieking and chittering angrily. One Golbat, larger than the rest, flew forwards, shrieking angrily in return. The two seemed to engage in some kind of brief conversation.

    Without warning, the Golbat dived at Zubat, its jaws wide open. It snatched Zubat out of the sky, tossing him to the ground. Zubat squeaked weakly and fluttered back into the air. The horde of Golbat began to draw in around them. Zubat opened its tiny jaws and let out an ear-splitting screech. The horde backed off slightly.

    Zubat turned to him, squeaking urgently, then took off towards a tunnel Koa hadn't noticed before. Koa bolted after his Zubat. He weaved through the tunnels, gasping for breath. Behind him, he could still hear the wingbeats of the colony. They weren't giving up as easy as the Golem had. Taking out Zubat's Pokéball, he returned him. No sense letting his foolish Zubat get injured more.

    After a few minutes, he spotted a tunnel that was lighter than the others. An exit, perhaps? He raced down the tunnel. As he turned a corner, the light almost blinded him. He kept going, emerging from the cave and onto a steep forested slope. Half-sliding, half running, he hurtled down the hill. At the base, he crossed a thin dirt path and collapsed at the edge of the woods on the other side. His breaths came in ragged heaves, and his vision swam. He could feel his heart hammering rapidly in his chest, and he felt sick. Wearily, he peered across the road. The Golbat colony was gone.

    He released Zubat from his Pokéball. Koa could feel his tiny rapid heartbeat and his wearied breaths. Zubat didn't seem too badly injured although the most concerning was a set of deep puncture wounds caused by the Golbat's fangs. He needed a Pokémon center. Although his own Zubat would likely be immune to the dangerous diseases wild Golbat could carry he wanted to get the bite looked at.

    "Foolish Zubat," he murmured. "Still, I owe you a thanks, I guess. You saved my life, I think." Raising his head, he looked around.

    To the south, just past the trees, he could see the shining expanse of Lake Verity. A sigh of relief escaped him. If that was Lake Verity, then that meant there was a Ranger outpost not far. He glanced at the sky. It was evening. He needed to get to the outpost quickly. If he got caught when it was dark out, with Zubat in this shape, it wouldn't be good at all. He stuffed the fossil into his backpack and cradled Zubat in his arms. After taking a moment to orient himself, he set off at a steady jog, trying to ignore his own pain.

    The sun had started to set by the time he reached the outpost. Like all outposts, it consisted of a sturdy wall to keep out Pokémon, and guards stationed at the rim to discourage flying Pokémon. Inside was a small base for the guards, a couple of houses, and most importantly, a Pokémon center. He raced through the outpost and burst into the Pokémon Center.

    "Nurse!" He shouted. "My Pokémon needs help!" The nurse, an older woman with short-cropped gray hair, hurried towards him. Her Chansey trotted beside her, pushing a gurney, and she carefully took Zubat from him, setting him on Chansey's cart. "What happened to it?"

    "We were attacked by a colony of Zubat and Golbat. And they bit him too."

    The nurse nodded. "Wait here." She pushed his Zubat through a set of double doors. Koa started to follow, but the doors locked behind the nurse. With a sigh, he picked a chair near the doors and sat down. The longer he waited, the more worried he grew. He pushed the worry down, deep into his mind. He wasn't even sure why he cared so much. After all, he still planned to release Zubat soon. Next time he'd be more prepared, that was all.

    The Golbat flock had been nothing more than an unexpected occurrence, and once he had a proper starter Pokémon, wild Pokémon wouldn't be a problem. Plus, he still had the Plan. With a full team of strong and diverse Pokémon, he could go anywhere. His guilt dismissed, he reflected on his next steps. The first stop was circumventing Lake Verity. From there he could travel to Route 201, which would lead him to Sandgem, which was only a half day's walk away. After he stopped in to see Professor Rowan, then he would make his way to Oreburgh and revive his fossil. Then he could train more and get back to his Plan.

    Sometime later, the nurse came out. Chansey followed close behind, pushing a cart with Zubat on it, who seemed much perkier. "Your Zubat will be fine. Let him rest tonight, and try to avoid hard battles for a day or so."

    Zubat chirped happily and fluttered onto his head.

    "Thank you nurse..." He glanced at her nametag. "Nerene."

    She gave a nod in response. "It looks like you were injured too. Didn't you see the guard stationed outside the entrance?" her tone was annoyed, and Koa couldn't help but be reminded of Blake when he got mad at him for doing something dangerous.

    Koa said nothing.

    "Get over here. No sense in healing your Pokémon and letting you catch all manners of diseases." Nerene led him to a side room and helped bandage his deeper wounds, and had Chansey use her abilities to heal the less serious ones. She was none too gentle, and Koa started to wish he'd simply suffered through the pain. "Alright, there," Nerene grumbled. "Now stay out of dangerous caves."

    Koa mumbled a thanks and headed out of the Pokémon Center. It was too late to be out on the road, so he got a room at an inn and stayed the night.

    The next morning, he awoke early. He had a lot of ground to cover to reach Route 201. Since he wouldn't be traveling by official routes for the first part of the journey, it would be harder. Fortunately, if he stuck to the lakefront, it wouldn't be too strenuous.

    After traveling for a few hours along the lakefront, he reached the beginning of Route 201. He let out a sigh of relief. From here it would be easy. A long, packed dirt path wound through sparse woods ahead. He glanced at his Poketch. Almost noon. Which meant he could be in Sandgem by this evening.

    For the next couple of hours, he followed the path, enjoying the scenery. He saw quite a few wild Pokémon, but none that really interested him. He did plan to catch a Starly, but for now, he really only wanted a Shinx and his fossil.

    A loud screech erupted from the forest. A moment later, a Galvantula emerged from the woods, scuttling across the road. It turned around, firing an Electroweb towards the trees. The attack was swiftly countered by a white bone sailing through the air. It struck the Electroweb, breaking it apart.

    "Get back here you lousy bug!" A man emerged from the woods, in hot pursuit of the Galvantula. A Marowak followed close behind him.

    Koa took in the situation quickly. The Galvantula had stopped at the side of the road, eyeing the Marowak warily. It appeared battered, and its breathing was heavy. A rubber shackle dangled from one of its forelegs. Its pursuer wore dark camo clothing and specialized rubber gloves. A large net was strapped to his back, as well as several ropes. Disgust welled up in Koa. The man was obviously a poacher. He froze when he saw Koa. Their eyes met, and for a moment, Koa saw panic flare in the poacher's gaze. Then it turned to disdain.

    "Scram kid, this doesn't concern you."

    The Galvantula backed away a few steps.

    The poacher growled. "Trap that thing!" Marowak gave a nod, then dove into the ground. A moment later, the Galvantula gave a cry of surprise as the ground underneath it collapsed, half burying it.

    "Leave it alone!" Koa shouted.

    The poacher turned to Koa, scowling. "Marowak-"

    Koa whipped out Zubat's Pokéball, almost on instinct. "Zubat, attack!" he called, tossing his Pokéball. Zubat was weak, and even though he had the flying advantage, he wouldn't stand a chance against the Marowak in a proper battle. But he didn't have much choice either.

    Zubat appeared in a flash of light. He hardly finished emerging from the ball before letting out a blast of soundwaves. Supersonic. Marowak dropped its bone, covering its ears.

    "Quick, use Supersonic again!"

    Zubat opened its jaws and unleashed another series of powerful soundwaves. They struck the stunned Marowak full on. It staggered in circles, dazed and confused.

    The Galvantula took the opportunity to scramble free from the hole and disappear into the woods.

    "Curse you, brat!" The poacher pulled out a Pokéball and quickly returned Marowak. He pulled out a small object from his pocket and hurled it towards the ground. There was a loud bang and cloud of thick, dense smoke enveloped the area.

    Koa unexpectedly sucked in a mouthful and started coughing. His eyes began to water and his throat burned. Zubat squeaked and coughed as well, and he quickly returned him to his Pokéball. It took almost a full minute for the smoke to clear. When it did, the poacher was gone, unsurprisingly. Still, at least the poor Galvantula managed to escape. Judging by its appearance, it seemed the Galvantula must have escaped from the poacher. They definitely weren't native to this area of Sinnoh. As soon as he got to Sandgem, he vowed to report the poacher.

    Shaking his head in disgust, he continued down the route. In the distance, he could catch the first glimpse of the buildings of Sandgem town, which meant he only had another hour of traveling to go. Hardly a minute passed before he felt a strange tingle down his spine. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. He spun around, coming face to face with a Galvantula. The very same one he'd saved only minutes earlier.

    As he watched, it slowly approached him. Then, from the fur on its back, a tiny Joltik leaped off, landing in front of him. Koa gasped. Galvantula was probably Joltik's mother. The Joltik scurried forwards, its tiny blue eyes gleaming with determination. It chittered defiantly and took another step forwards.

    "Oh boy..." Koa muttered. He recognized the look in its eyes. It wanted to come with him. He fought the urge to groan. The Plan was to get a Luxray, not a Joltik. As he stared into the Joltik's eyes, his heart began to soften. Despite its size, it displayed an unusual ferocity. Well, Joltik was still an electric type. And a Galvantula would be a strong addition to a team... "Are you saying you want to come with me?"

    The Joltik nodded, its eyes gleaming.

    "My dream is to become the greatest explorer ever." Koa turned and gestured to the far off hills of Mt. Coronet. "I'm going to climb that mountain one day, and find the peak. And along the way, I want to raise a team of powerful Pokémon. Do you want to come?"

    The Joltik bounced up down, tiny sparks leaping off its fur. Koa chucked at the display. "Alright then, I guess that settles it." He withdrew a Pokéball from his bag and held it out to Joltik. It sprang forwards, tapping the button in the center. The usual red light emerged, drawing Joltik in. A moment later, the ball dinged.

    Koa couldn't help but grin. He'd caught his first Pokémon! The Galvantula, who until now, had waited quietly, gave him a nod of respect. Then it turned and vanished back into the forest. He watched it go, then set his sights on the route ahead. The last leg of his journey flew by. He kept Joltik in his Pokéball for now, though as he walked, he contemplated potential nicknames for it. Once he reached the gates of Sandgem, he paused to release Joltik.

    Joltik churred happily and scurried up his leg and onto his shoulder. Koa patted it gently. "So what do you say, buddy? Want a nickname?"

    Joltik gave a little hop in acknowledgment.

    "Let's see..." Koa mused. "How about Jolt?"

    Joltik immediately delivered a small shock to him.

    "Guess that's a no," Koa gasped. After a long (and somewhat painful process), he settled on a name he thought the Joltik would like. "How about Hazard?"

    The Joltik made a chittering noise and hopped off his shoulder, letting tiny sparks fly. Judging by its eyes, it seemed quite happy with the choice.

    "Hazard it is then."

    Koa returned it for the short walk through Sandgem to Rowan's lab. His mind was focused on only two things - reporting the poacher, and finding whatever Rowan had in store for him.

    Sandgem reminded him of Canalave. It was one of the few coastal cities in Sinnoh, though quite a bit smaller than Canalave. Most of it consisted of long roads with a few scattered houses, spread far apart. The breeze carried the familiar tang of salt and sand, and the noon sun warmed his back. The open fields and wide space made it an excellent choice for Professor Rowan's lab, and gave the researcher plenty of space to keep a wide variety of Pokémon.

    As Koa approached the lab, however, he saw a large crowd gathered around it. Several police officers were also roaming the grounds. Koa frowned. This was definitely not normal. He hurriedly pushed his way through the throngs of onlookers, ignoring their dirty looks. Near the entrance to the lab, he spotted Professor Rowan, talking to an officer.

    "Professor Rowan!" he called.

    The Professor turned towards him, then waved him over. He said something to the officer, who nodded, shook his hand, then left. Koa raced up the path to the lab.

    "Professor, what happened?" he searched the Professor's face anxiously, trying to find any clue of what transpired. He looked even more cross than usual, and his gaze was dark.

    "A robbery, I'm afraid. Come inside, I have to explain some things to you."

    Koa's clenched his fists and followed him inside. Rage bubbled in him as Rowan led him to the main room, which was empty, and sat down. How dare someone rob a Pokémon Professor? Poaching was bad enough, but to rob a Professor?

    "I have some bad news."

    Koa turned to face Rowan, trying to prepare himself for the worst, although he had no idea what the 'worst' actually was.

    "The people who broke in escaped with a great deal of valuable research and equipment. They also took a Pokémon from the nursery." Rowan let out a long sigh before continuing. "I'm afraid that Pokémon was meant for you. Your cousin and I were going to give it to you as a gift for becoming a trainer."

    A mix of emotions swirled through Koa's mind. "When did they break in?" he asked stiffly.

    "This morning."

    Rage burned inside him. He felt like punching a wall. As it was, he settled for clenching his jaw. Deep down, he blamed himself. If he'd just come straight to the lab instead of going to that cave first... He pushed the thought away. The deed was long done. Besides, he might never have found the Jaw fossil if he hadn't gone exploring.

    Rowan continued. "I am sorry, Koamaru. I can offer you one of the Pokémon I keep for young trainers starting their journey."

    Koa shook his head numbly. Even though he would love a chance at one of the starters, they weren't part of his plan. Besides, he knew Rowan had a class graduating soon, and he didn't want to deprive him of the rare 'starter' Pokémon.

    "Well, there is little to be done now, except hope they find the crooks. I do have something else for you, however." Rowan stood up and strode to his office. Koa trailed behind, trying to bury his disappointment.

    He watched as the Professor moved a picture of a Staraptor from the wall, revealing a hidden safe. Typing in a code, the safe clicked open. He retrieved a small object from within. Closing the safe, he turned around to face Koa. "Here you are, my boy. Your very own Pokédex."

    Koa's eyes lit up, and he reverently took the device. It was a slim, rectangular device painted bright red and black. He flipped it open, revealing dual screens. "Wow..." he breathed. Pokedexes were generally reserved for those in a Professor's personal class or could be bought. However, they were somewhat expensive.

    "Thank you!" Koa closed the device and carefully slipped it into the inner pocket on his jacket. Pokedexes were absolutely invaluable devices, right up there with PokeNavs and Poketchs. They were not only capable of looking up information on Pokémon but could also be used to research moves, abilities, and just about anything else a trainer could want to know about a Pokémon.

    "I've also taken the liberty of registering your capture system personally," Professor Rowan continued. "So if you do choose to capture more than six Pokémon, they will be sent to my preserve."

    "Thank you," Koa said. At least there was one piece of good news. Even though he currently had no intention of trying to catch additional Pokémon, it was comforting to know that if he changed his mind he would have someone he could trust to look after them.

    Rowan cleared his throat. "Well, I expect you'll want to get back to your journey. Where are you headed next?"

    Koa eagerly explained how he'd found the Jaw fossil, and planned to have it revived as soon as possible.

    Rowan nodded sagely, his eyes twinkling as if remembering something fondly. "I was just like you in my younger days, you know. Full of energy. Well, you'd best be off then. If you're walking, it will take you at least two days to reach Jubilife."

    Koa shook his head. "I think I'll take the bus to Jubilife, then walk to Oreburgh. There isn't anything I really want to catch on Route 202."

    Rowan nodded thoughtfully but didn't say anything else. Koa bid him farewell, then hurried out of the lab. He made a quick stop at the Police Headquarters to report the poacher, then headed north, towards the bus stop.

    "Hey, wait up!"

    Koa frowned and glanced back to see a young girl racing towards him. She stopped a few feet away, panting as she caught her breath. He groaned inwardly. Right now, all he wanted was to get on the road and get to Oreburgh.

    "You just left the lab, right?" she asked.

    Koa nodded. "Yeah... what do you want?" he asked suspiciously. He eyed her carefully. She looked close to his age, but he'd never seen her around the lab either, which meant she wasn't an assistant.

    "I was wondering if you knew anything about the break-in. I'm investigating it, and I think it may be connected to a series of other robberies. Did Professor Rowan tell you anything?"

    Koa shook his head. "No. Is that it? Because I kinda have a bus to catch..."

    The girl frowned and sighed. "I'm an investigator. I'm trying to see if the recent crimes are in any way connected to Team Galactic. Do you know anything else about what happened?"

    Koa shuddered at the mere mention of the name. He'd heard plenty of tales from Blake about how the organization terrorized Sinnoh some years ago. They'd kidnapped the sacred Lake Guardians. Fortunately, they'd apparently been thwarted before they could do real damage.

    "I don't really know much, sorry," Koa said.

    She flicked out a business card, handing it to him. "If you see anything else, call me." Without another word, she turned and jogged back towards the lab. Koa watched her go, then resumed his trek to the bus stop. The disappointment of missing out on the Pokémon Rowan had for him still weighed heavily on his mind. To distract himself, he released Hazard from his Pokéball.

    "Alright buddy, let's see what you can do." He pulled out his Pokédex, scanning the Joltik.

    Joltik, the Attaching Pokémon. They attach themselves to large-bodied Pokémon and absorb static electricity, which they store in an electric pouch. This Joltik is male and knows the moves Absorb, Electroweb, Bug Bite, String Shot. Its ability is Compound Eyes.

    "Cool!" The moveset was fairly good, considering. Absorb and Bug Bite would give him good offense, while String Shot and Electroweb could trip up opponents.

    Holding out his hand, he let Hazard scurry onto his shoulder. Just the sight of his new Pokémon cheered him up. Soon, he would be in Oreburgh. And not long after that, he would have a real, honest to goodness Fossil Pokémon on his team. In the distance, he saw the bus approaching. A grin spread across his face.

    Tyrunt, here I come.

    Sethal and BZRich64 like this.
  3. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    Here is chapter 3! As you can see, I am recording a list of all of Koa's Pokémon at the start and end of every chapter, just to make things easier to remember. In this chapter, Koa will face his first gym challenge... How will he fare?

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Zubat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Supersonic, Absorb, Bite, Wing Attack

    Getting to Oreburgh wasn't hard at all. He left Jubilife through the east gate, taking route 203 towards the Coronet mountains. In the distance, he could just make a smaller series of mountains that extended from the Coronet Mountain range, creating a natural wall on three sides of Oreburgh City. Far in the distance, beyond the small mountains, the shadow of Mt. Coronet loomed, its peak disappearing into the clouds.

    The route was fairly simple, mostly consisting of a long, winding path through spare woods, and near the end, and gentle slope leading to Oreburgh Gate, a passage through the mountains. He was still at least a day's journey away, though he was sure he could reach the passage by tomorrow morning if he kept a good pace. There was a small lake halfway along the route where he planned to rest, then set out early the next morning.

    He hadn't been traveling for long when he caught sight of a small Starly at the edge of the path. Koa quietly took a Pokéball from his belt. The opportunity was too good to pass up.

    "Go, Hazard!"

    Joltik emerged in a flash of blue light. Starly chirped in surprise and then opened its wings, preparing to take off.

    "Use String Shot and immobilize it!"

    A burst of sticky web shot from Hazard's pincers, wrapping around Starly's body and one of its wings. It fluttered its remaining wing in a panic. Hazard jerked it to the ground.

    "Now, Electroweb!"

    A small glowing ball of electricity formed in front of Joltik. As he launched it, it spread into a wide web of crackling electricity, pinning the Starly down. Within a second, the Starly was knocked out. The web faded, leaving only the Starly behind. Koa took out an empty Pokéball, ready to capture it.

    Something made him pause, however. You already have a flying type. Zubat. He stared at the Starly, uncertainty gripping him. He would desperately love a Staraptor, yet... His hesitation cost him. In a moment, the Starly recovered. It blinked a few times, cheeped in alarm, then took off. Koa watched it go and groaned. Well, there would be plenty of opportunities to catch another Starly. He just wanted to catch the right one. That was all. And when he did, he would release Zubat.

    Satisfied, he continued on, allowing Hazard to remain on his shoulder. The little Joltik had taken to absorbing electricity from his Poketch after battles, but Koa made a note to pick up a battery pack next time he was in a city. Though his Poketch had a powerful solar battery, battery packs were more efficient. Plus, they were specially designed for electric types like Joltik and Pichu.

    For the next few hours, he traveled in peaceful solitude. As the sun began to set behind the mountains, he spotted the glimmering surface of a small lake. With a whoop of delight, he ran the short distance to the water's edge. He dropped to his knees, splashing his face with the cool, refreshing water. After enjoying the water for several moments, he sat back. Time to make camp.

    Once he'd set up his tent and sleeping bag, he sighed contentedly, then reached for his Pokéball belt and took out Zubat's ball. He tapped the button, releasing him. Zubat let out a happy screech and did a little loop. Koa rolled his eyes and shook his head.

    "I'm just letting you stretch your wings. I'm going to do some quick training with Hazard, so just stay out of the way, ok?"

    Zubat looked slightly crestfallen, then fluttered away. Koa didn't bother watching, he doubted Zubat would go far. Besides, he had more important things to worry about. He wanted to get some training in with Hazard before he reached Oreburgh. "Alright Hazard, ready?"

    Hazard hopped off his shoulder and took up a battle stance.

    From what he knew of Joltik, they couldn't produce their own electricity. However, with training, they could greatly expand the amount of electricity they could store. With enough training, they could even grow strong enough to not need a charge for several battles. By that point, he would have evolved into a powerful Galvantula, and could create his own electricity.

    He started by having Hazard practice his Electroweb on a nearby tree, then use his String Shot. After a solid hour of building up endurance with his attacks, Koa called it quits. The sun had nearly set completely, and he was fairly worn out from everything that had happened.

    "Good job, Hazard!" Koa patted Hazard appreciatively. The small bug chirped in delight. Koa returned to his camp and fed both his Pokémon. Zubat returned looking rather proud of itself, but he couldn't tell why. Nor was he particularly interested. Returning both Hazard and Zubat to their pokeballs, he turned in for the night. His dreams were filled with legendaries and thoughts of climbing Mt. Coronet, only to be greeted by a giant Zubat instead of a legendary.

    He awoke fairly early, eager to continue on his journey. He opted to leave both Hazard and Zubat out of their pokeballs. The weather was pleasant, and the exercise would be good for them. Or Hazard, at least. He didn't stop to battle much, although he let Hazard take out a few Bidoof and another Starly. He decided to wait until after he got his Tyrunt to catch a Starly. Once, he saw Zubat fly off towards a Kricketot to challenge it, but he didn't pay any attention to the fight. Judging by its behavior when it returned, however, he supposed it must have won.

    Halfway to Oreburgh Gate, Koa took a moment to stare at Mt. Coronet. His heart filled with longing. One day he would explore its depths. No telling what kinds of treasure lay inside, not to mention the legends he'd read about in the Canalave library. How Arceus had formed Sinnoh, and supposedly, at the highest peak of Mt. Coronet, lay the Spear Pillar. The place where Palkia and Dialga, the gods of space and time, had been created. A place no one had seen in years, if it even existed. The only way to the pillar was through the caves, but the caves were like a maze. The deepest depths were filled with countless strong wild Pokémon, who could easily destroy a Pokémon and its trainer. Even the gym leaders didn't venture too far into its depths. Many a trainer had tried to fly to the pillar, only to be met with unpredictable winds and freezing temperatures. It was truly the ultimate test.

    Pictures of legendary Pokémon swarmed through his head. He saw himself climbing the mountain, being lauded as one of the first trainers to reach the Spear Pillar in centuries. Photographs of Sinnoh's deities in hand, he would be on national news. And perhaps he could even impress his parents, who were far away in Unova region, on some trip or other.

    "We'll make it there one day, Hazard," he pointed towards Mt. Coronet. "Maybe we'll even see Dialga and Palkia."

    Hazard chirped. From somewhere behind, Zubat screeched his agreement.

    Finally, Koa dragged his gaze away from the mountain and continued walking. As he drew closer to the mountain range, the ground sloped and Koa could see Oreburgh Gate not far ahead. A wide tunnel cut through the mountain. He knew that just on the other side was Oreburgh City, famous for its mines and museums. He'd gone there with Blake on a few occasions and was familiar with the city and its gym leader, who happened to be the son of Canalave's own gym leader, Byron.

    A man wearing a police uniform stood outside Oreburgh gate, leaning on the cave wall. As Koa approached, he looked up. "Hey! You there!"

    Koa gave him a questioning look.

    "You see any shady characters around?"

    "Shady characters?"

    "Suspicious people. There's been some crimes committed lately In Jubilife and Oreburgh, and we're trying to track down the criminals responsible."

    Koa shrugged and shook his head. "No... sorry." He'd only see a few other people out walking about, and none looked very suspicious. Although he supposed any criminal worth his salt wouldn't be very good if he looked suspicious.

    The officer sighed and waved him on. "Alright, keep going."

    Koa took a step, then the officer held out his hand. "Hang on. Lemme see your Trainer's License."

    Koa handed it over. The officer looked it over before handing it back. "Congratulations man. Good luck out there. Are you gonna try for the gym circuit?"

    "Maybe. But I've got a lot I want to do."

    The guard nodded. "I understand. Don't forget though, a lot of places require badges for entry if you plan to explore."

    "I'll keep that in mind," Koa said. He started towards the exit. "Have a good day," he called back.

    "Same to you!" The guard replied.

    The Oreburgh Gate path was a bit long but turned out to be an uneventful walk. He only saw a couple of Geodude, which he was able to defeat a bit too easy to make it really worthwhile. He considered the guard's advice. Truthfully, he'd always known he would have to take on the gym circuit eventually. After his experience at the Ore caverns, he was considering going for the gym circuit sooner, rather than later. He knew for sure that the highest levels of Mt. Coronet were restricted to all but the most accomplished trainers. Perhaps after he got his Tyrunt, he would try for it. Eventually, the light at the end grew larger and brighter, until he emerged into Oreburgh City.

    Oreburgh city was a sturdy mining town nestled between mountains. To the south lay its mines, where the Gym Leader Roark worked, and farther to the east lay the bulk of the Coronet Mountain Range, stretching almost far north as Snowpoint City. The north area was mostly housing, and perhaps the most important building - the Oreburgh Mining Museum. He hurried through the town as fast as he could run, not bothering to take in the sights.

    A massive steel and glass building took up the northeast portion of the city - The Oreburgh Mining Museum. He burst through the door and skidded to stop. Roark himself stood just inside, talking with a woman in a lab coat. After a few more seconds, the woman nodded and walked away. Roark turned and noticed him.

    "Roark!" Koa blurted. He hurried over to the gym leader.

    "Hmm. Koamaru, isn't it? I remember your cousin, Blake. You live in my father's city, right?" Roark asked.

    Koa nodded.

    "What brings you out here? On another trip with Blake?"

    "Nope!" Koa said proudly. "I got my trainer's license. And I found a Jaw fossil!"

    Roark raised his eyebrows. "Incredible! A Jaw Fossil? Tyrunt are native to Kalos, so it's very unusual to see one here in Sinnoh. May I see it?"

    Koa handed the fossil over. Roark turned it over slowly in his hands, nodding. "An excellent specimen indeed. More than good enough for revival."

    "Sick! Can you do it now?"

    Roark handed the fossil back and shook his head. "I'd love to since I've never had the pleasure of seeing a Tyrunt, but I won't. Tyrunt are very tough Pokémon, and hard to train. Unless you have at least two gym badges, then you'll have to wait."

    Koa gritted his teeth, suppressing his frustration and disappointment. He'd come all this way for nothing? No. There was something...

    "Fine. I challenge you to a battle!"

    Roark chuckled. "Very well, if that's what you want. But I warn you, I won't be going easy on you. Meet me at the gym. And I suggest you prepare well." Roark gave a brief wave before striding out of the museum.

    "We're gonna defeat him, Hazard. Then we'll beat another gym. Whatever it takes to get Tyrunt." He glanced down at Hazard, who clung to his shoulder, then at Zubat, who dutifully hovered a few feet behind him. If he didn't get Tyrunt, then all his efforts in the caverns would have been for nothing. Clenching his fists, he stomped out of the museum.

    Without waiting, he walked straight to the gym and burst through the doors. The inside of the gym looked as if it had been carved from rock. The walls and ceiling resembled a cave and a few gym members milled about. The gym leaders arena was located at the rear of the cave, on a raised platform of rock. Roark stood at the base, beside a steep slope, waiting for him.

    "Alright let's battle!" Koa shouted as he approached.

    "Are you certain you're prepared? I can wait as long as-"

    "I'm ready. I want this badge."

    Roark gave a nod and led him up the slope, effortlessly scaling the steep incline. Koa jogged after him. He slipped once, but regained his balance and continued.

    Finally, he stood at the top. A large arena stretched out before him, Roark at the far end. Another man in miners' clothing stood to the side. The referee, Koa guessed. The miner spoke up. "This will be a one on one match! Koamaru Averon of Canalave vs Roark of Oreburgh! The challenger is free to use up to six Pokémon, the defender will use three. Substitutions are allowed. Please choose your Pokémon."

    Koa pushed away a flicker of fear. Three Pokémon? He could have sworn Roark used to use only two. And Hazard was weak to rock types. And ground. He swallowed and took a breath. There was no going back now. Besides, Roark was regarded as the first in the gym circuit. Koa felt sure he could handle him.

    "Let's show them how it's done! Go Hazard!" Hazard sprang from his shoulder and hissed in challenge. Koa swore he saw Roark quirk an eyebrow at the choice.

    "Boulder, show them how tough we are." Roark tossed out a Pokéball, sending out a Geodude.

    The referee stepped over to button on the wall and pressed it. A glowing barrier flashed around the open side of the arena then faded. Koa recognized it as one of the safety measures implemented to prevent heated battles from damaging gyms. The barrier blocked any kind of stray energy, while still allowing free movement.

    "Battle, begin!" The referee called.

    Roark crossed his arms. "First move is yours, Koa."

    Koa stared at his opponent. This Geodude looked much tougher than the ones he had fought at Oreburgh Gate. But it couldn't be much harder, right? Against those Geodude, a few double effective Absorb attacks were all he needed.

    "Hazard, use Absorb!"


    Before Hazard could make a move, Geodude disappeared underground. Hazard froze in confusion and panic.

    "Underneath-" Koa realized what was happening too late.

    Geodude erupted from under Hazard, launching him into the air with his fist. Hazard squealed as he fell.

    "Rock Throw!" Geodude began to materialize a large rock in front of it.

    Koa stared, his mind whirling as he tried to think of a counter. A moment later, Geodude hurled the rock. It smashed into Hazard, sending him flying into the barrier. He fell to the ground with an unceremonious thump. Slowly, Hazard got to his feet. He was battered and worn, and Koa guessed he could only take one more hit.

    "String Shot!"

    Hazard gathered his strength, then rapidly fired a blast of sticky webbing, binding Geodude tight.

    "Now use Absorb!"

    Hazard's eyes glowed red, and tendrils of energy began to flow from Geodude to him.

    "Break free and use Rock Throw!" In a surprising display of strength, Geodude tore through its bindings. It looked weakened but clearly could still go on. A large rock materialized in front of it.

    "Dodge!" Koa cried.

    The warning came too late, however, and the rock crashed into Hazard, sending him flying back. The super-effective attack proved too much for the small bug, and he collapsed.

    The referee gestured towards Roark. "Joltik is unable to battle! Roark wins the first round."

    Koa's shoulders drooped as he returned Hazard. It was over already. He was about to turn and leave when he remembered. He still had one more Pokéball. With a grimace, he took out Zubat.

    "Go Zubat," he said, unenthusiastically.

    Zubat emerged in a flash of white light and fluttered about the field, looking confused.

    "Seriously?" Roark called. "A Zubat? Now you really don't stand a chance."

    "We'll see," he muttered angrily. His anger boiled over, and he wished he could charge across the field and fight Roark himself for the badge. He'd probably have better odds, too.

    "Boulder, Rock throw!"

    It hurled the rock straight at Zubat. Koa stared at Zubat, unable to muster the drive to give him a command.

    "Dodge," he called at the last moment.

    At the last second, Zubat whirled out of the way, only getting his wing grazed. Koa felt torn between anger and apathy. He didn't believe it was possible to win with Zubat, but he felt angry that he hadn't even beaten Roark's first Pokémon.

    "Wing attack?" Koa realized he still didn't know all of Zubat's moves. Nor did he particularly care.

    Zubat's wings glowed and he dived with surprising speed, striking a solid blow on Geodude. It slid back, grunting in surprise. Roark quirked his eyebrow but remained silent.

    "Dig," Roark said, his voice confident.

    "Absorb," Koa said, after a moment's hesitation. He remembered seeing a Zubat in a cave use it once. Hopefully, his Zubat knew it.

    Zubat opened his jaws wide. Red energy emerged, drawing out the Geodude's energy. With a practiced roll, Geodude shook free of the attack and dived underground. Zubat fluttered above the hole uncertainly, his gaze flitting between his trainer and the hole.

    A second later, Geodude erupted from the ground behind Zubat. Zubat's wings glowed as Geodude raised its fist. The two moves collided in the air, creating an explosion of smoke and wind. When the dust had settled, Geodude lay fainted. Zubat looked injured but was still airborne.

    Koa's eyes widened. He'd expected Zubat to faint after one hit.

    The referee's voice echoed through the arena. "Geodude is unable to battle. Koamaru wins the second match."

    Roark folded his arms and nodded. "Not bad, Koa. But you'll need a lot more than that to beat my next Pokémon!" He selected a Pokéball from his belt. With a flick of his wrist, he tossed it onto the field.

    A massive, towering Onix exploded onto the field, roaring its dominance.

    Koa covered his ears, fear trickling into his heart.

    Roark gestured dramatically to the hulking beast. "Rocky, use Screech!"

    A deafening, high pitched cry rang across the battlefield. Zubat crashed to the ground, squealing in distress.

    "Rock Throw!"

    "Dodge, Zubat!" Koa yelled, his ears still ringing. Either Zubat hadn't heard or chose to ignore him. Either way, the fight was over moments later when Onix's boulder smashed into him. With a sigh, he recalled Zubat. "Unbelievable..." he muttered under his breath.

    The referee raised his hand. "The match is over. Gym leader Roark is the winner!"

    Roark returned Onix, then crossed the field to Koa. "You started strong, but you can't just rely on a single Pokémon. Your Joltik wasn't anywhere near strong enough or tough enough to handle multiple Pokémon in a row. Especially at a disadvantage. And your Zubat was-"

    "I know!" Koa snapped. "Look, clearly, I made a mistake. No need to rub it in."

    "I only-"

    "Just stop. Hazard and Zubat need rest. And I have other things to do than stand around here all day getting lectured." Without waiting for a response, he turned and stormed away.

    As he exited the gym, guilt consumed him. Roark had always been a friend to him and Blake. Still, he didn't need to hear all the ways that he failed. All he'd asked for was help reviving his fossil. So what if he didn't have any badges? That didn't mean he could tame a Tyrunt. For a moment, he considered sneaking into the museum and doing it himself, before dismissing the thought. No need to become a criminal. Not yet anyway, he thought jokingly.

    After healing his Pokémon quickly at the Pokémon center, he stocked up on supplies, then found a quiet spot near the edge of town. He needed to figure out where to go next. Taking out his two pokeballs, he sent out Hazard and Zubat. Hazard gave him an apologetic chirp and nuzzled his ankle.

    Koa chuckled and stroked his fuzzy body. "It's alright buddy. You did your best. I should have trained you better before fighting Roark, especially since you were at a disadvantage. And I should have researched him. I didn't realize he had three Pokémon." He mentally cursed himself for not looking up Roark's third Pokémon while he was at the Pokémon Center. Oh well, he could do that later.

    Hazard chittered and scurried up his arm, nuzzling into his neck. With that settled, Koa whirled on Zubat, who had perched on a rock nearby.

    "You! I didn't even want you on my team. And today's battle proved you don't have what it takes. It's my fault for not getting rid of you sooner. I'm taking you back to the Pokémon center and releasing you." Even as he spoke the words, a pang of guilt flickered through him. He'd thrown Zubat into a battle he was utterly unprepared for.

    Zubat chittered in alarm and fluttered in circles. Koa tried to brush him away, but he remained undeterred.

    Koa groaned and reached for Zubat's Pokéball. Zubat screeched in alarm dived into the Pokéball, knocking it out of his hand. "What the heck!" Koa yelped. He gave a resigned sigh. "Look, Zubat. I'm sorry." Zubat stopped flitting about and hovered in front of Koa.

    "I never should have even caught you in the first place. And I definitely shouldn't have thrown you into that battle. You weren't ready and I didn't even try to help you. But... you're not part of my plan, so you can't be on my team."

    A jolt of electricity shot through his body, making his fingers tingle. "Ow!" He looked down at his shoulder to see Hazard glaring at him. Realizing his words, Koa tentatively patted him. "I'm sorry, buddy. I didn't mean you. Besides, you still fit into the Plan, sort of."

    Hazard's fur fluffed up and he continued to glare at Koa. Koa withdrew his hand and sighed, looking at Zubat again.

    "Okay, fine. I'm not catching a Starly until after I get Tyrunt, so you can stay for now."

    Zubat screeched happily.

    "But, as soon as I do, I'm releasing you. Or sending you to stay with Professor Rowan. Got it?"

    Zubat shrieked and did a loop, then landed on his head. Hazard buzzed with annoyance from his shoulder, clearly not fully satisfied with the decision. Koa did his best to ignore him. The Zubat had pluck, sure. But Zubat just wasn't a good Pokémon. Starly was naturally strong and became even more of a powerhouse when it reached its final form. He sighed inwardly.

    "Well, the next step is Eterna City." He paused for a moment, contemplating. The fastest route would have been going north and taking the Bike Path. Unfortunately, the Bike Path required a bike, which he did not have. That left one other option. Backtracking to Jubilife, traveling north to Floaroma City, then continuing north through Eterna forest. The trip was at least a week, probably more, since Eterna Forest was huge, and difficult to navigate. Oh well, at least he could get in some good training for Hazard. His route featured plenty of weak Pokémon, as well as some water types.

    Tall grass tickled Koa's legs as he followed Route 204 north. With every inhale of breath, he could smell a faint sweet scent of flowers, carried on the southern breeze. The trees all around had been cleared to make a straight forward grassy path. Small ponds dotted the area, giving the route a calming feel. He'd been traveling for the better part of a day and a half, and in the distance, he could just make out the cliff face that signified the start of Ravaged Path. The quickest route to Floaroma town. The walk had been pleasant, but prosperous as well. A few weak Starly even gave him the chance to train Hazard a bit.

    As he waded through a patch of grass towards the entrance to Ravaged Path, a spot to his left rustled. A brown furry Pokémon emerged, followed by a young girl.

    "Hey there!" she called, waving at him. "Wanna battle?"

    Koa sized her and her Bidoof up. "Sure!" he replied.

    Hazard could use the chance to train against something that he didn't have a super-effective attack against.

    Koa grinned and took out Hazard's Pokéball. "Go Hazard!"

    Hazard emerged onto the path with an excited chirp. He and the Bidoof locked gazes for a few seconds.

    "Start with String Shot and immobilize it!" Koa called.

    Hazard launched the blast of sticky webbing straight for Bidoof.

    "Dodge, Bidoof," her trainer called. Her Bidoof leaped backward, displaying unexpected agility.

    Fortunately, Koa had practiced with Hazard's String Shot, improving its strength and distance. The web extended and wrapped around Bidoof, sending it tumbling to the ground.


    The girl said something Koa didn't catch.

    As Hazard charged the attack, Bidoof began to spin rapidly in place. Koa quickly recognized the attack as Rollout.

    "Launch Electroweb now!" he called.

    Bidoof shot forward with surprising speed, just as Hazard released Electroweb. The two attacks collided, Bidoof spinning and pressing against the Electroweb for a moment. There was a small explosion and Bidoof was sent flying back.

    Koa grinned. Electroweb hadn't done too much damage, but Hazard remained undamaged. His attacks were getting stronger.

    "Bug Bite."

    "Defense Curl! Block it."

    Hazard's pincers glowed white, growing slightly longer. Then he charged at Bidoof.

    Bidoof's eyes widened. It squeaked in terror then quickly curled into a ball, its fur glowing with a faint metallic sheen.

    Hazard's pincers clamped onto it, but Koa could see that the attack did little damage, thanks to Bidoof's Defense Curl.

    But Defense Curl wouldn't protect against everything. "Now, Electroweb!"

    Hazard quickly shot a blast of electric energy, covering Bidoof in a web of crackling electricity.

    It squealed in pain, then fell limp. The web faded, leaving the Bidoof unconscious.

    "Nice job, Hazard!" Hazard chirped happily and discharged a few sparks triumphantly.

    Bidoof trainer returned it, then nodded. "Your Joltik is pretty impressive. Here, a little reward from Bidoof and I."

    To his surprise, she handed him a few poke.

    Koa accepted it, then bid the trainer farewell. After she had gone, he took out the battery pack he'd bought in Jubilife, allowing Hazard to recharge himself. The device had cost him a pretty penny, but it was worth it.

    "Alright, take a good rest. We'll be at Ravaged Path soon, and I want you ready to battle." He took out Hazard's Pokéball and returned him. Standing up, he continued down the path. As he walked, he spotted a few trainers, some having battles or training, but didn't challenge them. He to save Hazard for Ravaged Path, after all.

    Koa pressed on, emerging from the grass at the entrance to Ravaged Path. He strode inside, the light behind him fading. The main area of Ravaged Path was fairly straightforward. A staircase sloped steeply upwards to a path that curved to the right, emerging on the top of the cliff. Unlike Ore cave, which had yet to be fully mapped, thanks to Onix's and such, Ravaged Path was no more than a small cave with an underground lake. Just as he ascended the stairs, a Geodude leaped from a ledge above, barring their path. A grin spread across Koa's face. Perfect. Training time.

    As it turned out, Hazard was able to take out the Geodude fairly easily. Using a combination of String Shot and Absorb, he wore it down rather quickly. From there, it was simple to finish it with Bug Bite.

    Despite how easy the battle was, it did give him some confidence for his eventual rematch against Roark. In the back of his mind, he was already trying to figure out a strategy to beat him. Of course, it would be a cinch once he caught his Tyrogue. They were known to hang outside Eterna, and he planned to catch one after fighting Gardenia. Within the hour, he exited the cave to the upper half of Route 204.

    From here he knew it was a fairly straight shot, past some trees and through some patches of overgrown grass. At the pace he kept, he figured he could make it to Floaroma by tomorrow morning. He only saw a few other people along the route, which didn't surprise him. Floarama wasn't a very large town, so there weren't many travelers. Once the sun started to set, he made camp for the night. Hazard seemed content to remain in his Pokéball, so he let Zubat out to stretch his wings.

    The next morning, he awoke to a strange weight on his chest. Blinking his eyes, he opened them to see Zubat nestled against his chest, sleeping peacefully. Or at least, he assumed he was sleeping. Zubat's lack of eyes made it hard to tell. Watching it, he almost pitied the poor creature. After several moments, he sat up slowly. Zubat gave a soft squeak and fluttered into the air, shaking its head. "Time to go, buddy." Zubat screeched excitedly and began to fly about. He seemed so happy. Koa decided to let it stay outside its Pokéball. Floaroma town was close anyway, so he wouldn't be flying far. He packed up camp, then released Hazard to travel on his shoulder.

    A few hours later, he spotted Floarama's infamous wooden arches, which had been built only a few years ago. They marked the entrances to the town and added to the flowery, bright feeling of everything.

    As he passed under the arch and into Floaroma town, he was assaulted by a mix of earthy and flowery scents. Floaroma town consisted of groups of small, quaint cottages with large fenced-in gardens all around. Just inside the town walls, to his right, was the Pokémon Center, and just north of that, the Pokemart. Directly beside the Pokemart, he saw the town's most well-known attraction. The Pick-a-Peck of Flowers shop.

    Hazard scuttled off his shoulder towards the shop, eyes gleaming eagerly.

    "Man I guess you guys must be pretty hungry," Koa mused. He'd run out of fresh berries not long ago. Now would be the perfect time to stock up.

    Hazard trotted ahead, up to the flower shop. A young lady who was tending a berry plant noticed him.

    "Hello there!" she said cheerfully. Her hand shot out as she tried to pet him. Hazard chittered in alarm, his fur fluffing, and nipped her. "Ouch! What was that for?" She shook her hand and frowned.

    Koa hurried over to the woman. She shot him a glare. "Is this your Joltik?"


    "Well you should teach that thing some manners! What a beast."

    Koa clenched his fists. "Maybe you shouldn't touch other people's Pokémon!"

    "Hmph. Just keep that thing away from me. I don't want it trampling my plants."

    Hazard shot her an angry glare as he returned to his perch on Koa's shoulder. Koa glared at her back, wondering how a Pokémon as tiny as Joltik could possibly trample anything.

    "Don't worry Hazard. You're not a beast, and your manners are fine," he murmured. He stepped inside the shop, a bell above the door chiming as he walked in. Zubat darted inside after him, then landed on his head. He sighed, not bothering to shoo it away.

    "Hello, welcome to Pick a Peck of Flowers!" A young woman behind the counter greeted him cheerfully. A Roserade stood beside her, watching them. "Can I help you?"

    "Well I want to get some berries for my Pokémon," Koa said. His voice trailed as he stared at a sign behind the lady, detailing the different berries they carried. He realized he had no idea what kind of berries his Pokémon liked. Most Pokémon would eat Oran berries, but they usually had a favorite as well.

    "Is it for that adorable little Joltik?" the woman asked. "And Zubat I assume?"

    Koa nodded.

    The lady smiled. "A Zubat? I'd definitely go for a Pecha berry. They usually love sweet things. As for the little guy..." She tilted her head and tapped her chin. "You look like you'd like something spicy, wouldn't you?" she cooed.

    "Rosy, bring some Pecha berries and Tamato berries please."

    Koa suddenly remembered the honey tree where he first found Zubat. "Actually, can you add a jar of honey as well? I think my Zubat acquired a taste for the stuff."

    At the mention of Honey, Zubat perked up and shrieked happily.

    The Roserade nodded and disappeared into the back of the shop. A few moments later, she returned with three packages balanced expertly in its hands. She placed them on the counter. One contained a few Pecha Berries, the second Tomato berries, the final one a jar of honey.

    "200 Poke!" The saleswoman said.

    Koa dished out the money, then purchased some sandwiches for himself from a nearby cafe. Then he led his Pokémon to some picnic tables near the flower meadows where he sat down to enjoy his meal. As soon as he opened the jar of honey, Zubat screeched and attacked it voraciously. Koa laughed at the display, watching as the little Zubat practically buried his head inside the jar. Hazard made a strange noise he could only assume was some kind of laugh. Zubat was rather cute, he supposed. He would almost be sad to see it go. Almost. Shaking his head, he set to enjoying his own lunch.

    After he finished eating, and his Pokémon finished their meals, he headed for the west gate, towards Route 205. If he continued west, he could reach the famed Valley Windworks. Valley Windworks was only an hour or so outside town, making it a suitable place for training. He planned to train there a bit, before heading north for Eterna Forest.

    Once he reached the Windworks, he paused to take stock of the area. A wide open grassy expanse spread out before him, with a paved road leading to the gates of the actual Windworks plant. In the distance, Windworks river wove around the factory before flowing back to the west. Suddenly, Zubat gave an ecstatic screech, launching himself off his head. He flew straight towards a small golden leafed tree on the side of the road. He latched onto the bark and began licking it delightedly. Koa rolled his eyes. Well, as long as Zubat was distracted with his honey, he could work on Hazard some more.

    Koa singled out several small rocks scattered in the area. "Alright Hazard, let's keep working on your electricity. Rapid-fire Electroweb on those rocks."

    Hazard sprang off his shoulder and began launching Electrowebs at the rocks. At first, it could barely last five minutes without a recharge. Koa continued working with him for the next hour however, only stopping to allow him to recharge. According to the Pokédex, by discharging all their electricity and then recharging, they could slowly expand their storage capacity. Pretty soon, Hazard was able to last longer and longer without a recharge. Koa guessed he could go at least fifteen minutes. That would be more than enough to last in a battle against Roark.

    Feeling satisfied, he let Hazard rest for awhile. In the distance, he saw Zubat flying about, dipping and diving through the sky. As he watched, he couldn't help but marvel at how well the Zubat had adapted to sunlight. He supposed Zubat had gotten used to it from its time pursuing honey trees.

    After a good rest, he called Zubat over. He shrieked happily and landed on Koa's head again. Koa held back a sigh and started walking towards Route 205. It occurred to him he was beginning to grow used to the Zubat's presence.

    The walk to Eterna forest was nearly two days from where he was, but he was looking forward to it. Route 205 was a simple route. The first bit consisted of a beautiful flowered meadow, shifting into grassy plains and small canyons. He traveled in relative peace for several hours. He battled a few trainers with Hazard and won most of them. That evening, he made camp at a spot where the canyon split, and the land met the bank of Windworks River.

    As usual, he set out early next morning. He hoped to make it to the edge of Eterna by nightfall. According to the maps he'd studied, there was a small cabin just outside the boundary of the forest. It served as a rest stop for weary trainers. If he could reach it, he could rest there and get a solid start on Eterna Forest tomorrow morning.

    He hadn't been walking long before he spied a young boy in a purple tunic. The boy was instructing his Meditite to attack a tree. The Meditite would summon an attack, then strike the tree.

    As Koa approached, the boy stopped and whirled to face him. His eyes darted to Zubat before breaking out into mocking laughter. His Meditite stopped training to mimic him.

    Koa clenched his fists and strode up to the boy, stopping less than a foot away. "What's so funny?"

    The boy pointed and laughed again. "A Zubat! How pathetic indeed, to use such a weak Pokémon. The-"

    Koa punched him in the face. "No one calls my Pokémon weak!"

    Zubat screeched at the boy, who crawled so his feet, a hand clamped to his nose. "How dare you attack me in such a manner?"

    "How dare you talk to my Pokémon like that?" Even though he didn't intend to keep Zubat, he wouldn't put up with anyone insulting his Pokémon either. "How about your Meditite vs my Joltik? I'll show you what power looks like."

    The boy laughed. "No way! Your Joltik looks almost as pathetic as your Zubat. Almost. It doesn't prove a thing unless your sad little Zubat can beat my Meditite." The Meditite grinned cockily and smirked at him.

    Koa balked. He highly doubted Zubat stood a chance against the Meditite. Hazard could handle it. But Zubat was weak and inexperienced. Still, his pride (and Zubat) had been challenged. If he backed out now, he would be a coward. "Fine," he growled. "What's your name?"

    "Kody," the boy replied arrogantly. "With a 'K'. Meditite and I are going to become the greatest Psychics ever."

    Koa rolled his eyes. "Alright Zubat, get ready to fight."

    Zubat launched himself off Koa's head and took up a battle stance, hovering a few feet above the ground.

    Koa glared at the boy. "If I win, you admit that my Zubat is awesome. And give me, say, 200 poke."

    "What if I win?" Kody demanded.

    "You get the satisfaction of knowing you're right. And 200 poke."

    The boy mused for a moment before nodding. "Alright fine. I'll show you just what a mistake you made with a weakling like that. Go Sai!" Meditite hopped forwards took up a fighting stance.

    "I'll give you first move," Koa said, smirking.

    "Your loss. Sai, use Confusion." A wave of blue energy surged towards Zubat.

    "Confuse it," Zubat opened its jaws, firing a nearly invisible soundwave at Meditite. It struck Meditite, who began to teeter.

    "Wing attack!" Zubat dived down and struck Meditite, knocking it back.

    "Come Sai, let us finish off this foolish Zubat! Use Hidden Power."

    Sai began to charge a ball of energy, but his concentration slipped and it exploded, knocking him into a tree. Zubat dived down and struck him again with Wing Attack. Sai yelped and slumped to the ground.

    "Finish him!" Koa cried. Could he actually get lucky and win this?

    "Counter with Psyshock." Sai shook his head, clearing it, then launched a glowing bluish orb.

    Koa didn't even have time to process what was happening, and neither did Zubat. The attack knocked him out of the air, and he crashed to the ground, stunned.

    "One more time Sai." The second Psyshock hit Zubat, sending up a cloud of dust from the force of the impact.

    "Zubat no!"

    Zubat gave a groan and tried to stand.

    "See! Just as I predicted, your Zubat is weak." The boy smirked and Sai gave a taunting cry. As much as he wanted to, Koa couldn't bring himself to make a retort. Kody was right.

    Zubat made one last attempt to stand. To Koa's surprise, he let out a defiant shriek and charged Meditite with Wing Attack.

    Kody remained unfazed. "Confusion, slow it down."

    Meditite's eyes glowed blue, and a blue glow surrounded Zubat. Zubat briefly halted midair before being slammed unceremoniously into the ground, unconscious.

    Koa's shoulder's sagged. He returned Zubat, then paid out the money he owed.

    "Ha! See, I was right," Kody gloated. "Zubat is pathetic." He strutted off, his Meditite floating after him.

    Once he had gone, Koa released Zubat again. He gave it a potion to restore it, then sat back and sighed. Zubat fluttered to life and stood up awkwardly. He squeaked sadly and ducked his head, almost as if he was ashamed. Koa stroked his furry blue head thoughtfully.

    Zubat had lost, unsurprisingly. What did surprise him was that he should have fainted much earlier, after the first Psyshock. The fact that he survived the second shocked Koa even more. And then... he reflected on the battle, how Zubat bravely tried to keep fighting anyway. Even when he was exhausted. Despite how he'd rejected Zubat constantly, he had clearly put everything he had into the battle. Another thought occurred to him, one he'd tried to avoid thinking about. Technically, Zubat was his starter. Not Joltik. It was the first Pokémon he acquired after becoming a licensed trainer.

    Confusion brewed inside him. His head said not to keep Zubat, regardless of what it had done. Plenty of books he read mentioned how flighty and unpredictable they were. How they were a weak species, hard to train. Yet his heart said otherwise. Even after he'd gotten angry at Zubat after their loss to Roark, it had persisted. For him.

    "Oh Zubat, I'm sorry!" he cried out. "I've been an awful trainer to you. You fought so hard for me and I didn't fight for you."

    Zubat perked up slightly, lifting his head as if staring straight at Koa.

    Hazard chirped encouragingly from his shoulder.

    "This whole time I've been thinking what a terrible Pokémon you are, but I'm the one who's terrible. I should have been training you to bring out your strength. A good trainer works with his Pokémon, no matter what." Koa took a deep breath. "Can you forgive me, Zubat?"

    Without hesitation, Zubat shrieked happily. He flew into the air, doing a little loop before landing on Koa's head.

    Koa laughed and patted him, grinning from ear to ear. "Now that that's settled, how about a nickname?"

    Zubat squeaked amiably.

    "Hmmm... let's see. Flutter? No, that's dumb. Dracula? Too cliche. How about...Echo?"

    Zubat gave a delighted screech and nuzzled against his cheek.

    "Echo it is then." He glanced happily between his two Pokémon-no, partners. A surge of pride flowed through him. They weren't part of the Plan, but they were good. Besides, there were still 4 more slots on his Plan. It just needed a bit of adjusting. "Now, it's time for some hardcore training! Roark is too tough to beat right now, but Gardenia is a grass-type gym leader. The two of you should be able to handle her pretty easily." The only obstacle standing in his way now was Eterna Forest.

    Hazard (Male Joltik) - Electroweb, Bug Bite, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Zubat) - Supersonic, Absorb, Bite, Wing Attack

    And there's chapter 3! Koa has suffered a humiliating defeat, though it is due to his own poor choices. But he has learned a valuable lesson about being a trainer. Next up is the Eterna gym. Will he put his lessons to good use?

    Thank you for reading, hope everyone enjoyed it. If you have any comments, feel free to send me a PM.

    Sethal and BZRich64 like this.
  4. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    Ah yes, here we are at chapter 4. We finally reach Koa's first real gym battle. Perhaps he will learn from his humiliating loss to Roark? As always, enjoy!

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Zubat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Supersonic, Absorb, Bite, Wing Attack

    Zubat, the Bat Pokémon. Even though it has no eyes, it can sense obstacles using ultrasonic waves it emits from its mouth. This Zubat is male and knows the moves Supersonic, Bite, Absorb, and Wing Attack.

    He'd stopped to rest for the evening near a place known as the Wayfarer's Cabin, and took the time to properly see Echo's moveset. Once the Pokédex finished relaying the moves, he had Echo demonstrate each one. He was fairly impressed - Echo had a solid handle on all his moves.

    Now he was eager to begin training. The plentiful bug Pokémon that lived in the forest would be perfect training for Zubat. For now, however, he decided to settle for working on teaching Echo Confuse Ray. It worked on the same principle as Supersonic but was much more potent and accurate.

    To his surprise, developing the Confuse Ray technique proved easy. After a solid couple hours of practice, Echo managed to change his Supersonic into the concentrated golden orbs of a Confuse Ray. Another half-hour of practice and Echo had mastered the attack fairly well, able to hit targets from a good distance away. Satisfied, Koa turned in for the night.

    Wayfarer's Cabin, a large cabin built at the edge of Eterna Forest, was a place where trainers and Pokémon could rest briefly. A tall wooden fence surrounded the cabin, and an Arcanine sat at the gate, watching his surroundings intently. It acknowledged him with a bark as he approached, then moved from in front of the gate. Koa stroked him gently, scratching behind his ears before going into the cabin.

    The cabin looked empty, though a sign near the door instructed weary visitors to help themselves to food in the cabin, or to take a quick nap in the beds. Koa took a breath and sighed happily. It had been a few days since he slept in a proper bed. Once Echo and Hazard made themselves comfortable, Koa took a shower then made himself cozy in one of the beds.

    Koa stood in front of Eterna Forest, gazing into its murky depths. He'd read a lot about the forest. Long ago, woodcutters had carved a path leading to Eterna City. They had also attempted to create paths through the rest of the woods, but were stopped by hordes of wild Pokémon and eventually gave up. The path became frequently used by travelers, but he also knew that every book about this place warned against straying too deep off the path. Dangerous Pokémon lurked there, Pokémon who would not hesitate to attack a human, or another Pokémon. After the incident with the Golbat, he had no desire to test that. Besides, he was more interested in caves than forests.

    With a glance at his two companions, he started into the forest. The outside sounds faded, replaced by the distant humming of bugs and gentle chirping of bird Pokémon. Thick shade enveloped him, cloaking the forest in a cool, eerie stillness. He moseyed through the forest, taking in the sights as he walked. He spotted a few other people, some young bug catchers and a few junior Pokémon scouts.

    The first day or so of his trip through the forest remained uneventful. Echo and Hazard both got in some excellent training against the weaker bug Pokémon. Echo had a bit of difficulty with a Misdreavus, but soon triumphed thanks to his powerful Bite attack.

    The third day, however, proved more interesting. Not too long after he set out in the morning, a girl burst out of the brush. "Hey! You're the kid who lost to my brother, right?"

    Koa stared at her, puzzled. "What?" She wore a set of distinct purple clothes and had familiar dark gray hair.

    "My brother, Kody. We come to Route 205 and Eterna Forest to train. Has a Meditite, about yay tall?" she continued, gesturing.

    Koa scowled and nodded, recalling his defeat at the hands of Meditite. The memory of the loss still left a bitter taste in his mouth.

    "Then I challenge you to a battle! I need to know if you're actually weak, or my brother's just slightly stronger than you. Come on out Psy!" Rachel tossed a Pokéball, and a Psyduck emerged. She grinned at him. "Name's Rachel by the way."

    Koa frowned. He was in no particular mood to face anyone related to Kody. Still, at least she wasn't as rude as him. Something she'd said made him pause, however. "You and your brother nicknamed your Pokémon the same name?"

    At that, Rachel frowned. "NO. Psyduck's name is Psy. P-S-Y. My ridiculous little brother spelled it S-A-I or something."

    Koa chuckled, then reached back, patting Echo, who found a new perch on his shoulder. "Want to give it a shot, Echo?"

    Echo shrieked and fluttered onto the battlefield.

    Rachel eyed the Zubat skeptically. "How about we make things even more interesting. I'll wager 500 Poke I can win. Winner takes all."

    Koa grinned. "Sounds like an extra 500 Poke in my pocket. I accept."

    "Psy, Water gun!" The Psy blasted a shot of water, knocking Echo out of the air. He shook his head, catching himself midair and recovering quickly.

    "Now tackle it!"

    "Quick, Bite!" Koa called out. The Psyduck seemed well trained, but Koa had a feeling it wasn't as tough as his Zubat.

    As Psyduck approached, Echo narrowly dodged, then sank his jaws into it. Psyduck squealed in terror. A blue glow wrapped around Echo and yanked him away, smashing him into the ground. After a moment, Echo got up, battered but still strong. Their training had paid off.

    Koa grinned. There was still time to land a good hit. "Absorb."

    Red tendrils of energy trickled across the battlefield to Echo, leeching Psyduck's strength and restoring Echo's.

    "Psy, use Confusion one more time!"

    Blue light enveloped Echo.

    Panic filled Koa. He did not want to lose again, and he didn't want Echo to lose either. As tough as Echo had become, he was still vulnerable to Psychic attacks. "Confuse Ray!" Koa called.

    Three glowing golden orbs formed in front of the Zubat's jaws. He blasted them at Psyduck. They collided, making Psyduck stagger back. It dropped it's hold on Echo. It's eyes flickered blue, then it hurled itself headfirst into a nearby tree.

    "Psy, snap out of it!" Rachel cried.

    Koa grinned, feeling pleased. It was time to end this. "Finish it with Wing Attack." Echo dived at the stunned Psyduck, his wings glowing brightly. He struck it with his wings, knocking it out cold.

    Koa grinned in triumph. The speed at which Echo had knocked Psyduck out showed that Echo had gotten much stronger.

    Rachel returned her Psyduck to its Pokéball and walked over to him. "Huh. Pretty good. Your Pokémon are certainly tough. Clearly you've been training since you fought my brother. Not that he's that good," she added with a chuckle. "Well, good luck. You're pretty close to Eterna City. Maybe I'll see you around." She waved a final goodbye, before jogging into the forest.

    After she left, Koa let out a breath of relief. "Nice work, Echo!"

    Echo shreed happily and did his trademark loop before settling onto Koa's head. Koa chuckled and stroked Echo's head. "Alright, get some rest." He took out Echo's Pokéball, returning him.

    For the next few hours, Koa traveled in pleasant silence. He was contemplating taking a break for lunch when loud, derisive laughter broke the silence.

    "Hey, still got that loser Zubat?"

    Koa whirled towards the voice, his fists clenched, to see Kody. Kody, who'd been standing just a few feet away, flinched back when he saw Koa's clenched fists.

    Koa relaxed his stance and smirked. "How about a rematch?"

    "Why, you want to lose again?" Kody asked, positively dripping arrogance.

    Koa shrugged, but said nothing. This time, he was confident he could win. Echo had been working hard, and he was much stronger than the last time they'd fought.

    "In that case, I am more than happy to oblige," Kody said. "Go Sai!" A Pokéball hovered onto the battlefield, releasing a familiar Meditite.

    Grinning, Koa took out Echo's Pokéball. "Go Echo!" As he tossed out the Pokéball, it rattled violently midair, then burst open, spilling out blue light. The light coalesced into the silhouette of Zubat for a second. Suddenly, the light began to glow even brighter. Bright bluish light began to swirl around the form of Zubat.

    Koa gasped, barely able to believe his eyes. Echo was evolving! As he continued to watch, the blinding light doubled in size. The silhouette shifted from the small, wiry form of a Zubat to the tall, powerful form of a Golbat. With a final surge of energy, particles of light surged outward, leaving behind an angry looking Golbat.

    Echo let out a deafening screech, making both Koa and Kody cover their ears. He stood, glaring down the Meditite. Meditite shrank back, shaking with fear. Koa couldn't take his eyes off the new form of his friend. His Zubat had actually evolved! He knew Echo was close, given his relative strength and power, but he had no idea how close.

    Kody stood in open-mouthed awe before shaking himself, trying to regain his composure. "Doesn't matter. That thing is still weak, just like its trainer!"

    Echo's glare grew even angrier if that was possible. He was not fond of people mocking his trainer.

    "Meditite, use Feint!"

    Meditite closed its eyes, focusing. A second later, it appeared behind Echo, its hand glowing white and raised to strike.

    "Behind!" Koa shouted. He figured there wasn't time to finish the entire command, but he trusted Echo to understand.

    Echo whirled around, his wings glowing with energy. Wing Attack met Feint, and for a second, the two moves stalemated. Echo screeched and pressed harder. Meditite was thrown back and crashed into a tree. It slowly began to stand, its limbs shaking with exhaustion.

    Satisfaction flowed through Koa. Time to end this fight. "Now, Bite."

    Echo's jaws glowed with energy, his fangs nearly doubling in length. Koa immediately recognized the technique as Bite's more powerful successor, Crunch. He dived towards Meditite

    "Meditite, Confusion," Kody called.

    Meditite struggled to its feet, its eyes glowing blue.

    A blue glow surrounded Golbat, halting him in his tracks just inches from Meditite. Echo pressed against the weak psychic attack, his eyes glistening with determination. Meditite began to tremble from exertion.

    "Don't give up, Echo! Show him how hard you've been training!"

    Echo roared and pressed forward, breaking through the Confusion attack. He sank his fangs into Meditite, nearly swallowing it whole. Meditite cried out in pain, struggling to escape. Echo clamped his jaws tighter, and Meditite fell still.

    "Yeah!" Koa shouted. Echo spat out the unconscious Meditite and screeched triumphantly.

    Kody stared at Meditite, his gaze distant. Slowly, he pulled out a Pokéball and returned it. He stared at the Pokéball for a moment, then looked up. "Well, I guess I was wrong. Your Zubat - sorry, Golbat, is impressive. You've trained it well." Kody strode forwards and offered his hand.

    Koa examined it for a moment, then shook it. "Thanks."

    As Kody left, Koa couldn't stop grinning as he stared at Golbat. Gardenia didn't stand a chance.

    Koa heaved a sigh of relief as he finally entered Eterna City. Two Noctowl perched above the gates and he waved to them as he passed through the gate, reveling in the feeling of sunlight on his skin. As he emerged into the city, he paused to take in the sights. Quaint, weathered brick buildings lined uniform streets. The architecture gave the city an old fashioned feel, and combined with the cobblestone streets, reminded Koa that Eterna City had been Sinnoh's first city. He quickly set aside his observations of the city in favor of something he was far more interested in seeing.

    Turning north, he took off, excitement renewing his strength. There was something here he wanted to see, something he'd only ever seen in tour guides. He'd just rounded a corner and started east, when he spotted it. Two towering metal statues, carved in an elaborate representation of Palkia and Dialga. He stopped in front of the statues, breathless, staring up at them in awe. They loomed over his head, gleaming in the late afternoon sun. Each statue stood at least 20 feet tall, although he privately wondered if the real Pokémon were even larger. With some effort, he dragged his eyes away from the statue to read the inscriptions below them.

    The one beneath Dialga read,

    "The creation of DIALGA,

    The giver of time...

    In laughter, there is tears...

    And, likewise it is with time.

    The same time flows on.

    For it is the blessing of DIALGA."

    While Palkia's read:

    "The birth of PALKIA.

    The creator of parallel dimensions...

    Alive, yet not alive...

    Everything drifts in space...

    To arrive in the same universe.

    It is the blessing of PALKIA."

    "Cool..." he whispered, stroking the text.

    "So you came here to see the statues too?"

    A voice behind Koa startled him, causing him to jump. He turned around to see the caped boy from the trainer's license exam. Koa grasped for his name, but he couldn't recall it.

    "To think that Pokémon themselves hold mastery over the fabric of the universe. Time and Space..." his voice trailed for a moment. "Antimatter."

    Koa perked up. "You mean Giratina?"

    The boy tilted his head, his dark hair falling to the side slightly. He quirked an eyebrow at Koa before nodding. "Indeed. Although I am surprised to hear you know of Giratina. Not many do know it seems, and even more, are ignorant of the legends."

    Although he didn't look much older than Koa, he sounded odd. His voice had some kind of dialect or accent, although not one he'd ever heard. And the way he spoke sounded unusual as well. Not to mention he had a really weird outfit. "The legends are so cool! I know everything about them pretty much. Once I'm strong enough I'm going to find the Spear Pillar."

    At the mention of the name, the boy broke into a chuckle, shaking his head. "Certainly you jest? No trainer has managed to navigate the maze of tunnels within Mt Coronet, nor braved the skies above. If you know the legends, then surely you know that the legends themselves have hidden that place." His voice was disbelieving but not scornful.

    "Doesn't mean I'm going to give up. Who are you anyway? I remember you from the license exam, but what are you doing here?"

    "I'm here for the same reason as you, I suspect. To visit these statues, and challenge Gardenia, among other things." He frowned and looked down at his watch. "Alas, I am afraid I have tarried too long. I have business to tend to, as well as preparation for my gym battle."

    "Good luck then, " Koa said as an afterthought.

    The boy paused and glanced back at him, a faint smile playing across his lips. "I have no need for luck. All I require is the strength of my partners and our skills." He strode swiftly away from the platform. Koa watched him go, his eyes narrowed with curiosity. A moment later, he smacked himself in the head. I forgot to ask his name!

    The boy seemed unusually mysterious, but he also seemed like he knew a lot about legendaries. Maybe he would run into him later. He jogged back through the city to the Pokémon center, where he stopped to get his Pokémon a checkup. By the time he was done, he found it was far too late to challenge the gym. Burying his frustration, he settled for a small room in a nearby inn. Going to sleep was too difficult this early in the night, so he stayed up, planning for tomorrow.

    Gardenia should be fairly easy, but just in case, he had picked up a trainer's guide from the Pokémon center to read up. Supposedly, Gardenia had a Cherubi, Turtwig and Roserade. The Cherubi he wasn't particularly worried about, and the Turtwig likely wouldn't be too much trouble, but the Roserade did worry him. It was stronger than the other two. At least he wouldn't have to worry about his Zubat being poisoned. That was one edge up. And Joltik couldn't be paralyzed either.

    Koa rolled over in bed and addressed his Pokémon. "Here's the plan guys..."

    For the rest of the evening, he formulated different strategies with his Pokémon.

    As usual, he awoke early next morning and took a short jog before returning to a cafe for breakfast. He set out for the gym immediately. Since Eterna was a larger city, there would no doubt be a fair few challengers, and he wanted to get there before them. As he walked to the gym, he passed by the south gate. A large sign posted beside the exit read "Cycling Path Ahead-Bikes Only!"

    He watched enviously as a young woman sped by on her bike, zooming through the exit. Aside from his cousin's bike, he never had his own, since they were so expensive. The Cycle Shop in Eterna was the only bike distributor in all of Sinnoh, and the process wasn't cheap. He set aside the thoughts as he approached the gym. After Roark, he didn't intend to lose.

    Outside, the gym looked fairly average. Unlike the rest of Eterna, the gym's architecture had a distinctly newer feel, and it was painted in shades of green. Taking a quick breath, he stepped inside. A rush of warm, slightly muggy air greeted inside of the gym resembled a giant greenhouse, with rows of trees and various plants growing all about. Although they were not in any specific order, they still seemed very precisely planted. A forested scent hung thickly about, and he took a deeper breath and closed his eyes, the scents reminding him of the woods around Canalave, minus the ocean scent.

    "Hiya! I see you're enjoying my gym."

    Koa opened his eyes to see a young woman with short orange hair and a green tunic. Gardenia. She smiled brightly, and her eyes seemed to give off a sparkle. "I'm here to challenge you to a battle."

    Gardenia smiled at him, although her pleasant gaze seemed to size him up as well. "Hm. You have a winning aura about you!" She nodded towards another woman tending to a flower patch. "Lavender, meet me by the arena please." The woman nodded and hurried away, and Koa followed Gardenia.

    They wove through the rows of plants, until they emerged to a wide space bordered by thick, sturdy trees in uniform lines. Bright sunlight filtered from the open ceiling above. They took their places on either end of the battlefield. Lavender emerged from a path between the trees, a Nuzleaf trailing behind her. Gardenia waved in acknowledgment before turning back to Koa.

    "So, challenger. What's your name?"

    "Koamaru," he replied.

    "Pleased to me you, Koamaru. As is custom, I will use the traditional three Pokémon. You are free to use as many as you like."

    "All I need is two," Koa said confidently.

    Gardenia nodded and continued. "How much would you like to wager on this match?"

    Koa paused for a moment. He'd forgotten about the wager rule. Any challenger could choose to wager money on an official challenge. Some gyms would allow anything from a minor 1 poke, to thousands more. Roark tended to be a bit looser with those rules, he knew, especially with friends. His thoughts drifted to the Cycle Shop. Maybe... it was a long shot, but if he won, it would pay off.

    "10,000 Poke." It was basically all he had, so if he lost, he would be broke. But if he won, it would pay off handsomely.

    Lavender gasped softly, and Gardenia's eyes widened. "Well, I like your spunk. Are you sure?"

    Koa nodded determinedly. "Absolutely."

    "10,000 it is then. Lavender, could you go over the official terms please?"

    "Certainly, Miss Gardenia. This will be a single battle match. The challenger, Koamaru, will be using two Pokémon. The defender, gym leader Gardenia, will use three. The battle will continue until one side is out of usable Pokémon. The challenger may substitute, but the defender cannot. The terms of the wager is 10,000 poke, winner takes all. Trainers, send out your starting Pokémon."

    Koa unhooked Echo's Pokéball and tossed it out. Almost simultaneously, Gardenia sent out Cherubi. Perfect.

    Lavender raised her arm. "First move belongs to the challenger. Battlers, begin!" A loud chime echoed through the gym.

    Echo let out his trademark screech and glared at his opponent. Koa sized up the Cherubi. It was a gym leader's Pokémon, which meant it wasn't a pushover. But with the type advantage, Koa felt fairly sure he could end this battle quickly.

    "I'll let you go first," Gardenia said.

    "Wing Attack!"

    Echo wings glowed and he dived straight for Cherubi.

    Unfazed, Gardenia gave her order. "Dodge Cherubi!"

    Cherubi sprang easily out of the way. Echo whirled, attempting to pursue with Wing Attack. Once again, Cherubi nimbly leaped out of the way. Three more times, Echo dived at it with Wing Attack, only for it to dodge. Koa scowled. He hadn't expected Cherubi to be this fast.

    "Alright Echo, back off!" Echo fluttered backwards, eyeing the Cherubi angrily. Koa knew he needed a new strategy, and fast. Echo was quick, but as a Golbat, he could never compete with Cherubi's speed. "Echo, return," he said, finally. Holding out Echo's Pokéball, he returned him.

    "Alright, go Hazard!" Grinning, he tossed out Hazard's Pokéball. Joltik emerged in a flash of light. He faced down his opponent, his eyes gleaming dangerously.

    Koa took a moment to gather his thoughts. If he could slow Cherubi down, he could win. But the real challenge would be tripping up Cherubi without Gardenia realizing what he was up to. "Start with Electroweb, Hazard."

    Hazard nodded and fired off a blast of electric webbing. It sailed through the air, straight for Cherubi.

    "Dodge it again and use Magical Leaf," Gardenia said. Cherubi leaped to its right, and the web landed harmlessly on the ground, still crackling with electricity. The leaves on its head glowed bright green and it hurled a flurry of sharp leaves at Hazard.

    Koa's eyes widened. "Fend it off with Bug Bite!" Hazard's pincers glowed and he began desperately snapping at the leaves as they flew at him. He managed to deflect most of it, but many still struck, battering him slightly.

    Now Koa had a plan, however. He spoke calmly "Electroweb to the right."

    Joltik's eyes gleamed in understanding. He fired an Electroweb, aiming just to the right of Cherubi. As he expected, Cherubi leaped left to dodge.

    "Quick, String Shot!"

    As Cherubi leaped left, Joltik fired at the spot, covering the ground in a mess of sticky webbing. Just as Koa expected, Cherubi crashed directly into it. It cried out in shock and distress as it found itself firmly stuck in place.

    Gardenia's eyes widened in shock as she realized what had happened.

    "Now, Bug Bite!" Hazard lunged at the trapped Cherubi, sinking his jaws into it. "Keep going, Hazard!"

    "Get out with Magical Leaf," Gardenia called.

    Cherubi frantically began launching its leaves at the webbing. Hazard continued to cling to it. A few strands were cut, allowing Cherubi to get free.

    "Get that thing off of you with Growth!" Gardenia shouted. Cherubi closed its eyes, its leaves glowing green. After a moment, its body suddenly grew, dislodging Hazard and tossing him a few feet away, unharmed. Cherubi was left panting, clearly exhausted from the super-effective attack.

    Koa grinned. "Don't let up. Electroweb!" Hazard fired off the attack.

    "Block with Magical Leaf!" Gardenia cried.

    The two attacks collided, but Hazard quickly fired a second Electroweb. The two webs combined, doubling in strength. They overwhelmed the leaves, crashing through them and trapping Cherubi. Electricity flowed through the Cherubi, shocking it mercilessly and knocking it out.

    Hazard gave a cry of triumph, and Koa cheered.

    The referee raised her hand. "Cherubi is unable to battle. Joltik is the victor."

    Gardenia smiled as she returned Cherubi. "I have to admit, that was pretty impressive. A lot of trainers struggle with my Cherubi's speed. You adapted well." She took out a second Pokéball. "But you have a long way to go. Go Twiggy!" She tossed out the Pokéball. With a flash of light, a tough looking Turtwig emerged.

    Koa eyed it uncertainly. After Cherubi, he wasn't sure what to expect from this Turtwig. Hazard looked worn out from the multiple electric attacks however. "Alright, Hazard. Return. Go Echo!"

    His Golbat emerged from his Pokéball with a screech. He and Turtwig locked gazes. "Alright Echo, up in the air," Koa said. Echo launched himself into the air, hovering several feet above the battlefield.

    "Twiggy, Razor Leaf." Turtwig's leaves glowed and it swung its head, launching a volley of leaves up at Echo.

    "Block with Wing Attack." Echo began to strike back, knocking a few of the leaves away. Turtwig hurled a second volley. Several struck Golbat, hitting him back several feet. Koa grimaced. The attack had hurt, even with Golbat's resistance to grass type.

    Gardenia smiled. "Twiggy, use Tackle!" Turtwig sprinted forwards and leaped up with unexpected grace. Before Koa could react, Turtwig crashed into Golbat hard, knocking him back. Turtwig landed and cried out a challenge.

    Koa scowled. Turtwig's physical moves were clearly stronger. He needed Echo for Roserade, which meant he needed to end this quickly. "Echo, Wing Attack! Don't stop."

    Echo dived at Turtwig, wings glowing. He began to swing at it relentlessly. Turtwig gracefully dodged each one.

    "Now Twiggy, retaliate with Bite." Turtwig opened its jaws wide and leaped for Echo.

    "Confuse Ray!"

    Gardenia's eyes widened in a panic, while Koa grinned. Turtwig, already midway through his attack, had no way to dodge. Just as it sank its jaws into Golbat, Golbat blasted it with Confuse Ray. Turtwig let go, falling to the ground rather ungracefully. It slowly got up and began to stagger about.

    "Finish it with Wing Attack, Echo."

    Echo shrieked gleefully and began to pummel Turtwig over and over with his wings. In a few seconds, the battle was over.

    "Turtwig is unable to battle. Koamaru is the winner!"

    Gardenia frowned and returned Turtwig. "You've got spunk, Koa, I'll give you that. But it's not the end yet. Go Roserade!"

    A Roserade emerged onto the battlefield in a flash of light. It spun in a circle, dramatically flourishing its flowers.

    Koa contemplated carefully. Roserade was the Pokémon he was most concerned about. It was her trump card, and stronger than the rest. Echo hadn't suffered too much damage, but he was hardly fresh either. Maybe Hazard could finish the job.

    "Alright Echo, take a rest. Hazard, finish her!" Hazard burst forth, sparks dancing across his fur.

    "String Shot." Hazard blasted a huge chunk of swirling webbing towards Roserade.

    "Weatherball," Gardenia said confidently. Roserade charged a swirling ball of fire between its hands. It hurled it at the web, burning through it easily. It continued on and smashed into Hazard.

    His Joltik cried out in pain as he was knocked back. Slowly, he got to his feet, his sides heaving. Koa gritted his teeth. Joltik couldn't last much longer after taking a hit like that. But perhaps there was a way to get a hit in before he fainted.

    "Do you trust me, Hazard?"

    Hazard looked back at him and nodded, his blue eyes sparkling with determination.


    Hazard summoned everything he had. The charge took a second longer than usual, and Koa guessed he was running out of charge. No matter, this battle would be over soon. Joltik launched the web across the battlefield, straight towards Roserade.

    "Really? That's all you got?" Gardenia called. "Destroy it again with Weatherball."

    Roserade grinned and fired another Weatherball. Koa smiled. Just as he hoped, Gardenia used the same counter. The two attacks collided in midair, creating a small explosion of smoke and light. "Quick Hazard, launch yourself with String Shot."

    Hazard nodded in understanding. He launched a precise string of webbing at a tree behind Roserade, using it to yank himself forward.

    "Now Bug Bite!"

    Hazard sailed forwards, pincers glowing. He emerged from the smoke created by the blast from Weatherball and Electroweb, straight for Roserade.

    Roserade's eyes widened in surprise. A split second later, Joltik collided with it, sinking his pincers into Roserade's body. It cried out in pain.

    "Get rid of it with Magical Leaf," Gardenia called.

    Still cringing from the bite, Roserade raised it's hand, aiming it awkwardly at Joltik, who still clung to its body. Koa knew there was no point in trying to dodge now. Joltik could never get away in time, his best bet was inflicting maximum damage. Roserade's hands glowed, and a volley of leaves shot out, knocking Hazard off. He landed a few feet away, unconscious.

    Koa smiled as he returned him. "Nice work, Hazard." Roserade was panting heavily, and looked fairly worn out. Hazard had done his job. Now Echo could finish it. He tossed out Echo's Pokéball confidently.

    Echo emerged, standing on the battlefield and glaring down his opponent. Roserade met his gaze evenly.

    Koa locked eyes with Gardenia from across the battlefield. Despite her situation, she still seemed calm. "So you think you have me cornered?"

    "Sure seems like it," Koa replied.

    Gardenia chuckled. "Let's find out! Roserade, Magical Leaf." Roserade blasted a flurry of leaves straight at Echo.

    "Charge and dodge, Echo." Echo flew forwards, spinning to the side to dodge the flurry of leaves. "Now, Wing Attack!" Golbat wings glowed and he struck Roserade hard, sending it flying. It crashed to the ground, sliding several feet.

    "Nice!" Koa pumped his fist. Roserade slowly pushed itself to its feet, its body trembling with the effort. It stood up straighter and cried out a challenge. Echo shrieked in reply.

    "Wing Attack, again," Koa called. One more hit could end this fight. Echo dived at Roserade.

    "Flash!" A bright light exploded from Roserade's hands, lighting up the entire stadium. Koa shaded his eyes with his hands. It faded after a moment, but the damage was done. Echo fluttered erratically about the stadium, his eyes screwed shut. His movements grew more erratic and he began to spin about in confusion. Koa muttered a curse. This wasn't good. Echo was panicking.

    "Weatherball," Gardenia called. Roserade charged up a fiery ball and hurled it at Echo.

    "Dodge!" Koa cried out in a panic. Echo spiraled awkwardly in the air but failed to escape the attack. It crashed into him, knocking him into the ground. Golbat shakily stood up and glanced frantically about.

    Gardenia grinned triumphantly. Panic began to grow inside Koa. Echo was panicking, and if he couldn't see, he couldn't dodge. He was a sitting Farfetch'd. As Koa stared at his friend, his heart hammered wildly. He'd come so far with him, he couldn't lose now. Then it struck Koa. A thought so obvious he burst out laughing. Gardenia stared at him in confusion. Koa ignored it, focusing on Golbat.

    He spoke quietly, his tone soothing. In addition to calming Echo, he didn't want Gardenia to hear him. "Hey Echo. I know you can't see right now and it's scary. But remember being a Zubat? You didn't need to see back then. Just relax and listen."

    Echo stopped glancing about, his tiny ears twitching. His body stilled, and when Koa finished speaking, he gave a low shree of acknowledgment.

    "Alright Echo, Confuse Ray," Koa said softly. He doubted the move would make contact, but it would serve as a good distraction. His eyes still closed, Echo charged a series of golden orbs and launched them at Roserade.

    "Magical Leaf, Roserade. Destroy it." Roserade shot a volley of leaves at orbs, shattering them.


    Echo shot forwards, straight at Roserade.

    "Poison Sting," Gardenia called. Roserade quickly shot a volley of tiny purple needles from its hands.

    "Dodge up, then right," Koa said.

    Echo pumped his wings, lifting him several feet into the sky. Roserade tried to follow the movement with Poison Sting, but Echo whirled right, dodging a second time. And then he was upon her. His jaws opened wide, fangs glowing with a black aura. Roserade gave a single shriek before being swallowed.

    "Spit it up in the air and use Wing Attack!" Echo spat out the battered Roserade, sending it soaring into the air. It flailed wildly as it started to fall back to earth. Echo lunged after it and struck it hard with Wing Attack. It crashed to the ground, finally unconscious. Echo landed and blinked a few times, the effects of Flash finally clearing. Seeing the defeated Roserade, he gave a cry of triumph.

    Koa leaped into the air, pumping his fist. "Yeah! You did it Echo." Echo shrieked again and flew over to him, landing on his shoulders. Koa almost buckled under the weight but stroked his friend appreciatively.

    "Roserade is unable to battle! Challenger Koamaru is the victor!" Lavender called.

    "What! But... how?" Gardenia cried. "I blinded your Pokémon!" As she spoke, she frowned sadly and returned Roserade. She crossed the battlefield to Koa and offered her hand.

    Koa shook it. "That might have worked if you were facing my Joltik, but not Echo. Golbat's hearing is sick. I realized after you used Flash that he could use his ears just as well as his eyes," Koa said.

    Gardenia chuckled, then smiled cheerfully. "Of course! I should have thought of that myself. " She withdrew a gleaming green object from her pocket and handed it to him. The Forest badge. "I might've said it before, but you're really tough! Wasn't it hard for you to raise your Pokémon to be so good? I guess that's a measure of how much you love your Pokémon."

    "Thanks," Koa said, a bit uncomfortably. Grinning widely, he accepted the badge. One more to go...

    "I believe this is yours too." She paused and turned, picking up a briefcase from Lavender, who had just arrived. She handed it to him, and Koa took it carefully. "That's your 10,000 poke."

    Koa gave a loud whoop.

    "Be careful." Gardenia chided, her voice serious. "There have been robberies lately. I don't recommend traveling with that very far."

    Koa nodded, then practically ran out of the gym, barely able to contain his elation.

    Half an hour later, he sat in a grassy area at the eastern edge of Eterna City, enjoying lunch with his Pokémon, and relishing the new bike he bought. He couldn't wait to take it to Cycling Road and really test it out. Although he still had one thing to do before leaving. Find a fighting type. He knew this area might have some, and a fighting type would really help against Roark. A grass type could work as well, or even water, but he wanted a fighting type badly. Or rather, he really wanted a Tyrogue. They were diverse and powerful, and any of its three evolutions would make an excellent addition to his team. Of course, they were fairly rare as well, but he was sure he could find one.

    Once he finished lunch, he packed up and headed east from Eterna. Route 211 featured canyons and valleys that stretched all the way to Celestic Town. However, he was only interested in the very first stretch, where his Pokédex said Tyrogue could be found. Once he arrived, he released Echo. Echo immediately did a little loop, then perched on Koa's back, making him stagger. "Alright, Echo. I'm hoping to find a Tyrogue before I face Roark again. Think you can help?" Echo shrieked in agreement and took off. Koa watched him go, then set to exploring himself.

    The hours dragged by. The sun dropped lower and lower into the sky until finally, night fell. Koa returned to Eterna, his shoulders sagging. Not a single Tyrogue. He'd seen a few Machop, which Echo defeated with ease, but no Tyrogue. He guessed he'd underestimated their rarity. As he sat in the room he rented for the night, he realized he had a choice to make. He could keep hunting for one, which could take days. Or he could head back to Oreburgh, earn his second badge, and get his Tyrunt. He took out his backpack and carefully withdrew the fossil from its special compartment. Stroking its rough surface, he dreamed of the magnificent addition to his team. New resolve filled him as he made his choice.

    "I'm coming for you Roark," he growled. And for you, Tyrunt.

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Absorb, Crunch, Wing Attack

    There you have it. After much work and training, Koa has earned his first badge. The real question is, can he beat Roark? As usual, thank you for reading. If you enjoyed, or just want to share your thoughts in general, feel free to shoot me a PM!

    BZRich64 likes this.
  5. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    I nearly forgot to keep posting the story here! oops! Here's two chapters at once, and I'll most likely try to post more tomorrow.

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Crunch, Absorb, Wing Attack

    Hazard (Male Joltik) {Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Koa stared at the long stretch of road before him. Cycling road. The only route in all of Sinnoh designed for bikers, tailored just for them. Unlike most of the routes crisscrossing the region, this road was smooth and flawless, its concrete pathway well maintained. A thick median split it down the middle, dividing two lanes of traffic-bikes coming and going. Breaks in the median allowed for riders to make u-turns. It was every cyclist's dream. The road had been designed at a slight incline towards Oreburgh, while the opposing side inclined towards Eterna. It wasn't enough to hurtle you forwards against your will, but once you got going, it was easy to keep going. It was also his fastest route home. Normally the nearly 60-mile walk would take almost three days. Here, it would barely take a day.

    "Ready for this?" He turned to his Pokémon, who stood by his side - a fierce Joltik, and an eager Zubat. They both gave cries of agreement. Koa grinned and took out their pokeballs, returning them. He planned to travel pretty fast, and he didn't want to risk anything happening to either of them.

    Koa took in the road before him one last time, then mounted his bike and pushed off, coasting down the hill. As he pedaled down the hill, he passed quite a few other travelers going about their business. He gazed across the edge of the road, taking in the scenery. The route bridged a forested valley, through which a winding river ran. A brief temptation seized him to pull off to the side and look closer, but the weight of his backpack reminded him of the fossil that it held, and his mission to resurrect it.

    Thoughts of a Tyrunt filling his head, he pedaled harder, picking up speed fast. For a good couple of hours, he kept a steady, even pace. Most of the trainers he passed were too focused on where they were traveling to ask for a battle. It wasn't until almost noon that he encountered a trainer who challenged him.

    His opponent was a cyclist named Nicole. She sent out a Starly, so Koa led with Hazard. As it turned out, her Starly was fairly new, and Hazard was able to defeat it after a couple of Electrowebs. Her next Pokémon, however, proved much more difficult. It was a rather sturdy Ponyta who was proving to be fast. So far, it hadn't landed a good hit, but neither had he.

    Hazard stood at one end of one of the rest areas, and Ponyta stood at the other. Both faced each other down, breathing hard, but still full of vigor. Koa knew Hazard couldn't keep this up forever, though. He could switch, but he wanted to practice fighting at a disadvantage. He would need the experience to fight Roark.

    "Not so easy to take down my starter, is it?" Nicole called, grinning proudly.

    "Hmph," Koa grumbled. "Don't get used to it."

    Hazard suddenly turned back to face him and chirped in determination, hopping up and down. Koa grinned in sudden understanding.

    "Use Tackle again!" Nicole shouted. Ponyta galloped forwards, its head lowered.

    Koa smiled. He trusted Hazard to handle this. Hazard stood stock still as Ponyta approached. At the very last second, he lunged forwards, straight between Ponyta's legs. Sticky webbing shot from his mouth, wrapping around Ponyta's legs as he did. Ponyta squealed in shock and crashed to the ground, hard. It thrashed wildly, but Hazard quickly launched more webbing, immobilizing it further.

    "Now Bug Bite," Koa said confidently.

    "Keep it away with Ember," Nicole said panickedly.

    Hazard, however, positioned himself carefully on Ponyta's neck, just out of its reach. Pincers glowing, he sunk his fangs in. Ponyta squealed in distress again and thrashed wildly, but Hazard clung on as determinedly as ever.

    "Finish it with Electroweb!" Koa called. Hazard sprang off and fired Electroweb. The attack struck the Ponyta squarely, pinning it in place and shocking it. A moment later, it fell still.

    "Yeah! That was amazing, Hazard!"

    Nicole sighed and returned Ponyta. "That was pretty impressive, I have to admit," she called.

    Koa grinned. "Thanks! But it was mostly my Joltik's idea." Hazard chirped happily and scurried up his leg and onto his shoulder. He stroked Hazard's fur and his fingers tickled with static. He was practically bursting with pride. Joltik had not only won the fight but given him the perfect idea for how to really utilize him in battle. By using his tiny size to his advantage, he could do things most Pokémon couldn't. Like fit between a Ponyta's legs.

    As he continued down Cycling Road, his mind whirled with new strategies and planning. He stopped briefly for lunch and let Hazard get in a good charge from his battery pack, then continued on. The day wore on. He ran into a couple of other trainers and was able to defeat most of them fairly easily. He realized taking on Gardenia first had made them rather strong for the trainers in this area.

    Day turned to dusk, and he let Echo out to fly behind him and get in some exercise. Another hour dragged by. In the distance, Koa could see the smaller mountains and foothills of Oreburgh. Finally. Almost there-

    A loud screech of warning yanked him out of his thoughts. He snapped back to reality just in time to see another biker swerve in front of him. Swerving sharply, he narrowly avoided a head-on collision. His bike spun out of control and he flew over his handlebars. Instinctively, he threw his hands over his head. A sudden pressure wrapped around his shoulders and he jerked to halt a half-inch away from smacking the pavement. The pressure vanished a second later and he fell to the ground, though with considerably less force. Puzzled, he rolled over to see Echo hovering anxiously above him. Laughing wearily, he reached up and patted him. "Thanks, buddy," he said, realizing just how much worse the accident could have been. Turning around, he glared at the offending biker.

    "What's your problem?" he shouted.

    The other rider, a young woman with straight blond hair and condescending eyes, turned and gave him a fake smile. She looked to be at least twenty. "You were the one who wasn't looking where you were going, sweetie."

    "What? You cut me off!" Koa exploded. He clenched his hands into fists. Echo shrieked angrily and glared at the woman.

    "Oh, I'm sorry sweetie, I didn't see you there." She tilted her head and blinked at him as if he were a small child. "Oh, what a... interesting Pokémon. Did you want to battle?"

    Rage boiled inside Koa at the sound of her tone. It dripped with blatant condescension. She spoke as if he was three years old and was being introduced to his first Pokémon. He dearly wanted to smack the attitude out of her. As it stood, he could at least run her for everything she was worth.

    "Yeah, let's battle. Winner takes all," he added with a growl.

    The woman grinned. "Sounds good. Show him up, Shinx!" The woman shouted. She tossed out a Pokéball and a Shinx emerged in a burst of light. Jealousy flickered inside Koa at the sight. It quickly faded, however. Unlike most of its species, this Shinx wore a smug smirk that resembled its trainer. It made the normally adorable Pokémon look almost ugly.

    Koa reached for Hazard's Pokéball, but Echo fluttered forwards, shrieking defiantly. "You want to fight her, buddy?" he asked, surprised. His Golbat nodded, his eyes gleaming eagerly. "Ok then, you're up."

    The woman laughed haughtily. "Hey sweetie, you do know that flying is weak to electric, right?"

    "You do know owning a Pokémon doesn't make you a Pokémon trainer, right?" he shot back.

    The woman frowned but appeared at a loss for words. Koa grinned and capitalized on the silence. "What's your name? I like to know who I'm about to defeat."

    "Megan," the woman replied, still managing to sound haughty. "You can go first," she added.

    A low growl rumbled in Koa's throat. "Confuse Ray!" Echo shot a trio of swirling gold orbs.

    "Dodge." Shinx nimbly leaped out of the way.

    Koa scowled. "Echo, Confuse Ray again." He was reluctant to let Echo get close, not when fighting an electric type. Once more, Shinx dodged.

    "Now, use Spark!" Megan called. Sparks crackled across Shinx's fur then cloaked it in electricity. It leaped from the air, straight for Echo.

    "Echo, dodge and use Wing Attack!" Echo spun neatly out of the way. Koa stared at his dodge, intrigued. A thought began to dawn on him. Unlike when other Pokémon he faced dodged, or even Hazard, Echo was different. Thanks to his naturally erratic flight patterns, he had a way of being unpredictable.

    He was snapped out of his thoughts by Echo's Wing Attack colliding with Shinx, knocking it back several feet. It shook its head, then grinned, barely fazed by the attack.

    Perhaps he could whittle it down. "Absorb!" Echo fired a red ray towards Shinx.

    "Dodge, my pretty," Megan said. Shinx jumped left, then right, then left again, dodging it each time. It grinned smugly, raising its head and closing its eyes for a split second. Echo lunged forwards, eyes burning in rage. His jaws gleamed purple, dripping toxic poison. Koa's eyes widened in surprise. He recognized the technique as Poison Fang, a deadly bite learned by only a few poison types. It wasn't as strong as other attacks, but it carried the potential to deliver toxic poison to a Pokémon.

    "Move!" Megan yelled. Shinx's eyes shot open. It froze, its mouth open in a look of shock that mirrored its trainer. A moment later, Echo sank his jaws into it. It squealed and writhed about, but Echo simply clamped his jaws tighter.

    "Spark!" The panicking Shinx covered himself in electricity, shocking Echo. Echo spat it out and screeched angrily. The Shinx landed heavily on the ground. It slowly stood up, but its eyes were glazed and a purple sheen covered its body. Poison Fang had done its job.

    "No! Shinx, get it again with Spark," Megan shouted. Her hair looked a bit disheveled now, and she was clearly in a state.

    As the weakened Shinx charged the attack, Koa chuckled. "Is that the only move it knows? Echo, take the hit and use Confuse Ray."

    Shinx feebly leaped up at Echo. The Golbat grinned, charging Confuse Ray. As Shinx hit him head-on, it crashed into the Confuse Ray as well. The battered Shinx dropped to the ground, landing on its side and twitching. It shocked itself twice in succession before falling unconscious. Echo landed in front of it, placing one of his claws on its body and shrieking in triumph.

    Megan scowled and returned Shinx. Wordlessly, she took the prize money out of her bag and handed it to Koa.

    Koa accepted it, unable to stop himself from smiling. "Thanks, sweetie," he called, as she departed. She shot him a furious look before hopping on her bike and pedaling angrily away. After she had gone, he turned to Echo. "That was sick, Echo! You learned Poison Fang!" Echo screeched happily and flapped into the air, landing on Koa's back. He licked his hair and emitted another happy screech.

    "Grooss," Koa said, laughing. He wiped off the saliva, then patted him. With Echo's new attack and Hazard's new strategy, he felt more confident than ever he could defeat Roark.

    The next morning, well-rested from his stay at the Pokémon Center the night before, he entered Oreburgh Gym. Ten minutes later, he stood once again on the battlefield, facing Roark. This time, he felt complete and utter surety. The battle wouldn't be easy, but his little trip had given him plenty of new ideas for strategies. Using them would be the only way to defeat Roark when he was at such a disadvantage.

    After the referee had declared the basic rules, Koa put down a bet of 1000 poke. Enough to have a bit of spending money, but since he wasn't exactly poor at the moment, he didn't bother with a larger wager.

    With a blast of a horn, the battle began. Just as he hoped, Roark led with Geodude.

    "Hazard, come on out." Koa tossed out Hazard's Pokéball. After his last battle against Roark, he'd given his strategy plenty of thought. Hazard was much stronger than the last time he faced the gym. All he needed was a couple of super-effective Absorb attacks. The real trick would be overcoming Geodude's mobility. But he had a plan for that as well.

    "An intriguing choice. I'll let you go first," Roark said.

    "Bug Bite," Koa said. Hazard darted across the battlefield towards Geodude, his pincers glowing.

    "Dodge it with Dig," Roark called.

    Geodude grunted and disappeared underground. Hazard paused his charge and narrowed his eyes.

    Koa grinned. He hoped Geodude would try the same tactic again. "Up and use String Shot," Hazard nodded and jumped upwards. Aiming straight down, he fired a huge mass of sticky web. A second later, Geodude burst from the ground directly beneath Joltik. His eyes widened in surprise as he collided head on with the web. He struggled futilely and crashed back to the ground, immobilized.

    "Absorb. Don't let up," Koa said. Hazard landed on the bound up Geodude. His eyes glowed red, and Geodude glowed as well, as his energy was quickly sapped.

    "Get out of there, Boulder," Roark cried.

    Geodude roared in pain, exerting all its strength. A full five seconds later, it managed to wrench itself free. It was too late, however. As soon as he broke free, he collapsed from exertion, out cold.

    "Geodude is unable to battle. Koamaru is the winner."

    Roark smiled and returned Geodude. "You've gotten a lot better, Koa. But can you win?"

    He took a Pokéball from his belt. "Let's see how you fare against this. Go Cranidos!" He tossed out the Pokéball. With a flash of blue light, a small blue and gray dinosaur emerged. It roared a challenge before grinning at its opponent.

    Koa's eyes widened in surprise. He'd expected Onix. Well, he'd just have to adapt.

    "Feel like switching?" Roark asked.

    "I'll stick with Hazard," Koa replied. Hazard chittered and glared at Cranidos.

    The referee raised his hand. "Battle, begin."

    "Electroweb!" Koa shouted. Hazard fired a blast of electrified webbing towards Cranidos.

    Roark remained unfazed. "Break through with Zen Headbutt." Cranidos growled and charged forward, his head glowing blue. The two attacks collided in an explosion of smoke. A second later, Cranidos emerged, damaged but still strong.

    "Dodge!" Koa cried frantically. Hazard tried to move, but it was too late. Zen Headbutt collided with him, knockin him into a rock on the battlefield. He slid to the ground, momentarily stunned.

    "Come on Hazard," Koa begged. After a moment, Hazard crawled to his feet unsteadily. He gave a cry of determination and glared at Cranidos.

    "Not bad, your Joltik is tougher than I expected. But I doubt he can outlast Cranidos," Roark said.

    Koa ignored the comment. "Use Absorb." Joltik's eyes glowed red, the same glow enveloping Cranidos. Cranidos flinched in pain as his energy was leeched.

    Roark gave his command just as the attack subsided. Headbutt." Cranidos charged across the ground faster than Koa expected.

    "Slow it with String Shot," Koa called. Joltik opened his jaws and covered the ground in front of Cranidos in sticky webbing. Cranidos stampeded over it, its feet sticking to the web. Though not enough bring it to a stop, it did slow Cranidos down substantially. "Grab on!" he shouted, just as Headbutt connected. The attack hit hard, but Joltik managed to latch onto Cranidos' head anyway. Koa grinned. Joltik certainly lived up to their title of 'Attaching Pokémon".

    "Absorb again!" From his spot on Cranidos' skull, Hazard began frantically leeching its energy.

    Roark's eyes widened as he realized what was happening. "Shake it off!" Cranidos screeched and thrashed his head about wildly. Hazard shut his eyes and dug in, refusing to let go. Cranidos' struggles began to weaken, and Koa grinned. Just a little more...

    "Head Smash it into the rocks."

    Koa balked. Head Smash? He didn't expect Roark's Cranidos to know such an advanced technique.

    Cranidos' whole body became cloaked in energy. With a defiant roar, he flung himself at the nearest boulder. The rock exploded, sending smoke and flecks of pebbles flying. Koa gritted his teeth. No way was Hazard still standing after something like that.

    As the smoke cleared, his suspicions were confirmed. Hazard lay unconscious in front of the shattered remains of the rock.

    Cranidos shook its head, its eyes drooping with exhaustion. It gave a weak roar of triumph, then collapsed. Roark groaned.

    The referee raised both hands. "Both Cranidos and Joltik are unable to battle. The match is a tie!"

    Grinning madly, Koa returned Hazard. Although the battle hadn't gone quite as he hoped, he'd still managed to take down Cranidos, Roark's toughest Pokémon. "Good job, Hazard," he murmured, putting the Pokéball away. He looked up, staring down Roark, who grinned back at him.

    "That was a pretty great strategy, clinging to Cranidos like that. I have to say, you caught me off guard."

    "Better get ready to hand over that badge," Koa replied.

    Roark took out his final Pokéball. "I'm not giving up yet. Go Rocky!" He tossed out the Pokéball. A familiar Onix emerged with a roar.

    Koa grimaced. He'd hoped to have both Hazard and Echo available for this fight. Still, he was confident Echo could handle this.

    "Go Echo!" Echo emerged onto the battlefield with his trademark screech. When he saw his opponent, however, he faltered and backed up slightly. Koa guessed he was remembering his last fight with the behemoth. "I've got your back this time, Echo," he said.

    Echo turned to glance back at him and screeched happily. He faced his opponent confidently.

    "Battle, begin," The referee called.

    "Wing attack," Koa said.

    Echo dived at Onix, wings glowing.

    "Catch it with Slam, Rocky!"

    Koa grinned and stayed silent. He'd worked with Echo enough that he knew what to do. Echo swiveled out of the way, only getting grazed by the attack. His wings made contact, though Onix hardly seemed bothered.

    "Poison Fang, quick."

    Roark's eyes widened as he heard the attack. "Slam, again." Onix swung its tail too fast to dodge.

    This time, the attack connected full force with Echo. However, Echo weathered the hit, sinking his jaws into its tail. Though it did little damage, thanks to Onix's tough hide, Koa could tell by the way the Onix groaned that it had been poisoned. Now it was a matter of outlasting it.

    "Let's see if you can really outlast my Onix," Roark said. "Rocky, Rock Throw." Onix growled and began to levitate several stones in the air. It hurled them at Echo.

    "Crunch, destroy them," Koa said. As each rock flew at him, Echo sunk his jaws into it, shattering them. One made contact, knocking Echo back, but he managed to avoid the worst of it.

    "Fly up Echo, and avoid his attacks."

    And so began an elaborate game. Onix hurling attacks at Echo, who desperately dodged each one, and Echo struggling to keep up his strength. A few connected, damaging him, but he remained in the air. After a couple of minutes, both Pokémon were worn down. Echo was breathing heavily, and Onix could barely hold itself upright from the poisoning.

    "Rock Throw, one more time." Onix hurled a boulder straight for Echo.

    "Wing Attack!" Echo spun midair and struck the rock with a glowing wing, hurling it straight back at Onix. It shattered over Onix's head, causing Onix to roar in pain.

    "Confuse Ray," Koa called. One more attack could end this. Echo fired the golden orb, striking Onix dead on. It roared again, its eyes glazed over. With another cry, it hurled itself against one of the few remaining rocks in the stadium. The rock shattered and Onix slumped to the ground, knocked out.

    The referee cleared his throat. "Onix is unable to battle. Golbat is the winner. As such, the victor is Koamaru!"

    "Yes!" Koa yelled. "Nice job, Echo." Echo screeched happily and fluttered onto Koa's back, bringing him to his knees. "I knew you could do it." Echo screeched happily again. Koa rubbed his fur and looked up at Roark, who had returned Onix and was approaching him.

    "Those were some impressive strategies you displayed. It's not every day someone challenges a rock-type gym with a bug type and a flying type." He held out his hand.

    Koa took it, and Roark pulled him to his feet. "Listen..." he rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably, trying not to look Roark in the eyes. "I'm sorry about how I behaved before. You were just trying to give me good advice, and I ignored you."

    Roark grinned good-naturedly. "I'm just glad you seemed to have learned your lesson. And, I believe these are yours." From inside his jacket pocket, he withdrew two objects. One, a pouch of money, and two, a small, shining badge. It vaguely resembled a boulder, with Pokéball like lines encircling it. "The Coal badge. Don't let it get to your head though. I'm still not reviving your fossil until you show me two badges."

    A sly smile spread across Koa's face, and he slid his badge case out of his pocket. Flipping it open, he gestured dramatically to the Forest Badge. Then he placed the Coal badge inside as well. "See? Two badges."

    Roark gasped. "You beat Gardenia?"

    "It was easy with Hazard and Echo's help," Koa said.

    Roark nodded. "Not bad. Well then, now that you have two badges, a promise is a promise. Let's see to your fossil."


    Once inside Oreburgh museum, he followed Roark past the various displays, to the rear of the museum and through a door marked 'Staff only'. They descended a flight of stairs. At the bottom, a long corridor lit by white fluorescent bulbs stretched before them, and thick glass windows allowed a peek inside various labs. Roark led him to a sliding door with a plaque reading 'Revival Lab'. Unlike some of the other labs, there was no glass window allowing a glimpse inside.

    Roark knocked on the door, then called out, "Jared? It's Roark."

    A few moments later, the door slid open revealing a short man with glasses and long grayish black hair. The lighting gave his light skin an even paler look, and Koa wondered how often he got out of the lab. Behind him, Koa could see several desks with computers, and various rows of equipment.

    "Ahh, Roark. Always a pleasure to see you down here. What can I help you with?"

    "A friend of mine would like to revive a fossil. This is Koa. He discovered a Jaw fossil in Ore Cavern."

    "Really? How odd. I've not known Tyrunt to be found anywhere on Sinnoh. How odd..." he murmured. "And Ore Cavern of all places. Hmm..."

    Jared, murmuring to himself as he turned and walked into the lab. The room itself seemed like a pretty average lab, but what caught his eye was the machine on the far side, behind a set of keypad locked double doors and a thick plastic window. It was huge and advanced looking, consisting of a small metal cube-like contraption on one side, hooked to a far larger metal box by various tubes and wires.

    "If you would hand me the specimen please."

    Koa dragged his eyes off the machine and unslung his backpack, gently removing the fossil. He handed it to Jared.

    "Excellent. This will only take a few minutes. I must admit, I am terribly excited. We've never revived a Kalosian fossil here before." Jared strode to the door and punched in a few digits on the keypad. They slid open and he stepped inside, walking over to the smaller of the two metal containers. Koa hurried to the plastic window. With the press of a button, a tray slid out from the machine. Jared carefully placed the fossil inside and closed the tray. He typed in something on a panel at the front of the machine, then stepped back.

    Bright flashes of light pulsed from the machine and it whirred and beeped loudly, before settling into a steady, low hum. Very little happened for the next several minutes, and Koa found himself growing quickly bored.

    Loud alarms blared, and the lights overhead flickered. There was a distant noise, like a dull boom, and the room went dark. The machine's hum grew into a high pitched whine before it exploded. Shards of debris hammered against the glass and door and Koa ducked.

    "Jared!" Roark shouted. A low hum filled the room as the backup generators kicked in, and orange light filled the room from safety lights ringing the room. Through the glass, Koa could see no sign of Jared. The machine had turned to a heap of smoking, twisted metal. He followed Roark to the door as he typed in the code. The doors slid open and he covered his nose as he stepped into the smoke filled room.

    Koa held his breath, his eyes burning as he peered through the smoke, which was only growing denser. He thought he saw orange flames licking at the remnants of the machine, but he wasn't sure. Roark moved slowly about the room, desperately calling for Jared. A high pitched squealing roar filled the room, and something large brushed by Koa's leg. He yelped and leaped away, almost crashing into Roark, who was picking up a stunned Jared off the floor.

    "Watch it! We have to get him out of here. Help me lift him, and keep him still."

    Carefully as he could, Koa threw Jared's arm over his shoulder, helping him out of the room. Roark lay him on the floor outside. Koa glanced up and yelped in shock.

    Just a few feet away, by the room's exit, stood a stocky, reptilian Pokémon. Dark brown scales covered its body, which vaguely resembled Roark's Cranidos, except its head was far larger, and its legs were thick and powerful. It roared again, then charged at the doors, smashing into them and warping the frame severely. Jamming its jaws into the gap, it tore the door apart with its jaws, creating a hole big enough to fit through.

    Koa gaped at it, unable to believe it. He'd read books about the strength of a Tyrunt's jaws, but seeing it in person was far more impressive, and frightening.

    Roark cursed and looked up from Jared. "Koa! That's your Tyrunt! It must be trying to escape. You go catch up to it. I'll keep an eye on him!"

    Shaking himself, Koa scrambled to his feet and nodded. He raced out the door, barely hearing Roark's command to be careful. He sprinted down the corridor, taking the steps up to the ground floor two at a time. Emerging onto the ground floor, he was met with chaos.

    Large crowds of patrons were all surging towards the exit. Their voices filled the air with a cacophony of sound, and Koa covered his ears. A few officers were desperately trying to calm the crowds with little luck, and between the dull backup lights and the roar of the crowds, no one was really listening. Screams erupted from the people near the exit.



    "Get the kids!" a young woman's voice screamed.

    "Move!" Koa shouted, barreling through the crowds and pushing people aside.

    "Sir please-" an officer began. He ignored the words, brushing past and plunging into the crowds. After a great deal of jostling and shoving, he broke free and staggered out of Oreburgh museum, his heart beating wildly in his chest. He looked left and right, before shouts of surprise drew his attention farther down the street, to his right. Tyrunt stormed down the street in a wild rush, in the direction of the north gate. Koa bolted after it, shouting for it to stop.

    Weaving through the streets, he followed as best as he could, although he nearly lost sight of it twice, and it was running faster than him. The only thing that prevented him from losing sight of it entirely was the fact that it would stop every so often as it tried to figure out where to go. As the western wall of the city drew near, Tyrunt swerved sharply north, straight for the gate. Which, unfortunately, was wide open, since it was during a busy hour of the day, and Route 207 was relatively peaceful. Tyrunt made it through the gates long before he could even cry out for the guards to close them. Steeling himself, he continued through the gate.

    At the very least, it was out of the city now, and hopefully out of danger. As he ascended the rocky slope outside town however, he quickly lost sight of the Pokémon. Once at the top, he stopped, looking all around. His breath came in short gasps, and his limbs ached, but he couldn't give in now. To his right, a rocky valley extended, and he could just make out one of the many entrances to the inner caves of Mt. Coronet. Ahead, tall grass and trees spread evenly before him, before sloping downwards, forming a valley, over which Cycling Road ran. Considering the speed at which Tyrunt had been running, and its head start, it could easily be long gone.

    For a moment, Koa feared that he'd lost the Tyrunt for good when he spotted footprints heading north. The ground sloped sharply down, and Koa could see the remnants of an old path that followed underneath Cycling Road. In the softer parts of the ground, he could just make out more of Tyrunt's footprints, following the path.

    Immediately, Koa broke into a run, but he was forced to slow only a few minutes later. He wasn't sure how far away Tyrunt was, and he didn't want to expend all his energy. For several minutes he kept a steady jog through the valley. The deeper he got, the more the noises of Cycling Road grew distant, and the harder it became to spot the footprints. He began to see more wild Pokémon as well-several bird Pokémon out hunting, and the musical tones of Kricketunes and Kricketots calling to one another. He even saw a few Stunky glaring at him from the bushes, but he ignored them. The tree dotting the slopes became thicker and denser, and he only saw more and more wild Pokémon. He longed for his backpack, with his supplies and food inside. No time for regrets now. At least he had his Pokémon.

    As he crested a slight rise in the ground, he spotted a herd of Rapidash and Ponyta. They were grazing at the base of the hill, several yards ahead and below.

    At first glance, he thought the herd small, but the longer he looked, the more he saw, scattered all about, some in the trees and some in the open. There had to be at least fifty. A small movement in the woods just east of the herd caught his attention. Tyrunt crouched downwind of a Ponyta who had wandered away from the herd.

    The sight filled Koa with fear. Alone, he had no doubt a rock and dragon type like Tyrunt could take down a Ponyta, and likely even a Rapidash. But against a herd? They could badly injure it. And probably would too. While wild Pokémon weren't normally dangerous, if one felt sufficiently threatened, they could pose a serious threat.

    Barely had he processed what he was seeing when Tyrunt emerged from the wood, running straight for the Ponyta. Almost instantly, the entire herd stopped eating, their heads jerking up as they stood erect. A loud neigh echoed through the valley, and the herd split. Most raced away, heading into the woods to the west, although a group of three Rapidash stayed behind. The strongest of the herd he guessed, judging by their size. The Ponyta sprang away, racing after the rest of the herd. Tyrunt gave chase, then stopped short as one of the Rapidash blocked its path.

    Koa held his breath and began to edge down the slope towards Tyrunt. Maybe, if Tyrunt surrendered and backed down, the Rapidash might let it leave. His hopes were dashed seconds later when Tyrunt roared and leaped for the Rapidash, his jaws glowing with energy. The Rapidash kicked out hard with his front hooves, striking Tyrunt hard and knocking it back.

    Koa let out a yell and charged down the hill towards the group. All three Rapidash turned away from Tyrunt for a moment, then one moved towards him and reared up, neighing threateningly. Koa didn't slow, and much to his horror and frustration, the attack had only made Tyrunt angrier. It charged at the Rapidash again.

    The Rapidash's mane flared up, and his body became wreathed in flame. He charged at Tyrunt, overwhelming it with sheer power and sending it flying into a tree.

    However, Koa no longer had time to concentrate on Tyrunt. He was nearly at the base of the hill now, and the other Rapidash was only a few yards away. It lowered its head and charged.

    Koa stopped and jumped sideways, but the rapidash moved much faster than he was ready for. Pain exploded across his torso as it collided with his body. The impact knocked him down hard, and he crashed into the ground. There was a frightening crunching noise as he rolled over and stopped. A moan escaped him and he lay still for a few seconds, trying to collect himself. His senses felt dulled, and the world seemed distant. The pained cries of Tyrunt drew him out of his stupor. He staggered to his feet and reached for his pokeballs, cursing himself for not using his Pokémon earlier. Instead of smooth round spheres, his hands met three cracked pokeballs. He jerked his hand back, looking down in horror. All three pokeballs had cracks webbing them and running through the button on front, as well as chips in a several areas where the inner casing could be seen.

    A sick feeling churned in his stomach. The opening mechanisms were ruined. His Pokémon would be fine, after a trip to a Pokéball repair shop, but with them in such a state, it would be impossible for his Pokémon to leave their pokeballs. Tyrunt screamed in pain and Koa looked up.

    The fossil Pokémon lay some distance away, near the base of a large boulder. A web of cracks showed where Tyrunt had been knocked into it, and the three Rapidash stood just a few yards away, glaring at its nearly motionless form. Tyrunt itself was badly battered and burned, and a nasty looking gash ran from its shoulder down its side. Still, Tyrunt stood and snarled weakly.

    The lead Rapidash neighed defiantly and stamped his hoof. Koa drew a shuddering breath. This wasn't like a battle. This was a wild Pokémon, forced to defend itself in any way necessary. Rapidash prepared to charge. In Tyrunt's state, such an attack could seriously injure it, or kill it.

    "Get away!" he screamed, charging forwards. He lunged for Tyrunt, wrapping his arms around it and struggling to lift it and pull it out of the way. Unfortunately, it was extremely heavy, and before he had even stood up fully, he felt the Rapidash crash into him. Heat seared across his back and the force threw him forward, his body hitting the boulder. Pain exploded across his body and he crashed to the ground. In a daze, he looked up to see the furious Rapidash preparing to charge again. Fear froze him in place.

    Instinctively, he closed his eyes and braced for the worst.

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    The sound of distant murmurings and faint but steady beeping brushed the edge of Koa's consciousness. Part of him felt weary and groggy, and he longed to simply roll over and slip into the comfortable darkness again. But with noise, came awareness, and with awareness, pain. As he shifted, hoping to fall asleep once more, a powerful, throbbing pain thundered through his skull. He took in a sharp breath, and a tight pain clenched around his chest. Slowly, gently, he breathed out again, then in. With each breath, the initial pain dulled, though it didn't fade completely.

    The sounds around him grew more distinct, separating into mechanical and human noises, as well as Pokémon. The dull murmur of voices blended with faint beeping. With great care, he forced his eyes open. Dull, soft yellow light filled his vision, along with a mess of blurred shapes. He blinked a few times until his vision cleared somewhat and he was able to distinguish his surroundings. Plain white ceiling and walls, spotless pale blue floors, and an odd machine with a display screen by his bedside. Crisp, stiff white sheets were draped over his body. His mind fumbled for the word. A few seconds later, it came to him. Hospital. He was at a hospital.

    Koa turned his head and grimaced as a dull ache filled his head. To his left lay an open curtain around his bed and past that, a closed doorway. Through a small window in the door, nurses occasionally walked by, sometimes with a Pokémon. He glanced to his right, moving his head little as possible. A window in the wall provided a view to the outside, although blinds blocked out all but a few slim tendrils of bright light. Was it day out? How long had he been here? And why was he in a hospital?

    Biting his lip, Koa thought back as far as he could. He'd beaten Roark, then followed him to the Oreburgh Museum for something... Right. His fossil. He'd gone to have the Jaw Fossil he found revived. With that revelation came the memory of entering the revival room, and handing his fossil over to be revived.

    Beyond that, however, he remembered nothing. He let out a slow sigh and shifted slightly in the bed. For the first time, he became aware of bandages covering his back. There was distant, itchy pain, but it didn't bother him nearly so much as his headache or sore torso. Maybe he'd been in an accident of some kind? And where were his Pokémon? There was no sign of them or their pokeballs.

    "Hey!" His voice came out in a dry croak, and he licked his lips and swallowed. "Hey? Anyone there?" Irritation festered in him. He was thirsty, hungry, and generally confused. He wanted proper clothes, and he missed his Pokémon.

    Just as he was about to get up and try to find someone, the door opened with a faint squeak. A figure walked in. As he drew nearer to the bed, Koa got a closer look.

    The figure was a young woman with wavy red hair tied into twin buns on top of her head. She looked to be around 30. A pair of sport sunglasses were perched on her head, and she wore a traditional white doctor's coat with a red cross-stitched on the chest. Her frame seemed oddly muscular for a doctor, but the thought was quickly pushed aside in favor of questions.

    "Why am I in a hospital?" was his first.

    "Please, relax. My name is Maria, and I'm a neurological expert at the hospital," she said. Her voice was gentle and a bit high pitched. She spoke with a slight accent, but he couldn't remember where he'd heard it. Definitely not native to Sinnoh though. "I'll answer your question, but first I have to ask you a few questions. Are you a boy or a girl?"

    "What?" he exploded. "What kinda question is that?"

    She laughed, almost doubling over. "Just kidding," she said, smiling brightly. In a more serious tone, she continued. "What is your name?"

    "Koamaru Averon," he replied, squelching his frustration.

    "Who is the current leader of Sinnoh, and Champion?"

    "Hah. That's easy. Cynthia."

    "What are the three basic elemental types?"

    "Fire, water, grass. Are we done yet?"

    "Soon. How old are you?"


    She nodded and wrote something on a clipboard in her hand. "And what is today's date?"

    After a few seconds of consideration, he shrugged painfully. "June? I think?"

    "Close enough. Don't worry, I don't expect you to know the exact date. I just wanted to assess your condition."

    "Now will you tell me why I'm here? And where are my Pokémon?"

    "Your Pokémon are all fine."

    Koa breathed a sigh of relief. One less thing to worry about. "Where are they then? And what happened to me?"

    "Your Pokémon are downstairs in the Pokémon Wing of this hospital. We would have taken them to the Pokémon Center, but once we repaired their pokeballs, they wouldn't go far."

    "Repaired their pokeballs?"

    "You were attacked by wild Rapidash and their pokeballs were cracked during the fight."

    At her words, memories surfaced. The sound of a Pokémon crying out. A Rapidash charging at him. Burning pain and something crashing into him. Running, trying to catch something. The memories were more like snapshots then a full memory, but now he could get a general idea of what happened. An image formed in his mind of seeing Rapidash surrounding an injured Pokémon, preparing to charge. His Pokémon. The Tyrunt he'd had revived.

    "My Tyrunt!" he cried, sitting bolt upright, ignoring the dull wave of pain that accompanied the movement. A brief wave of dizziness swept over him.

    Maria stepped forward, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Calm down, or you'll make yourself worse. The Tyrunt is fine, luckily. It'll be a day or two before she's properly healed, but otherwise, she will make a full recovery. I didn't realize she belonged to you."

    "Yeah uh, I was at Oreburgh Museum to revive her fossil..." his voice trailed off as he pondered what Maria had said. "She? My Tyrunt is female?"

    Maria nodded. "Also, once you feel up to it, the local police would like to talk to you."

    "Police? What for? I didn't do anything," he protested.

    "Of course, you wouldn't remember. The museum was robbed. Several fossils were stolen, among other items. The police and Roark have been speaking to witnesses."

    "How long have I been here?" Koa asked.

    "Not long." Maria said. "Roark brought you in earlier today. You're basically just bruised up from your little fight with the Rapidash. Maybe next time, you should think about having your Pokémon do the battling, hmm?" She grinned at him cheerfully.

    Koa slowly lay back down in bed, a sudden weariness overtaking him. His anger dissipated, replaced by exhaustion. His Pokémon were safe, as was Tyrunt, and he was alive.

    Maria started for the door.

    Koa glanced over at her drowsily. "When can I leave?"

    "Tomorrow evening. You really only have to stay overnight, so the medicine we gave you can finish healing you. Good thing humans are so tough huh?"

    That was enough for now. His eyes closed, and he drifted off to sleep. The rest of the day passed by in a bit of a daze. The nurses brought him a bit of a late lunch, which he nibbled at. After lunch, sleep utterly evaded him, so he watched TV. For a few minutes, he watched The National Sinnoh News. There were an assortment of reports, ranging from swarms of Pokémon to weather and traffic reports. There was a special on the christening of a new cruise ship, the S.S. Blackbird. He changed channels, stopping on Oreburgh Local News. A reporter stood in front of the museum, talking.

    "...ago, the Oreburgh Museum, known for its impressive coal exhibit and fossil revival capabilities, was robbed. According to local Gym Leader Roark, who was on the premises at the time, the police are working diligently to recover the stolen items, which range from fossils to rare gems and other priceless artifacts. Police are still investigating possible suspects, and have declined to comment so far. In other news..." he changed channels until he settled on an old cop show he used to watch.

    At some point, he dozed off, and awoke when a nurse came in to take his dinner order. None of the orders sounded appetizing, and he was forced to settle for a burger and some sort of berry dessert. When his meal came, he picked at it, barely eating half. His stomach felt queasy, and his back burned. He wondered where Blake was, or if anyone told him what happened. When Maria came back, he'd ask her.

    As the night dragged on, and good tv became scarcer, he found it hard to sleep. The bed wasn't particularly comfortable, and he always felt slightly too hot or slightly too cold. Finally, sometime after midnight, sheer exhaustion won out, and he drifted into a fitful sleep.

    After breakfast, Maria came back to check on him. She told him that Blake had been informed, but had yet to actually show up at the hospital and that he could leave later today. When he begged to see his Pokémon, she refused, insisting he wasn't allowed until after he'd recovered. Then he was forced to take some more tests, which he grudgingly did. Afterward, he took a walk down the hospital hallways before returning to his room. As he wandered past other rooms and saw people visiting or nurses with Pokémon, he only felt more lonely, so he returned to his room. There was still an hour or two to go before he would be released, so he decided to nap. He had just begun to doze off when the sound of the door squeaking and footsteps awoke him.

    Koa opened his eyes and glanced toward the door. Blake stood there, staring at him. For a moment, his cousin didn't say anything. He stood, staring, his posture stiff. Then he clenched his fists, striding towards the bed. "What were you thinking? No, forget that, clearly you weren't thinking! How many times do I have to tell you? Stop rushing into things. Be smart, watch what you're doing! This isn't a game, Koa. You could have been killed."

    Anger bubbled up inside Koa, and he glared at his cousin. "What did you expect me to do, let my Pokémon get hurt? I had to do something, or my Tyrunt could have been killed! Besides, I'm not dead. Who cares what could have happened? Whatever happened, happened. Stop making mountains out of Drilbur holes!"

    "How can you be so..." he shook his hand in the air in frustration. "-stupid! Next time you might not be so lucky."

    Koa's scowl deepened. "Geez, if you just came here to complain and shout at me, why even come? Just go back to your research." He clenched his jaw and turned away from Blake, at least as much as he could without causing himself too much pain. Tears began to form in his eyes, and he forced himself not to blink or let Blake see how upset he was.

    A tense silence hung over the room, broken only by the beep of the machines, and Blake's heavy breathing. "I'm sorry Koa. I was just-"

    "I don't want to hear it." Koa snapped. "I'm tired. Let me rest."

    Blake gave a long sigh, then walked out of the room. Wiping his eyes with his arm, Koa blinked several times. Why did his cousin have to get like that? It felt like nothing he did was right. He hadn't even asked how the accident happened! Hot tears gathered in his eyes. He swallowed and brushed them away. Pull yourself together. He pushed aside his bitterness and focused on thinking about his Pokémon, and where he would go next.

    Hearthome seemed like it was the next logical choice, although it was far away, and would require a hike across Mt. Coronet. Of course, there was the option of taking one of the buses to Hearthome, but that left no room for training, exploring, or much sightseeing. Maybe he could join one of the hiking groups that regularly crossed the mountains? Nah. Better to take his own path. Besides, he was dying to explore at least some of Mt. Coronet. Soon, he fell asleep, dreaming of wandering the mountains and seeing legendary Pokémon.

    The next time someone came into his room, it was Maria. "Good news Koamaru. All your tests came back fine, so you can leave today. If you would like, you can change into your regular clothes and we'll get you checked out."

    A half-hour later, he'd changed, signed all the necessary papers, and was on his way to the Pokémon Wing.

    The Pokémon Wing consisted of a large glass dome, connected to the hospital by a hallway. Inside was a sort of greenhouse, with a miniature lush forest. Two smaller sections had also been created for different types, such as a cooler indoor spot for ice types, a tank for water types, and a warm sandy area for Pokémon who preferred heat. The entire area was sectioned off, and attendants and nurses moved about, playing with the Pokémon or tending to injuries. He stepped inside the fence.

    A loud screech echoed through the enclosure and something crashed into Koa. He staggered back and grunted. Opening his eyes, he saw it was Echo, who had wrapped his small talons tightly on Koa's shoulder, clinging on. He rubbed his head and chuckled. "I missed you too Echo."

    A moment later, Hazard leaped from a tree and scurried over to him, nuzzling his foot. Grinning, he knelt down and ruffled Hazard's fur. One of the attendants, a middle-aged woman, quirked her eyebrow at him. "You must be his trainer. That Joltik hasn't let anyone touch him in the past two days."

    Koa smiled. "Sounds like Hazard alright. He's not very affectionate to most people."

    The attendant chuckled. "Obviously you're Koamaru Averon then? Maria said you'd be stopping by. These are their pokeballs. They've been repaired, but be careful. You might want to consider investing in Great Balls." The attendant handed him two pokeballs.

    Koa nodded as he took them from her. "Ok sure. Where's my Tyrunt?" he asked excitedly.

    "Right. Follow me." The attendant said. She led him to a smaller building, consisting mostly of a hallway with rooms lining it. Large windows allowed a view into each room. She stopped in front of the first one. Through the window, he spotted Tyrunt curled up on a small bed. Her eyes were closed and her sides rose and fell steadily. All the wounds from the Rapidash seemed to have healed fine, which didn't surprise him, since Pokémon were fast healers. However, a faint scar ran along her torso, barely noticeable as a faded line running across her scales.

    "The scar was a serious wound, so it did leave a slight scar. Other than that, she has been healing well. We gave her something to keep her calm, and all her wounds have healed. You're free to take her home."

    Koa smiled widely. His first fossil Pokémon. "Awesome, thanks. Does she have a Pokéball?" The attendant nodded and stepped inside the room. She took an odd-looking Pokéball from a case near the bed and pressed a button, returning Tyrunt. She stepped out of the room and handed him the ball. Koa examined it closer. It was dark brown, almost black in color, ringed by a black line around the center. The front sported a golden helix shape. He recognized it as a helix fossil.

    "What's this?"

    "A new Pokéball Roark and his team engineered. A Fossil Ball. Designed to help fossil Pokémon feel safe and comfortable."

    "Cool!" he clipped the ball to his belt.

    After bidding the attendant farewell, he hurried out of the hospital, quite eager to leave. He didn't bother returning his Pokémon to their balls either. They seemed to miss him, and the feeling was mutual. As he strolled through the city, heading to a small part just outside the southern edge, Hazard nestled himself comfortably into his hair. Echo flew in happy loops above his head, stopping occasionally to perch on his shoulders or cling to his back. Tyrunt however, he kept in her Pokéball. Better to get somewhere away from the crowds and noise, just in case. He headed to a secluded spot outside the city, a clearing surrounded by sparse woods.

    Koa turned to face his Pokémon. "Alright everyone. Make sure you give Tyrunt her space. I don't want her to feel threatened or nervous."

    His Pokémon all moved back several paces, and Echo perched a few feet away. By this point, Koa's excitement was boiling over, and he couldn't contain himself any longer. Unclipping the Fossil Ball from his belt, he tossed it dramatically into the air, releasing Tyrunt.

    She lay curled in the same position he'd last seen her, her tail wrapped around her body, almost touching her snout and her legs tucked underneath her. Gleaming black eyes flicked open, and she sprang to her feet, scanning her surroundings. A low growl rumbled in her throat, and she bared her teeth.

    Koa reached towards her. "Hey, calm down. My name is-"

    She roared and lunged at him. He yanked his hand back, narrowly missing getting bitten. Hazard tensed up, and Echo moved forwards, but Koa motioned for him to stay back before turning to Tyrunt.

    "Whoa relax! I'm not trying to hurt you. I want to be friends." He held out his hand again, but she snapped her jaws threateningly, glaring at him. Koa frowned and sat back, then retrieved a pouch of jerky. He tossed a piece to Tyrunt. She glared at him, then the jerky. She took one sniff, then stepped on it, crushing it beneath her powerful hind legs. Koa gasped, then sighed. He remembered reading that Tyrunt's were powerful, independent Pokémon, but he'd figured after saving her life they would get along fine. Clearly this would take longer than he thought.

    The next couple hours dragged by. Koa tried everything he could think of. He tried to talk calmly and approach slowly, but he couldn't even take more than a couple steps. He tried food, but Tyrunt never ate any. Finally, he settled for scanning her with his Pokédex. At least he could find out her moveset.

    Tyrunt, The Royal Heir Pokémon. Its large jaws have incredible destructive power. Some theories suggest that its restored form is different from its form of long ago. When unhappy, Tyrunt will go on an angry rampage. This Tyrunt is female and knows the moves Tackle, Stomp, Roar and Tail Whip. It's ability is Strong Jaw.

    Koa grimaced. None of her moves were particularly good. Still, he didn't expect much. She had just woken up after all. And there would be plenty of time later to teach her better ones. And Strong Jaw was an awesome ability. He made one last attempt to reach out to her but was quickly rebuked with a glare and a furious snarl.

    Eventually, he gave up. He returned Tyrunt to her Pokéball. Returning the rest of his Pokémon, he trudged back into Oreburgh, puzzling over what to do next. He needed to befriend Tyrunt. Prove to her he could be trusted. But how?


    A voice distracted Koa from his thoughts and he looked up to see Roark jogging towards him. "I've been looking for you all day, ever since Maria said they released you from the hospital. Are you alright?"

    Koa nodded.

    "Glad to hear it. I need to speak to you about the museum robbery."

    Mentally slapping himself for forgetting, Koa asked, "What about it?"

    "Did you see anything?" Roark asked, his tone brisk. "Those thieves are the reason that my revival machine is ruined! Didn't you see anything? Someone suspicious or someone trying to leave the scene?"

    Koa bit back a sarcastic response and shook his head. Roark appeared tired and stressed. Clearly the robbery was getting to him. "No. It was pretty much panic upstairs. And I was just trying to catch Tyrunt."

    "Of course." Roark hung his head. "Forgive me, Koa, I shouldn't have been so blunt. It's just, this is my first major incident as gym leader, and I don't think I'm doing a good job. I'm supposed to be the leader of this town too, but I feel like I'm failing everyone. Perhaps my father made a mistake leaving the gym to me."

    "No way!" Koa said. "It's only been a few days. People can't expect you to solve this in a few days, that's ridiculous."

    "True I suppose," Roark said. "At any rate, how is Tyrunt?"

    "Fine. We're still working on training and stuff," he lied. He didn't want to admit how terribly it was going to Roark. Besides, it wasn't as if Roark could do anything. Even if he could, he had plenty enough to worry about.

    "Glad to hear it. Maybe when all this is settled, you can bring her by. I would love to see a real live Tyrunt. And I'll let the police know that you didn't see anything."

    "What have they found so far?" Koa asked.

    "Well..." Roark sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Not much yet. The security tapes were damaged, so the tech teams have been working on restoring them. They're supposed to be reviewing the files today and looking for anything. Speaking of, I'd better go. Chief Lunesse is expecting me."

    "I want to come." Koa declared. These thieves were the reason Tyrunt had been scared and gotten hurt, and he wanted revenge for that.

    Roark shook his head. "Sorry, but I can't let you. I'm really not supposed to be sharing anything. Even the things I just told you have to be kept confidential."

    Koa growled in frustration. "So what if you tell me? Maybe I can help!"

    "The answer is still no. And I have to go. Good luck with your quest." He turned and hurriedly strode away.

    It took a great deal of self-control not to stamp his foot in anger. No need to look like a foolish child. Koa watched him leave, then frowned in thought. He needed to find out more information. And he needed to prepare for his trip to Hearthome. The first item he wasn't sure how to complete, but the second he did. Legend Avenue was lined with shops that sold everything from traveling gear to Pokémon food and human food. He could buy everything he needed to trek across the mountains to Hearthome.

    Turning on his heel, he raced around the corner and crashed into someone. Instinctively, he muttered an apology. A young girl stood in front of him, about his age. She wore black leggings and dark boots, with a long trenchcoat that nearly reached her knees. Her green hair was tucked under a navy blue cap. Brushing her clothes off, she looked up, her eyes widening in surprise and recognition.

    He muttered an apology and kept walking, but she moved in front of him. "Wait. You're Koamaru, right?" She spoke with a commanding tone, but she didn't sound harsh, just direct. Coupled with her warm smile, it made her seem friendly.

    Koa stopped and stared at her, narrowing his eyes. "How do you know my name?"

    "We met before, remember? Outside Professor Rowan's lab."

    Koa frowned, trying to think. "Oh, you're..." he trailed off, trying to remember her name. He hadn't exactly been paying much attention to her.

    "Avis Petra," she said confidently. "I've been looking into this museum robbery. I was nearby when it happened, and I saw you running out of the museum." She frowned and tilted her head as if studying him. "Do you know anything?"

    Koa sighed and shook his head. "No." He stepped around her and walked faster. He wasn't really interested in a conversation right now. He had more important things, like Tyrunt, on his mind.

    She jogged beside him then cut in front of him and walked backwards, facing him. "Are you sure? Perhaps-"

    "I was busy with other things than trying to find criminals. And I didn't even know that the museum had been robbed. Is that good enough for you?" He brushed by her, but he could still hear her following him.

    "Very well then. What was Roark talking to you about?"

    Whirling around, Koa glared at her. "You were eavesdropping?"

    Avis shook her head. "No, obviously. I just saw you two talking. I wasn't even close enough to hear what you said. That's why I'm asking. What was he saying?"

    Heat rose to Koa's cheeks and he tried to hide his embarrassment. He was being meaner than necessary, he realized. "Nothing I'm going to tell you."

    Her eyebrows arched and she eyed him. "If you tell me, I'll let you in on what I know."

    Koa started to refuse, then hesitated. Roark probably wouldn't tell him anything, and he doubted anyone in the police force would either. This could be his best chance. Or a trick. Although it didn't really feel like one. Avis seemed earnest. "Okay." He crossed his arms. "Roark wanted to know if I saw anything. Which I didn't." he emphasized the word didn't. "And he said that security footage was damaged, but they were working on restoring it. He just left to go review it with Chief Lunesse."

    "What happened during the robbery?" she asked curiously.

    Koa hesitated, unpleasant memories flashing through his mind. The explosion, the panic, chasing Tyrunt all the way to the Rapidash heard... nudging the thoughts outside, he refocused. "The power went out, I think. Then there was some kind of explosion. I think the machine blew up or something. After that, I don't know."

    Avis nodded and hummed thoughtfully. "Interesting... From what I've found, it seems like a similar MO to other crimes all over western Sinnoh."

    "You mean it's not local?"

    She shook her head. "Recently, over the past few months, there've been several small break-ins at local shops around the mainland. There's also been muggings during the night, on several routes. Witnesses all give the same description. Men in all black clothing, wearing black masks and capes. They move quietly and strike hard and fast. Many use electric Pokémon as well, and the Pokémon are often painted dark colors to blend in. Usually, they knock out the power right before they strike. They steal anything valuable-money, art, jewels and such. A few different police offices have recently begun speculating that it's not copycats, but a single organization. Jubilife Police dubbed them Team Blackout."

    "Team Blackout..." he said thoughtfully. He almost hoped one of them would try to mug him some time. He'd give them a run for their money. His conversation her in Sandgem some days ago came back to him. "Do you think they are connected to Team Galactic?"

    "Well, sort of. I think they might be just leftovers from them. The Grunts, probably looking to make money. Although recently, I think they've added poaching to their list of crimes. Which is why they hit Rowan's lab."

    At the mention of the lab robbery, Koa tensed. "You mean they were the ones who stole from Rowan?"

    Avis nodded. "Most likely."

    Rage boiled inside Koa. If he ever got his hands on those good for nothing-

    "I'd better go," Avis said, looking up from her Poketch. "I have other tasks to accomplish. Oh! I nearly forgot. We should battle sometime."

    He gave her a dubious look. "You don't even have any pokeballs."

    A mischievous glint twinkled in her eyes "First rule of investigating, never underestimate people." She gave him a friendly smile before turning and striding away. He watched her for a moment, then turned his thoughts to preparations for his journey.

    In a few minutes, he had reached Legend Avenue. Many of the shops on this street were named for legendary Pokémon, particularly those of Sinnoh mythology. Cresselia Bakery, New Moon Clothing, Shaymart and many other stores made up the entirety of the street.

    The next few hours were spent browsing through the stores and stocking up on items. He still had some money, around 10,000 poke, and he spent it on medical supplies, poke repellent, rope, and food. Finally, satisfied that he had enough for the journey, he used his last couple hundred to rent a cheap room at a place called 'Mythic Hotel'.

    The establishment was a bit rundown, but he didn't have money for anything nicer. The bed was rather lumpy, but more than good enough for the night. He released his Pokémon, save for Tyrunt, and brought out some of the food he bought, giving it to them. As they ate, he turned on the tv but kept the volume down. Then he sent out Tyrunt.

    "Look Tyrunt-" he began.

    She growled at him, showing her teeth. He edged closer anyway, holding out his hand with food in it. The growl grew into a low snarl.

    "Stop being so stupid!" Koa snapped, his voice growing loud. "I saved your life for Arceus' sake!"

    Tyrunt roared so loud Koa felt the vibration in his body. Quickly, he returned her to her Pokéball. Less than a minute later, there was a knock on his door. Reluctantly, he answered it. He recognized the man standing in the doorway as the hotel manager, who helped check him into his room.

    The man gave a sympathetic frown. "We have a very strict noise policy Mr. Averon. If it happens again, I will have to ask you to leave."

    Grinding his teeth together in frustration, he nodded and mumbled, "Sorry sir." The manager nodded and walked away. Koa closed the door, just short of slamming it shut. He flopped down on his bed and groaned. After a moment, he released Tyrunt again. She growled at him then walked several feet away, curling up on a chair in the room.

    Well, he wouldn't give up on her, not yet. Making sure she was settled, he turned his attention to his other Pokémon. Hazard clung to one of the lightbulbs in the bathroom, his fur spiking from the electricity. Koa watched him curiously for a few moments. He seemed to be concentrating, and every few seconds his fur would fluff out before relaxing slightly. It took him a moment, but Koa remembered reading about the technique somewhere. It was called overcharging, and served as another way to help increase their electric storage capacity.

    Echo, meanwhile, seemed to be searching for a suitable perch. He hopped from spot to spot, seemingly testing each place. Once, he landed on the back of the chair Tyrunt rested on. She gave him a dirty look but made no move towards him. Echo continued his little exercise, hopping from one surface to the next. Finally, he settled on a perch. Upside down, hanging from the ceiling fan. A moment later, he directed a burst of focused sound at a switch on the wall. The fan turned on, it's blades beginning to spin. Echo gave a happy shree of delight as he whirled around the room. Koa couldn't help but laugh out loud at the sight.

    Leaving Golbat to amuse himself, he showered and changed into pajamas. When he got out, both Echo and Hazard were fast asleep. Hazard and picked the bathroom sink as his bed, while Echo lay splayed on one of the two beds in the room. Shaking his head, Koa draped a sheet over his Golbat, before settling into the other bed. He took one last look at Tyrunt. Her sides rose and fell peacefully, and she seemed so innocent now that she was asleep. He watched her as he drifted off to sleep, wondering how he could befriend her.

    Koa grinned as he stared at the looming cave mouth in front of him. Wayward cave. One of the few areas in Sinnoh where Gible lived. They were preposterously rare, but if he got lucky, he could complete at least one step of his Plan.

    After some thought, he'd put his hike through Mt. Coronet on hold, in favor of some extra training. With his new Tyrunt being problematic, he hoped to bond with her better first as well. The solution he'd come to was traveling to Wayward Cave. It involved some backtracking since it was located under the north most section of Cycling Road, but hopefully, it would be worth it.

    For the next few hours, he wandered the cave. He didn't see any Gible, though he did encounter several large gray boulders blocking his path. Fortunately, he didn't need anything special to push them out of the way. He simply climbed over them and continued on.

    As he wandered the gloomy cave, he swept his flashlight beam ahead of him, scanning for anything interesting. The tunnel he'd been traveling ended abruptly in a dead end. Just as he was about to turn around and try another path, something sparkled. Koa swung his beam over the area again. There it was. Tucked in a nook in the wall, something green. He hurried towards the glimmer and knelt down, carefully prying away the loose stone. A tiny handful of green objects spilled out.

    As soon as he saw them, his eyes lit up. Green Shards. They were somewhat rare items that could be found in cave systems and sometimes in the wild. Collectors often traded rare items for them. Carefully, he counted them and tucked them into a small pouch on his backpack. There were five of them, which was a good start.

    Brimming with elation, he set off to explore more. He hadn't been walking long when he felt a distant rumble. It grew louder and suddenly an Onix emerged from a tunnel a short way ahead.

    It looked straight at him. Koa froze and stared back. For a moment, they engaged in some sort of staring competition. Then the Onix roared a challenge.

    Koa sized it up. Judging by its length, it seemed fairly young. Probably it was trying to challenge trainers to grow stronger. Either Hazard or Echo could defeat it easily since they had experience. But he had a better idea.

    "Go Tyrunt!" He tossed out Tyrunt's Pokéball, and she emerged in a flash of light. At first, she glared at Koa, looking disgruntled. The Onix roared again and Tyrunt whirled to face it. At the sight of Onix, her eyes lit up. Clearly, she liked the idea of a challenge.

    "Let's start with Tail Whip," he called. Tyrunt charged forwards and leaped into the air, one of her feet aimed at Onix. Stomp. Definitely not the move he'd asked for. Onix retaliated with a Tackle, hurling itself up at Tyrunt. They clashed for a moment before Tyrunt forced Onix down. It smashed into the ground and Tyrunt leaped away, snarling in triumph.

    "Tyrunt, please," Koa called. "Listen-"

    She let out a roar and charged Onix, who had just gotten up. Once again, she leaped into the air with a Stomp attack. An orange orb formed in Onix's mouth and it blasted it at Tyrunt, knocking her out of the air. Koa recognized the attack as Smack Down. He winced as Tyrunt hit the ground and slid several feet. She'd be fine, but he suspected her pride had taken a critical hit.

    Wearily, Tyrunt got to her feet.

    Koa took a tentative step towards the furious Tyrunt. "Tyrunt, you can beat that Onix." She made no reply, her gaze locked on the Onix. Before Koa could give a command, the Onix sneered at her, then reared back, opened its jaws, and spewed a stream of purple flames straight for her.

    "Dodge!" Koa shouted frantically. One Dragon Breath attack would do serious damage. Unfortunately, Tyrunt had other ideas. She charged straight into it. The flames slowed her, but she stubbornly tried to press through it. To his surprise, she made it all the way to Onix. With a weak roar, she hurled herself at it with Tackle. Unfortunately, the attack did little damage. Tyrunt staggered back, then collapsed, utterly exhausted. Onix shut its jaws, eyeing the downed form of Tyrunt. With a triumphant roar, it slithered away.

    Once it had gone, Koa sighed and pulled out a potion, and set to healing Tyrunt. In a couple of minutes, she woke up. Upon seeing him so close, she growled and stalked several feet away. Koa pulled out her Pokéball and returned her. She'd be more comfortable there anyway.

    For some time, he continued on, following a random path through the cave. He found a couple of other shards and later, to his delight, a single Rare Candy. They were powerful candies that could help boost a Pokémon's strength slightly. They were also notoriously hard to come by. He guessed it had been dropped by a trainer some time ago.

    By the time he worked his way back to the exit, he felt fairly accomplished, at least in the exploration department. In the Pokémon department, less so. Tyrunt ignored or did the opposite of every command he gave. She wouldn't let him near her either, making it impossible to train her in new techniques or battle properly with her. Which was a shame, because she seemed to be strong. She'd weathered the Onix's Dragon Breath longer than he expected.

    A fog of frustration hung over him the whole trip back to Oreburgh. He'd hoped to catch Gible maybe or start building out the rest of his team. But with Tyrunt being so troublesome, he was beginning to have doubts. He didn't want to catch another Pokémon when he couldn't handle the one he just got. By the time he arrived in Oreburgh, late in the afternoon, he was still cross.

    "Hey, Koa!"

    A shout drew him out of his thoughts. He looked up to see Roark approaching.

    "Hey Roark," he mumbled. He was hardly in the mood for a conversation.

    "What's got your knickers in a twist, Koa?"

    Koa sighed. "It's my Tyrunt. No matter what I try, she won't listen."

    Roark tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Come have a battle with me. Let me see."

    After a moment, Koa nodded in agreement. It wasn't as if he had another option.

    Once again, Koa stood across a battlefield, facing Roark. This time, however, the stakes were significantly lower. Only the barest lighting lit the field since the gym was technically closed. There was no referee, either. Just the two of them.

    Roark released his Cranidos, who growled amiably, looking much less fierce than he had at the gym battle. Koa reluctantly released his own fossil Pokémon. Tyrunt emerged in a flash of light. At her appearance, the two dinosaurs sized each other up for several seconds. In sync, they both gave matching roars. Roark chuckled. "It seems Cranidos is excited about this fight. Mind if I go first?"

    "Be my guest," Koa said.

    "Start with Leer!" Roark said, gesturing dramatically. Cranidos leaned forward, its eyes glowing yellow. Tyrunt stared back defiantly, but flinched a second later, a shudder traveling over her body.

    "Tail Whip!" Koa called, hopefully. For once, Tyrunt listened, though he wasn't sure if it was due to coincidence. With a snarl, Tyrunt pivoted and swiped her tail at Cranidos. A subtle wave of energy rolled across the stadium, striking Cranidos, who shivered.

    "Okay then, Zen Headbutt!" Roark called.

    "Dodge and use Tackle," Koa said. Tyrunt charged at the approaching Cranidos, a faint swirl of energy surrounding her. The two met head-on, pressing against each other for a moment. With a sudden explosion, Tyrunt was thrown back. She slid across the ground but remained standing. Koa groaned inwardly. Still, at least she obeyed the 'Tackle' part of his command, even if she ignored the dodge.

    "Leer again. Soften her up!" Cranidos nodded in acknowledgment, then faced Tyrunt, eyes glowing.

    "Quick, use Stomp!" Tyrunt leaped in the air, breaking eye contact, then came hurtling down at Cranidos. Stomp collided with its skull head-on, but Cranidos remained unfazed. With a toss of its head, it flung her aside, then snarled arrogantly. Tyrunt snarled back then charged, her jaws open wide and glowing. Koa's eyes widened. Tyrunt had learned Bite!

    "All right Tyrunt, full force Bite!" Koa shouted.

    "Meet it head on with Headbutt!" Roark said.

    The two dinosaurs charged across the field towards each other, Cranidos' head glowing and Tyrunt's jaws glowing. The attacks collided, and smoke filled the stadium. When it cleared, Roark's and Koa's jaws both dropped, and their brows furrowed in confusion.

    Tyrunt had her jaws wrapped around Cranidos' head. Both seemed confused, with Tyrunt gnawing on Cranidos skull, who pressed on valiantly. The strange struggle continued for another minute. Finally, both Pokémon sat down, looking equal parts frustrated and confused.

    A loud peal of laughter echoed across the stadium. Tears streamed from Roark's eyes as he continued laughing. "I don't believe it," he gasped.

    Koa cocked his head. "What?" he asked, feeling as if he had missed something.

    "Cranidos greatest strength is his impenetrable skull. A Tyrunt's greatest strength is its powerful jaws." He chuckled again, wiping a tear from his eye. "Unstoppable force-"

    "Meet immovable object," Koa finished, breaking into laughter. On the field, the two dinosaur Pokémon were still locked in the same position. Tyrunt tried to back off, then gave a low whine as she dragged Cranidos with her. Cranidos yanked backwards, merely succeeding in pulling Tyrunt back with him.

    "We'd better separate them," Roark said, still chuckling as he crossed the field to his Cranidos. Koa followed him and knelt next to Tyrunt. He reached out to her, but she shot him an angry glare. "Let me help," he pleaded. After a moment, Tyrunt growled and then blinked once. Koa decided to take that as a sign of agreement. With Roark's help, he pried Tyrunt's jaws away from Cranidos. A moment later, both Pokémon were freed.

    Tyrunt huffed and stalked off, her head held high. Cranidos watched her go, a strange sparkle in his eyes.

    Roark patted his Cranidos on the head. "I think my Cranidos is a little starstruck. No one has ever countered his Headbutt like that."

    Koa watched Tyrunt, who sat with her back to him, trying for all the world to act tough. "I pity him," he said flatly.

    "So what do you think?" Koa asked once they had both returned their Pokémon. "Why is Tyrunt acting like that? I mean, I saved her life from those Rapidash."

    Roark shook his head. "Tyrunt is Rock and Dragon-type. So she is bound to be stubborn. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary when we were batling. For now, just give it time."

    Koa nodded sadly. He hadn't expected a magical solution, but he had hoped that another battle would help things along. Apparently that wasn't the case. Still, it was a small comfort, knowing it would likely simply take time. Perhaps it was time to continue his journey.

    "Thanks for the advice," Koa said. He started for the exit.

    Roark called after him. "Once she evolves, bring her back. I think Cranidos would love another battle after he evolves."

    "Will do!" Koa replied. With that, he returned to his room. He wanted to get plenty of rest. Tomorrow, he would begin the journey to Mt. Coronet.

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Tyrunt (Female) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Tackle, Stomp, Tail Whip, Bite

    #5 Jul 23, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
    BZRich64 likes this.
  6. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    Boy, I always forget to keep up with posting here. Anyways, Chapter 7!

    Chapter 7 is here! Koa's next goal is crossing Mt. Coronet. But Tyrunt is as ornery as ever. Will he find a way to bond with her?

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Tyrunt (Female) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Tail Whip, Tackle, Stomp, Bite

    Damp air trickled from the mouth of the cavern before him. A faint breeze ruffled his hair, but otherwise, all seemed still. After a day-and half walk, he'd finally reached the east entrance to Mt. Coronet. Standing in front of the mountain he'd idolized for so long was a strange feeling. He felt equal parts excited, and nervous. Echo, who had taken his usual place on Koa's back, trembled with excitement. He supposed the Golbat was excited to be going into such a large cave system.

    "Ready buddy?" he asked. Echo shrieked loudly in reply, making Koa flinch "Easy there, Echo. I still need to hear, you know." He took one last look around. The area was fairly empty, with only a few hikers resting or preparing for the hike. He knew this might be the last time he saw the outside for a long time, and he wanted to enjoy it.

    Echo gave another, quieter shriek. "Okay okay, I'm going," Koa said, patting him. With that, he stepped into the cave.

    He walked slowly, trying to take in everything. Mt. Coronet, he reflected, looked very different from Ore Caverns or Wayward Cave. The floors, some of which had been smoothed over slightly to make traveling easier, were a gray color, as were the walls. Boulders and rocks dotted the landscape, and pools of water gathered between stalagmites. Multiple paths, tunnels, and walkways spread around, and he even saw a few bridges spanning chasms or crossing two cliffs.

    Unlike Wayward and Ore, Mt Coronet was more traveled. As such, it contained structures such as the bridges and featured faintly worn paths that a trainer could follow to get out the other side. The real appeal for him, however, lay in all the unmarked paths. The Pioneers who'd come long before him made sure to leave as much natural beauty untouched. As such, there were countless treasures and paths that no one had ever seen. Until now, Koa thought.

    Echo flew off his shoulder and began to do loops and dives in the cave, weaving between stalactites and shreeing happily. Koa grinned. It made him happy to see his starter Pokémon so happy. Just thinking the word felt odd. A Zubat was his starter Pokémon? He wondered how many trainers could say that.

    Not too far into the cave, he saw a sight that made his heart skip a beat. Off to his left, a staircase wound up to a higher ledge, which led to tunnels that disappeared into the darkness. Barely able to stop himself, he climbed up the staircase. It led to a bridge that crossed a chasm, and on the other side, lay his heart's greatest desire - the tunnel that led to the highest levels of Mt. Coronet. In a daze, he started across the bridge. On the other side, next to the gaping maw of the tunnel entrance, a single guard stood. A behemoth of a Machamp flanked him, watching everything with calm eyes.

    The guard eyed Koa calmly, only acknowledging him with a curious quirk of his eyebrow. Koa stopped in front of the guard. Realistically, he knew he would never get in. Not yet, anyway. The upper levels were utterly off-limits to trainers unless they had earned 8 badges. Insanely strong Pokémon lived near the peak, ones almost strong enough to fight a member of the Elite Four.

    "Is this the only tunnel leading higher into Mt. Coronet?" he asked, finally.

    The guard regarded him silently for several moments. Eventually, he spoke. "This is the main route up."

    Well that confirmed Koa's suspicions. There were other ways.

    An odd silence grew. The guard seemed utterly unfazed by Koa's presence. He didn't seem condescending or annoyed either though. In fact, the guard seemed friendly.

    "You understand the rules, I think, so I won't tell you them." He said. Koa thought he detected a smile in the man's tone.

    Koa nodded numbly. The prospect of climbing the mountain almost seemed to call to him physically. His heart yearned for it.

    The guard nodded thoughtfully. "I see the fire in your eyes. You'll get your 8 badges and return soon."

    Koa felt a flicker of surprise. He hadn't expected such a statement of confidence from a guard. "I will," he said. And he meant it, absolutely. He realized that beating the gyms had to become his top priority. It would allow him access to the most dangerous and remote of locations. They were the test of strength for any explorer, trainer or leader.

    The guard smiled. "Maybe we can have a battle, then. It's been a very long time since I've had a six on six. I know Machamp would enjoy a challenge." Machamp grunted and nodded.

    Koa grinned. He held out his hand, and the guard shook it. "Deal." He said. And inside the guard's eyes, he saw an eager fire. With a new excitement burning through his veins, Koa returned the way he had come. Fantina was next, he vowed. Then Veilstone, or Pastoria. And from there, he wouldn't stop until he'd earned every single badge. Then he would return and battle - Rats! He smacked himself in the face in annoyance. He'd completely forgotten to ask for the guard's name!


    For the next couple of days, he traveled in relative peace. He ran into several Pokémon, mostly Zubat or Geodude, who made good training for Hazard and Echo. A few times, he sent out Tyrunt. As usual, she ignored his commands, although she did manage to win some fights on her own. That night, he decided to make camp early. The pace they kept until now proved oddly tiring, and he suspected not seeing sunlight had something to do with that. It threw off his internal clock.

    Once he started a fire and set out bowls of food for his Pokémon, he released them all. Hazard and Echo both greeted him happily, but Tyrunt merely grunted and started eating. Koa ignored it. By this point, her attitude didn't faze Koa in the least.

    Just as he was finishing his own meal, he saw Tyrunt look up suddenly and growl. Echo stiffened as well, gazing into the darkness beyond the firelight. Koa squinted in the direction they were looking and spotted a pair of eyes in the gloom. He shined his flashlight in the direction and saw a Machop.

    It growled angrily and then puffed out its chest and flexed its arms. Tyrunt growled, then charged after it.

    "Tyrunt wait-!" Machop met Tyrunt head-on, slamming her head into the ground with a well placed Karate Chop.

    Koa considered trying to give her commands, then decided against it. Perhaps this time, it would be better to let things play out.

    She went down hard, and it took a few seconds for her to stand up again. When she did, she looked furious. Machop smirked at her and flexed again. She roared, then charged forward with a Tackle attack.

    Machop jumped back, then struck her again with Karate Chop, sending her skidding to the side. She roared in pain and staggered towards Machop, eyes blazing. Koa rolled his eyes as she charged it again with Tackle. Machop leaped towards her with Karate Chop once again. The two attacks met head-on. A second later, Tyrunt was thrown back and crashed into a stalagmite. She crumpled to the ground and lay unmoving. Machop gave a prideful cry, then disappeared down a tunnel.

    Koa took out a potion with a sigh. He restored her quickly, then returned her to her Pokéball for the night. He couldn't help but wonder, would Tyrunt ever learn?


    The next two days, the Machop returned each 'night' and challenged Tyrunt. Both times, Tyrunt lost, rather humiliatingly. On the third day, he let her out to walk beside him and get some exercise. She plodded along behind him, her eyes downcast and looking for all the world like a sulking child. Koa almost felt sorry for her. Almost.

    When he stopped for lunch, he portioned out some food for everyone. Tyrunt, however, neglected to touch hers.

    "You gotta eat, Tyrunt. Keep up your strength." She growled and turned her, curling up on the ground. Hesitantly, Koa inched closer. "I know you don't want to listen to me. But will you at least let me help you learn some new moves? If you knew some stronger moves, I bet you could beat that Machop."

    Tyrunt's head shot up and she looked at him. After a long, long moment, she nodded. Koa resisted the urge to let out a whoop. Progress! "Okay Tyrunt. Right now you know Bite, Tackle, Stomp, and Tail Whip."

    Tyrunt nodded and stood up. Koa continued. "You're a really strong attacker. So we gotta give you some strong attack moves." He pulled out his Pokédex and switched to the page on Tyrunt. She was still young, but two potential moves stood out. Ancient Power, and Dragon Tail. Neither were super strong, but they would give her a serious edge. Each of them matched her current typing, meaning she could get a boost.

    "We'll start with Dragon Tail. According to the Pokédex, you'll have to focus a bunch of dragon type energy into your tail. You can forget about Tail Whip and learn this instead."

    Tyrunt's eyes gleamed and she nodded.

    Koa singled out a boulder a short distance away. "Try it on that boulder."

    Tyrunt nodded. Narrowing her eyes, she charged at the boulder. At the last moment, she spun and smashed her tail into it. Unfortunately, the attack lacked any kind of energy.

    She roared in pain and staggered back, glaring at the boulder.

    "It's ok, Tyrunt. Try it again," he said soothingly. She roared and attempted the move again, with a similar effect. She opened her jaws, ready to snap the boulder in half with her Bite.

    "Try focusing your energy before you attack," Koa called encouragingly. She shut her jaws and took a couple paces back. Closing her eyes in concentration, a cone of green energy enshrouded her tail. Opening her eyes, she charged the boulder again and smashed it with her tail. This time, the boulder cracked. A wide smile spread across Koa's face. It was far from perfect-it took her a long time to charge the attack and she had to close her eyes before she did, but it was a strong start.

    For the next couple hours, he drilled her until she got the move down. Eventually, she was able to charge the attack in just a couple seconds, without closing her eyes. After that, he spent the rest of the evening helping her practice Ancient Power. By the time dinner came, he felt exhausted but satisfied. She had gotten both attacks down fairly well, and could use them almost as good as Stomp and Bite.

    It wasn't long after she finished eating that the Machop arrived. This time, Tyrunt faced it down, her head held high. She growled a challenge, to which Machop replied with a cry of his own. Koa grinned and sat back to watch the show.

    Machop sprinted forwards, its hand glowing with energy. Karate Chop. Tyrunt grinned and charged as well, this time with Dragon Tail. She swung her tail, the Machop swung its hand. The two attacks clashed, then Tyrunt prevailed. Machop was thrown back several feet into a wall.

    With a roar, Tyrunt summoned a large boulder that swirled with silver energy, in a near-perfect execution of Ancient Power. She hurled the boulder at the downed Machop, smashing it to the ground. After a moment, it got to its feet, clearly dazed. Tyrunt ran to meet it before it could recover. She jumped into the air, bringing her foot down at Machop. It tried to raise its hand to block the attack, but too late. Tyrunt crashed into it, knocking it flat on its back. Weakly, it tried to stand, then slumped to the ground. She stepped back and let out a triumphant roar loud enough to shake the cavern they were in.

    Koa leaped to his feet. "Yeah! You did it, Tyrunt!" Tyrunt roared again, hopping from one foot to the other in a strange sort of victory dance. He ran over to her and dropped to his knees, hugging her.

    Tyrunt croaked in shock, then squirmed free, glaring at him. Koa wasn't even mad. She'd actually let him train her, she'd won, and he'd gotten to touch her, for the first time since he saved her life from the Rapidash. That night, he went to bed feeling the happiest he had since Tyrunt joined the team.


    Over the next few days, he was able to utilize Tyrunt more in battle. She ignored his commands, but she'd gotten much stronger since learning Dragon Tail. She was able to win against most of the wild Pokémon in the lower levels, to his delight. Hazard and Echo got plenty of battles as well. He met one trainer, a hiker, crossing back to East Sinnoh. Other than that, it was all wild Pokémon. He took his time, exploring side paths and caverns, confident Echo could lead him out if necessary.

    He had followed a series of winding paths and caverns, but so far it had led nowhere. Just when he reached a seemingly empty cavern and was contemplating sending out Echo and turning around, something caught his attention. A tunnel he nearly missed, thanks to it being half-hidden behind a pile of rocks. It sloped gently downwards, ending in what appeared to be a small cave. He shined his flashlight down the tunnel.

    Something at the bottom glimmered red. Koa peered closer, and he could just barely make out a fragment of something red and star-shaped. His eyes widened. A Star Piece! They were incredibly valuable fragments of a rare mineral. Many Pokemarts would buy them for a high price. Koa examined the tunnel. The rocks within seemed loose, but if he moved carefully enough, he was sure he could make it.

    Clipping his flashlight to his side, he checked his pokeballs, then began his descent. Inch by inch, he backed down the steep tunnel. He made it halfway down when a rock he was clinging to with his right hand suddenly crumbled under him. A cry of shock escaped him as he slid down the tunnel. He grabbed frantically at the sides, trying to slow his descent. More stones slid after him, pelting his face and bouncing off his jacket. In a panic, he stopped bracing himself, and let himself slide into an awkward freefall. A moment later, he tumbled into the cave, followed by a shower of rocks.

    An ominous rumble sent chills down his spine. He scrambled to his feet and backed away from the tunnel. A huge shower of rock and rubble tumbled out of it. After several moments, the mini-rockslide subsided. Koa stared grimly at the tunnel he'd come through. The entrance had been completely blocked with rock and dirt. He doubted he'd be able to return that way. Well, first, he was going to get what he came for.

    He stooped down and brushed away the debris until he uncovered the Star Piece. He gazed at it a moment before tucking it into his backpack. Standing up, he took a closer look around the cave he'd ended up in. "Come on out, Echo, Hazard." He released his Golbat and Joltik. "Take a look around, see if you can find a way out." While his two Pokémon explored, he took a closer look at the tunnel cave-in. Perhaps there was a way to clear a path...

    The next several minutes, he tried his best to carefully move the rocks. Unfortunately, every time he moved a few, a few more would fall into their place. With a sigh, he turned around.

    "Find anything guys?" he called. Echo fluttered up to him and landed, shaking his head sadly. "Hazard?" he called into the darkness. For a moment, he was met with silence. Then he heard the faint scuttling of claws, and Joltik appeared, looking a tad damp. He chittered eagerly, then ran a few feet away and stopped, looking back pointedly. "You found something?" he asked excitedly. He hurried after Joltik, who led him to one end of the cavern. The Joltik stopped in front of a large pool of dark water. He gave an eager cry, pointing towards it with one of his tiny legs.

    Koa shuddered. "You want me to... swim? Down there?" He asked, a slight tremor in his voice. The thought terrified him. If there was one rule of Blake's he'd learned, it was to never go diving in cave pools. They were dark, difficult to navigate, and you never knew when you would find air. It was one of the most dangerous things an explorer could do. He stared at the dark water, then back at his Pokémon. Echo had landed a few feet away and was eyeing him worriedly. "What do you think, Echo?"

    Echo shreed and fluttered over to the water. Clearly he agreed with Hazard.

    Fear trickled down his spine. He quickly shook his head. "It's too dangerous, Hazard. I don't know where it leads. You don't even know where it goes." Hazard chittered angrily and stamped his foot. Koa looked away, reluctant to meet his hurt gaze. There had to be another way. Hazard was mistaken. Maybe Echo had missed something- As soon as the thought crossed his mind, he knew that couldn't be the case. Echo's echolocation wouldn't have missed anything. If there was another way out, he would have found it.

    Echo landed in front of him, giving a low shree of distress. Hazard scurried onto Echo's head, staring him down. Koa backed away. "I can't... I don't..." he stammered. Hazard's blue eyes sparkled with anger. Koa swallowed. "Are you sure, Hazard?" he asked after several seconds.

    Hazard jumped up and down and nodded eagerly.

    "Ok," Koa said quietly. With a trembling hand, he returned his Pokémon. He took a moment to make sure everything he carried was secure, then stepped up to the pool. Taking a deep breath, he jumped.

    The dark waters closed over his head, and a chill seeped to his bones. Fortunately, his flashlight was waterproof. Ahead, he could make out the dark maw of an underwater tunnel. Kicking towards it, he moved with swift, practiced strokes. He'd have to thank Blake for all his swimming lessons at Canalave Beach. He kept his flashlight trained ahead as he entered the tunnel. It continued a short distance, though he noted with alarm it was getting narrower.

    Koa figured he could hold his breath maybe a minute, tops. By his estimate, he'd been swimming for maybe thirty seconds. A tiny flicker of panic grew in him, and he swam faster. The tunnel narrowed more. He dragged himself faster, pulling himself along on the rough walls. His chest grew tight. His lungs burned. He blew out a burst of bubbles and kicked off the floor. Darkness edged his vision then- Sweet air flooded his lungs as his head broke the surface. He gasped, sucking in lungfuls as he treaded water.

    Looking around, he realized he'd emerged in another cavern half-submerged in water. The tunnel he'd come through was a mere few feet below him. He must have swam the last couple feet to the surface without realizing he'd left the tunnel. His limbs burned with exhaustion as he dragged himself to shore and flopped onto the rocky ground, still gasping. He'd made it. He couldn't believe he actually made it. And it was all thanks to Joltik.

    After he'd caught his breath, he released all his Pokémon. Hazard and Echo immediately piled on him, crying out happily. "Thanks guys," he said. "Especially you, Hazard. You guys really saved my life." Echo shrieked, and Hazard discharged a flurry of sparks. Koa glanced over, noting that even Tyrunt looked mildly concerned, though once she saw he was alive, she stalked off on her own.

    That night, Koa made camp by the shore. He was too tired to really look for another spot, and the ground was level enough anyway. Long after everyone had eaten and fallen asleep, he lay awake, his thoughts still racing. He'd come so close to not making it... yet he had. Somehow, his Joltik had known there was an exit to the tunnel, and that he would be able to make it. The thought filled him with awe. In that moment, he vowed never to doubt his Pokémon again.


    Koa trekked onwards, each step feeling harder and harder. If it hadn't been for his Poketch, he would have no idea what time it was, or how many days had passed. Apparently, he'd been in Mt. Coronet for nearly two weeks. He was sure he'd gotten at least a few shades paler in that time. But the long hike had been well worth it. His Pokémon had grown much tougher. Joltik could hold twice as much as electricity without recharging, making it pretty much unnecessary to worry about. Echo had grown more agile, and his attacks stronger.

    Only Tyrunt worried him. Despite all his efforts, she never listened to him in battle. Once or twice, his command would coincidentally line up with her decisions, but it was just that. Coincidence.

    At least he was closer to Hearthome. He figured he could get out in the next few days. If he didn't get distracted. Which was hard not to do. He'd racked up plenty of treasures - several more Green Shards, a Nugget, and even a dusty old TM for Rock Slide. It was an older model, one of the kinds the broke after 1 use, but it was still operational. He was considering saving it for Tyrunt, once she got her act together.

    He wandered back to the 'main' route, considering taking out Echo and just asking him how to get out. As much as he was enjoying his exploration, he did want to get on to Hearthome. He had gym badges to earn, after all. Koa rounded a corner, then paused. Something was different. He turned off his flashlight and looked around. Everything looked normal, rocks, stalagmites, and more rocks, and- Wait. He could see. Instead of pitch blackness, a faint gray light pervaded the cave. He could just make out the surrounding landscape, without using his flashlight. There had to be an entrance close by! After a moment, he spotted ahead, around another bend. He sprinted toward it, his heart beating faster. Just before he burst out of the cave, he remembered to shut his eyes.

    Blinding light assaulted his eyelids, and the sunlight felt like it physically struck staggered forwards a couple steps anyway, keeping his eyes closed. A second later, the initial shock and pain faded as his body readjusted. His jacket protected him from the worst of the sun's rays, and he gratefully soaked in the warmth. He took a deep breath, reveling in the sweet taste of the fresh air. A chilly breeze washed over him, and he thought he'd never felt anything so magnificent.

    Then he opened his eyes. It took several seconds for his eyes to readjust, but when they did, he gasped softly. He'd exited some ways up the slope of Mt Coronet, overlooking Route 208, which led to Hearthome. A river wound and splashed down the mountain, forming a beautiful waterfall down below. It curled through a deep canyon spanned by several wooden bridges. Beyond that lay grassy plains and forests, cut through by a long, winding dirt road that led up to the shining city of Hearthome.

    Unable to tear his eyes off the view, he reached for his belt and released all his Pokémon. Echo came out with his usual shriek, but stopped short, equally enamored by the view. Hazard simply stood quietly, his gaze distant. Even Tyrunt seemed awestruck.

    "Whew..." he said, after a long moment. He'd finally made it. He felt equally relieved and a bit sad. While he was in no hurry to venture back in, his urge to climb to the Spear Pillar hadn't lessened at all. After some deliberation, he decided to make camp where he stood. There was a flat spot a little ways away that would be perfect.

    That evening, after dinner, Koa decided to try his luck with Tyrunt again. "Do you want to train, Tyrunt?" He reached out his hand. Tyrunt glared at him and gave a low growl. Koa growled back. "Hey! I saved your life, you know!"

    Tyrunt roared at him. Then, to his shock, she turned and sprinted up the slope, disappearing behind some bushes.

    "Tyrunt!" Koa yelled, then smashed his fist into the ground. He muttered a curse before standing up. Great. Now he had to hunt her down. He really hoped she hadn't gone far. Most Pokémon, even ornery ones, were reluctant to travel too far from their trainers, a fact which he was counting on.

    He trekked up the slope, which was dotted with thick brush and a few trees. An angry roar from ahead keyed him into Tyrunt's likely location. Accelerating his pace, he pushed past a small copse of trees and bushes just in time to see a trainer toss a Pokéball at Tyrunt. The red light surrounded her form for a split second, before shattering. The Pokéball fell uselessly to the ground.

    "Hey!" Koa screamed as he sprang forwards, standing in front of his Tyrunt. "That's my Tyrunt!" He knew he was being a little over the top, but he was already angry enough without some wannabe trainer trying to catch his - Wait. He knew this trainer, sort of. It was hard not to remember, since the boy wore a fairly distinctive cloak.

    The boy stared back at him in surprise. And equally shocked looking Shelgon stood beside him. "My apologies," the boy said. "I did not realize this Tyrunt was yours."

    Koa relaxed slightly. "Sorry, I didn't mean to freak out. I remember you, actually. We met at Eterna City."

    "Ah yes, the Giratina boy," he said, after a moment. "So you found a Tyrunt?"

    Koa shook his head. "I revived her, actually."

    "She? Well, she is quite the specimen." The boy knelt down and extended his hand. Tyrunt glared, then without warning, charged at him, jaws open. Without hesitation, the Shelgon launched himself forwards and knocked her out of the way. The boy frowned.

    Koa grimaced and quickly returned her. "I'm sorry about her. I can't get her to listen to a word I say."

    The boy stood up, dusting off his hands. "Do not apologize for her. She is young and stubborn. But she has potential."

    "If she ever listens," Koa muttered under his breath. "What's your name, anyway? I never got it last time we met."

    "Cade*," he replied. "I am a fledgling Dragon Tamer. My ultimate dream is to build a team of dragons from around the world. That is why I hoped to catch your Tyrunt. I must admit, I was quite surprised to see a Kalosian fossil Pokémon all the way in Sinnoh. Knowing she is yours certainly clears up that mystery."

    "Yeah well, it's a mystery to me why she doesn't listen to a word I say."

    At this comment, Cade frowned. "She does not listen to any of your commands?"

    Koa shook his head.

    "Perhaps I can be of some assistance. I am a bit of an expert on Dragon-types."

    Koa's eyes lit up. "That would be amazing. I really don't know what to do about her. I feel like I've tried everything."

    "Battle me, let me see," Cade replied. The two trainers walked back down the slope until the found a large enough expanse of flat land for their battle.

    Reluctantly, Koa nodded and released her. She emerged with a grunt, glaring at the other boy.

    With a dramatic flourish, Cade tossed out a Pokéball. A small Gible emerged in a burst of light. Koa's eyes widened. A real Gible!

    "That's so cool..." Koa murmured, taking it in. Despite its slightly smaller than average size, it appeared bright eyed and sturdy. It was fairly young as well.

    "This is one of my newer team members. I searched for hours until I found one I connected with. Now, you may have the first attack."

    "Tyrunt-" He never got to finish his command. Tyrunt launched herself forwards, jaws primed for a Bite attack.

    Neither Cade or Gible moved. Tyrunt drew within striking distance and lunged forwards.

    "Now Gible, dodge." Gible expertly leaped to the side, then retaliated with Dragon Breath. The purple flames washed over Tyrunt point blank, knocking her to the ground. She roared and spun, recovering faster than Koa expected. She swung her tail, alight with green draconic energy. The Dragon Tail attack smashed into Gible full force, sending it flying. It landed hard, skidded a couple of feet before it caught itself.

    "Now Gible, Dig," Cade called. Gible disappeared underground in a flurry of sand and grit. A moment later, it re-emerged under Tyrunt, knocking into the sky. She flailed wildly as she hurtled through the air.


    Koa groaned. Another loss. As Gible opened its jaws, Tyrunt spun midair and smashed the Bite attack with Dragon Tail. The two attacks clashed, generating a wave of energy and throwing both Pokémon to the ground. Dust filled the air. As it cleared, both Gible and Tyrunt stood a few feet apart, sides heaving. They were covered in dirt and minute scratches and were obviously almost exhausted. Then, without warning, Tyrunt staggered and collapsed.

    Cade nodded thoughtfully, as if neither surprised or excited. He returned Gible, the thoughtful frown still on his face.

    "So? What do I do?" Koa asked anxiously. For several moments, Cade didn't reply.

    "Let us rest first, and make camp."

    Koa frowned. He'd really hoped for a quick fix, but he guessed that wouldn't be the case. Fortunately, with the two of them working, it took only a couple minutes to set up camp. Koa released all his Pokémon, treating Tyrunt's injuries before setting out food for each of them. Cade merely watched and helped occasionally, saying nothing. Koa found his silence both frustrating and relieving. He wasn't really interested in petty small talk.

    Once they had a comfortable fire going, Cade released his other Pokémon. Altogether, he had a Shelgon, a Dratini, and a Gible, which he'd caught recently. Koa gave up trying to befriend Tyrunt for the night and instead decided to check out Cade's Pokémon. His Shelgon reminded him of his Joltik - fierce and only affectionate towards its trainer. Dratini and Gible, however, seemed very playful. They both got along exceedingly well with Echo. Pretty soon the three of them engaged in a makeshift game of tag, swooping and darting about. Hazard joined them briefly, but then retired early to sit in silence with Shelgon.

    After both trainer and Pokémon had finished their meals, Cade spoke. "So as you already know, Dragon-type are both very rare, and difficult to train. They tend to be some of the naturally strongest Pokémon as well."

    Koa nodded quietly.

    "Like all Pokémon, Dragon types respond to a trainers heart."

    "So there's something wrong with my heart?" Koa burst out. Cade gave him a level gaze, and he sighed, sitting back. Cade continued.

    "Both your Joltik and Golbat respond excellently to you, and you have the beginnings of a strong bond. When most wild Pokémon are caught or even fossils revived, a weak link is created between trainer and Pokémon." Cade paused to stroke his Shelgon. "But you and Tyrunt lack any kind of link."

    Koa's eyes widened. He'd always just assumed they had a poor relationship, not a non-existent one.

    "Right now, your Tyrunt does not connect with you. There is a rift. She will not heed a word you say unless you find a way to cross that bridge."

    Koa edged forward, staring into Cade's face. "Please, tell me how to cross it then. Should I fight her?"

    "No," he replied sharply, looking up. His gaze bored into Koa's own, and he flinched at the intensity there. "Although you may have to one day, battling her now will not help."

    "Do you know why she is like this?"

    Cade remained silent for a moment, his gaze resting on Tyrunt. She lay a few feet away, sleeping peacefully. "I suspect she is intentionally avoiding bonding with you."


    "It's hard to say. If she were my Pokémon, I could probably sense why."

    "Huh?" Koa asked, tilting his head.

    "Any time a trainer specializes in one type, he starts to grow a special connection to that type. It's almost as if he can begin to understand his own Pokémon in a new way."

    Koa nodded thoughtfully. That made sense. It explained how specialist trainers remained so strong, despite only having one type. Frustration began to grow in him. Roark hadn't known what to do, and even an expert hadn't. Was there any hope? "Is there anything I can do?"

    "Let me sleep on it, and I may have a suggestion come morning."

    With a sigh, Koa nodded. He guessed he didn't have much choice. They talked for a few more hours, discussing their journey's and battles. Cade told him how he'd spent two weeks at Wayward Cave, just to find Gible. He also told him how he fought his Bagon six times and lost each time, before finally defeating it in battle and catching it. Since then, they had remained close friends. He also explained how he was journeying to each region to catch a Dragon-Type. He'd started in Hoenn with Bagon, then traveled to Kanto for Dratini. Now he was here to continue training Gible. As the night approached midnight, they both turned in. Koa felt particularly exhausted, and relieved to be sleeping outdoors again. In just a few minutes, he slipped into a pleasant, dreamless sleep.


    The following morning, he awoke to the smell of delicious food. Judging by the light from outside his tent, he suspected he'd slept in. With a yawn, he sat up and stretched, then poked his head outside the tent. Cade knelt by the fire, sauteing something in a pan. Whatever it was, smelled amazing. Koa's mouth began to water, and hurriedly got dressed, hoping that there would at least be some leftovers. When he emerged from the tent, Cade was already eating, as were his Pokémon.

    "Good morning, Koa. I prepared breakfast for my Pokémon and I. There's some left for you, if you like."

    Koa grinned and released his Pokémon. He controlled himself just long enough to dish some of the meal into their bowls - which looked like some kind of berry and egg scramble - then set upon his own meal like a Munchlax.

    Several minutes later, he sat back feeling more full and satisfied than he had since he left Oreburgh. He'd have to start packing more fresh berries next time he trekked through the wilderness. "So, did you come up with anything?" he asked.

    Cade nodded. "I believe so. I will be departing today, to continue training my Gible, but I will tell you my advice before I go."

    Koa helped him pack his supplies and break camp. Once he was ready to go, Koa stared at him expectantly. Inwardly, he resisted the urge to tap his foot on the ground. Cade had been kind enough to help him, and he didn't want to seem rude.

    "So here is what you should do..."

    Koa listened to his instructions, his puzzlement growing. They weren't unclear, they just didn't make much sense. Still, he trusted that Cade knew his stuff. When he had gone, Koa broke camp then returned his Pokémon, save for Tyrunt, who stood several feet away, staring at him with a bored expression on her face.

    "Come," he said, trekking higher up the hill. To his surprise, Tyrunt actually followed, though she remained several steps behind. After a few minutes, he reached the place he was looking for. A small outcropping of flat stone, just big enough for the two of them. With a deep sigh, he sat down. Crossing his legs, he did his best to make himself comfortable. The sun overhead heated the rock below him, keeping him pleasantly warm.

    "Alright Tyrunt, listen up."

    Tyrunt, who until now had amused herself by scratching lines into the stone, looked up.

    "Here's the deal. I'm sitting here, on this rock, until you come to me. No matter how. Long. It. Takes." Even as he said it, the idea sounded kind of ridiculous. Still, Cade's instructions had been clear. He was to sit here, meditate, and not attempt to approach Tyrunt under any circumstances. She had to come to him.

    For a long time, Koa sat still, letting his thoughts drift. He thought about his journey, and his goals. He thought about climbing Mt. Coronet, defeating gyms, and meeting legendaries. He imagined what it would feel like to fight one, then throw a Pokéball at it. The day turned to night. He began to doze off. At some point he awoke again.

    He thought about his Pokémon, and how he'd encountered each of them. Zubat at the honey tree, and Joltik, who joined him after saving Galvantula. Tyrunt, whom he'd revived, and saved. Why, even after saving her, did she disobey him?... Pulling himself out of his thoughts to look around, he realized it was early morning again. His whole body ached and a chill had settled over his body. Groaning, he stretched his arms and legs. If only Tyrunt were less stubborn... Or more appreciative. He sighed again. It didn't really matter, he supposed. He hadn't saved Tyrunt or any of his Pokémon for that matter, so they would listen to him. He simply wanted to help.

    The day wore on, and Koa lay down, tiredness overwhelming him. Before he knew what happened, he was asleep. His last thought was of hoping Tyrunt understood that she didn't owe him, he saved her because he wanted to. With a start, he awoke sometime later. Blearily, he opened his eyes.

    How long had it been? He glanced at his Poketch and his jaw dropped. It'd been well over a day. He glanced over at Tyrunt. She lay curled on the stone a few feet away, eyes wide open. They locked gazes for a moment, and Koa found himself wondering what it would be like to be Tyrunt.

    Awakening to an explosion, the flood of sound and sight... The panic from the robbery and encountering the wild Ponyta and Rapidash. Feeling angry and scared, fighting them... Then saved by a stranger. A trainer, calling himself Koa and trying to train her and calling her a friend. He considered all his attempts at befriending her - the food, the fights, the bargaining, the battles.

    Koa took a moment to gather his thoughts before speaking. "You know, my cousin Blake had a way of always trying to make me do something, just before I was about to do it. I'd be planning on cleaning my room and then BAM! He'd ask me to clean it. I know he meant well, but it was really annoying." Tyrunt lifted her head slightly, staring at him intensely. "I hated it so much, sometimes I would avoid doing whatever he told me to."

    Taking a deep breath, Koa removed his fingerless glove from his right hand. Deliberately, he looked away, then closed his eyes and held out his arm, palm open and outstretched. He let his breathing slow, and he focused his thoughts on Tyrunt. He'd spent so long chasing Tyrunt and trying to make her listen and understand... but maybe he never needed to. Maybe she just needed a chance.

    For several moments, nothing happened. Suddenly he felt a warm breath flow across his hand. He kept his eyes shut, not daring to risk looking at her now, when - a sudden pressure surrounded his hand and entire upper arm. He whipped around just as her jaws closed across his hand. A flash of pain shot up his arm. Without thinking, Koa seized one of her spindly arms with his left hand, yanked her closer, and bit her arm.

    A sound the likes of which he'd never heard came from Tyrunt, and she opened her jaws. Koa let her go and she stumbled backward and fell to the ground. Her eyes were wide and her mouth hung open in a comical expression of shock. Koa glared back at her. "That'll teach you to bite me," growled. Slowly, she closed her mouth. Then, a strange sort of smile started to spread across it. A gleam entered her eyes and she made a rumble of approval.

    Koa stared at her, perplexed. Then, to his utter shock, she trotted over to him, wriggled her head under his arm, and curled up in his lap.

    Now it was Koa's turn to be surprised. He patted her awkwardly, his arm still slightly sore, though he realized she hadn't even come close to puncturing the skin. A wry grin spread across Koa's face. He had no idea if Cade had intended for things to turn out like this, but he supposed it didn't matter. Somehow, it had worked. It made sense, he reflected - Tyrunt were naturally aggressive Pokémon, so he supposed in some strange way, his actions had garnered her respect. His reaction must have shocked her thoroughly though - obviously, she had no intention of injuring him with her bite. He'd seen the kind of strength she was capable of.

    Laughter bubbled up inside him, and he started to crack up. "Guess you didn't count on me biting you back, huh?"

    Tyrunt snorted at that.

    "Well, I'm glad you've finally come around."

    Tyrunt gave a pleased rumble and snuggled deeper into his lap.

    Shaking his head, he continued to stroke her. "You're a real rascal, you know that?" She thumped her tail gently against his leg in response. Koa shrugged. There was more than one way to befriend a Pokémon, he supposed.

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Tyrunt (Female) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Well, there you go. In an unexpected twist, he has managed to befriend and earn the respect of Tyrunt. His bonding moment (the first part at least), is loosely based on a certain movie. I'm wondering if anyone caught the reference?

    BZRich64 likes this.
  7. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    Here we go! Chapter 8!

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    The landscape of Route 208 rushed by as Koa zipped along on his bike. After a satisfying rest the previous day, he left late in the morning. By bike, Route 208 took less than a half a day to cross. Which meant by tonight, he could be in Hearthome, sleeping on a real bed in the Pokémon Center. The thought alone was like music to his aching muscles. And his sticky, dirt-covered body. He tried to shower as best he could on the road, using whatever rivers and lakes he passed, but that only did so much. At a Pokémon Center, he could wash his clothes, buy real food, and have a real bed.

    A few hours later, as the sun sank into the horizon, he arrived at the gates of the great city of Hearthome. After showing his ID to the guard, he entered the city. He slowed down, enjoying the city as he cruised through. Hearthome was a fairly large city but had a pleasant atmosphere. It lacked the metropolitan feel of Jubilife and didn't feel as full as Eterna. Plenty of families roamed the streets, walking or running errands with their children, and lots of young kids ran about, followed by their Pokémon. Not long after entering, he spotted the two main attractions - Amity Square, and the Contest Hall. Both brought plenty of trainers from all areas, wishing to just enjoy a stroll or show off their Pokémon.

    As he continued towards the Pokémon Center, he was struck by how large the city was. It rivaled even Jubilife in acres, he guessed, though much of it was spread across quaint neighborhoods with moderately sized homes. He really liked Hearthome, he decided. The people seemed friendly as well. Many had waved to him as he pedaled by, and he waved back. A few minutes later, he arrived at the Pokémon Center.

    Only a couple of trainers were in line ahead of him, so he didn't have to wait long to get a room key from the resident Nurse Joy. He handed his Pokémon off for a quick checkup, then headed up to his room. As soon as he entered, the comfy bed seemed to call his name, but he resisted the urge to take a running leap into it. First, a shower, then sleep.

    Koa emerged from the shower feeling delightfully fresh and clean. As he dried his hair, he sent out his fully recovered Pokémon. The Nurse had given them a clean bill of health, even complimenting him on his Joltik, who she said was a wonderful example of its species, and sported a particularly large electric pouch.

    Echo screeched happily and settled on Koa's shoulders, then settled on the headboard of the bed. Hazard ended up scuttling over to Rascal, who lay dozing on the floor.

    The thought of Tyrunt's nickname still brought a smile to his face. Rascal. Fitting and amusing, he'd decided. Apparently she agreed, because she accepted the name eagerly.

    Hazard had worked his way into the ruff around her neck and settled in comfortably. Koa sighed happily at the sight, glad to see that she was finally fitting in.

    His attention shifted back to the bed in the middle of the room. Tossing aside his towel, he leaped into it, reveling in the feeling of the comfy sheet and plush mattress. Within moments, he fell asleep.


    The next morning he ended up sleeping in again, much to his chagrin. He made a mental vow to get back to his routine of waking up early and going for a jog.

    "Alright guys, listen up." He'd gathered all his Pokémon in his room after a hearty breakfast. "Today we challenge Fantina. She uses Ghost types, and she's pretty tough. But I think we can take her." The thought of challenging another gym excited him more than he expected. When he'd first began his journey, he'd simply wanted to explore the world, and the gyms were a mere side thought. Now, however, he found he genuinely enjoyed them. The thrill of the battles, matchings wits against his opponent and proving his Pokémon's strength. Plus, they were an excellent way to help his team become stronger.

    Leaving the bike inside his bag, he opted to walk to the gym and enjoy the sights. He ambled down the streets, greeting passerby and stopping to pet the occasional Pokémon. Echo was fast asleep in his ball, and he kept Rascal inside as well since he still didn't know how well she would behave around people. Hazard, however, made himself a nest in his hair settled down for the ride.

    After a short walk, he arrived at the doors to the gym. Just as he was about to open the door, he saw a sign taped on the front.

    Hearthome gym temporarily closed. Koa scowled. "Closed? How could a gym be closed?" he mused out loud.

    "Were you looking to challenge the gym?"

    Koa turned to see a young woman in an elegant dress standing a few feet away. "Yeah, Do you know why it's closed?"

    She nodded. "Every year, Fantina goes on a trip to train and prepare her Pokémon for contests. She only just left, so she won't be back for a couple weeks."

    "A couple weeks?" Koa blanched. The woman merely shrugged sympathetically. That was forever! He wanted to challenge Fantina now! He'd been thinking about it ever since he left Mt. Coronet. "Oh well... thanks for the warning." She nodded and continued on her way.

    Disappointed, Koa returned to the Pokémon Center. He was sitting in his room, contemplating his next move when his Poketch vibrated. He looked down at the screen

    'Incoming Call from Rowan'

    Koa hurriedly hit the answer button. "Hey Professor Rowan."

    "Hmmm. Hello Koa. What town are you in, by chance?"

    "Uh... Hearthome, why?" he replied.

    "Perfect. I suspected you might be in the area by now. I suppose you did not hear that Callahan is doing a conference there tomorrow."

    "What?!" Koa yelped. He was certain if he'd been holding a phone, he would have dropped it. Callahan was a famous researcher of legendaries, who hailed from the Johto region. He was also Koa's personal hero. He'd watched plenty of his talks and lessons on the internet but never had the chance to see one in person.

    "I took the trouble of procuring a ticket for you. Simply give them your name at the entrance," Rowan said.

    "Sick! Thanks so much, Professor Rowan!"

    "You're welcome. I also suspect that the Hearthome gym is closed by now."

    Koa nodded, frowning. "Yeah. I think I just missed her. Crossing Mt. Coronet took longer than I thought."

    "In that case, you may consider traveling to Pastoria after the conference. Crasher Wake will be a challenge, but I believe you can handle it. The Great Marsh is also an excellent place to meet rare or powerful Pokémon."

    "That sounds good, actually," Koa said, after a moment's thought. He'd heard Gyarados could be caught there. Catching one outright would be much easier than trying to raise a Magikarp. It might be harder to train since they were tempermental, but he was sure he would manage.

    "If you do go, make sure to call me on the PC videophone. I would like to see your Pokémon. Roark told me he revived your fossil."

    Koa nodded eagerly before remembering Rowan couldn't see him, only hear him. "Yeah. It's a female Tyrunt. She's awesome!"

    "Yes well, be sure to check-in. And call Blake too, if you have the chance. I'm sure he would love to see your team."

    "Ok," Koa mumbled. He didn't want to admit that he and Blake hadn't parted on the best of terms. He realized he'd never shown Blake any of his Pokémon. Well, he'd take care of that later. Koa hung up, then jumped for joy, bouncing on the bed. He was finally going to see Callahan in person! A few moments later, he sat down. Right now, he had a free day to spend in Hearthome, and he planned to enjoy it. And first on his list was Amity Square.

    Amity Square had been built not long after Hearthome became a city. It had been created during a time when the rules surrounding Pokémon being allowed outside Pokeballs were more strict. Originally, only Pokémon deemed 'cute' were allowed entry. After a few years, the rules regarding 'cute' were expanded, then eventually wiped out altogether. Now the park served as a place where all kinds of trainers and Pokémon could gather. Only two rules remained - no catching any wild Pokémon that wandered in, and no battling. The area was the perfect escape.

    Koa checked in with the receptionist, then entered the park. The bulk of Amity Square consisted of a massive swath of grass and trees bordering a small lake. Bridges on either side of the park connected to a small island in the center, and in the distance, he could spot sandy hills and small stone huts. Everything was beautifully maintained, and many exotic plants dotted the grounds.

    Echo immediately hopped off his back and began to flutter about, investigating everything. Koa could feel Hazard on top of his head, quivering with excitement at all the new sights and sounds. Rascal walked beside him, surprisingly calmly, though the gleam in her eyes told him she was excited to be here as well. For the next several minutes, Koa ambled along slowly, taking in the sights. It was nice to slow down for a bit and properly enjoy his Pokémon's company. Eventually, he worked his way to an area near the back of the park. There he discovered that someone had left behind a large inflatable ball.

    A few minutes later, he found himself engaged in an impromptu game of Aipom in the Middle, with Rascal and Hazard ending up as the Aipoms. The challenge amped up when Hazard opted to ride on Rascal's head, jumping off to try and net the ball. They had been playing for several minutes when a young boy approached.

    "Hey there!" he called.

    Koa let his attention drift from the ball, and Rascal leaped up. Hazard fired a swift burst of webbing, nabbing the ball. Koa scowled at Rascal, who looked very smug. "Cheat," He hissed playfully. He turned to face the boy. He wore a dark shirt and green pants and bandana. His light skin shone with a faint sheen of sweat.

    "You found my ball!" The boy said, elatedly. "I left it here yesterday when I was playing with my Clefairy."

    Koa glanced behind the boy to see a cautious Clefairy peeking from behind its trainers legs.

    "Oh sorry, I didn't know it belonged to anyone," Koa said, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

    "It's fine. I'm glad someone else is enjoying it. My name is Wyatt, by the way." He grinned widely and held out his hand.

    "Koamaru. But call me Koa," he replied, shaking Wyatt's hand.

    "You have some impressive Pokémon. Mind if I see?"

    Koa shrugged. "Sure. Hazard is my Joltik, and Echo is my Golbat. Just be careful with Rascal. She can be moody."

    Wyatt nodded and walked slowly over to his Pokémon, who had stopped playing and were watching curiously.

    "My my... what a strong looking Golbat." At that, Echo screeched and hopped over to Wyatt. He patted Golbat, then held out his hand to Joltik. After a moment, Joltik scurried over. Wyatt stroked him gently, then turned to Rascal. He didn't approach her or hold out his hand to her. Instead, he crouched down, watching her carefully. "Don't worry, I won't pet you. I just want to see you. I haven't seen many Kalos Pokémon before. You're quite beautiful, aren't you?"

    Rascal rumbled approvingly, giving him her best dignified smile. Koa was beginning to understand why they were known as the Royal Heir Pokémon. Although she had been more like a Royal pain in the Mudbray. "You seem like you know Pokémon really well," Koa said.

    Wyatt stood up and nodded. "I'm a breeder, actually. I specialize in caring for and raising Pokémon. And yours are in excellent shape. Particularly your Golbat. He's the strongest I've seen in a long time."

    "Thanks," Koa said, grinning. "We've been through a lot."

    "Same with Clefairy and I," Wyatt said, gesturing to his Pokémon, who stood a few feet away, watching intently. "I've had her since I was little." Clefairy walked over to Koa, staring up at him. She tapped his foot twice, then returned to Wyatt's side. "That's her way of saying hello. She's quiet, but she likes you. Normally she only says hello if she approves of someone."

    "Cool," Koa said, watching her. It was rare to see Clefairy, who were originally native to the Kanto region. For many years, they'd only lived in Mt. Moon, though recently they had cropped up in other regions as well.

    "You know, I hate to interrupt your game already. Mind if I join?" Wyatt asked. Clefairy hopped up and down excitedly.

    Koa grinned. "Only if you got game."

    A dangerous gleam entered Wyatt's eyes. "Oh trust me, I've probably got more than you can handle."

    For the next few hours, Koa found himself playing with Wyatt and his Clefairy. Wyatt was more skilled than he expected, and both him and his Pokémon enjoyed the workout. Finally, they both flopped onto the grass, sides heaving and matching smiles on their faces.

    "You're not bad," Wyatt said.

    "And you don't suck as much as I expected," Koa replied, smirking.

    "Ha ha." Wyatt stretched, then stood up. "I have to head back to the Poffin House for a class. You should join me. Any aspiring Pokémon Trainer should make poffins for their Pokémon at least once."

    Koa glanced over at his Pokémon, who were all happy but worn out. "You guys hungry?" They all gave cries of agreement simultaneously. He turned back to Wyatt. "Well I guess that decides it."


    An hour later, Koa found himself standing over a pot of simmering water, staring at it nervously.

    "Now, select the berries you wish to use for your Poffins. Remember, Pecha berries are sweet, Cheri berries are spicy, Chesto is dry, Rawst is bitter, and Aspear is sour."

    Apparently, Wyatt was the one teaching the class. There were only a couple of other trainers present. Several specialized cooking pots had been set up on tables around the rooms, and already had gently simmering water going. Wyatt's Clefairy stood on a table at the front of the class, watching attentively.

    Koa listened best as he could, though he couldn't help but feel nervous. Blake usually did the cooking at home, and on the road he ate pre-cooked meals. After some thought, he decided to go with the Pecha berries. He wanted to give Echo an extra treat, and he knew the Golbat liked sweets. He put the specified amount of berries in the pot, then stopped. On whim, he tossed in a few Cheri berries. Hazard would like that.

    "Now, stir the berries slowly. You have to be careful not to spill it at this stage." Clefairy began to tap her foot in a steady rhythm, wagging her finger back and forth in time. Wyatt walked around the room, giving instruction to the other two trainers present. "Slow down just a bit," he advised as he passed Koa.

    After a few seconds, the mixture began to thicken. "Now," Wyatt said, "the mixture is thicker, so you can begin to mix faster." Clefairy sped up her count slightly. A few moments later, Wyatt spoke again. "The mixture is in its final stages. Mix it very fast-"

    A loud pop echoed through the room and everything went dark. One of the trainers cried out in surprise. Koa's hair stood on end and a strange crackle filled the air.

    "Everyone, stay calm-"

    Clefairy cried out in distress suddenly, then her voice was cut off. Koa whirled towards the noise, but he couldn't see anything. The entire room was pitch black.

    "Clefairy?" Wyatt called, fear filling his voice.

    "Chimchar, come out!" Someone shouted. A moment later, there was a flash of white light and a Chimchar appeared, lighting the room with the glow of its tail. Koa could just make out the anxious faces of the other trainers, as well as Wyatt's face. Suddenly, the lights flickered back on. Koa looked around. Two of the bulbs looked shattered, and an acrid burning scent began to fill the air. Koa scowled. The Poffins. Black smoke began to drift from the cooking pots as the mixtures burned.

    "Clefairy!" Wyatt wailed. "Someone stole Clefairy!"

    Koa snapped to attention. Without a second thought, he sprinted out the door. Rage burned inside him. This sounded like the work of Team Blackout. Power outage? The crackle in the air? It was all too familiar. They'd already stolen from Rowan. No way would he let them take Wyatt's Clefairy. He quickly released Echo and Hazard as he glanced up and down the street. They were fairly empty, with only a few passerby, far in the distance.

    "Echo, take Hazard. Someone just stole Wyatt's Cleafiry, and I think they used an Electric-type. We have to find them!"

    Echo and Hazard nodded, wearing identical angry glares. They'd both enjoyed the Fairy-types company, and were none too happy to hear what happened. Echo fluttered into the air, his eyes closed. Hazard perched on his head, every hair on his body standing on end. Koa knew all electric types could sense other electric-types, to an extent. He could only hope that the two of them could track down the criminal before it was too late. A loud shriek from Echo told him all he needed to know. He'd found his prey.

    Koa glanced up just in time to see Echo take off. He followed Echo as he zigzagged through Hearthome at a speed that shocked even Koa. Once, he nearly lost sight of Echo, but quickly caught up. Soon, they entered the neighborhood district. Echo led him past several houses, to one at the end of a block.

    From the outside, it appeared abandoned. Shutters covered the windows, and weeds poked from the slightly overgrown lawn. The paint was beginning to peel in a couple of places and vines and started to take over the sides of the house. Echo landed on the porch, his normally cheerful face twisted in rage.

    Koa slowly walked up the path. As soon as he approached the house, he felt a faint static tingle spread over his arms. This definitely felt like the place. He edged up to the door, pressing his ear against it. He heard a man grunting, then an angry curse.

    "Hold still you stupid Clefairy. If you get damaged I won't get any money for ya."

    A deep scowl etched itself on Koa's face and he took a step back. He withdrew Tyrunt's Pokéball and pressed the button. She emerged, looking about in confusion. "The man inside this house kidnapped Wyatt's Clefairy." His voice shook with anger, and it took all his strength to keep his tone low, so the thief wouldn't hear. "He tried to steal her, and he stole from another friend of mine. We're going to stop it."

    A malicious grin spread across Rascal's face. "Just wait one moment," he ordered. Rascal looked annoyed at having to wait one moment more but obediently sat down. Koa switched on his Poketch and turned to the Phone App. He dialed in a quick anonymous call to the local police, explained that he'd seen a poacher hiding in the neighborhood, then hung up. He had no plans of waiting for them.

    "Hazard, Echo, behind me. Tear down the door, Rascal," he snapped. Grinning with delight, she charged the door. In seconds, she had gotten enough grip to wrench the door straight from its hinges. She hurled it aside as if it were no more than a twig, and roared. The sound shook the entire house.

    Koa sprinted inside, Echo and Hazard close behind. The thief stood several feet away from the door, his eyes wide and his entire body trembling. A tiny, cramped cage at his feet contained a terrified looking Clefairy. The man himself wore a dark jacket and long black pants. Smudges of dark face paint covered his cheeks and forehead. Looking closely, Koa guessed he couldn't be more than a year or two over twenty.

    "Oh, you're just a kid," the man spoke, his voice gravelly but smug. Koa let out a primal yell and charged the man. His eyes widened and he fumbled for a Pokéball, releasing a Zebstrika.

    Eerily, he was reminded of the man who ran him off the bridge when he first left Canalave. Could it be the same one? Either way, he didn't care. Team Blackout would pay. Pay for stealing from Rowan, and for trying to steal Clefairy. And for ruining his Poffins. Koa stopped short, glaring at the Zebstrika.

    Rascal hurtled herself across the room, smashing the shocked Zebstrika out of the way. They began to exchange blows, but Koa paid them no mind. He was fairly confident Rascal could handle herself. "Back her up," he shouted. He trusted his other two Pokémon to understand what he meant. Then he leaped at the man, catching him by surprise and tackling him to the ground.

    "What in the name of Arceus are you doing, kid? This is a Pokémon battle!"

    Koa growled, pinning the man as best he could. "I don't care about your stupid Pokémon. They're not the ones who stole Clefairy!" He punched the man in the face. The man was stunned, but only for a moment. With a mighty heave, he hurled Koa across the room. Koa landed hard but quickly got up. The man raised his fists and started to advance on him.

    Behind him, Koa could hear his Pokémon still fighting. He risked a quick glance back. Rascal had backed Zebstrika into a corner with Ancient Power, and Echo had evidently caught it with his Poison Fang. Hazard clung expertly to its back, sucking its electricity. Koa couldn't help but grin. They were fighting excellently.

    He turned back around just in time to see the man throw a punch. Koa wildly threw up his hand to block. The punch hit his arm, sending a jolt of pain through it. He grimaced, then jabbed at the man's gut, making him stagger. The man shoved him hard. Koa stumbled and fell backward, landing on his back, hard. The man was upon him in a second, his fist raised.

    A sudden flash of blue fur shot across Koa's vision and an ear-splitting shriek filled the room. The man cried out in pain and scrambled backwards, a furious Golbat chomping on his head. Echo released the man a second later, and Koa pounced on the opportunity. Standing up, he stumbled over to the man, who lay stunned. He kicked him in the side as hard as he could.

    "That's for trying to steal Clefairy." He kicked him again, making the man grunt. "That's for running me off the road." He kicked him one last time, throwing all his rage into the blow. The man yelped. "That's for stealing from Professor Rowan! Pass the message on to the rest of your stupid crew. If I ever see one of them, I'll fight them myself." He spat on the man, then turned away. After a split second hesitation, he turned back around again and kicked him, though not quite as hard. "And that's for ruining my poffins."

    Koa glared down at him, then stalked away. He told his Pokémon to keep an eye on the criminal, then freed Clefairy from the cage. He'd hardly finished opening it before she hopped over to him and nuzzled his leg, then tapped his foot three times. Smiling, he patted her head three times in return. This evidently made her very happy, and she bounced up and down, making happy cries. Picking her up, he brought her outside and sat on the porch steps.

    Now that he was outside, his adrenaline drained away. He thought about what he'd done. Sprinting like a mad man after a criminal who he had no idea if they were dangerous, then confronting and fighting said criminal. Blake probably wouldn't approve. But he didn't regret it. Sure, it had been incredibly risky, but he'd saved Clefairy. And the man would be sore for a while, but he knew none of his blows would deal serious damage. He hoped, however, that the idiot would think twice before trying to steal someone else's Pokémon.

    Koa shuddered at the idea. If someone tried that with Echo... pushing away the thought, he saw the flashing lights of the police bike pull around the corner. He heaved a sigh of relief. This would all be over soon.


    Soon turned out to be an overstatement. It took more time to explain everything to the police than he expected. They took the criminal away, promising that he would be tried for his crimes. Then he had to go down to the station and give a second statement, then get his Pokémon a checkup, just in case. When all was said and done, it was nearing evening.

    Koa was anxious to get back to Wyatt. He couldn't only imagine the panic he was going through and confusion. After all, the day had gone from teaching a Poffin class to seeing Koa sprint out the door after his stolen Clefairy.

    He found Wyatt at the Pokémon Center. As soon as he stepped through the doors, Clefairy hopped out of his arms and raced over to Wyatt. Wyatt's eyes went wide when he saw her, and he dropped to his knees and embraced her. Koa smiled fondly at the sight. His eyes watered slightly, and he blinked a few times. Clefairy was safe.

    After a long moment, Wyatt finally stood up, holding Clefairy close to his chest. He walked over to Koa and stood in front of him. His eyes shimmered with tears of gratitude. "The officer told me what you did... how you saved her. Thank you, Koa. I don't think I could ever repay you."

    Koa shook his head. "You don't have to. I'm just happy I got there in time." Wyatt nodded, too choked up to say anything else. "I am curious though. When I found her, she tapped my foot three times. What does that mean?"

    Wyatt raised his eyebrows. "That's... really surprising. It's her way of calling someone a good friend."

    At that, Koa's eyes really started to water. Dang it. He wouldn't cry, not now. It was hard to believe the cautious little Clefairy from the park considered him a friend.

    "Oh... Well..." he coughed awkwardly. "I'm just glad she's back where she belongs."

    Wyatt remained silent for a moment, then his eyes lit up. "Wait here I'll be right back!" Then he turned and sprinted out the door. Koa stared after him. He couldn't fathom where the young boy had gone. Or when he'd be back. But he assumed it was clearly important to him, so he supposed he'd just have to wait. With a shrug, he selected a seat in the lobby of the Pokémon Center, and waited.

    Around thirty minutes later Wyatt returned, breathless, carrying a strange case in his hands. It was cylindrical shaped, with a metal top and bottom. Grinning proudly, he handed it to Koa. Koa gaped at it. He'd seen similar cases before. They were egg incubators. Inside lay a pale blue egg with white spots. A small Pokéball was set into the base.

    "I... I can't take this," he protested, backing away.

    "Please. This is the only way for me to thank you. As a breeder, an egg is my most sacred possession. Please accept it." Koa stared nervously into Wyatt's eyes. It was hard to refuse a plea like that. But an Egg was not part of the Plan. And also, he hadn't planned for an egg. At all. Sure, with the rise of incubators, they were much easier to raise, but the thought still made him a bit nervous.

    "Okay. Thanks. A lot. I really appreciate it." And he did. A Pokémon given as a gift, or even an egg, was not something to take lightly. Whatever Pokémon hatched from it, he would treasure forever. "Do you know what- Never mind, actually. I don't want to know."

    Wyatt smiled at that. "I know you'll take good care of it. Thank you again. And Clefairy said thank you too."

    Koa bid him farewell, then looked down at the incubator and whistled. A real egg... Rowan had been right. Journeys were full of surprises.


    The next morning, Koa sat inside the Contest Hall, heart beating with excitement. Being the largest venue in the city, it had been chosen for Callahan's conference. And the turnout was huge. On either side of him, all the way to the end of the row, people were packed into the hall. From what he could see, there were people from all over Sinnoh, and beyond. He was a little surprised to see so many other people interested in legendaries. Although Callahan being practically a celebrity in Johto probably had something to do with it as well.

    "Now introducing Callahan of the Johto region!" A tall, well-built gentleman strode onto the stage. He wore a long dark blue coat with a collar that reached higher than his chin. His well-styled mahogany hair shone in the stage lighting, and his stance communicated the picture of poise and intelligence. Koa leaped to his feet and began clapping, as did the entire stadium.

    He smiled amiably, waving his hands, soaking in the praise. Once the applause died down and everyone sat down, Callahan spoke. "Hellooo Sinnoh region!" He called. "For years, many have pursued the greatest mysteries of the Pokémon world - Legendary Pokémon!" The crowd murmured excitedly. "There is so much we still don't know about them. Yet there is much we do know. Today, I have come to tell you about one of the Johto region's greatest legends."

    Koa sat forward in his chair. Canalave library contained a great deal of Sinnoh myths, but not as much about other regions. Instead, he'd had to do extensive research through books and articles he'd found on his own. There were essentially two great birds - Ho-Oh and Lugia. Then there were the 'legendary beasts', a trio of canine-like Pokémon. He had plenty of theories of his own, but his real interest lay in Callahan's theories about them, however.

    "I will begin with the Tale of the Brass Tower. Many years ago, there stood two great towers. They were known as the Brass Tower and the Bell Tower. During a time of terrible war between people, the Brass Tower caught fire."

    The crowd collectively gasped, while Koa simply watched Callahan, enraptured.

    Callahan gazed around at the crowd, who were completely invested in his story. After a suitable dramatic pause, he continued. "According to legend, the tower burned for three days. In that time, three Pokémon lost their lives in the fire."

    Koa swallowed, curiosity and sadness filling him. He felt bad for the three Pokémon, but curious as well. What sort of Pokémon were they? And how had the fire started?

    "A sudden downpour put out the flames, but the damage had been done. The three Pokémon were gone. It was then that the great phoenix, Ho-Oh, left his perch at the Bell Tower to appear before the burned remains of Brass Tower." Callahan turned to a screen behind him, gesturing to an image of a burned down tower. Judging by the base of the structure, it had once been an impressive monument.

    "Using its power, Ho-Oh revived the three Pokémon and granted them new forms. I believe these forms embody the three events that occurred at the tower. The lightning that struck it, the fire that raged, and the rain that put it out."

    Incredible! Koa mused over the revelation. Ho-Oh really had the power to revive fallen Pokémon?

    "But many of you already know these legends. There are countless books describing this event. I, however, have another theory. Could the origin of the legendary birds of the beasts somehow be connected? And how do the elements fire, ice and lightning relate to one another?" Callahan gave another dramatic pause, letting his words simmer. "There is still so much we don't know. For example, how did the fire truly begin? And is it true that the great guardian of the seas, Lugia, once resided at the Brass Tower? It is my greatest dream to one day meet these legendary 'beasts' and understand the secrets they hold. Now, I would like to discuss a bit more about the potential role legendaries play in our world..."

    Callahan continued his speech for another hour, and Koa listened raptly the entire time. The discussion soon turned to Sinnoh's own legendaries, discussing the role of legendaries as guardians, and deities. Finally, to his disappointment, Callahan bid the crowd farewell. He was met with a standing ovation as he left the stage. Koa leaned back in his chair, realizing he'd been sitting on the edge the entire time. Callahan's speech had left him thinking. Could it really be possible to catch a legendary, such as Suicune or Raikou? No doubt, to even have a chance, he'd have to be much, much stronger. There was one thing he knew about legendaries, they were some of the most powerful Pokémon in existence. They could even stand up to a powerhouse like Cynthia. Which meant he needed to keep catching Pokémon and building his team. And training.

    Deep in thought, he made his way back to the Pokémon Center. He had one more night before he would be asked to leave. Technically, he could stay as long as he needed, but Pokémon Center's tried to limit how many consecutive days a trainer stayed in a room, so that they always had a new room for a traveling trainer. Just as he was about to head to his room, Nurse Joy called out to him.

    "Koamaru Averon?"

    Koa paused, glancing towards the desk. "Yeah?"

    "There is a message for you from a Professor Rowan. He says to call him immediately."

    "Uh... ok. Thanks." He headed to the video phone room, wondering what Rowan wanted to talk to him about so soon.

    A few moments later, Rowan appeared on the screen. His face appeared gruff as ever, though Koa saw a pleased twinkle in his eye. "Hello, Koa. I am calling you about an urgent matter that may interest you."

    "What's up?" Koa asked.

    "I heard about your little fiasco with Team Blackout."

    Just hearing the name made Koa feel annoyed. "Yeah. They tried to steal a Pokémon. I had to try and stop them."

    "Hmmm... I understand. Normally I would advise you to be more cautious, but I fear the warning might be lost on you. However, I have excellent news for you. The police spoke to the man you apprehended, and we got back some stolen Pokémon. One of the Pokémon they recovered is the very same one Blake and I were going to give you."

    As Rowan continued, Koa's eyes grew wider and wider and his jaw dropped. "You got back the Pokémon they stole from you?!" he exclaimed. "Sick!"

    Rowan gave the barest hint of a smile. "I suspected you would be pleased. Would you like me to send it over?"

    "Yes!" Koa shouted. His outburst earned him a few surprised or annoyed looks from the other trainers using the phones, but he ignored them. The prospect of a special Pokémon from Rowan and Blake had him too excited. What if it was a Tyrogue? Maybe a Gible! Or a Gyarados... wait those couldn't hatch from an egg. Still, the possibilities had him shaking with excitement.

    "Hmm... Very well. I assume you don't already have six Pokémon?" Rowan asked. As he spoke, he stepped briefly away from the screen to retrieve something, before coming back into view holding a Pokéball.

    Koa shook his head. "Right now, I just have my Golbat, Joltik, and Tyrunt."

    "Very good. I will have your Pokémon sent over shortly. Take good care of it. Your cousin worked hard to breed it."

    Still in shock, Koa nodded. He watched in anticipation as Rowan placed the Pokéball in the transporter machine. It glowed with a white light, then vanished. A moment later, it appeared in front of Koa, in the transporter slot.

    "Thank you Prof," he shouted. He quickly hung up, then took the Pokéball. His imagination ran wild with thoughts of the kind of Pokémon inside. With a wide grin, he pressed the released button. The familiar bright light coalesced into a four-legged form, then faded. For a moment, Koa didn't recognize the Pokémon that stood before him. Short black fur covered its canine body, and gray bands wrapped around its ankles. Its underbelly and snout were both a dark orange in color. On its head was a distinctive gray skull-like shape.

    The Pokémon barked happily and wagged its stubby tail. Then it jumped on him, knocking him to the ground and licking him enthusiastically. Koa laughed and stroked its head, scratching it behind the ears. It covered him in licks again then padded around the room, sniffing everything. Koa took the opportunity to pull out his Pokédex and scan it.

    Houndour, the Dark Pokémon. Houndour hunt as a coordinated pack. They communicate with each other using a variety of cries to corner their prey. This Pokémon's remarkable teamwork is unparalleled. This Houndour is male and knows the moves Ember, Howl, Bite and Thunder Fang. Its ability is Flash Fire.

    Right, Houndour. They were native to Johto region, though a few were known to roam Sinnoh and other regions as well. That was why he didn't remember it at first. He was also shocked it knew Thunder Fang. Such a move could not normally be learned by wild Houndour. Rowan hadn't been joking when he said Blake worked hard on it. Koa smiled at Houndour, holding out his hand to him. Houndour sniffed his hand, then barked, his eyes sparkling with excitement. A Houndour hadn't been in his plan, but Koa didn't care.

    Besides, there were still two slots left.

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Houndour (Male) {Ability: Flash Fire} - Ember, Howl, Bite, Thunder Fang

    BZRich64 likes this.
  8. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    Chapter 9! I figure if anyone feels like commenting/reviewing and etc, I don't mind if people post on this thread. And it would be fun to discuss the story, if anyone has any questions.

    So here we are at Chapter 9! Koa nearly has a full team, and he makes his way to Pastoria to challenge Wake. I wonder what's in that mysterious egg...

    Now, on to the story!

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Houndour (Male) {Ability: Flash Fire} - Ember, Thunder Fang, Bite, Howl

    Koa stood just outside Hearthome city, on the early stretch of Route 212. A scattering of sparse woods spread on either side of him, a cool breeze blew. The sky overhead had turned a slightly darker shade of blue, and the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon. Normally, he would have waited to leave Hearthome until morning, but after receiving Houndour, he'd simply been too excited to wait. Besides, if he left now, he could get a headstart on getting to Pastoria City.

    It was also a perfect day to introduce his new friend to the team. He'd left not long after Professor Rowan sent him over, so he hadn't had a chance to let everyone meet him. Now that he was ready to travel to Pastoria, however, he wanted to properly introduce him. His other Pokémon were already out, standing in a loose semi-circle around him.

    "Come on out, Houndour!" he called, tossing his Pokéball into the air. Bright light emerged and formed into Houndour's canine form before fading. Houndour gave a happy bark, then looked around, examining his surroundings.

    "Everyone, meet our new team member, Houndour." Echo screeched excitedly, fluttering off over to land in front of Houndour. Almost immediately, his demeanor changed. A growl rose in his throat, and his ears lay flat. Echo took a step back before fluttering several feet away, crestfallen.

    Koa frowned. "Houndour, relax. These are your new team members. Your friends."

    Hazard stepped forward, his fur sparking in annoyance, and glared up at Houndour. Houndour snorted and looked away from the little Joltik, as if dismissing it. Then he turned to face Rascal. The two locked eyes and immediately began growling.

    "Hey! Knock it off," Koa shouted. Houndour immediately backed down and sat obediently beside his trainer. His other Pokémon glared at Houndour, clearly displeased. Koa frowned. This wasn't good. He hadn't expected such a poor reception. Yesterday, Houndour had been so friendly with him... What had changed? He thought back to everything he'd read up on Houndour last night. They were loyal pack Pokémon and usually cared deeply for their pack members. Maybe Houndour simply didn't see the other Pokémon as his pack yet?

    "Well, Houndour, these are going to be your new packmates, so you'll have to get used to them eventually. But in the meantime, I think I'm gonna nickname you."

    At that, Houndour's tail began to wag again. Fortunately, Koa had already deliberated on the perfect nickname. It had taken him a great deal of thought, but he'd finally settled on a name he'd read about ages ago. The Canalave library had had many books on ancient mythology. One such book referred to a being thought to be part Pokémon, part human, and whose followers were convinced it served Yveltal and helped ferry lost souls."How about Anubis?" Houndour barked in agreement. "Anubis it is, then," Koa said with a smile. He'd ultimately chosen it for three reasons. First, it was a name from mythology, which he loved. Second, it fit Houndour, somehow. And third... well, his Houndour had been a bit like a lost soul, he supposed. Stolen by Team Blackout but eventually returned. Now he just had to figure out how to get Anubis used to the team.

    With that in mind, he set out down Route 212. For the first part, it was a simple road cutting between a sparse woods. He opted to keep everyone but Echo and Anubis in their Pokeballs. After a short walk, he brought out his bike to pick up the pace. Route 212 was easily one of the longest routes in Sinnoh, and would take a week or more to cross. By bike, he figured he could make the trip in 5 days. The evening wore on and it began to grow darker out. It would be time to make camp soon.

    "Hey, you there! Stop!"

    Koa pulled the brakes on his bike and looked to see a man wearing a guard uniform approach him. He shone a flashlight at Koa, making him squint. Houndour began to growl, but Koa quickly shushed him.

    "What are you doing here?" the guard demanded.

    "Walking," snapped Koa, struggling to keep the irritation out of his voice. The guard lowered the flashlight beam slightly.

    "Let me see your trainer's license."

    Koa scowled and rummaged through his backpack, careful not to disturb the egg. He handed it to the guard. "I'm a trainer, and I'm just traveling to Pastoria City."

    The guard shined his flashlight on the trainer ID. "Hmm..." A moment later, he handed it back. "I'm terribly sorry about that," he said, his tone changing from gruff to amiable. "With all these robberies and pokenappings, us guards have been on high alert. I protect the Pokémon Mansion, you see. My name is Bobby, by the way."

    Koa glanced past the guard, realizing for the first time that a large fence ran down part of the route. Just beyond the fence, he could make out the roof of an exceedingly tall and large building. Now that he thought about it, he remembered seeing an article talking about the mansion and its beautiful gardens. "It's alright," Koa conceded. "And I'm Koamaru. Although you probably saw that already," he added.

    Bobby smiled. "Hey, that Houndour of yours looks pretty tough. Want to battle?"

    Koa's eyes lit up. He hadn't had the chance to use Anubis in a proper battle yet, and he needed the experience. He was by far the weakest member of his team. "Sure!"

    "How about a one on one? I have to keep one of my Pokémon healthy, just in case."

    "Sure," Koa said. He looked down at Houndour, who had sat patiently by his feet the whole time. "Ready for your first battle?" Anubis barked and leaped to his feet.

    Bobby led him to a spot a short way off the road. He took a Pokéball from his belt and tossed it out. A rather impressive Hoothoot appeared. It stared at Anubis with its large red eyes, then cocked its head sideways. "I'll take the first move if you don't mind," Bobby said.

    Koa shrugged. "Sure."

    "Use Peck!" Bobby called. Hoothoot's beak began to glow and it flapped into the air. A moment later, it dived at Anubis.

    "Ember," Koa said. Anubis growled, then opened his jaws and unleashed a flurry of red hot embers towards the approaching Hoothoot.

    "Dodge, Hoot hoot," Bobby called. Hoothoot whirled out of the way of the embers, only a few grazing it, then struck Anubis head-on.

    Anubis dug in, sliding back only a few inches before shaking Hoothoot away. Hoothoot landed at the other end of the battlefield, a fierce gleam in its eyes.

    "Quick Ember again!" Anubis launched another flurry of embers at Hoothoot.

    "Hold it back with Confusion." Hoothoot's eyes glowed bright blue, easily catching the embers midair. With a twist of its head, it hurled them back at Houndour twice as fast. They struck him, Houndour didn't even flinch. Instead, he seemed to smile as the embers were absorbed into his body.

    Bobby grimaced as Koa grinned. Houndour's special ability, Flash Fire, absorbed damage from any fire type moves and increased his power.

    "Echoed voice!" Bobby shouted. Hoothoot opened its beak and emitted a loud cry that rivaled even Echo's shrieks. Koa covered his ears and Anubis folded his ears back, cringing. Over the noise, he just barely heard Bobby's command.

    "Keep it up, Hoothoot." The sound ceased for a half-second as Hoothoot took a breath. Then it started up again, twice as loud. Koa grimaced. He had to stop it soon. Echoed Voice increased in power the longer its user kept it up.

    "Use Howl!" Still cringing, Anubis threw his head back and let loose a loud howl. His entire body flared up with energy for a moment. "Now, charge in with Thunder Fang." Anubis sprinted at Hoothoot, struggling against the force of the Echoed Voice. His jaws opened wide, crackling with electricity. The Hoothoot's eyes widened in shock and it poured more energy into its attack. Houndour pressed forward, eyes narrowed in determination. With a final, mighty leap, Anubis lunged forward and sank his jaws into Hoothoot. Electricity spasmed across its body, cutting off Echoed Voice. A moment later, it fell limp. Anubis dropped it, grinning gleefully.

    Bobby held out a Pokéball and returned Hoothoot. "Not bad, kid," he said, looking up. "I wasn't expecting a Houndour to know Thunder Fang."

    Koa returned Houndour, who was looking exhausted now that the fight had ended. "Thanks. Your Hoothoot was strong too."

    Bobby ended up giving him some money as a reward, and he left feeling fairly pleased. Despite his win however, he knew Houndour had gotten lucky. If it hadn't been for his Egg move, Thunder Fang, he would have lost. Which meant he needed to start making plans for training Anubis. Tomorrow, he decided. For now, he would let his Houndour rest. He set off once more, keeping an eye on the sky. It was growing dark out, but he figured a few more minutes wouldn't hurt. Besides, it was a nice night out. The moon hung bright in the sky, and plenty of stars lit the night. He followed the Route straight south for a while until he reached the entrance to the Pokémon Mansion.

    Now that he saw it from the front, he realized it was truly spectacular. It stood nearly three stories tall, with a magnificent red roof. Counting windows, he realized with a jolt there had to be at least twenty rooms, possibly more. A long paved path ran up to the front of the mansion, with rows of beautiful flowers dotting either side. The distant sound of flowing water emanated from the fountains along the walkway and near the entrance, he spotted to grandiose statues. Koa let out a low whistle. The place was really something.

    He turned away, scanning the area to find a suitable spot to camp. In the distance, he spotted an older couple making their way towards the entrance to the mansion.

    As they approached, the lady spoke. "Ah, were you admiring the mansion young man?"

    Koa nodded. "It's pretty sick!" He took a closer look at the lady. She wore a simple yet elegant purple dress, complete with a hat and scarf. The gentleman wore a brown suit and formal cap and carried a cane, though it didn't look like he used it for walking. What caught his eyes, however, was the Pokéball the woman carried in one gloved hand.

    "Are you a trainer, young man?" the gentleman asked.

    "Yeah. Are you guys trainers too?"

    The lady chuckled softly. "Not exactly, but we do raise Pokémon. My name is Reina. What's yours, dear?"


    "And I'm Jeremy," the gentleman said, offering his hand. Koa shook it.

    "I remember being your age and competing in the gym circuit. Of course, that was quite some time ago," Jeremy said. "Tell me, how many badges do you have?"

    Koa frowned. "Only two. I was going to get my third at Hearthome, but I guess Fantina isn't there."

    Jeremy shook his head. "Hmph. Same thing happened to me during my journey."

    "Fantina seems to take her little training trips at the worst times," Reina commented.

    "I know right?" Koa burst out. "I mean, I know training is important, but I wish she could have gone another time."

    Reina patted him comfortingly on the shoulder. "I know it is not much comfort, but would you like to battle Jeremy and I? I remember a good battle always cheered me up when I was upset."

    Koa smiled. "Sure!"

    Jeremy spoke up. "Tell you what, young man. Reina and I will make you a deal. If you beat us in a tag battle, you may stay in a guest room at the Mansion."

    Koa's eyes went wide. "Really? Wow, that would be awesome!" he grinned. "You better get ready to lose."

    Reina and Jeremy grinned, a fire lighting in their eyes. "Don't think we'll be going easy on you, young man," Reina said.

    The couple led him to a clearing a short ways away from the gate. They both tossed out pokeballs, Jeremy releasing a Chatot and Reina releasing a Roselia.

    Chatot emerged onto the field and fluttered elegantly down, then took a bow. Roselia did a little twirl and flourish. Koa eyed the two Pokémon thoughtfully. Neither appeared overly tough, but he didn't want to take a chance. He really wanted a chance to stay in the mansion. Selecting two pokeballs from his belt, he tossed them out.

    "Go Hazard, Rascal," his two Pokémon emerged onto the field. Rascal snarled and sparks danced across his Joltik's fur.

    "My that is an impressive Pokémon. What is it?" Reina asked, gesturing to Rascal.

    "A Tyrunt," Koa said proudly. " They're from the Kalos region I revived her from a fossil I found myself."

    "My my... well, this will be interesting," Jeremy said. "I consider myself a gentleman, so you may have the first move."

    Koa took a moment to mentally prepare himself. "Hazard, Bug Bite on Roselia. Rascal, use Ancient Power on Chatot."

    Hazard dived forwards, jaws glowing, and Rascal began to charge up a large silver boulder. Hazard darted across the field, drawing closer and closer to Roselia. Still, it wasn't until he was almost upon them before their trainers gave a command.

    "Peck," Jeremy called. Almost simultaneously, Reina gave her command. "Roselia, Magical Leaf."

    Chatot darted across the field, intercepting Hazard. The Peck attack struck him hard in the side, sending him flying. Simultaneously, Magical Leaf and Ancient Power collided. The boulder shattered easily and Magical Leaf collided with Tyrunt. Rascal staggered back from the force of the attack, then roared angrily. Koa scowled. He found himself both impressed and annoyed. The two Pokémon had moved in perfect sync. They weren't strong, but they were an excellent team.

    "Chatot, Hyper voice!"

    "Roselia, Stun Spore."

    Chatot flew into the air and opened its beak. A loud noise filled the air as waves of blue sound-energy erupted from the tiny Chatot. Below, Roselia twirled her flowers, yellow spores drifting from them and filling the battlefield around Roselia.

    Chatot's Hyper Voice struck both Hazard and Rascal, knocking them back. Koa found himself amazed once again at his opponents' teamwork. Chatot had needed no prompting from its trainers to know to dodge Stun Spore by flying up. And until the spores dispersed, Rascal wouldn't be able to get close. Clearly, Koa realized he would have to step up his teamwork to win.

    "Rascal, Ancient Power, and far as you can shoot it," he said, a plan forming in his mind. He knew Reina and Jeremy's Pokémon weren't as strong as his, and were at a type disadvantage. All he needed was a couple good hits. "Hazard, String Shot on the boulder," he said.

    Rascal opened her jaws, forming the large silver boulder. A moment later, she blasted it, aiming right between Roselia and Chatot. Just as she fired it, Hazard latched on with his String Shot. He was yanked forwards, putting him directly between Roselia and Chatot.

    "Electroweb!" Koa shouted. Hazard leaped off the boulder as it crashed harmlessly into the brush. Electricity gathered between his pincers, then he fired it straight at a shocked Chatot. The web pinned it to a tree, shocking it mercilessly. Hazard landed a few feet away, eyes sparkling triumphantly.

    "Cut Chatot free with Magical Leaf," Reina called. Roselia immediately spun towards the pinned Chatot, firing a stream of sharp glowing leaves. The Magical Leaf struck Electroweb, cutting Chatot free, though the bird appeared exhausted. It fluttered in the air, barely able to stay aloft.

    Koa grinned. Roselia had left herself wide open, and the paralyzing spores had dispersed. "Rascal, Bite!" Rascal grinned and charged across the battlefield, jaws open wide.

    "Roselia watch out! Use Poison Sting," Reina shouted.

    "Chatot, Sing," Jeremy said confidently. Chatot opened its beak, the beginning of a song forming.

    "String Shot," Koa called. Joltik fired a fine thread of webbing upwards, wrapping it around Chatot's beak and wiring it shut. The Chatot eyes widened in alarm. Meanwhile, Rascal charged straight through the Poison Sting, taking the hit and sinking her jaws into Roselia. She tossed Roselia to the ground, kicking up a cloud of dirt. Her body trembled slightly, and Koa suspected she'd been poisoned.

    "Roselia, get up," Reina pleaded.

    Koa grinned. Time to end this. "Bug Bite!" Hazard lunged at the weakened Roselia, sinking his pincers in. It gave a single cry of pain before collapsing. At that moment, Chatot seemed to find a new reserve of strength. With a defiant screech, it broke through the webbing on its beak.

    "Use Chatter!" Jeremy shouted. Chatot opened its beak and a strange, raucous noise came from within. Both Hazard and Rascal cringed and took a step back. A moment later, Hazard's eyes began to glaze over.

    "Oh no," Koa groaned. If memory served, Chatter was a move that had a chance to confuse the opponent. Clearly, Hazard had fallen under its sway.

    "Rascal, charge in!"

    "Hyper Voice."

    Rascal charged forwards, taking the strike from Hyper Voice. "Dragon Tail!" Koa shouted.

    "Dodge!" Jeremy called.

    With a roar, Rascal leaped into the air, tail glowing. Chatot tried to dart away, but the damage from earlier had taken its toll. She swung her tail in a masterful arc, striking the Chatot in the side and sending it crashing into the ground below. A moment later, the dust cleared, revealing the unconscious form of Chatot.

    Jeremy and Reina both smiled and returned their Pokémon.

    Koa returned his two Pokémon, beaming.

    "That was some good strategy, Koamaru," Reina said. Jeremy came up behind her and held out his hand. Koa shook it, still smiling. He was proud of how well Rascal was coming along. She'd tanked two hits excellently. "Thanks. You really had me there in the beginning. Those were some sick combos."

    "Why thank you," Jeremy said. "The Stun Spore one was my wife's idea, actually."

    Reina smiled proudly at him. "My husband came up with most of our techniques. We've been training Roselia and Chatot for a couple months now."

    Koa cocked his head. "Those aren't your regular Pokémon?"

    Reina and Jeremy both broke into laughter. "Good heavens, no," Jeremy said. "We've raised plenty of Pokémon, back in the day. Now my Reina and I just do it for fun."

    Koa raised his eyebrows. If those were just their practice Pokémon, he wondered what the rest of their team looked like.

    "Well, a deal is a deal," Reina said, smiling at him. "Follow us, and we'll show you to the guest room."

    Elation flowed through Koa as he followed them. They let him through the front gate, and Koa followed them quietly, taking in his surroundings. The fountains were ornate, and the landscaping was exquisite. The Mansion was even more impressive up close, he reflected.

    Jeremy held the doors open for both him and Reina, and Koa stepped inside. Lush, thick carpets covered the floors. Elegant chandeliers hung from the ceiling, illuminating the entryway. A grand stairway stretched upwards, leading to the second and third floors. A few maids cleaning some expensive-looking vases and artifacts waved to them.

    "Found another trainer, Miss Yoshino?" One of them called.

    "Indeed," Reina said, waving back.

    "And I daresay this one has some potential," Jeremy added.

    Koa grinned again at the praise but said nothing. It felt strange to be around such wealth. Jeremy and Reina led him down a series of hallways and through doors until they reached the guest quarters. They stopped in front of a set of double mahogany doors.

    Jeremy gestured to the doors. "Here is your guest room, Koamaru. Feel free to use whatever amenities you like, and let your Pokémon out. There is a call button for one of the maids, should you need anything."

    "And I know how hard traveling on the road can be, so just leave your traveling clothes outside the door, and we'll have them washed for you," Reina said with a smile.

    Koa nodded, his eyes darting to the door. He was eager to go in and check it out.

    "We usually eat breakfast at 9 o'clock, sharp," Reina added. "You're free to join us, but don't be late." They both looked at each other and seemed to reach some kind of silent agreement.

    "I think that covers it. You may go in," Reina said.

    "Thank you very much," Koa said. He pushed open the doors to the room and stifled a gasp. Luxury didn't even come close. The room alone was nearly the size of his house. A large, plush bed sat at one end, overlooking a window. There was a computer in the room, and several smaller beds stacked in one corner, seemingly for Pokémon. Hesitantly, he poked his head in the bathroom. It was probably the size of his whole bedroom and contained a tub the size of a kiddie pool, and cabinets full of potions and medicines. "Awesome," he murmured. Returning to the main room, he flopped down on the bed, letting out a contented sigh. After enjoying the moment, he took out his pokeballs. One by one, he released each of his Pokémon. Once his Pokémon were out, he carefully removed the egg from his backpack and set it on a desk.

    Echo let out a shriek and began to flap about the room, perching on everything. Hazard immediately burrowed under one of the pillows, while Anubis barked excitedly and began to dash about the room, sniffing everything. Rascal stared about curiously before trotting over to the Pokémon beds and dragging one off the pile. She turned in a circle, before settling down with a pleased grunt. He helped himself to a few potions and antidotes from the cabinets, and made sure his team was at full health after their battle.

    Anubis finished his investigation of the room and sprang onto the bed, lying next to Koa and wagging his tail. Koa scratched behind his ears, making him wag his tail even harder. Hazard emerged from underneath the pillow and scurried onto Koa's head, nestling himself in.

    Immediately, Anubis stiffened. He glared at the Joltik, his hackles raising. "Anubis, stop it!" he snapped. He reached up and patted Hazard, whose fur was fluffed in irritation. "Hazard is my friend, see?"

    Anubis let out a disbelieving snort and lay down facing away from Hazard. Koa sighed. He'd have to do something about that. But not tonight. Tonight, he would enjoy his one night living a life of luxury.


    The next morning, he awoke to his Poketch alarm going off. He almost rolled over and turned it off to go back to sleep, then remembered Reina's warning about breakfast. He yawned, then sat up, peering at the time. 8:15. Plenty of time to relax and get dressed. Poking his head outside the door, he realized his clothes had been left on a hanger outside the door. They smelled of a strong, clean scent, even better than the soap he was used to from the Pokémon Center. One of the larger rips on his leather jacket had even been mended. Grinning delightedly, he brought the clothes inside and laid them on the bed.

    After a quick shower, he got dressed and returned his Pokémon, save for Hazard, who had made himself comfortable in his hair. The Joltik was so tiny, he figured he might as well let him stay out. He exited his room and started to wander the mansion. They'd mentioned he was free to wander the halls, as long as he didn't enter any rooms without permission. The only people he really saw were a few maids, otherwise, the mansion was quiet.

    He turned a corner, wondering where the dining hall was when he spotted a young boy in a crisp white suit. He had dark grayish-blue hair and appeared to constantly have his nose turned up. A Monferno bounced beside him, its smug expression mirroring its trainer. The boy appeared to be saying something to a Shroomish that stood at his feet. Koa could only make out a few brief snatches of the conversation.

    "-get stronger... won't ... on my team. Got it?"

    As Koa approached, the boy returned both Pokémon.

    "Excuse me, do you know where the dining hall is?" he asked.

    The boy turned to face him and immediately frowned. A moment later, a girl who looked almost identical to him emerged from a room. Judging by their narrow faces and similar hair, he guessed they were brother and sister.

    "Excuse you, the name is Liam, thank you very much." 'Liam' sniffed disdainfully. "Are you another one of those strays that Jeremy gives our rooms to?"

    Koa's eye twitched and he clenched his fist. A strong temptation to punch the smug look right off Liam's face seized him, but he held himself back. He liked Reina and Jeremy quite a bit and didn't want to do anything to upset them.

    "I'm a trainer who Mr. Jeremy and Mrs. Reina invited to stay the night," he said, halfway between a growl and normal speaking voice.

    The girl snorted. "Hmph. As long as you don't stick around. You trainers bring down the beauty of the Mansion. Honestly, I don't know why Mr. Backlot allows it," she grumbled, a distasteful frown on her face. "You may call me Lady Celeste, by the way. Do not forget the 'lady' part."

    "Honestly, enough about beauty, Celeste." Liam shot his sister a glare before turning back to Koa. "Are you at least a strong trainer?"

    "I have two badges," Koa snapped. "And I'm getting my third once I get to Pastoria."

    Liam snorted. "Just two? I could easily get all 8 if I felt like it."

    "So you have zero then," Koa retorted, unable to keep the anger from his tone.

    "I don't need silly badges," Liam said with a shrug. "They're for lesser trainers."

    Koa literally bit his tongue. It took every bit of his restraint not to tackle the little snot to the ground. On his head, he could feel the familiar buzz of Hazard's irritation.

    "Or maybe you're afraid you're too weak," he muttered under his breath.

    Liam's gaze traveled to Koa's head. "A Joltik? Well, I suppose it is impressive that you have such a rare Pokémon. But they're not really much good until they evolve. Even then, they're pretty pathetic."

    For a moment, Koa saw red. His mind flashed with thoughts of smacking some sense into the kid. "So what Pokémon do you have then?" he snarled.

    At this, Liam grinned. "Sister dear, shall we show him what real Pokémon look like?"

    Celeste smiled sickeningly and nodded. They both took out five pokeballs each, releasing their Pokémon one by one. In addition to Monferno, Liam had a Weavile, a Medicham, a Kadabra and a Blissey. Celesta had a Blissey of her own as well as a Cherrim, Roserade, Kirlia and a Leafeon.

    Koa's jaw dropped at the sight of the assortment of Pokémon. He quickly recovered and scowled. All of the Pokémon looked like the prime of their species and boasted shining coats and gleaming eyes. Not to mention, Liam's Pokémon looked tough. Liam smiled smugly. "You see? Real trainers have strong Pokémon."

    "Hmph," Celesta grumbled. "What good is strength if your Pokémon are ugly? Beauty is what is key."

    Koa glared daggers at them. "Real trainers raise their Pokémon themselves."

    Looks of utter offense crossed both Liam and Celeste's face, and Koa couldn't resist a smirk. He'd touched a nerve. "If your Pokémon are so great, let's have a battle, one-on-one."

    "Oh fine. I suppose my Pokémon could use the workout," Liam said, shrugging.

    Ten minutes later, Koa stood across from Liam at the Mansion's battlefield.

    "Come, Monferno," Liam said, lazily tossing out a Pokéball. The Monferno emerged in a flash of light, then gave a lazy yawn.

    "Let's go, Anubis," Koa said calmly. Anubis burst onto the field with a loud bark.

    Liam yawned. "Monferno, use Flamethrower." Monferno reared back, then blasted a huge stream of fire at Houndour.

    Koa smirked. Idiot. The size and power of Flamethrower was fairly impressive, but it wouldn't do a thing against Anubis and his Flash Fire. "Howl." He said calmly. Anubis threw back his head and howled as the flames washed over him. As the flames faded, a grin spread across Houndour's face. Koa glanced across the battlefield. Liam didn't even seem to have noticed Anubis' lack of damage.

    "Thunder Fang."

    "Flame Wheel."

    Monferno leaped into the air, gathered flames around its form then spun its body into a flaming wheel and rolled straight for Houndour.

    Anubis stood still, jaws open wide as electricity arced across them. Monferno collided with him, pressing against him, but once again, the attack did nothing. Monferno bounced back a couple feet, then Anubis struck. He clamped his jaws across Monferno's arm, shocking him mercilessly and shaking him hard. With a snarl, he tossed Monferno across the battlefield. Monferno crashed to the ground and slid several feet.

    "Now, Ember."

    "Focus Punch," Liam snapped.

    Koa raised his eyes at that one. Focus Punch wasn't a move Monferno could normally learn, unless through special breeding. Still, he wasn't particularly worried.

    Monferno raised its fist, a bluish-white glow surrounding it as it charged up the attack. Anubis snarled, then opened his jaws. A massive stream of blue embers shot across the field, powered up significantly by Flash Fire.

    Monferno's eyes opened wide, but it was too late. The embers smashed into Monferno, interrupting his attack and throwing him backward.

    "Bite!" Anubis sprinted across the battlefield, his jaws glowing. Before Monferno or its trainer could react, he sank his jaws in and slammed it into the battlefield, knocking it out. Liam scowled and returned Monferno. "Hmph. You got lucky I suppose."

    Koa stared, dumbfound, at Liam. "Seriously? You know what, forget it..." he muttered. Liam would never admit to losing. He returned Anubis, shaking his head. Liam had strong Pokémon, sure, but completely lacked knowledge of how to utilize them. It still felt good beating him, though.

    Leaving it at that, he turned and strode away as quickly as he could, before he did something he regretted. He'd just have to find the dining hall himself. Thankfully, it didn't take long to do so, thanks to assistance from one of the maids, who proved much friendlier than the children. Five minutes later, he found himself seated at the largest table he'd ever sat at, enjoying a hearty breakfast with Jeremy and Reina. They made excellent conversationalists, and he found himself telling them tales of his journey and Pokémon. They regaled him with tales of their own, and explained that they were old friends of the Mansion's owner, Mr. Backlot. By the time he finished breakfast, he found himself sorry he would have to depart soon.

    Yet he also recognized he'd tarried long enough. The time drew near to noon, and he needed to get back on the road to Pastoria. He bid them a farewell and many thanks, then collected his things and departed. Though leaving the mansion saddened him, he was thankful not to have to see the twins more than once.

    Soon the mansion was behind him as he continued his trek south. His stay had put him behind by a good day or so, but he didn't care. It had been a fun break from the usual routine of traveling and training. He took out his bike, thankful once again that it used Pokéball technology to make it compact and easy to carry. He set off, his mind on the road ahead and his plans for training.

    Jeremy had also given him some advice on Anubis, which he hoped to try out tonight. He'd said that pack Pokémon like Houndour took time to adjust to the dynamic of a Pokémon team, which wasn't the same as a pack. An easy way to kick start that adjustment, however, was with a battle. Admittedly, he felt a little stupid for not thinking of it earlier.

    He traveled late into the night to make up for lost time. The moon had risen well into the sky before he finally stopped for the night. One by one, he sent out each of his Pokémon. Last of all, he sent out Anubis.

    "Okay Anubis, you're gonna have a battle." Anubis ears immediately perked up and he began wagging his tail. "Against one of my current Pokémon," Koa added, watching Anubis reaction carefully. His tail stopped wagging and he frowned. His eyes darted first to Rascal, as if wondering if she would be his opponent. Koa shook his head. "You'll be fighting Echo."

    Anubis took one look at the Golbat and huffed disapprovingly. Koa smirked knowingly. After explaining what happened to Jeremy, he'd realized that Anubis didn't seem to respect the rest of his teammates. A quick battle would rectify that.

    "Ready Echo?" Echo shreed excitedly and fluttered into the air. Anubis took a stance several feet away, facing the Golbat nonchalantly.

    "Okay Echo, start with Wing Attack!" Echo's wings glowed with energy and he dived at Anubis.

    Anubis snarled, his jaws crackling with electricity, then leaped for Echo with Thunder Fang.

    "Dodge," Koa said calmly. Echo easily dodged the attack, then whirled midair and struck Anubis expertly in the back. Anubis crashed to the ground and ate dirt.

    "Confuse Ray!" Echo opened his jaws, charging an orb of energy.

    Anubis stood, a snarl still in his throat. His jaws glowed white and he ducked under the Confuse Ray, narrowly dodging it. With a mighty leap, he jumped towards Echo.

    "Crunch," Koa said, simply.

    Anubis' eyes widened as he realized his attack was carrying him straight into Echo's gaping maw. In a panic, his legs whirled midair in a vain effort to stop himself. A moment later, Echo's jaws closed around Anubis, easily enveloping half his body. He shook him hard, then spat him out. Koa watched Anubis, expecting him to be knocked out. To his surprise, the Houndour forced himself to his paws, his body trembling with the effort. Impressive. Anubis had a lot of grit, though he would expect nothing less from a Pokémon bred by Rowan and Blake.

    With a snarl, he lunged forwards, his jaws crackling as he used Thunder Fang again.

    "Dodge and Wing Attack."

    Echo whirled out of the way easily again, then spun and smashed Anubis straight down into the dirt. A cloud of dust kicked up, shielding the Houndour from view. Echo hovered calmly above it, waiting. It cleared a moment later, revealing Anubis, battered yet still standing, a defiant glare on his face. He took a step towards Echo. Then his whole body trembled and he collapsed, unconscious.

    Koa grinned. "Good job, Echo." Echo shrieked happily and landed on his shoulders, licking his hair. He patted Echo and walked over to Anubis, who had woken up. Pulling out a few potions from his bag, he quickly treated Houndour's minor wounds. He returned to the campfire he'd made, giving Anubis some space to wake up. Echo hopped off his shoulders to stand by the fire. After a few seconds, Anubis got to his paws and shook his head. His tail hung low and his ears drooped. Slowly, he walked over to Echo, his head still hung low. He looked up and whined, something Koa took to be a sort of apology. Echo grinned and shrieked amiably, patting the Houndour with one wing. Anubis barked happily and licked Echo, who licked him back, shocking Anubis thoroughly. Koa laughed. He had a feeling that no one had ever licked the Houndour back.

    Letting out a sigh, Koa sat back, pleased. He watched as Hazard approached Anubis first, chittering a hesitant greeting. Anubis barked and wagged his tail, prancing around the Joltik happily. Good. The battle had worked just as he hoped. Thanks to Jeremy, he realized Anubis didn't think of his teammates as teammates at all, but through Echo's superb display of battling, Anubis had learned a valuable lesson. Respect.


    The next morning, Koa hit the road early. He figured he could reach the southernmost point of Route 212 by tonight, then begin his journey east. In the hours since yesterday, Anubis had acclimated well to the team, even Rascal. As he pedaled south, he began to plot out some moves for Anubis. Flamethrower was a must. Unfortunately, he knew Anubis was nowhere near strong enough to master the move. If he could buy a TM for it, then he could get a jumpstart on the training. Of course, he also wanted to buy a TM for Dark Pulse. Two TM's would be expensive, not to mention getting some for the rest of his team. He'd read about a move known as Acrobatics, which would be perfect for Golbat. After some deliberation, he decided to start with Acrobatics. Anubis needed more time to build up his strength and speed. His battle with Echo made it clear he had a ways to go to catch up with everyone else. A flicker of anger flowed through him as he remembered that Anubis was only so far behind because he'd been stolen by those dirty thieves... Well, at least he'd punished one of the thieves good.

    Tucking the memory away, he turned his attention back to training. Giga Drain was an eventual must for Hazard. Absorb worked for now, but Giga Drain was basically Absorbs much more powerful relative. It would give Hazard fantastic coverage as well. Rascal currently had the most potential of his Pokémon. First, he was considering replacing Dragon Tail for Dragon Claw. It was a stronger move. Although using her tail in battle was quite convenient. Next up was Crunch instead of Bite. Thanks to her special ability, Crunch would be a supremely powerful and versatile move. After that, he wasn't sure. Rock Slide would be unnecessary, since he'd read they could develop the technique on their own upon evolving. Perhaps a power move...

    The rest of the day he spent planning and strategizing moves. His Poketch came in quite the handy since he could take notes on what he wanted to work on. A few trainers challenged him, who he managed to beat without too much trouble. Anubis got some solid training in, though he did lose once or twice. By the time he stopped for the evening, he'd reached the south end of the route. Gratefully, he sank into his sleeping bag, slipping into a comfortable sleep.


    The first stretch of Route 212 led through a dense forest. The ground was littered with leaves and branches, so he opted to leave his bike inside his backpack and do it the old fashioned way. Walking did have one significant benefit however - all his Pokémon could follow him.

    Echo remained somewhere in the woods nearby, no doubt trying to find a Honey Tree if he had to guess. Every now and then, he caught a glimpse of the Golbat's furry body through the trees. He made a mental note to buy him a jar when he reached Pastoria.

    Rascal trotted several feet ahead, roaring at any wild Pokémon that came close. Most ran off, terrified, but few stood their ground. Those that did were treated to a swift battle, usually with Rascal as the victor.

    Anubis and Hazard had engaged in an amusing game of tag, with the Houndour trying fruitlessly to pounce on his much smaller teammate. Hazard was just too fast for him, and had become quite good at moving just far enough away to avoid being caught, without expending too much energy. Koa enjoyed watching the two, plus it was great training for Hazard.

    As he continued, he saw less forest Pokémon like Starly, Burmy or Roselia and started to see a few Croagunk and some Shellos and Bibarel. The sight made him grimace inwardly - the appearance of amphibious Pokémon only meant one thing. He was approaching the edge of the marsh.

    The very last section of Route 212 consisted of boggy marshland that stretched all the way to Pastoria. Well, at least he was still a couple days away from it. There were a series of lakes and rivers spanned by boardwalks and bridges that he would have to traverse first. Once he was out of the forest, he'd be able to use his bike as well.

    By lunch the next day, he was out of the forest and crossing the boardwalk by bike. The day was pleasant, with only a few clouds in the sky, hiding the worst of the noon heat. A gentle breeze blew, sending ripples through the water below. He saw quite a few wild Pokémon basking in the sun or relaxing in the waters. A few fishermen waved to him in acknowledgment as he passed by, but otherwise, the route was quiet. He crossed the rest of the bridge area that day, thanks to his bike. The day was so pleasant, in fact, that when night came he decided to forgo the tent and simply sleep on his sleeping bag. A decision he quickly came to regret.

    Sometime after he fell asleep, Anubis curled up next to him and Echo hanging from a tree overhead, a downpour began. He awoke spluttering and confused, half-submerged in a puddle. Rain pounded all around, making it almost impossible to see more than a few feet in any direction. It took him several moments to find his backpack, which to his horror had floated several feet away. He snatched it up, holding it close. Once he was sure the egg was safe, he returned his Pokémon, who were all varying states of miserable, and clipped their balls to his belt. The rain continued on, soaking him to the bone. The trees overhead provided little protection, and the best he could settle for was draping his sleeping bag over a branch and huddling under a bush a few feet away.

    For the first ten minutes, he debated setting up his tent but soon dismissed the thought. It would get far too wet by the time he finished putting it up. Frustration ate at him as he watched the rain. Of all the things he'd prepared for and read about, he'd never bought an umbrella. He laughed bitterly at the thought, wondering what Blake would say if he saw him. Probably reprimand him for not thinking. Oh well. He'd just have to buy one in Pastoria. Hopefully, the rain would stop by the morning.

    As it turned out, he hoped wrong. For the next two days, the rain poured non-stop. He was forced to keep all his Pokémon in their pokeballs, and his progress slowed to a near halt. His boots and pants were covered in more mud than he'd seen in his life, and he was starting to forget what the word dry meant. It wasn't until the third day that the rain finally eased into a steady drizzle.

    On the evening of the second day, he began to grow particularly tired of the rain. He was grumpy too, since he didn't really want to let out any of his Pokémon in the torrential rain. None of them would appreciate it one bit. Instead, he tried to keep his focus on the one thing he was actually looking for - The Shard House. A well-known collector of shards resided somewhere on this route, just outside the marshlands. Apparently, the man had quite the collection of expensive TM's from his training days. He'd made it known that he would trade them to anyone who brought him shards. Koa had his fingers crossed that the man had a Giga Drain TM.

    Then, in the distance, he spotted it. A dim square of light, barely visible through the rain. Since he was fairly sure no other houses were out here, that had to be it. Breaking into a jog, he raced the last several yards to the house. He knocked lightly on the door. Now that he thought about it, he had no idea how complete strangers would feel about another stranger knocking on their door late at night.

    A moment later, the door swung open. The man who stood in the doorway was practically a small giant. He had tanned skin, laugh lines around his eyes, and stood over six feet tall. And he wasn't just tall either - he was well built, too. Not fat, but broad-shouldered. The man wore cargo shorts, a hikers vest and hat, and thick waterproof boots. Koa stared at him.

    "Good grief, kid, you look like a drowned Rattata! Come inside." The man stepped back, opening the door wider.

    From somewhere inside, a second voice called. "Is it another trainer, Fred?"

    His initial surprise faded and he stepped inside, standing just inside the door, acutely aware of the small puddle of water he was creating on the floor.

    Fred shut the door, blocking out the sound of pounding rain. "Sure is, Gail. You trainers are nuts, tramping about in a storm like this." The last remark seemed to be a playful jab at the woman.

    Koa breathed a sigh of relief and took a look around. The cabin was small, yet homey. There was a kitchen, a small table in the middle of the room, and a door that he assumed led to a bedroom. A woman, who he assumed was Gail, moved purposefully about the kitchen, seemingly cooking or preparing something.

    "Look at you!" Gail chided. "Don't worry about the puddle. Why don't you use our bathroom and get yourself dried off? I know I always loved a hot shower after a rainstorm." She gestured to a door he hadn't noticed.

    Still in a daze, Koa nodded. He gently took his backpack off and set it by the door. He took out his one pair of spare clothes, mentally thanking his past self for investing in the waterproof backpack, and walked to the bathroom. After a long, hot shower, he emerged feeling much better. He was given a bag for his wet clothes, which he left in the bathroom.

    "Feel better?" Gail asked once he came out.

    Koa nodded. "Thank you," he said hoarsely.

    "Come sit down, kid," Fred called from his spot at the table.

    Hesitantly, Koa crossed to the table and pulled out a chair, sitting down. He was a bit surprised still with the warm reception he was given.

    "We should probably introduce ourselves," Fred offered. "My name is Fred, this is my wife Gail. Although some people like to call me the Shard Man. I collect shards, you see."

    Koa nodded. "Yeah. That's actually the reason I stopped here."

    Fred's eyes went wide and leaned across the table with the eagerness of a young child. "You have some shards to trade? Let me see them-"

    "Perhaps you'd like dinner first?" Gail asked. "There will be more than enough time for pleasantries after you eat. And I know you must be hungry," Gail added, looking pointedly at Koa. "You trainers don't get many home-cooked meals when you're traveling."

    Koa nodded, realizing for the first time how hungry he felt. The past couple days he'd survived on just nutrition bars. In a few minutes, Gail had dished out a hearty helping of hot stew and rolls for each of them.

    After dinner, which Koa found he thoroughly enjoyed, Gail left briefly and returned carrying a large briefcase. Koa recognized it as a TM storage case.

    "Now, let's get to business," Fred said. He took the case from Gail and set it on the table. "What kinda shards you got?"

    Koa retrieved the shards from his backpack, setting them out on the table. He had about twelve green, and a few red and yellow.

    "Tell you what, kid. I'll give you any TM you like for your green shards." Fred opened the case and slid it to Koa.

    Koa's eyes lit up and his jaw dropped as he stared at the TM collection. It rivaled that of a small Pokemart, and contained several that couldn't even be found in the largest department store. By his estimate, the case contained well over 30,000 dollars worth of TM's. He browsed them reverently, his mind whirling as he tried to decide which one he wanted. They had Air Slash, which would have been great for Echo, but he was pretty sure a Golbat could learn the technique naturally. Eventually, he settled on Giga Drain. It was the only move that Hazard really needed, plus it would be perfect for the Pastoria gym.

    "Thank you," Koa said as he tucked the TM away in his own case. "This will be perfect!"

    "I take it you will be challenging Wake?" Gail said.

    Koa nodded in reply. "I couldn't challenge the Hearthome gym"- This comment elicited an eye-roll from both Gail and Fred- "So I figured I'd go to Pastoria and visit the Great Marsh. I'd love to fish up a Gyarados maybe."

    "Ooo, that'll be a toughie. They're pretty rare," Fred mused. "You know you could just catch a Magikarp, right? Those things are practically everywhere."

    "Yeah, but training them is really hard. They can't learn any attack moves."

    Fred shrugged. "True, I supposed. Personally, I've always been partial to Wooper.

    Koa stared at Fred. "Wooper?"

    "Sure!" Fred said. "They're small, but real hardy. And once they evolve, they can be really tough, if you train 'em right. Even Gail has never defeated my Quagsire."

    Gail scowled playfully. "I'm pretty sure that Quagsire of yours is descended from a legendary or something."

    "I'll think about it," Koa said eventually. He hadn't considered it before, but perhaps his plan would need adjusting now that his team had changed. A Wooper could be a good replacement for a Gyarados. If Fred was right. He found it hard to imagine a Quagsire standing up to the raw strength of a Gyarados. Or maybe instead of a water type, he could try for a grass type to help at the gym... Perhaps he would have to reconsider some of his plans. Setting the thought aside for later, he turned his attention back to Fred. "So you and Gail were both trainers?"

    "Nah, I'm an explorer at heart. Gail is the real trainer. She got all eight badges." Fred said, watching his wife proudly.

    "Any tips for Wake?" Koa asked.

    Gail chuckled and shook her head. "Don't worry about Wake too much. He's tough, but he's not even as hard as Roark was for me. What Pokémon have you caught?"

    Koa quickly rattled off his team.

    "Hah! Yeah, you can handle Wake, just fine." Gail said. She glanced at a clock on the wall. "Well, I do think it's getting late. It's not much, but you can sleep on the couch if you like."

    "That's good with me," Koa replied. Gail proceeded to show him to the laundry room, informing him he was free to wash his muddy clothes, then turned in for the night with Fred. Koa ended up staying awake another hour or so, just long enough to start his clothes drying, then turned in for the night.

    Just before he settled in, he released Echo. The Golbat almost let out his trademark shriek, but Koa hushed him. "Hey there buddy," he whispered, rubbing the Golbat's head. Echo gave a low chirp and nuzzled Koa. "I figured you'd like to be out of your ball a bit since it's not raining. Get some rest, I'll see you in the morning." With that, Koa snuggled into the couch, drifting into a pleasant sleep.

    The next morning, he left early, staying just long enough to thank his hosts and give the rest of his team a chance to stretch their legs. Then, with wishes of good luck and a warning to be careful crossing the marsh, he set out. Within the hour, he had reached his last obstacle before Pastoria City - the marshland.

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Anubis (Male Houndour) {Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

    BZRich64 likes this.
  9. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    Chapter 10 is here!

    Here's chapter 10! Next stop, Pastoria City. But first, he has to make it across the Marsh.

    Also, if you are interested, there is a piece of story art done. You can find it at 'Hawkosa' on deviant art. Its called 'The Unplanned Pokémon'. Its based on the first chapter of the story.

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Anubis (Male Houndour) {Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

    Trainer Tips

    If you get stuck in the bog, you can

    count on being there for a while.

    There's no need to panic.

    Just struggle and squirm for a bit.

    Bicycles cannot be ridden on marshy

    ground, incidentally.

    Koa stared at the sign, wondering which lunatic had tried to ride their bike across the marsh and made them decide to put up a sign about it. He set out across the thick mud, stepping only in the lightest patches. He knew that in the deepest areas, the mud could easily reach up to one's waist or stomach. Fortunately, mud was one thing he didn't really mind. In fact, it was more of an exciting challenge to him.

    It didn't take long for him to adopt a pattern - slog through the mud until he reached an area too deep or sank too far, then wriggle out and start all over again. Progress was slow, but steady, and he kept his mind focused on the fact that this was the shortest leg of his journey. As he walked, he focused on his plans for the future. Great Marsh was first on his list of course. But he had another problem on his hands - his team. Thanks to everything that happened on his journey, his team had changed rather drastically from his Plan. Which meant that it might - and just thinking the thought made him shudder - be time to reconsider his Plan.

    Right now he had four Pokémon, plus his egg, which was a mystery. Egg aside, he had decent coverage for most types, but there were some significant gaps - ground and rock Pokémon posed a threat, for starters. A fighting type would give him a real edge, although he didn't want to travel all the way back to Eterna to try and find a Tyrogue. Nor did he really want a Machop. For some reason, he'd just never really felt like catching one. Perhaps he could catch something in the Great Marsh? Toxicroak was an option, though he wasn't sure how he felt about them either.

    He continued to mull over his team as he trudged onward. As he took his next step, his feet suddenly slid from under him and he pitched forward. Flailing blindly, he caught himself in the mud, sinking up to his chest. One hand was trapped awkwardly in the mud, while he held the other free. A brief flare of panic edged through him. His heart started to race. He'd read about these. 'Mud-holes'. Dangerous pockets of extra deep mud that could trap errant travelers for hours.

    Koa took a deep breath as he could, and began wriggling his body and twisting, trying to free himself. The problem was, he couldn't lift his legs high enough to step out of the hole.

    "Need some help?" a familiar voice called from above him. He peered upwards to see the last face he expected to. Avis, perched on the back of an unusually large Staraptor, hovering above him. "Grab on," she called. She dropped a rope down to him, and he grabbed it. A moment later, Staraptor flew upwards, yanking him out of the mud. They landed a few feet away, on a patch of drier ground. Which was to say, they only sank an inch or two into the mud.

    Koa stood up, peering at Avis. He honestly hadn't been expecting to find anyone out here, least of all the investigator he'd run into in Oreburgh. "What are you doing out here?"

    "Saving you?" she asked, wryly. She shook her head and continued, her tone leveler. "Actually, I was just flying to Pastoria. What about you?"

    "Same. Or technically, walking to Pastoria," he corrected.

    Avis glanced at their surroundings dubiously. "Walking? In this?"

    Koa shrugged, dusting off his hands. "I don't mind the mud much."

    "Well, if you feel like getting out of it, I could show you a shortcut. Through dry land."

    Koa glanced around. He was maybe a quarter of a way through the marsh, and he figured he had another day and a half of travel to make it to Pastoria. Just because he didn't mind the mud didn't mean he liked it. "Sure, I'll take it."

    "Just follow me." Avis returned her Starator and began confidently trekking in a northerly direction. After several minutes, they reached a line of thick, dense brush and trees. Mud oozed around the tree roots and around the base of the bushes.

    He glanced around. "Where's the shortcut?"

    "Look there," Avis gesturing to a small, thorny shrub that nearly blended with everything else.

    Koa didn't really see what was so special about a bush. Everything beyond the brush looked like dense, muddy forest anyway. Not a place he felt like walking through.

    Avis released a Kriketune and pointed at the bush. "Blade, use Slash!"

    Kriketune gave a harmonious cry, one of its blades glowing white. With a flourish, it slashed the bush to pieces. "Thanks, Blade." She returned the Pokémon, slipping the Pokéball into a pocket on her trench coat. "Follow me." She stepped into the small gap created by the bush's absence. Hesitantly, Koa followed. Once he stepped into the forest, he gasped. Though impossible to see from the outside, a tiny path wound through the trees. It stood just a few inches above the muck, enough to create a dry passage.

    "I used to explore all around here when I was younger. I found this path a couple years back, and I've been using it ever since." Avis said as she walked. "This route will get us to Pastoria by the end of the day, most likely."

    "Us?" Koa asked as he followed her.

    "Sure, if you don't mind the company. I need to stretch my legs anyway. Flying is great, but man is it rough on the legs. Especially without a saddle."

    Koa shrugged. "Fine by me," He replied. Now that he wasn't in the middle of heading somewhere, he didn't mind her presence. It could get pretty quiet on the road with only him and his Pokémon for conversation. And given that none of his Pokémon spoke human language, conversations could get pretty one-sided.

    A few minutes of silence fell between them, only broken by the occasional cry of a Pokémon or snapping of a twig. "So what's your deal?" he asked finally. As long as they would be walking, he might as well learn a little more about his temporary traveling companion.


    "What's your goal as a trainer I mean?" Koa said, picking his way over a fallen branch. "You don't really strike me as the 'I want to become the strongest and beat the Sinnoh League' type."

    Avis glanced back at him with a wry smile. "Straight to the point aren't you? Not gonna discuss the weather first?"

    Koa shrugged. "I hate small talk."

    "Same!" she exclaimed. "Anyways, you're right. My goal is actually to become a member of the International Police."

    Koa raised his eyebrows. That was one he hadn't heard before. Many trainers aspired to be gym leaders, league champions, or master a certain type. The International Police, from what he could recall, were exactly what their name implied. A specialized Police force that operated across all regions. They were apparently behind the takedowns of several budding criminal organizations. "That's actually pretty cool. What made you go for that?"

    Immediately her body tensed. She walked slightly faster, her hand drifting to fiddle with a button on her coat. She shrugged. "I just figure, I have a knack for solving puzzles. So if I can make a difference, and help stop people and Pokémon from getting hurt, I oughta use it, you know?"

    "Huh..." Koa said after a second. It almost seemed like she had something she wasn't saying, but then he couldn't blame her for not sharing. Either way, the International Police sounded like a cool goal. It had to be nice, getting to stop criminals for a living. Especially if it was anything like his encounter with Team Blackout. The memory of the incident still brought a smile to his face. "So what do you have to do to get in?"

    Avis relaxed slightly. "Oh, it's a whole process. And there are at least like five different methods. You basically have to be able to showcase your skills, as an investigator and as a trainer. You can do it with badges, or by working in the local police stations... There's a lot of other ways as well. Bottom line, you have to be very good at what you do, and have great character."

    "Whoa. Sounds hard..." Koa murmured

    "That's part of the reason I'm investigating Team Blackout." She paused, a scowl darkening her features. "That, and once they upgraded to Pokémon poaching, I had to do something. I can't stand Pokémon thieves." She spat the word. "Regular criminals are bad enough, but people who steal Pokémon are a special kind of evil, if you ask me."

    He was slightly surprised by the vehemence in her tone, but pleased. He still remembered his rage towards the thieves who'd stolen Clefairy. "I can't stand them either," he snarled. "Oh yeah, I actually ran into one of those scumbags back in Hearthome. I beat him up and got him arrested."

    Avis whipped around and faced him. She stood just a couple feet from him, her gaze boring into him. "Tell me everything! Now." Her voice burned with cold anger.

    Koa quickly related everything he could remember about what happened. Telling the story again made him realize how crazy he probably seemed. Blake would've had his head if he found out. Just the thought of his cousin made a twinge of guilt fill him. He still hadn't called him...

    The icy look faded from her eyes and she relaxed. "Well... I'm a little annoyed you never bothered to, you know, use that card I gave you and call me." She turned around and started walking again. "But I can't blame you, honestly. I don't think I would've thought to call me either. And he did get caught, so that's enough for me." She shot him an amicable smile over her shoulder. "Anyways, what's done is done. Now that I've told you about me, you might as well tell me about you."

    "What about me?" Koa said hesitantly. He didn't really want to start divulging all of his dreams. At least, not the part about catching a legendary.

    She shrugged. "Well, what kind of Pokémon do you have?"

    Now that was a question he was all too happy to discuss. "Well, my first Pokémon was a Zubat. He's absolutely amazing. Then I have a Joltik, a Tyrunt, and my Houndour."

    "Whoa! A Tyrunt? How'd you come by that? They're basically exclusive to Kalos, aren't they?"

    "Well... it's a bit of a story, but basically I was exploring a cave and found a fossil. Almost got killed by a pack of Golbat, but it was worth it."

    Avis nodded, impressed. "Are you planning on challenging the league?"

    Koa shook his head. "No. Not really my thing." For another moment, silence fell. "One of my goals is to climb Mt. Coronet. I want to be an explorer." He decided not to mention the bit about Spear Pillar yet.

    Avis raised her eyebrows. "Oh wow, that's pretty neat! I don't think I've met anyone who wants to be an explorer. Are you gonna try and find the... what's it called... Sphere Pillar?"

    Koa blinked in surprise. He hadn't expected someone else to know about it. "Spear Pillar," he corrected. "And yeah, actually."

    "So it's not just a myth then?" she asked curiously. "It is a real place?"

    "Yes! I know it is," Koa said. "But I have to get a lot stronger first, plus I gotta beat the gyms. They don't allow anyone through to the higher levels without all eight badges. Not to mention all the Pokémon are ridiculously strong."

    "Good luck then," Avis said earnestly. "Take a picture, if you make it. It'd be cool to see that."

    "Will do."

    For the rest of the day, they made occasional conversation, discussing their teams and respective journeys. He enjoyed her company well enough since she seemed to enjoy walking in silence as much as she seemed to enjoy a conversation. Before long, they emerged from the hidden trail. The sun had nearly set, but in the distance, he could see the gate of Pastoria City.

    Wearing matching smiles of reliefs, they started towards the gate.

    "Ho there!" A voice called. Koa glanced back to see two trainers approaching them, a young man and woman. They both wore orange caps, vests, and boots, signifying their status as Ranger Trainers.

    "How about a battle?" The girl called. "Jeffrey and I have been looking everywhere for someone to have a proper Tag battle with."

    "And you two fit the bill," Jeffrey said, grinning. He gestured to his companion. "This is my sister, Allison, by the way."

    "Pleased to meet you," Avis replied, shaking both their hands. "I'm down for a Tag battle if you are." She added, glancing over at Koa.

    Koa sized up his opponents. He'd never had a Tag battle before. Unlike a usual Double battle, Tag battles were done between a group of four people, with two on either side. He supposed it could be a good experience. "Sure."

    Jeffrey and Allison glanced at each other and grinned excitedly. "Let's do this then."

    A minute later, they stood in a clearing several feet apart, Jeffrey and Allison on one end, Koa and Avis on the other. Jeffrey tossed out his Pokéball. With a flash of light, a Monferno emerged. It shouted a loud cry and blew a small burst of flame into the air before grinning dangerously. Allison smiled at its antics, before sending out her own Pokémon, a small round blue thing with a white belly. It took Koa a moment to remember its name - Marill. Koa took one look at the Monferno and tossed out Anubis' Pokéball. The Houndour emerged onto the field, then sat down patiently, looking for all the world as calm as ever.

    "Well in that case..." Avis said. She took a Pokéball out. "Go Noctowl!" A large owl-like Pokémon emerged. It glanced about the battlefield, twisting its head and cocking it sideways as if analyzing its competition.

    "So who wants to go first?" Jeffrey called. The four trainers looked at each other, an internal debating raging. Koa glanced at Avis.

    Avis frowned, then looked across the field at Jeffrey. "Why don't we go first, since you challenged us?"

    Jeffrey and Allison glanced at each other. "Sure, that seems fair."

    "Anubis, Ember!" Koa called. He figured a Thunder Fang or two could take out Marill, but he also didn't want to give away his best move.

    "Counter with Bubblebeam!" Allison called.

    "Monferno, Mach Punch on Noctowl!"

    "Dodge, Noctowl. Extrasensory!"

    The flurry of commands echoed over the battlefield. Monferno sprinted across the field first, displaying the blinding speed typical of Mach Punch. Noctowl leaped into the air, the attack passing harmlessly underneath. Its eyes glowed blue and unleashed a wave of psychic energy at Monferno. The attack struck it, knocking it across the field. Meanwhile, Anubis' Ember and Marill's Bubblebeam collided, creating a small burst of smoke. A few bubbles managed to break through his attack, striking Anubis' chest and making him wince.

    "Anubis, Howl!" He called. Anubis threw back his head and howled, waves of energy surrounding him and making him glow. "Think you can give Anubis cover to get to Marill?" he asked Avis in a low tone. She nodded.

    "Noctowl, Air Slash!" Noctowl hooted in acknowledgment before flying high into the sky. It's wings glowed whitish-blue and it began to flap them, sending powerful blades of air hurtling through the sky at the opposing Pokémon.

    "Dodge!" Both rangers shouted. Marill rolled into a tight ball, then began to spin in place, using Rollout. It launched itself across the field, out of the way of Air Slash. And right into Anubis waiting jaws.

    "Thunder Fang!" Koa called. Rollout and Thunder Fang met head on. Electricity crackled across Marill's fur, shocking it. A second later, Anubis was forced back from the force of Rollout. Meanwhile, Monferno had dodged the first wave of Air Slash, only to be struck by Noctowl's Peck. Judging by the Monferno's heavy breathing and scratched body, it was nearing its end.

    Both sides glared at each other from across the field.

    "Mach Punch, at Houndour!" Jeffrey called. Monferno screeched and lunged across the field. It vanished, reappearing a second later beside Anubis.

    "Bi-" Koa didn't have time to finish the command before the attack slammed into Anubis, sending him sliding across the field. He grimaced. Fighting-type moves were particularly effective against a dark-type like Houndour.

    Avis smiled. "Noctowl, turn up the noise with Echoed Voice." Noctowl opened its beak, letting out a loud shree. Soundwaves pulsed towards the opposing Pokémon, striking them both. Both Marill and Monferno attempted to counter with Bubblebeam and Ember respectively.

    "Ember," Koa called. Anubis blasted a stream of red hot embers across the field at his opponents. With Marill and Monferno distracted, the attack hit its mark, striking them both. Then Echoed Voice struck again, finishing them off.

    "Good job, Anubis!" Koa called. Jealousy flickered briefly through him. Noctowl had carried the match. Anubis really was far behind the rest of the team.

    Jeffrey and Allison returned their fainted Pokémon. "That was impressive," Jeffrey admitted, crossing the field towards them. "Especially your Noctowl," Allison added, staring adoringly at the large bird.

    "Thanks," Avis replied. She let Noctowl bask in the praise for a moment more, before returning it.

    "This is our first proper Tag battle," Jeffrey said. "It was pretty fun, but next time, we definitely won't lose!"

    Koa nodded in agreement, his mind still on Anubis and the battle. Avis bid the two farewell, then started for Pastoria. He followed her, Anubis trotting obediently at his side.

    "What's bothering you?" Avis asked, once they were out of earshot. Her tone was direct, but didn't sound demanding.

    Koa shook his head. "Nothing. Your Noctowl is really impressive."

    Avis frowned, eyeing him thoughtfully. "Don't get too excited over the win," she said, a note of sarcasm in her voice. In a more serious tone, she continued. "You shouldn't feel bad about the battle. I mean, you told me you haven't had the chance to train much with your Houndour."

    Koa nodded again. "True..." He knew she was right, but he wasn't happy about it. Anubis really needed a lot more training. He almost felt he'd let Anubis down. That was among one of several things he planned to rectify in the coming days. Along with calling Blake. But first, a hot shower and a good meal were in store for his Pokémon.


    Koa stood in the empty communications room at the Pokémon Center. Avis had already gone in for the night, though they'd agreed to meet up tomorrow. He'd had himself a good meal, then taken a very, very long shower. After that, he'd had to wash all his clothes. Twice.

    Now the clock on the wall indicated it was almost midnight. Despite his efforts, he'd been unable to sleep. Ever since his battle with Jeffrey and Allison, he'd felt a nagging sense of guilt. The brother-sister duo reminded him a bit of him and Blake. Despite being technically cousins, he'd always felt a close kinship with Blake. But ever since their squabble at Oreburgh, Koa hadn't spoken to him. It occurred to him Blake didn't even know any of his Pokémon.

    As hard as it was to admit, he realized he'd overreacted. Blake only came off as naggy because he was probably worried. Koa was well aware that Blake had experienced loss before. He'd hoped to get some sleep, maybe call Blake in the morning. Clearly his brain had other ideas.

    Nervously, he dialed the number. After a few moments, the screen flickered to life, showing a surprised yet tentative Blake on the other end. Koa wasn't exactly surprised that his cousin was still awake. Blake had always been more of a night owl.

    "Hey," Koa said.


    A long silence drew out between them.

    "I'm sorry I-" Blake began.

    Koa interrupted. "No. I'm sorry I blew up on you back in Oreburgh. I really uh... overreacted, I guess."

    "Well, I kinda freaked out on you too," Blake admitted. He ran his hand through his hair and sighed. "When I heard that you'd been hurt, I guess I just assumed the worst. But I never gave you a proper chance to explain how it happened. So for that, I'm sorry."

    Koa nodded, not sure what to say. Another long silence dragged out. Finally, Blake broke it.

    "So, I never got to meet your team. Show me your starter! Did you ever get that Shinx you wanted? What about your plan?"

    Koa chuckled sheepishly. "Well... I'll show you my starter first, then tell you the rest." He reached for his belt, selecting the familiar luxury ball. With a press of a button, Echo emerged in a splash of white light. He promptly plopped himself across Koa's back and head, and screeched at the screen. Koa rubbed him behind the ears before looking at Blake, who looked bewildered.

    "You caught a Golbat as your starter?"

    "Zubat, actually," Koa corrected. "And trust me it was an accident." Echo made an exaggerated sad squeak. Koa scratched behind his ears comfortingly. "But a good one." With that, Koa launched into the story of how he'd first encountered Echo at the honey tree. Blake didn't look thrilled hearing how he'd entered a dangerous cave with no Pokémon, but said nothing. When Koa finished, he nodded thoughtfully.

    "Well, I have to say, I am surprised. I'd never expect you to keep a Zubat of all Pokémon, Little K."

    Koa rolled his eyes amiably. "He grew on me, I guess."

    "So what's the rest of your team? I assume you probably have a Staraptor by now, or a Luxio."

    Koa laughed and released the rest of his Pokémon. With each release, Blake looked more surprised. The Pokémon huddled around Koa, peering curiously at the screen.

    "Well well, Little K. A Joltik? And is that... I don't believe it! Roark wasn't kidding. You really did get yourself a fossil Pokémon! Incredible!" Blake peered closely at the screen. "And I see my Houndour is back where he belongs."

    Koa stroked Anubis' fur. "Thanks for him, by the way. His Thunder Fang has really helped."

    Blake smiled. "You're welcome, Little K. I'm just glad to see he's back where he belongs. Looks like you've got an impressive team so far. Any plans for new Pokémon?"

    Koa frowned. After a long moment, he shook his head. "Honestly... I don't know anymore. Everything changed so much from how I planned it..."

    "I see that look in your eyes. And I know just what you're thinking. It's good to have some plans, but think of it like this. The more focused you are by a plan, there's a bigger chance to miss out on an awesome Pokémon!"

    Koa nodded thoughtfully. He'd never thought of it in that context before. He'd always thought of not planning as being careless, but Blake did have a point. If he'd stuck to his Plan, he'd never have caught Joltik. "So... you're saying I should find a balance?"

    "Precisely," Blake said, smiling proudly. "So, tell me about the rest of your journey," he said excitedly. "Where have you gone? And what badges have you gotten?"

    Breaking out of his thoughts, Koa began relating the tales of his journey. He ended up talking long into the night with Blake. By the time he hung up, it was almost three o'clock in the morning. Koa felt oddly happy, however. He hadn't realized how much his fight with Blake had weighed on his conscience until now. It also gave him renewed confidence. Tomorrow, he decided he would visit the Great Marsh and catch himself a new Pokémon. And hopefully, by the time he reached the Marsh, he would decide what Pokémon he actually wanted.


    "So, any ideas what Pokémon you want to catch?" Avis asked. She sat across from him, riding the tram through the Marsh. Unlike regular routes and areas throughout Sinnoh, the Great Marsh served as a preservation, much like the Safari Zone of the Kanto region. Quite a few rare or non-native Pokémon could be found in its muddy depths. Of course, to get them a trainer had to be willing to brave that mud. Fortunately, Koa didn't mind mud much. Not to mention, the tram that ran through the center provided easy transportation to all the areas.

    "Well, I've given it some thought. A grass-type might be nice. And a water type could be good too. If I see a Tropius, I might catch one. Or a Tangela," he mused. "I think this time though, I'll keep my options open. My cousin said that if a trainer stays too focused on a plan, he can miss out on catching a great Pokémon."

    Avis nodded. "I like that! I usually just wing it, and catch whatever I like."

    "You don't plan, at all?" Koa asked.

    Avis shook her head. "Nope. I just see something I like and BAM. I catch it. That's how I caught Blade. I was flying on Aster, my Staraptor, and saw it in a field. It was so cute, I couldn't resist."

    Koa shook his head. "I don't know if I could ever do that. I like to at least have some idea of a plan."

    "To each their own, I guess," Avis said, shrugging.

    "Now approaching Area 3, and Area 4." A robotic voice called over the speaker system, accompanied by a soft ding.

    "Well, that's my stop. See you later," Avis called. She gathered her things and exited the tram. Several minutes later, the same voice rang out over the intercom.

    "Now approaching Area 1, and Area 2."

    Once the tram stopped, he hurriedly exited. After the tram departed, he paused to take in his surroundings. Only one other trainer had gotten off at his stop, a young white-haired man who looked to be around 16 or 17. A Hitmonchan stood at his side, a serious expression on its face. After a moment's pause, the two headed in the opposite direction, towards Area 1. Koa breathed a sigh of relief. The last thing he wanted was someone scaring off a Pokémon he wanted to catch.

    Area 2 of the marsh was one of the last stops on the line, and consisted of dense patches of swamp trees and mud. Although that wasn't saying much, considering that the whole marsh consisted of swamp and trees. In the distance, he could just make out a small lake. Koa took a single Pokéball off his otherwise empty belt, and released the Pokémon within. "Alright Echo, we're here to catch a new Pokémon."

    At this, Echo shrieked excitedly, doing a loop in the sky.

    "Remember," he continued, "no battling. I just want your help spotting Pokémon." The Golbat stared at him very seriously, then nodded in understanding.

    Koa fingered the case of Safari Balls he'd been given. Unlike the rest of Sinnoh, the Great Marsh expressly forbade battles with the wild Pokémon in its territory. Instead, Trainers were given a time limit, and a set of special pokeballs and bait. A Trainer had to pretty much rely on luck and skill of a good throw to catch Pokémon. Koa found it rather annoying, but rules were rules. He just hoped he didn't lose out on a cool catch because a Pokémon tried to he'd really be mad.

    "Ready Echo?" The Golbat nodded once more, before flying high into the sky. Satisfied, Koa started into the marsh. He hadn't gone very far before a Croagunk emerged from the trees and crossed his path. It paused and stared at him for a long second, before letting out a long, drawn out crooaakk. Then it continued plodding along, vanishing into the trees. Koa shrugged it off and kept walking. Croagunk weren't exactly his type, anyway. For the next couple hours, he wandered the marsh. He saw several Croagunk, some Psyduck and Marill by the lake, and a Golduck as well. But nothing seemed to catch his eye. He was beginning to get a little nervous - he'd already used up 3 of his 5 hours. If he didn't find something soon, he'd have to call it quits, or buy more time.

    Just then, Echo swooped down from above, letting out an excited shriek. He flapped around Koa's head, trilling eagerly and arting about. "What's up, Echo?" he asked. Echo flew a few feet away and turned back, eyeing Koa expectantly. "What did you find?" he asked excitedly. He jogged after the Golbat, trying to dodge the deepest patches of mud as he ran. As he followed, he soon picked up the distinctive sounds of a Pokémon battle. Ahead, a group of trees formed a sort of alcove, tucked away from the rest of the marsh. And within that alcove, a Shroomish stood, facing down a massive Toxicroak.

    Koa quietly found a spot hidden within the trees and crouched down to watch. Echo alighted on a branch somewhere above his head, but he kept his gaze fixed on the battle that unfolded before his eyes.

    The Shroomish looked like it had taken a few hits. Its body was scratched, and covered in mud. Its opponent, a Croagunk, towered above it. Unlike Shroomish, it appeared mostly unharmed. Koa guessed the Croagunk to be female, based on its markings. The Shroomish he wasn't sure about.

    With a defiant cry, Shroomish leaped forward with a valiant Headbutt attack. Croagunk stepped out of the way, but to Koa's surprise, Shroomish landed and turned nimbly, spraying it with a burst of Stun Spores. It made a loud croak of distress, and dropped to one knee. Once again, Shroomish used Headbutt. The attack connected, but just as it did, Croagunk's hands glowed white and it lashed out, connecting point blank with Shroomish. Koa recognized the tactic as Revenge.

    He flinched in sympathy as the Shroomish sailed through the air, crashing into the mud. Almost immediately, it hopped back to its feet, its tiny body shuddering with the effort. Koa couldn't help but be impressed. The little guy definitely had some guts. Still, he suspected it was much weaker than its opponent. It likely wouldn't last more than another hit, especially since it was at a disadvantage.

    Croagunk seemed to realize this as well. It advanced upon the exhausted Shroomish, one of its hands glowing purple. Poison Jab. Against a grass-type like Shroomish, it would no doubt end the fight. With a triumphant croak, it struck out at Shroomish. And then something happened that took Koa completely by surprise. Shroomish leaped into the air, the Poison Jab passing harmlessly underneath. It sprang off Croagunk's outstretched arm, sailing through the air and landing neatly behind it. Paralysis seized Croakgunk's muscles and it froze. Glowing tendrils of light began to seep from its body, drifting to the exhausted Shroomish. The Mega Drain revitalized it, the scratches disappearing before Koa's eyes. With a loud cry, the Shroomish used Headbutt, sending Croagunk flying into a tree. It crashed to the ground and lay still.

    Koa stared, wide-eyed, barely resisting the urge to cheer for Shroomish. Echo made an odd trilling noise that Koa took to mean he was impressed. Whipping out his Pokédex, Koa scanned it.

    Shroomish, the Mushroom Pokémon. Shroomish live in damp soil in the dark depths of forests. They are often found keeping still under fallen leaves. This Pokémon feeds on compost that is made up of fallen, rotted leaves.

    At that moment, he decided he wanted to catch it. He hadn't planned on it, but it felt right. It had such spirit and strength. He quietly took out a Safari ball and primed it. The Shroomish took barely a moment to stare at its downed opponent before it started to move away. Crossing his fingers, Koa tossed the ball. It arced through the air, striking Shroomish cleanly. The usual red light emerged, surrounding Shroomish. Then the light shattered and the ball fell uselessly into the mud.

    The Shroomish whipped around a look of annoyance on its already grumpy face. Koa simply stared, confused. Impossible. For the Pokéball not to work meant that Shroomish already had a trainer. But all the Pokémon in the marsh were supposed to be unregistered. Could it have been a glitch? Koa quickly threw another ball, with the same result. Shroomish made an angry trilling noise and glared at him.

    Koa emerged from his spot and knelt in front of Shroomish, who backed away a few steps. "Where's your trainer, Shroomish?"

    Shroomish made another angry noise then turned and trotted away, leaving tiny footprints in the mud. It disappeared behind some trees. After a moment, Koa decided to follow it. Echo fluttered after him, oddly quiet. Something felt odd about the whole situation. Shroomish didn't seem lost, yet it couldn't be with a trainer, since he hadn't seen anybody else in this area. He briefly recalled the white-haired trainer, but dismissed him. He'd had a Hitmonchan. Trainers were forbidden from having more than one Pokémon.

    Thanks to the convenient footprints in the mud, it took less than a minute to catch up with Shroomish. He found it on a patch of slightly drier land, glaring down a small tree. Now what was it up to? As he watched, Shroomish gave a loud cry and charged the tree, striking it with a Headbutt attack. The tree shook, and a few leaves fell to the ground. Shroomish backed up and charged the tree again. It continued its pattern, striking the tree over and over.

    Koa watched, intrigued. Shroomish appeared to be training. The exercise wasn't all too different from what he would drill his own Pokémon on. But still, where was its trainer? A loud crack! Shook him out of his thoughts.

    The sapling that Shroomish had been attacking split down the middle. Shroomish stared at it triumphantly and let out a loud cry.

    "That was amazing!" Koa shouted, unable to contain himself. He raced over to Shroomish, who seemed vaguely annoyed by his reappearance. "You're awesome!"

    Shroomish frowned and headbutted him, making him stagger. It shot him a glare before trotting off back into the marsh. Koa followed, keeping a fair distance. Every now and then, it would look back and scowl, but kept walking. For the next several minutes, he followed Shroomish, his curiosity growing. Shroomish seemed to be looking for something. A few Pokémon watched curiously from the mud, but didn't approach. Then he saw the Toxicroak.

    The frog-like Pokémon was over four feet tall, and looked to be the prime of its species. Its red throat sac bulged and it let out a loud croak. Shroomish seemed to see it as well, and its eyes gleamed. With a cry of challenge, it sprinted across the mud at the Toxicroak.

    Koa's jaw dropped. That Shroomish was nuts! If it challenged that Toxicroak, it would surely lose. Intrigued, Koa crouched down to watch. Win or lose, battles generally didn't cause serious injuries, so he didn't plan on interfering. Plus, he doubted Shroomish would appreciate it.

    Toxicroak stared at its diminutive opponent. Then, without warning, it fired a Sludge Bomb. The poisonous muck sailed through the air towards Shroomish. Shroomish leaped out of the way, only to be struck by a second blast from Toxicroak. It rolled across the muddy ground several feet, before getting to its feet. It charged towards Toxicroak, who raised a purple, glowing claw.

    Toxicroak launched a flurry of Poison Jabs, but to Koa's surprise, Shroomish danced around every one of them, coming in close enough to land a Headbutt attack directly on Toxicroak's chest. It slid back, but seemed unfazed. An orange aura surrounded its body. Its claw glowed, then it threw a sharp jab at Shroomish. Shroomish leaped away, but too slowly. The attack clipped it, sending it spiraling through the air. It rolled through the mud, but hopped to its feet, still determined. In a near mirror image to the fight against Croagunk, Toxicroak primed another Poison Jab. It charged, sending up small splashes of mud. It raised its fist. Shroomish stared it down. Toxicroak swung its fist and -

    Shroomish leaped upwards, dancing across Toxicroak's arm and landing behind it. Its head glowed faintly and it leaped forward, striking Toxicroak on the back with Headbutt. Unfortunately, Toxicroak was a good deal larger than Croagunk, and the attack only made it stumble forwards. Rage sparked in its eyes. It whirled around with frightful speed, smashing Shroomish in the face with Poison Jab. As it sailed through the air, the enraged Toxicroak opened its jaws and blasted a Sludge Bomb at the airborne Shroomish. Koa flinched in sympathy as the attack struck, sending Shroomish into a tree. It slid to the ground, out cold.

    Toxicroak, however, didn't seem satisfied with the victory. Eyes still blazing with anger, it stalked across the mud, the long claws on its hands glowing vivid purple.

    Koa leaped to his feet. If it attacked Shroomish now, it would be bad.

    "Echo!" he shouted, already racing towards Toxicroak. The word had barely left his mouth before Echo descended upon Toxicroak with shocking fury, battering it with his wings. The startled Toxicroak staggered back, eyes wide. Taking one look at the trainer and angry Golbat, it gave a loud croak, then stalked away.

    Koa let out a breath of relief, then hurried over to the fallen Shroomish. It had gotten to its feet by the time he arrived, and was glaring sullenly at the ground. "Are you okay?" he asked. Its skin was still covered in poisonous slime, and its body looked a bit battered. Shroomish scowled and stalked away from him. Then, without warning, it collapsed and toppled into the mud.

    Echo let out a scree of concern. Koa dropped to his knees and scooped up the unconscious Shroomish. It's body felt oddly warm, yet dry. Its eyes were squeezed shut, and it gave a low moan. Koa swallowed nervously. It had a fever, and now that he was seeing it up close, it looked injured worse than he initially thought. Most likely the combination of pushing itself too hard, coupled with such intense battles, over exhausted it. Shroomish needed a Pokémon Center, fast. Cradling the injured Pokémon, Koa sprinted through the mud towards the tram stop. When he arrived, the station was empty. Panic filled Koa and he glanced up and down. In the distance, he saw it approaching. It had barely stopped before he leaped onto the tram. This time it was empty, though he wasn't surprised. There was still another hour to go. Most people were still out trying to make the most of their last hour.

    The whole time he rode the tram back, he couldn't take his eyes off Shroomish. He felt bad for it, but guilty as well. Maybe if he'd stepped in sooner... Rationally, he knew it couldn't be helped. Pokémon got into battles on their own all the time. It was in their biology, their nature. Shroomish had pushed itself far beyond its natural limits, which was the real reason it was hurt. What really ticked him off, was why it was out there all alone. Its trainer should have been looking out for it, protecting it and helping it get stronger.

    The tram jolted to stop and Koa leaped out of his seat. The Great Marsh featured an on site Pokémon Center for treating any injured Pokémon, so he wouldn't have to go far. He sprinted into the lobby. Before he could say a word, two nurses descended upon him like a couple of motherly Pidgeot. In a flurry of activity, they whisked Shroomish away to their healing centers. He spent a few minutes explaining what happened to the rangers, then found himself a spot in the lobby of the Pokémon Center to wait for news on Shroomish.

    Fortunately, he didn't have to wait too long. "Mr. Averon?"

    Koa looked up, watching as Nurse Joy approached.

    "Good news, Mr. Averon," Nurse Joy said. "The Shroomish you found will be just fine. It was simply suffering from a bit of over exertion. I've given it some medicine, and it'll be fine after some rest. It's a good thing you found it though, otherwise it would have been hurt much worse."

    "Oh..." Koa said softly. That was good, at least. "But what about its trainer?" he demanded. "Shouldn't they have been looking out for it?"

    Nurse Joy shook her head. "We contacted all the trainers who entered the Marsh today. None of them own a Shroomish. I've spoken to the local police, and they are in the process of finding out who its OT is."

    "Okay..." Koa said. "May I stay for now? Until you find its trainer, that is?"

    "If you wish," Nurse Joy said. She nodded to him, then left.

    Koa mulled over everything that happened. Why had Shroomish been fighting so hard? Usually wild Pokémon would know to rest, even when they fought.


    He looked up to see Avis jogging towards him. She stopped in front him, taking a second to catch her breath, then took a seat across from him.

    "What happened?" she asked. "I was looking in the lobby for you, and they told me you went this way. Did something happen to Golbat?"

    Koa quickly shook his head. "No. But I found an injured Shroomish. I mean, I tried to catch it at first, but the ball didn't work. Then it was fighting this crazy Toxicroak, but it got hurt, bad."

    "What about its trainer?" Avis asked.

    "I don't know. The police are looking into it now."

    "Hmph..." a contemplative look descended on her face. "I'll be back." She stood up and darted away before Koa could say a word. Well, that was pretty weird. He shrugged it off. Right now, he was more worried about Shroomish.

    A short time later, Nurse Joy returned. She looked to the officer next to her, a young woman with dark hair and a harsh gaze. "I understand that this Shroomish does not belong to you, correct?"

    Koa nodded.

    The officer continued. "We were able to make contact with its OT. If you wish, ownership of the Shroomish may be transferred to you. If not, he will likely be left here, at the Marsh."

    Koa blinked, taking in the information. "Yeah, I want it," he said quickly. He narrowed his eyes. "Who's the OT?"

    "I'm afraid I can't tell you that."

    Koa bit back an angry retort. It didn't matter. He'd wanted to catch a grass-type, he'd liked Shroomish's spirit, and now he could become its trainer. That was all that mattered. "Thanks," he murmured.

    The officer nodded and handed him the Pokéball. "He's yours now. But if I find out that you didn't take good care of it-"

    "I will!" Koa snapped.

    The officer grinned, clearly satisfied. "I'm glad that's settled. I'll take of the transfer on our end. Have a good day." With a sharp nod, she strode away.

    "Make sure to let Shroomish rest for today. After that it should make a full recovery," she said brightly. "Have a nice day, Mr. Averon."

    Once she'd left, he stood up. All he wanted now was to go back to his room and meet Shroomish.


    He was halfway to the Pokémon Center when Avis appeared from in front of him. "So I can't stick around long, but I found out something about that Shroomish."

    "Wait what?" Koa asked. "How'd you find out anything already? And you're leaving?"

    She nodded. "Yeah. I have to take care of something for one of my investigations. But forget that. I know the name of Shroomish's OT."

    "How? I thought that was classified? And should you even be telling me? I thought the police couldn't reveal information like that or something."

    She held her finger. "One. I'm not part of the police so it's not exactly against the law for me. Gray area." She held up a second finger. "Two. Remember something. Law and justice walk different roads. I think you deserve to know his name."

    A smile spread over Koa's face. "Ok. Thanks."

    She gave a sharp nod. "His name is Liam Akihiko."

    Koa felt sure he knew that name, however. Liam... Then it struck him. The rich brat from the Pokémon Mansion. Anger seared through him. Granted, there could be plenty of kids named Liam in the world, but an odd feeling told him that it could be the same Liam. He had seen him at the mansion with a Shroomish after all. Had the brat dumped his Shroomish? The thought alone made him hot with rage. For now, he would do his best to raise Shroomish. But by Arceus, if he ever saw that kid again...

    "Thanks for telling me."

    She waved him off. "I'll see you around, okay?" With that, she released her Staraptor, hopped on its back, and flew away. Koa was left with a sense of lingering bitterness. Was Shroomish's trainer really the same Liam?


    An hour later, he sat relaxing in his room at the Pokémon Center. Shroomish's Pokéball rested in his hand. He pressed the button and watched as Shroomish appeared before him. It looked around, perplexed, then frowned even deeper when it saw Koa.

    Koa took out his Pokédex and did a quick scan. Apparently, Shroomish was male. He didn't bother reading the moveset yet. That would come later. Taking a deep breath, he began to explain as much as he could to Shroomish, though he had an odd feeling Shroomish already knew.

    "So what do you say, Shroomish? I want to become a strong trainer, but my real dream is to be an explorer. You know Mt. Coronet?" Still frowning, Shroomish nodded. "I want to get strong enough to climb it and find the Spear Pillar."

    For nearly a minute, Shroomish just sat there, frowning. Of course, a Shroomish's face tended to look like a perpetual frown, so it was a little hard to tell what he was actually feeling. Finally, he nodded.

    A wide grin broke across Koa's face. "Great! Now... what should I call you?" he mused, tapping his chin.

    Shroomish gave an annoyed grunt and shook his head.

    Koa frowned at him. "What? Don't you want a nickname?"

    Shroomish stared intensely at him and nodded, then nodded his head.

    "What does that even mean? Yes and no?"

    Shroomish hopped up and down, then mimed an exaggerated motion of some kind that Koa couldn't quite decipher. He stared at the frustrated Shroomish for several seconds, trying to puzzle it out. "Are you saying you do want a name, but not yet?"

    Shroomish nodded eagerly.

    "Okay," Koa said slowly. Shroomish seemed to have a natural fighting spirit. Maybe... "Does that mean you want a name when you evolve?"

    Shroomish nodded again, his whole body moving as he did. He gave an excited cry of confirmation.

    "Okay, then it's settled. We'll figure out a good name for you once you evolve."

    Shroomish grinned at that and rumbled appreciatively.

    Koa smiled back. "Now that that's settled, I'll introduce you to your teammates." One by one, he released all his Pokémon. Echo was the first to greet Shroomish, with a cheerful shriek. Then Hazard and Shroomish locked eyes. Tiny sparks started dancing across Joltik's fur, and a fire blazed in Shroomish's eyes. Koa sensed the start of a rivalry between those two. Rascal approached Shroomish and let out a roar, to which Shroomish seemed unimpressed. Snorting in frustration, she stalked off and threw herself down on the floor, as if pouting. Koa chuckled. By now, the team seemed so used to her antics that her aggressiveness didn't faze them anymore. Finally, Anubis approached. He sniffed Shroomish curiously, then barked a greeting. Shroomish gave a low grunt in reply, which seemed to satisfy the Houndour.

    Grinning happily, Koa lay down on his bed, watching his Pokémon. Planning was good, he decided. But, so were surprises.

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Anubis (Male Houndour) {Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

    Shroomish (Male) {Effect Spore} - Tackle, Headbutt, Stun Spore, Mega Drain

    Hope everyone enjoyed! Koa has caught a Shroomish, though under somewhat unusual circumstances. Next up, Koa vs Wake!

    BZRich64 likes this.
  10. SAF

    SAF Team of Conflict

    Ants Troubled
    Level 18
    Apr 18, 2017
    Potion ★Lucarionite ★★★★
    Well, excuse me while I'm binge-reading this... :D
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    Flyg0n likes this.
  11. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    Well, as long as someone is binging this, lemme throw up another chapter :3
    Here we are at chapter 10! Koa's next challenge is the Pastoria gym. With Shroomish and Hazard on his side, it probably won't be as hard as Roark, but he'll still have to stay on his toes!

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Tyrunt (Female) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Anubis (Male Houndour) {Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

    Shroomish (Male) {Effect Spore} - Tackle, Headbutt, Stun Spore, Mega Drain

    Something landed on Koa's chest, jolting him awake. Opening his eyes, he glanced around to find himself still in his room at the Pokémon Center. He guessed he'd dozed off after dinner. Outside the window the sky was dark, leaving the room itself dark as well. He could just make out the shapes of his other Pokémon, scattered around the room, sleeping. Frowning, he turned on the desk lamp to see what had woken him up. Shroomish stood at the foot of the bed, scowling determinedly. He hopped up and down, then nodded at the door.

    Koa glanced at his Poketch. 5:04am. "Shroomish, its early," he grumbled. He turned to head back to bed, but Shroomish dived in front of him, then growled at him. He jumped up and down again, then hopped off the bed and butted his head against the door. Koa let out a sigh.

    "I guess should train," he muttered to himself. Now that he thought about it, he'd gotten rather complacent in his morning routine. Shroomish gave another, more insistent cry. The noise awoke Echo, who hung from the fan overhead. He let go and hovered to Koa's shoulder, draping himself comfortably across Koa's back. The noise awoke Rascal, who stood up and let out a long yawn. Hazard, who had apparently been snoozing on her head, slid off, chattering in annoyance. That just left Anubis. The Houndour opened his eyes sleepily, but as soon as he saw everyone else awake, he jumped up and began to bark excitedly.

    Well, as long as everyone was up, he might as well get back into proper training. "Come on everyone. We've got work to do." Yawning, he got dressed in his usual attire - shirt, cargo pants, boots, and his leather jacket, then pulled on his gloves and started for the door.

    As usual, Koa started with a warm-up and a jog. He was rather disappointed to find he'd lost a bit of his stamina and speed, but he figured it wouldn't take long to build back up. He opted for a route through the edge of the city that ducked through small patches of trees and took him across the little river that ran through town. Shroomish set the pace, charging ahead and forcing Koa to keep up. Anubis trotted loyally at Koa's side, while Rascal kept charging off to scare the local Pokémon, mostly any Pidgey or Starly who she could find. Echo, as usual, flew overhead. Hazard, however, surprised him the most. It didn't take the little Joltik long to hop off his shoulder and try to scurry alongside Shroomish.

    Shroomish, eager for the challenge, raced ahead. Not one to be left behind, Hazard charged after him, and the two began a contest of attempting to one-up each other. By the time they circled back around to the Pokémon Center, Hazard was thoroughly exhausted and could barely walk. Shroomish, for his part, looked pretty winded as well, but not quite as much as Hazard.

    Koa knelt down and patted Hazard. "Your legs aren't really built for long-distance running, buddy." Hazard chittered sadly and stared at the ground. "You can take him in a fight, though, don't worry." At that, Hazard perked up and gave an excited hop. Koa grinned, then stood up and turned to the rest of his Pokémon. They stood in a semi-circle around him, at the Pokémon Center's battlefield. Koa glanced at each of them, his mind already whirling with plans. There was a whole lot he wanted to get done before challenging Crasher Wake, Pastoria's gym leader.

    First, he gave out the Rare Candies he'd found to Anubis. Of all his Pokémon, he figured Anubis could use the boost. They wouldn't substitute for proper training, but they would help give him an edge. Next up was the Giga Drain TM. TM's, or Technical Machines, were truly modern marvels. They gave trainers a way to teach new moves to Pokémon quickly, as well as teach them moves that they couldn't normally learn through training.

    He took out his TM case, inserting the TM into the slot. He briefly returned Hazard to his Pokéball, placing it in the slot. With a few presses of a button, he switched out Absorb for Giga Drain. Once the task was done, he sent out Hazard once more.

    "Ok Hazard. I gave you Giga Drain, which will be really awesome for you. It's like Absorb, but way stronger. Ready to try it out?" Hazard chittered eagerly and hopped up and down.

    "Anubis!" Anubis trotted over and sat down a few feet away. "Ready?" Anubis gave a short bark and looked at Hazard expectantly.

    "Hazard, Giga Drain!" he shouted.

    Hazard's eyes glowed bright green, and a surprisingly large bright beam of green energy shot from his mouth, striking Anubis. Green sparks danced across the Houndour's fur and he staggered from the force of the attack. A moment later, Hazard let up, a triumphant gleam in his eyes. Anubis shook himself and barked approvingly. "Nice work, buddy," Koa called.

    With that accomplished, it was time for some proper training. First up would be Shroomish. After starting his other Pokémon on a simple regimen of trading moves back and forth and countering, he turned to Shroomish.

    He remembered Shroomish's moves from back at the marsh. Tackle, Headbutt, Stun Spore, and Mega Drain. He decided to check his Pokédex and do some quick research. Right now, Shroomish's moves were fairly limited. Giga Drain was a good start, he figured. He might replace it later, but for now, it would be a sufficiently strong grass-type move.

    Taking out his TM case, he repeated the process, swapping Mega Drain for Giga Drain. He didn't bother having Shroomish test it yet. The move was basically identical to Mega Drain anyway. What really concerned him was Tackle. Since Shroomish knew Headbutt, Tackle was essentially useless. After some deliberation, he decided there was only one good option. Seed Bomb. An exceedingly powerful grass-type move, it was a perfect fit for Shroomish.

    Koa knelt in front of Shroomish, who stared back at him, his gaze hard. "You won't need Tackle anymore, so we'll practice Seed Bomb instead, got it?" Shroomish nodded, his mouth set in a serious line.

    "Now, according to the Pokédex, Seed Bomb requires you to focus a bunch of grass-type energy to create seeds, then you launch them at your opponent. Got it?" Once more, Shroomish nodded. Koa dragged out one of the training dummies kept on hand at the Pokémon Center. It was nothing more than a large, stiff rubber statue resembling a Rhydon.

    He set it up at one end of the field, then positioned Shroomish at the other. "Now Shroomish, use Seed Bomb!"

    Shroomish gave a loud cry of determination. A green ball of energy began to form in front of its mouth. It grew from the size of a pebble to a softball. Then Shroomish launched it across the field. It made it halfway to the dummy before crashing to the ground with a loud pop. Shroomish scowled. Before Koa could say anything, Shroomish launched another. This one was larger, and a bit more focused. It made it almost to the dummy too, though it didn't explode with much force. Over and over, Shroomish fired Seed Bomb. After almost an hour, he was panting with exhaustion, but the fruits of his labor were showing. Each attack now hit its mark easily. The only part the technique lacked was the explosion.

    Shroomish glared furiously at the target, his tiny body heaving from the effort. "Don't give up, Shroomish! One more time. Pretend that Rhydon is your worst enemy."

    A glow flashed through Shroomish eyes. With a loud cry, he fired a massive ball of energy across the field. It crashed into the dummy with a resounding bang, followed by an explosion of dirt and rock. Koa grinned and knelt next to the exhausted Shroomish. "You did it! Now, how about we take a quick break?" Shroomish hesitated a moment, then nodded.

    As Koa returned to the Pokémon Center, excitement filled his bones. The third gym badge was as good as his.


    "Hey there, challenger! Ready for your battle?"

    Koa faced Crasher Wake, still in awe. He'd read about Crasher Wake, of course, but the man was truly massive in person. Wake wore his trademark blue and black wrestling tights, orange boots, along with a mask that crisscrossed his face. He stood well over six feet, and Koa was pretty sure it would take two of him side by side to equal the man's muscular girth. Koa privately wondered who was bigger - Lt. Surge, the famed gym leader of Vermilion City in the Kanto region, or Wake. "Yeah, I'm ready to get my Fen Badge."

    Wake grinned and turned around, motioning for Koa to follow. "I like your spunk. What's your name?"

    "Koamaru," he replied as he followed Wake through the gym to the battlefield. Even though he'd seen pictures of the gym's infamous water battlefield, it was still a daunting sight. A massive swimming pool, dotted with small floating platforms throughout, stretched from one end of the room to the other. Koa figured it was at least as long as several Gyarados. Mobility would be an issue, but he was sure his Pokémon could handle it. He took up a position on the challenger's side of the field, waiting as Wake made his way to the opposite side.

    A referee stepped up to a spot on the side of the field. "The battle between Crasher Wake and challenger Koamaru will be a three-on-three match. The battle will continue until one side is out of usable Pokémon. Furthermore, only the challenger may substitute Pokémon."

    Koa nodded. Unlike Roark or Gardenia, Wake and many other gyms opted for a three Pokémon match. It evened the odds a bit, and according to Wake, made the battles more fun.

    Wake pumped his fists in the air, his wide grin visible even from where Koa stood. "Think you're ready for my Pokémon? My Pokémon were toughened up by stormy white waters! They'll take everything you can throw at them and then pull you under! Victory will be ours! Come on, let's get it done!"

    Koa found himself smiling at the display. He liked Wake. The man had a boisterous attitude, but unlike Fantina, who was apparently never around, he seemed to take great joy in battles and liked to get straight to them. Still grinning, Wake grabbed a Pokéball from a small stand on his side of the field. With a flourish, he released his first Pokémon into the water.

    A Gyarados splashed into the pool, sending massive waves rippling throughout. It roared, then gave an odd sort of grin that Koa thought matched its trainer very well. Well, as long as Wake was using his Gyarados, that made his decision easy.

    "Come on out, Hazard!" He called, tossing the Pokéball onto the field. In a flash of light, Hazard landed on one of the many floating platforms dotted around the gym. At the sight of the minuscule Pokémon, Wake broke into uproarious laughter.

    "In all my time, I've never seen anyone use one of those before! I like it," he roared. "I'm looking forward to this."

    Yeah, he definitely liked Wake.

    "Battle, begin!" The referee called.

    "Electroweb!" Koa called. There wasn't much point trying to hide his strategy, not when he sent out an electric-type. All he needed were a few solid hits, since Gyarados sported a double-weakness to electricity.

    "Dragon Rage!"

    Hazard generated a small orb of electricity and fired the web, just as Gyarados cocked back its head and blasted a stream of purplish flames. The two attacks collided, then the Dragon Rage burst through, headed straight for Hazard.

    "Dodge!" Hazard scrambled out of the way, landing on another platform just as Dragon Breath struck the one he'd been standing on. "Now, Electroweb again."

    Hazard rapidly blasted the attack. The web arced through the air and wrapped around Gyarados' neck, shocking it.

    "Gyarados, use Bite!" Shaking off the electricity, Gyarados lunged forwards, jaws wide.

    "Dive underneath, Hazard," Koa said. Hazard leaped forward, his tiny size easily allowing him to slip under the attack. Gyarados crashed into the water, sending more waves throughout the stadium. "Electroweb again."

    Hazard whirled around, firing off a huge Electroweb. It crashed against Gyarados, shocking it again. It growled angrily, though Koa could tell it was losing steam.

    "Underwater, quick," Wake called, issuing the simple command. Snarling, Gyarados dived underwater, vanishing surprisingly quickly. Koa frowned. Thanks to its coloration, he couldn't make out its position underwater. But if Wake was anything like Roark and his Dig... A grin spread across his face.

    "Get ready, Hazard. He's coming from underneath." He said confidently. A moment later, Gyarados smashed into the platform Hazard stood on, sending him soaring into the air, almost reaching the roof.

    "Dragon Rage, again!" Wake shouted. Gyarados spat the purple fireball at the airborne Joltik. Koa's eyes widened. Joltik was completely vulnerable. An attack now would do a lot of damage.

    "Dodge with String Shot," Koa shouted quickly. Hazard spat a fat string of webbing, but instead of aiming it towards the ceiling to pull himself out of the way of the attack, he sprayed it downwards as he fell. Koa stared in confusion. What was he doing? Joltik's momentum carried him into his own attack, cocooning him in a dense layer of webbing. Then Dragon Rage hit. Understanding dawned on him as he watched the events play out. The fireball of draconic energy burned through the webbing fairly easily, but barely touched Hazard. Joltik hurtled down, straight towards the shocked Gyarados.


    With a malicious glint in his eyes, Hazard fired the burst of electric webbing. It struck Gyarados dead in the face, covering its entire head. Sparks rippled across its body as it roared in pain, then collapsed. Hazard landed on one of the platforms and chittered triumphantly.

    "Gyarados is unable to battle. Joltik is the winner!" The referee called.

    "Hey! That there! That was a good move!" Wake said as he returned Gyarados. "I like your Joltik! He's got spunk!"

    "Thanks!" Koa called. From across the field, Wake selected his second Pokéball. "You ready for my second Pokémon?"

    Koa nodded determinedly.

    Wake tossed out his second Pokéball. A Quagsire emerged into the water, rumbling happily.

    In that case.. "Hazard, come back," he said. Hazard leaped across the platforms and to Koa's side. Koa smiled proudly as he stooped down and gently scratched his head. Joltik chittered happily. "That was super cool, how you used a String Shot to shield yourself. You're awesome." He was definitely going to remember that tactic for another battle. Hazard made a happy churring noise, then hurried up his leg and onto his shoulder. "You want to watch the rest of the battle?" He asked. Hazard nodded eagerly.

    Koa selected his second Pokéball confidently. He'd been planning for this. "Go Shroomish!" He released Shroomish, who landed on one of the floating platforms and let out a battle cry.

    The referee raised his arms. "Battle, begin!"

    "Seed Bomb." Koa said. As with Gyarados, his strategy was simple. Quagsire featured only one weakness. Grass-type. And it was a double-weakness at that. All Koa needed was a few good hits, and he was sure he could take it down. Shroomish charged up a glowing ball of energy. He shot it, and it arced through the air towards Quagsire.

    "Dodge and go underwater." Quagsire dived smoothly underwater as Seed Bomb harmlessly exploded above him. Koa frowned. He'd been worried about this. Quagsire held a significant advantage in this field. Hitting would be a problem. But... it would have to surface at some point. A sudden idea struck him. Though he couldn't predict where it would surface, maybe he could control it.

    "Now, jump across the platforms and use Stun Spore!" Shroomish glanced back at him, confused. Then understanding dawned in his gaze and he nodded. His body shuddered, then a cloud of golden spores shot from his head. As Shroomish leaped from platform to platform, he scattered a layer of spores across the water. Within moments, most of the pool was covered in the spores. Wake scowled, and Koa grinned at him. Shroomish had just ruined Wake's best advantage.

    "Ice Beam," Wake said.

    "There!" Koa called, pointing to Wake's end of the pool. Only a few areas remained untouched by the dangerous spores. Which meant Quagsire didn't have many options. "Seed Bomb."

    Quagsire leaped from the water, the icy orb of energy already ready. As it fired the triple beam of icy energy, Shroomish had already launched his Seed Bomb. Unfortunately, charging it had left him wide open. Ice Beam struck him full on, sending him skipping across the water. At nearly the same moment, Seed Bomb came down upon Quagsire's head, exploding and sending it straight into the spore filled pool.

    Shivering, Shroomish stood battered but still standing on one of the platforms closest to Koa. At the opposite end of the pool, Quagsire was still conscious, but tiny sparks traveled across its body and it trembled violently. Good. The spores had done their work.

    "Get closer and use Giga Drain." Shroomish hopped awkwardly across the platforms, his speed slightly hampered by the chill from Ice Beam.

    "Quagsire, quick. Sludge Bomb!" Quagsire opened its jaws, then shut them and grimaced as another spasm wracked its body. Shroomish stopped halfway across the pool, then fired a beam of iridescent green energy. It struck Quagsire, draining the last of its strength and restoring Shroomish slightly. Within moments, Quagsire was unconscious. Wake smiled sadly as he returned it.

    "Quagsire is unable to battle. Shroomish is the victor!"

    "Nice work, Shroomish," Koa called.

    "That was some smart moves, using Stun Spore on the pool. Now, get ready for my toughest Pokémon! Go Floatzel!"

    Wake tossed out his final Pokéball, revealing an impressive looking Floatzel. It landed on a platform with a cry of challenge, before diving smoothly into the water.

    Koa eyed it thoughtfully. By now, the spores had dispersed rather harmlessly into the water. There was a chance he could try the same trick again, but Floatzel was clearly much faster than Quagsire. He was sure it could attack before Shroomish could do much, plus Wake would be ready for it.

    After a moment's hesitation, he returned Shroomish. His fingers brushed over his other pokeballs as he contemplated his next move. Hazard was always an option, but it would be hard for him to use size to his advantage properly, plus he didn't think Joltik could match Floatzel in mobility. Tyrunt was powerful, but he wasn't really sure she had enough raw power yet to compensate for her disadvantage. He wanted to catch Wake off guard. And he had the perfect Pokémon for that. Selecting the familiar black and red Pokéball, he tossed it out.

    "Go Echo." With an excited screech, Golbat emerged onto the battlefield. "Stay airborne. Be ready for it. That Floatzel looks fast," Koa said quietly. Echo nodded and hovered a little higher. Floatzel poked its head out of the water and eyed Golbat, grinning toothily.

    "Battle begin."

    "This is where it gets exciting. First move is yours, Koa!" Wake shouted. His voice remained jovial, which surprised Koa. He was on his last Pokémon after all.

    Time to test his opponent. "Alright Echo, Crunch!"

    Echo circled, then dived down, his jaws glowing with dark energy.

    "Block it." Floatzel leaped out of the water, landing nimbly on a platform. It swiftly inflated the floating sac around its neck, just as Echo was about to sink his fangs in. Instead, Echo ended up biting the sac. The Floatzel grimaced from the impact, but managed to shake Golbat off. Koa snorted in frustration. Crunch had done some damage, but only a little. There was no way using Crunch or Wing Attack would deal the necessary damage if it kept blocking like that.

    "Ice Fang." Floatzel leaped gracefully into the air, its jaws glowing.

    "Wing Attack!" Echo shrieked and dived at the approaching Floatzel, both his wings glowing. The attacks collided, with Floatzel sinking its jaws into one of Echo's wings. Just as it bit down, Echo swung his other wing straight into its face, knocking it off. Floatzel landed in the pool below with a splash, but quickly emerged, looking relatively unharmed.

    "Up, Golbat," Koa murmured. Echo floated higher, swooping in erratic circles above Floatzel. Koa could tell he was feeling the effects of Ice Fang. Floatzel had better stamina than Echo, he suspected. So perhaps a similar tactic to how he'd beat Roark could work.

    "Wing Attack." Echo dived down in an instant, his wings glowing.

    Wake let out a loud laugh. "Block it, Floatzel." Floatzel hopped neatly onto a platform and puffed out its floatation sac. Echo smashed it with Wing Attack, only succeeding in knocking Floatzel back a half-inch. Koa smirked. Just as he hoped.

    "Now, Poison Fang." Wake's eyes widened as he realized what was about to happen. Fangs dripping with toxic poison, Echo sank his jaws into the flotation sac, eliciting a squeal of pain from Floatzel.

    "Get that thing off with Bulk Up and Brine."

    Red aura surrounded Floatzel and its entire body expanded slightly, dislodging Echo. Rearing back, Floatzel opened its jaws and blasted Echo in the face with a powerful stream of water. Echo flew halfway across the battlefield before he caught himself and landed on one of the platforms, breathing heavily.

    Floatzel staggered and sank briefly to its knees, its eyes closed. Koa could see where Echo had bit it, and the area was turning purple. A smile crept over his face. Echo had bit down long enough for Poison Fang to do its work.

    "Brine once again." Floatzel recovered and stood up, blasting another jet of water at Echo.

    "Dodge!" Koa called. Echo fluttered upwards, but his exhaustion slowed him. Brine glanced off one of his wings, sending him spiraling.

    "Ice Fang!" Floatzel dived into the water, surging forward with shocking speed.

    Koa gritted his teeth. There was only one chance to end this. "Don't give up, Echo. Fly up!"

    Echo caught himself and, finding a reserve of strength, surged upwards. Floatzel leaped after him, its jaws glowing icy blue.

    "Turn, then Confuse Ray!" Already midair, Floatzel was unable to halt its momentum. Echo turned sideways, letting Floatzel pass by just inches away. Golden orbs formed in his jaws, and he hit Floatzel point blank with Confuse Ray. Floatzel cried out and fell back towards the pool and crashed into one of the platforms. Echo slowly hovered above the battlefield, breathing heavily. Koa wasn't sure he could last much longer.

    Floatzel staggered to its feet and growled, a vacant glaze in its eyes. "Floatzel, in the water, quick!" Still in a trance, Floatzel opened its jaws wide, fangs glowing ice blue, then sank them into its own arm. It cried out in pain and collapsed onto the platform, barely conscious.

    "Floatzel!" Wake shouted again.

    "Wing Attack." Koa said, calmly. Echo grinned, weary yet triumphant, then dived towards the exhausted Floatzel. Still dazed, it glanced upwards. Panic filled its confused eyes and it tried to drag itself off the platform, but too late. Echo whirled and smashed it twice with Wing Attack, knocking it out.

    "Floatzel is unable to battle! Challenger Koamaru is the winner."

    Koa pumped his fist in the air. "Yes!" He shouted. Hazard bounced up and down excitedly on his shoulder. Echo fluttered over to him, and Koa held out his arms. Golbat practically collapsed into them, and he scratched him behind his ears. "Nice work, buddy." He took out Echo's Pokéball and returned him.

    Crasher Wake jogged around the battlefield towards him. A few moments later, he stood before Koa, still grinning widely. He clapped Koa on the back, nearly making him fall over. "That was impressive! It seems the undertow pulled me under... But I had a great time battling with you! You've earned this!" He held out the Fen badge, a gleaming blue and silver circular badge that vaguely resembled a wave, though Koa thought it looked more like Wake's trademark mask. He also held out a small pouch of money.

    Koa took both, grinning proudly. "Thank you!"

    "You certainly earned it, kid. I have to say, you have some unusual Pokémon. The Shroomish is expected, but I've never had someone use Joltik before. And I don't think I've ever had a challenger use a Golbat. Did you catch it as a Golbat?"

    "Nope," Koa said, shaking his head. "I caught him as a Zubat. Technically, he's my starter Pokémon."

    At that, Wake guwaffed loudly. "I don't believe it! A Zubat was the first Pokémon you caught?"

    Koa nodded sheepishly. "I didn't mean to at first, but now I wouldn't trade him for anything."

    Wake nodded and clapped Koa on his shoulder. Koa staggered from the force of it. "That's good, kid. A good trainer raises strong Pokémon. A great trainer makes his Pokémon strong. You've got the potential to be great."

    Heat rose to Koa's cheeks. "Really?" he asked. A hint of embarrassment rushed through him. He'd never actually thought about if he had potential. "Well, I owe it to my Golbat. He was the one who didn't give up on me."

    "I like you, Koa. Come back after you get all eight badges. I'd love to battle you with my real team."

    "Sure!" Koa said eagerly, grinning. Even if Wake wasn't the hardest gym leader, he liked him a lot. A lot more than Fantina, that was for sure. Although that wasn't exactly saying much, he supposed. Either way, Wake was fun.

    "Where are you headed next?" Wake asked.

    "Back to Hearthome, I guess," he said after a moment. "I still need to battle Fantina."

    Wake frowned. "Hmph. Well, good look with that, kid. Now, I have some preparations to make for the Croagunk Festival. I look forward to seeing you again."

    Koa waved farewell, then left the gym, a feeling of pride flowing through him. He took a moment to admire his new badge, then placed it in his badge case. As he walked towards the Pokémon Center, he contemplated his next move again. After some deliberation, he decided his best bet would be to head back to Hearthome. Either that, or an equally arduous trek north, to Veilstone. Though with Anubis, the Hearthome gym would be easy. Fantina should be back at her gym, so he could get his fourth badge. Of course, that meant making the long walk back across Route 212.

    Still pondering, he stepped into the Pokémon Center and walked up to the counter. He handed off all his Pokémon, then took a quick trip to the Pokemart. He needed to restock on his healing items, plus he wanted to buy a jar of honey for Echo. He'd more than earned it, after his fight with Floatzel. Buying it from the Pokemart cost him a bit more than getting it straight from Floaroma, but it was worth it. Besides, he'd earned a decent sum of money from his recent battles and from defeating Wake.

    Once he'd purchased his items, he decided to check the TM counter. Unfortunately, they didn't have anything he wanted. He suspected he wouldn't find much until he got to Veilstone City. Pastoria was exactly known for its TM selection. Oh well.

    By the time he returned to the Pokémon Center, the resident nurse Joy had finished healing his team. He'd decided to get a head start on traveling back to Hearthome. Thanks to the shortcut Avis had shown him, he figured if he didn't get slowed down, he could make the trip in a week.

    Once he stood outside the city, he released all his Pokémon. They greeted him with varying eager cries, although he noted Hazard seemed a bit subdued. His eyes looked a bit duller than normal, which made Koa frown. "Everything ok, Hazard?" Joltik quickly brightened up and nodded. Koa scratched his head, then turned to Echo. "First things first. I think you deserve a special treat." He gently removed the jar of honey from his backpack, placing it on the ground.

    Echo's eyes lit up and he dived at the jar.

    "Wait, wait, let me open- it first!" Koa said, laughing. Golbat perched a mere half-inch away, drool trickling from his open jaw. Unscrewing the lid, he nudged it towards Echo.

    Echo descended upon it in a flurry, swallowing the jar whole. A few moments later he spat it out, completely empty. Some honey trickled down the corners of his mouth, which he promptly licked off. Then he leaped into Koa's lap, slathering him in sticky licks of gratitude.

    "Get off!" Koa cried playfully, pushing Echo away. Grimacing, he did his best to wipe the sticky saliva off. "Thanks a lot," he muttered, still smiling. Echo shrieked happily and then fluttered onto his shoulders. Koa stood up and slung his backpack on, briefly dislodging Echo, who immediately relighted on his shoulders.

    "Alright everyone, let's get going to Hearthome." He decided to return his team, save for Shroomish, who he hoped to get some exercise for, and Anubis. Since they were the newest members of his team, they needed the most attention.

    He set off walking, angling north so he could get to the shortcut. As he crested a hill and neared the dense trees where the shortcut was hidden, Shroomish let out a loud cry. Koa paused, turning to see what had caught Shroomish's attention.

    Farther down the hill, at the edge of the marsh, he spotted a trainer and Pokémon. Shroomish was staring at the trainer, eye alight with the fire of battle. Koa frowned and peered down the hill at the pair. They looked vaguely familiar... The trainer had dark skin and white hair, and his Pokémon appeared to be a Hitmonchan. Shroomish jumped up and down excitedly, looking between Koa and the trainer. Then he started to trot down the hill towards them.

    Koa followed, his curiosity peaked. Anubis trotted beside him, tail wagging. He was certain now that he knew the white-haired trainer from somewhere. As he drew closer, he could see the trainer was fairly young, maybe 16- or 17 by Koa's estimate. He stood ankle deep in the mud, doing some kind of strange motion with his arms. It almost looked like some kind of martial arts moves, except incredibly slow. His Hitmonchan stood a few feet in front of him, eyes closed as it copied the motions exactly. Koa wondered how it knew what to do without watching its trainer.

    Shroomish darted across the mud and started to jump up and down excitedly, grunting. "Shroomish, stop it," Koa hissed. He didn't want to disturb the trainer from... whatever it was the guy was doing. If the trainer noticed, he gave no indication that he did.

    Shroomish watched them, an unusual intensity burning in his gaze. Koa stared thoughtfully at the trainer, trying to remember where he'd seen him. A white-haired young man and a Hitmonchan... He snapped his fingers suddenly. That was it! He'd been at the Great Marsh yesterday.

    The trainer seemed to finish what he was doing, then turned around to face Koa.

    Anubis trotted over to the trainer sniffing him eagerly, his tail wagging the whole time. Then he barked and started licking the trainers outstretched hand.

    "Anubis, stop!" Anubis stopped and sat dutifully beside Koa. The exchange did make Koa curious. He remembered reading somewhere that canine Pokémon like Houndour and Growlithe were excellent judges of character.

    "Uh.. hey," Koa said, awkwardly. "I think my Shroomish was excited by your... training." At least, he thought it was training. He honestly had no idea what he was doing. The only thing he did know was the Shroomish was very interested in the man.

    Shroomish bounced over to the Hitmonchan and gave a loud cry. Hitmonchan gently extended a fist towards the Shroomish, which Shroomish answered by leaping into the air and headbutting it, though not hard.

    "I believe your Shroomish wants to challenge my Hitmonchan," the trainer said.

    Koa grinned. Shroomish could definitely use the workout. "I'm down for a battle. If you can handle it."

    The trainer inclined his head towards his Hitmonchan. They met eyes, and Hitmonchan grunted and nodded. "Jackie agrees. What is your name?"

    "Koa," he replied. "Yours?"


    Koa frowned, puzzled. The name was certainly odd, though he supposed he had no right to judge, considering his own name was equally weird.

    "One on one then, Kitto?" he asked.

    To his surprise, Kitto shook his head. "Two on one. Let me battle your best. Then I will battle your Shroomish."

    Koa balked. Two on one? The odds were unfair, especially if his Hitmonchan wasn't strong. He eyed Hitmonchan, who seemed unfazed. "Hey, it's your loss," he said, shrugging.

    "You'll get a chance soon, Shroomish," he said, addressing Shroomish, who was still watching the Hitmonchan determinedly. He gave a small nod, but his gaze didn't leave Hitmonchan.

    Kitto headed up the hill, and Koa followed him to the top, where the ground was firm and dry. They took up positions on opposite sides of the hilltop.

    "Summon your best," Kitto called.

    Well, if Kitto was using a Hitmonchan, there was only one Pokémon he trusted. "Come out, Echo," he said. Echo emerged onto the battlefield, shrieking. Hitmonchan simply watched it, unfazed. Tyrunt held more raw power, but Echo simply had more battle experience and type advantage. Besides, Kitto had asked for his best. Anubis sat on Koa's other size, his gaze intensely focused on the battlefield.

    "Hitmonchan, battle stance north," Kitto called. Hitmonchan took up a fighting stance, his eyes narrowed and his gaze serious. Koa blinked, then stared at Hitmonchan. He'd seen plenty of pictures of Hitmonchan, and seen a few videos, especially since he'd wanted a Tyrogue. But he'd never seen a Hitmonchan using the stance that his opponent did. It looked different from the traditional boxer's stance of their breed.

    "Be on your guard, Echo," he murmured. Echo nodded in understanding.

    Kitto spoke up again. "You may have the first attack."

    "Alright Koa, Confuse Ray!" A trio of golden orbs swirled in front of the Golbat's jaws, then he fired them at Hitmonchan.

    "Thunder Punch," Kitto called.

    The orb struck Hitmonchan as its fist charged with electricity. Without warning, it struck itself in the face and staggered back slightly.

    Perfect. He guessed confusion had kicked in just in time. "Wing Attack!"

    Echo's wings glowed white and he dived downwards. With a spin, he struck Hitmonchan across the face, knocking it back several yards. Still seemingly in a daze, Hitmonchan staggered over to a tree and began to punch it.

    Grinning, Koa gestured wildly. "Wing Attack again! Finish him!" Echo dived at Hitmonchan again, who was still punching the tree. It wasn't until he was barely a yard away that Kitto gave a command.

    "Brick Break."

    Instantly, Hitmonchan stopped punching the tree. In a blur of motion, it took two steps up the tree, leaping off and somersaulting over Echo. Echo's Wing Attack passed underneath it as Hitmonchan's fist glowed white. Before Koa could open his mouth, Hitmonchan smashed its fist into the airborne Golbat, sending him smashing into the ground.

    "Echo!" he shouted.

    "Thunder Punch."

    Dread filled Koa, but there was little he could do - Echo was still stunned from the Brick Break that had cratered him into the ground. Hitmonchan sailed downwards, its fist cloaked in electricity, and smashed into Echo. Koa flinched. That definitely hurt. Hitmonchan jumped back, landing nimbly a few feet away. The dust cleared, revealing what Koa already knew - Echo had fainted.

    Grimacing, he returned Echo. He stared at Hitmonchan, perplexed. He knew confusion could last anywhere from a minute to several minutes. How had it overcome it so easily? Luck?

    "Hitmonchan sure shook off that confusion pretty quick," he called.

    Kitto threw his head back and chuckled. "Hitmonchan was never confused. That Thunder Punch? He used it on himself on purpose. The jolt of electricity broke the confusion."

    Koa blinked. "Wh-" he bit back the question. He didn't want to show any weakness. Still, what? The idea made sense, but it was a tactic that caught him way off guard. What other tricks did Kitto and his Hitmonchan have up their sleeves?

    An odd feeling filled him, not unlike when he first lost to Roark. Though Hitmonchan's overall strength seemed equal, if only slightly greater than his own, his technique was impeccable. Still annoyed by his loss, he turned to Shroomish, who had watched the entire battle silently from his side. With a loud cry, Shroomish sprang onto the battlefield, glaring Hitmonchan down.

    "Okay Jackie, battle stance south," Kitto said smoothly.

    Hitmonchan nodded, switching to another stance Koa didn't recognize.

    A frown crossed Koa's face. If his opponent was that good, he needed to start with a bang. "Shroomish, use Seed Bomb!"

    Shroomish tilted his face upwards as a glowing ball of energy gathered in front of his mouth. With a roar, he spat it across the field, straight at Hitmonchan.

    "Counter with Fire Punch."

    At the last moment, Himonchan threw a fist cloaked in flames at Seed Bomb. The collision created an explosion that shoved Hitmonchan back several feet.

    "Brick Break."

    "Headbutt." Maybe he could get Effect Spore to kick in...

    Hitmonchan and Shroomish charged across the field towards each other.

    "Be careful!" Kitto shouted.

    Hitmonchan tripped midstep, its Brick Break crashing into the ground. The strike generated enough force to crack the earth and send a rock jutting up between Shroomish and Hitmonchan.

    Shroomish struck the rock and bounced back, relatively unharmed. The rock crumbled from the force of the blow. Koa frowned. He had no idea if the counter had been accidental or intentional, but he needed to get the upper hand somehow.

    "Headbutt!" he called again. Shroomish grunted and charged at Hitmonchan once more.

    "Brick break again," Kitto said.

    Koa mentally grinned. Perfect.

    Hitmonchan sprinted across the field, its fist glowing. It drew its fist back, about to strike.

    "Stun Spore!" Koa shouted.

    Shroomish's body rippled and then an explosion of yellow spores burst from its head as Brick Break connected. The blow sent Shroomish flying back, but he managed to land on his feet, panting but triumphant. Hitmonchan's eyes widened as the spores coated its body. Sparks danced across its body and it grunted.

    Finally. Hopefully the Hitmonchan would stay paralyzed. "Seed Bomb!"

    Shroomish launched the familiar ball of green energy at Hitmonchan. Hitmonchan lurched sideways in an attempt to dodge, but more sparks shot across its body and it sank to its knees. Seed Bomb crashed onto its head and exploded. Hitmonchan grunted and pushed itself to its feet.

    "Giga Drain," Koa called. No way was he letting this chance go. Shroomish had a chance to do some real damage.

    Shroomish's eyes lit up and a beam of green energy struck Hitmonchan. Energy began to flow to the tired Shroomish, and his strength began to return slowly but surely

    "Brick Break," Kitto called. Hitmonchan tried to raise his fist, then shuddered and froze. Koa couldn't believe his luck.

    "Keep trying, don't stop," Kitto said confidently.

    Once more, Hitmonchan tried to raise its fist, only to be paralyzed. Then, on the third try, it succeeded. With a mighty cry, it smashed its fist into the ground again, creating a barrier of rock and cutting off Giga Drain.

    Koa scowled. Shroomish had replenished a fair amount of energy, but he was far from fully recovered either. Plus, the rock barrier blocked his view of Hitmonchan. Whatever. That wouldn't stop him.

    "Fire punch! Ice punch!" Kitto shouted.

    "Seed Bomb, Shroomish. Arc it over the wall!"

    Shroomish nodded and charged up the ball of green energy.

    From behind the wall, he heard a cry of pain, followed by a sudden burst of flame. What was that?

    With a cry, Shroomish threw his head back, launching Seed Bomb into the air. It arced expertly, hurtling down towards where Hitmonchan likely stood. Suddenly, the rock wall shattered, revealing a singed looking Hitmonchan. It swung an ice coated fist up at the approaching Seed bomb, striking it dead on. The Seed Bomb froze over and Hitmonchan rolled it nimbly down his arm, across his back and spun it off his other arm. Then he twisted and punched it straight at Shroomish.

    "Dodge!" Koa cried.

    Shroomish scrambled desperately backwards.

    Kitto gave a single command. "Break."

    Hitmonchan slammed his fist into the ground.

    Several things happened at once. A crack ran across the ground from the spot where Hitmonchan had first tripped and used the rock barrier, to the second spot where he'd repeated the trick. The earth shifted slightly, and a larger crack formed. Shroomish stumbled as the earth tilted suddenly, shoving him upwards a few feet. He gave a shocked cry, his tiny legs flailing midair. The ice coated Seed Bomb smashed into him hard, crushing him back into the ground and creating a small explosion of dust.

    Koa gaped at the display. As the dust cleared, he took out Shroomish's Pokéball, ready to return him, when Shroomish slowly stood up. Koa's jaw dropped. How was he still able to stand after taking a hit like that? Shroomish gave a defiant grunt, his breaths coming in short gasps. One more hit and he was definitely done. But if Shroomish wasn't giving up, then neither was he.

    "Okay Shroomish, use-" He paused. Shroomish started to bounce from one foot to the other, swinging his stubby body in a strange motion. If he'd had arms, Koa would've thought it almost resembled a punch.

    A shimmer covered Shroomish and a glow gathered on one side of his body. Then he charged across the battlefield. As he ran, the glow spread across his entire body. His shape began to morph, his legs elongating and his head and body growing. A tail sprouted from his lean frame, and two small arms emerged. In the silhouette, he saw Shroomish raise one of his fists. Then, in a burst of blinding speed, he covered the last few yards to Hitmonchan, his frame still glowing with energy. His fist collided with Hitmonchan's. Light and energy exploded from Shroomish's form.

    Koa's jaw dropped. In place of Shroomish now stood a Breloom, his fist pressing defiantly against Hitmonchan's, a triumphant and satisfied gleam in his eye. Sparks flew as the two Pokémon engaged in a contest of strength and will, both pressing against each other. Then, almost too fast for Koa to see, Hitmonchan did a strange twist with his body. Energy exploded in his fist, sending Breloom sliding backwards.

    As Breloom slid, Hitmonchan charged after him, blindingly fast. He began to throw a volley of rapid-fire punches using only his right arm, which Breloom fiercely began to defend.

    "Match up," Kitto said calmly. Even before he finished giving the command, Hitmonchan responded. He began trading blows with Shroomish, each of his punches precisely striking and blocking Breloom's punches. Koa could only watch in awe as the two went at it.

    "Your Breloom is a worthy opponent. Jackie and I can't wait until he gets stronger."

    Koa could see that Breloom was beginning to tire while Hitmonchan looked worn, but far from spent.

    Kitto continued. "However, that being said, Fire Punch."

    Koa paled as Kitto spoke. He opened his mouth to warn Breloom, but it was much too late.

    Breloom threw a punch that seemed to strike Hitmonchan dead in the jaw. Then in a blur of motion, Hitmonchan had vanished, ducking around the blow, his fist coated in flames. He struck Breloom in the chest, and a burst of flame erupted all around him. A couple seconds later, the flames faded, leaving Breloom still standing. Then, as Koa watched, Breloom crumpled to the ground, unconscious.

    Koa raced to Breloom's side and knelt next to him. He stirred weakly and opened his eyes, grunting in pain. His face was twisted into a frown, and his eyes were downcast. Koa thought he looked heartbroken.

    "You were awesome, Shroomish!" He murmured. "You evolved just to fight that Hitmonchan. That's sick."

    At that, Breloom cracked a small smile. Koa took out a potion from his pocket, quickly restoring him. Looking up, he saw Kitto approaching. With a quick glance to make sure Breloom was alright, he stood up and dusted his hands off.

    "Your Breloom pushed himself to evolve, just to fight Jackie," Kitto said, gesturing to Hitmonchan. "That was incredible."

    Breloom had gotten to his feet and was glaring fiercely at Hitmonchan.

    Koa shook Kitto's hand. "Your Hitmonchan - I mean, Jackie - is amazing. I don't think I've ever seen a Hitmonchan fight like that." A wistful note crept into his voice. His love for his new Breloom hadn't decreased, but he vowed to catch a Tyrogue one day. It would be awesome to have one of the 'Hitmon' line for himself.

    A movement to his left caught his attention. Koa turned to see that Breloom had moved several feet away and was experimentally throwing a few jabs at a tree. Jackie watched from afar, a gleam of interest in his eyes. A random thought occured to Koa, and he whirled back to face Kitto. "Will you help train Breloom? He's already really tough, but I don't know anything about fighting. I mean, fighting like you. That was some kind of martial arts you were practicing earlier, right?"

    "Yeah, 'some kind' of martial arts," Kitto replied, air quoting himself. His voice had an obvious note of sarcasm, though it more playful instead of malicious.

    Koa pressed on. "Well, I think Breloom needs a good teacher. Come with me as far as Hearthome, and teach him."

    Kitto frowned thoughtfully. His gaze traveled from Shroomish to Koa, scrutinizing. Koa shuddered slightly and felt tempted to take a step back, but held his ground. For someone so young, Kitto had an unusually intense gaze. It felt calculating and intense, yet not cold. There was a warmth in his red eyes. Finally Kitto spoke. "I can teach him, but you will have to leave Breloom with me. We will have to undergo intense training. Do you accept?"

    Koa stared at Kitto. His temper flared. "No way!" He burst out. "Give you Breloom? I don't think so!" He snapped.

    Kitto cocked an eyebrow. "Don't you want your Breloom to get stronger?"

    "Sure, but not like that. You're a complete stranger! I just met you. There's no way I'm giving you my Pokémon just like that." His mind flashed back to Clefairy and the robbery at Rowan's lab. He took a hesitant step back. "For all I know you could be some kind of Pokémon thief," he grumbled. Granted, Koa didn't think Kitto was actually a thief, but it didn't change how he felt. "Look, I would rather get stronger with Breloom. Even if it takes way longer. So thanks, but no thanks. We'll just train on our own."

    Kitto regarded him with a serious eye for a moment, then broke into a wide smile. "And that's the right answer. Training is about the bond between a Pokémon and trainer. It's sacred and should be treasured." His voice began to grow in intensity. "A trainer should always strive to grow stronger with their Pokémon, because training isn't just a game! It's not some ping pong match that you send your Pokémon off to on a whim! You work hard and you reap the rewards of your effort! That is the only way to become a truly great trainer!"

    By the time he finished, his voice had reached a level of intensity Koa hadn't seen in any other trainer. Kitto wasn't loud but man was his voice intense. There was a fiery passion in every word he spoke that Koa couldn't help but admire.

    "Anyway, I'm glad you said no. If you'd agreed, I wouldn't have trained either of you. I could very well be a member of Team Rocket, for all you knew."

    Koa squinted at him. "Are you?"

    Kitto chuckled, clearly amused by the implication. "Well, in my experience Team Rocket tends to hire fools or ugly people. Anyways, have you ever seen Team Rocket fight like me?"

    "Well, I don't know anyone from Team Rocket." His mind trailed back to Kitto's earlier words. "So wait... does this mean you will train Breloom?"

    Kitto nodded. "Sure, why not? Your Breloom is pretty impressive."

    A wide grin spread across Koa's face. Unable to help himself, he pumped his fist in the air. "Sick!"

    "Breloom!" he called. Breloom stopped his practice, and trotted over. "Kitto and Jackie are going to travel with us and help you train."

    Breloom grunted, a note of frustration in his voice, though it lacked bitterness. Koa suspected Breloom was still annoyed he'd lost, especially after evolving. He leaned close to whisper to him, "Don't worry. We'll beat them soon." He held out his fist, and Breloom grinned and bumped his fist against Koa's.

    Kitto glanced at the sky. By now, the sun was approaching the west horizon and the first traces of orange and pink were coloring the horizon. "We should get moving soon," he said. He strode over to his Hitmonchan and pulled out an Oran berry from his pocket. "Here you go, Jackie." He pulled out a second berry and held it out to Breloom. "And one for you, little scrapper."

    Breloom's eyes lit up and he trotted over, taking the berry from Kitto.

    Koa snapped his fingers suddenly. "Scrapper!" he shouted. Both Kitto and Breloom turned to face him. He rushed over to Breloom, staring at him eagerly. "Now that you evolved, you can have a nickname. What do you think of Scrapper?" He'd spent hours deliberating on one, but until now, he hadn't thought of one that felt right. But thanks to Kitto, he'd been given the perfect idea.

    Breloom's eyes lit up and he gave a happy cry, nodding his head fiercely.

    "From now on, your name is Scrapper," Koa declared. He held out his fist, and Breloom- no, Scrapper - gave him a fist bump.

    "So, are we ready to go?" Koa asked eagerly, turning to Kitto.

    Kitto simply nodded in reply.

    "Great!" Koa said. "I know a shortcut around the marsh." He set of towards the trees, excitement buzzing through him.

    Not only had Scrapper found a rival in the Kitto's Hitmonchan, but a valuable teacher as well. The prospect of the training that lay in wait for them had him ready to burst. The stronger he got, the faster he could earn his badges. And once he had all eight badges... A shiver traveled down his spine and he reflexively glanced towards the distant shadow of Mt. Coronet. "Soon..." he whispered.

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Anubis (Male Houndour) {Ability: Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

    Scrapper (Male Breloom) {Ability: Effect Spore} - Seed Bomb, Mach Punch, Stun Spore, Giga Drain

    Egg (Unknown)


    First thing first. The name Kitto is pronounced [Kee-toe].

    I hope everyone enjoyed that chapter and the gym battle! This one was definitely a mite easier for Koa, since he had the type advantage, but he still had to be clever. I like to think of Wake as the kind of guy who isn't as hard as some of the other gym leaders (with his gym team at least), but is looking to see if challengers can give him a fun battle.

    Something Kitto says in his rant is a subtle reference to something from the diamond and pearl Pokémon anime, I'm curious if any caught it.

    BZRich64 likes this.
  12. Flyg0n

    Flyg0n PKMN Breeder

    Level 33
    May 2, 2016
    Chapter 12: You've Got to Be Kitto-ing Me!

    Note: Kitto is pronounced [Kee-toe]. Kinda like the word Aikido.

    This chapter, Koa has a new training partner as he journeys to his gym battle in Hearthome. How will his training go? And what other encounters will he have on the road there?

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Anubis (Male Houndour) {Ability: Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

    Scrapper (Male Breloom) {Ability: Effect Spore} - Seed Bomb, Mach Punch*, Stun Spore, Giga Drain

    "Mach Punch, again!"

    Scrapper charged across the field towards Hitmonchan, his fist glowing. Then, when he was a couple of yards away, the energy dissipated. Scrapper lost his focus and looked down at his fist in shock. His foot caught on a stone and he tripped, flailing forwards and passing harmlessly by Hitmonchan, who had effortlessly stepped out of the way of the attack.

    Koa winced. It was the morning after his battle with Kitto, and they had both woken up early to train. Or rather, Scrapper woke him up to train. Kitto was already up by the time he arose and requested a training match against Scrapper. So far, Scrapper had failed to replicate yesterday's success with Mach Punch.

    As he watched, Scrapper scrambled to his feet and let out a cry of rage. He flew at Hitmonchan, throwing a series of wild jabs. They were fast, but nowhere near Mach Punch fast, and they lacked any kind of precision or power. Hitmonchan dodged every strike easily.

    "Scrapper stop!" Koa shouted.

    Scrapper whirled around, glaring angrily at him. Then, without warning, he charged.

    Koa's eyes widened and he stepped back as the Breloom raced toward him.

    "Enough," Kitto spoke. His voice was calm but easily carried from where he stood, several yards away.

    Scrapper paused midstep, the fury dying in his eyes. His hands dropped to his side and he made an apologetic rumble. Koa swallowed nervously, giving Scrapper a sympathetic look. He knew Scrapper had been upset by his loss to Hitmonchan yesterday, and that compounded with his failure to harness Mach Punch again, put him on edge. He walked over to his companion, patting him comfortingly. "It's ok, Scrapper. We'll figure it out. Then we'll beat him," he added in a lower voice. Scrapper grinned, a bit of his earlier fire returning.

    "We begin training today," Kitto said, walking up. "Your Breloom was able to use Mach Punch yesterday because he was harnessing the residual energy from his evolution."

    Koa nodded, listening intently to every word.

    "However, now that said energy is gone, he must now rely on his own ability. Which he lacks."

    Scrapper grumbled at the comment but otherwise remained attentive.

    Kitto continued. "Tell me, how do you think one learns to punch fast?"

    Koa shrugged. "I don't know. Punching faster, I guess."

    "And how do you 'throw a punch faster'?"

    Koa blinked and frowned. He hadn't thought about how one actually punched faster. "I don't know," he admitted. "I guess you just... train? And move fast?" Even as he said the words, he was aware of how ridiculous the idea sounded.

    "Punch me."

    "What?!" Koa yelped. "I'm not gonna punch you."

    "Why? Are you afraid you might hurt me?" A faint smile tugged at the corners of Kitto's mouth, his eyes glimmering.

    "Well..." Koa didn't finish the sentence.

    "Trust me, you won't," Kitto said. He didn't sound arrogant, but there was still absolute confidence in his tone.

    Koa eyed him warily. The kid was only a couple years older than him. How good could he be?

    "Go ahead-"

    Koa didn't let him finish speaking and threw a wild swing at his face. Kitto moved his head and dodged easily.


    A scowl grew on Koa's face. He began to throw punches at Kitto, who easily dodged all of them. He found himself distinctly reminded of Scrapper's earlier (futile) struggle against Hitmonchan.

    There was a sudden rush of air. Koa saw only a blur as Kitto moved his arm. Then his fist was a mere half-inch away from Koa's nose.

    Koa blinked a few times, not sure he could believe his eyes. He hadn't even seen him move.

    Slowly, Kitto lowered his fist, his intense gaze burning into Koa. "Now, why was my punch more effective than yours?"

    Koa shrugged, still at a loss for words.

    "Because speed is a lie. Remember that movie about the Rapidash who was a famous racer, but was getting ready to retire?"

    After a few moments, Koa nodded. He recalled Blake taking him to see it for his thirteenth birthday. "There was a rookie Zebstrika named Storm who was crazy fast. Rapidash was worried that he couldn't beat Storm because he was faster."

    Kitto nodded in agreement. "And who won?"

    "Rapidash, obviously! He was faster because he used his superior technique to pass Zebstrika... Ohhh..." Koa said, understanding dawning on him. "So the only way to get faster is by having a good technique?"

    Kitto grinned proudly. "That's the idea. Until your Breloom learns the proper technique, it won't be able to harness Mach Punch. He must hone his technique and control."

    Nodding, Koa glanced over to Scrapper, who had been listening with rapt attention to every word that came from Kitto's mouth. "Let's go then! Hurry up and show Scrapper the technique!"

    Kitto gave him a deadpan stare, then shook his head. "There will be no 'hurrying'."

    "Oh. Right," Koa chuckled awkwardly.

    "Scrapper, come stand over here." Kitto gestured to a spot next to him. Scrapper nodded obediently and trotted to Kitto's side. Jackie stood up a stance on his other side. "Now, watch Jackie carefully. Even though he can't use the actual move Mach Punch, he knows the idea behind it."

    Koa watched as Jackie very slowly raised its fist and began to throw a punch. At least, Koa was pretty sure it was a punch, but it was the slowest thing he'd ever seen. Hitmonchan's fist only moved a few inches a second. Scrapper, however, was enraptured. He copied every twist and movement of Hitmonchan's punch carefully.

    "Koa, get over here." Koa looked over to Kitto, who was beckoning to him. He approached hesitantly. There was an odd gleam in Kitto's eyes that put him slightly on edge. "You didn't think your Pokémon would be the only one training, did you?"

    "It's not exactly like I can use Mach Punch," he retorted. As far as he was concerned, his main job was just helping his Pokémon learn. People couldn't use Pokémon moves.

    "Your punch sucks," Kitto said flatly. "You may not be able to use Mach Punch, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to defend yourself. I'm going to teach you how to fight."

    Koa suppressed a groan. "Are you kidding me? Why? I can handle myself fine, plus I have my Pokémon."

    In a blur of motion, Kitto swung out his foot, hooking it around Koa's legs. They were yanked from under him and before he could process what was happening, he was thrown onto his back. In a flash, Kitto was on top of him, pinning him. The hard earth bit into his back and his heart pounded in his chest as he stared helplessly up at Kitto. His gaze bore into Koa and he trembled. A fire burned in Kitto's red eyes, but not a fire of rage. Instead, it was a controlled steady burn, one filled with passion and drive.

    "If I was a poacher, I could have taken all your Pokémon."

    Koa blinked up at him, still in shock.

    After a few moments, Kitto stood up, then offered his hand, pulling Koa to his feet. Koa stared at him, feeling rather subdued. After how he'd managed to rescue Clefairy, he'd felt pretty confident in his own abilities. Now that feeling had vanished.

    "Just as your Pokémon will protect you, you must protect them."

    Koa nodded solemnly, still shaken. Despite his age, Kitto had demonstrated an impressive degree of strength and control. It was scary, scarier than someone like Wake, who was big and strong. It was also cool though. He realized it was rare to find trainers who were willing to fight the way Kitto did. Rarer still were ones who would train someone they'd just met.

    Kitto grinned and slung his arm around Koa's shoulder. "Smile, Koa. By the time I'm done with you, you might be able to land a hit on me."

    At that, Koa cracked a smile.


    For the next three days, Kitto trained him mercilessly. Koa hated it. The problem wasn't that the training was hard. The problem was, it bored him senseless. Whenever they stopped, Kitto would drill them on the same thing. He would have them do a slow, controlled punch, over and over. Right hand, left hand. Right hand, left hand. And then keep practicing for nearly an hour at a time. Any time he caught either of them trying to speed up, he stopped them. It nearly drove Koa mad and, judging by the expression on Scrapper's face whenever they practiced, he felt similarly.

    On top of that, Koa had been making an effort to get back into his daily exercise routine. The only silver lining was that Kitto decided they were decently fit enough not to add anything else to their training. They did end up running into a couple trainers along the way, giving Koa a chance to exercise Anubis and the rest of the team. He purposely kept Scrapper out of the battles, however. He really wanted him to finish his training and master Mach Punch.

    His only real reprieve came during mealtimes when Kitto seemed to lighten up a bit. He was quite the cook and invented a variety of odd dishes using berries they found along the road. Koa found all his Pokémon loved the food, especially Echo. Every time Kitto started cooking, he would start drooling. Koa practically had to drive him away with a stick just so Kitto could have room to finish cooking.

    On one such night, as Echo was devouring his share of food, Koa stopped eating to watch him. He still thought about his first battle with Kitto a lot. Echo had fought valiantly, but Koa always felt like he'd let him down. If he hadn't underestimated Kitto and then gotten overconfident with Confuse Ray, he was sure he could have won. His talks with Kitto only confirmed that Hitmonchan was only slightly stronger than his own Pokémon.

    "Hey Echo," he said softly. Echo stopped eating for a moment, looking up at him. "I'm sorry about the battle with Kitto. I really failed you. I got overconfident and-"

    Echo interrupted him with a happy shree, then fluttered to his side, patting his shoulder. Then he licked Koa, his long tongue dragging across his face. "Yuck," he muttered. He wiped the saliva away and looked at Echo. His eyes were filled with a look of eagerness. He gave another carefree shriek, then returned to wolfing down his food. Koa chuckled and shook his head. "You don't care do you?" Echo made no response, simply licking his bowl clean and flopping on the ground contentedly.

    As he watched the Golbat, he got the impression that there was more to it than Echo not caring if he won or lost. It was more like... confidence? "I'll do better next time, Echo," he said quietly. Echo, however, seemed to have fallen asleep, his eyes shut and his body rising and falling steadily. Shaking his head, Koa lay back on his sleeping mat, staring up at the stars. His starter's absolute faith in him was pleasantly comforting.

    One morning, during his usual (boring) training, he stopped to watch Scrapper. Instead of the slow punches, he saw Jackie teaching him something else. Jackie would do a flick of his shoulder, tossing his arm forward, and Scrapper would mimic the motion.

    "How come Scrapper doesn't have to do these ridiculous punches?" Koa asked.

    Kitto, who had been practicing on his own, quirked an eyebrow and regarded Koa. "Scrapper knows how to throw a punch," he said simply.

    Koa frowned. "You're saying I can't punch?" He asked.

    "Can you?" Kitto asked.

    Koa opened his mouth to reply, then recalled his rather pathetic attempt at attacking boy a few days ago. He scowled, though he wasn't truly upset. He trusted Kitto had a plan for all this practice, even if it was boring.

    Kitto grinned at him. "Not to mention, Scrapper is a Pokémon. He already possesses great strength. You on the other hand... not so much." He gave Koa a mocking once over.

    "Hey!" Koa snapped, pretending to be hurt. He gave a wry grin and shook his head. Kitto's wit was a pleasant reprieve from some of the other trainers he'd met. He liked it. Turning his thoughts back to his training, he resumed his punches. There would be a payoff soon, he was sure of it.


    It wasn't until the dawn of the fifth day that something changed. Koa had done his usual morning routine and a brief jog then had breakfast. Kitto had drilled him on his punches again, much to his annoyance. His patience was wearing thin, but he refused to cave. He was still practicing when Kitto approached.

    "That's enough for now. Come here."

    With a grateful sigh, Koa let his arms fall to his sides. The practice had made his arms ache terribly the first few days, but by now it had faded. "Are we done?" he asked, trying not to sound too eager.

    Kitto stopped a few feet in front of him and held out his hand, his palm first. "Strike my palm."

    Koa raised his eyebrows. "You mean like... a real punch? Not a slow... 'thing'?"

    Kitto's eye twitched upon hearing him say 'thing'. "Yes, as fast as you can."

    A slow grin spread across Koa's face. Finally! Finally, the day had come when he didn't have to do those ridiculous slow punches. Mustering up all his excitement and anger, he zeroed in on Kitto's palm and threw a punch.

    His fist connected solidly, forcing Kitto's arm back slightly. But what really shocked Koa was that he barely felt himself throw the punch. His fist had glided through the air so... fluidly. So easily.

    A hint of grin traced Kitto's face. "Again."

    Grinning madly, Koa threw another punch, this time with his left hand. Compared to his earlier wild strikes at Kitto, this was easy. He knew exactly how to throw the punch, and where it would land. He threw several more, reveling in his newfound speed.

    Finally, Kitto put his hands down. "Now you're learning. And you're ready. Call Scrapper over."

    Koa's eyes lit up and his heart started to beat faster. "Scrapper! Come here!"

    Scrapper, who had been practicing his slow punches with Jackie, looked up. When he saw Koa's expression, his eyes lit up and he bounded over. Kitto took up a spot several feet away, facing Koa, as if it were a battle.

    Koa didn't even have to ask - he knew it was time. His heart beat even faster and he could feel his blood pumping. "Ready, Scrapper?"

    Scrapper glanced back at him, grinning dangerously.

    "Now Scrapper, use Mach Punch!" He shouted, throwing his fist as he spoke.

    With a joyous cry, Scrapper charged across the field, a white glow surrounding his fist. A mere few yards away from Jackie, he threw his fist. The attack was so fast, Koa couldn't even see it. It struck Jackie in the chest, sending him sliding backward.

    Scrapper threw his head back and let out a loud cry of triumph.

    Koa shouted with him, pumping his fist in the air. "Yes! We did it Scrapper!" He rushed over to Scrapper, giving him a fist bump, then grabbing him into a hug. "You learned Mach Punch." He stopped his victory dance long enough to look at Kitto, who watched their display with a smirk of amusement. He patted Scrapper on the head, then walked over to Kitto.

    "Thank you," he said earnestly, holding out his hand.

    "Someone had to keep you from looking like a fool," Kitto said good-naturedly, shaking Koa's hand.


    With Scrappers Mach Punch training complete, Koa found they were able to pick up the pace. Nearly a week had passed since he'd left Pastoria, but in the last two days, they'd made good progress. The east-west portion of Route 212 lay behind them, and now they only needed to head straight north to reach Hearthome. By Koa's estimate, they would be at the Pokémon Mansion in just a couple days' time. He wondered if he'd run into Reina and Jeremy again. The other upside to finishing the Mach Punch training was that Kitto started to show him some actual combat techniques. Nothing too complicated, mostly some basic blocks and strikes, but they were a welcome change.

    That afternoon, they stopped for lunch in the shade of some trees by the road. A small stream provided some fresh water, and Echo found a grove of ripe Pecha berries. Kitto put it together with some sandwiches, creating a surprisingly delicious meal. As they enjoyed it, Koa watched Kitto and Jackie thoughtfully. In all the time he'd traveled with Kitto, he'd never seen him with another Pokémon or other pokeballs. Up until now, he'd been so focused on training, he hadn't thought much of it. Now, however, it made him curious.

    "How long have you been on your journey?" he asked.

    "Three years," Kitto replied. "I started in Johto, actually, then traveled to Kanto for a time. Then I decided to come here to train. I plan to challenge Maylene at some point."

    "Wow... so you've been with Hitmonchan for three years..." That explained how in sync they were, he supposed.

    Kitto chuckled and grinned. Jackie threw back his head, laughing as well. "Jackie and I have only been training together for two years."

    Koa stared at him. His mind whirled, trying to calculate. "So what other Pokémon do you have then?"

    "Just Jackie," he said, shrugging.

    "But that's impossible! What did you do for your first year as a trainer?"

    Kitto gave him a dubious look. "I trained," he said flatly.

    "Trained what?"

    "My body, obviously," Kitto said with a grin. He gave Koa a once over. "You should try it."

    Koa rolled his eyes, ignoring the comment. He knew by now that Kitto was really only kidding. Mostly. Kitto continued to baffle him, however. What sort of trainer started their journey without any Pokémon? "What did you do the whole time then?"

    "I fought a lot, learned a lot. I met Jackie in Johto. We've been working together ever since, focusing on improving our technique and skill." Kitto stood up, brushing his pants off. He started to put away the lunch materials.

    Koa watched him for several seconds, still baffled. The guy was an enigma, that was for sure. But then, he was pretty cool. He wasn't sure how long it would have taken Scrapper to learn Mach Punch on his own. With a shrug, he stood up and started helping him pack. Regardless of how odd Kitto was, he was glad to be traveling with him.


    A cool breeze blew, ruffling Koa's hair and providing a pleasant relief from the hot sun. Hearthome city lay only about a day's walk away which meant they could reach it by the time the sunset. Koa was thoroughly looking forward to it since it meant his battle against Fantina would be soon. With the day being as pleasant as it was, he'd let all his Pokémon out of their pokeballs, and they walked alongside him.

    Echo swooped overhead, though at one point he'd disappeared for several minutes and come back covered in honey. Leave it to him to find what was likely one of the only honey trees on Route 212. Ahead, Koa could already spot the familiar rooftop of the Pokémon Mansion. He smiled, remembering the night he'd spent there and the kindness of Reina and Jeremy. Maybe he'd run into them again. That'd be nice.

    He broke into a run, leaving Kitto behind and jogging down the hill towards the mansion. When he reached the gates, they were shut, but he peered through them, wondering if the pair were walking in the gardens. Unfortunately, everything seemed quiet. He sighed and turned away. As much as he wanted to catch up, he also didn't want to tarry.

    "Oh look, it's the stray," a harsh masculine voice said.

    Koa scowled and whirled towards the voice.

    Liam stood a short distance away, one hand in his pocket and staring disgustedly at Koa. His face was pressed into a condescending scowl and he eyed Koa's team. "Is that your team? It's a miracle you won even a single badge."

    Anger burned in Koa and he clenched his fists. His Pokémon let out varying angry growls, screeches and snarls. "Big talk coming from someone who doesn't have any," Koa retorted.

    Liam sniffed. "Like I said, I don't need any." His gaze traveled over Koa's team again, settling on Scrapper. Another burst of rage flared in Koa, and he glanced at Scrapper. The Breloom was glaring at Liam, his gaze filled with anger and determination. A low growl rumbled in his throat. The look told him all he needed to. Liam had been Scrapper's previous owner.

    "So, you were the trainer who took my Shroomish," Liam said. "Or Breloom, now I suppose."

    "You abandoned him!" Koa shouted. Unable to contain himself, he stormed up to Liam, standing inches away from his face.

    Liam took a step back, his eyes widening slightly. "Relax, stray. I didn't 'abandon' him. I just had the help take me out to the marsh. Then I left him there and I told him I'd come back for him when he was stronger. That's all," he said, shrugging casually.

    "You're his trainer!" Koa snapped, taking another step towards Liam. "You are supposed to help him get stronger! I bet you weren't even planning and going back for him!"

    Liam shrugged nonchalantly. "He's stronger now though, isn't he?" He turned to address Scrapper, who was glaring at him, eyes blazing in anger. He gave the Breloom a sickeningly fake smile. "You can rejoin my team now."

    Scrapper gave an angry cry and shook his head. Liam's face darkened. "You're still my Pokémon." He looked up at Koa, a strange shine to his eyes. "Give me back my Breloom."

    "He's not yours," Koa snapped.

    "I'll give you 20,000poke for him."

    "No!" Koa said. "He's my Pokémon! I'm not selling him!"

    "Fine then. If you're so good, battle me. My best Pokémon against whatever you want to use. If I win, you give me back my Pokémon. If you win, then you can keep him." Liam grinned smugly.

    Koa opened his mouth to decline, then stopped. Liam was a terrible trainer. He'd seen Liam's Pokémon, too. They were strong, but he didn't know anything about how to use them. Defeating him would be easy. "Fine. You're on."

    Liam grinned. "Perfect. Why don't we battle right here? It shouldn't take me long to defeat you."

    Koa snorted. "Right. Because you won so easily last time."

    Liam simply smiled, unfazed. "One-on-one again?"

    "Sure," Koa snapped.

    Liam smiled again, then turned around and started to walk a short distance away.

    Koa returned his Pokémon and turned around, ready to get into position for the battle, and almost collided with Kitto, who stood a few feet behind him.

    "What are you doing?" Kitto asked.

    "That idiot over there-" Koa inclined his head towards Liam, who was watching impatiently a good distance away "- used to be Scrappers trainer. He just abandoned him in the marsh and told him he'd come back! Now he claims he wants -"

    Kitto held out his hand to stop Koa's rant. "No, I heard everything. I mean, what are you doing? Do you really plan on giving Scrapper back if you lose?"

    "I won't lose! I beat that guy before and I can do it again."

    Kitto frowned. Koa pushed past him and took up a spot a good distance away, facing Liam. Scrapper stood behind him, bristling with anger.

    "Shall I send out my Pokémon first? Or would you care for the honors?" Liam called, his tone haughty.

    Koa bristled. "How about at the same time?" he snapped. After his previous battle with Liam's Monferno, plus his lack of badges, he was beyond certain that he could handle any of Liam's Pokémon.

    Liam reached into his pocket and took out a Pokéball. Koa selected Rascal's Pokéball without hesitation. Of all his Pokémon, she easily possessed the most raw power. Plus, she was tough enough to take anything Liam could throw out, even Blissey. Koa tossed out her Pokéball, Liam throwing his at nearly the same time.

    In a splash of light, Rascal emerged onto the field with an eager roar. Almost simultaneously, Liam's Pokémon appeared.

    A louder roar split the air. A literal chill spread across the area as a hulking, absolute beast of an Abomasnow took the field. It easily stood a foot taller than any Abomasnow Koa had ever seen. Fear washed over him and he instinctively took a step back. Rascal's eyes nearly popped out of her head at the sight of her opponent, and she took a step back as well. No no no... Panic began to consume him. Abomasnow exuded a terrifying amount of power, way beyond Rascal's. When had Liam gotten his hand on one of those? How? Forget that though, he couldn't hope to beat that thing, even if he used all of his Pokémon. Even Anubis, with his fire attacks, would be pulverized. Something cold landed on Koa's face, and he looked up. A dark gray cloud had covered their battlefield, and tiny hailstones were beginning to pelt the field. Shoot. Snow Warning. Abomasnow's ability. It started a hailstorm when it entered the field.

    "Well, stray? Aren't you going to call an attack?" Liam called.

    Koa mustered up all his strength, pushing his fear aside. He had to at least try. "Rascal, Ancient Power." His voice cracked slightly even as he spoke the command. Rascal's eyes narrowed and she roared. A silver sphere of stone formed in front of her jaws, and she spat the rock at Abomasnow.

    "Wood Hammer," Liam said calmly.

    Abomasnow, however, didn't seem to care what Liam said. It raised one of its arms, an icy blue glow surrounding it. With a mighty swing, it shattered the Ancient Power with Ice Punch.

    A chunk of hail the size of a softball dropped from the sky, hitting Rascal on the head. She grunted in pain, but shook it off.

    "Bite!" Koa cried desperately. Her Strong Jaw meant that Bite might very well be his best chance. Tyrunt charged across the field, jaws open wide.


    Abomasnow's green fists glowed, then two tendrils of grass sprouted from the earth, forming a knot a few feet in front of Tyrunt. Grass Knot.

    "Jump, Rascal!" Koa shouted in a panic. Rascal launched herself into the air, narrowly dodging Grass Knot. As soon as she landed, another set of tendrils wrapped around her legs, tripping her up and sending her crashing to the ground. Without any command from Liam, Abomasnow charged across the field, its arm raised. A green glow extended from its arm, forming into a hammer-like shape. With a roar, it smashed its Grass Hammer straight down onto Rascal.

    "No!" he screamed. Dust erupted from around Rascal's position, clouding Koa's view. But he didn't need to see Rascal to know what happened. As the dust settled, he saw a small crater around Rascal's unconscious form. Stunned, he took out her Pokéball and returned her. He quickly returned Scrapper as well. Sick dread filled him as he looked across the battlefield. Liam returned Abomasnow, and the hail clouds faded. The sunlight returned, but Koa couldn't shake the chill.

    In a daze, he watched as Liam strode across the battlefield towards him. The sick feeling in the pit of his stomach grew as Liam approached. Unconsciously, his hand gripped Scrapper's Pokéball tighter. There was absolutely no way he was giving Scrapper back, he decided. What happened with Liam wasn't even a real battle. Abomasnow had ignored all of Liam's commands.

    "Give it to me," Liam snapped, his gaze cold.

    Koa drew his hand back. "No."

    Liam lunged for Scrapper's Pokéball, trying to snatch it from his grasp.

    White-hot rage consumed Koa. He punched Liam in the face, sending him reeling backward. His eyes widened and his face contorted with rage. Then he charged. Koa was taken by surprise as Liam tackled him to the ground, wildly scrambling for Scrapper's Pokéball. "Give it to me!" he screamed.

    Koa kicked him away and scrambled backward, panting. "You cheated! That Abomasnow didn't even listen to your attacks!" He clutched Scrapper's Pokéball tighter. "I'm not giving him back. Period." He stared Liam down.

    Liam stood up, his fists clenched. Koa got to his feet as well, ready to fight. No way was he letting this bratty snob take his Pokémon-

    "What on earth is going on?" A familiar voice to Koa's left called.

    Koa glanced towards the Mansion to see Jeremy racing towards them. He stopped several feet away, panting slightly. He glanced between Koa and Liam, then frowned. "What is going on, Liam?" he said, his voice tight.

    Koa bit his tongue as he waited for Liam's reply.

    Liam shot him a dirty look before speaking. "I was just having a battle. He agreed that if I beat him in a battle, he would trade Shroomish... I mean, Breloom, back to me. I beat him fair and square, but he's refusing to give Breloom back."

    Jeremy frowned deeper, staring at Liam for several seconds. "And what about you, Koamaru. Is this true?"

    Koa stared at Jeremy. "We did agree that I would trade my Breloom back if he beat me," he said, his voice tense. "He said he would use his best against whatever Pokémon I wanted." His anger grew. "But I've seen Liam's Pokémon before! He used some kind of crazy-"

    "I won! That's all that matters," Liam snapped. Jeremy shot him a sharp look and he shut his mouth.

    "Please go on, Koa."

    "He used a gigantic Abomasnow! He never had one when I saw his Pokémon before, and it didn't even listen to any of his commands. It wasn't a real battle."

    "Hmm..." Jeremy said, tapping his chin. "Well, Liam, the agreement was that you would use your best Pokémon against Koa's, correct?"

    Liam nodded, still scowling.

    "And you agreed to this, right Koa?"

    Koa nodded hesitantly.

    "Well, Liam, it would seem that you won the bet..."

    Koa's jaw dropped and he started to protest, but Jeremy held up his hand. "However, I do believe that Abomasnow belongs to your father. Not you. And seeing as how the agreement was your best vs Koamaru, you violated the bet."

    A slow smile began to creep across Koa's face. Liam paled, then frowned. "Hmph! Well fine, maybe I did use father's Pokémon. But I could still take you in a battle," he said, crossing his arms.

    "I'll take you up on that," Koa replied. "My Pokémon could use a light workout."

    "You just got lucky last time is all."

    Jeremy stepped between them. "It seems a rematch is in order. Liam, you will battle Koa again, this time with one of your own Pokémon. However, regardless of the outcome, you will not be taking Breloom back." He nodded his head towards Scrapper. "It is clear to me that Breloom has made his choice of trainer."

    This made Liam scowl even more. "Well, whatever. I'll still prove who has better Pokémon. The only way to win a battle is with a strong Pokémon."

    "That is enough. A battle will decide who is correct," Jeremy said calmly.

    Once more, Koa took a position across from Liam. Jeremy stood to the side, watching with narrowed eyes.

    "Try this on for size," Liam said. He lazily tossed a Pokéball onto the field, revealing a Kadabra.

    Koa glanced back, spotting Kitto and Jackie standing several yards away. Even from where he stood, he could see the wry grin on Kitto's face. After all his time training, he felt more than prepared. Turning back to Liam, he tossed out the familiar black and gold Pokéball almost without thinking. Echo emerged onto the field and shrieked.

    "Ha!" Liam chuckled. "A Golbat? A weak Pokémon for a weak trainer."

    Koa ignored the comment. He'd let Echo do the talking for him. "You can go first," he called.

    "Psybeam." Kadabra's eyes glowed, and with a wave of its spoon, a thin beam of psychic energy streamed from its hands, straight at Echo.

    "Dodge," Koa said, giving the command almost as soon as Liam gave his.

    Echo spun his body sideways and the Psybeam passed by him, narrowly missing him. Koa frowned. Regardless of Liam's own skill, Kadabra was clearly no slouch. He'd have to be careful. Kadabra's tended to be special fighters, which meant he needed to wait for a chance to close the distance and strike. He really wanted to get in a good hit with Poison Fang early, whittle Kadabra down quickly.

    "Wing Attack. Fly erratically and confuse it." Echo flitted through the air, his wings glowing with energy. As he darted back and forth, Kadabra watched it with narrowed eyes, trying to track its trajectory.

    "Psybeam again. Wait til it's close."

    Koa tensed. There was little he could do at the moment, except trust Echo's flight skills.

    Echo dipped and weaved through the air quickly, approaching Kadabra. When it was barely a yard away, Kadabra's eyes glowed and it fired Psybeam from its spoon. The beam hit one of Echo's wings, but he spun with the hit, slamming his other wing into Kadabra. It smacked into the ground, briefly stunned. "Poison Fang."

    In a graceful switch, Echo's wings ceased to glow and he shrieked as his fangs turned a wicked purple. Kadabra opened its eyes just in time to see Golbat's jaws close around its head.

    "Shake it off! Flash!" Liam snapped.

    Koa couldn't resist a grin at the irritation in the boy's tone.

    Kadabra cried out and flailed, shaking itself free of Echo. It flicked its spoon and emitted a blinding blast of light at Echo before he could dodge. Not that Koa had any intention of dodging Flash. A memory of his fight with Kitto resurfaced, and an idea came to him.

    "Fake it, Echo," he said softly. He just hoped Echo understood his intentions. He watched as the Golbat fluttered around Kadabra, eyes shut tightly and apparently utterly dazed and blind. Perfect.

    "Hah! Thunder Punch," Liam called.

    Koa almost laughed at his good fortune. He was sure Echo felt a sense of glee as well. In some small way, this would be retribution for his loss to Jackie.

    Kadabra raised one of its small hands as electricity cloaked it. With a cry, it leaped at the seemingly blinded Golbat. Just as the move was about to collide with Echo, Koa gave his command.


    Liam's eyes went wide as Echo neatly dodged Thunder Punch and sank black jaws into Kadabra's side. Black sparks of dark energy crackled over its body. With a muffled screech, Echo dived to the ground, slamming Kadabra into the floor and creating a small crater. A moment later, Echo rose into the air, eyes glinting as he left behind the unconscious body of Kadabra.

    "That's not possible!" Liam snapped, returning Kadabra. "I had the advantage!"

    Echo flew over and landed in front of Koa, his body puffed up in pride. "Thanks, Echo. You wrecked him." He patted Echo on the head and he let out a happy squeak. Returning him, he glanced up at Liam, who was still fuming. "Well... well whatever... I... Hmph." His face flushed bright red from shame and embarrassment. Without saying another word, he turned his nose up and walked away.

    Once he'd gone, Jeremy turned to Koa. "Well Koamaru, that was very impressive. I'd expect nothing less from a trainer like you."

    "Thanks. I'm glad you showed up though." He had no idea what he might have done to Liam if he'd kept trying to take Scrapper.

    "As am I," Jeremy said, chuckling. "I feel as though I should apologize for Liam. He has grown quite prideful with all his Pokémon. Though it is quite unfounded, considering he hardly trains them. He usually just sends them off to various other trainers, who do all the work for him."

    "Well that explains a lot," Koa muttered.

    "And who is your friend?" Jeremy asked, motioning to Kitto.

    Kitto strode over and held out his hand. "The name's Kitto."

    "My name is Jeremy." He glanced at Jackie, who stood by Kitto's side. "This is your partner?"

    "I consider him to be more of a brother, actually," Kitto corrected.

    Jeremy nodded thoughtfully. "I like that. I've always said that the deeper a bond with one's Pokémon, the stronger they are. That, and good training, of course."

    Kitto grinned widely. "Exactly!" He glanced at Koa, shooting him a sideways smirk. "This guy gets it. You should pay attention."

    Koa rolled his eyes playfully. "I beat him when we first battled though."

    "Oh ho ho," Jeremy said, wagging his finger. "That was just my training Pokémon. Maybe when you get 8 badges, you can come back and fight my real team."

    "Jackie and I would be honored to face you as well someday," Kitto said, a fire glowing in his eyes. "I want to face your strongest Pokémon, one on one. An all-out battle!"

    Jeremy smiled. "Come back when you feel ready then. Perhaps you and Kitto can fight my wife and I."

    Koa's eyes lit up. "Sure!"

    "Then I look forward to your return," Jeremy said. "I assume you are on your way to Hearthome?"

    Koa nodded. "I'm hoping Fantina is back by now."

    Jeremy rolled his eyes. "I hope so, for your sake. I swear she spends more time out of her gym than in it."

    A strange scowl spread across Kitto's face, and he shared a glance with Jackie, who grunted, anger burning in his gaze.

    "Well, you'd best be on your way. If you hurry, you can still make it to Hearthome before nightfall."

    Bidding Jeremy farewell, Koa headed back for the road, Kitto by his side. His thoughts remained at the mansion however, wondering what sort of Pokémon Reina and Jeremy had.

    "Do you really want to go back and challenge them?" Koa asked. The thought of having another tag battle against the couple, with Kitto as his partner, excited him terribly.

    Kitto nodded firmly. "Of course!" He put his arm around Koa, a gesture that surprised him, though it wasn't unwelcome. "It's been an honor to travel with someone like you, and it would be an even greater honor to fight alongside you."

    "Really?" Koa blurted. "I mean.. Thanks, I guess? Why though?"

    "You punched that kid in the face! It was incredible."

    At that, Koa couldn't resist a laugh. "Because I punched someone in the face?"

    Kitto shook his head. His voice grew slightly more serious. "Because you stood up for your Pokémon. I've met a lot of trainers, and not all of them are willing to fight for their Pokémon like that. It shows you care."

    Koa nodded thoughtfully, unsure how to reply. He'd never given it any thought. In the moment, all he could think of was keeping Scrapper safe.

    They walked in silence for a few minutes, leaving Koa lost in thought. "So what's next after Hearthome?" he asked finally.

    "Jackie and I have one goal." A familiar intensity rose in Kitto's voice. "To travel and challenge every trainer's strongest Pokémon and see who is the best. And one day, defeat Cynthia and Garchomp."

    Koa's jaw dropped. "Seriously? That thing is crazy strong though! It's never been defeated in combat."

    Kitto grinned again. "Then Jackie and I will be the first."

    Jackie grunted in approval and punched his fists together as if already imagining the battle.

    Koa stared at them with a sense of awe. He'd heard plenty of trainers who longed to win the League conference and eventually beat Cynthia. But after seeing how Kitto and Jackie fought, he supposed that if anyone could do it, it would be him. When that day came, he vowed he would be there to see it.

    Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

    Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

    Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

    Anubis (Male Houndour) {Ability: Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

    Scrapper (Male Breloom) {Ability: Effect Spore} - Seed Bomb, Mach Punch, Stun Spore, Giga Drain

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