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Emerald Knights: A Pokémon Sword Story Chapter 12

Chapter 12: On the Way to Stow-on-Side

Emerald and Sapphire felt as if they could finally relax.

After Tybo had carried them the rest of the way through the Wild Area, the twins made their way into Hammerlocke City as fast as possible. They showed their badges to the man at the gate and he let them through. He along with all other Macro Cosmos employees had been made aware of Ruby's nationwide warning of Team Royal and was instructed to keep a look out for them so he was happy to let the twins get into Hammerlocke quickly. With the bustling crowd of the city, plus the fact it was home to Galar's strongest Gym Leader, it would be suicide for Team Royal to try kidnapping them again here. Not only were there too many witnesses that would spot them immediately, but Raihan would be far too strong for any of them to deal with. Paul and Ashley might also be in the city too, so that would be extra protection.

Emerald and Sapphire decided the next course of action was to take a break in the local Pokémon Centre for a while before setting off for Stow-on-Side. With two Gym Leaders, Allister and Bea, running the local Gym there, Team Royal would be foolish to try targeting them in Stow-on-Side too. Emerald wondered if the crooks would be crazy enough to try vandalizing the uncovered statues of Zacian and Zamazenta. Knowing them, Team Royal would see the statues as everything that was wrong in what they believed in and try to destroy them. Sapphire disagreed. Not even Team Royal would be stupid enough to try anything when Stow-on-Side was home to Galar's Karate Master and a child that could speak to ghosts.

While at the Pokémon Centre, the twins also grabbed some much needed lunch. They were both ready for it after the events of the morning and luckily for them, all Pokémon Centres sold food for any trainers visiting at the time. They also served Pokémon food if any trainers needed to restock on food for their Pokémon so the twins bought some tins to replenish their supplies. After they'd eaten, Emerald brought Vixey and Gemstone out of their Pokéballs. The fox and starfish Pokémon materialized before her and looked up at her curiously. They knew that she'd been a victim of an attempted abduction so they wondered what Emerald needed them for. Did they need to protect her from Team Royal at the moment?

"Hi you two! I've got something for you." Emerald said sweetly.

She reached into her backpack and showed her Pokémon the Fire and Water stones that she'd found back in the Wild Area. Gemstone leaned in closer, clearly interested in the fact Emerald had found a Water Stone. Vixey sniffed at the Fire Stone.

"You both know what these stones will do to you, don't you?" Emerald asked.

"Why yes, I do." Vixey replied, "I'll evolve into a Ninetales if you use that on me, and I believe the Water Stone will evolve Gemstone into a Starmie."

Gemstone nodded to confirm what she said.

"I found these on our way out of the Wild Area." Emerald explained, "After Team Royal's abduction attempts earlier, I want to make all my Pokémon stronger and have them evolve as soon as possible. I'll feel much safer knowing that Team Royal won't get the drop on me again with fully evolved Pokémon. I have these stones so I can evolve you two! That is…if you want me to." she added.

As much as Emerald wanted her Pokémon to evolve and become stronger, she was not in any way going to force it on them. She didn't believe in forcing a Pokémon to evolve and only accepted them evolving naturally as they trained or if they wanted to. She'd heard stories of Pokémon that grew to hate their trainers because they'd forced them to become something they never wanted to and she didn't want that to happen for herself.

Gemstone seemed very eager to evolve. Emerald imagined it was still feeling down about losing the Gym Battle back in Motostoke Stadium so it needed very little prompting in evolving. It wanted to make up for its loss by evolving and becoming stronger. Vixey thought for a moment as she knew evolving was something that required some careful thought as once she evolved, there was no going back. In the end, Vixey decided that she should evolve. She was still grateful to Emerald for saving her life a few days ago so she thought that by evolving, she could return the favour by being more powerful in order to keep her safe from criminals that might try to take another shot at her. Both Pokémon touched the stones. It was all they needed to tell Emerald that their minds had been made up.

The twins watched as the fiery fox and beautiful starfish Pokémon began to change into their evolved forms as a result of touching the stones. It never ceased to amaze them on what a magical sight it was to watch Pokémon evolve thanks to a stone they touched. Even some of the most top-notch Pokémon Professors couldn't really explain how it worked. It really was like magic in a way. Seconds later, Vixey and Gemstone completed their transformation. No longer did a Vulpix and Staryu stand before their trainer. Now a Ninetales and a Starmie stood where they once were.

Vixey looked as radiant and as glamorous as any other Ninetales with her huge bushy namesakes, glossy yellow fur and graceful appearance. Gemstone looked like two starfish stuck together with the other star on its back able to spin around freely. The gem in its centre was much bigger and sparkled like uncovered treasure in a pirate's chest. Gemstone had also changed colour from brown to purple. Staryu were already considered pretty looking Pokémon, but Starmie were considered even more beautiful by comparison. They were also incredibly fast Pokémon, able to out speed many opponents in battle and also in the water. Emerald hugged her newly evolved Pokémon happily.

"You both look amazing! I'm glad you wanted to evolve!" she cried gleefully.

"Anything to help in keeping our trainer safe." Vixey said, her voice much deeper than the soft, silky voice she spoke with as a Vulpix, "This new body feels incredible! My fur looks so beautiful and I feel like I could keep a fire burning for days on end!"

"I know Kabu would love to see you as you are now." Emerald said, beaming, "How do you feel Gemstone?"

Gemstone just jumped up and did a happy spin in the air, getting a feel of its new form. It seemed that even evolution didn't change its mute nature. As Gemstone spun, the centre gem in its body sparkled in the lights of the Pokémon Centre, creating dancing sparkling reflections on the walls and floor. Some of the people in the centre watched with awe. They had to agree that this girl had got herself a very beautiful Starmie.

"Gemstone's so shiny!" Sapphire cried excitedly, "And it seems so happy too! I bet Gemstone won't lose any other Gym Battle from now on!"

"Given Starmie are half-Psychic type, I'm going to use Gemstone in my Gym Battle with Bea." Emerald confirmed, "Maybe we can give Gemstone its little "redemption" moment, if you know what I mean."

"Winning against Bea would be like its big comeback moment after losing to Kabu." Sapphire concurred, "That'd be sweet honestly and would really help Gemstone's confidence."

Gemstone nodded. It was keen to prove that now it had evolved, it wouldn't be such a pushover again. As Emerald stroked Vixey's head, Sapphire looked at her Rotom phone. It was just after two o'clock. That gave them the rest of the afternoon to get some extra training in. They would spend the rest of the day preparing for the next Gym battle and then the next morning, they'd go into the Stow-on-Side Stadium first thing and get their Fighting Badges.

"If you're ready Em, we can get going to Stow-on-Side." Sapphire offered, "The way there ought to have plenty of opportunities for us to give our Pokémon some extra training for our next Gym."

"I'm up for it!" Emerald said eagerly, "I know who I want to evolve so I'll change my team up to get them ready for training."

She took out her Box Link device and used it to send some of her Pokémon over to Magnolia and exchange them for others. She had chosen Percival, Steelclaw, Slasher, Mei-Mei and Marinette. She had kept Kerchak for she wanted to evolve him as well. Now she had her team ready, the two sisters left the Pokémon Centre together. Staying true to Ruby's warning, they made sure to have at least one Pokémon out to keep guard at all times. Emerald had chosen Kerchak again while Sapphire had brought James Pond out. She wanted to evolve him into an Inteleon at some point so she'd chosen to have him on her person. She also had Spike, Zao, Bolt, Phantom and Starfire with her. Emerald and Sapphire headed on through Hammerlocke City together, Kerchak and James staying very close to them. As they headed on towards Route 6, they never saw that Raihan had spotted them from his Gym and was watching them go. Ruby had passed on the news to all the Gym Leaders in Galar to keep a close watch on her sisters if they happened to be in their towns or cities and he had decided to watch them until they left Hammerlocke. From his Gym, he had a good view of the city and could see the sisters together. Emerald's trademark hat especially made her stand-out from the crowd, as did Sapphire's blue hair so he couldn't miss them. He had an Ultra Ball in his hands already. If he saw so much as anyone taking too much of an interest in the sisters, he'd send his Flygon out to protect them. Team Royal wouldn't terrorize any civilians or try anything in HIS city!

But nothing happened. The twins left Hammerlocke and made their way towards Route 6. Nobody took any interest aside from the occasional passer-by recognizing them from the previous Gym Battles and wishing them luck in the other Gyms. Nobody tried to abduct them. Raihan breathed a sigh of relief and put his Ultra Ball back on his belt. Now he could relax and let Bea and Allister keep watch over them once they made it to Stow-on-Side.


Emerald and Sapphire had gone through the crowd with their eyes never once staying still. They watched everyone they walked by, treating them as if any one of them could be a Team Royal member waiting to pounce. Once they'd left the city, they felt more relaxed. Route 6 was a series of narrow walkways to Stow-on-Side. It'd be harder for anyone to try and capture them here, especially as they could risk stumbling and falling. They also had their Pokémon by their side. They were more than safe. Emerald couldn't help but think that the reddish brown cliffs and the yellow grasses gave Route 6 its own kind of beauty. It was said that sunsets around Route 6 and Stow-on-Side were some of the most beautiful in Galar. Given the time now, they'd be around to see them. Emerald and Sapphire picked a good spot to carry out some training.

"OK, we'll start with you two first as you're already out." Emerald declared, "We'll get you two to become a Rillaboom and an Inteleon in no time!"

"You two could even have a potential rematch if you want." Sapphire added, thinking back to the last time the two had battled each other.

"I like the sound of that." Kerchak said, twirling his twin sticks in his paws, "I've been wanting a rematch for a while now!"

"I haven't had much action in a while so I'm ready for anything." James purred.

"Great!" Emerald cried excitedly, "Let's get going!"

Kerchak and James took up their positions and prepared to fight. Emerald and Sapphire stood behind their Pokémon, waiting to give their first orders. But before the battle could start, Emerald had one more thing on her mind.

"Say Sapph, how do you think Ruby's doing right now?" she wondered.

"I imagine she's ready for that date with Hop later today." Sapphire said casually, "I wouldn't be surprise if those two lovebirds are already on the phone to each other now…"


Sapphire's guess couldn't have been more accurate if she'd been a master telepath.

After dropping Edward and Richard off at the police station in Wyndon City, Ruby had had Bryce fly her over back to Postwick Town. The poor girl had never been more ready for a rest in her life. The stress of trying to track down Team Royal and the fact her sisters had nearly been kidnapped was making her feel drained, as if she was a bathtub that had sprung a leak and all the water in her was completely gone. Had she known being the Champion of Galar would be this exhausting, she might've reconsidered her battle with Leon and let him win and keep his title instead! She yawned loudly as she hopped off of Bryce's back the moment he touched down on the ground. The loyal Charizard noticed and couldn't help giggling.

"I think you're ready for a long nap." he said innocently.

"Believe me Bryce, I could probably sleep for the rest of the day with how worn out I feel!" Ruby sighed tiredly, "It's not even the middle of the afternoon yet and I feel as if the day's been too much for me."

"At least your evening with Hop will be just the thing you need to cool off." Bryce said softly, "I'll be honest and say that I've been wondering how long it'd be before you two started dating."

"We did promise we'd take it slow before considering a serious relationship." Ruby explained, "Romance isn't something we can rush into, especially at our ages. Given how things are going, I feel I'm ready to take the next step. I hope Hop is as well."

She hugged herself and smiled softly despite how tired she felt.

"I'm kinda nervous, honestly." she said meekly, "I've never considered dating before. I…I just hope it goes well for us both." the Champion murmured.

"You ask me, you two will have a night to remember for all the right reasons!" Bryce declared, "I think you should at least get some sleep before tonight so you're not too tired for the date."

"Oh I will. Once I've been to Hop's house and asked him about tonight, I'll come back home and have a nap for the rest of the afternoon." Ruby insisted, "I wonder if he's home…"

She returned Bryce to his Pokéball and walked up to Hop's front door. She knocked on it and a moment later, Judy answered it. The woman's face lit up with delight.

"Hello Ruby! I wasn't expecting you to visit anytime soon!" she said cheerfully, "How have things been since your big announcement this morning?"

"We've managed to arrest two more members of Team Royal." Ruby explained, "But I'd rather not talk about that. Is Hop in?"

"Yes, he's just up in his room." Judy replied, "He's been hoping you'd call by at some point."

"That's great, thank you." Ruby said graciously, "I'll go see him right away."

The silver-haired teen walked into the house and made her way upstairs to Hop's room. She had fond memories of the times she and her sisters he joined Hop in his room to play video-games together or watch films whenever they visited him. It seemed her best friend was as untidy as ever for as she reached the top of the stairs, Ruby saw that his door was open a little. Hop always seemed to leave it open ajar for some reason. She walked in and got a big surprise in return.

Hop was standing in the middle of his room with a pair of weights in each hand. They belonged to Leon and he'd said Hope could use them for exercise if he wished. It seemed Hop had been working out quite a lot for he had taken his shirt off to cool down. Ruby couldn't help herself staring at his bare chest and abs as he worked out, his muscles bulging as he lifted the weights. She hadn't meant to see him like this and it was hard for her to keep her eyes away. Her friend had a good body and he definitely knew how to take care of it! Hop turned in her direction and gasped, surprised that he had a visitor. He put the weights down and picked a towel up to wipe his forehead.

"Hey Ruby! Heh, heh…like what you see?" he said humorously.

He could see that his friend was getting quite an eyeful and couldn't resist teasing her. Ruby blushed and put her hands over her mouth.

"S-s-sorry about th-that…" she mumbled.

"It's cool." Hop insisted, "You didn't expect to see me working out when you walked in. I really should remember to close my door so people don't think it's OK to walk in all the time." he added, chuckling.

"Yes, y-you should." Ruby stammered, still finding it hard to keep her eyes off of Hop's naked torso. Who knew he looked so good shirtless!

Hop slipped his shirt back on and approached Ruby. She just hung in the doorway awkwardly, feeling as if it wouldn't be right for her to come in.

"So, what brings you here?" the teen boy asked jovially, "I didn't think you'd come home for a while after your public announcement this morning."

"I feel I'm ready for some time off." Ruby explained, "So I decided to come home for the rest of the day."

She couldn't help but yawn again as the tiredness of the day hit her again. Hop put a hand on her shoulder.

"I can see why. You look shattered!" he exclaimed, "You best get some rest, mate!"

"I will, but I wanted to see you first." Ruby said quickly, "You see…do you have any other plans for tonight?"

Hop shook his head.

"Nothing major at least." he said.

"That's good." Ruby said happily, "In that case…uh…would you be willing to…you know…go out with me tonight?"

Hop's eyes widened as the realization of what was being asked settled in for him.

"As in…a date?" he asked.

Ruby nodded, trying not to blush again. Hope seemed to have been waiting for Ruby to ask that question for ages for his immediate reaction was to hug her tightly and grin from ear-to-ear.

"I thought you'd never ask!" he said, giddy with joy, "Do you have anywhere in mind?"

"Nothing too big." Ruby said, hugging her friend back, "It's a first date so we don't need to go all out. I thought maybe the Postwick Pizzeria would be a good place for us? I haven't eaten there in a while and you know how much we both love pizza."

"Sounds great!" Hop cried, "I'll ask mum if it's OK with her. You best ask yours as well."

"Will do." Ruby said, "Thank you Hop. This date will be just what I need to get my bearings back together after everything that's happened lately. Shall we meet up outside Postwick Pizzeria at say, 5:30?"

"Sounds alright to me." the golden-eyed boy said happily, "Do you want me to wear anything nice or…"

"No, no dressing up. We can go as we are." Ruby insisted, "I'll see you then Hop."

"You too, mate. Hope you get a good rest until then." Hop said kindly.

Ruby just kissed him on the cheek appreciatively. She left Hop's room and went downstairs to head on out of his house and back to her own. Despite her tiredness, she was feeling much better now that Hop had said yes. She was looking forward to this first date. What a lovely end to a stress-filled day this would be…


"Kerchak, use Razor Leaf again!"

"James, dodge it and use Water Pulse!"

Kerchak and James Pond's battle had been going on for a while. Both opponents had gotten much stronger and faster since their last battle so they were able to keep each other on their toes whilst showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. Kerchak had the type advantage but James seemed to be the faster opponent. He was able to dodge most of Kerchak's moves as he tried to hit him. He did so again, the sharp leaves missing him by a mile as he weaved to one side. He then launched his Water Pulse attack at Kerchak. Emerald could see what Sapphire was planning. She was hoping to confuse Kerchak again as that was what had helped her win last time. With any luck, Kerchak could avoid being confused and win the battle. The Water Pulse hit Kerchak, drenching him but otherwise doing nothing more. It was like he was a flower in a flowerbed that had been given some water to help him grow. Kerchak shook himself dry and retaliated with another Razor Leaf. This time, he was successful. James had mistimed his jump and ended up getting pelted by the leaves as they spun towards him. He grunted and took a moment to rub his arms and torso better after the Razor Leaf left him stinging in places.

Kerchak then came in for another attack but Sapphire surprised both him and Emerald by ordering James Pond to use Sucker Punch. Emerald remembered Ashley's Tepig using that move during her first battle with Sapphire and it had helped Tepig out in winning the fight. No wonder Sapphire had taught James to use it too! James lashed out and socked Kerchak in the face, moving so fast that the grass monkey didn't even see the attack coming. Kerchak staggered back and rubbed his face. While he was distracted, James came in with another Water Pulse attack. The attack landed, soaking Kerchak a second time but to Sapphire's annoyance, nothing else happened. James had still failed to confuse Kerchak with the attack. It really went to show just what a game of chance Pokémon battles could be sometimes! Kerchak shook himself off and pointed his sticks at James.

"I've still got plenty of fight in me yet!" he declared.

"Too right! We won't go down so easily!" Emerald cried, "Though I have to give you and James major props for how far you've come. You two are doing great out here!"

"Cheers!" Sapphire said gratefully, "I like to think Ashley's been inspiring me a little. It's paying off well for we're really keeping you and Kerchak going!"

"You sure are!" Emerald agreed, "Normally this would be a done-in-one but no, the fight's still going on! It could be anyone's win at this point!"

Sapphire agreed. Both their Pokémon were giving it their all and looking as if they still had plenty more in them to go. It really could go either way! The sisters were about to order the two to fight on but then, to their amazement…it happened. Just like before, Kerchak and James Pond were starting to evolve in the middle of their battle! That was OK as the whole point of this fight had been to get them to evolve in the first place. The girls watched with total awe as Kerchak and James changed from a Thwackey and Drizzile into a Rillaboom and Inteleon respectively.

Kerchak now looked like a huge gorilla with a bush of green, leafy hair on his head, dark brown fur, huge powerful arms and his own personal drum kit made of wood that he could carry on his back anywhere he went. Rillaboom were musical creatures by nature and loved to drum out a groovy rhythm whenever they were in a good mood.

James Pond looked like a tall, lanky chameleon creature with a blue and yellow fin on his head, skin flaps attached to his arms for gliding, a long coiled up tail and colour markings that made him look like he was wearing a waistcoat and gloves. Inteleon were known as the "Secret Agent" Pokémon and the way it looked just reinforced that title.

Kerchak and James admired themselves with awe.

"This body…I feel so powerful!" Kerchak exclaimed as he checked out his biceps, "I feel like I could throw a house into the sky! Team Royal will think twice about messing with me!"

"I feel so slick…so agile…like I could avoid anything that comes my way." James purred, his voice sounding very much like the famous spy whose name he'd been given a pun on, "And I also feel as if I could snipe an enemy from miles away."

Emerald and Sapphire were so happy that they ran up to their Pokémon and hugged them. For Emerald, it was a very different kind of hug now that Kerchak was much bigger than she was. The two of them together looked more like a father gorilla with his child given the size differences. Sapphire on the other hand felt like she was embracing a beanstalk with how skinny James was. The two Pokémon beamed with pride, glad their trainers were so happy with them.

"Congratulations Kerchak!" Emerald squealed, "You look incredible! And so muscular!" she added, noticing how thick he felt as she embraced him, "I can't imagine how strong you're going to be now you're a Rillaboom!"

"Heh, I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to put that to the test." Kerchak chuckled.

"I'm so glad you've become an Inteleon at last." Sapphire said happily, "I didn't expect you'd be so tall and thin though." she added with a chuckle.

"I may seem like a beanpole to many, but I assure you my skills are still as sharp as ever, Sapphire." James purred, "Just you wait and see."

Now that Kerchak and James had evolved, the twins called the match off. The battle wasn't meant to end with a winner after all. Sapphire and James took some time out while Emerald brought out the rest of her team so they could have their turn to train and hopefully evolve. Steelclaw, Marinette, Mei-Mei, Percival and Slasher all materialized out of their Pokéballs and lined up in front of Emerald as she looked down at them. She looked like a drill sergeant about to order her troops into battle.

"Hey everyone, who's ready for some training?" Emerald asked eagerly, "I hope you're all ready for it because the remaining Gyms are going to be tough and we have to be in top form for them! Also, I'm hoping to get as many of you to evolve as possible. So are you ready?"

"Yes we are!" her Pokémon cheered.

"Great! I love you all so much, you're the best!" Emerald cried, giddy with excitement, "Let's get training!"

And so a long rest of the afternoon was spent with Emerald's Pokémon all working their hardest to get themselves in tip-top shape for the remaining Gyms. Emerald had decided that rather than battling with Sapphire's other Pokémon, she would have them battle amongst themselves to keep things more fun. She also liked to think that battling amongst each other would help in making her team a closer knit team and maybe even strengthen friendships between one another. She had Mei-Mei and Steelclaw up against each other while Percival trained with the newly evolved Kerchak and Marinette and Slasher battled amongst themselves.

Sapphire watched with interest as Emerald's Pokémon got stuck right into the training. It was as if Emerald's enthusiasm and desire to get stronger, both for the remaining Gyms and to deal with Team Royal's schemes, was channelling through her into them. If there was ever a greater bond between human and Pokémon, Sapphire doubted it could come anywhere close to Emerald and her wide roster of Pokémon.

Mei-Mei spent most of her training with Steelclaw dancing around merrily and keeping ahead of him. Despite being a fast Pokémon himself, Steelclaw could hardly keep up with the bouncing panda Pokémon. Every time he tried to use Metal Claw on Mei-Mei, he just couldn't hit her. Mei-Mei laughed as if the whole thing was a game to her. Steelclaw could see that this wasn't working so he tried something else. Any combatant knew that the only way to catch an opponent off-guard was to variate your attacks and not stick to the same one all the time. As Mei-Mei danced out of his way once more, Steelclaw suddenly ripped at the ground and duck up a chunk of rock and sent it launching at the Fighting-type Pokémon. This was Rock Blast, an attack that had the chance to hit many times in a row as the user launched rocks at the opponent. Mei-Mei gasped as the rock came at her and she tried to twist her body to avoid the attack. She was too slow, caught off-guard by the sudden change in Steelclaw's attack, so she was hit. Mei-Mei grunted and fell onto her back, wincing from the attack. Steelclaw was glad his plan had succeeded but he worried if he'd over done it a bit and hurt Mei-Mei too badly. He ran over to her.

"Oh dear. That wasn't too hard, was it?" he asked nervously.

Mei-Mei just sat up and smiled dopily. Despite looking a little dazed from the hit, she seemed unhurt.

"Boop." she said playfully as she bopped Steelclaw on his big nose with her finger.

Emerald giggled. Mei-Mei sure knew how to add a bit of fun to training. Mei-Mei then got back to her feet and retaliated by using Circle Throw on Steelclaw. Little did Emerald and Steelclaw realize was that Mei-Mei hadn't bopped him on the nose for fun. She'd done that to distract him so she could strike back at him. Steelclaw cried out as he was slammed onto his back by the tiny panda Pokémon. He was amazed that his opponent could be so strong despite her cutesy, unthreatening appearance. Then again, all Fighting types packed a punch no matter how big they were. Mei-Mei giggled again, clearly enjoying herself. Steelclaw picked himself up and lunged at her again with Metal Claw. He missed as Mei-Mei somersaulted over the mole Pokémon's head and landed behind him. Steelclaw turned around and used Rock Blast but this time, his opponent was ready for him. She used Low Sweep to kick the rocks away one at a time as they came towards her. Emerald was impressed. It was cool of Mei-Mei to improvise like that! But Mei-Mei had been tricked. Steelclaw had only used Rock Blast to distract her so he could come in with a real attack. She yelled in fright as a huge drill seemed to come from nowhere and launch itself at her. Steelclaw was using Drill Run, the very attack he'd used against Ninetales back in Kabu's Gym. He came in much too fast for Mei-Mei to dodge and he hit her, knocking her flying backwards. She hurled into a nearby wall and grunted upon impact. The wind was knocked out of her and she fell to the ground heavily. Steelclaw was pleased with himself. It served Mei-Mei right for tricking him earlier! The panda Pokémon picked herself up and dusted herself off. She was quietly impressed with Steelclaw's strength and quick thinking.

At the same time this was happening, Percival was swinging his leek at Kerchak furiously. He was using Rock Smash, the attack that Emerald and Kerchak had seen him use to break the rocks apart in the Wild Area earlier. This time, his opponent was a real Pokémon and not a rock so he was going to get a real test of his skills. Every time he swung his giant leek, Kerchak blocked it with his arms. As a Rillaboom, his arms were so much more muscular and solid so he took every hit with no problem. It was like he was a brick wall and Percival had no way of breaking through it. The fighting duck Pokémon could see that Rock Smash wouldn't do him any good so he changed tactics. Instead of swinging his leek at Kerchak, he used it to propel himself into the air and peck his opponent. His large beak stabbed into Kerchak's arm. Unlike Rock Smash, Peck was a super-effective hit and he'd managed to land a critical hit too, making the damage even greater. Kerchak cried out and clutched his arm. That left him open for another Peck attack from Percival. The duck Pokémon pecked him again, this time aiming at his shoulder. He'd scored yet another critical hit and Kerchak was starting to feel the damage he was getting. If Percival kept at it, he'd have this fight in the bag! As Kerchak rubbed his shoulder, Percival surprised him by using his leek to take his legs out from underneath him. He hit with enough force to send Kerchak stumbling backwards and as the grassy gorilla fell over, Percival raised his leek and brought it crashing down hard on top of his opponent, landing a third critical hit in a row. Kerchak cried out as he hit the ground and he groaned, surprised but also impressed with Percival's mighty strength. At least his ego wasn't the only big thing about him!

"Ungh…I'll give you that, you know how to battle!" he grunted.

"Of course I do! My mighty battle prowess is unrivalled!" Percival said haughtily.

And also while this had been going on, Marinette and Slasher were going through their battle. Neither opponent had a lot of attacks to use but they tried with what they could do anyway. Slasher in particular could only use Struggle Bug, Sand-Attack and Defence Curl. Despite this, the heroic Wimpod didn't back down. After saving Emerald and Paul from Henry's Gyarados back in the second Galar Mine, he felt like he could do anything and wouldn't go down without a fight. He used Sand-Attack on Marinette to obscure her vision and lower her accuracy so he wouldn't be able to hit him. The Dottler winced as the sand stung at her eyes and she was forced to close them. Slasher took advantage of this, rushing towards his opponent and using Struggle Bug on his opponent. He landed a clean hit that was also super-effective. Marinette grimaced from the attack and stumbled back. She was surprised that Slasher could land a good hit like that despite his species being cowardly by nature. She could see how this was the Pokémon that had saved her trainer yesterday! Marinette retaliated by using Psychic on Slasher. The Wimpod was picked up by a telekinetic force and he cried out, his little legs scrabbling furiously as he tried to get back down. Marinette didn't move an inch throughout the whole thing, her mind being the only thing in action. She sent Slashed flying backwards with just a single thought. Slasher landed in a patch of grass nearby. He was grateful he'd gotten a soft landing at least. He picked himself up and charged back towards Marinette.

Marinette stopped him dead in his tracks with another Psychic attack. Slasher was picked up again but just as he left the ground, he flicked at the ground with his tail at the last minute with a desperate Sand-Attack. The sand hit Marinette in the face, making her cry out as sand got into her eyes and she lost her concentration. She dropped Slasher and as a result, he came in and hit her again with Struggle Bug. Marinette cried out from the attack and swayed on her feet. She was trying not to fall unconscious. Slasher came up to her, hoping she was alright.

"I-I h-hope I'm n-not being too r-rough on you." he said worriedly.

"Ungh…it's fine. Don't worry about it." Marinette insisted, "Emerald wants us to train, so we're training. I have to say, I haven't seen a Wimpod as strong as you before."

"Oh um…th-thank you." Slasher said bashfully. He wasn't used to being complimented for being strong given his previous cowardly nature.

These fights had gone on for an hour at least and the long hard training had finally paid off. Simultaneously, all the training Pokémon started to glow white and began to change their appearances. Emerald gasped in wonderment. This was incredible! Five evolutions all going off at once! She had expected them to evolve one at a time, not all together! Even Sapphire was utterly spellbound.

"Flippin' heck! When's the last time anyone got to see anything like this?!" Sapphire cried.

Emerald couldn't speak as she watched Percival, Mei-Mei, Steelclaw, Slasher and Marinette all evolving together. In a matter of seconds, they were no longer a Farfetch'd, a Pancham, a Drilbur, a Wimpod and a Dottler respectively. They had become a Sirfetch'd, a Pangoro, an Excadrill, a Golisopod and an Orbeetle.

Percival sported white feathers instead of dark brown and his trademark leek had split apart to form a sword and shield that looked like they had been made out of leeks. The sword was comically large, even taller than Percival himself and yet he was able to carry it with ease. Sirfetch'd were powerful warriors that fought until their leek weapons withered. Only then did they retire from combat.

Mei-Mei was no longer cute and cuddly looking. As a Pangoro, she looked considerably fiercer and more aggressive thanks to a more fearsome expression on her face and a bulkier appearance. She had long strands of fur reaching down her legs, giving her the appearance of someone wearing a long coat. She also had a stick with a leaf in her mouth instead of a single leaf to continue that "tough" looking appearance from before.

Steelclaw was still tiny, only standing at about 3 feet but he looked much sharper and more powerful as an Excadrill. His claws had two sharp points sweeping backwards and he had a large serrated blade protruding from his forehead. Excadrill were the fastest diggers in the world and were able to hold their claws out to form a drill shape for digging purposes.

Slasher was no longer tiny and wimpy looking, but huge and fearsome with his changed appearance. As a Golisopod, he had enormous clawed arms that packed a lot of power, extra insect legs protruding from his ribs, comically small legs and armour-plating that gave him a samurai-like appearance. He also stood with a hunched over stance. No longer would anyone see him as wimpy looking with this body!

And finally, Marinette had become what she'd hoped to and was enjoying the feel of her new body. She had become a tiny ladybird like Pokémon with a large red shell with seven spots across it, a tiny body and blue and white eyes with yellow antennae perched above them. Orbeetle were famous for their intelligence, their large brains being the primary source of their tremendous psychic powers. Despite their size, they weren't to be trifled with.

Emerald jumped about for joy, happy with all her newly evolved Pokémon. Every one of them looked amazing in their fully evolved forms and she had a feeling they were going to be amazing in their battles whenever she used them now.

"Yay! You all evolved! Many congratulations to all of you!" Emerald cheered, unable to contain her excitement.

"Many thanks, fair lady." Percival said with a polite bow.

"You promised you'd help me evolve and you did!" Marinette said graciously, "Now I won't ever get stuck on my back again as an Orbeetle!"

"With these claws and this horn, I feel like I could dig a tunnel big enough to bury a whole mansion in less than a minute." Steelclaw murmured, still talking in his nasally voice.

"I bet all other Wimpods love it when they become a Golisopod." Slasher purred, his voice much deeper and gruffer sounding than before, "I feel so much stronger and braver…like nothing will ever worry me again!" he cried, slicing at the air with his new claws.

"I'm not sure about this." Mei-Mei said uncertainly, her voice also deepened by her evolution, "This new body makes me look fat. I hope I can still dance like this…" she said thoughtfully.

"I'm so happy for all of you!" Emerald cried, "I knew the training would pay off. How's about you all take a break now and get a feel for your new bodies? I'd say you've all earned it!"

Her Pokémon didn't hesitate for a minute. They all gathered around Emerald and sat down, glad to have a moment to rest. They also fancied something to eat too as the training had made them hungry. The sun was starting to set, signifying that all the training had taken up the rest of the afternoon and evening was approaching, so it was dinner time anyway. Emerald got out some tins of Pokémon food that she had bought back at the Pokémon Centre and gave one each to all six Pokémon she had with her now. But just as they ate their dinner, they ended up getting a surprise visitor.

Emerald and Sapphire saw the grasses rustle nearby and they stared ahead, wondering what it was. Emerald's Pokémon braced themselves in case it was an enemy they had to deal with. It might just be a wild Pokémon that lived on Route 6. As they soon saw, that was exactly what they found themselves looking at. An Axew had stumbled across the sisters, and it was in bad shape.

Axew were Dragon-type Pokémon first discovered in the Unova region. They were bipedal with greyish-green scales, two straight tusks protruding from each side of its jaws, a tall slightly curved horn on the back of their heads and a forest green collar encircling its neck. They had short limbs and red eyes. Axew were small and unassuming at first, but they became a force of nature when they evolved into the deadly Haxorus.

This Axew had clearly been through a lot. It was limping as it walked and it had nasty scars across its face and back. Emerald put her hands to her mouth in horror. The poor thing looked as if it had been in some terrible fight and clearly it had been the loser of that battle. Emerald ran over to it in a hurry.

"Sweet merciful Minerva! What happened to you?!" Emerald cried.

"My trainer…did this…I ran off…while I could…" the Axew grunted, speaking in a strained, hoarse voice as if even the act of talking was too much for it. Emerald could also see from its voice that this Axew was female.

The Axew's legs buckled and it collapsed onto the ground. Its injuries were too much for it to take and it had passed out as a result. Emerald scooped up the Axew in her hands and held it close to her chest.

"My god, she's been really badly hurt!" she shrieked, "What kind of trainer would do this to a sweet, innocent Pokémon like this?!"

"Someone who has no right to call themselves one!" Sapphire growled, "Come on, we must get her to a Pokémon Centre and now!"

Emerald wasted no time at all. She took off as fast as she could run and bolted the way back to Hammerlocke City to get to the Pokémon Centre. She didn't even return her Pokémon as she was in that much of a hurry. They ran off after her so they wouldn't get left behind. Kerchak even scooped Sapphire onto his back so he could carry her and help her hurry along. Emerald looked down at the unconscious Axew in her arms. She was not going to let it die on her hands! She was going to save it and save it now!


Minutes later, Emerald had reached the Pokémon Centre, kicking the doors open and practically throwing herself at the counter. Nurse Joy nearly fell over in surprise as this teenager just about nearly tackled the counter she was standing behind. She was used to people coming in in a hurry but somehow, this new arrival made this situation seem even more dire than normal.

"Nurse Joy! Nurse Joy! It's an emergency, you must help me quickly!" Emerald panted, "I found this Axew in Route 6 and she's in real bad shape! Please help her!"

"Of course! Right away!" Nurse Joy said, taking the Axew from Emerald, "Is this your Axew?"

"No, she just came across us. We found her like this." Emerald explained, "Please can you help her? She might die if we don't do something now!"

"I'll do whatever I can, love." Nurse Joy swore, "Axew looks pretty beat up but I'm sure I can help her out in no time."

She hurried off with the Axew in her hands to give it treatment as quickly as possible. Now that had been taken care of, Emerald sighed heavily and collapsed into a nearby chair. The whole rush back to the Pokémon Centre plus her panic over the Axew's condition had left her drained. She had her hand over her chest as if worried her heart would break free of her ribcage. Sapphire sat down beside her while her Pokémon approached. Emerald sighed in annoyance, feeling very silly for running off without returning her Pokémon first. She returned them all to their Pokéballs and put them away so they wouldn't take up too much space in the Pokémon Centre. Now all the sisters could do was wait for news on the Axew's condition, and that could take a while. Emerald tried to relax but the anxiety was too much for her to stay still. She fidgeted uncontrollably, her gloved hands clasping and unclasping numerous times. She even took her gloves off and stuffed them into her pockets for her hands were beginning to sweat profusely and she felt they needed some air.

Sapphire could see why her sister was getting so worked up. It didn't matter that the Axew wasn't her Pokémon. It was a Pokémon that had been horribly injured and might potentially die. She'd found it and as a result, if it did die, then poor Emerald would feel as if it had been on her watch despite it not being her's. She wrapped an arm around the brunette girl to try and settle her down. She could feel Emerald tremble against her.

"What if Nurse Joy can't save her?" Emerald asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Then we can at least say we tried." Sapphire said solemnly, "I know that's not exactly helpful but it's better that we tried to save Axew than do nothing about it at all."

"I get you." Emerald said, "But it'll still be really sad if the Axew doesn't make it. I don't want her to die…"

She could feel herself getting ready to cry. If anyone in the Pokémon Centre was watching her, they'd think the Axew really was her Pokémon. Sapphire just knew that by nature, Emerald was a very sensitive girl and valued the lives of all Pokémon, even if they didn't belong to her.

An hour passed before Nurse Joy returned. Emerald was nervous as all hell and upon seeing her, she practically threw herself at the counter with a wide-eyed and desperate look in her eyes. She looked like she was mad.

"Please tell me everything's OK! TELL ME!" Emerald shrieked.

Nurse Joy recoiled and held up her hands as if she was dealing with an enraged Tauros rather than a worried teenager.

"Calm down dear, I was just about to tell you that Axew will be fine!" she said hastily.

Emerald shrank back as the news settled in. She felt as if someone had pulled a plug out inside of her and all the stress and anxiety of the last hour had drained away.

"Oh thank Arceus!" she gasped, "How is she?"

"Axew was injured pretty badly." Nurse Joy explained, "The scars on her face will be permanent and it had twisted its knee, probably while running. But aside from that, her injuries aren't as serious as I thought and she'll make a steady recovery. I recommend that you keep her here for the night to give some time to heal but come tomorrow, you can take her with you."

Emerald was so relieved that she almost leapt over the counter to hug Nurse Joy. Instead, she just smiled graciously.

"Thank you for all your work, nurse." she said politely, "You have no idea how happy that's made me!"

"My sister tends to get sad when anyone dies, person or Pokémon." Sapphire put in, "Just hearing that Axew will be fine has really made her evening."

Nurse Joy nodded, now understanding why Emerald had been so on edge despite Axew not being her Pokémon.

"Did Axew tell you anything about its injuries?" Emerald asked.

"No, she's been sleeping the whole time I worked on her." Nurse Joy explained, "If you want to come through, she might wake up shortly. It'll be nice for you to see her so she can thank you for bringing her here."

Emerald had hoped she could see the Axew so she was eager to take the nurse up on that request. Nurse Joy let Emerald through into the medical room so she could see the Axew. Sapphire stayed where she was, deciding it was best that only Emerald went to see Axew. It was sometimes best not to let too many people see a patient at once. The Dragon-type Pokémon was lying on a comfortable bed with some bandages around her torso and leg. The nurse had done her work well for the Axew was looking well rested rather than in grievous pain. She was sleeping naturally; no drugs or sedatives used whatsoever. Emerald sat down by the bed and looked over the Axew. Despite her scarred face, she thought she looked peaceful and cute sleeping in the bed like that. She watched her for five minutes before the Axew finally started to wake up. The Dragon Pokémon's red eyes slowly opened and she looked up at Emerald. The teenager smiled back at Axew.

"How do you feel?" she asked softly.

"Bashed around." the Axew muttered, "But I feel much better now that nurse is helping me out. It feels good to be handled gently for a change."

"Pokémon nurses are the best when it comes to helping an injured Pokémon out." Emerald said brightly, "So what did happen to you? Did your trainer REALLY do that to you?" she asked, afraid to hear the answer.

"Oh yes." the Axew grunted, "My trainer was the WORST! He calls himself a Pokémon trainer, yet his idea of training felt more like torture to me. He would force us all to work hard and if we didn't, he'd punish us harshly. My face should tell you the worst of his punishments…" she added, running a hand over her scars.

One scar went over her eye and there were two scars reaching down her snout. Emerald didn't even want to know what the trainer did to Axew to give her those. She'd be sick Axew told her.

"He believed that the only way to train Pokémon was to treat us like soldiers in a war." the Axew continued, "He was never kind to us, he never gave us a real break and he fed us very little. If he ever spoke to us, it was never delicately. I can't recall a single time he said anything nice to me or any other Pokémon he had. And if that wasn't bad enough, he kept us in cages at night! That was what passed off as a bed for us!" she growled, the horrible memories making her cringe in disgust.

"Please stop, I don't want to hear anymore." Emerald said, fighting back tears.

She knew that not all Pokémon trainers were nice to Pokémon but even then, she hadn't imagined ANYONE could be so cruel! She thought cruelty like this only existed in TV dramas. How sad it was that it was a cold hard reality.

"How did you escape from him?" Emerald asked.

"I decided I wasn't gonna take his abuse any longer." the Axew said, "His other Pokémon maybe spineless cowards willing to obey his every commands, but NOT me! We Dragons don't get pushed around and are expected to take it! When we've had enough, we've had enough! I used Dragon Claw on him. Feeling my claws rake across his face felt SOOOO satisfying! And then to stop him chasing me, I used Crunch on both ankles. He couldn't stand up after that and so I ran. He sent his other Pokémon to chase after me. I imagine they worried he'd punish them harshly but before anyone could come for me…I dunno, I guess someone snitched on him for the next thing I knew, police sirens were blaring and I saw the police surrounding his camp! I bet that monster of a trainer's in a prison cell right now!

So now I was free, I just ran…and ran…and ran. I didn't stop running until I slipped and twisted my knee. I didn't know what else to do so I just forced myself to keep on going despite being unable to walk properly. Maybe I sub-consciously hoped someone would find me and help me out, I dunno. And then I found you and…well I guess my injuries and the fatigue of running away for so long just caught up to me for I'm now here in this bed with a nice nurse giving me lots of potions! Did you bring me here?" she concluded, sounding surprised to even ask that question.

"Yes! Of course I did!" Emerald cried, putting a hand on the Axew's back, "How could I just leave you there when you were in serious pain? I HAD to help you!"

"So you took me in and brought me here to get treated…" the Axew said, her eyes wide with astonishment. "That…that's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me…I…I never thought I'd ever meet a kind human after what I've been through! Miss, you have my eternal thanks!"

She wanted to get up from the bed and nuzzle Emerald in gratitude but she was still in too much pain to get up again.

"No, no, you must stay there and rest." Emerald insisted, "The nurse says you can leave here tomorrow after you've had an overnight stay. It'll give time for the medication to settle in and help you."

The Axew nodded and stayed where she was. Emerald gently stroked her back. It was a wonderful feeling for the abused Pokémon to have a human being gentle with her, no abuse or heavy-handedness whatsoever. This girl was definitely a huge step-up from her previous trainer!

"You're so lovely." the Axew said graciously, "I appreciate this more than you can ever realize. As a token of my thanks…can you be my trainer instead? I've always wanted to see what a nice Pokémon trainer is like."

"I'd be happy to take you in!" Emerald said excitedly, "I'd love to have a Dragon-type Pokémon in my team. I promise you, you won't suffer any of the abuse your previous trainer with me. I'll shower you with love and kindness, just as I do with all my Pokémon, and you'll come to love living with me and my other Pokémon! I'll even show you the real way to train for battles!"

The Axew beamed with delight.

"I love the sound of that!" she cried, "So from now on, I shall be your Pokémon!"

"And I'd be happy to have you." Emerald said gleefully, "My name's Emerald. How about you?"

"My trainer never gave me or his other Pokémon a name." the Axew muttered, "He thought nicknaming Pokémon was a sign of affection and that affection is a sign of weakness in a trainer. If you ask me, a lack of affection was HIS biggest weakness."

"I agree." Emerald said grimly, "So I shall give you a name. And I know just the one too! Given your sharp tusks and what you evolve into…I'll call you Razer!" she cried.

"Razer…I like it! It makes it sound like I could cut my enemies down to size! Plus it makes me think of when I clawed my trainer across the face and bit him on his ankles. I took him down with my razor sharp claws and fangs…" Razer purred, a dark smile on her face.

"So it suits you perfectly." Emerald said happily, "Well I'll leave you to get a good rest for now, Razer. I'll come for you first thing tomorrow morning."

"I look forward to it. See you later." Razer said as she closed her eyes to get some more sleep.

Emerald stroked Razer's head as she drifted back into sleep again and she got up to leave the room. She felt very good about herself. In a way, she'd saved Razer's life and now Razer was going to have a better life with her instead of her old trainer. She was looking forward to having Razer train with her and become a new member of the team. As she re-joined Sapphire in the waiting room, Emerald had another thought on her mind:

How were things going with Ruby and Hop? As the evening was here, she wondered if they were on their date at this very minute. No doubt they were having a great time together if they were…


Pokémon obtained: Razer the Axew: Gender: Female. Nature: Sassy. Ability: Mould Breaker (Moves can be used regardless of abilities)

Pokémon evolved: Vixey the Vulpix, now Vixey the Ninetales.

Gemstone the Staryu, now Gemstone the Starmie.

Marinette the Dottler, now Marinette the Orbeetle.

Percival the Galarian Farfetch'd, now Percival the Sirfetch'd.

Slasher the Wimpod, now Slasher the Golisopod.

Mei-Mei the Pancham, now Mei-Mei the Pangoro.

Steelclaw the Drilbur, now Steelclaw the Excadrill.

Kerchak the Thwackey, now Kerchak the Rillaboom.

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