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Emerald Knights: A Pokémon Sword Story Chapter 3

Chapter 3: The Boy From Sinnoh


The train pulled into the station soon enough and Emerald and Sapphire made their way out through the station and into the Wild Area. Until now, the only exposure to the place they'd had was seeing pictures in books or photographs Ruby had sent them when she'd travelled through the place last year. At long last, they were seeing it for themselves…and they loved what they were seeing.


The Wild Area was the epitome of a true Pokémon paradise with stretching fields, high clifftops, huge lakes to swim in and old ruins to make homes out of. There were plenty of species living in this place and they ranged from first stage Pokémon to fully evolved Pokémon. It was a beautiful sight to see nature at its finest with very little human presence around. Only the huge wall and the gates leading into Motostoke City brought the human world to the Pokémon's doorstep. Emerald and Sapphire spent a long moment just drinking in the atmosphere and snapping some pictures to commemorate the occasion. They really wanted to savour this moment before making their way around.


"No wonder trainers love to come here. This place is amazing…" Emerald whispered.


"So much space for the Pokémon to live in…I see why so many different species occupy this area." Sapphire said with awe, "There's all sorts from Growlithe to Gyarados to Pidove and even Roselia here! I honestly don't know where to start!"


"I wonder if we even should. It almost feels like we should leave the Pokémon alone here as they seem to live in such peaceful harmony." Emerald observed.


"There's no law against catching anything here so don't worry about it." Sapphire said reassuringly, "Now, I have this guide to the Wild Area so that can help us get started…"


She pulled a book, simply titled The Wild Area: A Guide To Galar's Biggest Pokémon Home out of her backpack and opened it up. The guide had a map of the place so she and Emerald peered at it to see where to start first. But they didn't get to read much as a sudden sound caught their attention and made them put the book away.


Emerald and Sapphire soon came to realize they weren't the only ones in the Wild Area. They suddenly heard the sound of yelling and a screeching cry that sounded like a Pokémon was engaged in battle. It was coming from one of the nearby lakes. Emerald recognized the sound. It sounded like Kerchak whenever he was in battle. The twins looked at each other and nodded, both coming to the same conclusion: let's check it out. They followed the sound of the battle and saw that their hunch was correct. There was indeed another trainer in the Wild Area aside from them.


This trainer was a teenage boy, about a year older than they were. He had mid-length purple hair with a single large strand hanging over one of his eyes and was dressed in a purple jacket with navy blue sleeves, a blue undershirt, baggy dark purple trousers and shoes with matching colours to his jacket. Unlike most Pokémon trainers, the boy had no obvious enthusiasm or excitement about the battle he was participating in. He just seemed to stand there, quiet and observant while his Pokémon did the work. Emerald was interested to see that the boy also had a Grookey just like her. His Grookey looked considerably less friendly than Kerchak, seeming to be frowning all the time and always bearing its teeth viciously. It had just won a battle against a Combee, a common Bug-type native to the Sinnoh region. The boy threw a Pokéball and caught the Combee. It was such an easy catch that the ball didn't even shake. After that, he picked the Pokéball up and drew out his Rotom phone. His was black, which was unusual for a Rotom phone as they rarely came in those colours. The boy used the phone to scan the Pokémon he'd just caught and he scoffed in disappointment.


"Pathetic. It only knows Gust and Sweet Scent." he said grimly, "And it's the male of the species so it can't evolve. What a waste of time that was…"


As he spoke, the twins knew instantly he wasn't a local. He spoke in a Sinnoh accent, suggesting he was from that region. That was interesting. What had led to this boy coming all the way to Galar?


The boy then proceeded to throw the Pokéball into the air, releasing the Combee from its containment and allowing it to freely buzz away happily. The boy's Grookey looked equally as disappointed, annoyed that it had wasted its time fighting this Pokémon for its master only for it to not be worthwhile. The boy looked down at Grookey.


"We'll find another." he said bluntly, "The Wild Area has plenty of Pokémon to catch. We'll find some strong ones here."


Emerald and Sapphire weren't sure how to feel about this stranger. While yes, male Combee were pretty useless Pokémon due to their shallow move sets and being unable to evolve, it still seemed pretty callous of him to just release it like that and call it pathetic. They were also put off by his attitude. He seemed to be always grumpy with a permanent scowl on his face and a clear lack of enthusiasm for his life as a Pokémon trainer. How does one ever be a Pokémon trainer and look so disinterested? They were tempted to just walk on by and leave him be but they decided against it. Hadn't their mother taught them and Ruby not to be so judgemental of others? Maybe this boy was nicer than he seemed. They agreed it would be polite to at least say hi and get a better impression of him than to judge from first sight. Emerald made the first move, waving to the boy jovially.


"Hi there! How are you doing?" she asked sweetly, "Sorry that Combee didn't work out for you. I'm sure you'll catch something great!"


The boy turned, surprised that there was another trainer here in the Wild Area. He found himself looking at a pair of girls, one white and one black, and he knew from their accents that they were locals. He wasn't in the mood for making friends but he supposed it wouldn't hurt to see what the two wanted.


"Are you two trainers as well?" he asked, his tone of polite interest.


"We sure are!" Emerald said brightly, "We just turned thirteen yesterday and got our first Pokémon from our sister as a birthday present! My name's Emerald and this is my twin sister, Sapphire." she introduced, gesturing to herself and Sapphire, "And yes, I know, we don't look alike. We get that a lot." she added quickly.


"This is our first time in the Wild Area so we're very keen to see what Pokémon live here." Sapphire explained, "How about you? Is this your first visit to Galar?"


"It is." the boy confirmed, "My name is Paul and I'm from Veilstone City in the Sinnoh Region. I've previously travelled through the Kanto, Johto and Hoenn regions and now I'm giving Galar my first try. I hear it's a strong region that can truly test a trainer's skills so I'm here to see just how strong it is."


Emerald and Sapphire gasped as it suddenly dawned on them who they were talking to.


"Wait a minute…I remember you!" Emerald hollered, "You're that same Paul who competed in the Sinnoh League last year! Holy galoshes, I remember seeing your battle with Ash on TV! It was so epic and I was on the edge of my seat watching you two! It was a really close match!"


Paul raised an eyebrow with interest.


"So you two have seen that battle." he acknowledged, "It was the last time me and Ash ever saw each other. That battle really opened my eyes to a lot of things. It showed me how wrong I was about him and that trainers who love and care for their Pokémon can be strong too."


The way he spoke about Ash showed that Paul had great respect for him. While the two were far from friends, their many battles together had led to the two respecting each other and departing on good terms after their final battle in the Sinnoh League.


"Aww, that's nice." Sapphire said brightly, "It really did suck that after your awesome fight with Ash, he went on to lose to some jerk with a team of legendries. I mean seriously, how the hell was that guy not thrown out for that?! It should be bloody illegal for a trainer to enter a Pokémon League with a bloody Latios and a bloody Darkrai! What else does he have on him, a Mewtwo to boot?!" she ranted.


Emerald just smiled sheepishly. It was funny how Ash was the one that lost to Tobias due to his unfair advantage from having Legendary Pokémon in his arsenal and yet Sapphire was the one that was most upset about it. One would think SHE was the one that got screwed over instead! Paul seemed to share Sapphire's sentiments.


"Yeah, it was really disappointing to see him lose so easily to that guy." he muttered, "With the strength and resolve Ash showed, he deserved to win the tournament."


"I know, it was so sad to see him lose after such a spectacular win." Emerald sighed, "You'll be glad to know that over here in Galar, we have a rule banning Legendries from the Gym Challenge and the Champion Cup. Only in battles with the Champion himself or herself are you allowed to use any." she explained, "Speaking of Champions, have you met Ruby yet?"


"Yes." Paul replied, "It was she who gave me my Grookey. I hope to win through the Gym Challenge and win the right to challenge the Champion for her title."


His Grookey folded its arms and grinned conceitedly, clearly showing much faith in its master that he could get so far. Sapphire smirked.


"Seems your partner believes in you." she remarked.


"Seeing you and Ash battle, I bet you'll be a great opponent for our sister." Emerald said encouragingly.


Paul's eyes widened. It was the first time he'd expressed genuine emotion since the conversation had started.


"Sister? Hold on…you're saying that the Champion is YOUR sister?" he blurted out.


His Grookey chirped in astonishment.


"She sure is!" the brunette girl piped, "The three of us together are as tight-knit a family as you can get! It might sound crazy, I know, but we aren't pulling your leg, mate. You're looking at the Champion's twin sisters!"


Paul regained his composure, looking impressed to find himself talking to the Champion's own siblings.


"Well if you're Ruby's sisters, then would you care to give me a Pokémon battle?" he asked politely, "I'd like to see if her strength carries over to you two as well."


"Sure! Consider this a warm Galarian welcome!" Emerald joked as she whipped out a Pokéball from her cardigan.


"Em, you can't fight Paul! He's an experienced trainer who's been through four regions, including his own!" Sapphire protested, "You're just a beginner! You'll get creamed out there!"


"But Paul's starting anew." Emerald pointed out, "He has a new Pokémon. At least we're starting out on an even keel. If he'd been using his other Pokémon, then I'd be hesitating!"


Sapphire wasn't sure she agreed on that. True Paul was starting all over by getting a new starter and going through the Galar region with a whole new team instead of using his old ones but that wouldn't put him and Emerald on even footing. He still had the experience that would tip the scales in his favour. Then again, Ruby was a beginner last year and she'd won the Galar League on her first try so who was to say Emerald wouldn't have that same beginner's luck too?


"OK Em, just don't get too in over your head." Sapphire warned.


"I won't!" Emerald piped, "Hey Paul, how about we make this a one-on-one? It'll give each other a taster of what to expect and we won't play all our cards at once!"


"That's fine with me." Paul said casually.


"Then let's go!" Emerald said excitedly, "Kerchak, let the fun begin!" she cried, throwing her Pokéball as if she was playing catch with a friend.


"Grookey, standby for battle!" Paul commanded.


His Grookey stepped forward and took up its position while Kerchak materialized out of his Pokéball and took up his position opposite his opponent. It was a humorous sight to be sure, two trainers both using the same Pokémon as if this was a battle of clones. Who had the stronger Grookey would all depend on this battle between the Galarian trainer and the Sinnoh trainer. Sapphire volunteered to referee the match, standing to the side and raising her arm.


"This match will be a one-on-one match between the two Grookeys with no time limit!" the blue-haired girl announced, "I want this to be a clean, fair battle so no cheating will be tolerated! The first Pokémon to knock out its opponent is the winner! Are you ready?"


"Yes, yes, yes!" Emerald squealed eagerly.


"I'm ready." Paul said bluntly.


"Then…let's begin!" Sapphire called, swiping her arm down to start the battle.


"Grookey, use Screech!" Paul commanded.


Emerald and Sapphire were both stunned at how quickly Paul had reacted. He'd given the command so quickly that it was like he'd been planning his strategy before the fight had even begun! They'd seen for themselves on TV that Paul was a trainer that relied heavily on strategy so now they were going to see for themselves what that was like. Grookey opened his mouth and let out a horrible Screeching sound that made Kerchak wince and cover his ears in pain. The two sisters could see Paul's plan a mile away. He was using Screech to lower Kerchak's Defences so he could do more damage whenever he attacked. Emerald watched as a blue flash swept down Kerchak, signifying his drop in Defence. This fight had to end quickly before Paul could exploit this stat drop.


"OK Kerchak, let's try and wrap this up before Paul's strategy overwhelms us! Use Razor Leaf!" Emerald cried.


Kerchak grinned happily, glad to get the chance to learn his new attack. He pointed his stick at Paul's Grookey and conjured up a bunch of leaves that seemed to come out of nowhere. The razor-sharp leaves then fired towards Grookey as if they were bullets being shot out of a gun. Grookey winced in pain as the leaves hit him. A Grass attack was never going to do much damage to another Grass-type, but Emerald was aiming for Razor Leaf's side-effect to do the real damage. Razor Leaf had a chance of landing a critical hit, which was very helpful in defeating an opponent quickly. Luck was on Emerald's side for Kerchak had indeed landed a critical hit. Grookey hadn't taken too much damage, but it had been enough to count as a meaningful hit. Grookey winced from the attack and shook his head to regain himself. Paul was impressed, seeing that this girl wasn't going to be such a walkover. Galar was giving him a good first impression on what it had to offer. He remained cool and collected as he gave his next command.


"You use Razor Leaf too." he ordered.


Grookey obeyed, mirroring his opponent's attack from earlier. Kerchak was pelted by the Razor Leaf attack, but unlike him, his opponent didn't land a critical hit so he didn't do as much damage despite his Defences being lowered earlier. Kerchak smirked, feeling as if this battle was truly going to be his. Emerald ordered Kerchak to use another Razor Leaf, hoping to score another critical hit. It didn't happen this time, the Razor Leaf just doing normal damage this time around. Sapphire watched with baited breath as the battle unfolded. She was expecting a complete walkover and yet Emerald was actually doing pretty well against this experienced trainer! Maybe she'd been wrong to underestimate her sister.


"Grookey, use Focus Energy!" Paul commanded.


Grookey stood still for a moment and closed his eyes. He then took a deep breath and began to concentrate really hard. Emerald wasn't sure what was happening but Sapphire did. She'd read plenty about Pokémon attacks and knew what most of them did.


"Emerald, Focus Energy increases a Pokémon's critical hit ratio!" Sapphire explained, "Paul's Grookey now has more of a chance of landing a critical hit on you!"


"That's going to be bad for us!" Emerald said worriedly, "But maybe I can stop Paul from using it again. Kerchak, use Taunt!"


Kerchak did just that, launching into a Taunt that ended up irritating Paul's Grookey so much that he gritted his teeth and frowned at his opponent. Paul could see what Emerald was planning. Taunt was a move that stopped the opponent from using status moves. They could only use attacking moves for a while. That was very clever of Emerald to do as it meant he couldn't use another Focus Energy or Screech to benefit his situation. He just had to hope that the increased critical hit ratio would help him finish the fight as quickly as possible.


"Use Scratch!" the Sinnoh trainer cried.


Grookey scampered towards Kerchak, still mad from the taunting earlier. He pounced towards his opponent and scratched him hard across the face. Kerchak winced from the hit and grabbed his face to rub it better. Thanks to Focus Energy, Grookey had landed a critical hit and Kerchak's lowered Defences made it so he took an even bigger hit than usual. His health was getting low, but not too low to be worried about yet. Emerald decided to try and hope for another critical hit of her own by ordering Kerchak to use another Razor Leaf. Kerchak conjured up more leaves, waving his stick around as if he was a magician using his magic wand, and fired them at Grookey. The attack landed and just as Emerald hoped, it was another critical hit. Now both Grookeys were down to low health. Whoever landed the next blow could decide the fight here and now. Sapphire watched, her throat dry from anticipation. This battle was closer than she expected! Any of them could win this fight! Paul didn't look worried, his face blank as if he was sure he had this battle under control.


"Use Razor Leaf one more time!" Paul ordered.


Grookey obeyed and launched another Razor Leaf at his opponent. The leaves came hurling towards Kerchak and they cut into him hard, every leaf feeling more like being hit by a shower of daggers instead of leaves. Unfortunately for Emerald, Paul had successfully landed another critical hit. Razor Leaf plus Focus Energy meant a really increased chance of landing one so it was no surprise that Kerchak was on the receiving end of another critical hit. It was quite literally the finishing blow as Kerchak's health depleted and he staggered backwards, grunting from the attack. Then he collapsed onto his back, no energy left in him to carry on fighting. Emerald stared sadly at her first Pokémon and she knelt down beside him to see if he was alright. It was the first time since starting her journey that she'd lost a fight. Sapphire raised her hand to signal the end of the battle.


"Kerchak is unable to battle! Grookey wins! This fight goes to Paul!" Sapphire called, sounding disappointed to be announcing that.


Paul just shrugged casually as if this battle had been no big deal and that he'd expected this win. He recalled Grookey so he could rest for now and approached Emerald, who was cradling Kerchak gently in her arms.


"You have potential to be a strong trainer." Paul acknowledged, "Relying on scoring critical hits and using Taunt to stop my Grookey from using its status moves was clever thinking. You've got a lot to learn, but you put up a good fight regardless."


"Thank you Paul." Emerald said appreciatively, "And it was great getting a chance to fight you and see your strategy for myself! I'm going to train my Pokémon as much as possible so I can be as strong as you Paul! Maybe some other time, we can have a rematch and I'll beat you!"


"We'll see about that." Paul said with a dry smile.


He then turned and left with nothing more than a simple wave to his opponent. Emerald and Sapphire watched the purple-haired boy disappear further into the Wild Area. They both knew that they would be seeing him again as they continued their journeys. Now Paul had gone, Emerald saw to getting Kerchak back on his feet. She and Sapphire decided to set up camp so that Kerchak could get some rest. Emerald lay him down in her tent and let him sleep for now, softly stroking his head.


"You get a good rest now, my sweet little Grookey." the brunette girl said softly, "You fought very hard out there."


Kerchak nestled down on the blankets to make himself comfortable. Emerald smiled. She thought he looked cute when he was resting. Sapphire sat down beside her sister, running a hand through her hair.


"So that was Paul…he certainly hasn't lost his touch." she acknowledged, "I'm impressed you held your own as well as you did out there given his experience."


"I suppose being lucky runs in the family." Emerald said casually, "Ruby was a rookie once and she became the Champion on her first try. Maybe next time I face Paul, I'll beat him."


"I get a feeling he's just given you a whole new motivation on this journey." Sapphire joked.


"Eh…maybe." Emerald said thoughtfully, "But competition's not what I'm all about, even if Paul's there. If I get competitive, then this adventure won't be as fun, and I'm not about to lose sight of that."


Sapphire nodded approvingly. She was glad Emerald wasn't losing sight of what she set out for as a Pokémon trainer. It would never do if she started getting overly competitive and forgetting to have fun on the way. Even when Ruby had lost her Gyarados to a wild Wobbuffet and had had to bench some of her Pokémon to recover from lost battles, she'd still remembered to have fun on her journey and had become the Champion without ever losing that sense of enjoyment. Not even the Darkest Day had stopped that for her.


Kerchak didn't take long to recover from his battle with Paul's Grookey. After a spray from a potion and an hour's nap, he was feeling much more like his old self again and ready to carry on through the Wild Area. He sat back on Emerald's shoulder as she left the tent and headed off to look for more Pokémon. Sapphire decided to stay behind and look after the tent for the time being, burying her nose in another book to pass the time. Once Emerald came back, she'd go and catch some Pokémon herself and let Emerald look after the tent.


The brunette girl couldn't keep the wonder out of her eyes as she walked through the Wild Area. Everything just looked so beautiful and peaceful in this place. She saw some Mudbray grazing contently on grass, beautiful Goldeen swimming in the lakes along with a sunbathing Lapras and a flock of Tranquils and Unfezants flying through the sky. It was incredible to see Pokémon just living in such harmony. She almost felt like a trespasser roaming through forbidden territory just walking through such a tranquil habitat like this. Even though she was here to catch Pokémon, Emerald liked the idea of just spending a few minutes enjoying the scenery. But then she found herself finding her first Wild Area Pokémon to catch.


She felt something bump against her leg and she looked down to see a small black-and-white Pokémon dancing about dopily. It looked up at her with large, round eyes.


"Oop! Sorry! I'm such a klutz! I'm never looking where I'm going when dancing around like so!" the Pokémon said in a female voice.


Emerald's eyes practically became a pair of love hearts as she realized what she was looking at. This Pokémon was a Pancham, originally discovered in the Kalos region not far off from Galar. Pancham resembled panda cubs, sporting a large, round, white head with small black ears, black spots around their eyes and small black bodies with stubby limbs and a round, puffy white tail. They also carried leaves in their mouths for no real reason other than a cosmetic attempt at looking cool. Pancham were Fighting type Pokémon, though one would associate them closer with being cute than being battle worthy upon first glance. It was when they evolved that they looked considerably less cute. Emerald picked up the Pancham.


"You. Are. SO CUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTE!" she squealed, "Gah, I've always wanted a Pancham! I'm so glad I found one!"


"Hee, hee, excitable one aren't you?" the Pancham said sweetly.


"I get that a lot." Emerald said sheepishly, "My name's Emerald and I'm a new Pokémon trainer. I'd absolutely love to have you, if you don't mind joining my team that is."


"Would I mind?" the Pancham snorted as if Emerald had asked a stupid question, "Course not! I live for adventure and I hear Pokémon who go with trainers get plenty of that! I also get to dance for someone instead of just to amuse myself for a change!"


"You really like dancing, I take it?" Kerchak asked with interest.


"More than anything." the panda-like Pokémon said brightly, "Every time I dance, it's like life's truly shifting into gear for me. Nothing fills me with more joy than a happy little dance! Too bad I'm always bumping into things when I do so." she muttered, "I did mention I'm a klutz, right?"


"Yes you did." Emerald acknowledged, "But I don't care about that. You're too cute for me to care about that. Plus, I'm sure you'd be great in a Pokémon battle with those dancing moves." she added.


"Well dance fighting IS a thing, isn't it?" the Pancham pondered, "I bet I could pull that off."


"We'll have to give it a go." Emerald said, cradling the Pancham in her arms, "I'm glad you're up for joining my team. Now, what to call you…"


The teen trainer thought for a moment. If this Pancham had been a male, she'd have called it "Po" without question as she was very fond of the Kung Fu Panda movies. Did one of the films have a female panda? Yes, that was it! Emerald had just the name for this new Pokémon.


"I know. I'll call you Mei-Mei." she decided, "A cute name for a cute Pokémon I say. What do you think?"


"I think it makes me sound sweet and cuddly." Mei-Mei said graciously, "I love it! I hope I'll be a great Pokémon for you, Emerald!"


"I know you will be, sweetie." Emerald said kindly.


Mei-Mei was but one of many new Pokémon that Emerald was going to catch in this area. As she headed towards the Rolling Fields section of the Wild Area, her next encounter came in the form of a Pokémon that rather coincidentally happened to be of a species that the very trainer she'd lost to owned. It was a Ninjask, a large cicada like Pokémon originating from the Hoenn region. It was black and gold in colour with red eyes, large fast beating wings with red tips and long insectoid arms with yellow claws. Emerald was excited to see this kind of Pokémon.


"Ooooh, a Ninjask! Sweet!" she piped, "I remember Paul using one in his fight with Ash. I never knew a Pokémon could be so fast! Imagine if I had a speedy Pokémon in my team…"


It was true. Ninjask were among some of the fastest Pokémon in the world, certainly ranking as the fastest Bug-type Pokémon and their special ability, Speed Boost, had their speed increase even more at the end of each turn. With such a fast Pokémon, Emerald knew she'd win a lot of battles. She even wondered how Paul would react seeing her use a Pokémon he himself had used before. She approached the Ninjask but it spotted her immediately and pointed sharply at her.


"Stop right there!" it yelled, speaking in a deep, female voice that made it sound more masculine than most female Pokémon, "What are you doing here, intruder?"


Emerald held her hands up hastily.


"Easy there, I'm just a new trainer hoping to catch some Pokémon." the teen trainer said quickly, "I was hoping you'd join the team."


The Ninjask lowered its arm and nodded.


"I see. Well miss, I don't just join any trainer." the Bug Pokémon said, "I only join those that I deem worthy. I'm a Pokémon of high standards and only those that defeat me in combat will I swear my fealty to."


"I understand, duels of honour and all that?" Emerald inquired, "OK then, I'll happily see if I can defeat you. I'll try not to hurt you too much, OK?"


"Don't hold back. I want to see your TRUE strength, trainer!" the Ninjask dared.


Emerald was aghast. Never had she thought she'd be in a position where a Pokémon WANTED her to go all out! Regardless, she still didn't want to hurt it too much so she'd try and end the battle as quickly as possible so the Ninjask wouldn't have to suffer much. She took a moment to consider which Pokémon to use. Kerchak would be a bad choice as Grass Pokémon were weak against Bug Pokémon. Mei-Mei wouldn't fare any better as Ninjask were part Flying type and Fighting types were weak to those. Misty might hold her own but Ninjask was a Stage 2 Pokémon and Rookidee were Stage 1 so the Ninjask would be stronger by default. She proposed that Flaps would be the best choice in the matter. True he would be weak against any Flying attacks the Ninjask might know but Flaps also knew a Flying attack. If she was lucky, he'd be able to weaken the Ninjask enough for capture. She whipped out Flaps' Pokéball and threw it. The dazzling Butterfree flapped his wings eagerly, excited at the fact he was going to have a battle. The Ninjask hovered, sizing her opponent up and waiting to battle. Kerchak and Mei-Mei stood behind their trainer, anxious to see who would win this battle.


The Ninjask acted first, zooming towards Flaps at unbelievable speed. Emerald knew she would land the first blow given how fast Ninjask could move. In the blink of an eye, she sliced at Flaps and brought him down to the ground with an Aerial Ace attack. It was a Flying-type move that never missed so it was a good attack to start with. Flaps grimaced and shook his head as he picked himself up. The attack had hurt but he wasn't down yet. He flew back up off the ground and retaliated with a Gust attack on Emerald's command. He flapped his wings furiously, pounding the Ninjask with torrents of wind that felt too much for her to handle. It was like a mini tornado had started and was battering her mercilessly! But the Ninjask wasn't going down that easily. Raising her arms, she flew towards Flaps again and sliced at him with a Fury Cutter attack. It was a Bug type move that increased in power the more times it was used. As Flaps winced from the attack, the Ninjask banked sharply and hit him again with another Fury Cutter. Emerald could see that if this speedy foe kept landing blows, Flaps would be overwhelmed. If only she could slow her down and leave her vulnerable! Wait a minute…what was it that Caterpie were capable of doing? Emerald snapped her fingers.


"I've got it! Flaps, use String Shot!" she ordered.


Flaps obeyed, spraying silky string at the Ninjask and bringing her speed down a few notches. Flaps still knew String Shot from his previous life as a Caterpie and it was going to turn this battle into his favour for the Ninjask was a little slower with the silky string wrapped around her body. Her wings wouldn't beat as fast and she tried to get the string off. Seizing his chance, Flaps hit her with another Gust attack. The Ninjask was too slow to react and was hit by the Gust, thrown back and sent crashing to the ground like a falling stone. As soon as the Ninjask was downed, Emerald whipped out an empty Pokéball and threw it. The ball absorbed the Ninjask and closed shut. The girl in green waited with baited breath as the Ninjask tried to break free. Had she weakened it enough for a capture? The ball seemed to shake for ages before it finally…stopped. A satisfying ping sound let Emerald know the catch was a success. She scooped up the ball happily.


"Hooray! I caught it!" she cried excitedly, "Well done Flaps, you really held your own out there!"


"Phew…it was quite a match." Flaps panted, "It certainly took a lot outta me…"


"You get some rest for now, mate." Emerald said, returning Flaps to his Pokéball, "You sure earned it."


She looked at the Pokéball that she'd used to catch the Ninjask with.


"As for you, I know just what to call you." she declared, "You're the "Ninja Pokémon" so how appropriate is it that I should call you something ninja related? Given how sharp your claws look, I think "Katana" would suit you well."


She summoned Katana out of her Pokéball. The Ninjask just bowed in respect to her trainer, happy to acknowledge her victory.


"You have fought well using strategy and great power. I am therefore yours now." she said, "May I serve you well, mistress."


"Oh no, don't call me mistress! I don't want you to think of me as your master!" Emerald protested, "I'd prefer to be seen as your friend instead!"


"Friend…I've never really had one of those." Katana mused, "I'm not sure I know how to make friends."


"I can help with that!" Emerald said cheerfully, "And so will my other Pokémon!"


"We sure will." Kerchak agreed, "We hope you'll be our friend, Katana."


Katana thought for a moment.


"I suppose it'd be interesting to try out…" she suggested, "I always saw people as just challengers or opponents to face. It'd be nice to have a "friend" for a change…"


Emerald beamed, glad that Katana was up for giving friendship a go. It was a lot better than the Bug Pokémon seeing her as her master after all. Now she'd caught herself a Ninjask, she set off to see what else she could find in this huge wildlife sanctuary. It didn't take her long to find another Pokémon as she came by one of the lakes. This one was a Tympole, a Water-type Pokémon from the Unova region that was often considered that region's version of the popular Poliwag species. Tympole resembled a tadpole, its face tan and its spherical body black. It had no limbs, only a fan-shaped tail for swimming with two black-and-blue ringed spheres on either side of its head. Tympole were known for creating high-pitched sounds that humans and Pokémon couldn't hear as a way of communicating with each other, especially when warning others of danger. Despite being a Water-type Pokémon, Tympole could sometimes be found on land as they were amphibious creatures. This one was on land now, hiding in the tall grasses by the lake.


"Hello there, little Tympole!" Emerald said sweetly, kneeling down to greet the limbless, tadpole like creature, "What are you doing out here? I thought you guys lived in the water?"


"We do, but sometimes we come out onto the land." the Tympole said, its voice indicating it was yet another female Emerald had come across, "I was just taking a break after some hard swimming training earlier."


"Why are you by yourself?" Kerchak asked, hopping off of Emerald's shoulder to greet the Tympole himself, "From what I know of you guys, you usually swim in schools. Are you lost?"


"It's worse than that." the Tympole said solemnly, "I've been abandoned by my school, cruelly cast aside by them and left to fend for myself."


Her small eyes looked down at the grass glumly. Emerald and her Pokémon gasped in shock. How could anyone, person or Pokémon, be so cruel as to just abandon members of their family, group or whatever social circle they were a part of?


"You were abandoned?" Mei-Mei cried in disgust, "That's horrible! Why did your school do that?!"


"They saw me as like the runt-of-the-litter." the Tympole explained, "They always taunted me on how I couldn't swim or make the right noises. I was always struggling to keep up with them and always hitting the wrong notes with my vocalizations so they just kicked me out and left me behind. The last thing they ever told me was that I was never going to amount to anything and that no Tympole school would ever accept me. I've been very lonely ever since then…"


She looked away sadly as if about to cry. The heart-breaking story made Emerald and her Pokémon feel like crying themselves. Even the stoic Katana couldn't help but feel sorry for the little Pokémon. It was shocking to think anyone could be so heartless as to coldly reject someone and just abandon them like this. It made sense why this Tympole seemed to devote so much time to swimming practice, she wanted to prove that she could be worth something after all and be a good swimmer. Emerald picked up the Tympole and held her up close. This was a Pokémon that craved affection and she wanted to take it with her. She knew that she and her team would fix this Tympole's broken heart with their kindness and willingness to take others in. Emerald ran a finger over the Tympole's head softly.


"You don't have to be alone anymore, sweetie." she said kindly, "You can be friends with all of us. We'll be the company your school never was!"


The Tympole stared at the human girl in astonishment.


"Y-y-you mean…y-y-you want to…take me with you?!" she gasped.


"Absolutely!" Emerald said happily, "I'm not going to leave you here by yourself! I want to give you the love and affection your school never gave you and show them you ARE worth something after all! If you come with me, you'll be loved and accepted by all of us."


The Tympole was so grateful for Emerald's kindness that she nuzzled against her cheek, making her giggle. To have a real friend and to be part of a loving social circle again was enough to make her feel like bursting. Now she wouldn't be lonely anymore. Choosing a name wasn't hard as Emerald decided to just call her "Blue", owing to the blue on her body and the fact its evolved form, Palpitoad and Seismitoad, were predominantly blue in colour. While Blue was with her, she'd show her old school how wrong they were and that she would be a great swimmer, and also a great fighter too. Blue wasn't so sure about being a fighter but she thought she'd give it a try. It may even be an undiscovered talent she had just waiting to be realized.


Just as Emerald was about to call it a day and return to the campsite, she heard a cry of help. Turning around, she gasped in horror as she another Pokémon was nearby, and in a perilous situation. It was a Vulpix, a Fire-type Pokémon originating from the Kanto region. Vulpix were fox-like Pokémon with red-brown fur, pointy ears, curled orange bangs and six curled up tails. They were very popular with trainers for being very cute in appearance and for also having a very attractive evolved form when they became Ninetales. This Vulpix was clinging on for dear life to a nearby cliff face that overlooked the lake that Emerald had just met Blue near. It was slipping, coming dangerously close to falling into the water. It scrambled furiously but every attempt to climb back onto the cliff just resulted in pieces of dirt breaking away and tumbling down into the lake. Eventually, it couldn't hold on any longer and fell into the lake with a splash! Emerald gasped.


"Oh no! That poor Vulpix will drown!" she cried worriedly, "I've got to save it!"


Before anyone could ask how she was going to do so, Emerald slipped off her hoodie, hat and boots and dived into the water. Kerchak, Blue, Mei-Mei and Katana were left on the bank watching her as she swam frantically towards the drowning Vulpix. As it was a Fire-type, it wouldn't last long flailing wildly in a lake. The water was cold and if that didn't kill the poor Vulpix, then a hungry Gyarados lurking deep down might! Emerald made her way effortlessly over to the Vulpix, the poor fox trying desperately to keep its head above the water with its front paws scrabbling helplessly. It would go under any minute. Emerald reached it just before it could submerge fully and she grabbed hold of it. She spent a moment treading water with her feet as she held the Vulpix above the surface to keep its head from going under.


"It's OK! I've got you! You're going to be OK!" Emerald insisted, trying to keep the Vulpix as calm as possible.


She then tried to swim back to shore with one arm wrapped around the Vulpix and the other free to make her way back across. But trying to swim while holding onto a Pokémon was no easy feat. It was much harder trying to swim with one hand and Emerald found herself going almost under a few times. If the Vulpix had hands to grab on with, she'd just ask it to cling onto her shoulder to give her both hands to use but it didn't. Its paws would be no good for hanging on with. Blue could see that Emerald was struggling so she jumped into the lake and swam towards her, her tail flapping furiously as she propelled herself forwards. She reached Emerald in a matter of seconds and the newbie trainer grabbed onto Blue with her free hand.


"Hold on! I'll try and pull you both to shore!" Blue cried.


She flapped her tail as hard as she could. Emerald held on, still clutching the Vulpix with her other hand and keeping it draped over her shoulder so it wouldn't submerge. Unfortunately, Blue wasn't much help. Tympole were very small Pokémon and the combined weight of Emerald and the Vulpix didn't exactly help her case. They were too heavy and Blue was struggling to make her way across. Katana could see this and so she buzzed out over the lake and flew behind Emerald. She wouldn't be able to carry her trainer but she could give Blue a helping hand. She placed her arms on Emerald's shoulders and pushed, flapping her large wings as hard as she could. Emerald tried not to let the loud buzzing bother her as it cut through her ears. With Blue pulling and Katana pushing, the two Pokémon gradually began to help Emerald and the Vulpix get back to shore. Kerchak and Mei-Mei stood watching on the side-lines, praying that they would make it back safely. In a matter of minutes, the two Pokémon brought Emerald back to shore and she scrambled out of the lake, the Vulpix still draped over her shoulder. It was coughing and spluttering heavily, soaked right through but otherwise alive. Emerald sat on the bank hugging the Vulpix, hoping she could get some warmth into it despite being cold herself. Her clothes were soaked right through, hugging tight against her body, her hair was drenched and she was barefoot. Now was definitely a good time to head back to camp and dry off. It seemed that Sapphire had somehow seen what had happened for next thing Emerald knew, her sister was running towards her with a towel in hand.


"What happened? You're soaking wet, Em! Did you fall into the lake or something?" the purple-eyed teen shrieked.


"N-no, I d-dived in t-to save th-this Vulpix." Emerald shivered, "It f-fell in and I d-dived in to s-save it f-from drowning."


Sapphire saw the Vulpix in her sister's arms, the vulpine Pokémon shivering just as Emerald was.


"Oh bless you, you little hero!" Sapphire cried, "We best get you two something warm to eat and dry you both off before you catch a cold!"


She draped the towel over Emerald and quickly led her back to the tent while Kerchak and Mei-Mei carried back her hoodie, hat and boots. Once everyone got back to the campsite, Emerald was bundled up in blankets and made to lie in the tent to warm up. She wrapped the Vulpix up in a blanket and held it close to her chest. She stroked its head softly, hoping to give it some comfort despite its shivering. The Vulpix would need a lot of warming up as Fire-type Pokémon had much higher body temperatures than other Pokémon so she knew she would need to keep it wrapped up for a while. To help the two get their strength back, Sapphire set down to whipping up a steaming hot curry for her sister and the rescued Vulpix to eat. Like Ruby, she'd learned how to make curries at a young age as many people in Galar did and she had some ingredients to make something truly warming and delicious.


While she'd been looking after the tent, Sapphire had been approached by a camper selling curry ingredients and she'd bought a few items, namely a pack of sausages, a wheel of Moomoo Cheese, a tub of pasta and some leek. While the pot was warming up, she picked some berries from the nearby trees, deliberately going for ones with a spicy flavour for extra warmth, and came back to add them to the curry. She'd decided to make a sausage curry as Emerald loved sausages and she thought the Vulpix would love it too. The delicious scent that drifted from the pot made Emerald forget about the cold. The Vulpix's nose twitched with interest. It had never smelt anything so scrumptious before. Once the curry was cooked, Sapphire dished it out for Emerald and the Vulpix and Emerald spooned some into her mouth without even waiting to blow on it first. The spicy taste came as a godsend to her, warming her up instantly. Once she ate up her dish of curry, Sapphire gave her a second helping to give to the Vulpix. Emerald spooned a portion up and held it in front of the Vulpix's mouth. She looked like a mother feeding her baby.


"Eat up. It'll make you feel better." Emerald said softly.


The Vulpix took the food and ate it up greedily. The little fox Pokémon already felt a lot better after that one spoonful. Emerald fed it some more. The Vulpix ate it up and then looked up at Emerald with its large, adorable brown eyes in gratitude.


"Th-thank you so much." it said, speaking in a soft, gentle voice that made it sound like the sweetest Pokémon one could ever meet, "Y-you r-really saved my l-life today."


"I couldn't just let an innocent Pokémon drown." Emerald said kindly, "It was my pleasure diving in to help you. Why was you near that clifftop anyway?"


"I was playing with other Vulpix and while we were playing, I rolled over and over until I was separated from them and I couldn't stop in time so I took that tumble as you saw." the Vulpix explained, "I was so scared! I thought I was going to die! But then you, a kindly human, came to my rescue! I can't thank you enough. I never knew humans could be so kind."


"We humans are capable of a LOT of kindness, sweetheart." Emerald said proudly, "For me and my family, kindness comes as natural to us as breathing, or so we like to say."


"I'm so lucky you were there, miss." the Vulpix said graciously, "Thank you again, you and your Pokémon."


Katana bowed modestly while Blue just smiled shyly. They had been watching the two, hoping the Vulpix was alright after that dip in the lake. They were glad their rescue attempt hadn't been in vain.


"As a token of my gratitude," the vixen Pokémon continued, "May I join you? I would love to be a Pokémon partner for such a kind and generous human."


Emerald had already been planning on adding the Vulpix to her team. As she already had six Pokémon on her, she'd need to exchange one to make room for her, but that would be OK. All trainers were given a Pokémon Box Link as a quick way to store Pokémon and draw out others and it could be done without the need of a PC so Emerald would have room for the Vulpix. She was really touched by the fact she had asked to join her without needing any prompting from her. Emerald stroked the Vulpix's head tenderly.


"I'd LOVE to have you on the team." she declared, "Something as cute as you will always be welcome with me. Glad to have you joining us, Vixey."


"Oh, are you giving me a name?" Vixey asked with interest, "I did hear that some trainers do that. Why Vixey?"


"It's from one of my favourite movies." Emerald explained, "I'm a big fan of The Fox and the Hound and there's a female fox named Vixey in that film so I thought it'd suit you."


Vixey smiled contently. Vixey it would be for her, a nice name for a cute Pokémon like herself. Emerald fed the little Vulpix the rest of the curry and then lay her down on her side so she could get some sleep. Vixey curled up in her blankets and snoozed peacefully on the tent floor. When she woke up, she'd be feeling much more like her old self again and ready to shoot another flame. Sapphire peeked into the tent to see how Emerald and Vixey were doing. She awed at the sight of the sleeping Vulpix.


"Aww, it's so cute when it's sleeping!" she cooed.


"Too right." Emerald agreed, "Thanks for the curry Sapph, I think it did us both some good."


"No problem." Sapphire said kindly, "You know, Ruby would be so proud to hear what a brave thing you've done today. Diving in to save that Vulpix was what she would've done too, and me."


"I was never going to let her drown." Emerald replied, "I'd have felt awful if I couldn't have saved her. I bet when she feels better, Vixey will be ready for a Pokémon battle."


"She will." Sapphire agreed, "But I think it'll be best to let her rest for the day. She'll have plenty of time to recover if we give her until tomorrow. In the meantime, I was going to catch some Pokémon of my own but I think it'll be best if I stay with you for the rest of the day. I'll go catching Pokémon tomorrow instead."


"You don't have to wait Sapph, you can go on ahead and go nuts." Emerald insisted, "We'll be fine here by ourselves. I feel much better and my other Pokémon can keep an eye on me."


But Sapphire wouldn't budge. She just wanted to stay close to her sister after what had happened and didn't fancy the idea of leaving her behind on her own while she was looking after a recovering Vulpix. So the rest of the day was spent just relaxing in the tent together. As they lay together, Emerald got her Rotom phone out and had it play a podcast for her and Sapphire to listen to. It was simply known as The Pokécast and it was a very popular podcast for trainers to listen to. The host, Penny Chalmers, specialized in the latest news in the world of Pokémon, facts and trivia and getting interviews with some of the biggest names in the sport. Her latest episode included an interview with Cynthia, the current Champion of the Sinnoh region. It was fascinating for the twins to listen to the interview, especially when it was a Champion being interviewed. They already imagined what it would be like if Ruby and Cynthia ever had a Pokémon battle together. THAT would be a match to watch! What especially caught their attention was what Penny had to say at the end of the episode.


"Stay tuned, Pokécasters for in my next episode, I'll be welcoming the current Champion of the Galar region, Ruby Silverlock, and Professor Sonia, into the booth to talk about how they came to the discoveri