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Emerald Knights: A Pokémon Sword Story: Chapter 5

Chapter 5: In the Galar Mine

Emerald had almost forgotten how quiet the world could be once the opening ceremony had concluded and she and Sapphire were on their way out of Motostoke towards Turffield. After the general din of Motostoke Stadium with the constant noise of the audience and the music playing on the speakers, the outside seemed to have no noise by comparison. Sapphire joked that they might've gone deaf after all that noise.

The weather was still lovely outside, the sun shining brightly through pure white clouds that floated through the sky. It was the perfect kind of weather to be walking to Turffield in. As the sisters made their way towards Route 3, they chatted about the ceremony.

"I tell you something Sapph, seeing all the Gym Leaders in person was amazing!" Emerald piped, "A lot of them are even bigger than I imagined!"

"I never thought we'd ever get to see big name trainers like that for real." Sapphire agreed, "But that's nothing compared to the Gyms we'll be visiting when we not only get to meet them, but FIGHT them too. I really can't wait to battle any of them!"

"I'm glad we got a Sword pass." Emerald added, "Gordie's my favourite of the Gym Leaders so getting to battle him will be really fun!"

"True, seeing him do his fabulous backflips always did liven up his matches." Sapphire chuckled, "When we reach Hulbury, I doubt I'll be able to concentrate on the match with Nessa opposite me…"

She blushed just thinking about it. How ANYONE could concentrate on battling the famous model when she stood opposite them clad only in swimwear was a mystery to her!

"Careful Sapph, I think you'll make Ashley jealous." Emerald teased.

"Shut up, you! We're not even a thing yet so she's got nothing to be jealous of!" Sapphire retorted, her face turning redder.

"I noticed you said "yet", Sapph. I guess you really are hoping you and Ashley can be a couple." the brunette girl taunted.

"Seriously Em, knock it off! It's not funny!" the blue-haired sibling snapped, "Why do you always have to tease people about who they fancy?"

"I don't really have a reason, I just think it's fun." Emerald said meekly.

"Well just wait until you get a boyfriend." Sapphire muttered, rolling her eyes, "Speaking of Ashley, I bet she and Paul are already at the Galar mine by now."

Emerald nodded. Their rivals hadn't stuck around for long after the ceremony. Paul didn't even bid anyone goodbye, just walking through the door and heading out before anyone else did. Ashley had at least been more courteous, waving bye to several trainers as she left, though she might've just wanted to get out quick before any of her fans could throw themselves at her.

"Experienced trainers like them will want to stay as far ahead of the competition as possible." Emerald said thoughtfully, "That'll include not sticking in one place for long. We can just move along in our own time though. We're newbies so we can spend as much time as possible honing our skills for the Gym Challenge."

"Yes, and training is just what I'm up for." Sapphire agreed, "Fancy another training match with me to start off?"

Emerald didn't hesitate for one minute.

"Sure thing!" she said brightly, "We can help each other out in this case. Who knows, maybe you'll win this time and James Pond can feel better about himself."

"Just what I was hoping." Sapphire concurred, "Do you mind if you use Kerchak for the match? Yes, I know, you have a type advantage and all, but as we saw yesterday, it didn't stop Ashley against me. I want to see if I can win in spite of type advantages."

The bubbly sibling was interested in Sapphire's request. She supposed that it was a good idea to train in this way. If a Pokémon could be trained to battle against a Pokémon it was normally weak against and win, it would make her sister an unpredictable opponent. It would also show that Pokémon could win in more ways than just type-advantage.

"I know Ruby would love to see that kind of thinking." Emerald said brightly, "Thinking outside the box always makes for some interesting Pokémon battles."

"Too true. Why do you think Ash is so popular with many trainers?" Sapphire noted.

Emerald agreed. The famous Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town was particularly known for his unorthodox battle style and unpredictable strategies. His battles tended to be her favourite to watch because of this. Emerald and Sapphire took up their positions and drew out their Pokéballs. They were immediately brought back to the day after their birthdays as this is where it all began, a friendly match between them. This one was going to be interesting as now they'd built themselves up a bit since then and their Pokémon had learnt more moves, they'd have a lot more to play with this time around. The twins summoned their Pokémon, Kerchak and James Pond materializing in front of each other. They knew that they were going to be doing some training today but they hadn't expected they'd be battling each other again. Kerchak was ready to go whereas James looked anxious. He remembered losing to Kerchak the other day and wasn't sure he'd be able to beat him this time. He didn't want to disappoint his trainer so he readied himself for battle. He would make up for yesterday's defeat, even if he fainted trying!

"If you're ready, let's go!" Emerald cried.

"Absolutely." Sapphire declared, "James, use Growl!"

James obeyed, growling loudly at Kerchak to lower his attack. Emerald frowned. Couldn't Kerchak go through ONE bleeding battle without his attack being lowered?! One of these days, he'd be able to fight at full strength! She refused to let that deter her so she gave a command in response.

"You won't do that again! Use Taunt!"

Kerchak obeyed, taunting James mercilessly so that he couldn't use status moves again. Sapphire was pleased to see Emerald hadn't forgotten her strategy from her battle with Paul the day before. She maybe a little kooky and a right fun-loving nutter at times, but she was really proving to be a smart battler. She wondered if anyone would be foolish enough to underestimate her sister in this year's competition. Sapphire was still sure she could win regardless of no longer being able to use status moves.

"We'll just have to use all the attacks we have, James. Use Water Pulse!" the teen trainer commanded.

James was confused. Surely his trainer knew that Water Pulse wasn't very effective against Grass types! Then again, Water Pulse had the side-effect of confusing the opponent when it hit. Maybe that was her strategy. James opened his mouth and fired a watery pulse at Kerchak. The move hit, splashing him and drenching his fur but otherwise doing nothing else to him. Kerchak shook himself dry and twirled his stick around in his paws.

"Thanks, I needed that shower." he taunted.

"Ha! Funny!" Emerald giggled, "Now use Razor Leaf, Kerchak!"

Kerchak swiped his stick through the air and sent razor-sharp leaves hurling towards his chameleon like opponent. The leaves came towards him like missiles, threatening to cut him up if they made contact. Sapphire ordered James to dodge the attack and he did so. The leaves missed him by inches as he leapt to one side. Sapphire then ordered her Pokémon to use Water Pulse a second time. James hit Kerchak with the attack but again, nothing else happened aside from getting him wet. Sapphire frowned. Water Pulse wasn't always guaranteed to confuse the opponent so she couldn't always rely on it straight away. She'd have to use other attacks to avoid the risk of not being able to take her opponent down quickly enough. Kerchak retaliated by using Branch Poke. He jabbed James hard in the gut with his stick, winding him and knocking him back. His lowered attack meant it didn't hit as hard as he could've done but it was a super-effective blow so it was still a hard hitting move. James winced and rubbed his stomach with his spindly forelegs. The twins then commanded their Pokémon to use Scratch and Pound respectively. The monkey and chameleon Pokémon charged towards each other and lashed out, their attacks making contact with each other. They stood where they were, limbs crossed and pushing against each other. They looked like a pair of duellists crossing swords with each other. Despite James's spindly limbs, he showed surprising strength as Kerchak couldn't overpower him. They were both even in terms of physical strength as neither one could push the other back. They grunted, gritting their teeth in concentration. The twins were astonished.

"Look at that! They're pretty even!" Emerald gasped.

"Such strength from Pokémon so small…it's incredible!" Sapphire blurted.

But that wasn't the only incredible thing about the battle. To the twin's surprise…both their Pokémon started to glow! They watched open-mouthed in awe as the one thing they hadn't expected to happen was now happening. Kerchak and James were evolving! The two grew in size and changed shape as they evolved into their new appearances. Kerchak was now a Thwackey and James Pond had become a Drizzile.

Thwackey was a light-green monkey-like Pokémon that stood on two legs all the time unlike before and now carried two sticks instead of one. When removing the sticks from its "hair", the hair sprang up in the shake of a Mohawk, which looked more like it had three leaves sprouting from its head. Its ears, arms and tail were dark brown in colour and it had dark green bands around its wrists. It was a Pokémon that loved stirring up a rhythm with its drumming, using its stick to create fast-paced rhythms that often got everyone dancing.

Drizzile was a chameleon-like Pokémon that was bipedal in stance unlike its previous form and sported three leathery fins on its head, one purple and two blue with one of the blue fins sticking up. It had green hands and feet, the hands with two fingers and the feet with two toes, blue cheek markings and a coiled up tail like before. It was said to be a very intelligent Pokémon that was also extraordinarily lazy, preferring to set traps everywhere to keep enemies out of its territory.

Kerchak and James stopped fighting for a moment to take a good look at themselves. They were amazed at what had happened and could hardly believe their eyes.

"G-g-goodness gracious!" James stammered, "I have hands now! And I suddenly feel much taller and stronger than before…"

"Same here! I feel like I could punch a Boldore halfway across Galar!" Kerchak cried, flexing his new arms, "And I have another stick too! Bet I could drum up a beat with these!"

"By Arceus, I didn't think we'd trained you that well!" Emerald cried happily, "Both of you have evolved! That's amazing!"

"And in the middle of a fighter too! Just wait til Ruby hears this!" Sapphire exclaimed, "Congratulations to both of you!"

"Thank you!" the newly evolved Pokémon said graciously.

"Let's see how awesome you are now!" Emerald said eagerly, "Kerchak, use Razor Leaf!"

Kerchak obeyed, drawing both his arms across his chest and swiping them out to the side. The leaves he sent hurling towards James Pond were much bigger than those he used as a Grookey. The leaves hit James and despite doing the damage, he didn't go down in a single hit. The Razor Leaf had done normal damage instead of landing a critical hit, luckily, and his newly evolved form had made him a little more endurable so he took the hit for now. Sapphire knew he wouldn't survive another blow so it was now or never. She had to go for broke and hope this next move counted.

"Use Water Pulse!" she commanded.

James fired the Water Pulse attack at Kerchak once more. Due to evolving, the attack felt much more powerful than before. It still barely hurt him though. However…it finally happened. After being hit by the attack, Kerchak suddenly started to feel dizzy. The world seemed to turn around him and everywhere seemed to be going topsy-turvy as he swayed on his feet. Emerald gasped as Kerchak looked around dopily.

"Heeeey, why can I see Nanab berries floating around me?" he slurred.

"Yes! Just what I was aiming for!" Sapphire cried triumphantly, "Kerchak's confused so this should turn things around in our favour, James! Let's wrap this battle up with another Pound!"

"I'm loving this new body already." James said with a smile as he ran towards Kerchak, "I seem so much stronger than before."

Now he had actual hands to pound his opponent with, he used them now to land the attack on his opponent. Kerchak spun away dizzily from the attack, still confused from the Water Pulse. James looked at his hands proudly. No wonder so many Pokémon were glad to get these when they evolved! Kerchak tried to shake off the pain but he was still suffering from confusion. He felt like his eyes wouldn't stop turning in their sockets. Emerald was worried. Could she still win despite the confusion? She had to try.

"We can still win Kerchak! Use Razor Leaf again!" she ordered.

Kerchak tried to do so, conjuring up the sharp leaves for the attack…but due to the confusion, he only ended up hurting himself in the process. He grimaced as his own leaves cut into him and he was brought down to his knees. Emerald sighed sadly, fearing that would happen. Now Kerchak was down for the moment, Sapphire took advantage by ordering James to use Pound again. James landed the hit, pounding Kerchak hard across the head with his new hands and sending him careening over onto his side. Kerchak lay there and didn't get up again. Sapphire and James took a moment to process what had happened. Against all odds…they'd managed to win! They'd proven it was possible to win with a type disadvantage after all! The two cheered, amazed with their victory.

"Ohmigosh, we actually did it, James! Well done, that was an awesome victory!" Sapphire cried happily.

Because James had hands now, the two were able to high-five each other in congratulations. Emerald just knelt down by Kerchak's side and patted his head softly. She didn't even care that she lost. It just meant the twins were even now with both of them scoring a win against the other. She was happier to have lost than won this match as she felt Sapphire deserved to have a win after yesterday. James in particular looked more confident in himself after evolving and winning the battle so at least he wouldn't be depressed anymore.

"Never mind Kerchak. We were just unlucky." Emerald said softly, "Besides, Sapph really needed a win like this so just be happy for her, OK?"

"I am." Kerchak replied "It wouldn't have been very fair if I kept winning all the time."

Emerald beamed. Her Pokémon were not only wonderful, but good sports too. She returned the newly evolved Pokémon to his Pokéball and she shook hands with Sapphire.

"You were awesome out there!" she complimented, "I took away your strategy with Kerchak's Taunt and you still came at me with everything you had. Using Water Pulse to confuse Kerchak was a great plan!"

"Eh, mostly." Sapphire said meekly, "Relying on chance isn't necessarily a great strategy but sometimes, luck is what wins a Pokémon battle. Still, I really enjoyed that fight, especially when our Pokémon evolved!"

"I know, that was the highlight of the whole thing!" Emerald cried, "I'll miss having Kerchak on my shoulder but at least he's still cute to me."

"Just wait until he becomes a Rillaboom. You'll be able to ride on HIS shoulder instead." Sapphire joked, "Thanks for the battle Em. Both me and James really feel recharged after that."

"Anytime!" Emerald said sweetly, hugging her sister, "I'm always happy to lift people up when they're down! Now let's make a quick trip to the Pokémon centre to let Kerchak and James rest up a bit and we can make our way over to the first Gym."

"I bet dad's in his flower shop waiting for us already." Sapphire said.

The twins headed back to Motostoke to use the Pokémon centre so their Pokémon could rest up after their hard-fought battle. After a great training match like this, the two sisters felt ready for anything, including the first Gym. They'd be heading there as soon as possible…


Kerchak and James didn't take long to recover from their battle. Only a couple of hours passed before they were back on their feet again and ready to continue adventuring with their trainers. While they were resting, Kerchak congratulated James on his well-earned victory and proving that type advantages weren't everything. James was flattered by the compliments and thanked him in response. Upon evolving, he felt like he was going to be much stronger than before and that he'd never have to worry about letting Sapphire down. He even strangely found himself looking forward to where they were going to go from here and what kind of battles would come next. Kerchak couldn't help but laugh. Evolving had certainly changed his friend in more ways than just appearance.

Once the two had recovered, Emerald and Sapphire returned the duo to their Pokéballs and resumed their trip over to Turffield. They only had Route 3, the Galar Mine and Route 4 to travel to and they would be there ready for their first Gym Battle. It made them feel tingly just thinking about it. In a matter of hours, they'd be at Turffield Stadium to challenge the first Gym! How had they gone from getting their starters to making their way over to the first Gym in only a matter of days? Emerald was already making plans for her Gym Battle.

"Milo's a Grass Gym Leader, right? So I'm best off bringing Vixey and Katana into the fight with me." she strategized, "Fire and Bug types are super-effective against Grass-types. Flying types are as well, so I should definitely bring Misty with me too, and maybe Flaps for back-up. Blue and Gemstone will have to sit this one out for obvious reasons. Mei-Mei? She's a Fighting type but if I desperately need her, she might be able to help out."

"It's good you're planning ahead Em." Sapphire said approvingly, "Ruby certainly did plenty of that herself in her Gym Challenge. But type-advantage won't mean instant success as even she lost a few Pokémon in some of her battles."

"I know." Emerald insisted, "But having a team of mostly type-advantages at least helps. How about you Sapph? Are you ready for a Grass Gym?"

"I only really have Elsa and Spike in terms of type-advantage." Sapphire replied, "Zao does know Pin Missile so that'll help too. Bolt will have to be support capacity while James…well, I best hope I find a TM for U-Turn anyway but I doubt anything that convenient will happen. Still, Spike's already a Stage 2 Pokémon so he should be strong enough to handle Milo's Grass-types. I think me and you should be fine in that Gym."

"We sure will!" Emerald agreed, "I know Ashley will be too. That Tepig of her's will no doubt steamroll Milo's Gym! As for Paul…who knows what else he has up his sleeve."

"Too true. Maybe if we're lucky, we might get to the Gym in time to see them in action as they're no doubt going to get there first." Sapphire wondered, "Heck, I'd be gobsmacked if they aren't there by now! Given their experiences, they won't need to train as much as…"

The girls were suddenly interrupted as something popped up from a patch of grass nearby. They jumped in alarm as a humanoid Pokémon looked back at them with curious red eyes. Sapphire smiled excitedly. This Pokémon was a Machop, one of her favourite Fighting-type Pokémon. Machop were small bluish-grey Pokémon with three brown ridges on their heads, thin rib-like stripes on either side of its chest, clearly defined muscles, toeless feet and a short stubby tail. Machop were extremely strong for their size, easily able to lift Graveller as just part of training exercises. Their muscles never got sore, tired or cramped so they could work out pretty much nonstop and keep themselves in extraordinary shape. Most people knew what a Machop was due to it being the first stage evolution of the powerful, four-armed Machamp, which so happened to be Bea's personal ace. Sapphire liked the idea of facing Bea with her own Machamp so she wanted to catch this Machop.

"I'm not letting this one go easily. I LOVE Machop!" she cried, "This will make a great addition to the team!"

Emerald watched with baited breath as Sapphire approached the Machop. Machop were scrappy Pokémon that enjoyed a good brawl so would this one come peacefully or try to fight her? If it was the latter, she at least had Misty who could help out as Flying types were super-effective against Fighting types. But as Sapphire approached the Machop, it didn't seem interested in fighting at all. It started to slowly creep away nervously. Sapphire could see it was anxious so she stopped approaching it.

"Is something wrong?" she asked curiously.

"N-nothing r-really, miss, I-I-I'm just n-not so u-used to humans, is all." the Machop said feebly.

To Sapphire's surprise, it spoke in a female voice. It was always strange to think what would normally be considered a masculine-looking Pokémon could also be female. It was also weird seeing a Pokémon known for loving a good brawl be so meek and timid. Pokémon were just like humans in the sense that they all had individual personalities, even some not usually associated with the species. Sapphire knelt down so as not to appear so big to the Machop. Emerald did the same, wondering if that would help too.

"It's OK, little girl." Sapphire said gently, "I won't hurt you. Me and my sister here are new trainers and I was hoping to add you to the team. I love Machop and I could do with a strong Fighting-type on the team."

The Machop looked flattered that Sapphire wanted her for her team.

"Y-you d-do?" she asked shyly, "I thought no t-trainer would e-ever want me. I'm just too t-timid to b-be of use t-to anyone. I-I'm not as b-brave as other Machop are. If I j-joined a Pokémon trainer, I thought I-I'd get stronger and b-braver, but nobody e-ever paid me any attention. They j-just walked on by and s-saw me as nothing w-worthwhile to them."

Sapphire frowned. It always sickened her how people could be so shallow when it came to Pokémon. Why did it matter if this poor Machop wasn't courageous? If anyone had bothered to put in the effort to take it in and train it, then it could get braver and show its true strength! She would certainly be that trainer to do so. She held out her hands as if inviting the Machop for a hug.

"I think you're worthwhile." Sapphire insisted, "I'll help you get brave so you can be strong like the other Machops. If you come with me, I'll give you all the best training you can ask for."

The Machop was so grateful that she ran into Sapphire's arms and embraced her. The blue-haired teen giggled and hugged her back.

"Thank you so much! Your generosity has really made my day." the Machop said happily.

"Think nothing of it." Sapphire said casually, "I think any Pokémon can be worthwhile no matter what. As for you…what do you think to the name "Matilda" as a name I can call you?"

"Why that name?" the Machop asked curiously.

"Because it's fitting for you. Matilda as a name actually means "strong", and Machop are strong Pokémon so it's perfect for you!" Sapphire explained brightly.

"I'm just reminded of a Roald Dahl book when I hear that name." Emerald joked.

"Very funny." Sapphire said sarcastically, "Don't mind my sister, she usually likes to joke but you'll love her as well."

Matilda smiled happily. She was glad that she was going to be a trainer's Pokémon at last. No more being timid and anxious of others! She would get strong and show those who ignored her that she was worthwhile after all!

For the rest of their walk through Route 3, Emerald and Sapphire let their Pokémon out to train for a while. After Kerchak's evolution earlier, Emerald was especially keen to see another Pokémon of her's evolve, even if she had no idea how long that would take. There was no telling how close anyone in her team was to evolving yet. Katana and Flaps of course were exempt from this as they were already fully evolved and Gemstone evolved through use of a Water Stone so no amount of training would get it to evolve. Emerald had Misty the Rookidee out for the moment, the little bird Pokémon sitting comfortably on her head. She was very careful not to damage Emerald's hat in anyway as she sat on it. At least now Emerald could trust her not to steal it like back in Route 2. After a few wild Pokémon encounters, Emerald came across a schoolboy named Peter. He was interested in having a Pokémon battle and he saw Emerald passing by so he challenged her. The brunette teen accepted with Sapphire refereeing the match like she did with her battle with Paul back in the Wild Area.

It was no contest whatsoever. Peter only had two Bug-type Pokémon, a Sizzlipede and a Dottler. Emerald had chosen to use Misty so naturally, she had the advantage and Misty was able to win effortlessly with only a couple of Pluck attacks. Peter was dismayed at the easy losses but he nevertheless thanked Emerald for sparing the time to battle him and he walked off to get his Pokémon somewhere to heal. Misty puffed her chest out, feeling very pleased with herself.

"This little bird is certainly proving to be a mighty force of nature!" she crowed.

"I'd say this little bird is proving to be mighty full of herself." Sapphire retorted, chuckling at Misty's ego.

"I think she's cute when she boasts." Emerald said casually, "I'm glad you feel so proud of yourself Misty. I know you're going to be a great battler when we get to the Gyms!"

"I'm glad you have so much confidence in me." Misty said thankfully, "So, when do we…"

And then she started to glow completely unexpectedly. Emerald and Sapphire watched, their eyes wide as they realized that they were witnessing another Pokémon evolution. Misty spread out her wings as her whole body began to change shape and grow in size. She was changing from a Rookidee into a Corvisquire. After the evolution process finished, no longer was Misty a small, round bird like Pokémon. As a Corvisquire, she'd gained a crow-like appearance with navy-coloured tail and dorsal feathers, blue-grey breast feathers and black feathers around the wing tips, ruff and face. She still had her red eyes and white patch rims underneath them. She was half the size of Emerald herself now, coming up to her stomach, and her wings were much bigger and more powerful than before. She looked over herself in awe.

"Wow, I'm a Corvisquire now!" she squawked, "Incredible! I feel like I could fly for miles and not get tired with wings like these!"

"Yippee! You've evolved as well!" Emerald cheered, hugging Misty gleefully, "I'm so proud of you Misty! You look amazing!"

"Just imagine bringing her into Milo's Gym now. A Stage 2 Flying type Pokémon will REALLY trim his hedges a little." Sapphire joked.

"Yeah, I might have to leave her out of this just so I'm not being too unfair on him." Emerald joked back, "Still, I couldn't be happier with you Misty. You'll be amazing as you are now and you'll win lots of battles as a Corvisquire."

"I can't wait until I become a Corviknight!" Misty chirped, flexing her wings, "I'll truly be amazing when I become one of those!"

Emerald agreed. Whenever she'd seen Hop's Pokémon, she'd always found his Corviknight to be an awesome Pokémon, both in looks and power. She was going to enjoy having her own to battle with when the time came for Misty to evolve a second time.


Eventually, the twins approached the Galar Mine. They remembered how Ruby had described her first time in the mine. It was where she had met her biggest rival, Bede, for the first time and their rivalry had only grown to the point he'd attempted to murder Ruby by leaving her tied up to a tree in Glimwood Tangle. Thankfully she'd been saved by her loyal Coalossal, Vesuvius, and Bede had been thrown into a juvenile centre ever since. At least neither Emerald nor Sapphire would meet him again in the mine. They were however interested to see what Pokémon they'd find in the mine. It was home to several species such as Timburr, Roggenrola, Carkoal, Diglett and Woobat.

The twins walked into the mine. Like Ruby before them, they were amazed to see that the mine was nowhere near as dark and drab as they'd expected. Gems sparkled in the walls and lights were flashing on the walls so anyone passing through the mine, be it trainer or worker, could see their way through. The girls had no idea that there were so many colourful gems that could be found in a simple mine like this one. They all looked so beautiful and shiny that Emerald was tempted to try taking some for herself. But she resisted the urge as the gems weren't for the public to just take for themselves. The last thing the twins wanted was to put the miners out of a job after all. They even passed by some of the working miners as they walked through the place, keeping mind not to distract them as they worked. The mine was filled with the sound of metal against rock as the miners swung their pickaxes to dig away at the walls and mine whatever valuables they could find. They saw a Carkoal race by them on the rail track systems that stretched through the mine.

"Everyone certainly works hard in a place like this." Emerald observed, "I wonder how much stuff the workers here dig up a day."

"Beats me." Sapphire said with a shrug, "Ruby wasn't kidding when she said this place is surprisingly beautiful for a mine. With all these colourful gems here, I'd almost think I was in a dragon's den from a fantasy story!"

"I only wish we could take some for ourselves. I bet we'd make a killer necklace out of them!" Emerald piped, imagining just how lovely those gems would look as one now.

"We'd certainly be big attention grabbers." Sapphire joked, "We'd probably even distract our opponents with those gems sparkling so much."

"Good thing we won't have any then. I wouldn't want to win my battles because my opponents are distracted." Emerald replied, "Winning unfairly doesn't give anyone any favours and doesn't exactly give a great example of a trainer's true skills."

Sapphire nodded. Cheating, she always believed, was a sign of weakness in a person and she would instantly hate anyone who relied on such tactics no matter what the situation was. The girls were about halfway through the mine before Emerald suddenly tripped over something. She fell flat onto her face and grunted. Sapphire helped her back up and brushed dirt and dust off her face.

"You alright?" she asked.

"Ungh, what happened? Did I fall over a stone or something?" Emerald asked, rubbing her nose.

The two turned and saw that it wasn't a stone at all. Instead, they were looking at one of the native Pokémon that called this mine its home. It was a Drilbur, a small mole-like Pokémon with a long white snout and pink nose, shovel-like arms, huge metal claws and black fur with jagged blue stripes across its body. It was a Ground-type, yet was surprisingly small for a Pokémon of this typing at only 0.3 metres tall. They were also Pokémon that were noted to be very friendly, even around humans despite most farmers disliking the species due to destruction of their crops they often caused. Drilbur had first been discovered in the Unova region and more sightings had been discovered in other regions. The Drilbur had been digging and popped up from underground just as Emerald had been walking by. It rubbed its head and looked up apologetically at the green-coloured girl.

"Oh I do beg your pardon, miss. I just came up at the wrong moment. Do excuse me tripping you up." the Drilbur said, speaking in a nasally, male voice.

"No worries, we really should watch out for diggers like you." Emerald said casually, "I hope I didn't hurt you when I tripped over you."

"And here I was worried if I'd hurt YOU instead." the Drilbur chuckled, "So sorry about that. I'll just be on my way now if you don't mind."

He was about to dig away but Emerald stopped him.

"Wait, don't go!" Emerald cried, "Please, I'd actually like it if you could come with me."

"You probably didn't notice, but we're Pokémon trainers." Sapphire explained, "And I imagine Em would love to have you on the team. I don't blame her as Drilbur are speedy Pokémon that can pack quite a punch."

The Drilbur blushed with pleasure.

"Oh g-gosh…y-you clearly think highly of u-us Drilburs." he said bashfully.

"I do." Emerald insisted, "I'd love to have a Pokémon like you as part of my roster. Ground types are awesome and with your kind of speed, I think I'll have a strong team member to enter many battles with!"

"Well I dunno about "strong team member" but I guess there's no harm in joining you." the Drilbur reasoned, "I bet it'll be fun to be a trainer's Pokémon."

He hopped out of his tunnel and Emerald picked him up. It amused her to no end that there were Pokémon that could be so big and yet Pokémon like this could be so small.

"Thank you, little guy! I promise that we'll be great friends." Emerald swore, "Now, what to call you?"

"I have a good idea." Sapphire put in, "How's about "Steelclaw"? They do gain the Steel-typing upon evolving into Excadrill and they have steel claws so I think it works."

"You watch way too much Transformers." Emerald teased, noticing how the name sounded like a name from the popular franchise, "But I'll take it anyway. Steelclaw does sound like a cool nickname for a Drilbur. What do you think little guy?" she asked, looking back to the Drilbur in her hands.

"I think it sounds like a powerful name." the Drilbur considered, "I like it. Steelclaw it is then."

Sapphire beamed in appreciation. Now Emerald had obtained yet another new Pokémon for her ever-growing team, she gave Steelclaw his own Pokéball to go in and because she already had six Pokémon on her at the moment, it was transported away into a box with Emerald's other spares. She would use the Pokémon Box Link to switch out others on her person if she needed to change her team up but for now, Steelclaw wouldn't be needed as a Ground-type wouldn't fare well in a Grass-type Gym. The two continued on their way, though they didn't get far.

Emerald turned a corner and bumped into someone. She was so startled that she cried out in alarm. She fell onto her bottom while the person she'd bumped into staggered back, dropping a whole bag full of mined gems onto the floor. The gems scattered everywhere, twinkling in the lights. The person Emerald had bumped into did not sound friendly.

"Oh for goodness sake, why don't you little brats watch where you're going?!" the person snapped angrily, "Look at the mess you've made!"

"I'm very sorry miss!" Emerald whimpered, "I didn't mean to bump into you, honest I…"

Her voice trailed off as she looked at the person and got a good look at her. Her expression changed from apologetic to anger for this wasn't any ordinary person she'd run into. It was Oleana, the ex-secretary of the Macro Cosmos Company and right-hand woman to Chairman Rose! She hadn't changed a bit from last year, still looking as stoic as ever, even if her face was showing clear frustration at what had happened. She was no longer in her formal attire that she wore when working for the Chairman, but in overalls and a reflector jacket like all the other miners were. The clothes didn't suit her one bit, though that wasn't Emerald's problem with her. She picked herself up, her eyes narrowed in hatred.

"Hey, I remember you! You're that woman who works for Mr. Rose!" she said, her voice dripping with venom.

Sapphire recoiled. It was so strange hearing Emerald talk to someone with so much anger in her voice! Emerald very rarely got mad so it always came as a surprise when it happened. She didn't blame her one bit for she was angry to see Oleana too.

"WORKED for Mr. Rose." Oleana corrected, sounding bitter upon admitting that fact, "I know impudent children don't usually pay attention to the news, but surely you at least know that he sacked me?"

"How could we forget?" Sapphire retorted, "Me and Emerald practically screamed ourselves hoarse at the TV when we heard why you was sacked."

"You tried to kidnap our sister!" Emerald scolded, "You deserved to be fired for that you horrible woman! Why aren't you in a prison cell where you belong?!"

"I'm doing community service, if you must know." Oleana sniffed, "And you're frankly just holding me up so when you're quite finished throwing a hissy fit, young lady, I have work to do."

"Oh no, you're not getting off THAT easily!" Emerald snarled, "I owe you a beating for trying to kidnap Ruby!"

"I try to kidnap ONE bloody child and the world refuses to let me forget about it…" Oleana sighed in annoyance, "I really don't have time for this. Run along now before I have to call the other miners to escort you out of here."

As she spoke, she rudely pinched the rim of Emerald's hat and pulled it down over her eyes. Sapphire shook her head nervously.

"Oh boy, you've done it now Oleana…" she sighed.

If there was one thing that nobody should do to Emerald, it was touch her hat without asking. And given this was a person that she didn't like, Oleana touching her hat just angered her even more. She pulled her hat back up and growled. Her eyes became literal pools of fire and the world seemed to turn red with rage as if she'd just joined the Red Lantern Corps. Emerald grabbed Oleana by the collar and jammed her face into her's.

"DON'T TOUCH MY HAT YOU CRETIN!" she roared at the top of her voice.

Oleana suddenly felt very nervous. Who knew this skinny, unassuming teenager could suddenly seem very threatening and like she could smash her face into the dirt?! Before anything else could happen, Sapphire grabbed Emerald by the collar and yanked her away hastily. The brunette girl was still flailing madly, desperate to flatten Oleana's head into the ground.

"Come on you, that's quite enough." Sapphire said quickly, "I think we've made our point clear enough. If Oleana dares to try kidnapping Ruby again, she'll VERY quickly regret it!"

She glared at Oleana as if to emphasize that last part. Oleana snorted. As if she'd be stupid enough to try kidnapping her again now she was the Champion of Galar! As Sapphire hauled the ranting and screaming Emerald away, Oleana got down on her knees to pick up all the gems she'd dropped thanks to bumping into her. Ever since she'd been fired by Chairman Rose, life hadn't been kind to her. Oleana had struggled to find a new job since her sacking and thanks to the fact everyone in Galar knew her as the woman who tried to kidnap the girl that went onto become the Champion, nobody wanted to give her the time of day. After the Chairman had turned himself in following the disastrous Project: Eternatus, she'd volunteered to do community service in the Galar Mine as a way of trying to make up to him by doing some good after what she'd done. If anything, Rose might appreciate her still looking out for him while he was behind bars. Also, she felt responsible for the failure of Project: Eternatus as she'd been working on it alongside the Chairman so her community service was as much to make up for that as her own poor actions last year.

But a year later, people still wouldn't let her hear the end of it. A lot of the workers in the mine even threatened that if she dared to try kidnapping any of THEIR kids, they'd call the police on her. Why couldn't these stupid people just move on already and accept that she wasn't ever going to do anything like that again?! She'd never admit it, but she had come to seriously regret her actions leading towards Project: Eternatus. Oleana had come to agree with the Chairman that she should've asked for Ruby's help instead of trying to kidnap her. Why had she been so stupid back then?! But the fact nobody seemed willing to let go of that day had come to make her resent the teenage Pokémon Champion. It even got to the point that hearing Ruby's name just pinched a nerve in her and now she felt like she wanted to claw the little brat's face off with her nails. If it wasn't bad enough that Ruby was the reason she got fired, she had to be the one to save Galar and become the bloody Champion too! She even blamed Ruby for the Chairman's incarceration. It couldn't be a coincidence how he just happened to turn himself in after confronting her back in the Hammerlocke Power Station.

If only she could get back at that girl! She'd at least be able to feel better about everyone giving her so much grief over that one incident that didn't even end with the kidnapping being successful. Of course, Oleana didn't want Ruby dead. That was WAY too extreme a revenge for her. Ruby deserved to be taken down a peg with her reputation ruined in some way. THAT would serve her right for being such a curse on her life this past year! But Oleana had come to accept that it would be pointless in the end. She couldn't beat her in a Pokémon battle last year and now Ruby was the Champion, what hope did she have of one-upping her? Also, she'd be pretty untouchable with her status as Champion. Despite revenge sounding good to her, Oleana eventually accepted that it was best not to try anything. It would be best to keep her reputation as it was now and not sink any lower.

As she finished gathering up the dropped gems, Oleana picked them up and was about to deliver them to one of the miners. But suddenly, her phone started to ring. She sighed in annoyance. It was probably the miner's boss with some more work for her to do. The ex-secretary answered the phone.

"Oleana speaking." she muttered.

But it wasn't the boss at all. She heard a completely different voice on the other end of the phone. Her eyes shifted suspiciously.

"Hello? Who is this?" Oleana demanded.

The voice explained. Or rather, voices as Oleana suddenly realized that it wasn't just one person answering. She appeared to be talking to two people at the same time. After they explained, Oleana snorted.

"If you're real famous celebrities, then I'm a Pancham's uncle." she dismissed, "And tell me your REAL names, I don't believe for one minute those names you've given are real."

She swore she could hear the voices fuming on their end. It was clear they didn't like to be insulted. She listened some more as they spoke again. At first, she'd been tempted to hang up on these so-called "celebrities" but as they went on, her face changed to that of keen interest. She bummed thoughtfully as they explained themselves and what they wanted.

"I'm listening…" Oleana purred, her lips twitching into a faint smile of pleasure…


Meanwhile, Sapphire had taken Emerald out of the mine and onto Route 4 for a bit of fresh air to calm her down. Emerald sat on a stone fence in a huff, breathing heavily before she finally returned to her normal self. She sighed loudly.

"Thanks Sapph, I needed that." Emerald puffed.

"I just didn't want you to make a scene, that's all." Sapphire said softly, patting her sister's shoulder, "You really need to stop flying off the handle whenever someone touches your hat, Em. Do you want people to think you're some violent monster?"

"Of course not!" Emerald protested, "I don't know why I'm so sensitive about my hat, it's just…I can't seem to help myself if anyone touches it when I don't want them to. But I was mostly just mad at Oleana in general and she pushed the wrong button on me."

"Yes, pulling a hat over someone's eyes is hardly professional of her." Sapphire muttered, "Still, we hopefully shouldn't see her again. If she's on community service, then she'll be stuck in that mine while we get to have all the fun with the Gym Challenge."

"At least she won't try and kidnap any of us." the brunette twin said brightly, "She won't have the power to pull a stunt like that now she's not working for Macro Cosmos anymore."

"And she'd have Ruby to answer to as well so that wouldn't do her any good." the bluenette twin concurred, "I'm still amazed that creep isn't in jail right now. Still, doing community service is at least some way of paying for her crimes. I'd be mad if she was still working at that company as if nothing had happened."

"You bet!" Emerald agreed, "But enough about her. I can see Turffield Stadium up ahead! We're nearly at the first Gym!"

Sapphire could see it too. The huge, round, green stadium could be easily seen from where they were. It was the largest building in Turffield so it stood out easily amongst the houses and shops that surrounded it. It was like a giant trying to hide amongst a nest of ants.

"Let's go see dad at his shop first, and then we'll make our way in!" Sapphire said eagerly.

"I'll race you! Bet I can beat you to the shop!" Emerald dared.

"Knickers to that! I could run rings around you!" Sapphire taunted.