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Emerald Knights: A Pokémon Sword Story Chapter 6

Chapter 6: The First Gym

Turffield Stadium already looked huge from a distance, but upon getting closer to it, the twins got an idea on just how big it truly was. Every other building in Turffield just seemed tiny by comparison, making the stadium look like a giant standing in the middle of a small village that it threatened to crush underfoot. The twins had seen the inside of the stadium on TV whenever they'd watched the Gym Challenge, but now they were going to go inside the real building and experience a true Gym battle for themselves.

Before approaching the stadium, they had naturally taken a quick detour to their father's flower shop. Michael had been waiting for them for Annie had phoned him earlier to tell him to expect his twin daughters to show up at some point today. He was standing outside the door as the girls came to him and he hugged the duo tightly. Emerald and Sapphire hugged him back.

"How are you my girls?!" Michael cried excitedly, clearly enthusiastic for the fact they were just minutes away from their first Gym Battle.

"We're doing great dad! Thank you!" Emerald replied.

"Aside from running into Oleana back in the mine, everything's been fine for us." Sapphire insisted, "Both of us are building up quite the teams between us."

"I'm glad to hear it." Michael replied.

He wasn't too happy to hear that they'd come across Oleana in the mine. He of course knew what she tried to do to Ruby last year. If there was anyone in Galar who was unwilling to forgive her for that, it was definitely him and his wife. Both Annie and Michael had sworn if they ever saw Oleana for themselves, things would probably get ugly between them. At least she hadn't tried to kidnap Emerald and Sapphire.

"You know, it feels like yesterday when your elder sister was coming here for her first Gym Battle." Michael said brightly, "How time flies, doesn't it? Here you two are, following on in her footsteps and just about to have your first Gym Battle too."

"I know dad! I'm buzzing with excitement right now!" Emerald hollered, her hands twitching furiously, "Oooh, I feel like I could just burst!"

"Take it easy Em, we need you intact for if you want to get that Gym badge." Sapphire joked.

"Let her have this moment, Sapphire." Michael said gently, "She's just like me when I had my first Gym Battle too."

Sapphire nodded. She of course knew that her dad was a former Pokémon trainer himself and had been through what she and her sisters were going through. Sadly, his career had come to a tragic end when too many Pokémon had died on his watch and he ended up losing heart for the sport. At least he had Ruby's Arcanine, Tiger, to keep him company after she'd given him as a gift to Michael. She saw Tiger just outside the shop, using his tail to brush away any fallen flower petals and dirt. With a tail that big, who needed a sweep?

"Hi Tiger." Sapphire called to him.

The fiery dog-like Pokémon looked up and nodded to her.

"Greetings Sapphire." Tiger said in his deep, pleasant voice, "It's good to see you and Emerald here today."

"Thank you!" Emerald piped, "We're just about to go and take on Milo's Gym. How are you today?"

"Perfectly well." the Arcanine replied, brushing away more dirt with his tail, "Business continues to go well for us here, especially with the knowledge that this very shop is run by the Champion's father. That's especially increased interest in our shop."

Emerald knew perfectly well about this. Ever since Ruby had become Champion, Michael's shop had become more popular than before with more people buying his flowers. How could people not take an interest in a shop run by the Champion's father? Michael joked that he was making more money now than he had done since he opened up the place roughly five years ago.

"I hope you don't have too much trouble keeping up with increased demand, dad." Emerald said thoughtfully.

"No worries about that, darling, I'm able to keep up." Michael insisted, "Though I'll admit I do end up rushed off my feet on certain days…but that doesn't matter. You two best get into that stadium and give Milo a fight to remember."

"We will dad. We just wanted to see you before we went in." Sapphire replied.

"And I appreciate it." the florist said jovially, "Now, just as I do with any Gym Challenger who visits my shop…"

He plucked a flower each for Emerald and Sapphire to take with them. He'd given Emerald a pink flower and Sapphire a violet flower. He'd done the same for Ruby when she'd dropped by his shop before her battle with Milo last year. The twins remembered how he liked to think his flowers were good luck charms for the Gym Challengers who bought them. They put the flowers into their hair.

"Thanks dad. This'll look cute on me." Emerald said brightly.

"We're sure to win now." Sapphire joked, "We'll see you after the Gym Battle, dad."

"You two, my dears. Good luck in there!" Michael said enthusiastically.

Despite his past, it was clear that he never let it get in the way of his enthusiasm of seeing his daughters become trainers themselves. Emerald and Sapphire kissed their father goodbye and quickly made their way over to Turffield Stadium. They had just been about to enter until suddenly, the door opened and another trainer walked out. The girls recognized him straight away. It was impossible not to recognize the blunt face and purple hair of Paul. He looked as if he'd just finished battling and didn't think much to it for his face was no different than before. He glanced at the girls as he left the stadium.

"It's you two." Paul acknowledged, "I guess you're about to take on this Gym as well?"

"That's just what we came here for!" Emerald answered, "I guess you just won your battle?"

"Naturally." Paul sniffed, "That Milo was hardly a challenge. I see why he's the first Gym Leader. I sure hope the other Gyms are more challenging than this."

Emerald couldn't really disagree with Paul on that. Grass-type Gyms had a reputation for being really easy to win in most regions and Ruby herself had described Milo as a bit of a cakewalk. She was even sure she and Sapphire wouldn't have a hard time with him either.

"To be fair Paul, you are a very experienced trainer so Milo might look easy to you." Sapphire noted, "Don't be too harsh on him. I'm sure any Pokémon trainer can tell you it's only easy if you know how to win."

"And trust us Paul, you haven't seen ANYTHING yet!" Emerald added, "Galar's Gym Leaders get much stronger as you go along. The last one in particular is a Gym Leader you better be prepared for or he'll demolish your team in seconds!"

"I look forward to seeing that kind of strength this region promised." Paul muttered.

"Say, if you're here, how about Ashley? Is she here too?" Sapphire asked quickly.

Emerald smirked behind her sister's back. Of course she'd ask about HER!

"As a matter of fact, she was the first one here." Paul answered, "I went in just after her. Watching her battle…it was easy to see how she's the current Champion of Unova. I hope I get to battle her myself during this challenge." he murmured, his tone of voice showing he had a huge amount of respect for Ashley.

Sapphire nodded with interest. So Ashley was the first one here today? She and Emerald had expected she'd be pretty far ahead. She also imagined the Unova girl had no trouble against Milo with that Tepig of her's. For all she knew, Ashley might've evolved it by the time she got here and had an even easier time as a result!

"You won't find her here if you're hoping to meet her." Paul continued, "She'll be on her way to the next Gym by now. I'll be making my way over too. I'll see you two next time you want a battle."

"Believe me Paul, I'm still itching for a chance to have a rematch with you!" Emerald declared, "You better watch out for me because I'm really going all out next time we fight!"

Paul chuckled dryly. It was a humourless sound, the kind of laugh one makes when they don't take somebody seriously. The Sinnoh teen turned on his heels and walked off to make his way over to Hulbury Town. Emerald watched him go, slightly annoyed that Paul didn't seem to see her as a big deal. True he had beaten her back in the Wild Area but he'd been impressed by her skills before. Maybe his win over Milo had just got him feeling good about himself. Next time they fought, she'd show him she was a force to be reckoned with!

"Like I said, you better watch out." Emerald muttered to herself.

"Forget it Em. You'll get your chance soon." Sapphire said reassuringly, "Come on now, let's have our battles so we can catch up to Paul and Ashley."

"Oh I'm VERY sure you want to catch up to Ashley." Emerald teased.

"Don't push it…" Sapphire hissed, her cheeks turning pink.

The twins headed into the stadium to get themselves booked in for the battle…


Booking was brisk and now both Emerald and Sapphire were ready to have their first ever Gym Battle.

Sapphire was up first so Emerald would have to wait her turn. With every Gym Battle that occurred, there was an hour long break in-between battles to give the Gym Leader and his or her Pokémon time to recover for the next fight. Emerald was watching the battle on a TV screen in the lobby along with some other waiting Gym Challengers. She wished she was up first but she was still going to watch her sister in action and cheer for her.

Sapphire had changed into her Gym Uniform and was making her way onto the field right now. As she made her way into the centre of the arena, she was hit with the smell of freshly mown grass. As this was a Grass Gym, the stadium itself had a grass floor. Sapphire imagined it must take a while to mow, even with a lawn-mower that one could ride on. She also imagined that the smell came as a godsend to all the Grass Pokémon in the Gym, and Milo himself. It must be easy to concentrate and feel good here with the smell of freshly mown grass in the air.

The crowd that had gathered in the stadium was big with barely any empty seats to show just how many people were here today. As this was where the Gym Challenge started, it was natural that the first Gym would have a huge audience. Sapphire started to feel a little nervous with so many people watching her from their seats. She was starting to see why being a Pokémon trainer could be daunting for those that were unprepared for such a big sport. If a trainer lost, they didn't just lose in front of a Gym Leader, but also in front of everyone in the stadium watching them. To a newbie such as herself, it was a cruel way of acknowledging that as fun as Pokémon battling was, there was always that chance of disappointing a lot of people. How did Ashley and Paul feel when they'd been here earlier having their own battles? Gyms in Sinnoh and Unova didn't have big audiences watching them so this must've been a new experience for them. But they'd managed to win their battles. If they could do it, so could she! They may have the experience, but that didn't mean she couldn't do it either!

Sapphire took up her position in the centre of the arena. Just opposite her was the very man that stood before her as her first obstacle, the very Gym Leader that started the Gym Challenge for everyone. Milo was a huge man, Sapphire knew as much, but seeing him in person gave her an idea just how big he really was. With his huge shoulders, broad chest and thick arms, he looked as if he could wrangle a herd of Tauros without breaking a sweat. His muscular physique came from his life as a farmer outside of Pokémon training and it was said he could roll 770 pounds of hay bales with ease. Yet he was also a friendly, gentle person by nature despite his imposing figure. The Grass Gym Leader smiled jovially at his new challenger.

"And you must be Sapphire, am I right?" he asked in his thick Cornish accent, "I was wondering how long it'd take before I got to challenge one of the Champion's sisters."

"I'm not the only one as our other sister, Emerald, is lined up next after me." Sapphire explained, "Talk about a double dose of Silverlocks, eh?"

"Quite so!" Milo chuckled, "I'll have had the pleasure of challenging all three of you when this day is done! Ha, ha! Your Ruby gave me a good battle that I sure as heck couldn't possibly win. I can't wait to see how you battle as well!"

"I only hope I can set a good example, not just for her but for you and the other Gym Leaders too." Sapphire said modestly, rubbing her arms.

The two stood by and waited for the signal to go. Milo folded his huge arms over his great chest, looking quietly confident as the battle was waiting to start. Sapphire could see that remaining cool under pressure came naturally to him. As a Gym Leader, he had battles like this every day so he was used to the crowd and the noise of the stadium. She hoped that she would get to feel the same way herself the more battles she had.

"From Postwick Town, Sapphire Silverlock." boomed the electronic announcer's voice over the speaker systems, "Her opponent: Gym Leader Milo."

The audience cheered for the challengers. Sapphire was surprised to hear so many people were cheering for her, their voices fighting to be heard over Milo's. Was it because she was Ruby's sister and thus, they were expecting great things out of her? She was more determined than ever not to disappoint anyone today. She'd give everyone a Gym Battle to remember!

"Pokémon Trainers: Standby." the announcer barked.

Sapphire and Milo stared each other down as they waited for the countdown. Emerald watched with baited breath as her sister came onscreen once the cameras focused on her. She could see the concentration in her eyes, no doubt plotting a perfect strategy to take out Milo's Pokémon. She could only imagine how she'd handle this when her turn came next.

The audience fell silent, also waiting for the countdown to begin. Sapphire swore she could hear her pulse pounding in her ears with how quiet everything suddenly was. The silence was so sudden that she jumped once the announcer's voice spoke again.

"Three…two…one…BEGIN!" came the announcement.

"Alright now, let's get this battle rolling like one of me hay bales!" Milo cried, whipping a Pokéball off of his thigh-mounted holsters, "Lombre, let's mow down the competition!"

He threw his Pokéball and out came his first choice, the Water/Grass type Pokémon Lombre. Lombre was the evolved form or Lotad and the pre-evolved form of Ludicolo. Lombre was best described as looking like a cross between some kind of amphibious creature and a Mexican man with the large lily pad it wore on its head resembling a sombrero. It was mostly green in colour with some light blue-markings, a red bill-like mouth, red fingers and toes and stood on two legs. Sapphire couldn't help but grin. Every time she saw this Pokémon, she thought it belonged in a siesta rather than a battle.

"Interesting choice there." Sapphire acknowledged, "Now let me show you mine. Spike, shining time!"

She threw her own Pokéball and summoned Spike the Nidorino to the grassy field. He stood opposite Lombre and prepared to battle. He looked ready for this as if this was a fight he'd been training up for his whole life. He pawed the ground eagerly.

"I'm in a Gym Battle! Ha, this will be a real test of my strength!" he growled eagerly.

"Easy there, don't get too carried away." Sapphire insisted, "Remember the plan."

Milo pursed his lips with interest. So this challenger had a plan? Had she been standing there formulating it all the time they'd been talking or had she put it together before she'd even stepped out onto the field? He was really keen to see how this went.

"Let's put the strategy to the test!" Sapphire cried, "Use Toxic Spikes!"

Spike lowered his head, arched his back and grunted as he shot out a bunch of poisonous spikes that showered over Lombre. The spikes were harmless…for now. Toxic Spikes was a status move that many strategic trainers used to set up traps for the opponent's next Pokémon they sent out. Every time a new Pokémon came to the field now, they would be poisoned by the Toxic Spikes, which would already give them a handicap before the battle even began. The crowd gasped with fascination. They hadn't seen anyone use a strategy like this in a while, especially in the very first Gym!

"Ha, ha, you sure don't battle like Ruby does!" Milo chuckled, "She just went all out without any of this strategy yer using! Now we'll have to see if it works for you. Use Water Gun!"

Lombre opened its mouth and blasted Spike with a jet of water from deep in its throat. Spike stood his ground and took the shot, barely even flinching in response as he was soaked. Water Gun was a particularly weak Water-type move so it was never going to do much to Spike, especially as Nidorino weren't weak to Water types. Sapphire had to give Milo credit that it was clever of him to have a half-Water type Pokémon so Lombre could put a stop to anyone hoping to sweep Milo's Gym with a Fire-type. But Spike was a Poison-type, and he still had the advantage over Lombre as a result. Spike shook himself dry, making the audience chuckle in amusement at seeing this Pokémon take an attack and act like he'd just been given a shower.

"You call that an attack?" he sneered, "I've been hit harder by my previous evolutions!"

"Time to show the crowd what you can do!" Sapphire declared, "Use Poison Sting!"

Spike arched his back and fired a shower of poisonous stingers at Lombre. The stingers hit the Water/Grass Pokémon and made it wince in pain as the stingers jabbed into it. Its half-Grass typing left it weak to Poison attacks just like most Grass-types were. Lombre shook off the pain and retaliated with Fury Swipes. The lily pad Pokémon ran up to Spike with its claws bared and aiming to claw his face off. But Spike dodged the attack and left Lombre slashing at empty air. After that, Sapphire commanded Spike to use Peck. As Peck was a Flying-type move, it was super-effective on Lombre and it was a more powerful attack than Poison Sting so it hurt even more as Spike landed the attack on his opponent. Lombre let out some kind of Spanish exclamation in response, appropriate given its Mexican-style appearance, and staggered back from the pain it felt. The audience was impressed. This newcomer was proving to be just as promising as Ruby had been when she was here fighting Milo last year. Even Milo couldn't help smiling at what he was seeing.

"You're sure giving me a good fight Sapphire. This battle will be over before we know it at this rate!" he cried.

"Glad I can set a good example." Sapphire said casually, "Let's finish off with another Peck, Spike!"

Spike did just that, pecking his opponent once more for good measure. It was all over for Lombre. The lily pad Pokémon collapsed onto the grass, no strength left in it for another attack. The audience exploded with applause. They were loving how cool and collected Sapphire seemed to be with her strategy and casual ease she'd managed to win that fight. Spike bowed and waved one of his front legs in appreciation.

"Thank you, I know, that was quite a performance, wasn't it?" he preened.

"Easy boy, don't get a swelled head." Sapphire teased.

Back in the lobby, Emerald cheered for her sister as she watched Lombre go down and the announcer's voice declare it unable to battle.

"Yay! Go Sapph!" she hollered, "You and Spike are awesome!"

She watched on as Milo returned Lombre to its Pokéball and he whipped out another.

"Those Toxic Spikes will give me a handicap, more's the pity, but hopefully I'll finish this off before it can be a problem." the farmer murmured, "Shiftry, mow down the competition!"

He threw his next Pokéball and summoned forth the sinister looking Shiftry. It was a Grass/Dark type Pokémon that was the fully evolved form of Seedot. Shiftry appeared to be made of wood, sporting a long nose, long pointed ears and a huge white shaggy mane that sprouted from behind its head and trailed along the floor like a large cape. It had leaves for hands and feet that looked like Japanese sandals. Shiftry's long nose made it resemble a Tengu from Japanese folklore, a demon that had a large nose that was used as a synonym for getting a swelled head. Sapphire thought it looked like a very devious Pokémon with its yellow and black eyes and bared teeth. But she wouldn't have much to worry about as the Toxic Spikes set up earlier took effect. Shiftry was instantly poisoned upon entering the field and its body glowed purple to signify that. As the fight went on, the poison would do extra damage to Shiftry and slowly whittle its health down. She was tempted to keep Spike out but Sapphire returned him to his ball and swapped him out for another.

"Time to let you have your shining moment." she declared, "Matilda, shining time!"

She threw the ball and out came Matilda the Machop. To anyone else, the choice would come off as odd. Why bring a Fighting type to deal with a Grass-type? But both Sapphire and Milo knew why Matilda was a good choice. Shiftry's Dark-typing gave it a weakness to Fighting types. As Shiftry was fully evolved and Matilda wasn't, it would take more hits but Matilda would still have the advantage in this one. The little Machop raised her fists worriedly.

"Oh d-d-dear, h-here we go I g-guess…" she mumbled.

"Don't worry Matilda, you'll do fine out there." Sapphire insisted, "Hey Milo, just to make this fight more interesting, how's about we don't use Dynamax for this one? I want to see if I can win without it!" she challenged.

"It's not often a trainer asks if we can do that." Milo said in surprise, "But I'm up for it, lassie! It'll be interesting to see which of us wins with our Pokémon as they are!"

The audience was disappointed. They always loved it when Dynamaxing occurred. But they were still engaged with the battle happening before them. Dynamax or not, seeing a Stage 1 Fighting type against a fully evolved Pokémon would still be a brawl worth watching.

"Thank you." Sapphire said appreciatively, "Now Matilda, use Low Sweep!"

Matilda was anxious about putting up a good fight, but nonetheless obeyed her trainer. She only hoped the attack would do the damage. The muscular Pokémon charged towards Shiftry and took its legs out from underneath it with a single sweeping kick attack. Shiftry fell over onto its back and grunted. Not only did Low Sweep do damage, but it had the added side effect of lowering the Pokémon's speed. Shiftry would be slower than usual in this fight. Shiftry got back to its feet and retaliated with Leaf Tornado. This was an attack it learned upon evolving and it had the side effect of lowering the opponent's accuracy.

Shiftry waved its fan-like hands and stirred up a leafy tornado that swept over Matilda. She was sent spinning by the tornado and was thrown across the arena. She landed at Sapphire's feet, the black girl being forced to jump back before her Pokémon could knock her over. Matilda picked herself up, clearly dazed by the attack as she seemed to sway on her feet while on the other side of the arena, Shiftry grimaced as the poison damage kicked in some more.

"Oooooh, it feels like the world's on a roundabout all of a sudden…" she slurred dizzily.

"That's Leaf Tornado for you, always a move that gets you all spun around." Sapphire muttered, "You can still win this! Use Low Sweep again!"

Matilda ran towards her opponent again and tried to take it down with another Low Sweep. Unfortunately, Leaf Tornado had left her still feeling dizzy so she couldn't quite aim properly. She missed as the world turned to one side around her and she feel onto her side. The audience gasped in astonishment. As soon as she missed, Milo ordered his Shiftry to use Heat Wave on Matilda. Sapphire was astonished. How could a Pokémon like this learn a Fire attack?! Shiftry opened its mouth and engulfed Matilda with a wave of flames that flicked furiously against her body. Matilda cried out as she was hit by the flames. She stumbled backwards, her body stinging from the flames and what was worse; she'd been burnt by the attack. Her body was engulfed in a brief tongue of flame that sapped away a bit of her strength. Emerald gasped in horror as she watched Matilda go up in flames on the TV screen.

"Oh no! That's not good!" she cried.

But in the end, the burn status was more of a blessing than a curse. Sapphire watched with satisfaction as Matilda flexed her muscles and growled furiously. She suddenly felt all pumped up inside and her eyes glowed red for a moment. It was as if someone had given her a steroid boost out of nowhere. Shiftry gulped nervously. What had it done to make this happen? Milo quickly realized.

"Oh 'eck…is that what I think it is?" he stammered.

"Absolutely." Sapphire crowed, "Matilda has the Guts ability. Whenever she suffers a status condition, her Attack goes up! You've just given Matilda the ticket to victory Milo! Show everyone a big finish with Revenge!" she ordered.

Matilda pounded her chest furiously, the effect of Guts taking away her usual meek personality and replacing it with a huge desire to smash something. She lunged at Shiftry and slammed both fists into it. Revenge was a Fighting move that doubled in damage if the opponent took damage in the same turn. She had taken damage from Shiftry's Heat Wave so that plus the increased Attack of her activated ability meant Matilda hit with the force of a Machoke with that single move. Shiftry was sent flying across the arena and crashing into the wall at the far end of the stadium. The audience were amazed at seeing such power from such a small Pokémon. Matilda threw her head back and roared with triumph. Sapphire watched her uneasily. Who knew a triggered ability would have such an effect on her Pokémon? Matilda suddenly seemed to be a completely different Pokémon now! But then the effect of Guts gradually wore off and Matilda calmed down, panting heavily as the adrenaline rush from before left her body. The battle was over so Guts didn't need to be in action anymore. She wiped her head.

"Phew…what happened there? I feel like I got all fired up all of a sudden." she puffed.

As for Shiftry, it was still lying at the foot of the wall. It didn't get up again, groaning from the pain of its impact. With the damage from Poison and the overwhelming power of a Guts boosted Revenge, how could it get up again after that? The audience cheered, already seeing that this fight was over and Sapphire had won her Gym Battle.

"Shiftry is unable to battle! Machop is the winner!" boomed the announcer, "The winner of the Turffield Gym Challenge is Sapphire Silverlock from Postwick Town and she progresses to the next Gym!"

"Oh my gosh…I actually managed to win on my first try?!" Sapphire exclaimed, putting her hands to her mouth in astonishment, "I actually did it?!"

It was strange to see her acting like this considering she'd carefully planned her strategy out and it had paid off brilliantly. One would think she'd expected her plan to completely fail. She picked Matilda up and spun her around with joy as Milo returned his Shiftry. Sapphire hadn't expected winning a Gym Battle to feel this good! Her heart was pounding with joy. Emerald leapt from her seat with delight, glad to see that her sister had won the battle.

"YAAAAAAAAAAAY! You were amazing Sapph! Well done to you and your Pokémon!" she screamed at the top of her voice as if hoping Sapphire could somehow hear her through the TV screen.

She watched on as Milo congratulated the blue-haired girl on her victory and presented her with her Grass badge. The two shook hands and thanked each other for a brilliant battle. In an hour's time, it would be Emerald's turn and she could only wonder how she'd top a performance like that. In the end, it wouldn't matter if she did or not. Winning through her own methods would be good enough for her.


The hour came and went and now Emerald was taking her sister's place on the field to face Milo. During that cooldown period, Emerald had wasted no time letting her twin know how happy she was for her victory. Sapphire only smiled modestly and insisted that she was surprised she even won so easily while wishing Emerald luck in her battle. Emerald had changed into her own Gym Uniform and had sent a text to her mother, telling her to make sure the TV was on so she could see her battle. It felt a little strange not wearing her trademark hat for a change as Emerald had to leave it with her other clothes in the locker room. She almost felt naked without it. She didn't let it bother her as it would be there for her to put on again after the battle was over.

Emerald made her way to the centre of the arena, impressed at how neatly mown the grass looked. How long did it take to get it this neatly mown? She also took in the huge crowd that was watching her. Emerald gulped and waved to the crowd queasily. She was suddenly feeling a little under pressure. She was coming just after her sister had set an amazing impression by winning through strategy and surprising everyone by winning a battle without Dynamax being involved. She was the other sister following hot on the heels from an impressive battle. No doubt everyone was really expecting a lot from her in this round. Could she prove that the Silverlock family could make it a hat trick of great Pokémon battles, or would she be the black Wooloo of the trio and look like a joke? She could feel her chest tighten and she breathed in and out slowly to ease her nerves. No, don't let the crowd get to you! You can do it!

Emerald and Milo took up their positions opposite each other in the arena centre and faced each other. The Fighting Farmer still looked as jovial as before, almost like the previous battle had never happened.

"And you must be the third Silverlock." Milo acknowledged, "You're Emerald, right?"

"I am." Emerald confirmed, smiling shyly at the Gym Leader, "G-gosh, you're a lot bigger in person I have to say…" she murmured, taking in his huge, muscular figure.

"Ha, I get that a lot, lassie!" Milo chortled, "No need to worry about my size though, I'm pretty gentle by nature. Say, you look nervous. Is everything alright?" he asked, taking in Emerald's hunched up shoulders and distant gaze.

"S-sorry, it's just I didn't think a Gym Battle would feel this intense." Emerald stammered, "All the people watching, the Gym Leader standing before me…I can't even imagine how my sisters felt being in this position!"

"First time's always the hardest, Em." Milo said softly, "I wouldn't worry yer pretty little head about it. Just give it a go and you'll quickly shake off those nerves. I always believe a Pokémon battle really gets one's adrenaline rushing!"

The brunette girl only nodded in acknowledgement. She just hoped Milo was right.

"From Postwick Town, Emerald Silverlock." the electronic voice boomed out, "Her opponent: Gym Leader Milo."

The cheers for both trainers came loud and full of excitement. Emerald found herself back during the opening ceremony listening to the deafening cries of the audience. This crowd wasn't as big as the one during that ceremony but it still felt overwhelming. Emerald felt she'd never get used to the noise no matter how many times she would be surrounded by an audience. The quiet country life of Postwick was much preferable to her.

"Pokémon Trainers: Standby." the announcer barked.

No time to think about the crowd now. This was the time to prepare for battle! Emerald kept her eyes fixed on Milo while her left hand closed around one of her Pokéballs. Milo did the same.

"Three…two…one…BEGIN!" the announcer declared.

"And here the Fighting Farmer goes again!" Milo cried ecstatically, "Gossifleur, mow down the competition!"

He threw the ball and out came his first Pokémon, the Grass type Gossifleur. This was one of Milo's most commonly used Pokémon for Gym Challengers as it was a basic Pokémon that would be a simple warm up for the next Pokémon he summoned. Emerald remembered how Ruby's battle with Milo had seen her go up against this and its evolved form, Eldegoss. Would the same happen to her? It wouldn't matter as she had plenty of counters for Grass-types.

"I've got the perfect Pokémon for this battle!" Emerald declared, "Vixey, let the fun begin!"

She threw her Pokéball and brought Vixey the Vulpix to the field. Her appearance was instantly met with a chorus of awes from the crowd. Vulpix were considered very cute and many members of the audience watching this match loved the look of Vixey. Vixey didn't seem to realize that she was in the middle of a battle for she turned around and hopped into Emerald's arms. She was still full of gratitude for her rescue back in the Wild Area and showed it as much as she can. Emerald giggled as Vixey licked her face.

"Alright, alright, thank you! Hee, hee, that's enough Vixey. You can love me later!" Emerald said between giggles, "We've got a battle to win at the moment."

"Oh, sorry about that." Vixey said sheepishly.

The vulpine Pokémon jumped out of her trainer's arms and stared down Gossifleur. The flower-like Pokémon stared back, refusing to be intimidated by the fiery fox before her.

"We've got this." Emerald said confidently, "Vixey, use Incinerate!"

Vixey opened her mouth and a huge tongue of flame shot out to her opponent. Incinerate was a Fire-type move that did damage and had the side effect of burning up any berry a Pokémon might be carrying, preventing said berry from being used. Gossifleur had no berries on her but that didn't help her out as she still suffered damage from the flames. She staggered back and winced as the fiery heat burnt her but she wasn't down yet. She shook herself off and retaliated upon Milo's commands.

"We can't do much but every little helps, I guess." the Gym Leader said, shrugging, "Use Magical Leaf!"

Gossifleur conjured up a bunch of magical leaves seemingly from nowhere and shot them at Vixey. Magical Leaf was a helpful attack as it never missed, even if a Pokémon's accuracy was lowered. Vixey took the attack, barely even flinching as the leaves cut into her but otherwise did nothing more as Grass attacks were useless against Fire types. Emerald even noticed that due to Vixey's hot body, the leaves seemed to burn up as they touched her. Milo knew the attack would be useless but was otherwise just glad he managed to land at least one attack on his opponent. Vixey very quickly ended the battle with another Incinerate. Gossifleur couldn't withstand this next attack and was quickly brought down by the attack. Gossifleur lay on the grass, looking very much like a burnt up flower. The fight was so one-sided that Milo couldn't even conjure up the energy to react to the loss. He just returned Gossifleur while the announcer gave the results.

"Gossifleur is unable to battle! Vulpix is the winner!"

"Yay! My first Gym battle ever and I won!" Vixey cheered, "I'm so thrilled with myself!"

"I am too! Well done, Vixey!" Emerald complimented, this time allowing Vixey to love her now the battle was over.

The Vulpix jumped into her arms again and licked her face, making her giggle.

Over in the lobby, Sapphire smiled proudly as she watched Vixey lick Emerald's face, the cameras zooming in on her to presumably get a good shot of her reaction for the benefit of the TV audiences.

"You're doing great out there, Em. Keep it going and you'll win the whole thing." Sapphire said supportively.

Back in the arena, Milo sent out his next Pokémon. As predicted, it was indeed Eldegoss, the evolved form of Gossifleur. The cotton like Pokémon looked cute enough but Emerald wasn't going to take it lightly. She was sure Vixey could handle it but she preferred not to let one Pokémon do all the work. She returned Vixey to her ball and drew out another Pokéball.

"May as well go with a fully evolved Pokémon myself." Emerald declared, "Katana, let the fun begin!"

Katana the Ninjask was brought out onto the field, the huge cicada like Pokémon flapping her wings and slicing the air with her sharp legs. She'd been itching for a fight and was thrilled to get this chance.

"At last, a time to show off my true fighting prowess!" Katana declared, "Let those who oppose me fall by my mighty blades!"

"Calm down, it's not a fight to the death." Emerald said hastily.

Katana nodded understandingly. She was still determined to show off her battle skills despite the circumstances. Unlike before, Emerald was perfectly willing to Dynamax her Pokémon so both she and Milo returned their Pokémon to their Pokéballs and held them out. Their Dynamax bands activated, red and pink energy swirling around their wrists and feeding into their Pokéballs. The Pokéballs then grew in size, growing to about the size of a bowling ball as the energy caused them to expand. Then the two threw their Pokéballs and out came their Dynamaxed Pokémon. Katana and Eldegoss grew to huge sizes, now dwarfing their trainers and everyone in the audience. The crowd cheered, glad that they could have a Dynamax battle to watch this time. Emerald stared at her giant Ninjask with awe. Dynamaxing looked amazing on TV but getting to do it herself in a real Pokémon battle made it even more incredible. Katana was so big that her fast beating wings could potentially whip up a typhoon and she could carry a school bus on her back. The Bug Pokémon looked herself over.

"I've become a giant…how extraordinary!" she gasped, her voice amplified by the increased size, "And I feel so powerful! It's like no power I've ever felt before!"

"That's Dynamaxing, it really makes you feel like you can do anything!" Emerald cried, "Now show the audience your power by using Max Airstream!"

Katana flapped her enormous wings rapidly, creating a loud buzzing sound that made the stadium shudder. A huge tornado of wind was kicked up by the flapping wings and Katana sent it spiralling towards Eldegoss. The Cotton Pokémon was bombarded by the winds, her eyes forcibly closed as they couldn't stay open while she was being battered. Milo clung onto his hat as it threatened to blow away in the breeze. Emerald felt she was going to get whisked off her feet by the winds so she crouched down low as she felt the winds batter her back. By Arceus, would Katana blow the whole bloody stadium away?! The attack soon ended and the winds died down. Eldegoss had been mercilessly blown back and battered by the Max Airstream but her defences were just enough to keep it from being a one-hit KO. She regained herself and Milo gave his command.

"Hit back with Max Strike!" he yelled.

Eldegoss jumped up for a moment and came crashing down, sending a huge wave of energy rippling through the stadium floor towards her opponent. The energy reached Katana and exploded upwards, hitting the Ninjask and making her wince as she was hit. It was a valiant effort on Eldegoss's part, but ultimately worthless as it barely did anything. A side-effect of Max Strike was that the opponent's speed went down after it was hit…which again was rendered moot as Katana had the Speed Boost ability so any speed she lost just went up again after her ability kicked in. It was as if nothing had happened to Katana. She raised her arms, daring Eldegoss to try that again.

"You held up well to that attack!" Emerald praised, "Now finish off with another Max Airstream!"

"As you command, honoured trainer!" boomed Katana.

She flapped her wings again and whipped up a huge gale that battered Eldegoss once more. The Grass type Pokémon was helpless to defend herself against the super-effective attack as the winds mercilessly pummelled her into submission. With no energy left to fight, her Dynamax died down and she returned to her normal size. She lay at Milo's feet and didn't get up again. Katana returned to her normal size too, raising her legs in triumph. She felt very pleased with herself.

"My mighty blade tastes victory today!" she yelled in victory.

"Eldegoss is unable to battle! Ninjask is the winner!" the announcer declared, "The winner of the Turffield Gym Challenge is Emerald Silverlock from Postwick Town and she progresses to the next Gym!"

"YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" Emerald screeched, bouncing up and down with ecstasy, "I won, I won, I won! This is so amazing, I can't believe it! My first Gym Battle and I won first time, just like my sisters! Hooray!"

Milo was so amused by Emerald's joy that he couldn't even feel disappointed with his loss. He wasn't a man that minded losing anyway. A part of him even enjoyed it more when his challengers won instead of him as it was really touching seeing them look so happy with themselves. He and Emerald met up again in the centre of the arena and shook hands.

"That was a battle well fought, Emerald." Milo complimented, "You and Sapphire sure have your sister's blood in yer veins. I think she'll have some VERY stiff competition from both of you!"

"We have often teased her about us being the ones to succeed her." Emerald admitted, "But we'll worry about that when the time comes. We still have seven more Gyms after this!"

"And believe me, they're big time compared to me so get ready for them." Milo insisted, "For now though, it's my pleasure to reward you with your Grass Badge!"

He handed Emerald her Grass Badge. Emerald stared at it as if to reassure herself that this badge was really her's and she'd actually won it. She'd always loved admiring Ruby's badges and now she got her own Gym Badge to admire. It would look even better once she got the other seven to go with it. Emerald couldn't wait to take on the other Gyms. No doubt they'd be as fun as this one had been…


Later on, Emerald had changed back into her usual clothes and returned to the lobby. Upon arriving, Sapphire practically pounced on her, wrapped her arms around her and spun her around with joy. One would think she was happier with Emerald's victory than Emerald herself!

"Great job out there, sis! You nailed it out there!" Sapphire cried, "I'd say both me and you have really got off to a good start on this Gym Challenge!"

"I agree! Now put me down, you're crushing my ribs!" Emerald croaked.

Sapphire put her sister down and chuckled apologetically.

"Sorry. I always forget how strong I can be." she said meekly, "So how did it feel out there, being in the centre of the arena with Milo in front of all those people?"

"Bloody nerve-racking!" Emerald gasped, "I don't know how I didn't pass out with how nervous I felt! How did you stay so cool when it was your battle?"

"I was actually really nervous myself." Sapphire admitted, "With all those people watching me…it just gave me a grim reminder that in this Gym circuit, you have a lot of people to please or disappoint. I just did my best to focus on my Pokémon and not on the audience."

"It sure worked for you." the hoodie-clad girl said, "You and your Pokémon were so perfectly in sync that anyone can tell you train them well."

"You seemed just as in sync with your partners." the cardigan-clad girl noted, "We're both showing everyone that we're gonna be great trainers that will be ones to look out for in this year's Gym Challenge."

Emerald smiled in agreement. She was about to say something else until her Rotom phone suddenly started ringing. The Rotom-possessed device flew out of her pocket and hovered before her and Sapphire. To their delight, the person calling them was their elder sister. Ruby's face filled the screen and she was practically glowing with how happy she looked.

"How are my two favourite girls in the world feeling after that awesome Gym Battle?" she cried gleefully, "I watched you both on TV here in Wyndon and saw how well you fought against Milo! Congratulations to you both!"

"Thanks Ruby!" the twins cried in unison.

"I especially loved watching your strategic battle style, Sapph." Ruby complimented, glancing over to her blue-haired sister, "Setting up those Toxic Spikes and making use of your Machop's Guts ability really made it an incredible match."