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Emerald Knights: A Pokémon Sword Story Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Stopping a Thief

Ashley's eyes lit up with relief as she turned to see that Emerald and Sapphire were here. She'd been trying hard to get free of the webs that had plastered her to the wall but they held firm and were much too sticky and tough for her to break free of. Paul was too busy dealing with their attacker to help her but now the twins were here, they could get her free! Sapphire turned to Emerald. The Wimpod that had led them to their rivals hid behind a rock, not wanting to get involved.

"You help Paul deal with that guy. I'll free Ashley." she declared.

"It'll be a pleasure!" Emerald declared, sounding scarily keen to get in on the action.

She ran over to Paul, who had his Lairon out to fight the man's Galvantula. Emerald knew full well what it was as Ruby owned a Galvantula herself. Ruby had met hers when it had saved her from another Galvantula that had attacked her on her way to Circhester. While Ruby's was very friendly, this Galvantula shared its master's mean look, its eyes narrowed and its mandibles raised menacingly. Paul noticed Emerald had come up beside him.

"I don't need your help. I've got this." he said dismissively.

"Well too bad, I'm helping out anyway." Emerald said stubbornly, "You never know if you might get webbed up as well."

She threw her Pokéball, bringing out the newly evolved Blue to the battle. She'd deliberately chosen Blue for her half-Ground typing she'd gained upon evolving would render Galvantula's electric attacks useless. The man noticed the new Pokémon that had come from nowhere and looked over at Emerald, only now realizing she'd shown up to the battle. He smirked cruelly at the teenage girl.

"Oh goodie, another trainer to rob." he sneered, his raspy voice the result of a thousand cigarettes, "This is too much fun! I didn't think working with those brothers would be so enjoyable!"

"You're going down you creep!" Emerald declared, "What's your deal? Why are you attacking Paul and Ashley?"

"It's none of your business you little brat." the man scoffed, "All you need to know is I'm walking outta here with your Dynamax bands and I'm taking them with or without your hands! Galvantula, use Electro Web on that girl!"

The Galvantula raised its head and shot out a huge string of electrified silk towards Emerald. The silk expanded into a web as it came towards her. Emerald screamed but Blue jumped up in front of the web to stop it from getting to her. The web was nullified in an instant thanks to Blue's half Ground typing. The Palpitoad smirked as the man recoiled at what had happened. Just his luck for this brat to half a Pokémon with an Electric immunity! After that, Emerald ordered Blue to use Mud Shot on Galvantula. Blue used her little tail to flick splodges of mud at the Galvantula, hitting it square on and covering it. Mud Shot not only did damage, but it also lowered a Pokémon's speed so now the Galvantula would be slower. Paul joined in, ordering Lairon to bombard the electric tarantula with Rock Slide. Lairon obeyed and sent a bunch of rocks hurling towards the attacking Pokémon. The rocks crashed down onto Galvantula, making it screech and hiss in agony as every rock that crashed down felt like it was being mercilessly hammered into the ground. Emerald looked over at Paul and beamed.

"Hey, we're making a pretty good team, you and me!" she said cheerfully.

"Just don't get in the way and focus on the battle." Paul said tersely, "He's not done yet."

Emerald could see the man wasn't for his Galvantula wasn't down just yet. It picked itself up and hissed viciously, keen to take its revenge. The two trainers stood together, ready for whatever was coming next.

Meanwhile, Sapphire had run over to Ashley. It disgusted her to see that anyone could use their Pokémon for wicked acts such as this. How could that man use his Galvantula to web an innocent trainer to the wall like that? She grabbed the web around Ashley's mouth.

"Hang on Ashley, I'll get you out of this!" Sapphire declared, "Sorry if this hurts…"

She tugged on the web, yanking it clean off of Ashley's mouth. It made a ripping sound as if she was tearing paper in half. Ashley's lips stung but she was too relieved to get her mouth open again to feel any pain. She breathed in heavily.

"Ugh, thanks Sapph!" the brunette girl gasped, "You two came at just the right time!"

"What happened? Why is he doing this to you?" Sapphire asked.

"Me and Paul were just about to have a battle. He did want to challenge me after our double battle after all." Ashley explained, "But just as I was about to fight, I got webbed up as you can see and Paul luckily managed to dodge before it could happen to him! The man wants to take our Dynamax bands!"

"Your Dynamax bands? Why?" Sapphire asked curiously.

It seemed a strange reason to ambush a trainer and web them up. Surely there were more valuable things to steal than a Dynamax band?

"He won't say, just that he wants them." Ashley answered, "I guess he's some asshole trying to sabotage the Gym Challenge by preventing people from Dynamaxing."

"It's a stupid plan if that's the case as we can have the Gym Challenge without Dynamaxing." Sapphire muttered, "I bet it's more complex than that."

"We'll get answers outta him." Ashley declared, "Get me outta this web so we can help Emerald and Paul!" she added, tugging on her restraints again.

"You got it! I have just the Pokémon to help." Sapphire said happily.

She threw her Pokéball and brought out her newly evolved Nidoking. Ashley beamed at the sight of him. So Sapphire had used the Moon Stone already. She was glad she gave it to her now!

"Spike, cut Ashley free!" Sapphire commanded.

"Hold on toots, we'll get you outta here in no time." Spike declared.

It was very easy for him to free Ashley. He simply grabbed the webs around her hands and effortlessly peeled them off the wall. His newfound strength as Nidoking meant that no matter how sticky the web was, it offered no resistance as he pulled it off. After that, he knelt down and peeled the web off from around Ashley's feet. Now she was free, Ashley patted Spike in gratitude.

"You're such a good boy!" she cried thankfully, "Thank you!"

"Anything for my trainer's friend." Spike said modestly.

"Now let's teach that jerk some manners…" the Champion said, her voice colder than an Ice Beam attack.

The girls ran over to the battle that was still in progress. Emerald and Paul were winning with no problems whatsoever. The Galvantula couldn't handle being ganged up on by Lairon and Blue as they launched attack after attack. It tried to dodge but Blue's aim was too on point for her to miss as she hit it with a Bubble Beam attack. The moment Galvantula was hit, Paul's Lairon finished it off with another Rock Slide. It couldn't miss while Galvantula was still reeling from the Bubble Beam attack. The electric tarantula was knocked out instantly by the crashing rocks that came down on it. Emerald would've felt sorry for it if it wasn't being used by a criminal to attack them right now. The man gasped in horror at his unconscious Pokémon. This was all going wrong! This was meant to be a simple ambush which ended with him stealing the Dynamax Bands of some trainers! He wasn't meant to be getting his butt kicked in a Pokémon battle! He forced himself not to panic. This wasn't over yet! He chuckled unpleasantly as to the dismay of his opponents, he whipped out two more Pokéballs. Emerald had been banking on Galvantula being his only one but no, he had more!

"You kids are good, but play time's over." the man sneered, "You won't get the best of THESE Pokémon!"

He threw the balls and summoned forth a Gyarados and a Vespiquen. Gyarados was a Water/Flying Pokémon that looked like a giant sea serpent and Vespiquen was a Bug/Flying type Pokémon that resembled a giant bee with a somewhat queenly appearance to it. Seeing the Gyarados made Emerald scowl angrily. It already hurt that her sister had a Gyarados that had died on her watch, now she had to see one being used for crime! It almost felt as if this man was indirectly insulting Ruby and spitting on Ariel's grave by doing this. She also wasn't thrilled to see the man using a Vespiquen either. Even as a child, she hated the species for their ugly appearances and tendency to attack trainers unprovoked. She would have no issue beating this Pokémon up.

"So what if you have more Pokémon?" Emerald snorted, "We can take them out just as easily as your Galvantula! Ready Paul?"

"Always." Paul said, nodding in response, "Lairon, use Rock Slide on both of them!"

Lairon obeyed instantly. The iron-coated Pokémon caused another avalanche of rocks to come crashing down towards its opponents. Unfortunately, he only managed to hit one of them. The man's Gyarados managed to dodge the attack while Vespiquen was bombarded by the rocks and brought down to the ground. It let out a loud buzz of pain as the rocks slammed down on it. The single move was all it took to knock Vespiquen out. It didn't get up again. While that was happening, Emerald returned Blue to her Pokéball and exchanged her for Abyss. She would've used Thor against a Gyarados but Thor was at the professor's at the moment for she'd exchanged him for the team she'd been training up for Kabu's Gym tomorrow. Abyss was part Electric type so he would still do. The newly evolved Pokémon materialized onto the field. The orbs on his antennae glowed brightly as he prepared to attack. Emerald was about to order Abyss to use Electro Ball on Gyarados but the man had decided to take advantage of her switching out and Paul's Lairon being busy with Vespiquen.

"Gyarados, wrap the trainers up!" he ordered.

The sea serpent rushed towards Emerald and Paul, moving surprisingly fast despite not being in water. Its part Flying typing meant Gyarados could move very quickly on land as well as in the water. Emerald screamed in terror but was helpless to do anything else as the Gyarados circled around her and Paul and used its long body to bind them together. The two teens were pressed shoulder to shoulder as the Gyarados wrapped them up. It was like being squeezed by a boa constrictor, only much bigger. The Gyarados tightened its grip, making the two grunt and cry out as they were tightly constricted by the huge Pokémon.

"Let us go!" Emerald croaked feebly.

Abyss and Lairon turned to see what was happening. Both were horrified to see what was happening to their trainers. Sapphire and Ashley watched as the two were squeezed by the Gyarados. They had to help them and fast!

"Put my sister down you monster!" Sapphire yelled angrily.

"Sorry, my Gyarados only takes orders from me." the man sneered, "And I say squeeze them harder!"

The Gyarados obeyed, tightening its grip ever more. Emerald and Paul were struggling to breathe. The air just couldn't get into their lungs as the Gyarados held them tight. Emerald could swear her bones were close to cracking as they felt the strain. If it squeezed any harder, she felt like she'd snap in two. Angered, Sapphire ordered Spike to use Megahorn on Gyarados. She hoped that her Nidoking's large horn would hurt the Gyarados enough to make them let Emerald and Paul go. Spike lowered his head and charged, his powerful feet making the ground shake as he charged. But the Gyarados was smart. It knew how to stop Spike from attacking it. Just as Spike came within range, it held the wrapped up Emerald and Paul in front of itself. Sapphire shrieked in horror. If Spike didn't stop, he'd skewer them both!

"SPIKE, STOP!" she screamed frantically.

The poisonous Pokémon screeched to a halt, desperate to stop himself from hurting his trainer's sister and rival. Nidoking often struggle to stop when charging but luckily, Spike raised his head as he was screeching to a halt so he wouldn't spear the trainers if he still crashed into Gyarados. He stopped within millimetres of the two. Sapphire and Ashley could see that they were in a bad situation. If they tried to attack Gyarados with their Pokémon, it would just use Emerald and Paul as a shield to stop them. Abyss and Lairon couldn't help either. If either of them tried to attack, they would only hurt their trainers as well. It was a no-win situation for everyone. Even if they attacked the man, it would do no good as Gyarados would only suffocate Emerald and Paul. The Wimpod that had led Emerald and Sapphire here was watching everything with large, frightened eyes. Even he was horrified at what was happening and wishing he could help in some way. The man clearly thought he held all the cards in his hand, smirking triumphantly.

"Yes, you get it don't you?" he crowed, "No matter what happens, those kids will only get hurt. Now, let's have your Dynamax Bands please. If you refuse, I'll tell Gyarados to keep squeezing those two until their lungs give out. I can't imagine they have much breath left in them."

"You're…pathetic…resorting…to blackmail…like that!" Paul grunted, straining from the pressure the Gyarados was putting on his body.

"Don't insult me little boy, you'll only do yourself more harm." the man scoffed.

Sapphire was in torment. She didn't want to just give that man what he wanted but she couldn't let him just kill Emerald and Paul! Seeing the pain on her sister's face made her heart ache for her. Ashley was just as torn, not willing to risk the lives of two innocent people just so the man couldn't have what he wanted. A device that enabled Dynamaxing wasn't worth two innocent lives. Sighing in defeat, Sapphire and Ashley slipped the bands off their wrists and threw them over to the man.

"Here, they're all yours now. Just please don't kill my sister!" Sapphire begged.

The man smiled with satisfaction, picking the bands up and stuffing them into his pocket.

"Good girls." he said condescendingly, "Now get down on your knees and put your hands behind your head. I don't want you two to try anything before I leave here."

Sapphire and Ashley reluctantly obeyed. They got down on their knees and put their hands behind their heads. In that position, the man could keep them from getting their Pokéballs and trying anything at the last minute. Now that was done, he walked over to his Gyarados.

"Loosen up just a little so those two can give me their Dynamax Bands too." the man ordered.

The Gyarados obeyed. It loosened its grip on the two trainers, not enough for them to get away but enough so the man could grab their arms and take their bands off. He started with Emerald, grabbing her arm and slipping the band off her wrist. He then did the same to Paul. Now he had all the Dynamax Bands from all the trainers here right now. He chuckled with delight.

"Oh my bosses will be pleased!" he crowed, "Ha, ha, Team Royal scores a big victory tonight!"

Despite everything, Ashley couldn't help but snicker at that name.

"Are you serious?" she jeered, "Team Royal? That sounds like an overbearing cult of kings and queens!"

The man frowned at the Unovan Champion.

"I will not tolerate our glorious name being mocked like that!" he snapped pathetically, "It's a name that says we are people that rule over all you commoners and that we are the true Kings of Galar!"

"You ask me, it makes you all sound incredibly conceited and delusional." Sapphire muttered.

"You can shut up otherwise I'll have Gyarados squeeze those trainers again!" the man snapped, "Now, I'm going to walk out of here. You two won't follow me. If you do, I'll tell Gyarados to Hyper Beam those trainers. I doubt they'll survive a Hyper Beam up close and personal from a Pokémon as powerful as this."

"We're not moving." Ashley insisted, keeping her hands behind her head.

The man nodded. He was about to turn around and leave the mine. Once out of there, he would return to his bosses and give them the Dynamax Bands he'd stolen. But before he could go anywhere, his Gyarados let out a loud bellow of pain. He turned around to see what was happening and gasped in astonishment. Gyarados was thrashing about wildly as if something was in its eyes. It let go of Emerald and Paul as it flailed about, rubbing its face into the dirt to try and shake it off. It was the Wimpod! Emerald could see it clinging onto Gyarados's face and crawling over its eyes. Despite everything, it was clinging on hard and refusing to let go. The Gyarados couldn't see with it clinging onto its face and blinding it like that. Now Emerald and Paul were free, they sprang into action.

"Abyss, use Electro Ball on Gyarados!" Emerald cried.

"Lairon, take that guy down and stop him escaping!" Paul commanded.

Both their Pokémon wasted no time acting. Abyss fired an Electro Ball at Gyarados, the Wimpod jumping off at the last minute so he wouldn't get hit as well. The electrical attack hit Gyarados and knocked it out instantly. Gyarados had a double weakness to Electric attacks so it had no chance of taking the hit. It was electrocuted by the attack and brought down in a matter of seconds. Its huge body crashed onto the ground, making it shudder from the impact. While that had happened, Lairon had charged towards the man and head butted him. Its huge, iron armour made its head butt feel like being hit by a speeding car. He fell down onto his back and cried out. He wondered if the Steel/Rock Pokémon had smashed a rib with that attack. He was in too much pain to get up again, wincing in agony as he tried to move. Ashley and Sapphire got to their feet and ran over to the man. They dug the Dynamax bands out of his pocket and handed Emerald and Paul theirs while they put their own back on their wrists.

After that, Sapphire decided that the man hadn't quite suffered enough yet so she kicked him viciously in his side. The man cried out and coughed heavily, his ribs feeling like they were about to crack.

"That was for trying to steal from us!" she snarled.

And then she followed up by bringing her foot down right between the man's legs. He let out a scream that made the stalactites tremble and threaten to come down on top of him. Emerald winced whereas Ashley broke out laughing. Even Paul managed to smile at that. It served that creep right for what he'd done to them! The man doubled up and clutched his tender spot in anguish. He was in so much pain that he thought his heart would give out on him.

"And THAT was for trying to kill my sister and Paul and webbing Ashley to the wall!" Sapphire growled.

She sighed heavily, not used to getting so angry and reacting so violently. She walked back over to Emerald and embraced her, relieved that she was alright now. Emerald hugged her back to ease her flared nerves.

"That was definitely a close one!" Emerald cried, "I really thought that creep was going to get away with it!"

"I've really underestimated Wimpods." Paul acknowledged, "That one saved us all."

The Wimpod crawled up to the trainers, glad to see that everyone was safe now. Emerald knelt down and patted it graciously.

"Thank you so much, Wimpod! You're a hero!" she complimented, "That man would've made off with our Dynamax bands if you didn't come into help!"

"I had no idea that I was so much braver than I thought." the Wimpod mumbled, "I guess it was just that you were all in danger and I just…wanted to help. My cowardice just…vanished and I ran in to help."

"We're very grateful to you." Ashley said happily, "You're a very heroic Pokémon, and very brave to take on a Gyarados like that!"

The Wimpod smiled bashfully. It felt good to be brave and prove it wasn't such a wimp after all. But then suddenly, something amazing happened. A bright white flash lit up the cavern and Paul watched in astonishment as completely out of nowhere, his Lairon was starting to evolve! The girls watched as Lairon grew in size and started to change from a quadrupedal stance to a bipedal stance. Paul must've trained this Lairon really hard if it was evolving now as they usually took a while to do so! Lairon was gone and in its place stood the mighty and powerful Aggron.

Aggron were first discovered in the Hoenn region and lived in the Crown Tundra area of Galar. They were Rock/Steel types just like their predecessors and resembled iron-coated dinosaurs. It had two long, sharp horns protruding from its head, powerful jaws, thick arms and legs, a large powerful tail and powerful jaws. They were highly beloved amongst trainers for being extremely powerful and cool looking Pokémon. Emerald and Sapphire were in awe, their eyes twinkling with admiration.

"Wow, it's an Aggron!" Emerald exclaimed, "It's so cool!"

"I didn't think it'd evolve already!" Sapphire cried, "Congratulations Paul!"

Paul said nothing. He had used an Aggron back during his Sinnoh journey so seeing one again wasn't too special for him. At least he now had a fully evolved Pokémon in time for his next Gym Battle. Kabu would have some trouble dealing with THIS Pokémon! For now, Paul had another use for Aggron. He ordered Aggron to put its foot down on the man. The Aggron obeyed. The man cried out as the huge Pokémon put its foot on him. He was still hurting from Sapphire kicking him and now he had more pain to deal with as the Aggron put its foot on him. If Paul wanted to, he could get Aggron to stomp on him and smash his ribcage to pieces. But Paul was no killer, he had no intention of murdering the man.

"OK, it's time you started answering questions." Paul declared, "What's your deal with us? What do you want our Dynamax bands for? You better talk or I'll get Aggron to apply the pressure on you. Maybe you'll realize how it felt for me and Emerald when you were crushing us."

"No Paul, don't kill him!" Emerald cried in horror.

"I'm not, I'm just giving him a little…persuasion." the Sinnoh boy said with a dark smile on his face.

His persuasion was more than enough for the man caved in immediately. What else could he do when he had this huge metal dinosaur pinning him down and ready to crush him with a simple move of his foot?


"How pathetic." Paul taunted, sounding amused that he'd broken so easily, "So go on, answer my questions and Aggron will let you go."

"I work for a pair of brothers named Sordward and Shielbert!" the man rasped, sweating furiously as he spoke, "They want Team Royal to collect as much Wishing Stars as possible and given Dynamax Bands contain Wishing Stars, I thought it'd make sense to take the bands so they could have the Wishing Stars in them!"

"And why do those "Sordward and Shielbert" jerks want the Wishing Stars?" Ashley demanded.

"They didn't tell me, they only said that it was part of their plan to unveil the true nature of Galar's heroes!" the man whimpered, "That's all I know, honest!"

That made the twins feel very nervous. Unveil the true nature of Galar's heroes? So this plan of theirs involved Zacian and Zamazenta in some way! But how would gathering Wishing Stars "unveil their true nature"? What was the idea behind this plan? Whatever it was, it sounded ominous and they would rather not find out. They would prefer to stop this plan before it could be carried out.

"You swear that's everything?" Ashley said firmly, "You swear you're not keeping anything from us?"

"I have a giant metal rock monster threatening to crush me! Do you think I'm stupid enough to keep anything from you?!" the man exclaimed indignantly.

"Thank you." Paul said sarcastically, "Aggron, knock him out."

The Aggron obeyed, lifting its foot away from the man and then using its new hand to punch him in the side of his head, not hard enough to kill but just enough to render him unconscious. The girls winced, glad that they hadn't been on the receiving end of that punch. The moment he passed out, Paul had Aggron pick the man up and drape him over its shoulder.

"We'll get that man to a police station." Paul declared, "I suggest you two call the Champion and warn her about what's happened tonight. She will want to know about this." he said, looking at Emerald and Sapphire.

"We couldn't agree more." Sapphire replied, "Ruby won't allow this Team Royal to carry out their plan on her watch!"

"You take care of yourself from now on." Emerald warned, "If there's more of them out there, they might try and get you again."

"Let them try. They're no match for me." Paul boasted.

"Yeah, five minutes ago you were being crushed half to death by a Gyarados." Ashley retorted, "Please take Emerald's warning seriously for all of us were really lucky we managed to foil them this time."

Paul nodded as if Ashley had made a fair point. He and his Aggron headed on out of the mine to take the man away. He wouldn't be walking free anytime soon once they dropped him off to the Galar Police Station. Once he'd gone, Emerald took out her Rotom phone so she could call Ruby. In a matter of seconds, her call was answered and her sister's face filled the screen. It seemed that it must be later than they thought for Ruby was in her pyjamas, sitting up in bed and rubbing her eyes as if they'd just woken her up. She yawned loudly.

"Do you mind, Em? I was just getting to sleep and you woke me." Ruby mumbled sleepily.

Emerald remembered that due to her life as Champion of Galar, Ruby went to bed earlier than before to get more sleep and be more refreshed for whatever the next day may have for her. She hated having to wake her up but this was an emergency.

"I'm so very sorry Ruby, but you HAVE to hear this!" Emerald said, stressing the word "have" to emphasize that it really was important.

Ruby blinked away her tiredness and stared closer at her phone screen. The urgency on her sister's face told her that this was serious and she was already feeling worried on what she was about to hear.

"Oh gosh, nothing bad happened to you and Sapph, did it?" Ruby asked anxiously.

She sat still in her bed as Emerald, Sapphire and Ashley all recounted their experience with the Team Royal Man they'd just defeated. Ruby took in the entire story with barely any movement and complete silence. Upon mentioning the fact he worked for Sordward and Shielbert, Ruby's face had gone very pale. To her sisters, it looked as if all the colour in her face had just vanished, been drained out of her in an instant. Ruby didn't speak for a long minute after they finished. She soon recovered and swore, pounding the bed angrily.

"Those scum-sucking pair of twerps!" she screeched furiously, "First they call me and Sonia liars and accuse us of making things up about the true history of Galar, now they have men attacking trainers and stealing from them?! For god's sake, just what the hell is their problem?!"

"My thoughts exactly." Ashley sighed, "If it hadn't been for a heroic little Wimpod, that man would've gotten away with our bands and the Wishing Stars in them would've been theirs for the taking."

"I'd catch that Wimpod if I were you." Ruby said, looking at her sisters, "It's earned a place in your party for saving you from that man's Gyarados. For now, I'm glad you brought this to my attention." she continued, her face cold and serious, "I will NOT tolerate arseholes like those brothers and their men stealing from innocent trainers and using the Wishing Stars for whatever evil plot they have! Come the morning, I'm gonna have the entire region on high alert and comb all of Galar for these people! Once we arrest all of Team Royal and the brothers, we'll be able to enjoy the rest of the Gym Challenge in peace and rest easy knowing whatever plan they have will never come to pass."

"I still can't stop worrying over what that man meant by "unveiling the true nature of Galar's heroes"." Emerald put in, her face showing that she really was worried, "That's why they're gathering Wishing Stars according to him. Just what did he mean by that?"

"Aside from the plan involving Zacian and Zamazenta at some point, I have no idea." Ruby muttered thoughtfully, "Wishing Stars mean nothing to those two. They ARE the ones that stopped Eternatus after all, past and present, so how they intend to "reveal their true nature" with Wishing Stars makes no sense to me."

"Since I'm new here, can you fill me in on these "Zacian and Zamazenta" fellas?" Ashley asked, genuinely lost on who they were talking about, "I'm still learning about Galar so sorry if I seem slow on the uptake." she said sheepishly.

The sisters quickly explained everything about the duo that had saved Galar from the apocalyptic power of Eternatus in ancient times and last year. Ashley took this in with interest.

"I hope I get to meet those Pokémon someday. They sound really awesome!" the teenager cried, "But taking all that in, it really makes no sense on what those dumb-named brothers have in mind. Wouldn't giving them Wishing Stars just make them more powerful? How would that exactly reveal their "true nature"?" she questioned.

"No idea, and I hope we never find out." Ruby said grimly, "Though given they hate the truth that they were Galar's heroes, I wouldn't be surprised if this is some sick twisted scheme to try and tarnish their reputations, like try and turn them evil or something."

"If so then their plan's still stupid as Wishing Stars don't turn Pokémon evil, they make them Dynamax." Sapphire noted, "It's clear whatever they're up to has more steps to it than we think."

"Too right." Ruby concurred, "If we can arrest them before their plan can be executed, then we don't have to worry about what it is. For now, the most we can do is get a good night's sleep. We can't track them down if we're too tired the next day."

"Absolutely." Emerald agreed, "I feel completely shattered! We'll see you tomorrow Ruby."

"You too, girls." Ruby said softly, "Good luck in your next Gym tomorrow. I'm sure you'll win that Fire Badge in no time!"

"We will!" Emerald declared, "And I bet you'll stop Sordward and Shielbert in no time too!"

"I think you've got the easier task than me at the minute." Ruby chuckled, "Goodnight everyone. And don't worry about Team Royal, they WILL be stopped!"

The girls nodded in agreement. After that, Emerald's phone screen went blank as Ruby hung up. There was nothing more to do for tonight. Emerald and Sapphire would go back to the Budew Drop Inn and get a well-earned night's rest as Ruby had said. If they were to be on the lookout for more of Team Royal, they needed to be bright eyed and alert. Nobody caught criminals on little sleep. While the twins would continue their Gym Challenge, they would still help out if ever they could in rounding up Team Royal. The way they saw it, they could kill two birds with one stone. They returned all their Pokémon and were about to head on out but Ashley coughed to get their attention.

"Um, it looks like someone wants to join you." she said, motioning down at her feet.

The twins turned around and saw that the Wimpod had started following them. Emerald slapped her forehead in exasperation. Duh! How could they have forgotten the very Pokémon that had saved them?! Had they seriously been about to walk off without it?! Emerald knelt down in front of the Wimpod.

"So, have you changed your mind about coming with me?" she asked politely.

"W-well, I th-thought I'd be u-useless to you since I'm a c-cowardly Pokémon," the Wimpod said glumly, "B-but then I r-ran in to help you fight off th-that man…and I see that I'm c-clearly braver than I th-thought. So m-maybe I will be useful after all. If I c-can be part of your team, and show of j-just how brave I r-really am, w-would that be alright with you?"

"Of course it would!" Emerald said happily, "I wanted you to join me in the first place so why wouldn't it be OK? I'm thrilled you want to come after all!"

She picked the Wimpod up and hugged him as a way of thanking him for everything. The Wimpod nuzzled against her chest. It felt…good to be shown love and affection like this. He felt warm inside from the tips of his antennae to the tip of his tail. Sapphire and Ashley awed at the tender scene. Why was it so wonderful to see such love between a trainer and his or her Pokémon?

"You'll be very welcome on the team, Slasher." Emerald declared, "We'll train you up and get you to become a big, strong Golisopod in no time!"

"I can't wait." Slasher said brightly, "I'd love to be strong and brave like Golisopod are."

"And you will with me!" Emerald piped.

She gave Slasher his own Pokéball to go into. Once he was absorbed inside the device, she put the Pokéball away. She was ready to go but there was one more thing that Ashley wanted to do first. The perky twin looked at her, wondering what it was. Then to her surprise, and Sapphire's also…Ashley wrapped her arms around the blue haired girl and hugged her! Sapphire gasped as she found her body suddenly pressed up against her crush. Her arms felt strong and gentle around her, showing this girl clearly knew her own strength. Sapphire blushed bright red but she still managed to smile despite that.

"Thank you for freeing me after I got webbed up." Ashley said graciously.

"Oh g-g-gosh…d-d-don't m-mention it, i-i-i-it w-was nothing r-really…" Sapphire said bashfully.

Emerald hid her face behind her hands and tried not to laugh. She imagined Sapphire was going to consider this a good night solely for that! Now that was done, the three walked on out of the mine together, deciding that it was best if they did so in case anything else happened. Emerald kept to herself and let Sapphire and Ashley walk together, feeling she'd want that. All-in-all, tonight was at least ending on a bright note. The man had been arrested and they still had their Dynamax bands ready for tomorrow's Gym Battle with Kabu in the Motostoke City Gym. With any luck, Ruby might arrest all of Team Royal, including their ringleaders. But a task like that was always easier said than done…


Oleana was not at all pleased with the news she was about to give. She hadn't known her new employers for very long, but she already knew they would be the kind of people that wouldn't tolerate bad news. How would they react when she told them what had happened? Or at least what she assumed had happened. She'd lost contact with the man in the second Galar Mine and had come to the conclusion he was incapacitated. He was probably in a jail cell right now.

She approached what looked like a sword and shield sitting in a pair of chairs side-by-side with a coffee table sandwiched between them. But the weird thing was, the sword and shield…were sitting atop a pair of shoulders. Sordward and Shielbert had taken their names quite literally to the point they, in a way, had let it go to their heads.

Sordward was the older, taller brother of the duo. He was dressed in a fancy blue suit and bow tie with his blonde hair done up to look like his name sake. He had two curls on either side of his head resembling a sword hilt and the rest of his hair stood up straight to resemble a sword blade. He foolishly believed this look made him strong and noble. It made him look like the village idiot.

Shielbert was the younger, smaller brother who was dressed in the same kind of suit as Sordward, only in red instead of blue and his blonde hair was done up to resemble a shield. Unlike Sordward, the weapon he was named after made for a more practical hairstyle, though he still looked utterly ridiculous with how big it looked.

How a pair of brothers with such ludicrous hairstyles ever believed they were anything special was anyone's guess. Even Oleana had burst out laughing at the sight of them when she'd met the two in person earlier today. They hadn't appreciated that at all and warned her that if she didn't taken them seriously, she could go back to her community service and forget all about paying Ruby back. The ex-secretary bowed to the brothers.

"Evening Sordward and Shielbert." she muttered, sounding as if she was greeting a pair of undesirable people rather than her current benefactors.

"I do hope your being here brings news of a most desirable kind to hear." Sordward said, his voice radiating arrogance and superiority.

Both he and Shielbert always spoke in overly posh accents that, in their minds, made them sound like they'd been raised by her majesty herself. Instead, it made them sound incredibly pretentious.

"I'm afraid not, sirs." Oleana said grimly, "I've lost contact with Henry. He's not responding to me at all. I fear he may have been captured or arrested."

The brothers stiffened, clearly unhappy with the news they'd received. Oleana was right, they WEREN'T the kind of people who liked to hear bad news. She kept her face blank as the brothers took a moment to process what they'd heard. She was expecting them to throw something in rage. But instead, they sighed heavily and folded their legs. It was comical to see how the brothers felt the need to mimic each other's movements, almost like they were mirror images of each other despite their differing heights, hairstyles and suit colours.

"That is…unfortunate." Shielbert said bluntly, "Team Royal has only just started and already one of our own gets caught!"

"At least it's just one man for now." Sordward preened, "We still have plenty more to spare. Team Royal won't be taken down so easily."

"If I were you two, I'd be a little more concerned." Oleana said irritably, "What if Henry starts talking and reveals to the authorities what we're planning? What if the Champion learns about what we're planning because of him?"

"They won't figure it out." Sordward said dismissively, "We haven't told our men everything. They couldn't give anyone all the details even if they wanted to. If anyone wants to interrogate them, they'll only get a vague outline of what we're up to."

"Not to mention we still have your plan, Miss Oleana." Shielbert purred, "Nobody will see that coming."

Oleana nodded. That was true. Nobody knew her plan other than herself and the brothers so nobody on Team Royal would be able to give that away. They would only be clued in when it was time to execute said plan. Henry's arrest wouldn't impede their scheme in anyway.

"I still suggest we keep as low a profile as possible." Oleana muttered, "We don't want to draw too much attention to ourselves."

"I quite agree." Shielbert concurred, "We'll have our men flee the moment things get too much for them to avoid being arrested, and we'll cease all attempts to steal Dynamax Bands from trainers."

"We'll even keep all attacks on trainers to minimum." Sordward added, "But there are two that we won't leave alone for now."

Oleana already knew which two trainers he was referring to.

"Don't you think it's awfully risky plotting to kidnap the Champion's sisters?" the stoic woman asked cautiously, "You agree we need to keep a low profile, but kidnapping Ruby's sisters isn't exactly going to help with that."

"They'll be used as leverage over the Champion." Shielbert replied.

"If we have Emerald and Sapphire in our custody, we can force Ruby to do whatever we wish." Sordward explained, "We'll even stop her from calling for help and making this public by threatening their lives. We can even force her to help gather Wishing Stars for our scheme! She maybe the Champion, but even Champions have a weakness to exploit."

Oleana still felt that it was foolish for them to try this. The moment they kidnapped Emerald and Sapphire, the entire Galar region would be on a massive manhunt for all of Team Royal and everything would fall apart! But she supposed they had a point. If they had the two, then Ruby would be forced to do whatever they said. Going public with the news wouldn't help her as they could easily kill the two if she so much as breathed a word about this to anyone. She would never admit it to the brothers, but she hoped it wouldn't come to that as despite everything, Oleana wasn't up for murder of any kind, especially children. But she liked the idea of having the Champion of Galar under her thumb and forced to do her's and the brother's every bidding. That would feel VERY satisfying! It was only a matter of if the duo played their cards right and their men did a considerably better job than Henry did at not being caught.

"Understood, sirs." Oleana said, "I wish you both goodnight for now."

"You too." Sordward replied, "And hopefully tomorrow shall be a better day for us."

The brothers looked over at each other and smirked gleefully. They were looking forward to having Emerald and Sapphire brought to them. How much fun it was going to be to have the Champion kowtowing to their every command for the sake of their safety! With Ruby forced to work for them, their plot couldn't possibly fail now…__________________________________________________________________________________

Ruby delivered what she promised.

The next day came and the first thing Ruby did was stand outside Wyndon Stadium and call for a live press conference so she could give a message to the whole of Galar. Leon was beside her, having been filled in on everything that had happened last night before Ruby called for this. He'd been the first person Ruby had called upon waking up. Cameras were trained on Ruby and reporters were fighting to be the first to report on the story. Penny Chalmers was even in the crowd, wanting to get the news so she could talk about it on her next Pokécast episode. Ruby gave her announcement.

"It's been brought to my attention that a new criminal organization threatens the safety of all Pokémon trainers in the Galar region." the silver-haired girl said, her voice amplified by the microphone in front of her, "They call themselves "Team Royal" and they're led by a pair of brothers named Sordward and Shielbert. Please don't laugh at their names, this is serious." she said firmly, noticing a few smiles from the crowd watching her.

"We've already arrested one of their men." Leon put in, "And we hope to comb the rest of the region for all the other Team Royal members that maybe hiding out there. If you see anyone assaulting innocent trainers and trying to steal from them, take them out and report them to the authorities at once. If you're unskilled as a Pokémon trainer, do NOT engage these people in battle!"

"We believe they have some kind of plot involving the gathering of Wishing Stars." Ruby continued, "We also believe that it involves Galar's heroes in some way. Whatever it is, Team Royal are dangerous and as long as they and their leaders remain free, then the safety of our region could be in jeopardy! We saved Galar from the Darkest Day last year, so I know we can stop those criminals before they can be a threat to the region. We'll give further details once more information about Team Royal comes forward. Stay safe, Pokémon trainers! And stay alert. I promise you as Champion of Galar that these criminals WILL be locked up!"

Everyone watching the news at home heard the story. Even Annie had been watching back home in Postwick Town and she was glad to see her daughter was taking her responsibility as Champion so seriously that she was calling for this manhunt on Team Royal. At the same time, she couldn't help but worry if Emerald and Sapphire would ever be at risk as long as these criminals continued to roam free. She hugged her Munchlax tightly for comfort.

"Please stay safe for the rest of your journey, my girls…" Annie said to herself.

Emerald and Sapphire had also seen the news report, glad that Ruby had kept true to what she said she'd do and had got the entire region looking out for Team Royal. They had been watching on the TV in their hotel room after waking up. After last night, they had slept like a pair of logs, barely staying awake long enough to get to their room and falling asleep the minute they flopped down on their beds. They hadn't even managed to stay awake long enough to change into their pyjamas. After seeing the news report, they'd called for room service to bring some breakfast to them. After eating, they'd set off to Motostoke Stadium to have their Gym Battle with Kabu.

Now that Galar was on the lookout for Team Royal and its leaders, the twins could focus on their Gym Challenge and not have to worry about running into them again. If they did, they'd just help in rounding them up and getting the team jailed like they deserved to be. Sapphire was going first so Emerald waited in the lobby for her turn. She watched her sister's battle on the TV screen, sitting by herself. But she wasn't alone for long for two other people sat beside her. Emerald yelped, worried if it was anyone from Team Royal creeping up on her. Luckily for her, it was nothing of the sort. Ashley and Paul had showed up too and were patiently waiting for their turn to battle Kabu. Ashley had seen Emerald sitting by herself and decided to join her. Paul only came along after Ashley suggested it.

"Hi Em! Did ya sleep well after finally getting back to the inn?" Ashley asked.

"Me and Sapph were out like a pair of lights!" Emerald chuckled, "I thought I'd sleep for the rest of my life after that exhausting day! Did you two see the news when you got up?"

"We did." Paul confirmed, "Ruby's got everyone looking out for Team Royal. If those pathetic losers think they can pull one on us again, they're in for a big surprise."

"Arresting them all won't be easy, but I'm sure it can be done." Ashley said optimistically, "With the entire region on high alert, they won't hide from the law!"

"I think once we arrest Sordward and Shielbert, that'll be the end of everything." Emerald deduced, "No leaders means no one to lead the team and then their threat will be over. I'd love it if it was me and Sapph that arrested those two!" she declared.

"Speaking of your sister, it looks as if Kabu's down to his last Pokémon." Paul acknowledged.

He had seen Sapphire on the TV screen and as he'd noticed, Kabu was indeed down to his last Pokémon. He was already bringing his Centiskorch to the field while Sapphire had Spike the Nidoking out in play. She had only used Spike throughout the entire battle. She'd given him a TR that taught him Drill Run before the Gym battle had started and he'd used it to knock out his other Pokémon with ease. Now the final battle was here, Spike vs. Centiskorch. It didn't matter if Kabu managed to defeat Spike for Sapphire still had five other Pokémon left. It was a battle she couldn't lose.

The three teens watched as Sapphire and Kabu Dynamaxed their Pokémon. For Paul and Ashley, this was the first time they had seen Gigantamaxing in action as Kabu's Centiskorch was capable of it. They watched as the small fire bug grew in size and changed shape as its body grew much longer the flames on its head grew in length too. It wasn't just growing in size, it was pretty much becoming a whole new form. Nidokings don't have Gigantamax forms so Spike could only Dynamax. Not that it mattered as it was all he needed. It was a spectacular sight for the audience and any trainers in the lobby watching to behold, a colossal fiery centipede against a giant poisonous dinosaur creature. Matchups like this were what made Pokémon battles such a spectacle to behold. Emerald watched with excited eyes as Sapphire made the first move. Despite streaming with sweat from the heat of the arena, Sapphire looked utterly confident and in complete control of herself.

"Let's win that Gym Badge, Spike!" she declared, "Use Max Airstream!"

Spike roared savagely as he opened his mouth and blasted Centiskorch with a huge tornado of winds. After the heat of the arena, the attack came as a relief for Sapphire as the winds momentarily cooled her down for the moment. The tornado hit Centiskorch and pushed it back a little. The giant fire bug could barely take the hit as it was mercilessly battered by the blustering winds. The attack hadn't finished Centiskorch off but it had done a lot of damage. Another Max Airstream would finish the fight. After the attack had landed, Spike glowed briefly as an orange light swept up him. Max Airstream had the additional effect of increasing the user's speed so Spike would move faster than before. Kabu ordered Centiskorch to use Max Flare. The Gigantamaxed Pokémon let out a giant blast of flames that swept over Spike. Sapphire held an arm up over her eyes to protect herself from the blinding light of the flames. She could feel the heat despite the attack being aimed at her Pokémon. Spike crossed his arms in front of his face and took the blow, barely even flinching as he was hit. Kabu may as well not have bothered attacking with what little effect it had on Spike. The fight ended very quickly as Sapphire ordered Spike to use one last Max Airstream on his opponent. Centiskorch was hit by the attack and brought down, the giant centipede laying down on the floor and shrinking back to normal size. It reverted to its normal form too. Emerald leapt out of her seat with joy as the announcer's voice declared the outcome.

"Centiskorch is unable to battle! Nidoking is the winner! The winner of the Motostoke Gym Challenge is Sapphire Silverlock from Postwick Town and she progresses to the next Gym!"

"Yay! Go Sapphire!" Emerald hollered, "You've won your third badge!"

"I really helped her out by giving her that Moon Stone." Ashley said brightly, "Her Nidoking's a right beast! I bet he'll get her far in this Gym Challenge."

"He will!" Emerald cried, "And now she's won her battle, it'll be me next as I'm scheduled to go after her! Are you two going to watch me as well?"

"Of course." Ashley insisted, "We're waiting for our matches so we may as well watch you, haven't we?"

"You better show the strength you've shown me against that Gym Leader." Paul said dryly, "Kabu looks like a powerful opponent."

"He is." the girl in green confirmed, "Most Gym Challengers tend to fall when they get to him. I won't, just like Sapphire didn't! I've got the perfect team to match up to a Fire-type Gym Leader!"

She looked at the screen just as Sapphire and Kabu were shaking hands with each other.

"Watch out Kabu, I'm coming for my next Gym Badge!" Emerald declared as if she could somehow make herself heard to Kabu on the TV screen.


Pokémon obtained: Slasher the Wimpod: (Gender: Male, Nature: Naughty, Ability: Wimp Out (it switches out when its health is low)

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