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Emerald Knights: A Pokémon Sword Story Mini Chapter 1

Updated: May 2

Mini-chapter: Ruby's Date

Author's Note: This chapter takes place before Chapter 13.

The evening arrived and Ruby had never felt more ready for a time like this in her life.

Both she and Hop had discussed with their mothers what they planned on doing tonight and of course, Annie and Judy were over the moon to hear that their children were having their first date. They had noticed over the year that had gone by that Ruby and Hop were clearly interested in each other and had wondered if their friendship would soon blossom into romance.

Ruby had gone to her room and fallen asleep the moment she sunk into her bed. She'd never been so happy to get into it in her life. She slept the rest of the afternoon and woke up at 5:00pm. That was good timing as the Postwick Pizzeria was a short walk away so she wouldn't need to hurry. Just to smarten herself up a little, she gave her hair a good brush. Should she style it or go as normal? In the end, she decided to go as normal. Maybe on a more serious date at a later time, she'd go with a style. She wondered if Hop would like her with a ponytail.

After that, she'd kissed her mum goodbye and headed on out of the house to the Postwick Pizzeria. The restaurant stood where it always did, separated from the local clothes shop on the edge of town. The window sported the familiar logo it always had, a farmhouse decorated with a pizza symbol, which befitted Postwick Town's status as an old farming town. It was even said that the pizzas here were made with ingredients fresh from the local farms from the flour used for the pizza dough to the milk that made the cheese they topped them with. To Ruby, no pizza tasted better than the ones made here. It was the perfect place for her first date.

Ruby arrived with five minutes to spare and stood outside the restaurant waiting for Hop. To not look so conspicuous tonight, she'd left Leon's cape at home and gone back to her original leather jacket that she'd worn throughout her journey last year. She still had the Champion T-shirt on at least. At 5:30 exactly, Hop arrived. Ruby knew he would as Hop wasn't the kind of boy to be late for anything. Even a year later hadn't changed his tendency to hurry and be on time or be early. As Hop approached his love, Ruby instantly noticed that he'd done something with his hair. He looked much neater and somewhat smarter now that he'd flattened it down and given it a bit of a comb.

"Hey Hop. Your hair looks different." Ruby commented.

"I know you said we can keep it casual, but I thought giving it a comb would just look nicer." Hop said casually, "Do you like it?"

"Sure! It makes you look pretty neat, a word I never thought I'd describe you with." Ruby said brightly.

"Thanks!" Hop said cheerfully, "You look lovely too." he added, taking note of Ruby's neatly brushed hair.

"Hop, I could walk through a swamp and you'd still think I look lovely." Ruby teased, "But thank you."

The two teens walked into the restaurant together, holding hands as they did so. The smell of baking pizza hit them as they walked in. As Ruby had fallen asleep after talking with her mother, Annie had been the one to do the bookings. She'd arranged for the two to have a table reserved for them in the far corner of the restaurant so they could have some privacy away from most of the other diners. Annie knew Ruby would've wanted that as this was meant to be her time to relax, not be surrounded by people clamouring for an autograph. The table had a single lit candle in the centre. Ruby and Hop sat down and picked up the menus. Nothing much had changed since last time they'd eaten here aside from some new sides and starters that had been added.

"Mmm…I fancy the nachos to start off." Ruby said as her eyes scanned the menu, "How about you?"

"Can't say no to nachos." Hop said brightly, "And for a main, how's about we share a Hot Dog Pizza between us? That's gonna be mint!"

"I knew you'd like that. That's like two of your favourite things at once." the Champion chuckled, "We'll go with that, it does sound delicious."

They placed their orders as a waiter came over with some drinks for them. The two teens were having a cola each. Once the waiter left, Ruby and Hop took a sip of their drinks and turned to each other. At first they weren't too sure what to do as they waited for the food to come. This was their first date. What did people usually do in this situation? Ruby decided to just start a conversation and they could see how things went from there.

"How have you been lately?" she asked, "And how are your Pokémon doing? I haven't seen Dubwool and the gang for a while."

"Dubwool and the others are right as rain." Hop replied, "My mates are just enjoying life as it is, though they do hope to one day have a rematch with you some day."

"You could always try again for the Champion Cup and see if you can challenge me for the title." Ruby suggested.

"I could, but I've honestly started to grow out of the idea of ever replacing Lee." Hop said dismissively, "Ever since you became the Champion, it just felt so…right for some reason, and I feel I couldn't ever be the one to take the title from you. It'd feel like I'm stealing your win from you."

"Shouldn't you feel that way about me?" Ruby asked, "I mean being the Champion was YOUR dream at first. I only wanted to be a trainer and I just took the Gym Challenge to see if I could do it. I kinda stole your dream from you when I became the Champion instead." she added, almost sounding guilty about it.

"True, you got a point there." the dark-skinned teen admitted, "But with how hard you worked to get where you are now…I couldn't undermine all that effort by being your successor. If we ever have a rematch, I'm fine with it being just between friends and not in Wyndon Stadium."

"It suits me just fine." the silver-haired girl replied, "So have you considered what else to do with your life now that you've given up becoming the Champion? I mean, aside from us maybe getting together."

"I've been giving it a lot of thought." Hop murmured, "And I have something in mind. It might sound crazy to you, mate, but…I'm considering possibly becoming a Pokémon Professor."

Ruby's eyes widened for a moment as the surprise of Hop's answer jolted her.

"A Pokémon Professor?" Ruby blurted, "Wow…I never struck you as the scientific type, Hop! What's made you decide on that?"

"To be honest, I'm not so sure." Hop said thoughtfully, "I guess Sonia's promotion to Professor and her success with her book made me wonder if I could be a Pokémon Professor and I thought if it's something I'd like. I love Pokémon so getting to study them along with Sonia would be fun, and I'd get to help a lot of people too. While the studying's going to be a bit of a drag, I'm sure I'll get the hang of it if I have Sonia and her gran helping."

"You won't get better mentors than those two." Ruby said supportively, "I have to say that being a Pokémon Professor was the last thing I expected you to consider. Not that I'm saying it's a bad idea obviously, I actually like it. It's just with your hyperactive personality, I wouldn't be able to imagine you in a career like that." she said, hoping she'd chosen her words carefully so as not to offend her friend.

"I get ya." Hop said casually, "I've always been the kind of guy to rush into things. I even wondered if I wasn't going too far out of my comfort zone when I thought of the idea."

"Trying new things can be daunting." the silver-haired girl agreed, "As exciting as it was becoming a Pokémon trainer at last, it was still a big change for me and I wasn't sure if I could pull it off as well as I did. I guess the only advice I can offer is to give it a shot and see if it works for you." she suggested.

"You know what? I bet Lee would've said the same thing if I'd been talking to him about this." Hop chuckled, "I see being Champion has made you a little like him in some ways."

"Well I am wearing his cape and I have my own signature pose like he does, I also have my own Charizard like he does and now I'm offering advice to you like him so I guess you're right." Ruby said, giggling, "Next thing you know my hair will turn purple and I'll be using his catchphrase!"

The two teens laughed. If any diners heard them, they would have to admit that the duo sounded like they were having a lovely time together. Any date that featured laughter was the sign of a good one.

"Every time I watch your matches now, I do wonder if you'll ever say "Let's have a Champion time" like Lee did." Hop chortled.

"It's tempting, I'll admit, but I would rather carve out my own identity and not be seen as "Leon's replacement" or "The next Leon" to people." Ruby insisted, "It's why I developed my own signature pose instead of copying his for example."

"I get ya." the purple haired boy concurred, "While we're still talking about him, how's things going with that Battle Tower idea he thought up last year?"

"Last I heard, it's been a big success." Ruby answered, "After taking over Rose Tower and turning it into the Battle Tower, he's had many trainers coming in to show what they're made of. Trainers that get a big winning streak can win great prizes, such as Bottle Cops that can be used to hyper-train Pokémon and make them even stronger than before. You can see why so many are just dying to have a go at it."

"Have you been in it yourself?"

"Funny you should ask! Me and Leon had a rematch together in the Battle Tower yesterday. After my guest appearance in The Pokécast, I returned to Wyndon and Leon asked me if I fancied a battle with him. It was a close one, but I managed to come out on top again."

"Still showing why you're the one to succeed him, eh?"

"True that."

The conversation was cut short as the waiter arrived with their starter. A bowl of nachos was put down on the table between them. The tortilla chips were warm and baked to perfection and had been topped generously with tomato sauce and melted cheese. Ruby and Hop got stuck right in, picking the nachos up one at a time and crunching them happily. The taste was sensational, just as they expected from this restaurant. The chefs certainly hadn't lost their touch since the last time they'd dined here. For the moment, Team Royal, being the Pokémon Champion and the stress of today had all been forgotten about. This was just what Ruby had asked for, a pleasant evening with just her and Hop, nothing more and nothing less. Minutes later, the bowl was completely empty of nachos and the teens were licking the last of the sauce off their fingers.

"Mmm…that was great! I can't wait till the main gets here!" Ruby said happily.

"I hope I'll have room for pudding afterwards." Hop said, "I still wanna try that sundae we saw on the menu."

"If there's one thing I doubt has changed about you, it's your appetite." Ruby joked, "I bet you still have that black hole of a stomach you've always had."

Hop couldn't help smiling. When it came to him and his family, it was no contest on who could eat the most. His mum even joked about how could he eat so much and still look as slim as he did now. Hop just supposed he was blessed with great metabolism.

"Say, Ruby, do you mind if you ask you something?" Hop questioned.

"Sure, go ahead." Ruby replied with interest.

"You know that I have some idea on what I wanna do in the future." Hop began, "So now I wanna ask you the same thing: do you have some idea on what you wanna do in life if…you know, you ever lost your title as Champion to your successor?"

The teen Champion fell silent for a moment. She thought Hop had asked a very good question. She needed a moment to give a satisfying answer. She'd been so caught up in her current life and her duties as Champion that the thought had never occurred to her! Hop began to feel uneasy. Had he made Ruby uncomfortable asking that? He would feel wretched if he spoilt the mood just by asking that. But Ruby didn't seem too troubled. She just drummed her fingers against her cheek and hummed thoughtfully.

"You know…I never thought about that." Ruby murmured. Hop wasn't sure if she was talking to herself or to him, "Gosh, what would I do if I stopped being the Champion…"

She turned to her friend as if she'd forgotten he was sitting next to her and just remembered that he was.

"I honestly don't know what to say." she replied, "At the moment, I'm just so focused on the now that I'm not really thinking about the future. I suppose if I did stop being the Champion, I'd still be a Pokémon trainer and I'd be a new opponent for people to face in the Battle Tower like Leon. Or I could travel to another region and see if I could win that one, kinda like what Ashley's doing."

"I could see you becoming Champion of another region easily!" Hop declared, "If you can conquer Galar, you can conquer any region! I wonder what Ashley would think if you challenged her to become the next Unova Champion?"

"I know Sapph will have a hard time deciding who to root for." Ruby joked, "If I was to go to any other region, I fancy either Kanto or Johto. Even Kalos would be nice to visit as I hear that's a lovely region."

"Well wherever you go, I'll always be right beside you." Hop said supportively.

His hand came to rest on Ruby's as he said so. Ruby looked over at him, smiling appreciatively. Did any girl feel as lucky as her to have a boy as supportive and understanding as Hop? Every day they spent together made her surer of herself that Hop was the perfect boyfriend for her. Ruby put her hand over Hop's, the two teens staring into each other's eyes.

"Hop, I'll forever be glad that you and I became neighbours." Ruby said softly.

"You and me both." Hop concurred.

The two leaned in towards each other, eyes closing and their lips about to connect. But before they could kiss, they heard the waiter approaching their table. Their main course had arrived at last. They separated and watched as their Hot Dog Pizza was placed down on the table. They got stuck in, picking up their first slices before the waiter had even left. The pizza was as delicious as always, tasting just as great as the last time they'd come here. The only sound to come from Ruby and Hop was the occasional "mmm" as they savoured their food. It tasted so good that they wanted it to last as long as possible. At one point, they both held a piece of pizza and crossed arms, leaning close to each other as they took a bite. They couldn't resist giggling as they did this. Despite the size of the pizza, they were able to finish it all.

In the end, they went without dessert. Even Hop felt as if he'd eaten enough. The teens finished their drinks and paid the bill, leaving a tip for the excellent service tonight. Then they left the Postwick Pizzeria, walking hand-in-hand again. They were about to head off home but they decided to wait a moment. A full moon had come out, shining bright like a Christmas decoration in the pitch black sky. They stood together, arms around each other as they admired the moonlight. As if the night couldn't be more beautiful, the teens saw that a flock of Butterfree were flying together through the night sky. Their wings twinkled. Seeing the Butterfree made Ruby think of her own Butterfree, Hawk Moth. Seeing the flock flying together made this moonlit night even more beautiful to watch.

"I swear Hop, a large chunk of the world's beauty comes from the Pokémon we share it with." Ruby whispered.

"You just can't imagine a world without them." Hop concurred.

After the Butterfree flock had flown away, Ruby and Hop made their way back to their homes. They stopped just outside Ruby's house first. Before Ruby went in, she turned to Hop, her hands on his shoulders.

"Thank you for accepting my invite Hop. I had a lovely time." the Champion said graciously.

"No problem at all." Hop said cheerfully, "I enjoyed myself too. Shall we do this again, say next week?"

"We can date again as soon as I'm available." Ruby promised, "I'm sure I can clear a spot up next week for another date. Next time, you can pick where we eat."

"Great!" Hop said happily, "I like the idea of you coming over for dinner one night. Mum's been working on a new curry recipe that I bet you'll love."

"Sounds good." Ruby said brightly.

Hop was about to say goodnight to his love but he soon got a pleasant surprise as Ruby pulled him close and kissed him on the lips. Hop's eyes widened as he hadn't expected that. But he nevertheless returned the kiss and hugged Ruby tightly. The feeling of her in his arms with her own arms around him and their lips locking together was wonderful. They almost didn't want to separate. A minute passed before the kiss ended. Ruby and Hop stood staring at each other, smiling dreamily as if they'd experienced the most wonderful moment of their lives together.

"Good night, cutie." Ruby purred.

"You too, beautiful." Hop replied.

The pet names were corny and they couldn't help blushing in return, but they didn't care. Ruby and Hop waved to each other as they went their separate ways. Hop headed off back to his house while Ruby went into her own. It was a shame this date had to end. Come tomorrow, there'd be Team Royal to deal with again and Ruby had a feeling tomorrow wouldn't be any less stressful than today. But this evening had left her feeling much better and more settled at the very least. She felt like she could handle whatever tomorrow had in store for her.

As Ruby headed up to her bedroom, a sudden thought came to her mind. Team Royal had been trying to steal Dynamax Bands yesterday. Their plan involved unveiling "the true nature" of Zacian and Zamazenta. The plan clearly involved gathering Wishing Stars. So if they wanted to gather Wishing Stars…

Ruby's eyes widened as it all clicked into her. The Hammerlocke City Power Station! That had to be a potential target for Team Royal! She could imagine them plotting to break in and steal as much Galar particles as they could. They'd have enough Wishing Stars to do goodness knows what! Despite this, Ruby wasn't worried at all. If anything, she felt glad to have thought of that sooner rather than later. She smiled a cunning smile to herself. Team Royal thought they were being so clever, being all secretive and thinking they could pull one over her! Well the joke was on them! She'd figured them out without needing them to tell her anything!

She sat on her bed and dialled a number on her Rotom Phone. Seconds later, she was put through and Raihan's face filled the screen.

"Why if it ain't the Champ!" Raihan said jovially, "How's your evening off been?"

"Wonderful." Ruby said happily, "And it's just gotten even better. I think I may have figured out Team Royal's next plan. I have a plan that should put an end to their schemes once and for all…"

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