Knights of Galar: A Pokémon Shield Nuzlocke Chapter 16

Chapter 16: The Fifth Gym


After four straight victories in the Gym Challenge, Ruby Silverlock thought that she'd be prepared for anything. This new Gym, the Fairy Gym, ended up proving otherwise.


Upon getting dressed for the battle and picking her team, she made her way into a room that looked more like she'd stumbled into a theatre company than a Pokémon Gym. There were stage lights hanging from the ceiling, an actual stage just ahead of her with the familiar pink and blue colours of the Fairy Gym on the wall, a table with some seats facing the stage and markings on the floor to mark where the trainers had to stand. If she hadn't been in a Pokémon Gym, Ruby would've wondered if she was about to audition for something instead of actually being here to battle. Did Gym Challengers come here in their spare time to practice singing when they weren't Gym battling?


She quickly saw an elderly woman standing by the stage talking to someone before she turned to notice the teenage girl making her way to her. Ruby recognized her instantly as Opal, the Fairy Gym Leader. It was hard not to recognize a Gym Leader like Opal when she had such a distinctive appearance. She was long and skinny, but she wasn't very tall. She was barely taller than Ruby herself. She had a friendly smile on her wrinkled face and a comically large nose that stretched far out from her face. She was dressed in a pink and blue dress with a huge, purple, oversized furry collar around her neck and shoulders, big pink and blue bracelets and a baby blue hat. She carried an umbrella in one hand that matched the colours of her outfit. Ruby could imagine Opal as a sweet old granny in a fairy story but she knew full well that this old granny was one who was a skilled Gym Leader and knew how to Pokémon battle. She wasn't going to lower her guard around this woman! Opal approached the Postwick girl, very slowly of course as her age had made her rather slow moving. She gave a welcoming smile to her latest challenger.


"Ah, you must be my last challenger of the day." Opal greeted, her voice soft and sweet as if she was addressing her grandchildren, "Though you really are lacking in the colour pink."


"It was never my colour really." Ruby said, rubbing the back of her head, "I always thought pink didn't suit me well. You're not gonna judge me for that, right?"


"Of course not, sweetie! I just like to tease my challengers." Opal said reassuringly, "I assume you know who I am?"


"Yes, you're Opal." Ruby confirmed, "And I guess you know who I am?"


"It'd be hard for me not to recognize that lovely crop of silver hair you have, dearie!" Opal chuckled, "I remember seeing you and Leon's little brother in the opening ceremony. You was introduced as Ruby Silverlock, is that correct?"


"That's me." Ruby said, trying not to sound big-headed, "I've come fresh out of Stow-on-Side's Gym to challenge you."


"Of course, why else would you be here?" the elderly trainer remarked, "Well first, you have to go through the Gym Challengers like with all the others. However, mine have…a little twist to them. You see, I'm looking for a successor to take over as Gym Leader for me. My time is fast approaching so I see it fit to find a successor to be the next Fairy Gym Leader. The battles you will have here are also auditions I hold to see who is worthy for the position."


Ruby took this in with interest. She hadn't expected that her next Gym battle would have an added bonus of something like this. She could see Opal's reasoning as she was clearly very old and probably due for retirement at this point so it was good of her to look for a replacement. But she couldn't be it. She knew in her heart that this wasn't what she came for.


"I understand, Opal. But I can't go through this." Ruby explained, "I'm not on this journey to become a Gym Leader. I'm here to win the challenge and face Leon himself. Being a Gym Leader's not for me, I'm afraid. Besides, I prefer to have a team of any type, not just one."


Opal nodded.


"If that's how you feel, I won't influence your judgement in anyway." she said kindly, "I'll spare you the audition part and just let you face my Gym Challengers as normal. But there's still a little twist to these ones. They'll ask you questions throughout the fights you have and if you answer correctly, your Pokémon's stats will raise and if you get them wrong, they will drop. Consider it a little…touch of fairy magic I like to add to a fight." she said with a mischievous grin, tapping her huge nose.


"So that's the twist behind this Gym's challengers? This should be fun." Ruby said optimistically, "I get to test my knowledge as well as my skills. OK, let's get started!"


And so the Gym Challengers came and went to give Ruby their all and show her what the Fairy Gym had to offer. She fought three female trainers, all of them grey-haired and varying in age, height and eye colour and all sporting various Fairy-type Pokémon. Ruby beat them all effortlessly thanks to having plenty of type-advantages and coverage in her pre-selected team. Scorponok the Drapion had been given a chance to have his first fight against a trainer named Annette, taking out her Slurpuff with a couple of Cross Poison attacks. He'd been amazed at his strength and power and was glad to be using it in a battle that was for fun and sport instead of for more violent means. Vesuvius had proven to be a mighty Pokémon that the Fairy types had to watch out for due to having two battles in which she one-hit KO'd her opponents with a single Heavy Slam. Heavy Slam was a steel-type move that did more damage depending on how much the user outweighed the opponent, a fitting move to give to a giant, walking rock monster with coal on its head. Houdini had put his Steel wing attacks to good use but had had one moment where in one battle, he missed twice in a row and had given his opponent a chance to fight back a bit before finally landing the final blow and finishing the fight. And throughout all this, Ruby had gotten every single question right. The first two had been easy whereas the third had been a question about what Opal ate for breakfast every morning. Ruby went with omelettes, relying on logic to answer the question as who on Earth ate curry for breakfast?


After the Gym Challengers had been dealt with, Ruby started to feel very confident about herself. She was proving to be a worthy Challenger for the Gym and also smart enough to handle Opal's extra challenge. She clearly had both the brains and the brawn to make it through this one! That Fairy Badge was as good as hers!


With the Challengers defeated, Ruby made her way out into the stadium to challenge Opal for the Fairy Badge. The old woman was already in the centre of the arena waiting for her, looking calm and collected, clearly ready for a fight. She stood still with her hands clasped around her umbrella and with her eyes closed. Did she always do this when preparing for a battle? Ruby could imagine her as like a wild Arbok, a snake standing as still as a statue and then waiting for the perfect moment to strike. She'd seen her in action back in the stage room so Ruby knew that Opal wouldn't hold back. She'd be ready for her and give her a tough battle. She took her position opposite Opal and faced her, waiting to begin. She could see the arena had a lot of pink and blue on the floors and the wall, just like on Opal's uniform. Opal wasn't kidding when she made it clear that she liked pink! Just seeing all this pink in the arena made Ruby feel like she was in a cheesy advertisement for girl's dolls. All that was missing was there to be the actual doll itself to advertise and a director to tell her when they were about to start filming. She was looking forward to getting out of here when she was done, all this pink was feeling too much for her. Opal opened her eyes, finally noticing that Ruby had walked into the arena.


"And so here we are, ready to battle at last." Opal purred, "I've gotten a good look at how you handled those quizzes and I can see you're a challenger that's living up to her reputation. It's easy to see how Milo, Nessa, Kabu and Allister fell to you without much of a challenge."


"Don't put them down Opal, they were great to battle." Ruby insisted, not wanting to feel superior to the previous Gym Battles in anyway, "I think most of that was down to beginner's luck more than anything. I certainly never expected I'd beat the first four Gym Leaders on my first try with no losses!"


"Then how's about we see if you can make it a fifth time?" Opal said smoothly.


Was she challenging her? The tone of her voice suggested to Ruby that she was daring her to do so. Ruby had no idea how this was going to go, but she was going to give it a try. The teenager and the elder woman stood by as the announcer's voice boomed from the speakers to introduce them to the audience.


"From Postwick Town: Ruby Silverlock. Her opponent: Gym Leader Opal."


The crowd cheered for the challenger and the Gym Leader, excited to see what was sure to be another exciting Gym battle. They'd gotten to see some great Gym battles here at Ballonlea today and with this being the last match of today, this was no doubt going to be the grand finale for them. Ruby took in the cheers, wondering if the audience had been this excited when watching Marnie fight earlier. She almost pitied Opal that with her being here, this was going to be her second loss in a row. What a way to close out the Fairy Gym's battles of the day! Hopefully tomorrow, Opal would have some victories to make up for that.


"Pokémon Trainers: Standby." the announcer declared.


The audience fell silent once more, waiting for the countdown to begin. Ruby and Opal kept their eyes fixed on each other, waiting for the moment they could summon their first Pokémon. Ruby's stomach tingled with anticipation. She swallowed, noticing her throat was dry. Now she was on the FIFTH Gym of the challenge, she had every right to feel tense. This, she knew, would be when the battles would REALLY get challenging. Opal remained neutral, showing no signs of excitement, anticipation or anxiety. Given she'd been at this for so long, it was easy to imagine she was an expert at remaining cool under pressure.


"Three…Two…One…BEGIN!"


That was their cue and now both trainers reacted instantly as if a switch had been thrown in them. Opal drew out her first Pokémon, which was kept in an Ultra Ball like the ones Kabu kept his in. She tossed the ball delicately as if it was a tennis ball she wanted to play catch with.


"Weezing my dear, time for a dazzle!" the elderly Gym Leader cooed.


The ball opened up and out came the Poison/Fairy type Pokémon, Weezing. Weezing were usually pure Poison type Pokémon, but not this one. Yet again, this was an example of a Pokémon species differing between regions as Galarian Weezing looked very different to ordinary Weezing. Ordinary Weezing looked like a pair of floating purple rocks with a face on each rock and a skull and crossbones logo on the chin of one of the faces. One rock was bigger than the other on Weezing with the faces also differing in size. Galarian Weezing on the other hand were black, had tall top-hat like structures on their heads that seeped gas like they were giant chimneys, a big green gaseous moustache on one face and a big green gaseous beard and eyebrows on the other face. It was overall an extremely odd looking Pokémon and seemed very out of place in a Fairy Gym as it clearly looked more suited for a Poison-type Gym Leader. But Ruby knew what Opal had it. It was half Fairy-type unlike the original Weezing so it counted for this Gym. That would negate the Fairy-type weakness to poison at least due to being half Poison-type itself but Ruby could still take advantage of its other weakness.


"Good thing I have plenty of Pokémon with Steel attacks…" Ruby murmured, "Houdini, you're up first!"


She threw the ball and out came Houdini the Noctowl, spreading his wings and posing for the audience as if he was about to perform a show that would blow them away.


"Hoot." he hooted, "It feels good to be in another Gym to display my impressive power."


"I suspected you'd use that Noctowl again given how well he served you against the Gym Challengers." Opal said thoughtfully, "Let's see how he handles against a Gym Leader."


"You're gonna get him." Ruby declared, "Houdini, Steel Wing!"


"Prepare to fall foul to the power of my mighty wings, gaseous creature!" Houdini declared, taking flight and zooming towards Weezing as if he'd been shout out of a cannon.


His wings glowed white and became solid as steel as he rushed towards his poisonous opponent. He swung one wing straight into the bigger half of Weezing, slamming it straight between the eyes and throwing it backwards with a single blow. Weezing crashed onto the floor and groaned in pain but despite the power of Houdini's attack, Weezing had managed to withstand it. Weezing had good defences, which meant that Houdini would have his work cut out for him. It wasn't going down THAT easily. The audience oohed with anticipation, already seeing this fight was going to get very exciting. Opal registered what had happened and pursed her lips with interest.


"Yes, very powerful indeed. But my Weezing can take a hit." she said confidently, "Weezing, use Sludge!"


The two-faced Pokémon opened both mouths and spat out a huge pile of poisonous sludge towards Houdini. To him, it was like his opponent was vomiting on him. The sludge hit him and he squawked in a mixture of surprise and disgust as the sickly, sticky liquid landed all over him. It was revolting and it smelt horrendous but Houdini hadn't been hurt too much by the attack. He shook off the sludge and lifted himself back off the ground with a flap of his wings. His large eyes narrowed, more keen than ever to win this fight as he couldn't stand the thought of his beautiful feathers being dirtied, especially by disgusting poisonous slime! Ruby was about to order another attack but Opal cut in.


"Now it's time for a question." she said, "My quizzes aren't relegated to just the Gym Challengers. You get them with me too! So: Do you know my nickname?" she asked smoothly.


The audience watched with interest. Some of them knew the answer and some of them didn't so it was going to be interesting to see if the challenger knew. Ruby smiled confidently, seeming to be under no pressure at all.


"That's easy, they call you "the wizard"." she calmly answered, "I heard you get called that a lot when watching your matches on TV."


Opal's eyes widened with surprise. She really hadn't expected the young girl to get that answer. It was clear she was someone who paid attention to what she was seeing and was good at taking facts in.


"Absolutely right, dearie!" Opal complimented, "Your Noctowl will now get an increase to his speed stats for that correct answer!"


A brief orange glow swept upwards from underneath Houdini, signifying one of his stats had gone up. The owl-like Pokémon hooted with excitement, already feeling the boost to his speed that he'd received. He felt like he could race against a jet at this point and come out as the winner. Ruby went ahead and ordered him to use another Steel Wing attack. Houdini launched himself at Weezing, the audience very clearly noticing that he was definitely moving faster than last time. Weezing barely had time to register the Flying type Pokémon was coming towards it before his Steel Wing slammed into its face again. The sheer speed that had gone into the attack added some extra force to the impact, throwing Weezing across the room and crashing down up ahead. Houdini smiled conceitedly, definitely sure that his opponent was down now. But to his and Ruby's surprise…the Weezing was still active! It picked itself up and floated back over to the centre of the arena to continue the fight! Ruby frowned, already feeling nervous about this fight. They gave that thing two super-effective hits and it still wouldn't go down! This was definitely not going to be as easy as the previous Gyms!


"That's one tough Weezing!" Ruby exclaimed.


"How has it stood up to my magnificent strength?" Houdini gasped, "It's impossible!"


"Not impossible, dear Noctowl." Opal corrected, "Some Pokémon are very tough to beat, and my Weezing is no exception. Now Weezing, use another Sludge attack!"


Weezing obeyed and belched up some sludge to launch at Houdini a second time. He was stricken by the attack and he squawked in disgust once more. He shook his head to get the slime off and he growled, getting annoyed at being slimed throughout the fight. But then suddenly, Houdini turned a brief flash of purple and he grimaced in pain as it swept over him. After the pain had gone, some of his health was sapped away by whatever it was that happened. The audience gasped. Ruby stared in horror as she realized what this was.


"Oh no, you've been poisoned!" Ruby cried, "This is bad! If I don't use a potion, that poison will sap away your energy and you'll lose the fight! Hold on, I'll give you an antidote right away!"


"No Ruby, do not waste anything on your person on me!" Houdini said, shaking his head, "You needn't waste an antidote on me. The Weezing's health is critically low. All I have to do is land the final blow and it won't matter if I'm poisoned as the fight will be over and you can return me to my ball so it won't damage me further."


Ruby nodded. Houdini was absolutely right. Whenever Pokémon suffered status conditions, they suffered no damage when they were inside their Pokéballs. Being reduced to energy inside the balls stalled the effects so they didn't suffer until they could be healed or taken to a Pokémon Centre. They could end this fight before the poison would affect Houdini.


"You're right. We can end this before it becomes an issue." Ruby declared, "Houdini, finish the Weezing off with Steel Wing!"


Houdini launched straight into action and flew towards Weezing, his wings coated in steel as they aimed for the finishing blow. Even Opal knew that this was going to be over. Her Weezing wouldn't stand another hit. But then things started to go catastrophically wrong. As Houdini came in for the attack, the poison started to have an additional side-effect on him. As he grew closer to Weezing, he suddenly felt disoriented, like he wasn't quite where he was at the moment and the room seemed to be spinning around him. This caused him to miss with his attack, launching right past Weezing and flying dizzily around the Gym as if he couldn't remember which way to go. The audience let out a chorus of surprised gasps and yells as they watched him miss. Ruby gasped, wondering what had happened. Houdini flew back towards her, his vision back to normal so he could see where he was now. He shook his head, confused as to what had come over him a minute ago. Because he'd missed, Weezing was free to use Sludge on him a third time. His health was sapped away by the attack and then more damage was done as he flashed purple again and the poison took hold. He winced, feeling like it was tearing him apart on the inside. His health was getting dangerously low and Ruby knew it. She had to act now!


"Houdini, you're almost out of health! Please let me heal you up before it's too late!" she cried.


"No, fair maiden! I shan't miss a second time!" Houdini declared, "I'll take him out this time, just you watch!"


"But Houdini, what if you do miss again? It'll be all over for you!" Ruby cried, "I can't let you fight on unless I cure the poison!"


But Houdini was deaf to all pleading. He was simply too proud of himself to admit he needed help and he was confident in himself that he could win the fight before the poison finished him off. He flew off towards Weezing despite Ruby's protests with another Steel Wing aimed at his opponent. He screeched like an angry owl ready to sink its claws into a scurrying mouse. He could do it! He could finish the fight!


And then it all ended for him. The poison took effect one more, disorienting him just before he could land the finishing blow and he missed a second time, much to the shock of the audience and Ruby. Ruby put her hands to her mouth in horror as she watched Houdini sweep past Weezing without actually hitting him and fly around dizzily, confused as to where he was. She could only watch in despair as Weezing landed his fourth and final Sludge attack on Houdini. Unlike its opponent, Weezing didn't miss and the Sludge hit Houdini once more. His health was diminished by the attack and he collapsed onto the arena, unable to fight anymore. He lay where he was, utterly defeated. It was the first time that a Gym Leader had ever defeated any of Ruby's Pokémon. Opal shook her head, feeling sorry that Houdini had to lose like this. She thought he'd deserved a better defeat than to lose the way he did. Ruby stared at Houdini, unable to believe what had happened.


"Houdini…no…" she gasped.


"Noctowl is unable to battle, Weezing is the winner!" the announcer declared.


Some of the audience cheered for Opal whereas other audience members voiced their dismay at seeing the challenger lose a Pokémon so early on in the fight. Ruby ran into the centre of the arena and knelt down beside Houdini, patting him softly on the back.


"Houdini, are you alright?" she asked softly.


"No…I have shamed you…Madame." Houdini said, sounding more disappointed than hurt, "I neglected to take your advice…and I've lost the match because of it. I am truly sorry…for not listening to you."


"It's OK Houdini. You did your best out there." Ruby said, her tone showing that she had nothing but love and admiration for her Noctowl, not even a hint of anger in her voice, "You take a good rest now and I'll get another Pokémon to win the fight for you."


She returned Houdini to his Pokéball and retook her position in the arena. Just as she'd suspected, this Gym was going to mark the moment where the rules completely changed. No longer was she going to have easy, clean sweep victories. This was when the Gym Challenge truly got challenging and she would have to remain on her toes if she was going to win! She wouldn't let Houdini's loss be in vain. She would win, for him and for the rest of her team! She drew out her next Pokéball.


"Vesuvius, it's up to you to finish the fight!" she cried, throwing the ball.


The audience watched with excitement as the Pokéball opened and Vesuvius the Coalossal materialized on the battlefield. The Rock/Fire type Pokémon flexed her arms and gave a growl of anticipation, ready to show her stuff in this battle.


"Alright, who's ready to rumble?!" she cried bombastically, the coal on her head glowing as the fires inside of her flared up with excitement.


"We are!" Ruby cried, "Your opponent's been weakened by Houdini's earlier efforts so you'll win this easily Vesuvius."


"Not so fast Ruby. Allow me to give you another question, dearie." Opal cut in, "A correct answer here will boost the Defences of your Coalossal. Now then: what is my favourite colour?"


Ruby almost blurted out the answer but she quickly stopped herself. No, think first and then answer! Don't rush this! She thought for a moment about what the answer could be. She knew that Opal really seemed to like pink and that pink surrounded her everywhere in this Gym. The elderly woman had even expressed disappointment in her not wearing pink. But still…


"I'm really tempted to say pink…but I'm not going to." Ruby declared, "I bet it's one of those trick questions where the answer isn't as obvious as it seems. My dad would always warn me about those as he was a fan of quizzes growing up and knew to look out for those. So I'm going to say…purple?"


Why had she guessed that? Ruby had taken notice of Opal's oversized purple fur collar and had assumed based on that that purple might actually be her favourite colour instead. To her surprise…she was absolutely right! Opal beamed with admiration as she gave the announcement.


"Yes! A nice deep purple…truly grand, don't you think." she preened, "I like your thinking Ruby. You're the only challenger to face me today to get that one right!"


Ruby was gobsmacked. She'd been the only one to pull off that lucky guess today?! She truly did have the luck of Giratina on her side! It felt as if she was being compensated for Houdini's defeat in some way. Vesuvius glowed orange as her defences, physical and special, went up a couple of stages. She was already the kind of Pokémon that was like a brick wall to fight so her defences being boosted would make her even more solid. She flexed her arms eagerly.


"Oooh yeah, I'm gonna be taking a lot of hits now!" she crowed, "This Coalossal ain't going down easily!"


"You bet!" Ruby agreed, "Now let's finish this fight with Heavy Slam!"


Vesuvius obeyed and she launched herself into the air, jumping surprisingly high for a Pokémon of her size. As she jumped, a steel coating surrounded her, turning her into a giant, metallic meteorite plummeting down to Earth to destroy everything in its path. Weezing was completely helpless to defend itself as Vesuvius slammed on top of it, depleting the rest of its health and leaving it becoming a new part of the floor as Vesuvius had come down so heavily on it that Weezing had become stuck in it. Weezing lay where it was, Xs in its eyes and its tongues hanging out dopily as if it had been flattened by an anvil as part of some cartoon gag. Ruby tried not to laugh, worried she would insult Opal by doing so but Opal herself seemed to see the funny side of things as she chuckled too.


"Well that's one way to finish a fight." she hooted.


"Weezing is unable to battle! Coalossal is the winner!" the announcer boomed.


Opal returned Weezing and drew out her next Ultra Ball.


"Good show, Ruby dear. Let's keep it up with my next Pokémon." the Fairy Gym Leader said eagerly, "Togekiss, time for a dazzle!"


She threw the ball and summoned forth the Fairy/Flying type Pokémon, Togekiss. Togekiss was the final form of the beloved baby Pokémon, Togepi, from the Johto region. Togekiss was a big, white bird-like Pokémon with huge wings and three points on its head with one point being white, the second blue and the third red. It had blue and red triangle patterns on its stomach, a leftover feature from its previous Togepi and Togetic forms, and had a gentle, friendly smile on its face. Ruby stared at it with awe. She thought Togekiss was one of the most beautiful Pokémon in the world and she knew that Emerald would love one for herself as they were among her favourites. Maybe when she started her journey next year, she'd be able to get one.


"Aww, you have a Togekiss, and it's gorgeous!" Ruby said, her eyes full of hearts for her Pokémon.


"Why thank you, dearie. I'm quite proud of this little angel." Opal said, her voice full of adoration for her Pokémon.


"I hate to do this, but I have to fight it." Ruby said grimly, "I'll try to go easy on it."


She returned Vesuvius to her ball and took out another one. She'd chosen Sparkles the Manectric precisely for a moment like this as she'd expected Opal to have at least one Fairy/Flying Pokémon on her so she summoned her to the field. The battle-hungry Manectric bared her teeth and eyed up her opponent with clear arrogance in her eyes. She saw the Togekiss as no real challenge and knew she'd bring it down with ease.


"Alright, let's show this new Gym Leader what I'm made of!" Sparkles cried excitedly.


"Keen to get in on the action as ever, aren't you?" Ruby chuckled, "Use Thunderbolt, but try not to hurt it too much. Opal really likes that Togekiss." she added quickly.


Sparkles nodded. She may like to fight, but she also didn't want to upset her opponents. Fighting wasn't fun if her opponents were crying about it, unless they were jerks who deserved to be taken down a peg like Bede. Sparkles tensed up for a moment, electricity crackling through her body as she began to power up. Then she fired a terrific jolt of electricity at Togekiss. The beautiful Pokémon cried out as it was hit, the electricity sapping away all its strength and energy in a single blow. Togekiss were usually quite resilient, rarely ever going down in one hit, even from a Thunderbolt attack. But Sparkles hadn't just hit it with Thunderbolt, she's managed to score a critical hit. Critical hits did more damage and thus, Togekiss's defences had been rendered useless as it was brought down to the floor, the fight over before it could even begin. It lay on its side, looking up dopily at the ceiling as if wondering what went wrong and how it could turn things around for itself.


"Togekiss is unable to battle, Manectric is the winner!" the announcer barked.


The audience was astonished. Even Opal was speechless upon seeing what had happened for it was VERY rare that anyone ever scored a one-hit KO on her Togekiss. Sparkles realized what she'd done and looked over at Ruby sheepishly.


"Oops. Heh, heh…I guess that was a little too much." she said queasily.


"Well I guess since we ended the fight very quickly, it means we won't have to hurt it as much so I'm not annoyed." Ruby said, shrugging, "I am very surprised you pulled that off though. Your power continues to amaze me!"


"And me too." Opal agreed, "It's been a while since anyone's scored a critical hit on my Pokémon. You are quite the trainer, Ruby. Are you sure you don't have a little Fairy magic of you own?" she teased.


"If you count my glowing hair as "Fairy magic", then I guess so." Ruby joked.


She wasn't surprised at all when Opal nodded as if understanding what she meant. She could imagine the other Gym Leaders already told Opal about her strange gift so she'd know about it already. Opal drew out her third Ultra Ball.


"Then let's see if your Fairy magic will help you win this one." Opal purred, "Mawile, time for a dazzle!"


She threw the ball and onto the field materialized one of the strangest looking Pokémon that had ever been discovered. It was a yellow and black bipedal Pokémon with thick fur tufts around its legs that made it look like it was wearing a skirt and it had a large set of jaws that protruded from the back of its head. The jaws were said to be transformed Steel horns but they could articulate and operate like jaws and were incapable of tasting so they could be used to eat foods that Mawile didn't like. When originally discovered in the Hoenn region, Mawile were suspected to be Steel types, but later research unveiled an interesting truth that Mawile were actually Steel/Fairy types. Ruby thought they looked very strange and didn't fancy being on the receiving end of those jaws. They made being bitten by Chomps look more pleasant by comparison!


"A Steel/Fairy type, just as I'd planned for…" Ruby murmured, returning Sparkles, "Vesuvius, you're certainly getting plenty of action today."


She called forth Vesuvius again, the Coalossal looking more surprised than anything as she was back on the battlefield.


"Oooh, I'm needed again already?" the giant rock-creature asked, "I feel so privileged! So what's my next opponent?"


She looked ahead of her and saw the Mawile standing before her, its back turned so its jaws were facing its opponent. The previously lonesome Pokémon lowered her head slightly and clenched her fists, ready to fight. The Mawile looked equally as eager.


"Ready when you are, Ruby." Vesuvius murmured.


"I'm always ready." Ruby replied, "Use Flame Charge!" she commanded.


"Mawile, use Iron Defence." Opal commanded at the same time.


Mawile was a little faster than Vesuvius, the small Pokémon glowing silver for a moment as it surrounded itself with a magical barrier that increased its defences a little. Vesuvius charged towards her opponent, flames surrounding her as she charged into Mawile. The attack was super-effective but Mawile's defences had been boosted so it didn't do quite as much damage as it could've done. Mawile was stunned for the moment but very much ready to continue fighting. It opened its jaws, baring its large teeth menacingly. Ruby ordered another Flame Charge from Vesuvius and this time, the Rock/Fire type Pokémon moved first. An additional effect of Flame Charge was that it increased a Pokémon's speed every time it was used. Mawile may take hits easier now, but Vesuvius was faster and would be able to attack it first every time. The rocky Pokémon even noticed that she was moving faster than normal as she slammed into Mawile a second time. The flames licked at Mawile but it still took the hit and shook itself off, eager to fight back. Upon Opal's command, it pounced on Vesuvius and used Crunch. While super-effective against Psychic and Ghost type Pokémon, it was barely effective against Vesuvius. She just stood where she was, her face blank as Mawile's giant jaws closed around her arm and tried to do some damage to her. The jaws were strong and Vesuvius could tell they packed a mean bite but even so, she barely felt any pain from Mawile's attack. The Steel/Fairy type jumped back, disappointed that it barely seemed to have affected its opponent. Vesuvius smirked.


"You're gonna have to try harder than that, hon." she taunted.


"Get ready for another Flame Charge!" Ruby commanded.


"Hold on dearie, let's spice things up a little with one final question." Opal cut in, "If you get this one correct, you'll be able to raise your Pokémon's attack stats."


"That'll be helpful considering you raised Mawile's defence." Ruby acknowledged, "OK then, let's hear the question."


"The question is: how old am I? Am I 88 or 16?" Opal asked.


She stood where she was, both hands on her umbrella as she awaited Ruby's answer. The teen girl shook her head disappointedly. She'd expected a much harder question than that! Who'd be stupid enough to guess that she was 16 years old?


"Sorry if this sounds rude but…you're 88." Ruby answered.


Opal smirked, clearly having expected Ruby to give such an answer.


"That is correct dearie, but you really should have more respect for your elders." she sneered, "Maybe a little reduction will teach you some manners."


A blue flash swept down over Vesuvius as Opal's little "Fairy magic" reduced her Attack and Special Attack stats by a single stage. Vesuvius looked confused as if she didn't understand what had happened and she looked herself over. Ruby stared indignantly at her Coalossal, outraged at what Opal had done.


"Oy! I got the question right! Why did you do that?!" she demanded.


"Like I said, a little lesson to each you not to be rude." Opal retorted, "Maybe next time, you'll think twice before giving an answer like that."


"Well that's hardly fair! Screw me for being honest…" Ruby moaned.


She tried not to let it bother her too much. So what if Vesuvius's Attack had been lowered? It's not like the Mawile would actually be able to beat her! It just meant she would take longer to finish it off, that was all! She ordered Vesuvius to use another Flame Charge. The Coalossal obeyed, slamming into Mawile with a fiery charge again just like before, but she noticed straight away that it wasn't quite as powerful as last time due to the stats reduction. Mawile skidded backwards from the hit but it recovered and fought back with Crunch. What followed next was a battle of endurance as both Vesuvius and Mawile repeatedly used Flame Charge and Crunch on each other respectively. Even with her Attack lowered, Vesuvius was in no danger of losing the fight. Her attacks were still doing the most damage while Mawile could barely even hurt her in return. After six more attacks, Vesuvius was able to finally end the battle with one last Flame Charge. Mawile lost the remainder of its health and it collapsed on to its stomach, its jaws slumping against its back and hanging open loosely. Ruby folded her arms confidently, glad that despite Opal's unfair altering of Vesuvius's stats, the fight hadn't gone any differently.


"Maybe that'll teach you not to try cheating next time." Ruby sneered.


"Yes…I'd say we've both learned a lesson today." Opal agreed.


"Mawile is unable to battle, Coalossal is the winner!" came the electronic announcement once more.


Opal returned Mawile and drew out her last Ultra Ball. She had a sweet smile on her face as if this last Pokémon was her most precious one to her.


"Time for you to come out at least, my darling." she cooed affectionately, "Alcremie, time for a dazzle!"


The ball opened up and onto the field materialized her strongest Pokémon and her personal ace for her Challengers to face, Alcremie. Alcremie was something else entirely, literally looking like a sentient blob of whipped cream with a large head, small body and arms, a lower section that made it look as if it was wearing a dress and a dollop of cream styled like hair. It had red eyes and a pair of strawberries in its "hair". Also, it was a female-only species of Pokémon, one of the few examples of a gender specific Pokémon. Its overall appearance was both strangely adorable and incredibly weird as anyone looking at this Pokémon weren't sure whether they should train it or eat it. Even Ruby was having mixed feelings looking at Alcremie.


"I'm now seriously considering to stop eating strawberries and cream looking at this thing…" Ruby muttered.


She returned Vesuvius and drew out just the Pokémon she'd brought for a Fairy Gym.


"Time for the grand finale Freddy, whip up the audience like you love to do!" she cried, tossing the Pokéball into the air.


Freddy materialized onto the battlefield, the Toxtricity throwing his arms out wide as he quite literally made his grand entrance. He could hear the audience chanting and cheering the final battle of the Fairy Gym and he had a feeling that some of those cheers were for him. He had given quite a show back in the Water Gym for his singing and then evolving in the Fire Gym after Ruby had won. The audience no doubt was eager to see what he was going to do next.


"Marvellous, darling." Freddy purred, "I've got a whole stadium of people to entertain again. You know how to spoil me."


"And it's going to be the biggest show you ever gave, quite literally!" Ruby said, winking, "It's time for you to Dynamax, Freddy!"


She held her Pokéball out and Dynamax energy started to swirl around her wrist as her Dynamax band activated. Opal did the same with her Alcremie. She watched with interest as Ruby's hair started to glow once again in reaction to the Dynamax energy surrounding her. It was clear that this girl did have a little "Fairy magic" in her after all. Once the Pokéballs had grown in size, Ruby turned and threw hers whereas poor Opal nearly toppled over from the weight of her Pokéball. She was able to stay upright and she quickly threw her ball into the air too. Freddy grew in size as Dynamax took effect but Alcremie did more than just grow bigger. Like Gengar and Centiskorch before it, Alcremie was capable of Gigantamaxing. Ruby watched in astonishment as the little Fairy, cream creature turned into a giant cream cake tower. The familiar form of Alcremie was perched right on top of the "cake" like a little figurine used to decorate the sweet confection. The rest of it was just several layers of cake and cream with multiple colours on each layer. Ruby supposed it made sense for a Pokémon that looked like whipped cream to have a Gigantamax form like this but it was still unnerving to look at as she had that mixed feeling once more.


"I'll NEVER eat cake again…" she murmured.


"I'm quite the same darling." Freddy boomed, his voice amplified by the Dynamax, "Should we fight it or bake it?"


"Please don't joke like that, it's awkward enough I'm fighting a sentient cake monster!" Ruby exclaimed, "Let's just get this over with. Freddy, Max Ooze!"


Freddy obeyed, and as expected, he burst into another song as he launched his attack. He strummed the musical knobs on his chest as a huge puddle of slime seeped out from his body and crept towards the Gigantamaxed Alcremie. The huge cake-like Pokémon winced as the Max Ooze hit it, the corrosive, poisonous liquid swept over it. Freddy posed and hammed up his attack as he began singing.


Toniiiiiiiiiight…I'm gonna have myseeeeeeeeeeeeeelf…a real GOOOOOOOOOOOD time.


I feel alllllllllhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiihiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!


And the wooooooooooooooooooooooooorld, is turn-ing-in-side ouuuuuuuuuuut, yeah!


I'm floating around…in ec-sta-cyyyyyyy, so…


DON'T. STOP. ME. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW.


DON'T. STOP ME.


Cause I'm having a good time, HAVING A GOOD TIME!


Despite his voice being amplified by his Dynamaxed state, he still sounded very good and the audience couldn't resist joining in with him as he sung. Opal was impressed with Ruby's Pokémon, amused that it could somehow turn a Pokémon match into a song and dance performance to entertain the audience. She almost didn't want to tell Alcremie to fight back as she didn't fancy interrupting the fantastic performance of Freddy but this was a Pokémon match and not a rock concert so she had to.


"Use G-Max Finale." Opal commanded.


Alcremie obeyed, sending a wave of fairy stars towards Freddy. He barely seemed to noticed as he continued rocking away. He was hit by the G-Max Finale but as the fairy stars bombarded him, Freddy didn't seem effected much. As a Poison type, a Fairy attack was never going to be effective against him. He took each blow as if it was a harmless slap against him and he continued to sing, barely even registering the fact he'd just been attacked.


Oooooooh, I'm burning through the skyyyyyyy, yeah!


Two-hundred degrees, that's why the call me Mr. Fahrenheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit!


I'm traveling at the speed of liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight,


I wanna make a supersonic man out of YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!


"Great show Freddy, but it's time to wrap it up! Another Max Ooze attack!" Ruby cried.


Freddy did just that, sending another giant puddle of toxic slime to his opponent as he bopped his head in time to his own song and made rocker-like gestures as if he was playing an actual rock guitar and not the in-built one he had.


Don't stop me NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!


I'm having such a good time! I'm having a baaaaaaall!


Don't stop me NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!


If you wanna have a good time, just give me a caaaaaaaaaall!


Don't stop me, cause I'm having a good time!


Don't stop me, yes, I'm having a good time!


I don't wanna stop at AAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!


But he would have to stop for the battle was over. The Max Ooze attack had been enough to finish off his opponent, the Gigantamaxed Alcremie unable to continue fighting after the last of its health had been sapped away by Freddy's toxic slime. It returned to its original state and fainted on the floor, signifying that the Fairy Gym's last battle was over and had ended in another victory for a Gym Challenger. Freddy returned to his normal size too, looking disappointed as his Dynamax energy wore off.


"Aww, I was enjoying being gigantic." he muttered, "It felt like I was performing my biggest show ever."


"Don't be too glum Freddy, you sure gave the audience a good time out there." Ruby complimented, "That was awesome and fun!"


"Yes, quite." Opal concurred, "That was the most fun I've had in all my 88 years of living! Great show young Ruby! You and your Pokémon were exceptionally brilliant out there."


"Thank you very much." Ruby said graciously.


"Alcremie is unable to battle! Toxtricity is the winner!" the electronic announcer's voice boomed, "The winner of the Fairy Gym Challenge is Ruby Silverlock of Postwick Town and she progresses to the next Gym!"


The audience erupted with applause, full of support and excitement for this rising new star that had managed to clear five Gyms on her first try with only one defeat out of several battles she'd had. It was clear that Leon was going to have some big competition in this year's Pokémon Tournament over at Wyndon for it had been a while since any Gym Challenger had performed THIS well in the circuit! Ruby was going to go far, they all knew it. Ruby and Opal met in the centre of the arena and shook hands for a well-fought battle and Opal presented the Fairy badge to the victorious challenger. It was another gold piece that had a pink fairy and love-heart symbol in the middle. It hardly surprised Ruby that the Fairy badge had some pink in it. Yet as she held the badge in her hand, she somehow didn't feel the same way she felt when she'd won the other four badges. This victory seemed to feel…hollow to her, as if it hadn't been a great victory. Why was that?


Houdini. Of course it was. This had been the first time any of her Pokémon had been defeated in a Gym battle and it just signified to her that this Gym Challenge wasn't going to be as straight-forward anymore. This experience had taught her that she had to take the rest of the Gyms more seriously from now on.


"You know Ruby, I still have the door open for you." Opal said softly, snapping Ruby out of her thoughts, "If you want to be the next Gym Leader after me, you can still say yes. After seeing you in battle, I know for a fact you're more than adequate to succeed me. Your bond with your Pokémon is strong, you have a great personality and you're a very smart, tactical trainer. You'd be a perfectly pink Gym Leader, dearie!"


"I'm sorry Opal, but my answer is still no." Ruby insisted, "I appreciate the offer tremendously, I really do! It's so kind of you to do so. But my heart isn't set on being a Gym Leader and Fairy types aren't really my favourites. Nothing against them, they're just not my type, if you'll pardon the pun. I'm sure you'll find someone who's worthier than me of succeeding you one day."


Opal nodded, putting a hand on Ruby's shoulder.


"I accept your decision, Ruby." she said kindly, "Being a Gym Leader is a big responsibility and deciding to be one can be one of the biggest decisions one can ever make. You may not be up for it, but I bet you'll go on to be an incredible champion." she said, winking.


"I just hope I can give Leon a great fight." Ruby said casually, "Actually beating him will just be a happy bonus, I guess. For now though…I just want to get Houdini to a Pokémon centre. He really needs it after that battle with your Weezing."


"Of course, darling. I won't keep you here any longer. Be on your way, your Pokémon needs you." Opal said softly.


Ruby nodded and turned to leave the stadium. She'd won her fifth Gym in a row and was going to progress to the sixth Gym! If only all her Pokémon could celebrate with her…

__________________________________________________________________________________


Later on, Ruby had taken Houdini to the local Pokémon Centre so he could recover from Weezing's poison and his defeat at the Poison/Fairy type's Sludge attacks. Upon leaving the Fairy Gym, Ruby had made her way over as quickly as possible. Houdini's condition wouldn't worsen as he was in his Pokéball but Ruby just wanted him to get better as soon as possible. Upon arrival, she was lucky for there were no other patients so she was able to very quickly get Houdini booked in and Nurse Joy took the Normal/Flying type in to get some treatment right away.


She'd given Houdini a dose of Antidote to cure the poison and despite the fact it was acting very quickly, it didn't mean Houdini could leave the centre as soon as possible. Weezing's poison had had a few side effects that would take longer to recover from, namely that it had damaged some of the nerves in his wings. Houdini would be unable to fly for the time being so he needed to stay behind at the Pokémon Centre for the Antidote to fully cure him. At least he'd been given a comfortable bed, which appropriately enough was shaped like a bird's nest that he settled into easily. Ruby had to admit that he looked pretty snug in there. Now Houdini was conscious again and feeling a little better, Ruby decided to have a moment to wish him goodbye as she made the heart-wrenching decision to carry on without him. She stroked his head affectionately, enjoying the soft feel of his feathers. Houdini himself seemed to like it for he was very content and in his element, barely able to keep his eyes open.


"That is most soothing, Ruby." he said softly.


"I thought you'd appreciate it." Ruby replied warmly, "I'm glad we won that Fairy badge and I'll still be continuing on in the Gym Challenge. It's just…I really wish I didn't have to leave you behind." she added sadly, "It feels like we've been in this from the beginning. It feels like yesterday when me and you were in the Grass Gym together and you evolved after we won. This journey isn't going to feel the same without you."


She didn't want to cry as she felt she'd be showing weakness to her Pokémon and she wanted to be strong for them, but she couldn't help it. She embraced Houdini tightly as the tears came down her cheeks. It was true that Houdini wasn't going to die and he would recover so she'd see him again, just like Chomps back in the Motostoke Pokémon centre, but that didn't make this departure any less sad. She still had to leave a close friend behind regardless and she'd grown quite attached to Houdini over time.


"I'm going to miss you!" Ruby wailed, "You were a wonderful Pokémon, both on the battlefield on off! I hope you get better soon so we can be together again."


"I yearn for our reunion too, dear trainer." Houdini said gently, "You needn't worry over me though. I will be well-looked after in this centre. And once I am free to return to you, I could give you that ride that you enjoyed so much back in the Wild Area."


Ruby paused a moment to wipe her eyes and smiled appreciatively at Houdini's generous suggestion.


"I'd love that." she replied graciously, "Get well soon Houdini. I hope to have you back as soon as possible."


Houdini didn't say anything. He just nuzzled Ruby's cheek affectionately, showing that he was just as eager to be back with her as she was. Ruby gave Houdini one last hug before walking out of the Pokémon centre to be taken care of by Nurse Joy. As he settled down into his nest, he had a think over on what had contributed to his defeat. It was clear that he'd become too arrogant and proud of his power to admit when he needed help. He would have to change that next time Ruby used him in battle. Next time, he wouldn't suffer a defeat like this. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to drift off to sleep for the night while the antidote worked on curing him. It was possible that as he slept, he would be dreaming of all the good times he and Ruby had had together, good times that they'd be able to have again when he was fully cured…

__________________________________________________________________________________


It wasn't possible to tell if it was morning or not due to Ballonlea and Glimwood Tangle still being shrouded in darkness no matter what time of day it was. The glowing mushrooms that were all around the forest were the only source of light in this fantasy forest dwelling. As is, Ruby still knew it was morning thanks to the time on her Rotom phone showing her that was the case.


After leaving the Pokémon Centre, Ruby had decided to spend the night over at a local bed-and-breakfast as it was too late to be going anywhere else. It was night time after she'd won her Fairy badge so it was better to get some sleep and make her way over to the next town tomorrow. The journey was simple enough, she had to return to Hammerlock and then go east from there to go to Circhester. Circhester was home to the Ice Gym, led by Gym Leader Melony. Ruby knew that she would have plenty of counters for her Ice Pokémon when she got there so she was confident that this Gym would be another win for her. But at the same time, she wasn't going to get cocky. Houdini's defeat last night had been enough for her to take onboard that the rest of the Gyms wouldn't be clean sweeps and that she had to take things seriously now. She would be careful in her battle with Melony.


After eating breakfast and paying the man in charge of the bed-and-breakfast for his services, Ruby set off out of Ballonlea to head to Hammerlocke City. She took one last look at the beautiful town, admiring the pretty glowing mushrooms and drifting lights one last time before heading back into Glimwood Tangle. It was a shame to leave Ballonlea as it was a beautiful town and she doubted anywhere else would be able to top it. Circhester was going to look underwhelming by comparison.


"On to Circhester I go." Ruby said to herself, passing by some glowing mushrooms that had some nearby Impidimps watching her curiously, "It's a shame Houdini will have to miss this, but I know he's here in spirit at least. I wonder how Hop's been doing." she thought, "I hope he's gotten the Ghost and Fairy badges and is on his way to Circhester too…"


She was suddenly cut of mid-sentence as a psychic wave shot out from nowhere and slammed into her, whisking her off her feet and throwing her onto the ground. It felt as if she'd been run over by Rhyhorn that had picked this moment to attack her. But that was impossible, Rhyhorn didn't live in Glimwood Tangle! Ruby had no time to ponder what had happened for she groaned in pain and then closed her eyes, slipping into unconsciousness. For the moment, she now looked like a Pokémon that was unable to battle. As soon as she'd passed out, the attacker strode over to her, a cruel smirk on his face as he patted the Hattrem he'd used to knock Ruby out. Disturbingly enough, the Hattrem seemed to share its trainer's reaction, showing no remorse that had just attacked and knocked out an innocent trainer.


"Great work Hattrem." Bede purred darkly, "Now it's time to make Ruby pay for getting me kicked out of the Gym Challenge…"


He picked the unconscious girl up and draped her over his shoulder. How he was going to enjoy getting his own back on the insolent trainer who had dared to humiliate him! He headed off into the forest, leaving behind Ruby's backpack so her Pokémon wouldn't be able to help her. And yet, as he disappeared into the darkness, a flash of white shot out from the backpack and Vesuvius the Coalossal looked around. She'd sensed something was wrong and had come out to see what had happened.


"Ruby? What happened? Are you OK?" she asked.


But Ruby was gone. The Coalossal's fires started to burn with worry. What had happened to her trainer?! She wasn't going to sit around and wait for an answer, she was going to find her! She picked up the discarded backpack and set off to find her trainer…

__________________________________________________________________________________


Pokemon lost: Houdini the Noctowl. Lasted: Level 19-Level 40. Location of incident: Ballonlea Gym. Cause of injury: Poisoned by Weezing and defeated in battle.


Loss count: 3

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All