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Knights of Galar: A Pokémon Shield Nuzlocke Chapter 19

Chapter 19: The Sixth Gym

Route 7 was on the other side of the bridge and wasn't a very big route to walk through. It was a patch of grassland with a few trees and a path leading towards a tunnel that lead to Route 8, a route that would take any trainers travelling through up towards Circhester to get their next Gym badge. Ruby decided to explore Route 7 for a minute before carrying on. She was keen to get to the next Gym, but she thought it wouldn't hurt to see if there were any new Pokémon to catch.

After returning to Motostoke, Ruby's Pokémon had been fully healed up by the Nurse Joy working there and thankfully, neither of them had to be benched this time, not even Sparkles as her loss to Rillaboom hadn't done too much damage to her. Regardless, the Nurse still recommended that Ruby let Sparkles have a couple of days rest, meaning she would have to stay boxed for the time being so Ruby would have to leave her out for the Ice Gym. She was hoping to use Sparkles for the Gym as a counter for Melony's Lapras but she had Freddy for that as well so it wasn't a complete loss. Sparkles had been upset about it naturally but Ruby assured her she'd get to fight again someday.

Now she was here in Route 7, her red eyes cast over the nearby grasses for any signs of Pokémon. As she'd never been here before, she had no idea what to expect.

"I wonder what Pokémon live in this Route…" she mused to herself, "I hope there's at least one electric type. It'd be nice to have one to fill in for Sparkles while she's resting."

She watched one patch of grass and spotted a Thievul lurking nearby. She remembered the species from the few battles she'd had with Team Yell over the course of her journey but she knew this one wasn't anything to be concerned about as it was a wild one. She had no interested in catching it so Ruby walked on by while the Thievul watched her. It had expected a battle as it recognized Ruby as a trainer but instead, Ruby was leaving so the Thievul went about its day, safe in the knowledge there'd be no battles today. Ruby also saw a Liepard, another Pokémon she'd seen Team Yell use in her confrontations with them. It was a Dark-type Pokémon that resembled a purple leopard with yellow spots and a long, thin, hooked tail. The Liepard took no notice of Ruby and continued stalking through the grass, clearly in search of food. Ruby wasn't interested in it anyway so she moved on. And then to her interest, she spotted a very familiar Pokémon emerging from a tall patch of grass and sniffing the air as if checking to see if it was safe to come out. Ruby's eyes lit up with adoration. It was a wild Morpeko, the very same Pokémon that Marnie always had with her. She'd become quite fond of it after the times she and Marnie had seen each other so she thought it would be nice to catch one of her own. It was an Electric type after all, just what she was looking for.

"I wonder what Marnie will think if she sees me with a Morpeko of my own." Ruby thought, reaching into her jacket for a Pokéball.

But before anything could happen, something shot out from nowhere and wrapped itself around Ruby. The Morpeko yelped in fright and ran away for its life. The silver-haired teen cried out as she was bound up by something sticky and buzzing with electricity. It didn't feel like much, only like getting a static shock and the thick leather of her jacket protected her from most of the electricity in the sticky substance. But it was of little comfort to Ruby as she still couldn't move. Her arms were pinned to her sides and as she tried to struggle, her binds just gave her a painful zap to stop her from doing so. She fell to her knees as the electric shock made her too weak to stand up. With her heart sinking in horror, Ruby knew exactly what had happened to her. She turned around and her eyes widened in terror as she saw just the very Pokémon that she'd expected to see.

She had been tied up with a web that had been spun by a Galvantula. It was an Electric/Bug type Pokémon that was native to the Unova region and was best described as looking like a giant, electric tarantula. It was big, yellow, furry and had four legs with sharp points at the end, big blue eyes and huge mandibles. Galvantula were often said to be strangely adorable by many trainers, but this one had an especially mean and hungry look in its eyes. It had been lurking in a treetop and had spun the web to ensnare Ruby. Now it was coming towards her, keen to feast on the poor girl. Ruby tried to get up but the web electrocuted her a second time, making her fall onto her side. Galvantula webs were electrified and would zap their prey if they struggled or tried to break free. Ruby was trapped and had no way of escaping from this Pokémon. The Galvantula came up to her, its mandibles dripping with viscous fluid as it dribbled with excitement. Ruby whimpered. She'd never been so scared of encountering a Pokémon in her life.

"P-p-please! D-don't eat me!" she pleaded, "I-If you l-let me go, I-I'll j-just be on my way!"

The Galvantula wasn't in the mood for listening. This one hadn't eaten for days and was ravenously hungry. It would sink its jaws into Ruby's neck, deliver a painful shock that would kill her instantly and then it would gorge itself on her corpse. Ruby screamed and closed her eyes. She didn't want to witness her own death. But it never came.

Ruby opened her eyes again to see that the Galvantula was now on its back with another Galvantula on top of it. This one was bigger and to Ruby's surprise, it seemed to be fighting against the hungry one that had webbed her up. It looked almost…like it was protecting her! Ruby watched as the bigger Galvantula slashed furiously at its opponent with its legs. The hungry Galvantula tried to fight back but it was no good. It was too weak from hunger so it could only feebly fight back, barely able to stand up to its opponent. Eventually, the hungry Galvantula fled back into its tree in a panic, desperate to escape with its life. The bigger Galvantula huffed and then turned to Ruby. Ruby shuddered. Had this one fought the other one off solely just so it could eat her instead? But instead of taking her for itself, the bigger Galvantula raised a single leg and used it to cut Ruby free. She sat up and brushed the webs off herself, relieved to be able to move again.

"Are you alright, miss?" the Galvantula asked, speaking in a male voice.

Ruby didn't reply for the moment. She needed a minute to catch her breath as she was still shaken over what had happened. Once her heartrate was back to normal, she replied.

"I-I am now you're here! Y-you saved my life!" Ruby gasped, "Oh thank you so much! Why did you save me?" she asked.

"I've always found it despicable that some wild Pokémon think they can just attack and eat innocent trainers like that, so I go around fighting them off to prevent that." the Galvantula explained, "I like to believe humans and Pokémon should co-exist peacefully, though sadly some Pokémon like to see humans as food…especially some of my own kind." he added bitterly.

"Thank Arceus you came across me or I would've been that Galvantula's dinner!" Ruby cried, "I can't thank you enough for saving me! How can I ever repay you?"

"You don't have to. Another life saved it reward for me." the Galvantula said casually, "Now then, as you're a trainer, I assume you must be on your way to the Gym on the other side of Route 8, right? I'll let you be on your way now."

"You're absolutely right that's where I'm off to…although as a token of my thanks, I'd very much like you to come with me." Ruby said softly, "I'd love to have you on the team. Someone as kind and selfless like you would be a great Pokémon to have on my team!"

The Galvantula looked unsure for the moment.

"Come with you? I dunno…who'd protect the trainers from wild Pokémon attacks around here if I'm gone?" he asked concernedly.

"Most trainers can handle themselves anyway, they'll be fine." the teen trainer insisted, "Besides, I could always come back on occasion and have you keep an eye on this area. Don't worry, everything will be fine I'm sure. Besides, you protect trainers so imagine what it'd be like to join a trainer's team and partake in Pokémon battles. Wouldn't that be more fun than fighting off predators all the time?"

The yellow-furred tarantula Pokémon thought over the offer. He supposed that Ruby had a point that he didn't need to be here to protect trainers all the time as most trainers could protect themselves. The only reason he'd needed to protect Ruby this time was because she'd been caught by surprise, not because she was helpless. And he also thought that fighting in a sport would indeed be more fun than fighting to fend off predatory Pokémon. In the end, it nodded.

"I think your suggestion is adequate." the Galvantula said, "I'll join you on your journeys, fellow trainer."

"I'm glad to hear it." Ruby said appreciatively, "Thanks again for saving me, and welcome aboard, Sydney!"

"Sydney? Is that a name you're giving me?" the Galvantula asked.

"Yes. I nickname all my Pokémon." Ruby explained.

"So Sydney I shall be." Sydney said brightly, "I think it suits me. It's a name that doesn't make me sound menacing at least."

"Indeed." Ruby said, taking out a spare Pokéball, "I'm glad you're joining my team. You'll be great to use in the Ice Gym with your electric typing!"

She held the ball out and Sydney pressed his head against it, giving his consent to be stored inside the ball. He was turned into energy and was absorbed inside the spherical device. It was official, the kind-hearted Galvantula was now Ruby's. Ruby put the ball back in her jacket, feeling very pleased with herself. A Galvantula was a good catch, especially in time for her next Gym! She couldn't wait to put him to use when she arrived…


The walk to Circhester was a peaceful one with no further close calls.

Upon leaving Route 7, Ruby walked through the tunnel that connected it to Route 8 and found herself walking through a maze of stone pillars and pathways to get through to the other side and reach Circhester. While travelling through Route 8, she caught a Golett, a Ghost/Ground type Pokémon that looked like a small, sentient golem statue that could pack a mean punch. She decided to nickname it Stonefist and felt good about catching this particular Pokémon. Golett were strong and could take a hit, especially when they evolved into Golurk, a Ghost/Ground Pokémon that looked like a much bigger golem statue with enormous arms and the appearance of an armoured warrior. Ruby doubted she'd need Stonefist for anything at this point, but it still felt good to have one on her ever-increasing team.

Then she reached another part of Route 8 known as Steamdrift Way. It was a simple path leading to Circhester but it was also quite snowy there and of course, most wild Pokémon that lived here were Ice type Pokémon. Appropriate considering the Ice Gym was just up ahead. On her way through Steamdrift Way, Ruby ended up catching another Pokémon. This one was a Sneasel, an Ice/Dark type Pokémon that looked like a small, bipedal rodent creature with large, twin claws, three red feathers for its tail and a single red feather over one of its ears. Ruby nicknamed this one "Steelclaw", owing to its big claws. She had a soft spot for Sneasels and was happy to have caught one. It wouldn't be much use to her for the remainder of the Gym Challenge but she knew it would be useful to her someday in the future.

After passing through Route 8 and defeating some trainers along her way, Ruby finally arrived in Circhester. Circhester was a quaint looking city with its stone and brick buildings and old-fashioned architecture. Due to this and the famous Hero's Bath house standing proudly in the middle of the city, Ruby thought that she'd stumbled across a city more akin to Ancient Rome than anything resembling modern civilization. The only buildings that brought Circhester into the modern world were the local restaurant, Bob's Yer Uncle, a hotel named Hotel Ionia, a hair salon, a water fountain, a Pokémon Centre and a Boutique with all sorts of wintry clothes to buy. And of course, up ahead, was Circhester Stadium itself with its colours set to white and the Ice Gym's logo on display above the doors as it was the day for the Shield pass trainers to challenge Melony. Come tomorrow, the stadium would change to brown and the Rock Gym's logo would be on display with Gordie taking over. It still amused Ruby to think that this was a Gym run by a mother and son duo. Did any other Gyms in regions outside of Galar have this kind of dynamic?

Ruby shivered and pulled her jacket closer around her. Circhester was one of the coldest parts of Galar, so much so that it snowed regularly. She could even see the fresh snowflakes slowly sprinkling down over the city once more as she walked through to the Gym. It baffled her to think that a city that had somehow been built on top of a hot spring could still bring snowy weather with it. She walked past the Hero's Bath house and could see some people relaxing in the soothing, warm water. How inviting it now looked to her with the cold weather biting into it but Ruby had no time to bathe. She wouldn't have wanted to anyway as she would've felt uncomfortable sitting in there with total strangers. Instead, she pushed on to the Gym, knowing that the stadium at least would be warmer than being out here.

Upon entering the stadium, Ruby quickly went to the changing rooms and changed into her Challenger Uniform. However, she wouldn't just have the uniform to wear this time. Anyone who faced the Ice Gym was given some extra clothes to wear under the uniform to protect them from the cold. The main arena itself had to be chilled constantly for the sake of Melony and her trainer's ice Pokémon so it only seemed fair to give the trainers a pair of leggings to wear under their shorts and an extra t-shirt to wear under their uniform shirt. Ruby's leggings were black and form fitting, proudly displaying the shape of her legs but they did their job. Ruby would've hated having to battle Melony with the cold biting at her legs what with being stuck wearing a pair of shorts as part of the Challenger Uniform. After getting changed, Ruby selected her team. The choices were very simple as she knew all the Ice type weaknesses. She selected Bugs, Freddy, Vesuvius and of course, her newest addition to the team. Once Sydney had come out of his ball to meet the others, Ruby recounted her close call with the other Galvantula and how Sydney had saved her.

"Dat was really great of ya, doc! Tanks fer savin' our trainer!" Bugs said delightedly, shaking his leg as a form of shaking hands with the electric spider.

"Yes darling, that was very selfless of you to risk your life for Ruby's." Freddy said appreciatively, "I may have to perform a song in your honour."

Sydney took the compliments modestly.

"Aw, shucks…I was only doing what was right." he said bashfully.

"And to think I already saved her life earlier today!" Vesuvius exclaimed, "You're certainly getting surrounded by heroes, eh Ruby?"

"More than I ever thought I would!" Ruby agreed, "Sydney deserved to join the team after his heroic deed earlier! Now he can join us as we face the Ice Gym and win that Ice Badge! Be warned though, it won't be as straight forward as other Gyms you've been in. We already had to bench Houdini because Opal was tougher than I expected. We all have to be on our A-game today and give Melony a great battle that she'll never forget!"

"I know I'm ready!" Bugs cried eagerly, "I ain't had a real fight since I evolved, only getting a few trainer battles and wild encounters so now I can test my new form in a Gym battle!"

"And this'll be my first time experiencing a Pokémon battle for sport." Sydney put in, "What bigger first time could I get than being part of a team that'll face a Gym Leader?"

"You bet Sydney." Ruby said, nodding, "Come on then guys! Let's go melt this iceberg…"

She returned the team to their balls and headed out of the changing rooms to partake in her sixth Gym Battle…


The Gym Challengers inevitably posed no threat to Ruby and her specialized team to take on Ice-type Pokémon and any Ice-type Pokémon with a dual Water-typing to go along with it. Ruby had to walk through a room with a huge ice floor that had the Gym Challengers waiting for her on a few platforms built into the ice. The ice was slippery and Ruby fell over a few times but she managed to make her way across and fight each Gym Challenger that stood in her way. Now she'd made it to the arena itself to face Melony for the Ice Badge.

The arena was an icy-blue and white colour with the usual posters and the Gym logo plastered around the walls. It was still chilly in the arena, but the extra clothes Ruby had made it easy for her to put up with it. She was reminded of the Fire Gym in Motostoke City and how swelteringly hot it was to be there. The stadium had to be warm for the benefit of the Fire Pokémon and this arena was just the same for the Ice Pokémon. She imagine that it must be hell for any trainers in winter who just want to get out of the cold for a minute only to be back in it again with this arena. Those with a Sword pass must feel grateful that they had to fight Gordie instead! When he ran the Gym, it was never cold as he specialized in Rock types so it wasn't necessary to keep things cold for them.

Ruby took her place in the centre of the arena and was greeted by the very Gym Leader she'd come to face. She would've recognized the plump but graceful appearance of Melony from anywhere, even if she wasn't in her Gym at this moment. Melony was a relatively short woman with a round figure and huge grey hair with streaks of dark grey going through it and a single strand over one eye. She was dressed in a woolly white jumper with a thick collar, a pair of shorts with the number 381 over a pair of grey leggings with snow patterns across the thighs and knee-high white boots. Of all the female Gym Leaders Ruby had seen, Melony was the only one who wasn't thin and slender at all but yet she still had a kind of beauty to her, looking rather graceful in appearance despite her overweight figure. Ruby could even tell that she was a mother for she had that motherly appearance to her, looking like the sweetest and most gentle person you could meet. And yet from what she'd heard, she and her son were estranged. What happened between them for things to get bad between them? Melony seemed to be in a good mood for she was smiling pleasantly at her new challenger. She could've been welcoming Ruby into her house for tea rather than challenging her for a Gym badge.

"Hello darling. You must be Ruby Silverlock, right?" the large woman said sweetly, "You probably know that I'm the Gym Leader, Melony. It's nice to meet you."

"Pleasure's all mine, miss." Ruby said politely.

"As the Ice Gym Leader, I hope to give you a good challenge." Melony said, "But please dear, no Frozen jokes while we're here. We Ice-type specialists are rather sick of those." she added, frowning.

"Meh, I think that film's overrated as hell anyway." Ruby said, shrugging, "You won't get any jokes like that while I'm here."

"That's good." Melony replied, "Now prepare yourself Ruby for me and my team will freeze you solid!" she cried determinedly.

"It'll take more than Ice Pokémon to freeze my fiery spirit!" Ruby shot back.

"Ooh hoo, hoo, you're a spunky kid, aren't you? I like that." Melony said, impressed with her challenger's wit, "Kind of reminds me of my son whenever he's ready for a fight…"

She stopped herself from thinking further about it as she and Ruby took their positions and waited for the signal to go.

"From Postwick Town, Ruby Silverlock." the announcer's voice crackled over the speakers, "Her opponent: Gym Leader Melony."

There were cheers from both sides of the audience as one side rooted for Melony, most of them locals that had come to watch the fight, and the other side rooted for Ruby. To the teenager's surprise, the cheers for her sounded almost as loud, if not more so, than the cheers for Melony. With five straight wins and no straight-up defeats at the hands of each Gym Leader, it was hardly surprising that Ruby was already building up a huge fanbase. She may well even have the biggest fanbase of all the Gym Leaders competing in this season. Ruby and Melony stood by as the announcer began the countdown. This was it, the battle for the sixth Gym Badge was finally ready to start.

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

"OK Ruby, let us have a frosty but fabulous battle!" Melony cried, drawing out an Ultra Ball, "Frosmoth, freeze the opposition!"

She tossed the ball up as if it were a baseball, caught it in her hand and then threw it to summon forth her first Pokémon. Ruby recognized it instantly, having seen Melony use this Pokémon in plenty of Gym Battles on TV. Frosmoth was a very elegant Pokémon, one of the most attractive looking Bug-types that had been discovered. There was nothing ugly about it whatsoever with its huge, bulbous body, large blue eyes, long antennae and transparent wings with ice patterns on them. Ruby thought Frosmoth looked strangely cute, and yet at the same time she thought it looked like Melony if she'd been turned into a Pokémon. It was like her "Poké-sona", she might've said. Ruby took out her first ball, knowing exactly who she was going to choose first.

"This one will be no contest. A Bug/Ice type Pokémon has no chance against a Fire type." Ruby crowed, "Bugs, you're up first!"

She threw the ball and out came Bugs the Cinderace, looking energized and ready to do battle again after the Gym Trainers earlier. Bugs hopped from one foot to the other as if he was a footballer getting ready to play ball and he eyed his opponent. The Frosmoth stared at him worriedly, knowing just how doomed it was for it wouldn't stand a chance against a Cinderace. Bugs grinned confidently.

"A Frosmoth eh? Dis'll be a cinch!" he sneered, "Just give da command Ruby and I'm away!"

"This'll be over in a single blow. Use Pyro Ball!" Ruby cried.

"One Pyro Ball comin' up!" Bugs replied.

He produced a pebble seemingly from nowhere and started to play keepy-uppy with it. He kicked the pebble from one foot to the other, the pebble never once touching the ground. The audience was impressed. Imagine that Pokémon in a football match! He'd probably be a right ace on the pitch! But Bugs wasn't playing football the traditional way. As he kicked the pebble, it grew hotter and hotter and was surrounded by ever growing flames. The flame ball grew until it was the size of an actual football and then Bugs kicked it towards Frosmoth. That was Pyro Ball, the signature move of Cinderace and it was a move ONLY Cinderaces could learn. It was very powerful, one of the strongest Fire attacks a Pokémon could learn and Frosmoth soon saw for itself just how powerful. Melony gasped as her beautiful Frosmoth was brought down to the ground by the giant fireball, singed and burnt from the colossal impact and knocked out in a single hit. Frosmoth lay still, a slight, feminine groan coming from it as it slipped into unconsciousness. Bugs punched the air triumphantly.

"Whoo! Bullseye! I love dis form!" he cheered, "I feel like I could take on Leon all by myself at dis point!"

"Eeh, heh, heh…let's not get too carried away there Bugs." Ruby said sheepishly, "Leon's on a whole other level compared to a Gym Leader…"

"Frosmoth is unable to battle! Cinderace is the winner!" the announcer barked, earning a round of applause from Ruby's supporters in the audience.

Melony returned her scorched up Frosmoth, taken aback that the fight had ended so quickly. She had been told by the other Gym Leaders beforehand that Ruby was one to look out for but even then, how could she have prepared herself for a challenger THIS good? She'd hoped to give Ruby a tough challenge but it seemed she was going to be defeated as easily as the Gym Leaders before her.

"Wow, that was a great start!" Melony praised, "Let's see how long you can keep it up for with my next Pokémon…"

She threw her next Ultra Ball and brought out another regional variant of a Pokémon species discovered elsewhere. This was Darmanitan, a Fire-type Pokémon found in the Unova region though over in Galar, the species had lost its Fire typing in favour of an Ice typing. Galarian Darmanitan looked like a cross between in ape and a snowman with huge, round, white bodies, thick, oversized arms and small feet, a Santa Claus like bear and a huge round "afro" atop their heads studded with three ice-blue gems. Galarian Darmanitan were said to pretend to be snowmen if they wanted to avoid being targeted by trainers. Whenever it snowed in Postwick, Ruby's sisters liked to build snowmen that resembled Darmanitan and would compete to see who could build the biggest one. If only Emerald and Sapphire could see her facing the genuine article right now!

The Darmanitan puffed itself up and raised its fists, ready to battle. As it was yet another Ice type, Ruby saw no reason to switch Pokémon and left Bugs out on the field. Darmanitan was a powerful species and she knew it was capable of learning Ground attacks like Earthquake to fend off Fire types that would threaten it. But Bugs was much faster than Darmanitan so he'd land the first blow and finish the match before Darmanitan could become a potential threat. Of course, Ruby had no idea if Melony's Darmanitan did know Earthquake or not but it was better to end the fight and not know then risk it.

"This'll be another easy one. Go for another knockout with Pyro Ball again, Bugs!" Ruby ordered.

"I hope ya don't melt when dis hits ya, doc!" Bugs taunted.

He kicked another pebble that he seemed to have summoned from nowhere from one foot to the other and just like with Frosmoth, it grew from a tiny pebble to a big fireball within seconds. Bugs kicked it, at this very moment looking like a striker on the pitch about to score an incredible goal, and the Pyro Ball slammed into Darmanitan. Its size and bulk did nothing against the power of Bugs's signature move, flying backwards off its feet from the hit and crashing down at Melony's feet. The wintry woman leapt back in alarm before it could crash into her. Darmanitan lay still, completely wiped out in one move by the attack. Melony was very impressed. This girl had raised her Cinderace well to win fights so quickly! She couldn't remember the last time anyone had managed to one-shot two Pokémon of hers in a row. She imagined that Ruby could hold her own against her son with Pokémon this powerful!

"Darmanitan is unable to battle! Cinderace is the winner!" the announcer barked.

"What can I say? I clearly put da "ace" in Cinderace!" Bugs crowed, feeling very pleased with himself.

"You sure do!" Ruby agreed, "You've become so powerful Bugs! I'm so proud of you!"

"Aww, tanks Ruby." Bugs said appreciatively.

Melony returned Darmanitan and drew out her third Ultra Ball.

"You've certainly earned your reputation as this season's rising star, darling." Melon complimented, "This is proving to be my toughest match I've had for a while. I'm still confident that I can win though. It's not over til it's over, as I used to tell my son. Now Eiscue, freeze the opposition!"

She threw the ball and Ruby found herself staring at a Pokémon that looked more like it had stumbled out of a crazy cartoon than a real species. At first she didn't believe what she was seeing so she rubbed her eyes and stared again. Her eyes were not playing tricks on her. This was a real Pokémon! Eiscue literally looked like a penguin with a giant ice cube on its head, the ice cube having sculpted eyes and a beak and a single strand of hair sticking out of the top. It looked bizarre, even by Pokémon standards and Ruby thought it belonged in a children's book rather than in a Pokémon battle. To her annoyance, she knew very little about Eiscue too. It wasn't a Pokémon she regularly read about in her pre-teens and she never saw it in action much during televised Pokémon battles. She'd also never seen one in the wild so this was a Pokémon as new to her as Freddy the Toxtricity had been when meeting him as a Toxel back in the Pokémon Nursery. She imagined it was a Water/Ice type due to its penguin appearance so she took out her Pokéball and aimed at Bugs.

"Just what I was prepared for." Ruby mused, "Sorry Bugs, your time to shine's over now. It's time for the electric types to come out."

She returned Bugs and swapped his Pokéball out for another. She smiled to herself as she prepared to summon her next Pokémon out.

"It's time for you to prove yourself, my hero." Ruby said softly, "Go Sydney!"

She threw the Pokéball and brought forth the very Pokémon that had saved her back on Route 7. Sydney shook his abdomen and flexed his legs with anticipation. He was feeling quite enthusiastic about this match and was eager to fight. Melony's face curled upon seeing the Galvantula before her.

"Ugh…I'm not too keen on Galvantula." she said queasily, trying not to sound rude.

"Oh you're not? Sorry about that. I didn't know." Ruby said apologetically.

"It's OK Ruby. I may not like them much but I don't judge trainers who catch them." Melony said brightly, "Did you catch this one on your way over?"

"Sure did. I was ambushed by one Galvantula on Route 7 but this one fought it off and saved me from being eaten by it." Ruby explained, "That earned him a spot on the team!"

"I was just doing what I thought was right." Sydney said modestly.

Melony beamed with adoration. She may not like Galvantula and find them a little unnerving, but her dislike wouldn't stop her from admiring this one for saving a teenage girl like Ruby from being eaten by another.

"Aww, you've got yourself a very heroic Galvantula!" Melony piped, "I always love it when a trainer's Pokémon is one that does heroic deeds like that! It just makes the bond between trainer and Pokémon that much sweeter, I think!"

"I couldn't agree more." Ruby said, smiling graciously at Sydney, "Now I can show you how well he fights. Use Discharge on Eiscue!"

Sydney obeyed. He raises his abdomen and let out a huge wall of electricity that expanded from his abdomen towards his opponent. It was like he'd turned into a thundercloud and was trying to electrocute everything in his way. Discharge was an electric attack that could hit all opponents on the battlefield, which was handy for double battles but risky at the same time as the user's partner could get hit too unless they avoided the attack or used Protect. Eiscue was hit by the Discharge and it cried out as it was electrocuted. It was impossible to tell how it was feeling due to its head being encased in ice but Ruby imagined it was in a lot of pain. The attack had also paralyzed Eiscue, electricity crackling around its body and making it twitch. But to the silver girl's surprise, Eiscue had been damaged by the attack, but not as much as she'd expected. She was at least expecting a one-hit KO but instead, Eiscue had taken the blow and looked like it hand plenty of life left in it to carry on.

"Huh? But that should've been super-effective!" Ruby cried, "How did that not do much?"

Melony shook her head and tutted.

"Oh dear Ruby, I'm afraid you're not the first to make that mistake." she said with a smirk, "You must think Eiscue's part Water type, right? Well you're wrong. She's actually a pure Ice type. Many people think they're Water/Ice types due to their penguin like appearances. It's a fair mistake to make, I mean the Sinnoh region has the Piplup line in which they're penguin like and they're water types. But no, Eiscue are pure Ice types so while your Galvantula's hits are powerful, they won't do the damage you hoped they would."

"Oh bugger!" Ruby cursed, "I could've just used Bugs again to make this another one-hit KO victory! I wish I'd read more about Eiscue when I was growing up…"

"We trainers learn something new every day, sweetie." Melony said softly, "Now Eiscue, use Icy Wind!"

Eiscue waved its little flippers and summoned a gust of ice cold wind towards Sydney as if it was a magician conjuring up a storm. Sydney stood his ground and took the Icy Wind as it swept over him. The cold bit into him and he felt as if he was being hit in the face by the winter season itself. But Bug types didn't have a weakness to Ice types so he pulled through and suffered little damage as a result of the Icy Wind. He shook himself off and allowed jolts of electricity to crackle through his body to warm himself up again. Ruby ordered him to use Discharge again. She felt that she may as well finish the fight than waste time switching out for Bugs again and she knew Sydney could handle it and Eiscue had nothing really effective to use against him. The spider-like Pokémon electrocuted his opponent once more, doing more damage to the penguin-like Pokémon but alas, it wasn't quite enough to finish the fight. Eiscue still had a bit more health left. Melony took this opportunity to have Eiscue use Hail while it was still fighting fit.

Eiscue waved its flippers again and summoned a hailstorm that sprinkled down onto the battlefield. Chunks of hail came down as gentle as a snowfall but it didn't feel like snow as some of it sprinkled on Sydney and made him flinch. Hail was a weather condition move that summoned a hailstorm that did a little damage to any opponent that wasn't an Ice type. Eiscue would be unharmed but Sydney would take a little damage at the end of every turn. Ruby wished even more now that she'd kept Bugs on the battlefield instead of switching out. Eiscue wouldn't have been able to set the Hail up otherwise. If only she'd known it was a pure Ice type from the start! It didn't matter for Eiscue was nearly down and Sydney had more than enough health in him to finish it off. She ordered Sydney to use one last Discharge to win the fight. The electric tarantula unleashed another wall of electricity that hit Eiscue and just as Ruby expected, it was enough to finish it off. The attack sapped away what was left of its health and it was brought down to the floor, a third victory in a row for Ruby and leaving Melony with just one Pokémon left to fight with. She gave a soft smile as she returned Eiscue to its ball, silently thanking it for a good battle despite how outclassed it was.

"Eiscue is unable to battle! Galvantula is the winner!" the announcer cried.

"Not bad I must say." Sydney said, pleased with his performance, "All my time protecting trainers from savage Pokémon has clearly made me adequate for Pokémon battling!"

"And despite my mistake in thinking you had a type-advantage, you still won pretty easily too. You're sure shaping up to be a strong new addition to the team!" Ruby complimented.

Sydney beamed with pleasure. He was glad that the very girl whose live he'd saved was taking a big liking to him. On the opposite side of the field, Melony held her last Ultra Ball delicately in her hands as if it was a prized item rather than a Pokéball. Ruby braced herself. She knew exactly what was coming next.

"And so we're down to my last Pokémon." Melony acknowledged, "And this time, your Galvantula will actually have the type-advantage as it really is a Water/Ice type. But be warned, it can take a hit, electric type or not. Lapras, freeze the opposition!"

She threw the ball and brought to the battle her final Pokémon and her personal ace, the beautiful and graceful Lapras. Originally found in the Kanto region, Lapras were popular Pokémon with Water-type enthusiasts for their gentle natures, friendly personalities and for making effective Pokémon to travel across water with. Lapras was a large, plesiosaur like Pokémon with four large flippers, a purple shell on its back with blunt spikes, curled ears and large brown eyes. Ruby wished that Sapphire was here to see this as Lapras was one of her absolute FAVOURITE Pokémon of all time. She would go into fangirl mode if she could see this beautiful Pokémon right now! Hopefully when her time to start her journey next year came, she'd catch one for herself.

"I knew your Lapras was coming eventually." Ruby said, "And whenever I've seen you in battle, it's always the Pokémon I enjoy watching the most. Lapras are really lovely Pokémon, don't you think?"

"They're the best, darling!" Melony agreed, "I'm quite attached to my Lapras. Much like how your Galvantula saved you back in Route 7, this Lapras saved my life once too. I was caught out at sea and struggled to make it back to shore to avoid the rough waves but this beauty saw me and quickly whisked me back to shore before I could drown. Every day I live, I owe to this precious Pokémon before me!"

Lapras smiled and raised its flipper as if to say "You're welcome!" to its trainer. Ruby smiled, touched by the story. What could be sweeter than hearing how a Pokémon had saved someone's life and become their Pokémon as a result?

"That's a sweet story." Ruby said with awe, "Now let's see how well it fights. I can't wait to see it in action."

She and Melony both held their hands out and their Dynamax bands activated. It was obvious to either side that it was time to Dynamax as this was the last battle. Melony watched as the Dynamax energy surrounded Ruby's wrist and her hair glowed in response. That was interesting. No trainer she'd ever watched could do that with their hair. She'd thought the others were kidding when they said her hair glowed whenever she Dynamaxed her Pokémon. Both trainers waited until their balls had expanded in size and then they threw them into the air in unison. The crowd grew wild as they watched the battling Pokémon grow in size once again as Dynamax took hold. Sydney grew into a much bigger Galvantula, completely blown away by the experience as he'd never Dynamaxed before. How awesome it felt to suddenly be so big! Melony's Lapras however did more than just get bigger. It began to change its appearance as like Allister's Gengar and Opal's Alcremie, it could Gigantamax. Its eyes turned into an icy blue colour, its neck grew longer, its shell grew bigger and formed a vague cruise ship-like appearance with grey and red stripes around it and it was surrounded by wavy white rings with icicles that circled around it like the rings of Saturn. It was said that about 5,000 people could ride in the shell of Gigantamax Lapras for a comfortable ride and the rings around it would break through any iceberg trying to prevent it from swimming. Ruby stared in wonder at the Gigantamaxed Lapras. How would Sapphire have reacted if she could've watched it Gigantamax like she had?

"OK Sydney, let's try to wrap this up in one! Use Max Lightning!" Ruby cried.

"I wonder how strong my electric attacks will be when I'm this big…" Sydney boomed with interest.

He gasped for a moment, taken aback by how his voice had deepened and seemed to echo around the arena. He shook it off for the moment and fired a colossal jolt of electricity that could've powered an entire city at Lapras. The Gigantamaxed Pokémon cried out in pain from the electric attack and it staggered backwards. The crowd could hardly watch, blinded by the dazzling lights of Sydney's Max Lightning. The attack was powerful but like Melony had warned, Lapras was a sturdy Pokémon that could take the hits so it hadn't taken it down like Ruby had hoped it would. It was still very much in action, raising its head and staring Sydney down as it awaited its master's command.

"I love you so much Lapras. You never let me down." the portly woman said affectionately, "Now use G-Max Resonance!" she ordered.

G-Max Resonance was a move exclusive only to Gigantamaxed Laprases. It was a powerful ice attack that had an added side-effect that sometimes activated when the move was used. Lapras opened its mouth and fired a giant beam of ice from its throat. To Ruby, it looked more like it was just using a bigger version of Ice Beam. Sydney was hit by the attack and due to the sheer strength of Lapras, it had managed to do a lot of damage to him. His health was down low but he wasn't out yet. He shivered, the attack leaving him quite cold but he was otherwise fine. He flinched as the Hail set up by Eiscue inflicted a bit more damage to him. Ruby grew worried. Would Sydney be able to stand up to Lapras and finish the fight? She hoped so. Lapras's health was also low so maybe one more Max Lightning would win the fight. The audience held its breath. This match between two titanic opponents was proving to be closer than they thought. What an exciting match this was proving to watch!

"OK Sydney, I think we can finish this! Hang on just a little more for me, OK?" Ruby asked.

"I'll try to." Sydney replied, "As cold as that was, the electricity in me can warm me up at least."

"That's good." Ruby said brightly, "Now try another Max Lightning! That should win us the fight!"

Sydney executed the move, blasting Lapras with another colossal jolt of electricity. However, before the move hit, a small barrier formed over Lapras and the attack slammed into it. This was the added side-effect of G-Max Resonance. It created something called Aurora Veil, a move that weakened the power of all attacks that the opponent landed on the user. It didn't stop Lapras from taking damage, but it did make it suffer less damage as a result. Despite Sydney's best efforts and his strongest attack he'd landed on the plesiosaur Pokémon, it just couldn't finish Lapras off thanks to his attack being weakened by Aurora Veil. Ruby gasped as she saw the Lapras still standing and very much ready to fight back. She was aware of G-Max Resonance's side-effect and had hoped she wouldn't fall victim to it. She could only watch helplessly as Lapras retaliated with another G-Max Resonance. There was nothing more she could do as Sydney was blasted by another giant ice beam and was brought down to the floor. The Dynamax wore off and he was returned to his normal size, shivering furiously as he tried to warm himself up again. He had no energy left in him to fight, lying flat on his stomach in defeat. Ruby put her hands to her face in dismay, saddened to see that her newest Pokémon had lost only his second battle.

"Oh Sydney…I'm so sorry." she said disappointedly, "I didn't think you'd lose so soon."

"Galvantula is unable to battle, Lapras is the winner!" the announcer cried.

Melony's supporters cheered, glad to see the graceful Ice Gym leader finally win a match against her challenger. Ruby's supporters still cheered for the Postwick girl, making it clear that they thought she put up a good battle regardless. Ruby returned Sydney to his Pokéball and looked at it with a sad smile.

"Thank you Sydney. You did great out there. I wish you could've won." she said softly, "Rest well for now."

She took out her next Pokéball. It was lucky for her she still had her second Electric type to use against Lapras. This fight was still going to be her's to win!

"Your Lapras is very strong Melony, but it's not strong enough to win against Freddy!" Ruby declared, "It's show time, Freddy!"

She threw the Pokéball and out came Freddy, ready to give the audience a show and a battle once more. Melony had been told that Ruby had a singing Toxtricity with her so she was glad she would see it in action. This was going to be a fun conclusion to the battle. Freddy stretched and grunted, getting himself ready to battle. He then eyed his opponent, seeing Melony and her Gigantamax Lapras and he put a finger to his lips for a moment. He smiled, knowing exactly what song to sing for this fight. He strummed his chest knobs and sang along to the tune he played.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre you gonna take me home toniiiiiiight?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh down beside that red firelight!

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre you gonna let it all hang out?

Fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin' world go roooooooooooooooooound!

Ruby put her hands to her mouth in horror, blushing bright red at Freddy's poor choice of song. Of all the Queen songs to choose, why that one?! Could Freddy have picked a more awkward song to sing at Melony's expense?! The audience burst into laughter, finding the whole thing very funny. Melony blushed herself and she looked over at her rather large backside, patting it softly for she couldn't blame Freddy for picking that song. She was, as the song put it, a "fat bottomed girl" and it still embarrassed her that she was the way she was.

"Aww, I'd hoped I was actually losing weight after I started dieting…" she mused sadly, rubbing her large bottom in disappointment.

"Freddy!" Ruby hissed angrily, still red with embarrassment, "That was very rude of you! I think you've really offended Melony with that song!"

Freddy nodded in agreement.

"I agree, darling. In hindsight, that was pretty tasteless of me." the Toxtricity admitted, "I'm terribly sorry, love. I hope I didn't upset you with that. I never had any intentions of offending you." he said guiltily, looking over at Melony.

"It's quite alright, please don't fret about it." Melony said hastily, "I've been the subject of a lot of fat jokes from cheeky trainers before. I've learnt to just live with it, for many soon regret making fun of me when I beat them afterwards. Despite the poor choice of song, you're quite the talented Pokémon I'll admit." she said cheerfully, "Opal told me you could sing really well and to hear you singing like Freddy Mercury himself is quite impressive."

"Why thank you, darling. I'm glad you appreciate my talents." Freddy said graciously, "Once again, I'm sorry about my choice of song. I'll pick a better one when this is over."

"I'm just glad you're not too upset about it." Ruby said, sounding relieved, "I was really worried that Freddy had offended you there."

"He didn't mean it at least. I can't be mad at him for just wanting to have fun." Melony said kindly, "Now, shall we continue the battle?"

"Of course." Ruby said politely, "Freddy, use Overdrive!"

The Poison/Electric Pokémon obeyed, strumming his chest knobs and throwing his arms aside as a huge, electric soundwave erupted from his lanky body and hit the Gigantamaxed Lapras. Overdrive was an Electric type attack that was sound based and it was the signature move of Toxtricity. And as Ruby saw, it was a powerful move for it was just enough to finish off Lapras. The Gigantamax Pokémon couldn't withstand the hit and was ultimately defeated as the last of its health was swallowed up by Freddy's attack. The Dynamax energy wore off, bringing Lapras back down to its normal size and form and it lay flat on the floor, unable to fight anymore. Melony gave a soft smile to Lapras, still proud of her beloved Pokémon despite it losing the battle.

"You fought well my beauty. Well done." Melony said kindly, "You deserve a good rest now." she said as she returned it to its Pokéball.

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

Despite the embarrassment earlier, Ruby allowed herself to punch the air excitedly and cry out for joy as the audience cheered for her. What a sensation this was! SIX Gym victories in a row and all done on her first try no less! Was there no end to her unstoppable winning streak? Even when a Gym Leader defeated at least one of her Pokémon, it was never enough for she still fought back and won anyway! She then thought for a moment about Hop as it dawned on her that he would've been here before her. Did he win the Ice Gym at all? If so, the two could maybe have a celebration dinner together. Ruby was quite hungry after her big Gym battle and she would love to share a meal with Hop to celebrate this win. But first, she and Melony approached each other and shook hands for the great battle they'd had together.

"You are an amazing trainer Ruby." Melony praised, "The sheer cold of my Pokémon couldn't quell your fiery spirit as you declared they wouldn't. I bet you could give Gordie a great battle if you two meet each other one day."

"I'd love the chance to challenge your son." Ruby said brightly, "How is he anyway? Are you two still…um…distant?" she asked, hoping that she'd chosen the right words.

"We still don't talk to each other." Melony said solemnly, "I'd rather not talk about that now…for now, I'd rather present to you your well-earned Ice Badge."

She handed Ruby the Ice Badge, a gold piece with an ice cube logo in the centre. Ruby admired it, amazed to see she was actually holding the badge in her hand at this point. Her sixth badge had been won! How was she only two badges away from winning the Gym Challenge already?! Was she really this close to reaching Wyndon City despite it feeling like only yesterday when she was receiving her first Gym Badge from Milo back in Turffield? It was crazy how fast this whole circuit was going by for her! Ruby could hardly wait to make her way to Spikemuth for the Dark Badge. But first, she needed to get her Pokémon healed up, especially Sydney. She hoped he would be OK and would heal quickly…


Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. As Ruby left Circhester Stadium, she ran straight to the Pokémon Centre and gave Sydney over to the Nurse Joy working there. He was the only Pokémon that needed healing at the moment so she didn't need to hand over any of her other Pokémon. Ruby then had to wait a moment as Nurse Joy looked over Sydney. Half an hour later, she was given the news she didn't want to hear.

"Your Galvantula will recover, but he must stay with us for a while." the nurse said sadly, "That last attack from Melony's Lapras has caused it to come down with a rather nasty cold. It would be best that it stay with us to recover so it doesn't pass the cold onto your other Pokémon."

Ruby felt as if she'd been punched in the stomach by Bede again. She'd only just caught Sydney and now she had to bench him like she had to do with Chomps and Houdini?! This felt like a twist of fate almost as cruel as when Ariel had been killed by a wild Wobbuffet! Was Arceus himself determined to make her suffer for every victory she scored or something? Rub was so annoyed at the news that she swore loudly, making the other trainers waiting for their Pokémon look up and frown at her. Nurse Joy recoiled. The teen trainer felt like throwing something but decided against it. It was best not to make a scene in a Pokémon Centre. Ruby just ran her hands down her face and sighed in exasperation.

"I'm very sorry love, but it has to be done." Nurse Joy said sadly, "Don't worry, we'll take good care of your Galvantula for you and once the cold is gone, you can come and collect him."

"I understand. Thank you." Ruby said, trying her best to sound polite again and to keep the anger down, "Is it alright for me to say goodbye to him before I go?"

"Of course. Take all the time you need." the nurse said kindly.

So Ruby went through to see Sydney, who was lying on a bed curled up like a spider in its burrow. He evidently looked very sick as Ruby could see. He looked as if he needed a long, long lie down and as he breathed, he even sounded pretty stuffed up. Ruby patted his head softly. He felt like he was burning up, another evident sign of the cold he'd come down with. It felt so unfair that this had to happen. Sydney had saved her life and this was how he was repaid? To sit in a bed recovering from a cold so shortly after he'd been made a new member of the team? Why couldn't he have stayed a little longer?

"I'm so sorry it's come to this Sydney." Ruby said sadly, "I wanted to make you a welcome member of the team as thanks for saving me earlier. I never wished for you to end up like this."

"You don't need to apologize." Sydney said, his voice croaky from the cold, "All you need to do is be happy that you managed to win that next Gym Badge and that I gave it my all. I only wish I could've been stronger for you." he said glumly, adding a sneeze to the end of his sentence.

"Don't say that!" Ruby exclaimed, "You're the reason I'm alive right now! Thanks to you, I survived that encounter in Route 7 and even managed to get to the Gym and win my next badge! You're the strongest Pokémon I've ever met Sydney! Please…just please don't put yourself down like that. You're not weak at all and I would never view you that way!"

She then wrapped her arms around the electric tarantula and hugged him tightly. Sydney closed his eyes and nuzzled against Ruby's cheek. So this was why so many Pokémon liked to be caught and trained by trainers. So much warmth and love that came from them made the whole bond between trainer and Pokémon an experience worth having.

"You're so kind Ruby." Sydney said softly, "I'm glad that as brief as it was, that I could be your Pokémon."

"You're welcome Sydney." Ruby said kindly, "I know we haven't known each other for long, but I'll miss you regardless. I hope you get better soon and that you can join the team again."