Chapter 22: The Final Gym
It wasn't long until Ruby found herself back at Hammerlocke City to take on the final Gym. It felt like only yesterday when she was first arriving in the city after another trip through the Wild Area. She was glad to see that the whole place looked the same as when she'd left it, clearly showing that no more tremors had been occurring since the last time she was there. It was clear that whatever had caused it, the Chairman had taken care of it.
After winning the Dark Badge, Ruby had gone back to the Pokémon Centre to have her team healed up. Scorponok, who had been taken out by Piers's Obstagoon in battle, was completely fighting fit again and looking as if he'd never been taken out. It was a relief for Ruby that for once, she had a Pokémon that had lost a fight that didn't need to be benched for once. She was keen to make her way over to Hammerlocke and get ready for the final Gym battle…only Scorponok had decided that she would do it without her.
"What do you mean? You're well enough to fight again Scorponok, you can still come with me." Ruby insisted.
"I mean in the sense that after that horrible experience after being knocked out by that Counter attack and the distress it caused you…I no longer wish to participate in battles." Scorponok explained, "I was always a Pokémon of peace and I'd rather live a life free of violence. I know Pokémon battles are done for fun and sports, I understand that. It's just a sport I no longer wish to take part in. But I'll still be your Pokémon if you want me to." he said kindly.
Ruby understood completely. If that was Scorponok's wish, she wouldn't force him to fight. If he'd prefer to live a peaceful life with her from now on, she'd honour that wish. She patted his head softly.
"I'm going to miss battling with you." Ruby said softly, "You were a great Pokémon and you were very strong. But I'm glad you want to stay with me and the others anyway."
"I could never walk out on you all." Scorponok replied, "You've all been very good to me and you're a wonderful trainer Ruby. I may no longer wish to participate in battles, but I'll be around if ever you need me. Who knows, if you end up confronting anyone like that Bede character again, I could be your protector."
"I'd like that." Ruby said appreciatively.
So after that, Ruby had left Spikemuth and taken the tunnel that linked Route 7 to the town so she could get back to Hammerlocke. Of course, she'd been quick to notice that Spikemuth's gate had been opened so the other Gym Challengers could finally challenge Piers's Gym and earn their badge. It was pretty late by the time Ruby got to Hammerlocke so she'd quickly found a hotel to stay in for the night and get a well-earned rest. Come the morning, she had her breakfast, got dressed and headed back out into Route 7 to get some training done. She was going to be up against Raihan, the Dragon Gym Leader, so she wanted her Pokémon to all be in prime condition. She also still had some EXP candies stashed in her bag so as well as training her Pokémon up, she gave a few to her Pokémon to help level them up.
The team she'd chosen for this Gym included Bugs the Cinderace, Gene the Obstagoon, Raven the Haunter, Soundwave the Noibat, Vesuvius the Coalossal and Freddy the Toxtricity. She was confident that they all had the necessary move sets and type coverage to handle Raihan's Pokémon and was sure that everyone had the power to stand up to them. Soundwave was the exception as he still hadn't evolved yet. Ruby decided to fix that by giving him some EXP candies.
"Here, take these. You'll finally be able to evolve once you do." Ruby explained.
Soundwave gobbled them up eagerly. He'd long since desired to evolve ever since Ruby had caught him and now his dream was going to come true. Noibats evolved at Level 48 and Soundwave was nearly there so the EXP candies would help him finish levelling up to that point. Soundwave smacked his lips as he finished eating, enjoying the taste of the candies. Then seconds later, he suddenly started to glow. As Ruby had expected, it was enough for him to reach his evolved form. She and the other Pokémon with her watched with excitement as Soundwave's shape started to change and he began to grown in size. His evolution process completed and Ruby found herself beaming with excitement as the Noibat she had caught all the way back in Galar's second mine was no longer a Noibat, but a Noivern.
Noivern was a Dragon/Flying type Pokémon resembling a hybrid of a bat and a dragon. It maintained the speaker like ears of its predecessor, only they were much bigger. It had huge wings with three clawed hands, a long tail with a barbed tip, large legs with two-clawed feet and a white fluffy mane around its neck. It was a huge Pokémon, big enough for a girl of Ruby's age and size to ride on easily. Soundwave spread his mighty wings and gave a screech of delight. He'd finally evolved, and he was loving it! He felt like a whole new Pokémon, and in the best way possible. He felt as if he could fly for days without getting tired and take out all opponents in his way. His teammates admired him with awe.
"Gotta say doc, ya look great as a Noivern!" Bugs complimented.
"Yeah, you look pretty cool." Raven said, nonchalant as ever.
"I bet you'll do great in the last Gym as a Noivern, Soundwave!" Vesuvius cried.
"Thank you everyone." Soundwave purred, "And thank you Ruby for allowing me to achieve my goal. I'm a Noivern at last, and it feels incredible. I've now achieved my ultimate power!" he bellowed, flapping his wings enthusiastically.
"You're very welcome Soundwave!" Ruby giggled, "Now everybody, let's go back to the city and get that final Gym badge! I feel confident that we can win this, all of us!"
"It's gonna be a tough one I bet." Gene said gravely, "The last Gym isn't gonna be easy, that much is certain. As the last one, it's no doubt the hardest."
"Raihan's the only one who can ever give Leon a run for his money so yeah, he's quite powerful." Ruby agreed, "Especially when he brings that famous Duraludon of his…I'm nervous about having to fight that. But with you guys by my side, I know we can beat him! Are you all ready?"
"Always ready for you, doll." Bugs said, winking.
"We will bring you to victory in this final Gym, Ruby." Soundwave growled.
"We've always been ready for whatever the Gyms have in store." Raven declared, "We're ready for this one too."
"Then let's get that Dragon Badge!" Ruby cried optimistically.
And so she'd made her way over to Hammerlocke Stadium, changed into her Gym Uniform, and was walking out into the arena to face Raihan. Naturally, she'd texted her family about it to let them know that she was in the last Gym and was ready to face Raihan. The Gym Challengers once again proved to be no problem for her as she effortlessly took them out, picking the right duos to counter their Pokémon combinations. Raihan's Gym specialized in double-battles, a kind of battle in which trainers used two Pokémon at once. Ruby was glad to be doing so as she thought double-battles were fun. There was something really enjoyable about picking two Pokémon to act as a team and having them fight together against another team. Given the many, many species of Pokémon that existed in the world, combinations were just endless and it made the whole idea of double-battles so appealing to Ruby, especially in her pre-teens.
Ruby and Raihan met in the centre of the arena and faced each other. As usual, there was a large crowd gathered in the stadium to watch the fight. Many of them were chanting for Ruby and many were also chanting for Raihan, the two names fighting for attention amongst a sea of tumultuous noise. Ruby was trying her best to look confident but deep inside, she felt really nervous. She was actually here, in Hammerlocke Stadium, ready to face the eighth and FINAL Gym Leader to win her last badge! This was the ultimate test of her skills as a trainer. She'd managed to win the other Gyms so could she win this one? Many challengers had fallen at the might of Raihan's killer combos of Pokémon, especially his famous Duraludon. Only a select few had ever managed to beat him and progress beyond the Gym Challenge. Ruby hoped she would be one of them.
Raihan on the other hand looked casual, somehow looking relaxed despite being in a crowded stadium with lots of people watching him. He was black and dressed casually in his Gym uniform that consisted of a dark blue and orange hoodie with a hood that had a toothy design to it, making it look as if his head was coming out of a dragon's mouth. He had blue shorts that were a lighter blue than his hoodie but still a dark shade with orange stripes and his official number of 241 on the left leg. He wore trainers with matching colours to his hoodie. Ruby found it hard to stop admiring the man's rather toned legs, his calf muscles proudly on display thanks to his shorts. Of all the Gym Leaders, Ruby always thought Raihan was the most attractive of them, although she knew full well he was too old for her. It still felt sensational that she was actually here about to face him right now. Raihan had his usual friendly smile on his handsome face, looking more like an old friend that had come around for a bit of fun and games than her opponent in a Pokémon battle.
"And so our rising star is here at last!" he said jovially. He had the kind of voice that couldn't help sounding friendly and welcoming, "You know, I've been waiting for someone to battle. Some of the challengers that take part in this circuit don't always make it to me. The fact that I'll be facing one of Leon's endorsed trainers will make this a fun battle."
"I've been looking forward to challenging you, Raihan." Ruby said, even though she was still nervous about the upcoming battle, "I've always enjoyed watching your battles with Leon on TV. You and him have the best battles!"
"Well me and Leon are the best trainers, though I hope to one day surpass him." Raihan said smoothly, "For now, I'm content to give you your final Gym Battle of the circuit. I hope we can have a good, clean battle between us with no dirty tactics or cheating at all. I like my battles to be fair."
"You won't get any cheating from me." Ruby insisted, "Good, clean battles are what I do."
"Awesome! Then let's begin!" Raihan said cheerfully, "I must warn you, as Leon's greatest rival, I ain't gonna be easy to overcome. I'm a master of weather manipulation and double battles! I hope to see your amazing skills in battle today Ruby for I've really been keen to see you in action!" he added, clear enthusiasm in his voice.
"I hope I live up to your expectations." Ruby said modestly.
The two trainers took up their positions as the announcer introduced them to the crowd.
"From Postwick Town: Ruby Silverlock. Her opponent: Gym Leader Raihan." the announcer introduced.
The crowd cheered for both trainers, ecstatic to see them in action together.
"Pokémon Trainers: Standby." the announcer said again.
Ruby and Raihan waited for the signal to go. The audience fell silent, holding their breath for the start of the battle. Ruby felt a bead of sweat snake down her forehead but she ignored it. She didn't want to show signs of weakness by wiping her head. How was she standing her near-quaking in her shoes while Raihan somehow looked as if he was on a casual day out? Maybe being a Gym Leader with such a high reputation for being powerful made it easy to relax and keep your cool before a battle.
"Three…two…one…BEGIN!" the announcer cried.
"Let's get this party started, my friend!" Raihan said coolly, "Flygon and Gigalith, you two can get the dragon fires burning!"
He threw two Ultra Balls and summoned forth his chosen duo for the first battle. Ruby was impressed to see him start off with such a strong pair. Both Flygon and Gigalith were powerful Pokémon on their own so together, they would be a very strong team.
Flygon was a Dragon/Ground type Pokémon originating from the Hoenn region. It was mostly green in colour with red linings around its rhombus-shaped wings and red eyes. It heavily resembled an antlion in appearance, giving it a somewhat bug-like appearance although it had no such typing despite it. It had long antennae pointing back on its head and had a long tail with three rhombus shapes at the tip. In the wild, their wings made a "singing" sound when they flapped, earning Flygon the nickname of "The Desert Spirit". Ruby thought Flygon looked very cool and wished she'd caught one of her own.
Gigalith was the final form of Roggenrola, looking like a much bigger version of Boldore with four legs instead of three and an actual head atop its body with a pair of eyes, a mouth and orange spikes on it. Ruby looked at Gigalith with awe, wishing that Matilda the Boldore could've reached this stage but it was another Pokémon that only evolved through trading and she hadn't found anyone to trade Matilda with to trigger the evolution. Still, she knew which two Pokémon she would pick to face Flygon and Gigalith.
"Great choices Raihan." Ruby complimented, "I have some too. Go Raven and Gene!"
Raihan watched with interest as Ruby summoned her faithful Obstagoon and Haunter to the field. Raven and Gene stood together, awaiting Ruby's commands. He gave a smile of excitement.
"Those are some good choices! I like it!" he complimented, "This battle's gonna start off huge!"
"Just what I was aiming for." Ruby confirmed.
She was about to give the first command but before anything could happen, a sandstorm suddenly began to build up and start blowing over the stadium. Ruby yelped and narrowed her eyes, her hair blowing in the storm as the sand whipped up around her. Raihan somehow didn't even flinch.
"Hey, what's happening?" Ruby cried.
"Sand Stream. It's my Gigalith's ability." Raihan confirmed, "He can whip up a Sandstorm just by being in battle. As I say, I like to use the weather to my advantage in my battles."
"This will make things more interesting." Ruby mused, "OK Gene, use Seed Bomb on Gigalith and Raven, use Dazzling Gleam on Flygon!"
"Flygon, use Crunch on Haunter and Gigalith, use Rock Blast on Obstagoon!" Raihan ordered.
All four Pokémon reacted at once, launching their attacks. Gene was the quickest Pokémon the field so he landed his blow first, launching explosive seeds at Gigalith as if he was in the army and throwing grenades at the enemy. He hadn't used the attack in a while so it felt good to have a use for it again. The Seed Bombs hit Gigalith hard, eating away at its health and making it roar in pain. Gene had also managed to score a Critical Hit as he did so, doing more damage than he would've done normally. While he hadn't quite managed to knock out Gigalith, he'd done plenty of damage already and Gigalith was down to low health. It wouldn't last any longer in the battle.
Its teammate was luckier, getting to land its attack on Raven first. It crunched Raven, the dark energy of the attack sapping away her health to the point it was nearly gone. But Raven wasn't down yet. She'd just managed to hang on enough to launch her attack.
"Azarath…Metrion…ZINTHOS!" Raven yelled, firing the Dazzling Gleam attack at Flygon.
The pink beam of dazzling energy hit her opponent, making it writhe in pain as the fairy magic contained struck it hard. The attack did some damage to Flygon, but not enough to bring it down in one hit. If Raven had been a Gengar, it would've been a different story. Ruby was still satisfied with how this was going so far though. Both her Pokémon had landed big hits already and done the damage. Raven had taken a big hit herself but she was still in the fight, which was good for her.
Gigalith was the last Pokémon to launch an attack, firing its Rock Blast at Gene but missing completely as Gene dodged the blows. He stuck his tongue out tauntingly at the Rock Pokémon.
"Oooh, too slow!" he jeered.
Raihan grinned with approval.
"You're starting well, Ruby!" he complimented, "You've got my team in a jam already and we're just starting!"
"I did say I have some good picks to start off." Ruby said brightly, trying to put up with the sandstorm as it continued to blow.
The sandstorm inflicted tiny bits of damage onto Raven and Gene, an effect of the weather condition that only worked on Pokémon that weren't Rock or Ground types. It was a common tactic of Raihan in battles to use weather conditions to his advantage and give his Pokémon an edge. Ruby was determined to show that a sandstorm wouldn't make a difference for him and she'd still win.
"OK Gene, use Seed Bomb on Gigalith again!" Ruby ordered, "Raven, come here a minute so I can heal you up."
Raven obeyed, retreating over to Ruby so she could get a potion to cure her from Flygon's earlier attack. Gene stayed on the field, launching more explosive seeds at Gigalith. That was all he needed for the Grass type attack did the final damage and finished it off. The mighty Rock Pokémon fell down on its stomach as its legs buckled beneath it. It groaned softly, completely unable to battle after that attack. The crowd was astonished. They hadn't expected Raihan to lose a Pokémon so soon. Gene flexed his muscles, feeling very proud of himself.
"Oh yeah, the Obstagoon master wins again! Whoop!" he cried.
"Gigalith is unable to battle, Obstagoon is the winner!" the announcer declared.
"Wow, good attack Ruby! You took my Gigalith out already!" Raihan cried, returning the defeated Gigalith to its ball, "You're definitely as good as the others say you are!"
"Thank you!" Ruby said as she sprayed Raven with a Max Potion to heal her up. It felt good to be receiving this compliment from the strongest Gym Leader in Galar.
After a couple of sprays, Raven was back into action, completely healed up from earlier and ready to fight again. She waved her hands, ready to launch another Dazzling Gleam attack at Flygon. Ruby gave the command and Raihan ordered Flygon to use Crunch at the same time. Unfortunately for Raven, Flygon was faster and it landed its attack, clamping its jaws on the Ghostly Pokémon and the dark energy of Crunch sapping away her newly healed strength. Unlike the first time however, Flygon managed to score a lucky critical hit, doing extra damage to Raven and taking her out in a single hit. Ruby watched with astonishment as her Ghost/Poison Pokémon fell to the floor, unable to fight on anymore. Raven had been such a powerful member of the team and it was unbelievable to watch her lose a fight for a change. Thankfully, Raven didn't seem to have been in too much pain as she went down and fell into unconsciousness.
"Haunter is unable to battle, Flygon is the winner!" the announcer declared.
Raihan's fans cheered, glad to see that this fight wasn't going to be a total walkover and that Ruby would have more of a challenge. Ruby returned Raven to her ball, smiling softly at it.
"Thank you Raven, for everything. I hope you recover well." she said kindly.
"You should be proud of your Haunter." Raihan said softly, "She stood up well to my Flygon and managed to land a good hit before she went down. Your Pokémon must be well trained to take hits as well as they do."
"Thanks Raihan." Ruby said appreciatively, "Now then, it's time I bring my own Dragon to this den of yours. Soundwave, you're up next!" she yelled, throwing her next Pokéball.
"Sandaconda, you're filling in for Gigalith!" Raihan cried, throwing his next Ultra Ball.
Gene smiled happily as Soundwave the Noivern came onto the field to fill in for Raven. He'd definitely been given another very strong partner to fight alongside. Over on Raihan's side, Flygon was now paired up with the Ground-type Sandaconda, the evolved form of Silicobra, the Pokémon Ruby had seen on her way to Stow-on-Side. She remembered how Hop had a Silicobra and wondered if he'd evolved his into a Sandaconda too. Sandaconda was a big snake-like Pokémon with a huge, brown neck pouch and a tan body that was coiled up like a spring. It had a special ability in which it could whip up a sandstorm if it was attacked. Of course, there was already a sandstorm thanks to Gigalith so it wouldn't need to. Sandaconda hissed with anticipation while Soundwave flexed his wings. He was glad to have a chance to show off his new evolved form in battle already.
"OK guys, let's make this quick." Ruby declared, "Soundwave, use Dragon Pulse on Flygon and Gene, use Seed Bomb on Sandaconda!"
Both Pokémon obeyed and launched their attacks at the same time. Soundwave opened his mouth and unleashed a draconic energy pulse that launched towards Flygon as if fired from a gun. Dragon Pulse was one of the strongest Dragon attacks a Pokémon could learn and with Flygon already at low health, it was a goner. Flygon winced as it was stricken by the Dragon Pulse, knocked down to the ground and sent skidding towards his trainer. Sandaconda was hit by Gene's Seed Bomb at the same time, wincing from each attack it received but the attack wasn't quite strong enough to make this a one-hit KO. It still did plenty of damage, enough to make it so one more would easily defeat it on the next turn. Sandaconda shook its head, trying to regain its bearings while Flygon lay at Raihan's feet, unable to continue fighting. Soundwave roared in triumph.
"Soundwave: Superior. Flygon: Inferior!" he purred.
"Flygon is unable to battle, Noivern is the winner!" the announcer barked.
The audience was very impressed with what they'd seen. The challenger had taken out two of Raihan's Pokémon already! It had been a while since anyone had put up such a good fight against the Dragon Gym Leader. Even Raihan was impressed with Ruby's skills as a trainer and was feeling pumped up himself. Man, only Leon had ever given him a fight THIS exciting! Ruby was something else altogether! He returned Flygon and grinned eagerly.
"Man, you're giving me a great fight!" he cried, "I haven't had this much fun since the last time me and Leon fight! You're definitely our rising star for a reason!"
"Oh please, you're making me blush…" Ruby mumbled, her face going red.
"I almost don't want this fight to end, it's so enjoyable!" Raihan cried, "But now it's time for my ace in the hole. I bet you know what's coming given you've seen my fights on TV. Duraludon, show Ruby why you're the Dragon King of this arena!" he cried.
He threw the ball and out came the Pokémon Ruby had been dreading to battle. The audience whooped with excitement and cheered loudly as they were greeted by the familiar, metallic screeches of Raihan's best Pokémon, the mighty Duraludon. It was a Steel/Dragon type Pokémon, the only other Pokémon of its kind aside from the legendary Dialga of the Sinnoh region. Its body was coated in tough steel that glinted in the lights. It was tough, but also lightweight so Duraludon was able to move quite quickly. It had large, clumpy feet, a large chunky tail, small arms with triangular indents on its hands and a thick neck with a small head integrated into it. As many liked to say, it looked like a sentient tower of some kind. Duraludon looked very awesome to Ruby and she was both nervous and excited to have the chance to fight it.
"Just what I was preparing for." Ruby said grimly, "This is the part where things get REALLY intense now. Soundwave, return!"
Soundwave was brought back into his Pokéball and Ruby switched it out for another one. She knew Soundwave would be at a huge disadvantage against another Dragon type and Duraludon's half-Steel typing completely removed the Dragon-type weakness to other Dragon types so Soundwave wouldn't be able to land any super-effective blows. Duraludon only had a weakness to Fighting and Ground types and luckily for Ruby, she already had one Pokémon on the field with a Fighting move and she had another Pokémon that had a Ground move. She was confident that she could beat Duraludon.
"OK Vesuvius, you can substitute for Soundwave!" Ruby yelled, summoning her beloved Coalossal into battle.
Vesuvius materialized beside Gene and the Obstagoon grinned excitedly. Once again, he had a powerful partner by his side. With him and Vesuvius working together, they would win this match!
"Ready to battle, Vesuvius?" Gene asked.
"Always!" Vesuvius cried, bashing her hands together, "This is an interesting experience I must say. I've never done double-battles before."
"Hope you enjoy the experience then, cause I am!" Gene said optimistically.
Ruby smiled, glad to see her Pokémon working together and enjoying the experience of fighting together. She was enjoying this too. Why couldn't Pokémon battles always be double-battles? They were so much fun!
"Gene, use Seed Bomb on Sandaconda!" Ruby ordered, "May as well take it out while it's weak and then both you and Vesuvius can handle Duraludon! Vesuvius, standby while I Dynamax you."
Vesuvius stayed where she was while Gene executed Ruby's order. He launched another Seed Bomb attack at Sandaconda while Ruby and Raihan Dynamaxed their other Pokémon. The audience barely noticed as Gene finished Sandaconda off, their attention focused primarily on Vesuvius and Duraludon as they Dynamaxed. Both trainers held out their Pokéball and their Dynamax bands activated, making the balls grow as the energy was absorbed into them. Ruby's hair glowed once more as Dynamax energy swirled around her hand and into Vesuvius's Pokéball. Raihan watched, startled by what he was seeing. So the whole "glowing hair" thing was true about Ruby. How did she get such an ability? He focused back on his own Pokéball as it finished growing. As usual, he paused for a moment to pose for his Rotom phone as it hovered in front of him to take his picture. Raihan always liked to take selfies whenever he was Dynamaxing his Pokémon. The pictures often got a lot of hits online, although to his annoyance, the pictures of battles he lost tended to get the most hits and a lot of mocking from unsympathetic people. Once his selfie was taken, he threw the giant Pokéball and his Duraludon began to Gigantamax. Vesuvius merely grew larger in size, now proper looking like a volcano about to erupt with how big she was, whereas Duraludon began to change as it grew bigger as a result of Gigantamaxing.
People already said Duraludon looked like a sentient skyscraper. Its Gigantamaxed form just reinforced that description. It now looked as if somebody had taken The Shard from London and given it limbs, a head and a tail. Its neck was much taller with window-like details, its head had a spire on top and its abdomen had a massive glass plate, all details that added to its skyscraper like appearance. Ruby had seen this form enough times to memorize it and seeing this incredible Gigantamax form in person was a sight to behold. How could something so bizarre looking be such a potent Pokémon? Ruby could feel her heart pounding. This was the moment of truth, the moment where she would truly be put to the test! Gigantamax Duraludon was on the field and looking as imposing as ever. Now she would get to see if she could fight it.
"Hope you're prepared for Duraludon's true strength and power!" Raihan cried enthusiastically, "Now my friend, use Max Knuckle on Obstagoon!"
Duraludon obeyed, waving its stubby arms and conjuring up a giant energy construct in the shape of a fist. Max Knuckle was the Fighting type Dynamax move and was known to be a hard hitting attack that few could withstand. It also had a side-effect of raising the user's Attack on occasion. Duraludon finished forming the Max Knuckle attack and launched it straight at Ruby's Obstagoon. Gene screamed in terror as this giant fist came hurling towards him. He had to imagine how terrifying it must be for any other Pokémon that was fighting a Dynamaxed Pokémon at normal size. The Max Knuckle slammed into him, knocking him down and taking out a good chunk of his health. But surprisingly enough…Gene wasn't down yet! He was clearly hurt but otherwise still in the battle. The audience was impressed. That was one plucky Obstagoon to take a Max Knuckle and still be in the fight! Raihan whistled.
"Wow, that is one tough Pokémon!" he gasped.
"Are you alright, Gene?" Vesuvius asked.
"Ungh…I'm still in the game!" Gene grunted, "Surprisingly. I thought that was gonna be my first ever defeat then! How the heck did I survive that?"
"Obstagoon have good defences." Ruby explained, "Lucky for us. Now come back a minute so I can heal you up. I have another potion on me."
She whipped out a Max Potion, ready to heal Gene. But the Obstagoon held up a paw, shaking his head.
"No, don't bother." he insisted, "If me and Vesuvius can hit it together, we'll be able to take Duraludon out before it can attack again. You won't need to heal me."
"Are you sure?" Ruby asked uncertainly, "It's a big risk…I still think I should heal you up anyway."
But Gene was adamant. He didn't want to take the potion. He was confident that they could end the fight before Duraludon could be a threat. He didn't budge and awaited Ruby's command. Raihan made the first move.
"Use Max Knuckle on Obstagoon again!" he cried.
"Gene, use Brick Break and Vesuvius, use Max Quake!" Ruby ordered quickly.
She hoped that her Pokémon would be able to move fast enough to land their blows before Duraludon did. Unfortunately, it wasn't the case. Gene was slower to react due to the damage done by Max Knuckle earlier so Duraludon was able to land its blow first. Gene was hit by the attack and taken out instantly, collapsing onto his back with a dazed look in his eyes. Vesuvius successfully landed her attack at least, a massive earthquake ripping up across the stadium floor and slamming into Duraludon so hard that it almost fell over. Due to its skyscraper like appearance, it really did look like a building that was about to tumble over from an earthquake. The audience could feel their seats shaking as the Max Quake hit Duraludon. Duraludon may have only taken one attack, but it still did a lot of damage to it. Ruby was relieved to see that Vesuvius had the power to land a meaningful hit on Duraludon. She was still sad to see that Gene had lost the fight and would have to be swapped out. If only he'd listened to her! It was like Houdini all over again.
"Obstagoon is unable to battle, Duraludon is the winner!" the announcer declared.
"Hey Ruby, that Obstagoon of yours was one tough fighter." Raihan complimented, "I'm sorry it disobeyed you like that and didn't take your potion. I didn't want Duraludon to win like that."
"It's OK Raihan." Ruby said softly, "Sometimes, Pokémon can be quite stubborn, I'm sure you know. I still couldn't be prouder of Gene. He's been such a great Pokémon for me and has won me lots of fights in my journey."
She returned Gene to his Pokéball and smiled kindly at him.
"Rest well Gene." she said affectionately, "And don't worry, we'll win this fight for you and Raven."
She drew out a fourth Pokéball and threw it.
"Go on Bugs, you and Vesuvius can end this together!" she yelled.
Bugs materialized onto the battlefield and very quickly found himself intimidated by the sizes of both his teammate and opponent. He was glad that Vesuvius was Dynamaxed so at least he had a huge partner beside him but the thought of taking on Duraludon in its Gigantamaxed state made him nervous.
"Oh brudder! It's like I'm in da land of giants!" Bugs exclaimed.
"At least you've got me to handle Duraludon." Vesuvius said reassuringly, "Together Bugs, me and you should be able to wrap this match up!"
"I hope so." Ruby said nervously, "Bugs, you start off with Double Kick and then Vesuvius, you use Max Quake!"
Bugs refused to be intimidated by his opponent anymore. As much as it scared him to even go near a gigantic opponent like a Gigantamaxed Duraludon, he was going to do Ruby proud and win the battle for her! Vesuvius waited for Bugs to carry out his attack so she wouldn't accidentally hurt him with her Max Quake. Bugs sprinted towards Duraludon and landed two powerful kicks to its abdomen. It was like trying to kick a tower over for him and although it was super-effective and did some damage, it wasn't a strong enough attack to do serious damage. If anything, he may have just softened it up a little for Vesuvius to land the finishing blow. He landed back on his spot and Vesuvius was about to launch a Max Quake attack. But unfortunately, she was too slow and Duraludon was able to launch the next attack before her. Raihan ordered it to use Max Rockfall on Bugs. As Vesuvius's attack was building up, Duraludon summoned a huge slab of rock that grew up from the ground and then he knocked it over, sending it falling down on top of Bugs. It really was like watching a cartoon character get flattened by something heavy as the huge rock landed on him. Seconds after Bugs was hit, Vesuvius launched her Max Quake. The powerful attack tore through the floor and struck Duraludon with enough force to launch it in the air. Bugs's Double Kick had done enough damage for the Max Quake to finish Duraludon off. Its health went down to zero and the Dynamax energy in it completely vanished, returning the Alloy Pokémon to its original size and appearance. Both Bugs and Duraludon lay on their backs, both wiped out by the attacks they'd received. Raihan stared incredulously at his defeated Duraludon while Ruby ran over to Bugs. She hated seeing any of her Pokémon lose but Bugs was a bigger deal than any of them as he was her first and she hoped he was alright.
"Bugs! Bugs! Are you OK?" Ruby asked, lifting his head up and looking him over.
Despite being defeated by Duraludon, Bugs managed to open his eyes again and smile weakly at Ruby.
"Me? Oh yeah, I'm fine. Are you OK?" he asked.
"I am now I know you are!" Ruby said with relief, "It's sad that you lost, but you managed to help Vesuvius defeat Raihan's Duraludon! I couldn't be prouder of you Bugs! Thank you!"
"Yeah, that Cinderace of yours really showed that he's not afraid to bring the fight to giant opponents." Raihan applauded, "Well done to you and all your Pokémon! That was a fantastic Gym battle! Probably the best I've had in ages!"
Ruby smiled bashfully.
"Duraludon is unable to battle! Coalossal is the winner!" the electronic announcer's voice boomed, "The winner of the Dragon Gym Challenge is Ruby Silverlock of Postwick Town! She has completed the Gym Challenge and now progresses to the semi-finals over at Wyndon Stadium!"
The audience erupted into ecstatic cheers of glee. What an amazing match this had been! Not only had they seen a great Gym battle, they'd seen one of the Gym Challengers complete the Gym circuit and win a place in the semi-finals! Everyone in the stadium felt lucky to have witnessed this fight today. It was a special occasion to watch Gym Challengers win the last Gym. As everyone cheered, Ruby and Raihan returned all their Pokémon and they met in the centre of the arena. They shook hands together.
"That was an epic match Ruby." Raihan acknowledged, "You've more than earned a place in the semi-finals. As Leon's rival, I may have gotten overconfident in myself and my team in recent years. At least you've shown up here to humble me today. I hope we can fight again someday Ruby. For now, here's your Dragon Badge. You've earned it."
He handed Ruby her final Gym Badge, a gold metal piece with a dark blue dragon symbol in the centre. Ruby took out her other Gym Badges and slotted them all together to make a complete piece, every badge fitting together perfectly like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Ruby admired them with wide eyes of awe. She'd actually done it! She'd won all eight Gym Badges! How beautiful they all looked together in her hands as a whole piece! She couldn't wait to show them all to her family.
"I never thought this day would come…oh Raihan, I've never been so happy!" Ruby cried, her eyes brimming with happy tears, "This is amazing!"
"Many other challengers feel just the same, mate." Raihan said softly, "You make your way over to the station and get the first train you can to Wyndon City. Oh, and I hope your Pokémon have a steady recovery too." he added, "They all really pulled their weight out there."
"Thank you Raihan." Ruby said graciously, "And thank you for an amazing battle. I hope to see you at Wyndon if I make it to the finals!"
She and Raihan fist-bumped and then Ruby left Hammerlocke Stadium to take Bugs, Gene and Raven to the Pokémon Centre to get healed up. Hopefully she wouldn't have to leave them behind as it would feel horrible having to finish her journey to becoming Champion without them…
While the news wasn't exactly what Ruby had hoped for, it was much better than what she had feared. Upon arriving at the Pokémon Centre, Ruby had handed Gene, Raven and Bugs over to Nurse Joy so she could get them healed up. She was left waiting for an hour or so before Nurse Joy came back with the news.
"You'll be happy to know that your Pokémon are back on their feet and doing very well." the nurse said brightly, "Their injuries aren't too serious and they're free to go back with you. But for now, I must insist that they at least have a few days rest and recuperation before they have another Pokémon battle." she added, "They still have some injuries to recover from so while they're well enough to stay with you, they're not quite well enough to fight again. I hope that's not too disappointing for you."
Ruby was a little disappointed that she wouldn't be able to bring three of her closest Pokémon to battles in the semi-finals and beyond with her. Fighting without them wouldn't feel the same, especially Bugs. Bugs had been with her since her journey had started. But she was otherwise satisfied with the news. At least she didn't have to leave them behind and come back for them, they could still travel with her. Ruby liked to imagine that Bugs, Gene and Raven could sit in the audience at Wyndon and watch her battle, cheering for her all the way. It would be a shame they couldn't battle with her, but at least they could be there to support her in her climb towards Leon. That was better than nothing.
"Thank you very much, Nurse Joy." Ruby said politely, "I'd be happy to take them back with me. It sucks they have to have a break from fighting but I'm just glad they can leave the centre and stay with me."
"That's really sweet." Nurse Joy said brightly, "You can go through and collect them now." she offered.
Ruby thanked the nurse again and walked through into the patient's room to meet up with her recovering Pokémon. She saw all three of them laying in their own beds with some bandages around them. Bugs had bandages around his arms and thighs and Gene had bandages around his lower arms. Raven had nothing on her, which made sense as how would one manage to bandage up a Ghost Pokémon anyway? The three otherwise looked fit and healthy and like they could leave their beds. Ruby could see now why the nurse was OK with her taking them back for now. They didn't need to stay here.
"Hi guys." Ruby said with a smile, "How do you all feel?"
"I ache a lot. Probably for da best that I stay outta battles fer now." Bugs muttered, "But I'm fine at least."
"I feel like I'll be my old self again in a day or two." Gene replied, "I'm amazed, honestly. I thought I'd take much bigger punishment than that from two Max Knuckles! We Obstagoons sure are hardy!"
"I feel fine too." Raven mumbled, "I'm glad that I don't have to sit in a hospital bed like our other friends. It'd feel pretty lonely if I couldn't stay with you, Ruby." she added, a genuine tone of affection in her voice for her trainer.
"Aww, you really mean that?" Ruby said, awed by her Pokémon's love for her, "Aww Raven, that's really sweet of you!"
Raven gave a small smile in return. She may not be the most affectionate or loving of Pokémon, but she meant what she'd said. Being Ruby's Pokémon had really given her a friendship like none she'd had before.
"So guys, I'm told you need some R&R for now so sadly, I can't use you in any Pokémon battles between now and then." Ruby said sadly, "I really wish I could've at least gone into battle with Leon with you three beside me. It's gonna feel strange without you…especially you Bugs." she added, patting his head tenderly, "You've been my first Pokémon and have been with me since the beginning. I'd have loved it if you could've been there for the end too."
"I do too, doc." Bugs said sadly, "But at least ya don't have ta do it without me, or without Gene and Raven. We'll still be with ya, and maybe we'll get ta watch ya compete in the semi-finals and, if ya win them, the finals too. We'll be supportin' ya from now until the end!"
"Yeah!" Gene cried, punching the air excitedly, "We're with ya no matter what!"
The three Pokémon all gathered around Ruby for a group hug. Ruby embraced them all as they hugged her in return, feeling the warmth and love they all had for her. She couldn't have caught some better Pokémon and was forever proud to be their trainer.
"I love you guys so much!" Ruby said joyfully, "You're all wonderful Pokémon and I'm glad I could be your trainer!"
"Tanks Ruby, and we couldn't be more proud ta be yer Pokémon." Bugs said kindly.
With the news given and the loving scene now over, Ruby returned the three to their Pokéball and headed on out of the Pokémon Centre. Despite what Raihan had said, she wasn't ready to go to Wyndon just yet. She fancied a little break in the Wild Area first and then she'd take the train to Wyndon. The semi-finals wouldn't take place until the end of the week so she had plenty of time. She would take a moment to reflect on her journey, have a quiet rest of the day to herself and maybe some playtime with her Pokémon before going to Wyndon. Once there, she'd be ready for whoever she was going to face in the semi-finals. She had a feeling Hop and Marnie might be among them. All Ruby knew was that the first chapter of her journey was over and the next one was opening up. Whether she would go onto become the next champion or not, she would find out soon enough…
Pokemon lost: Raven the Haunter. Lasted: Level 15 - Level 51. Location of incident: Hammerlocke Stadium. Cause of defeat: Beaten by Raihan's Flygon
Gene the Obstagoon. Lasted: Level 11 - Level 51. Location of incident: Hammerlocke Stadium. Cause of defeat: Beaten by Raihan's Duraludon
Bugs the Cinderace. Lasted: Level 5 - Level 51. Location of incident: Hammerlocke Stadium. Cause of defeat: Beaten by Raihan's Duraludon
Loss Count: 9