Knights of Galar: A Pokémon Shield Nuzlocke Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Rival Encounter


Despite enjoying getting to see Motostoke City and its large stadium, Ruby found herself enjoying getting to leave it behind in favour of the peaceful countryside once more as she entered Route 3. The quietness of the countryside felt welcome to her after the overwhelming noise and energy of Motostoke Stadium during the opening ceremony. And also, Ruby preferred the smell of fresh air that one could only get in the countryside.


Upon entering Route 3, Ruby knew that there would be some new Pokémon to catch and thus, was keeping her senses alert for anything lurking in the tall grasses. She had no idea what Pokémon lived on this Route so she could come across anything at this point. But what she was most excited about was getting through this Route, the Galar Mine and the next Route so she could get to Turffield and challenge the first gym. Just the thought of having her first Gym battle was enough to make her stomach tingle with joy. And of course, her father would be there in his flower shop waiting to greet her, that too was something worth looking forward to upon arriving.


I hope he won't mind that I'm here right now partaking in a career he himself left behind… she thought.


She was then dragged out of her thoughts as a black-and-white Pokémon suddenly jumped out of the grass and looked up at her. Ruby yelped in surprise and observed the Pokémon that had jumped out in front of her. To her surprise, it was a Pokémon she'd only just recently battled. It was a Galarian Zigzagoon, just like the one that she'd fought when taking on Team Yell yesterday! Of all the coincidences that could happen, this was not something Ruby would've anticipated. The Zigzagoon turned its head side to side, studying this invader to its territory and wondering whether it should attack or not. Ruby had already made her mind up.


"This could be my chance to use a Pokémon the right way, unlike those Team Yell twerps I fought yesterday." she mused, "That and Zigzagoon can be pretty awesome when it evolves into Obstagoon. I'd love to have one on the team."


She drew out one of her Pokéballs.


"Here's a chance to have an actual battle now you have an actual attack to use." Ruby said softly, "Go Ariel!"


She threw the ball and out came Ariel the Magikarp. The giant red koi looked surprised to be summoned for a fight but quickly shook it off as she saw what her opponent was. Ariel narrowed her eyes at the Zigzagoon, the Dark/Normal type Pokémon arching its back as it prepared to fight.


"Oh my…I guess this is it. I get a chance to prove myself at last." Ariel said, "I hope I won't let you down Ruby."


"Don't put so much pressure on yourself Ariel." Ruby said reassuringly, "We're not trying to beat it. I want to catch the Zigzagoon so I need you to weaken it enough for capture."


"That shouldn't be too hard." Ariel said brightly, "A few Tackles should do it."


"It will." Ruby said, sounding very sure of herself, "Ariel, Tackle the Zigzagoon!"


The water-type Pokémon obeyed and launched herself at the black-and-white raccoon Pokémon. The Zigzagoon was too startled by the sudden action of this giant koi Pokémon launching itself at him that Ariel hit it square on and knocked it back. All Pokémon knew how useless Magikarp were so it was a surprise to this Zigzagoon that this Magikarp was actually able to attack it. The Zigzagoon shook itself off and growled.


"Whoa, I sure didn't expect that thing could actually fight!" it exclaimed in a clearly male voice, "Well then, I'll just have to show you how mean a fighter I am too!"


The Zigzagoon retaliated by tackling Ariel back, hitting her so hard that she flew backwards and landed at Ruby's feet. But Ariel took the hit, the training she'd received having made her a little more resilient than most Magikarps so a mere Tackle wouldn't do much. Ariel tackled in return, knocking the Zigzagoon back but he withstood the hit and retaliated with a Lick attack. Lick was a Ghost-type move that could paralyze opponents. Ariel didn't get paralyzed as the Zigzagoon licked her but she otherwise shuddered in disgust as her opponent's tongue dragged over her. She forced herself not to gag as Ruby commanded her to Tackle again. She hit the Zigzagoon in the mouth, deliberately aiming there to pay him back for licking her. The Zigzagoon rubbed his mouth better before unleashing another attack. It was a Dark-type move called Snarl, a damaging move that lowered Special Attack by one stage. The Zigzagoon made a loud, vicious snarling noise but did nothing as Ariel was able to dodge the attack. Snarl was a move with not-so-perfect accuracy so it was easy to avoid it at times. After avoiding the attack, Ariel countered with another Tackle attack. The Zigzagoon was knocked down and he tried to get up, visibly straining as he did so. This had to mean the Pokémon was weak enough to catch. Ruby drew out an empty Pokéball and took aim.


"OK, here goes…" she murmured.


The silver-haired teen threw the ball and upon contact, the Zigzagoon was turned into energy and absorbed into the ball. The ball closed and Ruby watched with baited breath as it shook a few times. A tense second or two passed before the ball went "Ping!" and it stood still. Ruby punched the air excitedly while Ariel bounced up and down for joy.


"YES! I caught the Zigzagoon!" Ruby cheered.


"And I held my own well in that fight!" Ariel cried, "I've proven that Magikarp aren't so useless after all!"


"You sure have Ariel." Ruby said approvingly.


She picked up the Pokéball and allowed herself a precious moment to let it sink in that she now had a brand new Pokémon to add to the team, and this one wasn't over-levelled like three of the Pokémon she caught in the Wild Area so she could use it now. Then she opened the Pokéball and let the freshly caught Zigzagoon out so she could make its acquaintance. The Zigzagoon shook its head and looked up at Ruby.


"Man, I wasn't expecting to get caught by a trainer anytime soon." he said in wonder, "I thought I'd be a free Pokémon for the rest of my life. Ah well, you beat me and caught me fair and square so no use getting sore over it. What's your name?"


"I'm Ruby Silverlock." Ruby introduced, "I hope my Magikarp didn't hurt you too much during that battle."


"Nah, it's fine, sweetheart." the Zigzagoon said casually, "To be honest, I'm glad you fought me as I'd wanted to have a battle for a while now. Just didn't think it'd end the way it did…"


"As long as you're fine with being my Pokémon, I'm happy about that." Ruby said brightly, "Now then, what shall I call you?"


She put a finger to her lips in thought.


"Hmm…your black-and-white colours and face markings kinda remind me of the band members of KISS…" she mused thoughtfully.


She snapped her fingers as an idea struck her.


"I've got it!" she cried, "How's about I call you Gene?"


The Zigzagoon mulled this over.


"Gene…not too shabby." he admitted, "It kinda suits me I reckon. Very well, Gene I shall be. So what are you gonna do now you've caught me?"


"I was on my way to the first gym." Ruby explained, "I'm taking part in the Gym Challenge and the first gym is just on the other side of the old mine up ahead."


"Whoa, you're taking part in the Gym Challenge?!" Gene exclaimed excitedly, "Awesome! I've always wanted to challenge an actual Pokémon gym! I thought they'd be a great test of my powers! But I always worried I wouldn't be strong enough to beat a gym. With you training me, I can get stronger and achieve my dream!"


"Good thing I caught you then!" Ruby giggled, "Let's get going so we can get to the gym and win our first badge!"


She returned Gene and Ariel and set off towards the Galar Mine to resume her journey to Turffield. Little did she realize was that in that mine, her first battle wasn't going to be with the Turffield Gym Leader…

__________________________________________________________________________________


After defeating a few trainers on the way through Route 3 and giving Gene a chance to train up a little, Ruby eventually made it to the Galar Mine.


The Galar Mine was old, very old in fact. It had once been a popular location for digging up coal during the olden days but now, it was used by Chairman Rose's company to mine ore to convert into energy for the region. Ruby had even seen a building with two large chimney stacks belching out smoke on her way through Route 3. That building was where the ore was taken to be converted into energy. The leather-clad teen could scarcely imagine what it felt like to work in there and how the conversion process went from ore to energy. She could see why Chairman Rose had little time outside of his work as she imagined it must be pretty time consuming to carry out the sort of thing the Macro Cosmos company did to keep Galar running smoothly with its energy provisions.


Upon entering the mine, Ruby was taken aback by how surprisingly beautiful it was inside. Her mental image of an old mine had been just dark, dull caves with nothing to see. Instead, she found the walls were covered in bright gems that sparkled in the light of the lamps placed all around the mine to make it easy for workers and Pokémon trainers to see their way through. She never would've expected a simple mine to look so colourful. She saw a few Carkoals rushing by on the tracks and a few workers mining ore to take to the nearby factory. Some Pokémon were wandering around minding their own business or helping the workers.


"I never thought I'd be in a position where I'm saying a flippin' MINE looks beautiful…" Ruby said in wonder, "Just look at all those gems! Whoever digs these out of the walls must make a fortune!"


She even found herself tempted to get a Pokémon out and have it dig one of these gems out the wall for herself and maybe get some for her mum and sisters. But she ultimately chose not to. There might be a rule against taking these gems and taking them would just take away something beautiful about the mine. It was best to leave them where they were.


Having decided to leave the gems alone, Ruby continued her way through the mine. On her trek, she made another Pokémon encounter as she accidentally tripped over what she thought was a rock at first. She landed flat on her face and grunted.


"Oof, should've watched where I was going!" she muttered, "There's always going to be a rock to fall over in a mine!"


"Who are you calling a rock, silver-head?" the "rock" retorted.


Ruby gasped in alarm and turned around to see that the "rock" she'd tripped over was actually alive! It had gotten up and was waddling about on two little legs and looking at her sharply! Of course, Ruby quickly figured out that it was not a rock but in fact another species of Pokémon. Commonly found in the Unova region, Roggenrola were also found in the Galar region and liked to hang out in places such as caves or rocky terrain. Roggenrola were small, rock-like Pokémon that looked like a walking rock basically. A curious fact about them was that they had a yellow circular centre with a hole in the middle and many people who saw Roggenrola thought that was its eye. It was in fact the Pokémon's ear. Ruby picked herself up and dusted herself down.


"I'm so sorry for tripping over you like that!" she cried frantically, "I didn't know that you was a Pokémon and I didn't watch where I was going!"


"No worries, hon. I get that all the time." the Roggenrola said casually, speaking in a surprisingly deep voice for a female Pokémon, "People can easily mistake us for rocks given we pretty much look like walking rocks to them."


"Well I'm glad you're OK with that." Ruby said, relieved it wasn't mad, "You know, I'm actually a new Pokémon trainer making my way to the first gym. If you'd like to, you can come with me. I could do with a rock-type on my team."


The Roggenrola wasted no time thinking this over. If anything, she looked ecstatic to receive such an offer.


"You're a trainer?! And you'd like to add me to your team?!" she exclaimed, "Hell yeah, I accept! I've always wanted to get out of this dusty old mine and explore the world and participate in battles with other Pokémon! You have no idea how dull it is in this place! Coming with you will make things more exciting!"


Ruby beamed, happy that the Roggenrola wanted to come.


"As weird as it may sound, I bet you're glad you tripped me up now." she giggled.


"Yeah, when you word it like that, it does sound weird." the Roggenrola agreed.


"Nevertheless, welcome to the team, Matilda!" Ruby said happily, picking the rock-type Pokémon up and holding her up to her eye-level.


"And you're even giving me a cool nickname too, that's even better!" the Roggenrola cried, "I've always liked the name Matilda. It just sounds tough, you know?"


"A tough name for a tough Pokémon, what's not to like?" Ruby chuckled.


"Yeah!" Matilda agreed, "Though if I'm gonna be joining you, just a quick warning: I'm a very sore loser when it comes to battles. I hate losing! It's so humiliating and degrading when it happens! So forgive me if I get…over-emotional if I lose a battle, OK?"


"I understand. Not all people or Pokémon are graceful losers." Ruby acknowledged, "But I'm sure you'll never lose while you're with me."


And so with another Pokémon in her team, Ruby made her way further into the mine. It made her feel good to have a full team of six Pokémon on her person, making her ready for just about anyone. With these six plus the three Pokémon she'd boxed for being too high a level to use for now, Ruby was off to a great start as trainer. With nine Pokémon to choose from, it'd be easy to prepare for whatever trainer or gym battles she'd be up against.


The rest of her trip through the mine involved some more Pokémon training with wild encounters and trainer battles. During this, Matilda had gotten to show her strength and was able to learn a useful new move once Ruby had found a TM containing Rock Blast for her. Rock Blast was a multi-attacking move in which Pokémon could launch up to five rocks at a time at the opponent. Gene had also learned Pin Missile, another multi-attacking move in which he could fire multiple needles at the opponent. It was also a Bug-type move, which would be very useful against Psychic types or other Dark type Pokémon. Ruby would come to learn that Gene had a strange habit of picking things up whenever he went anywhere for no real reason with some items being useful like a Potion or a spare Pokéball but others being useless like random rocks or even pieces of trash. He was holding another rock and seemed convinced that it was a valuable treasure of some kind.


"This thing is like, really sparkly! I bet we could make a lot of money from this!" Gene said excitedly.


"It's another rock Gene, it has no value." Ruby muttered, "Now please stop picking things up all the time!"


"Can't help it, it's my ability." Gene replied, "Gotta learn to live with it."


Ruby rolled her eyes but said nothing more. As she and her Pokémon made their way to the end of the mine, they came across one last trainer that stood there looking thoughtful as if wondering whether to leave the mine or stay put. The exit to the mine was just ahead of him with the welcoming sight of daylight peeking in. Ruby stood there in astonishment, staring at the trainer as it suddenly dawned on her. She'd seen this person before! The pink and purple coat and the silver hair were hard to miss. It was the jerky boy she'd seen at Motostoke Stadium yesterday and at the opening ceremony! Ruby was in no mood to bother with him so she hoped to creep past him without him seeing her. But then suddenly, her hair started to glow again, giving her away instantly. That confused Ruby. Why would her hair be glowing? There was no Dynamax energy in this mine! Unless there were Wishing Stars around this particular part. The boy noticed Ruby's hair glowing in the corner of his eye and spun around, spotting her and frowning.


"Who are you and…why is your hair glowing like that?" he asked, his voice blunt and low-pitched.


"Never you mind." Ruby said tersely, hoping to get past him before a confrontation could start, "I was just on my way out of this mine so if you'll kindly step aside and forget you ever saw me, I won't trouble you and you can go about your day."


The boy refused to move.


"Oh I'd advise against coming this way." he said coldly, "Any trainer who has a Wishing Star is in for a beating from me and my Pokémon!"


"Look, I'm trying to be nice here and avoid an unnecessary fight so please don't be a jerk and let me through." Ruby said tightly, "I'm not in the mood to deal with any jerks today."


"Well sorry to disappoint." the boy muttered, "You're not going anywhere without a battle, and you're especially not leaving until you tell me why your hair is glowing like that."


"Like I said, none of your Beedrill's wax!" Ruby retorted, coming closer to the boy, "Who the hell do you think you are, thinking you can boss me around like this?"


"I'm Bede, and I'm a Gym Challenger who has the most impressive endorsement of all you challengers." the boy answered, "I'm beginning to recall you now…you and the champion's brother were there at the ceremony, weren't you? I believe the Chairman said your name was Ruby Silverlock or something…it doesn't matter."


Ruby was livid to hear this. How could anyone, especially a boy of his age talk to people like this? What made him so superior to everyone that he could be so dismissive as to think people's names didn't matter?!


"You and the champion's brother were endorsed by Leon himself, right?" Bede continued, brushing his hair aside, "What a joke. I was endorsed by the chairman himself. I was chosen by him, which makes me the best Pokémon trainer to ever roam the Galar region!"


"You've been endorsed by a guy who runs a company and has likely never owned a single Pokémon in his life." Ruby retorted, "How can you boast about being endorsed by the Chairman as if that makes you superior to all of us?"


"Because he's the most important man in all of Galar and thus, superior to all of you! That in turn makes an endorsement from him a sign that I am the greatest trainer!" Bede boasted, "I'm going to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt how pathetic you are and how strong I am!"


"I'd say the pathetic one is you if you feel the need to gloat so much." Ruby sneered, "Isn't that usually a sign of a lack of self-confidence?"


Bede frowned. He would not take this insult lying down! He would show this stuck-up twerp what for!


"I don't need confidence to prove how strong I am." he said darkly, "Now time for me to put you in your place. Solosis, warp your enemies!"


He took out a Great Ball, a blue, red and white Pokéball that had a higher chance of catching strong Pokémon than other Pokéballs, and threw it. Out of the ball came the Psychic-type Pokémon, Solosis, another species native to the Unova region. Solosis was a very unusual looking Pokémon, a green, round shaped thing surrounded by a darker green, gel-like substance that allowed it to live under any conditions. It had round eyes and a diamond-shaped mouth. Ruby screwed her face up at the sight of it. Solosis was always one of the more ugly looking Pokémon to her and she could never understand why anyone would use one. Luckily for her, she knew what type it was.


"A Psychic-type, eh? I've got the perfect counter." Ruby crowed, "Gene, it's up to you!"


Gene the Zigzagoon scampered forward and took his position, ready to fight the Solosis. He grinned confidently, certain he would win this fight easily.


"You might wanna quit while you're ahead. I'm like soooooo gonna whup you, boy." Gene gloated.


Bede and his Solosis refused to move. Gene just shrugged.


"OK, just don't blame me if you get utterly humiliated." he sneered.


"He sure will as we're the strong ones around here." Ruby declared, "Gene, use Snarl on Solosis!"


Gene obeyed and snarled at the blob-encased Pokémon before him. The noise Gene made was terrible and the Solosis cringed in anguish. The snarling sound tore through the Pokémon as if it were an axe through wood and Solosis felt like its strength was being sapped away the longer the noise continued. Once Gene had finished snarling, the Solosis floated where it was for a second before suddenly collapsing onto the ground and laying still. Bede was aghast, his eyes widening with disbelief.


"W-what…it…it went down in one hit?!" he cried, "B-but…how?!"


"Clearly you're not as strong as you think you are." Ruby retorted, "Are you gonna sod off then or do you want to get your arse kicked some more?"


"That was just a warm-up." Bede protested, trying to save face, "You'll not win this next battle! Hatenna, warp your enemies!"


He threw his next Great Ball and out came his first ever Pokémon he owned, the Psychic-type Hatenna. Hatenna were native to the Galar region and were hard Pokémon to get on with for if trainers didn't have a calm disposition, they wouldn't warm up to them. Its evolutions were even known to silence people violently if they displayed too extreme an emotion. Hatenna was a small, pink Pokémon with only feet and no arms and had long blue hair that seemed to act as arms for it. It had a long hat like protrusion on its head, which explained where its name came from. Hatenna prepared to fight, waiting for her master's orders. Ruby studied her opponent and made no effort to switch Pokémon.


"Another Psychic-type. You're sure getting to prove yourself Gene." Ruby said.


"As long as it means I'm strong enough to fight the Pokémon gyms, I'm happy!" Gene said eagerly.


"Let's wrap this one up quickly. Gene, use Pin Missile!" Ruby ordered.


Gene obeyed and lowered his head as his fur stood up on end and a giant pin-shaped object shot up into the air and struck its target full on. The Hatenna cried out from the impact but Gene didn't stop there. He fired another Pin Missile, and then another, and then another and then finally a fifth one before his attack finally ceased. The maximum amount of hits Pin Missile could have was five and surprisingly, he'd hit the Psychic Pokémon all five times. Even Ruby was surprised that he'd pulled it off. The Hatenna hung dopily in the air, dazed from all the Pin Missiles before it collapsed onto the ground, unable to battle. Bede stared incredulously at Hatenna, and then at Ruby and Gene.


"Another one-hit KO?! What even ARE you?!" Bede cried in amazement.


"A really good trainer, unlike you." Ruby snorted.


"I'll wipe that smile off your face!" Bede growled, "Gothita, warp your enemies!"


He threw another Great Ball and out came the Psychic-type Pokémon, Gothita, another Unovan species that could be found in Galar. Gothita was a black-and-white Pokémon with a purple face, blue eyes and three feelers, two on its head and one on its neck, that resembled bow-ties. With its black-and-white appearance, it very much looked like the Pokémon personification of a Goth, hence its name, and was quite popular with the Goth crowd for that reason. Ruby stared at Bede, an unimpressed stare on her face as she realized what this meant.


"Really Bede? Really?! You have THREE Psychic type Pokémon on you?" she said, unable to believe what she was saying, "You call yourself a great Pokémon trainer and yet so far, the only Pokémon you've used are PSYCHIC types?! You must think you're a bloody Gym Leader with such a shallow selection of Pokémon, except even they have more variety in comparison to you!"


"Shut up! Psychic Pokémon are the greatest, that's why I use them!" Bede retorted.


"You're not going to get anywhere with just psychic types. You need a variety of types in your team. That's how trainers get good and become Pokémon masters." Ruby said, refusing to shut up, "But it's clear you're too much of a big-head to see that."


"Yeah, let's finish this so I can have an actual challenge afterwards!" Gene cried eagerly.


"Use Pin Missile again!" Ruby ordered.


Gene launched another Pin Missile attack at Gothita. To Ruby's astonishment, he managed to duplicate his performance against Hatenna minutes ago. Gothita was pelted by Pin Missiles, each one landing more heavily than the last and it was unable to take the hits. After all five Pin Missiles landed, Gothita staggered backwards and collapsed onto its back, utterly annihilated by its opponent. Bede was outraged by this loss, returning Gothita angrily. He shook his fists.


"This is impossible!" he growled, "How did you do it?! You pulled off a clean-sweep without taking a single hit from me! You can't possibly be this good!"


He then lashed out and grabbed Ruby by the jacket, pinning her to the wall and getting up in her face. Ruby squirmed, outraged he'd dared to grab her like this. Gene growled viciously as if he was a loyal dog protecting his master, warning Bede that if he didn't stop now, he would seriously bite him hard.


"Oy, get off me!" Ruby snapped.


"I'll bet it's your weird, glowing hair that's done it." Bede declared, "What's your secret? Does your hair have some kind of power that makes you a really powerful trainer? I bet that's exactly it! You couldn't possibly have beaten me without cheating!"


"I said GET OFF ME!" Ruby snarled.


She then drove her knee straight up into Bede's groin. The silver-haired boy's eyes bulged as the worst pain he'd ever felt in his life shot up through his bladder to his stomach and his legs felt weak. He let go of Ruby and collapsed onto his side, clutching his groin in agony. Tears of pain streamed down his cheeks. All he could do was lay there and will the pain to go away. Ruby straightened her jacket and walked away from Bede, refusing to even look at him anymore after he'd violated her personal space and pinned her to the wall like that.


"My hair has nothing to do with how strong I am." she explained, "Believe whatever you want, but it's the truth. If you really must know, all it does is glow whenever I'm near Dynamax energy. I imagine this mine is full of Wishing Stars or something. But that's all it does, it just glows. It doesn't make me powerful. I did that on my own, but like you'll understand because you're a pathetic piece of Mudsdale crap who's got his head so far up his own arse, you're convinced you're the greatest thing ever all because Chairman Rose endorsed you for the Gym Challenge! He'd be so ashamed of you if he saw the way you just treated me. Maybe he should reconsider who he endorses in the future…"


She returned Gene and walked out of the mine, refusing to spend a minute longer with Bede. The silver-haired boy didn't move, his groin hurting too much from when Ruby had kneed him. As he waited for the pain to ease, he took in what Ruby had said with interest. So her hair glowed whenever she was near Wishing Stars? He had gathered up as many as he could find in the mine and stuffed them in his bag as a favour for the Chairman, unknown to Ruby. If her hair glowed when she was near Wishing Stars…


Bede forced a smile to his face in spite of how much pain he was in. Yes…that impudent girl could be of use to him and the Chairman. If he could get his hands on her, they could use her to locate more Wishing Stars and her glowing hair would make their job so much easier! Oh yes, that would teach her to mess with him! He couldn't wait to tell the Chairman this interesting news…

__________________________________________________________________________________


As soon as Ruby had exited the Galar Mine, she had decided to sit on a rock and take a moment to calm down as she was still shaking with nerves over what had happened. Her heart was pounding but was gradually beginning to slow as she took a few breaths to cool off from the encounter. It still disgusted her that Bede thought he could just manhandle her like that. Who the hell raised him to be the impudent little brat he was?! As she tried to ease her nerves, her Pokémon all came out of their Pokéballs. No matter the Pokémon, all Pokémon had the ability to leave their Pokéballs if they wished to do so and didn't always need permission from the trainers to leave their balls. All six of them could sense Ruby's discomfort and wanted to help her cool off the best they could. Bugs, Ariel, Chomps, Raven, Gene and Matilda gathered around as Ruby smiled at them.


"Thanks for coming out guys. I really need you all at this moment." she said tenderly.


"We could sense something was wrong we decided ta come out and see what it was." Bugs explained, "What happened? Ya seem awfully tense."


Gene quickly filled them in on what had happened.


"What a sore loser." Raven said, rolling her eyes, "He loses fair and square and he accuses Ruby of cheating. Typical of stuck-up boys like him."


"If I ever see that jerk, I'm gonna bite him so hard that his butt will fall off!" Chomps declared hotly, "Nobody manhandles my trainer like that!"


"At least you're alright and you got away from him before he could hurt you." Ariel said softly.


"You have to admit it was funny that she kicked him in the tender spot." Matilda giggled, "He's just lucky I wasn't out so I could Rock Blast him there!"


"I think if you did that Matilda, you'd have killed him stone dead, pardon the pun." Ruby giggled, "It doesn't matter what he's doing now. I gave him what he deserved and hopefully it'll take a while for him to recover. I'm just praying to Arceus himself that I never see him again."


"I hope to see him again…just so I can Pin Missile him to death!" Gene declared, "Oh and I picked up a nice big rock if you wanna throw it at him." he added, showing Ruby a rock he'd picked up earlier.


Ruby instead decided to use it for stress relief, taking the rock from Gene and throwing it as hard as she could. The rock disappeared into a nearby pond, making a soft splash as it landed.


"Thanks, that felt good." she said.


"Welcome." Gene replied, "If you don't mind me asking, what's with the glowing hair anyway? I know you said to Bede why it glows like that, but how does it do it in the first place? Do humans have mystical powers like we do?"


"Hold on there, zig-zag, her hair glows?" Matilda asked curiously, "As in, like a light?"


"Yes." Ruby confirmed, "When I'm near Wishing Stars or the energy they generate in Dynamax Dens, my hair just glows and we don't know why. I've given the professor a lock of it to try and find out why but I haven't had any updates yet. It must be taking a while to get the results."


Bugs, Chomps, Ariel and Raven had no reaction as they already knew this with Bugs having seen it for himself and the others being told about it afterwards. Gene and Matilda looked at each other with curiosity.


"I knew life outside the mine was going to be more interesting, but I couldn't have anticipated just HOW interesting it'd get…" the walking rock murmured.


"I guess the world has as much mystery to it as this random bottle of trash somebody left behind." Gene said thoughtfully, gazing at the piece of rubbish he'd picked up.


"I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out you're, like, half-Pokémon or something." Raven said cryptically.


"Whatever the reason is, it doesn't matter." Ruby insisted, "I'm not gonna waste my Pokémon journey pondering about it. Turffield's just through this route so let's get to it!"


She returned her Pokémon and set off towards Route 4. Route 4 was a pathway that linked the Galar Mine to Turffield and had paddocks of yellow grass with short stone walls around them. Several species of Pokémon lives among the grasses, including Galarian variants of Meowth, the Ghostly Pumpkaboo and the always popular Kantonian Pokémon, Pikachu. But Ruby's next Pokémon encounter came in the form of a different Electric type Pokémon than Pikachu. As she headed through Route 4, a green shape jumped over one of the fences and blocked her path. Ruby recoiled, taken completely by surprise. Upon closer inspection, she could see that this Pokémon was a species indigenous to the Hoenn Region, the feisty Electrike.


Electrike were green Pokémon with lightning bolt symbols on their sides and they very closely resembled dogs. Electrike were known to be aggressive Pokémon and this one was no different. Its heckles were raised and the canine-like Pokémon growled viciously. Ruby held her hands up defensively.


"Whoa, whoa. Easy there little Electrike. I don't mean any harm." she said nervously.


"Who are you and what are you doing in my territory?" the Electrike growled.


This Electrike was female, but that did nothing to make it look less intimidating.


"I'm just a trainer passing by. I only wish to go to the next gym, honest!" Ruby said frantically.


That made the Electrike relax a little. Her face changed and she lowered her aggressive behaviour.


"Oh…do excuse me. I didn't mean to be so on edge." she said, "I get a little defensive of my territory, y'know? Comes with being an Electrike and all."


"I get that. Lots of Pokémon are territorial." Ruby said understandingly, "So if you don't mind, I'll be on my way now."


"Not so fast, trainer." the Electrike said, refusing to move, "You're heading to the first gym, right? So you're not just any trainer, you're also a Gym Challenger. If it's OK with you then…could I come with you?"


That surprised Ruby as she hadn't expected the Electrike to ask anything like that.


"Come with me? I'm all for new Pokémon to join me but why do you want to do so?" she asked inquisitively.


"Simple: I LOVE to fight!" the Electrike explained, jumping up and down, "I'm a fighter at heart and I love to have a good knock-out brawl! It gets my blood pumping and everything! So if I go with you, a Pokémon trainer, I'll get to have as many battles as I want! Please let me come, I'd love to have battles with trained Pokémon like the ones in the gyms!"


Ruby almost wanted to laugh. Just her luck isn't it to come across two Pokémon at once that actually wanted to come with trainers! She was glad that the Electrike wanted to come with her too as she'd wanted an Electric-type Pokémon to use for the upcoming Water Gym after the first one. She'd have preferred a Pikachu herself as she liked them and their evolved form, Raichu, but Electrikes would do just as nicely.


"I'd be happy to have you on the team." Ruby said, patting the Electrike on the head, "Welcome to the team, Sparkles!"


"Was that seriously the best nickname you could give me?" the Electrike snickered.


"Sometimes the most obvious nicknames can work the best." Ruby chuckled, "Anyway, I'll have to send you to my Pokémon Box as I already have six Pokémon on me right now. I can't take you with me at the moment."


"Well as long as I get to fight at all, I'm fine with that." Sparkles said, "I hope you'll use me in the Water Gym!"


"Of course I will! You'll be great in a gym like that!" Ruby laughed.


She took out a Pokéball and Sparkles willingly allowed herself to be absorbed into the device. Once that was done, Ruby got out her Pokémon Box Link and uses it to teleport Sparkles to her box until she would be needed. Once that was done, she continued making her way towards Turffield. She hoped her father was still at his flower shop when she arrived.

__________________________________________________________________________________


"…so despite my loss to Ruby Silverlock and her assaulting me, I managed to get all the Wishing Stars I could find in the mine." Bede finished explaining.


After Ruby had left the Galar Mine, Bede had managed to recover from her shot to the tenders, although it still hurt to walk slightly so he had found somewhere to sit down in order to take his call. He was on the phone to the very man that had endorsed him and had explained everything that had happened, though naturally he'd twisted the story to make it sound like Ruby had attacked him unprovoked. To his annoyance, Chairman Rose sounded like he didn't believe that part of the story, even though he'd worded it in a way that should sound believable.


"Right…anyway, I'm glad to hear you're doing well on finding the Wishing Stars." Rose's voice replied to him on the other side, "I knew I'd made the right choice in endorsing you, my boy. With your help, Project: Eternatus will be able to commence within a few days."


"Thank you, Mr. Rose." Bede replied.


"I am rather fascinated in what you've told me about Miss Silverlock." the Chairman added, "I always thought her hair was unusual but I never expected her to be a living Wishing Star detector. You're right to bring this to my attention, it's most interesting."


"If you want, next time I see her, I'll bring her to you so we can use her to find more Wishing Stars." Bede said.


"Absolutely not!" Chairman Rose said sternly, "I will not condone kidnapping under any circumstances! Do you have any idea how serious the consequences would be for us if we did so? And I'll remind you, I'm a man with many lines I shan't cross Bede, and child abduction is certainly one of them. You will carry out no such action towards Miss Silverlock."


"But Chairman…"


"And that's my final word on the matter." came the firm reply, "It'll be better for us to keep an eye on where she goes and look for Wishing Stars whenever her hair detects any. That way, we're not doing anything illegal for Project: Eternatus."


Bede could see his endorser's logic. Why kidnap Ruby and force her to work for them when instead, they could exploit her strange ability by just observing her from a distance and moving in when she'd gone? It'd save Ruby alerting the authorities and bringing the police on them. This was a better way of using her.


"You're a very wise man sir. I like that." Bede said, "Personally, I'd love to see her kicked out of the competition for assaulting a trainer but if we keep her in, she'll be of use to us."


"You're beginning to understand how I think Bede." Rose said approvingly, "Thanks again for your help and for bringing this news to me. You may go about your day and make your way to the first gym. Just make sure to keep a distance from Miss Silverlock from now on. I'd hate for you two to have another fight…the non-Pokémon kind I mean."


"Understood. I'll inform you once we find any more Wishing Stars." Bede said.


He hung up and pocketed his Rotom Phone, leaving Chairman Rose to his work. He smiled to himself, feeling much better about his situation with that in mind. How great it felt to think that Ruby would unwillingly play into his hands! She thought she was so strong and such a great trainer, yet she'd be helping him and the Chairman bring about Project: Eternatus! He could just imagine the look on her face when he tells her that she'd done so. It'd serve her right for causing him so much pain and embarrassment!


He got up again, the pain in his tender spot significantly lessened by how good he felt now and walked out of the mine. He'd defeat the first Gym, then make his way to the second one and travel through the second mine on his way to the third Gym to find more Wishing Stars. He was certain that there was plenty to find throughout the Galar Region…

__________________________________________________________________________________


Meanwhile, Ruby had finally made it to Turffield. Turffield was a small little town with a population of 36 and was known for its many terraced farming fields and of course, its local gym which was the first gym all Gym Challengers went to before any other. Turffield Stadium was a huge, circular building that sat proudly in the centre of the town, any building nearby looking pretty insignificant by comparison. If the stadium was a person, it would be like those kinds of people that felt the need to stand out from the crowd and look visually impressive and stunning to onlookers. It was the first building to catch anyone's eye upon visiting, even non-Pokémon trainers. Turffield was a pretty town to visit but the stadium was always the most striking feature about it. Ruby took in the stadium with awe, her eyes wide as it dawned on her just how far she'd come in such a short amount of time. She was here, right now about to take her first steps towards what would be her first ever Gym battle! She could feel her legs wobbling from a mixture of nerves and excitement. Had it seriously only been a couple of days ago since she'd met Champion Leon and received her first Pokémon in preparation for her journey which had led her here? That day suddenly seemed miles away to Ruby, but it really hadn't been that long. Brushing a strand of hair out of her face, Ruby breathed in the fresh air and set off towards the stadium.


"And here I am, just minutes away from my first Gym battle!" she said, her voice soft and full of whimsy, "But first, a couple of stops before I make my way over."


Her first stop was naturally the local Pokémon Centre so she could have her Pokémon healed up in time for the gym and buy some more items to use in battle. Thankfully, this didn't take long and Ruby quickly made her way over to the next stop, which was the very place she'd been looking forward to visiting since her journey had begun.


There, standing near the stadium, was the local flower shop just as it always had done whenever her family had gone to visit. The shop itself had that Old English architecture to it and seemed out of place in an otherwise modern world, but didn't look ugly to anyone visiting as it was a quaint reminder of what the Old Galar once looked like and a fine example of how classic architecture would always withstand the test of time. A man stood outside the shop sweeping so he could tidy the place up for another day of selling flowers. The man was black like Sapphire was and quite handsome with his chiselled features, broad shoulders and strong, agile frame. He had the appearance of an athlete rather than a florist and gave the impression of anyone who met him that he could run for miles without getting tired. Yet he had a soft twinkle in his eyes that suggested he could be anyone's friend and hard to get on the bad side of. He whistled as he swept outside the shop. Ruby knew exactly who this man was and made no attempt to hide the fact she was coming.


"DAD!" she squealed excitedly, charging towards him like an over-excited Rhyhorn.


The man turned at the sound of Ruby's voice and barely had time to react as the teenager practically threw herself into his arms and nearly tackled him to the ground. His surprise turned to laughter as he embraced her and spun her around, earning a giggle from Ruby.


"Ooh, ha, ha, ha! If it isn't my big girl, Ruby!" he chuckled heartily, "Your mother told me to expect you to arrive here at some point!"


"Oooh I'm so glad to see you! It's been ages since we last saw you!" Ruby cried, still hugging him as if determined never to let him go.


"I know. Far too long I'd say." her father said warmly, "Now you stand still a minute and let me look my dear daughter over."


Ruby let go of her father and stood still as he placed his hands on her shoulders and ran his eyes over her. It was as if he was trying to figure out what was different about her, if anything at all. He then patted her shoulders and gave another one of his loving smiles that she loved to see from him. It was the kind of smile that only a loving father could sport, a smile that told his children that he was always proud of them no matter what.


"You've grown so much Ruby." her father acknowledged, "Look at you, all grown up and starting off as a Pokémon trainer, and now you're about to begin the first stage of the Gym Challenge! Flippin' heck, I remember when I was your age…"


He looked up at the clouds thoughtfully as if he could somehow relive his childhood through them.


"Yes, I was once in your position Ruby, wide-eyed, excitable and ready to begin my big Pokémon adventure." he continued, a wave of nostalgia sweeping over him as he thought back to those carefree days as a trainer, "I remember the first time I arrived here as if it was yesterday. Standing outside that stadium…" he glanced over to Turffield Stadium, "…it was the most incredible feeling I'd ever felt. I almost didn't believe I was actually there, about to take on the Gym Leader! The fact I beat him on my first try was incredible too."


"I bet you chose to work here in Turffield so you could remain close to the stadium." Ruby said, "Every time you go to work, you can just look at the stadium and remember how awesome it was to be there on your journey."


Her father nodded, confirming her belief.


"You got it, Ruby." he said, "And now you're here, about to partake in the very thing I did back in my youth. I always knew you'd grow up to follow in my footsteps."


He patted Ruby's head affectionately.


"And yet, you've already achieved more than I ever did. Your mother tells me you're endorsed by the champion himself!" the brunette man exclaimed, "Even I never got that when I was a trainer! Leon must think you're something really special to earn that."


"Well me and Hop did impress him when he asked us to have a battle for him." Ruby said modestly, thinking back to her second fight with Hop at Professor Magnolia's house.


"Well Champion endorsement or not, you know you and your sisters are always special to me." her dad said kindly.


"Thank you dad, that means a lot to me." Ruby said graciously, hugging him a second time.


"Don't mention it sweetheart." the florist said.


However, his face suddenly turned as he began his next sentence. It struck Ruby as eerie that he was able to suddenly go from warm and friendly to suddenly looking grey and serious as his face fell.


"However…I feel it fair to warn you that being a Pokémon trainer isn't all fun and games." he said grimly, "I speak from past experiences of course. You do remember what I've told you before, don't you?"


"That you quit being a trainer because you lost so many Pokémon and you couldn't bear it anymore? Yes, I remember." Ruby recounted, "I was telling my Pokémon why you stopped being a trainer the other day."


"That's good you remembered." her dad said, "I may have loved being a trainer, but in the end it wasn't worth losing all those Pokémon that fought tooth and nail for me. I lost so many…including my first…my poor Raichu…"


He paused to stop himself from crying as painful memories started flooding back to him. He took a deep breath and swallowed, trying to regain himself.


"The most I want to say is that I fully support your wanting to be a trainer Ruby. I'd never deny you that option." he continued, "But just be prepared for the heartaches that may come with it. I hope you'll be a greater trainer than I ever was, one that can avoid losing any Pokémon on their journey. Or at the very least, you'll cope with the losses better than I did and never let it bring you down."


"I'll do my best dad, and I'll make you proud!" Ruby declared, "I'll be a great trainer like you were and become Galar's next champion! I won't let you or my family down!"


"Aww Ruby, don't talk like that." her father said tenderly, "You could never let me down."


Ruby was so touched by her father's words that she ended up shedding a few tears of joy. She embraced him for the third time since running into him. Her dad hugged her back and allowed her a moment to let out all her emotions. Once Ruby had finished crying, he stood up and plucked a red rose from the flowers on display at his shop. He handed it to her.


"Here, take this into the stadium." he said, winking, "A ruby red rose for my ruby red girl. You know that trainers that buy my flowers are guaranteed to win."


"I knew you'd say that." Ruby giggled, tucking the rose into her hair, "How much is it?"


"Never mind that, it's free." her dad said, "So, just before you go, what kind of Pokémon do you have so far?"


Ruby and her father spent the next hour just talking about Pokémon, how life was going for them and their family back home and what Ruby was planning to do when she made her way to the next gym. The one thing Ruby didn't talk about was the strange feature her hair had as she didn't want him to worry about it and didn't think it was necessary to bring up. Once they'd finished talking, Ruby set off to the gym and her father went back into his shop to get back to work. It was going to be the start of eight tough, challenging battles from Gym Leader to Gym Leader for Ruby. But she was certain that she would win this one without any trouble. With so many counters for Milo's Grass types, how could she lose…?

__________________________________________________________________________________


Pokemon obtained: Gene the Zigzagoon: Gender: Male. Nature: Quirky. Ability: Pickup (it picks up random items as you walk around)


Matilda the Roggenrola: Gender: Female. Nature: Lax. Ability: Sturdy (it cannot be one-hit KO'd) She hates to lose.


Sparkles the Electrike: Gender: Female. Nature: Calm. Ability: Static (it may paralyze opponents that make physical contact with it) She likes to fight.

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