Knights of Galar: A Pokémon Shield Nuzlocke Chapter 7

Updated: Mar 23

Chapter 7: The First Gym


Ruby was ready to enter Turffield Stadium and take part in her first Gym battle. After visiting her father, she had perched herself on a wall nearby and got out her Pokémon Box Link device as she pondered over which Pokémon to take into Turffield Stadium with her. It was a Grass type Gym so she needed counters for them. Grass types were notorious for having many weaknesses and Ruby had at least three of them she could exploit. In the end, she kept Bugs and Gene in her team while swapping a few others for Houdini and Hawk Moth. She kept Ariel with her so the Magikarp could earn some EXP from her teammate's battles and get them stronger. She was very close to becoming a Gyarados so it was worth going the extra mile a bit. With a Fire type, a Dark/Normal type with a Bug type attack, a Flying type and a pure Bug type, Ruby knew for a fact she had this gym in the bag. She would have to actively TRY to lose this one!


Satisfied with her choices, Ruby put the device back in her backpack and was about to head towards the gym when something caught her eye. It looked like a random speck of orange to her but as Ruby turned to see what it was, she instantly recognized what she was actually looking at. Standing atop a slope with her attention fixed on something ahead was none other than Sonia. That was interesting. What was the lab assistant doing in a quaint little town like this? She thought Sonia was meant to be looking into the strange Pokémon in the woods. Maybe she was seeing if anything in this town could tell her anything. Ruby checked the time on her Rotom phone. It was mid-noon. There was still time left to face the gym so she had a moment to spare.


Ruby ran over to Sonia. The ginger woman was standing atop a slope with a fenced off area with some drinking fountains, a few benches and a photograph board with pictures of a Stonjourner and a Skwovet with their faces missing so people could put their own faces through for photographs around her. She was staring intently at a massive geoglyph that was proudly displayed on a hillside nearby. The geoglyph was a rather interesting piece of art, depicting a swirly cloud of some kind with lightning bolts coming from it, a giant figure and several smaller figures at its feet. Ruby had seen it before, naturally, from visiting her dad's flower shop but Sonia seemed entranced by it, like it was holding some long buried secret she wanted to uncover.


"Hey Sonia!" Ruby called to her.


Sonia spun on her heels and gasped in pleasant surprise.


"Oh, hi Ruby!" she said cheerfully, "Goodness, you startled me! So, you're here in Turffield already? Before you know it, you'll be on your way to Hammerlocke to face the last gym!"


"Yeah, I don't think I'll get there THAT quickly." Ruby joked, "I was just about to go into the stadium but I saw you and wanted to see what's up. How's your research going?"


"Slowly, but I'm sure I'll get there." Sonia said determinedly, "I was taking an interest in this town's historic landmark over there."


She motioned over to the geoglyph.


"I bet you've seen it before, haven't you?" she asked.


"All the time." Ruby replied, "I've come here plenty of times to visit my dad. He works at the flower shop over there." she added, pointing.


"My, what a coincidence! Your dad works at the local flower shop?" Sonia said brightly, "If it's OK, I might have to drop by and say hello. But I digress. What do you think to that geoglyph?"


Ruby looked at it again, taking in the huge figure and the swirly cloud that was depicted in the image. She'd never thought much to it before, only glancing at it occasionally and never really asking about it. Looking at it again, it dawned on the teen that it might be depicting an important event in Galar's history. It had to have come from somewhere after all.


"It kinda looks like it's about the Darkest Day." Ruby thought, "That cloud could be the dark cloud that eclipsed everything and gave off the Dynamax energy that made the Pokémon Dynamax back then."


Sonia smiled approvingly at her observant the young trainer was.


"Very perceptive of you! Good points!" she said brightly, "I noticed especially that the portion depicting the black storm has mostly disappeared. Looking at the geoglyph has given me a lot to ponder over. What was the black storm we called the Darkest Day and what connection does it have to Dynamaxing?"


Ruby nodded, feeling the same way as her. Those were some good questions and probably ones she might've asked herself if she'd had any interest in the Darkest Day itself. While a fascinating story, her interest was Pokémon rather than history so she never thought much to it. But maybe this story was more fascinating than she thought…


"Bet you feel privileged to have a task like that on your hands." Ruby said, hoping she didn't sound rude in what she said.


"You bet I do, little Ruby." Sonia concurred, "Gran suggested I do something with my life and researching about this thing is sure keeping me busy. If anything, I'm all up for the challenge. It feels like I'm actually…doing something big, you know?"


Ruby agreed. What bigger task could one put on themselves then looking into Galar's ancient history and looking into a mysterious Pokémon in the Slumbering Weald? If that wasn't doing something with your life, what was?! She patted Ruby on the shoulder and gave her a friendly smile.


"Thanks for giving your thoughts on the matter. I appreciate it." Sonia said sweetly, "Now don't let me hold you up anymore, you've got a gym battle to do. Get over there and battle yourself silly!"


"I'm not sure if that's the thing to say to a trainer before a battle but thanks anyway." Ruby chuckled, "Bye Sonia. See you again soon!"


She waved goodbye as she quickly legged it back over to the stadium while Sonia looked one last time over at the geoglyph. She fingered a lock of her hair as her brain spun with more questions to ponder the answer to.


"What caused the Darkest Day…and does it have anything to do with that mystery Pokémon Ruby and Hop encountered?" she wondered.


All she knew was that her research was far from done. The lab assistant was determined to find all the answers, even if she had to dig up the earth itself to find them…

__________________________________________________________________________________


As Ruby made her way back to Turffield Stadium, she saw that she was going to be the next challenger after a previous one for the doors to the stadium opened up and out walked Hop, looking very pleased with himself. It wasn't surprising to see Hop had gotten to the gym first given he was always running ahead but Ruby was glad to see him looking happy. It was a clear sign that things had gone well. She ran over to him eagerly, catching Hop's attention.


"Hop! Great to see you mate! How'd it go?" she said happily.


"Perfectly." Hop answered, "Take a look Ruby! The Grass Gym Badge! I got it in one try!"


He showed Ruby a golden piece with a grass-type symbol in it. The Gym Badges in Galar were all differently shaped metal pieces that could all fit together to make one big badge. Ruby looked at the badge with interest, surprised at how shiny the Gym badges actually were.


"That's awesome Hop! I knew you'd be a strong trainer and hold your own well in battle!" Ruby congratulated.


"Not to brag or anything…" Hop said modestly, "I'm sure you can win this one too. You've already beat me three times so if I can win this badge, so can you! Hope to see you at the next gym very soon!"


Now he'd won his Gym Battle, Hop had no reason to stay in Turffield anymore. He scampered off to make his way over Hulbury so he could challenge the next gym. Given he'd started off with a Grass-type starter, Hop was confident that Nessa would be as much of a breeze as Milo was. Ruby watched him leave before entering Turffield Stadium to have her Gym battle. The first of many big moments for her was finally here and she could barely contain herself.


Ruby spent a few minutes getting signed in and changing into her Gym Uniform before entering the battlefield. It still felt weird to be wearing something like this as Ruby felt she should be getting ready to play football in an outfit like this rather than Pokémon battles. She still smiled whenever she saw her number of 864 on her shorts and the back of her shirt. Having the birthdates of herself and her sisters on her uniform made it almost feel like the whole family was about to battle, not just her. As she admired herself in the mirror, Ruby breathed slowly and spoke to herself.


"This is it. Your first ever Gym battle. Let's make it a good first impression." she said to herself.


The silver-haired girl took a quick selfie and sent it to her mother in a text, writing: "I'm in Turffield Stadium about to have my first gym battle! Tell my sisters this plz! XXX" before leaving the changing rooms and making her way through reception and into the stadium itself. She found herself in a large room with a grassy meadow stretching out from the entrance to the exit. The actual arena where the Gym Leader battles took place was on the other side of this room. All Pokémon Gyms included trainers that were there as a warm-up before the main event itself and Ruby could see them as she made her way down the steps into the battlefield. There were three trainers standing between her and Milo and she would beat them all. Ruby was surprised to see that the meadow in this room had real grass, not AstroTurf or anything artificial. Guess it made sense for a Grass type Gym to be this authentic.


Ruby approached the first of the three Gym Trainers, a spectacled boy with dark purplish hair and dressed in the standard Gym uniform, only his had a grass theme going on with some green colours and the symbol of the Grass Gym across the chest area. The boy noticed her and instantly recognized what was going on.


"Ah, another Gym Challenger!" he said enthusiastically, "Milo wasn't expecting the next one so soon. My name's Samuel and you'll have to get past me and my friends if you wish to challenge our leader."


"Yes, I got that. No need to talk down to me as if I'm a newbie." Ruby said, rolling her eyes, "Well technically, I AM a newbie, but I still know how Gyms work."


"Right, sorry." Samuel said sheepishly, "Anyway, let's go. Gossifleur, I choose you!"


The spectacled boy threw his Pokéball and summoned forward his chosen Pokémon, the Grass-type Gossifleur. Gossifleur was a small, cute looking plant-like Pokémon with a pretty yellow flower on its head and red hair-like growths surrounding the back of it. Ruby couldn't deny it looked cute but otherwise unimpressive. She imagined Emerald would adore it. She drew out her own Pokéball.


"Should be easy enough." Ruby said casually, "Gene, let's go!"


She threw her Pokéball and out came Gene the Zigzagoon once again. He stood up straight and waved his paws, shaking his tongue side-to-side as he felt some strange need to make a big impression of his appearance.


"I zig, I zag, I zigzag my way to victory! Gene is ready for a Gym battle!" he cried enthusiastically.


Nobody said anything, the only sound audible in the room being a single Kricketot somewhere in the distance. Ruby hid her face behind her hand, fighting off the urge to blush in front of this Gym Trainer whereas Samuel wasn't sure what to make of it.


"What?" Gene asked, confused at the cold reception he was getting.


"Gene, you don't have to oversell yourself like that!" Ruby hissed, "Besides, it's only a Gym trainer, we're not fighting the leader yet!"


"Oh…well that was awkward." Gene said, sweat-dropping nervously, "On the plus side, I picked up some kind of belt outside the Stadium, do you want it?" he asked, handing a black belt that looked like something a karate master would wear to her.


"Just bloody battle already!" Ruby shouted in annoyance.


She took the belt from Gene and was about to throw it away until she suddenly realized that he'd actually picked something useful up. This was no ordinary belt, but an Expert Belt. A Pokémon holding this item would have a power boost to any move that was super-effective. She wasn't sure how Gene found it but she was grateful to him for doing so.


"On second thoughts, this could be useful. Thanks." Ruby said graciously, putting the belt around her waist as she didn't have her backpack to put it in for the moment.


Gene smiled, glad he'd picked something useful up for a change. He then turned his attention back to his opponent, feeling as unimpressed as Ruby did. This Pokémon didn't even look like it'd give him a challenge, but he knew that any Pokémon could pack a surprise or two. It was best not to lower his guard just yet. Ruby gave the first command.


"Gene, Pin Missile!" she barked.


Gene leapt straight into action, firing a barrage of Pin Missiles at his opponent. Luck wasn't entirely on his side like with Bede back in the mine for he didn't land all five hits on the Gossifleur. The Grass-type Pokémon only took three hits and despite the damage gone, Gossifleur wasn't quite down yet. It shook its flowery head and glared at Gene, ready to strike back. The Zigzagoon recoiled, surprised that it withstood the attack. Good thing he'd reminded himself not to lower his guard beforehand!


"Gossifleur, Rapid Spin!" Samuel commanded.


Gossifleur obeyed, throwing itself towards Gene and spinning around like a top towards him. The small Pokémon slammed straight into him but otherwise did very little damage. Gene shook off the hit easily and Gossifleur landed back on its spot, annoyed that it didn't really do much to the black-and-white Pokémon. Ruby retaliated by commanding Gene to use another Pin Missile. Gossifleur had no chance of survival now as Gene fired some Pin Missiles at it again. It took just two hits to sap away what was left of Gossifleur's strength. The flower-like Pokémon stumbled backwards and fell on its back, unable to battle anymore. Samuel just shook his head sadly and returned his Pokémon.


"Nobody really struggles against me." he said dejectedly, "I'm the first Gym-anything that anyone fights so I'm just a warm-up to them. Still, good win and hope you do well against the others."


"Thanks Samuel." Ruby said as she returned Gene to her Pokéball, "And don't feel too bad about yourself. Your Gossifleur was a lot more hardy than I expected. I think you have potential to be a great trainer if you keep at it."


That surprised Samuel. It was very rare for anyone to give him a compliment. They usually just went on their way, dismissing him as a stepping stone to walk over to get to the real challenge. He and Ruby shook hands as she walked across the grass to the next trainer she had to face. She came up to another boy in glasses, only he had scruffy brown hair and was slightly older than Samuel. He acknowledged that he had a new challenger to face and got out a Pokéball ready.


"Ah, another challenger. We've been getting a lot of those today with the Gym Challenge opening earlier today." he said, "I'm Mark and I wonder what kind of Pokémon you have, little trainer."


Ruby scoffed at his remark. He wasn't one to call her "little" when he was barely any bigger than her! He was probably not much older than her either! She kept her thoughts to herself as she didn't want to start an argument. She waited as Mark summoned his first Pokémon. Naturally, she recognized it as a Budew, the first stage evolution of Roserade. It seemed funny to her that she should be facing a Budew as back in the Wild Area, she and Bugs had to flee from a Roselia that was too tough to handle. This Budew would be a piece of cake at least.


"Now time for your first time battling with me." Ruby said as she drew her own Pokéball out, "Houdini, it's your time to shine!"


She threw the ball and out came Houdini the Hoothoot. The big-eyed owl-like Pokémon just stretched his stubby wings and cleared his throat.


"Hoot." he simply said in a surprisingly deep-voice. It was baritone, which sounded very odd coming out of this small owl-like Pokémon. Ruby already knew this but Mark was taken aback.


"Gosh, I've never heard a Hoothoot with a voice THAT deep before!" he exclaimed.


"Believe me, it was odd to hear when I caught him." Ruby laughed, "He's also a really good singer too, but that's not important. Are you ready for your first battle, Houdini?"


"I just feel privileged you've deigned to summon me to participate in the sport of combat for the purpose of entertainment." Houdini said proudly, "I shall show you all just what a valiant fighter I am!"


"Ha, ha, he's quite a talker." Mark giggled.


"And a Mon of big words too. Sometimes I think he swallowed a dictionary back in that den." Ruby giggled, thinking back to how talkative he'd been back in the Wild Area, "But enough talk. Houdini, start off with an Air Slash!"


"I shall carry out your command to the letter, my fair lady!" Houdini declared.


The little bird Pokémon ran towards the Budew and made a slashing motion with his beak. To anyone watching, it was like the Pokémon was slashing through even the very air itself as it drew a neat white line across the air and the opponent it was attacking. The Budew winced in pain from the attack and staggered, taking a lot of damage from the Air Slash but otherwise was still able to fight. It had some health left, but not that it would do it any good.


"Budew, use Poison Sting!" Mark cried.


But the Budew didn't move, still in pain from the attack. A side-effect of Air Slash is that sometimes, it would make opponents flinch, preventing them from making a move. Ruby clenched her fists happily, glad to see that it had worked.


"Good shot Houdini!" she complimented, "Peck it while it's stunned!"


"And thus brings an end to a disappointingly brief and one-sided conflict that otherwise was a noble example of my prodigious power." Houdini said haughtily.


Ruby rolled her eyes. Would it kill that bird to just attack instead of running his beak off?! Houdini ran towards Budew and pecked it, sapping away the last of its strength and finishing it off. The Budew fainted and Mark returned it, drawing out another Pokéball.


"Good fight, little trainer." Mark said, "But unlike Samuel, I have an extra Pokémon to truly test your skills. Not all Gym trainers only have one Pokémon to fight with."


He summoned his next Pokémon, a widespread breed native to the Kanto region known as Oddish. Oddish was literally just a walking blue ball with legs, a face and giant leaves on its head. It certainly earned its name for being odd-looking, but was still quite popular among Grass-type enthusiasts to use. Ruby saw no reason to change Pokémon so she kept Houdini out. He could handle this no problem, especially as Oddish was half-poison type. It was already weak against Houdini's flying attacks but the half-poison typing made Oddish vulnerable to psychic attacks, and luckily for her, Houdini had one to exploit that other weakness.


"Use Confusion!" Ruby commanded.


"Ha, a psychic attack to use next! A sound strategy my fair maiden!" Hoothoot said approvingly.


"Don't call me "maiden"." Ruby said in annoyance.


Houdini opened his eyes wide and stared at the Oddish. A beam of circular waves came out of his eyes and swept over the Grass/Poison type Pokémon. The Oddish winced from the attack and found itself swaying side-to-side as the ground seemed to spin under its feet. Being hit by a psychic attack was never pleasant and the poor Oddish felt like it wanted to puke as everything seemed to go topsy-turvy. The Confusion was over and despite the damage done, the Oddish remained standing. It shook itself and regained its senses as Mark made his move.


"Good on you Oddish, you handled it well! Now retaliated with Absorb!"


The Oddish obeyed and started draining some of Houdini's energy. A streak of green leapt out from Houdini towards Oddish and trailed into its body. Ruby knew too well what Absorb was like as Bugs had been on the receiving end of it when fighting the Roselia in the Wild Area. As Houdini was a flying type, Absorb barely did anything and after it was done, Houdini just patted himself over and stood still a moment to register if everything was fine.


"I feel quite unchanged after that." he said, "If you wanted to sap my energy, you clearly needed something more potent."


"It's a grass move, it never had a chance of effecting you much." Ruby noted, "Still, we can't let it use Absorb over and over or it can cause us some grief. Use Air Slash to finish the fight!"


Houdini obeyed, using the move he'd used against his first opponent earlier. One single Air Slash was enough to knock the Oddish out in a single strike. The Oddish fainted and Mark returned it. He clearly wished he could've put up a better battle but he gave a congratulatory smile regardless.


"Great stuff there, miss." he said, "I think you'll give Milo a good battle when you get to him."


"I'll do more than that. I'll win!" Ruby declared.


She shook hands with Mark and made her way to the next trainer with Houdini sitting on her shoulder. She wanted to use him again so it was pointless to put him back in his ball. The last trainer was ginger-haired girl with green eyes and a rather far away look on her face. She looked as if nothing in the world interested her, which made Ruby feel uneasy. She couldn't stand people like this as they often crept her out. How could anyone look so emotionless and be OK with it? The girl noticed Ruby and give a casual smile as if it was just business as usual for her. Just another Gym Challenger to deal with, why make a fuss about it?


"Hey, you're like the next Gym Challenger who's totally gonna challenge the Gym Leader, right?" the girl said, her voice blunt and almost robotic in tone, "Well too bad sister, cuz Leah is here to stop you from getting to him. I'm like totally gonna whup your bum."


"If anyone needs their bum whupping, it's you Little Miss High-As-A-Kite." Ruby retorted, "Are you even aware where you are at this point?"


"Meh, it doesn't matter where I am as long as I'm here, right?" Leah said dismissively, "Anyway, let's battle!"


Leah threw a Pokéball and out came her first Pokémon she would use for this battle. She had chosen a Bounsweet, a Grass-type Pokémon with only one gender, female. It was a pink and white Pokémon resembling a mangosteen, only it had a face and its leaves acted more like its hair. The Bounsweet skipped up and down happily, ready to battle. Ruby shook her head pityingly, knowing the sweet little Pokémon wasn't going to last long. She called Houdini to the battlefield, the bird-like Pokémon hopping off her shoulder and taking his position. He eyed his opponent up with confusion.


"I feel so conflicted upon this combatant I'm faced with." Houdini said grimly, "I am debating immensely over rather I should engage in combat or try to consume it."


"Try and eat it and I'll make you hack it up." Ruby warned, "Geez, is this what all Pokémon are like when they're face against Pokémon that resemble food? Never mind, use Air Slash on it!" she commanded.


Houdini sprung into action and Air Slashed at the Bounsweet. But much to his amazement…he missed! As he lunged towards it and made the slashing attack, the Bounsweet bent over backwards, showing surprising speed for a small Pokémon resembling a fruit and Houdini sailed past it without doing any harm. Houdini skidded to a halt and flapped his wings furiously. He ran back towards Bounsweet but Leah gave her command.


"Use Rapid Spin!" she ordered.


Bounsweet jumped up and spun towards Houdini like a tornado. It slammed into the owl Pokémon, hitting him in the eyes and making him stagger backwards. The Bounsweet bounced back up into the air and hurled towards Houdini, clearly intending to use another Rapid Spin but Ruby reacted just in time.


"Air Slash it while it's airborne!" she yelled.


"A sound strategy, my lady!" Houdini said approvingly.


He jumped up and used his Air Slash attack on Bounsweet while it was still in the air. He hit it dead on, no way he could've missed this attack. The Bounsweet cried out from the impact and fell down to the ground with a heavy thud. Houdini had taken it out in one hit. Leah didn't look perturbed by this though. In fact, she showed no emotion on her face as she returned Bounsweet and drew out her next Pokémon.


"Big deal, you like totally got lucky out there." Leah said casually, "But my Oddish will deal with you."


Ruby frowned. Another Oddish? Seriously?! Did this gym just run out of Pokémon to use? Nevertheless, she and Houdini knew what to do against it as they'd already defeated one Oddish earlier. After Leah called it to the field, Ruby commanded Houdini to use another Air Slash. The Oddish took the hit and retaliated, not with Absorb, but with Acid this time. Acid was a poison-type attack that consisted of the Pokémon throwing poisonous sludge at the opponent. It was disgusting and smelt revolting, and it had a chance to poison the opponent on impact. Houdini was hit by the foul sludge but aside from taking some damage, he wasn't effected any further. No poison side-effect, just ordinary battle damage from being hit. He shook the Acid attack off and Ruby concluded the battle by ordering him to use Confusion. The Oddish went down after that, unable to keep standing after the Confusion left it dizzy and with no strength left to fight. Leah returned Oddish, her face still neutral with not a hint of emotion on her face.


"So you like, totally beat me. Look at me. Am I bouvvered? See this? Face? Bouvvered? I don't think so." she muttered, pointing to her face as she said this, "I ain't bouvvered in the slightest. Just get going to Milo already, you've done your bit."


"Blimey, would it kill you to at least ACT like a human and not a malfunctioning robot trying to understand what emotions are?" Ruby said, rolling her eyes.


"If you want my opinion, my dear, I don't think she even IS a human." Houdini snorted.


Ruby agreed. She strode past Leah and made her way to the end of the room. The Gym Trainers had been beaten, now it was time for the main event…

__________________________________________________________________________________


The first thing Ruby noticed upon stepping onto the pitch of Turffield Stadium was that it didn't look much different to the pitch she'd been standing in back in Motostoke. Did all Gym Stadiums look the same aside from colour choices and theming? She could see some sponsor posters all around the stadium and the leaf logo of the Grass Gym, as well as the audience all watching her enter the arena with many of them wearing green but otherwise, she could've walked into Motostoke again to face Milo and she could still be convinced she was in the Grass Gym. She and the Gym Leader walked into the centre of the arena and took their positions, facing each other on opposite sides of the Gym Challenge logo marked in the middle of the pitch. Ruby had briefly seen Milo at the opening ceremony earlier so now she was actually face-to-face with him, she could get a proper look at him.


Milo was a huge man, very muscular in appearance with thick biceps, broad shoulders and powerful looking legs. He looked almost giant compared to Ruby with the silver-haired teen feeling a little intimidated by him. But his face looked gentle and friendly, betraying any menace his impressive physique might've displayed. He had the sort of look that suggested he could be anybody's uncle and that he'd never hurt anyone. How did a huge man like this look so friendly? He was dressed in his Gym Leader outfit, a white and green shirt with his Gym's logo across the chest, green shorts displaying his number, 831, on his right leg and a huge floppy hat that looked more like something a farmer would wear. This was because Milo was actually a farmer in his spare time, having been born to a family of them. He was even nicknamed "The Fighting Farmer" by many. It did explain his fondness of Grass types after all. Milo looked at Ruby and smiled jovially.


"And I'm met with another challenger." he acknowledged, speaking in a thick Cornish accent, "My Gym's the first one people face, so we get a lot of challengers. You managed to beat the trainers and get here to face me. Proper job! So what's your name, young lady?"


"I'm Ruby Silverlock from Postwick Town." Ruby answered, "I'm one of the challengers endorsed by the Champion, if you remember."


"Oh I ain't forgotten about that." Milo said reassuringly, "Leon must think yer something special if he's endorsed you, little one. Likewise, I accept your challenge! I have a feeling this will be a doozy of a battle!"


Ruby and Milo stepped back into the outer circle to give more space for their Pokémon to take their positions. They turned to face each other, waiting for the signal to go. The crowd gave small murmurs and cries of excitement as they prepared for the battle to begin. Ruby suddenly realized how daunting it actually felt to be in this position. She was here, in front of hundreds of people, face-to-face with a Gym Leader and about to face him! There were even cameras trained on them as they filmed for the TV audiences! This was so much different than watching the Gym Battles on TV at home! Did all trainers feel this nervous before facing a Gym Leader? Her stomach tightened. She hoped she wouldn't make a fool of herself in front of this crowd. She closed her eyes and breathed slowly to try and relax as a distorted, electronic voice announced to the crowd.


"From Postwick Town: Ruby Silverlock. Her opponent: Gym Leader Milo." the announcer boomed.


The crowd cheered for her. Ruby was wondering whether anyone really supported her of it was just because they were excited for the battle that was coming. The voice spoke again.


"Pokémon Trainers: Standby."


Ruby had to wonder if the announcer was human or if it was a computer voice that was saying those words. She tried to ignore it as she placed a hand over her Pokéballs. She knew who she was going to start with.


"Three…two…one…BEGIN!" the announcer boomed.


This was it! The Gym Battle was on! Milo made the first move as he drew out a Pokéball from one of the holsters on his thighs.


"Let's get started, little Ruby!" he said boisterously, "Gossifleur, let's mow down the competition!"


He tossed a Pokéball and out came Gossifleur, a Pokémon that Ruby had already faced earlier so she knew what to expect. She was annoyed at having to face another one but otherwise, drew out a Pokéball of her own, though she nearly dropped it due to her sweaty palms. Some audience members giggled. Ruby ignored them and threw the ball.


"Hawk Moth, it's battle time!" she cried.


The Pokéball opened up to release its occupant, Hawk Moth the Caterpie. Hawk Moth twirled his makeshift cane around in his stubby legs, clearly glad to have the chance to fight. He eyed his opponent with sinister interest and pointed the cane at Gossifleur.


"Ah yes, a simple little flower-like Pokémon. This weak looking specimen should be easy prey for my akuma!" he crowed.


Milo's Gossifleur raised an eyebrow in confusion.


"Uh…I'm sorry, wot?" she asked.


"Yer Caterpie's a strange little fella, ain't it?" Milo said, confused by Hawk Moth's behaviour.


"You're telling me." Ruby muttered, "I wish he wouldn't keep up the act while I'm here in front of hundreds of people! This is embarrassing enough as it is!"


She tried to ignore some of the audience's laughter as she gave her first command.


"Hawk Moth, use Bug Bite!" she commanded.


Hawk Moth stabbed his cane down into the ground as if he was placing Excalibur back in its stone so he could use all his legs and not need to hold it. He scuttled quickly towards Gossifleur and jumped onto her. Gossifleur didn't have time to react as Hawk Moth landed on her and sank his teeth into her skin. He bit down hard, too hard in fact for what was meant to be a fun competition.


"OW! You foul ruffian, not so hard!" she wailed, jumping up and down and trying to shake Hawk Moth off.


"Easy Hawk Moth, Pokémon battles are meant to be fun, not violent!" Ruby cried, trying to keep the situation from going out of hand.


Luckily, Hawk Moth obeyed and let go of Gossifleur. His bite had done the damage, but his opponent didn't go down in one hit. Gossifleur was still standing. That wasn't why Hawk Moth was disappointed though. He frowned as he saw that nothing had happened to Gossifleur.


"Blast! I bit her as hard as I could and she hasn't been enslaved to my will! How can I capture Orbeetle and Meowth Noir's Miraculouses if I can't even control anyone?!" he ranted.


"Hawk Moth, for Arceus's sake, SHUT UP!" Ruby yelled irritably.


"Blimey, he is a peculiar one…" Milo said in wonder, shaking his head, "Gossifleur, use Rapid Spin on that little Caterpie!"


"Gladly. He could do with a good knock in the noggin." Gossifleur muttered, preening her hair as she prepared to attack.


She spun towards Hawk Moth and slammed him into him, deliberately aiming at his head. She hoped she'd knock some sense into the kooky Caterpie by hitting him there. Upon impact, Hawk Moth staggered backwards and shook his head, wondering what had hit him for the moment.


"Hawk Moth, are you OK?" Ruby asked with concern.


"I'm quite unharmed, master." Hawk Moth replied, "If this foolish Pokémon won't succumb to my command, then we must destroy her!"


"No Hawk Moth, we must beat her! We're not "destroying" anyone you bloodthirsty Caterpie!" Ruby snapped, "Bug Bite again, and please don't try and kill our opponent when you do so!"


"Fine, whatever." Hawk Moth said in annoyance.


"I'm rather disappointed that Rapid Spin didn't work." Gossifleur muttered.


Hawk Moth scuttled towards his opponent and used yet another Bug Bite to finish the battle. Par Ruby's instructions, he bit her less hard this time but it was still enough to win the battle. Gossifleur's strength dissipated and the Grass Pokémon fainted on the pitch, unable to continue the fight.


"Gossifleur is unable to battle! Caterpie is the winner!" the announcer boomed.


The crowd cheered, impressed with how this new challenger was doing and how quickly she'd won the battle. Ruby took it in but had no reaction, feeling somewhat guilty on what a bad impression Hawk Moth had left in front of a Gym Leader. Hopefully Milo wouldn't think she was a bad trainer or anything like that. Milo returned Gossifleur and put her back onto his holster. He looked grimly at Hawk Moth.


"I think that Caterpie needs to learn a few lessons Miss Silverlock." he said sternly, "It seems a bit…wily to me."


"I'm so, so sorry Milo! Honest I am!" Ruby blustered, "Please don't look down on me! I didn't mean for him to turn out this way, he's just kooky!"


"Now, now, don't get all worked up, missy." Milo said dismissively, "One Pokémon doesn't speak for a trainer's skills. I'm not so ignorant as to believe you're a bad trainer because of one bad Pokémon. As is, I'd recommend not using him again if you want to set a better example for yourself."


"I was going to anyway." Ruby said, glaring at Hawk Moth bitterly as she returned him.


The teen at least felt a little better knowing that Milo didn't think lesser of her because of Hawk Moth's behaviour. He truly had the makings of a Gym Leader, wise, compassionate and full of good advice. She hoped all the others were the same. Ruby took out her next Pokéball and patted it softly.


"I was saving you for last." she said affectionately, "Bugs, it's show time!"


She threw the Pokéball and out came Bugs the Raboot, the fire in his body blazing and itching for battle. The crowd exploded with glee, clearly keen to see a Fire-type Pokémon on the field as it mean there was going to be some awesome action to watch. Bugs just bowed and waved to them, glad to have such a warm reception.


"Ah, me public…how they love me!" he said, swooning.


"So you evolved yer starter before ya arrived here! I'm impressed." Milo said approvingly, "And I'm not surprised ya came in here with a Fire type Pokémon. Some challengers are so predictable. I won't let a little fire threaten me though. Eldegoss, let's mow down the competition!"


He tossed his next Pokéball and out came the evolved form of Gossifleur. Eldegoss looked like it had been blown away from a dandelion due to its huge, cotton fluff head with brown seeds and had a green cloak-like body. She had brown eyes and a gentle look on her face. She looked more like she'd be at home gardening than having a battle. Ruby was glad to have something new to face for a change, though she had to shake her head at the lack of creativity on Milo's part. Seriously, he had a Gossifleur and then an evolved Gossifleur? That was his idea of challenging trainers? Hopefully the next Gym Leaders had some more variety to them. Milo's Eldegoss eyed up Bugs and winked seductively at him.


"Hey darling, you're quite a looker." she purred smoothly, "Tell you what, I can show you a good time if you let me win."


Ruby was taken aback by how smooth and velvety the Eldegoss's voice sounded. It was like the kind of voice a mother would use to sooth a crying baby. Bugs wasn't having any of it though, folding his arms dismissively.


"Sorry doll-face, I ain't in ta Grass Pokémon." Bugs said, completely immune to her feminine charms, "I'd just burn em alive if I tried a relationship with em. Besides, I don't let my opponents win."


"Eldegoss, must you flirt with every single opponent yer up against?!" Milo sighed in annoyance, "We're in a Pokémon battle, not a dating show!"


"Can I help it if my opponents are often really good looking?" Eldegoss retorted.


So Milo had a Pokémon that could be troublesome too. Maybe that was why he was so sympathetic to her earlier. Ruby was about to command Bugs to make a move but suddenly, Milo held out Eldegoss's Pokéball. The Dynamax band around his wrist activated and Dynamax energy swirled around it as he began the Dynamax process. The presence of Dynamax energy naturally made Ruby's silver hair glow again, astonishing the audience as two incredible things happened at once. Ruby had no reaction, already having anticipated what would happen given Gyms like this were built over Dynamax spots in order for Dynamaxing to happen. She just hoped the audience wouldn't assume things about her like Bede did. Milo didn't notice at first as the Pokéball in his hang expanded to twice its normal size and he patted it affectionately as a good luck motion. Then he tossed it and Eldegoss began to Dynamax, growing several times in size and looming behind Milo like some monster giant out of a children's book. Of course, that did nothing to make Eldegoss look more intimidating as she still had her rather cutesy appearance. If anything, making her bigger just looked more silly than imposing.


Seeing as Milo was using Dynamax, Ruby decided to follow suit. Her hair glowed as Dynamax energy surrounded her wrist and she held Bugs's Pokéball out. Now Milo had finished with his, he could see Ruby's glowing hair and he stared at her curiously as the Dynamax energy built up around Bugs's Pokéball.


"Flippin' heck, she has glowing hair! Never seen that before…" he murmured.


Ruby waited until Bugs's Pokéball had finished growing before lifting it above her head with both hands and throwing it. It felt like yesterday when she was in the Wild Area doing this for the first time and here she was doing it again for the Gym Challenge! Bugs grew in size, standing giant behind Ruby and flexing his muscles with glee.


"Aw yeah, I've been aching ta do dis again, especially since I've evolved!" he boomed, his voice deepened by the Dynamaxing just like last time.


The audience was hysterical, chanting and cheering for the two Dynamaxed Pokémon. This was what they came to Gym Battles for, to watch the Dynamax phenomenon and a titanic tussle between giant Pokémon! Everybody knew that Ruby was going to win due to type-advantage and they began chanting for Bugs, only they referred to him by his Pokémon species and not his name. Some members of the crowd were entranced by Ruby's glowing hair and murmured, wondering why it was doing that. Ruby just kept it casual and pointed at Eldegoss.


"Alright Bugs, give the audience a show to remember! Max Flare attack, now!" she commanded.


Bugs wasted no time as he unleashed his attack, sending a giant ball of flames towards Eldegoss. The blazing inferno slammed into the Grass-type Pokémon and knocked her back. The audience was spellbound by the searing hot attack and many of the crowd members that had phones or cameras made sure to film or get plenty of pictures of the attack. It made for quite a shot to remember the battle by. Eldegoss was left wincing in pain from the flames but against all odds, the giant-sized cotton fluff was still standing. She looked over at Bugs, grunting from the impact.


"Good move, sweetheart." she boomed, her voice too deepened by the Dynamax, "You're clearly powerful. I see why you don't let others win."


"N'yah, dat's right." Bugs sneered, "Ya wanna win, doll-face, ya have ta beat me!"


"We may have no chance Eldegoss, but a true Gym Leader doesn't back down so easily!" Milo declared, "Eldegoss, Max Overgrowth now!"


"I do hope I don't hurt you too much, hon." Eldegoss purred.


She fired some giant green seeds from the cotton fluff on her head and they landed in strategic positions around Bugs. The Raboot stood by, wondering what was going to happen. Then the seeds quickly grew into giant mushrooms, grass and plants and the surrounding foliage all slammed into Bugs from multiple sides, sapping some of his energy. As a Fire-type, he withstood the hit and was barely even fazed by what had happened. Nevertheless, the audience had enjoyed watching the Max Overgrowth attack as that was often very impressive to watch and it showed Milo was putting up an effort at least. Bugs brushed some grass off his chest casually as if the attack had been a minor annoyance to him.


"Hmm…ya know, dat NEARLY hurt me." he crowed, "Nice try doll-face, but no dice."


"You said it Bugs!" Ruby laughed, "Now let's wrap it up with another Max Flare!"


Bugs launched another Max Flare at his opponent, striking her down with a huge fireball attack that ate away at what little strength she had left and scorching some of Eldegoss's face. Eldegoss collapsed from the impact of Bugs's onslaught, the Dynamax energy around her gone and restoring her to her normal size as she had no energy left to fight. Milo looked over at her with sympathetic eyes, knowing he'd never had a chance when Ruby was clearly so well-prepared for him.


"Ah me dear Eldegoss, ya gave it yer best shot." he said grimly.


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


Ruby took a moment to absorb what had just happened. Everything around her seemed to stop momentarily, even the sound of the crowd growing faint as she took it all in. She, Ruby Silverlock, had just won her first Gym battle…and like Hop, she'd done it in one try! She had expected to be a good trainer, but to be this good already?! It was unthinkable! True she'd had plenty of type advantages, but that still didn't mean she'd win so easily! Milo could've trounced her for all she knew! But the battle was over and she was the victor with her progressing to Gym Number 2 afterwards. Ruby punched the air in triumph as Bugs returned to his normal size. He cheered alongside his trainer.


"YEEEEEEEEEEEES! I WON! WOW, THIS IS AMAZING!" Ruby hollered.


Milo returned Eldegoss and turned back to Ruby, his face unchanged after the battle. It was easy for one to assume that Milo could lose a thousand battles and still keep up his friendly disposition.


"The power of Grass has wilted." he said matter-of-factly, "What an incredible Gym Challenger!"


He approached Ruby as she jumped up and down with glee. Once Ruby stopped jumping, he spoke to her.


"That must've been a fulfilling Pokémon battle for you!" the fighting farmer said jovially, "So as proof you have beaten me, allow me to present you with your own Grass Badge!"


He handed Ruby a gold, metal badge with a single leaf logo in the centre. Ruby stared at the badge she held in the palm of her hand, taking a while to register the fact that it was hers. She was holding her first ever Gym Badge! What a moment this was and she was determined to treasure it! She pocketed the badge and shook hands with Milo.


"Thank you so much Milo!" Ruby said happily, "I'll treasure it along with any other badge I win!"


"That's the spirit, lass!" Milo said brightly, "Before you go though, I hope you don't mind me asking but…what was with your hair when you Dynamaxed your Raboot? Does it normally glow like that when that happens?"


Ruby wasn't at all surprised he'd noticed and had even anticipated him asking that. She wasn't going to lie to a Gym Leader or keep anything from him so she answered.


"I don't know why, but it seems to react this way whenever I'm near Dynamax energy." Ruby explained, "It first happened when I held a Wishing Star over at Professor Magnolia's house. She's trying to find out why that is."


"So a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, eh?" Milo said, "Well burn me haystacks…that is unusual. I hope you find your answers soon, Ruby. Good luck over at Hulbury Gym. Nessa can be quite a tough Gym Leader. Believe me when I say that I'm just a warm-up."


"Thank you Milo, and thanks again for everything. It's been a pleasure to challenge you." Ruby said politely.


But before she could leave the stadium, something strange happened. At least three of her Pokéballs were glowing white. Ruby stared at them and yanked them off her belt in wonder.


"Whoa, whoa, whoa! What's happening? Why are they doing this?!" Ruby exclaimed.


"I think you've got some Pokémon evolving in there." Milo said, clearly having seen this happen before.


Ruby opened up the balls to let out the occupants and saw that, indeed, three of her Pokémon had just evolved. They'd powered up in their balls thanks to a strange connection that Pokémon had in which all Pokémon gained more power regardless of who was in battle and the many battles Ruby had had in the gym had given three of them enough to evolve. The ones that had changed were Gene, Houdini and Ariel.


Gene was no longer a Zigzagoon, but a Linoone. He retained his trademark black-and-white colours and face markings but his body was bigger and longer, looking closer to a badger than raccoon and sporting a bushy tail. He looked over himself, amazed at how different he now looked.


"Whoa, I'm suddenly bigger now and I feel like I could run for miles and back!" he cried, "This is rockin'!"


Houdini had changed from Hoothoot to Noctowl. Noctowl was much bigger than Hoothoot and more anatomically closer to an actual owl than its predecessor. He had huge brown wings and had cream-coloured feather "horns" above his eyes. Houdini spread his wings out and admired himself, clearly pleased with his new look. He'd already been quite strong when Ruby had found him, so she wasn't surprised he had ended up evolving so quickly.


"Don't I look grand…" he purred, feeling very proud of himself, "A fine look for a fine Pokémon such as myself. A most proud change indeed."


And Ariel had changed into the very Pokémon Ruby had been waiting for since capturing her, the mighty Gyarados. Gyarados was a huge Pokémon resembling a sea-serpent with blue scales, a yellow-ish underbelly, fins on either side of its head and a big finned tail for swimming. Gyarados also had massive jaws with sharp fangs that made them ideal predators. Despite the change, Ariel still maintained her gentle nature, her face softer and friendlier than most Gyarados and she looked over herself with tears in her eyes.


"Oh my stars…I evolved! My dream is fulfilled! I've become a Gyarados at last!" she wept.


"My gosh…look at all of you!" Ruby cried excitedly, "You all evolved! This is amazing! Oh Ariel, Gene, Houdini, I'm so proud of you all!"


She patted Ariel's head and hugged Houdini and Gene with awe, ecstatic that they'd all evolved. The audience was equally impressed for they hadn't seen anything like this before. Some trainers had Pokémon evolve after winning a battle, but three at once was very rare. The TV cameras made sure that everybody at home would get a good view of this as this was a moment to be remembered. Many of the people being the cameras had a feeling that this girl was going to get viewing figures going very much if she kept up with miracles like this in her Gym Battles…

__________________________________________________________________________________

Pokémon evolved: Ariel the Magikarp, now Ariel the Gyarados


Gene the Zigzagoon, now Gene the Linoone


Houdini the Hoothoot, now Houdini the Noctowl

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