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Knights of Galar: A Pokemon Shield Nuzlocke Chapter 3

Chapter 3: The Pokémon Professor

Route 2 was a good place to start for Ruby to build up a team of Pokémon. Route 2 was a stretch of road that lead from Wedgehurst to the professor's house and as any Pokémon trainer could tell you, it was full of Pokémon that were ripe for beginners to pick and choose from. There were many Pokémon one could find in the grasses on the route from the vulpine-looking Nickit to the tiny bird-like Rookidee. The teenage trainer was buzzing with excitement. When going through this route, any of these Pokémon could be her first catch and she'd be on the road to building up a strong team to participate in the Gym Challenge with. She'd read countless magazines before on the Gym Challenge and knew what to expect from them. There were gyms specializing in grass, water, fire, fighting, ghost, rock, ice, fairy, dark and dragon type Pokémon so it was vital to have Pokémon that were able to match up to any of those gyms. What Pokémon types would she catch in this route and which gyms would they match up to? Ruby knew full well that anything could happen and her adventure was just beginning.

She and Bugs walked down the path after they'd dropped by the Wedgehurst Pokémon Centre to buy some essentials they'd need for their journey. Ruby made sure to buy plenty of potions to heal her Pokémon up as they'd need them. Bugs walked beside her instead of on her shoulder as they entered Route 2. He wanted the exercise to keep up his strength as he would be needed for Pokémon battles again anytime, especially if his master was going to make a catch. He kept all senses alert for any Pokémon lurking in the grasses, waiting to pounce. Ruby breathed in contently, enjoying the fresh afternoon air. The late afternoon sun was warm and it made her feel good. What could be better than setting off on a Pokémon journey in lovely, sunny weather like today?

"I just love a good walk in the sunshine." Ruby said happily, "It brings me back to when I was growing up back home. Mum, dad and the three of us would enjoy a walk through nature on a nice day like this. And thankfully, not all of them had us getting bitten by Skwovets."

"I enjoy da countryside too." Bugs agreed, "It's peaceful and quiet, unless any Pokémon come nosin' around, and ya get ta kick back and enjoy life as the day goes by."

"Do you miss those days or do you enjoy being a Pokémon caught by a trainer?" Ruby asked.

"I'll admit, I do miss when I used ta be a wild Pokémon." Bugs replied, "I could go anywhere I wanted, although I could never get ta dat blasted Pismo Beach I always heard about. I always miss dat left turn at Albuquerque…"

Ruby couldn't help but giggle. It really did feel like she'd literally gotten herself Bugs Bunny in a Pokémon's body.

"At da same time though, bein' a caught Pokémon has its advantages." the little Scorbunny said, "I get ta go ta even more places than before, I get ta meet all sorts of people and Pokémon and I get to make friends with people like you. It also makes up for me not having any real friends or family when I was in the wild too. I like having a companion."

Ruby remembered him lamenting how he never knew what it was like to have a family earlier. She was curious to know why but at the same time, didn't want to upset her first Pokémon by bringing it up. She imagined it was too sensitive a subject for him to talk about so she didn't probe for answers.

"I'm glad I could be your companion." the Galarian girl said kindly, "And I know you and I are going to be the best of friends on this journey!"

"I don't doubt dat fer a second, doc." Bugs replied, "Say, if ya don't mind me asking, what made ya want ta become a Pokémon trainer? It always interests me ta hear why some people choose dis career."

That interested Ruby. She'd never really imagine a Pokémon ever asking that question. Then again, they were sentient creatures too so why wouldn't they ponder something like that.

"Well, you see…" Ruby began.

She was then interrupted as a spasm of pain shot through her bottom and made her scream in pain.

"OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!" she yelled, clutching her behind and hopping up and down frantically, "What the hell was that?! Something's biting my bum!"

Bugs looked behind her to see that indeed, something had bitten Ruby's bottom. It was a small tortoise like Pokémon with a tiny body and legs and a large head with an even larger mouth and a huge buck tooth. A single orange spike protruded from the top of its head. It was clinging on to Ruby's bum pretty hard and didn't seem in any hurry to let go. Bugs frowned, recognizing this particular species of Pokémon.

"N'yah, I should've expected we'd see a Chewtle on dis journey." he muttered, "Dey're pretty common in places like dis and like Skwovets, they love biting things."

"Well don't stand there expositing, get it off me!" Ruby squealed, shaking her butt to try and get the Chewtle to let go.

Bugs leapt into action, heating up the fire in his body enough so he could spit out an Ember attack at the chomping tortoise. He hit it square on, the fire ball hitting the Chewtle in the face and making it cry out in pain. It let go of Ruby's bum and fell on the ground, shaking its head to ease off the Ember attack. Ruby rubbed her sore bottom and glared at the Chewtle.

"You jerk, what was that for?!" she scolded, "I didn't even attack you!"

"I'm so sorry about that! Honest!" the Chewtle whimpered, its voice clearly telling Ruby that it was female, "I could smell something delicious in your backpack and I was trying to get that! I missed and bit your bottom by accident!"

"What do I have that you could…?"

Ruby stopped as she quickly realized what the Chewtle meant. It could likely smell the flapjacks in her backpack that her mum baked for her earlier. She slipped her backpack off her shoulders and took out a piece.

"Is this what you could smell?" Ruby asked.

The Chewtle nodded.

"Well if you wanted a piece, you could've asked nicely instead of biting me." she said sternly.

"I told you, that was an accident!" the Chewtle snapped, "I wasn't trying to bite you! And I didn't ask because I was worried you'd just be mean and tell your pet Scorbunny there to attack me. I hoped I could get the food without you noticing."

"Look here doll-face, I ain't her pet! I'm her buddy!" Bugs retorted, "And you maybe a wild Pokémon but stealing is still stealing so you should be ashamed of yerself for trying to pinch food from an innocent trainer!"

The Chewtle hung her head in shame. Bugs recoiled. He'd expected the water-type Pokémon to just argue back. That always happened when he bickered with people or Pokémon! But no, this one actually seemed to realize that what she did was wrong.

"You're right, it was wrong of me and I'm so sorry for inconveniencing you like that." she said, "I'll just go on my way and leave you two to go about your business."

The Chewtle then turned and started to walk away. But she didn't get far as Ruby walked up to her and got down on her knees, giving her a soft smile to reassure the Pokémon that she wasn't going to hurt it.

"Wait, don't go." Ruby said gently, "I know that it was wrong of you to try and steal from me and it really bloody hurt when you bit me…but maybe we can work on that. If you come with us, we could teach you to be a better Pokémon and have you learn right from wrong. And I can give you all the food you could ever want." she added, winking.

That seemed to pique the Chewtle's interest. Her huge mouth spread into a grin of delight as she took this in.

"You really mean that?" the blue-reptilian Pokémon asked eagerly.

"From the bottom of my heart." Ruby said brightly.

Bugs was gobsmacked.

"WHAT?! Seriously?!" he exclaimed, "Dat ting just bit ya on da butt because it wanted ta steal yer flapjacks and yer just gonna invite it ta join us just like dat?!"

"Bugs, it didn't mean to bite me and think about it, we could do with a water-type Pokémon on our team." Ruby noted, "And besides, if we let this Chewtle join us, we can help it be a better Pokémon that can learn not to steal. It's better than just letting it go on its merry way without learning its lesson, don't you think?"

Bugs wanted to argue some more but he had a feeling that he couldn't change Ruby's mind. He also hated to admit it but she had a good point. If they let the Chewtle go, it might just bite people again and try to steal their food. At least if it came with them, they'd be sparing other trainers the same fate. He sighed.

"OK, if ya want it, catch it." he said, not sounding too happy about it.

"I knew you'd understand." Ruby said impishly, "In that case, welcome to the team Chomps!" she cried enthusiastically.

"Y'what?" the Chewtle asked in confusion.

"It's my nickname for you." Ruby explained, "Much like how I nicknamed my Scorbunny, Bugs. If you don't like it, I can pick a different one."

"Oh no, Chomps is fine, if a bit on the nose." Chomps said reassuringly, "It makes me sound like I'm ready to bite my enemies to pieces. I look forward to travelling with you, um…"

"I'm Ruby." Ruby introduced.

"Nice to meet you." Chomps replied, "And again, so sorry that I bit you. I really was aiming for your backpack…"

"As long as it was accidental, I can forgive that." Ruby said dismissively, "You didn't mean to hurt me, that's the main thing. Though yeah, it really did hurt…" she muttered, rubbing her sore butt, "At least from now on, any opposing Pokémon will be on the business end of your teeth and not me."

"It better be or I'll bite her myself." Bugs said threateningly.

"I bet you couldn't bite through a Sitrus berry with those teeth." Chomps sneered.

"Oh you watch yerself sister, I ain't a bunny ya mess around with!" the Scorbunny shot back.

"OK, that's enough you two. We're meant to be a team so you better start acting like it!" Ruby scolded.

Bugs and Chomps huffed but said nothing more. They looked away from each other, clearly unwilling to cooperate.

"OK, so I now have my first catch of my journey." Ruby said brightly, "Next up, plenty of training so we're ready for the Gym Challenge when that opens up! Get ready you two, we've got a lot of battling to do!"

The next couple of hours were spent training up the two Pokémon that Ruby had in her team. They travelled through Route 2 searching for Pokémon to battle so they could hone their skills and get stronger in preparation of what was to come. Bugs and Chomps fought a variety of Pokémon as they trained, including Skwovets, Rookidees, Nickits and even Yampers. During their training, they had levelled up a few times and Bugs had come to learn a new move with Quick Attack. He'd gotten to test it out in one battle, using it to strike down a Nickit as he battled it.

"Whoo hoo, I like dat! It feels like I'm moving at light speed!" he cried enthusiastically.

"We could put that Quick Attack to great use." Ruby agreed, "I remember seeing some Pokémon trainers use Quick Attack as a finishing move. They'd get their opponent's health down low and then use Quick Attack so they move first and finish the opponent off. I always found that a clever use of moves."

"And now you'll be able to use dat tactic yerself, doc." Bugs said with a wink.

The training didn't go entirely smoothly. During one battle, Ruby had sent Chomps to battle a Skwovet that had appeared and despite Chomps's best efforts, the Skwovet was tanking her hits and still fighting back. It came dangerously close to finishing Chomps off altogether with a powerful bite attack that left the water-type Pokémon's health critically low. Ruby had acted quickly, spraying a potion on Chomps so the Skwovet wouldn't take her down and Chomps had finished the fight with one last Water Gun move. The Skwovet fainted, no energy left to battle and as relieved as Ruby was, she was also mad at Chomps. During that battle, Chomps had been rather stubborn and kept fighting to defeat the Skwovet without giving Ruby chance to strategize how to handle it. She was glad she'd been able to use a potion quickly before Chomps could've been killed.

"Chomps, if you're going to be a part of this team, you can't go being reckless!" Ruby said firmly, "That Skwovet was fighting to kill and you could've died if I hadn't jumped in to heal you! In a battle, you have to use strategy if you're going to win!"

"Sorry Ruby, I was just so sure that I could beat that thing." Chomps said, sulking.

"Well that's what our training's all about, getting stronger so we can beat any Pokémon, wild or trained, that may stand in our way." Ruby insisted, "If you follow my commands and stick to the training, you'll be ready for anything."

Chomps felt a little better after that. She liked the idea of being able to handle anything.

"OK Ruby, I'll try and be less reckless." the little Chewtle said happily.

"Good cause if ya end up on trouble again, I ain't saving ya." Bugs snorted.

Ruby glared at him, making him recoil and rub the back of his head sheepishly. It surprised Bugs that a girl like Ruby could look so welcoming and friendly and suddenly look serious and threatening if she wanted to. Now that was settled, Ruby decided they'd take a quick break from training. She sat down on a rock with Bugs and Chomps in front of her and she opened up her backpack. She unwrapped the pieces of flapjack mum had given her earlier and she gave a piece each to her Pokémon while eating the last piece herself. Bugs and Chomps ate their flapjacks, their faces beaming with delight on the wonderful taste of the sweet confection.

"Mmm, dat's quite good. Yer ma's a great cook!" Bugs complimented.

"That's nicer than any berry I've found in the wilds!" Chomps cried, "Thank you muchly Ruby!"

"I knew you two would like them. Nobody can bake a flapjack like my mum." Ruby said appreciatively.

"I'd love to see what else she can bake." Bugs said, "I bet she could make a great carrot cake."

"Well, all you have to do is ask." Ruby said with a smile, "She's happy to take requests from time to time."

"Dat's nice ta hear." Bugs replied, "Anyway, now we have a moment, do ya mind answering the question I asked ya before Chomps interrupted earlier?" he shot a glare at the Chewtle but she took no notice. She was still happily munching away on the flapjack.

"Ah right, you wanted to know why I chose to be a trainer." Ruby acknowledged, taking a bite out of her flapjack, "Hmm…I don't know when exactly I decided on that. All I know is that Pokémon has been my passion since I was little. I think I was about four or five when I watched my first ever Pokémon battle on TV. I remember it so vividly…watching Gym Leaders Nessa and Milo duke it out at Wyndon Stadium together, their Pokémon Dynamaxing and growing to incredible sizes…it just blew my mind and I wanted to know more about what I'd just seen!" she exclaimed excitedly, "Then mum and dad told me everything about Pokémon and, to my shock, I also learnt that dad had been a trainer himself before I was born!"

Chomps looked up from her flapjack with interest.

"Your dad was a trainer?" she said curiously, "What do you mean "was"? Is he dead or…"

"Oh hell no, nothing like that!" Ruby blustered, "Goodness no, he's alive and well! He's just retired, that's all. He's now a florist who works at a flower shop near the Turffield Gym. He tells me he likes to sell flowers to gym challengers in the hopes they're good luck charms. He'd joke about how anyone who bought from his shop was always guaranteed to win."

"So why did he retire?" Chomps asked.

Ruby sighed.

"In the end…his heart grew out of it." the silver teen said solemnly, "He'd lost many Pokémon in battle and I guess he just couldn't bear the heartache anymore. He even released all the Pokémon he used to own as he felt they were safer in the wilds than with him. I can't tell you how disappointed I was to hear that but now I'm older, I understand why he did it."

"And yet while he retired, yer here right now following on from da path he left behind." Bugs summarized, "It's clear him telling ya dat didn't dampen yer passion in anyway."

Ruby scoffed.

"Ya think?" she laughed, "If anything, it ignited my passion for Pokémon further! I once said to myself "I'm gonna be the trainer my dad was, and more and make him proud to see that his eldest daughter is continuing the sport he once participated in"! I really can't wait to see his face when we arrive in Turffield and he sees you two." she finished, "I'm willing to bet it'll make him nostalgic for his days as a trainer."

"And we'll be the best Pokémon you could ever want!" Chomps declared, "For you, your dad and everyone in the Galar region!"

Ruby just giggled, flattered by Chomps's determination and loyalty to her.

"It's hard to believe that a minute ago, you were biting me on the bum for a piece of my flapjack and now suddenly you want to be the best for me." she remarked.

"I don't see why dat's so funny." Bugs muttered.

"You shush, you've been quite mean enough to poor Chomps." Ruby retorted, "Anyway, snack time's over. We've got more training to do before we reach Professor Magnolia!"

"Geez, you'd think she was our next opponent with da way you're acting." Bugs said, rolling his eyes.

"No, but it never hurts to get an early start before we enter the Gym Challenge." the teen trainer noted, "Come on you two, let's get going!"

It was evening by the time Ruby and her new friends had reached Professor Magnolia's house. Traversing through the rest of Route 2, they had fought some more Pokémon and had even battled at least three trainers on their way. Neither trainer had been a challenge for Ruby and her Pokémon. One had a Skwovet, the second had a Chewtle of her own and the third had a Blipbug and a Nickit. Each one had gone down without posing much of a challenge though Ruby had found herself feeling a little sorry for the three trainers. Here she was, a brand new trainer just starting her journey and she makes these three, which were probably also new trainers themselves, look like weaklings. She hoped she hadn't dampened their spirits too much and that they'd go on to become stronger trainers themselves with stronger Pokémon to battle with. It was still a surprise that a sport as popular as Pokémon battles could create so many friendships. The psychology behind it all was certainly interesting, that was certain.

Ruby crossed over a small bridge and headed towards a little stone fence with a pair of white gates that were already open. There was a lake beside the house that was probably full of Pokémon waiting to be caught. Professor Magnolia's house was a two-storey building with purple roofs and a garage on one side of the house. The purple roofs reminded Ruby of the Research Lab back in Wedgehurst. Magnolia clearly had a thing for purple, didn't she? She also noticed the top floor had about five windows. How many rooms did the professor think she needed exactly? Did she have anyone living with her or was it just her? Ruby also saw that just outside the stone fence was a training area for Pokémon battling, identical to the one that she and Hop battled on at Leon's house. Speaking of the champion, he was chatting to the professor. Magnolia was an elderly woman who wore spectacles and carried a cane with the handle shaped like a bird. As if to emphasize the fact she was a professor, Magnolia wore a white lab coat. Hop wasn't here, which told Ruby she'd got to this place first. She decided she'd wait for him and wandered over to the nearby lake that she'd noticed on her way over.

The teen trainer didn't see any signs that said no fishing was allowed so she naturally assumed it was OK for her to do so. She approached the riverbank and got out a fishing rod from her bag that her mother had packed for her. It was surprisingly easy to pack a fishing rod as it was able to fold in multiple places so anyone who used it could store it away easily in a bag or case or whatever they were carrying items in. Ruby unfolded the fishing rod until it was fully extended and she threw the line in. She stood still and waited for a Pokémon to grab the line. Bugs and Chomps stood by patiently, wandering what she was going to fish up.

"Don't ya think we should look fer somethin' else?" Bugs asked, "We've got our water type already."

"True, but I won't get that far with just two Pokémon." Ruby replied, "And also having multiple Pokémon of the same type could be useful in fending off the gym leaders. For example, imagine how easy it would be to beat Kabu if I had a team of water types."

"Ah, dat's smart thinking dere." Bugs acknowledged, "But don't get too carried away. Trainers can only have six Pokémon on dem at a time, in case ya don't know."

"I do, which is why I plan to rotate my roster." Ruby replied, "Why just have six Pokémon when I can change things around and use multiple different ones over the course of my adventure?"

She then yelped in alarm as the fishing rod suddenly jerked and nearly pulled her over. Ruby pulled back, determined not to lose the Pokémon she'd caught. She furiously wound the line back in and pulled the hooked Pokémon up out of the water. There was a round of disappointed faces as what they saw was the most ridiculed Pokémon ever seen and owned by a trainer. Ruby had fished up a plain, simple old Magikarp. Magikarp were water-type Pokémon with red coloured scales, long, thin whiskers on either side of their mouth and yellow fins on the top and bottom. This Magikarp had white whiskers instead of yellow, which meant this one was female. Magikarp were the laughing stock of Pokémon, chastised for being useless in battle, mocked for their poor swimming abilities and overall having nothing of value to offer…except for one thing. The Magikarp dangled helplessly from Ruby's line.

"Um…hello? Please could you put me down?" she asked politely, "I feel like I'm about to be preyed upon dangling like this…"

"I say we throw it back." Bugs muttered, "We all know that Magikarp are completely worthless."

"Not so fast Bugs." Ruby said sternly as she put the Magikarp down on the riverbank, "I'm sure even you know full well that Magikarp has at least one thing that makes it not so useless after all."

Bugs snapped his fingers as he realized what Ruby meant.

"D'oh, silly Bugs, how could ya forget about what dey evolve into?" the Scorbunny sighed, "Yes, they evolve into Gyarados, a Pokémon that's certainly NOT worthless at all!"

"Exactly, so I won't throw it back." Ruby said, "We could do with a Gyarados on our team and if we have to have a Magikarp to evolve into one, I'm not going to complain."

She remained one time she'd watched the Gym Challenge on TV and seen a battle between a trainer that owned a Gyarados and another trainer that was fighting for the right to challenge Leon. She'd been wowed by the appearance of Gyarados, a big sea serpent with fearsome fangs and a vicious look in its eye. She'd also seen just how powerful these Pokémon were when the trainer had claimed victory with his Gyarados and had just fallen short of claiming the title when Leon defeated him. Just watching Gyarados in action made her desire to own one herself and now she'd fished up a Magikarp, she could evolve it into a Gyarados and make her wish come true! She knelt down by the Magikarp and patted it softly.

"I'm sorry if I disturbed you." she said gently, "I'm just a new Pokémon trainer looking for Pokémon. My name's Ruby Silverlock and I'd be happy if you came with me."

"Same here, it'd be great to have another water type!" Chomps cried.

The Magikarp stared incredulously at Ruby.

"You…you'd like to have me?!" she exclaimed, "Wow…I'm speechless. Nobody ever wants me! They always point and laugh at us Magikarps you know. "Oh look, it's a Magikarp, a Pokémon that can only flop around uselessly and do nothing else! Oh look, it's that Pokémon that knows Splash, an attack that does nothing!" I've heard it all and it's quite disheartening to be frank. You're the first trainer that's ever wanted me in my life!"

"Well let's just say I see the value in Magikarp and I'm not like those people who just run off to catch wild Gyarados instead." Ruby replied, "I'd rather earn that evolution than just catch one freshly evolved."

"I've wanted nothing more than to be a Gyarados." the Magikarp said dreamily, "Oh how mighty and powerful they are…if I was a Gyarados, nobody would ever laugh at me again! That's why I've yearned for a trainer who would take me in. If I become a trainer's Pokémon, I can get stronger and stronger and finally, I'll be able to evolve and I won't be a laughing stock anymore!"

"That's right." Ruby agreed, "I'll happily help you achieve your dream. Welcome to the team Ariel!"

The Magikarp beamed with delight.

"Oooooh, I even get a nickname like what some Pokémon give their trainers!" she squealed, "Thank you! Ariel's a lovely name for me!"

"I bet ya she starts singing "Part of yer Woild" now." Bugs snickered.

"So you've managed to fish up a Magikarp young lady." came a voice from behind Ruby, "I think you're the first trainer to come here who hasn't just thrown it back."

Ruby yelped in surprise and turned around to see who had said that. It was Professor Magnolia. She'd seen Ruby fishing and both she and Leon had decided to watch and see what she'd do with the Magikarp she'd caught. They were both surprised to see her willingly invite it to be part of the team. Ruby rubbed the back of her hair sheepishly, feeling guilty on having fished here without asking first.

"Oh gosh, I'm so sorry! Should I have asked first before fishing here?" Ruby asked worriedly.

"Oh take it easy there child, it's perfectly fine." Magnolia said dismissively, "My lake is open to any and all trainers to catch Pokémon from. I even welcome it as it's a great way to build up a team to get you started on your way. I must say my dear, I've never seen anyone willingly take a Magikarp with them. They always throw it back, but not you…"

Ruby smiled modestly.

"I'm the kind of girl that thinks any Pokémon can be worth something." she said, "And this one desires to become a Gyarados so I'm willing to help it."

"Oooh, such a kind heart from such a young girl…" Magnolia said approvingly, "You'll get far as a trainer with that kind of attitude."

Ruby was astonished. She hadn't expected to receive such high praise from the Pokémon Professor herself upon first meeting her! What a start to her journey this was turning out to be. Magnolia turned to Leon.

"Is this one of the two trainers you said had just received a Pokédex from my granddaughter?" the old professor asked.

"She is." Leon confirmed, "This is one of my neighbours, Ruby Silverlock. She's the eldest daughter of Annie Silverlock. She's also friends with my brother. I'm surprised he isn't here yet…" he added, noticing a distinct lack of Hop nearby.

"That's surprising to me as well. Usually he's the first to arrive anywhere!" Ruby blurted, "I hope he didn't get caught up in a Pokémon battle or got lost anywhere…"

She, Leon and Magnolia didn't have to worry any further for a lean bodied boy in a blue, fur-collared jacket came rocketing down the path towards them, his face frantic as if he was late for dinner. He stopped just by the gate to Magnolia's house and took a moment to catch his breath. He was panting heavily, having run quite a long way before getting here.

"…and here he is, right on cue." Ruby chuckled, "We can always expect Hop to show up anywhere."

"I say little bro, where were you?" Leon asked curiously.

"I was…looking for Pokémon…to…catch…but a lot of…them fled…before I could catch them!" Hop panted, "I…caught one…at least…but then I noticed what…time it was…so I ran here…hoping I wasn't too late!"

"It's OK, me and Magnolia were just chatting as we waited for you and Ruby to arrive." Leon said casually, "We were just talking about if she's unravelled the mysteries of the Dynamax phenomenon yet."

That immediately piqued Ruby's interest. So the professor was interested in Dynamaxing too. The whole Galar region was home to this fascinating phenomenon and yet nobody quite knew what it was about.

"Have you done so?" she asked eagerly.

"Oh goodness no, the whole thing is still full of questions." Magnolia replied, sounding annoyed to admit that she hadn't, "I'd hoped my granddaughter would take over research but…"

She cleared her throat and quickly changed the subject.

"Never mind that. You two probably know who I am already." Magnolia said, "Welcome, young trainers! Now come, let's head indoors."

Everyone headed inside to Magnolia's house, except for Chomps and Ariel. Ruby returned them to their Pokéball so they wouldn't take up so much space inside. They all stood together in the professor's kitchen, which had a round table and three chairs in the middle of the room and neatly tiled floors. Bugs was quick to notice baskets of vegetables sitting in one corner of the kitchen, one of them especially containing carrots but Ruby shook her head at him, silently telling him not to try and pinch any. Ruby could tell just from walking into this kitchen that Magnolia was a woman who liked to keep her living space tidy. There wasn't so much as a speck of dirt on the floor and the counters had no food stains, dust or anything around. If there was any doubt anyone lived here, the cleanliness of this kitchen would dispute those doubts. Magnolia spoke to Hop first.

"Why, Hop dear." she said, "I wondered when your time would come to set off on your own journey just like your brother did. It'll be interesting to see how you fare in comparison to him."

That made Hop feel a little uneasy. He had expected that people would start comparing him to Leon due to the two being brothers. He hoped he wouldn't look pathetic in comparison to his champion sibling. Magnolia turned to Ruby.

"And you, Ruby," she said, "I'm still quite impressed with your compassionate attitude towards that Magikarp you fished up. I imagine your desire to befriend any Pokémon you capture will get you far."

Ruby hugged herself shyly. She was still overwhelmed by getting to meet a famous Pokémon professor and receive such high praise from her upon first meeting.

"Leon tells me you two received a Pokédex each from Sonia." Magnolia continued, "I'm sure you'll have it completed in no time!"

"I guess…" Ruby said unsurely, "I mean, there's a lot of different species to catch so I can't imagine filling the Pokédex up will be easy…"

"I know it isn't dear, but a truly dedicated trainer will fill in as many spots as possible on their Pokédex." the professor said reassuringly.

"While we were waiting for you and Hop, me and Magnolia were talking about Dynamaxing." Leon cut in, "I assume you already know about it, right Ruby?"

"Duh, who doesn't?" Ruby retorted, "I've watched so many matches on TV that I couldn't possibly NOT know what Dynamaxing is!"

"Yes, quite." Leon said briefly, "The professor here has been researching the phenomenon for years and years. As she'll tell you, it takes proper understanding of the thing to use Dynamaxing to the fullest!"

"Like whenever you Dynamax your Charizard for example!" Hop cried enthusiastically.

Both he and Ruby had always enjoyed watching it Dynamax whenever Leon's matches had been on TV. Just the sight of the awesome, orange dragon-like Pokémon grow to immense size and display its raw power was enough to make them want to see their own Pokémon Dynamaxing. Magnolia shook her head, smirking teasingly at Leon.

"Oh there you are again Leon, always talking about Pokémon." she chuckled, "There are other things worth wondering too, you know. Like how many different types of tea there are."

"You'd have to be a sad person to ponder about that, no offence professor." Ruby said.

"Hey professor, can you do me a favour?" Hop cut in, "Help me convince Lee to endorse us for the Gym Challenge!"

Ruby recoiled. Hop was asking for an official endorsement for himself and her from the champion?! He was certainly selling the two of them big for this year's Gym Challenge! Magnolia seemed to be on Hop's side for this for she turned to Leon and asked:

"Oh Leon, why wouldn't you endorse them? They're both clearly showing much potential to be great trainers."

Leon looked thoughtful as he considered this.

"That's the thing professor, the two have only just started out as trainers," he answered, "There's still loads they don't know yet!"

"Dearie, I thought your dream was to have everyone in the Galar region become strong trainers. Isn't that right?" the spectacled woman noted.

"Well, yeah…you're not wrong." Leon admitted. He knew too well how often he'd talked about his dream and promoted it onto others, not just to be inspirational but because he genuinely believed in it.

"That goal's precisely the reason I gave them both Pokémon, in fact." he added.

He quickly made his decision and turned towards the two teens. They could feel their stomachs tingling with anticipation on what he was going to say.

"Right then, in that case…how about this?" he suggested, "Let's see if the two of you can show me such a brilliant battle that I'm left with no choice but to endorse you. What do you say?"

"I say we do it!" Hop cried eagerly, "I'm keen to show you and Ruby my new Pokémon I caught and how great they are!"

"You sure you're ready to get your bum kicked again so soon after I beat you earlier today?" Ruby teased, "I'd hate to make you look bad in front of your brother, the famous champion of Galar."

"This'll be different as my Pokémon have gotten stronger since then!" Hop said dismissively, "And if you win again, it'll just motivate me more to become even stronger so you'll be helping me there!"

He ran outside to get ready for his next match with his neighbour. Shrugging, Ruby decided not to keep him waiting and ran out after him. Leon and Magnolia followed the children over to the training area so they could see for themselves how this fight would go. Ruby and Hop took their positions on either side of the blue square, waiting for the signal to go. Hop was keen to start, barely able to keep himself still.

"Come at me with everything you have so we can prove to Lee that we've got what it takes!" he challenged.

"Would I do anything less?" Ruby scoffed, "Leon did tell me to be a real rival to you, which means I should do just that."

Leon smiled, glad to see that Ruby was taking his advice to heart.

"Listen up you two," he said, "The reason why I'm unbeatable is because I learn from every battle I see or take part in. That's how I've gotten to where I am today, so show me something good in this battle!"

"I'll try to!" Ruby laughed.

Hop drew out his first Pokéball and prepared to throw it.

"It's time for my legend to begin!" he declared.

Ruby giggled. She'd always liked the sheer enthusiasm and desire to prove himself to be amazing that her friend displayed. There was something quite endearing about a person who had so much confidence in what he could do and was just ready to give it their all.

"I've always gotta start with my first." Hop said with pride as he looked down at the Pokéball he had in his hand, "Wooloo, let's go!"

He threw the Pokéball and out came the sheep-like Wooloo once more. It bleated with delight, glad to be out to have another battle again. It quickly noticed that Ruby was its trainer's opponent and braced itself. It remembered losing to Ruby and Bugs earlier so it was anticipating what Ruby might bring to the table. The silver-haired teen drew out a Pokéball from her jacket pocket.

"You do love your Wooloo, don't you?" she said, "Now you and Wooloo can meet one of my new friends! Go Chomps!"

She threw the Pokéball and out came her first Pokémon she'd caught on her journey, Chomps the Chewtle. The little tortoise-like Pokémon stretched and yawned.

"Ooooeeee, that was a nice nap! Is it dinner time yet?" Chomps asked.

She then took notice of Hop and his Wooloo and quickly realized what was happening.

"Oh, it's another Pokémon battle. Ah well, I can show this trainer what I'm made of!" Chomps cried enthusiastically.

"You got a Chewtle? That's a good catch!" Hop complimented, "I hear they're strong water types that pack a mean bite!"

"You don't have to tell me that…" Ruby muttered, putting a hand over her bottom and wincing as their first meeting played in her head again.

"Whenever you're ready kids, let the battle begin!" Leon cried, swiping his hand down to signify the beginning of the match.

"Let's show Leon and the professor what we've learnt Chomps!" Ruby cried eagerly, "Use Water Gun!"

Chomps obeyed and opened her mouth wide. She fired a jet of water that built up in the back of her throat out and sprayed the Wooloo all over. The Wooloo stood its ground and tried its best to tank the hit. It did some damage but the Wooloo was far from down. The Water Gun had soaked its wool but otherwise, the Normal type Pokémon was unhurt. It shook itself dry and pawed the ground with its hooves.

"Wooloo can take a little shower." Hop gloated, "Use your Tackle attack!"

Wooloo sprung into action, moving at a surprising speed for a Pokémon that had such little legs. It then threw itself forwards into a roll to pick up more speed, hurling towards Chomps like a runaway boulder. Wooloo slammed hard into Chomps and sent her flying backwards but the reptilian water Pokémon took the hit. She landed on her stomach and got up again just as quickly, shaking her head and smirking as if the Wooloo had lightly slapped her rather than tackled her.

"It's cliché, I know but: is that all ya got?" she gloated.

"Chewtles can take a hit." Ruby explained, "I found out as such as we were training. It'll take more than a tackle attack to do any meaningful damage to Chomps."

"Then we'll just have to hit harder!" Hop declared, "Tackle her again Wooloo!"

"Use Water Gun Chomps!" Ruby ordered quickly.

Both Pokémon launched their attacks simultaneously. Chomps squirted water at Wooloo but the Wooloo took the shot and launched itself towards its opponent in another tackle attack. It rolled towards Chomps, pushing through the Water Gun like rock diverting a stream and it slammed into the water Pokémon a second time. Chomps cried out and fell over onto her back. How could a big ball of wool like that hit so hard?! The Wooloo shook itself dry and bleated with pride, glad it landed such a powerful hit. But despite that, Chomps stood up again and smirked, clearly still full of energy left to battle. Two tackles had barely even fazed her. Even Wooloo looked surprised at that. Hop wasn't willing to give up so easily. He was sure that Wooloo could finish the fight. He commanded it to tackle one last time but Ruby was ready for him.

"Launch yourself into the air with Water Gun and then use Bite!" she commanded.

Chomps grinned. During their training, she'd practiced doing a manoeuvre like that and had managed to get it down well. She aimed down at the ground and fired a Water Gun that launched the tiny tortoise into the