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Knights of Galar: A Pokemon Shield Nuzlocke Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Dynamax and Camping

The next morning dawned bright and sunny once more. The weather forecast had said it would remain as such for the rest of the week. That suited many Pokémon trainers for it meant they couldn't have picked a better time to go searching for new Pokémon. Great weather was the best time to catch Pokémon as most Pokémon enjoyed a nice sunny day. And Ruby and Hop were on their way to a place where many, many Pokémon resided.

Ruby had spent the night with barely a wink of sleep. It had annoyed her immensely as somehow, she was lying in one of Professor Magnolia's spare rooms tossing and turning while Hop, who was in a room next door to her, was out like a light and snoozing contently. And he snored so damn loudly too! She could hear him on the other side of the wall snoring his head off! Ruby suspected that a ghost Pokémon might creep up from under the floors and tell him to shut up as she was convinced the dead would rise from his loud snoring! But it wasn't just Hop that kept her awake. It was the bizarre moment that happened when she touched the Wishing Star. It still bothered her to no end why it happened and what it meant for her. She had been tempted to ring her mother and ask about it but had decided not to as it was quite late and she didn't want to disturb her or her sisters as they were settling down for bedtime. She decided to ring her the next day instead.

Try as she might, Ruby hadn't been able to get the scene out of her head. Why did her hair glow when she touched the Wishing Stone? Was it a sign that she wasn't what she thought? She even wondered for some bizarre moment if she might even be a crazy hybrid of a human and a Pokémon. Some Pokémon were able to glow after all, especially when they evolved. But the Wishing Star wasn't a Pokémon, it was the source of Dynamax energy so in all likelihood, it was connected to that. It was so puzzling to her and she just couldn't settle down for the night.

When morning had come, Ruby wasn't ready for it. Her eyes were dark and she was in one of those moods where all she wanted to do was sleep. But now of course was not the time. The Gym Challenge would start soon so she and Hop had to make their way over to Motostoke to sign up. Motostoke was a city that was a train ride away from Wedgehurst so she and Hop would go and catch one after breakfast. Reluctantly, Ruby had forced herself out of bed and joined Hop for breakfast. Sonia had come over last night to make dinner for everyone so she had made breakfast too. It was bacon, eggs and toast, one of Ruby's favourite breakfasts and despite her tiredness, eating all the food had perked her up a little. She now understood Leon's comment about liking the way she cooks as every mouthful had been delicious.

"Thank you Sonia, that was wonderful." she complimented.

"Glad I made it all to your liking." Sonia said sweetly.

"I trust you'll be wanting to make your way over to Wedgehurst to catch the train to Motostoke, children." Professor Magnolia commented, "So just before you go, I have something for you both."

Once everyone had cleared the table away, Ruby and Hop stood together as Magnolia handed them something that would benefit them greatly on their journeys as Pokémon trainers. She handed them a band with a Dynamax symbol in the centre. The band was white with a black centre and pink and blue highlights. Hop slipped his on his wrist eagerly, knowing exactly what it was and what it entailed.

"Awesome! You took the Wishing Stars and made Dynamax bands out of them!" he cried, "Now we'll be able to Dynamax our Pokémon!"

Ruby had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it would serve as a reminder on the strange nature of her hair. On the other hand, it would mean she could Dynamax her Pokémon and like Hop, she had longer to have the ability to do that with her Pokémon. Who wouldn't enjoy seeing their beloved Pokémon grow to gargantuan sizes and have increased power with which they could blow their enemies away? She noticed that her hair wasn't glowing this time despite holding the Wishing Star again. It was clear she had to have direct contact with the star for it to happen or maybe the Dynamax band was enough of a cover for it to have no effect. That was OK. It would be annoying if she walked around with it on her wrist and her hair just glowed continuously without pause. She slipped her Dynamax band on, feeling good that she'd now be able to join many other trainers in using a popular phenomenon for their Pokémon battles.

"Just imagine Bugs when he Dynamaxes. It'll be weird seeing him so big…" Ruby murmured to herself.

Once that was done, Ruby and Hop made their way back through Route 2 to return to Wedgehurst so they could catch their train to Motostoke. Although Ruby wanted to know more about the Wishing Star's effect on her yesterday, both she and Magnolia had agreed it wasn't something that should take priority over her Pokémon journey. Instead, Magnolia had the idea of taking just a lock of Ruby's hair to study it so she could go on her way and she'd be able to look into it. Ruby used a pair of scissors to cut a strand of her hair and handed it over to the professor.

"I'll call you as soon as I find anything out, dear." Magnolia promised.

"Thanks professor. I can relax a little knowing that you're on it." Ruby said graciously.

With that weight off her shoulders, Ruby was able to feel more at ease as she and Hop boarded the train for Wedgehurst. She was still tired from a lack of sleep last night so she would enjoy just getting to sit in a comfortable seat on a train and enjoy the ride instead of doing more walking. The train honked its horn and pulled away from the station. The trains in the Galar region were the modern electric trains that could take passengers from place to place in relatively good time. They also made it clear that they were trains that took people to places with Pokémon gyms and stadiums as the coaches even had a Pokéball shaped window on the opening doors. Ruby and Hop sat facing each other by a window so they could get a good view outside. They were looking at their Rotom phones to look up what was to come in the upcoming Gym Challenge and what there was to explore in the surrounding areas. Both of them were intrigued by the highly popular Wild Area that surrounded the city of Motostoke.

"It's so awesome to see that Motostoke is surrounded by such a vast area." Hop said as he read about the Wild Area on his phone, "It's a real sight. There's all sorts of wild Pokémon just wondering about, everywhere you look!"

"I hear there's a vast selection of species to choose from." Ruby said, equally as impressed, "My dad tells me that when he used to be a trainer, most Pokémon he caught came from the Wild Area. He found all sorts of Pokémon from Gastly to Butterfree to Gyarados and more! I can't wait to see what I can find there!"

She then yawned loudly, surprised as it had been one of those yawns that came about rather suddenly. Hop giggled.

"I think you'd be better off setting up camp and having a nap in your tent before you catch anything." he remarked, "Speaking of camping, I like the idea of setting up my own campsite and just letting my Pokémon play together. And who knows, maybe I'll be lucky and a Pokémon could walk by my campsite and join my team. Wouldn't that be cool?"

He didn't get a reply for Ruby promptly slumped down on the table and started snoring. Hop covered his mouth, trying not to laugh as he thought it'd be rude if he did. At least his friend had picked a good time to have a snooze since they wouldn't arrive in Motostoke for a while. It was about two hours away so Ruby could have a decent nap in that time. Hop kept his phone out and started scrolling for something to amuse himself while Ruby slept. The train went on its journey, smoothly rolling along the tracks through the beautiful Galarian countryside and providing a fantastic view for the passengers to see.

"Ruby, Ruby! Wake up!" Hop cried, shaking the silver-haired teen vigorously.

Ruby muttered and sat up in her seat, stretching and rubbing her eyes as she slowly came out of her sleep and back into the real world. She was annoyed at having been woken abruptly like this but she wasn't in any mood to complain.

"Hrrmm…are we there yet?" she mumbled.

"No, we've stopped at the station for the Wild Area for some reason." Hop explained, "I'm gonna ask what's going on."

Ruby's eyes widened in surprise. What were they doing at the Wild Area? Weren't they supposed to be going to Motostoke? She and Hop departed from the train and headed into the station. Both of them noticed a stray Wooloo wandering across the platform, wondering where its herd had got to. They approached a smart looking man in a green waistcoat and grey shirt. He had neatly combed hair and a beard. He saw the two and gave them a friendly smile.

"And what can I do for you two?" he asked politely.

"Hey, Mr. Station Master! Isn't this the Wild Area?" Hop asked, "What've we stopped here for?"

"Me and my friend have to sign up for the Gym Challenge in Motostoke." Ruby explained.

"I'm sorry to tell you that the train is halted, due to a flock of Wooloo on the tracks." the Station Master explained, "Blasted little Wooloos are always wandering into places they shouldn't be…if you wish to get to Motostoke, you'll have to travel through the Wild Area. I imagine you Pokémon trainers will find that more a blessing than a curse." he said, winking.

Ruby and Hop couldn't have agreed more with him.

"If anything, this works out for us." Ruby said excitedly, "We can catch ourselves some new Pokémon while we're out there and have ourselves a team ready for the Pokémon gyms!"

"I was thinking the same thing, mate!" Hop exclaimed, "Let's not waste a single moment! Let's get out there and catch some Pokémon!"

Just the thought of being in an area where there were plenty of Pokémon to catch had brought new energy to Ruby. That and her nap on the train had made her feel refreshed and ready to face the day, whatever it had in store for her. Both she and Hop exited the station, leaving behind a very amused Station Master.

"Ah those young Pokémon trainers. I never get tired of the endless enthusiasm and excitement they carry with them…" he said thoughtfully.

As soon as Ruby and Hop left the station, they were greeted with a fantastic view that stretched out from all around. The Wild Area was a paradise for Pokémon of all breeds and types with huge grasslands, plenty of trees to climb, make a home in or roost on, massive lakes to swim in and all sorts of different flowers and other plant life to add some extra colour to the scene. Up ahead was a huge staircase that lead to the entrance to Motostoke and a large bridge stretched out from one side of the city to another. What the children could see for the moment wasn't even all of the Wild Area. There was much more beyond it. Ruby was so spellbound by the incredible view that she instantly snapped a few pictures with her phone.

"Oh just wait till I show mum and my sisters these pictures!" she said happily, "This something I've always wanted to see, just a natural habitat for Pokémon in all its beauty!"

"I know, it's quite a sight isn't it?" Hop agreed, "I know Motostoke's just over there but I kinda want to hang around this place for a bit. It'll be great to just enjoy the view while we catch some Pokémon."

"I almost don't want to as it'll feel wrong for us to disturb the peace like that." Ruby said, half-joking, "But it'll be great for Bugs, Chomps and Ariel to have some new friends."

Before the two could set off into the Wild Area, they were interrupted by the arrival of someone they hadn't expected to see again so soon. They heard a voice call to them and turned around to see the professor's assistant herself, Sonia, approaching them. That was interesting. What would Sonia be doing here? She walked up to the two, smiling her sweet smile again. Ruby loved that about Sonia. It was always great to see someone who could look so friendly and cheerful no matter what the situation was.

"Hey you two! Glad I could catch you both before you went into the Wild Area." Sonia said brightly.

"What are you doing here?" Ruby asked curiously, "Did the professor get the results about my hair already?"

"Oh no, she wouldn't have sent me all the way out here to tell you that when she could've just called you." Sonia said quickly, "Though it is about her in a way. She gave me a proper earful, in her own way…"

She casually fingered a lock of her ginger hair as she spoke. Ruby had noticed it was something she did a lot of when she talked.

"Those two young trainers are setting out on a journey, but what are you doing with your life?" the lab assistant recounted, "That's what she was saying to me. So that's why I'm here, to do something with my life. I'd been quite curious about that Pokémon you two met in the forest. So I thought I could look into it and the timing works out fine! If I discover something really huge, then maybe even Gran will admit I've got some talent!"

That piqued Ruby's interest immensely. The strange Pokémon in Slumbering Weald had been a fascinating and also surreal experience so to hear that Sonia was taking an interest in looking into it was going to be intriguing.

"I support you all the way Sonia!" Ruby said optimistically, "I bet you'll do a great job on discovering more about that Pokémon."

"Aww you're too kind, really." Sonia said modestly, "It's been ages since I've last been out on the field so it'll be fun to be out here looking into things and getting to be around Pokémon again."

"While you do that, I'm off to stick my head into as many of those red glowing dens as I can!" Hop cried, clearly keen to get on his way, "I'm gonna battle the snot out of as many Dynamax Pokémon as I can and fill in another page in the tale of my legend!"

"I hope that page won't talk about how you got stepped on by one of them." Ruby teased.

"I won't get stepped on! Just you wait and see!" Hop retorted.

He took to his heels and darted off into the Wild Area. Sonia and Ruby watched him leave, shaking their heads in pity. Hop was a good kid and could potentially be a great trainer, but at times it wouldn't kill him to take things steady for once and not dart off like a mad man. Sonia especially looked annoyed by his impulsiveness.

"That boy…Dynamax Pokémon are really on another level, you know!" she muttered.

"He may be impatient and hot-headed, but I'm convinced he'll be fine." Ruby said faithfully, "He's not an idiot after all."

"In any case, I recommend Dynamaxing your own Pokémon whenever you come up against any Dynamax Pokémon in the dens." Sonia explained, "If you see any red lights coming up from any of the dens in the Wild Area, you'll know there's a Dynamax Pokémon inside. Also, here's a little something for you."

The lab assistant handed Ruby a small, white coloured device that was shaped like a capsule of some kind. It looked as if it could open up and fit a Pokéball inside. Ruby looked at it quizzically and Sonia quickly explained before she could ask the inevitable "What does this do?" question.

"It's a Pokémon Box Link. As you know, you can only carry 6 Pokémon at a time so if you have too many, your extras go into a box the Professor has for each trainer. This device will provide a link to said boxes and you can switch out or call back in Pokémon you ask for. It's very simple to operate. You just open it up, put a Pokéball inside and press a button to send it to box and it'll teleport instantly. It's a handy gadget that can save time going to Pokémon Centres to get out and put away new Pokémon."

"Wow, that is amazing!" Ruby exclaimed, "In other regions, this sort of thing isn't possible!"

"That's Galar for you, we're a step ahead of most regions." Sonia said with pride, "I've kept you held up long enough now so just go wild and catch as many Pokémon as you can! You can even fill in your Pokédex with every new catch you make."

"I'll have as much fun as I can! Thanks Sonia! I'll see you at Motostoke!" Ruby said, waving goodbye as she ran off to enjoy the Wild Area, "Good luck with your investigations!"

Sonia waved goodbye to Ruby and watched her run off into the distance. Once she'd gone, she adjusted the lapels of her jacket and set off herself. No use standing around when she had her investigation to carry out.

"Now where'd be a good place to start…" she murmured as she made her way.

It was a rarity to see such beauty and Pokémon living their lives out in nature without any battles to be seen. As Ruby travelled through the Wild Area, her eyes were unable to keep darting from one place to the other as there was so much to see. No matter where one looked, it was impossible not to see at least one Pokémon about. There was a wide variety of species just co-existing peacefully in this vast area of nature. She saw swarms of Combees led by their leader, a Vespiquen, buzzing in the fields looking for flowers to pollinate. There was a Lapras and schools of Goldeen swimming in the lakes, the Water Pokémon looking so content just gently cruising through the water. A few Butterfree fluttered overhead, looking for a place to land and find berries to eat. Ruby even spotted some Growlithe and Vulpix hiding in the grass, waiting for their prey to come. It was incredible to see so many Pokémon in this place and living in perfect harmony. It seemed almost cruel to contemplate catching any of the Pokémon living here.

The leather-clad teen drew her Pokéball out and threw them all into the air. Bugs, Chomps and Ariel all emerged from inside their Pokéballs and gave a stretch, glad to have some fresh air and to walk alongside their trainer. They took a look around and were just as spellbound as Ruby was to be walking around such a beautiful place.

"Wow…now dis is what I call a nice place!" Bugs exclaimed, "I wish I could've lived here before I got caught!"

"Those lakes look so inviting." Ariel said happily, "I wonder if there are any Gyarados in them?"

"So many Pokémon around…and I bet we're gonna be fighting them!" Chomps said eagerly.

"True that." Ruby confirmed, "As cruel as it'll feel to take them away from such a nice place, it'll be great to have some new friends along the way. And you three could do with the training too. Once we're finished here, I'm off to Motostoke to sign up for the Gym Challenge so you'll all have to be ready for it."

"N'yah, I bet we're strong enough already." Bugs said confidently, "We can take on any gym."

"You may feel that way but you shouldn't get full of yourself." Ruby warned, "Pokémon Gyms are run by expert trainers with powerful Pokémon so you can't be too confident in yourself. I'd prefer to train you all, knowing that I'm ready for anything instead of just winging it and hoping I succeed."

"I dunno Ruby, some trainers are actually able to get far through luck alone." Ariel noted, "I know I've heard stories about some kid in the Kanto region who was like that, though his luck didn't really hold out as he lost every region he participated in sans the Orange Islands and Alola…"

"My point exactly." Ruby cut in, "I'm not going to be that kind of trainer. I'd rather win because I'm a great trainer, not because I'm lucky. So whenever you're ready, we can…"

She was then cut off as her hair suddenly glowed again. Unknown to her, she and her Pokémon had walked by a Dynamax Den as they were talking and there was Dynamax activity going on inside. Chomps and Ariel hadn't seen what happened yesterday so they were surprised to see this happen. Ruby gasped, curious why her hair was glowing again.

"What is it this time?" she asked, "I thought the Dynamax Band would stop the Wishing Star from reacting to my hair!"

"I don't think it's da Wishing Star doc, I think it's reacting to dat." Bugs suggested, pointing at the den.

Ruby spotted it and saw that, like Sonia had said, a red light was coming up from inside. The den had a rocky ring surrounding the hole that was the entrance to the den itself. It made sense her hair was reacting this way. Dynamax energy came from the Wishing Stars themselves so being near a den with Dynamax energy coming out of it would naturally have the same effect. This made Ruby feel a little grateful for this weird gift of hers. At least it made finding Dynamax Pokémon easier as her glowing hair would signify whenever she was close to one.

"So Dynamax energy in general seems to be what triggers this reaction." Ruby murmured, "Ah well, as weird as it is that I can do that, it's proving to be helpful. Come on guys, there'll be a Dynamax Pokémon down there!"

"Y-you mean…w-w-we're g-going down that hole…t-t-to fight g-giant Pokémon?!" Ariel exclaimed.

"What are you so worried about? It'll be awesome!" Chomps cried excitedly, "We can truly test our skills against a Pokémon that's Dynamaxed and Ruby has that band thingy that trainers use to Dynamax their Pokémon so we'll be able to go giant too!"

That didn't really comfort Ariel, especially as she was still at that sad, pathetic stage of a Magikarp's life where they couldn't do anything except Splash. She wouldn't be of any help. But the red koi Pokémon reluctantly follower her trainer and Pokémon as they lowered themselves into the den to battle the Dynamax Pokémon. The entrance to the den was big enough for them all to crawl down into and it was only a short tunnel that led all the way into a huge open area underground that made it easy to see how Pokémon could Dynamax here. The area was massive, big enough to contain a castle, and there was Dynamax energy coming from all around the den. Ruby's hair was still glowing brightly, her whole head almost entirely a white ball of light sitting on a pair of shoulders. She and her Pokémon stepped out into the open area and saw where the Dynamax energy was coming from.

Standing before them, flapping its wings and cooing deep, thunderous coos that only sounded that way because of its increased size…was a giant Pidove. Pidove were Flying type Pokémon originally found in the Unova region. They were small Pokémon that looked like pigeons, hence their names, and were often considered the Unovan equivalent to the common Pidgey species from the Kanto region. Pidove weren't serious threats and were considered relatively dim-witted Pokémon but this wasn't an ordinary Pidove. It was enormous thanks to being Dynamaxed and Ruby knew that if it wanted to, it could squash her flat with a single stomp of its feet. It was simultaneously an incredible and terrifying sight to witness this phenomenon. Nevertheless, Ruby was keen to get into the fight. Her first Dynamax Pokémon battle and she'd only just entered the Wild Area! How many trainers could say they had such an amazing start to their journeys? Ariel looked scared whereas Chomps and Bugs were ready to fight.

"N'yah, it's only a giant Pidove. It could've been worse." Bugs sneered.

"It'll still be worth a catch as flying type Pokémon have their uses." Ruby said determinedly, "Bugs, do you want to fight this Pidove?"

"Ya bet I do, doc!" Bugs cried, "I've always wanted ta see what Dynamaxing would be like! Let's have it!"

Glad he was keen to battle, Ruby activated her Dynamax band. It was a really simple procedure. She just held Bugs's Pokéball in her hand, touched the black centre of the Dynamax band to turn it on and waited as the energy of the Wishing Star swirled around her wrist and into Bugs's Pokéball. She'd watched plenty of Dynamaxing on TV so she knew how it worked. It was an awesome sight to see the purple and red energy swirling around her like a magic trick was being performed. It was incredible seeing it on TV but in real life, it was a different feeling altogether. The Pokéball in her hand grew a couple of sizes so now it was the size of a bowling ball in her hands. She then held the oversized Pokéball overhead and threw it into the air. It landed just above Bugs and then the magic truly happened. Ruby watched with her heart fluttering with amazement as the tiny Scorbunny grew in size. He was now several feet taller than he used to be, towering over his teammates and Ruby. He looked big enough to smash through a house. Bugs looked himself over, equally as amazed as Ruby was with his enhanced size. Not only that but the Dynamax energy surging through his body made him feel like a true powerhouse, like he could wrestle a Charizard and beat it with ease. His voice was also deeper too, every word booming like thunder as he spoke.

"Wow, dis is more amazing than I ever thought it would be!" he boomed.

"I so wanna have a go at that next!" Chomps cried, her voice barely above a whisper.

"This is so cool!" Ruby gasped, "Ooooh, if only my sisters could see this now!"

She then drew out her Rotom phone to see if there was anything different about the Dynamaxed Bugs. The phone displayed his increased power and also informed her of his enhanced move set. His Ember had now become Max Flare, his Double Kick was now Max Knuckle and his Quick Attack was a Max Strike. This always happened when Pokémon Dynamaxed, their attacks changed into more enhanced, powerful versions of themselves. Ruby was ready for this battle. With Bugs all Dynamaxed and more powerful than before, she was confident this Pidove wouldn't stand a chance.

"Let's make our first Dynamax battle one to remember!" Ruby cried, "Bugs, use Max Flare on it!"

"Hope ya got some Burn Heal on ya, doc, cause dis is gonna hurt!" Bugs bellowed.

He opened his mouth and a huge ball of fire began to build up in his throat. The Pidove stood its ground, refusing to be intimidated. Bugs unleashed the attack, sending an enormous sphere of flames towards Pidove. Ruby could easily imagine an attack like that setting an entire forest on fire, never mind a few trees. The fireball hit the Pidove and it squawked in pain, staggering backwards and nearly falling over as it was hit. The attack did a lot of damage and the Pidove, despite its Dynamaxed state, was barely able to stand. Bugs whooped with joy, impressed with his incredible power.

"Whoo-hoo! Dat was awesome!" he boomed, "I've never felt so alive! I bet I could beat Leon himself with dis kind of power!"

"Don't get too cocky Bugs. It's not down yet." Ruby warned.

The Pidove indeed showed signs it was ready to fight some more. It flapped its wings and swooped towards Bugs, aiming to peck his face off. Ruby was so surprised that she fell over on her bottom. Who knew that all it took for a Pidove to suddenly become terrifying was to be a giant! The Pidove hit Bugs full on with its beak, making him cry out and fall over heavily onto his back. Due to his enhanced size, his fall made the ground shake. The Pidove grinned with delight, glad to have gotten a hit on his opponent. It then landed and flapped its wings again. It didn't take flight this time, but its wings were starting to create huge torrents of wind that threatened to blow everyone way. The wind swept over Ruby and her Pokémon, pushing against them like hundreds of invisible hands trying to shove them away. Ruby dug her hands into the ground to hold on tight, Chomps sunk her teeth into it and Ariel flopped in front of Ruby so she could hold onto her and not be blown away.

Bugs picked himself up, holding a paw in front of his face to try and put up with the winds blowing over him. He imagined the Pidove was doing a Max Airstream attack, a move only available to Pokémon that Dynamaxed while knowing a flying attack. He refused to let himself be blown away by the gusts of wind. He lowered his head and fired another Max Flare attack. Pidove's Max Airstream wasn't strong enough to stop the colossal fireball from hurling towards it and slamming into it. The Pidove let out a deep caw of pain as the fireball hit it and sent it flying backwards, leaving a few burns on its feathers. The Pidove collapsed onto its back and groaned, unable to fight anymore. Ruby picked herself up, relieved the winds had stopped. She could see the Pidove was down so she seized her chance.

She drew out a spare Pokéball and activated the Dynamax band again. Dynamax energy spiralled around her hand and made the Pokéball grow in size just as it did to Bugs's Pokéball. Once that was done, she threw the giant Pokéball at the giant Pidove. The ball opened up and transformed the Pidove into a mass of energy. Then it swallowed up the energy and closed, falling to the ground heavily. Ruby watched with her stomach tingling as the ball began to shake. It shook once, then twice and then three times. And then finally…nothing else happened. The ball shrunk down to its normal size and stayed closed, symbolizing a true capture. Now that was done, Ruby's hair stopped glowing as there was no Dynamax energy left in the den with the Pidove captured, not that she noticed as she was too pleased with her capture. She let out a shriek of delight and jumped up and down with excitement.

"YES! Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes! I did it! I fought my first Dynamax Pokémon and I caught it!" she hollered, "Wow, this is too cool for words!"

She ran over to collect the Pokéball while Bugs shrunk back down to normal size, the Dynamax energy depleted now that the battle was over. He sighed disappointedly as he looked over himself.

"Huh…I really enjoyed being a giant." he muttered.

"Don't worry, there's always next time!" Chomps said reassuringly.

"And you'll get to do it in the gyms no doubt." Ariel pointed out.

Bugs nodded in agreement. This wouldn't be his only time getting to Dynamax so he would get to enjoy being a giant again. Ruby came back to her team with her new Pokémon and she held her Rotom phone over it to see what it had to offer. Despite being in a Pokéball, the Rotom phone could still scan Pokémon. As it listed the results, Ruby's eyes lit up with interest.

"Looks like we got ourselves a good one." she said to herself, "Not bad for a first catch in a Dynamax den!"

She and her Pokémon left the den, knowing that there was plenty more to discover in the Wild Area. What they'd seen was just the start of many more Dynamax dens to discover and find Pokémon in…

After their first ever Dynamax encounter, Ruby and her friends and spent a good hour or two training her Pokémon up some more. Given the vast multitude of species available in the Wild Area, there was no shortage of opponents to test their mettle against, especially with all sorts of types on offer. Bugs had had an easy time taking out Combees with his Ember attacks and upon searching in other Dynamax dens, they'd been able to find some useful items like EXP candies and Technical Records, or TRs for short. EXP candies were said to help Pokémon level up quicker and TRs were discs that could teach Pokémon other types of attacks they could use. Ruby had especially been interested in a TR that was labelled "Dazzling Gleam". It was a Fairy-type attack and she knew it would come in handy when fighting against Dark, Fighting or Dragon type Pokémon. She'd also found some berries that would be great to eat whenever it was time for it and some treasures that she could sell to make some money for buying more potions and Pokéballs.

There was also more Pokémon that would end up joining Ruby's team as they discovered more of the Wild Area. In a different Dynamax den, she and her friends had found a giant Caterpie. Caterpie were Bug type Pokémon that resembled caterpillars. They were very common in the Kanto and Johto regions and were most people's first catches whenever they started their Pokémon journeys. There was something a little bit odd about this Caterpie though. Ruby noticed that it appeared to be carrying a makeshift cane in one of its stubby limbs and it was also behaving very strangely.

"Ah, I have a new visitor to my lair! Maybe I can use this one to get myself Orbeetle and Meowth Noir's Miraculouses at last!" the Caterpie boomed, his voice amplified by his Dynamax state, "One Bug Bite on you and you'll be my little akuma villain subservient to my commands!"

Ruby and Bugs stared incredulously at the Caterpie. Whatever it was rambling about, they could clearly see it wasn't all there.

"He's crazier than a Spinda dat's been in a washing machine and spun around for an hour!" Bugs mocked.

"I think that Dynamax energy is getting to his head a bit." Ruby said grimly, "Although he does remind me of a supervillain I saw on TV once. It wasn't all that great and it really went downhill after the first season but I digress. As crazy as this Caterpie is, I'm going to catch it anyway. My mum would love it if I had a Butterfree on my team. She LOVES Butterfree."

Bugs shrugged. If his trainer wanted that Caterpie, he'd get it for her. It was a very short confrontation as Ruby Dynamaxed Bugs and had him use a couple of Max Flares on the Caterpie to defeat it. That made another new addition to the team that Ruby couldn't wait to use.

After sending the Caterpie over to Professor Magnolia until it was the right time to use it, she and her Pokémon went out into another Dynamax den. This one was located near some old ruins that seemed to be surrounded by Ghost type Pokémon. And surely enough, the Pokémon in the den they went into was a Ghost type also. It was a Gastly, a Ghost/Poison type Pokémon that looked like a floating black ball with eyes and a mouth and was surrounded by purple gas. They had a reputation for being creepy and could evolve into powerful Pokémon like Haunter and Gengar. This Gastly took note of her visitors with a blunt expression as if this was just another day in the park for her. She had also been the first Dynamax Pokémon to not display any hostile behaviour.

"Hey, what's up?" the Gastly said, her voice deep, emotionless and gravelly.

"Hello there. I'm Ruby Silverlock and I'm a budding Pokémon trainer." Ruby introduced herself, "Do forgive us for disturbing you.

"Meh, it's OK." the Gastly said casually, "I've been bored out of my mind down here in this den to be honest. I'm all big and Dynamaxed but I barely get anyone down here to challenge me. I've been looking forward to a fight and maybe a trainer I could travel with. I hear travelling with a trainer can be fun."

"Well if you want, you can come with us." Ruby offered, "I'm on my way to sign up for the Gym Challenge when I'm done here so you can bet there'll be some exciting things coming up for you."

"That sounds cool." the Gastly said, though her expression didn't change, "Though you're gonna have to beat me in a battle first. I can't come with you like this."

Ruby understood and she sent Chomps out to do the deed. Chomps knew Bite, a Dark type attack that was super-effective against Ghosts and to make her even stronger, Ruby Dynamaxed Chomps so she could fight the giant Gastly. The tiny Chewtle was now a giant and she looked over herself in amazement.

"Wow, this is so, so cool!" she cried, her voice echoing around the den, "I'm a giant! I love this!"

"Yeah, yeah, we get it. Dynamaxing is sooooooooo cool and everything, can we just fight already?" the Gastly muttered.

The fight didn't last long. Chomps used a few Max Darkness attacks on the Gastly and it was taken down in a few hits. Once that was done, Ruby caught the Dynamaxed Pokémon. She released her from her ball and patted the Gastly softly.

"I hope Chomps didn't hurt you too much." she said apologetically.

"It's fine. Honestly." the Gastly said nonchalantly, her voice no longer booming as she was back to normal size, "I've been bored of being Dynamaxed all the time so it's nice to be back to normal for once. I personally think being big is overrated."

"If you say so." Ruby said with a smile, "I'm glad to have you on the team, Raven."

"Is that what you're calling me?" the Gastly asked, "Raven…heh, it's cool I guess. Kinda makes me sound dark and mysterious."

Ruby beamed with delight, glad to have another new team member. With four Pokémon on hand and two ready for use when she got to the gym, she felt like she was doing well for herself.

But not everything in the Wild Area went smoothly. While training had gone well for the most part, there had been two occasions which nearly ended disastrously. One such case was when Ruby came across a wild Roselia. Roselia was a Grass-type Pokémon with roses for hands, one red and one blue. It was tiny and looked very unimpressive. That proved to be a mistake for Ruby underestimated this Roselia and nearly lost Bugs for it. She sent him out, immediately assuming he'd win this easily due to type advantage. Even Bugs looked at Roselia as easy prey.

"A sentient rose bush? Dis will be a snap!" he declared.

Ruby commanded him to use Ember on the Roselia. But despite the attack being super-effective…it barely did any damage! The Roselia even looked mildly inconvenienced than hurt by it! Bugs could hardly believe his eyes. How could a Grass type this weak somehow be taking the hit? Roselia retaliated by using Mega Drain, a Grass attack that drained the health of a Pokémon fighting it. Bugs grunted as a wave of energy leapt out from his body and into the Roselia, effectively recovering it from the hit it had received earlier. Bugs tried another Ember but it once again did very little damage. The Roselia then added insult to injury by using Leech Seed, another attack that drained health. With this and its Mega Drain attack, Bugs was struggling to stay in the fight and while Ruby had tried to keep him going with some potions, it was proving futile as they were struggling to keep up with the Roselia's constant energy draining. No matter how many times Bugs would land a blow, its two attacks would keep draining his health, making this fight effectively a stalemate. Ruby also didn't have a limitless supply of potions so she couldn't keep this up forever. Reluctantly, Ruby made a tough but otherwise sensible decision.

"Bugs, we have to flee! We can't win this fight!" she cried.

Bugs hated to admit it, but Ruby was right. If they kept going, the Roselia would soon turn the tables and drain him dry. He gave the Roselia a death glare, the kind that said "Just you wait, I'll be back for you!" and he scampered away as Ruby took to her heels and ran. The Roselia just smiled smugly, glad to have stood its ground and sent the puny little rabbit packing. Maybe then, arrogant trainers wouldn't assume it was easy prey due to being a Grass type!

The second case had been when Ruby came across a Mudbray, a Ground type Pokémon that resembled a donkey. It looked rather dopey and not much of a threat so Ruby sent Chomps out to deal with it. Water was super effective against Ground after all. But as Ruby told Chomps to use Water Gun, they quickly saw it wasn't as easy as they thought. The Water Gun hit the Mudbray…but like with Roselia, it barely even hurt it. The donkey like Pokémon became enraged by the attack and retaliated with Bulldoze, a powerful Ground attack that sent Chomps flying backwards. The water Pokémon was more surprised than hurt at the Mudbray's power and how it resisted her Water Gun. Then something else happened. The Mudbray glowed orange for a brief second and began braying angrily. Ruby looked at her Rotom phone to see what that had been about. It made her heart sink to see what had happened.

"Its defence just increased!" the teen trainer exclaimed, "It's going to be even harder to defeat!"

This was true. Mudbray had an ability called Stamina. Whenever it was hit by an attack, its defence would increase as a result.

"So what do we do Ruby?" Chomps asked frantically.

Ruby knew there was only one thing to do. Like with the Roselia, she was forced to retreat. What good would fighting the Mudbray do if its defence would just go higher and higher while it could continue hitting them hard continuously? Chomps would go down before they would even shave its health down to half. The Mudbray brayed in triumph, glad to see its attackers fleeing like cowards.

After those two close calls, Ruby ran a hand through her hair and sighed heavily.

"I think we should take a break." she muttered, "No more training for now. You should all have a rest."

"Glad to hear it." Chomps said, "I could do with something to eat as well. I'm starving!"

"I'm feelin' peckish myself." Bugs admitted.

The next few minutes were spent setting up camp so everyone could chill out and have a rest. Ruby had been given some camping equipment when her mother had packed her bag for her and she was glad to put it to use. She put up a red and black tent that had a Pokéball symbol on the opening flaps to lie down in and got out a couple of toys for the Pokémon to play with. She had a ball to play fetch or catch with and a stick with a bell on to encourage chasing and catching with. She threw the ball out for Bugs, Raven, Chomps and Ariel to play with while she made lunch for everyone. There were campers in the Wild Area selling ingredients for curries and she'd bought a few to try.

Mixing in a few berries she'd picked from berry trees around the area, she got out a packet of pre-cooked burgers and put them into the curry pot. She'd learnt how to make curries from her parents when she was younger so she was glad to be able to put those skills to use now. She fanned the flames to get the right temperature and stirred the curry to get all the right flavours out. The smell that drifted up from the pot was incredible, a delicious mixture of berry flavours and cooking meat. As Ruby made the curry, she watched Bugs, Chomps and Ariel playing catch with each other. One would throw or hit the ball to the other and they would catch it and throw it back. Raven just floated there, not interested in joining in. It was clear she was an anti-social Pokémon but hopefully, that would change. Ruby decided to give her at least something to do by handing her the Dazzling Gleam TR she'd found earlier.

"Use this. You might be able to learn a useful move out of it." she said.

Raven took the TR and watched as the disc displayed a holographic screen that contained a tutorial on how to use the move. Raven gave a small smile of interest.

"That'll be neat to use." she said, "It'll help me deal with those pesky Dark types that threaten me."

Half an hour later, the curry had fully cooked and Raven had finished with the TR. It self-destructed after it had been used; a sad side effect of TRs as they were one use only but Raven now was able to use the Dazzling Gleam attack. The Pokémon gathered around as Ruby served up the curry. She plated up a portion for herself and for each of her Pokémon.

"This is one of my favourite recipes, Spicy Burger Steak Curry." she announced, "I hope you like it!"

She spooned up some curry and popped it into her mouth. The taste was sensational with the right amount of spiciness to go with the burger chunks, sauce and rice to make it a culinary delight. Ruby couldn't be happier with how it had turned out. Her Pokémon took their first mouthfuls too and were astounded by how delicious it was.

"Wow…dis is really good doc!" Bugs exclaimed.

"That's the best thing I've ever tasted!" Chomps cried, digging into her curry as if keen to eat it all now before anyone else could.

"Better than crummy seaweed, that's for certain." Ariel agreed.

"It's not bad honestly." Raven said casually.

Ruby beamed, flattered they all liked her curry so much. Her family would be happy to hear that her Pokémon were appreciating her curry making skills.

"Thank you so much. I'm glad you like it." Ruby said graciously, "I can make other recipes than just this one so there'll be plenty more to try."

"If dey're all as good as dis one, I'm up for it!" Bugs said happily.

"Glad you are." Ruby replied, "But while we're all here, we need to have a talk."

She and her Pokémon finished their meals first before Ruby said what she had to say.

"Those last two encounters have me re-evaluating my approach to Pokémon training." Ruby began, "I went into these battles thinking we had the advantage because of type. But I've forgotten one big thing regarding Pokémon battles…it's not always about type. It's about level and power too. That Roselia and that Mudbray were too powerful for us to handle and I nearly lost you and Chomps in those fights." she said, looking at Bugs and Chomps.

"Don't act like it's your fault Ruby. We're too blame for not being strong enough." Chomps said, hoping to take the weight off Ruby's shoulders.

"No Chomps, it's because I got too cocky." Ruby retorted, "I'm training you all to be the best you can be, right? Well that doesn't mean I should take on any Pokémon willy-nilly and think I can win! You'll all get stronger if you train hard and well, but we still have to be mindful of Pokémon that are just too much to handle. Neither of you will improve if we have to run away because our opponent's too powerful!"

"So you're basically saying we should be more cautious in future." Raven acknowledged, "That's a good strategy. It always helped me out in the past."

"Thanks Raven." Ruby said appreciatively, "I'm very sorry I put you and Chomps through that Bugs." she continued, looking back to her starter and first catch, "It was reckless of me and it could've cost you both your lives. From now on, I'm not going to throw you all at any Pokémon I see. We have to choose our opponents wisely if we're to get through this and be strong enough to win the Gym Challenge and make it to the Champion Cup to face Leon. Are you all with me?"

"As long as it means we don't get stomped by something too powerful for us, I'm with ya on dat strategy." Bugs said approvingly, "I'm so glad ya care about us so much, Ruby."

"Well of course I do! You're my Pokémon, my new friends to battle with and bond with!" Ruby said happily, "You mean as much to me as my family does! I don't know what I'd do if I lost any of you due to me being reckless!"

She then gathered her Pokémon around for a group hug to emphasize this point. It was a loving, warm feeling of delight they could all feel from that hug. Even Raven didn't seem to mind it. It was the perfect symbol of a beautiful friendship that had been forged between this single trainer and her four Pokémon she had with her. They broke up the hug and Ruby got to her feet.

"Now then, who's ready to train some more before we head into Motostoke?" she asked.


Evening was approaching by the time Ruby left the Wild Area. With her new strategy in mind to not be reckless and choose opponents more carefully, she and her Pokémon had an easier time in battle and had no more close calls. Everybody was up to the same level and Chomps and Ariel had learned some new moves. Chomps could use Protect, a defensive move that stopped anything from doing damage, and Ariel was able to use Tackle, finally giving her an offensive move so she wasn't stuck using Splash all the time. They had also been in one last Dynamax den and caught a giant Hoothoot whilst in there. Hoothoot was an owl-like Pokémon with a spherical body, tiny wings and enormous red eyes with black features that made it look almost like it was wearing spectacles. They were indigenous to the Johto region but were common over in Galar too.

One last thing Ruby did was buy another TR to teach a new move to her Pokémon when they were at the right stage to use it. This TR contained the move Waterfall, a water type attack that delivered powerful hits and could help Pokémon swimming through water climb up waterfalls if necessary. She planned to give it to Ariel when she evolved into Gyarados, which wasn't long as she was well on the way to becoming one.

After all that, Ruby finally made it into Motostoke City. The city was huge, much bigger than any dwelling Ruby had seen in her life. She bet that if someone took Postwick and dropped it off in Motostoke, it wouldn't even cover half of the city. There were people and Pokémon everywhere all talking to each other, playing with their Pokémon or riding on them through the city and going into places to buy whatever they needed for the day. It was quite a sight for Ruby to see so many people as she was used to the quieter area of Wedgehurst where not so many people lived. There were shops selling all sorts of things from clothes to food and more, a barber shop for anyone who fancies a haircut or a new hairstyle, a Pokémon Centre like back in Wedgehurst so trainers could heal tired Pokémon and buy potions or Pokéballs and curiously enough, a lifting platform that could take people up from the lower level of the city to the upper level. That confused Ruby. Did this city not believe in stairs or something? She went over to the platform anyway as the building on the upper level of the city was what caught her eye. It was a building that dwarfed all other buildings in Motostoke with a huge tower protruding from the roof and it carried a pink and blue circle logo on it, the recognizable symbol of the Pokémon Gyms. It also carried banners displaying the colours and logos of all eight gyms that trainers could challenge. This was Motostoke Stadium, one of eight stadiums where gym battles were held but this stadium was a multi-purpose building for it was also where people signed up for the Gym Challenge.

Once Ruby took the lift to the upper level of the city, she ran straight towards Motostoke Stadium. Just how much bigger it looked in person than on TV! How big were all the other stadiums by comparison?! She scarcely dared to imagine how big Wyndon would be if she would ever get to go there. She walked through the door and saw to her delight that Hop was already there, clearly waiting for her as the moment she walked in, he ran over to her and hugged her.

"Hey Ruby, glad you got through the Wild Area! I was gonna ring you and ask where you were but you're here!" Hop exclaimed, "Did you catch lots of Pokémon?"

"I managed to catch a Pidove, a Caterpie, a Gastly and a Hoothoot!" Ruby said excitedly, How about you?"

"I got some new ones too." Hop replied, "I'll admit, I was spoiled for choice at first but I caught some good ones. I'm looking forward to using them!"

He and Ruby then headed towards the reception desk to get signed up for the Gym Challenge. A man dressed in a black and white uniform, the colours of the Macro Cosmos company that Chairman Rose was the founder of, was at the desk and he was serving another trainer for the moment. Ruby and Hop looked around, eying up what could potentially be their opponents during the challenge. There were many trainers hoping to get signed up for this season's circuit and they looked like they could put up a fight. Ruby noticed one trainer, a black-haired girl wearing a pink dress, black leather jacket and goth-style boots was in one corner of the room with a Pokémon beside her. Ruby recognized the Pokémon as a Morpeko, a small hamster-like Pokémon with black and brown fur and pink circular cheek markings. It was often viewed as a "Pikachu clone", a term coined up to refer to Pokémon that resembled the famous Electric Mouse Pokémon from the Kanto region. The Morpeko was clearly close to this girl for it never left her side and seemed happy interacting with her. What struck Ruby as strange about the goth girl was her expression. How could anyone be a Pokémon trainer and look as blunt and emotionless as her? She assumed all Pokémon trainers were happy, excitable people!

Her attention was then snatched away as she and Hop saw the trainer at the desk was finished being signed up. He was a boy with a strange head of white hair and purple eyes. He wore a long dark pink coat with purple trimmings, grey leggings and black and dark pink shoes. He had a rather smug, arrogant look on his face like he was sure he was the one to become the next Galar region champion. His body language also added to that impression of him as he walked straight past the two with barely even a hint of acknowledgement for their existence. It was like they just weren't even there to him. As he walked away, Ruby scowled indignantly while Hop shook his head. Already they could tell he was bad news and they wouldn't like him.

"Seriously, what a piece of work…" Hop muttered.

"I think he's a bit of a twerp." Ruby scoffed, "What's his problem?"

They decided to not bother with him as they approached the desk to register for the Gym Challenge. The man requested to see their endorsement letters to which Ruby and Hop handed them over. He looked surprised to see what kind of endorsement they'd received.

"Fancy that…I think this is the first time we've had challengers endorsed by the champion!" he said, impressed with the letters, "And two at once no less! I wonder what's come over Leon this year…"

He quickly got to work registering Ruby and Hop for the Gym Challenge. It was a quick process and in a matter of minutes, they were all fully signed up. They also had to choose a number for their gym uniforms that they would be given to wear in the Gym battles themselves. Ruby picked her number to be 869, the reason being that they were the months she and her sisters had been born in, and to finish off, they were given challenge bands to wear to signify that they had been signed up for the circuit.

"The opening ceremony is to be held here tomorrow so I hope you both get here in time for that." the man said, "For now, you may spend the rest of the evening in the Budew Drop Inn nearby. All trainers are booked a room in that hotel to spend the night."

"Wow, we get our own hotel room?!" Hop cried excitedly, "I'm off to check the fancy digs!"

"Being a Pokémon trainer gives you everything, doesn't it?" Ruby chuckled.

The two ran off to get to the Budew Drop Inn and find their rooms to settle in for the night. Little did they realize was that they were in for a bit of a ruckus, and it wasn't from people who were in for a good night's sleep at the inn…


Pokemon obtained: Valiant the Pidove: Gender: Male. Nature: Quirky. Ability: Super Luck (critical hit ratios are boosted)

Hawk Moth the Caterpie: Gender: Male. Nature: Naïve. Ability: Shield Dust (it prevents secondary effects)

Raven the Gastly: Gender: Female. Nature: Docile. Ability: Levitate (it's protected against Ground attacks)

Houdini the Hoothoot: Gender: Male. Nature: Unknown. Ability: Keen Eye. (Prevents accuracy loss.)

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