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The Isle of Armour: A Pokémon Story Chapter 1

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Chapter 1: The Next Stage of the Journey

Wyndon Stadium: 33 Years Ago…

There was no greater example of a fall from grace than the former Champion of Galar.

What had started off as an 18 year long winning streak had turned into a string of defeats for Mustard. He still remembered when he'd become the Champion for the first time. It had been a battle between himself and the newly appointed Fairy Gym Leader, Opal. Despite being a Fighting-type Gym Leader and thus at a huge disadvantage to a Fairy expert, Mustard had triumphed and become Galar's newest Champion. He was the kind of Pokémon trainer that valued strength and discipline from his team while also showing kindness and love to, in his eyes, bring out their true power. It had paid off well in his Champion battle with Opal and what would followed would be another 17 years of defending his title and proving to be one of Galar's strongest Champions, if not THE strongest. No Champion in history had ever achieved a record like Mustard's. The last record had only been ten years and Mustard had managed to succeed even that.

But everything went downhill when a terrible tragedy had occurred. Mustard has lost his original Pokémon partner, a Cinderace that had been his starter, to old age. The death had done more than break Mustard's heart. The Fighting-type Trainer had lost his competitive spirit too. He'd lost his title as Champion to another trainer in a battle that had disappointed everyone, even the one who had defeated him. They all knew Mustard hadn't given it his all and what would follow afterwards would be more defeats with the former Champion barely putting up the effort he'd once displayed in his 18 year reign. And yet he was still popular with his fans. They showered him with support despite his losing streak, presumably out of sympathy for the death of his original partner that had led to this string of losses. Many of them believed he would finally pick himself up and become the fiery hot trainer who had inspired them to become trainers themselves over the years. But even Mustard felt as if his days were over and that his former glory was a thing of a past. He had no chance of ever becoming Champion again or matching up to the youth of today. Stronger trainers were coming in with powerful teams and Mustard knew he'd never be able to match-up to them.

He was due for a match in a couple of hours, though he questioned why he was even bothering. He was only going to lose again as he felt so out of it. But a part of him felt that he couldn't just give up now. His fans were counting on him and he felt he owed his Pokémon a victory for a change. He also felt that if he quit now, he'd have nothing else in life for him. Pokémon battles were everything to him! If he was to overcome his losing streak, then he couldn't quit. Maybe this time would be different and he'd be able to win at long last. It'd at least make him feel better after the loss of his partner if he proved he could still battle the way he used to. He was taken out of his thoughts by a knock on the door. Mustard invited the person in. He turned to see that his visitor was none other than Chairman Roger Plant. He was the man in charge of the Pokémon League and had been there since Mustard had first become Champion 18 years ago. He looked old, so old in fact that Mustard felt he was due to retire very soon. His face was as shrivelled as a raisin and his hair was so grey that one couldn't imagine there'd ever been any colour in it at all. Plant's face looked grave. Mustard couldn't blame him. He'd made his disappointment in the former Champion very clear since he'd started losing over and over. No doubt he was here to give him some pompous, pandering lecture before his match began.

"You know Mustard, I've been thinking about this upcoming match." Chairman Plant muttered, his voice world weary as if he'd been living for far too long, "And I fear that you're just in for another humiliating defeat that won't salvage your career any. Most folks nowadays see you as outdated, a relic of the times. Even now, it feels as if the audience today is more interested in your opponent than you."

"I fail to see why that means anything." Mustard sighed, "When I get out there today, I'll show everyone that I've still got a spring in my step! My Pokémon are in prime condition and itching for battle! I feel that my losing streak will finally be over. I'll have my honour restored…and my old partner can have the satisfaction of knowing that I was able to win in his name." he said solemnly, thinking back to his deceased Cinderace.

Chairman Plant shook his head disbelievingly.

"Sorry, but I don't see that." he said grimly, "I can see you're still hurting. Still plagued by grief. Let's face it Mustard, there's no saving your career as you are now."

Mustard refused to accept that answer.

"Then allow me to prove you wrong when I get out into that arena!" he yelled irritably, "You might think you know me, Mr. Plant, but you don't! I've had time to come to grips with my old partner's death. I won't be on the back pedal any longer!"

"That's what you said last time." the old businessman said, "And you ended up losing to a rookie who came in with a team of unevolved Pokémon! Did you forget what a laughing stock you became after that? The great Champion Mustard, defeated by a girl with a Charmander, a Pikachu and several other Pokémon that hadn't fully evolved! That was the moment you hit rock bottom!"

"And you think I haven't been able to climb back up again?" Mustard retorted, running a finger over his over-sized eyebrows, "You'll never know if you don't give me this chance to prove myself."

"Oh I never said that." Chairman Plant insisted, "I came to you because I have a solution to your problem. Everyone knows you're in no shape to battle the way you used to. So I thought that I could help you for the sake of your career."

Mustard folded his arms and narrowed his eyes. He never trusted this man whenever he said he wanted to "help" him. He only ever wanted to help himself and he knew it!

"Help me? How so…?" he asked suspiciously.

Roger tried to smile encouragingly but as usual, his smile was faker than any supermodel posing for a photograph.

"I suggested that we rig this match for you to give you a fighting chance." the chairman explained, "We'll do it in a way that nobody will ever suspect a thing and to the audience, it'll look as if you're back to your old self again. You'll be popular and your career will skyrocket back to its former glory! It's a win-win situation for everyone!"

Mustard was horrified. He couldn't believe what he was hearing! Was this man insane to think he'd even consider anything like that?! What did he take him for, some lowlife criminal?! Mustard grabbed Chairman Plant by his lapels, making him gasp in alarm.

"You're suggesting that I CHEAT in order to win?!" the ex-Champion snarled, "Are you really that out of touch with reality that you think I'd ever tease such a thought?! Who the hell do you think I am?!"

"Mustard, take it easy, there's no need to…"

The Fighting-type trainer wasn't having any of it. He shoved Chairman Plant back, the old man stumbling over onto his bottom.

"Cheating is the most dishonourable thing a Pokémon trainer can do!" Mustard growled, "To bring out a Pokémon's true strength, you fight a clean, fair match! There's nothing more disappointing to a Pokémon than a victory that wasn't achieved fairly and by their own gains. You think me winning a rigged match will salvage my career? No Mr. Plant, it'll only destroy it. Someone will find out what you did and nobody will ever look at us the same way again. I'll be a pariah and these actions will fill my wonderful fans with nothing but betrayal. I can't bear to upset so many people that have shown support and love for me over the years…"

He picked up his coat and slipped it on, then picked up his bag and stormed out of the dressing room, leaving Chairman Plant behind to just stare at him dumbfounded.

"W-w-where are you going?!" he asked frantically.

"Home." Mustard snapped, "If this is the future you have in mind for me, rigged matches to allow me to win…than it's a future I want no part in. I'd rather retire now with my honour intact than disgrace myself to the corrupt actions of a charlatan like you. Goodbye Mr. Plant. I pray our paths never cross again."

And that was the end of it. Mustard's career had ended with a bitter whimper, not a bang like he'd hoped for. Upon leaving the Pokémon League, he'd gone straight to the police to inform them of what Chairman Plant had planned to do and he'd been arrested for his corrupt actions. Mustard never heard from him again after that. He only hoped that Plant's successor would make the Pokémon League something worthwhile with no corruption at its head. After his retirement had come quicker than he'd anticipated, he'd spent a few months living quietly at home with his Pokémon to contemplate on what to do next with his life. Over time, he'd come to develop an interest in video-games and played many titles in his spare time. Eventually, he'd decided that he would go travelling. He fancied getting to see the world while he was still alive and see what life was like outside of Galar.

He travelled for a while until eventually, he came across an unnamed island off the east coast of the mainland. Nobody owned the island so he decided to explore and see what it was like. It seemed strange that there was this huge island here and no signs of life anywhere. Well, human lives that is. The island was teeming with Pokémon, many species from the Galarian mainland and many that had only been found here. Mustard found himself seeing flocks of Volcarona fluttering together, Tangela and Tangrowth roaming the forests, Sharpedo and schools of Horsea, Seadra and Kingdra swimming about in the sea and magnificent Talonflames soaring through the sky. What a sight it was to see Pokémon exclusive to a certain area in their natural habitat living life as they pleased! He even wondered why certain species of Pokémon lived here and not in Galar itself. The island had a tropical atmosphere, the heat beating down on everything around as if the sun was trying to bake the whole island and everything on it. The air was humid and Mustard couldn't keep the sweat off his head as he roamed. It was like being in a greenhouse, only this was out in the open with no sign of plastic walls or a roof anywhere. The island was also a mixture of different terrains and habitats with grasslands, wetlands, a forest, a desert and lots of caves. It was like whoever created this island couldn't decide what to put on it and just put these different habitats all together at once. This in turn encouraged many different species of Pokémon to make this place their own with one habitat appealing to at least one species no matter what they were. The island even had its own island nearby that was shaped like a honeycomb and sprouted a giant tree in the middle that was home to swarms of Combee and Vespiquen. Mustard had been impressed with what he'd seen and he knew that he couldn't just be a visitor here. His face lit up with glee as a great idea filled his head.

"I may have retired from Pokémon battling…but who's to say I can't be a teacher?" he mused to himself, "I could set up my own dojo to teach new generations of trainers about Pokémon battles and how to be strong, honourable trainers worthy of becoming Champion in their own right. I think I may have found my calling at last!"

And so he'd gone on to purchase the island and do just that. He still had plenty of money from his life as a Pokémon Champion 18 years ago and he'd been able to afford the island. It had been deserted long ago and nobody lived on it currently, making it cheap to buy, and Mustard had wasted no time setting up the resources he'd hoped to set up. He'd built his dojo and two towers, one with a dark theme and one with a water theme, all of which would be part of his plans to be a mentor to any new Pokémon trainers. Upon completion of his resources, Mustard had decided to give the island a name, a name that would be catchy, easy to remember and would give students an idea on the challenges that awaited them. He'd thought hard about the name and eventually, he'd settled on one.

"My trials will be like a suit of armour that my students will have to crack to succeed in their goals. It'll take many dents and chinks and won't be easy to penetrate. But those that do will prove themselves worthy." he mused, "So it shall be…the Isle of Armour!"


Postwick Town: Now

"…and that's how my old master founded the place." finished Leon.

"As rotten as it was that that Chairman Plant wanted to rig a battle to let Mustard win, I guess it did something good in the end as it led to him finding that island and setting up the Master Dojo." Sapphire Silverlock said brightly.

"Ha, ha! My master said the same thing!" Leon chuckled, "He always had this mindset on how something good can come out of a bad situation."

"And in that case, it was The Isle of Armour." Sapphire thought, "Funny how a bad decision from an old chairman led to that."

Leon nodded agreeably. Who knows what Mustard's life would've been like if that had never happened. Leon imagined he may even have had a different mentor in another life time.

A month had passed and Sapphire was about to leave Postwick Town and head off to Wedgehurst Station to catch the train that would take her to a Flying Taxi service that would then fly her to the Isle of Armour. After this year's Pokémon League had ended with her as a semi-finalist and her sisters, Ruby and Emerald fighting each other to a draw in the final, Sapphire had decided that she would attend the Isle of Armour. She hoped that whatever the island had to offer would give her a new direction in life that would give her something to put her Pokémon training skills towards. She had no desire to succeed Ruby as Champion of Galar but wanted to keep being a trainer, so using her skills to try the trials of the Isle of Armour would be the next best thing. Before going, she'd naturally requested to have a chat with Leon about the place so she could learn as much as she could about the island before going.

Her girlfriend, a spunky tomboy named Ashley Benson, had flown home to Unova to maintain her title as Champion. Sapphire had defeated her in the semi-finals of the Pokémon League and the two had confessed their love after wards, officially becoming a couple despite acknowledging the huge distance between regions. Ashley had left the day after Ruby and Emerald's titanic battle had ended in a draw. Sapphire had accompanied her to the airport so they could exchange farewells. The blue-haired girl had struggled to let her go after hugging her.

"I'll really miss you Ashley." Sapphire said solemnly, "I hope you'll come back and visit again soon."

"I'll be back before ya know it, hon." Ashley insisted, "In the meantime, we can video-chat whenever ya like and I'll remember to send ya photos if anything interesting happens."

"And I'll send you pics of my time on the Isle of Armour." Sapphire declared, "I can't wait to get started! I bet it's going to be amazing there!"

"Yer visiting an island that's home ta Galar's longest reigning champ. Of course it'll be amazing!" Ashley laughed, "You have a great time there, Sapph. And I hope ya find what yer looking for there too."

"Thank you Ashley. And good luck on your next title defence, whenever that may be." Sapphire complimented.

The girls kissed each other goodbye and Sapphire watched tearfully as the plane carrying her girlfriend home to Galar disappeared into the sky. She knew she couldn't waste time missing Ashley so for the rest of the time she had left before the Isle of Armour's next term started, she'd found every book she could find about the island and visited the website as often as possible for updates and to obtain any facts she could find about it. After getting home from the airport, she'd booked herself a place for the island and spent most of her days reading or keeping her Pokémon in shape. Sapphire had found many interesting facts on the Isle of Armour from which species were exclusive to the island to who had been Mustard's most successful student there. Soon enough, she had all the information she felt she needed on her next destination and could only prepare for her time to set foot in the Master Dojo. She had no idea what to expect as all information on Mustard's trials was left out of the island's website and any book published about the island. This made sense as if the students knew what to expect, they would never be challenged. Sapphire was also intrigued about some sort of "secret armour" that was apparently bestowed on students who passed the trials. The books mentioned it but gave no details, presumably to keep it a surprise to all newcomers who signed up for the island's trials. Even Leon wouldn't tell her about it.

"Sorry Sapph, Mustard swore me to secrecy. I can't tell you about the secret armour until you obtain it." he said, sounding guilty he had to say that, "All I'll say is that I couldn't unlock its full power. My poor sense of direction really screwed me over that day…" he sighed, "Maybe you'll succeed where I failed."

"Heh, no pressure!" Sapphire said sheepishly, "I'm still keen to learn what this secret armour is though. It must be a fabulous prize to those that clear the trials."

"I'm just gonna say that you'll love it when you get it." Leon said with a reassuring wink.

And now Sapphire wouldn't have to wait much longer for the day had come at last. The Isle of Armour's next term was starting and she had to be on her way to the train station. The trials themselves would start the next day as Mustard liked to let his students have time to mingle and, if they so choose, build up a new team of Pokémon to train with. Sapphire was relieved to hear this as she didn't fancy immediately getting thrown into the thick of things upon only just arriving. She'd already packed the night before and had been chatting with Leon to pass the time before it was time to go. Hearing how Mustard had founded the island interested her, though she also felt sorry to hear that his time as Galar's longest reigning Champion had to end on such a down note. Hopefully life on the Isle of Armour had made him a cheerier person. Leon had described him as being a very friendly, and also very quirky, man so Sapphire imagined she'd like him.

Now it was time to go, Sapphire set off to Wedgehurst Station to catch the train. She arrived with roughly half an hour to spare before the train departed so she had time to bid her family goodbye. They'd come with her to the station so they could see her off. Her sisters were there along with her parents and even Leon's little brother, Hop, had come to see goodbye. Naturally, he and Ruby were holding hands. Ever since they'd become a couple, they'd barely been able to keep their hands off each other. Sapphire hugged Ruby and Emerald tightly.

"It's going to be very different without you both." the black teen said solemnly, "I'll miss you both while I'm gone."

"We will too!" Emerald whimpered, trying not to cry, "You have a great time on that island, OK? And don't forget to call us!"

"As if I would, Em." Sapphire retorted, "I hope you two will come to the island yourself to support me when the term ends."

"We will, Sapph." Ruby insisted, "We all know that you'll do great on that island. With your skills as a trainer, you'll pass the trials with flying colours and beat any trainer that challenges you."

"I don't know about that, but thanks Ruby." Sapphire said appreciatively, "And I hope you and Hop have fun together while I'm gone."

The two teens blushed, much to Sapphire's amusement.

"I'm…sure we will." Hop answered awkwardly, "We'll see you later Sapphire. Enjoy yourself on the Isle of Armour!"

"Cheers!" Sapphire said brightly.

She then turned to her parents, Annie and Michael, and hugged them tightly.

"You have a good time, sweetheart." Annie said softly, "We look forward to hearing what adventures you'll have on that island."

"Maybe you can give us an audience with Mustard while you're there." Michael joked.

"I'm sure he might be OK with saying hi whenever we video-chat." Sapphire said thoughtfully, "Bye mum. Bye dad. Try not to miss me too much."

"That'll only make us miss you even more!" Annie chuckled.

Sapphire giggled. Now the goodbyes had been said, it was time for Sapphire to go. She gave one last wave to her family and neighbour before boarding her train. She had a suitcase with her and dragged it behind her on its wheels. The guard blew his whistle and the train honked as it edged forward out of the platform, its massive wheels groaning. Ruby, Emerald, Hop, Annie and Michael stood waving and watched as the train pulled out of the station. Sapphire was on her way out of Wedgehurst and on towards the Flying Taxi station that would fly her to the island. Sapphire couldn't help but feel a tingle in her stomach. As exciting as this trip was going to be, she couldn't help but feel nervous. It was natural to feel this way; any trip to a new place came with its anxieties. What if she couldn't handle the trials? What if she met a lot of unfriendly people there? At the same time, Sapphire tried not to worry too much. She would have a good time at the island and she'd make new friends. She told herself this over and over in her head.

As she settled back into her seat and enjoyed the ride, Sapphire noticed that she wasn't the only girl with an unusual hair colour on this train. She could see another girl with pink hair sitting a few seats further from where she was. She could only see the top of the girl's head over her seat but that was it. She could make out some sort of bow that peeked over the top of the seat as well, suggesting the girl wore a bow. Sapphire wondered where she was going. She didn't get her answer until an hour later when the train arrived at its destination.

As the train stopped and the passengers got off, Sapphire saw the pink-haired girl get up and leave with the crowd. She saw that the girl did indeed wear a bow that curiously bore a resemblance to the wings of a Dustox, a species of Pokémon not found in Galar. She also seemed to wear a white furry coat over what looked like the uniform of a Poison-type Gym Leader, a purple and green t-shirt and shorts with matching thigh-high socks. This wasn't unusual as Sapphire knew about Pokémon Gyms that were in the minor division, separate from the big eight Gyms in the Gym Challenge. There were minor Gyms specializing in certain types that, if they became big, could be a part of the Gym Challenge one year. So it seemed this girl was a Poison-type Gym Leader. What was she doing here? Was she going to the Isle of Armour as well? Sapphire supposed it was a good idea. A Gym Leader wanting to get bigger in the ranks could visit the island in the hopes of getting stronger and proving to be a strong Gym Leader worthy of the big leagues. Sapphire also thought she recognized the girl from somewhere. She didn't know why but the pink hair and fur coat reminded her of someone. A singer perhaps? If she got a chance to meet this girl, she might figure out who she was.

For now, Sapphire focused on herself as she departed from the train and showed her ticket to the ticket officer. She was directed to a Flying Taxi that was waiting for her and she boarded the carriage. The Corviknight in charge of this carriage flapped its wings and prepared to take-off. Before it did, Sapphire saw the pink-haired girl again. She noticed she had this way of walking that rubbed her the wrong way. She seemed to swagger as if she owned the place and the world had to cater to her needs. This Gym Leader obviously had an ego, though Sapphire hoped it was just an act and she might actually be nice. The girl boarded her own Flying Taxi. So there it was, she was going to the Isle of Armour too. Sapphire wondered if the girl was new like her or if she'd been to the island before. She'd found out as no doubt they'd get a chance to interact once they arrived on the island. Sapphire turned away and clutched the seat as her taxi took off. The Corviknight flapped its wings and in moments, she was up in the air and on her way to the Isle of Armour. The next chapter in her life was about to begin…


At the same time, Mustard was anticipating the arrival of his students. He was sitting in his favourite chair studying the list of returning and new students he was due to receive for this new term.

Mustard was in his late sixties and his age showed with his wrinkled face and hunched stance. He looked somewhat delicate, like he might break if he didn't walk carefully. He had long eyebrows that arched over and curled down the sides of his head, a small pointed beard and bright brown eyes that still seemed to twinkle in his old age. He wore a bluish-green and black track jacket with a paw print logo on the right side of the chest area, a small round hat with matching colours, baggy grey trousers and comfortable black loafers. As he studied the list, he fiddled with one of his eyebrows. He often did that when he was thinking.

"A promising set of students for this term…I expect great things from many of them." he murmured, "Especially young Sapphire Silverlock. What an honour it is to have one of Ruby's sisters joining us. From what I've heard, she could be our rising star for this year. And maybe the one to become the Armour Warrior…"

He closed his eyes in thought for a moment. Yes…it would be nice to finally crown someone as the Armour Warrior for once. It had been years since any student had earned the Secret Armour and unlocked its full potential. Maybe this year would be the year he'd finally get to crown another Armour Warrior. And maybe this year would finally be the year Zeraora would come to his senses and re-join him as his Pokémon partner.


Mustard's old eyes opened again and he felt another pang of sadness overcome him. Such a shame things had to go the way they did between them. But he still liked to hope he'd reform. The thought of his old partner brought Mustard out of his chair and to the front door of the Master Dojo. He whistled out and he was met with a cheerful Emolga gliding towards him. Emolga were Electric/Flying type Pokémon, an unusual type-combination that wasn't seen with many species. They were native to the Unova region and were considered the Unova region's resident Pikachu clone due to their similarities to the species. For Galarians, Emolga could only be found in the Isle of Armour. They looked like flying squirrels complete with their own membrane for gliding with. They had white and black fur, yellow circle cheek markings and a jagged black tail. This Emolga was female and a very loyal friend to Mustard. She landed on his arm as he held it out for her and smiled pleasantly.

"Good morning, master!" Emolga chirped, "How may I assist you today?"

"Ha, ha, ha! I've told you a thousand times my darling, you don't have to call me master." Mustard chortled, "Just call me Mustard."

"You sure? I mean your name kinda sounds like "master" already so it's a bit redundant." Emolga said thoughtfully.

Mustard smiled. This cute little Pokémon knew how to make his day no matter his mood.

"I wish for you to check on Zeraora again." Mustard said, his expression serious, "I have a new term starting today and it would be a great sin to us all if he was to pose a threat to my students. I want to hear how things are going in that prison and if he's still secure. And also…if he's willing to reform."

Emolga shifted uncomfortably.

"I think you should give up on him, master." the electric rodent said wearily, "He's never going to change and you know it. Sorry if I sound harsh but…"

"I know, I'm probably an old fool to think he'll ever see the light, but I like to hope that he'll reform eventually." Mustard said softly, "It never hurts to try."

Emolga nodded understandably.

"I'll be back with my report as soon as possible." she said, "I can't wait to meet the new students, especially that Sapphire girl you're excited to meet. It'll be great to meet the sister of Galar's current Champion!"

She spread out her membrane and allowed the wind to carry her up into the sky as she glided off to check on Zeraora. Mustard watched Emolga leave before walking back into the dojo. Now that was taken care of, he could just wait for his students to arrive while his wife prepared the place for their arrival. He loved the start of a new term and couldn't wait to start the trials he had in mind for this year…

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