• Be sure to join the discussion on our discord at: Discord.gg/serebii
  • If you're still waiting for the e-mail, be sure to check your junk/spam e-mail folders

Paul's New Adventures [G]

Summary: [soft reboot] Two years after the conclusion of his bitter rivalry, Paul heads to the Unova region to become stronger and compete in the Unova League. Little does he know how much his worldview will change...

It was a cold Saturday morning and it was beginning to snow. The cold air circulated through the night as the streets of Castelia City were hustling with joy. People left and right, bundled up in puffy jackets, carrying items that they bought from the various stores dotted around the city. However, deep inside a dark alleyway, a shadow of a tall man with long flowing hair could be seen...

"Is it ready?" The figure asked in a low toned voice as he raised his wrist.
….
….
"Perfect!"

The sound of a loud evil laugh bounces off the walls of the alleyway.

"This time, I shall not fail!"


—-

"We are clear for landing," a male voice said over the intercom as the plane was beginning to slowly descend.

It was during the afternoon as there were many people on board the flight, all going to the Unova region for various reasons. Some for vacation reasons, some to visit their families, some to move and some people were there to discover new Pokémon and go on their own adventure. Many trainers often come from different regions to strengthen their skills and become better well-rounded trainers.

This was especially true for one trainer named Paul. He sat in the front of the plane with a grey slingback, looking out of the window. The young man ran his fingers through his short purple hair as he smirked at the city landscape outside the window.

"Let's see if I could win this region's league," Paul mumbled to himself as he unbuckled his seatbelt and began to stand up to stretch. "Let's not have a repeat of last time…"

As he stretched his body from sitting for five hours, the young man kept thinking about his Sinnoh league battle and how intense it was. The battle against his greatest rival was his most personal battle to date, however, that battle took place two years ago. Paul then shook his head sideways to chase all thoughts of that day out of his head as he sat back down. He still had respect for his former rival, however, he did not want to think about him anymore.

A vibration could be felt underneath the seats as the plane's wheels were scraping against the runway, while all the while, slowing down. As the jet's speed was slowly decreasing, the airline slowly made its way through the runway towards the pier. The passengers all tightened their seatbelts and held on to any small Pokémon or loose items they had on their laps.

"Alright everyone," the same male voice as before said over the intercom as the plane stopped at the pier. "This is your pilot speaking. Welcome to Nuvema Town! Please exit deplane in an orderly fashion."

'Nuvema Town eh?' Paul thought as he stepped off the plane and onto the pier. The sky was clear and the chilly air turned warmer. The heat from the sun was beating down harshly as the citizens shielded themselves with umbrellas and held up misting fans. There were many people crowding the pier as people were bumping into each other by accident. As the young man walked forward into the crowd of people, he started to look around. There were also huge buildings and small businesses that dotted the pier as well. 'This must be a huge town' he thought as he was surprised.

"Hey, Paul!" A girl's voice yelled out from behind. "Come on, Marnie, say hello!"

"Hm?" Paul briefly turned around to see a girl with long dark blonde hair running towards him. This girl was sporting a black cap with a red pokeball on the front, a plain white tank top and a green mini skirt. She was with another girl who was shorter than her with light red hair worn in two pigtails. Her friend was struggling to keep up with her as she ran towards the young man.

"Oh great!" Paul said sarcastically as he rolled his eyes. "It's my old pal Jen!"

"Talk about shocking, I never thought you would be in Unova at the same time as me!" Jen exclaimed. "What did you do? Run here?"

"Um… Jen, who is he?" Marnie asked as she lowered one eyebrow in confusion.

"Paul? We go way back. He and I went to trainers school together when we were younger," Jen explained. "Well, it used to be a school but now it is an arcade."

Paul looked at both girls in silence. He slightly turned his body as a signal to try to step away from them. Even though she was his friend in trainer's school, it was still a very long time ago. Things have changed since then, thus, Paul didn't really care about making friends or having any sort of conversation.

Paul stared at her for a few minutes before turning his back to the duo. "So we have," he said gruffly as he folded his arms. "Pardon me for being short, however, my conversation skills aren't that great."

With that, the young man started to walk towards the crowd with both hands in his pockets. However, as he was approaching the main road, in the corner of his eye, he noticed a flash a white light and the clicking sound of a Pokéball opening. That was enough to startle Paul; he jumped back and froze in his tracks. When he turned to his left, he noticed that one of his Pokémon had burst out of their Pokéball on their own. It was a humanoid Pokémon covered in bright yellow fur and black stripes. The pattern located in the back resembled a power outlet and the two short antennas on its head were sparking a gold electrical current.

"Electivire! Who gave you permission to be out of your Pokéball?!" Paul asked in a frustrated tone.

Electivire did not acknowledge its trainer as it just stood there, looking towards the palm trees that were dotting the side of the pier. Paul became even more agitated as he began to walk towards his Pokémon while lowering his eyebrows.

"Do you hear me?!" the young man mumbled loudly as he looked up at his dazed Pokémon in frustration. "Get back in your Pokeball or else there will be problems!"

"Um, Paul… I think you may want to try putting him in his Pokeball," Jen's voice said in a concerned tone as she moved alongside Paul. "He's interested in her…"

The girl proceeded to point towards what appeared to be an electabuzz standing in the shade from one of the trees. Like Paul's electivire, it too was a humanoid Pokémon covered in yellow fur in black stripes. However, the fur color on this one was a dark gold instead of a bright yellow. It was also shorter and wasn't as furry. The fur pallet was smoother and had fangs. Also, this electabuzz had a blue bow tied to both antennas and another blue bow tied to a tuft of fur sticking out from the middle of the head, marking this Pokémon to be female.

She stood there with a touchpad in her hands, watching a show. She also had a small pikachu doll at her side and an empty box of what used to be filled with chocolate bars.

"Alright, return!" Paul projected as he held out the Pokeball in front of him. A flash of red light came from the ball as it surrounded his Pokemon. However, as soon as the light reached him, Electivire swiftly moved to the right, avoiding capture.

"You… like that electabuzz do you?" Paul asked in a sarcastic tone as he attempted to put Electivire in his Pokeball several times. However, he still failed. "We are not doing this again."

"Hey wait!" a low pitched voice shouted out from behind.

'Hm?' Paul thought to himself as he and the girls turned around to see where the voice was coming from. Coming towards them was another girl, however, this girl had short dark brown hair shaped in a bob cut and was wearing a white baggy shirt and black sweatpants that both read "varsity battle tower squad". She came up to the group, with an unreadable smirk on her face while playing around with her watch buttons.

"Stop what you're doing," the girl said worriedly as her eyes widened. "You'll only make things worse. From the looks of it, it seems that your Pokemon just wants to play with Ellie."

"Thanks for your concern, but you don't know my Pokemon," Paul retorted. "He's been doing this kind of behavior for the past six months. He likes to go after other trainers' Pokemon, especially if they have an electabuzz."

The group looked on as Electivire, with two chocolate bars in hand, slowly started to approach Ellie. As he zeroed in on the chocolate bars, Paul quickly brought his grey slingback to the front and sure enough, he saw that the side zipper was unzipped. He took off his bag and threw it on the ground in anger. He walked up to the pair with a scowl.

"Why did you take those?" Paul asked Electivire in a loud stern voice. "They were supposed to be for my journey you know! Now what am I going to eat?!"

Ellie's eyes grew in terror as her eyes met with Paul's. Leaving her stuff behind, she quickly got up and ran towards her trainer, hiding behind her. She shook like a leaf, afraid that the young man was going to hurt her. Paul didn't care that she was afraid as he kept glaring at her from afar.

"I'm sorry," the young woman said apologetically as she picked up the frightened electabuzz. "Ellie is…. kinda a nervous Pokemon, per say. I need to take her back home in a bit anyway. Maybe next time, Electivire."

"Ellie, return!" The girl took out a pink heal ball and pressed it against the electabuzz's head. She was then engulfed by a red light as she returned back to her Pokéball safe and sound.

"Electivire, return!" Paul shouted as he once again took out his Pokeball. However, this time, the red light surrounded his Pokemon and he was finally back in the ball. The young man wiped the sweat off his forehead in relief.

"So...is that electabuzz yours?" Jen asked.

"No, she isn't mine," the girl answered in a surprised tone. "She belongs to my aunt and lives as a house Pokémon. I'm babysitting her for today. I realized that I didn't introduce myself, my name's Miki and I live in Black City! What about you guys? Where are you from?"

"Well, I'm Jen and the guy wearing purple is Paul," Jen said as she pointed to Paul. "We are both from Veilstone City in the Sinnoh region. The girl with the red hair is Marnie, she's from Eterna City; also in the Sinnoh region."

"Sinnoh region? Veilstone City?" Miki asked as she tilted her head to the left. "Hm, is that the boonies? But anyway, are you guys here to compete in the Unova league?"

The group shook their heads yes as they wiped off the sweat from their foreheads in nervousness. "Where do we start?" Paul asked.

"Follow me and I'll bring you all to Professor Jupiter's lab!" Miki said excitedly. "She'll lead the way!"

Upon hearing that, Marnie raised her eyebrow in confusion As she pulled out her guide map. "Uh, do you mean Professor Juniper?"

Miki looked back at the shorter girl with an unreadable expression before turning back around gruffly. "Kid, you say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe. Same thing."

~!~

"Is Professor Jupiter here?" Miki asked in excitement as she forced her way into the building's double doors. "We have new trainers that need Pokedexes, pronto!"

The sound of the doors being forced open and slamming into the walls vibrated through the almost empty laboratory. Even though the front of the lab looked like a miniature hut from the outside, fitting into the scenery of the town, the inside of the lab was very spacious even with the various equipment that dotted certain areas. There was a row of computers sitting on an elongated desk on each side of the room. Pokemon books were scattered both desks and papers flew in different directions due to the slight wind coming in from the outside.

"I think you might have scared her off," a male voice said from behind. "I mean, I could hear you from far away…"

The group turned around to see a young man, who looked to be in his mid-teens, standing in the doorway. He had dark blonde hair, pale grey eyes and was wearing an orange jacket over a blue sweatshirt. He shook his head sideways as he chuckled at the group.

"Let me guess, another new trainer?" Paul asked in a sarcastic tone as he rolled his eyes.

"Tristan? No, he's not new at all," Miki said as she walked over to the blonde-haired young man and put one hand on his shoulder. "He's crazy strong. I know, I met him during my travels and we became friends."

"As I told you many times before, the name's Trip…" Trip replied hesitantly. "But that's ok. What are you guys doing in Professor Juniper's lab anyway?"

Miki proceeded to walk towards the group, placing herself between Jen and Paul while putting her hand on both their shoulders. "These three trainers need a Pokedex right away. Is Professor Jupiter coming back soon?"

"...Professor Juniper is currently at Chargestone Cave…" Trip said with an edge. "Why don't YOU give out the 'dexes? They're in the box on the grey moving cart behind you…"

Miki turned around and looked at the grey cart with a large box on the bottom shelf. With a smirk, she ran over to the cart, taking out the heavy box from underneath and setting it on the floor. She grabbed three separate boxes, each containing a medium-sized grey device and five poke balls.

"I guess Professor Jupiter won't mind…." Miki said as she got up and began to pass the boxes out to the group of trainers. One by one, she passed out the boxes. "one for you, one for you... "

"...and one for you, Your Majesty. It's a pokedex," the girl said in a sarcastic tone as she gave Paul his pokedex.

"Yeah, whatever," Paul said gruffly under his breath as he grabbed the pokeballs and pokedex from the box and slowly started to walk towards the door. "I'm out of here."

"Hey" Miki exclaimed as she grabbed onto Paul's sleeve. "I was just kidding! Sometimes I make bad jokes and stuff. But I do hope this Pokedex will be useful."

Trip walked over to stand near his friend. "You see, this is why we don't like people from the boonies..."

Paul stopped dead in his tracks as he crossed his arms. 'Is that all he's got?' he thought to himself as a smirk appeared on his face. He was unbothered by the insults as he knew that even though he lived in a rural area, it had no effect on him as a trainer. All he wanted was to set off on his journey, however, he didn't want to stick around and listen to a useless tutorial he's heard many times before.

"Your point?" Paul asked in an annoyed tone.

"You're not very smart, aren't you?" Trip asked rhetorically as he gave a condescending smirk. "You don't seem like a very experienced trainer, just someone who talks too much."

"Oh really?" Paul said as he raised his voice. "I can say the same about you…"

"Typical," Trip chucked. "But hey, instead of interjecting your own insecurities onto me, how about we have a Pokemon battle, one on one…. what do you say?"

Paul took a minute to process everything as he uncrossed his arms. 'Hm, if I battle this guy and I win, maybe I can show him just how serious I am. However, why do I need to prove myself to him? I'm past that. I'll just battle him just to have him make a fool of himself!' He chuckled as he turned around.

"Alright, I will take on your request," Paul said with confidence. "I'm here to win the Pokemon league and the way to do that is to beat trainers like yourself."

"Then it's off to the backyard, let's go!" Miki exclaimed as she led the group to the back of the small laboratory and out the back door.

.~~~~

The battle was about to begin as there was a strong sense of tension in the air. The two young men stared each other down, locked in battle mode. Trip smiled confidently while Paul scowled and clenched his fists tightly. Light chattering amongst the few onlookers can be heard as the battle was about to begin. The battlefield itself was a plain dirt field with a pokeball symbol in the middle and a small set of bleachers on the right side.

"I'm going to be the referee!" Marnie said as she ran off the bleachers and onto the side of the field. "I'm on my journey to become an official Pokemon referee so I need practice."

Upon standing on the referee podium, she pulled out a pokeball from her white tote bag and proceeded to throw it in the air. A burst of light came from the pokeball as the figure of a bipedal Pokemon emerged. By her side was a dark yellow mouse Pokemon with a white underbelly and a small lightning bolt tail. Marnie then knelt down to pick up her Pokemon and place it on her shoulder as it was waving a red flag.

Upon seeing the mouse Pokemon, Paul reached for his pokedex that was located in the left pocket of his jacket and began to point it at Marnie's Pokemon. A green screen then proceeded to pop with the pokemon's picture while a male robotic voice began to explain the Pokemon's info.

"Raichu, the mouse Pokemon and the evolved form of Pikachu," the pokedex explained. "Its tail discharges electricity into the ground, protecting it from getting shocked."

"Now, Electivire, standby for battle!" Paul said with authority.

Paul threw his pokeball high into the air with confidence. A burst of light came from the ball as Electivire emerged in a combative stance. The thunderbolt Pokemon let out a confident battle cry as he waved his fists.

"Go, Serperior!" Trip yelled as he also threw his pokeball in the air.

That same beam of light came bursting through the ball as the huge snake appeared from the light and coiled itself onto the battlefield. It was a pale green, serpentine Pokémon with narrow red eyes and grass like patterns on the sides. Paul quickly reached for his pokedex and pointed it at Trip's Serperior.

"Serperior, the regal Pokemon and the evolved form of Servine," the pokedex explained. "It can stop its opponents' movements with just a glare. It takes in solar energy and boosts it internally."

"Isn't that nice?" Trip asked with a mocking tone. "You got your 'serperior' lesson for today."

"It has been determined that Mr. Paul gets the first move," Marnie announced as her raichu waved the red flag, signaling Paul to make his move. "Now begin!"

"Electivire, use thunder on the battlefield," Paul commanded in an authoritative voice.

Electivire proceeded to shove both of his long tails deep into the ground while mustering all the electrical energy he could. After being shrouded in electricity, he released a massive thunder attack into the ground. The ground began to rumble underneath the competitor's feet as large pieces of rock began to fly from up into the air and fell quickly onto the ground.

"Serperior, dodge those!" Trip commanded with confidence.

With style and speed, the regal Pokemon slithered left and right to dodge every rock that made contact with the ground. However, right as the serperior was on the right track, Trip spotted a huge rock that was almost inches above his Pokemon's head. He then smirked at a perfect opportunity to turn this into a counter strike.

"Now Serperior, use dragon tail on that rock!" Trip commanded with a smirk.

Mustering all the energy he could, Serperior's tail began to glow a light blue color. When the time was right, he swung his blue colored tail up above and made contact with the falling rock. The boulder was too tough to break, however, the dragon tail's force allowed the rock to fly straight into the opponent's path. Paul quickly registered the attack as he began to scowl and clench his fists.

"Electivire, protect!" Paul demanded in desperation.

However, before Electivire can muster up his energy to make a shield to protect himself from the projectile object, the rock hits him in the middle. The force from the rock was so powerful, that it sent Electivire almost flying backward and smacked into his trainer. Paul's reaction time was too slow as he could not run away and he and his Pokemon began to fall onto the ground, sliding a few feet. Luckily for him, it was only his left foot that was trapped under Electivire's weight as he was able to wiggle himself out and stand up.

"Electivire, don't give up!" Paul said sternly. "Use brick break now!"

After shaking off the shock from the rock attack, Electivire quickly got on to his feet and began to charge toward his opponent. Narrowing his red eyes, he turned his right-hand side ways as if he was about to execute a swift chop.

"Grab it Serperior!" Trip commanded. "Use wrap!"

The regal Pokemon proceeded to quickly move his body away from the oncoming brick break that was about to happen. Using his tail, he proceeded to grab his opponent and held on tightly. The grip was so tight that Electivire could hardly breathe as his face began to turn purple from the suffocation. Though Paul was surprised, he remained calm as he tried to think of a way to get himself out of this situation.

"Use thunderpunch!" he commanded.

Electivire tried his hardest to squeeze his arm from the snake's grip, however, it failed.

"Now, let's give it the old slam, back to back!" Trip exclaimed confidently as he pumped one fist in the air.

With the suffocated Electivire in his grasp, the grass snake began to raise his tail and then with speed and force, slammed his opponent into the hard ground. He did this repeatedly while the thunderbolt Pokemon was trying his best to break out of wrap's grasp. However, with the repeated slams to the head, it was unsuccessful. Paul's fists were clenched tightly as he was very shocked at what was going on. He kept calling out more attacks, however at this time, Electivire grew to be unconscious from the attacks.

"Alright, that's enough!" Trip said with an edge. "I think we got the message through. Now throw it back!"

Serperior raised his tail and with all his might, he threw the unconscious Electivire against a tree with such force. The force was great enough to almost snap the tree in half. After hitting the tree, Electivire fell face-first onto the ground. The silence was lingering as Marnie's raichu went over to the unconscious Pokemon. Raichu tilted it's head sideways while placing a hand on Electivire's head.

"Electivire is unable to battle, Serperior wins," Marnie said with a monotone. "Which means the match goes to .

"Great job, Serperior!" Trip praised as he returned his Pokemon back to his pokeball.

Nodding his head in defeat, Paul took out his pokeball and returned his Pokemon back at once. After that, he then looked at the pokeball itself and said "Great battle, Electivire. We just have to do better."

"I guess your Electivire was ok," Trip said sympathetically while crossing his arms. "However, his trainer was awful..."

"You be quiet!" Paul growled as he put his Pokeball in his pocket.

"That was a great battle, you guys!" Miki said excitedly as she took off her soundproof headphones.

As Trip began to walk back into the laboratory, he turned around at the group one more time and smiled.

"Miki, I'll see you at the black tower!" he said with determination as he waved and left.

"Sure thing!" Miki replied. "I look forward to seeing you there!".

"Hmph", Paul began to run through the laboratory's back door and onto the road that starts Route One. His eyes were closed, not caring to open them as he kept on running through the shortened route. 'I can't believe I lost to HIM. How could I? Am I strong enough?' he thought as he continued to be on his way until a familiar voice called out to him.

"Paul, wait up!" a familiar voice called out to him followed by the blabbering of what sounded like an electabuzz.

Paul stopped and turned his head slightly to the left, just enough to see who was coming after him. It was Miki and Ellie, the electabuzz, was clinging to her shoulder. However, this time, she had a dark blue rock she was carrying with her left hand. She was trying her hardest to catch up with him. Paul stood there as he allowed the girl to catch up to him. He was not at all interested in conversing with her, however he wanted to allow her to say what she wanted to say before he left.

"If you got something to say to me, say it!" he snapped.

"Paul, I just wanted to apologize," she started to say. "I know that I can be a bit of a smart aleck but I didn't mean to give you a hard time. I came here to give you this."

She took the blue rock and began to present it to Paul. He turned around and stared at the rock. This rock was different. It was roundly shaped but it also had a dark blue leaf on the top of it. He took the rock from her hands and further inspected it.

"That's a fossil. A plume fossil to be exact," Miki explained. "it was burning a hole in my bag and when I saw how determined you are, I figured that you could make use out of it."

"So… what is so special about this fossil?" Paul asked as he began to put the fossil in his grey slingback.

"If you take it to this one guy in Accumula Town, he can resurrect it for you," she happily explained. "There used to be someone who does this in Nacrene City, the gym leader's assistant or whatnot? Yeah, but they have been gone for some time. They can resurrect your fossil into a Pokemon."

'So this turns into a Pokemon eh?' Paul thought to himself as he turned his head and looked straight ahead. The warm wind started to pick up as he felt it blowing on his neck. He wiped a little bit of the sweat that was building up on his forehead while bringing the front of his purple hair back. 'Even though she was very annoying and she isn't really worth my time, I am in a new region and I don't know where this Accumula Town is. I'll just have her guide me there.'

"I hate having to ask for help, especially from someone like you," Paul started to say. "However, I have no choice. Bring me to this Accumula Town."

"Well… even though I have to get back to the black tower, I have time for a little side trip," the trainer said with excitement. "First the Pokemon center, then the fossil."
 
Last edited:
After his Pokémon had been healed, Paul waited outside the Pokémon Center for Miki to join him. He didn't really care about what she was doing, however he started to get impatient as he heavily sighed in frustration. 'If she doesn't get here, I am leaving' he thought to himself. Five minutes later, a sound of the automatic doors opening could be heard as well as a familiar voice. Paul impatiently turned around and saw that Miki had finally come from the Pokémon Center, smiles and all.

"Alrighty, I sent Ellie to my aunt so now we are ready to go," she said as she began to walk forward on the sidewalk.

"Well it took you long enough," Paul coldly commented while following his unwanted companion. "Where are we going anyway?"

"As I said, we're gonna resurrect your Pokémon," she replied as she kept walking. "The dude's lab is like a hop, skip, and a jump away."

The two of them walked on the sidewalk, being careful not to bump into anyone that was passing by. On the grassy area, was someone who was playing the violin very smoothly while others were sitting on the available benches. Accumula Town had many townhouses that towered over the regular houses. It was a tiny and quiet town; however, it still managed to be crowded.

"Well, here we are!" Miki exclaimed as she pointed to a flight of stairs leading to what appeared to be a house. "Come on!"

Paul shook his head in annoyance as he followed her up the short flight of stairs. From there, they headed to the front door of the small red and blue house where Miki knocked on the door. They waited a few minutes until the jiggling of the doorknob could be heard as the door opened. They were soon both greeted by a tall man with short blonde hair, a blue crescent moon headpiece, and a long white jacket covering a striking blue outfit.

"Hey! It's Colress!" Miki said as she put her hand on his shoulder. "What's going on bro?"

"Oh, same old same old," Colress replied before looking at Paul. "Who's your buddy?"

"Oh, him?" she asked as she pointed towards Paul. "He's someone who I am helping out. His name's Paul."

"Well, Paul, it's nice to meet you," Colress said as he extended his hand. "I'm Dr. Colress, a scientist."

However, instead of shaking his hand, Paul bowed in respect before opening his grey slingback and taking out the plume fossil from earlier. "Same to you," he responded. "I have this plume fossil, and I was told that you could resurrect it, am I correct?"

Colress took the fossil from Paul's hands to further inspect it. It was indeed a real plume fossil: a smooth blue rock with the etching of a bird's feather on the top. He signaled the duo to follow him in as he took the fossil to his desk near the kitchen area. The hallway was rather plain as it didn't really have any pictures or any artifacts hanging up. No potted plants could be seen either. The living room was also very plain, however, it was adorned with machines and parts.

"Of course, I can resurrect your fossil," Colress said as he headed into the kitchen and took out a device that resembled a microwave. "With this machine of course!"

Paul looked closely at the device as he rolled his eyes. It didn't just resemble a microwave, it was a microwave. Except, it had two antennas on the top shaped like lightbulbs. He gave Miki a look of disapproval as he shook his head no.

"So wait," Paul whispered to Miki. "So you brought me to this weird man's house, whose name sounds like a walrus so that he can "resurrect" my Pokémon using a microwave? Huh?"

Miki leaned over to Paul discreetly "You know blondes and their microwaves," she whispered while chuckling.

"Well then, if you are done whispering to each other" Colress said with a smile. "Prepared to be amazed!"

"Could you just resurrect my Pokémon, already?" Paul asked in an agitated tone. "I'm already wasting my time here."

Colress nodded his head with a smile as he opened the device door and placed the fossil inside. From there, he connected a tube of what appeared to be pink gas to the side of the device. He plugged the device on to the kitchen outlet and began to turn on the switch in the front. From there, the restoration device started to buzz as the lights flickered off and on. The buzzing on the machine grew louder and louder and the lights were brighter and brighter.

"We are now reaching critical levels!" Colress exclaimed excitedly. "I am brilliant!"

After five minutes of activity, the buzzing stopped and the lights stopped flashing. Smoke started to build up in front of the device as it cooled down for a few. Colress slowly opened the door to the device as the smoke cleared drastically. Inside the device stood a colorful bird Pokémon. Its' head was red and blue and the body was yellow. The tips of the wings had three claws each and it had a loud shriek. Paul immediately took an interest as he pulled out his Pokedex from his left pocket and began to scan the Pokémon.

"Archen, the first bird Pokémon," the voice on the Pokedex started to explain. "It was revived from an ancient fossil. Not able to fly, it lived in treetops and hopped from one branch to another."

"So… you're telling me that this Archen was the first bird Pokémon to ever exist?" Paul asked while he turned towards Miki.

"Yeah, they've been around alright," she explained. "That's why people are interested in resurrecting them, to find out more about them. What do you think, Paul? Not bad for your first Unova region Pokémon, right?"

'Hm, let's check you out' he thought as he scanned the archen once again, however using the screen to switch over the Pokedex's advanced functions. Once on the advanced screen, he selected the "check moves" option.

"Archen knows the following moves," the Pokedex explained. "dragon pulse, ancientpower, acrobatics, quick guard, and aqua tail."

"Hm, this archen could be useful to me," Paul said quietly to himself while analyzing the movepool. "I think I'll keep it."

Paul pulled out an empty Pokéball from his slingback and pointed it toward the bird Pokémon. Once done, it was then engulfed by a red light as it went inside the Pokéball. He then put the ball inside his jacket pocket and bowed as a sign of respect. He exited the house without saying anything. 'Now that I got my Pokémon, I can leave. I've had enough of this city and I've had enough of these weird people' he thought as he made his way out the front door and down the staircase. 'Now, it is on to my gym battle'.

"Paul, wait!"

The voice of his unwanted companion was following him as he tried to make his way out of town. Paul clenched his fists in annoyance as he stopped dead in his tracks, allowing the girl to catch up to him. However, this time, he sharply turned to her instead of having his back to her.

"What?!" Paul hissed loudly, obviously annoyed at being slowed down.

"Y'know, you're a very dramatic trainer..." Miki said as she crossed her arms. "But nonetheless. I have some stuff to give you on your journey."

She pulled out a large blue watch from her pocket. However, this watch was different. It had a screen that looked like it was made for video calling. Paul grimaced at the device as Miki placed it around his wrist.

"That is an Xtransceiver," she explained. "You can call up to four people at a time. You can also play games on it if you are bored. I already programmed some people in your xtransceiver: Jen, Marnie, myself, and some of the local battle clubs."

"Look, I don't talk to Jen or Marnie," Paul snapped as he pulled his wrist away. "I don't talk to anyone so I'm certainly not going to be asking you for anything. So this device is pretty much useless to me."

"Well, you never know, Paul," Miki started to explain. "That Jen seems to be ahead of the game so she might be able to help you. I'll try and help you as well if you need it. Remember, this is your first time here. This isn't like the boonies..."

'Boonies' Paul rolled his eyes as he shook his head from side to side. 'I can see why they are friends, they act just alike and not something I want to be associated with. However, I wonder if everyone from the Unova region is a snob..' he thought to himself as he gave the girl a disapproving look. It also made him think of his battle with Trip and how he was no match for him and how he insulted him with the same terminology. 'You see, this is why we don't like people from the boonies.' echoed through his mind.

"I can see why you and Trip are friends," Paul said sarcastically. "Yes, I come from a rural area, but it doesn't mean I am not-knowing. What's with you guys thinking you are better than everyone else?"

Miki smiled as she began to laugh. It was as if she was amused by Paul's words. 'She really is a weirdo. She laughs at the strangest things...' Paul thought to himself as he raised one eyebrow. 'I fail to find the humor in all of this..'. Meanwhile, Miki looked up at Paul and looked into his eyes. He closed his eyes and took a couple of deep breaths to process everything that was going on.

"I don't think I am better than you, Paul," Miki said with a smile "I actually envy you and how confident you are. It is true some people in Unova look down on those who live in rural areas but I wouldn't worry about that. Worry about the journey! "

"I understand," the young man said. "Look, where's my next gym battle?"

"In Aspertia City," she replied. "The gym leader there uses normal-type Pokémon. However, you will need to go back to Nuvema Town to take a boat ride there."

With a new Pokémon in hand, Paul heads back to Nuvema town towards his next gym battle.

~!~

The boat ride to Aspertia City was long as Paul quickly got off the boat and proceeded to head towards the Pokémon Center at full speed. Dusk was starting to set in and he barely had any energy to train his new Pokémon. All he wanted to do was go to sleep for the night. After obtaining his room key from the nurse, he went down the short hallway and into the first room available. After shutting the door behind him, he quickly took the Xtransceiver from his pocket and threw it on the brown nightstand that was located next to a plain-looking bed with white sheets.

'I guess this is it. The real journey starts tomorrow' he thought as he began to throw his slingback onto the floor along with his outer jacket and undershirt. He then got down on the ground in the plank position and proceeded to do push-ups. For Paul, it was a good way to not only keep him physically strong but to mentally prepare him for whatever came his way. 'But then again, what am I getting so nervous about? I've traveled through Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and my home region and competed in all of their leagues! I already know the process. Just catch strong Pokémon and I will be fine!'.

However, after doing thirty-five pushups, Paul stopped himself as he held himself in the plank position. Sweat was dripping down his forehead and onto the floor as his heart began to beat fast. 'However, I know it won't be easy. The lifestyle here is a lot different than back in Veilstone, that's for sure. I wonder, how am I going to survive here?' he thought as he resumed to do more pushups. While he was doing so, he looked up at the nightstand where he had thrown his Xtransceiver. He grimaced at it for a few seconds before looking down at the floor. 'I guess… every once in a while, I should call that annoying brat. She might be helpful to me when it comes to navigating city life. However…'

After doing seventy-five push-ups, Paul quickly got up from the floor and looked up at the ceiling for a while, lost in thought. He thought about his unwanted tour guide and how she said that she worked at the battle tower. He also remembered how even her clothes said "black tower" on them as well. 'What is this battle tower she speaks of and where can I find it? Maybe… I could grow stronger. However… what if she is a trainer there? She could be useful to me if that were the case. I could stomach her constant smiling and retorts for me being stronger, no doubt!' Paul then proceeded to crawl into bed and closed his eyes for the night.

~:~

"Now, let's give it the old slam, back to back!"

Paul panicked as he felt his throat closing up. Those words replayed in his mind as he saw his Electivire's face become bright blue from the suffocation. The tighter Trip's Serperior wrapped his foe, the more Paul's throat closed up from the anxiousness.

"Alright, that's enough! I think we got the message through. Now throw it back!"

Like a worn-out basketball, the grass snake dropped Electivire's limp body on the floor. Paul could see that his Pokémon wasn't breathing. Breaking out into a cold sweat, Paul proceeded to run towards his unconscious Pokémon.

"Electivire was ok, but his trainer was awful. Just awful. Go back to the boonies and relearn the basics, will ya?"

Trip's dark chucking could be heard as Paul grew paler and paler by the minute. He tried shaking Electivire to try to wake him up, however, it was no use. His throat completely closed up as he was struggling to breathe himself. He started to blackout…


Paul quickly woke up from his sleep and sat upon his bed. He was breathing quickly as he was trying to catch his breath. He quickly looked around the room, it was mostly dark with hints of light coming from the outside streetlights and everything was still the same. Except, it was two-thirty in the morning. Shaking all thoughts of sleep from his mind, Paul got up from bed and proceeded to reach into his jacket pocket to grab a Pokéball. From there, he threw it up in the air and a burst of light came from the ball as Electivire emerged, looking confused and tired.

"I'm sorry Electivire," Paul said apologetically. "I just couldn't stop thinking about our battle with Trip."

The young man walked over to the window and pulled the curtains back. Electivire followed behind him as they looked over Aspertia City. The city looked deserted as there were hardly any people walking around. The lights illuminated the streets and it's many buildings. It was a small town, though Veilstone City was an even smaller town. In the horizon, sat a red building with a sign that read "trainer's school and gym". It was a small building with a school feeling hence the brick walls and pointy roof.

"Well, our challenge awaits us," Paul almost whispered. "Hey, Electivire, I have been thinking… that battle was just as a shock to you as it was to me, am I correct?"

Electivire wanted to appear strong as he hated to be seen as weak, however mulling over his trainer's words, he hung his head in sadness. Paul noticed it as he heard a depressed sigh coming from his Pokémon.

"Yeah, I understand," Paul said. "You want to beat him, don't you?"

Electivire nodded his head as he pumped his fists in confidence.

"Me too," the young man said as he walked back to bed. "If you work harder, I will work harder. We can beat him. I promise you."
 
The next morning, Paul stood outside the Pokémon Center, semi-confident and ready to tackle his next gym challenge. He walked a few blocks to get to the trainer's school. Still nervous from last night, he tried his best to keep his best poker face, caring not to show any emotion. However, the closer the school was, the more Paul began to feel a cold sweat coming on. His heart began to beat faster and faster. 'Man, I should have trained Archen when I could. However, I think it will do okay. It's got good moves. Electivire has brick break and I could always count on him to perform the way I'd want him to…' he thought as he finally reached the doorway of the school.

Paul took a deep breath as he proceeded to go in. It was a very small hallway filled with young trainers milling about. The classrooms themselves were full and kids were paying close attention to what was being said. Being an experienced trainer, Paul rolled his eyes as he gave a rough smile. He then looked up at the end of the hallway and saw what appeared to be the way to the battlefield. He ran, however, caring not to knock over some younger students on the way. However, Paul noticed someone coming towards him, not looking straight ahead. The two bumped into each other as they both fell to the floor.

"Hm, what a bother," the other trainer, who looked to be around Paul's age, said under his breath while getting up. "Another trainer who can't read the 'don't run' signs."

"Hey! You're the one who bumped into me!" Paul scowled.

This other trainer had long blue hair, a bit similar to Paul's, and had his white shirt tucked into a pair of black slacks. He was taller than Paul and possibly might be a little bit older than him.

"So, where's the gym leader?" Paul demanded more than asked.

'You are looking at him," the gym leader replied. "I'm Cheren, nice to meet you. I'm the Aspertia City gym leader."

"Well then, I'm Paul and I'm from Veilstone City, " Paul proceeded to announce. "And I challenge you to a gym battle!"

"Veilstone City? In the Sinnoh region? Oh…," Cheren started to say while letting out a light chuckle. "I've had three different trainers from the Sinnoh region battle me yesterday and two of them were from Veilstone City. The first challenger had an Empoleon, the second challenger was from a different city but she had a Raichu, and the third challenger used only his Infernape. They all won, of course."

As soon as Cheren mentioned an infernape and that the trainer who used it was male, Paul started to feel nervous again. His heart began to beat faster as he had memories of his Sinnoh league defeat at the hands of a certain friendly trainer and his infernape. 'Don't tell me he is also in Unova as well. I do not want to deal with him. He's not a bad trainer, I just want to put that part of my life behind me' Paul thought as he shook his head to snap out of it. 'Again, I'm here so that I could be stronger. Who cares about the other trainers?'

"...and I shall be number four then!" Paul said with confidence.

~!~

The gym battle was about to begin as the two opponents stood on opposite sides of the field. Like the battlefield at the laboratory, this battlefield was also a plain dirt field with a Pokéball symbol in the middle, however, it had no bleachers for anyone to sit. The referee this time was a grown man with a white Pokéball sweater and green shorts.

"Welcome to the Aspertia City gym!" the battle judge began to announce. "The battle will be between Cheren the gym leader and Paul the challenger. The battle will be two-on-two and will end when one side is unable to continue. Furthermore, only the challenger is allowed to substitute their Pokémon. It has been determined that Paul gets the first move. Now begin!"

"Archen, standby for battle!" Paul said as he threw his Pokéball in the air.

A burst of light came from the Pokéball as Archen appeared from the shadow. With an ear-shattering screech, the bird Pokémon assumed a fighting stance.

"Patrat, come on out!" Cheren said as he also threw his Pokéball in the air.

That same burst of light came from the gym leader's Pokéball as the Pokemon's figure emerged. When the light disappeared, there stood a brown meerkat like Pokémon with big red eyes. Paul grimaced at the meerkat as he pulled out his Pokedex to scan it.

"Patrat, the scout Pokémon," the Pokedex explained. "Extremely cautious, one of them will always be on the lookout, but it won't notice a foe coming from behind."

"Alright then," Paul started to command as he put away his Pokedex. "Archen, use dragon pulse!"

Archen started by opening its mouth and breathing out a large blue wave of energy towards the opponent. It did so while letting out a very loud screech that startled the gym leader's Patrat. Before Cheren could even command the scout Pokémon to even attack, the dragon pulse hit dead-on, flinging the patrat and causing it to slide ten feet on the ground.

"Patrat, jump on archen!" Cheren commanded.

"Swerve, then counter with ancient power!" Paul also commanded Archen.

At breakneck speed, the patrat ran towards its opponent, ready to jump on its opponent's back. Paul's Archen tried its best to move away, however, the patrat jumped as it successfully landed on the bird's back. The bird Pokemon panicked at it swerved left and right, desperate to shake the patrat off its back.

"Shake it off!" Paul commanded as he clenched his firsts in frustration.

"Use bite!" the gym leader commanded.

Using its claws to hold on, the patrat opened its mouth wide, baring its razor-sharp teeth. However, Archen readied its own attack by using its energy to create small rocks around it. Before the rodent Pokemon can bite, Paul's Archen then uses its wings to fling the rocks skyward successfully hitting Patrat off of its back as well as hitting the floor. As the dust cleared, the chipmunk Pokémon was lying there, trying it's best to stand up.

"Jump on Archen once more!" Cheren commanded again.

'I don't think so Cheren!' Paul thought as he watched his Pokemon fly side to side, trying to avoid the patrat landing on it's back once more. However, not even Paul realized how fast that patrat was as it was doing good on its mission to keep up with archen's flying. The rodent scurried along the battlefield until it used it's hind paws to leap and grab on to it's flying opponents' tail with its teeth.

"Well, well this just got interesting," the gym leader said as he smirked. "Use bite once more!"

Paul continued to clench his fists as he foresaw his defeat. His palms began to sweat. His archen was trying it's best to shake off its opponent, however, the patrat wasn't about to give up. However, he looked closely at the rodent holding on to the tail and remembered a move that it could use with its tail. 'Aqua tail! I got you now!' he thought as he smirked.

"Use aqua tail!" Paul commanded.

Even though its tail was in the opponent's mouth, Paul's Archen began to radiate water energy around its tail. It was glowing a light blue color as it began to slam the patrat down to the floor twice. The second time, the rodent let go of the tail as it just layed there, not moving at all.

"Patrat is unable to battle!" the referee announced. "Archen is the winner!"

Paul breathed a sigh of relief. "Great job, Archen," he said as he returned Archen back to its Pokéball. It felt as if a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders. The battle was finally finished and he finally won. 'Hmph, one more Pokemon to go and I can win this badge!' he thought as he took out his second Pokéball.

"Electivire, standby for battle!" Paul said with a smile, throwing his Pokéball in the air.

That same burst of light came as Electivire emerged, once again assuming a fighting stance.

"Lilipup, come on out!" the gym leader said as he also threw his second Pokéball.

After the bursting light simmered from the ball capsule, the figure of a puppy dog emerged. There appeared a very small dog Pokémon with shaggy fur, growing at Paul's Electivire. Paul once again took out his Pokedex to scan the Pokémon in question.

"Lilipup, the puppy Pokémon," the Pokedex explained. "Though it is a very brave Pokémon, it's also smart enough to check its foe's strength and avoid battle."

"Lilipup, use bite!" Cheren also commanded.

"We aren't doing THIS again," Paul said with confidence. "Electivire, brick break!"

With style and speed, the puppy Pokémon opened its mouth as it ran towards Electivire with sharp fangs, ready to execute a bite attack. However, Electivire was not phased by the small Pokémon's attempt to attack as it did not move, not one bit. However, the speed of the puppy Pokemon was not taken into account as the opponent, with its teeth, latched itself onto Electivire's hand. Electivire screamed in pain as it tried to shake the other Pokemon off its hand.

"Keep focused," Paul yelled. "Use brick break against the floor."

As the lilipup remained stuck to the hand, Electivire proceeded to execute a swift chop against the floor. The force of the brick break was so great, that not only did it send the smaller Pokémon to the ground, it also bounced a few times before landing on all fours again, assuming a fighting stance.

"What?!" Paul said as he was shocked that his opponent's Pokemon remained unharmed after such an intense move.

"Alright Lilipup, use retaliate!" Cheren commanded with confidence.

"Electivire, counter with thunderpunch!" Paul commanded with a wavering uncertainty.

Electric currents began to build up as it surrounded Electivire's right fist. At the same time, the lilipup started to run towards its opponent at full speed with its head slightly bent down. Right as Electivire pulled his fist back to execute a punch, the opponent's Pokemon, with full force, slammed it's head and front paws into Electivire's stomach. The force from the attack caused the thunderbolt Pokemon to crash into the side of the school. Paul panicked as he turned around to see his Pokemon laying there, unresponsive.

"Electivire is unable to battle!" the referee announced. "Lilipup is the winner!"

"You did good Electivire, take a good rest," Paul said as he returned his battered Pokemon back to his Pokeball.

"What's wrong?" Cheren asked in a sarcastic manner. "Where's all that confidence you had when you came here? Retaliate is more powerful when the previous Pokemon in the party has been defeated, you know.."

Paul's eyes widened when he heard the explanation. 'So it WAS a trap' he thought as he clenched both fists in anger. 'How could I not know this? I will NOT lose at the first gym! I will not!'. The young man took another Pokeball from his pocket and stared at it for a few seconds.' It's all on you!'

"Archen, standby for battle!" Paul growled as he aggressively threw his Pokéball in the air.

A burst of light came from the Pokéball as Archen appeared from the shadow. With an ear-shattering screech, the bird Pokémon once again assumed a fighting stance.

"Use dragon pulse!" Paul yelled.

"What a bother…" Cheren said under his breath. "Lilipup, dodge, and then use work up!"

Like with the previous opponent, Archen opened its mouth and let out a large blue wave of energy towards the lilipup. However, the puppy Pokemon in a quick second, dodged the attack by leaping to the side, sliding a little bit. The lilipup then proceeded to move up twice and down while brown smoke energy surrounding it.

"Use dragon pulse again!" Paul commanded.

Once more, the bird Pokemon opened its mouth, however it inhaled a larger amount of air as it began to let out an even powerful wave of energy. However, Paul noticed that the gym leader wasn't commanding his Pokemon to do anything. 'I wonder… is this a test? We shall see!' he thought as his archen's attack seemed to hit the puppy Pokemon dead on. However, the opponent was nowhere to be found as both Paul and Archen were shocked. The young man then looked up and immediately clenched his fist when he saw the opponent's Pokemon had jumped high in the air.

"Bite!" Cheren commanded calmly.

The lilipup proceeded to dive towards its opponent, bearing its teeth. In a blink of an eye, the puppy Pokemon proceeded to bite the bird's back, hard. The archen proceeded to try to shake the opponent off its back until it was finally successful in doing so. Like before, it bounced a few times before landing on all fours again, assuming a fighting stance.

"Use ancient power!" Paul commanded

Archen mustered up every bit of its energy to try to create small rocks around it. However, unlike its battle with Patrat, this time it could only create three small floating gems around it. "What's going on?" Paul asked as he panicked.

"Oh look, a trainer who doesn't know his Pokemon's ability," Cheren commented under his breath. "Let's wrap this up, Lilipup use tackle!"

While the bird Pokemon was struggling to fling the three floating stones at its opponent, the lilipup proceeded to charge towards its timid opponent. However, unlike with retaliate, the lilipup's head was looking straight instead of down as it successfully pounced on top of Paul's archen, completely dissolving the floating gems. Paul once again panicked as he saw his Pokemon lying motionless on the ground.

"Archen is unable to battle!" the referee announced. "Lilipup is the winner! Which means the victory goes to Cheren the gym leader!"

Paul hung his head in disbelief as he took out his Pokeball and proceeded to return Archen. 'I lost, at the first gym! What am I, four?' he thought as a tear almost formed. He started to think about the one time where his greatest rival lost at the first gym and how he judged him for doing so. 'Now I understand how he felt. I feel like such a loser'.

"Paul, you did good today," Cheren started to say. "However your biggest mistake was underestimating your opponent on top of having no strategy. Come back and challenge me again when you are ready…"

"I understand," Paul said as he bowed respectfully. He then went on to heal his Pokemon.
 
Afternoon set in as Paul exited the Pokemon center, feeling empty. He took out his two Pokeballs and pressed the button on them to release his Pokemon. A red beam of light came out as both Archen and Electivire emerged. As Paul put both Pokeballs in his pocket, Electivire crossed his arms and looked in the opposite direction while Archen hanged his head in sadness.

"Hey, don't be sad," Paul said softly as he knelt down. "It's my fault, I let you down. I promise I will do better as a trainer next time."

Paul tried his best to fight back his tears as he continued to wipe them away as they formed. As he took in a deep breath, Paul felt his Xtransceiver vibrate in his pocket followed by its muffled ringing. He wiped his tears away and sighed heavily as he quickly pulled the device from his pocket to answer it. 'It's probably going to be her...' he thought as he pressed the green button.

"What do you want?" Paul asked in an annoyed tone.

"Hello, Paul," Jen's voice casually said on the other line. "I hope you've made a dent in your journey. How many badges have you won so far?"

"It's really none of your business, you see?" Paul snapped as he was getting ready to hang up the call. "Now what do you want?"

"Alright, alright, you can calm down now,'" Jen chuckled lightly. "I'm calling because Miki wanted everyone to meet on the lookout in Aspertia City. It is behind the Pokemon Center."

Paul lowered his eyebrow as he heavily sighed. "On my way…" he said as he hung up.

'I wonder what she wants…' he thought as he picked up Archen and began to walk to the lookout. However, as he walked, he looked around and realized that Electivire was nowhere to be found. Paul growled as he looked behind him and on both sides. After scanning the area, he found his Pokemon near a flight of stairs by the Pokemon Center. However, he wasn't alone. The same electabuzz from yesterday was seen, except one of her bows wasn't tied to her antennas. She looked up at Electivire with a blue ribbon in her hand as she lifted her hand for him to grab it.

'I hate that electabuzz...' Paul began to walk towards the pair as he growled under his breath. At that time, Electivire was trying his best to tie the ribbon on to Ellie's left antenna, however, it came out lopsided compared to the perfectly tied ribbon on the right side. As Paul was walking, he heard a high pitched male voice coming in the same direction. When he looked ahead, he saw a young man, who looked around eleven, running towards him with a fire monkey Pokemon that was carrying a long white stick with a ball attached to it.

"Outta my way, outta my way, outta my way!" the young man yelled before he slammed into Paul.

When they collided, Paul fell on the floor while the other trainer was trying his hardest to stand up. The purple-haired man stood up quickly as held on to his Pokemon. He dusted himself off quickly while the other trainer stood up. He was a shorter trainer with spiky brown hair and matching shorts and a white t-shirt. His Pokemon came by his side, holding what looked like a messenger bag on the left side. Paul quickly became irritated as the other trainer's Pokemon began prodding him with its white stick.

"Hey, if you don't stop hitting me, I'm gonna break that stick in half," Paul said sternly as he snatched the stick away.

"Hey, you can't talk to my infernape like that!" the younger trainer said as he took the stick back from Paul. "You oughta be in jail for being mean to a blind Pokemon!"

'Oh no!' Paul thought as he put his face in his palm in frustration. He took in a deep breath before he began to apologize. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he sighed. "I'm just stressed today…"

"Oh okay," the younger trainer said as he stared at Paul. However, upon inspection, his eyes got bigger as his eyes met Paul's. "Paul is that you?!"

"Forrest?" Paul asked as he immediately recognized the other trainer. 'So that infernape trainer from Veilstone City the gym leader was talking about... it is him. How cool that he already won a badge!' he thought to himself as he smiled at Forrest's infernape.

"You must be Audrey, am I correct?" Paul asked as he knelt down to the fire monkey's level. "I can see you have become stronger as you just won a badge."

Forrest's eyes panned over to Paul's archen as he got excited. "Woah! What's that Pokemon? Where's my Pokedex?" He asked as dug through his bag and pulled out a standard calculator. 'What is he doing?' Paul thought as he shook his head side to side while he stood up. The younger trainer then proceeded to point the calculator at the bird Pokemon while pressing the buttons on the device.

"I think...you are using a calculator…" Paul said as he tilted his head to the right in confusion.

"Ah! I knew that!" Forrest said as he frantically got out his real Pokedex. "I was just fooling around."

However, his Pokedex was a lot different than Paul's. It was a purple device that resembled a handheld system with twin screens and a slide-out scanner to the right. This Pokedex was very reminiscent of the Sinnoh Pokedex, while Paul's Pokedex was a grey rectangular device. Forrest started to point his device at the archen.

"No data can be found," the feminine robotic voice said.

Both Paul and Forrest lowered their eyebrow at the result. 'Aren't Pokedexes supposed to know everything?' Paul thought to himself as he proceeded to pull out his own Pokedex. The younger trainer on the other hand kept pointing his Pokedex at the archen many times, however, the same result appeared. "No data can be found". While Forrest still attempted, Paul pointed his own Pokedex at Archen once more.

"Archen, the first bird Pokémon," the voice on Paul's Pokedex started to explain. "It was revived from an ancient fossil. Not able to fly, it lived in treetops and hopped from one branch to another."

"Okay, that's great and all but what's wrong with my Pokede-" Forrest asked. However, he quickly stopped as he looked over at Ellie and Electivire.

"Woah! Look at that electabuzz!" he exclaimed as he gave Paul his Pokedex and ran off. "I want a closer look! Paul, fix my Pokedex!"

While Paul was messing with the Pokedex, the younger trainer proceeded to run towards Ellie and Electivire with the calculator in hand. Ellie looked up at the excited young man and stepped back as her eyes grew bigger in terror. She proceeded to scream as she ran up the steps as fast as she could.

"Hey, pretty girl," a familiar voice said as it could be heard rushing down the stairs. "What happened?"

Ellie made her way to the top of the first flight of stairs. As Paul caught up, his heart sank as he saw none other than his rival, Trip coming down the stairs. However, he had another Pokemon at his side. It had a bulky yellow body, two round red hands that resembled boxing gloves and its head had a tie on top, making it resemble a punching bag. It also had a red bow on its tie for decoration. The frightened electabuzz raised her arms up as a signal for Trip to pick her up.

"What's got you so scared?" Trip asked in a calming voice as he held Ellie in his arms, giving her a kiss on the top of her head. She held on tight while she whimpered and shook in fear. "It's gonna be okay. I got you. No one's gonna hurt you..."

"Is that electabuzz yours?" Forrest asked excitedly as he stood on the bottom of the steps. "Why is your electabuzz brown? I thought they were yellow."

"...maybe…" Trip answered as he grimaced at the younger trainer. "Why are you asking me stupid questions? You have a Pokedex for that. Basic stuff."

Paul proceeded to use his own Pokedex to scan the mysterious yellow Pokémon that was standing by Trip's side, waving hello.

"Makuhita, the Guts Pokémon," the Pokedex explained. "It toughens its body by slamming into thick trees. Many snapped trees can be found near its nest."

"Now that you know what a makuhita is, could you guys do me a favor and get lost?" Trip asked sternly as he sighed in frustration. "You're scaring Ellie."

Paul rolled his eyes as he proceeded to return Electivire to his Pokeball. As he began to motion for Forrest to follow him, they saw the rest of the group, walking towards them. Marnie with Raichu perched on her shoulder and a taller girl who looked similar to Jen all stopped in front of the steps as they stood beside Paul. The taller girl had a brown and green turtle Pokemon standing beside her. As soon as he laid eyes on the massive turtle, Forrest proceeded to run behind Paul.

"Miss Jen couldn't make it, but this is her older sister, Miss Millie," Marnie explained as she pointed to the taller girl as well at the large turtle Pokemon. "This is her partner Torrie."

"Eh, just call me Millie," she requested. "No need to be formal."

"That thing's not gonna eat me right?" Forrest asked as he was shaking in fear behind Paul.

"Son, he's not gonna eat you," Millie explained. "Trust me. You ain't on the menu..."

Paul rolled his eyes as he looked more closely at the taller girl. She had medium-length brown hair with a brown turtle next tank top and a sand-colored skirt. She seemed awfully familiar but the young man couldn't put his finger on it. 'I swear I have seen her before…' he thought as he grimaced at the group.

"Well butter my buns and call me a biscuit, look who's here!" Millie exclaimed as she approached Paul. "I reckon you're that guy that done beat me in the Sinnoh league two years ago! Paul right?"

'Ah, that's where I remember her from!' Paul thought as he finally remembered who she was. Millie was a trainer he had battled with in the first round of the Sinnoh league. He had swept her team three to nothing and won his match with flying colors. 'However, how could she be so happy about that? Shouldn't she be bitter? Some people are so confusing!".

"...are you still holding on to that torterra?" Paul remarked as he smirked. "You should have known better from our match two years ago."

"Sure am, Paul. We may have lost but we have a tight bond. Right, Torrie?" Millie asked while she looked around.

However, she noticed that Torrie was nowhere to be found. "Y'know, Torrie was here a minute ago. So I have no idea where that green rascal could have run off to!" Millie said as she grew worried.

Paul noticed on the top of the first set of stairs, Trip still stood there, holding Ellie and his arms while Makuhita stood beside him. However, he also noticed Millie's torterra trying to climb its way up the stairs. From the way he kept trying to get Trip's Pokemon's attention, it seemed as if he wanted to play with them as he wagged his tail in excitement. However, just like with Forrest, Ellie shook and whimpered in fear at the sight of the giant turtle trying to get near her. However this time she was also crying.

"Get lost!" Trip yelled in anger as he attempted to shove Torrie away using his foot.

"Hey, you can't do that to my torterra!" Millie shouted as she pulled out a pokéball from her pocket. "Return, partner!"

A bright red light came from her pokéball as the turtle was returned back to his ball. Trip rolled his eyes while coming down the stairs with both Pokemon in tow. He made shush noises to calm a crying electabuzz as he reached the bottom of the steps.

"Look, this isn't the boonies," Trip asserted as frustration was mounting in his voice. "Some of us do not appreciate people or Pokemon getting in our faces and I don't want your torterra in mine. Okay?"

"...and you," the frustrated young man said as he pointed to Forrest. "Try picking up a current Pokedex next time. Your Sinnoh region 'dex isn't going to register anything here."

Paul clenched his fists in anger while he was shaking. 'I wish I could just smack this guy..' he thought as he handed the Sinnoh dex to Forrest. Trip stopped as he glanced over at Paul before heading on his way.

"Dude," Paul said as he raised his voice. "What is wrong with you?!"

"Grow up, Paul...," Trip said gruffly as he began to head towards the pier and on his way home for the afternoon.

"Call me when you can," Paul whispered to Forrest while he also began to walk away. He didn't care about what the others were going to do, he just wanted out of that situation. 'This was a huge waste of time' he thought as he headed towards Route 19. 'Nonetheless, I will find the next town on my own.'
 
The sky darkened as dusk began to settle. After walking and training on Route 20, Paul eventually made it to the next town which was Floccesy Town. It was a very small town, so much so that there wasn't even a gym in sight. 'Well this city is useless' he thought as he proceeded to head into the Pokémon Center. After getting his room key, he headed down the long hallway to the last room to the right.

Like his routine from last night, right after he shut the door behind him, he proceeded to throw his slingback and his Xtransceiver on the floor. However, as he was about to take off his jacket, he heard a loud ringing from his Xtransceiver. 'Ugh, who could be calling me at this time?' he thought as he rolled his eyes. Paul picked up the device from this floor and pressed the green button to answer it.

"What do you want?" Paul answered in an annoyed tone.

"Well, hello Mr. Call-Me-When-You-Can," Forrest said in a sarcastic tone. "Nice weather we're having."

"Ugh, you be quiet," Paul snapped. "So, what did you guys do anyway?"

Paul proceeded to wrap the device around his wrist while he sat down on the floor. While waiting for an answer, he took off his jacket and threw it next to him. He then rolled up the sleeves on his undershirt to be up to his elbows. 'Hm, what's taking him so long? He never takes long to answer' he thought as he put the Xtransceiver to his left ear. Paul could hear some faint rattling in the background as if someone was getting something.

"Hey bro, you there?" Paul asked.

"No, no! Bad infernape! Give me back my watch!" Forrest faintly chuckled in the background. "Thank you!"

Paul couldn't help but smirk as he heard the commotion. "Looks like you got your hands full," he commented.

"Heh, it's just Audrey, she's excited about training," the younger trainer said on the other line. "Paul, it's weird. Like we waited after you left, but after a while, everyone else left."

"Really?" Paul asked.

"Yeah," Forrest continued. "Anyway, Audrey and I waited but then we heard that Trip guy yell into his watch. He seemed frustrated with everything, including the Pokemon he had. It seemed like he didn't want to babysit any longer today. An hour later, a trainer with black hair came and picked up her Pokemon and Trip stormed off."

"I guess, our presence hit a nerve," Paul remarked. "He's a trainer I've butted heads with when I first got to this region."

"Really, Paul?" Forrest chucked. "You've only been in Unova for a few hours at the time and already you have a rival? Typical."

"Yeah whatever," Paul snapped as he was about to end the call. "Go on, or I end this call…"

"Well, " Forrest continued, "The only thing to mention was that she asked me if I was a part of the group that was waiting and I said yes. She just told me to come back to Floccesy Town in the morning."

"Interesting," Paul said as he got up to stretch his legs.

"Well, I need to hang up for the night. I need to do some training. "Forrest said. "Goodnight!"

After that, Paul heard a click sound and the call ended. He proceeded to take the device off his wrist and place it on the floor. He then took off his undershirt and threw it on the ground. Continuing what he was wanting to do before the call, he got down on the floor on his back and proceeded to do sit-ups instead of push-ups. 'So I wonder if there is a way to get back to the first town for my rematch' he thought as he pushed himself through the workout routine. 'Maybe, I should call that girl. Maybe she could help me, but I am also too tired to talk to anyone else'.

While he was doing his sit-ups, Paul glanced over at the Xtransceiver lying next to the other items he threw on the ground. As he approached his fiftieth rep, he sat up and allowed the sweat to drip from his forehead. 'I guess… fine, I will call her. I do want to see if she has any advice for me for beating the first gym' he thought as he snatched the Xtransceiver from the ground and sighed heavily. He scrolled through the very short list of names on the screen and waited for a response.

After a few rings, a clicking sound could be heard. "Paul is that you?" Miki said sarcastically on the other line. "What happened to 'I'm certainly not going to be asking you for anything. So this device is pretty much useless to me' huh?"

"I don't appreciate your sass," Paul retorted. "Especially since I basically wasted my time at the lookout."

"I'm sorry, Paul," Miki apologized. "I had a challenger-er-I meant a challenge at work so I was kind of late, no biggie. All I wanted to do was show you guys some of my Pokémon on my uncle's ranch. How about I show you my Pokémon tomorrow? It may give you some inspiration for your Pokémon team, y'know?"

"A challenger?" Paul asked as he stood up from the floor. "Are you some type of gym leader or something?"

"I said CHALLENGE Paul, not a challenger," Miki retorted. "How can front desk people have challengers?"

"Yeah, whatever," he snapped. "Look, whatever you want to show me, show it."

"How about we meet up at the front of the Pokémon Center where you're at… around 7:30?" she asked. "You can also bring your friend with the fire monkey too."

"Why so early?"

"I just wanted to do it early that's all. The reason isn't any of your business. So, I'll see you in Floccesy Town, g'night."

With that, she hung up the Xtransceiver for the night. Paul felt surprised as he just stared at the device. Normally, he would be the one to abruptly end a call however this wasn't the case. 'I know what I heard. I'm not stupid,' Paul thought as he crawled into bed. 'Maybe she could be useful to me after all…'

~.~

The next morning, Paul waited outside the Pokémon Center for his unwanted companion. The sun was set to rise soon as the meet time was soon to approach. He waited impatiently, hoping that she would get there on time, as he paced back and forth. 'Where is she? If she doesn't get here soon, I'm leaving,' he thought as he sat down for a while. The wind was slowly starting to pick up and the temperature was on the chilly side.

"Wait! Wait!" a familiar voice shouted as it came closer and closer. "We're gonna be late!"

Paul looked to the right and saw Forrest and his infernape running towards them rather quickly, except this time, he was wearing a plain blue jogging suit. 'Figures,' he thought as he rolled his eyes. 'At least he isn't going to run into me'.

"Well that's just great!" the young man said as he was out of breath. "We wanted to be the first ones here. At least… that was our plan.."

"Well I'm sorry it didn't work out that way," Paul said sarcastically.

Both trainers were interrupted by a low screeching sound of a flying creature up ahead. The young men looked up and saw a reddish-orange moth-like Pokémon with a red bow on each horn on the side of its head, six wings that resembled the sun's rays, and a white furry head with blue eyes hovering over him. Paul immediately took out his Pokédex from his pocket and scanned the mysterious Pokémon.

"Volcarona, the Sun Pokémon, and the evolved form of Larvesta," the Pokédex explained. "When volcanic ash darkened the atmosphere, it is said that Volcarona's fire provided a replacement for the sun."

"That Pokemon seems a little scary for me; you catch it, Paul," Forrest said as he ran behind Paul.

Paul rolled his eyes as he got out an empty Pokeball and started to concentrate. However, as soon as he was about to catch it, he heard a familiar voice call out.

"Sunny, over here!"

Paul turned around and saw Miki and her makuhita walking casually towards him, with her volcarona flying towards her. The moth perched itself on her shoulder as they both approached the young men.

"Is that a new way of catching Pokemon?" Miki asked. "Glare at the Pokemon while holding an empty Pokeball?"

"I've done this before you know. I know exactly what I am doing," he hissed. "I'll thank you and your volcarona to get out of my face."

The tone of Paul's voice coupled with his demeanor slightly scared Miki as she proceeded to take a few steps back. Paul tilted his head in confusion as he watched the girl slightly shake in fear. 'She was confident before, what happened?'

"Hey Paul, I was just messing with you. I sent Sunny out to go look for you, I didn't think you would try to catch her. I'm really sorry. Please forgive me. Ready to see my Pokémon?"

"Hey, it's alright!" Forrest said as he went over to Miki. "Paul can be scary sometimes but he's actually nice. He sometimes doesn't know how to have fun."

Paul turned to her as he loosened his anger towards her. He wasn't used to the sarcastic resorts constantly but it would take some time for him to get used to if he were to hang around this girl. 'She could be useful to me in my quest to become stronger, it is just that she can be so annoying…. however, I shall tag along. For all, I know it could be a waste of my time'.

"It's alright," Paul said as he shrugged his shoulders. "I will go with you."

"Well come on then!" Miki and Makuhita ran in front of the young men as they followed them the rest of the way. "We're off to see my Pokémon!"

~.~

The group finally arrived at Floccesy Ranch. It was a small farm with a few houses and a lot of different Pokémon. Paul looked around and saw a whole bunch of blue sheep Pokémon, hanging around different areas of the ranch. They were small but very fluffy sheep with cream-colored wool and a flashing light shining on the end of their tails. Curious to see what Pokémon they were, Paul stopped to pull out his Pokédex and scan them.

"Mareep, the Wool Pokémon," the Pokédex explained. "When cold weather increases static electricity, its wool doubles in size and the tip of its tail glows slightly."

"Done scanning those mareep, Paul?" Miki asked playfully.

"Oh, you be quiet!" Paul snapped back as he continued to follow. "Are those mareep yours?"

"No Paul, these are wild Pokemon," she answered. "But wouldn't it be cool they were mine, though? I'd have a whole army of mareep to take over Unova haha!"

"Well, I want one!" Forrest exclaimed as he skipped with his eyes closed. "They are so cool!"

However, all of a sudden, the young man bumped into something as he fell back. Forrest opened his eyes and saw a mareep standing in front of him. However, this mareep's wool was a light pink and not yellow like the rest of the flock. The young man narrowed his dark blue eyes as he smiled. The wild mareep assumed a battle stance as it lowered itself as if it were about to pounce.

"Alright! Finally some action!" he said as he got up. "Audrey, are you ready for this?"

Audrey shook her head up and down as she handed her trainer the white stick she had been carrying. She then went in front of her trainer, assuming a battle stance. Paul and Miki both sat down on the grass as they were tuned into the battle.

"So, is he your friend, Paul?" Miki asked. "Is he a new trainer?"

"Well… let's just say… down the road… he's actually going to become my brother," Paul explained. "He started his journey a year ago. I met him when my brother made me do some type of mentor program."

The wild mareep started to run towards its opponent as if it was about to pounce. "That's tackle!" Forrest exclaimed. "Audrey, dodge it to the right!"

However, as Audrey was getting ready to evade the attack, the mareep quickly headbutted the opponent in the stomach, landing a successful tackle attack. The attack caused the fire monkey to fall backward, sliding a few feet to the right.

"That's fast," the young man said softly. "Alright, spin, and use swift!"

Audrey nodded as she quickly got up and held her arms to the side. She then started to spin while bright yellow stars came from all directions. The mareep tried to dodge as it ran in the opposite direction, however, the star-shaped rays came in from all directions and started to hit the opponent multiple times. The opposing mareep lowered its head to better endure the attack.

"That's great! Keep it up!" Forrest said as he pulled out a yellow and black Pokeball from his bag.

"What Pokeball is that?" Paul asked.

"It's called an ultra ball, Paul," Forrest answered. "Now watch. Go ultra ball!"

While his infernape was still spinning, Forrest threw the ultra ball at the tired mareep. The ball hit the sheep on the head before engulfing it in a red light and sending it inside the ball. As the ball closed it fell to the floor, still surrounded by the swift young man watched anxiously as the ball moved back and forth about three times. The ball's light turned white as it stopped shaking, signaling that the capture was successful.

"We did it!" Forrest exclaimed while he went over to his infernape. "We got ourselves a new friend!"

"That was great!" Miki said as she got up to grab the ultra ball and handed it to Forrest. "That's an unusual way of catching Pokemon."

"Thank you. I should have done a little bit more but I wanted to try something out," the young man said as he carried his tired infernape on his back. "Well, I would have loved to stay and look at all the Pokemon but I need to take care of my Pokemon first. Later!"

"Wait!" Paul yelled out while he put his hand in front of him.

However, it was too late as Forrest was already too far to even hear Paul call out for him.
 
'What a weirdo..' Paul thought as he gave a slight smirk. After passing by a few houses dotted with mareep, it seems as if they finally reached their destination. They stood in front of a large light brown house, with a side yard full of different Pokémon. The area around it was rather bare and grassy like the rest of the ranch; however, it didn't have that country feeling. To Paul, it felt more like a mansion out on the field. While he glanced over at the Pokémon in the yard, Paul started to glance over to the area with his Pokédex in tow.

Miki took Paul to the right side of the house, where there was a vast white fence that blocked the yard area. While she jumped over the border to greet her Pokémon, Paul's eyes widened when he saw all the different Pokémon that hung out in that area. They all ran to greet their trainer. There were three bipedal dinosaur-like Pokémon that piled on top of her. One was dark grey and mostly resembled a rhinoceros. It had a bow on one of its horns and a small drill like snout. The other was aquamarine with silver plates and a long tail and horns protruding from it's plated armor on its head, which Paul knew was an aggron. Lastly, the third one, which was the smallest of the three, resembled a pachycephalosaurus, as it was light red with a dome head that had spikes and a short curved beak.

Paul took out his Pokédex to scan the other two Pokémon.

"Rhydon, the Drill Pokémon and the evolved form of Rhyhorn. Standing on its hind legs freed its forelegs and made it smarter. It is very forgetful, however."

"Cranidos, The Headbutt Pokemon. A lifelong jungle dweller from 100 million years ago, it would snap obstructing trees with head butts."

Paul slipped his Pokédex into his pocket as he stepped a little bit closer to the group. 'Hm, I these are an interesting set of Pokemon,' he thought to himself. 'However, I didn't know they could be different colors.' Miki got herself off the floor as she signaled Paul to come closer. However, as he did just that, both her aggron and rhydon got behind their trainer, unsure what to expect. However, her cranidos ran towards Paul and hugged him. The young man was startled as he froze in his tracks.

"I'm sorry, some of my Pokemon can be shy," Miki explained while she walked towards Paul to pick up her cranidos. "But others, like my cranidos, can be friendly! I know you scanned them, but Rey is my rhydon, and this is my aggron, Arynn. Of course, you also met my cranidos, Amy. I have many others here, but they are either asleep or inside with my uncle."

The girl then put down her Pokemon as she walked up to Paul, getting out a handful of red spiked berries that looked similar to tomatoes from her pocket and put them in his hands.

"Why are you putting tamato berries in my hand?" Paul asked as he lowered an eyebrow. "I don't like spicy food…"

"They're not for you, sir," Miki said in a sarcastic tone. "They're for my Pokemon. They love tamato berries. Try feeding it to them; they may grow more friendly towards you."

Paul shook his head as he proceeded to walk up to the gate with the berries in hand. He then moved his handful in front of him but enough for the Pokémon to grab the berries from his hand. Amy took an immediate interest as she took a bunch from his hand and ate them happily. Rey and Arynn proceeded to stare at the remaining berries that were in his hand. It seemed as if they were unsure if he was safe or not. 'This is pretty lame…' he thought as he tried his best to keep his poker face intact.

Just as they started to come closer, Paul could feel the sound of buzzing in his ear as he slightly turned his head. He then jumped back as the volcarona swooped down and took the rest of the berries from his hand.

"Oh, come on now, Sunny," Miki said in an annoyed tone. "They're not all for you…"

However, all was well as Arynn came up to Paul and licked his hand as a sign of acceptance. He closed his eyes tight as he was trying his hardest not to cringe inside. He wasn't used to Pokémon being very friendly towards him or showing him any affection. Not even Electivire was known to be friendly towards his trainer. However, Paul pulled his hand back as he felt the feeling of teeth scraping on his hand.

"I'm sorry, my Pokémon can get carried away at times, especially when they see that you have tamato berries," Miki explained as she stood beside Paul. "I think they are beginning to like you, though."

"Well, I can see that," Paul said as he rolled his eyes. "A bit too friendly for my taste."

"Why?"

Instead of snapping at her for asking such a question, Paul turned to her poker-faced. As if he had an answer in mind but did not know how to frame it. Besides, he didn't want to scare her again.

"I just… think it is a waste of time," Paul started to say calmly. "It makes people and Pokémon become slackers. I've dealt with it."

"So what you're sayin' is that affection makes people and Pokémon...slackers?" Miki asked as she came closer to him.

Paul began to take two steps ahead and turn his back towards the girl while crossing his arms. "Yes…" he said coldly. "Have a problem with it?"

"No-no, you're not far from the truth," she started to say as her voice was shaking.

"Huh?" Paul quickly turned around as he listened. 'Is she actually… agreeing with me?' he thought to himself as he tried to shake off the surprise.

"Paul, it's true that spoiling your Pokémon can be bad," Miki explained as she came closer to him. "Sometimes they can be a pain in the butt, and you might feel overwhelmed. But, it can also bring you closer to your Pokémon as well. Being affectionate doesn't mean you are spoiling your Pokemon. It also doesn't always mean that your Pokemon won't work hard for you. I'd say when your brother was battling; his infernape was working hard for him, don't you think?"

'That makes….sense…' Paul mulled over her words and thought about the battle from earlier. "Yeah, seeing them battle reminds me of...someone else…"

Thinking about Forrest's battle made Paul think about another trainer who was a young male trainer with short black hair, brown eyes, and a signature thunder creature. A trainer who would always preach about trusting and loving your Pokemon that same philosophy that had beat him in the Sinnoh league two years ago.

Paul shook his head from side to side and growled in anger. 'How dare that kid made me bring up such thoughts!' he thought as he looked to the sky. He thought about his past training methods and how he used to be very hard on his Pokémon to make them powerful. 'I wish she wouldn't make me bring up such memories…' he thought as he closed his eyes, letting the gentle wind brush against his face. 'I thought she was going to give me some lecture about how I should be more friendly. However, if you put it that way, what she said makes sense.'

He then turned to Miki and stared at her for a few minutes while putting his thoughts together. 'There are so many questions I have for her, but I need to frame them properly.' The girl turned her head as she was confused as to why Paul kept staring.

"Paul?"

"Listen, I'm not the best when speaking to people I don't know," Paul replied. "Unless it's my family or someone much older than me, I'm bad at it. But...I'd like to talk to you some more. Mostly to answer some questions I've wanted to ask since I got here."

"Okay, Paul," Miki said as she signaled Paul to walk with her around the perimeter of the ranch.

The young man followed closely as they began to stroll towards the nearby woods near the house. "Okay, I can't believe I am going to tell you this, but I lost at the Aspertia City gym," Paul confessed as he turned away.

"It's okay, Paul," Miki said. "When I first started my journey, I lost at the first gym as well. "You know Accumula Town? That's where my first gym was, and I lost. It took me two tries to win. The second gym was the worst, though. At that gym is what inspired the Aspertia City gym."

"Really?" Paul asked as he looked over.

"Yeah!" the girl explained. "Every trainer I had grown up with all agreed that the Nacrene City gym was the hardest gym ever. If the Aspertia City gym is anything like that, I'd say you're okay. The gym is just hard."

"I tried to defeat Cheren and his normal type Pokemon," Paul explained with frustration mounting in his voice. "But he kept hitting with this move called "retaliation," and we lost."

Miki's eyes widened with Paul explaining the type of move that was giving him trouble. "Oh yes, retaliation was the cause of my losses at the Nacrene City gym. That move does double the damage when a Pokemon from the same party has been rendered unable to battle."

"I understand," the young man said as he looked around. "Okay, how were you able to win?"

"Hm, one thing I can tell you is to have your Pokemon learn a fighting type move," Miki explained. "Also, when you knock out the first Pokemon, save your ace Pokemon for last. Also, make sure you are quick and dodge when you can. But, the more important thing I want to say is you need a plan. You can't go in guns blazing."

'Think of a plan…' Paul thought as he reminisced about his gym battle. 'She has a point. I didn't have a plan when I went in. That's why I lost. I need to do better if I want to win. It would also help if I caught more Pokemon'. He then looked over to the girl and smirked. "Noted," he said under his breath.

"He also spoke of my archen's ability and that I didn't understand it," Paul remarked. "What is that about?"

"Oh yeah, I wanted to tell you," Miki replied. "But… who was the one who walked out of the lab because he felt he was too cool to learn?"

"Answer my question," the young man said as he raised his hand as a signal to stop.

"Archen's ability is defeatist," the girl explained. "It means that when archen's health is halved, its will to battle goes down. It's due to archen being a very timid Pokemon."

'Well, that's just great!' Paul growled under his breath at the thought of one of his Pokemon not being into battling. 'Is she trying to set me up, or...was she trying to help me?' he asked himself. 'Well, she did give it to me for a reason; like it or not, I need to try to bring out its strength. But, I don't want a repeat of last time!'

As Paul was about to ask another question, the pair saw the bushes in front of them rustle back and forth. He took a step forward as a yellow and black Pokémon scurried from the bushes and appeared in front. A small canine Pokémon stood on two black feet, and red eyes had yellowtail and a blue-collar. While the Pokémon waved its fists as a defensive stance, Paul took out his Pokedex from his pocket to scan the mysterious creature.

"Riolu, the Emanation Pokémon," the Pokedex explained. "It uses the shapes of auras, which change according to emotion, to communicate with others."

"Interesting Pokémon," Paul started to say. "Is it yours?"

"No," Miki answered. "There are wild Pokémon living in the area, and a few of the riolu around here have made Floccesy Ranch their home. Most of the ones I've seen are very stubborn."

'I think I will catch it then! Perfect for my rematch!' Paul thought as he reached inside his slingback and pulled out a Pokéball. He also went into his jacket pocket to grab another Pokéball and proceeded to throw it.

"Electivire, standby for battle!" Paul confidently said while he threw his Pokéball.

That same burst of light came as Electivire emerged, once again assuming a fighting stance proudly.

"I need you to help me catch that riolu!" Paul commanded as he pointed to the riolu by the bushes, while also holding the empty Pokéball. "You ready?"

"Good luck Paul!" Miki blurted out. "Go for it!"

Paul turned to her as he tilted his head to the side. "Thanks...I... guess. Electivire, you ready?"

Electivire shook his head while he squinted his eyes at the opponent Pokemon, assuming a battle stance.

"Alright then, use thunderpunch!" Paul commanded.

However, Electivire did not listen as he was too consumed with what was going on around the riolu. The bushes started to shake back and forth as if something was inside. Paul put both hands far out on his sides as an impatient gesture towards his Pokémon.

"What are you waiting for?" he asked impatiently. "Let's go, Electivire!"

"Um… Paul," Miki started to say. "Look."

After the bushes were shaking, a horde of riolu began to jump out and join the solo Pokemon that Paul was about to catch. There were about ten of them, and they looked outraged as they clenched their fists at their opponents. All the while, Electivire slowly approached Paul, glaring at him. 'Oh no!' Paul realized that they were being ambushed. He took off his slingback to search for anything that can lore this angry riolu away. 'Where is it, where IS it?' Paul thought to himself as he grew more nervous and anxious. He didn't even hear Electivire grunting impatiently as he tried to locate the item. Eventually, he found what he was looking for as he held it up in the air. A white can with a poke ball symbol in the middle, a max repel, meant to keep weak Pokemon away with one spray.

However, as Paul was about to spray the repel towards the wild Pokémon. he looked up to see that the Pokémon escaped. He took a few steps forward towards the bush to try to locate the riolu. He scanned the area and pulled back some of the frontier branches; however, no cigar. 'Drat!' he clenched his fists in frustration when he realized that he was too late, and he once again failed at catching a Pokémon. 'Well, that was a complete circus...'. Paul turned around, fuming as well, as his eyes were shut tight.

"Is that how you catch a Pokémon?" a familiar voice asked from behind. "How low class are you?"

Paul growled in frustration. He opened his eyes and saw his rival Trip standing a few feet behind him, along with the same electabuzz from earlier in his arms. However, Ellie was laughing in a cutesy manner, causing Electivire to blush and cross his arms in embarrassment, all the while narrowing his eyes at Trip.

"Leave him alone, Tristian!" Miki said sternly. "He was ambushed!"

"Stay out of this," Paul replied sternly under his breath. "This is my battle, not yours.".

"I've told you my name is Trip, not Tristian!" Trip snapped as he handed her Ellie. "I'm just here to give back your electabuzz, that's all. I could care less about him..."

Paul narrowed his eyes at the pair as he shook his head in frustration. 'I don't want to deal with these people. Not Trip and not that stupid electabuzz…' he thought as he attempted to leave, obviously disgusted.

"Whatever," Paul coldly replied as he started to walk away. "I'm out of here. I can see this is going to be something I want no part in."

As Paul started to walk away, Electivire glanced over at Ellie, who gave him a smile and a slight chuckle. He uncrossed his arms as he gently patted the electabuzz on the head. Paul turned around and proceeded to get out a Pokéball from his pocket in an attempt to return his Pokémon to his Pokéball.

"Paul, wait!" Miki said as she approached the purple-haired young man.

"What?" Paul hissed in frustration as he turned around.

"Well… um…" Miki whispered to Paul, being careful not to let Trip overhear. "Can I...can I please come and watch your battle? Please?"

"Do what you want," Paul whispered back as he returned Electivire to his Pokeball. "I really could care less. But, thank you for showing me your Pokémon and for the advice. I greatly appreciate it."

"Well… you are welcome to come back and see them again," she suggested while backing away. "I'm sure they will be happy to see you again."

"Yeah, whatever," Paul said as he waved goodbye. He then went on his way to rechallenge the Aspertia City gym.
 
It was close to the afternoon, and Paul found himself back on Route 20. He started to think about his earlier conversation and how he needed a rematch strategy while he walked. 'I'm glad I got out when I could, but...I wish I could have asked more questions,' he thought as he continued on down the path that led back to the city. 'I wonder if I should do some training here…' Paul looked around and saw that there were many trainers out training their Pokemon or having picnics. 'No, I train in private,' he shook off his thoughts as he continued on his way.

"Hey Paul!" a familiar male voice called out to him. "Over here!"

Paul stopped as he growled under his breath. He looked around to see where the voice was coming from. When he turned to the right, he saw Forrest and his infernape standing in front of a large patch of tall, dark green grass waving their hands to signal Paul to come over. However, they weren't alone. Another trainer around Forrest's age joined them with shoulder-length spiky light blonde hair and wearing a plain back shirt and yellow shorts. They also had a guitar backpack on their back as well. Paul shook his head side to side as he walked over to where the young trainers were.

"Yeah, what do you want?" Paul asked in an annoyed tone. "Can't you see that I'm busy?"

"Check this out!" Forrest started to say excitedly. "If you walk into this tall green grass, two or three Pokemon may jump out at you at the same time!"

Paul stared at the grass and then back at the young man with a puzzled look. 'Ok, what is the point? What made him think this would help me?' he thought as he rolled his eyes.

"Well… thank you for that useless piece of information, I guess?" he said while attempting to turn his body away from them as a sign to leave.

"Oh, come on, Paul. I just thought it was a cool fact," Forrest said as he shrugged his shoulders. "See, I was training here with my Pokemon, and then Cliff came to show me around."

Paul and Forrest noticed that Cliff wasn't there anymore. Paul looked to the left and saw that Cliff was staring at a nearby stream and waterfall at the field's corner. The young men walked over to the creek where the other trainer was standing. Paul closed his eyes as he felt a slightly chilly but relaxing breeze flow through the stream. He thought about his earlier conversation and how he needed to think of his strategy in his rematch. 'This seems like a perfect place to strategize; it is very calming here,' he thought to himself.

"Hey Forrest," Cliff started to say. "Do you know about the Cave of Being?"

"No, I haven't," Forrest replied. "What is it?"

"The Cave of Being is located on the top of that waterfall," Cliff explained as they pointed to the waterfall. "The word around here is that there are three legendary Pokemon who visit this cave. Pokemon that are from a remote region. It's been said that the cave serves as a gateway to the region the Pokemon are from."

"We have something similar back in Sinnoh!" Forrest exclaimed. "There are three legendary Pokemon who live in lakes, from what I heard!"

"I wonder if the two are connected," Cliff wondered. "My parents would promise to take me there, but they were always too busy. But now, I figured that maybe I could go on my own."

"Well, you know what this means, right?" Forrest jumped with excitement. "ROAD TRIP!"

"Nope, that means I'm hopping off the pathetic express…" Paul muttered as he started to walk away. "I've already wasted too much time here."

Paul went back on the path that led into the city and began to walk. 'Now, if I could get to my destination without any interruptions, that would be great,' he thought as he continued down the path. 'Still, maybe I should sit down and think of a plan for my rematch.' The faint sound of rustling made Paul stop in his tracks as he looked around to see where the sound was coming from. He turned to the right and saw a small patch of light green grass moving side to side along with a faint buzzing sound. Paul went closer to investigate the sound while pulling out his Pokedex.

The patch of grass stopped shaking, and out popped a Pokemon. It was a purple insect type Pokemon with two small antennas on its head and a grey Y on the top of its neck. The Pokemon proceeded to growl at Paul while he lifted his Pokedex to scan the Pokemon.

"Venipede, the Centipede Pokémon," the Pokedex explained. "Using the feelers on its head and tail, it picks up vibrations in the air to determine its prey's location and state."

"A poison type, eh? I think I'll catch this one," Paul said as he pulled out a Pokeball from his pocket. "Electivire, standby for battle!"

Paul threw the Pokeball, and a familiar burst of light came as Electivire emerged, once again assuming a fighting stance. However, this time he wasn't as proud as before as he stood there with a blank expression shaking his head side to side. 'I guess he's still disappointed we didn't catch a Pokemon the first time,' Paul thought. 'I don't blame him.'

"I want that venipede!" Paul said as he pointed at the purple bug Pokemon. "This time, I promise we will catch a Pokemon for sure. You ready?"

Electivire stared at Paul for a few seconds before shrugging his shoulders, signaling Paul to start the fight.

"Alright then," Paul said. "Electivire, use thunderpunch!"

While the venipede assumed a fighting stance, Electivire proceeded to go towards the bug with his right fist shrouded in electric energy. However, as the move was about the make contact, the bug Pokemon quickly moved to the right, completely dodging the attack. 'Wow, that's fast,' Paul thought to himself. 'Think, Paul; you need a plan.' All the while, the venipede curled itself in a ball and started to roll in place.

'Is that…" Paul started to say as he was shocked.

However, before Paul could finish his sentence, the venipede quickly rolled towards Electivire at a breakneck pace. While the rollout was fast, Electivire promptly dodged the attack, swerving to the left. 'Come on, what do I do?' the young man thought as he wiped the sweat off his forehead. 'This thing can use rollout, and it gets stronger every time!'.

"We need to slow down its movements!" Paul shouted. "Block it and use thunder!"

The venipede once again rolled towards Electivire; however, its rollout attack appeared bigger and was faster. Electivire put both his hands up in front of him to block the incoming attack. Suddenly, the rollout attack hit, and Electivire was trying his hardest to stop the attack. The venipede kept rolling forward even faster while Electivire tried his hardest to push back the rollout.

"Don't give up!" Paul yelled out. "Use thunderpunch!"

Electric currents started to build up around both of Electivire's fists while he was pushing back against the rolling attack. With all his might, the thunderbolt Pokemon successfully pushed back the attack, causing the opponent to hit the ground while sliding back a few inches. The impact also caused Electivire himself to again slide a few inches. After the collision, Paul noticed that there was a ring of static that surrounded the venipede. It was struggling to move as it stood there twitching back and forth. Paul just stood there, surprised, wondering what his next move should be.

"Paul!" Forrest called out from behind. "It's paralyzed! Throw a Pokeball now!"

"Right!" Paul said as he got out a red and white Pokeball from his bag. "Now, let's go, Pokeball!"

He pressed the button on the side of the ball to make it bigger. He then threw it at the venipede, engulfing it in red light and sending it inside the ball. Paul crossed his fingers as a sign of good luck while he anxiously stared at the Pokeball. The ball was twitching left and right three times before it made a clicking sound, signaling that Paul had caught the Pokemon. Paul uncrossed his fingers and breathed a sigh of relief while going over to pick up the Pokeball from the ground.

"I told you we'd get a Pokemon," Paul boasted at Electivire. "You should know better than to doubt me."

Paul looked on and saw that Electivire was slumped over and had a purple blush across his face. He was also holding his head as if he had a headache.

"Electivire?" Paul asked while he went over to his Pokemon. "What's wrong with you?"

"He's poisoned!" Forrest yelled as he opened his bag and pulled out a yellow spray. "You should always know the status of your Pokemon! What's the matter with you?!"

"Well geez, I didn't know," Paul retorted. "I don't even know how he was poisoned anyway. That venipede didn't even use a poison type move."

"Venipede's ability is poison point," Cliff explained. "Touching it means there is a chance your Pokemon could be poisoned."

Forrest proceeded to spray Electivire's hands with the spray twice. He then gave him a pink and white berry to eat.

"Electivire, how do you feel?" Paul asked.

Electivire turned to Paul and gave him a thumbs up after eating the berry he was given. Paul smiled in return as he pulled out a Pokeball and returned Electivire to his ball. While Forrest was putting the spray back into his bag, Paul walked over, nervously.

"Hey… I just wanted to say thank you," Paul said. "Can you tell me what you used?"

"It's called an antidote," Forrest explained. "It gets rid of the poison. I also gave him a Pecha berry to give him his energy back. But Paul, please be careful next time..."

"Thank you, and I will," Paul said while beginning to walk away. "See you…"

~.~

It took a while, but Paul finally ended up back in Aspertia City with no other interruptions. 'I want to keep going, but I am feeling a bit tired,' he thought as he proceeded to head into the Pokemon center. 'I probably should sit here for a while before I begin my challenge.' As soon as Paul walked through the doors, he noticed a familiar face sitting on the blue bench on the room's left side.

"Paul!" Miki exclaimed. "Over here!"

This time, she was wearing a plain pink dress with Pikachu designs all over. Miki sat there coloring alongside her rhydon, cranidos, electabuzz, and aggron. Paul noticed that she also had a black stroller on the side of the bench, which contained a sleeping Pokemon he hasn't seen before. It was a red reptilian Pokemon with a cream underside and a long snout. Paul took out his Pokedex to scan the Pokemon.

"Charmeleon, the Flame Pokemon and the evolved form of Charmander," The Pokedex explained. "In the rocky mountains where Charmeleon live, their fiery tails shine at night like stars."

Paul then proceeded to put away his Pokedex as he walked over to the bench. "Well, you got here quickly…" he said.

"Well, I wanted to watch your battle," the girl replied while she got up to pack everything up. "So, did you think of a plan?"

"Of course I did," Paul lied as he folded his arms. "If you want to watch me battle, I suggest you do so quickly."

"Well, excuse me for having to juggle my Pokemon around," Miki answered sarcastically while getting her Pokemon to get up from the couch. "Come on, everyone, time to clean up."

'This is lame,' Paul thought as he shook his head from side to side. He watched on as Miki proceeded to load Ellie into the back of the stroller. Her other Pokemon also followed suit as they began to stand on both sides of the stroller, holding its sides.

"Alright, we are ready to go!" Miki said as she began to push the stroller. "Let's go!"

Paul sighed as he followed suit. When they got out of the Pokemon center, they proceeded to turn left on the road that leads to the gym. Paul again closed his eyes as he quickly tried to think of a plan to get through his battle. 'I haven't had the time to think of anything or to train my Pokemon. I guess I'll use Venipede first and then save Electivire for last. That way, he can get the win'. Paul shook his head once again at the thought of such a simple plan. 'it's too simple. Ugh, I should have thought of something. I'm going to lose aga…!'.

"Hey Paul," Miki called out as she tapped his shoulder.

"What?!" Paul yelled in frustration as he assumed a defensive stance. He took a step back and clenched his right fist.

His voice tone caused both Rey and Arynn to let go of the stroller and run behind their trainer. Miki tried her best not to cry as she took a step toward Paul. She put her hand on his right fist and proceeded to lower it. Paul, on the other hand, looked down and unclenched his fist. 'I didn't mean to scare her like that,' he thought. 'She just interrupted me when I was thinking of a plan, but I can't tell her that…'.

"Are you done?" Miki asked as she pulled her hand away.

"Yes…" Paul answered as he relaxed his stance. "What did you want to say to me?"

"That we are at the gym," Miki said as she pointed straight ahead.

Paul looked ahead and saw that they were in front of the Aspertia City gym. He quickly turned away in embarrassment.'Of course, the gym was right there!'. Paul went ahead and walked up to the door. However, the moment he attempted to open the door, it opened in his direction and hit him in the face. This caused him to fall back and hit his head on the ground.

"Paul!" Miki yelled out in concern as she went over to him. "Are you okay?'

With the pain still ringing in his forehead, Paul opened his eyes and saw another trainer standing at the door with his hand on his forehead. The other trainer had short blonde hair and wore a bright orange and green striped shirt, a green scarf and light gray pants.

'Hey man, watch where you're going!" the other trainer said. "I'm going to have to give you a fine. Pay up in ten seconds!"

"Huh?" Paul asked under his breath as he tilted his head sideways. 'I feel like I know this guy…'.

"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two," the other trainer counted as he looked at his xtransceiver and then looked down at Paul. "Don't just stand there! I'm gonna be the strongest trainer in the world, you know? You got that? Later!"

Just like that, the unknown male trainer took off in a flash. With Miki's help, Paul managed to get himself off the ground as he looked toward the direction that trainer was running. However, as he looked down, Paul noticed a black and blue case with a Pokéball design in the middle laying there by his feet. 'What's this?' he thought as he picked it up and opened it. As he opened it, he noticed there were no gym badges in it.

"Is he a cop or something?" Miki asked.

"I don't know, but there's something about him that seems familiar…" Paul said as he lowered his eyebrow.

"What a bother, that trainer forgot his badge…" a familiar voice said from behind.

Paul and Miki turned around and saw Cheren standing at the entrance of the gym. He was holding a small rectangular badge with four purple squares decorating it.

"So, I see that you're back," Cheren remarked. "Do you happen to know that trainer? I see that you are holding his badge case. I just finished a battle with him, and he won the match, but he ran off without taking his badge. I believe he said he was from Twinleaf Town in the Sinnoh region."

"Of course, he's from the boonies!" Miki exclaimed.

"Stop," Paul said in an authoritative voice before turning to the gym leader. "Twinleaf Town…? He seems very familiar to me now that you mention it. I just can't put my finger on it."

"I see," Cheren said. "Well, Paul, I know you came all this way but do you mind if we had our rematch later in the afternoon? I need to give my Pokemon some rest, and plus, I think that trainer may be looking for his badge case. Do you mind returning it and his badge to him?"

"Sure," Paul said as he took the badge. "This afternoon it is…"
 
The afternoon was almost setting in as more clouds started to roll in. Paul stood outside the Pokemon center, waiting impatiently for his unwanted companion. 'Out of all the time to return her Pokemon, it had to be now. Why couldn't she wait until after my battle?' He folded his arms and shook his head side to side while reaching into his pocket to take out the gym badge. 'But still… Twinleaf Town? That hair and that personality…' he thought while carelessly tossing the badge up and down. 'I swear I've seen him before… but where?'.

"Hey Paul!" a familiar male voice called out.

Paul opened his eyes and saw Forrest, his infernape, and Cliff standing right in front of him. Paul then proceeded to put the badge back in his pocket.

"I didn't expect you to be here!" Forrest exclaimed. "Cliff and I were on our way to the Aspertia City lookout."

As Paul was about to answer him, the sound of automatic doors could be heard from behind. The group turned around to see Miki coming towards them, except she didn't have any of her Pokemon, nor did she have her stroller.

"Alright, Paul, I had to return my Pokemon because they were getting sleepy," Miki explained as she stood alongside him. "Now, let's go find that trainer!"

"Can we go with you too?" Forrest asked. "I mean, I'm not sure if who you're looking for and who we're looking for are the same person, but…"

"Who are you guys looking for?" Miki asked. "Paul and I are looking for a weird trainer who left their badge after a gym match."

"Hm, doesn't sound like who I'm looking for," Cliff said as tears started to fall from their eyes. "Now, how am I going to get my Pokemon?"

Forrest came closer to Cliff and proceeded to put his hand on their left shoulder. Miki also came down to the trainer's level and even put her hand on their right shoulder.

"Aww, you're a new trainer?" Miki asked with a smile. "A brand new trainer, exploring the world of Pokemon!"

"Yeeeaaah," Forrest interrupted. "Except we need to find the research assistant, and we've been running around like crazy. We don't even know what he looks like…"

"We were just told to go to the Aspertia City lookout," Cliff said as they dried their eyes. "But I don't know where that is…"

"The Aspertia City lookout is over there," Miki said as she pointed to the right of the Pokemon Center. Go straight up that road, and it is right up the stairs to your left."

All the while, Paul stood there in frustration. 'I wish this useless conversation would end' he rolled his eyes. 'I'm surprised he doesn't know where the lookout is considering we wasted our time there… what a scatterbrain…'. Paul looked around as he put his hands in his pockets. He looked up and saw that Forrest and Cliff were starting to walk away. He shook his head from side to side as the conversation went on.

"Hey," Paul said sternly as he placed his hand on Miki's shoulder. "Don't forget, we have a badge to deliver, and I have a gym battle to go to."

"Oh, come on, Paul," she replied as she started to walk in the opposite direction. "I was just trying to help…".

Paul growled and rolled his eyes as he proceeded to follow her towards the gym. 'Why do I even bother…' he thought as he looked around. It was beginning to be later into the afternoon as there was hardly anyone hanging around. 'I guess the other trainer will have to wait…' Paul thought to himself. However, he noticed that Miki suddenly stopped right in front of him. She just stood there with her back to him. Paul stopped as he was confused as to what was going on.

"...Paul," Miki started to say. "I'm sorry."

"For what?" Paul asked.

"...well…" she started to explain. "I have autism. I often forget to tell people that."

Paul lowered his eyebrow in confusion. "Care, to explain?".

"It just means that….I'm not like normal trainers," the girl explained. "Sometimes, I do things... differently. Sometimes, I act… differently. I get distracted sometimes. I can be annoying. I am also weak as well. I love helping people on their journeys. Part of the reason is that I see how confident you guys are when you start. I only wished I had half that confidence. You're tough, smart, and you are strong. I wish I had those traits."

Paul took a deep breath and mulled on her words. 'It does make sense why she is so annoying, but at the same time, it's not like she could help it.' he thought as he relaxed his stance a little. 'At the same time, as annoying as she is, I can talk to her and not feel that I am being judged. Plus, she seems to know a lot about Pokemon… it's a hard call'.

"Interesting," Paul started to say. "I may not understand it, but it's' something you cannot help. Do you still want to watch my battle?"

Miki turned around as she looked up at Paul. Her eyes widened at his last question. "Really?"

Paul sighed as he shook his head from side to side "Look, am I saying you are a welcome addition to my journey? No. I am a loner. A socially awkward loner. However, I feel bad for you, and I see that you want to be stronger. The least I can do in exchange for you helping me is to let you watch my battle. Maybe it will help you with your confidence. So I ask once again before I change my mind: do you want to watch me battle?"

"Yes, I would like to," Miki happily answered.

Paul nodded as he proceeded to walk on ahead, signaling for the girl to follow him. They continued to walk down the path that led to the gym. 'Even if she is annoying, she could be useful to me. It's not like we're going to be friends. Besides, I'm here to win. I'll do whatever it takes to do so…' Paul thought as he looked around at his surroundings. 'Too bad, I don't have a plan. The way it looks, I'll probably use Electivire last, yeah, that's a good plan'. All of a sudden he heard someone yell faintly in the background.

"Outta my way! Outta my way! Outta my way!" the familiar voice said as it came closer and closer.

However, before Paul could turn to see who was coming towards him, he felt something heavy push onto his right side as he fell back. This time, he hit his head hard against the pavement, and the fall caused the badge case to fly out of his pocket. Paul tried to get up as his head was hurting from the fall. He felt someone behind him, trying to pick him up from the ground.

"Paul, are you okay?" Miki asked in concern.

"Yeah," Paul answered under his breath as he finally stood up.

Paul looked ahead and saw that he bumped into the same trainer from earlier, the same trainer who lost their badge case.

"Man, look where you're going," the other trainer started to say. However, he looked down and saw that his badge case was on the floor. He quickly went and took it. "My badge case! Thief!"

"He's not a thief!" Miki said in a defensive tone. "He was trying to return it to…"

"You stay out of this," Paul interrupted in an authoritative tone while raising his hand. He then proceeded to take the badge out of his pocket. "You know, most Pokémon trainers I know do not leave a gym without their gym badges or their badge cases..."

The other trainer proceeded to take the badge from Paul's hand. "Hmph, you are a thief! Just because you couldn't win doesn't mean you can steal my badge…"

"I'm glad you got your badge back, sir!" Miki exclaimed. "I do want to ask, Cheren mentioned that you were from the Sinnoh region boonies, does that mean… you are a league transfer? You as well, Paul? I forgot to ask."

"That's right," the blonde young man replied. "I competed in the Sinnoh league two years ago, but I didn't win. So I spent that time training harder so I could become stronger. I came here so I can compete in the Unova League. I've been battling trainers from all over the place."

"Same here," Paul remarked. "I had also competed in that same league two years ago. I've also competed in the Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn league but I didn't win a single one."

Upon hearing that statement, Miki's eyes widened as she tilted her head to the side. "Oh. I'm sorry, Paul. You see, I thought you were a brand new trainer."

Paul growled under his breath as he slapped the palm of his hand against his face. 'How… how could she had thought that I was a new trainer?' he thought as he shook his head from side to side. 'She thought I was ten years old this whole time. How insulting.' Paul then took a deep breath and closed his eyes. 'But this trainer, I know I've seen him before…'

Paul thought back to the Sinnoh league and thought of all the people he has battled against. 'I remember a blonde trainer who wanted to fight against me. I can see it clearly… he had an empoleon. Yes… now I remember…'

"Now, I know…" Paul said as he opened his eyes. "Barry, am I correct?"

"That's me… but I have no clue who you are…" Barry responded as he folded his arms. "Hey! Now I know, you're that hopelessly geeky trainer who lost to Ash in the Sinnoh league!"

"Well, guess who YOU lost to in the Sinnoh league?" Paul retorted as he pointed to himself. "This geeky trainer whose name is Paul!"

"Alright, alright, Paul, it is…" Barry said as he rolled his eyes. "I would challenge you to a battle, but I got to get to the next gym. Later!"

As Barry ran off, Paul turned to Miki and lowered an eyebrow. "Look, I've probably been in more battles and walked more regions than you have. I suggest you show me a little more respect."

Paul proceeded to walk ahead towards the gym as he waved his hand to follow him. "We're wasting time. I'll show you how I battled. Might seem unethical, but it gave the most results.…".

~.~

The rematch was about to begin as the two opponents stood on opposite sides of the field. Paul could feel sweat coming down his forehead as he was nervous about the rematch. He looked to his right and saw Miki sitting a few feet from him on the ground, getting ready to put on her headphones. A slight smirk appeared on his face as he shook his head from side to side.

"Hey. what are the headphones for?" Paul asked.

"Oh, these?" Miki asked as she held them up. "I'm sensitive to sound, and Pokemon battles are kinda loud. So I use these to drown out the sound so I can enjoy the battles."

Paul nodded as he turned towards the battlefield.

"Welcome to the Aspertia City gym!" the battle judge began to announce. "The rematch will be between Cheren, the gym leader, and Paul, the challenger. The battle will be two-on-two and will end when one side is unable to continue. Furthermore, only the challenger is allowed to substitute their Pokémon. It has been determined that Paul gets the first move. Now begin!"

"Archen, standby for battle!" Paul said as he threw his Pokéball in the air.

A burst of light came from the Pokéball as Archen appeared from the shadow. With an ear-shattering screech, the bird Pokémon assumed a fighting stance.

"So he's doing the same thing as the last battle..." Cheren said as he also threw his Pokéball in the air. "Patrat, come on out!"

That same burst of light came from the gym leader's Pokéball as the Pokemon's figure emerged. When the light disappeared, the patrat assumed a fighting stance.

"Good luck Paul!" Miki shouted. "You can do it!"

"Alright then," Paul started to command. "Archen, use dragon pulse!"

Archen started by opening its mouth and breathing out a large blue wave of energy towards the opponent. It did so while letting out a loud screech that startled the gym leader's Patrat. Before Cheren could even command the scout Pokémon even to attack, the dragon pulse hit dead-on, flinging the patrat and causing it to slide ten feet on the ground.

"Patrat, jump on archen!" Cheren commanded.

"Swerve, then counter with ancientpower!" Paul also commanded Archen.

At breakneck speed, the patrat ran towards its opponent, ready to jump on its' opponent's back. Paul's Archen tried its' best to move away. However, the patrat jumped as it successfully landed on the bird's back. The bird Pokemon panicked at it ran left and right, desperate to shake the patrat off its back.

"Keep focused, or else!" Paul commanded as he clenched his fists in frustration. "Shake it off!"

"Use bite!" the gym leader commanded.

Using its claws to hold on, the patrat opened its mouth wide, bearing its' razor-sharp teeth. However, Archen readied its attack by using its energy to create small rocks around it. Before the rodent Pokemon can bite, Paul's Archen then used its wings to fling the stones skyward. It successfully hit Patrat off of its back as well as hitting the floor. As the dust cleared, the chipmunk Pokémon was lying there, trying its best to stand up.

"Jump on, Archen, once more!" Cheren commanded again.

'I don't think so, Cheren!' Paul thought he watched his Pokemon run side to side, trying to avoid the patrat landing on its back once more. However, not even Paul realized how fast that patrat was as it was doing good on its mission to keep up with archen's flying. The rodent scurried along the battlefield until it used its hind paws to leap and grab on to its flying opponents' tail with its teeth.

"Well, well, this just got interesting," the gym leader said as he smirked. "Use bite once more!"

"Your reaction time is too slow," Paul yelled out. "Focus!"

Paul continued to clench his fists as he foresaw his defeat. His palms began to sweat. His archen was trying its best to shake off its opponent. However, the patrat wasn't about to give up. However, he looked closely at the rodent holding on to the tail and remembered a move that it could use with its tail. 'Aqua tail! I got you now!' he thought as he smirked.

"Use aqua tail!" Paul commanded.

Even though its tail was in the opponent's mouth, Paul's Archen began to radiate water energy around its tail. It was glowing a light blue color as it began to slam the patrat down to the floor twice. The second time, the rodent let go of the tail as it just laid there, not moving at all.

"Patrat is unable to battle!" the referee announced. "Archen is the winner!"

Paul breathed a sigh of relief. "Not bad," he said as he returned Archen to its Pokéball. "You can do better, though."

However, the battle was not over yet. 'Hmph, one more Pokemon to go, and I can finally win this badge!' he thought as he took out his second Pokéball. 'I'm going to battle as I have in the past. It has yielded me quicker results that way.'

"Electivire, standby for battle!" Paul said while throwing his Pokéball in the air.

That same burst of light came as Electivire emerged, once again assuming a fighting stance.

"Lilipup, come on out!" the gym leader said as he also threw his second Pokéball.

After the bursting light simmered from the ball capsule, the opponent's figure emerged. Like the previous battle, the lilipup proceeded to growl at Paul's Electivire.

"I wish I brought Ellie here for this," Miki said. "She would have loved to see Electivire in battle…"

"Lilipup, use bite!" Cheren also commanded.

"We aren't doing THIS again," Paul said with confidence. "Electivire, brick break!"

The puppy Pokémon opened its mouth with style and speed. It ran towards Electivire with sharp fangs, ready to execute a bite attack. However, Electivire was not phased by the small Pokémon's attempt to attack as he did not move, not one bit. However, the puppy Pokemon's speed was not considered the opponent, with its teeth, latched itself onto Electivire's hand. Electivire screamed in pain as he tried to shake the other Pokemon off his hand.

"Keep focused," Paul yelled. "Use brick break against the floor."

As the lilipup remained stuck to the hand, Electivire proceeded to execute a swift chop against the floor. The brick break's force was so great that not only did it sent the smaller Pokémon to the ground, it also bounced a few times before stopping. Limp and unable to battle.

"Lilipup is unable to battle!" the referee announced. "Electivire is the winner! Which means the match goes to the challenger!"

"This has been an interesting turn of events," Cheren remarked as he returned his Pokemon. "Well, Paul, I'm not sure if you've even learned anything. However, a win is a win."

The gym leader proceeded to give Paul a box that contained a badge. It was a purple badge with a design that was similar to a spine of a book. Paul took the badge and proceeded to put it in his pocket.

"Thank you very much," Paul said. Before he left, he looked back at Miki and waved his hand as a signal to follow him. "Come on, time to go."

Miki nodded as she got up and proceeded to follow Paul out the door.
 
The evening started to set in as clouds cleared the night sky. Paul exited the gym, more confident than he was before. 'I'm glad I finally won that battle! I just need to stick with what I know, and I'll be fine..' Paul shook his head and crossed his arms while he turned to Miki. 'I wonder, if I battle her, maybe she could see how strong I am..'

"How did you like that?" Paul asked. "Not bad for a "rookie," eh?

"It was good, I guess…" Miki replied as she fidgeted with her fingers. "I wonder why you had trouble in the first place…"

"Don't know, maybe it was a fluke on my end," Paul replied. "But anyway, wanna battle?"

"Wait, what?" Miki asked while her eyes widened in surprise. "Why me? You know I'm weak, right?"

"I know," Paul said as he rolled his eyes. "So what's it going to be?"

Miki turned away from Paul as she appeared to be thinking over her choices. Paul took a deep breath and looked around. It was a lot darker, and there was no one outside. The breeze was subtle yet a little cold. Paul then closed his eyes. 'I hope she answers soon, or I'm leaving.'

"Okay, I will battle you," Miki finally answered. "We can battle over at the ranch if you want. I can also make you dinner. What do you say?"

"I don't care," Paul remarked. "I could use something to eat."

"Alright, let's go!" Miki exclaimed as she walked ahead of Paul. "You'll get to meet my uncle and maybe a special guest if he comes…"

~.~

It took almost an hour, but Paul and Miki finally arrived on Floccesy Ranch. The ranch itself was dark as there were hardly any lights around, except the houses. Paul noticed that there wasn't a single mareep insight. While he looked around at his surroundings, he felt a slight tug on his left sleeve. He looked over to his left and saw that Miki was holding on to a portion of his jacket. Paul quickly pulled his arm away and stopped.

"What do you think you're doing?!" Paul snapped loudly. "I don't like you."

Miki's eyes widened as she took a step back. She held onto her right arm as she was shivering in fear. Paul also took a step back as well. He noticed that she looked down at the floor, shaking as if she were about to cry. 'Don't tell me she is about to cry…' Paul shook his head in annoyance. Miki then looked at Paul and began to cry. 'Seriously?' Paul looked around to see if there was anyone in sight. However, because it was late at night, no one was out. 'I'm tired of this, I'm leaving,' Paul thought as he began to turn around and leave to escape the crying. However…

"Hey!" a deep voice yelled out behind him.

A bright light also shined from behind as well, and it was getting brighter and brighter with the sound of footsteps. Paul turned around while he used his hand to shield the light from getting into his eyes. Miki stopped crying when she heard the voice call out to her.

"Shamus?" Miki asked as she dried her tears.

"Hm?" Paul said under his breath.

Miki turned to Paul as she still wiped her tears. "Shamus is my best friend."

Paul looked ahead and saw the figure of someone coming towards them. The light they were holding moved towards the middle to where the two were standing, this Paul putting his hand down. The figure got clearer as it got closer. It was a boy, a bit older than Paul. He had short, messy black hair, pale skin, and green eyes. He donned a black sweatshirt with flames on it and grey pants. As the boy got closer, he narrowed his green eyes when he looked at Paul.

"You were about to leave her behind, huh?!" he angrily asked.

However, before Paul could answer, Miki ran up to him. "No, Shamus… he wasn't. It was my fault. I was afraid of the dark, and I grabbed his arm without asking. I'm sorry."

Paul slapped his palm against his face as he shook his head from side to side. 'I should have known! Well… she didn't tell me, so there's that.' Shamus, on the other hand, lowered an eyebrow while Miki looked up at him. He looked over at Paul before sighing.

"Alright, I know what I saw," Shamus started to say. "But if you say that wasn't the case, then I have no choice but to believe you. You need to be careful next time."

Miki nodded as she proceeded to hug her friend tightly.

"Well… if you want, we can battle tomorrow," Paul started to say. "I can see this is going to be a waste of time…"

"No!" Miki said as she ran up to Paul. "Please battle me. I want to be confident like you…"

Paul looked down at her while looking into her brown eyes. 'Well, she did come along for my battle… and she did help me. However…' Paul glanced over at Shamus. 'If this is another Trip, then I'm out of here. I can only deal with one stuck-up trainer in my lifetime…'

"Well, alright… I'll come," Paul sighed.

"Really?!" Miki said excitedly as she jumped for joy. "Then come on! Let's follow Shamey; he knows his way through the dark!"

Shamus rolled his eyes as he waved his hand as a signal for the two to follow him.

The group finally arrived back at the house. The smell of spices crept through the air as Paul almost choked. 'I guess they are making something spicy..' he thought as his eyes began to water. Paul looked around and saw the same Pokemon he met on his first visit to the ranch was sitting at a yellow table, eating tamato berries. However, in addition to the aggron, cranidos, rhydon, charmeleon, and electabuzz from earlier, he saw some others he had not seen.

Alongside the others was a large pink scorpion-like Pokemon with a large pincer on its tail. 'That's a drapion,' Paul thought as he watched it eat a bowl of berries. 'She must have a thing for pink things…'. Sitting next to the drapion was a large bear Pokemon with a pink bow on its head and a large yellow circle in the middle of its stomach. '...and that's an ursaring,' Paul chuckled to himself. 'So it seems we may have similar Pokemon…'

Paul noticed that unlike on his first visit to the ranch, Miki went inside the house and signaled the others to follow her. Paul followed as he went inside the large house. While he changed into the house slippers, he noticed that the walls were adorned with pictures, medals, and badges. As the others were talking, Paul went over to the walls to look at the decorations. There were frames of various people holding gold trophies that covered the light green walls. There were also cases of gym badges that sat on the red shelves underneath.

Paul's eyes squinted at the badges themselves. 'These are the gym badges from Sinnoh, I see,' he zoomed in on a case with the same badges one would win in the Sinnoh region. Paul noticed a case of five gold badges next to gym badges. They were hexagon-shaped with shadow etchings in the middle. One had a star in the middle, another had a Pokeball symbol in the middle. One had a broken hexagon shadow, another had a snake pattern, and the last one had a sliced rocket ship.

Paul took a step back as he read the text on the top of the case. 'Sinnoh Battle Frontier,' his eyes widened as he quickly understood what the issue was. 'These are symbols from the Sinnoh battle frontier… I didn't even know we had a battle frontier,' he thought as he grimaced at the case.

"So, you're Paul," a man's voice said right beside him. "I can see you are interested in badges…"

Paul jumped as he quickly looked to see who was talking to him. He looked to his left and saw a taller man than him, with brown hair, brown eyes, and a grey shirt with green cargo pants.

"...yeah," Paul answered in an exasperated tone. "Are they yours?"

"No," the man answered. "Mine is in the back room. These are symbols that Miki has won during her journey in the Sinnoh region. All the badges you see on this case are hers."

Paul's eyes widened as he looked up at the tall man. "Wow, that is interesting," he said. "I...never knew. She said she was weak."

"Yeah… she has major confidence issues," the man explained. "That's why I thought of the idea to display all her badges here. That way, she knows that she is a lot stronger than she thinks."

"I see," Paul said as he shook his head. "And you are…?"

"Oh!" the man laughed. "I forgot to introduce myself. The name's Brent. My niece, you know…"

However, before Paul could answer, he heard the familiar sound of a Pokemon coming from behind him. He turned around and saw a humanoid Pokémon with pink cannons for arms. Its' entire body was a mix of dark and light pinks and had soft pink flames on not only the head but its tail as well. 'That's a magmortar,' Paul thought to himself as he lowered an eyebrow.

"Ah, Maggie," Brent started to say. "Hey Paul, dinner is ready. Come eat with us!"

Paul gave a slight smirk as he followed behind.

~.~

Paul went outside after dinner. His mouth felt as if it were burning as he drank some water from the green cup he was holding. 'Wow, that food was spicy. They really do like spicy berries…'. A familiar hand touched his shoulder while he was trying to get rid of the burning sensation. Paul looked back and saw Miki and Shamus were right behind him.

"Ready to battle?" Miki asked excitedly.

"Of course," Paul said as he smiled. "I'm sure it will be fun…"

Miki nodded as she and her friend led the way to the other side of the ranch. They eventually stopped in an area which was still lit by the streetlights but was clear enough for the two to battle without obstacles. Shamus stood on the left side as Paul and Miki turned to face each other.

"Alright, let's get started," Paul began to say. "Who will you use?"

Miki looked at all of her Pokemon around the area. She then looked back at the pond that was surrounding the ranch before turning back to Paul.

"I'd like to use Sharky," she said as she pointed to the pond.

"Huh?" Paul asked as he tilted his head to the left.

"That's her sharpedo," Shamus replied as he rolled his eyes. "Yo Miki, how about you use a Pokemon that can battle on land…?"

While Miki was thinking, Amy went over to her trainer, jumping up and down excitedly. Paul smirked as he shook his head from side to side. 'Heh, typical,' he thought as he folded his arms. Miki, on the other hand, stared at her bouncing cranidos in confusion.

"You want to go in?" Miki asked.

Amy shook her head as she jumped onto the field, assuming a fighting stance.

"Alright, I'm going with my cranidos," Miki said. "Who are you going with, Paul?"

"Electivire will be your opponent," Paul explained as he took out a Pokeball. "Electivire, stand by for battle!"

However, the Pokeball opened, and it was empty. Nothing came out of it. Paul frustratedly looked around the area, scanning for his Pokemon. He finally found him on the side of the house, playing with Ellie. Ellie took off her bow on her right antenna and held it up for Electivire to grab while she blushed and giggled. Electivire took the bow from her as he proceeded to touch the side of her face, causing her to laugh even more. 'This again?' Paul wondered as he rolled his eyes at the scene.

"Electivire!" Paul yelled. "What part of "standby for battle" don't you understand? Get here right this instant."

Electivire rolled his eyes as he shuffled over to the spot where Paul was waiting.

"Someone's impatient…" Shamus muttered under his breath. However, it was loud enough for Paul to hear.

"You shut up!" Paul snapped.

"I don't care how angry you are at your Pokemon," Shamus explained sternly as he stood up. "You are not going to raise your voice here. Not while you're battling an autistic trainer, alright?"

Paul rolled his eyes as Electivire finally made it to the field. He nodded at Paul before turning to face his opponent.

"Alright, what's it gonna be?" Shamus asked as he pulled out a coin. "Heads or tails?"

"No need!" Paul objected as he gestured his right arm as if he was holding the door."After you…"

"Thanks, Paul," Miki said as she began to command her Pokemon. "Alright, Amy, spin and use mud slap!"

Amy nodded as she jumped up and began to spit globs of mud from her mouth while spinning. The soil started to go in different directions and kept coming rather quickly.

"Electivire, use protect!" Paul commanded.

Electivire put both of his hands in front of him while mustering a light blue energy shield around him. As the mud began to rain down, the security repelled most of the soil skyward. 'Hm, interesting way to start, but this is not new to me,' Paul nodded as he chuckled softly.

"Electivire, use giga impact!" Paul commanded

"He's not going easy on us!" Miki said. "Block it with hammer arm!"

Electivire proceeded to run towards his opponent while being surrounded by purple energy. The faster he ran, the more powerful the energy around him became. Amy stopped spinning and raised both of her fists, revealing a white light around them. She stood still with her fists in front of her as she waited for the oncoming attack. Both Pokemon then clashed as the cranidos slammed her fists on top of the giga impact. Paul's eyes widened as not only were the two opponents were even in their attack power, Miki's neutral expression changed to a slight smirk.

"Now!" Miki commanded excitedly as she raised her fist in the air.

Amy nodded as she also gave a slight smirk. With all of her might, the craindos used the power of the hammer arm to push back against Electivire's giga impact. Electivire's power disappeared as she moved forward as he began to fall back and slide a couple of feet from his opponent. 'What?!' Paul was surprised as he stepped back two spaces.

As Paul was getting ready to issue another command, he noticed that Electivire's eyes were glossed and were faded. He did not move at all. Even as Paul was calling out for his Pokemon, he still did not move. He laid there, unconscious.

"Electivire is unable to battle," Shamus started to say. "Amy wins the match."

"Yay!" Miki exclaimed as she went over to hug her Pokemon. "We did it! We won!"

Amy also went over to her trainer, and they both fell to the floor, laughing and giggling. Paul proceeded to return his Pokemon back to his Pokeball and began to walk towards the two. He lowered an eyebrow as he looked at both Miki and her Pokemon playing around. In turn, Miki looked up at Paul and got up from the floor while her craindos ran off to join the rest of the Pokemon on the ranch.

"Well," Paul said sarcastically. "Not bad for a Sinnoh Frontier candidate…"

"Huh?" Miki replied as she took a step back and lowered her head in embarrassment. "Hey, Shamey, is it ok if you see what my Pokemon are up to?"

"Um… sure…." Shamus said as he began to walk away, not before looking at Paul suspiciously.

While Shamus walked away. Miki looked up at Paul, who crossed his arms and gave her a disapproving look.

"Well, you battled well…." Paul began to say. "To say I am surprised would be the understatement of the century."

"H-how did you know," Miki started to ask. "About my frontier run?"

"I saw the badges," Paul answered and nodded. "Your uncle told me."

They both looked up at the night sky as they began to talk, which was slightly illuminated by the streetlights and house lights and the large array of stars scattered.

"I see," Miki said as she looked up at Paul. "Well, I won those last year…"

Paul sharply turned over to Miki as she stood next to him with her head down, playing with her thumbs. He quickly thought of when he was on the phone with her and mentioned something that caught his ear.'I had a challenger-er-I meant a challenge at work, so I was kind of late, no biggie,' rung in his mind. 'I knew I wasn't crazy!' Paul sighed while he thought about how defensive she was when he asked her about the challenger.

"So a question," Paul started to ask. "Did you really have a challenge the last time we spoke?"

"Y-yeah," Miki answered as her voice shook. "You see, my mom wants me to be a boss trainer at the black tower. So for me to become a candidate, I have to complete the entire challenge…"

"Care to explain?" Paul asked as he sat down on the grass. "What's a boss trainer?"

Miki also sat down on the grass, further away from him, as she began to explain.

"A boss trainer at the black tower is the trainer you battle," she started to explain. "The black tower is a battle facility, like a gym, but it's more intense. If I win, I can become one of twelve boss trainers. But..."

"Yeah?" Paul asked.

"I don't like Black City," she explained. "It's too dark, too loud, and too boring. What I really want is to be a boss trainer at the White Treehollow in White Forest. Not many trainers go there, and I like that. Plus, my uncle is a boss trainer there, so my family is there."

"I understand," Paul said as he stood up. "Well… how about this, when I win more badges, we shall battle again."

Miki nodded with a smile. "Oh please, would you, Paul? You helping me would be awesome! You could help me reach my goal!"

"Sure," Paul nodded as he began to leave. "I'll see you."

With that, Paul began to leave the ranch, yawning and stretching as he was drained.
 
Top