Pokemon: Legendary Adventures (The Journey Begins) @flyg0n
Mach Power

Here we are at chapter 10! Koa's next challenge is the Pastoria gym. With Shroomish and Hazard on his side, it probably won't be as hard as Roark, but he'll still have to stay on his toes!

I almost forgot to post this, I've been addicted to playing the new Sword and Shield DLC. Its tons of fun!

A couple things to note. First, I changed the title, adding the 'Journey Begins' part, since this will just be the first arc and I have a very fun thing planned for much much later after this story concludes. Second, I changed the summary. What does everyone think of the new one? I wanted it to better describe the story itself, instead of being vague.

Also, if you are interested, there is a piece of story art done. You can find it at 'Hawkosa' on deviant art. Its called 'The Unplanned Pokemon'. Its based on the first chapter of the story.

Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

Tyrunt (Female) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

Anubis (Male Houndour) {Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

Shroomish (Male) {Effect Spore} - Tackle, Headbutt, Stun Spore, Mega Drain

Something landed on Koa's chest, jolting him awake. Opening his eyes, he glanced around to find himself still in his room at the Pokemon Center. He guessed he'd dozed off after dinner. Outside the window the sky was dark, leaving the room itself dark as well. He could just make out the shapes of his other Pokemon, scattered around the room, sleeping. Frowning, he turned on the desk lamp to see what had woken him up. Shroomish stood at the foot of the bed, scowling determinedly. He hopped up and down, then nodded at the door.

Koa glanced at his Poketch. 5:04am. "Shroomish, its early," he grumbled. He turned to head back to bed, but Shroomish dived in front of him, then growled at him. He jumped up and down again, then hopped off the bed and butted his head against the door. Koa let out a sigh.

"I guess should train," he muttered to himself. Now that he thought about it, he'd gotten rather complacent in his morning routine. Shroomish gave another, more insistent cry. The noise awoke Echo, who hung from the fan overhead. He let go and hovered to Koa's shoulder, draping himself comfortably across Koa's back. The noise awoke Rascal, who stood up and let out a long yawn. Hazard, who had apparently been snoozing on her head, slid off, chattering in annoyance. That just left Anubis. The Houndour opened his eyes sleepily, but as soon as he saw everyone else awake, he jumped up and began to bark excitedly.

Well, as long as everyone was up, he might as well get back into proper training. "Come on everyone. We've got work to do." Yawning, he got dressed in his usual attire - shirt, cargo pants, boots, and his leather jacket, then pulled on his gloves and started for the door.

As usual, Koa started with a warm-up and a jog. He was rather disappointed to find he'd lost a bit of his stamina and speed, but he figured it wouldn't take long to build back up. He opted for a route through the edge of the city that ducked through small patches of trees and took him across the little river that ran through town. Shroomish set the pace, charging ahead and forcing Koa to keep up. Anubis trotted loyally at Koa's side, while Rascal kept charging off to scare the local Pokemon, mostly any Pidgey or Starly who she could find. Echo, as usual, flew overhead. Hazard, however, surprised him the most. It didn't take the little Joltik long to hop off his shoulder and try to scurry alongside Shroomish.

Shroomish, eager for the challenge, raced ahead. Not one to be left behind, Hazard charged after him, and the two began a contest of attempting to one-up each other. By the time they circled back around to the Pokemon Center, Hazard was thoroughly exhausted and could barely walk. Shroomish, for his part, looked pretty winded as well, but not quite as much as Hazard.

Koa knelt down and patted Hazard. "Your legs aren't really built for long-distance running, buddy." Hazard chittered sadly and stared at the ground. "You can take him in a fight, though, don't worry." At that, Hazard perked up and gave an excited hop. Koa grinned, then stood up and turned to the rest of his Pokemon. They stood in a semi-circle around him, at the Pokemon Center's battlefield. Koa glanced at each of them, his mind already whirling with plans. There was a whole lot he wanted to get done before challenging Crasher Wake, Pastoria's gym leader.

First, he gave out the Rare Candies he'd found to Anubis. Of all his Pokemon, he figured Anubis could use the boost. They wouldn't substitute for proper training, but they would help give him an edge. Next up was the Giga Drain TM. TM's, or Technical Machines, were truly modern marvels. They gave trainers a way to teach new moves to Pokemon quickly, as well as teach them moves that they couldn't normally learn through training.

He took out his TM case, inserting the TM into the slot. He briefly returned Hazard to his Pokeball, placing it in the slot. With a few presses of a button, he switched out Absorb for Giga Drain. Once the task was done, he sent out Hazard once more.

"Ok Hazard. I gave you Giga Drain, which will be really awesome for you. It's like Absorb, but way stronger. Ready to try it out?" Hazard chittered eagerly and hopped up and down.

"Anubis!" Anubis trotted over and sat down a few feet away. "Ready?" Anubis gave a short bark and looked at Hazard expectantly.

"Hazard, Giga Drain!" he shouted.

Hazard's eyes glowed bright green, and a surprisingly large bright beam of green energy shot from his mouth, striking Anubis. Green sparks danced across the Houndour's fur and he staggered from the force of the attack. A moment later, Hazard let up, a triumphant gleam in his eyes. Anubis shook himself and barked approvingly. "Nice work, buddy," Koa called.

With that accomplished, it was time for some proper training. First up would be Shroomish. After starting his other Pokemon on a simple regimen of trading moves back and forth and countering, he turned to Shroomish.

He remembered Shroomish's moves from back at the marsh. Tackle, Headbutt, Stun Spore, and Mega Drain. He decided to check his Pokedex and do some quick research. Right now, Shroomish's moves were fairly limited. Giga Drain was a good start, he figured. He might replace it later, but for now, it would be a sufficiently strong grass-type move.

Taking out his TM case, he repeated the process, swapping Mega Drain for Giga Drain. He didn't bother having Shroomish test it yet. The move was basically identical to Mega Drain anyway. What really concerned him was Tackle. Since Shroomish knew Headbutt, Tackle was essentially useless. After some deliberation, he decided there was only one good option. Seed Bomb. An exceedingly powerful grass-type move, it was a perfect fit for Shroomish.

Koa knelt in front of Shroomish, who stared back at him, his gaze hard. "You won't need Tackle anymore, so we'll practice Seed Bomb instead, got it?" Shroomish nodded, his mouth set in a serious line.

"Now, according to the Pokedex, Seed Bomb requires you to focus a bunch of grass-type energy to create seeds, then you launch them at your opponent. Got it?" Once more, Shroomish nodded. Koa dragged out one of the training dummies kept on hand at the Pokemon Center. It was nothing more than a large, stiff rubber statue resembling a Rhydon.

He set it up at one end of the field, then positioned Shroomish at the other. "Now Shroomish, use Seed Bomb!"

Shroomish gave a loud cry of determination. A green ball of energy began to form in front of its mouth. It grew from the size of a pebble to a softball. Then Shroomish launched it across the field. It made it halfway to the dummy before crashing to the ground with a loud pop. Shroomish scowled. Before Koa could say anything, Shroomish launched another. This one was larger, and a bit more focused. It made it almost to the dummy too, though it didn't explode with much force. Over and over, Shroomish fired Seed Bomb. After almost an hour, he was panting with exhaustion, but the fruits of his labor were showing. Each attack now hit its mark easily. The only part the technique lacked was the explosion.

Shroomish glared furiously at the target, his tiny body heaving from the effort. "Don't give up, Shroomish! One more time. Pretend that Rhydon is your worst enemy."

A glow flashed through Shroomish eyes. With a loud cry, he fired a massive ball of energy across the field. It crashed into the dummy with a resounding bang, followed by an explosion of dirt and rock. Koa grinned and knelt next to the exhausted Shroomish. "You did it! Now, how about we take a quick break?" Shroomish hesitated a moment, then nodded.

As Koa returned to the Pokemon Center, excitement filled his bones. The third gym badge was as good as his.

xXx

"Hey there, challenger! Ready for your battle?"

Koa faced Crasher Wake, still in awe. He'd read about Crasher Wake, of course, but the man was truly massive in person. Wake wore his trademark blue and black wrestling tights, orange boots, along with a mask that crisscrossed his face. He stood well over six feet, and Koa was pretty sure it would take two of him side by side to equal the man's muscular girth. Koa privately wondered who was bigger - Lt. Surge, the famed gym leader of Vermilion City in the Kanto region, or Wake. "Yeah, I'm ready to get my Fen Badge."

Wake grinned and turned around, motioning for Koa to follow. "I like your spunk. What's your name?"

"Koamaru," he replied as he followed Wake through the gym to the battlefield. Even though he'd seen pictures of the gym's infamous water battlefield, it was still a daunting sight. A massive swimming pool, dotted with small floating platforms throughout, stretched from one end of the room to the other. Koa figured it was at least as long as several Gyarados. Mobility would be an issue, but he was sure his Pokemon could handle it. He took up a position on the challenger's side of the field, waiting as Wake made his way to the opposite side.

A referee stepped up to a spot on the side of the field. "The battle between Crasher Wake and challenger Koamaru will be a three-on-three match. The battle will continue until one side is out of usable Pokemon. Furthermore, only the challenger may substitute Pokemon."

Koa nodded. Unlike Roark or Gardenia, Wake and many other gyms opted for a three Pokemon match. It evened the odds a bit, and according to Wake, made the battles more fun.

Wake pumped his fists in the air, his wide grin visible even from where Koa stood. "Think you're ready for my Pokemon? My Pokémon were toughened up by stormy white waters! They'll take everything you can throw at them and then pull you under! Victory will be ours! Come on, let's get it done!"

Koa found himself smiling at the display. He liked Wake. The man had a boisterous attitude, but unlike Fantina, who was apparently never around, he seemed to take great joy in battles and liked to get straight to them. Still grinning, Wake grabbed a pokeball from a small stand on his side of the field. With a flourish, he released his first Pokemon into the water.

A Gyarados splashed into the pool, sending massive waves rippling throughout. It roared, then gave an odd sort of grin that Koa thought matched its trainer very well. Well, as long as Wake was using his Gyarados, that made his decision easy.

"Come on out, Hazard!" He called, tossing the pokeball onto the field. In a flash of light, Hazard landed on one of the many floating platforms dotted around the gym. At the sight of the minuscule Pokemon, Wake broke into uproarious laughter.

"In all my time, I've never seen anyone use one of those before! I like it," he roared. "I'm looking forward to this."

Yeah, he definitely liked Wake.

"Battle, begin!" The referee called.

"Electroweb!" Koa called. There wasn't much point trying to hide his strategy, not when he sent out an electric-type. All he needed were a few solid hits, since Gyarados sported a double-weakness to electricity.

"Dragon Rage!"

Hazard generated a small orb of electricity and fired the web, just as Gyarados cocked back its head and blasted a stream of purplish flames. The two attacks collided, then the Dragon Rage burst through, headed straight for Hazard.

"Dodge!" Hazard scrambled out of the way, landing on another platform just as Dragon Breath struck the one he'd been standing on. "Now, Electroweb again."

Hazard rapidly blasted the attack. The web arced through the air and wrapped around Gyarados' neck, shocking it.

"Gyarados, use Bite!" Shaking off the electricity, Gyarados lunged forwards, jaws wide.

"Dive underneath, Hazard," Koa said. Hazard leaped forward, his tiny size easily allowing him to slip under the attack. Gyarados crashed into the water, sending more waves throughout the stadium. "Electroweb again."

Hazard whirled around, firing off a huge Electroweb. It crashed against Gyarados, shocking it again. It growled angrily, though Koa could tell it was losing steam.

"Underwater, quick," Wake called, issuing the simple command. Snarling, Gyarados dived underwater, vanishing surprisingly quickly. Koa frowned. Thanks to its coloration, he couldn't make out its position underwater. But if Wake was anything like Roark and his Dig... A grin spread across his face.

"Get ready, Hazard. He's coming from underneath." He said confidently. A moment later, Gyarados smashed into the platform Hazard stood on, sending him soaring into the air, almost reaching the roof.

"Dragon Rage, again!" Wake shouted. Gyarados spat the purple fireball at the airborne Joltik. Koa's eyes widened. Joltik was completely vulnerable. An attack now would do a lot of damage.

"Dodge with String Shot," Koa shouted quickly. Hazard spat a fat string of webbing, but instead of aiming it towards the ceiling to pull himself out of the way of the attack, he sprayed it downwards as he fell. Koa stared in confusion. What was he doing? Joltik's momentum carried him into his own attack, cocooning him in a dense layer of webbing. Then Dragon Rage hit. Understanding dawned on him as he watched the events play out. The fireball of draconic energy burned through the webbing fairly easily, but barely touched Hazard. Joltik hurtled down, straight towards the shocked Gyarados.

"Electroweb!"

With a malicious glint in his eyes, Hazard fired the burst of electric webbing. It struck Gyarados dead in the face, covering its entire head. Sparks rippled across its body as it roared in pain, then collapsed. Hazard landed on one of the platforms and chittered triumphantly.

"Gyarados is unable to battle. Joltik is the winner!" The referee called.

"Hey! That there! That was a good move!" Wake said as he returned Gyarados. "I like your Joltik! He's got spunk!"

"Thanks!" Koa called. From across the field, Wake selected his second pokeball. "You ready for my second Pokemon?"

Koa nodded determinedly.

Wake tossed out his second pokeball. A Quagsire emerged into the water, rumbling happily.

In that case.. "Hazard, come back," he said. Hazard leaped across the platforms and to Koa's side. Koa smiled proudly as he stooped down and gently scratched his head. Joltik chittered happily. "That was super cool, how you used a String Shot to shield yourself. You're awesome." He was definitely going to remember that tactic for another battle. Hazard made a happy churring noise, then hurried up his leg and onto his shoulder. "You want to watch the rest of the battle?" He asked. Hazard nodded eagerly.

Koa selected his second pokeball confidently. He'd been planning for this. "Go Shroomish!" He released Shroomish, who landed on one of the floating platforms and let out a battle cry.

The referee raised his arms. "Battle, begin!"

"Seed Bomb." Koa said. As with Gyarados, his strategy was simple. Quagsire featured only one weakness. Grass-type. And it was a double-weakness at that. All Koa needed was a few good hits, and he was sure he could take it down. Shroomish charged up a glowing ball of energy. He shot it, and it arced through the air towards Quagsire.

"Dodge and go underwater." Quagsire dived smoothly underwater as Seed Bomb harmlessly exploded above him. Koa frowned. He'd been worried about this. Quagsire held a significant advantage in this field. Hitting would be a problem. But... it would have to surface at some point. A sudden idea struck him. Though he couldn't predict where it would surface, maybe he could control it.

"Now, jump across the platforms and use Stun Spore!" Shroomish glanced back at him, confused. Then understanding dawned in his gaze and he nodded. His body shuddered, then a cloud of golden spores shot from his head. As Shroomish leaped from platform to platform, he scattered a layer of spores across the water. Within moments, most of the pool was covered in the spores. Wake scowled, and Koa grinned at him. Shroomish had just ruined Wake's best advantage.

"Ice Beam," Wake said.

"There!" Koa called, pointing to Wake's end of the pool. Only a few areas remained untouched by the dangerous spores. Which meant Quagsire didn't have many options. "Seed Bomb."

Quagsire leaped from the water, the icy orb of energy already ready. As it fired the triple beam of icy energy, Shroomish had already launched his Seed Bomb. Unfortunately, charging it had left him wide open. Ice Beam struck him full on, sending him skipping across the water. At nearly the same moment, Seed Bomb came down upon Quagsire's head, exploding and sending it straight into the spore filled pool.

Shivering, Shroomish stood battered but still standing on one of the platforms closest to Koa. At the opposite end of the pool, Quagsire was still conscious, but tiny sparks traveled across its body and it trembled violently. Good. The spores had done their work.

"Get closer and use Giga Drain." Shroomish hopped awkwardly across the platforms, his speed slightly hampered by the chill from Ice Beam.

"Quagsire, quick. Sludge Bomb!" Quagsire opened its jaws, then shut them and grimaced as another spasm wracked its body. Shroomish stopped halfway across the pool, then fired a beam of iridescent green energy. It struck Quagsire, draining the last of its strength and restoring Shroomish slightly. Within moments, Quagsire was unconscious. Wake smiled sadly as he returned it.

"Quagsire is unable to battle. Shroomish is the victor!"

"Nice work, Shroomish," Koa called.

"That was some smart moves, using Stun Spore on the pool. Now, get ready for my toughest Pokemon! Go Floatzel!"

Wake tossed out his final pokeball, revealing an impressive looking Floatzel. It landed on a platform with a cry of challenge, before diving smoothly into the water.

Koa eyed it thoughtfully. By now, the spores had dispersed rather harmlessly into the water. There was a chance he could try the same trick again, but Floatzel was clearly much faster than Quagsire. He was sure it could attack before Shroomish could do much, plus Wake would be ready for it.

After a moment's hesitation, he returned Shroomish. His fingers brushed over his other pokeballs as he contemplated his next move. Hazard was always an option, but it would be hard for him to use size to his advantage properly, plus he didn't think Joltik could match Floatzel in mobility. Tyrunt was powerful, but he wasn't really sure she had enough raw power yet to compensate for her disadvantage. He wanted to catch Wake off guard. And he had the perfect Pokemon for that. Selecting the familiar black and red pokeball, he tossed it out.

"Go Echo." With an excited screech, Golbat emerged onto the battlefield. "Stay airborne. Be ready for it. That Floatzel looks fast," Koa said quietly. Echo nodded and hovered a little higher. Floatzel poked its head out of the water and eyed Golbat, grinning toothily.

"Battle begin."

"This is where it gets exciting. First move is yours, Koa!" Wake shouted. His voice remained jovial, which surprised Koa. He was on his last Pokemon after all.

Time to test his opponent. "Alright Echo, Crunch!"

Echo circled, then dived down, his jaws glowing with dark energy.

"Block it." Floatzel leaped out of the water, landing nimbly on a platform. It swiftly inflated the floating sac around its neck, just as Echo was about to sink his fangs in. Instead, Echo ended up biting the sac. The Floatzel grimaced from the impact, but managed to shake Golbat off. Koa snorted in frustration. Crunch had done some damage, but only a little. There was no way using Crunch or Wing Attack would deal the necessary damage if it kept blocking like that.

"Ice Fang." Floatzel leaped gracefully into the air, its jaws glowing.

"Wing Attack!" Echo shrieked and dived at the approaching Floatzel, both his wings glowing. The attacks collided, with Floatzel sinking its jaws into one of Echo's wings. Just as it bit down, Echo swung his other wing straight into its face, knocking it off. Floatzel landed in the pool below with a splash, but quickly emerged, looking relatively unharmed.

"Up, Golbat," Koa murmured. Echo floated higher, swooping in erratic circles above Floatzel. Koa could tell he was feeling the effects of Ice Fang. Floatzel had better stamina than Echo, he suspected. So perhaps a similar tactic to how he'd beat Roark could work.

"Wing Attack." Echo dived down in an instant, his wings glowing.

Wake let out a loud laugh. "Block it, Floatzel." Floatzel hopped neatly onto a platform and puffed out its floatation sac. Echo smashed it with Wing Attack, only succeeding in knocking Floatzel back a half-inch. Koa smirked. Just as he hoped.

"Now, Poison Fang." Wake's eyes widened as he realized what was about to happen. Fangs dripping with toxic poison, Echo sank his jaws into the flotation sac, eliciting a squeal of pain from Floatzel.

"Get that thing off with Bulk Up and Brine."

Red aura surrounded Floatzel and its entire body expanded slightly, dislodging Echo. Rearing back, Floatzel opened its jaws and blasted Echo in the face with a powerful stream of water. Echo flew halfway across the battlefield before he caught himself and landed on one of the platforms, breathing heavily.

Floatzel staggered and sank briefly to its knees, its eyes closed. Koa could see where Echo had bit it, and the area was turning purple. A smile crept over his face. Echo had bit down long enough for Poison Fang to do its work.

"Brine once again." Floatzel recovered and stood up, blasting another jet of water at Echo.

"Dodge!" Koa called. Echo fluttered upwards, but his exhaustion slowed him. Brine glanced off one of his wings, sending him spiraling.

"Ice Fang!" Floatzel dived into the water, surging forward with shocking speed.

Koa gritted his teeth. There was only one chance to end this. "Don't give up, Echo. Fly up!"

Echo caught himself and, finding a reserve of strength, surged upwards. Floatzel leaped after him, its jaws glowing icy blue.

"Turn, then Confuse Ray!" Already midair, Floatzel was unable to halt its momentum. Echo turned sideways, letting Floatzel pass by just inches away. Golden orbs formed in his jaws, and he hit Floatzel point blank with Confuse Ray. Floatzel cried out and fell back towards the pool and crashed into one of the platforms. Echo slowly hovered above the battlefield, breathing heavily. Koa wasn't sure he could last much longer.

Floatzel staggered to its feet and growled, a vacant glaze in its eyes. "Floatzel, in the water, quick!" Still in a trance, Floatzel opened its jaws wide, fangs glowing ice blue, then sank them into its own arm. It cried out in pain and collapsed onto the platform, barely conscious.

"Floatzel!" Wake shouted again.

"Wing Attack." Koa said, calmly. Echo grinned, weary yet triumphant, then dived towards the exhausted Floatzel. Still dazed, it glanced upwards. Panic filled its confused eyes and it tried to drag itself off the platform, but too late. Echo whirled and smashed it twice with Wing Attack, knocking it out.

"Floatzel is unable to battle! Challenger Koamaru is the winner."

Koa pumped his fist in the air. "Yes!" He shouted. Hazard bounced up and down excitedly on his shoulder. Echo fluttered over to him, and Koa held out his arms. Golbat practically collapsed into them, and he scratched him behind his ears. "Nice work, buddy." He took out Echo's pokeball and returned him.

Crasher Wake jogged around the battlefield towards him. A few moments later, he stood before Koa, still grinning widely. He clapped Koa on the back, nearly making him fall over. "That was impressive! It seems the undertow pulled me under... But I had a great time battling with you! You've earned this!" He held out the Fen badge, a gleaming blue and silver circular badge that vaguely resembled a wave, though Koa thought it looked more like Wake's trademark mask. He also held out a small pouch of money.

Koa took both, grinning proudly. "Thank you!"

"You certainly earned it, kid. I have to say, you have some unusual Pokemon. The Shroomish is expected, but I've never had someone use Joltik before. And I don't think I've ever had a challenger use a Golbat. Did you catch it as a Golbat?"

"Nope," Koa said, shaking his head. "I caught him as a Zubat. Technically, he's my starter Pokemon."

At that, Wake guwaffed loudly. "I don't believe it! A Zubat was the first Pokemon you caught?"

Koa nodded sheepishly. "I didn't mean to at first, but now I wouldn't trade him for anything."

Wake nodded and clapped Koa on his shoulder. Koa staggered from the force of it. "That's good, kid. A good trainer raises strong Pokemon. A great trainer makes his Pokemon strong. You've got the potential to be great."

Heat rose to Koa's cheeks. "Really?" he asked. A hint of embarrassment rushed through him. He'd never actually thought about if he had potential. "Well, I owe it to my Golbat. He was the one who didn't give up on me."

"I like you, Koa. Come back after you get all eight badges. I'd love to battle you with my real team."

"Sure!" Koa said eagerly, grinning. Even if Wake wasn't the hardest gym leader, he liked him a lot. A lot more than Fantina, that was for sure. Although that wasn't exactly saying much, he supposed. Either way, Wake was fun.

"Where are you headed next?" Wake asked.

"Back to Hearthome, I guess," he said after a moment. "I still need to battle Fantina."

Wake frowned. "Hmph. Well, good look with that, kid. Now, I have some preparations to make for the Croagunk Festival. I look forward to seeing you again."

Koa waved farewell, then left the gym, a feeling of pride flowing through him. He took a moment to admire his new badge, then placed it in his badge case. As he walked towards the Pokemon Center, he contemplated his next move again. After some deliberation, he decided his best bet would be to head back to Hearthome. Either that, or an equally arduous trek north, to Veilstone. Though with Anubis, the Hearthome gym would be easy. Fantina should be back at her gym, so he could get his fourth badge. Of course, that meant making the long walk back across Route 212.

Still pondering, he stepped into the Pokemon Center and walked up to the counter. He handed off all his Pokemon, then took a quick trip to the Pokemart. He needed to restock on his healing items, plus he wanted to buy a jar of honey for Echo. He'd more than earned it, after his fight with Floatzel. Buying it from the Pokemart cost him a bit more than getting it straight from Floaroma, but it was worth it. Besides, he'd earned a decent sum of money from his recent battles and from defeating Wake.

Once he'd purchased his items, he decided to check the TM counter. Unfortunately, they didn't have anything he wanted. He suspected he wouldn't find much until he got to Veilstone City. Pastoria was exactly known for its TM selection. Oh well.

By the time he returned to the Pokemon Center, the resident nurse Joy had finished healing his team. He'd decided to get a head start on traveling back to Hearthome. Thanks to the shortcut Avis had shown him, he figured if he didn't get slowed down, he could make the trip in a week.

Once he stood outside the city, he released all his Pokemon. They greeted him with varying eager cries, although he noted Hazard seemed a bit subdued. His eyes looked a bit duller than normal, which made Koa frown. "Everything ok, Hazard?" Joltik quickly brightened up and nodded. Koa scratched his head, then turned to Echo. "First things first. I think you deserve a special treat." He gently removed the jar of honey from his backpack, placing it on the ground.

Echo's eyes lit up and he dived at the jar.

"Wait, wait, let me open- it first!" Koa said, laughing. Golbat perched a mere half-inch away, drool trickling from his open jaw. Unscrewing the lid, he nudged it towards Echo.

Echo descended upon it in a flurry, swallowing the jar whole. A few moments later he spat it out, completely empty. Some honey trickled down the corners of his mouth, which he promptly licked off. Then he leaped into Koa's lap, slathering him in sticky licks of gratitude.

"Get off!" Koa cried playfully, pushing Echo away. Grimacing, he did his best to wipe the sticky saliva off. "Thanks a lot," he muttered, still smiling. Echo shrieked happily and then fluttered onto his shoulders. Koa stood up and slung his backpack on, briefly dislodging Echo, who immediately relighted on his shoulders.

"Alright everyone, let's get going to Hearthome." He decided to return his team, save for Shroomish, who he hoped to get some exercise for, and Anubis. Since they were the newest members of his team, they needed the most attention.

He set off walking, angling north so he could get to the shortcut. As he crested a hill and neared the dense trees where the shortcut was hidden, Shroomish let out a loud cry. Koa paused, turning to see what had caught Shroomish's attention.

Farther down the hill, at the edge of the marsh, he spotted a trainer and Pokemon. Shroomish was staring at the trainer, eye alight with the fire of battle. Koa frowned and peered down the hill at the pair. They looked vaguely familiar... The trainer had dark skin and white hair, and his Pokemon appeared to be a Hitmonchan. Shroomish jumped up and down excitedly, looking between Koa and the trainer. Then he started to trot down the hill towards them.

Koa followed, his curiosity peaked. Anubis trotted beside him, tail wagging. He was certain now that he knew the white-haired trainer from somewhere. As he drew closer, he could see the trainer was fairly young, maybe 16- or 17 by Koa's estimate. He stood ankle deep in the mud, doing some kind of strange motion with his arms. It almost looked like some kind of martial arts moves, except incredibly slow. His Hitmonchan stood a few feet in front of him, eyes closed as it copied the motions exactly. Koa wondered how it knew what to do without watching its trainer.

Shroomish darted across the mud and started to jump up and down excitedly, grunting. "Shroomish, stop it," Koa hissed. He didn't want to disturb the trainer from... whatever it was the guy was doing. If the trainer noticed, he gave no indication that he did.

Shroomish watched them, an unusual intensity burning in his gaze. Koa stared thoughtfully at the trainer, trying to remember where he'd seen him. A white-haired young man and a Hitmonchan... He snapped his fingers suddenly. That was it! He'd been at the Great Marsh yesterday.

The trainer seemed to finish what he was doing, then turned around to face Koa.

Anubis trotted over to the trainer sniffing him eagerly, his tail wagging the whole time. Then he barked and started licking the trainers outstretched hand.

"Anubis, stop!" Anubis stopped and sat dutifully beside Koa. The exchange did make Koa curious. He remembered reading somewhere that canine Pokemon like Houndour and Growlithe were excellent judges of character.

"Uh.. hey," Koa said, awkwardly. "I think my Shroomish was excited by your... training." At least, he thought it was training. He honestly had no idea what he was doing. The only thing he did know was the Shroomish was very interested in the man.

Shroomish bounced over to the Hitmonchan and gave a loud cry. Hitmonchan gently extended a fist towards the Shroomish, which Shroomish answered by leaping into the air and headbutting it, though not hard.

"I believe your Shroomish wants to challenge my Hitmonchan," the trainer said.

Koa grinned. Shroomish could definitely use the workout. "I'm down for a battle. If you can handle it."

The trainer inclined his head towards his Hitmonchan. They met eyes, and Hitmonchan grunted and nodded. "Jackie agrees. What is your name?"

"Koa," he replied. "Yours?"

"Kitto."

Koa frowned, puzzled. The name was certainly odd, though he supposed he had no right to judge, considering his own name was equally weird.

"One on one then, Kitto?" he asked.

To his surprise, Kitto shook his head. "Two on one. Let me battle your best. Then I will battle your Shroomish."

Koa balked. Two on one? The odds were unfair, especially if his Hitmonchan wasn't strong. He eyed Hitmonchan, who seemed unfazed. "Hey, it's your loss," he said, shrugging.

"You'll get a chance soon, Shroomish," he said, addressing Shroomish, who was still watching the Hitmonchan determinedly. He gave a small nod, but his gaze didn't leave Hitmonchan.

Kitto headed up the hill, and Koa followed him to the top, where the ground was firm and dry. They took up positions on opposite sides of the hilltop.

"Summon your best," Kitto called.

Well, if Kitto was using a Hitmonchan, there was only one Pokemon he trusted. "Come out, Echo," he said. Echo emerged onto the battlefield, shrieking. Hitmonchan simply watched it, unfazed. Tyrunt held more raw power, but Echo simply had more battle experience and type advantage. Besides, Kitto had asked for his best. Anubis sat on Koa's other size, his gaze intensely focused on the battlefield.

"Hitmonchan, battle stance north," Kitto called. Hitmonchan took up a fighting stance, his eyes narrowed and his gaze serious. Koa blinked, then stared at Hitmonchan. He'd seen plenty of pictures of Hitmonchan, and seen a few videos, especially since he'd wanted a Tyrogue. But he'd never seen a Hitmonchan using the stance that his opponent did. It looked different from the traditional boxer's stance of their breed.

"Be on your guard, Echo," he murmured. Echo nodded in understanding.

Kitto spoke up again. "You may have the first attack."

"Alright Koa, Confuse Ray!" A trio of golden orbs swirled in front of the Golbat's jaws, then he fired them at Hitmonchan.

"Thunder Punch," Kitto called.

The orb struck Hitmonchan as its fist charged with electricity. Without warning, it struck itself in the face and staggered back slightly.

Perfect. He guessed confusion had kicked in just in time. "Wing Attack!"

Echo's wings glowed white and he dived downwards. With a spin, he struck Hitmonchan across the face, knocking it back several yards. Still seemingly in a daze, Hitmonchan staggered over to a tree and began to punch it.

Grinning, Koa gestured wildly. "Wing Attack again! Finish him!" Echo dived at Hitmonchan again, who was still punching the tree. It wasn't until he was barely a yard away that Kitto gave a command.

"Brick Break."

Instantly, Hitmonchan stopped punching the tree. In a blur of motion, it took two steps up the tree, leaping off and somersaulting over Echo. Echo's Wing Attack passed underneath it as Hitmonchan's fist glowed white. Before Koa could open his mouth, Hitmonchan smashed its fist into the airborne Golbat, sending him smashing into the ground.

"Echo!" he shouted.

"Thunder Punch."

Dread filled Koa, but there was little he could do - Echo was still stunned from the Brick Break that had cratered him into the ground. Hitmonchan sailed downwards, its fist cloaked in electricity, and smashed into Echo. Koa flinched. That definitely hurt. Hitmonchan jumped back, landing nimbly a few feet away. The dust cleared, revealing what Koa already knew - Echo had fainted.

Grimacing, he returned Echo. He stared at Hitmonchan, perplexed. He knew confusion could last anywhere from a minute to several minutes. How had it overcome it so easily? Luck?

"Hitmonchan sure shook off that confusion pretty quick," he called.

Kitto threw his head back and chuckled. "Hitmonchan was never confused. That Thunder Punch? He used it on himself on purpose. The jolt of electricity broke the confusion."

Koa blinked. "Wh-" he bit back the question. He didn't want to show any weakness. Still, what? The idea made sense, but it was a tactic that caught him way off guard. What other tricks did Kitto and his Hitmonchan have up their sleeves?

An odd feeling filled him, not unlike when he first lost to Roark. Though Hitmonchan's overall strength seemed equal, if only slightly greater than his own, his technique was impeccable. Still annoyed by his loss, he turned to Shroomish, who had watched the entire battle silently from his side. With a loud cry, Shroomish sprang onto the battlefield, glaring Hitmonchan down.

"Okay Jackie, battle stance south," Kitto said smoothly.

Hitmonchan nodded, switching to another stance Koa didn't recognize.

A frown crossed Koa's face. If his opponent was that good, he needed to start with a bang. "Shroomish, use Seed Bomb!"

Shroomish tilted his face upwards as a glowing ball of energy gathered in front of his mouth. With a roar, he spat it across the field, straight at Hitmonchan.

"Counter with Fire Punch."

At the last moment, Himonchan threw a fist cloaked in flames at Seed Bomb. The collision created an explosion that shoved Hitmonchan back several feet.

"Brick Break."

"Headbutt." Maybe he could get Effect Spore to kick in...

Hitmonchan and Shroomish charged across the field towards each other.

"Be careful!" Kitto shouted.

Hitmonchan tripped midstep, its Brick Break crashing into the ground. The strike generated enough force to crack the earth and send a rock jutting up between Shroomish and Hitmonchan.

Shroomish struck the rock and bounced back, relatively unharmed. The rock crumbled from the force of the blow. Koa frowned. He had no idea if the counter had been accidental or intentional, but he needed to get the upper hand somehow.

"Headbutt!" he called again. Shroomish grunted and charged at Hitmonchan once more.

"Brick break again," Kitto said.

Koa mentally grinned. Perfect.

Hitmonchan sprinted across the field, its fist glowing. It drew its fist back, about to strike.

"Stun Spore!" Koa shouted.

Shroomish's body rippled and then an explosion of yellow spores burst from its head as Brick Break connected. The blow sent Shroomish flying back, but he managed to land on his feet, panting but triumphant. Hitmonchan's eyes widened as the spores coated its body. Sparks danced across its body and it grunted.

Finally. Hopefully the Hitmonchan would stay paralyzed. "Seed Bomb!"

Shroomish launched the familiar ball of green energy at Hitmonchan. Hitmonchan lurched sideways in an attempt to dodge, but more sparks shot across its body and it sank to its knees. Seed Bomb crashed onto its head and exploded. Hitmonchan grunted and pushed itself to its feet.

"Giga Drain," Koa called. No way was he letting this chance go. Shroomish had a chance to do some real damage.

Shroomish's eyes lit up and a beam of green energy struck Hitmonchan. Energy began to flow to the tired Shroomish, and his strength began to return slowly but surely

"Brick Break," Kitto called. Hitmonchan tried to raise his fist, then shuddered and froze. Koa couldn't believe his luck.

"Keep trying, don't stop," Kitto said confidently.

Once more, Hitmonchan tried to raise its fist, only to be paralyzed. Then, on the third try, it succeeded. With a mighty cry, it smashed its fist into the ground again, creating a barrier of rock and cutting off Giga Drain.

Koa scowled. Shroomish had replenished a fair amount of energy, but he was far from fully recovered either. Plus, the rock barrier blocked his view of Hitmonchan. Whatever. That wouldn't stop him.

"Fire punch! Ice punch!" Kitto shouted.

"Seed Bomb, Shroomish. Arc it over the wall!"

Shroomish nodded and charged up the ball of green energy.

From behind the wall, he heard a cry of pain, followed by a sudden burst of flame. What was that?

With a cry, Shroomish threw his head back, launching Seed Bomb into the air. It arced expertly, hurtling down towards where Hitmonchan likely stood. Suddenly, the rock wall shattered, revealing a singed looking Hitmonchan. It swung an ice coated fist up at the approaching Seed bomb, striking it dead on. The Seed Bomb froze over and Hitmonchan rolled it nimbly down his arm, across his back and spun it off his other arm. Then he twisted and punched it straight at Shroomish.

"Dodge!" Koa cried.

Shroomish scrambled desperately backwards.

Kitto gave a single command. "Break."

Hitmonchan slammed his fist into the ground.

Several things happened at once. A crack ran across the ground from the spot where Hitmonchan had first tripped and used the rock barrier, to the second spot where he'd repeated the trick. The earth shifted slightly, and a larger crack formed. Shroomish stumbled as the earth tilted suddenly, shoving him upwards a few feet. He gave a shocked cry, his tiny legs flailing midair. The ice coated Seed Bomb smashed into him hard, crushing him back into the ground and creating a small explosion of dust.

Koa gaped at the display. As the dust cleared, he took out Shroomish's pokeball, ready to return him, when Shroomish slowly stood up. Koa's jaw dropped. How was he still able to stand after taking a hit like that? Shroomish gave a defiant grunt, his breaths coming in short gasps. One more hit and he was definitely done. But if Shroomish wasn't giving up, then neither was he.

"Okay Shroomish, use-" He paused. Shroomish started to bounce from one foot to the other, swinging his stubby body in a strange motion. If he'd had arms, Koa would've thought it almost resembled a punch.

A shimmer covered Shroomish and a glow gathered on one side of his body. Then he charged across the battlefield. As he ran, the glow spread across his entire body. His shape began to morph, his legs elongating and his head and body growing. A tail sprouted from his lean frame, and two small arms emerged. In the silhouette, he saw Shroomish raise one of his fists. Then, in a burst of blinding speed, he covered the last few yards to Hitmonchan, his frame still glowing with energy. His fist collided with Hitmonchan's. Light and energy exploded from Shroomish's form.

Koa's jaw dropped. In place of Shroomish now stood a Breloom, his fist pressing defiantly against Hitmonchan's, a triumphant and satisfied gleam in his eye. Sparks flew as the two Pokemon engaged in a contest of strength and will, both pressing against each other. Then, almost too fast for Koa to see, Hitmonchan did a strange twist with his body. Energy exploded in his fist, sending Breloom sliding backwards.

As Breloom slid, Hitmonchan charged after him, blindingly fast. He began to throw a volley of rapid-fire punches using only his right arm, which Breloom fiercely began to defend.

"Match up," Kitto said calmly. Even before he finished giving the command, Hitmonchan responded. He began trading blows with Shroomish, each of his punches precisely striking and blocking Breloom's punches. Koa could only watch in awe as the two went at it.

"Your Breloom is a worthy opponent. Jackie and I can't wait until he gets stronger."

Koa could see that Breloom was beginning to tire while Hitmonchan looked worn, but far from spent.

Kitto continued. "However, that being said, Fire Punch."

Koa paled as Kitto spoke. He opened his mouth to warn Breloom, but it was much too late.

Breloom threw a punch that seemed to strike Hitmonchan dead in the jaw. Then in a blur of motion, Hitmonchan had vanished, ducking around the blow, his fist coated in flames. He struck Breloom in the chest, and a burst of flame erupted all around him. A couple seconds later, the flames faded, leaving Breloom still standing. Then, as Koa watched, Breloom crumpled to the ground, unconscious.

Koa raced to Breloom's side and knelt next to him. He stirred weakly and opened his eyes, grunting in pain. His face was twisted into a frown, and his eyes were downcast. Koa thought he looked heartbroken.

"You were awesome, Shroomish!" He murmured. "You evolved just to fight that Hitmonchan. That's sick."

At that, Breloom cracked a small smile. Koa took out a potion from his pocket, quickly restoring him. Looking up, he saw Kitto approaching. With a quick glance to make sure Breloom was alright, he stood up and dusted his hands off.

"Your Breloom pushed himself to evolve, just to fight Jackie," Kitto said, gesturing to Hitmonchan. "That was incredible."

Breloom had gotten to his feet and was glaring fiercely at Hitmonchan.

Koa shook Kitto's hand. "Your Hitmonchan - I mean, Jackie - is amazing. I don't think I've ever seen a Hitmonchan fight like that." A wistful note crept into his voice. His love for his new Breloom hadn't decreased, but he vowed to catch a Tyrogue one day. It would be awesome to have one of the 'Hitmon' line for himself.

A movement to his left caught his attention. Koa turned to see that Breloom had moved several feet away and was experimentally throwing a few jabs at a tree. Jackie watched from afar, a gleam of interest in his eyes. A random thought occured to Koa, and he whirled back to face Kitto. "Will you help train Breloom? He's already really tough, but I don't know anything about fighting. I mean, fighting like you. That was some kind of martial arts you were practicing earlier, right?"

"Yeah, 'some kind' of martial arts," Kitto replied, air quoting himself. His voice had an obvious note of sarcasm, though it more playful instead of malicious.

Koa pressed on. "Well, I think Breloom needs a good teacher. Come with me as far as Hearthome, and teach him."

Kitto frowned thoughtfully. His gaze traveled from Shroomish to Koa, scrutinizing. Koa shuddered slightly and felt tempted to take a step back, but held his ground. For someone so young, Kitto had an unusually intense gaze. It felt calculating and intense, yet not cold. There was a warmth in his red eyes. Finally Kitto spoke. "I can teach him, but you will have to leave Breloom with me. We will have to undergo intense training. Do you accept?"

Koa stared at Kitto. His temper flared. "No way!" He burst out. "Give you Breloom? I don't think so!" He snapped.

Kitto cocked an eyebrow. "Don't you want your Breloom to get stronger?"

"Sure, but not like that. You're a complete stranger! I just met you. There's no way I'm giving you my Pokemon just like that." His mind flashed back to Clefairy and the robbery at Rowan's lab. He took a hesitant step back. "For all I know you could be some kind of Pokemon thief," he grumbled. Granted, Koa didn't think Kitto was actually a thief, but it didn't change how he felt. "Look, I would rather get stronger with Breloom. Even if it takes way longer. So thanks, but no thanks. We'll just train on our own."

Kitto regarded him with a serious eye for a moment, then broke into a wide smile. "And that's the right answer. Training is about the bond between a Pokemon and trainer. It's sacred and should be treasured." His voice began to grow in intensity. "A trainer should always strive to grow stronger with their Pokemon, because training isn't just a game! It's not some ping pong match that you send your Pokemon off to on a whim! You work hard and you reap the rewards of your effort! That is the only way to become a truly great trainer!"

By the time he finished, his voice had reached a level of intensity Koa hadn't seen in any other trainer. Kitto wasn't loud but man was his voice intense. There was a fiery passion in every word he spoke that Koa couldn't help but admire.

"Anyway, I'm glad you said no. If you'd agreed, I wouldn't have trained either of you. I could very well be a member of Team Rocket, for all you knew."

Koa squinted at him. "Are you?"

Kitto chuckled, clearly amused by the implication. "Well, in my experience Team Rocket tends to hire fools or ugly people. Anyways, have you ever seen Team Rocket fight like me?"

"Well, I don't know anyone from Team Rocket." His mind trailed back to Kitto's earlier words. "So wait... does this mean you will train Breloom?"

Kitto nodded. "Sure, why not? Your Breloom is pretty impressive."

A wide grin spread across Koa's face. Unable to help himself, he pumped his fist in the air. "Sick!"

"Breloom!" he called. Breloom stopped his practice, and trotted over. "Kitto and Jackie are going to travel with us and help you train."

Breloom grunted, a note of frustration in his voice, though it lacked bitterness. Koa suspected Breloom was still annoyed he'd lost, especially after evolving. He leaned close to whisper to him, "Don't worry. We'll beat them soon." He held out his fist, and Breloom grinned and bumped his fist against Koa's.

Kitto glanced at the sky. By now, the sun was approaching the west horizon and the first traces of orange and pink were coloring the horizon. "We should get moving soon," he said. He strode over to his Hitmonchan and pulled out an Oran berry from his pocket. "Here you go, Jackie." He pulled out a second berry and held it out to Breloom. "And one for you, little scrapper."

Breloom's eyes lit up and he trotted over, taking the berry from Kitto.

Koa snapped his fingers suddenly. "Scrapper!" he shouted. Both Kitto and Breloom turned to face him. He rushed over to Breloom, staring at him eagerly. "Now that you evolved, you can have a nickname. What do you think of Scrapper?" He'd spent hours deliberating on one, but until now, he hadn't thought of one that felt right. But thanks to Kitto, he'd been given the perfect idea.

Breloom's eyes lit up and he gave a happy cry, nodding his head fiercely.

"From now on, your name is Scrapper," Koa declared. He held out his fist, and Breloom- no, Scrapper - gave him a fist bump.

"So, are we ready to go?" Koa asked eagerly, turning to Kitto.

Kitto simply nodded in reply.

"Great!" Koa said. "I know a shortcut around the marsh." He set of towards the trees, excitement buzzing through him.

Not only had Scrapper found a rival in the Kitto's Hitmonchan, but a valuable teacher as well. The prospect of the training that lay in wait for them had him ready to burst. The stronger he got, the faster he could earn his badges. And once he had all eight badges... A shiver traveled down his spine and he reflexively glanced towards the distant shadow of Mt. Coronet. "Soon..." he whispered.

Echo (Male Golbat) {Ability: Inner Focus} - Confuse Ray, Poison Fang, Crunch, Wing Attack

Hazard (Male Joltik){Ability: Compound eyes} - Bug Bite, Electroweb, String Shot, Absorb

Rascal (Female Tyrunt) {Ability: Strong Jaw} - Dragon Tail, Ancient Power, Stomp, Bite

Anubis (Male Houndour) {Ability: Flash Fire} - Ember, Bite, Thunder Fang, Howl

Scrapper (Male Breloom) {Ability: Effect Spore} - Seed Bomb, Mach Punch, Stun Spore, Giga Drain

Egg (Unknown)

AN:

First thing first. The name Kitto is pronounced [Kee-toe].

I hope everyone enjoyed that chapter and the gym battle! This one was definitely a mite easier for Koa, since he had the type advantage, but he still had to be clever. I like to think of Wake as the kind of guy who isn't as hard as some of the other gym leaders (with his gym team at least), but is looking to see if challengers can give him a fun battle.

Something Kitto says in his rant is a subtle reference to something from the diamond and pearl pokemon anime, I'm curious if any caught it.

Once again, thank you, everyone, for the kind reviews! I read each and everyone one of them, and I am delighted everyone is enjoying the story. I'm especially glad to hear that people enjoy the pokemon for Koa's team and his character! I really wanted to take a different turn than the usual 'wants to beat the league and become strong'.

To the review who asked about Koa subbing pokemon -

Yes, I do plan to have Koa catch more than 6 pokemon, I have some fun additions planned for him. He will be rotating team members (you'll see a tease for this further down the line).

Well that covers the important stuff, I think. It may be just a few days longer between chapters, since I'm busy with Real Life stuff, and I want ample time to write and polish chapters. Maybe about ten days? It depends. But fear not, I will continue to update consistently.

1. The Plan 7766 0 0 2. The Unplanned 5148 0 0 3. Rocky Road to Success 7322 0 0 4. Every Roserade has its Thorns 5998 0 0 5. Rematch and Revival 5995 0 0 6. Unstoppable, Immovable 7204 0 0 7. Looking Onward and Inward 7028 0 0 8. Where the Hearthome Lies 6360 0 0 9. The Hound of the Hour 8685 0 0 10. From Marsh to Shining Marsh 7979 0 0 11. Mach Power 8486 0 0 12. You've Got to be 'Kitto'ing Me! 6841 0 0 13. Getting Ghosted 7569 0 0 14. Cal-Amity Square 5932 0 0 15. Don't Gabite Off More than You Can Chew 7183 0 0 16. Enter the Unown 8641 0 0 17. A Strategy for Success 7673 0 0 18. Getting Your Psyduck in a Row 6302 0 0 19. Breaking the Ice Fang 7787 0 0 20. An Electrifying Encounter 8282 0 0 21. KOa'd 8668 0 0 22. Blackout 11062 0 0 23. Heart's Fire 9950 0 0