A mudkip. My parents got me a mudkip.

No, you guys do not understand the significance of owning a mudkip in Hoenn. It's not so simple as getting it as a starting pokemon from your regional pokemon professor.

In the pokemon world, there will be three different species of pokemon in every region (not too sure about Orre, there is too little information of Orre available to the public) who will be collectively known as the "Regional Starters". These species of pokemon and their respective evolutionary line will have the overgrow, torrent, or blaze ability. Their typing will always be either Grass, Water or Fire typing and they will experience 2 more stages of evolution before reaching their final evolutionary form.

In the Hoenn region, Treecko, Mudkip, and Torchic are our regional starters.

So now you are probably thinking, 'What's so special about them? You can just get them from your regional pokemon professor right?'

To answer your question, Yes and No. Yes, because you can get them from your regional pokemon professor. No, because not just anyone can get their hands on them as a starter. Regional starters are rare, with most of them on the "endangered species list". Furthermore, many of the regional starters are only a step down from the pseudo-legendary pokemons in terms of raw power. In the training community, the power ranking of pokemon, in a very crude manner, is legendary pokemon, pseudo-legendary, regional starters, followed by other pokemons. The Kanto regional starters, for example, is an absolute nightmare to go against as an opponent. The rarity and strength of regional starters make them perfect gifts to be given out in pokemon tournaments and competitions. The Indigo Plateau Conference gives out regional starters as prizes to the top 3 competitors in addition to prize money every single year.

In Hoenn, the estimated number of swarmperts that is raised in human captivity, including those raised by trainers and breeders, is only about 200. The same goes for the blaziken population, although the number of sceptiles is slightly higher at about 300 raised in human captivity. Experts have explained that this is because sceptiles thrive in the tropical climate and lush vegetation of the Hoenn region. The number of the wild population of these regional starters is even lower, and they often live far away from human settlements. Most civilians and trainers will not even have the chance to see a wild regional starter in their entire lives. That is how rare they are. Hence, any regional starter in the possession of humans is often zealously guarded.

I know for a fact that my family's farm have 8 swarmperts, 6 sceptiles and 4 blazikens and my parents haven't even let me have a look at them once.

Given how rare regional starters are, these pokemons are usually only found in pokemon breeding farms under heavy protection. My family's pokemon farm for example, actually hire experienced trainers to patrol its perimeters round the clock. In addition, my parents (My Dad, mostly) have trained a large pack of canine pokemons that include mightyenas, houndooms, and arcanines that serve as literal guards to the farm, under the command of Fang. My Dad's tropius commands the flock of swellows and a few skarmorys for aerial defence and my Mum's gardevoir, Holly, is the leader of a group of psychic pokemon (which I never caught a glimpse once) that monitor the farm and alerts my parents of any trespassers. These pokemons were trained under my Dad's guidance and it would take an army to successfully breach the defenses of my family's farm. If all else fails, the Petalburg gym is actually duty bound to help defend our breeding farm from any attacks, a perk that is given to our family's farm for all the contributions our family has given to the Hoenn League for generations.

There were 5 break-in attempts in the 11 years of my life here and every single thief were lucky to be left alive when my parents' pokemon were done with them. The Petalburg gym didn't even have to get involved.

My family's farm is one of the few league-approved regional starters breeding farm in the world, and the only farm in Hoenn with the capability to supply its regional starters. Every year, our farm will supply our regional pokemon professor, Professor Birch with 6 regional starters, 2 of each type. Any other extra regional starters we have on hand would usually be sold to the league, assuming that we would like to part with it. There are strict regulations we have to adhere to regarding the starters that we provide to Professor Birch. One of these regulations states that starters cannot know any egg moves that are deemed as "advanced". The treeckos we supplied to Professor Birch, for example, is not allowed to know the move Dragon Breath, as Dragon Breath is considered an advanced egg move. It would be too dangerous to allow a novice trainer on the first day of their pokemon journey to handle a treecko that knows Dragon Breath.

The number of new trainers every year ranges from 100 to 200 people per year. Most of them would want to try their luck to obtain one of the six regional starters. To do so in Hoenn, one has to apply and sit for numerous aptitude and knowledge tests. The top six applicants with the best results will have the chance to visit Professor Birch in Littleroot Town and receive a regional starter. The Hoenn League will also sponsor these trainers to go on their pokemon journey. These pokemon trainers are often referred to as "sponsored trainers" or "sponsored" in short. The sponsored trainers do have a contract to fulfill upon agreeing to receive a regional starter and receive the aid provided by the Hoenn League. Firstly, they have to complete the Hoenn gym circuit and compete in the Ever Grande Conference within 2 years. The Ever Grande Conference is held once every year at the Ever Grande city and is the largest pokemon battling tournament in Hoenn. Only trainers with all 8 Hoenn gym badges are allowed to compete in the Ever Grande Conference. It starts from the 1st of August and ends on the 31st of August, which coincides with my birthday. The entire tournament is broadcast live on TV and people from all around the world would buy tickets to watch the tournament. I have only been to Ever Grande once, when I went there with my parents to spectate the 520th Ever Grande Conference when Vance was competing. The top 3 competitors will receive another rare pokemon in addition to prize money and the newest state-of-the-art trainer equipment. Sadly, the Hoenn regional starters have a very low birth rate even by regional starter standards, and the Hoenn League does not always have regional starters to give out every year. Vance did receive another pokemon when he ended up in the 3rd place in the 520th Ever Grande Conference. He got himself an elekid with an advanced egg move, Dynamic Punch, together with an electirizer. Electirizer is an extremely rare tool to help the elekid species reach the final form of their evolutionary line, electivire.

When the Ever Grande Conference was first started, Hoenn was still recovering from the effects of war. Tensions between cities were still high and there is a possible outbreak of another war. Hence, Champion Shozo introduced the Ever Grande Conference as a substitute for war so that trainers can compete against each other in a safe and controlled environment, and to reduce the tension between the different cities. Funnily enough, the conference first started off as a battle royale and trainers from the same city often grouped up with each other against trainers from other cities. The fight will continue until there is only a single trainer left. There were also no requirements to enter as long as you have a minimum of 6 pokemon on your team. Over the years, the conference evolved into the tournament style that we are now familiar with. When the human and trainer population started to rebound from the effects of war, there are too many trainers that wanted to compete in the regional tournament hosted in their own respective regions. In response, the PWL created the gym circuit system. Every region would have 8 pokemon gyms with a gym leader for each gym. The position of gym leader can be co-shared among 2 or 3 people. Trainers will have to first get all 8 badges from their regional gyms, a symbol of victory or recognition from the gym leaders, before they earn the right to compete in their regional tournament. Gym leaders, together with their regional Pokemon Champion and Elite Four, collectively form a group known as the "Thirteen Pillars" of their own region. Each of the pillars are a symbol of their region's military strength, and they have a large influence in their decisions that involve both trainers and pokemon. The power of the Champion and Elite Four is nothing to scoff at. A single pokemon of their main team has the power of equivalent to a small squad of Elite trainers. The only exception to the gym circuit system is the Alola region, who insist on having their own system in allowing their trainers to earn their right to compete in their regional league due to their tradition. This exception has also been recognised by the PWL.

The winner of the annual Pokemon Regional Tournament in each region has the right to choose to take on their region's Elite Four and Regional Pokemon Champion. They also have the option to refuse, and it is an option that many trainers opted for. If they opt to challenge the Elite Four and their Regional Pokemon Champion, they can face them in battle. Unlike the pokemon games in my previous life, the challenger does not need to face them all in a single sitting and can take breaks that last anywhere from a few days to a maximum of 3 months in between the challenges. The only known Hoenn challenger to successfully face off the entire Elite Four and Wallace in recent years is Steven Stone, the Champion of the 525th Ever Grande Conference and the heir to Devon Corporations, the largest business corporation in Hoenn. In fact, he completed the challenge merely a year ago. Steven is a legend among young aspiring trainers as he started out his pokemon journey at 13 years old, a full 2 years later than the norm. What makes him legendary is that he completed his gym circuit and competed in the Ever Grande Conference in a single year, where most trainers would take at least 2 years to compete. He became the Champion of the 525th conference, opted to challenge the Elite Four and Wallace, and defeated all 5 of them in battle before the start of the 526th conference. He is confirmed to assume Wallace's mantle as the next Hoenn Champion after he completed his obligatory employment in the league for 5 years. It is sufficient time for him to grow into the shoes that he will eventually have to fill, and also for the league officials to observe him to ensure that he has the necessary qualities to be Champion outside of battle, and to confirm that he has unwavering loyalty to Hoenn (can't have your Champion going rogue or be the next Giovanni). Among the general trainer populace, he is frequently ranked as one of the top contenders for "Which trainer do you want to be your boyfriend" list in teenage girls magazines. The reasons cited for his high ranking in such lists boiled down to 3 main reasons. Namely, he is hot, he is rich, and he is strong.

Each of the gym leaders is also a Specialist in a certain pokemon typing. In fact, most Elite trainers in the training community ended up being a Specialist. This is because training pokemon of a specific typing is a lot easier. And even then it takes a lot of time and effort to reach the level of a Pokemon Master. The title of Pokemon Master is not given easily, and only the PWL has the authority to give out such a title. Applicants for the title have to go through a trial of tests and battles in which the details are not disclosed to the public, only that the trial is notoriously hard to complete. The Hoenn League currently has only 2 Pokemon Masters. The previous Hoenn Champion Drake is given the title of a Dragon Master, while the current Hoenn Champion Wallace is known as Hoenn's Water Master. There are rumours that Steven Stone is planning to apply for the title of Pokemon Master and he would be a Steel Master if he is successful.

Unlike the pokemon games that pokemon fans from my previous world are familiar with, gym leaders are not easy to defeat. In fact, most trainers are not expected to defeat the gym leaders. As I mentioned earlier, there are 2 different ways to earn a badge. The first way would be to beat them in a pokemon battle. Not impossible, but extremely hard. The second way, and the most common way in which most trainers earn their badges, is to impress the gym leaders with their performance during their gym battle. To successfully earn a badge, trainers have to fight their way through the gym trainers, who are hand-picked by the gym leaders themselves from a list of applicants. After defeating all the gym trainers, the trainer would then have the right to face the gym leader and aim to defeat or impress the gym leader in order to earn their badge. The entire process have to be done in a single sitting without rest. Usually, gym leaders would not use members of their main team and would often use weaker pokemons that they have on hand. The only time gym leaders will use members from their main team would be in times of crisis (ie taking out a local crime syndicate or aiding in the aftermaths of a natural disaster), or when a trainer is completing the gym circuit on the Elite trainer difficulty, or you have impressed the gym leader so much that they deemed you to be worthy to go against one. The current Sootopolis gym leader, Juan, is known to test worthy challengers with his kingdra, who is a member of his main team. There is also a certain order in which trainers have to follow to complete the gym circuit. In Hoenn, trainers aiming to compete in the Ever Grande Conference have to earn their first badge in Rustboro, followed by Dewford, and it basically follows the same order as the Pokemon Emerald game in my previous life until it ends at the Sootopolis gym.

Pokemon trainers that do not take the Specialist route will end up taking the route of a Generalist. As the name suggests, Generalists have no preference when it comes to the pokemon typing of their team. It is a much harder route to go for, as understanding and training pokemon of different types takes up a lot of time. The rewards, however, is also much greater. Unlike Specialists, there is no specific weakness that a pokemon team belonging to a Generalist is weak to. They can also cover a wider range of opponents and adapt better to harsh battling conditions. Hence, Generalists among the Elite trainers tend to be the cream of the crop among their peers, and are coveted by their regional Pokemon League and are usually given better employment benefits for their services to the league. Currently, Cynthia Shirona, the newly appointed Champion of the Sinnoh League, is the only known Generalist who is given the title of a Pokemon Master by the PWL. She is currently Vance's goal, whose dream is to one day earn the title of Pokemon Master by being a Generalist similar to Cynthia.

Other than competing in the regional league within 2 years, there is another important condition for the sponsored trainers to fulfill. Sponsored trainers often have to serve their regional Pokemon League after taking part in their regional Pokemon League Tournament. The contracted employment period in Hoenn for these sponsored trainers is 5 years, although most of the sponsored trainers often remain in the employment of the league due to the lucrative employment benefits that they enjoy. Vance himself is a sponsored trainer. Unlike me, he did not receive a regional starter from my parents. He had always wanted a treecko after seeing one on TV when he was 9 years old. However, our parents think that he is not yet mature enough to handle a regional starter, and they really do not have any extra regional starters to give out in the year when Vance first started out his journey. So, Vance being Vance, decided to do the most mature decision in his life thus far and applied to be a sponsored trainer.

My parents and I were extremely shocked when we found out that he actually managed to successfully apply to be a sponsored trainer. Vance was extremely annoyed with our lack of confidence in him and would not talk to us for an entire day.

In the end, he got the treecko he always wanted and he proved to be a valuable member of Vance's team. During Vance's participation in the Ever Grande Conference, he was one of Vance's main battlers and helped sliced through Vance's opponents to earn their place as one of the top competitors of the tournament.

I might have digressed a little in my explanation of the significance of owning a mudkip. But at least you now have a better understanding of the Pokemon League and the Gym system now.

So, after shedding a few tears of joy from the excitement of receiving my parents' gift, I picked up my backpack, dressed up in my trainer attire that I recently bought, and strapped on the xtransceiver that Vance gave me, I said my goodbyes to my parents and their pokemon and stepped out of my house.

It's time to start my own adventure.

Mudkip is surprisingly picky about his own name. An hour after leaving home and halfway into Petalburg Woods, mudkip is still undecided on what he wants me to call him.

"Well, you have just refused the name of Neptune, Ocean, Willy, Brutus, and Tarus." I'm basically pulling names out of nowhere at this point, holding mudkip in my arms close to my chest while riding on Flamel's back. "I'm running out of ideas mudkip." I cannot help but sigh while mudkip just looked up at me and give me a silly grin. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew that mudkip wanted a nickname to call his own, I would have given up at this point.

Flamel, being the lovable jerk that he is, gave a snort while still carrying me on his back. He's basically laughing at my predicament. Jerk.

"Well, you will grow up to big and blue in the future," I mused aloud, "It would be best if your name can represent the idea of big or blue, or hopefully both. How about the name Bigblue?" I really wasn't thinking straight at this point, besides, there's no way mudkip would want such a simple and stupid sounding name like Bigblue.

To prove me wrong, mudkip chose this exact moment to voice his approval by crowing out loud and wiggle excitedly in my arms.

God damn it, Vance would laugh at me so hard when I call him on my xtransceiver later tonight.

I spent 2 days navigating through Petalburg Woods. During this period, I had my first wild pokemon encounter (a vicious but weak wurmple), had my first trainer battle and won (Flamel had too much of a type advantage against most of the trainers here who mostly started out with wurmples), trained both Flamel and Bigblue, and befriended some of the wild pokemon here. My first evening as a trainer was spent in Petalburg Woods with a very curious dustox watching us a fair distance away from us as I prepared the meals for me and my pokemon.

Technology in the pokemon world is a weird thing. There is the invention of the pokeball, which has the capability to store pokemon many times larger than its own size and place them in stasis for long periods of time. It is useful to use them to hold your injured pokemon in stasis in a portable manner, and gives you enough time to find your way to the nearest pokemon center to get them treated, successfully lowering the mortality rate of pokemon that got critically injured in trainer battles. Variations of the same technology is used in trainers' equipment. My backpack, for example, has the storage capacity to fit a tent, a sleeping bag, money, a month's worth of food for me and my pokemon, cooking utensils, medicine, potions, berries, a super rod, and numerous other pokeballs. That is not even the full list of items I had on hand, and when everything is fitted into my backpack, it does not even weigh more than 2kg.

Apparently, that wild dustox was very interested in how I managed to seemingly pull items out of a small little bag. It is still a little wary though, and it was only promises of a sampling of pokemon food that he finally gave in to his curiosity to approach us. Soon, the four of us finished dinner and I called my family on my xtransceiver, my parents first, followed by Vance (who laughed mercilessly at me naming mudkip Bigblue). And as I lay down in my sleeping bag, I somehow ended up telling bedtime stories from my previous world to Dustox, which attracted more cascoons, wurmples and two more dustoxs, which attracted even more of them to flock to my campsite and I ended up telling Disney stories to a colony of bug pokemon.

Apparently these nocturnal pokemon loved Beauty and the Beast if their reaction was any indication. Who knew?

By the time I walked out of Petalburg Woods and found my way to Rustboro city, I was filled with grime, sweat and soil and I am more than ready to take a nice hot bath at the Rustboro pokemon center. It is one of the perks of being a league-registered trainer. Everyone who aspires to have a career as a pokemon trainer and compete in their regional league tournament have to register at the pokemon center with their birth certificate to become a league-registered trainer. They also have to declare if they have a starter pokemon. Those without a starter pokemon can register for one and collect them from the nearest gym, or choose to buy one from a breeding farm. League-registered trainers are also given a Pokedex, which serves as a form of identification for trainers and comes with many nifty functions, together with a start up capital of 2,000 pokedollars to buy pokeballs, potions and other neccessities. However, almost half of the original trainers that registered with the league dropped out of the gym circuit within a year after registration due to its difficulty. These trainers often found employment in pokemon related establishments and businesses.

Being a league-registered trainer comes with several perks. For one, trainers can book a room at the pokemon centers for free for a maximum of 7 days, extending the duration of the stay requires payment for the room at a discounted price. This arrangement applies to pokemon centers around the world, regardless of the region they are in as long as it is part of the PWL. Pokemon of league-registered trainers are given free medical care in pokemon centers and the trainers are able to use various services in the pokemon centers either for free or at a discounted rate.

For me, free medical care for my pokemon aside, the best perk would be the hot baths.

Two hours later, after booking a room, washing up and collecting my pokemon back from the nurse in the pokemon center (apparently not all nurses are Nurse Joys), I decided to spend the rest of my day exploring Rustboro before taking on the gym the next day. Unlike Vance, my dream is not to prove myself to be the biggest, baddest and strongest trainer in the world. Ever since I found out that I got myself into the world of Pokemon, my dream is to travel the world, a dream that my family is very well aware of. This world is an entirely new world for me, there are places to see, people to know, and there are magnificent creatures known as pokemon. I do not plan to stop my travels at Hoenn once I am done with it. After exploring Hoenn, I would travel to another region and challenge the gym circuit there at the Elite trainer difficulty, and I would probably continue this process until I finish my tour across all 7 regions that made up the PWL. The only reason why I decided to take on the gym circuit at all is solely due to the fact that travelling in the pokemon world can be dangerous. Feral wild pokemon aside, the presence of criminal organisations is still prevalent in every region, and the most notable ones in Hoenn are Team Magma and Team Aqua. In the Hoenn region, although these two criminal organisations have been pretty quiet in their activities in the last decade, they still remain as a big problem to the Hoenn League. Hence, to fulfill my dream to travel the world, I have to first make sure that I have the capabilities to at least defend myself.

Completing the gym circuit happens to be the best way for me to gain strength while satisfying my wanderlust.

My wanderlust and desire to travel the world is probably why Dad decided to give Flamel, a ponyta, as my starter as a show of unspoken support for my dream. It is really thoughtful of him, really. In this life, I had a weak body that is unable to handle strenuous activities for more than 30 minutes. It would be impossible for someone with a weak body like me to travel the world without having my body breaking down from all the stress that resulted from travelling. With Flamel, however, he can carry me on his back during my travels, and thus limiting the amount of stress I put on my body.

Putting my wanderlust aside, I still want to do well in my gym circuit, especially after seeing Vance competing in the conference. This means that I have to set some time aside from my travels to train my pokemon and plan for gym battles, something that I have to really put an effort into if I wanted to do well. Dad and Vance had both taken the time to teach me how to conduct pokemon training, and the results showed for themselves from the numerous wins I had accumulated against the trainers I met in Petalburg Woods. I probably could impress Roxanne and win myself a Stone Badge with Bigblue and Flamel tomorrow, although I am still unsure if we can defeat Roxanne. Bigblue would be my main battler and he has two egg moves (thank you Dad and Mum, for giving Bigblue to me), with one of them being an advanced egg move that could probably snag a win for me if I played my cards right.

Or at least that's what I hoped.

Roxanne Hardrock is the youngest of a long line of scholars and researchers in the Hardrock clan that made their home in Rustboro city. Their family have been at the forefront of pokemon research for 5 generations and would probably continue to do so for many generations to come. Despite being scholars and researchers of pokemon, the fact that their clan's motto is "Acquisition Of Knowledge Before All" means that none of the 36 members of their clan has ever took part in a single pokemon battle, judging pokemon battles to be useless in their undying quest for knowledge.

Thus, it came as a shock to her clan when Roxanne decided to register herself as a pokemon trainer the moment she reaches 11 years of age.

Roxanne have the same love and thirst for knowledge as any other member of her clan. That thirst can only be matched with a drive that she has within her to push herself to be the strongest trainer in all the battles she partook in. A drive that is lacking in the other members of her clan. Not a single member of her clan approved of her decision to be a pokemon trainer. Not her uncles, not her aunts, not her grandparents, and certainly not her parents. They did not voice it out loud, but the subtle disapproving glances they shot her way when they thought she was not looking spoke volumes of their disapproval.

So when the registration paperwork with the league was done, Roxanne walked out of her clan's compound in the wee hours of the morning the next day without saying goodbye to a single soul. She left with nothing but her trainer equipment, a backpack full of travelling essentials, the clothes on her back, and Stonebeak, her nosepass and starter.

During the course of her gym circuit, she discovered a fondness for rock type pokemon. She felt that the qualities embodied by rock type pokemon is an avid representation of what she wished to be. She loves how they stood unwavering in the face of adversity, and marvels at how they throw themselves head on at foes many times stronger than them and survive. She found herself admiring them so much that she hoped that she can one day possess the same qualities found in her rock type pokemon. Her rock companions taught her more than just knowledge, knowledge that cannot be found in books. They taught her that there is more to life than trying to seek approval from her clan. So when the crucial point in her trainer career came where she had to decide to be a Specialist or a Generalist, she didn't hesitate. From that day onwards, her dream is to be a Rock Master, with Stonebeak at her side.

Her pokemon journey was not easy, but it certainly was not as hard as she imagined it to be. Not for someone like her, who spent a majority of her life trying to gain new knowledge of the wondrous creatures known as pokemon. Whatever tactics and pokemon that her opponents threw at her, she fell back on her vast knowledge of pokemon and countered it with a methodological approach with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel. How can no one in her clan see that knowledge without application is knowledge wasted? Acquisition of new knowledge means nothing if you do not know how to apply it. For this very purpose, for the sake of her ideals, she trained both her pokemon and herself relentlessly, both in mind and body. She looked forward to the day when she finally returned back to Rustboro, back to her clan. She looked forward to the day when she can walk with her head held high and show her clan members that they judged her wrongly.

She succeeded.

She did not win the Ever Grande Conference that she took part in, much to her dismay, but she did end up taking 2nd place, and made the Champion of that year work damn hard to earn his position at the top. From that moment, the family name of Hardrock is no longer synonymous with just research. Trainers look upon the Hardrock clan, looked upon her as a symbol and successful example of combining both knowledge and application.

After seeing her stellar performance in the conference, her clan had came to accept, albeit begrudgingly, that she was right. Not like she cared much for their opinions. She had reconciled with her family, and they are still family to her. She would care for them as a member of the family, but she would not allow anyone to disrespect her dream and she would respect theirs. Besides, they are not the only family she has. She had accumulated a family of her own during her journey, and each and every one of them are willing to stand alongside her to achieve her dream. Stonebeak, now a probopass, has been her bedrock of the ideals that she stood by, and she would stand by him just as what he did for her.

Things slowed down for a short period after her participation in the conference. Many opportunities were open to her after people took notice of her performance at the conference. Like the other trainers that performed well, she had the opportunity to apply for any position within the 3 main league forces, or take up job offers offered to her by other pokemon establishments and businesses. She decided to pursue a career with the league, but ruled out joining ACE. In her opinion, ACE members lived a hectic lifestyle that is not conducive to her learning. That led her to consider her remaining options. She could join the Ranger force, whose job is to help defend nature, preventing illegal poaching of pokemon and preserving the delicate balance between humans and pokemon, acting as a sort of cross between a police officer or park ranger. Or she can join the Local Security Defense Force, also known as the LSDF, whose job is to protect the town that they are assigned to and act as police officers. They are the first line of defense for the town in the event of an emergency.

After much consideration, she decided to join the Ranger force, but put in a special request to work under Aaron Cliff, a noteworthy Rock Specialist and the leader of Hoenn's 3rd Ranger Squad. Her time in the 3rd Ranger Squad was split between completing her Ranger duties and learning under Aaron's tutelage. Majority of the required knowledge that she needs to know as a aspiring Rock Specialist was passed on to her during her time in the Ranger force. She would forever be grateful to Aaron, who is a dutiful teacher, and an even better friend. When she completed the final test that Aaron had set for her with flying colours, he advised her that it is time for her to leave the Ranger force to see the world, for he had nothing left to teach her. She took his advice and left the force after 2 years of service.

Roxanne decided to travel to Pewter city, located in the Kanto region, which is home to numerous Rock Specialists and had produced several Rock Masters since PWL was founded. She found a kindred spirit in Brock Takeshi, the newly appointed gym leader of Pewter City, and she spent her time there exchanging pointers with the surprisingly shy gym leader.

Roxanne returned to Rustboro after spending 6 months in Pewter, meeting every Rock Specialist she could find. She is still undecided on what she wanted to pursue as a permanent career. She could always go back to the Ranger force, but she had nothing left to learn there and would probably get bored soon after. The Ground Specialist and elderly gym leader of Rustboro, Noel Clayman, welcomed her to be a gym trainer at his gym with the offer that she could leave anytime she wanted when she decided on what she wanted to pursue as a career.

What she assumed was a mundane job turned out to be the final factor in helping her to decide what she wanted to do as her career.

During her stint as a gym trainer, Roxanne met many novice trainers who just started on their pokemon journey. She was horrified by the utter lack of knowledge of pokemon from these novice trainers. To a Hardrock, such a thing is unacceptable. An ignorant trainer is not only a danger to themselves, but a hazard to their pokemon and a liability to the public. She had witnessed 6 incidents where pokemon were nearly sent to their deaths due to the ignorance of their trainers in the span of a month. The trainers did not wished for this to happen either. Many of them were traumatised when they saw their pokemon friends bleeding out on the ground and she often found herself yelling at them to quickly recall their pokemon back to their pokeballs and send them to the pokemon center for treatment. She realised that if Hoenn wants their trainer community to progress, something needs to be done to educate novice trainers on how to handle their pokemon.

And so, the Rock Specialist who just turned 17 did the most ambitious project she had ever embarked on: setting up a Pokemon Trainers' School.

It was an uphill battle. She had to secure a plot of land to build the school in land-scarce Rustboro, she had to somehow acquire fundings to build her new school, she had to find qualified teaching staffs who were willing to support her dreams and help to run the school and teach in her absence, she had to draft up a curriculum and the teaching syllabus, she had to repeatedly convince the local authorities and the league officials to support her idea of a trainer school. There is just so many things to do.

Roxanne would be lying if she said she wasn't terrified. She was only a 17 year old girl who knew nothing outside of studying and pokemon battles. There were times where she would break down in the privacy of her bedroom and cry from all the stress that she is facing. Stonebeak stayed by her side and kept a silent vigil during these times. She was on the verge of giving up after experiencing failures after failures for 6 consecutive months.

The very first good news arrived from an unexpected source. News of her efforts have caught the attention of Joseph Stone, the President of Devon Corporation and well-known philanthropist to the cause of pokemon trainers. He sent his son, Steven Stone, to the Hardrock clan compound in person to inform her that Devon Corporation would like to support her in building a Pokemon Trainer's School. Devon Corporation donated a large building situated in the middle of Rustboro to be converted into a teaching facility. From then on, good news came one after another. The Hoenn League had stated an interest in her project after looking through the teaching curriculum and syllabus she had drafted, and planned to help fund her project and send qualified educators to help her. They also stated that if the project proved to be successful in Rustboro, they would consider building a Pokemon Trainer's School in every major city in Hoenn and made it mandatory for aspiring trainers to complete tests to certify that they are ready and responsible enough to be a pokemon trainer. Aaron and Noel managed to find several retired trainers, all of them were Specialists and an expert in their respective fields. They are willing to teach the next generation of pokemon trainers and to help prepare them to take their first steps into the world of pokemon. Her clan is surprisingly supportive, donating books and gave constructive suggestions to Roxanne on not only what subjects to teach, but also on how to teach it.

The Rustboro Pokemon Trainer's School turned out to be a huge success. By the time the first batch of students graduated from the school and became registered trainers, there is already a decrease in a number of injured pokemon sent to Rustboro pokemon center due to trainer's negligence. Their graduated students have a significantly higher success rate in earning their first gym badge. Two years later, the Hoenn League had went through with their promise and set up Pokemon Trainer's Schools in every major city in Hoenn.

Hoenn became the first and only region in the world with an education system for its trainers, and Roxanne was the one who spearheaded the change.

Being a certified genius herself, she personally understands that every child is different and they learn at different speeds. She does not want to bore an intelligent child with knowledge that they are already familiar with. It inspired her to implement an exemption system, which is a way for children to skip through the whole compulsory education system and still be a registered trainer. If the child is able to sit through the same exam that she gives to the graduating students of her school and pass, they can be exempted from the Trainer's School. Only a small handful managed it every year.

The setting up of a Pokemon Trainer's School did delay her progress in striving to be a Rock Master. But she still dedicate time to train her pokemon every day no matter how busy she is. She is now a celebrity in Rustboro, and is one of the most influential trainers in Hoenn. Citizens would wave and greet her whenever she walk through the streets of Rustboro. Children would run up to her and proclaim that she is what they would strive to be in the future. She is loved by the people. She also holds the title of the strongest trainer in the city after defeating Noel's main team in an official trainer match. It was a match that Noel had requested after the successful implementation of the Pokemon Trainer's School across the region, and Roxanne would never refuse a request from Noel if it is within her capabilities to do so. When Noel tender in his retirement half a year later to the Hoenn League due to old age, he sent in his recommendation together with Aaron to the league for Roxanne to take his place.

Citizens of Rustboro welcomed the change with open arms. They were sad at the departure of Noel, who had been their leader and protector for more than 40 years. But they were also excited at the prospect of a new gym leader, who proved herself to be even stronger than Noel. Roxanne is known to be someone who is not afraid to bring about change if it is the right thing to do. It does not matter that she is one of the youngest gym leader ever appointed in Hoenn's history. She had did so much for Rustboro, it is time for Rustboro to do something for her as well.

Roxanne succeeded Noel as Rustboro gym leader when she was 20 years old.

Roxanne's duties as a gym leader and the founder of the Pokemon Trainer School made her a very busy woman with very little personal time for herself. But she managed it just fine and even managed to enter into a romantic relationship away from the prying eyes of the public. Her boyfriend's job is equally time-consuming and he spends most of his time at Dewford due to the nature of his job. In their case, distance does makes the heart grow fonder and she is confident that between the two of them, they can make things work.

The first thing she did as the new gym leader of Rustboro is to remodel the gym to her liking, since her predecessor is a Ground Specialist and she is a Rock Specialist, whatever had worked for him may not necessary work for her. Some of the gym trainers left the gym together with Noel and she had to personally pick new gym trainers to fill in the vacancies. She also changed the design of the Rustboro gym badge and renamed it the Stone Badge, as a reminder to herself that she is what she is today because she had help from her rock companions at every step of the way.

Another year passed and Roxanne's life fell in place into a predictable rhythm. Currently, she is in her own personal waiting room watching the replay of the final match of the 526th Ever Grande Conference (which just ended about a week ago) while sipping on a cup of coffee, waiting for a worthy challenger to face her. At the same time, another digital screen is showing her gym trainers busy demolishing -correction- tutoring the challengers that challenged the gym. She waited for a few hours, until the clock strikes two in the afternoon. A certain blonde-haired female challenger caught her eye after she defeated the second gym trainer she faced. There was something peculiar in the way she was handling the challenges. When she remodeled her gym, she made it into a maze where challengers have to navigate to get to the gym leader. Gym trainers are situated at different parts of the maze and challengers would have to battle them every time they run into a gym trainer. There is only one possible route to complete the entire maze without running into any gym trainers. There are clues written on the stone walls that made up the maze. These clues are in the form of questions that test the knowledge of the challengers regarding pokemon, and are at the standard of an intermediate level trainer, someone who has earned about 4 or 5 badges. What this particular child seems to be doing, is to go in the exact opposite direction that she is supposed to go if she answered the question correctly. Roxanne could accept the child's encounters with the first two gym trainers as mere coincidence. But when she proceeded to defeat the third and fourth gym trainer in quick succession she would be a fool to brush it off as coincidence. This child is finding and challenging all the gym trainers on purpose. To add insult to injury for her gym trainers, the blond child is decimating their rock type pokemon with only a single pokemon. A ponyta to boot. Such a feat has not yet been seen in her short tenure as a gym leader. Furthermore, ponyta is a fire type with a distinct disadvantage to rock type pokemon. For most pokemon trainers, they would at least use four pokemon in their first gym battle. It is simply easier to earn their first gym badge by having more pokemon on their team.

Roxanne also added a mental note to personally supervise the training of her gym leaders after this. They are in need of some serious help if all 5 of them ended getting bested by a single ponyta.

Roxanne cannot help but let a grin creep up onto the side of her face. She had not been faced in a challenge for the past 3 days and she is bored out of her mind. She can tell that this child -no- challenger, is smart. Five minutes into spectating her match and she is already eager to face this challenger in a battle of wits. As the new challenger faced off her fifth and last gym trainer, Roxanne calmly stood up, grabbed her pokeballs, and walked out of her room towards the arena at the end of the maze.

Roxanne's challenger would be arriving soon, and it would be rude of her to keep her challenger waiting.

The Rustboro gym challenge is hard.

I know I kind of asked for it by challenging the gym with only two pokemon, but among the wild pokemon that I encountered before arriving at Rustboro, there are none that I really felt a connection to. I have no interest in having the strongest pokemon, and challenging the gym circuit is only a means to an end for me. I have always been a bit of a romantic. Remember how in Harry Potter, where wand maker Ollivander told Harry that the wand chooses the wizard? Not the other way around? It is the best explanation I have right now on why I have only two pokemon on hand where most trainers would have at least three or four pokemon on their team. I do not want to catch wild pokemon against their will and force them to travel with me. The entire thing just feels wrong to me. I would prefer if the pokemon chose to come with me willingly. I know it is a stupid ideology to follow if I ever wanted to compete in the Ever Grande League, but it felt like the right thing to do.

Despite the challenge and type disadvantage, Flamel and I managed to defeat all 5 gym trainers. I could have taken the easy way out and simply follow the route with no opposition at all. But there's no way my team and I can grow into our full potential if we stick to that mindset. Besides, if my experience from my previous life taught me anything, it is that book smarts can only bring you so far in life. When Flamel and I wrapped up our last battle with the gym trainers, he could barely stand on his legs, and for that moment I felt that I am a horrible trainer for pushing him to the brink of exhaustion. I quickly recalled him to his pokeball, and made a mental note to treat him to his favourite food, a whole bowl of Rawst berry when we are done with the gym no matter what the outcome of our challenge is.

I know Flamel is more than capable to take on multiple rock types and win. My experience with rock type pokemons on my family's farm had made me realised that while the rock plating of these rock types gave them a natural defense against fire attacks, that does not mean they are immune to heat. If the flames are hot enough, or if the fire type pokemon blasted the rock type pokemon continuously with flames, the fire type can literally "cook" the rock type pokemon alive. There are also records where a charizard belonging to an Elite trainer in Johto produced flames so hot that it can melt rocks.

Flamel and I spent a lot of our time together on my family's farm. Part of our time spent together is watching the pokemon in our family's farm. Humans often don't give pokemon enough credit for their intelligence. With the exception of Technical Machines, or TM in short, one of the fastest way for pokemon to learn new moves is through observation. Flamel picked up more than just a few tricks by simply observing. He learnt the move Sunny Day by watching nuzleafs lounging in the sun, and Flamethrower from the houndooms when they play with their pups. It took a long time before Flamel managed to master an advanced move like Flamethrower, but it is our secret weapon to earning our first gym badge. Flamel and I "cooked" through the gym trainers' rock type pokemons with the classic Sunny Day and Flamethrower combo, a basic combo for most fire types that I trained Flamel in during our training in Petalburg Woods. With Flamel taking out all the opposition from the gym trainers, it allows a very fresh and well-rested Bigblue to battle Roxanne. It is also an open secret that Roxanne actually allows the challenger to decide the maximum number of pokemon each of them are both allowed to use when facing her in battle, which is an advantage for me.

An advantage that I am planning to make full use of.

I did not know what I was expecting when I finally met Roxanne waiting in her challenger box on the other end of the arena after exiting the maze. But I certainly did not expect the first sentence in our conversation is for her to ask me a question.

"Are the questions in the maze too easy?"

I blinked in response, unsure of how I would go about answering this question without accidentally offending her. I might have hurt her pride a little when I answered all the questions in the maze wrongly on purpose. I should really think a little more about the consequences of my actions the next time I go for my subsequent gym challenges.

"Uh... the answers are not too hard to derive if you spent time observing pokemon." I answered lamely, before quickly adding on, "Sorry if my actions offended you." I completed my response with a short bow of my head to show my apology. It is probably a smarter choice to apologise first before getting wrecked by her in battle later.

Roxanne gave a short laugh before giving a casual wave with her left hand. "Relax, I am not blaming you or anything. I am actually impressed." She paused to take a better look at me before continuing, "It takes great skill to answer everything correctly, and an even greater skill to get everything wrong on purpose. You are the first to do what you did, you know?"

"Thank you?" I replied hesitantly, unsure of how to go about with this. "I am honoured." I said with sincerity. To receive a gym leader's praise at your very first gym challenge is something to be proud of. I am so rubbing it in Vance's face at my next available chance. He got destroyed in his first gym battle against Noel Clayman, the previous Rustboro gym leader although he did get Noel's recognition and earned his first gym badge. Vance placed a 1,000 pokedollars bet with me that I would get destroyed in my very first gym battle. I plan to earn that 1,000 pokedollars from him and wave the wad of cash in his face just because I could.

"You may or may not know this, but I usually allow my challengers to choose the maximum number of pokemon that each of us are both allowed to use. How many pokemon would you like to use?"

"One. One pokemon for each side." I replied immediately. The nervousness is starting to get to me and I am starting to feel the jitters.

"Alright." She pressed a button on a remote that she fished out from her pocket, and right in front of me, a horizontal panel opened up in the challenger box where I am standing. "Place your Pokedex on the panel so that we can register this as an official gym battle. We will start our battle after that. I would also be taking a recording of our battles as per the League's regulations."

I spent my time waiting for the registration to complete by observing Roxanne. She looks and dressed exactly like how I remembered her to be from the games and anime. She is also really pretty in real life. Although for a woman in her early 20s, she is really petite. I was brought out of my thoughts when the beeping sound from the panel notified me that the registration is complete. I placed my Pokedex back in my pocket and palmed Bigblue's pokeball in my right hand.

Here comes the moment of truth.

With an unspoken signal, both Roxanne and I released the pokeballs in our hand.

She sent out a nosepass, which is within my expectations. Bigblue immediately went on the offensive to put the plan we conceived beforehand in action. He darted around the battlefield sending bursts of Water Gun, each of them hitting nosepass accurately while dodging nosepass's attacks. As a mudkip, BigBlue is small and nimble, and I plan to use that to my advantage. That advantage would disappear when he eventually evolves into a Marshtomp and eventually a Swampert where he will sacrifice speed and mobility for an even greater increase in strength and defense. For now, being small and nimble will have to do. I had put Bigblue through a series of agility exercises Dad and Fang had showed me, and had Bigblue practice his accuracy with Water Gun by doing random target practice when we were travelling through Petalburg Woods. We would walk side by side and I would randomly point at a distant object at a random time for Bigblue to shoot. Once he got good enough, I made Flamel the target. Flamel was annoyed by the arrangement, but it was good evasion practice for him and the perfect target practice for Bigblue.

Bigblue dove in and out of nosepass's reach, shooting Water Guns and Mud-Slapping the area around them. This makes the arena extremely slippery for nosepass but the perfect environment for my mud fish pokemon. Bigblue is now in his element, and we had successfully changed the terrain to our advantage. Nosepass's patience seems to have thinned, and he began to spam Rock Throws and Power Gems at Bigblue. None of them hit, of course, the chances of them connecting with Bigblue in an environment to his advantage is slim to none. The heavy rocks nosepass summoned have dug holes and trenches into the arena, loosening the ground around them in the process. My only real worry when facing nosepass is the possibility of it knowing electric type moves. A well-placed electric move can potentially knock Bigblue out, and the danger of it has been amplified when we filled the arena with moisture.

For the sake of earning my 1,000 pokedollars from Vance, we need to end this soon.

"Bigblue, NOW!"

On my signal, Bigblue unleashed a massive torrent of water. The Whirlpool that resulted from it managed to wash the bulky rock type of its feet, spiraling nosepass faster than my eyes could comprehend.

The wheels of the car go round and round.

Pushing that annoying song out of my head, I managed to observe the aftermath of the Whirlpool attack after it died down. When I first scanned Bigblue with my Pokedex, I found out that Whirlpool is one of the two egg moves Bigblue possessed, and it is extremely useful for trapping purposes, or to simply sweeping your opponents off their feet in battle. Thanks to the plentiful mud from the repeated use of Mud-Slap beforehand, and nosepass loosening the ground around the area with his rock type techniques, Bigblue had successfully turned the entire arena into a swamp. From my high vantage point up in the challenger box, nosepass is now trapped and stuck in a swamp, and unlike Bigblue, it does not have the anatomy required to move in such an environment. Right now, nosepass is a literal sitting duck and the perfect target for Bigblue.

"Water Gun barrage! Take him out!"

On command, Bigblue sent a barrage of Water Guns at nosepass, and I really hope we can end this soon. Bigblue can only produce and hold a set amount of water in his body before having to rest and replenish his water store. The Whirlpool attack that he pulled prior to this and the Water Gun barrage that he is currently doing is our last ditch attempt in putting down nosepass and is a massive drain on his water store. If Bigblue ran out of water, we are pretty much screwed.

Well, we still have one more attack up our sleeves if it comes down to it, but I rather not use it.

Roxanne begin to issue commands to nosepass, and I didn't manage to hear what she said. But when nosepass started to produce arcs of electricity and started propelling itself towards Bigblue like a missile, I only need a glance to know that nosepass is trying to bring down Bigblue with a powerful Spark.

I just have to jinx ourselves, didn't I.

"Bigblue, brace yourself! Then use that other attack!"

It is a dangerous move, especially for a pokemon as young as Bigblue. It is the second egg move that Bigblue possess, and an advanced egg move. That particular move can only be usually pulled off by evolved or adult pokemon. For a young pokemon, any lapse of judgement on the trainer's or pokemon's part can potentially cause the death of the pokemon. Both trainer and pokemon have to trust each other unconditionally.

I trust Bigblue, and I knew he trusted me. I had warned and prepared him for this possibility and we need a lot of skill and a bit little of luck on our side. The conditions for us to pull off this move are all present. We have trained for this.

We can do this.

Bigblue's scream of pain when nosepass's Spark connected with him nearly made me lose my composure. I had to squash down the urge to immediately recall Bigblue into the safe confines of his pokeball. It would be inappropriate for me to throw in the towel right now after all the efforts Flamel and Bigblue had put into this gym challenge.

Just when I thought I could not take it anymore, Bigblue pulled off an absolutely brilliant Counter and smacked nosepass between the eyes. The force of the attack sent nosepass flying through the arena. It came to a violent stop when he hit the invisible psychic barriers erected for the safety of trainers, which is between the edge of the arena and the challenger box where Roxanne is.

Nosepass didn't get back up. I couldn't view Bigblue's status from where I was due to all the residue smoke as an aftereffect of their attacks. I palmed Bigblue's pokeball in my right hand, ready to recall him at a moment's notice. Gym badge and Vance's money be damned, I am not sacrificing my pokemon, not for something as superficial as this.

A few seconds later, Bigblue trotted out of the smoke and walked in my direction, his head fin and tail waving excitedly. He gave me his trademark silly, goofy grin and begin barking in excitement.

We won.

And as I held Bigblue in my arms twirling around like a 5 year old after rushing down to pick him up in the arena, I can't help but laugh at the thought that Vance's wallet is going to be 1,000 pokedollars lighter very soon.

Character and Pokemon List:

Velda Vera, Age: 11, Female, Pokemon Trainer, reincarnated soul (to be kept a secret until the day she dies again)

Pokemon on hand:

1) Ponyta (Flamel), male

2) Mudkip (Bigblue), male

Vance Vera, Age: 18, Male, ACE trainer and second-in-command to his ACE squad, older brother to Velda Vera

Pokemon on hand:

1) Gengar (Macky), male

2) Sceptile

3) Electivire

Confirmed to have 5 other pokemons, unknown

Other notable mentions:

Roxanne Hardrock, Age: 21, Female, Rustboro City Gym Leader, Former member of the Ranger force

1) Probopass (Stonebeak), male

2) Nosepass (Used for gym challenges for novice trainers), male