The journey from Rustboro City to Dewford Island took about a day and a half while traveling with Lapras.

Since it lasted that long, Ash and the gang stopped on a small island where they spent the night, before they continued toward the next Gym.

Right now, it's already late in the afternoon, when Ash, Serena, May and Max arrived on the shore of Dewford Island, and Ash returned his Lapras so she can have a nice rest, which she has deserved.

"So, when do we go to the Gym?" Serena asked, as she walked on Ash's right side. May was on Ash's left side, and Max was next to May.

"We need to train for a little while first," Ash said. "Our Pokémon are not ready to face the leader in this town."

"You could use some of your older Pokémon," Max suggested.

Ash looked at him, and nodded. "We could, but then our new Pokémon wouldn't get as much chance to battle, and wouldn't improve."

"I see." Max saw the truth in Ash's words.

"Which type does the gym leader here uses?" May asked.

"He uses Fighting Type Pokémon," Ash replied.

"He?" Serena questioned.

"Yeah, the gym leader here is a guy named Brawly," Ash said. "I looked him up a little on the Internet, and he is supposed to be very good with Fighting Type Pokémon. Supposedly, he was Chuck's student in Cianwood City."

"Really?" Serena rose her eyebrows.

"Yeah," Ash confirmed. "And Chuck was not bad at all. He was just getting old, just like his Pokémon, that's why we didn't have so much trouble with him. Brawly on the other hand is young, and his Pokémon are in top shape, which means, ours have to be in top shape as well."

"Which Pokémon do you plan to use," Max asked? "Fighting Types are weak against Flying, Psychic and Fairy, but are strong against Bug, Rock and Dark."

"Well, I have Taillow, a Flying Type, and Ralts, a Psychic and Fairy Type, so I think I'll go with them, and maybe add one more if the battles are three-on-three," Serena said.

"The battles are two-on-two," Ash said. "As for me, I'll also go with Taillow, but the second is unknown, as I'll have to think about it."

"Ok," May said. "So, I'm guessing we are checking in the Pokémon Center, and will start the training tomorrow."

"I'm ok with that." Ash said. Serena was also ok with that, while Max's opinion wasn't really needed, as he has to be where Ash is anyway, if he wants to have his Poochyena with him.

After they checked into the Pokémon Center, where they left all of their Pokémon to be checked by Nurse Joy; Ash and the gang spent the rest of the day resting, since from tomorrow morning, they will start training their Pokémon and won't stop for a while, until they are sure that every Pokémon, Ash and Serena have caught in Hoenn so far, are ready for the battle against Brawly.


It is the morning of the next day, and Ash, Serena, May and Max are in front of the Pokémon Center, planning where to go to train.

"So, where are we going to train," Serena asked? "Beach or the forest outside of the Town?"

"I think we should go to the forest," May suggested. "Less people to disturb us, and more chances of us running into wild Pokémon to catch or just battle for training."

"I agree with May." Ash said, and so, all four went south-east of the Dewford Town, and into the forest, where they spent the rest of the day training. They even came back to the same forest for the next three days, and spent the entire day there to train.

It was a perfect place, and just as May said, there were no other humans to disturb them, and there were plenty of wild Pokémon to battle against.

Since Ash likes to train his Pokémon a lot, but doesn't necessarily like to make long stops in between the gyms, he is always trying to put his Pokémon through training from hell, so that they will become much stronger more quickly.

Serena has learned to do the same while traveling with Ash through Johto, and has now continued to do it in Hoenn.

It is because of that, that it was not surprise that after three days of hell, all of the Pokémon Ash and Serena had with them have ended up in the Pokémon center where they had to spend the entire day to recover.

Of course, the training did pay off, and wasn't just an unnecessary torture, because some of the Pokémon have evolved.

Serena's Silcoon is the first to evolve, which is not so surprising, as that line of Pokémon and those like it, are known to evolve very quickly. Silcoon has evolved into a Beautifly, near the end of the second day of training. No one was really surprised, but Serena was still happy for her Pokémon, who was now able to fly, which is something all Pokémon whose evolution forms can fly, want to achieve one day.

It was a little more surprising, when Serena's Ralts evolved into Kirlia, during the sparing match against Ash's Treecko on the third day of training. Just like with Beautifly the day before, Serena was also happy for her Kirlia, and was happy that the training she put them through has shown results, as she would have felt bad for all-but torturing her Pokémon for the last three days.

In Ash's case, none of his Pokémon actually evolved, but he didn't care about that, because even though they didn't evolve, they did become much stronger… at least physically stronger, because Ash's training focused on the speed, strength and stamina, and not on learning new moves. He decided to leave that for some other day when he is satisfied with his Pokémon's physical progress.

At first, May wanted to train with Ash and Serena, but after half an hour on the first day, she just gave up to follow them, and decided to train at her own pace. Her Pokémon were happy for that, because they almost wanted to cry when they saw what kind of training Ash and Serena put their Pokémon through, and didn't want to go through that. It didn't matter to them how much stronger they will become if they train with them. May's Pokémon knew that Ash and Serena are crazy and wanted no part in their crazy training.

Of course, even though May and her Pokémon didn't want to train WITH, Ash and Serena, that didn't mean that they will refuse to ask and to listen to any pointers Ash and Serena might have.

After three days of training at her own pace, May's Wurmple evolved into Silcoon, and she was happy with that, as it proves that even though she is not training her Pokémon like crazy, like Ash and Serena are doing, she got some results.

Max just didn't want to train with anyone from the very beginning, and has trained his Poochyena by himself. Of course, just like May, he did accept any advice Ash and Serena offered, though he never asked for any. He was just a little prideful like that.


In the morning of the fourth day since their arrival in Dewford Town, Ash and the other discussed about that day's training plans, since their Pokémon were all healed the previous night by Nurse Joy, and are ready for more training.

"Maybe we should take a little break today," Serena said, getting raised eyebrows from the other three. They were all currently in the Pokémon Center cafeteria, having breakfast. "Maybe we can just go and look around a little. There is also this place I saw about in the guide, called 'the Granite Cave', and I'm interested in seeing it."

Seeing that May and Max are agreeing with Serena, Ash said. "Ok. I guess we can pause the training for a day or two. But you do know that the Granite Cave is not on this Island, and is toward the North-West from here. I'm pretty sure we passed the Island where it is on the way here."

"Yeah, I know," Serena nodded. "But you still have your Lapras with you, so there shouldn't be a problem to go there."

"No, there is no problem," Ash shook his head. "I'm just asking to make sure. But fine, we can go there right after we finish breakfast, if all three of you want to."

The three nodded and smiled, before they continued with their breakfast for about 15 more minutes, after which they left the Pokémon Center, and went to the shore, so that Ash can release Lapras, to take them to Granite Cave.


The gang arrived on the Island where the Granite Cave is, about two hours after they left Dewford Town, and are currently walking toward the entrance of it.

"This must be it," Max said, few minutes later, while they were standing in front of an entrance of the cave. "The Granite Cave."

"It looks very big," Serena commented.

"What does the guide book say about this place?" May asked.

"Well, it doesn't say much," Serena said. "It does say that there are some Pokémon who live in the underground, as well as some rocks and stones with some value to them, but besides that, nothing much."

"Well, it is a famous spot for trainers who wish to catch some Pokémon here," Ash said. "Trainers regularly come here, so I think we could run into some."

"That could be interesting," Max said. "Maybe we can also catch some Pokémon, or find some evolutions stones if we are lucky."

"You are right, Max," May said with an excited smile on her face. "So what are we waiting for? Let's go and catch us some Pokémon!"

"Fine," Ash sighed. "We will go, but first. Do we all go together, or do you want to split up so we can cover more ground?"

"I don't know, Ash," Serena frowned. "Do you really think it's a good idea for us to split? What if we get lost? This is a cave after all, and there are bound to be many tunnels in there."

"We can split in two groups," Ash said. "Two in one group, and two in another. That way it will be safer than if we all go by ourselves. Also, if someone does get lost, I can still use my Aura to find you, so I don't think there is really going to be any trouble."

"Ok," May asked. "But who will go with who?"

"I'll go with Max, and the two of you can go together," Ash said, getting raised eyebrows from Serena and May.

"Why the two of us together?" Serena asked, referring to herself and May.

"Because you and I have some experience, while May and Max don't," Ash said. "I can't let the two of them go in there by themselves to matter how sure I am in the safety, and my ability to find them."

Serena nodded at Ash's logic, while May was slightly annoyed that Ash thinks she is too young and inexperienced to go inside the cave by herself. It didn't even cross her mind that… she really is young and inexperienced.

And so, the four went inside of the Granite Cave, and traveled together until they came to a part of the road where it gets split into two different roads. One goes left, while the other goes right.

"I guess we will split here," Ash said, as he and Max stood on the left side of the road and will go to the left side, while May and Serena will go on the right. "Try to place some mark, whenever you take a turn to another road, so you know where you came from."

May and Serena nodded, and then left, after which, Ash and Max also left on their side of the road.


As Max and Ash were walking down the cave road, they suddenly fell thought a hole which appeared under them, and the two slid all the way down to a deeper parts of the cave.

"Ouch!" Max said after he fall on the floor. As he stood up, he looked to his left, and saw Ash lying on his back, and just looking on the ceiling of the cave. Max looked up and saw a hole on the ceiling.

"Where the hell did that hole come from?" Max asked.

Ash sighed, and stood up, before he dusted himself off, and said. "If I have to guess, I'd say that some Pokémon have dug a tunnels all over the cave, and we might have fallen through one of those tunnels."

"But there was no hole in front of us," Max whined! "We would have seen it."

"Maybe it wasn't dug all the way to the surface," Ash said. "It could be that there were few inches of ground left to dig all the way to surface, so when we walked over those few inches of unstable ground, we fell through. Those few inches of earth could have been sturdy enough to stay without collapsing on their own, but any pressure, and it would break."

Max groaned. "Great. That means we are stuck here!"

"I wouldn't say that just yet," Ash shook his head, and Max looked at him. "I'm sure we can find our way out. Besides, since we are in a deeper part of the cave, it means that there might be rarer Pokémon down here then on the upper levels. The same goes for any evolutionary stones, or some other items which can be found in this place."

"Hm, you are right," Max said, and then he got excited. "Well then, let's go and get some Pokémon and whatever else we might run into!"

Ash shook his head, and started to follow Max, who went first down the cave path.


"Do you think Ash and Max have found something," May asked, as she and Serena have been walking down their own cave path? "We've been here for over half an hour and we still haven't found anything. I'm starting to wander if there really is anything here."

"Well, in the guide says that there are Pokémon and valuable stones here, so I'm sure we will soon find something." Serena said. "Of course, we will probably have to dig to find any stones or items."

"Yes, but the guide book also said that this place is visited by a lot of people, constantly, and so far we haven't seen anyone," May whined. "On top of that, if there are trainers coming here all the time, then they could have cleaned the place dry by now."

"Well, I can't really argue with that," Serena said. "But even if there is nothing here, its fine. We can just look at this as another place we visited on out journey, and it's always fun to see different things. In the end, we lost nothing by being here."

"We lost time," May really continued to push it.

Serena looked at May for a few moments, and asked. "Would you have preferred to have stayed in the forest to train?"

May winced, as she knew the kind of training Ash and Serena put their Pokémon through, and while May didn't actually train with them, she did pay attention. After three days of that, she started to feel the pain Ash's and Serena's Pokémon feel after their training. "Maybe if I was alone without you or Ash there, I would have preferred the training."

"Why?" Serena asked with wide eyes. She was surprised that May didn't want her or Ash near her when she trains.

"I literally feel the pain your Pokémon feel when you train them," May gave Serena deadpan look. "You two are really pushing your Pokémon too hard, and I can't keep up with that. Even if I'm training alone with my Pokémon, I get distracted by the way you and Ash are training yours. That's why I think I would have been better to train my Pokémon without the two of you there."

"Ok," Serena said, and started to think how to fix that. "Well, I guess the next time we train our Pokémon, Ash and I can be a little farther away from you, so you won't get distracted.

"As for us pushing our Pokémon too hard, remember that we are not actually torturing them, and none of them are complaining. Ash has been training his Pokémon that way since before he even became a trainer, and even back then when he was training his oldest Pokémon, none of them complained. They withstood the pain, and hardships, and became strong."

May listened to what Serena said, and agreed when Serena said that they can leave her alone to train her Pokémon how she wants. She was surprised when she heard that Ash has been training his Pokémon like a maniac since before he even became a trainer. It made her wonder how he got Pokémon back then if he was not 10 years old and allowed to have Pokémon. She asked Serena about that.

"Ash's first two Pokémon were Riolu and Abra, and he trained them since he was 5 years old," Serena said. "He got Pikachu about a year and a half later. He was allowed to train them because of his training as an Aura Guardian, so he was considered old enough to have Pokémon even though he still didn't have his license.

"It's also because he is an Aura Guardian that he can carry 12 Pokémon with him."

"I wondered about that," may said. "But I never did ask."

"Yeah, he was allowed to carry 12 Pokémon since he started his journey," Serena said. "It allowed him to train his Pokémon faster since he can have more of them with him then the other trainers, who are only allowed six Pokémon."

May nodded, and the two then continued down the cave path for a few more minutes, until they came upon an interesting Pokemon.

"So," Serena looked at May with a smile on her face. "Do you want it, or should I go after that Pokémon."

"LOUDRED!" The Pokemon yelled as it was jumping several meters in front of Serena and May.

At the loud yell, May flinched, but soon got herself under control, and narrowed her eyes. "It's mine." She said, and then walked in front of smirking Serena, and stood opposite of Loudred, who was looking at May in interest.

May took a Poke Ball from the strap on her waist, and released her Pokemon. "Torchic, lets catch this Loudred!"

Torchic came out from his Poke Ball, and glared at Loudred, who was glaring right back at the Fire Type, and started to yell again, and jump up and down. He looked pumped-up for battle, just like Torchic, so May went and called her first move.


"Poke Ball, GO!" May yelled after a few minutes of tough battle between her Torchic, and a surprisingly strong, wild Pokemon, and threw one of her empty Poke Balls, at the drowsy Loudred.

The Poke Ball hit the loud Pokemon in the head, before it opened and sucked Loudred inside of it. The ball then fell on the ground, shook several times, before it pinged, signifying that May has caught herself another Pokemon.

"ALL RIGHT," May yelled once again, and this time she had a big smile on her face, as she punched the empty air! "I just caught myself a Loudred!"

"That was a nice battle, May," Serena said, as she was looking at May who, after she came down from her high, was now hugging her beat-up Torchic, who, in a way was able to win, even though his opponent didn't pass out. He was still able to weaken him enough so that May can catch it. "But I must admit, I wasn't expecting you to go and try to catch a Loudred."

May heard Serena and frowned. "Why not," May asked? "It's a powerful Pokemon, who will definitely raise my team's battle power."

"Yes, it would make your team stronger, but Loudred's are known to be tough to train," Serena said. "They are hot tempered and can sometimes disobey their trainers."

May shrugged. "I'm sure I can deal with Loudred," she said. "Maybe there'll be some trouble at first, but we can get over it when I prove to Loudred I'm good trainer for it."

"Ok, if you say so." Serena said.

"How come you know so much about Loudred," May asked? "I thought this is your first time in Hoenn Region, and Loudred are native to Hoenn and hard to find in other Regions."

"Before I came to Hoenn, I looked up the list of Hoenn native Pokemon and learned a little about some of them," Serena said. "I thought it would be useful to know, and not always rely on Ash and his knowledge."

May nodded, and then she and Serena went back going through the Granite Cave, and see if they can find some more Pokemon to catch.


"Treecko, use Quick Attack and then, Iron Tail," Ash told his Grass Type Pokemon, who charged at the group of Aron, and took out few of them with Quick Attack, and then few more with Iron Tail. "Duskull, use Shadow Ball!"

The Ghost Type Pokemon did the same as Treecko and cleared out the remaining few Aron, who were now all lying on the Granite Cave floor, beaten up or unconscious.

Ash smirked and congratulated his two Pokemon, before he returned them to their Poke Ball's, and then he pulled out a bunch of empty Poke Balls from his backpack, before he looked at Max.

"Do you want to catch one?" Ash asked Max who was looking at the defeated Aron with wide eyes.

"How did you defeat all of them with just two Pokemon," Max asked?

"They were all wild Pokemon and not really strong," Ash shrugged. "It wasn't really hard. Now, do you want one, or should I catch them all?"

"I-I think you can have them all if you want," Max said surprising Ash, as he was sure Max would want one. Seeing a surprised look on Ash's face, Max said. "Aron evolves into Larion and then Aggron, and they are hard Pokemon to train, so I think I'll wait until I actually become a trainer, to catch one."

Ash smiled at Max's reasoning, and then proceeded to catch all twenty defeated Aron, so he can later send them to PPA in Pallet Town.

As Ash put all 20 Poke Balls inside of his backpack, he looked behind him, and smirked. "You can come out now." He said, confusing Max, as he didn't see anyone there when he turned to look who was Ash talking to.

A moment later, a girl about the same age as Ash, walked from the darkness, with a smile on her face. The girl had shoulder length black hair, with her bangs being slightly longer and are framing her face on both sides. She had brown eyes and red earrings. She was wearing a black and red sleeveless shirt, which is only strapped around her neck, and is tucked inside very short gray-green shorts, which was tied with a red, rope-like belt. The last noticeable thing on her is a green anklet wrapped on her right leg, on which, Ash noticed a Key Stone.

"It has been a long time, hasn't it, Ash." The girl said, as she stood in front of Ash. The two had a matching smirks on their faces, as they were looking at each other.

Max, who was standing next to Ash was looking at the girl in confusion, as he didn't know her, and wandered from where Ash knew her.

"It sure has," Ash said. "Zinnia."

The now named Zinnia's smile widened, and then she walked closer to Ash, before, much to both his and Max's surprise, kissed Ash right on the lips.

The kiss only lasted for a few seconds, before Zinnia pulled back, and looked with a smirk on her face, at Ash's shocked face. Ash was just standing there, and looking at her with wide eyes.

"I so like to see you surprised and without word," Zinnia said. "It's something I enjoy immensely since it's so hard to surprise you with anything."

After few moments, Ash coughed in his fist, and looked back at Zinnia. "Are you going to tell me what that was for?" Ash asked.

Zinnia shrugged. "It's something I wanted to do since we were kids," Zinnia said, surprising Ash. "But since we were too young back then, I decided to wait. Now though, we are no longer young, and I can kiss you all I want."

Ash was very surprised by this, as he didn't know that Zinnia apparently liked him since they were kids. Of course, the last time they saw each other was six years ago, and back then he didn't know about that kind of stuff, nor he had any romantic feelings for girls. He didn't even know what romance is.

"But I have a girlfriend now," Ash said, wanting to see how will Zinnia react. "Few of them, actually."

Ash was not disappointed when he saw Zinnia's eyes narrow, as she glared at him. "Who are they," Zinnia growled, and started releasing Aura around herself, scaring the crap out of Max? "And how can you have more than one?"

Ash smirked at Zinnia, infuriating her even more, judging by the spike in her Aura output, and then he said. "I guess I was lucky to find girls who were willing to share me between themselves."

The Aura around Zinnia suddenly disappeared as she heard this, and she then narrowed her eyes at Ash, before she said. "I want in!"

Ash looked at her in disbelief, and couldn't say anything. Max on the other hand had his eyes wide opened and his jaw was on the ground.

"Can you repeat that?" Ash asked after two minutes of silence.

"I want to join your harem." Zinnia said, annoyed at how Ash is acting.

"Just like that," Ash said in disbelief. "You just want to be my girlfriend regardless if I agree or my other girlfriends agree."

Zinnia smiled. "You know me well, Ash," she said. "I was interested in you since we were 6-years-old, and I wanted us to be together when we grow up. I will admit you took me by surprise when you said you have a girlfriend, but then you said you have more than one, so I figured I have my chance, and I'm not letting that chance run away."

Ash looked at Zinnia for a few minutes without saying anything, and then just shrugged. "Fine with me." He said, and Zinnia's eyes widened at how easily he agreed, while Max's jaw broke through the ground. "Of course," Ash continued. "You have to make my other girlfriends agree as well. It's something they came up with. If another girl wants to be a part of my harem, she will have to convince them, in order to be accepted."

"I can do that," Zinnia said with a simple smile. "I mean, how hard could it be?"

Ash shrugged and said. "We'll see."

Seeing that this is his chance, Max asked. "Ahm, Ash. Who is she? And what just happened?"

Ash looked at Max, and remembered that he is there, as he has completely forgotten about him when Zinnia showed up.

Zinnia was in the same situation, as she also forgot about the kid which was with Ash. She didn't know him and was wondering who he is.

Ash cleared his throat, and said. "Max, this is Zinnia. The two of us used to train in Rota Kingdom, to be Aura Guardians when we were younger. Actually, I trained to be Aura Guardian, Zinnia only trained to learn to control and use Aura.

"Zinnia, this is Max. He is one of the three people I currently travel with through Hoenn Region."

"Nice to meet you, Max." Zinnia said, to Max, who nodded at her, and said it's his pleasure.

"Can you tell me how you met each other, and what was that power you released earlier," Max asked? "Was that Aura?"

Ash looked at Zinnia, and she shrugged, before he started to explain. "You see Max, Zinnia and I met about 7 years ago when we were 6-years-old. I was in Rota Kingdom training to become an Aura Guardian, and then one day, Zinnia was brought there by her grandmother, so she can also train as well, since she also has Aura.

"Anyway, over time we became good friends, and have stayed like that until she left Rota Kingdom, and went to her home, while I stayed behind.

"As for the power you saw her release, it is Aura," Ash said. "I can do that to, and much better then she can."

Ash smirked when he saw Zinnia scowl at him. "Are you sure about that?"

"I'm pretty sure," Ash said confidently. "I actually mastered Aura Manipulation during the training, you on the other hand only learned to control it and use it freely. If you didn't left after a year and have stayed to continue, you would have mastered it as well."

Zinnia sighed. "I wanted to stay, Ash, I really did," Zinnia said. "But I had to go back home and start to train with my people. With us, it has always been, the younger you start the better."

"Who are your people," Max asked another question? "And what were you trained in?"

Seeing that he is very interested, Zinnia decided to just answer to Max's question. "I'm a member of Draconid People from the Meteor Falls," Zinnia said, and Max's eyes widened. "We have always been Dragon Handlers, and are training Dragon Type Pokemon. We are also keepers of the Ancient lore about the battle between Legendary Pokemon here in Hoenn Region."

"WOW, that's so cool," Max said with stars in his eyes. "Do you have some Dragon Type Pokemon with you? Can I see them? And who were the Legendary Pokemon you were talking about? Is it Groudon and Kyogre, or was it some other?"

Max would have continued to ask question for who knows how long, but was stopped by Zinnia, who placed her hand over his mouth, so he will stop talking. "If you would stop talking, then I would be able to answer your questions."

Max blushed at this, and kept quiet after Zinnia removed her hand from his mouth.

"Now, I have some Dragon Pokemon with me, and I can show them to you if you want, but I think I have a better idea," Zinnia said, and looked at Ash, getting raised eyebrows from him. "So, Ash, how about we have a two-on-two battle? That way I can show Max my Pokemon, and I can also see if you are as good a trainer as I heard you were."

Ash smirked at Zinnia's challenge. "Ok, let's do it," Ash said. "But let's get out of here first. I don't want to risk the collapsing of the cave."

Zinnia agreed to that, and the three headed toward the exit of the cave, while Zinnia was in the lead, as she knew where the exit is.

"What about the Legendary Pokemon you mentioned earlier?" Max asked as they were walking.

"Oh, right," Zinnia smiled, as she forgot about that, so she decided to tell the kid. "They were Groudon and Kyogre, just as you asked.

"According to the legend, the two were in the battle, which was stopped by Rayquaza, another of the Legendary Pokemon of Hoenn Region," as Zinnia was explaining, Max was listening carefully and was wide-eyed. Ash on the other hand just walked next to the two, and was only partly paying attention, since he already knew this. "A thousand years later, when Groudon and Kyogre woke up again. The Lorekeeper wished for Rayquaza to return while holding a Key Stone," here Zinnia pointed at the Key Stone on her anklet, making Max's eyes widen even more. "Rayquaza returned, and the wish along with the Key Stone, allowed it to Mega Evolve, after which it was able to defeat Groudon and Kyogre.

"Afterwards, the Draconids built the Sky Pillar, where they can summon our Lord Rayquaza in case it is needed again." Zinnia finished her story.

Max had more questions after that, and Zinnia along with Ash answered them to him. They did that with no problem and without being annoyed as they knew the kid just wanted to learn, and they are ok to teach him.


After May caught Loudred, she and Serena continued to explore the tunnels of the Granite Cave, hopping to find and catch some more Pokemon, and maybe find some stones.

They were quite successful with the other wish after Serena caught herself Zubat, and then had him use Supersonic to find any stones or items which are buried into the walls of the cave.

The two were able to find a bunch of Big Pearls, which they decided to sell, as it will be a good addition to their spending money. On top of the pearls, May found two Everstones while Serena was very lucky when she found a Steelixite.

Serena didn't have a Steelix, nor the Key Stone in order to use the Steelixite, but she decided to keep it and maybe give it to someone else, or trade it in exchange for the Mega Stone for one of the Pokemon she has and who could Mega Evolve after she gets her hands on the Key Stone.

As the two were walking back towards the exit of the Granite Cave, after they decided that they have gone deep enough and are satisfied with what they caught and found, they ran into Ash, Max, and Zinnia, who, by the way, was unknown to Serena and May, which is why the two were looking at her with curiosity.

"Hey Ash," Serena called, while giving him a smile, though she was casting glances at Zinnia. "What's up? How did you and Max do in the cave?"

"It was ok," Ash said. "I caught about 20 Aron for the PPA, but nothing else. Still, I'm ok with that. Max didn't catch anything even though I offered him one of the Aron, he refused."

Max got a curious looks from May and Serena, but he said he doesn't think he can train Aron if it evolves before he actually becomes a trainer.

Ash then went and introduced Zinnia to Serena and May, and said how they knew each other since they were six years old, and have trained together to be Aura Guardian's for about a year.

Ash also said that Serena is one of his girlfriends, which May and Max already knew, though they still didn't understand how he can have more than one girlfriend. Zinnia on the other hand looked at Serena with narrowed eyes for a while, making Serena feel slightly uncomfortable.

"So, you are one of the girls who I have to convince to let me become Ash's girlfriend," Zinnia suddenly said, making Serena's and May's eyes widen in disbelief.

"W-What?" Serena asked, thinking she might have heard it wrong.

Ash sighed and explained what happened in the cave, and how Zinnia wants to be his girlfriend.

Serena was now looking at both Ash and Zinnia with narrowed eyes. "Another one," she said to Ash, who just shrugged. "Don't you think you already have enough? I do think six is already more than enough."

"Hey, I'm not going to refuse any girl who wants to be with me," Ash said, getting bugged eyes from everyone. "This harem thing was not my idea in the first place, but I would be lying if I say that I don't like or don't want to have more than one girlfriend."

"So you like her and want her to be your girlfriend," Serena asked to be sure, while looking at Ash with narrowed eyes.

"Yes," Ash confirmed. "I may not have liked her since we were kids like she did me, but I do think I can learn to love her like the rest of you."

Serena sighed, and said. "Fine! If you want her, you can have her as far as I'm concerned. But there is still the others who also have to accept her."

"I'm sure Zinnia can convince them," Ash said, and saw that Zinnia was smiling widely.

Serena frowned, but said nothing, instead she looked at May, who was looking at them all in disbelief. "You will learn that our lives are hard to understand and get used to. But you will get used to it. Everyone does."

"Yeah, especially if she ends up as one of my girlfriends one day." Ash said under his breath, thinking no one will hear him.

He was wrong.

"Ahm, Ash," he heard May calling him, and he lifted his head, only to see May's face is scarlet from how much she was blushing.

"Hm, yeah, what's up May?" Ash asked, wondering why she was blushing. He looked at Serena and Zinnia, and while Zinnia was smirking, Serena was scowling at him. He looked at Max, and Max was again bug-eyed.

After a minute, Serena said. "Ash, you said that out loud."

Ash looked at her confused, and though about what he said. It took him few seconds to realize what it is he said. "Oh." Ash said.

"Is that all you are going to say?" Serena asked in dangerous voice, which surprised Ash, as he didn't think she is a jealous type. Misty, yes, maybe even Diantha and Cynthia, but not Serena. He wasn't sure about Whitney.

"If you were thinking I'll be embarrassed, then you should think otherwise, since I hardly ever get embarrassed," Ash said, making Serena huff in annoyance. "Besides, nothing I said is hard to believe, since all the girls who have traveled with me, have become my girlfriends. Every. Single. One."

After a minute of no one saying anything, Ash interrupted the silence. "Anyway, how did the two of you do in the cave," he asked? "I hope you caught some Pokemon."

May coughed in her hand, and then looked at Ash. "Y-Yeah, we did," she said, while still wearing a blush on her face. Though, now it has decreased a little. "I caught a Loudred, and Serena caught a Zubat. She then used Zubat's Supersonic to see if we can find something in the walls."

"That was smart thinking, Serena," Ash said, as he smiled at Serena. "I see you remembered what I did in Tohjo Falls with my Crobat, so you did the same now."

"Yeah," Serena said. "I thought about it the moment I saw that Zubat, which is why I caught him."

"Good, good," Ash said. "And, what did you find?"

"We found a bunch of Big Pearls, which we will sell so we can get some more spending money," Serena said, and Ash nodded. It was a good decision, as the two of them wouldn't have any other use for the Pearls. "May also found two Everstone's, and I found Steelixite. I actually had to look at the Pokedex to see what it was, as I didn't know which Mega Stone it was."

"WOW," Ash said, while Max and Zinnia were wide-eyed. "May did well with those two Everstone's, but you... Damn."

Serena smiled. "Yeah, it was luck to find it. But since I don't have Steelix, nor am I really interested in having one, I think I might just keep it and exchange it with someone who has a Mega Stone I could use on one of my Pokemon."

"That's actually smart idea," Zinnia said. "But you also need to find a Key Stone in order to use Mega Evolution. I already have it, and they are not easy to acquire."

Serena shrugged. "It's ok, I'm not in a hurry to find one," Serena said. "I won't even look for it for a while, but if I do get a chance to acquire it somewhere, I'll take it."

Ash and Zinnia nodded, and then they all proceeded to exit the cave, so that Ash and Zinnia will have their two-on-two battle as agreed earlier.

"Who will be a referee?" May asked, as she, Max and Serena stood on the edge of the clearing in the forest several dozen meters from the Granite Cave entrance, while Ash and Zinnia were standing across from each other in the middle of the clearing, several dozen meters apart.

"I don't think we will need one," Ash said, and Zinnia agreed. "We both know the rules, and we know when it's over, to stop."

"Ok then, let's start," Zinnia suggested, and pulled out one of her Poke Balls. "Who will go first?"

"I'll go first," Ash said, and also pulled out one of his Poke Balls, and called out his first Pokemon. "Come on out, Taillow!"

Ash's first Pokemon came out, and flew a circle around the clearing before he settled to floating in front of Ash.

"You are up first, Vibrava!" Zinnia yelled, and released her first Pokemon. Vibrava floated in front of Zinnia and waited for the start of the battle, while looking at Taillow.

"So, it's two Flying Type Pokemon against each other," May commented, while looking at the battle which is about to start.

"Actually, Vibrava is Ground/Dragon Dual Type," Max said, surprising May. Serena has already known this, as she has learned it before she came to Hoenn.

"That Pokemon doesn't look anything like Ground or Dragon Type." May said again.

"Yeah well, it's both," Max said, and started to pay attention at the match.

Ash told his Taillow to go in with Wing Attack, which he did, and charged at Vibrava with his right wing glowing.

Zinnia countered this with her Vibrava using Steel Wing. Once the two Pokemon hit each other's wings, the one who came on top was Vibrava, as its attack was stronger, and Taillow was sent flying to the ground.

Taillow managed to get back up, and Ash told him to use Peck. This time, Taillow's attacks landed, as he pecked Vibrava several times, before Vibrava backed away from him.

"Vibrava, use Dragon Breath!" Zinnia said.

"Taillow, dodge and use Wing Attack!" Ash countered, and the two opposing Pokemon went with their attacks, with Vibrava first firing a green and yellow beam from its mouth, but Taillow dodged it, and then charged and hit Vibrava with his glowing wing, dealing Zinnia's Dragon Type some damage.

Zinnia then told her Pokemon to use Sandstorm, after it managed to get itself back into the air. Vibrava followed the order and released a tornado of sand by flapping its wings, which then trapped Taillow who was tossed around the tornado and was unable to get back out.

"Now finish him off with Dragon Breath!" Zinnia said with a smile on her face.

Vibrava released another green and yellow attack at Taillow who was trapped inside the Sandstorm. The beam of energy broke into the Sandstorm and hit Taillow, sending him flying out of the tornado, and into the ground.

"Damn, Ash lost this round," Max commented from the sidelines. He was very surprised as he didn't expect Ash to lose this round. "I guess Zinnia is better than I though."

"Yeah, she sure is," May said, while also surprised just like Max. Serena didn't say anything, and was watching as Ash returned his defeated Taillow inside of its Poke Ball.

"That was a good battle, Zinnia," Ash commented. "I'd expect nothing less from you."

Zinnia smiled. "Well, I did train," she said. "Besides, that Taillow of yours isn't really trained much, is he?"

"No, I only caught him few weeks ago," Ash said. "But that doesn't mean that I didn't train him hard. And it doesn't mean that you didn't deserve to win this round."

Ash then pulled another Poke Ball, and called out his second Pokemon. "You are up, Tyranitar!"

Tyranitar came out from his Poke Ball, and roared to the sky, making Max and May flinch a little, while Serena smirked.

Zinnia rose her eyebrows, and looked at her Vibrava. She realized right away that Vibrava wouldn't be able to do anything against this opponent, so she returned it to its Poke Ball, and took another. "Well, let's fight power with power," Zinnia said. "Tyrantrum, let's do this!"

Zinnia's own scary looking Pokemon came out from its Poke Ball, and just like Tyranitar, roared to the sky, before it looked at the opponent, narrowing its eyes as soon as it saw Tyranitar.

"This should be interesting." Ash commented, and the second round started.

"Tyranitar, start this off with Dark Pulse!" Ash said.

"Counter it with Ancient Power!" Zinnia said, and her Pokemon fired a silver ball of energy from its mouth to counter Tyranitar's black and purple circles, which he fired from his mouth.

The two attacks were pretty much equal in power, so after few moments, they canceled each other out, which was the sign to the two trainers to go with the next attacks.

Ash went with Iron Tail, which was countered by Dragon Tail from Zinnia and her Tyrantrum. The colliding of two tails caused a loud noise which was followed by a small shockwave, which spread around the field, but didn't really affect anyone.

Zinnia went with Crunch, but Tyranitar defended himself with Protect, which stopped Tyrantrum. Ash then countered it with Ice Punch, which was a clean hit on the head of Tyrantrum, and this was a massive damage dealt to Zinnia's dual Rock/Dragon Type.

Tyrantrum recovered enough to get back into a battle, and Zinnia went with Dragon Tail, which Tyranitar dodged, but Tyrantrum then went in with a Dragon Claw, and slashed Tyranitar across the face, dealing him some damage.

The battle continued for a few more minutes, with both Pokemon throwing some of their more powerful moves at each other. Some of them landed and dealt the damage to the other Pokemon, while some missed or were stopped, which is the case with Ash's Tyranitar, who stopped Tyrantrum's Giga Impact with Protect, and most likely saved himself from losing a battle.

To end the battle, both trainers told their Pokemon to fire Hyper Beam, which they did. After the attacks collided, and pushed at each other for a few moments, they both exploded, sending both Pokemon falling on their backs, where they stayed as they both passed out from exhaustion and injuries.

Ash sighed and returned his Tyranitar, while Zinnia did the same with her Tyrantrum, though she wore a smile on her face.

"Congratulations on the win, Zinnia," Ash said as he approached her. She accepted thanks, and the two shock their hands. "It was a good battle. I'm happy for you."

"Thanks Ash," Zinnia said. "You really are a great trainer. I mean I won, yes, but it was only because of the first round. Tyrantrum was one of my stronger Pokemon and he couldn't defeat your Tyranitar, who I doubt is among your stronger Pokemon."

Ash shrugged. "A win is a win. It doesn't matter which of my Pokemon you defeated to pull that win, you still did win. And that puts you among the rare group of people who have ever defeated me."

Ash then looked at Serena and the siblings and saw they were all looking at him with wide eyes. He assumed that's because he lost, which almost never happens.

Their surprise and silence was interrupted by a clapping of a hands from a turquoise haired man who was approaching them from the forest. "I must say, that was a good battle," the man said. The others didn't know who he is, though he seemed familiar to everyone but Serena.

Ash on the other hand, knew who he is. "It is nice to finally meet you face to face, Ash Ketchum."

Serena and the others looked at Ash, wondering who that man is, and how he knows Ash. Max asked in the end.

"It is also nice to meet you as well… Hoenn Champion, Steven Stone," Ash said, getting bugged-eyed looks from the others. "Though I must say, I'm surprised you know me."

Steven approached Ash, and the two shock hands, while wearing smiles on their faces. "Oh, well, you are the youngest person who has ever won a Regional tournament, and then managed to defeat the Regional Elite Four," Steven said. "Since then, your name has been known by pretty much all of the Elite Four and the Champions of all Regions. We were all very impressed by your battle against Blue, though, I must admit, I was slightly disappointed when I heard you didn't want to challenge Johto Elite Four after you won the Silver Conference."

Ash shrugged. "I just decided to do it another time," he said. "There was no hurry, and I plan to challenge all Elite Four and Regional Champions one after the other after I stop traveling."

"Is that so," Steven asked very interested in what Ash was saying? "So, I'm assuming you will not challenge me after you win Ever Grande Conference."

"You're assuming I will win it." Ash said with an innocent smile, while Steven frowned.

"I'm sure you will win it," Steven said. "I doubt anyone in your age group or several years above will be able to defeat you."

"Zinnia did." Ash challenged.

"Yeah, but it's as she said, it was only because of the first round," Steven said. "She used her well trained Pokemon and you used one of your new ones."

Steven then looked at Zinnia and said. "Now, don't get me wrong, I think you are a great trainer, most of the Dragon Handlers from Meteor Falls are, but Ash is just without competition."

Zinnia nodded, as she knew this, and wasn't offended by Steven's words.

"How did you know I'm from Meteor Falls," Zinnia asked? "And also, how long have you been watching the battle?"

"I recognized you from when I met you about 10-years-ago," Steven said, surprising Zinnia and the others, including May, Serena and Max who were listening to everything said, but were quiet as they didn't know what to say, especially May and Max who have never met a Regional Champion, and are currently overwhelmed. "I met you when I visited Meteor Falls back then. I met your grandmother and you as well. You were just… what, three, four years old, but I do remember faces well, even after they grow up and change.

"As for the battle, I watched since practically the start of it. You just never noticed me since I stayed a little away, and didn't want to show myself until the end."

"Is that so," Zinnia asked, looking at Steven? "Hm, I can't say I remember that meeting, but maybe that's why you seemed familiar. I know I never saw you on TV or any picture of you, so even though I knew about you being Hoenn Champion, I wouldn't recognize you if we passed next to each other."

Steven nodded, not insulted or bothered he was not recognized, and then looked at Serena, May and Max. "It's nice to meet you all as well, kids," Steven said to them. "Though I do remember you, Serena. I watched your and Ash's match at the Silver Conference. You did very well against Ash, even though you were a new trainer and he is a prodigy when it comes to Pokemon training and battling."

Serena thanked Steven for his words, and then he met May and Max, who he didn't know.

After that, Ash asked what he was doing there in the first place, and Steven said. "I've been searching for some stones in the Granite Cave. I've been there for the last few days, but when I heard a noise I went to check it out, and I found you all walked away from the cave entrance talking about the battle, so I just decided to watch."

"So, did you find what you were looking for," Serena asked?

"Yes," Steven said, and showed them a Fire Stone. "With the help from my Aron, we were able to find one."

"Hm, I didn't know Aron can be used for that," Ash said.

"Yeah, they have amazing sense of smell for evolutionary stones, so they can be of big help with that," Steven said.

"What about Zubat line," Serena asked? "I caught a Zubat in the cave, and with Supersonic, May and I were able to find some interesting stuff." Here, Serena pulled out a Mega Stone she found, and showed it to Steven, whose jaw dropped on the ground when he saw Steelixite.

"I-Is that what I think it is?" He asked.

"It's Steelixite," Serena said. "I found it in the Cave. May found two Everstone's, and we also found some Big Pearls."

"Damn," Steven said. "You were really lucky to find all of that, even with Zubat. Supersonic can only show you if there is something in the ground or in the wall, but not what it is. For you to find a Steelixite of all things, you really need a lot of luck."

Serena shrugged. "I would have been happier if I found a Mega Stone which would correspond to one of the Pokemon I have. Steelixite is all but worthless to me since I don't have Steelix, nor am I interested in acquiring one."

"Oho," Steven was surprised, but not much. He also felt the same sometimes when he finds something valuable to someone else, but not him. Maybe he can do something about Serena's problem which will help her and himself. "And which Pokemon do you have which can Mega Evolve?"

"Well," Serena said, and placed a finger on her chin to think, which Pokemon she currently has which can Mega Evolve. "I've got, Ampharos, Butterfree, Pidgeot, Houndoom, Altaria and Gyarados. They are the ones who can Mega Evolve with the right Mega Stone and the Key Stone, which, by the way, I don't have."

"Well, I might be able to help you with that," Steven said, and got curious looks from the others. "I have some Mega Stones I have found during the years, but they are useless to me as I'm a Steel Type Pokemon Trainer, so they are just seating at my house. I can give you one of them and the Key Stone, in exchange for the Steelixite."

"Really?" Serena asked with raised eyebrows as she had a hard time believing in the offer, even though it came from a Regional Champion.

"Yes," Steven confirmed with a smile. "Steelix is a Steel Type Pokemon, and I have a Steelix, but I don't have Steelixite to use on him, which is why I'm offering this to you."

"And which Mega Stones do you have?" Serena asked.

"Well, of the ones you can use, I can give you a choice between Altarianite and Gyaradosite, since you have Altaria and Gyarados." Steven said, and he immediately saw Serena's smile widely.

"You've got a deal," Serena said. "I will give you Steelixite in exchange for Altarianite."

"Ok then, if Altarianite is what you want, then it's what I'll give you," Steven said to Serena. "But, unfortunately we will have to set up a meeting to some other place to exchange the stones since I don't have them with me."

Serena deflated a little, but nodded. "Ok, but where?"

"How about in Mauville City," Ash butted in, and Serena, Steven, May and Max looked at him.

"Why there?" Steven didn't have anything against it, but was interested to know.

"After Serena and I get our badges in Dewford Gym, we will head to Mauville City, where the next gym is," Ash said. "It's also not that far from Rustboro City, where I'm assuming you live, considering your father runs Devon Corp."

Steven rose his eyebrows, as he was surprised Ash knew his father runs the Devon Corp; while the others were surprised as they didn't know this.

"Ok," Steven said. "I've got nothing against Mauville City, so we can meet there. Though, I need to know when you will be there."

"How about we give you a call when we leave Slateport City," Ash suggested. "By the time we get to Mauville from there, you should also get from Rustboro City, so no one will waste time, waiting."

"You've got a deal," Steven said, and shook hands with Ash and Serena, before he gave them his contact number, and then left to do whatever it is he is doing in his free time, while the others stayed behind.

"I cannot believe we just met a Hoenn Champion, and the two of you talked with him like he is just another guy we ran into on our journey." Max said while looking at Ash and Serena.

Ash shrugged. "Well, he is just another guy we run into," he said. "It just so happens that he is better than the others when it comes to training Pokémon and battling with them."

Max and May were surprised by how much Ash and Serena didn't care about meeting one of the regional champions, and are acting like Steven's just another dude. But then, Ash is one of the best trainers in the world along with the Regional champions, and on top of that, he has already met some champions before, so they shouldn't be that surprised.

With their visit of the Granite Cave over, Ash and his friends spent some more time talking with Zinnia, before they decided to leave that Island, and return back to the Dewford City, where they will continue their training the very next day. Zinnia also left the island but she went back home. She did give Ash a farewell kiss, and promised if he wins the Hoenn League, she might give him something more.