This story draws inspiration from Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, and their sequels Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. However, expect it to diverge from the story you are already familiar with.

Brendan looked out his window on the passenger side of the moving truck.

"Here we are," his father said, gently applying the brakes. The vehicle stopped beside the small, two-story house with dark, aged-looking wooden sides resting in the grassy town of Littleroot.

Brendan pushed open the door, climbing out with his bag. He walked towards the back of the vehicle, sliding his arms through the sturdy backpack's straps as he went. Sighing, he fished the key from his pocket, unlocked the trunk, slid open the heavy metal door, and dragged out the last few pieces of furniture onto the lawn. It was official: this was his home now. Brendan slid the door closed again.

"Tell your mother I'm going to stop by the gym after dropping the truck off," his dad yelled through the open passenger window.

"Alright, Dad. See you later," Brendan called back. He watched his father put the truck into reverse, back out, and drive back into the wooded forest.

After the truck disappeared behind the trees, Brendan's mother appeared from inside.

"Hi, honey," she said. "Don't worry about the furniture. Machoke will carry it all inside for you. Come in, get yourself adjusted." She smiled at him reassuringly, knowing he was stressed about the move.

Brendan hugged his mother before stepping inside. She followed him, leaving the door open. From a sac at her side, Brendan's mom picked out a Pokeball and tossed it at the doorway. The ball popped open, issuing an electronic hiss, and a red haze escaped. A humanoid figure took shape, and within seconds her Machoke materialized.

"Help us with the rest of the furniture, would you Machoke?" she asked politely, and the Pokemon complied.

"Dad's going by the gym before heading home," Brendan told her.

"Good to see you're already calling it home," she said. Brendan shrugged.

"You'll be used to it in no time, honey. And you know—hey, there's Dad's gym on the TV!"

"Hoenn is proud to accept this powerful champion from Johto as its eighth gym leader. Brought to you live from outside Petalburg Gym."

"He's a real gym leader now. Isn't that something? And you're following in his footsteps," Brendan's mom said.

"I don't even have a Pokemon," Brendan chuckled.

"I know, but I can just see that same passion in you that your father has had as long as I've known him. I'd say you'll do something greater even than gym leader. I can't imagine what. Elite Four, Pokemon professor—there's no limit to what you can do."

Brendan laughed. "Thanks for the motivational speech."

She giggled, saying, "Well, I mean it. You're going to do big things. Oh! That reminds me. A friend of Dad's lives next door. You should go visit him in his lab. Surely you've noticed it."

"Big building literally right across from our house. Nope, never seen it," Brendan teased.

"Quit being so sarcastic. Go on, before it gets late."

"Alright. Be back in a bit."

"Have fun."

She kissed him goodbye and shut the door behind him now that Machoke had carried in all of the furniture.

Brendan inhaled the fresh air. A soft breeze swayed the trees surrounding the small town. It was quiet, save a few neighbors chatting several houses down. Much more peaceful than Olivine City.

"I guess this isn't so bad," Brendan said as he crossed the dirt path to his neighbor's laboratory.

Once he reached the lab, he knocked on the metal door and it swung inward, apparently left open.

"Come in, come in," a man's voice called from inside.

Brendan entered the lab, and a tall man in a lab coat and glasses greeted him.

"I'm afraid Prof. Birch is not here at the moment," the man said.

"Oh. I've just moved in next door. I understand the Professor is a friend of my dad's."

"Oh, your Norman's boy! I should have known, you look just like him. Well, it's nice to meet you. Prof. Birch might be at home right now, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind a visit. His house is across the road, right east of your house."

"Thank you. I guess I'll drop by."

Brendan shook the scientist's hand and left again, walking down the road to the Professor's house.

After knocking on the door, a pretty woman, perhaps a little older than his mom, opened the door.

"Are you Norman's son?" she asked.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Gosh. Last time I saw you, you were still in diapers. Now look at you! How old are you?"

"Nineteen last month."

"Time sure does fly. Perhaps you remember our daughter, May? You only saw her a few times."

"The name doesn't ring any bells. Though, as you said, I was in diapers," Brendan responded, half embarrassed.

"True. Were you looking for my husband, dear?"

"Yes, ma'am. He wasn't at his lab."

"I know. He was out doing fieldwork, Helix knows where. Come inside, he's supposed to be home soon."

Brendan stepped into his neighbor's home and looked around. The layout was nearly identical to his own house, though it was notably better furnished at the moment.

"Go on, have a seat. Would you like something to drink?" Mrs. Birch asked.

Before Brendan could answer, a child's scream rattled the windows.

"Help! Help!"

Mrs. Birch looked at Brendan, worried.

"I'll go check it out," he told her. He rushed out the door.

From outside, he could tell the voice was coming from the north. At the edge of the sole pathway clear of trees leading away from Littleroot Town, a young child bounced frantically.

"Hey! Someone help! Someone is in danger over here!"

Brendan ran past the child, quickly spotting a round man with a short but thick brown beard blending into his messy haircut. A Poochyena snapped at his feet while the two ran in a circle in a small clearing.

"You there! Please help. Look in my bag, there should be a Pokeball there," the man cried out.

Brendan saw the bag just a little ways past his feet. He stepped forward and quickly rummaged through it until he came upon the red and white sphere that fit snugly in his palm. He pulled it out and tossed it at the ground, releasing a Mudkip. The little creature noticed the attacking Pokemon immediately and chased it away with a water attack.

The man brushed dirt off his hands onto his poor-fitting lab coat and extended it towards Brendan.

"Thank you, young man. I might have been Poochyena chow there if it hadn't been for you. Those were some quick reflexes you had." He took back the Pokeball and returned the Mudkip to its confinement.

"He didn't bite you anywhere?" Brendan asked while shaking the stranger's hand.

"Naw, just got a few nips at my boots is all. You're Brendan, aren't you?"

"That's me."

"Ha. I could tell. You look just like your father. I'm Prof. Birch, I run the lab in little old Littleroot. You're Dad and I go way back," the Professor clarified.

"I wasn't expecting to meet you like this, Professor," Brendan joked. "I've taken a nice trip around town looking for you. My mother said I should visit you."

"Yes, I talked to your mother earlier. Follow me to my lab, I've got something I'd like to ask of you," Prof. Birch said, and without hesitation he headed back into Littleroot, leaving Brendan no choice but to follow.

In the lab, the Professor continued.

"I've been talking with your parents. They say you're ready for a bit of a journey, and I told them I would be happy to set you out," Prof. Birch said.

"What kind of a journey, sir?" Brendan asked, intrigued.

"I've got something I'd like you to—no, wait! I can't start without my daughter. Could I get you to go after her and bring her back here for me? May would be delighted to meet you."

"Of course. Where can I find her?"

"I sent her out to do some fieldwork on Route 103. You can find that straight north of here, past Oldale Town."

"You've got it. Be back once I've got her," Brendan said, turning around. The Professor stopped him before he could leave.

"Wait. You should take this with you," he said, handing him the Pokeball from earlier.

"I heard you like Mudkip from your dad. Keep him, he'll be a good companion," the Professor said.

"Sir, I couldn't possibly take your Pokemon," Brendan said, handing it back. Prof. Birch shoved his hand back.

"No, it was for you in the first place. Go on, take it. You'll need him for what I want you and May to do."

Brendan could not suppress his grin.

"I'll take good care of it," he assured the Professor.

"I'm sure of it. Now, go along. I've got another gift for you once you've made it back."

With that, Brendan left the lab and walked north again to Route 101 where he had saved the Professor. He looked down at the Pokeball in his hand, then forward at the wilderness between him and Oldale Town. Zigzagoon darted between thick bushes. Wurmple grazed lazily in the branches of towering trees.

Time to prove my mom right. There's no limit to what I can do, Brendan thought to himself. His head high, no longer missing Johto, Brendan marched into the tall grass, ready to throw his Pokeball.