"Shedding Light"

The wooden ceiling panels of the Mount Discipline Pokemon Centre's roof had been the focus of Kim Possible's eyesight for quite some time. She lay upon her back, still rather awake, despite experiencing a hearty meal earlier, not to mention the fact that it was well after midnight.

The young hero's thoughts were scattered and troubled, but not overly so regarding the latter. Kim replayed mentally the battle against Mankey Fist, unable to stop a soft smile forming as she recalled how bravely and keenly her Pokemon had fought. She then thought of the dinner afterwards, scrumptious and traditionally Japanese as it was, and the additional information Yori, ninja and Mount Discipline Gym Leader, had revealed.

Apparently, there were two sacred gemstones alike the Topaz of Knowledge; the three jewels formed a set, but they were purposefully separated and placed carefully in different corners of the globe for reasons that Yori was not entirely sure of. The ninja admitted her Sensei most likely held more knowledge on the subject, but informed she did know that the three precious stones were related to powerful Pokemon spoken of in myths and legends.

Another treasure too, according to Yori's words, was linked to the trio of mystical jewels. A musical instrument of some sort, most commonly believed to be a flute, was said to possess magic, but could only be activated by the similar mystical powers of the three gems. Most amazingly, or so Kim thought when she had heard the tale, this sacred instrument was supposed to rest upon a mountaintop near the Ninja Training School where Yori's Sensei still taught, in the Japanese countryside.

A soft snore sounding from the sleeping mat across the tiny, Spartan room brought Kim's mind back to the present, and she turned her head and smiled to herself in the darkness. Ron had certainly enjoyed their meal that night, and not just because of the free food. The blonde seemed to be quite smitten with Yori, despite knowing her less than a day; although, admittedly, it didn't seem to take much more than a pretty face to render Ron smitten. And the Japanese girl appeared flattered by his attention, even laughed at some of his jokes. Perhaps she returned the attraction?

Interestingly, the notion did not seem to bother Kim. Despite the face this wasn't 'her' Ron per se, if it were, she believed she would be relatively mellow toward the idea of him finding someone new. Someone decent like Yori, at least. The redhead doubted she would remain mellow if he decided to hook up with the likes of Bonnie!

It had been a while now since they had broken up, and judging by her reactions to the night's revelations, it had been the right step to make. Kim loved Ron, but it was a safe, comfortable feeling; it was familial, like they were almost siblings.

Kim sighed softly to herself. And what's wrong with that? Just because I'm a girl and he's a guy doesn't mean we're destined to be more than friends. I've known him forever… longer than I've known the Tweebs. Trying to make a go of things romantically was OK at first… even fun… but eventually it just got too… awkweird.

Kim was still young and idealistic enough to believe in what romance should truly be like; passionate, crazy, where just thinking of your special one caused your breath to hitch and your heart to beat that much faster. But, as much as she wished it so sometimes, it just wasn't like that with Ron. Not that there's anything wrong with him… he's a great, sweet guy.

With another sigh, Kim closed her eyes, willing her wandering mind to rest. Thoughts of 'her' Ron led inevitably to thoughts of home, her parents… she missed them all terribly and wished she could communicate with them, but knew any working replica of the PDVI could still be months away. True, Ron's suggestion of embarking on a Pokemon journey to distract her from her homesickness had been a brilliant idea. There was so much to see here, to learn, to do. And new friends to make, like Charlie, Petey and Nala, for instance.

Sharp green eyes focused on the small figure curled up on a pillow just next to her sleeping mat, and Kim grinned fondly. Charlie was sound asleep, clutching his tail tightly into himself, so as to not accidentally set anything alight.

In quiet moments of reflection, such as this, Kim began to worry at just how attached she had become to her Pokemon. Eventually, she hoped, she would return home… leaving them behind. It was not fathomable to bring them to her own dimension, since creatures such as they did not exist there. She knew her counterpart, hopefully safely returned when Kim found her own way home, would look after them as adequately as she did, but the foreign Kim could not quell the growing empty felling that manifested whenever she thought of saying goodbye to Charlie and the others.

Man… why do I keep thinking of such depressing things? This is no way to go to sleep when you have a gym battle tomorrow. Pull yourself together, Possible!

Making a small sound of disparagement at herself, Kim then steeled herself to only think productively. Wondering about a battle strategy for the upcoming challenge against Yori was first on the agenda, with contemplating what other Pokemon she might have, aside from Ninjask. Would Yori's other Pokemon be similar to the golden-masked flying ninja bug, or vastly different? True, Gyms usually kept a Type theme, but there were many other Bug Pokemon, as well as Flying Pokemon; and quite a few that were Bug and Flying types, just like Ninjask. Kim had tried to learn as much as possible from her Pokenav in the brief amount of time she had to study Pokemon since she had acquired the device. She began trying to recall other Bug/Flying hybrids that might have to be faced in battle on the morrow.

Beedrill… those vicious bee-things that attacked me and Riff when I first met her… Yanma, a big red dragonfly with even bigger eyes…

The tiring redhead let out a muffled yawn, placing her hand over her mouth.

Beautifly… looks pretty but is actually quite nasty…Speaking of nasty, there's also Vespiquen. Aww, but Combees are so cute! Maybe even Riff would like them…

Thoughts of the bug-phobic Ranger eventually led to thoughts of Shego, and Kim frowned slightly. Why can't Shego still be a hero in my world? I mean, I know her brothers are annoying, but hey, so are mine… and she has no dragon companion there to fly around on… not that Sal would be her only Pokemon. She is the Grand Champion, after all. I wonder what other Pokemon she has? What would Shego like? Other flying ones, like Sal? But she'd have a well-balanced team, for sure…

A sigh escaped soft, pink lips. Pondering Shego's Pokemon helped to distract Kim from her real dilemma regarding the green woman. Namely, why, in a world where everyone appeared so similar to their counterparts in her home dimension, was Shego different? Well, no… 'different' wasn't the right word… she was certainly still very… Shego-ish. But… not a criminal. Not a villain. More even-tempered and generally more sociable… although Kim didn't know how much of that was for show considering Shego's position as Grand Champion.

There was some explanation as to why… there had to be. Kim just didn't know the answer yet. Shego the enigma… She just had to be different from everyone else didn't she? If I can't define her by being a villain and criminal, then how? Who is she, really?

Her eyelids growing heavy, Kim sighed for a final time before the weary hero drifted off to sleep, her final conscious thought also manifesting in a frustrated whisper: "Dammit, Shego…"

"Dammit," Shego raised her right hand carefully, not wanting any sudden movement to rouse the sleeping Pokemon resting between her left shoulder and neck, before pinching the bridge of her nose.

"I am sorry to bring you such troubling news at this late hour, Shego-san," Yori apologised, appearing tired, but a little flushed also. She had contacted the green-skinned Grand Champion not long after Kim and Ron had retired to bed, wishing to inform of Fiske's attempt at the Topaz heist via video link to Shego's Pokenav.

"Nah, it's fine," Shego yawned, reclining a little upon her seat in the Go Manor lounge room. "The important thing is that Freaky Furry Fiske didn't make off with the Topaz, right?"

"That he did not, I assure you," Yori bowed her head, adding weight to her statement. "But… do you think…"

"That Fiske was working for Gemini?" Shego snorted. "Uh huh. Seems ol' one-eye is recruiting other villains left and right nowadays."

"But why?"

"Mmm, guess he's hatching something pretty big." Green eyes narrowed, and a sigh escaped Shego's lips. "At least, he's trying to."

Yori's expression became solemn. "He will be after the two other jewels then?"

"Most likely." Another sigh, and the green woman shut her eyes for a fleeting moment. Damn that power-hungry moron. Gemini had been a proverbial thorn in Team Go's side practically ever since the siblings had become active superheroes. What troubled Shego at this time, though, was the sheer scale of Mr. Sheldon Director's latest scheme. "I'll inform those responsible for the other gems in France and Australia to be extra vigilant. Don't worry, pudgy won't be getting his grubby hand on either of them."

At this, the ninja formed a small smile. The Grand Champion had a certain way of insulting people that always managed to amuse the Japanese girl.

"I did have some help in apprehending Fiske… a girl wanting to challenge my Gym. Her fighting skills are almost as good as yours!"

A dark eyebrow shot upwards. "Oh really? Somehow, I doubt it."

Yori giggled. "I do not mean to dent your pride, Shego-san. But she did fight exceptionally well. And her Pokemon adore her…" Shego couldn't help but smirk at Yori's growing blush as the ninja finally added: "And her male friend was most eager to help too."

"Uh huh. Gonna ask him to the annual League Ball then, are ya?" Shego asked as she held out her right hand, casually inspecting her fingernails.

Yori blushed deeper. "Goodness, no! I have only just met him! And the Ball is still several months away…"

Shego shrugged non-chalantly in reply. "I'm just sayin'. Guys don't often capture your attention…"

"Speak for yourself, Shego-san." The ninja managed to control her blush enough to smirk effectively. "I doubt you will be taking anyone special to this year's Ball?"

"Hey, Sal can be my date. I'm sure he'd look dashing in a tuxedo."

The Japanese girl giggled again, before focusing her gaze upon the small Pokemon that slept soundly against the crook of Shego's neck. "I must say, Panasonic-san certainly looks comfortable."

Shego rolled her emerald green eyes. "Yeah, but what about my comfort? My neck is getting stiff."

Panasonic, as the Pokemon in question was named, began to hum softly in its sleep; the tune sounded much like the theme of 'The Simpsons'.

"Oh yeah, definitely been watching too much TV," Shego light-heartedly scolded her slumbering friend.

"Well, I should let you get some sleep too, Shego-san," Yori began, before yawning herself, the ninja now beginning to feel the fatigue from her skirmish against Fiske earlier. "And I better too… I have a Gym battle tomorrow. And I believe my opponent will not be easy to overcome!"

"Well, good luck then," Shego quietly said, before yawning yet again. With a smirk, she added "Seems like you'll need it," before pressing a button on her Pokenav to end the communication.

Stiffly lowering the Pokenav onto her lap with her left hand, Shego whispered: "Hey Pans, wake up. I wanna go to bed."

Panasonic responded by drowsily humming the western theme of 'Bonanza'.

Now seated in an almost completely darkened environment as her Pokenav had been switched off, Shego quietly scoffed to herself. "Guess I'll sleep here then."

Almost the entire population of Mount Discipline's hidden village was in attendance of the looming gym battle between their talented and esteemed leader, Yori, and the challenger, one Kim Possible.

Not that the Gym was crowded, by any means. Essentially only a handful of ninjas populated the peak of Discipline, and Ron, Rufus and Petey were Kim's only supporters present.

Rufus waved his tiny 'KP' flag once more, the Bidoof actually positioned upon Petey's ample head. The Carnivine had been purposefully left to rest and watch from the sidelines for two main reasons: he was still recovering from a smarting Fire Punch in the face from Montgomery Fiske's Infernape and also, after Kim had researched upon her Pokenav Yori's Pokemon of choice, Ninjask, the would-be-challenger discovered a Grass type was not a suitable match-up against a flying bug.

From her end of the stadium, Yori bowed. "It is my honour to accept this challenge, Possible-san. Your help yesterday will not be forgotten by our clan."

Kim, fists clenched nervously in anticipation of the battle, nodded curtly. "Thanks. And it was no big." The redhead smiled, before taking a deep breath. She noticed this Gym's arena was starkly plain in comparison to Uppertown's Rock Gym; it was just a flat rectangle court, with the same linings and dimensions as its Uppertown counterpart, and the surface was compacted dirt also, but it was lacking any differing terrain or obstacles, such as the Uppertown rock mounds.

"The challenger may have gained our trust and friendship, but this is still a gym battle," the referee began, standing roughly in the middle between the two human trainers, at the side of the court closest to the crowd. Kim noticed the umpire, dressed all in black, was one of the young ninjas they had rescued the day before. She smiled briefly to herself before exhaling deeply again. I hope Nala will be OK…

"Standard elimination battle rules apply; both combatants are allowed two Pokemon each," the referee ninja spoke again, before signaling with his hand for the match to begin. "Commence when ready. Good luck."

"My first Pokemon shall be Ninjask," Yori announced, before unleashing her insect friend from its Pokeball.

Thought as much… Kim grimaced. Ninjask was fast, but its body appeared fragile.

"Come on out, Nala!" Kim's voice was cheerful, but not overly confident. She knew Yori was skilled and Ninjask was well-trained, but she also had faith in her little Shinx.

Within seconds Nala appeared after being summoned from her Pokeball, her yellow eyes bright and wide, but also determined. The young Flash Pokemon was apprehensive and a little scared, but wanted to do her best for Kim.

With a small meow-like sound, Nala treaded her forepaws upon the ground, letting them sparkle with electricity, in an attempt to appear intimidating. The display was much closer to adorable, however, and even Yori could not help but smile, even as she sent her Ninjask to attack the cute competitor.

"Begin with Fury Swipes, Ninjask."

As Ninjask zoomed over in a blur, Kim called out: "I know it's fast, but watch and wait for your chance!"

Before the challenger even completed her sentence, Ninjask filled Nala's vision, and a high-pitched buzzing filled her large leonine ears. Sooner than the Shinx had a chance to duck, her face was scratched in rapid succession four times. Ninjask then zipped backwards to avoid a counter-attack, leaving a confused and slightly pained Nala to shake her head.

"It's OK Nala," Kim began, slight worry entering her voice, "just use Spark when you get the chance."

Nodding as the determination returned to her eyes, Nala then used her electrical stores to make her fur stand on end, so she suddenly appeared almost twice as large.

With bounding leaps, the enthusiastic Shinx then ran at the hovering Ninjask.

"Bug Bite," Yori calmly ordered, and her charge streaked past its fluffed-up opponent and halted behind the Shinx, before nipping the end of Nala's tail.

Nala let out a cry of pain before instinctively flicking her blue and yellow furred tail, loosening the sharp teeth of her foe. Ninjask was dislodged and lost its equilibrium momentarily, swaying a little in the air as it floated backwards. The Ninja Pokemon recovered quickly, but not quite quickly enough as it was then tackled with a full-bodied Spark attack seconds after Kim had given a command for her Shinx to do so when she saw the opening.

Airborne, with no limb or any other part of its body touching earthly ground, Ninjask was adversely affected by the electric offensive. Kim flicked her eyes up briefly to notice Yori wince slightly, the ninja's Pokemon drifting to the arena's surface as it smoked lightly, appearing frazzled.

Nala flashed a brief, sharp-toothed grin, happy to score at least one hit on the swift Ninjask.

Her Pokemon was dazed and its wing speed had slowed, but Yori knew Ninjask was not defeated yet. Sounding almost regretful, the ninja quietly commanded: "Dig."

Snapping to attention, Ninjask immediately dove under the soft earth of the dirt-covered arena, its forelegs whipping up dust in a frenzy. Her opponent all but disappeared, Nala glanced around in confusion and panic. Kim could see the faint lump of the burrowing bug beneath the surface of the court, and noticed it seemed to be moving behind Nala, hoping to catch the Shinx by surprise.

Once again, Ninjask's speed won out, for Kim yelled "Watch out, Nala!" just as the cicada-like Pokemon emerged, directly beneath the Shinx.

Ninjask exploded from the ground with vigour, sending Nala into the air with a plume of dirt close behind. The startled Shinx crashed down again after a few seconds, the stream of dirt following and landing on top of her.

With a whimper, the Shinx's electrified paws snuffed out, and she lay there, dazed and dirty.

"Ouch," Ron grimaced from his seat in the Gym's stands, placing his hands upon his face with a sympathetic wince.

Rufus nodded in agreement, lowering his flag, while Petey hid his eyes from the action behind his large leaf-like arms.

"I'm afraid Shinx is no longer able to continue," the referee announced, gesturing towards Kim with his right hand.

The challenger sighed sadly. "You OK, sweetie?"

Nala sneezed, before raising her head and gingerly nodding. Kim smiled compassionately in return. "Don't worry, you did your best!" With that, the redhead pressed the button upon Nala's Pokeball that summoned the Shinx to return inside. Speaking to the ball now, Kim continued, "Charlie will finish what you started."

The Charmander standing beside the challenger's legs inflated his chest with bravado, before running onto the arena, eager to win for both Kim and Nala.

Charlie's tail burned brightly as he neared the Ninjask, whom was still shaking dirt off itself. Kim's eyes flashed to Yori's for the briefest of moments, and the challenger thought she saw a hint of worry in the ninja's dark brown pools.

She doesn't like Charlie being out there, Kim concluded, growing a smirk as confidence filled her.

"Aerial Ace!" Yori shouted hurriedly, and Ninjask instantly raised a sharp-ended bug limb to strike the approaching Charmander.

"Let loose with Ember!" Kim had hollered at practically the same instant that Yori had given her command, and Charlie opened his mouth in preparation.

The young lizard was slashed across the nose as he let fire a stream of blazing embers, and Charlie immediately shut his eyes as they began to water from the pain. His mouth also closed as he took a cautious step backwards, his flame attack halting.

After a short moment, the Charmander opened his crisp blue eyes once more—and saw his opponent flat on its back upon the ground, staring up at the ceiling with dazed red coloured bug-eyes. Ninjask's body appeared singed in several places, tiny tendrils of smoke billowing upward from the Ninja Pokemon.

Yori gritted her teeth, awaiting the call of the referee.

"Ninjask is unable to battle further," Yori's fellow ninja signaled toward her, and she sighed.

"Well done, Ninjask. You fought with honour." She held up a Pokeball, and in an instant, Ninjask was returned to it. "I know you are not fond of fire, my friend."

"Yes! Awesome, Charlie!" Kim pumped her fist triumphantly in the air, before asking: "Is your nose OK?"

Charlie tentatively tapped his nose where Ninjask had cut it, before nodding and replying with a happy "Charr."

Yori smiled at both of her opponents. "Very well done, Possible-san. But you must remember this is not over yet." Retrieving a second Pokeball from within her form-hugging gi, the ninja quietly announced "It is your turn now, Shedinja."

Once the newest Pokemon combatant had manifested, the only words that Kim could think, or indeed, say, were "What the…?"

She had researched other Flying/Bug hybrid Pokemon when contemplating what Yori's second choice in the battle arena might have been, but Kim did not discover any information regarding the odd creature that currently levitated halfway across the room from her.

It bore a very vague resemblance to Ninjask, and bugs in general, but basically it was a lightly-brown coloured floating shell. A strange white semi-circular growth was attached to what Kim guessed was the Shedinja's head, making it seem, eerily, that the creature sported a halo.

Kim scratched the side of her face absent-mindedly, baffled by the Shedinja's ghoulish appearance. Charlie unconsciously mimicked his Master's expression, causing Yori to laugh briefly.

"Most people have such a reaction when they first encounter Shedinja, if they are not familiar with the Pokemon." She glanced briefly toward the small crowd, immediately noticing Ron, who was staring at Shedinja as if it were an unsolvable mathematics equation. The ninja smiled to herself, blushing lightly, before reining in her emotions to steel herself for the second half of the battle.

Ron was not flabbergasted enough that he completely failed to notice Yori gaze at him for a moment. The blonde was unable to hold in a giddy smile, but instantly felt a twinge of guilt. He wanted KP to win the gym challenge, for sure; but he had felt an immediate attraction to the female ninja that was Kim's current opponent, too. Therefore he wished for Yori to also do well… maybe it would be too much to hope for a draw?

"Shedinja… O-kaaaaay," Kim finally said after a significant silence, the redhead still frowning in puzzlement. "Well, it's weird, but that doesn't mean it can't be beaten. Let's go Charlie!"

The Charmander flexed his claws, finally snapping out of his Shedinja-inspired stupor. "Char!"

"Metal Claw, Charlie!"

Yori was not about to allow the energetic little Charmander gain the upper hand by striking first. "Use Shadow Claw, Shedinja."

The floating husk, approximately the same size as a Ninjask, barely moved one of its stiff, rounded forelegs as the pointy end of the limb became shrouded in dark energy. Charlie was rushing forward, preparing his own clawed attack, the razor-sharp nails of his right hand gleaming a metallic silver.

Charlie leapt up and slashed at the Shedinja with talons hard as steel; but his claws seemed to pass right through the body of his barely shifting opponent.

Kim widened her eyes in shock; that attack should surely have hit! Charlie, too, was surprised. Recovering from his actions, he only managed a quick puzzled glance at his adversary before a shadow-enshrouded Shedinja claw swiped him across the face.

Charlie yelped and his raised his hands to his nose, the victim of yet another slashing attack. An eerie aura of darkness clouded the Charmander's vision for a moment after the Shadow Claw initially hit, but it soon dissipated, revealing a stiffly indifferent Shedinja.

"I don't get it, his Metal Claw didn't do anything," Kim muttered to herself, scrunching her brow in confusion and concentration. After a moment of thought, the redheaded challenger shrugged, before calling out: "Try using Ember instead!"

Yori visibly stiffened, her expression becoming tense. "You must dodge it, Shedinja! Then attack once again with Shadow Claw!"

Shedinja's claw began to pulsate in darkness once more as it prepared to evade Charlie's attack, but the hollow shell of a Pokemon was too slow, and it was soon sprayed with sizzling embers.

In the quickest movement it exhibited since its arrival in the arena, Shedinja dropped to the floor like a bag of lead almost the instant Charlie's Ember attack first connected with it. Kim was happily shocked by the lack of stamina her opponent Pokemon seemed to possess, breaking into a smile slowly as the reality of her victory became apparent.

"I am sorry honorable Yori-san," the referee began, "but Shedinja is no longer able to battle." The young male ninja offered his superior a sad smile. "The challenger wins."

Yori sighed, a little disappointed, but did not seem too surprised. "Return, Shedinja." She held up her charge's Pokeball. Once the Shed Pokemon had safely returned to its part-time abode, Yori continued: "You too, fought with honour. I am proud of you."

The ninja was then distracted by a loud, jubilant cry of "Spankin'!" and she glanced up to witness an overjoyed Kim scoop up an equally happy Charlie in her arms. "Way to go Charlie! You rock the house!"

"Booyah!" Ron cheered, genuinely ecstatic for his friend. He knew there could really only be one victor, and was impressed that Yori had also battled so competently. "Another Gym win for KP!" He gave Rufus a finger-to-paw high five, whilst Petey waved his leafy arms around in joyful celebration.

"Whew," Kim exhaled as Yori came to greet her in the centre of the court. "That was an interesting fight. Thanks, Yori."

Yori bowed, a small smile flickering upon her face, and Kim returned the gesture of honour, despite still hugging Charlie to her form.

"A well deserved victory, Possible-san. Your Shinx and Charmander were most honorable, as were you."

Kim felt her cheeks flush a little at the praise. Charlie just smiled wider, however, upon hearing himself being referred to as 'honorable'.

Yori reached out to pet the beaming fire-lizard. "My strategy was risky. Shedinja is… quite a unique Pokemon." The ninja's smile widened. "Either it will be completely invulnerable to its opponent's attacks, or it will be greatly affected by the weakest move. Unfortunately for Shedinja-san and myself, Fire-type moves are amongst those it cannot tolerate."

As the defeated Gym Leader took a step backward and straightened her posture, Kim's hand moved to Charlie's head in place of Yori's. She was proud of Nala and the Charmander she currently petted, but Kim had to admit, she was rather lucky regarding the speedy defeat of Shedinja.

Yori cleared her throat, before pulling a small metallic object from within a hidden pocket on her gi. "Possible-san, it is my honour to bestow to you the mount Discipline Gym Honour Badge. Congratulations on climbing another step toward the pinnacle of the Latro Region Pokemon League!"

"Uh, well, thanks," Kim quietly replied as she accepted the gleaming Honour Badge. Wish Will Du coulda been this nice when I beat him… but that's Will, I suppose.

The victor studied her prize with intrigued verdant green eyes. No bigger than a quarter, the upper portion of the badge resembled a shuriken, whilst the lower half was rectangular shaped and inscribed there were the words 'Honour Badge'. Kim guessed the words 'Mount Discipline Gym' would be carved on the reverse side, as was the case with the badge she attained from Will at the Uppertown Gym.

Now that the spectacle of the battle was over, Ron had ambled down from the stadium stands to congratulate his friend. "Way to go, KP! Two down, six to go, huh?"

Rufus pumped a furry fist in the air, the Bidoof now riding upon his human's shoulder, as was most often the case. Petey drifted over to Kim's side, grinning even wider than usual, obviously gleeful for his Master.

Yori clasped her hands together, trying not to appear nervous due to the question she was about to ask. "There is still the matter of your prize money to collect, Possible-san, and, uh… I know it is not yet lunch time, but it would be our honour to host another dinner tonight for you, and… Stoppable-san. Can you stay another day?"

Kim blinked in surprise. She glanced at Ron, who was smiling a wide, goofy smile at Yori's offer. A sly grin formed upon Kim's lips. "Well, sure, that'd be great. We're not really in any hurry to move on, are we, Stoppable-san?"

Ron only responded once he felt Kim gently nudge him in the ribs. "Uh, yeah! Booyah for free food!"

Yori only giggled coyly at his response.

So that evening, Kim, Ron and their Pokemon enjoyed another traditional Japanese meal with the ninja clan of Mount Discipline. Kim was aware of Ron and Yori's shy, subtle flirting, but was also distracted by her own thoughts. She replayed the events of the last few days over in her mind, helping Yori defeat Lord Montgomery Fiske, learning the myths involved with the Topaz of Knowledge, her victory over Yori hours earlier…

Glancing at her three Pokemon companions as they all feasted on their dinner, unconsciously, Kim found a warm, fond smile spread upon her pretty face. She felt content, exhilarated and excited about continuing her Pokemon journey… Yeah, Ron's idea for Kim to set off on this adventure was a truly wonderful one; it was a unique, engaging experience, and the perfect distraction from her dimensional dilemma.

Pepe glared at the other Pokemon occupying the room. He was used to being Gemini's only pet, lavished with attention, praise and toys on a regular basis… Master Gemini usually considered other Pokemon only to be tools, workers, so the Poochyena knew he was special. So why was Master currently indulging another Pokemon with adoring words?

Alone in his office apart from the two Pokemon present, Gemini's smile was almost splitting his chubby, unshaven face. Unaware of his pet Poochyena's jealous disdain as the small Bite Pokemon growled lowly in the room's corner, Gemini's single working eye was focused solely on the object being offered to him.

A yellow gemstone clasped in a razor-sharp pincer was all the unscrupulous leader of Team Gemini saw.

"Well done, Gliscor," the portly man chuckled. "I had a feeling Fiske would not succeed."

With his natural hand, Gemini carefully plucked the Topaz of Knowledge from the Fang-Scorpion Pokemon's claw. "I was sure you would come through for me, though." Studying the sparkling jewel for a moment, he then met Gliscor's slit-thin yellow eyes. "So what shall we target next, hmm? The Ruby of Emotion… or the Sapphire of Willpower?"

Next chapter: Kim welcomes a new addition to her team, and runs into Monique again.