No quirky openers, just this. Nice and boring.

*Another beautiful sunny day and after the Ricky's recent addition of Tortiss to his roster, the four have continued on towards Rock Out City.

"Hey look." Maddy pointed ahead where a small town was situated right on their path. It was a common enough town, a few stores and shops all on one main street while the houses sat on the outside of town. A few people were outside with their pokemon as one trainer and his Waddler were actually practicing complicated moves that could have only belonged in a contest. Maddy was immediately drawn to him. "Excuse me." Maddy said approaching the boy, he turned to face her that's when she got a good look at him. Just a tad taller than her, dirty blonde hair that had some volume to it, hazel eyes, tanned skin, wearing plain brown sneakers, matching cargo pants, and a light olive vest with a plain white-t underneath.

"Hi," he greeted politely. "Can I help you?"

"Cool Waddler." Julie said training her pokedex on the pokemon.

"Waddler the komodo pokemon, Waddler's are infamous for their speed and are cautioned for when approached in the wild as it is said better to try and battle them, than run away."

Indeed the long pokemon was quite an intimidating site. Standing at around three and a half feet high and eight feet long was just the tip of the ice berg. The scales, which ranged from dull red on its face and belly to lava red on its back and tail that ran all over its entire body, had tiny stubs in the middle that acted as a secondary armor. Its pokedex description showed no faults as it stood on four muscular legs, the two front feet displaying five wickedly sharp claws, all balanced by a powerful tail that was easily the length of its body. And if the picture couldn't get any worse the pokemon steadily drooled flammable saliva only licked up every now and then by the sickish yellow-orange tongue that occasionally flicked out the front of its mouth. The pupil's were large and black, only the fringe of white that was the iris gave any hint as to where it was actually looking.

"I couldn't help but notice you were practicing with your Waddler, are you training for a contest?" Maddy asked after the pokedex had finished its info on Waddler.

"That's right the annual town contest is this coming up so I was getting in some last minute practice with my buddy here." The boy said scratching the top of his Waddler's head.

"There's going to be a contest?" Maddy asked incredulously.

"Sure is," the boy replied. "Kinda an annual get together for the people around here. There's a ribbon and everything. Shoot sometimes we even get some pros out here."

"When does it start?" Maddy asked.

"So we can know when to leave." Julie whispered out the side of her mouth just loud enough so Vance could hear.

"It's in two days, you'd better sign up though if you want to enter." The boy replied. Maddy immediately turned puppy eyes to the rest of the group.

"Can we stay? Please?" Maddy begged.

"Absolutely not." Julie stated quite firmly by crossing her arms over her chest.

"Well I say yes." Vance retorted and threw a smug smile on his face just to anger Julie. Everyone turned to Ricky who had his chin in his hand, a sign of deep thought. They looked on expectantly for his answer.

"Well?" Julie asked growing impatient.

"Hm?" Ricky phased out of his thoughts and looked at her.

"What's it going to be stay or go?" Julie asked him again.

"I… no understand." He said slowly.

"What do you mean you don't understand? What were you thinking about?" Julie demanded.

"Oh, I think about hamburgers." Ricky smiled and rubbed his stomach with his hand in a circular motion. Julie wanted to strangle him, but luckily Vance intervened.

"Ricky can I see your translator?" he asked. Ricky complied and handed Vance the device. Vance typed in the question at hand and changed the language so Ricky could read it.

"Oh!" Ricky said finally understanding.

"Well?" Julie again asked.

"We stay!" He said happily.

"Alright!" Maddy hopped up in down, before quickly remembering the boy standing next to her. "Ahem sorry, by the way my name's Maddy and these are my friends Vance, Julie and Ricky."

"Nice to meet ya, I'm Luke." The boy now known as Luke shook the hands of each trainer.

"Now then why don't I show you guys where to sign up." Luke said as he recalled his Waddler back into its pokeball.

Luke led the way to the contest ring, or so it was now. It was actually just a field with the standard pokemon battle rectangle chalked out in white. There were now some portable stands put up for spectators as well as balloons, ribbons, and even a red curtain back drop for coordinators to stand behind before taking the stage.

"Simple I know, but it does wonders for the folks around here." Luke explained the set up to Vance. Julie was buying some popcorn while Ricky followed Maddy to the sign in booth.

"So do you live around here?" Vance asked trying to pass the time.

"Sure do, right over that hill as a matter of fact." Luke said pointing to a hill that backed part of the town.

"What's it like around here?"

"Not too bad, help out my folks with chores, hang out with some of my buddies and play games." Luke drawled on for another minute or so about some kind of new card game called duel beasts or battle monsters, Vance was too busy trying to recite the basic rules of the game to actually remember its name. Julie re-joined them with a bag of popcorn in hand. Vance's attention was instantly set on the food.

"Can I have some?" Vance asked as Julie popped a few pieces of pop corn in her mouth.

"Didn't you say something about wanting to stay?" She asked.

"Yeah?" Vance answered cautiously.

"Then no." He should've seen that coming. Maddy also reappeared.

"Alright, lucky number seven." She held up a plain white card with a big black seven in the middle.

"Guess you'll be going after me then." Luke pulled his folded paper out of his pocket, unfolding it to show he was third.

"Where's Ricky?" Vance asked noticing he wasn't next to Maddy. Everyone looked around trying to spot him.

"There he is." Julie pointed as he walked up to the group with none other than Tony beside him.

"Tony!" Maddy was especially surprised to see him here.

"Hey guys, long time no see." Tony said as him and Ricky stepped into the group.

"Let me guess, you're entering the contest too?" Julie said flatly. Tony smirked at her.

"Charming as ever I see. As a matter of fact I am entering the contest." He replied.

"Me too!" Maddy exclaimed a little more then over joyously. She instantly shrunk back a bit. "I mean… it's good, that you're entering the contest." She quietly added. Tony just smiled at her.

"So how'd you find Ricky?" Vance asked.

"Well first I saw him entering the contest," Tony started but was cut off as Julie started choking on a kernel. She gave herself one good hit in the stomach and regained herself before speaking.

"He did what!" She demanded as she loomed menacingly over Tony. The coordinator stammered out an explanation.

"D…don't lo…look at me, I was just trying to help." To most people who didn't know Julie and even some that knew her, when she was mad she was scary. Vance had known her long enough to know he could quell her anger, most of the time.

"Julie calm down," Vance said putting his hand on her shoulder and gently tugging back. "I mean let's hear Ricky's side of the story." She was still angry but turned to Ricky for an explanation.

"So Ricky, why did you enter in the contest?" Maddy asked.

"Yes I enter." He happily replied. Julie smacked her forehead with the palm of her hand.

"Ricky you're translator." Vance held out his hand. Ricky quickly complied and gave him the device. Vance typed in 'Why did you enter the contest?' changed the language, and handed it back to Ricky.

"Oh!" He said now understanding. "I want to make," he fumbled around for the word. "Good with my pokemon."

"Huh?" Everyone but Tony said.

"He means he wants to make a stronger bond with his pokemon." Tony explained. Ricky nodded.

"Yes, bond, good bond." Ricky repeated.

"But you're a pokemon trainer," Julie was truly dumbfounded. "How do you be both a coordinator and a trainer?" She saw no logic in his actions.

"I guess some people are just multi talented." Maddy chimed in, she for one was glad someone else in their group felt at least somewhat similar to how she felt.

"Whatever, it's his time he can waste it however he wants." Julie shrugged, not bothering to give the subject more thought.

"Have you ever entered in a contest before?" Vance asked.

"No, but I watch." Ricky replied.

"So what number are you Ricky?" Luke asked. Ricky pulled out his card with a big black eight on it. "Number eight eh? Well alright."

"So did you just get here Tony?" Maddy asked.

"Shoot, I wish." Luke cut in. "If he had things would've been pretty peaceful around here the past few days." He shot a joking smile at Tony.

"I guess I have made a bit of a commotion." Tony sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. "To answer your question, no I arrived a few days ago to sign in first."

"Half the town thought we were having freak thunderstorms the first couple days because of him and his Tigevolt shootin' off more electricity than a lighting storm." Luke added.

"So you've been practicing?" Maddy asked.

"Always." Tony replied. "What about you?" He immediately regretted saying it as Maddy cast a depressed glance at the ground. Tony wasn't the only one to notice it and Luke quickly intervened.

"It's still about noon, what's say I help you practice for a bit?" He offered.

"You mean it?" Maddy's attitude shifted back.


"I can help out too if you want." Tony quickly offered. Maddy was getting extremely excited.

"Wait," She turned to their newest coordinator. "Can Ricky come too?" Luke beat Tony to the punch.

"The more the merrier."

*The group set out into the short grass fields that surrounded the town. After teaching Ricky the basics of the rules, which took over half an hour just to get him to understand, everyone concluded it was time for some actual practice.

"Alright, first you need to choose what pokemon you're going to use in each part of the contest." Tony said as he and Luke stood across the field from Ricky and Maddy. Vance and Julie sat underneath a tree nearby.

"Let's go Leafbit." Maddy said choosing Leafbit onto the field. The tiny quadruped appeared on the field, asleep.

"Go Croconaw." Ricky chose Croconaw and unlike Leafbit, was completely awake and ready.

"I'll choose my Waddler." Luke threw a pokeball into the air and out popped his fiery pokemon.

"And I'll choose Tigevolt." Tony said releasing the sizeable thunder cat which let loose a mighty roar.

"Ok, so what's first?" Maddy asked.

"First of all you have to understand that coordinators don't share their performances and tactics with each other." Tony explained.

"Right, if a magician went around telling everyone how their magic was done then the interest would be lost. The same goes for coordinating." Luke added.

"So what we're going to do is have a battle." Tony finished.

"A battle?" Maddy asked.

"A battle!" Julie straightened up.

"Right, while we can't show you our techniques," Tony started.

"We can show you the power and limits of your pokemon, giving you a better understanding of what you can do." Luke finished. Maddy was still a bit tentative when it came to battling.

"And to make this interesting we'll make it a two on two," Tony explained. "You and Ricky against Luke and me."

"Alright, now things are getting good." Julie was sitting straight up as was Vance.

"Ok!" Ricky agreed to the challenge. He looked to Maddy who was still a bit worried. "Maddy," He said getting her attention. "It alright, we battle friends." Ricky told her. Maddy, although still unsure, nodded in agreement.

"Vance, you mind startin' us off?" Luke asked.

"This will be a two on two pokemon battle, no time limit." Vance repeated the simple rules. "Let the battle begin!"

"Waddler Flamethrower!"

"Tigevolt Thunderbolt!" Luke and Tony were immediately on the offensive. Waddler spit a scorching Flamethrower attack at Leafbit while Tigevolt sent a jolting Thunderbolt towards Croconaw.

"Croconaw Water Gun!" Ricky went right into the fray using Croconaw's Water Gun to intercept and cancel out the Flamethrower. Maddy however hesitated, allowing the Thunderbolt to strike Croconaw in force. "Croconaw!" Ricky's worries were misplaced however as the pudgy alligator stood strong even with a direct hit.

"Maddy, Ricky needs your help!" Vance called from the sidelines. This caught her attention and she focused on helping Ricky.

"Right, Leafbit use Razor Leaf on Tigevolt!" Leafbit spun as Maddy ordered and sent three whirling Razor Leaves at Tigevolt.

"Intercept them Waddler!" Luke called out. Waddler used an Ember attack with surreal accuracy, burning each leaf mid flight.

"You've got to be careful when attacking an opponent in a contest, when moves get intercepted and canceled out like that it'll reduce your points." Tony explained. Maddy again grew worried, so far all she had battled was twice and neither had relied on her being careful with her moves.

"Ok, no counter then." Ricky explained in a confident tone. Maddy looked to him for the answer. "Follow same." He explained to her even though he made no sense whatsoever. "Croconaw Bite!" The big jaw pokemon lived up to its name, snapping its jaws twice before charging Waddler with its gaping maw. Maddy quickly understood and followed suit.

"Leafbit use Tackle!" Leafbit acknowledged and ran at the much larger cat pokemon.

"Waddler you know what to do!" Luke wasn't worried in the least as Waddler turned its body so Croconaw chomped on its tail. Croconaw obliged to the offered tail and chomped on it with force, Waddler in turn almost screeched as it underestimated the biting power, but collected itself quickly. Tony gave no order and let Leafbit's Tackle hit home. Maddy and Ricky both gave a cheer as their attacks struck, they had however fallen directly into the tow coordinators traps.

Croconaw's expression showed mild displeasure and soon pain as it released Waddler's tail and showed the nasty lumps and scratches on its tongue. Leafbit in turn was knocked back from the sheer bulk of Tigevolt, its tackle doing little more than bothering it. Leafbit landed next to Croconaw only to have thin lines of electricity course over its body.

"What happened?" Maddy asked confused about how their attacks had gone wrong even in a physical hit.

"You can't just rely on conventional attacks to get the job done." Luke explained.

"What you just witnessed were our static defenses, Waddler's ability 'rough skin' that does damage to an opponent whenever direct touch is made and Tigevolt's 'static' that has a chance to paralyze opponents whenever direct touch is made." Tony finished up.

Both Croconaw and Leafbit were badly hurt and both of the more experienced coordinators knew that the battle was over. "Alright that's enough." Luke said to which Tony nodded in agreement.

"But they're both still standing, you can't end the battle now!" Julie complained.

"This battle was to show what their pokemon were capable of, now that they've had a better glimpse of what they can do there's no need to continue." Tony stated. Julie pouted. 'Coordinators.' She thought to herself.

As the evening drew closer everyone started heading back to town. Julie was more interested in some dinner than anything, while Vance and Luke kept trying to explain to Ricky why his Hamirhead's Splash attack was not an ideal move for a contest. That left Maddy reeling in her thoughts of how she had let her Leafbit down today and although she hid her outward appearance pretty well, it was not enough to escape Tony's sight.

"Everything alright?" he asked as they all neared the pokemon center. She snapped out of her thoughts to give a quick reply.

"Fine." She added with a slight pep in her voice to hopefully dissuade further prodding. Tony however could see right through her ploy.

"You can tell me, what's on your mind?" He asked. Maddy let the rest of the group walk slightly ahead of them so she could talk to Tony a bit more privately.

"It's just that, I've been studying up on how to be a coordinator for most of my life, now I don't even know if I'm cut out for it." She said admitting her fears.

"Maddy," they stopped and faced one another. "I wasn't always this good you know." That caught Maddy by surprise.

"You?" She asked skeptically. "Not good at coordinating? That seems hard to believe." She scoffed, something she must have picked up from Julie.

"It's true," Tony continued. "It took me years of hard work and practice to be where I'm at now."

"Too bad I don't have years to prepare for the contest." She slumped her shoulders. Tony looked at her sympathetically.

"You do have one advantage that I never had," He said.

"What's that?"

"You have a good group of friends to help you," He said glancing at the group of friends ahead of them. "Mostly." He joked motioning towards Julie. That caused a small chuckle from Maddy. "All I had was my dad, but it seems he was really my teacher more than anything."

"Who's your dad?" She asked.

"That's another story," He quickly dismissed the subject, but in a polite way. "But I know you have the spirit of a coordinator in you, just believe in yourself." Maddy felt a great weight lift from her shoulders.

'The power of a few words.' She thought to herself and the two coordinators quickly caught up to the rest of their group who stood at the entrance of the pokemon center.

"If you guys wanted to go and make out that's fine, but don't expect us to wait patiently out here in the cold." Julie said with almost truthful sincerity. Tony and Maddy immediately grew red.

"We weren't making out!" Maddy strongly defended herself. The rest of the group chuckled at the scuffle.

"Alright ladies n' gents I'm heading out, I'll see you guys more tomorrow." Luke said.

"Good night." Ricky called out and over enthusiastically waved as Luke began walking away. After Luke left the rest of the group decided dinner had waited long enough and they all went into the Pokemon Center to find themselves some nourishment. Maddy was anxious for the next day, where she could prove to herself that she could be a coordinator.

Reach for Halo Reach. Yea, I just did advertise for free.