Kyara yawned and stretched in her bed. The morning sun was streaming through her window, lighting up the motes that hung in the air, appearing like glitter floating leisurely around her room. It was a humid morning, and the tree branches growing throughout her room were shivering softly in a breeze. As she sat up, she gathered her hip-length rust-coloured hair into a loose ponytail, and yawned once more. She got off the bed and smiled as her feet touched the cool wood of the floor. The wide windows, which looked out to the other tree houses, had various Pokémon perched along the sills. It was a beautiful morning, and bird Pokémon could be heard calling out to each other in high singing voices. She stood in the windowless corner of her room and slid out of her pyjamas and into her usual get-up. First came the steel-blue jeans and the sleeveless white v-neck. Then the brown leather belt with the golden buckle and the brown forearm wraps tied with black string. On went the black fingerless gloves and the golden bangles, two for each arm. She slipped on her blue denim sleeveless vest, clipped her silver sleepers into her ears and tied her black cloth chocker around her neck. She turned and admired the chocker in the mirror. It bore a round, shiny lapis lazuli stone, her family's symbol. The family of Lazul. She took a moment to bring some order to her hair. It was short around the sides and back, and stuck up pixie-like. She pushed her fringe into its normal side-fringe position and rubbed the last of the sleep out of her sky-blue eyes. Kyara walked to the doorway and looked out into the forest. The people of the city were walking along the rope bridges that we suspended between the trees, some were even jumping from branch to branch. Although that was mostly the teenagers. Kyara was just about to step out onto the bridge when she remembered she'd left her brown-rimmed goggles on the vanity table. She raced over and popped them onto her head before pelting along the bridge, laughing as it rocked and swayed under her bare feet. The bridge connected to the main house, which practically grew on the trunk of the huge tree. Kyara's room was out on a thick branch, as was the rest of the family's rooms. She entered the doorway and laughed as she recognised who was waiting for her inside.

"Whatcha doing, Stormy?" she asked in a playful tone, and the Absol, Stormheart, butted her side with his white-furred head. Kyara ruffled his white mane and he looked happily up at his trainer. He had been with Kyara since she was nine, when she had rescued him from a storm. She had been out exploring with her Wurmple when she met an Absol and her two cubs in a fierce storm. The Wurmple and one of the cubs were blown away. The two took shelter and were found later suffering hypothermia. Unfortunately Wurmple didn't make it. Mother Absol was so grateful that the Lazul family brought him back to health, that when the young cub wanted to stay with Kyara, she let him. Kyara loved the fact that her Absol was special. He didn't have the red eyes Absol normally have. Instead, Stormheart had blue eyes, the same sky blue the Kyara herself had. And just to make him even easier to recognise from wild Absol, she had given him a bangle, which he wore around the base of the horn on his head.

As the two were greeting each other, Rita, Kyara's mum, walked in from the healing room. She was carrying a small Tailow in her arms. Kyara's family looked after sick or injured or orphaned Pokémon. They had a rule that the Pokémon they looked after could only be kept if they were unable to support themselves back in the wild, or if the Pokémon itself wanted to stay. Rita was a well trained doctor and Kyara's father Kane was a Ranger who went searching for orphaned or sick Pokémon. Following behind Rita was her two Pokémon, Aya the Kirlia and Sharma the Gardevoir.

"Good morning Kyara!" Rita said with a smile. Kyara smiled back and walked to the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator and retrieved the milk. The kitchen was just a portion of the main room that had been cut off by a bench and filled with the appliances necessary. While Kyara went about making her breakfast, her other siblings entered the room with their Pokémon.

First came Flora Lazul, Kyara's older sister, 17. She had the family trait of rust-red coloured hair, freckles and blue eyes, and she was quite fit from living in Fortree. She held in her arms a small Kecleon, who had been staying with the family for three years, training to get back to full health. Behind her was Sasha, holding her two-year old brother Durres, in her arms. Sasha's Nincada was trailing behind, a happy look on its face. Sasha was going on her Gym Leader journey soon, especially since she just turned 11. She was excited, as the start of her journey was only two days away. Flora had challenged two gym leaders, including Winona of Fortree, but she returned when she found the sickly Kecleon. Kyara didn't really want to leave Fortree just to win badges, because she felt obliged to stay and help her parents. But now her little sister was leaving, she'd decided it was time to go explore the world. All but Kane settled down to eat breakfast, as he was still out on a mission. Sasha wouldn't stop talking about how excited she was, and Rita couldn't stop gushing with pride.

After eating, Kyara gave Stormheart a special berry mix that boosts energy and tastes good. Kyara had to do stop herself from eating some. Then, the two of them took the ramp down to the forest floor. Kyara sat down to put on her boots. They were half-shin high, brown, lace up boots with a buckle at the top. The soles were thick and black, and the toe cap was shiny steel. She leaped to her feet and raced off through the trees, with Stormheart hard at her heels. She dodged through some underbrush and re-emerged in a clearing. The trees of Fortree towered above her, vines draping down towards the forest floor. Kyara headed towards the one of the only grounded buildings in the city. It was mostly grey, but had a brown roof, and it was a fair size. Kyara entered the gym and found Winona at the foyer, talking to a trainer at the reception desk.

"Please! I have a time limit!" the new trainer said. He looked about 13, Kyara's age; he was not very tall, but he had a very muscular build for his age. He wore a plain green t-shirt with a red jacket over the top. His black shorts went to his knees and his expensive looking runners hugged his feet with accuracy only money can buy. But the most striking thing about him was his hair. It was yellow blonde. He had a fringe that lengthened down the bridge of his nose, and long bangs in front of his ears that reached his shoulders. The rest of his hair was styled like that of a Spearow; spiked out at the top. Perched on his shoulder was a Spearow to complete the look.

Winona shook her head.

"Sorry, you have to come back later. I don't start accepting challengers until I'm ready. The gym is still a mess from the last battle," she explained. Then she thought for a second.

"You can battle me if you help the repair team fix the gym hall," she finished and walked towards the gym entrance. She spotted Kyara and smiled.

"Hi Kyara! Ready for our battle tomorrow? I heard you were leaving before your sister."

"Yeah. I didn't want to steal her thunder."

"I hope your Stormheart has improved. I tell you what. I'll judge you one vs. one okay? I know you don't have any other Pokémon."

"Wow, thanks!"

"No need to thank me. It's the least I can do for what your family did for my Swablu."

With that, she walked outside into the glorious morning in the forest. Kyara turned to see the boy glowering at her.

"Hey there. So you're going to help me with the cleanup?"

The boy stopped glaring and nodded. He looked a bit too preppy for Kyara's taste. Even the Spearow seemed to smell of money.

"It would seem so. I'm Joseph Chanson, Spearow Trainer."

"Kyara Lazul. Um, Absol trainer?" she said, almost as a question. Stormheart stood proudly at her side, his white fur surprisingly clean for a forest Pokémon. Joseph grimaced.

"When you say you are a certain Pokémon trainer, it usually means that you train many of that kind," he commented before turning and walking into the gym hall. Kyara knew this guy would get annoying. But she decided not to judge him just yet.

The hall truly was a mess. The hall was as a general rule, a neat, barren place. But the floor was ploughed and crumbled, with rock jutting out in random directions. The walls were covering in what appeared to be mud, but it hadn't dried yet. Joseph raised an eyebrow, and then proceeded to grab the pokéballs strapped to his waist. He threw six into the air and called out in a clear voice, "Sae, Kai, Mia, Myra, Barron and Harding. Gust!"

Instantly, all the mud on the walls hardened. He then ordered the six Spearow to begin scraping off the mud. They set to work with their beaks and talons, chipping away at the patches. Kyara was not at all amused. It would've been easier for the birds to wipe the mud off with their feathers, not chip away at dry cakes. Instead, the trainer had decided to not let his precious birds get muddy. Kyara rolled her eyes and walked to the stands. Behind a panel on the wall there were three pokéballs. Kyara grabbed them all and released the Pokémon inside. It was three Geodude.

"You guys know what to do!" she shouted as she released them. The Pokémon came out and instantly started reshaping the floor. She called out directions from a distance and skilfully directed them, fixing the floor in less than an hour. Joseph was sitting in the stands brushing dust from one of his Spearow. He made a 'hmph' noise and walked out to wait in the lobby. Kyara watched him go with dislike. He was definitely annoying. She made sure the three Geodude were back in their place and the mud was completely scraped off the walls, then she walked out into the lobby. She didn't even bother saying goodbye to the trainer. He wasn't looking for a wave or anything anyway.

Kyara headed out to Route 120 with Stormheart. She couldn't wait for Stormheart to grow a little more, and then they could travel long distance. Stormheart just wasn't quite strong enough to carry Kyara and keep constant speed. Kyara stopped to catch her breath. Stormheart stopped by her side and looked at her with his big blue eyes. He grinned, and Kyara couldn't help but smile back. She continued on her way through the long grass. It was nearing midday when they stopped in the long grass. Kyara liked the way the grass swayed in unison in the breeze, forming a sea of green around her and her Pokémon. The sky was pristine blue and the only cloud to be seen was so white and fluffy it looked like an Altaria's wings. Which it probably was. Stormheart and Kyara took a moment to listen to the flow of the Pokémon, water, grass and wind around them. Then, Kyara stood abruptly, swept her runt-coloured fringe back and pointed at a moving patch of grass.

"Stormheart, Quick Attack!"

Stormheart was there is a flash, and caught the surprised Poochyena in the side. It tumbled, but was quickly on its feet with its tail fur bristling.

"I saw you spying on me. You have been every time I've come out here for the past week!" she accused, pointing a finger. The Poochyena seemed to smirk and raced forward for a Tackle attack.

"Stormheart, use that move we learnt yesterday!" she shouted, the adrenalin of the battle making her a little cocky. "Bite!"

Stormheart dodged past the Poochyena and opened its jaws wide. It leaped in and gave the smaller Pokémon a full-fanged bite to its body. The Poochyena took the brunt of the attack, but managed to stand up once the Absol had dropped it. Stormheart quickly leaped back to Kyara's side and watched the Pokémon stagger slightly. Then it turned its head around and pulled an Oran berry from its tail. It ate the berry, and then proceeded to slide back into the grass' shadows. That swift movement alerted Kyara she had underestimated the Pokémon. Dark type moves like Bite only have minimal effect on other Dark types, and Kyara knew this. She just thought the Poochyena was weaker than it really was. Now the Poochyena had fled into the grass' shadows once more and gotten away. Kyara screamed in frustration. Stormheart gave her a sympathetic look. They spent the rest of the afternoon searching the grass and training. By the time the sun was sinking well below the tree line, Kyara was ready to give up. Stormheart wanted to stay out and find the foe who had escaped, by Kyara knew they had to prepare for tomorrow.

"How could I be so arrogant!" she asked Stormheart. "Oh well, we'll just have to come back tomorrow before we leave."

The pair made their way back to Fortree at a sprint. They passed several other trainers heading back for the night, but when they reached the outskirts of the city, Kyara spotted Joseph. He too had spotted the red haired girl and her Absol. He shrugged at her smiled greeting, unsettling the Spearow on his shoulder.

"Good luck tomorrow," he said, before flashing his Feather Badge. Kyara was indeed surprised, but she managed to keep it hidden.

"Thanks," she replied. He grunted and tended to his Spearow. Only then did she notice how beat up the Spearow was. She hesitated then stepped closer.

"My family cares for injured Pokémon. My mother has great healing skills. We could help you with your Spearow," she offered. A strange look fell over Joseph's face. But as quickly as it had come, it was gone.

"No, I'm fine," he replied gruffly, but then added, "But thanks," and carried his Spearow towards the city Pokémon Centre.

By the time Kyara climbed the main tree to her house and sat down for dinner, she was getting anxious about tomorrow. Not only did she have to leave home, but she had to defeat Winona. If she couldn't do that, her parents were not going to let her go on her own. She would be forced to travel with her sister and her two other friends. Kyara wouldn't mind their company, but she wanted to meet new friends and go her own way. Kyara finished her meal with a glass of Moo Moo Milk, then raced about the house like an Electrike on a coffee high. She packed all the useful items she could think of: plenty of rope, food, clothes, Repel, Potions, berries and heaps of Pokéballs. After she had packed everything she would need, she realised she had too much to carry and started again. When she finally finished, she was left with a black shoulder bag that was about the same size as her torso. It was a comfortable weight and it held everything she would need. She also prepared a brown waterskin, which held about two or three litres of water. Last of all, she dusted off her sister's Pokéball belt, which held six pokéballs at the ready. She attached Stormheart's ball straight away, thinking there may be times when carrying him in a pokéball may be necessary. Kyara made sure her clothes were ready for her early start tomorrow and went over the bridge to her room. It was a surprisingly cool night, which brought the promise of rain upon the breeze. The Nincada were singing quietly and in the distance, Mightyena could be heard howling. Kyara remembered that she had to catch the Poochyena before she left. She made a mental note and drifted off to sleep.