In only the matter of one day had the duo made it to Ecruteak. They wasted no time moving through the south side of the city, hoping to get to Cherrygrove as fast as they could. They passed by the gym, the Pokémon Center, and eventually Verde's grandmother's hotel.

"Wait!" a voice called. The two turned to see Verde's head poking out of the front window. He had a huge smile on his face, which scared Spade.

"Verde!" Abby screamed, waving her arm.

Verde ran from his hotel and gave Abby a hug. He looked at Spade and decided not to give him one, seeing how confused Spade already looked.

"So, what are you guys doing back here?" he asked.

"Spade is going to be challenging Fai from Cherrgrove. It'll be his eighth gym badge!" Abby explained.

Verde rubbed his chin. "Ah… Fai is a strong battler. Good luck."

"It's going to take us forever to get there, though," Spade mumbled.

"Not if you take a shortcut!" Verde chimed. "I can show you a shortcut to Violet city."

Spade and Abby smiled. "That'd be great!"

"But on one condition," Verde started. "I want a battle against Spade. I want to see how far you've come. I think a one-on-one battle would suffice."

Spade nodded and grinned. "Sounds good to me! I need a good battle to get me pumped up!"

The group found a small clearing near the entrance of Ecruteak. The two stared daggers at one another, a strict respect showed between them.

"I'll be using Charger," Verde announced, tossing his Poké Ball onto the field. Charger appeared, huffing while gliding to the ground. He blew out smoke from his nostrils.

"Let's go, Monferno!" Spade ordered, throwing his Poké Ball into the air. Monferno appeared and hopped around, trying to get pumped for the match.

"You may have the first attack," Verde said.

Spade nodded and didn't argue. Without hesitation, he made his move. "Mach Punch!"

Monferno darted across the field and jabbed, smashing his fist as hard as he could into Charger's jaw. The giant Charizard wavered a little bit, but wasn't even close to done.

"Dragon Tail!" Verde called.

Charizard spun around, hoping to smash his tail into Monferno, but Monferno was too quick. Without needing Spade's orders, Monferno dug into the ground, disappearing from everyone's sight.

"Let's try our new move! Monferno, ThunderPunch!"

Monferno blew up from the ground and lunged his electrified fist into Charger. Charger flew into the air, but caught himself and readied his next attack.

"Flamethrower!" Verde ordered.

"Get around it with Flame Wheel!"

Flames bellowed from the dragon's mouth, but Monferno was fast. He became engulfed in flames and wheeled himself around the attack, eventually shooting into the air, colliding with Charizard.

"He might actually be able to beat Verde," Abby told Nika quietly. The small Eevee simply smiled.

Verde grinned. "Time to end this! Charger, use Dragon Rage!"

Before Monferno could escape, Charizard grabbed ahold of his arm. He gaped open his mouth, and a blue flame appeared. With a nod of his head, he released the flame onto Monferno, crushing him against the ground. When the smoke cleared, Monferno was stuck into the ground, unconscious.

Spade walked forward and returned Monferno back into his ball. He glanced up at Verde and bit his lip. "I didn't see that one coming. I thought I had you."

"If I can teach you anything right now, it'd be that you should always expect the unexpected," Verde said with a smiled. "Now, let's get you two to Violet!"

Verde showed the duo through the route that Spade had been trampled at. Spade held his arm close to his body, a pain surging through him and small flashbacks of the Stantler coming back. The route was shorter than they thought, and the shortcut wasn't complicated at all.

"You just go through here, and you'll be in Violet in just thirty minutes," Verde explained, pointing down a forested path.

Spade nodded. "Are you going to the Silver Conference to watch me?"

"I will try my hardest to be there. I have a lot of studying and training to do!"

"What for?" Abby asked.

Verde shook his head. "It'll be a surprise!"

"We'll be seeing you," Spade said, turning to walk down the path.

Abby and Verde said their goodbyes, and she followed Spade. Verde stood, watching them until he was out of sight.

"I can't believe that we'll be in Violet so soon!"

"Yeah, which means that we're closer to my next gym badge!" Spade said with a grin.

"Have I ever told you about my contest in Violet?" Abby asked.

"Yes," Spade answered. She had never told him, but he didn't really care and didn't want to listen to her talk about it.

"I don't think I have!" Abby said with a smile. "It was my very first contest. I had no idea how I would do."

I had entered into Violet City and heard of the contest really quickly. I had three days to prepare, and since it was going to be my first, I trained like crazy. I researched different battling strategies, learned my Pokémon's weaknesses inside and out, and watched old videos of coordinators and their Pokémon to get ideas. It was the hardest I've ever worked for a contest.

Then the day came.

I registered and left for the locker room as quickly as I could. I watched on the television while all of the other trainers performed, then it occurred to me. None of my Pokémon had ever been on stage. And not just that; I didn't know who I'd use.

As time went by, and trainers went to perform, I frantically went over my options. I only had Sam, Pinki, and Shin at the time. I promised Sam that I'd include him in my first battle, so all that was left was my decision for the appeals round.

Before I could make a final decision, my name was called. I was led down a hallway where I could hear cheers from the other side. They opened my curtain and introduced me.

I walked onto the stage, my body shaking more nervously than ever before. The judges and crowd eyed me down. In a moment of surprise, I just grabbed a Poké Ball from my belt. I tossed it into the air, and was surprised to see none other than Pinki Pie.

At first, I was scared to see Pinki on stage. I had realized that going with Shin, a shiny Pokémon, would have been a way better way to introduce myself. I also had always taken Pinki as more of the nervous Pokémon. Shin was way more relaxed.

I panicked. But what could I do now? I had already made my decision, and if I wanted to move on, I'd have to keep pushing forward.

Without any more delay, I ordered Pinki to start her appeal. She started with a Flame Charge. I didn't have her attack, but only show her power. Her flames erupted from her back, making her seem a lot less cute. But that is what I wanted. I didn't want people to see a normal, cute Ponyta. I wanted a powerful Ponyta to be displayed.

Then I ordered for a Stomp attack. It was going to be a simple, but powerful, ending. Pinki threw herself into the air and smashed her legs into the ground, destroying all of the larger flames around her. The ashes sparkled down onto the stage, glittering red off of the lights. It was so beautiful.

We bowed at the crowd and judges then left for the locker room. A lot of the coordinators congratulated me and praised my work.

I had gone from being nervous, to being so confident in my abilities. It was definitely a game changer. I knew that if I moved onto the next round, I could easily win it all.

Then the results came up. All of my confidence that I had just gained left me. I felt so horrible; like I could throw up at any moment.

Four cards appeared on the screen, and I watched as the flipped over slowly. It probably wasn't as slow as I thought, but it felt like a whole minute before they revealed who would be going on. Luckily, my face appeared at the bottom corner. I had actually made it.

We were given a five minute intermission, like usual, so I had time to give a pep talk to Sam. It seemed a lot shorter than I thought it was, and I thought that maybe I couldn't pump up Sam enough. The buzzer went off, and to my surprise, I was up first!

I remember that my opponent was a really smelly boy. He looked like he hadn't showered in weeks. How he got to the second round was way beyond me. And he had a Pokémon to match; a Grimer.

The battle was hard, and the coordinator clearly never thought out any battling combos. Nothing that he was doing was very appealing, but he was able to hurt Sam. He was put into a poisoned state, and there was no way that I could out power my opponent. If I was going to win, I'd have to be appealing.

So, we started with a Pedal Dance. The flowers shrouded Sam, confusing Grimer and his trainer. Then when the pedals disappeared, Sam was gone too. From the air, Sam dropped. He released his vines and started to smack Grimer as hard as he could, each time, pedals flying. The crowd was amazed, and their points started to falter. In only a matter of minutes, we were able to deplete their points completely.

The buzzer went off, and I fell to my knees. I didn't believe it. I won my first official battle. But it wasn't over yet. I had a real challenge ahead of me, and I was ready.

Back in the locker room, I was able to heal up Sam. I didn't want the poison status to linger, and luckily, I was prepared with Antidote.

The next battle took place, and I was able to watch over the two coordinators. I studied everything: their Pokémon, their techniques, and their delivery. I had gotten too far to lose. And since this was my first contest, I wasn't going to.

My foe was going to be a challenge. He had a Persian that knew a multitude of attacks. I would have to battle smart if I wanted to win. And I wanted to win.

They called us to the stage, and the rumble from the crowd was even worse this time. I remember walking down the hallway and feeling it all. I felt like I could've thrown up at any time. But I had to remain calm.

We both walked onto the stage, and I was finally able to take in my opponent. She stood proud, much like her Persian. Her body was sleek, and she looked as though she had been doing this for awhile. Her stance was much more relaxed than mine. Once again, I felt sick.

Then Sam turned it all around for me. Without me even having to command him too, he walked onto the stage and cried out. He was proud of his victory from before, and I needed to feed off of that energy.

They announced the rules of the match one more time and showed off the ribbon that we'd win. And with that, the match started.

Before I could even think about what we needed to do, she ordered her attack. It was one of the many diverse attacks that her Persian knew. And within a matter of seconds, electricity was bound towards my poor little Bulbasaur. They zapped into him, paralyzing him on the spot. That was two status conditions that he had to fight through in one day.

I remember Sam crying out in pain, and all of my hype leaving me in an instance. I had to be able to fight through this, but maybe the paralysis was too much. But he was able to fight through for me.

In an instant, Sam let loose a few leaves into the air. But instead of hitting Persian, they went above her. My opponent laughed it off and ordered for a Take Down. Persian darted across the field, but came to a sudden spot. Everyone, including myself, were confused.

Then I figured it out. Persian looked like she was struggling, and from her fur, soft purple sparkles could be seen. Within the Razor Leaf attack, Sam had snuck in a PoisonPowder!

That was my chance. I gave Sam my commands, and he let loose another Razor Leaf. The leaves pelted into Persian, tossing her back.

That wasn't enough to win, though. Persian was ordered to do a Dark Pulse, and she complied. The lights flickered on and off in the arena, and Persian unleashed a black energy at Sam. My Pokémon was knocked back to my feet, and for a moment, I thought he was done for.

Sam crawled back to his feet and cried into the air. He was ready to keep fighting, so I gave him his next order. Take Down it was. Bulbasaur bounded down the field, ready to do damage.

In an instance, Persian was ordered to do a Bubblebeam. The strong attack was almost enough to push Sam back, but not quite enough! Sam broke through the attack completely and checked Persian into the wall behind her trainer.

It was time for me to finish it. I ordered a Vine Whip, and Sam lifted Persian into the air. He tossed her, and she crashed hard onto the ground. When the debris cleared, Persian was revealed, laying still.

The buzzer sounded, and the match was called. The announcer started to scream, making the ground shake and the crowd go nuts. It took me a few moments, but I had finally realized it. I had won. I had really won my first ribbon.

They let confetti fall from the ceiling, and handed me my ribbon. My opponent congratulated me, and I was able to meet the judges.

But none of that mattered to me at the moment. I had actually won my ribbon. It was my start to being a great coordinator.

"I guess that's a cool story," Spade said unenthusiastically.

"Were you even listening?" Abby had taken note of Spade flipping through his evolution book.

Spade smiled. "Nope!"

A/N Kind of a different chapter. But I decided to do something different. And I liked writing in first person! It was fun!