This takes place after episode 553 "Fighting Fear with Fear"

A huge thanks to Hero of Strawberries for helping me find the episodes that I needed to research this arc and also a big thanks to Zarrelion and REV6Pilot my betas.

I do not own Pokemon, but if I did, I'd animate everything I've done in this series, or at least get someone to help me do that. (Can't draw to save my life)

Doing this chapter was kinda fun and difficult in the sense that I felt like a detective, piecing together different bits of information to come up with a plausible explanation for why certain things in the Sinnoh region happened in the first place. Each arc has had it's own flavor to it, and I can already tell what this one will be like. Sorry for taking so long to get this out, this semester has been pretty rough with me.

August 16

The full moon shone down on a darkened path, empty and silent. Countless stars that once filled the ebon sea of the night sky began to fade into the darkness. Although distant, the city's light pollution still weeded out the weaker stars, leaving the brightest to shine like beacons in the sky. The soft staccato crunch of gravel underfoot broke the veil of silence as Gary Oak sluggishly trekked through the forest.

Half-lidded eyes and aching feet ate at his resolve to continue walking, the weight of the contents in his backpack feeling as though they had doubled in the last minute alone. A set of golden rings pierced through the surrounding gloom doused by the gentle light of the full moon. Umbreon's crimson stare settled onto Gary for what seemed like the umpteenth time.

Despite having traveled across two entire regions in his earlier years, the fatigue of walking for several hours through the night was catching up with the young Pokémon researcher. He had summoned Umbreon to keep him company and offer him some protection. Exhaustion had dulled his senses and movements, making him vulnerable to any possible attackers that might be in the area.

The golden glowing rings on her fur warded off any wild Pokémon in the vicinity through fear alone. No matter how many times she scanned the woods around them, she found nothing but darkness and silence. She had watched Gary do nothing but stumble and yawn, mixing it up every once in a while with a tired but tender glance at her.

The moonlight Pokémon sidled up next to him, nuzzling against his pant leg to get his attention. When her efforts failed, she proceeded to nip him, not hard enough to break the skin, but enough for him to feel the sting through his violet jeans. The brunette stumbled, his weary stare settling on the dark Eeveelution.

"What's the matter, Umbreon?" he asked with a barely stifled yawn. His half-lidded eyes shifted from tree to tree, not finding anything amiss, eventually landing back on her.

Umbreon lowered herself to the ground, patting the dirt with her right paw as she stared at him. Gary shook his head with an understanding smile. "I can't stop to rest now, Umbreon, it'll only be a little further before we reach the hotel in Hearthome City."

Umbreon refused to move an inch. The glare she gave Gary was one he knew all too well; she might as well have used Mean Look.

"All right, I'll rest for five minutes, okay? Just five," Gary said with a sigh and a stifled yawn. Umbreon nodded, her crimson stare tracing his movements.

Gary didn't really lower himself down to the ground as he did collapse when his legs buckled beneath him. He didn't even have to turn his head see Umbreon already sporting a victorious "I told you so" smile. In fact, he could've sworn he could hear her smile stretch across her face.

With a grunt Gary slipped the backpack off his shoulders, a cool breeze sending chills through his spine as his sweat soaked back, now exposed to the world, took it in. His black shirt clung to his skin, the sweat having permeated through the cotton. The beads of sweat that had formed along his brow had migrated across his face, several dangling precariously on the edge of his chin and the tip of his nose.

Gary undid the buckle of the hip sack around his waist, laying it down beside his backpack. Umbreon stared with mild interest as her master zipped each open and dumped the contents down on the hard packed dirt. There were several multicolored scales, an assortment of cubes and stones, and what appeared to be a random collection of items that ranged from a small iron cylinder to a ragged piece of dark cloth.

Although radically different to one another, each of them served the same purpose; each of them held the key to a certain Pokémon's evolution. They were part of his newest mission, a mission he had received from Professor Rowan some time ago.

It had all begun nearly a year and a half ago, on Sayda Island, when he and Dora had successfully resurrected an Aerodactyl from a fossilized egg and a piece of amber he had found on his journey as a trainer. News of his achievement spread quickly throughout the regions, and it wasn't long before he received a letter with an invitation and an "all expenses paid" ticket to the Sinnoh region from Dr. Kenzo, head of Oreburgh City's Mining Museum.

Dora insisted he go: she was content with staying behind on the island to take care of her little sister Crystal and their research projects. Once Gary was sure things would run smoothly in his absence, he had Jared take him to the nearest airport. Before he knew it, his shoes had met Sinnoh's soil.

For someone like him, who wanted to know as much as possible about prehistoric Pokémon, a tour through the Oreburgh Mining Museum was like a dream come true. Every glance met with a different exhibit displaying ancient Pokémon he had never even seen before, Gary's eyes nearly crawled out of his head.

It wasn't until Dr. Kenzo chuckled at his enthusiasm that Gary attempted to compose himself, realizing he had been acting like a kid in a candy store and not the esteemed Pokémon researcher and grandson of the illustrious Samuel Oak.

His tour didn't end there. The research oriented half of the museum was still left to explore. Sectioning off all of Sayda Island for research barely dented the funds Gary and the research team there had been given, allowing for their current lab equipment to be state of the art. Yet, one glance at Dr. Kenzo's research facility easily put Gary's lab to shame.

It was only once Dr. Kenzo ended the tour that he explained his true intention of inviting him to the museum. Gary swore to this day that his heart had literally skipped a beat at Dr. Kenzo's offer to make him part of the team that would resurrect the Pokémon of the earlier exhibits he had seen and construct a suitable environment to house them. They would be provided with all the funding they would need to make it a reality.

Gary relayed the offer to Dora and the others on Sayda Island, feeling that they should have as much say in this as he did. The response came back quickly as a unanimous agreement to go through with the project. Once his team had relocated to Sinnoh, they went straight to work by helping construct not one, but three fossil resurrectors, modifying and reinforcing them lest it become a repeat the Aerodactyl incident.

Before they could start resurrecting the Anorith and Kabuto fossils at their disposal, they began working on their natural habitats and diets. Months of research went into studying the once fossilized flora and fauna, making sure they could survive in their new modern environment.

There was no shortage of specimens thanks to the mines scattered in and around nearby Oreburgh City. The local gym leader – Roark– was only too eager to help excavate candidates for revival, him being a fan of ancient Pokémon himself. It took nearly a year to complete, but the results were worth the work. The ancient Pokémon settled nicely into the habitat they had built for them.

It was then that an unexpected visitor came to oversee the fruits of their labor.

Gary's exploits had not only reached the scientific community through the media, but also through word of mouth from none other than his grandfather. Samuel Oak frequently boasted about his grandson's achievements in Sinnoh, piquing the interest of an old colleague that had been working in the region at the time. It was only once Professor Rowan arrived back in Sinnoh that he decided to pay a visit to the Oreburgh Mining Museum.

He had asked to be given an audience with Gary specifically, having him lead the tour through the facility. By the time he had finished showing him their finished product, the museum's visiting hours were reaching their end. Rowan, having been very impressed with the youngest Oak and his work, began to ask in detail about the project. Their conversation went on for hours, and the topics of their discussions varied, but eventually they always returned to the same subject: Pokémon.

"I'm interested in how you've been able to maintain the population at a stable level. I assume you've sterilized all of them in some manner?" Professor Rowan said.

"Not exactly. We've made sure that all the Pokémon that we've resurrected are female, making it impossible for them to breed with one another," Gary explained, pulling himself a chair across from where Rowan sat. Their late night stroll had taken them to one of Oreburgh's local cafes.

"Hi, my name's Diana and I'll be your server today. Can I get you two anything to start off with?" the waitress asked with a smile and a small notepad in hand.

"What do you have for dessert?" Rowan calmly inquired. The waitress began reciting the restaurant's vast array of deserts, to which Rowan parroted nearly half the list back to her as his order. The waitress scribbled furiously on her notepad before nervously turning to Gary, who apparently shared her surprise in the professor's apparent sweet tooth.

"And for you, sir?" she asked.

"I think I'll just have a glass of water," the young researcher said with a sheepish smile. Their waitress gave a sigh of relief, quickly scurrying back into the café.

Gary faced the Pokémon researcher. "I never would've pegged you as someone as such a fan of sweets."

"Well you see, the brain is an energy intensive organ. Glucose is what fuels the brain, and I find myself thinking so much and so often that I actually lose weight and have no energy to think about my field of research," Rowan replied with a chuckle. "At least that's what I like to tell my assistants."

"Actually, I've been meaning to ask you, what exactly is your field of research?"

"Well Mr. Oak-" Rowan began, but Gary quickly lifted his hand.

"Actually, just call me Gary, Mr. Oak makes me feel like I'm as old as my grandpa."

"Right. Well, as you probably already know, your grandfather, like many professors, studies different facets of the world of Pokémon. Whereas your grandfather studies human and Pokémon relationships, Professor Elm from the Johto region researches their breeding patterns, Juniper from the Unova region is in the process of exploring their origins, and I believe Ivy in the Orange Islands is analyzing their regional differences. I could go on, but I believe you understand where I'm going with this. My particular field of research delves into the 'hows' and the 'whys' of Pokémon evolution."

Their waitress returned with the desserts and Gary's water in the middle of their conversation. Once they assured her that would be all for the night, she left to get their check. The youngest Oak watched with a mix of horror and fascination as Rowan tore through a cheesecake the way usually reserved for house-devouring tornadoes. Gary lightly sipped at his water as Rowan finished his first victim of the night in record time.

"I spent four years in the Kanto region, as it contains the most evolutionary families. My main goal has been to find the reason for Pokémon evolution," Rowan continued after clearing his throat, gently dabbing a napkin to lips concealed beneath his gray, bushy moustache.

"Four years…!" Gary said softly, a note of astonishment and awe distinguishable in his voice.

"Yes, it was in those years I discovered that nearly 91% of all known Pokémon are connected to each other."

"How so?" Gary asked. He knew it was a question he would quickly come to regret as he watched the professor reach into his briefcase and pull out a thick stack of papers. Numbers, scales and bars filled each page from corner to corner. Gary slowly leafed through the sheets and nodded with a hum of understanding that he did not truly possess.

Rowan took this opportune silence to demolish another brownie.

Once Gary felt he'd pretended to look through them long enough, he handed the papers back and watched them disappear inside Rowan's briefcase once more.

"I'd love to look through this with more time," Gary lied, "but if you don't mind me asking, I'm curious as to whether you came any closer to the reason behind Pokémon evolution?"

"It's quite all right, however that very answer has eluded me for years – ever since that very question spurred me to be the man of science I am today. Although I have no concrete evidence to show that I've come any closer to answering that question, I have managed formulate a hypothesis that might explain why Pokémon evolve."

The young Pokémon researcher leaned forward to emphasize his interest, wondering whether the professor stopped for dramatic effect or if the slice of pie he had temporarily spared had finally caught his eye.

"Since the dawn of humanity, our species has constantly tried to improve itself. We strive to make technology faster and more efficient, improve the quality of life, and achieve a greater understanding of the world around us. I believe Pokémon are not so different from us. I feel that they also contain that innate drive to make themselves better." Rowan motioned the spoon in his hand towards Gary, then to himself, continuing to dig through a small parfait set before him.

"My hypothesis is that it is through this instinctual desire to come closer to perfection, to reach their full potential, that Pokémon go through evolution," Rowan continued between bites of the parfait. "Legendary Pokémon may have already reached the pinnacle of their potential, hence their static appearance in their legends throughout the centuries."

Gary's fingers rubbed his chin thoughtfully, musing over the idea as Rowan finished off the treat and went after another slice of cake. "So why did you leave Kanto to come here?" he asked.

"Kanto held an abundance of specimens for my research… but it lacked a crucial component."

"That being…?"

"Legendary Pokémon. The Kanto legends of their native mythical Pokémon are rare, if not non-existent, and those that I did find could be traced back to Johto. In the four years that I spent there, I felt that I had learned all that the region had to offer me. Sinnoh seemed to be the next best place to continue my research, as the region holds the largest number of legends that can be attributed to actual mythical Pokémon. There are even several Pokémon from Kanto that can only evolve here."

"Really? Why?"

"I'm not entirely sure. From my observations the Pokémon here are naturally much more powerful than the Pokémon from other regions. Possibly it's the harsher conditions in this region that force the Pokémon here to strengthen. Conditions in the Kanto region are not as intense as they are here, hence there is no need for the Pokémon there to become stronger and evolve. For instance, were you aware that the Pokémon Elekid has another evolution after Electabuzz?" Rowan said as he finished off his last dessert, a small fruit tart.

"No, I didn't," Gary replied.

Gary watched as Rowan gently laid down his spoon on a set of now spotless plates.

"Which brings me to the real reason I decided to pay this museum a visit, and why I requested a private audience with you. I'll be brief: I need a capable assistant to help me with my research in this region… and I want you to be that assistant."

In the middle of draining the remaining contents of his glass at that moment, it took every ounce of willpower on the Oak's part not spray it in the professor's face at the news.

"Your check, sir," Diana informed Rowan. She turned towards Gary with a look of concern. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," Gary assured her as he tried to regain his composure. Rowan pulled out his wallet and paid the bill in cash, unsurprised by Gary's response. It wasn't until their waitress was well out of earshot that Gary began speaking again.

"Not that I don't appreciate the offer, but why me? I'm sure that you've got plenty of other people that are better suited to be your assistant."

"Gary, you may not realize it, but you have quite a few things that put you well above anyone that I would consider for this task. Oak speaks very highly of you, and for good reason. Your part in recent achievements here and on Sayda Island is very noteworthy. Your grandfather also mentioned your exploits as a trainer. To have over two hundred different Pokémon caught and trained is a feat not many can hold a claim to. When I informed my old colleague that I would be leaving to do research in the Sinnoh region and my need for an assistant, he automatically recommended you. I trust your grandfather and highly value his opinion.

"All these things coalesce to make you the optimal choice."

Gary began to feel his face and ears quickly heat up. His eyes lowered to the table's surface, wandering over every inch that didn't bring him closer to meeting Rowan's gaze.

"Professor, as much as I appreciate your offer, I've got a lot of things going on here at the museum," Gary began, to which Rowan raised his hand.

"Which is why there's no need for you to decide now. You have a week to make your decision, but I think there's something that you should know."

Rowan paused and smiled. He knew very well that Gary would need more of an incentive to aid him in his research; he wouldn't have even mentioned it to the young researcher had he not been holding the ace up his sleeve.

"Gary, can I trust that this will stay strictly between you and me? That no one, not even your grandfather or your team in the Oreburgh City Museum will know of this?"

Gary paused momentarily, before nodding. "Yes."

Rowan nodded with a smile, knowing that he had piqued the Oak's interest. He stared into his eyes for a few more seconds.

"Gary, what if I were to tell you that I know of a remote region within Sinnoh that has remained largely unaffected by human influence for several millennia? What if I were to tell you that a group of ancient Pokémon live there to this day, peacefully, and that, as my assistant, I could take you there to share and compare researches?"

Although unseen, Rowan's smile stretched even wider beneath his mustache at Gary's reaction. His eyebrow had flattened in skepticism at first, but as he continued to meet Rowan's sincere gaze, his expression morphed into mixed shock and amazement. Hundreds of questions poured into Gary's mind in a whirlpool of jumbled thoughts.

"How?" was all the aspiring young researcher was able to say through lips paralyzed with astonishment.

"Many years ago, I came across an interesting individual as I was doing research on legends of the Sinnoh region in the Canalave City Library. A gym leader by the name of Byron, whom I believe is the father of Oreburgh's current gym leader."

"Roark's father…!"

"Indeed. He's an interesting fellow, completely absorbed in mining and fossils. But what really brought him to my attention is a particular Pokémon he had in his possession. During your time here have you ever heard of the Shield Pokémon, Bastiodon?" Rowan asked.

Gary shook his head; in all the time he had worked on the project within the museum he had never heard of it. It was odd, considering the museum held detailed accounts on nearly every ancient Pokémon all across the continent. The fact that the archives contained such a glaring hole in their records was embarrassing, but at the same time exciting, if only because it meant that there was a possibility that there were other ancient Pokémon out there. "No, I can't say I have. So you're saying that he has this ancient Pokémon?"

"Exactly. It took a bit of coaxing, but he eventually told me how he acquired that particular Pokémon. In his younger years he had traveled through the Sinnoh region and stumbled upon Bastiodon's pre-evolution, Shieldon, in the wild, and caught it. He was kind enough to tell me the general area where I could find these Pokémon as well, and to this day, the whereabouts of that location have remained with me and me alone. I'd be willing to share them with you were you to become my assistant," Rowan calmly finished.

Gary speechlessly stared at the professor as he rose to his feet and made his way past him.

"I will be waiting at my facility in Sandgem Town. Feel free to drop me a call once you've made your decision."

Gary sat there for a long time in silent contemplation, his gaze shifting from his hands to the table. Even after the café had closed and the workers had left, Gary continued to sit and think. Whatever he decided that night would determine his future for the next foreseeable years, an idea both comforting and demoralizing.

On one hand, he had the relief of knowing what the next few years held for him, but on the other hand, it meant that there was no deviation from the path that he had picked for himself. An opportunity like that might never come to him again, and the thought of regretting his decision years later frightened him.

Rowan wasn't exactly surprised to see Gary standing at the entrance of his lab some days after their conversation. Having made the necessary arrangements, Gary left the project in the capable hands of Dr. Kenzo and the team back in Oreburgh.

As the personal assistant of a professor that researched Pokémon evolution, half of Gary's position required him to help find and bring subjects and materials for evolution. Rowan had analyzed countless specimens that evolved naturally in his time in Kanto; his sights had turned to Pokémon that evolved through alternate methods.

After a lengthy conversation, Gary's Electabuzz agreed to Rowan's proposal to take part in their next experiment and evolve through the use of an object known as an electirizer. The result was a success; the newly evolved Electivire was rapidly subjected to Gary and Rowan's studies, and revealed an increase in strength in exchange for a loss of speed.

Gary's years as a trainer traveling through Kanto and Johto seemed to have paid off, with most of their experiments needing Pokémon he had already caught. The long road ahead of them was daunting, but Gary was too excited to let it deter him.

It was just before they could get into the thick of it that Gary received a call from his grandfather, asking him to come to Pallet Town to take part in a congratulatory party on Ash's behalf for winning the Battle Frontier. Rowan was more than understanding of the situation when Gary confessed that his rival was one of the main reasons he had decided to pursue Pokémon research.

Gary's trip back to his hometown was relatively short; defeating Ketchum in a Pokémon battle just before a party that celebrated his victory in the Battle Frontier easily killed any sense of festivity. Gary felt that, by winning, he had outstayed his welcome and ruined the party, but reasoned that Ash had been the one to challenge him and would've taken greater offense had he gone easy on him.

Ash had changed during their time apart; his voice had deepened and he had grown another few centimeters. But at heart, he was still the same trainer that Gary had fought in the Silver Conference and on his Grandfather's ranch.

For all the trust and love he formed with his Pokémon, competitively, that wasn't always going to be enough, especially since Ash's rush-forward-and-attack-repeatedly strategy had remained a favorite of his despite all. If Gary knew his old rival, then Ash would be on his way to Sinnoh at this very moment, and if Ash was to have any chance in this region, he was going to have to change the way he thought and fought.

If his old friend could only think his battles through and keep the bonds he made with his Pokémon, he could truly become a force to be reckoned with.

The second half of being Rowan's personal assistant was aiding him in the research and hunt for legendary Pokémon. It had been a few days since Gary had been working with the professor when the starter Pokémon Rowan was charged with giving to beginning trainers had escaped.

Search teams had been deployed to recover them, but it wasn't long before Rowan informed Gary that they had been safely recovered. However, Rowan hadn't called to tell him just that; something more interesting had come along in the process of finding them.

The beginning trainer that had returned one of the starters had mentioned seeing something that Rowan believed could've been a legendary Pokémon near Lake Acuity. Gary immediately went to investigate the area, spending nearly the entire day there, but came back with nothing to show for it.

It wasn't until Rowan had distributed the remaining starters to the new trainers that he decided to take Gary to see the Shieldon. Hearing about the legendary sighting had reignited his desire to track down the mythical Pokémon of the region, but not before doing well on his promise with Gary. With a small team of other trusted assistants, he and Gary then set out to the foot of Mt. Coronet.

Plans for a nature preserve were swiftly set into motion upon the discovery of the Shieldon living happily in the wild. As Rowan left to make the preparations for the construction, Gary and the other assistants were tasked with mapping out the area, finding out why the area was capable of allowing the Pokémon to live so peacefully.

Countless samples of soil, air, flora and fauna were taken, in hopes of providing some sort of clue as to the reason why the Shieldon had remained undisturbed by human influence for so long. They were not the only Pokémon that resided within the region either, as further exploration revealed that Beedrill also made their hives in the forest.

One assistant suggested that due to the heavy presence of Beedrill, humans were less likely to approach the area. Despite their territorial nature, Beedrill attacks could do little against Shieldon with their steel and rock typing, forcing them to give up on their aggression and coexist peacefully.

Several legends of mythical Pokémon that visited Mt. Coronet made having a nature preserve near the mountain ideal for Rowan's future research. Gary was glad to have been given the chance to find and interact with the wild creatures, an opportunity he doubted many people were given. Within a week, Gary knew the area like the back of his hand.

News of their findings had to be kept quiet as too much attention could damage the ecosystem. Should the word ever get out, trainers would invariably try to capture Shieldon for their rarity. Yet, as hard as they tried, the funds for their project had been traced to their location, garnering the attention of a wealthy collector, and the bounty hunter Gary would later come to know as Hunter J.

She had moved quickly, deploying her forces to every inch of the forest. J's henchmen outnumbered him twenty to one, each of them armed with several Pokémon. Out of all the people to have met in that situation, Ash was the last person he had expected, not that he was complaining. Ash and his group's presence didn't exactly turn the tide for his side, but it did make him feel better about his chances.

Despite having spent a little over month in Sinnoh, Ash's attitude had yet to change. His impulsiveness and overconfidence, if left unchecked, would risk the safety of the Shieldon. And yet, Gary's composure lay at the other end of the spectrum, making him slow to act and allowing J's men to capture one of the Shieldon.

Working together, Gary and Ash were able to break into J's ship and retrieve the Pokémon. Having contacted him, Rowan had managed to get the help of Officer Jenny, forcing the bounty hunter to flee the scene, but not before they captured some of her subordinates.

The grunts were taken in for questioning, but it was quickly revealed that they knew next to nothing about J and her plans. She had given them just enough information to do what she wanted, but not enough to make them a liability should they ever be captured. Ash and his group parted ways to continue their hunt for badges and ribbons, leaving Gary to pick up from where he started.

Having dealt with the hiccups and obstacles that once stood in their way, the construction of the preserve was once again underway. The preserve would be wide enough to accommodate the numerous Beedrill hives and allow the Shieldon to roam freely and graze in peace. However, until the preserve was done, Gary would have to hold off on his research.

In the meantime, Rowan's legendary hunt would help pass the time until the reserve was finished. It was said that there were three legendary sprites, each residing within the Sinnoh's three great lakes: Lake Verity, Lake Acuity, and Lake Valor. Rather than visit each one at a time, Rowan could send Gary to explore one lake while he ventured to another. Eventually they would meet at the final lake to share and compare whatever they had learned.

Gary carried several evolutionary items on his person at all times; he was tasked with using them on any Pokémon he found capable of evolving through them. He would also carry his laptop and document all of his findings, on evolution and anything pertaining to legendary Pokémon. A small first aid kit, some snacks and survival gear were also part of his standard gear.

Ash and Gary's paths would cross a second time several days later as he made his way to Hearthome City. His former rival had been attempting to train a Gligar to become stronger and overcome his fears. However, Ash's brash nature made things more difficult than they needed to be.

Seeing an opportunity for data collection and a chance to help out an old friend, Gary offered Ash and his Gligar a razor fang, an item that allowed Gligar to evolve into a form only found in Sinnoh: Gliscor. Ash insisted that Gligar get over his fears before having him evolve into his next form. The scorpion-bat Pokémon would only evolve with the razor fang during the night, with no other requirements, but it made sense to have him overcome his fears before going through with the evolution.

Unfortunately, a scuffle with Team Rocket robbed Gary of the chance to see Gligar's actual transformation into Gliscor. Ash had been kidnapped with Gligar, and went missing for several hours, only to return to them victorious over Team Rocket and with Gligar's new form and newfound courage.

August 16, present time

Gary found himself gazing off into the night sky, his mind awash with memories of the years gone by. He had finally found something he was interested in, something that could give him a place in society. How many days had he brooded over what he should do with his life? How many hours had he spent worrying?

He envied people like Ash in that sense, people who knew without a shadow of a doubt what they were going to do with their lives. Losing at both Kanto's Pokémon League and the Silver Conference had really opened his eyes to what was important.

Umbreon threw him a curious look, wondering what her master could possibly be thinking of to have made him relax for a full fifteen minutes. She gave a soft cry to get his attention, managing to reel him back to reality with shock at how much time he had allowed to elapse.

Gary quickly gathered up the evolutionary items set before him and was back on his feet in no time, the rest having noticeably helped. The young researcher hadn't even taken two steps when Umbreon's screams pierced through the silence of the woods. Gary whirled around to find her writhing on the ground in complete agony. Before he could even voice his concern his hip sack burst open, blinding him with a giant flash of light.

Speckled dots of purple faded from his vision, unveiling the scene of anguish now before him. Electivire clutched his head, his eyes scrunched shut and beginning to water as his twin tails flailed through the air, bolts of lightning leaking from them. Blastoise withdrew into his shell, spinning in place and firing torrents of water in every direction.

Gary watched as a stray bolt of lightning instantly reduced a nearby tree to splinters, the explosion sending the burning remains raining over his Pokemon. A torrent of water missed Gary's arm by a few inches, punching a hole clean through a boulder that resided behind him.

Nidoking stomped the ground and sent rolling waves of earth in every direction as he wrung his ears with his claws. Skarmory flew haphazardly through the woods, severing the tops of every tree that crossed his path, digging a trench in the ground with a crash landing. Gary winced and backed away as the shimmering waves of heat that emanated from his Houndoom as his Flamethrower threatened to scorch his face.

Paralyzed and speechless, the researcher could only watch as the once quiet forest morphed around him, his Pokemon thrashing against some unseen tormentor that attacked their minds.

Electivire barreled into the forest, leaving the stench of ozone in his wake. More and more bolts leaked from his body, lighting the fallen trees on his path of destruction with tiny embers. Gary made a motion to follow him the moment he was out of sight, only to be thrown back into a tree when a column of light descended from the skies and struck a distant region of the forest.

Gusts of wind blew through the trees, throwing Gary's hair back as he brought his arms to shield him from the waves of dust, dirt, and splinters. Within seconds, it was like before the madness had started; silence resuming its reign once more, and the only sound he could hear was his own jackhammer-like heartbeat in a duet with the ringing in his ears.

Murky waters churned.

A handful of Muk oozed out from a lake just outside Hearthome City's perimeter. Their gazes rose to the midnight sky, noting the glow of the distant city lights. They looked at each other and silently nodded, sliding back effortlessly into the opaque waters of the lake to recruit the others.

They had been woken up by a voice, a surge of power that fed their confidence and a single command that they fully intended to act upon.

"I've given you the power to take our world back from the humanskill any who stand against you."

This chapter felt more like a prologue than an actual chapter to me at least, but I felt it was necessary to help set up why Gary was here in the first place, something that the show never actually clarified with us.