The sound of growling and sniffing woke Lance the next morning. A pack of Mightyena were walking around the small campsite; their behavior indicated they were looking for food. Thankfully Kara was still sleeping in her tent, and Mara was in a small hammock suspended between two tree branches. That didn't mean they were safe, though.

Lance stood up, growling menacingly. It was then he noticed a band around the largest Mightyena's leg had a symbol that looked like Team Magma's. One of the Mightyena walked too close to the tent where Kara was and that was enough to get hit by a Thunder Bolt. The wolf yelped and turned towards Lance. The other wolves did the same and slowly began to circle him.

Lance spread out his quills, beginning to resemble a porcupine. Needles made out of stiff fur flew at the Dark-type Pokemon. Most of them managed to dodge the Pin Missile and the few that didn't quickly recovered. The larger Mightyena stayed back, barking orders. More than half the Mightyena began using Sand Attack, creating a cloud of dust and sand. Hearing where the enemies were was out from barking and Lance managed to turn in time to narrowly avoid the full blow from a Shadow Ball.

When he leaped to dodge a Mightyena swept past him with an Iron Tail, hitting him along the side. He launched another Thunder Bolt, hitting several of the wolves and making them retreat slightly. The larger Mighytena took a few steps forward, growling. The rest of the Mightyena backed away. Lance began powering for a Thunder Bolt. The Mightyena suddenly bolted forward with unexpected speed and hit Lance with an Iron Tail, throwing him into the air before biting his leg.

Lance cried out in pain, letting the built-up electricity loose. The wolf backed off a little only with minor injuries. Lance took a step forward, nearly collapsing on his injured leg. The wound felt like it was burning. The Mightyena looked at the rest of its pack and nodded. The all began running off, barking and howling.

Lance waited several moments before limping over to Kara's tent, and lied down several feet away, appearing as if that's where he had slept for the night. He greeted Kara when she opened the tent flap.

"Was something going on?"

"I… talk in my sleep."


Lance nodded, part of him hoping it was convincing.

Mara glided down from where she had spent the night and collided with the tent, sliding down the side.

"What's for breakfast?"

Mara studied a map as she sat on Kara's head, trying to find the quickest way to Pedalburg City. Frustrated, she crumpled it up and threw it to the ground. "Screw the map! We go that way!" she pointed towards a random spot between the trees.

"What makes you say that?" Kara asked.

"It's a shortcut!"

Kara looked at Lance. "What do you think?"

"We can try." He waited until she walked ahead before continuing. His leg burned even more now, and soon it would be impossible to hide his limp.

Late that afternoon the outskirts of a city could be seen.

"Told ya!" Mara said, clearly proud she had been correct. "We should go get food, first."

"We will." She already learned there was no easy way of winning an argument against Mara when it came to food.

"The Pokemon Center here has good food," Lance said. While they were busy eating he'd just go find a few Rawst Berries to take care of the injury….

"I want ice cream!" Mara declared.

Kara nodded. "I could go for some, too."

So much for that plan….

They walked past the Pedalburg Gym and Kara stared at it. "Someday I'll challenge the Gym Leader here."

Just then, Norman walked out of the Gym, followed by Tabitha. "If you don't want me to have my Mightyena attack your kid, then you'll follow me."

Norman glared at him but gave in. "I'll come with you, just don't hurt Max," said Norman.

"Hey, it's you! You better release Norman now! You're using one of his weaknesses against him. That is the lowest and dirtiest trick in the book!" said Kara.

"What book?" Mara asked.

Tabitha glowered at her. "You again? You're causing enough trouble. Numel!"

A small yellow camel-like Pokemon with green on its back appeared.

Kara got her Pokedex out. "Numel, the Numb Pokemon. With a body that stores hot magma, it feels nothing if struck. But it can't bear to go hungry for even a second," said Dexet.

"It's a Fire-type..." said Kara. Lance took a few steps forward and his back leg nearly gave in on the final step.

"Numel, Flamethrower!" Tabitha ordered. Numel breathed out a long stream of fire.

Lance jumped in front of Kara, taking the full hit of the attack. He held back a cry of pain and gave a false smile when Kara asked if he was okay.

"Kid, you better get out of here!" Norman shouted.

Numel used a small burning cinders attack, Ember. An icy ball powered by a blast of water hit Numel, knocking it to the side.

"Where'd that come from?" Mara asked, looking around suspiciously.

A Mudkip ran in front of Kara. "Mudkip? What are you doing here?" Kara asked.

"Is that your Pokemon?" Tabitha asked.

Mudkip nodded.

"Uh, yes? Mudkip, Water Gun!"

"Dodge it, Flamethrower!"

Numel dodged the stream of water and used a similar attack, only the Fire-type version.

"Dodge and use Water Gun!"

Tabitha recalled his Pokemon after it got KO'd. "Now you probably want me to release Norman.

I'm not going to do that. You'll have to defeat all of my Pokemon." He sent out a Mightyena. The wolf used a Shadow Ball. Lance hit the sphere with a Thunder Bolt, dissolving the attack.

The Mightyena ran forward with a Take Down and jumped when Lance just managed to leap into the air to dodge. Lance landed awkwardly on his injured leg, and he tried to stand up but the pain became too much. Mudkip blasted another Water Gun at Mightyena, and this time Mara joined in with a (weak) electric attack.

Norman got a Pokeball out, silently sending a large, gorilla-like Pokemon out. Tabitha turned to see it and his eyes flickered between it, his Mightyena, and the team of Mudkip and Mara. He frowned as he calculated his chance of victory and recalled his Pokemon, replacing it with a large, blue bat. "Haze!" thick, black smog filled the area. It made everyone cough until it cleared. Tabitha was gone….

Norman recalled his Pokemon. "Thanks for helping."

"Why did he come here?"

He shook his head. "I'm not sure. He did bring up someone called 'Ventus'."

"Him again?" she looked over at Lance, concerned when he got up and limped forward stiffly for a bit.

"He's one of the stronger members of Team Magma. I did hear he was working on an experiment."

Mara jumped up and down. "That's me!"

Kara picked her up. "I know."

"That's it?"

"HER!" Mara loudly corrected. That seemed to get it across, though.

"They will be back for her. Stay at the Pokemon Center for the night in case Tabitha comes back."

"Ice cream first!" Mara demanded.

"I was planning to. She," she pointed at Mara, "wants ice cream. Bad."

Norman smirked. "The Pokemon Center has that." He turned back towards the Gym when his name was called. "Come back when you're stronger, okay?"

Mara happily licked at the ice cream in her bowl. Mudkip had its own bowl, eating slowly. Kara talked to it, sometimes her spoon not reaching her mouth. "So you came all this way to travel with me?"

Mudkip nodded. Kara got a black bandana from her backpack and tied it around Mudkip's neck.

She smiled. "You're so cute!"

"Hey, what about me? I'm cute too!" Mara said, she made her ears go back and got huge, innocent eyes.

"When we get to Rustboro City I'll call Prof. Birch. He's probably wondering where you are," said Kara.

Mudkip nodded. It jumped into Kara's backpack and fell asleep.

Lance was staying in the room they would be using that night. The bowl of ice cream he'd gotten was next to his leg, barely helping. He did eat a little bit once in a while to make it look like he was enjoying it slowly. He nudged it away after a little while, as it only started to make the pain worse. He eventually fell asleep, gladly escaping the pain.

The next morning Kara just finished ordering food for everyone when heard a familiar, false laugh.

She quickly spun around, a young Trainer with purple colored hair was talking to a girl who was about seven and a half and was short for her age. The girl had dark blue eyes and long dark brown hair in two pigtails and had a pink sweater. The girl was talking to the Trainer with her family's video phone.

Lance seemed to recognize the girl, a little surprised to see her.

The girl was enthusiastic about something. "That's awesome, Paul! I guess Grotle's been training a lot. You've really raised it well from a Turtwig! I can't wait to see you compete in the Hoenn League competition," said the girl, "I won't miss a second of it!"

"If that's what you say. It evolved late. But it's my strongest Pokemon, so I'll keep it," said the Trainer the girl referred as Paul. [A/N: Yes, the Paul from Veilstone. During this time he has different clothes, he has a dark blue jacket over a black shirt, dark colored jeans, and a normal, two-strap blue/silver backpack. And why is he willingly talking to the girl? It's safer than not.]

Kara glared at him. "Your Murkrow attacked my Mudkip!"

Paul looked at her, not at all surprised by her presence. "Your Mudkip? I guess you chose that weak thing for your Starter Pokemon? It's pathetic. You'd be better off with the strongest one you can find."

Lance glared at him and momentarily forgot that most humans couldn't understand Pokemon. "Any Pokemon is strong if you train it!"

Kara noticed the girl. "Who's that?"

Paul glared at Kara with a mix of anger and annoyance a hidden question in her voice tone that he didn't like. "She's just a girl I know."

"I have a name you know. And you just don't know me, we're friends. We've known each other for a long time!" said the girl.

Paul looked at her, annoyed by her enthusiasm. "I'm hanging up now," he had his hand over the Turn Off button.

The girl looked alarmed. "No wait, don't do that! I want to-"

Paul hung up. "She can be such a pest." He got up to walk over to a table where the nurse called him over, holding a tray with a Pokeball holder on one side and food on the other.

Kara's attention was turned when Lance tried to stand up, and stumbled a step forward before collapsing and crying out. "Lance…?" she knelt down next to him and touched him lightly.

Lance cried out again, louder and snapped at Kara, just stopping himself from sinking his teeth into her hand.