Previously on Galarian Days...
Zander navigates through the Galar Mine, where he ends up meeting the former chairman's secretary, Oleana. He then remembers her boss's actions that nearly destroyed Galar, and how it affected him back then...
Finally out of the mines, Zander took a minute to take in the fresh air and sunlight before getting his Pokemon healed by the Lass near the mouth of the cave, only this time he was more stoic due to having to relive that horrible memory from Wyndon. Even during his battle tour of Route 4, he didn't even bat an eye at his opponents' reactions to losing. But when he was almost at the end of the route, something unusual happened.
"Excuse me, sir?" a young, female voice asked. Zander looked in the direction of the voice, and recognized the person it came from: a young, black girl in pigtails, a Bug Uniform and a silver tiara patterned like a spider web, in other words, the Insect Princess, Gym Leader Annie!
"Oh! Yes, Princess Annie?" Zander said, bowing down on one knee.
"Now, now, there's no need for that," Annie said, making Zander stand back up. "The princess thing is just for fun, that's all." She then got a good look at Zander and added, "Say, you're one of the Gym Challengers that was at the ceremony in Motostoke, weren't you?"
"That I am, Pri- er, I mean, Gym Leader Annie," Zander confirmed.
"Please, just call me Annie," she said, "and maybe you can help me. You see, one of my Joltik managed to escape from the stadium, and I can't get my Gym Mission working without it. Think you can help me find it?"
"Of course, Annie. Zander at your service!" Zander said with confidence. "All I need is the scent of a Joltik, and I'll find yours in no time!"
"Excellent!" Annie said. "Do you know what static electricity smells like?"
"I do," Zander said, remembering the dry air days he spent during his puphood. He took a big sniff and instantly caught the scent, then turned his head in that direction to find a small speck of yellow fuzz crawling on a stone wall. Upon closer inspection, he saw the fuzzy speck had bits of purple, four of which were eyes. "Annie, I just found a Joltik. Could it be yours?"
"Try cupping it in your hands," Annie suggested. "None of my Joltik shock."
Zander got a little unnerved at that, but he steeled himself and gently scooped up the tiny bug Pokemon in his paws. The Joltik made a little hop into his paws and chittered cutely, but no electricity was emitted from it! "It didn't shock me! Annie, I think this is it!"
Zander then walked back to Annie and touched his paws to her hands, where the Joltik transferred itself. Once it was back with its Trainer, she let her emotions take over. "Oh, Joltik! Thank goodness we found you!" she said happily, then, "Don't you ever run off and make me worried like that again!" she scolded sternly, then, "Oh, but I'm just so glad you're safe," she finished relieved. "Thank you for finding my Joltik, Zander. Now my Gym Mission can go off without a hitch!"
"Don't mention it, Annie," Zander said. "Anything to keep the Gym Challenge going."
"Right! Well, see you at the stadium! Say goodbye, Joltik!" Annie said. The Joltik in her palm chittered again before she carried it with her back to Turffield.
All's well that ends well, Zander thought, but now to best her in the field of honor. With that, he continued down to the end of Route 4 and stepped into the quaint little town of Turffield, where the grass was a lovely green, ancient stone structures dotted the town, and smack-dab in the center was Turffield Stadium, but adorned with a Bug-theme to honor its current Gym Leader. But en route to said Stadium, Zander happened upon a familiar face giving the owner of the local flower shop a drink carrier with three coffee cups. "Here you go, ma'am, and thank you for purchasing from the Battle Cafe!"
"Sophia? Is that you?" Zander asked.
Sophia turned around to see the two-toned furry face looking at her again. "Oh, Zander, hi! Good to see you again! What brings you down here to Turffield?"
"I'm getting ready to face my first Gym Leader in the Gym Challenge," Zander explained, "but I'd ask you the same question."
"Just making a delivery," Sophia said. "You'd be surprised how many people in Galar need their cups of coffee, joe, java, or as I affectionately refer to it as, 'liquid ignition.'"
"From Wyndon?" Zander asked incredulously. "They must be paying you a king's ransom, then!"
"Not just from Wyndon," Sophia explained. "I'm also under the employ of the Battle Cafes in Motostoke and Hammerlocke, too."
"So you're more than just an express courier, you're an elite... freelance... express courier?"
"I guess you could call it that," Sophia supposed. "So, you're a Gym Challenger now? Then I've got something that you could find useful. Hold out your paw."
As soon as Zander did so, Sophia placed something flat and rectangular into his paw. He looked at it and saw that it was Annie's League Card, showing a picture of her inside the Stadium, ready to battle. The top-right corner was emblazoned with the Bug-type Gym logo, and the bottom of the image was a spider web-pattern in a sea of chartreuse, along with her number, 564.
"Okay, what am I supposed to do with this?" Zander asked.
"Check the back."
Zander flipped the card over, revealing a message saying, "Annie is a Trainer that doesn't just break the mold, she shatters it. At a young age, she was surrounded by Bug-type Pokemon, but while other girls were scared, grossed out or just plain didn't like them, she developed a curious interest and wanted to show others their good qualities instead of keeping them hung up on the bad. This carried over to her current status as a Bug Gym Leader, one of the hardest types to get hyped about."
"Interesting," Zander said.
"And there's plenty more where that came from," Sophia said before her phone buzzed. "Oh, sorry, Zander, but I have more deliveries to make. Good luck with the Gym Challenge!"
"Bye, Sophia! Been nice getting to see you again!" Zander said waving before he started back down the path to Turffield Stadium. After he stepped through the automatic doors, a person in a green superhero costume and a Friend Ball-themed helmet approached him and said, "Hello, buddy! I'm Friend Green, and my boss wants me to give this to you!"
After accepting the Friend Ball capsule, Zander opened it and got a note saying, "Hello, reciever of this note. You have located another Apricorn Ranger; more specifically, Friend Green. As thanks for finding two rangers, here is a piece of interesting information. Simply touch the capsules you recieved from them together, and something amazing will happen."
Remembering the capsule he got from Fast White, Zander took it out of his pocket and touched the two capsules together. Suddenly, they started shining brightly in his paws, and when the light faded, he was holding one spherical grid of diamonds, and he quickly pocketed it before walking down the web-patterned carpet to the Gym Trainer at the gate.
"Welcome, Gym Challenger! Are you ready to face the current Leader of Turffield Stadium?"
"I am," Zander said.
"Great! You'll just have to change into your uniform first," the Gym Trainer said. Zander then stepped into the changing room and closed the door. A few seconds later, he came out in his uniform, and the Gym Trainer stepped to the side to allow Zander to pass.
Zander entered the chamber where the Gym Mission was held, inside a large, chartreuse room with a long garden. As soon as he reached the end of the patterned path, Dan the refferee walked up to him and said, "Welcome, Gym Challenger, to the inner workings of Turffield Stadium! Your first Gym Mission is... to escort our swarm of Joltik to the end of this field!" As Zander looked out to the field, sure enough, there was a large clump of yellow fuzz in the grass, most likely the Joltik. He looked further and saw a sign by a large bundle of silk saying, "000/100."
"But be warned," Dan continued, "there will be obstacles that will impede your progress, and they will only be removed when you defeat a Gym Challenger!" At that, Zander's ears picked up the sound of chirping, which turned out to be Rookidee! "With all that said, best of luck to you, and be careful!"
Dan left the chamber, and the whistle that followed began the mission. Zander approached the cluster of fuzz, and it spread away from him. Following that pattern of reactions, Zander sidestepped to direct the swarm, packing it close and moving it forward to the silk bundle. With every Joltik that reached the bundle, the sign started counting up higher. Of course, Zander did have to backtrack to pick up a few Joltik that strayed from the swarm, but once the sign said, "100/100," the Joltik swarm broke down the bundle of silk until it was gone, clearing the way to the next patch of the field.
Zander continued to direct the fuzz patch to the end of the field, getting most of it to the next silk bundle. But this time, he was stopped by a Gym Trainer named Paulie, who said, "Don't think you can just waltz your whole way down this field without facing at least one of us!" He sent out a Dottler, but Zander made quick work of it with his Fletchling. "Alright, alright, I'll step off!"
With Paulie out of the way, Zander got the stragglers wrangled, and the swarm broke down another bundle. However, a twittering sound was heard, telling him that a Rookidee was nearby. Zander kept a close eye out, but while he was directing the swarm, the bird Pokemon swooped into the field and nabbed two of the Joltik in its talons! While it hovered out of Zander's reach, he sought out the second Gym Trainer, Dante, and challenged him. "Now you know why Annie was looking for one of these Joltik. If even one of them is missing, you're not going anywhere!"
Dante sent out a Nincada, and Zander took it out with his Fletchling. Even Dante's Wimpod didn't last! "Okay, I'll call off the Rookidee," he said, and the bird dropped the Joltik it was holding and flew back to its perch. Now Zander was free to get the fuzzy swarm to another silk bundle to break down.
With that out of the way, Zander looked into the next patch of field, which held dividing lines, a third Gym Trainer, and two Rookidee. But he also saw the end of the path to the exit past the last silk bundle, so he acted quickly. He directed the Joltik between the dividers, let the two Rookidee grab four of the bugs, and approached the third Gym Trainer, Tasha. "You can call me the lady-in-waiting... for your defeat!"
Tasha sent out a Karrablast first, but thus time Zander sent out his Rockruff and took it out easily. She followed up with a Shelmet, but even it was no match for the puppy Pokemon. "Alright, you have my blessing to face the princess. Good luck with her!" Zander then got the Joltik regrouped, and directed towards the last silk bundle to break down. With the path fully cleared, the clump of fuzz crawled forward and into a hole in the path. Once all of them went inside, the hole closed up, and Zander walked up the staircase to the exit door. Jets of steam sprayed from either side of the door, and it opened up at another whistle to signify that the Gym Mission was complete!
Zander walked down the hallway to the pitch of Turffield Stadium. It was grassy, with patches of yellow and chartreuse mottled around the green, making the pitch resemble a butterfly's wings. He then walked to the center of the field... and came face-to-face with Annie again.
"So, we meet again, Zander. Did my Gym Mission provide enough of a challenge for you?"
"It was daunting, I will admit," Zander said, "and your Gym Trainers did give me quite a time. But I didn't give up, nor will I. Not after all I went through to best you in the field of honor!"
"My, the gumption on you," Annie said, "but let's see how far it will fare against me. And if you're not giving up, niether will I!"
Both Trainers took their places, then Annie sent out her Durant from a Nest Ball while Zander sent out his Fletchling. Durant started the squabble with Bug Bite, but Fletchling hit back hard with Ember.
"Oh! Wanting to be reckless, are you?" Annie challenged. "Then I'll just have to have even less reck!"
Durant then hit Fletchling with Sand Attack, making its next Ember miss. Durant took the opportunity to use Fury Cutter, but Fletchling managed to land another Ember, knocking Durant out.
"Not bad," Annie said, "but now you'll face the true power of the Insect Princess!"
She sent out her Butterfree, while Zander opted to switch to his Rockruff.
"Now, my precious Pokemon," Annie called out, "time to let your best qualities shine!" She called her Butterfree back into its Nest Ball, which enlarged to the size of a basketball. After a small bow to consecrate it, Annie threw the ball behind her, and the Pokemon inside grew gigantic in three swells, then bellowed out in its Dynamaxed state.
The sight of it started giving Zander flashbacks of Wyndon, but he remembered that he couldn't run from a Trainer battle, so he ordered his Rockruff to use Rock Throw, but while it did super effective damage, Butterfree still held strong.
"Now, my subject," Annie commanded, "your princess orders you to attack with Max Flutterby!"
At that, Butterfree sent a swarm of butterflies at Rockruff, and they built a hive around it to make its Special Attack stat weaker. But Rockruff blasted another Rock Throw at Butterfree, and it exploded violently, knocking it out and forcing Annie to concede defeat.
Zander and Rockruff both let out victory howls of joy, and Annie sighed, but then smiled and said, "Guess I just got overthrown, but that was still enjoyable!"
After calling his Pokemon back, Zander and Annie stepped back towards the center line. "Well, that was a fierce bout, wasn't it? Not a lot of Trainers could dare to face my Dynamaxed Pokemon, let alone beat it!"
"What can I say, Annie?" Zander said, shrugging. "I'm a special case."
"Regardless, as the Gym Leader of Turffield Stadium," Annie said, "I hereby bestow upon you the mark of victory against me: the Bug Badge!"
As Zander shook Annie's hand, she set a piece of gold with a chartreuse picture of a rhinoceros beetle into his Challenge Band.
"Don't get too cocky, though," Annie warned. "There are seven other Gym Leaders after me, and each one is more ruthless than the last..."
Closed captioning sponsored in part by...
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