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<Zane and his friends walk steadily down a dirt path leading through the forest. As they walk through, rustling is heard from a nearby bush. They stop immediately>

Amy: "What's over there?"

Zane: "Not sure. Maybe a new Pokémon to catch." *Turning to Axew* "Let's get in there, buddy."

Axew: "Axew-ew!" (Okay, master!)

<Axew jumps down from Zane's shoulder and readies a battle position>

Zane: "Axew, Dragon Pulse!"

<Axew launches a ball of powerful energy from its mouth into the bush. It explodes and a person screaming can be heard>

Zane: "Huh?"

<They push through the bush and see a girl about their age on her back and rubbing her head. She sits up>

???: "What was that for?!"

Zane: "Ah, sorry about that. I thought you were a Pokémon."

???: "Well, I'm not!" *Standing up and dusting herself off* "Anyway, i don't have time to deal with this. I have to get back to the PCC."

All: "PCC?"

???: "The Pokémon Catching Competition. It's held once every three years. The official competition starts tomorrow."

Zane: "There's a competition for catching Pokémon? Sounds great. Maybe I should enter."

???: *Laughing* "You? Enter? Sorry to burst your bubble, but this competition puts some of the best Trainers against each other. How many Pokémon have you caught?"

Zane: "Five."

???: "Only five? I've caught fifteen Pokémon during my travels."

Zane: "If the competition's open to anyone, then I can catch way more Pokémon that anyone else." *Turning to Arthur* "Hey Arthur, you should join up too. You haven't caught any Pokémon."

Arthur: "Hm, why not. Can't hurt to increase my team a little."

???: "Well, I wish you two the best of luck, then. You're gonna need it."

<She runs off down the path and disappears through the trees. After some walking, they come across a massive building sitting atop a large hill. They walk up to the building and stand in front of the large set of doors>

Zane: "Guess I'll ring it."

<Zane grabs the handle of one of the doors and knocks it a few times against the door. He stands back as a few locks are heard shifting and clicking on the opposite side. A man in a black suit and tie appears in the doorway>

Butler: "Yes? How may I help you?"

Zane: "Um, we were wondering where to find the Pokémon Catching Competition entry station."

Butler: "Of course. Right in here, please."

<They enter the building and see Pokémon Trainers with their Pokémon coming from all over the region. The butler closes the door and escorts them into the office of the owner of the building. He turns around in his chair and smiles at them>

???: "Hello there. I suppose you're here to enter into my competition, correct?"

Zane: "Uh, yes, sir. My friend Arthur and I would like to enter into the competition."

???: *Chuckling* "My dear boy, there's no need to be so formal with me. I welcome all who wish to participate. You can call me Mr. Lucas."

Zane: "Oh, sorry. So, what are the rules of the competition?"

Mr. Lucas: "They're quite simple. Each Trainer is allowed to use only one Pokémon to battle other wild Pokémon. The more Pokémon that you catch and bring back once the contest is over earns you more points. The contest is a two day event, so starting out with a lot of points in the beginning earns you some headway."

Zane: "What happens if your Pokémon gets to exhausted to fight or is defeated in battle?"

Mr. Lucas: "A single substitution is allowed to replace your exhausted Pokémon. However, once you substitute, you cannot go back to your other Pokémon. And if your Pokémon is defeated, you are automatically disqualified. The Pokémon that were caught before your Pokémon was defeated will be counted, however."

Zane: "What's the prize for winning, and who holds the record for most captures?"

Mr. Lucas: "The prize is that you can keep all of the Pokémon that were caught. As for the record holder, a girl by the name Holly. She's caught a total of twenty Pokémon through this competition."

Zane: "Woah, twenty of them?"

Mr. Lucas: "Yes. She's quite the expert on catching Pokémon. So, how about it? Want to join?"

Zane: "Yeah!"

Arthur: "Sure. I think it'd be fun. Amy, you wanna join too?"

Amy: "Nah. I'll just accompany you guys on your runs."

Mr. Lucas: "Wonderful. Jacob, please show our newest arrivals to their rooms."

Jacob: *Bows* "As you wish, sir."

<Zane, Arthur, and Amy stand in the massive room with three large beds. They look around the large room. Zane is first to sit back on the soft, comfortable beds>

Zane: "I've never slept on such comfortable beds before. This is the life."

Amy: "It's definitely better than sleeping on the ground outside."

Arthur: "It's a change. That's for sure. Well, we'd better get some sleep for tomorrow."

Zane: "Right."

<They rest in the beds and turn out the lights. Arthur and Amy fall asleep while Zane stays awake. He looks up at the ceiling of them room>

Zane: *Thinking* A whole competition to just catching Pokémon. I hope I'll be good enough to beat them all. Tomorrow is gonna be crazy. I'll have to use Axew as my primary, and Oshawott as my substitute. Just in case Axew pushes itself too hard during a battle.

<The following morning, the Trainers gather in the building's massive outside courtyard. Mr. Lucas walks up to the heightened stage and stands behind a microphone>

Mr. Lucas: "Greetings, Trainers. I'm so happy to have such a big turnout for this year's event. Twenty of the best Trainers from around the region have all collected here to test their skill to catch Pokémon. The contest will begin once that clock hits zero."

<The Trainers turn and watch as the timer on the clock winds down from 10 seconds...9 seconds...8 seconds...7 seconds. 6 seconds...5 seconds...and so on until the buzzer rings. Every Trainer takes off into the forest. Zane runs through the forest with Axew hiking on his shoulder. He stops in a small clearing and looks around for any Pokémon to catch>

Zane: "See anything, Axew?"

Axew: *Looking around. Shakes its head*

Zane: "Man. I have to find some Pokémon."

<Zane spots a strange shell not too far from where he's standing. The body owning the shell emerges and pulls itself across the ground to get away>

Zane's Pokédex: "Shuckle, the Mold Pokémon. When Shuckle places organic materials in its husk-like shell, the items are transformed into a unique juice. Shuckle are naturally shy and are most often found hiding beneath rocks."

Zane: "Cool. A Shuckle. Axew, you ready?"

Axew: "Axew!" (Yeah!)

Zane: "Axew, Dragon Claw!"

<Axew runs at Shuckle and hits it with its glowing claws. Shuckle flies back against a tree and faints. Zane tosses a Pokéball. It bounces off of Shuckle, opens, and brings it inside. It falls to the ground, wobbles around, then stops. He picks it up>

Zane: "Awesome. I caught Shuckle!"

<He walks through the forest and goes deeper inward. After about an hour, he spots another Pokémon hanging from a tree branch>

Zane's Pokédex: "Cherubi, the Cherry Pokémon. All of the nutrients needed for evolution are contained in its small ball. Cherubi becomes redder as it is exposed to sunlight, and is almost ready to evolve once the smaller ball buds."

Zane: "Cool. Axew, let's go for a Scratch!"

<Axew jumps down from his shoulder and runs at the tree that Cherubi's hanging from. Cherubi jumps off the branch and crashes down on top of Axew. Axew's kicked back and crashes against the ground>

Axew: "Axew...ew." (That...hurt.)

Zane: "Axew, you okay?"

Axew *Standing up*

Zane: "Great. Use Dragon Pulse!"

<Axew fires an energy ball at Cherubi, impacting it directly. Axew runs at Cherubi and hits it again with another energy ball. Cherubi faints after the second impact. Zane tosses another Pokéball, catching Cherubi inside>

Zane: "Yeah! Two Pokémon!"

<Meanwhile, Arthur and Amy run through the forest together. Arthur stops in front of a spider Pokémon as it walks across the dirt path ahead. He tosses out Escavalier>

Arthur: "Escavalier, Hidden Power!"

<Escavalier charges up a ball of energy at its lance arms' tips. It fires the ball, but the spider Pokémon jumps into the air, dodging the attack completely. From above, it fires back a series of sticky string filaments. Escavalier slices through the string with ease and charges at the Pokémon. As it landed, Escavalier rammed a lance arm against its abdomen, causing it to smash against a tree. It faints. Arthur throws a Pokéball, catching it inside. He clips it away to his belt and returns Escavalier to its own Pokéball>

Amy: "Wow, Arthur. That was so fast. How did you command Escavalier without telling it what to do?"

Arthur: "Because Escavalier and I have been through so much, he can feel what I want him to do. I barely have to tell him what to do in battles anymore."

Amy: "That's amazing. I wish you the best of luck. I'm gonna go find Zane and cheer him on."

Arthur: "Good luck."

<Amy runs through the trees until finally spotting Zane as he battles with his Axew against another Pokémon. She takes out her Pokédex>

Amy's Pokédex: "Budew, the Bud Pokémon. In winter, it keeps its bud closed to survive the cold, but then opens it again in the spring."

Zane: "Axew, Dragon Pulse!"

<Axew fires an energy ball at Budew. Budew dodges it and opens the bud on top of its head. A collection of sun energy accumulates>

Zane: "Axew, charge it and use Dragon Claw!"

<Axew charges at Budew with its claws glowing a bright purple color. It tries to slash it, but Budew spins around and dodges it. Axew tries a second time, but is dodged; a third try fails; then a fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and a tenth try fails as well. Axew returns to Zane's side and begins to get exhausted>

Zane: *Thinking* Axew's beginning to get tired. I can't push my luck with letting Axew continue to fight. If Axew collapses from exhaustion without warning, then I'm automatically disqualified. "Axew, take a break. Come back."

<Axew looks back at Zane with a confused expression on its face. Axew decides to run back as Zane brings out another Pokéball. He tosses it, sending out Oshawott as his substitute>

Zane: "Oshawott, Water Gun!"

<Oshawott fires a large amount of water from its mouth, hitting Budew directly and knocking it against a tree. He tosses a Pokéball and it bounces off of Budew, opens, brings it inside, and captures it>

Zane: "Great. Nice work out there, Axew, Oshawott. Let's keep searching for more Pokémon. We've got until midnight tonight to submit all of the Pokémon that we've caught."

<They continue to walk until they come across another Pokémon>

Zane's Pokédex: "Linoone, the Rushing Pokémon. When it spots its prey, it runs after it in a straight line. Though able to run over sixty miles per hour, it is unable to turn."

Zane: *Putting it away* "I think we can use that weakness as a strength for us. Oshawott, you ready?"

Oshawott: "Oshawott!" (I'm ready!)

Zane: Oshawott, Water Pulse Linoone from above!"

<Oshawott jumps into the air and fires a ball of water at Linoone. Linoone runs forward and dodges it. Oshawott lands in Linoone's path as it charges straight at it>

Zane: "Oshawott, slide out of the way!'

<Oshawott slides out of the way of Linoone. Linoone continues forward and heads straight for Zane. He side-steps out of the way as well and Linoone smashes against a tree. It goes to the ground and passes out. He tosses a Pokéball; capturing it and clipping it to his Pokésash. A few more hours have passed since the competition started. Zane stops in the closest clearing of forest ground and checks his Pokédex's clock>

Zane: "5 o' clock. Alright. We still have seven more hours to catch more Pokémon. For now, let's take a break. We've already caught thirteen Pokémon." *Thinking* I wonder how Arthur's doing with catching Pokémon. I bet he's got a hundred Pokémon. He and Escavalier are in-tuned with each other. I wish I could be like that with all of my Pokémon. But we've only been with each other for about a month.

<After some time resting, Zane spots another Pokémon as it trots into the clearing, picking on some of the grass and low-hanging fruits from the nearby trees>

Zane's Pokédex: "Deerling, the Season Pokémon. When sensing confrontation, Deerling hides in the grass. It also changes its appearance as the seasons change."

Zane: "Oshawott, there's another Pokémon! Use your Aqua Jet!"

<Oshawott jumps up from its resting pose and charges at Deerling while forming itself inside rushing water. Oshawott pushes off of the ground and launches at Deerling. Oshawott hits Deerling directly and smashes it against the ground. Zane tosses a Pokéball; capturing it inside it>

Zane: "Yeah! Deerling makes fourteen!"

<Time continues to pass by and Zane hurries back to the building with ten minutes before midnight. He runs into the main lobby, with everyone else already present, and places his Pokéballs on the scanner. Holographic images of each of his Pokémon caught appears on the scoreboard ahead. Arthur walks in and stands next to Zane, putting his captured Pokémon in an adjacent scanner>

Arthur: "Looks like I made it back just in time. Nice to see you're alright, Zane."

Zane: "You too. So, how many Pokémon did you catch?"

Arthur: "Nineteen."

Zane: "Woah, really?!"

Arthur: "Yep. Escavalier fought each of them and doesn't even look tired."

Zane: "Wow. That's amazing. I only caught fourteen."

Arthur: "Only? Fourteen is a big number when it comes to capturing Pokémon, Zane. That's quite an accomplishment if you ask me."

Zane: "Really? It is?"

Arthur: "Yep. You used your own Pokémon to battle and defeat all of those wild Pokémon out there. To capture fourteen different Pokémon with only two Pokémon in a matter of a few hours; that's something that not a whole lot of people can do."

Zane: "Thanks, Arthur."

Arthur: "We're best friends, Zane. I've always got your back."

Amy: *Appearing from behind and wrapping her arms around their shoulders* "Me too!"

<The group finish their night in the main lobby and head back to their room. On the way there, a familiar-looking girl grabs Zane off to the side and covers his mouth to keep him quiet>

???: "Shh. I just want to talk."

Zane: "Hey, you're that girl that I accidentally took for a Pokémon."

???: "Yeah. The name's Holly."

Zane: "Wait, you're Holly? The record-holder of the contest from last year?"

Holly: "Yeah. Nice to meet you."

Zane: "Uh, hi. I'm Zane."

Holly: "Look, Zane, this competition isn't gonna be easy. Tomorrow, we'll be put into teams of two. The purpose of the game is to steal other people's Pokémon that they've captured."

Zane: "Woah. Seriously?"

Holly: "Yes. I have twenty-nine Pokémon from today's contest. In the battles, we can pick who we want to battle with as a partner. I wanted to ask that you join me."

Zane: "Me and you? But, why?"

Holly: "I was watching some of your battles out there and you showed amazing coordination with your Pokémon. You've obviously trained them really well."

Zane: "Uh, thanks."

Holly: "So, you wanna be on a team?"

Zane: "Yeah. Sure." *Thinking* I was gonna choose Arthur once the rules were explained, but I guess being with the record-keeper is the next best thing.

<Zane walks into the room as Arthur and Amy rest on their beds. They both look up from their endless stare at the ceiling>

Amy: "Zane, what happened to you? I thought you were right behind us when we walked in."

Zane: "Sorry about that. I was pulled aside by Holly."

Arthur: "The record-holder from last year?"

Zane: "Yeah. Holly was that girl that I thought was a Pokémon from a couple days ago. She told about how tomorrow was gonna be a team match-up event."

Arthur: "Match-up event, huh? Guess you're gonna be on her team."

Zane: "Yeah. I'm sorry."

Arthur: "No worries, man. It's your choice to pick a partner. I'm not gonna be devastated if you chose someone else."

Zane: "Thanks for being so understanding of this, Arthur. You're a real pal."

Arthur: "Sure thing. Well, we'd better get some rest for tomorrow's matches."

Zane: "Right."

<The following day, all of the participating contestants gather in the outside courtyard again. Mr. Lucas walks up to the stage and stands behind the stationary microphone>

Mr. Lucas: "Welcome to the final day of the Pokémon Catching Competition. I hope you've all had your rest because today is gonna be a test of wits and battling skill. Today, all of you will join in a team of two Pokémon Trainers. Each team member will be allowed to have three Pokémon of any that they brought with them, or from the ones that were caught yesterday. The rules work like this: Two opposing teams will battle in set matches all around the area. There are no substitutions to any Pokémon battles and if you lose, then all of the Pokémon captured from yesterday will go to the winner."

Zane: *Thinking* A team based match-up. If you lose, you lose all of the Pokémon caught from yesterday. That's intense. That means that I can't lose even a single match.

To Be Continued...

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