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At the tree house city of Fortree, Ruby and Sapphire holler in shock when they lay eyes on each other for the first time since their departure near Slateport. Wallace sets his air-car to descend towards the ground, and asks if Ruby and Sapphire have met before. Sapphire slaps Ruby hard on the back, and grins that they not only know each other, but share a rivalry in between, which Winona and Wallace are surprised to hear. Ruby demands to know what Sapphire is doing there, and Sapphire snickers that Fortree is an inevitable stop for her quest to conquer all Hoenn gyms. She questions Ruby's intention of being in the city, however, and says she sees no reason why he should be present at an all-Hoenn-gymleaders meeting there.

Ruby bolts in horror upon hearing that all gymleaders are in Fortree, and quickly hides himself behind Wallace's air-car. Wallace, Winona and Sapphire are baffled by Ruby's eccentric behaviour, and the boy slowly takes a peek at the other four gymleaders who are coming over to join them. To his relief, Norman isn't among them, and he lets out a deep sigh, but then he finds it odd why his father isn't included in the meeting, and wonders what he is up to. Gathering all the gymleaders who are present, Winona remarks that the emergency level remains at 7. She requests that they all stay in Fortree for the moment, and says they shall have another discussion over their strategies to handle the current happenings in Hoenn after Tate and Liza arrive.

As Roxanne, Brawly, Wattson and Flannery return to the headquarters in the Tree Tower, Ruby and Sapphire tag after their respective new teachers, and arrive on two grassy platforms adjoined by a small bridge and supported by giant trees. Ruby remarks that he is surprised to know Wallace is the gymleader of Sootopolis, and Wallace smirks that he didn't expect Ruby to be the son of a gymleader either. Ruby realizes that Wallace must have overheard what Ty said in the laboratory of Prof. Cozmo, and once again tries to brush off the matter. He tells Wallace that it doesn't matter who he is because his heart is only at contests, but he sees that Wallace isn't really listening and seems to be lost in thought. Wallace suddenly sends out his Seaking, Charles and has it unleash one of the water tricks it excels at, and Ruby and his Pokémon immeadiately exclaim over the elegance of beauty of the attack. He thinks that Wallace must be trying to help him polish his contest moves, and says he shall conquer the hyper and master ranks without trouble if he acquires such skills.

However, Wallace is actually having something else in mind. After wetting the trees with Charles's water attacks, he walks over to inspect the plants and sees that the leaves remain heavily moist even after a long time, a sign indicating a high humidity in the air. He rationalizes to himself that the cease of Mt. Chimney's volcanic activity must have something to do with it, and decides to go off for an investigation. Ruby, on the other hand, is still imitating and practicing Wallace's elegant movements, and is surprised to see that Wallace is heading back to his air-car. Wallace explains that he can't assure Ruby's safety in the place he's going, and tells the boy to wait for him in Fortree. The Sootopolis gymleader then lifts off, and Ruby watches his teacher depart with a confused look on his face.

Meanwhile, on the adjacent grassy platform, Sapphire wonders if Winona is planning to have a training session, and the Fortree gymleader says she needs to polish Sapphire's skills since they will be needing her in their fight to protect Hoenn. She calls out her Altaria, and tells Sapphire to begin attacking. Sapphire orders a blazekick from her Chaka, and the Blaziken quickly swings its flaming leg up, only to be blocked by Altaria's cloud-like wings. Winona barks at Sapphire's wrong choice of move, and explains that powerful attacks like blazekick require time to unleash, which gives the chance for fast opponents like flying types to dodge or evade. She states that Sapphire should either pick attacks with lower power but higher accuracy, or adjust the striking points by guessing the foe's reactions. She teaches Sapphire to anticipate the direction to which the opposing Pokémon will duck towards, and says varying the attacking pattern instead of having head on confrontations every time will help confuse the enemy.

Sapphire continues to perfect her attacks under Winona's direction, and soon pants from all the hard work. The telecom system in Winona's helmet suddenly beeps, and Winona answers to find Roxanne and Brawly requesting a word with her. She tells Sapphire to wait for her there, and takes off on her Altaria, leaving the girl to watch her depart with a confused look on her face.

Left behind by their repsective teachers, Ruby and Sapphire look over at each other and have a moment of silence. Sapphire then walks over, and tries to make conversation. Ruby's Popo suddenly flies over to the girl with an excited expression, and Sapphire immediately recognizes it as the same Castform she fought alongside with on route 104. Ruby is surprised to know that Popo is acquainted with Sapphire, and the girl happily hugs it while praising its cuteness. Ruby joins in to compliment on Popo, and the two soon go hysteric with the little Pokémon as their common enthusiasm.

Popo takes a baffled look at the two who were bickering at each other not long ago, and it is only then that Ruby realizes he is actually talking about cuteness with the barbarian girl who disdained Pokémon contests. Sapphire sees that she has been too carried away as well, and quickly backs away in embarrassment. Ruby teases that Sapphire seems to have toned down her wilderness today, and Sapphire frowns that Ruby is always picking on her. Ruby begins to feel the awkwardness building up in the conversation, and states that being fastidious is a part of his character. Sapphire goes silent for a moment, and suddenly apologizes to Ruby for her aggressive attitude towards him since they first met. This freaks Ruby out, and he wonders what has gone wrong with Sapphire. Not knowing how to respond, he teases once again that Sapphire finally starts to act like a girl. Sapphire gets crossed, and says she might not be a typical girl, but she also enjoys cute things and has the dream to be with someone she likes.

Suddenly, the ground trembles vigorously, and Ruby hollers that it is another of the recurring earthquake attacks. He remarks that it seems to be even stronger than the one in the Petalburg Woods, and sees that wild Pokémon are starting to flee from their habitats. A nest of Taillows hurriedly spread their wings to fly off, and several Spoinks hop out from the trees and try to escape as they could by using bounce. A tribe of Grumpigs then charge out from the trees out of panic, and Sapphire hurriedly tells Ruby to run, but little does she know that one of the Grumpigs is heading straight towards her, and soon gets knocked off her feet. She lands right in the middle of the path of the fleeing Grumpigs, and gasps in horror when one of them is about to stomp on her.

Struggling to evade the ramapaging himself, Ruby quickly calls out Nana, and order a take down from it. In a flash of light, all the Grumpigs get knocked out and lie unconscious on the ground. Ruby pants to regain his breath, and suddenly realizes he has made a mistake. Surprised by what she has just witnessed, Sapphire wears a look of disbelief on her face, and wonders since when has Ruby become this strong…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us




227: VS. Grumpig (Part One)!


Volume 19