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Gotta Puck Them All!

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“Matt, Matt, you need to wake up,” Jonas urged, shaking Matt’s shoulder.

Matt groaned, swatted at his friend, and rolled over to burrito himself in his blanket in hopes of returning to slumber. He didn’t know what Jonas was doing there, but he just wanted to sleep. He had been up too late last night, unable to fall asleep because he was supposed to get his starter pokémon in the morning from Professor Koivu. In the morning.

Matt bolted upright and looked around. Blinding sunlight streamed in through his open window half silhouetting Jonas, but he could still make out the pinched expression on the other boy’s face. Jonas only looked like that when he was stressed, but didn’t want to say anything.

“What time is it?” Matt asked.

“After ten,” Jonas said. They were supposed to be at the professor’s place two hours ago. “I already went to Professor Koivu’s lab and got my pokémon. I thought you would be there, otherwise I would have come here first.”

“It’s cool,” Matt said, leaping out of bed. He dropped to the ground, looking for his pants from yesterday. There wasn’t really time to dress, but Matt needed his ID. Without it as proof he had completed his trainer classes, Professor Koivu couldn’t give him a pokémon. Matt thought that was a stupid rule, especially since his mother worked for the professor and he’d been in and out of the lab on a near daily basis since before he could walk, but Professor Koivu had always been a stickler for the rules.

“Even if you’re late you still ought to be able to get a pokémon,” Jonas reassured him. “Professor Koivu always makes a point to have extras on hand just in case.”

“Yeah, but the fire types are always the first to go and I need my charmander,” Matt said. He’d been dreaming for years of getting a charmander and evolving it into a charizard so that he could go soaring through the skies on a fire breathing dragon (even though technically charizard was actually a fire-flying type and not dragon in the slightest).

“Maybe he saved one for you?”

“Naw, Professor Koivu believes in giving everyone an equal shot without any unfair advantage. If he didn’t save a pokémon for his nephew, there’s no way he saved one for me.”

Matt finally found his pants half under his bed. Pulling them out triumphantly, he checked the pockets for his ID and then put them on before running out the door. He could hear Jonas running after him, but Matt didn’t slow down. After all, Jonas already had his pokémon.

Matt only lived six blocks away from Professor Koivu’s lab, but the run today was the longest in his life. Just as he got close enough to see the top of the lab, he was rudely halted in his tracks by a familiar foe. Jacob Trouba stood in the middle of the sidewalk with a sneer on his face.

“Didn’t think you were gonna show, Dumbo,” Trouba said.

Matt rolled his eyes. Kids had been calling him some form of dumb ever since they understood the concept of last names. Thanks to a certain movie that shall remain nameless, Matt hated phanpys—especially the flying variety—with a passion, but he hated Trouba more. He never used Matt’s real name and simply talked around it when teachers were present until Matt lost his temper and got in trouble. Jonas said he was so troublesome it had become part of his name, which always made Matt laugh, but he didn’t think that was true.

“Out of my way,” Matt said. “I’m late enough as it is and I don’t need you making me later.”

“Aww, that’s no way to treat a friend. I wanted you to meet my pokémon,” Trouba said. He threw a pokéball, sending out a totodile, which eagerly ran around him snapping its jaws. “This is Donnie and he likes to bite.”

Matt stepped forward. He wanted to just walk by Trouba, but Donnie’s snapping jaws made him leery. He didn’t want to be bitten, then he’d never reach Professor Koivu’s in time. Trouba laughed at Matt’s hesitation.

“Let me handle this,” Jonas said. He lifted up his pokéball and out shot a bulbasaur. “If you need someone’s attention, Jacob, you can have mine.”

Trouba simply glared at the grass pokémon, clearly aware of type advantage.

“Go on, Matt, Professor Koivu might still have a fire pokémon left,” Jonas said. “We’ll be fine.”

“Wait,” Trouba said, shock etched across his face as Matt ran past. He could hear Trouba shouting at Jonas as he ran toward the lab. “What do you mean Professor Koivu could run out of fire pokémon? He’s a pokémon professor! Dumbo has to get a fire pokémon, otherwise how can I beat him when we battle?”

Perhaps Trouba had more to say on the subject of Matt’s pokémon choices, but Matt had reached the lab. Rushing inside, he paused to catch his breath and locate Professor Koivu. There weren’t that many other kids around, which made sense considering the late hour; they all already had a pokémon partner. Finally Matt spotted Professor Koivu across the room in conversation with his mother. Weaving his way through the crowd Matt made a beeline for the pair.

“Matt, I was wondering what had happened to you,” Professor Koivu greeted him jovially. “We were beginning to get worried.”

“Why didn’t you wake me?” Matt demanded, glaring accusingly at his mother.

“Honey, if you’re old enough to have a pokémon, then you’re old enough to set your own alarm clock,” Mom chided. “Besides, I had to get here long before you needed to wake up to help Professor Koivu set up. If you really wanted someone else to check on you, you should have asked Dad or maybe Jonas.”

“Sorry Mom,” Matt mumbled. Now that he thought about it, he vaguely remembered her asking if he had set an alarm while he was watching Elite Four member Julie Chu crush a challenger with her aegislash last night.

“Well, now that everything’s settled, do you want a pokémon?” Professor Koivu asked.

“Please,” Matt said eagerly.

Professor Koivu led Matt into a smaller room. Even though Matt had never been inside before, he immediately recognized it as the professor’s office. The walls were covered in photos, plaques, and bookcases bursting with books, and a massive wooden desk overflowing with papers dominated the room. One top of a precarious pile sat a dozen pokéballs on a blanket to keep them from rolling off and opening.

“Let’s see what’s left,” Professor Koivu said. He bent over the pokéballs and examined them one by one. “We have a squirtle, two chikoritas, mudkip, turtwig, chimchar, snivy, tepig, chespin, and froakie. Which would you like?”

“Oh… no more charmanders,” Matt said, unable to keep the disappointment out of his voice. Even though he knew being late meant he probably couldn’t get one, he had still hoped.

“No, but there are still two fire types left.” Professor Koivu picked up two pokéballs and let out the Pokémon, revealing a red pig and a red monkey. “Tepig and chimchar are both excellent choices if you want a fire type.”

Matt eyed both pokémon. Neither one was what he wanted, but they both seemed friendly enough. When the chimchar leapt onto his shoulder and nickered into his ear, Matt knew which one was his starter. “I’ll take this one.”

“You sure? Once you pick you can’t change your decision,” Koivu said.

“I’m sure,” Matt said. The chimchar cheeped happily as the professor passed Matt its pokéball. “Now I just need to give this little guy a name.”

“Little girl, actually,” Professor Koivu corrected. “It’s rare in starter pokémon, but you have a female chimchar there. My research focuses on pokémon gender. While there is typically a 7:1 ratio of males to females in starter pokémon, I have lowered that disparity in some species. Mostly the reptiles, due to the fact their gender is determined by temperature.”

“Are you saying chimchar is a lizard?” Matt asked, feeling confused. The chimchar glared at him.

“Oh of course not. She is a monotremes, as you ought to have been taught in trainer school.” Professor Koivu rubbed his jaw. “I was simply trying to explain I have more female starters than the average pokémon professor because I’m trying to crack how to determine pokémon gender. Haven’t made much headway for the monotremes, but I can almost guarantee what gender a reptile pokémon’s offspring will be if I have control of the environmental conditions under which the egg is incubated.”

“Cool,” Matt said. That actually explained a lot of what his mom did and why she was always complaining about incubator temperature settings. “If she’s a girl, I’ll name her Princess Jasmine, Jasmine for short. She’s always been the best Disney princess.”

“Okay then,” Professor Koivu said, obviously not having any strong opinions on the Disney princesses.

“Great,” Matt grinned. He petted Jasmine’s head then attached her pokéball to his belt. Normally he’d have her ride in her pokéball, but for now he wanted to show her off. “Come on, Jasmine, I can’t wait to introduce you to Mom and Jonas!” With that, Matt ran out of the office, leaving the Professor to put the other pokémon away.

Being a pokémon trainer was harder than Matt thought it would be. It had been four days since he got Jasmine and while things started out okay, he’d been lost in the woods for three days. Despite the fact he was less than a full day’s walk—on ten-year-old legs no less—from home none of the kids he ran into in this forest were people he recognized. They ought to have been kids from school, but instead they were all shorts wearing bug-obsessed freaks. Wandering through all the tall grass and foliage in just shorts was a terrible idea. Seriously, hadn’t they ever heard of ticks?

All of the bug specialists kept challenging him to battles. It was great experience for Jasmine, but she was wearing out and Matt needed to find a pokécenter. The only pokémon he’d caught since his adventure started was a pidgey and that was right before entering this stupid forest, so he wasn’t ready for battle either. He just needed to find his way out of the woods and then there’d be a town, or a road that would lead him to a town, where he could heal his pokémon. Matt would persevere.

There was a large rustling in the bushes near him. Matt groaned. It was too big to be any of the caterpies, weedles, rattatas, or occasional oddish he had so far found in the woods, which meant it was another trainer. A lot of the bug-type trainers liked to sneak up on a guy as if that would make the fight go easier for them before crying and sulking when they lost. Matt was sick of it.

“Stop hiding in the bushes and fight like a man, you bug freak!” Matt shouted, throwing a small rock at the bushes. He refused to be ambushed again. This time he’d not only beat the other kid, but he’d make the bug catcher lead him out of the woods.

There was a strange hiss. To Matt’s horror a scyther flew out of the foliage straight at him. Screaming, Matt turned and ran. It was a mindless run fueled by fear. He didn’t know where he was going, what he was stepping on, and barely registered any major objects in his path because he was too focused on what was behind. He had seen scythers slice through solid wood like it was butter and heard they did the same with bone, which was the last thing he wanted to happen to his bones.

Eventually Matt hit blinding sunlight. Unfortunately he also hit a tree root at the same time and down he went. Pain shot through his knees while a deadly wind rushed over him. The fall had momentarily saved him from the scyther.

“Scyther!” howled the scyther, slashing at empty air.

“Jasmine go,” Matt whispered, throwing his pokéball. He needed help scaring off the scyther. Better a fainted chimchar than a dead kid, which seemed to be the only other option.

Jasmine leaped forward, putting on a better show than Matt expected considering she was badly injured. The scyther wheeled around and made a beeline for Jasmine, barely giving her time to react. Matt shouted for fire and instantly Jasmine blasted the scyther with the best burst she could manage. The scyther lit up like a bundle of straw, halting it in its tracks.

“Scyther!” the scyther screamed. It flailed, which only fanned the flames.

“Chimchar,” Jasmine said and she looked to Matt for direction.

Perhaps he could finish the scyther off, but it looked like it was in so much pain. Despite the danger he had just been in he didn’t want to kill the pokémon, just keep it from killing him. Matt dug around in his backpack to see what was there. He was out of potions and burn heals, but there was a great ball he found behind a sign in the woods. Supposedly being in a pokéball kept a pokémon from feeling most status effects, which ought to put the scyther out of its misery.

Since there was nothing to lose Matt threw the great ball. His aim was true and it hit the scyther, pulling the pokémon inside with a flash of red light. The great ball wiggled on the ground. Once. Twice. Three times and then a click.

“Yes!” Matt laughed, pumping a fist into the air. He hugged Jasmine and then limped over to hesitantly pick up the great ball. The scyther stayed inside. In relief Matt attached it to his belt. Looking around he spotted the leading out of the woods a few dozen yards away. With a sigh he headed for it, assured it would eventually lead him to a town and a pokécenter.

It turned out Matt had been more lost than he thought. Somehow instead of ending up by one of the towns near his home he had ended up on the outskirts of Jasper. Either Matt was a much more efficient walker than humanly possible, or that woods had time and space bending capability. Matt suspected the latter; it was an awful woods.

Luckily, the pokécenters worked just fine here. Matt not only got his pokémon healed, but also got a real bed in which to spend the night. In the morning he decided to explore the city and see the sights. If he remembered correctly, there was supposed to be a gym in the city. While he didn’t exactly feel like he was ready for a real gym battle, Matt wasn’t about to pass up such an opportunity, especially after catching such a dangerous scyther yesterday. He decided to practice a bit with his new pokémon and then hit up the gym. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Restocking his supplies took almost no time at all. Then Matt wandered around the city testing his pokémon on any trainers who wanted a fight. His scyther was a lot stronger than he had realized; he must have been already injured when Matt first met him. Scyther didn’t always listen to him and Matt didn’t know all of its moves, but he felt like he had a much firmer grasp on the pokémon’s powers after the mantis destroyed the third trainer’s pokémon. Pidgey wasn’t the slightest bit impressive in comparison, but Matt figured things would change with an evolution.

It was time to face the gym leader. Finding the Jasper gym wasn’t that difficult of a task, as it was an important landmark with signs directing trainers to its location, but it still took Matt a while to get there. When he finally arrived it was late afternoon. More shockingly Trouba was already standing outside the gym arguing with one of the gym acolytes. It seemed the acolyte wouldn’t let the boy inside.

“This is an outrage!” Trouba shouted. “These facilities are expected to be open seven days a week, which means the gym leader should be available for a battle right now!”

“I’m sorry, but he is unable to battle right now,” the acolyte said firmly. “If you wish to fight, please come back later.”

“Why can’t the gym leader fight? Is he ill?” Matt asked. Before the acolyte could respond Trouba whirled around.

“Dumbo, what are you doing here?” Trouba demanded, then decided to fill in his own reasoning instead of letting Matt talk. “You must have caught the bus route like I did, though I would have thought you’d head straight to Edmonton and Fujimoto’s grass gym. Bet you weren’t able to take out Quick’s flying gym in Banff like I did.”

“No,” Matt said, not bothering to mention he never actually found Banff.

“Figures,” Trouba snickered. He shot another glare at the acolyte then shrugged. “Whatever, if this gym leader can’t fight, he’s not worth my time waiting around. Off to fight Fujimoto like you should have done, Dumbo, and then maybe head home to show off my new badges. Maybe take on Wickenheiser too. I bet my Croconaw’s tough enough to beat her.” With that he stalked away.

“Now that he’s gone, could you please tell me why your gym isn’t accepting challengers right now? Is your leader sick?” Matt asked. Since he was polite the acolyte relaxed a little.

“If that twerp was willing to be a little more patient he’d be able to fight our leader tonight,” the acolyte sighed. “He’s fine—just busy watching ballet and refuses to be interrupted mid show.”

“Wait a minute, today’s the first Sunday of the month?” Matt asked. At the acolyte’s nod he groaned. On the first Sunday of every month the Public Broadcasting Channel showed a famous pokéballet in the afternoon to give the general public a taste of culture. “Aww man, I was supposed to watch this month’s Pokéballet with my mom. It’s an all eeveelution cast of Rusalka.”

“Would you like to watch the rest of the show?” the acolyte offered. “The whole gym generally watches on the training screen, so it’s like a big movie. We hadn’t even reached the sea witch yet when your friend interrupted.”

“Please,” Matt said eagerly, “and Trouba’s not my friend. He’s the worst thorn in my side I’ve ever encountered.”

“Makes sense. I’m Devon, but most people call me Dubs,” the acolyte said, bending down and offering Matt a hand.

Matt gladly shook it and shared his own name. Then Dubs let him inside and led him down several corridors until they reached a large room. It held a dozen people and twice as many beanbag chairs. Matt also noticed a lot of fairy pokémon, which probably meant that was the gym’s specialty. The room was designed facing the far wall, which was about half the size of a normal movie theater screen and prominently played the pokéballet.

“Wow,” Matt said.

“I know, it’s a great set up to watch anything,” Dubs said, though he was a bit hard to hear over the soaring music. “Do you see that guy up in front between the clefable and sylveon and surrounded by a dozen Kleenex boxes? That’s our fearless leader. You’re welcome to sit by him if you’d like, but don’t try talking to him until it’s over. That brat made me miss the rest of the first half and intermission..”

“Got it,” Matt said.

He did decide to sit by him, mostly because that was front and center where he’d have the best view of the show. The company had cast a vaporeon in the role of the little mermaid, which made sense for a dozen reasons including aesthetics, but it still surprised Matt because he had never seen her play lead before. Usually that went to a more experienced pokémon. Opposite the vaporeon was a premier flareon Matt had seen in a host of productions and together they made things absolutely steamy on stage. The story was so compelling Matt didn’t stir again until the final curtain went down and he found himself clapping with the rest of the gym.

“Magnificent,” the gym leader cried, rising in ovation. “Simply magnificent.”

“I hadn’t realized that vaporeon was ready for a leading role, but she was fantastic,” Matt said.

“Then you did not see Eela’s solo as the blue fairy in Sleeping Beauty,” he said. “I am Ilya Bryzgalov, leader of the Jasper Fairy Gym. You can call me Bryz as most people do. So you like pokéballet?”

“Yes,” Matt nodded. “My parents and I went to Montreal last year and saw Peter Pan with Sparky the Pikachu. There was a Roserade playing Tinkerbell and I think Hook was a Krookodile.”

“Ah yes, that would be the Dancing with Dewgongs Company. They put on good pokéballet,” Bryz nodded. “You came for a battle, yes?”

“Well, sort of. I came to the gym for that, but then I found out you were watching Rusalka and I wanted to see that more,” Matt explained.

“Good,” Bryz nodded. “I like you. We will battle and then win or lose you shall stay for dinner.”

“Wait, shouldn’t he face some of us first?” another acolyte asked. Bryz shook his head.

“He likes pokéballet so I will fight him. Then dinner,” Bryz explained.

That wasn’t the sort of logic Matt was used to, but he’d happily accept it. Everyone followed Bryz to the gym’s main hall where there was a proper fighting ring set up. Matt was pointed to the plainer side, which clearly belonged to the challenger, while Bryz headed to the more ornate end. The rest of the group sat down on bleachers to one side. Dubs gave Matt a thumbs up when the trainer caught his eye.

“How many gyms have you beaten?” Bryz asked.

“None. This is my first gym battle,” Matt said, feeling a little self-conscious.

“Lucky,” Bryz laughed. “How many pokémon have you caught?”

“I have three total.”

“Then I will use two.”

Bryz pulled a pokéball off his belt and hurled it into the center of the ring. Out popped a dedenne, who wiped his little whiskers and twitched his ears. Since Matt didn’t think any of his pokémon were particularly effective against fairy-type he sent Jasmine into the fray. While Scyther might technically be stronger than Jasmine, Matt trusted her far more in a fight.

“Chim!” Jasmine howled, ready for a fight. With that the fight began.

Dedenne’s tail whipped out at Jasmine and knocked her off her feet. However, she was up again clawing at the little mouse before any sparks could fly. Matt thought Jasmine’s fury swipes had Dedenne on the ropes until he let out an absolutely massive electrical charge that first fried Jasmine and then rebounded back onto Dedenne. To Matt’s shock, the fairy pokémon looked healthier after being electrified, while his own was almost wiped out. Jasmine’s flames were low, but she still managed to shoot a few at her foe. She missed. Dedenne moved in for the KO.

Suddenly Jasmine burst into bright white light. This was enough to halt the mouse in its tracks as the light expanded. It disappeared as quickly as it appeared leaving behind a larger monkey with different markings. Jasmine had evolved into a monferno!

“Quick, mach punch!” Matt shouted.

Jasmine complied and slammed a fist directly into Dedenne before he could react. It seemed to have little effect and the mouse barely moved. Bryz sighed and shook his head.

“Don’t you know anything about fairies?” he asked. “Fairies are resistant to fighting-type. You should know this before challenging the fairy gym leader.”

Dedenne hit Jasmine with thunder shock. At first Matt thought this caused his pokémon to faint, but Jasmine was still hanging on. She hit Dedenne with flame wheel and then laid into him with another round of fury swipes before he could react. Eventually though she hit her limit and fell onto the mouse. They both hit the ground and lay there.

“A double KO,” Bryz mused, raising his pokéball. “Nice work, Dedenne, return.”

Matt also recalled Jasmine. He whispered that she did a great job to the pokéball, but knew that she couldn’t hear him. Win or lose this battle he’d let her know he was proud of her as soon as she recovered. This time Matt didn’t wait to see what Bryz sent out, since of his options left Scyther was the only valid one. Bryz just shook his head at the sight of the bug pokémon and sent Clefable into battle.

“I am not so sure you should have picked a fight with me,” Bryz said. “Fairies are also resistant to bug-type. If your last pokémon is dark or dragon I will laugh until I cry.”

“Crap,” Matt mumbled. He regretted writing fairy pokémon off as too girly to bother with in school. Fairy-type was awesome, especially if it could take out dragons.

Scyther flew straight at Clefable as he was wont to do. He hacked and cut with a fury that had Clefable defensively retreating to avoid having anything actually sliced off its personage. Still, neither the fairy nor its trainer seemed particularly worried by this aggressive display, which was when Matt realized Scyther wasn’t actually doing much damage. Instead, Clefable seemed content letting Scyther tire himself out and when the mantis finally paused Clefable hit him with a dazzling gleam. Not only did it do serious damage, Scyther seemed stunned by the attack.

Matt tried to get Scyther’s head back in the game, but before he could Clefable raised a finger and wagged it back and forth. An icy wind rose and blew around the hall. Scyther’s movements became sluggish and he was clearly hurt by the cold. That was Matt’s first time seeing metronome in action. He felt out of his depth and didn’t know what to do.

“Scyther, buddy, hang in there!” Matt cheered his pokémon on. “Just like, focus.”

To his surprise, Scyther actually did as suggested. He stopped moving, closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. When Scyther opened his eyes again he seemed a little calmer and ready to fight. Even more unexpectedly, he glanced over his shoulder at Matt as if expecting direction.

“Use wing attack!” Matt shouted, hoping Scyther actually knew that move. He thought he saw the pokémon use it on a zigzagoon earlier today.

Yet again Scyther hurled himself at the Clefable. This time he smacked the other pokémon in the face with his wing and it clearly hurt. Clefable flinched. Scyther repeated the move again and again until Clefable was bloody. Matt cheered him on. He could almost taste victory and feel the shiny new badge in his hand.

Just as Scyther moved in for the final blow Clefable used dazzling gleam again. Reeling, Scyther was hit by another metronome. For the second time in as many days the poor bug pokémon was set on fire, this time with a fire punch. Shrieking in pain and anguish, the overtaxed pokémon collapsed. As he was clearly unable to continue Matt recalled him.

Clefable was clearly injured, but it seemed more than capable of taking out Matt’s Pidgey. Still, Matt sent out his final pokémon because he wasn’t ready to give up. The fairy took one look at Pidgey and started singing. Pidgey fell asleep. Matt tore through his bag looking for an awakening, but all he could find were antidotes, burn heals, and paralyze heals. Clefable advanced upon the little bird and repeatedly double slapped him until he woke up. Before Pidgey could do anything Clefable put him back to sleep with another lullaby.

Matt shouted and clapped trying to wake his last pokémon, but his attempts weren’t very effective. When Pidgey woke, again from the double slaps, he limped about the ring. Clefable opened its mouth and sang a third time. It didn’t work. Pidgey finally retaliated hitting Clefable with a small gust of wind. It was damaging, but didn’t do enough. Clefable used dazzling gleam again and while it practically blinded Matt, Pidgey dodged the attack to launch one of his own. He flew at the fairy and, with wings glinting like steel, slammed both wings into his foe. The super effective move sent Clefable flying into the wall and after a moment it fell to the floor unmoving.

“Enough,” Bryz said, calling Clefable back into its pokémon. “You win, Matt, good battle.”

“Yes!” Matt laughed. He ran up to Pidgey and gingerly pulled the hurt bird into a hug. Pidgey happily chirped back. After extensive praise Matt put Pidgey back into his pokéball for a well-earned rest. Then he walked over to Bryz, who was clapping.

“Congratulations, you have earned the Sprite Badge. This is proof you defeated my fairy gym. Collect another seven badges from Western Canada and you can challenge the Elite Four.”

“Thanks,” Matt grinned, accepting the badge. It looked a little like a blue pixie. He carefully pinned it to the outside leather case of his pokédex and stuffed it back into his jacket pocket.

“Come on,” Bryz said, motioning for Matt to follow him. “Let’s get our pokémon patched up. I have a revitalization tool in this side room.”

Matt followed him into the side room. He had never seen a pokécenter set up outside of a pokécenter before, but Bryz had the same tools. Since they had only used five pokémon between them they were able to heal them all at once. As they waited for their friends to heal they made a little small talk about Matt’s pokémon journey and Bryz’s career. Eventually their pokémon were healed, which was when Bryz reminded him that Matt was expected to attend dinner.

“Do you know why I like living in Jasper?” Bryz asked as they headed to the dining hall.

“No why?” Matt asked.

“Parks!” Bryz laughed, placing a hand on the trainer’s shoulder. “This entire town is surrounded National Parkland and in fact the town itself is considered a park. You can never live in a place with too many parks. That’s why I could never live in Winnipeg, not enough parks.”

“I see,” Matt said.

Bryz continued to expound upon the qualities parks and nature even as the pair sat down at the dinner table. Matt found himself wedged between Dubs and another acolyte at the table in front of a massive spread. Everyone seemed used to their gym leader’s eccentric and listened with good cheer. It was one of the most unusual and enjoyable meals Matt had attended in a long time. Afterward Dubs walked him back to the pokécenter.

“It was nice meeting you, Matt. Everyone at the gym wishes you the best going forward. I’m certain if you ever decided to specialize in fairy-types Bryz would be delighted to take you on as a student,” Dubs said. “You did a great job dealing with type disadvantage and if you keep it up Bryz said you could end up a pokémon master.”

“Thank you,” Matt said feeling touched.

As he waved goodbye to Dubs Matt felt his spirits soar. It didn’t matter what Trouba thought of him, others had faith in his abilities. More importantly, Matt had the badge to prove he could cut it as a pokémon trainer. He didn’t know if he was headed to Banff or Edmonton next, but wherever his journey led him, Matt couldn’t wait to see what was in store.