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Frontier Town Civic Courtyard

Leaf glanced around at the others to see their reactions, checking their surroundings in the process. Was Ayda talking about battling them right here, right now? The mayor's courtyard wasn't exactly a designated sparring arena. Then again, neither was running circles around the fountain in the square, and that'd worked out okay. Prooobably Lucien wouldn't appreciate them tearing up the gardens all over again, though.

"Right to the point, I like it," she said, nodding, smile unwavering. "I'm game. When and where?"
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Sick. Koa grinned and shot a glance at Leaf. He liked her drive. "I'm game," he said confidently. "I wouldn't expect anything less."

Ayda was probably tough but between all of them he felt confident they could give a good fight. Good enough to prove what they could do.
Yeah, that pretty much was what Jade had been expecting. It was the Pokemon way, after all.

"I'm assuming it wouldn't be against all of us," Jade said slowly. "What sort of matchup?" Sheer force of numbers wouldn't really show what they were capable of, any more than getting all forty of the Rebellion kids to gang up on Stalker way back when would have.
Ayda nodded approvingly at the question.

"Let's have a battleground well out of the way of town. There are some good spots along the river where we won't disturb the peace any."

The Dewott took a few steps forward to look more closely at the gathered challengers, almost looking as if she could somehow tell how strong they were by sight alone. She sniffed pensively.

"Bring half a dozen or so of your best. You'll fight me an' Razael, workin' as a team. You'll get to see how rangers operate together. If you can best us three to one, that'll go a long way to provin' your worth as potential recruits. Or allies, as it may be. I know y'all are gonna have somethin' of a team structure sooner or later, and far be in from me to compromise that."
Prim gritted her teeth. More fighting. Just what the doctor ordered. At least this would be another friendly spar—she'd actually enjoyed the last one, and that one was only friendly after a certain fashion. The rangers couldn't possibly be tougher than those Tsainanese wanderswords, could they? And, she realized with a resigned sort of excitement, if she could prove herself this way first, then her extra experience... Well, that would just be an added bonus.

"Sounds about right to me," she said. "Half a dozen, eh? Well, four of us here, though I'll forgive anyone whose idea of a good time doesn't involve their shit getting kicked in. I'm sure we can scrounge together a couple more."

It was impossible to deny there was something exciting about it. She remembered clearly the day she'd become a wandersword. They'd made her prove her strength then too. Her technique was sloppy back then, of course—all fury and offense—but her heart had been so full of conviction that day it had carried her through to the end. You could fight just a little harder if you felt in your soul that it was for the right reasons. Prim didn't know enough about the rangers to say whether this reason was right yet, but the twinkle in Ayda's eye told her all she needed to know: it beat poking cows.
Koa faced Ayda back, feeling a surge of familiar confidence. A half dozen, like a pokemon team. Yeah, he could do that. And it sounded like the members of their little 'team' who'd come to see the rangers were equally ready to test their mettle.

"We can do that. Just tell us where and when, and we can show you our skill." He hoped he didn't sound arrogant... Something inside him was just itching for a good fight, and one where they weren't at risk of being torn about by some crazed feral beast. Just some good old fashioned combat. "I look forward to battling you."
Ayda grinned, and a couple digits on one paw twitched, as if she had an itchy trigger finger.

"Oh, I'd throw down with ya right this minute! But that wouldn't let you show me your best, now, would it? Nah, I'll see y'all at high noon this Drakesday. Second day of Winds, right Razael? Right."

The dragon smiled peacefully. "Drakesday is an auspicious day for battle."

"Sure. I just figured it'd give 'em the whole of Oresday to prepare and round folks up, since today's the festival and all. Alright, you lot heard me – day after tomorrow, high noon. That oughta be just past twelve-noon by the clocks, this time of year. Get a team together, train up, put a strategy together, and what-have-you."

The otter ran a claw along her scalchop, and allowed herself a competitive smirk.

"Or I could put you on yer backsides right now. Give y'all a taste of what to expect?"
Koa sized up Ayda. Out of his league. Even considering his type advantage. But why let that stop him? Every battle was a chance to learn. He met her gaze boldly, without fear. This was one loss he was fine with, but he also hoped he could put on a decent show and learn something.

"I'd fight you," he said, stepping forward. "I want to see what you've got." His tone was more of a friendly taunt than an arrogant one.
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Prim let out a laugh at the whelp's boldness. "You're an eager one, aren't you?"

She had no interest in joining in the fun herself, but she wouldn't stop the elektrike—it might not be a bad thing to get an idea of the ranger's fighting style in advance. She had to respect the pup's courage, and if she'd learned anything about the sensibilities of this world's residents, she guessed that Ayda would probably respect it too.

One of her old mentor's oft-repeated adages sprung to mind, and she repeated it herself with a fond smile, knocking her own forehead with a knuckle to drive the point home:

"Well, if you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough."
Half a dozen or so of their best. Well, Jade didn't remotely feel like that included her, but if she wasn't trying to move forward, then what was she even doing here? And she'd volunteered for things while having waaay less credit to her name in the past.

"High noon on Drakesday," she repeated, drilling it into her memory. "We'll be ready."
"We'll be there!" She stomped a hoof decisively. Someone would definitely remind her when Drakesday was supposed to be. Hardly surprising that the others here were up for it, too. Who else would they be able to drum up? Would the others who fought the samurai be interested? Maybe Archie or Rodion? From what little they'd talked about, it sounded like Archie might be interested in helping the rangers out with exploring, at least. They definitely had options.

Leaf hadn't been sure if Ayda was joking about fighting them right this second. Guess not, if Koamaru was willing to jump in. "You got this," she said, giving him a nod. Even if the dewott was strong—and you probably didn't get to be head of the ranger union if you were just a paper pusher—with all the training he did, he'd be able to give her a run for her money.
"Glad to hear it," said Ayda, grinning at the keen young whelps volunteering for an ass-kicking.

You never knew – sometimes kids and adolescent youths could surprise you. Battlehearts were battlehearts at any age. The saints knew Ayda had been one when she was only a pup.

She eyed Koa, and neatly drew a scalchop from its holster.

"Try an' hit me then, kid."
Koa quickly reviewed everything he could remember about Dewott. Water-type, skilled in speed and physical strikes. Good in close quarters. Used their scalchops to strike powerful slicing blows. Probably semi-abidextrous too, so aiming for an off-hand would'nt do much. Paw to paw combat was a risk. But he also preferred close combat. He'd done some ranged striking but they couldn't match the force he could put into his physical blows.

If he couldn't win; then he would learn. Maybe he couldn't match her speed yet but if he could slow her a little... Acting quicky he dropped into a balanced fighting stance, then lunged with Mach Punch. He feinted the blow, stopping short and instead fired a Thunder Wave to try and stun her.
Ayda moved instantly to parry the punch, hardly surprised at all by the unusual move – but she didn't dodge the electrical wave. Her face took up a fierce smirk as her body seized. She was pleased.

The Dewott's paw tensed, and a jet of water shot from just near her hip, on a direct trajectory with Koa's muzzle.

Dewott Ayda's Water Pulse dealt 16 dmg! Koa was Confused!
Koa blinked, then blinked again, gritting his teeth in frustration as a rush of dizziness swept over him. He shook off the attack, trying to focus on Ayda, except now there were at least two of her, and the ground kept swaying. Water Pulse. He made a mental note of that.

His thoughts flashed for a second to his first battle against Kitto and Jackie. Could he-?

Focus... Electricty crackled over his pelt and into his paw. Then he slapped it across his muzzle. A stifled yelp escaped him as a jolt shot through his body, snapping his vision back into focus. The ground stopped swaying and the second Ayda vanished. He grinned. Yes!

No time to waste. Surging forward, he charged at her with a Quick Attack, hoping the edge of speed and her being slowed might give him a good hit.
Ayda nodded approvingly, took the hit with a grunt, and—

Ayda's Razor Shell! A critical hit! KO!!

—put Koa straight on his flank in a blur of violent motion.

"You've got style, kid," she said, appreciatively.

The Dewott ranger knelt to offer Koa a paw and help him to his feet, once he'd had a moment to stop seeing stars.
So thats how it felt. Aside from the fight at the Gala, which was more of a brawl anyway, this was his first proper sparring match. No wonder Scrapper and his team loved it so much. There was nothing else like it back home.

Once his vision settled, he took Ayda's paw and stood up, shaking off the lingering buzz. Already a part of him wanted to fight her again, but he restrained the urge. Now wasn't the time. He'd get her on the rematch. "Thanks," he said earnestly. For a moment, he found himself envying her speed and dexterity. Maybe if they impressed her she could show him some moves...

He smirked. "I look forward to our rematch." Next time, he wasn't going to lose. "Next time I'm not losing," he said determinedly. His mind was already trying to work through who he could ask to help. Prim and Leaf for sure...
Ayda gave a little huff of air from her nose in amusement.

"Is that right? Well, even with that type advantage o' yers, I'd say you'd got some trainin' to do afore you can best me in a duel. But maybe you an' yer pals can get the best of us two in an uneven fight. That'd be somethin' to see on its own."

The Dewott holstered her scalchop with an easy, confident thunk, and stood at ease.

"Well, now that the lad's battleheart is sated for the moment, might any of y'all have any questions fer us?"
Leaf stepped aside to clear the way for Koamaru and Ayda, watching eagerly. And then stopped watching because it was over already, oops. He'd done pretty well while it lasted, though! Trying to slow her down and play hit and run was probably the best you could ask for when fighting an opponent that might as well've been a brick wall. (Little disappointing that it hadn't actually told them anything about her other than that she was confident as, well. Y'know. A brick wall.)

Didn't matter much at the end of the day, though. Getting strong enough to 1-v-1 Ayda was a cool thought, but they were here to get stronger together. Together with each other, and hopefully, by the end of whenever Drakesday was, with the Ranger Union as well. They weren't going to lose.

"Don't think so." She shook her head at Ayda's question. "Appreciate you hearing us out—you won't be disappointed!"

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Ch03: The Pinks and the Blues [Odette & Koa]
How have I not come here yet?

Odette had been afraid that such a small town would quickly leave her with no room to explore, but she was continuously being proved wrong. To think, the entire group had been inside the mayoral mansion not weeks ago, and this was the first time she'd set foot in the courtyard. Sitting under the shade of one of the trees--an actual green tree--she realized what a crime that was.

She didn't want to train today. She didn't want to mess around on the backstage piano at Sun Stone. She didn't want to plot about how she was going to refrain from barfing when she started sucking up to Nolan. Everything had been such a whirlwind lately, so it was nice to take a couple of minutes to just sit in the shade of a tended-to garden and just feel the breeze on her face. Something to keep her and her second head mostly sane.

The garden really was beautiful; something she wouldn't have expected to see out in the desert. The longer she sat, the more certain she was it was in the running to become her favorite place in town. It reminded her so much of the peacefulness that the gardens of the San--

She jolted slightly, her shoulders tensing. Though, she couldn't quite understand why. It wasn't like those times were bad. If anything, they were distinctly wonderful for a while. Especially because he was there with her.

For a moment, she swore she could smell the dainty aroma of pecha-laced smoke.

I miss him.

In an angry attempt to shed the thought, she picked up a rock and geared up to fling it into a nearby bush. However, she stopped short when she saw a ball of familiar blue pass by.
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