Lost Leader Strategy!
The episode opens with Ash and co. reaching Veilstone City, but soon they have to take evasive action to dodge balls of energy. Ash identifies them as Aura Spheres and soon come up on a trainer and her Lucario in what appears to be some spirited, yet intense training. Soon Pikachu and Piplup notice an Electabuzz and the 3 begin to fight. The girl has Lucario break up the fight with Aura Sphere... an Aura Sphere that may have been a bit much as Pikachu and the others are stunned. The girl comes up and apologizes though Lucario seems to be a bit stubborn. Soon a man comes up with Electabuzz trying to leave, but to no avail. He soon notices Pikachu and says that its the one that can use Volt Tackle with Ash curious as to how he knows this. He introduces himself as Reggie, Paul's older brother! He then tells Ash that the girl is actually the Gym Leader of Veilstone City, Maylene! Ash asks for a Gym Battle, but Maylene declines as Lucario blasts her with an Aura Sphere(disagreement much)
Reggie and Maylene then explain that it was Paul who insulted Maylene saying that it was the easiest badge he's ever won. She soon runs off and Dawn offers to help asking Lucario if it knows where Maylene went. Lucario nods and runs off along with Dawn and Piplup. Team Rocket decide they should try and steal Lucario while it seems to distrust its trainer.
Ash and Brock follow Reggie back to his house discussing various things, including Ash's battles with Paul thus far. Meanwhile, Dawn catches up to Maylene thanks to Lucario and explains that she's been taking a break from Contests as well after failing to make the 2nd round in 2 straight contests. After Team Rocket comes in to try and convince Lucario to join them, only to be met by a Bone Rush to send them blasting off, Dawn and Maylene decide to have a battle to help them both gain their confidence back.
Meanwhile Ash and Reggie have decided to have a battle and are preparing for it as Dawn and Maylene return. The 1st round is Reggie's Bibarel against Ash's Turtwig. Turtwig's Energy Ball is unable to hit though Bibarel isn't having much better luck with Super Fang. Bibarel then uses Secret Power and the grassy area around them causes the side affect to be sleep! Bibarel then lands a powerful Ice Beam on a sleeping Turtwig. Thankfully for Ash, it wakes up in time to dodge Super Fang. Turtwig lands a Razor Leaf though Bibarel gets back up, ready to fire another Ice Beam before Turtwig can launch Energy Ball! Ash thinks quick and has Turtwig jump to dodge the attack and Energy Ball hits its mark this time with Bibarel being KOed.
Reggie sends out Swalot while Ash calls on Staravia. Staravia hits with Quick Attack while Swalot uses Stockpile. Ash then has Staravia go into Aerial Ace, but Swalot is able to use Stockpile again. Brock realizes that the energy is growing inside of Swalot's body and that it could be trouble once it's released. Ash has Staravia use Aerial Ace again, but this time, Swalot assaults Staravia with a powerful Spit Up attack. Staravia still isn't out and Ash has it use Aerial Ace one more time, but it is intercepted by a Sludge Bomb which takes too much out of Staravia. Reggie says that there's a move he'd like to show Ash and that Staravia could learn it. Ash has Staravia watch and Reggie sends out Staraptor, the evolved form of Staravia!
Playing to type advantage, Ash decides to use Pikachu for the final round. Staraptor goes for Wing Attack and Ash has Pikachu dodge and use Thunderbolt. Staraptor gets out of the way and Reggie has Staraptor use Brave Bird. Ash has Pikachu use the spin dodge they used against Roark, but Staraptor spreads its wings at the last second to catch Pikachu. It then slams Pikachu into the ground with Brave Bird. Ash is shocked by the power, but notices that Staraptor also appeared to take damage. Staraptor comes in with Steel Wing while Pikachu uses Iron Tail to dodge and go into Volt Tackle on the returning Steel Wing. The attacks collide resulting in an explosion. The smoke clears and although Pikachu is struggling to stand, Staraptor is out for the count, giving Ash the win!
Ash and Reggie congratulate each other on a great battle with Ash acknowledging that Brave Bird was the move Reggie thinks Staravia can learn. Ash agrees to start training Staravia to use Brave Bird effectively, but before he can challenge Maylene to a Gym Battle, Dawn announces her challenge! The episode ends with that.