Ash is surprised to see a long line of Trainers waiting to challenge Skyla, the Mistralton City Gym Leader, and is even more surprised when he’s told he has to make an appointment for their battle! He learns that Skyla has a passion for flying, and to make sure she has enough time to pursue her hobby, she keeps a very tight schedule at her Gym.
And that’s not the only unusual thing about Skyla’s style! As our heroes watch the morning challenges, they learn how Skyla can fit so many battles into a single day: they’re not physical battles, but something she calls "Air Battles," which take place only in her mind! Skyla envisions the outcome of each battle, and within moments, the winners and losers are decided without actually battling.
This infuriates Cilan, who challenges Skyla, Gym Leader to Gym Leader, in an effort to show her what Gym battles should be. She accepts...and wins, much to Cilan’s dismay!
Skyla decides that’s enough for one day, and cancels all her afternoon battles. She’s about to leave when Ash runs up and challenges her, saying that her Air Battles are boring and that Trainers and their Pokémon have to battle for real. Skyla looks over Ash’s Pokémon and declares that she’d beat him easily, so there’s no point in battling, but Ash insists that she has to give him a chance! Can he convince her to battle him for real?
Ash, Iris, and Cilan arrive at Mistralton City, where they are amazed by a plane doing tricks in midair. Ash then runs to what appears to be the Gym, but instead, the sign says Mistralton Cargo Service. Regardless, Ash rushes to the doors, only to be stopped by a Trainer who tells Ash that there is a line to battle the Gym Leader. Ash finds out that he has to reserve a time to battle the Gym Leader. Since all morning battles have been taken, Ash will have to battle in the afternoon. As Ash receives his call slip the same plane that flew overhead lands on the landing strip. The pilot jumps out of the plane and removes her headgear. Skyla greets the crowd and reveals that she is the Gym Leader for the Mistralton Gym.
Skyla approaches the crowd of Trainers to see that there are 15 of them waiting. Ash is surprised and wonders if she can really take on all 15 in the morning alone. Skyla sends out her Pokémon, first a Swoobat, followed by a male Unfezant, and finally a Swanna. The first challenger approaches and sends out his three Pokémon for the battle; a Zebstrika, a Boldore, and an Emolga. Skyla declares an "Air Battle", which confuses Ash and Cilan. Skyla assesses the situation in her mind, predicting how she thinks the battle will play out. In her head she figures that with the type advantage of all three of her opponent's Pokémon has over hers, she promptly gives up without starting a real battle and awards the boy the Jet Badge. As the boy runs off, Ash stops him to ask about the Air Battle.
Meanwhile, the next challenger steps up and sends out her three Pokémon, a Sewaddle a Pansear, and a Leavanny. At the same time, she assesses her opponent's Pokémon and declares with the Bug- and Fire-type team she has, there is no way her challenger can win and thus, no Badge for the girl. Ash is utterly dumbfounded by her Gym Battle format since there is no actual battling involved. One after another, all of Skyla's remaining challengers approach. Some are declared victorious while others leave empty handed. The boy tells Ash that Skyla can simulate the battle solely inside of her head, and will give a Badge to those who she thinks she can't win against. Iris can see the merit behind this system, but Cilan does not look pleased. As the final battle for the morning begins, Skyla does her final Air Battle. As Cilan watches, he grows increasingly aggravated by her style of Gym Battles. Finally after finishing her last battle, Cilan and Ash had enough and both of them walk up to Skyla to question her methods. However she ignores them and promptly flies off in her plane until the afternoon comes.
Cilan snaps, refusing to accept Skyla's way. While Cilan vents his frustration, a man walks up from behind. He too questions Skyla's method and introduces himself as Miles who is also Skyla's grandfather. In the past, Miles was the Gym Leader, but he eventually retired and started the cargo company. Skyla took over and when she first started she would battle the traditional way and she has incredible battling skills. However, due to the mass amounts of challengers she received daily, she could no longer fly in her plane as she pleased. Instead she devised her battling system, which all of her challengers seem to accept, whether they win or lose. Cilan objects, but Miles said he has tried in the past to convince her that her method is wrong, but Skyla shrugs it off saying that everyone is happy with this method and it is much easier this way so she doesn't have to work so hard, labeling the traditional Gym Battling system as old school. Ash is told to go and find another Gym instead, but Ash is more convinced to battle Skyla now and, even more so, Cilan wants to battle her as well.
Finally in the afternoon, Skyla returns from her flight. Cilan cools himself down and apologizes to Skyla for his earlier actions. He formally introduces himself to her as one of the Gym Leaders for the Striaton City Gym. Skyla is eager to meet a fellow Gym Leader. Cilan proposes a battle, which Skyla promptly accepts. Cilan sends out his Pansage, Crustle, and Stunfisk. Skyla does her mental Air Battle once more and deduces that she will win. Cilan, of course, does not think so, stating that they don't know if they don't really battle, but Skyla is confident in her predictions. Cilan convinces her to battle him for real to truly test out her predictions. Inside the gym, Miles, as referee, declares that it will be a 3-on-3 battle. Cilan sends out his Pansage first as Skyla sends out her Swoobat. Pansage starts off with Bullet Seed, however Swoobat dodges then attacks with Air Cutter. Pansage shakes off the attack then jumps up to Bite Swoobat, but Swoobat dodges with ease. Swoobat finishes Pansage off with a Gust.
Cilan thanks Pansage as he returns him to his Poké Ball, then Cilan sends out his Crustle. Crustle unleashes a Rock Wrecker attack which hits Swoobat and instantly knocks it out. Skyla is not fazed since she knew with the advantage of Rock-type moves over Flying-type Pokémon, there was no way for her Swoobat to win. Skyla sends out her Unfezant, confident that the battle is playing out exactly as she thought. Crustle uses Rock Wrecker on Unfezant and scores a clean hit. Unfezant retaliates by using Air Slash but Crustle retreats into its shell, neutralizing the attack. Cilan proceeds to start his Evaluation Time. He criticizes Skyla for not truly bringing out the full potential of her Pokémon since, although they have strong moves, she does not do her Gym Leader job properly by testing the bonds of her Pokémon against her challenger's. Skyla asks if Cilan ever gets tired of those kind of battles, but Cilan says that he can't get enough, since there is no feeling like giving the Badge to a Trainer who deserves it. Skyla simply says it's only a Badge, but Cilan replies there is more to the Badge than just its physical worth. Crustle leaps out of its shell and uses Shell Smash followed by X-Scissor which knocks Unfezant out.
Skyla returns Unfezant to his Poké Ball and sends out Swanna. Once again, Crustle starts off with a Rock Wrecker attack but Swanna dodges. Swanna retaliates with a Bubble Beam, but Crustle retreats to its shell. Swanna attacks with Brave Bird but Crustle jumps up and leaps out of its shell to prepare another Shell Smash. Skyla predicted that they would use that strategy again, so Swanna attacks with Brave Bird as Crustle attacks with X-Scissor. Both attacks collide and after the dust settles, Swanna emerges unharmed while Crustle is knocked out. Skyla admits that Crustle is good, but in the end it still lost. She continues that it's true that you don't always know what will happen unless you do it, but she also says that there are ways that you can. Cilan snaps, declaring that those words are not something a Gym Leader should ever say.
Cilan sends out his Stunfisk and promptly orders it to attack with Thunder Shock which should have done massive damage due to the glaring type advantage the move had over Swanna's Water/Flying-typing, but Swanna comes out okay. Skyla is disappointed that it wasn't a Thunderbolt which would have been much more effective. Swanna attacks with Hurricane. Skyla brags about the power of Hurricane but Cilan reminds her not to be so cocky. Using the Hurricane move to his advantage, Cilan orders Stunfisk to use Scald. With the inertia of Hurricane, Stunfisk's Scald creates a large water dome which douses Swanna and Burns it as well. Swanna begins to cry in pain from the burn but it gives Skyla a reassuring look and starts to use Aqua Ring which cures Swanna of its burn. Stunfisk fires off a few Mud Bomb attacks but Swanna easily dodges all of the shots while Skyla states that she won't let Swanna's wings get dirty. Swanna finishes the battle with Brave Bird, knocking Stunfisk out.
Miles unhappily declares that Skyla is the winner as she continues to boast that she was right in the end. Cilan is crushed that not only did he fail to teach Skyla a lesson, he actually helped to prove her point about Air Battles. Iris and Ash both feel sorry for Cilan as he stands in shock. Skyla, feeling that she has done enough for the day, tells all of the Trainers that that afternoon's Air Battles are cancelled and starts to leave. Ash is finally fed up with her cocky attitude and confronts her personally. He declares that he finds her Air Battles to be boring and wishes to fight her in an official Gym Battle the same way she did with Cilan. However Skyla refuses, only to be stopped by Miles who sides with Ash. Ash declares that there are many Battles as there are Trainers and Pokémon, and doing Air Battles is certainly boring. Miles states that earlier, Skyla said she won't let Swanna's wings get dirty, but, in his eyes, they already are. Skyla accepts to battle Ash. Ash sends out his selections for the battle, but they are not displayed for the viewers at this point. Skyla commends Ash on his team balance, but she is confident that she will win. Ash replies that she will never know for sure unless they battle for real.