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In the maintenance room of the Battle Factory, the shadow lurking up behind Noland without warning lashes out to strike, and with that one hit knocks the man unconscious on the ground. The shadow reveals itself to be a tall man in armour, with only his right eye showing through the medieval style helmet.

He comments that Noland, being the Factory Head, is the Frontier Brain with an expertise in rental Pokémon. He hopes that the man wouldn't mind lending him a hand in obtaining something he wants, and walks over to meddle with the master computer. As he types in commands to access the rental Pokémon, he wonders where that one Pokémon he seeks currently is, the legendary wish Pokémon, Jirachi, who only awakes seven days in every 1000 years.

At the Battle Pike, Todd gasps in shock as he watches the fight between Lucy and Emerald on the monitor screen. Emerald's Blissey has slammed down Lucy's Seviper with a Seismic Toss immediately after the battle commences, and the giant snake now lies motionless on the ground. However, Seviper is hardly knocked out. Instead, it is secretly oozing venom out from its fangs, which is slowly pooling towards Blissey.

Emerald and Blissey are completely oblivious to the poisonous liquid until it sips through the happiness Pokémon's feet, but it is too late by then. Blissey hops away quickly in horror, and Emerald sees that it is already poisoned. Lucy giggles that the move Seviper has just used is Poison Fang, and Blissey is not simply poisoned, but badly poisoned. In an ordinary poisoned status, a fixed amount of health is drained away from the Pokémon each turn. But when one is badly poisoned, the damage increases significantly by time, making the Pokémon faint much faster.

Emerald hesitates with a troubled look as Blissey tumbles onto the ground with its skin turning a shade of purple. Todd wonders why the boy hasn't made preparations to safeguard Blissey from status effects, and Lucy asks with a smirk if he has forgotten to give it a berry. Emerald grunts that he has attached a Pecha Berry to it, but the item has already been used in the battle just preceding this.

Todd then recalls that challengers must go through all 140 rooms without access to health restoration devices or items. It has been well over eight hours since Emerald started his challenge, which is apparently boring many reporters since most are either snoozing off or busy with their own work. With the need to clear nearly 70 events without stop, it is indeed quite impossible for any berries or status-correcting held items to remain by the time one reaches Lucy.

Thinking his strategy over, Emerald grunts that his Pokémon will knock out its opponent before fainting itself, and orders Blissey forward to attack. However, Lucy swiftly switches her Shuckle in after kissing its Pokeball, and the worm Pokémon defends against Blissey's strike with its rock-hard shell.

Emerald grits his teeth in frustration, and Lucy grins that Shuckle may not be a good attacker, but its extremely high defenses make it a favourable candidate to stall time. Emerald decides to switch Pokémon as well, and calls out Starmie. Todd feels that things are getting optimistic again since water types are strong against Shuckle's rock type, and hopes that Starmie will faint it in one hit.

The purple starfish shoots out a stream of water from its jewelled core, and blasts Shuckle across the room. However, Emerald quickly notices that Shuckle has used Protect, and didn't receive a single injury from the hit. Todd gasps that Lucy seems to have predicted Emerald's actions and stumped his every move, and knows that the Pike Queen no doubt lives up to the name of a Frontier Brain. He then sees Starmie twitching in pain, and realizes that Shuckle has poisoned it with Toxic.

While Shuckle is pulling off the attack, Emerald grabs the chance to command a Surf from Starmie, and a gigantic wave instantly washes in to drown the worm Pokémon, leaving it knocked out and completely drenched on the ground.

Lucy seems amused that Emerald succeeded in defeating her Shuckle, and retrieves her fainted Pokémon. But she also points out that Starmie is now poisoned, and says it doesn't seem to be able to heal itself since its held item, the Lum Berry, has already been used way early in the challenge. At the Battle Pike, one-off items like berries cannot be replenished. However, at certain times, a single berry can make a whole difference to the outcome of the battle, which is why luck is so important at the facility.

Lucy grins that Emerald's luck seems to have run out, and wonders if he will switch Pokémon again, since Starmie's Nature Cure ability will negate its poisoned status once it is retrieved into a Pokeball, just like his Blissey who shares the same ability and is now cured. Between continuing the fight with a poisoned status and sacrificing a turn to switch Pokémon, she tells Emerald to think over his choices and puts on a smirk.

Seeing the troubled look on Emerald's face, Todd knows that Lucy is trying to provoke him to sway his decisions. Right now, the only Pokémon with full health on Emerald's party is Rapidash, while that on Lucy's team is Milotic, which has a type advantage over Rapidash. Since both trainers have knowledge of each other's lineup, Lucy will certainly send out the water serpent once Emerald switches in the fire horse, and the boy is clearly aware of this.

After another moment of thought, Emerald makes up his mind and decides to stick to Starmie. Lucy sneers at his stubbornness, and releases Milotic from its Pokeball. Starmie quickly delivers a Psychic, but Milotic creates a Mirror Coat around itself and reflects the energy blast back to its opponent. Todd remembers that Mirror Coat deals not only an equal but doubled amount of damage to the original attacker, and sees that Starmie is already on the verge of falling.

Lucy tells Milotic to finish off its foe, but Emerald isn't ready to give up yet. Making use of Starmie's higher speed, he orders a Thunderbolt, and the starfish sends a bolt of electricity coursing through the water serpent's body, fainting in one powerful hit. However, Starmie's badly poisoned status drains away the last bit of its own strength, and it collapses to the ground next to its opponent, making the round a double knock out.

Lucy compliments Emerald for putting Thunderbolt on Starmie's move list, which is highly effective on water types, and says it is no wonder he was so keen to keep it on the battlefield against her Milotic. The Pike Queen then sends Seviper back out, which is her last Pokémon, and Emerald calls forward Rapidash on his side. Rapidash delivers a powerful kick with its hind legs, but Seviper dodges with its blade-like tail, and throws its coiled body onto the fire horse.

Watching the two Pokémon struggle with each other, Todd wonders if Emerald has prepared means for Rapidash to counter the poisoned status, since Seviper's Poison Fang easily poisons a Pokémon badly. He recalls that Rapidash's Flame Wheel was capable of dealing with the frozen status, but it doesn't seem to hold any items for negating poisons, or at least, the item is no longer there. In a blink of eye, Rapidash gets poisoned by Seviper's Poison Fang just like Blissey was, and Todd gasps that his fear has come true.

Just then, Todd hears a rumbling in the curtains behind him, and sees that Scott and three other Frontier Brains, Pyramid King Brandon, Arena Tycoon Greta and Dome Ace Tucker have arrived to watch the battle. While the four have expected to see Emerald begging for mercy under Lucy's poison fangs, they are all taken by surprise when they realize that Lucy is already down to her last Pokémon.

The four decide to watch the real fight instead of seeing it on the screen, and head out to the balcony just behind the theatre room, which in fact looks over the small room where the battle is taking place. Greta cheers for Lucy and says she must secure the name of the Frontier Brains, and Tucker tells her to topple the boy and break his nose.

Lucy commands a Giga Drain from Seviper, and the black serpent swiftly clamps its poisoned opponent between its fangs to drain its health away. Rapidash collapses to the ground, and Todd exclaims that the fire horse is down as well. Emerald sends out Blissey again, and Lucy grins that they both have one Pokémon left now. She orders Seviper forward to end the fight with a Crunch, and Emerald has Blissey retaliate with a Seismic Toss.

The two Pokémon struggle to dodge each other's attacks while trying to deliver their own, and everyone watches the intense battle intently. Seviper charges forward to crunch down, but Blissey rolls to the side, and grabs the serpent's tail to flip it over. Seviper quickly gets up to strike again, and Blissey, unable to evade this time, shows a look of pain as it uses all its might to hold back the giant fangs. Todd sees that Lucy seems to be gaining the upper hand, but Emerald grunts that his Blissey wouldn't give up easily with its bold nature which powers up its defense.

Pulling its head away from Blissey, Seviper thrusts its heavy tail forward, and rams its foe into the wall. The impact is apparently too much for Blissey to take, and the pink egg lets out a gasp of air as it tumbles onto the ground. Brandon, Greta and Tucker cheer that that Lucy has won, but the Pike Queen halts them and says something seems weird.

A soft clinging sound is soon heard on the battle field, and everyone wonders where it comes from. Suddenly, Seviper bursts into flames, and Brandon recognizes it as an Overheat attack. Lucy quickly turns around, and to her shock, sees that Emerald's Rapidash is still standing. Seviper soon faints from the powerful damage inflicted, and Todd, who charges out from the theatre room to the balcony, is astonished that Emerald has turned the table around so unexpectedly.

Lucy is confused as to what has happened, and hears the clinging again. She then bolts with realization, and looks over to Emerald's fainted Blissey, whose egg inside its front pouch is no long there, and on careful hearing, is the source of the soft bell sound. The Pike Queen exclaims that it was the combination of Heal Bell and Softboiled, and finally understands that when Emerald sent the happiness Pokémon back to battle, his intention was not to win with its strength, but to secretly heal his Rapidash which he didn't retrieve into his Pokeball.

With Heal Bell, Rapidash's badly poisoned status was removed, and the health it lost was also replenished by Softboiled. In fact, Emerald's Blissey was not intended to be a battler in the first place. Its only damage inflicting attack is seismic toss, and all its other moves are for either healing itself or its team companions.

Emerald does a victory sign with his magic hand extensor, and Lucy pulls on his ear, calling him a tricky boy. She remarks that it is a big feat nevertheless to have conquered all 140 rooms, and says it is Emerald's luck, or more precisely, his strength to draw luck to himself. She pulls out a golden badge with the letter L on it, and says it is the Luck Symbol rewarded to trainers who have completed the Battle Pike challenge.

However, just like when he received the Knowledge Symbol, Emerald doesn't seem to care much about it, and says his gratitude with a nonchalant look before tossing the badge behind. Todd hurries down from the balcony to pick it up, and helps Emerald insert it into his Frontier Pass, scowling that the boy has no idea what he is throwing away.

Emerald then points towards Brandon on the balcony, addressing him as the green uncle, and warns him to get prepared, as he will challenge his facility the next day. Brandon gets furious at the name, and grits his teeth in anger while Greta tries to calm him. After announcing his choice of the next facility, Emerald turns to head back to the previous big room, and Lucy says he could take the exit at the end of the room instead of going back all the way to the entrance. But Emerald explains that he wants to take a walk to cool himself down, and waves thank you to Lucy.

Todd however, knows that the boy must have other reasons for that, quickly trails after him. They soon come face to face with one of the female attendants stationed at the big rooms, and Emerald states that he has come back to find her.

This maiden, who has bright red hair, telepathically asks Emerald if he has found any suspicious looking Pokémon like Sceptile while he was inside the small rooms with wild Pokémon events, and the boy reveals that there were several, including room 18, 56, 134 and a few others. He adds that while he isn't sure what, but something have clearly triggered them to go into rampage, and he shall now go back to take care of them with his gun.

He then pulls out his E-shooter which he used to calm Sudowoodo and Sceptile before, and Todd gasps with surprise. The truth is, he has no idea what Emerald is talking about, because he couldn't hear a single word coming out from the maiden's mouth all along, and finds himself totally lost with Emerald's words. He requests to know what is going on, and suddenly sees the body of the female attendant blurring. He quickly rubs his eyes, and to his astonishment, notices a familiar silhouette taking form behind the maiden…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us




310: VS Shuckle


Volume 27