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Morning has arrived at the Battle Frontier. On the southern coast of the Battle Frontier island near the Battle Palace, Emerald rolls up the legs of his trousers to expose his platform shoes, and jumps on them once to open up the hidden flaps attached to the base. The flaps on each shoe send out circular tubes to connect together, and soon turns the platform shoes into a pair of water skaters.

With a playful holler, Emerald hops off the coastline, and his two companions, Latios and Latias, swiftly fly in side-by-side holding a wooden handle between them. Emerald grabs the handle, and begins to skate on the water surface with the mythical dragons leading in front. Behind him, Lucy and Anabel sail on the Pike Queen's Milotic, while Greta joins Tucker on his Salamence, and Todd and Brandon ride with Spenser on his Lapras.

Emerald looks back to beckon the Frontier Brains to follow, and all of them start sailing west along the coastline. Suddenly, they come to a steep waterfall, and Emerald isn't aware of it until he feels his feet standing on thin air. Losing grip on the handle, he plummets into the rapid current below, and Latias hurries down to pull him out of the waters while the others descend the waterfall safely.

Todd clings onto the hard shell of Lapras as they resume sailing in the open seas with Emerald as the lead, and recalls what the boy said the day before which brought them to their current voyage…

When Emerald is confronted by the Frontier Brains about his Sceptile at the exit of the Battle Pyramid, he agrees to reveal all he knows, and takes out his Pokedex to display the data of the phantom Pokémon Jirachi, which was the being that appeared in the skies above the Pyramid earlier.

The six Frontier Brains stare at the Pokedex screen with blank looks on their faces, and all seem dumbfounded at what Emerald is saying. Tucker demands to know what he is talking about, and Brandon hollers that he has never seen or even heard of Jirachi before. Greta accuses the boy for making up stories just to defend himself, but Anabel tells everyone to hold their temper, and says she has actually heard of such a Pokémon.

Tucker gasps that Anabel knows of Jirachi, and the Salon Maiden explains that it is an extremely precious Pokémon who awakes once every 1000 years. Emerald nods in agreement, and states that being the wish Pokémon, it can fulfill any kind of wish for the person who catches it. Tucker immediately gets starry eyed upon hearing that, and wants to know if it's true, but Spenser whacks him on the head with his staff and tells him not to interrupt with pointless remarks.

Brandon thinks over what Anabel says, and points out that if Jirachi really wakes up only once every 1000 years, no one in this world could have seen the Pokémon before because all those who did would have been dead by now. Anabel agrees to the statement, and remarks that there has been no reliable documentation about it either, which is why proof about its existence is thin, making the creature nothing more than a spoken myth.

Greta states that assuming what Emerald said is true, Jirachi may be real afterall. Emerald doesn't seem too pleased that they are still doubting his words, but Anabel assures him that they do believe him, the reason being that the little machine he holds bears Jirachi's data. If she isn't mistaken, the high-tech device is the famous Pokedex, which automatically records the ecological data of all captured and encountered Pokémon.

Emerald is a bit surprised that Anabel knows of the Pokedex, and says the device also has a tracking feature, enabling its holder to find out the habitat distribution of any encountered Pokémon across the land. However, while this function works well with ordinary Pokémon, it cannot trace the whereabouts of phantom Pokémon like Jirachi.

Todd wonders how they should locate Jirachi now that it has disappeared from the skies, and Emerald reveals that it did not actually vanish, but in fact turned into a shooting star and landed somewhere on the Frontier Island. Taking a good look around, the boy points his magic hand extensor towards the south near the Battle Palace, and says it is probably around that area. Then, without warning, he leaps to his feet and begins to run off, claiming that he must find and capture the Pokémon before he completely loses track of it.

However, though stunned, the Frontier Brains are not ready to let Emerald go yet. Tucker orders Salamence to stop him, and the dragon quickly gives chase. It clamps its fangs around the boy's bottom before he could run away, and picks him off the ground to bring him back like a little puppy. The Dome Ace demands a further elaboration, and wants to know if Emerald's real intention at the Battle Frontier is to capture Jirachi, while his challenge at the facilities is simply a disguise.

Emerald corrects Tucker that conquering the Battle Frontier is not a disguise but his hobby, and capturing Jirachi is his job. Right now, he is simply overlapping something he wants to do with something he must do within the same period. Todd wonders what it means, and Emerald explains that while Jirachi is said to awake once every 1000 years, a more precise description would be it awakes for 7 days every 1000 years. It just so happens that the predicted 7-day period of the phantom Pokémon's current awakening falls into the same week between the Battle Frontier's opening ceremony and its official opening to outside challengers, which is why he has decided to fulfill both his hobby and his job at the same time.

Tucker starts to get overwhelmed by the information, and hollers that they are not there to learn about phantom Pokémon, but talk about the assailant who attacked Noland. Greta however, points out that the two things may in fact be related, and Tucker wonders why it is the case.

The Arena Tycoon explains that for a phantom being like Jirachi, which is said to grant any wishes to the person who catches it, is naturally a highly sought after Pokémon. It would be logical to assume that the person who attacked Noland has learnt of its awakening at the Battle Frontier during the opening week, and is secretly executing some evil schemes to capture the Pokémon.

Emerald grins that Greta is surprisingly smart, and Greta swiftly smacks him on the head, telling him to mind his attitude. She reminds the boy that he still hasn't proved himself to be innocent as yet, and Emerald sighs that the suspicion on him seems stronger than he thinks. He decides that the best way would be to let the Frontier Brains see for themselves, and tells them to follow him on his quest to capture Jirachi the next day…

And so, on the day following Emerald's Pyramid challenge, all the Frontier Brains, with the exception of Noland, have come along to keep watch on the boy and witness his search for the phantom Pokémon Jirachi.

As the gang makes their way west along the southern shoreline of the Battle Frontier island, Emerald soon spots a cave opening ahead, and believes that it should be where Jirachi has landed. He signals Latios and Latias to stop, and the Frontier Brains also halt their own Pokémon.

Anabel is aware that Emerald seems to have free control of the two mythical dragons, and Greta points out that there is much more to the boy which they must not underestimate. Todd wonders where they are, and Spenser states that it is the Artisans Cave.

Climbing off Lapras to join Emerald at the entrance of the cave, Todd says he has no idea such a place exists at the Battle Frontier, and tells Emerald to wait up for the others. But the boy says he has no time to waste, as he still plans to conquer one of the remaining facilities that day.

The six Frontier Brains dislodge from Lapras, Milotic and Salamence to enter the cave following Emerald's lead, and Greta wonders if it is really as easy as it sounds to capture a phantom Pokémon. Spenser remarks that the Artisans Cave isn't a fun place to visit, and says it is inhabited by unfriendly Smeargles who instantly attack upon seeing intruders.

No sooner has the Palace Maven said that, the gang find themselves face to face with several dozens of wild Smeargles glaring at them inside the dark cave. The painter Pokémon begin charging forward, and Todd tells Emerald to be careful. However, the boy adeptly jumps on top of the creatures, and using their heads as stepping-stones, hops his way across to make his way through.

Todd is surprised that Emerald isn't using his special gun to calm the Smeargles like he did with other rampaging Pokémon before, and suddenly remembers what the boy said about not liking Pokémon, but only Pokémon battles.

Recalling all the times Emerald has come into contact with Pokémon at the Frontier, he realizes that with the exception of Latios and Latias, they were all strictly limited to battling alone, be it the rental Pokémon bound by strict rules inside the facilities, the Pokémon used by virtual trainers, or the Pokémon used by the Frontier Brains. Under any circumstances, Emerald would not use a Pokémon unless there are rules and regulations applied, which shows that the boy only treats Pokémon battling as a sport.

On all the occasions he has used his soil gun, with the exception of Sudowoodo, it was always because the Pokémon were triggered by something to go into rampaging, and as a result broke the rules and breached the fundamental boundaries of battling, which took away the fun for Emerald. Right now in the Artisans Cave, the wild Smeargles are attacking out of their nature and basic instincts. Aside from the fact that their actions are completely voluntary, they also pose no concern to Emerald since no official battling is involved, and the boy naturally wouldn't be bothered to use his gun.

Hopping from head to head, Emerald adeptly evades the attacks of the Smeargles, and grins that he would not battle no matter how many times they come for him, simply because he has no interest in wild battling not bounded by rules.

While the boy makes his way into the interior chamber of the cave, the Frontier Brains have sent out their Pokémon to fight down the Smeargles. Lucy's Milotic delivers an Ice Beam to freeze a couple of them, while Tucker's Salamence claws down several, and Spenser's Crobat knocks back a few with its Poison Fang.

Todd rationalizes that as a journalist, it would be a rare and invaluable chance for him to catch Emerald's capturing of Jirachi on camera. He decides to creep slowly along the cave wall to stay away from the Smeargles, but soon finds that it isn't easy to do. Greta's Umbreon uses Quick Attack to throw back some more Smeargles, but another one suddenly spots Todd and charges towards him.

Just as it is about to score a hit, something knocks it away, and Todd turns around to find a Sudowoodo and Dusclops. He recognizes the Sudowoodo as the same one Emerald saved him from on the first day, while the Dusclops is the wild Pokémon the boy calmed in room 134 at the Battle Pike. Remembering that both Pokémon have been released back to the wild by Emerald, the reporter realizes that they must have returned to help.

A while later, the Frontier Brains have managed to take out all the Smeargles, and enter the interior chamber to join Emerald. The boy is glad that they have made it finally, and says he should get to work immediately.

Suspended in the air right above them, a star-shaped Pokémon who has wish tags hanging over its head glows with a bright light, and slowly opens its eyes while unveiling the silk wrapping around its tiny body. The light intensity soon gets so strong that Todd and the Frontier Brains have to shield their eyes, and Brandon gasps that it is the phantom wish Pokémon, Jirachi.

Emerald stomps with his right platform shoe once on the ground, and a slit glides open to let out seven different Pokeballs made for special purposes, namely the Net Ball, which is best for capturing water and bug Pokémon; the Dive Ball, which increases capture rate underwater; the Nest Ball, which works well for lower level Pokémon; the Repeat Ball, which makes the same Pokémon species easier to capture; the Timer Ball, which capture rate raises with time; the Luxury Ball, which increases the captured Pokémon's loyalty; and the Premium Ball, a fancier version of the normal Pokeball.

Emerald makes a call via his Pokegear to seek advice from someone whom he addresses as Crystal, and Todd wonders who he is talking to. Crystal tells Emerald to pick the Timer Ball, and the boy swiftly positions it in front of him on the ground. Just as he swings his leg back and is about to kick up the ball, a heavy clanking sound fills the cave, and a shadow suddenly appears on the wall…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us




314: VS Smeargle


Volume 27