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Standing at the entrance of the Battle Arena, Anabel stops Scott in his tracks, and with a stern face, demands to know if their owner has known of everything right from the start, about the phantom Pokémon Jirachi, as well as the armoured man who is after it, named Guile Hideout.

Behind them, the gathered press is starting to get unsettled and wonders why the facility challenge is still not commencing with the return of the Frontier Brains. Several reporters notice that Anabel, who is the leader of the Brains, is engaging in a serious conversation with Scott, and a few others soon spot the wounds and ragged clothes on the other Brains, suggesting that they have just been involved in a fierce battle.

Mumbles begin to arise from the entire crowd, and only then are the Frontier Brains alerted to the scene they're causing. Tucker and Brandon know that they must find a way to put the speculations to rest before anything negative comes out of it, and think hard to come up with some gimmick.

Suddenly, Tucker's Salamence spits out a ball of fire which explodes in the sky above, grabbing everyone's attention and causing some to cry out in surprise. The Dome Ace then hovers high up on Salamence with Greta behind him, and with a gleeful tone, assures the reporters not to be worried. He explains that they were just having a special training session together in order to put up better performances in the upcoming battles. He apologizes on behalf of all the Brains for keeping everyone waiting, and says they were so engaged in the training that they totally forgot about the time.

However, he is sure that the press will be pleased with the results of their training, and in a swift move, leans back to scoop Greta up around her waist, stating that their Arena Tycoon will demonstrate just how well they've trained. Slightly taken by surprise, Greta plays along, and with a nervous look, welcomes everyone to enter the Arena.

A while later, after the press has settled down in the audience stand inside the stadium, Greta stands in the center of the stage with her three Pokémon, Umbreon, Heracross and Shedinja, and announces that the Battle Arena fight will be held in the style of an elimination combat. Next to her, Emerald licks his lips in anticipation, and gets ready for his fourth Frontier challenge.

Meanwhile, Todd is wandering along the corridors in another part of the Battle Arena. He knows for sure that the gig pulled off by Tucker and Greta out there was just to distract the press from what really happened, and believes that Scott and Anabel are carrying on their discussion elsewhere right now. He soon manages to find what he's looking for, and sees the other five Frontier Brains pressing answers from Scott, who is resting his elbows against a wooden fence and gazing at the waters below.

With a serious tone, Scott repeats the questions that are asked of him, and wonders if the Brains are sure they want to know. When the Brains remain affirmative, Scott suddenly breaks into his cheerful and zealous attitude, and grins that he indeed knows of everything right from the start. The enthusiastic and straightforward reply causes all the Brains and Todd to sweatdrop, and Scott gives Anabel a playful nudge, wondering how she figured it all out.

Anabel seems a bit annoyed, and says there is no particular reason, but from his calm reactions when they told him they will be heading to the Artisans Cave with Emerald, and when he saw them coming back wounded, it is clear that he already expected those to happen. Scott then giggles as he makes a cheerful face, and wonders if that is the calm reaction she is talking about. Anabel gets ticked off at the joke, and demands to know why Scott is hiding things from them.

Just as quickly as he has snapped into the cheerful attitude a moment ago, Scott's face turns serious again, and questions if the Brains have made up their mind to become stronger. The remark causes the five Brains to share looks of confusion among themselves, and Anabel wonders what Scott means.

The chubby man pulls out a book with the silhouette of Jirachi and a letter 'R' on the cover, and says it all began with the confidential report. He flips open the document, and explains that it holds all the information passed on by words from the people who witnessed Jirachi's awakening 1000 years ago, with detailed events from its waking and its return to slumber. Based on these information, there are also people who have tried to postulate where Jirachi shall awake next.

Todd is a little taken aback that the data in the report has been passed on for 1000 years solely by words, and Scott assures him that it is true. Scott then resumes his explanation, and says there is a professor who has done a full analysis of the report's information, and correctly predicted the time of place of Jirachi's current awakening. This professor, in fact, is no other than the renowned Prof. Oak, a top authority in the Pokémon world across all regions.

Back when the Battle Frontier was still under construction, Prof. Oak himself has contacted Scott personally and told him all about Jirachi. From Oak's own words, the phantom Pokémon is expected to awaken at the location B9214 of Hoenn, the exact spot where the Battle Frontier is going to be erected.

Scott was astonished since he has also heard of Jirachi but thought it was just a myth, and Prof. Oak admitted he was not convinced previously either, but he has recently gained access to a special report which has compiled all that is known about the Pokémon.

The truth was, the report originally belonged to Team Rocket, and Brinca, the old lady residing in the Sevii Islands who is the guardian of the ultimate attacks, has broken into the evil organization's secret storage room inside the Trainer Tower of Seven Island during a showdown, and the report was one of the many things that she snatched from them. Of course, Oak did not reveal all this to Scott, and simply stated that a woman named Brinca obtained it via some special way.

However, Scott was curious as to what Prof. Oak intended to do with Jirachi, and Oak made no effort to hide the fact that he hopes to capture it, for he has a wish that needed to be fulfilled, and without Jirachi's power, there doesn't seem to be any other possible way. Scott assured Oak that he is welcome to visit the place for his capture any time he wishes, and Oak was genuinely grateful for the Frontier owner's warm gesture.

Unfortunately, things weren't as simple. Oak revealed that someone else is apparently after Jirachi as well. The night before, a person dressed in armour with a sword has broken into his science lab and stole a disk containing the data of the secret report, severely injuring his Pokémon there in the process who were trying to safeguard the place. From what he saw in the recording of his hidden camera, this mysterious person appeared to be a very powerful foe.

The secret Jirachi report in fact comprises mainly of ancient documentations, and many of them have not been fully interpreted and understood yet. Perhaps it is fortunate that the stolen disk does not contain much of the analyzed data, but it does hold information about the location and date of Jirachi's next awakening, which is why this mysterious foe will definitely visit the Battle Frontier during the seven days when Jirachi awakes, from the July 1 to July 7 that year.

It so happens that this period coincides with the opening week of the Battle Frontier, and Prof. Oak had concerns that the large amount of press people present during the time would be subjected to danger, and thus tried to persuade Scott to delay the event. Yet Scott stood firm on the matter, claiming that the Battle Frontier was his biggest dream, and he would not let anything interfere with its grand opening.

Scott was confident that his team of seven powerful trainers, the Frontier Brains, would be able to stand up and defeat anyone who's after Jirachi, and told Oak not to worry. The professor finally conceded and accepted Scott's decision, but insisted that he send over a Pokedex holder of his own choice to guard Jirachi, which Scott didn't have any objections to.

Todd realizes with a start that the Pokedex holder sent off by Prof. Oak is Emerald, but Tucker is less than pleased after hearing the whole story. He grips his fists in anger, and blames Scott for not telling them all that beforehand. He yells that they would have been more prepared for it, and could have certainly spared Noland from the tragedy that happened to him.

However, Scott isn't so sure. With a cold tone, he wonders if the knowledge of the situation alone would help them win against Guile Hideout. He states that when one is weak, he would still lose no matter how much he knows. On the contrary, if one is strong, he would still win no matter how little he knows.

Tucker is left speechless at the remark, and Scott walks over to glide open one of the windows which looks over the Battle Arena's stadium stage, where Greta is commencing her first battle against Emerald. Scott states that Emerald has proven himself to Greta as a worthy trainer in the Artisans Cave, and that is probably why Greta allows the boy to challenge her right away without going through virtual trainers.

Down on the stage, Emerald orders Sceptile forward and commands a Leaf Blade, but Greta's Heracross catches the grass Pokémon's striking forearm with its horn, and with a powerful thrust, sends its opponent tumbling backwards. Sceptile swiftly regains its stance and delivers a series of Leaf Blades, and on the third swipe manages to knock Heracross across the stage floor.

Scott grins that Emerald is keeping himself fully engaged in the battle as always, unflinching, uncompromising, simply focusing on defeating his opponent with all his might. He remarks that while the boy has conquered the Factory, the Pike and the Pyramid, he never relied on sly tricks but always emerged victorious the proper way. Scott believes that Brandon and Lucy would agree with him on that, and the two Frontier Brains admit that they have nothing to counter that statement.

Scott then says he would be lying if he says he isn't the least bit upset about what happened to Noland, but if Noland had been stronger, no one knows whether the same would have happened. Turning around to face his Frontier Brains, the chubby man states that they would encounter the enemy again in 3 days time, starting from tomorrow, perhaps even earlier, and wonders if they are ready to face the challenge again. Tucker hollers that he will be ready, and is determined to defeat their enemy this time.

Scott seems pleased with the answer, and says for the sake of that, the Brains must power up themselves to become stronger. He points his finger to Anabel, Spenser and Tucker, and states that the remaining facilities Emerald has yet to challenge will be made into training grounds. Not training grounds for Emerald, but instead, for the Brains themselves.

Anabel grins that it seems ironic how they themselves have become the challengers now, but says they shall abide by their owner's orders. She turns around to her five companions, and says the Battle Frontier will soon be officially open to the public, and powerful trainers will soon come flocking in. She hopes that everyone of them will be able to stand proud in front of their own facility to take on all challengers by then, and encourages them to make good use of their current chance. Lucy, Brandon, Spenser and Tucker all put on wide grins, and affirm their determination to Anabel.

The five Frontier Brains then head down to the Arena's stadium, with Scott and Todd tagging behind, and emerge from a balcony looking over the stage, where Emerald's Sceptile is still fighting against Greta's Heracross. Tucker and Brandon yell at the top of their voice to cheer for Greta, and the Arena Tycoon promises to do her best. She orders Heracross to make its final move, and the blue beetle delivers a Megahorn to send Sceptile flying up into the air and crashing back down onto the stage.

Brandon remarks that the attack is a direct hit, and Tucker wonders if Greta has won, but quickly sees that Emerald Sceptile has yet to be defeated and is struggling to get back on its feet. However, the referee, being a virtual Blackbelt, announces the end of the 3-turn battle, and proceeds to judge each Pokémon's performance to determine the round's winner.

Todd is surprised that such a rule is employed at the Battle Arena, and the virtual Blackbelt states that judgment will be made based on three aspects: mind, skill and body. The score board next to the stage soon shows a triangle for both Emerald and Greta in the skill aspect, while circles for Greta and crosses for Emerald in mind and body, granting Greta a total of 5 points against Emerald's 1. The virtual Blackbelt then pronounces Greta the winner of that round, and the Frontier Brains all rejoice over it.

A five-minute break is then given to both sides, and Todd worriedly asks if Emerald is feeling all right, since he just came back from the battle against the armoured man. Emerald grins that it is only fair since Greta herself had no chance to rest after the fight either. Todd then notices Sudowoodo and Dusclops standing behind Emerald with Sceptile, and is astounded that they are the Pokémon he is going to use for the current challenge.

Sceptile bends down to rub its cheek against Emerald's, and the boy puts on a somewhat clueless and embarrassed expression, saying that the three seem to have grown attached to him. Todd recalls how they protected Emerald against Guile in the Artisans Cave, and agrees with a sweatdrop that it seems to be the case.

Just then, the 5-minute interval is over, and the virtual Blackbelt commences the second round of the Arena challenge. Standing in front of Sceptile, Dusclops and Sudowoodo, Emerald gets into a combative stance as Greta does the same next to her Umbreon, Heracross and Shedinja.

At the Battle Arena, challenges are carried out in the form of 3 vs 3 elimination combats. Since Sceptile has already lost to Heracross in the first battle, Emerald knows that he must regain the upper hand against the blue beetle in this next match with his second Pokémon, Dusclops.

Without hesitation, Emerald orders a Psychic, and Dusclops swiftly throws Heracross off its feet with the powerful attack. Todd cheers that it is a super effective attack, and says it should allow Dusclops to score high in the skill category. Emerald grins that an offensive move will also earn points in the mind department, at the same time lowering its foe's HP to gain advantage in the body area. In contrast, Heracross's signature fighting attacks will do no good in the battle, since being a ghost type, Dusclops is immune to all of them.

Soon, the virtual Blackbelt referee blows his whistle to end the match, and Todd remembers that in the Battle Arena, each battle only lasts for 3 rounds, after which judgment will be made on 3 categories: mind, skill and body. He pulls out his guidebook on the Frontier facilities' rules, and reads that the mind score depends on the amount of attacks made. The more offensive moves are used, the higher the score. On the other hand, a Pokémon who only uses defensive moves will be considered weak-minded and scored low.

The skill category is based on the effectiveness of the attacks used, and naturally super effective moves will earn higher points while non-effective ones are given little credit. Finally, the body department is determined by the end of 3 turns, granting higher scores to the Pokémon whose remaining HP is higher.

Although the order of Pokémon line up cannot be changed once decided, the utilization of such a judging system makes it possible to reward victory to a Pokémon whose type is disadvantageous against its opponent.

Just then, the results of Emerald and Greta's second battle is out, and Emerald beats Greta with a score of 5 to 2. Since the winning Pokémon must remain on the battlefield, Emerald continues with Dusclops, while Greta proceeds to send out her second Pokémon, Umbreon.

Todd recalls the skill and power the moonlight Pokémon demonstrated back in the Artisans Cave, and starts to get worried since its dark type also gives it the edge over Dusclops's ghost type. As expected, Umbreon begins with a powerful dark move, Faint Attack, and almost knocks Dusclops unconscious. Emerald has Dusclops retaliate with a Will-o-wisp, but Umbreon follows up with a Confuse Ray, and sends Dusclops running in circles hitting itself.

Todd sighs that being in a confused state greatly lowers its ability to score, and Greta grins that the results of their current round should be clear. The virtual Blackbelt soon declares Umbreon the winner at a score of 5 to 1, and Dusclops tumbles to the ground, exhausted. Todd is surprised how quick 3-turn battles can be, and realizes that Emerald is now down to his third and last Pokémon, Sudowoodo.

Emerald calls out the fake tree Pokémon as the match commences, and Greta notices that Umbreon is suffering from the burn status after it got hit by Dusclops's Will-o-wisp in the previous round. Fortunately, it has the Leftovers as a held item, and hopefully it will compensate for the loss of HP each turn.

However, Emerald is not about to give Umbreon an easy time. He orders a Low Kick from Sudowoodo, which swiftly knocks Umbreon across the battlefield. The virtual Blackbelt soon declares Sudowoodo the winner of the round at 5 to 2, and Todd wonders what Greta's third Pokémon is.

The Arena Tycoon reaches for her last Pokeball to send out a Shedinja, and Todd is astounded that she is using such a weak Pokémon. Greta grins that while many don't think highly of Shedinja, the Pokémon possesses the special ability Wonder Guard, which makes it susceptible only to a limited list of attacks.

Yet, Emerald smirks that he is fully aware of that, and says incidentally his Sudowoodo happens to know one of those attacks. The boy orders a Rock Slide, and Sudowoodo immediately sends a shower of boulders onto Shedinja.

Just when everyone thinks the battle is over, the bug Pokémon manages to withstand the hit, and Todd realizes that it has used Endure. However, he also knows that it is a defensive move which would score low in the mind category, and wonders why Greta is using it. Greta states that she would pay little heed to the keys to winning in this final round, and simply make it a combat to fully demonstrate one's guts. Without another word, she orders a Solarbeam from Shedinja, and the attack crashes square-chest into Sudowoodo, knocking it across the stage.

The blinding light generated by the attack causes Todd to step back and shield his eyes with his hands. At that moment, he recalls what Scott said about Prof. Oak having a wish needed to be fulfilled, and has little doubt that it was the reason Emerald got dispatched to the Battle Frontier. Yet, he couldn't help but wonder what the famous professor's wish could be, this wish that must rely on Jirachi's power to fulfill.

Meanwhile, out in the open seas, the luxurious liner, S.S. Tidal, is steadily cutting through waves and sailing towards the Battle Frontier. Standing on the balcony which looks over the events hall of the ship, Ruby and Sapphire smile to themselves as they watch Wanda, Roger and their little team of Whismurs rehearse for their wedding ceremony.

Down in the cargo cabin, old Mr. Briney, the honorary captain of S.S. Tidal, is giving orders to the two sailors who are responsible for handling all the goods on board. Briney's Pelipper, Peeko, flaps its wings to hover around while the little sailor who is constantly trying to persuade the old man to change into his uniform is still having little luck in his mission.

The two cargo sailors wonder what the giant wooden box that their captain is paying special attention to holds, and Briney reveals that it carries 5 statues, which ought to be brought into the Battle Tower of the Frontier first thing after the wedding ceremony the next day. The sailors are curious as to what the statues are for, but Briney states that he was simply bestowed upon the task to deliver, and as a man of the sea, he has no interest to dwell into details.

Before leaving, he reminds the two sailors that as professionals, they should handle the statues with care and not even a single scratch must be made. The sailors salute their affirmation, and begin applying more seals and security tapes around the wooden box. Inside, 5 familiar blocks of statues rest within a sea of foam balls for damage-proof purposes, and silently await their salvation…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us




317: VS Shedinja


Volume 27