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At Slateport City, rain continues to pour. Taking shelter under some half collapsed buildings, the blind boy who owns a Magikarp and swimmerboy Jack keep themselves afloat on Gyarados. The blind boy wonders if Jack has heard of the Evergrande City, and the swimmerboy recalls that it is where they hold the Pokémon League tournaments. The blind boy remarks that in the past, all the participants simply battle against each other to determine the champion, but several years ago, a stricter rule was implemented.

For every tournament, apart from the Champion, the first four runnerups will be selected as the Elite 4, who together with the Champion awaits the challenger who manages to beat all his fellow opponents. It is only after beating this team of top five trainers of the previous league before a trainer could claim the new championship and enter what is called the Hall of Fame.

Jack remembers that he has heard of something like that as well before, and wonders why the blind boy brought up the topic. The blind boy grins, and explains that it was actually the current Champion who gave him the stone plate and taught me how to read braille. Jack looks up into the skies to see the hovering Pokémon Association airship Ba.Goon, and worries that it will not be able to spot them, but the blind boy states that it is fine with him because he doesn't plan to leave. Jack is surprised by the remark, and the boy explains that he actually made a pact with the Champion, and he is still waiting for the Champion to come back and retrieve the stone plate from him, which he knows bears a great deal of importance.

Back at the rooftop of the Lilycove Department Store, four Metangs descend from the skies to join Steven, and Wallace sees that they are no other than the Hoenn Elite 4, Phoebe with her Dusclops; Sidney with his Zangoose; Glacia with her Glalie; and Drake with his Shelgon. The Sootopolis gymleader grins that it's been quite some time since the six of them gather like that, and says he's been looking forward to this.

Phoebe winks that she should have been enjoying her own life now since they bear no duties until the next tournament is held, and Sidney agrees that it is why he was taken by surprise when he was summoned. Steven says it was quite a feat to gather all four of them across the land, but says he really couldn't think of anyone else when he set out to look for companions to battle alongside with.

Glacia puts on a gentle smile, and says they have no reason not to be there in such critical situations, especially when Steven himself came to seek them. Drake makes a sarcastic remark that it's as if they are summoned by their master, but Wallace doesn't take the joke too well.

Steven then states that they have no time to waste, and urges the four to head off to their assigned locations. Giving a final nod or bow to regard Steven and Wallace, Phoebe, Sidney, Glacia and Drake take off on the Metangs, and Wallace wonders what Steven has planned. Without a word, Steven takes off his champion cape, and hands it to Wallace, knowing that the Sootopolis gymleader will understand the implication.

Wallace gets stunned for a moment, and Steven remarks that it shouldn't be too surprising as he is simply returning the item to its rightful owner, the man who really won in the Pokémon League and entered the Hall of Fame.

It turns out that Wallace but not Steven was the actual Champion in the tournament which they all took part in. During the last battle of that league, Wallace's Clamperl delivered the final blow to faint the previous Champion's Meditite, granting him the title of the new Hoenn Champion. However, when the Pokémon Association Chairman was about to appoint the new team of Elite 4, Wallace voiced his decision to resign, the reason being that he has made up his mind long ago to follow his teacher Juan's footsteps in becoming the Sootopolis gymleader, and it wouldn't be possible for him to be a gymleader and the Champion at the same time. At the end, the Chairman accepted his resignation, and appointed Steven, who was the first runnerup, as the Champion instead.

Staring at the champion cape in Steven's hands, Wallace states that Steven was actually just as strong as he was, but Steven grins that he knew Wallace actually had another reason to resign. At that time, Winona was newly selected as the gymleader of Fortree, and by being a gymleader as well, Wallace would have more chance to spend time with her.

Wallace puts up his hands in surrender and says he does not deny that, but still doesn't understand Steven's current decision in returning the champion title, as Steven has certainly fulfilled his duties as the Champion and fended off new challengers at the Pokémon League for the past few years.

However, before Steven could reply, Tabitha regains consciousness and resumes his attacks under the possession of the titans' powers. He orders his Torkoal to spin forward, and Steven quickly holds it back with Metagross. Wallace is surprised that simply coming in contact with the orbs would cause such an effect on the man, and wonders what would happen to those who actually attempted to control the titans with the jewels. Steven says the only way to find out is to chase after Groudon and find its controller.

Wallace quickly looks over to where Roxanne locked down the land titan with block earlier, but to his horror, the creature is nowhere to be seen. Fear rushes through his mind as he recalls that the only way a Pokémon could break free from a block is to have the trainer and Pokémon who set up the attack defeated, which means Roxanne has already fallen. What's worse is that Groudon might have arrived at Sootopolis by now, and managed to awake its mental plane.

Steven believes that Wallace's fear has already come true, and wants to know the time. Wallace takes a look at his watch, and gasps in shock that it is 1am in the middle of the night. However, the sun is now beating down on them as if it's midday, and Wallace realizes with a start that the burning globe in the sky isn't the real sun, but a ball of intense light and heat energy which Groudon could only create after it has had its second awakening.

Torkoal hurls Metagross off the ground and sends it crashing into the fences, and Steven quickly pushes Wallace out of the way. Steven hollers that they must execute his father's plan as soon as possible, and Wallace wonders what Steven is talking about. Steven explains that he and his father, who is actually Mr. Stone, the president of the Devon Corporations, have learnt of the existence of the two evil forces in Hoenn long ago. However, they suspect that there are possibly spies of the enemy inside the Devon Corporation, and have thus carried out all their plans in secrecy, their plan to recruit dependable forces in their fight against the mighty ancient titans, Groudon and Kyogre.

Meanwhile, Sidney has arrived at the Desert Ruins in the middle of the dry Desert, while Glacia has reached the Island Cave on sea route 105 which is hit with heavy downpours, and Drake is at the Ancient Tomb on Route 120 which is under the weather effect of drought. The three notify Steven via their Pokégears about their arrival, and Steven urges them to try their best.

As Metagross and Torkoal continue to fight each other down, Steven steals a glance at Wallace and thinks to himself the reason why he is returning the champion cape, that he will likely lose his life following this battle...

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us




251: VS. Kyogre & Groudon XIII!


Volume 21