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Outside the Battle Dome, Emerald listens with a doubtful look as the two strangers in front of him explain their identities. Introducing themselves as Ruby and Sapphire, the two show him their Pokedexes to prove that they are Pokedex Holders of Hoenn just like him, and that they are companions who have come to render assistance in his mission to protect Jirachi from the enemy.

Sceptile instantly develops an intense hostility towards Ruby and Sapphire for some inexplicable reason, and keeps an angry glare at them. Emerald frowns upon the notion that Ruby and Sapphire are companions to offer help, and demands to know if they are sent there by Crystal or Prof. Oak.

Sapphire grins that they are sent by neither, and Ruby explains that it was Prof. Birch who bestowed the task upon them. Emerald puts on a rather dismissive look as he recalls who the man is, and states that there is only one thing he wishes to say. Suddenly turning serious, he yells that protecting Jirachi is his personal work, and he does not require help from anyone. With that, he spins around to leave, and Ruby and Sapphire attempt to stop him. However, they are interrupted by Sceptile who delivers an Iron Tail to send them flying back and crashing onto the ground.

As Sceptile reenters the Battle Dome with Emerald, Ruby clutches his head in pain as he compliments on the power of the Sceptile's attack. Sapphire crawls back onto her knees with an annoyed look, and complains that it is not the time for such remarks and they must give chase to Emerald right away.

However, Ruby tells her not to worry, and reminds her that Emerald is taking part in the Battle Dome Tournament, which they both will participate in, and they will certainly find the boy again. Just when Sapphire is about to compliment Ruby for his insight, Ruby starts going paranoid about the stink on his clothes thanks to Emerald's earlier mischief again. This immediately ticks off Sapphire, and she screams that he is the sissiest boy she has ever known, and has no doubt that he values his appearance even more than his own life. Ruby retaliates that Sapphire doesn't see it as a problem since she has Pokemon droppings on her nose all the time from sniffing their bottoms. Sapphire hollers that it was only a few times, and Ruby argues that she just happens not to have some today.

Up in the air, Scott hovers in his flying saucer and watches the two young trainers quarrel. He recognizes the boy as Ruby, son of the Petalburg Gymleader Norman, and the girl as Sapphire, daughter of Prof. Birch, and muses to himself that these two phenomenal youngsters have come to his Battle Frontier as well.

At the stadium inside the Battle Dome, the announcer once again explains that the tournament is held in the style of a survival match, with the winner progressing to the next fight, and the loser being removed from the list of challengers. The reporters in the audience stand are excited that there are real trainers instead of virtual ones this time, and all agree that it should be the most exciting facility challenge they have witnessed so far.

From the newest set of tournament run-down displayed on the monitor screen, the reporters notice that Dome Ace Tucker has begun his participation. Being on the opposite block of Emerald, the two shall meet at the final match of the set once they beat all other trainers. However, one reporter lady points out that it seems things wouldn't be so simple. She gestures towards two other trainers taking part in the tournament, and remarks that they too are slamming down their opponents as swiftly as Emerald and Tucker are.

Down on the stage, Ruby orders a Mud Shot from Zuzu, and the Swampert instantly faints its foe with the powerful hit. In the next battle, Sapphire's Blaziken, Chaka, easily takes care of its opponents with its deadly Blaze Kick. The reporters exclaim at the skills demonstrated by these two trainers, and see from the monitor screen that they are swiftly moving up the tournament list.

Meanwhile, Emerald's Sceptile and Tucker's Salamence have little trouble dealing with their opponents, and the best four in the set are soon determined, with Tucker facing Sapphire, and Emerald facing Ruby.

Hovering in his flying saucer as usual, Scott takes a look at the semi-finals arrangements, and muses to himself about the pairings. He lowers down towards one side of the stage, and approaches Tucker who has retreated to his throne on top of a flight of stairs since the next battle will be between Ruby and Emerald.

Scott wants to know how Tucker is feeling, and the Dome Ace replies that he is in top shape. Scott remarks that just in case Tucker gets beaten by Sapphire, Emerald will not have the chance to win the Tactics Symbol from him. Tucker states that it will not be a problem, as he has decided to reward the symbol to whoever emerges victorious in the set, regardless of whether that trainer fights him in the final match.

However, Tucker is determined to win. Scott compliments on his confidence, and Tucker explains that he is not fighting to ward off the challenger, nor has it anything to do with giving out the Tactics Symbol. Instead, it is to improve himself for their next fight with Guile Hideout. He is certain that the armoured man is watching their tournament somewhere right now, and he finds it necessary to show their enemy their fighting will, and to give off the message that the Frontier Brains will not let him off the hook for what he has done.

Seeing the determined look on Tucker's face, Scott lets out a contented sigh. Down on the stage, the battle between Emerald and Ruby is about to commence. Emerald accesses the computer behind him, and begins checking on Ruby's team members from the battle card. However, he soon hears a fuss behind him, and turns around to see his opponent busy taking photos of his Swampert, Milotic and Kirlia.

Jumping around with his camera, Ruby tells Zuzu to lift its chest, Mimi to divert its gaze downwards, and Ruru to tilt its head. He then sets the camera into video mode, and places it on a stand to start recording. One of the stage staff runs up to Ruby, and demands to know what he is doing, and Ruby explains with a grin that he keeps records of his own Pokemon' activities, and that he is already up to album number 136.

Ignoring the stage staff's complaints, Ruby hurls the existing stage lights away, and pulls out his own set with big mirrors, saying that they need more professional equipment for better image qualities. When all the hassle is over, Ruby waves cheerfully to Emerald, and says he has saved him the trouble of checking on his battle card, since he has now put his team on full display. Emerald sweatdrops at his opponent's behaviour, and couldn't find the appropriate words to respond.

Soon, the match officially begins, and Ruby starts off with Ruru. Emerald grins to himself that Kirlia is of psychic type, which is weak against ghost types. He reaches for his Pokeball to send out Dusclops, but Ruru quickly sends out a stream of psychic waves to tamper with its consciousness.

Emerald realizes that it is Hypnosis, and keeps encouraging Dusclops to stay awake. The ghost Pokemon eventually manages to keep itself from being induced with the sleep condition, and Emerald orders it to deliver a Shadow Ball. A black orb of energy materializes in Dusclops's hand, and swiftly gets hurled towards Ruru. Emerald remarks that psychic types are highly vulnerable to the powerful ghost type attack, and commands Dusclops to fire off a barrage of Shadow Ball.

Yet, although the attacks all score direct hits on Ruru, the Kirlia remains unfazed, and Emerald is astounded at its tolerance. He decides that it is time to change strategies, and orders Dusclops to deliver a Fire Punch instead. Once again, the move hits Ruru square-chest, and even manages to burn it.

Emerald cheers that with the burnt condition, Kirlia should be down in no time. However, Tucker warns Emerald not to be so sure of himself yet, and tells him to take a look at his own Pokemon. Emerald quickly diverts his gaze back to Dusclops, and gasps in surprise that it has also been induced with the burnt condition. Apparently, Ruru's ability is Synchronize, which projects the same status condition onto the foe.

Scott remarks that Kirlia did not really withstand the barrage of Shadow Ball earlier either, but has negated their effects with Imprison. Emerald bolts with a start at the revelation, and couldn't believe that the series of attacks he pulled off did not cause a single damage.

Just then, both Dusclops and Ruru are worn out from the burnt status, and collapse onto the ground simultaneously. The announcer declares that both Pokemon are no longer able to fight, and the first battle is a draw. Emerald begins to see the threat Ruby poses to him, and realizes that he is up against a skilled opponent this time. He licks his lips with anticipation, and knows he must focus. All the while, Ruby maintains a cheerful attitude, and simply puts on a calm smile.

Ruby then calls out his next Pokemon, Mimi, and remarks that since Milotic is of the water type, Emerald should logically counter with his Sceptile. Ruby's apparently disregard of type advantages boggles Emerald's mind, and the young boy wonders to himself what gave his opponent such an overwhelming confidence.

Nevertheless, Emerald proceeds to call out Sceptile, but just as he is about to command an attack, Ruby tells him to wait. Emerald wonders what is wrong, and it turns out that Ruby is just upset that one of the big mirrors isn't positioned right, and is giving Mimi bad lighting. As Ruby yells at the stage staff for not handling his lighting equipments properly, Emerald frowns with annoyance once again at the eccentric behaviour of his opponent...

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

321: VS Kirlia

Volume 28