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At Opelucid City, gasps of disbelief break out among the press as Drayden makes the shocking announcement that the Pokemon League has been advanced to one week later. One reporter inquires if it has anything do with the disappearance of the Gymleaders, and the question causes the Opelucid mayor to raise an eyebrow.

Many more reporters echo the same query, and point out that in the past two weeks, numerous trainers have complained that the Gymleaders are missing from the Pokemon Gyms, including Nacrene, Castelia, Nimbasa, Driftveil, Mistralton, and even Striaton. They wonder if this is related to the League being advanced, and Drayden responds with a laugh after a moment of thought.

He states that they certainly are related, and the press immediately goes frantic. They request to know why the Gymleaders are missing and where they have gone, but Drayden replies that unfortunately they don't have a single clue. He explains that although they are conducting an extensive search with every possible means that they can, they have not been able to find them or even get as much as a hint. All he can say is that, they definitely are facing a crisis.

Drayden also acknowledges the concerns of the trainers across the region in regards to the Gymleaders' disappearance, since Badges are essential for participating in the Pokemon League and with the Gymleaders gone, they could not collect the Badges. However, the Opelucid Gymleader states that the entry conditions must remain fair. Despite the change in the League's commencement date, the entry conditions stay the same. In other words, only those who have already obtained the 8 Badges will be allowed to take part in the Pokemon League that commences one week from now.

Hearing Drayden's statement, all the reporters are left speechless, and all wear looks of shock on their faces. Drayden's secretary approaches him at that instant, and informs him that his next appointment is due. Drayden then concludes his announcement to the press to excuse himself, and the crowd instantly bursts into a uproar. They try to ask the man to stay for more questions, but Drayden simply turns to get back into the building. His secretary comments that the press seems to be reacting quite dramatically, but Drayden says he has expected it. Unfortunately, they really don't have another choice.

Returning to the lower floors via the dragon-shaped escalators, Drayden states that the Pokemon League celebrates a sport where trainers trap Pokemon in Pokeball and command them to fight regardless of the Pokemon's feelings. It is a big event that draws in a lot of spectators. To Team Plasma, whose goal is to liberate Pokemon, the participants and spectators of the Pokemon League are all enemies who stand in their path. By targeting the Pokemon League, which is a convention that has the entire world's attention, they could wipe out all the trainer-raised Pokemon, and even allow their beliefs and teachings to reach an extremely big group of audience. That said, he is confident that Team Plasma will come.

Ever since Team Plasma snatched the Dark Stone, they have remained dormant. They have no idea if they managed to restore Zekrom from the Dark Stone, or if they have not done so, what they are currently scheming to do. No matter what, they need to find a way to confront Team Plasma directly, and advancing the Pokemon League serves as a bait to lure them out.

Drayden's secretary puts on a knowing grin, and remarks that although Drayden made things sound so tacky and even sacrificial, he must have thought thing through to make sure that the League's participants and spectators will not get harmed during the process. The Opelucid Gymleader feels slightly embarrassed at the moment, and changes the subject by asking where Iris is. His secretary replies that the girl is at Icirrus, watching the Gym battle of the boy who shall shoulder the 'Truth' of Unova, and Drayden recalls that heavy snow is currently falling in the area.

Back at the Icirrus Gym, Beartic flashes its lengthened claws, and Doctor Logan exclaims that it has frozen its breath to coat and extend them with ice. He states that it is an excellent strategy to protect and empower its true claws that have been pained from hitting on Tirtouga's hard shell, and in the next instant, Beartic throws its arm forward to strike at Costa.

Black hurriedly orders Costa to defend, and the sea turtle barely manages to retreat into its shell before Beartic's claws make contact. Black wipes a sweat off his forehead, and could see that the polar bear's lengthened claws not only shortened the attacking distance but also allowed the moves to land quicker.

Just then, the boy remembers a quote from a movie he saw as a child, and says it is something like 'Fight! Snorlax' or 'Come back, Snorlax'. He recalls that it is a line by the movie protagonist, and is quite certain that it was Brycen who said it. Doctor Logan jumps up from the ledge to confirm that 'Come back, Snorlax' is the accurate line, but corrects that it was actually said by the antagonist. He adds that the quote came from the TV series 'Fight! Snorlax' where Brycen played the lead, and that Brycen himself sang the ending theme 'Lonely Snorlax'.

The Icirrus Gymleader uses his stern and monotone voice to stop the excited Logan like always, and Black grins that it surely feels odd and special at the same time to actually battle a celebrity like that. Brycen wonders if Black is trying to distract him by talking about his old movies, but Black denies, and says he will not resort to something so low. He puts on a confident smile, and says he is simply feeling motivated from the bottom of his heart.

Brycen orders a Super Power, and Beartic tries to pull Costa out of its defense posture. However, the Tirtouga manages to stay folded and withdrawn, and Doctor Logan points out that the sea turtle surely has top-class defenses. Black then tells Costa to keep the good work up, and starts skidding towards Brycen on the ice, much to Iris's surprise. She cries that the battle isn't over yet, but Black walks up to the Icirrus Gymleader, and states that he has decided to accept the 'Truth' of Unova.

Brycen puts on a surprised look, and Black explains that N has once said that he would surpass the Champion. Since he himself aspires to conquer the Pokemon League, he will be working towards defeating the Champion Alder as well. In other words, he has the same goal as N in hoping to surpass the Champion. If N has possession of Zekrom, he will need to have Reshiram to gain an equal status. Although he could be wrong, he is speaking genuinely from the bottom of his heart. He shall defeat Alder, and before that, he shall beat N, which is why he is now requesting the Light Stone.

At that moment, Beartic gets thrown onto the ground, and Brycen is surprised that Tirtouga managed to bounce back the force of Super Power. He orders a Focus Blast from Beartic, which hits Costa on the face. Iris exclaims that the attack was targeted at a spot where its armor doesn't cover, but Black tells Costa not to give up. He reiterates his dream to conquer the Pokemon League, to surpass the Champion, and in the next instant, Costa flashes with an intense light and evolves into a Carracosta.

Iris gasps in bewilderment at the evolution, and Doctor Logan points out that its defenses has become even tougher. Not only that, but Costa's longer arms now give it to have the same advantage as Beartic's extended claws, allowing it to strike easier. However, Iris soon notices that it isn't necessarily true. Swinging its long arms forward, Costa makes several attempts to smack at Beartic, but the polar bear moves swift, and always manages to evade. Doctor Logan believes that it must be due to Beartic's ability, Snow Cloak, which became activated to raise its evasiveness by the Hail that was started by Vanillish.

Costa opens its mouth to unleash a blast of water, but Beartic once again dodges the hit, and Brycen says it is time to give it a final blow. Beartic responds with a nod, and charges forward, thrusting its left claws into Costa's face, hoisting it off the ground even.

Iris covers her eyes with a shriek at the sight, and Doctor Logan cries that the result is out. Black remains wordless for a moment, and turn to Brycen again, thanking him for the special training he has given him. The Icirrus Gymleader says it is unnecessary, and hands Black the Light Stone. He tells that boy that the fight with Team Plasma awaits him, but warns that it may be a fight that would refute what Black believes to be the 'Truth' and shatter his heart into pieces. Black assures Brycen that he will be alright, because it is something that he cannot escape if he wishes to fulfill his dream.

Brycen is happy with Black's answer, and welcomes him to challenge the Gym again anytime, saying that he will always be willing to be Black's opponent again to help him fulfill his dream in conquering the League. Black is surprised to hear that the League has not been suspended, and Brycen grins that both he and Drayden have decided that the League must proceed as planned, no matter what happens.

Black is overjoyed to hear that, and with a grin, says he can accept his Badge with his usual excitement in that case. Brycen doesn't understand what he means, and in that instant, Costa raises its arms to fasten them around Beartic's forearm. Iris is shocked to see that Costa survived Beartic's hit, and Doctor Logan realizes that it has stopped the attack with its jaws by chomping on Beartic's claws. Black flips out his Pokedex which speaks of Carracosta's incredible jaw strength, and grins that he has to find a way to keep Beartic immobile since Costa's hits failed to land.

With that, Costa crushes Beartic's ice claws with its jaws, and dives forward to grasp its opponent's head with its right flipper. It then swings its left one to deliver a deadly slap, which hits the polar bear on its cheek and faints it in an instant.

Doctor Logan declares Black the winner, and Black claps Costa on its back, joking that its evolved appearance looks like an old man. He holds tight to the Light Stone, and looks forward to the day that Costa would meet Reshiram. He states that Costa is probably the only one who has witnessed Reshiram turning into the Light Stone and will also see it getting restored from the artifact.

Black then wears a determined look, and says he shall give it a go. He raises the Light Stone up, and calls upon Reshiram, the white dragon that embodies Unova's 'Truth'. Unfortunately, his request is met with silence in the air, and both Iris and Doctor Logan instantly collapse. Black laughs that it isn't an easy task after all, but believes that if the dragon maser Drayden said that Reshiram chose him, it would surely respond to his call some day.

Iris sweatdrops at his optimism, and Brycen presents to him the Freeze Badge, a recognition of his strength. Black happily pins it on his collar, and rejoices that he has already obtained 7 Badges, only one short in order to be eligible for the Pokemon League.

A while later, the boy leaves the Gym in high spirits, planning his final Gym challenge at Opelucid City. He takes out his strategy book to check that Drayden's main Pokemon, Druddigon, and reads that it has Tough Skin as its ability. Suddenly, Iris comes running after him with an urgent tone in her voice, and tells him that he may not be able to make it to the Pokemon League. Black gets terrified and confused at the same time by Iris's words, and the girl hurriedly pulls him back into the Gym to show him a television broadcast by Drayden.

Standing in front of the TV, Black, Iris, Brycen and Doctor Logan watch as Drayden appears on the screen, and announces that the Pokemon League has been advanced to one week later, and that only trainers who have already obtained the 8 Badges are allowed to participate.

Black lets out a gasp of shock at what he hears, and becomes paralyzed momentarily. He asks Brycen what it is all about, and wonders if he has heard about it. However, the Icirrus Gymleader replies that it is also news to him that the League is taking place one week from now, and believes that Drayden must have made the decision on his own.

Black turns to Doctor Logan and Iris for help, and wants them to contact Drayden for him. Logan agrees to try, but after making several call attempts on his Xtransceiver, he still fails to establish a connection. The Doctor fears that it will not be possible to contact the Opelucid Gymleader at the moment, as calls from the press will be flooding in about the League's change of date. After all, Drayden just made an announcement on TV which would no doubt cause an uproar in Unova.

Black finds it unbelievable that this is happening, and doesn't know what he should do. His mind starts to get overwhelmed by thoughts of not able to take part in the Pokemon League, the eighth and last Badge that he is missing, and how everything just looks bleak and hopeless for him. Engulfed in anguish and anger, his thoughts scare even Musha, who is usually drawn to them. The dreameater Pokemon covers its mouth with its little hands, and chooses to back off from the negative thoughts.

Unable to hold back his rage, Black says he really doesn't know what Drayden is thinking, and blames it on the Light Stone. He flips it out from his bag, and hollers that all the talk about countering 'Ideals' with 'Truth' is nothing but crap. He then raises his arm, ready to smash the ancient artifact, and Brycen immediately demands that he control himself.

Iris agrees that he shouldn't be reckless, and jumps forward to stop his arms from hurling the Light Stone down. She states that if Black wishes to gain Drayden's recognition, he should try making other kinds of marvelous accomplishments, but Black doesn't really know what she means. Iris explains that Black should try to make Drayden think that even as a trainer who only has 7 Badges, he is still worthy of entering the League. For instance, he would certainly make an impression by arriving at the League with Reshiram. Black barks that it is not possible, as he is doesn't even know how to restore it from the Light Stone, but Brycen says Iris does have a point. He remarks that Drayden has his own ways to test and measure someone, and if Reshiram is not an option, perhaps if Black could bring along Pokemon who possess comparable power which could counter that of Zekrom, it might just appeal to the man.

Black wonders what Brycen means by Pokemon with comparable strengths, and the Icirrus Gymleader states that he is referring to the three Pokemon who run across the land of Unova, Cobalion, Virizion and Terrakion, who are collectively known as the Sacred Swords. Apparently, they also have a disciple who is named Keldeo. Black wants to know where he could capture these Pokemon, but unfortunately, Brycen admits that he has no idea either.

Black finds all the suggestions ridiculous, as he could not possibly restore Reshiram or capture the aforesaid legendary Pokemon to fight Zekrom within one week. Hollering that he is not capable of achieving such tasks, he throws a tantrum and dashes out of the Gym, heading off towards the snowy ground and disappearing into the horizon…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

505: VS Beartic

Volume 49