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It is only 5am in the morning. At Hotel Great Oreburgh, Pearl and Dia have already risen and are waiting at the lobby hall for Lady Berlitz. Dia is obviously still in need of sleep, and spreads himself comfortably on the sofa right next to Beh and Roo. On the other hand, Pearl is wide-awake and walking back and forth impatiently, with Chimlord hanging off his right shoulder, still deep in its sleep. At such an early hour, even Chatlord finds it hard to keep its eyes open, and the little parrot drops its head to take a snooze as it perches on the sofa's handle.

Soon, the Pokedexes of Pearl and Dia begin to give off a beeping sound, and Pearl walks over to shake Dia awake, knowing that it means Lady Berlitz is near. Indeed, the passenger lift door slides open in the next instant, and the Lady emerges with her own Pokedex in hand, while holding a clipboard with what appears to be notes on it in her other hand.

The three young trainers simultaneously turn off the beeping sounds as they move outside, and Lady Berlitz pulls out a band with the word 'victory' written on it to tie around her head. She gets Piplup and herself ready, and hopes that Pearl and Dia will teach her all they know in their training session. With a nod, Pearl sends Chimlord forward to attack Piplup, and the two Pokemon instantly get into a close up combat.

Watching from aside, Dia munches on his riceballs, and recalls how the unexpected events of the previous day led to their current situation...

As the announcement about Roark's return resounds in the coalmines, all the coal workers begin to gather at the entrance as instructed, and soon see their person-in-charge arrive with his Cranidos. Roark greets his co-workers with a warm smile, and apologizes for leaving all the excavation work unsupervised for so long. The miners laugh that they are managing well, and wonder how Roark's expedition went.

Roark grins that he had a great time exploring the underground world with his uncle, the Underground Man, at Eterna, and the two of them were so carried away that they ended up staying there much longer than planned, during which he managed to unearth plenty of fossils. He reaches into his bag to pull out a Skull Fossil, a Dome Fossil, an Armor Fossil, a Root Fossil and a Claw Fossil, and the miners instantly exclaim at the sight of the rare treasures.

Roark explains that he was held up longer than expected not only because of that, but due to the fact that they had a visitor from Canalave City joining them at Eterna. The miners realize that he is talking about father, and joke that all the underground experts in Roark's family are having a reunion. Roark laughs that his father has always been the unpredictable type, and says the man was there because he had something to discuss with him.

Just then, Roark notices Lady Berlitz standing among the crowd, and wonders who she is. The coal miner who showed her around earlier explains that she is a traveller wishing to challenge the Oreburgh Gym, and Roark cheerfully greets the girl, welcoming her to the city. He wants to know if the next day will be good for her, and the Lady politely nods in agreement. Roark tells her to take her time in preparation, and says he will be waiting patiently at the gym. He then leaves with the coal miners to check on their work, while Piplup keeps an aggressive stare on Cranidos as it watches the headbutt Pokemon walk off.

At that moment, Dia finally catches up with Pearl and Lady Berlitz at the coalmines, and pants hard to catch his breath with Beh and Roo. Pearl briefly explains what happened to him, and the boy could see the look of determination on Piplup's face. Clearly, the little penguin has considered itself a failure when it couldn't fully protect Lady Berlitz from the Kricketots and Kricketunes despite already having achieved an extraordinary feat. It has now turned this humiliation into a burning desire to beat Roark at the Oreburgh Gym, as a way to redeem its pride and confidence...

Dia takes another bite of his riceball while Piplup and Chimlord continue to fight down each other in front of the hotel. Knowing the motivation behind Piplup's perseverance, Dia starts to worry whether the two of them are the best candidates when it comes to being training opponents, since they have close to nothing to teach in terms of battling skills.

Pearl places his hands on Dia's shoulders to address him as Diamond, and states that he has always considered himself to be a person with a strong willpower. However, compared with Piplup, he still has miles to go. While he usually despises the little brat's pride, he was honestly moved when he saw the strong determination in its eyes yesterday, the moment when it decided to take on gym challenges. Thus, for a Pokemon who shares a strong will like him, he will give all his might to help and support it in its determination to win.

With that, Pearl voices his encouragement to Lady Berlitz, whom he now addresses as Ms. Lady and tells her to try out the tactics he has written on her training menu. As Chimlord charges forward to attack, the Lady orders a Bubble from Piplup, which hits the Chimchar square-faced. She then commands Piplup to sneak up on its foe from behind to evade the counterattack, and follow up with a powerful Peck, which manages to knock the little monkey out.

Pearl takes out a Potion to heal Chimlord while complimenting on Lady Berlitz's quick learning. He tells Dia that although the girl is always getting them worried with her apparent lack of practical skills, he must give her credit for her broad and profound knowledge.

Lady Berlitz puts on a grin and starts reciting how fire beats grass, grass beats water, and water beats fire, earning her Dia's applaud. She claims that in order to learn as much knowledge as possible, she has read a wide variety of books since her childhood, completing at least 10 books each day. Dia exclaims at the revelation, and says he always falls asleep after reading three lines. Lady Berlitz grins that it feels different and far more effective however, to learn from actually experience than reading through books.

Pearl then says Roo should be the next one up, and Piplup immediately points a menacing finger to the startled little Turtwig, causing it and Dia to both choke on their riceballs. Dia starts to stutter and protest, but Pearl shoots him a glare, and says they can't have Chimlord as the only opponent all the time.

Pearl (and Chimlord): You shall pretend to be Roark! Now turn yourself into a Gymleader!
Dia (and Roo): What~!! (startled)
Pearl (and Chimlord): Do it now! Piplup is waiting! (tower over Dia and Roo)
Dia (and Roo): Whaaa~~~~~ (jump back)
Pearl (and Chimlord): Here, dump your food! (throw away Dia and Roo's riceballs)
Dia (and Roo): Whaa~~~~~ (try to save their food)

Dia thus takes on the role of an imaginary Roark for Lady Berlitz to fight, wearing a hand-drawn mask of him over his face. Roo starts charging towards Piplup with a Tackle, but the little Penguin manages to stand its ground, and counters with a Pound. Roo, Chimlord and Piplup continue to battle each other as the training session goes on, and Lady Berlitz soon drops to her knees in exhaustion and pants to catch her breath.

Dia finishes the riceball in his hands and asks if the Lady needs a break, but Lady Berlitz grins that she is still all right. The truth is, she feels really thankful that an amateur like her could learn about battling from top-class professionals, making it possible for her to help Piplup regain its pride and confidence.

Meanwhile, at the Science Lab in Sandgem Town, Prof. Rowan and Sir Berlitz have prepared all the data they need for the upcoming academic conference. Rowan massages his shoulders which have become sore from all the computer work, and suggests taking a short break to eat the tasty desserts in the refrigerator. Sir Berlitz grins that he will go get them, and soon brings out two bowls of colourful rice dumpling fruit mix.

Rowan wastes no time in scooping the delicacy into his mouth with a spoon, and wonders where Lady Berlitz might have reached by now. Sir Berlitz replies that he honestly has no idea, but given his daughter's curious nature, she is most likely taking her time to journey around, which he suspects is the real reason she decided to set out on the family voyage in the first place. He has faith that the two bodyguards they hired would assess every situation before letting the girl go, and would definitely stop her whenever there is danger.

Rowan gobbles down the remaining of his bowl, and agrees that the two black-suited guy certainly look like the type. He notices that Sir Berlitz has barely touched his share of the dessert, and wants to know if he is eating it after all. Sir Berlitz sweatdrops as he tells the professor to help himself, and watches with amazement as the man pours everything into his mouth in one gulp. Rowan then says it is time to get going, and Sir Berlitz remarks that all is ready. Pulling on their coats and picking up their suitcases, Prof. Rowan and Sir Berlitz depart from the Science Lab, and start heading towards the direction of Canalave City, where the academic conference will be held.

Back at Oreburgh City, Pearl and Dia are taking time to practice Manzai while Lady Berlitz continues with her training.

Pearl: Speaking of Pokemooon!!
Dia: Speaking of Pokemooon~
Pearl: Speaking of Pokemon, you can challenge Gyms in some cities!
Dia: In some cities~
Pearl: Each Gymleader has his or her own catchphrase. Roark's phrase is 'Call me Roark the Rock'! That is sooo cool~!
Dia: The-rock... the-lot... kalot... Sounds yummy~! (grins and takes out a berry)
Pearl: (yells in a fury) That is a Qualot Berry, stupid!!

Pearl: (squints with disdain) What I said was 'Rock', obviously hinting that his expertise is the rock type.
Dia: Is thaaat so!
Pearl: Gymleaders usually highly specialize in one single type, making them masters in that area!
Dia: Haha, of course~ And thus they are losers in all other areas...
Pearl: (smacks Dia on the face) Hey show some respect!!

The two boys turn around and see that the Lady is still diligently polishing Piplup's attacking skills. Dia remarks that Lady Berlitz is really hardworking, and Pearl nods with agreement, adding that she has already practiced all the techniques written on her training menu.

The next day, Dia, Pearl and Lady Berlitz find their way to the Oreburgh Gym, and find themselves awe-struck when they enter the facility and see its extraordinary layout. The entire room is built like a rocky mountain, with footbridges and staircases connecting the blocks. Pearl exclaims that it is essentially a maze, and Dia says he has never seen the interior of a gym before.

Just then, a voice comes out through the dragon-like statue at the entrance, and welcomes the three young trainers to the gym. It verifies that Lady Berlitz is the one making the challenge, and starts stating the rules. Each trainer is allowed to use up to two Pokemon, and will be given a choice between switch-in battles, elimination battles, and double battles.

Lady Berlitz picks switch-in battles, and the statue goes on to explain that challengers must find their way to the other end of the room with the help of the bridges and stairs, where the gymleader Roark will be waiting. However, Roark will not be the only opponent in the gym. Along the way, there will be trainers one must defeat in order to proceed.

With that, a Youngster suddenly pops up in front of the trio, and sends out a Geodude. Lady Berlitz remarks that the place seems to have tight regulations, and calls Piplup forward to fight. However, Pearl notices that the little penguin is planning to use Pound, and tells it to use the super effective Bubble instead.

Pearl's comment draws a grumble from the statue, and it demands to know who Dia and Pearl are. Dia munches on his riceball and grins that they are there for support, and Pearl proudly claims to be the coach of the Lady. Unfortunately, the statue deems any kind of assistance unfair in gym challenges, and angrily throws the two boys out of the gym, adding that eating is strictly prohibited in the room.

Pearl and Dia crash on their bottoms on the ground, and Pearl fumes in rage that the statue is being stubborn. He can't believe that they will have to wait there while the battle takes place inside, and tells Dia to find a window to peek in. However, after circling around the building several times, they soon realize that even the lowest hanging window is almost 20 feet from level ground. Left with no choice, the boys start piling themselves up on their Pokemon, with Beh at the bottom, followed by Roo, then Pearl, who lends his shoulders for Dia to stand on. Chimlord and Chatlord perch along the window aisle on top, and make sure that Dia doesn't topple over.

Pearl trembles at his position, and asks Dia how things are going. Dia peeks through the windows, and gasps that Lady Berlitz has cleared the entire maze and beaten all virtual trainers, and is now standing right in front of Roark. The Oreburgh Gymleader asks for the challenger's full name, but Dia and Pearl are too far away to hear what Lady Berlitz says. Before long, Roark proceeds to commence his battle by calling Cranidos forward, and Lady Berlitz quickly sends Piplup into the battlefield as well.

Yet, to her surprise, Cranidos instantly fires off a Shock Wave, a move she totally didn't anticipate, which causes Piplup to tumble back in agony. Roark remarks that the Lady has made the right choice in picking a water type to deal with Cranidos, since water has an advantage over his expert rock type. However, he has made his own measures to counter the natural imbalance as well, and taught it an electric attack which is super effective on Piplup.

Taking a look at the injured little Penguin, Roark grins that it is always advisable to gain an early upper hand, and switches out Cranidos for Onix. Lady Berlitz thinks to herself that while Piplup indeed possesses a type advantage at the rock-type gym, it was actually not her original intention since her aim has been to help Piplup regain its confidence all along. Yet, she rationalizes that all their efforts will become pointless if Piplup gets defeated, and makes up her mind to switch in Ponyta instead.

Roark points out that he has the advantageous side this time with fire against rock, and quickly orders a Double-edge from Onix. The giant rock serpent rams its head into Ponyta, and sends it crashing against the opposite wall. Lady Berlitz reads from her Pokedex that Double-edge is an aggressive attack which is extremely powerful, but risky at the same time since it causes recoil damage on the user.

Roark compliments on the Lady for her knowledge, but reveals that his Onix possesses the Rock Head ability, making it immune to rebound injuries. The Oreburgh Gymleader then decides to add further pressure on his opponent, and commands a Stealth Rock from Onix. Onix wiggles its tails to send boulders swirling around, which eventually encircle Ponyta like a floating cage.

Outside, Pearl struggles to support Dia's weight, and wants to know what is going on now. Dia exclaims that Roark's Onix has unleashed a Stealth Rock, and Pearl recalls that the special move targets not the current Pokemon on the battlefield but the one that is about to be switched in. In other words, the attack was aimed at Piplup.

In that instant, Onix delivers a Slam to hurl Ponyta against the windows, and causes Dia to nearly lose his stance. Fortunately, Chimlord and Chatlord hurriedly hop to his rescue, and use all their might to steady him. The fire pony gets knocked out from the series of physical assaults, and Roark taunts that it is time for Piplup to fight again.

Lady Berlitz knows that she has no other choice, and braces herself as she calls Piplup back onto the field. The floating boulders instantly jab at the little penguin, and take away a good portion of its health. Fighting down its agony, Piplup unleashes a jet of water from its beak, which blasts at Onix like a water hose and quickly faints the rock serpent. Roark grunts that Onix's double weakness to water truly compromises its defence, and proceeds to send out Cranidos again.

With both of them down to one Pokemon each, Roark comments that Piplup has already suffered from the combined damages of Shock Wave and Stealth Rock, and believes that it will be an easy victory for his Cranidos. Lady Berlitz voices her encouragement for Piplup, and tells it to beat its foe with its type advantage.

However, Cranidos begins to create illusions of itself by using Double Team, and Piplup soon finds it increasingly difficult to target the real thing with its Bubble. Roark grins that while type advantages are important in battles, they become meaningless if the attacks fail to hit.

Outside, Pearl requests to know the progress of the match again despite the burden on his shoulders which is getting more and more unbearable. Dia cries with a worried tone that things are not looking good, and Lady Berlitz and Piplup are on the verge of getting defeated. Pearl grits his teeth in frustration, and starts yelling that Lady Berlitz should put into real practice the various attack combos she has learnt from the training menu. He screeches at the top of his voice that he forbids her from losing, or she will have to pay a 1 million dollar fine.

Pearl's hollering not only caught Lady Berlitz's attention but also that of the statue. It thinks that the boys are trying to give advice to the challenger again, and Dia starts to get worried. But Pearl suddenly gets an idea, and yells that they should practice Manzai there, much to Dia's bewilderment. Not knowing what Manzai is, the statue could only wait and see if the boys are going to do anything that breaks the rules.

Pearl: (legs trembling) Spea... speaking of Pokemooon!!
Dia: Speaking of Pokemooon~
Pearl: Speaking of Pokemon, there are lots... of names...
Dia: Lots of names~ Many of them sound so alike that my tongue will surely be all tied up if I have to speak them in a row~
Pearl: Is... that... so. Let's practice some tongue twisters then.

Pearl: Tyrogue Tauros Torkoal~ Abra Arbok Abomasnow~
Dia: Tyrogue Tauros Torkoal~
Pearl: Gastly gets to guess which guest has gas~
Dia: (sweats) Gastly gets the gas to guess...
Pearl: Combee has a contract to make contact with a comet and be compact in a combat~
Dia: Combee contacts comet con...con... con... (gets dizzy) Arrgh, all the coms and cons are making me con-fused!

Dia's last words strike like a radical in Lady Berlitz's mind, and she quickly orders Piplup to unleash another attack. The little penguin generates a circle of water to propel out from its body, and hits all the Cranidos that surrounds it at the same time. Yet, although the real Cranidos receives damage as well, it is barely fazed and continues to speed around its foe with a Double Team. Roark smirks that it is time to finish things off, and orders a Zen Headbutt.

However, just when the attack is about to make contact with Piplup, Cranidos steers off into another direction, and rams its hard skull into a rock instead. Little Torchics start flying in circles around its head, and Roark gasps that it has been confused. The headbutt Pokemon keeps delivering a series of Zen Headbutt, but ends up hurting itself more but crashing into nearby rocks every time. The accumulated damage soon drains it of its health, and the little dinosaur collapses to the ground with a thump.

At that moment, Roark finally realizes that the last move Piplup delivered was Water Pulse, an attack not intended to cause damages but aimed at confusing the foe. The statue states that Cranidos has been rendered unable to battle further, and declares Lady Berlitz the winner. Outside, Pearl breathes out a sigh of relief and finally collapses, causing Dia and everyone else to tumble over.

Back in the gym, Roark says he is truly amazed, and still finds it hard to believe that he has destroyed himself at the end. But he grins that his defeat is a solid fact, and hands over the Coal Badge to Lady Berlitz as a recognition of her true strength. The Lady seems pleasantly surprised that winners even get sparkly souvenirs from gym challenges, and decides to pin it onto her scarf. Next to her, Piplup puts on a thrilled and content look, and clutches its little hands in a victorious pose.

A while later, Lady Berlitz leaves the gym in high spirits to rejoin the boys outside. Dia immediately hops up to congratulate her, while Pearl wears a tired look, and slowly massages his sore back. Pearl can tell from Piplup's perky face that it has finally regained its confidence, and feels grateful about it. Although the little penguin keeps its arrogant look as Pearl speaks, it secretly steals a glance at the boy once he has turned his head away, and momentarily shows a look of gratitude. The Lady grins that she owes everything to Dia and Pearl, and thanks them for their little hint during the match.

After they return to the hotel, Lady Berlitz suddenly remembers how Pearl advised Piplup to use Bubble instead of Pound when she was battling the first virtual Youngster. At that time, she has not given any commands, and wonders how Pearl knew Piplup was going to use the move Pound. Dia giggles that Pearl has always been to tell what attack a Pokemon is planning use simply by looking at its movements, and Pearl shrugs that it might be due to his father's influence on him.

Lady Berlitz puts on a look of confusion, and Pearl explains that his father is a very skilled and powerful Pokemon trainer who used to teach him a lot about battling during his childhood. Although he didn't really learn too well, he still managed to pick up some important techniques during all those sessions. A few years back, his father has gone off somewhere and Pearl has honestly no idea what the man is doing right now, but he reveals that the training menu he gave Lady Berlitz was written from recalling the things his father has coached him on before.

Thought taken by surprise, Lady Berlitz is amused that both father and son are professionals in battling, and secretly feels grateful that her own father and Prof. Rowan have picked such a competent bodyguard for her. She then reaches into her bag, and grins cockily that she didn't need to pay her penalties after all.

Dia and Pearl have no idea what she is talking about, and she reminds Pearl of the money fine which he mentioned during her gym challenge. She proceeds to pull out a pile of bank notes worth 1 million dollars, and causes both boys to drop their jaws in astonishment. Dia stares in disbelief at the extraordinary sum of money, but Pearl's lower backache is starting to make him feel dizzy, and the boy says he will need his bed immediately.

A few moments later, in Dia and Pearl's suite room, Pearl has dropped dead on his bed, and Dia gently pulls the scarf off him. Dia remarks that Pearl must be exhausted and tells Lady Berlitz how the boy supported him on his shoulders to pry on the gym battle earlier, much to the girl's shock. The Lady can't understand what makes the boy try so hard, and Dia explains that Pearl is someone who will stand his ground and see to the end once he has made up his mind about something. This time, he has decided to help Piplup regain its confidence, and thus remained persistent regardless of what it took.

Dia puts on a proud grin for his childhood companion, and says Pearl certainly has a tough mind, an ultimate toughness without a doubt. Behind him, Lady Berlitz feels touched by their strong friendship, and puts on a gentle smile...

(Original Japanese Jokes)

  1. In the first half of the Manzai dialogue, Pearl says Roark's catchphrase is 'The Rock to iwareru otoko', which means 'the man who is called the Rock'. Dia mishears it as a berry name, because 'the Rock' is written as 'Za-rokku' in Japanese, which when read as one single word 'Zarokku', is the Japanese name of the Qualot Berry.
  2. In the second half, Pearl says the gymleaders are the 'Senmonka' (expert) of their selected type. Dia replies and wonders if the gymleaders 'Sore igai no koto ha nanimo shirimasenmon ka', which means 'Do they know nothing outside of that specialty'. The pun is on the two last phrases of the sentence, which also make up the word 'Senmonka', but in a different context.
  3. During the gym challenge, Pearl and Dia have recited a tongue twister to give hints to Lady Berlitz, starting just with Pokemon names that end with the same syllable, and then adding in other words that also rhyme with the names. The whole verse is 'Utsudon Utsudon Lizardon; Porygon Kabigon Dorapion; Ghos ga jyouzu ni byoubu ni Ghos no e wo kaita; Konya Kongpang ga contest konran no combo de katsu kontandaro konchikushou', which means 'Weepinbell Weepinbell Charizard; Porygon Snorlax Drapion; Gastly adeptly drew Gastly on a screen; Venonat the devious creature won the contest tonight with a confusion combo'. The main aim of the whole verse is to make the Lady think of 'Confusion'.

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

342: VS Cranidos

Volume 30