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At the Pokeathlon Dome, Gold is checking on the computer at the Pokeathletes' corner while DJ Mary keeps him company. An old man with moustache wearing an old-fashioned Japanese robe soon walks into the room with his Poliwrath, and comments that it is truly astounding. Mary turns around to see that it is the Pokeathlon's owner Magnus, and is surprised to see that the man is breaking into tears. She quickly inquires what is wrong, and Magnus states that he is simply moved by Gold's brilliant skills as a Pokeathlete, and feels glad to have opened the Pokeathlon at the Johto region.

Just then, Whitney enters the room as well with her Smeargle, and merrily greets Mary. Seeing Whitney's track suit, Mary wonders if she is taking part in the competitions too, but the Goldenrod Gymleader denies and explains that she is simply serving as a tour guide to Gold. Of course, she is also there to make sure that he doesn't cause too many troubles, and DJ Mary grins in response. Mary then excuses herself back to the broadcast stage, and Whitney walks up to Gold and asks if he has decided what to do next.

Gold states that he has already conquered four of these five courses, and his next attempt will surely be the remaining Power Course. He hopes that the Power Course will contain events that involve item-tossing just like Snow Throw, and giggles that Aitaro's tail which serves as an extra hand gives it an advantage in such competitions. As soon as he says that, someone roars with laughter, and Gold turns around in shock to see a Machamp towering over Aitaro. Behind it, four silhouettes materialize out from the crowd, and the man who laughed states that if Gold's logic applies, his Machamp will have a tremendous advantage with its four arms.

The silhouettes reveal themselves to be a guy dressed in ninja clothes who uses a Muk; a younger man wearing a mask who is accompanied by an Exeggcutor; a woman with silver hair who commands a Houndoom; and finally a big burly man who is apparently the trainer of the Machamp. Gold gasps in shock at their appearance, and yet, almost anti-climatically, requests to know exactly who they are, causing the four people to tumble back and collapse.

Whitney smacks Gold hard on the head and calls him an idiot for not recognizing these extremely famous trainers in Johto: the silver-haired woman Karen; the burly man Bruno; the masked young man Will; and the ninja guy Koga, who are collectively known as the Elite 4.

Koga explains that while they each have their own dark past, the four of them now work under the Pokemon Association, and are in charge of testing the skills of challengers who come to the Pokemon League. Will grins that their aim is also to raise trainers who have an overall well-being, which is why, as Karen supplements, they frequently come to take part at the Pokeathlon and advertise about the League at the same time. Gold wonders if it means they can be challenged in the Pokeathlon events, and Bruno grins that he shall have his wish fulfilled, which makes the boy exhilarated with joy.

However, Gold has clearly underestimated his opponents. In the first event, Circle Push, Koga's Muk thrashes around its big slimy body, and easily knocks Explotaro, Politaro and Aitaro off from the circle repeatedly. In the second event, Goal Roll, Gold's three Pokemon fail to put up a solid defense, and Will's Exeggcutor scores goal after goal on their team. Gold grunts in frustration, and sees from the scoreboard that he is currently at the fourth place in ranking. DJ Mary states through her broadcast that Gold seems to have finally met his match in Bruno, Koga and Will, and says the Elite 4 are so far gaining an overwhelming upperhand over the boy.

Maximo gets everyone ready for the last event of the Power Course, Block Smash, and Will remembers that participants must break as many stacks of 10-block cements within the time limit, with complete freedom to switch between teammates to prevent fatigue. Koga grins that this will be Bruno's one-man show, and decides to stand back and let the man have his glory.

Warming up its hands with its own breath, Machamp stands in front of a 10-block cement stack, and with a single punch, smashes them all into pieces. Whitney watches in the audience stand with bewilderment, and couldn't believe that the Pokemon broke all 10 blocks at the same time. Karen states that Bruno's Machamp not only possesses power but also has high stamina which keeps it from getting worn out easily, and Whitney gasps in awe as the four-arm Pokemon breaks apart stack after stack of cement blocks.

Meanwhile, on Gold's side, the boy starts with Aitaro, and the purple monkey thrusts down the tip of its hand-like tail, which hits a small crack in the middle of the top cement block accurately. However, it merely manages to exaggerate the crack, and Gold proceeds to swap Politaro in. Once again, the green toad targets the cracks on the block, and successfully breaks it this time, albeit with less precision. Gold next passes on the baton to Explotaro, who delivers a thump that misses the cracks, but shatters two blocks at the same time.

Whitney sees that Gold's Typhlosion is the strongest member on his team in terms of power, but still, it is no match to Bruno's Machamp. Then, to her shock, Gold tells Explotaro that it is enough, and calls Aitaro forward again, a decision which startles even the little Aipom. Whitney doesn't understand why Gold has to swap out his most powerful Pokemon when he is already lagging behind, and watches as Aitaro struggles to take care of the remaining of the stack.

Bruno smirks that the outcome of the competition seems clear, and wonders if they should continue, but Gold simply responds with a giggle, and the burly man demands to know what is so funny. Gold states that right from the beginning, he knows that his Pokemon will not be able to match up with the power of Bruno's Machamp, which is why he has chosen to retaliate by skill instead.

He points out that although Aitaro's attacks on the cement block only result in a small number of successful shatters, every impact targets the crack at the center of the block precisely, which create a succession of critical hits. Bruno, Koga and Will realize with a start at what Gold is attempting to do, and see that Aipom's consecutive critical hits has already set the entire team into Tension mode. As Aitaro makes several more blows, they further escalate into the High Tension mode, a state where power and stamina is no longer a concern as the Pokemon will destroy full stacks of blocks as long as they remain in the mode.

Indeed, Aitaro, Politaro and Explotaro start to smash the cement blocks in terms of stacks, and before long, Gold's team is catching up with Bruno. On the other hand, Machamp is showing signs of fatigue from being the only active Pokemon since the beginning of the round. Bruno voices out his encouragement, but the fighting Pokemon no longer seems able to keep up its pace.

Gold grins that Machamp's multiple arms are more than enough in such a competition. However, the key lies not in the number, but accuracy. With that, Aitaro thrusts its tail down to shatter yet another stack of blocks just as the time runs out. Maximo exclaims that there is a drastic change of situation on the scoreboard, and declares that the points Gold earned in the third event has put him in the first place in the Power Course.

Later, outside the Pokeathlon Dome, Whitney congratulates Gold for his achievements, and Karen feels impressed as well. Bruno gives Gold a friendly pat on the shoulder, but then wears a smirk again, and wonders if there is something that he would like to share. Gold puts on a baffled look upon hearing Bruno's words, and the burly man decides to be blunt and directly asks the boy's purpose for being there. He states that Gold certainly doesn't look like the kind of person who would come simply for the purpose of sports, and the accusation causes Whitney to jump in shock.

Gold puts on a sheepish look and wants to know how he is busted, and Bruno grins that he could see it from his eyes. As Whitney continues to wear an awe-struck expression on her face, Gold ponders for a moment, and reveals that he is currently there to meet a man called Lance, who has summoned him to the Pokeathlon Dome to enlighten him on Arceus…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

443: VS Aipom

Volume 41