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Wally listens with astonishment as Norman offers to give him the training he promised back in Petalburg. Feeling hesitant, Wally turns around and sees that his Pokémon are all beaming with ambition. Old man Ghem comments that his team seems to welcome the idea, and encourages the boy to accept it. After another moment of thought, Wally agrees and they all climb onto Norman's Flygon.

As the green dragon Pokémon flies east amid the heavy downpour, Wally wonders where they are going, and is surprised that there are still places suitable for training when the whole of Hoenn is being savaged by the natural disasters. Keeping his gaze ahead, Norman remarks that they are very near now, and a giant tower that extends all way up into the clouds soon materializes in front of them. Wally lets out a gasp when he realizes that it is the Sky Pillar, and for the first time understands where its peculiar name came from.

Hopping off Flygon upon landing, Norman walks into the Sky Pillar without a word, and Wally quickly chases after him. The boy is about to raise another question when Norman tells him to stop the unnecessary inquiries, and states that their training starts that very second. Knowing better than to infuriate Norman, Wally keeps his mouth shut and silently follows the man. Inside the room, the Petalburg gymleader kneels down beside a box next to the concrete stairs, and retrieves two wrist protectors each containing a switch connected to holes on the side which hold Pokéballs. He orders Wally to put them on, and turns around to embark on Flygon again, saying that he shall be waiting on the top floor of the Sky Pillar.

Surprised that Norman is leaving him on his own, Wally wants to know what he is supposed to do, and is told to climb the tower by the staircases. The boy gets hesitant and wonders what lies ahead, but Norman simply says he will find out when he gets further up, and takes off on Flygon before Wally could respond.

Left with no choice, Wally braces himself and begins his ascend. He soon arrives on the second floor, but doesn't seem to see anything else aside from the next flight of stairs towards the opposite end of the empty room. He takes another step forward, but all of a sudden, the ground crumbles beneath him and gives way. Wally hollers with shock as he plummets through the hole. He is about to crash when something pops out from his wrist protector and halts his fall just in time. Wally looks up to see Treecko grabbing his hand while securing itself against the cement ceiling, and realizes that the little grass Pokémon is capable of scaling on the surface of vertical walls. He thanks Treecko as it slowly lowers him back on the first floor, and is curious to know why the floor broke away earlier.

Climbing up the stairs once again, Wally and Treecko return to the second floor and inspect the ground closely. Wally notices fine cracks which are barely visible here and there, and decides to take a slow and careful step this time. However, the cement quickly cracks again despite the extremely light pressure, and Wally frantically jumps back, calling out to Norman for help. Yet the only thing he hears is the echo of his own voice, and Wally knows that he has to deal with it alone.

Thinking hard for a solution, Wally contemplates on the possibility of having Ruru lift him across with its psychic, but rationalizes that the higher floors will probably be the same and Ruru won't be able to last the whole tower. Just then, Treecko tugs at his sleeve and he turns around to see a Mach Bike leaning against the wall. Wally wonders who placed it there, and realizes with a start that he was meant to use it to cross the cracked floors. With the bike's speed, he will be able to make it to the other side of the room before the ground crumbles, and the special wrist protectors that hold Pokéballs would enable him to call out his Pokémon easily even with both hands occupied in steering.

Finally understanding what Norman has planned for him, Wally recalls that the Petalburg gymleader is a tough guy who has devoted himself completely to the pursuit for strength and power, and wonders if he can live up to the man's expectations. But then, he remembers that he was the one who requested Norman to teach him about Pokémon, and he is really lucky to have had a second chance after spoiling the first one. Brushing away his uncertainty, Wally retrieves Treecko into its Pokéball, and climbs onto the Mach Bike with a determined look.

Outside, old man Ghem looks up at the Sky Pillar, and is worried that the challenge is too harsh for Wally. On the top floor, Norman replies via his Pokégear that the ascend through the 50 storey-tower is nothing, and says their goals lies on the very top. He remarks that the situation at the Sky Pillar appears to be better than he initially imagined, and wants Ghem to contact Scott for him. Ghem thus proceeds to search through the contact list in his Pokégear, and the image of a chubby man wearing a blue shirt and sunglasses soon pops up.

Back inside, Wally cycles hard, and manages to keep himself ahead of the crumbling ground. A wild Shuppet, Duskull, and Baltoy come charging towards him, and he quickly sends Ruru out from his wrist protector to fend them off. Arriving on the solid ground on the other side of the room, Wally stops to catch his breath, and pants that the wild Pokémon they encounter seem to be getting stronger as they go higher. Having climbed 15 floors, he wonders if they are even half way through. Suddenly, his lungs start to tighten, and Ruru hurriedly presses the switch on his pullover to activate the ventilation mask. Resting against the wall, Wally soon feels better and thanks Ruru. He releases the mask and remarks that they have no time to lose, and struggles to get back on his feet again.

And so Wally continues his ascend. Despite being ambushed by wild Sableyes, Bannettes, Claydols and many others along the way, his team keeps them all at bay. Soon, he arrives on the 49th floor, and notices that the room is different from the previous ones and is pitch black. A red eye gradually materializes out from the darkness, and Wally gasps in horror when it reveals itself to be a Dusclops. The wild ghost Pokémon creates a blackhole in front of itself, and without warning begins sucking things in.

Wally struggles to stand his ground and suddenly hears something beeping in his pocket. He takes out the device which he found inside the bagpack together with Treecko, and remembers with a start that it is the same Pokémon data machine which Ruby possesses. He quickly seeks its help, and reads that Dusclops's blackhole-like body absorbs anything without letting them out again. Just then, the Mach Bike gets sucked into the blackhole as well, and Wally thinks hard to come up with a plan while trying to resist the suction.

Treecko all of a sudden starts thrashing around inside its Pokéball, and Wally notices it pointing towards the Pokédex. He realizes that it is telling him to read up its data, and learns from the device that Treecko's evolved form knows an attack that might be able to destroy the blackhole. After a moment of hesitation, Wally decides that even though Treecko isn't really his Pokémon, he is willing to fight alongside with it and trust it.

Activating his ventilation mask again, he places all his faith in Treecko and throws himself against Dusclops while holding his wrist protector forward. Treecko pops out from its Pokéball and in a flash of light, evolves into a Grovyle. It then unleashes a leafblade, and with a powerful collision, knocks out the ghost Pokémon. Landing on the other side of the room, Wally thanks Grovyle for its good work and Grovyle puts on a wide grin. Wasting no time, Wally struggles to climb the last flight of stairs and soon finds himself on the 50th floor. He sees that there doesn't seem to have further ways up, and feels relieved that he has finally accomplished his task in reaching the top. Still with the Pokédex in hand, he collapses on the ground and soon passes out.

Later, Wally wakes to Norman's voice complimenting on his strategy in using Grovyle's leafblade to create a vacuum to counteract Dusclop's blackhole. The boy pulls himself onto his feet, and says he was fortunate to have had the Pokédex to help him. Norman then tells Wally to remove his ventilation mask, and Wally soon feels surprised as his breathing seems to be at an ease that he has never experienced before. Norman explains that the air is thinner at the top of the Sky Pillar, and by training there, Wally can greatly strengthen his ventilation system and improve his health.

Wally gets overjoyed upon hearing that, and remarks that the Dusclops was the very first Pokémon he managed to faint on his own. Norman states that Wally will need a flying Pokémon from then on, and gives him his Flygon, much to Wally's pleasant surprise. The Petalburg gymleader then adds that their training isn't over, and tells him not to get too carried away. As Wally walks over to get acquainted with Flygon, Norman prays that the boy will manage to reach their goal, their goal which lies on the very top of the Sky Pillar.

And so Wally has made a new step in his journey. Like Ruby and Sapphire, he has thrown himself into the big battle that will determine the fate of Hoenn which is now sabotaged by the combined effect of drought and flood. Very soon, he will realize the critical role he and his Pokémon should play in this mighty crisis…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

241: VS. Dusclops!

Volume 20