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At the entrance of the Pokemon League, Drayden and Black are currently battling inside the gate, which front door has been closed by Drayden's secretary, Secretta. The Opelucid Gymleader's Druddigon charges forward to attack, and Black gets Brav to do the same. Brav dives towards Druddigon with its full might, but the dragon Pokemon adeptly jumps out of the way, causing Brav to crash against the floor instead. Druddigon then grabs Brav by its feet, and flings it aside with force. Brav attempts to retaliate with an Air Slash, but Druddigon once again leaps off before the attack lands.

Secretta watches the intense battle, and feels troubled that the mayor has decided to have a battle in this narrow passageway. At that moment, Drayden calls out to her, and wants to know which part of the program the opening ceremony is currently at. Secretta quickly checks on her computer pad, and informs the man that the Undella Dancers have just began their performance, and it will be 15 minutes before closing part of the ceremony.

Drayden hopes that Black heard what Secretta said, and states that he must return to host the last part of the ceremony, which means he doesn't have too much time left for their battle. Black grunts that he understands, and tells himself that he cannot lose and let this chance slip by, especially since Drayden is giving him special exemption to get the eighth Badge. However, it appears that this will not be an easy battle. Druddigon opens it mouth to spit out a Dragon Rage, and although Black orders Brav to raise its speed with Tail Wind, it still fails to evade the hit.

In light of the special circumstances, Black's current battle with Drayden has a time limit, and to make things more tensed, this gate is technically not a proper battleground, as the staff working at the League Tournament could barge in any moment to interrupt their fight. Due to that, Drayden has called for a 1vs1 battle only. For the past 30 minutes, Brav has been struggling to land a hit on Druddigon, but to no avail since its speed is outmatched by the dragon. Yet, Drayden feels that this is not the only reason that Black has failed to get the upperhand.

The Opelucid Gymleader points out that Brav hardly comes off as intimidating in its attacks, and could even be called repressed. He states that Black has repeatedly failed to give timely commands, indicating his distraction, and finds it ridiculous that the boy intends to beat him with such an attitude. Black puts on a bitter grin, and relents that he fails to hide this 'truth' after all. Indeed, he is far from his best at his current state, because he has just lost a partner who grew up with him since childhood. He thought that he had a tight bond with this partner, but the cruel 'truth' is that this bond does not exist. Having realized this 'truth', it makes him doubt the tie that he shares with Brav, another partner who has been with him for just as long.

Drayden remains silent for a moment, and wonders if Black keeps saying the word 'truth' because he has made the declaration to become Unova's 'Truth'. Black snickers that it is ironic, but says this certain 'truth' which he did not intend to discover is far too heavy for him to shoulder. On the other hand, his desire to participate in the Pokemon League also remains a 'truth', which is probably why he acted on this last bit of hope in his heart and came to fight Drayden. Black queries whether he is just fighting half-heartedly now, and Drayden remarks that he unfortunately is. The man thinks it is probably time to finish things off if this is what has really become of Black, and orders Druddigon to deliver a Rock Climb. The red-faced dragon immediately rams its skull into the body of Brav with full force, and knocks the air out of its opponent's lungs. Brav's eyes widen with shock and pain as it tumbles backwards, and Black cries out in horror as it crashes onto the floor.

Drayden states that as a dragon type, Druddigon has a very tough exterior, and the skin on its head is particularly tough, which it further strengthens by running through narrow tunnels formed by Pokemon like Excadrill. Drayden has deliberately chose this narrow gateway as their battleground, since its setting very much resembles the tunnels which Druddigon is highly familiar with, and not many Pokemon could outmatch its footwork and agility here. Unfortunately, Drayden has had too much expectation from Black, and it appears that the boy's current condition does not warrant the need for any special strategies.

Black has no defense against Drayden's accusation, and simply takes out his other Pokeballs and kneels down next to Brav, who is on the verge of fainting. He apologizes to all his Pokemon for giving them false hope when he seemed to rekindle his fighting spirit, but the truth is he doesn't really think that he could beat Drayden now, which means they probably will not be able to sit for the League Tournament. However, he thinks that he is content, since he has made an effort, and made it that far.

In that instant, a familiar voice speaks in his head and queries whether he is really content with not being able to enter the League, since it essentially makes all his efforts so far meaningless. Black bolts in recognition that it is Clay's voice, and at that moment, the front door of the gate swings open, letting in a blast of cold snowy air. Apparently, a blizzard has started outside, and Secretta doesn't understand how the locked door could have been blown open. Druddigon trembles from the cold, and Drayden urges Secretta to close the door immediately. Before Secretta could do so, someone walks in with a Gothitelle, and Black gasps in shock when he sees that it is Caitlin of the Elite 4.

As Secretta secures the door once more, Drayden wants to know why Caitlin has come, and the young lady reveals that she has something for Black, which causes the boy to jump in astonishment. Then, without warning, Gothitelle leaps towards him and places it hands on his head. Immediately, the images of Clay, Burgh, Skyla, Elesa, Lenora and her husband Hawes appear in his mind, and Black realizes with bewilderment that they are talking to him in real time. Secretta wonders what is happening, and Caitlin explains that Gothitelle's psychic powers can tune into the consciousness of the captured Gymleaders, which allows them to converse back and forth.

Black tells the Gymleaders that he has been extremely worried about them, and wants to know where they are. Unfortunately, Caitlin reveals that not even the Gymleaders themselves know. The fact is, for some reason, the Gymleaders could not recall anything about how they were taken to their current place by the enemy, and they are now held hostage at somewhere dark and quiet, which whereabouts they have no absolutely no clue of. Caitlin states that she has not been able to find the exact location of the Gymleaders despite her psychic powers, but they insisted on speaking to Black in person, which is why she has come.

Indeed, the six Gymleaders each has something to tell Black, and Skyla starts off by saying how sorry she feels that his Munna left him. Clay apologizes to Black for dragging him into this whole Team Plasma business, and knows that he must have gone through much hardship. Yet, Black replies that it isn't Clay's fault, and insists that it is his own problem. He believes that even if N did not show him this 'truth', this problem will arise sooner or later, because he genuinely could not hear the voice of his Pokemon, and all along, his belief of his strong connection with his Pokemon was probably just one-sided.

Skyla doubts that what Black said is true, and wants him to recall his battle with her at the Mistralton Gym, which he would not have won if he didn't connect with his Pokemon and channeled his willpower to them. Burgh tells Black to think back on his Castelia Gym challenge, and clearly remembers how his Tepig yearned to battle for him, and even evolved to win the match. Clay agrees with Skyla and Burgh, and says he saw with his very own eyes how Black opened up the heart of his Tirtouga during their Gym battle, who would not listen to him in the beginning. Lenora wonders if Black remembers how he referred to his Pokemon and himself as a single entity when they were about to lose, and reminds him that they eventually beat her because they rekindled their shared determination in conquering the Pokemon League.

Elesa says she will never forget what Black told her during his Nimbasa Gym challenge, about how trainers are to Pokemon like a coach is to athletes. At that time, Black said a coach is responsible for deciding on the strategy while athletes are responsible for listening to their coach. Although they play different roles, their common aim is to win. For the Pokemon who is an athlete, it will wish to continue playing under the guidance of a good coach, which is why by being a good coach, a trainer would keep his Pokemon with him. She wants Black to know that he has come this far because he has heard the voices of his Pokemon, and it is clear that he has the right answer all along, which should not be clouded by misjudgment from others.

Black's uncertainty slowly falls away as the Gymleaders' words remind him of the moments he connected with his Pokemon on his journey, and soon feels his fighting spirit rekindled. He eases away from Gothitelle's hands, and wears a determined look as he orders an Air Slash from Brav. The eagle flaps its wings to deliver the attack towards Druddigon, but the dragon Pokemon jumps out of the way, and Drayden mocks that although the attack felt intimidating this time, it still wouldn't outmatch Druddigon's agility. However, Black grins that his target was not Druddigon, and at that moment, the Air Slash hits the front door, flinging it open.

Immediately, blasts of snowy air rush in from the opening, and causes Druddigon to shudder from the cold. Black hollers that it is the time to attack, and Brav dives towards Druddigon to deliver a powerful blow with its talons onto its opponent's face. The smack sends Druddigon crashing against the wall, and faints the dragon instantly. Secretta gaps in disbelief that Druddigon failed to dodge the direct attack even though it has barely received any damage so far, and Black takes out his Pokedex to show her that Druddigon can no longer move when its body temperature is lowered by the cold. He states that as a flying type, Brav has trouble dealing with the cold too, but because of the trust they share, it was willing to take this risk. As Black says that, Brav collapses onto the floor, and Secretta believes that Black has won the match. Drayden ponders for a moment, and without warning, picks Black off the ground by the back of his collar and walks off.

Later, the blizzard outside the gates has stopped. Back at Cedric Juniper's Science Lab, everyone watches the last part of the opening ceremony on TV, and all jump in shock when Drayden brings Black on stage, announcing that they have a 32nd qualified participant in the Tournament. He states that on the next day, the 32 contestants shall begin their battle, and hopes everybody will give their best. With that, Drayden concludes the ceremony, and White, Aurea Juniper, Cedric Juniper, Fennel and Amanita all rush out from the lab towards the League building.

On Black's side, the boy trembles with disbelief as he holds the Legend Badge in his hand, and pins it to his collar next to the seven other ones. Tears begin to form in his eyes as he gazes upon his 8 Badges, and with a cheer, he rejoices with his Boar, Brav, Tula and Carra that they have finally earned the right to take part in the Pokemon League.

And so, the Pokemon League Tournament officially begins on the next day. Starting from the first floor of the Victory Road, challengers begin to climb to its summit as they face off one another in the caves and on the mountain sides…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us



052: VS Druddigon!

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