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Wearing a look of determination, Bianca orders a Tackle from Oshawott, and Cheren commands the same move from Snivy. The water and grass starters collide into one another, but neither seems to inflict much damage on its opponent. The two then engage in a close-up combat, clawing and smacking at each other with their little arms, and Snivy finally delivers a swipe with its leafy tail to send Oshawott flying. The sea otter crashes into the face of Bianca as it tumbles backwards, and Cheren quickly asks if the girl is alright.

Kneeling on the ground, Bianca mutters that it hurts, and both Cheren and Snivy could feel the air suddenly turning ominous around them. As he anticipated, the girl breaks into a brawl in the next moment, and cries that she will not forgive Cheren for that. She starts chasing him around to throw punches at his back, and the boy yells that she has to stop turning her anger into violence. Meanwhile, Oshawott has also gone into its reckless mode, and peels off its scalchop to start slicing at Snivy.

The four seem completely oblivious to the young woman in the room who is about to explode, and soon enough, Prof. Aurea Juniper screams at the top of her voice that they need to stop with their fuss. Her holler causes Cheren, Bianca, Snivy and Oshawott to fall from shock, and she yells that battles are not supposed to be carried out in indoors. Indeed, her living has been turned into a complete mess and Minccino wastes no time in sweeping and cleaning.

However, seeing the damage that they have done, instead of feeling guilty, Bianca marvels that the power of Pokemon is truly amazing, and her comment causes Aurea to bang her head against the wall. Bianca picks up Oshawott to give it a big hug, and states that she is glad to own such little creatures with big powers.

Cheren sweatdrops at Bianca's nonchalant attitude, and says sorry to Prof. Juniper for it. He promises to keep her under control before the Pokedexes are fixed and tries to get Bianca to show her apology as well, but Aurea relents that it is fine. She leads the two to her work station where she is trying to fix the Pokedexes, but apparently, it is taking much more time than she expected.

Bianca wonders if it means they have time to do another battle, but Cheren quickly silences her before Aurea goes into another fury. The young professor wants to know if they have been able to get in touch with Black, but Cheren states that they haven't since the boy does not possess any sort of communication devices. Bianca tries to imagine what Black might be doing now, and Cheren believes that he must be trying to fulfill what he calls the promise of his dreams, and is currently looking up on data about Tepig. Aurea raises an eyebrow at the statement, and wants to know what Cheren means.

Meanwhile, at the library of Nuvema Town, Black is inadvertently drawing attention to himself again.

Black: ROAAARRR!!! I WILL CONQUER THE POKEMON LEAGUEEEEE!!! SURELY SURELY SURELY SURELY CONQUER ITTTT!!! WAIT FOR ME!!! ELITE FOUR SHAUNTAL! GRIMSLEY! CAITLIN!! MARSHAL!! CHAMPION ALDER!!!

The other library users in the room instantly shoot angry glares at Black, and as a group hush him by putting fingers to their lips. The boy giggles embarrassedly that he has forgotten to stay quiet in a library, and relents that the book he is reading does not describe the evolutions of Tepig either. He puts it back onto the shelf as he searches for another one, and soon feels Tepig tugging at his trousers. He tells the fire piglet to be patient, and explains that he is trying to find out what Pokemon it evolves into so as to give it an appropriate nickname. He states that it will be senseless to name it according to its basic form, as it will surely grow into something bigger and stronger with time.

Black's words causes Tepig to widen its eyes in astonishment, and when Black jokes that it will surprise him if Tepig is a species that doesn't evolve, the little Pokemon pouts its lips and turns to run away without warning. Black gets taken aback by its unexpected behavior, and quickly gives chase as he calls after it.

Back at Prof. Juniper's Research Lab, the young professor is shocked to hear that Black nicknames his Pokemon based on their evolved forms. Cheren remarks that the boy has done the same to his Munna and Braviary, and says Munna is nicknamed Musha because he found out that it will evolve into Musharna. Similarly, for Braviary, he has been calling it Brav since the time that it was still a Rufflet.

Aurea finds it interesting that the boy has such a habit, and Cheren grins that he shares her sentiment. He states that if there is anything to describe Black, he will say that he is a boy who thoroughly investigates and prepares for the sake of his dreams. In fact, for this present day on which he can finally receive a Pokemon and Pokedex from the professor, Black has been making preparations for 9 whole years.

Cheren reveals that Bianca, Black and himself have been very good friends since a very young age. Back then, Black lived on a foreign street but often came to Nuvema to play with them. One day, Black told them that he has learnt of a way how the adults decide who the best among a group is, and that is through Pokemon battles. The three witnessed a combat between a Throh and Sawk on the field, and Black suggested they try it out themselves, which Cheren and Bianca promptly agreed to.

Using the Unfezant and Stoutland of Bianca's father, the three of them mimicked how the adults carry out Pokemon battles at Bianca's home. At the beginning, it was only intended as a child's game and they did not care about victories or losses, but at the end of the battle, Black became hooked onto the sport, and even made the declaration that he will become the strongest Pokemon battler.

Aurea giggles that it is actually adorable for a child to say that, but Cheren points out that the scary part is what followed, which Bianca firmly agrees with a nod. Ever since Black made up his mind to become the number one in Pokemon battles, he started working on his idea by doing extensive investigations through the people around him and by his own effort. He would go to libraries, seek out old newspapers and articles, and listen to every TV and radio broadcast.

After a while, he found out that he could fulfill his dream by claiming victory at the Pokemon League, and thus began researching on its particulars, when it is held, where it is held, and what qualifies someone to participate in it. Black summarized his findings in a notebook which he called his 'Challenge Proposal', and eagerly shared it with Bianca and Cheren. He told them that in order to conquer the Pokemon League and challenge the Elite Four and the Champion, one must first collect the eight Badges, which are given out by Gymleaders in Pokemon Gyms scattered across different towns and cities in the Unova region. To achieve this, one would have to travel far, and Black knew that he would technically be going on a journey for it.

Cheren queried at that time if Black's parents would allow him to do so, and Black relented that it would be a challenge, especially when he still had to attend kindergarten school. Yet, without a journey, he would not be able to beat the Gyms. Without beating the Gyms, he would not be able to take part in the Pokemon League, which is why it would be essential for him to find a good reason to go on a journey.

Incidentally, during their discussion, the television broadcasted a message from a middle-aged man, which Cheren recognized as a very talented and famous professor named Cedric Juniper living next doors, who was no other than the father of Aurea Juniper. The man talked about his on-going work on the Pokedex, which he described to be a high-tech machine meant to collect and record data about Pokemon encountered in the wild. When the news reporter asked if Cedric planned on going on a journey after the Pokedex is done to collect the data himself, the man stated his idea of recruiting young boys and girls to do it instead.

After hearing Cedric's words, an idea dawned on Black, and he decided that he would become one of the young trainers to receive a Pokedex and go on a journey for the professor. He almost wanted to drag Cheren to the professor's house next doors right away, but Cheren assured him that they were still too young for such a mission.

Nevertheless, with a firm idea in mind, Black took practical steps to work towards it. First, he managed to convince his parents to move their home to Nuvema shortly afterwards, and following that, he constantly tried to catch Prof. Cedric Juniper's attention by carrying out battle practices with his Pokemon outside the professor's window every single day.

Aurea gasps that she never noticed such a thing all these years, and Cheren grins embarrassedly that it is alright, feeling a bit sorry for Black's wasted efforts. He states that the most important thing right now is to let Black know of the situation, that his copy of the Pokedex is the only one that is currently working, and decides to give chase to the boy to deliver the message. Aurea promises to keep working on fixing the two remaining Dexes, and hopes that Cheren and Bianca could catch up with Black soon.

With that, the two young trainers step out from Aurea's Research Lab, and wonder where to start their search. Cheren takes out the Town Map, and believes that Black would be heading to the nearest Gym for his first Badge. He is about to explain their route to Bianca when the voice of a man suddenly calls out to the girl from behind. In no time, Bianca lets out a squeal and screams in protest.

Back on Black's side, he is still trying to trace Tepig's tracks, and currently finds himself in the rocky mountainous area on the southern boundaries of Nuvema. Musha gestures towards a cave opening in front, and Black peeps in to see that the fire piglet is indeed hiding inside. He tries to talk it to coming out, but Tepig simply puts on a sulky face and turns its head the other way. Black rationalizes that it must be upset because he wanted to nickname it according to its evolved form, which in a way seems to degrade its current self. He jokes that Tepig is surely a little guy with childish tempers, but the thoughtless comment ends up offending the fire piglet more, causing Brav to cover its face with embarrassment as well.

Feeling humiliated, Tepig turns around and starts to let out an angry screech, forcing Black and Musha to shield their ears in pain. Black warns that making such an irritating noise will startle the wild Pokemon in the area, and soon as he says that, something swoops down to knock Tepig off its feet.

Black grunts that his prediction is correct after all, and watches as Tepig struggles to evade the subsequent attacks from the fast-moving creature. However, Tepig shoots Black a fierce look, and Black could see that it is determined to take care of this foe on its own, obviously trying to prove to him that it is strong enough without an evolution. Black feels impressed by Tepig's strong spirits, but sees that it is not doing very well as it keeps getting knocked around by this invisible foe in the dark. He believes that Tepig will have a hard time winning unless it could identify this foe, and beckons to Musha.

Munna hurriedly clamps its mouth on Black's head, and soon enough, Black's mind blanks into a field of white hexagons. Paying heed to the opponent's movements in the dark, the white areas in his mind gradually darken into black spots, and outline the silhouette of a winged creature. Black pulls Musha off himself after identifying what kind of foe Tepig is facing, but knows that the little piglet will be too proud to receive any direct help, especially when it is attempting to prove itself to him. He looks around to see if he could give hints to Tepig in any way, and soon gets an idea when he notices that the creature often bounces off the rocky wall behind Tepig.

Picking up a piece of rock, Black tosses it towards the wall, which causes a temporary sparkle that catches Tepig's attention. The fire piglet spots multiple heart-shaped marks have been left on the wall, and right away realizes what it is facing. It powers up an Ember from its nostrils to light up the cave, and reveals a Woobat hovering above it.

Black is glad that Tepig picked up his hint, and flips out his Pokedex to read that Woobat is the bat Pokemon whose suction from its nostrils leaves behind heart-shaped marks on cave walls where it sleeps. Tepig kicks up a rock from the ground to target at Woobat's nose, and successfully jams it into the heart-shaped groove. Without the ultrasound waves which it emits from its nose to detect its surroundings, the Woobat starts to lose orientation and flies erratically. Grabbing the chance, Tepig rams Woobat hard into a crevice on the wall, and manages to knock it unconscious.

Tepig then lands gracefully in front of Black, and shoots him a snide look through the corner of its eye. Black understands well what it is trying to say, and agrees that it indeed displays strength that exceeded his expectations, which shows that it has strong innate fighting skills. He acknowledges Tepig's powers by kneeling down to shake its hand, and in recognition of its current form, decides to nickname it Tep.

Black remarks that he doesn't know what kind of form Tep will evolve into, but he looks forward to it as it will certainly be even more powerful. He grins that he feels as if he is another step closer to conquering the Pokemon League, and hopes that Tep will work together with him towards this dream. With that, the boy gets ready to embark on his Gym-challenging journey, and sets out for the Striaton Gym of Striaton City, where he shall battle for his first Badge against three Gymleaders who are born as triplets. At the same time, back at the front door of Aurea's Research Lab, Bianca continues to squeal and protest against her father's pull. The stubby middle-aged man barks that he forbids her to go on a journey to collect data on Pokemon, and states that the world out there is far too dangerous for someone like Bianca who knows close to nothing about it. Bianca cries that she has made up her mind to go, and the two carry on their tug-o-war as Oshawott watches with a sweatdrop on its face.

Aurea feels crossed, and finds it ironic that while there are kids who have spent 9 whole years preparing for a journey, there are also those who aren't prepared even on the day of setting out. Cheren wonders if they could really start their journey on time, and Aurea relents that she has absolutely no idea. Next to them, Bianca and her father continue their quarrel, neither showing signs of succumbing…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us



463: VS Woobat


Volume 43