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Beyond the northern borders of Castelia City, a sandstorm is blowing hard on Route 4. Black and White step out from the gates, but immediately get whipped by the powerful gales of sand, making it impossible to advance or even see the road ahead. The two retreat back into the gates, and Black relents that it is simply not feasible to carry on their journey in a weather condition like this. White looks up at the electronic bulletin board, and sees that it indeed displays a sandstorm warning in its forecast.

Black peeps out of the window, and notices a man walking around with a Maractus. Fully geared with goggles, a helmet and a thick jacket, the guy is apparently a manual worker at some construction site nearby. Black and White take a look at their own clothes, and know that they are no way equipped to navigate in a sandstorm so nonchalantly like the man.

Black recalls that there is some kind of resort that is also a ruin in the area, and wonders what they should do. White states that their goal is to reach Nimbasa City, and they must find a way to get past this place no matter what. Wearing a look of determination, she declares that they must gear up as well, and tells Black to wait for her there while she goes to buy stuff. She then runs off in high spirits, and Black has to stop Musha from chasing after her, clearly attracted to the strong dream energy she is exuding. The boy is glad that his president is so motivated by her dreams just like him, and decides to take a seat and prep for his next Gym challenge while he waits for White to come back.

Flipping out his notebook, he reads about the Nimbasa Gymleader and the electric Pokemon she uses, and at that moment, a group of construction site Workers walk into the gate from Route 4 with their Pokemon helpers. The men take off their helmets and goggles, and start to get drinks and chill out. Black realizes that it is break time for the Workers, and one man who takes a seat next to him compliments him for being such an avid learner. Black hopes that it is alright that he sits there, and the men naturally have no objection towards it.

Suddenly, Black hears excitement coming from the other side of the room, and looks over to see that some of the Workers have gathered around a table. He walks over to see what is going on, and sees that Card Flip game has been spread out on a board by a man dressed like a gypsy and accompanied by a Bisharp. Numbered from 1 to 6, 24 cards are divided into four columns marked with Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Poliwag and Oddish.

The man deals another card from the pile, and the Workers start betting on which Pokemon face and value it would match. A man calls for Pikachu 3, one bets on Poliwag 4, another on Jigglypuff 6, and once everyone has made their decision, the gypsy man asks his Bisharp to flip over the card, which turns out to be a Poliwag 2, leading to some cheers and some grunts in the group.

Just then, a buzz goes off on the loudspeakers overhead, signaling the end of the break time, and the Workers one by one leave the table as they proceed to return to the construction site. The gypsy man wishes them good luck on their work, and soon finds Black staring at him. He asks if the boy wants something, and Black feels slightly embarrassed, grinning that he is simply wondering why someone who isn't a Worker would be at such a place to host the Card Flip game. The gypsy man laughs at Black's comment, and stands up from his seat, beckoning Black to follow him. He points out of the window towards where the construction site is, and says the Workers are currently building a road through the desert. Thanks to the sandstorm that frequently blows in the area, their work is sometimes interrupted, and it will be boring if they have nothing to do other than eating and drinking during their break. That is where games come in.

The man states that he is personally loves games a lot, since it is a form of competition, and competition is always fun. He believes that if one starts to see every competition as a game, one could excel in Pokemon battles. Black bolts a little upon hearing that, and the man grins that hi words has caused the boy to change his facial expression, showing that he has captured his interest. Black fervently agrees, and requests to try out the Card Flip game himself. However, the man remarks that the card game time is up for today, and Black instantly drops his shoulders in disappointment.

The man tells him not to despair as anything can be a game, and leads Black out of the gates. He points towards a Drilbur ahead who is digging on the ground, and wants Black to keep his focus on it. He then motions to Bisharp, and the sword blade Pokemon swings its forearm down to deliver a Slash across the sand, marking a line that divides the road into left and right. Black wonders what the man is doing, and the man says Drilbur is the mole Pokemon which dives into the ground and then resurfaces. There is no telling where it will pop up after it goes underground again, and their game is to guess which side of the line Drilbur will reappear, which he shall call the Drilbur game.

Drilbur soon vanishes underground again, and the gypsy man commences the game. He asks Black to pick a side, and after much hesitation, Black decides to choose right. The man opts for left with a grin, and a few seconds later, Drilbur resurfaces from the left side of the line. The man states that he has won this round, and Black requests to do it once more, keeping his choice on the right. This time, Black manages to make a correct guess, and the gypsy man switches sides next to right while Black chooses left.

This goes on for a few turns, and both Black and the gypsy man end up with three wins each. The two decide to have one last bet, and as Drilbur does another dig, Black choose right while the gypsy man picks left. In that instant, the Worker whom Black saw earlier with a Maractus walks by, and the ground beneath him suddenly gives way. Black jumps in horror as the Worker starts sinking into the sand, and realizes that holes created by Drilbur's digging must have softened the ground. He attempts to go rescue the Worker, but the gypsy man stops him and says it isn't necessary.

The man alerts Black that the other Workers are currently at the construction site to their far left, which is on the other side of the road. Before the Workers left, he has informed them that he plans to start a game in this area, and told them specifically not to step into this side of the road. Yet, this Worker who got trapped ventured into the zone anyway, which indicates that he is not a real Worker belonging to the group, but an intruder in disguise.

The trapped man grunts in frustration that he has been busted, and orders his Maractus to attack. Bisharp easily blocks its kick, and delivers a Slash to send the cactus Pokemon crashing backwards. It then charges over to continue its assault, and Black gets worried as the sandstorm is starting to intensify. However, the gypsy man grins that there is no need to fret, and indeed, to Black's shock, he sees that Bisharp is moving its forearms in incredibly high speed to fend off every particle of sand blowing towards it, almost as if creating an invisible protective dome around itself. The gypsy man states that Bisharp is the sharp blade Pokemon whose entire Pokemon is made of blades, and Black watches with amazement as it moves freely in the sandstorm.

The trapped Worker orders a Petal Dance, and Maractus starts spinning a swirl of petals out from the flowers on its ears. However, the gypsy man remarks that it is useless, and gets Bisharp to slice them all with Fury Cutter. Maractus unleashes a Cotton Guard to raise its defense, but the gypsy man grins that it will not be enough since his Bisharp's slashes could cut through anything. With that, Bisharp advances more furiously with the blades on its forearms, and after destroying Maractus's bulk of cotton, delivers a direct slice on its body, fainting it with the hit.

The gypsy man then orders Bisharp to cut open the disguise of the Worker, and reveals him to be someone dressed in medieval-knight attire. At that moment, Drilbur resurfaces from the ground, and the gypsy man remarks that it is the left side, which makes him the winner with 4 wins and three losses. He tells Black not to feel discouraged as he has been a casino dealer for over 10 years, and his instincts as a gambler worked its miracle in the last bit. Black protests that the man would have naturally won because he set up the Drilbur game on purpose to catch the intruder, but the man states that while it is true that he intentionally let Drilbur dig in the area, it is completely up to the mole Pokemon's own decision where it resurfaces, something which even he wouldn't know.

The man sighs that he has nothing else to say if Black still doubts him, and pulls off his hood to reveal his hair, which curls up sideways liked a cat's ears. Black finds the hair-style extremely familiar, and recalls what the man said about being a casino dealer, and how great his battle skills were. He bolts with a start as he flips through his notebook, and confirms that the man is indeed no other than Grimsley of the Elite 4.

Black is bewildered at why Grimsley would be at such a place, and rationalizes that he must have come to catch the intruder. He is curious as to how Grimsley learnt about the intruder, and the man giggles that Black surely has a lot of questions. He muses that he wouldn't mind sharing his information, but decides that they should make this a game, too, and says he will reveal what he knows if the boy beats him in a Pokemon battle.

Black's eyes instantly light up at the proposition, but Grimsley says Black must bet something as well. He states that the answer to Black's question contains information he deems extremely important, which is why in order to be fair, Black should also bet something which is of most importance to him. Black thinks of what it is that he considers most important, and suddenly gets hesitant as he realizes that it is the Gym Badges he has earned, which are pinned on the collar of his jacket…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us



481: VS Bisharp


Volume 46