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Towards the west of Nimbasa City is the Driftveil Drawbridge. Sporting a bright flaming red, it is also called the Charizard Bridge, and connects Driftveil City to Nimbasa via Route 5. In the past few days, for some unknown reason, the drawbridge has remained in a pulled-up position, which has put a halt on all land traffic between the two cities.

At the bridge's control room at the Driftveil end, Zorua hops in through a half-open window, and turns itself into a young boy who wears a striped T-shirt and has two red dots between his eyebrows. The tricky fox Pokemon accesses the computer which is left unattended, and starts messing with the system.

Meanwhile, on the Nimbasa end of the drawbridge, road blocks have been set up just outside Route 5. Black stands among the crowd that has gathered there, and like everyone else, wonders what is going on. Having beaten Elesa at the Nimbasa Gym, his next destination will be Driftveil City. However, access via Driftveil Drawbridge has been blocked since several days ago, and Black looks around to see that many people and vehicles who intend to cross the bridge have been held up in the area.

Just then, Elesa enters the scene on her Zebstrika, and Black overhears her talking on her Xtransceiver, requesting help from someone lower the drawbridge. Black calls out to her, asking what she is doing there, and the Nimbasa Gymleader explains that she was trying to get in touch with the person in charge of controlling the bridge. However, she was not able to contact the man, which is why she left a message. She tells Black to hop on Zebstrika with her, and takes him past the road blocks. People in the crowd start to question who Black is, and a few of Elesa's admirers get devastated with someone suggests that the boy could be her boyfriend.

Heading towards the foot of the bridge on Zebstrika, Black recalls that the Driftveil Drawbridge is raised and lowered alternately every day to allow ships to pass through in the sea path below. The fact that the bridge has been left pulled up for several days makes him think that the person-in-charge is rather irresponsible, especially since he cannot even be found or contacted. He wonders what kind of person he is, and Elesa states that his name is Clay.

Upon hearing the name, Black finds it extremely familiar, and suddenly bolts in realization that it is the Driftveil Gymleader. He flips out his notes, and confirms his recollection that the man is an expert in ground types who uses a Krokorok, Palpitoed, and Excadrill. According to his research, the man's power ground-shaking attacks are only one of his strengths, since his main occupation lies in the mining industry, and he is even nicknamed the 'King of Mines'.

Black believes that Clay must be extremely busy, having to cater to his duties as a Gymleader, his mining business, as well as his job in controlling the Driftveil Bridge. However, he also rationalizes that the man has been juggling between these jobs for a long time, and should be skillful enough in his time management not to leave the bridge neglected. Wearing a frown, he wonders if Clay encountered something unexpected and got occupied

At that moment, Zebstrika makes it to the junction where the eastern half of the bridge is lifted and locked at a hinge, and Black proceeds to climb off the electric zebra. He thanks Elesa for the ride, and the Nimbasa Gymleader states that he can only wait now until Clay lowers the bridge. She puts on a smirk, and wonders if he will be alright on his own, since White has left for another town. Black feels slightly annoyed by her joking tone, and grunts that he is fully capable of being independent. Elesa then bids him goodbye as she needs to return to work, and wishes him good luck in his battle against Clay the grumpy old man.

After the Nimbasa Gymleader departs, Black trots around impatiently, and wonders when the bridge is going to be lowered. Suddenly, the hinge moves, and Black rejoices as he watches the bridge finally angling down from its vertical position. However, the metallic plank is lowered ever so slowly, and Black decides that he cannot wait anymore. The fact that the drawbridge is moving indicates that Clay has received Elesa's message, and that means Clay is just on the other end of the bridge where the control room is.

Black hollers that he should make his Gym challenge to Clay as soon as he crosses the bridge, and starts running up the sloping bridge with Nite, Tula and Musha, shouting that it is also part of their training.

Black: ROAAARRR!!! I WILL CONQUER THE POKEMON LEAGUEEEEE!!! SURELY SURELY SURELY SURELY CONQUER ITTTT!!!

As he nears the edge, Black spots a young boy sitting on one of the pole ledges ahead, and gasps at his dangerous position. He calls out to the boy to ask where he came from, but the boy simply puts on a smirk, which makes Nite bolt in recognition. At that moment, without warning, the bridge all of a sudden halts, and starts going back up again. Black and his Pokemon are instantly thrown off their feet, and while Musha stays afloat, Black, Nite and Tula widen their eyes in horror and begin to tumble backwards.

Black lets out a cry of terror as he tries to grasp onto the floor, but just as he manages to cease his fall, the bridge is angled down once more. In the next minute, the drawbridge keeps seesawing up and down, and while Tula is also able to steady itself with the help of its silk threads, Black and Nite are sent rolling back and forth. Soon, Black starts to get dizzy, and wonders what exactly Clay is doing. Just then, everything comes to a halt, and Black ends up on the very top edge of the bridge's eastern body, which is the junction that is supposed to connect with the western half.

Black gazes over to the other side, which is only a few meters away now, and believes that he should be able to cross with Tula's help. He commands the electric spider to spit out a thick bundle of thread, and creates a cable-like link between the two bridge ends. Pulling on a pair of insulator gloves to protect himself from the electric charges on Tula's silk, Black suspends himself on the cable thread, and slowly makes his way across.

Suddenly, something jumps from the eastern half of the bridge to the western half, and uses the top of Black's head as a stepping block. The impact nearly throws the boy off his balance, and he looks over to see an Axew who appears slightly strange to him. The Axew wears a smirk on its face, and without warning, swings its left side-tooth towards Tula's thread bundle, snapping it off from the western bridge.

Black is immediately swung down and backwards, and he cries out in bewilderment as he is dangled below the eastern bridge age like a pendulum, hanging on to what is left of Tula's cable thread. As if things couldn't get worse, the drawbridge resumes getting lowered in that instant, and Black bolts in terror as he watches the two edges slowly close in on him, which will no doubt crush him into a human paste. Horrified, Nite and Tula use all their might to help pull Black up, and fortunately, manage to yank out of the crevice before it slams shut with a loud metallic clank.

Black and his Pokemon all breathe out a sigh of relief, and are grateful that they can finally get to Driftveil City now that the drawbridge has been fully lowered. At that moment, Black sees a silhouette approaching from a distance, which gradually reveals itself to be Clay. Black finds it hard to believe that the Driftveil Gymleader would toy with the bridge's control so dangerously like he just did, but before he could say anything to the man, the bridge starts to come apart at the central junction again.

This sends Black off his edge, and completely infuriates him. He hollers that Gymleader or not, there is no acceptable reason for Clay to mess with the drawbridge this way, and takes a leap with Nite and Tula to land securely on the western side of the bridge. He calls Clay a rubbish Gymleader, and orders his Pokemon to charge forward. However, to his shock, the man holds up his hands with a grin, and smacks away Nite and Tula. He then slaps Musha right in the face, and sends it crashing onto the floor.

Black widens his eyes in astonishment at the man's strength, and starts to query whether he is really the Gymleader. He gets Musha to chomp on his head, and starts scanning the area with his hexagonal vision. As things gradually blank out, the faces of the young boy, the Axew, and the Clay standing in front of him are overlaid with one another in his mind. Black can see that they all have a similar smirks, and even the same red-shaded eyelids. Gradually, everything darkens to form the outline of a four-legged creature, and Black realizes what it really is.

Pulling Musha off him, Black orders Nite forward, and the Pignite eventually manages to deliver a blow to the fake Driftveil Gymleader's back after chasing him around for a few circles. Black flips out his Pokedex as the man slowly morphs into a dark purple fox, and reads that it is Zorua, the tricky fox Pokemon whose Illusion ability allows it to take the form of different people and Pokemon to deceive others.

Holding a grudge towards the Pokemon since their encounter at Castelia's Game Freak Building, Nite tackles Zorua to knock it off its feet. However, as the little fox falls back down, it suddenly stirs up a puff of smoke, and morphs into Tornadus. Nite flinches at the sight of the legendary Pokemon, and Black reminds it that it is just an illusion. Tula attempts an ambush from behind, but Zorua changes itself into Cobalion this time, and causes the electric spider to jump back in astonishment.

Black is frustrated that even Tula falls to Zorua's tricks, and the little fox giggles uncontrollably as it morphs back to its true form. Black doesn't blame his Pokemon, however, because he knows that illusion or not, it is still intimidating when a powerful legendary Pokemon makes an appearance all of a sudden.

Zorua then throws itself against Black, tumbling onto the ground with him, and when Black sits back up, he is shocked to see a clone of himself right next to him. Nite and Tula both bolt in shock at the sight, and the two Blacks start to wrestle each other down, fingering at each other to call them fake. Unfortunately, all of their actions are completely synchronized, and neither Nite nor Tula could tell which their real trainer is.

Black grits his teeth in frustration, but then realizes that he can always count on Musha. Disregarding how Zorua imitates his actions, Black gestures to Musha, and tells it to attack the fake one. The pink blob immediately charges forward, and without hesitation, slams into the Black on the right. The left one, who is the real Black, feels relieved, and tells Zorua that no matter how great its skill of illusion is, he can only mimic his physical appearance, but could not mirror the same dreams he has in his head, which is what Musha reacts to.

Zorua morphs back into its original state and prepares to flee, and Black attempts to give chase. However, a voice suddenly comes on to tell Black not to bother about pursuing it, as it is better that the critter leaves the area. Black turns round, and sees that it is Clay the Driftveil Gymleader. He wonders if this is the real one this time, and the man challenges him to get a Zorua to talk.

Clay remarks that normally, there is a fixed time on the lifting an lowering of the Driftveil Drawbridge, which matches the schedule of the ships. However, a few days ago, there were rumors that Team Plasma was trying to stir up trouble, and he has therefore kept the bridge lifted to prevent them from invading Driftveil City. Earlier that day, Zorua has broken into the control and messed up with the system. That is why he had to spend time fixing it and could not clear its access right away after getting Elesa's message.

Black finally understands what is going on, but soon notices that the man appears to be crossed at something. Clay states that while he was doing all he could, rushing and struggling to get the drawbridge fixed, he overheard some rude remarks, something about him being a rubbish Gymleader.

Black immediately sweatdrops, and butters up by saying that he was just referring to Zorua. Unfortunately, the 'King of Mines' clearly will not accept that as an explanation, and after calmly pointing out that a man should be responsible for what he says, breaks into a fury.

And so, Musha, Nite and Tula stand at distance with sweatdrops on their heads, and watch as their apologetic trainer is chased around by the Driftveil Gymleader's Krokorok, Palpitoad and Excadrill on the drawbridge…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us



489: VS Palpitoad


Volume 47