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At the Unova Pokemon League's stadium arena, Black's capsule raises yet another level as he becomes one of the finalists in the tournament. In the VIP spectator room just below the audience stand, Amanita peeks out of the window and marvels that Black has beaten Iris and earned his entrance into the final round. She looks over to the capsules of the Hoodman and Cheren, and knows that whoever wins the upcoming match will be Black's final opponent.

Across the room, Fennel looks up from her laptop and computer devices, and feels annoyed that Amanita is being distracted. She wants her sister to get back to work right away, and little girl quickly complies. Aurea Juniper enters the room to find Fennel's research materials scattered across the place, and wonders if it is appropriate for her to use VIP room like her own research lab. Fennel assures Aurea that she got permission from Drayden, and says she is very close to completing her study on 'Dreams', which is why she must keep working hard.

Aurea knows Fennel too well to argue with her, and Fennel wonders if it is alright that Aurea leaves her Science Lab unattended for so long. Aurea grins that there is nothing to worry about, and reveals that Bianca, who has become her assistant now, is keeping watch at the lab. She adds that her father, Cedric, is secretly watching out for Team Plasma's activities at the League, while White is currently helping Brycen collect information. Fennel feels a little concerned if White is fit for the task since she is only the president of a Pokemon talent agency, but Aurea has confidence in the girl, and reveals that she has gone through a lot, with her training on the Battle Subway as well as her encounter with the legendary Pokemon. She believes that the girl is a competent Pokedex Holder, and finds her nothing short of being dependable.

Meanwhile, in the corridors where the contestants enter and leave the stage, White waits around the corner patiently. In the tournament, participants are forbidden to speak to one another and must remain inside the capsules while they wait for their turn. However, this regulation no longer applies to those who have been beaten. Soon, she sees Marlon making his exit, and the athletic swimmer carries his fainted Jellicent on his back as he heads out. White decides that she must speak to Marlon since he has battled against the mysterious Hoodman, their number one suspect, and sends out her Alomomola, Nancy, and Stunfisk, Dorothy, to help her get acquainted with the guy.

Nancy throws itself against Marlon's Jellicent, and in a flash of light, restores the fainted Pokemon's health, much to Marlon's surprise. White shows herself, and voices out her relief that Marlon's Pokemon has been healed. Marlon realizes that the Alomomola belongs to White, and White explains that her Pokemon's special membrane has the ability to heal wounds. She goes on to say how she wanted to be of help to Marlon, but the man wears a knowing grin and tells her to cut out the pretense. He believes that there is something she wants from him, and White feels embarrassed that she gets busted so easily.

Marlon laughs that it is a no-brainer, especially when she uses such adorable and gleeful Pokemon to befriend him, but states that he doesn't really mind, since White doesn't appear to be a bad person. He shows his affection to Dorothy by planting a smooch on its face, and the Stunfisk sweatdrops at the man's passionate behavior.

White formerly introduces herself, and explains that she is collecting information on the Hoodman. She believes that since Marlon fought the man in person, he must have felt or sensed something, which is why she has come to approach him. Hiding in the air vent above, Looker and his Croagunk pry on the conversation between White and Marlon. The international police officer listens intently, and is surprised that someone else is investigating on suspicious contestants.

White's honesty pleases Marlon, and he appreciates her being forthcoming because he has trouble with sneaky people. He agrees to tell White what he knows, and the girl bows in gratitude to him. The swimmer scratches his head as he tries to remember if there is anything special about the Hoodman, and believes that the only remarkable thing is that the man probably did not enter the tournament by collecting 8 Badges. His revelation causes both White and Looker to bolt in shock, and Croagunk has to wrap its arms around Looker's mouth quickly to keep him from yelling.

Marlon explains that any water area, be it rivers or the sea, has its own unique scent, which is also carried by the Pokemon that reside there. Having spent so much time in water areas, he knows these scents well, and he could tell that White's Alomomola used to live in the waterfront of Route 4, and her Stunfisk in the puddles surrounding Icirrus City. White gasps that he is correct, and Marlon goes on to say that there is also a water area at the Badge Check Gates, where the Trio Badge is checked. Any contestant who obtained 8 Badges must have gone through this area, and while he has managed to detect its particular scent in every other participant, he could not smell it from the Hoodman. White realizes with a start that this means the Hoodman isn't really qualified to enter the tournament, and cries that they must inform the officials since he has cheated his way to the semi-finals.

However, Marlon stops her, and discourages such an act. On one hand, the Hoodman has proven himself to be a truly skilled trainer, and he sincerely accepts his defeat in their battle, which is why he holds no grudges as he plans his return to Humilau City. On the other hand, water scent isn't really something they can use as evidence, and if White is really concerned about suspicious people, he suggests she keep an eye on the other contestant named Cheren, whom he finds to be much more suspicious.

A while later, the Announcer commences the second semi-final match, and calls upon Cheren and the Hoodman, who send out a Boldore and Klink respectively. Black watches intently from his capsule, while White does the same from the top back row of the audience stand. She is soon joined by Cedric Juniper, who remarks that the winner of this match will fight against Black for championship. White believes that Black would probably want to battle his childhood friend, Cheren, and shares a grin with her Solosis, Unibo. However, her mind drifts back to her conversation with Marlon, and recalls how the man regarded Cheren as suspicious. From Marlon's own words, Cheren seem to be imprisoning his heart towards something, and White wonders what exactly that means.

Back on stage, Cheren retrieves Boldore, and sends out Snivy. Black gasps in recognition that it is the starter Pokemon Cheren began his journey with, and is surprised that it is still a Snivy. He remembers Cheren using it during their collaboration at the Cold Storage, and rationalizes that with subsequent training, it should have evolved into a Servine and a Serperior by now. Black wonders if this means Cheren has not been training Snivy, but couldn't understand why because the grass snake clearly exudes strong fighting will and ambition.

Just then, someone from the audience stands cheers eagerly for Cheren, and his loud voice catches both Black and White's attention. White recognizes the boy as Petash, the PokeManiac whom Cheren beat in the previous round, and wonders why he is cheering for his former opponent. She walks down from the back row to approach him, but just as she voices out her query, Petash blushes and stutters, and without warning, dashes up the stairs towards the back of the audience stand. Baffled, White catches up with him to ask what is wrong, and Petash apologizes for his behavior. He reveals that he doesn't really know how to speak to girls, and explains that he is cheering for Cheren simply because he wants the person who beat him to win the tournament.

On stage, Klink charges towards Snivy, and sends it tumbling backwards. The grass snake grits its teeth in frustration, and gets ready to attack again. However, Cheren mumbles that it could not manage after all, and Snivy's eyes widen in horror. In the next instant, Cheren withdraws it to send out Unfezant, but Black could see that Snivy is extremely unwilling since it is clawing for the ground as it gets retrieved into its Pokeball.

The Hoodman decides to go for a switch as well, and sends out his Beheeyem. The cerebral Pokemon uses Calm Mind to raise its stats before firing off an Energy Ball, but Unfezant easily evades. Cheren then motions Unfezant to fly upwards, and from the audience stand, Petash gasps that it must be using Sky Attack again, the move which knocked out his Deino. However, White believes otherwise, and indeed, the giant pheasant suddenly does a somersault in midair, and rams into Beheeyem from behind. Black exclaims that it is the move U-turn, and the super effective attack instantly faints Beheeyem.

The Announcer declares Cheren the winner, and states that he will be the one to battle Black for championship in the final round. Up on the Elite Four's balcony, Grimsley and Shauntal see that one of the two boys will soon be fighting them, and Marshal believes that it is time they retreat to their respective chambers and get ready to face their prospective challenger.

Down below, Petash feels overjoyed that Cheren has won, and rushes towards the edge of the stage to congratulate him. He grins that he has been cheering for him all this time, but to his dismay, Cheren ignores him and simply turns away. Seeing this, Black forces his capsule open, and angrily yells at Cheren to stop. He demands to know why he is showing such ill attitude towards people cheering for him, and the Announcer warns him that conversation between contestants is not allowed. However, Black pays no heed, and cries that he has many other things to ask Cheren, especially the reason why he withdrew Snivy in the middle of the battle despite its strong will to fight. He points out that the grass snake was clearly in agony when it was forced to leave the battlefield, and questions why Cheren has not raised it further into its evolutionary stages. Keeping a calm expression on his face, Cheren steals a look at Black from the corner of his eye, and states that it is none of his business.

Cheren's cold reply instantly infuriates Black, and he hops off from his capsule onto the stage, ready to confront his childhood friend. Cheren remarks that cheering has no meaning at all, and deems it foolish to think that it can make one stronger. He states that the same logic applies to Snivy, and says due to the fact that it did not live up to his expectations, he did not spend time raising it. When it was obviously too weak to face an opponent, he did the natural thing to withdraw it, which he sees nothing wrong with. Cheren's lack of emotions in reasoning frightens Black, and he wonders what has happened to him. Cheren replies that he is absolutely fine, and says he is simply focusing on something that he seeks, something which his previously repressed and altruistic self really wants, something called strength.

At that moment, Cheren's Boldore trembles and glows, and in a flash of light, evolves into a Gigalith. Black gets really ticked off by Cheren's words, and angrily sends out his Emboar, Boar, to attack. However, Gigalith raises its right foreleg and easily dodges the fire boar's punch. The Announcer urges the two finalists to stop, as their official match will not begin until 30 minutes later, but Black cries that he cannot wait, and hollers that his childhood companion has gone crazy. He yells that 30 minutes is way too long a wait, and he must beat some sense into Cheren now to make him regain his real self.

At the backstage, the Elite Four are making their way back to their chambers. Marshal asks Grimsley whom he thinks will end up being their challenger, but the dark type expert suddenly crouches down and places a hand on the floor. Marshal wonders what is wrong, and Grimsley says if this is a gamble, he will bet on the fact that neither Black nor Cheren will make it to the Elite 4. In fact, he believes that even the League will be blown off. Marshal gasps in shock and wants to know what made him said that, and Grimsley is surprised that Marshal couldn't hear the rumbling sound underground, something deep below which is currently rising to the surface.

Somewhere deep underground, Team Plasma's castle starts to ascend from its foundation, while Plasma Grunts line themselves in order and march out from the gigantic building…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us



517: VS Beheeyem


Volume 50