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Amidst an ancient ruin where the ground is laid with worn-out stone tiles, a teenage boy in red and black holds a billiard cue over his shoulders and stands close to his team of trusted Pokemon. He takes a wary step forward, and pulls out the version VI Pokedex from his bagpack to his aid. As a sweat trickles down his face, he feels frustrated at the current situation, and wonders how things have come to this.

Before him stands a giant four-legged white creature with a splendid golden ring around its waist. Its proud and malicious eyes stare down at him, and its body exudes an overwhelming royalty, threatening to distort even the air and space around it. The boy addresses the being as Arceus, and proceeds to ask his partner, a Typhlosion, to unleash the attack Blast Burn.

The flames on the volcano Pokemon's back instantly erupt into a blinding blaze, and envelop the God-like quadruped's upper torso entirely. The boy pulls down the goggles from his cap to shield his eyes from the blinding fire, and formally introduces himself to Arceus as Gold from New Bark Town. He remarks that he has originally come to help the deity, and really doesn't understand why he has ended up fighting it instead.

Shaking itself clear of Typhlosion's flames, Arceus raises its head to let out a booming roar, and delivers a Hyper Voice attack which causes Gold's entire team: Explotaro the Typhlosion, Aitaro the Ambipom, Suntaro the Sunflora, Politaro the Politoed, Sutaro the Sudowoodo, and Togetaro the Togepi, to all tumble back and hold their ears in agony.

Gold puts on a disgruntled look, and urges his Pokemon to hold on, at least until the dude, Silver, comes to join them. Suddenly, Arceus rears its head backwards, and starts to glow with an intense light…

The time dates back to a few weeks earlier.

On Route 37, the skies are high and the mid-noon sun shines brightly on the rocky path. Gold rides on the back of his Typhlosion, Explotaro, and complains that the place is much farther than he expected. Next to him, the Goldenrod Gymleader, Whitney, keeps him company on her Miltank, and chooses to ignore the boy's endless groans.

Gold's stomach starts to gurgle, and he remembers that he has brought along some RageCandyBar, a renowned delicacy of the Johto region. He reaches into his bagpack to dig out a piece, and without warning hurls it into Whitney's mouth, stating that her face tells him that she is also hungry. He then stuffs another into his own mouth, while the Goldenrod Gymleader fights from suffocating on the RageCandyBar.

Gold remarks that Whitney seems to have trouble swallowing, and offers to help. He calls out his Politoed, Politaro, and gets it to wash down Whitney's RageCandyBar with a stream of water, which ends up leaving the girl and her Miltank completely drenched. The boy giggles that the force of the jet is already weaker than normal, and hopes that Whitney doesn't mind. Holding her head down, the Goldenrod Gymleader lets out a low grunt, and her face slowly turns red from anger. Finally, she explodes into a fury, and screams that the boy could very well have choked her to death. Gold laughs out loud at the accusation, and says it is simply his style of doing things, the style of a Pokedex Holder who hails from New Bark Town.

Whitney hollers that he should at least show some respect if not gratitude to a Gymleader who takes her time to be his guide, and hops onto Explotaro to kick Gold in the face. She keeps throwing punches and slaps at him as they travel on, and Gold soon sees their destination ahead, the Pokeathlon Dome, a huge auditorium which entrance bears a golden symbol depicting an arm extending out from a Pokeball.

As they get closer, a radio broadcast can be heard across the area which welcomes the visitors. The speaker, being the famous DJ Mary, remarks that the Pokeathlon are a series of competitions where trainers take part in sports events with their Pokemon, and the Pokeathlon Dome, which was opened 6 months ago, is specifically built to house these competitions. As of now, Pokeathletes may participate in 10 different events, and today, the Goldenrod Radio shall continue their live-broadcast of the competitions taking place at the Dome in a six-hour special.

Reaching the front door of the building, Gold decides to head in first, and jumps onto a skateboard which he pulls out from his bagpack. He retrieves Explotaro into its Pokeball without warning Whitney, and the Goldenrod Gymleader ends up crashing onto the floor. The boy then skids through the crowd into the Dome, and cuts in front of the queue instead of lining up. Whitney grits her teeth in anger as she struggles to get up, and hollers that he cannot disrupt the order at the place. With that, she sends out Smeargle from its Pokeball, who leaps forward to chase after Gold, and swipes a patch of paint across his face with its tail.

Blinded by the paint, Gold loses orientation on his skateboard, and smashes himself against a wall. Whitney walks up to drag him away by the back of his collar, and apologizes with Smeargle to other trainers whom the boy has startled. Gold takes a glance around the inside of the building, and wonders if that person has really come. He keeps turning his head left and right as he mumbles to himself, and Whitney soon gets annoyed, stating that they should get registered as soon as possible. Gold retorts that she has made a mess of his new clothes, and questions how he is going to compete in such a lousy state. Whitney replies with a smirk that he will need to swap outfits anyway, and starts yanking him towards the changing room. Gold demands to know what she is doing, but Whitney tells him not to be a fuss, and forces him to pick between the S and M sizes.

In no time, Gold finds himself in a blue track suit, and Whitney laughs that it seems to suit him well. She dons a pink version of the same track suit herself, and says they are now ready for the Pokeathlon. She briefly introduces the sport to Gold, and says there are a total of 10 events, namely Hurdle Dash which takes place at the Track Dome; Relay Run at the Dart Dome; Lamp Jump at the Jump Dome; Snow Throw at the Snow Dome; Pennant Capture and Disc Catch at the Sand Dome; as well as Ring Drop, Block Smash, Circle Push and Goal Roll at the Fight Dome.

Different from Pokemon battles, Pokemon compete in these sports events by showing their performance skills. That said, it is not only important to pick the right Pokemon for the right event, but the trainers themselves should also be able to work in cooperation with their Pokemon. Pulling up his sleeves, Gold gets his team ready, and heads into the Pokeathletes' corner to begin his Pokeathlon challenge while Whitney cheers for him.

A while later, at the Snow Dome, Gold's Explotaro, Politaro and Aitaro take part in the Snow Throw event, and engage in an intense snowball fight with the three other teams of contestants. Gold sees that the snowballs fired off by Aitaro are mostly of the small or regular size, and tells it not to settle for such weak weapons. He orders the little Aipom to build a giant snowball with its hand-like tail, and as soon as the globe reaches a desirable size, he gets it to swing it forward, which slams into the Drowzee, Abra and Mr. Mime on the opposite side, knocking all three of them down at the same time.

At that moment, the event time runs out, and Maximo concludes the round. Being the third and last event in the Skill Course, the Pokeathlon host calculates the points, and declares Gold's team the winner with a total score of 283. Gold rubs his nose with a proud grin at the announcement, and thanks the man as he presents to him the medal of the course.

The boy then returns to the reception area, where Whitney awaits and congratulates him for earning his first medal. She wants to know what Gold plans to challenge next, and the boy heads over to the computer to check on his options. At the Pokeathlon, there are altogether 5 different courses one can partake, namely the Jump, Stamina, Speed, Skill and Power. There are a total of 10 events, and depending on their nature, events will be randomly selected into groups of three, which constitutes one course. Gold ponders for a moment, and soon makes up his mind to go for the Jump Course next.

Meanwhile, deep in the open sea to the west, an unnerved and disgruntled Dragonite thrashes around in the waters, and appears to have its destination set on the shores of the Pokeathlon Dome.

Moments later, back at the Dome's entrance, visitors from all across the region are still lining up to watch this new sensation of Johto in person. DJ Mary introduces through her broadcast the six different sub-domes of the facility, the Track, Fight, Dart, Jump, Snow and Sand. She states that all Pokeathletes are now giving their best in their competitions, and hopes that the Goldenrod Radio's live show will allow even those who are not there with them to feel the same excitement and exhilaration through the air.

The renowned broadcaster turns her attention to the Sand Dome, which currently houses the Disc Catch event, and says participants must jump and catch circular saucers called Discs which are continuously thrown across the field. She decides to give her audience a more direct and close-up feel of the competition, and personally heads down to the arena with the Radio Director to continue their show. Walking over to the contestants, Mary plans to interview one of the trainers, but someone suddenly yells for her to look out, and a boy dashes right into her from behind, the bump causing her to spin around in dizziness.

The boy stops in his tracks as he recognizes Mary's face, and exclaims in excitement that he finally gets to meet his idol from the Goldenrod Radio again. Mary recovers from her daze to see that her intruder is no other than Gold, and instantly bolts into a guarding pose with the Radio Director, both remembering the boy as the troublemaker hailing from New Bark Town who causes nuisance wherever he appears. Clearly, Gold isn't too happy about the description, and says they should refer to him as the heroic trainer who saved Johto from its crisis instead.

DJ Mary sees that Gold is wearing the Pokeathlon's blue track suit, and realizes that he is also a participant. She wonders why he is running around on his own, and the boy shows her a transparent bottle resembling a wine-mixer, which is known as the Apriblender used for making Aprijuice. He explains that it is something new to him as well, but apparently, if one places Apricorns into the device and runs around carrying it, the blender will turn them into liquid form, which can raise the stats of a Pokemon. Gold sees that his Aprijuice is already ready, and grins that his running has paid off.

Mary gets the idea of how the Apriblender works, but wants to know where Gold's Pokemon are. She hopes he didn't just leave them to compete in the Disc Catch event alone, but Gold assures her that they all perform well on their own even without his commands. Gesturing to the sand-filled arena, Gold points out to Mary where his Sudowoodo, Sutaro, and Sunflora, Suntaro, are, and the young woman sees that indeed, the two Pokemon are playing the game of catch quite adeptly. She then remembers that each trainer should send in three Pokemon for every event, and wonders what his third member is.

Gold grins that being not easily spotted is exactly the selling point of his third Pokemon, and says on a field where a large number of contestants fight to catch a small number of flying objects, there will inevitably be bumps and crashes. Only those with a tiny body may move swiftly amongst its opponents, and that is what his Togetaro, is particularly skilled at. Yet, it doesn't mean that the little Togepi will be out-shown by others at times of direct conflict either. With its naughty nature, it refuses to give up easily, and will rudely knock out whoever stands in its path.

As Togetaro hops between the other contestants to clear a route for itself towards the flying saucer, an Elekid suddenly cuts into its course. Annoyed, the spike ball Pokemon throws itself against its intruder, and bumps it off to the side. It then uses the heads of a Skiploom and Psyduck as stepping blocks, and jumps high up into the air to catch the Disc. At the moment, Maximo, calls for a time's-up, and concludes the current round of the event.

Gold gathers Sutaro, Suntaro and Togetaro, and reads from his contestant guide that the next event will be Lamp Jump. Mary states that participants must take leaps to touch as many lamps as they could on the grid in this competition, and in no time, Gold's team begins their contest with the opponents they just faced off in Disc Catch. Once again, Sutaro and Suntaro put their skills and stamina into good use, while Togetaro utilizes both its size and sassiness to gain an advantage.

Watching the Pokemon compete, Mary could see that Gold really means it when he says Togepi is rude. However, on a closer look, she realizes that Togetaro's facial expressions are actually an exact copy of Gold's, and starts to giggle to herself, which causes Gold to raise an eyebrow. Soon, Lamp Jump's current round comes to an end, and Maximo, states that it is time to calculate the total score of the three events of the Jump Course. Leading by a huge margin, Gold's team gains a total of 150 points, and gets awarded a medal for the course, which the boy wastes no time in showing off and bloating about.

Later, back on the broadcast stage of the Goldenrod Radio, the Director takes a sip of his coffee and wants to know what Gold is doing now. DJ Mary states that the boy has quickly continued on with the Stamina Course, and is currently taking part in the Ring Drop competition, using his other three Pokemon this time around. The Radio Director finds it thoughtful that the Pokeathlon calls for teams of three in their events, which allows trainers to split their usual part of six into two equal teams to target different courses. Gold for instance, uses his Typhlosion, Politoed and Aipom for the course at hand, which allows his Sudowoodo, Sunflora and Togepi to rest from the previous events.

Just then, a roar of excitement is heard through the camera stationed at the Fight Dome, and Mary and the Director see from their monitor that Gold's team has once again obtained victory, emerging top in the Stamina Course. The six Pokemon gather close to their trainer as they jump up and down in joy, and Togetaro, who attempts to take a drink out of the Apriblender, ends up spilling the juice on its face, causing Gold and its fellow teammates to break out in laughter. Mary watches this harmonious trainer-Pokemon picture through the monitor screen, and finds it strange that they appear to share such a close bond. To be frank, from what she saw, Gold has left his Pokemon pretty much on their own in all the competitions so far, and really didn't give much input as a trainer. It seems as if the Pokemon like their trainer so much that they don't mind being neglected.

Getting himself ready to go on, Gold ponders for a moment, and declares that he shall challenge the Speed Course next. The Radio Director instantly mumbles something under his breath upon hearing the boy's words via the camera, and Mary wonders what is wrong. The Director says it is nothing, but fears that Gold may not be able to win as easily this time because he will be going up against the Pokeathlon's top Pokeathlete, named Jet, who is also taking part in the Speed Course. Commanding an Oddish, Voltorb and Dodrio, the guy has always obtained the highest score in every event of each course, and many say that his performance is close to impeccable.

Indeed, at the Track Dome, visitors are flooding in simply to watch Jet compete. Gold looks around at the fully packed audience stand, and feels utterly shocked by the amount of fans the guy has. Jet blows kisses to his supporters as he shows up at the arena, and shoots a grin at Gold, who returns the gesture with a squint. Knowing that Mary is watching, the boy is determined not to lose.

And so, the Stamina Course begins, which starts with Hurdle Dash, followed by Pennant Catch. In both events, Sutaro and Suntaro are marginally outclassed by Voltorb and Oddish, and Mary could see that although Gold's team is putting up a marvelous performance, Jet is just slightly better in every aspect, placing him ahead of everyone else in the current ranking. Maximo announces that the third and last event of the Speed Course will be Relay Run, and explains that contestants need to complete as many number of laps as they can while evading the obstacles of various types and sizes along their way.

The muscular host gets each trainer to call out their first Pokemon, and Gold bestows the task upon Sutaro while Jet sends forward Voltorb, up against the Venonat and Gloom of the two remaining participants. As soon as the starting siren sounds, Jet immediately dashes forward with his Voltorb, and gains a considerable distance from its fellow competitors. DJ Mary gasps that Jet is moving really fast, and remembers that in Relay Run, the trainer's agility is equally important, as they need to run alongside their Pokemon, and switch between team members before they become too fatigued and run out of stamina.

That said, if the trainer has poor exercise tolerance, he or she simply will not be able to look out for both themselves and their Pokemon. As a matter of fact, the two trainers who command the Venonat and Gloom are having a hard time monitoring the status of their Pokemon, which both faint before they could attempt a switch, causing them significant delay in their run as a result.

DJ Mary looks around the arena to see how Gold is holding up, and bolts in bewilderment when she finally spots the boy rowing himself with a billiard cue on his skateboard. The Radio Director sweatdrops Gold is actually moving backwards, and wonders what he has in mind. On the tracks, Sutaro starts to show signs of fatigue, and Mary exclaims that it is about to faint. Fortunately, Gold switches it out just in time, and gets Suntaro to continue on with the race. Right now, Gold has managed to put half a lap's distance between Jet and himself, but a considerable amount of time remains before the event is over, and Mary knows that anything could still happen to turn the situation around during this period.

Soon, Suntaro starts to run low in stamina, and Gold swaps in Togetaro. Mary believes that Gold intentionally saved Togepi as his trump card since the Pokemon possesses remarkable speed, but likewise, Jet's third Pokemon is also his quickest one, a Dodrio. Not long after Jet switches Oddish out for Dodrio, the three-head bird regains the distance that Gold has created, and is running right behind Togetaro. In the next instant, it slams right into the spike ball Pokemon, and sends it tumbling sideways with its little face crashing against the ground.

Mary and the Director gasp in shock, and watch as Togetaro struggles to climb back on its feet and resume the race. However, with sand in its eyes, it could hardly tell its way, and keeps smashing against the obstacles.

Jet shoots a smirk at Gold as he overtakes him, but the boy is hardly fazed. With a calm tone, he tells Togetaro to stop moving in such a hesitant manner, and orders it to simply run with all its might. Togetaro puts on a grin as soon as it hears the command, and forgets all caution to dart forward. Mary exclaims that it is extremely dangerous to run so fast in a blinded state, and is about to scream as Togetaro heads straight for a giant boulder in front.

At that moment, Gold commands it to move to the right, and Togetaro narrowly evades the obstacle. The boy then follows with a series of directions, guiding Togetaro when to turn and where to jump, and Mary watches in astonishment as the little Togepi swiftly advances forward, almost as if its vision is back. She wonders how Gold knows the course of the track so well, and suddenly realizes that he must have memorized it by heart when he moved through the path on his skateboard in the previous laps.

Under Gold's guidance, Togetaro soon catches up with Dodrio, and in the last second before time runs out, overtakes it to complete yet another lap. Maximo states that Gold's team has run a total of 10 laps, earning 119 points, which together with those in the two former events, adds up to a total score of 386, making him the winner in the Speed Course. Jet compliments Gold for his wonderful performance, and Gold shakes the man's hand to show his gratitude.

After obtaining his fourth medal, Gold returns to the backstage, and is greeted by DJ Mary who has come to congratulate him. She remarks that Gold and Togepi must know and trust each other a lot to pull off such a stunt, and Gold grins that she is absolutely right. He reveals that they have been together since Togetaro was still an egg, and it was in his hands that it eventually hatched.

Mary watches as Gold wets his handkerchief to clean the little Togepi's eyes, and now realizes it is no surprise that the boy's Pokemon share such a close bond with him. Despite his seemingly negligent behavior, deep inside, he truly cares for his Pokemon…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us



442: VS Oddish


Volume 41