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Sapphire has arrived in Rustboro City for her first gym challenge. As determined as she may be to fulfill her promise to Mr. Stone, the girl equally understands that her Pokémons have to train up their skills in order to defend themselves against unexpected enemies like the pirate trio last time. She realizes both Chaka and Ronono are still far too weak in terms of strength, and thus decides to give them the chance to gain experience, and at the same time kicks off her quest with a head-start in the Rustboro Gym.

Standing in front of the gym entrance, the girl puts on a confident grin and swings open the giant doors. She's about to declare a challenge when she discovers that she has entered a lecture theatre instead of a battle arena that she has expected. All of a sudden, nerdy looking people start flooding into the theatre and flipping out textbooks to study. A surprised Sapphire immediately runs outside to double check that she didn't come to the wrong place, and begins to wonder if the gym has in fact been abandoned and that no gymleader is actually around to manage it. Just then, a small door next to the lecturer's stand opens, and a girl steps in to introduce herself as the Rustboro gymleader.

At the Rustboro Hospital, after checking Mr. Stone into his room, Gabby and Ty are sitting on the benches outside and discussing the fountain incident. To Ty's shock, Gabby suggests changing the title of the report to 'Corporation President Attacked By Wild Pokémons' instead of disclosing the fact that a secret evil organization was behind the whole thing. The reporter lady explains that there might be more to what it appears, and that in terms of journalism, they should not seek fame from reporting things that could potentially bring up disastrous consequences. She adds that there are reasons for Mr. Stone to ask for Sapphire's help in notifying the guy named Steven instead of dispatching a messenger from his own corporation. Ty sulks over the fact that all the exclusive clips he videotaped wouldn't make it to the news, but Gabby gives him a friendly smack and says as journalists, they have the responsibility to find out the truth as well. She reminds him of the A-shaped symbol on the headbands of the pirates, and suggests starting to look from there. Ty logs onto a seach engine on his computer labtop, and begins searching for symbols of known criminal organizations. The two waits nervously and after a while, the A-shaped symbol comes up on the screen, under which writes the name 'Team Aqua'.

Back at the Rustboro Gym, the girl steps onto the lecturer's stand and introduces herself as Roxanne, the gymleader as well as the top scholar in the city's trainer school. Much to Sapphire's shock, she pulls out a pile of test papers and starts delivering them to the people in the room. Sapphire cuts in to say that she's there for a gym challenge, but assistants of the gym immediately pulls her down to a seat, and Roxanne states that paper test is part of the gym challenge. She explains that with the numerous challengers visiting the gym every day, she has deviced a selection criterion, in which only the top student in the weekly paper test will get to battle her. Sapphire recalls how much she hates school tests, but then decides she couldn't give up just because there is a bump in the road. Roxanne commences the test and Sapphire begins to read the questions, only to discover that most of the words she has trouble reading. Roxanne giggles at the girl's frustration and says inquiries about wordings in the questions are allowed. Sapphire immediately raises her hand to get help from a gym assistant, which draws a roomful of annoyed looks and shushes as she keeps on asking questions.

After what seems like an eternity, the test is finally over and Sapphire collapses weakly on the desk after her intense battle with words. Roxanne tells the room to wait patiently while the papers get marked, and a while later, an assistant rushes in with a paper in his hand and mumbles something in the gymleader's ear. Roxanne looks at the paper in disbelief, and announces that one student got full marks in the test. She slowly reads out the name 'Sapphire Birch' from the poor hand writings, and realizes with a start that the barbarian girl who looks uneducated is the daughter of the famous Professor Birch. Sapphire puts on an embarrassed smile, and says her father has taught her everything about Pokémons except how to express them in words.

Realizing that the girl she's facing is gonig to be one tough opponent, Roxanne reluctantly grants Sapphire the permission to challenge her. She pushes on a button on the lecturer's stand, and the seats in the room begin to move to the sides and reveal a hidden battle arena in the centre. Roxanne tells Sapphire to take the challenger's plantform across the room and starts to state the rules. Each trainer can use up to two Pokémons, and he or she loses when either one of them faints. Sapphire decides to use Ronono, and Roxanne pulls out a Pokéball from a thick book to release her Nosepass. Ronono charges in with a metal claw but the compass Pokémon fends it off with a harden. Unable to decipher the opposing Pokémon's type, Sapphire attempts to switch in Chaka and try using other attacks, but to her shock, nothing happens when she tries to retrieve Ronono. Roxanne grins with mischief, and says withdrawing the little Aron will not be possible in the match.

Meanwhile, out on the sea Route 105, old Mr. Briney is enjoying a pleasant day of sailing when his Wingull, Peeko, all of a sudden flies down to him and flaps its wings frantically. Knowing that his little seagull has discovered something, the old sailor looks out to the sea and finds an unconscious boy drifting on a wooden plank. He immediately throws out his fishing net and pulls the boy up, hoping that it is not already too late...

Countdown to our heroes' rival showdown: 76 days!

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us




190: VS. Nosepass (Part 1)!


Volume 15


Sapphire starts her gym battle with Roxanne
Mr. Briney finds Ruby floating in the water