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As Ruby departs from Fortree, giant tidal waves begin to hit the southern cities of Hoenn and slowly consume the land. At the Team Aqua Hideout to the east of Lilycove, TA members are monitoring the rise in sea level resulting from the cessation of Mt. Chimney's volcanic activity. They report that 40% of Slateport has been submerged while 20% of Dewford and Littleroot are flooded, and Archie grins over the successful impact they've done on nature to increase the amount of oceans. Standing next to their hideout's indoor seaport with the Devon developed special engine starter in hand, he patiently awaits the arrival of Submarine Explorer 1.

Ripples soon appear on the calm water surface, and Archie knows that Team Magma has come. The submarine vessel slowly surfaces, and Maxie climbs out from the entrace on the top with Tabitha to greet him. Just then, Matts of the ThreeS Trio walks into the room weakly on Sean's support, and congratulates Archie for finally being able to set foot on the Seafloor Cavern. Archie coldly inquires if Matts is planning to go with them, and Matts replies that his body has probably recovered enough for the mission. But then Archie's Walrein delivers a body slam to knock Matts down, and Archie states that his failure on Mt. Chimney was enough evidence that he is a worthless TA member. He announces that Sean alone will be sufficient to help him command the small team he's bringing, and tells Matts to wait for his punishment after their return. Tabitha shares a glance with Maxie, and feels uneasy witnessing the brutality the TA leader shows towards his own members.

Led by Archie, a small team of TA members start to embark on the submarine, and Archie hands over the special engine starter to Maxie once everyone is in. A TM grunt fastens the device into its socket on the control panel, and proceeds to switch on the ultra-submarine mode. Metallic shields instantly shoot out from the sides to encase the whole of Submarine Explorer 1, and the vessel begins its descent towards the deepest part of Hoenn known to mankind.

Meanwhile, back in Slateport, Wallace gasps in horror as he sees more than half of the city being submerged in sea water. Knowing that there weren't even signs of flooding when he went off to research on Hoenn's humidity status the day before, he realizes the plummet in heat energy across the land due to Mt. Chimney's volcanic cessation has worsened much quicker than he expected. Just then, he hears a frantic scream from below, and sees a boy and a Seedot being washed away from a woman. He quickly calls out his Luvdisc, Elizabeth; Whiscash, Philippe; and Seaking, Charles, to save them, and the three water Pokémon hurriedly ferry them over to Wallace's air-car before they get carried away by the water current. Though aware that salvaging the citizens should be his top priority at the moment, Wallace also knows that it will be hard to track down Ruby once he leaves Slateport, and decides to scout for the boy first.

In the hyper rank contest hall, half of the building is flooded, and water continues to gush through the cracked walls. The announcer picks up his microphone and is about to commence the competition, but he slips on the floater he's standing on and falls into the water before he could start. The swimmerboy Jack hurriedly swims over on Staryu to grab the man, and curses at the absurdity in holding a contest at such critical times. The announcer argues that he has been in the hosting business for 15 years, from cycling races to surfing competitions and now contests, and that nothing has ever made him stop an event, especially when they're holding Slateport's memorial 1500th contest that day.

Jack hollers that it doesn't matter if the contest is memorial or not, because there aren't even any contestants or audience present. Jack himself would have left for safer grounds if he didn't spot Ruby in the city earlier which made him remember the precious Feebas the boy holds. He figured that Ruby must be in for the hyper rank contests, and thus decided to wait for him in the contest hall and convince him to take part in the Feebas breeding business he had in mind. However, looking at the empty room around him, he starts to wonder if he has been a fool as well to think that Ruby would continue his contest quest during such times.

Just then, the silhouette of a boy riding on a Swampert appears in the adjacent room, and Jack cries in disbelief that Ruby has actually come. Noticing the hyper rank toughness ribbon on the Swampert, as well as those of cuteness, smartness and coolness on the Delcatty, Castform and Mightyena who are following closely behind Ruby on floaters, the swimmerboy is surprised that Ruby has already conquered four out of five hyper rank contests. Without a word, Ruby makes his way over to the reception, and hands over his application for the beauty department to the lady behind the counter. The words of Sapphire telling him to stay out of her sight forever flash across his mind again, and he shakes his head hard to clear his thoughts.

The reception lady snaps him out of his trance, and requests to see the Pokémon sitting for the contest. Ruby is surprised that Mimi has wandered off, and impatiently calls out to it. The Feebas bobs itself out of the water near the hall entrance, and playfully makes it way to its trainer. With Sapphire's accusation still weighing on his mind, Ruby gets ticked off by Mimi's seemingly frivolous behaviour, and yells at it for not following him closely, stunning Mimi as well as his other Pokémon. Jack looks on baffled by Ruby's irritable attitude, and wonders what has taken over him.

After setting everything in place, the announcer commences the hyper rank beauty contest, and remarks that he himself and the reception lady will be the ones to cast votes that day as the judges are not present. He announces that it is time for primary stage of judging, and Ruby sits on his floater next to Mimi's water tank with an impatient look, thinking to himself that they should have simply rewarded him the ribbon as no other contestants are there to compete for it. Then, to his surprise, he hears that Mimi received zero votes for the judgment based on looks, and is surprised to learn that someone else has entered the contest as an intercurrent challenger. He quickly looks over to his right, but the stream of water gushing through the cracked wall between them blocks his view. Aggravated that someone is trying to steal the glory from him, Ruby puts on a furious look, and is determined to win.

The announcer starts the second stage of judging based on the appeal of attacks, and Ruby quickly has Mimi perform its usual waterpulse act. But the intercurrent challenger pulls off an impressive surf with his Pokémon, and ends up getting both votes again. Tremendously upset about the situation, Ruby casts his blames on Mimi, and scolds it for not doing a good job. He hollers that he should never have included it as a team member, and would be better off with a more contest friendly Pokémon instead in the first place. He pulls out the Water Pokémon Encyclopedia from his backpack and shows the picture of Milotic to Mimi, and yells that only elegant Pokémon like that deserve to help him conquer beauty contests. His cruel words stun Nana, Coco, Popo and Zuzu even, and he gets uneasy about the looks they give him.

Mimi, on the other hand, is deeply hurt by what Ruby has just said. As tears start to blur its vision, it hops out from its tank and dives into the water that's flooding the hall. Surprised by its behaviour, Ruby cries that they're still in the middle of a contest and tries to stop it, but he loses his balance on the floater and starts to tip over. A hand reaches out to steady him with a firm grip, and Ruby turns around in shock to see Wallace. The boy realizes that his teacher must have been the intercurrent challenger, and angrily yells that it was completely unfair and wicked of the man to chase after him all the way from Fortree just to topple over him in the contest with his overwhelming skills.

With a stern look on his face, Wallace picks Ruby up and forces his head into the water, demanding him to chill his rage and set his thoughts straight. The Sootopolis gymleader coldly remarks that he has no idea what happened to Ruby in Fortree, but the one thing he knows is that Ruby has been treating his Pokémon like trash. He tells the boy to think over the accusations he made to his Feebas during and before the contest, and after a moment of thought, Ruby realizes immediately just how cruel he has been. Hopping off the floater, he frantically searches in the water for Mimi while apologizing out loud to it.

Just then, the cracked walls gives in to the pressure from the water gushing in, and starts to crumble into pieces. Wallace hurriedly tells the announcer and the reception lady to take shelter in his air-car, while Ruby ignores the falling boulders and continues to scan the surrounding water. However, despite his desperate apologies, Mimi is far too hurt to listen, and swims away in tears amid the fast moving water currents…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us




232: VS. Whiscash!


Volume 19