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Todd and Sudowoodo let out terrified screams as Emerald fires off a barrage of bullets from his gun at them. The reporter cannot believe that Pokémon trainers would possess dangerous weapons as such, and clutches his chest in agony, expecting to drop dead any second.

However, to his surprise, he doesn't seem to feel any pain at all, and Emerald laughs that he has gotten him wrong, and his gun isn't real at all. The boy removes the lid on his gun to reveal a mini doll of himself inside, and Todd sees that the bullets are actually clumps of soil inside the container continuously being scooped up by the gadget's two arms.

Emerald tells Todd to look under his feet, and the reporter quickly notices a diamond-shaped pattern carved out by the gunshots on the grass beneath him, with a soft light glowing along the bullet tracks. Sudowoodo instantly calms down from the warm glow that surrounds them, and releases Todd onto the ground.

Todd is baffled by the sudden happenings and wants to know what Emerald did, but the boy says he was simply rendering help as requested. He remarks that the best way to pacify a rampaging Pokémon is to startle it, and it is exactly what he did with his fake gun, which he calls the E-shooter.

Emerald pats Sudowoodo on the head, and says if he guessed it right, Todd himself is to blame for upsetting it. He explains that Todd has obviously mistaken Sudowoodo as a tree when he watered it, but the Pokémon in fact isn't a grass type. He takes out a Pokedex to access Sudowoodo's page, and reveals that it is actually of rock type, and thus hates water. He grins that things are not always what they seem, just like himself, who shouldn't be underestimated because he is a kid.

Suddenly, he remembers that he still has to register for his challenge at the Battle Frontier, and hurries off after putting his platform shoes back on. Todd calls after him, and wants to know what to do with Sudowoodo. Without a second thought, Emerald tells him to release it and says wild Pokémon are meant to be free. Sudowoodo happily jumps back into the bushes as Todd watches Emerald speed away, and the reporter stays stunned for a moment as he gathers his thoughts on what has just happened.

A boy who doesn't like Pokémon but loves Pokémon battles; a boy who is able to calm a Pokémon and seems to have abundant knowledge about their characteristics; a boy who advocates the idea of Pokémon staying close to nature as wild beings and thus possesses no Pokémon on his own; Emerald does appear to be an interesting youngster in the eyes of Todd.

Bending down to check on the bullets fired off by Emerald, Todd sees that they appear to be ordinary soil, bounded together by pieces of what seems to be thread. He pulls on a thread, and is somewhat amused to see the soil bullet instantly crumbling into pieces. Clearly, the bullets are not for attacking, but for calming a Pokémon's emotions, in other words, stabling bullets.

Just then, he hears the faint sounds of a welcoming speech to reporters coming from the direction of the Battle Tower, and realizes with a start that the opening ceremony has begun. He quickly makes a run for it, and hopes that he hasn't missed too much.

Meanwhile, at the Battle Tower, Arena Tycoon Greta stands with a microphone in hand next to Scott in his flying saucer, and once again welcomes all their visitors for attending the Battle Frontier's opening ceremony. She states that they are about to start their demonstration battle, and introduces the representatives of the Frontier Brains, Pike Queen Lucy and her Seviper, and Palace Maven Spenser and his Crobat.

The two step gracefully onto the stage amid the thundering applause, and Greta explains that their opponents will be randomly chosen by the computer. The transfer belt of a high-tech machine on the opposite side of the stage shoots out two Pokéballs after spinning rapidly, and the computer screen above shows a level 87 Electrode and a level 85 Swalot as the two Pokémon pop out.

High up in the audience stand, Factory Head Noland is holding a laptop in his hand and doubts if Lucy and Spenser can pull it off. Sitting next to him, Pyramid King Brandon tosses his three Pokéballs around, and wonders what Noland is worrying about. Noland accesses the data of Seviper and Crobat on his laptop, and points out that they are both of the poison type. While their attacks can affect Electrode, they cannot count on inflicting a status condition on Swalot as it is also a poison Pokémon.

Just then, Salon Maiden Anabel and her Raikou enter the room to join them, and the young woman tells Noland to have faith as Spenser's spirit and Lucy's luck will get them through. Noland decides to sit back and watch since Anabel says so, and Brandon remarks that they still haven't seen Tucker.

Down at the stage, Greta comments that everyone has waited long enough, and commences the battle. Lucy and Spenser charge forward with their Pokémon, and after agreeing with each other to end the combat quick, simultaneously order an attack on Electrode.

Seviper's poisontail and Crobat's poisonfang instantly eat away a large portion of the electric Pokémon's HP, and leave it badly poisoned. Up in the audience stand, Brandon grins that the poison status inflicted by poisonfang causes exponential damage over time, and says the Electrode is as good as being down.

Just as Seviper and Crobat are about to finish off Electrode, Swalot throws itself in front of its partner, and puts Seviper to sleep with a yawn. It then charges up an energy sphere inside its mouth, and unleashes a hyperbeam which crashes directly onto the slumbering snake. Greta comments on the power of the attack, and wonders if Seviper is knocked out. However, as the smoke clears, Lucy smirks that luck is a very important component in Pokémon battles, and everyone is surprised to see that what Swalot hit was just the shed skin of Seviper.

Lucy feels sorry for Swalot, and says her Pokémon possesses the shed skin ability, which by chance enables it to recover from status conditions earlier than usual. Swalot begins looking around frantically for the real Seviper, and suddenly notices the ground cracking beneath it. Before it can react, Seviper thrusts its tail out to deliver a super effective dig attack, fainting its foe by one single strike. The audience roars with excitement as Greta declares Lucy and Spenser the winners, and Lucy asks Spenser if it was too cruel of her. But Spenser compliments her, and says holding back one's strength due to sympathy contradicts the essence of the spirit.

Down in an underground corridor of the Battle Tower, Emerald finds himself lost while searching for the reception. He tries looking around for signs, and soon sees a purpled hair guy flying by on a Salamence. He tries to get himself noticed, but the man is too consumed in touching up his looks with a mirror, and Emerald decides to climb onto the dragon instead. His sudden appearance freaks the guy out, who is actually Dome Ace Tucker, and the boy wastes no time in requesting to be taken to where registration is made. Tucker hollers the corridor is staff only and demands him to get off, but Emerald refuses and the two soon get into a fight.

Back at the stage where the opening ceremony is taking place, Scott introduces himself to the press as the owner of the Battle Frontier, and hopes everyone has enjoyed the demonstration battle. He explains that the frontier is a dream come true for all Pokémon battlers as they have assembled 7 different facilities, each employing a distinct battling style that can must be conquered by different strengths and talents, namely the Battle Factory which calls for knowledge, the Battle Pike which counts on luck, the Battle Pyramid which requires bravery, the Battle Tower which demands ability, the Battle Arena which involves guts, the Battle Palace which emphasizes on spirit, as well as the Battle Dome which depends on tactics.

Scott remarks that a Frontier Brain awaits to be challenged in each one of the facilities, and the stage doors instantly slide open to bring the Brains and their Pokémon into the spotlight. Scott is about to have each of them introduce themselves when he realizes that Tucker is missing. He quietly learns from Spenser that no one has seen the man yet, and immediately fumes with rage.

Just then, the platform door on the stage opens up again, and Scott soon sees Tucker's Salamence emerging from it. Thankful that his Dome Ace has made it afterall, he bends down to hasten him. However, he quickly bumps head to head with someone, and discovers with surprise that it isn't Tucker but a boy with crescent-shaped hair who is riding on Salamence instead.

Scott demands to know who he is, and the boy immediately shoots out little trumpets and cheering slogans from his long sleeves. With a wide grin on his face, he introduces himself as the Pokémon battle lover, Emerald, and declares his determination to conquer the Battle Frontier. He wants to know if Scott is the receptionist, and the man furiously barks that he is the owner of the place, and that they are in the middle of the opening ceremony.

Down in the corridors below, a tied up Tucker wiggles frantically to free himself while his cries for help get muffled by the hankerchief over his mouth…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

304: VS Swalot

Volume 26