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Calling for the virtue of knowledge, the Battle Factory is a place where rental Pokémon are used, and challengers have to gradually build up a strong and balanced team by trading one party member with the defeated opponent's after each match. With a determination to conquer the whole Battle Frontier, Emerald is currently challenging the Battle Factory, and has been making rapid progress so far.

In his first battle of the third cycle, which is also the fifteenth match, the boy defeats a virtual old lady expert, and trades his Togetic for her Chinchou. He then beats a tuber girl to exchange his Delcatty with her Farfetch'd, and in the following battle overpowers a male triathlete after which he ditches the Farfetch'd again for a Slaking. After gaining 17 consecutive wins, his teams now consists of a Slaking, an Ivysaur, and a Chinchou.

All this time, Todd stands close to the stage near Noland's suspended platform, and is completely in awe at Emerald's skillful command of the rental Pokémon. He knows that, however, the boy will need to defeat a further 24 virtual trainers before he can face the Factory Head Noland, and worries if the long series of battles will eventually wear him out.

The other reporters in the room, on the other hand, have mostly lost interest in the happenings on the stage, as each match takes approximately 15 minutes, and everyone has been watching the same thing for more than four and a half hours already. While some are killing time with their handheld game devices or cell phones, most are snoring out loud or are on the verge of dozing off.

Back on the stage, Emerald is having his eighteenth battle, and his opponent's last Pokémon, Hitmonlee, sends his Slaking crashing backwards with a megakick. Emerald quickly orders the giant gorilla to restore its strength by a slack-off, and follows up by a powerful faint attack which instantly knocks out the Hitmonlee.

Beating yet another virtual trainer, Emerald trades off his Slaking for his opponent's Linoone, and Todd immediately gasps to himself that one must be out of his mind to let go of such a powerful Pokémon. Just then, Emerald stops Noland with a troubled look, and Todd is thankful that the boy has noticed his mistake. But to his dismay, Emerald is simply in need of taking a leak, and quickly excuses himself from the room.

Standing on the edge of a window, Emerald begins relieving his bladder into the trees and bushes below. Todd happens to have come to look for Emerald, and is freaked out when he catches the scene. He hollers that there are proper places for such acts, and hurriedly ushers the boy into the nearest restroom.

Later, while Emerald washes his magic hand extensors at the sink, Todd voices his worry that the consecutive battles are wearing Emerald out, causing him to make faulty decisions during trading. Emerald is slightly annoyed at the accusation, and demands to know what is wrong with his choice of team members. Todd states that he doesn't understand why Emerald would trade his powerful Slaking away for a Linoone, and says no sane trainer would make such a choice.

Emerald listens with a frustrated look on his face, and sighs at the reporter's failure to see beyond the surface. He explains that while the Slaking prevails in strength, and normal types generally have few weaknesses, the order and roles of Pokémon in a team are more important.

Flipping out his Pokedex with the hand extensor, he points out that the first Pokémon's main role is to be the sweeper, who should possess swiftness and an agile footwork to execute quick and continuous assaults within a short time. Examples are Sceptile, Pidgeot and Grumpig. The second Pokémon then takes up the role as the main battler, who should know a variety of attacks or special moves to combat the opponent. Prime candidates will be Muk, Gyarados or Marowak. Finally, the third Pokémon should be the lasting endurer, who has high defenses like Chansey, Azumarill and Relicanth, all of which are able to survive a long time in battles and slowly eat away their foe's HP.

Emerald remarks that since challengers are unable to switch around the orders of their team, he will have to match his party members' roles according to their position, and not solely cater for their strength. He then Pokés two fingers of his magic hands into Todd's nose, and grins that he and his rental Pokémon are doing just fine. Watching Emerald speed back onto the stage, Todd is once again amused by the boy's logic behind his seemingly erratic actions.

As the challenge resumes, Emerald continues to win with flying colours. In his thirty second match, he faints a Spheal with a Gardevoir, and knocks out a Snorunt with a Grovyle in the next, while his Linoone is still kicking butt in the thirty fourth battle fighting against an Aggron. Todd watches with amazement again, and sees that the Linoone does prove to be more useful than the Slaking.

Noland seems amused as well, and comments that the main attack used by Linoone is frustration, which is powered up due to the Pokémon's type and the fact that it has zero loyalty to its trainer. Its held item, the choice band, which powers up a single physical attack by restricting the Pokémon's other moves, further raises the damage done. Feeling impressed by what he sees so far, the Factory Head wonders if the boy is able to go all the way.

Just then, the man hears his name called, and turns around to see Tucker, Greta, Lucy and Brandon appearing on the balcony above, with Scott tagging along on his flying saucer. The five have apparently decided to drop by and witness Emerald's miserable defeat, and Tucker in particular is having trouble holding back his eagerness to see the boy trampled and squashed.

But before Brandon could finish voicing his prediction of Emerald not being able to survive for more than two cycles, they are all shocked when the stage screen shows that the boy has actually beaten 38 consecutive virtual trainers, and is in the fourth battle of his sixth cycle.

Tucker fumes with disbelief as he bites hard on Greta's head, and Scott hollers that the little twerp is only a few battles away from Noland. Noland grins that he is taken by surprise as well, and pulls out white cloth band to tie around his own eyes. He remarks that for the sake of fairness, he shall refrain from knowing what Pokémon Emerald will trade in these final four battles, but believes that he will have little trouble winning despite that. In fact, he thinks that the boy should pay more attention to time management, and Todd wonders what the man is talking about.

The reporter glances over to the stage again where Emerald's Linoone continues to engage in a heated struggle with the Aggron, and realizes that the recent few battles indeed seem to be taking longer and longer. More and more of the virtual trainers' Pokémon carry leftovers or possess self healing moves, and all these prolonged fights are clearly wearing the boy out.

After a while, Emerald has finally accomplished the 41 winning streak, and pants hard to catch his breath while getting ready to challenge the Head of the Battle Factory. Four metal planks unfold from Noland's platform to reveal a four-character idiom written over them, and Todd checks on his pocket dictionary to learn that it literally translates as 'casting out the heavens and earth', which signifies a sentiment to risk all one has got, and count on fate alone.

Emerald makes his final trade after his team gets healed, and Noland hops down from his platform and pulls off the cloth band around his eyes. The man states that he will be using rental Pokémon like all his challengers do, and dares Emerald to show him all the knowledge he possesses. The battle then quickly gets commenced, and Noland sends out a Mawile while Emerald has apparently kept Linoone as his first Pokémon.

Emerald decides to gain an upperhand right away by ordering Linoone forward, but Noland grins that it is not always a wise move. Narrowly dodging its foe's incoming attack, Mawile surprises everyone by pulling off a focus punch, and rams hard into the stream-line bodied Pokémon. Todd immediately gasps that the attack is highly risky since the user will flinch if hit while it is charging, and finally understands that the idiom 'casting out the heavens and earth' is in fact Noland's motto in battling.

Watching Linoone struggle to stand its ground, Noland comments that it is close to its limits, and orders Mawile to safeguard itself with iron defense just in case its opponent plans to unleash a barrage of frustrations again.

Emerald then decides to switch in his second Pokémon, Pinsir, and Noland grins that his Mawile is fortunately equipped with a wide variety of attacks. The Factory Head commands a flamethrower which is super effective against bug types, but to his shock, Mawile repeats an iron defense, and he quickly notices that the Lum Berry the steel Pokémon was holding has somehow been replaced by a choice band.

Emerald puts on a mischievous grin, and reveals that his Linoone has secretly exchanged held items with Mawile by trick right before it was recalled. He then has Pinsir raise its attack by swords dance, and follows up by a guillotine which faints Mawile in one hit. Noland seems a bit stunned by the setback, but quickly recovers, and remarks that he is actually amused by the perky yet confident look Emerald constantly wears. Emerald pulls on his cheeks to make a face in response, and Todd is upset that the boy is always fooling around.

Noland comments that the battle is getting interesting, and sends out his second Pokémon, a Golem. He quickly orders a rockslide from it, and the super effective attack knocks out Pinsir instantly. Emerald proceeds to send out Linoone again, and commands a dig, but Golem throws itself against its foe with a double edge and faints it before it could go underground.

Bringing down two of Emerald's Pokémon in a row, Noland states that Pinsir was obviously a powerful candidate that Emerald counted on, but despite its strength and good attacks, there will still be occasions when a strong Pokémon is knocked out before it could shine, and that is exactly the trickiest and at the same time most interesting aspect of Pokémon battles.

The man digs his hand into his pocket to pull out a golden badge with the letter K on it, and says it is the Knowledge Symbol which is rewarded to challengers who manage to beat him. He remarks that although Emerald's challenge is technically a demonstration battle for the press, he will still be entitled to the symbol should he wins.

Licking his lips with a confident grin, Emerald pays no heed to the disadvantageous position he's in, and sends out his third and last Pokémon to fight…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

306: VS Pinsir

Volume 26