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At the rooftop of the Battle Dome, Brandon, Lucy, Tucker, Greta and Noland gasp in horror and disbelief as Guile Hideout holds up Jirachi's Pokeball, and announces his triumphant capture of the wish Pokemon. Greta states with a helpless tone that they are too late, and watches in despair as Jirachi looks out from its Pokeball, unable to do anything.

The armoured man notices Noland's presence, and giggles that he doesn't remember seeing him in their showdown at the Artisans Cave the day before, clearly mocking the man for falling victim to his surprise attack earlier at the maintenance room of the Battle Factory. Noland grunts that it is payback time for the ambush as well as for stealing the rental Pokemon, but Guile laughs maniacally that Noland seems to have completely forgotten how weak and vulnerable he is.

Guile's scornful tone ticks off Noland, and the Factory Head grinds his fists in fury. Guile remarks that he should however thank Noland for lending him all the rental Pokemon, which made his work easier, and laughs even harder. Brandon finds himself unable to stand his companion being humiliated any further, and charges forward for a tackle, but the armoured man swings his metal sword, and easily sends the Pyramid King tumbling backwards.

Guile then notices the three Smeargles next to Noland, and finally realizes how the Brains managed to find him and Jirachi so promptly. He remarks that the Smeargles must have sketched Jirachi's wish the day before, and the Brains are using the unique light generated by the move to locate the phantom Pokemon. He compliments the Frontier Brains for their smartness, but says he already has Jirachi in his hands, and it is too late for them to do anything now. With that, he lifts himself into midair and calls out six Starmies, then have them deliver a combined Hydro Pump on the five Frontier Brains.

The powerful attack creates a giant indentation on the Dome's rooftop, and sends all the Brains sprawling across the area. The drama soon catches the attention of the press people who are exiting the Battle Dome, and everyone looks up in astonishment, wondering what is happening since neither the Brains nor the owner Scott informed them of such an event taking place.

Greta and Lucy bolt with shock when they see more press people and visitors gather outside the Battle Dome to watch, and know that they must do something before peril befalls them. Towering over the crowd from the sky, Guile states that there is no reason for him to work in secrecy anymore, and says by the time Jirachi fulfills his wish, the entire Battle Frontier will sink into the greatness of the sea.

The man then smirks that it is time to return the rental Pokemon, and opens up the front side of his chest armour. The Pokeballs stored inside quickly tumble down towards the entrance of the Battle Dome, and the Factory rental Pokemon in them instantly pop out to start rampaging among the press people and visitors.

Tucker, Lucy and Greta hurriedly climb on Salamence and rush down, hoping to seize control of the situation before anyone gets hurt, but Guile giggles maniacally that whatever they do is pointless, since they would all drown like seaweeds very soon anyway. The armoured man then starts to hover away with his Starmies as he takes a look at Jirachi in its Pokeball, and says they shall now head to the appropriate place for it to fulfill his wish, a place where they can be close to the sky where stars are, during the evening hours when the stars shine bright, a place at the Battle Frontier which is closest to the sky.

Noland overhears Guile's last statement, and suddenly remembers something important. Brandon puts on a disheartened look, and refuses to believe that there is really nothing else they can do but to watch their enemy snatchi Jirachi away. Noland quickly remarks that they still have a chance of winning, and asks if Brandon remembers what is written on the very last page of Prof. Oak's Jirachi report file.

Brandon wonders if he means the ancient article which led to their postulation of the 'third eye' theory, and Noland gives a nod. The Factory Head explains that Guile is currently heading towards the the closest spot to the sky at the Battle Frontier to make his wish, which will be the top floor of the Battle Tower. However, all along, the armoured man has never mentioned anything about the third eye, and it is very possible that he still does not know of it. Until he opens up the third eye of Jirachi, there will be no way his wish could be fulfilled.

Brandon beams with excitement at Noland's words, and suggests Noland inform Spenser and Anabel about it immediately, while he himself heads down to protect their visitors with the others. Noland promptly agrees, and the two men go separate ways to work on their own task.

Meanwhile, at the Battle Palace, Emerald and Spenser stand face to face at the center of the battle room. The telephone on the wall suddenly starts ringing, and Emerald wonders if Spenser is going to answer it, but the Palace Maven slowly shakes his head, and states that from the moment the door of the Palace closes, no one else can disturb them.

He remarks that the Palace works just like the other facilities, where 7 virtual trainer battles constitute one cycle, and he himself will be the last opponent of the sixth cycle, in other words 42nd trainer, granting a special symbol to the challenger who beats him. However, he thinks it will be unnecessary for Emerald to go through all those prerequisites, and grants him the privelege to challenge him right away.

Emerald wants to know what the rules are, and says he shall pick his team from Crystal to suit the battling style. But Spenser puts on a sarcastic tone, and says it is a ridiculous thing to say. Emerald demands to know what Spenser means, and the old man explains that the Battle Palace is a facility which counts on spirit, where the challenger selects his or her three most trusted Pokemon to fight.

Emerald gets alarmed upon hearing the words spirit and trust, and Spenser adds that trainers are therefore not allowed to give commands during the whole combat, and simply watch from the side as their trusted Pokemon battle it out. Emerald recalls having heard of such a mode of battling before, but doesn't understand how the moves and timing are selected and controlled. Spenser grins that it all depends on the Pokemon itself of course, and reaches for his Pokeballs to send out his own most trusted three, Crobat, Lapras and Slaking.

The Palace Maven believes Emerald must have found Pokemon that he could always count on after his many challenges at the Battle Frontier, and the boy hesitates for a moment. He then uses his magic hand extensors to pull out the Pokeballs of Sceptile, Sudowoodo and Dusclops, and holds his gaze on them as the Pokemon look back at him with uncertain and expecting expressions.

Spenser shakes his head slightly and says he has actually watched Emerald's challenge in the Battle Dome from his monitor screen in the Palace. It seems to him that Emerald doesn't trust the three very much, and thus swapped in three other members for the last battle against Tucker, whom he eventually lost to.

Just then, the telephone rings again, and Spenser begins to get a little annoyed. He decides to pick it up anyway, and finds Noland calling with an urgent tone. After a moment, he hangs up the call, and Emerald wonders what is wrong. Spenser states that the armoured man Guile Hideout has shown himself again, and even captured Jirachi and is on his way towards the top floor of the Battle Tower.

Emerald bolts with horror at the news, and Spenser shows his understanding as he knows protecting Jirachi is also Emerald's mission at the Battle Frontier. The boy hops around nervously, knowing that Crystal will certainly kill him for that, and says he must head over to the Tower as well. He asks for permission to postpone their battle, but Spenser grins that it isn't necessary.

As he said before, combats at the Battle Palace depend on the Pokemon alone, and the only job of the trainer is to select which Pokemon to use. It is therefore possible for Emerald to carry on with the challenge and at the same time chase after Guile Hideout to snatch Jirachi back. The only question will be, whether he has the spirit to trust his Pokemon enough.

Emerald takes another look at Sceptile, Sudowoodo and Dusclops, and recalls all the things they have gone through together, from the time they first met each other, how Emerald calmed each of them with his soil gun, how the three protected him against the armoured man's attacks at the Artisans Cave, and how they eventually became his core team members for his recent challenges.

Shooting a mischievous look at Spenser, Emerald smirks that it almost seems as if Spenser is victimizing him with the rules. Knowing his personality, having trust in a Pokemon is something he has most difficulty with, and yet now not only must he select a team of trusted Pokemon, but he will have also to leave them behind and depend solely on them for the outcome of the battle, something which calls for a tremendously amount of trust.

Spenser states that it doesn't matter how Emerald views it, because things will inevitably happen when they are necessary, and it is sometimes pointless to figure out an explanation behind it.

After another moment of quiet thought, Emerald finally makes up his mind. Tossing out the Pokeballs in his hand, he calls forward Sceptile, Sudowoodo and Dusclops. He gathers the three around him and pats each of them with his magic hand extensor, saying that he is counting on them for his Palace challenge.

Right now, he must head over to the Battle Tower to get Jirachi back from Guile, but he hopes that the three of them will win the battle and obtain the Spirit Symbol, then come join him as soon as possible. Sceptile, Sudowoodo and Dusclops break into tears of joy after hearing Emerald's words, and the boy gives his final encouragement to them by stating loud and clear that they have his full trust.

With that, Emerald turns around and dashes towards the door of the Palace. Hiding behind a pillar on the second floor, Ruby and Sapphire overhear the conversation between Emerald and Spenser, and know that it is time for them to action.

As Emerald bolts through the heavy stone doors out of the Palace, he soon sees Ruby coming up from his left and Sapphire hopping down from his right. Without slowing his pace, he states that they must head to the Battle Tower immediately, and the three trainers put on determined looks as they make their way to the skyscraper on the northern shore of the Battle Frontier...

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

325: VS Starmie

Volume 28