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On Route 2, a patch of tall grass shakes, and a wild Audino pops out with a growl. Bianca, exhilarated by the encounter, fervently digs into her handbag and sieves through the mess that is inside. After much hassle, which Cheren and Snivy look on with sweatdrops on their forehead, the girl successfully finds the Pokeball she is looking for, and sends out Oshawott to battle. Unfortunately, the Audino is clearly too strong for Oshawott to handle, and with a punch, it sends the poor little sea otter flying into midair, before finishing it off with a kick as it lands on the ground a moment later.

Bianca squeals with horror, and retrieves Oshawott as she yammers about how unfair it is for her to lose again. Cheren, with a defeated look, ignores her protest and drags her along by the arm, stating that he understands how she feels but they really need to move along. The boy sighs that he has known since 10 years ago that Bianca has no sense of time, but right now, the Pokedex which Black holds is currently the only one that is working properly, and for the sake of Prof. Juniper, they truly ought to catch up with him as soon as possible to notify him of such an important fact.

Cheren remarks that they will never accomplish the task if Bianca keeps derailing and seeking out wild Pokemon to fight, and in that instant, Bianca beams with joy and tells Cheren to look up. Apparently, they two have finally come to the end of Route 2, and ahead lies Striaton, the city which houses Unova's first Gym. Bianca cheers that they have made it after all, and ushers Cheren to move quicker, as if forgetting that she was the one who has been causing all the delay. Being used to her ways, Cheren could only sweatdrop once again with Snivy.

Later, inside the city, Cheren and Bianca walk past a flower stall. Cheren approaches the shopkeeper, a young woman who owns a Deerling, and suddenly begins to yell.


Cheren wants to know if the young woman has seen a boy who acted like that, and the woman grins with a sweatdrop that she indeed has. She points towards a fancy three-storey building just around the corner, and says the boy went inside with a companion and his Pokemon. Cheren thanks her before heading over with Bianca, and they soon find that it is actually a restaurant. Peeping through the windows, they immediately spot Black at a table, sitting across a girl who has her hair tied up into a large ponytail, and next to them are two Tepigs, a female one with a bow, and another which is clearly the fire starter originated from Prof. Juniper.

Bianca instantly gets upset that Black is having a date while the two of them went through so much trouble chasing after him, but Cheren states that it doesn't really seem like a date to him. Indeed, the girl seems bored by what Black is saying, and picks up the female Tepig to leave, her gesture suggesting that she is wishing Black good luck before she makes her departure. The girl walks out of the restaurant, and Bianca cries that they must give chase and find out who she is. However, Cheren quickly stops her, and reminds her that their task there is to meet Black.

Cheren and Bianca enter the restaurant, the latter fuming with rage, and are greeted by a waitress, who offers them a menu, claiming that they would adjust it to suit each trainer. She is about to introduce the full course to them, but Cheren explains that they are actually there to see a friend, and Black spots both of them at that moment. The boy waves to them excitedly, and says it has been a while since they met. Yet, Bianca doesn't share his excitement of reunion, and demands to know the identity of the girl he was with.

Black is a bit taken aback by her anger, and explains that the girl is White, the president of an acting business agency that supplies Pokemon for movies and commercials. He states that a series of events has led him to become an employee of the agency, and another series of events made them end up travelling together. Bianca and Cheren hardly follow what Black is talking about, and Bianca hollers that he is not making sense. Cheren states that Black's words are confusing him as well, but Black doesn't understand what is so hard to comprehend.

On the other end of the room, three young men who are dressed as waiters, who are also the Gymleaders of Striaton, stand to watch the drama between Black, Cheren and Bianca. Cilan, the one with short spiky green hair, states that their male guest with the red cap has been causing a lot of fuss since he came in, and Chili, the one with fiery red hair, asks if he should kick him out. However, Cress, the one with flowing blue hair, says it would not be appropriate, as the boy has formally requested a full course after all.

Cilan believes that they should get things started in that case, and the three young men proceed to call forward their Pokemon, Pansage, a grass monkey; Panpour, a water monkey; and Pansear, a fire monkey. The trio walks over to Black's table to interrupt their altercation, and makes their welcoming speech, referring to Black by name and offering to make him some tea before his meal.

With that, Pansage tosses around three canisters of tea leaves, and Cilan elegantly makes his pick to sift them into a teapot that Panpour is holding. Panpour fills a kettle with water which Cress selects, and passes it to Pansear who heats it with the flame on its head under Chili's supervision. At the right temperature, Chili pours water from the kettle into the teapot, and Cress divides the tea into three ceramic cups that Panpour prepares.

Bianca and Cheren watch in amazement as the three young men and their Pokemon perform the tea art, Bianca exclaiming at their coolness and Cheren awed at their perfect cooperation. They rationalize that Cilan must be an expert in grass type, being able to pick the best tea leaves for a good blend; Cress a water type master, knowing how to select the best water to immerse the tea leaves; and Chili a fire type specialist, capable of using flames to bring out the essence within the tea leaves through temperature.

Cilan, Cress and Chili each serves a cup of tea to Bianca, Black and Cheren, and after a small sip, both Bianca and Cheren agree that it's the best tea that they've ever had. On the other hand, Black bolts up with a roar upon tasting the tea, his action startling his two companions, and states that he has been waiting for this cup of tea for so long. Cheren wonders what he is talking about, and Black explains that this tea is the signal to the commencement of his full course. In other words, it is a signal to the commencement of his Gym challenge.

The three young men grin at Black's words, and start drawing apart the curtains on the wall to reveal another backdrop which has a water symbol. On the floor in front of the backdrop are three circular patterns, bearing the symbols of grass, fire and water. Cheren realizes with start that the building is not simply a restaurant, and Black confirms his suspicion that they are currently inside the Striaton Gym.

Bianca stutters and wonders which of the three young men the Gymleader is, but Black points out that the question is slightly erroneous because not only one but all three of the guys standing before them are the Striaton Gymleaders. In fact, according to his extensive investigations, the three are triplets, and they are known as the triple trouble who all accept challenges, a trait that is distinctive of the Striaton Gym.

Cilan is impressed that Black did so much preparation work for his challenge, and believes that he must surely know of their appetizer before the battle. Cress states that the basis of Pokemon battles lies in type compatibility, which is a crucial factor, and Chili further elaborates that if one picks a Pokemon with type advantage against the opponent and uses an attack with type advantage, one can bring himself closer to victory. Gesturing to the backdrop, the Striaton brothers explain that Black must pick the circular pattern on the floor with the type advantage against the symbol on the curtain in order to advance in this Gym. The three young men grin that they shall wait in the innermost chamber, where they will serve the main dish, and wish Black good luck.

As Cilan, Cress and Chili retreat into their chamber, Black begins his challenge and says it is clear what type is advantageous against water, which is the current symbol on the curtain. He starts heading towards the circular pattern with the grass type mark, but Bianca suddenly butts in, and says fire surely has an advantage over water. To Black's horror, she jumps onto the fire-type circular pattern, which immediately activates a siren of error in the room.

Black gets furious, and demands to know what Bianca is doing. The girl doesn't understand why the answer is wrong as fire should be able to vaporize water, but Black hollers that it isn't the point. He states that he is the current challenger, and he will be disqualified if anyone else participates in any part of the Gym challenge. Bianca doesn't seem to get the message however, and after a brief thought, simply jumps to the water-type circular pattern to try her luck, which naturally activates the siren of error again.

Black completely loses his temper at this point, and Tep angrily yanks Bianca away by grabbing onto her bag, tossing her against the floor. Black screams that she has interfered enough and warns her to just stand aside and watch. His malicious tone agitates Bianca, and she dares him to do something. With that, she fiddles through her messy bag, throwing out heaps of items in the process, and digs out Oshawott's Pokeball to send it out to battle.

Tep and Oshawott immediately engage in a close-up combat, and Snivy, who gets annoyed by the two's drama, lets out a sigh and tackles them to knock them apart. This, of course, evolves into a cat-fight between the three Pokemon, which further aggravates Black. He yells that non-challengers are not supposed to send out Pokemon from Pokeballs, and Bianca starts to cry, feeling bullied by the boy.

In that instant, Cheren calls out to Black with a stern tone, and tells him that it is enough. He states that while it is true Bianca shouldn't have meddled with his Gym challenge, Black really owes an apology to both Bianca and himself. He reminds Black that the three of them agreed to meet their starter Pokemon at the same time, but Black ended up unwrapping the package on his own before they arrived. Black blushes with embarrassment at the accusation, and sheepishly says he was too heads over heels when he got the package.

Cheren isn't finished. He hopes Black hasn't forgotten about the little drama that happened in front of the Prof. Juniper's Research Lab, which not only wrecked the place but also drenched the two remaining Pokedexes in water, causing them to malfunction and are now under repair by Prof. Juniper. Bianca and himself have also looked forward to setting out on a journey with a Pokedex and a starter Pokemon, but thanks to Black, their journey was delayed and interrupted.

He accuses Black of being oblivious to everything and everyone, be it Prof. Juniper who gave him such an opportunity to travel, or Bianca and himself who are his childhood companions, and points out that the boy simply had eyes on his journey and rushed to it at the expense of others. Cheren says he understands well that Black has awaited 9 whole years to go on this journey, and he is truly happy for him that he finally got his wish, but he hopes that Black could also take time to pay heed and care about the people around him, something he clearly hasn't done.

Black is left speechless at Cheren's words, and realizes that he has indeed been too occupied about his own dreams that he has caused unnecessary trouble to others. He knows that he has no defense to Cheren's accusations, and drops his head in shame. Cheren states that Black's Pokedex is the only one that is working properly at this moment, and it is the one important message that Prof. Juniper wishes Bianca and himself to tell Black.

At that moment, Chili's face appears on a monitor screen, and informs Black regretfully that he has been disqualified because trainers other than the challenger have participated. Black instantly goes weak on his knees, and collapses backwards, hitting his head on the floor and causing Tep to bolt. Chili laughs at the scene, but says he and his brothers are incredibly generous, and thus they will not kick him out immediately. However, he points out that there is no question Black's little friend has close to zero knowledge about Pokemon types, and Bianca, knowing that he is referring to her, sulks in defeat with tears running down her face.

Chili says it is almost unacceptable that one couldn't grasp such basics, and thinks it will be a good idea if she learns through a joint challenge with the two boys. Cress starts to protest at what Chili is suggesting, but Chili silences him and says it will be alright. He turns back to the young trainers and explains that in usual cases, only one of them will fight the challenger who reaches the interior chamber. However, they are capable of taking three challengers at the same time as well. Black tries to digest what he is hearing, and Chili, proud of his idea, announces that they shall have a 3-on-3 battle.

With that, the monitor screen goes blank, and Black ponders silently for a moment. He then makes up his mind, and tells Bianca to watch closely what happens when Snivy and his Tep unleash their attacks on Oshawott. Motioning to Tep, Black orders an Ember, and the little Tepig sends out a shower of flames towards Oshawott, who fends them off as if nothing happened. Black then beckons towards Snivy, who attacks with Vine Whip and causes significant damage to the little sea otter.

Bianca squeals and quickly pulls out a potion to tend to Oshawott, and Black wonders if she gets the message. Grass is strong against water because grass uses water as a source of nutrients, and by absorbing its powers, it has a type advantage. Bianca nods in understanding, and Black says she has to put her knowledge to practical use. He points towards the curtain which has the water-type mark, and wants her to pick the correct answer. With little hesitation, Bianca jumps on the grass-type circular pattern this time, and the curtain slides open as a bell rings to signify her correctness.

The three young trainers proceed to the next room, and sees a fire-type mark on the next curtain. Snivy stands next to Tep and motions to Oshawott to attack, who unleashes a Water Gun at its two companions. While Tep falls to the ground in agony, Snivy appears unaffected, and Bianca, having seen the types interact in person, hops onto the water-type circular pattern to grant them access to the next room. Cheren feels grateful that Black is helping Bianca out with her deficit, and sees that by working as a team and testing their attacks in trial and error, the three starter Pokemon have also developed a bond and mutual understanding.

Facing the last and third curtain which has a grass-type symbol, Bianca states that she doesn't need a demo this time as she knows the correct answer already. She jumps onto the fire-type circular pattern, which opens up the curtain, and the three finally arrives at the interior chamber where the Striaton brothers are waiting.

Cilan, Cress and Chili welcome their challengers by formally introducing themselves, and wishes to know the names of the young trainers. Cheren, Black and Bianca state their own, and the Striaton Gymleaders, bring triplets who master grass, water and fire, proceed to commence their main dish, and 3-on-3 Pokemon battle…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

469: VS Audino

Volume 44