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At the Unova Pokemon League, the Tournament advances to its semifinal battles as four last trainers remain on stage after having beaten their respective opponents. Based on a single battle format, each trainer is allowed to use up to three Pokemon, but if any one of their Pokemon is knocked out, they will immediately lose the match. The computer generates a random match-up once more, and Black and Iris are the two chosen to battle next.

Black voices out his surprise that he will get to face Iris in the tournament, an Iris feels the same. Black states that he will not go easy on her however, and proceeds to send out his Braviary, Brav. Iris calls out Fraxure, and the room roars with excitement as the two Pokemon lash out at one another. Brav dives towards Fraxure with its wings spread, but Fraxure delivers an Iron Tail to smack the giant eagle on its face. Black tells Brav to gain distance since Fraxure excels in close-up combats, and Brav immediately takes off into the air. However, Iris knows that from a distance, a flying type will likely use moves like Air Slash and Whirlwind, and tells Fraxure to plant its feet hard onto the ground. Fraxure immediately digs its feet deep into the rocky floor, and Black realizes that Iris has read his mind.

Iris watches Black's facial expressions, and predicts from his character that he would most likely switch to close-up attacks again. Indeed, Black changes his strategy, and commands Brav to dive down once more. Just before it lands, it angles sharply along the horizontal plane, and unleashes a Brave Bird. Yet, Fraxure sees through its movements, and takes the hit directly while clutching tight to Brav's head with its claws.

The room explodes in astonishment, and the Announcer is bewildered that Iris seems to have anticipated Black's every single move accurately. Black grunts in frustration, and remarks that taking a hit directly doesn't seem to be the best way to defend. He believes that Iris must have something else up her sleeve, and his query is answered when Fraxure glows with an intensive light, and evolves into a Haxorus, further escalating the audience crowd's excitement.

Iris states that since the beginning of the tournament, Fraxure has faced a number of powerful foes and accumulated a large amount of experience from the battles. She knew Fraxure was on the verge of evolution, and thus made it take the direct hit, which would surely give it enough boost to trigger the process. Black realizes that he has really underestimated Iris, and quickly retrieves Brav.

The Announcer calls it a smart decision since any single Pokemon knocked out in this match equals defeat, and the recoil damage from Brave Bird has made Braviary extremely vulnerable, especially when its head was being held immobile by its opponent. Iris giggles that the tournament rule really makes things interesting, and switches out Haxorus for Druddigon. Black calls out Tula, his Galvantula, but finds the rule unreasonable instead of interesting.

At that moment, Black realizes that while Iris knows a lot about him, he doesn't really know much about Iris. He requests to know what Iris is really fighting for, and the girl fakes a blush, feeling flattered that Black is showing interest in her. Of course, she is simply teasing him, and reveals that the reason she could not lose in this League is because of her gramps. Black wonders if it is Drayden or Alder she is referring to, and while Druddigon and Tula continue to claw at each other, Iris slowly recalls her tale.

Years ago, back in her hometown, Blackthorn the dragon valley, Iris was still a little girl who trained hard every day to become an expert in dragon types. At the Dragon Den, together with her Dragonair, she fought wild Dragonites and Gyaradoses day and night to sharpen her skills. Yet, despite being already quite remarkable for her age, her potential was clearly not fully tapped into.

One day, the valley's Elder came to her. Mumbling in words which only his assistant could understand and translate, the Elder informed Iris that he has finally found her a suitable tutor. Iris became defensive right away, and hollered that such a person did not exist. The Elder explained through his assistant that the person came from a faraway land, and at that moment, Drayden appeared. Iris felt slightly intimidated when the tall white-bearded man towered over her, and after crouching down to take a good look, the man complimented on her determined glittering eyes. However, he believed that she could learn some manners.

Drayden's words irritated Iris, and the girl immediately demanded him to leave, yammering that she didn't know or care who he was. She called out her Lapras in an attempt to drive him away, but Drayden felt bemused, and took out a Pokeball from a box that his secretary, Secretta, was carrying. He sent out his Druddigon, and in just a few turns, defeated Iris's Lapras.

Panting to catch her breath while leaning against her fallen Lapras, Iris remained pensive when Secretta walked up to her and introduced themselves. The young woman explained that Drayden was a dragon type expert, and also the Gymleader of Opelucid City in the Unova region. The Elder got the impression that Drayden liked Iris a lot, and hoped that he would take good care of her. Secretta assured him, and remarked that Drayden himself was looking for a successor of the Opelucid Gymleader title. Seeing how she was excluded in deciding what her life would become, Iris got furious once more. She yelled that her goal was not to be a simple Gymleader, which she could very well manage on her own without needing tutoring, but it was the Champion that she aspired to become.

At that time, Iris didn't really mean what she said, and was simply saying things to make Drayden go away. Any other adult would probably deem Iris's words as nonsense, but not Drayden. After taking her to Unova, he brought her right away to a mountainous area. When Iris questioned where he was leading her, Drayden stated that since she wished to become the Champion, he would take her to meet one.

Upon reaching the mountain top, Iris saw Alder, a burly man with fiery red hair, who was wrestling with his Bouffalant. Alder was apparently well acquainted with Drayden, and Drayden wasted no time in introducing Iris, explaining her origins from the faraway dragon valley and her desires to become a Champion. Alder questioned if Iris came to defeat him, and the girl felt slightly taken aback by the sudden turn of events. She started yammering, and said she did not intend to have anything to do with him.

Drayden placed a gloved finger on Iris's mouth to shush her, and stated that one must always have manners and address people properly. The girl pouted that she did not know how to address them, and Alder grinned that she could call him gramps. Drayden giggled that she should call him gramps as well in that case, and Iris sweatdropped that she could not call two different people the same name. It was then agreed that Iris would call them Gramps Alder and Gramps Drayden respectively, and the girl took a quick liking to the two men. As they got along, instead of treating her like a kid, Alder and Drayden respected Iris like a real companion and opponent, and for the first time in her life, Iris felt that there were grown-ups whom she could truly like and respect.

That said, Iris is extremely angry at Team Plasma's N, for he not only defeated her gramps but also trampled on his dignity. Black realizes with a start that Iris has been fighting so hard to win the League and become the Champion because she wishes to battle N and defeat him. Iris cries that what N did pained and shamed her, and she would not allow him to get away with it. That is the reason she must not lose, even if her opponent is someone like Black.

Druddigon grabs Tula with its powerful claws to smash it hard against the ground, and Black finds himself losing to Iris's aggressiveness. He sees that Tula is on the verge of fainting, and quickly switches in Costa, his Carracosta. The giant turtle begins swinging its powerful flippers at Druddigon, and the red-faced dragon skillfully ducks backwards. Iris states that she would resort to alternative strategies if close-up combats are not possible, and commands a Bulldoze from Druddigon. The super effective attack rumbles the ground and knocks Costa off its feet, and Black feels fortunate that Costa's Solid Rock ability helped reduce the damage caused.

Hearing that Carracosta has Solid Rock, Iris decides to switch back to Haxorus, whose Mold Breaker allows it to negate the effect of other abilities. Haxorus starts attacking with its tusks, and Black reads from his Pokedex that its tusks stay sharp even when cutting steel beams. However, he knows that Costa also possesses powerful jaws, which strength enables it to chew up steel beams. He muses that not only he and Iris have comparable goals but their Pokemon also share comparable traits, which makes this a battle between true comrades. Iris vows not to lose in this tournament, and Black hollers that he has the same determination.

Haxorus and Costa continue to lash out at each other, but just as the axe-jaw dragon swings its head sideways for another strike, Costa clamps on its left tusk with its jaws. Iris jumps in shock at the scene, but Black gives her no time to think, and orders an Ice Beam from Costa, which hits Haxorus square-faced at zero distance. The super effective attack freezes the entire upper half of Haxorus's body, and the dragon slowly tumbles onto the ground, no longer able to fight. The Announcer declares Black the winner, and Drayden closes his eyes in silence while Secretta wears a gentle smile on her face.

Iris falls to her knees as tears start to run down her cheeks, and she apologizes to Alder that she has lost. Black walks over to her, and says she seems to have forgotten one thing. He reminds her that he meant it when he said they are true comrades, and explains that they share not only the same goal in claiming championship, but also the desire to defeat N. He states that his dream was to conquer the Champion, and since N already did that to Alder, his current goal is to conquer N. Black tells Iris to entrust her ambitions in him, and promises to defeat N himself…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

516: VS Fraxure

Volume 50