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Following the match between Green of Viridian and Chuck of Cianwood, Kanto leads Johto by one victory, and the seventh round, being the much anticipated battle between Blaine and Clair, is about to begin. However, just before Mary is about to call forward the the two gymleaders, one of the stage managers brings her a message from the Pokémon Association Chairman which speaks of Blaine’s request for some rest time due to his health problems. Not wanting the audience to wait, the Chairman has decided to carry on with the final region captains’ battle first, and Mary announces to the audience about the change of match order.

Stepping up from the Kanto gymleaders’ sitting area, Erika wonders how Blaine’s condition is. She has always believed that Blaine should be Kanto’s captain instead of her, but the Cinnabar gymleader was the only one absent when the Pokémon Association called them together at Goldenrod, and she was appointed instead. She clutches tight onto the greatball in her hands, and knows she has to give her best as she now represents all the gymleaders in Kanto

. Once Mary commences the battle, Pryce calls out his Swinub and Erika releases Bellossom, who slowly begins dancing around its trainer. After addressing each other politely, Erika remarks that apart from teaching at the University of Celadon, she also practices archery, tea ceremony, as well as flower arrangement on her own. While creating beauty with the flowers is one of the main aims, insousciance is one of the most important criteria in flower arrangement. Pryce squints his eyes in alert as she says that, and stage is all of a sudden filled with numerous flower petals. Falkner and Bugsy gasp in shock that Bellossom has pulled off a petal dance attack without anyone’s notice, and Erika calmly states that looking unconcerned and elegant applies to Pokémon battles as well.

The Celadon gymleader then raises her right arm, and Bellossom sends the petals crashing into Swinub. Falkner exclaims that petal dance is not only an offensive move, but at the same time creates an impregnable barrier to protect the Pokémon itself. Bugsy notices that Swinub seems slightly dazed before the attack strikes, and realizes that its characteristic of being attracted to enticing smells made it lower its guard towards the aroma-filled flowers.

Keeping the barrier of spinning petals, Erika retrieves Bellosom to switch in Skiploom, and has it deliver a stunspore on Swinub. Pryce taps his crutch slightly on the ground next to his wheelchair, and Swinub quickly charges forward to fire a powder snow. While most of the attack gets blocked off by the petals, one snow blob manages to go through and hit Skiploom, causing it to flinch and shiver immediately. Brock and Misty are shocked at the damage one small blob can do, and warns Erika to safeguard her defense as ice has an advantage over grass.

Erika tells them not to worry as she kneels down to check on Skiploom, and orders it to heal itself with a synthesis. Sunlight shines throw the glass windows near the ceiling of the stadium, and Skiploom instantly recharges its strength. Erika remarks that synthesis is most effective at that particular period of time as Bellossom’s petal dancing earlier summoned the sun and powered up its rays. With the petal barrier’s protection and Skiploom’s ability to heal itself with sunlight, Erika believes that it is the best strategy in battling an opponent with a type advantage.

However, just as she says that, the petals in the barrier all of a sudden freeze solid, and shatter around her all at once. She looks down at Skiploom and is horrified to see it frozen as well, and couldn’t understand how any ice attacks could have gone through the petal barrier and hit her Pokémon without notice. The whole room murmur in disbelief, and Mary exclaims that although she has no idea what happened, it appears that Skiploom has fainted and Pryce has won the battle. Pryce moves his wheelchair over to Erika, who’s still slightly stunned, and gently remarks that he didn’t really do anything special as well, but simply kept himself insouciant as she said earlier. He then puts on an embarrassed laugh, and apologizes to Erika for stealing her words.

Down at the Johto gymleaders’ sitting area, Morty keeps a keen eye on Pryce. Although Pryce didn’t reveal what happened, the Ecruteak gymleader saw everything. When Pryce’s Swinub delievered its power snow, its aim was in fact at the spinning petals but not Skiploom. With bits of snow on every single petal, their rapid spinning made them equivalent to a giant air-conditioner constantly blowing cold air on Skiploom, thus slowly freezing it without anyone’s notice. Knowing that the Mahogany gymleader is indeed more powerful than any one of them, Morty gets a feeling that there’s more to what the old man reveals himself to be. Right before Erika steps off the stage, she notices a flash coming from the handle of Pryce’s clutch, and wonders if her eyes were playing tricks on her.

Meanwhile, in the VIP room, the Pokémon Association Chairman silently praises the strength and modesty of old man Pryce, and knows that while the mastermind of the reformed Team Rocket is definitely one of the sixteen gymleaders, he’s certain that it wouldn’t be Pryce. Up in the audience stand, Crys says she’s impressed by the battle, and Gold remarks that the masked man possesses a power similar to that of Pryce, and incidentally they both specialize in ice types. Crys wonders if Gold is thinking Pryce might be the masked man, and says she read that Pryce is the most venerable among all sixteen gymleaders, and couldn’t picture him as the person choreographing TR’s evil acts. Gold, on the other hand, thinks that they should still keep an eye on Pryce.

Aitro suddenly senses someone spying on them, and quickly alerts Gold. Gold and Crys quickly turn around, and see the shadow of a man at the top of the stairs who instantly turns away upon being spotted. The two young trainers hurriedly give chase, and after climbing up several flights of stairs, find themselves in the central control and monitoring room of the stadium. Crys takes a look around at the various machines around them, and says everything at the Indigo Plateau is controlled there.

Gold walks up to a technician who’s facing the monitor and has his back turned towards them, and gasps in shock when he realizes that the man has actually fainted. A Slowking and Magcargo without warning pop out from behind the machines, and a voice comes on to say that the control room now belongs to them. Gold and Crys spin around to find a man and woman dressed in TR outfits, and Gold recognizes them as the same ones who were responsible for the land subsidance in Ecruteak. The two TR subleaders introduce themselves as Shum and Cart, and grin that they service directly under Mask of Ice.

Gold attempts to charge forward to attack, but feels himself held back by something invisible in the air. Shum grins that she wouldn’t allow them to interfere with them again, and Cart says the world will soon be told about about the resurrection of Team Rocket, and there’s nothing Gold and Crys could do to stop them. Shum takes a look into the giant electronic binoculars next to the window, and marvels that their team leader, the mighty Mask of Ice, is currently atop the Tin Tower to capture something that would provide great assistance to their team. Gold and Crys wonder what she is talking about, and Shum presses a button to project the live recording of the binoculars onto the monitor screen. To the two young trainers’ surprise, Mask of Ice and his Delibird are battling against a giant rainbow bird in the skies above the Tin Tower. Knowing that all sixteen gymleaders are still at Indigo Plateau, Gold and Crys couldn’t understand how the masked man could be somewhere else…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

163: VS. Bellossom!

Volume 13