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Outside the Pokeathlon Dome next to the Aprijuice Stand, Gold reveals that he is there to meet a man named Lance, who has offered to enlighten him on Arceus. Koga puts on an astonished look upon hearing the name 'Lance', and Bruno, having been on the same team as the man years ago, squints his eyes with a frown. Will and Karen on the other hand, have no recollection of ever coming across such a person, and simply raise an eyebrow.

Yet, the one who reacts most dramatically is the Goldenrod Gymleader Whitney. Upset that Gold has kept her in the dark all this time, she explodes into a fury, and kicks him in the head while demanding to know who Lance is and what Arceus is about. When Gold came asking for her help to escort him to the Pokeathlon Dome, he simply spoke of his desire to take part in the sport challenge. Clearly, this was just a side quest of his, and he has hidden his true intention behind from her. The girl angrily orders a Rollout from Miltank, and the pink dairy cow spins itself back and forth on the ground to run over the boy repeatedly.

Begging for mercy, Gold admits his fault and says he has indeed deliberately avoided the topic. However, it is really Oak, whom he refers to as gramps, who told him to keep his mission as secretive as possible, which is why he did not volunteer the information. Whitney picks a flattened Gold up from the ground, and demands to know if he means the renowned scholar Prof. Oak. Gold replies with a nod, and explains that it was the old man who sent him to the Pokeathlon after summoning him to his Science Lab all of a sudden…

At Prof. Oak's second Science Lab situated just north of Cherrygrove, the professor decides not to waste any time, and directly shows Gold a pile of photos on the table. The boy sees that they depict Ecruteak's towers, the Lake of Rage, as well as Goldenrod's Radio Tower, and asks the naďve question of whether they are from Oak's personal collection of commemorative photos taken during his visits in Johto. Oak barks that they most certainly are not, and points to what he's really trying to show him on the photos: black attired people with an 'R' symbol on their uniforms, Team Rocket Grunts.

Oak states that members of the evil organization have been spotted in succession all over Johto, and it is obvious that they are planning on something. Next to him, Prof. Elm finally catches Togetaro whom he has been trying to hold since Gold's arrival. Yet, the little spike egg shows no affection towards him at all, and keeps kicking at his face. Despite that, Elm tries his best to pick it up into his hands, and tells Gold that both he and Prof. Oak strongly believe that Team Rocket has been regrouped and is once again thriving in Johto.

Seeing the seemingly unconvinced face of Gold, Oak remarks that the Pokemon Association and the police force of Violet City are currently investigating into the issue in collaboration, but not long ago, he personally received a piece of important information from someone, which made him certain of his suspicion. With that, he walks over to a cube-like machine on his desk, and turns the switch on. Instantly, a red-haired man in medieval attire with a cape appears in the room, and Gold gasps that it is the first time he sees a hologram in person. He starts trotting around the desk to take a better look at the advanced 3D technique, until Oak lets out a holler and tells him to simply watch.

Apparently, the hologram is a pre-recorded track, and the red-haired man begins his speech by greeting the professor. He introduces himself as Lance, and says it is probably the first time that they see each other in person like that. He understands that the professor will be wary of him due to some of his previous deeds, but he wishes to convey the important message that Team Rocket has been resurrected and are working on a set of new evil schemes. This time, their goal is the legendary alpha Pokemon, Arceus. Pertaining to Arceus, there is information that he wishes to share, and he hopes that Prof. Oak will send one of his Pokedex Holders to meet him at Johto's new facility, the Pokeathlon Dome, where he shall reveal what he knows.

After specifying the date and time, Lance's hologram disappears, and Oak states that it is the reason why he summoned Gold. He tells the boy not to be late for such an important task, and ushers him to get ready, but Gold doesn't seem too interested in the job, and wonders why the professor didn't ask Silver or Crys instead. The truth is, Oak has already attempted to do so, but he failed to get in touch with Silver, and Crys is busy with work for the Pokemon School. Hearing that, Gold gets upset, and hollers that he is treated only as a last resort. He gets into a fight with Oak, calling him unfair, and Elm tries to calm him down, saying it should be fun to experience the new sensation of Johto…

Gold finishes up his tale, and takes pride in the fact that he is currently on a secret mission bestowed upon him by a top authority in the Pokemon World. However, Whitney, Koga, Bruno, Karen and Will know well that he is just serving as a replacement, and simultaneously shoot him a look of disdain.

Will states that this Lance guy seems awfully late in any sense, and Karen agrees as she looks around the area. Gold says he is thinking about the same thing, and jumps back in shock when Koga suddenly flattens himself against the ground and places his ear down to listen. The ninja guy could hear that something is getting close, and Whitney becomes startled as to what he is talking about. Koga gestures towards the seashore but before he could answer, a Dragonite charges out from the waters and roars in a fury.

Gold, Whitney and the Elite 4 bolt up with a start, and watch in bewilderment as the dragon Pokemon slams its fist into the Aprijuice Stand, destroying it in one hit. Staff and visitors scream in horror as they run and take shelter, and Dragonite continues it rampage but firing a Hyper Beam towards the Pokeathlon Dome, breaking a hole through its ceiling. Inside, the audience stand becomes chaotic as people rush to the exits, and on the Goldenrod Radio broadcast stage, the Director tells everyone to head for safety via the broadcast system, and tells DJ Mary to leave first while he stays behind to coordinate the crowd.

Outside, Koga and Bruno know they must do something to stop Dragonite, and each tosses out an Ultra Ball, the former shaped into a ninja-star and the latter via a nun-chuck. Ekans and Hitmonlee pop out and dart towards Dragonite, but the furious dragon unleashes another Hyper Beam, and blasts them both away. Koga is surprised that Dragonite managed to use such a powerful attack without needing much recovery time in between, and Bruno realizes that it is trained to use Hyper Beam in succession.

Dragonite starts invading the inside of the Pokeathlon Dome, and rams its head onto the broadcast stage where the Director is standing. The man gets thrown off his feet, and ends up landing on the head of Dragonite, which further aggravates the Pokemon. Whitney wonders what they should do, and suddenly notices that Gold has vanished. A blue track suit is then thrown at her face, and she turns to see that the boy has changed back into his own outfit, and is currently staring down at the angry dragon with his billiard cue at hand.

The Goldenrod Gymleader wants to know if he has come up with any strategies, and the boy grins that he has. Gathering his Pokemon, he calls forward Explotaro, Politaro and Aitaro, and three quickly charge forward to battle Dragonite. Gold then kneels down on one knee, and positions Togetaro's Pokeball on the ground before setting his cue in preparation to strike it. He explains that Togetaro will be the main focus while Explotaro, Politaro and Aitaro only serve to distract and provoke the dragon Pokemon. He seeks help from Koga and Bruno, and hopes they can aide him by using their observation skills to tell him exactly when Dragonite is about to fire another Hyper Beam.

The two men don't really understand what Gold is trying to do, but keep their eyes on the rampaging dragon anyway, and simultaneously make their warning as it opens up its mouth to prepare another strike. As soon as he gets the signal, Gold thrusts his billiard cue into the Togetaro's Pokeball, and sends it flying straight towards Dragonite. To everyone's horror, it collides directly with the Hyper Beam, and causes an explosion to throw Gold off his feet.

The boy tumbles back a few times before coming to a halt, and Togetaro's Pokeball, now charred, comes falling back to the ground and rolls off to one side. Koga and Bruno realize that Gold was attempting to make Togepi pop out at the closest distance possible from Dragonite when it was temporarily fazed from firing off the attack. Yet, the plan has apparently failed, and Will calls Gold a fool for betting on something so dangerous, putting both his Pokemon and himself at risk.

Gold isn't so convinced however, and pinches Will's face playfully. He grins that he has not lost, and at that moment, everyone looks up to see Togetaro hovering high up in the air behind Dragonite. Plummeting down due to gravity, the little spike ball makes use of its momentum and slams hard into Dragonite's back with a Double-edge, which manages to faint the dragon and send it slumping against the ground.

Whitney and the Elite 4 gasp in shock at what they saw, just as Togetaro hops off Dragonite and gives Gold a high-five. Whitney wants to know if Togepi successfully escaped from its Pokeball before the Hyper Beam struck, but Karen believes that it isn't the case, and says the Pokemon actually took the hit directly while still inside the Pokeball. In other words, as the Pokeball made it collision with Hyper Beam as it edged closer to Dragonite, Togepi stood its ground and endured the attack.

Gold feels proud at Togetaro's achievement, and marvels over its naughty spirit. Koga and Bruno find themselves bemused by such a battle strategy, but agree that the trainer and Pokemon must both be equally crazy to pull off such a stunt. Gold retorts that he also takes other things into account, and points towards the left claws of Dragonite. To Bruno's surprise, he finds a piece of torn cape between the dragon Pokemon's claws, and suddenly bolts in realization. He spins his head around to face Gold, who nods in response, apparently sharing his thought that the Dragonite belongs to Lance.

Wanting to feel prepared before he meets the man, Gold has asked around to learn more about him prior to his visit to the Pokeathlon. From what he has heard, Lance's dragon Pokemon are capable of freely changing the course of their Hyper Beam attacks. However, this Dragonite has been firing off Hyper Beam in straight lines only since it started rampaging, and having spotted the piece of torn cape in its claws, he rationalized that it came in a hurry, and lost the company of the trainer who was always there to command it. Koga compliments on Gold's logical thinking, and now understands that his previous risky strategy was actually done after careful estimation of the Hyper Beam's intensity based on its distance from Dragonite's mouth, as well as the fact that it wasn't the Pokemon's usual attacking pattern.

Gold acknowledges Koga's words with a grin, and Whitney notices that Dragonite has actually sustained a significant degree of injury, which seems to be present before it came to the Pokeathlon. Karen believes that it has engaged in an intense battling prior to its arrival, and Bruno says all the evidence points towards one single possibility, that Lance has been ambushed by someone on his way to the Pokeathlon, which is why he has failed to show up in his promised meeting with Gold, and only Dragonite, who likely escaped, came alone and started rampaging following the trauma of being attacked and separated from its trainer, which caused it to lose its mind.

Gold squints his eyes with a thought after hearing Bruno's statement, but then remarks that it seems pointless for him to remain there now, as he has already proven his ability as a trainer and obtained medals in all the courses of the Pokeathlon. He decides that he has no purpose to stay behind anymore, and plans on returning home. He then notices the Radio Director, who is still sprawled across the ground next to Dragonite but starting to come around, and says the man should pay him back for saving him. Dragging him by the back of his collar, the boy states that the Pokeathlon broadcast will have to be suspended anyway, and requests the Director to give him a ride on his way back to Goldenrod.

A few moments later, Gold climbs into the Goldenrod Radio van next to the Director, and sticks his head out of the window to say goodbye to the Elite 4. He thanks them for giving him such an enjoyable match, and Bruno remarks that he had a great time as well. The burly man remembers being once called the Kanto Elite 4, during which he worked alongside with Lance, and says although they eventually went separate ways due to difference in belief, he still respects the man as a truly skilled trainer.

Bruno hands an Ultra Ball to Gold, and the boy sees that it contains the now pacified and resting Dragonite. Bruno states that this Pokemon usually refuses to listen to commands other than those from Lance, but it has followed his order to return to its Pokeball. He believes that it must have treated him as an old acquaintance and recalled the brief time they spent together as a gang in the past. He hopes that Gold will return Dragonite to Lance when he finds the man, and the boy assures him that he will.

The boy then decides to give Bruno something in return for memory's sake, and starts stuffing a handful of snacks to him, including the Violet Rice-cookie, Azalea Rice-ball, and last but not least, the RageCandyBar. He grins that they are all souvenirs from his trips around Johto, and bids the Elite 4 farewell as the Director starts the engine. Watching the van disappear from sight, Bruno takes a bite of the RageCandyBar, and instantly feels his taste buds soar. He exclaims that he has never tasted something so good before, and vows not to eat anything but the RageCandyBar from now on.

As the Goldenrod Radio van makes it way back to Goldenrod, Gold suddenly hears his name called, and looks out of the window to see Whitney giving chase on her Miltank. The girl cannot believe that Gold is really going home, after having taken up a mission from Prof. Oak, learnt about Team Rocket, and even knowing the fact that a guy called Lance has gone missing. Gold snickers that those really fall under the responsibility of the police, and his answer causes Whitney to nearly fall off from Miltank.

Gold points out that his mission was to meet Lance at the Pokeathlon, who clearly will not be showing up now, and he really doesn't see any option other than departing. On the other hand, he is really intrigued by this legendary Pokemon called Arceus, who has caused the region's top-class trainer and renowned professor to make a fuss out of it. After a moment of thought, Gold suddenly cries that he has another idea. He frantically yanks at the Director's clothes to get him to u-turn, and the man demands to know what he is doing.

Gold states that he has decided to pay a visit to Ecruteak, which is famous for its beautiful Kimono girls, and forces the Director to change course. Unable to fight the boy's demands, the Radio Director steers the van around, and starts heading north to the old-fashioned city as Gold says his goodbyes to Whitney, who simply watches with a defeated but bemused expression…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

444: VS Togepi

Volume 41