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Alas, X finds himself face to face with the Boss of Team Flare once more. Surrounded by his full team of six, X feels a sense of dread wash over him as Lysandre towers over them on his Mega Gyarados. In the next instant, Mega Gyarados lashes out and quickly slaughters Kanga, Li'l Kanga, Rute, Salame, Garma, Elec and Marisso. It then delivers the fatal blow, and brings X down as well…

Bolting awake, X sits up inside his tent and realizes that it was only a dream. He wipes a sweat off his forehead, and is unsettled by the fact that he is subconsciously fearful of confronting Lysandre again. Earlier, they have learnt of Lysandre's hiding place and are planning on going in. Clearly, this has resulted in the nightmare, and this hidden fright of his is genuinely bothering him. Straightening his pajamas, he decides to walk it off, and disembarks from the tent on Rhyhorn's back. Currently, the group has set up camp in the countryside of Anistar City, and X's companions are all sound asleep. He gazes upon his team of slumbering Pokemon nearby, and tries to convince himself that things will be different this time. With the addition of Rute the Pinsir, his team is now complete. Moreover, everyone else has also heightened their team work, which should enhance their battling capabilities.

At that moment, he hears someone commanding a Magnet Bomb, which is soon followed by a low rumbling from the ground. He walks over to the source of the sound, and sees Wikstrom and Drasna of the Elite 4 working on something. Wikstrom's Probopass focuses its powers ahead, and a line of jagged rocks starts to protrude out from the ground, forming a trail of some kind. Wikstrom notices X's presence, and comments that he rises rather early. Drasna thinks Wikstrom must have awoken the boy, and blames the man for not keeping his voice down as she told him. X says it isn't Wikstrom's fault, and Drasna guesses that he must have a nightmare in that case. She thinks he should try to get back to sleep since there is still some time before they set out, and offers to guard him by his side as she starts to usher him back towards the camp site. However, Wikstrom says Drasna shouldn't treat them as kids, and says X and his companions have not only succeeded in minimizing the Ultimate Weapon's threat but are also the chosen partners of the legendary Xerneas. He sighs that their deeds put a shame on them Elite 4 who have clearly done much less in their current crisis.

Just then, Diantha shows up to intercept them, and thinks Wikstrom and Drasna are pestering X. She apologizes to the boy for her companions' behavior, but X simply brushes it off with an expressionless face. Diantha reminds them that they are trying to infiltrate the Pokemon Village with stealth, and wants everyone to stay as low profile as they could. Wikstrom apologizes for their over eagerness, and explains that he is just working on ensuring the path of their secret operation. He promises X that he has things under control and he could sleep soundly until morning, but X bluntly states that it is his own choice weather to go back to sleep or not. He then turns to walk away and leaves both Wikstrom and Drasna speechless while Diantha steals a giggle under her breath.

Meanwhile, at the Pokemon Village, Team Flare Grunts have set up a work station under one of the canopies. Inside the cave which is situated in the innermost part of the Village, Lysandre sits on his couch, and reads the report on Essentia's pursuit of Z, Zygarde. Apparently, due to the damage inflicted on the Expansion Suit, they have completely lost control of Essentia, and both the masked trainer and Zygarde went missing afterwards. Xerosic sees the growing frown on their Boss's face, and bows deeply to apologize for the failed mission. Lysandre states that he has so far given Xerosic the freedom to experiment with his so called 'researches' because they seem to benefit the goal of Team Flare. However, it is clear that things have gotten out of hand, and he wants all research work on the Expansion Suit to cease from this moment on. Xerosic bolts in alarm at the order, and tries to persuade Lysandre otherwise. Yet, the Team Flare Boss points out that although Essentia's presence has given them some advantage in situations in the past, the uncertainty factor associated with the suit is too big a risk to continue. Xerosic fervently makes another attempt to defend the project, but Lysandre coldly states that he wouldn't repeat himself a second time. There and then, Xerosic knows that their leader is truly upset, and immediately shuts his mouth.

The next morning, the Vaniville kids are ready to set out and their ensemble is joined by Diantha and Green. With the majority of their Pokemon out of their Pokeballs, Drasna, who is standing next to Wikstrom and Siebold, grins that they form quite a formidable gang. She wonders if this is to minimize the threat from the enemy's Pokeball Jack, and Y admits with a nod. However, she reveals that her Xerneas, Xerxer, has yet to recover its bioenergy, and has thus stayed inside its Pokeball in its Tree Forme. In addition to the legendary deer, X's Charmeleon, Salame, has also refused to come out for some reason. Trevor wonders what could have caused its sudden change in behavior, and Shauna recalls that it was still quite pumped up on the Mamoswine Road. Indeed, Salame's attitude has taken an odd turn only after the Sundial incident, and X thinks to himself that it all happened when the Keystone's echo with the Sundial caused the Mega Stones of its teammates to shimmer.

Wikstrom clears his throat, and decides to explain their current situation to everyone once again. Thanks to Sina and Dexio, the assistants of Prof. Sycamore, they have learnt of the hiding place of Lysandre. However, it would be no surprise that word has gotten back to Team Flare and they are already aware of this. Naturally, they would be setting up obstacles to prevent them from accessing the Pokemon Village. Due to Malva's involvement with Team Flare, she would have pinpointed the other members of the Elite 4 as potential intruders, which is why Wikstrom, Drasna and Siebold would split up to take the main roads while the group shall advance via a pathless route. Being the expert of Steel types and magnetic forces, Wikstrom has worked to bring out cores of magnetic minerals out from the ground the night before to assist their advance. He explains that these cores would be rather hard to spot in the natural landscape, but thanks to Green's Scizor, which is of the Steel type, they should have no trouble following the path.

Siebold then shows them the elaborate lunch boxes he has prepared for them in the tent, and thinks it should keep them filled on their way. For her part, Drasna hands them an envelope, and explains that it contains information on the ground dwelling dragon Zygarde which they met the day before. Although there isn't much, it is all the data she could get as an expert in dragon types after exhausting all her resources. With that, the group thanks the three Elite 4 members for their assistance, and proceeds to set off to the Pokemon Village.

With Green leading the way with his Scizor, the group follows the inconspicuous mineral cores laid down by Wikstrom, and slowly makes their way through paths which are narrow and heavily forested, clearly not meant for normal travelling. Y remarks that the presence of Diantha and Green certainly helps to boost their morale, and Trevor agrees with a nod. Shauna thinks it is rare but fortunate that X doesn't reject the idea of having someone else in their group, and Tierno admits that he was shocked when X suggested they all infiltrate the Pokemon Village together. Indeed, it is unlike his character that X would actively choose to work together with outsiders, but Trevor thinks it is a good sign. He could sense that the prospect of battling Lysandre again is weighing heavily on X's mind, and the boy's behavior implies that he is determined not to lose this time.

As the group moves on, a fog starts to fill the area and Y says it is getting difficult to see the way ahead. Suddenly, Croaky gets into a combative stance, and spits out a jet of water towards something in the fog. Y wants to know what it has detected, and in the next instant, Croaky leaps into midair and to everyone's surprise, evolves into a Greninja. It crouches on a tree branch to assess its surroundings, and without warning, turns around to unleash a Water Shuriken to hit everyone on the face, soaking their hair and filling their ears with water. The group gets into an uproar, frantically try to shake themselves dry, and Shauna cries that Croaky has gone berserk. However, Diantha thinks the Greninja must have sensed something and is trying to warn them about it. Green agrees, and warns everyone to stay on guard until they know what they are dealing with.

The group continues to advance, and the fog that surrounds them gets thicker and thicker. Diantha finds it strange since they should have arrived at Couriway Town by now, and Green wonders if the thick fog is affecting Scizor's detection of the magnetic cores. As soon as he says that, the metallic bug collapses forward, and before he could react, Green himself gets hit by a powerful dizzy spell. Soon, Trevor, Shauna, Tierno, Diantha and everyone else find themselves overwhelmed by lethargy, and in no time, the entire ensemble, including humans and Pokemon, falls asleep on the ground.

A few moments later, Xerosic shows up with his Malamar, and giggles that he has found the intruders. Ever since he knew that the kids have discovered their Boss's hiding place, he is certain that they would be coming sooner or later. In preparation, he has set up heavy forces on guard along the main roads including Routes 19, 20 and 22. Yet, he also anticipates that they may be taking alternate paths and has thus filled the mountainous areas in between by Hypnosis. Essentially, he has created an elaborate trap for stealthy ambushers, which is made possible only because of his Malamar's supreme hypnotic powers among all Pokemon. Xerosic grins that intruders are much easier to locate and target when knocked out, and marvels at his own brilliance and genius mind. He begins to laugh out of pride, but his moment of glory is cut short when Malamar suddenly grabs him by the head to pull him out of the way, narrowly avoiding an incoming Water Shuriken.

Croaky leaps down from the tree branch it is hiding on, and to Xerosic's shock, X also straightens up from his crouched position, apparently wide awake. The red haired Scientist is baffled as to how they didn't fall asleep, but X gives him no time to react and gestures to Croaky, who immediately leaps forward to attack with another Water Shuriken. Malamar raises its tentacles to swat off the attack, and also manages to catch the Greninja's long tongue lashing out at it. However, Croaky skillfully curls its tongue the other way and coils it around the body of its opponent. It then slams the dark squid against a tree and faints it with the powerful impact.

Xerosic is still hysteric that X managed to stay clear of Malamar's Hypnosis, and wants an answer on how he did it. X responds by shaking the water out from his ears, and the red haired Scientist is shocked that he has used water as an earplug. X reveals that it was actually the work of Croaky, who hit them with Water Shuriken upon entering the mountainous path when it sensed the trap. At that time, everyone else immediately shook out the water from their ears as they failed to understand the reason, but he allowed the water to stay in because he knew it was for a purpose. Bewildered, Xerosic is curious how Greninja itself stayed immune to the Hypnosis, and the Pokemon explains itself by recoiling its long tongue around its neck like a scarf, shutting off its ears as it does so.

X thinks it is time for him to ask the questions, and demands to know why Xerosic came personally to ambush them when he could have simply laid traps at the Pokemon Village. The red haired Scientist keeps his mouth shut and refuses to say a word, and X suddenly realizes that the enemy is trying to keep them away from the Village. He demands to know what exactly the Pokemon Village is and what the place holds, but Xerosic remains silent and turns his head away.

Back at the Pokemon Village, the work station set up by Team Flare has become unmanned. From the communication devices left unattended, reports keep flooding in about security breaches over the main roads by the Elite 4. On Route 19, the team has engaged in a battle with Siebold, and on Route 20, Wikstrom is giving a hard time to the forces stationed there. On Route 22, Drasna has broken through their defense line, and another call also arrives from the team at Geosenge Town. However, not a single Grunt seems to be around to respond to these calls, almost as if Team Flare has evacuated from the place. Deep inside the cave where Lysandre has placed his now vacant couch, a solitary humanoid Pokemon sits silently in the dark, holding onto its giant spoon as it gazes forward with its piercing eyes…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us



039: VS Greninja!

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