• Snowy goes in for a rematch against Nessa. Will the tides turn in his favor, or will he get dragged under by the current? Watch here to find out.

EVERYONE: Pokemon Shine Diamond

Brock's Pikachu
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Episode 82: Dealing with Defensive Types


"Representing the Diamond side, Ash Ketchum of Kanto, and Diddy!" Roark announced as Ash stepped into the Diamond side of the arena to face Byron on the Pearl side.

"I'm ready." Byron smiled. "Count us down, please."

"Okay! Three...two...one...GO!" Roark called.

"Diddy, here we go!" Ash called, grinning as his Monferno arrived in the arena.

Roark smiled. It seems like only yesterday Diddy was just a Chimchar... he thought as Byron summoned a Bronzor.

He watched from the midpoint of the arena as Diddy jumped in the air and fired a huge Flamethrower. "How?" Ash gasped as the flames cleared--Byron' Bronzor looked unfazed by the attack.

"Seidou was able to resist your attack thanks to Heatproof." Byron explained. "I hope your Monferno knows some other tactics besides raw power."

He turned business-like again. "Use Rain Dance."

Ash grimaced as rain started to fall in the arena, never mind that the battle was taking place indoors. "Try to go underground and catch Seidou from behind!"

[Got it!] Diddy replied before digging underground.

After a few tense moments, Diddy emerged from the wet earth and heaved another Flamethrower. But he did not see the Bronzor form a massive steel ball! [Oof!]

"Gyro Ball!" Ash remembered as he watched Diddy collect himself. "Be careful!"

Diddy rolled away from a second Gyro Ball, meeting the attack head on with Flame Wheel. The collision created a huge explosion, making Brock and Dawn brace themselves in the stands.

When the smoke cleared, only Diddy was still standing! "Seidou is unable to battle--this match goes to Diamond." Roark announced.

Ash smiled. "You did well, Diddy--return."

---------

"Kagami, here we go!" Byron next summoned a Steelix.

"Tails, here we go!" Ash called.

"Steelix is both Steel-type and Ground-type, right?" Dawn asked as she watched Ash contemplate his first move.

"Ash did well picking Tails, as Water is very effective on Steelix." Brock explained. "The only scenario that would put Tails in danger is if Byron's Steelix knows Thunder Fang."

Byron singing Furiya, shuru shamato... and a flash of white light got everyone's attention. "Or Byron could also induce his Steelix like I can Argent to give Ash an extra layer of challenge."

In the arena, Tails fired a Water Gun as the now Mega Steelix made a horrible Screech to both repel the attack and stall Tails. "Oh yeah...Roark's Onix did this before!" Dawn remembered.

She watched as Kagami, now a Mega Steelix, used Bind to trap Tails. He next used Iron Tail to toss Tails and slam him to the ground.

"Tails!" Ash hurried to Tails' side as the dust cleared. "You okay?"

[I'm sorry....that was just too powerful...] Tails wheezed. [Not to mention that'll give me a royal headache in the morning.]

Ash smiled, relieved Tails was okay. "You did your best, Tails...return."

He heaved another Poke Ball skyward. "Welcome back, Diddy!"

[Oh yeah!] Diddy called before firing a Flamethrower, causing Byron's Mega Steelix to falter. He nimbly back flipped away as Kagami attempted Iron Tail.

After a brief moment to contemplate his next move, Diddy burrowed underground, but neither Ash or Diddy expected Kagami to use Iron Tail on the battlefield to force Diddy out. Kagami tried to bind Diddy, but Diddy rolled away. This game of Meowth and Rattata continued for a while before the ground near the Mega Steelix caved, thanks to Diddy's digging. [HAH!] Diddy cried as he hurled a Flame Wheel to the Mega Steelix's head, knocking it out.

---------

"Escudo, your turn!" Byron called as he summoned his prized Bastiodon.

I remember how it stopped Crystal's Head Smash... Ash thought as he looked over at Diddy wheezing in the arena. Diddy's done so much...he needs the rest.

After calling Diddy back, Ash heaved a third Poke Ball skyward. "Erin, showtime!"

"Erin?" Dawn gasped as the Riolu materialized on the battlefield. "Why didn't Ash pick Estrella for an aerial assault?" she asked as Erin flipped behind Escudo and used Force Palm, only for Escudo to repel with Iron Defense.

"This may be Erin's first Gym battle, but Ash wouldn't have chosen her if Ash didn't believe in her." Brock assured Dawn. He let that hang as Erin tried to perform Aura Sphere, but a huge green flash sent Erin flying.

"Erin!" Ash gasped as Escudo charged at the vulnerable Riolu, intent on using Iron Head.

[I would've never asked te battle here if I didn't believe in meself...] Erin growled. [I can't give up...I won't give up!]

Ash's look of horror turned to joy as Erin glowed white, stopping the Bastiodon in its tracks as she became a larger wolf-like Pokemon with spikes on its paws and stomach.

He excitedly signaled a time out so he could read up on what Erin had become:

"Lucario, the aura Pokemon. By catching the aura emanating from others, it can read their thoughts and movements."

Not one to be deterred, Escudo opted to circle around and attempt to ram Erin again. "If you don't hurry, Erin's gonna be a Lucario-cake!" Dawn called, aware of Escudo charging at the Lucario bracing itself for impact from the massive Pokemon.

Ash appeared to be unusually calm as he watched the Bastiodon charge. [Is it time?] Erin asked.

Ash nodded. "It's time."

With that, he held his right hand skyward, showing Byron the ruby Mega Ring he wore. Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...

"What in the..." Byron gasped as Erin was engulfed in red flames and thunderbolts. Escudo fired another Flash Cannon, but Erin, now a Mega Lucario, leaped away from the attack. After elegantly twirling in the air, she landed on Escudo's back, grabbing the huge Pokemon's horns and landing a powered up Aura Sphere.

"Go, Erin!" Dawn called as Escudo fruitlessly tried to throw Erin off.

Finally, Escudo managed to throw off Erin, but Erin landed feet first, ready to defend again. When she saw Escudo about to fire Flash Cannon, she opted to trip Escudo, causing the Bastiodon to crash to the arena floor.

Ash watched as Escudo and Erin heaved with exhaustion. Mega Evolution's really helped Erin, but even then, a power boost may not be enough...

In the arena, Erin looked for a bone to use Bone Rush with. "New plan--take cover behind a rock!" Ash suggested, aware of the charging Bastiodon.

He winced as Escudo smashed a rock. [Missed me!] Erin taunted as she fired an Aura Sphere, finally bringing down the massive Pokemon.

"Game set! This match's winner is Diamond!" Roark smiled as he watched Erin hug Ash.

---------

"Ash...you've come a long way since I faced you back in Oreburgh." Roark smiled as he and Byron met the group that evening.

"You've more than earned the power of Mega Evolution." Byron agreed.

He offered Ash a badge that resembled a circle of rocks and pickaxes. "In remembrance of our Mega matchup today, I want you to have this."

"Thank you..." Ash accepted the badge. "I promise to keep training, and getting ever stronger!"

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 83a: Steeling Peace of Mind! (part 1)


"So long, Canalave." Ash smiled as he packed his stuff. "It's been fun."

"From here, we're off to Chocovine Town for Dawn's next Contest and my next Fantasy Stage." Brock smiled.

"Have you decided what you want to tell for the Chocovine Fantasy Stage?" Dawn asked.

"Not yet..." Brock admitted. "I'm leaning towards some kind of dragonslayer tale, though..."

"Sounds fun!" Dawn smiled.

A trill of a PokeNav snapped Ash to attention. After looking at the caller ID and seeing Danielle's name, he quickly swiped the "Answer" icon. "Hello?"

"Hey Ash, it's Danielle." Danielle's voice began on the other end. "How'd your match with Byron go?"

"Wonderful!" Ash smiled. "My risk of using Erin against a big Pokemon paid off--she evolved! That meant I could induce her against Byron's Bastiodon, Escudo."

"Yeah, Escudo was a challenge for me too." Danielle remembered. "So, I'm here on Iron Island, as I said; and something's wrong with a lot of the Pokemon!"

"What happened?" Ash asked.

"They've begun to turn wild--many of them even attacking their own masters!" Danielle explained. "But here's the weird part--this is only happening to Steel-type Pokémon."

"That is weird..." Ash mused.

"Lucky for me, I have no Steel types with me at the moment." Danielle assured Ash. "But you know this is more than a routine outbreak when even Nurse Joy doesn't know what to do."

"We'll be over there as soon as we can." Ash replied. "I won't summon Erin unless I have to--as much as I really want to show you Erin right now."

"I'll hold off inducing Argent unless I have to, as well." Brock agreed.

"Good idea." Danielle replied. "The ferry departs to and from Canalave hourly, so one should be arriving at the docks on your end very soon--my team and I will meet you there!"

"We're on our way." Ash replied as he ended the call. "Well, Chocovine's gonna have to wait..." he began.

"We can't just sit idly by and watch if someone's in danger." Dawn vowed. "Danielle's done so much for us--let's go help her in return!"

---------

Ash hurried to hug Danielle as the group arrived in the Iron Island Pokemon Center. "Ash, you made it....good." Danielle smiled. "As you can see, a lot of the owned Steel types that are out of their Poke Balls have gone wild." She gestured to an Alolan Sandshrew trying everything in its power to break free from a gurney as it was rolled to an open medical bay.

"That poor Sandshrew..." Dawn noted a team of interns did everything they could to restrain an angry Scizor.

"Let's start by looking around the island." Brock suggested. "There has to be something here bothering the Steel types."

"Lead the way." Ash smiled, allowing Danielle to lead the group out of the Pokemon Center.

"I was exploring some of the rocks nearby, so we can start there." Danielle suggested.

The group made good time climbing through some of the crags nearby the Pokemon Center. However, Dawn gasped when she spotted a huge Aggron charging in their direction! "Oh no!"

"Mother praised for her indigo life, break apart and raise thy clear new voice! Wataja!" a male voice called, sending a massive wave of water at the Aggron. A large Aura Sphere sent the soaked reptilian Pokemon flying seconds later.

"Who cast the spell?" Danielle asked.

"Yeah, friend or foe?" Ash agreed.

He gasped as a young man in a majestic royal blue, grey, and gold mage's costume emerged from behind a crag. "Friend, travelers." he smiled. "I am Riley of the Order of the Celestial Aura."

He gestured to the Lucario at his side. "And this is Vivian, my Lucario--Vivi, for short."

"Well then, Riley...we came here because we heard rumors of Pokemon going nuts." Danielle explained. "We were also told that for some weird reason, this strange phenomenon only affected Steel types..."

"...so how can Vivi not be affected?" Ash asked.

"Vivi is safe because she can also use her aura to protect herself from the phenomenon you describe." Riley explained. "We are also trying to figure out how to stop this odd phenomenon ourselves. Maybe if we combined our powers, we could find the masterminds behind it!"

"You're not gonna betray us later, are you?" Brock was a little skeptical.

"At ease, Sir Loremaster. It would be a shameful act for a member of the Celestial Aura to betray others working for the same cause as they are." Riley replied. "So, are we a team?"

"I'd say we are." Ash smiled.

"All right, have you all found any clues or information pointing to the cause of the wild phenomenon?" Riley asked.

"We know it only affects Steel types..." Dawn explained as the group started down a path into a cave. "Nurse Joy has no idea what it is or how to treat it..."

Danielle pulled up a picture of an odd plane-like drone on her PokeNav and showed it to Riley. "Dunno if this counts as a clue, but I've seen three of these headed to the northwest..."

"That is a perfect clue!" Riley smiled. "If we continue through the caves, we should be able to follow the drones to their launch base."

"Let's go!" Ash led the way into the cave...

To Be Continued...
 
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Interlude: The Rainbow of Aura

As the group made their way through the caves, the gentle breeze and dripping water unnerved Ash a little. "So, Riley..." he stammered. "What is it your order actually does, and how does it tie back into aura powers?"

"All aura is is ki, the energy in all things." Riley explained. "Unlike what you see in the media, aura is not inherently good or evil. It only does what it is told, for better or for worse. Those that can sense aura, or auramancers, can often manipulate it to help or harm."

"Like magic?" Dawn was excited.

Riley smiled. "I suppose you can call it magic. The most basic form anyone can master is the Swanna Song of folklore. But with dedicated training, and a deep bond with those around you, you can do some amazing things."

He went on "My order, the Order of the Celestial Aura, is a peacekeeping order first and foremost. We work alongside law enforcement to investigate rogue auramancers and others that are misusing and abusing aura to their own ends. When I heard of the wild phenomenon out here, I was asked to help out...so here we are."

As the group rounded the corner into an alcove, Riley laid a hand on Ash's chest. "Okay...I can sense all the colors of aura in your heart, Ash. But the two strongest colors are red, which is fire, and yellow, which is thunder."

"Wait, colors of aura?" Ash was confused.

"Being the natural energy of all things, aura energy itself comes in a variety of colors." Riley explained as he watched Vivi bound on ahead to scout a path. "In its purest form, aura is a bright blue-white. But depending on the elemental energy around it, it can come in different colors. In your case, you have all the colors of aura in your heart, but fire and thunder are the two strongest elements you could theoretically control if you wanted to develop your power."

"Meaning..." Ash beckoned Riley to continue.

"Your heart shines with the burning spirit of courage; and the creativity and quick thinking of a thunderbolt. If someone is in danger, you are often first to answer the call to help." Riley explained. "However, you do not want to jump to conclusions or charge into the fray without considering your options. With an excitable aura like yours, it is not easy to stop and think things over. But if you take the time to master this skill, it will benefit you both on the battlefield and off of it."

"I'm working on thanking tactically..." Ash assured Riley.

"Ooh, what kind of aura would I have?" Dawn asked.

Riley laid a hand on Dawn's chest. "Okay...the two strongest colors I sense inside you are blue, which is water, and white, which is light. Water is an ever changing element, and easily adaptable to any situation. By extension, you would also be able to tap into cyan aura, which is ice, and your white aura lends you healing powers."

He told Dawn. "Your bond with your Piplup has granted you a very versatile power. Just as a river flows to the sea, so will your abilities grow and change. You have worked hard to come this far, but no path to victory is ever free of troubles. If you ever find yourself in the depths of despair, the light will show you the way forward."

"Point duly noted." Dawn smiled.

"I'll bite...what color aura would I have?" Brock asked.

Riley laid a hand on Brock's chest. "Okay...all the colors are fairly strong, but green--which is earth--is the strongest. Your heart is as strong as a mountain, unbending to the storms of life. But this doesn't mean you are set in your ways. You are willing to hear different perspectives, and learn new things. The song in your heart bursts forth like a rose, ready to inspire, to entertain, to teach, encourage, and comfort. Though you were brought up in the mountains, you can also tap into the valley's power to unleash flower and plant based spells as well as rock and jewel based ones."

"Interesting..." Brock smiled as he watched Riley lay a hand on Danielle's chest.

"I sense three strong colors inside you." Riley explained to Danielle. "Purple has long been associated with royalty, but it is also known for its spiritual side. With purple aura, you can manipulate stars, and both help and hurt with the very cosmos itself. All performers strive to be stars--what kind of star you become depends on how you channel your aura. Above all, the stage is not all about you, but a group effort. Your quick thinking and yearning for growth from your other colors will allow you and your fellow performers to reach for the stars...and beyond."

About then, Vivi returned. [If we follow the spiral hill up ahead, we should find the drones' base.]

"All right." Riley replied before motioning for everyone to follow him. "Let's move on."

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 83b: Steeling Peace of Mind! (part 2)


The group emerged from a cave to discover a large campsite emblazoned with familiar G logos. "I knew Team Galactic was here..." Danielle grumbled as the group started towards the camp.

Mars peeked out from a small building and smiled when she noticed the group was approaching. "Oh, visitors! You're just in time to see Team Galactic's latest invention--the Metala-Sounder 5000!"

The group watched in horror as Mars inserted a strange key into a slot in the rocks, sending out a powerful low pitched sound wave. "I see--Galactic has taken the same principle as the move Metal Sound and somehow transformed it into mind control that only works on Steel types."

"That makes sense!" Dawn gasped. "Even a coordinator knows that Metal Sound's main purpose in battle is to lower the target's resistance to special attacks--so by that logic, the target can be vulnerable to mind control!"

Ash noticed Vivi approaching them, now with eerie red eyes. "Kinda like Vivi!"

Vivi lunged to attack the group, but Riley tackled his Lucario, pinning her to the ground. "I'm going to need help holding Vivi down..." Riley explained. "I have an idea as to how to snap Vivi out of the wild state!"

Ash hurried over to restrain Vivi as Riley laid a hand on the struggling Lucario's chest--being careful not to touch the spike in the center. "Evil residing inside of my companion, behold the power of Arceus! Leave my companion's body, and return to the abyss from whence you came!"

With that, he sang Gatrandis favel, secret, edena...
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...


Dawn's panicked look turned to joy as as Vivi was surrounded in a rainbow aura. Emusto koron zen fine, si...

Vivi's eyes flickered open. [What happened...I don't know what came over me!]

"It was the wild state..." Riley wheezed. "You were forced to attack us, in spite of yourself."

After healing Riley from his weariness, Vivi looked over at the rock. [The Galactic rogue said the machine that generated the wild state was in the rock. I will go on ahead and attempt to disarm the machine--if I need help, come to my aid.]

"I always do, Vivi." Riley smiled before hugging Vivi. "Be careful in there."

"Get your bow ready--this could get bad." Ash instructed Brock as the group followed Vivi into the cave...

---------

The group gasped as they found Vivi battered and beaten some time later. [I'm sorry, Riley...the rogues knew we were coming...]

"Twinkle, I need you!" Danielle called, summoning an Alolan Ninetales to support the group.

[WAUUUGH!] Kori cried as she tripped over a cracked floor, creating a hole!

"I gotcha, Kori!" Dawn leaped over some rocks and caught Kori by the fin moments before she could fall in the hole. "There...now don't let go!"

A roar got her attention "Oh no..."

Brock recognized the roar as a huge steel snake Pokemon loomed over Dawn and Kori. "Steelix!"

"I'll go deal with Mars--Brock, Danielle, help Riley save Dawn and Kori!" Ash called before running to engage Mars and her Purugly Leona. "Erin, let's do this!"

[I'll freeze this for you...] Twinkle purred before freezing the head of the arrow Brock was about to shoot.

"Thanks, Twinkle." Brock replied before aiming the glowing frosty arrow at the Steelix.

"My bow is the azure sky!" Riley called, creating a sparkling blue bow made of ice. "Repent before my cerulean vortex!"

He next aimed a magical arrow glowing with many colors at the Steelix. "Aurora Arrow!"

Both Brock's shot and Riley's spell impacted the Steelix at the same time. "Whoa..." was all Dawn could say as she helped Kori onto solid ground again.

[Nice shot!] Kori smiled.

A flash of an Aura Sphere informed the others that Ash had won against Mars. "You lot may have won today, but your quest ends here!" Mars began.

"What?" Ash gasped as the group reunited.

"I've put explosives in this cave, and you lot will go down with it when they go off." Mars explained as she made her way to a large opening, where a helicopter had arrived to pick her up. "Good luck getting out in five minutes!"

Ash looked unusually calm as the helicopter took off. "We can't dig our way out--the cave floor is solid rock..."

An idea came to him. "Gaia, help us get out of here!"

Riley smiled as Gaia created a strong vine for the group to climb out. "A great idea...while you make your escape, we will attempt to disarm or contain the explosives."

"Thanks, Riley..." Dawn smiled as she made her way up the vine. "For everything!"

---------

"I hope Riley and Vivi found the explosives..." Danielle mused as she and Twinkle reunited with the group some time later.

Riley and Vivi materialized near the alcove the group was hiding in some moments later. "We'll see if our containment works..."

Seconds later, a blue ball filled with fire flew out of the cave, exploding in the sky. [Now THAT was some fireworks!] Kori smiled, relieved that the island was unharmed.

"Nice try, Mars!" Ash yelled in defiance to the starry sky.

Professor Carolina arrived moments later. "Cynthia told me everything." she explained to Ash before meeting with Riley.

Ash watched the uneasy discussion for a moment. "I guess this is our cue to leave..."

"Yeah...exit, stage right, to Canalave City." Danielle agreed as the group departed to the docks.

---------

"Cyrus...I am so sorry for failing to destroy Iron Island." Mars sobbed as she almost bowed before Cyrus. "I had the explosives, and hat-boy and pals right where I wanted them!"

"There, there...it's only a temporary setback." Cyrus assured Mars. "You did what you could given the circumstances, and that is more than enough for me."

"Thank you..." Mars heaved a sigh of relief.

Cyrus, meanwhile, entered another room in the Galactic headquarters. "Saturn...how is the excavation of Spear Pillar going?"

"Excellent, boss!" Saturn smiled. "Even with only a 60% scan, we have still made headway in our search for the Spear Pillar."

Cyrus smiled. "Wonderful news...our quest to create a new world will continue."

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 84a: Hold the Phione! (part 1)

"Here we are! This is Chocovine Town!" Dawn made a grand gesture to a town in the distance as the group disembarked in the harbor a few days later.

"You couldn't have picked a better site for your next Contest and my next Fantasy Stage." Brock smiled as the group made their way into town. "This place is beautiful!"

"I'll say!" Ash was equally impressed as the group strolled through a marketplace.

Just then, Dawn noticed a stand selling all kinds of merchandise depicting a small blue round-headed Pokemon. "Aw, these are cute!" she smiled as she hugged a doll of the tiny Pokemon.

Ash, meanwhile, decided to read up on the Pokemon:

"Phione, the sea drifter Pokemon. It drifts in warm seas. It always returns to where it was born, no matter how far it may have drifted."

"They say that Phione bring good luck to those who spot them." the seller explained. "If you're interested, you can go on our scenic ocean tour and see the Phione up close."

Then, something occurred to him. "In fact, every Coordinator and minstrel that visited Chocovine and saw a Phione won the Contest or Fantasy Stage they entered."

"Sounds fun!" Dawn smiled as she put the Phione doll back on the shelf. "Maybe we both could earn a little luck spotting Phione."

"I wonder what kind of song Brock would come up with starring a Phione." Ash mused as Dawn received some information about the tour.

"Depending on how much time I had to research before the Fantasy Stage, I could find plenty of Phione lore." Brock explained. "Said research would then inform how I wrote the song."

"Speaking of research..." Ash addressed Dawn again. "Have you decided who's going to participate in the Contest yet?"

"Yeah--I'm using Stormy this time." Dawn replied.

[Aw....] Kori sighed. [I wanted to go onstage with you...]

"I know...but the other Pokémon look up to you as the leader." Dawn explained. "It would mean the world to everyone if you cheer them on."

[You're right--if everyone knows I've got their back, they'll do much better!] Kori smiled, now in a better mood.

Dawn smiled back at Kori before looking over the tour brochure. "If we're going on the ocean tour, we need to be at the docks at 7 PM..."

---------

Ash was a little nervous as he came aboard a submarine that night. "Bad flashbacks of Team Rocket and their sub..."

"Relax--Team Rocket are not even here." Brock assured Ash. "This is just a scenic tour around the harbor--no more, and no less."

"I'll trust you, then..." Ash replied, a little unnerved by a trio of boys in leather jackets and well loved T shirts. Then again, delinquents are even worse!

The intercom seemed to calm Ash. "Welcome to the Chocovine Scenic Ocean Tour." the captain began. "In just a few minutes, you'll see the wealth of aquatic life that call the harbor home, including the world famous Phione. We strive to keep the sea Pokemon safe, so all the subs in our fleet are powered by powerful batteries, so as not to harm the Pokemon or their environment."

Interested murmurs filled the sub. "For your safety, please remain in the passenger area for the duration of our voyage..." the captain went on.

"Hope you brought your cameras, you two--this is gonna be amazing!" Dawn smiled. Ash nervously smiled back as he listened to the safety spiel.

After a few tense moments, the submarine dove beneath the water. While many of the other tourists on board the sub were oohing and ahing over the rainbow of corals, Ash spotted three Phione curiously swimming to one of the viewing portholes. "Hello, little guys!"

"How cute! Thank you for your gift of fortune! Thank you!" Many of the other tourist started calling thanks and praises to the three Phione as they weaved and whirled through the water.

One of the Phione noticed Lola watching with Dawn. I'm gonna find a way to get to the surface and play with that Buneary!

---------

"Okay, my rock-solid Pokemon strategist...how do you suggest I take on the Gym Leader of Snowpoint City?" Ash asked as Brock arrived with the group's breakfast.

Brock set down a coffee cup on a table, then addressed Ash. "Their Fire weakness is very well known, but they are also weak against fighting types. So Diddy and Erin are likely your best bets. Since Water doesn't bat an eye to Ice, Tails could be on standby if you lose either Diddy or Erin."

"I hate to interrupt your important discussion, but I'm off to go coord shopping for the contest." Dawn began as she joined the boys in the room. "I know there's a Prism Stardust shop here, but I mainly want to see what other brands are here. I won't be long."

"Okay if we meet in the square of the shopping district?" Ash suggested. "Then we can have lunch and look at coords together."

"Works for me! See you guys in a little while!" With that, Dawn departed.

Brock waved as Dawn made her way to a bus stop, then continued his discussion with Ash. "The only thing that may throw you off is the Leader's Medicham, which she likely put on her team to throw off Fighting types..."

To Be Continued...
 
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Interlude: The Quest for a Friend


Meanwhile, in the local park, the three delinquents from before were admiring the Phione. "It was a great idea to swipe one of these little guys!" one smiled.

"Maybe now it can bring good luck to da gang!" another one agreed.

The third delinquent noticed the Phione reaching out towards a fountain near the park bench. "Okay, you can splash in the fountain for a bit."

"Let's go find a food joint--I'm starved!" the first delinquent suggested. "We'll come back for the Phione after we've all had some grub."

The Phione watched the three delinquents depart. Now's my chance to escape these punks! it thought.

Inspired, the Phione glowed blue, then disappeared into the town's water main. Now, where's that Buneary? it thought as it drifted through the pipes.

A fork in the pipes got its attention. Maybe it's in there!

"What on earth?" a lady gasped as the Phione emerged from her kitchen sink drain. Panicked, the Phione dove back into the safety of the water main pipes.

That wasn't it... the Phione shuddered, unnerved by the lady's reaction.

Another fork in the pipes got its attention. Maybe the Buneary is here! Let's try this one! it smiled before drifting up the pipe.

In the Pokemon Center, one of the on call Chansies gasped as the Phione emerged from the sink. [Well, hello!] the Chansey smiled. [How can I help you?] she asked as she set out some fresh soap for the Happinis and guests to use.

[I'm looking for a Buneary that belonged to a black haired girl.] the Phione explained. [Have you seen her?]

The Chansey thought for a moment. [Well, a black haired girl did leave here some time ago. Her friends joined her not long after that--I believe they were going into the shopping district in town.]

Suddenly, the Phione spotted Ash, Dawn, and Brock at a bus stop. [There she is! Thank you!] the Phione smiled.

[Anytime.] the Chansey smiled back. [If you hurry, you might be able to catch up with her.]

Spurred on by the Chansey's encouragement, the Phione hurried as fast as it could out the Pokemon Center's front entrance and around the corner towards the bus stop, aware of a sleek blue, white, and silver bus approaching.

It sighed as the bus came to a stop. "And there's our ride to the Chocovine Galeria." it heard Dawn say as she got on board.

"How much for the fare?" Ash asked the driver as he came aboard.

"No fare needed--the bus system is free for all to ride." the driver replied as Brock came aboard the bus.

The Phione sighed as the bus pulled away. It's gone...I lost her...

"There it is!" it suddenly heard a voice say.

Those punks! the Phione gasped as it spotted the delinquents running up to it. They're not gonna take me as their prize today!

With that, it fired an ice Beam at the approaching delinquents, buying it enough time to escape.

---------

"Okay...are there any brands you KNOW you don't want a coord from?" Ash asked as the group arrived in the Chocovine mall some time later.

"Neither of the Cute brands." Dawn replied. "I prefer a beautiful and powerful look, so we can start with my two preferred brands--Prism Stardust and Notte Royal."

Brock located a mall directory. "According to the map, the Prism Stardust shop is close by the main food court, and Notte Royal is at the west end, nearby the Willow's store."

"If any of the main brand shops are a bust, we can always check the department stores." Dawn agreed. "For now, let's go in Prism Stardust first."

--------

"I don't think so..." Ash began as Dawn modeled a beautiful sparkling pink costume.

"A magenta may work, but that's too bright." Brock agreed.

"Definitely not." Ash winced as Dawn modeled a red Cheri blossom print costume.

Dawn's next costume was a handsome white suit with silver trim. "Mm...nah..." the boys chorused.

"The silver may be a bit too bright under the lights of the Contest Hall." Brock suggested. "Why don't we try some cooler colors?"

"Or some yellows?" Ash suggested.

Dawn emerged from the fitting room in a glittering deep blue costume. "That's a little better..." Ash smiled.

"Yeah--blue's always looked nice on you..." Brock agreed.

Both boys winced as Dawn emerged in a glittering blue and gold costume with moon trim. "Ew!" Brock winced.

"Lose the cheesy moons!" Ash agreed.

The boys smiled as Dawn next emerged in a blue, gold, and white costume that appeared to glow under the light. "Yeah! Perfect!"

"Okay...we'll keep Sapphire Glow in mind for now." Dawn smiled as she emerged back in her normal clothes. "Do you guys want to keep looking?" she asked as she gathered up the rejected coords and put them back on the racks.

"Yeah--let's keep looking." Ash replied.

"Who knows--Notte Royal or some other brand may have something even better." Brock agreed as he watched Dawn put Sapphire Glow on hold...

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 84b: Hold the Phione! (part 2)

"Personally, I think you made a great choice in Sapphire Glow." Ash smiled as the group arrived at a beach near town that afternoon. "Most of the other coords you tried on were either too boring or too flashy."

"Thanks." Dawn smiled. "You obviously don't wanna look boring, but at the same time, you don't wanna look too flashy, either. The Pokemon are the stars of the show, not you."

With that, she hurried down to the shore. "Come on out, Stormy!"

[Why didn't you tell me we were training at the beach?] Stormy smiled as she materialized on the sand.

"Maybe the beach should give us some ideas for some tropical appeals." Dawn smiled as she looked out at the surf for a moment.

She turned business-like again. "Okay, start with Electro Ball!"

Stormy conjured a small ball of electricity, using it to draw a palm tree in the air. But before she could try another trick with the Electro Ball, the Phione popped from the surf. [What the...] Stormy gasped as the Phione hurried to meet Lola.

[Hi!] the Phione smiled as it ran up to Lola. [Will you play with me?]

[Sure, we'll play!] Kori smiled before offering the Phione a fin. [My name's Kori--nice to meet you!]

The Phione heaved an Ice Beam, freezing Kori solid. [T-talk about an icy p-p-personality...] Kori shivered as Diddy hurried over to melt her.

The Phione noticed Lola and Tintri snuggling together. [Ooooh...pay attention to me!] the Phione demanded. [Let's duel for your Buneary friend! If I win, she's MY friend!]

[But why do we need to battle over a friendship?] Tintri asked, confused. [That's not how friendship works...]

The Phione was about to retort when Lola stepped between them. [Hey! I have an idea that will solve this problem.]

She told the Phione [If you really like me, you need to be battling me, not Tintri. If you win, I'll play with you all you want--I may even take you on a date, even!]

[It's a deal!] the Phione smiled.

With that, the two Pokemon charged at each other, creating a massive blue and brown dust cloud rolling about the sand. "Wait, who's making the first move?" Ash asked, confused.

"The sand's making it hard to tell what's going on." Brock explained. "Once it clears a bit, I should be able to tell if Lola or the Phione has the advantage."

Sure enough, the sand cleared just enough to see Lola charging at the Phione with a volley of fists! The Phione used Double Team in an attempt to defend, but Buneary's flurry of fists easily damaged all the copies.

The Phione next fired a rainbow sound wave, but Lola nimbly bounced over the wave. But just as she was about to connect with a kick, she discovered the Phione was gone! [Funny...where did the Phione go?]

She suddenly felt the impact of another Supersonic from behind her. [Alola oe, farewell to thee...] she sang as she stumbled down the beach in the opposite direction.

[Lola! Snap out of it!] Kori pleaded.

As if in response to Kori's call, Lola shook off the confusion, and started back to the Phione. The Phione, fired an Ice Beam, but Lola jumped away, causing the blue-white beam to hit Kori again! "Well, that's one way to cool down!" Dawn assured her Piplup as she turned on a hair dryer to melt the ice.

[N-not funny...] Kori shivered.

[Two can play at this game!] Lola smiled before firing her own Ice Beam to counter the Phione's attack.

The group watched as a massive ice floe started to form at the point the two blue-white beams met. After a few tense minutes, the ice was so big, neither side could see the other.

Dawn noticed the Phione heaving with exhaustion. "Aw...creating that big floe must've been hard work..."

She watched as Lola soared over the ice, knocking out the Phione with a powerful kick!

---------

Brock hurried to the Phione's side. "Are you okay? That was quite a powerful blow you received..."

[I think so...] the Phione wheezed. [I just have a massive headache right now...]

Brock offered the Phione a Potion. "Here...this should help with the headache, at least."

After spraying the Phione with the potion and making sure it was not badly injured, Brock smiled. "Maybe you shouldn't battle anymore for a while--so you don't get hurt again."

[Okay...] the Phione replied before walking over to Lola. [Bye, Miss Buneary...]

Lola noticed the Phione trudging back to the water. [Hey!] she called, snapping the Phione to attention. [You can come play with me again next time I come!]

The Phione smiled. [Works for me! See you soon!]

"Aw..." Ash smiled as the Phione was reunited with two other Phione in the water.

"You have to admit, that Phione was pretty cute." Brock smiled as he looked out on the sun setting beneath the water. "Let's get back to town--we have a Contest and a Fantasy Stage to get ready for!"

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 85a: Another One Gabites the Dust! (part 1)


"Stormy, use Discharge!" Dawn commanded.

Ash watched as Stormy unleashed a sparkling blue explosion of electricity and applauded. "That was cool! I'd say Stormy's gained a great deal of power thanks to Tintri's and Tarina's advice..."

[Aw, it was nothin'.] Stormy yawned. [But I'm beat...]

Dawn nodded. "Who wants Poffins?"

Satomi warped by Dawn's side seconds later. You've worked hard, Dawn...you've earned a break for right now. If you like, I can pass out the Poffins to everyone.

"Of course you can." Dawn smiled as she hugged her Gardevoir. "Thank you for being so helpful."

Satomi nodded, and went to work organizing the Poffin tray by who preferred which type of Poffin. She did not, however, see that a yellow Poffin had rolled off the tray and into the grass.

Stormy, however, spotted the Poffin. [Hey, Satomi! You missed a--!]

She gasped as a Gabite stomped on the Poffin. [Hey! That was mine!]

"Jetsam, come here!" a female voice called, prompting the Gabite to hurry over to a young peach-haired lady's side.

The group did not notice that the admins were watching from the observation deck atop a nearby building. "That girl...I've seen her before, but I can't put a name to the face." Jupiter mused.

"Let it go--we've got a spy mission to do." Mars motioned for her partner to follow her back down the stairs. Jupiter nodded, forgetting about the Gabite's owner completely.

Back on the ground, Dawn tried to intervene as Stormy and the Gabite battled. "Stormy, wait! Can't we talk this out?"

Satomi gasped in horror as Stormy jumping caused Dawn to trip and fall. Dawn!

She warped over and caught Dawn in her arms seconds before Dawn could hit her head on a tree. There...are you okay?

"Yeah...thanks, Satomi." Dawn replied.

The boys braced themselves as Stormy's front teeth glowed white and grew longer. "Super Fang!" Ash recognized the move as the Gabite blocked Stormy with its fin.

"Stormy must have just learned Super Fang from her anger in losing the Poffin..." Brock mused before finding his referee's whistle and blowing it, snapping Stormy, the Gabite, Dawn, and the girl to attention. "Okay! Can we please find a way to work this out civilly?"

The young lady smirked at Dawn. "Your Pachirisu must not have been raised well if one of your friends had to step in..."

Ash, meanwhile, read up on the blue and red dragon at the lady's side:

"Gabite, the cave Pokemon. It loves sparkly things. It seeks treasures in caves and hoards the loot in its nest."

"No wondered it tried to swipe Stormy's Poffin..." Ash mused as he put away the Pokedex.

About then, the young lady noticed the Poffin splotch on her Gabite's right foot. "Jetsam! Why did you step in something THIS close to a Contest?"

"Well, that kind of Poffin is Stormy's favorite food, and so she got mad when your Gabite stepped on it." Ash explained

"Oh, I see...let me see if I can solve this problem..." The young lady offered Stormy a deep blue Poffin. "Want a bite?"

She gasped as Stormy turned away. "No? I spend hours making these!" the young lady screeched. "Ungrateful..." she muttered.

Just then, she spotted Kori by Dawn's side. "Wait...that Piplup...were you the winner of the Wallace Cup?"

"That's me." Dawn smiled. "One of my proudest wins."

"I don't see how you could be proud of that! You had to have won by accident!" the lady screamed.

"W-were you in the Wallace Cup too?" Dawn stammered, afraid of how the lady would react.

The lady sighed. "Name's Ursula, and yes, I was in the Wallace Cup too. I tried to get some good combos, but STILL scored low in the Appeal round..."

About then, the admins happened to overhear Ursula's rant as they walked down the street. "Oh yeah, I remember Ursula--had quite the temper, and twin Gabites named Flotsam and Jetsam. I remember seeing Flotsam in the Wallace Cup." Mars mused. "So she's using Jetsam in today's Contest."

"...her win was just a fluke!" Ursula finished her rant some minutes later.

"Now wait a minute!" Ash shot back. "Dawn's win was no accident--she worked hard, and it was her skill that won her the Wallace Cup!"

"You're right! Thanks to her I started working doubly hard, to become a better, more beautiful, more graceful coordinator." Ursula sneered, making Kori shudder.

She leaned up close to Dawn. "You know, I should thank you for defeating me, Dawn. Because of you, I am where I am today!"

Tarina shuddered as Ursula let out a sinister laugh. [She's almost as bad as her Disney namesake...]

"I'm curious as to why Ursula won't let her loss go..." Ash mused as Ursula continued to humiliate Dawn.

"Sometimes, people want something so much, they will stop at nothing to get it." Brock explained. "So when they don't get it, they turn their focus to humiliating and putting down their rivals. In extreme cases, this can end up in tragedy."

[I hope this Ursula doesn't steal Dawn's voice...] Tarina shuddered as the boys started off towards the Fantasy Stage theater near the Contest Hall.

"That was just a movie, Tarina..." Brock replied.

"Besides, I'm sure Dawn knows what she's doing." Ash agreed. "If she can beat Ursula once, she can do it again!"

Dawn making a retort to Ursula's teasing punctuated Ash's point. "Oh yeah? We'll see who's the most beautiful and powerful at the Contest!"

---------

In the backstage area of the Fantasy Stage theater, Brock noticed Tarina drawing on a piece of paper. "Interesting picture...what's it of?"

[It's a picture of Dawn as Ariel.] Tarina explained, showing her drawing of Dawn as a mermaid to Brock. [I'm hoping it'll inspire her if she wins, or cheer her up if she loses.]

Brock sighed. "I could use the pick me up myself--the Creative round was a disaster. How was I supposed to make a good story starring a pessimistic sculptor?"

Tarina spotted a glimpse of the scoreboard from a window, where Brock was on the cusp of taking fourth place. [You didn't fall that far--you can rally from a narrow fifth place with a good Free Performance!]

Brock smiled as he heard his number called. "You're right...I hope 'The Hero's Sword' will be enough."

[Break both legs!] Tarina called as she watched her master make his way to the stage.

"There was a man who had a son, who lived with him." Brock began. "The man was a hunter, but as the years went by and he grew older, he got weaker and weaker, and eventually had to tell his son--we'll call him Greg--that soon he would no longer be able to hunt for him, and it would not be long before Arceus called him to the heavens. Greg tried to comfort him, and assured him he would recover; but his father said no, if his time to die was really close, he had nothing to leave him. What money they had would be just enough for his own funeral. Yet he had one thing of value to pass on to his son. It was only a sword, and badly rusty at that, but it would cut down any foe that dared harm its wielder."

"Aw"s go up as Brock continued. "Before long the father joined Arceus in the heavens, and Greg had to sell what he left in order to bury him. All that he kept of his inheritance was the rusty sword. Now he had to find work to do, and this was not easy, since he had never learned a trade, and at best could only herd Mareep. So he went to the village, and had to content himself with work as a shepherd. His master sent him out with the Mareep, and warned him to keep away from three particular meadows, which belonged to three mountain trolls. They lived on a hill known as "Troll's Mount," and if one of his Mareep were to wander to their meadow, the mountain troll would come, and not only carry off the Mareep, but their shepherd as well."

He added as an aside "But Greg knew the master only said that to scare him."

Nervous giggles wafted across the theater as Brock continued "The new shepherd promised to take good care of the Mareep, and so he did; for he never lost a single one, and his master was very pleased with him. The one day, he happened to think of his sword, and figured it might able to help him should he run into the mountain troll. So one day, he intentionally let the Mareep stray into one of the forbidden meadows, and the mountain troll, raging and roaring, rushed up to him, and asked who had allowed him to let his sheep graze in that meadow. Greg replied that he had allowed himself to do it, and when the mountain troll threatened to carry him off with his Mareep, he attacked him and slew him with his sword."

Some light applause goes up at this. "Now the first meadow was his; but not long after the Mareep felt like visiting the second meadow, and Greg let them go. The second mountain troll rushed up to him in a towering rage, and Greg slew him, too. The same thing happened with the third meadow too, and Greg came home with his Mareep, singing all the while." Brock continued.

With that, he made a few laps around the stage. The audience and Tarina clapped along as he sang "The Hearthome Pilgrim".

Once back at center stage, Brock continued "Then he got the idea to see 'Troll's Mount,' and there he found three Ponytas, a normal one, one whose mane shone bright yellow, and a Shiny one, and the Legendary Beasts, Raikou, Entei, and Suicune, as well. Each Ponyta had a saddle, and a full suit of armor as well, and they, too, were red, blue and yellow. Besides, there was food for the Ponytas, and food for the Beasts, and gold and silver out the wazoo. Greg was understandably ecstatic with all the splendor that he had discovered, and went home singing."

With that, he made a few more laps around the stage, this time singing the jig "Ash's Welcome to Pewter".

When the song ended and Brock was back in his place, he intoned "Then his master had one of the hands tell Greg that although he was very happy with him, he wished he would stop singing. Greg was puzzled--what was wrong with singing? At first, the farmhand did not want to tell him the true reason, and said that he should stop because his master said so. But Greg kept bugging the farmhand to tell him why he was not supposed to sing, and the farmhand relented, after having Greg swear to Arceus he would not tell anyone else...."

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 85b: Another One Gabites the Dust! (part 2)

Competitor #C-111389, Ursula Carroll and Jetsam. an announcer informed the crowd as Ursula, now wearing a blue, silver, and white suit outfit, stepped on the stage with her Gabite in tow.

Dawn, now wearing a red, orange, gold, and white costume that evoked Moltres, watched from the wings as Ursula told Jetsam to use Dragon Claw. Maybe Rising Ember was a better choice than Sapphire Glow... she smiled as four hearts appeared under Ursula's picture. A clash of fire and ice!

Competitor C-022619, Dawn Solberg and Stormy.
the announcer called, snapping Dawn to attention. "Let's go, Stormy." she assured her Parchirisu.

She stepped on the stage, and motioned Stormy before the audience. "Stormy, use Super Fang!"

The crowd cheered over the flash of Stormy's huge fangs, prompting three hearts to appear under Dawn's picture. Not a bad start. Dawn assured herself. Just keep an eye on what my opponents are doing, and I'll be fine.

---------

Dawn shuddered as Ursula started off the second turn by having Jetsam use Aerial Ace. Not good...Aerial Ace works great if used first! she worried as eight hearts appeared under Ursula's picture.

She took a deep breath to calm herself as she looked at the excitement meter. Say...Sweet Kiss makes those that have yet to appeal nervous. I'm on next, so if I have Stormy use Sweet Kiss, that effectively will freeze the excitement meter, and stymie Ursula's shot at maxing it!

She smiled as she returned to the stage. "Stormy, use Sweet Kiss!"

"Aw"s filled the Contest Hall as Stormy blew a kiss to the crowd, making a flurry of hearts fill the air...

---------

Dawn smiled as she watched Jetsam use Stone Edge out on the stage. Ursula went first again, so she only gets the base appeal... she thought as three hearts appeared under Ursula's picture.

An idea occurred to her. If I time it right, I can use a Charge-Discharge combo to pull ahead of Ursula, and take a narrow lead going into the final appeal. I may even max out the meter on the way!

Inspired, she confidently strolled out on the stage with Stormy for her third appeal. "Stormy, use Charge!"

Impressed murmurs and "Wow"s filled the room as the glow of Stormy charging power filled the room, making a single heart appear under Dawn's picture. That may not seem like much now, but fingers crossed I'll get a nice payoff next turn!

---------

Dawn gasped in excitement as she saw that Ursula's fourth appeal had set her up to max the meter. This is it! A chance to show Ursula my real power!

She grinned as she made her way to the stage. "Stormy, use Discharge!"

The crowd roared with excitement as Stormy discharged some rainbow sparks, making ten rainbow hearts appear under Dawn's picture, and allowing her to take a narrow lead. It worked! Now to plan my big finish, and hold Ursula off for the win!

---------

Come on, Dawn! Satomi cheered from the stands as Brock returned with a pale blue Miracle Jewel in his hands. You can do it!

"How's she doing?" Ash asked the Gardevoir as he, Brock, and Tarina found seats overlooking the stage.

It's now the final appeal--Dawn used an electrifying combo to take the lead moments ago! Satomi reported as she watched Jetsam use Dragon Rage, to some cheers over the electrically charged purple flames.

Ash spotted Dawn and Satomi arriving on the stage. "You've got this, Dawn! Give Ursula the shock of her life!" Brock whistled in agreement.

Dawn nodded back at the boys, Satomi, and Tarina, then looked at the near maxed excitement meter. "Stormy, finish this with a Spark!"

The crowd roared as Stormy used Spark to create rainbow fireworks, making twelve rainbow hearts appear under Dawn's picture. "The winner, with a commanding lead, is number C-022619, Dawn Solberg and Stormy!" Marian announced, to the roar of the crowd.

Dexter arrived with a lavender ribbon, with Keira and Jordan not far behind. "Congratulations, Dawn--you managed to rally from a bad start to create a truly electrifying show. You've more than earned this ribbon!"

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 86a: Pursuing a Lofty Goal! (part 1)

A tin whistle playing the tune "Off to Pastoria" rang through the mountain air as the group made their way around a bend in the road a few days later. Ash led the way, playing the song in an attempt to help the group's Pokemon find their masters in the mist.

A signpost snapped him from his performance. "Squallville, 50 miles..." he mused as he pocketed his instrument.

"Bout time--we haven't seen civilization since we left Chocovine and started up the Snowpoint Trail." Dawn was relieved to be approaching a town.

"While there are towns and smaller cities on the way to Snowpoint, they are very spread out, so take advantage of any civilization you can find to restock on supplies and take in the local culture." Brock smiled.

Just then, a gust of wind startled the group. "I gotcha, Kori!" Dawn called as she dove to catch her slipping Piplup.

Ash looked up to see a trail of glittering crystal rings floating in the sky. "Wow! A PokéRinger course!" he cried as a Yanmega and a Wingull raced towards the ring. The Yanmega passed through the ring first, turning the crystalline ring blue and making a 500 banner appear in the ring's center.

Brock smiled at a memory. "Remember when you faced off against the Team Aqua admin Matt, and Flit evolved during the race?"

"How can I not remember?" Ash smiled. "I still have my gold medallion--let's go check out this event!"

"Um, what is PokéRinger?" Dawn asked as she followed Ash towards a town in the distance.

"Basically, it's a race for Flying types." Brock explained. "Two Pokemon and their masters race each other through a course in the sky filled with crystal rings. Each of the Pokemon are assigned a color, and if they successfully fly through a ring, the ring turns their color and that pair earns points. The Pokemon with the higher score, wins. So you can cross the finish line first and still lose."

"Both Pokemon can still use their moves to distract or shake off their opponent, so you can also win via KO." Ash explained.

"Sounds fun--pity the Piplup family can't fly..." Dawn smiled as the group made their way into town.

---------

Daytime fireworks added a festive backdrop to the throngs of people headed for the stadium near the city square. "Hm...according to the flyers around town, the winner gets the key to the city." Brock noted as the group tried not to get pushed or shoved by the excited fans around them.

"That, and they also get the second place prize of a year's worth of food--both human food and Pokechow." Ash added.

As the group and the crowd made their way into the stadium, Ash spotted Rhonda and the Shinou News Now crew. "Today's racers have come from all over the world, but only one will fly away with the city key!" Rhonda explained. "Our flyers will have to be on their guard, because one wrong move, and they're out!"

I think I'll be okay with Estrella... Ash told himself has he approached the signup table. Besides, I've won a PokéRinger competition before, so how harder can this one be?

---------

Heat #1--Estrella vs. Sabre. the announcer reported as Estrella and a Skarmory took their places at the start line, looking out at the winding trail of rings making an ampersand shape in the clouds.

"Can the humans help their Pokemon at all?" Dawn asked as Ash, in a red chaser balloon, and a dull blonde haired boy in a blue chaser balloon waited for the two bird Pokemon to take off.

"The humans follow the Pokemon in a chaser balloon that flies itself." Brock explained. "They can give encouragement and commands, up to three of the same kind of healing items--everything short of actually flying on their Pokemon's behalf."

As soon as the start light turned green, the Staravia and the Skarmory jockeyed for position around the first two turns. Estrella elegantly flew through the first three rings, netting an easy 900 points. But Ash did not see the Skarmory knock Estrella back with Swift, allowing him to soar through the next set of rings for 1500 points.

As Estrella tried to approach the Skarmory on the large hill leading up to the start/finish line, Ash watched as the Skarmory turned around and executed a Fury Attack. "Watch out, Estrella!"

[I've got this, don't worry!] Estrella assured Ash as she wove around the Fury Attack spikes, flying through rings and earning a 2100 point score as the second lap began.

Not one to be deterred, the Skarmory passed Estrella, then fired a Sand-Attack to blind Estrella before launching Air Cutter. [WHOA!] Estrella gasped as the sand blocked her view.

As a wind gust guided her out of the cloud of sand, Estrella shook the sand out of her face just in time to see the start/finish line before her. Yeah! The final lap! the announcer called as Estrella powered ahead, earning another 2800 points on the way.

In desperation, the Skarmory attempted to attack Estrella again, but Estrella whacked her opponent away with Aerial Ace, allowing her to power up the hill and cross 10,000 points for a decisive win for her and Ash.

The winner is...Estrella. the announcer reported as Ash's chaser balloon touched down.

"Well done, Estrella..." he smiled as he hugged his Staravia.

---------

Heat #2--Altana vs. Mystic. the announcer reported as Paul and an orange haired punk took off in the chaser balloons overlooking a new course of rings that resembled a squished oval.

Brock watched a Dragonite and Paul's Honchkrow approach the line for their race. "That's Provo, a champion PokéRinger competitor." he explained, pointing out Paul's opponent. "Don't let his punk-like appearance fool you--he actually has a heart of gold." He let that hang as the light turned green, spurring the Dragonite to use Dragon Pulse as both Pokemon powered onto the course.

Dawn watched Mystic glide through the large banked turn at the top of the course for a high score. "I don't know, Mystic looks like the champion more than Altana does."

Everyone watched as Mystic slammed into the Dragonite with a Sky Attack. The winner is Mystic, by KO! the announcer reported.

Ash shuddered as Provo hurried to collect his fainted Dragonite. If Paul can flatten a Dragonite like a pancake, I shudder to find out what he'll do to Estrella!

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 86b: Pursuing a Lofty Goal! (part 2)


Final race--Estrella vs. Mystic. the announcer reported as Ash and Paul took flight over a long twisting course that even wound outside the stadium.

"You sure Estrella can handle racing on that long a track and dealing with Paul at the same time?" Dawn asked.

"Ash and Estrella didn't get this far on luck alone." Brock replied as the Staravia and the Honchkrow fluttered to the start for the race. "I believe in Estrella." He let that hang as the light turned green to start the race.

Mystic tried to knock Estrella out of the race with Sky Attack, but Estrella looped around a large turn and met Mystic in the sky with Brave Bird for 3000 points.

The attacks created a huge explosion, but the crowd gasped in horror as Estrella went into a free fall--was she too going to be KOed like so many others at the wing of Mystic?

Mystic saw the weakened Staravia, and rushed around a figure 8 turn with Night Slash. "Estrella, try to dodge with Quick Attack!" Ash called.

He heaved a huge sigh of relief as Estrella righted herself, circled over a Dark Pulse, then looped into a straightaway for even more points.

A strong gust of wind allowed Mystic to ride the wind into the second lap, powering up Aerial Ace. Estrella tried to dodge, but Mystic pushed her away as he flew into the lead.

Both bird Pokémon exchanged glares of determination before racing towards the finish line. "They're neck and neck--position wise and point wise." Brock gasped as Estrella attempted Aerial Ace, but Mystic veered away.

Ash noticed a stretch of the course with 1000 point bonus rings--and an opening to pass Mystic for the lead! "Estrella, power ahead with Quick Attack!"

"Mystic, let's end this with Sky Attack!" Paul shot back.

The crowd gasped as the massive attack connected, sending Estrella to the ground inches before the bonus rings! "How?" Dawn gasped. "It's as if Paul predicted the Quick Attack!"

"It doesn't help that Mystic's about to hit Estrella when she's already weakened from all those hard hits!" Brock warned, pointing out Mystic about to perform Sky Attack again. "If Mystic connects, it's Game Over for both Ash and Estrella!"

Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... Ash's voice echoed through the sky.

Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
Dawn's horrified look turned to joy as Estrella began to glow, turning into a black and white hawk Pokemon with a red-tipped, black crest.

Emusto koron zen fine, si...

The crowd roared as the new Staraptor took to the sky. The power of love spurs Estrella to evolve! the announcer cried as Estrella easily collected all the bonus rings.

Ash used what strength he had to read up on what Estrella had become:

"Staraptor, the predator Pokemon. It has a savage nature. It will courageously challenge foes that are much larger".

"Mystic, use Night Slash!" Paul's voice snapped him from his woozy trance.

He watched in awe as Estrella easily dodged the attacks, then raced past Mystic as both birds crossed the line for the final lap. Estrella took advantage of a straightaway to get parallel to Mystic, then attacked with a flurry of strikes!

Dawn recognized the attack. "That's Close Combat!"

Brock watched Estrella push Honchkrow back with a wing strike. "It's a Fighting type move, which is very effective against a Dark-type like Honchkrow. It's also an amazing Tough move, if you wanted to use it in a Contest."

Excited, Ash called "You're almost to the finish, Estrella! Don't give up!"

Spurred on with her master's encouragement, Estrella raced forward to the start/finish line, aware of Mystic trying to move in for an attack. "It's gonna be close..." Brock mused as Mystic approached. "It's gonna be close..."

A flash at the start/finish line got Dawn's attention. "So close they needed to take a picture..."

The crowd murmured for a moment as officials reviewed the picture and the replays from the finish line camera. After a few moments, the announcer proclaimed After review, the winner is...Estrella!

"YES!!!!" Dawn tossed her hat in the air as Estrella glided down to meet Ash...

---------

"Mystic, I'm disappointed in you..." Paul growled as he angrily eyed Ash in the victory circle. "That could've been us if you had been quicker!"

He stormed away in a huff as Ash, Tintri, and Estrella posed for a picture for the newspaper. Next, the referee arrived with a gold winged trophy, the key to the city, and a massive cooler filled with food. "Congratulations, Ash...for your courage, determination, and never giving up; you've more than earned these prizes!"

---------

Ash opened the cooler as the group settled in to camp that evening. "Whoa...since there's so much food in here, we need to eat it right away!"

"Come on out, everyone! Time for a victory dinner!" Dawn sent out her team as Brock set up the cooking gear.

Satomi hovered by Ash's side. While I don't deny you've earned the right to eat all of this, it is quite a lot for all of us to eat at once. So let's eat a little now, and save the rest.

Ash realized Satomi had a point. "All right--let's divide some of this into enough portions for all of us."

Since you are the victor today, you've more than earned a steak! Satomi smiled as she telepathically sent a steak from the cooler to Brock's grill.

"Mm...can I have cheesy potato skins with my steak?" Ash requested.

"Some for me too?" Brock requested as he went to work cooking the steak. "How do you want this cooked?" he asked.

"Medium's fine." Ash replied as Satomi warped over some potatoes for Brock to make the potato skins.

Now, what would you like, Dawn? Satomi asked.

"Some Combusken fettucine alfredo would be nice." Dawn replied. "With broccoli and mushrooms."

Done. Satomi smiled as she sent over the ingredients for the dish to a pot.

"I'll use some of the ground beef in there to make me a cheeseburger--hold the onions." Brock requested.

Satomi nodded. That seems to be enough for you three. We'll discuss dessert after your main dish is finished.

"Fair enough." Ash smiled before opening the drink cooler and fishing out a can of Fizzo. "A toast! To glory and reaching our goals!"

"To glory and reaching our goals!" Dawn and Brock agreed. Three soda cans clanked together as the group prepared to enjoy their massive meal...

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 87a: The Lonely Snover (part 1)


"...and if we round the corner right here, we should be able to see Mt. Diamant off in the distance." Brock began as the group made their way down a mountain path.

Ash balked as a large snow capped mountain came into view. "That's gotta be Mt. Diamant! Looks amazing!" With that, he snapped a picture of the glittering silvery mountain with his PokeNav.

Dawn smiled as she spotted a group of Cherrim cheerfully singing as they frolicked in the grass. "These little guys have always been cute to me..." she smiled as she watched the Cherrim dance. "Even more so after I competed against Lila..."

"To be honest, I kinda wanna dance with them..." Ash mused as he found a rock by the roadside to sit on. "Especially after being out in the middle of nowhere since my PokeRinger victory..."

After reflecting for a few moments on his PokeRinger win a few days before, Ash turned business like again. "But I can't rest on my laurels now! I am beyond ready for my battle in Snowpoint City!"

'I know--you've been talking about it non-stop for the last few days." Dawn smiled. "I'll have Satomi make you another victory feast if you win."

"You got it!" Ash smiled, savoring the memory of the steak Brock and Satomi had made him a few days earlier.

"There's still plenty of steaks left in our food haul, so I see no harm in making you another after you get badge number seven." Brock assured Ash as the group started down the path again.

But none of the three travelers realized that a creature with a white upper body and brown lower body that resembled a snow-covered tree was watching them...

---------

"Erin, Diddy, let's train!" Ash called as he heaved two Poke Balls onto a plain.

"Ready?" Brock asked as he, Dawn, Kori and Tintri watched from a small hill.

[Ready!] Diddy replied.

[I'm redy.] Erin replied with a little bow.

"Okay...three...two...one..." Some Starlies fluttered away as Brock's whistle pierced the air.

"Erin, use Aura Sphere!" Ash commanded.

[HAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!] Erin growled as she charged the familiar blue-white aura energy.

"Diddy, dodge and counter with Flamethrower!" Ash called again.

[Meet my flame aura!] Diddy taunted before jumping away from the ball of aura and heaving a wave of flames.

"Erin, dodge and try to Bite Diddy!" Ash called.

[Oof!] Erin gasped as the fire singed her face. Not one to be fettered, she lunged to bite Diddy. "I knew Erin would get stronger since she evolved..." Brock noted as Erin bit Diddy on the arm.

"The Mega Evolution ability really helps, as well." Dawn agreed as Erin threw Diddy to the grass.

Back on the plain, Ash watched as Erin let loose and backed away, allowing Diddy to get up. "Okay! We'll call the match for today!"

He smiled as Diddy collected himself. "Nice work, Diddy--your speed's improved a lot!"

He then walked to Erin, who was heaving heavily. "Well done, Erin--I was not expecting that throw."

[Was that some kind of martial art, or something?] Tintri asked.

[No--I needed a quick way to disengege.] Erin replied.

Ash noticed Erin's exhaustion. "it's okay to use your aura power to heal yourself."

[Good idea.] Erin agreed, surrounding herself with a gold aura. Once her Recover aura faded, she did not expect a wind with sparkling blue powder to come hurtling at the group. [Watch out for te--!]

A blue explosion lit up the plain, leaving the group flash-frozen in various poses of surprise, with the exception of Diddy's tail flame. The tree creature from before peeked out from behind a bush and cautiously approached the row of frozen humans and Pokemon. It giggled as it studied Ash looking oblivious, Dawn's panicked look, Brock bracing himself, Erin's warning call, and Diddy's panicked look, save for his tail flame.

It gasped as the flame melted Diddy's icy prison. [Finally, I'm out of there!]

The Snover retreated back to its bush as Diddy noticed the others in ice cubes. [Let me warm you guys up!] With that, he heaved a Flamethrower at the other ice cubes.

"What happened?" Ash asked as his ice melted away.

"I heard Erin telling us to watch out for something, and then we were frozen solid." Dawn remembered as she stepped out of her melting ice.

"Let's get going before anything else weird happens." Brock suggested. "For all I know, we could be burnt or paralyzed next!"

Ash nodded. "Diddy, Erin, return." he called. Once sure Diddy and Erin were back in their Poke Balls, he motioned for the others to follow him down the road...

---------

"So far, nothing weird's happened..." Ash mused as the group continued down the road. "Maybe things will be normal for the rest of this trip--WHOA!!!"

"I got y--!" Brock scrambled to catch Ash, only to trip on the same root Ash had tripped on, sending them tumbling down a hill.

"Maybe you two need to watch where you're g-WAUGGH!" Dawn screamed before she too tumbled down the hill.

"That's weird--there's no trees in this area, so how could we have tripped on roots?" Brock wondered as he eased himself to his feet.

He noticed two grass blades tied into a loop around his foot. "Ah ha...this is a Grass Knot, not a tree root. That means there's a mischievous Pokemon close by."

"Maybe our frozen surprise and this tripping are connected?" Dawn wondered as Brock shook off the Grass Knot.

Ash heard giggling from behind a bush. "Okay! You've got some explaining to do for freezing us and making us trip!" he vowed as he pulled back the brush, revealing the tree Pokemon.

He decided to read up on the tree Pokemon dancing before them:

"Snover, the frost tree Pokemon. Seemingly curious about people, they gather around footsteps they find on snowy mountains."

Ash did not expect the Snover to happily hug him. "Uh, hi, little guy?"

The Snover next offered Ash a white berry from its body. "Thanks, I think?" Ash asked as he took the odd white berry.

"What's going on?" Dawn asked as she and Brock watched Ash examine the berry.

"I think this mischievous Snover's actually friendly." Ash explained.

"Then why would it want to hurt us?" Dawn asked as she accepted a white berry from the Snover.

"Time to see what this odd Berry tastes like..." With that, Brock consumed his white berry.

He smiled a few moments later. "This actually tastes like chocolate--go on, eat yours!"

"Mm..you're right!" Dawn raved as she tasted her berry.

"Thanks, Snover." Ash smiled as he ate his Berry. "Is it okay if we have more to give to our Pokemon?"

[Sure--the berries grow back in a few minutes, so I can always give you more, whenever you want.] the Snover replied.

"Maybe this Snover used all the pranks so he could stop someone and share its fruit with them." Brock mused as he sliced up his new Berry.

"Well, it didn't have to go that extreme..." Ash sighed, making the Snover blush.

---------

That night, Ash smiled as the Snover eagerly dug into some frozen vegetables. "You like that, huh?"

Snover is part Ice, so you don't even need to cook for it--it will just eat the vegetables frozen. Satomi arrived as she brought the Snover some more frozen vegetables.

"Well, we're gonna head to bed here in a minute..." Ash started as he cleaned up his place. "We have a big day tomorrow...."

He noticed tears forming in the Snover's eyes. "Well...okay, you can spend the night; and join us for breakfast too!"

[Oh boy!] the Snover cried. [Are we gonna sing campfire songs and tell scary stories and play campfire games and...]

Dawn giggled as Brock located his guitar and started tuning up. "I see no harm in a sing along and some stories."

[I know what song we should start it with!] Tintri suggested. He waited for Brock to finish tuning, then whispered the song's name to Brock.

Brock nodded at Tintri's request, then started a brisk melody in G. I'll walk in the rain by your side
I'll cling to the warmth of your hand...


To Be Continued...
 
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Interlude: The Warmth of Friendship


"Okay...who wants to start the storytelling for the night?" Brock asked as the last chord of "Yellow Submarine" echoed across the mountaintops.

"The Snover would probably like the Moltres story..." Ash suggested.

"I plan to tell a version of the Moltres story--we just need to figure out if we should tell that first, or let one of you tell first." Brock replied as he checked his guitar's tuning.

"I'll start!" Dawn volunteered, prompting the Snover to glance at her intently.

After thinking for a moment, Dawn began "In a certain land lived a king and queen who had three sons, the youngest of which was named Shane."

[That's a nice name.] the Snover smiled.

"Now, one day the king and queen went for a walk in the royal garden--something they often liked to do when the weather was nice." Dawn explained. "Suddenly, a great storm blew up, and by the time it died down, the queen was gone."

[Where did she go?] Kori asked, a note of fear in her voice.

"The king was heartbroken, and mourned a long time for his lost wife." Dawn continued with a nod assuring Kori all would be well. "The two eldest sons, seeing their father’s sorrow, asked for permission to go look for their mother. The king said okay, and they set out early the next morning."

"So, what adventures awaited these fine heroes?" Brock asked as he continued writing down the tale Dawn was telling.

"The two sons traveled for a long time, until they came to a vast desert, where they made camp, and waited for someone to come guide them through the sands." Dawn continued. "They waited for three years, but no one came."

She went on "Meanwhile, Shane had come of age, and he too went to his father and asked to go search for his mother. He wandered for a long time, until he found his brothers' camp. Shane suggested they travel together, and they all left early the next morning...."

---------

"...The next day three weddings were celebrated--the eldest son took the princess of the golden kingdom; the second son chose the princess of the silver kingdom, and Shane settled with the princess in the crystal kingdom." Dawn concluded some time later. "He kept the magical ruby with him, where it led him and his brothers on many more adventures."

She smiled at her enthralled companions. "But that is another story for another day!"

Ash led the applause. "That was actually an interesting story...it's not very often the elder brothers are forgiven."

"Yeah, if they aren't outright killed, they are thrown in the dungeon or banished." Brock agreed as he checked over his writing.

"While you look over your notes, I'll start the next one." Ash volunteered.

[Can it be about a brave hero that kills a dragon Pokemon?] the Snover asked.

Ash smiled. "I don't see why not."

He thought for a moment, then started the first dragon-slayer tale to come to mind. "This is a dragon slayer story that Brock has set to music." he explained to the Snover. "You could say it's his signature song.

With that, he started the story. "Long ago, while the king of a distant land was away at the battlefield, his wife, the queen, gave birth to twin sons. There was great rejoicing throughout the court and messengers were dispatched to the king to tell him the happy news." he begins over a calm melody. Both boys were healthy and strong, and grew up quickly like little trees. The one who was oh-so-slightly older was the hardier of the two. Even as a child he was always playing in the courtyard and struggling to climb on the back of a Ponyta that had been given to him when it was just a baby."

[Aw...] the Snover smiles, its eyes shining as it pictures a baby Ponyta....

---------

"..."The king and all the court were greatly disappointed; but their disappointment was swallowed up in their joy that the princesses had been miraculously saved." Ash went on some time later. "It wasn't long before Brian revealed himself as the hero to Princess Christina, but that only made her love for him deeper, and they were married not long after."

He concluded "Brian went on many more adventures with Epona, but that is another story for another day!"

Brock smiled as he led the applause. "If we have time, I'll be sure to sing the song, too."

He retrieved his guitar, then told the group "But now it's time for the main event--the tale of Moltres."

With that, he began "The king of a certain land had a beautiful garden which contained a number of very rare trees, but the rarest one of all was a Leppa tree. It stood in the middle of the garden, and produced shining crystal Leppa Berries every day. In the morning the flowers bloomed, during the day the fruit grew and ripened, and before nightfall, the berries were fully ripe. The next day the same thing happened, and this cycle would occur like clockwork every day. However, no Berries were left on the tree the following day. No one knew how, when, or why they disappeared, and this deeply grieved the king..."

To Be Continued...
 
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Episode 87b: The Lonely Snover (part 2)

Dawn stretched as she emerged from her tent the next morning. "Mmm...a nice and sunny day..."

The Snover, meanwhile, snatched away Diddy's Pokechow bowl. [Hey, that's mine!] Diddy protested.

[Okay, okay...here you go.] The Snover assured Diddy as it handed back the bowl. [I was just playing with you!]

Ash grinned as Diddy resumed eating breakfast. "Our Snover must like playing practical jokes..."

"Well, if you're gonna play jokes, just be sure they're funny but safe." Brock smiled as he started packing away his cooking gear and the camping gear. "Go round everyone up--we need to be on the road in case the weather catches us off guard."

Ash nodded. "Finish up, everyone! It's time to go!"

After receiving each of the empty Pokechow bowls, Ash performed a mental headcount on his team. Okay...Tintri's here on my shoulder...Tails, Diddy, Gaia, Estrella...where's Erin?

A crowd of Sneasel, Noctowls, Meditites, Delibirds and Swinub snapped Ash to attention. [As soon as Moltres heard her master’s voice; she shook her featers, making tem shine brighter tan ever.] he heard Erin say. [She danced in her cege, and sang so beautifully, te king was immediately healed, and it was as if a gret weight had been lifted off his heart. Moltres again burst into song...]

He listened in awe as the Lucario sang Gatrandis favel, secret, edena....
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
Emusto koron zen fine, si...


Applause went up from the Pokemon. [Tis so moved the king tat he jumped from bed, and embraced te disguised prince out of sheer euphoria and gratitude.] Erin went on.

Ash recognized the story Erin was telling. This is 'Moltres' Song!' I can't just interrupt her performance, but then again, we have to go...

He heaved a relieved sigh as Erin finished the tale. [And so, Prince Brian married te beautiful Christine, and te king gave him half te kingdom as a wedding present. When te time came for te old king to join Arceus in heaven, Prince Brian ascended to te throne, and lived happily with his beloved Christine for many years.]

The wild Pokemon and Ash applauded. "That was very good, Erin!" Ash smiled as he, Dawn, Brock, and the Snover emerged from the brush. "But why did you decide to venture all the way out here?"

[A curious Sneasel wished te hear te Moltres story.] Erin explained as the wild Pokemon romped away. [So I tried to perform te fast version, because I heard ye callin' tat it was time te g-AAH!]

Ash gasped in horror as Mars locked Erin and the Snover in a cage. "Thought you could hide from us on a mountain top, Hat-boy?" Mars smirked as she hooked the cage to a winch connected to a hot air balloon.

"Tintri, try to break the cable with Thunderbolt!" Ash called.

"Need I remind you that winch rope is electricity proof?" Jupiter called down to Ash from the balloon's basket. "So your Pikachu's not gonna help here!"

Ash's heart pounded as he contemplated his options. "Erin, use Aura Sphere to destroy the cage!"

He smiled as Erin's attack blasted the cage open, causing a balloon the admins borrowed to descend. But his smile turned to shock when he saw Erin lose her footing and tuumble towards the ground! "ERIIIIIIIIIIIIN!!!!!"

[I'll save you!] The Snover created a massive root with leaves, creating something soft for Erin to land on.

Ash led the others to the root. "I'll see if Erin's okay while you guys save the Snover!"

Dawn raced up the hill, making sure to keep the balloon in view. "Snover! Jump!"

[B-b-but I'm scared...] the Snover stammered.

"It's okay, I'll catch you!" Dawn held out her hands to catch the Snover. "Trust me, okay?"

About then, Erin came to. [Te little Snover's been nice to us, and I can't let those Galactic rogues Poke-nap it!] she growled as she gingerly stood up.

The Snover's cry for help seemed to renew her strength, much to the group's surprise! [Hear my name and tremble, you rogues! I am one of many Pokemon owned by te greatest Pokemon Master in te world, and I will not stand te see a friend Poke-napped!]

Dawn watched in amazement as Erin unleashed a mighty war cry, causing her to glow blue-white. "Wow--Erin used her aura power to regain her strength!"

Ash baled as Erin's claws began to glow and sharpen. "What in the world?"

Brock watched Erin clambered onto the side of the cliff in an attempt to track the balloon. "Erin is using Rock Climb--that should give her a hand in catching the admins!"

"Come on, Erin!" Ash cheered as Erin leaped and bounded over the cliffs, easily matching the height of the balloon. You can do it!"

Erin growled as the admins tried taking the balloon up higher. [Trying te run awey, are we? I'll go to te end of te world te save tis Snover, or die tryin'!"]

With that, she made a flying leap from the cliff, slashing the balloon with a mighty explosion! "Talk about packing a punch..." Ash noted as Erin landed by him seconds later.

Dawn gasped when she saw the Snover hurtling to the ground. "Oh no!"

Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... Brock began the Swanna Song as Erin jumped onto another cliff.

Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
At this line, Erin gained a rainbow aura as she made a desperate leap to catch the Snover.

Emusto koron zen fine, si...

Erin dropped Snover into Brock's arms seconds later. [I got him.] she replied.

"What matters...is...the Snover...is safe..." Brock wheezed, tired from using his Swanna Song. I used...my Swanna Song...to help you..."

Ash hurried to Erin's side as she collapsed on the ground, exhausted. "Erin...that was a brave thing you did." he began. "I'm so proud of you!"

[Yeah, thanks for saving my life back there!] the Snover agreed as Ash massaged the winded Lucario...

---------

Later that afternoon, a crowd of kids gathered around the group. "What's that tree Pokemon with you?" a boy asked.

"What did you all find?" A woman Ash assumed was the children's teacher arrived some minutes later. "I see...you've all found a Snover."

"If it likes someone, it will offer one of the Berries growing on its body, which tastes like chocolate." Brock explained.

"The berries grow back in a few minutes, so you never have to worry about running out." Dawn agreed as the Snover offered the woman a Snoverberry.

The children cheered as the teacher accepted the berry and cut it in slices for them to enjoy. "You're right--it does taste like chocolate!" a girl raved as she bit into her share.

"Thank you, Snover; for giving us a sweet treat." the woman smiled.

She asked the group "Are any of you trainers?"

"I am!" Ash smiled as he watched some of the children and the Snover hurry off to play.

"I'm a Pokémon Coordinator, actually." Dawn replied.

"And I'm actually a Loremaster." Brock explained as he tuned his guitar in preparation to sing for a group of children.

"Have you arrived for the Sandalstraw Town Contest and Fantasy Stage at all?" the teacher asked. "It's only a few days away."

Dawn remembered something as Brock tuned. "Brock...would you mind if we tried each other's events for a change? So I would be competing in the Fantasy Stage, and Tarina gets her wish to compete in a Contest."

"Good idea!" Brock smiled. "We should get there in a day or so, and the festivities begin a few days after that."

Ash found the Snover resting under a tree. "We have to go tomorrow...but with your new friends, you shouldn't be lonely anymore."

[Don't worry--I'll be their bestest friend ever!] the Snover giggled before hugging Ash one last time...

To Be Continued...
 
Sayaka miki, Magical girl of justice
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Huh. I think perusing a lofty goal was a win for Ash that wasn't there from the cartoon. Although, what I think is more surprising would be if Paul didn't throw away his Pokemon like he did to Chimchar in the cartoon. And if I remember correctly, Paul in the cartoon was meant to be a way the writers could question Ash about the way he trains Pokemon right? And was also basically the embodiment of competitive trainers at the time of Gen 4s release.
 
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According to Bulbapedia, Ash did win in the real episode--I just tweaked the nature of the competition from a kind of game with a ring to a race.

In planning this, I wanted Ash's team to mirror my actual team in Diamond, where I started with Chimchar. This meant that Paul giving Ash Chimchar wouldn't work if Ash got Chimchar to begin with--so I worked around this by having Paul keep his own Chimchar, and replaced Turtwig with Ash's own Chimchar--Diddy.
 
Sayaka miki, Magical girl of justice
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Huh. I see, and I will need to check Pokemon tv for the sinnoh episode list again. Because I did not watch the sinnoh series in a long time.
 
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Episode 88: Stopped in the Name of Love!


"Come on out, everyone!" Dawn called as she heaved her four Poke Balls skyward. "Even though we're not competing in the contest this time, that still doesn't change that we need one more Ribbon to enter the Grand Festival!"

She looked over as Kori ran to meet her and tripped. "Are you okay?" Dawn asked as Kori tried to get up, only to fall again.

"Well, fancy seeing you guys all the way out here!" a familiar voice smiled.

"Oh, Danielle, hello!" Dawn smiled as Danielle arrived in the yard. "It's been a while!"

"It has..." Danielle smiled. "Are you planning to enter the Sandalstraw Contest? I'm here because the Fantasia is going to be performing as part of the festivities."

Dawn was about to answer when she saw a pale blue aura form around Kori. "What in the..."

"Kori is starting to evolve into Prinplup." Barry explained as he joined the group in the yard. "A lot of Pokemon do this before the evolution happens."

The group watched as Kori braced herself, making the aura fade away. After a few minutes, she collapsed on the grass. "Let's take Kori inside--a sudden collapse could be something serious!" Brock motioned for the group to follow him inside..."

---------

"Is Kori okay?" Dawn asked as Nurse Joy met the group in the lobby.

"Kori's all right--she only needs to rest." Nurse Joy assured Dawn. "All the tests for more serious diseases came back negative."

"That's a relief..." Dawn smiled as she was reunited with Kori.

"However, I would still keep an eye on her just to be sure she has not contracted anything." Nurse Joy cautioned.

"Okay, then--thank you!" Dawn smiled as she departed.

She located the others enjoying dinner in a lounge near the on site food court. "It's still a bit of a shock that Kori is at the brink of evolution..." she mused as she found an empty seat at the table.

"I'm not surprised, considering how well you take care of her." Barry assured Dawn.

"It's nice that your Piplup is about to evolve, but the path to becoming Empoleon is only harder from here." Danielle cautioned. "And that's even if Kori wants to evolve in the first place."

"Prinplup is double the size of Piplup, meaning you'll have more to show off in Contests." Barry agreed.

"You'll also to adapt your battling style too, just like I adapted when Diddy evolved into Monferno." Ash added.

Dawn smiled as she contemplated what her friends had said. "It's like Satomi becoming Gardevoir---so how hard can this be?"

Brock watched as Dawn got up to get some food for herself. "Satomi evolved due to a combination of love and a Legendary's concern. Kori's attempt at trying to stop the evolution process may mean that Kori may not want to evolve at all."

"You mean, Pokemon that evolve due to experience can refuse to change too?" Dawn asked as she returned with a taco platter.

Brock nodded. "If a Pokemon doesn't want to evolve, that is their choice and their right. It might help if you try to get Kori's side of the story as to why she doesn't want to evolve."

Ash realized Brock had a point. "Pokemon may not want to change for many different reasons--Tintri refused to change because he felt he could surpass a Raichu in Pikachu form. Maybe Kori feels the same way."

Dawn thought for a moment. "Maybe I do need to talk to Kori...any suggestions as to how to have the talk?"

"Emphasize that you will not force them to evolve--and that evolution is their choice and their right." Brock suggested.

"Try to frame the discussion as you wanting to learn their rationale for not evolving." Ash suggested. Don't try to convince them why evolution is the way to go--their mind's likely made up already."

"You also don't want to tell them to 'let the evolution happen'." Danielle agreed. "That one phrase will come across as you not caring about their decision to not evolve. It may also ring down the curtain on your friendship."

"The last thing I want is Kori mad at me..." Dawn shuddered as she gathered up her trash. "At any rate, thanks for the tips, guys. I'll let you know how our discussion goes."

"Anytime." Brock smiled as he watched Dawn depart to the group's room.

"Moving on---would you guys be interested in helping me practice for the show?" Danielle asked.

"Whoa there--I don't sing." Barry protested.

"Relax, you can read the role of the king--he doesn't sing in the show." Danielle assured Barry as the group cleared the table.

"What part can I play?" Ash asked as he gathered up the trash.

"I'd be happy to play the role of a minstrel, if there is one." Brock offered.

"Come to think of it, there IS a minstrel in the show." Danielle grinned. "I'll give you all the context you guys need once we find a space we can rehearse in."

"The lounges should be a perfect stage!" Ash suggested as he followed Danielle, Brock, and Barry into a large lounge at the end of a hallway.

---------

"...She learns from one of the royal battlemages that the princess has been kidnapped by a Hydreigon, and the king is appealing for help far and wide for any hero that can rescue her." Danielle explained as her Alolan Ninetales Twinkle gave the boys their scripts. "The archer volunteers for the quest, alongside the battlemage she befriended, one of the royal knights, and the royal minstrel, who can sing magic in his song."

"Easy roles, for Dawn, Brock, and me; if you need understudies!" Ash smiled, excited.

"The king tells the group that the only thing that can kill the Hydreigon is the titular artifact, which was said to be forged from eight mystical jewels." Danielle concluded. "So, we'll start with the song conveying the archer's and the minstrel's loyalty to each other."

[Soundtrack is ready.] Twinkle reported as she inspected a large radio on a table that would be standing in for an orchestra.

"Track 5, please." Danielle requested.

Twinkle hit the PLAY button on the radio's CD player, making an ethereal melody drift into the room. In the wind, the flowers sway... Brock sang along with the male singer on the CD.
In the sky, gentle clouds float...
In the sea, the sun sparkles on the water...
And in my heart, my song rises anew...

In happy times, we'll touch the sky together...
Danielle sang along with the female singer on the CD.
In sad times, I want to dry your tears...
Our friendship will transcend time...
The heroes have been gathered here!

No matter what trials may befall us,
A triumphant voice rings across the battlefield!
Brock continued over the male singer.
That's a sign of the gratitude I have for my friends!

Some frantic footsteps spurred Twinkle to stop the CD. "Dawn's coming...and it doesn't sound good..." Ash mused as he set his script down on another table.

Dawn burst into the room moments later. "Forgive me for interrupting the rehearsal, but Kori's gone!"

"Gone?" Danielle asked.

"See, I was trying to talk to Kori about why she didn't want to evolve." Dawn explained. "I did everything you guys said to do, but she bolted outside in tears!"


"Let's go find her, and calm her down!" Ash suggested as he and the others followed Dawn outside into a forest.

"It makes sense why Kori was exhausted earlier--she was using Bide to stop the evolution process; which also burns a lot of energy." Brock mused. "We have to find her before a predator finds her in that weakened state!"

"Flora, help us find a lost Piplup!" Barry heaved a Poke Ball skyward as the group approached a fork in the forest path.

"We'll check to the south!" Ash called as he and Brock took a south path. "Meet back here in an hour!"

Just then, Dawn spotted a familiar aura coming from the north path. There she is..Kori has to be there!

---------

Dawn emerged from the brush and gasped when she found Kori stuck in a web, still glowing from the evolution aura. "Kori! I'm here to help y-!"

She gasped as an Ariados appeared. she rolled away from the sludge that red, gold, and purple spider Pokemon fired at her, desperately trying to reach a bush.

[Keep away from her, eight-legs!] Kori snapped as she heaved a Bubblebeam at the Ariados.

The attack freed Kori, sending her flying at a rock. "I gotcha!" Dawn leaped to catch her falling Piplup. "Are you okay?"

[I'm fine...but we're not out of the woods yet!] Kori replied, pointing out multiple Ariados about to fire a massive Hyper Beam!

Before Dawn could react, Kori fired a massive white beam at the crowd of Ariados! "Wow...what was that?" she asked as she cradled her exhausted Piplup.

[That was a Bide attack.] Kori wheezed. [You remember how you protected me at Lake Verity? I wanted to do the same for you. I shouldn't have to change to keep getting stronger. I can get stronger just the way I am.]

A smile formed on Dawn's face. "This is what I was trying to tell you before--if that message came across the wrong way, I'm sorry."

"There she is!" Ash and the others arrived moments later. "Is Kori okay?"

Dawn nodded. "I calmed her down, and told her I wasn't trying to force her to evolve or anything. She's happy just the way she is.

Barry smiled, relieved Dawn and Kori were okay. "Although...what was that massive white flash we saw before we found you?"

"That was Bide." Dawn explained as she rejoined the group. "It's a move with a decent appeal score, but you move later on the next turn...

---------

Back at the Pokemon Center, Nurse Joy delivered the group their teams. "Here you are, everyone--good as new!"

Ash gasps in surprise as Gaia glowed in his arms, transforming into a small, light green bipedal Pokémon with roses on its hands. "Well...at least one of us gets to see an evolution." he admitted as he read up on what Gaia had become:

<b>"Roselia, the thorn Pokemon. It shoots sharp thorns as projectiles at any opponent that tries to steal the flowers on its arms. The aroma of this Pokemon brings serenity to living things."</b>

"Speaking of evolution...I have something for you, Dawn." Nurse Joy offered Dawn a small rock with dot-like bumps on it. "This is an Everstone--it can prevent a Pokemon from ever evolving at all."

"Thank you..." Dawn replied as she carefully buried the Everstone deep into Kori's feathers.

She looked over at Danielle. "If you still need to practice for your big show, I can join in rehearsal, if you want me to."

"Well, you can join me and some of my fellow performers in a singing game..." Danielle offered. "Would you like to do that?"

"Yeah!" Ash and Dawn replied at nearly the same time.

"Me too." Brock smiled.

"I'll just work on appeals in the yard..." Barry stammered before dashing off, not wanting to sing again.

---------

"Okay...in this exercise, we're gonna explore one of the more important vocal skills that also applies to actors as well as musicians--making sure your voices blend well as a group." Danielle explained as she welcomed Ash, Dawn, and Brock to a large, open lounge in the Pokemon Center, where several other boys and girls were quietly talking.

"Welcome back, Danielle..." a boy smiled. "Now we can get started with the vocal improv."

"Not yet--I still have to explain the rules to these three--okay if they join in?" Danielle asked the group.

Affirmative murmurs wafted back in reply. "We're gonna do what's called a vocal improvisation." Danielle explained. "Starting with a single note, we'll sing something based around that note, and keep the resulting melody going for as long as possible. There's no one 'correct' note or melody you have to sing--whatever would sound good to you, the people around you, and the overall melody."

"I've got a pitch pipe to give the starting note..." Brock offered as he fished his guitar pitch pipe from a pocket in his bag.

"Ooh, it's one of the nice chromatic ones!" Danielle smiled when she saw the tiny silver instrument in Brock's hands.

"Chromatic pitches are nice to have when you play in alternate tunings or use capos often." Brock agreed. "D okay for the starting note?"

"Works for me." Danielle replied as Brock set the pitch pipe. "Remember--the goal is to keep a nice melody going for as long as possible--not reproducing dots on a page."

"Right!" Ash replied as Brock blew a D note in the direction of the performers to signal the key of the improv.

Once everyone was ready, Brock started singing a droning bass line that evoked a string bass, snapping in time to his gibberish vocals to establish a beat. Danielle harmonized a third above Brock's singing and snapping, with Dawn harmonizing a third above Danielle. Inspired, Ash decided to sing some nonsense lyrics that mimicked a harmonica, spurring the other performers to add in more layers of jazzy harmonies, and even using the furniture as percussion...

To Be Continued...
 
Brock's Pikachu
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Episode 89: Old Rivals, New Tricks


In an open field not far from Sandalstraw Town, Brock, Dawn, Tintri, Tarina, and Kori watched as Danielle walked Ash through the basics of a stage sword fight. "Ash must be a natural at this..." Brock smiled as Ash parried Danielle's attack in slow motion.

"Uh, Dawn? Shouldn't you be focusing on the Contest tomorrow?" a voice asked.

Dawn whirled around to see Barry approaching the group. "Actually, I'm going to compete in the Fantasy Stage while Brock competes in the Contest."

"What?" Barry gasped. "Never knew you moonlighted as a storyteller..."

I thought it would be fun to see what Brock experiences in the Fantasy Stage, and he get a taste of a Shinou Contest." Dawn explained.

"Okay...who's he using in the Contest?" Barry was intrigued.

Dawn gestured to Tarina. "This is Tarina. She's special to Brock, and is--as far as I know--the only Pichu with a costume."

Barry smiled. "She looks very regal in that cape and hat--perfect for a Contest!"

He noticed Ash and Danielle finishing their stage fighting lesson. "Looks like the battle's over, for now."

"Remember, you are NOT trying to defeat your opponent, and they are NOT trying to kill you." Danielle reminded Ash as Twinkle gathered up the prop swords and put them away. "Your goal is to create the realistic illusion of fighting for your life, and do it safely."

"Got it." Ash replied.

"You can take a break for now--we'll have an acting lesson next." Danielle then hurried off to set up her next lesson for Ash.

"While I'm on break, got any ideas for what you want to tell in the Fantasy Stage tomorrow?" Ash asked Dawn.

"Not really..." Dawn confessed.

"There should be a library in town." Barry suggested. "There should be plenty of stories you can pick!"

"I've got some time before my next lesson, so I can take you there to get some story ideas." Ash offered.

"Sure." Dawn smiled. "If we don't find anything there, I can always ask Brock for ideas!"

---------

"Got yourself a story you want to tell?" Brock asked as she and Ash returned from the library with a pile of folktale books some time later.

"I have it narrowed down to 'The Grepa Vine' or 'The Celestial Harp'." Dawn replied.

Brock thought for a moment. "Both of those are fairly challenging, but I'll let you in on a secret--you only really have to memorize your first line and your last line."

"Sounds easy enough, but what about everything in between 'Once upon a time' and 'And they all lived happily ever after?' Dawn wondered.

"Protip: Learn the story as a whole rather than in fragments." Brock grinned. "One way to do this is simplify its structure to a simple outline of scenes. Again, don't try to memorize it, but if you have to memorize SOMETHING, make it your first and last line."

Okay--what else?" Dawn asked as she reached for a piece of paper to take notes.

"Dialog should make use of different voices for different characters." Brock explained. "This does not necessarily mean have an arsenal of voices like I do, but at least adjust your tone of voice to suit each character."

"I'll leave the mimicry to you, then." Dawn smiled as she wrote down what Brock had said.

"You can also use your voice to create the atmosphere or tension as the story progresses." Brock went on. "Have you noticed that I tend to vary my tone of voice and volume to fit what is going on in the story's world?"

"Yeah--I can tell when you're about to do a jump scare when you suddenly get very quiet--AND THEN GET VERY LOUD!" Dawn proclaimed, startling Tarina.

[That's about right...] Tarina giggled.

"While the voice is the most important instrument a storyteller has, gestures and facial expressions add much to the visualization of the story." Brock went on. "Be sure they are appropriate and natural. Practice is key!"

"Got it!" Dawn smiled as she copied down Brock's advice...

---------

The next day, Dawn located Barry watching Danielle and Ash performing an acting exercise in a field. "Barry? Would you mind being my test audience so I can practice for the Fantasy Stage?"

"Sure, I'll listen." Barry replied as Dawn stepped on a pallet of empty crates. "When you're ready."

Dawn took a few deep breathes to calm the Beautiflies in her stomach, then started her story. "There was once a wealthy farmer who had three sons. The oldest--whose name is not important--was a selfish and overbearing fellow..."

In the field, Danielle explained to Ash. "One common exercise we use to think about characters is to think about how Pokemon would act. Sometimes, this can be used as a lesson in comedy. Other times, it's an exploration of character, which is the slant I'm taking."

She looked at Tintri watching the unfolding lesson from a tree. "So, how do you think Pikachu would act? The goal is to not mimic a Pokemon, but portray character traits and emotions inspired by Pokemon."

"Okay..." Ash thought for a moment. "Pikachu is energetic...joyous...happy...adventurous...courageous..."

He noticed Satomi watching him, unaware of Dawn performing for Barry a few feet away. "Gardevoir is calm, relaxed, doesn't anger easily, wise...sensitive to others' needs..."

"Both of those are good descriptions." Danielle smiled. "Now, let's put those descriptions into practice by improvising a musical scene--we'll just make up the tune, the words and the reason for the song. Try to complement me as best as you can!"

"Need a note to start?" Brock asked as he retrieved his pitch pipe from a pocket.

"Any key's fine." Danielle replied.

"Okay, here's an E for you..." Brock then blew an E note in Danielle's direction.

[Isn't your guitar pitch pipe always set to a mi anyway?] Tarina asked as she looked through what Contest coords Brock had acquired.

Brock nodded. "So long as the low mi is in tune, you can use that to tune the other five strings."

In the field, Satomi watched Danielle's and Ash's improvised performance in awe. Every heart has desires hidden deep within... Danielle sang.

Furious sparks fly between this clash of dark and light! Ash sang back in reply.

He grinned back at the starry eyed Gardevoir watching him. As I wield my blade I head into the unknown tomorrow...

It seems as though it's encouraging me, this beautiful light...
Danielle sang back in reply.

Is this going to end in just a dream?
Wouldn't it be like unrequited love?
both Danielle and Ash sang together.
Dreams exist so we can fulfill them
And we will find them!


Applause snapped both Danielle and Ash from their heroic poses. "That was great!" Brock raved.

Bravo! Encore! Satomi agreed as she applauded.

Satomi's cry snapped Dawn to attention. "Satomi? Were you wanting to compete in a Contest?"

Uh, no...I was cheering Ash on in their little play before... Satomi replied. But I do wish you the best of luck in the Fantasy Stage!

---------

Later, in the Contest Hall, Marion revealed the theme for the Visual competition. "You're aiming for a gaudy look this time."

[That should be easy!] Tarina smiled as she bounded backstage.

Brock--now in a green and white outfit with silvery knotwork--explained to Tarina what was about to happen. "When Marion gives the signal, quickly pick out five of the Accessories in here, and I'll put them on you. The gaudiest Pokemon, wins."

Tarina braced herself as the number 60 appeared on the clock. "Ready...set...GO!" Marion called, sending the backstage area into a flurry of activity as the coordinators hurried to dress their Pokemon...

---------

In the Fantasy Stage theater, Dawn sighed as she made her way to the stage for the Free Performance. That Creative round was a disaster... she sighed as she saw her ID number towards the bottom of the scoreboard. How was I supposed to know how to make a story about a devout minstrel?

She sighed as she stepped onstage, the lights making the silver studs on her purple and blue costume glitter. Here's hoping 'The Grepa Vine' salvages my score!

With that, she swallowed hard and began "There was once a wealthy farmer who had three sons. The oldest--whose name is not important--was a selfish and overbearing fellow. The second--his name is not important either--was a weak hearted young man who always did everything his brother suggested..."

To Be Continued...
 
Brock's Pikachu
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Episode 90a: The Path to Stardom (part 1)

"So how did trading places in each other's events go?" Ash asked as he met the others in one of the Pokemon Center's TV lounges.

"Not as bad as I feared--'The Grepa Vine' salvaged a bad start, so I ultimately finished third." Dawn replied as she admired her bronze Fantasy Stage medallion.

"Tarina did very well, so that eased the sting of Barry edging past her for the win on the last appeal." Brock replied. "She was a little nervous in the Visual, but easily won over the crowd in the Dance competition, which gave us a good start in the Appeal competition."

[I'm just happy I even got to be in a Contest.] Tarina smiled as she admired her reflection in Brock's silver medallion. [What matters is we tried our best.]

Dawn nodded in agreement. "Well, I have a new appreciation for what you do in the Fantasy Stage, Brock--you have a real gift as a storyteller, musician, and actor."

"Well, if you have some stories from Shinou I could learn and tell, please don't hesitate to tell them for me." Brock replied as he stretched out on a sofa and invited Tarina onto his chest. "I'm also doing research as well as performing, so I can learn as much about a region's lore and traditional music as I can, and how it's connected between regions."

How fascinating. Satomi smiled as she warped into the room with a tray of snacks for the group to enjoy.

Some frantic footsteps got Ash's attention. "What in the..."

"Danielle!" Dawn gasped. "She looks like something terrible happened!"

"You're right--I do have a huge problem on my hands." Danielle breathlessly explained as Satomi guided her to a chair. "You remember that I said that the Fantasia is here to put on a show as part of all the Contest and Fantasy Stage festivities?"

"Yeah...what about it?" Ash wondered.

"Here's the problem--the actors slated to play my co-stars in the show have all had to drop out for one reason or another, and their regular understudies can't come to Sandalstraw due to other commitments." Danielle explained. "My question is, can you three learn the roles for the battlemage, the knight, and the minstrel in 'The Celestial Wizard's Bow'?"

"Sure!" Ash smiled. "I'd be happy to put what you've been teaching me to good use."

"Sounds fun." Dawn smiled. "I'd love to improve my acting skills..."

"You need a minstrel--I'll be there." Brock smiled before motioning to Tarina he needed to get up.

"Okay then!" Danielle smiled, relieved the show would go on.

She remembered three scripts in her bag, and gave them to the group. "Here you go--your role's lines are highlighted. You have a week to learn all your characters' lines, songs, and acts."

Tarina smiled as Brock looked through the minstrel's script. [At least the costume crew won't need to make you a costume--you have your own!]

A changing screen gave Brock an idea. "Maybe I should get out my Fantasy Stage costume..." he mused as he opened his bag and took the now familiar purple, red, and gold outfit out.

"If anything, it should get you more into character." Dawn agreed as she helped Ash arrange the lounge's furniture into a suitable practice space...

---------

The Festival Theater hummed with activity as people arrived to watch the Fantasia Company's show a week later. Brock was already in costume, warming up on his guitar as he watched the audience take their seats from the wings. "All right...since Brock has his costume already, only you two get costumes for the show." Danielle, now in a green ranger's garb, smiled as some of the costume crew brought over a costume that resembled a Final Fantasy red mage and a set of prop chain with a pale green sheen, complete with a winged tiara.

"Nice, I get to be a red mage." Ash smiled as he accepted the beautiful red, white, and gold outfit.

"Love the winged tiara..." Dawn smiled as she accepted the pale green chain.

Brock motioned for Tarina to come to him as Ash and Dawn hurried to change into costume. "Okay, Tarina...while you don't really have any lines or songs in the show, you get to dance, and you get to fight. We come on not long after the narrator sets the scene and Danielle finishes her first monologue--I do the Dance of the Raindrops, which stuns Marya--as she has never seen a minstrel sing magic before..."

[So you're effectively singing the water on the stage?] Tarina asked.

Brock nodded. "It's not real water--just cool lighting effects to look like it is raining. Anyway, once Danielle's character tells me she's going to the royal city, I'll whistle for you..."

"...all you really have to do is sit on my shoulder like always." Ash explained. "Our first scene is in the royal castle. I tell Marya--Danielle's character, and Leo, Brock's character--that Princess Eliana has been kidnapped by a Hydreigon, and the king is appealing for help far and wide for any hero that can rescue her..."

"...then once Brock's character and Ash's character affirm their support for Danielle's character, we come on." Dawn explained to Kori as she slipped on a silver tiara similar to hers on Kori's head. "All you have to do is mirror my movements and look brave--can you do that?"

[Sounds easy enough...] Kori smiled as she and Rio admired each other's headgear.

[Do the songs and the dances have proper names?] Tintri asked Danielle. ['Song of X' and 'Dance of the X' sounds boring!]

"Yes, and no." Danielle explained. "They are called 'Song of X' and 'Dance of the X' on the program to make it easy for the cast and the audience to follow. On the soundtrack of the show, the songs and the dances get proper names. So Leo's first appearance, for example, is called 'Singer of the Rain' on the soundtrack."

[That makes sense.] Tintri mused as he bounded on Ash's shoulder to await the start of the show.

The lights flashed a five minute warning, snapping the group's teams to attention. [It's starting!] Tails gasped as the lights went down.

Good luck, everyone... Satomi smiled as she hovered to the wings to watch. Make Danielle and the company proud!

---------

The orchestra began a majestic overture that evoked a time of magic, high adventure, and epic quests. "Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a brave young ranger named Marya." a narrator began. "Marya made a living guiding travelers through the eastern forest; but one day, she began to wonder what lay beyond the forest. She decided to travel to the royal city, where she hoped she would find an opportunity to be known as a great hero..."

[Blah blah blah...] Diddy sighed as the narrator continued speaking. [When are we gonna see some cool dungeons and dragon Pokemon to slay?]

[Be petient.] Erin replied as she watched Danielle say her first lines onstage. [Ye always have te set up te story befar ye tell te excitin' part.]

[Speaking of exciting parts, I think Brock's on!] Tails called as the sound effect of thunder played and "rain" began falling onstage.

"Rain?" Danielle mused as she watched the "rain" falling around her. "The sky was clear moments before..."

The orchestra struck up a mystical melody moments later. Brock appeared in a spotlight, singing some nonsense gibberish, playfully skipping, jumping and twirling through the "rain", to the awe of Danielle, the Pokemon watching backstage, and the audience...

To Be Continued...
 
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