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Fanfiction Pokemon Shine Diamond

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by WavePearl, Feb 14, 2018.

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    WavePearl

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    Episode 15a: A Gruff Act to Follow (part 1)


    "Are you gonna stay and watch my match?" Ash asked as Paul departed the Gym.

    Paul chuckled at this. "Me, watch you lose, Wonder Boy? Get real."

    "I am NOT gonna lose!" Ash shot back. "And stop calling me 'Wonder Boy'!"

    He heaved a relieved sigh when he heard Brock's whistle. "All right, you two, break it up!" Dawn stepped between Ash and Paul and pushed them away.

    "You've already battled Ash once, so there's no harm in staying and watching." Dawn explained to Paul.

    Paul raised an eyebrow as the black haired girl before him. "Who are you?"

    "You don't remember me?" Dawn gasped. "Maybe if you saw my team, it would jog your memory a bit!"

    Brock blowing his whistle again snapped her to attention. "Okay, let's find a place to calm down." Brock led Dawn away to an empty classroom. "Once you're calm and Paul is ready to talk--if he even wants to talk--we'll work this out so that both parties are happy."

    "Come on, spectators are always welcome to stay and watch." Roark assured Paul from the Pearl side of the arena.

    "Okay...I guess I'll stick around." Paul mused. "This should be entertaining."

    "Let's go!" Ash charged into the Diamond side of the arena.

    "Actually..." Roark interjected. "My team's been through a tough battle--can you wait until tomorrow?"

    "Okay!!" Ash smiled. "Rest up well, 'cause I'm bringing my S game!"

    ---------

    Meanwhile, the Galactic admins strolled down the walkways in a museum. "Those dolts have been getting on my nerves!" Jupiter grumbled as she trudged through the natural history wing. "Not to mention Mr. Balladeer is as every bit as clever as the heroes in the tales he tells! So how do we get our revenge on them?"

    "If we're gonna properly get our revenge, we need to figure out interesting facts about Pokémon first." Mars assured her comrade. "This way, we kill two Pokémon with one stone. We get our revenge on Hat-boy and friends, and also get some info on creating a new world!"

    A large mass of coal got the admin's attention. "Wow..." Jupiter gasped. "Imagine the fire you could make with that big a nugget!"

    "Are you two searching for something specific?" a voice asked, startling Jupiter from her thoughts.

    "Um..." Mars hesitated.

    She then told the brown haired man "We've heard rumors you guys have a fossil restoration machine here. Is the public allowed to see it?"

    "Of course." the man smiled. "I'm Kenzo, one of the researchers that helped design our fossil restoration machine. It's based on the famous one in Pewter City."

    "Fascinating!" Mars smiled.

    Kenzo motioned for Mars and Jupiter to follow him. "The Oreburgh Museum is split into two main areas." he explained. "One is the exhibit area, where the public can go. The other is the research wing. That's where we study prehistoric Pokémon and their abilities to learn more about them."

    He went on "The fossil restoration machine is one of the few places the public can go in the research wing..."

    ---------

    Back in the Oreburgh Pokémon Center, the boys huddled on a couch to discuss strategy. "Okay, my rock-solid Pokémon strategist...how should we approach Roark?" Ash asked.

    "Well, Gaia is the only one of your Pokémon who has an advantage against Rock types." Brock cautioned. "But since she is young, she may not be enough."

    "Gaia for sure..." Ash mused. "Sandshrew can learn Brick Break...and Tintri knows Disarming Voice and Iron Tail. Both of those are effective against Rock types."

    He got up from the couch. "So my lineup is Gaia, Tintri, and Terra, with your permission."

    "Sure--I'll be happy to lend Terra to you." Brock replied as he gave Ash Terra's Poké Ball.

    [How come I don't get to fight?] Estrella sighed. [I wanted to fight too!]

    "I'm sorry, Estrella, but you'd get your wings clipped against a Rock type." Ash replied. "Maybe next time. I'll be up against a type you can beat."

    [Okay--I'm holding you to that promise if it's a type I can beat!] Estrella smiled.

    "First time I've heard you say your Staravia's name right..." Brock smiled.

    He turned business-like again. "Keep in mind that Paul's victory over Roark was due to the speed of his Pokémon."

    "Got it--I have to figure out what I've gotta do." Ash smiled.

    "All you have to do is do what I did, Wonder Boy." Paul interjected as he approached the couch. "Hit'em hard, and keep on pounding until they yield."

    "Raw power isn't everything!" Ash shot back. "You have to have strategy too!"

    Just then, a boy ran up to Paul. "Thanks for the Azumarill, sir!"

    "Not a problem, kiddo." Paul smiled.

    Ash recognized the Azumarill the boy was leading away. "You just GAVE Nerida away??? One loss shouldn't be the end of the road! You could've continued working with her, and make her even stronger!"

    "The way I see it, Wonder Boy, Nerida was never going to get any better." Paul replied. "My goal is to win, and if a Pokémon can't deliver, I'll find a Pokémon that will!"

    "I want to win too, but I don't want to win like you do." Ash protested. "If your Pokémon are happy and loved, they'll win for you many times over!"

    "Suit yourself, Wonder Boy." Paul smirked before departing.

    Ash growled in frustration "One day, Paul...your strategy of raw power is going to cost you..."

    "Let it go, Ash--that's just how Paul is." Dawn began. "Every trainer trains differently, and if this is what works for Paul, great."

    A thought occurred to her. "Although...sometimes I wonder what Surge and Goku think of Paul..."

    ---------

    "That was so cool!" Jupiter smiled as the admins departed the museum that afternoon. "We need to steal the fossil restoration machine! Lord Cyrus would be unstoppable with an army of ancient Pokémon!"

    "Remember when Kenzo showed us the machine?" Mars cautioned. "He said the restoration process takes a day to complete."

    "So? We can steal more fossils while we wait on the one to finish!" Jupiter grinned.

    "Next question: Where would we find fossils?" Mars interjected. Jupiter just sighed in defeat...

    To Be Continued...
     
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    Episode 15b: A Gruff Act to Follow (part 2)


    "...And representing the Diamond side, Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town!" Cole announced as Ash faced Roark on the Diamond side of the arena.

    "Now it's time for you to see some real battling!" Ash smiled down at Paul.

    "Show me what you've got, Wonder Boy." Paul smirked as Roark summoned Crystal.

    "What?" Dawn gasped as the Cranidos appeared in the arena. "I thought Roark was going to save Crystal for last, like he did with Paul."

    "Gaia, here we go!" Ash heaved a Poké Ball skyward. "Start with Mega Drain!"

    Brock smiled as Gaia leaped into the air, creating a green aura around her. "That was a smart move on Ash's part. Draining Crystal early should give him an advantage."

    "Crystal, use Headbutt!" Roark commanded.

    The group watched as Crystal leaped into the air and slammed Gaia in the stomach with Headbutt. "That had to hurt..." Brock noted as Gaia hit the ground.

    "Crystal, time for our secret weapon!" Roark smiled. "Flamethrower."

    Ash gasped in horror at the wave of fire headed for his Budew. "Gaia, try Double Team!"

    He heaved a sigh of relief as the fire hit a few Gaia copies. But his pulse quickened as Crystal slashed away the other copies with a claw. "Gaia, try Energy Ball!"

    "Way to go, Ash!" Dawn called as Crystal went flying against the Pearl safety barrier.

    Ash saw Crystal charging at him with a glowing blue head--a sign the Cranidos was about to use Zen Headbutt. "Gaia, try another Mega Drain!"

    Both attacks collide, causing a massive explosion. When the smoke cleared, Ash's heart sank when he saw Gaia had fainted. "Gaia is unable to battle. This match goes to Pearl." Cole announced.

    "You did well, Gaia--get some rest." Ash sighed as he recalled the exhausted Budew.

    He looked over at his faithful Pikachu. "You're up, Tintri!"

    [Let's do this!] Tintri squeaked as he skittered into the arena.

    "Electricity's not gonna work here, so start with Brick Break!" Ash called.

    "Crystal, dodge and use Zen Headbutt." Roark countered.

    Ash grinned as Tintri intercepted the charging Cranidos with Iron Tail. The force of the attack sent Crystal backwards into the safety barrier again. "That should finish Crystal!"

    [Oh yeah?] Crystal countered before charging at Tintri!"

    "Tintri, try to dodge and use Disarming Voice in the air!" Ash called.

    He gasped as Crystal jumped to meet the Pikachu in the air, hitting Tintri and canceling out the attack. Jao wiisha--! Tintri attempted to sing, only to be knocked to the ground by Zen Headbutt.

    Paul was unimpressed by the match unfolding before him. "If he calls that real battling, I shudder to find out what fake battling is..."

    Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... Tintri's tiny voice rang through the Gym, snapping Paul to attention. "Then again, maybe Wonder Boy's got what it takes!"

    ---------

    "Tintri, use Quick Attack!" Ash called.

    "Crystal, counter with Flamethrower!" Roark urged his Cranidos.

    Ash smiled as Tintri weaved around the flames and delivered an Iron Tail to Crystal's head. "All right!"

    "Crystal's still in it despite being hammered like that?" Dawn was impressed.

    "That's the Rock type for you." Brock mused. "They can take quite the licking and keep on ticking in the right hands.

    Ash gasped when he heard Roark's next order. "Crystal, use Head Smash!"

    "Tintri, Disarming Voice at full power!" he almost screamed to his Pikachu, aware of the Cranidos barreling at Tintri.

    Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... he heard Tintri sing as Crystal smashed into him seconds later. The sound waves melded with the impact, causing a massive explosion.

    Tintri came crawling back from the smoke after a few tense minutes. [I did what I could...]

    "That you did, bud." Ash replied before finding the Poké Ball Brock had lent him. "Terra, let's go! Start with Brick Break!"

    "Crystal, use Flamethrower!" Roark countered.

    Terra, rolled away from the Flamethrower and bit down hard on Crystal's arm.

    She gasped as Crystal threw her off with Zen Headbutt! [WHOOOOOOAAA!!!!]

    Roark watched as Tera went flying into the Diamond safety barrier. "Crystal, use Flamethrower!"

    Ash gasped in horror as Terra was engulfed in flames! "Terra, if you can, use Brick Break again!"

    This time, Roark gasped as Terra's attack sent Crystal crashing through a rock. "Crystal is unable to battle--this match goes to Diamond." Cole announced.

    But no one expected Terra to collapse in exhaustion seconds later! "Diamond has no more usable Pokémon--Pearl wins." Cole smiled.

    Paul smirked as Ash went to retrieve Terra. "You call that 'real battling', Wonder Boy? That would win an award...for Best Comic Acting, that is!"

    To Be Continued...
     
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    WavePearl

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    Episode 16: Wild in the Streets!

    "Keep it up, you guys!" Ash smiled as Tintri charged to perform an Iron Tail on a coal pillar. "You're doing great!"

    [HI-YAH!] Diddy heaved an Ember at a coal pillar of his own.

    [Easy as pie!] Gaia smiled before hurling a flurry of Razor Leaves at a coal pillar.

    "Ash isn't letting the fact he lost get him down..." Dawn smiled.

    "It may hurt to lose in the heat of the moment, but he's often raring to go again after a day or so." Brock replied. "Sometimes even sooner than that."

    He balked when he saw Tintri, Diddy, and Gaia shatter coal pillars at the same time! "Nice job, everyone!" he called as he applauded.

    [Thanks...] Diddy smiled.

    "You guys look like you're enjoying yourselves." Dawn amiled as she applauded.

    [Ash knows how to make the slog of training fun.] Tintri explained.

    Lola hurried over with a tray of water bottles. [You guys have been working hard...have some water.] she smiled as she nuzzled Tintri.

    "You realize that two of your three Pokémon have a disadvantage against Roark, right?" Dawn asked as the Pikachu, the Chimchar, and the Budew took a break. "Are you sure you don't need to call Professor Oak for advice? I can even lend you Kori, if you'd like...."

    "I appreciate your concern, but I think I'll be okay with what I've got." Ash assured Dawn. "Besides, Paul won with type disadvantages..."

    "Okay..." Dawn smiled. "I'll trust your ability."

    "If you like, you can train against my team." Brock offered. "Since it resembles Roark's Pokémon by type."

    "While you guys are training, I'm gonna head back in and brush up on dances and appeals." Dawn replied.

    The end of a Contest show on a TV got her attention. Attention, coordinators and Loremasters! The next Pokémon Contest and Fantasy Stage is in Floaroma Town!

    ---------

    "We got it!" Mars smiled as she and Jupiter made their way out of town with one of the fossil revival machines. "Next step is make an army of fossil Pokémon!"

    "Well, did you remember to get any fossils on the way out?" Jupiter asked.

    "No..." Mars replied.

    "Then how are we gonna get an army if you didn't get any fossils?" Jupiter asked.

    "You were supposed to remind me!" Mars shot back. The two admins continued down the road, arguing all the while:

    "I DID remind you--multiple times!"

    "I don't recall you reminding me!"

    "Yes, I did!"

    "No, you didn't!"

    "Yes, I did!"

    "No, you didn't!"

    "Yes, I did!"

    "No, you didn't!"

    A bling brought the argument to a screeching halt. "Revival 100% complete..." Jupiter read on the status screen.

    The doors on the machine opened with a PSHHHHHHHHHH.... "Wow...an Aerodactyl..." Mars gasped at the ancient pterodactyl-like Pokémon as it flexed its wings a little.

    Excited, Jupiter heaved a Poké Ball at the Aerodactyl. "Poké Ball, go!"

    She gasped as the Aerodactyl climbed from the machine and soared into the sky. "I have a bad feeling about this..." she mused as a bright yellow aura formed around the Aerodactyl.

    "Hit the dirt!" Mars called as the glowing Aerodactyl streaked at the two admins. The attack missed them as they dove on the ground.

    "What was that?" Jupiter asked as she started to get up.

    "I don't know, but I'll find out what that attack was on GalacticNet." Mars replied as she found a PokeNav and typed something. "The last thing we want right now is for people to get hurt!"

    ---------

    Brock watched as Terra rolled away from a wave of weakened Razor Leaves. "Getting there, but Terra was still able to evade that."

    "I've been thinking about my loss yesterday..." Ash mused as he shepherded Gaia back to him. "Roark's Pokémon were fast as well as able to counter raw power. So instead of pounding away with raw power like I did, I need to have a more tactical approach."

    "That's the spirit!" a voice interjected. "If you can defend against my tactics, you'll have a badge in no time."

    "Roark?" Ash gasped as Roark met him and Brock on their makeshift battlefield. "What are you doing here?"

    "I was on my way to the mine to find some more fossils, and overheard a little of your conversation." Roark explained.

    A rock with the imprint of an Omanyte shell inspired him. You know...if you've been to the museum before, you likely know about our fossil reviving machines. This was how I got Crystal."

    "Really?" Ash asked.

    "She was the first fossil to be revived with the first machine." Roark went on. "The demand for fossil revival got to be so big, they added two more..."

    ---------

    Dawn smiled as Lola fired an Ice Beam, creating a flurry of frozen bubbles. "Nice job, you two." she smiled.

    An otherworldly screech got her attention. "What in Arceus' name is THAT?" she cried as the Aerodacytl soared overhead, firing Hyper Beams in every direction.

    She gasped when she saw the pterodactyl Pokémon coming for her. "Hit the deck!" she called, shielding Kori and Lola as another Hyper Beam whizzed over her head.

    Once sure the coast was clear, she fumbled for her Pokédex to read up on the ancient Pokémon:

    "Aerodactyl, the fossil Pokémon. This vicious Pokémon is said to have flown in ancient skies while shrieking high-pitched cries."

    "Oh my..." she gasped.

    "Flash! A wild Aerodactyl is running rampant in the city!" a TV announcer explained. Shots of people fleeing for their lives played across the screen as the announcer went on. "Police are advising people to evacuate if possible."

    Dawn watched in awe as the TV screen displayed some scientists trying to corral the Aerodactyl. "I hope the boys are all right..." she mused.

    She continued watching the news report in disbelief. Who would do something like this? And why?

    ---------

    "Roark!" a miner gasped as the group and Roark arrived at the mine. "I don't know if you've heard the news or not, but a wild Aerodactyl is loose in the city! Officer Jenny was just on TV telling everyone to evacuate if they can."

    Officer Jenny and the scientists all heaved a sigh of relief when they found Roark and the group. "Roark, am I glad to see you." Jenny smiled as the scientists ran to corner the Armaldo and the Kabutops. "Think you could summon Crystal to help us?"

    "Sure...Crystal, distract these wild Pokémon with Flamethrower!" Roark commanded as he summoned his Cranidos.

    [We wanna help too!] Tintri called as he motioned for Terra to follow him. But before they could attack, the Armaldo and the Kabutops sent them flying back!

    [Thank Arceus...] Terra smiled. She watched Crystal used Zen Headbutt, freezing both Pokémon in their tracks.

    "We'll take these, thank you!" Jupiter smiled as she and Mars grabbed all three Fossil Pokémon!

    ---------

    "Tintri, use--!" Ash started.

    "I wouldn't attack yet." Roark cautioned. "Both the Fossil Pokémon and the revival machine are both at risk." He let that hang as the Aerodactyl fired a Hyper Beam, freeing all three Pokémon and knocking down the machine.

    Mars watched as the scientists recalled the Armaldo and Kabutops. "That attack again!" she gasped as a familiar aura formed around the Aerodactyl. "It's called Giga Impact!"

    "Whoa!" was all Brock could see as the force of the Giga Impact sent Crystal and the group flying against a wall.

    Ash watched in fear as the Aerodactyl charged another Hyper Beam aimed at him! "Tintri...if this is the end...I love you." he whispered as he hugged his Pikachu and braced himself for the end...

    Furiya, shuru shamato... sang a familiar voice.

    Ash gasped as an Aerodactyl with clear black spikes all over its body emerged from a column of rainbow light. "No way! "Roark can use Mega Evolution too!"

    Dawn arrived soon after. "No way! Roark induced his own Aerodactyl!"

    "That I did." Roark grinned as he watched Lola and Kori intercept the Hyper Beam with Ice Beam and Bubblebeam.

    "Thanks for saving my life..." Ash smiled as Dawn helped him up.

    "Anytime." Dawn replied before instructing Lola and Kori "Be ready for anything, okay?"

    "I'll have Cassie cover your Piplup and Buneary, okay?" Roark assured Dawn. "That's short for Cassiterite."

    Dawn watched as Roark's Mega Aerodactyl shielded Kori and Lola. As the Aerodactyl flew in to perform another Giga Impact, Lola and Kori spun past the attack. Lola managed to kick down the Aerodactyl, allowing a scientist to catch it.

    Roark spotted Mars and Jupiter fleeing down a hill. "Go get them, Crystal!"

    "Actually, we'll take this!" Mars sneered before firing a net missile to capture Crystal.

    "CRYSTAAAAAAAAAL!" Roark screamed.

    Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... Brock sang.

    Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
    Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
    Roark watched in amazement as Crystal glowed a bright white. The net snapped as she became a large grey dinosaur creature with sapphires embedded in her body.
    Emusto koron zen fine, si...

    "Did your friend's Swanna Song evolve Crystal into Rampardos?" Roark gasped as Ash hurried to tend to Brock.

    Dawn smiled as Crystal ran after the admins. "We know how special Crystal is to you, so Brock appealed to Arceus directly to rescue her."

    Crystal, meanwhile, had caught up to the admins. After snatching away the revival machine, she used Zen Headbutt to send the admins flying.

    ---------

    "I have to ask you...where did you get a Mega Ring?" Ash asked Roark later that evening. The news on the TV was now showing what had happened earlier that afternoon.

    "It was a gift from my dad." Roark explained as he showed Ash the opal ring on his left hand. "You'll likely meet him on your journey--he runs the Gym in Canalave City. Since we share a bond as father and son, we both share a Heart Song."

    "Cool!" Dawn was impressed.

    "Is it okay if I battle you again tomorrow?" Ash asked Roark.

    Roark chuckled. "If you and your friends saved the city, you've earned yourself a rematch many times over!"

    To Be Continued...
     
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    Episode 17: O'er the Rampardos We Watched...


    "Roark..." Ash began as he met Roark in the Gym foyer the next day. "I wish to try again for a Badge. After our last match, I thought about what you said about tactics. So I'm ready to try again with a new strategy in mind."

    "Well, there's no limit on how many times you can challenge a Gym Leader, so you can try as many times as you like to beat me." Roark replied. "I'll be waiting in the arena."

    "Okay!" With that, Ash hurried off to the Diamond entrance tunnel.

    A smile formed on Dawn's face as she rejoined Brock. "You thinking what I'm thinking?"

    "Yeah--we cheer Ash on somehow." Brock replied.

    "I know just the thing we can do to cheer Ash on--but I'll need your help to do it." Dawn explained.

    "All right--whatever you want me to do, I'll do it." Brock replied.

    ---------

    "Wow!" Brock applauded as Dawn emerged from a dressing room. She now wore a beautiful orange and white dress-like costume with matching accessories. "You look every bit like an idol! A Contest idol!"

    "I like that!" Dawn giggled as she caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror. I hope my song inspires Ash in this match!

    Kori and Lola emerged from the dressing room some moments later, in miniature versions of Dawn's costume. [Why do we have to wear this floofy outfit?] Lola complained. [It ruins my fur!]

    [This was Dawn's idea, not mine.] Kori sighed. [Besides, it's only for a few minutes. Can you deal with that?]

    [I guess...] Lola sighed, seeing she didn't have much of a choice.

    "Backing track's ready and tuned to a key you can hit." Brock reported as he hit the button to close the CD player. "I've tuned this to A minor, up from the original E minor."

    "Thanks." Dawn mused. "I may be able to sing alto, and some girls can even sing tenor, but I can't go that low."

    "Dawn and the Sunshines inspiring rendition of 'Glory in Our Story', take 1..." Brock grinned as he hit PLAY on the CD player, as Ash stepped into the Diamond side of the arena.

    The song beginning spurred Ash to look up at a large catwalk above him. "What in the..." he gasped as Dawn, Kori, and Lola danced along to the song's pounding beat.

    We all have a dream inside our hearts that we will follow to the end... Dawn sang as she danced to the music.
    When you make a wish upon a star, the power flows, inside of you!
    Everybody listen to this song and sadness will just disappear!
    My wishes, dreams and hopes go forth into the world...


    ---------

    "Tintri, use Quick Attack!" Ash called over Dawn's singing and the music.

    "Sterling, counter with Slam!" Roark commanded.

    Tintri leaped away from the Onix's charge, allowing him to climb onto the rock snake's body. Annoyed, Sterling unleashed a hypersonic cry, but Tintri managed to brace himself.

    Sterling growled in annoyance as he squirmed around the rocky arena, but Tintri held on as hard as he could. "Now's your chance! Use Iron Tail!" Ash called.

    He grinned as he saw the silver flash of the attack and Sterling's roar of pain. "Okay, dodge the next attack and do that again!"

    [Okay!] Tintri smiled as he spun away from a Double-Edge, then charged another Iron Tail. Sterling swerved away from the Pikachu's shining silver tail, caught Tintri, and slammed Tintri on the ground.

    "Sterling, use Stealth Rock." Roark smirked.

    Ash watched as the rocks formed in the arena. "You know what to do, bud?"

    Tintri nodded, and took a deep breath. Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...

    "What was that?" Roark gasped as he watched the sparking red sound waves destroy the floating rocks."

    "You've shown me your Heart Song already, so it's only fair I show you mine." Ash replied.

    He turned business-like again. "Tintri, use Iron Tail!"

    "Sterling--!" Roark started, but the KA-WHANG! of Tintri's attack clued him in that his Onix was down. "Well played." he smiled as he recalled his Onix.

    "Well done, bud." Ash smiled as Tintri romped off to the sidelines for a well deserved rest.

    He heaved another Poké Ball into the arena. "Diddy, let's go!"

    ---------

    ...Come with me and we will see the wonders of the world!
    All of the glory, is in our story!
    Dawn sang as Ash summoned Diddy into the arena.

    As we make our way to heaven, take it step by step
    And get the glory, upon the great stage!

    We can go anywhere, so long as we're together
    I truly believe it with all of my heart...
    The cards here in my hand,
    Show you the way...


    "Diddy, try Fury Swipes!" Ash commanded his Chimchar.

    [Whoa!] Diddy gasped as he jumped away from Diana using Rollout.

    "Okay, new plan--try Double Team!" Ash called, aware of the Geodude rolling towards Diddy.

    He smiled as Diana hit a copy of Diddy. The real Diddy attempted to use Brick Break, but Diana's rocky hands blocked the attack. Oh, no... he thought as Diana slammed Diddy to the floor with Seismic Toss.

    A smile formed on his face as Diddy leaped away from Diana's second attempt at Rollout. "You've got this, Diddy! Use Brick Break again!"

    Roark didn't seem fazed as Diddy's attack connected. "You're doing very well so far, what with your cheerleaders up there." he smiled as he acknowledged Dawn, Kori, and Lola dancing and singing on the catwalk. "But are you ready for your final test?"

    "Bring it!" Ash replied.

    "Crystal, here we go!" Ash swallowed hard as the now Rampardos rammed into Diddy with a Headbutt...

    ---------

    We all have a dream inside our hearts that we will follow to the end... Dawn sang as she watched Ash summon Gaia in the arena.
    When you make a wish upon a star, the power flows, inside of you!
    Everybody listen to this song and sadness will just disappear!
    My wishes, dreams and hopes go forth into the world...


    "Gaia, try Energy Ball!" Ash almost screamed as Crystal came charging at Gaia.

    Gaia rolled away from the Rampardos, then charged a large green ball of light. "Good work!" Ash called as the green light ball knocked Crystal away. "Now use Razor Leaf!"

    "Crystal, burn it with Flamethrower!" Roark called.

    Ash gasped in horror as Crystal rammed Gaia. "Don't give up!"

    [I'm okay...I have Synthesis, you know.] Gaia assured her master from inside a pale green aura.

    Ash noticed a wave of flames headed for the healing Budew. "Gaia, watch out!"

    Sweat started forming on his brow as his heart pounded. What do I do now? All I can do is defend myself! Crystal is way too fast, and Flamethrower will negate any Razor Leaf thrown at it!

    An idea occurred to him. "Gaia, start running while using Razor Leaf at the same time!"

    He watched as Crystal heaved another Flamethrower. But Gaia kept running, generating new leaves all the while.

    I see...Ash is trying to camouflage his Budew with the burned leaves... Roark mused. "Crystal, use Zen Headbutt!"

    The Rampardos charged forward, but Gaia jumped away. Crystal jumped, too, but she did not see Gaia rolling under her!

    "We've got this! Razor Leaf at full power!" Ash called.

    We can go anywhere, so long as we're together
    I truly believe it with all of my heart...
    Dawn sang as the whorl of leaves battered Crystal.
    The cards here in my hand,
    Show you the way...


    "Crystal is unable to battle...Diamond wins!" Cole announced as the song ended.

    Roark applauded Ash. "I see you took my lesson on tactics to heart. But I have no qualms about losing to you. You were strong, and I was weak. That's all there is to it."

    He offered Ash the rock shaped badge as Dawn went to change out of costume. "Here...you've earned this. Go on and shout out your victory from the rooftops, if you'd like."

    Ash nodded as his companions arrived. "I got a Coal Badge!"

    To Be Continued...
     
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    #24 WavePearl, May 2, 2018
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
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    Episode 18: Twice Smitten, Once Shy!

    "Aw!" Dawn smiled as she spotted a pale blue and white squirrel-like Pokémon. "Pachirisu live in this forest!"

    Ash decided to read up on the squirrel Pokémon that was brushing its tail on a stump:

    "Pachirisu, the EleSquirrel Pokémon. It makes fur balls that crackle with static electricity. It stores them with berries in tree holes."

    "I'm gonna take a crack at catching this little cutie!" Dawn smiled. She heaved a Poké Ball skyward. "Kori, Peck the Pachirisu!"

    She balked as the Pachirisu kissed Kori on the cheek, sending her stumbling about the field. "Okay, new plan..." Dawn mused as she recalled Kori. "Lola, use Dizzy Punch!" she called as she heaved her other Poké Ball skyward.

    [Hah!!!] Lola screeched as she charged at the electric squirrel in a flurry of fists. But she didn't expect to be meat by a shower of sparks!

    [I think you need to chill!] Lola taunted before firing an array of Ice Beams in an attempt to freeze the Pachirisu. The Pachirisu cartwheeled away from all the beams and discharged a massive thunderbolt! "Talk about a shocking personality..." Ash wheezed as the others coughed up char from the attack.

    "I'll say..." Brock agreed.

    Dawn noticed the Pachirisu heaving with exhaustion. "Kori, use Bubblebeam!"

    She smiled as the wave of rainbow bubbles knocked over the tired Pachirisu. "Poké Ball, go!" she commanded as she heaved a Poké Ball at her target.

    "One...two...three..." Brock counted the wiggles before seeing the light at the Poké Ball's center dim. "You got it, Dawn."

    "YESSSSSSSSS!!!" Dawn cried as she ran to retrieve her Poké Ball.

    "Nicely done." Ash agreed as he looked over Pachirisu's Pokédex info some more. "Now you have an opportunity for both Cool and Cute appeals, since a lot of Electric moves are Cool themed."

    "Would it be safe to argue Dawn is a cute themed coordinator?" Brock interjected. "Think about it. Piplup can have Beautiful and Cute appeals. Buneary has mainly Cute appeals, and now this Pachirisu with both Cool and Cute appeals."

    "It doesn't matter if I specialize in one type of appeal type or not. All that matters is that my team makes people happy and they win contests, right?" Dawn interjected.

    She looked at the Poké Ball in her hands. "I think I'll name you...Stormy."

    The group did not notice Mars skipping down the forest path near their camp. Over the river and through the woods, to Pokémon hunt I go...

    ---------

    "Stormy...use Thunderbolt..." Dawn mumbled as she slept, lost in a dream of winning a contest with Stormy. "Thank you...it is indeed an honor to earn this ribbon..."

    She woke up with a yawn to find Stormy sleeping on a nearby stump. "Sweet dreams, Stormy--you and I are gonna win a lot of Contests together."

    Stormy gave a contented squeak in reply. Dawn decided to lie awake for a few moments, savoring the twinkling stars above her. I wish I was a Grand Coordinator... she thought as a shooting star streaked by.

    ---------

    ...Come with me and we will see the wonders of the world! All of the glory, is in our story! Dawn heard Ash singing as she woke up the next morning.

    "I'm glad my rendition of your favorite song inspired you..." Dawn smiled as she emerged from her tent brushing her hair.

    "Oh, it did!" Ash smiled as he continued doing martial arts poses in time with a melody only he seemed to hear. "In fact, I'm eager to find where the next Gym is and take on its Leader too!"

    "Well, you do that; and I'll train for my first ribbon." Dawn replied as she finished getting ready.

    She hurried into an open part of the field and heaved a Poké Ball skyward. "Come on out, Stormy!"

    She giggled as Stormy darted away from her, then came running back. "You're cute, you know that?" Dawn smiled as she reached out to pet Stormy.

    Just then, Stormy started to spark--a warning sign it was about to discharge! "Oh no..." was all Dawn could say as Stormy fired a massive electric blast! She then dashed away, laughing at the sight of Dawn's hair sticking out in fifteen different directions.

    Ash tried oh-so-hard not to laugh at Dawn's sparking hair. "If it's any consolation, the Pikachu family does that too." Dawn grumbled in reply.

    ---------

    Back in her tent, Dawn thought about what had happened some hours earlier. 'Why did Stormy do that to me?" she mused as she finished combing out the last static mat. "All I wanted to do was pet her...is she not used to me yet? Is she one of those strong willed Pokémon?"

    She sighed. "Or maybe Stormy wasn't meant to be owned by a human at all?"

    After putting away her brush, she noticed Stormy standing by the tent entrance "Can we talk, Stormy?" she asked.

    The Pachirisu nodded as Dawn lead it to a bushy grove. "As much as I love you, and want to see you grow up to be the best you can be..."

    Tears welled up in her eyes as she continued "I think...the best place...for that...to happen...is..."

    Emotion finally overcame Dawn. She hurried back to the camp with tears streaming down her face, leaving Stormy confused.

    "What happened?" Brock noticed Dawn crying as he continued packing up his camp gear.

    "Is everything okay?" Ash was also concerned. "Whatever happened, you can vent to us."

    Dawn wiped away a few tears, then took a few deep breaths to compose herself. "I...tried to let Stormy go..."

    "What?" Ash gasped. "You just caught her yesterday!"

    "I don't know...she zapped me earlier, when I wanted to pet her." Dawn explained. "That, and I'm not sure if I could control something that's so high energy."

    "You have to remember that Pokémon are a little bit like people--they have different personalities too." Brock began. This means that yes, some of them are strong willed. It also means that some of them are naturally high energy."

    "The Pikachu family's very energetic too." Ash agreed. "So while a Pikachu and a Pachirisu are two different Pokémon, they do share a few similarities."

    "Believe it or not, some Pokémon are also very much like human kids." Brock added. "In my experience, I've learned that almost all unwanted behavior is because of a want. Sometimes they want more control over their lives. Sometimes they want to do more for themselves. Sometimes they want your full and undivided attention."

    "Hm..." Dawn contemplated what the boys had said. "You both make great points. Maybe I should have asked one of you for help..."

    Meanwhile, Mars spotted Stormy dancing around the field. "Well well, what have we here? I'll claim this little guy for myself."

    ---------

    Power...experience...connection...which one of those was Stormy wanting? Dawn thought. What could Ash have offered if I asked him for advice earlier? Could some of his experience in caring for Tintri also have helped Stormy?

    She sighed as she looked out at the sky, where one of the clouds got her attention. Even that cloud looks like a Pachirisu. Maybe Arceus is telling me Stormy needs to be with me?

    Inspired, she hurried back down the road to meet the boys. "Guys...I thought about what each of you said, and I realized I was a bit rash to let Stormy go after one zap. So even though I didn't technically release her, I'm ready and willing to take her back."

    Brock smiled. "Well, if you wanna find her, I think I know where she is..."

    "Huh?" Dawn looked a little farther down the road, where she spotted Mars battling Stormy with Purugly. "Stormy!"

    "Come on!" Ash led the way down the road, just in time to see Stormy whack away Mars' Poké Ball with her tail.

    Brock's whistle snapped Mars and Jupiter to attention. "I believe the Pachirisu you are battling is actually owned..."

    "Yeah--my friend named it Stormy." Ash added.

    "Really?" Mars grinned. "Your friend must've released it, because it went inside the Poké Ball I threw earlier."

    "If you're so sure this Pachirisu is named, let's see who it really wants to go with." Jupiter suggested. She knelt down before Stormy. "Okay, little guy--who do you want to go with?"

    Ash noticed Jupiter had hidden a pile of nuts and berries behind her back in an attempt to sway Stormy. "Hey, Brock...maybe we could sway Stormy to our side with some of your homemade Pokechow..."

    "No--I'm not stooping to Galactic's level." Brock replied.

    "Besides, a food bribe won't prove anything." Dawn agreed.

    Both sides watched to see what Stormy would do. Stormy proceeded to fire a huge electric blast, knocking out both admins. "I guess she wants to go with me?" Dawn asked as Stormy pilfered all the food.

    [Yeah...I still choose you.] Stormy chittered.

    "Aw..." Ash smiled as Dawn hugged Stormy, never mind her hair was sticking up a little.

    Dawn offered a Poké Ball to Stormy. "If you touch this, you can come."

    Stormy nodded, and touched the ball; going in in a flash of light. "Thanks, Stormy--now we can shock the Contest world." Dawn grinned. "Starting with the one in Floaroma Town!"

    To Be Continued...
     
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    Episode 19: Mutiny in the Bounty


    "Floaroma Town...75 miles." Brock read a signpost as the group made their way down a road. "The city is known as 'the town that smells vividly of flowers' and for good reason."

    "I'm sure it must be beautiful!" Dawn smiled.

    "Local lore says that the town was once a barren and desolate hill." Brock began. "People started planting flowers around it to brighten up the place, but nothing would grow. Then, someone expressed thanks for the bounty of nature, and the whole hill burst into bloom. Many believe the Legendary Pokémon Shaymin created the flowers."

    "Aw, that's cute!" Even Ash was enamored by the white hedgehog-like Pokémon with grass-like fur depicted in the guidebook. "Maybe we'll be lucky enough to see her!"

    The whooshes of wings got his attention as a familiar blue dragon Pokémon with red wings soared over him. "A Salamence?"

    "Wow!" Dawn gasped as she read up on the majestic Pokémon:

    "Salamence. the dragon Pokémon. It becomes uncontrollable if it is enraged. It can destroy everything with shredding claws and fire if it isn't calmed. Salamence is capable of undergoing Mega Evolution if the trainer's Heart Song has been awakened.

    She strained her eyes to make out a female figure on the Salamence's back. "Someone's riding the Salamence!"

    Ash got a better glimpse of the Salamence's rider. "She doesn't look friendly at all!" he gasped. He noticed the dull purple and red outfit the woman wore, and shuddered. She looks like every bad guy in every action movie I've ever watched!

    "Ariados, use String Shot!" Brock heard the woman command as she summoned a familiar spider Pokémon onto the ground.

    Dawn heard a yelp of surprise as the Ariados bound up a Gardevoir's magenta-haired owner. "She's gonna kidnap the Gardevoir's owner!"

    "Anime, warp away from here!" the girl pleaded as she struggled to get free from her bindings. "Save yourself!"

    I'll do my best to send help for you as soon as I can! the beautiful white humanoid Pokémon replied. With that, it disappeared in a flash of light.

    "We have to help the girl! Come on!" Ash called as he led the way down the hill, where the girl was struggling to free herself from the String Shot.

    Moments before they could reach the girl, a huge explosion rocked the area! "Mama Dragon J to Hatchlings, we have the Gardevoir."

    Ash watched as the petrified Gardevoir was loaded onto a truck. I see...she used a petrification device to catch that Gardevoir. That explains the loud explosion before...

    He motioned for Tintri to follow him. "Come on, Tintri! Let's hold that lady off at the pass!"

    [Yeah! No one Poke-naps an innocent Pokémon on my watch and gets away with it!] Tintri agreed.

    "Ash...I hope you know what you're doing..." Dawn mused as she watched her friend follow the truck down the road...

    ---------

    "Are you okay?" Brock asked as he and Dawn finished freeing the girl. "Does anything feel hurt or broken?"

    "I'm all right, just surprised someone would take my companion, Anime." the girl replied. "What that lady wanted with Anime, I don't know, but it can't be good!"

    "My friend's gonna try and save Anime, okay?" Dawn assured the girl as she rubbed some anti burn stick onto some burned areas on her legs.

    "Thank you." the girl replied. "I'm Melodi, by the way."

    Meanwhile, Ash and Trintri had headed off the truck near a mountain pass. "Why did you take a little girl's Gardevoir?" he demanded. "Give her back, NOW!!!"

    The woman grinned. "Why not? I could just as easily take your little Pikachu, if I wanted. But first I want to see its versatility in battle!"

    She heaved a Poké Ball skyward. "Mathayus, let's go!"

    Ash reached for his own Pokédex to read up on the massive purple scorpion Pokémon before him:

    "Drapion, the ogre scorp Pokémon. Possessing a sturdy build, it takes pride in its strength, taking down foes without using toxins.

    "Tintri, use--!" This was as far as he got before he found himself thrown against a rock and bound with String Shot! "OOF!!!"

    He growled as the woman scooped Tintri in her arms. "No fair summoning two Pokémon against one!"

    "I've got what I wanted, so why don't you be a good boy and hang out here for a while." the woman smirked before recalling both the Drapion and the Ariados and departing.

    Inside some brush, Mars and Jupiter huddled to discuss the confrontation. "Did you see that? That lady grabbed Hat-boy's Pikachu without having to lift a finger!" Mars cried. "We could use someone like that on Team Galactic."

    "We need talented people, sure, but I'm not so sure about this lady." Jupiter mused as she watched Ash struggle to get free from the rock. "Something doesn't feel right about her. But if you think she could help our cause, we'll go negotiate with her."

    As she and Mars hurried down the road, they heard Ash's voice ringing through the mountains. Gatrandis favel, secret, edena...
    Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...


    ---------

    ...Katoradis favel siicletu edena... Ash's voice continued. Emusto koron zen fine, si...

    Brock led Dawn and Melodi up the mountain path. "What happened?" Dawn gasped as Brock eased Ash onto the ground.

    "I tried to stop that lady and save the Gardevoir, but she took Tintri too." Ash explained as a tear formed in his eye. "Now I'm more determined than ever to stop this lady!"

    'What was that power your friend used to call us here?" Melodi asked, curious.

    "Believe it or not, the Swanna Song often seen in folklore and media is in fact real." Brock explained. "But only a rare few can actually use this power. My friend can use it because of his deep bond with his Pikachu."

    ---------

    "Fog machine is go." Jupiter reported as she pressed a button on a fog generator.

    "It's stopping." Mars reported as she saw the truck come to a stop and the woman climbed out to meet them.

    "Excuse me, miss--our own vehicle broke down, and we could use the help." Jupiter began.

    The woman was unimpressed. "Using a fog machine to try and stop me? Typical Team Galactic. How's that creating a new world working out for you?"

    Jupiter growled at the woman's insult. "Noctis, go give this lady a piece of my mind!"

    "Nice, a Skuntank." the woman sneered as Jupiter's Skuntank appeared. "I'll just take your Pokémon too!"

    "No!" Mars reached for the Poké Ball holding her Purugly.

    "Venus, bind these Galactic fools!" the woman commanded as she summoned her Ariados again. Once sure Mars, Jupiter, and Noctis would not be getting out from their binding, she snatched the Poké Ball holding Mars' Purugly.

    Ash and the others arrived some time later. "That weird lady get you guys too?"

    "Yeah--they Poke-napped Leona too." Mars sobbed as Brock cut the admins and Noctis free.

    She brushed away a tear. "Look, normally, we would be wanting our revenge for you guys hindering our plan for a new world. Now we need your help."

    "Your Pikachu's obviously special to you, so we'd be willing to help you get him back if you helped us get Leona back." Jupiter agreed.

    A whir got the group's attention. "What in the..." Dawn gasped as a large plane-like vehicle flew over the group's heads.

    Officer Jenny and her faithful Arcanine arrived some moments later. "Is everyone okay? We came as soon as we could. We got a tip that the notorious Pokémon hunter J was here, but it appears we were too late to stop her."

    "So that lady's name is J?" Dawn asked.

    "J is a codename--no one knows for sure what her true name is." Officer Jenny explained. "Across the world, there are shady individuals who make their living stealing other people's Pokémon. They are known as Pokémon hunters. They swear no loyalty to any government or group, expect for a hunter's guild. Once initiated into a guild, they are known by a codename, and often recruit minions of their own. J is especially notable for having a hand in many high profile Poke-nappings. She could be an evil team on her own with how many spies and minions she has under her sway."

    "Wow..." Brock gasped.

    "How do we begin to take down someone that powerful?" Dawn wondered.

    "I don't know, but I'll do whatever it takes to save Tintri from the Pokémon Hunter's evil grasp!" Ash vowed. "Either that, or die trying!"

    "Yeah--Pokémon Hunters are total outcasts!" Mars agreed. "The lowest of the low!"

    "Mars, I hate to interrupt your dramatic speech, but I have an idea..." Jupiter whispered as Brock undid the bindings. "We're going to sneak aboard the ship and rescue Leona---you with me?"

    "Yeah..." Mars smiled. "If we can find that plane thing the Pokémon hunter flew off in."

    "This is the problem with attempting to catch a high profile Pokémon hunter like J." Officer Jenny explained. "Once she steals her Pokémon, she makes her getaway in an airship."

    "We obviously can't chase her on foot, then..." Dawn mused.

    "The only way we could catch J in the act is if we knew where she'll strike next." Brock suggested.

    "What a great idea!" Melodi smiled as she heaved a Poké Ball skyward "Douce, find out where J will strike next."

    The smaller humanoid Pokémon Melodi had summoned hummed for a moment. The next place J will strike is a small house with a waterwheel, near the river, at the edge of the woods.

    "Thanks." Melodi replied, recalling the small humanoid Ash remembered as Kirlia.

    "Blue Angel to all units--we have determined J's next strike point." Jenny called over the radio as she sent the coordinates. "All units assemble at this point!"

    ---------

    "Ah ha!" Ash smirked as he spotted J stealing an Absol. "Are you gonna give Tintri back or not?" he asked as the officers moved in.

    J chuckled. "I should commend you for discovering my secret base, Superboy. But while you and your cohorts still live, it won't be so secret anymore!"

    She looked over at her Salamence. "Ridley, use Hyper Beam!"

    Officer Jenny gasped as the Salamence charged a familiar orange beam. "Anya, protect Ash!"

    She called to Ash "If you want to catch J, here's your chance! Go, go, go!"

    Ash nodded, and made a running jump onto one of the vehicles in J's convoy. Minutes later, Jenny's Arcanine took the Salamence's attack.

    "Ash...good luck." was all Dawn could say as the convoy made its way down the road.

    ---------

    "Okay...we made it in." Ash whispered as he, Mars, and Jupiter made their way into J's base, where the main hallways split into two paths. "I'm taking my team down the left hall. You guys can look for Leona or Tintri on the right. Meet back here in an hour."

    "Got it!" Mars and Jupiter replied as they hurried down the right path.

    After checking in a few rooms, Diddy spotted a room filled with caged Pokémon. [Ash! I found where Mars' Purugly is!]

    As Diddy hurried off down the hall, J noticed Diddy left the door open. "I knew we had a few stowaways on board..."

    With that, she pressed a button on a wall, making a loud WOOP! WOOP! WOOP! ring through the base.

    "Run for it!" Mars called as she and Jupiter dashed down the hall.

    Chaos erupted in the base as Ash, the admins, J, and her minions all fought in the hallway. J's Drapion attempted to capture Ash; but Diddy hit the Drapion with Fury Swipes, freeing Ash.

    "Gaia, go help Diddy!" Ash heaved a Poké Ball skyward...

    Mars and Jupiter watched from a corner as Diddy and Gaia were hammered by a hard attack moments later. "We're sitting Psyducks!" Jupiter shuddered as J's minions surrounded them.

    "Maybe not..." Ash kicked down an air vent. "In here!"

    "Good thinking, Hat-boy!" Mars smiled, stiffling a giggle at the minions running up and down the halls looking for them.

    After making their way through the vent, the group emerged into the room holding the Pokémon. Hold! Anime called when she saw Mars and Jupiter. You do not mean to harm us?

    "No, we came to rescue you guys." Jupiter replied as she went to work unlocking the cages.

    "There you are!" a voice called.

    "J!" Ash gasped as he held Tintri close.

    He smiled as a minion summoned a Golbat. 'Now to do what I meant to do before...Tintri, use Volt Tackle!"

    [HAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!] Tintri screeched. He slammed into the Golbat with an explosion of light and thunderbolts.

    The attack also destroyed the airlock, causing the air to rush out of the room. "This room is some kind of pod!" Mars realized as she scrambled to hang onto a cabinet knob.

    "Estrella, go find the others." Ash instructed his Staravia as he recalled Diddy and Gaia.

    J noticed what Ash had done. "Fare thee well, Superboy...and happy landings!"

    "Huh?" Ash gasped before realizing that the pod the group was in was hurtling towards the ground!

    ---------

    "I see them!" Dawn called, pointing out the large round pod hurtling towards the ground.

    "If they don't do something fast, they're gonna crash..." Officer Jenny cautioned.

    Inside the pod, Jupiter was beginning to panic. "We have to stop this thing before it crashes!"

    Mars got an idea. "This is gonna sound crazy, hat-boy. What would happen if one of us decided to sing that super powered super song they use on TV?"

    "It's worth a shot..." Ash smiled.

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


    As Ash's last "si" rang through the air, the pod was surrounded in a rainbow light! "I don't believe it...that song they use for a last ditch spell on TV actually works!" Dawn gasped as Ash, the admins, Tintri, Anime, and the other Pokémon landed safely on the ground.

    "It also has the strength drain that often happens when a character uses it on TV, too." Brock cautioned as he want to tend to Ash, who was heaving with exhaustion. "So if you ever meet a Legendary and learn to sing it yourself, use it only in an emergency!"

    "The falling...pod...counted as an...emergency..." Ash wheezed as Officer Jenny hurried over with some water.

    "I can't thank you enough in helping us to capture some of J's minions." Officer Jenny smiled as some other officers read the minions their rights. "That was a brave thing you did. I don't know where or why you learned a legendary power, but I hope you continue to use it for the good of the world."

    "I promise, Officer." Ash smiled. He did not see that Mars and Jupiter had slipped away into the brush.

    "Thank you, as well, for saving Anime and bringing her back to me." Melodi agreed.

    The Gardevoir's eyes glowed as she read Ash's heart. You need not worry about Ash using his powers for evil, Officer. His heart shines with the fires of courage, and the purest light.

    ---------

    "Why did J elude us?" Dawn muttered as the group made camp on a hill that evening. "You had a chance to get her!"

    "I did my best, but J is craftier than a Ninetales." Ash replied. "Eventually karma will catch up to her, but who knows how more Pokémon she'll catch before then?"

    "Hopefully, it won't be any more." Brock replied. "Officer Jenny and the rest of the force are doing everything they can to help bring J and others like her to justice."

    A smile formed on Ash's face. "Here's hoping I won't have to see her again--next time, I'm using my rainbow Thunderbolts!"

    The group's laughter echoed over the hills as the sun set...

    To Be Continued...
     
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    Episode 20: Borrowing on Bad Faith

    [HAAAHHH!!!!] Tintri screeched as he rammed into a target with Volt Tackle.

    Ash applauded the electrical explosion signaling a hit. "Okay! That was great, Tintri."

    He paused to look up Volt Tackle in the Pokédex. "If you ever want to use Tintri in a Contest, Volt Tackle is a very appealing Cool move exclusive to the Pikachu family."

    "Point noted." Dawn smiled before spotting a poster on a signpost. "Well! Seems the village we're headed towards is hosting in unofficial Contest and Fantasy Stage. Maybe I can introduce Stormy to a Contest setting."

    "I could use the practice for a Fantasy Stage myself." Brock agreed. "Especially if Nando's competing."

    Ash suddenly felt something being snatched off his head. "Hey!" he cried as Diddy clambored into a tree with his cap.

    [Okay, but you'll have to catch me first!] Diddy replied.

    "Follow that Chimchar!" Brock led the others after Diddy.

    ----------

    Elsewhere, Mars and Jupiter discovered the same signpost Dawn had found. "Hey, Mars..." Jupiter whispered.

    "Hm?" Mars was snapped from a daydream.

    "Check this out..." Jupiter whispered as Mars joined her. "Contest and Fantasy Stage today...winner gets a year's supply of fresh fruit."

    "I'm sure Noctis would love that." Mars smiled. "I don't really want to use Leona for a Contest, and all my other Pokémon are back at the base. So are you okay with me borrowing Noctis for the Contest?"

    "Sure!" Jupiter smiled. "Skuntank is a very well rounded Pokémon for Contests as well as battle, using any type of appeal."

    She handed Mars the Poké Ball with her Skuntank inside. "I expect you to take good care of Noctis, okay?"

    "You know I will." Mars smiled. "Besides, battles are not allowed in a Contest setting, anyway."

    ---------

    Brock emerged from the dressing area in the village square in costume some time later. "Wow...even though this isn't official, the village is making a big deal out of it."

    "I'll say..." Ash agreed as he observed the lines moving at different booths. Those that were not signing up for the Contest or the Fantasy Stage were trying their luck at various games of chance.

    He smiled. "Can I say you look beautiful in your costume?"

    "Thanks." Brock smiled. "Even if I don't win it all here, I plan to keep it for future storytelling shows back home."

    "I'm gonna go look around a bit before the events start." Ash turned to depart down a side path. "Break both legs!"

    He noticed Dawn had emerged from the dressing area. "Oh!" he gasped as he admired the lavender, gold, and white pantsuit with purple trim. "Is that your costume for the Contest?"

    "It is." Dawn replied as she set the matching lavender top hat on her head. "I packed a few different outfits so the audience doesn't tire of the same old dress every time."

    "Good idea." Ash smiled.

    He spotted Mars, as her alter ego Marta, training with Noctis in a practice arena. "Whoa!" he gasped as Noctis combined Fury Swipes and Night Slash to catch Berries falling out of a tree. "That was cool!"

    "Isn't Noctis one of Jupiter's Pokémon?" Brock wondered as he rejoined Ash and Dawn by the fence. "Using someone's Pokémon can be risky if the borrowed Pokémon doesn't know the other person well."

    "But your team listens to me." Ash mused.

    "That's because my team knows you well." Brock replied.

    Dawn shuddered as Noctis fired a Flamethrower into the sky. "Noctis seems to be listening to Marta. What if Marta ends up winning the Contest?"

    "Don't worry about what Marta will do." Ash assured Dawn. "Just focus on what YOU need to do."

    ---------

    Laughter and applause filled the air as Stormy emerged from the Visual competition's dressing room wearing a fake black mustache, a matching black goatee, and sunglasses. "That's it! Stormy gets the silver in Visual with a very cool look!" the emcee announced as Stormy struck some cool poses for the audience.

    Once the coordinators had removed their accessories from their Pokémon, the Bailatron emerged from the floor with a whir. "Now, let's move on to the Dance competition..."

    In the backstage holding room, Dawn perused the song list. "What kind of song would you want to dance to, Stormy?"

    [Something fun.] Stormy replied as Noctis swayed and jumped to a pounding techno beat with an Oriental flair. [Skunky there thinks he's a samurai? I wanna show off some fun moves!]

    "All right." Dawn tapped her choice of song on the selector, just as Noctis struck a final warrior's pose. The audience roared with applause as the skunk Pokémon took a bow.

    "Up next is number U-63845430, dancing to 'Conga'." the emcee announced as Mars reunited with Noctis in the holding area.

    Ash whistled in support as Stormy leaped onto the huge machine, eager to dance to her chosen song.

    A festive Latin melody blared over the speakers. Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga!
    I know you can't control yourself any longer!
    Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga!
    I know you can't control yourself any longer!


    Many in the audience clapped along as Stormy jumped and twirled in time to the pounding beat. Inspired, Ash motioned to the girl next to him. "Hey...dance with me!"

    "Okay!" The girl eagerly grabbed onto Ash, spurring others in the row to join in. This created a large conga line as more people hurried to join in the dance in the stands...

    ---------

    ..."King Damien did not recognize her, but he never left her side nor took his eyes off her." Jupiter continued her tale, aware of the uncomfortable chatter in the audience. "Around midnight a strange thing happened. A thick cloud suddenly filled the hall, so that for a moment all was dark. Then the mist suddenly grew bright, and Kitsune appeared in the room."

    "This," she tells the crowd as Kitsune, "is the girl whom you have always believed to be your sister, and who vanished during the siege. She is not really your sister at all, but the daughter of the king of a neighboring country, who was given to your mother to bring up, to save her from the hands of an evil wizard.’

    She concludes as herself "Then she departed for heaven, and she and King Damien lived happily ever after."

    Confused murmurs waft through the crowd. "Did Juno just put that in to satisfy the crowd?" Brock wondered--the previous events and the ending didn't add up in his mind.

    He thought back over the story's plot. Is it possible that the usurper Danielle fled from was the evil wizard?

    "Number K-42207, performing 'The Four Brothers'." an announcer reported, snapping Brock to attention.

    Oh well...I'll think it over later. Brock thought as he emerged from the wings and onto the Fantasy Stage.

    After taking a few breaths to ease the Beautiflies in his stomach, he began. "There was once a hunter who had four sons, and these sons wanted to go out into the world to seek their own fortunes. When they had all come of age, they said to their father..."

    "We are going out into the world, and seeking our own fortunes." he explained in a mimic of Ash for effect.

    As himself, he continued, "The father gave them each 100 gold pieces and a Ponyta apiece. They set out early the next morning, and rode to the mountains. Around noon they came to a fork with four paths, and between them stood a beech tree. They stopped there, and the eldest said to the rest..."

    "Let's separate here, and take a different road to seek our fortune in the world." he suggested as Ash again.

    He went on as himself "They agreed to each stick a knife into the tree, and meet back there in a year and a day. If any of the knives rusted, its owner was either dead or in need of help. If any of them glowed, the owner had found great fortune."

    Intrigued murmurs filled the theater as Brock continued "And so, they each went their separate ways. When they came to a town, they each learned a trade. The eldest learned to be a shoemaker. The second learned to be a thief that stole from those with ill-gotten gains to give to the poor. The third learned to be an astromancer, a kind of mage who drew his magic from the stars. The youngest learned to be a hunter, as his father was before him."

    He went on "When the year and a day was up, they returned to the fork. The eldest arrived first, pulled out his own knife and looked at the other knives. Seeing that they were all shining, he thanked Arceus that they were all alive and well. When he came to his father, his father asked him..."

    "What trade have you learned?" he asked in a mimic of Flint for the father.

    "Father, it’s no use telling you stories. I’m a shoemaker." he replied as Ash.

    "You’ve learned a fine trade." he smiled as the father.

    "But I am no ordinary shoemaker. If anything is broken and worn, I only have to sing a magical melody and it is healed or repaired." he explained as Ash.

    He next interjected as himself "The father had a coat worn out at the elbows, and told him to fix it up. The son sang..."

    The audience murmured as Brock sang in Ash's voice Seios, higarima laisido...

    Some applause went up in approval of the song. "...and in a moment the coat looked like new." Brock went on as himself. "The father said nothing more. The next day the second son returned home. When he came to his father, his father asked him..."

    He proceeded to perform the exchange again. "What trade have you learned?"

    "Father, it’s no use telling you stories. I’m a thief."

    "If you dare steal from innocent people, then I will be ashamed to call you my son!"

    "Father, I only steal from those with ill-gotten gains. If I even think of what I'd like to have, I have it without the owner knowing it is gone."

    He went on as himself "About then, a Buneary came running by on the hillside. The father told him to catch the Buneary. The son reached out his hand, and the Buneary was there in seconds."

    "Wow"s and awed chatter filled the theater at this. "The third day the third son came home." Brock's voice quieted the chatter. "When he came to his father, his father also asked him what trade he had learned. The son replied..."

    He performed the rigmarole again. "Father, it’s no use to tell you stories; I’m an astromancer.’

    His father was impressed. The son explained...

    "I learned from a great astromancer. If I only look at the sky, I can see where anything in the world is."

    More chatter went up as Brock went on "On the fourth day the youngest son came home. When he came to his father, the father asked him what trade he had learned. The son answered that he had trained as a hunter."

    "I am proud you have followed after me." he smiled as the father.

    "But, father, I learned from a master hunter. My arrow will strike true, no matter how far away the target is." he explained as the youngest son.

    As himself, Brock went on "The father was well pleased with all his sons. They lived in peace for some time, with the brothers practicing their trades."

    He intoned "One year, the princess of the land disappeared. The whole castle was in a panic!"

    Gasps and excited chatter raced through the theater. "The king made a proclamation that whoever found her would receive her hand and the kingdom as well." Brock explained. "The brothers wanted to go. The father was reluctant to let them go at first, but he relented."

    "And then?" a girl asked as she held a balloon close.

    "When they came to the royal palace, they asked if the proclamation was true." Brock replied. "The king said that it was, and immediately asked them to tell him where his daughter was. The astromancer replied that he would have an answer the next morning, after he had read the stars."

    "So, where was she?" a boy wondered.

    "The next morning, the astromancer said that he had seen the princess held prisoner by a Hydreigon." Brock replied. "The Hydreigon had grabbed her as she was out walking, and was keeping her on an island beyond the sea. So they assembled and drove in the carriage to the sea. Then they got into a boat and rowed to the island."

    Whispers of anticipation filled the air as Brock went on "When they got there, the princess was out walking. The Hydreigon wasn’t home; but the princess told them he would soon be there. The thief-brother brought her aboard the boat, and they rowed away as fast as they could go."

    He paused to retrieve his bow. "The Hydreigon pursued them, but the hunter easily shot down the rogue Pokémon." he narrated before preparing his shot, training his eye on a target of the exotic three headed dragon Pokémon.

    The audience held its breath as Brock fired his shot...

    ---------

    "So, how did you do?" Brock asked Dawn as the group left town that evening.

    "Not so hot--someone did this really nice Hail and Icy Wind combo to edge me and Stormy, even though we started strong." Dawn sighed. "Did you do any better?"

    "I came up short myself." Brock replied. "After I told 'The Four Brothers', the person after me told this interesting version of 'Fire Ice and Lightning' that electrified the crowd."

    "Look at it this way--you both did better than your first attempts, right?" Ash assured his companions as the group stopped to make camp for the night. "So that should count for something."

    "Yeah--we both did our best." Dawn smiled. "Besides, this was a good learning experience for the real Contest."

    "I plan to think about how I did here, then use what I learned to do better in the real Fantasy Stage." Brock agreed. "We'll just consider today a practice run."

    To Be Continued...
     
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    Episode 21: Cooking Up a Sweet Story

    "Okay, you guys...let's see what you think of this!" Dawn began as she retreated to the center of a field. "Kori, Lola--frozen Bubblebeam!"

    Ash watched in amazement as Lola's Ice Beam froze the bubbles from Kori's Bubblebeam solid, creating a pile of sparkling blue and cyan bubbles. "Wow!"

    "That was neat!" Brock agreed.

    "How would you rate that appeal?" Dawn asked. "Did you forget the scorecards I gave you?"

    "No, I didn't forget." Brock replied as he hurried to retrieve the pile of scorecards on a rock.

    "Be honest about your feedback." Dawn added as the boys gathered up their scorecards. "If something's not working, tell me how to make it better."

    "Well, I rate that appeal an 8." Ash explained, showing Dawn a card with a green 8.0 on it. "My only suggestion is to try and make the frozen bubbles light enough to fly instead of falling to the ground like rocks. Flying icy bubbles would really wow the audience!"

    "All right--try firing off both attacks at an easier rate." Dawn noted. "Brock, your score and thoughts?"

    "I'll give it a 7." Brock replied, showing Dawn a card with a lighter green 7.0 on it. "It is a very solid appeal, and much better than the spinning Bubblebeam idea. That said, I will agree with Ash--it has the potential to be even better."

    "Okay--I'm gonna keep trying until you show me the dark green 10." Dawn smiled, pleased the boys had liked her first appeal.

    She motioned for Stormy to join her. "Okay, next is an appeal I wanna try with Stormy--electrical fireworks. Or should I say, thunderworks?"

    Kori and Lola hurried to join the boys as Stormy leapt on a rock. "All right, Stormy--launch some thunderworks!"

    Stormy charged a Discharge attack, creating a few circular bursts of electricity. But no one expected the main thunderbolt to shatter the rock! The force of the impact sent Stormy flying to the ground, creating a small dust whorl on the ground.

    "You okay, Stormy?" Dawn asked as she rushed to examine the exhausted Pachirisu.

    Some applause filled the air. "That looked pretty cool, even if it didn't quite work on the first go." an auburn haired girl smiled as she approached the group.

    Ash facepalmed as Brock hurried towards the girl dusting off dirt from her clothes. Please don't sing...please don't sing...

    He sighed as a guitar playing the intro to a song got his attention. He's gonna sing...

    As I come in by bower madden
    Early in the morning dew,
    Brock sang to the girl as he strummed a bouncy melody.
    A fair pretty maid I'd chance to meet
    Said I my lass can I walk with you?


    This was as far as he got before Kage jabbed him in the sensitive areas, creating a discordant Eb chord. [You can't walk with her--she likely already has a lover.] Kage deadpanned as he dragged Brock away, guitar and all.

    "But...that's not...how...the song...goes..." Brock gasped between winces of pain.

    The girl laughed at Brock's pained look and Kage's deadpan. "You would make a wonderful comedian and musician! In fact, you're just the person I need!"

    "Oh?" Brock was intrigued as the girl motioned for the group to follow her down the road to an elegant building...

    ---------

    "My name's Theresa, and this..." The girl made a grand gesture to the building. "...is Angel Cakes, the bakery me and my grandma run."

    "It's beautiful!" Dawn gasped.

    "I can only imagine what you guys make in there..." Ash agreed. Tintri licked his lips as he imagined hundreds of cakes, pies, and other sweet treats inside.

    Theresa smiled. "We do birthdays, weddings, graduations, and every kind of occasion. My Pikachu, Sugar, is the mascot, but lately she hasn't been herself."

    She looked over at Brock. "This is where you come in. I want you to inspire Sugar with as many joyful and inspiring songs and stories as you can for three days. We have a school event coming up, and Grandma wants the kids to see Sugar happy."

    "I'd be happy to perk your pensive Pikachu." Brock grinned, pleased with his witty reply.

    Dawn thought for a moment before bringing up her Poketch's calculator. "Assuming Brock is performing 24 hours a day..." she mused as she punched the numbers. "...and each tale or set of tunes is about 20 minutes on average..."

    She gasped when she pressed the equal button. "He would end up performing 216 numbers in all!"

    "Relax...that's just a dent in how many stories and songs I know." Brock assured Dawn. "216 numbers should be easy for me to do with enough caffeine."

    "I hope you have some Verde Power in there..." Ash mused as the group went inside.

    ---------

    "Okay, everyone...this is Sugar." Theresa began as she led the group inside the bakery's cafe. A Pikachu was sprawled on one of the tables, sighing as it released a tiny spark.

    [Hi!] Tintri squeaked. [Do you feel like telling me what's the matter?]

    Sugar sighed as Brock looked around the cafe area. " Let's see...I can't perform in the entry area. I'd likely block people arriving to place or pick up orders."

    He looked over at what looked like a small stage overlooking the cafe area. "Okay if I use this stage?"

    "If you have a talent that may cheer Sugar up, the stage is yours." an older woman with greying dull blonde hair replied as she joined Theresa in the room.

    "All right..." Brock stepped aboard the stage. "Just give me a little time to prepare."

    ---------

    Once sure his guitar was in tune and his props were organized, Brock started the story that came to mind first. "In a far away land, the people could not stop complaining about their vizirs. The reason? They argued over anything and everything. Once they started arguing, it was anyone's guess when they would stop."

    Ash chuckled in anticipation as Brock went on. "Now, the vizirs knew what the people were saying. So they took it upon themselves to show their people they could conduct affairs in a civil manner. So one day, they went into town, making small talk among themselves and saying hello to all they met."

    "This is one of my favorites..." Ash whispered to Dawn. "You'll see why shortly."

    "Suddenly, they found a rare black pearl embedded in the sandy road." Brock continued as he packed the stage. "Their first thought was to debate what to do with it. but then they remembered their promise to conduct affairs civilly. They decided to hold a great feast in honor of their friendship."

    He explained "So the ten vizirs all went down to the food shop. They used the black pearl to buy enough food for the whole city to be fed for a week and still have leftovers."

    "Wow!" Theresa was impressed.

    "There were potstickers, puddings, meats both from the land and the sea, vegetables of all kinds, nuts, Berries, and a bewildering array of desserts." Brock explained, counting off the different foods on his fingers as he mentioned it.

    He intoned "Before the vizirs could sit down to their massive meal, the ninth vizir saw that the palace gate was open. He told the sixth to shut it, but he believed the first vizir should shut it. The first told the eighth, the eighth asked the fourth, and before long, all ten vizirs were fighting over who should shut the gate."

    Theresa and her grandmother giggled as Brock continued. "The tenth vizir finally broke it up by saying the next person to say anything or stand up would close the gate. So the ten vizirs began to eat, not saying a word to each other or getting up for seconds."

    He smiled--it was time for the funny part! "The open gate lured hundreds of Pokémon into the palace, and they wasted no time in devouring all the meat. When every piece of Combusken, beef, and fish was gone, they moved on to the vegetables, fruits, cheeses and desserts. But the vizirs sat there, oblivious to the Pokémon eating their food."

    Dawn stifled a giggle as she pictured the comical scene in her mind. "Just then, a Growlithe mistook the tenth vizir's lip for a piece of meat, and bit down hard!" Brock announced.

    Brock's small audience roared with laughter at this. "When the others told him he had to shut the gate, they looked around and realized the food was gone." Brock explained as the laughter quieted. "So now there was no point in closing the gate."

    He concluded "They went their separate ways, not wanting to argue about the matter any more!"

    "Oh, that was so funny!" Dawn wheezed as she applauded. "I can see why it's one of your favorites, Ash!"

    Brock noticed Sugar giving him a bemused look. That's a good sign...

    He motioned for Dawn and Ash to join him on the stage. "So, what kinds of tunes do you guys play out here?"

    "If you'll give me a second to tune, I'll teach you both one of my favorites." Dawn replied before she went to find her fiddle case.

    ---------

    "Okay...this tune is called 'Off to Pastoria'." Dawn explained as she finished fine tuning her instrument. "This a very common tune that goes well with many Kanto tunes."

    She set her instrument aside long enough to slide a copy of the sheet music before the boys. "I'm going to play it slowly so you guys can get a feel for the notes and the chords."

    "So many dotted notes..." Ash mused as he fished out a silver whistle with a green mouthpiece from his bag. "You're lucky you only have to strum open chords!" he told Brock.

    "That may be true, but I do have to work out an appropriate strum pattern that still retains the bounce this type of tune is known for." Brock explained.

    "Relax...I'll go slow enough so you two can strum and finger along." Dawn assured the boys as she prepared to play. "Ready?"

    "Ready. Brock replied. "Start at a G..."

    As Dawn began the song, he mused the chords to himself as he did his best to follow the fiddle's melody. "G...D...back to G...C...back to G...E minor...A minor...D7...and back to G..."

    Sugar looked up at the stage, piqued at the melody and the chord progression that was taking shape.

    "Anywhere I can breathe in all these notes?" Ash asked. "I want to try following along this time."

    "Here..." Brock took the sheet music and began marking notes he felt Ash could shorten or drop to take a breath. "Breathe where I've marked it if you need to."

    After snapping to count his companions off, the tune began anew. Theresa and her grandmother eagerly clapped along as the whistle joined in the tune...

    ---------

    "You guys have great sightreading skills." Dawn raved when they finished a set some time later.

    She gasped when she saw a smile forming on Sugar's face. "That's it! Why don't we try a tale that features all our instruments?"

    "I have just the tale..." Brock replied. "Once a boy was wandering through a forest one night, on his way home from a hunt. It was late that night, and there was no moon to light his way."

    Theresa swallowed hard, but Brock had other ideas. "Suddenly, he heard a scream way off in the distance, and a mage dashed through some nearby bushes. A pack of Mightyenas pursued him. The boy readied an arrow and fired at the biggest Mightyena, killing it. The rest of the Mightyenas fled in terror."

    Tintri and Kori cheered at this. "The mage was grateful, and promised his deliverer whatever he wished in return for spending the night with him." Brock went on.

    "I would desire nothing more than a night's rest--I have been hunting all day, and have lost my way back home." Ash jumped in the role of the boy.

    "The mage took the boy to his cabin that lay in a clearing." Brock continued. "No sooner had the boy arrived, did he lie down and fall into a deep sleep. After some time, the mage's servant girl was interested in how the boy saved her master. She asked him to tell her about the encounter. Once the boy had finished his tale, the servant girl instructed him..."

    "If my master asks if you desire a reward for saving his life, request the third Ponyta that in the stable." Dawn fills in the girl's dialogue.

    "Some time later, the mage returned with a grand haul from his hunt, and the three of them sat down to a great meal together." Brock continued. "Besides the meat, there was fruit of all kinds, the finest cheeses, and fresh water unlike any other. When the meal had ended, the mage asked the boy..."

    "I must thank you again for saving my life--do you desire any reward?" he asked in character as the mage.

    "I only want the third Ponyta in the stables." Ash replied as the boy.

    "The mage tried again and again to talk the boy into reconsidering his offer, but the boy insisted on the Ponyta." Brock went on as the group retrieved their instruments. "Finally, the mage relented, and also granted the boy three magic instruments--a guitar..."

    He strummed a slow G chord for effect. "...a fiddle..."

    Dawn stroked a few notes for effect. "...and a flute...."

    Lola giggled as Ash played a high trill for effect. "The boy was told that should he ever be in danger, to play the guitar first." Brock explained. "If no help came, he was to play the fiddle, and if still no help came, to play the flute."

    "Remember those instruments--they'll be important later!" Ash reminded their small audience...

    ---------

    ..."You would think by now, the groom would know to leave the boy alone, but no..." Brock intoned as he approached the story's climax. "Some time later, the groom appeared before the king a third time. He said that he had overheard the boy saying that he wished to have the throne for himself. Once again, the groom was lying through his teeth, but the king was angry enough to believe him."

    "NO!!!!" Theresa gasped.

    "The king was so angry, he didn't even bother to give the boy a trial, and ordered the boy killed right away." Brock continued. "The day of the execution came, and the boy was asked if he had any last requests. The boy nodded, and asked if he could play one last tune on the guitar. Leave was granted, and no sooner had the boy touched the strings, the executioner found himself dancing in spite of himself."

    Tintri led the clapping as Brock proceeded to play "The Bluk Berry Flower" on his own guitar.

    "By the time the boy had finished, the executioner was so tired, he delayed the execution for a day." Brock continued when the applause quieted. "The story of the miracle guitar spread like wildfire. The next morning, a huge crowd had turned out to witness the execution. When asked if he had any last requests, the boy asked if he could play one last tune on the fiddle. No sooner had the bow met the strings, not only did the executioner dance, but so did everyone else in the crowd."

    Theresa led the clapping as Brock and Dawn launched into a guitar and fiddle rendition of "The Trainer's Cap". "By the time the boy finished, it was dark out, and so the execution was delayed another day." Brock went on. "On the third day, when the boy was asked if he had any last requests, he asked if he could play one last tune on the flute. The king refused him at first--he had bad memories of dancing away another day. But the princess interceded, saying that it was his last request, and a prisoner's last request was not to be denied. So the king plugged his ears with wax, and the groom tied himself to a tree to protect themselves. But no sooner had the boy blown one note, did the rest of the crowd dance again, barring the king and the groom."

    Ash started the tune "The Meowth's Call" for effect. "After a few minutes, the mage appeared to the boy in a rush of wind and light." Brock narrated when Ash had finished the tune.

    "What sort of danger are you in, that you have called for me?" he asked as the mage again.

    "Someone present here has spoken a lie against me, and now the king wants to put me to death. The executioner is waiting for me to finish my song." Ash explained in character as the boy.

    "The mage, meanwhile, charged some red light in his hands and called..." Brock narrated before calling in character. "Out of the ground, raze all greenery with flame! Fire!"

    He played a mystical flourish with Dawn to mimic the spell. "No sooner had the mage spoke, did a fireball come flying from the mage's hands, setting the gallows ablaze."

    "And who was it that brought a false charge against you?" he asked as the mage again.

    Ash points at an imagined person as Brock narrated "The boy pointed out the groom--who was still bound to the tree-- and the mage charged another ball of light, this one blue, and called..."

    "Scatter your chilly sharp blades! Ice!"

    Lola batted the bells at the entryway to mimic the spell. "Icicles came flying from the mage's hands, and they sliced up the tree and the groom to little pieces." Brock went on. "The king then realized that the boy was innocent, and that his groom had been lying to him all along."

    "Thank Arceus..." Theresa's grandmother was relieved the boy would be all right.

    "So he ordered the boy freed, and offered the princess' hand in marriage as an apology. Brock concluded. "And so the boy and the princess were married. But the boy kept the three instruments and his Ponyta with him, just in case he needed their power again."

    Theresa's grandmother led the applause. "Bravo! You three must have real talent to put on that kind of show! Are any of you competing in the Fantasy Stage?"

    "I am..." Brock started before Sugar ran into his arms with a grateful hug.

    "It's a miracle...Sugar's her old self again!" Theresa smiled as Brock and Sugar shared an intimate embrace.

    ---------

    "Before you three go, Sugar has something for you." Theresa began as she met the group a few days later. "Thanks to your talents, you managed to inspire Sugar. Our event was a success, now that she's happy again!"

    Sugar approached the group and opened the cake box in her paws. Inside lay some small cakes decorated to resemble musical instruments. [As thanks for your music and stories, I made these instrument cakes for you to share on your journey.]

    "Aw, they're cute!" Dawn smiled as she looked down at a fiddle shaped cake, complete with sparkling silver icing for the strings and the hair on the bow.

    "Yeah, they're almost too cute to eat." Ash smiled as everyone laughed in agreement...

    To Be Continued...
     
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    Episode 22: Oh, Do You Know the Poffin Plan?


    "Here we are, gang--Floaroma Town." Brock began as a large city nestled in a wide array of flowery fields appeared in the distance.

    He smiled. "They don't call it 'the town that smells vividly of flowers' for nothing."

    "These are so pretty!" Dawn raved as she hurried to sniff the marigolds growing at the entrance.

    "I'm glad you think the flowers beautiful, travelers." an old woman smiled as she watched Dawn run around the field. "The story goes that long ago, this place was barren and without any kind of vegetation. A beautiful woman went to the hill and expressed gratitude to the Legendaries in heaven. Arceus was touched by the song of prayer, which resulted in flowers growing by the millions. This created the town we know today."

    "Fascinating." Ash smiled. "Maybe the tales are true."

    "Whether they are true or not, you'll have to decide for yourself." the woman assured Ash.

    "As a traveling storyteller, I would like permission to learn and tell this tale." Brock asked.

    "Of course--it warms my heart to see the young carrying on our world's traditions." the woman replied before departing.

    Dawn rejoined the group some time later as they neared the center of town. "Hm...Poffin cooking class today..." she mused as the group passed the community bulletin board.

    "What are those?" Ash wondered.

    "Poffins are Pokémon snacks that improve a Pokémon's condition." Dawn explained. "Mom made them all the time for Opal and her prizewinning Eevee. She often let me help her."

    "So, they're like Pokeblocks?" Ash as interested.

    "They have the same purpose, but Poffins appear to be something like a bread or pastry." Brock explained. "Not a hard block."

    "How bout it? You guys want to learn to make Poffins?" Dawn asked.

    "Sure!" Brock replied.

    "Why not?" Ash agreed. "This could actually be fun!"

    ---------

    "This must be the place..." Dawn noted as the group arrived at a large building with a stylized Poffin on the roof.

    "Aw..." Ash smiled as he watched a blue Pokémon with a lily pad on its head and an elegant plant-like Pokémon tend to a garden. "Reminds me of Lilly..."

    "Well, Lilly is at home, dancing with Tarina." Brock replied as the group approached the house.

    Ash nodded as he read up on the plant Pokémon:

    "Roserade, the bouquet Pokémon. With the movements of a dancer, it strikes with whips lined with poison thorns."

    "Wow...Gaia's going to turn into that?" Ash smiled. "Pretty and powerful..."

    "Hello, travelers...are you taking the cooking class?" a girl with dull teal hair asked as she met the group on the path.

    "Yes, we are." Dawn replied.

    The girl smiled. "Come on inside, then--my name is Forsythia, and I'll be guiding you in the fine art of Poffin."

    ---------

    "All right...aprons for you." Forsythia began as she tied on a dull green apron over her pale yellow outfit. "To make Poffins, you need a Berry. You also need butter, flour, sugar, eggs and the appropriate extract for flavor."

    "Sounds easy enough." Ash mused as Forsythia delivered some ingredients to him.

    He looked over the Berry basket at his workstation. "I'll use a Leppa Berry to start."

    "Good choice." Forsythia replied. "This will boost a Pokémon's Coolness. First, you prepare the dough as the pot warms."

    "Got it." Ash replied as he added in some soft butter and eggs to the pot at his workstation.

    "Okay, as you start adding in the dry ingredients, you have to stir it at a certain speed." Forsythia cautioned. "Go too fast, and it will spill. Go too slow, and it will burn."

    She observed Brock adding in flour to his own pot. "Just like that--stir in a little at a time."

    "Question!" Ash called. "What does it mean when the flames turn red and the dough turns brown?"

    "That means the dough is in the second stage of cooking." Forsythia assured Ash. "You can stir a little faster, but it is still possible to spill at this stage."

    "Got it." Ash replied.

    Forsythia, meanwhile, smiled as the flames around Dawn's pot turned blue. "You're doing well so far!" Once the flames around the edge of the Poffin pot turn blue, it will be impossible to spill dough. So stir as fast as you can for about 5 to 10 minutes until the Poffins are done."

    "Let's start with 5 minutes, then." Dawn smiled as she set her Poketch's kitchen timer.

    "You must know what you're doing." Forsythia smiled as Dawn continued stirring her dough.

    "My mom is a coordinator himself, so we made Poffin all the time at home." Dawn explained. "Although we didn't have a nice pot like this--we baked them in the oven."

    "Is it Poffin or Poffins?" Brock asked as he started the fast stir.

    "Both can be used interchangeably." Forsythia replied. "Keep going--you're almost done!"

    "Well, when you come from a large family like I do, cooking is an easy way to bond. It's also a fun way to teach math, science, and the value of a job well done." Brock grinned as he finished stirring. "I believe my dough is done..."

    ---------

    Bee-bee-bee-bee-bee... sang the Poketch timer, alerting the group that the Poffins were ready.

    "How are they, gang?" Dawn asked as she watched Kori, Lola, and Stormy nibble her Poffin.

    [What did you put in here? Chalk dust?] Kori gagged.

    [Chalk dust is candy compared to mine!] Tintri complained. [I feel like I've eaten charcoal!]

    Ash sweatdropped. All that work, and my team doesn't like it...

    Brock's Pokémon had a quite different reaction. [Mm...amazing as always!] Hinata raved as she bit into a blue Poffin.

    [Tarina would love the pink ones!] Terra agreed as she savored a yellow Poffin.

    [Not bad, coach--you could have your own cookin' show on TV if the storytellin' and music gig doesn't work out.] Kage raved. [I can see it now: 'Rock-Solid Recipes'!]

    The group did not notice the blob that had perked up in Brock's bag. [Mm...something smells amazing in here! Is Brock making cookies again?]

    ---------

    "It's okay if your team doesn't like your Poffins at first." Forsythia assured Ash as the group washed dishes. "Keep trying, and work on perfecting your recipe."

    "That makes me feel better a little." Ash smiled. "At least I didn't spill it or burn it."

    "Yes, you did well there." Forsythia agreed.

    She then addressed Dawn. "Each Pokémon has a Poffin preference, and there is a unique recipe for each. Copying your mother's recipe would be fine for her Glameow--Opal, was it? But it is ill suited for other Pokémon."

    "No wonder my team didn't like it..." Dawn mused, unaware one of her yellow Poffins had fallen to the ground...

    ---------

    "Using Noctis in that unofficial Contest turned out to be a bad idea..." Mars grumbled as the admins made camp in a bush.

    "How so?" Jupiter asked as she watched people coming and going down the streets of town.

    "I decided to go with a tough appeal theme, right?" Mars began. "First, I tried Fury Swipes, and he attacked me instead of the appeal we practiced!"

    She shuddered at the scratch wounds still on her arms. "Then I tried Dig to set up a combo with Rock Smash, but he decided to hide in the hole. When the audience started murmuring in concern, I checked to see where he went. Then he sprayed me!"

    Jupiter tried oh-so-hard not to laugh. "It's not funny...do you know how long it took me to get the Skuntank smell out of my costume?" Mars grumbled.

    [Forgive me for interrupting your tale of woe, boss, but I found these awesome tasting bun things in the grass!] Leona cried.

    "Poffins..." Jupiter recognized the small yellow buns in Leona's paws. "Maybe their energy could bring about the new world Lord Cyrus wants."

    "The Poffin house is right there..." Mars agreed, forgetting about her rant. "If Hat-boy and pals are in there, we can kill two bird Pokémon with one stone! We get something with energy for the team's plan, and our revenge on Hat-boy and pals!"

    ---------

    "Thank you, Rosie." Forsythia smiled as she handed the group a cup of mint tea.

    Dawn noticed the plant Pokémon back away after delivering some pastries. "Has your Pokémon always been this jittery?"

    "Rosie has been very shy and nervous for as long as I can remember." Forsythia replied. "It goes back to when I first met her, as a Budew, in a Pokémon Center some years ago. She went with me when she saw the flowers I was holding."

    "So, she bonded with you?" Ash was intrigued.

    "I gave Rosie a red scarf to keep her warm, and she evolved to Roselia and then Roserade." Forsythia replied. "She still has her anxious moments, but we've grown very close through the years."

    She was about to say more when a huge crash got the group's attention. "Forgive us for interrupting the touching story, but we'll be borrowing a gardenful of Berries." Jupiter sneered.

    "What on earth?" Forsythia gasped as Mars and Jupiter summoned Leona and Noctis.

    "Noctis, use Venom Drench!" Jupiter commanded.

    "Kage, use Poison Sting to block the poison wave!" Brock commanded as he saw an ominous purple wave about to drench Forsythia.

    [Comin' through!] Kage fired a poisonous needle at the Skuntank, dispelling the attack.

    "Kori uses Bubblebeam!" Dawn commanded.

    "Gaia, use Razor Leaf!" Ash called.

    Neither Ash or Dawn expected Leona to disappear and attack Kori from behind. "Gaia!" Ash yelped as Noctis Sucker Punched his own Budew!

    [Stop this, you rogues!] a female voice called before a flurry of glowing leaves went flying at the admins.

    "Rosie!" Dawn smiled when she saw the Roserade firing the shining rainbow leaves from a corner.

    "She decided to help us!" Brock was amazed.

    Now's my chance! Ash thought. "Tintri use Quick Attack!"

    "I think not, Hat-boy!" Mars giggled as she pressed a button on a remote, trapping the group in small cages.

    Forsythia ran to block the door. "What is it that you want?" she asked Jupiter. "Name your demands--I'll do anything if you let my guests go and give Rosie back."

    She looked over at Rosie, fighting back tears all the while. "Rosie...you are strong; even when you don't have your scarf. I'll always believe in you."

    [Hi-YAAAAAA!!!!] burst out of Mars hands, unleashing a torrent of Cheri blossoms that shredded the cages!

    "That's Petal Dance!" Dawn recognized the flurry of Cheri blossoms swirling about the room.

    Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... Ash began, making Mars and Jupiter gasp.
    Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
    Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
    At this line, Rosie's flower petals gained a rainbow sheen.
    Emusto koron zen fine, si...

    As Ash's last Bb rang through the air, Rosie fired a wave of rainbow petals, blasting away the admins in a rainbow explosion...

    ---------

    Forsythia gasped as fresh plants sprouted in place of the damaged ones. "I don't believe it...it's like the old legend!"

    "Maybe the Swanna Song was the song in the story?" Ash asked as Rosie offered him water.

    "It could be, and it may not--different versions of the story could have different songs." Brock reminded him.

    "Thank you..." Dawn hugged Forsythia. "I learned a lot today. Not just how to make Poffins, but how to raise a strong yet beautiful Pokémon like Roserade."

    Ash nodded in agreement. "Seeing Rosie battle makes me more determined than ever to train Gaia even more, so she can be a Roserade too!"

    To Be Continued...
     
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