(rated E10+ for fantasy stage violence) Episode 1: Welcome to the Scarlet Stage After a successful tour across Waku, the Niji Troupe became household names in the Tawame scene there--and the budding Tawame scene in Europa took notice. After receiving an invitation to come to the world famous Naranja Academy, Ash and the others took the chance to perform as a chance to introduce the wild and spirited Tawame world to the Paldean stage--with potential to tour other Europan regions too. But little did the gang know that their two honorary members would end up joining the troupe for good! The audience in the Naranja Academy's majestic theater watched as Brock--in a familiar green, gold, and white costume--approached an actor playing a warlord. "This has gone far enough, Hikouchi..." he intoned. "The Grand Dragon Ring belongs in the imperial palace--so if you will give it back to us, we will let you go peacefully, and forget this whole thing ever happened." "No!" the actor playing Hikouchi shot back. "Are you not aware of the Grand Dragon Ring's great power? With the ability to call Dragon Pokémon to my side, I could rule over all of Waku--no, the world!" Horrified gasps and "Oh no"s filled the theater as the actor playing Hikouchi grabbed May's arm, and dragged her to his side. "The Grand Dragon Ring is mine now!" the actor roared over a dramatic stinger. "If you lot dare to try and stop me..." The ring of a prop sword echoed through the majestic theater as the actor playing Hikouchi held a prop sword to May's throat, never mind that the blade was not sharp enough to do any real damage to a person. "The Six Spirits will be five...so do you really want to lose your precious little Beautifly?" In the audience, Juliana held Penny close as both sides stared each other down onstage. "Please...don't hurt Jade Beautifly!" Penny whispered, as if the actors onstage could hear her. "Hold it!" came a familiar voice from offstage. The actor playing Hikouchi glanced around the stage, still holding May and the prop blade. "Who's there? Show yourself!" A triumphant stinger and wild cheers revealed Ash--in a magnificent red, orange, gold and white costume--looking down on the actor playing Hikouchi from a platform above stage right. "I am Ruby Phoenix, the Spirit of Joy and Power!" he announced before elegantly jumping down before the actor playing Hikouchi and the struggling May. "You have nowhere to go now, Hikouchi!" he growled. "You'll have quite a lot to answer to in the imperial court--stealing a priceless treasure, stealing of other, more priceless treasures, ruining people's livelihoods, desecrating sacred spaces, evading capture, treason, kidnapping..need I go on?" Nervous giggles filled the theater as Ash approached the actor playing Hikouchi. "No matter how far you run, I will not rest until you have answered for your crimes!" The actor playing Hikouchi grimaced as fight actors playing troops joined him onstage. "Get him!" he barked, pointing at Ash. The theater filled with cheers as Ash expertly kicked down some of the fight actors, buying May time to wriggle out of the actor playing Hikouchi's grip and run safely into Brock's arms. But Juliana and Penny's cheers were the loudest as Ash expertly performed a well rehearsed fight progression... --------- Later, Ash, Misty, and Brock--now in their own training garb--took questions from the orange clad students about the play they had just performed, and some of their classmates joining the Niji Troupe on their impending Paldean tour. "How do you manage to fight without getting hurt?" Nemona asked. "We learn the fight scenes under supervision of a fight trainer." Ash explained. "The weapons we use are dulled to minimize the chance of injury, as well." "Even though our weapons are dulled, and the arrows only props, we still treat every weapon as if it is real--very carefully!" Misty agreed, to some giggles. "The fight trainers and spotters know what to do if something is even the slightest bit off--safety informs everything we do in a play." Brock added. He spotted Juliana's hand near the middle of the crowd. "Yes?" "How does archery work on a stage?" Juliana asked. "Archer characters are mainly support in a fight scene, but sometimes they take the lead in the fight." Brock explained. "I'm actually shooting at targets around the stage, which may trigger special effects to help the melee fighters, protect the melee fighters, or fire off one of my character's powers. If my character has to shoot at a person, I still shoot at a target hidden where the audience can't see, and the fight actor feigns a kill or an injury--so no one's actually harmed with my shots. So everyone has to know who is doing what and at what time for the fight scene to work." "So if you're wondering why there's very obviously glowing parts on our animatronics--those are actually targets for Brock to hit." Misty explained. "Is there anyone else with a question?" Señora Vega asked. When no one said anything, Misty addressed the crowd. "We've had a wonderful time performing for you, and are thrilled two of your own are joining us as honorary actors...but we'll need two more to go with us as guides." "I'll be happy to show you guys around Paldea!" Nemona volunteered. "Me too!" Juliana volunteered. "There's lots of theaters just in Mesagoza--I'm sure our friends at the Uva will be happy to see you perform for them too." "We do plan to perform for as many schools, academy, and theaters as we can on our route around Paldea." Misty assured Juliana as the teacher gave final instructions to the students who would stay behind. "But as thanks for being our guides, you'll get el tratamiento real--the royal treatment!"