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Pokemon Shine Diamond


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 57a: Pika and Goliath (part 1)

"It was a good thing we found a roadside picnic table..." Dawn smiled as the group enjoyed lunch together. "I'm sure you appreciate not cooking for once." she grinned at Brock.

"Yeah--I don't mind ordering out on occasion." Brock agreed. "Or picking up boxed lunches in town." He let that hang as he bit into the beef and cheddar sandwich he had ordered.

"That Combusken Caesar salad wrap looks delicious." Ash smiled as he bit into the crispy Combusken sandwich he'd ordered.

"I couldn't decide whether to eat healthily or indulge, and this was my solution." Dawn explained. "It was nice of the restaurant for the Pokemon to get their own box for free."

"To be fair, it was Pokemon Eat Free day." Brock smiled as he watched Hinata roast some of the Combusken meat in her box to her liking.

Tintri, meanwhile, gasped as the Leppa Berry slice he was about to eat slipped out of his paw. [Oops...]

[I'll help you get that Berry slice back!] Kori volunteered.

[Come on!] Tintri led Kori down the hill, being careful to keep the bouncing Leppa Berry slice in view.

The Pikachu and the Piplup stopped in their tracks when they saw a Pichu eating the Leppa slice. [Well, so much for that...] Kori sighed as she started back up the hill.

[Sho, come look!] the Pichu called, snapping Tintri and Kori to attention.

"What is it, Watt?" a boy with neatly slicked dull blue hair asked as he emerged from the brush.

He gasped when he spotted Tintri. "Wow...who know you could find wild Pikachus out here?"

Just then, Ash arrived. "Tintri, there you are!"

"Now, wait a minute!" the boy protested. "I found this Pikachu fair and square!"

"This Pikachu isn't wild, he has a name!" Ash protested. "You can't steal a named Pokemon from a trainer! You have to ask the trainer if they're willing to trade! And if they say no, then you have to respect that."

"Okay then, we'll trade." the boy offered. "I've got a number of Electric types I can offer for your Pikachu--interested in a Mareep?"

"No--I've already raised one to full power and beyond." Ash declined the offer.

"A Magnemite, then?" the boy offered.






"Forgive me for interrupting..." Brock interjected before realizing the boy had not told the group his name.

"Sho, please." the boy replied.

"Okay then, Sho...why do you want Ash to give you Tintri so badly?" Brock asked. "The two of them have been together for a long time..."

"Easy...I want to own a complete Pikachu family." Show replied. "I have Watt..." He petted the Pichu. "and I have Nitro, my Raichu. So all I need is Pikachu to complete the family."

"So, why don't you just evolve Watt?" Ash wondered.

"Then I'd have to catch another Pichu." Sho replied. "How about this--why don't we duel over your Pikachu? Nitro against your Pikachu--Tintree, was it?"

"You say it 'CHIN-tri'. Ash corrected Sho. "it's a short form of the Low Galarian word for 'lightning'"

"Okay--if CHIN-tree beats Nitro, you can keep him." Sho offered. "If Nitro beats him, CHIN-tree is mine."

"No." Ash shot back. "Tintri is my partner, and I won't let anyone take him away from me."

Dawn gasped as Tintri suddenly collapsed on the ground. "Oh no!"

"TINTRI!!!!" Ash screamed as he hurried to retrieve his woozy Pikachu.

"I'm dialing Pokemon Emergency Services right now..." Brock assured Ash as he dialed a three digit number on his PokeNav. "I can only hope Tintri can hang on long enough for him to get help..."


Ash's heart pounded as he watched Nurse Joy and her team of Chanseys desperately attempt to stabilize Tintri with a defibrillator. "Just how did Tintri suddenly black out like that?" he asked as Brock and Dawn joined him in the trainer waiting room.

"According to Nurse Joy, it was a combination of stress, anxiety, and overactive electrical glands." Dawn explained. "Brock did the right thing by calling Pokemon Emergency Services immediately--an overactive electrical gland is life threatening to the Pikachu family."

"It was nothing you said or did." Brock assured Ash "The way that Sho guy was acting, and the stress and anxiety of potentially being separated from you when he didn't want to sent his electrical glands into overdrive.

"That makes sense..." Ash replied, trying his hardest to keep his mind off the potential scenario of Tintri dying. Hang in there, bud...for me...

The door opening snapped the group to attention. "Okay...we finally managed to get your Pikachu stabilized." Nurse Joy explained. "His stress and anxiety levels were quite high--your friend saved your Pikachu's life by calling emergency services in time."

"Is Tintri going to be okay?" Ash asked.

"We managed to calm the overactive gland, but we will keep him in PICU for a few days to make sure the gland doesn't flare up again." Nurse Joy explained. "For the moment, he is stable--and eager to see you."

"Thank Arceus..." Ash smiled. "Can I go see him?"

"This way." Nurse Joy led the way into the PICU wing of the Pokemon Center and into a room in the Electric type wing, where a Chansey was making notes on Tintri.


[Ash!} Tintri smiled. [I'm so glad to see you! My life was flashing before my eyes for a second--when I rescued you and Misty both from those Spearows, seeing Ho'oh, all our Gym matches, seeing you use the Swanna Song for the first time, all the Pokemon we've met...]

"Well, I'm glad you're okay, too..." Ash gently hugged his companion. "I don't know what I'd do if I lost you..."

[Once I get the okay to battle again, I'm giving that Sho guy a piece of my mind.] Tintri muttered.

He smiled as he heard a familiar guitar tuning up. [Sweet! You remembered the guitar.] he told Brock.

"Well, I may not be an officially trained music therapist, but I can give you a song or two to help ease the pain." Brock assured Tintri before starting a soft adventurous melody...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: Electric Shock Memories

A few days later, the group listened as Nurse Joy observed Tintri sleeping. "Your Pikachu's making a great recovery--a far cry from what he looked like when emergency services brought him in a few days ago."

"When can I expect him to be in battling condition again?" Ash asked.

"You can actually start building his strength back up, so long as you don't overdo it at first." Nurse Joy replied. "If you were to start therapy today, Tintri can battle again in a few days."

"That's great news--any ideas for battle therapy?" Ash asked.

Nurse Joy gave Ash a sheet with ideas for rehabilitating an Electric type. "You can use these exercises to start. The rehab bay is also open to any Pokemon Center guest, if you need more ideas."

"Okay!" Ash smiled as Nurse Joy departed.

Dawn looked down on Tintri sleeping. "Has it ever crossed your mind to evolve Tintri?"

"Yes--but he never wanted to." Ash replied as he unzipped his bag and showed Dawn a green jewel with a yellow thunderbolt.

"That's a Thunder Stone!" Dawn gasped when she saw the jewel.

"It was a gift from the Vermilion City Joy--a long time ago." Ash explained. "I've kept it this long just in case Tintri ever wanted to evolve."

He noticed Brock had arrived in the room for his daily music therapy session with Tintri. "Brock, some appropriate music please--I want to tell Dawn about my match with Lt. Surge and Raika."

"I remember that match like yesterday..." Brock smiled as he started a relaxed melody that evoked Vermilion's harbor.

"This tale takes place not long after I started my first trip around Kanto." Ash explained. "We arrived in Vermilion after two weeks of traveling--Brock, my friend Misty, and me."

"You'll have to tell me more about Misty later." Dawn smiled. "She could be right at home as a coordinator."

"Actually, she prefers the Pokethlon as her activity of choice." Ash explained. "Anyway, Brock and Misty were eager to rest and relax, but me being a hotheaded young trainer at the time, I was more concerned about finding the Vermilion Gym."

"I remember telling you Tintri was in no condition to battle." Brock remembered as he continued his song.

"As we rested in the Pokémon Center, we saw a badly beaten-up Rattata." Ash went on. "But that poor Rattata was the tip of the iceberg--there were hundreds of other badly beaten Pokemon there. It was a wonder some of them were still alive."

"That sparking Sandshrew still haunts me to this day." Brock shuddered as his song turned somber.

"Nurse Joy told us that all the Pokemon had lost to Lt. Surge, the Vermilion City Gym Leader." Ash explained. "I was beginning to have second thoughts about taking him on myself, never mind I had earned my first two badges fair and square--although Misty begged to differ on my Boulder Badge. Brock came to my defense, saying I had gotten it fairly. But before a big fight broke out, Tintri emerged from the exam area."

"Since then, she knows you got my Badge fairly." Brock agreed. "You put in a heroic effort, and that's what I wanted to see."

"So, how did Tintri react to all those battered Pokemon?" Dawn wondered.

[I was white as a Gastly!] Tintri replied. [I was scared I'd be another notch on the Gym Leader's belt!]

"But we went to the Gym anyway.' Ash went on.

"I still remember the cadence the Pikachus chanted when you came in..." Brock smiled. "I don't know, but I've been told, the very best get a badge of gold!"

"Needless to say, 'the troops' did not give me a warm welcome." Ash admitted. "And then I saw Surge's Raichu, Raika, who was very much like her master--a trained electric soldier. In a way, Nitro reminded me of Raika."

"No wonder Tintri was afraid of Nitro..." Dawn mused.

"Surge thought evolution was the way to go, but even then, I believed that there was more to a Pokémon battle than evolution alone." Ash went on. "He even went so far to call me such names as 'private', 'baby', and 'maggot'!"

"Wow..." Dawn gasped at the humiliating names.

"That's only the ones we can mention in polite company..." Brock shuddered over the marching song he played.

"Tintri decided enough was enough, and vowed to defend my honor." Ash went on. "He was soundly thrashed, but he was furious at being beaten. Nurse Joy gave me that Thunder Stone that evening, but Brock warned me to think carefully before using it."

"You obviously didn't use it, right?" Dawn smiled.

"Nope--Tintri whacked it away." Ash remembered.

[I vowed to beat Raika as I was, or die trying!] Tintri smiled. [In honor and support of all Pikachu everywhere!]

"We learned that Lt. Surge had evolved Raika the moment he caught her." Ash continued. "While it gave her great power, there was one glaring weakness--the lack of speed."

"I see--she didn't learn all the speedy attacks Pikachu get." Dawn smiled.

"Tintri used that to his advantage to beat Raika, and win me a Thunder Badge, and Lt. Surge's respect." Ash finished his tale. "When we left, he actually called me General Ash, because of my skilled tactics."

He set the Thunderstone on a counter. "I'll leave this here for now--let's get Tintri to rehab."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 57b: Pika and Goliath (part 2)

Tintri sat up in his bed later that night to stretch. [This rehab's sure working wonders!] he yawned. [At least Nurse Joy and the Chansies are here if I need anything.]

He grimaced when he saw the Thunder Stone. [Ash is STILL carrying around that rock after all this time? I STILL don't want to change...] he muttered as he rolled over.

As he lay there in the covers, Tintri replayed the day he had promised Ash he wasn't going to change in his mind. [It's just like Raika back then--if I could beat her, I can beat Sho's Raichu Nitro just the way I am!]

He climbed off the bed and out a window overlooking the Pokemon Center's yard. [I feel confident enough to see if I'm back in fighting shape...]


"That was a great movie!" Dawn smiled as she led the way back to the room. "Let's go see if Tintri's asleep...

She froze when she saw the room empty. "Weird...where did Tintri go?"

"My Thunder Stone is still there..." Ash noted as he spotted his Thunder Stone still on the table.

"Then that means..." Brock started, only to see a huge thunderbolt light up the night sky. "Whoa!"

Ash's worried look turned to joy. "Tintri!" he called as he pointed out Tintri in the yard, charging up to use Volt Tackle.

"He was in the yard the whole time!" Dawn was also relieved as she followed Ash to the yard.

Ash applauded as Tintri streaked into the rock, creating another electric explosion. "That was great! I think you're close to being able to battle again."

[I was doing some more practice on that Volt Tackle exercise we did in rehab today.] Tintri explained. [Forgive me if I worried you guys.]

"But why be doing exercise this late?" Brock was confused.

[Remember when we battled Lt. Surge and Raika?] Tintri asked. [Sho and his Raichu Nitro reminded me of them. So I've been putting in extra practice so when I am cleared to battle, I can give him a piece of my mind for even thinking I was his.]

"Keep exercising like that, and you should be cleared to battle as soon as tomorrow." Dawn assured Tintri as the group went back inside.

[I kept my promise then, and I still intend to keep it now--just like I beat Raika, I'm gonna beat Nitro as I am, or die trying!] Tintri smiled. [In honor and support of all Pikachu everywhere!]

"Well, let's get you cleared to battle again first." Brock assured Tintri as he tucked him in bed...


Dawn watched as Tintri leaped to catch a red thunderbolt Frisbee some days later. "I'm happy Tintri was cleared to travel and cleared to battle..." she smiled as she watched Ash and Tintri run about a field.

"Looks to me like that Frisbee exercise is his favorite..." Brock agreed as he watched Tintri bring back the Frisbee for Ash to throw again.

Before Ash could make another heave, a jolt of electricity burst out of the trees, interrupting the game. "Sho!" Ash recognized the electric burst. "Sho and Nitro are here!"

[Bout time...] Tintri replied as the group found Nitro shocking a few trees as Sho looked on.

Sho noticed the group and smiled. "Glad to see your Pikachu's all better...maybe now you'll consider giving him to me?"

"No...Tintri and I have been too much." Ash replied, trying his hardest not to lash out at Sho. "But if you want him so badly, let's duel for his fate!"

"Okay...but even though I'm gonna win, you're more than welcome to try and fight Nitro." Sho replied.

He heaved a Poke Ball skyward. "Watt, come see this!"

[I'll have you know that a Pikachu can beat a Raichu!] Tintri taunted as Brock drew a Poke Ball in the grass. [I have beaten Raichus, and I can beat you too!]

"We'll see..." Sho smirked. "On your count." he told Brock.

"Okay...3...2...1..." Brock's whistle echoed through the forest, signaling to the wild Pokemon that a battle was underway.

"Nitro, use Iron Tail!" Sho called.

He balked as Tintri spun over Nitro's head. "Errgh...Nitro, try Iron Tail in the other direction!"

"Tintri, try your own Iron Tail!" Ash countered.

Both silver tails clashed with a CLANG, forcing Dawn to shield her eyes. She peeked through long enough to see Tintri leaping and jumping over more Iron Tails. That attack's brighter than it looks... she thought as both Pikachu and Raichu clashed again with a silver flash. I'll have to ask Ash what appeal type it is later...

Her vision cleared enough to see Tintri use Quick Attack to slam into Nitro's stomach. Nitro went flying backwards, but was able to stay on his feet. Angry, he charged at Tintri with an Iron Tail. Tintri leaped away, and used his own Iron Tail on Nitro's stomach.

Tintri saw Nitro heaving with exhaustion. This is it! My chance to shine!

Dawn smiled as he saw the electric burst of Volt Tackle. "Go, Tintri!" she cheered as Tintri's powerful attack knocked Nitro down.

"Nitro, use Hyper Beam!" Sho called.

"What the..." Ash gasped as he watched Nitro charge a familiar orange beam. "Tintri, use Thunderbolt!"

Dawn watched the electric orange explosion in awe. But when the smoke cleared, Brock's whistle confirmed that Tintri was still standing. "Game Set! This match goes to Diamond."

"YEAH!!!" Ash cried as he hurried to hug Tintri.

Sho looked surprisingly calm as he collected Nitro. "Now I know that CHIN-tree is yours." he began. "I feel stupid trying to take him from you when the two of you have a beautiful bond."

"Besides, there's plenty of Pikachu in this area." Dawn agreed as Ash and Sho shook hands.

"Yeah...and when I do get my Pikachu, I want its bond with me to be as close as you two." Sho smiled.

"Bye!" Ash waved as Sho departed. "Good luck!"

"We'd better be on our way ourselves." Brock mused as the group got back on the main road.

"Out of curiosity, what appeal type is Iron Tail?" Dawn asked.

Ash brought up the move database in his Pokedex. "It is a very appealing Cool move. It makes a nice combo with Iron Defense..."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 58a: Our Cup Runneth Over (part 1)

"The Contest world is on fire as Contest Master Wallace comes to Shinou!" Rhonda began. "Many of you know Wallace is the former Sootopolis City Gym Leader, and current Hoenn League Champion. Many more of you know that he ventured into Pokémon Contests, and went beyond Grand Coordinator, becoming a Contest Master. Considered to be the pride and envy of Pokémon Coordinators everywhere, Wallace travels around the world hosting the Wallace Cup, a special event open to all Coordinators from all over the world. This year's competition will take place at Lake Valor, and entries are pouring in from all over the world..."

Dawn gasped as she watched the unfolding report. "You hear that? Wallace is coming to Lake Valor! They say he's won every Contest and Grand Festival he's ever entered!"

She hurried out to the yard with Lola. "Let's go tell the boys!"


"Gaia, use Energy Ball!" Ash called to his Pokemon. "Tintri, use Iron Tail!"

[HAH!] Tails blocked Tintri's silvery tail.

[Let's go out for a little spin!] Tintri smirked before spinning his tail in circles, throwing Tails across the yard.

Ash couldn't resist laughing as Tails went flying, landing at the west end of the yard. "You okay, Tails?"

[When you said Tintri packs a punch, you weren't kidding!] Tails wheezed as he waited for his vision to clear.

"Great work, everyone!" Ash smiled. "We'll make a splash at Pastoria Gym for sure!"

"Seems Tintri learned a thing or two from Nitro, Sho's Raichu." Brock smiled as he watched Lola and Tintri dance to the music from the Pokemon Center's PA system.

"I'm planning on using Electric and Grass Pokémon to get the upper hand in my upcoming match." Ash explained. "Besides, you said the Pastoria City Gym Leader is known to use Water-type Pokémon."

"That's true, so training Gaia and Tintri is a good idea." Brock replied.

"The question is, who else could I use besides Tintri and Gaia?" Ash wondered. "I'll need a backup in case either one of them fall..."

[Pick me!] Erin called. [I culd turn te tide for ye!]

Dawn smiled as she watched Ash assure Erin that she would get a chance to fight, but she wasn't ready for a Gym match yet. Ash is so cool--it helps his training style is amazing, too.

I agree wholeheartedly. Satomi agreed as she warped by Dawn's side.

She approached Ash as he tidied up the yard. "You know, I love how you give your all in whatever you do--training or something else. That, and how do you just bounce back from a loss?"

"There really is no big secret." Ash replied. "Just cheer for your Pokemon when things go right, comfort them when things go wrong, and just be there for them through it all.

Dawn nodded, and shepherded her team close to her. "I know you guys been worried about me since the Solaceon Contest. But things are looking up--we can still reach the Grand Festival if we all work hard and believe in each other!"

Dawn's team cheered as Nurse Joy arrived with the Shinou News Now crew. "Forgive me for interrupting your training, but--!" Nurse Joy started.

Ash facepalmed when he heard a familiar guitar playing an F chord. Joy, oh Joy, would you marry me now? Brock sang to the tune of a folk song. With a--!

[Oh no, big guy, she cannot marry you, for she has a lover of her own!] Kage shot back as he dragged Brock away, guitar and all.

"So, what can we do for you, Rhonda?" Ash asked, trying oh so hard not to laugh at Brock's humiliated look.

"Have you guys seen Wallace around here at all?" Rhonda asked.

"No, why?" Dawn wondered as she combed out an errant tangle. "Do you want to interview him, or something?"

"Who's he?" Ash wondered.

Rhonda showed the boys a back issue of PokeChic depicting a young man with blue-green hair in a sailor-like suit with a Milotic. "He is one of the very few Contest Masters in the world."

"Every coordinator, myself included, wants to meet Wallace at least once in their lives." Dawn explained. "To give you an idea of how good he is, a Contest Master is beyond a Grand Coordinator or a Divine Coordinator. Only a select few coordinators ever get that good."

"So a Grand Coordinator is someone that won their first Grand Festival." Brock guessed. "A Divine Coordinator has won a lot more, and a Contest Master has won too many to count?"

"Something like that." Rhonda replied. There are more ranks of coordinator between those three ranks, however."

She changed the subject. "Wallace regularly travels across the world holding and promoting Pokémon Contests bearing his name, the Wallace Cup. The ribbon you win there, the Aqua Ribbon, counts as an official ribbon at any contest anywhere in the world. As I said in my earlier report, this year's Wallace Cup is taking place at Lake Valor."

"It's worth a shot." Brock mused as he showed Dawn MapNav. "Lake Valor is right on the way to Pastoria City."

"Sign me up, then!" Dawn smiled. "Where is Wallace now? I've always wanted to get appeal advice from a master!"

"Well, today is his day off." Rhonda admitted. "His whole staff won't tell me where he is, but sources tell me he's somewhere near here. Besides, a piece on what Wallace does offstage would be priceless."

As the crew turned to leave, she told the group "If you see Wallace anywhere, let me know!"

"We will!" Ash smiled back as he waved goodbye.

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 58b: Our Cup Runneth Over (part 2)

"Next question--where was Wallace last spotted?" Ash wondered as the group walked through a forest.

Brock snapped to attention when he heard an ethereal human-like voice in the distance. "That voice...something's here!"

"Come on!" Ash, led the way through the brush. When the group emerged into the mist on a lake, they spotted a familiar cream serpentine Pokemon with sparkling scales and pink "hair". "A Milotic..." Ash gasped as the beautiful serpent Pokemon continued singing for a teal haired man in a sailor-like outfit.

"Reminds me of Ardan's Milotic, Tenko." Brock remembered.

Dawn decided to read up on the lovely Pokemon:

"Milotic, the tender Pokemon. Its lovely scales are described as rainbow colored. They change color depending on the viewing angle.

"I see..." Dawn mused as she noticed the man on a rock nearby. "Wallace!" she called, waving to get the man's attention.

"Hello there, miss." Wallace smiled as he got up from the rock and approached the group. "I am honored you and your companions came all this way to see me and Celeste."

"Well, I've always wanted to see you." Dawn explained. "As an aspiring coordinator myself, I thought it would be best to learn from a master."

"Being a master coordinator is not easy." Wallace explained. "Since I have been here, I have made the rounds on all the talk shows, done hundreds of press conferences, and even at the hotel, my fans gather just to see me."

"Wow..." Ash gasped.

"This was why I asked the staff for a day off to spend some quality time with Celeste." Wallace smiled.

Something occurred to him. "Oh listen to me ramble! I never thought to ask your names..." he chuckled.

"I'm Dawn..." Dawn replied, and these two are my trainer companion Ash..."

"Hi!" Ash smiled.

"...and Brock, or navigator and renaissance man." Dawn gestured to Brock, who was keeping a watchful eye on Tintri and Kori.

"Pleased to meet you." Brock replied as he watched Tintri and Kori romp through the shallows with Celeste.

"Celeste is so pretty..." Dawn smiled. "How do you take care of something so beautiful?"

"It's not about what beauty products you use, or their training regimen." Wallace explained. "Above all, the bond you share with your Pokemon informs everything else you do."

Just like Ash has said before.... Dawn smiled. "Um, I won't tell anyone you're here. Forgive me if I disturbed your day off..."

"Oh no, it's all right!" Wallace assured Dawn. "I enjoy mentoring the next generation of superstars--trainer and coordinator alike."

"All right--I'm hoping to enter your Cup." Dawn explained. "I've struggled a lot on my Contest journey, and need help with appeals."

"Okay--do you feel comfortable showing me some appeals?" Wallace asked. "Once I have a look at what you do on the contest stage, we can determine what you are doing well, and what needs work."

"I-I don't have anything prepared yet..." Dawn confessed.

"Even though I'm primarily a trainer, I do have a Contest Pass, and I have competed in a few competitions." Ash explained. "So why don't Dawn and I have a little appeal demo?"

"A marvelous idea." Wallace smiled. "You're not the first trainer that has moonlighted as a coordinator, and you likely won't be the last."


"Tails, come on out!" Ash called, revealing his Buizel to Wallace.

"Come on Kori!" Dawn shepherded her Piplup by her.

"Dawn is trying to follow in her mother's footsteps as a Grand Coordinator." Brock explained as he watched Ash and Dawn make their preparations. "The name Joanna Solberg ring a bell? Dawn is her daughter."

"Yes--Joanna has always been a legend on the Contest scene, and it is always exciting when daughter follows mother, or son follows father." Wallace smiled.

Brock stepped before Ash and Dawn. "Okay--here's how this is going to work. Each of you will get a chance to do one appeal of your choice at a time. There's no scoring, no pressure--just a friendly demonstration. After each of you have appealed once, Wallace will offer feedback for each of you. That fair?"

"Those are fair rules." Wallace replied.

"No qualms here." Ash replied.

"No questions for me." Dawn replied.

Brock dug a coin from a pocket. "We'll determine who goes first with a coin flip."

He showed Ash and Dawn the coin. "Pikachu face is heads...Kanto League crest is tails."

"Heads!" Ash called as Brock flipped the coin.

"Tails!" Dawn called.

Brock checked the coin when it landed in the grass. "It's heads...Ash will go first."

Ash thought for a moment, then heaved a Frisbee over the water. "Tails, use Aqua Jet!"

Wallace watched Tails use Aqua Jet to power over the water and catch the Frisbee as water rained around him. "Very nice! If this was a real Contest, you would be first to appeal on the second turn."

"Kori, use Whirlpool!" Dawn called.

Wallace watched in awe as Kori created a shimmering Whirlpool that rippled over the lake. "Impressive!" he smiled. "Were this a real contest, you would have a nice combo with Aqua Jet."

"Really?" Dawn was impressed.

"It would also temporarily halt the excitement meter for the rest of the turn." Wallace explained. "You can use this tactic when the meter is about to max to guarantee that you will max the meter out and earn a lot of hearts."

"Interesting...I'll keep that in mind!" Dawn smiled.

"Now then...on to your feedback for the first round." Wallace began. "Ash...since Tails is fond of battling, it would be interesting to see his moves in a Contest. Maybe you should participate in the Wallace Cup too."

"Are you sure?" Ash asked. "Contests and battles are way different from each other--I doubt I would be any good on that big a stage."

"I would love to see you participate--Tintri could have the talent, as well." Dawn smiled. "How will you know you won't do well unless you try?"

"Okay...if we can find me a costume, I'll consider entering with Tintri." Ash replied.

"All right, now for you, Dawn." Wallace began. "You have a nice selection of moves for Kori, and you have clearly spent a lot of time polishing them. However, I fear that you may be focusing too much on well-rehearsed moves. If you allow the Pokemon to relax and be itself, it will feel more at ease onstage, and make better appeals."

"How do I go about keeping it natural?" Dawn asked.

"Concentrate on a Pokémon's basic attributes--be this Coolness, Beauty, Cuteness, Smartness, or Toughness." Wallace replied. "As important as it is to work hard, don't forget to play hard too."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 58c: Our Cup Runneth Over (part 3)

The group balked as Mars, as Marta, emerged from the brush. "Hi there, Sir Wallace--my name's Marta--!"

It suddenly dawned on Mars who she was talking to. "Oh, Arceus, you're THE Wallace???

Jupiter facepalmed from the brush as Mars cornered Wallace and Celeste. "Oh wow! I never dreamed I'd see a Contest Master up close! They say you're better than a Grand Coordinator!"

"It seems my reputation has preceded me." Wallace smiled, unfazed by the starstruck Mars.

Dawn was equally impressed. "I'm amazed Wallace didn't look unnerved by Marta getting in his face like that!"

"He's probably used to fans getting a little too close for comfort, so it takes a lot for someone like Wallace to get rattled." Brock suggested.

Wallace gently pushed Mars away. "As I was saying before we were rudely interrupted...as important as it is to work hard, don't forget to play hard too."

He motioned for Celeste to take to the water. "Now that you have shown me some appeals, it's my turn to show you some of my favorites."

Ash opened his Pokedex and set the movelist to Contest mode. "So I can tell you what Wallace's moves are and what they do in a Contest scenario." he explained to Dawn.

"Okay, Celeste...start the music!" Wallace called.

The Milotic obediently tapped PLAY on Wallace's PokeNav, then swam out into the water, surrounding herself with mist and a pale green light as a regal Celtic melody played.

"That was Safeguard--it is a Beautiful move that relaxes both Pokemon and the audience." Ash explained.

He watched as a ring of bubbles circled elegantly around Celeste. "That was Aqua Ring--it is a Beautiful move that makes up for its low Appeal by combining with Safeguard."

He watched Celeste fire an orb of purple energy into the sky, dispersing the bubbles with a purple-blue explosion. "That was Dragon Pulse--it is a very appealing Beautiful move that can combine with most any Dragon type move." he explained as Celeste took a bow for the group and Mars.

Jupiter emerged from the brush and gently petted Celeste. "Her skin is so soft..."

She jumped away as Celeste gathered wind and water around her, then sent it flying. "That was Twister--a very appealing Cool move that can combine with Dragon Pulse for an amazing combo." Ash explained.

Mars' applause was the most enthusiastic. "Can you teach my Purugly Aqua Ring?"

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Purugly can't learn Aqua Ring." Wallace replied, making Mars sweatdrop.

"Thanks, Wallace--I learned quite a bit!" Dawn smiled as she hugged Wallace.

"Yeah, thanks for the show!" Ash agreed.

"And thank you, for showing me your skills." Wallace replied. "I hope to see you two in the Cup soon."

He motioned for Celeste. "Come on, Celeste...it's time to go."


Later, the group watched on a TV as Wallace gave yet another interview to a Contest show. "While I did learn a lot today, I think I still have a long way to go before being able to appreciate what's truly special about my Pokémon." Dawn mused.

"Well, remember what Wallace said--you need to play as hard as you work." Brock reminded Dawn.

"That, and you just need to let your Pokemon be themselves instead of focusing on big shows all the time." Ash agreed.

"Forgive me for interrupting your conversation, but you have a call waiting for you." Nurse Joy explained as she approached Ash.

"Really? Who from?" Ash asked, intrigued.

"Someone named May Alder." Nurse Joy replied.

An excited look formed on Ash's face. "I'll be right there!"

"I've wondered what became of May after we left Houen..." Brock agreed as Ash hurried to the call center to take his call.

Ash looked over each of the video phones until he found one with a blinking green light--the signal that a call was coming in. After hitting the ACCEPT button, he smiled at the familiar image of a brown haired girl with a green bandanna on the screen. "Hello?"

"Ash, hi!" May smiled back. "Have you heard about the Wallace Cup?"

"Oh, you're competing in that too?" Ash asked. "I was thinking to compete myself..."

May nodded. "If all goes well, me and my team should meet you by Lake Valor tomorrow morning--then we can get you a costume, and catch up on what's happened since the Eterna dance contest..."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 59a: Our Own Brand of Power! (part 1)

Ash watched as the water of Lake Valor rippled with the sunshine beaming on the water. "Any sign of her yet?" Dawn asked as she arrived with Kori.

"Not yet." Ash replied as he kept an eye on the lake and the sparkling water. "I did have a nice chat with May last night..."

"Oh? What all did you talk about?" Dawn asked as Brock joined them on the pier.

"Basically how she's doing in Johto, how you've been since the dance contest, and where she'll go from here after Johto." Ash replied. "She still remembers you, and is excited to be competing with you in a real contest."

Just then, Dawn spotted a Beautifly flitting across the lake. "Is that..." Dawn gasped as she consulted her Pokedex:

"Beautifly, the butterfly Pokemon. Vibrantly patterned wings are its prominent feature. It sucks sweet flower nectar with its long mouth."

Ash looked up and gasped as the Beautifly landed on his head. "Niji...is that you?"

[Hi!] the Beautifly giggled. [It's nice to see you again!]

A boat whistle got his attention. "She's here!" he called, waving to a familiar brown haired girl on the approaching boat. "May! Welcome back!"

"I missed you too!" May called back as the boat pulled up to the pier.


After disembarking from the boat, May and Ash first shared a long embrace. "I've been quite enjoying my Johto trip." May began. "Your travel guide's been very helpful."

She then unzipped her traveling bag. "I didn't forget to get you guys some souvenirs--these are from the Ecruteak Market."

Ash accepted a book from May. "'Folk and Fairy Tales from Johto'...sounds interesting."

"We may have to look at that together later." Brock smiled as Ash thumbed through the pages, intrigued by the scenes of heroes, monsters, and Pokemon on every page.

May gave Brock a raft shaped bundle with exquisite designs. "For you, Brock--a new instrument for the collection. These are handmade panpipes with Beast-inspired designs."

Brock admired the beautiful panpipes for a moment. "These must sound as good as they look..."

"Go on, play something!" May smiled. "I insist!"

Brock thought for a minute for a suitable song, then decided to play a soft, quiet melody that rang across the lake. "Wow! That was very nice!" Dawn raved as she led the applause.

"That was, appropriately enough, 'The Phoenix's Prayer', a song composed in memory of those that fell when the Tin Tower burned." Brock explained as he tapped out his new panpipes and put them away. "I'm still working on learning it, so I apologize for any mistakes."

"Keep practicing, and I'm sure it'll sound beautiful." May smiled before unearthing a necklace with a jewel studded Piplup. "And for you, Dawn--in honor of Kori."

[It's beautiful!] the real Kori raved as Dawn put the necklace on.

"Yeah--thanks for the gifts!" Ash smiled as he put his new lorebook in his bag.

"Consider this my song of thanks." Brock smiled as he unwrapped his new panpipes again, then started a joyful march-like melody that rang across the harbor.

"So, how's Max doing?" Ash asked May over the music.

"He is home at Petalburg Gym, taking care of Dad's Pokémon, just like Brock showed him." May replied, just as Brock finished his song, to applause from curious onlookers.

"How long have you been in Shinou?" Dawn asked.

"I arrived here three days ago--there was something I wanted to do in Snowpoint City first." May explained.

She heaved a Poke Ball skyward. "Neva, come on out!"

Ash smiled when he saw the familiar cyan and blue fox Pokemon May had summoned. "You decided to evolve Neva into Glaceon?" he asked.

"Glaceon, the fresh snow Pokemon. It can control its body temperature at will. This enables it to freeze the moisture in the atmosphere, creating flurries of diamond dust." Dawn's Pokedex explained.

"There is an ice cave near Snowpoint City, which houses a huge ice crystal that makes Eevee evolve into Glaceon." May explained. "I thought it would be fun to return to Johto with a newly evolved Pokémon."

"Here I was thinking Neva was a cute name at the time you got her." Ash admitted. "But now it makes sense."

"Ash told me about your struggles." May began as she showed Dawn her own ribbon collection. "But I'm in the same boat as you--Drew or Harley always manage to capitalize on a combo setup I make, and max out the excitement meter."

"Well, it makes me feel better knowing you're struggling too." Dawn smiled. "I very nearly wanted to give up after one choke too many, but Satomi, the boys, and everyone else urged me to keep trying."

"Maybe the Wallace Cup could be both of their comeback Contests." May smiled.

"Yeah...win or lose, we could inspire each other." Dawn agreed.

A stomach growl got the girls' attention. "I hate to interrupt the discussion, but is anyone else hungry for lunch?" Ash asked.

"You are in luck!" May smiled. "I managed to score reservations at the Grand Wok--the most popular restaurant at the Lakefront."

"Wow, really?" Dawn gasped.

"I've heard their stir fries are legendary." Brock smiled as May led the group towards a large pagoda-like building near the docks. "Any seafood comes directly from the lake."


"Wow...lakeside table and everything." Ash smiled as he bit into an egg roll.

"I'm amazed that every guest gets complimentary appetizers." Brock agreed as he bit into a won ton.

"Have you decided on a Contest costume yet?" May asked.

"Oh, you like looking at costumes too?" Dawn smiled. "Which brand do you prefer?"

"I don't have a preferred brand per se, but I've been trying out different looks in hopes of finding a brand I prefer." May explained. "Before I left, I found a good deal on a nice Arabian getup from Sol Dorado, so I'll use that here."

"Well Mom's preferred brand is Notte Royal, and I like a lot of their stuff." Dawn replied. "But lately I've been gravitating towards Prism Stardust too."

"So a Beautiful and Passion coordinator..." May mused. "Drew told me that the lakefront has an outlet mall featuring shops for all twelve major coordinator brands."

"Wait, what's this about brands?" Ash asked.

"Like idol costumes, coordinators have twelve brands of their own to pick costumes from." May explained.

She made a grand gesture to a large building in the distance. "Luckily for us, an outlet mall featuring all twelve brands is nearby."

"If you're going to take part in the Wallace Cup, we need to get you a costume." Dawn reminded Ash as the stir fry the group had ordered arrived at the table. "We'll at least look at each brand before you make your decision."

"Works for me." Ash mused the group dug into their lunch...

To Be Continued...
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The magic of Pokemon
Episode 59b: Our Own Brand of Power! (part 2)

"All right--if you want to go inside any of the shops, let us know." Dawn explained as the group arrived at the outlet mall later that afternoon. "We're not going to drag you into every shop, but we will let you look in the windows."

"Once you've seen all twelve brands, if you saw any coord that you liked, we will go back and get it." May added. "But try to wait until we've seen every brand before you make your decision."

"Got it!" Ash smiled.

Dawn lead the way towards a shop's window. "First up is Rainbow Parade, a brand that focuses on a marching band and music motif." she explained, gesturing to what looked like a frilly pink marching band uniform in the window.

"I don't recall the marching band uniforms I ever wore being that frilly..." Brock smiled as he admired the costume.

"Well, it is a Cute and Dreamy brand." Dawn admitted. "Thankfully, there are boys' versions of every coord."

"Good--I wouldn't wear frills again if my life depended on it." Ash shuddered at the memory of being disguised as a girl to get inside Erika's Gym.

"Although if we have to disguise you as a girl again, I'll tell whoever's making the disguise to make it a bit more elegant." Brock grinned.

"Long story..." Ash told Dawn, who chuckled at the thought of Ash wearing one of the frilly costumes.

"I remember this story!" May smiled before telling Dawn "After seeing a boy kicked out of a Gym just for being a boy, one of Ash's Pokemon--an Abra, was it?--conjured some girl's clothes as a disguise, so Ash could get inside for a match."

"Yes--it was my then Abra Trista that conjured the disguise." Ash admitted as he admired a frilly electric blue dress that evoked a baton twirler's costume in the window. "I will admit I like this one."

Dawn smiled. "Don't worry--there are plenty of boy coordinators too, so you're not going to be thrown out of a Contest Hall just because you're male."

She motioned for the group to follow her. "Let's go on to the next shop."


"Over here is Jeweled Story, which has a lot of jewels and fairy tale motifs." Dawn explained as the group arrived near another shop.

"This one's not so bad..." Ash admitted as he admired a cute red costume with a leaf-like skirt in the window.

"Agreed--this once's nice, as well." Brock agreed as he admired a soft multicolored costume that evoked a rainbow.

"As pretty as some of these costumes are, I'm not sure Dreamy is my style." Ash sighed as the group continued down the walkway.

"There's still ten more brands to see." Brock assured Ash. "Maybe your dream style is in one of the other shops."

"We'll go with that, then." Ash smiled, petting Tintri all the while.


"Next up are the Cool and Hearthhrob brands." Dawn explained as the group approached a shop. "You might like Pixel Beat, which is inspired by classic video games."

"Can we go inside?" Ash asked. "I kinda want to take a look."

"Sure!" May led the way inside the somewhat dark shop.

Ash smiled as he admired the colorful glowing pixels embedded in the wall. "Love the decor in here..." he smiled as he admired a beautiful dull pink, red, and gold dancer's costume."

"That is Powerful Dancer, one of the coords in our Oracle Dreams collection." an employee explained. "It has two counterparts in the Wisdom Minstrel Coord and the Courageous Keeper Coord."

The lightbulb went off in Ash's head. "Oh yeah--'The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages' and 'Oracle of Seasons'!"

"Exactly." the employee smiled when she saw Ash had guessed the games the collection was inspired by. "Of course if you want to channel the Hero of Hyrule himself, we have Forest Hero '87 over here." She made a grand gesture to a costume that looked like an exact replica of Link's iconic costume from "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time."

Ash did a double take when he found a familiar looking leather outfit. "No way! A Nick Dragonswift costume!"

"Adventure's Heart--that one's very popular among male coordinators." the employee smiled.

"Can I buy this?" Ash asked. "If May's being Runim, I've gotta be her Nick!"

"Wait until we've seen all the brands, okay?" Dawn gently reminded him. "If you still want it then, we'll go back and get it."

"Dawn has a point." Brock agreed. "Besides, something better might be coming up."

"Okay..." Ash mused as he wrote a note on his PokeNav. "I'll make a note so I won't forget later."


"Here is Cosmic Storm, which has a space motif." Dawn explained as the group arrived in another shop.

"One of my preferred brands." May added as she hurried over to look at a beautiful futuristic purple blue and silver outfit.

Ash noticed a striking silver and white costume on a display that appeared to evoke the moon. "I like this one..."

"White and silver have always looked good on you." Brock agreed.

"That coord is Lunar Future." an employee explained. "It's quite popular with male coordinators who want a mysterious look. It also has a feminine design, if you have a special lady coordinator in your life."

"Keep in mind the lights in the Contest Hall." Dawn whispered. "You don't want to blind people due to your costume."

Ash nodded. "I'll still keep it in mind."

After updating his 'Favorite Costumes' note, he noticed a sparkling blue and purple costume that evoked the northern lights. "Cool--Misty would likely love this, if she ever wanted to try a contest."

"If you ever want to see the other version of a costume, let us know." an employee told Ash as he updated his note with a picture of the costume and the brand.

"Can I see the male version of this costume?" Ash asked.

"The male version of Aurora Diva is named Aurora Hero." the employee replied as she brought over the male version of the costume for Ash to see.

After updating his note, Ash laid the costume over his normal clothes. "Hm...while I like the colors, it seems a little too showy for me."

"All right--there are some lower key designs over to the left." the employee informed Ash. "Take your time looking around."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 59c: Our Own Brand of Power! (part 3)

"Here is Mom's preferred brand, and one of my favorites--Notte Royal." Dawn smiled as she made a grand gesture to a elegant shop overlooking the water. "It is a Beautiful and Charming brand that focuses on royalty and nobility inspired designs with lots of jewels."

"I can see why!" Ash grinned as he admired a beautiful white gown with rainbow trim in the window. "Can we go inside?"

"Sure!" Dawn replied as the group made their way inside the shop.

Tarina peeked from Brock's bag and gasped at the many beautiful outfits on the racks. [Wow! This place is amazing!]

"You know how idols have several different brands they promote?" May explained. "Coordinators are the same way--we have our own brands of costumes we can wear."

"We're here to help Ash pick a costume for the Contest." Brock explained. "So we are letting him see all the brands before he decides on a costume."

[I didn't know we had to dress up for a contest here...] Tarina mused as she admired a ruffly pale yellow outfit with gold trim on a display. [Remember that contest back home where May narrowly beat you? We wore our normal clothes for that.]

"Houen and Kanto rules are different from Shinou and Kalos rules, sweetie." Brock reminded Tarina. "They probably want everybody to dress up because of a Shinou Contest's grander scale. When Kalos did away with the Pokemon Showcase about a hundred years ago and started doing Contests, they adopted Shinou rules, which includes dressing up."

[That makes sense.] Tarina smiled before spotting a deep blue, cyan and silver costume with a white rose in the lapel. [This is pretty!]

"That is the male version of Midnight Rose." an employee explained. "Are you interested in buying?"

"Not today, thanks." Brock replied.


"Next up is Angelic Crystal, which focuses on a lot of sky and snow motifs, with the odd other elemental motif." Dawn explained as the group approached another shop.

[This one looks like something Misty would wear!] Tarina commented as she admired a beautiful shimmering green and blue costume in the window that evoked a mermaid.

"It does, doesn't it?" Brock smiled. "But she doesn't seem to be the dancing princess type to me..."

"How bout it? Do you want to go inside or not?" Dawn asked.

"Why not? Tarina seems to be enjoying shopping too." Brock smiled as the group made their way inside.

Tarina gasped in awe at the many shimmering gowns and suits on the racks and displays. [Wow...did we just walk into heaven?]

"Not quite--but it is a Coordinator's paradise, at least." Brock smiled as he admired a silvery gown with crystal studs. "I wonder what the male version of this coord looks like..."

"Oh, you'd like to see the male version of Crystal Jubilee?" an employee smiled. "Just a moment..."

Ash gasped in awe as the employee brought out a glittering silver suit. "That is beautiful!"

"If you're looking to buy, this coord can be yours for 7500 credits." the employee grinned.

"We're just looking for now, thanks." Ash admitted before fumbling for his PokeNav. "I'll keep it in mind."


"Moving on to the Exotic and Rugged brands..." Dawn smiled as the group approached another shop. "Spring Clover should be up your alley, Brock."

"I see--I've always loved the mystery and beauty of Celtic design." Brock mused as he admired a green and white outfit with silvery knotwork in the window. "Let's go inside."

After taking a moment to admire the knotwork designs on the walls, Ash noticed a blue plaid outfit on a display. "What's this coord?"

"That is Dancing Water--part of our Galarian Dancer collection." an employee replied. "Are you interested in seeing the other coords?"

"Not at the moment, thanks." Ash replied.

He noticed that Brock was at the counter, paying for a few coords. "Uh, Brock? I thought we were looking for a costume for me..."

"I know, but I found a few designs I liked that were on sale." Brock replied as he received the bag with his purchases inside. "Just in case I want to try my hand at a contest too."


"So, which coords did you get?" Dawn asked as the group made their way towards another shop.

"I got Glas Harp..." Brock explained, showing off a green, white and gold costume with shiny knotwork. "and Winter Moor." He showed the group a green plaid costume with silver trim. "All told, they were 3000 credits--thank you, half-off sale!"

"That's a great deal!" May grinned before pointing out their destination in the distance. "This is where I got my costume, Sol Dorado. They focus on festive Latin American and Arabian designs."

"So I see..." Ash smiled as he admired the decor of the shop, which evoked an exotic marketplace. "Let's go inside."

Tintri gasped in awe at the shop's interior. [Did we just walk into Brock's copy of the Arabian Nights?]

"Nope, but if you want to get the look, this is the place to do it." Ash replied before noticing a collection of Arabian style outfits on a display. "Which one of these did you get, May?"

"I got this gold one over here--Arabian Sun." May explained showing off an ornate gold Arabian costume on the display.

"That looks like Runim, all right." Ash smiled before moving on to another display, where he spotted a sparkling red flamenco inspired outfit. "What's this one?"

"That is Estrella Roja." an employee replied as she arrived to stock a display. "This will help channel your inner dancer in the Contest Hall."

"I do like the red..." Ash mused as he updated his note. "I'll keep this one in mind."

To Be Continued...
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The magic of Pokemon
Episode 59d: Our Own Brand of Power! (part 4)

Ash gasped in amazement when he saw the window of the next shop. "Wow! Love the coords in here!"

"This is my other preferred brand, Prism Stardust." Dawn explained. "As I've told you before, they are famous for their sparkling 80's style."

"Oh yeah, that little outfit you made Lola before..." Ash remembered. "Let's go inside and take a look!"

Dawn led Ash inside the shop, and over to a display showcasing the outfit that inspired her. "This is Passionate Dawn--if I were to give the outfit I gave Lola a name, I would likely call it Passionate Sunset."

"That's a nice name for a design." Brock smiled as he admired a regal green costume with leaf trim on another rack.

Tarina gasped in awe at the various coords for sale. [Did we just walk in a time warp back to the 80's?]

Brock just smiled. "No--we didn't go back in time--it's supposed to look like this."

"The point of these coords is to give a coordinator a powerful, passionate look." May added.

She stifled a giggle at Ash racing around the shop. "Judging from how excited Ash is, he might pick a costume from here!"


"Here is the other Passion and Power brand-- Glittering Magic." May explained as the group approached a shop near the mall's plaza. "They rely on metallic colors and "magical" motifs."

Ash peeked in the window at a striking red, gold, and white costume. "That's neat--the buttons look like the keys of an orchestral flute when it's all buttoned up."

"Considering how much you enjoy playing the flute and flute-like instruments, I wouldn't be surprised if you picked Stardust Flute." May smiled as she pointed out the coord's name.

"It even has a sister coord that evokes a fiddle--Shining Bow." Dawn pointed out a beautiful yellow outfit with a large brown patch that resembled a violin in the window.

Brock looked closer at Shining Bow, where he could see four lines of glitter snaking down the "fiddle". "That's nice--they even thought to put on the strings."

"Anyone want to go in here?" Dawn asked.

When no one said anything, she mused "All right...let's move on. We're almost done."

"Finally, we have the two Angelic and Heroic brands." Dawn began as the group approached a shop near the plaza. "This one is Starlight Harmony."

Ash looked in the window at the many designs inspired by the three birds and Lugia. "These look familiar..."

"That's because this brand draws on the legend of the Chosen of Lugia for inspiration." Dawn explained.

"No wonder they look familiar..." Ash smiled as he admired a striking red and gold dress with a large feather at the shoulder in the window.

Then something occurred to him. "Have either May or Dawn heard your song cycle retelling the tale of the Chosen One?"

"May has heard it, but Dawn hasn't." Brock replied as he allowed Tarina to look at a blue and cyan gown with a matching star circlet and trim. "Guess that's another of my song cycles I'll need to perform this trip..."

"I'm still amazed you manage to come up with the music and the lyrics to that long of a story!" May smiled as she remembered Brock playing her the epic song.

"Maybe that just comes naturally to you when you have a musical gift like what Brock has." Ash mused as the group continued on their way.


"And lastly, but by no means least, this is Blossom Beat, which features flower and Beautifly motifs." Dawn explained as the group reached a shop near another pier.

May smiled as she admired a beautiful sparkling magenta costume with rose trim in the window. "I will admit that I like all the costumes in here; but I already have a costume..."

"Pity you're not using Niji this time, either." Ash agreed. "A lot of these would fit well if you were using her.

"I know..." May replied as she admired a sparkling green costume that evoked an emerald swallowtail butterfly. "But I used Niji in my last Johto contest before coming here."

Tarina gawked at a beautiful green, blue, and purple costume in the window. [Wow! This one's pretty!]

Dawn recognized the costume. "That one's called Obi Emerald--so named because it evokes the obi island birdwing."

"Birdwings are said to have the largest wings in the world." Brock added, trying oh-so-hard not to laugh at the heart-eyed Pichu on his shoulder...


"Okay...now that we have seen all the brands, do you still want the Nick Dragonswift outfit from earlier?" Dawn asked as the group returned to the plaza.

Ash looked over his note. "While I did like both Passion and Power brands, I'll stick with the Nick Dragonswift outfit after all."

"All right--back to Pixel Beat we go." With that, Dawn lead the way down the pathway and into the setting sun...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 60: Staging a Hero's Welcome!

"The day has finally arrived!" Rhonda announced from her post outside the Valor Contest Hall. "We are only hours away from the Wallace Cup, where we will see the talents from coordinators from across the world..."

Inside the Contest Hall, the atmosphere was just as electric as the many coordinators made their entry confirmations and final preparations. But in one corner of the room, Ash emerged from a dressing room to find Brock singing in a language he recognized as Low Galarian to a brown haired girl wearing a green and white outfit with silvery knotwork. Brock...when will you ever learn? he sighed.

[English, please!] he heard Kage scold. The girl's Scorbunny giggled as Kage dragged Brock away, guitar and all.

May giggled as she watched Brock being dragged back to the hall foyer. "I guess Kage has taken over Max's job..."

"You could say that." Dawn replied as she emerged from a dressing room in a beautiful royal blue, white and silver costume. "But for the most part, he has behaved himself."

"How do I look?" Ash asked as he struck a heroic pose in his new coord.

"Like Nick Dragonswift, of course!" a voice replied.

"Zoey, hi!" Dawn smiled as Zoey arrived with Sylvie.

She made a grand gesture to May, who was now in her costume. "May, this is Zoey--one of my friends and friendly rivals on the Contest circuit."

"The famous May Alder has come to Shinou..." Zoey gasped. "They say you've made quite a name for yourself in Houen and Kanto."

May nodded. "I'm looking foward to making a good impression here, as well--I'm actually taking a break from Johto's circuit to come here, so it was good practice for this."

"Wait, Johto follows Shinou and Kalos rules too?" Ash asked, unaware of Mars making her final preparations nearby...


In the Contest Hall, the crowd roared with applause as Wallace appeared with Celeste in a shimmering aurora. "Thank you all!" he smiled. "To those that are gathered here, and those that are watching on TV and online, I offer the most heartiest of welcomes!"

"As host of today's Contest, Wallace will serve as a guest judge alongside our three regulars..." Marian explained to the audience. "Please welcome Jordan..."

The crowd applauded as a woman with wavy blond hair made her way to the judge's table. "Dexter..." A bespectacled young man with dull brown hair arrived. "...and Keira."

More applause filled the air as Wallace respectfully led a red-brown haired woman to the table, before taking the guest judge's seat at the end. "The winning Coordinator will receive the Aqua Ribbon, a special ribbon that is valid to use in any region." Marion explained, showing the crowd an elegant electric blue ribbon.

She smiled. "On that note, let us begin the parade of coordinators!"


A majestic melody filled the hall, signaling the parade of coordinators was underway. The brown haired girl from before had already been announced as Dawn approached the entry tunnel. The tam o'shanter's cute... she thought.

"Entrant W-42007--Dawn Solberg and Kori!" Marian announced as Dawn emerged from the tunnel. "Daughter of the legendary Divine Coordinator Joanna Solberg, Dawn is ready to make her mark as heir to the Solberg dynasty. She is wearing Sapphire Queen, by Notte Royal."

Way to put the pressure on even more... Dawn swallowed hard as the crowd cheered.

"Entrant W-31503--May Alder and Neva!" Marian announced as May emerged from the tunnel with her Glaceon. "All the way from Houen, May channels her inner Runim as she dazzles with an icy mirage! She is wearing Arabian Sun, by Sol Dorado."

One by one, Marian announced each coordinator, their Pokemon, where they were from; if applicable, a little about them, and what coord they wore:

"Entrant W-41815--Shauna Dumont and Reine! All the way from Kalos, Shauna has stormed onto Kalos' Contest scene, and is looking to try her luck in Shinou! She is wearing Blue Shower, by Angelic Crystal."

"Entrant W-98380--Twila Mendoza and Colores! Hailing from Houen, Twila is all ready to show off the power of the rainbow in Shinou! She is wearing Amarilla Sol, by Sol Dorado."

"Entrant W-16313--Bianca Rossi and Epona! Hailing from Kanto, Bianca is ready to unleash the power of the Legendary steed of heroes on Shinou after doing very well on the Kanto circuit! She is wearing Passionate Dawn, by Prism Stardust."


"Ready?" Ash asked Tintri as he approached the entryway of the tunnel leading out into the massive contest hall.

[As I'll ever be...] Tintri replied as the girl in front of them made her way into the hall. [I just hope our appeals are good enough...]

"Me too, bud." Ash agreed as he adjusted the fedora he wore. "Let's do this."

"Entrant W-22796--Ash Ketchum and Tintri!" Marian announced, to cheers as Ash stepped out into the Contest Hall. "Mainly a trainer by day, Ash is all ready for a contest adventure, channeling both his inner Nick Dragonswift and his knowhow as a trainer to reach for the stars! He is wearing Adventure's Heart, by Pixel Beat."

A whistle snapped Ash to attention as he passed the stands. [Ash!] Tarina squeaked as she and Brock waved from the stands. [Good luck!]

Ash gave Tarina a nod as the next coordinator was announced. May had finished her lap around the hall with Neva, and Dawn was a few people ahead of him. I'm gonna do my best for you, Tarina--who knows, I may even get a Ribbon myself!


"The rules of the Visual Competition are simple..." Marian explained to the crowd of coordinators. "In just a few moments, you'll go into the dressing rooms to dress up your Pokemon using a box of random accessories. You'll have sixty seconds to create your designs, and you can use up to five accessories. The order you finish will determine the order of performance in the Dance competition."

She glanced over at a card. "You are aiming for a bright look this time."

"A bright look, huh..." Ash mused as he found the dressing room with his ID number on it backstage. "I hope I've got something sparkly or neon in my box..."

Once all the coordinators were backstage, Wallace cued the clock. "Ready..." Marian called. "Set...GO!"

Ash threw open the shiny pink Fashion Case and rummaged through the hundred accessories inside as the 60 second clock ticked away. "These little spark things..." he mused as he rubbed some of the faux sparks in Tintri's fur. "Ooh, these faux embers look cool!"

[I like it too!] Tintri agreed as Ash attached some of the plastic shimmering flames. [Red thunder.]

"This cool aura for extra pizzazz..." Ash mused as he attached a glowing light that evoked an aura. "...and some Shiny Powder to finish."

After sprinkling a generous amount of the gold powder on Tintri, Ash hit the button to signal he was ready with 14 seconds to spare.

Once time expired, Marian called "Okay! Entrant W-22796, come on out!"

"Wow"s and cheers filled the Contest Hall as Ash and Tintri emerged on the stage. Not bad for an on the fly design... Ash smiled as Tintri struck one heroic pose after another for the crowd...


"Up next is the Dance competition." Marian explained some time later. "Our competitors will come aboard the Bailatron to strut their stuff for the judges! But the Bailatron will remember every stumble, trip, and fall as well as every good step..."

In the backstage area, Ash watched the Bailatron emerge from the stage floor with a whir. "Let's see--we've got a few people ahead of all of us. Not even that shimmery icy look May made won the Visual."

[That's okay--what matters is we did our best.] Tintri smiled. [But you have to admit fourth place isn't too bad...]

"Especially in a field of hundreds, like this." Ash agreed.

He perused the song selector for a moment. "I know just the song for you--okay with putting your own spin on 'Bumble Bee'?"

[Sure!] Tintri smiled. [I still have vivid memories of that dance contest before...]

Up next to dance: Entrant W-22796. an announcer reported. "It's time...go get'em, Tintri." Ash hugged his faithful Pikachu, then watched as Tintri romped onto the huge machine...


Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh... a young female voice sang as Tintri struck a heroic pose. Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh...

Tintri started twirling and spinning across the platform as the music picked up. Sweet little bumble bee, I know what you want from me,
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da
Sweet little bumble bee, more than just a fantasy
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da...

After striking another pose, Tintri starting lightly skipping and jumping across the stage as the singer went on My heart skips a beat
When you walk in the room
I go boom boom boom...
Tintri stomped three times in time to the singer's words, to some giggles.
You go zoom zoom zoom... Tintri timed three steps in time to the singer's words for effect.

You're my playboy, playtoy
Lover, my friend...
the singer went on as Tintri spun across the stage.
I wanna be with you until the end...

I give my heart and my soul to you,
To make you see its true...
I'm so confused, baby, cant you see?
Please come rescue me!

The crowd roared as the machine triggered a disco ball to appear as Tintri continued his performance. Sweet little bumble bee, I know what you want from me,
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da
Sweet little bumble bee, more than just a fantasy,
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da


Dup-i-dup-i-do da da
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da


Dup-i-dup-i-do da da
Dup-i-dup-i-do da da...

Tintri capped his performance by striking a triumphant pose, to cheers and applause. After taking a bow, he hurried off to reunite with Ash.

"Well done, bud." Ash smiled as he watched Tintri's stats and the updated leaderboard, which showed that Tintri had jumped into the top 3. "May's up next...wonder what song she picked?"

Tintri watched Neva strike a reverent pose before a familiar Oriental melody started playing over the speakers. [Did you even need to ask?] he smiled as the familiar pounding beat of "Beautifly" echoed through the hall, Neva weaving and twirling elegantly across the platform all the while:

I've been searching for a man,
All across Japan,
Just to find, to find my samurai...

Someone who is strong,
But still a little shy,
Yes I need, I need my samurai...

Ai-yai-yai, I'm your little Beautifly...
Green, black and blue,
Make the colors in the sky...

Ai-yai-yai, I'm your little Beautifly...
Green, black and blue
Make the colors in the sky...

To Be Continued...
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The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: A Song of Valor

"...Supposedly, they can tap into these amazing moves no one on the mainland has ever seen before." Zoey continued as May, Dawn, Kori and Lola listened.

The munching of Neva and Sylvie eating was the only sound in the room. "What were these powerful moves called?" May broke the awed silence some moments later.

"I think they were called Z-Moves?" Zoey remembered. "Either way, I can only imagine how appealing they would be on the Contest scene."

"Maybe it works the same way as Mega Evolution and Spectacular Talents..." May suggested. "A really powerful appeal most coordinators save for a big finish."

"Makes sense." Dawn agreed.

She noticed the Mega Ring on May's left hand. "What happens if you sing your Heart Song to a Pokemon that can't Mega Evolve in a Contest scenario? I know that in battle, it will power up one move the Pokemon knows..."

"They obviously won't Mega Evolve, but they can still use an appropriate Spectacular Talent." Zoey explained. "Not that I've awakened my Heart Song, but I've seen many Spectacular Talents."

"What is the Water Spectacular Talent?" Dawn asked.

"The base Spectacular Talent is named Blessed Rain." Zoey explained. "It will be slightly different depending on the type of move you used when you triggered it--if Kori used a Beautiful move as you sang, it would be called Serene Blessed Rain."

"I see..." Dawn smiled.

Ash peeked in the room a few moments later. "Everything okay in here?"

"Yeah!" the girls replied.

"Can I get you guys some food, or treats?" Ash asked.

"Sure..." The girls eagerly pooled their money together to find they had enough for a fairly lavish meal. "Let's get something besides pizza..." May suggested.

"Well, I have a guide to all the restaurants that deliver out here..." Zoey mused as she found the restaurant delivery guide on a bedside table. "I'll buy dinner."

"Since you kindly offered so bring us treats, can you bring us some ice cream from the Aurora Creamery?" Dawn pointed out an ice cream shop nearby the hotel. "The way there goes right by the lake."

"Okay--what flavors does everyone want?" Ash asked as he brought of the notepad app on his PokeNav.

The girls looked over the flavor list in the restaurant guide. "Buneary Tracks." Dawn requested.

"Mint Reverie for me." May requested.

"Grandma's Oatmeal Lace sounds good..." Zoey smiled.

Brock peeked in the room. "Discussing dinner options?"

"Zoey's buying dinner, but Ash offered to bring dessert." Dawn explained.

"You won't object to getting a mini cone for Tarina too?" Brock asked. "Cookie dough's one of her favorites."

"Ooh, Tarina should love Cookie Dough Bliss." Dawn smiled when she saw the flavor name on the list.

"Okay, so May wants Mint Reverie, Dawn wants Buneary Tracks, Zoey wants Grandma's Oatmeal Lace, a mini Cookie Dough Bliss cone for Tarina , and maybe a little something for Tintri and me." Ash read back the order he had written on his PokeNav. "Did I get everyone?"

"That's everything." May smiled.

"All right, I'll be back momentarily." With that, Ash and Tintri departed.


Ash smiled as he admired the neon lights of the city glittering with the starlight on the lake. "This place is so beautiful...I almost never want the Wallace Cup to end."

[Yeah, then we could really explore this place and all it has to offer.] Tintri agreed.

Ash was about to answer his companion when he spotted a small whirlpool-like movement in the water. Huh?

He watched as a small misty blue light appeared in the center of the small whirlpool. Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... came an ethereal male voice that almost sounded female.

Emusto rozen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
At this line, Ash noticed a sparkling blue aura around him and Tintri.
Emusto koron zen fine, si...

[What was that?] Tintri asked as the song and the aura faded away.

"Maybe it was another one of the lake guardians--or something divine in nature--blessing me for the Appeal competition tomorrow." Ash mused. "We still have to tell the girls and Brock about it when we get back."

[Yes--the girls and Tarina would not be happy if we came back empty handed.] Tintri agreed. [Let's go.]


"...it sang the Swanna Song to me, and I felt this holy aura around me and Tintri." Ash finished telling the others about his encounter some time later. "I wanted to get a look at it, but when it finished the song, it was gone."

"It's almost like when I encountered a pink light at Lake Verity, and it sang the Swanna Song to heal Kori." Dawn remembered in between bites of her ice cream. "Do you remember what the voice that sang to you sounded like? The voice I heard was a strong and powerful female voice."

"The voice I heard was a young male voice...that sounded almost like a girl." Ash replied. "Very heroic and powerful."

May thought for a moment as she savored another bite of her ice cream. "While I was in Snowpoint City, I heard many a tale about the Legendary Pokémon that lives in Lake Acuity, which is near Snowpoint City--I think its name was Uxie."

"You'd be correct--Uxie is the Guardian of Wisdom." Zoey smiled. "I can't even begin to count how many stories of his adventures alongside Mesprit and Azelf I heard growing up. Mesprit is the Guardian of Emotion, that lives in Lake Verity, and Azelf is the Guardian of Valor, who lives here in Lake Valor." She let that hang as she took another bite of her ice cream.

"Does that mean Mesprit healed Kori that fateful day?" Dawn asked.

"And Azelf blessed me and Tintri for tomorrow? Ash agreed.

"It's possible--the lake guardians have been known to bless those they favor." Zoey smiled.

Ash looked at the clock on the wall in the room. "it's not too late for you to get the guitar out, is it?"

"Nope--it's only 7 PM." Brock replied as he started towards the boys' room. "Quiet hours don't start until 10 PM."

"I've heard your music and tales are legendary!" Zoey smiled as Brock returned a few moments later, tuning a familiar yellow-brown acoustic guitar.

"I take requests as well, so if there's a special song or tale you want to hear; let me know." Brock replied as he fine tuned his instrument.

Dawn smiled at Zoey. "You're in for a treat!"

Once in tune, Brock started the first tale to come to mind. "The king of a certain land had a beautiful garden which contained a number of very rare trees, but the rarest one of all was a Leppa tree. It stood in the middle of the garden, and produced shining crystal Leppa Berries every day. In the morning the flowers bloomed, during the day the fruit grew and ripened, and before nightfall, the berries were fully ripe. The next day the same thing happened, and this cycle would occur like clockwork every day..."


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 61: Strategy with a Smile!

The mood in the Contest Hall was electric as a huge crowd gathered to watch the Appeal competition the next day. "Good morning, all!" Wallace smiled to the crowd of coordinators and the audience. "The rules of the Appeal Competition are simple..." he began as Celeste brought him an elegant envelope. "Each of you will each receive five turns to show off your Pokemon's moves for Keira, Dexter, Jordan, and me. The coordinator that scores the highest and excites the audience the best, wins the Aqua Ribbon."

He looked out at the excited coordinators and their Pokemon. "Are there any questions before we begin?"

Cheers came back in reply as Walace opened the envelope. "Very well...Miss Dawn Solberg will lead off the competition with our first appeal of the day!"

More cheers filled the air as Dawn and Kori made their way onto the stage. "Okay, Kori, start with Bubblebeam!" Dawn commanded.

Oohs and ahs filled the air as Kori rained sparkling rainbow bubbles on the crowd, making two hearts appear under Dawn's picture on the leaderboard. "All right, Omura, use Brine!" a boy called.

Dawn watched as the boy's Wailmer fired a stream of water into the air, to the awe of the crowd. It's only the first turn--I'm not worried yet. she told herself as three hearts appeared under the boy's picture.

"Pelly, use Water Pulse!" a girl called to her Pellipper. As the watery shockwave shimmered in the room, the lineup of coordinators were replaced by question marks as the girl received three hearts...


Ash glanced at the leaderboard as he led Tintri to the stage. Okay...the boy before me had his Lanturn use Charge... he thought as he saw a single heart under the boy's picture. And Charge paired with any Electric move is a nice combo...

He smiled as he saw his picture in the NEXT corner of the screen, and the excitement meter about to max out. Uh huh...

Once he stepped on the stage, he called "Tintri, use Thunderbolt!"

The crowd exploded in cheers as Tintri unleashed a wave of sparkling Thunderbolts, maxing out the excitement meter and showering Ash in hearts. Wow--I may have more talent for this than I thought! he smiled as he saw the two rows of rainbow shining hearts under his picture.

May was next to come onto the stage. "Neva, use Icy Wind!"

More cheers rang through the hall as Neva heaved a blast of cold air and diamond sparkles into the air, making them applaud through their shivers as four hearts appeared under May's picture.

In the stands, Brock and Tarina watched as Zoey commanded Sylvie to use Shadow Claw a few competitors later. [Wow! I didn't know Ash was a coordinator too!] she raved as the crowd roared in excitement for the shining dark claws Sylvie fired in the air.

"Well, it's true Ash may have some talent for this, but this is just the first turn." Brock reminded Tarina as he watched ten rainbow hearts appear under Zoey's picture. "A lot can happen in four more turns."


Some time later, Ash returned to the stage to lead off the fourth round of appeals. Let's surprise everyone with a move not everyone expects a Pikachu to have...

He called to Tintri "Use Disarming Voice!"

Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... Tintri's tiny voice rang through the Contest Hall, to cheers from the crowd as the red Thunderbolts and soundwaves arced through the room.

May was next. "Neva, use Ice Shard!"

The crowd applauded as Neva fired a single ice ball skyward, causing hundreds of sparkling shards to rain into the room. A 1 appeared under May's picture as Dawn made her way to the stage, followed by three hearts.

Say... Dawn thought as she stepped onstage with Kori.

She called "Kori, use Ice Beam!"

Cheers filled the air as Kori fired the familiar blue white beam. The stage lights transformed it into an aurora, giving Dawn four hearts and a narrow lead going into the final round of appeals.


Karuto, iichiida shou... May sang, making the sapphire in her Mega Ring give the Contest Hall a blue sheen as Neva fired an ice blast into the light, creating millions of sparkling diamonds of light. "What a Spectacular Talent!" Marian commented. "That display of Twinkling Diamonds vaults May into the lead!"

After a few more coordinators took their final turns, Ash made his way to the stage. The excitement meter's still at stage 3... he mused to himself. It's my turn to show off a Spectacular Talent for my final appeal!

With that, he held his own Mega Ring skyward. Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...

Tintri's Thunderbolts melded with the red light and his master's voice, wowing the crowd as he surfed to the ground on a wave of lightning piano keys, creating a glissando of notes down the C major scale on the way down.

Even Dawn couldn't help but smile at the favorable setup Ash had left her. The excitement meter is at stage 4! Maybe I could unleash a Spectacular Talent to put myself over the top!

She held her own Mega Ring skyward. Leishu shun ji, lei si...

The crowd roared as a gentle stream of rainbow raindrops came down into the hall, maxing out the excitement meter and creating three rows of shining rainbow hearts under Dawn's picture. "Okay!" Wallace announced. "And with that beautiful display, it is time to declare the winner!"

Ash, May and Dawn watched as hundreds of score bars started inching across the screen. While many of the bars dropped off the screen after a few moments, their bars kept going!

After a few tense seconds, the three bars came to a stop... with Dawn's bar barely edging May's!

"By a mere two points, the winner of this year's Wallace Cup is Entrant W-42007--Dawn Solberg and Kori!" Wallace announced.

"I won?" Dawn gasped as the crowd roared. "Someone pinch me..."

Tarina happily obliged, making Dawn rear back from the pain. "I WON!!!" Dawn cried once it registered what she had just done.

Neva sighed as Ash hurried to hug Dawn. "You did it, Dawn! I always knew you could win another Contest."

He looked up at the final leaderboard, where Dawn's picture frame shone with a rainbow sheen and fireworks burst around it. "Even if you and May both did edge me by a combined 10 points. I have no qualms taking third."

May noticed Neva's glum look. "It's okay, Neva--we did our best, and that's the best we can do. Still, second place is very good!"

[Thanks.] Neva smiled, now in a better mood.

May next addressed Dawn. "Congratulations, my fellow coordinator--I believe you have a bright future ahead."

"Thanks." Dawn replied as she wiped away tears of joy. "I couldn't have done it without Kori."

"Dawn Solberg....daughter of the legendary Joanna Solberg." Wallace began as he arrived with the ribbon for Dawn and two medallions for May and Ash. "You've proven yourself as a worthy heir to your mother's legacy, and so much more. No matter how many struggles it took to get this far, you persevered, and it paid off here, on this stage. I extend my heartiest congratulations to you, and bestow you the Aqua Ribbon. You have truly earned it."

"Thank you." Dawn whispered as she accepted the Ribbon to thunderous cheers.

After May had received a silver medallion and Ash a bronze medallion, Dawn couldn't help but unleash her joy. "I did it! After so much pain..." she began, high fiving Lola. "Struggle..." Satomi hovered by her. "...and determination..."

Stormy leaped by Dawn as she held the Aqua Ribbon high. "I FINALLY GOT A RIBBON!"

Wallace smiled at Dawn's triumphant pose with her team. "And on that celebratory note, this concludes this year's Wallace Cup! Thank you all for coming, and we'll see you again next year!" The crowd roared as Celeste created a glittering misty geyser, bringing the Wallace Cup to a close.


"Bye, May..." Ash smiled as the group arrived at the dock. "Good luck on the rest of your Johto adventure."

"Tell Starshine, Zelda, and Mizu we all said hello." Brock added as he hugged May.

"Has it hit you that you just won on one of coordinating's biggest stages yet?" May asked Dawn.

"Well, it's still sinking in..." Dawn explained. "With all the struggles I've had, I'd forgotten what it felt like to do well in the Appeal round; and what it felt like to feel at one with my Pokémon. Now I understand what Mom meant when she said that when you are one with your team, amazing things can happen."

May smiled. "If we ever compete again, I'm gonna win next time!"

"Bring it!" Dawn replied before embracing May one last time. "I feel like I can take on the world now!"

To Be Continued...
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The magic of Pokemon
Episode 62: Chim-Charred

Ash smiled as Tintri fired a Thunderbolt at a target. "I have to congratulate you on winning again." he told Dawn. "The fact that you did it on a major stage, just makes it all the more sweeter--not just for you, but me, as well." He let that hang as Tails fired a Water Gun at a higher up target.

"I'm amazed that you finished as strong as you did." Dawn agreed. "Have you coordinated before?"

"Yeah--once back home." Ash replied. "But it was an unofficial partner contest with May, so it didn't really count for anything."

"I see..." Dawn mused as she watched Lola rain sparkling ice crystals onto the grass. "Maybe if being a trainer doesn't work out, you can always be a coordinator."

"Maybe." Ash smiled as he watched Diddy fire an Ember into the sky.

"How's everyone doing?" Brock asked from his vantage point on a stump.

"I've been working with my team, and Dawn's been honing appeals." Ash explained as Stormy showed Brock a ring of Sparks as an appeal.

"If you guys need a break, I could use a test audience for a tale I've been working on for the Fantasy Stage." Brock offered.

"Sure!" Ash smiled.

"Go on and get tuned--we'll be happy to give you feedback." Dawn agreed as she motioned for Kori, Lola, and Stormy to join her.


The twangs of a guitar tuning up echoed through the forest as Ash and Dawn led their Pokemon to gather around the stump. "Okay...Brock mused as he fine tuned a little. "This is called 'The Faithful Fair One'. It's an adventurous tale told around the world, but I'm going to tell the Kanto version."

With that, he began. "There was once a king’s daughter so beautiful that they named her Aurelia, meaning "the golden one" Her hair was unlike any in the world, soft and fine, and falling in waves down to her feet. She always wore it like this, loose and flowing, crowned with a crown of laurels. Even though such long hair was sometimes inconvenient, it was so beautiful, shining in the sun like waves of gold, that everybody agreed she fully deserved her name."

He started a soft interlude as he continued "Now, there was a young king of a neighboring country who was very handsome, very rich, and wanted nothing more than a bride to make him happy. He had heard much about Princess Aurelia--who was often called 'The Faithful Fair One' in the rumors--that eventually, without even seeing her, he fell in love with her to the point that he could neither eat nor drink, and resolved to send an ambassador immediately to demand her in marriage."

Just then, the crash of a thunderbolt in the distance make Brock stumble over a wrong note. "What was that?" Dawn asked.

Ash winced when he saw Paul approaching the clearing with Surge. "Paul...what are you doing here?"

"I should ask the same of you, Wonder Boy." Paul shot back. "Have you failed so hard at training that you had to resort to dressing up in a silly costume and dancing around with your Pokemon like a moron?"

"Coordinating is not dancing around in a costume!" Ash retorted.

"Coordinators are not moronic, either!" Dawn agreed.

"But you call third place a strong showing?" Paul went on. "I wouldn't settle for anything less than a win, no matter what kind of competition I was in!"

"Really?" Ash shot back. "I entered under Wallace's recommendation, so I saw it as a chance to learn to be creative with my team's moves."

"So? Being creative doesn't have to involve frilly costumes and showy moves." Paul smirked.

"Oh yeah? You only tried out for the play so that you could strong arm your way to the lead role!" Ash snapped. "I entered for the sake of the experience."

He went on "Look, while we both share the dream of winning the Shinou League and challenging Cynthia, our training methods couldn't be more different. I raise my team the way I do because I love each and every one of them, and want to see them all succeed."

"Ash has a point, you know." Brock interjected. "Remember what Cynthia said back at Amity Square?"

"What do you know about Pokemon training, minstrel?" Paul growled. "Ash has his method, I have mine."

"But the way to true power is by loving and trusting your team!" Ash pleaded. "Let's duel to prove it!"

Diddy spotted Paul walking away. [Hey! Ash isn't done talking! If you don't wanna duel, just say so!]

Paul smirked at Diddy. "Okay then, Wonder Boy--we'll see whose training is better. Let's duel."


"This will be a three on three singles match." Brock explained as he drew a Poke Ball outline in the grass.

"Whoever wins the coin toss will take the Diamond side." Dawn explained as she showed Ash and Paul her Poketch's coin flipper. "Arceus head is heads...Shinou League crest is tails."

"Heads." Ash called as Dawn hit the button.

"Tails." Paul called.

Dawn checked the results. "It's heads, although Ash has the option to defer."

"That's fine." Ash replied before addressing his team. "Which of you wants to fight?"

[Me!] Diddy volunteered. [I've got a bone to pick with Mr. Cocky.]


A referee's whistle echoed through the clearing, signalling the battle between Ash and Paul was underway. "Diddy, use Heat Wave!" Ash called.

"Goku, use Flamethrower!" Paul commanded.

Ash braced himself as the two whorls of fire impacted in a massive explosion. "Try Sand Attack!"

Paul was unfazed by the sand flying into Goku's face. "Now would be a good time for Diddy to learn that being defeated in battle is all the trainer's fault."

[NO, IT'S NOT!!!] Ash's team shot back.

[Take that back, you jerk!] Tails barked. [If we were defeated in battle, maybe we were overmatched!]

[Or Ash went in unprepared.] Gaia suggested.

[Or the opponent had a better strategy.] Tintri added.

[But it is NOT Ash's fault!] Diddy screeched. [If Ash gets beat, the onnus is on us to get stronger and better!]

Paul just recalled Goku and heaved another Poke Ball. "Bruno, let's go!"

Tintri looked up at the massive bear Pokemon before Diddy. [Uh, are you sure you can fight something that big?]

[Relax, leader-chu--I've got this.] Diddy smiled back.

[Okay...good luck!] Tintri called as Diddy heaved a Flamethrower at the Ursaring.

"Bruno, use Focus Blast!" Paul commanded.

Ash gasped as he saw a massive yellow-orange blast of energy headed for Diddy. "Diddy, burrow underground if you can!"

"Bruno, use Hammer Arm on the ground!" Paul commanded.

Ash watched in horror as Diddy went flying into the air. But his panic initially turned to joy when he saw Diddy emerge in a flaming fury! "Wow...Diddy activated Blaze!"

Paul balked at the red aura around Diddy. This is it...this is the power I was trying to unlock all along.

"Blaze triggered because Diddy is trying his best to defeat you." Brock explained. "The cheering from Ash and his teammates allowed him to tap into that inner power."

Paul just grimaced. "Bruno, try Focus Blast again!"

He did not expect Diddy's next Flame Wheel to smash into his Ursaring, knocking him out. "NO!!!"


Tintri noticed that Diddy's eyes still were an angry orange color, never mind that the battle was over. [I don't like the looks of Diddy...]

"Diddy, please stop!" Ash pleaded before rolling to avoid another Flame Wheel.

"Whoa!" Even Paul jumped away from an errant Flame Wheel.

Dawn watched in horror as Diddy's berserk fury ignited tree after tree. "This is bad...Kori, use a Whirlpool to put out the fire before it burns this forest down!"

[I'll help, too!] Tails offered as he heaved a Water Gun at a burning tree.

Ash's heart pounded as he watched Diddy set more fires faster than Kori and Tails could put them out. I've got to corral Diddy before this forest is burnt to a crisp!

He leaped onto the running Chimchar and Ursaring hugged him close to his chest. Gatrandis favel, secret, edena...
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
At this line, the damage from Diddy's fury healed in a holy light.
Emusto koron zen fine, si...

He heaved a relieved sigh of exhaustion and relief as the red aura faded and Diddy's eyes returned to normal. [What happened?] Diddy asked. [I...don't know what came over me! Forgive me for trying to burn this place down!]

"I used...my Swanna Song out of desperation." Ash explained, breathing hard all the while. "But I believe...you can control Blaze...No matter what happens...I will always believe in you..."

"But what are you going to do the next time Diddy ends up accessing Blaze?" Paul asked as Ash set Diddy down. "A superpower song can't save you every time."

"I believe Diddy has the ability to handle the power inside him." Ash explained. "He's just not at a high enough power level to control it yet."

"You're a fool to believe that Diddy can handle Blaze." Paul muttered. "If and when Diddy learns how to control Blaze, we will battle again."

Brock watched Paul storm off. "I trust your abilities and tactics wholeheartedly, Ash. I truly believe Diddy can master Blaze without side effects. But we need to get started on that training as soon as we can--your run at the Shinou League might depend on it."

Ash hugged Diddy. "I know, Brock. We'll face Paul again soon enough."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 63: Cream of the Croagunk Crop!

"Pastoria City...the town that lives with the Great Marsh--five miles." Brock reported as the group made their way down the road.

He showed the group a picture of a large muscular man wearing wrestling garb, including a feathery blue mask. "In addition to being the city's Gym Leader, many more know Wake from the wrestling scene, where his iconic blue feathered mask and theme song have become legendary. It is also not unheard of for him to also answer to his ring name, Crasher Wake."

Dawn balked as she heard a powerful voice singing The ring is my roiling sea! The towering waves shaped me... "Speak of Darkrai..."

Ash motioned for the group to follow him down another pathway, where they found a familiar man in wrestling garb singing as he cleared away some trees and brush. Crash! Crash! Crasher Wake!
Crash! Crash! Crasher Wake!
I'm the tidal wave of power to wash you away!
Put out the fire, Crasher Wake!
Run from electricity, Crasher Wake!
Ah, ah, aaaah!
The ring is my sea.

He noticed the group watching him. "Oh, hello! Were you maybe coming to town to visit?"

"We were." Dawn replied.

"I've heard a lot about your exploits in the ring and in the Gym, Wake..." Ash began as he stepped out of the brush. "I'm Ash, and I've journeyed from afar to see if your power in the Gym is as great as people say."

Wake thought for a moment. "I would be happy to battle you, Ash, but at the moment I have some business to attend to. Would you three like to come with me?"

"Yeah!" the group chorused at almost the same time.

"Come on--we can take a shortcut through the Great Marsh." Wake motioned for the group to follow him.


"The Great Marsh is similar to the Safari Zones across the world." Wake explained as the tram whirred past the various forests and marshes. "But what Pokemon you'll see on any given day is a surprise. If you want to make a run through the Marsh, it's 500 credits a pop."

He smiled as the tram stopped. "But that's not where we're going. Our destination is deep within the marsh, in an out of the way spot most trainers on a run don't get to see.

Dawn noticed the sun was setting. "Wow...it took us all day to get here?"

"The marsh is a big place, lass." Wave smiled as he cleared the brush. "So if you plan on running through it, plan the day accordingly."

The group arrived in an open field some time later. "And here we are!" Wake smiled.

"But, we're in the middle of nowhere..." Ash began.

He gasped when he saw what seemed like hundreds of yellow eyes surrounding him! "D-did we just walk into a monster den?"

"Not at all--you're seeing the marsh's many resident Croagunks." Wake assured Ash. Sure enough, millions of Croagunks hopped out from the wetlands and grasslands towards a large hollow log."

"Let's follow them!" Dawn suggested, following Wake and the Croagunks into the log.


"Wow..." Ash gasped as the group emerged from the log to find all the Croagunks and thousands of people all gathered around a huge temple.

"Welcome to the Pastoria Croagunk Festival, everyone." Wake smiled. "Since ancient times, Croagunk has been seen as a symbol of wisdom and cleverness. One of the festival's ancient traditions is the Fantasy Stage, with the winner becoming Lorekeeper of the Great Marsh."

"Sounds fun!" Brock smiled as he showed Wake his one Miracle Jewel. "Where do I sign up?"

"Signups are over there." Wake pointed out a table near the gaming alley. "You still have time if you want to try and impress the Croagunks with your tales!"


"These aren't half bad!" Dawn raved as she bit into an iced Croagunk shaped cookie.

"Neither are some of these tellers." Ash smiled as he watched the red and gold clad girl currently on the stage. "Brock has some competition!"

The Croaguaks croaking in approval of the girl's story snapped both Ash and Dawn to attention. "The Croagunks seemed to like that tale..." Wake smiled as he looked at a meter that measured how well a story did based on the Croagunk's reactions.

He checked the list of competitors. "Up next is competitor number K-42207, performing the tale 'The King of the Waterfall'."

[You can do it, Coach!] Kage croaked as Brock made his way onstage, to 'oohs' and 'ah's from the crowd at his beautiful costume.

"I wouldn't miss Brock telling for the world!" Dawn agreed.

On the stage, Brock took a deep breath and let it go before telling the crowd "Once upon a time something happened. If it hadn't happened, it wouldn't be told."

With that, he began "There was once a young king of a far away land--we'll call him Dolan--who had tired of the hobbies he had enjoyed, and wanted to do something he had never done before. As he pondered this, he got the idea to play chess with the goblin that lived near his castle."

Intrigued murmurs filled the air. "But though King Dolan was young and eager, he was also prudent, and his father had always told him to be very careful in dealing with fey and spirits, both good and bad." Brock explained. "So before going to the goblin's cave, King Dolan sought out an old wizard that lived in the country."

"I want to play a game of chess with the goblin near my castle." he explained in a higher pitched version of himself for Dolan.

"Do you, now? If you value your life, you will play with someone else." he cautioned in character as an older man, to some bemused giggles.

"No; I will play with the goblin." he vowed as King Dolan.

"Well, if you must, I won't try to stop you. But if you do win a game, ask as a prize the girl that stands behind the door." he instructed as the wizard.

As himself, he went on "So before the sun rose, King Dolan got up and went to the goblin's cave."

"What has brought you here today, milord? But I welcome you all the same, and more welcome will you be if you will play chess with me." he grins in a nasaly voice for the goblin, to the crowd's bemusement.

As himself, he continued "King Dolan agreed, and the game began."

He explained to the crowd "Now, chess in this land was not like chess as we know it in our world, but closer to games like Othello or Spot."

"Oh"s went up at this. "King Dolan took the red pieces, and the goblin took the blue ones." Brock went on. "Sometimes it seemed as if one would win, and sometimes the other, but in the end King Dolan won by capturing all the goblin's pieces. When the goblin asked what he wanted as a prize, King Dolan insisted on the girl that stood behind the door--we'll call her Anya. He took her home, cleaned all the dust, ash, and sweat from her, and gave her clothes fit for a queen. When she emerged, she was one of the most beautiful women in the world."

He smiled. "It goes without saying they were soon married."

"Aw"s and happy sighs from the Croagunks filled the air, but the smile on Brock's face was a signal he had more to tell. "The next day, before the sun rose, King Dolan sprang from his bed, and told his wife he wanted to play another game of chess with the goblin."

"If you win that game, accept nothing for your prize but the shining Ponyta in the wooden shed." he instructed in a mimic of Dawn for Queen Anya.

He continued as himself "So King Dolan and the goblin played another game of chess, and King Dolan won the Ponyta handily."

More intrigued murmurs went up as Brock went on "On the third day King Dolan got up before dawn, and as soon as he had eaten breakfast he prepared to go out, when his wife stopped him."

"I would rather that you did not play with the goblin, for even though you have won twice, one day he will win, and then he will put some kind of curse upon you." he warned as Queen Anya.

"I'm impressed Brock's learned how to mimic my voice..." Dawn admitted over the fearful murmurs.

"He just has a knack for mimicry--he learned to do me after only hearing me once, he's that good." Ash smiled.

[Pipe down, you two! Coach is performing!] Kage hissed.

"King Dolan requested one last game, and departed for the goblin's cave." Brock intoned from the stage. "But whether it was nerves or overconfidence, I'm not sure, but the goblin won the third game."

Even the Croagunks gasped at this. "I'll be willing to spare your life if you do not get for me the Sword of Light that hangs in the house of the king of the giants." he explains as the goblin.

As himself, Brock went on "King Dolan agreed, but as he trudged home, he wondered how in the world he would accomplish such a task. Queen Anya seemed to know what had happened long before her beloved arrived, and when she had heard the whole story, she said..."

"That is nothing to grieve about. You have the best wife anyone could ask for, and the best Ponyta in the world. Only do as I tell you, and all will be well." he assures the jittery crowd as Queen Anya.

As himself, Brock went on "King Dolan was still sleeping when Queen Anya got up to get everything ready for her husband’s journey. The first place she went to was the stable, where she fed and watered the shining Ponyta--who was none other than the Legendary shining Ponyta Epona--and put the saddle on. Most people thought this saddle was made of wood, and did not see the little sparkles of gold and silver hidden in it. She then led Epona down before the castle gate, where King Dolan waited.

"Good luck to you, and may you be victorious in all your battles." he smiles as Queen Anya. "Take Epona's advice, and heed it well."

The crowd buzzed with excitement as Brock continued "And so, King Dolan set out on his journey, and the wind went on before Epona. But Epona never stopped nor looked behind, until in the dark of the night she reached the castle of the king of the giants."

"Here we are." he smiled in a mimic of Misty for Epona. "You will find the Sword of Light in the king’s chamber. If it comes to you without scrape or sound, it accepts you as its master. At this hour the king is eating dinner, and the room is empty, so no one will see you. The sword has a knob at the pommel--when you grasp it, draw it softly out of its sheath. I will be under the window."

He went on as himself "King Dolan crept along the passage, pausing every now and then to make sure that no one was following him, and entered the king’s chamber. A strange line of light told him where the sword was, and tiptoeing across the room, he grabbed the knob, and drew it slowly out of the sheath. King Dolan's heart was pounding all the while--what if the sword made some noise, and brought all the people in the castle running to see what was the matter. But the sword slid swiftly and silently along the scabbard until only the tip was left touching it. Then a low sound was heard, that sounded like the edge of a knife touching a silver plate, and King Dolan was so startled that he very nearly dropped the knob. He scrambled through the small window, and leaped into the saddle."

"He has heard and he will follow, but we have a good start." he breathlessly tells an imagined person as Epona.

He narrates as he runs across the stage "On they sped, on and on, leaving the wind behind them. But Epona recognized the shining Ponyta, this one male, that the king of the giants rode."

"That shining Ponyta is my brother Lightfoot, and swifter still than I." he explains as Epona. "He will fly past me with a rush. Then you must have your sword ready, and cut off the head of the one who sits on him, as he turns and looks at you. There is no sword in the world that will cut off his head, save for that one."

Brock stopped to retrieve his harp as he continued "All happened as Epona had said, and before the sky was streaked with red he was home again, and Queen Anya was waiting until he arrived. She was happy to see him home, but she only took her harp and sang softly the songs he loved, until he was asleep, soothed and happy."

Even the Croagunks swayed along with the crowd as Brock played "The Fairy's Waltz" on his own harp for effect. "Pretty!" Dawn smiled.

"He must've been practicing hard." Ash agreed.

When the last note died, Brock continued "King Dolan woke up the next day in high spirits, and wanted to travel to the goblin's cave to find out if the spells he had casted on him were broken."

"Be careful, for it is not with a smile as on the other days that he will greet you." he warned as Queen Anya, setting the harp aside as he spoke. "He will meet you with fury, and ask you if you have the sword, and you will reply that you have it. Next he will want to know how you got it, and you must tell him that if it weren't for the knob you wouldn't have gotten it at all. Then he will raise his head to look at the knob, and you must stab him in the chest; but take heed, for if you miss his heart by even a little, then we are both doomed."

He went on "With that, Queen Anya kissed him, and bade him Arceus-speed..."


"...King Dolan and Queen Anya returned home to a hero's welcome the next day, but they kept the magic jewels with them, in case they ever needed their friends' aid again." Brock finally concluded his tale some time later.

The marsh exploded with cheers, applause, and croaks as Brock took a bow. "Wow! That was amazing!" Dawn raved as the reaction meter zoomed all the way to the top as the Croagunks enthusiastically croaked.

Wake noticed the shining rainbow light at the top of the reaction meter. "Is it fair that number K-42207 is the winner of this years competition?" he asked the crowd as two Croagunks brought him a pillow with an orange plastic jewel on it.

The audience roared in reply. "Very well...the winner of this year's Fantasy Stage is number K-43307--Brock Harrison of Kanto!" The crowd roared as Brock met Wake on the stage to accept the orange jewel.

Wake located Ash and Dawn in the crowd as many in the crowd ran to get food or play more games. "I must say, your friend has real talent!" he smiled. "He should take his tales on the road one day!"

He then noticed Tintri. "Ash...I hereby accept your challenge for a Gym match. But we will battle tomorrow at the earliest--there's still plenty of partying to do tonight."

"Okay!" Ash smiled. "I'm bringing my S game!"

Brock rejoined Ash and Dawn some moments later. [Nicely done, Coach--you've finally got a win yourself!] Kage raved.

"Thanks...now I know how Dawn feels right now." Brock smiled as he put his costume away and dropped the orange jewel into his Miracle Jewel bag. "If Ash wins against Wake tomorrow, he'll be halfway there on the road to the League."

Dawn noticed groups of people playing music around the temple area. "Up for a jam to celebrate your win?" she asked Brock.

"Sure!" Brock smiled. "What tunes do you know?"

"May taught me how to play 'The Swellow's Tail' back at Lake Valor..." Dawn explained as she found her fiddle case and started tuning up.

Once Dawn and Brock were ready, Ash snapped to count off his companions into the timeless tune, Kage drumming on some rocks for percussion all the while...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 64: A Crasher Course in Power!

[I'm not accepting any ties today!] Tails vowed as he streaked towards a floating target in a pool. [This match, I'm gonna win!]

Ash applauded as the target shattered from the force of Aqua Jet. "Nicely done! Remember, Wake's not gonna hold anything back, so you guys need to bring your S-game too!"

"It may also be a good idea to brush up on the creative side of battling too." Dawn agreed as she joined Ash in the yard. "So is it okay if you show me some appeals with Tails, just like a real Contest?"

"Sure." Ash replied as he approached the pool where Tails was training. "Okay, Tails--pretend I'm using you in a Contest for a second. What moves would you use to best impress the judges in the Appeal competition?"

[That's easy!] Tails smiled. [I assume we were going first in this hypothetical Contest?]

"Yeah, just assume we were picked from the hat to go first in the first turn." Ash replied.

[Okay...I would start with a rain of Swift!] Tails cried, firing a Swift attack through the water to create some sparkling stars. [Then, I would use Hail...]

He conjured some small ice chunks, which rained into the pool. [...to follow up with Ice Beam for a nice combo!]

Some applause startled Ash and Tails. "Not a bad start! Your Buizel sounds like he has thought this through!"

Ash whirled around to find Wake watching what Tails was doing. "Wake? What are you doing here?"

"I was just passing by to make sure that you guys aren't too worn out by the festival last night." Wake explained before tossing a Poke Ball. "But first, say hello to Nami!"

Piqued, Ash read up on the larger weasel Pokemon that Wake had summoned:

"Floatzel, the sea weasel Pokemon. The evolved form of Buizel, it is a common sight around fishing ports. It is known to rescue people and carry off prey."


"All right, here's how this will work." a referee began as Ash and Wake stared each other down from opposite ends of a large indoor pool. "The match will be a three-on-three singles match. If Diamond knocks out all of Pearl's team, he will earn a Fen Badge. Should Pearl knock out all of Diamond's team, Diamond will lose the match, and must try again. Any questions?"

Ash and Wake both cheered in reply. "All right--let the battle begin!"

"Hayate, showtime!" Wake called, summoning a Gyarados into the water.

"Tintri, let's go!" Ash called, spurring Tintri to run onto one of the rocks floating in the pool. "Start with Thunderbolt!"

He balked when the thunderbolts cleared. "H-how?" he stammered when he noticed the Gyarados seemed hardly phased.

"Don't think a type advantage will save you!" Wake taunted as the Gyarados charged some familiar purple flames.

Ash remembered the flames as Dragon Rage. "Tintri, try to counter with Iron Tail!"

[HI-YAH!] Tintri cried as he leaped into the air, his tail glowing on the way up.

"Try to bite the Pikachu, Hayate!" Wake called.

The Gyarados lunged at Tintri, but the confident grin on Ash's face told Wake that he had an idea. "Try to use Volt Tackle on the way down!"

He shielded his eyes as Tintri slammed into the Gyarados in a silvery electric explosion. "Hayate is unable to battle--this round goes to Diamond." the referee announced.


In the stands, Dawn applauded Ash's move. "Seems my advice about thinking like a coordinator is helping!"

"That would be a cool double performance if you ever had to do that again." Brock agreed as he watched Wake summon a light blue amphibious Pokémon.

Dawn decided to read up on the Pokemon as Ash called back Tintri and summoned Gaia:

"Quagsire, the water fish Pokemon. Due to its relaxed and carefree attitude, it often bumps its head on boulders and boat hulls as it swims."

She watched Gaia use Energy Ball, but the Quagsire dove into the water. Not one to be deterred, Gaia hopped over the panels on the water in an attempt to find the Quagsire. "Wow...your Budew's very quick!" Wake smiled. "But how does she hold up to the element of surprise?"

Ash gasped as the Quagsire used Sludge Bomb, sending Gaia flying backwards. "Gaia, return!" he called when he saw the familiar blue white of Ice Beam out of the corner of his eye.

He heaved another Poke Ball skyward. "Tails, use Sonic Boom!"

Dawn and Brock braced themselves as Tails fired the massive soundwave. "How could that Quagsire take that?" Dawn gasped. "He didn't even flinch at the Sonic Boom!"

"Wake's trained his team hard." Brock replied as he watched the Quagsire charge an Ice Beam. "But I'll admit Ash is doing well with the tactical approach so far."

On the battlefield, Ash got an idea when he saw the Ice Beam. "Remember that girl coordinator with the Buizel during the Wallace Cup Tintri was telling you about?"

[What about her?] Tails asked.

"Remember that combo she did with Aqua Jet and Ice Beam he mentioned?" Ash asked. "I wonder how it would work in a battle scenario?"

[Let's give it a go!] Tails cried, charging towards the Quagsire just as it fired the Ice Beam. The two attacks collided in a massive icy wave.

"Nagare is unable to battle--this round goes to Diamond." the referee announced.

"Way to go, Ash!" Dawn cheered. "You're almost there!" Brock whistled in agreement.

[Brickabracka, firecracka, sis boom bah! Ash Ketchum, Ash Ketchum, rah, rah, rah!] Tarina cheered from the stands, waving some red Pichu-sized pom-poms all the while.


"Nami, you're up!" Wake called as he summoned his Floatzel.

Ash watched as Tails charged at Nami, but Nami inflated her sac, deflecting Tails' attack. "Tails, try Water Pulse!"

Tails gasped as Nami punched away the shining wave of water! [Oh no...]

He braced himself as Nami fired a volley of wind shears. "That was Razor Wind..." Brock noted as he watched Nami block a desperate Water Gun from Tails.

Frustrated, Tails charged at Nami again, only for Nami to punch the water, sending him flying backwards.

He swallowed hard as Nami conjured a red aura around herself. [I have a bad feeling about this...]

Desperate, he fired a Sonic Boom, which clashed with a new volley of Razor Wind.

Ash watched as Nami chased Tails in the pool. "Tails--remember the water is your friend!"

[I know!] Tails called back. [I have an idea!]

He inflated his sack, allowing him to stop. Nami flew right past him, leaving a small wave behind her. Once sure he could hit Nami, Tails charged forward with an Aqua Jet, stunning Nami and knocking her backwards!

"She's stunned! Try Water Pulse!" Ash called.

[HAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!] Tails cried as he fired a Water Pulse at point blank range into Nami.

The referee watched as Nami flew into the Pearl safety barrier. "Game set! This match goes to Diamond!"


The group gasped as Tails glowed against the sunset, transforming into a Floatzel himself. "Tails...why did you evolve?" Ash gasped.

[Even though I beat her in a fair fight, Nami inspired me back there.] Tails replied [She's both pretty, and powerful!]

[Oh come now, don't be so modest...] Nami purred as Wake met the group in the Gym's plaza. [You're not too shabby a battler yourself!]

"If you think Nami is powerful, I can't wait to see how much stronger your new Floatzel will be." Wake smiled.

He offered Ash a circular Badge that evoked a mountain lake. "The styles of battling and winning are as widely varied as trainers are. Don't ever lose sight of what makes your style unique!"

"I promise." Ash smiled as he took the badge.

After turning his cap back, he yelled to the setting sun "I got a Fen Badge!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 65a: Hungry for the Good Life! (part 1)

"...Mr. Backlot used his own money to finance Amity Square." Dawn read from a guidebook. "He wished that the square could be a place where Pokemon and their masters could relax and play together."

"That's sweet." Brock smiled as the group rounded a corner.

"When he is not traveling the world filming a movie, Mr. Backlot makes his home in a historic mansion just outside of Hearthome City." Dawn read on. "The mansion itself and the gardens are world renowned, and open to the public."

She was snapped from her reading by a tiny pink humanoid Pokemon that darted from a bush. Piqued, she read up on the creature as it danced before the boys:

"Cleffa, the star shape Pokemon. According to local rumors, Cleffa are often seen in places where shooting stars have fallen.

"Cool!" Ash smiled. "Maybe a meteor fell here?"

"Stella, where are you?" a female voice called, snapping the group to attention. A green haired woman in an elegant costume arrived to collect the Cleffa some moments later. "There you are, Stella--I was getting worried about you..."

Dawn sighed over a familiar guitar playing a wistful melody. If you miss me when I’m gone, just walk down by the sea... Brock sang.

Sing with a whisper of the waves, and there remember me...

[We're nowhere near water!] Kage snapped before jabbing Brock, creating a discordant Eb chord.

The girl just giggled. "Oh, come now, I wanted to hear more of that ballad!"

"Oh, Brock knows a zillion of them, miss..." It occurred to Ash that he had not asked the woman's name.

"Monica, please." the woman smiled. "I'm the chief Pokemon caretaker for Mr. Backlot."

"I'm Dawn--and these two are my companions." Dawn smiled as she gestured to the boys. "This is Ash, aspiring League champion..."

"Hi." Ash smiled as Tintri bounded on his shoulder.

"...and you've met Brock--our resident Loremaster, balladeer, and navigator." Dawn went on, eying Brock as he retuned his guitar a little.

Monica looked up at the sky, which was beginning to cloud up. "Well, if you three need a place to stay, Mr. Backlot has opened the house to visitors."

A boom startled Ash and Tintri. "I think we will take you up on that offer!" Ash cried as rain started to pour down.

"Come on--the house isn't far." Monica motioned for the group to follow her as thunder rumbled overhead...


The group gasped in awe at the majestic staircase. "This place is amazing..." Ash gasped as he gave his cap to a servant to hang up on a hat stand.

A man in an elegant suit came down the stairs some moments later. "Welcome, travelers; to my humble home. I am David T. Backlot--director, producer, and explorer.

"Pleased to meet you, good sir." Brock smiled. "I'm sure you have millions of stories to tell about your adventures."

"That I do." Mr. Backlot replied. "Won't you and your Pokemon join us for afternoon tea?"

"We'd love to!" Dawn smiled before heaving all her Poke Balls skyward "Come on out, everyone!"

"You guys, too!" Ash also summoned his team.

"And you guys!" Brock summoned his team as well.

Tarina gawked at the majestic foyer. [Wow...did we just arrive in a castle?]

Mr. Backlot just chuckled as Monica brought out a cart piled high with Poffins. "I wouldn't say it is a castle, little one...but it does have its own fascinating history."

"Come on, everyone! It's time for tea!" Monica called, spurring the Cleffa from earlier, an Igglybuff, three Pichus, and an Azurill to romp down the stairs.

"Aw..." Ash smiled as he spotted the Azurill. "Reminds me of a friend of mine at home, and an Azumarill I have back at home..."

Kori balked as a Swinub snatched one of her Poffins. [Hey, this is MY snack!]

[Get your own!] Diddy agreed as the Swinub took a Poffin from him.

Mr. Backlot noticed the angry Pokemon eying the Swinub. "Monica, please make sure Shimo gets some Poffin too."

"Yes sir." Monica replied as she got down an ornate bowl from a cabinet.

Dawn watched the Swinub eat a generous share of Poffins. "Shimo looks cute..."

"Well, he is not technically ours..." Mr. Backlot admitted. "His true home is in the nearby forest. But considering how often he comes here, he could very well be one of the family..."

The group did not notice Mars and Jupiter spying from a bush looking into the tea room. "Wow--just imagine the energy of a rich guy's Pokemon!" Mars smiled.

"Actually, I was thinking of giving them to Cyrus as gifts." Jupiter suggested. "Let's keep looking around these cushy digs--there's bound to be tons of secret passages we could sneak inside!"


"For you, Sir Ash--Oran Rooibos." Monica smiled as she delivered an elegant teacup to Ash.

"Pinkies out." Brock discretely whispered as Ash accepted the teacup.

"Mm...tastes a little like a hot Oran vanilla Fizzo." Ash smiled.

"There's more in the pot if you want seconds." Monica replied as a servant brought Dawn a teapot. "For you, Lady Dawn--Moonlight Honey Oolong."

Dawn took a sip of her teacup. "Reminds me of the honey Mom would put on her biscuits every Saturday..."

Another servant brought Brock a pot. "For you, Sir Brock--Peppermint Afterglow."

[Smells wonderful!] Tarina raved as Brock took a sip of his teacup.

"Mm...very warm and sweet." Brock raved.

"They say mint tea is good for the voice." Monica smiled.

"This is Pokemon safe, right?" Brock asked.

"All our blends are safe for Pokemon to enjoy." Mr. Backlot assured Brock. "So your little Pichu knight can have some too."

[Don't mind if I do, good sir.] Tarina smiled as a servant brought over a Pichu sized teacup for Brock to pour Tarina a share of the tea.

Mr. Backlot noticed the drawstring bag holding Brock's two Miracle Jewels. "Would you be willing to showcase your skill for us at dinner tonight?"

"I would be honored." Brock replied. "If I can have some time to prepare, I'll gladly show you my ability as a Loremaster!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: The Mansion's Minstrel

"So, how was dinner?" Brock asked as he emerged from a changing screen in costume.

"Way better than even your average restaurant!" Dawn raved.

"That smoky mushroom soup for the soup course was amazing!" Ash raved.

"Let's give Mr. Backlot credit--he hasn't forgotten his humble beginnings." Dawn agreed. "He understands that not everyone has the taste for exotic stuff."

"It was nice that we got to pick what we wanted for each course." Brock added. "It was hard picking the soup course, because both the smoky mushroom soup and the Cheddar cheese soup looked amazing."

"Dessert was a hard choice too..." Ash remembered as he watched Brock tune up. "No regrets on that chocolate maple cake I picked..."

"An amazing meal the whole way through." Dawn smiled.

Once sure he was in tune, Brock shepherded Ash and Dawn close to him. "I have a good idea of what may go over well here, but since I'm not officially onstage, I'm going to do something the real Fantasy Stage doesn't typically do--allow you guys to assist me."

"Which tales do you plan to tell?" Ash asked.

"I'm mainly going to field test a few tales you guys haven't heard before." Brock replied. "So if they go over well. I may consider using them in the Fantasy Stage."


Good luck, Brock... Ash thought as he watched Brock play a relaxed melody to compose his thoughts. The props, costumes, and everything they would need to tell the tale were in a nearby box.

"Once upon a time something happened..." he heard Brock say. "If it hadn't happened, it wouldn't be told."

With that, Brock began "Once upon a time, in what is today the far away region of Galar, there lived a mighty king and his good queen. They lived in a great stone castle built high upon a cliff overlooking the sea."

The name of Galar sen Ash's mind racing Oh yeah, the girl with the Scorbunny Brock tried to sing to! Maybe she taught him a tale or two from her home region?

"This king and queen had a son, whose name was Brian." Brock went on. "While he was a good young man for the most part, he had a fondess for games of chance. His father often told him how wrong it was for him to make bets he could not repay, but Brian paid him no mind."

Intrigued murmurs went up from the staff as Brock continued "One day, Prince Brian traveled to the royal hunting grounds for the day. Try as he might, he did not catch a thing."

He intoned "He was about to stop and rest for a moment when he heard the tramping of heavy feet on the grass."

He told the crowd "Imagine Prince Brian's shock when he saw a giant coming down the hill!"

"Oh my!" Monica gasped.

"He was almost as tall as the tallest tree, making our hero look tiny by comparison." Brock explained. "Prince Brian recognized the giant as the Giant of Loch Lein. He trembled when he remembered that the Giant of Loch Lein hunted in the forest for lost children. Many children, both boys and girls, had been taken to his castle in the heart of the forest, and never seen again."

"The poor children..." Mr. Backlot brushed away a tear, never mind the lost children only existed in Brock's imagination.

"He also remembered that the giant was fond of games, and so finally challenged the giant to a game of chess." Brock explained.

He interjected "Now, I do not mean the chess with pawns and rooks and bishops. This kind of chess was actually closer to Othello, or Spot."

"Oh"s went up as Brock went on "So with Prince Brian's freedom on the line, they played. Try as Prince Brian might, the giant narrowly beat him."

“You are a brave young man, if a bit rash." he explained in a gentle deep voice for the giant. "I will let you keep your freedom for a year and a day. Go home to the palace, but do not tell anyone that I am to have you as a slave. When the time is up, return to the hillside to meet me.”

As himself, he continued "With that, the giant vanished, leaving Prince Brian alone. He did not go home, but wandered the world, following where the wind took him..."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 65b: Hungry for the Good Life! (part 2)

The next morning, the group gasped in awe as they looked out on the massive garden. "Here is the Trophy Garden." Mr. Backlot began as he made a grand gesture to the many flowers and trees. "So named because many of the rare and exotic plants here have won prizes."

[Wow!] Tarina gasped. [It's like the royal garden in a Moltres story! All we'd need is the magical Leppa Berry tree!]

Mr. Backlot smiled. "As far as I know, none of the Leppa trees I have are magical--but they do produce fine fruit in the fall."

[Is it okay if we take a look around this place?] Tintri asked.

"Of course--all I ask is that you be considerate of the gardeners." Mr. Backlot replied.

Dawn arrived as the Pokémon hurried off to explore the massive garden. "Okay! Poffins are ready!"

[Oh boy!] Satomi gasped, warping back in a white glow.

Dawn gasped as Satomi landed in front of the bowl as a bipedal white humanoid Pokémon that appeared to be wearing a small dress. "Satomi...you evolved!"

She giddily reached for Pokedex to read up on what Satomi had become:

"Kirlia, the emotion Pokemon. It is highly perceptive of its trainer's feelings. It dances when it is feeling happy."

Dawn smiled as she filled a huge bowl full of Poffins. "Here you go, Satomi--congratulations on evolving!"

[Thank you.] Satomi replied with a little bow.

She gasped when she saw Dawn yawn and collapse to the ground. [Dawn!] she cried as the ground collapsed beneath her master. [Help, somebody!] she called, alerting the other Pokemon and the boys.

"We didn't have to try this time!" Mars grinned as she and Jupiter looked down on the sinkhole. "All the rain yesterday just made a sinkhole for us to collect all you lot's Pokemon!"

"Not if we have anything to say about it!" Ash retorted before motioning for Dawn to follow him. "Come on!"

"Right!" Dawn called as Ash leaped onto the odd flying mecha.

Once he steadied himself on a catwalk, he held out his hand. "Jump!"

"Hah!" Dawn made a powerful yet elegant jump up to the catwalk, grabbing Ash's hand she collected herself.

Dawn brushed herself off. "Okay...I'll look for the Pokemon, you try and find the controls for Tintri."

Now, if I were a Galactic admin, where would I stash a bunch of stolen Pokemon? she thought as she felt around the odd machine's walls and the various control panels.

A green lever on one panel got her attention. That has to be it!

She smiled as the dome at the top of the mecha opened up, allowing Satomi to warp out into Dawn's arms. [About time...now how to get the others out...]

"Can you try warping them out?" Dawn suggested.

[I can try, but only one Pokemon at a time.] Satomi replied.

Ash arrived a few moments later. "Hey...these walls are hollow." he told Dawn, knocking on the wall to illustrate his point. "It's possible that we could break it and free everyone all at once. Check Kirlia's attack list in battle mode."

After bringing up the move list for Kirlia in her Pokedex and setting it to battle mode, the Pokedex began Kirlia's Known Attacks--number 1, Magical Leaf...

"Satomi, try Magical Leaf!" Dawn called.

Ash watched as the glowing leaves lashed the wall, creating a hole large enough for the Pokemon to fit. "It worked!"

"I'll admit that was much faster than warping everyone out one at a time." Dawn smiled.

"Leona, use Fury Swipes!" she heard Mars call.

"Noctis, use Flamethrower!" Jupiter called.

Satomi warped in front of Ash, Dawn, and the Pokemon. [Don't you DARE hurt my mistress and her friends!] she screeched as she fired a large blue blast of psychic energy, heavily damaging the Purugly and the Skuntank and sending them flying.

Once sure the admins would not pursue them, Satomi surrounded the group in a blue orb. [Later, Galactic space cases!]


"Ash, Dawn, thank Arceus you guys are okay!" Brock cried as he ran to meet the group later that evening. "You had me worried for a second when everyone fell in that sinkhole."

"Oh, Team Galactic just took advantage of the rain yesterday to capture our teams." Ash explained. "But I have to hand it to Dawn and her new Kirlia Satomi...they were the real heroes!"

Mr. Backlot's smiled. "I too am relieved you're all right after that escapade. Luckily, the garden is not too heavily damaged."

"Congratulations on your Ralts evolving." Monica smiled. "If you wish to enter her in a Pokemon Contest, there's one going on in Celestic Town."

"I'll keep that in mind." Dawn replied.

"Thanks for everything." Ash replied. "We'll drop by for tea again if we're in the area."

"And I'll keep searching for new tales to tell." Brock replied.

A familiar Swinub caught Dawn's attention. "But what about Shimo?"

"Don't worry, Lady Dawn--we'll just welcome Shimo into the family." Mr. Backlot smiled. "Then he can have all the Poffin he wishes!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 66a: Erin the Brave! (part 1)

"How is everything, gang?" Brock asked as he spooned some leftover ground beef into some tupperware.

[Delicious!] Tintri smiled.

[Top notch, as always!] Kori agreed.

"If you want more, I still have the leftovers." Brock reminded the happy Pokemon as Kori came to help him with the dishes.

Ash smiled as he looked out of the group's teams happily enjoying their creations from the taco bar they had made. <i>Let's see...Tintri...Diddy...Tails...Gaia...Estrella...</i>

He gasped when he noticed Erin's place was empty. "Guys, have you seen Erin anywhere?"

[She was having lunch a minute ago.] Kori replied.

"I remember that she went off towards the forest after she finished lunch." Dawn replied as she gathered up the remains of the toppings. "Where she went, I didn't see."

"I'll go look for her!" Ash volunteered before hurrying off into the forest...


"Erin!" Ash called into the trees. "Erin, where are you?"

He did not expect a blur of blue and black to drop down from the sky and land on top of him! "Whoa!"

Giggles filled the air as Ash eased himself to his feet. "What was that for?" he asked as he watched his giddy Riolu disappear and then reappear in various locations.

[I've been trenin'!] Erin smiled. [Fergive me if I worried you...]

Brock and Dawn arrived some moments later. "Maybe Erin is trying harder to get stronger after seeing Tails evolve..." Brock suggested.

"It makes sense..." Dawn agreed. "Once Erin does evolve, she will be able to Mega Evolve."

Erin danced in delight. [I'll keep trenin' every dey until I kin become a Lucario!]

"Well, come on back to camp, and I'll let you spar against someone, okay?" Ash smiled. "Although if you want to train by yourself, at least tell me where you're going and what time you'll be back."


"Okay, Erin...Tails volunteered to be your opponent for this mock battle." Ash explained as he watched Erin and Tails stare each other down.

[I'm givin' ye all I've got!] Erin challenged. Tails just smirked at this.

The sly grin unnerved Erin. [Um...ye sure tis is just a friendly match?]

"I'm sure...I would not have you fight an opponent you're not comfortable with." Ash assured Erin. "Friendly matches like this are meant to help you get even stronger."

[Okey...] Erin replied. [Tell me what te do.]

"All right, start with Force Palm!" Ash called.

Erin charged at Tails to deliver the attack, but Tails jumped away. She would try again at a different angle, only for Tails to move away.

She gasped as Tails jumped into the air and sped towards Erin with a high powered water attack. [Oh no...]

Ash gasped when he saw Erin fleeing towards him! "Tails, stop! he called.

Tails came to a stop, missing Ash and the frightened Riolu by inches. "What's the matter, Erin?" Ash asked. "You seemed confident before..."

"Perhaps you're going about this the wrong way..." Dawn began before kneeling down to Erin's level. "It's okay..." she smiled as she petted the shaking Riolu. "Ash wasn't trying to scare you or hurt you...he only wants to help you."

Brock watched Dawn give Erin a hug. "It may be better if you used a different Pokémon--a Floatzel towers over a Riolu by a foot. While that doesn't sound like much to a human, think about how it looks from Erin's perspective."

"You're right..." Ash replied as he studied the Pokemon size chart in his Pokedex. "Chimchar's actually smaller than a Riolu, so maybe she'll have better luck with Diddy."

[You need me?] Diddy asked.

"Can you be Erin's sparing partner for a minute?" Ash asked.

[Sure!] Diddy smiled, hurrying before the Riolu bracing herself.

"Okay--start with Flame Wheel!" Ash called.

He watched Erin dart away from the massive flaming wheel. "Be brave, Erin! Try Aura Sphere!"

Erin charged an Aura Sphere, but dispelled the aura when she saw Diddy bracing to defend.

Brock sighed as Ash rushed to comfort the sobbing Riolu. "If you keep pounding with raw power, it's no wonder Erin is so afraid." he began. "Try pitting Erin against something she has a chance to beat, such as a Dark type."

"I second that, plus a sparring partner closer to Erin's size." Dawn agreed.

"But, where am I going to find a Dark type in a forest?" Ash wondered.

"Did someone ask for a Dark type sparring partner?" a voice asked.

Ash whirled around to find Gary approaching the camp. "Oh, Gary, hi!"

"How've you guys been since we sent the Pokemon hunter packing?" Gary smiled as the two former rivals embraced.

"Well, I earned two more badges, tried my hand at coordinating, Dawn finally got a second ribbon, and Brock earned another Miracle Jewel." Ash replied.

"You did surprisingly well for your first time coordinating." Gary smiled. "I had the Wallace Cup on as background noise, and didn't know you were competing until you came on for appeal #1. Loved the Nick Dragonswift duds."

He noticed the Riolu in Ash's arms. "Aw, who's this?"

"This is Erin--she was a gift from the Veilstone Gym Leader." Ash explained. "We were in the middle of a friendly match when she ran away from a huge attack."

"You might be pitting Erin against opponents that are too strong for her at this stage." Gary cautioned. "While powerful attacks like Aqua Jet, Flame Wheel, and Thunderbolt have their place in battle, they can be intimidating to young Pokemon and Pokemon that have not battled much. The best way to ease them into it is pit them against an opponent that is about their size, and that they should be able to beat."

He took a Poke Ball. "As for where you can find a Dark type? Vega should be about the right size!"

Ash smiled as the Umbreon materialized in the camp. "Gary, you're a genius!"

To Be Continued...