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Pokemon Shine Diamond


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 66b: Erin the Brave! (part 2)

Previously, on "Pokemon Shine Diamond"...

"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!"

The two former rivals faced off in a makeshift arena some time later. "Erin, use Force Palm!" Ash called.

"Vega, use Shadow Ball!" Gary commanded when he saw the Riolu charging.

Vega charged up a familiar black purple ball, but Erin rolled away from it. "Nice dodge..." Gary smiled as the Shadow Ball impacted against a tree. "I've got a little gift for your Riolu, if you're interested..."

[A present? What is it?] Erin asked.

Gary pulled out a small black silk belt from a pocket. "This is a Black Belt. It boosts the power of Fighting type moves, so it should be just the ticket to boost Erin's confidence."

"Thanks." Ash smiled as Gary draped the small belt across his hands.

He motioned for Erin to come to him. "Here, Erin--let me put this on you."

After carefully tying the small belt around Erin's waist and checking over the knots, Ash admired how Erin looked. "There--you look like a real hero now."

"Wanna take a look at yourself?" Gary offered, setting a small mirror before Erin.

Erin smiled at her reflection. [I DO look like a hero now!] she yipped. [I kin see the movie now--Enter the Riolu!]

"I'll leave the mirror here, so you can pose all you want." Gary smiled before propping the mirror against a stump.

He returned to Ash. "So, what do we do now? Do we pit Erin against Vega again? Or do we pit Erin against one of yours?"

"You saw what happened when we tried to do that..." Ash sighed. "I wouldn't want to force Dawn to battle..."

[What about me?] Tarina asked. [I wanna fight!]

Brock smiled. "Okay...you can spar with Erin. Maybe you can solve our problem of finding an opponent she won't be afraid to fight."

Gary smiled as Tarina unleashed some celebratory sparks. "Come to think of it, red mage-chu is just the right size!"

"Don't write her off because she's cute." Brock cautioned. "Tarina can hit hard when it counts!"


On the Pearl side of the arena, Brock told Tarina "Remember, this is just a friendly fight. That, and Erin is afraid of big attacks. So be gentle if you can."

[Okay!] Tarina replied.

[I'm redy when ye are.] Erin told Tarina as she struck a fighting pose.

"Okay! Start with Force Palm!" Ash called.

"Tarina, confuse Erin with Double Team!" Brock commanded.

Erin stopped in her tracks when she saw what looked like hundreds of Tarinas before her. [Um, which wun's my target?] she asked.

"Look for the Tarina with a shadow!" Ash called back. "That's your target!"

Erin nodded, and focused her aura power for a moment before spotting the real Tarina on a rock. [HAAAAAAH!!!] she called as she delivered the Force Palm through some Tarina copies before knocking the real Tarina to the ground.

"Try Disarming Voice!" Brock suggested as Tarina collected herself.

Tarina nodded, and took a deep breath. Imultaos, ame no hao bakezo...

Ash smiled as Erin put up a Light Screen, reflecting the wave of sound and leaves back onto Tarina! "Nice work defending, Erin!"

He noticed Erin looking uneasy as Tarina charged a Thundershock. "Be brave, Erin!" Ash called. "This is your chance to be a hero!"

[Right!] Erin called back before Feinting away from the tiny ball of electricity.

[What the...] Tarina gasped before Erin fired an Aura Sphere, sending her flying through the grass.

Brock smiled as Tarina narrowly missed a tree. "Nicely done." he told Erin as he applauded. "You beat your first opponent."

[Reely? I won?] Erin gasped. [I won! I won!]

Ash grinned as Erin cartwheeled through the grass. "Well done, Erin...I'm proud of you."

He hugged the giddy Riolu. "Even though your opponents will only get bigger and more powerful from here, remember the feeling of being brave."

[I promise.] Erin replied.

"Well, seems like we're done here." Gary smiled.

[Tank ye for the gift!] Erin barked as she hurried to hug Gary.

"Anytime--I've got millions more type boosters for all kinds of Pokemon, if you need more." Gary replied.

"That Black Belt's done wonders for Erin's confidence." Ash agreed. "I can't thank you enough."

"Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest impact." Gary reminded Ash. "If you need anything, let me know and I'll come runnin', no matter where in the world you are. Do me proud in the League here!"

"Believe me, I will!" Ash called back as the group parted ways.

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 67: Arriving in Style!

"Welcome back, Hearthome City..." Ash smiled as the group made their way into the majestic city. "You don't have any bad memories of the loss you had here, do you?" he asked Dawn.

"Not at all." Dawn replied. "I've come to realize the reason I lost was because I wasn't paying attention to what my opponents were doing, and how they could capitalize off of me. But the memories of that play earlier is what I remember most."

Ash nodded. "Since we're here, I wonder if I can get in that Gym battle I never got."

"Actually, the Gym Leader is still away right now." a lady with long red hair replied as she stepped out from a limo.

She smiled as she recognized Ash. "So this is the spirited young actor that played Robin Hood at the theater some months ago. You did very well with the role, I might add."

"Thanks." Ash smiled, a little embarrassed. "I was just trying to play up the character's cleverness."

Dawn immediately recognized the lady. "Oh Arceus--Paris and Coco, here?"

She explained to the boys "Everyone, this is Paris, and her Lopunny; Coco. Paris is world renowned as a fashion designer, and founded Notte Royal, Mom's preferred brand."

She sighed when she heard a familiar guitar starting the introduction to a familiar song. The gypsy rover came over the hill, Brock sang as he played, to Coco's bemusement.
Down through the valley so shady,
He whistled and he sang, till the green woods rang,
and he won the heart of a lady...

This was far as he got before Kage jabbed him, creating a discordant Eb chord. [Yeah, but it wasn't easy to win her heart.] Kage deadpanned. [Now, behave yourself!]

"Yes, Dad..." Brock muttered under his breath.

He noticed Paris giggling at him. "Oh, so your Croagunk doesn't like you singing?"

"He's okay with me doing it on stage or in camp, but I can't get a street performance in edgewise." Brock explained. "Kinda ironic, since I played Alan-a-dale in the same play."

Paris smiled. "Well you would be right at home in the Fantasy Stage taking place at the Fantasia Theater today."

"Really?" Brock was intrigued.

"Hearthome has long been known for its opulent theaters and concert halls." Paris explained. "While the main theater is more for traditional plays and concerts; the Fantasia is more for specialized theater and spectacles."

"I see..." Brock mused. "Is there still time to sign up for the Fantasy Stage?"

"There is--walkups are still being taken, and will be until noon." Paris replied.

She looked down at Lola. "Aw...your Buneary's cute."

"Thanks." Dawn replied. "Is it true you've worked with my mom before?"

"Oh, so you must be Joanna's daughter, Dawn." Paris smiled. "She spoke very highly of you every time she came to the office. It warms my heart to see you following in her footsteps."

"Thanks..." Dawn replied. "It hasn't always been easy, but I wouldn't trade any part of my journey so far for the world."

"Would you like to go shopping with me for Contest coords?" Paris offered. "Many of the brands have an outlet here, and Notte Royal makes its headquarters here...

"Sure!" Dawn replied. "I didn't think to pack very many coords for the trip..."

"While you do that, I'm gonna go get signed up for the Fantasy Stage." Brock began as he started towards a bus stop with Ash.

"Don't forget to show us what coords you get!" Ash called as Paris led Dawn to the waiting limo.

"I won't! Dawn called back before calling to Brock "Good luck in the Fantasy Stage!"


Dawn gawked in awe as the limo turned into the opulent shopping district. "Wow...it's beautiful out here!"

"Thankfully, the opulent look doesn't mean opulent prices." Paris assured Dawn. "There's something here for every taste and budget.

She asked: "Now..do you have a preferred brand or type?

"Well..." Dawn thought for a moment. "I lean toward Beautiful and Passion coords. While I don't have a preferred brand myself yet, I like many of the coords from Notte Royal."

"All right--we'll start there." Paris replied before motioning for her driver to stop before the Notte Royal headquarters...


Meanwhile, the atmosphere in the Fantasia was electric as the storytellers finished the creative round. "Very well done, everyone!" the emcee began as the various storytellers reconvened on the large stage. "For this Fantasy Stage, you'll be doing a Double Free Performance. You've each been paired up with a partner, so take a few minutes to find your partner, get to know them a bit, and decide on a story you want to tell together. Once everyone's with their partner and decided on a story to tell, we'll start the Free Performance. Any questions?"

"Does that mean both people get Miracle Jewels if they win?" a wavy haired girl in a blue, purple, and gold costume that evoked water asked as the storytellers got up to find their partners.

"Yes--both storytellers will receive the appropriate Miracle Jewel." the emcee replied.

"Thanks..." the girl replied before looking at her partner slip "It says here I'm with number K-42207..."

"That would be me." Brock replied. "Number H-112114?"

"That's me." the girl smiled. "I'm Rebecca, by the way."

"Brock, please--nice to meet you." Brock smiled as he shook hands with his partner. "So, what kind of stories do you tell?"

"I tell a mix of folk and fairy tales from around the world and true tales of my travels." Rebecca replied. "And you?"

"Mostly the same, but I specialize in adventurous tales, comic tales, and true tales." Brock explained. "So, what's a tale we would both know, or would be easy to teach?"

"Well, I know an exciting tale about three brothers and a scheming Wartortle from Kanto..." Rebecca suggested. "Want me to teach it to you?"

"Sure!" Brock smiled.

"Okay, here's the basics of the tale..." Rebecca began. "Basically, it's about three orphaned brothers who have come of age; and are eligible to choose a trade. So they go to see the Wartortle--who has served as their guardian..."


"Up next is Pair 93098." the emcee announced some time later as the previous pair departed offstage.

The audience applauded as the lights went down, save for a spotlight on Rebecca. "Once upon a time, there were three orphan brothers, whose names were Otachi, Akira, and Aruto." she began. "The brothers had reached the age of choosing what trade they would follow for the rest of their lives. In order to advise them on such an important decision, the brothers went to visit Kamena, the Wartortle who had been their trusted guardian for many years. As soon as they arrived, Kamena welcomed them, gave them fresh fruit and nuts, and they all sat in her front yard under the sakura, or Cheri tree."

The spotlight expanded to include Brock. "Now then..." Rebecca begins as Kamena. "What brings you all here at this hour?"

Brock cleared his throat before speaking in a mimic of Ash for Otachi. "First of all, my brothers and I wish to say thank you for all you have done for us ever since our parents left this world to join the Great Lord Arceus in heaven. Now we have decided to each learn a trade, and we would like you to advise us in this matter."

"Kamena listened intently and nodded her head." Rebecca went on as herself. "Then there was a moment of silence as the Wartortle stared up at the sakura, apparently lost in her own thoughts. The three brothers sat very still, all wondering what was going on in Kamena’s mind."

As Kamena, she tells Brock "I am happy that the three of you are thinking of learning a trade, but my advice to you is that you join me in my business so that we can all work together."

Brock balks in feigned surprise, to some giggles. "We did not know that you had a business." he gasps in a mimic of Ash for Akira.

"I do, little one." Rebecca replies as Kamena. "However, my business involves a lot of planning and scheming. I use more of my mind than my physical body. You may have noticed that I do not own a farm, nor do I buy and sell. I hold no position in the royal court, nor do I answer to any boss. Nevertheless, I eat well and I do not want for anything."

Some awkward giggles filled the air as Brock started towards stage right, as if he was the three brothers looking to get away. "Why are you looking at me like I am holding a sword to your heads?" Rebecca asks as Kamena. "I do not go around forcing people to part with their belongings! I am very cautious in my dealings with people. It is just that I always find a way of getting whatever I want, by hook or by crook."

As herself, Rebecca explains "There was another long silence among the group. The brothers did not know what to say to Kamena. Eventually Otachi stood up and said..."

"We will be on our way now, but we will think about your proposal and give you an answer tomorrow before sunset." Brock offers as Otachi.

"The next day, Otachi was the only one who went to visit Kamena." Rebecca narrates.

"My brothers and I have thought seriously about your offer," Brock explains to Rebecca as Otachi. "and we want to thank you for thinking about us, but we cannot work for you. We are honest people and we would like honest trades. We want to work with our hands and we do not wish to take from others."

"Is that what you have to say to me after all I have done to support you since the death of your parents?" Rebecca gasps in feigned anger as Kamena.

Brock just bows his head in feigned defeat. "I am sorry, but that is the way we feel."

"In that case," Rebecca yells as Kamena, "you and your brothers have just made a vicious enemy!"

Fearful murmurs wafted through the auditorium as the audience debated what Kamena will do for revenge before the lights come back up on Rebecca again. "A few weeks later, the three brothers started learning their various new trades. They worked very hard and diligently at their various tasks. They did as they were told; they listened to their masters intently and soon became very skilled and very well respected among the townsfolk. Otachi became the best hunter the village had ever known. Akira provided the best wine the village had ever tasted. And Aruto became the best fisherman, always catching the biggest haul of fish every morning."

She then intones "But as the brothers’ fame grew, so did Kamena’s jealousy. And it was in such a mood that Kamena formed a plot to destroy the brothers."

"Ooh"s went up as Rebecca continues "One day, Kamena went to the palace and told the king that the three brothers had been boasting of magnificent feats that no ordinary human could possibly perform. The cunning Wartortle feigned a great sadness, saying to the king..."

She walked over to stage right and bowed before Brock, now in the role of the king. "I am concerned that people will start to believe what the brothers are saying because of their so called good reputation. If this happens, I am afraid our city will be in a good deal of trouble."

"What do you mean?" Brock asks as the king.

‘Your Highness, if people ask the brothers to perform these great feats, feats which I know to be impossible, what damage will that do to the reputation of our city?" Rebecca explains as Kamena. "We will be known far and wide as the city of liars. People will say that we boast of things that are not possible! I think you should do something to stop this!"

As herself, Rebecca explains "The king grew very angry when listening to Kamena’s speech. After all, a village, town, or city was nothing without its good reputation, and it seemed that the orphan brothers were threatening the royal family’s good name."

"Leave it to me, Kamena. I know exactly what to do." Brock assures Rebecca as the king.

"That same day, the king ordered the three brothers to come to the palace." Rebecca narrates as herself. "As soon as they arrived, the king shouted at them...."

The lights went down, leaving the auditorium in total darkness, save for Brock simultaneously performing the next scene on his own. "You are evil men! Before you destroy my kingdom I will destroy you! In exactly one week I want you to return to my palace and prove to me that you are capable of these impossible feats that you have been boasting about all over the village." he threatens as the king. "Otachi, you must fire an arrow that will touch the sky! You, Akira, will climb the highest tree without rope or spurs! Aruto, you must swim the length of the western river. I am giving you a chance to perform these feats so that all of us might see if you are telling the truth. If you are not able to do as I have instructed, then you will be thrown in the dungeon for life!"

"Your highness, we did not claim such feats!" he protests as Otachi.

"But the angry king did not listen to Otachi, and ordered his guards to escort the brothers from the palace." Rebecca sighs as the lights came back up. "The brothers were devastated. After discussing their predicament among themselves, they concluded that Kamena was the one behind their situation, but they did not know what to do. For many days they could not eat, drink, or sleep. They tried to think of what they might do, but could find no solution to their problem. To make matters worse, they could not run away, because the king had assigned armed guards to watch their every move. The brothers were not allowed to leave their house at any time."

Brock, meanwhile, finds a recorder backstage while the Fantasia's house band prepares to play. "Early one morning, the three brothers were roused from their sleep by a strange and beautiful sound." Rebecca continues. "They opened a window to see a beautiful Fletchling perched on the wall outside of their house. The bird was singing a solemn tune that went something like this..."

She then started to sing Ieyui...

A drum and a tambourine joined in as Rebecca continued Ieyui...

Some of the house band joined in with backup. Hasate kanae...

Hasate kanae...

Brock joined in on the recorder as Rebecca started the second rendition of Ieyui...

Another band member added a descant on whistle as Rebecca continued Ieyui...

Hasate kanae...
some singers joined in.

Hasate kanae...

Rebecca waits for the applause to die down before continuing "The brothers were mesmerized by the beautiful song: the call and response of the verse, the gentle rhythm and haunting lyrics. When the song had finished, the Fletchling fluttered away into the sky and left the brothers in a gentle silence."

Brock returns to see a prop gold bow, a gold colored rope, and a yellow armband on the stage. "It was then that Otachi noticed the shining gold bow and quiver of thirty arrows sitting on the wall. Next to the bow was a magical golden rope. Next to the rope lay a golden arm band." Rebecca explains as Brock sets the rope at his side, slings the bow and quiver of arrows on his back, and puts on the armband. "Each of the brothers took the item that related to his trade, aware that they were the only ones who could see the bow, the rope, or the golden arm band. These magical gifts would remain invisible to anyone else."

She steps back a little as she continues "Later that morning, they made their way to the palace where the king and his advisors were already seated and waiting for the feats to be performed. Kamena was also perched confidently beside the king, a wry smile grazing the corners of her mouth. As the brothers entered the courtyard, a thrilling hush swept through the crowd and the king’s words rang out loud and clear like a bell."

"Otachi, you claim to be able to shoot an arrow up into the sky. Show us this impossible feat of yours." Brock instructs as the king.

A click from backstage alerts both Brock and Rebecca that Brock's target is in place and he is clear to shoot. "Otachi, who had his invisible bow strapped to his back, took an arrow..." Rebecca waits for Brock to take one of the prop arrows, nock it, and aim at the offstage target. "aimed for the sun, and fired." At this, Brock fires his shot.

Some light applause goes up when they hear the thunk of the arrow hitting the target some seconds later. "The arrow soared high up into the sky and disappeared among the clouds." Rebecca goes on, smiling when she sees that Brock hit the target very close to the bullseye. The crowd went wild with joy, cheering and clapping for Otachi. The king, however, began to sweat profusely. He had never seen such a thing in his entire life. Next he told Akira to climb the tallest tree in the center of the town square without a rope or climbing spurs."

Brock pantomimes climbing with the rope as Rebecca narrates "Akira, who had already tied his magical rope around his waist, began to climb the tree. He climbed very fast and without hesitation. He scaled the tree as easily as any man might walk along a path, and he reached the top in no time at all. The crowd shouted out praise and clapped and cheered for Akira. By now the king was growing quiet, and Kamena too was looking very uneasy. The king called upon Aruto to lead the group to the great river to the west of the city."

After setting the bow, arrows and rope aside, Brock shows the crowd the armband as Rebecca narrates "Aruto was wearing his golden arm band, but this band remained visible only to him and his brothers. He led the crowd to the river’s edge and plunged straight in." Brock pantomimes swimming as a sound effect of rushing rapids plays. "Once in the water he did not hesitate, he moved his arms and kicked with his legs and swam the length and breadth of the great river, darting to and fro with the speed of lightning."

When the water sounds fade, Rebecca continues "The villagers went wild; the minstrels struck up a song of praise on their many instruments; there was clapping and cheering and the villagers hoisted the brothers up onto their shoulders and carried them back to the palace."

The house band struck up a festive interlude, but Rebecca cautions "Now, Kamena knew her judgement had come, so she tried to escape from the palace by sneaking through the assembled crowd as quickly as her sluggish little legs would carry her. Just as Kamena was sure of her escape, one of the guards spotted her and cried..."

"Not so fast, you mischievous little devil!" Brock intones in his 'somebody's in trouble' voice as he pulls a pantomime Wartortle back. "Where do you think you are going?"

"The guard hoisted Kamena onto his shoulders and carried her back into the palace." Rebecca narrates as Brock does this to the pantomime Wartortle. "The king called the brothers to sit beside him on his throne as he addressed the people of the city."

"I want to apologize to these brave young men," Brock explains as the king. "I am sorry for falsely accusing them of being deceitful, and I apologize for the pain that I might have caused them."

He then addresses an imagined person. "I would like to honor you today by inviting you to be part of my royal court."

"The crowd erupted into more clapping, cheering, and songs as the brothers accepted the king’s generous offer. Otachi was made the chief hunter, Akira the royal cupbearer, and Aruto the assistant to the royal cook." Rebecca narrates.

"As for you, Kamena," Brock addresses the pantomime Wartortle as the king. "You will be locked up in the dungeon to serve the sentence you wished served upon these three brave brothers."

"The villagers all approved of the king’s judgment as Kamena was led away by the royal guards." Rebecca concluded. "As you can imagine, the three brothers lived happily ever after."

The crowd roared with applause as Brock, Rebecca, and the house band took a bow together...


"So, how was your first experience with a partner?" Dawn asked as she sorted through what outfits she had bought that evening.

"It was very nice, actually." Brock replied as he toyed with the plastic topaz he had received. "It helped I was paired up with someone that I really clicked with."

"It's beautiful when that happens." Ash smiled. "So, what's our next step, since the Gym Leader is still out?"

"We can always explore the surrounding areas around Hearthome..." Brock suggested as he added his topaz to his bag. "We didn't really get to do that the last time we came."

After tying up his Miracle Jewel bag, he asked Dawn "So, what kinds of coords did you get with Paris?"

"Quite a bit, actually." Dawn smiled as she brought over her shopping bags and laid out the various coords on the bed for the boys to see. "First is Golden Nomel, my only Cute coord of the lot." she explained as she pointed out a pale yellow costume. "We were looking in the Jeweled Story shop, and I thought it was beautiful. Paris said that not all Cute and Dreamy coords were frilly outfits..."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 68: The Psyduck Stops Here!

"The dance of the Shaymin was beautiful!" Dawn raved as the group walked down a road to Celestic Town.

"Yeah--that and the Distortion World is safe, too." Ash agreed as the group rounded a corner.

He balked when he saw three familiar duck Pokemon in the middle of the road. "Psyduck? Misty can't possibly be here...can she?"

"If she was, we'd likely see Michelle or Pearl someplace." Brock replied. "But these Psyduck appear to be wild."

"Psyduck, the duck Pokemon. It has mystical powers but doesn't recall that it has used them. This is why it always looks puzzled." Dawn's Pokedex explained as the group approached the three Psyduck.

She saw the Psyduck's eyes glow pink, surrounding the group in pink as well. "I have a bad feeling about this..."

"Oh no..." was all Ash could say before the group was flung against a tree!

"Is everyone okay?" Brock asked as he rubbed his head in pain.

"I think so..." Dawn replied as she inspected the scrapes and scratches on her arms.

"Everyone, huddle!" Ash called. "We need to find another way to get around the Psyduck."

"Just approaching them would only result in getting flung away..." Dawn groaned as she tended to her wounds.

"Asking them to move would be pointless..." Brock agreed.

"The only thing I know to do is use force." Ash continued.

He heaved a Poke Ball skyward. "Diddy, use Fury Swipes!"

He winced as the three Psyducks didn't bat an eye. "Diddy, come back!"

"Kori, use Whirlpool!" Dawn called.

She watched in horror as the Psyducks used Psychic to reflect the Whirlpool back onto Kori.

"Maybe I can lure the Psyduck to me with some of my material?" Brock suggested as Dawn ran to collect Kori. "They'll be too distracted listening to me, and allow people to pass."

"Whatever you want to do, Brock--but we have to get these Psyduck out of the way somehow." Ash noted.

"All right, then!" Brock grinned. "But first, allow me to change into something more appropriate..."

He fished out the ruby from his Miracle Jewel bag and held it skyward. "Super Star Power! Make up!"

Against a background of stars and flashing lights, Brock's glowing purple body swirled and danced through the stars and a silver moon, making a long and elaborate purple and red tunic appear on his body. Next, some elegant purple gloves with red and gold trim appeared on his hands, and matching purple and red boots appeared on his feet. An elaborate purple and gold sash appeared next, making gold dust rain on the long tunic, giving it a gold sparkle. An elaborate purple minstrel's hat with a white plume appeared on his head, allowing him to strike an elegant pose, harp in hand.

In the real world, a familiar orange haired girl sighed as Ash and Dawn scrambled to pick up pieces of Brock's normal clothes. "You call throwing off your regular clothes a transformation?" she sighed.

Just then, Mars and Jupiter came over the hill. "How's a sing-along gonna help, Sir Minstrel?" Mars jeered.

"We can do a better job of getting the Psyduck out of the way than anything you guys could ever try!" Jupiter agreed.

"Okay, then--prove it!" Ash challenged.

Mars walked up to the Psyduck. "Look, people need to go through here. Can you please move?"

Tarina watched as the admins went flying via Psychic to the top of a mountain. [Wow...that was pretty strong, but I should be able to show these Psyducks who's boss!]

"Be careful!" Dawn called as Tarina fired a Thundershock at the Psyduck.

Ash winced as Tarina went flying to the group via Psychic. "That looked like it hurt..." he noted as Tarina eased herself to her feet.

[Errgh...no one's gonna bully people like that while I'm here!] Tarina screeched.

Brock watched in awe as an electric aura started to form around Tarina. "Is that what I think it is?"

"Volt Tackle!" Ash gasped as the aura formed into an electric burst.

Tintri gasped as the electric burst glowed bright white. [Hit the dirt!] The group dove for cover as Tarina slammed into a Psyduck, creating an electric explosion.

"Are you okay?" Brock asked as he found Tarina heaving with exhaustion by a rock. "That was a pretty powerful move you tried to use..."

[I'm okay...] Tarina replied. [Just very tired...]

"Well, Volt Tackle is a very powerful move. Even Tintri didn't learn to do it overnight." Brock reminded Tarina as the group reunited in a clearing near the road.

[If you want me to give you some Volt Tackle lessons, I'll teach you.] Tintri offered as the group discussed their next move.


"Okay..." Ash began as he climbed aboard Estrella. "You guys can distract the Psyduck while Estrella and I do a flyover of the area they're protecting."

"Right!" Dawn smiled, clinking a few spoons as Brock finished fine tuning his guitar.

Ash smiled. "Remember, it's okay to play every last song you know."

"I don't know if I'll need to play that many, but I'll go through as many songs as I can." Brock smiled back.

Once sure Ash and Estrella were safely airborne, Brock snapped to count Dawn off into a familiar rollicking melody.

It's of a jolly beggarman came tripping o'er the plain,
He came unto a castle fair, a lodging for to gain
His Royal Highness, he came down and viewed him cheek and chin
He said, 'You are a handsome man, of course I'll take you in...'

We'll go no more a roving, a roving in the night... Dawn joined in, clinking the spoons for percussion all the while.
We'll go no more a roving, let the moon shine so bright
We'll go no more a roving...


Estrella soared over the Psyduck blockade and down into the valley. [Well, that explains the blockade...] she noted as she flew down for Ash to get a lock.

Ash looked down to see a few mother Golduck holding yellow eggs with a Psyduck foot pattern on the shell. "No wonder the Psyduck wouldn't let anyone pass--they were protecting their babies!"

[Let's go back and report to the others!] Estrella suggested.

They arrived just as Brock started another verse of his epic ballad. The first night, it gave way to dawn, and Ariana fair
Was led out with a retinue towards the dragon lair
The fact her sister had returned, it gave her heart new hope
That the hero would return again, as she looked on the gentle slope...

We'll go no more a roving, a roving in the night... Dawn joined in another round of the chorus, still clinking the spoons with gusto.
We'll go no more a roving, let the moon shine so bright
We'll go no more a roving...

[Stop the song!] Estrella called, bringing the enthusiastic performance to a halt.

"Did you find out the reason for our Psyduck blockade?" Dawn asked.

"Yeah--the three Psyduck are just protecting their babies." Ash explained. "Let's find another way in, and I'll show you."


The group arrived in a clearing by a lake, just in time to see one of the yellow eggs crack. "It's hatching!" Dawn gasped, excited as the baby Psyduck worked itself free.

"My question is, if this lake is their home, then why are the Psyducks here, and not in the lake?" Brock wondered.

Ash saw three sludge glob-like Pokemon emerge from the water. "There's your answer--the lake was polluted by Muk!"

"Muk, the sludge Pokemon. A toxic fluid seeps from its body. The fluid instantly kills plants and trees on contact. Dawn's Pokedex explained.

Dawn looked up from the Pokedex to see a sludge pool near the lake. "There! That's where the Muk came from!"

Inspired, she heaved a Poke Ball skyward. "Satomi, drive these Muk away from the beautiful lake!

[Go on, shoo!] Satomi called, using a Psybeam to spur the Muk back towards the poison pool. [Don't ruin the lake for eveyone!]

Ash smiled as the Psyducks waddled back to the lake. "Well, our problem's solved..."

One Psyduck quacked happily at him. "You're welcome!" Ash smiled back as the group started down the road to Celestic Town in peace.

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 69: Playing the Leveling Field!

"Thank goodness those Psyducks are safe now..." Dawn smiled as the group made their way down the road a few days later.

"Yeah...here's hoping they get to raise their hatchlings in peace..." Ash agreed before a bright flash got his attention. "What was that?"

Dawn spotted Zoey and her Glameow Sylvie in a nearby field. "Zoey's here!"

Sylvie meowed in awe as a Mismagius fired off multiple rounds of Psybeam to mimic fireworks. "What's going on? Ash asked as the group joined Zoey in the field. "Are you battling?"

Zoey chuckled. "Friendly reminder--coordinators do not battle." she replied. "I was showing off appeals with someone."

"Zoey, your next appeal, please..." an older female voice with a melodic accent requested.

"Right!" Zoey replied. "Sylvie, try Shockwave!"

The other trainer applauded as the massive thunderbolts created a shining column of light. "Très bonne, très bonne! The shining column of light is a clever idea. But let me show you what you can do if you combine two moves."

The Mismagius next conjured some shining leaves, then fired a rainbow wave of energy, creating a whorl of rainbow leaves. "Wow!" Dawn gasped as the boys applauded the appeal.

"May I ask who your appeal partner is?" Ash asked.

At this, a purple haired woman in an elegant sparking star costume stepped before the group. "Everyone, this is Fantina." Zoey began. "In addition to being the Gym Leader of Hearthome City, she is a Divine Coordinator originally from Kalos. She won a lot of Grand Festivals there before coming here a few years ago."

"Interesting..." Ash mused. I wonder if Serena has ever met her, if Fantina's originally from Kalos?

"I came here because I wanted to see the world and better myself." Fantina explained. "Since I enjoy traveling, that unfortunately means I have to leave the Gym empty while I am away."

That explains why it's been empty every time we've come... Ash thought.

Brock, meanwhile, seemed enamored in Fantina being bilingual. Je m'appelle Brock--enchanté.

The group did not know that the admins were watching them from a bush. "Huh...never knew minstrel boy spoke Kalosian..." Mars mused as she watched Brock and Fantina have a polite conversation in Kalosian.

"Who knows how many more languages he can speak?" Jupiter agreed before changing the subject. "Fantina's job description reminds me of someone that I can't put my finger on...."

Mars looked down at the one ribbon in her ribbon case. "We need to figure out Fantina's style...this way, I can copy it to win Contests!"

"Great idea!" Jupiter grinned as the two admins made preparations for their latest plot.


In the nearby Pokémon Center Ash located Fantina in a lounge near the front desk. "Fantina...I have journeyed from afar to challenge you. When can I expect you at the gym next?"

Fantina was about to answer as Mars, in disguise as Marta, hurried up to Fantina. "Hi! I'm a big fan of yours, and I wanna know more about your role as a Gym Leader!"

Fantina just waved the disguised Mars away. "Très impoli to just barge in on someone like that..."

She smiled at Ash. "I accept your challenge, but before that, I need to train."

"If you don't mind my asking, why did you become a traveling Trainer?" Zoey asked.

"With a lot of hard work, I was able to win the Grand Festival in my homeland of Kalos with Sorcière, my Misdreavus, earning the title of Grand Coordinator." Fantina explained. "Some time after this, the Shinou League invited me to become a Gym Leader, and the Hearthome Gym was opened. Despite my best efforts, I felt that I wasn't giving the trainers I faced a good enough battle."

"I know exactly how that feels." Brock replied. "I was once the Gym Leader in my hometown of Pewter City. It's a bit of a balancing act between giving your opponents a challenge and giving them an easy win. You don't want to give them a total beatdown, but you do want to challenge them to think tactically."

T'as raison.. Fantina nodded in agreement. "A royal beatdown destroys any trainer's confidence, but an easy win feels hollow.

She turned business-like again. "I've been working on a new battle style which incorporates the beauty of a Contest appeal and the ferocity of a Gym battle. But it is still a work in progress..."

"So you'll give me a friendly match, at least?" Ash asked.

Fantina nodded. "One of the first things that traveling trainers do when they meet is battle. So of course I accept your friendly challenge."

"Okay...this will be a three on three match, winner is the first to knock out the other side's team. That okay?" Ash asked as he drew a Poke Ball in the grass.

"Your proposed terms are fair." Fantina replied.

Dawn arrived with her Poketch some moments later. "Arceus face is heads, Shinou League crest is tails--winner gets their choice of side."

"Heads." Fantina called as Dawn pressed the button to flip the coin.

"Tails!" Ash called the toss.

Dawn checked the Poketch's screen. "It's heads...Fantina, you want the Diamond or Pearl side?"

"Diamond, of course." Fantina smiled as she stepped into the left side of the Poke Ball.

"Everyone ready?" Brock asked as he stepped on a rock overlooking the makeshift battlefield, unaware Mars and Jupiter were filming the battle that was about to start.

"Prêté!" Fantina smiled, summoning a small purple balloon-like Pokemon with spindly arms.

"Tails, here we go!" Ash summoned his Floatzel to the field. He next read up on his opponent:

"Drifloon, the balloon Pokemon. Because of the way it floats aimlessly, an old folktale calls it a 'Signpost for Wandering Spirits.'"

When the whistle blew, the Drifloon began conjuring swaths of a purple wind. "Ominous Wind!" Ash remembered. "Tails, counter with Water Gun!"

Tails fired a stream of water, but the Drifloon floated away, allowing the purple wind to hit Tails. "Try to break out with Aqua Jet!" Ash suggested.

He smiled as Tails broke free from the Ominous Wind and rammed into the Drifloon. But his confident smile turned to shock as the Drifloon used Hypnosis! I shouldn't have left the Pokeflute back at the Pokemon Center!

The Drifloon then threw Tails at Ash's feet with Psychic. [I'm sorry, Ash...] was all Tails could muster before fainting.

Ash contemplated his next choice for a moment, then heaved a Poke Ball skyward. " Diddy, open with a Flamethrower!"

He watched in awe and fear as the Drifloon intercepted the stream of fire, tied it into a flaming bow, then tangled Diddy in his own attack before using Hypnosis. [Ash, I can't...] was all Diddy could say before falling asleep.

Dawn watched as Ash called Diddy back. "Good thinking on calling Diddy back--who knows what Fantina's gonna do next?"

"Keep in mind that unlike confusion, Pokémon continue to sleep even after they are recalled, okay?" Brock reminded Ash.

Ash swallowed hard as he nodded. I REALLY should've brought the Pokeflute!

He looked over at Tintri. "Your turn, bud--if you fall asleep too, then the battle is as good as done."

[I'll do my best, okay?] Tintri smiled before charging into the arena.

The Drifloon fired a Will-O-Wisp, but Tintri countered with a Thunderbolt. [For Tails and Diddy!] he screeched as he charged at the Drifloon in preparation to use Volt Tackle.

Dawn saw a glow of white as Volt Tackle and Ominous Wind collided, revealing that the Drifloon had evolved into a larger balloon Pokemon with gold and white streamers. "Wow...Fantina's Drifoon evolved?" she smiled as she read up on the new Pokemon:

""Drifblim, the blimp Pokemon. At dusk, swarms of them are carried aloft on the wind. When noticed, they suddenly vanish."

She gasped as the Drifblim put Tintri to sleep with Hypnosis. "Oh no!"

"I surrender!" Ash called, almost kowtowing before Fantina.

Brock blew his whistle to signal the battle was over. "No contest! Pearl withdraws from the match!"

Fantina smiled as she recalled her new Drifblim. "I look forward to having a real match when you get to the gym."

"Sure..." Ash sighed. If this was practice, that what will Fantina do in the Gym?


Back at the Pokémon Center, Zoey showed Dawn the three ribbons in her ribbon case. "I'm not planning on entering the Celestic Town Contest, but I will be there to cheer you on."

"Thanks...that means a lot to me." Dawn smiled.

She looked over at Ash's room. "Is Ash okay? He hasn't come out of his room all night."

From inside the room, both Dawn and Brock heard Ash musing ideas to counter Hypnosis. "Get a Pokemon with the Insomnia ability just for this match...give Chesto Berries to everyone....bring the Pokeflute..."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 70: Doc Brock

Ash thought long and hard about how to counter Fantina's Drifblim's Hypnosis. Vital Spirit is another ability that prevents sleep...Early Bird would wake them up sooner...

He rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he watched Dawn command Kori to use Icy Wind, creating shimmering diamonds in the sky. Intentionally inflicting another status on them would be too risky...

A static jolt snapped him to attention. "mmm...what?"

[Nodding off on the job?] Tintri asked. [Let's think about something besides how to counter sleep inducing moves for a while.]

"Good idea..." Ash agreed as he got up from the stump he had been sitting on and stretched.

Brock emerged from the cabin the group was staying in a few moments later. "Okay...I'm off to the store for more food and supplies. You guys want anything special?"

"Cheddar Party Cheez-fetti!" Ash requested.

"Chocolate Teddiursa Grahams!" Dawn requested. "My team loves those!"

"Okay, I'll get those, and maybe a few extra surprises if the Pokemon behave." Brock made a node on his list. "I've left the to-do list on the table for you guys--you don't have to do EVERYTHING on it, but try to get as much of it done as you can."

"Got it!" Ash smiled.

"All right--I've got my PokeNav if there's an emergency." Brock smiled before departing.

Ash waved goodbye as Brock disappeared down the road to town, then returned inside the house. "Let's see here...bathe the Pokemon..." he read from the list.

He peeked outside. "Okay, everyone! Bath time!"

The Pokemon cheered as they hurried inside the house. [I'm PAST ready to hit the shower!] Kori cried as she hurried to the bathroom.

Dawn arrived some moments later. "While you're busy bathing everyone, I can tackle a few other chores."

"Okay." Ash replied as he fine tuned the faucet so that the water was warm.


"Okay, everyone's clean, I cleaned up the bathroom..." Ash began some time later.

"I mopped the floors and vacuumed." Dawn reported before looking at the clock on the wall. "Who wants to help me make lunch?"

[I do!] Tintri volunteered as he bounded on the countertop. [What are we having?]

"I was thinking about trying the Pokemon-safe sesame Combusken recipe Brock taught me yesterday." Dawn replied after taking out some meat. "First we thaw the meat...and we can cook the rice and vegetables while we wait."


[Mm...that was great!] Stormy raved as Dawn loaded the plates in the dishwasher some time later.

[Top notch!] Tails agreed.

Ash was contemplating more ideas to counter sleep as the Pokemon hurried out to play. If Gaia has Worry Seed, that can become Insomnia...Electric Terrain nullifies sleep...Protect and Detect block sleep...

The remote dropping in his lap got his attention. "TV?" Dawn smiled as she joined him on the couch. "We've worked hard, and earned ourselves a break."

"Good idea." Ash agreed, forgetting about sleep ideas entirely as he started flipping through the channels. "Let's see here...'Battle Braviaries'...'The Adventures of the Heart Archers'...'Solar Riders'..."

Tintri burst into the room, getting Ash's attention, [Something's wrong with Stormy!]

Ash and Dawn hurried outside to find Stormy moaning in pain on the grass. "She's hotter than normal..." Dawn noted as she felt around Stormy's head. "Is there a Pokemon Center anywhere?"

"The closest one's five miles away..." Ash remembered as Dawn led Stormy in the house to rest. "Should I buzz Brock and tell him what's going on?"

"It doesn't seem life threatening, so let's see what we can do ourselves before we do that." Dawn suggested.

Ash heaved a Poke Ball skyward. "Estrella, go find Brock!"

"Lola, Tarina--can I trust you two to make some ice to help bring Stormy's fever down?" Dawn asked as she prepared some plastic bags.

[Leave it to us!] Tarina smiled as Lola fired a tiny Ice Beam at some water, creating an ice cube.

"While they're doing that, we can go find some Oran Berries--those are known to be a home remedy for fevers." Ash suggested.

"Where?" Dawn asked. "I didn't see any around here earlier today."

"I know I saw some in this area--let's go look." With that, he motioned for Dawn to follow him outside...


Meanwhile, Brock made his way down the cereal aisle, savoring the bustling shoppers around him and the elevator music coming from the PA system. I can cross Starlite Crunch off the list... he thought as he set a cereal box in the cart.

He smiled as he spotted the candy aisle a few aisles away. Memo to self: bring the Pokemon a treat if they are being good. he thought as he looked over his list again. All that's left is the meat, a few cans of veggies, and Ash's and Dawn's requests.


As Brock departed the store with the groceries some time later, he balked to find Estrella flying down to meet him. "Estrella? What's the matter?"

[Something's wrong with Stormy!] Estrella explained. [Ash and Dawn have tried everything to help her, but she's still got a fever!]

Brock climbed aboard Estrella with the groceries in tow. "Let's go."

After an uneventful flight home, Brock left the groceries with his team before hurrying inside the house, where Dawn was trying to get Stormy to eat a Lum Berry.

A spark clued him in to what was wrong. "Here, Stormy..." he smiled, offering the Pachirisu an Oran Berry with medicine inside.

[Thanks!] Stormy smiled as she snapped up the Oran Berry.

Dawn smiled when she saw Stormy's color returning to normal. "Thank Arceus Estrella got you here in time..."

"We didn't think to call you before because we thought it was just a routine cold." Ash explained.

"Remember when Tintri used to always get fevers from voltage overloads?" Brock reminded Ash. "This was what happened here."

"Oh, so it was one of those..." Ash remembered. "If I'd have known that, I would've given her some Sparkeez..."

"First rule of first aid--always remain calm." Brock explained. "Second rule--establish what the problem is before you attempt treatment."

"Corollary to the above--know when to call in the experts." Ash remembered.

"That's right." Brock smiled. "I applaud your efforts in trying to help Stormy, though--you two just went about it the wrong way."

"I wasn't thinking straight in the heat of the moment..." Ash confessed.

"...and I was so worried I was doing anything to help Stormy without figuring out what the problem was." Dawn sighed.

"We tried looking for Oran Berries and didn't find any...so where did you get the ones you have?" Ash asked.

"They are here in the fens near the house--did you two go anywhere near there?" Brock asked.

"No..." Dawn replied. "We figured the fens would be too wet for anything besides mushrooms."

"Oran Berries thrive in wet and warm areas, so they tend to grow around marches, ponds, lakes, and fens." Brock explained.

He brought in the groceries, then went on. "In case this ever happens again, I can teach you what I know of first aid for both humans and Pokemon. Granted, I am no medical expert, but I know enough to handle most any situation that can come up on the road. This way, you'll know what to do if a Pokemon Center's too far away or I can't be there."

"Sure!" Dawn smiled.

"Besides, when the going gets tough, that's when the Pokemon need you most." Ash agreed.

Stormy noticed the sun setting. [Can I help with dinner? I'm starved!]

"Of course." Brock smiled before motioning for Stormy to follow him. "Come on in the kitchen, and we'll get dinner going."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 71a: Appealing Through the Generation Gap! (part 1)

"So you're here for another Contest?" the image of Joanna asked Dawn.

Dawn nodded. "That, and Brock has a Fantasy Stage, as well."

"Have I ever told you about my friendly rivalry with Lilla before?" Joanna asks. "Your friendly rivalry with Zoey reminds me of that."

"You've told me about a lot of coordinators you've worked with, but I don't think I have heard about Lila..." Dawn replied.

"Well, a long time ago-before you came along--we were competing on the Celestic stage." Joanna began. "It was the final turn in the Appeal Competition, and Lila and I were neck and neck in the scoring..."


In Joanna's memory, a younger Joanna stepped onto the stage with a familiar Glameow. "Opal, use Iron Tail!"

The crowd roared at the bevy of silver flashes the Glameow's tail created, making six hearts appear under Joanna's picture and making the excitement meter reach stage four.

A purple haired woman in an exotic Chinese-esque costume arrived on the stage with her Delcatty. "Kounna, use Shockwave!"

The crowd roared as the electrical fireworks maxed out the excitement meter. "The winner, with her famous 'Tiger Lily' smile, is number C-41100088-- Lila Maeda and Kounna!"

Joanna and Lila met each other on the stage. "Well done." Joanna smiled as the two coordinators shook hands...


"...Up to that point, I had never lost a Contest before--Lila was the one to break my winning streak." Joanna concluded the story some time later.

"Come to think of it, didn't she step down to focus on a career in fashion?" Dawn asked.

"You're right!" Joanna smiled as she thumbed through the current issue of Poke Chic. "She and Kounna have made a name for themselves working for the brand Prism Stardust. I stepped down from coordinating before I could have a rematch with Lila, but I have no regrets about that one loss. Lila was clearly the better of us that day, and I've long since made peace with that."

Brock thought for a moment. "Isn't there a Prism Stardust shop located here in town?"

"There is, actually." Joanna replied. "I don't believe she has met you, Dawn, but I have told her about you."

"You think we could come over there?" Dawn gasped. "So we can finally meet face to face?"

"I don't see why not." Joanna smiled. "She's always wanted to meet you."

"If I get to meet her, I'll tell her you said hello." Dawn smiled. "I love you."

"I love you too, Dawn--good luck to you and Brock too." With that, the call ended.

Dawn got up from the phone to find Ash walking in a completely different direction from her and Brock. "Um, aren't you coming with us?"

"I'm gonna take a stroll around town before the Contest and the Fantasy Stage start." Ash replied. "That, and plan on how I can see both of you at once."

Brock looked at the schedule of events on a bulletin board, then his Fantasy Stage entry token. "You can catch the parade of coordinators before bailing out to see me tell, and by the time I finish 'Moltres and the Miracle Tree', it should be time for the Appeal competition."

"That works." Ash smiled. "You're not mad if I miss the Visual and the Dance competitions?" he asked Dawn.

"I won't mind." Dawn replied before starting towards the Pokemon Center lobby. "We'll meet back at the Contest Hall in an hour, okay?"

"Got it!" Ash replied before the group went their separate ways.


"It's very fitting you're telling a Moltres story for the Fantasy Stage..." Dawn smiled as she, Brock, and Kori strolled through Celestic Town's shopping district.

"After your win in the Wallace Cup, I felt a Moltres tale was appropriate because it felt like you were Moltres rising anew from the ashes of your struggles." Brock explained.

Dawn smiled "Thanks--I'll do my best to keep the fire burning in today's Contest!"

She noted a familiar logo in 80's-esque text that evoked glass on a building. "This is it..."

"Wow..." Brock gasped as the bells at the entryway jingled. "This is nice..." he smiled, admiring a regal green costume with leaf trim.

Dawn gasped when she recognized a sparkling teal and white costume. "This is Pale Moonlight--what Wallace wore for the Coordinator's Carnivale last year."

"Interesting." Brock smiled. "Go on and see if Lila's here, I'm gonna look around for a bit."

Dawn hurried over to the checkout lane. "Excuse me--is Lila there today?"

"I'm sorry, Lila is out for the day." the woman at the counter replied. "I can leave a message for her if you'd like."

"Okay..." Dawn began. "I am Dawn Solberg, daughter of the Divine Coordinator Joanna Solberg. My mother told Lila much about me, but I have never met her face to face..."


"Welcome, coordinators and fans, to the Celestic Contest!" Marian announced. "Let us give a warm welcome to our three judges--Keira, Dexter, and Jordan!"

Cheers went up as the three judges arrived, Jordan even flashing Ash a little grin. "The winner of today's Contest will get this lovely blue and white ribbon..." Marian went on, holding up the ribbon for the crowd to see.

In the dressing rooms, Dawn emerged in a lovely silver and white outfit. "Erggh...why won't this braid wrap around to make a crown?" she muttered as she tried to tie two braids into a circle shape.

A familiar purple haired woman noticed Dawn struggling. "Here, sweetheart...let me help you tie this into a crown."

After carefully looping around the two braids and securing it with a pin, the woman offered Dawn a mirror. "There we are! A braid crown fit for a princess!"

"Thank you, miss..." Dawn started before she recognized the woman. "Lila?"

The woman smiled. "So this is the famous Dawn Joanna always told me about! I never got the chance to meet you, but Joanna always spoke highly of you."

"Likewise, Mom's told me a lot about you." Dawn replied. "Are you competing in the Contest too?"

Lila nodded. "I wanted to enter as soon as I saw your name in the list of contestants. I can't wait to see what Joanna has taught you!"


A majestic melody filled the air, signaling it was time for the parade of coordinators. "Entrant number C-30865860; Lila Maeda and Cerise!" Marian announced as Lila emerged from the tunnel with a pink flower-like Pokemon. "Famously known as 'The Tiger Lily of Celestic Town' Lila is making her Contest comeback after 20 years!"

[Wow, that's a long time!] Tarina was impressed.

"Well, she stepped down to run one of the brands, remember?" Ash reminded Tarina as he analyzed the flower Pokemon:

"Cherrim, the blossom Pokemon. If it senses strong sunlight, it opens its folded petals to absorb the sun's rays with its whole body."

[Pretty!] Tintri smiled.

"Entrant number C-98240055; Dawn Solberg and Lola!" Marian announced as Dawn emerged from the entry tunnel with Lola. "Daughter of Divine Coordinator Joanna Solberg, Dawn has quickly made a name for herself despite some initial struggles. She is wearing Diamond Lady, by Notte Royal."

Ash motioned for Tintri and Tarina to follow him to the exit. "Come on, you two--if we time this right, the Fantasy Stage will be over in time for us to catch the Appeal competition. This way, we can cheer for both Brock and Dawn at the same time."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: A Fairy Tale Rising

[We made it...] Tarina wheezed as the group arrived in the town square. A stage had been set up for the tellers to perform on a hill overlooking the square.

[Just in time too--Brock's about to tell!] Tintri agreed as he spotted Brock making his way to the stage.

Number K-42207, telling 'Moltres and the Miracle Tree'. an announcer informed the crowd, hushing the excited chatter.

A blue flash at stage right signaled Brock he was clear to begin. "In a certain far-away kingdom, there lived a king that was well loved and well liked among his people." Brock began his tale. "He had three sons--the eldest was named Dimitri, the second was named Aleron, and the youngest was named Brian." he explained over a relaxed melody from the guitar.

Then he paused, as if he remembered something. "Now, the king had a walled garden, so rich and beautiful that in nowhere in the world was there a more splendid one. Many rare trees grew in it whose Berries were precious jewels, and the rarest of all was an Leppa tree whose Leppa Berries were of pure crystal, and this the king loved best of all."

Brock's voice quieted the amazed chatter. "One day he saw that one of the crystal Leppa Berries was missing. He placed guards at all the gates of the garden; but in spite of this, one more crystal Leppa Berry was gone every morning. Eventually he posted guards all around the garden to keep watch, and the guard reported to him that every night there came flying into the garden a bird that shone like Ho'oh, whose feathers were a fiery red and gold and its eyes like crystal, which perched on the Leppa tree, picked a crystal Leppa Berry, and flew away."

After setting his guitar aside, Brock got up and walked around his chair on the stage, talking all the while. "The king, recognizing that the thief was the Herald of Fire, Moltres, was greatly angered, and calling to him his two eldest sons, said..."

"My dear children, I have thought long and hard about which of you will inherit my kingdom and reign after me. Whoever can catch the flaming bird Moltres, and brings her to me alive, I will give half the kingdom, and he will rule after me when I have joined Arceus in heaven." he explained to an imagined person as the king.

As himself, Brock continued "The two sons, upon hearing this command, rejoiced, and both of them vowed to bring their father Moltres alive. Prince Dimitri and Prince Aleron then flipped a coin to see who would go first, and the coin's favor fell to the eldest, Prince Dimitri."

The lights on the stage dimmed to mimic nighttime. "That evening he went into the garden to keep watch." Brock continued as he returned to his chair and waiting guitar. "He sat down under the Leppa tree and watched carefully for the first part of the night, but when midnight came, he fell asleep."

Giggles rippled through the air as Brock played a few bars of Brahms' Lullaby to represent Prince Dimitri falling asleep. "In the morning, the king summoned him and said..."

"Well, my son, did you see Moltres?" he asked as the king.

"No, father; I did not see her." he sighed in a younger version of himself for Prince Dimitri.

As himself, Brock continued "The king, however, went to the garden and counted the Leppa Berries, and saw that yet another had been stolen."

He played a quiet interlude, then continued "The next evening Prince Aleron went into the garden to keep watch. He too fell asleep at midnight, and the next morning when his father summoned him, he, like his brother, answered..."

"I watched all night, but Moltres did not enter your garden." he explained in a mimic of a proud boy for Prince Aleron.

He intoned as himself "But when the king counted them, he saw that another crystal Leppa Berry was missing."

Nervous giggles went up at this. "On the third evening his youngest son, Brian, asked permission to keep watch in the garden, but his father initially refused." Brock explained.

"How can you succeed where your brothers failed?" he asked as the king.

He assured the crowd as himself "But Brian continued to plead until the king relented."

The lights dimmed to represent night again. "So Brian took his place in the garden, and sat down to watch under the miracle tree." Brock narrated. "He watched for an hour, then two hours, and then three hours. When midnight came, sleep almost overcame him, but he had positioned his sword to poke him just hard enough to wake him beforehand."

Just then, a red-gold light at stage right spurred excited whispers in the crowd. "At midnight, the garden glowed with the light of many fires, and Moltres came flying on her fiery wings to land on the lowest branch of the Leppa Berry tree." Brock narrated. "Brian quietly approached, and as she was about to pick a crystal Leppa Berry, he managed to grab her tail. Moltres, being much stronger than a human, tore herself loose and flew away, leaving in his hand a single long feather. Brian wrapped this in a handkerchief, lay down, and went to sleep."

The lights brightened to mimic morning. "In the morning the king summoned him and said..." Brock narrated.

"Well, my son, did you see Moltres?" he asks as the king.

As himself, Brock continued "Brian unrolled the handkerchief, and the feather shone so much, it turned the dark throne room to day. The king could not get enough of it--when it was brought into a darkened room it gleamed as if a million lights had been lit. He put it into his royal treasury as one of his many treasures, and posted many guards in the garden hoping to capture Moltres, but she came no more. The king, greatly desiring Moltres, sent for his two eldest sons, and said..."

"You, my sons, failed even to see the thief of my Leppa Berries, but your brother Brian, has at least brought me one of her feathers. Go forth, with my blessing, and ride in search of her, and the one who brings her to me alive will receive half of my kingdom." he told an imagined person as the king.

He continued as himself over an adventurous interlude "Dimitri and Aleron, jealous of their younger brother Brian, rejoiced that their father did not bid him to go, and mounting their swift horses, rode away in search of Moltres. They rode for three days--exactly how far, I don't know--but eventually they came to a plain where the road split into three paths. A great stone stood at the fork, with this message carved on it..."

He then played a tense D minor chord. "Who rides forward will know both hunger and cold. Who rides to the right will live, though his steed will die. Who rides to the left will die, though his steed will live."

As himself, he continued over a quiet interlude "They were unsure what to do, since none of the three roads bode well, and turning into a forest, made camp, where they rested."

Intrigued murmurs went up from the crowd. "When days had passed and they did not return, Brian asked his father to give him his blessing and permission to search for Moltres." Brock continued. "The king refused to let him go at first..."

"My dear son, I fear the Mightyenas will devour you. You are still young, and not used to a long journey. If I die and you too are gone, who will remain to keep order in my kingdom? Rebellion may arise and there will be none to quell it, or an enemy may cross our borders and there will be none to command our troops. So please, do not leave me!" he pleaded as the king.

As himself, Brock then assured the crowd "In spite of all this, however, Brian would not stop pleading, and eventually his father relented. He got his father's blessing, chose a fine Ponyta, and rode away to Arceus knew where."

Ash couldn't resist clapping along to the song that symbolized Brian traveling. "Three days he rode, till he came to the plain with the fork." Brock went on. "He read the words carved on the great stone that stood there. He thought, "I shouldn't take the left road, for on that road I will die. Nor should I take the middle road of hunger and cold. I will take the right-hand road, where I will keep my life, even though my poor Ponyta will perish." So he rode to the right.

He sighed--good people and Pokemon dying were some of his least favorite parts to tell. "He rode for one day, then two days, and then three days, enough that the poor Ponyta died of exhaustion."

[Poor Ponyta...] Tarina commented over the sniffling crowd.

"On the morning of the fourth day, as he walked through a forest, he saw a Lucario fainting from hunger." Brock narrated over a mysterious motif. "Remembering his fallen Ponyta, he gave the Lucario some of its meat, so it too would not perish."

"You are a brave lad, Brian, and my heart aches for you." he told an imagined person in an older female voice with a slight lilt for the Lucario "I may have eaten your Ponyta out of survival, but as you did a good deed for me, now I will do something good for you in return. Climb on my back, and tell me where you wish to go."

"Take me to Moltres, who stole my father's crystal Leppa Berries." he requested in a mimic of Ash as Prince Brian.

Tintri smiled [No matter how many times Brock mimics you Ash, that never gets old.]

"I'm still amazed he learned my voice after only hearing me once..." Ash replied before turning his attention back to the stage.

"With that, the Lucario sped away, running faster than any mortal Rapidash." Brock narrated, playing a "running" motif as the lights dim to simulate nighttime. "At midnight, he stopped at a stone wall."

"Climb over this wall. On the other side is a garden, and in the garden is an iron railing, and behind the railing three cages are hung, one of gold, one of silver, and one of crystal." he explained in character as the Lucario. "In the gold cage is a Murkrow, in the silver one is a Fletchling, and in the crystal cage is Moltres. Open the door of the crystal cage, carefully take out Moltres, and put her in your bag. But whatever you do, do not take the crystal cage; If you do, great misfortune will follow."

"Brian climbed the wall, entered the iron railing, and found the three cages as the Lucario had said. Brock narrated as himself. "He took out Moltres and carefully placed her in his bag. However, one of the bag's straps caught on the crystal cage, making a clear ringing that resounded through the garden." He plays a harmonic D note for effect. "This woke the guards, and they captured Brian. In the morning they brought him before their king, the King of Fire."

"Who are you, and where do you come from?" he asked in a regal voice for the King of Fire. "Whose son are you, and what is your name?"

"I am Prince Brian of the hill kingdom." he replied in character. "Your Moltres entered my father's garden by night and stole many crystal Leppa Berries from his favorite tree. My father the king sent me to find and bring him the thief."

"How will I know that you speak the truth?" he asked as the King of Fire again. "Had you asked me first, I would have given you Moltres with all the honor due her. But instead you act as a thief without honor. However, I am a just king, and I will forgive you if you will do me a favor. Across twenty lands lies the Kingdom of the Mist. If you will ride to him and win for me from him the Legendary shining steed Epona, which his father promised me, I will give Moltres to you, and forget this ever happened."

As himself, Brock continued over a sad melody. "Brian left the Kingdom of Fire in tears. He found the Lucario and told him everything."

He assured the audience as the Lucario "Cry not, Brian. How was I to know an accident would occur? But as you have confessed the wrong you have done and wish to set things right again, climb on my back, and tell me where you wish to go."

"Take me across twenty countries to the Kingdom of the Mist, where the Legendary steed Epona is." he requested in character as Prince Brian.

"And so the Lucario ran, fifty times faster than a mortal Rapidash." Brock narrated as he played the "running" motif again. "Whether it was a long way or a short way, I don't know, but around midnight they came to the palace of the King of the Mist, and stopped beside the royal stables, which were all built of marble."

"The stablemen are all fast asleep, and you may take Epona." he explained as the Lucario. "Be careful not to touch the golden bridle that hangs beside her. If you do, something terrible will happen."

As himself, Brock continued "Brian opened the door of the stables and there he saw Epona, whose shining fire and blue flames lit the entire stable. But as he was leading her out his lead rope accidentally brushed against the bridle, and it too rang with a single clear note."

He played another harmonic D note. "This noise, of course, startled Epona..."

The audience roared with laughter as a sound effect of a Ponyta whinny played over the speakers. "The racket awakened the guards, who captured Brian." Brock continued once the laughter died down. "In the morning they led him before the King of the Mist."

"You are too good a young man to be a Ponyta thief." he began, using a gentler voice for the King of the Mist. "Tell me where you come from, who is your father, and what is your name."

"I come from the kingdom on the hill." he explained as Prince Brian. "I am that king's son, and my name is Brian. The King of Fire gave me the task of bringing him Epona, which your father promised him and which is his by right."

"Had you told me you came on the Fire King's behalf in the first place, I would have given you Epona with all due honor, and you would not have needed to take her from me by thievery." he replied as the King of the Mist. "However, Brian, I will forgive you and forget this whole affair if you will do something for me. Ride over thirty lands to the Kingdom of Light, whose princess is known as Marla, the star of the sea, and bring her to me as my bride. I have loved her for a long time with all my heart, and yet cannot win her. Do this and I will forgive you and give you Epona."

As himself, he narrated over a sad interlude. "Brian left the Mist Palace crying many tears, and told the Lucario all that had happened."

"Dry your tears--I know you did not intend for this to happen, but it did, and so we must make things right again." he assured the audience as the Lucario. "Now, climb on my back and tell me where you wish to go."

"Take me across thirty lands to the princess who is named Marla." he requested in character as Prince Brian again.

[I hope he listens this time...] Tarina grumbled over the guitar's interlude.

"The Lucario began running, a hundred times faster than any Rapidash, and faster than one can tell in a tale, until he came to the Kingdom of Light." Brock continued over his "running" motif. "He stopped at a golden railing surrounding a lovely garden."

"Go back along the road we came, and wait for me in the open field under the sycamore tree." he instructed as the Lucario.

"So Brian did as he was told." he narrated as himself.

The lights dimmed a little to represent evening. "Toward evening, when the sun was low and its rays were no longer hot, the king's daughter, Marla, went into the garden to walk with her ladies." Brock narrated over a quiet interlude. "When she approached, the Lucario met them in the garden and told Marla all manner of wonderful things about the suitor that was his master. After discussing the matter with her ladies, Marla agreed to come with the Lucario. He led her to the open field, to the green oak tree where Brian was waiting, and introduced her to him. Marla had been unnerved, but she found no reason to fear the young man before her."

"Climb aboard, both of you." he instructed as the Lucario.

"Brian climbed on the Lucario's back, with Marla holding onto him, and Lucario ran faster than fifty Rapidashes, across thirty countries, back to the Kingdom of the Mist." Brock continued over a traveling motif. "As he kept looking back to be sure Princess Marla was holding onto him securely, Prince Brian began to love her with all his heart, and Princess Marla loved him in return, so that when the Lucario came to the Kingdom of the Mist, Brian began to cry."

"What's the matter, milord?" he asked as the Lucario.

"How can I not cry when I myself have begun to love Princess Marla, yet now I must give her up to the King of the Mist for Epona?" he sighed as Prince Brian.

"I have taken you this far, Brian, and I will not give up on you now." he smiled as the Lucario. "Listen closely. When we approach the palace, I will transform myself into an exact copy of Princess Marla, and you are to lead me to the King of the Mist and receive Epona in return. Once you have Epona, mount her and ride far away. I will catch up with you momentarily."

"With that, the Lucario cast a spell of transformation..." Brock narrated as himself.

The town square gasped in awe as Brock sang in character Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul..., making Ash's Mega Ring glow in response.

"...and transformed into an exact copy of Princess Marla; so alike that not even an archsage's eye could tell them apart." Brock continued. "After instructing the real Marla to wait for him outside the walls, Brian led the Lucario into the palace to the King of the Mist. The king, thinking he had won the treasure he had so long desired as his wife, was very joyful, and gladly gave Brian Epona and his freedom. Once Brian had Epona, he rode outside the walls to the real Princess Marla, had her mount behind him on the saddle and set out across twenty countries back to the Kingdom of Fire."

After playing a traveling interlude, he went on "It was not long before the Lucario, now in his true form, caught up to them."

"Climb aboard, Brian, and let Princess Marla ride Epona." he instructed as the Lucario.

"So Brian mounted the Lucario, and Princess Marla rode on Epona, and they went on together to the Kingdom of Fire." Brock continued as himself over his interlude. "Whether the way was a long one or a short one, I don't know, but eventually they approached the Fire Palace. Then Brian, getting down from the Lucario's back, said..."

"If you can transform into Princess Marla, could you maybe transform into Epona too? She is a fine steed, and I shudder to know what the King of Fire has in store for her." he explained as Prince Brian.

"So the Lucario cast another spell of transformation..." he narrated as himself for a moment. before singing Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... as the Lucario again.

"...and transformed into an exact copy of Epona; so alike even a trained archsage could not tell them apart." he smiled as himself. "After leaving Princess Marla on the green with the real Epona, Brian mounted the disguised Lucario and rode to the palace gate. Once Moltres was in his care, they started off for home, and the Lucario caught up to them some moments later."

"Climb on my back and let Princess Marla ride Epona." he instructs as the Lucario again.

"So Brian mounted the Lucario and Princess Marla rode Epona, and eventually they came to the forest where Brian and the Lucario had met." Brock narrated as himself as his "traveling" interlude slowed down.

"Here we will part for now, but I'm sure we will meet again." he assured the audience as the Lucario.

[Aw...] Tarina smiled.

The crowd agreed, and more "Aw"s went up as Brock continued "Brian got down from the Lucario's back, said a tearful farewell to his friend, and the Lucario leaped into a thicket and disappeared. Brian mounted Epona, Marla climbed on behind him, and she held in her hands the golden cage that housed Moltres, and they set off for the royal city. They rode three days, until they came to the plain with the three way fork and the great stone. Being very tired, the party decided to rest for a while. Brian tied Epona to the stone, and lying lovingly side by side on the soft grass, they went to sleep."

He intoned over an ominous chord "Brian did not, however, expect his jealous brothers to ambush him, throw him into a deep pit, and take his treasures as he slept."

"WHAAAAAATTTT?" the crowd gasped.

"The king rejoiced greatly to see them. He gave Prince Dimitri half of his kingdom, and held a festival which lasted a whole month. At the end of the month Prince Aleron was to wed Princess Marla." Brock explained as the chatter quieted.

His song turned hopeful as he assured the crowd "As for Brian, he spent two days in the deep pit, calling fruitlessly for help all the while. On the third day, the Lucario happened to pass that way. He knew immediately that the voice coming from the pit was that of Prince Brian. After levitating Brian onto safe ground and looking him over for any injury, the Lucario told Brian..."

"Listen closely--your brothers ambushed you as you slept, threw you in that pit to die, and took away with them Princess Marla, Epona, and Moltres." he explains as the Lucario. "Hurry and climb on my back, for your brother Prince Aleron is to wed your beloved Marla today."

Brock next started another "running" interlude. "Brian hurried aboard, and the Lucario began running, swifter than a hundred Rapidashes, toward the royal palace. Whether the way was long or short, I don't know, but he soon came to the city, and there at the gate the Lucario stopped."

"We must part for now, but I am forever your ally, and will come to you if you need my help." he assured us as the Lucario.

Tarina swallowed hard as Brock continued "Brian got down, and after bidding the Lucario a tearful farewell, entered the city and went immediately to the palace, where Prince Aleron was even then being wed to Princess Marla. He entered the splendid foyer and came to the banquet hall, and as soon as Princess Marla saw him, she got up from the table and kissed him on the cheek."

"Aw"s went up as the audience pictured the romantic scene in their minds. "This is my beloved, Brian, who rightfully deserves to wed me, and not this wicked one who sits with me at the table!" he called in a young female voice for Princess Marla.

"The king was confused, and asked Princess Marla to tell him more." Brock explained as himself. "Princess Marla told him everything--how Brian had won her, Epona and Moltres, and how his two elder brothers had ambushed him as he slept and thrown him in a deep pit to die."

He started a victorious song as he went on "When he heard the truth, the king flew into a great rage. He ordered that Prince Dimitri and Prince Aleron be thrown into the dungeon, and Brian, that same day, was wed to the lovely Marla. The king proclaimed a great festival, which lasted until there was no one hungry or thirsty in the kingdom. There were games, competitions, and performances of every stripe, and the kingdom rang with the minstrel's songs in honor of Prince Brian and Marla."

He concluded "When the festivities finally ended, Prince Dimitri was made a servant and Prince Aleron a stable boy, but Brian lived always with his beloved Marla in such harmony and love that neither of them could bear to be without the other even for a week. He went on many more adventures with his friend the Lucario as well, but that is another story for another day!"

The town square exploded in applause as Brock took a bow. [Amazing, as always!] Tarina raved as she applauded.

"Now that Brock's told, let's get back to the Contest Hall." Ash motioned for Tintri and Tarina to follow him. "The Appeal competition should be starting soon."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 71b: Appealing Through the Generation Gap! (part 2)

Applause filled the Contest Hall as Ash, Tintri, and Tarina returned to the Contest Hall. "Perfect timing--the Appeal competition's about to start!" Ash smiled as he found three empty seats near the front.

He looked at the lineup of coordinators. "It seems Lila is up first, and then Dawn follows her this round."

Lila approached the platform some moments later, prompting the crowd to quiet down. "Cerise, start with Sunny Day!"

Dawn watched as Cerise fired a ray of light into the sky, creating an array of sunbeams for the crowd. Ash says that Sunny Day combines with most any Fire move and a few Grass moves.

She smiled when she saw one particular move on Lola's move list in the Pokedex. Now's my chance for a big combo!

Entrant number C-98240055; Dawn Solberg and Lola. an announcer told the crowd as Dawn and Lola made their way onstage. First appeal!

"Lola, try Fire Punch!" Dawn commanded.

The crowd roared in awe as Lola's fiery fists turned a bright gold, creating a sparkling explosion in the sunlight. "Wow! With that display of power, Dawn rockets into the lead with an amazing combo!" Marian commented as hearts kept appearing under Dawn's picture.

[Just how many hearts did she get?] Tarina gasped, amazed by the three rows of four hearts under Dawn's picture.

"Four hearts times three rows equals twelve hearts." Ash explained. "Fire Punch starts with four hearts, plus another four for combining with Sunny Day, and then another four because the excitement meter is at stage 2."

[Oh!] Tarina smiled as Dawn's picture appeared at the top of the current standings. [That makes sense!]

[It's only Round 1, so a lot can happen in four more rounds.] Tintri reminded Tarina as the next coordinator came to take their turn...


"Okay---the excitement meter was maxed out, so now it starts back at zero again." Ash explained to Tarina as Lila arrived to make her second appeal.

"Cerise, try Energy Ball!" Lila commanded.

Applause filled the room as the sparkling green ball shimmered in the stage lights. [Pretty!] Tintri smiled as five hearts appeared under Lila's picture.

Dawn came on the stage next. "Lola use Charm!"

Laughter and "aw"s filled the room as Lola struck cute pose after cute pose. [You'd think that would intimidate Cerise...] Tarina mused as two hearts appeared under Dawn's picture.

"Well, Energy Ball is a Beautiful move." Ash explained. "Had Cerise also used a Cute move, then Dawn would intimidate her. But I think she's keeping an eye on the excitement meter more..."

[How do you know all this contest information?] Tintri wondered.

"My Pokedex has contest mode too, so I thought I'd read up on different moves' Contest effects in case Dawn ever needs help planning appeals." Ash explained.


"Cerise, use Growth!" Lila commanded.

Dawn smiled as Cerise fired a sparkling green beam skyward, exciting the crowd. Here's my chance! Growth can combine with any Grass move...and Lola can use Grass Knot...

She smiled as she returned to the stage. "Lola, try Grass Knot!"

"Wow!" Even Ash was impressed as Lola conjured a shining vine, which climbed towards the ceiling, maxing out the excitement meter.

[Great choice!] Tintri agreed as twelve rainbow hearts appeared under Dawn's picture and the towering shining vine produced a sparkling gold flower.

"And Dawn further extends her lead going into the fourth round!" Marian reported. "But Lila is not far behind!"


"Okay...Dawn is up first this round, and Lila follows her." Ash explained as Dawn and Lola arrived for their fourth appeal.

"All right...Lola, use Hidden Power!" Dawn called.

Some applause filled the air as Lola created some flaming fireworks. [Cool!] Tarina raved as four hearts appeared under Dawn's picture.

"There's a little bit of math involved, but there is a way to guess what type your Hidden Power is." Ash explained. "The best part? Dawn could use that move again and again, and it wouldn't bore the audience."

Onstage, Lila called "Cerise, use Dazzling Gleam!"

[Bright!] Tintri yelped as many in the crowd shielded their eyes from the shower of rainbow flashes.

"Nice choice...that is a very appealing move." Ash mused as six hearts appeared under Lila's picture.

"And Lila just barely edges Dawn going into the final round!" Marian reported. "Which coordinator will come out on top? Can daughter prevail over her mother's rival, and win the one ribbon she could not?"


"Cerise, let's finish with Razor Leaf!" Lila called.

Ash watched the crowd roar over the whorl of razor sharp leaves. "Be thankful no one used Growth before her--then Dawn would have no chance of recovery. He let that hang as seven hearts appeared under Lila's picture. "If Dawn can max out the meter for a big finish, she may be able to win."

The boy, the Pikachu, and the Pichu watched Dawn and Lola return to the stage one last time. "Okay, Lola--make a Healing Wish!" Dawn called.

The crowd roared as Lola created a huge burst of rainbow sparkling lights that rained down onto the audience. [She did it!] Tarina squeaked as sixteen rainbow hearts appeared under Dawn's picture.

"With a commanding finish, the winner is entrant number C-98240055; Dawn Solberg and Lola!" Marian announced, to the roar of the crowd as Dawn approached the judge's table to accept the ribbon from Keira...


"Well done, Dawn." Lila smiled as the group returned to the Prism Stardust shop later that evening. "As a reward for your fine performance, you three are welcome to have one coord of your choice for free."

"Wow, thanks!" Ash smiled.

"Yes, thank you." Brock agreed as he pocketed the emerald he had won in his Fantasy Stage bag.

"Thanks..." Dawn smiled. "You're not mad you lost?"

"Oh no...I should actually be thanking you." Lila confessed. "Thank you for letting me experience an excitement I have not felt in a long time. Joanna has taught you well."

"The pleasure's all mine." Dawn replied. "I promise I will keep training and getting stronger--for you, and for Mom."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 72a: Losing its Lustrous! (part 1)

"Well done on your third ribbon, Dawn." Brock smiled as the group prepared to leave the Celestic Town Pokémon Center. "The fact it was the one ribbon your mom couldn't win should make it all the more sweeter."

"Likewise, well done on reaching halfway on your rainbow." Dawn smiled. "Only blue, indigo, and purple to go, right?"

Brock nodded. "Then from there, it's on to the Grand Fantasy Stage during the Pokemon League."

The sound of a Pokeflute playing an upbeat flourish, followed by a flash of rainbow thunderbolts, snapped both Brock and Dawn to attention. "What was that?" Dawn asked.

"An idea to counter Fantina's Hypnosis based on your appeals and Brock's performance in the Fantasy Stage yesterday." Ash explained, fingering his instrument all the while. "Musically commanding the Pokemon! So long as I can keep a tune going, the Pokemon can't go to sleep if they keep hearing the Pokeflute. So after assigning each of my team's known moves to a little melody, I then taught them which little song meant what move."

"That's actually very clever!" Brock smiled. "It looks like your Aura abilities affect the music as well, which boosts the power of the different moves."

A breaking news jingle from a TV snapped the group to attention. "Newsflash! The Adamant Orb has been successfully stolen by Team Galactic!" an announcer reported.

"WHAT???" Dawn hurried to the TV, watching the report in shock.

"The Adamant Orb was on its way to the Celestic Town Historical Research Center, which is currently studying the Adamant Orb's counterpart, the Lustrous Orb." the announcer continued over scenes of a Galactic plane attacking the location. "Champion Cynthia is currently on her way to Celestic Town..."

"Cynthia...we need to meet up with her and help her get the Adamant Orb back!" Ash vowed as he put away his Pokeflute.

"Tell that to Mr. Loverboy here..." Dawn sighed, pointing out Brock singing a song to Nurse Joy in the distance, guitar and all.

...Remember there was dancing on that night so long ago
We sang and raised our glasses to the starlight on the snow...
Brock sang the third verse of the song, pleased he had managed to get this far in a song without Kage jabbing him.

Well, if you should see those northern lights on a frosty winter's eve,
Watch them dance and know I’m there, there’s no...need...to...
Brock stopped his song as he noticed Kage staring out the window. "Is Kage okay? Usually I barely get past the first line of the song, and he's let me sing almost a whole song!"

"He may be watching for someone..." Nurse Joy replied. "Go on, finish the song--I was enjoying it!"

"Okay..." Brock replied as he found the first chord of the song's chorus. Everyday, sing a song,
To help me sail along...
Too ra loo ra loo ra loo ra lay,
And I’ll be on my way...


Later, the group met Cynthia and a dull blonde haired woman with similar features in the Research Center's foyer. "Thank you so much for coming on such short notice." Cynthia began.

She gestured to the woman. "This is my grandma, and the Research Center's chief."

"You can call me Professor Carolina, if you wish." the woman smiled.

The group did not know that Saturn was watching them from a rooftop. "There they are...the hat-boy that ruined our plans in Veilstone City."

"Believe me, I know..." Mars agreed. "Those three are a crafty lot--be especially careful of the minstrel boy!" She pointed out Brock singing to Cynthia and Professor Carolina inside the foyer, never mind the music and lyrics were unintelligible from their position.

"Of all the fools that could've thwarted our plans, you had to be thwarted by a minstrel?" Cyrus asked as he joined Mars and Saturn on their stakeout. "That's both frustrating and amusing at the same time." he smiled. "But the only song our minstrel will soon be singing is an ode to my new world, and hailing ME as his new king!"

He turned business-like again as a notification appeared on his Poketch. "Mars--Jupiter's received the explosives and requests your assistance in the ruins to set them up."

"Yes sir!" Mars replied before departing.

"Saturn, come with me." Cyrus instructed. "You have the honor of dealing with the trio of fools that have bothered Mars and Jupiter for too long. I will be popping in to check on the other teams taking part in our offensive for the twin orbs. Can I trust you to distract the enemy while I am away?"

"Yes sir!" Saturn smiled as Cyrus departed.


"Celestic Town has long had a connection with Dalga and Palkia." Professor Carolina explained, pointing out a white dog-like Pokemon sending forth two familiar dragon-like Pokemon into the world. "The story goes that long ago, Arceus, the Lord of All That Was, All That Is, and All That Is to Be, created Dialga and Palkia to help Him create the world. Palkia created the very cosmos, and Dialga gave the new world the gift of time and order, giving us the seasons.

Dawn noticed a picture of Mesprit near the picture of Arceus, Dialga, and Palkia. "But where does Mesprit factor into the story?"

"And Azelf?" Ash added.

"Oh, have you met Mesprit and Azelf?" Professor Carolina asked.

Dawn nodded. "Not long after my companions rescued me and Kori from a flock of Starly near Lake Verity, I heard this strong and powerful female voice sing the Swanna Song, which healed Kori."

"I was passing by Lake Valor on my way into town to get ice cream for Dawn and some friends, and Azelf blessed me with his Swanna Song." Ash went on. "It was a high male voice that almost sounded female."

"If you're curious, Mesprit represents Emotion and Azelf represents Willpower." Cynthia explained. "There is a third lake guardian at Lake Acuity near Snowpoint City--he is Uxie who represents Knowledge. As far as I know, no one has yet heard his Swanna Song."

Uxie...that's the same Pokemon May and Zoey were telling us about during the Wallace Cup. Brock thought.

Professor Carolina spotted Saturn, in disguise as an intern. "Why don't you take these three to see the Lustrous Orb?"

"Right away." Saturn replied with a feigned smile. She fell for it! Once I have these three in position, I can signal Mars to set off the explosives!

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 72b: Losing its Lustrous! (part 2)

The group and the disguised Saturn watched as Professor Carolina swiped a key card in an armored door. Access requested--please press palm to scanner for bio-verification.

"Neat!" Dawn smiled as the scanner analyzed Professor Carolina's handprint with a hum.

Access approved--welcome to the vault. With that, the armored door creaked open.

"This is the museum's vault--where we keep new arrivals to the museum, as well as its rarest and most valuable artifacts." Professor Carolina explained. "The Lustrous Orb is one of our treasures."

"Wow..." Ash gasped as he admired a large blue orb with a purple sheen on a pedestal.

"It's beautiful!" Dawn agreed as she too hurried to admire the orb.

Saturn, however, decided to relay to Cyrus what was going on. "Admin Saturn to Supreme Leader Cyrus--I have access to the room with the Lustrous Orb."

"Excellent." Cyrus' voice crackled back. "You know as well as I do that the Lustrous Orb may be directly connected to the dawn of time. It is very important that we claim it during our offensive."

"Roger." Saturn replied. "What are my next instructions?"

"Once the explosives go off in a few minutes, they may attempt to move the orb to a more secure location." Cyrus cautioned. "You are to prevent this if possible."

"Understood." Saturn replied. "Saturn out."

He smiled as he heard an explosion in the distance, followed by screams of alarm and the various screeches of sirens. <i>There's the explosion...</i> He discretely fled the room in an attempt to intercept museum security.

Back in the room, Professor Carolina tried fruitlessly to reopen the armored door. "The security system has been compromised!"

"Luckily, the manual override still works." Cynthia smiled as she used the override to reopen the door. "We need to get the Lustrous Orb somewhere safe, but we need someone to look after the vault's other artifacts while the orb is being moved."

"Then I'll take the orb!" Ash volunteered. "Tell me where you want to put it, and I'll take it there!"

"Okay...listen closely." Cynthia began before giving Ash his instructions...


Brock's heart pounded has he hurried in the direction of the vault. I don't know what that explosion was all about, but I hope to Arceus Ash and Dawn are okay!

He watched from a window as a team of helicopters with a familiar G insignia flew to the roof of the Research Center. Of course...Team Galactic masterminded all of this.

A pop from a Poke Ball got his attention. "Kage? What's going on?"

[Come with me.] Kage motioned for Brock to follow him down a hallway. [I know where Ash and Dawn are, and I know where she is...]

"Who is 'she'?" Brock was still confused.

He found Ash, Dawn, and Cynthia moments later. "There you are! I thought you three were toast when those explosions happened!"

"We're fine, just a little rattled." Dawn explained. "We're trying to take the Lustrous Orb to a secure location near the main entrance."

"And you lot are never gonna get there!" a male voice sneered.

"Saturn!" Ash growled as Saturn threw off his disguise. "What did you do to everyone?"

"Easy...my Bronzor Ara has put everyone outside to sleep, while Mantella has taken care of everyone inside." Saturn replied. "Once she's done, Mantella will take care of you."

Brock froze when he saw Kage battling a familiar Toxicroak at the edge of the hallway. It makes sense now--Kage didn't want to stop my performance before because he sensed Saturn's Toxicroak Mantella was here! The 'she' Kage meant was Mantella!

"Ara, use Hypnosis!" Saturn called to his Bronzor.

"Shenlong, try Brick Break!" Cynthia called.

In all the confusion, Officer Jenny found Ash and Dawn. "Come on, you two--let's get you and the orb somewhere safe."

"Not if I have anything to say about it!" Mars smirked as she intercepted the group.

"We're surrounded!" Dawn gasped as Jupiter blocked the way the group had come.

Suddenly Kage burst through a skylight and landed on the ground. [You wanna hurt my crew? You'll have to go through me first!]

"KAGEEEEEEEEE!!!" Brock screamed in horror as Mantella hit Kage dead-on with a Poison Jab.

[I tried, Coach...] Kage wheezed before fainting.

"You'll never be allowed to escape with the Lustrous Orb so long as I'm here!" Cynthia roared in defiance at the three admins.

She heaved another Poke Ball skyward. "Rukia, I need you!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 73a: Double Team Turnover! (part 1)

Previously, on "Pokemon Shine Diamond"...

In all the confusion, Officer Jenny found Ash and Dawn. "Come on, you two--let's get you and the orb somewhere safe."

"Not if I have anything to say about it!" Mars smirked as she intercepted the group.

"We're surrounded!" Dawn gasped as Jupiter blocked the way the group had come.

Suddenly Kage burst through a skylight and landed on the ground. [You wanna hurt my crew? You'll have to go through me first!]

"KAGEEEEEEEEE!!!" Brock screamed in horror as Mantella hit Kage dead-on with a Poison Jab.

[I tried, Coach...] Kage wheezed before fainting.

"You'll never be allowed to escape with the Lustrous Orb so long as I'm here!" Cynthia roared in defiance at the three admins.

She heaved another Poke Ball skyward. "Rukia, I need you!"

Ash watched as the Poke Ball Cynthia had heaved opened with a pop, revealing a Lucario. He felt an odd sense of peace as Rukia went to work punching Golbats out of the sky. If that's what Erin will become, I can't wait to see how powerful Erin will be!

He heaved a Poke Ball skyward as Tintri ran to join the battle. "Diddy, let's go!"

"Kori, Stormy, go help Ash!" Dawn heaved two Poke Balls skyward.

"Shenlong, help Rukia!" Cynthia told her Garchomp.

"Don't think sheer numbers will save you!" Mars shot back. "Leona, use Shadow Ball!"

"Mantella, use Dark Pulse!" Saturn commanded.

Utter chaos broke out in the hallway as the two sides clashed. Shenlong blocked Leona's Shadow Ball; and Rukia blocked the Dark Pulse. Brock sent out Hinata to support Diddy in battling Saturn's Bronzor Ara, and Ripple to support Kori in trying to weaken Mantella. [This one's for Kage!] Ripple vowed as she used Mud Slap in an attempt to blind Mantella.

Tarina watched the battle rage from the safety of Brock's bag. [Put me in--I want to help avenge Kage too.]

"Not yet." Brock replied. "If Tintri needs help, then you can support him. But until then, stay put."

He gasped when he heard Diddy cry in pain. "Scratch that thought, Pokemon down!"

"Diddy!" Ash gasped as he found Diddy writing in pain on the floor from an oozing wound.

[He's been poisoned...] Hinata noticed.

[But the Galactic guys are getting away!] Tarina pointed out the admins fleeing from a window.

"I know you wanted us to get the twin orbs back, but we can't fight with Kage down and Diddy poisoned." Brock explained as the group called back their teams.

"Let's regroup at the Pokemon Center." Cynthia suggested. "We can plan our next move there."


In the Pokemon Center, the group reunited in a lounge near the front desk. [Why do those Galactic guys want the orbs so bad?] Tarina wondered.

"It's because the twin orbs have a connection to Dialga and Palkia." Cynthia replied. "The Adamant Orb is said to boost Dialga's power, and the Lustrous Orb boosts Palkia's power."

"But what does that have to do with Team Galactic?" Ash was confused.

"According to what I have uncovered about Galactic's plot, the two orbs also summon Dialga and Palkia, in addition to boosting their power." Cynthia explained. "So if they fall into evil hands, and manage to summon them..."

"Game over, world..." Brock sighed.

Ash was just as dejected. "I'm sorry...I did everything I could to protect the orb. Diddy was hurt because of me..."

"It's okay..." Cynthia assured Ash. "You did more than enough. It's important not to regret the past but look to the future."

"Yeah..." A weak smile formed on Ash's face. "We won't get the orbs back by having a pity party like this!"

"We may still have time..." Cynthia showed the group a video of Cyrus following Professor Carolina to the ruins. "The Galactic head is following Grandma. We can intercept him and at least set Team Galactic back!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 73b: Double Team Turnover (part 2)

Previously, on "Pokemon Shine Diamond"...

Ash was just as dejected. "I'm sorry...I did everything I could to protect the orb. Diddy was hurt because of me..."

"It's okay..." Cynthia assured Ash. "You did more than enough. It's important not to regret the past, but look to the future."

"Yeah..." A weak smile formed on Ash's face. "We won't get the orbs back by having a pity party like this!"

"We may still have time..." Cynthia showed the group a video of Cyrus following Professor Carolina to the ruins. "The Galactic head is following Grandma. We can intercept him and at least set Team Galactic back!"

As the group arrived at the ruins, Ash buried a radar tracker in Tintri's fur. "This will let us know if you've found the Galactic boss." he explained. "If the worst happens and you fall in battle, we'll know where you are for a rescue."

Cynthia showed the Pokemon a picture of Cyrus. "This is what the Galactic boss looks like. Can you guys work together to find him?"

[Leave it to us!] Tintri squeaked as the Pokemon hurried off in search of Cyrus. [Team Shocking Yellow, let's go!]

As the Pokemon raced off with cheers, Cynthia led Ash, Dawn, and Brock into a chamber deeper in the ruins. "Let me show you three something...I don't know how useful it will be, but it's worth a look."

The group emerged into a chamber depicting a series of paintings of three familiar pixie creatures. "Azelf and Mesprit!" Ash gasped when he recognized a blue being and a pink being.

"The painting I want you guys to look at is the middle one..." Cynthia gestured to a painting of three small lights around a larger light atop what looked like a cliff. "The light in the center represents either Dialga or Palkia--it hasn't been explicitly confirmed as to which one it is--appearing at the Spear Pillar. The three lights around it are thought to be Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf."

"Interesting..." Ash mused.

"One day, I realized that there may be another way of interpreting this scene." Cynthia went on. "Could this triangle of lights actually represent a different trio? Could they be Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina instead?"

"It's possible..." Brock mused. "We have met all three. But what I don't get is the large light at the center. Does it represent something else? Could it even be Arceus, the Keeper of All that Was, All that Is, and All that is to Be? Who manifests in thousands of tales across the world to guide, comfort, and aid a hero?"

"It is certainly possible..." Cynthia smiled. "You may be onto something, here...do you know of the ancient Plates they find all over Shinou?"

"What about them?" Dawn asked.

"One of them had the following engraved on it-- 'Two beings of time and space set free from the Original One'." Cynthia explained. "I think this quote also points to the presence of another Pokémon. A Pokémon even more powerful than Dialga or Palkia combined."

"But where does Giratina fit into this?" Dawn wondered.

"I'm not quite sure how Giratina fits into this theory, but... It's said that in the Distortion World, neither time nor space are stable." Cynthia replied. "I think that tells us something about Giratina, the only Pokémon there. He has to be as powerful as DIalga and Palkia, the rulers of time and space. In some way, though, Giratina has to have a power that opposes theirs."

"That makes sense..." Dawn smiled. "I wonder what sort of people painted this?"

"Well, to the ancient peoples, Dialga and Palkia really did rule over time and space. Seeing them must have shaken the people to their very core." Cynthia replied. "This painting most likely represents those feelings of awe, wonder, and everything else. It passed that memory to countless people, eventually becoming a myth...or at least, that's my theory, as a researcher of myths."

"And one I can agree with, as a storyteller and folklorist." Brock smiled. "I can only imagine what tales the ancients told about Dialga and Palkia..."

An urgent buzz snapped the group to attention. "Pokemon down!" Ash called. "Our teams need help!"


That night at the Pokémon Center, the group sighed as they reflected on the disastrous battle that afternoon. "What do we do now? Galactic got both orbs..." Dawn sighed.

Officer Jenny met the group in the lounge. "Even though our mission to protect the orbs failed, you three did an admirable job against Team Galactic. Thanks to you, you prevented even more damage from being done. The best thing to do now is to keep training and getting more powerful--there may yet be a way to stop Galactic."

"But how?" Ash wondered. "If Cyrus could wipe the floor with our teams, what good could we do against potential super-Pokemon?"

"The answer? Keep going, keep training, keep achieving your goals, and keep searching." Cynthia replied. "If you three believe in each other and your teams, there's nothing you can't do!"

"Yeah..." A smile formed on Ash's face. "Galactic may have won the battle today, but we're gonna win the war!"

Cynthia nodded. "I have to return to the League in the morning. Be on your guard, since we all have to be ready for when Team Galactic makes their next move."

"We promise..." Ash hugged Cynthia.

"Trainer's honor!" Dawn made a three fingered scout sign for emphasis.

"By the time this is all said and done, it would be worth an epic ballad." Brock smiled.

"I would be honored to hear you perform the legend of the painting in song." Cynthia smiled before departing.


"Our mission is actually making progress for once!" Mars smiled as she Jupiter, and Saturn admired the Adamant Orb, Lustrous Orb and Spear Key.

A door opening snapped the admins to attention. "Boss!" Jupiter gasped as Cyrus walked in the lab.

"What can we do for you, Boss?" Saturn sheepishly grinned.

"Please explain why you almost compromised the mission, Saturn..." Cyrus began, shooting Mars a warning look as she giggled. "The hat boy with the Pikachu is even more dangerous than the minstrel--he has seen Azelf, and both hat boy and minstrel boy know the holy Swanna Song! We can't allow them to sing it!"

"What about the girl?" Jupiter asked.

"She is worth watching too, for she has met Mesprit." Cyrus replied. "To my knowledge, she can't sing the Swanna Song, but her meeting Mesprit means that she could potentially learn to sing it."

He turned business-like again. "Jupiter, I want you to find the lake guardians, and bring them here."

"Right--I'll get the Guild of Hunters on the phone immediately." Jupiter replied before rushing out.

"Boss, I wanted to report that the Fuego Ironworks have completed their experiment on the shards of the Three Heavenly Jewels we managed to salvage back in Veilstone City." Mars reported. "This moves the Red Chain project into its final stage."

"Excellent." Cyrus smiled as he departed the lab.

After rounding the corner and arriving before the headquarters control panel in his room, Cyrus smiled when he spotted the group in camp on one of the hundreds of screens. "Soon, you three will be telling the tale of my new world! Soon, all of Shinou will bow to ME! No...the whole universe will be mine!"

All of Shinou seemed to resound with Cyrus' laughter as he savored his seemingly imminent triumph.

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 74a: A Trainer and Child Reunion! (part 1)

"...she'll be shocked that I can control my team with the power of music!" Ash went on as the group made their way down a road a few days later. "Besides, if my team keeps on hearing a Pokeflute, there's no way Fantina can put them all to sleep!"

"I think reminding him about his match with Fantina restored his morale after what happened back in Celestic Town." Dawn smiled, both bemused and happy to see Ash in high spirits.

"For the moment, let's just remember what Cynthia said, and focus on our goals." Brock suggested. "As far as Ash's musical strategy goes, only time will tell if it will work against Fantina's sleep-inducing attack..."

As the group rounded the corner into a town, they noticed a large crowd gathered in the town square. "What's going on?" Ash wondered, trying to peek around the mob of people.

"if you three are here to observe, please get in line." Officer Jenny instructed as she arrived to observe the crowd.

"Is there an idol or a band here?" Brock asked.

"Actually..." Officer Jenny smiled. "Aaron is having a public practice session right now."

Ash thought for a moment. "Only Aaron I know of is the Wave Guider..."

"Same here..." Brock agreed.

Dawn excitedly dug out the month's issue of Poké Chic from her bag. "Aaron is actually one of the Elite Four." she explained as she showed the boys a page depicting a green haired young man with a Beautifly.

"Oh, yeah..." Ash remembered Lucian bringing up Aaron. "Guess we can see how he battles..."

Brock motioned for the group to follow him over to a bench overlooking the square, away from the crowd. "Be thankful Misty isn't here..." he mused as he watched a Drapion use Pin Missile, nailing the bullseye of a far away target five times in quick succession.

"Yeah...I'd be peeling her off of me about now." Ash agreed as he watched a Vespiquen use Slash, easily carving up ceramic plates into various shapes. "If we've met Lucian and his Psychic types, and Aaron with his bugs, then who are the other two Elite Four members?"

"There's Bertha, who is a Ground type user..." Officer Jenny went on. "...and Flint, who is a Fire type user. Out of the four, Aaron mixes strength with popularity the best."

Just then, the group watched as the Drapion used a series of quick Hyper Beams, destroying a star shaped array of targets. "Oh wow!" Officer Jenny gasped. "Aaron really does speak the language of Bug Pokémon! I never would've thought to combine Pin Missile and Hyper Beam!

"Easy, Officer..." Brock tried to calm Officer Jenny down. "Remember your primary duty is to keep order here..."

"But, Aaron has risen up and challenged Cynthia, and their battle to end all battles will take place very soon!" Officer Jenny gushed, giddy with excitement.

The lightbulb went off in Dawn's head, "Oh, so that's who Cynthia meant by a challenger when she left Celestic Town a few days ago..."

"It makes sense..." Ash agreed. "Even members of the Elite Four can challenge the Champion for their spot. The defeated Champion would have the option to take their spot in the Elite Four, or return to civilian life."

"It's decided! Aaron, my hero, will undoubtedly be the winner!" Officer Jenny vowed. The Vespiquen smashing more plates with a Gust punctuated her point.

Some applause signaled that the practice session was over. "Thank you all so much!" Aaron smiled as he and his Pokemon bowed for the crowd. "Thanks for coming--I hope to see you in the Champion's seat soon!"

As many in the crowd chose to leave, throngs of girls hurried up to Aaron asking for autographs. "All right, try and keep the line orderly!" Officer Jenny reminded the excited girls as the line continued to grow.

"I'm gonna get Aaron's autograph too!" Dawn cried as she hurried to find the end of the line.

"One day, I will clean up at the Pokémon League and challenge Cynthia, Lucian, and Aaron!" Ash was not far behind.

Aaron, meanwhile, calmly kept signing autographs for his fans. "Eee! I'll remember this moment for the rest of my life!" a girl cried as she hurried off.

"Last one!" Aaron called, prompting Dawn to step forward. "Hi there..."

"Hi...I'm Dawn Solberg, of Twinleaf Town." Dawn began. "Can you please sign my copy of this month's Poké Chic?"

"Sure..." Aaron accepted the magazine and began writing his name near his picture on the cover in elegant swoopy letters.

"I know that the Elite Four are powerful battlers...is it true Cynthia said she would not go easy on you?" Dawn asked.

"You know Cynthia?" Aaron asked as the boys joined Dawn.

"We do." Dawn replied.

"We'll be cheering for you both!" Ash agreed.

A smile formed on Aaron's face. "You three know as well as I that Cynthia is very powerful. But I have been training even harder." Aaron's Drapion, Vespiquen and Skorupi all chittered happily in agreement.

"Aaron...I have long dreamed about becoming the greatest Pokemon Master." Ash began. "It's been an interesting road to achieve that goal so far..."

"Go for it--with courage and confidence like that, I believe you can become a Pokemon Master--who all the Champions and Elite Fours of every region report to." Aaron replied.

He went on "If you like, I can take you three to my personal training center. It would be an honor to welcome some friends of Cynthia there."

"You hear that, gang?" Brock smiled. "We all could get some training from a master trainer...it's not every day a member of the Elite Four offers to train you."

Dawn smiled. "We would love to come see your training grounds!"

"It's got plenty of stuff for the humans to do, as well." Aaron smiled as the group started off down a path. "Your standard workout machines, martial arts gear, ribbons and other dance gear, two swimming pools, an archery range, a tennis court, a track, a basketball court..."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: The Legend of Farfalla

"Here we are, everyone..." Aaron began as he made a grand gesture to a large building that overlooked a lake. "The Swallowtail Athletic Center."

"Wow..." the group gasped as they looked out on the lake and the majestic building reflecting the water. "It's beautiful!" Dawn raved.

"Thanks--I built the center after becoming a member of the Elite Four." Aaron replied. "It's not unheard of for a lot of bugs to come out here..."

"I can see why..." Ash mused as he watched Combee and Mothim fit among the flowers. Some Ledyba and Venonats chattered on a tree nearby. "This would be a nightmare for those who disliked bugs..." he mused as he watched a Surskit skate on a pond near the center's entrance.

"Well, typically even the most ardent of bug haters start to come around after their visit." Aaron grinned. as he joined Ash in admiring the gardens.

He heaved two Poke Balls skyward. "Kama, Maya, break time!"

Brock watched as the Drapion and the Vespiquen materialized in the garden. "Is it okay if we come inside and look around?" he asked.

"Sure." Aaron smiled as he led the group inside the center. "The Pokémon would have a field day making fun of me if I didn't train as hard as they do."


The group gawked in awe at the size of the main athletic complex. "Oh wow...what to do first?" Dawn gasped as she looked out on the various exercise equipment, sports implements, martial arts implements, and dance implements.

Ash spotted a pair of training knuckles in a sparring area. "I'm gonna brush up on some hand to hand combat!"

"Just be sure to do some stretching before you start." Aaron cautioned as Ash changed his casual gloves for the training knuckles. "The last thing we want to happen is injury from overdoing it."

"Got it!" Ash replied before kicking off his shoes and stretching his arms in preparation for training.

Dawn giggled as Ash started eagerly punching and kicking a punching bag. "Got a lot of energy today, Ash?"

"it's probably motivation for his rematch with Fantina." Brock replied, impressed at the various moves Ash was doing. "That, and it's always a good idea to know how to defend yourself in a bad situation."

He gathered up his bow and some training arrows. "Where's the archery range?"

"Over here..." Aaron led Brock over to the range, which overlooked the lake. "It's not often that people bring their own gear, but I have some rentals if visitors wish to learn to shoot.

"I've been training for almost ten years." Brock explained. "Was part of the archery team in school."

He fired a shot, then continued "Once I graduated, I've continued shooting for fun and as part of performance."

"Stage archery is impressive to watch." Aaron agreed as a Combee observed Brock's second shot. "I'm sure it takes weeks to get the shot right..."

Brock nodded. "I don't get to perform my 'bow tales' that often, but when I have the space to do it, and the time to rehearse the shots, it wows audiences everywhere."

With that, he fired another shot. The Combee monitors buzzed in excitement before hurrying to retrieve Brock's arrows...


Aaron applauded as Dawn finished a ribbon dance. "That was beautiful!"

"Thanks." Dawn smiled. "I took gymnastics for a while as a kid..."

She noticed a picture of a young Aaron together with a Wurmple on the wall. "Oh, who's this?"

Aaron's face turned somber. "That is Farfalla, my first bug Pokemon. "As a kid, I did not take losing and setbacks well, so I was often teased and called a crybaby."

"That's not nice!" Ash gasped before channeling his anger into a hard punch.

"Farfalla was always there to comfort me." Arron went on. "But one day, I lost horribly to a trainer. In my anger and sadness, I blamed my loss on Farfalla, and ran off into the forest. I felt so horrible for saying such nasty things to Farfalla, and decided to return and apologize."

Tears welled up in Aaron's eyes. "But when I got back there, my best friend had gone."

He composed himself, then went on. "This drove me to work with every Bug type I could find until I could master their language, because I never wanted to go through the pain of losing a friend again."

He longingly looked up at the picture. Farfalla...if you're out there, I just want to say I'm sorry. You did your best that day. I hope you'll forgive me for calling you weak and stupid...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 74b: A Trainer and Child Reunion (part 2)

"Do you know where Farfalla is now?" Dawn asked as she gathered up some ribbons and put them away.

Aaron was about to answer when he heard a click and a whir coming from outside. "What on earth?"

Ash hurried outside, just as he saw Tintri, Kori, and Aaron's Pokemon disappear inside a large suction machine. "Team Rocket?" he asked, scratching his head in confusion.

"Nope!" Jupiter called back. "You want your Pokemon, you'll have to catch our balloon first!"

"Come back here!" Aaron made a running jump towards the balloon. He hoped he would have the distance to climb onto it.

"Noctis, use Haze!" Jupiter called, sending Aaron tumbling to the ground.

"I've gotcha!" Brock dove to catch Aaron. "Are you okay?"

"I think so...was that a baseball leap?" Aaron asked as dusted himself off.

Brock nodded. "Still remember winning the regional championship for Pewter in high school with that dive.

"Save the sports memories for later, we have to catch the admins!" Ash called. He motioned for the others to follow him into the brush.


"I can't believe this run of good luck we're having!" Mars smiled. "First we get both the Adamant and the Lustrous Orbs, and now we get a bunch of hat-boy and pals' Pokemon!"

She gasped as she heard the whistle of an arrow. "Uh oh...

"Brace yourself--we're going down!" Jupiter screamed as the balloon exploded with a POW!!!

Aaron smiled as the punctured balloon floated to the ground in a mass of silvery fabric. "That was an impeccable shot--those rogues didn't consider what happens when a balloon meets a sharp object

Dawn listened as a Ledian chittered to her. "Okay, cool!"

She told the others "The Ledian says that the balloon crashed nearby."

"Let's go!" Aaron followed the Ledian into the brush.


At the crash site, Mars grumbled as she assessed the puncture. "Why didn't they tell me minstrel boy was also good with a bow?"

"I'm impressed he managed to hit us from how high up we were." Jupiter agreed. "I thought getting up to a high altitude would make him miss, but no--he still got us."

"Try going higher next time--I can still hit you!" Brock taunted.

Mars was about to retort when Jupiter shushed her. "You can taunt minstrel boy later--come help me fix this!"

Ash smiled as he was reunited with Tintri. "How'd you guys get out of there?"

[Oh, admins were so busy fighting that I just kicked down the emergency hatch.] Tintri replied.

Aaron recognized a tree. "This maple tree...this was were I met Farfalla for the first time."

He gasped as a familiar Beautifly flitted through the trees. "Farfalla? Is that you?"

[Aaron?] the Beautifly gasped. [You still remember me, even after you called me weak and stupid?]

"I've never forgotten you!" Aaron assured the Beautifly I just want to say I'm sorry for what I said all those years ago...you're hardly weak and stupid. No...you are beautiful and powerful!"

"Aw..." Dawn smiled as Aaron and Farfalla snuggled together. "So, what to do with the admins?"

"Leave'em be--getting shot down is humiliation enough!" Ash smiled as the group started back towards the athletic center, leaving Mars and Jupiter to bicker.


That evening, the group celebrated Farfalla's return with a pizza party. "A toast!" Ash called, lifting a Fizzo can high. "To Aaron and Farfalla's safe reunion!"

"And to you guys--for bringing Farfalla back to me." Aaron smiled.

Farfalla elegantly whirled in the air as four soda cans clanked together. "I'm glad that Farfalla came home." Dawn began. "The fact that she wanted to return says something about her loyalty to you."

"Yeah-- Farfalla makes your team even more amazing." Brock agreed as he admired Aaron's lineup.

"Let me just say thanks for everything!" Ash raved. "We all learned so much, and had so much fun--even if the admins tried to ruin it!"

Everyone laughed at this, including Aaron. "Well, you three are always welcome back any time! I look forward to hearing how your upcoming match with Fantina goes."

Inspired, Dawn whispered something to Brock. "Okay...I don't see any harm in sharing a few Beautifly stories in honor of Farfalla.

After thinking for a moment, Brock started the first tale to come to mind. "In a certain village lived an artisan who made his keep making paper flowers to sell as decorations. He had a daughter named Hikari, who was as equally skilled as her father. One day, as Hikari was walking in a field looking for new ideas for flower designs, she found a Beautifly trapped in an Ariados web, and set it free moments before it could become the Ariados' dinner."

Farfalla heaved a relieved sigh as Brock went on "Back at home, she told her mother about the trapped Beautifly, and how she had freed it. Her mother only smiled and said that a good deed does not go unrewarded..."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 75a: Aiding the Enemy! (part 1)

A group of trainers crowded around a TV to watch the match between Cynthia and Aaron. "Great, the match is just getting underway--we didn't miss too much." Ash smiled as he found a couch near the TV to watch.

"I've got the popcorn and other treats." Brock reported as he arrived with chips, popcorn, and some sodas.

"Where'd you get the drinks, man?" a trainer asked Brock. Onscreen, Aaron told his Drapion Kama to use Pin Missile.

"There;s a cooler and a few snack bins nearby the lounge entrance." Brock explained. "It's all you care to enjoy, free of charge."

Some trainers decided to take advantage of a commercial break to get snacks and drinks. "I'm hoping we'll see Farfalla in this match..." Dawn mused as various commercials blipped by on the screen.

"I hope so too." Ash smiled as he went to get some treats for himself. "It's very sweet Farfalla remembered her master after all this time."

He looked back at Dawn. "You want anything?"

[I'll make you popcorn!] Tarina offered.

Dawn smiled at the popcorn bag Tarina was holding. "Okay, Tarina...you can make us some popcorn."

"Come on, then..." Brock led Tarina to the microwave. "I'll show you how to make popcorn."

After looking at the bag's cooking directions, he explained "As a general rule of thumb, popcorn is ready when popping slows down to 2 to 3 seconds between pops, so you need to be listening closely."

[Got it!] Tarina smiled.

"Okay, then punch the 4 and be listening for the popping to slow down." Brock instructed.

Tarina happily complied, sneaking a peek at the TV to see if the commercial break had ended as the popcorn popped.


[Did I miss anything?] Tarina asked as she and Brock returned with their popcorn, other treats, and drinks.

"Not so far--things are really heating up!" Dawn replied as the battle raged on the TV.

For a while, the large audience of Pokemon and trainers watched as Cynthia and Aaron battled in the area. Eventually, the match came down to Cynthia's Lucario Rukia and Aaron's Beautifly Farfalla. Each side has only one Pokemon left! the announcer cried. Will the Champion prevail, or will this Beautifly soar as the new Champion?

[Go, Farfalla!] Tintri cheered, aware the Beautifly on the screen was heaving with exhaustion.

Farfalla is charging up for Solar Beam... the announcer reported. Suddenly, a familiar shining blue orb overcame the bright sunlight! But Rukia counters with Aura Sphere!

The audience of trainers gasped and cheered when they saw Farfalla lying swirly eyed on the Pearl side of the arena. And Cynthia successfully defends her title of Pokémon Champion! the announcer cried as Cynthia and Rukia posed triumphantly to the roar of the crowd in the arena.

"Well done, Farfalla...you did your best." Aaron smiled as he collected his Beautifly.

"Wow...Cynthia hung on to her title despite Aaron's enthusiasm and getting Farfalla back." Dawn mused as some trainers applauded the battle on the TV.

"So, how's Blaze working out for you, Wonder Boy?" a voice asked. "Has your Chimchar gone berserk any more?"

Ash whirled around to see Paul approaching him. "I don't plan on relying on it, and I've never needed to use it." he explained.

He watched Paul depart the lounge. "Come on, everyone--let's get to the yard, so we can prepare for the Hearthome Gym."


In the yard, Diddy, Estrella, and Erin each sent some attacks at Tintri, Tails, and Gaia. "Remember, everyone, change up what attacks you use so the defending team can practice different tactics." Ash instructed.

"Once each part of your team has had a turn to be the attacking team, I can pick three of mine to be the attacking team." Dawn offered.

"Thanks, but I've got this for now." Ash replied as another volley of attacks went flying.

Brock noticed Paul watching from a bench, reading a book titled "Songs of the Gods". "If you don't mind my asking, why are you curious about Ash's training with Diddy?" he asked.

"I'm irked that Ash won't use Blaze, minstrel." Paul replied. "He's afraid to use it because of what happened last time."

"Ash is not one to fight with raw power." Brock explained. "He prefers to battle tactically, playing off what the opponent is doing and responding accordingly."

Then, something occurred to Brock. "While we were in Veilstone, we met your little brother Reggie. As we visited with him, I noticed how many Badges and Symbols he obtained, but he was missing the Brave Symbol."

"Well, Reggie was doing very well at each of the facilities in Kanto's Battle Frontier." Paul explained. "However, a bad run in the Battle Pyramid made him decide to give up being a trainer altogether."

He marked his place in his book. "I don't know why it doesn't bother him...if I were in his shoes, I would be irked by that one run, and train even more to challenge the Pyramid again."

He turned business-like again. "One day, I will be the greatest master of them all--better than Reggie, better than Wonder Boy, and better than you, minstrel!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 75b: Aiding the Enemy! (part 2)

"Okay, everyone--let's take a break." Ash told his team.

He noticed Paul approaching with Brock. "Paul...what are you doing here?"

"I should ask the same thing of you, Wonder Boy." Paul replied. "You copy my same training methods, and yet you don't ever use my strategies in battle! Are you afraid of your Pokemon's power?"

"You call sending five against one fair?" Ash shot back. "I've seen you do that to Goku, and I'm amazed that Chimchar can survive an onslaught like that!"

"Um, if it helps, Ash is training for the Hearthome Gym..." Dawn began.

Paul just smirked as he showed Ash a badge that resembled a ghostly aura. "Piece of cake...those spooky ghosts didn't even put up a fight!"

Ash growled as he remembered how Fantina's Pokémon used Hypnosis to stop his Pokémon from doing anything. "If you want any hope of winning, Wonder Boy, try busting those ghosts with raw power--that's more reliable than any magical mumbo jumbo would ever be."

"Rrrgh...if you're so confident your raw power will win over love, care, and confidence, let's duel!" Ash challenged. "Right here, right now! One on one!"

[I'll be your champion!] Diddy volunteered. [If he thinks I'm weak because you take good care of us, he's got another thing coming!]


On the battlefield, Ash read up on his opponent as Paul summoned his Honchkrow Mystic:

"Honchkrow, the big boss Pokemon. At a single cry from this nocturnal Pokémon, more than a hundred of its Murkrow cronies will assemble."

Ash swallowed hard as he pocketed his Pokedex. He may think he's all big and tough, but I have an advantage he doesn't--speed!

As soon as Brock's whistle echoed across the yard, Mystic streaked skyward in preparation to use &nbsp;Sky Attack. "Diddy, try to use Heat Wave!"

[No dice, Ash--the Honchkrow is way up there!] Diddy reported as the waves of flames fizzled out.

Ash gasped as Mystic streaked towards Diddy in a fiery aura! "Watch out!"

Paul grimaced as Diddy spun away from Mystic's attack. "Mystic, try Night Slash!"

Diddy jumped away from one of the ominous dark blades, but he did not expect to be hit by a second one! "Ash! Cut the cavalier dodging attitude and attack! Brock scolded as Diddy got up from the attack. "Constant dodging will only get you so far!"

Ash nodded before noticing Mystic streaking down to use Aerial Ace. "Diddy, intercept Mystic with a Bite!"

He watched in horror as Mystic knocked Diddy down before he could attack. But a white glow caused his look of panic to turn to joy as Diddy emerged as a larger monkey Pokemon.

Excited, Ash read up on what Diddy had become:

"Monferno, the playful Pokemon. It uses ceilings and walls to launch aerial attacks. Its fiery tail is but one weapon."

"Mystic, use Aerial Ace!" Paul's voice snapped Ash to reality.

"Diddy, watch out!" Ash called, but watched in horror as the Honckrow slammed into Diddy...


Later, the group watched from the waiting lounge as Nurse Joy treated Diddy's wounds. "Why did Diddy's speed go down when evolution normally makes a Pokémon stronger?" Dawn broke the uneasy silence.

"Well, it is not unheard of for the Pokemon to be tired after an evolution, which can slow a normally speedy Pokemon like Monferno down for a little while." Brock explained. "Maybe this was what happened here."

A bell signaling Diddy was cured got the group's attention. "Diddy's healed...I hope he's okay." Ash mused as the group met Diddy in a recovery area.

Ash knelt down before Diddy. "I know, it hurts to lose. But look at it this way--you have increased defense, and you are one step closer to being able to Mega Evolve."

[But what good is all this power if I don't have the speed to back it up?] Diddy sighed.

Ash was about to say something before Dawn laid a hand on his shoulder. "Let him be for now. When he's ready to talk about his speed loss, he'll tell you."


That night, Tintri noticed Diddy walking down the hallway leading to the yard. [Hey, guys--why is Diddy going to the yard so late?]

[Let's go see!] Tails suggested.

[Kori and I will stay behind in case the humans wake up, or if there's trouble.] Estrella offered as the others woke up.

In the yard, the group noticed Diddy running forward, only to stumble and crash into a rock. [I see...Diddy wants to try and build up his lost speed.] Gaia noted as Diddy crashed again, only to get up with a sigh.

[You're still worried about your lost speed, right?] Tintri asked.

Diddy nodded. [Before, I relished speeding to battle and hitting hard before Mr. Hard-hitter knew what happened. Will I ever recapture that speed?]

[If I may, everyone?] a gentle female voice asked.

Tintri whirled around to see Paul's Torterra Demeter approaching the group. [What do you want?] he asked, sparking nervously.

Back in the group's room, Estrella saw what was happening outside. [Hey, Ash...]

"murrgh...what is it, Estrella?" Ash asked as he woke up.

"What's wrong, Kori?" Dawn sleepily asked as Kori misted her lightly.

"Is everything okay, Tarina?" Brock asked as he stirred from a static jolt.

[Something's going on in the yard.] Tarina explained. [I'm worried about Diddy.]

"Give us a minute to get dressed, okay?" Brock replied with a yawn as he climbed from bed. "Then we'll go check it out."

Ash turned on the light to find most of the Pokemon missing. "Where is everybody?"

[They all followed Diddy to the yard.] Tarina explained. [Then Paul's Torterra Demeter came--I'm scared she'll give Diddy even more of a beatdown!]


[Everyone's here...good.] Demeter began as the group watched from a bush.

She looked down at Erin. [Erin, is it? Would you be willing to help with a little demonstration?]

[Sure!] Erin replied. [What d'ye want me te do?]

[Hit me with the strongest attack you can.] Demeter instructed. [Don't hold anything back!]

The group watched as Erin smacked Demeter with a Force Palm, then followed up with a volley of Aura Spheres. "Is Demeter even capable of dodging?" Dawn gasped--Demeter hardly looked phased by Erin's attack.

"No--Demeter is deliberately staying put." Brock replied.

[But, you just stood there and took all of that!] Diddy protested. [You didn't even try to dodge!]

[That's exactly the point.] Demeter assured Diddy. [I know your master and my master do not get along, but we Pokemon can still help each other. As exhilarating as it is to dodge this way and that before attacking, sometimes the best offense is a good defense.]

[I see...] Diddy smiled. [You do have a point. there...I was so hung up on what I had lost, I didn't realize I can focus on my other skills while my speed recovers!]

Ash was just as shocked. I see...in her own quiet way, Demeter showed Diddy that defense could easily compensate for speed while he recovers from evolution!

He stepped out from the bush. "Thank you, Demeter--you perked Diddy right up!"

[Not a problem at all.] Demeter purred before addressing Diddy. [Remember this lesson--it will serve you well if you practice it.]

Ash watched as Demeter walked away. "I promise I will help you improve on your unique battle style--no matter what happens, I'm here for you."

[Me too!] Diddy smiled. [I look forward to the day I can show Paul--and Demeter--the power of Mega Evolution!]

Ash nodded. "Next time, Paul...we're gonna win!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 76: Danielle's Debut

"It feels good to be back!" Ash cried as he hurried down the path leading to the Hearthome Gym. "Maybe now I can finally face Fantina and test out my musical strategy!"

"Hey, wait for us!" Dawn called as she and Brock hurried to catch up.

As Ash stepped up to the Gym's front door, he did not see the navy haired girl about to exit! "Whoa!" he gasped as he lost his footing and tumbled down the stairs.

"Yipe!" the girl gasped as she tripped, catching herself on a banister before she too joined Ash and Tintri on the ground.

After dusting herself off and checking for injury, she hurried to Ash's side. "Are you okay? That was a bit of a spill you took..."

"I'm okay..." Ash replied as the girl helped him up. "Nothing hurts or feels broken..."

"Let me check you over just in case." the girl offered.

After a few tense moments, the girl retrieved a first aid kit. "The bruises on the arms will go away on their own, but let me get some meds on that elbow."

Ash winced as the girl gently rubbed some ointment on the gash adorning his left elbow. "There we go..." the girl smiled as she stuck a bandage on the gash. "Good as new."

"Thanks..." Ash smiled.

"Don't mention it." the girl smiled.

As the girl departed, Tintri noticed a Badge case that the girl had dropped. [Funny...our friend left behind her Badge case...]

Piqued, Ash opened the case and examined the three Badges inside. "I don't recognize the first two, but the third one is clearly the Badge here..."

As the others rejoined Ash in the square, Fantina stepped out from the Gym. "Bon matin, Ash!"

"That means 'good morning'." Brock translated. "Particularly the version of 'good morning' you use when you see someone for the first time that morning."

He looked back at Fantina. Bonjour, Fantina--comment allez-vous?

Je vais bien, merci. Fantina replied back.

She noticed the Badge case in Ash's hands. "Oh, that is the case my last challenger carried! Luckily, she lives here in town, so you have a chance to get it back to her!"

"Once I do that, may I challenge you next?" Ash asked.

"Pas encore--my team must rest from my previous match." Fantina replied. "But they will be ready to go by tomorrow! I look forward to seeing your strategy!"

"Okay..." Ash replied. I'll see you then."

"If you're curious, 'pas encore' means 'not yet'." Brock translated as the group turned to leave.

"I see..." Ash mused. "I've waited this long for a match so I can wait a little longer--right now, let's get this Badge case back to its owner!"


The group arrived at the Pokémon Center some time later There she is.... Ash smiled as he spotted the girl reviewing some footage on a video camera. Now I can return her Badge case...

He approached the girl's table. "Um...you left this behind back at the Gym..."

"Oh, you found my badge case! Thank you!" the girl smiled as Ash handed the case to her. "I would've never forgiven myself if I lost it!"

She looked Ash over for a moment. "Oh, you're the Ash Ketchum that played Robin Hood at the theater some months ago! You did very well with the role, I might add. You've got a knack for heroic characters!"

"Aw, it was nothin'." Ash smiled, flattered the girl knew who he was. "I was just trying to play up his role as both a hero and a trickster."

He turned business-like again. "So, since you know me, can I get to know you a bit?"

"The name's Danielle Shaw--trainer, performer, tinker, and aspiring filmmaker." the girl replied.

"Nice to meet you--I'm Dawn, an aspiring coordinator." Dawn replied.

Danielle smiled. "Loved your take on Maid Marian. But the best part? You did well portraying both Maid Marian's strength and grace."

"Thanks." Dawn smiled before making a grand gesture to Brock. "And this is Brock, our resident Loremaster and navigator."

"I was in the play too..." Brock interjected.

"Better put actor on that resume--you fit Alan-a-dale to a tee!" Danielle smiled. "Even the costume was amazing!"

"Thanks." Brock smiled. "Since you reviewed how the others did, how did I do with my role?"

"Everything a minstrel should be." Danielle explained. "I liked your strong and powerful voice, as well as your ability to hit the high notes when it counted."

"Well, it took a lot of practice to get to that point, and it's still something I'm honing today." Brock replied.

"If you don't mind my asking, how did you know about our performance in 'Robin Hood'?" Dawn asked.

"Easy--I am a performer in Hearthome's Fantasia Company, specializing in heroic roles." Danielle explained.

"A theatrical company, huh? What's the difference between a traditional theater and a theatrical company?" Ash asked as he tried to get a glimpse of Danielle's camera.

"A theatrical company's show combines a traditional drama--music, dance, and acting--with stage combat, stage archery, water and aerial acts, martial arts, and even live Pokemon." Danielle explained. "So you don't just watch a Fantasia show--you experience it!"

"Sounds amazing!" Dawn smiled. "We'll have to come see your latest show, whenever that is."

Danielle, meanwhile, was intrigued by Ash's own Badge case. "So? What badges do you have?"

"So far..." Ash began as he opened his own Badge case and invited Danielle to look. "I have Oreburgh's Coal Badge, Eterna's Forest Badge, Veilstone's Cobble Badge, and Pastoria's Fen Badge--and hoping to add the Relic Badge to that list!"

Then something occurred to him. "Has Fantina told you about a guy named Paul?"

Danielle bristled at Paul's name. "Yeah, Fantina told me about the Paul you speak of--had a dour look on his face, and treated his Pokemon like tools!"

She went on "I don't know how you train your team, but whatever your strategy is, you are way better than Paul could ever be!"

"That makes me feel a little better..." Ash mused. "He always calls me 'Wonder Boy' and makes fun of how I love and trust everyone on my team."

"From what I heard about him, all Paul cares about is winning and raw power." Danielle grumbled. "Not only does that rub me the wrong way, it's gonna cost him dearly in the end."

She smiled as she noticed Tintri. "But you're different from him, Ash--judging from how your Pikachu trusts you enough to sit on your shoulder, you care about your Pokemon, and treat them well."

"Do you have any of your team with you?" Brock asked.

"Just my partner Rio right now." Danielle replied. "We can head for the yard and do an introduction there."


"Come on out, Rio!" Danielle heaved a Poke Ball skyward, revealing a Piplup wearing a sapphire circlet in the yard.

"Aw, you have a Piplup too!" Dawn gasped.

Inspired, she heaved all four of her Poke Balls skyward. "Come on out, everyone!"

"You guys, too!" Ash heaved all six Poke Balls skyward.

"And you guys!" Brock heaved all six of his own Poke Balls skyward.

Danielle and Rio looked over each of the group's teams. "Pretty eclectic cast you have here between the three of you..."

[Hi, I'm Kori!] Kori waved a fin at Rio.

[I'm Lola!] Lola waved hello.

[I'm Stormy!] Stormy smiled, to Rio's bemusement.

My name is Satomi. Satomi smiled as she twirled and bowed before Rio. Is that a real crown or a prop?

[It's part of a costume--I originally wore this when I played the companion to my mistress' magic knight in a past show.] Rio explained.

"But he grew to love wearing it so much, he almost never takes it off." Danielle smiled.

"Sounds like Tarina, my Pichu." Brock admitted as Tarina bowed before Rio.

"Here's my team..." Ash gestured to his Pokemon. "Tintri was my first...Gaia I adopted back in Oreburgh....Diddy wanted to come with me after I helped him save the Pokemon he cared for...Tails I caught in Sapphire Cove...Estrella was my first catch here..."

"Eh-streh-yah!" Brock corrected Ash, making Danielle giggle.

Ash was unfazed. "...and Erin was a gift from the Veilstone Gym Leader--as thanks for giving her a great battle."

"Nice...you've done very well caring for them." Danielle smiled. "I believe they have the potential to grow even stronger."

"I'll do my best." Ash smiled. "If we ever do meet on the battlefield, it'll be a clash for the ages!"

"I look forward to that match, too--if and when it comes." Danielle agreed as she and Ash linked pinkies. "Promise me that you'll reach the Shinou League, so we can hopefully battle together."

Ash nodded. "We'll give the people of Shinou a show they'll never forget, regardless of who wins and who loses!"


"So, are you gonna come watch my match against Fantina in the morning?" Ash asked.

"Sure! Danielle replied before showing Ash her video camera. "Is it okay if I film the match? This way you can evaluate yourself, and I can get an idea for how you battle. If you don't want me to film, I understand."

"Knowing the camera's rolling is extra motivation!" Ash smiled.

He looked out at the setting sun. "Fantina...have I got a show for you!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 77a: Shield with a Twist (part 1)

"Representing the Diamond side, Ash Ketchum of Kanto and Tintri!" a referee announced. "And representing the Pearl side, the alluring, soulful dancer; Fantina!"

The doors on the Pearl side opened, revealing Fantina twirling in a sparkling light. "Finally, you have arrived! Since I came here to Shinou, I have always tried to learn new things. So are you ready to see the show I have put together for you?"

"You're not gonna beat me this time!" Ash vowed.

He turned his cap back. "I'll have my fifth Badge very soon!"

Fantina smiled. "Ah, but remember that I will not give up the Relic Badge so easily!"

In the stands, Danielle watched as the referee counted Ash and Fantina down. "Here we go! Ash vs. Fantina, take 1..."


"Welcome to Majolica Town..." Jupiter mused as she and Mars arrived in a town overlooking a lake. "Looks like a quaint little place--I could use a break from our scouting mission."

A sign on a lamppost snapped her to attention. "Hey, Mars--there's a Pokémon Contest going on today!"

"Really?" Mars waited no time changing into the red diamond costume of her alter ego Marta. "Finally I have a chance to make some progress! I'm gonna be one of the best Grand Coordinators the world has ever seen!"

With that, she dashed to the Contest Hall at the east end of the town square, giggling all the while. "Hey, wait for me!" Jupiter called as she dashed across the elegant cobblestone square to find Mars...


Ash smiled as he retrieved his Pokeflute. "Try to get my good side, if you can!" he called to Danielle, who was filming from one of the higher rows in the stands.

"I've already got the good side of your looks, now give Fantina a show to remember!" Danielle smiled back.

"The match will be three-on-three." the referee explained. "The first side to knock out the other side's team, wins."

Fantina nodded. "Noir, allez!"

Dawn gasped as a Gengar materialized above the battlefield, gently bobbing up and down in midair. She set her fiddle aside long enough to read up on the large grinning Pokemon:

"Gengar, the shadow Pokemon. To steal the life of its target, it slips into the prey's shadow and silently waits for an opportunity.

A MORE... icon got her attention. "Gengar is capable of Mega Evolution if the trainer has an awakened Heart Song."

Spurred on by the plinking harmonics of Brock's guitar giving him a semblance of a beat, Ash first played an A note, spurring Tails to run into the arena, aware of the beat all the while.

Once sure Tails was ready, a referee's whistle pierced through the gentle wave of guitar harmonics and tapping feet filling the room. Spurred by the whistle, Ash started the first tune to come to mind--'The Swellow's Tail'.

Tails nodded--the tune's main melody meant Aqua Jet. Dawn joined in on fiddle to musically cheer for Ash as Tails slammed into Noir.

Fantina seemed almost giddy as she observed Ash and his "band" in the stands, playing the tune. "Quel créatif! I never thought to command Pokemon through the power of music! But will you be performing a victory march, or the dirge of defeat?"

Danielle gasped as she filmed Noir warping away from another Aqua Jet. "If it's any consolation, I had to deal with many of the same tactics Fantina is using."

"I'm more worried about the Ability Levitate--which most Ghost-type Pokémon seem to have." Brock mused as he continued his harmonic beat.

"Relax--so long as Ash doesn't have a Ground type, or attempts to use a Ground move, he'll be fine." Danielle assured Brock.

"No matter what attack song you play, Noir can dodge it!" Fantina boasted. "So does your musical have a few numbers about speed?"

Ash just played the first few notes of the B section of "The Swellow's Tail"--the signal for Sonic Boom. However, the sound waves missed Noir and fizzled out against the wall.

Fantina was unfazed. "Hmph. Nothing to see on this stage, folks--move along."

She twirled a little in time to the song Ash and the others performed. "And now, for the big show! I give you Noir, the Great Darkness!"

At this, Noir circled Tails in the blink of an eye before shooting upwards. "Noir, use Shadow Punch!"

Tails tried to dodge, but was slammed against the Diamond safety barrier by a shadowy fist. "Okay, Noir--silence our merry band with Hypnosis!" Fantina called.

Ash lifted a hand to signal the group he was changing tunes. Inspired, Dawn started a rousing rendition of "The Thunderbolt Reel". Ash joined in his signature tune moments later. The song was the signal for Tails to spin on his back and use Water Gun. This created a whirlpool of water whips around Noir, making his Hypnosis fizzle out.

"Wow! Never seen a move like that before!" Danielle raved as she filmed the whipping tornado of water.

"Noir, hold still! You're going to take damage from the water whips!" Fantina instructed her Gengar as "The Thunderbolt Reel" ended. She winced as Noir was lashed again and again in a watery tornado.

"Just what did Tails do?" Dawn asked as she retuned a flat D string.

"I don't know, but I've never seen Ash do anything like it before in all my trips with him!" Brock raved as he retuned a slightly flat A string.

"Whatever you just did, Ash--keep that strategy up!" Danielle called.

"That was an amazing technique!" Fantina was just as impressed as she recalled her fainted Gengar. "What shall we call it? The Counter Shield?"

"That sounds good to me!" Ash smiled.

"Noir is unable to battle! This match's winner is Diamond!" the referee announced, spurring Ash to cheer.

"I can't believe how easily Ash won the first round!" Danielle gasped as she filmed Ash recalling Tails. "When I battled Fantina for the first time, I was unable to beat even one of Fantina's Pokémon!"

"Well, Ash shouldn't be resting on his laurels yet..." Brock cautioned. "Fantina's second verse is the same as the first!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 77b: Shield with a Twist! (part 2)

Back at the Contest Hall, the crowd applauded the previous coordinator's appeal. "Everyone is doing great so far!" Marian told the crowd as a leaderboard appeared on the scoreboard. "But it is still only the first round of appeals, so it is still anyone's game!"

She consulted the list of coordinators. "Next is number M-32209--Marta Bryant and Leona!"

Applause filled the air as the disguised Mars and Leona made their way to the stage. "Come on!" Jupiter cheered as Mars blew a few kisses to the excited crowd. "You can do it!"

"Okay, Leona...Charm this crowd!" Marta commanded.

Leona nodded, then fired a volley of hearts in the air. The audience gained heart eyes as Leona struck cute pose after cute pose, a ring of hearts circling around her like a necklace. As two hearts appeared under Marta's picture, the coordinators that had used a Cute move shuddered at the smirking Purugly...


"Do your worst, Fantina!" Ash vowed as he performed a few sword moves with his Pokeflute. "I will defeat your spooky charms with the power of song!"

"Ah, but I have a few tricks of my own, my dear musicien!" Fantina smiled.

She heaved a Poke Ball skyward. "Sorcière, let's go!"

A ghostly Pokemon that resembled a witch materialized on the Pearl side of the arena. "A funny thing about the Misdreavus family...it can't learn Hypnosis!" Fantina went on.

"WHAT????" Dawn gasped.

"Wouldn't Fantina be putting herself at a disadvantage?" Danielle asked as she zoomed in to get a good shot of Sorcière.

"Actually, it is common for Gym Leaders to tell the opponent and the audience their techniques." Brock explained. "We're not spoiling our strategy when we do this--our goal is to test the challenger. Once they know what we're doing in the arena, we watch to see how they respond. This give and take is the backbone of a good match."

"That makes perfect sense." Danielle replied. "You don't want to confound your opponent with tactics they have no chance against. By showing them the method to your madness, they adapt their strategy accordingly."

"That's right." Brock smiled as he checked his guitar's tuning.

In the arena, Ash thought back to Fantina's appeal competition with Zoey some days before. I have already seen this Pokemon's attacks before! So I should know how to defend it!

He readied his Pokeflute to play again. So since Sorcière knows Magical Leaf...I'll play Diddy into battle next!

With that, he started the tune "Fire on the Mountain". The song spurred Diddy to create a Flame Wheel, which Sorcière warped away from.

Not one to be deterred, Diddy turned around and leaped towards Sorcière, a wheel of white fire surrounding him as Ash and the "band" played on. "This is so cool!" Danielle raved as the video camera caught every moment of the glowing white flames and Fantina's shocked face on film.

Fantina composed herself, then called "Sorcière, use Psywave!"

Ash stumbled over a wrong note at the attack. He watched in shock as a volley of rainbow waves caused the white Flame Wheel to fizzle out, with Diddy plummeting to the ground seconds later.

Okay, we'll try a motivational tune next... he thought, starting a second tune.

The song prompted Diddy to spin and use Flamethrower, creating a white hot shield of gold fire. Sorcière tried deflecting the fire with Psywave, but still ended up knocked to the ground from the flames. "Don't give up, Sorcière! Try Magical Leaf!" Fantina called over the music.

Sorcière conjured a volley of glowing leaves, but they became bursts of red within the flaming shield. After a few tense moments, the red leaves overpowered the fire, making the shield fizzle out. "Wow...I thought I had learned everything about the Counter Shield when you used it before...incroyable!"

"I'm not done yet!" Ash vowed before starting "Fire on the Mountain" again, spurring Diddy to form another Flame Wheel.

"Sorcière, use Dark Pulse!" Fantina commanded.

She balked as the waves of dark energy were countered by another gold flaming shield! When the song ended and the flames cleared some moments later, the Mismagius lay swirly eyed at Fantina's feet. "Sorcière is unable to battle--Diamond wins!" the referee announced.

[Yes!] Diddy smiled. [I can feel my speed coming back to me now!]

He looked back at Ash. [Although some burning passionate tunes always help, as well!]

The mood in the stands was just as ecstatic. "Way to go, Ash!" Danielle called as she filmed Ash and Diddy sharing a big hug. "Only one Pokemon remains between you and glory now! I hope you've saved your best tunes for last, because Act 3 is the hardest opponent!"

To Be Continued...