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Pokemon Shine Diamond


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 77c: Shield with a Twist! (part 3)

"Leona, finish with Shadow Ball!" Mars commanded.

The crowd roared at the shadowy fireworks Mars' Purugly made, maxing out the meter! "And with that show of power, we have a winner!" Marian announced as fourteen rainbow hearts appeared under Mars' picture. "Number M-32209--Marta Bryant and Leona!"

More cheers filled the room as Mars and Leon approached the judge's table. "Congratulations, Marta..." Jordan smiled as she gave Mars an orange and white ribbon...


"Esprit, allez! Fantina called as her Drifblim arrived in the arena. "You've met Esprit, but now he is much stronger and much more beautiful than ever before!"

"If that's your trademark Pokemon, then I'll show you mine!" Ash shot back before starting "The Thunderbolt Reel"--his signature tune.

With his master playing him into battle, Tintri fired a Thunderbolt into the air, creating a sparkling whorl around him. But Ash stumbled over a wrong note when he saw Esprit blow the electricity away with Psychic waves. "WHAATT???"

"Ah, but all good things must come to an end, my dear musicien!" Fantina smirked. "Behold, the Twin Counter Shield!"

[Oh no...] Tintri gasped as Esprit conjured up a Will-O-Wisp, then used Psychic to to create his own Counter Shield of ghostly blue flames. Tintri tried knocking it away with Thunderbolt, but the ghostly shield turned Tintri's own attack back on him! [Ash, I'm sorry...]

Ash growled as he gripped his Pokeflute. "I will commend you for building on my strategy..." he told Fantina. "But I'm not out yet! I'll just fight fire with fire!"

He next started "Fire on the Mountain" again, spurring Diddy to return to the arena. [My kind of music!] Diddy smiled as he rolled towards Esprit, creating a huge Flame Wheel. The white gold shield of fire broke through the ghostly shield, sending Esprit flying towards the Pearl safety barrier.

Fantina smirked. So that's his little game, is it?

She called over the music "Esprit, use Ominous Wind!"

The tune faded away as Ash watched the purple wind blades diffuse the flames, sending Diddy flying back against the Diamond safety barrier. [I'm sorry...] Diddy gasped before he fainted.

"Both sides now have one Pokemon remaining!" the referee announced.

"Wow...who know Fantina would come roaring back like that?" Danielle gasped.

"Quick--what was the other set Ash planned to use for Tails?" Dawn asked as she retuned.

"'The Silver Sword' and 'The Hunt of the Ninetales'." Brock replied as he retuned a flat D string. "Let's play Ash some backup to let him know we still believe in him!"
Inspired, Ash led his companions into "The Silver Sword"; spurring Tails to return to the arena. [Bring it on, ghostie!] he taunted over his master's Pokeflute, and the fiddle and guitar in the stands.

Esprit started conjuring another Will-o-Wisp, aware of Tails charging at him with Aqua Jet. The wave of water broke through the ghostly flames, leaving Esprit vulnerable!

SAY... Ash thought as he transitioned into "The Hunt of the Ninetales". The tune spurred Tails to roll away from Ominous Wind, sneak up behind Esprit, grab him, and smacked it to the floor.

Esprit attempted to use Hypnosis, but Tails fired an Ice Beam, freezing Esprit solid as the group played the tune's final note!

"Well played, Diamond." the referee smiled as he applauded the performance. "Your musical strategy has paid off--Pearl is unable to battle."

"YES!" Danielle cried.

Fantina sighed as she came to collect Esprit. "Esprit...you have done well."

She looked over at Ash. "You are so fantastically strong. I know now why I have lost. The song in your heart never wavered, even when you were up against the wall."

"Thanks." Ash smiled before recalling Tails.


That evening, the group and Danielle met Fantina in the Gym's plaza. "Ash...you truly know how to put on a show--both on the stage, and in the arena." she began.

She offered Ash a familiar badge. "For your efforts here, and in remembrance of our musical battle, I hereby award you the Relic Badge."

"Thank you--I hope to be back again someday, with new songs and a new show for you!" Ash replied as he accepted the badge.

He looked over at Danielle as the group departed. "So, where are you going next?"

"I'm going to Iron Island..." Danielle replied. "I've trained there before, so I was able to win a Badge from the Canalave Gym. You can really see the resemblance between Byron and Roark!"

Dawn spread out a map on Shinou on the ground. "Canalave City is on the very western edge of Shinou, and Iron Island is north of there."

Oh yeah, Roark said that the Canalave leader was his dad... Ash remembered. "Since I wanna take on Byron next, why don't we all go there together?"

"Sure!" Danielle smiled.

She gave Ash the small thumb drive containing the video of his match with Fantina. "No matter what happens, you will always be my friendly rival in Pokemon and in performing!"

"You can film all my battles, if you like!" Ash agreed as the group walked into the setting sun...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: Chambers on the Way to Canalave

As an elegant airship soared through the skies leading to Canalave City, the group and Danielle got together in the common room. "Now THIS is way better than trying to walk to Canalave!" Danielle smiled.

"I'll say..." Ash agreed as he smiled at Tarina watching the clouds passing by the window.

[Just how long would it take to get to Canalave City on foot?] Tarina wondered.

"A little more than two weeks, sweetie." Brock replied as he reached for his guidebook. "This is assuming weather conditions are good and you don't run into any major delays."

Tarina shuddered at the thought of the travel time rain would add on to their trip. [Maybe it's a good thing we're flying there.]

"It's still a long way there..." Danielle reminded Tarina. "So I hope you guys packed something to do for the trip."

"That, I did." Ash smiled, triumphantly holding up his Chambers and Charizards set for the others to see.

Danielle's eyes lit up. "Oh, sweet--I've always wanted to try out a tabletop RPG!"

"Well, come join us over here, and we'll get started." Ash motioned for Danielle to join the others at a table near the right side of the room.

"Brock is a very good dungeon master." Dawn agreed. "No question is too stupid--he'll answer it for you all the same. "Have a question about a class build? He'll answer it. "Confused about what just happened in the adventure? He'll tell you. Want to know why he gave a character the voice he did? He'll even answer that."

"Nice, an immersive dungeon master." Danielle smiled as Ash passed her a character sheet. "Let's see here...what are you guys playing?"

"I'm using my go-to battlemage wizard." Ash replied. "They are basically Final Fantasy red mages, often wielding magical swords called mageblades, or magical bows called magebows."

"The mageblade battlemage shares a lot of skills with the various magic knight builds." Brock explained as he unpacked some adventure books. "If you have a question about which class to pick, or what role they play in the party, just ask."

"I'm playing a lightgiver cleric." Dawn explained. "They are mainly healers and supporters, but they have some offensive skills too."

"Okay..." Danielle looked over the various classes detailed in the Player's Guide.

"Which classes are standing out for you right now?" Brock asked. "I can help narrow down which class and build would work for you."

"Ash has the archery and offensive magic covered...Dawn's got the defense and healing covered..." Danielle mused. "So I'm thinking of a quick physical class with maybe a little magic."

"All right...an arcane rogue would work." Brock suggested. "As would a swordsong minstrel and a earthblade ranger. A runeblade would also work if you want a more agile magic knight.

"What do those do?" Danielle was curious.

"The swordsong minstrel is your more offense based minstrel." Brock explained. "The spellsong build--what I prefer to play when I get a chance to play a character--is a bit more balanced. The earthblade ranger is a sword based ranger that only uses a bow when melee weapons are not feasible or possible. An arcane rogue is exactly what it says on the box--a rogue with magical ability. While not as powerful as a pure magic class, they have some spells unique to them. A runeblade draws out the power of magical rapiers to attack, so a lot of the skills and runeblade NPCs have Kalosian names as a nod to their fencing background."

Danielle thought for a moment. "I'll go with the swordsong minstrel--I like the idea of fighting with music."


Brock cued some introductory music from his PokeNav. "The town of Kingsburg lies at the base of a series of rolling hills." he begins. "No one knows for sure how long the town has existed; although most agree it has stood in some form for more than three hundred years."

He acknowledged Tarina with a nod as he continued reading the adventure's introduction. "Kingsburg appears like any other town in the land, with one notable exception—its graveyard."

Kori and Rio shuddered at the thought of zombies and skeletons as Brock continued. "Built on and in the nearby hills, the graveyard has existed for centuries. Some of the townsfolk believe the graveyard predates the community, and nearly all the people living in Kingsburg take a particular pride in that fact..."


"...No one in the town knows who he was or why the statue was erected here, but the townsfolk live in awe of the monument." Brock concluded the introduction some time later. "While the common folk have no fear of their maintained graveyard, few venture up to visit the forgotten king."

"Spooky..." Danielle mused as the intro music ended. "So, what do we, the heroes, know?"

"You know that two days ago, a family of mourners ventured into the graveyard, and never returned." Brock explained. "A pair of guards investigated, but they vanished as well. The townsfolk are in a panic. They've always heard rumors of disturbances in graveyards and tombs, but never has such misfortune struck in their town. They look to heroes--you guys--for aid."

He looks over at Danielle and Rio. "As a minstrel, Irina has often heard the legend of the forgotten king. She knows that somewhere near Kingsburg lies an ancient overlord resting with his servants and all their treasure."

"I wonder if the disturbance in the graveyard has anything to do with the legend?" Danielle muses in character.

"Let's go find out!" Ash suggests in character. Dawn nods in agreement.

Tarina smiled as Brock cued some ambience of a fantasy inn, complete with a singing minstrel. [Danielle's got this role playing thing down!] she smiled as she watched Ash, Dawn, Brock, and Danielle role play an urgent conversation in the tavern.

[Well, she is a performer by trade, so it makes sense she knows how to play a character.] Tintri mused.

[Maybe if the singin' and storytellin' doesn't work out, Coach would make an excellent actor...] Kage agreed. [Stage or screen!]

[Who needs TV when we have our own little show right here?] Erin smiled as she nimbly leaped on the windowsill to watch the unfolding game...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 78a: Sleepless in Pre-Battle! (part 1)

"Lightless space gives way to your illumination, revealing a restricted, steeply sloping tunnel that is maybe 5 feet wide and 7 feet tall. Posts of green wood hold up the walls." Brock read the introduction to the group's second adventure.

The intercom snapped the group from their game. Now arriving in Canalave City.

"Oh, well...we can start this adventure again next time." Danielle mused as she helped Ash put away the game.

Please make sure your personal belongings are accounted for, and take small children and Pokemon by the hand. the announcement went on. Thank you for flying with us!


"Welcome to Canalave City...the town that rises from the water." Brock mused as the group departed the airport.

"I can definitely see why." Ash smiled as he spotted ships approaching a harbor far off in the distance.

"In addition to the Gym, Canalave is home to one of the biggest libraries in Shinou." Danielle pointed out a majestic building that evoked an ancient temple in the distance. "Very handy for research, or just reading for fun. If I've never performed a play before, I like to come to the library and read it to get a feel for my role."

"What's the mythology and folklore section like?" Brock was intrigued.

"Huge." Danielle smiled. "Anything you ever wanted to know about the folklore and mythology of Shinou and elsewhere is in there."

"Nice--we may have to stop by and look around." Ash smiled.

[There's gotta be gazillions of picture books in there!] Tarina gasped, starry eyed over the library.

"I'm sure there's a good sized kids' section in there." Brock assured Tarina as the group rounded a corner near the Gym.

Ash suddenly heard a scream from inside the Gym. "What was that?"

He noticed a young man he assumed to be the referee hurrying outside. "What's going on, sir?" he asked.

"Everyone's been having nightmares, and no one knows why." the young man explained. "No matter what we do, most people never wake up. If someone does wake up, they're afraid to go to sleep again."

Then, he remembered something. "If you're looking for Byron, he is away training on Iron Island."

Dawn laid a hand on Ash's shoulder. "It's okay--there's bound to be more to do around here while we wait for Byron to get back. Besides, they say the shopping around here is very good, since it's so close to a harbor."

A smile formed on Ash's face. "Okay...I can at least take a look and see if GameWorld or Digiland have any deals or promos today..."


"This is really weird...." Danielle mused as she, Dawn, and Ash wandered the deserted hallways of a mall. "It's not like the Canalave Plaza to be deserted like this...usually this place is bustling with millions of people! That, and there's always something going on on the central stage!"

"That explains why I've been playing to the empty hallways for the past fifteen minutes..." Brock sighed as he rejoined the group in the food court.

"Maybe we could ask Officer Jenny what's going on?" Dawn suggested.

"Yeah...she would know what to do!" Ash smiled. "Let's go!"


"I'm sure you've noticed that all the people in town are having nightmares." Officer Jenny explained as she met the group in a lounge. "We're not 100% sure on the cause of the nightmares, but many of them are consistent with appearances of the Pokémon Darkrai."

She pulls out a familiar neon green feather that resembled a crescent moon from a drawer. "I paid good money for this Lunar Wing, but it doesn't seem to be working..."

"Is it okay if we can look at it under some kind of magnification?" Brock asked as he pulled out the magnifying glass attachment from a deep green survival knife.

"Sure..." Officer Jenny set down the feather on a table.

"Dawn, is it okay if I borrow your Lunar Wing for comparison?" Brock asked.

"Sure." Dawn quickly unclipped her Lunar Wing from her bag and set it on the table.

After turning to a chapter on how to identify Lunar Wings, Brock carefully looked over both Lunar Wings for a moment. "Based on what I can see here, the one Officer Jenny got is just a painted Pidgey feather."

He went on "Dawn's Lunar Wing is legit--it has the glowing aura and diagonal feather weave a real Lunar Wing should have. The fake Lunar Wing has the criss-cross pattern consistent with Pidgey feathers, and had some white splotches that you can only see under magnification, which was a clue someone had likely painted it."

"Detective Brock solves the case!" Ash smiled as Brock closed up his survival knife.

"The case isn't solved yet, everyone--the real question is who could've created this fake, and why." Brock replied. "The case of the city-wide nightmares is only just beginning!"

"If you need another lead, Detective, the library is always open for research." Officer Jenny smiled. "There may be a clue in the legend of Darkrai and Cresselia."

"This couldn't be the same Darkrai we met in Alamos Town...could it?" Ash wondered

"Let's pay a visit to the library and find out." Dawn suggested as she re-clipped on her Lunar Wing.

"I'll continue doing my due diligence as well." Officer Jenny offered. "If I find any more leads, I'll let you guys know!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: Once Upon a Clue

"Wow..." Ash gasped as the group arrived in the Canalave Library later that afternoon.

"Where do we even begin to look for information about Darkrai and Cresselia?" Dawn wondered as she looked up at the library's majestic foyer in awe.

"Folklore and mythology is on the second floor." Danielle explained as she led the way to a staircase past the front desk and a branching hallway leading to the children's department.

"Let me drop off Tarina in the kids' area, then we'll go upstairs." Brock assured the others as he led Tarina into the children's department.

Once sure Tarina was comfortable on a beanbag chair, Brock told her "If you need anything, ask one of the librarians. If you get in trouble, see someone in danger, or someone acting suspicious, tell one of the security officers, okay?"

[Got it!] Tarina smiled.

"If you need me, I'm in the folklore and mythology section on the second floor." Brock went on. "I'll come get you when we're done with our research."

[Okay!] With that, Tarina hurried off towards the fairy tale section as Brock reunited with the group in the main foyer.

After arriving on the second floor, Danielle led the group down a hallway, where several shelves were labeled "398.2--Mythology and Folklore". "Okay, everyone--let's go find some books." she began. "While you'll have the most luck looking at Shinou lore, I wouldn't rule out other regions."

"Yeah--one region's lore may have a counterpart in another region." Ash agreed. "Or somehow turn up in another region's lore based on ancient exploration."

"Case in point--Kitsune, the holy Delphox, and very well traveled from her home region of Kalos." Brock smiled.


"All right, let's see what everyone found..." Danielle smiled as the group studied their own pile of books some time later.

"According to 'Mythology of Shinou', Cresselia has the power to dispel nightmares, and holding one of its feathers--a Lunar Wing--is said to bring happy dreams." Dawn noted.

"If we end up having nightmares tonight and Dawn sleeps well, she is the designated caffeinated drink buyer." Ash smiled. "I'm not old enough for coffee yet, so a Verde Power will do the job."

"That stuff is an Arceus-send for long rehearsal days." Danielle grinned before turning her attention back to one of her books. "'Legendary Pokemon of Shinou' says that Cresselia is the only Pokemon that can learn Lunar Dance."

"I wonder how appealing that move would be..." Dawn smiled. "Not that I would ever use a Legendary in a contest--I'm just curious."

Ash consulted his Pokedex. "Lunar Dance is an amazing Beautiful move that only Cresselia can use. It has a whopping eight point base appeal."

"Imagine how that would look in a Contest..." Brock agreed.

Ash turned his attention back to one of his books. "It says here that Darkrai is known to 'inhabit' dreams and causes the target to have unending nightmares, which can be stopped if exposed to a Lunar Wing from Cresselia. However, the "unleashing of nightmares" is actually a defense mechanism, instead of an intentionally malicious act, unlike what all the folktales say. So it could very well be the same Darkrai we met in Alamos Town."

"As our resident storyteller, what did you find?" Dawn asked.

"I found the legend of Darkrai and Cresselia Officer Jenny was telling us about earlier..." Brock replied as he skimmed over one particular story in the book 'Folktales of Shinou'. "Basically, this version of Darkrai is the evil one we see in almost every folktale. According to the story, he gives the people nightmares because he wants to rule the world. A girl embarks on the quest to find a Lunar Wing when her brothers try and fail Cresselia's test of courage--spend the night in a haunted cave. She makes it through the night unscathed, and Cresselia gives her a Lunar Wing. She then uses the light of the Lunar Wing to scare Darkrai away, saving the people."

"There is a grain of truth to the story..." Danielle interjected. "Does that version say anything about Full Moon Island and its features?"

Brock thumbed a few pages through the book. "According to the story, the girl and her brothers find Cresselia on a small island largely covered in forest. A short path cuts through the forest, and leads to a shaded clearing with a pond shaped like a crescent moon. Cresselia, of course, awaits in this pond to test worthy comers."

"That's Fullmoon Island, all right." Danielle smiled.

She looked at the clock. "Lucky for us, the library closes at 10, so do you want to do any more research, or check any books out?"

"Do we need a library card to check anything out?" Ash asked as he cleaned up his workspace.

"Nope--anyone from anywhere can check books out here." Danielle replied. "You can also send'em back no matter where you are in the world, thanks to library dropoff machines at any Pokemon Center."

"That is convenient." Brock smiled. "I'll check out a few folktale books for reading and learning some more tales. That, and seeing if Tarina wants to take any books, too."

He motioned to Dawn. "If you do wanna make a coffee run in the morning, a mocha from any Char's or Pokebucks is fine."

"I do recall a Char's nearby the Pokemon Center, so I'll keep that in mind." Dawn replied. "Some of the best cheeseburgers ever!"

To Be Continued...
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The magic of Pokemon
Episode 78b: Sleepless in Pre-Battle! (part 2)

"Good morning, guys!" Dawn smiled as she arrived with a Char's bag. "I brought breakfast!"

"Thank Arceus for the coffee..." Brock yawned.

"What's the matter?" Dawn asked as Danielle passed Ash a can of Verde Power.

"We couldn't sleep at all last night!" Ash complained. "I dreamed I was knocked out in the preliminaries of the Shinou League!"

"I dreamt I was in the worst production ever!" Danielle went on. "It was so bad, the curtain had to be rung down--and that's a theatrical company's worst nightmare!"

"I dreamt I was trying to tell stories in the worst venue ever--I remember the crowd even threw Tamato Berries at me." Brock sighed as Dawn passed him a frozen mocha and a breakfast burrito.

"Did you have a nightmare too?" Ash asked as he bit into the waffle sandwich he had requested.

"Nope!" Dawn smiled. "I dreamed I won the Grand Festival, then traveled to other regions and won their Grand Festivals too!"

"Wait a minute..." Ash remembered. "If we all had nightmares, but Dawn only had good dreams..."

"That means that Darkrai is really here, and we have to awaken Cresselia." Brock explained. "Dawn was protected thanks to her Lunar Wing."

"Okay...there is a ferry that goes to Fullmoon Island hourly." Danielle explained. "I'll be moving on on my own trip, so don't freak out if you find me gone later, okay?"

"Got it." Ash replied as he hugged Danielle. "Safe travels, and put your all into your next role!"

The group did not notice Mars and Jupiter following them as they departed the Pokemon Center and made their way to the dock. "What an opportunity!" Mars smiled. "Not only can we take Hat boy's Pikachu for ourselves; we can also give the boss a Legendary as a gift!"

"Imagine how floored Cyrus would be if we gave him Cresselia!" Jupiter agreed. "We could not only create the new world, but control its dreams, too!"


"According to the story, the girl and her brothers found Cresselia in the middle of a lake after passing through the forest." Brock reminded Ash and Dawn as they walked through a forest.

"But this is the third forest we've been through, and I don't see a lake yet!" Dawn complained.

Ash suddenly noticed a familiar glowing green feather on the ground. "A Lunar Wing...we must be close!"

Kori sniffed the air. [Do you guys smell something?]

She sighed as a Psyduck waddled by. [Never mind, it was just a Psyduck...]

"Maybe we can enlist Satomi's psychic powers to help us find the lake...] Brock suggested.

"Great idea!" Dawn heaved a Poke Ball skyward. "Satomi, I need you!"

Yes? Satomi replied as she materialized on the path.

Dawn showed Satomi a picture of Cresselia from a book. "We're here to find this Pokemon so everyone in Canalave can sleep tonight. Can you try and sense where Cresselia is?"

Okay! Satomi replied, excited at seeing a Legendary.

After focusing for a minute, she reported You're not far--the lake you're looking for is just up ahead!

"Lead the way, Satomi." Dawn smiled. She motioned for the group to follow her and the excited Kirlia dancing down the path...


When the group emerged before a lake some moments later, they shielded their eyes from a bright blue light as a beautiful Pokemon with a swan-like body appeared over the water. "She's beautiful!" Ash gasped.

Excited, he read up on the beautiful Pokemon:

"Cresselia, the lunar Pokemon. On nights around the quarter moon, the aurora from its tail extends and undulates beautifully.

Hail, travelers...what brings you all this way? Cresselia asked.

"We come--!" Ash started before he suddenly watched a net come down on top of Cresselia! "Oh no!"

"Unhand Cresselia!" Brock demanded as he spotted Mars and Jupiter hurrying towards a cliff.

"I think not, Sir Minstrel!" Mars shot back before firing a long rope that entangled the group. Satomi, however, managed to roll away from the rope.

"Satomi, try to knock down the admins with Psychic!" Dawn called as she struggled to free herself.

[HAAAAAAAH!!!!] Satomi fired a blue blast of psychic energy, but was knocked back from the recoil. Not one to be deterred, she fired a second blast, only to be knocked back again.

Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... came an ethereal female voice.
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
at this line, Dawn watched in amazement as Satomi glowed white, growing into a humanoid Pokemon whose body resembled a flowing gown.
Emusto koron zen fine, si...

[Take THIS!!!] Satomi growled before firing a huge blast of light, blinding the admins and sending them flying. Their camp and the group's bindings were engulfed in rainbow light.

"Cresselia!" Ash hurried up to where the admins had dropped Cresselia and carefully lifted the net off of her. "Are you okay?"

I am well, young hero. Cresselia replied. I was the one that sang my Swanna Song to power up your friend's Pokemon...

"Thank you!" Dawn smiled before she read up on what Satomi had become:

"Gardevoir, the embrace Pokemon. It unleashes psychokinetic energy at full power when protecting a trainer it has bonded closely with."

"That explains why she rescued us..." Dawn mused as she pocketed the Pokedex.

And why I would rescue you, Ash, and Brock many times over from any threat. Satomi assured Dawn. I am yours, and you are mine, and no power in heaven or on earth can tear us apart!

Cresselia shook the dirt from her. Now, where were we before those rogues captured me?

"We came all this way because Darkrai is causing trouble." Ash explained. "Can you banish him so the citizens of Canalave City can sleep tonight?"

With pleasure. Cresselia replied as she eyed a familiar shadow Pokemon giggling as it looked out on Canalave City in the distance. Ye who brings nightmares--begone! she commanded, cutting the shadow Pokemon with a blade of psychic energy.

"That was Psycho Cut..." Brock explained.

It is done...Darkrai will not trouble you or the people of the city any more. Cresselia smiled.

"Thanks..." Ash hugged Cresselia. "Now Canalave City can sleep well tonight!"

To Be Continued...
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The magic of Pokemon
Episode 79a: Get Your Rotom Running! (part 1)

Ash drummed a finger on the desk as he watched the phone screen flash "DIALING..." After all that's happened, Prof. Oak deserves an update on my Shinou trip...

The screen displayed Prof. Oak in the lab seconds later. "Hello?"

"Hi, Professor, it's me." Ash began. "We're here in Canalave City, where I hope to win my sixth badge!"

"You're making incredible progress through Shinou, that's for sure." Prof. Oak replied in between bites of an elegant yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

He noticed Diddy and Satomi with the group. "And who might these two be?"

"This is Diddy, my Monferno." Ash explained. "He wanted to come with me like Saria did."

"This is Satomi, professor." Dawn made a grand gesture to the Gardevoir beside her.

A pleasure to meet you, Professor. Satomi smiled as she gave the image of Prof. Oak a little bow.

About then, Ash noticed the cake. "Um, what's the occasion for cake? Your birthday's already passed..."

"This is no ordinary cake, Ash..." Prof. Oak explained. "This is some Old Gateau, a specialty of the Canalave area. In fact, you should be very close to the old mansion that makes it."

Brock thumbed through his guidebook to the chapter on the Canalave area. "Here we go...The Chateau Platina, located north of Canalave, has long been famous for its Old Gateau, a chocolate cake type whose recipe dates all the way back to 1889. Though the family that lived there moved out long ago, the chateau's grounds remain as both living history, and culinary art. Tours depart daily, and include a walkthrough of the bakery that makes the Gateau."

"Cool!" Dawn smiled.

"The Gateau is still made today using the same 130 year old recipe." Brock went on. "In addition to the Gateau, there are concerts in the gardens daily..."

Ash smiled. "Sounds pretty cool! We've got some time to kill waiting for Byron to return, so let's go check it out!"

"Let me know what you think of the Gateau." Prof. Oak smiled before the call ended.


Later, the group emerged from a forest to find the old mansion. "You sure your guidebook's right, Brock?" Ash wondered as he looked up at the majestic mansion.

"Sure, I'm sure...the copyright is this year." Brock replied.

"Actually, a recent storm took out the electricity." a groundskeeper explained as he met the group. "This means the Chateau is closed until the power is back on."

He deviously smiled. "Although if you really want to go inside, they say there are ghosts haunting the Chateau!"

"Ghosts or no ghosts, I'm going in!" Ash sighed.

"Yeah, those are just stories to scare kids at summer camp, anyway..." Dawn agreed.

"Well, I have a vacuum, just in case." Brock smiled.

Ash sighed. "I think that only works in the 'Luigi's Mansion' games, Brock..."

Suddenly, a wind gust spurred the main door of the Chateau to creak open. "Hello?" Dawn called into the foyer as the group came inside.

[Anybody home?] Tarina called.

Just then, Tintri spotted a bluish spark flying down a hall. [What's that?]

"Want to go look?" Ash offered, digging out a flashlight so the group could see in the darkness.

Follow that spark! Satomi agreed as she followed Tintri and the others down the hall.

Dawn shuddered as she heard Brock humming the theme music to "Luigi's Mansion" to calm his nerves. "Not helping, Brock...we may need that vacuum after all..."

After discovering a stairwell at the end of the hallway, the group found themselves in the house's basement. "Huh...this must be the emergency generator or something..." Ash mused.

"The next question is--how to turn it on?" Dawn wondered.

Tintri, meanwhile, felt something sinister close by. [I don't like the looks of that microwave...] he shuddered as he looked over at an unplugged microwave oven on the floor, its door hanging open.

"Maybe we can salvage some of its parts to turn the generator on." Ash suggested as he, Dawn, Brock, and Kori inspected the generator for a power switch.

[Lemme see if this thing is in good condition first.] Tintri mused as he peered inside the microwave.

He did not expect the microwave to transform into an orange and blue ghost Pokemon! [YIPE!!!].

Panicked, Tintri fired a Thunderbolt, which arced around the room, and struck the generator, causing it to come alive with a hum.

"What was that?" Dawn asked as the lights and appliances in the house came back to life.

Tintri looked over at the unscathed microwave [I could've sworn I saw this thing come alive...]

Ash studied the microwave. "Looks like any old microwave to me...you sure you haven't watched too much TV, bud?"

[Yeah, possessed appliances only exist on TV.] Tintri assured himself, forgetting about his bizarre encounter entirely. [Now that the power's on, we can explore it a bit!]

To Be Continued...
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The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: Inside the Chateau

"The Chateau Platin is an icon of Shinou, and well over 3 million visitors from around the world visit each year." Brock read from the guidebook as the group retraced their steps back to the chateau's front gates. "In addition to being a major historic landmark, the house and its gardens have appeared in music videos, movies, and TV series around the world."

"What kinds of TV shows?" Ash was curious.

Brock located the page listing the Chateau's hundreds of media appearances. "It made an appearance on 'As the Poke Ball Turns' as the fictional Charmillion House; bunches of Galarian costume dramas; and many many series on Pokeflix, Shuru, and Orinoco Prime."

"Wait a minute...didn't this place stand in for Parfum Palace in the drama 'The Path of Dreams'?" Dawn asked.

"As a matter of fact, yes!" Ash smiled. "According to the extras on the Season 3 DVD box, they really wanted to film at the real place in Kalos; but the budget didn't allow it. So they filmed it here, and edited it to look like Parfum Palace."

"Cool!" Dawn smiled.

"It's not surprising it has stood in for Parfum Palace when a film crew can't film in Kalos." Brock replied. "The chateau was also built in the same style as the palace, since the original owner traveled through Kalos extensively, and fell in love with the architecture."

He flipped back a page. "In addition to its famous gardens and bakery, it is world famous for its concerts in the huge gazebo, featuring its resident wind band, as well as acts ranging from classical to rock n' roll, and every genre in between."

"I'm sure the band must be amazing to see!" Ash smiled.

"Speaking of which..." Brock smiled, showing Ash a picture of a huge room that evoked a medieval grand hall. "That is where the resident band practices."

"Is the public allowed to watch them practice?" Dawn was excited now.

"Every once in a while, practice sessions are opened to the public, but you're better off hearing them in the gazebo." Brock replied, noting the majestic marble gazebo looming over the hedges off to the left.

He addressed his companions. "So, where should we begin our expedition? Tour the house, the gardens, or the bakery?"

"If you're looking to see the Platina band, they play three times daily in the garden." a tour guide explained. "Once at 9 AM, once at noon, and once at 6 PM."

"Thanks." Dawn smiled before consulting her Poketch's clock. "It's a little after 10:30, so any objections to touring the house first?"

"We could tour the left side of the house, go into the gardens, catch the band's concert, then see the right side of the house and the bakery." Brock suggested. "That way we all get to see everything."

"Works for me!" Ash smiled, oblivious to what looked like a lawnmower peeking through the hedges with a giggle...


"...Mr. Beaumont's son Tristan was an avid music lover, and so the first iteration of the Platina Band was formed for Tristan's sixteenth birthday, as a massive gift from father to son." Brock read from the guidebook as the group strolled through the vast gardens. "According to legend, the band continues to perform today due to a request in Tristan's will that 'a band always be present at the house for my children and the public to enjoy.'."

"That's sweet." Dawn smiled as the group approached the vast courtyard overlooking the gazebo.

"The current iteration of the band stands at 150 strong, all of them masters of their instruments." Brock went on. "The gazebo where they perform overlooks Tristan's bedroom, where he would often watch and listen to them play. A candle is kept burning in the window overlooking the gazebo in Tristan's memory. Band members say that Tristan's spirit watches over them, and spurs them to play their best."

[Aw...] Tintri smiled. [I guess not all ghosts are mean...]

[Yeah--I wouldn't mind seeing Tristan if he haunts this place.] Tails agreed.

"So, what kinds of music do they play?" Dawn asked as people started arriving in the courtyard.

"They play arrangements of classical melodies transcribed for band, songs that the Beaumonts would've heard in concerts, sacred tunes, songs from musicals, movie and TV themes, and most recently, video game themes." Brock explained. "So a little of everything."

A click and a whir got Ash's attention as he settled in a chair overlooking the gazebo. "Thanks..." he replied as he basked in the cool air, unaware that the fan cooling him was actually a Pokemon.

"I could use some cool air myself after all this walking." Dawn agreed. As if in response to her request, the fan flew over to her seat with a giggle...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 79b: Get Your Rotom Running! (part 2)

"This must be the bakery..." Ash mused as the group arrived in a large open kitchen some time later.

"Not just that, but there's training grounds outside..." Brock pointed out a sign leading outside that read "Training Grounds--This Way".

He noticed throngs of people arriving in the bakery. "Looks like there's a Gateau making class going on..."

"You do that, we're gonna go train for our next matches!" With that, Ash and Dawn hurried off as Brock located a vacant workstation that overlooked the hallway.

After a few moments, four of the bakers arrived "Good afternoon, and welcome to the Platin Bakery!" the chief baker began. "This is where we make our famous Old Gateau from the same recipe Ms. Beaumont would've used 130 years ago."

"For those of you with allergies, don't worry--the recipe is easily adaptable for gluten, milk, and egg allergies." another baker assured those working in the kitchen and the onlookers watching outside.

Thank Arceus none of the clan has food allergies... Brock thought as a third baker went to assist those with allergies.

"Take a look at the kitchen for a moment..." Another baker made a grand gesture to the kitchen. "What do you notice is missing?"

"There's no mixer anywhere." Brock confidently replied.

"Exactly!" the baker smiled. "The first mixers were still twenty years away when the Beaumont family lived here, so Ms. Beaumont simply used a whisk when making the Gateau--the same way we do it over a hundred years later."

"Now then..." the chief baker began. "You might notice an unusual ingredient at your workstation...anyone want to guess what it is?"

"Espresso powder!" a girl guessed.

The chief baker smiled. "The espresso works to elevate the flavors in much the same way as vanilla extract, and many millions of fans agree--it adds more of a flavor than vanilla extract. That, and Mr. Beaumont appreciated the coffee flavor."

Memo to self--do some more research on the Beaumont family back at the library. Brock reminded himself as he followed along with the chief baker's instructions. They sound like they were interesting people worth telling a few true tales about.


"Okay! Try to hit Tintri with a Flamethrower!" Ash instructed Diddy.

[Catch me if you can!] Tintri giggled as he nimbly darted away from the fireballs that rained around the training grounds.

After a few moments of watching Tintri dodge fireballs, Ash gasped as a fireball missed Tintri and the safety barrier and streaked towards what he thought was a broken lawn mower. "Oh no!"

Tintri braced himself for an explosion, but heaved a relieved sigh as he and Ash went to check the lawn mower. [That was a close one...]

"The good news is, Diddy missed that old mower by inches--but let's check it just to be sure." Ash suggested as he examined what he thought was a lawn mower.

He did not expect the mower to come alive! "WAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!!" Ash's panicked scream echoed across the sprawling grounds.

"EEEEYAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!" Dawn's scream came in reply from the other side of the grounds.

Ash met Dawn at the middle of the grounds moments later. "You have a freaky encounter too?" Ash asked, a note of fear in his voice.

"Yeah--I was having Lola practice Dizzy Punch, and I saw what I figured was a fan running on the porch leading outside." Dawn explained. "Lola was getting cold, so I turned it off. We practice for a few more minutes, then I give Lola a break while I go to work with Kori. Minutes after I told Kori to try a Bubblebeam, the fan turned back on by itself and blew the bubbles everywhere!"

"That is weird..." Ash mused before a whir got his attention. "But not half as weird as that smiling lawn mower!"

"Quick! Back inside!" Dawn led Ash and the Pokemon inside the house and up the stairs to a laundry room.

"I think we lost the lawnmower..." Ash wheezed as the group collected themselves. "Should we find Brock and tell him and the others in the bakery what's going on?"

Dawn swallowed hard as she watched one of the washing machines transform into a Rotom like being. "I have a bad feeling about this...."

"RUN!!!!" Ash called, seconds before the Rotom fired a Hydro Pump at them.

Dawn was relieved to hear two elevator dings as an elevator opened up in the hallway. "In here! it's going down!"

[We lost a Rotom...we lost a Rotom...] Tintri nervously sang along with the elevator music. [He's not gonna find us....cause we're safe in here...]


Dawn checked the hall when the group arrived on the first floor. "Okay...the coast is clear!"

She checked the map of the grounds "The food storage and fridge area of the bakery is on this floor, so we should find Brock here."

She gasped when she saw Fan Rotom. "Here we go again..."

The group ran as fast as they could into the refrigeration area, getting Brock's attention. "Wow...you guys look like you've run a mile!"

"You'd be tired too if you had a possessed lawnmower and a fan coming after you!" Ash wheezed.

"That only happens in the movies, Ash." Brock assured Ash as he removed his finished Gateau from the refrigerator.

Tarina, however, noticed the refrigerator had become Frost Rotom! Imultaos, ame no hao bakezo...

"Huh?" Brock whirled around long enough to see Tarina's Disarming Voice send Rotom flying out of the fridge, dazed. "That little thing was what was chasing you two?" he asked Ash and Dawn.

"Rotom, the plasma Pokemon. Its electric-like body can enter some kinds of machines and take control in order to make mischief." Ash's Pokedex explained.

"That explains why it was chasing us..." Dawn mused. "It just wanted to play!"

"Well, what do you have to say for yourself?" Brock sternly asked the Rotom as it came to.

[I didn't mean to hurt you, honest!] the Rotom pleaded. [I jus' wanted to play with ya!]

The stern look on Brock's face softened. "Well, if you wanted to be helpful, you could try possessing a Pokedex..."

[Oh, that sounds fun!] the Rotom giggled. [I'll keep that in mind!]

Ash pictured what a Pokedex Rotom would look like, and giggled. "That would be rather interesting...but you'd have to be nice to any trainer that owned you, okay?"

[Oh, I would!] the Rotom smiled. [I'd be their bestest pal ever!]

"Well, I'll hold you to that promise." Brock smiled at the thought of a Pokedex Rotom before remembering his Gateau. "Anyone want to try my attempt at the Old Gateau?"

"Let's head to the dining room, and we'll try it there." Dawn suggested, smiling all the while as the Rotom possessed a cabinet music box in the hall, making it play the song "Funiculi, Funicula" to welcome the group to the dining room...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 80: A Whole New World of Fantasy

"Any news on when Byron will be back?" Ash asked as he joined Dawn in a TV lounge, where Dawn was watching the local news report.

"Nope..." Dawn replied. "I did find out that Barry has won his third Ribbon; and Nando has won his fifth Miracle Jewel." A split scene of Barry and Nando accepting their respective prizes appeared on the screen to emphasize her point.

Coordinators and minstrels, take note! The next Pokémon Contest and Fantasy Stage will take place in Chocovine Town. the announcer reported before the TV cut to commercial.

Dawn made a note of the location in her PokeNav. "I'm gonna enter that contest...Stormy hasn't had a turn in a Contest in some time."

"Well, if you need me, we'll be training in the yard for our match." Ash replied before getting up and starting for the entrance to the yard.

"I'll come with you!" Dawn was not far behind Ash. "Eventually I'll need to get Satomi ready for her debut as a Gardevoir."

She looked down at the opal ring on her left hand. "That, and I wonder what Satomi looks like now that I can induce her Mega form..."


"Satomi, come on out!" Dawn heaved a Poke Ball skyward, revealing the beautiful humanoid Pokemon in the yard. Ash was nearby, observing Diddy heaving fireballs at steel targets. Brock was in another corner, observing the training going on while Tarina and Tintri romped in a patch of grass.

What is it? Satomi asked as she formed in the yard. Do you want to use me in the Contest instead?

"No...Dawn replied. "May I...have the honor of inducing you? Just so I can finally see you as Mega Gardevoir?"

Of course. Satomi replied. She struck a reverent pose in preparation for the transformation. When you are ready.

Dawn nodded, and held her left hand skyward. Leishu shun ji, lei si...

The others watched in awe as Satomi was engulfed in a rainbow light. She emerged with her gown now longer and wider, resembling a bridal gown. Her hair was shorter and more tightly curled.

Tarina noticed that there were now two horns in the center of Satomi's chest, extending to either side. [How come the spikes in Satomi's chest look different?] she asked.

"Here..." Ash showed Tarina a picture of Mega Gardevoir in his Pokedex.

"The horns on Mega Gardevoir's chest are said to be a physical manifestation of the Pokémon's heart." the Pokedex explained. "It is able to use tremendous psychic power now that it is open."

"That means that the love between Dawn and Satomi is so strong, it manifests as Mega Evolution." Brock explained to Tarina. "Ash will eventually be able to do the same thing with Diddy and Erin."

Dawn was just as amazed at the Mega Gardevoir before her. "Satomi...you look beautiful!"

This power... Satomi smiled. It's amazing! I feel like I could defeat a thousand of Team Galactic's forces--Cyrus and Team Galactic can do their worst!

Everyone laughed at Satomi's warrior-like pose. "Since she evolved, Satomi can use Fairy-type moves." Ash explained, showing Dawn that the moves Dazzling Gleam and Moonblast were now on Satomi's known move list.

This gave Dawn an idea. "Satomi, use Dazzling Gleam!"

Satomi happily obliged by creating sparkling rainbow fireworks around the yard, spurring applause and perfect 10 cards from Dawn's other Pokemon. "If that doesn't max out the meter in the Appeal competition, I don't know what will!" Brock raved as he applauded.

"Let's not forget the choice of two Spectacular Talents." Ash agreed. "Dawn would still be showered in hearts!"

[Can I take part in a Contest? Please?] Tarina begged.

Brock just smiled at Tarina's excitement. "If we comes across one that doesn't conflict with a Fantasy Stage, I'll consider it."

"Speaking of competitions..." Dawn mused. "What is it you actually do in the Fantasy Stage? I know you have to perform a suitable tale for the audience..."

"Actually, there are two performances." Brock replied. "In the Creative Performance, each minstrel is given a tale type and list of components only they know about, and isn't shown to anyone else. You then have to build a story or a song out of this list that makes sense--the more things from the list you use, the better."

He went on. "So for example, I may have to try to make an epic myth about a courageous minstrel; and my unique list of components might be a great war, a quest, an infamous judge, a dangerous villain, a tournament and a mighty feat."

"That sounds easy..." Dawn mused.

"It's not as easy as you think..." Brock warned. "The Free Performance is simply the minstrels telling any tale from their repertoires that they wish. The minstrel with the best score at the end of both events, wins."

Tarina, meanwhile, asked Satomi [So, what is it that you do in a Contest?]

First, the coordinators and their Pokemon are introduced to the audience--this is the opening parade of coordinators. Satomi began. The first event is the Visual competition. Each coordinator goes to a backstage room, where they each get a big box full of accessories. They are allowed up to five of these to dress up their Pokemon according to a theme. The best looking Pokemon that fits the theme, wins.

[Cool!] Tarina was impressed.

Next is the Dance competition, where you dance to a song you and your master agree on. Satomi went on. But the dancing platform is intelligent--it can reward you for doing well, or penalize you for doing badly. If you mess up too much, the music will stop, and your dance is over.

Tarina shuddered at this. Finally is the Appeal competition. Satomi explained. This is the one you really have to train for. Each coordinator will show off their Pokemon's moves to the judges and the crowd over a series of five rounds. You can take advantage of an opponent's move to build a combo, but your opponents can also do likewise. The coordinator with the highest overall score, wins.

Just then, Ash noticed Nurse Joy approaching the group. "Yes?"
"I just wanted to let you know that if you want to challenge Byron, he is back at the Gym now." Nurse Joy replied.

"All right!" Ash cried. "Badge number six, here we come!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 81: Ancient Family Matters

"Let's do this!" Ash smiled as the group made their way to Canalave Gym some days later. "Now I can have my long awaited match with Byron!"

He balked when he saw the referee by the door. "I'm sorry, but Byron is not taking challenges right now..."

"Why not?" Ash asked, his heart racing as he imagined all kinds of nightmare scenarios.

The referee noticed Ash's panicked look. "Actually, Byron is spending some quality time with his son."

The group followed the referee inside the Gym's main hall, where Roark and a man with deep red hair in well loved adventurer's clothes were talking. "Roark?" Dawn asked.

"Oh, hi!" Roark smiled. "Fancy seeing you guys here! I was just telling Dad about you..."

He motioned to the man. "Everyone, this is my dad, Byron."

Byron smiled when he saw Ash had offered his Badge case for him to see. "Ah! That's Oreburgh's Gym Badge!"

His smile turned thoughtful. "I see...you've defeated my son. But I'm not surprised. He still has a lot to learn."

"Speaking of learning things, I want to know more about the fossils you found on your travels in Unova." Roark asked, steering the discussion back to its previous topic.

"One of them appeared to come from a turtle-like Pokemon, and the other from a prehistoric bird Pokemon of some kind." Byron replied. "Once the research on them is complete, I'll put them in my collection."

"See, Dad's been all over the world, and has amassed a lot of fossils." Roark explained. "We haven't actually counted them all, but if I had to take a stab in the dark as to how many he has so far, he has about 500 from across the world."

"Wow!" Dawn was impressed.

"Can you give us a tour of your collection?" Ash asked.

"Come on, then." Byron got up from his chair. "The storage vault is around the corner and down the right hall, past the main arena."


Access approved--welcome to the vault. the security unit reported as Byron led Roark and the group into a massive vault filled with Pokemon fossils, bones, teeth, and other parts.

"I can only imagine the stories behind some of these..." Brock mused as he admired an Old Amber with a tiny Aerodactyl skull inside on one shelf.

"You're actually looking at the smallest fossil I have." Byron grinned before making a grand gesture to a massive claw shaped fossil that had its own shelf. "This is the pride of my collection--an Anorith fossil three times the size of a normal Anorith."

"So, would you say Crystal is more powerful than Escudo now that she's evolved?" Roark asked as the group continued to explore the vault.

"Power isn't everything--Despite its rough, intimidating appearance, Bastiodon is actually a docile, caring Pokémon that eats grass and Berries. Its steel-hard, shield-like face is capable of repelling any attack." Byron reminded Roark.

"They say that a charging Rampardos can knock down virtually anything with one hit." Roark explained. "You think Escudo could take a hit from Crystal at full tilt?"

"Escudo could take any of Crystal's attacks, and more." Byron confidently replied. "When multiple Bastiodon line up, their faces form a wall that nothing can break through. This was how they protected their babies."

Ash looked back and forth as Roark's and Byron's conversation continued to get heated. "Mind if I borrow your whistle for a second?" he asked Brock, aware of Roark and Byron debating EV's and IV's of their respective Pokemon a few feet away.

"Sure..." Brock draped his referee's whistle into Ash's hands. "Maybe we can find a better way to settle their debate than a shouting match."

"Okay..." Ash next blew the whistle as hard as he could, snapping Roark and Byron from their debate. "Rather than fighting over facts and figures all day, wouldn't it be much better--and quicker--to have both Pokemon battle to see whose Fossil Pokémon is better?"

"A wonderful idea!" Byron smiled as Ash returned the whistle. "Let's meet in the main arena and settle this once and for all!"

"You're on!" Roark smiled, giddy over battling his father.


In the arena, Ash and Dawn watched Roark and Crystal battle against a massive reptilian Pokemon with a shiny steel face, legs, back, and tail. "Crystal, try Zen Headbutt again!" Roark called.

"Escudo, use Iron Defense!" Byron commanded.

Ash located Brock at the midpoint sideline of the arena, just as Crystal tried unsuccessfully to ram into the massive reptile Pokemon, which had turned a shiny silver under the effects of Iron Defense. "That looked like it hurt..."

"Actually, I think Byron actually has the upper hand." Brock replied as Byron instructed his Bastiodon to use Flamethrower, which the Rampardos nimbly jumped away from.

Roark grimaced as the flames impacted the Diamond safety barrier. "Crystal, try Head Smash!"

"Escudo, counter with Iron Head!" Byron shot back.

The group held their breaths as the Rampardos and the Bastiodon pushed back and forth in an attempt to shove the other away. After a few tense moments, both of them collapsed to the arena floor, prompting Brock to blow his whistle. "No contest! This match is a tie!"

"Maybe both our Pokemon are strong in their own unique ways..." Roark mused as he collected Crystal.

"Speaking of which..." Byron showed Roark a fossilized leaf. "I'll never forget the day you found this fossilized Sunkern leaf...your gift and ability to pitch in when it mattered most helped the collection grow to what it is today."

He smiled. "You and Crystal are growing stronger every day...I look forward to the day you can take over here. But if you want to continue running your own Gym, that's okay--I will always be proud of you, no matter what happens."

"Aw..." Dawn smiled as Roark and Byron shared a loving hug as father and son. "Maybe I need to call Mom and say hi..."

"Come to think of it, I haven't talked to the clan in some time--they probably miss me by now..." Brock agreed.

"As soon as we return to a place with a phone, I'm calling Mom and Dad right away." Ash smiled. "I'm sure they'd love the update."

"Ash..." Byron began "I know you have journeyed so far, and waited for me so we could battle. But can you wait one day more? Escudo needs time to rest."

"Sure--that gives me a little more time to train." Ash replied.

Byron nodded. "Very well--we will meet in the arena the day after tomorrow."

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 82: Dealing with Defensive Types

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Got it!] Diddy replied before digging underground.

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

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

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

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

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


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

"Tails, here we go!" Ash called.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ash nodded. "It's time."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sounds fun!" Dawn smiled.

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

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

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

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

"What happened?" Ash asked.

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

"That is weird..." Ash mused.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Who cast the spell?" Danielle asked.

"Yeah, friend or foe?" Ash agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: The Rainbow of Aura

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

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

"Like magic?" Dawn was excited.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Point duly noted." Dawn smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 83b: Steeling Peace of Mind! (part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Nice shot!] Kori smiled.

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

"What?" Ash gasped as the group reunited.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 84a: Hold the Phione! (part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: The Quest for a Friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

"Or some yellows?" Ash suggested.

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

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

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

"Lose the cheesy moons!" Ash agreed.

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 84b: Hold the Phione! (part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 85a: Another One Gabites the Dust! (part 1)

"Stormy, use Discharge!" Dawn commanded.

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

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

Dawn nodded. "Who wants Poffins?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 86a: Pursuing a Lofty Goal! (part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...