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Thread: Through Sapphire Skies: A New Journey (OR/AS spoilers ahead!)

  1. #1
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    Default Through Sapphire Skies: A New Journey (OR/AS spoilers ahead!)

    Rated E for Everyone!

    Through Sapphire Skies: A New Journey


    Episode 1: Welcome Back, Ketchum

    The sun was high overhead as the party set out for Littleroot. May and Max walked side by side, and Ash and Brock followed, the gems in their Mega Rings glinting in the reflected sunlight.

    May smiled as she tied the red Poke Ball print bandanna crowning her brown hair. Here we go! I've made a name for myself as a coordinator, now to see if I can pull double duty as a trainer. she thought as she gently brushed a wisp of black hair from Max's face. Unlike Ash's messy mop of black hair and Brock's neatly slicked back brown spikes, Max's was neatly combed in a bowl-shaped cut, not unlike a Trainer's School student.

    She next admired the oval shaped emerald sandwiched between two layers of gold ivy inlaywork Brock wore, and the silver ring with a ruby set in a square and surrounded by an elegant diamond inlay that Ash wore. I wonder if those exist in Houen? she wondered.

    "Hey, we're here!" Ash called, snapping May from her thoughts. Littleroot didn't look too much different from her last journey, and the professor's log cabin lab still looked the same, as well.

    "Think the professor will want this extra ticket to the concert?" Max asked, flashing Brock an extra red ticket.

    "Maybe, but remember, professors have a lot to do, so don't take it personally if he declines." Brock assured Max.

    "What's this about a concert?" a familiar voice asked, startling May.

    May looked over and smiled at a boy wearing a white hood with a black Poke Ball design on it. "Oh, Brendan! I didn't see you there!"

    "Brendan, huh? "I'm--!" Ash started.

    "Dad has told me a lot about you, Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town." Brendan grinned. "Hard to believe it's been three years since you defeated Team Magma and Team Aqua the first time..."

    "Well, I'm still traveling, and Brock is still learning yarns." Ash assured Brendan. "But two years ago, I started a band for the local battle of the bands--and we named it The Red Masters. A talent scout happened to be there, and the rest is history."

    "I've heard some of your songs, and they sound pretty cool." Brendan smiled. "A lot of critics think you play jazz, but I believe you have a sound all your own."

    "Well, I help Ash with the guitars, sing backup, and help with songwriting." May explained. "So I came to get a new Torchic for my attempt at the League, and ask your dad what to expect."

    "You've seen enough of the Contest Hall and want to try battling for a change...." Brendan mused. "I can tell you this: battling has a unique beauty, but you have to be able to think on your feet."

    "I have a great teacher in Ash." May grinned. "And Brock, too."

    "Having a master trainer and a former Gym Leader on your side is a great idea--listen to what they both tell you." Brendan cautioned. "But if you need Dad, he's out on Route 101 right now..."

    A male scream got everyone's attention. "That sounds like Dad..." Brendan noted.

    "Let's go help him!" Ash led the charge onto Route 101's fields...

    Later, on Route 101...

    Brendan sweatdropped at the horde of Poochyenas. "Not again..."

    "I have to do something!" May hurried over to a messenger bag laying in the grass, grabbed a Poke Ball, and heaved it in the direction of the Poochyena closest to the terrified professor.

    "Torchic!" peeped the small orange chick that materialized on the grass as Ash and Brock rushed to help, summoning Sceptile and Swampert on the way.

    "Love to chat, but I need your help saving the professor--will you help me?" May asked the Torchic.

    Ash's voice singing Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... and Brock's voice singing Imultaos, ame no hao bakezo... got her attention. She sweatdropped at the larger Sceptile with a pine tree-like tail, and the larger Swampert with large armor-like fins behind her. "I appreciate the help, but I'll be okay on my own."

    Ash looked at Brock. "What do you think?"

    "Let's trust May--a Poochyena shouldn't be too hard for her." Brock replied. "We'll watch and see, and only step in if she asks for help."

    Ash nodded, and watched the Torchic spew an Ember at the Poochyena. "At least she got the attack right this time..."

    You still remember 'Torchic, use Amber'? Max chuckled as the Torchic jumped to dodge the Poochyena's claws.

    Brock smiled as the Torchic ran to peck the Poochyena. "I do--she didn't live that down until at least Slateport." The Torchic squawking in pain from a Bite attack punctuated his point.

    "She looks like an old pro!" Max grinned as the Torchic fired another Ember, making the Poochyena faint. The other Poochyenas fled in panic, not wanting to engage two Mega Evolutions.

    Brendan hurried over to Prof. Birch. "You okay, Dad?"

    "I think so..." Professor Birch weakly replied as he got up. "Wasn't expecting to be jumped by a whole pack of Poochyenas..."

    "If there's Poochyenas, there's likely Mightyenas nearby." Brock cautioned as Mega Sceptile and Mega Swampert shrunk back to normal. "Let's get back to the lab."

    "Yes, lets." Max agreed as Prof. Birch and Brendan led the way back through the brush.

    May motioned to Ash. "We need to have some kind of signal in case I need you guys' help..."

    "Good idea." Ash agreed. "But just plain 'help' would be too obvious...."

    "How about 'help' in a foreign language?" Max suggested. "I vote 'cuidu'!"

    "I know a little Gaelic, but I doubt May does--so pick something easy to say and spell." Brock cautioned.

    "Apua!" Ash suggested. "Finnish for 'help'.

    "Sounds too much like 'Aqua'." Brendan mused. "You guys know a Romance language, like Spanish, French, or Italian?"

    "Of those, I know Spanish fairly well, and I'm quite fluent in Italian." Brock offered. "So which sounds nicer, May? Ayudarme, or Aiutare?

    I like Aiutare. May replied. "I doubt any bad guys around here know Italian!"

    "Aiutare it is!" Ash cried. "The only time we won't help you is against the Gym Leaders--you have to defeat them on your own."

    "That said, we WILL help you plan a strategy before you go to the arena." Brock added as he petted the Pikachu on Ash's shoulder. "and give you sparring partners, if you wish."

    May nodded. "So if we come up against bed guys, you can help, but in the arena, no go--got it!"

    Back at Birch's lab...

    "Those rings and strange songs...where did you get those?" Brendan asked Ash as he watched Professor Birch upload his data from the field.

    "Way over in the Kalos region, there's a place known as the Tower of Mastery." Brock explained. "If you prove yourself, you earn a Mega Ring and awaken a special melody known as a Heart Song. Some trainers never choose to sing this song, but among those that do, no two trainers sing the same song. The only exceptions are if a Mega Ring is passed down or given away by its owner."

    "I see..." Brendan mused.

    "I'm searching for an equivalent place here in Houen...but no luck so far." Prof. Birch sighed. "If there is, I wonder how many other Pokemon can be induced like you did your Sceptile and your Swampert."

    "We'll keep you posted if we do." Ash assured Prof. Birch.

    Prof. Birch turned to May. "As thanks for saving me back there, I want you to have the Torchic you used earlier." With that, he gently set the Torchic in May's arms. "She's very sweet, but can get a little cranky if she misses her midday nap."

    "Okay." May replied before the glint of joy in the Torchic's eyes gave her an idea. "I think I'll call you Starshine."

    "Starshine?" everyone gasped.

    Good morning, Starshine...the earth says hello... Brock sang. You twinkle above us, we twinkle below,

    Good morning starshine, you lead us along,
    My love and me
    As we sing, our
    Early morning singing song....


    Ash instantly recognized the old song. "Oh, I see where you got Starshine!"

    "I can play that song on guitar." Brock grinned. "But it's a bit late for a sing along..."

    "You can stay at the house tonight." Brendan offered.

    "Yes--the lab doesn't have guest rooms, and I doubt you'd want to damage something while tossing and turning." Prof. Birch agreed.

    "I'll go tell Mom you guys are coming!" With that, Brendan rushed out, just as the sun started to sink below the trees....

    TO BE CONTINUED...

  2. #2
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    Episode 2: My Oldale Friend

    May yawned when she woke up the next morning. The sun was just barely beginning to rise over the trees, and the boys were still asleep. Or at least, Ash and Max were asleep--Brock was likely downstairs helping Ms. Birch with breakfast, she figured.

    She rolled over and gently nudged Starshine. "Hey...ready to get up?"

    [Morning already?] Starshine yawned. [Tell that to your friend and his Pikachu.]

    May looked over in the other guest bed and found Ash halfway hanging off of it, with Pikachu dozing on the bedpost. Typical Ash... she smiled--she remembered how Brock had to try everything from a cooking pot on the head to playing Reveille on an actual trumpet to get him to wake up on their first adventure. This morning seemed no different.

    She noticed one of Ash's whistles sticking out of his bag. I may not know how to play this, but I can at least get a really high note!

    With that, she took a deep breath, and blew the highest, loudest, most out-of-tune note she could--jarring both Ash and Max awake, and sending Ash tumbling to the floor.

    "What was THAT for?" Ash grumbled once he had eased himself to his feet and felt around him for injuries.

    "I think May wants you to get up, Ash!" Max giggled. May just discretely returned the whistle as Ash made his way over to his bag and threw on some fresh clothes for the day.

    Ash sighed. "I appreciate the thought, but can tomorrow's wake up call not be so loud?"

    "What happened?" Brock asked as he returned upstairs. "I heard this high note and a thud..."

    "Oh, May got the 'brilliant' idea to swipe one of my whistles and blow a loud and high note to wake us up." Ash grumbled.

    "You should have seen the look on your face!" May laughed before she too climbed from her bed. Ash just shot May a dark look as he followed Brock downstairs.

    After breakfast...

    [It took some doing, but I got Ash back in a good mood.] Pikachu reported to Starshine as they met their masters by the outskirts of Littleroot, where Prof. Birch had arrived to see the group off.

    [That's good--no one needs to wake up mad.] Starshine replied.

    "Professor, as thanks for letting us stay at your house last night, I want to give you this spare ticket for the Red Masters concert tonight." Max explained as he offered the small red ticket to Prof. Birch.

    Prof. Birch studied the ticket in Max's hand. "I have no doubt Ash's band has a lot of talent, but I'll have to decline--I have a paper on the social habits of Beautiflies to prepare for a conference in a few weeks."

    "Aw..." Max sighed.

    "It's okay though, we'll be streaming the concert, so maybe the professor can listen while he works." Ash assured Max before scribbling down a stream invite code for Prof. Birch.

    "I'm sure someone else would love that ticket, though." Prof. Birch agreed as he accepted the stream invite.

    Max nodded. "Yeah--there's gotta be someone between here and Petalburg that wants to go to the concert, but missed their chance at buying a ticket!"

    "Yeah--maybe someone in Oldale might be happy to get it!" May suggested as the group departed.

    The walk to Odale Town was relatively uneventful, save for Wurmples on the tree trunks, Zigzagoons romping through the grass, and the odd Poochyena chasing a Beautifly. But when the rooftops of Oldale came into view, Ash noticed a long line snaking through the town square, past the Pokemon Center, and all the way to the Poke Mart. "Black Friday sized lines for a sale at the Poke Mart?"

    "Must be one of their big promotions." Max mused as the group got in line.

    The line moved surprisingly quickly, and before long, the group was nearly at the front. May noticed that the line had split into three, and at each branch, a Poke Mart worker was passing out six packs of Potions.

    "Hi, would you like a six pack of Potions?" a worker asked when it came to be the group's turn in line."

    "I'll take one." May replied as she accepted the small box of Potions. "For me and my friends to share."

    "As thanks, would you want this Red Masters concert ticket in return?" Max offered the ticket to the worker.

    The worker smiled. "I'd love to come, but I have to work tonight, sweetie." she told Max. Max nodded and followed May as the group left the line behind, and started down Route 103.

    "So Wurmple and Poochyena live here too...and....done!" a familiar voice in the distance cried. A familiar hood snapped May to attention--Brendan was under a tree, filling in a database.

    "Good morning, Brendan--fancy seeing you out here this early." Ash smiled as the group arrived.

    "Doing Dad a favor for his field work--we were gonna document the wild Pokemon on this route yesterday, but Dad getting jumped by that Poochyena pack put the brakes on that plan." Brendan explained before retrieving a Poke Ball. "But since you're here, does May feel comfortable with a friendly battle?"

    May looked over at Ash. "Should I battle him? I don't know if Starshine's ready for a trainer match this soon..."

    "Only if you believe she is, and she wants to." Ash replied. "All trainers--and coordinators too--believe their Pokemon are the best, but you have to take into account what your Pokemon wants too--so if Starshine doesn't want to battle Brendan, respect her wishes."

    May knelt down before Starshine. "Do you want to battle Brendan?"

    Starshine thought for a moment. [Only if I can see my opponent first.]

    "Okay...come on out, Finn!" Brendan called, summoning a blue aquatic creature with a fin on its head.

    Starshine swallowed hard. [You really want me to face a Mudkip?]

    "Come on, Finn doesn't know any of his line's strongest attacks yet." Brendan assured May. "I think Starshine can take him!"

    "I've got your back if you need help." Ash reminded May.

    "I'll even referee, if it makes you feel better." Brock offered as he drew the outline of a Poke Ball in the grass with a stick. While it wasn't the sleek red and blue colors of official arenas in Houen, it would do for a friendly match.

    She took a deep breath to quell the nervous Beautiflies fluttering in her stomach, then replied "Okay...I accept your offer of a friendly match."

    ---------

    "Representing the Ruby side, Brendan and Finn!" Brock announced, making a grand gesture to the left side of his makeshift Poke Ball, where Brendan and Finn stood.

    [Bring it on, peepers!] Finn taunted.

    "And representing the Sapphire side, May and Starshine!" Brock made another grand gesture to the right side of the Poke Ball, where May and Starshine stood.

    [I'm not scared, fish face!] Starshine shot back.

    After making sure a referee's whistle was around his neck, Brock asked Brendan "Ruby side ready?"

    "Yeah!" Brendan cheered.

    "Sapphire side ready?" Brock asked May.

    "As I'm ever gonna be." May stammered, her heart pounding over what Brendan's Mudkip was going to do to Starshine.

    "And three...two...one...." The blast of a whistle echoed through the clearing, startling a flock of Taillows.

    May watched in horror as Finn charged at Starshine and rammed her, making her stumble backwards. "Starshine!"

    "That was just a Tackle, May." Ash assured her. "One little Tackle isn't gonna hurt that bad."

    [I'm fine, May--I've got this!] Starshine assured May before running up to Finn and scratching his side, making him rear back in pain.

    "There you go!" Ash called in support as Starshine jumped out of the way of Finn's next Tackle, then scratched him in the back.

    Finn grimaced ****ying to do a sneak attack, are we? I'm not falling for that!] With that, he rammed into Torchic from behind, making her lurch forward in pain.

    Pikachu shuddered as Finn prepared to charge at Starshine again. [That last Tackle looked like it hurt...]

    "Here!" Ash tossed May a Potion. May caught the small spray bottle and sprayed a little on Starshine, who was wheezing in fatigue.

    [Thanks--now to finish fish face.] Starshine smiled before running to scratch Finn. Finn ran to tackle Starshine, and both Pokemon collided in the center of the Poke Ball with a crash.

    For a moment, not even the Nincadas wanted to chirp as the entire clearing waited to know the battle's outcome. Then, a referee's whistle pierced the air. "Game Set! Sapphire!"

    "YEAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!" Ash cheered as May ran to embrace him. "You did it! You won your first battle in a long time!"

    "That wasn't too bad for someone only recently returning to battling." Brendan agreed as he revived Finn. "You may have some talent in the arena too, as well as the Contest Hall."

    May, meanwhile, was embracing Starshine. "You did great!"

    [I knew all along I could beat Brendan--but even when things looked tough and you weren't sure, I had Ash and Pikachu cheering for me.] Starshine assured her master. [But even though you looked terrified on the outside, on the inside, you believed in me too.]

    "Really?" May smiled.

    Ash then held out a bundle of five empty Poke Balls. "I saved these spare Poke Balls for you--go make some new friends for Starshine, and prove you are a double threat!"

    TO BE CONTINUED...

  3. #3
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    Episode 3: Make the Colors On the Stage


    After telling Brendan goodbye, all was quiet as the party retraced their way to Oldale Town and got on the path to Pealburg. But after a while, the quiet ate away at Max. "Can't we sing a song, or something?"

    "I'm saving the songs for tonight, but I don't see any harm in telling a quick story." Brock assured Max.

    With that, he began "Once upon a time, a poor young man named Devin had great dreams. He dreamed so vividly, they seemed almost real. His parents and teachers had taught him from a young age that he could do whatever he wished, and he could make his dreams come true if he had the will. 'Seek and ye shall find,' they always said."

    [A wise lesson.] Starshine smiled.

    "One day Devin decided he wanted to marry the king's daughter, Princess Teresa, and so he traveled from his tiny village all the way to the royal city." Brock went on. "There he knocked on the door of the palace." He proceeded to knock on a tree trunk for effect.

    [Who is it?] a soft gentle voice called from inside, startling Brock.

    May peered inside the tree, where she saw a curious Wurmple looking back at her. "We're just a group of travelers on our way to Petalburg." she explained.

    She remembered the Poke Balls Ash had given her, and held one out to the Wurmple. "If you want to come with us on our journey, just touch this."

    The Wurmple emerged from its hole and studied May for a moment. [I've always wanted to become a beautiful Beautifly, and see the world from above...so of course I'll come with you.]

    Starshine frowned as the Wurmple went inside the Poke Ball. [Some capture that was--I wanted to scorch some Wurmples!]

    "You have to remember that Pokemon have different personalities, just like humans." May told Starshine. "That means not all of them will want to fight." Starshine seemed to accept that answer, and hurried to catch up to May as she walked.

    "Now, where was I?" Brock mused, trying to remember where he was in his tale. "Oh...There he knocked on the door of the palace."

    "I've come to ask for something of the king," Ash jumped in the role of Devin.

    "The servants showed him to the king's vizier, who looked the young man up and down. He wore tattered clothes, and his hands were calloused. What, the vizier wondered, could he possibly want of the king?" Brock went on.

    May decided to let her new Wurmple out to listen. [What did the vizier do?] it asked.

    "Sir," Ash requested as Devin, "I am an honest man with a strong will, and I have been called to come here."

    "Who would guide you to come see the king?" Brock asked as the vizier.

    "I have always been told that he who seeks shall find, and a door will open unto one who knocks." Ash explained in character. "So I am knocking on the king's door because I wish to marry his daughter, Princess Teresa."

    [Nice name for a princess.] Starshine commented.

    "Naturally, the vizier thought Devin was nuts." Brock narrated as himself before assuming the role of the vizier again. "Come another day--the king is busy today."

    As himself, he went on "Devin thanked the vizier for his time, and the next day, he returned with the same request. Each day, the vizier explained the king was busy with affairs of state and had no time for young men's flights of fancy, but each day at dawn, Devin returned and explained his intention. Where there is a will, he knew, there was a way."

    "I bet the vizier got annoyed after a while..." Max grinned, eager to find out what the vizier would do to get Devin out of his hair.

    "After several weeks, the vizier got tired of the daily visits, and so he told the king the strange story of the persistent young man." Brock smiled, confirming Max's prediction. "The king smiled as he listened to the story -- surely there must be some explanation, he thought. He did not wish to punish the young man simply for a request. So he agreed to see Devin."

    "I wish to marry your daughter, Your Highness." Ash requested as Devin.

    "You do, do you?" Brock grinned as the king. "What do you offer in return? To marry my daughter Teresa, you must be a distinguished young man, or you must undertake a great task. Are you prepared to face great challenges?"

    "Naturally," Ash replied as Devin. "Where there is a will, there is a way."

    As himself, Brock explained to the Pokemon "In actuality, the king wanted only to send the young man away, but he decided to play along."

    As the king, he tells Ash "Many years ago, a valuable sapphire was lost from my treasury. Some say it was dropped into the river by the palace, and no one has found it yet. If you can find the lost sapphire, you may have Teresa's hand in marriage."

    As himself, he continued "Devin was overjoyed to hear this news, and vowed to find the lost jewel. The next day, he set off for the shores of the river. He brought along a small cup, and every morning he sat at the edge of the river scooping water and tossing it onto the ground. He worked for hours -- he didn't mind the weather or the time. 'Where there's a will, there's a way,' he told himself, for he was determined to empty the river, find the lovely blue sapphire, and marry Princess Teresa."

    [And then?] the Wurmple asked.

    "Well, the fish in the river watched the young man's progress, hurrying away from that cup." Brock went on. "He never stopped, and after a week, they saw he never would. They began to worry he would empty their home of all its water. And so they called a meeting."

    Starshine giggled as she pictured a school of Goldeens in a conference room."Undine, the queen of the fish, asked if anyone knew the young man's purpose." Brock narrated.

    "He's searching for the blue sapphire," Max jumped in the role of one of the young fish.

    "And where is it?" May asked in the role of Undine.

    "At the bottom of the river -- buried beneath the mud," Max replied in character.

    "Undine thought for a while, and at last she said..." Brock narrated.

    "I believe that we must take the sapphire to this young man, for it is clear he will not give up until he has drained the last drop of water from our home." May announced as Undine.

    And so the fish dug the sapphire from its resting place at the bottom of the river and tossed it onshore." Brock went on. "When Devin saw it, he quickly picked it up and ran to the palace."

    He concluded "And so it was that a poor young man from a tiny village, with will and perseverance, won the hand of a king's daughter."

    [Bravo!] Starshine cheered as Pikachu applauded.

    [That was wonderful!] the Wurmple agreed.

    "Yes, but now to decide on a name for you..." May mused as the Wurmple climbed on her.

    Ash singing There's a melody playing, on the radio, there's a melody playing, soft and sweet and low... gave her an idea. "I'll call you...Niji!"

    "After the magical Beautifly on 'Legendary Idol Kochou'? Nice choice." Brock grinned.

    [Very fitting if I do become a Beautifly, as well.] Niji agreed, pleased with her new name.

    Just then, a young boy perked up at Ash singing. "That's a really good Kochou impression, man!" he grinned as he petted his Zigzagoon.

    "Well, I do have to warm up if I'm doing Kochou--his range goes into notes I can't hit unless I warm up first." Ash replied.

    "Name's Calvin...Stripes and me were hoping to go to the big concert in Petalburg tonight, but tickets were too expensive." the boy sighed.

    "Would you want this one?" Max offered his ticket to Calvin "No catch!"

    Calvin's eyes widened. "Really? I'll take it!" He snatched the ticket from Max's hand. "Thanks sooooooooo much!"

    "Anytime--see you in the audience!" Ash replied.

    "Hear that, Stripes? We'll get to see The Red Masters after all!" May heard Calvin say as the group continued on.

    "Say..is there any more extra tickets we can give away, or was that the last one?" Max asked, pleased he had made someone happy.

    Brock produced a bundle of tickets from his bag. "Nope--I have a few more you can use to make people happy!"

    Niji watched as Max hurried up to ask a bug catcher if he wanted a ticket. [What's so great about those pieces of paper?]

    "Ash, Brock and I are part of a band, and we're on our way to Petalburg to meet the other members and put on a concert." May explains. "I help sing and play guitar, Ash sings lead, plays lead guitar, and a bunch of wind instruments, and Brock plays drums."

    [Really? Can I hear one of your songs?] Niji asked as Max went over and asked another youngster.

    May was about to answer when footsteps got her attention. "Oh my! The Red Masters, here in Houen???" a young girl gasped.

    "Or at least the frontman, his cohort, and the drummer." Brock smiled. "We're on our way to meet the rest of the band in Petalburg."

    "My name's Tiana--I'm your biggest fan!" the girl smiled before offering a CD to Ash. "Will you sign my copy of "Victory'? Please?"

    "I'll do one better." Ash offered. "I'll give you my autograph, and throw in a free ticket to the show."

    Tiana could hardly contain her excitement as Ash signed his name near his picture on the jewel case, then handed back the CD and a ticket. "Yay!!! Now me and my friends can all go together! Thank you!"

    "See you tonight!" May called as Tiana hurried off.

    [So many excited humans...] Niji noted. [Your songs must be good if people are flocking to see you...]

    "You're in for a treat, both of you..." May replied as the rooftops of Petalburg came into view...

    TO BE CONTINUED...

  4. #4
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    Episode 4: A Link to My Future

    "Here we are--and that is where we're going to be performing." May began, making a grand gesture to a large covered stage taking shape in the town square.

    [Oh my...] Niji gasped, awed by the stage's size.

    "Looks like the drums and Misty's piano made it here safely." Brock noted as he watched the road crew set up a familiar red drum set and wire a silver digital piano into place. "As are your guitars." he told May as some more crew members set a familiar blue electric guitar and a black acoustic guitar on a stand by the right-front side.

    May closed her eyes for a moment, savoring the noise of things being set up. I've always wanted to play in front of Mom, Dad, and Max...

    [Is everything okay?] Niji asked, snapping May back to reality.

    "Yeah...it's just that ever since Ash started the band, I've always dreamed of playing before my mom, my dad, and my little brother." May explained. "And it's just now sinking in that in a few short hours, that dream will be coming true!"

    [And I'm excited too, to hear you all play!] Niji agreed before glowing bright white.

    "No way!" Max gasped as Niji transformed into a white cocoon-like creature with orange-yellow eyes. "An evolution this fast?"

    "You forget that most bug Pokemon evolve very quickly." Brock reminded Max. "Maybe Niji's excitement to hear us was one reason she evolved, as well."

    Ash, meanwhile, noticed Norman visiting with a man as a green haired boy looked on. "Who's that?"

    "That's Wally." Max explained. "His family's always been good friends of ours--but Wally gets sick a lot, so he gets tired easily."

    "Forgive me for interrupting, but we're here." May called as she led the group over to the fountain where Norman and the man were talking.

    "Welcome back May--Walter and I were discussing how Wally staying with his cousin and her family in Verdanturf might be good for him." Norman explained.

    "The million credit question is, does Wally want to go stay with his family?" Brock asked. "He might have friends here, like May and Max, he might miss if he moves away..."

    "Actually, Mr. Brock, I do want to go stay with my cousin for a while." Wally replied. "She's really nice."

    Brock smiled. "At least he remembers me from his last visit to the hospital..."

    "The day he went home, he was talking non-stop about the stories you told." Walter went on, before gesturing to Ash. "Do you remember Ash, Wally?"

    Wally thought for a moment before the light bulb went off in his head. "Oh yes! I remember you from the rock band you and May and Brock are part of." he smiled. "Maybe that's what the big stage is doing here--Uncle thinks a concert would be too much for me, so I've only watched you online and on TV."

    Ash offered a ticket to Wally. "Would you want to come see us play tonight?"

    Wally sighed. "I'd love to, but Uncle says we have to finish packing my stuff tonight."

    "We're streaming the concert online too, so maybe you can listen while you pack." May offered before writing down a stream invite code. "There you go...if your uncle allows you on the computer tonight, go to the video streaming site Jamvid and search for 'The Red Masters'--then on the first stream that comes up, enter that code and you'll be able to watch us."

    "Okay--thanks!" Wally smiled. "Although, can you please play 'Room to Move' somewhere during the show? I like that song."

    "We'll try." Brock replied before offering Wally a lightstick. "We like seeing these waving in time to the music, so here's one for you to wave while you watch."

    "Cool--this'll make me feel like I'm there." Wally smiled as he and Walter departed.

    Norman turned to May. "Let's go inside the Gym--it's getting hot."

    Later...

    "Okay, Dad... This is Starshine..." May smiled, gesturing to Starshine. "and this is Niji."

    [Hi!] Starshine chirped.

    [Hello.] Niji replied.

    Norman smiled. "It looks like you're on your way--but know that on your new journey to the League, you will have to battle me...and just because I'm your dad doesn't mean I will go easy on you."

    "Good, because I won't hold anything back either!" May replied.

    A tear of pride formed in Norman's eye. "That's the spirit that carried you to the top of the contest world...now can you take the Pokemon League by storm too?"

    May was about to answer when the door opened and a familiar voice asked "Mr.Norman...can I please...have a Pokemon too?"

    Ash whirled around to find Wally before Norman. "Wally? What are you doing here?"

    "I thought maybe having a Pokemon with me would be nice in case I get lonely." Wally explained.

    Norman chuckled. "I can't give you a Pokemon outright, but I can lend you one of my young Zigzagoons so you can get one of your own."

    "I'll come with him, in case something happens." May offered as Norman disappeared inside another room.

    "That's nice of you, May." Brock agreed.

    "Really? You'll help me get a Pokemon?" Wally gasped, his eyes shining hopefully.

    "Sure--I'll show you how to battle properly." May replied as Norman returned with a Zigzagoon.

    "Okay, Wally--this is Meeko." Norman replied, chuckling as the young Zigzagoon danced in excited circles around Wally. "She's a little energetic, but can hold her own in battle, so she should be just fine for you to borrow."

    "I'll take extra good care of her, Mr. Norman." Wally replied as he and May turned to leave.

    "We'll be back before sunset, so I can meet the band on time." May added.

    In a grassy field just outside Petalburg...

    "The thing to remember is sometimes, Pokemon hunting can be slow going." Brock cautioned as he watched May and Wally crawl into the grass. "So when you're ready to go back, just tell us."

    "Okay..." Wally replied as he settled in the grass.

    He was suddenly startled by two white humanoid creatures appearing in front of him. "W-what are those?"

    "Here..." Ash pulled out his Pokedex and let Wally see the entry on the humanoid Pokemon:

    "Ralts, the feeling Pokemon. It is highly attuned to the emotions of people and Pokémon. It hides if it senses hostility."

    Sure enough, one of the Ralts warped by May's side, shuddering fearfully as Meeko challenged the other.

    "Okay, Meeko...um...Tackle the Ralts!" Waly commanded. Meeko nodded, and rammed the Ralts, sending it tumbling into the grass.

    Ash winced. "That look like it hurt..."

    "I throw the ball now, right?" Wally asked as he hesitantly brandished a Poke Ball.

    "Only if you think it's weakened enough." May replied. "If you're not careful, you'll make it faint. Luckily, Dad gave you ten balls, so if it breaks out of that one, just try again."

    "Here goes..." Wally gave the Poke Ball a mighty heave, and the whole group watched as the ball wiggled....

    One...

    Two...

    Three....

    Wally's anxious look turned to joy when the ball's center dimmed. "I did it!"

    He examined the Poke Ball for a moment. "I think I'll call you...Link."

    <i>Like that hero in green?</i> a gentle male voice asked from the Poke Ball.

    "Not just that, but May and her friends helped me catch you, so you are my link to her if I get lonely." Wally explained.

    The second Ralts hovered in front of May. I have no reason to fear you now, so now that my friend will help your friend, I want to help you.

    "Um, okay?" May stammered, still surprised by the young female voice echoing through her mind. She fumbled for a Poke Ball of her own. "If you want to go with me, just touch this."

    Don't mind if I do. the female Ralts smiled before going inside with a red flash of light.

    "No prizes for what the female's name will be if the male is named Link." Brock grinned.

    May nodded. "I'll call her Zelda."

    TO BE CONTINUED....

  5. #5
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    Interlude: Together Again

    The sun was setting as Ash, May and Brock departed Petalburg Gym. "Wally sounds like a nice person." Ash grinned.

    "What he lacks in physical strength, he more than makes up for in heart." Brock agreed. "Did you see how he was talking to his Ralts all the way back to town?"

    "I did...I wish him and Link the very best." May replied before looking towards the stage. "But I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the band..."

    A voice calling her name snapped May to attention. When she looked to see who had called, she smiled when she saw a black haired girl running to meet her. "Dawn! You made it!"

    "It's always good to see you, my fellow coordinator." Dawn smiled as she and May embraced. "I heard there's an up and coming coordinator here named Lisia that's really making some noise here..."

    "I haven't really seen her skills for myself, but I do want to meet her on my new trip around Houen..." May began as a familiar orange haired girl arrived.

    "Misty!" Ash ran to embrace his friend. "The piano's here and all wired, so if you wanna warm up before the crowds get here, be my guest."

    "Good idea!" May agreed as she made her way to the stage, where she gasped at even more familiar faces.

    "Hi, Serena..." Ash paused to hug a blonde haired girl. "Kamon..."

    "Ready to rock here." a red haired boy replied before turning his attention to tuning a black bass guitar.

    "...and Crystal." Ash acknowledged a blue haired girl looking to see if all her instruments were accounted for.

    "Saxophones are all here, as is my trumpet and the trombone." Crystal reported.

    "I understand you're actually trying to battle again?" Dawn asked as May went to work tuning her own acoustic guitar.

    "Yeah--once I finish tuning, I'll show you my team so far." May replied before focusing on her instruments.

    Once sure both guitars were in tune, she retrieved her three Poke Balls and heaved them skyward. "Come on out, everyone!"

    Zelda was first to materialize. Oh my...so many instruments here... she gasped.

    "Well, I play in a band, and we're gonna play a concert here in an hour or two." May explained.

    Zelda smiled. That would explain the people starting to file in with glowing sticks...

    "We like seeing those as we play, so we give them out if we're playing inside or at night." Ash explained before instructing his bandmates "Get your protection on, everyone!"

    "This is Starshine..." May gestured to Starshine as she put on some protective headphones. "and this is Niji." she smiled as she gestured to Niji.

    [Nice to meet you all.] Sharshine smiled.

    [Yes, a pleasure to meet you.] Niji agreed.

    If you don't mind, we're going to find a place to enjoy the show. Zelda replied before warping away with Starshine and Niji. Play your best for me!

    "I will, Zelda!" May called back as she watched the throngs of excited fans fill the square....

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    Episode 5: Live from Petalburg (part 1)


    The square was crowded with excited people as the sun sank beneath the trees. But as May slung her electric guitar around her in the backstage area, she closed her eyes for a moment. Mom, Dad, Max, and my team--I've practiced hard, and now I will play my best for you!

    "May, we're on!" Ash called. "The warm up band just finished!"

    Here we go! May thought as she followed Ash onto the darkened stage. Even though all she could see was a sea of red lightsticks from the darkness, she saw three more raised higher than the others. That's probably Mom, Dad,and Max

    "And now, ladies and gentlemen! The Red Masters!" the announcer called, making the crowd roar with excitement. The tick-tick-tick of drum sticks tapping came next, and the stage came to life as May and Misty led the way into "Dancing on the Ceiling".

    The crowd roared and started clapping along to the nostalgic melody as Ash unleashed an ecstatic "HOO!", making half the girls in the audience scream before he sang:

    What is happening here?
    Something's going on that's not quite clear...
    Somebody turn on the lights!
    We're gonna have a party,
    It's starting tonight!

    Oh, what a feeling,
    When we're dancing on the ceiling...
    Oh, what a feeling,
    When we're dancing on the ceiling...

    The room is hot and that's good!
    Some of my friends came by from the neighborhood,
    The people startin' to climb the walls
    Ooh, it looks like everybody is having a ball!

    Oh, what a feeling,


    When we're dancing on the ceiling... May and Dawn echoed.

    Oh, what a feeling, Ash sang alone.

    When we're dancing on the ceiling... May and Dawn echoed again.

    Oh, what a feeling,
    When we're dancing on the ceiling...
    Ash sang alone.
    Oh, what a feeling,
    When we're dancing on the ceiling!


    "Come on!" Ash called to the ecstatic crowd as May broke off to solo. But as she played, May thought she saw a single light stick moving more than the others--Max cheering!

    Everybody start to lose control
    When the music is right!
    Ash and Dawn sang together.

    If you see somebody hangin' around,
    Don't get uptight!
    Ash assured the crowd.
    The only thing we want to do tonight
    Is go 'round and 'round
    And turn upside down
    Come on! Let's get down!


    The crowd roared in response to this. From her spot on the stage, May could see Calvin dancing with his Zigzagoon Stripes close to the left side of the stage, and Tiana and her friends jumping as they cheered, and waving their lightsicks in time to their cheers.

    So come on! Let's get loose!
    Don't hold back
    'Cause ain't no use!
    Ash sang again.
    Hard to keep your feet on the ground,
    'Cause when we like to party,
    We only want to get down!

    Oh, what a feeling,
    When we're dancing on the ceiling...
    Oh, what a feeling,
    When we're dancing on the ceiling...

    Oh, what a feeling,
    When we're dancing on the ceiling...
    Oh, what a feeling,
    When we're dancing on the ceiling...


    May, meanwhile just smiled, as she looked out on the sea of red lights--just seeing this many happy people had made it worth all the long hours of practicing.

    Misty playing a relaxed melody on the piano and Ash starting a relaxed melody on the concert flute prompted May to wave her hand back and forth in time to the low key beat. Dawn joined in some moments later, and the crowd followed suit--the relaxing beat was enough to calm the crowd after the raucous opening.

    When the song ended, Ash took a sweeping bow for the crowd. "Thank you! We are The Red Masters--Kanto's hottest little jam band."

    "I don't know about THE hottest, but we're up there." Brock deadpanned from the drum set, making the crowd laugh. May grinned as Ash introduced the band members one by one--no matter how many times Brock replied with the snide comment, it always got a response from the crowd.

    She then felt the spotlight on her. "And also joining me on rhythm guitar and backup vocals, Petalburg's own May!" Ash announced, making a grand gesture to her. She smiled and acknowledged the crowd's enthusiastic applause with a nod.

    Brock saying "That's everyone..." alerted her that the introductions were complete. After she had her electric guitar, she started a light rhythm as Ash's flute and Crystal's trumpet started a rhythm-driven tune before the piano joined the musical conversation. She had written the song after being inspired by the deep blue night sky, and after Max had commented that the sky looked like a sapphire, the song was christened "Sapphire Sky". Sometimes when they played the song, Ash would play trumpet and the flute part would be filled in by the piano. The crowd loved it when Ash's trumpet, an exotic flute, or his own fiddle made an appearance; but for May, she enjoyed seeing just how musically versatile Ash could be.

    The drums and the piano playing a Latin beat spurred the crowd to clap, but May took it one step further as the saxophone joined in--she lifted her hand in the air in time to the clapping, spurring the lightsticks to follow her hand.

    She smiled as she saw Norman start a conga line. Never knew Dad liked this song--maybe we should play "Lilycove Lights" more often!

  7. #7
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    Interlude: Live From Petalburg (part 2)


    "Wow! What a crowd!" Crystal giggled as she led the way backstage.

    "I'd say 'Dancing on the Ceiling' is a keeper." Misty agreed.

    "But I'm sure Wally's happy right now." May smiled. "Since we're going to play 'Room to Move' to start our second set."

    "I'm surprised our cover of "On Broadway" went as long as it did..." Dawn noted as she settled in a lounge chair and took a long drink of water.

    "Lets see, Ash showing off his pipes--and I don't mean flutes." Kamon grinned. "Long instrumental break, and an epic drum solo for good measure..."

    "Well playing all of that was hard work." Brock replied as he flexed his lightly throbbing arms. "So I'm gonna relax for a minute or two." With that, he departed for the lounge's refrigerator.

    May arrived in the lounge a few moments later. "I'm glad everyone's enjoying the show so far..."

    "Me too--although my favorite parts of that set were the rock version of 'The Fletching Feather' and that nice harmonica and guitar duet you and Ash played." Dawn replied.

    "It just started as a nice progression, then Ash started playing "Yesterday" over it, so we had to play the whole thing." May explained. "When we finished, I thought it sounded nice, and Ash agreed, so we wrote it down."

    "Having traveled with Ash myself, and seeing you onstage both here and in the contest hall, you have a desire to excel in common." Dawn began. "If you're gonna return to the battle arena, and take on the Pokemon League, you're going to need that desire and that creativity you have when you write songs."

    "Wait...what does battling have to do with writing songs?" May wondered, confused.

    "In the arena, going with the flow is critical if you want to win." Ash explained. "Something bad happens, you go with it. Pounding away with raw power not working? Look for your opponent's weak point."

    "Know thy type chart too." Brock added. "If you don't have a copy, get one--then study it until you know it like the back of your hand."

    "Yeah, don't do what I did and use a bug against a bird." Ash smiled, grinning at Misty, who just giggled at the memory.

    "Likewise, don't pit a dragon against a fairy." Serena cautioned. "You're eventually going to get a Gardevoir, so if any high and mighty dragon tamer tries to bulldoze you, put Zelda in."

    "Now, I wouldn't say Lance is high and mighty..." Ash protested, making everyone laugh.

    Serena blushed. "Okay, Lance is one of the cool dragon tamers."

    "Maybe I should tell you how he helped us on our first journey after the show." May offered.

    The roar of the crowd got her attention. "Showtime..." Brock mused.

    May got up from the chair and followed her bandmates back onstage. Thanks, guys...now I feel like I can take on the League anywhere!

    She took her acoustic guitar and closed her eyes for a moment. Wally...this song's for you!

    With that, she started the song's familiar introduction, making the crowd roar and the lightsticks wave as the stage came back to life.

    I know it seems like I'm a million miles away.... Dawn sang.
    Sometimes you feel like you don't even know me...

    But in this world the pressure's building everyday... Ash echoed.
    I need time to work things out, oh baby...

    It's not that I don't love you, Dawn sang.

    Oh no! Ash replied.
    It's just that I, I've got to have,

    Room to move! everyone sang.

    That's all I need,
    That's all I ask for, room to breathe....
    Ash sang.

    Room to move! everyone sang.

    That's all I need,
    That's all I ask for,
    Dawn sang.

    Give it to me, room to move! May and Serena sang.

    Everybody needs, Ash sang.

    Room to move! everyone else echoed. The crowd agreed with the enthusiastic song, and a million points of red light lit up the night....

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    Episode 6: Friendship Takes Flight


    After bidding her bandmates goodbye the next morning, May led the way out of Petalburg, with Max walking beside her, and Ash and Brock not far behind. Max was still on a high from the previous night. "You guys played very well last night!"

    "I know--I could see your lightstick standing out above all the others." May smiled.

    "Enthusiasm like that is what keeps the band going." Brock explained. "If the fans are happy, that makes us want to write more music and play it."

    I'm sure the drummer gets the best view of all those lightsticks. Zelda smiled.

    Brock chuckled."You have not lived until you've seen a few thousand lightsticks bouncing in time to 'The Pyroar Sleeps Tonight'."

    [Oh come on, Ash was having the most fun singing up there!] Starshine protested before singing Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-di-di-di-di-lee-um-bumba-way..., and swaying in time to a beat only she seemed to hear, albeit being flat and off key.

    Everyone laughed at Starshine's impromptu song. "Oh, Starshine...I'll teach you how to really hit the high notes sometime." Ash assured her as the group rounded the corner past a log cabin overlooking a beach. In addition to children running about with inner tubes, a boy and his Taillow were also present, setting out a picnic lunch.

    "Good to see old Mr Briney's still sailing." Brock grinned.

    "And Peeko the Wonder Wingull." May agreed.

    [Hey, Ash...] Pikachu whispered. [Can we go check out that beach? I wanna go see if it's good surfing or not.]

    "Sure...I could use a break from walking." Ash replied, before motioning for everyone to follow him down to the beach.

    The boy, meanwhile, grimaced as the group arrived. "Great--I packed too much food, Sora..."

    [What about these travelers?] the boy's Taillow offered, gesturing to the group with a wing.

    "We'd love to join you for lunch." May replied.

    The boy smiled. "Name's Billy--usually, my mom and dad come with us when we come here, but today Mom thought I was old enough to come alone--just Sora and me. But I packed too much for one person and a Taillow to eat..."

    His eyes widened when he saw Brock's guitar case. "...and maybe after we have lunch, I can teach you guys a game I made up in return for a sing along."

    "You got it." Ash replied as the group settled in.....

    Some hours (and songs) later...

    "Okay..." Billy explained as he gave the group a piece of paper with a long squiggly line on it and a pencil. "I call this game 'Ready for the Trace'--the object of the game is to trace the long squiggly line I have on the paper as best as you can. There's no time limit, but I have a prize for the one that traces the best."

    The beach was quiet, save for the waves, children playing in the distance, and the skritching as the group traced their lines. After a few tense moments, Ash set down his pencil. "Done!"

    Sora flew over and inspected Ash's work. [Were you afraid you were being timed?] she asked, showing Ash his zig-zaggy line that constantly went outside the lines.

    Ash sweatdropped. "Okay, I admit I'm spooked about time limits."

    Next, Sora inspected Max's line. [This looks a little better, but still goes outside the lines...]

    "In my defense, the tables on the beach are a bit wobbly..." Max explained.

    Sora went on to inspect Brock's line. [This one looks cleaner than the other two...]

    "Well, since there was no time limit, I just focused on accuracy." Brock explained.

    [Now for the girl...] Sora then inspected May's line. [This one's clean...and accurate too! I'd say she wins!]

    Billy walked over with a bag full of care supplies. "As thanks for spending the day with me and Sora, and tracing the best line, I'd like to give you some supplies for your journey."

    "Thanks." May replied as she accepted the package. "I had fun too!"

    "Come play with us again sometime!" Billy called as he waved goodbye.

    Ash grinned. "I love how close Billy and Sora are...almost like me and Pikachu."

    "According to the DexNav, we're coming up on Petalburg Woods, and Taillows live nearby the woods, and in the woods proper." Max explained, heaving a stray rock in the path into the grass.

    An angry squawk got his attention, and an angry Taillow fluttered in Max's direction. "Uh oh..."

    "Get behind the rock!" May called to Max before stepping before the screeching Taillow. "Zelda...can you try to calm this Taillow down?"

    Of course... Zelda replied telepathically before singing Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... creating a glowing sound wave that battered the Taillow.

    Ash gasped as Zelda warped away from a Gust attack. "How...how did your Ralts know my Heart Song for Mega Evolution?"

    "What you saw was a Fairy type attack called Disarming Voice." Brock explained. "If a Ralts' owner is close to someone with a Heart Song, this attack mimics that person's Heart Song in the form of a sound wave, which batters the target. Since it is only a mimic of a Heart Song, it can't induce Mega Evolution."

    "Since Ash and May are close friends, it makes sense that Zelda mimic Ash's Heart Song." Max agreed as Zelda used Double Team to distract the Taillow.

    Zelda, meanwhile, looked back at May as the Taillow decided which of the eight Ralts to attack. Should I use Disarming Voice again?

    "I'm not sure--that hit the Taillow pretty hard, and I would like to catch it." May replied. "So try something like Confusion."

    Got it. Zelda replied as the Taillow dove at the fifth Ralts...only to fly through thin air! A ball of magenta energy impacted next, sending the Taillow fluttering to the ground. May took that opportunity to heave a Poke Ball....

    One...

    Two...

    Three....

    Max smiled as the center of the Poke Ball dimmed. "Nice catch...maybe in the morning I can tell it sorry for hitting it with a rock."

    "That, and decide on a name for it as well." May agreed as she watched the sun sink below the treetops of Petalburg Woods....

    TO BE CONTINUED...

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