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....