Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!
My Best Friends
by EmperMaxis@aol.com

   Chapter Twenty-Two

   The morning sun shines brightly over a forested grove to the west of
   Viridian City. Through it cuts a long, winding path made of loose
   cobblestones and mortar. This isolated path, despite its looks, is actually
   connects to the well-traveled route known as "Victory Road", the way to the
   Pokemon League at Indigo Plateau. On this day, four trainers march along on
   their way to the fabled route that will lead them to their ultimate goal:
   Indigo Stadium, home of the Elite Four.
   "I can't believe it!" Lizzie says to the others. "We're finally going to
   Indigo Plateau!"
   "I know!" Jeff agrees. "It seems like it has been forever since we left
   Fuchsia, but now we've got all of our Badges."
   "This is too cool." Rex grins. "I finally got as many Badges as my
   brothers! I should call them and tell them... but I'd rather rub it in their
   faces when I become the Pokemon League Champion!"
   "... If none of us beat you to the title." Lizzie gently reminds.
   "Oh. Right, right." Rex nods hurriedly.
   "I understand how Rex feels." Katrina says, hiding a teasing smirk. "It
   is good to know that my friends are now on equal level on me as trainers."
   "Hey, that's right!" Jeff exclaims. "We've each got as many Badges as you
   are qualified for!"
   "Except for you," Katrina giggles. "Who has nine."
   Jeff blushes.
   "Well..." He sputters uncomfortably.
   "Look, guys!" Lizzie interrupts. She points ahead to a patch of light at
   the end of the forest. "I think I see where the path opens up to Victory
   Road!"
   "All right!" Rex cheers, shoving past the others. "Out of my way! I've
   got to be the first to see-"
   Suddenly, a figure jumps from out of the forest.
   "HuH?!?" Rex gasps, stopping in his tracks. "I- I don't believe it! It-
   It's you!"
   "You always were the astute one, Rex." The person responds snootily.
   "Who is that?" Lizzie asks as she an the others catch up with him.
   "Who am I?" Asks a slender teenaged girl, perhaps a year older than Rex,
   with short, pink hair. "Who am I? Only the greatest of all the Pokemon Medics
   in the world! Only the brightest star of Pokemon Medical Institute! Only the
   most powerful pokemon trainer on the face of this planet!"
   "Joy??" Rex asks, dumbfounded.
   "THAT is a Nurse Joy???" The others gasp.
   One can hardly blame them. The young woman before them doesn't look
   anything like the Joys' they had previously seen in any Pokemon Center or
   elsewhere. Her hair is cut short, barely reaching her shoulders. In place of
   the traditional Pokemon Nurse uniform, she wears a red mini-miniskirt and a
   white blouse. Most unlike the others, however, is the look of pride and scorn
   she wears on her face.
   "Yes, I am Joy." She says in a higher-than-thou voice. "Not a mere
   Pokemon 'Nurse', though. I am a fully-trained physician, equipped with months
   of experience!"
   "You just got your practicing license last Thanksgiving!" Rex rolls his
   eyes.
   "Quiet, you!" Joy snaps. "I have no time for your chattering! I have
   important things to do, and I cannot waste my time talking to children!"
   "First of all," Rex says in a slightly irritated voice. "You are sixteen;
   I am thirteen months younger than you. Secondly, you ambushed me, not vice
   versa. And third, where are you off to in such a hurry? I heard from your
   sister that you went to Seafoam."
   "It's none of your business!" Joy snarls, her eyes narrowing. "Yes, I was
   on Seafoam Island, but I came back. And do you know why?"
   "No, but I'm sure you'll tell me." Rex sighs.
   "I am here to compete in the Pokemon League," Joy says triumphantly. "And
   to take my rightful place as Pokemon League Champion! Hahaha-a!"
   "Oh, please..." Rex rolls his eyes. "You only have one pokemon: a
   Persian."
   "Oh, really?" Joy arches an eyebrow. "Then, would you care to have a
   little match?"
   "Against your wimpy pokemon?" Rex scoffs. "It will be a pleasure. How
   many each?"
   "Two against two is fine by me." She smiles sweetly.
   "Oh, so you caught another one." Rex snorts. "Well, unless it was a
   Legendary Bird, it isn't going to help you. Go, Flareon!"
   A bright flash of light reveals a furry, red pokemon with a coat that
   seems to dance like a flame.
   "Flaaareon!" It cries, ready for battle.
   "Go, pokeball!" Joy giggles, releasing her first pokemon.
   The beam of energy from her pokeball slowly forms a creature none of the
   others have ever seen before. Right in front of Rex's startled eyes, a new
   pokemon takes form.
   "Riiiii!" Snarls a purple, catlike pokemon with three twitching tails.
   "What is that thing?" Rex gasps.
   "There's nothing on it in the pokedex!" Jeff exclaims, analyzing the
   strange creature with his handheld PC.
   "It... it is a new species..." Rex sputters. "An evolution of... Eevee?"
   "So, what they say is true," Joy points out. "That a Stone Brother can
   always identify an "Eeveelution". Well, it will do you little good in this
   battle. Rex, say hello to 'Efui'!"
   " 'Efui' ?" Rex repeats. "Is it recognized by the Pokemon League?"
   "It was just recently authorized." Joy smiles smugly. "The pokedex has
   yet to be updated with information on it. Though the species is yet unnamed,
   I call my pokemon Efui."
   "How... how did you get it?" Rex asks, dumbfounded.
   "Wouldn't you like to know?" She sneers.
   "Well, you may have a new pokemon," Rex says confidently. "But it will be
   no match for my superior Eeveelution! Flareon, Flamethrower!"
   "Flaaaar!" It roars, exhaling a tremendous blast of fire from its
   internal fire sac. The flame singes leaves and chars the bark of trees. When
   the smoke clears, however, Efui is not there.
   "Where is it?" Rex asks, confused. "I don't see-"
   "Up there!" Katrina points up to an overhead tree. Efui sits on a high
   branch, watching the trainers with amusement.
   "How did it get up there?" Rex asks. "No matter. Flareon, Ember!"
   Flareon spits out a bombardment of flames at the creature on its perch.
   Instants before they reach it, however, Efui disappears in a flash of light.
   "What???" Rex gasps. "How-?"
   "Hahaha-a!" Joy laughs as her purplish pokemon rematerializes next to
   her. "Efui knows Teleport! I bet you can't guess what type it is!"
   "In a few seconds, it won't matter!" Rex yells. "Flareon, Take Down!"
   "FLAReon!" It bellows, charging its opponent.
   "Riiii!" Efui squeals. Suddenly, a blast of concentrated energy shoots
   from it and slams Flareon against a tree.
   "Flaaaaar!" Rex's pokemon grunts in pain.
   "Flareon!" Rex exclaims. "What... what was that attack?"
   "Psybeam." Jeff says grimly. "I'd know it anywhere."
   "Give it up, Rexie!" Joy cackles. "It is obvious you're outmatched!"
   "No way!" Rex refuses. "Flareon, Skull Bash!"
   Again, his pokemon charges Efui. Seconds before it reaches its target,
   however, strange distorting waves of energy are emitted from Efui.
   "Flare???" Flareon sputters, suddenly unable to stay awake. "Flaaaar....
   e... on...."
   With that, it passes out on the grass.
   "No way!" Rex gawks at his snoozing pokemon. "An Eeveelution that knows
   Hypnosis?"
   "Believe it, Rexie!" Joy says scornfully. "Why don't you admit it? I'm
   the better trainer!"
   "Never!" Rex shoots back. "I'm not beaten yet! Go, Jolteon!"
   "JOLteon!" The spiny yellow pokemon snarls as it is released from its
   pokeball.
   "(sigh) How... original..." Joy mutters sarcastically.
   "Jolteon, Thunderbolt!" Rex orders. A bolt of electricity shoots from
   Jolteons bristles, right for Efui. Nanoseconds before a sure hit, Efui
   disappears.
   "No fair!" Rex complains. "I had it for sure!"
   "Teleport is a fair skill." Joy 'tsk-tsk's her cousin. "I'm surprised you
   find it so troubling, Rexie."
   "Quit calling me that!" Rex yells. "Jolteon, give it another!"
   "JOLteon!" His pokemon agrees. It fires at the tree branch where Efui now
   perches. Efui teleports away just before it hits, and the bolt merely snaps
   the branch in half. Jolteon fires again at a patch of tall grass, but Efui
   escapes and the grass is shredded. Again Jolteon takes aim at the trunk of a
   tree, and again Efui transmits itself away and the tree trunk is reduced to
   splinters.
   "Give up, Rex!" Joy snickers. "My Efui is faster than lightning!"
   "We'll see." Rex rubs his chin thoughtfully. "Hey, that's it! Jolteon,
   use your Thunder attack!"
   A look of horror covers Joy's face as Jolteon sends a bolt of electricity
   straight through the forest canopy. For a moment, all is silent, and a few
   leaves that were shaken loose of their branches by the attack drift to the
   ground. Then, with a deep rumbling sound, a tremendous surge of lightning
   crashes down through the trees. Unable to teleport out of the ring without
   losing the match, Efui can only watch it coming.
   "Riiiiiiiiii!!!" It shrieks as its hair is shocked on end. Then, all
   three tails flailing wildy it scampers back to its trainer and presses its
   nose against its pokeball, returning inside.
   "No!!!" Joy shouts. "Impossible! You couldn't have-"
   "Beaten your Efui?" Rex grins. "I hate to break it to you, but I did."
   "You won't be so lucky against my next one!" Joy sneers, readying her
   other pokeball. "Consider it payback for last year's family reunion!"
   "I knew she'd bring that up..." Rex sighs.
   "For my last pokemon, I choose Burakki!" Joy tosses out another pokeball.
   A flash of light reveals a brown-and-black pokemon with pointed ears.
   " 'Burakki'?" Rex asks. "Another evolved form of Eevee?"
   "Correct." Joy smirks mischievously. "One of a previously unknown type.
   This pokemon is nocturnal, and only found at night!"
   (Note: I don't know how accurate that last statement is, but there is a
   Burakki in Gold and Silver).
   "What attacks does it have?" Jeff asks curiously. Joy's face flushes with
   embarassment, then scorn.
   "None of your stupid business!" She snaps. "Burakki, attack!"
   "BrrkkK!" It snarls, leaping at Jolteon. The agile electric fighter
   quickly sidesteps the oncoming pokemon and whirls around to face it as it
   lands.
   "Jolteon, Pin Missile!" Rex orders. Instantly, hard bristles shoot from
   Jolteon's rough fur like miniature needles. They shatter on impact against
   Burakki's tough coat, but nonetheless sting sharply.
   "Brr-KKKKK!" Burakki shrieks.
   "Burakki, stop clowning around!" Joy scolds. "Now, Sand Attack!"
   Obediently, Burakki digs its paws into the loose earth and kicks up a
   cloud of sand. Jolteon coughs and hacks as the dust stings his eyes, making
   it impossible for him to use any electric moves.
   "Now, Tail Whip!" Joy shouts.
   "Brrkkkkk!" It roars, charging the immobile Jolteon.
   "Jolteon!" Rex winces as his pokemon is caught across the face by
   Burakki's tail. The creature lashes several times more, knocking Jolteon
   further and further back.
   "No, Burakki!" Joy warns. "Stop it! You're moving him right out of the...
   cloud..."
   At this moment, Jolteon is free of the blinding soot. It grins
   mischievously at Burakki, who cowers before it.
   "Jolteon, Thunderbolt!" Rex orders.
   KXXXXXXXzzzzT! A tremendous blast of electric energy singes Burakki's fur
   and makes the hairs stand on end.
   "Now, Double Kick!" Rex commands.
   "JOLteon!" Jolteon obediently delivers two powerful kicks squarely
   against Burakki's torso. The pokemon is knocked through the air and crashes
   against a tree.
   "BrrrrrrKKKKK!" It groans, collapsing from sheer exhaustion.
   "BURAKKI!!!" Joy shrieks. "NO!!!"
   "Hate to break it to you, Joy," Rex grins, satisfied. "But you lost!"
   "Return!" Joy calls, withdrawing Burakki back into its pokeball. "Listen,
   you little punk! You got lucky this time! This changes NOTHING!"
   Then, making a high-pitched whining noise, she runs madly down the path
   through the forest. The others watch her go.
   "Jyyynx..." Jynx rolls its eyes.
   "Weird." Lizzie comments. "I don't get it. Why was she so upset?"
   "She's not like any Joy I've ever met..." Jeff observes.
   "Most unusual." Katrina notes.
   "Well, that's Joy for you." Rex shrugs. "But, man! Did you check out
   those two new Eeveelutions? Wow!"
   "I can't believe the pokedex doesn't even have anything about them." Jeff
   nods his head. "That is pretty amazing."
   "Do you realize what this means?" Rex asks, getting worked up over the
   situation. "There might be even more evolved forms of Eevee! I could go way
   farther than my brothers EVER did! Could you imagine if I discovered an new
   form of Eevee??? That would be totally incredible!"
   "Hey, stranger things have happened." Lizzie agrees. "In fact, I've heard
   all sorts of rumors about other 'Eons'. It is rumored that, given certain
   circumstances, Eevee can evolve by the Leaf and Moon stones, or even by Fire,
   Water, and Thunder at the same time!"
   "Leafeon, Lunareon, and Ultreon." Katrina nods. "I've heard those legends
   before. Who knows if they are actually true..."
   "I heard that a trainer in Saffron City found a new type of evolution
   stone!" Jeff says excitedly. "They call it the... the Rainbow Stone, I think.
   It supposedly evolved an Eevee into some kind of Dragon/Ice creature called
   'Opaleon'."
   "I've heard the same rumors." Rex nods in agreement. "I can't imagine...
   That would be so cool!"
   "As interesting as this all is," Lizzie points out. "We can either stand
   around here talking all day, or we can go to Victory Road."
   "Sorry about that..." Rex shrugs sheepishly. "I guess I just got a little
   carried away."
   "No problem." Lizzie giggles. "Let's just get on our way!"
   "All right!" Jeff cheers. "We're on the way to Indigo Plateau!"

   Meanwhile, back in Celadon City, the mysterious Boss of Team Rocket sits
   at his desk, squeezing a stress ball to the point where it is sure to burst.
   Finally, after taking a deep breath, he presses a button on an electric panel
   nearby.
   "Send them in." He speaks aloud. The large, wooden doors on the opposite
   end of the room slowly slide open. Two figures stand outside, neither glad to
   be in one another's company. They seemed to be on the verge of fighting, but
   upon seeing the angered look on the Boss' face, they both fall silent.
   "Artemus Fitzgerald," He speaks slowly, beckoning them in. "Felice
   Navidad, never in my life have I seen such promising agents degenerate so
   rapidly."
   "What?!?" They both gasp at the same time.
   "Sir, what do you mean?" Artemus asks.
   "Surely you do not compare me to the likes of him!" Felice suggests,
   horrified.
   "SILENCE!" He shouts, his voice booming through the room. "This is the
   type of chaos that I'm talking about! You two have grown callous, careless.
   You do not plan out every step of your heists as you should. Instead, you
   waste time bickering and fighting with each other. In the past five months,
   you have yet to bring one single pokemon back to us! Just exactly what have
   you been DOING?!?"
   "Sir, if I might explain-" Artemus starts.
   "Do not SPEAK!" He snarls. "I warned you once, didn't I? DIDN'T IT?!? Is
   this not the exact speech I have given you before??"
   "But.. but Sir!" Felice interjects.
   "Neither of you seem to grasp exactly the severity of your actions." He
   growls in a low voice. "I was able to forgive a few lost pieces of equipment,
   albeit expensive merchandise." He takes a deep breath, and continues. "Now,
   however, I learn that due to your gross incompetence, the Cinabarr Island
   Police Force may have all the evidence they need to jeopardize our entire
   operation!"
   "WHAT???" The two agents exclaim.
   "I was recently informed that after you lost the Hypno Adapter Helmet,"
   The Boss continues. "You failed to return and destroy it, thus no trace of
   your equipment be left. Later, the Cinabarr authorities located the helmet
   right where you left it!! Do you realize what this means? Now they an trace
   it back to our supplier, and they in turn can link it back to US!!!"
   "But.. that is impossible!" Artemus shakes his head emphatically. "When
   the Fuji boy's Scyther severed the link from the control box, the helmet fell
   into the nearby bushes. No one was around to see where it landed other than
   us!"
   "He's right, for once!" Felice agrees. "Even the boy didn't look! No one
   could have possibly known!"
   "Do you idiots think that I BELIEVE you?" He thunders. "You have ZERO
   credibilty! You would say absolutely anything to get yourselves off the hook
   now, wouldn't you?"
   "YES!" They both agree at once. "We mean... no!"
   "The fact of the matter is," The Boss sighs, sinking into his chair.
   "That the Police have the helmet due to your lack of concern for our
   interests."
   "But that isn't what happened!" They both shout at once. He holds up a
   hand for them to be silent.
   "It grieves me to have to do this..." He rubs his temples with his
   knuckles. "But sadly, you have left me no other choice." The Boss stands up
   and looks them squarely in the eyes. "As of this moment, you are both
   expelled from Team Rocket."
   "NO!!!!" They wail. "Sir, you can't do this!"
   "Unfortunately, I have no other options." He sighs. "You both had
   high-level security access, thus I need not remind you that you are forbidden
   to speak of your experiences outside the Organization."
   "Boss, you- you can't be serious!" Artemus exclaims.
   "Surely... there must be some other way!" Felice urges.
   "If only there was." He shakes his head. "But the code is quite clear.
   You two are henceforth stripped of your titles, and as civilians we can have
   no contact with you. You will burn your uniforms and shred your ID's."
   "Please, Sir, I implore you-!" Artemus begs.
   "Sir, you have to give us another chance!" Felice cries.
   "As I recall, I did." He shakes his head with disgust. "Now, begone from
   my sight, both of you!"

   After the defeated duo left, each traveling their seperate ways, two
   figures appear in the Boss' office.
   "I trust all went well?" A tall man with spikey blue hair asks.
   "As well as it can," The Boss replies, sighing. "When one is dismissing
   the best agents one has ever had in one's Organization."
   "Oh, don't feel so badly for them." A slender, graceful woman with long,
   purple hair says soothingly. "After all, they brought it upon themselves. It
   wasn't your decision to make."
   "I suppose not." The Boss agrees reluctantly. "And again, I must thank
   you both for informing upon them to me. Though I dread such cases, it is
   necessary in keeping the Team clean of excess garbage."
   "Ha! Like the two of them!" The man laughs heartily. The Boss smiles
   weakly.
   "I can tell that you're still upset." The woman says sweetly, giving him
   a shoulder massage. "But I can assure you that we read the police report just
   after they apprehended the merchandise. The Cinabarr authorities were
   notified before Artemus and Felice even left the island."
   "You can trust us!" The man agrees. "After all, we've never given you any
   reason to doubt us."
   "Your past performance is... impressive." The Boss admits. "Very well.
   You two shall serve as their replacements, filling in as Prime Duo on the
   roster."
   "You are most generous, Sire." The woman smiles graciously.
   "Indeed." The man concurs. "And let us show you of why we are the best!"
   He throws a smalls capsule to the ground, which explodes into colored
   powder. The two figures leap into the center of the room.
   "Prepare for Trouble!"
   "Make it Double!"
   "To Protect the World from Devastation!"
   "To Unite all Peoples Within Our Nation!"
   "To Denounce the Evils of Truth and Love!"
   "To Extend Oud Reach to the Stars Above!"
   "Teresa! ~ Miguel!"
   "Team Rocket, Blast Off at the Speed of Light!"
   "Surrender Now, or Prepare to Fight!"
   A fearsome, winged creature perches on Miguel's shoulder.
   "GOL-BAT!"
   "HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa!" They laugh maniacally. The Boss smiles faintly, but
   secretly wonders if he made the right choice.

Chapter Twenty-Three

  ( The characters Professor Princepis and his son, Leo, are not my creations;
  they, along with Felice's sister Cordelia and her nutty partner Jethro belong
  to Atticus987, fellow pokemaniac and fanfic author whose story runs parallel
  to mine.)

  Colorful banners fly high in the air over Indigo Stadium atop the
  majestic Indigo Plateau. This world-famous location, home of the Pokemon
  League, is getting ready for its peak season, in which hundreds and thousands
  of trainers from across Pokemon Island will come to use their best pokemon in
  the Annual Pokemon League Games! Right now, all along the fabled street
  called Victory Road, shopkeepers sweep their floors, restaurant owners polish
  their windows, and general spectators watch from the sidewalks at the efforts
  made by the city to spruce up things before the Main Event. Some dedicated
  fans sit in folding chairs or on the occassional bandstand, waiting for the
  great parade that will come tomorrow when the Torch is brought to light the
  flame atop Indigo Stadium. Now, however, they watch as four determined
  travelers (accompanied by four just as strong-willed pokemon) march up the
  slope. Reaching the crest of the hill, they stop, awed, to look ahead.
  "Oh, wow..." Rex says after a moment. "I don't believe it..."
  "It's... really there..." Lizzie breathes deeply. "We're... we're here."
  "We made it." Jeff agrees, equally amazed.
  "Indigo Stadium." Katrina says quietly, looking ahead at the massive
  domed structure atop the next hill.
  For a moment, the four of them are silent.
  "We DID it!" Lizzie cheers, leaping in the air. "We actually DID it!"
  She and her pokemon do an impromptu dance right on the street. Katrina
  giggles, and joins in. Jeff and Rex hesitate, but upon seeing other trainers
  exhibiting similar signs of joy and emotion, they too begin laughing and
  shouting.
  "We're here!" Jeff shouts. "The four of us came all this way... and now
  we're on top of Indigo Plateau!"
  "We beat the Gym Leaders," Rex grins triumphantly. "We beat our rivals,
  and now..."
  "Now we'll beat the Elite Four!" Lizzie laughs.
  "I... am speechless." Katrina shakes her head, a look of calm and quiet
  satisfaction on her face. "I never dreamed... It is all so very beautiful."
  "You mean you've never been here?" Jeff asks quizically. "I thought all
  Gym Leaders came here at one time or another."
  "Well, perhaps some do." Katrina shrugs. "But I assure you that this is
  the first time I've ever set foot on Victory Road."
  "Where to now, guys?" Lizzie asks.
  "I for one am starving!" Rex exclaims. "Why don't we get a bite to eat?"
  "Rex, we just had a picnic breakfast not two hours ago!" Lizzie rolls her
  eyes. "Can you think about something other than your stomach?"
  "Like what?" He asks.
  "Like your feet!" Jeff suggests. "Or, rather, mine. I don't know about
  you guys, but walking for two days straight has gotten me pretty tired. It
  also didn't help that every trainer between here and Viridian City just had
  to challenge one of us to a match."
  "I agree with Jeff." Katrina nods. "A chance to rest would be...
  appreciable."
  "We can sit down in a restaurant." Rex says sheepishly.
  "Why don't we just go to the nearest Pokemon Center?" Lizzie asks. "We
  can unpack our stuff, and then, if you're so hungry Rex, you can get some
  food."
  "Okay," Rex agrees. "There's just one problem."
  "What's that?" Katrina asks.
  "The only Pokemon Center on Indigo Plateau is in the Pokemon Village."
  Rex says. "You know, that's the place where trainers that are staying for the
  League Games stay."
  "Yeah?" Lizzie asks. "So?"
  "Well, before you get into the Village," Rex explains. "You have to check
  in first."
  "And your point would be...?" Jeff prompts.
  "Admission is ninety dollars a head." He finishes.
  "WHAT?!?" The others gasp.
  "How can they charge ninety dollars per person?" Lizzie asks.
  "That's outrageous!" Jeff declares.
  "Well, it's really not when you think about it." Katrina interjects. The
  others eye her with curiosity. "After all, the League has to make money
  somehow to sponsor all of these competitions. Ninety dollars (or whatever
  currency they use in the Pokemon World) is a bit steep, but it covers room
  and board, and all that you can eat until the competition is over."
  "Really?" Lizzie arches her eyebrows. "That's not so bad."
  "I guess not." Jeff shrugs. "But... where are we going to get that kind
  of money?"
  "From the same place we always get money," Rex suggests. "Our parents! To
  the phones!"
  "Uh... Rex?" Lizzie asks. "Unless you've forgotten, all of the phones are
  in the Pokemon Village, at the Pokemon Centers."
  "Oh." Rex says sheepishly. "Well, maybe they have phones in one of these
  stores!"
  They look at the numerous stores along both sides of the street. Each and
  every one has a sign in the window: "Phones only for paying customers!"
  "How convenient." Lizzie smiles bitterly.

  "What do you mean you won't take credit?!?" Rex sputters. He and the
  others face the steely-eyed receptionist at the gate of the Pokemon Village.
  She seems unimpressed by the boy's plead.
  "Look, I'm sorry that you're so upset," She says while filing her nails.
  "But rules are rules. No dough, no show."
  "Come on, give me a break!" Rex exclaims. "Look, I've got eight badges!
  Can't I just go in now and pay later?"
  "Sorry, kiddo." The woman shrugs, popping a stick of gum into her mouth.
  "No luck, Rex?" Lizzie asks as the spikey-haired boy from Stone Town
  marches back with a glum expression on his forehead.
  "Nope." He sighs gloomily. "How are we going to get in? None of us have
  any money, and there aren't any telephones for us to use either."
  "What we need is a miracle." Jeff observes.
  Suddenly, several familiar voices reaches the travelers from nearby.
  Everyone's mouth drops open, but none so much as Rex's.
  "I don't believe it..." He gapes. "But I'd recognize those voices
  anywhere!"
  He quickly darts down the street and around the corner. There, before his
  eyes, is a large truck with several men unloading band equipment from it into
  the loading dock of the Village. And standing next to them, monitoring their
  every move, are Rex's three oldest brothers: Sparky, Rainer, and Pyro.
  "Guys!" Rex exclaims. The three brothers turn to face him with startled
  looks on their faces. Then they grin.
  "Rex?" Pyro asks. "I don't believe it! What are you doing here?"
  "I'm going to compete in the League Games!" He laughs. "What are you
  doing here?"
  "Hold on," Sparky's eyes grow wide. "Did you just say that you came to
  compete? Does that mean-"
  "You have eight badges???" Rainer finishes, astonished.
  "Yep!" Rex nods proudly. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his
  wallet, in which are eight glittering Gym Badges."
  "All right Rexster!" Pyro laughs, slapping his younger brother on the
  back.
  "You finally did it, kiddo!" Sparky agrees, messing up his hair.
  "I never thought you had it in you!" Rainer grins ear to ear. "Our little
  Rexie's all grown up!"
  "Uh... yeah..." Rex's face turns red. Eager to change the subject, he
  gestures to the band equipment still be transported from the truck. "So, what
  are you three doing here?"
  "We're the opening act for the Pre-Game Festival!" Sparky proudly
  proclaims.
  "You??" Rex arches an eyebrow curiously.
  "Who else?" Pyro asks.
  "This is the best gig our band's ever gotten!" Rainer says excitedly.
  "We've finally hit the big time!"
  "How many are you going to play?" Rex asks.
  "Just a couple." Sparky shrugs. "We're only scheduled for seven thirty
  to.... eleven."
  "What?!?" Rex gasps.
  "Kidding!" Sparky chuckles. "Only until ten."
  "What are you going to perform?" Rex asks.
  "Oh, the basics." Rainer says. " 'Aim To Be a Master', 'Viridian City',
  and some others."
  "How will you guys perform it?" Rex asks. "Where's that equipment going?"
  "They're setting up the bandstand in Indigo Stadium." Sparky explains.
  "After the parade and the lighting of the torch, we'll be the opening group
  at the concert that will be held in the Stadium. The Games don't actually
  begin until tomorrow, you know."
  "Yeah, I know." Rex agrees. "So, you'll be the lead, I guess."
  "You know it!" Sparky jokes.
  "And I guess Rainer's got drum-duty again." Rex says.
  "As always." Rainer nods.
  "And that leaves Pyro with the electric guitar." Rex finishes.
  "Yep." Pyro grins.
  "Say... where's Mikey?" Rex asks.
  "Back in the hotel." Sparky sighs. "We couldn't tear him away from his
  laptop."
  "Laptop?" Rex asks. "What's he running?"
  "The whole company, practically." Rainer grins. "He always was the
  responsible one. When we left, he was handling four major accounts online,
  and two of them were in languages I can't even pronounce!"
  "Is he going to perform with you?" Rex asks.
  "Oh, sure." Sparky nods.
  "Like we could keep him away from that keyboard when he wants to play!"
  Pyro jokes.
  "Um, Rex?" Lizzie says, walking up behind them. The boys turn around to
  see the slender, young girl with strawberry-blonde hair. Sparky, Rainer, and
  Pyro gawk at her openly for several seconds. She smiles and says 'hi' to
  them. They nod dumbly and mutter incoherently.
  "Oh, sorry Lizzie." Rex says sheepishly. "I forgot you guys were still
  waiting. Hey, that gives me an idea! Guys, do you think you could spot us
  some money to get in?"
  "I'll do better than that!" Sparky says, recovering. "How would you and
  your charming friend like backstage passes to our concert tomorrow night? If
  you're with us, then you can get in for free!"
  "Sounds great!" Lizzie eagerly agrees. "That's really nice of you,
  Sparky."
  "Nah, it's the least I can do." Sparky shrugs. "You've kept Rex out of
  trouble for so long, I guess I sort of owe you."
  "Hey!" Rex frowns. Lizzie giggles.
  "Great!" She smiles. "I'll go tell the others. Rex, you stay here and get
  our passes."
  "Uh... sure, Lizzie." He shrugs. The four brothers watch as the young
  blonde beauty runs down the sidewalk, the sun shining in her long, smooth
  hair.
  "You can stop staring now." Rex says to Pyro and Rainer. "She's a little
  young for you, don't you think?"
  "Oh, right." They agree, snapping their jaws shut. "Sorry about that.
  Lost focus a little, there."

  "Oh... my... gosh..." Lizzie says one word at a time as she and the
  others come into the main lobby of the Pokemon Village Hotel. "I don't...
  believe it..."
  And well she might feel awestruck. Smooth, polished marble floors reflect
  their image in them. Huge columns support the ornately-carved ceiling. A
  giant stone fountain sends archs of crystal clear water in gentle cascades
  into the basin, making the appearance of flowing silk. One tremendous
  chandelier shines ablaze with dozens of lights. A persian carpet rests before
  the receptionist's desk.
  "This...." Jeff's mouth drops open as he surveys it all. "This is
  unbelievable."
  "Never before have I seen such... splendor." Katrina agrees, equally
  amazed. "Had I known Indigo Plateau had such facilities... Perhaps Father and
  I shall come here someday."
  "What are we waiting for?" Rex asks, the sheer elegance of the place lost
  to him. "Let's sign in and get to our rooms!"
  With that, he runs across the floor, scuffing his sneaker on the marble
  and wrinkling the carpet as he tromps across it. Jeff groans. Katrina stares
  in disbelief. Lizzie covers her eyes in dismay while her escorts shake their
  heads.
  "Can I help you?" A none-too-pleased female receptionist with short red
  hair asks.
  "I'm here to check in." Rex says. "My friends too. Lizzie brought some
  luggage, but she has escorts and they can probably handle it."
  "Mm-hmm." She responds. "Well, then, I'll sign you in. May I see your
  pokedex?"
  "Sure." Rex says, handing it over. The receptionist plugs it into her
  console and enters a flurry of keystrokes. Suddenly, her eyes grow large. She
  looks at him, surprised.
  "You... you're Rex Stone?" She asks.
  "The one and only!" Rex grins.
  "Does that mean-" She asks. "That Rainer Stone is your brother??"
  "Um... yeah." He shrugs.
  "Ohmygosh!" She shrieks. "I used to date him! Is he here? Is he with you?"
  "He's unloading his equipment..." Rex sputters.
  "Aaaah!" She screams. "He's performing here? This is too COOL!" (she
  turns to the nearest receptionist) "Sarah, you'll never guess who's here!"
  "Professor Oak?" Sarah asks.
  "NO!" The receptionist exclaims. "The STONE brothers!"
  "WHAT?" Sarah gasps. "I don't BELIEVE it!!!"
  She and the other receptionist begin jumping up and down, talking
  excitedly. Rex stares in absolute shock. Lizzie and Jeff burst into laughter
  while Katrina stifles a giggle. Eevee shakes its head sadly. Chansey and Jynx
  exchange knowing glances. Rediba snickers.

  "This is great!" Jeff exclaims upon stepping into the hotel room. He
  looks around at the full cache of furniture, digital clock, cable TV, radio,
  and assorted plush seats. Rediba hops off his shoulder and lands on one of
  the two beds.
  "Yeah, well, if we're going to share a room," Rex says, coming in behind
  him. "Let's get a few things straight right away. Number one: don't hog the
  bathroom. Number two: don't snore."
  "Number three:" Jeff retorts. "Don't take longer than twenty minutes
  combing your hair."
  "What does that mean?" Rex asks.
  "I dunno..." Jeff shrugs, staring at the mass of spikey hair on Rex's
  head. "I just kinda figured it'd take you awhile to comb that all down..."
  Eevee snickers.
  "Whoa!" Rex says, ignoring him. "Check out the view!"
  He flings the curtains aside, revealing a small terrace overlooking the
  pool area. Multiple slides zig-zag into an enormous swimming pool, several
  hot tubs are masked in clouds of steam nearby, and a Hawaii-style snack bar
  is set up by the picnic area. Next to the main pool is a smaller version with
  a sign reading ' Wading Pool: for toddlers and Water Pokemon '.
  "Vaporeon would probably like that." Rex notes.
  "I imagine Lizzie and Katrina would like that." Jeff says, pointing to a
  sign marked ' spa: this way'.
  Meanwhile, the girls are happily exploring their room as well.
  "This is totally unbelievable!" Lizzie exclaims to Katrina. She hops onto
  the bed nearest the window. "I call this bed!"
  "Very well." Katrina smiles. "But, I call first shower privileges."
  "Chansey!" Chansey cries as Jynx turns on the hair dryer. A gust of hot
  air knocks the complementary bottles of shampoo and conditioner off the
  counter.
  "Jynx! Put that down!" Lizzie cries, running to her friend's aid. Katrina
  hides a smile with her hand.
  "Well, crisis averted." Lizzie says a moment later, coming back into the
  main room. "Jynx is going to have to learn to be more careful with human
  things."
  "Jynx will have ample opportunity." Katrina nods. "Now, however, I
  believe that a quick nap before dinner is desirable. We have, after all, been
  on the road for... quite some time now."
  "I agree." Lizzie says, stifling a yawn. "I could stand to catch a few
  winks. I'll tell the guys to go ahead and register for us."
  "Don't let them forget to purchase tickets," Katrina reminds her friend.
  "For the concert tomorrow night."
  "Oh, I'm glad you said that!" Lizzie exclaims. "Knowing Rex, he would've
  completely forgotten to get any."
  "Either that..." Katrina smiles mischievously. "Or he would conveniently
  'misplace' them on the way back, rather than see his brothers perform."
  At this, they both laugh loudly.

  "Approaching Indigo Plateau." A steely-eyed man with crystal-blue hair
  says to his partner. He wears a dark black uniform with a crimson R painted
  on the front of his shirt.
  "Good." His partner agrees. She has long, smooth purple hair, elegantly
  combed over her shoulders. She smiles cruelly, her ruby red lipstick glinting
  in the setting sun. "Soon, the finest pokemon in the world will be ours for
  the taking! No one will be able to stop us! The Boss will probably name us
  his successors!"
  "And it is so simple now." The man chuckles coldly. "With those two
  idiots out of the way, we have literally no competition within the
  organization! You and I, Teresa, shall become the new leaders of Team Rocket!"
  "It was so clever to frame them!" Teresa cackles. "Miguel, you should be
  commended! Such an ingenious plot. Stealing the Hypno-Adapter from where it
  fell? Handing it over to the police with an anonymous note? Sheer brilliance!"
  "Thank you, my dear." Miguel bows low. "You are much too kind, however.
  It was equally executed on your part as well."
  "GO-OL!" A terrible, shrill howl reaches them.
  "Oh, did you feed Golbat?" Teresa asks. "Miguel, you know he can't stand
  to be without food for over an hour!"
  "How stupid of me!" Miguel slaps his forehead. "I'll be at it at once."
  "No, let me." Teresa shakes her head. "You are, after all, the pilot of
  this vessel. You tend to the controls, and I'll tend to our little pet."
  "Very well." He agrees. "Go strap yourself in. I'm increasing the
  throttle."
  The Fearow airship streaks through the twilight sky.

Chapter Twenty-four

  "Hurry up Rex!" Lizzie calls over her shoulder. "We'll be late!"
  Rex, who follows carrying four folding chairs on his back, is less than
  pleased at this remark.
  "Lizzie, the parade begins at eleven thirty," He says tersely. "And it's
  eight fifteen right now. I don't think we have to worry about being late!"
  "Typical." Lizzie rolls her eyes. She walks with Katrina, her two escorts
  following her. Jeff has his nose buried in an Indigo League brochure, and Rex
  comes last, hauling a sizable load. They all walk along a path from the
  Pokemon Village to Indigo Stadium, where they hope to get good seats for the
  grand parade and pre-game festivities that start today, including the famous
  torchlighting ceremony.
  "Hey, listen to this!" Jeff says, reading from his pamphlet. "It says
  that the Indigo League meets four times a year, and that these are the Spring
  Games."
  Katrina gives him an odd look.
  "Yes... that would make sense..." Katrina says slowly. "Considering that
  this is spring."
  She and Lizzie giggle.
  "What?" Jeff asks.
  "Nothing!" Katrina chuckles. "Go on."
  "Well," He continues. "It also says right here that Mr. Goodshow, the
  president of the League, will make his usual appearance at the torchlighting
  ceremony, and later on to give out medals to the winners."
  "Fascinating." Lizzie says without looking back.
  "He sounds like a pretty cool guy." Jeff says. "According to this, he's
  over sixty and not married."
  "Incredible." Lizzie says, stifling a yawn.
  "He also has a nephew." Jeff reads on.
  "Astounding." Lizzie says, glancing at her watch.
  "Age twenty-three." Jeff mentions.
  Lizzie freezes in her tracks.
  "Really?" She asks, suddenly interested. "Does it have his picture?"
  "Right here-" Jeff manages to get out before she snatches the brochure
  from his hand. "He's a bachelor too, apparently."
  "Apparently." Lizzie echoes, looking over the photo. "Hmm... I wonder
  if..."
  "What's she looking at?" Rex pants, setting down the chairs. "Are we
  taking a break?"
  "Oh, sorry." Lizzie says, coming back to her senses. "I, uh, I sort of
  zoned out there."
  "Yeah." Jeff grins. "Hey, Earth to Lizzie! Come back!"
  "Ha ha..." Lizzie mutters drily. Then, seeing Rex, she blushes. "Oh, I
  was just, err, reading an article. About.. fishing!"
  "I never knew you liked fishing." Rex arches an eyebrow curiously.
  "Yeah, fishing for Water pokemon!" Lizzie says nervously. "Nothing like
  it! Well, that's enough breaking for one day. Don't want to be late for the
  parade!"
  Chansey and Jynx exchange glances.
  "I still don't see why your pink egg can't carry this." Rex sighs,
  hoisting up the chairs.
  Chansey glares at Rex, secretly vowing to serve the boy a rotten egg the
  next time it cooks.

  Hours later, the trainers are all in the stands of Indigo Stadium, along
  with hundreds of other fans that have shown up early for the festival. Lizzie
  reclines in her seat, rubbing on tanning lotion. Rex gawks openly at her.
  Furious, he steps up to her.
  "Rex, you're blocking my sun." Lizzie frowns, her eyes shut.
  "Lizzie," He seeths. "Why is it exactly that you had me drag those chairs
  all the way here when they had seats IN Indigo Stadium???"
  "Well, those stadium seats are so dirty," She shudders at the thought of
  them. "Mustard stains and grease! I'd much rather sit in these chairs."
  "Why, then, did you need four?" Rex asks.
  "One for me," Lizzie says, taking off her sunglasses. "One for Chansey,
  one for Jynx, and one for my drinks. Who did you think they were for?"
  "US!" He yells, his voice echoing through the Stadium.
  "What made you think that?" Lizzie asks. Rex's eye twitches involuntarily.
  "Calm down, Rex," Jeff says to his friend. "We can just sit down over-"
  "Where?" Rex snaps. "On the 'mustard stains and grease'? Four, Lizzie?
  FOUR?"
  "You didn't expect me to hold my drinks in my lap, did you?" Lizzie asks.
  "Since I carried them all this way," Rex says, taking a chair. "I think I
  deserve to at least sit in one."
  "Rex!" Lizzie exclaims. "What are you doing? Give that back!"
  Chansey and Jynx watch in surprise as Lizzie leaps up and grabs onto the
  chair. Rex pulls back.
  "I said... I'm taking it!" Rex growls.
  "And I said," Lizzie returns. "It's mine!"
  "Is not! ~ Is too!"
  "Says who? ~ Says Me!"
  "So what? ~ Let go!"
  Jeff watches the spectacle in total shock. Katrina leans against the
  railing to keep from collapsing from fits of laughter. It looks as if they
  are evenly matched in terms of will power when a young girl of about the same
  age as Lizzie comes up the stairs. No one notices her except Jeff. She is
  perhaps an inch or two shorter than the strawberry-blond girl from Viridian.
  This girl, however, has hair the color of a sunset. It is a deep, deep shade
  of orange, and looks absolutely stunning in the midday sunlight. Her eyes are
  nearly violet, and her skin is tanned as if much of her time was spent on the
  beach. The girl walks in, sees Rex and Lizzie fighting for the chair, and
  takes action.
  "Hey!" She yells. "Let go of that chair!"
  "Huh?" Rex and Lizzie say, stopping for a moment.
  In a blur of motion, the new girl runs down the aisle, vaults over a row
  of seats, and slaws her feet against Rex. The teen from Stone Town topples
  over, flips over a nearby chair, and lands on the floor, stunned.
  "Jerk." The unknown girl glares at him.
  "What are you doing?" Lizzie gasps. The girl eyes her with surprise.
  "Wasn't that guy steeling your chair?" She asks.
  "No!" Lizzie exclaims.
  "Lizzie and Rex were just having a misunderstaning." Jeff explains,
  running over to them. Katrina, meanwhile, has collapsed in the aisle,
  laughing wildly.
  "Oh my." The girls says after a brief explanation. She puts her hand up
  over her mouth. "I can't believe what a mistake I've made!"
  "... oOoooOh..." Rex groans, coming to. "Did anybody get the number of
  that Tauros that creamed me?"
  "Thank goodness you're alright!" The mysterious girls says with a slight
  twang. "I just about thought you were down for the count!"
  She smiles, but feels sorry after seeing him rub his head.
  "Listen, I'm really sorry about all this." She says. "I... I guess I just
  got carried away. I never meant to hurt you."
  "You had me fooled." Rex mutters.
  "I know," She admits. "I just thought that you were stealing her chair.
  This is the first time I've ever been to the big city, and I was kind of
  spooked, I guess."
  "That's okay." Rex grins, trying to ignore the fact that he saw three of
  everything. "I've met more girls that way."
  "Then you're not angry?" The girl asks.
  "No." Rex shrugs. "I shouldn't have been acting like an idiot anyway."
  "Well, that's true." She says thoughtfully. She holds out her hand. "I
  really should introduce myself the proper way. I'm Callie."
  "Hi, Callie." Rex returns her handshake. "I'm Rex Stone."
  "Stone?" She asks, stunned. "As in..."
  "Oh, boy." Rex sighs.

  After a brief fit of screaming and raving over the Stone Brothers, Callie
  calms down enough to shake hands with the rest of the group. After a bit of
  chatting, the teens all sit down to wait for the show to start.
  "So, you're a trainer too?" Jeff asks.
  "Mmm-hmm." Callie nods. "Ever since I turned ten. All Water-pokemon, all
  the time."
  "Really?" Lizzie asks. "That is so cool! I've never met a real Water-type
  trainer before, other than the Cerulean Gym Leaders."
  "They're okay." Callie shrugs. "But they aren't great. If they spent less
  time in the pool showing off and more time training their pokemon, maybe it
  would've taken me longer than sixty-five seconds to beat their roster."
  "Whoa!" Rex exclaims. "You beat them THAT fast? It took my brother Rainer
  half an hour to beat all three of them!"
  "You must be a very talented trainer." Katrina observes. "Beating pokemon
  of the same element is extremely difficult. I myself train Fighting-types and
  had considerable difficulty in the Saffron City Dojo, which I visited some
  time ago during a Gym Leader Convention."
  "I knew it!" Callie says excitedly. "You -are- the daughter of Master
  Koga!"
  Katrina smiles weakly.
  "I... don't like to broadcast it." She shrugs. "It seems like bragging,
  and quite unnecessary to having a pleasant conversation."
  "Pshaw." Callie scoffs. "It isn't bragging to say who your parents are!
  I'd be proud of it if I was you."
  "Oh, I am." Katrina nods. "But when you've taken as many challengers as I
  have..."
  "I hear you." Callie smiles. "It probably does get tiring getting hounded
  by trainers every single day."
  Katrina nods her assent.
  "So, Callie, where are you from?" Lizzie asks.
  "Vermillion City." Callie says. "That's where I learned to fish. I caught
  each and every one of my pokemon in streams, rivers, lakes, or the sea. And I
  hand-raised them too. None of those cheap Rare Candy bits."
  "Hey, Rare Candies are authorized by the League." Rex points out.
  "Right, Rex." Callie rolls her eyes. "Course, they also make them weaker
  than if they were actually trained, but that's your business."
  "I hand-raised mine." Rex says to his own defense. "I'm just saying..."
  Their conversation is cut short by a blaring horn.
  "Ladies and gentlemen!" A voice comes through the PA system. "Pokemon
  trainers of all ages, welcome to the Indigo League Spring Games!!!"
  At this the whole crowd erupts in cheering and shouting. As they all
  watch, a short, portly man with white hair steps onto the center platform of
  the stadium. Everyone instantly recognized him as Mr. Goodshow, President of
  the Indigo League.
  "I am so pleased to see you all!" He spoke into a microphone. "By
  reaching this Plateau, you have achieved an honor that many seek for but few
  receive. You are officially Level Eight Trainers!!"
  The entire stadium bursts into noise, with air horns blowing and people
  pounding on benches.
  "And now, to initiate the Games," Mr. Goodshow continues. "We will begin
  with the ceremonial lighting of the Torch!"
  A massive gate opens on one side of the stadium. Fanfare blares from
  speakers and confetti rains down from the rafters.
  "But first!" Mr. Goodshow chuckles. "It's time for a little old-fashioned
  entertainment! At this time I'd like to hand the microphone over to my
  Nephew, Barry."
  A nice-looking young man of about twenty-one steps onto the stage next to
  his senior.
  "Thanks, Uncle!" He grins. "Folks, I hope you enjoy what we're about to
  present!"
  To the surprise of everyone in the stadium, a huge float in the shape of
  a Seel comes through the gate. Atop it are three gorgeous young women with
  striking hair colors. They each wear swimsuits, and wave to the crowd.
  "Give it up for the Sensational Cerulean Sisters!" He shouts amidst the
  roar of the crowd.
  The float is followed by a marching band, trained Mr. Mimes waving
  colorful flags, and numerous performers dressed in pokemon costumes. A float
  with a large Vileplume blow-up next enters the stadium, with a banner across
  it reading "Greetings From the Celadon Gym!" Atop it are several Junior
  Trainers waving proudly to the crowd.
  "I guess Erika couldn't show up." Jeff whispers to Katrina.
  More performers enter the stadium, and the procession begins to curve
  around the outer wall. The next float has a large Raichu balloon tethered to
  it by several cords. Lt. Surge himself stands atop the platform, waving to
  all the Electric-type fans. Floating on either side of him are two Magnetons
  with Thunder Badge emblems emblazoned on their sides.
  "This is great!" Lizzie exclaims to Rex.
  "I'll say!" He agrees. "I've never seen anything like this!"
  Next is a long procession of Chansey nurses, followed by a pink float
  with a model Pokemon Center on it. About twelve Nurse Joys ride it, smiling
  proudly.
  "Most of them are from Saffron." Rex says to the others. "I see one from
  Pewter, and two from Lavender."
  "Hey!" Jeff exclaims. "There's the Lavender Town Float!"
  They all look to see a large, purplish float in the shape of a ghastly
  Gengar. Performers atop it are dressed in Haunter costumes and stumble about
  like zombies. A banner reads " 'Boo'! From Lavender Town!"
  "Did your Uncle have anything to do with that?" Lizzie asks.
  "I dunno." Jeff shrugs. "He's been pretty busy since the Tower toppled.
  Maybe, though."
  "All right!" Rex whoops. "There it is!"
  They all look to see yet another float come out. It is covered in a mound
  of shimmering stones that glow brightly in different colors. Atop it ride
  three familiar figures.
  "It's your brothers!" Lizzie laughs.
  "The Stone Town Float!" Rex grins triumphantly.
  "Where's your other brother?" Jeff asks.
  "Over there." Rex points to a brown-haired person riding a motorcycle
  next to the float. He waves to the audience.
  "Yeesh." Lizzie arches an eyebrow thoughtfully. "And I had him pegged as
  a workaholic..."
  They watch the extravagant parade for another hour, as more and more
  floats and persons come into the stadium until it is filled with dancing,
  singing, juggling, riding, waving people and pokemon. Then comes the moment
  everyone had been waiting for. A single, solitary runner enters the stadium
  from Victory Road. Carrying a small, handheld torch in his hand, he runs
  across the crowded field and up the long, stone stairs. Reaching the top, he
  throws the fire with all his might into the giant basin. In an instant, the
  huge torch explodes in a spectacular display of flames. The crowd cheers
  wildly. The Torch, at last, is lit.

  Later that night, after countless spectacles, parades, ceremonies,
  speeches, and a huge buffet-style lunch, the trainers again move to take
  their seats. It is a quarter after seven, and everyone is getting ready for
  the Pre-Game Concert. Rex and Lizzie linger at the downstairs refreshment
  stand, waiting to get some last-minute snacks before the big show.
  "Lizzie, are you sure we need all of this?" Rex asks, lifting the food
  off the counter. "It seems like I've been carrying loads of stuff around all
  day."
  "Sure I'm sure." Lizzie shrugs. "Chansey and Jynx are really hungry.
  They've been busy all day too, you know."
  "Great." Rex mutters sarcastically. "I'm getting food for your pokemon.
  This is the height of my training career."
  Lizzie is about to rebut that statement with a quick retort, when a
  familiar voice calls her name.
  "Elizabeth!" Someone says over the murmur of the crowd. They both turn
  around to see a tall, yellow-haired individual hurrying their way.
  "Sparky?" Rex asks.
  "Oh, thank goodness I found you!" He huffs, catching his breath. "I've
  been looking all over, and you guys weren't in your seats!"
  "What's up?" Lizzie asks.
  "Well..." He starts, unsure of where to begin. "We're scheduled to go
  first, right? Well, our lead singer just called in and said she had a sore
  throat and can't sing. So, we find ourselves without a lead vocal."
  "That's awful!" Lizzie exclaims. "But, why do you need me?"
  "Um..." He says nervously. "Okay, it's all right if you say no, but..."
  "Yes?" She prompts him.
  "Could you..." Sparky asks. "Maybe, take her place?"
  Stunned silence.
  "What?" Rex jokes. "You must be-"
  "Yes."
  "What?" Rex and Sparky say at the same second.
  "Yes."
  "Great!" Sparky grins.
  "No way!" Rex gasps.
  "I'll do it." Lizzie nods. "I'll be happy to help you out. You guys gave
  us a hand at the gate when we didn't have enough money. It's the least I can
  do."
  "Awesome!" Sparky exclaims. "Okay, come with me! Joy!"
  He calls a nearby girl with pink hair who comes running up to them.
  "She's agreed to do it." He says to her. "Show her to the stage and help
  her get set up."
  "Right." Joy nods, taking Lizzie by the arm. "Come on, this way."
  They hurry off through the crowd.
  "I can't believe you're doing this." Rex says to his brother. "What if
  she chokes? She'll be humiliated! In front of-"
  "Bro," Sparky arches an eyebrow at his younger brother. "Don't take this
  the wrong way, but... are you nuts? Have you ever heard her sing? She has a
  voice that could keep a Snorlax awake! There is no way she'll bomb."
  Rex is quiet, stunned.
  "Listen, I gotta go." Sparky says. "Catch ya later!"
  With that, he is gone.

  Minutes later, the band is ready to perform.
  "Ladies and gentlemen!" Mr. Goodshow's nephew says again. "Give it up for
  the one, the only, Stone Brothers!"
  The crowd cheers as spotlights shine on the stage. Pyro holds the
  electric guitar firmly in his hands. Rainer sits surrounded by drums,
  clutching his drumsticks like samurai swords. Mikey stands behind a
  synthesizer, ready to play it out. Sparky holds the mike centerstage. He
  holds it up and adresses the crowd.
  "Everyone, before we begin," He says. "I'd like to thank a couple of
  people on behalf of the band. First of all, to our parents, who are pretty
  cool... for parents. Secondly, to our best little brother, Rex." At this, Rex
  groans and buries his head in his hands. "And lastly, to an amazing young
  woman who agreed to substitute for our lead singer, who got sick this
  evening. We offered to give her cue cards, but she says she knows this song
  by heart. Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce Elizabeth "Lizzie"
  Palacio!"
  Lizzie walks onstage in a shining red gown. Her hair shines brightly
  under the lights, and her face has a glow about it like moonlight reflected
  off of the sea. Mikey grins and punches out the first few keys to "The Lady
  in Red". The crowd laughs, and Lizzie smiles, flattered. She takes her place
  beside Sparky.
  "Ready?" Sparky calls to the group. "A five, six, seven, eight ~ !"
  The band bursts to life. Mikey plays a familiar intro on the piano. Pyro
  joins in on the guitarr, and Rainer beats out the drums. The crowd goes wild
  as they reach the first verse.

  Sparky: You've been such a good friend! I've known you since I don't know
  when! We've got lots of friends, but they... come and go!
  Lizzie: Even though we've never said it, there's something that the two of us
  both know!
  Both: Together forever! No matter how long! Yes, now until the end of time!"
  Lizzie: We'll be together, and you can be sure-
  Both: That forever and a day, that's how long we'll stay!
  Sparky: Together and forevermore!
  - A brief musical interlude is played, and they come right back out -
  Sparky: Always gone that extra mile!
  Lizzie: Depended on you all the while!
  Sparky: Even in the good and bad times.... you will see!
  Lizzie: From now until our journey's end.... you know you can always count on
  me!
  Both: Together forever! No matter how long! Yes, now until the end of time!
  We'll be together, and you can be sure-
  Sparky: That forever and a day!
  Lizzie: That's how long we'll stay!
  Both: Together and forevermore!

  The concert continues, and more songs are played, but none so good as the
  first. For the next two and a half hours, Rex and the others watch on as
  Lizzie performs onstage, live in front of countless millions of viewers via
  TV, with the Stone Brothers. Afterwards, fireworks explode in the heavens
  high above the stadium, signaling to all that the Indigo League Games have
  begun. Next