Pokemon: Cards of Promise
Episode 1: To Be a Card Master
The morning sun streamed down on the various white and red houses of Pallet Town, heralding the arrival of a brand new day. This day, much like the one before it, had dawned clear and blue, with not a rain cloud in sight. Some small brown birds with pink beaks flitted about in the air, calling "Pidgey!" to each other as they all swirled about among the puffy white clouds.
Just then, one Pidgey squawked a warning to the others as a larger blue bird with a red and white breast swooped into view, carrying a single human aboard its back. The other Pidgeys scrambled out of the way to make room for the larger bird--judging from how fast it was flying, its human passenger, a boy who was engrossed in a map, needed to get somewhere as quickly as possible.
"Let's see...land here, Swellow." the boy asked his winged companion, pointing out a path in a park down below that was dotted in flowers. The large blue bird nodded, then circled down to the path below, where its owner climbed off its back and onto the pavement, making his blue vest, the dark green T-shirt underneath, and the folds in his jeans ripple in the wind. A red cap with a L-like symbol on it crowned the boy's messy black hair, which he straightened as the breeze almost blew it off his head. After taking a moment to be sure he looked reasonably presentable, the boy slung a green backpack on the ground and opened it, setting each item on the pavement as he dug through it.
"Hmm...trainer card, Pokemon Trading Card Game player ID, Pallet Tournament registration form...." he mused as he set the mentioned items on the ground. "Extra food, extra clothes, my deck, Pikachu--" He balked when he noticed a small yellow mouse Pokemon nestled in some clothes, asleep. "Pikachu? What are you doing here, ya little sneak?" he smiled as he nudged his companion awake. Pikachu just yawned and climbed onto his master's shoulder, interested in the items strewn about the ground.
"So, off to set out on your own Pokemon Trading Card Game adventure, are you?" a female voice asked. The boy whirled around to notice a girl, presumably about eight or nine years older than him, observing him organizing his supplies. While she didn't look very intimidating in a rainbow tie-dye shirt and black jeans, the boy couldn't help but be awed that she knew where he was going. The wind ruffling her deep brown hair and her sparkling emerald eyes seemed to add to her mystique.
After a minute of awkward silence, the boy found enough courage to answer his mysterious visitor. "Yes, I'm going to play in the preliminaries...I'm meeting some friends there, so I'm checking to be sure I have everything before I get there...I'd hate to get there and discover I forgot something!"
"I understand." the girl smiled as she dug in her pocket for something. "Here's a little something for your deck." The boy gasped when he saw the card being offered to him: a super rare Pikachu lv. 17! He smiled--he had been wanting this card for months now, and now here it was, being offered to him by a mysterous visitor!
"How much do you want for it, miss?" the boy asked, searching his own pockets for any sort of loose change.
"I don't want money for this card...just a promise that you'll do well on your journey and make it to the Trading Card Game League." the girl replied as the boy took Pikachu lv. 17 from her hand and stuck it inside his deck tin. "I've got somewhere to be...good luck and take care." she smiled as the boy climbed aboard his Swellow again, supplies in tow.
"Thank you!" the boy replied, waving goodbye to the girl as she walked off down the path. "I'll do more than get to the League, I'll win it for you!" He motioned to his Swellow. "Let's go!" Swellow nodded, and soared off into the sky again...
A large crowd gathered on the waterfront nearby an outdoor Trading Card Game arena, anxious for a duel to begin. Some stalls were nearby the large sky blue platform, where people were checking in or registering their decks. Others were huddled in groups negotiating trades or showing off rare cards. Still others were casually strolling about on the boardwalk or enjoying hot dogs, nachos, ice cream, and other treats. But to two attendees among the sea of people and Pokemon, they had their eyes to the sky, as if looking for something to come flying down from it.
One of them, a girl clad in a yellow shirt and shorts to match, fanned herself with a guidebook, making her already wet and frizzy orange hair stick up in even more directions. I hate this humidity... she thought as she trained her eyes on the sky and on the Starmie tin sitting by her. If only Brock would hurry up with the ice cream...and Ash would hurry up getting here...
"Misty, I'm back!" an older male voice called to the girl, snapping her back to reality. She turned to see her companion, an older boy with spikey brown hair and tan skin, walking her direction with two wrapped ice cream cones in each hand. After accepting one of the cones, she tore it open and bit into the nut covered chocolate shell, eager to savor the cool vanilla ice cream inside.
"Thanks, Brock...this feels so good on a hot day like today!" Misty smiled as she licked the ice cream from her lips."
"Any sign of Ash yet?" Brock asked, looking up towards the sky.
Misty was about to answer when she noticed a blue speck in the sky. "There he is!" she cried as she ran to make room for the magnificent Swellow as it circled to land on a grassy spot overlooking the waterfront. She hugged Ash as he stepped off of Swellow. "Perfect timing!"
"Hi, you guys..." Ash smiled, then reached for Swellow's Poke Ball. "Return." Swellow disappeared inside the red and white orb with a flash of light. "Any duels going on?"
"Not over here..." Brock replied. "There's some other duels going on in other areas of the waterfront..."
"Well, if it isn't Swellow-boy..." came a familiar female voice. Ash gasped as the dark haired girl from earlier approached him. "Enjoying yourself?"
"Who's your friend?" Misty was curious at the girl's sudden appearance.
"Oh...we didn't get a chance to introduce ourselves before..." the girl laughed. "My name is Karuta...Pokemon Trading Card Game Master, at your service."
"I'm Ash," Ash replied. "and these are my friends Misty..." Misty waved hello. "and Brock."
At that second, Brock popped up before Karuta, hearts in his eyes. "Oh, my lovely Karuta! Perhaps the two of us have love in our cards!" he gushed.
"More like broken hearts in your cards..." Misty sighed as she dragged Brock away behind a tree.
"Brock has a thing for pretty girls..." Ash explained, then changed the subject. "Why would you, one of the best of the best, want to help me and my friends, casual duelists that wanna make it big?
"I think you have potential..." Karuta replied. "I've traveled around, played my duels, and seen many kinds of duelists...but not one of them had the drive to make it big as Trading Card Game Masters. You're different, Ash...I sense a very real determination in both you and your friends...one that can carry you to the League."
"You think so?" Ash was especially excited at this.
"Yes...but the road to the League will not be easy...and that is where I can help you three." Karuta explained. "I can use my knowledge of the Pokemon Trading Card Game to help you make your decks the best they can be, decks worthy enough to make even the four Grand Masters tremble." She was about to say more when a loudspeaker interrupted her:
"Attention please...dueling will now commence on Arena C...repeat, dueling will now commence on Arena C..."
Ash looked at his registration form--his duel was on Arena C! "Showtime, Pikachu!" he smiled as he petted the tiny mouse Pokemon on his shoulder.
"Pika, Pikapi!" Pikachu replied back as he, Misty, Brock, and Karuta watched Ash sprint towards the arena...
"Representing the Ruby side, give it up for Josh!!" the referee announced. The crowd cheered as an auburn haired boy stepped up to the red podium on the left side of the arena, making the scoreboard blip to life: RUBY LEGENDS OF ECRUTEAK.
"Josh is a good duelist..." Karuta explained. "He won the Johto Invitational last year, and has come to Pallet to try his skills against Kanto's best. Be warned, his deck is quick."
"How quick is it?" Brock asked as he saw Ash's stats flash on the scoreboard: SAPPHIRE FLAME OF CONFUSION
"Let me put it this way: If you don't knock his Pokemon out quickly, you're in deep trouble." Karuta continued as Josh's stats appeared on the scoreboard: RUBY 5 2 6 47 90. "Ash is playing for six prizes in this match instead of the usual four as per his opponents request."
"I hope his deck can make it..." Misty sighed as Ash's stats appeared on the scoreboard: SAPPHIRE 2 4 6 47 230. The crowd applauded again a few moments later, signifying that Ash had won the coin toss.
"Sapphire plays first!" the referee announced. "And begin!"
"Let's go, Taillow!" Ash called as he flipped up his active card in his play area, making a Taillow appear in the sky blue area in between the two podiums.
'Elekid, I choose you!" Josh commanded as he flipped up his active card, making an Elekid appear on his side of the sky blue arena.
"Sapphire's turn!" the referee announced.
Ash started by attaching a Fire Energy to his Taillow, making the Taillow glow red. "Taillow, Peck the Elekid!" he commanded. The Elekid tried to swat the Taillow away as it dove and swooped around, but could not, making Josh's HP go down by 10.
"Elekid, Playful Punch the Taillow!" Josh commanded. Ash watched, horrified, as the Elekid playfully swatted around his Taillow, returning it to the form of a card and making his HP drop by 40. He gritted his teeth as Josh continued to taunt him. "Are all your cards this easy to defeat? With the prize I received, I can start drawing cards like there's no tomorrow! You'll be left in the dust once you see my business cards!"
"Then I'll just have to take care of business!" Ash yelled back as he grabbed a card from his bench area and placed it in the play area. "Abra, I choose you!" An Abra appeared on Ash's side of the arena, curiously eyeing the Elekid. "Psyshock, now!" The Abra began to charge a ball of blue energy in its hands, but was interrupted by the ref's whistle.
"Coin toss!" the ref announced. "If heads, Ruby is Paralyzed!" With that, the coin went up..."
Come on, come on, come on... Ash thought as he warily eyed the scoreboard...and smiled as an O appeared, telling the crowd he had gotten heads! YES!!! he smiled as the Abra hurled it's energy ball at the Elekid, confining it behind a wall of thunderbolts.
"So that's your little game, is it?" Josh smirked. "Meet one of my superstars, Kangaskhan!" The Elekid disappeared from the arena and a Kangaskhan appeared in its place.
Ash looked at the Grass Energy he had drawn for a moment, then attached it to the Wurmple waiting on his bench--he had a little surprise in store for his opponent. He than told his Abra "Psyshock again!", motioning to the ref for the coin toss. The Abra fired another ball of energy, making the Kangaskhan stumble backwards behind the thunderbolt wall, decreasing Josh's HP by 10.
"Paralyzed again...no problem there." Josh smirked as he recalled his Kangaskhan. "Say hello to Magmar!" With that, a Magmar appeared in the arena. The Abra watched as the Magmar glowed red from Fire Energy for a moment.
Ash set aside the Fire Energy he had drawn and attached a second Psychic Energy to his Abra, making it glow purple for a moment. Next, he overlaid a Silcoon lv. 12 card onto his waiting Wurmple, making it glow in a white light, and boosting his HP to 190. "Abra, Psyshock!" he called. The Abra prepared to fire another energy ball, but the Magmar ran out of the way, making the ball fizzle out on the arena shield.
"I'm recalling Magmar and bringing out Kangaskan again..." Josh explained as he placed his Kangaskhan back in his play area. "Fetch me a card." he commanded. The Kangaskhan nodded and grabbed the top card from Josh's deck, making it appear in his hand.
"Then I'll switch out too!" Ash replied, recalling his Abra and setting his Silcoon in the arena. "Besides, Silcoon's Hard Cocoon will reduce anything you do to it by 30!" The Silcoon turned silver for a moment to illustrate Ash's point.
"Is that so?" Josh smirked and motioned to his Kangaskhan. "Squish that Silcoon...by the time it's squished, I'll have all the cards I need to win this duel." The Kangaskhan nodded and grabbed another card from Josh's deck, making it appear in his hand.
Ash smiled as he picked up the Beautifly lv. 35 card in his hand--May had given it to him to remember her by on his last trip to Houen. May, this is for you.. As he set it down in the play area, he sang Ai-yai-yai, I'm your little Beautifly! Green, black, and blue; make the colors in the sky! The scoreboard played back the sang notes for the crowd as a Beautifly appeared on Ash's side of the arena, boosting his HP to 210.
"A fan of 'The Adventures of Kochou and the Beautiflies', are you?" Josh asked.
"Yeah, that's my favorite TV show!" Ash replied. "Not only that, Beautifly's Withering Dust voids resistance on all your Pokemon as long as she is active!" At this, some silver dust began faling on Josh's cards. "And for my next trick...Stun Spore!" Ash watched as Beautifly rained some yellow powder on the Kangaskhan, making Josh's HP drop by 20.
"I'd like your little Beautifly to meet my Lapras..." Josh smiled as he recalled his Kangaskhan and set a Lapras in the arena, making his HP rocket to 300. Ash swallowed hard--he had his work cut out for him...
"Ash is doing great!" Misty commented as she watched Ash place a Kadabra lv. 38 on top of his Abra, making it glow white.
"Josh has been going easy on him so far..." Karuta explained as Josh laid Professor Elm in the arena, making his old hand disappear and a new one drawn in his place. "If Josh gets his dynamic duo--Raikou lv. 45 and Lugia lv. 40--out in the arena, Ash's luck could run out."
"True, but Ash has three Pokemon he can use to take them both down--Beautifly, Kadabra, and Charizard." Brock explained. "So if the Legendary Duo does come out, Ash isn't done for yet!" With that, he watched as Ash set his new Pikachu in the arena and attached a Lightning Energy to it...
"Now THIS is more like it!" Josh smiled as a Raikou raced into the arena and roared for the crowd. Ash watched as his Pikachu skittered back to the bench, making Kadabra appear in its place!
"Kadabra, Super Psy!" Ash commanded. The Kadabra fired a huge ball of energy at the thunder Beast, making it howl in pain.
"Raikou, return!" Josh commanded, recalling his Raikou for his Lapras. "Spray the Kadabra with Water Gun!" The Kadabra was unprepared for the sudden blast of water and eceived it full in the face! The crowd giggled as the Kadabra wiped the water from its eyes....only to be hit with more water!
Ash watched as his Kadabra card disappeared...his first instinct was to summon Charmeleon or Beautifly, but the Pikachu lv. 17 card caught his attention. If Karuta had told him it would help him, now was the perfect time for its help! "Let's go, Pikachu! Pika Bolt!" The thunder Beat howled in pain again and returned to the form of a card, defeated!
"Game Set!" the ref announced as Ash took his last prize. "Sapphire wins!" The crowd roared as Ash stepped down from the Sapphire platform and waved to the crowd.
Josh was not impressed by Ash's win. "You only won because I didn't get my business cards out in time...but just wait until next time!" With that, he stepped off the Ruby platform and disappeared into the crowd.
"Well done, Ash..." Karuta smiled as she, Misty, and Brock approached Ash. "You've proven yourself worthy of beginning a Trading Card Game journey of your own."
"We're coming with you, too!" Misty smiled, flashing her Starmie tin. Brock nodded and flashed his Geodude tin in agreement."
"Thanks, guys..." Ash smiled as he fished the Wurmple line and Grass Energy from his deck and replaced them with other cards from his pack. "Karuta..."
"Hmm?" Karuta turned to look at the cards Ash was offering to her.
"As thanks for giving me Pikachu...I want you to have my special Beautifly card..." Ash started. "My friend May gave it to me as a gift."
"How sweet..." Karuta replied as she slipped the cards into her own tin. "I'll take good care of it in your stead." Everyone laughed in delight as Ash blushed with embarrassment...
To Be Continued...