27 CH - 27

Okay, how was that?" Pikachu asked, cheeks sparking, and Dexter's screen displayed a set of graphs.

He hadn't actually been harmed by Pikachu's attack, thanks to a Traced Lightningrod, but he'd certainly felt the impact.

"It looks like you had a good power ramp up," Ash reported. "Quicker than before, Dexter says."

Correct, the Porygon stated, from both his forms at once. You want to have a very sudden power ramp up and then drop it just as quickly, because that way your actual energy use is lower. It'll increase your endurance, or, at least, it'll give you more options.

"Yeah, while if I want impact without doing that it means running around at full power the whole time," Pikachu said, nodding to show he was following. "I guess the next bit is trying to do that consistently?"

The next bit is trying to do that while under attack, Dexter replied. Lock On.

Pikachu hopped out of the way of a Tri Attack, and shot back a Thunderbolt which made the gauges on Dexter's screen light up.

That didn't have the right ramp up structure, Dexter chided. Keep focused.

As the two of them kept exchanging attacks, Riolu sat down next to Ninetales.

"Now," Ninetales began. "A Dark Pulse is Dark type, of course, but because neither of us is a Dark type we can't simply draw it from who we are. It has to be a little more… nuanced than that. You need to establish a null structure, something which has no psychic signature in it at all, and then fire it out at your opponent."

She raised a tail. "I did it through psychic powers in and of themselves, but you're probably going to want to use Aura. Draining the emotion out of the Aura is going to be hard, but it's the technique I think would work most."

"I see," Riolu replied, forming a little swirl of Aura on his paws, then began to focus.

Squirtle was busy trying out iaido with his sunglasses, but he'd got a bit distracted on making the drawing motion as long and dramatic as possible, and Geodude looked very much like he'd like to be tapping a foot but was currently not in possession of one.

Then, overhead, Charizard used Flare Blitz, and hit a Brave Bird coming the other way.

Which was pretty much a normal day's training.

"Not bad!" Pidgeot called. "But more momentum makes it more likely to work!"

"Sure, sure," Charizard agreed. "I guess I'll just have to get heavier or something, I know how momentum works and you're way faster..."

Then Gary's Blastoise went crash through a screen of brush into the area.

"Rival! I want to challenge you!" he said, cannons going click. "I've got a Finishing Move to show off!"

"A Finishing Move?" Squirtle replied, whirling. "You really think you can beat me with your Horn Drill? I'm the badass leader of Team Gurren, not the badass other guy of Team Gurren! So you'd better put your cannon where your canon is!"

He swept his arm out to the side, and Blastoise's cannons began to form a bubbling swirl of water at the same moment as Squirtle's arm foamed up. "Horn-"


"Here we go," Pikachu grumbled, from where he – and Ash, plus the rest of the Pokémon – had gone diving over the far side of a small hill at the word 'challenge'.

"BREAKER!" both Water-types bellowed, rocketing forwards. Their drills hit with a watery crash, shedding spray in all directions, and held in equipoise for several long seconds.

Then Squirtle's smaller drill broke the surface of Blastoise's larger one, and jolted forwards – only to run into a second Horn Drill, just as strong as the first.


"Two cannons means two drills! And both have the entirety of my strength behind them, to match your blazing spirit with my own!"

Ash's lips moved for a moment. "Does… that make sense?"

"No," everyone answered him.

"Just thought I'd check."

There was a now-familiar enormous eruption of water, and Ash sent Squirtle out again.

"What was the number of the cathedral that ran me over?" Squirtle asked, shaking his head.

Gary strolled into the clearing, and sent out his own Blastoise again. "Hi, Ash. I was wondering where Blastoise went until I saw the massive geyser. Suppose I should have guessed."

"The cathedral that hit you was the Cathedral Terra, of course!" Blastoise said, wobbling.

"It still knocked you out too," Squirtle complained.

"A minor inconvenience!" Blastoise insisted, before falling over.

"That was amazing!" a voice said from nearby.

It was a man wearing a pair of glasses, and accompanied by two other people operating a big film camera and a boom mike.

"Positively inspirational!" the man added. "Excuse me, young men, but are those your Pokémon?"

"Blastoise is mine," Gary said. "Most of the rest of these are Ash's, but Ninetales is… Brock's? I think?"

Ash nodded. "Yeah, she's one of Brock's Pokémon… who are you?"

"Oh!" the man said. "I'm Cleavon Schpielbunk, the director! You may have heard of my movies?"

"Well, uh…" Ash began. "Not especially… are you making a movie now?"

"Yes!" the director agreed. "I've got a plan to make a whole movie without any human characters in it at all – just Pokémon!"

He looked interested. "Actually, I didn't know there were any trained Pokémon around here."

"You didn't know there were… huh?" Gary said, baffled. "You do know you're actually inside Oak Ranch land, right?"

"Oak Ranch… hmm, that sounds familiar, but I can't place where from," Schpielbunk admitted. "But, well, I have been having trouble sorting out Pokémon to use in my film… I don't suppose you'd be willing to have your Pokémon take part?"

Pikachu held up a paw.

"What is it, Pikachu?" Ash asked.

"I've got some ideas for movie stuff," Pikachu explained. "Riolu had a few, too."

I also have some… in fact, quite a lot of the group does.

"Do you have to make just one movie?" Ash asked. "I feel like there's enough enthusiastic Pokémon here that we could get more than one movie out of it… especially if Dexter and Dee help."

I could be a camera-mon, yeah, Dee declared. Subbing and dubbing, too.

"That would be excellent!" Cleavon said. "I didn't know there were Pokémon that could be movie cameras… I'm sure we'll still have to use the traditional set, as well, but adding in some much more mobile cameras would speed things up."

"Okay, I'm going to go and get the others," Pidgeot declared. "I can see where this is going."

"So, I just want to check this," Charizard said, most of a day later. "You're sure that it's vital to the plot that there's a big airborne dragon rider battle?"

"Honestly? No," Gary's Nidoqueen replied. "It's not vital, even in a fantasy film. But it's very cool, and you get a chance to show off. Really, I'm surprised you're objecting at this point."

"Well, this is my first chance to read the script for that one," Charizard explained. "And… well, my first reaction is that I have about six roles in every single scene. How is that going to work?"

I'm glad you asked, Dexter said. Dee and I will both be acting as cameras in the air, and the camera on the ground will be filming what happens as well. You and Professor Oak's Dragonite will be going through the movements of the whole battle, and we'll composite the shots together from the different angles.

"Compositing is when you, uh, stick them together into the same place, right?" Charizard checked, then huffed out a breath. "Okay, give me the bad news. How many times am I going to have to go up there?"

"That depends how well you react to cues!" Dragonite said. "I'm actually interested in going up there and getting involved in battle, even if it's a fake one…"

A rhythmic clanking sound started up.

"Anyway, lay it down on me," Charizard requested, after glancing over at the source of the clanking sound. "Assume I get everything right. How many times do I need to go up there and do this aerial battle?"

About a dozen, Dee said. Assuming you get everything right. Which you won't, but it should take only a couple of days all told.

Charizard grumbled something. "Well… I guess it'll work, probably."

The clanking noise arrived.

"How do I look?" asked a suit of armour with Brock's voice.

"Purple," Charizard answered. "What's with that, anyway?"

Blue screen wouldn't work because of the sky. Green screen wouldn't work because of the grass. Purple is a reasonable compromise. We're just going to put the actual colours on top of his armour, then do some close passes with Ash on your back for the heroic scenes.

"Ash is the protagonist?" Charizard repeated. "...now I say it, I can't actually think of any better alternatives, but…"

"Didn't you hear the argument between him and Gary about it?" Dragonite asked. "I know it was loud, but I couldn't work out which way around it was… the compromise was that it was going to be Ash, but with makeup, I think."

The Rockets volunteered to help with the makeup, so he's going to be unrecognizable, Dexter commented. Where's Gary, anyway? Is he having trouble with his suit of purple armour?

It feels very strange to be involved with this, Mewtwo said, mostly to Ash and Pikachu. Last time, I was not involved in the slightest with any of this kind of human activity.

"Well, this is a good start, right?" Ash asked. "You're with friends to support you, you've got a great way to leave any time if you feel like you're stressed, and you're helping out but it's all behind the scenes."

That much is true, Mewtwo agreed, then read the script. All right, so… if I've got this right, in this scene I am to make sure that everyone is moving slowly? And that their attacks are moving slowly as well?

"Everyone except for Riolu," Ash pointed out.

Ah, yes. I see that now.

Mewtwo looked slightly confused. Why, though?

"Oh, you must have missed that bit, or… maybe it wasn't something you got round to reading," Ash said. "Either way, it's supposed to be that Riolu is using special enhancements that are making him much faster moving than anyone else, and he's using them to try and defeat the evil corporation and their computer intelligence."

And you… don't think this movie might give the wrong impression of Porygon? Mewtwo checked.

"No, because the resistance has a good computer intelligence," Ash explained. "Actually, because Damos is appearing, there's a total of three Porygon characters in the film, I'm just not sure which one is doing which role yet… anyway, later in the film there's going to be scenes with more than one character able to move at normal speed during the slowed-down bits. If I remember right there's a bit where Riolu and Squirtle have a fight like that, that kind of thing?"

I see, Mewtwo decided. Well, it should be an interesting challenge.

He put his paws together. I believe I am ready to give this a go.

"Hey, Ash?" Pikachu said. "We need you back over in the fantasy one, and then I need to go over to the Pokémon In Love set to do my part as family patriarch in that one."

Wait, Mewtwo requested. You are doing three films?

"Yeah, we all got a bit excited," Ash admitted. "Still, it's fun! There's one film which has no subtitles, that's Pokémon In Love, then this one with the high tech stuff has subtitles but no humans, and the fantasy one has humans… which part's next, actually?"

"So," Ho-Oh frowned. "You don't actually want me to do anything, except appear there."

"Not in… this scene, no," Misty agreed. "It's supposed to be symbolic, actually, about how the conviction of the heroes can't be extinguished. So… be there, optionally on fire, and then there was something…"

She frowned. "Starmie, what was it again?"

"Transparency!" Starmie provided helpfully.

"Yeah, that," Misty agreed. "They'll make it so you're transparent, or translucent anyway. So it looks like you're not really there."

"Well, regardless, I'm glad to be included," Ho-Oh decided. "And I assume at some point that I'm going to be involved in a… less metaphorical way?"

"I… think so," Misty agreed. "It's in the script somewhere, I think…"

"I must say, that was fine work," Cleavon declared, once the cameras had stopped rolling on the dramatic final hacking scene. "I'd never have thought of that plot point!"

He shook his head. "Why, having a virus uploaded to a computer network that's switched off by tunnel packeting using a…"

There was a pause, as he shuffled through the script. "A… current spike… that induced a Bernoulli wake packet and caused the router to turn on, thus making it vulnerable? That's astonishing! I don't know how you thought of it!"

That would be because it's complete nonsense, director, Damos provided. We mostly needed a reason why Riolu would actually need to go into the building but would still be available for a fight, instead of having to be crouched over a computer terminal or something.

"Oh," the director said. "Well… it still sounded good to me? I was worried that it might give people ideas."

If anyone manages to do something remotely like this, they've probably just found out how to evolve a Porygon, Dee said.

"Well, you are the experts," Cleavon decided. "Now, what's next on the shooting schedule… ah, I see we have a skydiving scene to do. Doesn't that need that Ash and his Pidgeot? Or the Pidgeot, at least."

Yes, she's the one who can create a powerful enough updraft that we get a useful amount of filming time after the jump begins. We probably need to postpone that one, they're still somewhere near the Safari Zone,

Cleavon frowned for a moment. "Oh, yes, I remember, getting that scene for the fantasy film… how did he get so many ranchers on call, anyway?"

"They adopted him because he won a race," Brock said. "You know, like the second twist in I Know What You Did Last Thursday."

The director smiled. "What an intriguing coincidence!"

"Hey, Ash!" Gary waved. "Down here!"

Pidgeot circled around, shedding speed, then came down to land next to him.

"So, you've got the third Porycamera with you, right?" Gary checked. "You didn't forget him over there with the Laramie Ranchers or whatever it was you were doing?"

"Uh," Ash replied, embarrassed. "I want to say I'd never do that, but…"

Pidgeot started sniggering.

I would like to say I would remind Ash if he was in danger of forgetting anyone, Dexter said, also embarrassed. But the algorithm I set up to warn me if we were approaching the point Ash should re-acquire a Pokémon turned out to have an unfortunate… flaw.

"It did?" Gary repeated. "Wait, you mean you actually forgot a Pokémon?"

"Yeah?" Ash said. "I remembered eventually!"

Then he sighed. "Though, uh, it took a while to find him, but Pidgeot helped and eventually I spotted Muk from the air."

He unclipped a Pokéball. "So, now I've got my whole Kanto team back together! Sorry, Muk…"

The Poison-type came out, and shrugged. "I'm glad you remembered me. So what if it was a while? I don't mind."

"Well, we'd better hurry up," Gary said. "You're needed for that scene with Ho-Oh, and Pidgeot is needed for the skydiving bit… I'm not sure where Dexter's needed next, the shooting schedule looks like someone's tried to represent string theory with actual string. Tell me the cavalry charge stuff was okay, at least…"

"Yeah, that was great!" Ash replied. "The ranchers really took to it, we got scenes with them charging in both directions – some of the Ponyta and Rapidash even did falls so we've got those there too, and Dexter told me it's ready to edit together…"

He got off Pidgeot's back, and the Flying-type took off to go over and do that part of the practical effects next. "Uh… how's my makeup?"

"Needs a touch up," Gary said. "I can see your original hair colour."

"And… done!" Cleavon said, slamming the gate closed. "That's all the scenes we need for Pokémon in Love. And I have to say, that was a marvellous performance by some Pokémon new to acting!"

He nodded to himself. "Now, all we need to do is to make sure the editing is right, and do any reshoots… actually, speaking of, how is the editing going?"

We've been doing it all along, Damos told him. There's some decisions you need to make for each film, and then a watch through to see if it hangs together as it is, but most of the grunt work of checking for possible errors has been happening during the process.

"Oh, well – that is convenient!" Cleavon said. "Very convenient indeed – I don't suppose you'd be willing to come and work for me? This accelerated shooting schedule has been tiring, but it's a revelation!"

You will probably need to contact Dr. Akihabara for that, Damos noted. This was exhausting and a change, which was okay, but if it became exhausting and not a change I think we would all be unhappy about that.

"Well, it was worth asking," the director said. "I'll be sure to invite you all to the premiere, then… this isn't goodbye, we need to check the edits first, but I wanted to say it while I remembered to."

Next chapter