Well, this is my first fanfiction. I hope that you'll all enjoy it. It may seem to be about just Ash's forthcoming battle with Cynthia, but if you think that then you'll be pleasently surprised as the story is MUCH more complex than that! There will be some Advanceshipping, SatoHaru, AaMayL in this story, so please, if you are going to review don't flame it. I want genuine feedback. I can't promise a regular updating schedule, but I will update as often as I can.

Ash yawned and turned over in his bed, the morning sunlight falling on his face. His nose was tickled by a twitching lightning-shaped tail and, sneezing, he awoke. He pulled himself upright and stared around the room. A wide grin began to spread across his face.

It had been two years since his victory in the Sinnoh league. He had fought some of his toughest matches ever against Katie, Nando, and of course, Paul. He smiled, reliving the final match against Paul. It had been very close, but in the end Pikachu had managed to triumph over Paul's Electivire. After that, he had been permitted to take the Elite Four challenge, the final test for aspiring Pokemon Masters. The requirements for this were very tough - he had to defeat an Elite Four member of his choice from each of the four main regions before being able to battle the Champion. The kicker was that he couldn't lose a single match.

Those battles had been tough, but over the course of the next two years he had taken on and defeated Agatha of Kanto, Karen of Johto, Glacia of Hoenn, and Lucien of Sinnoh. His last opponent, the one he would battle today, was Cynthia of Sinnoh.

Ash stretched and jumped out of the bed. He knew that to defeat Cynthia he would need to use the strongest six Pokemon he had captured and befriended since leaving Pallet Town to start his journey ten years ago. Seven, he thought. That's how many Frontier Symbols I needed to beat the Battle Frontier. And then, when I beat the Frontier, I was offered the position of Frontier Brain. But I couldn't take it then - I'd only just learned about the Sinnoh League. I wasn't ready to just hang around, waiting for challengers to show up every few weeks.

He looked around his room and smiled slightly. He still didn't think he was ready, but while he was travelling around Sinnoh, Scott - the man who built the Frontier and had encouraged Ash to participate in it - had constructed an eighth location: the Battle Colosseum. Construction on it had been completed just as Ash was halfway through the Elite Four challenge. It truly was an amazing building. It was open to the elements in a similar way to both the Battle Factory and the Battle Palace so that flying types had room to manoeuvre. There was a large pool in the shape of a Poke Ball at the centre of the large circular field, surrounded on all sides by interchanging patches of Grass and Rock fields.

I don't think I'm ready to stop travelling yet, Ash thought. Maybe that's ok though. When I started the Elite Four challenge, May and Max began to tour a region I'd never heard of. The Frayen region sure does have a lot of unique Pokemon. I can't wait to see which Pokemon she caught. Thinking of his friends, he began to feel a little sad. While Brock, Misty, Tracey, Max, and Dawn had all managed to make it in time for this battle, May hadn't been able to arrive in time.

Ash sighed. He'd spoken to her only last night, but she had been stranded in Johto's Cianwood City because of a powerful storm. While Max had gone straight back to Petalburg City after travelling around Frayen, May had decided to compete in one last Frayen contest just for fun before heading straight to Kanto via the Johto sea routes.

He shook his head in disbelief at the memory of how powerful that storm had been. He had endured similar conditions during an eventful journey through the Orange Islands. He began to grow uneasy as he remembered how close to Cianwood the Whirl Islands were, and that a similar creature to the one involved in the Orange Island's storm had once lived there. Unconsciously, his hand moved to his chest, feeling the pendent beneath his sheet. "I'm just glad she's okay," he muttered. "At least the power plant was able to get the electricity flowing again so that I could at least talk to her."

"Chu?" he heard a voice say. He pushed away those thoughts and fixed a grin to his face, turning to Pikachu who had only just woken up and was looking at Ash enquiringly.

"It's nothing," he reassured his friend. "Just wishing that an old friend was here today." Pikachu nodded knowingly and sprang from the bed to Ash's shoulder. "Ready to win today, old pal?" he murmured.

"Pika!" Pikachu replied. His nose twitched. He jumped from Ash's stomach and sprang towards the door which opened automatically. Ash laughed and chased after his friend. It didn't take him long to realize that Pikachu was leading him into the kitchen.

"Morning, Brock!" he said brightly as he entered, sniffing the air. "Is that sausage I smell?" Brock laughed.

"Some things never change," he chuckled. He placed a big plate of sausage, pancakes, and a bowl of fruit salad on the table before sitting down across from the trainer. "How'd you sleep, Ash?"

"Great," Ash said, his mouth full of pancake as Pikachu jumped onto the table. "I'm really looking forward to the battle today. Only a couple of hours to go! Where's everyone else gone though?"

"Let's see... Max is out in the Colosseum training his Gardevoir... Professor Oak, Tracey, and Delia are on their way from Pallet Town - they didn't bother coming over for the night because it's the closest place to the Colosseum. I'm here, obviously, and I think that Misty is training her Gyarados with Max. As for Dawn, I'm not really sure where she -"

"I'm right here," Dawn interrupted from behind Ash. She pulled out a chair from the table and plonked herself down, grabbing a couple of pancakes and sausages, then stealing the ketchup bottle away before Pikachu could grab it. Her long blue hair swished around her head as she deftly tossed it backwards so that a few stray strands wouldn't enter her mouth as she ate. "Morning Brock, morning Ash," she added as an afterthought. Ash smiled at her.

"Morning Dawn," he replied.

"Did everyone manage to come?" she asked. His eyes looked suddenly downcast as once again he clutched at the pendant beneath his shirt, an action not missed by any of his table companions. Dawn looked sideways at Brock, who had a look of complete understanding on his face.

"Ash, you know that if it was possible she would have moved the continents to be here for you," Brock said gently. Ash was silent for a minute.

"I know," he said at last, "but I was really hoping that she would have been able to make it. She's the only one of my friends that just couldn't get here, because of that storm." Dawn looked at him with a winning smile.

"Ash, you're an official Frontier Brain now," she said. "You're the most experienced trainer that I know. You've travelled through Hoenn and Kanto with May, and you know that sometimes these things will happen. It's unfortunate, but there's nothing that can be done. If there was any way possible to get here today, May would have done it."

"Look on the bright side about today," Brock said, trying to lift his friend's spirits. "At least you'll finally be able to break in the Colosseum. Plus, as a Frontier Brain, you're allowed to carry around as many Pokemon as you want, just like Noland. Think how happy they'll all be, able to spend all of their time outside of their Poke Balls with you."

Ash looked up, a smile spreading on his face. "You're both right," he said. "I'm really looking forward to being able to spend more time with all of my Pokemon. I just don't think I'm ready to settle down yet though. I need a new challenge. What I really want to do is explore at least one more region, probably Frayen."

"I'm sure Scott would understand," Brock said, smiling at his friends insatiable desire to travel.

"Come on Pikachu," Ash said, now back at full spirit. "We can get in a little more training before the match. I want to make sure that my team is ready to battle! Thanks for the breakfast, Brock!" He dashed off, with Pikachu on his shoulder.

Brock sighed as he held up the nearly-empty ketchup bottle to eye-level. "You know, this was full this morning," he said to Dawn. She giggled.

"I think Pikachu enjoyed it, Brock. It was your home-made stuff, right?"

"Yeah," he said, "made from tomato's picked straight out of the garden." Brock shook his head in disbelief. "That Pikachu sure does love his ketchup."

Dawn leaned in towards him. "Do you think we should tell him?" she asked. Brock shook his head.

"No," he said, "let it be a surprise. They haven't seen each other in so long. Thank goodness the Professor was still in Pallet Town when news came in about that storm. It was lucky that Gary was able to find it so quickly."

"I can't wait to finally meet May," Dawn said. "I really hope that they'll be able to get here in time. Ash really misses her." Brock smiled.

"Knowing those two, and what they'd do for Ash" he said, "I wouldn't be surprised if they were only a town away right now."

Well, this seemed as good a place to end Chapter One as any. I have the rest of the story planned out so please don't worry - I'll write it out as soon as I can. My hope is for this to end up being at least half the length of "May's Crush" (a fantastic fanfiction by PikamasterADV). If you would like to review, please do so, or click my username if you want to contact me personally. Any and all feedback is appreciated. I'll try to update as soon as possible, with both chapters two and three at the same time. Oh, and get ready to encounter some species that you've never even heard of before.