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''Disturb not the harmony of fire, ice or lightning, lest these titans wreak destruction upon the world in which they clash. Though the water's great guardian shall arise to quell the fighting, alone its song will fail, lest the earth shall turn to ash. O Chosen One, into thine hands bring together all three. Their treasures combined tame the Beast of the Sea.''
:--'''Shamouti Prophecy'''
The film begins at the Shamouti Shrine, where a Slowking kept guard, as the prophecy was read. Later, it changes to an aircraft where a computer shows holograms of the three {{OBP|legendary birds|M02}}. [[Lawrence III]], a wealthy collector of the world's most valuable antiques, wishes to make his collection complete by catching the three legendary birds, {{p|Moltres}}, {{p|Zapdos}}, and {{p|Articuno}}. Any one of them would be a priceless addition to Lawrence's collection, but he aims to capture the three in order to capture the fourth and most powerful bird, {{p|Lugia}}. Using his giant flying aircraft, Lawrence arrives at Fire Island, home to Moltres. He provokes the Flame Pokémon by shooting ice cannons at its habitat. This caused it to leave its island, and after weakening it with more ice shots, he captures the firebird. However, as Lawrence begins to follow the prophecy, the world's climate begins to be affected.
Somewhere in the [[Orange Archipelago|Orange Islands]], {{Ash}}, {{an|Misty}}, and {{Tracey}} are traveling to their next island destination on board a boat owned by a woman named [[Maren]]. They send out their Pokémon as Tracey suggested so they can have some fresh air. {{AP|Charizard}} and {{AP|Snorlax}}, however, were briefly out of their Poké Balls, but Charizard was recalled after it breathed fire, and Snorlax was recalled because it weighed down the boat. {{TRT}} as usual follow in their submarine. Suddenly, both parties are struck by a sea storm and dragged across the ocean to the middle of the Orange Islands, where they arrive at [[Shamouti Island]]. The weather is also going wrong at [[Pallet Town]], as witnessed by {{an|Professor Oak}}, [[Delia Ketchum]], and [[Mimey]]. They witness various Pokémon traveling in groups towards one direction. According to the Professor, Pokémon can sense the abnormalities in nature better than humans. Ash, Misty, and Tracey, along with their Pokémon meet the islanders of Shamouti, who are celebrating their annual Legend Festival following the prophecy's tale, in -which a Chosen One shall help Lugia to save the world and calm the legendary birds. Maren's friend, [[Carol]] was once the Festival Maiden, but as she's too old for that role, her younger rebellious sister {{OBP|Melody|M02}} takes on the role with some reluctance. As Ash is introduced as a Pokémon Trainer, the islanders become ecstatic, as the legend foretold his arrival. As Melody meets Ash, she approves of him for the role of Chosen One and kisses him, angering Misty.
During the festival ceremony, Melody plays a tune similar to the cry of Lugia and afterward explains Ash's role as Chosen One. He must venture out to the islands of the legendary birds and collects three glass orbs (she uses some fruits as the orbs during her explanation) that represent the elements of Fire, Ice and Lightning, bring them back to Shamouti's shrine where Melody will play the same tune which will end the festival. Ash heads out immediately, with Maren and Pikachu going with him. Pikachu steals Ash's hat as Misty shows reluctance in going. Team Rocket rows what's left of their submarine, which became a boat. Maren's boat crosses their path and capsizes the trio's boat. As they hang on, a wave crashes onto them. After a brief scene of Slowking noticing the mess caused by Moltres' capture, Melody expresses her concern for Ash as the storm extinguishes a torch. As Team Rocket finally make it ashore, they notice Melody, Misty, and Tracey running.
As Lawrence's aircraft detects the presence of Zapdos, islanders watch the news which talked about the unusual weather. This news story also reaches Delia and Professor Oak. [[Professor Ivy]] phones in in the middle, telling Professor Oak that the Pokémon are behaving strangely. Meanwhile, Pikachu, (who was the only one aware of the urgency of the situation), leads Ash to the location of the Fire Sphere on Fire Island, after Maren's boat crashes onto its shores and loses its rudder. The boat carrying Team Rocket, Misty, Tracey and Melody flipped, causing Team Rocket to get launched onto the island, and the boat crashes onto a rock as Maren tries to relax. When the storm threatens to harm the boat containing the others, Melody hoists a sail. They use the boat and the wind to ascend the steps. The scene changes to Lawrence's aircraft as he admires his newly acquired Moltres, who is helpless. The computer announces Zapdos' arrival to Fire Island.
The scene changes again as Ash and Pikachu ascend the stairs, and Team Rocket plans to take Pikachu. Pikachu finds a pedestal containing the Fire Orb and motions Ash. Ash tries to obtain the sphere while Pikachu urges him on, and manages to collect it. As they turn to head back, they confront Team Rocket and as the trio recites part of their {{motto}}, both groups [[Breaking the fourth wall|break the fourth wall]]. Melody, Misty, and Tracey's boat arrives, as does Zapdos. Pikachu and Zapdos communicate using electrical attacks, with {{MTR}} translating the conversation, as Zapdos explains it shall claim the island for its own. Lawrence's ship appears, draining Zapdos of its power and later capturing the Electric Pokémon and the rest in Melody's boat. The ship's computer informs Lawrence that there were others captured along with Zapdos. As they stand in the cage in the ship's lower chamber, Tracey notes the imprisoned birds, and Melody notes a stone with the Shamouti Prophecy etched and reads aloud the first sentence. As Lawrence mentions his plan to collect the birds, Misty criticizes him. Lawrence is very polite to his accidental captives and kindly releases them. The computer informs him of Articuno's location, and he leaves. The scene changes to Articuno as it uses {{m|Ice Beam}} on an island, freezing it and the water around the island. The news later states that a massive amount of Pokémon are making their way to the island, except for those that cannot cross water. The newspeoplereporters speak to the two Professors about a cause, and Professor Oak correctly predicts that the legendary birds are involved. After a brief scene featuring Slowking, followed by another scene depicting Shamouti Island in a snowstorm as Carol worries about Melody, the scene return to the lower chamber as Melody reads the prophecy again.
The group suggest to free the imprisoned birds as Lawrence's ship nears Articuno. Lawrence provokes the Freeze Pokémon using fire. Something underwater notices the commotion and ascends. Back in the chamber, Ash calls out Charizard and Pikachu to use {{m|Flamethrower}} and {{m|Thunder Shock}} to free Moltres, while James calls out {{TP|James|Weezing}}, who fails to save Zapdos. Jessie then releases {{TP|Jessie|Arbok}} to attempt to release Zapdos with {{m|Poison Sting}}, but it fails to penetrate the prison. Ash calls out Squirtle and Bulbasaur. As Squirtle joins in with {{m|Water Gun}}, Moltres is released. Moltres unleashes a Flamethrower attack that breaks Zapdos free. As the two birds are freed, however, they immediately get into a fight and destroy the ship in the process. The ship informs Lawrence that it is going down, and promptly crashes onto Lightning Island. The group evacuates and lands onto the island. The debris of the ship crashes onto the pedestal, destroying it and releasing the Lightning Sphere, which Ash acquires. The group escape onto Melody's boat while Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno duel overhead. A giant typhoon scoops up the boat and carries it to the Shamouti Shrine, where Ash and the others meet Slowking, the shrine's guardian. Able to speak, he shows Ash where to place the collected spheres. When he sets down the Spheres of Thunder and Fire, the legendary birds attack the shrine, but are stopped by the sudden appearance of {{mov|Lugia|Lugia|02}}. Lawrence eyes Lugia from the remains of his aircraft in awe, considering it "his prize" while the other three birds gang up and attack it. Lugia attempts to quell the fighting and protect the shrine, but the Diving Pokémon eventually falls victim to the attacks and crashes down. Meanwhile, the massive gathering of Pokémon arrive after crossing the now-frozen sea.