(Taken from Wikipedia - SPOILERS)
The Power of One
|“ ||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. Thus 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.
This is an introduction to the legendary three birds, Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, around which the plot revolves, introducing the theme of a delicate balance between the forces of nature (a common theme throughout the Pokémon series), embodied by the very Pokémon who represent them. The idea of the legend is that should the balance of power between these three birds be destroyed, chaos would ensue, prompting the "Great Guardian" Lugia to rise from the depths of the sea to attempt to end the senseless destruction, yet only with the help of a "Chosen One" destined to save the world.
A Pokémon Collector, Lawrence III, wishes to capture the three legendary birds and follow the legend's tale. This is all part of his plan to capture the Beast of the Sea, Lugia. Using a futuristic aircraft, he captures Moltres from Fire Island to start the prophecy's tale. Sure enough as predicted, the world's climate and weather begin to go awry, alerting the attention of many Pokémon and humans, including Professor Oak. Out in the Orange Islands, Ash Ketchum, Misty, Tracey and their Pokémon are caught in a seastorm and they, along with the owner of the boat they are on, Maren, are washed ashore onto Shamuti Island, the centerpiece of the Orange Islands. Here, they are welcomed by the festive islanders who are celebrating the legend. On woman, Carol, is old friends with Maren and was the former Festival Maiden. Now the role has been passed down to her younger sister, Melody, who takes a liking to Ash. Ash is declared the Chosen One for the festival and is given the rather suicidal task of traveling to the islands of the birds and collecting three glass balls that represent the elements, before bringing them back to the island's shrine where Melody will play a song on a special instrument to end the task. Pikachu, who is rather edgy, heads out to Fire Island, Ash and Maren following.
They get caught in the seastorm again and crash on Fire Island. Ash and Pikachu locate the fire-based sphere but Team Rocket show up to cause trouble. Misty, Tracey and Melody appear unexpectedly in Melody's aerodynamic boat, Melody feeling responsible for sending Ash off. However, Zapdos suddenly appears and after communicating with Pikachu through lightning claiming the island as its own, it is captured by Lawrence III. Ash, his friends and Team Rocket are all captured too accidentally. Inside, they free Moltres and Zapdos but the two birds end up fighting each other and cause the aircraft to crashland on Lightning Island. Ash gains the lightning-based sphere during the escape from the birds. The group escape in Melody's boat, but it is carried to Shamuti by a typhoon, which is revealed to be Lugia. Slowking, guardian of the Shamuti shrine instructs Ash to place the spheres into the shrine. However, Ash is instructed by Lugia to go to Ice Island to retrieve Articuno's sphere. Ash is revealed to be the actual Chosen One as foretold in the legend, but confidence from his friends and Pokémon sends him off to the island. Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charizard try to help Ash get across the frozen ocean but the legendary birds thwart their attempts. Team Rocket race in on a speedboat made from a dingy and a helicopter motor used from a crashed helicopter containing Professor Oak, Professor Ivy, Ash's mother and news crew. Ash, Pikachu and Team Rocket race through Ice Island's undergrowth to the shrine where they collect the last sphere. The legendary birds show up and fight again, Articuno knocked unconscious.
Ash, Pikachu and Team Rocket escape on Lugia but the extra weight is slowing Lugia down, so Team Rocket nobly sacrifice themselves to save the world, surviving the fall into the ocean below. Lawrence III attempts to capture Lugia but the legendary bird uses an Aeroblast to obliterate his aircraft before tumbling into the ocean, defeated. Misty heads out into the ocean to save Ash and Pikachu, bringing them back to shore. Ash, Pikachu, Misty and Tracey head up to the shrine where Ash places the last sphere. Melody plays the song, reviving Lugia from the depths as well as the legendary birds. The weather clears up and Lugia offers Ash and Pikachu a ride in the sky. All eyes present watch as a giant underwater current rises from the ocean like a sea dragon and follows Lugia around, tamed by the bird. The current vanishes back into the sea and the legendary depart to their islands. Ash's mother appears and reveals to Ash that she misses him everyday and asks him to save the world a little closer to home. Some time later, Team Rocket make it to Shamuti where Slowking and they break the fourth wall to reveal that the audience know they helped save the world.