Leaves blew around the city as the lights on the stadium lit up. It was the night of Skopje Fest 2014. Already, Macedonia were going to be deciding their entrant for next year's Eurovision Pokemon Contest. This year, they were going to be the first country to choose their competitor for the big event. Macedonia was not typically good at Pokemon battling, they were a shiny collecting nation, an entire country of shiny hunters. Battling just wasn't their speciality. But still, every year they would show up at the grand tournament of the Eurovision Pokemon Contest. Typically they would get knocked out at the semi-final stage, but they were always back the next year to try again.
It was nearly time, and the Skopje Fest competitors were hanging around the green room. All the entrants were there, except for one, who was mysteriously absent, X Factor Adria winner Daniel Kajmakoski. He was one of the favourites to win Skopje Fest, he had already won the great Pokemon battle at X Factor, shocking everyone, as no one had expected a Macedonian to win the contest.
"Where is he?" Tamara asked, "He should be here by now, the show is starting soon."
"I don't know," Dimitar said, "Should we go and ask someone? We can't really start without him, can we?"
The contestants thought it over, but at that moment, the door opened. Daniel Kajmakoski walked in, along with his mentor, Željko Joksimović. Željko was one of the best Pokemon trainers in Serbia, and one of the best in the entire Balkans too. He had helped many Eurovision entrants in the past, and if Daniel won Skopje Fest, then he would be helping Team Macedonia.
"Hey everyone," Daniel said, "Hope I'm not late!"
"Nah," Vlatko Ilievski replied, "It hasn't started yet. You're right on time!"
Vlatko looked down at his PokeDex. It was coming along quite nicely. He was hoping to get into the Eurovision contest again. He had been before, so this wasn't new to him. Vlatko had won Skopje Fest in 2011 and so won the right to compete at the Eurovision Pokemon Contest back then. He had tried very hard but got knocked out at the semi-final stage. But Macedonia would never give up on the dream, even though they were not the best at Pokemon battling, they would continue to compete at Eurovision. This time, Vlatko had brought another trainer with him, his friend Risto Samardžiev, to be a part of his team. Risto had more experience with Pokemon training, and so he hoped that would give him a better chance. Vlatko looked up from his PokeDex and at the clock on the wall. The show still hadn't started yet.
"What was it like?" Egi asked, "To go to Eurovision and compete at the contest?"
"Oh, it was an experience, that's for sure," Vlatko grinned, "And much harder than Skopje Fest, ya know. Well, I tried my best, and that's all I can do."
Back in 2011, Azerbaijan had been the winners. Ell and Nikki had used the legendary Pokemon Moltres to secure victory. It started a huge debate on whether or not legendary Pokemon should even be allowed in the tournament, but the head of the EBU, Jon Ola Sand, decided to allow legendaries in. His logic was, if a trainer was good enough to catch a legendary Pokemon, then they should be allowed to use it. But no one at Skopje Fest had any legendary Pokemon, even Risto, who had been a Pokemon trainer for longer than the others. Vlatko told the story of Eurovision 2011 to the other entrants.
"And now you want to go again..." Tamara said, "Just like me."
"Yup," Vlatko grinned, "But this time, if I win this, Risto will be with me."
"Haha, yeah," Risto laughed, "Well let's not get too ahead of ourselves, ok? Let the best Pokemon trainer win, whoever that is. The best trainer should represent Macedonia, after all."
"That's true," Tamara said, "But I just loved the whole Eurovision experience. I would love to go again."
Tamara had been in the Eurovision Pokemon Contest back in 2008. Tamara, Vrčak & Adrian had all gone together as Team Macedonia. Even though they had come 10th in the semi-final, there had been a jury wildcard rule back then. The jury got to decide who the 10th country to qualify would be. They chose Sweden instead. Charlotte Perrelli had made some crucial mistakes in her semi-final battles, but Sweden was always a popular country with the juries. Macedonia didn't stand a chance at being chosen against them. Still, they weren't bitter about it. Macedonia would always come back next year to try again. And the next. And the next. They weren't a country to give up easily. They looked over to see Kaliopi walking over to them.
"Hey guys," she said, "Long time no see."
Kaliopi was a strong Pokemon trainer, but even more than that, she was the greatest shiny hunter in all of Macedonia, all of the Balkans, and perhaps even all of Europe. Her collection of shiny Pokemon was the largest in the entire continent. Kaliopi was one of the interval acts tonight, she wasn't going to be a competitor. The Skopje Fest contestants were glad at that, because Kaliopi would be a hard one to beat.
"Well," Željko said, "Are we ready?"
The entrants looked around the green room. Some of them certainly didn't feel ready, especially since they would have a battle against Daniel Kajmakoski, one of the best Pokemon battlers in all of Macedonia, but it was already time for the start of the show. They would have to be ready.
"Sure," Tamara said, "We're ready. Let's begin."
And so the Skopje Fest 2014 began. The Pokemon battles were fierce, but it was obvious that Daniel had the upper hand. His Pokemon were more trained than the others, and he was pretty consistently winning against everyone else. However, winning wasn't everything. The results from the juries and the televoters would also be taken into account towards the final score. One thing was for sure though, everyone expected Daniel to win this.
The entrants recalled their Pokemon back into their Pokeballs and they returned to the green room to wait for the results. Joce Panov looked outside the green room and then walked back over to the others. He seemed very excited about something.
"Guys!" he said, "A golden Pokeball is being brought into the arena!"
"A golden... Pokeball?" Vlatko asked, surprised. Golden Pokeballs were rare, most people had never seen one. They usually contained an amazing Pokemon, like a legendary, or even better for Macedonians, a shiny Pokemon. And sure enough, there it was, the host of Skopje Fest, Vasil Zafircev, walked into the room carrying a golden Pokeball.
"Hey everyone," Vasil said, "Just to let you know, whoever wins Skopje Fest tonight will also win the prize that is inside this Pokeball!"
But something happened, Vasil tripped on a prop on the ground, and he dropped the Pokeball. A flash of light appeared and the Pokeball opened, revealing the Pokemon inside. There it was, a shiny Groudon. A shiny legendary Pokemon. People gasped in amazement. No one had expected this. A legendary AND a shiny?
"That..." Vlatko said, "That... it's beautiful. Wow."
The Skopje Fest entrants gathered around the dinosaur Pokemon.
"Remember guys," Risto said, "It's also a legendary Pokemon. It's very strong. Keep your distance. We need to treat this Pokemon with respect."
"Don't worry you guys," Daniel grinned, "I'll handle this. I'll catch it again and then we can get on with the show!"
Daniel stepped forward and took out a Pokeball, throwing it at the Groudon. The Pokemon immeadiately broke out. This seemed to anger the Pokemon, and it flicked its tail, knocking some empty chairs over.
"Sorry, sorry," Daniel apologised, unsure if the Pokemon could understand him or not. The Pokemon knocked a table over.
"This isn't great, is it?" Dimitar sighed, "Whose bright idea was this?"
"It's not my fault," Vasil said, "Who left that prop on the floor that I tripped on?"
"Guys, guys," Risto said, "Let's not blame each other, I'm sure we can fix this."
"Exactly, Risto," Daniel said, as he picked up another Pokeball and threw it again. The Pokemon popped out of the Pokeball again and this time it was even more angry.
"Daniel!" Tamara yelled, "Please stop throwing Pokeballs!"
"Sorry," Daniel said, "I thought I could catch it. Anyone else got any ideas?"
"Yes, anyone, please," Vasil said, "Before this Pokemon gets out of the green room and into the audience area. It'd be a real shame to have to evacuate the arena or even cancel the end of the show because of this."
Kaliopi stepped forward.
"I have an idea," she said, pulling an Ultra Ball out of her pocket. These were stronger than regular Pokeballs. She threw it as hard as she could at the Pokemon, which went inside the ball. The ball rolled and shook a few times, then clicked. She had done it, she had caught the Pokemon.
"Kaliopi!" Daniel said, "You did it!"
"Thank you, Kaliopi," Vasil said, "Great work catching that Pokemon. Now we can finally get on with the show!"
The entrants sat in the green room as the results were read out. Skopje Fest had certainly been eventful so far, but that was enough excitement for one day. Now, they were going to find out who was going to represent Macedonia in the Eurovision Song Contest. Daniel was leading the scoreboard, which didn't surprise anyone, since he was one of the most popular Pokemon trainers in Macedonia. Tamara was in second place. The final results rolled in.
"And the winner," Vasil said, "Of Skopje Fest 2014... is Daniel Kajmakoski!"
"Wow..." Daniel said, as he took the Skopje Fest trophy from Vasil, "I don't know what to say. Thank you, everyone."
"And, as the winner of Skopje Fest," Vasil said, "You get to represent Macedonia in the Eurovision Pokemon Contest. Also, Kaliopi, the Pokemon you caught was Daniel's prize. You really should hand it over to him."
Kaliopi took the Pokeball out. Daniel thought it over, but he couldn't take it. After all, he had failed to catch it, multiple times. Kaliopi had been the one trainer who was able to capture it.
"No," Daniel said, "I can't accept it. Kaliopi, you caught it, it's your Pokemon."
"Really?" Kaliopi said, "Daniel, thank you so much."
"No, Kaliopi, thank you. I hope one day I can be as worthy a Pokemon trainer as you and have a shiny legendary of my own. I almost feel like I'm not the real winner, and that you're the real winner."
"Nonsense, Daniel," Kaliopi grinned, "You are the winner of Skopje Fest, that's why you'll be going to Eurovision next May. Good luck at ESC!"
"Thank you," Daniel said, "Hopefully nothing like that happens at the actual contest."
And so, Macedonia had their Eurovision entrant, Daniel Kajmakoski. Macedonia had been the first country to choose their contestant for the 2015 contest, so Skopje Fest signalled the beginning of Eurovision 2015. Everyone was excited for the big event. Macedonia hoped that Daniel would do well at the contest, but one thing was for sure, they would be proud of him no matter what.