3 Things change - Part 1
"Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the inauguration of the Pokémon Master. In keeping with the traditions, the new Master, known only as 'The Champion' will accept a fight against any trainer that wishes to test themselves against him, for the first month of his reign. However, with his already stated intention to avoid the media, it is unknown if 'the Champion' intends to make an inaugural address after he is crowned"
The stadium was completely packed, this was an event that nobody wished to miss, the inauguration of a new Pokémon Master. Every Gym Leader and Elite Four member from Kanto, Johto, Sinnoh, Hoenn and Unova were present, as were many of the famous researchers from around the regions.
Professor Oak had been invited and had gone, but the rest of the gang were left behind, sat around the TV at the Ketchum residence watching the event. As usual, Max was ranting about his new idol although he had finally shut up when the TV commentator began to speak.
In the middle of the stadium, Mr Goodshow was just standing up, and gesturing for quiet throughout the stadium. As the crowd finally began to settle down and listen, Mr Goodshow pulled out a microphone and began to speak.
"Welcome to all of you! We are here to confirm the appointment of a new Pokémon Master, after he won the title from his predecessor, Cynthia. And now, Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome for the final time as Pokémon Master, the beautiful, Miss Cynthia Shirona!"
Applause erupted around the stadium, with the Sinnoh-native being given a standing ovation. Whilst she was well-known for her prowess in battle, Cynthia had become popular for her down to earth nature, and her willingness to help upcoming trainers. Many in the Pokémon world would miss her reign at the top, which had been far shorter than anybody had ever anticipated. As she reached Mr Goodshow, she took the microphone, and turning to face the crowd, she waited for silence.
"Thank you." Her voice, level, refusing to let any weakness show. "I am honoured to have my departure treated in such a way. Throughout my reign as Master, I tried to keep the League strong. Three years ago, I promised you that I would aid the leaders across regions as well as any upcoming trainer. In that time, I would like to think I have honoured my promises. Now, as my reign comes to an end, I retire in the knowledge that I did my best. Thank you for your support through the years, support that I hope you will extend to my successor."
Cheers and applause rang out once again as Cynthia turned to Mr Goodshow who had managed to find another microphone from somewhere, and his voice rang out across the stadium.
"It is now my pleasure to introduce a man who went through the entire tournament known only as 'the Trainer'. When he first arrived, he refused to give his name, merely displaying the badges from all 4 regions, and requesting to enter the tournament. Now, at its end, he has emerged as not only the champion, but as one of the most powerful battlers I have ever seen fight. He has truly earned his rank, and the name he has been given reflects his ability. So, please put your hands together for legend among trainers, it's the new Pokémon Master, 'the Champion'!
Ash strode out into the stadium. He was dressed in his usual black, his hat covering his face once again. He didn't acknowledge the crowd, but merely reached the centre, rejecting the offer of a microphone. He knew that the crowd didn't love him like they loved Cynthia, yet they made nearly as much noise for him. As he turned to face the women he had defeated, the crowd began to die down again, allowing her voice to be heard cracking slightly with emotion as the day she thought would never come was upon her.
"Champion, having defeated me, accept my title as Pokémon Master, and promise to lead the Pokémon League to the best of your ability, until you are incapable of the role. Judge fairly, lead wisely and uphold the values on which the League was founded."
Without any emotion, his voice completely neutral even as it was amplified around the stadium, Ash responded as expected of him. "I accept both the title, and the challenge." Nobody had heard him talk normally, during his battles, he had rarely spoken, giving only a single command at any point. Cynthia then turned and walked up to a platform in the stadium where she picked up an emblem and handed it to Ash who had followed her.
The emblem represented the Pokémon Master, and was a solid gold badge, with a different part of it devoted to each type, a lightning bolt for electricity, a flame for fire and so on. With the passing of the emblem, Cynthia passed over her title, her rank, her whole life. All this Ash accepted without any emotion or even words. Cynthia then stepped down, and joined Mr Goodshow at the foot of the platform. They turned expectantly to the Champion as he looked towards the stadium.
Ash looked out with an even gaze. He had planned for this moment through the years, thinking of something to say. He knew his inaugural address was expected to set the tone for his reign, and as a result he knew he had to be careful.
His ideas could be considered radical. Whilst he might be considered cold, and cared for few beyond his Pokémon, he did still understand what other people expected. He realised he had paused for too long, and looked out into the silence once again. Clearing his throat, he began speaking, his voice being amplified across the stadium despite no visible microphone.
"Elites, Gym Leaders, Researchers, Trainers. Anybody with an interest in Pokémon. I stand before you as your new Champion. I expect that all of you have questions for me that you would like to ask. So I feel that I should clarify somethings first. As has already been made clear, I shall never give interviews to the media. Equally my name shall not be revealed. Mr Goodshow has agreed to oblige me in this. With respect to..."
"This guy is intense" muttered Gary. "I don't even know where to start in analysing him."
The gang was still sat around the TV, unable to look away. 'The Champion' was working his way through how he would work as Champion. It became clear that underneath his cool exterior, there was a fearsome intelligence driving the Champion. However, what they were waiting for, was his plans for the Pokémon League.
"Now, my plans for the League itself. During her reign, Cynthia tried to make sure that the gym leaders across the regions would be able to maintain the high standard expected. This I agree with. However, Cynthia also believed that she should devote a considerable amount of her time to teaching young trainers. I disagree. I plan to ensure that there is a structure in place that means that any young trainer can become great by working with the Gym Leaders. As such, I shall be carefully watching the gyms, and ensuring that they are not only up to the very high standard expected, but also doing their traditional role; teaching trainers. At the founding of the Pokémon League, gyms took in a large number of trainers and taught them. It required gym leaders to be far more versatile than just battlers. I will make sure that this is true once again, and any leader who is unable to complete the tasks required of them will be replaced, either in training new trainers or in their abilities to defend their badge. It is possible that you will think I am being harsh. To you I say, I intend to uphold all the traditions of the League, and this is merely the first. However, when the League was first founded, the Pokémon Master did train a select few. The strongest trainers around that do not necessarily wish to be part of an Elite Four, would expect to be allowed to demonstrate to the Master what they could do, and if they were deemed good enough, they would be trained. This, I shall do. So, in an appeal to the strongest trainers out there. If you believe you are good enough, perhaps the best in your chosen type, or you believe you are a fearsome enough trainer, then come. Show me you are worthy, and I shall accept you as a student. Thank you, and once again I shall strive to fulfil everything I have promised, and to give you a league you can truly be proud of."
Silence reigned in the Ketchum house. None of them believed what they were hearing. Did he honestly plan to fire gym leaders? There hadn't been a gym leader actually fired for more than 30 years! To think that people they knew could soon be removed was shocking. However, as the final part of his speech sunk in, Misty suddenly gasped.
She knew she was a good trainer. She knew she could be considered perhaps the strongest Water Pokémon trainer around, having won the Whirl Cup the previous year. And the Pokémon Master had just announced that the strongest trainers would have a chance to prove what they could do, and then train under him. This was an opportunity that she could not pass up if she wanted to fulfil her dream. She then realised that the others were still discussing the speech.
"Uh guys..." Misty started. Then stopped when they all turned to look at her. "Err... I think..."
Tracey smiled. "You think you should try to get him to train you, don't you Misty?"
"How did you..."
"Misty, I'm dating your sister. She knows how desperately you want to become a Water-Pokémon Master, and you phased out as soon as he said that he'd train the strongest trainers. It wasn't hard for a Watcher."
"Misty, are you sure about this?" Brock asked. "I mean, how do you show that you are one of the strongest? I know your good, and I know you've improved massively from when you started, but a lot of great trainers are out there. How do you prove you're the best?"
And there was the stumbling block. Nobody was sure how to persuade somebody with the power of 'The Champion' that they were worth training. Max suggested telling him that she had won the Whirl Cup, but as Gary pointed out, so had a lot of people. That put you high, but not at the top. Her gym record spoke for itself, but again it wasn't enough to prove she was the best or even that close. She could potentially even get a recommendation from Professor Oak, or some of the other gym leaders, but it could easily be ignored. Then Drew started to laugh.
"Whats so funny?" snapped the Water trainer. "If you have an idea, spit it out."
Drew flicked her hair, and grinned. "Isn't it obvious? If you want to demonstrate how good you are, show him."
Even May looked a bit annoyed at this one, pushing his arm away from around her shoulders so she could twist and glare at her boyfriend. "Drew, that's what we are trying to work out, how to show him."
"I know. But I meant literally show him. He has just been sworn in as Pokémon Master. For the next month, anybody who wishes to test themselves need only go to the Indigo Plateau and ask to fight him, and he has to accept. If you want to show him how good you are, fight him, and show him that way."
Misty gulped. This was, as Drew had pointed out, blindingly obvious. However, having watched him battle, she was terrified. Did she really want to fight the most powerful trainer in living memory? She had watched him battle Cynthia, and watched one Pokémon wipe the floor with her. Then Brock spoke again;
"Misty, I know you don't want to face him. But think, if you want to train with him, you cannot be scared. You have to be able to capable of facing him, and doing your best. You won't win, in fact, its unlikely that you will even knock out one of his Pokémon. But if you fight well, you might just do enough to make him think about training you. And whilst it will hurt to think about it, if Ash were here, what would he suggest you do?"
There was no counter to that argument. They all knew what their friend would have suggested. Try. Even rushing into it. Face it, rushing into things was Ash's specialty. He never thought anything through. However, Misty was still unsure, but May then spoke up. "Misty, you know you'll have our support. We'll be there cheering you on. You can do this."
Jessie then jumped in; "Face it twerp, if you've trained at all recently, you must be pretty good. You were always good enough to thrash us before. How hard can a battle be? Worst case: You lose. Badly. Like everybody else has, even the old Master. Anything over that is a plus."