8 Judging - Part 2
"Pikachu wants to leave. He feels the training is too tough for him, and knowing it will only get harder, he doesn't want to stay and endure it. He, like the others has decided to leave. Now, when we first got here I stood here and told you what we were doing. As a team, you all agreed. It has been 4 months since we started here. Since we got here I have committed myself to training both myself and you. Some of you think I have lost my younger self, am more reserved, am colder. To you I say remember our defeat. We knocked out two of his Pokémon. 5 years training made a mockery of. That is why I came out here to train, to get stronger. However, I will now ask you the same question I did at the start. You have seen what you're going to go through. I will be with you every step of the way, but if for any reason you feel unable to complete this, please step forward now. I will permit you to leave. However, if you stay I want this to be a commitment that you will be with me to the end. Take your time, make this decision. If you leave, I will not remember that you left. I will remember all the work you've done in the last 5 years, and I will remember you."
Ash turned and walked away again, adopting a meditation position some 30 meters away. The Pokémon all looked at each other in shock, Pikachu the center of attention as they tried to work out what he meant. Eeevee walked away from the group, to watch from a distance. Her decision was easy, she would stay. Looking back over the group she guessed a few that would stay. Charizard was a given, he had already stomped away from the rest of the Pokémon. She suspected Bayleef wouldn't leave her beloved trainer.
The rest, she was unsure. As time went on, she realised just how few were actually staying. And when they stood on the hill watching as almost every Pokémon Ash owned left him, she saw him crying. As her heart went out to her master, she felt a rush of power inside her. She began to glow white, causing her trainer to drop to his knee next to her. Under his cold, empty eyes she evolved into Espeon, shortly before the sun set. Ash looked at her, and saw determination in her eyes, determination to succeed and make him proud.
When he looked back over the departing Pokémon, being led away by his first partner, he no longer felt the loss. He would miss Pikachu, but he had a team of Pokémon that he would still love. And his right eye suddenly lit up, showing energy in it once again.
Espeon turned her mind back to her master, whom she was still curled up against. Since that day she had rapidly become the Pokémon he was closest to. She had taught herself how to link to his mind to give a method of communication, and over the years she had always been the one that he turned to when he needed comfort. She reflected that she had taken on the role of Pikachu, although not replaced the electric-type in her masters heart.
Regardless, she knew she had at least managed to drive him away from the pit of despair he nearly sank into. On the Day of Departure she had sworn to protect him. She blamed Pikachu for the changes in Ash, but she was still happy. Suddenly she was snapped out of her thoughts by him moving away. As he left the sofa he turned back and said a mere two words.
"Thank you." And he walked away.
"Hello, I'm Misty Waterflower, I have an appointment with the Pokémon Master."
Misty was somewhat nervous, standing in front of the receptionists desk at the Indigo Plateau. She knew the importance of this interview, if she failed to impress, she could have her training license revoked.
"Yes Miss Waterflower. The licence review. If you are your friends take the elevator up to the twelfth floor, you will be met there."
Misty led Brock, James, Dawn and Gary towards the lift. Pikachu sat on her shoulder. As the elevator moved up, there was silence. Stepping out onto the specified floor, there was a corridor with a door at the end. Halfway down was an area with a series of chairs in, clearly a waiting area. As they began to move down the corridor, a voice was heard, although it wasn't clear where it was coming from.
"Gary Oak, please enter through the door at the end. Everybody else, please wait in the waiting area."
Gary looked at the rest, his eyebrows raised. The rest of the group did as ordered, leaving Gary to the fifteen metre walk alone. As he neared the door it opened, revealing the office inside. He stepped through, noting the simplicity inside. There was a large desk with a computer on it. A pile of folders lay next to a telephone and there was a chair either side of the desk. The lack of decorations added to the simplicity of the room, as well as its imposing nature.
There was nowhere to hide here. The man behind the desk was wearing black once again, dressed in the clothes that were becoming his trademark as Pokémon Master. Black boots, trousers, shirt and jacket. A hat once again covered his eyes, leaving his face hidden in shadow. He had a presence that intimidated Gary. He gestured for Gary to take a seat opposite him, and the young researcher obliged.
"So, why is Miss Waterflower innocent? I presume you have something to tell me."
Gary was slightly taken aback at the direct question, but quickly launched into his story.
"I have known Misty for twelve years, with her originally travelling with a rival of mine. In the time I've known her I have never seen her do anything against Pokémon. Recently I have started helping her train, so that she can be stronger. When she trains her Pokémon she never pushes them too hard. She frequently visits my grand-fathers lab in Pallet, and he checks over her Pokémon, pronouncing them to be in extremely good health. I have a letter from him confirming this."
Gary pulled out the letter, and handed it over. 'Champion' took it, opened it and glanced down it. He turned back to Gary.
"He says that the Pokémon are fit and healthy. However, as the Cerulean Gym leader for most of her career, she may not have had to push them? They only get hurt when she has to."
"No! She would never hurt her Pokémon! She..."
"She hurt her Golduck when she faced me. How do you know she didn't do it at other times on her fourteen months travelling?"
Gary was about to protest that she hadn't, but then he realised he didn't know. He knew in his heart that Misty was innocent, but the questions he was asked made him realize how hard it was going to be to prove it. He had seen Misty with Ash, and the concern she showed then but...
"Do you have anything else to add?"
Gary bowed his head, feeling sick to his stomach as he muttered. "No."
In the waiting area there was a tense silence as they waited for the results of Gary's interview. Suddenly the voice echoed out once again.
"Dawn Hikari, please enter through the door at the end."
Dawn paled suddenly, and looked terribly nervous. Before she could go anywhere she felt a hand on her arm. James was smiling at her, a warm smile that gave her confidence. She moved with more confidence as she headed towards the door, but she saw Gary coming out looking terrible. He had only been there for five minutes, but he looked like he had just run a marathon. He sat back down next to Misty and leaned back in his chair looking at the ceiling. Dawn turned and headed in.
"So, Miss Hikari, your evidence?"
"In the time I've known Misty I've worked very closely with her, improving both my style and hers. This has been going on for the last 5 years. In that time my Piplup has gotten very close to many of her Pokémon. As a result, I feel you should ask him how he feels Misty treats Pokémon."
Dawn held up the Pokéball of her starter, and released him. The Penguin Pokémon landed on the desk, looking up at the man in front of him. He began to chatter quickly, before 'Champion' held up a hand. He leaned forward to look Piplup in the eyes, and then gestured for Piplup to continue. At the end of the stream of chatter, he leaned back in his chair. Then still focused on the Penguin he started to ask questions.
"Training length and exertion in a day."
"Piplup, pip, piplup."
"Where does she get it from?"
"Thank you Piplup." He turned his attention back to Dawn. "Anything else?"
Dawn was staring at him. "Can you understand Pokémon?"
"Pretty much. It's in their expressions. Do you have anything else to add?"
James was next to go in, with Dawn looking happier than Gary had, although shaken. As he sat down, he was greeted the same question as the other two.
"You may be aware that I used to be a member of Team Rocket." 'Champion' nodded. "I'm not proud of it, but for a long time my mission was to try and steal a particular Pokémon owned by a travelling companion of hers, Ash Ketchum. In the time that she travelled with him, she fought against us tooth and nail when we tried to steal Pokémon. A memory that I recall with particular clarity was in the Orange Islands. I was trying to get hold of some salveo weed for a team-mate of mine who had been hit by Stun Spore. I tried to attack a Poliwag to persuade it to help me get some, but Misty stepped in. As far as I'm aware, she hadn't a reason to defend the Pokémon, but she did anyway, despite the fact that her friends were also in danger from the Stun Spore. It was a selfless act made even better by the fact that she gave me some of the weed she had already collected. In fact, as far as I'm aware, that Poliwag trusted her so quickly that it is still part of her team."
"So she had a reason to fight for it?"
"I wouldn't have said that at the time. She would always fight for any Pokémon we were attacking, regardless of the circumstances. This is just the one I remember the best."
"Fine. Anything else?"
James couldn't help but think that his interviewer wasn't really convincing the Pokémon Master. However, they had all planned something to say and he had said his bit. So, hoping it had been enough, nodded, and stood to leave.
"I've known Misty for a long time. I've always wanted to be a breeder, and I looked after her Pokémon when they were injured. Now I'm a Doctor and I regularly check on her Pokémon for her, I can promise you that they are health." It was Brock's turn, and although he was intimidated by the Pokémon Master, but like the rest he refused it let it show.
"I will examine them myself, although your opinion is interesting. You would say she is a close friend?"
"So forgive me if I don't trust your opinion. I suspect you would do anything for her, and lying to me would be one small thing."
"What? I wouldn't lie!"
"I'm just stating a possibility. You have given me a testimony that is hard to prove or disprove. Therefore, whilst I will take it into account, I cannot make my decision based on it. I will do it on evidence. Do you have any of that to offer?"
"Aside from my professional opinion on the state of her Pokémon, no I don't."
"You're the one overseeing this?" was all Misty could stutter out. It certainly explained why all her friends had seemed totally drained when they got out, she knew first-hand how intense he could was.
"I was the one who observed the event."
"How long till you make a decision?"
"Soon. Talk me through battle against me where Golduck went too far."
"I have had Golduck since it was a Psyduck. Back then it was a Pokémon that was stubborn, couldn't swim, and had a constant headache. However, after many years of working with him, he evolved into Golduck. However, he maintained his stubborn streak. Before I gave up my position as the Cerulean Gym Leader, I spoke to all my Pokémon, let them know what I was planning and seeing if they agreed. They did. All the training I did between now and then was what we had agreed on. The night before our battle I spoke to them once again, explaining what the opportunity was. I told them that if we were strong enough you might train us. They liked the idea, and they had promised to give it their all. They fought well against your Sharpedo, but were outclassed, I will admit that. Golduck has always had phenomenal endurance, and when he saw the scoreboard he realized that not a single one of your Pokémon had been beaten, and the one he faced didn't look like it had beaten 5 opponents already. He wanted to give it his all. I thought about recalling him after the Giga Impact, but I thought I still had a chance to impress you with his endurance. He was able to still battle at that point. When he was hit by Hyper Beam, I thought about recalling him. However, he wanted to continue, determined to climb back to his feet. The attack that finished him was his own. When I asked him if he could carry on, I wasn't expecting him to fire his own Hyper Beam. I should have recalled him, but he was refusing to lie down. I was angry at getting thrashed so I wasn't thinking clearly."
"So it was anger on your part? Coupled with loyalty from Golduck."
'Champion' stared at Misty for a moment, before turning to a file on his desk. He opened it and slid it over to Misty. She looked down at the top page, before turning back to him.
"What is this? It looks like a record from a hospital."
"It is. Cerulean Hospital. These are records from seven years ago. Each of these Pokémon were in critical care. The reason for each was a battle at the Cerulean Gym. Explain."
Misty looked back down thoroughly alarmed. It was true. There was nineteen Pokémon here, all who ended up in critical care over a six month period, all having been beaten by her. She had been furious when she heard about Ash's disappearance and she had taken it out on her challengers. The worst ones had been the slightly arrogant ones, or ones that tried to beat her using Pokémon who were weak against Water types. They reminded her of the friend that had vanished without telling anybody where he was going, and she let her Pokémon go all out. Gyarados had personally put over half in hospital. However this wasn't helping her case.
"Before this period started a friend of mine vanished. He had just lost a battle in the Sinnoh League and he was bitterly disappointed. He had come home, but I could tell that something was wrong with him. I wanted to take time off from the gym to stay with him, but he insisted that I went back, saying that he would come and visit me soon. Two days later he vanished, taking all his Pokémon and leaving a message explaining that he was leaving to train. I blamed myself for his departure and began to take it out on my opponents, especially any that reminded me of him. After a few months I sought some help and calmed down, no longer doing it to anybody else."
"So once again your anger got the better of you?"
"I suppose so."
The file was withdrawn and replaced by another. Misty looked at it and her heart skipped a beat. It was titled "Charicific Valley". She had gone there at the start of her training journey, to have her Pokémon practice facing fire types. She had been beaten by enough to know that she couldn't just assume that she could win by using a Water-Type and so had gone to train against the Charizard there.
Liza had been interested by the idea and had asked the Charizard there if they were willing to do so. They had been, but as her team got stronger they had finally faced one of the strongest Charizard in the valley and had slaughtered him. A few of the other Charizard had tried to support the one that Misty had fought, but her team was too strong.
With the type –advantage, she had wiped the floor with them and caused some serious injuries. She then tried to help treat them but was attacked. Finally Liza took her out of the valley. Evidently he had found out about this particular event. Misty explained this to her interviewer, and was greeted with a nod from 'Champion'.
Three more files came, each on a time when Misty had caused Pokémon to be hurt at various times over the years. Each time she explained it, and was greeted by a nod. At the end of the files, Misty felt drained. She hadn't expected him to be able to find out all these things about her. However, the sixth file shocked her the most. It was titled "Shamouti Island".
"Care to explain what happened here?" 'Champion asked.
"It... The friend who left, his name was Ash Ketchum. He was made the Chosen One for a ritual on Shamouti, but a Pokémon Collector, Lawrence III tried to capture the legendary birds Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno. He wanted them to force another Pokémon, Lugia out so he could capture it. I helped Ash fight against Lawrence, and eventually restore the balance."
This was greeted with a nod by 'Champion' who then took the file back, placing it on the pile, before looking back to Misty and asking his last question.
"Do you have anything to add?"
Misty was about to shake her head, but then she remembered something. "I have a Pokémon with me, that isn't mine. He belonged to Ash, but he came back 4 months after Ash vanished. After a few days he came to spend time with me. And I looked after him. He is in excellent health, and I thought I could show him to you as proof that I look after other Pokémon.
"No. He was the Pokémon of a close friend, so you would obviously treat him well. Having travelled with him, I would be shocked if you didn't."
"But he came all this way, and I don't want to disappoint him. I would probably regret it."
"Very well. I'll call him."
There followed a few seconds silence before the door swung open and a yellow mouse darted in. He leaped up onto Misty's shoulder and looked questioningly at her. Misty gestured to 'Champion' who sat in shock as he saw his partner once again. For once he was unable to speak. The little mouse looked at him, but Ash no longer smelled like he did. Over the years his smell had changed, and without being able to see his eyes Pikachu had no way of telling that this tall imposing man was the same as the kind-hearted trainer he had loved.
So he obediently hopped onto the desk and presented himself for inspection. Recovering, 'Champion leaned forward in his chair to look at the Pokémon, before turning back to Misty, grateful for the changes in his voice that hid his identity.
"He is very healthy. Appears to be stronger than most Pikachu. Look after him."
He then stood walked to a door set in a different wall to the one that Misty had come through. It led to a flight of stairs, which he gestured to. Misty followed him down the stairs, and was surprised when it opened out into a large training area. She was led over to a pool, where it was obvious Water- Pokémon would train. 'Champion' turned to her.
"Release your Pokémon."
Misty took out five Pokéball's and threw them, allowing her Pokémon to appear. Gyarados came out with his usual roar, which he rapidly subdued once he realised what situation they were in. Before Misty could talk to them, 'Champions' voice rang out.
"Line up. I need to inspect you."
They did as ordered, and 'Champion' walked along in front of each of them, looking carefully at each one, as well as using his aura to inspect them. As he passed Dewgong on the end he turned back to Misty.
"You may recall them."
He then turned and strode back towards his office, Misty hurrying to recall her Pokémon then follow him. As they reached the office, sat behind his desk and returned to his computer, typing quickly. As he finished Misty heard a ping from her Pokédex. She took it out and looked at it, Pikachu peering over her shoulder to see the screen.
'License restored to full status. An official warning has been attached.'
Misty breathed out, feeling tension leave her. 'Champion' held out his hand, with a Pokéball in it.
"Golduck. He is, like the rest of your Pokémon, very strong. Look after them Miss Waterflower."
Misty took the Pokéball, still in a trance, not believing that it had happened so quickly. She was clear. The warning was fair, and she could go and train. Behind her the door swung open, and 'Champion' stood up, holding his hand out again. Misty took it, and turned to leave suddenly turning back.
"Thank you. For the speed which you came to a decision. And for a fair hearing. Though I confess, I was surprised at your questions, you researched me thoroughly."
"It's my job Miss Waterflower."
"But thank you nonetheless."
And Misty turned and headed down the corridor to tell her friends the good news. She was congratulated with Dawn in particular being emotional, and they all headed back to Pallet Town. It wasn't agreed on, but somehow nobody felt quite up to discussing the events in their individual interviews, as the questioner dissected their arguments and made them question their judgments. Everybody was wondering why she was acquitted, but Misty suspected she knew. The questions she had been asked in her interview made her realize how well she had been researched. The Pokémon Master was just making sure she was what everybody said she was.