10 Starting - Part 2
Hoothoot charged in with another attack, determined to make sure this didn't miss, but Mellanie was ready for it.
As the Owl Pokémon came near, it was caught in a stream of bubbles that forced it to the ground. Before it could recover, Poliwag was on it, beginning a vicious Double-slap attack. Hoothoot finally managed to get away, but not before it had been visibly hurt by the attack, whilst Poliwag remained fresh. Falkner gritted his teeth in anger, before ordering the next attack.
"Hoothoot, Take Down"
Hoothoot went into a steep dive, but as it came close to Poliwag, Mellanie gave her final command.
"End it with Water Gun!"
Unable to dodge at such close range, Hoothoot was sent crashing into the ground. As the dust cleared, his eyes were replaced by swirls, leaving Falkner to return his Pokémon, before replacing it instantly.
"Dodrio, revenge time."
Mellanie recalled her Poliwag to replace it with Geodude. Falkner gritted his teeth, knowing that he would be lucky to win this match-up, and another defeat would give Mellanie the victory.
"Dodrio, Tri Attack"
As each of the three heads fired a beam, Geodude merely dropped under them, before curling into a ball to endure the follow up.
"Dodrio, Fury Attack, and don't let up."
"Geodude, stay curled up"
The three headed bird continued his furious pecking, but was making no progress against the stubborn defence of Geodude. Now fuming at the girls ability to counter his every move, Falkner pressed for an attack that would actually do some damage.
"Dodrio, Drill Peck"
As Dodrio stopped its pecking, its three beaks began to spin rapidly. However, as it struck forward, it found its target had rolled away. As Dodrio began to chase after it, Geodude doubled back round and smashed into Dodrio, sending it skidding back across the field. As Dodrio recovered, Geodude smashed into him once again, and again. After the fourth collision, Dodrio failed to get up, and Geodude stopped his rolling.
Falkner recalled his Dodrio, before stepping out across the field. Winning two battles was enough to win the Zephyr Badge, and he congratulated Mellanie, handing her the badge, before returning into his gym to train.
"Good win Mellanie. Seriously, that was impressive."
"Thank you Sam" responded the girl, smiling at him. They were heading towards the Sprout Tower, something that they both wanted to see before they headed on to Azalea Town.
"But why didn't you use Totodile? Surely he wanted to fight?"
"He did, but he fought those trainers outside the city. I wanted Poliwag to get some experience, and Geodude was a no brainer. If either of them lost, Totodile was ready for his last Pokémon."
Sam was about to respond when the tower loomed in front of them. Heading through the door, they smiled at the men on the ground floor, before heading up the tower. On the first floor they were stopped by a man who challenged them to a battle. Mellanie was about to step forward when she felt a hand on her arm. Sam was smiling at her, holding out a Pokéball.
"I've got this Mellanie."
Another man stepped out next to the first. "How about we make it a double battle?" the newcomer suggested, holding out his own Pokéball.
"Very well, Cyndaquil, let's go!" Sam said, grinning as his fire starter materialized.
"Totodile, fight!" called Mellanie.
The two men looked at each other, before releasing a Bellsprout each. Mellanie noticed them both watching her and realised that she was about to be targeted. Sam had also realised it, but it made him grin. If they thought they could trap Totodile, they were very much mistaken. He himself had been beaten by Mellanie's style of countering opponents.
"Bellsprout, Vine Whip"
"Totodile, left, then under, followed by water gun"
Totodile moved as ordered, avoiding the Vine Whip from one Bellsprout, before firing its water gun to knock down the leaves of the other. Before the two men could react, Sam jumped in.
The Fire Mouse Pokémon fired an ember attack that smashed into one of the Bellsprout, with the power of it knocking the Flower Pokémon out. Cyndaquil turned its attack on the other Bellsprout, but it managed to dodge, before being caught by a Bite attack from Totodile. As it tried to throw the Water-type away, Cyndaquil fired again, this time catching it and knocking it out. The two men recalled their Pokémon, before stepping into the recesses of the tower wordlessly. Sam and Mellanie exchanged glances, before heading further up the tower.
They stopped for a short while two floors up, watching the swaying of the inside of the tower, before they climbed up one more. As Sam climbed off the stairs with Mellanie behind him, he realised that the floor he was on was very dark. He was about to call out his Cyndaquil to give some light when he was grabbed from behind. Mellanie screamed, but it was cut off as a hand clamped over her mouth and she was hauled further into the darkness of the tower.
In Petalburg City, Caroline Maple picked up the ringing phone.
"Hello, Petalburg Gym."
"Mum? Its me, May."
"May, its wonderful to hear from you. To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"Have you seen the news? About Pryce?"
"Pryce who dear?"
"Mum, it's the Pokémon Master. He is removing Gym Leaders that do not have any trainees at their gym. Leaders who do nothing but work to defend their badge, ignoring the responsibilities that he demands. Gym Leaders like Dad."
"Don't be ridiculous dear, he can't just remove your father."
"Mum, he can, Pryce, a Johto leader, was thrown out of his gym and forbidden from returning. The same could happen to Dad!"
"May, your father is not going to be removed as a gym leader. He is one of the strongest in Hoenn, there is no way he could be replaced."
"Mum, you don't understand. This man is heartless. He obliterated Misty, and nearly caused her to have her license revoked. Pryce had his career ended because he opposed his removal. Warn Dad, he needs to get some trainees quickly, or he will be replaced."
Caroline put the phone down, not believing the danger. She looked out the window, to see a large red dragon flying towards the gym. Assuming it was a trainer to challenge her husband, she started to cook lunch for after the battle.
Charizard flew through the air, before descending to outside the Petalburg Gym. Ash slid off his back, landing on his feet just outside before recalling the Flame Pokémon. It had been a long time since he had stood here.
He knew that the gym before him would not live up to the standards that he demanded, and knew that he would have to remove the Maple family.
The Ash of some years ago would have been shocked at such a callous act, but the new Ash merely took it in his stride.
Over his seven year absence he had hardened significantly towards people. The Hoenn Gyms were potentially the toughest, yet more than one of them would fail his review because they did not fulfil the criteria. He had reviewed each Gym in his month at Indigo Plateau, and he knew which ones would not match up.
Ash strode up to the door of the Petalburg Gym and swung it open. Inside was Normal Maple, having a practice match with his son, Max. Ash stepped in, to watch, as Norman's Slaking overpowered the Raticate that the youngest Maple was using. Recalling his beaten Pokémon, Max thanked his father, before heading into the house. Norman recalled Slaking, and was about to follow when a voice stopped him.
"Gym Leader Norman. You should know why I am here."
Spinning around, Norman saw Ash standing in his gym. His eyes widened in surprise, before he thought back to the inauguration speech some weeks ago. As realization hit him, he nodded.
"A review. I think you will find that my gym record speaks for itself."
"In that you are correct. However, there are two aspects to my review. Your battling record, and your contribution to teaching new trainers. You are an admirable battler, but you do not teach."
"Yet with my battling record, surely you could accept that I could change? I have two children and have taught both of them. One is now a powerful trainer, the other an admirable coordinator, even if she is taking a break."
"Your battling is not exceptional. You are not irreplaceable."
"You will not find a trainer stronger than me."
As soon as the words left Norman's mouth, he knew he had made a mistake. The change in the posture of the Pokémon Master was enough to warn him.
"Nobody stronger than you? Beat me in a 2 on 1 battle, and perhaps I'll believe you."
Norman gulped. He may not keep up with all the news, leading a particularly busy life, but he did know that he didn't stand a chance against this man. He didn't know about Pryce's removal, but he had realised that his job might genuinely be on the line. However, if he backed out, he knew that he would almost certainly be removed, and so he took his place in the gym leader box, before throwing out two Pokéball's.
"Slaking, Vigoroth, battle stance."
The two normal types appeared, one lying on its side, the other dancing around like mad. Ash wordlessly threw a Pokéball towards the field, and a large red dragon appeared with a roar. Ash smirked under his hat, deciding to end the battle as quickly as possible.
Before Norman could react, a torrent of flame raced across the field. Both of his Pokémon were caught in the flames, sending them flying to crash into the wall behind him. Norman looked around in shock as his Pokémon were taken out in a single attack. He looked back at the man in front of him who was recalling his Charizard.
"You have three days to empty the house Norman. Your replacement will need it."
"What about my family?"
"Your children have moved out. You and your wife can find somewhere else to live."
With that he strode out of the room, leaving Norman to contemplate the loss of his career and his home.
Violet City Gym Leader Falkner strode into the Pokémon Centre late that evening. He went to the front desk where Nurse Joy was waiting for him, holding a tray containing three Pokéball's. He thanked her, took his Pokémon back and was about to leave when he noticed that she looked worried. Turning back, he asked what was wrong.
"It's these two kids" Nurse Joy said. "They went to visit the Sprout Tower hours ago, and haven't come back. I normally wouldn't worry, but they are young."
Falkner felt a sinking feeling. "Who are they?"
"Mellanie Rigger and Samuel Fernandez. They took a room for the night, but its late, and they aren't back yet and I'm worried about them"
"I'll go and have a look." The Gym Leader promised. "They've probably just got lost."
But even as he said it, he knew that they hadn't. As he left the Pokémon centre he threw a Pokéball, jumping into the air, letting the bird Pokémon catch him on its back.
"Pidgeot, to the Sprout Tower."
As the Bird Pokémon reached the tower, Falkner released his Hoothoot to scout around, before landing on the top. Within a few minutes Hoothoot had returned, cooing into his trainer's ear. Falkner jerked around, to stare at his Pokémon who merely nodded. Falkner threw another Pokéball out, causing his Pidgeotto to appear.
"Pidgeotto, watch the entrance. If anybody leaves, come and get us." The bird nodded before flying away to watch. Falkner then turned to Pidgeot. "On my command, Whirlwind the tower."
Falkner then swung himself off the roof, letting himself drop a short way to a window below, Hoothoot clinging onto his shoulder to slow his descent. As he reached the window, he felt Pidgeot grab him as well, keeping him floating there. Falkner pushed at the window which opened silently, allowing him to land inside. Pidgeot flew away, and Hoothoot remained rooted to his trainer's shoulder. Falkner looked around at the dark insides of the tower, and took another Pokéball in his hand, before stepping forwards deeper inside.
Using Hoothoots ability to see in the dark, Falkner made quick progress through the tower, before he found a door in front of him. He pushed it open, stepping inside and shutting it again behind him. Out cold in front of him, and tied up were 5 young trainers, including the two he had been looking for. Before he could do anything to untie them, he heard voices through the door.
"This one's heavy"
"We should drug them after we take them nearer, give us less distance to walk."
"Yeah. Still, got a good haul tonight."
"6 trainers in one night, fair few Pokémon taken, dream job."
Falkner stepped back into the shadows, tightening his grip on the Pokéball in one hand, pulling another off his belt with the other. As the door opened, two men stepped in, carrying a teenager between them. The two men were both dressed in black clothes, each with a large red R on their chest. Team Rocket grunts, though they hadn't been seen for nearly four years.
As they tossed the boy they'd been carrying into the room, Falkner stepped forward, throwing his Pokéballs. The first Pokémon had a crest of blue feathers from its head, extending down its back, with red chest feathers. The other had three heads, and brown feathers. The two grunts jumped back in surprise, reaching for Pokéballs, but Falkner got there first.
Swellow and Dodrio surged forward, crashing into the trainers and sending them into the wall. Falkner gestured to Swellow who perched herself on the chest of one grunt, glaring at him so he didn't move. Falkner grabbed the front of the shirt of the other grunt, hauling him up with Dodrio rearing behind him.
"How many of you are here?"
The grunt remained silent, causing Dodrio to snap one of its heads forward into the grunts shoulder. There was a scream from the grunt, before his head was snapped up to look at Falkner once again.
"I'm not asking again, how many are you?"
"Go to hell"
Falkner looked him in the eye, before nodding to Dodrio and stepping back. Each head snapped out once, hitting both legs and then the man's other arm. As he screamed in pain, Falkner grabbed the front of his shirt again.
"I warned you" He dropped the man again, next to his team-mate, who still had Swellow on his chest. Falkner looked him in the eye, before asking him the same question. This time answers were more forthcoming.
"There are nine of us, including us two."
"Two downstairs. Anybody that beats them are the ones we want."
"What are you doing?"
"We get the trainers up here, grab them, take their Pokémon and then drug them. They won't be awake for hours. We'll be gone by then."
Falkner rocked back on his heels, thinking about what he'd heard. He then gestured to Swellow whose wing hit the edge of the man's head, knocking him out. The Gym Leader untied the trainers, and used the rope to tie up the two grunts, one of whom was still in absolute agony. He then pulled out his final Pokémon, releasing a Starly. He gave the small bird a note and ordered him to take it to Office Jenny. As Starly vanished through the tower, Falkner sent Hoothoot out to find the remaining Team Rocket members. He knew he didn't have long till they noticed the others hadn't come back, even if they hadn't heard the screams. Within minutes Hoothoot returned once again, and Falkner started to run.
As he neared a room, Hoothoot hooted into his ear. Falkner nodded, and moved towards it, Dodrio and Swellow on his heels. As he reached the door, he threw it open, taking the five Team Rocket members by surprise.
Swellow and Dodrio flew straight into the attack, knocking a Rocket down each. Each bird then grabbed the trainers Pokéball belts, relieving them of the Pokémon that they had, leaving him with three opponents. As they all pulled out Pokéballs, Falkner played his ace. Throwing his head back, he shouted as loudly as he could.
The bird who had kept his ear cocked for that shout ever since his trainer entered the building flapped his wings powerfully. The Whirlwind attack rocked the tower back and forth vastly exaggerating the natural swaying, and causing the Rockets to stumble.
Falkner, ready for the shaking, darted forward, using the rope he had taken from the other trainers to tie hands behind the Rockets back, whilst his birds took their Pokéball's away from them. Only one of the Rockets managed to avoid Falkners Pokémon, and had backed up against a wall. He pulled out his Pokéballs, and threw it, revealing a Raticate.
"Dodrio, Hyper Beam"
Before the Raticate was able to move, all three of the Dodrio's head fired orange beams at the Normal-Type, knocking it out with a single strike. Swellow surged across the room and used her talons to pin the trainer against the wall, as Falkner strode across the room. Falkner tied the final Rocket up, and left his Pokémon to watch them. As he went down the third floor, he found his Pidgeot sat with two more Rockets whom the Bird Pokémon had knocked out. Falkner hauled them up to the top floor to wait for Officer Jenny with the other Rockets.
After the Rockets had been arrested, Falkner put in a call to the Pokémon League. It was picked up by a receptionist, and he asked to be diverted to the Pokémon Master.
Being a Gym-Leader, he was answered a few moments later by 'Champion'. Falkner proceeded to inform his superior of the resurfacing of Team Rocket, expecting to be ordered to keep watching them, potentially to see if they had a cadre based in Violet City. Instead he was bombarded with questions, regarding how they were discovered, their aims, and how many he had captured.
Falkner answered as many as possible, and then confirmed that they were now in Officer Jenny's custody, so could be questioned further there. As the call ended, he returned to the Pokémon Centre to visit the trainers that he had rescued, thinking about the degree of interest that the Pokémon Master was taking in the resurgence of Team Rocket.
He hadn't expected such an immediate response. As he reached the Centre, he pushed his thoughts to the back of his mind and strode through the doors.