12 Thoughts of revolting - Part 2
Brock was driving towards Pallet Town. He wanted to see Norman and Caroline, to make sure that they were ok. As he drove he reflected that if Ash was still here, he would have probably been there first. It was the only thing that ever distracted him from his training, problems with his friends. The more Brock thought about his friend, the more he missed him. They had been closer than brothers, which was impressive given all the siblings that Brock had. And yet, Ash had vanished.
After Sinnoh he had gone to the very place Brock was heading to now, and then after a mere few days, he had vanished. Brock wondered what had happened to him. Had he died? Brock remembered when Pikachu came back to Pallet. The poor Pokémon had looked exhausted, and had clearly traveled for some time without a trainer.
He looked wild, but had recognised Delia, who had called Professor Oak. Pikachu was taken to a hospital, but refused treatment, until in desperation Gary called Brock. Brock managed to get through to the mouse, and started to help him recover, before persuading Pikachu to allow the doctors to help him. Some time on, when Jessie, James and Meowth quit Team Rocket, Brock had asked Meowth to ask Pikachu what had happened to Ash.
Ash's first Pokémon had told Brock that Ash was dead. Brock hadn't really known what to make of it, and at first had refused to believe it. However, seven years on, without hearing anything from his old friend, he started to think that perhaps Pikachu was right. Brock couldn't believe that he wouldn't have come back once in all that time. But if he hadn't, what would he be like? Every time Brock thought about his old friend it went like this, but he knew that there was a simple piece of logic that made it very hard to believe his friend was still around. Pikachu would never leave Ash if he was alive.
As Brock pulled up in front of the Ketchum residence, his thoughts had made him somewhat melancholy. However, as he stepped inside, being greeted by Delia, and his thoughts started to slip away. Sitting down, he greeted Norman Maple, who was looking thoroughly irritated. After exchanging pleasantries for a few minutes, Norman started explaining an idea of his.
"Brock, you've always been one of the more sensible of the group" the ex-Gym Leader started.
"And yet you're young enough to have the same belief as our kids that things can work out right. So I want your honest opinion on this. If, somehow, somebody managed to replace the Pokémon Master, do you think it would be possible for those who had lost their gyms to get them back? Not just me, but all the other leaders across the regions, including the Pewter Gym if it doesn't make the cut."
Brock was shocked. The suggestion had come straight out of the blue. He turned to Professor Oak who was sat across the room.
"Do you know about this?" Brock demanded.
"Norman did suggest it to me" the researcher conceded. "I confess, I feel for Professor Elm, it is hard being thrown out like that."
"But to replace him, somebody has to beat him! And what makes you think that anybody that strong would be willing to listen to you? Hell, I doubt they exist!"
"But if they did" pressed Norman. "Do you think it is a viable strategy?"
Brock took a deep breath. He knew Norman was reacting to the loss of his Gym and was desperate to try to recover it, but this idea smacked of desperation. It wasn't just that he was trying to replace the most powerful trainer in the world with an even stronger trainer, it was that this new trainer would for some reason undo everything that 'Champion' had done. It didn't help that Brock actually agreed with some of what had been done.
The idea of teaching young trainers being spread down to the Gym Leader level was a good one. He thought the implementation was a bit ruthless, but the principle was good.
He had been trying to persuade Forrest to do it at the Pewter Gym for a long while, and the Gym had slowly started to accept recruits. Brock had tried to increase the drive over the last few weeks, using his name as a Doctor and Breeder to ensure that trainers would want to come. Brock was hopeful that his families Gym would stand up to the inevitable inspection. Turning back to the waiting Norman, Brock decided to make his position very clear.
"Norman, I have a lot of respect for you as a Gym Leader. But I'm guessing that you are only doing this because the legal options are limited and unlikely to work?" The grimace from Norman answered that one for Brock. "Thought so. I don't believe that this is a viable option. To find a trainer who could defeat 'Champion' would be virtually impossible. I can't think of anybody who could even come close. Cynthia had her entire team wiped out by his Charizard. Misty's team was steamrolled by a Sharpedo that can run on land. He would have four more Pokémon with hidden abilities and the same strength of the ones we have seen. Do you honestly believe anybody can defeat him? And even if they did, why would their first be to undo all the work he did? You may not like it, but the idea of the reorganization is popular. People think it's a good idea, to have Gym Leaders available as teachers to trainers. It will improve the overall standard of trainers, which is a good thing. So, in my opinion, it's not workable. I came here to ensure that there is nothing you needed. As I can see that you are perfectly fine, I'm going home. I'm still working to make sure that Forrest can stay as the Pewter City Gym Leader. Goodnight."
Brock stood up and strode to the door, got in his car and drove into the night. Professor Oak stood in the window watching him turn the corner and leave Pallet Town, before facing Norman once more. "So I think he disagrees."
Ash strode into his office at Indigo, before sending summons for Cynthia. She appeared at his door, and took the offered chair. Before he even opened his mouth, she could see that there was something different. He hadn't looked like this before.
"I've just got in from Violet City. Falkner found a cadre of Team Rocket grunts stealing Pokémon. I questioned them, and found the cadre's hideout in a nearby forest. It had nothing about the potential whereabouts of any other part of Team Rocket. Their orders were delivered by Flying Pokémon. The final message was one telling them that their cover was blown so they were abandoned by Team Rocket. I don't know how Team Rocket knew, but they did."
Cynthias brain was only just beginning to catch up. She had been in intense training for her challenge to the World League when Team Rocket vanished. When her challenge had culminated in her becoming Pokémon Master, she had started to consolidate, implementing her own policies. She had never bothered to try and track down any evidence, assuming that they wouldn't ever return. It seemed she had been wrong about that. She turned her attention back to 'Champion' as he continued.
"If you know anything about them, I would be grateful. Trying to track them down again will be hard. If I can get into one of their major bases, I can crack the network, but I have to find them. Furthermore, I want to try to keep this quiet. Falkner did a good job preventing the media from finding out about this attack, but if they start more, it will be hard to keep it quiet for ever. Therefore, this has to be our top priority; protecting the public from the news. Thoughts?"
"I... Well..." Cynthia stuttered, trying to keep up. "I don't know where they might be, but I agree, keep it quiet from the press."
"Good. I need you to go to Violet City and collect the Rockets in prison there. Bring them here."
"I presume overnight?"
"Yes. Whilst I do the review of Kanto, I'll watch for them. I'll also inform the Gym Leaders outside Kanto before I go."
'Champion' stood up, but Cynthia remained seated, still in shock. As he reached the door, he turned back to his frozen subordinate.
"Sorry, but I'm trying to keep up. You're moving too fast for me. I've only just found out about this, and you're rushing through plans."
"I've had the journey from Violet to think about this. If you think that you've got a better plan, please say."
Cynthia thought, but couldn't think quickly. After half a minute, she shook her head, and 'Champion' left the office, leaving her to follow him, which she quickly did.
She returned to her office, before quickly organising a transport helicopter for herself to bring them back. Her Pokémon would struggle to make the journey without a break, and they wouldn't be able to bring back the Rockets. As she stepped out of the building towards the hanger, she realised that the timing was perfect.
She would arrive in the early hours of the morning, and be at Indigo before anybody was able to notice her missing. It just meant she was going to have a very long night. As she reached the hanger she climbed into a helicopter, nodding to the pilot and settling herself down to sleep.
The pilot shook her awake some time later. "Maam, we have landed at the Violet City Police Station. Officer Jenny is here." Cynthia rubbed her eyes and then left the helicopter to greet the law enforcement officer.
"Officer. My congratulations to you and Falkner for a job well done."
"Thank you. You're taking them?"
"Yes. I'll take them back to Indigo where we can watch them."
The two women started to head into the station, but as they entered the door, Jenny turned back to Cynthia, who realizing that something was wrong, gestured to Jenny's office.
"It's when the Pokémon Master was here. Things seemed slightly off."
"In what way?"
"His interviews. He interviewed two of the Rockets, that's it. Furthermore, between the interviews, when I was taking one of them back to his cell, the cell door opened by itself, as did the door of the cell of the next one he wanted. The one who just happened to be the leader of the group."
"The door thing I'm getting used to, and his choice implies he's good at getting information."
"But it's weird, I obviously questioned them myself, and they refused to give me anything. He was here for a grand total of thirty minutes, and he seemed to have everything he needed. That's impossible."
"I appreciate you coming to me with this, but you have to understand that I can't do anything about it. I accept that it's confusing, but trust me; he is good at his job. Just accept that, and keep doing the wonderful job you're doing."
"Ok. And I have to keep this quiet?"
"I'm afraid so. One day I will find out why he can do what he does, but till then, I'm just going to do my job."
"Thanks. So, Rockets this way."
Jenny, feeling somewhat happier, led Cynthia towards the cells at the back of the police station. As they got there, she unlocked the first cell, expecting to have to wake the Rocket up. He was awake, and held his arms out to be cuffed.
Somewhat bemused, Officer Jenny did so, and then opened the next cell, to be given the same treatment. After all nine of the Rockets had been cuffed, they meekly followed Cynthia back to the helicopter where they were restrained to the inside. The pilot took off, and she was headed back for Indigo, still mulling over why the Rockets who had reportedly been aggressive towards Officer Jenny were suddenly so meek.
Ash stepped out into the garden behind his house. His Pokémon all trained by themselves when he was out busy, but when he was home, he always insisted on a tougher regime. They fell in around him as he started his run, keeping pace through the distance.
As he approached the thirty mile mark, they started to look at each other, and by the time he had run for thirty-five miles, increasing the pace all the way, they were getting alarmed. All of his Pokémon as physically fit as it was possible to be, but with Ash enhancing his body with aura, it was possible that they might not be able to keep up forever.
Eventually he started to arc back towards his home, where he started to meditate, leaving the Pokémon to train together. There were mutters among them; they hadn't been pushed this hard for a long time. The last time that their training had been so intense was when Ash had last had a serious problem to mull over. It had been over four years ago, just before they began to track down Team Rocket. That had been one of the hardest times in their journey, as although they were all powerful, Team Rocket was a huge organisation.
Only one Pokémon had stuck with Ash as he fought his way into the heart of the base hidden deep in the mountains; the rest had been fighting off Rocket grunts. Espeon had been his last Pokémon, and neither had spoken of what had happened inside. All the other Pokémon knew was that Team Rocket had been removed.
After only half an hour, Ash stood up once again. The Pokémon stopped training, and assembled in front of him, expecting the reason for his unease to be given. Espeon padded her way to his feet, already knowing what he was about to say.
"Team Rocket have resurfaced. Some of their operatives were discovered in Johto yesterday, but had no idea where any major installation is. Apparently we aren't going to be able to work our way in the same way as last time. However, that doesn't mean that we aren't going to be able to take them down. I need the scout team to head out once again. Check remote areas, search for anything that looks off. If you can find something, come back here and let me know. We will take Team Rocket down once again. And this time, we will get Giovanni. He will not escape me twice."
His Pokémon nodded, and the group that belonged to the scout team stood in front of him. He knelt in front of them. It was a group of three Pokémon, none from his main line-up, and none of his originals. They would be able to cover Kanto inside a week, but would return after that, because they would need rest if they covered that kind of distance. Ash turned to the leader of the group.
"Alakazam, I know this will be exhausting. You will be able to rest when it's done. If you need back-up, call for it."
The Psi Pokémon nodded, and then crossed his spoons, causing the group to Teleport out. Ash then turned back to the rest of the team.
"When we find Team Rocket, we will be facing them again. However, there will be a difference. Last time we were being cautious when we headed in. We have all become far more stronger, and so will move far quicker. We must not let Giovanni escape again. I will be continuing to travel around the regions, but you must train to be ready. Nothing can stand against you. I will return in a week. Charizard; lets go."
Leaving his Pokémon behind once again, Ash leaped high into the air, leaving a comfortable forty yards beneath him. Charizard accelerated forwards, and Ash landed neatly on the dragons back as they headed out towards Pewter City.
Back on the ground, the Pokémon were about to return to their training when they noticed food bowls floating through the air to them. Each one had more food than usual, the message being clear. Train hard, and be ready. Espeon looked into the sky, where Charizard had vanished, praying that her master would be careful. He would surely be a target for Team Rocket if they aim for the Pokémon League.
When Brock reached Pewter City, he called the Cerulean Gym. Misty picked up, looking exhausted.
"Hi Brock, what can I do for you?"
"Just making sure that you're alright for the inspection."
"We've been working harder than ever for this. My sisters have actually shown that they have actually become pretty good Gym Leaders, so all we needed was trainees. My name helped bring some in, and the rest just wanted to be close to the old 'Sensational Sisters' That and Gary's been a huge help. What about you?"
"I think we're ready. Forrest has worked hard, as has the rest of the family. We should be alright."
"Good." Misty noticed that there was something else off about her friend. "Brock, are you alright?"
"What? Yeah, I'm fine." Misty didn't even bother to talk, merely raising an eyebrow at the breeder. "Ok, ok. I've just got back from Pallet."
"How are Norman and Caroline?"
"I didn't see Caroline. Norman however had a scary idea. He thinks he can get his gym back if he orchestrates the fall of the current Pokémon Master, and has a new one in place."
Misty stared at him, causing Brock to chuckle.
"My thoughts are apparently mirrored" Brock said. "I told him that I wasn't interested, but I'm worried Misty. I think Norman might go for it, and there are at least ten unhappy people with authority out there; all the people he's replaced so far. We don't need this instability."
"No we don't. But Brock, what can we do? We're both up to our necks trying to have our families hold onto their gyms, we don't have time for this."
"No, I just wanted to give you some warning, in case he goes for you as well. I can vouch for the fact that it's not fun to have that sprung onto you."
Misty smiled wearily at him. "Thanks Brock. Good luck when he arrives."
"And to you Misty. Goodnight."
Brock ended the call, then went to find Forrest. They toured the gym together making sure that everything was as good as it could be. The trainees that they had managed to pull in were sleeping. Brock was impressed at the numbers they had managed to pull in so quickly. It was this more than anything that made Brock think that the Pokémon Master might be onto something.
There clearly were people who wanted to be taught, just there hadn't really been a system in place to teach them. Now there was, and people were already using it. Brock had been in contact with the majority of Kanto leaders, and was confident that there shouldn't be any more leaders being replaced; they had all managed to use the few extra weeks that they had to get in trainees.
Perhaps Kanto would be fine. After one last look around the Gym, Brock headed for bed. There was nothing else that could be done; it was down to 'Champion' as to whether they had done enough.