13 Check ups all over the region - Part 1
The Pewter City Gym door swung open with a rumble. Pokémon Master, Ash Ketchum stepped through and looked around. The Gym's battlefield was a standard rock field which he remembered from when he was last there.
He looked up to the ceiling to note that the sprinklers were no longer there, smiling to himself with respect to the first gym battle he had ever fought. He stepped further into the gym, to see the Gym Leader stand up from where he had been sitting at the far end of the field. Forrest stepped forward and started to speak.
"I would normally start this with a challenge, but here I don't think that is wise. Welcome to my Gym 'Champion'."
Ash looked at the leader and nodded, striding to the centre of the field. He stood, did a full turn looking around the field, and then looked back at Forrest.
"I will let you know when I'm finished." Ash then turned and strode through a door at the side of the arena, to look around the gym more, leaving Forrest to sit back down and get his breathing back under control.
Ash stepped into a room which was an exercise room. It was in use by two men, who looked up at Ash and were about to get up before he gestured for them to carry on with what they were doing. He proceeded through the rest of the gym before returning to the main arena. In there he found Forrest battling, and Brock refereeing. He stood and watched Forrest's Onix be defeated by his opponents Wartortle, stepping forward after the challenger had left the Gym.
"Forrest, your Gym passes. The attached Breeder Centre is impressive credit for I believe must go to you Brock Slate. Keep up the good work here, and you'll not here from me very often. Questions?"
"You know about me?" Brock asked.
"You were interviewed by me two months ago for the review of the license of Misty Waterflower."
Brock blinked. He hadn't realised that he would be remembered so clearly by the Pokémon Master.
"Do I need to improve on anything?" Forrest enquired.
"Nothing yet. Once the review is complete, I will send out further instructions."
"Nothing else. Thank you 'Champion'."
Ash nodded and strode out of the Gym, released Charizard and flew into the sky, heading straight for Cerulean City.
"Hey! Hey you! I challenge you to a Pokémon battle!"
James opened his eyes, to see a man stood in front of him. The man was wearing flamboyant clothes, a bright yellow shirt with an orange pattern, and electric blue trousers. He had a Pokéball in his hand, and was glaring at James. James looked to his side and saw Meowth lying there, asleep.
"Oi! Are you gonna battle or not?"
James turned back to the man in front of him, before smoothly standing up.
"Where I come from, I usually introduce myself before I fight somebody." James said, whilst smiling civilly at the man in front of him who was now fuming. "So, shall we try this again? Hello, I'm James Kojiro, may I inquire as to your name?" the purple-haired trainer said, whilst extending his hand.
"I don't care who you are, battle me!" screamed the furious man.
"Very well. Shall we go for a two on two?"
"Make it a double battle kid, I don't have time for long fights"
"Well you did challenge me. I accept. A double battle it is." James reached down and expanded a pair of Pokéballs. "Growlie, Pichu, its battle time."
James' childhood Growlithe appeared in front of him, before turning to lick his face, whilst Pichu hid behind his trainers leg. James smiled down at the small electric type. It had been nearly five years since Pichu had agreed to come with him. James had spent months searching for one, as he wanted to keep one as a mark of respect to the Pokémon that turned him into a trainer. Pichu had trained with Pikachu and had become far stronger.
The two insisted on a spar every time they met. However, despite all this time, Pichu still loved to play games. Pretending to be timid was his favourite, if he was in a battle he would invariably hide behind James leg to lure his opponent into making a mistake. James knew this, and despite trying to change his Pokémon, Pichu carried on. Turning his attention back to his opponent, James raised an eyebrow.
"Going to call out your Pokémon? I thought you were in a hurry."
"Grr. Dugtrio, Marowak fight"
The two Pokémon appeared, and looked menacingly at James' team who were still attached to their trainer. Behind him, James heard Meowth mutter in his sleep, and grinned. He could tell by looking at them that his opponents Pokémon weren't particularly strong, and he wanted to wake Meowth up in the battle. The difference in Pokémon strength gave him some leeway in how he fought, so he turned back to his Pokémon.
"Come on guys, what do you say we wake Meowth up?"
Growlie barked and jumped down to in front of his trainer, whilst Pichu smiled up at James before taking his place.
"Dugtrio, Marowak, combine Earthquakes."
The two ground types started to make the ground shake. James merely smiled calmly before retaliating.
"Pichu, Thunder. Growlie, when you're ready, Dig."
Pichu fired a huge bolt of electricity into the ground between the two pairs of Pokémon, causing a crack in the ground that absorbed all the power from the dual earthquake. As soon as their side of the field stopped shaking, Growlie dug underground.
"Dugtrio, follow that mutt, Marowak, Bone Club the rat."
The three heads of Dugtrio vanished into the ground, and Marowak started charging at Pichu. As he got closer, the small electric type simply ducked under the club before scampering away to where Meowth sat. Marowak was swinging his club again and again, missing each time. Eventually, Pichu stood right next to Meowth, and Marowak slammed his club down. Pichu just rolled backwards out-of-the-way, and Marowak hit the ground right next to where Meowth stood.
There was a crack, and the ground suddenly fell away, with the Bone Keeper Pokémon falling into a hole that had suddenly appeared. As he fell, Dugtrio chasing Growlie raced into the hole causing the two Pokémon to collide. Meowth had woken up and instinctively grabbed at the side of the hole. Looking up, he saw Growlie and Pichu stood over the hole, grinning with the two Pokémon inside. James, the smirk on his face now very pronounced gave his final order.
"Thunder and Overheat."
As the two Pokémon fired their attacks, there was plume of fire which sparkled with electricity. Pichu and Growlie stepped away as the two Pokémon inside the hole were comprehensibly beaten. Meowth, having only just got out-of-the-way scowled at James.
"What was that for? I was just having a snooze" the Scratch Cat Pokémon asked.
"Sorry Meowth, I couldn't resist." James said whilst grinning. He turned back to his opponent. "I think that wraps this up. Good battle."
The man just glared at him as he recalled his Pokémon, growling "Piss off" at James as he stomped away. Watching him leave, James just raised an eyebrow, with Meowth grinning.
Turning back to his Pokémon, James recalled Growlie and Pichu before gesturing to Meowth that they should go.
James was travelling again, just without Jessie for once. She had gone to Goldenrod City to a store that she was in the process of opening to sell the clothes that she was designing. In the seven years that she had been doing it, she had opened a few shops, but this was going to be by far the biggest, and it was taking up all her time. James had taken the opportunity to wander around Kanto and train his Pokémon a bit more. He had considered challenging the Gym's, but hadn't gotten around to it just yet. As they walked he turned back to Meowth.
"Do you reckon that they'll pass the inspection?"
Meowth thought for a moment, and then answered. "Theys should do. Them twerps had long enough to do what theys needed to." The cat thought for a moment. "Norman went tho'."
"Yeah, but he's hardly the brightest spark is he? He wouldn't of worked like Brock and Misty to protect their Gyms."
Meowth chuckled. "True."
The two continued to chat as they made their way past Mount Moon. Suddenly James' head snapped up, seeing something in the distance. He pointed it out to Meowth who stared for a moment then grimaced. The Charizard that both had seen was heading towards Cerulean, but it was something that they both recognized. It was 'Champions' Charizard, which meant that the Cerulean Gym review was about to begin. The two friends looked at each other before heading towards the city. They owed it to their friend to find out what happens.
Pikachu was bored. Usually he enjoyed staying with Misty when he wasn't in Pallet Town, but she had been so busy recently that he had been forced to entertain himself for long periods of time. He was a powerful Pokémon, and Misty had told him he could go anywhere, so he didn't feel guilty wandering around Cerulean City all day. However, at the moment he was resting on the top of a tall building, having climbed up earlier. His thoughts started to drift, as they always did when he was bored, back to his first trainer, his best friend.
Ash Ketchum. Pikachu still felt the guilt of leaving. Seven years on, and it still hadn't faded. He thought at the time he was doing the right thing. Ash had pushed his Pokémon harder than ever before, and Pikachu felt that Ash had stopped caring about them. He saw them only as the means to achieve his aims.
Over the years Pikachu had started to question that view. When he thought back, Ash had never actually shown any cruelty to his Pokémon. Pikachu knew that Ash had become more distant, but the intense training hadn't exactly been good towards time to sit down and relax together. Coupled with the other Pokémon leaving, those that couldn't endure the training and Ash would have been under huge strain. It was the time that Pikachu should have stood by him, but Pikachu had left.
At the time it felt like his friend was becoming somebody colder, somebody Pikachu didn't feel was the same. The Ash Ketchum he had once loved was disappearing, which is why he told Meowth that Ash was dead. Pikachu wondered what had happened to Ash. After all the years he could have been anybody. He remembered the day he left with the rest of the Pokémon. He wanted to return to Pallet, knowing that if Ash ever came home, it would be the Ash he wanted. None of the others wanted to.
They were angry that Pikachu had forced Ash's hand, and made them make the decision. They had all headed off into the wild, leaving Pikachu to do the journey alone. As the memories flowed, tears fell down Pikachu's cheeks. He wanted to be able to go back to how it had been, but couldn't.
To distract himself, Pikachu looked out over the city. In the distance he saw a Charizard winging its way across the city. Watching it fly, Pikachu felt that he knew it from somewhere, but he couldn't place it. As he watched, the dragon started to descend, with a particular building looking like its destination. The Cerulean Gym. Deciding to head back towards the Gym to try to get another look at the Pokémon, Pikachu headed down from his building, before starting to run towards the Cerulean Gym.
As he ran he thought about his fitness. Since he came back, he had continued with the planned endurance training. He was still as physically fit as he could be, and quicker than a little Pikachu had any right to be. Thinking about the Charizard, Pikachu gritted his teeth with determination and accelerated, whilst still dodging pedestrians as much as possible.
Cynthia was sat in her office once again. She had spent nearly two months working without actually managing to complete her primary role. She had intended to spend only a few weeks putting together the group of trainers who would be taught under her, but two months on, she was now struggling to find time. Each of the gyms across the four regions had started to send her names to observe, and she was becoming more and more burdened with the work. The fact that she wasn't able to leave Indigo for long further restricted her.
However, she had finally found the alternative, and was in the process of organising the first of a series of training camps. They would last for a week, and trainers from a particular region would be invited. She had decided that the first region would be Johto, and so had already contacted Professor Rose to get a list of top trainers. In addition she had consulted the Pokémon Leagues computer, and found some more trainers who she could use.
As she worked, she began to think about what she thought of the Pokémon Master. 'Champion' was an intriguing man she felt, but there was something off about him she felt. The way that his office doors opened and shut by themselves was the most obvious thing, but there was more. There just seemed to be too many things about him that were kept secret, things that he had buried and she couldn't reach.
Cynthia had prided herself on her research before she became Pokémon Master herself, and she wanted to try to work out some of the mysteries around her boss. She also decided to keep it quiet, because she suspected he would not want her digging around in his mysteries. She had made a list of all the things that she had either seen him do or heard of him doing that didn't make sense, such as the way doors seemed to always open themselves around him, and the way that he healed Golduck.
She thought to the meeting when he had offered her a job, and she thought of something else. His eyes had been very strange then, one glowing electric blue, the other dark and lifeless. In all her years of research she had never heard of anything like that. Cynthia sighed. This was the real reason she hadn't made as much progress on the teaching front as she liked. She was distracted trying to work out mysteries.
The eyes though, was something she could investigate. It was clear that 'Champion' had spent time away from civilisation, for him to become so powerful without anybody knowing. As a result, it was very possible that he had found something that caused it. If so, it would be potentially possible to find a point in history where something similar had happened, and use it to suggest what had happened to 'Champion'. But even then it would be useful to have a place to start.
She tried to think back to her research, some of it having been ignored for a while, before she realised that she hadn't actually touched her keyboard for nearly five minutes. Cynthia groaned and forced herself to focus on her work once again, highlighting trainers that she could invite. She wanted thirty of the best for the first week, and had chosen all but two. The last few were proving problematic, but she had ideas. Sighing once again, she went back to her lists, to track down the last two trainers she wanted.