14 Check ups all over the region - Part 2
Misty was wandering through Cerulean City with May. Since Norman had been removed from his gym, May and Drew had decided to make their way through Kanto once again, not competing in contests, just enjoying themselves. As they had passed Cerulean City, May had dropped in on Misty, and seeing the state of her friend, had insisted on a day out.
They weren't doing anything in particular, just making sure that Misty had a break from the Gym. Sitting on a bench in a park a few minutes' walk away, Misty leaned back whilst May just sat watching. After a few minutes, May decided to strike up a conversation.
"So will the Gym pass?"
Misty looked across, warily. "I thought this was to make me take a break?" The redhead asked.
"It is, but you're clearly still thinking about it." May countered.
"We should. I dunno what the Pokémon Master will do, but there is little reason for us not to. We have a good record, and the expansion implies dedication to the training, coupled with the fact that my sisters have actually gotten rather good."
"Yeah, what happened there?" May asked. "I thought that they weren't any good at anything, and then a year ago you were willing to leave the Gym to them. Seems a bit odd."
Misty smiled. "It's a long story."
"We're not going anywhere."
"Alright then. It was nearly four years ago...
Misty had been cleaning up the gym at the end of a hard day when she heard a knock on the door. Surprised at the prospect of a late visitor, Misty headed to the door, only to see her three sisters there. Unlocking it, and letting them in, she saw that they all looked upset. Misty made them all cups of tea and waited for the story to pour out. Daisy was the one to eventually tell it.
They had been released by their tour company, as after seven years their popularity was in decline. It was impressive that they had lasted as long as they did, the majority of stars only lasted a few years. However, they had been told politely but firmly that their careers couldn't go any further. As Daisy finished explaining, Misty sighed. Her sisters were once again relying on her to do everything for them whilst they loafed around at home. However, Lily proved her wrong.
"So we were like thinking, we could like become proper Gym Leaders. Like where we actually win battles instead of being crap." The middle of the three sisters suggested. Misty hadn't imagined this, and could only stammer agreement. And over the course of the next few years that is what they did. They trained with Misty, they took her advice in battling and they didn't spend days messing around where they did nothing.
Eventually Misty was willing to let them battle in Gym matches, and they managed to maintain quite a high win rate. When she asked them why they had become so focused, they told her that it was because they needed a career and being Gym Leaders was something that they wanted to do, and could do. Since they could no longer be the 'Sensational Sisters' in the beauty sense, they could be the 'Sensational Sisters' as Gym Leaders. It enabled Misty to focus more on her own training, allowing her to become the trainer that she was.
After Misty finished telling May about her sisters, May was impressed. It seemed that the sisters who had been absolutely useless had finally made something of themselves. It had made Cerulean into one of the hardest Gyms to tackle in Kanto, although it had been weakened when Misty finally gave it up to her sisters so she could go on a journey to train even more. The two friends continued chatting until Misty suddenly spotted something. A Charizard was flying across the city, before descending to land just outside of the Cerulean Gym. Pointed it out to May before standing up and heading for the gym herself.
Ash recalled his Charizard and stepped inside the Cerulean Gym. It had barely changed since his first visit, except for the construction area at the back. As he walked through he was greeted by a receptionist, who told him that the Waterflower sisters were currently battling, but he was welcome to have a look around. Ash nodded to her, and walked through, noticing the area set aside for training, and the battlefield.
He watched the battle going on, where Daisy thrashed the challenger, and nodded to himself. Returning to the front desk, he handed the receptionist a piece of paper confirming that the Cerulean Gym had passed and stepped back outside. As he reached to release Charizard once again, he saw a red-headed women moving towards him. Misty. Behind her he noticed another person that he recognized. May Maple, another of his travelling companions. Releasing Charizard he climbed onto the dragon's back as Misty arrived.
"Champion', did you make your decision?"
"I did. Your sisters still have a Gym Miss Waterflower."
"So we passed?"
"You sound surprised."
"I didn't think you would be so kind to us"
May had caught up by this time and was stood behind Misty somewhat nervously, whilst looking somewhat angrily at Ash. Misty felt the hostility behind her, as May glared at the man who had taken her father's gym away from him. Looking down at her from his position on Charizard's back, Ash also noticed her fury, but chose not to comment. He was about to fly off when Misty spoke again.
"Why are you doing this? Reviewing all the Gyms, what incentive do you have?"
"It's my job."
"No, you chose to make it your job. The league worked fine before you started interfering."
"And yet my changes are popular. Miss Waterflower, be careful with your words."
May chose this moment to join the conversation. "Not everybody approves of your changes. My father doesn't."
"Miss Maple, your father would never approve simply because I replaced him. If I had not, he might have been far happier. Ask your friends sisters what they think."
"Why did you replace him though? He was one of Hoenn's best leaders." May queried.
"Because he wasn't doing what he was meant to. If he is failing at his job, he cannot continue. I have no sympathy for him."
"Why are you so heartless?"
Ashs head snapped around. "That is an opinion Miss Maple. Usually I wouldn't bother, but I'll make an exception. I simply do not permit emotions to affect my judgement. The removal of your father was not a grudge, or any kind of emotion. I merely found him lacking, and so replaced him."
Before either women could respond, there was a flash of yellow as Pikachu arrived at speed. He jumped up onto Misty's shoulder, and looked at the Charizard. Ash, having already seen the little Pokémon at Misty's interview took it in his stride. Charizard however, wasn't as restrained. He glared at Pikachu with a look of fury in his eye. He, along with the other Pokémon that had stayed, blamed Pikachu for the changes in Ash.
They believed that had Pikachu not left, Ash would never have become as cold as he did. They still loved their trainer, and he loved them, but he wasn't the same. Pikachu was trying to work out what was so familiar about the Charizard in front of him, but was taken aback at the anger he felt coming from the Pokémon. Jumping down from Misty's shoulder, he approached the dragon.
"Pika, Pikachu" (Is there a problem?)
Even in his anger, Charizard felt a stab of surprise. Pikachu didn't recognize him or Ash. That more than anything was enough to anger him further; the Pokémon that broke his Masters heart didn't even recognize him. Staring at the rodent, Charizard merely growled, not deigning to reply with words.
"Pika, pika, Pikachu, pika" (Why are you so angry? You look familiar, Do I know you from somewhere?)
Charizard didn't bother to respond, but merely spread his wings for flight. Ash who had watched the entire exchange patted his Pokémons neck, causing it to take off in a rush, the wind causing Misty and May to stagger whilst Pikachu was knocked back. The door to the gym opened behind them, causing all three to turn around. Gary Oak was stood there scratching his head.
"Blastoise recognized that Charizard. He seemed tense. He is usually only like that with Pokémon that have beaten him when he thought they shouldn't. I wonder why..."
Pikachu looked back into the sky after the dragon. He wondered why both he and Blastoise could recognize the Pokémon, and why it hated him. There was something about the trainer as well. The little electric-type slunk back into the Gym, already mulling over any possibilities. Charizard weren't exactly the most common Pokémon around, so it shouldn't be hard to work out which of the few that he could know of were the Pokémon of the Pokémon Master.
Alakazam teleported once again. Appearing alongside him was Ninetales and Beautifly, the scouts of Ash's team. They had teleported deep into Viridian Forest, where few trainers ever went, simply because the Pokémon there were far more powerful than elsewhere. The three Pokémon recognised the area, simply because they had trained there with Ash. The stronger Pokémon were a challenge to him, a challenge that he and his team had relished. This time however, they weren't looking for a fight.
Alakazam adopted a meditation position, letting his mind wander out to try and detect any disturbances among the local Pokémon. Ninetales darted out, her speed enabling her to cover a large distance inside the forest. Every few hundred meters she would stop and sniff, trying to detect any human scents. Her strong sense of smell meant that if humans had passed inside the last few days, she should be able to find them. Beautifly flew up, and started to flutter to various trees as if she was looking for something. Eventually she settled down in a nook of a tree, near to the Pidgeot that was there, and started to ask if the birds flock had seen anything. Anybody watching would have been stunned at the little butterfly's bravery, but Beautifly knew this particular Pidgeot.
It was an old friend of Ashs, having been the second Pokémon he ever caught. When he was training he had returned to the forest to see his old friend. Pidgeot had chosen not to come and re-join Ash, but remained as the guardian of Viridian Forest. Beautifly knew this, and chose to make the most of the connection. If there was a Team Rocket base nearby, Pidgeot would know. In fact, after seven years of training and travelling, they had these connections with Pokémon in almost every area around the world. It made searching for something far easier for Ash's Pokémon.
Pidgeot turned, and greeted Beautifly. After a quick discussion, Beautifly floated back down to Alakazam. Ninetales darted back in, and the three Pokémon had a quick conference. Deciding that there was nothing here, Alakazam crossed his spoons once again, and they teleported out. Total elapsed time, seven minutes since arriving. The Pokémon would work for most of the week, and they could cover the entirety of Kanto. If there was a Rocket base anywhere, they would find it, it's what they trained for.
Ash was sat down on the top of one of the tallest skyscrapers in Celadon City. Just like his psychic Pokémon did with their minds, as he meditated he cast his aura out. He knew that Team Rocket had originally had a front based in Celadon, and he wanted to make sure that they hadn't set up there again. He thought it unlikely, but wanted to make sure. As he cast his mind out he realised that the city had developed a very run-down area on the outskirts. Looking over towards it, he realised that if Team Rocket wanted to find recruits, they would look there. Gesturing to Charizard who was resting behind him, Ash climbed onto his Pokémon's back once again and flew over to the slums.
As he got close to the ground, Ash just slid of Charizards back, returning the Pokémon as he dropped the last ten feet. He landed on the edge of the slum, before striding in. As he reached what passed for an open area, he stepped over to a small street stand. In the process of a short conversation with the owner, Ash determined that the reason for the area being so run down. Gym Leaders were the closest thing that many cities had to Mayors, and the fact that money had been withdrawn from infrastructure projects had caused many people to lose their jobs. The person who had withdrawn it; Erika.
She had apparently taken money away from the project to expand the sewer network over the entire city to turn it towards making the upper class districts look prettier, the biggest cost being flowers. Ash took a small piece of paper from his pocket, and wrote a message on it. He released Charizard stowing the Pokéball into a pocket hidden inside his jacket, instead of his belt, before passing him the message, and muttering a command in his ear. Charizard flew into the sky, heading straight for the Celadon Gym. Ash turned back to the stall owner, thanked him, and gave him some money for his time. The owner thanked him, not realising who he had talked to.
Striding through the rest of the district, Ash was still watching for a sign of Team Rocket. After a while, he found a run-down building, which made him suspicious. It seemed to go back some way, as if there was something being run in the back as well as the front. Stepping through the door, he found two men sat behind a desk. Aware of the lack of Pokéballs at his waist, Ash went up to the desk and waited. One of the men gave him a quick appraisal as he approached. Ash looked intimidating, with his cloak over his shoulders, but not quite disguising his athletes physique, the lack of emotion on his face and the hat covering his eyes, the man clearly didn't want to mess with him.
"What do you want?" the man behind the desk asked.
"I'm looking for a job." Ash said.
"That's what we do here." The man responded with a small grin, relaxing slightly. "What kind of job?"
Ash felt a flash of triumph as his instinct was right. Leaning confidentially across the desk, he continued. "I'm fed up of being exploited if you know what I mean. I'm looking for something different and I hear you know the right people"
The man leaned back, before giving Ash a more detailed look particularly noting the lack of Pokéballs. He looked across at his partner who nodded back. Standing up, the man gestured for Ash to follow him through to the back. As they got there, the man locked the door behind them and flicked a light on. They were in a large room with lockers along the wall on one side and shelves along the other, and an open space in the middle as if for exercise. At the back was a group of beds.
Ash took it all in quickly turning his attention to directly in front of him. There was a semi-circle of five men facing him, each of them holding a pair of Pokéballs. Each of them had a large red R splashed across their chest. Ash turned to face the man who had brought him through.
"These men saw you when you came in and approve. They would like to extend an offer to you to join Team Rocket. You'll be given Pokémon, taught different skills and be a vital part of the team." the man told him.
Ash didn't say anything. He turned back to the five Rockets in front of him, evaluating them. They looked confident, but not excessively, they were wary, knowing that this was the most vulnerable point of the operation. Ash turned back to the man who had brought him through, opened his mouth and said one word.
As the Rockets registered he had spoken, Ash was already gone, his aura making him move quicker than they could follow. Three Rockets were down before any of them even moved, but the other started to release their Pokémon on instinct. Only one of them made it, the other was sent skidding across the floor by a blow to his chest. As Ash arced back to hit the last one, a force hit him, taking him by surprise and stopping him.
There was a Drowzee stood in front of him with a Raticate next to him. The Drowzee had just used Psychic and looked surprised that it hadn't done more to his target. The man who had brought him through threw his own two Pokéballs, releasing an Arbok and a Golem. Ash stopped, watching the two men who seemed a lot more confident now that they had Pokémon with them. The Rocket stepped forward.
"Give up. You won't get away from us now, you've got no Pokémon."
Ash just looked at him and dropped to the floor. Behind him the garage door disintegrated and a huge plume of flame shot across the room, hitting all four of the Pokémon. As it stopped, Ash's two opponents stared in disbelief as all of their Pokémon were lying knocked out. Charizard landed behind them, looking pleased with himself as the flame hadn't hit anything but its target.
Ash rose again, stepping forward. He gestured to Charizard who used his wings to knock each of the men out cold, before picking up their Pokéballs and recalling the Rockets Pokémon. Ash then took some rope from one of the lockers along the wall, and tied up the men. He then unlocked the door and stepped back through, grabbed the other man from behind the desk and hauled him into the back with the rest. Quickly tying them up, Ash nodded to Charizard whilst passing him another note.
The Flame Pokémon flew back out through the door, the note clutched in his claw, heading straight for the Police Station. Whilst his Pokémon was gone, Ash began to search the room, working his way through the lockers and shelves. Eventually he found what he was looking for; where they sent recruits. It was a in a remote area beyond Lavender Town, an area filled with canyons. Apparently there was a training base there. As Officer Jenny arrived with a group of police officers to arrest the Rockets that he had discovered, Ash began to plan his assault on the base.