22 Flashes - Part 2
Meganium spat the last word, which shocked Sharpedo. The Brutal Pokémon had known Meganium for years, and she had never shown this, more ruthless side to her nature. As he processed what he had been told, Meganium turned and started to leave the room.
"Meganium" he called after her. She turned back, a sad smile on her face. "I'm sorry. I didn't know..."
"I know" the Herb Pokémon said. "You couldn't. And you still can't understand. You weren't there."
And she left the room, using her vine to shut the door behind her, leaving Sharpedo to reflect on what he had just heard.
Ash Ketchum was a patient man. Years of solitude had given him that; he never needed to rush for something. When he thought back to how he had been when he was younger, he was embarrassed at how he ran around everywhere. His impulsive nature had rescinded as the years went by, making him far more reserved. When he was young, Ash had felt that by rushing everywhere, he could get more done. He now knew that there was a time to rush things, and a time for patience. Currently, he was in need of every ounce of patience that he possessed. Every time Giovanni called him, Ash remained impassive, not baiting the Rocket leader, but trying to make him feel secure enough to come and gloat in person. He had to act like the captivity was taking its toll. He had already worked out that Giovanni was scared of him, and for that reason, his patience was being tested. His plan relied on Giovanni coming to see his captive, and thus far, that wasn't working. His opponent was very suspicious. Espeon talked to him fairly regularly, but they were short conversations. Otherwise, he had little to do but think. It was no surprise that his patience was being tested to the extent that it was.
After the last communication with Espeon, Ash felt mildly guilty. The Sun Pokémon was struggling, her loyalty being tested to the fullest. Ash knew that his Pokémon hated leaving him alone, and in the hands of Team Rocket would be almost unbearable for them. Espeon's loyalty fell back to the first time he met the Pokémon, when she was still an Eevee. Unbidden the memory started to rise, and Ash let it, thinking that there was little else to do, and a distraction would help.
Three months after he had left home, Ash stood watching his Pokémon rest after their training session. Pikachu had returned to his place by his master's side. Their training had started a couple of weeks earlier, after Ash's Pokémon from around the regions had reached him. Charizard had been the last one to return, after him Ash was sure that there would be no more. He had started training the next day, beginning with a run that left him and his Pokémon utterly exhausted. The area that had found to train in was secluded, a valley with an easily to climb cliff at one end of it. The cliff was where Ash was able to watch his Pokémon from whilst they trained, and where he stood now. He had just finished preparing food, which, whilst he acknowledged wouldn't taste as good as what Brock could make, after a day's hard training, it seemed to suffice for his Pokémon. Looking over the valley, Ash saw something in the distance. He looked down at Pikachu.
"Looks like smoke Pikachu. Wonder what it is." The electric mouse looked up at his trainer, guessing what was coming next. "I'm gonna go take a look. "
"Pika? Pika, Pikachu?"
Ash chuckled, scratching his Pokémon behind the ears. "Nah, don't worry Pikachu. Eat your dinner, you've earned it today."
Scrambling down the cliff again, Ash strode out into his Pokémon, all of them looking up from their food to track him. Ash reached his bag, and picked it up, before turning to face his Pokémon, Pikachu leaping off his shoulder and heading to his own bowl of food, waving as his trainer headed off.
"Guys, I'm going out to check something. Some smoke in the distance. I wanna know what's causing it. Keep eating, I'll be back soonish."
Shouldering his bag, Ash turned and started to jog in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the smoke was further away than Ash had realized. It was after nearly an hour where a tired Ash climbed up a hill, to see a man in front of a forest. There was a Charmeleon stood there, using a Flamethrower on the trees. In front of him were the burnt out husks of several trees, with Charmeleon setting fire to another. The trainer was glaring up at something in the uppermost branches of the tree. He was so focusing so intently on what he was doing that he didn't notice Ash creeping up behind him.
"Stupid Pokémon, thinks it can do that to me..." the man muttered. Following the man's gaze, Ash saw a small brown thing in the tree, and hearing what the man said, it clicked what must be happening. Quickly shrugging his backpack off, Ash raised it before smashing it across the back of the man's head, causing him to pitch forwards with a grunt. Distracted, Charmeleon stopped attacking the tree, and turned to see a teenager charging at him. Ash smashed into the Pokémon, knocking it off of its feet, as it was unprepared for being attacked by a human. Before Charmeleon could recover, Ash had punched him multiple times, before he was dragged off by the trainer, and thrown to the ground.
"Who do fucking you think you are, you little shit?" The man growled, standing over Ash. "Nobody fucking jumps me like that."
Ash's eyes widened as he saw a the man reach into a pocket and pull out a knife. A feral instinct took over, and he lashed out, his knee driving firmly up into the man's groin. The man's eyes widened in pain, and he dropped the knife, falling to the ground in agony. Ash scrambled to his feet, and turned to see Charmeleon diving at him. Luck caused the Flame Pokémon to miss first time, as it had aimed for Ash before he scrambled up. As it turned and fired a Flamethrower attack at his opponent, Ash dropped to the ground, and felt for the Pokéball belt of the trainer he had incapacitated. Not feeling it at his waist, Ash desperately cast his eyes around as Charmeleon stalked closer, unable to use fire attacks due to Ash's proximity to his trainer. Ash suddenly spotted the Pokéball belt lying next to a bag some five meters away. Realizing that he would never make it, Ash started looking around. His eyes fell on the knife at his feet, and he picked it up before throwing it at Charmeleon. The throw was terrible, the blade not even pointing at Charmeleon, but it was enough. The Pokémon distracted for precious seconds, Ash got up and threw himself across to the Pokéball belt, pulling out a Pokéball and using it to recall Charmeleon. Slowly and painfully getting to his feet, Ash looked back up at the tree that was burning merrily at the bottom. In the upper branches was an Eevee, looking absolutely terrified. Ash called for Eevee to jump down to him, but the Evolution Pokémon was too terrified to move. Looking around, Ash realized that the trees around this one had been burnt down, as if Eevee had jumped from tree to tree as each one was burned down. Glaring back at the man who was still immobile on the ground, Ash looked at the tree once again.
There was a fire burning about halfway up, extending no more than a meter up the tree. It was clear that Charmeleon's attempts to burn the tree down had been interrupted before they could get too far. Gritting his teeth at what he was about to do, Ash ran at the tree and started climbing. From above Eevee was watching his progress in disbelief. As Ash reached the fire, he kept going, straight through it, coming out the other side. As he started to move through the flames, Eevee started to move down towards him, climbing into the arms that were held out to her. As soon as he had the Pokémon in his arms, Ash leaped out of the tree, landing on the ground four meters below. As he hit the ground, his legs gave way, allowing the Eevee to spill out of his arms onto the ground. Ash lay in the dirt, with some of his clothes burning from his climb through the fire. Eevee started kicking sand at him, which put out the flames. As the adrenalin wore off, he felt the burns on his skin, groaning in the pain. Suddenly he was lifted off the ground once more, picked up by the throat. The man he had attacked was stood in front of him, a look of pure fury on his face.
"You started the wrong fucking fight, pal" the man growled, murder in his eyes. He reached for the knife he had recovered, holding up to Ash's face, placing the point in front of one of Ashs eyes. "I'm gonna blind you, and then leave you out here to suffer for as fucking long as fucking possible. Nobody fucking attacks me like that, do you ARRGGHH"
As the man screamed in pain, he dropped Ash, who tried to move away but felt very, very tired. The man had collapsed, clutching his groin again, with Eevee stood in front of him, looking fierce. As Ash slowly climbed to his feet, he realized that Eevee had seen what he had done to the man first time, and given him a repeat performance. Moving over to the man, Ash kicked him one last time for good measure, before limping away. He never asked what Eevee had done to invoke such rage, and he was never told. However, from that one event, Eevee felt closeness to the trainer that she had never felt before. So when he limped over the hill, Eevee didn't even think before heading after him, following him back to his camp, where she was captured in a Pokéball, before joining Ash's team. The loyalty she felt from that event had been more than enough to stop her leaving when Ash gave her the option. She had no reason to leave the trainer that had saved her life, and she had never regretted the decision to follow him.
As the memory started to fade, Ash smiled to himself, particularly as he felt the presence of Espeon at the back of his mind. She had been remembering the same thing. The strength he drew from both the mental bond and the loyalty of his Pokémon was more than enough to keep him carrying on, so that the worst abusers of Pokémon, Team Rocket could be finally broken.
As Espeon withdrew from her trainers mind, she thought about the secret she had held since that day. Ash had never asked why she had been stuck in that tree; he had merely thrown himself into first saving her life, and then integrating her into his family of Pokémon. She had become stronger than she ever imagined she could, but she still feared losing the first human to ever show her kindness. The man that had attacked her had been her previous trainer. She had been captured by a poacher weeks earlier, before being sold to the Eric, the man that had abused her. She had stayed with him for nearly a month, before she finally rebelled, in a raid. Eric had been a member of Team Rocket, and had tried to use her to subdue an opponent whilst he was robbing a shop. Her rebellion had caused him to have to recall her, and his Charmeleon had burnt down the entire shop, leaving nothing of use inside it. In a fury, Eric had taken her out into the woods near the town. He released her, and ordered Charmeleon to attack, but she had been too quick. Darting into the forest, she had climbed up a tree. However, she had been seen, and chased through the forest, until there were no trees left to hide in. Eric had burned all the trees around her, and then Charmeleon had trapped her, setting fire to the wood below her. Until Ash saved her. She had never told Ash or any of his Pokémon the abuse she had been subjected to when she was Eric's Pokémon, when beatings and starvation were the least of her troubles when she had been with him.
Reflecting on her trainer, Espeon thought about the years since she had met him. In all the time she had known him, she had never known Ash to show anything but kindness towards Pokémon. And she had never known Ash to show anything to humans. It was when she spent time thinking about him that Espeon realized what Ash had given up in his training. She struggled to be sad for him; she loved her trainer exactly as he was. She knew that if her, or any other Pokémon, were in trouble Ash would stop at nothing to save them. He had come a long way from that boy climbing through flames to save a Pokémon he had never met, but the core of him was the same. He was still the most caring being she had ever met. As she looked out of the window, Espeon felt a trickle of a tear run down her face. All she wanted was to be able to curl up next to Ash, her trainer, her master and her friend. And all she could do was wait, while he suffered in a building that she could watch. She just hoped he knew what it cost her to let it happen.
Cynthia stood on the platform in the main training room of the Indigo training area. Behind her stood Gym leaders from all four regions, whilst at the back of the room were trainers that they had brought with them to help with what they were all doing. With them were the Elite Four from each of the regions. Next to Cynthia stood the Champions of the four Regions. Lance representing Kanto and Johto, Steven from Hoenn. There was no representative from Sinnoh, because Cynthia had never been defeated as the Sinnoh Champion. Technically she was still in place. At the back were the specialists from the camp, along with other trainers that they had asked to be there. All they had been told was that there was a situation that required the presence of powerful trainers, the more the better. It was in effect a call to arms, something that hadn't been seen for a long time. In front of her were the thirty trainers who had been at the training camp. All in all, the concentration of trainer strength in the room was staggering; they were some of the toughest trainers in the world. The last week had been absolute hell for her, with the camp still running whilst she was still trying to organize her response to the capture of the Pokémon Master. Now she was ready.
"Good morning. What you all hear here is completely confidential. Virtually nobody outside of this room knows what I'm about to tell you. That should give you some idea as to the seriousness of this."
Cynthia paused to look around the room. Of all the people in there, only she, James and the other Champions knew the full story of what had happened. Explaining to them was going to be hard, but if Mewtwo was to be believed, she would need every single trainer in the room as well as the Legendary to stand a chance of breaking into the Rocket base.
"As you may know, four years ago Team Rocket stopped their activities. According to sources that have only recently given their information this because they had been attacked and almost destroyed. However, their leader had escaped and started to reform Team Rocket. Their leader is a man known as Giovanni, the ex-Viridian City Gym Leader. He vanished in the immediate aftermath of the attack on his organization. He was successful in reforming Team Rocket, and they are once again conducting their activities. This we have known for four weeks, since a group of Rockets were discovered in Violet City by Falkner."
Pausing again, Cynthia waited for the muttering from throughout the room to die down. The Gym Leaders had known that Team Rocket had resurfaced, but nobody else seemed to. Almost nobody else, Cynthia suddenly noted, with two of the trainers on her camp looking unsurprised. She glanced at Sam and Mellanie, wondering how they knew.
"'Champion' has taken an interest in shutting down Team Rocket once again." Cynthia continued. "He managed to discover the location of the Team Rocket headquarters, and nine days ago he left here to attack the base and try to bring down Giovanni. Since he left there has been no contact from either him or any of his Pokémon. Furthermore, the day after he left, a Pokémon came to visit. This Pokémon is one that is virtually unheard of. He has asked not to be named to any of you. However, he has revealed some information to me and the other regional champions. Until recently, he had been controlled by Team Rocket. He was part of a trap that was laid for 'Champion' when he reached the Rocket headquarters. In the aftermath this Pokémon managed to escape. He came here to talk to me and to reveal what happened."
Cynthia took a deep breath before revealing the blow that would shock the assembled trainers.
"This Pokémon told me that 'Champion' had been captured by Team Rocket."
There was instant uproar. Even the Gym Leaders behind Cynthia were talking now, and there many of the assembled trainers below the platform started shouting up at Cynthia.
"How do you know it's telling the truth?"
"The Pokémon Master would never be captured by a group like Team Rocket!"
"Lies! They could never!"
"You can't just trust any Pokémon that shows up at just shows up and..."
"ENOUGH." Cynthia blinked and turned to where Lance had stepped forward. He had a look of fury on his face as he addressed the assembled trainers. "Do you honestly think that Cynthia has been duped? That this Pokémon has been lying to her? Do you take her for such a fool?" Lance gave the assembled trainers one last glare before turning back to Cynthia. "My apologies Cynthia. Please, continue with your briefing."
Smiling to herself, Cynthia turned back to the trainers. Clearly Lance still had problems with his temper. It was something that she suspected would never change about her colleague. He had certainly questioned Mewtwo about the event very closely when the two met. Between them the three regional champions had developed plan of action for the rescue, with Mewtwo and James contributing substantially.
"As I was saying, 'Champion' has been captured. I have asked you all here for one purpose. I intend to finish what 'Champion' started. We will go to the Team Rocket headquarters and we shall attack it. This is something that the other regional Champions have agreed with. All of you have been asked here to join in. I will not force anybody to join in this endeavor, but if we succeed I believe we will be able to both remove Team Rocket and rescue the Pokémon Master. We will be moving to the location of the Team Rocket base overnight. You have the rest of the day to decide. There will be a briefing later to highlight the strategy."
With that, Cynthia turned and left the platform, Lance and Steven close behind her.
As always, thank you to those of you who have read, and the increasing number who are reviewing. I appreciate both. I'm not surprised many of you guessed that Mewtwo was the asset that Team Rocket had. There wasn't much else it could really be. Mewtwo will feature beyond this particular episode, and there will be a few other legendaries as well making smaller appearances.
Anyway, to answer a few points made in those reviews I have thanked you for...
Darkrai6543: You are both correct and incorrect. At the end of Mewtwo Strikes Back, Mewtwo does indeed erase all the memories of everybody who was there. In that respect, Ash shouldn't know who Mewtwo is. However, I don't know if you have seen the special episode Mewtwo Returns. In that one, Ash, Misty, Brock, Jessie, James and Meowth all meet Mewtwo once again and he does not erase their memories. So, Ash would know Mewtwo. It is a valid point though.
The Shuiro Amaya: The format is something I started doing when I got annoyed at having massively broken up paragraphs. I know its wrong, but its something I just started doing. I'll try to break the habit, it should make it easier to follow.
Thorndsword: You are indeed correct, Ash can very easily simply fire Cynthia. He might be sufficiently grateful from getting rescued to forgive her though?
Noshadowone: Another very good point. Delia is indeed missing Ash, although she has barely featured in the story thus far. Remember though, he has effectively become a completely independent person. It does happen that some people simply leave home and never go back.
MysteryOfOrigin: Ash, arrogant? Aloof and independent is a better way of putting it. I always object to people calling somebody else arrogant when they refuse help simply because they don't need it. I perceive arrogance as the belief that you are better without reason. If you are actually better, your not necessarily being arrogant, you're simply truthful. That is just me though, I know that to most people he probably is arrogant.
WarmasterSamiel: Somebody setting up a fan club is very easy to imagine, but can you honestly see Ash enjoying it?
Bloodshark: No. There will be Mega Evolutions.
Egg Emperor: I meant to answer this one earlier, but forgot... "What benefit is it to a man if he gaineth the world, but loseth his own soul?" Very deep, but an interesting analysis. Ash has lost his human friends yes, but he still has his Pokémon. That might be enough for him.
With the various regional champions, there is a single reason why they haven't been put in yet. With Ash being called Champion, having other characters with the same title would get very, very confusing. However, I feel I should clarify some things. In the Pokémon League, each region has eight Gym Leaders, an elite four and a Champion (Lance being Champion for both Johto and Kanto who also have the same elite four). The direct superior of the regional Champions is the Pokémon Master; Ash. Think of it as a simple hierarchy; Pokémon Master on top, then the regional champions, their elite fours and their Gym Leaders. Under normal circumstances the regional champions would be responsible for the Gym Leaders, but the Pokémon Master is within his rights to intervene as well. Hope this answers any questions you might have had.
As always, please keep reading and shouting your thoughts loud and clear. Well... writing them clearly... you get the idea. Till next time!