25 Attempt No.2 - Part 1
As the helicopter lifted from the ground, the cloaking device turned on, making it impossible to follow. Giovanni sat facing Agent who looked at ease.
"A problem." Giovanni said tonelessly.
"Not so Sir." Agent replied. "We have lost the base, but the Pokémon Master is a wreck. He was broken when I left him. There are other bases we can use."
"Don't be a fool." Giovanni snapped. "If they could find that base they will soon target the other ones as well."
"Not if we get there first. Move the people out, and you still have a Team Rocket. Rebuilding will be far simpler."
"Do it" came the abrupt order. "Salvage what we can. We will get revenge."
As Agent got up and strode through to a different section of the helicopter, Giovanni looked back down at the receding Goldenrod City.
"How did you find us... Did Mewtwo lead you to us... that Pokémon wouldn't... he hates humans..."
Giovanni started typing furiously on a keyboard in front of him. Immediately a screen turned on in front of him, showing him the remaining camera feeds from the base. He was gambling that by the time the Pokémon League got into the network, he would be long gone. One camera feed drew his attention. It was a room from the ninth floor. There was a defensive ring around the stairs, but it wasn't Rockets.
They were in a large group, with only a few Pokémon watching them. Giovanni was intrigued. What could there be down the stairs that would cause the Pokémon League trainers a worry...
As he contemplated it, the feed suddenly went dead. Typing again, Giovanni tried to bring up a camera feed from elsewhere in the base. There were none. Whatever had hit them had taken out the feeds from the entire base. Giovanni sat back in surprise, unsure what had happened.
He did suspect however, that this would not be the last he saw of the Pokémon League. As the thought crossed his mind, the last communication with his ex-base was sent, as Giovanni armed all the traps that had been put into his office in preparation for a day like this.
"Golduck, Hydro Pump" Misty called. Around her, Pokémon attacks were flying, as her squad drove back the Rockets. As the latest group of Rockets that she was facing started to recall their downed Pokémon whilst backing away from the advancing squad, Misty pulled out a radio, allowing herself to fall to the back of the squad, as Pikachu ran up ahead to fire another attack at the retreating Rockets.
"Lance, there is a large room up ahead, and a lot of Rockets there. The stairs to the next floor down are at the back"
"Understood. I'm having other squads converge there, they'll hit from the sides once you've attacked."
Misty gestured her squad forwards, pulling another two Pokéball's from her belt. She was saving Gyarados for later, whilst her Seaking was recovering from earlier exertions. As they reached the room, she threw out Starmie and Dewgong, As her squad released more Pokémon, the Rockets started throwing out their own Pokémon. Before any attacks could be called, another group of Rockets sprinted up the stairs, and started shouting.
"He's coming!" As they realised that Misty's squad was there, the leader of the Rockets ran towards her. Immediately her Pokémon moved in front of her, charging attacks. The rockets skidded to a halt, before holding their hands up. Golduck looked back at Misty in surprise whilst still charging his attack.
"Look, we'll surrender! Just protect us from him" The leader of the Rocket squad called to Misty who just looked at him in bemusement. As the Rocket took off his Pokéball belt and tossed it to the ground in front of him, Misty looked at Golduck and signaled for him to stand down. The Rocket turned to face the other grunts in the room.
"Guys, we haven't a chance against him. If we surrender we might actually survive this. The boss is gone, surrender."
The radio at Misty's waist crackled. "Accept it" came Lance's voice. "I'm on my way. Get them to lay their Pokéballs down and group on one side of the room."
"Understood" Misty said into the radio. As Misty's squad started to move among the Rockets, aided by the arrival of three more groups, Misty pulled the man who had encouraged the surrender to one side.
"What are you running from?" she asked the terrified man.
"The prisoner." Misty's eyes widened. "He has escaped. He just appeared, flanked by these Pokémon. Nothing we did even slowed them. He smashed straight through to the boss's office. A few minutes later the Pokémon came straight back out, and attacked anything in sight. We just legged it, nothing we have can stand up to them."
Misty nodded, before gesturing for him to join the rest of the Rockets being rounded up by the Pokémon League trainers. She turned as Lance ran strode into the room, flanked by at least a dozen trainers. As soon as he saw Misty he came up to her.
"Congratulations Miss Waterflower, an impressive round-up. Do you know what caused the surrender?"
"'Champion'". Lance's eyes widened. "He has escaped and is attacking the Rockets."
"Cynthia is down there." Lance said warily. "As is..."
Coming up the stairs at a jog were Cynthia and Steven, leading their squads. Cynthia immediately made a bee-line for Lance and Misty, whilst Steven started shouting to the various squad leaders. Under his commands they began to form a defense at the top of the stairs. As Cynthia reached Lance and Misty she started talking very quickly.
"We have a problem, 'Champion's' Pokémon are on a rampage downstairs, and we didn't have the numbers to stop them. The Rockets are being slaughtered."
"We know Cynthia" Lance sighed. "'Champion' is free, Misty questioned a Rocket who saw him."
"He's free? How?"
"I presume his Pokémon." Misty interjected. "What's it like downstairs?"
"Carnage" Cynthia replied. "We won't be able to get down there, there is virtually nothing left. Mewtwo is down there, he said he would try to find a way to stop some of the Pokémon"
"I hope we can stop him here" said Steven as he joined the discussion, Gary alongside him. The stairs had a ring of Pokémon and their trainers
"Stop him?" Misty asked. "What do you mean by that?"
"Simple." Lance said. "If he attacks us, we will fight straight back."
"You can't do that" Gary argued. "We are here to rescue him, not to fight him!"
Before anybody else could interject, there were screams from downstairs. As the group turned back to the defenders, a large group of figures dressed in black ran up the stairs. From behind them there was a beam of orange light which caught a man in the back, throwing him across the room.
The regional champions hurried to the stairs, looking down into the dust laden air, before sharing a glance and stepping purposefully into the smoke to confront the Pokémon Master. Before Misty could say anything, Pikachu had leaped off her shoulder and darted after them.
The Rocket grunt was amazed he could run so fast. His group of nearly a dozen trainers had in the lower regions of the Rocket headquarters when they were attacked. Every Pokémon that they sent out was sent flying as a large green Pokémon attacked again and again. The Rockets had tried to retreat, but when their Pokémon were down, their attacker had gone for them. Four of his friends were out cold in an instant, and he had run. He was barely a corridor away when he realised that he was the only one left.
Suddenly he was sent skidding across the floor. Looking up in fear, he saw a Sceptile appear in front of him. Cringing with fear, the grunt saw the Sceptile raise its arm, the blade glowing a bright green. The grunt shut his eyes. The blade slashed down, before the grunt was suddenly dragged backwards sharply.
Opening his eyes again, the grunt saw another Pokémon, its tail flicking back and forth. The Sceptile was looking at its arm, which was glowing blue. A look of intense effort crossed the Forest Pokémon's face, before it's arm suddenly stopped glowing. Mewtwo turned and looked at the dazed grunt behind him, before his eyes glowed once again. The grunt vanished, teleported upstairs. Mewtwo turned back to face Sceptile who had a look of absolute fury on his face.
"Sceptile, calm down. There is no need for this." Mewtwo said calmly.
"You traitor." The Forest Pokémon spat. "Ash risked his life for you and you betrayed him."
"What? I respect Ash above all other humans, I would never do such a thing."
"Then why are there other humans here?"
"To rescue Ash!" Mewtwo said, his voice maintaining its calm, despite his rising frustration. "He set me free, I wanted to do the same!"
Sceptile spat at Mewtwo's feet, an action that caused the Psychic Legendary to recoil. "You honestly think that somebody who has the strength to free you from Team Rocket would need freeing himself?"
Mewtwo froze. He suddenly had a small worm of fear work its way into his mind. He had assumed that his help would be needed in freeing Ash; after all, if he was unable to escape alone, what chance would a human have?
But if he didn't need Mewtwo's help in escaping, then why did he not escape? In fact, why did he let himself get captured? Sceptile spat once again, and then began to move past Mewtwo. The Psychic Type blinked, and then used Psychic to stop Sceptile from leaving.
"If he didn't need my help, why is he still here?" Mewtwo hissed.
Sceptile glared at Mewtwo, before firing a Bullet Seed that sent Mewtwo skidding across the floor, breaking the Psychic. "Because, traitor, he was finishing a job he started four years ago to protect you. Giovanni has always run away, yet if he was held for long enough, Giovanni might become lax. He has escaped once again. Because of you."
Sceptile stalked off, as Mewtwo called after him. "If Giovanni is gone, why are you still fighting? These Rockets don't deserve to die for their boss' crimes."
But Mewtwo's words fell on death ears.
Sceptile was gone.
Espeon stood in Giovanni's office, watching her trainer wrapped in Meganium's vines. As they had burst through the door, she has sensed something trigger. Before she could say anything, the frame of the door had sent out arcs of electricity which hit the first thing to step through the door.
For the first time, Espeon was shown the full strength of her trainer. His live eye lit up an electric blue, a colour that shone out from underneath his hat, illuminating the room around him, and the trap hit a shield in front of him. For a moment Espeon at her master's side was frozen in shock and that was all it took.
As Ash exerted his full strength to try to resist the overwhelming power of the shock, his strength, already drained from resisting the effects of the torture for the entire time that he had been subjected to during his captivity, ran out. Ash had never really recovered from restoring so much of Mewtwo's strength, and for a crucial moment he was subjected to the full strength of the cable that was linked to the door, before Espeon broke the cable with Psychic.
The Sun Pokémon then used her attack to rip through the office, destroying the other traps, before she was nearly crushed as Meganium picked up her trainer who had collapsed on the floor.
Espeon watched sadly as Meganium stood under the lights in the office, trying to get energy into her trainer. Charizard stood watch over his trainer with her, refusing to leave Ash's side whilst he was injured. The rest of his Pokémon had waited a short while, but their fury at the treatment of their trainer had caused them to go in search of revenge.
As a result, aside from the three Pokémon stood guard, the rest were hunting down Rocket agents. Espeons anger was tempting her to go join them, but she knew that her place was with her trainer when he recovered. As she looked up at Charizard, she saw the fury in Charizards eyes as the room grew steadily hotter.
Espeon was very glad that Charizard wasn't out hunting Rockets. She had only ever seen his Blaze ability activated once before, another time when Ash was in danger. The raw power had been absolutely terrifying, but at the same time... Espeon noted Meganium seeming to draw more strength from the increased heat and chose not to say anything. She knew that something between Charizard and Ash went back far beyond her knowing either of them.
Movement caused both Charizard and Espeons heads to snap around. Ash was stirring in the vines of Meganium, who gently lay him on the ground before slumping down herself. Tentatively, Espeon reached out with her mind to her trainer.
Ash was there, his body utterly exhausted, but slowly he climbed to his feet. Reaching down, he took Meganium's vine in his hand, and she slowly transferred more energy to him, until he stood straight.
"Where are the others?" Ash asked, his voice hollow and tired sounding.
Espeon, Meganium and Charizard looked at each other nervously. Ash had never sounded this tired. Ever. Whilst cold to humans, his voice always had energy, particularly when directed as his Pokémon.
"Espeon." Ash directed his gaze at the Pokémon. "Where are the others?"
"They... they are taking revenge" The Sun Pokémon said sadly.
"Get them back here. Have Alakazam teleport them."
Espeon nodded, and shut her eyes, whilst Ash turned to face Charizard and Meganium.
"Thank you. We will leave here soon. Giovanni has escaped?" Charizard nodded. "I should have seen the trap coming. Exhaustion has apparently caused me to make mistakes."
Alakazam re-appeared in the room, with the other Pokémon. Ash turned to address them.
"I'm disappointed. Violence is necessary, but excessive violence is deplorable. Your actions were an overreaction. However," and Ash held up a hand before his Pokémon could interrupt. "Your loyalty is comforting. Controlling your anger is not always easy. I know that four years ago, I lost control, so I cannot be angry at you for the same. Now, we must deal with the Pokémon League, and their interruption."
Ash held up the Pokéballs of his Pokémon, and started to recall some of them. By the time he was finished only Charizard, Espeon, Meganium and Alakazam stood in front of him.
He strode out the door, and towards the upper floors of the base, Meganium's vine still in his hand as the Herb Pokémon continued to transfer energy.
Cynthia, Lance and Steven stepped off the stairs and looked around in the darkness. Steven held up a Pokéball.
"Metagross, give us some light"
The Iron Leg Pokémon materialised before using Flash to light up the darkness. As the darkness receded, Lance saw a flash of yellow around the corner, vanishing. Before he could do anything, Metagross moved away, led by Steven. The light showed the devastation of the fighting. When her and Steven had escaped the first time, they hadn't had time to register the damage done. As they looked around, they found the bodies of Rockets lying against walls or sprawled across the floor. Cynthia took one look and then looked away quickly.
Lance took a hard look, whilst Steven looked around. They started moving quickly, but quickly it became apparent that something was very wrong.
"Where are the Pokémon?" Steven asked quietly. "I thought they were on a rampage."
"I don't know..." Cynthia whispered, the look on her face revealing how hard she was finding this.
Before anybody else could say anything, Metagross grunted and moved around a corner. In front of him was a pair of Rockets lying against a wall like so many before, but these two were still conscious. Cynthia quickly ran to them, kneeling next to the two stricken grunts.
"What happened? Where are the Pokémon?" she asked.
"I... I don't... I can't..." one of the grunts muttered, whilst the other one simply recoiled from Cynthia. She stood up again, before turning back to the other champions.
"They are senseless. What happened down here... I don't know..."
"They saw their entire squad get wiped out. The bodies are two corridors down, if you'd care to take a look" a voice spoke into the head of the Champions. "I don't recommend it."
The champions spun to see Mewtwo standing behind them. The legendary stood utterly devoid of emotion, before talking once again.
"Champion has recalled his Pokémon. I spoke to one of them. We should not be here. I can teleport us out if you choose."
"No" came a calm, emotionless statement. Between Mewtwo and Cynthia, Lance and Steven had appeared Ash. Around him were his Pokémon, Meganium still with a vine around his shoulder, whilst Espeon and Alakazam flanked him. Charizard stood at the back of the group, glaring around. The strength of emotion flowing from the Pokémon caused Cynthia, the nearest to step back involuntarily.
"Mewtwo was correct, you should not be here." Ash continued, his voice completely calm, yet managing to sound dangerous. "What you have done is interrupt something beyond what you believed. I was hours away from capturing Giovanni, and completely ending the threat of Team Rocket. Your interruption enabled him to escape again."
The shock of his statement caused Cynthia, Lance and Steven to freeze. They looked long and hard at the Pokémon Master in front of them, and the way that his Pokémon closed around him protectively. Cynthia had seen Alakazam attack Rockets, hitting not just the Pokémon but the trainers as well, yet the Psi Pokémon now stood next to his trainer, not making an aggressive move at all.
"'Champion' your Pokémon ran riot down here." Lance started cautiously. "What happened? Why did they get so mad?"
"Irrelevant." Ash said. "Steven, Lance, I am aware that you are unaware of the role that Cynthia does for me at Indigo. Suffice it to say, she was informed that she would not be required to aid in any activities beyond those requested of her. I made it clear in the last meeting before I came to Goldenrod that this was something she would not be required to help with. Since you are unaware of this, you can be forgiven for your actions in interfering with my work here."
Lance was about to protest at Ash's words, but Steven put a hand on his shoulder.
"Yes Sir" the Hoenn Regional Champion said. "Is there anything else you want us to do?"
"There are trainers upstairs will need to be sorted out. I suggest you deal with them."
"Yes Sir." Steven said, before half-pulling Lance away from the Pokémon Master as he turned back to Cynthia and Mewtwo.
"Cynthia. Go and help Lance and Steven. I will discuss this with you in Indigo."
The Sinnoh-native nodded and left, trying not to make it look like she was fleeing. Soon all that could be heard was the breathing of the Pokémon around Ash as he turned to face Mewtwo. The legendary, for his part, hadn't run, he had just stood facing the Pokémon Master.
"Mewtwo. How many times have I saved you? How many times have I risked my life for you? If it wasn't for me you would still be stuck here. And I find out that, despite knowing I can take care of myself, you decided to go to Cynthia and ruin my plan."
"You saved me, and I thought that this time I could save you. I was trying to help. I didn't expect you to..."
"To have a plan. To actually have a way of taking down the largest criminal organisation ever. I see." Every word delivered with a simple clarity, utterly emotionless.
Mewtwo was supposed to be the most powerful Pokémon in existence. He was confident that he could defeat large and powerful groups of Pokémon, and he knew that the human in front of him only had fourteen, of which only four were even out.
It shouldn't be hard for him. Yet there was something about this human. The way that he had given Mewtwo the strength to escape from Team Rocket, the way that he had survived his captivity, the destruction his Pokémon had caused, and the way that Sceptile had broken out of his Psychic, all gave him pause.
Over the time that Mewtwo had known Ash, he had seen the trainer grow from a naïve kid into a trainer who got things done quickly. From what Cynthia had told him, it had been three weeks from when Ash found out that Team Rocket had reformed, and if he was to be believed, he had nearly wiped the organisation out. This man could do anything. And although it pained him to admit it, Mewtwo feared what could happen to him if he drove this man to anger.
"Ash, the debt I owe you is one that I struggle to repay. I didn't intend to cause problems."