27 Doubts - Part 1
The TV came to life, showing an image of a reporter stood in front of Indigo Stadium, the camera tilted up to get as much as the stadium as possible whilst
"Good morning. For the first time since he took his title, the Pokémon Master, 'Champion' has announced that he will be holding a press conference. This comes amid rumours that Cynthia Shirona, the previous Pokémon Master, who had been working as a trainer's instructor, has been removed from her role. Miss Shirona, who remains the Sinnoh Regional Champion, has not commented on the rumours, but her return to Sinnoh from Indigo suggests that there is some weight to them."
The reporter turned slightly, before looking straight back into the camera.
"We will show you the conference live in just a moment, as it is about to begin."
The scene changed, from outside Indigo to inside the stadium itself. Stood facing towards the reporters was 'Champion', his body-language as neutral as ever. The conference was being broadcast around the world such was the hype behind it. In the Cerulean Gym, Daisy, Violet, Lily, Dawn, Misty, Gary, Brock, and Tracy were all sat around the TV watching.
"Good morning" came the voice of 'Champion' easily picked up by the cameras. "I will start with discussing the rumours regarding Miss Shirona's removal. They are true. She had been working at Indigo teaching trainers, but has now departed to take up her responsibilities as Sinnoh Champion once again."
Loud calls echoed from the assembled reporters, shouting questions down at 'Champion', who waited patiently for them to subside until one question became louder than the others.
"The reason for her departure was internal, and as such I am not at a liberty to discuss it." 'Champion' said. "She will remain as Sinnoh Champion until she is beaten in a challenge match, I do not intend to have her forcefully replaced."
More questions came down, although one stood out from the rest. "Does her removal have anything to do with the events in Goldenrod City over the last week?"
'Champion' maintained his composure, despite his internal annoyance. The media were always able to find out things he had hoped that they wouldn't, but this was one of the worse ones.
"Events in Goldenrod?" he asked calmly.
"The alleged assault on a building by the Pokémon League, and the subsequent removal of criminals from said building."
"As I have said previously, I am not at liberty to discuss the reasons for the removal of Miss Shirona, that is her prerogative." 'Champion' said.
"But did these alleged events happen?" the same man called down once again.
"In Goldenrod City, in that particular building, there was a small criminal fraternity. Miss Shirona dealt with it in the manner she thought best."
"Reports say that nearly two hundred trainers were involved" the reporter continued. "Surely that's excessive to deal with a 'small criminal fraternity'?"
"It depends." 'Champion' replied. "How many trainers would you bring to take me on? Miss Shirona was simply being cautious. As it was, the number of trainers required was vastly overestimated, the criminals were apprehended without trouble."
"Why didn't you lead the operation?" another voice called out.
"I was engaged in other business, although I did take a keen interest in it, and would have been able to intervene should I have felt it necessary."
The reporters fell silent for a moment, before another question was called.
"Miss Shirona was running training camps; do you foresee these being continued?"
"When I have a replacement for her, they will continue, yes." 'Champion' answered. "However, I cannot guarantee when such a replacement will occur be found." As he had answered everything that he knew he had to, 'Champion' continued before any more questions could be asked. "Thank you for coming; that will be all." And he turned and left the stage.
The TV returned to the image of the man outside Indigo Stadium.
"That was Pokémon Master 'Champions' first interview since he won his title, three months ago. A man who has since become famous for his love of privacy, it is expected to be the last for a while. He has confirmed the departure of Miss Cynthia Shirona, the previous Pokémon Master, who was dealt a crushing defeat by 'Champion' in their Championship match. Critics have commented that Miss Shirona's popularity meant that her removal would create a degree of dislike towards 'Champion' although he has thus far proven to be immune to such public disapproval, as shown by his removal of Gym Leaders around the four regions."
Brock turned the TV off, before looking around. From inside the Gym came a call.
"Hello? I'm looking for the Gym Leader, is anybody there?"
The four Waterflower sisters looked at each other, and Misty grinned. "I've got this one." She got up and left the room, followed by Gary. Brock and Dawn looked at each other, before they saw Lily watching them with a raised eyebrow.
"Well like go on after them." She said. "You clearly like want to."
Dawn looked slightly abashed, but Brock was chuckling.
"It's not that what I want to watch Lily." He said. "I'm debating whether I should heal the Pokémon afterwards or not, I think they might be in bad shape." Still chuckling, the Pokémon Doctor got to his feet, before strolling into the battle area, Dawn bouncing along behind him.
Cynthia Shirona stood facing the main administration building on Lily of the Valley Island. It had been over three years since this had been her home; during her term as Pokémon Master she had been based at Indigo, and only returned when she had to. Regardless, inside was a room that remained the office of the Sinnoh Champion.
Cynthia sighed to think of it. She was the Sinnoh Champion, but due to the ban from 'Champion' she couldn't teach, all she could do was simply wait to be beaten.
Something that in her mind couldn't happen soon enough. She knew, without even having to return to it, that she would not enjoy being a battling Champion, it wasn't her style. She would simply wait until a decent challenger came along, and then she suspected she would lose. The thought of it was maddening. She had never wanted this for her life.
Still subdued, Cynthia walked into the building, going straight into the lift up to the office, and sitting down behind her desk. She sighed, one last time, before reaching for the phone on her desk.
"Elites, my office." She said into the mouthpiece. "I need to talk to you all."
Within minutes, all four of the Sinnoh Elite Four were sat in front of their 'Champion'. Aaron, the bug Master, his Skorupi riding on his shoulder. Bertha, the ground type trainer, Flint the Fire-type specialist and Lucian, the Psychic trainer.
All sat in front of their 'Champion', having heard of her removal from Indigo, and sympathising with it, despite also welcoming her home after more than three years of managing without their leader.
"I'm back in Sinnoh to stay." Cynthia started. "This, you know. What you will not know is the reason for this. Namely, the reason that 'Champion' had me removed. I feel that you should know, so you can understand why my position is now one of great difficulty for me. But so you can understand, I have been banned from instructing other trainers by the Pokémon Master. This effectively means that all I am able to do with respect to Pokémon is lead the Sinnoh region; I can only fight to retain my title."
Cynthia's words caused a stir amongst her elites; they knew how good a teacher Cynthia was. They had all received instruction from her at some point. To hear that she was now forbidden from doing so was surprising. 'Champion' was throwing away a great asset; there weren't many teachers better than Cynthia.
Or so they thought. What they didn't know was that 'Champion' himself was a good teacher. Cynthia held up a hand to silence them once again, before she continued.
"I understand that you are surprised. This is why you need to know why. It has to do with the whole 'Goldenrod debacle'. In an interview afterwards, he made his opinion very clear. I was removed for two reasons. Firstly, he does not need somebody who does not obey his orders. Although I thought I was doing the right thing, he disagreed, and as such felt that my usefulness was ended. That although harsh, I can understand. He is doing what he feels is right. When I first was recruited, he had discussed this with me, and he had made it very clear that I was not there in an advisory role; I was there in a subordinate role. I had assumed that the circumstances would mitigate this. I was wrong."
Now there was absolute silence from the Elite Four. They had never heard Cynthia admit she was wrong, and not because she was arrogant. She simply was never wrong. She had been the Sinnoh Champion for nine years, and in all that time she had virtually never made a mistake. She was brilliant at her job. When they watched her battle, she had been ruthless, flawless in skill.
When she had delved into the far murkier world of politics, she was able to demonstrate fantastic people skills, able to push them to exactly the right point, until they conceded, but never, ever losing control of the situation. Her admission that she had misjudged the Pokémon Master to this extent was shocking.
"That however is not a good enough reason to ban me from teaching" Cynthia continued. "The ban came from something else. During the events in Goldenrod City, we had some very young trainers with us. In fact, the youngest were a mere ten years old. 'Champion' felt that the assault on the Rocket building was a situation that I should not have brought them into. This is something you can agree with or not, but he does have a point. That was another miscalculation on my part, and it is one that I will pay for. Regardless of your thoughts, with him having explained his opinion, I feel that I must agree. As a result, I will not be working against this ban, I will be accepting it. If I need anything else I will call you once again."
Realising that this was a dismissal, the elite four stood up once again, and headed for the door. However, as they reached it, Flint turned back to Cynthia, and said sadly, "You know Cynthia; it is good to have you back. We don't like the circumstances, but still." And with that, the Elite Four left Cynthia to her thoughts.
The Sinnoh Champion put her head on her desk, and finally let the tears that had been threatening since she got back to Sinnoh fall. She was furious at herself for her actions. As she sat at her desk, a voice spoke into her mind.
"Cynthia. I need something from you."
Pikachu was pacing around in Cerulean City. He was annoyed; he knew something was wrong with the Pokémon Master. The man had a Charizard who looked like he wanted to rip Pikachu to pieces, and Mewtwo clearly knew who 'Champion' was. In the basement of the Team Rocket headquarters, Pikachu had watched 'Champion' and Mewtwo have an argument.
Mewtwo had only been talking into 'Champions' mind, so Pikachu didn't know what he had been saying, but 'Champion' had clearly not been happy with it. The tone of his voice was one that Pikachu wouldn't think any human would dare to take with Mewtwo, yet 'Champion' had shown no fear.
If anything Mewtwo had seemed the hesitant one. Pikachu couldn't understand it. He wanted to know more about the Pokémon Master, yet the man was so mysterious.
Pikachu gave up his pacing and started to wander through the centre of Cerulean City. As frequently happened, his mind wandered back to his old trainer, Ash Ketchum. The day that he had left had been etched into Pikachu's heart, and there were times he regretted it.
Yet he remembered the training, and the way that it had been getting harder, and he remembered how Ash had been pushing his Pokémon harder and harder. Pikachu had wanted to become stronger, but he feared the consequences for the man he loved. Ash may have still cared, but the way that he had left everybody behind worried Pikachu. He knew he trainer needed friends, why else would he have always had them?
When Pikachu had left, he had hoped that Ash would follow. Perhaps even have beaten him back to Pallet Town. Yet Pikachu had never seen him again. And he knew why. The same day that Pikachu had led the Pokémon away from Ash, he tried to lead them to Pallet, and they had refused, leaving him alone. Pikachu had known the pain that Ash had gone through, but still returned home.
As a final tribute to his trainer, Pikachu maintained his fitness at a level far, far above what he really needed. He always enjoyed the irony as he worked out, or ran that he was doing exactly what his trainer had wanted from him. If Ash ever came home, Pikachu intended to be as strong as possible. Despite this training, he had never returned to full time battling.
Pikachu occasionally fought for one of Ash's friends, but never like he did for Ash, involved in almost every fight. And when he fought he never, ever, fought as powerfully as he could. His training regime gave him endurance far beyond most Pokémon, coupled with increasing his strength. Pikachu knew that if he fought at full strength, there wouldn't be many that could stand up to him.
Pikachu was snapped out of his thoughts by something hitting him in the face. Reacting quickly, he grabbed it, and looked down. It was a flyer, to encourage trainers to go compete in the Johto League. That league brought back memories, the first time Ash defeated Gary, as well as the last time Ash had travelled with Misty. Pikachu missed those days, they were simple.
Suddenly something at the bottom of the page caught his attention. 'The winner of the Johto League will be given the chance to battle the Pokémon Master in a full battle.' Pikachu took his page to the edge of the street and sat down with it, thinking. He knew that something was wrong with the Pokémon Master, yet he hadn't found a way to get close to the man. Yet if he was able to get into a battle with him...
Pikachu suddenly had a brilliant idea. He got up and dashed back through the streets of Cerulean, heading straight for the gym.
Misty was by the pool when Pikachu dashed in, holding something in his mouth. Gary was with her, and they were feeding some of the Pokémon. They both turned as Pikachu skidded to a stop beside them, Gary raising his eyebrow at the mouse's antics.
Pikachu ignored him and showed Misty what he had in his mouth. As she took the flyer, Pikachu jumped into her lap, so Misty held it so that the Pokémon could see it as she read. However, once she had skimmed it, Misty looked down at Pikachu.
"Pikachu, why have you brought me this?" Pikachu jabbed his hand at the bottom of the page. Reading it again, Misty looked back down at Pikachu, before showing it to Gary. "I still don't understand Pikachu." Misty continued. "I've already fought him once, and it was destructive. What's changed?"
Pikachu pulled a face. It was at times like this that he really missed Ash; his first trainer was better at understanding him than anybody else.
"Pika, Pikachu, Pika, Pikachu, chu"
Misty looked at Gary, before shrugging. Gary suddenly took out a Pokéball and threw it. Blastoise appeared, with a roar. Pikachu turned to the Shellfish Pokémon and started talking rapidly once again. As Pikachu finished, Blastoise nodded and turned to Gary.
"Toise. Blastoise, blast, blastoise" the Pokémon said to his trainer. Gary listened carefully then turned to Misty.
"Having spent so long with Blastoise, I can sort of understand him when he talks. I think Pikachu thinks you've got stronger since you last faced Champion. Is that right Pikachu?"
"Pika!" said the rodent, whilst nodding.
"How?" Misty asked. "I mean, I'm not saying you're wrong, but I don't think I've improved that much..."
Pikachu rolled his eyes and looked at Blastoise, who nodded and suddenly fired a Hydro Pump across the room at Gyarados. The Atrocious Pokémon was caught unawares, but managed to drop below the attack, before surfacing in front of Blastoise with a roar.
"Gyarados, stand down!" Misty shouted, whilst Gary was berating his starter for the attack.
"Pika!" Pikachu shouted, causing them all to look at him. "Pikachu, Pika". Suddenly Misty realized what Pikachu was saying.
"Oh right. You're saying that the training we did on that day with the Pokémon Master made us stronger. Gyarados wouldn't normally have been able to react quickly enough. Am I right?"
"Pika" the Pokémon said with a smile, relieved to have gotten his point across.
"I don't know Misty..." Gary said a concerned look on his face. "I mean, I have no doubt that you could go far, but only having one type? You're a great trainer, one of the best, but can you win a tournament with only one type of Pokémon? It's possible, and I think you should probably enter more competitions, but a regional league?"
Misty looked down, only to see Pikachu gesturing to himself. "Pikachu? You'll fight?" Pikachu nodded. Misty felt a grin slide across her face. Pikachu was a powerful Pokémon, and with her team, she knew that she could do really well. A thought crossed her mind. "Pikachu, why are you doing this?" The mouse took the flyer from where it had fallen to the floor and pointed at the words Pokémon Master. He then adopted a confused pose. "Because you're confused about him?" Pikachu nodded again. "Alright. Why not? Entering a tournament would be fun." Misty turned to Gary. "You gonna come with me? It won't take long to get the badges if we move quickly; I doubt any of the Gym Leaders can really match me." As Gary nodded, Misty turned and headed deeper inside the gym to tell her sisters.
"Come on Mel!" Sam shouted. "We're nearly there!"
Sam was dragging his friend along the road towards Olivine City. In the aftermath of the training camp they had moved a lot quicker between gyms, having thrashed Morty in the Ecruteak Gym a few days previously. The Gym Leader had been completely stunned against the two youngsters, and they were hoping to pick up their fifth badges against Jasmine. As they reached the gym, Mellanie finally put her foot down.
"No. I am not going a step further until we've had a break. We have been travelling for ten hours today, I want a rest."
Sam turned to see his friend glaring at him. He was about to argue, then saw the look in her eyes, and decided that perhaps she had a point. "Alright, let's go to the Pokémon Center. We'll go to the gym later."
"Tomorrow" Mellanie growled. Sam laughed nervously, holding his hands up in surrender.
The following morning Sam and Mellanie stepped into the gym. They were greeted by a teenage girl, who directed them to the main gym area. Jasmine was stood watching her trainees in front of her. When she saw Sam and Mellanie she smiled and stepped down to meet them.
"Good morning." Jasmine said with a warm smile. "What can I do for you two?"
"We'd like to challenge you for the Mineral badge" Mellanie answered.
Jasmine's smile widened. "I will accept on one condition. You need to defeat one of my trainees first, in a one on one, before you face me. Are you two here together?" Mellanie nodded. "In that case, you may fight in a double battle against Janina, and then against me if you win."
As the two youngsters nodded, Jasmine turned to her trainees. "Janina, you have a battle."
A beautiful teenager strolled out from the group. "Two of them?" she asked. Sam and Mellanie nodded together. "Very well. This should be interesting."
"This double battle between Janina of the Olivine Gym against the pairing of Sam Fernandez and Mellanie Rigger both of New Bark Town" the trainee who was acting as referee announced. "Release your Pokémon."
"Onix, Mawile, come on and battle!" Janina announced, releasing her Pokémon.
"Haunter, I choose you!" shouted Sam.
" Machop, come on out!" Mellanie called, releasing her Pokémon.
"Haunter, Night Shade!" Sam started.
"Machop, Karate Chop!"
"Iron Defense" Janina said calmly.
The two attacks fired into the two Pokémon who simply endured it. "Now, Onix, Take Down, Mawile Iron Head"
Before Machop could back away, Mawile smashed into him, sending him into the air, before Onix crashed through the Fighting type. Mellanie gasped, as Machop skidded back towards her. The Superpower Pokémon slowly got to his feet, clearly in pain.
"Now, Flash Cannon."
Mawile fired a silver beam at Machop, who only just managed to roll out of the way but was caught by the edge of the explosion, skidding across the field. Haunter appeared in front of Mawile, but as it attacked, Onix dived into the way, and took the effects of Hypnosis, falling asleep instead.
Before Haunter could dodge, Mawile spun lightly, and the second jaw on the back bit down on Haunter. Hard. Haunter tried to escape, but Mawile wouldn't let go.
"Machop, Brick Break."
Mawile swung around again, releasing Haunter, before pirouetting away from Machop's attack, and then charged another Flash Cannon to fire at Machop at almost point blank range.
"Machop, grab the jaws"
"Haunter, Shadow Ball."
Before Mawile could finish her attack, Machop managed to grab hold of her second jaw, and clung on with his strength. Haunter then fired a powerful Shadow Ball at the Deceiver Pokémon, which was no longer able to dodge. At the last moment, Machop let go, and rolled away, as the Shadow Ball connected. Before Mawile could recover, Machop closed the distance once again.
"Machop, end it with Cross Chop!" Mellanie called.