This chapter is mostly background info... but, things are starting to roll along, just a little.
Oh yes, and my sports teacher did use that phrase. ^_^;;
Part 11 - Setting Sun
"You're insane," grumbled Jessie, "what's the point of having Mewtwo if we don't give it to the boss?"
"I don't think the boss would appreciate it if Mewtwo KILLED him."
"It only wants to follow me!"
Jessie was about to tell James off for being arrogant but she realised he had a point. Mewtwo was following James so closely it looked like it would crash into him if James slowed down at all.
"Besides," continued James happily, "it can help us steal Pokemon! There's no way other trainers can stand up to Mewtwo!"
Mewtwo stopped dead in its tracks and hissed "Meww", shaking its head vehemently.
"It said it won't," translated Meowth.
"We figured, Meowth," the other two growled.
"Well, what sort of useless Pokemon is it then? We can't use it to get other Pokemon, we can't tell anyone we have it and get famous or rub it in the faces of those jerks at Pokemon Tech, we can't..."
Jessie trailed off as she realised Mewtwo was staring up at her smiling cutely.
"Ehh, forget it," she sighed. "But what do we do if someone sees it?"
Mewtwo winked and in a flash (literally), it was about a tenth of its original size.
"It must know 'minimize' attack," said Meowth, helpfully.
Jessie sighed slightly, not sure what good having Mewtwo would do, but she rarely saw James take a stand on anything much, against her, so she thought she'd better go along with it for a while.
The Hanasea sisters were cleaning up the destroyed arena, with exception of Misty, who, in her words "can't do it, because we have guests, and I have to be a good hostess". This basically meant that Misty sat down with Togepi drinking Jolt and reading a magazine, trying to ignore the the questions of Brock and Ash.
"Since when have you had a Pokedex?"
"Where'd you get a Fearow?"
"The first Pokemon you caught?!"
"I thought Starmie or Goldeen was!"
"That Fearow wasn't a water Pokemon!"
"How come it was so strong?"
"Do you have others?"
"Where'd you get them?"
Misty sighed, she could see she wasn't going to get anywhere with her magazine.
"For your information," she said calmly, "I was Primary Pokemon Master a couple of years ago."
Brock and Ash stared in amazement, jaws dropping.
"Sure," she continued, pleased at the effect her statement had on the other two, "how do you think Cerulean Gym started up? It was the last gym to appear, but it had to come because, otherwise how will anyone appreciate the absolute coolness and power of water Pokemon?"
The other two sweatdropped.
"I started on a Pokemon journey when I was ten, just like you did Ash. I started with a Squirtle and the first Pokemon I caught was a Spearow, when it attacked me."
Ash got a sweatdrop as he remembered his failed attempts, in both getting the Squirtle he wanted, and in capturing the Spearow that had attacked him.
Pikachu smiled up at him and Ash didn't regret a thing.
"Like you, I didn't catch a lot of Pokemon, just ones I wanted, and water Pokemon. But after I started the gym, the Pokemon League decided I should have the second level badge, which meant I'd be battling fairly amateur trainers. So I wasn't allowed to use my strongest Pokemon. I caught two Staryu, evolved one, and caught a Goldeen. I used them, mostly."
"Wow," Ash whispered. He couldn't believe that Misty, who he'd been travelling with and fought with so much, was already what he dreamed to be.
"Then, I decided I wanted a better challenge. It was pretty easy being a gym leader of a second level badge. So I gave the job to my sisters and left, 'cos I wanted to become the High Pokemon Master instead. I took my new Pokemon 'cos I wanted to learn more about them, so I can become a better water Pokemon trainer. Then I met up with you guys..."
"How could you 'give the job to your sisters'?" Ash wanted to know. "They weren't Pokemon Masters, were they?"
"No, but they'd been to Pokemon Tech. They had some experience, so they could handle Pokemon. And it's perfectly legal for a gym leader to hand the position over to members of their family, so long as they're qualified, and so long as it's only temporary."
"That's true," said Brock, "my Dad was a Pokemon Master and started Pewter Gym, then handed the job over to me."
"How could you start a gym if you were only 10 or 11 years old?"
Misty sweatdropped. "Ash, don't you know anything? Do you even know what a Pokemon Master is?"
"Sure I know!... sorta. Well, it's the best trainer, right?"
The other two sighed. "Okay Ash, I guess you should learn about it some time. First place getting in the Pokemon League tournaments is High Pokemon Master, second place getter is Primary Pokemon Master - that's what I was - third place getting is Secondary Pokemon Master. Tournaments are held twice a year and -"
"I know all THIS," snapped Ash, "I've watched the tournaments on TV. The night before I started my Pokemon journey I was watching last November's tournament repeats."
"Yeah, same here!" said Brock, "wasn't that Gengar great?"
"*AHEM*" said Misty, "I was talking."
The other two rolled their eyes.
"Anyway, a Pokemon Master has license to do whatever they want with Pokemon, since they've been proven to have the skill and capability. But High Pokemon Masters can do more than Primary, and Primary more than Secondary... you get the idea. High Pokemon Masters get to join the Pokemon League committee and make decisions about Pokemon related issues..."
"She sounds like a textbook," muttered Ash to Brock, who smiled.
"ASH KETCHUM, you'd better be listening! Do you want me to test you on this?!"
"Now she *really* sounds like a textbook," muttered Ash, then louder: "Yup, this is all very nice, but can I see your other Pokemon now?"
Misty sighed "why do I bother?" She picked up Togepi and said "okay, follow me."
The other two did so.
"Da boss wants to see us," said Meowth, holding a mobile phone.
"See us? In person?"
"No, over the videophone."
"There's one near here."
Team Rocket hadn't been talking much, just wandering aimlessly hoping to find the next city full of great Pokemon to steal.
Mewtwo slipped into James' backpack as the trainers found the videophone.
"Anyone got 40 cents?" asked James, hopefully.
Meowth sweatdropped, "don't you two morons ever plan ahead?"
"Well, do YOU have 40 cents?" snapped Jessie.
"Hey, why don't you ever use that attack you used on Kadabra? The one with all the coins?"
'I hate takin' off my charm,' thought Meowth, but aloud said "I dunno."
"Oh, good reason. Use it now."
Meowth sighed and complied.
"Excellent," smiled James, "a perfect source of income!"
"We'll be rich!" agreed Jessie.
Meowth rolled his eyes while James' backpack hissed with laughter. The coins on the ground would've totalled no more than 50 cents.
"Here's my wining team," said Misty, pushing open a door. Inside the room were about 20 Pokemon. Half the room was a giant tank, presumably because Misty caught a lot of water Pokemon.
"All of these were your winning team?!" Ash choked.
"No, these are all Pokemon I caught but only 6 of them are my winning team. I'll show you them."
Ash and Brock's eyes shone. They loved Pokemon.
"My winning team! Gyarados!"
From the tank, a huge head popped out, scaring Ash and Brock with memories of the last one they'd encountered.
The jellyfish Pokemon also popped its head out of the tank, the 'ruby of the sea' glowing on its forehead.
"Wartortle, my beginning Pokemon!"
The turtle jumped right out of the tank and ran up to Misty.
From the tank, looking small beside Gyarados and Tentacruel, a small seahorse poked its head out and sprayed a blast of ink in the trainers' general direction.
"They're all water Pokemon," muttered Brock.
"No wonder she wasn't High Pokemon Master," agreed Ash, also under his breath.
Misty heard them. "But, against water's weaknesses... Cubone!"
"Pretty cool team," muttered Ash unwillingly.
Misty grinned and winked, abandoning modesty. "Yup, a title winning team!"
"You don't have to rub it in," scowled Ash. "How come you never told us you were a Pokemon Master?"
'Because I knew you'd react like this,' thought Misty, 'and then you wouldn't let me hang out with you 'cos you'd be jealous or something.'
"I dunno... you never asked."
"Well, you wouldn't let me teach you anything about Pokemon! "Let me work it out myself," you said! But you never learnt anything! And you think you're Pokemon Master material! It's a lot tougher than you think Ash, but if I told you I was a Pokemon Master you would've gotten all mad and jealous."
"I'M NOT MAD!"
"Then why are you yelling?"
"And I'm not jealous either!"
Misty looked sceptical.
Brock stepped in. "Okay guys, time out. I'm sure Misty has good reasons for not telling us, and it doesn't really matter anyway, does it?"
"Yeah, but..." Ash couldn't say what he wanted to.
'It hurts,' thought Ash, 'it really hurts that you wouldn't tell me.' Aloud, he said "ehh, nothing."
"Actually," continued Misty, a bit nervously, "I was thinking of signing up for the Pokemon League tournaments this year with you..."
"What?!" squawked Ash.
'I don't want to have to compete with him!' she thought, 'but I can't stop my dreams just for him!'
"You heard me... I want to become High Pokemon Master!"
"But... I've wanted to!"
"Well, the best trainer will win!"
He looked defeated... he'd seen the strength of her Fearow.
"Come on, Misty," said Brock, "that's a bit unfair. You know this has been Ash's dream for a long time. You should let him go in it, and cheer him on."
"Yeah, Misty, this is my tournament! Butt out!"
"What about me?!" she demanded, "I have a dream too! But I could never tell you 'cos I knew you guys'd react like this! This whole journey has been about Ash Ketchum and we're just his lackies or whatever! I'm sick of it! Why can't I ever do what I want?!"
She ran out the room. Ash and Brock stared after her with wide eyes.
"Typical girl," muttered Ash, but Brock gave him a serious look.
Ash sighed. He hadn't ever really thought about Misty's ambitions.
"You three aren't doing very well," snapped the boss. "Get your acts together or get out! I've got people searching for Pokemon that don't evolve, so I want you three to capture me Pokemon that only evolve with stones, like you've been doing. I still need more Pikachu, Shellder and Eevee."
Jessie, James and Meowth nodded.
"Also, more evolution stones. Get as many as possible."
They nodded again.
"That's all for now. Jessie, see me in my office."
"Yes, my office."
"As soon as possible! Don't waste my time with stupid questions!"
The boss' Persian, previously unseen, suddenly jumped in front of the videophone, perhaps knowing how much Meowth hated it.
Meowth sighed but said nothing. The boss noticed.
"Meowth, you want to become top cat again?"
Meowth's head snapped up and his eyes shone. He didn't answer. He didn't need to.
"Fight harder. Get strong. Then I'll have some use for you. I don't need useless Pokemon."
"Yes, sir," whispered Meowth.
"That's all. Jessie, come ASAP. Over."
The screen went black.
Misty lay on her bed and punched her pillow. She wasn't crying - she hardly ever cried - but she was mad. To think she'd been worried about Ash's reaction! She shouldn't care what that insensitive clod thought!
"Misty? Are you okay?"
Ash and Brock stepped tentatively into her room.
"We're sorry about before."
Brock nudged Ash.
"Yeah, we're sorry."
Misty smiled to herself, where her face was hidden in the pillow. They probably thought she was crying. She wasn't that weak.
She sat up with a big, slightly forced smile.
"Of course I'm okay! But, I'm glad you guys found out. It was getting tedious trying to keep that whole thing a secret. And now I can use some of my original team. Now that Team Rocket's got Mewtwo, we have to stay strong!"
"Yeah, and Weezing's stronger than I thought, too."
"It doesn't matter," said Misty, now actually feeling better that her friends had cared enough to feel guilty for disrespecting her dreams. "We've always managed to beat 'em. If we stick together, we'll definately hold them at bay!"
The other two smiled, relieved.
Fight harder? Not that, anything but that! I'd do anything to get into da boss' favour again, but not that! There's only one way I can do this.
"Guys?" I say. "You two head onto Viridian. I've gotta do something in Cerulean first."
"Such as, Meowth?"
What they don't know won't hurt 'em. "Da boss wanted me to pick something up for him. He told me over da mobile. But you two aren't allowed to know about it."
They accepted dat, and we kept walking...
"Hey Ash," said Misty with a slightly mischeivous expression. "We should warm up for the Pokemon League tournament! It's been a while since either of us had a proper Pokemon battle!"
Ash was definately willing. "You and me?"
"Yup. I'll refine my Pokemon team now."
Misty went into her Pokemon storage room and took out Cubone, Fearow and Tentacruel, replacing them with Horsea and Goldeen.
"My sisters can look after Horsea and Goldeen," said Misty, "it'll be good for them to be raised in a centre for water Pokemon."
She fumbled in her bag and brought out another Pokeball. "And now, to really get a load off my mind..." From the ball came Psyduck.
"Psyduck, you can stay here. I'm going on my own Pokemon journey now, with my strongest Pokemon, so I don't really want you any more. It'll be fun staying here, right?"
The duck Pokemon looked up at her blankly. "Psy-yi-yi?"
"Ehh, why do I even bother." Misty left the room and shut the door. "Good riddance."
Brock and Ash grinned, but Ash secretly felt a bit sad. After all, with Psyduck gone, he'd have twice as much work in making sure Misty was totally annoyed. ^_^.
"So, Misty," said Ash, "you've got Staryu, Starmie, Cubone, Fearow and Tentacruel. But you've got room for six Pokemon."
"I think I'm going to try and catch a grass Pokemon. None of the Pokemon I have right now are strong against water Pokemon. Now, Ash, how 'bout a five-on-five?"
"Sounds like a plan!"
"Fine, Misty, if you absolutely have to, but don't you, like, dare mess up this arena again! Your stupid friends wrecked it so if we have to clean up after you again..."
"Gary and James are NOT my friends!"
Rose didn't really care, but she left the gym room, with a sweatdrop. Little sisters can be such a pain, her expression clearly said.
"What five Pokemon are you going to use, Ash?"
Ash took out his Pokeballs and threw them down as he called out their names.
"Pikachu, of course. Bulbasaur! Squirtle! Pidgeotto! Char... charizard..."
"Rizaaaard," growled the fire Pokemon, and Ash cringed.
"Maybe not Charizard."
"It's too bad," said Misty, with real sympathy, "Charizard's your strongest Pokemon. It's strange though, it should obey you by now. You've gotten all the badges and won a lot of battles, so it should respect you."
"Chaar," scoffed Charizard.
"Ehh, forget it," sighed Ash, "I can't risk using Charizard in Pokemon League just yet."
He took out his Pokedex.
"Okay, how do I get Pokemon out of storage?"
Misty pressed a few buttons and the options came up on the screen.
"Krabby, Tauros or Muk... what do you think?"
"Krabby would be good. Water Pokemon are the best, of course."
"Of course," muttered Ash. "But I already have a water Pokemon."
"You know Ash," said Misty, craftily, "a lot of trainers in Pokemon League use rock-type Pokemon."
"It's because normal, poison and flying Pokemon, three of the most common types, are weak against them. But water types are good against rock..."
Ash saw Misty's logic, and selected Krabby on his Pokedex. Then he folded up the electronic encyclopedia and pocketed it.
"Aren't you going to put Charizard into storage?"
"I changed my mind," said Ash, "I trained that Pokemon too long to give up on it now. Maybe I can get it to respect me before Pokemon League."
Ash turned his cap backwards and swung his arm back.
"Bulbasaur, I choose you!"
Misty spun around in her own trademark pose, a Pokeball in one hand.
"Misty calls... Fearow!"
The grass and flying Pokemon faced off.
"Uh... okay, Bulbasaur, tackle attack!"
"Fearow, drill peck!"
Bulbasaur leapt into the air, and Fearow spun in the air until it seemed to be just a gold blur.
A third voice was heard, and Fearow stopped abruptly in mid-attack. Bulbasaur also paused, a mistake when in the process of launching oneself through the air, and crashed down onto the battle platform.
"Bulbaaaa," groaned Bulbasaur, which meant "this better be good."
To everyone's surprise, the owner of the voice showed themselves and they were familiar.
Meowth waved his empty hands non-threateningly, to show he had no hostile intentions.
"What do you want, Meowth?" demanded Ash, slightly suspicious. Earlier, they'd been on Team Rocket's side, but in the past, Team Rocket had been quick to move to the offensive again... when they were all helping Dr. Proctor at a hospital and when they co-operated on the St. Anne were incidents that sprung to mind.
"I gotta talk to Bulbasaur," said Meowth, to everyone's surprise.
"Bulba, bulbasaur, bulba?" (Translation: "What'd I do to deserve this?")
"Pika pi, pi, pika." (Translation: "Ash, I don't trust him.")
Ash nodded, but said "How much harm can talking do?" It was about the first time he'd heard a remotely polite request from Meowth, so he had to assume the cat was serious.
Misty sighed. She'd been itching to use her old Pokemon for a while.
"Fine... Fearow, return."
Bulbasaur jumped from its battle platform to the side of the pool where Meowth waited. They had a conversation, not understood by anyone other than Pikachu.
"Meowwwth, Meowth. Meow, meowth meowth?"
"Bulba, bulba bulbasaur. Bulbasaur, bulba, bulba bulba. Bulbasaur saur. Bulbaaa saur saur!"
"Bulba, bulbasaur. Bulbasaur, bulbasaurrr. Bulba."
(Translation of that:
"Fine, what do you want?"
"Just hear me out. I want to know how you stopped evolving."
"Worried about that..."
"Hard to say. It's not easy, but you just have to want it. Want to stay as you are. It's physical and mental battle!"
"Is there anything else?"
"Different for different Pokemon. Hard for me but I didn't evolve. Try asking Charizard."
"Charizard... I don't think so!"
"Suit yourself. That's all?"
Meowth turned to leave, but Ash yelled "wait! Just a second Meowth!"
Ash thought quickly. He had an advantage here. "I did you a favour by letting you talk to Bulbasaur..."
"Yeah..." said Meowth, warily.
"Return the favour!"
"Tell me why my Charizard won't obey me!"
"What? I don't know that!"
"Ask it then! You speak English and Pokemon language!"
Ash pulled out Charizard's Pokeball. Meowth backed away slightly.
"You don't just ASK a Charizard things like dat!"
Ash didn't seem to be listening. He threw down the Pokeball and the flame Pokemon appeared.
"Go on, Meowth, ask it!"
Meowth nervously cleared his throat and muttered "how'd I get into this one..."
James sat on the grass Viridian was famous for. Jessie had certainly been in the boss' office for a while.
'Why'd he want to see just her?' he wondered. 'I hope, I hope she's not getting fired... or promoted... I mean, that'd be good for her but then what would I do? There'd be no point in staying. Maybe we could both quit... Oh!'
He sat up with a jerk. A thought had suddenly occured to him.
'Oh please, don't let her get fired... please come back.'
There was a saying among members of Team Rocket... written in no rulebooks and never directly said by the boss, but generally accepted nonetheless.
"Nobody leaves Team Rocket except in a box."
Suddenly he felt very sick, and very trapped. Maybe there's no such thing as perfect freedom.
Half an hour later, in Cerulean Gym, Meowth and Charizard were still having a good conversation going. Pikachu chipped in occasionally but mostly stayed out of it.
Ash did want to find out exactly why Charizard disliked him, but he was sure the two Pokemon weren't staying exactly on topic. The two Pokemon sometimes sniggered, sometimes questioned each other, sometimes snapped playfully at each other... it was starting to sound like a friendly chat rather than a simple inquiry.
"Guys, hate to break up this mother's meeting, but -"
"Mother's meeting?! What sort of stupid expression is that?" asked Misty.
"I dunno, my sports teacher used to use it whenever we stood around talking."
"That's a stupid phrase!"
"Don't blame me!"
"Well, you said it!"
"I didn't come up with it!"
"Shut up, both of you," groaned Brock. "What were you about to say, Ash?"
"Huh? Oh yeah, I'm sure you two have talked long enough now."
Ash drew Charizard back into its Pokeball.
"Well, Meowth? What did it say?"
"It said it has da worst problem of setting its wings on fire, 'cos it's so cramped inside its Pokeball..."
"What are you talking about?!"
"Oh, dat's what we were talking about just then. Pokeballs. Did you know that inside -"
"I don't care about that! Just tell me why Charizard won't obey me!"
"Huh? Oh, that. Hmm, lemme see if I can remember."
Ash seethed at the infuriating cat. Meowth decided that he wouldn't push his luck any more and just told.
"It doesn't remember. It doesn't remember anything. It's completely forgotten how you saved it when it was a Charmander, and how you raised it..."
"It... forgot? How could it forget?"
"When Pokemon evolve, dey become completely different Pokemon."
Meowth said this last part with a slight shudder, which only Pikachu and Bulbasaur noticed, having heard the previous conversation.
"But Butterfree was always -"
"Butterfree wasn't as strong. And bugs don't have very big brains."
"Hey, don't insult Butterfree!"
"But now Charizard doesn't like you 'cos you treat it like it's just ya tool and you don't give it any respect. It seems to be real stubborn and strong willed. You must've trained it like that."
"Well, I do try to let my Pokemon have some thoughts of their own."
"And I think I know where Charmander learnt its stubborness from," Misty couldn't resist piping in.
"But Meowth, did you tell him? Did you tell Charizard how we saved it from the Spearow and brought it in from the rain? Did you tell it how we lost it on the Pokemon theme park island and looked for it without a break? Did you tell it?"
"Yeah, I did actually."
"What did it say?"
"I don't think it believed me. You'd hafta prove you were capable of doin' something like that, I think."
Ash nodded, his face serious. Meowth looked at him thoughtfully, thinking of the effects a Pokemon evolving could have on their trainers.
Then the cat realised he was actually being tolerably nice to his enemy, so with his charm flashing slightly, he was gone.
"How does Team Rocket DO that?" asked Misty.
"Masters of a flashy escape," Brock said, unable to resist making a bad pun.
He was hit by Misty for his effort.
Ash looked thoughtful.
The sun was beginning to set. What an... intense... day it'd been.
James should've felt happy. He had the world's rarest Pokemon literally in the palm of his hand. He'd discovered a strength to his favourite Pokemon he'd never realised before. And he'd won a tough battle. But Jessie was still not back.
James turned, hopefully, but it was just Meowth.
"Did you get whatever it was you had to get for the boss?" asked James, not really caring.
"You know, you said you had to get something in Cerulean."
"Oh! Oh yeah, I got it, no sweat. Where's Jess?"
"She's still in the boss' office, presumably..."
"What? She's been in there a long time..."
"I know," muttered James.
"Mew?" asked Mewtwo. It should've been getting to know its new trainer, but they'd been doing nothing but sitting all afternoon waiting for Jessie. Mewtwo assumed the two must have a close relationship, which was strange as they'd seemed to fight a lot before.
'I still have a lot to learn about humans,' it thought.
And then Jessie came back.
"JESSIE WHEREHAVEYOUBEEN?! I was so worried!"
Jessie blinked. She looked a bit shaken, a bit pale, but was otherwise intact.
"Worried? I'm fine..."
James tried to shrug it off. "Eh heh, well, not *that* worried, but, you know, I thought you might've got fired or something..."
Jessie smiled brightly, but her smile looked forced. "You couldn't be more wrong! The boss and I were discussing tactics, and he said ours were good, but we should avoid anywhere where the twerp and his friends are."
"Really? He said our tactics were good?"
"Yup! He's got no intention of firing me at all!"
If that was the case, James couldn't help wondering why Jessie looked so upset. Oh, it was obvious she was trying to seem normal, but he knew her a bit better than she gave him credit.
Sometimes I wish we were friends like we used to be. She doesn't let us talk any more, but I don't feel like it either usually. Now, she doesn't even trust me enough to show her real feelings. Now I have to sort between cover ups and sincerity, based on what I knew about her before.
Oh, Jessie confuses me. She's been a bit distracted lately, and she says it's because we went past the town where she used to live. I think maybe she's scared of her father. But she never talked much about her family. I think she wants to forget the whole thing.
Right now, I'll be very happy to go to sleep. What a day it's been, but a good one. In good job security, a new, fabulous Pokemon... it's as it should be!
The next morning, Ash sat at the Hanasea's breakfast table, reading a newspaper. Brock and Misty ate breakfast alongside him.
Brock spat out his drink and Misty choked on her toast. They both glared at Ash, who was oblivious in his indignition.
"Listen to this, guys! It says in this newspaper that GARY OAK is holding an unofficial competition in training for the Pokemon League, for all trainers who want to get practise battles in."
"Is that legal?" asked Misty.
"Well, I guess it's not an official Pokemon League battle zone, and a trainer has a right to challenge any way they like," suggested Brock.
Ash, however, wasn't listening to this.
"I can't believe that Gary! He thinks he's so great... I bet he thinks he's gonna win all these battles and prove himself a big hot shot! Well let me tell you, there's no way he's the best trainer!"
"Don't let him bother you so much, Ash."
"What sort of stupid competition is it anyway?! I bet he couldn't organise anything decent if his life depended on it! This whole thing is probably just a scheme to get famous! What a pathetic excuse for a Pokemon battle competition! Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
Ash finished his angry speech and ran upstairs. Brock and Misty sighed.
"I take it that means he's going to enter?"