We touch down outside the route 22 entrance to the cave network that leads into the Giant Chasm. Jim, Hugh and I sneak inside and prepare for a surprise attack on the two Team Plasma guards within, but are cut short when a third grunt approaches to tell them that they’re being relieved – it’s time for everyone to gather in the crater forest. The third grunt turns out to be our old friend, Rood’s spy. In recognition of the minor service he has performed for us, Hugh refrains from crushing him like a bug, and actually seems almost apologetic. I think he may have finally learned to distinguish between the two factions of Team Plasma; he even expresses a belief that justice for Rood’s group will never be possible as long as the loyalists’ actions continue to tarnish the name of Team Plasma. The agent thanks him for his understanding, and regretfully explains that he must leave us, as he still has more to do.
The cave network is twisted and confusing, but small, and we easily find our way into the Giant Chasm. As we step, blinking, back into the light and feel the still, frigid air on our faces, we see that Cheren was right about the frigate’s destination – the great ship has landed in the middle of the crater forest. Many Team Plasma members are already outside, apparently standing guard near the cave exit. To our surprise, Rood is there as well, standing opposite them with a couple of ex-Plasma grunts. Rood seems to be trying to explain to them that Ghetsis is evil and has no interest in liberating Pokémon at all. That’s… strange. I thought everyone already knew that. Some of the loyalists still believe that their real mission is to free Pokémon from human oppression? I know that many of them have given up the pretence completely; these guys are either lying or deluded. They refuse to believe anything Rood says, denouncing him as a traitor. Hugh calls on Rood and his attendants to fight, asking them why they even have Pokémon with them if not to protect the things they value. “Even if your precious Pokémon get hurt,” he exhorts them, “even if your ideals get damaged, the time to fight is NOW!” Wait- hang on, Hugh, aren’t their ideals the things that they’d be fighting to protect? And aren’t their ideals all about protecting Pokémon? And, for that matter, aren’t their Pokémon the ones they originally stole and are now trying to earn forgiveness from? And- oh, what the hell. At least he’s learned to exercise a little discrimination in his rage-unleashing; there’ll be plenty of time to get him started on philosophy later. His rallying cry seems to have worked, at any rate. Rood and his allies call out their Pokémon and prepare to fight, sending the three of us on ahead to invade the frigate once more while he keeps his former friends occupied. As we leave, he calls out to Hugh, telling him that the Purrloin he’s looking for is likely to be in the hands of the Shadow Triad. His commitment renewed, Hugh charges off towards the ship, Jim and I following cautiously behind.
The entrance to the ship is unguarded, and we quickly gain entrance. Jim and I almost immediately lose track of Hugh, who has begun another rage spree in his search for the Shadow Triad. We find a warp panel that takes us into the lower levels of the ship, and are immediately confronted by another force field, this one controlled by a series of switches protected by a warp panel maze. How the hell does anyone get anything done on this ship? More to the point, who’s designing this stuff? The Pokémon world’s security companies must be staffed entirely by ADHD schizophrenics. Jim and I split up, and manage to fight our way through the handful of Team Plasma guards remaining on the ship to flip the four switches. We meet up again at the deactivated force field and advance. Directly in front of us is the huge machine we saw from the balcony above the last time we were here – the ship’s heart, with Kyurem waiting inside. Zinzolin appears for one final gesture of futility. I convince him that there’s no point in fighting; he can’t beat either of us alone, so he’ll certainly never have a chance against both of us together. He gives us a strange piece of advice, “as long as you are dreaming, the dream will never reveal itself to you,” (either Zinzolin is still my superior in philosophy, or he’s spouting cryptic nonsense in order to confuse us – possibly both) and tells us that, although Kyurem’s prison is indestructible, we can go on to fight Team Plasma’s leader by taking the warp panel to our right. With a resigned shrug, we ready ourselves to take on Ghetsis. We remember the bastard from the original Black and White, and we aren’t about to be caught unawares. Satisfied that our Pokémon are in order, we step onto the panel and find ourselves in a spacious control room at the ship’s prow. Standing at the front, behind a desk packed with complicated-looking control panels, is-
Ah hah! I knew it! Colress was really Ghetsis all along! I- wait, no, that makes no f#$%ing sense. Colress, why don’t you tell us what you’re doing here?
For Colress, all of this is, and has always been, about how Pokémon can become more powerful. N believed that humans suppressed the true strength of Pokémon, and that only separating the world into black and white could ever allow Pokémon to achieve perfection. N, of course, recanted his views after the events of Black and White, proving to Colress’ satisfaction that the way forward was for humans to bring out the true strength of Pokémon, but there was still a question to be answered: was this to be done through hard science or through emotion? When Colress’ old friend Ghetsis asked him to help orchestrate Team Plasma’s new operations in Unova, Colress decided to take advantage of the whole thing to set up an experiment. He designed all of Team Plasma’s new technology for Ghetsis, including the great flying frigate and its Nevermeltice cannon, along with a host of other devices, to try to bring out the power of Team Plasma’s Pokémon (particularly Kyurem). Unlike Zinzolin, he has no particular desire to see human civilisation destroyed, but would consider it a reasonable sacrifice, if that’s what it will take to see the ultimate strength of Pokémon realised at last. Meanwhile, he would encourage trainers like me and Jim to grow, work with our Pokémon, bring out their power through trust and love, and challenge Team Plasma. The Team Plasma loyalists who still worked for Ghetsis made the perfect control group, since they were, almost without exception, appalling trainers with only the barest shreds of empathy. We, it seems, have shown the potential of our approach at almost every turn. Like a good scientist should always be, Colress is as happy to be proven wrong as right. Our conflict with Team Plasma, he thinks, will decide the fate of the relationship between all Pokémon and humanity – Pokémon must always grow towards their true potential, whether the path is through Ghetsis’ cold technology or our empathy. He just has one final experiment to run: one last battle.
While Jim and his Pokémon team engage Colress’ powerful Steel-types in battle, I attempt to take on Colress himself in debate. I admit that I admire his dedication to the basic principles of science – his willingness to put his beliefs on the line and let his worldview be dictated only by hard evidence – but question how he can condone giving such power to a group like Team Plasma, effectively a terrorist organisation. How could his experiment be worth risking our entire civilisation? Colress replies that it was no risk at all. Ghetsis and N’s actions two years ago have revealed that both the justice and the utility of our relationship with all Pokémon are in question, and the nature of that relationship pervades every aspect of our society. If Team Plasma wins, if Pokémon truly can reach their potential more effectively through Ghetsis’ philosophies, then what authority is there left in civilisation? What can we trust is not holding us back? Better to take away everything, let our new relationship with Pokémon be decided from scratch, and to the victor go the spoils. But, I challenge him, how can a contest of brute force be allowed to have such authority? Colress chuckles at that. Surely I know better, he asks. Pokémon become more powerful as they grow, everyone knows that, but that’s hardly all there is to it. As a Pokémon’s physical strength waxes, so do its self-awareness, its understanding of its own powers, its ambition and ability to plan, even its personal charisma. This isn’t about Pokémon becoming better at battles – this, just as N always said, is about Pokémon becoming perfect beings. I concede his point on principle, but remind him that the relationships between all of these factors are still very poorly understood, in spite of recent advances in the field, and that any sweeping conclusions must remain highly contentious, especially in the case of species which do not exhibit Pokémon evolution. I suggest a complete survey of all relevant studies to date, with a thorough examination of the data and a critical review of all current methodological approaches. Colress agrees enthusiastically, and offers to mail me a copy of his research notes and a detailed bibliography. There’s totally a PhD thesis in this for me. At this point, we are interrupted by a deafening metallic clang as Colress’ Magnezone crashes to the floor. Colress claps his hands together excitedly. Jim’s Pokémon, again, have proven far more powerful than his. He congratulates us both on our strength and returns to his control panels. Tapping a few buttons, he casually explains that he is unlocking the warp panel that will lead us to Ghetsis’ office, then sends us off with a jaunty wave.