"Do what you like with them," Sara told a passing Pidgeot. "But bring me their Pokéballs." The Pidgeot passed the message on through the ranks of wild Pokémon, and when the others reached Sara they found her surrounded by the Rocket's Pokémon and the ground was littered with broken Pokéballs. There was absolutely no sign of the Rockets.
"It's a skill I enjoy," she said, casually dismembering a final Pokéball and letting it drop. "Now they all will have a chance to live free again."
"Where will they all go?" Ash asked.
"Home," said a Graveler. "My family lives up in the mountains. It's time for me to join them there."
"I do not know how to get home," said the Tauros. "I came from another region!"
"I will help them, Sara," Salamence said. "All who need aid, I will help you," he added to the rest of the Pokémon.
"What were they saying?" Dawn asked.
"Salamence will help the Rockets' Pokémon find their way home," Max told her.
"Good luck, my friends," Sara said. The wild Pokémon cheered in support as Salamence took off, the newly freed Pokémon following.
"You all can go home now," the girl continued to the wild Pokémon. "But you have my eternal gratitude."
"It was our pleasure, Friend-to-Pokémon," said the Fearow.
"Just remember, Sara," said a Lapras. "All Pokémon will do anything for the Ones Who Care."
The wild Pokémon left quickly and quietly. The entire valley was quiet—it was as though nature itself knew that something important had transpired that day.
Ash stuck his hands in his pockets. "Hey, Sara…" he said.
Sara looked up at him, and he held out his Pokéballs.
"Set them free, too," he said. "I don't think I want to be anyone's master anymore."
Sara gaped for a moment. Then she slowly reached towards Ash's hands. Her fingers reached for the Pokéballs…
She pushed Ash's fingers closed around them.
"No," she said, smiling. "Keep them, Ash. In your hands, they are free, in a way. You care for them, and they like you. You do not need to force them to fight for you. They do so willingly, and that is what is most important."
"Max, could you help me up?" Sara asked. Max grabbed her by the forearms, lifting her to her feet. She leaned heavily on one leg, but stood.
"Well, it hurts no worse than usual." Sara turned to Rapidash. "Are you ready?" she asked.
"I always am," said the Fire Pokémon, getting to her feet.
Sara swung up onto Rapidash. "It's getting late," she said to Ash and his friends. "You should get moving if you're to reach your destination before it gets too dark."
"If you're ever near a town, send word," Ash said to Max.
"We'll keep in touch," Max agreed.
"Good-bye, all," Kirlia said, waving so that they would understand what she meant.
The two humans and Pokémon turned away, heading downstream.
"Which way's the road?" Dawn asked.
"This way," Brock said, pointing west, back up the slope.
The three friends plus Pikachu headed off into the sunset, each thinking about what events had occurred that day, knowing that it had affected the way they would handle events in the future.
Author's Note: Well, that's it! It even ends with the heroes heading off into the sunset. Please review, and check out my other stories!