Gary pored over the map he had bought in Pewter City. He had just left Pewter, heading east on Route 3. Route 3 ran right into Mt. Moon, and on the other side, Route 4 led to Cerulean City.
"And Cerulean City is where the Water-type Gym is, right?"
"That's right." Ditto, in Gastly form so it could talk to Gary, was hovering several feet off the ground and generally enjoying the open space.
"I'd better work on raising Pikachu."
"This certainly is the place to raise an Electric-type!" All afternoon they had seen nothing but Pidgey and Spearow, both Flying-types and both vulnerable to Pikachu's attacks.
"Are they really the only things here, or is everything else hiding?"
"Actually, there is one other pokémon known to inhabit Route 3, but it's very rare."
"Yeah? Who's that?"
"Oh, yeah, the cream-puff-things with the huge eyes! Kate got one when she went through here." Did he want one? He wasn't sure. Now he knew that you couldn't always count on strength in numbers. Was Jigglypuff worth catching? Gary checked the info on his Pokédex.
Jigglypuff's life was at an amazingly high level, but its other stats were somewhat less than impressive. Jigglypuff's moves were distinctly normal. There were only two that were noticably special: Sing, which put the enemy to sleep (must be a pretty boring song,) and Rest, which would restore all life. The downside was that it would put Jigglypuff to sleep.
Gary pondered. He wasn't sure he was interested in having his pokémon go to sleep in the middle of a battle, no matter how beneficial it was. Sing could be useful, but he already had Poliwag.
That thought diverted him. He wouldn't have Poliwag for long. The battles with Rhyhorn and Onix had brought it within a stone's throw of evolving into Poliwhirl. It was so close it hurt. Pikachu's level was the most important one now, but the next battle Gary fought would be pure Poliwag.
Gary got back on track. He already had a lot of good pokémon. He decided he didn't need Jigglypuff. With that decision made, Gary moved on.
"Go, Poliwag! Water Gun!"
Poliwag sprayed forth and hit the oncoming Pidgey in one wing. Pidgey spun out and crashed into the ground. Righting itself, it began using Sand Attack. Poliwag used Water Gun again and shot through the sand onto Pidgey. Wet and dirty, Pidgey flopped onto its back and decided that was a nice position to be in just then.
"Good work, Poliwag!"
"Poli, poli popopoli..."
Just then, Poliwag began to glow. Surprised by how much it looked like a Transform, Gary glanced quickly at Ditto, then berated himself. Of course Poliwag wasn't Transforming.
Gary watched as Poliwag grew. The tail shrunk into the body and disappeared. The legs and feet grew more stable. Hands and arms separated from the main body, and the eyes bulged outward. Poliwag continued to grow larger, and by the time the glow faded, was over half again its original size.
"Whirl! Whirl Poliwhirl!"
Delighted with its new limbs, Poliwhirl struck a fighting pose--and fell onto its face!
Gary gaped. "Now what!?"
Ditto chuckled. "You did such a great job of training Poliwag to handle itself on land that it's gotten used to supporting itself with a long tail in back. Just let it walk around for a few minutes and it should get used to its new balance."
The first pokémon they met after that was a Spearow. Pikachu wasn't strong enough to handle Spearow, so Gary let female Nidoran handle it, after facing it with Metapod. Putting Metapod and Kakuna in battles and then putting in someone else cost time, but it was the only way the two could rise to the level when they would evolve again.
Then, they met another Pidgey. "Pikachu, go!"
"Attack the Pidgey!"
"Pikachu!" Pikachu charged into the fray. It seemed all too happy to fight. "Pi Ka CHUUU!" It sizzled Pidgey with a Thundershock, then, when Pidgey wouldn't go down completely, hit it again.
Pidgey hit the ground. "Pika Pi!" Pikachu said, delighted with its victory. Gary recalled it, then he and Ditto looked at eachother.
"I think that Pikachu's going to enjoy the trip," Ditto said.
Gary nodded mutely.
"Pi Ka CHUUU!"
Gary was getting nervous. Pikachu was really throwing itself into every battle it found, and the Pokédex said it had gone up four levels since he'd started raising it. It had already learned Thunder Wave.
"Ditto, can pokémon make themselves grow faster?"
"It's suspected that a pokémon can focus on development and get more experience from any given battle than normal. What I find puzzling is that this Pikachu would want to."
"You can talk to it, right? Try finding out why!"
Ditto Transformed into Pikachu. "Pika, pika pi pikachu?"
"Pi Pi Pi! Pika-Chu! Pi Pika pika!"
"Ka! Kachu...pi Pikachu?"
Ditto Transformed into Gastly again. Now that he had an English-speaking pokémon form, he almost never went to human form anymore. "Remember how completely your Rattata defeated Pikachu?"
"Do I ever!" Rattata had barely felt two Thundershocks, and with two Quick Attacks had so weakened Pikachu that it didn't even struggle against the Pokéball.
"That was a traumatic experience for Pikachu. It wants to become stronger so it won't lose that badly again."
Gary turned to Pikachu. "So, you want to get stronger?"
"PiKa!" Pikachu took an offensive stance, electric sacs crackling with power.
Ditto suddenly glided down to Gary's level; Gary hadn't noticed him going up. "It may have the chance to test its power! Pink puff-ball approaching from your right!"
"You mean...a Jigglypuff?"
"PI-ka!" Pikachu ran to a tree in that direction, climbed it, looked around and found the Jigglypuff strolling through the high grass off the path. It waited for the right moment, then jumped down and landed right in front of it. Jigglypuff squealed; it squealed harder as Pikachu Thundershocked it.
Jigglypuff turned bright red, and swung one of its cute little arms at Pikachu, trying to Pound it. Pikachu dodged and Thundershocked again. Jigglypuff tumbled onto its back, bounced and landed farther back, on its feet.
Jigglypuff was weakened, but it wasn't doing as badly as the Pidgey and Spearow. Gary realized just how appropriate a test this was; Pikachu didn't automatically have the upper hand against a Normal-type.
A peaceful look crossed Jigglypuff's face. Gary paused, confused; it wasn't fainting a second ago...but Jigglypuff didn't faint. It batted its eyes, which were shining now, opened its mouth, and started to place notes.
Realizing what was about to happen, Gary shouted, "Thunder Wave!" Pikachu jumped back a step and zapped. A wave of electricity hit Jigglypuff and passed over it, leaving it crackling with static. A dismayed look crossed its face as the arpeggio it had been building broke down into high squeaks.
"Now, attack!" Pikachu charged forward and Thundershocked. Jigglypuff turned and tried to run, but it moved too jerkily from the paralysis. Pikachu put it into the grass with a few more shocks.
"Good work, Pikachu!"
Gary blinked. Pikachu hadn't taken a hit, but Jigglypuff hadn't gone down easy. Now, Pikachu was tired.
"You want to rest for a while?"
Pikachu looked longingly at the open fields, where more competition waited, but realized it couldn't fight after that exhausting workout. "Pika, pika."
"Too bad you only have electricity as a weapon," Gary said, building up to something. "If only you had some real physical attack..."
Gary shrugged, faking indifference. "I guess we'll just have to raise you until you learn Quick Attack."
"Pi!" Pikachu changed from unsure to excited with almost comic speed. Gary recalled it, then pulled out his map.
"Yes, there's a Pokémon Center near this end of the passage through Mt. Moon. We'll rest there, and then...aren't there a lot of Zubat in caves?" He turned to Ditto, looking for agreement.
"Yes, that's right. Convenient, isn't it?"
Gary nodded. Lots and lots of Flying-type Zubat.
"Then, of course, there are the Geodude. Plenty of those." Gary deflated. Geodude wouldn't even feel Pikachu's Thundershock. "And in Mt. Moon especially, there are Paras. You know what they are?"
Gary whipped out his Pokédex. "Paras. Actually two creatures: a mushroom parasite and a bug host. This pokémon burrows to suck tree roots, and uses Bug-type and Grass-type moves, as well as its own Spore attack."
Gary looked up. "Let me guess--it's Bug/Grass-type."
A slow smile crept over Ditto's face. "That's right."
"And Electric attacks are weak against Grass-types."
Gary sighed. Every time he thought something was going his way...
Gary looked out at the scene in the Mt. Moon Pokémon Center.
Something was odd, but he couldn't put a finger on it.
At the tables on one side of the room, one girl was using a brush to fluff the top curl on her Jigglypuff, and another was doing the same to a pokémon Gary almost recognized. The two seemed to be discussing grooming techniques. Giving in, Gary pulled out his Pokédex to identify the second.
"Clefairy. These mysterious pokémon can only be found in Mt. Moon, where they are believed to guard the Moon Stone, a meteorite that landed in Mt. Moon in prehistoric times. Since they first appeared shortly after the crash, they are believed to have come from the moon."
"Wow! An alien pokémon!"
Ditto, in human form now that they were in public, commented, "There are some scientists floating theories that all pokémon originally came from other planets. They don't have a lot of support."
Gary chuckled. "I'll bet they wouldn't!"
In another corner, a group of people were watching over their pokémon, which were all of two species that also looked annoyingly familiar. Gary's Pokédex identified them.
"Nidorino. This evolved form of the male Nidoran is highly aggressive. It is capable of charging something simply because it is there. The horn on its head secretes a potent venom.
"Nidorina. Evolved from the female Nidoran, this pokémon, though Poison-type, prefers fighting tooth-and-nail to using its poison."
"So that's what my Nidoran will look like eventually?"
"That's one way they'll look. Nidoran also have a third stage: Nidoking and Nidoqueen."
Gary checked the Pokédex entries for those two. Unlike female Nidoran and Nidorina, Nidoqueen had a horn of its own, but it was nothing compared to Nidoking's. Gary flinched at the picture--that thing was monstrous!
Gary surveyed the rest of the room. At one table, some Jigglypuff were practicing Singing. Everyone near that table was wearing earplugs. Near the clerk's desk, two Clefairy were having a private conversation while their trainers looked on. By the videophones, a trainer was watching a male and female Nidoran play-wrestle.
Gary realized what was strange about the place. Every pokémon here was a Jigglypuff, Clefairy or Nido-whatever! There were probably other pokémon who were still in Pokéballs, but there should be more variety among those who were out.
"Ummm...is there something I don't know about this place that would explain all the Jigglypuff, Clefairy, and Nidoran?"
"Well, all of them evolve with Moon Stones."
"Moon Stones? You mean that meteorite?"
"Yes. Fragments of the Moon Stone are also called Moon Stones. They give off a strange radiation that will make some pokémon evolve."
"And Jigglypuff, Clefairy...Nidorino and Nidorina all need Moon Stones to evolve?"
"That's right. That's probably why these trainers are here. They're looking for Moon Stones."
"...I guess I should keep an eye out for them, too. Eventually, I'm going to want to evolve my Nidorino and Nidorina, right?"
"When's a good time to use a Moon Stone on a pokémon?"
"Well, the Moon Stone isn't the only one. There are special element Stones that can evolve other kinds of pokémon as well. In nearly every case, though, a Stone-evolved pokémon can't learn any moves naturally, so it's a good idea to raise your pokémon to their final move before you evolve them."
"Naturally? How else can a pokémon learn a move?"
"You can use a Technical Machine, or TM for short. They're made to teach pokémon moves they might not ordinarily learn. In fact, there are some TMs that teach moves no pokémon learns naturally."
"Really? How do they work?"
"Well, there are two versions, the Standard version and the Travel version. The Standard version is in two parts: a large boothlike machine with a card slot, and the card you put in that slot. The TM is really the card--data for teaching that move is on the card, and the machine takes the card and teaches the move to the pokémon in the booth."
"The Travel version is weirder. It's a black box with wires leading to a cap, like those brainwash machines on old mad-scientist movies. Each move needs a different machine, and they're bulkier than the data cards, but then, you can use the Travel version any time instead of only at Pokémon Centers, which are where you can find the TM booths. Really, the only reason the Standard version is used anymore is that some people are ethically against 'brainwashing' their pokémon."
"Oh. Where can I get TM's?"
Ditto shrugged. "A number of places. They can be bought in some areas. At pokémon Gyms, the Badges used to come with a free TM."
"What kinds of moves are there TM's for?"
"Oh, lots. There are 65 different TM's, counting the special Reusable Machines, or RM's. You see, most TM's can only be used once; the booth eats the card, or the move leaves the box in going to the pokémon, but RM's can be used time and time again. They used to be called HM's or Hidden Machines, because they were very hard to track down, but now they're not much more obscure than regular TM's."
"I guess I'll have to keep a look out for those, too."
When Pikachu was fully rested and ready for more battles, Gary and Ditto left the Pokémon Center, heading for the entrance to the tunnel through Mt. Moon.
The place would have been pitch black if not for occasional eerie lights set up. They were an odd shade of blue, lighting the place enough to see in but not much more than that.
"Why would they want to keep this place dark?" Gary wondered.
"If it were much lighter, the wild pokémon here could be confused or hurt."
"Oh, so these blue lights are environmentally safe?"
Before long, the cave branched into two large caverns. Gary blindly picked a direction, wishing he'd thought to ask about a map. It probably wasn't dangerous, anyway; whoever set these lights would have put up a warning sign if it were.
Gary kept an eye out for Zubat, and remembered also to keep one out for Moon...Stones...yeah, sure he did. "Uh, by the way, what exactly does a Moon Stone look like?"
"It's a rock that glows a peculiar blue/green color. You'll know it when you see it."
There were a number of Zubat in the cave. Pikachu handled them, getting itself closer to the level it would learn Quick Attack.
Then, Gary found a Geodude.
His hand on Pikachu's Pokéball, Gary stopped himself just in time. Pikachu couldn't handle a Geodude, not now and maybe not ever. He put his hand on Kakuna's Pokéball--and stopped himself again. He didn't have a Rock-type. He should probably catch this Geodude, and there was no point in sending in something that couldn't fight. He'd figured out while on his catching spree that if a battle ends in capture, nobody gets experience.
On the other hand, the only pokémon who could really take on a Rock-type was Poliwhirl, and Gary had deposited Poliwhirl to let the others catch up to its level. He sent out Kakuna anyway, to buy some time. "Harden!"
Kakuna appeared and concentrated, as its shell became tougher and stronger. Geodude Tackled it. "Keep Hardening!" Kakuna's shell became reflective, and Geodude hit it again. This time, the impact was definitely less.
Gary quickly pulled out his Pokédex to bring in Poliwhirl, and to empty another Pokéball. Kakuna could sit there for a while, Hardening, and Geodude wouldn't get far with it, but there was no point in letting it go longer than necessary. The transfer completed, Gary recalled Kakuna. Geodude had been going for it, went right through the
spot it had been in, and hit the ground.
"Go, Poliwhirl! Bubble!" He didn't want to kill the thing...
Poliwhirl attacked with dense bubbles which hit Geodude and popped, dropping water. Geodude tried to shrug it off, but there were too many bubbles and it was getting too wet. It started swatting at the bubbles, which only made things worse. Finally it charged through them and attacked Poliwhirl, who responded with a Doubleslap. It caught Geodude in the face three times with its hands, which wouldn't normally do much
except that Geodude was weakened by all the water. Geodude hit the ground again, and this time, stayed there.
Gary threw the empty Pokéball. Geodude offered a brief struggle, but the ball had it.
Gary recalled Poliwhirl, and deposited Geodude. After thinking about it for a while, he decided to head back to the Pokémon Center to heal Geodude so he could use it against other wild Geodude.
"I'm going to head back," he said to the Zubat following him. "I'll meet you near the entrance." Ditto nodded and flew up to perch on the ceiling.
As soon as Gary stepped back into the passage, he knew something was wrong. Even though the sections right near the entrance would obviously be cleaned out, it seemed like everyone in the cave was right inside the entrance. People looked nervously toward the deeper passages.
"Uh, what's going on?" Gary asked of the nearest trainer.
"T-two people from Team Rocket just went in there!"
Other people were still coming into the entrance area from deeper in. Their encounter with Team Rocket was all over their faces. Some were glad to have escaped. Others, who had apparently challenged Team Rocket, pushed through and to the Pokémon Center.
"Oh, I hope my sister's not still in there! I'd better go find her!" Gary said, hoping he sounded convincing. With that flimsy excuse, he headed into the cave.
"Bonnie, are you certain we have time for this?"
"Of course we do! We know he isn't this far in yet; we saw him come back out before we went in!" Bonnie continued placing explosives by the cave wall. "Now back off. I'm getting to that Moon Stone!"
Clyde shrugged and moved deeper into the cavern they were in. Bonnie hit a switch and the wall crumbled, revealing the brightly glowing crystal within.
Gary ran toward the sound of the explosion, Ditto flying right behind him. There, in a medium-large cavern, were Bonnie and Clyde, Team Rocket, approaching a spot in the wall where a large chunk had been blown out. In the recess was what could only be a Moon Stone.
"He's here!" Gary jumped as Gastly appeared out of nowhere, sounding the alarm. Bonnie and Clyde jumped and turned around.
"So, it's you, boy. Now we've got you where we want you!" Bonnie chuckled.
Clyde cleared his throat. "We'll make this simple. If you want to stay healthy, surrender the Ditto to us."
"Uh, what are you doing here? I thought you were looking for smart pokémon in Viridian Forest!"
Bonnie smirked. "We don't have to look. We've already found one. Your Ditto!"
"You'll never take it!"
"We'll see who gets what in the end! Sandslash, go!"
Clyde chimed in. "Ekans, attack!"
Two at once, Gary thought. The last time he'd been involved in an uneven match the lone one had lost. This time, it wouldn't work out that way. Deciding Sandslash was the more dangerous, Gary called the pokémon with the best chance of beating it. "Poliwhirl, go!"
Buzzsaw? Gary didn't know that move, but it sounded dangerous. "Poliwhirl, Hypnosis!"
Sandslash curled into a ball, with only its back spines showing. Poliwhirl used Hypnosis--and failed, because Sandslash couldn't see the swirling pattern while curled up. Then, Sandslash rolled forward, quickly gathering speed, and crashed into Poliwhirl, who flew to the back wall and slumped.
"Poliwhirl!" Poliwhirl's front was scraped from Sandslash's spines. Gary recalled it. No one else could beat Sandslash if Poliwhirl couldn't! With no other choice, Gary called, "Ditto! Go!"
Ditto flew into the cavern and Transformed into Sandslash. He charged forward at the surprised Sandslash, and Slashed with its huge claws. Sandslash barely dodged.
Sandslash jumped forward, dove claws first into the ground and tunneled down. Ditto Dug to the side. Sandslash suddenly came up, claws flashing--and found nothing where Ditto had been. Then, Ditto came up right where it had first been standing, and sent Sandslash into the dirt in a different way.
"Ekans, Wrap it!"
Ditto was suddenly caught in Ekans' coils. Gary had forgotten to watch Ekans! Could Sandslash escape...from...could Sandslash?...Gary sighed. "Ditto, flex!" Ditto tried to curl up, and its spikes rubbed against Ekans in a way that made Ekans decide it had better places to be. It quickly uncoiled and slithered back to Clyde, trying not to touch the cuts it had gotten.
"I'll get you yet! Sandslash, return! Go, Nidorino!"
"So you've got one of those, too?" Gary remembered from his brief studies before becoming a trainer that Ground-type attacks were strong against Poison. "Ditto, Dig!"
Ditto, still in Sandslash form, quickly disappeared into the ground.
Bonnie got out the Pokéball again. "Nidorino, return!" Nidorino disappeared, and Ditto came up and found nothing. Then, Bonnie sent Nidorino back out.
"Hey, that's cheating!"
Bonnie turned to Gary. "Yes, it is, isn't it?" Then, to Nidorino, "Poison Slam!"
Nidorino jumped up as if to land on Ditto, then made a half-turn in midair and landed on its back--on Ditto's back. Nidorino's poisonous back spikes, which were longer than Ditto's spines, jammed between them and sunk into Ditto's flesh. "SlaAAAAAAAAash!"
Suddenly remembering he could, Gary recalled Ditto. Nidorino fell to the floor and quickly got up, ready for more. Gary sent out Charmander, his best pokémon.
Nidorino charged it. "Charmander, Rage!" Charmander drove for Nidorino, swiping a claw. Nidorino's sharp horn and Charmander's claw connected. Charmander's claw got hooked around Nidorino's horn, Nidorino shook its head and Charmander got tossed up to Nidorino's back, where it hit the side of Nidorino's poison spikes. It shook itself and started clawing at Nidorino's back.
Nidorino started bucking furiously, but Charmander got a grip with one claw on the side of a poison spike and kept scratching with the other. Nidorino started running into walls to try to dislodge Charmander, but all it did was hurt its head the first few times. Then, it managed to slam Charmander against the cave wall. Charmander picked itself up, roared and jumped at Nidorino, slashing its nose.
Nidorino swung its head from side to side and managed to wallop Charmander with the side of its horn, but Charmander recovered quickly and hit it with a vicious uppercut to the jaw. Nidorino got knocked onto its back, and its back spines got stuck in the cave floor. It shook itself violently to get out, and waved its feet in any and every direction, but couldn't get itself loose. Charmander closed in and swung a claw once
more. Nidorino got ripped out of the floor, landed on its stomach and stayed there.
While Clyde tended to Ekans' wounds, glaring at Gary, Bonnie recalled Nidorino. "Don't just stand there, Gastly; teach this kid a lesson!"
Gastly! Where was it? Gary looked all over the cave, but couldn't see Gastly. Then, Gastly rematerialized--right on top of Charmander! A flash of darkness struck the spot, and Charmander ran to Gary, fleeing Gastly's horrendous Night Shade attack.
Gary recalled Charmander. He didn't have anyone strong against a Gastly. He sent out the strongest pokémon he had that wasn't hurt. "Pikachu! Attack!"
"That's a Gastly, Pikachu! It's really tough, but I'll bet you can take it on!"
Gastly looked crestfallen. "You attack me with this...this...rodent?"
"Kachu! Pi Ka CHUUU!"
Gastly took the hit, blinked a few times, then swooped down on Pikachu. Pikachu Thundershocked again, but it only offered slight resistance. When Gastly had almost reached Pikachu, Pikachu gave up and fled to the far wall. Its expression was pure terror as it Thundershocked again and again and Gastly shrugged them off.
Gary realized it was reliving the horror of being hopelessly outmuscled. This was different than against Gary's Rattata, though. Pikachu had another option. "Pikachu! Use Thunder Wave!"
Pikachu closed its eyes and sent a wave of electricity at Gastly. Gastly paused, backed up and then plunged through the wave, confident it could get though without much harm.
As it passed though, it realized its mistake. The electricity struck each particle of the gaseous pokémon--and energized it! With the added energy of the wave, Gastly's gaseous nature took over, and it began to dissipate. Gastly concentrated and held itself together, but it took all the effort it had. Gastly couldn't remain in one piece and attack at the same time.
Gary smiled at Pikachu, who was just opening its eyes and wondering why the attack didn't come. "Now, Pikachu! While it's distracted! Thundershock!"
"Ka! Pi pi Pi Ka CHUUU!"
Gastly reacted to the attack--and began to dissipate again! Frantically it grabbed for a hold of its form again. It was clear that Gastly would lose this battle whatever happened.
Finally, it struggled to look up while keeping itself together. "You win...this round...boy...but we'll be back!...Team Rocket...regroup!" It funneled smoke, and when the smoke cleared, Team Rocket was gone.
Gary recalled Pikachu, relieved. Then, the adrenaline ran out and he sank to the floor of the cave. Two pokémon had been seriously injured here.
He noticed a strange glow. Looking up, he was surpised by what it was.
In their haste, Team Rocket had left the Moon Stone sitting in the cleft.
Gary entered the Mt. Moon Pokémon Center. He rushed to the desk and said, "I have two pokémon that are seriously injured!"
"Oh? Let's see them," the nurse on duty said. Gary sent out Poliwhirl and Ditto. As he did so, he noticed that Charmander's Pokéball seemed to be glowing.
"My word! These are extensive wounds! What happened to these pokémon?"
"A Sandslash caught Poliwhirl with ...Buzzsaw, and a Nidorino hit Ditto with Poison Slam."
"...Buzzsaw? Poison Slam? There are no moves by those names..."
"There aren't!? She must have made them up herself...!"
"Well, I'll take care of these two. You wait in the lobby...and if you know of newly invented moves, you might want to contact the Pokémon League with them."
That's odd, Gary thought as the nurse left carrying Poliwhirl and Ditto. He was sure he'd seen hair that shade of pink, and in that style, somewhere before...
In the lobby, people who had been there before were now showing off the Moon Stones they'd found. People were bragging about the size of one Stone, or the brightness of another. Gary instantly realized that the Stone he'd gotten was both bigger and brighter than any he could see here. That must have been why Team Rocket wanted it. He decided not to show it off. He didn't need too much attention, especially with the buzz Team
Rocket's flight from the cave seemed to have caused.
He hoped Poliwhirl and Ditto would be all right. So those two horrible moves were invented by Bonnie? That said something about Bonnie...Gary shuddered. In all fairness, he had invented a move, too, just for Poliwag, but that was defensive, not fatal!
Gary had some time to think.
At some point, he remembered what he'd seen at the desk. He took out Charmander's Pokéball. It was definitely glowing around the edges. He sent out Charmander...and Charmander was glowing, too! Now that it was outside the Pokéball, Charmander began to change. Gary realized what was happening, and watched as Charmander evolved.
When it was done, it was almost twice as tall as it had been. Its skin had deepened from orangy to full red. Its claws were larger and sharper than before, and it had what looked like a backwards horn on its head.
"Char, Char Char!"
It occurred to Gary that he had never thought about catching a Zubat. They had just been Pikachu-raising material for him. Should he actually catch one? He checked his Pokédex.
Zubat was heavy on special effect moves. It learned Supersonic, which confused the enemy; Confuse Ray, which did the same thing but had a better hit rate; and Haze, which canceled any special effects on both pokémon. It also had Leech Life, which would drain energy and give it to Zubat; Bite and Wing Attack.
Zubat sounded interesting. Gary decided to catch one.
Gary looked up. A nurse was rolling a stretcher toward him, and Poliwhirl and Ditto were sitting on it. "Poliwhirl! Ditto! You're okay!"
The nurse smiled. "They'll need some time to recover--don't let either battle for a full day. They'll be fine then."
Gary had a Geodude and a Moon Stone. He'd find another Zubat before getting through Mt. Moon, and he'd decided not to bother with Paras or Clefairy. So, after pausing to find a map of the cavern, he entered Mt. Moon, this time planning on just getting all the way through it.
Ditto following in Zubat form, Gary followed the route indicated on the map, stopping every so often to reread it in the glow of the blue lights.
Pikachu continued to zap Zubat, and Gary caught one with no fuss. Occasionally, Gary would meet a Geodude, and after putting in Metapod or Kakuna, would beat it with his own Geodude. When Geodude learned Rock Throw, Gary started putting in both Metapod and Kakuna to quicken their evolution.
At one point, the path went farther down into the earth. Gary descended--and discovered there were no lights down this far! Gary tried to review his options and failed. Then Ditto flew into the dark cavern, considered--and Transformed into a Magmar. Its glowing orange body lit the cave in eerie colors.
"Ditto, are you sure you should be doing that? You're supposed to rest a day!"
Ditto Transformed into Gastly. "This hardly qualifies as battle. The nurse was cautioning against the stress and personal danger involved in battling." He Transformed back and the cave lit up again.
Gary noticed a motion by the wall. Attracted by the appearing, disappearing and returning light, a Paras was emerging to see what was going on. It saw Magmar, screeched and scurried back in before Gary could react.
Gary continued down the tunnel. There were more Zubat and Geodude down here, and Pikachu learned Quick Attack before they climbed back up. Now, if they met another Paras, Pikachu could handle it.
A few yards past the point where they had returned to more-or-less ground level, Gary sidestepped a rock--and the rock moved, making Gary trip. When he hit the ground, he heard an ominous cracking sound from below. Getting up, he faced the Geodude that had tripped him, who was now griping and complaining. It started bounding towards him, and every time it landed the ground sagged. Gary stepped back a few paces, Geodude stepped up its pace to reach him and disappeared as the ground suddenly caved in! Cracks ran out from the spot, and swiftly caught up to Gary, who tried vainly to find a handhold as he fell through the weak floor...
Gary got up, his head spinning. There was debris all around him, and the place was dark. Remembering what had happened, he called, "Ditto! Where are you?"
A brief flash marked a Transformation, and a Gastly's voice came from behind him. "You gave me quite a scare there! All I knew was you suddenly weren't there and there was a hole in the ground...hold on." He Transformed into Magmar again, and the cavern lit up.
The place was a shallow bowl, with debris filling it. Not all the debris was from the cave-in. It was obvious from some of the debris that this had once been an underground pool. Gary stepped in and sorted through the junk of time.
There were two recurring pieces: something that looked like a low bowl and a stone spiral. He picked up one of each and showed them to Ditto, asking, "You know what these are?" Rather than turn off the light, Ditto drew in the air with a claw--a Pokédex. "You want me to use the Pokédex to identify them?" Ditto nodded.
Gary shrugged and scanned the items. "Fossils of the prehistoric pokémon Kabuto and Omanyte." Gary checked those entries.
"Kabuto. A prehistoric beetle pokémon of type Rock/Water.
"Omanyte. A prehistoric snail pokémon of type Rock/Water."
"Gee, that was helpful," Gary grumbled.
Ditto was musing. He Transformed to Gastly. "Someone at Cinnabar Lab was working on cloning prehistoric pokémon from fossils..."
"So I could have my own Kabuto and Omanyte?"
"If we can get out of this cavern..." Ditto Transformed into Zubat, then after a pause, Transformed back. "I sense a small tunnel over here," he called from one side. He Transformed into Magmar, and his firey glow revealed a cleft in the wall. After putting a bowl and a spiral in his backpack, Gary crossed to it.
"I think I can crawl through...if it doesn't get any narrower..."
Ditto Transformed. "Let me go in first, in Zubat form. I'll warn you if it narrows." He Transformed into Zubat and flew into the cleft, Gary following and feeling for the walls.
Ekans was hungry and weak. Ekans had tried to eat a Pidgey egg, but the Pidgey had beaten Ekans. Now Ekans needed to find easier food.
Ekans felt a rumble in the ground. What was this? Ekans didn't usually feel earthquakes here in Route 4...
The ground flew upward and a human crawled out of the hole. "GAH!"
"EK!" Ekans slithered away in fright.
Gary turned to the place where he'd dug through the layer of dirt covering the tunnel exit. A Zubat flew out, balked at the brightness, and Transformed into Pidgey.
Far to his left, Gary could see the more standard exit from the tunnel through Mt. Moon.
He crossed the meadow he'd dug up into, and found a sign by the exit.
"Route 4: Mt. Moon to Cerulean City"
Cerulean City. The Water-type Gym.
Pikachu should be ready by now.
Gary headed east.
Nothing much was happening in Cerulean City.
Which, for Gary, was a first.
No building had just been destroyed. There were no alerts of suspicious characters. Just everyday city life.
Gary sighed with relief.
Route 4 had been a leisurely stroll compared to Mt. Moon. Gary had found a few Spearow, which Pikachu had dealt with, as well as Ekans and Sandshrew. Gary had used Zubat to beat Ekans, and Pidgey and Spearow to beat Sandshrew, while putting in Metapod and Kakuna. Within sight of Cerulean City, Metapod had finally hatched and revealed Butterfree, and in the very next battle, Kakuna had evolved into Beedrill. Gary's Pokédex also said that Pidgey was getting close. The Nidoran should have been, too. Gary would have to use them more
Gary found the Pokémon Center--the first one, he realized, that he had seen whole--and retired to an overnight room while his pokémon rested. He spent the evening with his Pokédex, researching Water-types before he went to sleep.
In the morning, he found Cerulean City Gym. The building was worked in flowing architecture, suggesting an aquarium. The door guard here was dressed in a blue suit with a wave-like fringe, and was surrounded by what looked like a moat.
Gary approached, tossing and catching Pikachu's Pokéball nonchalantly. The guard watched him coolly. "You want to enter the Gym?"
"That's right. I hear you and I have to battle first."
"Well, you're obviously ready. Shellder, go!"
Gary smiled. He'd learned about Shellder. While its shell gave it a good defense, its special ability wasn't so marvelous. Nothing a Thundershock or two couldn't put away. "Pikachu! Go!"
"Shell!" Shellder, seeing Pikachu, snapped shut. A lot of good it did. Pikachu zapped away and Shellder's muffled cries of pain came through the shell.
"Shellder, use Clamp!" The door guard said when the electricity cleared. Shellder opened wide, launched itself out of the moat and closed its shell on top of Pikachu! Pikachu struggled to take it off, like a shirt that was too small, but Shellder wouldn't budge. Pikachu was not enjoying the squeeze play at all.
"Pi Ka CHUUU!"
Shellder flew off Pikachu and landed on the ground on the other side of the moat. It had taken heavy damage from the point-blank electrocution. The guard, shaken, recalled it. Glumly, she said, "From the looks of things, you'll probably beat the second, too, but I'm not allowed to stop half-way...Goldeen, go!"
Gary remembered Goldeen. He'd passed up one in favor of Poliwag. Now, he'd face one anyway.
Goldeen appeared, saw Pikachu--and its high-class look dissolved into fright. Pikachu got a nasty grin on its face as its electric sacs crackled with power.
Supersonic!? Gary remembered Supersonic...he watched in horror as Pikachu's determined look melted into confusion.
Pikachu had a lot of electricity built up, and it was sure it had had a pretty good reason, but it couldn't remember why! Distressed beyond any safe limits, it abruptly discharged all of its tremendous store of electricity in every direction. Sparks flew all over the area. Gary jumped back and a bolt barely missed him.
Unfortunately for Goldeen, "every direction" included towards Goldeen.
Gary was not surprised to find that the inside of Cerulean Gym was one big swimming pool. The pool was filled with Water-type pokémon doing laps and battling eachother. Gary found the species he had read about last night: Goldeen and Seaking, the horned fish; cute Horsea and sharp-looking Seadra; Krabby and Kingler, the crabs; some Poliwag and Poliwhirl, which Gary already knew about; a few of the dopey-looking Psyduck, though Gary couldn't find any Golduck here; Shellder and its evolved form, Cloyster; the dimwitted Slowpoke; a group of Staryu and Starmie; a few Tentacool; and also Squirtle, its evolved form, Wartortle, and one Gary must have missed. In an aside to Ditto, he asked, "What's that one with the neck fringe...that just disappeared...? (sigh)"
"I didn't see it, but that sounds like a Vaporeon, using Acid Armor to melt into the water. It's really a special pokémon--it evolved from the Normal-type Eevee."
"What? How can a Normal-type evolve into a Water-type?"
"Remember our discussion on element Stones like the Moon Stone? Eevee is a very special pokémon; it evolves by element Stone, and can use any of three: the Water Stone, which makes it a Vaporeon; the Thunder Stone, which makes it a Jolteon, and the Fire Stone, which makes it a Flareon."
"Wow! Can you switch back and forth between them?"
"No, Stone-evolutions are just as final as Level-evolutions. Eevee can represent a hard choice to some."
There weren't as many people on the list here as there were at Pewter Gym. The next free spot was...now!
Gary signed his name and waited right by the door. Before long, a woman in a one-piece bathing suit opened the door and looked at the list. She turned to call into the main room.
"I'm Gary Ford."
"OH! So you are! My name's Misty. You're my next challenger?"
"Why aren't there that many people on the sign-up list? This isn't a popular Gym?"
Misty looked like she wanted to say something scathing, but instead said, "Some people never get past Pewter. The farther a Gym is along the way to the Pokémon League, the fewer people get there!"
Gary and Misty were standing on floating platforms in a scaled-down version of the big pool in the main room, with other platforms spaced between them.
"How's three on three sound?"
"Fine by me!"
"Let's start, then! Go, Seaking!"
Misty got a weird look on her face when Pikachu came out. Gary might have expected fear, but this wasn't fear. It was like a mix of unease and apprehension.
"Seaking, Horn Attack!"
Seaking swam to the platform Pikachu was standing on, and leapt out of the water, aiming for Pikachu with its horn. Pikachu sprawled low on the platform and Seaking sailed over it. Pikachu gave it a Thundershock as it fell toward the water on the other side.
Seaking swam out a distance, then quickly came in again--and stopped just before reaching Pikachu's platform. Its momentum caused a miniature tidal wave that smacked Pikachu and knocked it into the water.
Misty hesitated a moment, then called, "Horn Drill!"
Seaking swam toward the floundering Pikachu, horn first. Pikachu saw the oncoming Seaking and thrashed harder in the water, trying to swim back to the platform. Gary saw it wouldn't make it.
Then, Gary remembered what made Electric-types strong against Water-types. "Pikachu, Thundershock!"
As Misty got a look on her face suggesting she had just remembered something vital, Pikachu charged up and let loose. The whole pool lit up and Seaking cried out as it got fried.
Misty recalled Seaking. "Starmie, Go!"
Starmie appeared on one of the middle platforms. Pikachu couldn't hit it there while it was in the water, and it wasn't making any progress swimming. Recalling what he knew about Starmie, Gary recalled Pikachu.
Starmie was actually a combination Water/Psychic type, but had no Psychic-type attacks. Gary had no more pokémon who were strong against Water-types, but he did have one that was strong against Psychic-types, as long as the enemy used no Psychic-type moves on it. Perfect.
Misty blinked. Something about this battle kept registering with her. "Starmie, Swift!"
Gary blinked. Starmie's call sounded like a feminine sigh? The pause cost him. Starmie shot little stars from its center jewel, all of which found their target. "Bat! Bat! Zubat!"
"Zubat! Supersonic!" Gary was tired of being on the recieving end of that move...
Zubat fired off a prolonged sound wave, and when it hit Starmie, the ten-pointed pokémon shivered and tried unsuccessfully to curl inward.
"Now! Leech Life!" This was the move that should do the trick. The Bug-type Leech Life would be super-effective against the Psychic-type Starmie.
Zubat flew to Starmie, latched onto its back and started sucking. Starmie gave the first panicked feminine sigh Gary had ever heard, and flipped into the water. It shot out again, with a wet and bedraggled Zubat still determinedly leeching off its life force.
"Starmie, Light Screen!"
Starmie suddenly glowed from within, and Zubat detached, repulsed by the light.
"Now, Water Gun!"
Starmie splashed into the water and fired a jet of water from its top arm. It caught Zubat and knocked it all the way past Gary and into the wall.
Zubat was not winning. It just wasn't a high enough level. Gary recalled it, and sent out Pikachu again.
Misty bit her lip, then said, "Starmie, Tackle it!" Starmie flew toward Pikachu, spinning like a buzzsaw--a comparison Gary instantly regretted.
Pikachu hit Starmie with its paralyzing wave, and Starmie slowed down enough to lose its forward momentum. It splashed unceremoniously into the water in front of Pikachu. "Thundershock!" Pikachu hit Starmie again, and Starmie and the water around it glowed yellow for several seconds. Starmie sank into the pool and Misty recalled it.
"Boy, your...Pikachu...sure is strong!" She said, sounding desperately cheerful. Gary found himself thinking of Pikachu's reaction to Gastly. "All right, last one!"
"Pikachu, get ready!"
"Golduck, use Confusion!"
Golduck focused on Pikachu and hit it with a burst of psychic power. Pikachu got a blank look, shook itself and then tried to stop shaking.
Pikachu tried to focus, but the Confusion attack had hurt its willpower. It gathered as much electricity as it could and fired off a burst that almost reached Golduck.
"Golduck, Fury Swipes!"
Golduck leapt from its platform onto Pikachu's and started clawing Pikachu. "Kaa!"
"Pikachu, focus! Use Thunder Wave!"
Pikachu tried to focus, but Golduck was still raining blows. So instead of focusing on the move, Pikachu focused on the target. That was much easier and more satisfying. Pikachu built up power and let loose a wave of energy as Golduck was on its downswing.
Golduck's hand hit Pikachu's electric sac and what should have been Thunder Wave became a peculiar version of Thundershock! The energy of the wave entered Golduck and shocked it for several seconds. It stumbled backward and hit the water--and the room lit up as the electricity still coursing through it met the water!
Golduck convulsed for a while longer, then sank into the depths. Misty tried to recall it, but a platform got in the way. By the time Golduck had sunk below the platform in Misty's line of sight, it was too far down to see.
"Golduck!" Misty cried. She dove into the pool and swam down to find Golduck. Gary recalled Pikachu and knelt to try to see what was happening.
Misty surfaced. "I can't move it, it's too weak! But I can't leave it there..."
Gary dug into his backpack, pulled out a Paralyze Heal and a Potion, and dove into the water. He saw Golduck lying on the bottom, steaming from the electrocution. Gary swam down to it and applied the healing items underwater, praying they wouldn't lose too much effect to the water.
Golduck blinked a few times, then moved its arms. Gary surfaced for air. Misty, who had followed him underwater to see what he was doing, remained under, watching over Golduck. She could hold her breath for quite a while! She must have had a lot of practice.
Finally, Misty surfaced, with Golduck in its Pokéball. "It's healed enough to transport. Thank you!"
"Should it go to the Pokémon Center now?"
"Yes, it should."
Misty and Gary walked to the Pokémon Center together. On the way, Gary asked, "What was it about our battle that kept reminding you of something?"
Misty blinked. "How could you tell?"
"Well, it was all over your face, when I sent out Pikachu, when I had it use Thundershock in the water, when I sent out Zubat..."
"Oh, I spent some of my training years traveling with someone who had a Pikachu, and there was a third person who caught a Zubat early on."
"Lots of people have Pikachu, though..."
"This one was special. It was the strongest Pikachu I've ever known....and when you're the Cerulean City Gym leader you meet a lot of Pikachu. This trainer had a very deep relationship with all of his pokémon, and Pikachu was his first."
"His first? I thought the only first pokémon were..."
"Pikachu! I coulda started with a Pikachu?"
"...Now that I think about it, I haven't seen too many people with a Pikachu as a starter."
Professor Woods spoke up. "I believe you're thinking of Ash Ketchum. He's famous around here--the best trainer in the Pokémon League who had his roots in Pallet. If I remember right, he was late on his first day--all three of the starting pokémon had been taken, and Professor Oak had to do the best he could."
Gary blinked as realisation washed over him. "You-you're talking about Ash Ketchum, aren't you?"
Misty nodded. "Yes, I was with Ash all through his badge journey."
"But-but you'd have to be at least..."
Misty blushed. "I look younger than I am. Got a lot of grief for that in my teen years. I looked downright scrawny. 'Course, I flattened anyone who said so..."
Gary looked at the gleaming teardrop of the Cascade Badge set in his Pokédex next to the Boulder Badge, then looked from that to his map. There were routes out of Cerulean City on all four sides. Obviously he wouldn't go west; that was the way he had come. Should he go north, east or south? There were cities to the south, and "areas of interest" to the north and east. Areas of interest? That sounded...interesting.
Gary decided to start at the top. The way north was a dead end, so he'd go there, to the "area of interest," find out what that was, then head back and settle on east or south.
Gary thought about what he'd learned here. He knew a lot more about Ash Ketchum's training years than he had. Maybe, farther on the road, he'd learn a thing or two he didn't know about Gary Oak.
Route 24, the northern path out of Cerulean City, was a bridge across a river that ran to the sea. Watching over the side, Gary spotted a Goldeen leaping out of the water.
Ditto caught Gary's reaction and looked in time to see Goldeen land in the river again. "Say, you never got a fishing rod, did you?"
"Huh? Oh, no, I didn't...I don't know if I want to catch more Water-types. Poliwhirl's doing fine...speaking of which, do you know what kinds of pokémon I could catch up here?"
Ditto thought on that. "Well, there are two Grass-type pokémon native to this area: Bellsprout and Oddish. You'll probably want to catch one of those; you don't have a Grass-type yet. There are also supposed to be Abra here--those are rare Psychic-type pokémon. Everything else here you've already met."
Gary pulled out his Pokédex and checked out Oddish and Bellsprout. Bellsprout had the better stats, but not by much. Gary considered the moves they learned. They both learned the three powder attacks PoisonPowder, Stun Spore and Sleep Powder, as well as the Poison-type move Acid (Gary noted that both Bellsprout and Oddish were actually Grass/Poison-type.) Both of them started out with a good Grass-type attack, but Oddish's Absorb actually stole energy from the opponent and gave it to Oddish, while Bellsprout's Vine Whip did not.
Curious, Gary checked the later moves. Oddish's last two moves were Petal Dance and Solar Beam. Both were powerful, but Petal Dance left poor Oddish confused at the end of the move. If the enemy didn't fall under Petal Dance, Oddish would be in real trouble. Solar Beam needed to charge up before use, making Oddish vulnerable to attack. Gary definitely didn't like that idea.
Bellsprout's final moves were Razor Leaf and Slam. Razor Leaf was a pretty strong attack, and it scored critical hits, more damaging than normal hits, very often. Slam was a Normal-type attack. That might be useful if, for some reason, Bellsprout should ever have to face an enemy that was strong against Grass-type and Poison-type attacks.
Gary was almost ready to choose Bellsprout over Oddish, but still...Absorb sounded handy. Was there some way..."Hey Ditto, you know those machines you talked about at Mt. Moon? TMs? Is there one for Absorb?"
"Hmm...no, there isn't, but there's something even better. One TM...I believe it's TM 21...teaches Mega Drain. That does the same thing as Absorb, but it's a stronger attack."
"Great! Do you know where I can get one?"
"Well, they sell TMs in Celadon City...that's the best place I can think of."
Gary checked his map. Celadon City was southwest of Cerulean City. That made up Gary's mind about where to go after this. He'd catch a Bellsprout, get a Mega Drain TM and use it on Bellsprout so it would have the life-restoring move.
Gary looked around. They were still on that long bridge. "I hope we meet some wild pokémon soon...mine need raising and I want to find...hey, what's that?"
Across the river, with its back against the face of a high cliff, stood a small building. On the front of the building was an image of a golden Pokéball--the symbol of the Pokémon League!
Gary checked his map. This was in the wrong spot for the building to be the "area of interest" he had come for...but anything involving the Pokémon League was worth a detour. There hadn't been any way to reach the other side of the river close to Cerulean, but there might be a way ahead.
"What do you suppose is in that building?" Gary asked as he longingly looked ahead for the end of the bridge.
For a moment, Ditto hesitated. "I've heard rumors about something strange near Cerulean City...but I'm really not sure what."
Finally, the bridge ended and Gary stepped onto firm ground.
There wasn't a pokémon in sight.
Gary looked toward the river. There still seemed to be no way to cross. Gary continued following the river, looking for a way to the other side so he could get back to that building.
At one point, almost where Route 24 turned east and became Route 25, the river suddenly went underground. Gary eagerly crossed to the other side and half-walked, half-ran back south. Ditto, who had returned to Gastly form soon after Cerulean City had disappeared over the horizon, glided along after.
Abruptly, Gary's leg hit something. He stopped, and realized for the first time that this bank of the river was covered with tall grasses. He looked back at where he had run into something. There was nothing there now. Suddenly, he realized something was hitting his leg.
He glanced down. A Bellsprout was kicking him with its flimsy root feet! That must have been what he had hit. The Bellsprout glanced up, saw that its kicks weren't doing anything, and decided to try something else. It scrunched up its bell mouth like it was breathing deeply.
Sensing a powder attack about to happen, Gary jumped backward and flung a Pokéball. "Pidgey! Go!"
The sudden move cost Bellsprout its attack. It spluttered with fear as Pidgey appeared, and PoisonPowder settled all over the ground near it. When the powder had settled, Pidgey struck, using Quick Attack.
Bellsprout was much too slow to react in time. Pidgey simply ran it over. Bellsprout got up again, only to be floored again as Pidgey returned from the other side. It pushed itself back to its feet--and Pidgey quickly reintroduced it to the dirt.
When Bellsprout had been flattened four times in a row, Gary threw an empty Pokéball, deciding that was enough. Bellsprout seemed to agree.
Gary deposited Bellsprout. After Pidgey's total victory, Bellsprout was in no shape to raise, and Gary wasn't ready to go back to the Pokémon Center quite yet. That Pokémon League building was around here somewhere.
No, it wasn't.
Gary looked with despair at the point where the river swelled and went all the way to the cliff face. He couldn't cross that.
"I don't get it! If there's no way there, why would they put a building there?"
Ditto mused. "Maybe they have ways you don't. For example, the right pokémon could carry you across the water. You don't have any pokémon that could do that, though. Besides, you need the Surf RM before they can do that."
Gary sighed, and marked the building with a star on his map. He'd be back here...someday.
"Oddish! Odd Oddish!"
For some reason, there were a lot more pokémon in the way going north than there had been going south through here. Gary had just kicked up another Oddish.
"Go, Nidoran! Horn Attack!" Gary was working on raising the Nidoran to catch up with Pidgey.
Male Nidoran emerged and charged straight at Oddish, who backed up nervously. Nidoran hit it and Oddish flew through the air, landing with a strangely solid thump.
Gary went to it--and came out of the tall grass! He'd finally gotten out. Nidoran joined him--and found Oddish climbing to its feet. Nidoran charged again, and Oddish had no chance to dodge. The two connected and Nidoran knocked Oddish a good ten feet into the grass. Rustling sounds marked its hasty departure.
Nidoran began to glow.
Gary watched Nidoran grow. Its horn got longer, compared to its body, and the pokémon became more solidly built. It grew to nearly half again its original height (it occurred to Gary that a lot of pokémon grew on that scale.)
Route 25, between Route 24 and the "area of interest," was a dense forest. Nowhere near as dense as Viridian Forest, but since the day was late it was dense enough. The place was eerily quiet, and Gary met no pokémon, but it seemed there were always some just behind this tree or in that bush. Gary was getting nervous. He turned to Ditto--and grinned foolishly as he realized that, sure enough, there was a ghost right here. "This place is giving me the creeps!"
Still in Gastly form, Ditto bobbed up and down in the floating-head version of a nod. "This forest is straight out of a horror story. In fact, I can sense that there are pokémon here, and they're doing a great job of watching from a safe distance."
Gary shivered. "Thanks for the pep talk."
They went on in silence, Gary watching in as many directions at once as he could.
"Now what is a Gastly doing in my forest?"
Gary jumped. Ditto would have, if it weren't floating in the air. Gary looked up, and could just make out the silhouette of a man sitting in the tree above them.
Ditto decided to play dumb. "Gastly! Gas-Gastly!"
The man frowned, and turned to Gary. "Is this your Gastly, boy?"
"Well, it needs to learn better manners." The man jumped down to the ground, a feat made more amazing by the moonlight which now revealed him to be middle-aged at least.
"You see, I can understand pokémon speech. Your Gastly's latest statement translates roughly as 'Gastly Gas Gastly.' Not very helpful." He turned to Ditto. "You can speak English, can't you." It was not a question.
Ditto scowled. "I should have thought of that."
"Now why would you try to hide that from me?"
When Ditto floundered, Gary decided a distraction was called for. "Did you say this is your forest?"
The man turned back to Gary. "Yes, that's right. I have a cottage at the east end of this peninsula. Now, what are you doing here?"
"Well, I have a map that marks an 'area of interest' around here...say...could that be your cottage?"
The man sighed. "I'm afraid it's most likely. I try to avoid the public eye, but I'm just too famous to get away with it."
"You're famous? Who are you?"
"My name's Bill."
Ditto lit up. "You mean, Bill the world-famous pokémologist?"
Now it was Bill's turn to scowl. "In my day it was just 'pokémon researcher.' That flows off the tongue much better. Pokémologist is just too formal, too...rigid."
Gary lit up. "Oh, yeah, I think I've heard of you!"
Bill gave Gary a look of mild rebuke. "Your Gastly got it right off." Then he squinted at him. "Now why is your pokémon more worldly than you? Are you sure this Gastly is yours?"
Gary hesitated. "Well, actually, we're more like...travelling companions..."
Just then, a Sandshrew dug up into the clearing they were standing in. "Shrew! Shrewrewshrew!"
Bill spun around. "What!?" Then he faced Gary and Ditto again. "There are intruders at my cottage. Do you know anything about this?"
"No, why would we?"
Ditto nudged Gary. "He probably thinks we've been deliberately stalling him!"
"What? No way!"
Bill had turned around again. He called into the night. "Pidgeot! Fearow! Come!"
In almost no time, the two large birds landed in the clearing. Bill climbed onto Pidgeot's back. "Get on," he said. "You're coming with me. I want you where I can see you."
After Gary had scrambled onto Fearow's back, Bill said, "To the cottage, quickly!"
Gary was flying!
He'd never seen the ground from above before. He watched curiously as trees zipped by beneath him. He leaned over to follow something--and almost fell off of Fearow!
Fearow shifted beneath him so Gary was on its back again, squacked and continued flying.
Gery looked, abashed, at Bill, who was smiling now. "What did it say just now?"
"Oh, that was just a mild rebuke; something akin to 'don't do that.' I take it you've never flown before." His opinion of Gary seemed to have risen.
Bill's cottage came into view. It was right up against a cliff face, just as that Pokémon League building had been. A number of different pokémon were leaving the cottage and gathering outside. What caught the eye, though, was the large hot-air balloon sitting some distance away, that was painted to resemble a round pokémon.
Bill turned to Gary. "The intruders seem to like Gastly." Gary had definitely lost points again.
Ditto stumbled in midair. "Uh...that's a different Gastly. ...I know that sounds like a poor excuse, but you'll see when we get there!"
Pidgeot and Fearow landed in the clearing where the pokémon from the cottage were gathering. Gary was amazed at how many pokémon had already come out of the cottage, and more were still coming out! Bill asked a few of the pokémon what had happened, and then ran into the cottage. Gary followed.
The place was a mess; more so, to judge by Bill's reaction, than normal. He ran past rooms with overturned bookcases and pictures taken from the wall. Team Rocket had been looking for something specific--there were valuable things here that had not been stolen.
Just as Bill reached a large wall at the back of the cottage, a two-headed bird suddenly ran through the wall, through the cottage and outside. Gary was less confused at the sight of a two-headed bird than that it had run through the wall and the wall was still whole. Then, Bill strode through the same wall, disappearing as he passed through it.
Gary looked behind him--and realized Ditto was not with them. He shrugged. Wherever Ditto was, he knew what he was doing. Gary turned back to the wall, and tentatively stepped through it.
He was in a cavern in the cliff that the cottage was built against. There was light on the other side. Bill walked through the cavern, and emerged in a large valley beyond the cliff. There were several different climates in this valley; to Gary's left, the meadow he was in now slowly became a desert, and to the far right, it grew into a jungle. It was from there that the most pokémon were fleeing, and to there that Bill was heading. Gary ran to catch up.
The two followed the trail of devestation Team Rocket had left behind. They moved faster than Team Rocket had, since the way had already been cleared, and soon found Bonnie moving through the rain forest/jungle, half-dragging Clyde behind her.
Clyde, who was facing backwards, called, "Bonnie! Someone's here!" Bonnie snapped around, and saw Bill and Gary approaching.
"So, you must be Bill..." she said, and then realized who was with him. "...and you as well? See, Clyde, we get to try for Ditto again after all! Sandslash, attack!"
Bill, with an eyebrow raised at being brushed off, pulled out a strange device that looked something like a Pokédex. He began pressing buttons.
Sandslash emerged. "Slaaash..."
Bill pressed a final button and the front of his device opened like a Pokéball.
"See, I told you this was a bad idea, a waste of time! Didn't I?"
"Shut up, Clyde!"
Team Rocket, pursued by Bill and Gary, ran back through the jungle, through the tunnel in the cliff, through Bill's cottage and to their balloon. There, everybody stopped. Bonnie hissed in frustration, Clyde gasped in horror, Bill gasped in amazement and Gary sighed.
Right near the balloon, two Gastly were locked in a mortal struggle. The two remained facing eachother, concentrating as immense forces clashed repeatedly between them.
They were at it again.
As Team Rocket tried to reach their balloon, balked repeatedly by the maddening backlash of the otherworldly attacks, Gary, in an aside to Bill, said, "Those two are perfectly matched. They'll go on like this for hours and get nowhere!"
Bill, wide-eyed, surveyed the scene. "It seems to me that if Team Rocket wants to avoid the effects of the two Gastly's attacks, they won't be able to reach their balloon."
"We've got them trapped, then!"
"Yes," Bill agreed. Then he faced the group of pokémon outside the cottage. "Now, how are we going to get these pokémon back into the valley?"
Gary thought about that.
Spinning its spiral at a slower rate than usual, Poliwhirl began stepping backwards into the cottage. The pokémon from the valley, captivated by the design, slowly followed Poliwhirl. Bonnie and Clyde, Poliwhirl's earlier conquests, lay sleeping near the balloon where Gastly and Gastly continued to struggle.
Bill and Gary, just inside the front door, watched the pokémon file through. Poliwhirl backed through the cottage and to the false wall in front of the entrance to the valley.
"Hey, I just thought of something!" Gary whispered to Bill. "When Poliwhirl goes through the wall, the others won't be..."
Bill pressed a button and the illusion vanished.
The parade of pokémon continued. "There sure are a lot of pokémon in that valley! Are they all yours?"
Bill smiled. "Oh, no. These pokémon belong to all the pokémon trainers in this part of the world. This is where they go when they're not in the trainer's party of six. I invented the transfer system, you know."
"Wow! So my Charmeleon, Butterfree, Beedrill, Pikachu, Nidorino, Zubat, Geodude and Bellsprout are all here?"
Bill smiled again. "You have a very good memory!"
Stuck for an answer, Gary just smiled back as the pokémon filed into the valley.
Gary and Bill surveyed the two Gastly.
"Your Gastly is unusually intelligent," Bill said thoughtfully. "Is there anything else unusual about it that I could use to identify it? Anything at all."
Gary battled himself, but eventually gave in.
"My Gastly...is really a Transformed Ditto. The first time I met Team Rocket, it Transformed into Gastly, and really liked the form." Please don't realize I'm still holding back...
"Well, that doesn't explain the above-average intelligence..." Shoot! "...but that can wait. A Transformed Ditto? That's easy...you have a Pokédex, I assume?"
"Yes." Gary got it out.
"The Pokédex will know a Ditto when it scans one."
Gary scanned the two Gastly.
"Gastly, currently using Night Shade.
"Ditto, currently Transformed into Gastly and using Night Shade."
"Yes! Now I can use what worked last time! Poliwhirl! Go!"
"Poliwhirl, Water Gun the Gastly on the right!"
"Poli!" A spray of water hit and passed through Gastly, who blinked in surprise--and instantly got teleported into a tree.
Ditto, surprised by the lack of resistance, lit up like an unholy sun until it got its raging power under control again.
While Gary curiously watched the darkflame of Team Rocket's Gastly surrounding the middle of a tree trunk, Bill scrutinized Ditto. "So you're a Ditto who has remained in one form for a rather long time..."
Ditto blinked, trying to work out what had happened while it had been occupied.
"Were you as intelligent as you are now to begin with, or is that a quality of the Gastly?"
While Ditto struggled for a safe answer, Gary asked, "Maybe I don't know much about Gastly, but could Team Rocket's Gastly take over the tree and make it move or something?"
Bill looked at the darkflame which was steadily engulfing more of the tree. He frowned. "I would certainly be surprised..." He turned to Ditto. "I don't suppose you know?"
Ditto reached into his temporary Gastly instinct. "Well, it was forced into the tree against its will, and the tree has no soul. I don't think it will be able to command the tree."
"Well, that's good. Now..." Bill returned to scrutinizing Ditto. He was a fanatic about studying this phenomenom. "Have you felt any...odd effects of remaining so long in a Transformation?"
Bill frowned. "I wonder if ending the Transformation might reveal anything interesting...like Gastly-qualities permanently etched into your psyche...that would be fascinating..."
"Umm, I really haven't been in this form all that long..."
"Oh? I heard you've been Transformed since you first met the villians we fought off today."
"That's not what I said..." Gary cut in before he realized he really shouldn't.
Bill regarded him. "No, it wasn't, was it? You said he Transformed when you first met them, and 'really liked the form.' Is it important that remaining in the Transformation is not explicitly stated? Did you carry a picture of the Gastly so that Ditto could leave the Transformation and return to it?"
"You're hedging to an amazing degree. This is important to you, isn't it?"
Finally, Ditto broke. "Bill, do you ever conduct studies beyond the safety of the subject?"
"You mean laboratory-style examinations? Certainly not."
"Can you keep a secret safe from those who don't care who they dissect?"
Bill's eyes shone. "Gladly."
When the Cerulean City Police officer arrived for Team Rocket, Bill and Gary were waiting at the front door. Team Rocket had only woken once since they had been first hypnotized, and Poliwhirl had put them back under. Now they woke as they were shoved into the police helicopter.
"Hey, quit shoving me!"
"Bonnie, what's going on?"
"What do you think's going on? The police have us, idiot!"
"AAH! I don't want to go to jail!"
A specialist from Lavender Town, south of here, was ready when Gastly finally managed to extract itself from the tree. The ghost-proof holding case was loaded on with Bonnie and Clyde, the inside burning a furious purple.
A police officer talked to Bill about the incident, while Gary stared at her. He was going insane. Yes, that was it. This Cerulean City Police officer looked exactly like the Pewter City motorcycle officer he'd met--and also puzzled over. He reached back into his memory, and finally realized that the officer in Viridian City, who had explained to him about Team Rocket destroying the Pokémon Center there, had looked the same as well.
After Bill had given a report of the incident, Gary asked the officer, "Are you following me?" He immediately wished he hadn't. It sounded too dumb. Why would a police officer track him through three cities? Unless she knew about Ditto...
The officer smiled. "No, I'm not. I'm part of a large family of police officers. We all look the same. You must have met some of my sisters and cousins."
"Oh! ...how large?"
"Well, if you're on a badge journey, you probably won't see a town or city that doesn't have one of us there."
"Wow!" That was a relief to know. ...Wasn't it?
After the police had left, a Kadabra teleported into the cottage--and Transformed into a Gastly. "Thank you very much, Bill!"
"No problem. Did you find everything?"
"No, believe it or not, there are some pokémon which I did not already have the forms of, and aren't currently in your valley. However, it has become much easier to list the forms I don't have than those I do."
"And you only age as a Ditto? Fascinating! If you stayed in one form for, say, years, would you age in that form and then regress to the age you Transformed at when you ended the Transformation?"
Gary smiled. "You sure like studying things! You must lead a very happy life."
Bill sighed. "Actually, I'm overdoing it a little now because I really don't study much anymore."
Bill sighed. "I've already done it all. I've plumbed every secret I can and accepted that there are some things I will never learn. ...there's really nothing left for me to do." He chuckled. "Today was more action then I've seen in years. I guess I needed it."
"You don't have anything to do? ...You watch over a whole valley of trained pokémon, don't you? Isn't that something?"
"Well, yes, it is, but it's not enough. There's really not much to it after all the processes I've successfully automated, like climate control in the various sections of the valley. Unfortunately, there is still enough to it that I can't just leave here on a whim, so I can't go out and find something to fill the space in my life."
"Wow. That must be tough."
"I thought about teaching people who wanted to be pokémon researchers like me, but I couldn't find enough interest, and I really don't know anything but research."
Ditto cut in. "Wait a minute! There is something you know that some people would want to learn, if it can be taught..."
"Oh? What's that?"
A befuddled look crossed Bill's face. "Wha...? Oh! You mean understanding the speech of pokémon!"
Gary lit up. "Hey, yeah! If there were classes on that, I'd attend! Even if it were way out here!"
"Hmm...I don't know, I'm not sure I could teach something like that..."
Ditto smiled. "Well, if you want to experiment with the idea, you've got a very willing test subject."
Bill nodded. "How about it, Gary? Willing to give it a try?"
Bill smiled. "Wonderful. Now, let's see..." They went back into the cottage. "I'd say one of the most important things about pokémon speech is the attitude, the facial expression. You can learn a lot from a pokémon's eyes..."
Starting here, pokémon speech will appear as pictures. Hover or click on them to see a translation. If this doesn't work, or if you'd just rather not deal with it, go back to the menu page and follow the text-only version of this story. -Pory
"I'm Gary. How are you?"
"That's because Doduo don't have wings!"
Gary was getting the hang of pokémon speech. It was much too complicated to speak, and Gary decided it was just as well that no pokémon he knew of could write, but he could get the gist of what a pokémon was saying. Today he was practicing with a Doduo, one of those two-headed birds he'd seen earlier, to see if he could speak with a pokémon he hadn't practiced with before.
Thankful he'd thought to check Doduo's evolved form while preparing for this, Gary answered, "And so will you when you become a Dodrio."
Bill nodded. "I'd say you've got the hang of it!"
Gary and Bill stood outside the cottage. Ditto, in Kadabra form, stood nearby.
"Thank you for your help, Gary. I think I know now how to teach pokémon translation."
"Thanks for teaching me!"
"Be sure to get those posters up. This will be a great experience for everyone!"
Gary nodded, glancing at the rolled-up posters under his arm. Each announced Bill's new class on understanding pokémon speech. He turned to Ditto, who would Teleport them back to Cerulean City, to save time. Too bad Kadabra couldn't Teleport anywhere it had never been before, or travel would have been much easier.
They had landed just outside the Cerulean City Pokémon Center. Gary recalled Ditto--they were in a public place, and that was what a normal trainer would do--and walked in, looking for the bulletin board.
Just as he found it, he heard a voice that made him cringe.
"Hey! It's...uh...you! The guy with the Poliwag who trashed Pewter Gym!"
Gary didn't turn around. "The name's Gary." Focus on putting up the poster...
Brad wasn't done. "Yeah, that's it! Hey, j'you see what happened in Mt. Moon?"
Gary froze. "...What happened?"
"Some guy found this big cave fulla old shells 'n stuff! It's real deep, though, so they've got it all fenced off so no one kills m'self fallin' in there. They say it's a great archie...arche-o-logical find. That means it's not just old, it's real interesting, too!"
Gary sighed. Everywhere he went, he did great things that involved destroying stuff. He routed Team Rocket from Pewter City's Pokémon Center, and left total destruction in the area; he won the Boulder Badge, and nearly reduced Pewter Gym to rubble; he uncovered an archeological treasure in Mt. Moon by punching a big hole in the main route; he won the Cascade Badge, and sent Misty's Golduck to the emergency room; he helped send Team Rocket to jail and give Bill the pokémologist a new purpose in life, and...and...well, okay, so that part wasn't so bad.
And then there was Brad. "I can't figure what's so great about a buncha shells, though...can you?"
"Well, Omanyte and Kabuto are extinct, right?"
"What and what are what?"
"The pokémon that left those shells. They're all dead now." Well, that had been a mistake.
"How'd you know that? I thought you didn't know what happened..."
Gulp... "Well...it was just a big hole when I went through there..." Gary picked up the other posters.
"And you could see down there? Man, it was pitch black in that cave when I went through..."
"Well...I went through before you...maybe it was brighter then." Time to change the subject before Brad saw the illogic in that. "Hey, have you been to the Gym here?"
Doubt fled from Brad's face like a Caterpie from a Spearow. "Yeah! Leader there's real tough! She's got this Seadra with fins so sharp it hurtsta look at'em! I went there and I got wasted!"
Gary smiled. He'd been right; battling was Brad's favorite topic. "Gee, that's too bad. I didn't have to fight any Seadra when I went there, and I got the badge no problem."
"What!? You lucky Magikarp!"
Gary decided to make a break for it. "Well, I've gotta put up these posters. See you around!" With that he left, heading for the Pokémart. After he'd put a poster there, he'd take one to the Gym, where he could ask about this Seadra. He had a feeling he knew why he hadn't had to face it...
"A poster, huh? Yeah, I can find a place to put this."
"Say...I've heard something about a Seadra that the Gym Leader uses now. She wasn't using it when I faced her...do you know why she's using it now?"
The door guard studied Gary thoughtfully. "Yeah...one of her usual pokémon, a Golduck, was badly hurt in its last battle. She's using the Seadra until the Golduck recovers."
"Gee...I hope the Golduck gets better soon."
The door guard smiled. "That's kind of you."
Gary wondered if most trainers had as much effect on the world at large as he did. Because of his battle, Brad--and any number of other trainers--were losing battles they might have won against Golduck.
"Well, I've got two more posters to put up. Bye!"
"So, what can I catch around here?"
'Here' was Route 5, which lead south from Cerulean City to Saffron City. After that, Gary would take Route 7 west to Celadon City and find Bellsprout a Mega Drain TM. Of course, he'd also introduce himself to any Gyms along the way.
Now that Gary could understand pokémon speech, Ditto no longer needed to use his Gastly form. Now, the Pidgey who just happened to be flying around in the same direction as Gary turned to him.
Abra the Psychic. Butterfree learned some Psychic-type attacks, but it would be nice to have an actual Psychic-type. He'd never seen Abra in Route 24, though, so he probably wouldn't find one here, either.
What about Meowth and Mankey? He'd probably get the Fighting-type Mankey, but not Meowth. He didn't need another Normal-type. Just in case, though, he checked their Pokédex entries.
"Meowth. This Normal-type pokémon is attracted to round objects, and regularly searches city streets for dropped change. Due to a rare genetic mutation, roughly one in every 700 Meowth is capable of learning human language."
"Mankey. This Fighting-type pokémon is very quick on its feet, and quick to lose its temper. It cannot be soothed once this has happened."
On second thought...Gary checked the moves they learned.
Meowth learned mostly scratchy moves. Aside from Slash, which was very powerful, it also learned Pay Day, which...made money for its trainer? The Pokédex wouldn't get any more specific.
Despite Mankey's Fighting-type status, its moves weren't all that different from Meowth's. It only learned two Fighting-type moves, and one pretty late. Curious, Gary checked Poliwrath's entry for comparison.
"Poliwrath. The only known combination-Fighting-type, this pokémon is a highly adept swimmer. In battle, it uses its hypnotic power to distract opponents before subduing them with a physical assault."
Gary looked down to the moves Poliwrath learned.
It didn't learn any.
Gary looked through Poliwrath's entire entry. No moves. He noted that it evolved from Poliwhirl with a Water Stone, though. That rung a bell.
"Ditto, didn't you tell me something about moves and evolving with a Stone?"
Gary checked Poliwhirl's move list. He'd seen it before. Poliwhirl didn't learn any Fighting-type moves, so neither did Poliwrath.
He'd get Mankey for sure. Meowth...he didn't really need a money-making move...Meowth he could do without.
Route 5 was mostly downhill. Apparently Cerulean City was on high ground. There were a number of small cliffs on the way down; nothing Wile E. Ninetales-sized, just 4 or 5 feet high. Gary scrambled down each with little trouble.
Once, though, he came down and landed on something soft, yet firm, which yelped and attacked his ankle. Caught off-balance, Gary fell to the ground and saw a Mankey jumping at him. He raised one hand and caught the Mankey, knocking it aside. Gary got to his feet, but had no time to grab a Pokéball before Mankey, as agile as the Pokédex had warned, had righted itself and jumped at him again.
Ditto, who had shifted to Gastly form at the sound of trouble, intercepted Mankey. A flash of something weird painted everything in reverse colors for a moment. Gary blinked a few times, and his vision cleared. Mankey was sitting on the ground, blinking and shaking its head.
"That was Confuse Ray," Ditto confided. "Remember Supersonic?" Gary did. Mankey was a little worse than helpless.
That didn't mean it was ready to be caught, though. Gary threw a Pokéball. "Pidgey, go!" He was raising Pidgey lately to evolve it.
Pidgey came out and Quick Attacked Mankey, who couldn't defend in time. It tumbled head over heels, then furiously leapt to its feet. It misjudged its landing, though, and landed hard on its bottom. Outraged now, it carefully got up and advanced toward Pidgey. Pidgey used Gust and knocked Mankey on its back again. Mankey tried leaping at Pidgey--and missed by about a foot and a half.
By now, Mankey was more woozy than Confuse Ray could account for. Gary threw an empty Pokéball, and Mankey was drawn in. The ball shuddered as Mankey resisted...and broke out! It hadn't been weakened enough yet. Mankey saw the ball now lying open on the ground, decided it was important and moved to guard it.
Gary would have to weaken it some more. "Pidgey, Quick Attack!"
Pidgey came in for the attack. Mankey aimed a confused kick at it, hit the Pokéball and sent it flying. The ball hit Pidgey--and drew it in, clicking shut! Pidgey couldn't resist a ball from a trainer who already owned it. Unsure of what to do now, Mankey hopped around the ball, keeping an eye on it.
Gary would have to send in someone else. "Nidoran, go!" He was also raising female Nidoran to catch up to Nidorino.
Nidoran emerged and hit Mankey from behind with Scratch. Turning to this new attack, Mankey leapt at Nidoran. Nidoran turned around, presenting her back to Mankey, and Mankey landed on her back spines, getting a Poison Sting for its troubles.
With the effects of the poison adding to those of the confusion, Mankey slumped to the ground. Gary recalled Nidoran, walked past Mankey, picked up his fallen Pokéball, and then threw the empty one.
Gary knocked on the door again, and still got no response.
He was outside a building in the middle of a high wall around Saffron City. From hundreds of feet behind, he could see the tops of skyscrapers beyond the wall. Right here he couldn't.
Gary knocked again, and finally a small window in the door opened and a face peered through it. "Yeah, watchya want?"
"I'd like to pass through Saffron City. See, I'm traveling through here to--"
"City's closed. Go away."
"The whole city's closed?"
"Um, yeah. You can't come in right now. Beat it."
"Now wait a minute. How can a whole city be closed? What's going on?"
"Umm...uh...tornado. Yeah, that's it. Earthquake...and a volcano. Trust me, you don't want to go in there. The place is a mess. Listen, just get outta here, okay?" And with that, the window snapped shut.
Gary was left alone again, wondering what was going on. Then, he heard a voice. "You wanna get through Saffron?"
Gary turned and saw a man on a cane, walking in from the left. "Yes. I'm trying to get to Celadon City."
The man frowned. "Would Vermilion City do?"
"Vermilion?" Gary got out his map. Vermilion City was south of Saffron, across a large bay from Celadon City. Maybe he could take a ship from there to Celadon..."Why Vermilion?"
"You can't enter Saffron these days. No one enters, no one leaves. The only way through is by the Saffron Tunnels."
"Saffron Tunnels. They go underground, past Saffron to the opposite side. Built in prehistoric times. They go from here to Vermilion, and from Lavender to Celadon, but you can't get to Celadon from here."
Gary glanced at his map. Lavender Town--a town, like Pallet, not a city--was in the eastern mountains. That was where the expert on ghost pokémon had come from. He could get to Lavender though Cerulean or Vermilion City. The route from Cerulean, though, went through a mountain underpass. The route through Vermilion seemed clearer, and he was already here anyway.
"Okay, where do I enter the Saffron Tunnel?"
The old man led Gary to a small building several yards from the wall, with a sign in front of it. The sign read: "WELCOME TO THE SAFFRON TUNNELS [North-South Tunnel] View the Workings of Our Ancestors! Also Available for Quick Transit between Cerulean and Vermilion Cities. Toll: "
Whatever the charge was normally, it was now covered by a sign that read "FREE DURING SAFFRON CITY CRISIS."
"Crisis? What kind of crisis?"
The old man turned to Gary with a twinkle in his eye, as if getting ready to hear a great joke. "Didn't the guard tell you?"
"He said it was a volcano...no, an earthquake...oh, right. He said it was a tornado, an earthquake and a volcano. That can't be right, can it?"
The man hooted with laughter. "Boy, I've heard some real doozies, but that one takes the cake! I've heard everything from citywide blackouts--this in broad daylight, mind--to a rampaging Gyarados--dozens of miles from enough water for one to live in--to a herd of wild Raticate killing everyone in the city! And every last one has it straight from that fool guard."
"Then how do you know there's a crisis?"
"Well, we can only assume, though there's a rumor among those smart enough not to believe the guard..."
"Well, it's like this. Some thirty, thirtyfive years ago, Team Rocket--know who they are?"
"Well, thirty years ago they tried to take over all of Saffron. They were running the city for a time, until they were chased out by an up-and-coming young League trainer..."
"Really? Who was that?"
"Hmm...something to do with fire...smoke...burning...ashes...Ash, that was it. Ash...Catcher...something like that."
Ash Ketchum again. The savior of Saffron City, this time. Why wasn't he hearing anything about Gary Oak's adventures?
"Anyway, there's some who think Team Rocket's trying it again. The guard would be one of them, making up those stories to hide the truth. That'd be a crisis for sure."
Gary pondered. He and Ditto had promised to stop Team Rocket at every opportunity, but he couldn't see a way in this time...maybe one of Ditto's forms could get through the wall. Maybe he'd try that on the other side.
"Yes...yes, it would."
"Well, hello there!"
Gary blinked. The Saffron Tunnel led into another building, with a fat, balding man in it.
"Not a lot of people using the Tunnel these days, what with the troubles on both sides. Whatchyou here for?"
"Umm...both sides? What do you mean? There was nothing wrong on the other side of the tunnel...aside from that end of Saffron City..."
"Oh, sorry, I meant both sides of the Route. See, this here's Route 6, between Saffron and Vermilion."
"There's trouble in Vermilion City?"
"Yeah, trouble. Rocket trouble, same as in Saffron. I don't mean they've got the whole town in their grasp, acourse, but they're there, making life tough for Vermilioners."
"So, it is Team Rocket in Saffron City?"
The man frowned. "Well, acourse it is. What else could it be? There's no sure yeah or nah yet, but it's plain as the nose on my face."
Gary thought a minute. Saffron City was probably overrun with Team Rocket, but if they were guaranteed in Vermilion, and with less of a hold...it occurred to Gary for the first time that he had been planning an assault on an entire city. Maybe he and Ditto weren't quite ready for that yet.
"Well, I guess I'll just have to hope it's not too bad in Vermilion, because that's where I'm going."
"Yeah, I figured as much...that's the only place down here. Well, there's Route 11, but you'd be taking a strange route to get to Lavender or Fuschia from here. 'Course, with Saffron shut tight as a Shellder, people'd have to go some pretty loony routes, I guess..."
Gary left him pondering.
"...So I decided to take care of Vermilion City first, and save Saffron for later."
"I just hope I won't need Grass-types any time soon!"
"What's good against Electric-types?...oh, right, Ground. Well, I've got Geodude...I guess I should have caught a Sandshrew!"
"Diglett? Those little tunneling things? Are they any good?" Gary checked his Pokédex.
"Diglett. This Ground-type pokémon lives roughly a yard underground, where it feeds on plant roots, though they occasionally appear on the surface. Diglett are very fast tunnelers; they are capable of retreating into a tunnel at the speed of light."
Gary checked Diglett's stats. They were disappointing. Aside from being the smallest pokémon on record, at only 8 inches, Diglett was among those with the least life, and its defense wasn't too great. It was fast, though, in attacking as well as tunneling.
Diglett's moves were impressive. At a high enough level, it knew Dig, a good Ground-type attack, Slash, a strong Normal-type attack, and Earthquake, a powerful Ground-type attack. As long as it didn't get hit much, Diglett would be a strong fighter...and it also learned Sand-Attack, to keep from getting hit much!
Gary got out his map again. Route 11 led east from Vermilion City, and Diglett's Cave was right at the Vermilion end of Route 11. After he took care of Team Rocket, he could catch Diglett and Sandshrew to use in the Gym.
Team Rocket came first, though. Bonnie and Clyde were in jail, and Gary hadn't met any other members of Team Rocket, so he might have to face any pokémon type. He decided to raise his lower-level pokémon to catch up to the others. In fact, Geodude might be a good pokémon to raise...
"Say, Ditto, is there anything down here I might want to catch?"
Gary still didn't have a fishing rod. Well, it wasn't important. After considering, Gary selected Butterfree, Beedrill, Zubat, Geodude and Bellsprout as the five who most needed raising. With those five joining Ditto in his party, Gary headed south.
The first thing Gary saw of Vermilion City was an unnerving reminder of Team Rocket's presence.
Instead of a building marking a gate, the outer wall of Vermilion City simply had an opening where the path led into town. A sign arching over the entrance must have said "VERMILION CITY" once.
A spot to the left of center had been blackened, blotting out three letters. In the dim light of late afternoon, Gary couldn't tell whether it was a scorch mark or sludge or something else entirely.
The sign now said "VERMI N CITY."
Gary tried to ignore the Butterfree in his stomach and entered the city.
Night was falling now, but nearly all of the houses in the area remained dark. There was an air of oppression in the city. More than once Gary had to duck into an alley to avoid a prowling member of Team Rocket. Apparently, these weren't as important people as Bonnie and Clyde; they were just your average, run-of-the-mill stooge.
On one such occasion Gary saw a member of Team Rocket rounding a corner ahead, quickly ducked into a side street and slammed into another Team Rocket member. Recoiling, Gary stepped back into the main street, and the first saw him. As he approached, the second recovered and snarled, "I'll teach you to watch where you're going! Zubat, attack!" He threw a Pokéball, and a Zubat emerged and flew at Gary.
After quickly deciding which would be best, Gary threw a Pokéball as well. "Butterfree, Confusion!" Zubat, seeing a pokémon battle starting, changed course and flew at Butterfree, who started building psychic power. Less than a foot from Butterfree, Zubat got hit with Confusion and backed off.
Gary needed to slow down that Zubat. "Butterfree, Stun Spore!"
Butterfree flew forward and up above Zubat, who was thinking about attacking again but remembered the Confusion attack. As Butterfree passed over Zubat, it dropped a yellowish powder from its wings. The powder settled onto Zubat, who tried to shake it off, got dizzy and fell to the ground.
"Zubat, get up and attack it!" The Team Rocket member growled. Zubat fluttered its wings, but couldn't move them fast enough to get any lift.
"Butterfree, Confusion!" He was stuck with that move for now; Butterfree couldn't Tackle a groundbound target from the air without hurting itself, and Butterfree's last move, PoisonPowder, wouldn't affect Zubat.
Butterfree charged up psychic energy and hit the grounded Zubat. Before long, Zubat passed out and the Team Rocket member recalled it. "You'll pay for this!" He snarled as he left moving fast. Apparently he only had the one pokémon.
"You're under arrest for attacking a member of Team Rocket!" the other one said, tossing another Pokéball. "Raticate, subdue the miscreant's pokémon!"
Gary recalled Butterfree before Raticate could attack it, and sent out Geodude. Raticate moved swiftly, striking before Geodude could attack. It caught Geodude between its long fangs, bit down--and ran back to its evil trainer, leaving broken bits of fang behind.
"You can't arrest me!" Gary protested. "You're not a policeman! You're a criminal!"
"I can arrest anyone I please when we finally force this city to surrender! Raticate, use...uh...use..."
Raticate had nothing that would hurt Geodude too much. Gary cut in. "Geodude, Rock Throw!" There were no rocks in the street, so Geodude pitched itself at Raticate, who was expecting a command from its trainer and couldn't react in time. Raticate was knocked to the ground, and Geodude promptly sat on it.
Raticate struggled to get up despite the medium-sized rock on its stomach, and flailed at Geodude with its claws, but Geodude just sat there. Finally, getting bored, Geodude curled up one fist and planted it between Raticate's eyes. Raticate stopped flailing.
Defeated, his authority taunted, the Team Rocket member showed his true colors. "Please don't hurt me! I surrender, I'll do anything, just don't hurt me!"
Gary grinned. A final cliché would finish him. "Take me to your leader. Now."
The Vermilion City Pokémon Center, in the northwest section of town, was ablaze with lights as if to make up for the darkened buildings all around it. A campaign-style tent was pitched in front of it. Gary didn't waste time wondering how a tent could be pitched on asphalt; he saw the big red letter R on the tent and began mulling over strategies.
He and his nervous tour guide approached the tent. One of the two guards at the tent mouth stopped them and asked the Team Rocket member Gary had defeated, "Who's your friend here?"
The man gulped and said, "He's, uh...a relative of one of the prisoners. He wants to negotiate."
"My family will do anything to get my poor father back!" Gary filled in, wide-eyed, playing his part of the ruse. "Please let me speak with your captain!"
The guard rolled his eyes. "Sure, go on in."
Gary entered the tent. This was the first he'd heard of "the prisoners." He'd need to free them, and make sure they didn't get hurt. The Team Rocket member who'd accompanied him decided he wasn't needed any longer, and left rather quickly.
The inside of the tent was several shocks. First, the prisoners were bound hand and foot to chairs in rows in the tent. Some were staring defiantly at the two figures behind the table in the far side of the room, but many were slumped in surrender. Second, the two figures were Bonnie and Clyde! They must have escaped from jail somehow! Third, one of the prisoners...was Kate! Gary's friend from Pallet! What was she doing here? Gary noted that she was one of the defiant ones.
Bonnie and Clyde looked up, and instantly recognized him. "You!" they chorused. Several heads perked up.
Bonnie jumped up and circled the table. "So, we meet again! This time you won't be so lucky!"
Clyde frowned. "Bonnie, They told us to forget that assignment! They said They wouldn't break us out of jail again if he caught us!"
"Hmph. Ditto or no Ditto, this kid still needs a lesson for defying Team Rocket!"
Kate saw Gary and gasped. "Gary, what are you doing here?"
Bonnie was immediately behind her. "So you know each other, do you? Good." Bonnie grabbed Kate by the throat.
"Surrender all of your pokémon to Team Rocket or this troublemaker will never see the light of another day!"