Gary's Story

Chapter 41

Gary and Kate looked at each other. This was not at all what Gary had had in mind!
Quickly Gary reviewed the situation. Bonnie and Clyde had proven themselves a less-than-effective team in the past; maybe there was some way to come out on top. Kate, he knew, was willing to fight given a chance; he'd seen it in her earlier. If he could cue her somehow...
"Well, what's your answer?" Bonnie demanded. Clyde finally rose and approached the tableau.
Taking an unsure step forward, Gary took up a Pokéball. "You want my pokémon?" he said softly. Bonnie flashed a triumphant grin.
Gary shifted moods, flinging the Pokéball. "Than I'll give you one! Go, Rati-Kate!"
"[generic battle cry]"
Bonnie and Clyde blinked. "Huh? That's not a Raticate..."
"No, but this is!" Kate, who'd heard what Gary had really said and caught the cue, pushed off with both feet and slammed backwards into Bonnie. Both fell to the ground, with the chair on top and Bonnie out cold as soon as her head hit the floor.
"Bellsprout, keep Clyde busy! Go, Beedrill!" Gary threw another Pokéball. While Clyde sent out Ekans to get through Bellsprout, Kate rocked back and forth until her chair rolled off of Bonnie.
"Beedrill, Fury Attack on Kate's bonds! Don't hit Kate!" Beedrill flew to Kate and started attacking the ropes on one side of Kate's chair, while Kate edged as much as she could to the other side.
Gary checked on Bellsprout--and grinned. Bellsprout had elected to use Sleep Powder on both Ekans and Clyde, and was now checking both to be sure they remained asleep.
Bonnie had no such guardian. Woozily, she sat up, saw what was going on and lobbed a ball at Beedrill. "Sandslash, stop that Beedrill!"
Sandslash appeared and aimed a Slash at Beedrill. Beedrill redirected its Fury Attack at Sandslash, leaving Kate to fend for herself. Beedrill hadn't gotten all the way through the ropes holding Kate's arms, but had weakened them enough so Kate could snap what was left by stretching. Then, righting herself, she bent to untie her legs.
At that moment, four lesser members of Team Rocket entered the tent. Gary recognized the one with the Zubat among them, and was recognized in return. "You...!" the Team Rocket member said, sounding none too sure of himself. "You're a threat to Team Rocket!" The others drew Pokéballs.
A twisted grin and an ominous step forward sent the one who had spoken backing out of the tent, but the other three hadn't faced Gary before. They threw a Pokéball each, sending out a Spearow, an Oddish, and a male Nidoran.
Gary grabbed every Pokéball left except Ditto's. "Geodude! Butterfree! Zubat! Go!" The three pokémon emerged and squared off against Team Rocket's pokémon.
Geodude Tackled Spearow and then started pulling out tail feathers as Spearow tried unsuccessfully to fight back. Oddish tried to use Absorb on Zubat, but the Grass-type move did next to nothing to the flying Poison-type. Zubat turned it around and hit Oddish with a Leech Life that sent Oddish running around the tent in a panic, Zubat clinging to a leaf.
Nidoran, disoriented, sidestepped the battles going on around it. Its eyes fell on Butterfree, and it charged forward, horn first. By this time, however, Butterfree had built up a large store of psychic power, and the Confusion attack it now used was a wallop that sent Nidoran reeling into the wall.
Suddenly, Butterfree was tackled from behind--by Sandslash! Gary looked back and saw Beedrill twitching in a heap on the floor. Clyde's Ekans had somehow escaped Bellsprout's guard and now had it securely Wrapped while Clyde slowly roused.
After knocking Zubat out of the air with one claw, Sandslash tunneled straight for Geodude. Geodude had largely ignored several attacks today, but Dig would hurt it badly. Gary recalled Geodude, thinking madly. All of the prisoners were watching now; that was far too many witnesses to use Ditto effectively. Sandslash came up, found nothing, came to the obvious conclusion and faced Gary, threatening.
Bonnie gloated. "You have a habit of putting up a good fight, but this time your luck has run out!"

Chapter 42

"Get'm, Ivysaur!"
Kate had finished untying herself and sent out her main pokémon. Like Gary's Charmander, Kate's Bulbasaur had evolved, the leafy bulb on its back opening to reveal a red flower.
"Use your Vine Whip!"
A vine snaked out from under Ivysaur's flower, swinging forward and catching the surprised Sandslash full in the face. It staggered backwards in pain.
Granted a moment's pause, Gary recalled all four of his beaten pokémon, the beam yanking Bellsprout out of Ekans' coils. Quickly he exchanged them for his four heavy hitters.
Glancing up, he found Ekans approaching, looking for a more worthy target than Bellsprout. While Kate focused on Sandslash, Gary sent out Poliwhirl to beat Ekans.
Ekans shot forward, intent on Wrapping its newest victim. That put it in front row center for Poliwhirl's Hypnosis. Ekans reached Poliwhirl and managed to get around it once before it finally nodded off. Poliwhirl Doubleslapped it off and used Water Gun to send it flying back into Clyde, who recalled it furiously.
A high keening brought Gary up short as he was about to recall Poliwhirl. Turning, he found Sandslash, covered in little green shoots, kneeling before Ivysaur. Ivysaur observed the trembling Sandslash with detachment, but with something else mixed in.
"That's Leech Seed," Kate explained to the crowd in general and Bonnie in particular. "The seedlings Ivysaur planted in Sandslash are drawing energy from Sandslash to Ivysaur. I don't think Sandslash can take much more..."
Bonnie recalled Sandslash, the seedlings dropping where it had been. Her face was a livid purple that reminded Gary of Gastly.
Gastly! Where was Gastly? Was it here? Could it cause trouble?
Bonnie left no time for pondering. She threw her other Pokéball, shouting, "Nidorino! Stomp the both of them!"
Kate recalled Ivysaur. "Grass-types can't fight Poison-types..." She tossed another Pokéball. "Get'm, Geodude!" Kate's Geodude appeared, saw Nidorino and took a wrestling stance.
Nidorino considered the Rock-type and the hypnotizer, and decided Poliwhirl was the easier target. He closed his eyes and charged.
"Poliwhirl, Water Gun!"
Poliwhirl met Nidorino's charge with a blast of water, then quickly dove out of the way as Nidorino came in. With his eyes closed against Hypnosis, and disoriented by the water, Nidorino didn't know which way to turn to keep on Poliwhirl, and caught by the puzzle, just kept charging forward until he tore through the wall of the tent.
"Hey, watch out for that Nidorino!"
"Wha..? What's it doing here?"
"It came from the tent! Something must be going on in there! Come on!"
Gary and Kate looked at each other. They'd beaten Bonnie and Clyde, but a swarm of underlings would be a lot tougher. Gary thought of Kadabra's Teleport, but he still couldn't use Ditto here. "Kate, do you have any pokémon that could get us out of here?"
"Now that you mention it..." She withdrew Geodude and tossed another Pokéball. "Sandshrew, can you dig us a tunnel out of here?"
"Sure can!" Sandshrew couldn't dig through the asphalt street, but it found one of Sandslash's holes and quickly started tunneling into the ground. Before it had gotten very far, though, members of Team Rocket started running into the tent. They spotted Gary and Kate and yelled at them to halt. Several drew Pokéballs.
Gary drew and threw. "Pikachu, Thunder Wave!"
Kate blinked. "You caught a Pikachu? And where did you get that Poliwhirl?"
"I'll tell you later!"
Pikachu appeared. At this move, some Team Rocket members also tossed, but they were too late by a mile. Pikachu's Thunder Wave interfered with what Pokéballs had been thrown, and the balls landed still closed. No one else threw any Pokéballs; they were no longer in any shape to.
Sandshrew's tunnel grew longer and wider, Gary recalled Pikachu and he and Kate climbed down.

"Oof...surface!" Sandshrew stopped when it met the asphalt again. Kate and Gary each sent out their Geodude, and the two hammered away.
"Doesn't your Ditto have something that could get through this?"
Gary scowled. "Maybe I give in to pressure quickly, but I'm not a total idiot. Team Rocket must be everywhere by now! What if they're right above us...or some innocent bystander?"
Kate frowned in thought. "Yeah, I guess you're right."
"Almost through..."
"...that cracked it!"
The two Geodude burst out into the night. Gary and Kate quickly followed...and found themselves facing a shocked policewoman with green hair.
"Another one of you!?" Gary said before he thought better.
"Another what? Another cop? Are you with Team Rocket?"

Chapter 43

"Uh, no, that's not what I meant, honest! I, uh..."
"Wait a minute!" the Xerox-officer said, focusing on Kate now. "You're one of the people Team Rocket is holding prisoner, aren't you?"
"Uh, yes, but..."
The officer was back on Gary. "Now what are you doing with her?"
"He had the gall to rescue me." Kate deadpanned.
The reminder hit Gary like a runaway Rhyhorn. "The other prisoners! I should have rescued them!"
"How? Team Rocket kept us pretty busy rescuing ourselves!"
The officer cut in again. "Wait, you're the one who sent Team Rocket on this destructive spree?"
"They're tearing the town apart looking for you!"
Gary slapped his forehead, mumbling, "Pewter Gym, the hole in Mt. Moon, Misty's Golduck..."
"Never mind. We've got to stop them!"
"But if you show yourself now, they'll tear you limb from limb!"
"They'll tear the city limb from limb until I do!"
Just then, two roving members of Team Rocket rounded a corner and spied them. "Look! Both of them!"
"But there's a cop with them!"
"You heard Clyde! Get those kids, cop or no cop!"
One spoke into a walkie-talkie. "Attention all Rockets! Subjects found in Sector 4. Subjects are fuzzy! Repeat, subjects are fuzzy!"
"Well, that solves our problem nicely, doesn't it?" Gary blandly stated. Then, "...fuzzy!?"
The police officer eyed the oncoming hooligans. "Underworld code. They mean I'm with you."
Kate gasped. "Then, all of Team Rocket is going to come here?"
Gary shrugged. "Well, the ones in Vermilion, anyway...I guess they don't like us."
Kate turned to the police officer. "Can't you call for backup or something?"
"I wish I could...but Team Rocket destroyed our antenna at headquarters. We might outrun them to the station, though..."
"So, you want to bring the inevitable battle to your own base?"
"If you have a better idea, I'd love to hear it!"
Kate perked up. "Wait, what about Ditto?"
Gary did some fast thinking. "Remember it's us they're after. I've got...a trick I do with a pokémon that should keep us safe while you get to the station and...gather a posse or something."
"Are you sure you'll be all right?"
"Remember, we're good enough to get them this mad at us!"
"Good point." The officer broke off and ran down a side street.
"And now that we've shaken the witness..." Gary said pointedly to Kate, "Go, Ditto!"
"'Bout time! I was getting cramped!"
"Ditto, here's the situation. Kate here's a friend and knows about you. Every Team Rocket Member in the city is going to show up here very soon, and every police officer is going to take a little longer than that. You picked up a lot of stuff at Bill's, right? Do you have a form that can handle this?"
"Hmm...maybe...this'll do!"
The first members of Team Rocket, those who had found them first, were on them then. Ditto hit one with a Psybeam and sent him flying backwards through the air; before he had landed, Ditto was using Confusion on the other one, who clutched his head and backed off.
Others had begun arriving since then. Ditto focused on the nearest group and used Psychic on the front one, throwing him back into the others. Ditto scanned the surroundings then, and pushed outward with his hands.
The sky flashed like lightning, and a clear, shiny dome surrounded Gary, Kate and Ditto. Several Team Rocket members slammed into the dome before they'd realized it was solid.
Curious, Gary scanned the dome with his Pokédex. "Pokémon move: Reflect. Creates a barrier of psychic energy to protect the user. This case unusual in size and density."
"It is? How?" Kate asked.
"The effect is usually limited to the user, and only strong enough to halve the effect of physical attacks, not block them completely. I'm putting all of my psychic energy into that wall."
"Gee, thanks." Kate grumbled.
"Does that mean you're defenseless if they break through?" Gary asked.
"Wait a minute." Kate stared at Gary. "You understood that?"

Chapter 44

Gary stared back. "You didn't?"
"How could anyone understand 'Kadabra Kadabra Kadabra'?"
"I, uh, took lessons on it. There are classes near Cerulean City."
"I didn't know about that!"
"Well, they didn't start until after you'd left."
"How do you know that?"
"I helped put up the ads for it."
"Ahem! Getting to your question, yes, I'd be in trouble if they broke through. Kadabra are very weak physically; that's why they're so powerful mentally. They don't even learn any physical attacks naturally. I might need backup."
"All right, then, what did it say that time?"
"Well, last time, Ditto said that he's putting all of his power into this dome. This time he said Kadabra can't fight without psychic power, so we'll be fighting anyone who gets through."
"Gets through!?"
All around the dome pokémon from Team Rocket were trying to break down the wall. There were Rattata, Raticate, Spearow, Sandshrew and Meowth scratching at it with claws, while Geodude, Mankey and two Gary didn't recognize pounded on it and a lone Beedrill used Fury Attack.
Gary scanned the two he didn't know. "Machop. This Fighting-type pokémon lives in caves and practices martial arts. Its body is entirely muscle."
"Grimer. This Poison-type pokémon is made of living sludge. Its odor is to be avoided. Since it consumes toxic waste, it is sought as a natural processor."
Kate shifted nervously. "Sounds yummy. They can't really get through, can they? I mean, that's gotta be a pretty strong wall."
"I have faith in Ditto," Gary agreed, "but it's always good to be ready just in case they find a way."
"Hey, look at that one! It's doing something!" Kate said.
Intrigued by the unhelpful description, Gary turned to where a mole-like thing that looked like a can of paint had been upended over it was facing the wall and concentrating. Gary scanned it. "Drowzee. This Psychic-type pokémon lives by putting other pokémon to sleep and then eating their dreams. It can get sick from eating nightmares."
"That's a Psychic-type?"
"Sure is...and it's working a hole in the dome!"
"Ditto says the Drowzee's coming through!"
Sure enough, the wall was thinning in that area. Drowzee began stepping forward, and the dome buckled as Drowzee attacked with its own psychic power. When Drowzee was all the way in, the dome sealed immediately behind it, grabbing an eager Raticate by a few whiskers, but now the Drowzee had to be dealt with.
Gary threw a Pokéball. "Charmeleon, go!"
"Yours evolved, too? Great!" Kate set herself up as Gary's cheering section. "Toast that thing!"
"Charmeleon, Ember!"
"Roast mole-thing, comin' up!"
Drowzee stopped its slow advance when the fire reached it, but it didn't seem to be hurt too much. It started moving toward them again, even as Charmeleon was hitting it with more fire.
"Don't use special attacks! Psychics are most powerful when using or defending from special attacks! Hit it physically!"
"All right then, Slash it!"
"With pleasure!"
This time Drowzee stopped and focused on Charmeleon. It was probably getting ready to use a psychic attack. Gary never learned what it would have been, though, because in the time it took Drowzee to focus on Charmeleon and begin attacking, Charmeleon closed the gap between them and swiped a claw across Drowzee's midriff.
Drowzee, strong with special attacks but none too good at hand-to-hand, immediately dropped to the ground, clutching its belly. Charmeleon scowled at it, as though fiercely tempted to kick a pokémon when it was down, but eventually turned back to Gary, dismissing the dismal psychic.
"Ditto, are all Psychics like that? Great at special, but poor physically? You said Kadabra was that way, too..."
"Well, most are. Slowpoke is a Water/Psychic type that has good attack and defense, but it's the slowest of all pokémon. Exeggcute has good defense, but lacks Psychic-type attacks. The same goes for Starmie, as you know. Other than those, I know of no Psychic-type with decent physical power."
"Um...okay." Gary made a note to look up those pokémon later.
Like when they weren't under siege.

Chapter 45

"Hey, what are they doing now?" Kate asked.
Gary blinked and looked out beyond the dome. All of Team Rocket's pokémon had stopped attacking the dome, though they hadn't been recalled. Someone was speaking to all of the others, probably orders, though Gary couldn't hear it through the dome. A few Team Rocket members held up Pokéballs, and then started working through the crowd toward each other. Gary counted five of them.
Gary knew something big was going on when every Team Rocket member who wasn't in the area the five would meet in recalled his or her pokémon. Those that were still out made way for the five movers, who then threw a Pokéball each.
Five Drowzee.
Gary gulped as the implication hit home. "Hey, how rare are these things, anyway?"
"Oh, they're quite rare. They can only be found in one place in this part of the world...and it's not too far from Vermilion City."
"What did it say?" Kate asked.
"He said you can catch Drowzee not too far from here."
One Drowzee after another focused on the wall. Ditto focused right back, freed from the distraction of attack from all sides, but with five against one it wasn't long before Ditto lost again. The five Drowzee stepped into the wall--and then spread out, widening the hole. Ditto strained desperately, battering the Drowzee, but they remained in place, and through the hole poured the other pokémon from Team Rocket: three Rattata, two Geodude, a Spearow, a Mankey, a Grimer and the lone Beedrill.
"Here we go again," Kate muttered. She and Gary split up to take on half the group each. Kate faced two Rattata, the Spearow and the Grimer; Gary took on the other Rattata, both Geodude and the Mankey. The Beedrill hung back, warily observing.
"Get'em, Geodude!"
"Let's do it!"
"Poliwhirl, Go!"
"Come and get me!"
Two Rattata dashed for Kate's Geodude, while Spearow dove at it and Grimer oozed toward it. Mankey leapt at Poliwhirl, the other Rattata followed and the Geodude hesitated nervously.
Kate's Geodude stuck out its fists and each caught a Rattata squarely on the snout. Then, Spearow hit. Geodude rolled with the impact, and Spearow bounced off with a bent beak. Grimer got closer.
Poliwhirl immediately started to use Hypnosis on the Mankey. Midjump, Mankey got a case of heavy eyelids and lost its concentration. Instead of landing on Poliwhirl's chest raining blows, it just dropped like a sack onto Poliwhirl and both fell to the ground. Rattata, who'd seen Poliwhirl's spinning design from a low angle and been disoriented, ran right into Poliwhirl's foot and bounced off dizzily.
Spearow flew at Geodude again, this time extending its talons. Grimer got closer. Geodude watched Spearow coming in, and at the last second ducked and rolled forward. Spearow landed on Grimer and its claws sank into sludge. It tried to pull out, but it was stuck good. Grimer tried to pull it out, the main result of which was to grime up Spearow's feathers. Outraged, Spearow used Growl on Grimer and then started Pecking it. Geodude watched calmly.
Poliwhirl used Water Gun to knock Mankey off of it. The Team Rocket Geodude, who had begun cautiously advancing, quickly backed off again. Poliwhirl kicked the threatening Rattata and knocked it on its back, then turned to face Mankey, who had shaken off the prior Hypnosis and was leaping again.
Grimer Pounded the irritated Spearow, while outside the dome their trainers got into an argument. Finally, Spearow fainted and Grimer continued its advance on Geodude, leaving Spearow in a puddle of ooze.
Poliwhirl started a Doubleslap as Mankey got close enough to attack. Hand met hand as the two pokémon rapidly blocked each other. Poliwhirl, not a Fighting-type, had to work harder to keep the defense up, but in the end Mankey had the real disadvantage. It was still in the air from its leap. Focusing on the hand-to-hand, Mankey forgot to check its landing, and when its legs hit Poliwhirl's chest, Poliwhirl dropped the attack and shoved against Mankey. Mankey hit the ground hard.
Tackle would be useless here, so Kate's Geodude used Rock Throw on Grimer. There were no rocks there on the street, so Geodude bounded into the air and came down hard on Grimer. That didn't work out either; Geodude became mired in Grimer's body. Slimy fists punched outward in all directions as Geodude tried to beat its way out.
Poliwhirl hit Mankey with Water Gun, and Mankey skidded backwards and fetched up against one of the Team Rocket Geodude, mostly down for the count. The Geodude looked at Poliwhirl. Poliwhirl looked at the Geodude. Poliwhirl took a step forward. The Geodude were out of the dome so fast they accidentally clobbered one of the Drowzee. Poliwhirl picked up the struggling Rattata by its tail and threw it after them.
The two Rattata Kate had been facing decided Poliwhirl was an easier target than Geodude, and the Beedrill decided Grimer had Geodude taken care of. As Kate watched Geodude struggle against Grimer, the three others descended on Poliwhirl.

Chapter 46

"More of you?"
Poliwhirl hit one of the Rattata with Water Gun, but the other was on it before it could shift its attention. Poliwhirl slapped it off. Then Beedrill struck.
Poliwhirl was tiring. Gary recalled it, and then sent out Nidorino.
Beedrill immediately opened an attack. "Wow, you're ugly!"
"And you're dead!"
Nidorino leapt at Beedrill, catching it with his horn. Kate turned from Geodude's continuing struggle against Grimer to see Team Rocket's Beedrill hit with a Nidorino's Horn Attack. "You caught a Nidoran, too? You have all the luck!"
"You mean you didn't?"
"Well, they are pretty rare. When I found out about Pewter Gym I just gave up on them." The statement was punctuated by a tiny screech as Nidorino stepped squarely on a Rattata's tail.
"So, you don't have a female, either?"
"What!? You got both?"
Gary frowned, changing the subject. "How long are you going to leave your Geodude like that?" Geodude, still trying to get out of Grimer, was now just moving in one direction, but Grimer went in the same direction, keeping Geodude centered. Geodude tried to fake out Grimer by suddenly reversing direction, but it was too well mired to do it quickly, and Grimer easily adjusted.
"What am I supposed to do?" Kate countered. "I can't recall Geodude--Grimer's in the way!"
"Send out another pokémon to help!" Gary answered.
"But battles are supposed to be one-on-one!"
"This battle didn't start one-on-one, did it? Why should it end that way? Look at it as a Gym battle; the enemy has used four pokémon against you, and not one at a time, so you should be entitled to at least a two-pokémon teamup yourself."
"Hey, that's right! Thanks!" With the moral backup she needed, Kate threw another Pokéball. "Get'm, Jigglypuff!"
"Sing for the Grimer, Jigglypuff!"
Jigglypuff bounced over to the Grimer, batted its huge shining eyes and started Singing. Kate backed closer to Gary, where Nidorino was making enough noise with Beedrill and the two Rattata to drown out the hypnotic effect. Grimer blinked at Jigglypuff, then started to sway and finally fell backwards, asleep.
Jigglypuff stopped Singing when it saw Grimer in blissful repose. "???" It poked Grimer experimentally--and got its hand all sludgey. Kate recalled it.
Geodude, whose ears had been plugged by the sludge, now surged forward and schlopped out of Grimer, who mumbled and continued sleeping.
Nidorino finished putting Beedrill's lights out, looked distainfully at the two unconsious Rattata, and cast about for a new target. Its eyes fell on Grimer. Nidorino charged, hitting Grimer with the force of a small tank. Grimer landed a couple feet away and woke up. Nidorino was too large, and had been moving too fast, to get stuck the way Spearow and Geodude had. Grimer realized this was not a battle it was likely to win, and headed for the hole in Ditto's Reflect dome as fast as it could ooze.
Nidorino followed...and then saw the Drowzee standing there. Solid Drowzee were better to hit than Grimer any day. Nidorino charged, and the Drowzee were too busy with the hole they were keeping to defend properly. One was knocked flat on its back and two recieved glancing blows. Since the Team Rocket Geodude had knocked over a Drowzee earlier, that left one healthy Drowzee and three injured holding the hole.
Not enough.
Ditto reasserted itself powerfully, and what remained of Team Drowzee was not enough to keep the hole going. Ditto's dome snapped shut again, knocking all four defending Drowzee out of the way as it did so. Their trainers recalled them, some after soothing them first and some not.
Recalling Nidorino, Gary swept an eye over the Spearow, Mankey, Beedrill and two Rattata, as well as the Drowzee from earlier, still lying unconscious within the dome. Their trainers outside were visibly upset. "Ditto, is there something we can do about the losers we still have in here? We don't need them making trouble when they wake up..."
"Hmm...Now that they're not scrambling to attack, there might be a way." Ditto considered the top of the dome, and suddenly it disappeared as the effect became a circular wall. Putting less power into Reflect now, Ditto was able to Teleport the six fainted pokémon outside. A couple of idiots threw Pokéballs over the wall, but Ditto had the dome back in time for the balls to bounce off.
"So now what do we do?" Kate asked, cleaning off her Geodude.
Gary shrugged. "We wait for the police, I guess. They must have gotten the idea that they can't beat us in here, and we can't do anything to them out there."
Kate patted her Geodude and recalled it. "After that, I don't mind waiting a bit."
"Don't worry," Gary said as the first Vermilion City Police car appeared down the road. "It won't be long."

Chapter 47

A few of the more clue-challenged Team Rocket members tried to fight the police that now completely ringed them, but a team of well-trained Growlithe finished the opposition quickly. A few officers had Grass-types that handled the occasional Geodude. Eventually, the members of Team Rocket, trapped between the police and Ditto's unconquerable dome, surrendered.
As the last Team Rocket member was led away, the dome flickered and died...and Ditto sank to the ground.
"Ditto, are you okay?"
"I'm fine...just tired. It's hard work to put that much...into that move for so long......I should be okay...just......need a little rest..."
Gary recalled Ditto and glanced around. Had anyone seen Ditto wavering? No...not even Kate. Gary breathed a sigh of relief.
Well, Ditto had certainly earned some R&R. He could rest at the Vermilion City Pokémon Center while Gary went out to catch Sandshrew and Diglett for the Gym.

Actually, Gary didn't get to the Pokémon Center for quite a while. Everyone in the city wanted to thank him and Kate for rescuing them from Team Rocket. Finally Gary used both the time of night and his worn-out pokémon as excuses to retire to the Pokémon Center.
In front of the Pokémon Center, some police officers and workers at the Center were taking down Bonnie and Clyde's command tent, and being none too gentle with it, while the former prisoners milled about. Gary wondered what had happened to Bonnie and Clyde; they hadn't been present at the dome incident. Had they been arrested again, or had they escaped...again?
Some of the prisoners recognized him and Gary had to stop for a brief replay of congratulations. Then, he went in. The staff was bustling about with an air of having just been freed from some horrible agony. Gary wondered what had been going in inside the Pokémon Center while Team Rocket's tent had been pitched in front of it.
The nurse on duty was nearly overjoyed to take Gary's pokémon. Indicating Ditto's Pokéball, he said, "This one's been working pretty hard recently and needs rest. Can it stay here for a while?"

Gary and Kate hung around the lounge for a while, swapping stories of their adventures since they'd last met.
"...and then the Mankey kicked the ball...and caught my Pidgey!"
"Ooh, a pokémon with pokémon! Hahaha!"
"I had to send out my female Nidoran to finish the job, and then get Pidgey back!"
"Maybe I should have gotten the Nidoran...hey, what else did you get?"
"Well, let's see...I've got Charmeleon, Poliwhirl, Pikachu, Nidorino, Geodude, Ditto...Pidgey, Rattata, Butterfree, Beedrill, Spearow, female Nidoran, Zubat, Mankey and Bellsprout."
"Hmm...I've got Ivysaur, Sandshrew, Geodude, Rattata, Jigglypuff, Meowth...Pidgeotto, Butterfree, Beedrill, Spearow, and Ekans."
"Meowth? ...hey, has it learned Pay Day yet?"
"No, why?"
"I couldn't get my Pokédex to tell me what that move does."
"Oh...what are you going to do tomorrow?"
"I'm going east...there are Ground-type pokémon I need to catch before I try out the Gym here. Have you been to the Gym?"
Kate sighed. "...several times, actually. I can't beat the Gym Leader there. I've been here for over a week now, trying to raise my pokémon high enough to beat him."
"Wow, he's that tough? What pokémon does he use?"
"He uses robot pokémon. He's always bragging about how he reprogrammed them to be unbeatable."
"Robot pokémon!?" Gary checked his Pokédex.
"Robotic pokémon: there are five varieties of synthetic pokémon in existance. They are the Electric-types Magnemite, Magneton, Voltorb and Electrode, and the Normal-type Porygon."
"The Gym Leader uses a Magneton, and probably an Electrode, too...I'm not sure, though."
"Why not?"
"I never get past his Magneton!"

The next morning, Gary headed east. Ordinarily he would have female Nidoran with him, for raising. This time the only pokémon he was planning on raising was Geodude, and Diglett and Sandshrew when he caught them.
Kate's first--and therefore best--pokémon was strong against Electric-types, and she couldn't get past the Gym leader's first pokémon.
There was an awful lot of raising to do.

Chapter 48

"Hey, Gary, wait up!"
Gary turned to look back toward Vermilion City. Kate was running toward him.
"Hi, Kate! You going to raise?"
"That, too. You said there were Ground-types you wanted to catch...I haven't been over here yet. What are you looking for?"
"Well, I never got a Sandshrew...there are some in Route 11, past the dock. There's also a place here where I can catch Diglett, those tunneling things."
"Diglett, huh? Oh, those are cute! I oughta get one...So where is it?"
"It's right near this side of Route 11. In fact, it should be coming into view soon."
Sure enough, before long a large mound of earth rose into sight. There was a hole in one side, braced with a metal doorframe. There was a sign nearby that said "DIGLETT'S CAVE: The Diglett Population Center! Available for travel to Route 2: Enter at your Own Risk"
"Route 2? This thing goes straight through to Route 2?"
Gary got out his map, and Kate looked on. Sure enough, there was another entrance to Diglett's Cave marked just south of Pewter City, off a bit to the east. With Ditto's direct guidance to Pewter, Gary hadn't seen it.
"Wow! I never saw that there!" Kate mused. "I think I cut too far west..."
"Yeah, I missed it too. Oh, well...we don't need to go all the way back there, do we?"
"Well, we want to go back there when we've got all the trainer badges...I wonder where we'll be when we get the last one?"
"Yeah, maybe we'll end up going all the way through after all!"
"Yeah...let's just hang around the entrance for now, though."
Gary nodded. "Good enough for me!"

"Still good enough for you?"
An hour later they had met one Diglett, which had gotten away easily. Apparently they avoided the ends close to the surface.
"No, not really. Let's go in deeper."
Gary marched down the cave. The walls were scored with many years of digging pokémon, but none were digging there now.
Kate ran to catch up. "Hey, what if they're all like that one we saw? What if they all leave before we can get them?"
"Then we'll have to make do, I guess."
That brought Kate up short. "Uh...well, maybe they won't all be like that."
It began to get dark as Gary and Kate got farther from the entrance. "Umm...Gary? Do you have a flashlight or something?"
Gary stopped for a moment. Remembering Ditto Transforming into Magmar, he said, "Maybe I do. Charmeleon, Go!"
"Enter the Charmeister...and, uh, no one’s here!"
As light flickered off the walls from Charmeleon's flaming tail, Gary said, "Charmeleon, we need your flame to light the way down this dark cave!"
"Uh...okay! Lighting the way for the future...Charmeleon!"
"Hey, that's a great idea! I wish I had a pokémon that could do that!"
While Charmeleon led the way down the cave, viciously chasing down lingering shadows, Gary and Kate each watched a side of the cave for movement. It was Kate who spotted the first twitching of the wall they'd seen since going farther in. As a little brown head poked out into the passage, she threw a Pokéball. "Meowth, Scratch it!"
Meowth leaped out of the ball, straight for Diglett. Caught off guard, Diglett thought about what to do and came up with Growling at it. Meowth faltered, but struck anyway, leaving Diglett the worse for wear. It tried to Scratch back, but it was limited to the wall and Meowth easily escaped the attack. Then, Meowth hit it again. Kate, eager to catch Diglett before it, too, fled, threw a Pokéball then, and Diglett could not resist long.
"Say...that was pretty easy! ...Are you sure these things are worth catching?"
"Well, their life and defense are pretty poor, but if you can raise them to learn Sand-Attack they can protect themselves. Their attack is rather good, and they're really fast, and they learn some great moves if you raise them well."
"Hmm...I guess I'll go to the Pokémon Center with this one. Good luck finding one!"
"Thanks! See you later!"

As it happened, Gary had plenty of luck finding Diglett a while after Kate headed back. He got down into the part of the cave the Diglett stayed in. Attracted by the unusual light, Diglett started appearing left and right. Eager for some real action, Charmeleon began toasting every one it found. Ground-type attacks would be strong against it, but unlike many such cases, Diglett had no special protection from Charmeleon's Fire-type attacks. Soon the Diglett had fled this part of the cave as well, but there were a few who remained behind, if only becuase they were too unconsious. Gary searched the whole area and finally found a Diglett that was still there, but was still conscious; it was just too badly hurt to try to tunnel. Gary quickly found it was also too badly hurt to resist a Pokéball. With this newfound knowledge, he headed back out toward Vermilion City and the Pokémon Center.

Chapter 49

Just past the dock, Gary met a baffling sight. Kate looked on nervously while her Geodude swung its fists repeatedly at nothing.
"Kate, what's going on?"
"I was heading back from the Pokémon Center when I ran into...that thing!"
A purplish ball of flame materialized in front of Geodude and finished it off with Night Shade. "I am not a thing!"
"Gastly! I missed you last night!"
"Gary, you know this...ghastly?"
"Gastly, the ghost pokémon. Bonnie and Clyde's pet attitude."
Gastly flared in anger. "I am no one's pet! And after those two fools got us all caught, I have been released from the torture of working with them. My first assignment as a solo agent of Team Rocket is to dispense with you!"
Gary and Kate gasped nearly together.
Gastly glowed darker. "By ruining our plans for Vermilion City, you've proven too great a threat to remain at large. The last time a threat like you existed, we let him be when he wasn't attacking us, and he nearly decimated us! Only under the guidance of our current leaders did Team Rocket remain alive! But we learn from our predecessor's mistakes. This time around, you will be defeated at any cost!"
Gary stood his ground. "You want to take me on again? Okay, Go Charmeleon!"
"Ready for action!"
"Charmeleon, you remember this Gastly, don't you? It made you run away just before you evolved! Why don't you show it your appreciation?"
"Right! Time to settle the score!"
"Ha! Let's see if it's any tougher now!" Gastly swooped toward it.
"Charmeleon, Ember!" That was the only move Charmeleon had that would affect Gastly...
Charmeleon met Gastly's swoop with a flame attack and Gastly backed off, a small section of its own darkflame withered. Then, Gastly used some strategy. It struck with Confuse Ray.
"Wha, wha, what haaappenned?" Charmeleon was suddenly in trouble. It dizzily tried to charge Gastly, tripped over its own feet and crashed to the ground.
Gary recalled Charmeleon, and went for strategy himself. "Bellsprout, go! Sleep Powder!"
"Coming up..."
Bellsprout inhaled, and then blew out a light-blue powder at Gastly. Gastly slid to the right, avoiding the cloud of dust. Bellsprout tried again, and Gastly slid back to the left. Quickly Bellsprout shot more Sleep Powder, and Gastly immediately moved back to the right--and right into Bellsprout's second cloud. It tried to fight the effects, but lost and slowed to a stop.
Bellsprout couldn't actually beat Gastly on its own, so Gary recalled it and sent out Pidgey. "Time to end this! Pidgey, Whirlwind!"
Pidgey flapped its wings hard and a wind rose, heading toward Gastly. The lighter-than-air pokémon, too asleep to resist, started floating backwards--toward the city!
"Uh oh...Pidgey, can you blow it the other way?" Gary said, moving to the side. Pidgey flew up and over Gastly, touched down on the other side and began again. Gastly started flying back towards Diglett's Cave.
Gastly woke up. "Wha...? Hey!" It flew back to Gary, into the wind.
"Pidgey, Sand-Attack!" Pidgey changed its angle and dirt from the path began blowing into Gastly. Gastly flew to the side to avoid being disrupted.
"Now, Gust! Sand-Attack! Gust! Whirlwind!" Pidgey quickly shifted from one maneuver to another, and Gastly feverishly kept dodging and resisting. "Whirlwind! Sand-Attack! Gust! Sand-Attack! Whirlwind! Whirlwind! Whirlwind!"
Pidgey obediently kept Whirlwinding, and Gastly, expecting more changes in the routine, was caught off guard. Before it could do anything, it was blown far back down the path toward Diglett's Cave, out of sight.
"Great job, Pidgey!" Gary cheered.
"Let's...not do that...again soon...okay?" Gary recalled the panting Pidgey.
"That was genius!" Kate exclaimed. Then, in a worried tone, "So now Team Rocket is after us?"
"Are you sure they're after you, too?"
"I put up a pretty good fight when they showed up in Vermilion, and when you rescued me we worked together to beat them, didn't we?"
"Yeah, we sure did...are you up to it?"
Kate grinned. "If you can take them on, so can I!"

Chapter 50

"So, Kate wants to join us in defeating Team Rocket?"
"*Sigh*...yes, she does. And even though she doesn't understand you, I'd be happy to translate for her so that you don't have to talk as if she isn't right next to you."
Kate giggled. "Too bad you don't speak English!"
Ditto Transformed. "Oh, I can when I want, but I prefer to be inconspicuous."
Kate put a little more distance between herself and the temporary Gastly. "Yes...yes, that's a good idea."
"Say, Ditto, why don't you ever go back into human form anymore? Then I wouldn't have to recall you in the city..."
"You have a human form?"
"Yes, I started life as a human. But what if I'm needed as Ditto in the city? When I Transformed to Kadabra last night I was counting on none of the members of Team Rocket noticing you hadn't just sent out a Kadabra. If I have to Transform from human, in a public place..."
"Hmm...good point."
Kate brightened. "You could just do a 'Mighty Machoke'..."
"You know how that works, right? Wayne Brice pretends to be a real coward, so when disaster strikes, he's always the first out of the room...and then he changes to the Mighty Machoke and comes back in another way?"
Gary and Ditto looked at each other for a moment.
"But it might work..."
Ditto nodded. "I'll try it next time. Ah, here we are. Good luck!" With that he returned to Rattata form and scampered ahead of them into the tall grass of Route 11.

Gary stopped to rest on one of the cleared paths through Route 11. They connected to form a wild pokémon-free maze through the Route that anyone but a pokémon trainer might enjoy finding their way through. To Gary they were safety zones.
Gary had made some progress raising his pokémon. Geodude had learned Harden, Bellsprout had learned Stun Spore and the Sandshrew he had caught shortly after arriving had learned Slash; Sandshrew learned it earlier than any other pokémon Gary knew of. Diglett was also proving to be a good fighter--at least against Ekans, which it was strong against. It didn't have much chance against the wild Pidgey, Spearow or Pidgeotto--finding them had been a surprise. There was something else about here, too...but Gary had been busy with training and hadn't been able to put his finger on it.
Now that he had a chance to rest, he thought about what it was. Something Ditto had said last night...about where a certain pokémon could be found...because Team Rocket had seemed to have a lot of them! That was it, it was Drowzee! Ditto had said it could be found near Vermilion City, and Route 11 was the only place near Vermilion City other than Route 6. Gary had come in by Route 6, and Ditto hadn't said anything about Drowzee, so they must be here!
Until now the only Psychic-type Gary had had a chance of meeting was Abra, and he had never gotten to see one. If six members of Team Rocket had caught Drowzee, maybe Gary could. Gary checked Drowzee's Pokédex entry just to make sure.
As Ditto had mentioned, Drowzee's best asset was its special ability. In fact, its attack, defense and speed were all pretty poor! Gary checked the moves it learned. It started with Pound and Hypnosis and learned two psychic attacks, another physical attack and some special effect moves. There was also a note: Drowzee, and its evolved form, Hypno, were the only pokémon that could use TM 42: Dream Eater, and that didn't learn it naturally. Gary remembered from the basic info he'd heard last night that Drowzee fed off the dreams of other pokémon. He looked up Dream Eater and saw his guess was right; it was a Psychic-type attack that healed the user the same way Absorb did. It only worked if the enemy was already asleep, though.
Something clicked. Gary looked around, but Ditto was nowhere to be seen. He'd have to ask Ditto a question about Drowzee next time he came across him. Meanwhile, Gary looked up Hypno.
"Hypno. This Psychic-type pokémon carries a special pendulum which aids in its various psychic manuevers. Like its lesser form, Drowzee, Hypno survives off the dreams of other pokémon."
Hypno's stats were better than Drowzee's. That was expected in an evolved form, but despite Hypno's type its attack and defense weren't all that bad. Not as good as, say, Geodude's, but better than Bellsprout's. Curious now, Gary set the Pokédex to a comparison of the stats of different Psychic-types. Stats appeared for Abra, Kadabra, and their final form, Alakazam, which the Pokédex claimed had an I.Q. of 5,000 and perfect recall; the Water/Psychic types Slowpoke and Slowbro, who was apparently a blend of Slowpoke and another water-type; Drowzee and Hypno; the Grass/Psychic types Exeggcute, which looked like a half-dozen eggs, and Exeggutor, which looked like a palm tree despite being related to Exeggcute; Starmie; the two humanoid pokémon Mr. Mime and Jynx, who looked like a clown and an opera singer, respectively; and two blank listings. Gary checked those, and saw nothing but two names, Mewtwo and Mew. Apparently nothing was known about these pokémon other than their names. Odd that Mewtwo came before Mew. Well, there was probably a reason.
Getting back to the comparison, Gary remembered Ditto's comments last night and removed Exeggcute, Exeggutor and Starmie from the list because they learned no Psychic-type attacks, and, after some consideration, the embarrassingly slow Slowpoke and Slowbro. Wishing he knew more about Mewtwo and Mew, he removed their blank entries as well.
Hypno had the best attack and defense of the remaining pokémon.
Gary nodded. As soon as he found one, Drowzee was his.

Chapter 51

"Hey, Ditto!"
There were plenty of Rattata scampering through Route 11, but only one would have called out a greeting in passing. Ditto ran to join Gary and tilted his head curiously.
"I've decided to catch a Drowzee while I'm here, but something occurred to me when I was looking it up in the Pokédex. Drowzee lives by eating the dreams of other pokémon, but it needs a TM to learn Dream Eater! Does any Drowzee that doesn't get the TM starve?"
"No, they don't starve. Drowzee can eat dreams without knowing the move. It just needs the TM to show it how to make the eating actually restore HP, and do damage to the enemy as well. Sandshrew is much the same; any Sandshrew can dig without using TM 28, but it can't attack that way."
*Grumble* "Yeah, I see what you mean..."
That had been a real dampener on Gary's good mood of the day. He had learned that Sandshrew didn't learn any Ground-type attacks without TMs. At least it would still be immune to Electric attacks. He couldn't wait to get to Celadon City.
Gary already had three TMs on his wish list: Mega Drain for Bellsprout, Dig for Sandshrew and Dream Eater for Drowzee. When he actually got to where the TMs were being sold, he would probably find other things he'd want, too.
Imagining what moves he might be able to teach his pokémon, Gary didn't see the purple spot in the grass until he tripped right over it. The Ekans rose up in challenge and Gary sent out Diglett again, shelving his daydreams for now.
Kate stopped for a while in one of the clear paths and considered. Her Ivysaur had learned Razor Leaf, which was a really strong move, and her Geodude had learned another defensive move, Harden. Her Meowth, Sandshrew and Jigglypuff had learned a new move each, too. Should she try taking on that maniac in Vermilion Gym again?
Kate considered Diglett. She really hadn't been doing too well with it; there was only one pokémon here it was good against, and she hadn't met a lot of them. Diglett couldn't be hurt by Magneton's electric attack, but it wouldn't last long against the physicals. Sand-Attack, she knew, was no help; she'd read in her Pokédex that the move with all the stars would hit no matter how bad Magneton's aim was.
Kate felt a tingling in the back of her neck, but ignored it. She thought some more about that Magneton, remembering the time she had tried to beat it with Ekans' Wrap. That had failed...Kate still shuddered when she thought of poor Ekans after that. She could remember it like it was yesterday...

Drowzee shook its head to clear it. The human had been having a bad dream; one about being a poor trainer, apparently. Bad dreams tasted awful. Now Drowzee had this bad taste in its snout, and needed to clear it. Drowzee hoped that other human was around here somewhere...maybe he'd have a better dream. Human dreams were always more interesting than Pidgey dreams or Ekans dreams.

Gary continued sending out Geodude, Sandshrew and Diglett, but his goal had shifted. He was searching for a Drowzee to catch. The time Butterfree had to take to charge up its psychic energy was a weak point, and Abra was about as easy to find as an affordable bicycle. This was Gary's best chance for a real Psychic-type.
Of course, Drowzee evidently wasn't too common either...
Suddenly, Gary spotted something yellow moving to the side. Drowzee was yellow on top. He quickly turned toward the pokémon.
It was a Sandshrew.
Grumbling, Gary sent out Geodude. Geodude could beat anything that only had Normal-type attacks.
As Sandshrew sought vainly for a way to do something to the living rock facing it, Gary saw more yellow out of the corner of his eye. It seemed to be on one of the clear paths. Curious, Gary turned toward it. Geodude could beat Sandshrew without his leadership.
It was a Drowzee! On a clear path?

Drowzee's bet had paid off. Ordinarily, it wouldn't set foot on this weird, hard ground, but it wanted the other human's dream and the other human was probably on or near the hard paths. Sure enough, there he was, watching his Geodude beat up a bewildered Sandshrew. Poor thing had apparently never faced a Rock pokémon before.
Ah, the human saw Drowzee! He was surprised to find it on this ground. Now was the time to act. While the human was surprised, Drowzee would put him to sleep and sample his dreams.
The human didn't stay surprised long enough, though. He threw one of his Pokéballs. "Charmeleon, go!" He yelled. While his Geodude was still out?

Drowzee seemed to be surprised by something, and paused for a moment. For some reason, Gary's aim wasn't as good as it should have been, and the ball nearly hit the Drowzee, who stumbled backwards to avoid it. As it dropped eye contact, Gary felt a shroud lifting from him. The Drowzee had tried to use Hypnosis on him!
"Oh, boy! Another mole-thing!"
Drowzee paused again, this time in indignation. Mole-thing? Was the hothead comparing Drowzee to a Diglett now? As a result of its pause, Drowzee completely failed to react in time to Charmeleon's strike.
"They don't burn well, but they go down real easy anyway! Ha ha!"
Drowzee folded under Charmeleon's Slash. Gary finished emptying a Pokéball, and threw it.

Chapter 52

At the end of the day, a joyful Gary met a confused Kate at the edge of Route 11. Gary's Diglett had learned Sand-Attack about an hour after lunch. Kate had somehow fallen asleep on a clear path, and had a weird dream about a giant Magneton; a dream that had seemed to end rather abruptly. She had no idea what it meant.
"I caught a Drowzee that tried to put me to sleep with Hypnosis...maybe one used it on you."
"I never saw any Drowzee..."
"Well, maybe it snuck up on you."
"Don't you need to see it?"
"You need to see Poliwhirl's spinning pattern, but I think Drowzee's different. It doesn't use any patterns. It just concentrates."
"That's right. Drowzee uses hypnotic waves that intercept brain waves. Drowzee needs to see the target, but doesn't need to be seen."
"Yeah, Ditto says Drowzee puts you to sleep with its mind."
"[chuckle] Close enough."
"So, when the dream stopped, was that Drowzee eating my dream? You said that's what they eat, right?"
"Yeah, that's right."
"That's wierd...is Drowzee the only pokémon that eats dreams like that?"
"Well, Hypno does...that's Drowzee's evolved form...and I think the Pokédex said something...hang on." Gary got out his Pokédex and rechecked Drowzee's entry. "Yeah, there's actually an attack called Dream Eater, and someone else learns it naturally, I guess...let's see..."
"Huh?...yeah, that's right!"
"No, look!"
Gastly had appeared in front of them again. It was burning nearly black. "You tricked me last time, but I won't let you get away with that cheap stunt again! You will be defeated!"
"These two are under my protection! If you want them, you'll have to get through me!"
"Uh, Ditto, are you sure that's a good idea?"
"Don't worry, Gary, I'm sure I can beat it now."
"Is that so? Until now, you've had to bring in outside help to stop me! Now, let's see how tough you really are!"
Ditto Transformed, rising into the air as it did so. It turned dark purple, its eyes and mouth grew, spikes flared out from the center, two blobs separated from the main mass...
"Haw Haw Haw! [Hey, sometimes a pokémon really IS saying what it seems to.]"
"Aaaaah! How...where..."
"Whoa! What's that?"
"You wanted to see how tough I am? Okay, let's find out!"
"You...you...you... ...I'll be back!" Gastly faded away.
Gary brought his Pokédex to bear on Ditto.
"Haunter. This evolved Gastly can pass through solid walls with ease, and is immune to most Normal-type attacks. Note: this specimen is really a Transformed Ditto."
"So you scared Gastly away by turning into something tougher?" Kate translated.
"Why did Gastly stop speaking English for a while?" Gary asked.
"It was probably too scared to concentrate!"
"Concentrate? Gastly need to concentrate to speak English?"
"Gastly can't really speak English. Of all pokémon only Meowth can be taught to. Remember, Gastly are expert hypnotists. Those with enough talent can make everyone within earshot think they're hearing English words."
"What!? You mean Gastly was messing with my mind every time it said something?"
"It's probably been talking that way so long it's become second nature. That's why Gastly didn't think to harm you by 'messing with your mind.'"
"I hope it stays that way!"
"What, Gastly messing with your mind?" Kate asked in confusion.
"...Ditto, we're getting close to the city. How about Transforming into an English-speaking human now?"

Chapter 53

"I'm going to try the Gym again today, Gary. You want to come?"
"Yeah, sure! I'm probably not ready to take on the leader yet, but I might as well beat the door guard now."
"Oh, right, I forgot about that!"
"Can I come too?"
"Oh, hi! Sure!"
"...Gary, is this who I think it is?"
"Yup, this is him."

The door guard saw three people coming and quickly got to his feet. He had to have the most boring job in existance. Surely more people used to come to Vermilion City Gym. The Leader must scare off all of the aspiring trainers.
The door guard scanned the three people approaching. They were chatting amiably. Friends, then. One was Kate, the girl who kept coming back no matter how many times she got beaten. That was rare. The kid was determined, all right.
On her left was a boy who looked to be about her age. He looked a little familiar, too, but he couldn't place the kid. On Kate's right was a man in a lab coat, something like the Leader's. A friend of the Leader's, maybe? No, of course not. He was too friendly with Kate for that. Suddenly a host of conspiracy theories rushed though his brain to explain the man in the lab coat.
"Hi, Sam! These are my friends Gary and Tod. Gary wants to enter the Gym as a trainer."
Sam looked the boy over again. The name sounded familiar, too..."You sure he can handle this joint? You know what the Leader's like..."
"Are you kidding? I just chased Team Rocket out of town two days ago!"
"I knew you looked familiar! I saw you on TV!"
Gary and Kate blinked. "I didn't see any cameras..."
"We were on TV!?"
"Huh? You were there, too?"
Kate glared. "Yes, I was there! You didn't see me with Gary on the TV?"
Sam backed up a pace. "Um, maybe you were just looking away from the camera! I believe you were there if you say so...I've seen you battle the Leader, and Team Rocket doesn't stand a chance!"
Gary coughed. "So can you and I battle or what?"
"Um...I'd really rather not face the...one of the people who defeated Team Rocket, but rules are rules, I guess..." He searched his outfit for a Pokéball. "Here we are! No one's tried to enter since Kate here, so I hope I'm not rusty!" He tossed the ball as Kate cleared the field. "Magnemite, battle mode!"
Sam eyed his Magnemite appraisingly. "Nope, not rusty! Good!"
Gary nearly dropped his Pokéball of choice. "If you plan on doing that all battle, I'd better finish you quickly! Geodude! Go!"
"Let's Rock!"
"Hmm...Sonic Boom!"
Magnemite began vibrating, and its end magnets began trading electrical power back and forth. A high keening arose from the machine pokémon that had everyone plugging their ears. Geodude actually seemed to be taking damage from the noise.
Gary shouted over the noise. "Geodude, Rock Throw!" Geodude took its hands off its ears for the second it took to send itself flying through the air, then plugged them again. It collided with Magnemite, who stopped generating Sonic Boom as it fell to the ground under the weight of Geodude.
Magnemite righted itself and flew a couple of inches off the ground, preparing to use Sonic Boom again. Geodude Tackled it immediately, then used a variant of its Rock Throw to send Magnemite flipping through the air.
"WARNING··Loss·of·stability·in·relation·to·ground··Adjusting·Antigrav·to·compens-- *Clang* WARniNg··sYstEM·MESSages·becOMINg·LIABiliTy·.¨·swITCHing·to·siLENT·COMbat"
Geodude was on Magnemite with another Rock Throw too soon after Magnemite's final system message for it to dodge. Magnemite, who hadn't gotten more than an inch off the ground this time, got an inch closer to the ground with another clang.
Sam rushed over to the still robot. "Magnemite, are you on line?"
Sam couldn't understand pokémon like some folks, but he knew a busted machine when he heard one. He recalled Magnemite and turned to face Gary. "Um...hey, you know what? We never decided how long this battle would be! How 'bout we make it a one-on-one, hmm?"
Gary recalled Geodude. "Sounds good to me."

Chapter 54

"Umm...what about you? You want to enter, too?"
The lab-coated man named Tod paused. "Not as a trainer. I'm just coming as a friend of these two."
"Okay." The door guard tossed him a guest pass. With two recent heroes and another scientist in the Gym, maybe something interesting would happen here for once.

"Grumble...Tod. Wierdest name I've ever..."
"Well, you agreed to use it, remember?"
"I know I did, but there's a whole new dimension of wierd added when it's actually used in public. Why couldn't I have wound up in a Pidgeotto's body or something? Even Otto sounds less wierd than Tod..."
Gary passed by all of the strange machines littering the floor. No one seemed to be here in the main training room of the Gym. In Cerulean City there'd been less people on the waiting list for battling the Gym Leader, but there'd been about the same amount of activity in the training room. More, if anything, probably because there were more different Water-types than Rock-types. This place, however...this place seemed deserted.
"Ditt--um, Tod, what do you suppose all these machines are for?"
"Hmm...well, this one has an amperage meter...that's for measuring the power of a given electrical current. This machine was probably for testing the strength of a pokémon's Thundershock, or similar moves."
"You said it was for testing the strength."
"Oh, did I?"
"This place does feel like a ghost town...I mean, a ghost building... whatever. You know what I mean."
"Yes, now that you mention it."
They came to the far end of the room, with the door to the Gym Leader's room. There had once been the usual sign-up sheet on the door, but now all that was left was the bits of paper at the corners that had stayed behind when the sheet parted from the tacks that had held it.
Sounds of battle came from the other side of the door. Kate trying her luck against the Gym Leader. Suddenly, the door bounced in its frame as something hit it from the other side.
"Ooowwch! All right...that does it!"
Gary and Ditto exchanged a glance as a clang was heard and several more expressions of feline angst and pain came through the door. Finally they moved to nearby seats and Gary tried to guess how the battle was going by the sounds. Someone was getting recalled...Meowth, or the Leader's pokémon?... Must have been Meowth, because now the sound of a Jigglypuff was coming through the wall. It started to Sing...and Gary and Ditto clapped hands to ears again as Jigglypuff was drowned out by the Leader's Sonic Boom.
The battle seemed to be turning into a shouting match as Sing and Sonic Boom each got louder by turn. Gary and Ditto retreated to the other side of the room when Sonic Boom got too loud for them to stand. By now they could hear it even from the far wall.
Finally Jigglypuff broke down. The Singing stopped, and eventually, so did the Sonic Boom. After a few tense moments, Kate emerged from the door, lightly dusted with soot. She absently brushed a stray leaf off of her shoulder, then turned and called into the room, "I'll beat you one day!"
"Never! None can defeat me! Heehehehehee!"
Gary shivered. "That's horrible!"
Ditto nodded. "Yes, Gym Leaders should be difficult to beat, but not impossible."
"No, I meant the laugh. But you're right, too."
Kate passed on her way to the door, and Gary and Ditto joined her to take her pokémon to the Pokémon Center.

"So, was that Magneton again?"
Kate glowered. "He always starts with Magneton, and he always ends with Magneton. He's...done something to it, to make it invincible. Tinkered with it somehow. It's stronger, tougher, faster and more powerful than a normal Magneton, and it's got tons of strong moves. Thunder...Flash...Double Team...Swift...The thing's a turbo-charged nightmare."
"Umm...Tod, is that legal?"
"Hmm...I don't think the rules and regulations of pokémon battle say anything about adjusting a mechanical pokémon, no. It's probably never been done before."
"Well, it should be! Made illegal, I mean, not done before. He's ruined the Gym!"
Kate perked up. "Ruined the Gym?"
Gary continued ranting. "Haven't you noticed how no one but you ever goes there anymore? Not even to train their Electric-types in the Gym! That maniac is driving everyone away!"
Kate blinked. "Hey, you're right! Sam told me about the state the Gym was in earlier, how boring his job had gotten...I can see how Sydney could have caused it!"
"Oh, I never told you his name? Sydney the Scientist, he calls himself. He always brags about his mastery of robotic pokémon, and his family's honor. He told me once that the last scientist in his family had been a wimp who disappeared somewhere..."
Ditto led on. "So Sydney created invincible pokémon and somehow gained the position of Vermilion City Gym Leader to restore scientific honor to his family's name?"
After carefully weighing all angles of the difficult position before them, Gary summarized the situation.
"What a fruitcake."

Chapter 55

"Geodude, Rock Throw!"
"This oughta finish it off!"
"You did it, Geodude! We won!"
"Why are you getting so worked up over a Spearow?"
Sigh..."Wishful thinking."
After hearing some of Kate's horror stories, Gary had decided to focus almost entirely on Geodude. He had Sandshrew and Diglett, and Diglett actually had a Ground-type attack, but only Geodude was strong against Normal-type attacks as well as Electric-type.
The last time Gary had trained this hard was in the area of Viridian City. Gary chuckled ruefully as he thought of how many times he'd been sure he was ready for Pewter City Gym's Rock-types. This time around, he might have some chance to beat Sydney the Scientist now, but he wasn't about to take the chance yet. He'd keep training today, and then take on Sydney tomorrow.
"Shouldn't you be raising Geodude?"
Gary looked across his MagiKola at Kate. "Hmm? Oh, yeah...sorry. I was thinking about where I'm going after this."
"To Route 11?"
"No, I mean after Vermilion City. After I've beaten Sydney and gotten...the Lightning Badge, or whatever they call this one."
"Thunder Badge. Where are you going to go?"
"Well, I'm trying to get to Celadon City, west of Saffron City. With Saffron held by Team Rocket, though, it looks like the only way to get to Celadon is through Lavender Town, to the east."
"Yeah, it looks like that's the only place you can get to from here."
"Well, there are cities to the south we could get to, but there's a lot right around here that I haven't seen. Plus, I want to stay around Saffron City until I'm strong enough to do something about that little problem."
"Hey, yeah! How can we beat a whole city?"
We. Gary kept forgetting about that. "Well, we'll think of something." He finished his drink and got up. "You're right, though. I should get back to training."

Gary's mind was only half on raising Geodude that afternoon. Saffron City seemed daunting, but with Kate on the team, could it be done? Gary knew neither he nor Kate could do it alone, and even with Ditto's abilities, it would be very dangerous at best. What could Team Rocket use against them? Did they have control of the police department? Gary remembered that the Silph Corporation, the leading company in pokémon technology, was based in Saffron City. Gary pictured that impressive technology used against them. He had no real idea of what kind of products Silph Co. made, other than that they related to pokémon, but it was bound to be usable in a lot of painful ways.
What about the local Pokémon Gym? Surely they had tried to stop Team Rocket's attack on the city. It abruptly occurred to Gary that Sydney the Scientist apparently hadn't done much to defend Vermilion, but not all Gym Leaders were as screwy as he was. If Team Rocket had won in Saffron, the Gym must have been taken over. Team Rocket might use the Gym's pokémon against Gary, Kate and Ditto.
Gary got out his map. What else was there in Saffron City that Team Rocket might use against them? Gary studied the inset of Saffron City carefully for potential weapons, and discovered something odd. There were two Pokémon Gyms marked. Wasn't there supposed to be only one Gym in a city? Did this mean Team Rocket had defeated both Gyms and could attack with the pokémon from both?
One thing was obvious. They couldn't just charge in. They'd need a whole lot of subtlety. First, they'd have to get into the city, and doing that was going to be a problem. Ditto could probably get through the wall somehow, but the resulting crash would definitely not be subtle.
While his Geodude continued to defeat Spearow, Ekans, Pidgey, and tall clumps of grass the distracted Gary thought were Oddish, Gary pondered how to get in. He could use Drowzee or Poliwhirl to hypnotize a guard at the outer wall...but he couldn't make the guard open the door like those theater hypnotists. Pokémon Hypnosis could only put the target to sleep, for the most part. Gary had seen variations that made the target dizzy or drew it like a lure, but that was about it.
They could go over the wall instead of through it. He remembered flying on Bill's Fearow. Ditto could Transform into Fearow or Pidgeot...but then he could only take one of the two humans at a time, and neither Gary nor Kate had a pokémon that could fly them over like Ditto could. They could also go under the wall with Kate and Gary's Sandshrew, or Ditto as Sandslash; but then they'd just have to hope there was no one standing where they came up. That had almost been a problem the last time they had dug out of somewhere, and it would certainly be a problem this time.
"Wha? Huh?"
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't attack me!"
"Oh! Sorry, Ditto! I...kinda got distracted..."
"I noticed. I'll bet you don't even realize what time it is."
Gary looked around. The sky was darkening and the first few stars were appearing.
"Oh...um...yeah. I should probably go to the Pokémon Center, right?"
"Finally! If I had to throw myself at one more mound of dirt, I swear..."

Chapter 56

Sam the door guard trudged back to his job early the next morning. Maybe he should quit. He was doing nothing here. No one but Kate ever came here any more, unless that other kid...Gary...was going to be a regular now. Neither of them needed him. On the other hand, sometimes Kate and he had some entertaining conversations, and if you thought about it, he was getting paid to do nothing...sigh...maybe he should quit.
It wasn't long after he had gotten there when three figures appeared down the street. Sam noted sizes--one adult and two kids--and took a wild guess.
Sure enough, Kate waved to him as she got closer, with Gary and that other scientist...Sam couldn't place the man's name now. He still didn't know who the fellow was. It seemed the other scientist didn't know the Leader; he hadn't done anything last time he'd been here. Another hope for excitement dashed to the ground.
"Gary's going to try fighting Sydney today, Sam!"
"Oh? Hope you've got plenty of Super Potions, pal! You're gonna need them!"
Gary contemplated Geodude's Pokéball. "We'll see."

Almost immediately after Gary knocked on the door to the Gym Leader, that voice he'd heard two days ago came filtering through. "You again? When will you learn I can't be beaten?"
Gary opened the door. "Sorry, Syd, but you've got a new target today."
Sydney the Scientist looked a little like Ditto's human form, but wore big glasses and a maniacal smirk. "Eh? Who are you?" Still the smirk. His face must be stuck like that.
"I'm Gary Ford from Pallet Town, a friend of Kate's and at least as determined to win!"
"And no doubt as easy to crush! Magneton, Attack!"
Behind Sydney, three lights began shining from an obscured corner. Magneton detached itself from the shadows and glided to its position on the field. It hummed with power.
"Geodude, Go!"
"This better not be a tuft of...heeey!"
"Hmm. Another Rock-type, eh? Magneton, disorient it!"
Magneton's six magnets began glowing as its constant hum grew louder and changed pitch. Gary recognized the noise, and his heart sank to the floor. Geodude tried to resist, but eventually gave in to Supersonic.
"Geodude, Rock Throw! Please get it right..."
Geodude guaged the distance to Magneton, dove for the floor and catapulted into the air.
In the wrong direction.
Magneton's hum suddenly mutated into a mind-shattering wail. Gary plugged his ears, Geodude turned in circles in a useless attempt to escape the noise, and Sydney just stood there grinning madly. Maybe he was used to Screech after battling Kate so many times.
"Now, Swift it down!"
Magneton's eyes glowed brightly, and it began shooting pellets of energy shaped like stars at Geodude. Every one struck home. This was a Normal-type attack, and ordinarily would not have done much, but Magneton was unusually strong, and Supersonic and Screech had left Geodude wide open.
"Ow! Ow! Hey! Ow!"
Gary gulped. His heart made space on the floor for his confidence.

Chapter 57

"Oof! Ow! Hurting! Ow!"
Geodude was not faring well...but it was still strong against Normal-type attacks.
"Pain! I'm feeling pain!"
Gary couldn't switch pokémon; however poor it was, Geodude's chance of surviving this was still the best.
"Where is pain coming from?"
Still every last star continued to strike Geodude. Gary thought it was Magneton's perfect aim...
"Ow! Ow! Now pain is on my face! Ow! Pain comes from this way!"
...until he noticed some stars were turning in mid-air to hit Geodude. They were homing stars!
"Ooh...shiny thing! Ow! Pain comes from shiny thing! Ow!"
Shiny thing...? Was Geodude working through its confusion?
"I want pain to stop..."
Come on...
"...I should stop shiny thing!"
"I've got to attack Magneton!"
Sydney paused. "Is that confidence you're wearing? Looks like you need an object lesson! The pebble should be weak enough...Magneton, finish it with your strongest attack!"
"Ha hah! That's more like it! Cry out in fear again!"
Sydney couldn't understand pokémon! He didn't realize Magneton's best attack was Electric-type!
Magneton began surrounding itself in electric power. All six magnets charged vigorously.
The move was useless! Magneton was wasting its time--and giving Geodude an opening. "Now, Geodude! Hit it hard and fast!"
"I'm comin' for ya, you big dumb 'shiny thing'!"
Magneton shot a huge column of electricity up through the roof and into the sky. Geodude tossed itself at Magneton. As the clouds reacted, rumbling more and more loudly, Geodude twisted and turned in midair, looking for a way to make Rock Throw do more damage. Finally it found a sharp point near its base and angled to hit Magneton with that.
A gigantic bolt of lightning struck down towards Geodude as Geodude struck Magneton. Shielding his eyes from Thunder's glare, Gary heard a loud thwack, a small tinkle of glass breaking, and then the crackling discharge of a billion or so volts of power. The brightness faded and Gary looked at the scene.
Sydney's eyes were bulging out of his head and his grin was twice as wide as normal. "Hahaha! Nice try, but Magneton is coated in shock-proof shielding!"
"Is that what I heard breaking, then?"
"WARNING! SYstEm failurE DUE to pOWer suRGE! Massive DAMA-- >bzzzt< ŐR¬'U^9ŘďŔ $$r{]ľÝÚ#ß.-,*´¶ą`€@Ą4Rk=? >bzzzt< SURGE RULZ DOODZ!!! 5URG3 ŘWN5 jŘŘ 411 >bzzzt< 0011100001100101100100001011001011100001110011001110111010010111010011 >bzzzt< ·':'· Pika... ·':'· Piiiiikkaaaaaaa........»«"
Magneton fell, lifeless, to the floor.
Sydney's grin finally faded as he fell to his knees in front of Magneton.
"NOOOOOOO!! My Maggie! I built you with my bare hands! You are indestructible! Nothing can stop you!"
"       "
Gary shifted uncomfortably. It was like Sydney had just lost his greatest friend.
"YOU!" Huh!? "You, you worthless pebble! You killed my Maggie!"
"Uh oh..."
"Grr...Electrode, EXPLOSION!" Sydney chucked a Pokéball at Geodude.
"Yike! Geodude, Harden and Defense Curl!"
"No problem!"
"Gonna blow...Gonna Blow, GONNA BLOW--"
"Keep Hardening!"
Electrode detonated with a force that knocked Gary and Sydney off their feet. Gary got up quickly and surveyed the damage. Electrode was rolling on its side, mind completely gone. Geodude...
Gary ran to the far wall where Geodude lay, blackened with soot and motionless.

Chapter 58

Geodude was completely covered in soot and ash. Gary couldn't even see its eyes. After Magneton's assualt, the point-blank Explosion had been a punishing blow.
He would forfeit to Sydney, and get Geodude to the Pokémon Center in case it could be saved. Geodude's life was more important than any badge. Gary took up Geodude's Pokéball.
"[coughing fit]"
"...I'm not...dead yet..."
"Can you make it?"
"...I'm getting...better..."
"MUCH better! Whoa!"
Gary took a step back as Geodude began glowing through the ash. Sydney looked up from the fallen Magneton, and his jaw dropped. Soot fell from Geodude's shifting, growing body.
"Check this out!"
"Oh, dear...I've acted unscientific..."
Gary turned to Sydney. "Shall we continue?"
Sydney was plainly worried now.

"You've destroyed Magneton and escaped Electrode; now face my final pokémon!" Sydney declared, throwing a Pokéball.
Gary crouched to Graveler's level. "You think you can handle another battle?"
"Yeah! I got a score to settle!"
Sydney's Pokéball opened.
"Huh? What's going on?"
Gary blinked. This pokémon looked familiar...he'd seen it in the Pokédex once...he gave up.
"Electabuzz. This Electric-type pokémon lives near sources of electricity such as power plants. It can cause blackouts if it wanders near cities."
This wasn't a robotic pokémon, this was a living Electric-type pokémon! Gary remembered that there were no other Electric-type robot pokémon than Magneton, Electrode, and their lesser forms. Sydney had probably concentrated on them, so this Electabuzz was poorly trained.
"All right, Graveler, go for it!"
"Comin' atchya!"
Graveler had an easier time with Rock Throw than Geodude. It just jumped. It folded all six limbs across itself to spin, and connected with Electabuzz. Both hit the floor, and Graveler continued its spin, steamrolling off Electabuzz and coming to a stop on the other side.
"Come on, Electabuzz! Get up!"
"I AM up! What are YOU doing on the wall?"
"Grumble...I never was good with the live ones..." Sydney recalled Electabuzz. "Fine, you win! I give up!"
Applause at the door to the main room startled Gary. Kate and the door guard were watching from the doorway.
"Great job, Gary!" Kate said.
"First time I've seen him lose in...well, ever!" The door guard commented.
"Yeah, and your first time, too! How'd you do that?"
"Just lucky, I guess."
"How'd you beat Magneton? We came when we heard the big explosion..."
"The Electrode, I think." The door guard filled in.
"Well..." Gary turned to Sydney and Magneton.
They weren't there.
"Hey, where'd Sydney go?"
"Probably to repair that Magneton. It looked pretty beat up!" The door guard commented.
"I...don't know if it can be repaired..." Gary said.
"Great," Kate said. "So who do I fight for my Thunder Badge?"

Chapter 59

"I guess I'll do it."
Kate turned. "Sam?"
The door guard nodded. "There are procedures to follow when the Gym Leader is unavailable...and from the look of that Magneton, he'll be unavailable for a long time. Extra pokémon are held in reserve for some other official at the Gym to use. Gary, how many pokémon did the Leader use?"
"Three. Magneton, Electrode, and Electabuzz."
"Okay, I'll get three reserve pokémon for Kate to battle."
"Thanks, Sam!"
"No problem. It's good to finally have something interesting happen around here."
Sam went through the only other door in the Gym Leader's arena.
"Uh, Gary? Evolving doesn't fully restore health, you know."
"Oh, sorry, Graveler! Kate, I need to head to the Pokémon Center. Good luck!"
"Thanks. See you later!"

The main room of the Gym was dark, except for a yellow glow to the left. Gary looked, and saw an Electabuzz working on something in the wall. "What the...Ditto, is that you?"
"Yes, it's me. One of Sydney's Electric attacks must have touched a wire somewhere, because all the power in the building went out shortly before the explosion in there."
"Probably when Magneton used Thunder...I'll bet that hit every wire in the room!"
"So now I'm working on the fuse to get the power back. As an Electabuzz I can make my own light to work by, I have an affinity with electricity, and I'm still humanoid enough to work with the wiring."
"Sam didn't see you Transform, did he?"
"No, I waited until he went to check on that explosion. What was that, anyway?"
"Sydney's Electrode used Explosion."
"So soon after Magneton was out? That wasn't a very scientific thing to do."
"Yeah, that's what he said. I've got to go to the Pokémon Center. See you later!"

Sam came back with three Pokéballs and a confused look. "The Leader isn't in there."
Kate paused. "He isn't? Where else could he be?"
"Maybe he went to the Pokémon Center...though I'd be very surprised..."
"Well, he just lost a Pokémon battle...that's where I'd go."
"You would, but the Leader would probably want to fix his Magneton and Electrode himself, and I don't think he cares enough about the Electabuzz to take it there."
"That's true. So, a three-on-three?"
"Absolutely. Jolteon, get ready!"
Jolteon emerged from the thrown Pokéball. "Jolllteon!"
Kate tossed her own Pokéball. "Let's go, Ivysaur!"
"Saur Ivysaur Ivy!"

Gary hurried to the Pokémon Center. He was going to drop off Graveler, go back to the Gym and come back for Graveler when Kate was finished. He didn't want to miss her getting her badge.
It occurred to Gary that he had never gotten the badge. Sydney had just left. He'd have to mention that to the door guard.
Gary reached the front desk. "Can I leave this pokémon with you and come back for it later?"
The pink-haired nurse used a scanner on the Pokéball. "Oh, my! This Graveler is very weak! What happened to it?"
"I just had a rough battle with the local Gym Leader."
"You fought the Gym Leader?" The nurse bit her lip. "Do you have any other pokémon to heal?"
"Oh, no, I beat him. It was just rough on Graveler."
"You defeated Sydney the Scientist!?"
At the first mention of the Gym Leader, people had started listening. Now everyone reacted. "Sydney's been beaten?" "He hasn't lost since he came here!" "Hey, that's the same kid who saved us all from Team Rocket!"
Gary sighed. He was going to be here a while.

Chapter 60

Gary hurried back to the Gym. The lights in the main room were back on, and Ditto, in human form, was sitting by the door to the Gym Leader arena. Sounds of battle came from the other side.
"How's Kate doing?"
"So far she's defeated a Jolteon and a normal Magneton..."
"Hey! Lemme go!"
"Nooo problem!"
"...and a Raichu."
"So, she's done, then?"
"I guess so." Ditto got up and went through the door with Gary.

Sam recalled the dazed Raichu. "I knew you'd win this one...after training so long against the Leader..."
The door opened. "Kate, congratulations!"
Kate turned to Gary. "Hi, Gary! ...Did you see Sydney at the Pokémon Center?"
"No, was he there?"
"I guess not...we can't find him."
"He could've been there...I couldn't see much beyond the crowd of people that surrounded me when they found out I beat him. ...Oh, speaking of which, Sam, he never gave me the Badge for that."
Sam paused in getting a badge from a locked drawer in one corner. "No, he didn't, did he?" He got out a second.
While Ditto watched from the doorway, Gary, Kate and Sam met in the middle of the room.
"Kate, Gary, your skill in pokémon training has earned you the Vermilion Gym Thunder Badge. Use it wisely, may the Psywave be with you, and all that...oh, I never was good at ceremony." Sam handed over the two Thunder Badges.
Gary looked at his Thunder Badge, wiped the dust off it and placed it in its frame in his Pokédex. Kate frowned at the dust on hers. "I hope things pick up around here soon!"
"They might if Sydney is gone for good." Gary noted.
"What makes you think that? Won't he come back when he's repaired Magneton?"
Gary shook his head. "You weren't there when Magneton fell. Sydney was like a mother watching her only son die. Even if he does fix the machine, I don't think the pokémon can return--at least not in his eyes."
Kate looked at the floor. "Wow."
Ditto thought for a moment. "Actually, now that I think about it, Sydney may have had this whole Gym Leader thing wrong. Somehow, he gained control of this Gym with his super pokémon, and has mercilessly crushed all opponents since. Now that he's finally beaten, he doesn't give the winner a trainer badge; he just leaves. Maybe he thought this was like being Pokémon League Champion; when the Gym Leader is defeated, the winner takes over as Gym Leader."
Sam turned in surprise. "Is that why he fought so hard?"
Ditto shrugged. "Just a theory."
Gary thought about that. "Yeah...he did act like the battle was for a lot more than a Badge. And when I beat up Electabuzz, he said I give up. That makes more sense if he was actually losing something. I thought it was his reputation, but maybe it wasn't. ...I can't be Gym Leader, though! I only have one Electric-type, and I've got the rest of my badge journey waiting!" And Team Rocket to crush, he added mentally...
Sam chuckled. "Oh, of course not. That's out of the question anyway. I'll just contact the Pokémon League and tell them Vermilion Gym needs a new Leader. They'll find some aspiring League trainer who's good with Electric-types and make a job offer."
"Great!" Kate said. "And we'll help spread the word on our travels that this Gym will soon be back to the way it used to be."
Sam the door guard smiled. Forget quitting; this job was finally going to get interesting!

Brad looked up at the sign above the entrance to this city. It looked freshly painted; the letters spelling out VERMILION CITY were newly bright and cheery. Lucky letters. Brad wasn't so cheery.
He'd finally gotten his Cascade Badge, but he'd never gotten to beat that annoying Seadra. The Gym Leader's Golduck had fully recovered and she had switched back. After all the training he'd done to beat Seadra, the Golduck hadn't been a problem. He had his Badge...but he'd had to leave a tough challenge behind.
After that, he'd headed south, in the direction of the nearest city with a Gym, only to find that city couldn't be entered. Something about a mutant Beedrill swarm. Then this other old guy had ushered him into this tunnel under the closed city to another one even further south. Then, his Charmander beat up a wild Mankey and evolved into Charmeleon--and now it wouldn't take orders! The lump just sat there whenever he tried to use it.
His Pokédex had snidely told him he needed to get even more trainer badges to make Charmeleon obey. Brad hoped there was a Gym here he could beat.
After getting directions to the city Gym from people who looked at him strangely, Brad found the place. There was no one at the door. Curious, Brad went up to the door and read the sign posted on it.
"VERMILION CITY POKÉMON GYM--Closed Until Further Notice"
"Wha--!? Oh, man!"

Gary and Kate's adventures continue on Page 4!