"Gary? What are you doing?"
"Changing pokémon for the trip to Lavender Town. I try to keep my pokémon at about the same level when I'm not concentrating on a Gym. I'll be raising my weaker pokémon on the way."
"That's a good idea! Maybe I'll do that too!"
Gary and Kate were moving east on Route 11. After earning their Thunder Badges, they were trying to solve the maze of clear paths, as a break from training as well as for fun.
"Looks like my lowest-level pokémon are Butterfree, Beedrill, Rattata...Drowzee...and a tie between Mankey and Sandshrew."
"So you're going to raise those six?"
"What, and deposit Ditto? Even if he isn't in his Pokéball, he's still with me."
"Oh, right." Kate waved to the Pidgey flying overhead. Ditto waggled his wings in response.
"Besides, I've been working on two other pokémon, Pidgey and female Nidoran, because they're just about to evolve. I just caught Drowzee and Sandshrew, and Mankey's a good fighter anyway. I guess I'll wait on those three."
Gary deposited Diglett, Graveler, Sandshrew, Bellsprout and Charmeleon from his Gym party, and withdrew Pidgey, Nidoran, Butterfree, Beedrill and Rattata. "Gee, I haven't used Rattata in quite a while!"
"Well, you've got a lot of better pokémon. Pikachu, Poliwhirl, Nidorino, Graveler...why do you need a Rattata?"
"I needed it when I caught it, and now that I have it I won't abandon it."
"Oh...That's kind of you."
"So who are you raising?"
"Hmm? Oh, let's see...Diglett, Meowth, Butterfree, Beedrill, Ekans, and...Rattata. I guess we're both raising Rattata for now!"
"Butterfree and Beedrill, too."
"Huh? Yeah, that's right!"
"Speaking of right..." Gary held his right arm out, stopping Kate. "Look over there." She looked where he was pointing, and saw the edge of the tall grass.
"Oh! We found the end of the maze!"
"That's not the only end you've found!" a new voice announced.
Gary and Kate looked at each other. "Huh?"
Smoke poured in from beyond the exit, blocking off their view of the world outside the maze.
"Prepare for trouble!"
"Make it double!"
Kate raised an eyebrow. "Huh?"
Gary thought, and whispered to Kate. "Not only are the voices familiar...I've heard these lines somewhere before..."
"To protect the world from devestation!"
"To unite all peoples within our nation."
Gary snapped his fingers. "I've got it! It's Team Rocket!"
"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"
Kate whispered back. "Are you sure?"
"It's their voices...and I think this was supposed to be a standard intro..."
"To extend our reach to the stars above!"
"Though I haven't heard it out of them too many times..."
The smoke began to clear and two shapes became visible.
Kate nodded. "Yup, it's them..."
"Team Rocket! Blast off at the speed of light!"
"Surrender now or prepare to fight!"
A new figure suddenly appeared between them. "That's right!"
Gary and Kate stared in surprise at the thing before them.
Bonnie snapped, "That's Gastly! Don't you recognize him?"
Gary carefully studied the purple, paper-fringed sock puppet on Clyde's left hand. "Yup, that's Gastly, all right! Glad to see he hasn't left you or anything..."
"This is sad..." Kate mumbled.
Bonnie was on her in a second. "What was that?"
"I said this is bad! We're up against the terrible Team Rocket!"
"Terrible is right..." Gary muttered.
"I don't think you appreciate us!" Clyde whined.
Gary exploded. Three jaws dropped as he launched into an impassioned rebuttal.
"Appreciate you? You guys are downright pathetic! I've beaten you three times already, once when you had an entire Team Rocket contingent at your disposal, and sent you to jail once! I tricked you into retreating from the Pewter City Pokémon Center with the greatest of ease! Your latest pokémon mascot is Sock-type! I've talked to Gastly recently; it was glad to be away from you two! Oh, and by the way, thanks for the Moon Stone you left behind in Mt. Moon!"
Bonnie reddened. "What!? My Moon Stone! You little brat!"
"That reminds me. You certainly are devoted to your 'assignments!' It was the explosion you made getting that Moon Stone that led me straight to you. And what exactly were you doing in Bill's Valley when you were supposed to be going after Ditto? Were you hoping I'd deposited him? Sorry, but not everyone is as big a fool as you two!"
Bonnie sniffed. "For your information, I was in the area and wanted to steal a Scyther." She briefly lost her angry look. "They're my favorite pokémon and it's my fondest dream to own one!"
Gary looked at Scyther's picture in his Pokédex. "Yeah, I can see that..."
Bonnie kept going. "I can just see it ripping and slicing at my command..." She finally snapped out of it. "Just like I oughta do to you!"
"First you ruin our first commanding job, then you insult us like this!" Clyde quivered in anger. "Ooh, you'll pay!"
"And to think I passed up Pay Day," Gary yawned. "Is it too late to catch a Meowth, I wonder?"
"Shut up and act scared!"
Kate, looking from Gary to Team Rocket and back, backed up nervously. A Spearow landed on her shoulder, surprising her. "Oh! You're Ditto, aren't you? Gary's really getting himself into trouble!"
Ditto mimed a really grumpy person stomping around, then trying to attack something and only hurting himself.
"You mean he's trying to get them mad enough to do something stupid? But he's carrying his five weakest pokémon!"
Ditto shrugged. He pointed to Gary and then to his head, meaning Gary was smart.
"Huh? Gary's a birdbrain?"
"Okay, okay...I'll take that as a no." Kate looked back to the one-sided argument.
"That does it! You need a lesson! Sandslash, attack!"
"Ekans, show him who's boss!"
Gary grinned. "I'm sure it will. Pidgey, Sand-Attack!"
Sandslash ran at Gary. Ekans slithered toward him. Both halted at the sandstorm summoned by Pidgey. Sandslash shielded its eyes with its claws, but Ekans got it full in the face.
Gary thought about Pidgey's experience level. "Quick Attack Ekans!"
Sandslash stabbed downward with its claws, but was too late by half a second to catch Pidgey on its way to the blinded Ekans. Pidgey knocked Ekans a few feet away, then used Gust. Ekans tried to fight the wind, but it just wasn't built to hold on to things. It rolled back on itself and sprawled at Clyde's feet. Clyde recalled it, his face livid.
"Pidgey, fly up!" Gary's warning came too late. Sandslash's claws caught Pidgey's talons and pulled Pidgey to the ground with a thud. Pidgey extracted itself and used Sand-Attack. This time, Sandslash was too close to ground-zero to protect itself, and backed away from the billowing sand.
Gary watched Pidgey nervously. "Come on...Ekans should have been enough!"
Pidgey started glowing.
Bonnie and Clyde stared at Pidgey, startled. "What!?"
Pidgey grew quickly. Unlike most of Gary's evolved pokémon, Pidgey didn't stop at half-again its old height. When the glow faded, Gary's Pidgeotto stood at over three times Pidgey's height. It sported a bright crest of red feathers and its wingspan was impressive.
Sandslash blinked at the new larger shape before it, then charged. Pidgeotto dug into the ground with its talons and pumped its wings massively. Sandslash stopped its advance again as it was hit by Gust. It dug its hind claws into the ground and held its position, but it couldn't do anything from here.
"Sandslash, Dig under! It can't hit you there!"
Gary grinned. There was the big mistake. "Keep pumping, Pidgeotto!"
Sandslash tried to start Digging, but it couldn't with its feet secured. It lifted its feet--and Gust took over. Sandslash fell on its back, curled instinctively, and started rolling back toward Bonnie. Gary recognized Buzzsaw, the lethal move Bonnie had created.
Bonnie recognized it as well. She ran to one side, and then recalled Sandslash as it rolled past. "Cute! Real cute! Well, you can't use Nidorino's killer move against me! Nidorino, Poison Slam!"
"Pidgeotto, back up and--"
Something was definitely wrong here.
Nidorino jumped and did a half-somersault, aiming for Pidgeotto with its poison spikes. Pidgeotto backed almost up to Gary and started using Gust. The wind hit Nidorino, who lost control of his landing and hit the ground where Pidgeotto had been head-first. He slowly tilted onto his stomach as his horn wrenched free of the ground.
"Nidorino, get up and attack it!"
Snarling, Bonnie recalled Nidorino. Team Rocket wasn't finished, though. Clyde threw something, saying, "Gastly, attack!"
He was sending a sock into battle!? Gary recalled Pidgeotto; he could handle this himself.
"Gary, Power Grab!" Gary snatched the sock out of the air. "Now, Fringe Strip!" He ripped off the purple paper that was supposed to be Gastly's darkflame.
Clyde broke down. "No! You're torturing Gastly!"
Gary continued the charade. "Now, finish it off with Mega Mock!" Gary put the sock on his own hand and spoke in a ridiculously goofy voice. "I am Sockly! Watch me fail to console Team Rock-Head after rejection from their former teammate! I am all-powerless! Bwahahahaha!"
"What!?" Gary dropped the act and spun to where Ditto was calling from the grass. "How'd it catch fire?"
Kate, surprised, glanced at her shoulder. She'd been too caught up in Gary's antics to notice Ditto leaving it.
Bonnie and Clyde gasped in unison. "Our fires!" They dashed through the exit to where they had first appeared.
Gary and Kate followed. "You built fires here?"
On either side of the exit, little shelters had been built around burning firewood, with a door for letting out smoke when needed. The shelters, however, had been built from wood, and had now caught fire themselves. The fire had quickly spread to the grass of the maze.
Gary slowly turned to Team Rocket. "You built fire shelters out of wood!? This is not your--hey!"
"Your hey?" Kate asked, puzzled.
Team Rocket had fled the fire, leaving Gary and Kate to deal with it.
"What do we do? Neither of us has any Water-types with us..."
"Hmm...you have Diglett with you, right? If Diglett can dig a trench around the fire, that'll keep the fire from spreading until I can get Poliwhirl here."
"Fire can't burn across dirt, and there's no wind to carry embers across the trench."
"Ditto! I forgot about you! You could just become a Water-type!"
"Ah. Kate, Ditto wants to make the trench anyway."
"Okay! Come out, Diglett!"
"Dig a trench around the fire to keep it in! Sandslash will help!"
Diglett took off for one edge of the fire, and Ditto tunneled towards the other. Gary whipped out his Pokédex, started pressing buttons...and stared at the purple sock still on his arm. He pulled it off, stuck it in his backpack for now, and set about getting Poliwhirl into his team.
Gary chuckled. "Actually, Team Rocket did this. We have Ground-type pokémon keeping the fire from spreading further. Now we just have to douse the flames."
Poliwhirl hit one edge of the fire with Water Gun. Smoke rose from the place as the fire was quenched. Keeping the water pumping, Poliwhirl stepped into the grass.
Diglett emerged from the edge of the flame, Ditto close behind. ""
"Good! Poliwhirl's working through the fire over here. Can you meet it in the middle?"
Ditto tunneled back to the other side of the fire.
Poliwhirl continued to use Water Gun in an expanding arc. The fire couldn't spread very far into places Poliwhirl had been, because the grass was wet, and by the time the fire recovered any territory, Poliwhirl was back there to push it even farther away.
Suddenly, two huge columns of water shot through the middle of the fire, narrowly missing Poliwhirl. Ditto, as Blastoise, stepped into the drenched region and fired twice more, to the right and to the left. While Poliwhirl covered what flames Hydro Pump had missed, Ditto worked on the border at the trench.
Kate cheered. "Wow! Way to go, Ditto!"
"Okay. Thanks." Gary recalled Poliwhirl.
Kate looked on at Poliwhirl and Gary's interchange. As Ditto finished off the last of the fire, she turned to Diglett. "Hey Diglett, say something."
Kate heard Gary's chuckle. She sighed. "Maybe I should take those courses in Cerulean City..."
"Ditto, you're not helping," Gary said through as straight a face as he could manage. "...what's a Muk, or do I want to know?"
"" Ditto said, Transforming again and flying up to perch on Gary's shoulder. ""
Gary gave Ditto a funny look, got out his Pokédex and looked up Muk. "Ewww! Disgusting!"
"What?" Kate looked over.
"Remember Grimer from Vermilion City? Picture its evolved form."
Kate shuddered in response. "On second thought, I don't think I want to see it."
Gary closed his Pokédex, paused, opened it again and deposited Poliwhirl to return Beedrill to his team. Then he shut the Pokédex, pocketed it and looked out across the burned and soaked edge of Route 11's grass maze.
"We should probably tell someone about all this...but I don't want to head all the way back to Vermilion City..."
"It's okay," Kate answered. "Look, there's a lookout tower over there! We can tell whoever's in there about it."
"Ah, good!" Gary turned toward the lookout tower at the end of Route 11. If he remembered his map right, going through this tower would put them in the middle of Route 12.
Kate recalled Diglett, and Ditto hopped off Gary's shoulder and Transformed into his human form. The three headed to the lookout tower.
As Gary stepped through the door, someone entered the room from an upper floor and asked, "Hey, are you Gary Ford?"
"Umm, yeah, why?"
"Well...hold on." The man called up the stairway. "Yes, but why do they want to know?"
Kate poked Gary from behind. "Hey, what's going on? Can I come in?"
"Oh, sure. Sorry." Gary moved further inside to let Kate and Ditto through.
The man at the stairs got an answer from the upper floor, and repeated it to Gary. "That was the Vermilion City Fire Department asking. We saw the fire and called them, and then had to call them again to say never mind when we saw you were putting it out yourself. When we gave them a sketchy description, they asked about the name. Apparently you've already done some notable things in the city; they thought it might be you again."
"You saw us doing all that?" Gary asked.
Ditto put a hand to his forehead. "I should have seen this coming. This is a lookout tower; it's their job to look around."
Kate crossed her arms. "I don't suppose they asked about Kate Fields?"
"Huh? No, why?"
Kate turned to Gary. "Is there just something about you? People keep forgetting I was part of freeing the city from Team Rocket!"
Ditto frowned. "Did you see me do anything?"
By now the person upstairs had come down as well. The two looked at each other uncomfortably. "Uh, no, why? Say, you weren't there when these two beat the elite Team Rocket members and put out the fire, were you?"
Visibly relieved, Ditto shook his head. "No, I joined them on the way to this tower."
Gary raised a question. "Elite members? What's elite about them?"
"You defeated two of them and you didn't know that? Those two were wearing Rocket Elite costumes. They're the best agents Team Rocket has. They do solo or small team field missions, and if needed they can order around the common crooks that make up most of Team Rocket."
Gary thought back to entering Vermilion City. The stooges patrolling the streets were being led by Bonnie and Clyde, and Bonnie and Clyde had different outfits than the rest of them...more flashy. "Wow! I guess I never really thought about it!"
Kate got a weird look on her face. "Those two are the best Team Rocket has? I pity Team Rocket!"
"Well, to be perfectly fair, Bonnie deserves a lot of credit for creating the killer moves her pokémon use. I really chewed their ears off back there, but the truth is, I almost didn't survive the battle in Mt. Moon." Gary looked over at the two people stationed here; one of them had gone back up, and the other wasn't really paying attention anymore. Gary said, "I didn't beat them in Bill's Valley, either; Bill did."
"Where is Bill's Valley? I haven't heard of it until now."
"You know who Bill is? The really famous pokémologist? Well, he lives northeast of Cerulean City, and there's this hidden valley he lives near, where everybody's pokémon go when they're deposited."
"Wow! And you've been there?"
"That's right," Ditto said, watching the other man go up the stairs. "I gained nearly all of my current forms from his valley. When we arrived I had maybe twenty forms to choose from. Now I have about that many still to get!"
"Also," Gary threw in, "Bill's the one teaching those classes on pokémon speech."
"Wow! Now I really want to go there!"
Ditto thought for a moment. "Gary, what's our travel plan again?"
Gary pushed open the door on the other end of the lookout tower. "Well, we're planning on going north from here to Lavender Town, then west to Saffron City. Depending on the situation, we might try to attack Team Rocket there, or we might use the...Saffron Tunnel to reach Celadon City."
"Well," Ditto smiled. "It might be a good idea to attack when we next get the chance, because then we can get back to Cerulean City more easily, Kate can take that course and we can stop having trouble with translating!"
Kate blushed. "Oh, don't rescue an entire city on my account!"
The laughter of the three travelers faded into the distance of Route 12...and a figure emerged from the bushes by the lookout tower, too close to the building to be seen by the people on the upper floors.
"We'll see who laughs when I'm through with them!"
Gary and Kate walked north along the twisted docks that made up Route 12, on the eastern shore of the continent. The docks were strung between various small islands in the ocean, too small to hold any wild pokémon. There was a man fishing on one, though.
"Hello there!" Gary called. "How are the fish biting?"
"Swell if you like Magikarp," the man replied. "They're all I ever seem to catch."
"Oh..." Gary decided a change of subject was in order. "Uhh...are there any wild pokémon along this path? We want to train our pokémon on our way to Lavender Town..."
"Sorry, nope. The only pokémon around here are the Water-types in the water! Unless you can fish for 'em, you're outa luck."
"Oh." Gary still didn't have a fishing rod. Every time he was in a town or city where he could buy one, he forgot how useful they were.
The man's fishing rod twitched. "Hey, I got something!" He reeled it in. "Maybe this time it won't be..."
"Another...Magikarp..." The man cocked his foot to kick it, but then just stood back and watched it flop its way off the dock and back into the ocean. "Aw, they're not even worth the effort of kicking 'em."
Gary thought about Magikarp. It was famous for being the most pathetic pokémon in existance. It did have one thing going for it, though. If a dedicated trainer raised it to a high enough level, it would evolve into one of the deadliest pokémon in existance: Gyarados. Gary felt up to the challenge. Besides, he wanted a Gyarados because it would suit him, what with his old nickname, Gary-dos...not to mention his destructiveness. The list of disasters he'd caused began running through his mind again, but he pushed it away for now.
"Hey, do you think you could let me capture the next Magikarp you catch? I mean, if you're so disinterested..."
Gary deposited his new Magikarp. It wouldn't be in any shape to battle until he could heal it. Besides, if there were no wild pokémon here unless you had a fishing rod, then the only battles Gary would be fighting were trainer battles. He wasn't about to send Magikarp into a trainer battle in any circumstance.
He could deposit Pidgeotto as well--it had evolved, and now Gary would focus on Nidoran to evolve her--but there was something about Pidgeotto's recent attitude adjustment that told Gary the pokémon needed a good talking to. He'd try to sort out Pidgeotto's problem while they spent the night in Lavender Town.
Catching Magikarp had taken a toll on the pokémon Gary had used. The Magikarp was weaker than a baby Caterpie, but it was very energetic. Gary had had a hard time lowering its life enough to make it stay in the Pokéball without killing it. Luckily, he hadn't had to worry about stopping the Magikarp from flopping back into the sea; strangely, the Magikarp had seemed content to try to fight back, weak as it was. It hadn't been a usual catch with the rod, either; the Magikarp had seemed to jump onto the hook after a good three minutes of waiting. Gary curiously eyed the Goldeen keeping pace with him and Kate; maybe Ditto had found the toughest Magikarp in the school and forced it onto the hook. A friend helping at the merest opportunity...or a fish eager to get this over with so they could part ways with the fisherman? Gary smiled at the moral question.
Gary thought about Lavender Town, the place they were headed for now. The map indicated it was in mountainous territory. All Gary knew about it beyond that was that there was an expert on Ghost-type pokémon there. Maybe that was just coincidental...but Gary hoped it wasn't. A creepy haunted village sounded exciting. Maybe he could even get his own Gastly! They weren't all as smart--or annoying--as Team Rocket's, Gary was certain.
That thought brought Gary to their final destination: Saffron City, now choked with evil by Team Rocket. He still wasn't sure how they could pull off a victory there...maybe having a Ghost-type pokémon would help somehow? Of course, if they needed a Ghost-type Ditto could become one. Aside from Gastly, Ditto had that Haunter form, that had scared away Team Rocket's Gastly.
Gary tried to put that out of his mind for now. He looked ahead toward the north end of Route 12. Faraway cliffs were starting to come into view. Gary's map showed the northeastern mountains coming right up to the sea. Route 12's twisting docks must lead up to a mountain pass.
Gary looked at those cliffs. They were getting closer to Lavender Town. A thought occurred to Gary; if Lavender really was haunted, might they be going to Team Rocket's Gastly's home town? Did it have friends here, and would they know Gary and Kate as the enemy of a friend?
Gary frowned. His thoughts kept circling on Team Rocket's Gastly. He chased down the line of thought and realized he was anxious about seeing Gastly. The ghost pokémon had attacked twice in the day after Gary and Kate had beaten Team Rocket in Vermilion City, but Gastly hadn't shown up in the four days after that. Maybe the threat of Haunter had kept it away, but it wouldn't stay away forever.
"Something wrong, Gary? You look so moody..."
"Hmm? Oh, sorry, Kate. I was thinking about Gastly. It's been a while since we've seen it last...It might attack again."
"Do you really think so?"
"Remember, it said I'll be back as it fled from Ditto in Haunter form."
"Maybe it was just trying to scare us?"
"What, while it was worked up enough to lapse into pokémon language?"
Gary knelt by the edge of the dock. "Ditto, what do you think? Should we keep an eye out for Gastly?"
"Wouldn't it need to make itself evolve to get strong enough to beat you?"
"Hey--if that's true, it could attack any minute! We're wide open here. There's no place a Haunter could hide where you could still see it!"
Kate cut in. "Okay, I'm almost following you..."
"Ditto says Gastly will attack if it thinks it can avoid Ditto as Haunter, if it's been training itself to beat Haunter, or if it thinks Ditto's a normal Ditto and we had a Haunter hidden nearby the last time."
"And it would take a while for Gastly to train itself enough, but if it's the third one, it could attack right now?"
Kate quickly looked around. "I hope it's not the third one..."
At last, Gary and Kate reached the cliffs where the Route 12 dock led up to a trail into the mountains. Ditto swam up to the dock, jumped up and Transformed into a Mankey, climbing partway up a nearby cliff face.
Gary and Kate stepped onto the ground...and purple smoke began to filter in through cracks in the rock.
Gary turned to the petrified Kate. "It was the third one."
"They're entering the pass!"
"Good! Get back here and help me push!"
Clyde ran back behind the huge boulder they'd found recently. By the time they shoved it off the edge, Gary would be right in its path, and Team Rocket's honor would be salvaged!
Gary thought fast. Gastly could see Ditto was in the area, and it was apparently still a Gastly, so it must be sure there were no Haunter nearby for Ditto to Transform into. Ditto couldn't Transform into Haunter now without giving away his secret, and it was worthless for him to Transform into Gastly. If Gary or Kate took on Gastly they might not win.
The only solution, Gary decided as Gastly finished forming before them, was to avoid facing Gastly in battle completely!
"Well, if it isn't Gastly, formerly of Bonnie, Clyde and Gastly Enterpri--"
"Stop associating me with them! I have broken all ties with those fools!"
"Ah, I see you have. They've done as much themselves. I had a chat with them just recently, and they'd already replaced you with a new team mascot: a sock puppet Gastly. They seemed to think it would be worth about as much as you were."
"It's true! They even sent the sock puppet into battle against me, no doubt figuring it had as good a chance of winning as you did!"
Gastly's darkflame grew larger and darker in the pokémon's ire. "They did, did they?"
"Yup, but I was able to capture it. See?" Gary whipped out the sock from his backpack. "Now, the paper darkflame was lost in combat, but don't you agree there's an uncanny resemblance in those button eyes?"
Gastly stared at the puppet in horror and loathing. "The next time my button eyes lay upon those two incompetent buffoons, I'll give them a sock they'll remember!" Then, its darkflame settled down to a more normal level. "However, right now I have you in front of me instead, and I won't be distracted from my assignment: your destruction!"
Gary gulped and took a step back. So much for that idea. Kate reached for one Pokéball, then another, trying to decide who might have a chance...
Suddenly Gastly's darkflame grew darker again. Gastly noted this and looked up in surprise as the shadow that had fallen on it grew. Gary and Kate saw the falling boulder and jumped backwards as it landed--right on top of Gastly!
Two figures appeared at the top of the surrounding cliffs. "Did we get him?"
Gary looked up. It was Bonnie and Clyde! They couldn't have dropped the rock on Gastly on purpose; Gastly hated them with a passion, but they actually missed it. The boulder must have been meant for him and Kate. Gary got a wicked idea and put Phase 2 of detouring Gastly in action.
"Hey, thanks, Team Rocket! We got stopped when Gastly appeared right where we would have been standing, but you dropped that boulder on it before it could get us! I'm glad you're watching out for our safety!" Kate gave him a strange look and started giggling.
"Gastly!" Clyde shouted, half running and half sliding down the cliff face. Purple mist started to seep out from around the rock, and by the time Clyde had reached the bottom, with Bonnie not far behind, Gastly had fully formed above the boulder and was glaring at Clyde.
"So. First you have the gall to replace me with a sock puppet, and then you drop a boulder on me! Just when I was about to destroy two enemies of Team Rocket! I was satified to never see you again, but now I think you need a lesson!"
"No, Gastly, it was an accident, I swear! We were aiming for those kids...and the sock puppet was...to remind us of your...dominating presence!"
Gastly went solid black. "I have the dominating presence of a sock puppet!?"
Bonnie cut in. "Never mind Clyde's tactlessness, all of us should be focusing on those two brats and that Ditto!"
"Hey, that's right!"
"For once, I agree with you!"
They looked around...and saw a strap from Kate's backpack disappear around the bend.
"Now look what you've done! They got away!"
"Us? If you hadn't started arguing with us, they wouldn't have escaped!"
"If you hadn't dropped this boulder on me, They wouldn't have had the chance in the first place!"
"If you hadn't stopped them, it wouldn't have fallen on you!"
"That was too close..."
Gary and Kate stopped to catch their breath. Ditto turned back to the last curve and peered down the path. ""
"They're not? Probably still arguing with each other..."
Kate turned to Gary. "You're good at that, you know..."
"Good at what?"
"Playing these mind games with them. I'd forgotten you still had that sock! Say...where is it?"
"I guess I dropped it back there when the boulder fell. It was a one-time shot anyway; I don't need it now."
"Hauntah Hauntah Hauntah!"
Kate stared at the Haunter holding a sign that read "Welcome to Lavender Town: The Home of the Ghost Pokémon!"
"Uh, Gary, what did it say?"
Gary barely spared the chuckling Haunter a second glance. "Nothing. Just 'Haunter Haunter Haunter'."
"Yes, I know it's a robot."
"That's a robot?...oh, hey, you're right!"
Ditto Transformed into human form for travel in town. "Strange, though...that sign looks like something you'd see at a tourist trap. I might expect that from, say, Fucshia City, but not Lavender Town."
Kate turned to Ditto. "What's in Fucshia City?"
"The Safari Zone, a pokémon reserve slash ranch slash amusement park slash zoo slash everything else. There are several pokémon that can only be caught in the Safari Zone."
Kate looked back in the direction of the sign. "Can you catch Ghost pokémon anywhere else than here?"
"...Not that I know of."
"Then what's the difference?"
"Attitude. The Safari Zone is easily Fucshia City's greatest source of income, and they flaunt it. Lavender Town folk tend to be more down-to-earth."
"I'll say! Why, some of us are six feet under it! Haw!"
Gary, Kate and Ditto all did a double-take. They had entered the small valley in which Lavender Town had been built. Ditto turned to the man wearing a "Welcome to Lavender Town" T-Shirt who had made the comment. "That...wasn't funny."
"It wasn't? Aww...I'm gonna have to come up with some good jokes..."
Kate blinked. "You go around telling bad jokes to everyone?"
The man tried to look cheerful. "I...uh...greet new travelers to Lavender Town, with...uh...a laugh and a smile!"
Gary was a study in deadpan technique. "I don't suppose you get paid for this?"
"I haven't been here in a while..." Ditto interrupted. "What on earth happened around here? I don't remember this place so focussed on tourism."
The welcomer dropped his false cheer. "Times have been hard around here lately. We have to exploit Pokémon Tower now to bring in enough revenue. It really doesn't feel right, though."
"Pokémon Tower?" Gary asked. "Is that where all the Ghost pokémon are?"
"Yes, that's right." Ditto said. "It was originally a pokémon morgue, but the spirits of deceased pokémon took it over."
"I see you two are trainers," the welcomer said. "If you want to try your luck at catching one, I can show you the way."
Kate clapped excitedly. "Oh, yes, please! I'd love my own Gastly!"
Gary nodded. "Sounds worth a try."
"The ghosts are more active at night, so by now they should be starting to rouse. You can buy Ghost Balls at the booth to the right. Good Luck!" The welcomer turned and headed back for the mountain pass.
Pokémon Tower stood before the three travelers. It resembled nothing so much as a giant black evil totem pole with doors and windows. If this had once been a serious facility, the ghosts had done a bit of redecorating.
Kate shied away. "That place gives me the creeps...and we're not even there yet!"
Ditto looked at the dark purple booth at the tower's base. "Ghost Balls...? I wonder..."
Gary frowned. If any building looked like the home of Gastly, this was it. What if Team Rocket's Gastly had thought to put in a bad word for Gary, Kate and Ditto?
The three headed for the tower, but Ditto turned for the booth. "Gary, Kate. If my guess is right, you won't be able to catch any Gastly without some of these."
Gary turned to the booth. "What? Ghost Balls?"
"My guess is it's a special kind of Pokéball made for capturing Ghost-type pokémon..."
"That makes sense." Gary and Kate went into the booth with Ditto.
"Ah, hello! You want to catch some Ghost pokémon? You've come to the right place! You can't pull it off without one of these special Ghost Balls! Specially made to draw the ectoplasmic substance of Gastly and Haunter to its unique..."
Ditto cleared his throat. "Enough with the ludicrous sales pitch. Is there actually any scientific basis behind a success rate peculiar to these Ghost Balls in capturing Ghost-type pokémon?"
The salesman immediately switched tracks, leaving Gary and Kate in the dust before long. "Aha, a fellow man of science! Very well, I'll give it to you straight, but no ripping me off because these babies are Pokémon League authorized and copyrighted. You know that the standard Pokéball is designed to open for capture upon contact with a target pokémon. Ghost-type pokémon are noncorporeal, however, so are essentially immune to this method since the Pokéball never strikes its target. These special Ghost Balls, however, are primed to open for capture exactly two seconds after initial expansion to utility mode--the average duration of shifting to a throwing posture, releasing the ball and having it reach the intended target. Thus, despite the fact that there is nothing dense enough for the ball to make contact with, it can still capture the pokémon as long as your timing is at least roughly average. So, you see, these things are the real deal!" The final sentence caught Gary by surprise and saved him from a trip to the floor.
"Are they equipped with Seventh Ball?"
"But of course!"
Kate blinked, slightly in a daze. "Seventh what? Is that something that reverses the polarity of the nuetron flow, or..."
Ditto chuckled. "These are genuine. I'll explain how they work later."
"So, what's 'Seventh Ball'?"
Ditto closed the booth's door flap behind him. "Well, you know that pokémon trainers are only allowed to carry six pokémon at a time. That's why you're only given six Pokéballs to start your badge-collecting journey. You've just bought a seventh ball, however. You're still not allowed to carry more than six pokémon, so all specially bought Pokéballs such as these are equipped with the Seventh Ball Teleport System. As soon as a Pokéball with that system installed captures a pokémon, it teleports itself to Bill's cottage, where the captured pokémon is put into your pokémon storage system. The ball, assuming it's still in good condition, is sent back to the distributor for resale."
"So it keeps trainers from cheating by carrying more different pokémon at once than they should?" Kate summarized.
"So, what makes these Ghost Balls so special?" Gary asked. "Why can't we catch Ghost pokémon without them?"
"If you threw a normal pokéball it would just pass through the pokémon, no matter how weak it was. Assuming you throw the ball at normal speed, these Ghost Balls will open for capture right about when they reach the pokémon, even though they pass through instead of hitting it."
"That was what that guy said? Why didn't he just say it normally?"
"It makes him look smart." Ditto shrugged. "A lot of people do that."
Gary put a hand on the door of Pokémon Tower. "So, are we all ready to plunge into the unknown?"
Kate nodded silently, and Ditto just cocked his head and smiled.
Gary opened the door and they all stepped through.
"Wow! I thought there was a window in this room!"
"There is one...at least from the outside."
"Then how can it be pitch black in here? The sun hasn't set yet..."
"You get the feeling this place could care less?"
Kate started in the sudden orange light from Ditto's Magmar body. "What is that?"
Gary raised an eyebrow. "That's a Magmar. Ditto Transformed into it because its body glows like that. But, why Magmar? You have more mainstream fire-types now, right?"
"Ah...good point." Gary turned to Kate. "It's because--"
"Because the light's more even this way?"
Gary stopped. "Uh, yeah...how'd you know?"
"I took a guess...I remembered the way the light always flickered when your Charmeleon lit the way in Diglett's Cave."
"Ah...that was smart of you!"
Rather than comment, Ditto applauded Kate's reasoning. Then he started for the only door in the room besides the one they'd entered by...and stopped. ""
Gary chuckled. "Well, we don't want the whole place going up in smoke, do we? I'll open it." He walked to the door and put his hand on the knob.
It passed right through.
Gary blinked. He grabbed for the knob again. His hand passed through. "I can't touch the doorknob!"
Kate walked over. "Maybe the door's illusion?"
Gary tried walking through the doorway--and hit the door. "Nope...solid..."
A gleeful chuckle came through the door.
Kate blanched. "What was that?"
Ditto frowned. ""
"Good idea!" Gary swept a hand around the area of the knob, and found something solid a few inches below the fake knob. He tried turning it. Nothing happened. "It won't budge!" The laughter behind the door grew.
"" Ditto looked around, and then walked a few feet away to where a candle rested on a shelf. He used Ember on the candle, lighting it, then Transformed. The room darkened, but the candle kept all of the darkness from returning. Gary could make out the shape of a Machoke standing where the Magmar had been. Ditto picked up the candle, walked back to the door, passed the candle to Kate, and then used Karate Chop on the door, which splintered.
A Gastly, right behind the door, backed up in surprise.
Gary sent out Butterfree. "Stun Spore!" Gastly was Ghost/Poison-type, so Butterfree's Confusion was Gary's best bet out of his current party. Stun Spore would hold Gastly until Butterfree could charge up a good attack.
Gary clutched his Ghost Ball. This battle was as good as won.
"Well, that battle was won from the start."
Gary shrugged in response to Kate's mild sarcasm. The Gastly had barely put up a fight. It must be rather low-level. "Maybe the next one will be more of a challenge."
They looked around the room they had just entered, lit by the candle in Kate's hand. Ditto became Magmar again to ease the eyestrain, and Gary found another candle which was lit from Kate's. This room showed signs of the facility this building had been once. There was a desk where Gary could picture a receptionist working. Curious, he stepped up to the desk and saw the trappings of a work station, including a small photo, probably of loved ones. At least, it had been once.
"Looks like the ghosts here all have a sense of humor," Gary said, showing Kate and Ditto the picture of a Haunter sticking its tongue out.
After a few more minutes of poking around, Kate started opening the various doors in the room to see where each led. None were blocked. One was a closet, two more were hallways and a fourth revealed a staircase going up. After a quick check showing nothing of interest in the closet, Gary, Kate and Ditto considered the three options.
"I'll bet most of the ghosts hang out on the upper floors," Kate suggested.
"There's nothing keeping us from taking the stairs later," Gary translated from Magmarish for Kate. "We should probably check out all of the first floor before continuing to other floors." Then he considered. "On the other hand," he said, speaking for himself, "we are here to catch Gastly, not to salvage the building, and it's getting late. The ghosts may come out at night, but we don't."
Ditto ceded the point. They headed for the stairs, but just as Gary, behind the others, stepped on the first step, he heard a voice behind him. A Gastly was coming down into the room they were leaving through the ceiling.
At the sound, Kate came back down the stairs, brushing past Gary, and the new Gastly spotted the motion immediately.
Gary whispered to Kate, "From what it's said, I think it was here to take over guard duty for the one I caught, and it knows one of us caught it!"
That was a dirty trick. Gary wondered how many humans had lost their lives this way. He quickly whispered, "He asked a question, and the answer's five!"
Kate took a defiant posture. "Five, of course!"
"So what if I did? That's a pretty lousy trick to pull!"
Kate finally took up a Pokéball. "Enough talk! Get'm, Butterfree!"
Gastly went for Butterfree with its tongue. Butterfree flew upward, dodging, while Gary made a mental note to find out what Ghost-type move involved the tongue. Gastly matched Butterfree's altitude. The two kept rising until Butterfree hit the cieling. Gastly passed through it, then came back down to gloat at the dazed Butterfree.
Butterfree switched tactics and flapped at Gastly as though using Gust, but releasing light blue powder at the same time. It couldn't really fly that way, and it started to fall, but it caught itself before hitting the ground. The attack had done its job. Gastly, caught off-guard by the unusual delivery, had been hit with the powder's effect and remained floating near the cieling.
"Good job, Butterfree! Now, hit it hard with Confusion!"
Butterfree charged up as much psychic energy as it could for a bigger hit as Gastly continued sleeping. Then, it wound up and zapped Gastly with an impressive amount of power. Gastly woke up, but now it was too weakened to fight back or do much of anything else. Kate took out her Ghost Ball, took it out of storage mode and threw the ball up at the Gastly.
Two seconds after she had expanded the ball, it opened.
It had not yet reached the Gastly.
The ball glowed briefly as it tried to draw in the pokémon that wasn't there. Then, it gave up, and right after the glow faded, the ball reached the Gastly and passed through. The opened section hit the cieling, the ball was forced further open and the joint cracked. The ball fell to the ground in two halves.
Everyone stared, motionless, at the broken Ghost Ball. Kate slumped in defeat. Gastly managed a weak cackle. ""
Gary thought fast. The match couldn't end this way. There had to be some way to capture the Gastly. They should have bought more than one Ghost Ball each. Too late for that now. If only the ball hadn't hit the cieling...
Hitting the cieling!
"Wait a minute, Kate. Try a normal Pokéball!"
"What? But that won't work, will it?"
Gary lowered his voice to exclude the Gastly. "It wouldn't work because it can't hit the Gastly. What if it hits the cieling? It shouldn't break like the Ghost Ball because it won't be open yet, and it should be close enough to the Gastly when it hits to capture it!"
"Hey, yeah! I can see that!"
Hurriedly, Kate emptied a Pokéball, and then threw it upward. Gastly made no move to avoid it; it assumed the ball couldn't strike its target. It hadn't guessed the right target. The ball struck the cieling, opened for capture, found the Gastly and drew it in.
"Yes!" Kate ran forward and caught the Pokéball as it fell.
"Well, assuming Ditto doesn't want a Gastly, are we ready to go?" Gary asked.
Kate stepped through the remains of the door Ditto had "opened." The light, gone for a moment, returned as Ditto left the form he had chosen to pass by the wood shards left in the doorframe.
The light revealed five Gastly and a Haunter right in front of the main door.
"" "" "" "" ""
Kate turned to Gary. "I take it they want a fight?"
"They want the Gastly we caught, or we don't leave alive."
"After all I went through to get mine? No way!"
Suddenly, the Gastly and Haunter paused. Then the Haunter came forward.
!? How could they know...unless... "Yes, that's right, why?"
Uh oh. "Umm...does he hang around with humans in goofy outfits?"
"" The Haunter made it sound like a federal offense. ""
The Gastly began to split into two groups to the left and right, chanting, "" and "" The Haunter moved to one side as well. Ditto tensed for the upcoming battle, and Gary's hands danced among his Pokéballs for someone else who could handle this many enemies...
"Wh-what!?" Only now did Gary realize the parting Gastly had left the doorway exposed.
Haunter frowned. ""
"" "" "" "" ""
"Uh, what's so funny?" Kate nervously asked Gary.
Gary smiled. "They're letting us go free. Team Rocket's Gastly wanted them to stop us, and it seems they aren't much for him."
"Wow! Lucky for us!" Kate was halfway to the door before the last word was out of her mouth.
Gary turned back at the door. "Thank you for your generosity!"
Gary sat down heavily on the bed in the Lavender Town Pokémon Center. It had been a long day. With no pokémon battles other than the Magikarp on Route 12, Gary, Kate and Ditto had set a record for distance traveled in one day despite the intervention of Bonnie, Clyde and Gastly. Tomorrow they would head west up Route 8 to Saffron City and see what they could do.
Tonight, Gary had an appointment for a heart-to-heart chat with Pidgeotto.
Gary smiled. "I don't want a battle right now. I want to talk about something...besides, how do you know about shadow-boxing?"
Pidgeotto shrugged. ""
Gary sighed. "No, I'm worried about your behavior recently. Ever since you evolved you've been making these rude comments about my skill as a trainer. You fought well against Sandslash and Nidorino, but I don't want this to turn into a real problem. Is something wrong?"
Pidgeotto ruffled its feathers a bit. ""
"Is that what's bothering you? I'm sorry, but I was in a city where the Pokémon Gym used Electric-types. When I'm near a Gym I focus on pokémon that have an advantage against the Gym pokémon."
"I didn't have any pokémon with an advantage against Rock-types. And when I did get one, I focussed on it except for that one trainer battle with that other kid...Brad. I used you as much during my time training against this last Gym as I did while training against that first one, right?"
"But you couldn't have beaten the Gastly! You didn't have any attacks that could actually hurt it!"
Stumped, Gary thought back to the day and recalled his situation. "Because the only pokémon I had that could have beaten it was hit with Confuse Ray. Your Whirlwind was my only chance of getting rid of the Gastly."
Pidgeotto looked somewhat mollified, but found another debating point before long. ""
Gary blinked. He couldn't explain away that one. How many points did Pidgeotto have lined up?
"All right, I admit I could have played that one better, but it was an easy mistake to make. Mankey was confused, and looked like it was ready to drop even though it wasn't. And it wasn't my fault the Mankey hit you with my Pokéball; that was pure chance!"
"As a matter of fact, it was. That Mankey was the last pokémon I faced before learning the next Gym I would be at was the Electric-type Gym."
Gary groaned. "Poliwhirl doesn't give me this kind of trouble. Charmeleon doesn't give me this kind of trouble." He composed himself, and turned back to Pidgeotto. "Look, I've tried to explain why I've made the choices I have. I'm sorry if you disapprove, but sometimes it couldn't be helped. You didn't complain about the Mankey or the Gastly before you evolved; why are you on my case now?"
Pidgeotto considered that. ""
Gary paused at that. Pidgeotto sounded confused, like maybe it really didn't know why it had started disliking him. That was odd. "Well, I'll tell you what; you've always been a strong fighter, and now that you've evolved I probably won't need to raise you for a while, so in the morning I'll be sending you back to...Trainer Valley, you called it? While you're there, track down Poliwhirl or Charmeleon and talk to them about it. Maybe they see something in me that you don't."
Pidgeotto cocked its head at him. ""
Gary recalled Pidgeotto and lay on the bed for a while, thinking about their conversation. After a moment, he picked up his Pokédex and looked for information on evolved pokémon.
"If a pokémon evolves to a high enough level, it may become disobedient and stop obeying its trainer's commands in battle. In extreme cases pokémon have been known to fall asleep in battle or even attack themselves. The only way to restore a disobedient pokémon's faith in its trainer is to prove one's skill as a trainer to the pokémon, most commonly by earning additional trainer badges."
Was that what had happened to Pidgeotto? Had it gotten too powerful for Gary to control? Pidgeotto hadn't exactly disobeyed, but had made quite clear what it thought of Gary's commands. Might it have disobeyed if it hadn't happened to agree on the best move to use? If it were true, though, why hadn't Charmeleon or Poliwhirl become unruly? They were about the same level...
Disconcerted, Gary turned off his Pokédex and got ready for bed. Sleep was long in coming, though.
In the morning, Gary deposited Pidgeotto, and withdrew Drowzee. His next goal in training was to evolve female Nidoran to finally catch up with the male.
His next goal in Team Rocket-bashing was to check out the situation in Saffron City.
During breakfast, Gary reviewed what he had learned and considered about the situation.
"If Team Rocket has complete control of Saffron City, they can probably use not only the technology of Silph Co., but the pokémon of the two Gyms there...by the way, 'Tod,' do you know why there are two Gyms in Saffron City?"
Ditto set down his drink. "Actually, there aren't. Early in the history of the Pokémon League, two rival groups wanted to set up Gyms in Saffron City, and for a brief time there were two Gyms; a Psychic-type Gym and a Fighting-type Gym. When it came down to pokémon battle between the two, however, the Psychic-type Gym won easily, because they had the elemental advantage in both attack and defense. Now, the Fighting-type Gym is not an official pokémon Gym. Fighting-types still go there to train, but the man in charge has no trainer badges to give. They call it the Fighting Dojo now."
"So where is the official Fighting-type Gym now?"
"There is none. Not all types can have their own Gyms; there just aren't enough cities." He picked up his sandwich thoughtfully. "You're right about one thing, though. In Saffron City we could be up against lots of well-trained Fighting-types as easily as Psychic-types."
Kate poked worriedly at her scrambled eggs. "Could we sneak in and find some way to stop them without dealing with all that?"
Gary shook his head. "Getting in at all is going to be a problem." He went through the different ways to pass the wall, and their drawbacks.
Ditto mused. "So we can't walk in the door, and we can't go over, under, or through the wall...that doesn't leave us with much, does it?"
Kate started ticking off points. "We could somehow find a second Flying-type that could take us over that wall...say, you don't have any forms that could take both of us at once, do you?" After brief thought, Ditto shook his head. Kate continued. "...or we could find some way to know ahead of time where it would be safe to dig up. What if one of us flies over on Ditto, and then lets the other know when and where it's safe to come up?"
"How would the one that flew over talk to the one digging?" Gary asked.
Ditto smiled. "Once I found a safe place to land for a while, I could Transform into Kadabra and use telepathy. Then, once the digger comes up, I could Teleport whoever it is up to where I and my rider are hiding."
Kate slapped her forehead. "I forgot about that! What if you just Teleport us through the wall?"
Gary shook his head. "That wouldn't work, would it?" He turned to Ditto. "You haven't been inside the city, have you?"
"I went there once...but it was so long ago the layout of the city has probably changed since then. I doubt I could Teleport into the city successfully. Kate's idea could work, though. So who wants to go which way?"
After lunch, Gary and Kate packed up and they all headed west for the mountain pass to Route 8. Route 8 would take them straight to Saffron City.
"Oh, departing so soon?"
Gary looked the town greeter in the eye. "Let me guess. We'll be the dearly departed?"
The man slumped in defeat. "I'm no good at jokes..."
"Do you know what caused this depression? Maybe you could be working to make things the way they were instead of working to irritate visitors."
Kate winced at Gary's lack of diplomacy, and the greeter burrowed more deeply into himself. "Well, I think it started when we lost contact with Saffron City in the west, which I guess is where you're headed. We import some produce from there...soil's not that great for farming in the mountains, you know..."
Gary, Kate and Ditto exchanged a few glances. Here was yet another excellent reason to take on Saffron City as soon as possible.
"Don't worry," Gary said. "I'm sure things will get better soon."
"Well, I'm glad you're confident."
Gary turned to Kate as Ditto Transformed into a Pidgey and flew up into a tree on Route 8. "Why? Aren't you?"
"This isn't like Vermilion, Gary. Saffron City is behind enemy lines now. It's their turf much more than Vermilion was."
"True," Gary said. "And this time I probably won't have the advantage of working against Bonnie and Clyde." Kate let that one pass. "Still, I'd rather be positive. We'll still have the element of surprise, right? And thanks to your idea, we'll have it longer."
"Yeah, but what do we do then? Where do we go from some darkened rooftop in a city none of us has ever been to?"
"Well, I've got a basic map of the streets; that should help some. It's got some important buildings labeled."
"Too bad it doesn't have the Team Rocket headquarters marked." Kate giggled.
Gary grinned. "Yeah, it's not much, is it?"
Ditto flew back to them and Transformed back to human form. "How about we work with what we have? Is the Silph Co. building marked on your map?"
Gary got his map out of his backpack and checked the Saffron City inset. "...Yes, it's here, why?"
"It occurs to me that I might be able to infiltrate Silph in this form and learn more about the situation."
Kate perked up. "Hey, that sounds good!"
"Could you pull it off?"
"It might depend," Ditto said. "It would be good if I could find other scientists there who are opposed to Team Rocket's rule."
"Yeah," Gary said. "Start up a rebellion!"
Kate's eyes shone. "Maybe we could get the Psychic Gym and the Fighting Dojo on our side! That'd help even the odds a little!"
Gary paused. "Wait...the Gym and Dojo probably fought Team Rocket when they first took over. They obviously didn't win. Maybe they won't want to risk a second try." Then it really hit him. "For that matter, the same might be true for Silph Co.!"
Kate frowned. "Do you really think so? I can't picture a Gym browbeaten!"
"And I'd hate to think that of my fellow scientists," Ditto agreed. "Nonetheless, it could be true. And if it is, asking for help in Silph Co., the Gym or the Dojo could be the worst thing we could do."
"So we're back to square one?"
"Not necessarily. I could still learn useful things in Silph Co. I'll just have to remember to trust no one."
"What do we do while you're spying on Silph?" Kate asked. "Hang around the rooftop?"
Ditto thought about that. "No, that probably isn't safe. We'll have to see what we can work out from there."
Gary paused and looked around. "Hey, I just thought of something I've been forgetting about until now."
"Is there anything new we could catch here?"
The outer wall of Saffron City hove into view as the sky began to darken.
After flying up into a tree, Ditto Transformed into a Venonat. He used its radar-like eyes to get an idea of the layout near the wall, then Transformed back to Pidgey and led Gary and Kate to the far south end, where they could avoid both the guard house and the Saffron Tunnel building.
Kate's digging pokémon were higher-level than Gary's, so she sent out Sandshrew and Diglett while Gary climbed on the back of Ditto's Pidgeot form. The pokémon and trainers went their separate ways.
Ditto flew over the top of the wall and Gary got his first look at Saffron City. It was huge. He could probably fit at least three of his old house back in Pallet Town into the smallest building he could see here.
There were cars and people everywhere. The city was packed with people. And it was packed with something else, too. At every street corner was a member of Team Rocket. Most people who passed them shrank away from their gaze or deliberately looked in any other direction that offered, even when it made them run into other people doing the same.
Gary peered down from the edge of the high building Ditto had chosen to land on. Behind him, a flash in the swiftly settling night marked Ditto's Transformation to Kadabra. Ditto did a quick mental scan of the area underneath the streets, searching for Kate and her digging pokémon.
"" Ditto walked up to the edge and followed his mental tag with his eyes. ""
"Great! So she could dig up into that lot to the right of it? That looks pretty deserted."
"" Ditto focussed in that direction for a minute, then sat down heavily. ""
"So you can't teleport her here?"
Gary looked down at the building. The red neon sign read "Meowth's Coin Casino." "She can't pass herself off as a patron at her age! We've got to get her out of there somehow!"
Gary backed up a few steps from the small door in the vacant lot behind the Meowth's Coin Casino. With luck, it would lead to the basement.
They could use a lot of luck right about now. Gary prayed this lot stayed vacant.
Ditto Transformed into Haunter form. "" He put his face through the door and paused, then pulled out again. ""
"Can we get there from here?"
"" Ditto floated all the way through the door, fading out as he did so.
Gary looked around. Without Ditto the place seemed even emptier, and yet more likely to be on some night guard's route. There was nowhere he could hide and still see the door opening. He'd just have to hope for luck again.
Of course, luck hadn't been with them when the door had been locked.
It didn't lead to the basement, either.
A flashlight beam rounded the corner from a nearby alley. Suddenly, seeing the door was very low on Gary's priorities. He ran as softly as he could to a dumpster and climbed in.
It figured. Luck couldn't be bothered with the door or the guard, but it had deigned to grant him an empty dumpster.
Gary listened, holding his breath and praying the guard couldn't hear his heart thumping as loudly as he could.
"Someone in there? I got no time for monkey business, hear?"
The casino door!
"Yow! This place is haunted!"
A clatter, and footfalls quickly moving far away.
Gary leapt out of the dumpster, ran to the guard's fallen flashlight and turned it off. The last thing they needed was a trail.
Ditto had shut the door again on finding the guard and not Gary. Cautiously, he opened it again, and Gary stepped through.
Kate risked a peek over the large crate she was hiding behind. The guard was facing away, but she couldn't get to the staircase without crossing his line of sight. He started turning and she zipped back behind the crate.
It was a good thing he hadn't been there when she dug up. Her Geodude breaking through the floor would have given her away immediately. She hadn't been able to make it through the door before he'd shown up, though.
Kate studied the crate for the tenth time. This close to it, she could see a little between the boards. It was filled with Pokéballs. The silhouette on the side looked like an amateur carving of a fat bird of some kind.
She set her Pokédex to quiet mode and looked for that silhouette while she wondered where she was. What kind of business would have armed guards for Pokéballs?
Gary nearly flew down the hall to the door marked "Basement: Restricted Area." He slammed into the crash bar and closed the door just as someone came out of the women's bathroom.
"Who's up there?"
A guard! Ditto flew down to meet him. ""
"Huh? What's a Haunter doing here?"
Drat. Smart guard. Ditto used Hypnosis on him, but he shielded his eyes and fired his pistol at Ditto until he realized that wouldn't do any good. He turned and grabbed his radio. "I need backup in the basement, equipped to handle--" Ditto put him on the floor with Night Shade.
Kate popped up behind one of the larger crates as Gary came down the stairs. "You found me! What is this place? They've got guards with guns posted over Pokéballs..."
"It's a casino. The Pokéballs must have prizes you can cash in tokens for." Gary said after Ditto's response. "We need to go before the guards show up."
"Does that door go outside?"
Gary bit his lip. "No...it opens in a hall near the main room of the casino. Ditto, how can we get out of here?"
"" He looked around. ""
Gary scanned the walls. No window he could see. "Kate, have you seen a window down here?"
"A window?...yeah, there was one near where I dug up! It's this way!"
The door upstairs opened and Gary and Ditto took off after Kate.
"Freeze down there!"
Ditto Transformed into a big clam-thing Gary dimly remembered as a Cloyster. He fired an Ice Beam and coated the bottom of the stairs with ice. "" He Transformed back to Haunter and caught up with Kate and Gary near the pile of dirt that had been Kate's entrance.
Kate pointed up at the wall. There was a small window right up near the ceiling. Ditto floated up to it and opened the window. He went through, Transformed into Kadabra, and Teleported Kate and Gary through the window. Then, he focussed on the rooftop he and Gary had landed on.
The first guard made it past the ice field. "There's a tunnel through the floor! They must have gone down there!"
"Follow them! We'll be along in a minute!" While one guard tried to revive the man who'd been stationed here, others ran to the tunnel and started going down.
"Wait a minute, that window's open!"
"Ignore it. They must have opened it to throw us off."
"How would they get through that little thing? Whoever it was obviously had pokémon, but no pokémon can shrink its trainer!"
The guard shrugged and followed the others down the tunnel.
"Are we safe?"
Gary looked out over the rooftops at the Meowth's Coin Casino. Kate stayed near Ditto, who was getting a mind's-eye view of the basement they had just escaped from.
Gary turned back from the edge. "Kate, the guards all went down your tunnel!"
Kate giggled. "What'll they think when they come out outside the city?"
Gary smiled. "Probably that the thieves meant to smuggle out everything in there!"
"Yeah, right next to the cover story: 'Saffron City Saved from Team Rocket's Grasp...'"
Trying to crouch right after landing from a Teleport, Gary sprawled on the rooftop behind the large vent they had landed near. Luckily, the two men on the rooftop didn't hear his graceless landing.
Kate peeked around the vent, and hissed, "They're Team Rocket!"
Gary joined her. The men wore the outfits of common members of Team Rocket. If they were actually on guard, they hid it very well...until one spoke up.
"Why we gotta be up here, anyways? It's cold as Jynx lips up here..."
"Oh, comawn, who's gonna come up here? Silph I could see. Some action hero comin' in through the roof an all. But who wants to bust into a beauty parlor? We're worthless here!"
"Well, howdya think they'd get to the Silph roof? Walk in n'take the elevator? They'd probly go across these rooftops! Dimwit!"
They've got us pegged...
Gary almost jumped. From the look on Kate's face, she had heard it, too. Frowning, Gary thought, Ditto, was that you? Can you hear me like this?
Yes to both of your questions. I'm using telepathy so they don't hear us. And also, Ditto thought with a smile, so I can try out the translator role for a change.
Gary smiled at that. He looked around the vent again. The sub-par Rocket guards were looking away, toward the same building Gary was looking at. Eleven floors of office lights shining through glass walls made the Silph Co. Corporate Headquarters the tallest building in the area.
There's where I'll be headed soon...but we still need to figure out what you two will do in the meantime.
Gary put forth an idea he'd been considering. What if we try in the Gym and Fighting Dojo what you'll be doing in there?
As in seeing what you can learn there about the situation? Remember, don't try to recruit them if there's any chance they'll turn you in.
Ditto paused briefly, then sent, There's a problem with that. Kate says she doesn't have a Psychic- or Fighting-type pokémon.
Ask her if she feels like trying for the psychic Badge.
Kate's grin was the only answer Gary needed.
Ditto looked down the building at the ground below. Okay, there's an empty back road near here. I'm going to Teleport you two down there, and you make your way to the Gym and Dojo on foot, okay?
Okay. Good luck in Silph.
Good luck to you two, too.
After checking Gary's map for the direction to the two Gyms, Gary and Kate stepped into the busy streets of Saffron City and were swept along with the current. Gary realized, almost too late, that the Team Rocket guards might recognize him, given what Gastly had said about the threat he posed to them. He made sure there was someone tall between him and any Team Rocket members they came near, and when Kate realized what he was doing, she did the same. A little inconspicuousness couldn't hurt anyway.
The Saffron City Gym and the Fighting Dojo were both in the northeast corner of the city, only a block apart from each other. The Gym was purplish and built entirely of wavy lines; the Dojo looked like a small stadium. Both were surrounded by members of Team Rocket.
Gary and Kate extracted themselves from the crowd. Gary deposited Nidorino and withdrew Mankey; he would enter the Fighting Dojo to train Mankey. Kate rearranged her party for fighting Psychic-types.
"Good Luck in the Gym, Kate!" Gary said, meaning her try at the badge.
"Hope you make progress in the Dojo!" Kate said, meaning progress in raising Mankey.
At least, that's what they meant as far as the people in the streets were concerned.
Kate looked around, confused.
The only people near the Saffron City Gym were members of Team Rocket.
Where was the door guard?
Lights were on in the very few windows Kate could see. Everything else about Saffron City at night seemed as busy as day. Why wasn't there someone on duty here?
Kate put on a timid face and approached the nearest Team Rocket member. "Um, excuse me...is one of you the door guard here?" Please no no no...
"We dispensed with the door guard. Just get in there."
Well, that was a shock! Kate half-walked, half-ran to the door and went in.
Gary stepped through the door of the Fighting Dojo. There hadn't been a door guard; just several Team Rocket members surrounding the building. Maybe there was no door guard because this wasn't an official Gym.
Instead of the usual large training room, Gary found himself in a long hall with several doors. "Weight Room"..."Sparring Areas"..."Arena"..."Showers"? Did people actually live here? "Gymnasium"...that sounded right for a Mankey. Gary went through that door.
Kate looked at all the doors in the halls she was walking through. This place was big!
"So do you actually want to take on our Gym Leader?"
Kate turned to the Gym staff member guiding her through the halls. "Uh, why wouldn't I?"
"Well, you see...it takes a psychic to truly master Psychic-types."
"Yes, that's why this place is so big. It's not just a pokémon Gym; psychic humans come here, too. I think your friend has a good chance in the Fighting Dojo, by the way. The folks over there are always ready for a good fight, and they've been absolutely burning over Team Rocket's little house arrest."
"House arrest? Those Team Rocket members around the Gym and Dojo are keeping you in?"
"That's right. After we tried to stop them from taking over, they keep us in here. I'm sure you noticed there was no door guard on duty. Too risky. They sent in the Dojo's door guard as well."
"Why haven't you fought back? Can't your pokémon beat whatever they have?"
The staff member sighed. "If only. Those guards were hand-picked by the Rocket head honcho. Those watching over us are equipped with powerful Parasect and other pokémon that can hang Psychic-types out to dry. They have Psychic, Flying and Ghost-types surrounding the Fighting Dojo. We're stuck."
Kate went over her pokémon. Beedrill might be able to hurt a Parasect with Twineedle, but it would be weak against Parasect's Bug-Type move Leech Life. Pidgeotto would have no trouble with that attack, but it didn't have any Flying-Type attacks. Spearow only had one, Peck. Ekans had the same problem as Beedrill; it had Poison Sting, but would be weak against Leech Life. If these Parasect were trusted to guard Psychic-types, Kate felt free to assume their Leech Life could really pack a punch.
Gary had pokémon that could deal with this, though. His Zubat could match Leech Life for Leech Life, and its attacks would be more effective than Parasect's, and his Charmeleon would have no problem at all.
"Does Gary have pokémon that can defeat the Psychic, Flying and Ghost-types around the Dojo?"
Kate gave the psychic staff member a lopsided grin. "Yeah, I think he could take on anything."
"I'll tell you what; if you concentrate on him, I can find him in the Fighting Dojo and tell him we'll be glad to join in if he can beat the guards around both there and here."
Gary watched as his Mankey leapt from metal bar to metal bar in the gymnasium.
It wasn't his Mankey he was watching. He was looking for a way to bring up the subject of Team Rocket in Saffron City to the other trainers.
Many of them looked stressed out, and not just the ones who were joining their pokémon in exercising. The situation must have been taking a toll on them. Finally, one snapped and relieved Gary of the need to bring up the subject. With a loud clang, he struck out at a parallel beam and put an impressive dent in it. "Damn those Rockets! I can't take this any more!"
"Now, calm down, Tony, there's nothing we can do about it..."
"The hell there isn't! I'm gonna train Champ hard enough so he can get past those damn guards!"
The other man exchanged a glance with a third. "How you planning on doing that? The flyers and psychics, maybe, but no Machamp can beat a Ghost!"
Just then, Gary heard something very interesting in his head. A slow smile spread across his face.
"What if you had help?"
Almost as one, the men in the room turned to him with a questioning look.
Kate looked on as every psychic and/or Psychic-type trainer in the building gathered in the biggest room in the Gym. To make sure no Rocket Guard could hear, everyone who could spoke in a mental tone that spread through the room and went no further.
We are being given another chance to strike out at Team Rocket! Three people with experience in fighting them have infiltrated Saffron City, and two are finding support in the Silph Company and the Fighting Dojo! Is there support here?
Hooray!____________"You bet there is!"________Fight for Saffron City!
"About time!"________Let's show them!
________HELL Yeah!________"Never give up! Never surrender!"
Kate looked over the excited crowd, and felt the same fire building in herself. There was hope for Saffron City.
"Everyone grab your pokémon! We've got a city to retake!"
Gary deposited Mankey again and withdrew Butterfree. With its combination of Sleep Powder and Confusion, Butterfree had the best chance of Gary's pokémon against Ghost-types. That would change when Drowzee learned a psychic attack of its own, but there was no time for raising now. The rest of his party went unchanged; Pikachu could take care of the Flying-types, Charmeleon had the muscle to finish the physically weak psychics, and Poliwhirl and Graveler would be useful as backup.
"Hey, you sure you can beat all the guys out there?"
Gary looked up at the trainer beside him. "I've got a better chance with pokémon they're mostly weak against. In fact, I may win with just the element of surprise. If you want to join in, though, you may have an easier time with the guards' pokémon when they've got me to watch out for as well."
"All right! My Hitmonlee's been wantin' a piece of that blond guy's Alakazam!"
Be ready to help Gary and the Fighters if they need it! The Parasect shouldn't be so quick to stop us when they've got so many enemies to deal with at once!
Kate backed into a corner as flurries of activity passed by in all directions. Was there ever any kind of order to this place? Maybe it was something only a psychic could understand.
"Be at ease."
Kate froze. The woman beside her hadn't been anywhere in sight a few seconds ago. There had been no bright flash, no fade-in...she was just there all of a sudden.
"We have learned from our mistakes the last time we tried to drive Team Rocket from this city. This time we will succeed."
The psychic who had been more or less in charge of things saw the new arrival and stopped dead in her tracks. A quick teleport to the woman's side was the only thing that saved her from being trampled. For the first time since Kate had seen her, she spoke aloud. "Leader..."
"You have done well, Zara. Your prompt reaction to this new chance at freedom is a sign of a true leader." Zara's eyes shone with gratitude. "For the moment, though, I believe this is an occasion for the guidance of the Gym Leader."
Zara bowed. "Certainly...Sabrina."
"What do you suppose's going on in there?"
"Beats me to a pulp. The place has been solid clanging and clamoring the last few minutes."
"You don't suppose..."
"Nah." Silence. "Still..."
"I'm calling the others." Click. "Hey, you guys, anything shaking with the Gym?"
"Yeah, now that you mention it. Sounds like they're having a track meet in the building. Dojo acting up too?"
"Track meet and a metalsmith besides!"
"You suppose they're gonna try breaking out again?"
The Team Rocket member caressed his Fearow's Pokéball. "They'll be sorry if they do."
"Let him in."
The double door opened and the most panicked operative Santiago had seen in quite some time entered the room.
"He-he's here! In the city!"
Santiago frowned. "Who's here?"
"G-Gary Ford! The boy who defeated us in Vermilion City! He's come to Saffron!"
"Where did you see him?"
"In the northeast sector. He was hiding himself well, so I did not recognize him until it was too late to stop him."
"The northeast sector? Was he heading for the city Gym?"
The operative gulped. "Y-yes, sir, he was going in that direction."
The boy himself, Santiago believed, was not a threat. The tactics he had used in Vermilion City would be doomed to fail here. However, if he freed the city Gym, and the Fighting Dojo as well, and they came to his aid..."I will handle the boy. Return to your station."
"Yes, sir!" With a grim smile, Santiago clocked the man's departure. The nervous wreck was out of the room in a second and a half.
Santiago considered this new threat. How much danger was Team Rocket in here? As if in answer, the intercom on his desk blared to life. It was set to listen in on all intercom communication beween operatives.
"Hey, you guys, anything shaking with the Gym?"
"Yeah, now that you mention it..."
That tore it. Santiago picked up his cell phone and called the Elite member in nominal charge of the Silph Co. operations.
"Deploy the weapons to the northeast sector of the city. We have a rebellion on our hands."
Ditto wandered the halls of the Silph Co. corporate headquaters, trying to look busy. In every laboratory, scientists were busy with various machines, watched over by a member of Team Rocket. None of the machines looked like standard Silph Co. products. Most of them looked like they could knock down a brick wall, and some of them could probably vaporize it. Some on the ground floor even came with cockpits and tank treads.
The scientists didn't like building weapons of mass destruction, and Ditto could hardly blame them. They went right on building them, though. Every scientist here reminded Ditto of a Psychic-type pokémon; they were highly intelligent, but physically weak. They couldn't defend themselves against Team Rocket and they knew it. Ditto growled inwardly at the cowardice his fellows had no choice but to assume.
It looked like only some truly momentous event could pry them out of their shells and make them take a stand.
"Attention all pilots!" The P.A. called suddenly. "Attention all pilots! Incursion in progress in the northeast sector! Deploy all available machinery!"
It looked like aforementioned event would be coming rather soon. Ditto was determined to give these poor people a backbone. To do that, he'd have to be at the scene.
Northeast sector...that sounded like the Gym and Dojo. Ditto grinned as he ran down corridors toward where scientists were gathering to drive the finished war machines. This had Gary and Kate written all over it.
The door of the Fighting Dojo flew open, banging against the wall. Gary stepped out of the building, followed by a few Dojo trainers. The Team Rocket guards quickly turned to face him. Gary held up three Pokéballs.
"I am Gary Ford, and I have sworn to defeat Team Rocket wherever they strike. I freed Vermilion City from you, and soon I will see you all out of Saffron City as well!"
The guards tossed Pokéballs. Gary threw the three he held. "Butterfree, use Sleep Powder and Confusion on the Ghost-types! Charmeleon, you've got the speed and the muscle to flatten the Psychic-types! Want some experience, Pikachu? Zap every Flying-Type you can find!"
Gary's pokémon spread out and attacked at three different levels. Butterfree flew high above the sudden melee, dropping Sleep Powder on any Gastly or Haunter it saw while frantically dodging a number of enemy Flying-types. Pikachu ran under the legs of the mostly larger evolved enemies and blasted a Flying-type whenever it got the chance, being careful not to hit Butterfree and actually rescuing it more than once. Charmeleon moved through the crowd, taking advantage of the confusion sewn by Butterfree and Pikachu to Slash at the various Kadabra and Alakazam before they could react.
"For our honor!" The first Dojo trainer threw a Pokéball and suddenly there was a hail of them as every Fighting-type trainer sought to avenge past wrongs. Trying both to hit and avoid Charmeleon, the Rocket Psychics began getting pummeled by vindictive Fighting-types.
"Stick with Normal-type attacks!" Gary called out as he spotted a problem. "Fighting attacks are weak against Psychics!"
"I dig that! Machoke, use Karate Chop!"
"Hitmonchan, Mega Punch!"
"Primeape! Use the Fury Swipes!"
Butterfree stopped and looked around, surprising a diving Pidgeotto so its attack missed. As the Pidgeotto got fried by Pikachu's Thundershock, Butterfree found it had put all of the ghosts to sleep. It started building psychic energy.
A Hypno saw Butterfree and started to form a psychic attack of its own. Charmeleon and a Hitmonlee reached it at the same time, and as it hit the ground, each took out another Psychic-type who had gotten the same idea.
Finally, an Alakazam struck Charmeleon before it could react. Charmeleon reeled, and in its moment of weakness, several other psychic attacks hit home. Gary rushed in, shoved a Kadabra out of the way and recalled Charmeleon. He sent out his reserve heavy-hitter, Graveler, and then stepped back and quickly started to deposit Charmeleon for someone else in case.
Butterfree started hitting the Ghost-types with Confusion, beginning with those who seemed in most danger of waking up. A Fearow raced at it and got electrocuted a second before impact. Then a Hypno accidentally stepped on Pikachu's tail, slowing it enough so it got tagged with a Psybeam. Pikachu bounced once, then sprang to its feet, searching out the fiend who had hit it.
The Fearow circled back for another try at Butterfree, and Pikachu wasn't paying attention. Gary searched the crowd for Graveler, and called, "Rock Throw the Fearow!"
Graveler looked up from the Kadabra it had just bowled over, and leapt toward Butterfree and Fearow. Its aim was a little off, though; it just nicked Fearow's wing, sending it into a tail spin. Fearow missed Butterfree by inches, spiraled to the ground and skewered a Gastly, fainting it. Butterfree, disoriented, gave up on that Gastly and moved to another. It was starting to run out of options.
Gary looked out across the battlefield. Here an Alakazam floored an unlucky Machoke, only to be knocked out by Karate Chops from all four of a Machamp's arms. There, a Kadabra fired a Psybeam at the Hitmonlee, who ducked behind a just-rousing Haunter and saved Butterfree the trouble of yet another target. Giving up on its unnamed assailant, Pikachu reclaimed its watch with a well-aimed Thunderbolt that clipped a Pidgeotto and a Farfetch'd.
Thunderbolt? Pikachu didn't know Thunderbolt, did it? Gary scanned Pikachu with his Pokédex and was brutally awakened to the amount of experience a brawl this size could dish out. Pikachu had also gained Double Team and Slam since starting this battle. Gary looked up Double Team and found out why Pikachu hadn't succumbed the way Charmeleon had.
As Butterfree finished off another Gastly, Gary thought to check it as well. Butterfree hadn't gained as much as Pikachu--who, Gary remembered, could push itself to gain more--and had only learned one new attack: Supersonic. Only one, but what a one it was!
Gary looked up, and Butterfree was floating near him. Stunned, Gary looked around and found no Ghost-types were left! They would surely have made this a much harder fight, but Butterfree had taken out each one! Gary was about to tell Butterfree to help with the Flying and Psychic-types next, but he realized that there were few of Team Rocket's pokémon still standing/flying, so he decided to cancel that. "Great job, Butterfree! I think you should get some rest now, okay?" Butterfree nodded and Gary recalled it.
Gary deposited Butterfree so it could rest in Bill's Valley for the time being...and then looked up just in time to watch the last Kadabra get a faceful of Hitmonchan's glove. Gary looked out across the fainted pokémon on the ground. In the end, over half of the Fighting-type pokémon had succumbed to their elemental disadvantage, including the Hitmonlee who had helped Butterfree twice, but those left still raised a mighty cheer between them as the last Rocket pokémon collapsed. Gary recalled Pikachu, and then found Graveler among the fainted. It wasn't as fast as Charmeleon, and its special rating wasn't too great. Gary recalled it.
After everyone's pokémon, conscious or otherwise, had been recalled, the Team Rocket guards left, with whatever persuasion was needed. Gary considered the opponents he'd have soon, and wishing Charmeleon hadn't fainted, began putting together a party to rescue the Psychic-type Gym from their entrapment.
"I'm getting nervous. Something must happened to the guys guarding the Dojo!"
"Stay here. This could be a trick to lead us away from the Gym."
A figure stepped out of the shadows. "Now, you don't really think I'd be so sneaky, do you?"
Both guards turned and raised Pokéballs. "Who's there?"
"I'm Gary Ford, the one who ruined your plans in Vermilion City! The Fighting Dojo is free of you, and soon so will the rest of the city!" Several Dojo trainers left the shadows to join him.
The Team Rocket guards gathered and threw Pokéballs. Several Parasect appeared, but there were also a few Jolteon, a Dodrio, two Scyther and another pokémon Gary didn't recognize.
Gary tossed three Pokéballs of his own. "Zubat! Drain the Parasect! Pikachu, zap the Dodrio and Scyther! Nidorino, do as much damage as you can!"
Zubat latched onto the top of the mushroom on one of the Parasect and began sucking at it. Parasect couldn't get at it with its claws, and it was at a horrible angle to use Spore or Stun Spore. Pikachu dodged attacks by the Dodrio and Scyther until it built up enough electricity to hit them with Thunderbolt. The Scyther were faster than the Dodrio and could dodge the lightning more easily, but the Dodrio could take more hits, so all three Flying-types promised to take a while to bring down.
Nidorino charged into the mass of Parasect, catching one with Horn Attack before bringing his poison spines into play and scoring Poison Stings in all directions.
As the Dojo trainers who had come with him added their fighters to the mix, Gary aimed his Pokédex at the unfamiliar pokémon. He needed information about it to fight it properly.
"Kabutops. This prehistoric Rock/Water-type pokémon is the evolved form of Kabuto. It slashes its prey with its sharp arm blades."
Rock/Water? Let's see...it was Ground-types, not Rock-types, that had the immunity to Electric-type attacks, so Pikachu should be strong against Kabutops as long as it steered clear of those Scyther-like blades. Gary looked up at the Kabutops--and watched it fall from repeated Low Kicks and Submissions. Remembering that Rock-types were weak against Fighting-type attacks, Gary gave a nod and a smile to the Machoke who had dispatched it. Other than that, however, the Fighting-types weren't doing too well here; everyone else in the enemy group except the Jolteon were strong against Fighting-type attacks.
While two of the Jolteon took on the Fighting-types, the other Jolteon tried to stop Pikachu, but the mouse pokémon was small enough to run under Jolteon and avoid its attacks. After trying to Thundershock Pikachu and mostly failing, Jolteon found an easier target in Zubat, who was causing severe discomfort in the Parasect it had latched onto.
Gary called to Zubat. "Supersonic on Jolteon!"
Zubat looked up from its meal and saw Jolteon glowing with electricity. Disturbed, it fired off a few bursts of high-pitched sound at Jolteon. The glow of power faded as Jolteon shook its head to clear it, but Jolteon recovered its equilibrium quickly. Zubat used Supersonic again as Jolteon was recharging, and this time Jolteon stayed out of wack. It tried to charge up, got a little bit and hit the surrounding Parasect. Gary could only regret that the Parasect were strong against electric attack. Satisfied, Zubat returned to its meal, much to the distress of the Parasect. The other two Jolteon had enough trouble with the Fighting-types to occupy them.
The Parasect Nidorino was playing with fought back with their claws, scoring a few hits. One grabbed it with Leech Life, and Nidorino was briefly in a lot of pain until it managed to smash the offender into another Parasect. Then, two of them caught it at once with Spore. Nidorino stumbled over itself and collapsed into dazed slumber. Several Parasect descended on it, but Gary recalled it before they could Leech Life it to death.
Gary didn't have another pokémon ready to deal with Parasect, but the Fighting-types were nearly finished playing with the two Jolteon. Gary sent out Sandshrew to finish them off, and the Fighting-types started using Normal-type attacks on the Parasect. A Scyther zoomed over and tried to score a few Slashes, but Pikachu put it down first.
Zubat detached from the fainted Parasect and flew off to look for another. Most were caught up with the Fighting-types, but Zubat found one that was avoiding the battle. It dove and struck.
The Fighting-types had fainted one Jolteon before moving to the Parasect. The other, weakened, now stared at the Sandshrew facing it. It attacked with Thunder Wave, but Sandshrew leapt through the wave, unaffected, and scored a Slash on Jolteon's face. Jolteon recoiled in pain. The remaining Scyther, rushing in to help Jolteon, accidentally ran into the Thunder Wave and fell to the ground.
Jolteon used Sand-Attack on Sandshrew, who used Sand-Attack right back. A cloud of sand rose over the two of them, and before long both were desperately trying to hit something, anything. They ended up scoring enough hits on one unfortunate Parasect to faint it.
Pikachu, ignoring the paralyzed Scyther, focussed on the Dodrio and finally put it down. Then, it began to charge a large Thunderbolt to finish off the Scyther in one hit.
Jolteon, sick of missing, also charged a Thunderbolt, forgetting the nature of its target. Gary, seeing the danger, recalled Zubat, pulling it off the Parasect it had been sucking dry. Jolteon let loose, blasting everything on the battlefield with lightning. Pikachu hit Scyther with its own Thunderbolt just before Jolteon's reached it.
When the dust cleared, some of the Fighting-types were the worse for wear, but so were some Parasect that had already been weakened to a degree. One had fainted. Scyther was a blackened husk. Pikachu had taken a little damage. The Jolteon Zubat had confused was shocked back to its senses. Sandshrew, completely untouched, walked to the still-glowing Jolteon that had sent the blast and finished it off with another Slash.
Blinking, Gary waited for his vision to adjust, and then counted the remaining enemies. Three Parasect and a Jolteon were left. The pokémon on his side included Pikachu, Sandshrew, a Primeape and a Hitmonchan. The other Fighting-types had fainted from the Jolteon and Parasect, or from the latest Thunderbolt.
The Jolteon sized up its opponents and decided Primeape posed the greatest threat. It attacked Primeape, while the three Parasect moved against Pikachu, Sandshrew and Hitmonchan. Hitmonchan got one with a Fire Punch, but it retaliated with Spore and then started Slashing the sleeping Hitmonchan. Pikachu used Thunderbolt, but the Parasect weren't as badly hurt as a non-Grass-type would have been. One tagged Pikachu with Stun Spore and started in with its claws. Gary and the Hitmonchan's trainer recalled their bested pokémon.
While Primeape and Jolteon struggled, three Parasect surrounded the still-blinded Sandshrew. Gary's last pokémon was weak against Leech Life as well as generally low-level; Gastly would have been helpful against the Scyther and Kabutops, but hadn't been needed after all. Now it was useless.
That's when the door burst open. "Now!" Trainers teleported out and threw Pokéballs. A ring of Kadabra, Alakazam, Hypno, a couple Slowbro and a Mr. Mime surrounded the other pokémon. Glad to be relieved of duty, Gary recalled Sandshrew, and the Primeape's trainer recalled his pokémon.
The middle of the ring was promptly filled with Psychic attacks. None of the four pokémon within were weak against it. It really didn't matter. They were down five seconds later.
The psychic pokémon and their trainers turned toward the Team Rocket guards with a mad glint in their eyes. Suddenly the area was clear of Team Rocket members. No one cared to call the bluff of a PO'd psychic, and some of them just might not have been bluffing.
Two more figures appeared at the door. Kate ran through the door to Gary while a serene woman with green hair looked on. "That was great, Gary! You really showed those guards a thing or two!"
"Thanks. I couldn't have done it without the trainers from the Fighting Dojo. What do we do next?"
The woman with green hair was suddenly beside them. "Team Rocket has sent an army of machines at us. There is no time to visit the Pokémon Center." She held out her hand and a full bag appeared in it. "This contains pokémon healing items. Use whatever you need."
Gary took the bag. "Thank you..."
"Sabrina." Kate filled in. "She's the Gym Leader!"
Gary considered the newest challenge. "Machines? Sounds like they're using technology from Silph Co.!" Gastly might still be useful, and so might Pikachu. Electric-type pokémon were strong against their own attacks, but the approaching enemies weren't pokémon; Pikachu might be able to short-circuit a few. Other than that, Gary would just have to go with his strongest pokémon...which would include Pikachu anyway. Gary deposited Zubat, Nidorino and Sandshrew and withdrew Charmeleon, Graveler and Poliwhirl. Charmeleon and Graveler had fainted in the battle at the Fighting Dojo, so Gary used Revive items from Sabrina's bag on them. He also found some Ethers for the weary Pikachu, who giggled as he rubbed them in. Gastly and Poliwhirl hadn't seen battle in a while, so they were fine.
While Kate rearranged her party, the Fighting Dojo trainers used the bag to revitalize their pokémon. Then the Dojo trainers who had gone to the Pokémon Center after the first big battle returned, and some were as white as a Seel. "S-something's coming this way..."
"Don't tell me--a large army of war machines, right?"
The ground answered for them with a loud rumble. Tanks of various design appeared down the street, and planes flew in from the center of the city. From one of them, a loudspeaker announced, "Saffron City Gym! Fighting Dojo! Surrender now and you will not be harmed...much! Gary Ford, I know you're down there! Give up! This city is ours!"
"I won't give up 'till it's not yours!"
"Neither will I!" Kate threw in.
"You're finished, Rock-heads!" A Dojo trainer called.
This time you will not best us! Sabrina filled the area with her declaration.
"There is a fine line between bravery and foolishness...you have just crossed it! Prepare to be wiped out!"
Several tank barrels turned to point at them. Gary considered how best to handle this...
Suddenly, one cannon on the left end swung wide, pointed up, fired, and blew a large hole in the wing of the plane that had been speaking! From the tank's loudspeaker came a voice Gary recognized immediately.
"Men of science! Now is the time to cast off the chains of Team Rocket's oppression! For too long they have controlled our knowledge and wreaked havoc on our conscience! If we must build these tools of destruction, let us use them to set things right!" Ditto's spirited speech was punctuated by the noise of the plane crashing in the next street over.
Barrels turned away from Gary, Kate and the Gym and Dojo trainers as the weakling geniuses realized they weren't so weak at the moment. Team Rocket members began climbing the tanks to have a word with the drivers, and Gary found his niche in this confrontation. "Go, team! Protect the tank drivers!"
Team Rocket members quickly started falling under Graveler's fists and Poliwhirl's spiral. Knowing it wouldn't hurt the tanks much, Charmeleon used Ember on them and watched them try to put themselves out. Gastly floated around, trying to scare some off, and actually succeeding a few times. That one seemed to have a self-esteem problem, Gary noted. That could use some work.
Not all of the tanks had turned away. Those that hadn't, driven by Team Rocket members or by scientists who actually supported Team Rocket, were faced by the Psychic-Types, who caused ammo to get jammed in barrels or pulled shots in a wide arc to smash into other tanks. Six or seven Alakazam got together and managed to pick up one tank, shake out its driver and throw the tank backwards a few dozen feet onto its back. Pikachu elected to join those forces, and tanks started blowing up as it shocked their systems.
Most of the planes seemed to be piloted by Team Rocket. Kate threw two Pokéballs. "Ivysaur, Geodude, take down those planes! Razor Leaf and Rock Throw!"
Geodude started bounding off tanks and the sides of buildings to get high enough to hit the planes with its Rock Throw. Ivysaur reared up on its haunches and took aim. Soon planes were making forced landings due to leaves clogging the engines and Geodude-sized holes in the wings. Team Rocket members got out of the planes and met a warm reception from the Fighting-types.
It was a little embarrassing. These tanks and planes were easily more of a threat than the guards at either of the last two battles, but thanks to Ditto's psychological interference, and the teamwork of the freedom fighters, this battle was over in less time than either of the others.
As the last Team Rocket member retreated at high speed, the Silph Co. scientists emerged from the tanks, cheering. Ditto hopped down from his tank and met Gary and Kate. "Great work, you two!"
"You weren't so bad yourself! 'Men of science! Now is the time...' Without that, I think we'd be grease spots!"
Ditto smiled. "And congratulations, Kate!"
"Thanks!" Kate started to pick up her new Graveler to hug it. "Oof...you're a heavy one!" She knelt down to its level instead.
Sabrina appeared before them. "You are Gary and Kate's third ally? I can teleport you to the offices of the leader of this operation. My psychics, the Fighters and scientists will take care of the lesser minions on the streets."
Ditto spoke up while Kate recalled Graveler. "Can you put us down where we won't be seen?"
Sabrina studied him for a moment. "Certainly."