Catch up on the story so far here!]
Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:
What’s your next play?
- Try to prepare another ambush
Use a different Pokémon?
- Stick with Jane Doe
You could rush in, guns blazing. After all, there’s only two of them now, even if they were good enough to beat Blue; you reckon you could take ‘em. But why take the risk, right? You’re smarter than that. You might not be able to split the other two Rockets up like you did the first one, but you may as well seize the element of surprise – especially now that you now have a really cool opportunity for another trap.
You point at Kelly’s unconscious body and give Jane Doe a meaningful nod. She grins and conjures another illusion, turning into a passable facsimile of Kelly. Up close, you can see it’s not her – when Jane was disguised as Nancy, you didn’t notice any differences between them at all, but you guess it’s easier to pick up on the subtle tells when she’s imitating a member of your own species. That’s fine, though; if the Rockets get that close, the trap’s already worked. ‘Kelly’ crawls out into the open and slumps, unmoving, on the ground, with one of her forearms obscuring her face. You know, kid, if I didn’t know any better I’d say you were getting pretty ‘devious’ yourself. He who fights with monsters, something something something…
It takes a long time for Kelly’s two partners to come looking – long enough that you start to get paranoid and worry that they’re already flanking you for their own surprise attack. Turns out you’re okay, though – you eventually spot them moving down the hillside towards your position by the same route Kelly took. There are two, just like you saw before: one short and dark-haired, with shifty eyes and a dour expression; the other tall with radiant golden hair, chewing on a piece of gum, her face broadcasting impatience and boredom. Both are wearing the same black t-shirts and shorts with long boots as Kelly, the same big red R insignia across their chests. When they get within earshot, you can hear them arguing loudly; it sounds like the blonde one didn’t want to go looking for Kelly.
“I’m telling you, she’s probably just chasing some rare Pokémon, or-” but, at that moment, she stops suddenly. “Kidd, look!” You don’t want to look out from your hiding place to check, but you guess she’s just gotten close enough to spot what she thinks is Kelly’s unconscious body. You briefly check on Kelly’s actual unconscious body – yep, still out cold.
“What the hell…?” The first Rocket has picked up her pace and is still moving towards you, but it sounds like the second one, ‘Kidd,’ has stopped altogether.
“That wild Pokémon must’ve got her real good!” the blonde Rocket calls out. “What do you think it was? It didn’t sound big, but…” She’s getting closer. You motion to Scallion to get ready to fight.
“Hold up,” Kidd says forcefully. “This doesn’t feel right.”
“What do you mean?” her partner asks, slowing her pace but not stopping.
“This isn’t a wild Pokémon attack, they wouldn’t… it doesn’t make any sense. Sundance, I said hold up!” The sound of footsteps stops. You risk a peek over the top of your boulder and see that the second Rocket, the blonde – ‘Sundance’ – is still a good five or ten metres away from ‘Kelly.’ Kidd is further back, up the next ledge. You tense your muscles in readiness, but don’t order Jane to blow her cover just yet.
“There’s no one else up here; the nerd crew told us-” Sundance begins.
“They lied,” Kidd interrupts. “Ears. Now.” What? Ears? You hear her activate a Pokéball. “Zubat, sweep this area! Supersonic!”
You hear a high-pitched whine that feels as though it starts somewhere inside your own ears, then builds into a horrible static haze that drowns out the whole world. It only lasts a few seconds, but you, Scallion and Cutie are all dazed and your balance is shot. Worse, you see Jane Doe’s illusion of Kelly’s body flicker like static on an old TV screen and vanish, leaving her exposed. Uh oh. She looks around in panic for a moment, then growls defiantly at Team Rocket. You reach a hand up to steady Cutie, who is still perched on your shoulder but swaying ominously, and stumble out from hiding to stand at Jane’s side.
“Well, well, well.” Kidd meets your eyes as you straighten up and regain your balance. Sundance has her eyes screwed up and her thumbs jammed in her ears, but quickly resumes a normal posture and skips backwards a few steps to get closer to her partner.
“Guess I owe you one,” she says cheerfully to Kidd.
“I’ll put it on your tab,” Kidd replies drily, without breaking eye contact with you. “And as for you… You must not know who you’re dealing with here. I’m the trouble you should have prepared for.”
“And I’m double that,” Sundance adds with a smirk, readying a Pokéball. Kidd leaps gracefully down the last ledge to Sundance’s side.
“To embrace a world of devastation,” she intones grimly.
“To ignite all peoples in every nation!” Sundance, by contrast, speaks with manic glee.
“To break the shackles of truth and love.”
“To extend our fame to the stars above!”
“Sundance!” She punctuates her own name with a quick pirouette.
“Team Rocket, blast off like a ray of light.”
“Surrender now, or say goodnight!” Sundance finishes her final line by making a finger pistol and ‘firing’ at you.
You are, to be honest, a little stumped by this display. Are you supposed to introduce yourself in rhyme now? Is this just a thing Pokémon trainers do? (It’s not. They’re idiots. Trust me on this one.) You’re trying to think of a good rhyme for “science” when you are mercifully spared by a third speaker.
“What is the point of a motto if we all have different goddamn versions!?” screeches Kelly’s indignant voice as she gracelessly inchworms her way out from behind the boulder where you were hiding, her hands and feet still tightly bound with vines. Kidd frowns and knits her brow at the sight of their erstwhile teammate tied up on the ground, but Sundance just grins.
“Hey, nobody asked you; Kelly. Besides, isn’t the ‘protect’ version the official one?”
“That makes no sense, we’re criminals; we don’t protect anything!”
“Look, do you still want us to bust out your dumb partners when we’re done here, or not?”
“If we agree to leave Kevin behind, will you change the damn motto?”
“Nope!” Sundance pokes her tongue out at Kelly, then does a full 360º spin before locking eyes with you again. “Think fast! Raticate, Hyper Fang!” You don’t even see her arm move as she throws the Pokéball; there’s just suddenly a huge brown rat diving right for your face. Just as quickly, Jane is there, a charcoal-grey blur as she parries with Pursuit. You have her dodge left, feint right, leap, spin, feint left – she’s getting tired after fighting Cutie earlier and dispatching both of Kelly’s Pokémon, but she still has some fight in her, and that Raticate seems tired too. You’re not sure how you know that; you just kinda do. Something in its stance or the way it moves as it dodges and strikes with Hyper Fang, maybe. It’s an impressive specimen, though: nearly a metre tall with the sharpest teeth you’ve ever seen. Real top percentage Raticate, as they say.
What’s Kidd doing?
You suddenly become aware of her Zubat, who is trying to flank Jane while she’s engrossed in fighting Raticate. Quickly, without taking your attention off that fight, you grab Aura’s Pokéball and throw, getting her to intercept Zubat in the air. You haven’t heard Kidd give a command, and realise that she’s muttering under her breath; Zubat’s hearing must be so good that she doesn’t have to speak normally. As Zubat tries to dive in and latch onto Jane for a Leech Life, Aura blows it off course with Gust. You hear Sundance shout something else, and just barely have time to call for Jane to dodge right and back to avoid a consecutive Quick Attack and Hyper Fang, before trying to have Aura drop a wave of Stun Spore.
Sundance laughs maniacally. “Are you the one who gave Kelly a hiding in Viridian Forest? You must be, with that Ivysaur in the wings! I didn’t think you’d actually be good; I thought she just lost because she’s garbage!”
“Come over here and say that to my face, you little-!” Scallion cuts off what was almost certainly going to be a very unpleasant word by quickly gagging Kelly with another vine.
“Sundance, don’t get cocky,” Kidd growls. “Finish this.”
“I know, I know,” Sundance replies. “Hey, kid! You wanna see why they call me Sundance?” You do not wanna see why they call her Sundance, but suspect she’s going to show you anyway. She does another pirouette and snaps her fingers. “Raticate! Flame Wheel! Knock that thing out of the sky!”
Raticate snarls, leaps into the air and curls into a ball. By the time it hits the ground again, it’s rolling head-over-heels and wreathed in a spinning ring of fire. Another gust of twinkling golden Stun Spore burns up in a shower of sparks as it hits, and Raticate starts rolling faster and faster, using rocks as ramps to launch itself into the air and trying to get hits on Aura. You tell her to fly higher and try to hit Raticate with Absorb from a distance, then see your opportunity – Jane is no longer locked in a desperate melee with Raticate, and Kidd’s Zubat is flying low. With a word and a gesture, you order Jane to hit it in the back with Pursuit, and it falls to the ground. There is a flash of light and a curse as Kidd recalls it.
“How sure are you about this?” she asks as she reaches for another Pokéball.
“Like sixty percent!” Sundance says, as Aura hits Raticate with a Gust and slams it into a boulder. “Forty eight percent!” Kidd scowls and throws her ball.
“Sandshrew, we need some cover! Sand Attack!”
Her second Pokémon hits the ground already rolled into a perfect sphere and starts spinning, throwing up clouds of dust that cover the whole battlefield. Aura, without even being told, starts to counter with Gust, but the Sandshrew’s continuous Sand Attack keeps producing more dust clouds that take several seconds for Aura’s wind to overcome. Then, suddenly, the dust clears. Kidd, Sundance and Raticate are gone, and where Sandshrew was spinning there is only the entrance to a burrowed tunnel, much too small for a human.
Kelly starts making some muffled rage noises around Scallion’s vine gag. It kinda looks like they ditched her. You’d better think fast, kid. It doesn’t look like Kidd and Sundance headed back to the camp; you’d be able to see them if they were retreating by the same path they just took. If you had a burrowing Pokémon you might be able to track Sandshrew as it returns to its trainer, but since you don’t, that’s probably out. You can send Aura into the air and find them, then give chase, but you wouldn’t be able to drag Kelly along with you; she’ll slow you down way too much. You can always Sleep Powder her again, but she could still wake up and wriggle out of her restraints if you leave her unguarded, and at that point you’ll never find her if she makes a run for it. You could leave a Pokémon guarding her, but you don’t really want to split up while there are… y’know, Pokémon thieves about. Then there’s the camp, with Blue, Ellie, Lexa and the others. If you rush back to free them, you’ll lose precious time to follow Kidd and Sundance, but they’ll be able to help you out. Of course, there’s also the question of what Team Rocket was even here for – you don’t know whether they’ll try to return to your camp for their loot before you can catch them, or cut their losses and vanish like Kelly did when you first met her.