One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
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.
Take the scenic route, explore a bit more of the mountain
You’re still feeling understandably salty over a bunch of wild Pokémon ambushing you, knocking you out and taking your stuff, so you decide to blow off some steam by wandering back down the mountain in the opposite direction to the way you came, looping back around by a longer path to return to your camp site from below. You still have your notebook; you don’t need a Pokédex to do some solid field research, and you can send Aura up to fly overhead and let you know if she spots anything interesting. You meander downward, stopping now and again to idly draw some of the plants or take a leaf rubbing; it’s all lichens, hardy mountain grasses and unpleasant thorny shrubs up here, only a couple of twisted, put-upon trees. It makes a lot of sense that you’ve only seen cave Pokémon like Zubat and Sandshrew. If you had all the time in the world to map the place out, you’d be interested to find all the springs and streams to see whether any cool Pokémon live there, although to be honest you doubt it.
As the mountain cave fades away and the Clefairy’s strange song fills your head with fog, you come to realise, all of a sudden, that you’re back home, in Pallet Town. You’re at school, on your lunch break – and so is Blue, who is mid-sentence saying something about why studying Pokémon scientifically is dumb.
You were never close with Blue, back in Pallet Town. Obviously you knew him – you were at school together and he’s related to the Professor, so it would have been hard not to – you just didn’t feel like he had the qualities you wanted in a friendship. And, I mean, fair play to you; he’s a piece of $#!t. But you remember this day. Your Pokémon Studies teacher had asked the class why people become trainers, and you and Blue had gotten into a fairly spirited argument about how much trainers should value strength and power, which spilled over into lunchtime. You think it was about six months before you both left home.
You’re not going to pay any attention to the warnings, are you?
lol, no; follow Jane’s lead and keep going, quietly
yeah I figured, Larry said the same thing just before The Tangela Incident. God, he was a piece of $#!t (rest in peace, man).
Opting for a stealthy approach, you turn off the light on your Pokédex and put your trust in Jane’s impeccable night vision. Reaching down to touch her shoulder with one hand so she can lead you, you creep slowly forward, hearing the giggling grow incrementally louder. You think you can see a pinkish light source around another couple of bends. With any luck, you can peek around a corner and get a look at whoever – whatever – is hiding here without revealing your own presence. These caves are full of weird rock formations formed by the slow dripping of water and accretion of limestone; with Jane’s help, you move from one to the next as the light slowly gets better and you find yourself able to see properly. Finally, you crouch behind a big stalagmite right next to a bend in the tunnel, the strange pink light around the corner now almost as bright as torchlight. You slowly crane your head around the bend, and see… just a floating ball of soft pink light, hovering in a dead end. Puzzled, you stand and walk up to the light. There’s no heat coming off it, it’s just… light. Reminds you of the light that Pokémon glow with when they evolve, or when they channel energy for some of their more powerful techniques. You vaguely recall that some Psychic, Ghost and Fairy Pokémon can create spiritual light sources, a minor application of their abilities that doesn’t even rise to the level of a real battle technique like Flash.
There’s really no question here – even after hearing the transmissions he picked up, you’re not convinced that Miguel’s rambling about “the Enemy” represent an urgent threat. It’s just a bunch of code words and static; you have no reason to think it’s connected to the mysteries you’re here to investigate. Jane… well, you don’t know what she’s found, but she clearly thinks it’s worth investigating, and as a Pokémon trainer you feel like you have to trust your Pokémon’s instincts. Besides, the palaeontologists probably have Blue and Squirtle with them. They can handle anything that comes up, right?
You decide, on balance, that the risks of descending the mountain at night, or even just sending Aura, are probably not worth the benefits of warning Ellie and Mal about your new intel – such as it is. You’re still maybe 50/50 that Miguel is just a paranoid lunatic who’s picked up some unusual static on the radio and interpreted it as an “enemy” code, and you kind of want to keep your eye on him, just in case he is somehow responsible for the strange thefts at the camp. Besides, you think Blue will probably be back with the palaeontologists by now. Personally I think you’re overrating Blue’s sense of duty there, but I suppose it’s possible he’s decided to mooch off their supplies in exchange for providing some kind of half-hearted protection.
Which Pokémon do you turn to? – Aura, the Beautifly
You need to do something about this smog before it chokes you – and hey, you’re a smart kid, you know exactly how to deal with that. You have a Flying Pokémon; time to use her. Aura appears from her Pokéball in a flash of light, and without even a word from you, she begins to flap her wings, using Gust to blow the clouds of choking, toxic smoke back into the cave it spewed out of.
Two things now happen at once. First, with the smog gone, your vision is now clear and you can see a squelching, purple goo-like Pokémon that you recognise as a Grimer, clearly trying to sneak up behind you using the heavy brown clouds as cover and just as clearly alarmed that it has now been exposed. Second, you hear a startled yelp from the ledge up above you, where the first enemy commands came from.
What moves should Scallion focus on? – Razor Leaf and Sleep Powder
What moves should Nancy keep? – Thunder Wave and Helping Hand
Now that Scallion’s bigger and can’t lift his own weight on his Vine Whips, they’re not as useful; may as well go into Razor Leaf specialisation instead. He’ll still have the vines, obviously; they just won’t be as versatile or effective without continual practice. As for Sleep Powder, it’s not only great in battle, it’s so useful for pacifying wild Pokémon – or potentially even people, if you run into “Team Rocket” again – that you can hardly pass it up. Nancy, on the other hand, you think should stick to what she’s already good at. Thunder Wave is just a great disabling technique, and Helping Hand fits her cheerleader schtick too well to get rid of it. The other moves she could learn instead might be useful, but you don’t think she really has the temperament for trickery to master them.
You really need to hurry to reach your destination and get on with that… mission… thingy… or whatever. I mean, not that I give a $#!t but it seemed important to you. The going’s going to be much slower now that you’re climbing the mountain and trekking through caves. Still, Mount Moon isn’t completely inhospitable. Yeah, the cave floors are pretty uneven – lots of stalagmites and unexpected potholes – and gravel and dust keep falling on your head in a very unsettling way. Your Pokédexes have GPS, but with so much rock over your heads they might as well be cardboard compasses. On the other hand, you and Blue both have torches (plus the glowing tail flame of Blue’s new Charmander) and Brock’s map shows the layout of the caves on your direct route in fairly high detail. There are even a couple of softly-glowing phosphor lanterns that must have been left by the dig team as waypoints. You more than once trip over an unruly Geodude, but Scallion and Aura both have Grass attacks that can quickly send them packing; with Blue’s Squirtle on your flank, they’re no trouble at all. There are also Zubat just… everywhere. You love all Pokémon, Professor Oak groomed you to be a paragon young trainer and scientist, but if there were ever a Pokémon that could stretch your patience to breaking point, it’d be the one constantly trying to perch on your shoulder and give you a quick anaesthetic bite so it can suck your blood unnoticed while you walk onward through the dark caves. Fortunately, Nancy the Negator isn’t having any of that bull$#!t. On top of everything else, you have this uncanny sensation of being watched by something just outside your torchlight. When you bring it up, the Pokémon just seem to think you’re being paranoid, but Blue bites his lip and mutters something about how it’s not paranoia if “they” really are out to get you.