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Ash and May are now headed to Petalburg City, where Ash is expecting to have his first Houen Gym match. May then gets tired, and tells Ash to slow down. But Ash is just too eager to get to the Gym, so May sighs as they enter Petalburg City, and insists that before going to Petalburg Gym, they take a small rest at the park. May, who seems to be nervous, asks Ash why he’s so eager to go visit Petalburg Gym… and he tells her he wants to collect 8 badges, and participate in the Houen league, and that manages to impress May and force a smile out of her. So, Ash then wonders aloud what the Gym leader there is like… and May seems to blush. Ash then gets a suspicion that she know him… hmm, could it possibly be her boyfriend? Her enemy, maybe? Ash tries to ask, but May pretends to not know anything. Ash, who seems to be fed up, says that he just wants to get the Gym battle over with, and then they’ll leave. So, May requests for Ash to let her wait there. He sighs, and heads off.
Ash and Pikachu wish each other luck as the step into Petalburg Gym. However, the Gym seems to be vacant… he calls out that he’s here for a challenge. After calling a few times, a boy appears, shocked. He says he saw Ash on TV at the Silver Convention! Ash, embarrassed, scratches his head and introduces himself. Then, the boy remembers him as “the guy who lost in the Silver Convention Second Round, Ash then yells at Max about how it was the Second Round of the Finals. He repeats his name, and then the boy realizes he was mistaken, and apparently got Ash confused with a different trainer, Alf. The boy introduces himself as Max, and then he notices Ash’s Pikachu, and claims that he recalls seeing him in a photo, hugging his Pikachu! Ash should be proud of his fame, but instead, he grumbles about how he lost to Harrisons’s Bashamo. However, Max says that he acknowledges Charizard’s battle, and that he put up a good dramatic battle. Then, he gives Ash a few strategies on how he could have won. Ash then gets embarrassed at the fact that a little boy knows better battle skills than him… so he promises himself he’ll do better next time.
Anyways, after seeing Ash on TV, Max seems surprised at the fact that he would appear in Petalburg Gym out of all places, so he asks, and Ash explains he’s entering the Houen league by earning 8 badges, and he wishes to see the Gym leader! Max then says that he’s the Gym leader. Stunned, Ash challenges him to a battle. They take their places in the field, and Max says that the rules of Petalburg Gym are 3 VS 3. Ash can’t battle, because all he has with him is Pikachu! So, he offers a single Pokemon battle… but ends up getting into an argument with Max. Suddenly, Ash hears May calling him from outside! Ash, wondering what she’s doing there, walks out with Max, and comes to a shock. May lives here, along with Norman and Carolyn, her parents, and Max, who is her brother! Ash introduces himself, and asks if Max is a good Gym leader. The parents then glare at him, as well as May, and May tells that her father is the real Gym leader! And, Carolyn is the one that sent May on this journey. Max then introduces Ash to them, and AGAIN makes the mistake of calling Ash “the guy who lost in the second round”. Ash glares and corrects him, and Carolyn gives Max a small lecture about pretending to be the Gym leader… Then, Carolyn asks May what happened with her bike. She manages to nervously tell the story of what happened, and Ash apologizes. Norman gladly forgives him, and says that it was really TR to blame. Then, Norman asks what Pokemon May got from Odamaki, so she immediately opens her Pokeball, revealing Torchic. Max, disappointed, says that she should have picked Treecko. Torchic hears him and gets angry, Pecking him hard. However, Norman and Carolyn are very proud of May’s Torchic… but Max is still upset about the Peck, and now wishes even more that she picked Treecko J.
As they eat lunch, Ash tells about his journey and how he traveled various places, while Max gets jealous. Then, May brings up that Ash came because he wanted a Gym battle. Norman then asks Ash how many badges he has, and since Ash doesn’t seem to have any, he asks how many Pokemon he has. Ash then says that he has only Pikachu, but then Max interrupts and claims that can’t be true, since he participated in the silver tournament… but then Ash explains how he sent them all to Pallet Town. Therefore, Norman declines Ash’s challenge, considering they need three Pokemon. Ash gets upset, and explains how he wanted to turn over a new leaf, start his journey over again in Houen… so they come up with a compromise: Since Ash is really eager to battle, theres nothing against the law of battling Gym leaders just for fun, to train… so Carolyn has the idea to let Ash battle Norman, just to train. Norman accepts, Ash thanks him, and they start to battle!
Ash starts by taking out Pikachu, Norman takes out Yarukimono! Ash checks the Pokedex, and it says that Yarukimono is a very hyper Pokemon, that likes to riot around. Just then, Yarukimono starts running around the Gym, but Norman manages to calm it down. Then, it lets out a very loud cry, which almost knocks Ash back. As Ash is busy thinking of a strategy, Max (the ref) signals the battle to start! Yarukimono starts by trying to Scratch, as Pikachu easily avoids it. Yarukimono, not willing to give up, keeps trying to Scratch Pikachu, who avoids it until he gets really confused. When he does, Yarukimono finally manages to get Pikachu! Then, Pikachu goes for a Quick Attack, missing Yarukimono…
Meanwhile, as Team Rocket watch the battle through the window, they realize that Yarukimono would be a great Pokemon for the secret organization, and it will also impress the boss… so they plot to cature it together with Pikachu…!
Back on the field, Pikachu goes for a Thunderbolt, missing Yarukimono yet again. Ash is starting to feel overwhelmed from Yarukimono’s speed… Then, they both tackle each other with a Body Slam and a Quick Attack… and Carolyn then realizes that Ash is a pretty strong trainer (of course, she’s also impressed at her husband’s training). May, however, isn’t so sure about this… but then Max convinces her by telling her how far he saw Ash get in the Silver Convention. Back on the field, Yarukimono Scratches Pikachu dry once again, then uses a Headbutt, finishing it off!
May and Max gasp, as Ash quickly grabs Pikachu, making sure its ok… well, at least it’s condition isn’t as bad as it was when he first arrived in Houen. Norman compliments him on his battling, and says that he just needs to get stronger and come back later. Suddenly, a big explosion is heard outside… quickly, they run outside, as Team Rocket emerge from the smoke! Carolyn asks if these are May’s friends, but she explains that they’re bad people. As usual, they demand they hand over Pikachu and Yarukimono, as they take out Arbok and Weezing. Weezing does a Smokescreen, as Arbok Headbutts Pikachu. Yarukimono then decides to help, but it can’t see anything in the Smokescreen, so Weezing escapes! Then, Max has an idea, as he suggests May to use her Pokemon. Nervous, she takes out Torchic, and thinks…. As she thinks, Arbok takes the time to attack Torchic! As Jessie gets ready to take Yarukimono and Pikachu, Ash has Pikachu Thunderbolt them… it hits them, but it also hits Max by accident. Ash quickly runs to check if he’s ok, which he is… but as he does this, Team Rocket escape in the Smokescreen! Uh-oh… but wait! Pikachu and Yarukimono are safe. They all breathe a sigh of relief… but then, May realizes that her Torchic is gone! As they search around the neighborhood, Ash promises May that from experience, he can assure that she’ll get Torchic back. They follow the direction Team Rocket’s balloon went…
Meanwhile, Team Rocket land in the woods, and start to take Pikachu out of the bag… but wait! To their surprise, Pikachu isn’t in the bag… instead, Torchic is! Although Jessie seems to like Torchic’s charming expression, James doesn’t think it would be good for the secret organization, nor does he think the boss would like it. So, they decide to think of a way to lure Pikachu…
Meanwhile, as Ash and co search the woods, they decide to split up. Norman will go with Carolyn, and Ash will go with May and Max. Ash then wishes he had Noctowl with him… Max takes out a magnifying glass, searching for footprints, but then May reminds him that he wouldn’t find footprints if they flew in a balloon. Max then makes a foolish comment, earning him a slight knock on the head from May, making him cry. Ash and May sigh, but then Max quickly calms down and gets up. May says to hurry before something terrible happens to Torchic… Suddenly, Norman and Carolyn appear, and give them the news that they found TR’s balloon J! They lead them to the balloon… and find not Team Rocket, but something even worse. Torchic is locked in a small cage! May and Ash quickly run up to the cage… and fall into Team Rocket’s trap hole. So, Ash and May tell Carolyn and Norman to get the cage from the other side. They do… and fall into ANOTHER hole! Team Rocket then appear, and laugh and say their motto. Ash then wishes he had Bayleef, so he could climb out of the hole. As Ash makes sure May is ok, Arbok suddenly pounces into the hole! As Pikachu and Arbok fight, Ash and May call her parents for help. Norman and Carolyn easily climb out, and help Ash and co. Norman then takes out Yarukimono, and easily beats Team Rocket by Headbutting Arbok and Scratching Weezing. Quickly, they grab the cage, give it to May, as she opens it and huggles Torchic ^^. Meanwhile, Arbok seems to be coiled tightly around Yarukimono, so Ash has Pikachu Body Slam it. Then, May tries to use Torchic, and tells it to use “Mushroom” attack, but then Max corrects her, and realizes that she meant “Ember” (I know they sound different in English, but apparently she got “Hinoko” (Ember) mixed up with “Kinoko” (Mushroom). Should be interesting how they dub it). Anyways, May commands again, but by mistake, Torchic attacks Max, burning him! He quickly blows it out, and gets a bit annoyed. This time, she tells it to use Peck… but AGAIN it attacks Max! It really seems to have a grudge against him from what he said about Treecko.
Meanwhile, Ash and Norman are still fighting off TR. Pikachu Headbutts Arbok, Yarkimono Scratches and Tackles them both so they land in the balloon. Finally, Pikachu Thunderbolts them, blasting them off!
Then, May apologizes to Torchic for letting it go through that, and hugs it again. Norman and Carolyn are glad to see that May and Torchic are becoming friends. Later theat evening, Carolyn and Max tell May that she really needs to train better. Then they decide that they’ll count on Ash to help her whenever she needs help, and he agrees ^^. So, May promises that she’ll have faith in Ash, as well as Max, who is very knowledgeable on Pokemon. Norman wishes her and Ash best of luck in the Houen league, as she gives them each a badge case. Also, he gives them a Pokemon Navigator (also called “Pokenavi”). Max seems to know how to use it the most, so he’ll be the one to keep an eye on it.
As they set off, Max checks the Pokenavi, and it shows that the nearest Gym is in Kanazumi City. So, as the parents wish them all best of luck, they set off, and head for Kanazumi City!
Thanks to Spinazak for writing This for us
279: There's No Place Like Hoenn!
279: Petalburg Gym! VS. Yarukimono!
Ash and May get to Petalburg City
Ash and Norman, May's Father, have a practice battle
Ash gets the PokéNavi
Max, May's Brother, joins the group