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Our heroes have now finally arrived in Mossdeep City, and are on their way to the Gym so Ash can battle for his seventh badge. As they are about to enter the Gym, a woman runs out, in a hurry. She stops at Ash’s request, and he asks her if the Gym Leader is around. She explains that the Gym Leader is at the Mossdeep Space Center to watch a rocket launch. This instantly catches Max’s interest, and as the woman explained that the rocket will be escorting a manned space shuttle, Max gets all googly-eyed at the prospect of watching the launch himself. Brock consults his guidebook for info on the Space Center, and Max talks about it a bit more. May is also interested, remembering their recent adventure with a Lunatone and learning of its origin in outer space. Ash then gets very annoyed with all of this space talk, and insists that the only reason they’ll be going there is to find the Gym Leader. Max pretends to apologize, but to himself he thinks that Ash will love it once he gets there, which will allow Max more time to explore and have fun.
At the Space Center, the astronaut pilot of the shuttle is going through the prelaunch checklist with mission control. Some conversation also goes on between Jin (the pilot) and Rei (his wife, one of the operators in the mission control center). While all this is going on, Team Rocket is quite a distance away in a tree, observing the launch site through their binoculars. As they talk, Meowth gets the idea to, believe it or not, steal the shuttle and give it to the Boss! He has a vision of Giovanni waking up in the morning and smiling when he sees the Team Rocket rocket outside his bedroom window. Meowth then sees Giovanni flying in the shuttle to explore outer space, and of course praising “Meowth and friends” for giving it to him. The trio does their trademark cheer at the end.
Meanwhile, Ash & friends are walking through a hallway in the Space Center, with Ash wondering where the Gym Leader is. Opening a door, they find a room with various machines inside. This catches Ash’s interest, and Max says that these are the training machines that astronauts use. Ash runs to one, while May, Max, and Brock approach another. May wonders what it is, and Max calls it a moonwalker. He explains that astronauts use it to practice walking on the moon in zero gravity, and May pictures herself having fun on the machine. Ash, meanwhile, is interested in the nearby MAT (multi-axis trainer). Finding the gate in front of it unlocked, he and Pikachu get in the seat and Ash straps himself in, thinking it’ll be fun to ride it. Looking around for a way to start it, he sees two buttons on the left armrest: a blue one and a red one. He pushes the red one, and the MAT promptly begins to rotate and spin rapidly, in one direction after another. Ash and Pikachu yell out and hang on for dear life. Finally, Pikachu braces itself against Ash and stretches its tail towards the blue button, barely managing to push it, stopping the ride. Ash and Pikachu get off, stagger up to the others, and collapse, very dizzy. His friends chide him mildly for getting on the machine without knowing what he was doing.
Suddenly, a series of lights and sounds coming from some low windows catches Ash’s attention, from his prone position on the floor. He crawls over and looks, and what he sees REALLY catches his attention this time: it’s a Pokemon battle! An identically dressed boy and girl (who we know as Tate & Liza) stand at opposite ends of a battlefield, with Tate’s Solrock and Liza’s Lunatone in the middle of a battle. A Baltoy is stationed at each corner of the room, four in total. As the battle continues, Lunatone and Solrock both use Tackle, colliding in the middle of the field. Tate then tells Solrock to use Sandstorm, but it has no effect on Lunatone. Liza taunts her brother for forgetting that Sandstorm doesn’t work on other Rock-types. She then tells Lunatone to use Psychic, which shoves Solrock back into the wall behind Tate. Tate worriedly asks his Pokemon if it’s ok. It is, so Tate calls for a Solarbeam, which Solrock begins to charge. Liza calls for a Tackle to try and break Solrock’s concentration, and Lunatone hits Solrock with the Tackle, but it’s still able to fire its Solarbeam. Liza has Lunatone counter with Ice Beam. The two beams collide and clash for a bit, but the Ice Beam prevails, and ends up freezing Solrock! Tate recalls his Pokemon and says it put up a good battle, then braces himself for the teasing from his sister. Liza points out a few things Tate did wrong, and just then, Ash & friends enter the room. Tate and Liza gasp in surprise, and suddenly the newcomers are levitated into the air! Turns out this is a weightless room, and Tate and Liza were held down to their respective platforms by ankle straps. They both release the straps and float up to join the newcomers. Liza turns Ash upright, and explains about the weightless room. She says that the Baltoy use their Psychic move to simulate weightlessness. Tate floats up to meet Max, and shows him a little weightless somersault trick. Everyone introduces themselves, and Ash compliments Liza on her battle. Tate makes an angry retort, but is shot down by his sister, much to his annoyance. Max and Tate then talk to each other about how their sisters are so bossy, think they know everything, etc. May identifies with Liza as well, with them both having brothers and all. Despite being twins, Liza is slightly older than Tate, a fact she never lets him hear the end of. Tate and Liza go on to explain that they were having their battle while waiting for the rocket launch. Their father is the shuttle’s pilot, so they are there to see him off. Their mother works at the Center as well. After they talk a bit more, Ash says that they came to the center looking for the Gym Leader. Tate and Liza say that he should look no farther. Ash is surprised, so the siblings identify themselves as the co-Gym Leaders of Mossdeep City.
After a scene change, we see the group back in the room with the rides from earlier, and we see Tate demonstrating how to ride the MAT properly. Max can’t resist teasing Ash about this. Liza then tells Ash that in their Gym, they do double battles using their Lunatone and Solrock. Liza seems surprised when Ash still wants to challenge them regardless. After a bit more conversation, Liza asks May if there’s a ride she’d like to try, and May says she’d love to try the moonwalker, so Liza and May head over there. Ash is about to follow, but Pikachu leaps off his shoulder and stops him. Ash asks what’s up, and Pikachu responds by doing hilarious impressions of Corphish, Grovyle, and Torkoal, with the message being that the other Pokemon would love the chance to explore the Space Center as well. Ash gets the message. A scene change later, we see all the group’s Pokemon trying various rides and machines. Grovyle rides another MAT while Corphish watches. Combusken rides the MAT next to it. Torkoal, Forretress, Lombre, and Mudkip play around in one of the weightless rooms, with the help of the Baltoy. Pikachu, Skitty, and Bulbasaur, all wearing space suits, swim in one of those water tanks used to simulate weightlessness. May and Liza talk for a bit while watching the swimming, and Tate shows Max a flight simulator used to train astronauts. The two boys sit in the pilot and copilot seats, as Tate explains some stuff about it. He starts it up, and an amazed Max happily joins in the pretend mission. We then see Corphish exiting into a hallway and noticing a string of motorized carts carrying space food that is going to be loaded onto the shuttle. Confused, but apparently recognizing some of the pictures on the boxes as food, the crab Pokemon excitedly takes off after the carts.
Back at the launch site, the prelaunch work is continuing. Jin has now joined his wife Rei in the mission control center. Rei suddenly notices something on the bank of monitors, and asks a worker to focus in on a certain area among the crates of space food that have been loaded onto the shuttle. The monitor in question zooms in, but nothing seems amiss. Rei apologizes, thinking it must have been her imagination. It turns out, however, that it wasn’t her imagination, since we see a brief shot of Corphish, stowed away among the crates and happily chowing down on the space food.
Later, Ash, Pikachu, Brock, May, and Liza catch up to Jin as he is about to board the shuttle again for the last time before launch. Liza introduces her friends to her father, and they talk briefly about possibly finding Pokemon in space. Liza then asks Jin if he’s seen Tate, since they haven’t seen him since he and Max ran off together. Jin says no, he hasn’t seen him. Then he suddenly gets a call on his little radio alerting him to a security breach. The scene then cuts to Team Rocket, dressed in space suits, jogging down a hallway. They’re clearly visible and audible from mission control, and Rei, over a microphone, demands to know what they’re doing. TR stops and says their motto, and that’s when Ash & the others find them. TR announces their plan to steal the rocket, and Jin and Liza say there’s no way they’ll get away with it. James sends out Cacnea to do a Pin Missile (it doesn’t try to hug him this time), and Ash counters with Pikachu’s Thunderbolt. Despite getting zapped, Jessie still manages to send out Seviper to do a Haze, allowing them to make their escape and head for the shuttle’s cockpit.
Max and Tate are now in the cockpit, and Max is worried that maybe they shouldn’t be there. Tate says it’s ok, and Max feels better. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is nearing the cockpit. Passing the crates of food from earlier, Jessie suddenly goes back to them, excited. Meowth insists that they continue forward, but Jessie grabs a bunch of food packets anyway. After they leave, Corphish pops up from its hiding place among the crates. Team Rocket have now reached the cockpit, only to find it occupied by Max and Tate. Meowth quickly ties them up with a rope, and boasts that Team Rocket now finally has their rocket. To put them in the proper mood for takeoff, James sends out Chimecho, but it Wraps around his head first. He gets it off and attaches it to the ceiling, and its Heal Bell calms them down. Meowth pushes the launch button, and the boosters start to fire. Everyone else notices this with alarm, and Rei radios to Jin that Tate and Max are aboard the shuttle. It’s too late though, as the shuttle is already taking off. The rocket and boosters fall off, and the shuttle is now in flight. Team Rocket’s cheering is suddenly interrupted when the shuttle inexplicably stops. Looking outside, they see that the Baltoy from the space center are using Psychic to stop the shuttle’s progress! Tate explains what’s going on in whispers to Max. Then Max notices Corphish hiding under a bank of controls. Corphish motions for Max to be quiet (doing the “shhh” gesture with its claw), and he nods. As Team Rocket decide what to do next, they suddenly find themselves suspended in midair! Offscreen, Corphish had cut the ropes and freed Max and Tate, and now Tate’s Solrock was using Psychic to levitate Team Rocket. Solrock throws them around the cabin for a bit until they all collide and fall to the floor, out cold. The boys and the Pokemon cheer, and Tate jumps on the radio and tells his parents that they’re OK. Liza and the others are happy, but Jin says that the Baltoy won’t be able to land the shuttle, so it’ll crash unless they do something!
Tate takes the pilot’s seat and says that he thinks he can land the shuttle, due to his experience in the simulator. Max says he’ll help as well, so the landing process begins. The Baltoy release their hold on the shuttle, and Jin begins relaying instructions to the boys. After a few tense moments of switch-flipping and control-monitoring, in which an impatient Corphish threatens to press a random button before Max whacks its claw away, the shuttle lands safely. Team Rocket, still dazed, stagger out of the shuttle and fall to the ground. There, Ash and the others are waiting for them. Combusken burns them with Fire Spin, Lunatone freezes them into the shape of a rocket with Ice Beam, and Pikachu uses Iron Tail to blast them off.
Later, the shuttle takes off for real, with Jin at the controls. Ash and friends watch the takeoff and comment on how Jin can now search for Pokemon in space, as Tate and Liza tell Ash that they’re now ready to accept his challenge. Ash is, of course, excited for the upcoming battle.
Thanks To Geodude For Writing this for us
375: It's Still Rocket Roll to Me
375: Tate & Liza! Space Center Battle!
Ash & Co. Reach Mossdeep and meet Liza & Tat