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Ash and friends are exiting a Pokémon Center when they bump into a younger trainer who has brought his Growlithe to be treated. He warns them about a strong trainer in the woods who has been challenging everyone who passes by.
As our friends leave town, they are watched from the bushes by Team Rocket. They plan to follow them and capture Pikachu, and Wobbuffet comes out of its PokeBall again, much to Jessie's annoyance.
Brock, Ash and Misty come to a rope bridge across a small gorge. Standing nearby is a pretty girl, and Brock immediately goes to flirt with her. She introduces herself as Mickey and challenges a surprised Brock to a Pokemon battle! Ash realizes that she must be the trainer they had been warned about.
Mickey's Pokémon turns out to be a Skarmory, a metallic bird-like Pokemon. Skarmory is a steel-type with razor-sharp wings. For some reason, steel types are weak against fire so Mickey and her Skarmory have been training out here in the wilderness and challenging any trainers with fire Pokemon. Brock accepts her challenge and releases his Vulpix.
In the bushes, Team Rocket says that Skarmory is rare and valuable, so they'll steal it.
The Skarmory's first move is to fly by and stir up a cloud of dust so Vulpix can't see. When the dust clears, Brock tells Vulpix to use Flamethrower but Skarmory uses Agility to avoid it. Seeing that he's at a disadvantage, Brock tells Vulpix to use its own Agility to get away but Skarmory is too fast and knocks Vulpix out with a Steel Wing attack.
Brock admits defeat. Ash rises to the challenge and lets out Cyndaquil. Skarmory swoops in but Cyndaquil can't get its flame started and is forced to dodge. Mickey commends Cyndaquil's defense. Getting desperate, Ash begs Cyndaquil to start its fire but it can't, so he has it use Agility to keep ahead of Skarmory's attacks until the flame finally lights. Then Cyndaquil uses Flamethrower but Skarmory dodges and uses a Swift attack which weakens Cyndaquil severely. The Skarmory swoops down for a Steel Wing attack when suddenly two metal claws appear and capture both Skarmory and Cyndaquil!
It's Team Rocket in their balloon. They gloat and say their motto (and Wobbuffet appears again). Everyone runs after the balloon, and the captive Skarmory manages to use its Swift attack to cut the cable that's holding it. It falls, Brock runs to catch it, and is almost crushed under its weight.
However TR still has Cyndaquil. Ash and Pikachu pursue the balloon on foot until they get tired, but the Skarmory appears and slashes a hole in the balloon. The cage holding Cyndaquil drops into Ash's hands as TR goes blasting off. The others catch up to him and Mickey congratulates Skarmory for saving the day.
That night, they're all having dinner at Mickey's cabin. Mickey likes Brock's cooking, and Brock suggests that she join them on their journey so he could cook for her every evening, but is silenced when Misty pinches his ear. Ash asks about her training techniques, and she explains that she and Skarmory did everything together. If you want your Pokemon to be strong you have to be willing to do the same thing. Ash vows that he and Cyndaquil can become strong too.
Early the next morning, Ash trains with Cyndaquil. They run up a hill and Ash reminds Cyndaquil that they have to work on getting its flame to light faster or they'll always be at a disadvantage. Then they work on Cyndaquil's Tackle and Agility moves for a while.
Back at the house, the others realize that Ash is gone and Brock says he must be serious about this because he left without breakfast.
Ash and Cyndaquil take a break and Ash reaches up into a tree to pick some apples. Unfortunately he disturbs a bunch of Beedrill! He and Cyndaquil run, with the Beedrill in pursuit. When Ash trips and falls, Cyndaquil jumps between him and the Beedrill and drives them away with a fire attack. Ash is happy that it finally got its fire to light. Later they do some target practice, Ash tosses sticks into the air for Cyndaquil to shoot at.
At about noon, Mickey is outside brushing her Skarmory when Ash returns and asks her for a rematch. Brock volunteers to be the referee as they face off. Cyndaquil gets its fire burning right away, surprising the others.
Skarmory's swoops and stirs up a cloud of dust just like before. Ash tells Cyndaquil to do a Smoke Screen to blind the Skarmory, but this isn't enough to stop the Skarmory from dodging a Flamethrower. Skarmory uses its Steel Wing attack but Cyndaquil's Agility keeps it one step ahead. So far the battle isn't getting anywhere and they can't keep dodging forever, so both trainers agree to use their Pokemon's strongest attacks.
Mickey orders a Steel Wing, Ash orders a Flamethrower. Cyndaquil hits Skarmory dead center but Skarmory ploughs through the flames and barrels into Cyndaquil! Cyndaquil is injured and Skarmory loops around for a second hit. Refusing to give up, Cyndaquil slowly stands up. Mickey is impressed, this is the first time a Pokemon has taken two Steel Wing attacks and is still willing to battle. Ash gives Cyndaquil the chance to quit but it won't, and the flames on its back flare brighter than before!
Flustered, Mickey tells Skarmory to use Fury Attack but Cyndaquil just keeps dodging. Seeing one last chance she orders a final Steel Wing attack but Cyndaquil leaps up and the Skarmory crashes into a rock. Cyndaquil uses Flamethrower at maximum to weaken it further, then Tackles it to win the match! Mickey recalls Skarmory and Ash celebrates his victory.
Before our friends depart, Mickey tells them that she feels she's trained enough and plans to go to challenge the Gym Leaders. Perhaps she'll end up in the Johto League and she and Ash will battle again.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket is hanging in a tree, all tangled up in the ropes of the balloon. Wobbuffet comes out of its PokeBall but won't help when Jessie tells it to.
154: Hot Matches
154: Skarmory Vs. Cyndaquil! Steel Wings
Ash's Cyndaquil gets trained enough not to be warmed up before battle to use attacks