Next stop: Union Cave.
On the way, though, there’s something of a development:
Hold on — mareep is an electric-type?
I thought she was normal-type, but I guess it makes sense. Sheep. Wool. Wool is pretty static-y. Alright. And we were looking for lightning attacks to deal with Garland’s totodile, so that’s perfect.
I love mareep more and more.
When we reach the hills at the end of Route 32, it’s clear there’s no way around the cave — the only way we’re getting to the next town is by going through.
On the plus side, a new area means a new catch.
There’s a brand new friend to add to our ranks — Vincent the Zubat. Since zubat is a vampire bat and Vincent was, like… a vampire guy or whatever. Right? I actually never found Yuffie or Vincent in FF7, so there goes my nerd cred.
Anyway, with the addition of Vincent, we’ve hit seven Pokemon total. That’s including the useless egg sitting in our party. So at this point we’ve maxed out the six Pokemon we can carry at any given time, and we’re just beginning to build up a backup team should we ever need them. Hopefully we don’t.
But back to the Union Cave…
Aside from zubats, what we’re up against are rattatas and rock-types. Which… we’re super not equipped to deal with.
Even so, a few Leers pull us through and–
What? Faris is evolving!
Yeah, I just said that.
Our very first evolution — for our very first Pokemon.
Cool! How do you feel?
Little weird. Does this mohawk thing look stupid on me?
We can probably get it… extinguished later? I dunno. If that’s a thing.
Not to interrupt, but… who is that?
There’s a fair number of unsavory characters hiding down here in the dark, but none of them put up a particularly tough fight.
The exit’s visible to the south, but we head down to a lower floor first to pick up some loot: X Defend and TM 39.
By the time we walk out under the open sky again…
…someone has decided to show his or her face.
About time. I’m tired of this useless thing taking up a position in my party. What’ve we got in here?
Excuse me? Toge-what?
What a mutant.
Aw, I think he’s cute. What’re we naming him?
With our new friend in tow, we hoof it down Route 33.
No tall grass on the main road. We’ll come back for our catch once we’ve healed up at Azalea Town.
Along the way is this odd landmark:
Which the sign says is the Slowpoke Well. “Also known as the Rainmaker Well.” It even gives us the quick tourist-y history lesson. Apparently it’s local folklore that slowpoke yawns bring rain. Because there was a drought 400 years ago that ended when a slowpoke yawned.
I think we’ll ignore that guy guarding the entrance for now. Looks suspiciously like a Team Rocket goon, and I’m not itching for a fight.
The town entrance ain’t but a few yards away — and everybody there wants to talk about slowpokes.
“The slowpokes have all disappeared.” “Slowpoke tails are tasty.” “Someone is supposedly selling slowpoke tails.” Etc.
Yeah, I see where this is going. Somewhere there’s a ditch full of tail-less slowpokes, and I’m willing to bet the Rockets put them there.
This guy — Kurt — even knows where Team Rocket is headquartered for their illegal slowpoke slaughterhouse venture. Why he waited until we show up to do anything about it, I couldn’t say…
He drops some exposition and out the door he goes.
A quick heal and we follow him out to the well. (The town’s gym is blocked by another Rocket thug, so our badge fetch-quest is on hold until this situation is resolved anyway.)
Sure enough, the Rocket has cleared out.
Okay. Let’s grab Route 33’s catch and then climb into that well.
Get it? Because Setzer was a slimy snake?
Well, if it isn’t our buddy Kurt again.
The guards took off when I shouted at them. I was feeling like a huge badass, but then I fell down the ladder like an idiot and hurt my back. You’ll have to take on this massive crime syndicate on your own.
…awesome. How is it that no one in this world can do their own dirty work?
Just up the passage, we run into this charming fellow.
He’s going to “vent [his] anger” on us. …His anger over getting startled by Kurt.
Just low-level rattatas? Come on, Rocket. Step it up.
How about we add rat tails to the menu, boys? Yours, I mean. Not mine.
Edge chews through the opposition in seconds. There’s four Rockets in what turns out to be a fairly small room, and each one seems to bow out faster than the last.
Sorry, did I say “bow out?” I meant throw a hissy fit over getting beaten by a kid.
Cry more next time.
Tears are super-effective against fire Pokemon.
And that’s the last of them. As soon as we’ve pacified the last Team Rocket clown, Kurt has suddenly recovered.
My back is feeling much better!
I have a Pokemon who can literally burn you alive.
Kurt does reward us… after a fashion.
Back at his home, aside from the glowing praise, he gives us a Lure Ball (whatever that is) and offers to make other special PokeBalls if we bring him the nuts he makes them out of.
No, I’m not going to ask how he’s able to make a technological marvel like a PokeBall — a container that can store a thirty foot rock serpent inside it as energy — out of nuts from trees. Nope. Not even going to bring it up.
Outside, wandering the town again, we approach a sign and happen to step a little too close to the west gate of the the city. Which triggers…
Is it true that Team Rocket has returned?
Yeah, I just sent them packing like five seconds ago.
Hah! Quit lying.
You’re not joking? Then let’s see how good you are.
Not this again.
He leads with Ghastly.
Which I expected would be more of a problem, but two Embers takes care of it.
When he switches to Croconaw, we’re ready with our ace in the hole.
But despite having the type-advantage, Maria and Croconaw are about evenly-matched.
It comes down to a single round. One more Thundershock and Croconaw’ll croak. One more Scratch and Maria will… bleat out. (Sorry, that one was bad even by my standards.)
Maria hits first — and it’s over.
Garland tries throwing a zubat at us after Croconaw, but it’s hardly even worth mentioning.
Listen, you only won because my Pokemon were weak.
No, I won because I had twice as many as you and I had type-advantage, you idiot.
But Garland’s still not interested in advice.
He leaves us with some serial-killer line about wanting to be strong and wipe out the weak. Not creepy at all.
I don’t think too hard about it. I’m a little distracted by this:
Our beautiful Maria has evolved into —
…uh, maybe that name is another one of those things we shouldn’t really talk about.