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It is a bright and sunny day in Johto. High up on the perilous Mt. Silver, Red and Charizard, which he borrowed from Green, are slowly making their ascend. Climbing across the jagged boulders and overgrown forests, the boy brushes off the sweat on his face, and wonders where he will find the healing hotsprings to remedy his injuries.

On the other side of the mountain, in the company of her Venomoth, Sabrina is about to give herself another rinse in hotsprings when the phone on her Pokégear rings. She picks it up to find Lt. Surge calling from the Lake of Rage, and is inquired about the condition of her injured wrist. The Saffron gymleader states that she is nearing full recovery after a consecutive year's treatment with the special spring water, but says she still needs some more time, and wonders how the investigations are going on Lt. Surge's side. Lt. Surge grunts that he hasn't found anything substantial, but says it is certain that Team Rocket has been resurrected in Johto.

For the past few months, several incidents in which TR members were believed to be responsible for have been reported. From the Totodile burglary in New Bark Town, the collapse of an archaological site at the Ruins of Alph, the large scale underground export of Slowpoke tails in Azalea, to the massive land subsidance in Ecruteak, as well as the abnormal congregation of Gyaradoses at the Lake of Rage three weeks ago, it is clear that someone has united the scattered members of Team Rocket and reformed the organization. However, with their formal leader Giovanni missing, and the executives like him and Sabrina back at their respective gyms, Lt. Surge has no idea who the new mastermind could be. Determined to dig out the new leader, Lt. Surge has used S.S. Aqua as a means to travel around in Johto and gather information, and hopefully track down the headquarters of the new Team Rocket.

After ending his call with Sabrina, Lt. Surge arrives at the little store in Mahogany Town which sells ragecandybars. It is rumoured that during the Gyarados rampaging incident, a secret entrance to an underground chamber has been spotted there. He looks around in the unattended store, and suddenly hears rumbling noises made by machines coming from underneath the ground. He places his ear next to the floor to make sure that the source is located below, and proceeds to call out his Raichu to create an opening for entry. The electric rat sends out a strong energy volt from its body, and instantly blasts through the concrete ground. Lt. Surge and Raichu then jump into the hole, and find themselves in a room where electric motors are set to work and TR uniforms are hung along the walls.

The Vermillion gymleader knows that he has finally discovered the hideout of the new Team Rocket, and grins that he shall find a way to take over the organization from its new leader. However, a creepy voice suddenly comes on to giggle that it is an absurb yet interesting suggestion, and Lt. Surge turns around in shock to see a masked man dressed in black slowly materializing in front of him. He rationalizes that it must be the new TR leader, and quickly calls out his three Magnetons and has them trap the man with their electric fields.

Mask of Ice remains calm, and wishes to know how Lt. Surge located their underground chamber. Lt. Surge smirks that one whose life is in someone else's hands isn't really in the place to ask questions, but decides to reveal the answer anyway. He explains that as an electric type expert, his powerful electric Pokémon can detect the activity of motors run by high voltage electricity around. The instant he entered the ragecandybar store, he knew gigantic machines have been constructed in the area, and it didn't take long for him to figure out where they were.

Just then, Mask of Ice lifts his cloak to release his Hounder, and the dark Pokémon quickly delivers a flamethrower on Lt .Surge. But the Vermillion gymleader is well prepared and has Raichu extinguish the flames with the high voltage on its tail. Raichu then points its tail onto the throat of Hounder, causing it let out a terrified howl, and Lt. Surge grins that it is his turn to make inquiries. He demands to know the intentions of Mask of Ice for resurrecting Team Rocket, but the masked man remains silent, and Lt. Surge soon gets aggravated. He warns that Raichu's attacks can be deadly, and that its ears are standing straight up, a sign indicating that the electric pouches in its body are fully charged. He points out that the numerous machines run by electricity in the room will amplify the energy waves generated by Raichu, and hollers that the masked man will suffer greatly if he doesn't cooperate.

A low and hostile growl suddenly comes from behind, and Lt. Surge turns around in shock to find himself surrounding by a huge pack of Hounders. He grunts that he has underestimated the backup forces Mask of Ice has, but Mask of Ice giggles that the Hounders are in fact simply wild Pokémon which are responding to his Hounder's howls that carry secret messages only decipherable to their specie. The Hounders start delivering a combined roar, and instantly immobilize Lt. Surge and Raichu with the powerful sound waves vibrating in the room.

Mask of Ice remarks that it is a foolish thing to act against him, and recalls that two young boys who were stupid enough to interfere with his work have been knocked to the bottom of the Lake of Rage by him three weeks ago. He giggles that Lt. Surge will soon follow their steps, and prepares to finish off the man. But Lt. Surge puts on a grin, and says veteran military soldiers like him will always have backup plans for their missions. It turns out that prior to entering the secret underground chamber, Lt. Surge has decided to allow himself a maximum of 5 minutes to handle business. To ensure that he has means to escape just in case he gets captivated, he has set a countdown timer on his wrist. Once the five minute period is over, the Pokéballs attached on his belt will be activated and automatically release the Pokémon inside.

The digits on the timer return to zero, and six Electrodes instantly pop out to surround Lt. Surge. The Vermillion gymleader hollers that the original Team Rocket will always live, and commands his Pokémon to unleash a combined self destruct. A powerful explosion shakes the place and blasts the Hounders off their feet. Mask of Ice shields himself with his cloak, and gets annoyed when he sees that Lt. Surge has escaped after the smoke clears. But then he remembers that the man is a former TR executive who can't possibly be in good terms with any forces of justice, and takes comfort in the fact that he still doesn't have to worry about the police being alerted to the location of the headquarters.

Back at the Lake of Rage, Lt. Surge grunts in pain from his injuries, and drags his battered body back to his submarine. He recalls the chilly feeling that surrounds the mysterious masked man, and knows that he will need something really strong and powerful to overcome his foe. Just then, he notices that air bubbles are starting to appear near the edge of the lake, and wonders where they could have come from.

Down at the bottom of the lake, the shadow of a creature looms inside a giant ice block. From a small crack on top, air bubbles continue to emerge and ascend towards the water surface…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us




139: VS. Raichu!


Volume 11