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Ash, Misty, and Brock are still making their way towards Vermilion City. Ash and Misty are bickering about when Ash will pay her back for her bike. Brock, annoyed with their constant fighting, suggests that they all stop for a rest and offers to make crepes. He asks for someone to go gather some firewood, and that someone ends up being Ash. He starts to search in the fog for sticks, and comes across several kids huddled together. Ash comes closer and sees that one of the kids is running on a treadmill and the other, older kids are drilling him on facts on Pidgey's evolutionary levels. Ash feels that sorry for the younger kid on the treadmill, so he chases the rest away.
After Brock and Misty show up, the boy, whose name is Joe, explains what was going on. He explains that he goes to Pokémon Tech, a school for Pokémon trainers. He says that he is at the bottom of his beginner class, and the other kids were "helping" him when Ash showed up. When Ash asks to see the one responsible for this program, Joe pulls out a picture of a girl whose name is Giselle. Joe explains that, even though he doesn't like the way she treats him, he likes the way she looks. Ash and Brock agree. Ash asks where the school building is and Joe points in the direction. The fog clears and we see a huge campus surrounded by forest.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket have been in some bushes nearby, as they have been following Ash and Pikachu. They see the campus and start to worry. They tell Meowth that they once were to enroll there, but flunked the admissions test with the lowest scores in the school's history. Meowth cheers them up by saying that at least they were the top of the bottom. They all follow Ash, Joe, and the rest to the building.
As Joe shows our friends around the area, he describes the type of curriculum the school offers. He says that those who graduate are allowed to go to the Pokémon League without going around and gathering badges. He explains that a beginner, such as himself, has the skills equivalent to someone with two to four badges, an intermediate has skills equal to someone with five or six, and an advanced has skills equal to eight. He then points to an older kid sitting under a tree and says that the courses are so hard, that this kid is only a beginner still. The privilege of going here costs a lot, so everyone feels obligated to stay. Misty feels that the students here do not get the same experience as those who actually collect the badges and drives home her point by beating his Weepinbell with her Starmie.
Giselle comes in with the boys Ash had chased away earlier and reprimand him for being an embarrassment to the school. She goes on and on about how weak he is, making Team Rocket outside think that she's even more conceited than they are. Misty gets tired of Giselle's attitude and the fact that Ash, Brock, and all the other Tech students think she's "a star", and challenges her to a match, sending out her Starmie again.
Giselle, in what appears to be a poor strategic move, sends out Graveler, but he defeats Starmie easily and actually sends it flying out the window and into a pool. Giselle starts to lecture her, and says that she lost because Graveler was at a higher level than Starmie. Ash gets perturbed, and argues that Pokémon raising is more than just calculating levels and types; you need to treat them with love and care. Giselle just laughs and calls him a beginner. She goes on and on about how he's been on his journey for two months, and all he has is two badges and three Pokémon, one of which is a weak, untamed Pikachu (the other two being, of course, Pidgeotto and Butterfree). Both Ash and Pikachu are outraged and challenge the arrogant Giselle to a match.
She agrees and sends out Cubone, a strong Pokémon against electric attacks. Pikachu is at a sheer disadvantage to Cubone's Bone Clubs and Bonemerangs (a cheap move, according to Ash) and is weakened. Finally, Ash tells Pikachu to fight back, in any way it can. Pikachu then launches a major defensive maneuver, scratching, biting, and disorientating Cubone, ultimately using his own Bonemerang attack against him . The Cubone sits down and starts bawling. Pikachu has won.
Giselle is astounded to see a Pikachu win without using electrical attacks and admits that she underestimated both him and Ash. She has finally been brought down from her high horse, and agrees with Ash that battles don't always go the way they should, and that there are many methods of training.
Suddenly, Team Rocket makes their appearance. They partly want to steal Pikachu, but this time is mainly to impress the other students. Giselle make fun of them and reminds them of their low test scores, and the other kids pelt them with Pokéballs until they leave.
Joe tells Giselle that he is leaving Pokémon Tech and is going to start again as Ash did, collecting badges. They part in friendship, saying that maybe they'll see each other again at the Pokémon League. Ash wonders why he and Misty can't follow their example and Misty reminds him about the bike. Depressed, Ash walks on with his companions towards Vermilion City.
009: The School Of Hard Knocks
009: Pokemon Ensured-Victory Manual
Ash teach's students of Pokémon Tech a True Lesson