Chapter 71, everybody! And we're finally in Celadon! Who wants to go shopping?

Real talk, I wonder how the multi-use TMs affected the TM market in the Pokémon world. Also Pokémon move pools are wild and Gen VIII did us a major disservice by removing a ton of moves (Darkrai's Gen VIII starting moves suck, for the record—Disable/Confuse Ray as opposed to Ominous Wind/Disable).

Also speaking of things later gens don't have, there used to be the game corner in Celadon as well. Gambling references were removed from later Pokémon games (although they'll still have gacha mechanics in other games that use real money, so that's a double standard), but considering the Rocket base in Celadon is under the game corner, it's already a den of iniquity so…Ash having to only show his Pokédex is a reference to how said gambling corner has no problem with ten-year-olds playing, and is kinda a reference to my own experience in the casino in Niagara Falls—"How old are you?" "Wait, don't you need to see my license?" "Nope!" "Okay then."

In other news, Ash did exactly what I did in my copy of Fire Red. And Meowth and James are probably channeling Eda from Owl House ("Aw, baby's first wanted poster").

Moving on to reviews: big thanks to DeathCrawler, Dragonkeeper10, talesfanjmf, JadeDragon100, Jade, Frost Glaive, and epantoja521, thanks for the reviews! What are the graffiti laws in the Pokémon world like, considering there's an entire Pokémon species that enjoys doodling all over?

Pokémon © Game Freak; Nintendo

Mulan © 1998 Disney ("And here I like that corn chip smell")

And now, for something completely different:

The Celadon City Shopping Center would like to announce that starting this year, they will be phasing out the selling of single-use TMs and instead start stocking the multiple-use TMs now being produced by Unova. They recommend that anyone who prefers the classics to buy them now before they're gone.

"Finally, Celadon!" Misty cheered as they came through the gate. "I've been looking forward to this town since we first started!"

"Does that have anything to do with the massive shopping center right there?" Brock asked, pointing.

"Maybe a little. Also when we're done there I want to visit that perfume store."

"Why?" Ash asked.

"I repeat not needing to smell like the company I keep—the Cornn-chip smell isn't appealing to everyone."

"Pity, that," Darkrai said.

"Okay!" Ash said. "Pokémon Center, then TMs, and then training those new moves on a route that doesn't have Snorlax on it."

"What happened to getting a Fire type on Route 8?" Brock asked.

"I don't want to chance it."

"You do that, I'll just start from the top and work my way down," Misty said, gesturing to the whole of the store.

"And I'll be stocking up on Burn Heals, apparently," Brock sighed.

"Well you three have fun," Darkrai said, disappearing into the woods. "Ta."

"And where's he going?" Misty asked.

"I…have no idea, honestly," Ash admitted. "He just does that."

"Probably a good thing," Brock said. "Unless you want to explain a Sinnohan Legendary in Celadon."

They agreed that they did not.

They paused at the Pokémon Center long enough to freshen up and ensure their Pokémon were in good health, and then it was off to the shopping center standing pride-of-place in town. The biggest in Kanto, the Celadon Shopping Center was enough to make them pause in the foyer, chlorinated air stinging their noses, before eventually consulting the mall map and dispersing to their desired floors.

"Don't forget to keep your Pokédex out while you're browsing," Brock told Ash before he left for the general items. "There's no point in spending your money on a TM if you can't use it."

"Right, right right," Ash muttered, still thinking that the device was more trouble than it was worth. Wave bye to Misty as he stepped off the elevator, debated between two stores before deciding that the Technical Machine store would most likely not be advertising the latest music.

"Okay," Ash said once they were inside and browsing the selections of TMs offered. "I know I want Ice Fang for Lenny…I dunno, you want anything Pikachu?"

"Pi ka," Pikachu noised.

"I really don't want to have to use the 'dex for this," Ash groaned. "Ooh wait, those new Unovan TMs! Those last for multiple uses, that could work!"

They were also markedly more expensive than the single-use TMs the store was liquidating, but Ash figured there were reasons. Sort through them before finally being forced to admit that he did need to consult the Pokédex, read the descriptions of several of the TMs as he looked up the information on his Pokémon.

"Why would you need a TM to learn Fling?" Ash asked. "All you have to do is throw something."

"Pika," Pikachu noised, shifting around a bit so he was more comfortable on Ash's shoulders.

Ash did pick up Venoshock and Sludge Bomb for Gastly after ensuring that he could learn it, debated a bit before picking up Psychic and Thunderbolt as well. He felt he could justify spending more on the multiple-use TMs since Patches and Frenzy could learn the Poison-type moves and Patches could learn Thunderbolt on top of it…Lenny could learn Thunderbolt too, that was interesting…and Earthquake, and Flamethrower, and Ice Beam, and holy 'karp what the Feebas Lenny.

Ice Fang, unfortunately, wasn't on the shelves, which meant Ash had to resign himself to searching through the other TMs (after grabbing those three moves good night Ash wasn't passing that up—and Hyper Beam, Hyper Beam was cool).

He was actually having to remind himself that he probably had a budget and was working on figuring out how to check his Pokédex to see when he heard some familiar voices.

"Okay, what about this one?"

"Well there's no point if we don't know if it learns that move."

"I'm no askin' it again—I just wanna put dat out dere."

"Personally I'd rather be shopping for Ekans if we have to be here."

"Oh sure fine—ooh wait! Toxic! Every Pokémon can learn that move!"

"And you get dose Brittany Spearow references."

"This is true."

By this point, Ash had pinpointed the source, had to take a double-take at the sight of Team Rocket in civilian clothes and arguing about TMs. "Team Rocket!?"

To be fair, Team Rocket recovered from their own startlement quickly enough, although Ash had to question them jumping up onto the shelves and posing.

"Prepare for trouble, and to rock out!" Jessie declared.

"And make it double, better twist and shout!" James rejoined.

Ash blinked. "Wait, are we doing this right now?"

"I don't know, he has a point," Meowth said, sagging on a lower shelf. "Dis is our day off."

"Please don't stand on the shelves!" the attendee called over.

"Fine squash our dramatic moment," Jessie said, hopping down.

"Ask us again in about twenty minutes when we're in the music store," James told Ash once he was on solid ground again as well.

"Why wait?"

"Good point—give us five minutes to get the amps set up."

"Er, what?" Ash noised.

"I mean I could probably do them in three but I'm a bit rusty."

Ash exchanged confused glances with Pikachu before looking back at the trio. "Okay…next question is why do we keep running into you three. Also, how."

"Rayquaza is oddly consistent," James said.

"Also Celadon's the last confirmed gym on the circuit," Jessie pointed out. "You had to come through here eventually."

"You know if you guys like us that much you could travel with us," Ash said, ignoring Pikachu's disgusted face.

"We could," James agreed, nodding. "But it makes the bits where we try to capture the Darkrai and send him back to our boss kind of awkward."

"It does put a damper on da whole ting," Meowth agreed.

"It does—oh wait you have a Pokédex—do me a favor real quick look up what TMs Porygon learn."

"When did you guys get a Porygon?" Ash asked. "You didn't steal it, did you?"

"How dare you accuse us o' dat," Meowth said. "And us being upstandin' citizens an' all dat."

"I mean you did just admit to trying to steal Darkrai."

"Okay fair."

"I'll have you know we got it fair and square at the Game Corner," James countered, leaning on the shelf. "Jessie needed another team member—oh wait where is Jessie?"

"She finally did what she threatened ta do and left ta look at da Poké-dolls."

"Why does she assume we wouldn't want to look too?"

"Wait go back," Ash said. "You can get Pokémon at the Game Corner?"

"Meowth, dat's right!" Meowth said, hopping up and assuming a lucky cat pose. "Lots o' rare 'mons, if yer luck holds!"

"Like what?"

"Well they did say something about a Dratini this morning," James said.

That cinched it. "I gotta go."

"You gotta pay for that first," the attendee said, stopping him.

"I gotta go after I pay for this."

"Shame," James said. "You were five steps away from a life of crime."

"Baby's first crime," Meowth agreed.

"We could have recruited him into Team Rocket right then and there."

"We got da business cards an' everyting."

"I don't know, I don't think my mom would sign off on that," Ash pointed out.

"Fair enough."

Ash paused long enough in his new side quest to tell Brock where he was going, promised he wouldn't be too long before asking for directions and heading across town. Said destination was in a seedier corner of town, but that was probably due to the fact that casinos were kind of seedy anyway.

Ash looked the Game Corner over before stepping inside and talking to the person behind the counter.

"I hear you let Pokémon trainers play here," he said, putting his hands on the counter.

"We do," the attendant said. "Do you have a valid trainer's license?"

Ash held up his Pokédex.

"Good enough," the attendant said, handing over a case. "Fifty coins are a thousand Poke, and five hundred is ten thousand."

"I'll start with fifty," Ash decided.

Once he had his coins, he went off in search of a game that seemed easy enough to play.

Voltorb Flip seemed intuitive enough, but the explosion scared Pikachu into shocking it, and Ash quickly vacated it to avoid being unfortunately linked. Slots was pure luck, and he didn't like that, and roulette didn't pay out as quickly as he would have liked.

He was several coins poorer when he found himself in front of the billboard listing the Pokémon prizes, having decided upon a different route.

"So, what do you think?" Ash asked Pikachu. "Abra are pretty useful, but they don't learn very many offensive moves until they evolve. Misty would kill me if I got a Scyther or a Pinsir….What about a Clefairy?"

Pikachu growled.

"Right. No Clefairy. So that leaves a Dratini or a Porygon. Hmmm…."

He checked his trainer bank statement, checked it again when he saw the number. Okay, he had been winning more than a few battles….

He ran back to the front counter.

"I'd like to buy nine thousand, nine hundred and seventy-five coins, please," he told the attendant.

"We only sell them in units of fifty," the attendant replied.

"Then give me the number that's closest to ten thousand."

Once his case was filled, Ash ran back to the counter in the back.

"I'd like either a Porygon or a Dratini, please," Ash said, putting the case on the counter.

"I'm sorry," the lady behind it said. "We just gave away our last two Pokémon this morning—you'll have to wait until another shipment comes in."

"And when is that?"

"Not for another three weeks."

A few moments later saw Ash leaving as a couple was heading in.

"Here," Ash said, handing the coin case over to them. "Go nuts."

And with that, he tugged his hat brim low and headed for the department store—it would be easier to navigate from there.

As it was, he ran up just as Misty and Brock exited.

"There you are!" Misty observed, carrying several bags. "I gotta stop at the Pidgeot Depot to ship this back home, but that's on the way to the perfume store. Where have you been?"

"Around," Ash replied. "And tell me again why we're going to the perfume store?"

"Because, as I told someone you may be familiar with: just because I travel with guys doesn't mean I have to smell like them."

"And here I liked the Cornn-chip smell," Ash said as Misty headed off.

"See, that's what he said."

"So?" Brock asked, once Misty was out of earshot. "How'd it go?"

Ash considered the question before giving an honest answer.

"Let's just say…that it went, and we must never speak of this again."

"Fair enough," Brock said, heading after Misty.