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Team Rocket Blasts Off! by Tracey West is the fifth book in the adaptation of the Pokémon anime. It focuses on the Team Rocket trio of Jessie, James, and Meowth. It was published by Scholastic, and is 87 pages in length.
Prepare for Trouble!
And make it double! When Team Rocket's boss leaves Jessie and James in charge, they become Gym Leaders. And Team Rocket doesn't fight fair.
Jessie and James are determined to finally defeat Ash and get their hands on his Pikachu. No matter what it takes.
This novel follows the basic plot of the anime episode The Battle of the Badge, but expands the story to include flashbacks from Team Rocket's past.
Team Rocket's plot to capture Pikachu has led them to Viridian City. Team Rocket views this Pikachu as very special, determined to capture it and present it to their boss, Giovanni. While surveying Ash and his friends, they notice Togepi in Misty's arms. At Viridian Gym Ash, currently with seven badges, is confident that he can win an Earth Badge. However, Gary arrives with his cheerleaders, and berates Ash for being constantly behind him. Gary approaches the gym's guards, announces himself, and it let into the Gym. Ash tries to enter also, but is prohibited as only one Trainer is allowed at a time. Forlorn, Ash covers his head with his hands, unaware that Togepi has climbed onto his shoulder. He is startled, and Togepi flies into the sky, into a Fearow's beak. The Fearow then drops Togepi onto James' head, and Jessie attempts to catch it. Jessie fails to catch Togepi, and in the process destabilises a plank at the edge of the roof, and falls into a pile of rubbish. However, Togepi falls into Jessie's arms, and they return to the boss' headquarters at the Gym.
Giovanni is currently battling Gary, and defeating him with his ultimate Pokémon. Once Giovanni is victorious, the trio present him with Togepi. Although they claim that Togepi is a rare Pokémon, they fail to explain its powers, causing Giovanni to get angry with them. Giovanni is then interrupted by a call about a problem with his ultimate Pokémon, and leaves the trio in charge of the Gym. As they celebrate their new promotion, Togepi escapes their sight. Meowth reminds the others that Togepi could be a useful bargaining chip for Pikachu, and they scour the Gym to search for it. Their search leads them to a basement, but the doors behind them shut unexpectedly. The door will not budge, and Jessie accidentally removes the doorknob from the door. The trio blame one another for their predicament, until Meowth breaks it up to focus on getting out. Jessie finds a computer in the hope that it can lead to a way out. On the computer's database, she comes across their Team Rocket file. Although the file criticises the trio, they pick out the compliments that the boss has given them, and recollect their greatest battles.
Meowth reminisces about his greatest attempt to capture Pikachu, when they sneaked up on them in Viridian Forest. Jessie and James sent out their Ekans and Koffing against Ash, who at that time was an inexperienced battler and kept to the Pokémon League rules of only using one Pokémon at a time. Koffing blinded Pikachu with Sludge, which forced Ash to send out Pidgeotto. Although it evaded Koffing's Sludge, Ekans was able to Dig underground and surprise Pidgeotto. Pidgeotto fainted as a result of Koffing's and Ekans' joint attacks, and Ash had to send out his Caterpie. Caterpie used its String Shot to incapacitate Koffing and Ekans. Meowth then mistakenly recounts that he then battled and defeated Caterpie, winning their battle against Ash. Jessie reminds him that Caterpie also wrapped Meowth into a cocoon.
Jessie then reminisces about her greatest battle, opening a fashion salon at Celadon City. This salon was a scam in order to steal rare Pokémon that trainers brought in for a makeover. Misty entered the salon and Jessie gave her a makeover. Despite Meowth ruining the scam by revealing their true identities to Misty, Jessie had the idea of kidnapping Misty and tying her up as bait. Ash, Brock and Suzie then arrived, and Ash and Brock challenged Team Rocket to a battle. Ekans and Koffing were dressed in elegant outfits, while Ash and Brock sent out Pikachu and Geodude Ekans slammed into Pikachu by turning into a wheel, and Koffing used Sludge to eliminate Pikachu and Geodude. Jessie erroneously believes that this ended the battle, but James reminds her that Suzie's Vulpix used Fire Spin to blast them off.
James recollects his brilliant plan to capture Pikachu, by using a Pokémon photographer called Snap. Although they believed Snap was excellent at capturing Pokémon, it turns out Snap was only a photographer and captured Pokémon on film. James then dug a trap for Ash and his friends, although the trap was dug over a water pipe, which collapsed and carried them away to a waterfall. Snap tried to rescue them with his camera strap, and James had Meowth steal Pikachu from Ash's bag using a net. James mistakenly recounts that he used one of his Rocket Bombs to eliminate Ash. However, Meowth reminds him while holding the Rocket Bomb, Ash asked them to pose for a picture, and in doing so, the bomb exploded in their faces. Then, Ash sent out his Bulbasaur to rescue Pikachu, and blast them off.
With Team Rocket humiliated from their defeats, they start to turn on each other, and declare that they are better off going solo. Jessie recounts her time before Team Rocket, alone and friendless. James also recounts that before Team Rocket, he was due to be married to Jessebelle, something that he dreaded. Before it joined up with Team Rocket, Meowth was a gutter cat, and was in love with another Meowth called Meowzy. Meowth learnt human speech in order to impress Meowzy, but Meowzy fell in love with a Persian instead. All three realise that they are better off together in Team Rocket, and band together to try and escape and capture Pikachu. Jessie finds the building plans on the computer, and they escape via a door next to the computer. They plot to booby-trap the Gym so that they can win against Ash.
At the entrance to the Gym, Ash and his friends are searching in vain for Togepi when they hear its voice from behind the gym doors. With the guards gone, they find Togepi and enter the Gym. They find Gary and his cheerleaders, unconscious from his battle with Giovanni. Gary recollects his battle against the ultimate Pokémon, summising that an evil force is running the Gym. On cue, Team Rocket appears, announcing their promotion to Gym Leaders. Jessie, holding up an Earth Badge, asks Ash if he wants to challenge her for the badge. Although guessing that it is a trap, Ash has no choice, and makes his way to his platform. Jessie sends out a Machamp, a Kingler and a Rhydon to use in the battle. Ash chooses his Squirtle, and Jessie responds with her Machamp. Machamp uses a Karate Chop, and Ash shockingly feels the same pain as Squirtle does. It is revealed that the trainer will feel the same pain as their Pokémon.
Ash then sends out Bulbasaur, to which Jessie sends out Kingler. Kingler blocks Bulbasaur's Vine Whip with Harden, and uses Bubble Beam. Ash feels every bubble hitting Bulbasaur, and falls to his knees. Ash sends out his Pidgeotto against Jessie's Rhydon, and uses Quick Attack. Jessie is surprised that she feels Rhydon's pain as well, as Pidgeotto uses a Double Edge attack. She yells at James to turn off this feature, but he is unable to. Meowth pulls out a gadget in which he can use it to end the battle, but Gary knocks Meowth to the floor. Jessie sends out Arbok and Weezing, changing the gym rules. Ash then uses Pikachu to deliver a powerful electric shock to defeat Arbok and Weezing, and then to knock off Machamp, Kingler and Rhydon, winning the battle. Gary's cheerleaders cheer for Ash, while Jessie is reeling from suffering the same pain as her Pokémon. Jessie does not give Ash his Earth Badge out of spite, but Togepi finds Meowth's gadget and activates the button that blows up Team Rocket's platform. The badge falls out of Jessie's hands, and Ash catches it.
- The page numbers on this book have a picture of Meowth next to them instead of the usual image of Pikachu. This is likely due to the book focusing on Team Rocket and not Ash and his friends. However, in Prepare for Trouble, the next book focusing on Team Rocket, the Meowth images are not used.
- On page 77, the image displays a Pidgeot and a Nidoking. Neither of these Pokémon appear in the book otherwise; the Pokémon displayed should have been a Pidgeotto and a Rhydon instead.
- Similarly, a Krabby appears on page 63, though Krabby does not make an appearance in the book. Instead, the image should have been of a Kingler.
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