Ash and his friends seem to have lost their way en route to Vermilion City, frustrating Misty. The group stops to consult a map that Brock has unfolded, and Ash determines that, while they are currently in the middle of nowhere, the trail they are following intersects Route 24, which in turn leads straight to Vermilion City. Brock, satisfied with how they must proceed, puts the map away. But, as they move to leave, a large shadow suddenly falls across their path, causing them to look up in alarm. Soon, however, the sunlight's intensity dims, revealing a Charmander sitting upon a rock. After checking his Pokédex, Ash is happy that he finally has gotten a chance to catch a Charmander. Brock points out how weak its tail flame is, and that it probably needs help. However, Charmander resists Ash's attempt to catch it. Brock still thinks that it is too weak because of its small flame, and suggests that Ash try again, but Ash's second attempt yields no better results than the first. Pikachu then climbs up onto the rock and talks to the Charmander. It then comes back down and manages to communicate to Ash that Charmander is waiting for someone to come by and pick it up. Brock decides that if it belongs to someone else, it is best to leave it, and they leave. Farther down the trail, Ash and his friends discover the Pokémon Center that is on the map, and they enter just as it begins to rain. Despite Brock's concerns, Ash points out that there is no way the Charmander would have waited around that long. Brock agrees, stating that the Trainer surely would have gotten it by now. However, they hear laughter nearby, and look over to see a Trainer named Damian surrounded by a group of friends. Listening in on his conversation, Ash and his friends listen as Damian reveals that he had a Charmander, but since it was so weak, he left it on a rock out in the middle of the woods promising to return for it, which he had and still has no intention of doing. Ash and his friends realize that it must have been his Charmander they saw and that based on Damian's description of Charmander's loyalty to him, it must still be waiting on the rock. This pushes the normally calm Brock over the edge, and he stands up and makes his way over to Damian. While the group continue to laugh about how the Charmander is probably still waiting, Brock confronts Damian, telling him to go get the Charmander. Damian pushes him off, but Ash and Misty soon arrive to back up Brock. After Damian and his crew leave, Ash, Misty, and Brock hurry back to find Charmander. The three race back through the pouring rain towards the rock where the Charmander is, only to find it is now having worse problems than just the weather. A gang of Spearow are attacking it, and Ash tries to drive them off by throwing a rock at them, but this only causes them to attack him and his friends. Ash orders a Thunder Shock from Pikachu, and he obeys, scaring off the Spearow. The group quickly wrap Charmander up in their rain coats and race back to the Pokémon Center, begging Nurse Joy to help. Initially, Nurse Joy is angry at Ash and his friends, but Ash explains that it was Damian that left the Charmander there, taking advantage of Charmander's loyalty. Brock pleads with Nurse Joy to save the Charmander, and she promises to do whatever she can. After an intense and distressing wait, Nurse Joy finally comes out of the operating room and reports success. The Charmander has pulled through, and it will be fine by morning. When morning comes, Ash and Misty are asleep on couches in the lobby, Pikachu asleep below. Ash rolls over, causing his blanket to drop onto Pikachu. Suddenly, Brock shouts, causing Ash to crash off the couch. It turns out Charmander has disappeared from the emergency room. Ash is certain that the Charmander has simply gone back to the rock. Brock wants to go after it again, but Misty points out that it is no use. Even though Damian does not care about it, the Charmander is still loyal to him, and nothing is likely to change that. They cannot force Charmander to go with them if it chooses not want to. Although Brock is still disappointed, Ash and company leave as well. Meanwhile, up ahead, Team Rocket have just finished digging another pitfall trap for the twerps. Pikachu comes up to the hole and walks right over it, but Pikachu is too light to trigger the pitfall. Jessie and James argue over who blew it this time, until Meowth shuts them up with scratches to the face. Ash, Brock, and Misty, being a lot heavier, end up triggering the pitfall and fall into the hole. Team Rocket then appear, laughing at the fact that their trap worked. Pikachu tries to shock them, but they are dressed in rubber uniforms that insulate against electricity. Pikachu tries to run, but they release a special ball that encompasses Pikachu and also insulates his electricity. Laughing at the group's plight, Team Rocket prepare to leave with Pikachu in tow, when Charmander confronts them. Charmander, as translated by Meowth, orders them to give Pikachu back to Ash and the others. Team Rocket naturally refuse, and warn the Charmander to beat it or else. The Charmander responds by closing its eyes, focusing hard, and unleashing a massive Flamethrower, which roasts Team Rocket. They drop the Pikachu balloon and flee. All of this is witnessed by and shocks Damian, who had not realized Charmander was so powerful. Ash, Misty, and Brock, having gotten out of the pit, thank Charmander for its help, and Ash asks Charmander if it wants to come along with them. However, Damian claims that he has come back for Charmander, "just as he promised". Damian goes on to say that abandoning Charmander had made it stronger. Despite retorts from Ash and company, Damian brags about his abominable methods of treating and training Pokémon. When he tries to recall Charmander, however, Charmander rejects him as a Trainer and chooses to go with Ash instead.