Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ A Blond Ray of Sunshine ❯ Chapter 1
1) All general replies (“nice story”, “can't wait for the next chapter”) are cool, welcomed, and appreciated. I love hearing all feedback, so feel free to drop me a short comment! Constructive criticism is very much encouraged. I'm always looking to better my writing and make each story more entertaining and engaging. If you notice any errors — grammar, punctuation, plot — please do bring them up. You have the power to help shape this story into something even better!
2) About the title of the story (because I've gotten this question in the past), it is not misspelled. 'Blond' is the male equivalent of the female 'blonde.'
Thanks in advance for giving this story a read. I truly hope you enjoy it!
— Part 1: A Blond Ray of Sunshine —
On the southern coast of Hoenn, a massive crater had been ripped into the earth. Twisted metal and rubble was strewn about, fires dotted the charred devastation. Water rolled in from the nearby ocean. Echoes of police sirens wailed in the distance.
Slateport City had been entirely decimated. Nothing of the once-populous city was left. Millions of lives, humans and Pokémon, had been lost to the ashes.
High above the remains of the city hovered two shadowy figures. The individuals surveyed the aftermath for a moment before disappearing in an instant.
As word spread, as the police, military, and government personnel came to investigate, and as people grieved for those they lost, no evidence and no leads ever surfaced.
The cause of the destruction remained unknown. It was as though the city had been torn away from existence for no reason at all.
The otherwise quiet Sea Route 20 in Kanto gleamed under the bright, midday sun. Waves crested beneath a large yacht heading westward across the deep, electric blue. Its purpose was to ferry Trainers from Fuchsia City to Cinnabar Island.
Upon it, a young Trainer named Antoshi held the railing with a childlike grin upon his face. He was a charming boy of twelve years old, with chestnut eyes and hair as yellow as the vivid petals of a Sunflora. 'A blond ray of sunshine' as his mother would call him, much to his embarrassment. His red polo shirt and tan shorts whipped around in the sea winds which offset the heat of the sun.
“This is so amazing,” Antoshi remarked, seemingly to himself.
Beside him, a much larger figure with half-closed eyelids and slumped shoulders groaned as it hung onto the railing for dear life. A Typhlosion, the Volcano Pokémon.
"Sure it's nice," the boy's partner replied. "But why do boats have to move so much? Are we hitting a bunch of rocks?"
It was speaking to him — an oddity that was unheard of for Pokémon who were not Psychic-types. An oddity that usually garnered strange looks and questions of sanity at the boy. Fortunately, the others Trainers were unable to hear them conversing over the ambient noise.
Fun and adventure were the name of the game for Antoshi. For Fireball, it was about not getting seasick. It was the Typhlosion's first time on a boat. The motor and the sound of crashing waves against the hull were much louder than expected, intensifying his queasiness.
“You'll be fine!” Antoshi reassured him, chuckling. “The ride shouldn't take too long. This boat's pretty fast.”
"Too fast and too bumpy for me."
“I could put you back in your Poké Ball until we reach shore.”
"No, that's—" Fireball's eyes went wide with horror. The Typhlosion held a paw over his mouth and quickly made for the cabin.
Antoshi smiled and heaved a sigh, certain Fireball would be all right. He gazed back out at the water, soaking in more of their brief trip at sea. The open waters and all they had to offer felt comforting. He had frequently spent his time camping out in the woods or sleeping in Pokémon Centers. The spring air, mixed with the salt of the sea, exhilarated him. It was not something they'd gotten very much of in their journey.
They were on the cusp of new and exciting experiences in a locale they'd never been to before.
Other Trainers watched from other parts of the ship. A mix of boys and girls, some young and some adults, all of them wearing backpacks similar to Antoshi's red one. A Plusle sat upon one of the girl's shoulders, while a Minun did the same on the shoulder of the boy next to her. They exclaimed behind him, pointing out a handful of Mantine breaching the surface of the water. He turned around with a look of awe-struck wonder to gaze upon Pokémon he'd never seen in the wild before.
The Minun fired off a spontaneous electric attack at the Mantine, missing wildly. “Hey!” its Trainer scolded it.
In front of Antoshi, the shimmering red and blue tops from a bloom of Tentacool and Tentacruel peeked out from the water. Common flying fish jumped alongside them. A small group of Hoppip drifted on the winds high overhead. He grinned and laughed, his spirit soaring, his heart swelling with joy.
Fireball headed back outside to see his friend's excitement. Seeing Antoshi so cheerful rubbed off on him. The two had forged an unbreakable bond of friendship since Antoshi's childhood. Fireball was Antoshi's best friend and partner — his only partner. He was the only Pokémon accompanying Antoshi and the only one he felt he ever needed. Through their combined determination, grit, and some luck, the duo had found victory in most of their battles thus far — much to the chagrin of many of their opponents. After nearly a year and a half of journeying together, they were as close as brothers.
For a moment, he saw a strange, red light envelop Antoshi's body. It was like a transparent flame, flickering with the winds. Fireball took his place by his friend's side.
“Feeling better?” Antoshi asked.
"I think so," Fireball replied with a groan. "By the way, you're doing 'that thing' again."
Antoshi gasped in surprise, tempering his mood. The light seemed to recede back into his body. “I guess I got too excited. Did it look like … anyone saw it?” he added nervously.
Fireball shook his head, taking a look around at the other Trainers and their Pokémon. "No, everyone's too busy looking at the water just like you are." The duo smiled at each other. The appearances of the boy's odd light had become somewhat common for the duo as of late. "I'm just glad we didn't eat before this."
Antoshi laughed, prompting his friend to perk up and laugh along with him.
A few hours later, the boat reached the marina of Cinnabar Island. After docking, the captain of the boat — a friendly and handsome young sailor named Sean — lowered the gangplank. He headed off first to tie down and anchor his vessel. Once secured, he guided the others to disembark as well.
“Here we are, passengers!” he announced as they filed off the boat. “Welcome to Cinnabar Island! I hope you all enjoyed your ride here. If anyone would like to leave gratuity, feel free to do so. If you do, remember to keep enough money to buy food and supplies for yourself and your Pokémon! Good luck on your journey!”
Most of the Trainers gave Sean a few thousand Pokédollars. He thanked each of them. A couple of the girls giggled and gossiped to each other while walking away from him. Antoshi also left some money, after he and Fireball were the last two off the boat.
“Thank you so much,” Antoshi said to Sean.
“It's no problem, sir,” Sean replied with a grateful nod. “Get out there and make your dreams come true.”
Antoshi grinned confidently. He and Fireball departed, continuing their journey toward a brand-new location.
Fireball walked on his hind legs alongside his friend. Being upright was not an issue for him, having become acclimated to it over the majority of their journey. Doing so also highlighted his abnormally tall height for a Typhlosion, standing at over six feet. While on his hind legs, he towered over Antoshi.
The marina, situated on the east coast of Cinnabar, bustled with people and Pokémon chattering and walking every which way. Once they reached its exit, they gasped in astonishment. They were standing at the edge of a lush, sprawling tropical paradise bathed in the glow of the warm afternoon sun.
The sand crunched under their feet as they traveled along a beachside pathway. Everyone appeared totally carefree, as if every day was just another day at the beach. Tall palm trees lined the paved streets flourishing with people, Pokémon, and vehicles. Amid the sound of the rolling tide, melodious squawks of parrots echoed in the distance. The duo and a few others stopped in surprise as a small cast of Krabby sidled across the path in front of them.
Antoshi took the brief pause to look around with a wide, thoughtful gaze. The beautiful island was what he'd always hoped for when he became a Pokémon Trainer. Traveling to new places, seeing things he'd never seen before, absorbing other peoples' culture and way of life — it was all a huge part of the journey for him. They continued onward once the Krabby passed by.
"Can we move here?" Fireball idly asked.
“This place is really amazing,” Antoshi remarked.
“Looks like we can do a little sightseeing here with the spare time we have.”
Fireball's eyes widened upon spotting various food and snack vendors further down the path. "What about a little snacking, too? I see a cart over there selling ice cream!"
Antoshi chuckled. “I guess your stomach has settled down already. All right, one ice cream cone.”
Fireball grinned and fist pumped in victory. He started to shuffle ahead without Antoshi. The boy's heart sank with dread before he quickly stopped Fireball.
“Wait, Fireball!” he exclaimed, grabbing Fireball's arm tightly. Fireball turned to meet the panicked expression on his friend's face. Antoshi quickly relaxed, smiled nervously at him. “Sorry, I didn't mean to shout. I just … want to make sure you don't … err, run off.”
"Oh," Fireball replied, before the light of realization dawned upon him. "Ohh! I understand now. Don't worry, I'm not gonna run off on my own, Antoshi. I don't do that anymore!"
Antoshi sighed and smiled in relief. They made their way over to the vendor together.
Antoshi's journey through Kanto started out as an interest in seeing new places, as well as training Fireball, who was still a Quilava back then. Along the way, however, Antoshi had to curb his friend's unrestrained temperament. Fireball was prone to reckless fits of excitability and hostility, just like when he was a younger Cyndaquil.
With only one Pokémon, they were forced to train almost constantly early on in order to succeed — far more than they would've if they had filled out their roster. As a result, Fireball's power, speed, and defenses rapidly grew to an incredible level.
However, Fireball's newfound power made him even more disobedient. On more than one occasion, Fireball refused to listen to Antoshi's commands. The fear of Fireball being out of his control was something Antoshi never forgot. It stuck with him throughout their journey.
“What can I getcha?” the ice cream vendor greeted them. He was a cheerful older man wearing an apron and straw fedora.
Antoshi casually pointed to Fireball. “My friend here wants to choose.”
“Buying a treat for your Pokémon? It's not often I see that! Most Pokémon don't … handle ice cream very well.”
“Fireball can eat anything,” he replied with a smirk.
Fireball hummed thoughtfully, looking over the different varieties from behind their glass cover. He gasped, frantically pointing at one.
“Nice choice!” the vendor said, spinning an ice cream scoop in his hand. “One double chocolate-chocolate chip banana fudge swirl, coming up!”
Fireball could barely keep still while he watched the man scoop out a big roll of ice cream. He centered it atop a waffle cone before handing it to the Typhlosion. Fireball's clawed fingers wiggled eagerly before he reached out and took it, staring at it in amazement for a moment.
"Waffle… cone …" Fireball whispered in awe. "A cone made of my favorite food."
“Anything else?” the man asked.
“Water, please,” Antoshi replied.
The vendor handed Antoshi a cold water bottle, made entirely of recyclable paper, from a storage compartment in his cart. Antoshi took his wallet out of his back pocket to pay the man, and the two continued on their way toward the city.
Fireball took a long lick of the ice cream and savored it for a moment. He casually placed the whole treat — cone and all — into his mouth, loudly crunching on it.
“So delicious …” Fireball remarked dreamily. “Thank you, Antoshi! I love this place already!”
Antoshi grinned as he took a sip of water. He was happy to see Fireball happy.
With the sun shimmering in their faces, they stopped briefly at a crosswalk. They looked around at the thriving city of Cinnabar. The streets were similar to what they were used to seeing in Saffron City, though nowhere near as noisy as their hometown.
“This place really rebuilt and grew since the eruption destroyed everything,” Antoshi said, putting the cap back on his water.
Both of them observed the colossal volcano looming in the distance. Fireball hummed thoughtfully.
"You told me that was decades and decades ago, wasn't it?"
Antoshi nodded in response. After crossing the street safely, the duo were absorbed into the crowd of pedestrians and Pokémon.
“It's amazing to see how far it's come from starting as a small beach resort. I remember one of my schoolbooks showed pictures of what Cinnabar looked like before and after the eruption. It wasn't pretty but, because of it, the island is actually bigger and much more beautiful than it used to be.”
"Guess that's why there's so many tall buildings and stuff." Both of them gazed upward, finding themselves in the shadows of those very high-rises that loomed overhead.
“Well, let's go find the nearest Pokémon Center. After that, we can ask them how to get to the Cinnabar Gym.”
"Oh, yeah!" Fireball exclaimed. "I'm ready!"
Antoshi found a recycling bin to drop his empty water bottle into. A friendly robotic voice in the bin thanked him, followed by the sound of a powerful suction machine.
He reached into the pocket of his backpack to retrieve his trusty travel-size Kanto compendium. He couldn't help but grin at how weathered it had gotten from heavy usage. It was his source of information for each city and the routes that they visited. Not only was it a map, but it also had directories, people and places of interest, as well as various other information like weather patterns and local Pokémon. With it, Antoshi was able to ascertain which way they needed to go to find one of Cinnabar's Pokémon Centers.
They used the locations almost like home bases. The Centers allowed Trainers and Pokémon to reside in one of their available living quarters for up to twenty-four hours, free of charge. It also provided them with free food from their cafeteria, which was Fireball's favorite part of their visits.
“Looks like it's only a few blocks away,” Antoshi said, leading his friend toward their destination.
Once the duo stepped through the Pokémon Center's automatic glass doors, they were greeted by a rush of cool, circulated air. Gentle music played over the intercom system. The splendorous main area was somewhat busy, though the buildings were always designed to feel at home. It was akin to an oversized living room with couches, tables, chairs, and a tall, curved glass wall at the front bearing its trademark 'P'. Handfuls of Trainers sat or walked around freely; talking, laughing, or playing with their Pokémon.
Antoshi and Fireball headed toward the station counter to speak to Nurse Joy. The Center had a few available rooms left for them to stay in. Antoshi took his wallet out and handed Nurse Joy his Trainer Card, which she scanned to verify his credentials. The procedure marked the time and date of his last known location. The system allowed his parents keep track of him on his journey. She handed the card back to him along with a plastic key.
“Please enjoy your stay here,” Nurse Joy told them with a warm smile. “Remember, supper is served at six, lights-out is at ten, and there is absolutely no battling allowed inside. We have a stadium behind the building for that.”
Antoshi chuckled as he put his wallet away. He looked up at his friend with a smirk. “Yeah, we … get that at every Pokémon Center we go to. Fireball and I had a little incident back in Cerulean City. He used to have a temper problem when he was still a Quilava.”
"Hey, that loudmouth Mudkip was asking for trouble," Fireball muttered, folding his short arms across his chest.
Nurse Joy laughed quietly. “I was given an on-screen alert about it when I scanned your card. As long as you and your Pokémon don't cause anymore problems, you're in no trouble. All of us are simply required to inform you of that.”
“Thank you very much, Nurse Joy,” Antoshi replied. “Come on, Fireball. Let's go get settled.” Fireball nodded and followed Antoshi down a nearby large hallway.
Antoshi tapped the key against the scanner of the door of their room, prompting the door to unlock before they headed inside. The two sighed in content as Antoshi closed the door behind them. The room was small and sparsely decorated, yet cozy. Antoshi took off his heavy pack and placed it on the twin-sized bed before stretching his arms up high.
“Now is as good a time as any to call Mom and Dad,” Antoshi said. “We should let them know we're doing all right.”
"They sure do like to worry," Fireball replied.
Antoshi laughed knowingly as they headed back out to the main area. He loved his parents, but they sometimes ended up being a little clingy.
The pair found an unoccupied videophone for Antoshi to sit in front of. Fireball stood behind him and watched as the boy placed his Trainer Card against the screen, instantly lighting up with a list of his registered contacts. His list only had one, however. He tapped the 'Home' contact, and the phone dialed. The ringback tone played only once before his mother quickly answered.
“Hello, Antoshi!” she cheerfully exclaimed, waving to him.
“Hey, son!” his father added, standing behind her. Antoshi and Fireball waved back to them.
“We got the alert a few minutes ago,” his mother said, “that you signed in to the Cinnabar Island Pokémon Center.”
“You guys wait by the phone every time that happens, huh?” the boy asked with a jovial smirk.
“Every time!” both parents exuberantly exclaimed.
A few nearby people curiously turned to him after his parents' loud shout. Making a spectacle out of himself was not something Antoshi was fond of. He nervously lowered the call volume via a button on the screen's frame as covertly as he could, hoping his parents wouldn't realize.
“How is it there?” his father asked. “I'll bet it's beautiful!”
“It really is,” he replied with a nervous chuckle, before regaining his composure. “Fireball and I would love to stay and visit here longer, but the date of the Indigo League Tournament is almost here and we're so close to finishing our run. This is definitely the year we're going, Mom — Fireball and I can feel it.”
“Oh, goodness,” she said, with pride in her voice. “I'm so excited and so nervous for you, Antoshi. I know you and Fireball are going to do your absolute best!”
“We sure will,” Antoshi replied. He looked over at Fireball, who responded with a confident nod.
“Well, we don't want to take up anymore of your time, Antoshi,” his dad said. “You know how clingy your mother gets,” he added with a guffaw.
She cut her eyes at her husband before closing her eyes in defeat.
“Okay, so I am a little clingy,” she admitted. The others laughed in response. She gave her son a warm smile. “That's only because we love you so much, Antoshi. It's always so wonderful when I get to see my big boy's shining face.”
Antoshi turned red and chuckled coyly, looking around to make sure no one nearby heard her remarks that time.
“We're always behind you one-hundred percent, Antoshi!” his dad remarked.
“Love you both,” Antoshi said, grinning. “Talk to you again soon!”
The screen displayed 'Call Ended' before turning off. Antoshi sighed happily. He got up, looking to his friend with a confident grin.
“You ready to go for that seventh badge, buddy?”
"Do you even have to ask?" Fireball replied with a smirk, sharing a quick fist-bump with his friend.
With Antoshi's map stored away in their room, they headed over to Nurse Joy to ask her for directions to the Gym. She informed them to look for a large red building closest to the base of the volcano. Antoshi thanked her again, and the two were promptly on their way.
On foot, it took the pair a couple of hours to reach the Gym. In the meantime, they experienced some more sights of the city. The late afternoon sun cast a cozy orange glow on their bustling new surroundings. They witnessed talented street performers and artists. They stopped to watch a group of hula dancers. The dancers flowed in sync with each other, as well as with the various forms of Oricorio in their troupe.
Antoshi was taken by surprise when one of the dancers, a young lady, came up to him. He blinked incredulously as she placed a lei in the style of a Comfey around his neck — a common offering for tourists of the island. Fireball grinned, snickering as he watched his friend gawk, slack-jawed by her. She smiled at him, and Antoshi offered a timid smile of his own in response. His heart was pounding, his palms sweating profusely.
She giggled and took her place back with the small dancing troupe. The duo walked away.
"Antoshi has a cru~sh!" Fireball playfully said, with a cheeky grin. "Ask her to travel with us."
Antoshi had been incredibly shy as a child, oftentimes too nervous to talk to new people. Making friends was troubling for him back then. Some of that shyness continued to carry over even as he grew — especially when it came to pretty girls. Fireball typically teased him about it whenever he could.
Antoshi put his hands in his pockets and kept his gaze locked to the ground. “I am not going to ask her to travel with us,” he muttered. Fireball held back a chortle.
"You should go back there and ask her on a date. I'll chaperone you."
“Will you knock it off?” Antoshi snapped.
Fireball burst out laughing while Antoshi stewed, growling to himself. Antoshi suddenly noticed one of his forearms glowing with his mysterious light. He gasped quietly, holding his arm behind his back to keep Fireball from becoming concerned.
‘Gotta relax,’ he thought, closing his eyes briefly. ‘Can't let my emotions get out of control. Just relax. Just relax …’
His hand rattled from the power that came with the light. He tried to restrain it, but it was surprisingly intense. The other people on the street seemed completely unaware of its presence.
‘Don't lose control …’
He clenched his eyes and strained, his forehead sweating, his heart palpitating. As he flexed his hand open, a bright fist-sized ball of red light suddenly erupted from his palm. It shot like a bullet across the street, striking a blue post box which caused it to explode violently.
The people nearby stopped and screamed in shock as metallic shrapnel rained down onto the street. Partially burnt envelopes and packages scattered in all directions.
"Whoa," Fireball remarked, looking at the aftermath just like the other passersby. "What the heck just happened?"
He turned to Antoshi, finding him shuffling away in a panic. Fireball was stunned. It was unlike the boy not to make sure people were okay after such an incident.
"Antoshi?" he said, catching up to his friend. "Don't you think we should check out what happened?"
“They're okay,” Antoshi replied, visibly flustered. He offered his friend a thin smile before turning away to hide a guilty expression. “I saw them from across the street. Everyone's fine.”
"Oh. All right. You picked up on that a lot faster than I did, then! What do you think caused it?"
“I … I don't know. Could've been a prank, or … maybe something went terribly wrong.”
Antoshi steadied his breathing and his nerves, continuing on with Fireball toward their destination.
They were nearing closer to the Gym, prompting them to put on serious faces. Once the duo crossed another street, they stood before a modest, red building that simply read 'GYM' over its glass front doors.
“Lucky number seven,” Antoshi remarked as they studied the building. “Let's go!”
They marched confidently up to the automatic doors. Before the doors could slide open, the pair ended up walking face-first into the glass. They froze in place, dumbfounded, remaining pressed up against the doors.
"Is it … closed?" Fireball asked, muffled by the glass.
A computerized chirp resonated next to them. They peeled themselves away from the door to find a screen display lit up on the wall next to the door.
“Welcome, Trainer!” the digitized female voice of a pixelated woman said. “This is the Cinnabar Island Gym! If you wish to challenge this Gym's Leader, you'll need to have sharp battling skills and a sharp mind! You will find monitors like this one throughout the Gym, situated in front of a set of locked doors. You are required to answer a question displayed on the screen by tapping one of the four multiple-choice answers, but you only have thirty seconds to make a choice! Get it right, and you may move on to the next room! Get it wrong or let time run out, and you will have to battle the Trainer stationed in each room to progress further. If you wish to keep your Pokémon in tip-top shape to battle the Leader, you'd best answer correctly!”
After a brief pause, Fireball gazed over at his friend. "Is this what school is like?"
Antoshi chuckled. “Yes, but with a bit less pressure. I just hope we come up with the correct answers to whatever—”
“Question number one!” the digitized woman suddenly spoke, surprising the pair. “Which Gym are you at right now?”
The screen displayed each choice, which included 'Cinnamon', 'Cranberry', and 'Cyndaquil'.
"Does that one say 'Cyndaquil'?" Fireball asked. "Pick that one."
Antoshi smirked before tapping on 'Cinnabar'. They were greeted with a green check mark and the sound of ringing bells.
“That's correct! You may now proceed inside!” The doors slid open, granting entry to them. “Don't get too excited, though! The questions will only get tougher from here!”
"Thank you, lady on the screen!" Fireball cheerfully said, waving to the computer. The pair headed inside and the doors slid closed behind them.
They immediately felt tiny beneath the Gym's incredibly tall ceiling. The floor was patterned with red and white tiles. Everything was kept clean and shiny as if brand-new.
They marched up a small set of stairs, which brought them to the first open room. A rotund man wearing loose clothes adorned with flame patterns sat on a chair near the monitor. He was in a class of Trainers called 'Firebreathers', due to their penchant of performing fire breathing displays before battles, as well as their affinity for Fire-type Pokémon. It was hard to tell at first due to his dark red sunglasses, but the man was actually sound asleep. They crept by in an attempt to let him sleep, until the loud monitor came to life.
“Welcome, Trainer!” the digitized lady exclaimed, rousing the Firebreather awake. He yawned and stood up. From behind his back, he pulled out a Poké Ball, expanded it, and tossed it up and down while he stood by.
“Which of the following is true?” the computer asked. Its display showed several choices. 'Fire is strong against Water', 'There are 9 certified Pokémon League Badges', 'Arbok evolves into Seviper', and 'Quizzes are fun!'
Antoshi quirked an eyebrow. “This is a trivia question?”
Fireball hummed in thought. "Seems tough," he remarked, looking over the answers.
Antoshi shook his head in amusement, tapping the fourth answer. “Correct!” the computer told them before the next set of automatic doors opened. “You may move on to the next room.”
As Antoshi and Fireball went ahead, the Firebreather shrugged and sat back down in his chair to resume napping.
“Fireball, you can't read,” Antoshi said, once they were out of earshot.
"Exactly my point!" Fireball replied.
Antoshi put his studious knowledge of Pokémon to use in the Gym. The many books he read on training, Pokémon biology and their natures all suddenly paid off. In his endeavor to gain information and maps about the Kanto region, he had subscribed to various magazines targeting Trainers. His studies and over a year of experience as a Trainer made the quiz questions fun.
The questions did become progressively harder, as they'd been told. 'Where are wild Jynx found?' and 'Can Umbreon learn Sucker Punch?' There were also tricky questions like 'Does Magneton weigh as much as three Magnemite?' The time limit kept him on his toes.
He remained calm and patient, studying each question and carefully choosing an answer. Each room's Fire-specialist Trainer was eager and ready to battle. As the boy continued picking correct answers, they were left with the dashed hopes of breaking the monotony. Antoshi was only focused on getting his one Pokémon through to the Gym Leader unscathed.
After clearing a dozen quiz machines, the final set of automatic doors opened to reveal a large battling stadium.
"Finally!" Fireball exclaimed. "I was ready to fall asleep like those Trainers back there."
On the opposite end of stadium room, a person in a white lab coat laid napping on a sofa. The pair looked around as they approached the challenger's side of the field. The room was just as neat, tidy, and polished as the rest of the Gym. The slumbering Leader seemed to take very good care of it.
They took their marks on the opposite end of a giant Poké Ball etched into the ground, poised confidently and ready for battle, waiting a short time.
That short time turned into a minute.
“I'll bet this is some kind of strategy,” Antoshi whispered to his friend. “All those trivia questions, then forcing us to wait patiently until they're ready. It must be a plan to wear us down.” Fireball nodded in agreement.
Two minutes passed, then three, then four…
As they continued to wait, their shoulders became slumped over from boredom. "Are you sure this is strategy?" Fireball curiously asked.
“Absolutely not,” Antoshi replied flatly before clearing his throat. “Excuse me! Hello?”
“Huh?” a feminine voice responded from the couch. The Gym Leader in the lab coat sat up and stretched, yawning loudly. “I didn't know there was a challenger. The sounds of battling usually wakes me up.”
A girl in her teens with lightly tanned skin slowly got to her feet. She wore dark, black glasses and a conspicuous bald cap that did little to hide the long, orange hair that reached the small of her back. She sported a long, graying mustache on her upper lip.
“I see now,” she said, stretching her sides. “You guys decided to do the boring, brainy route, didn't you? That's pretty dumb. Pretty smart, but pretty dumb. Most challengers to my awesome Gym like to actually get their hands dirty and battle as many of my Trainers as they can. Then I get to pick them off easy because their Pokémon are weak by the time they get here! Well, good job, I guess, 'Brainy'.”
Antoshi was flabbergasted. “Err, … you require people to use those trivia machines. It even said outside that you have to have a 'sharp mind' to get through the Gym.”
“Well, duh, I know that! People like you are so boring, though! A lot of the Trainers go through at least one battle here. Sheesh!”
Fireball blinked curiously. "Is … that a mustache?" he asked, keeping his voice low.
“I didn't even know girls could grow mustaches,” Antoshi replied.
“It's not a real mustache, you stupid … person!” she stumbled, angered. She noticed the lei that Antoshi was wearing and suddenly became quite arrogant. “You're lucky I'm even entertaining a challenge from some goofy tourist who wandered inside my Gym.”
Antoshi and Fireball looked at each other in confusion. “I'm not some 'tourist',” Antoshi countered. “I'm a Trainer with six badges!”
“Blah, blah, blah,” she replied, mocking him with her hand. “So what? You've got six badges, but I don't see any extra Poké Balls on you. You're not going to get any farther with just one Pokémon.”
Antoshi smirked. “You may be right about that, but, you're not the first person to tell us that, and you won't be the last we prove wrong! This is our life's work you're facing — our heart and soul—” Fireball interrupted Antoshi's dramatic speech, tapping Antoshi on the shoulder to get his attention. He pointed at the mustache on her face. “Oh, yeah. By the way, why are you wearing that … everything?”
She folded her arms across her chest. “Ha! Of course you wouldn't recognize who I look like, you silly tourist!”
“But, you just look like an old man …” Antoshi trailed off, recalling some famous Gym Leaders from one of his magazines. “Wait a minute, you're dressed like one of the people that used to run this Gym — Blaine!”
She laughed haughtily. “That's right, Brainy! I happen to be his great-great-granddaughter! … In spirit,” she added, with an awkward cough. Antoshi and Fireball both quirked an eyebrow. “Okay, I'm not actually his descendant, but Blaine has been a hero of mine ever since I learned about the history of our amazing island and our legendary Trainers! I promised myself that I would become the most amazing and powerful Fire-type Trainer that Cinnabar has to offer, and guess what? I did! After the previous Gym Leader retired a couple months ago, I took his place, and here I am! I'm kinda new as a Gym Leader, but you're still in for a scorching battle! My name is Blaire — but you can call me 'Blaire the Magnificent'!”
The duo blankly stared at her like a couple of stunned Magikarp.
"That's … kinda cool," Fireball remarked, "and a little creepy, too."
Blaire spun around on her heel in such a way that her long coat flapped dramatically. “So! Let's get the formalities out of the way! Who is this know-nothing tourist standing before me? A Trainer who foolishly wishes to face Blaire the Magnificent with one Pokémon?”
“I'm Antoshi — a Trainer from Saffron City and, yes, I wish to challenge you for the Volcano Badge!”
“Antoshi?” Blaire wondered aloud with a scoff. “That's an odd name like I've never heard before!”
He smiled and shrugged. “I get that a lot.”
“As per Indigo League regulations,” she said, “I'm required to inform you that if you lose this match, you can't request a rematch for another two weeks!”
“I know that one by now,” Antoshi replied, briefly recalling some of their many losses at Gyms along the way.
“Fine then, Brainy!” Blaire replied, grinning confidently, her dark sunglasses shimmering. “As the official Gym Leader of the official Cinnabar Island Gym, I — Blaire the Magnificent — do officially accept your challenge!”
Blaire threw her first Ultra Ball up high with theatric flair. The ball opened in mid-air, a bright light bursting forth from it which took the shape of a large dragonlike Pokémon. As the light faded, an imposing Charizard landed on the ground with a heavy thud. It gave a roar, streams of flames erupting from its mouth.
Blaire caught the ball as it returned to her person almost like a sentient boomerang. She held it at her side, smirking confidently.
Antoshi's eyes lit up as he grinned eagerly. His blood raced with excitement while staring down his competition.
“Starting off strong,” he remarked to himself, quietly. Fireball and Antoshi nodded to each other. “All right, Fireball — go get 'em!”