Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ A Blond Ray of Sunshine ❯ Chapter 2

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Fireball stepped up, locking eyes with Blaire's Charizard. With a roar of his own, the upper part of his back ignited. His body radiated a shimmer of heat — a threat display. He was fully focused and ready for a serious battle.

‘A fellow Fire-type, eh?’ Blaire thought with a smile.

There were a few moments of tense quiet between the two sides as they stared each other down, analyzing their current situations. Blaire may have claimed to be new to her role, but she was still a Gym Leader nonetheless. With two badges left and no time to spare before the start of the Indigo League Tournament, there was no room for error in this battle.

Charizard snorted, looking down at Fireball with an upturned snout as though it were above such a challenge. Fireball continued to stare down his opponent, his intense gaze unwavering.

Blaire opted to make the opening move with a dramatic point toward the enemy. “Charizard, use Slash!” Her Pokémon grunted in response, using its wings to soar toward its opponent at ground level.

“All right, Fireball,” Antoshi said, “let's turn up the heat! Use Eruption!”

Fireball dropped down on all fours and sprinted at Charizard.

‘A Fire-type attack?’ Blaire thought as she furrowed her brow. ‘Is he not as smart as I expected? No, … he's using it now while his Typhlosion is still fresh, when it'll do more damage.’

As Fireball neared close, Charizard's sharp claws glowed with a magical energy indicative of various Pokémon moves. Charizard swiped hard at him but missed when Fireball ducked and tackled into Charizard's lower body. He struck with such force that he launched the large, dragonesque Pokémon airborne. With Charizard directly above him, Fireball gave a mighty roar, the flames on his back erupting into a massive pillar of flames that completely engulfed his opponent.

Charizard cried out in pain while Blaire looked on bitterly, unable to help. When the eruption of fire dissipated, Fireball darted out of the way. Charizard crashed back down to the ground. It groaned as it weakly lifted itself back up by its arms.

“Charizard, you okay?” she asked.

Her Pokémon grunted, and gave her a nod.

“Don't let up, Fireball!” Antoshi said to his friend, with a confident smirk. “You know what time it is!”

Fireball nodded in response. The Typhlosion curled himself up in a large ball and revved in place like a spinning tire.

Blaire looked on with a curious gaze. The flames on his upper back spread all the way around him until he was enveloped in a fireball, just like his namesake.

“This is our signature attack!” Antoshi exclaimed. “A special Rollout I like to call 'Rolling Fireball'!”

Fireball's spinning body barreled toward Charizard like a homing missile. The Typhlosion's incredible speed left Blaire stunned and unable to react in time. Charizard was violently thrown to the side from a direct blow of Fireball's blazing Rollout attack. The reptilian beast tumbled to a stop, groaning and growling while picking itself up again.

The attack was flashy and intimidating, but their distinctive Rollout did not change its Rock typing. It was usually not their best — or preferred — choice of attack. However, its typing did make it very useful against anything weak to Rock, particularly a Fire- and Flying-type like Charizard.

Fireball spun around for the next phase of Rollout. His speed and power increased as he aimed for Charizard again.

“He's coming back around!” Blaire said to her Pokémon. “Charizard, use Fly! Now!

With a grunt of acknowledgment, Charizard flapped its large wings and took to the air just in time to narrowly avoid the speeding Typhlosion. The miss caused Fireball to hop out of his Rollout, sliding to a halt a short distance in front of Antoshi. They both focused their attention upon the airborne Charizard.

“Now, Charizard, strike!”

Charizard roared, diving headlong at Fireball with incredible speed.

“Guard!” Antoshi instructed his friend.

Fireball clenched his jaw and crossed his short arms over his chest to brace from the hard impact of Charizard smashing into him. He grunted as he slid backwards. Antoshi put his hands out to catch his friend and stop his momentum.

“You all right?” Antoshi asked as they looked at each other. Fireball grinned and gave him a thumbs up.

Charizard came in for a landing on its side of the stadium floor once again.

“That's impressive!” Blaire said. “From what I've learned, Typhlosions are supposed to incinerate anything that gets near it when it's all worked up like yours is. Just like how trusted humans don't get burned by Rapidash flames, you must have have one heck of a bond with your Pokémon there.”

“Fireball's not just a Pokémon,” Antoshi replied, looking up at his friend with a proud smile, “he's my best friend.” Fireball grinned, nodding in agreement.

Despite scoring a hit, the previous attacks had took their toll on Charizard. It panted heavily, visibly more worn down and battle-scarred than its opponent.

‘Not just a great bond,’ Blaire thought, glancing at her Charizard, ‘but that's a strong Typhlosion, too.’ With her Pokémon on its last legs, Blaire sighed in frustration. ‘One last play,’ she thought. ‘They're not going to see this one coming.’

“Charizard,” she said, “Smokescreen!”

Charizard grunted, using its wings to spin around while exhaling a large, rolling plume of black smoke all around to conceal its position.

Antoshi narrowed his eyes. ‘Why Smokescreen?’ he thought. ‘She doesn't strike me as the type of Trainer to waste time stalling. She almost certainly has a plan in motion, that much I'm sure of. We need to act now and get rid of that smoke before she has time to set anything else up.’

“Use Rolling Fireball!” he said.

Fireball curled up again, revving up to ignite himself into another fireball before charging into the plume. The flames covering his body instantly ignited the dark smoke, creating a brief cloud of fire. Inside the fiery veil, Fireball's attack just missed Charizard. Fireball spun around and hopped out of his Rollout, a short distance from Antoshi once again.

“Now, Charizard, Hyper Beam!” she declared.

Antoshi's eyes widened. With no other Pokémon to fall back on, an attack like Hyper Beam was going to be very costly for them. Charizard took aim at Fireball, charging a bright white sphere of energy in its gaping maw. With a roar, it fired its attack in the form of a long, blinding beam.

Time seemed to stop for the duo as the glaring beam of light soared past them both, coming with inches of hitting either of them. Antoshi gasped in shock once the blast impacted the ground a short distance behind him, creating a moderate explosion that shook the ground.

Blaire was livid with their stroke of luck. “It missed?!” she shouted.

Antoshi closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. Getting hit with Pokémon attacks was always an occupational hazard for a Trainer, and Charizard's Hyper Beam was a particularly powerful one. Antoshi was very thankful it missed him. He quickly shook off his nerves to take advantage of their good fortune.

“All right, Fireball — finish it!” Antoshi said.

Fireball hopped back into his fiery Rollout attack, speeding toward Charizard one last time. There was nothing left for Blaire to do. Charizard was momentarily exhausted from the amount of energy used for Hyper Beam. She closed her eyes before the final impact of Fireball's attack connected with her Pokémon. The attack sent Charizard airborne a short distance before landing hard on its back.

With a weak groan, Charizard finally passed out.

“Yes!” Antoshi whispered with a fist pump. Fireball headed back to his side of the field, standing on his hind feet to face his partner. Both of them grinned in delight. They were feeling fired up, ready for whatever she sent out next.

Blaire grumbled angrily as she held out Charizard's Ultra Ball, recalling the fainted Pokémon into its confines via a crimson-colored beam of light. She stared at the ball for a moment from behind her dark sunglasses.

‘Darn it!’ she thought. ‘Charizard was my strongest Pokémon! I didn't think I'd need any more of my team to send this … 'Antush', or whatever his name is, packing. I'm not going to let this tourist beat me with just one Pokémon — let alone a Fire-type! That's my specialty!’

“Don't get too carried away just because you knocked out just one of my Pokémon!” she said. “I have four! There's no way you're going to get through them all, Brainy!”

Antoshi smirked. “Are you gonna send out your next Pokémon or what?” he confidently replied.

Blaire humphed in defiance. She switched out Charizard's Ultra Ball for a Great Ball. “I sure am — and this one's a doozy! Go, Camerupt!” From the thrown ball came a stubby, angry red camel with two small volcano tops on its back. It gave a deep shout, ready for battle. “Try knocking this big boy out with your fancy little move, Brainy!”

“Fireball, Defense Curl!” Antoshi said.

Fireball curled up into a ball once again, staying in place this time. A bubble-like shield temporarily appeared around his body.

Blaire laughed haughtily. “Oh-ho-ho! That's not gonna save you! Camerupt, Earthquake!”

“Earthquake?” Antoshi remarked in surprise. “Brace yourself, Fireball!”

"I'm on it!" Fireball replied, muffled by his own fur.

Camerupt roared, lifting its forelegs up before smashing into the ground with tremendous force. The ground around Fireball rattled and shook hard until violently shattering around him. Fireball shouted as his balled up body bounced around hard on the jagged, broken, trembling earth. Antoshi steadied himself from the smaller tremors beneath him as well.

“Fireball, you all right?” Antoshi asked as the attack died down.

"Well, … I'm feeling some pain in my back here," Fireball said, still muffled from being in his defensive stance, "but I'm still good to go."

Antoshi smiled proudly. “Our turn, Fireball! Show that Camerupt how we roll! Defense Rollout!”

Defense Rollout?” Blaire mused.

‘Wait a minute, … I remember this combination!’ she thought, gasping in surprise. ‘Defense Curl, then Rollout. Oh, great, this kid actually is some know-it-all nerd!’

Blaire watched in horror as Fireball's flaming body sped toward her helpless Pokémon. “Camerupt, get out of the way!”

Camerupt was far too slow to evade. The impact sent it soaring a short distance before crashing hard like Charizard before it. Camerupt groaned weakly, unable to get back up and collapsed — also like Charizard.

Blaire's eyes nearly popped out from her sunglasses. “What?!” Blaire roared in disbelief. Her Camerupt was already downed. “No way!”

“All right!” Antoshi cheered as Fireball returned to their side of the field. “Awesome job, Fireball!” Fireball grinned once again, feeling very confident.

Blaire gnashed her teeth together. ‘How can this kid's Typhlosion be this strong?! I know Defense Curl doubles the power of Rollout. Even still, he knocked out my Camerupt in just one hit!’

She shrieked and fumed in rage, stomping a foot in frustration before recalling her Pokémon. “Camerupt, return!” She shrunk the Great Ball down to its minimal size, swapping it out with a Friend Ball that was attached to her belt. She expanded the ball, throwing it to the field with less flair and more purpose.

Go, Rapidash!” she exclaimed. The light formed and faded to reveal a large unicorn with a flaming mane, back, tail and fetlocks. “Rapidash, Agility!” The equine Pokémon rapidly trotted in place, its body briefly glowing white. “Now you're in trouble!” she confidently proclaimed.

“Rollout, again!” Antoshi said.

Fireball curled into his attack, revving in place. His body burned brightly as he sped toward Rapidash.

“Rapidash, move!” she commanded. With its Agility, Rapidash had become much faster and more agile than Fireball could manage. The Typhlosion missed his target by a wide margin. “Fire Spin, Rapidash! Lock it down!”

Once Fireball had returned to his side of the field, Rapidash took a deep breath and, with a loud cry, exhaled a vortex of fire that encircled him. Antoshi covered his eyes and stepped back from the flames that burned dangerously close to him. He was unable to maintain visual contact with his friend.

“Fireball! Are you all right?”

"The fire feels kind of nice," Fireball replied, "but I can't move!"

Antoshi clicked his tongue. Fireball was going to be trapped in the vortex until there was no more fuel to churn it. The attack momentarily constricted around Fireball. He shouted as the fire scorched him.

"Okay, it feels a lot less nice now!" Fireball said.

Blaire grinned confidently. “Now, Rapidash — use Bounce!”

Rapidash cried out in acknowledgment. It began to hop up and down, gaining more and more height with each jump until it soared high into the air.

“Fireball, guard!”

Fireball clenched his teeth, crossing his small forearms over his tucked head as best he could. He shouted loudly as the full weight of Rapidash's body landed on him and immediately launched off like a springboard. Fireball fell to the ground with a groan, weakly getting back up onto his feet. He shouted again as the fiery vortex briefly closed in on him.

Blaire laughed haughtily as Rapidash gracefully landed in front of her. “Can't do anything when your Typhlosion can't zip around, huh?!”

Antoshi clenched his fists. ‘We can't afford a loss here,’ he thought. ‘The Indigo League tournament starts in less than two weeks. Having to wait two weeks for our seventh badge means we won't make it there in time.’

“Fireball, try using Rollout to break out of the Fire Spin!”

Fireball immediately curled up and shot into the churning wall of flames. The flames had an unnatural elastic property about them, stretching out like a rubber band. It brought Fireball's momentum to a slow halt until it snapped him back inside the circular vortex.

Blaire laughed again. “Don't worry — I'll put your Typhlosion out of its misery! Rapidash, use Horn Drill!”

Antoshi's eyes went wide with horror. While inaccurate, the move was typically an instant knockout. Rapidash cried out, the horn on its head glowing white and appearing to spin.

“Fireball, keep moving as much as you can!”

"Got it!" Fireball replied. He heaved a sigh before bouncing back and forth on his hind legs like a boxer would. "Come on! Try and hit me!"

The veil of fire masked Rapidash's approach. Fireball gasped as it, and its glowing horn, suddenly burst through the fire. Fireball jumped to the side, stretching his body out to just barely avoid the instant knockout technique. Having missed, Rapidash immediately retreated back to its side of the field.

Blaire remained confident, despite the attack missing. She was able to keep trying, so long as the flames kept Fireball trapped. However, Fire Spin had a fickle mind of its own. It decided when it would peter out. Suddenly, the vortex of fire burst and dissipated.

Both Trainers and Fireball were momentarily stunned.

“No, no, no!” Blaire exclaimed in a panic.

“Now, Fireball!” Antoshi said. “Rolling Fireball!

Blaire grinned. “You forgot my Rapidash is too fast for your Typhlosion to hit, Brainy! Rapidash, get moving!”

“Swerve to the left!” Antoshi instructed.

As Fireball did so, he scored a direct hit on the speeding Rapidash. The high-speed collision sent it flying even further than Blaire's previous two Pokémon. It gave a pained shout upon landing violently, rendered unable to continue after it fell unconscious.

Blaire was left shocked. “But— … but how?! How did you know Rapidash would move that way?”

“I guessed,” Antoshi replied with a shrug. “Well, it was more of an educated guess. Your Rapidash ran to our left the first time it dodged the attack, so I figured it would do it again.”

Blaire remained silent for a moment before the corner of her mouth curled into a slight smirk.

“Not bad, kid,” she remarked as she recalled her Rapidash. “Not bad.”

She gasped when she looked at the final ball she had — a Poké Ball.

‘Oh, crap,’ she thought. ‘I only recently got this Pokémon from a trade. It's not nearly as strong as the others! There's no way it's going to last more than a minute if it gets hit by Rollout.’ She looked at the opposing duo once more. ‘Welp, no other choice now but to go all-in. If I lose, I'm going down in a blaze of glory!’

“Go!” she exclaimed, throwing the ball high into the air. “Talonflame!”

From the open ball came a falcon with orange flame patterns on its feathers, accented with gray, black and yellow. It kept itself airborne, locking eyes with its opponent.

Antoshi and Fireball both gasped in a mix of surprise and awe.

‘A Kalos Pokémon?’ Antoshi thought. ‘Pokémon from Kalos are so rare in Kanto. An exotic Pokémon like that as her final one has to be her most powerful.’ Antoshi's excitement was at its peak, his eyes bright, unable to keep from grinning.

“Talonflame!” Blaire said. “Use Attract!”

“What?!” Antoshi exclaimed in disbelief.

Talonflame kept itself airborne with one wing, using the other wing to mask its beak while blinking alluringly at Fireball.

"Wow!" Fireball said, grinning and blushing, becoming infatuated with the avian Pokémon. "So … pretty!"

Antoshi briefly smacked his hand over his face in disbelief.

“Fireball, use Rolling Fireball!

"Wow…" Fireball muttered, grinning and mindlessly swaying back and forth. "So pretty…"

Antoshi groaned, burying his face in his hands. ‘Please don't tell me our dreams are dashed because of Attract…’

Blaire laughed in amusement. “Love conquers all, kid! Talonflame, use Acrobatics!”

Talonflame screeched in response, flying high into the air before coming down and striking Fireball with her talons several times as she dashed from one side of the field to the other.

Fireball groaned, weakly falling to a knee. "So … pretty," he continued to mutter.

“Come on, Fireball! Snap out of it! We can't lose like this!”

"Can't lose…" Fireball said. "Can't lose to … bird. Very pretty, lovely bird. Can't … lose." Fireball clenched his teeth as he rose to his hind feet. His senses were still dazed from the effect of Attract.

“Are you with me, Fireball?” Antoshi asked with concern in his eyes. “This means everything to both of us. You have to hold it together!”

Fireball groaned again, shaking his head. He turned to Antoshi, giving him a groggy grin and a thumbs up. "I think … I'm good to go."

Antoshi smiled proudly at him and nodded.

“Now we end this!” Blaire loudly declared. “Talonflame, use Brave Bird!”

Talonflame screeched, tucking its wings, falling to a low altitude. It shot headlong at Fireball with blinding speed — enough to cause a visible shock wave.

‘Whoa, that Pokémon's fast!’ Antoshi thought. “Fireball! One more Rollout, buddy! Let's bring it home!”

"All right!" Fireball replied, confidently, curling up and igniting himself one more time. Fireball blasted toward the speeding Talonflame, turning their battle into an impromptu joust.

Both Trainers held their breath in the brief moment just before impact. Talonflame crashed into him and was immediately flung away by the sheer force. Fireball's powerful Rollout attack ended up unwavering. With a pained screech, the bird Pokémon spiraled wildly through the air before crashing hard and sliding to a stop.

With Talonflame unconscious, the battle was over.

Noo~!!” Blaire yelled, infuriated.

Antoshi's face lit up with glee. “Yes!” he shouted. “We did it!”

Fireball rolled his way back to him, extinguishing the flames on his back. Fireball got back to his hind feet with a pained grunt. He shared a high-five with Antoshi.

“No, no, no, no!!” she whined, repeatedly stamping a foot on the ground. “How could I have lost when you only have one Pokémon?!”

Antoshi and Fireball were both elated as they walked over to Blaire. “I told you before we battled,” Antoshi replied. “Fireball and I have a ton of experience — and this is the most important thing to us.” Fireball nodded in agreement.

Blaire sighed, closing her eyes for a moment to cool off. She held her Poké Ball up to recall Talonflame before looking back at the duo with a smirk.

“I will admit, your decision to raise one Pokémon is admirable — and that's a really strong Typhlosion you have because of it. Very few Trainers are willing to stick with just one, but I definitely witnessed just how powerful the bond between a Trainer and a single Pokémon can be. After all, you are putting all of the training and experience of six Pokémon into one! Still, the level of care and dedication you've shown is what being a Pokémon Trainer is all about. You're an interesting one, … er, what was your name again?”

“Antoshi,” he replied, mirthfully.

“Antoshi, right. Congrats,” she said, as she casually tossed him a Volcano Badge, “you just got your seventh badge, kiddo.”

The duo briefly stared at the shiny, red badge cupped in Antoshi's hands. A flood of emotion came over them both, welling up with tears. The badge was another symbol of their hard work and the year they spent committing to this journey. Antoshi looked over at his friend.

“Lucky number seven,” he said, reiterating his remark from before. Fireball responded with an enthused nod.

Blaire smirked at the happy pair, placing a hand on her hip. “You definitely earned it.”

“Thanks,” Antoshi replied. He took out his wallet and flipped open a side flap to reveal six, shining, well-kept badges pinned to it. With a relieved sigh, he proudly added the Volcano Badge to their collection.

“By the way,” Antoshi said, as he put his wallet away, “is your name really Blaire?”

The girl stifled a chuckle. “Depends. Is your name really Antoshi?” she joked. “All right, I'll be honest. Blaire's a nickname I came up with. My real name is Leslie.”

“Why not stick with your real name?” he asked, playfully. “That's what I do.”

Blaire gasped, pretending to be offended. “And miss out on the opportunity to cosplay as the greatest Gym Leader of all time? No way!” She took Blaine's distinct stance with her arms folded across her chest. “Now, you two get out of here before I throw you out.”

“Hope to see you again someday,” Antoshi said with a grin. He headed off, motioning for Fireball to join him.

“So long, brainy kid with the weird name,” she replied. She smirked proudly as she watched the two depart.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

It was dusk by the time they exited the Gym. The sun was setting, bringing an end to another day. Both of them stretched their arms high before sighing in relief.

"I sure am beat," Fireball said, rubbing his back, "and really hungry."

“Same here,” Antoshi replied with a nod as they set off. “Let's get back to the Pokémon Center and get you healed up. Then we can see how much food is left from dinnertime.”

"You know," Fireball said, "we should really have a new meal between lunch and dinner. We'll call it 'dunch'!"

“You are not making that a new word,” Antoshi firmly objected.

"How about 'linner,' then?"

“Absolutely not.”

"Hey, maybe we'll see that cute girl again," Fireball teased.

“I'm ignoring you now, Fireball.”

Fireball quietly chortled in response.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

Back at the Pokémon Center, the duo were ready for some much needed food and rest. They'd been on their feet all day and hadn't eaten since lunch. Antoshi and Fireball sat together in the Center's cafeteria amid a smattering of other Trainers and their Pokémon. They joked and laughed together, in high spirits after reaching another milestone in their journey. Fireball had put away a half-dozen trays of food.

They spent a little more time conversing before deciding it was time to retire for the night. They headed back to their room to get settled in.

The room had its own bathroom, allowing Antoshi to get washed up and brush his teeth. He also took the opportunity to fill a canteen he kept in his backpack with water from the sink. The beds in the Pokémon Centers were only big enough to comfortably fit one person. Fireball didn't mind, however. He settled in on his preferred sleeping place: the floor.

Antoshi slipped under the covers of the twin size mattress. He wore his usual sleeping attire of a white undershirt and matching boxers. After turning off the nightstand lamp, Antoshi and Fireball lay awake for a bit, staring at the ceiling in thought.

“We're in the home stretch now, buddy,” Antoshi quietly remarked.

"We sure are! We're gonna win it all, and win it big!" Fireball replied, beaming with excitement. "I can't wait to see how big the tournament stage is at the Indigo Plateau. Are you excited, too?"

“It's all I can think about lately. I'm trying to keep my excitement on the inside, otherwise I'll never get any sleep until then.” Antoshi pulled the covers up tighter and closed his eyes.

"Antoshi?" Fireball spoke up. "Have you given any more thought about why you're the only one that can hear me speak?"

Antoshi grinned in amusement. “Let's continue this conversation when we're not so tired. Get some sleep, Fireball. I hope you dream about standing on the Champion's platform with me.”

Fireball chuckled. "I'm ready for it. 'Night, Antoshi."

The two sighed in contentment before letting their tired minds doze off to sleep.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

That night, Antoshi had a dream. It was a very clear, and very strange, dream. He found himself standing in the middle of a large public park. The setting was completely new to him. It was late evening. He was surrounded by unfamiliar faces; children and their Pokémon playing and laughing while parents watched and chatted amongst themselves. It was a picturesque evening in a place that seemed so peaceful and carefree.

His hands were stuffed in his pockets, his shoulders slumped over. His legs moved of their own accord, the rhythmic sound of grass crumpling under his shoes, leading him to the edge of the park and across the street where a man and woman were waiting. They appeared to be angry with him.

The image blurred and faded. Afterward, he lay awake in a strange bed, in a bedroom he'd never seen before. He carried feelings of anger and sadness in his heart for reasons unknown. From his mouth, a voice that sounded like his mumbled something unintelligible. He sighed heavily and rolled onto his side to get some sleep. Before he could, another voice emanated from behind him.

“Wake up,” the voice whispered to him, but he did not respond. “Wake up!” the whispering voice became louder, echoing in his head. He quickly rolled onto his other side, opening his eyes to see nothing but darkness clouding his vision. The darkness did not dissipate, but the voice got much louder.

"Wake up!" a familiar, jovial voice rang out. With a startled gasp, Antoshi leapt awake. He was in his bed in the Pokémon Center. "Whoa," Fireball remarked, standing beside him. "Sorry about surprising you like that. You okay?"

Antoshi sighed. The early dawn sun peered through the cracks in the room's horizontal blinds.

“Yeah…” Antoshi responded, his voice groggy. “What time is it?”

"Six o'clock!" Fireball said, happily. "Our usual wake-up time. Hope you're ready for some breakfast, because I sure am."

Antoshi yawned and stretched his arms high. “I will be soon. Thanks for waking me, though. I feel like I would've slept in super late. … I was having the weirdest dream.”

"Was it one of those dreams?" Fireball asked, suggestively.

Antoshi rolled his eyes. “No, it wasn't that kind of dream,” the boy replied, while pulling the bed covers away. “Well, let's get ready to go, so we can keep this victory train rolling toward our last badge. How's that sound?”

"Next stop: the Championship!" Fireball declared.

Antoshi laughed as he hopped out of bed to do some rhythmic morning stretches. Even though Fireball's limbs weren't as long, he joined in on emulating the stretches, much to Antoshi's amusement.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

With his backpack on the bed, Antoshi finished putting away his clothes from the previous day. He wore a colorful tank top, white shorts and the same lei the hula girl had given him.

"You're gonna keep wearing that flower necklace?" Fireball asked, curiously, while sitting on the bed. "Didn't Blaire make fun of you for it?"

“I don't mind. If I'm gonna be a tourist, I might as well look like one for the short time we're here.”

"Well, with that shirt on you look like the king of tourists!"

Antoshi laughed as he slipped his shoes on.

“I guess that means it's perfect,” the boy replied, grinning. “Come on, let's grab some breakfast and head out.”

"Finally, food!" Fireball exclaimed, jumping up to his hind feet.

Antoshi pocketed his wallet as well as the room's key card and slung his backpack over his shoulders. He and Fireball left for the cafeteria. They filled up on all the pastries and fruit that they could before heading back into the main area of the Center. They were fueled up and ready for the next leg of their quest.

“Thank you, Nurse Joy,” Antoshi politely said, handing her the room key card, “as well as everyone that works so hard here.”

“Thank you as well, Trainer,” she happily replied.

“Could I ask you a question?”

“Of course!”

“What's the best way for me to get to Pallet Town from here?”

“Well, you're in luck,” she replied. She reached under the counter, bringing out a small digital map of the island on a portable device. “Since Cinnabar Island is such a popular tourist destination, a ferry company regularly carries people between here and Pallet Town.” She pointed to the map's northwest corner of the island. “The ferry leaves from the Northwest Marina every day promptly at noon.”

“Plenty of time to do that sightseeing we wanted,” Antoshi remarked to Fireball, who nodded in excitement. “Thank you again, Nurse Joy.”

“No problem! We hope to see you again!” she said, waving to them.

“C'mon, buddy,” Antoshi said, before the duo eagerly left together.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

Having a few hours to kill, the two best friends ventured out on their own personal sightseeing tour. It was a crystal clear morning on the island, with just a slight breeze carrying the salty sea air. The rising morning sun sparkled through waving palm fronds over their heads. A small flock of Butterfree fluttered by, around a congregation of Metapod on some nearby palm trees.

The tropical resort was warm and relaxing. It had a whole new shimmer to it in the early hours of the day. It was also more peaceful with far less people around than in the daytime hours. There were less skyscrapers in the direction they were heading, giving them a better view of the island's natural beauty.

Antoshi deeply inhaled the invigorating breeze that carried the end of winter's cold. He sighed cheerfully. It was his favorite time of the year, even though his birthday was in the summertime. The harsh cold and snow had passed, leaving the air cool enough to keep the sky clear and sunny most of the time.

The way Antoshi walked, so poised and confident, rubbed off on Fireball. He had always viewed Antoshi as a natural-born leader, ready to lead them marching to their next adventure. He always took them down the right path, and never let Fireball down. Much of his own inner strength was derived from the young Trainer's adamant confidence, resolve, and boundless excitement.

A handful of passersby stared and chuckled at Antoshi's choice of attire, which in turn caused the duo to laugh amongst themselves, having fully expected such a reaction.

The two stopped by a few shave ice carts along the way. They tried the unique, different flavors that varied between each cart's selection. Antoshi sipped his out of its paper cup while Fireball eagerly downed his in one gulp. He was very content about it, as brain freeze didn't affect him.

Multitudes of shops, restaurants and malls lined the streets. There were large laboratories in the distance that were closed off to the public. Thoroughfares to them were for personnel only.

Antoshi swallowed nervously as they passed by the same street across from the mailbox he'd destroyed. There was yellow caution tape wrapped around the small hole in the pavement left by him. He sighed, gazing down at his clenched fist. His powers had never gotten away from him like that before. It was a sure sign to him that he needed to keep it in check, otherwise people could get hurt next time.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

Antoshi kept track of the time by asking people on the street and checking various town clocks along the way.

"Maybe it's time for you to get a watch," Fireball joked.

“We've done just fine this long without one,” Antoshi replied, smiling. “C'mon, we've got about an hour to get over to that marina before the ferry leaves without us.”

"B-b-but what about lunch?!" Fireball asked in a panic.

Antoshi hummed thoughtfully and looked around. He spotted a nearby cafe and pointed to it. “We can get some food to go from there, but let's be quick, okay?”

"Roger that!" Fireball eagerly replied.

The two shuffled safely across the street and entered the cafe. Just a handful of customers and their Pokémon sat inside as well as at tables just outside the establishment. The air smelled of coffee and freshly baked pastries. It was a scent powerful enough to make Fireball's bottomless belly rumble.

Antoshi ordered a couple of sandwiches from behind a glass display. The proprietor bagged the food, Antoshi paid him, and the two exited with their lunch in hand. Outside, Fireball eagerly held his hands out.

“Ah-ah,” Antoshi chided him, slipping his backpack off and placing it on an empty table. He stored their food away. “We're eating these after we get on the ferry.”

"Well, what if … we went back in and got a couple extra sandwiches for the road?"

“Come on, Fireball,” Antoshi replied, grinning, cinching his backpack over his shoulders. “The sooner we get to that ferry, the sooner we eat.”

Fireball gasped. "Then let's hurry up!" he exclaimed, eagerly racing toward their destination.

Antoshi laughed as he jogged behind his quick-moving friend. “Hey, wait up!”

As they made haste toward the marina, a young adult man took interest in the pair. Leaning against the maw of a nearby alleyway, he calmly watched them shuffle on by. He spotted Antoshi's lei and outfit, indicative of a clueless tourist. He raised and eyebrow and smirked mischievously. He waited until they were a short distance away before casually stuffing his hands in the pockets of his leather aviator jacket and tailing them.