Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ A Blond Ray of Sunshine ❯ Chapter 3

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

The duo reached the marina before long. By noon, activity on the island had picked up. A small group of people waited by the largest dock near the marina's entrance.

“Excuse me,” Antoshi spoke up, grabbing the attention of a tall, elderly gentleman in a formal suit. “Is this the waiting area for the ferry to Pallet Town?”

“It sure is!” the man replied, cheerfully.

“Thank you. I just want to make sure we're in the right place. We … have gotten on the wrong transportation before.”

“Glad to help! Say, that's a very nice-looking Typhlosion you have there!”

“This is my best friend, Fireball,” he replied with a proud smile.

The gentleman extended a hand. “It's wonderful to meet you, Fireball!” Fireball grinned while shaking the man's hand. The gentleman tipped his bowler hat at the two. “Well, I hope the two of you have a great time in Pallet Town.”

“Thanks again,” Antoshi said, before the gentleman walked away.

Fireball started bouncing up and down in anticipation. "So, um, what's in those sandwiches anyway?"

“I'm not su~re,” Antoshi replied, playfully. “I think it's a surprise.

Fireball was shocked. "Surprise sandwiches!?" He turned around to face the water. "Where is that ferry?!"

The shady young man following them appeared from the crowd. As he approached, his eyes were locked solely on Antoshi. He noticed the indent of Antoshi's wallet in his back pocket. His eyes lit up, slowly and casually strolling up behind him. He reached down, his fingers just slipping within Antoshi's pocket.

Suddenly, a large man hastily bumped into Antoshi, causing him to stumble backward into the would-be thief.

“Sorry!” the careless man exclaimed before shuffling off.

Antoshi chuckled and turned to the thief. “Sorry about that.”

“Hey, it's no problem!” the young man replied with a nervous, boisterous laugh.

Antoshi turned his attention back to the marina. The thief bitterly grumbled at the convenient mishap.

"Oh, oh! There it is!" Fireball exclaimed, hopping into the air and waving the ferry over.

The ferry blew its horn. At the same time, the thief tried to pick Antoshi's pocket again. He fumbled and pulled too hard on the seam, grabbing the boy's attention. The thief quickly pretended to look around mindlessly, whistling to himself.

Antoshi idly reached back to pull his wallet out. “I guess I should get ready to pay the fare as fast as possible,” he mused, smiling as he watched Fireball continue to jump in excitement.

The thief behind them seethed. Something as simple as picking some kid's pocket shouldn't have been so challenging. ‘Oh, come on!’ he thought. He bit his thumbnail, looking back at the city. He had a look on his face as though he'd remembered something important.

Heaving a sigh, he remained where he stood. ‘A kid with a rare Pokémon like a Typhlosion has to have a jackpot of a wallet.’ He slid his hands into his pockets, keeping his cool, while waiting for the ferry just like everyone else.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

People soon began to board the ferry one by one. Each passenger paid the attending deckhand a small fare to board. Fireball merrily skipped across the gangplank, followed by Antoshi, who paid for them both. The thief calmly slipped past without paying while the deckhand was distracted by a woman asking a question.

Antoshi and Fireball took a seat next to each other on one of the bolted down wooden benches set in rows. The boy took his backpack off, setting it beside them. The thief sat out of their eyesight. He watched them for a moment before reclining across an entire bench. An older woman looking for a seat walked by and scoffed at his manners.

Antoshi unwrapped one of the sandwiches. Fireball went to take it from him. “Now remember,” Antoshi said, momentarily keeping the food just out of Fireball's reach, “we each get one sandwich, okay? Try not to swallow it all in a single gulp.”

Fireball nodded in excitement. Antoshi handed him his food with a smile. The Typhlosion went to take a big bite, but suddenly stopped. "Wait, … what if I get seasick again?"

“This ferry's way bigger than the boat from yesterday — and it's nowhere near as fast. I'm sure it'll be a nice, smooth ride the whole way.”

"Well, in that case, …" he trailed off before taking a bite of his sandwich. Fireball made an endless array of contented noises as he chewed his food. Antoshi calmly ate along with him. Both of them enjoyed their meal while the ferry set sail onto Route 21.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

The slower ferry ride expectedly took a bit longer than their previous seafaring trek did. After eating, Antoshi happily took the opportunity to soak up as much of their surroundings as possible. He and Fireball made their way out onto the starboard deck where they leaned against the metal railing to enjoy the view. Several other people were doing the same further down the ship on either side of them.

"It's a really big world out there, huh?" Fireball asked.

They gazed at Kanto's terrain in the far distance. Memories of previous adventures came flooding back to them.

“Sure is,” Antoshi remarked with a thoughtful smile. “I hope every minute of it has been just as amazing for you as it's been for me.”

"Of course! Every minute of every day is great with my best buddy around." They shared a brief chuckle, gazing to the distance in silence for a moment. "Say, … have you thought about what we'll do after this is over? Y'know, if we … don't make it to the championship? Where do we go from there?"

“One step at a time, remember? We haven't even gotten our eighth badge yet!”

"That's true. … Guess I'm just getting excited now that we're so close to the end."

“Oh, I definitely am, too. I keep worrying that something is going to delay us from making it to the tournament. We just have to keep our cool and go at our own pace like we always do.”

"But, you've always been better at keeping cool than me! I'm ready to sprint as fast as I can to that eighth badge!"

“We'll definitely be moving a lot faster now, don't worry. We don't have much time left.”

The thief made his way onto the deck with Antoshi and Fireball. He made sure no one was watching him before silently creeping up behind them. He was once again just a literal fingertip away from his goal of taking the boy's wallet when the duo suddenly turned around.

“Come on,” Antoshi said to Fireball, “let's go back inside and sit down so you can relax.”

They immediately froze in place upon seeing the thief leaning over in front of them. He panicked and swiftly fell over with a grunt.

“Oh, jeez!” the thief exclaimed, getting back up on his feet with an exaggerated wobble in his balance. “Sorry, I, uh, haven't gotten my sea legs yet.”

The ship wasn't swaying at all, however. The duo looked at him in confusion.

“Hey, you're the guy I bumped into at the marina,” Antoshi remarked.

“Oh, yeah! Wow, funny running into you again!” he replied, laughing nervously. “Well, see ya around!” His legs no longer trembled as he shuffled off in a hurry. Finding his antics peculiar, the duo shrugged to each other and headed back inside.

The thief banged his fist against a nearby wall in frustration. ‘What else can go wrong today?’

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

By mid-afternoon, the ferry neared a small marina at the southern edge of Pallet Town. Antoshi and Fireball stood outside on the upper deck of the ship, taking in the sight of the new location with awe-struck gazes. From their vantage point, they saw many houses and stores lining the roads. The town was quaint and colorful with cars and pedestrians bustling about. The buildings had roofs of all different colors in the spirit of its 'palette' namesake.

Once the ferry docked, its passengers began to file out one by one. The duo headed out of the marina with eager grins, ready to see as much as they could in the short time they had to spare. The would-be thief followed at a distance behind them, still seething from the earlier mishaps.

"So, where to first?" Fireball asked.

Antoshi pulled out his compendium. “Hmm, … I think we should just make a beeline straight through the center of town. It's the quickest path and it has some sights along the way.”

Fireball shuddered as Antoshi put the guide away. "I hate bees."

Antoshi chuckled, marching forth alongside his friend. “Well, maybe if you didn't bother every hive you saw, you wouldn't have such a problem with them.”

"But their honey is so delicious."

With that remark, Fireball's stomach began to rumble. The duo glanced at his belly, then at each other.

“C'mon, let's find a place to grab some food along the way. We'll have an early dinner.”

Fireball nodded happily in agreement.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

The pair strolled down the old-fashioned brick-lined sidewalk — a thematic mix of colorful and white at various points. Everything about the area was warm and welcoming. Many passersby smiled, waved or greeted the duo. Some of them were fascinated with a rare Pokémon like Fireball, particularly at how abnormally big he was. Antoshi chatted with them, introducing his friend to others as well as their Pokémon, too.

The thief watched from afar, arms folded across his chest. He stewed at how friendly the pair were, shaking his head in frustration as they mingled with so many potential witnesses.

Once they crossed the street, they curiously wandered over to a large, conspicuous, two-story house. It had a queue of people around the block waiting to get in. Antoshi's eyes lit up upon realizing what it was.

“Oh, wow,” he said, awe-struck. “This is the old Oak Laboratory! It's been here since the founding of the town. I've heard the current professor is something of a celebrity.” He noticed a sign on a fence outside the lab. “Five thousand dollars just to go inside? I guess we'll have to pass on this part of the tour, Fireball.”

"Fine by me. That means we get to eat sooner!" Fireball remarked, as they continued on their way.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

A short time later, they neared a quaint sidewalk restaurant. Several tables and chairs were housed inside of a small wrought-iron fence.

“'Please seat yourself',” Antoshi read aloud the sign next to the entrance.

"Don't have to tell me twice!" Fireball said, eagerly taking a seat at one of the tables.

“Good thing these chairs are metal,” Antoshi said. “We don't need you breaking yet another one.”

He took his backpack off and sat across from his friend. They each picked up a menu that'd already been laid out on the table. No one else was seated at the other tables, allowing them to freely talk without judging ears listening in.

"I like places like this," Fireball said, "but I really prefer the all-you-can-eat buffets."

Antoshi shook his head. “I'm never taking you to one of those again after we got kicked out the last time.”

"I couldn't help it! They had waffles! Tons and tons of waffles! That's my favorite food!"

“Yeah, and you ate them all. It's a good thing you were able to walk after that or they would've had to forklift you out.”

The two continued looking over the menu when Fireball suddenly began to hyperventilate. Antoshi looked over at him with concern. Fireball stared back with wide eyes, slowly turning the menu around and pointing to a large picture of waffles with syrup. Antoshi sighed and smiled.

A few moments later, a perky, young waitress came out to greet them.

“Hello there!” she said, grabbing their attention. “Welcome to The Sweet Sunkern, my name is Gemma. What can I get for ya'?”

“I will have the chicken salad,” Antoshi replied with a smile, as he set his menu down.

“Very nice! And how about the handsome Typhlosion?”

She chuckled, watching Fireball restlessly bounce up and down in his chair.

“He seems very excited to order!”

Antoshi smiled, sitting back, comfortably. “I know exactly why. He'll have the waffles,” Fireball eagerly nodded to the waitress, “with syrup,” Fireball nodded with further enthusiasm. “and lots of blueberries on top.”

“Sure thing! Wow, you know, that's quite impressive that you can understand your Pokémon so well.”

“Almost like I can hear him speak,” Antoshi joked. Gemma shared a laugh with him.

“I'll be right back with your food,” she said, before heading back inside.

Fireball sighed in content, settling down before picking up his fork and knife. "It took so long for you to teach me how to eat with utensils," Fireball said, smiling. "Just being able to hold them right took weeks. I'm surprised you had so much patience with me."

“It was worth it considering how many napkins you used to go through.” The two of them chuckled.

"It's really nice here," Fireball remarked. Antoshi nodded.

“Yeah, it's much calmer and more peaceful than we're used to — kind of like Lavender Town, except that was more of an … eerie peaceful. Guess that's just how towns are compared to the city.”

"I like it," Fireball said, rapping his fork and knife on the table. "Now, where's my waffles?"

Antoshi sighed. “Next thing I have to teach you is some restraint.”

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

Antoshi and Fireball took their time enjoying their meal. The would-be thief watched them from across the street, grumbling as he bit into a hamburger from the food stand he leaned an arm against.

After the duo finished eating, they were back on their way through the welcoming streets of Pallet. They continued to be stalked by the thief.

The pair came across a picturesque town square where several large oak trees grew. Small groups of people wandered around, some of them taking pictures with their phones. At the center was a large, stone statue atop a pedestal in the middle of a man-made pond. Antoshi gasped loudly in awe. A huge grin crept across his face, eagerly jogging over to see the statue up close.

“I've been waiting for so long to see this statue,” he remarked, his gaze unblinking. “Wow, … it's really him.”

"That's the guy you've mentioned a few times, isn't it?" Fireball curiously asked, standing next to his friend. "The guy that became Champion a long time ago?"

“Yep. The legendary Trainer from Pallet Town.”

"I'd love to have been able to battle that Pikachu of his," Fireball remarked with a confident smirk. "Some of the Pokémon I've met talk about that Pikachu, too — it's not all about the Trainers, you know."

“I already know that with you as my best friend,” he replied. The two of them grinned at each other before looking back to the statue. “This statue was built over seventy years ago to commemorate them. … I'm really glad I got to see it.”

Fireball noticed a plaque on a small pedestal near Antoshi's feet. "Hey, what's that say in front of you?"

“Let's see. It says, 'Dedicated to all Trainers and their beloved Pokémon aspiring to be the very best. We—the people of Pallet Town—erect this statue in honor of the sacrifices he and his Pokémon have made, and the people whose lives they've touched. May it serve as a keystone to those who dream and those who endeavor.'”

Antoshi was moved by the poignant words, beaming with pride. They were words that had deep meaning to himself and Fireball. He looked up at the statue again with a smile. “It sure will.”

The pair proudly gazed at the statue a little longer. With a content sigh, Antoshi nudged his friend. “Let's get a move on.” He brought out his compendium again as they strolled away. “According to the map, the Pokémon Center's at the northern edge of town. We'll make a quick stop to give Mom and Dad a call.”

"Sounds like a plan!" Fireball said.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

Antoshi and Fireball entered the Pokémon Center, finding it not terribly busy. There was an oddly pleasant flowery scent in the air, most likely from the Roselia sitting by its male Trainer at the far end of the main area. Nurse Joy tended to a couple of Trainers and their lethargic Raticate at the front desk. The duo headed over to the videophones to make their call to home.

Antoshi's doting mother appeared on screen, answering the phone slower than usual.

“Antoshi!” his mother exclaimed, with a surprised look on her face. “You've never called two days in a row! Is everything okay?” Antoshi's father casually walked by in the background, appearing just as surprised as she was before he headed over to the phone.

“Yeah, everything's great!” he replied, smiling. Fireball waved to them from behind Antoshi. “We're actually in the Pallet Town Pokémon Center now. We're not going to be staying here for much longer, though. We'll be on the road to Viridian City by tonight.”

“You got there so quickly!” his father remarked. “And you're leaving already, too? I hope you're not moving around too fast now.”

Antoshi nodded. “Unfortunately, we are, Dad. We have to, though. I hate to leave so soon but we don't have a lot of time before the tournament sign-ups close. That's less than two weeks. We also don't know how tough the Gym in Viridian is going to be, so we might not have any time to spare.”

“I always trust your judgment, Antoshi,” his mother said, warmly. “Sometimes I think you're wise beyond your years. … Well, I'll have another shipment of clothes and some more money ready for you by the time you get to Viridian City, okay?”

“Thanks, Mom,” Antoshi replied, grinning.

“And make sure you send back all your old clothes this time.”

“Aww, but, that red shirt with the white stripe down the middle is really comfy!” Antoshi whined, playfully smirking.

All your old clothes.”

“I got it, Mom. … Oh! We were able to see a few of the sights in Pallet. It's really nice here.”

“That's wonderful, Antoshi! I'm always happy when you're happy, honey. I know someday you'll look back fondly on all these memories you're making. Talk to us again when you get to Viridian City!”

“I will. Love you guys.”

“We love you, Antoshi!” they both said, before the call disconnected.

Antoshi smiled as he got up from the chair. “Looks like we're off to Route 1,” he said, looking at Fireball, who nodded in agreement. “This is the fastest we've ever moved through our entire journey. Think you'll be full enough for the rest of the night?”

"We … still have those snacks just in case, right?"

“Yes, we still have snacks,” Antoshi replied with a chuckle. Fireball sighed and wiped his brow in relief.

As they departed the Pokémon Center for the town's northern limits, the luckless thief kept an eye on them from nearby. Leaning against a lamppost, he spoke quietly to an unknown party on his cell phone. He became progressively more cross with the person on the other end of the call. In a huff, he hung up and put his phone in his back pocket. He angrily straightened his jacket before stuffing his hands in its pockets, following the duo once again.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

Antoshi and Fireball reached the gate house separating Pallet Town from Route 1. It was as busy as any crosswalk connecting people from one side of a street to the next. The gate housed a Trainer checkpoint, allowing Antoshi to scan his Trainer Card with the authorities working inside. Like the Pokémon Centers, the scan updated his last known location.

“Thank you,” he said, as he was given back his Trainer Card from the gate's guard. He slipped the card back in his wallet.

“Hey, no problem, youngster,” the gatekeeper responded, adding as the pair departed, “you two stay safe now!”

“We will!” Antoshi called back, grinning.

They entered Route 1 through the gate's automatic doors. Both of them had the same level of intrigue and curiosity on their faces as they did every time they set foot in a new location. The large, spacious route was a long, winding dirt path with patches of large grass at the path's edges leading into the forest. Like any route, there were a mix of Trainers, Pokémon, and pedestrians traveling through. The route was lined with the occasional park bench, litter bins, and set of street lights on either side of the pathway.

On one side beyond the trees, cars drove to and fro. The nearby roadway connected Viridian, Pallet, and other nearby small towns that had cropped up in the past decades. Being neighbored to popular towns and cities attracted homebuyers.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

The duo continued walking until nightfall. Antoshi had scooped up various sticks and twigs along the way, storing them in his backpack's empty side pocket. They found a clearing outside the beaten path to set up camp. Antoshi used the tinder he'd collected, along with a casual puff of flame from Fireball, to bring a small campfire to life. He rolled out his sleeping bag, while Fireball settled in on the ground next to him.

Having undressed into his usual sleeping attire, Antoshi neatly folded his clothes and placed them in his backpack which was set down between himself and Fireball. He climbed into his sleeping bag.

"Another comfy patch of grass to sleep on," Fireball remarked in content, resting his forepaws behind his head.

Surrounded by acres of untouched forest, they happily stared up at the countless stars in the sky. The air was always so crisp and fresh in the forests, especially at night. The breeze caused leaves to rustle softly amid the quiet crackle of the fire and chirping crickets.

"Antoshi," Fireball said, breaking the silence. "Why do you think you can talk to Pokémon?"

Antoshi sighed heavily. “This again?” he asked, looking over at his friend. “How many times are we gonna have this conversation?”

"I just know we'll figure this out! Everyone thinks you're totally crazy or something to be able to talk to me. What do we know about it so far?"

“Well, let's see,” Antoshi said. “After we got our first badge together, we were both really excited. It felt like you and I suddenly had this amazing bond together, like we were an unstoppable team. Then, out of nowhere, you … started talking to me. Before that, I just heard you growl or make noises or the usual 'Quilava, Quilava!' I thought it was a normal thing that Trainers go through after bonding with their Pokémon, so I didn't think much about talking to you in public until I started getting funny looks. Turns out it wasn't some normal thing. Still, journeying all by myself up to that point had been really lonely, and now I could talk to you. How could I keep your in your Poké Ball after that?”

Fireball grinned. "I love hearing the story about how we started adventuring together! Have you thought of anything new about the whole 'talking to me' thing?"

“Well, there's—” Antoshi's eyes nervously shifted away. “Err, … never mind.” Fireball looked at his friend with suspicion.

"Antoshi, I'm your best friend. I know you're not telling me something. Who else are you gonna tell your secrets to, anyway? Who else am I gonna tell?"

“Okay, okay, fine.” Antoshi sighed heavily, thinking for a moment. “I've noticed lately that … well, that I may be different from normal people.”

"I could've told you that."

“Okay, aside from being able to talk to you, I just …” Antoshi trailed off, sitting up in his sleeping bag. “Here. Look at what I found out I can do.”

Fireball also sat up, curiously watching as Antoshi cupped his hands with his palms facing upward. Antoshi stared at his open hands and concentrated intensely, quietly grunting with effort. His brown irises came alight with a reddish hue.

Fireball watched in astonishment as bright particles of light began to form over his hands and pulled together into a large ball. The amorphous orb of light shimmered with a brilliant hue of red and felt comfortably warm. It was identical to the object that destroyed the post box.

"Whoa," Fireball remarked. "What is it?"

“I'm … not sure, but … it takes a lot of concentration … for me to—” the ball of light abruptly burst back into particles and faded away. “… Hold it.” Antoshi sighed, letting his hands fall away. “When I don't concentrate, it just pops like a balloon. It kind of makes me a little tired afterward, too. I don't know why I'm able to do it.”

"That's some crazy puberty you're going through," Fireball joked. Antoshi cut his eyes at him. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding!" Fireball rest a paw on his chin as he thought for a moment. "Well, I've never seen anything like that before. No person we've ever met did it, either. … Hang on a minute. Since when did you have time to find out you could do this, when we're together all the time?"

“Remember the time when you nearly fell off that cliff on Route 14?”

"Yeah, you caught me by the legs and pulled me up. I'm still amazed by how strong you were."

“Well, … when I was holding on to you, I was so scared that I was going to lose you, and that I'd never see you again. That's when I noticed my hands and my arms were glowing red — just like that light that's been appearing around me since then. As it turns out, it isn't just some fancy light, there's definitely some kind of power behind it. It always feels like I have … supercharged energy whenever my emotions peak. Once my arms started glowing, pulling you back up was a breeze. After you were safe, it just went away. I spent a whole bunch of nights awake after that trying to get it to happen again and, eventually, I was able to form that glowing ball I just showed you.”

Antoshi looked away despondently, rubbing his arm.

"… What's wrong?" Fireball asked in concern.

“I didn't want to tell you about this because, … well, honestly I'm a little nervous about it.”

"Why are you nervous? This is cool!"

“I'm unsure about what it means. Right now, it doesn't seem like it has much purpose. It may also mean much more than just a neat light show in my hands. I'm not sure … if this is something dangerous. I can't tell if it's a good feeling or a bad feeling that I'm getting when I use it. It just makes me feel odd inside, like my whole body is shaking with this crazy energy I can barely contain.”

Fireball blinked in confusion. "… And you're sure this isn't puberty?"


"Sorry! I just don't really know anything more than you do. Maybe we should ask someone else."

“Like who?”

Fireball stared blankly for a moment. "Good question."

“Well, maybe I'll just … understand it better in time, I guess.”

"Maybe. For now, we have something cool to look at whenever we're bored!"

Antoshi couldn't help but smile. “I guess there's always that.” He laid back down in his sleeping bag and sighed. “Well, goodnight, Fireball.”

"Goodnight, Antoshi."

Fireball followed his friend's lead, curling up comfortably on the ground. The pair rested up for another busy day.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

That night, Antoshi had another somber dream. He found himself sitting in the same bed he had dreamt about the previous night. He looked down at his hand, finding that he was trembling uncontrollably. He again had feelings of sorrow, but now those feelings were exacerbated and accompanied by fear and panic.

He heard a muffled voice from an unknown source speaking to him. He couldn't discern the words. The voice began laughing — a deep, cruel laugh. He clasped his forehead and shouted in agony.

“Can I really do this?” he mused. “This … this seems crazy.”

“Give it time,” the voice replied.

He panted fearfully, trembling from head to toe. “I feel sick,” he said. “… I can't! I just can't do this! I don't want to do this anymore!”

He raced to his open bedroom window, defenestrating himself. He plummeted toward the ground while the mysterious voice continued its laughter. The moment his body impacted some bushes, Antoshi jolted awake with a terrified shout.

All was quiet in the middle of the night. Fireball was sound asleep. Their campfire had smoldered. Antoshi was in a cold sweat, his breathing ragged. His heart raced from the residual fear and panic of his dream.

‘What is going on?’ he thought, running a shaking hand through his hair. ‘What are these dreams I keep having? It's like I'm having someone else's dreams, … but why do they feel so real?’

Antoshi reached into his backpack, pulling out his canteen of water to drink from. He sighed heavily, putting the cap back on and stored it away before he laid back down. His trembling slowly subsided as he gazed up at the starry night sky. He brought a hand in front of his face, focusing for a moment, summoning the same bright red energy as before into his palm. He clenched his fist to extinguish the light before letting his hand fall away.

‘This strange light … and the dreams have to be connected. But how?’

He stayed awake for a short while, attempting to cleanse his restless mind of the dream by recalling memories of soon after Fireball evolved into a Typhlosion. After having finally bonded, battling together was like second nature to them both — and they realized they were quite good at it. Deciding to keep his best friend as his one and only Pokémon, Antoshi felt it was time for them to take their journey to the next level and challenge Gyms.

Celadon Gym was the first. It was their best option, due to the Gym's Grass-type specialty. However, as was the case with several Gyms they traveled to, they were unsuccessful on their first attempt. A Gym full of Trainers specializing in Grass-types expectedly formulated strategies for dealing with their weaknesses, like Fire-types. Though disheartening at first, they used the defeat to strengthen their resolve and train even harder for the next attempt, and the next, and so on. Eventually, they found success and earned their first badge. That's when they started to believe they could make it all the way to the Indigo Plateau.

The memories were enough to help him fall back asleep.

Just then, the relentless thief emerged from the trees. He smiled fiendishly. With the pair asleep, there was finally nothing to stop him from his goal. He tiptoed toward their campsite. Once he was close enough, he reached down and grabbed hold of Antoshi's backpack.

Fireball turned over and angrily smacked the backpack out of his hand. The thief jumped, stifling a surprised shout. He thought he'd been made, but Fireball was still asleep.

"I'm taking that last pudding …" Fireball muttered, before smacking his lips.

The thief sighed in relief before trying again. “Come on,” he whispered, trying to slowly and gently pry it away from Fireball's heavy paw. Fireball suddenly yanked the backpack toward him. The Typhlosion gently wrestled with it in his sleep, shuffling its contents around, before sighing happily and hugging it tight.

The thief looked on in horrified disbelief. How in the world could he possibly be this unlucky? He resisted the urge to scream at the top of his lungs in rage. Seething, he retreated back into the woods.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

The following morning, the duo awoke almost in sync. They sat up and stretched their arms high. Antoshi's backpack rolled off of Fireball's chest. The two looked at it in confusion, before looking at each other. Antoshi smirked.

“You hugged my backpack during the night again, huh?” Antoshi asked.

Fireball handed the pack to him. "I can't help it. Sometimes I need something to hold while I sleep."

“Well, I hope you didn't get fur all over it again,” Antoshi joked. He unzipped the backpack and pulled out a new pair of clothes. He also took out a wrapped trail bar for himself and tossed a small bag full of Pokémon food to Fireball. “Here you go, buddy. Let's make sure we're fueled up before we head out.”

Fireball didn't bother responding. Before Antoshi even finished speaking, he was already busy munching through the food with a pleased expression on his face.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

Wearing a black polo shirt and tan cargo shorts, Antoshi cinched his backpack over his shoulders. He crouched down to tie his usual white sneakers with red chevrons on top.

"Don't you ever get tired of wearing those shirts with collars?" Fireball curiously asked.

Antoshi idly brushed some of Fireball's fur off the backpack's straps. “I suppose so. I don't feel like telling Mom that since she really likes how they look on me. I guess it is kind of bad that my mom still dresses me, but … they look good, right?”

"Yeah! Kind of makes you look like a golf player." Antoshi rolled his eyes, scoffing and grinning.

“Very funny,” he sarcastically replied, much to Fireball's amusement. “C'mon, you. Let's get that eighth badge!”

"Challenge accepted!" Fireball replied, as the two set off toward Viridian City.

The thief watched them from behind a tree, looking frazzled and nearly foaming at the mouth with ire.

⁂    ⁂    ⁂

By noon, Antoshi and Fireball neared the northern end of Route 1. They started seeing large buildings towering over the trees, getting taller and closer with each passing minute. The gate separating Route 1 from Viridian City came into view in the distance, and the bustle of passersby started to increase. They rode on high along the gentle breeze carrying them to their destination. Excitement and opportunity were in the air. They grinned at each other, just a short jog away from entering another new city.

A group of young kids soon crowded around the duo. They cooed at the sight of Fireball towering over them.

“Wow, cool! A Typhlosion!” one of them exclaimed, as they all began to pet him.

Fireball grinned. 'Please give me snacks, please give me snacks …' he thought.

Antoshi smiled, watching his friend soak up the attention, while also responding to the kids as they asked him a barrage of questions.

The thief's eyes lit up, seeing that the pair were distracted once again. He casually made his way over to Antoshi, when suddenly a Tauros came rushing down the pathway toward him. He screamed and jumped out of the way of the barreling bull, followed by a Pokémon Breeder chasing after it.

“Tauros, get back here!” the breeder shouted.

“Wow, cool! A Tauros!” one of the youngsters in the group exclaimed, prompting the crowd of kids to head off after it. They accompanied the breeder in chasing the Tauros, laughing and shouting.

“Bye-bye!” one of the kids shouted, waving to Antoshi and Fireball.

“Bye!” Antoshi replied, waving back, before turning to his friend. “You're so popular, Fireball,” he joked.

Fireball chuckled, and the two were merrily on their way again.

The thief stood at the edge of the beaten path, staring at the duo. He let out a frustrated scream, fed up with all the misfortune keeping him from the simple task of stealing a kid's wallet.

“Screw this!” the thief angrily shouted. He broke out into a sprint toward them. The pair heard him coming and turned around just in time to see him snatch Antoshi's wallet before bolting off. “See ya, kid!” he shouted.

The nearby people on the route watched the scene unfold in shock.

“Hey!” Antoshi exclaimed as he and Fireball gave chase. “He stole my wallet!”

"And our badges!" Fireball shouted. He was about to use a Rollout attack on him, but the thief ran into the crowd of people. In doing so, he shoved a lady with long, blue hair to the ground.

“Ow!” she cried out. The duo stopped to check on her.

Antoshi knelt down to the woman. “Are you okay?” he asked in concern.

“Yeah, … I think so,” she replied with a hand on her head. While Antoshi helped her to her feet, Fireball angrily growled before charging into the crowd of people.

Antoshi gasped at the sight of Fireball running off into the frightened crowd. Memories of a more rambunctious Quilava came flooding back to him in an instant. His fear of an uncontrolled Fireball had been realized.

“Fireball, wait!” he called out.

"Don't worry, Antoshi!" Fireball shouted back. "I'm not letting him get away!"

“I'm sorry, I have to go!” Antoshi told the woman, quickly rushing off to follow his friend. “Fireball!”

The thief rushed through the crowd traveling through the gate house, garnering angry yells and complaints as he shoved them aside. He continued running after passing into the Viridian City limits.

He found a nearby alleyway to duck into and pulled out his phone. With his ear to the receiver, he waited for the other party to pick up.

“It's Matt,” he said. “Track my phone, I need to be picked up right now.” The receiver hummed with the sound of a loud, complaining voice. “Just get your ass over here! I'm being chased by some kid's Typhlosion!” He peered his head out of the alley just long enough for Fireball to spot him through the crowd.

"Hey!" Fireball shouted, running toward him on all fours.

“Oh, crap,” Matt muttered to himself before running further down the alley.

Back in the gate house, Antoshi pushed through the crowd, apologizing to the people he bumped into.

“Hey, kid, wait!” the gate guard called out to him from behind the desk. “Come scan your Trainer Card if you're a Trainer!”

“Sorry, I'm in a hurry!” Antoshi exclaimed.

The gate guard had cause for suspicion with two people and a Typhlosion barreling through the gate, and causing a scene. He picked up the phone and informed the Viridian City Police of the incident.

Antoshi's first steps within Viridian City were ones of trepidation. He hadn't seen Fireball since he ran off, and it was starting to scare him. He panted nervously, looking in all directions through the dense crowds of people as best he could. The sounds of pedestrian footsteps marching every which way became deafening. Cars sped by him as he looked across streets. He called Fireball's name along the way, but got no response.

He didn't know where to look, finding himself lost and alone in a loud, busy, unfamiliar city. He was without his Trainer Card, and without his only friend. The sights and sounds overwhelmed him and made him dizzy. His heart sank at the thought of being separated from Fireball.

“Fireball!” he shouted as loudly as he could in panic. “Where are you?!”