Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ A Blond Ray of Sunshine ❯ Part 2: Sibling Rivalry ( Chapter 8 )
— Part 2: Sibling Rivalry —
Kanto's neighboring region of Johto thrives by continuously founding new settlements, like any prospering nation. New towns and cities allowed people from far and wide to settle down — to call Johto their home. Fern was one such town.
Existing for nearly four decades, Fern Town was quiet and quaint. A home of over seven thousand people, it was situated just north of Azalea Town. Its small neighborhoods surrounded by the lush, vibrant green forests made it an attractive prospect to those looking to live closer to nature. Wild Pokémon inhabiting the woods visited frequently, becoming acquainted and friendly with the townsfolk.
Most of the roads were simple dirt pathways. New stores and small buildings popped up constantly. The residents of Fern Town were happy and lived in warm, intimate communities. The town's school and large playground were situated at the center of the town. It was a loving gesture of the town's founders that their young people were literally their future.
Yet, one morning, that future was erased in an instant. Everything and everyone was gone.
The beautiful town stood with its immaculate charm no longer. In its place lay a massive crater of dirt from the aftermath of a devastating explosion. There was no forewarning. There were no survivors, except for a boy with jet black hair lying face-down and unconscious in the epicenter of the crater.
When rescue personnel and news reporters from the neighboring towns and cities came, it was heralded as an unexplainable freak occurrence. The military, led by General Logan, came to investigate. They took the boy to a nearby military hospital. Remarkably, he had not a single injury, but he remained in a brief coma.
As government and local officials sifted through the destruction to try to piece together what happened, they soon realized that what occurred was no ordinary explosion. They truly had no idea what happened to bring about the town's complete erasure. Some of the investigators had growing suspicions that the boy was not simply some miracle survivor. In some way they couldn't fully grasp, it was believed that he was the cause of the town's devastation.
Once the idea became the only plausible explanation left, the boy was no longer treated as a victim. He instead became the culprit of an unspeakably horrific act. One of the very same young people that Fern Town had bet their future on now appeared to be the reason for its demise.
In the middle of the night, government officials came to collect the boy who was still comatose. They had no place for him in an ordinary jail or a prison. Instead, they airlifted him to a military black site on a tiny island southeast of the Whirl Islands.
Under round-the-clock maximum security, the compound was the breeding ground for the government's more controversial, highly-classified experiments and tests. It was there that the boy was institutionalized in a high-tech confinement cell.
The story of the mysterious young survivor quickly faded from the public consciousness. His memory was forgotten, except to those in charge of the compound.
His memory was also forgotten to him as well.
The boy pounded his fists on the thick, acrylic glass of his cell. His frantic breaths and whimpers echoed around the small room. His hands searched the glass for some kind of handle on the cutout door, or an unlocking mechanism. His heart raced, brown eyes wrought with terror.
“Please, let me out!” he exclaimed, pounding at the glass again.
It was his second day after waking up to find himself locked up in the cell. He had no way of telling time, and those two days in solitary confinement felt like weeks. He had no human contact whatsoever. While he was already past the realization of his imprisonment, a million questions raced through his head. Foremost on his mind was why he was locked up, closely followed by why he couldn't recall anything that happened before getting here.
Having awoken a few days after the explosion, he had no idea who he was or how he ended up jailed. That, coupled with being locked away in a quiet, sterile cell where nobody paid any attention to him, became torturous.
He kicked at the glass with his bare feet, shouting and screaming in a panicked huff. He knew someone was around. Multiple cameras outside his cell were silently watching his every move.
He rest his back against the glass, grabbing fistfuls of his dark hair. He slid down onto his seat, huffing and sobbing quietly.
“Someone help me,” he pleaded. “Someone please help me …”
Some time later, he laid on the cold floor and stared up at the white ceiling. The walls were white. The floor was white. The bed, the toilet, the sink — all white. The bright, white lights cut into his vision. His surroundings became blinding and disorienting.
He tried to keep himself as calm as possible, and to keep some glimmer of hope in the face of such a dim, depressing scenario. This was undoubtedly some kind of misunderstanding. Someone had to be coming for him.
A familiar humming noise approached his cell. He gasped in excitement, hopping up to his knees and crawled over to a small cutout at the very bottom of the acrylic glass door. A small hovering robot, holding a tray of food, stopped in front of his cell door. It was the second time the robot had come by that day.
“Please, help!” he shouted, as the cutout automatically folded open. “Please! Who is it that brought me here? Why are they keeping me? Please bring me someone to talk to!”
The robot placed the tray on the floor. It slipped a new set of neatly folded white clothing through the slat, followed by the tray of food atop the clothes.
“Is there like a—a communicator on you or something?” he continued. “Is there anyone that can hear me right now?” The slat snapped shut. The robot turned and hovered away. “No, no, no! Wait! Please, please, come back! Please! Don't leave!” He clenched his eyes shut. “Don't leave …” he whispered.
He stared at his food, each item neatly placed in its own segment — a cold and detached way of feeding him. He sniffled and wept quietly, unwrapping a bar of oat and grains and chewed on it.
He was forced to use the sink whenever he wanted to bathe himself. The same robot came by at regularly scheduled times to give him clean towels and clothing. He held on to the hope that someone — anyone — would come and take him away from this nightmare. In the end, however, hope was not enough to keep his sanity.
On many occasions, he went berserk. He screamed as loudly as he could, punching and kicking every wall. The fits of rage did little to release his pent-up stress and fear. To pass the time, he laid on the floor and counted the number of tiny holes in each ceiling tile. He hummed and made up songs in his head. He thought up simple math problems and counted numbers. He spent many hours trying to remember his life on the outside.
Most of his time, however, was spent crying.
With no windows and no clock, it was impossible to know what time it was. He stayed in bed for long periods, sleeping anytime his panicked mind was able to wind down. The bed — stiff and uncomfortable at first — became his place of solitude.
On rare occasions, the muffled screams of people in agony echoed down the halls. He covered his ears each time. The sounds left him terrified and trembling, his mind racing with terrible thoughts. It only compounded his fear of the facility he was locked in, and what they had planned for him.
Within a luxurious office further inside the base, a stern man quietly sat behind a polished wooden executive desk. He wore a service uniform befitting a high-ranking military official. It was the man that had led the investigation: General Logan.
He was leaned back in his executive chair, his feet propped up on the desk. He swiveled a small amount of wine in a glass before putting it to his lips. The boy's cell was shown on a slew of monitors on the wall before him.
Another military official, thinner and wearing glasses, walked into the room. He gave a salute before shutting the door behind him. He laid a folder full of papers on the desk before looking over at the the monitors.
“Is it time, General?” he asked.
“No,” Logan replied. “He's not quite ready yet. We'll give him a week in here and see how he fares.”
At the same time, half a region away, Antoshi and Fireball ventured through the incredibly long and treacherous Victory Road. The cave road was dark, mazelike, and unforgiving. There was no food to forage, save for the occasional cave mushroom. It made Antoshi's pre-planning of stocking up on supplies even more significant. Wild Pokémon were out in force, frequently attacking the passing Trainers who disturbed their otherwise quiet home.
With the starting date of the event looming ever closer, throngs of Trainers were passing through Victory Road. It ended up being a pilgrimage amongst strangers, which was typical in the week leading up to the Indigo tournament. A number of those Trainers ended up backtracking, giving up on their endeavor in order to spare their Pokémon or themselves. Some used Pokémon that knew Dig or Teleport to escape, while others simply ran back the way they came.
Despite how terrifying the trek should have been, the duo made their way through Victory Road with eyes full of wonder and hearts ablaze. Antoshi and Fireball were able to get a few battles in with the other Trainers passing through. The battles helped in garnering them some more crucial experience before the tournament.
It took the duo four days to make it to the Indigo Plateau from Viridian City. Antoshi and Fireball experienced firsthand just how tough and dangerous it was to simply make it to the Plateau. Having done so was — and certainly felt like — an accomplishment in itself.
The final day of the Indigo League tournament sign-ups was coming to a close. Inside of the registration building, Antoshi and Fireball signed in with only a few hours to spare before the cutoff time. They were briefly stopped by a checkpoint inside the building, joining a queue of Trainers waiting to enter. Seeing and hearing the elation of fellow Trainers that successfully made it through Victory Road made them both grin.
The inside of the building was so plain, almost like an office waiting room. It had a large receptionist's desk, bare walls, and a small handful of bland chairs that contrasted with the colorful apparel and vibrant hairstyles of the Trainers and Pokémon waiting in a single file. Antoshi, meanwhile, was dressed in a more modest white polo shirt and black shorts.
For the most part, the room was incredibly quiet. Antoshi and Fireball weren't sure if the others were simply as nervous as they were. Each of Antoshi's eight badges were scanned with a special device by one of the several attendants. A microchip inside each of the badges verified they were legitimate via a chime from the device. Afterward, they were instructed to head through a corridor nearby.
The corridor was surprisingly long. Antoshi and Fireball walked with a handful of other Trainers towards a light at the end of it. They soon found themselves outside, under the clear sky and the glow of the midmorning sun. The pair gasped in awe, standing at one of the entryways of the Plateau's massive stadium. The large battlefield before them was walled off by spectator stands. Uptempo music played over the stadium's intercom system. They looked around with wide-eyed fascination before Antoshi turned to his friend with a huge grin.
“This is so awesome, isn't it?” Antoshi remarked. “Our very first tournament.”
"Heck yeah, it's awesome," Fireball replied, "and there's none bigger than the Indigo Plateau!"
The duo walked around to find a place to relax and wait until competition began. There were hundreds of Trainers and their Pokémon patiently waiting around all over the place. Many stood or reclined on the spacious field, while others took to waiting in the empty stands. More and more Trainers continued to file in behind the duo.
A chime came over the intercom system, followed by a woman's voice.
“The Indigo League Committee would like to remind all entrants that impromptu battling is strictly prohibited. Thank you for your continued patience. Registrations will soon be closing.”
Fireball's eyes darted every which way. He locked eyes with various Pokémon staring at him. There was an intense look in each of their eyes. Fireball bared his teeth, the flames on his back suddenly igniting. Antoshi looked over at him with surprise.
“You okay?” Antoshi asked, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder. Fireball gasped in surprise, extinguishing his flames.
"Sorry," Fireball replied, calming himself. "I keep feeling every Pokémon's urge to battle around here. There's so many strong Pokémon. It's really something else."
Antoshi took a closer look around at his peers, greeted by several cutting glares.
“Oh, I see what you mean now,” he said, surprised. “Why don't we find a place away from everyone else?”
"That's probably a good idea."
The duo headed up into the stands, finding a quiet area to sit down at. The much larger Fireball managed to fit himself into one of the person-sized seats. The view from their vantage point was incredible. They were able to take in the sheer magnitude Trainers and their Pokémon all bustling around, and how small they were in the comparison to the massive stadium. Both of them smiled, content yet restless.
“I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous,” Antoshi said, idly tapping his foot to the beat of the music being played.
"Same here! But, just imagine how amazing it'll be when we win. They'll show us on the news and in papers all around the world! 'Trainer With One Pokémon Becomes Champion.' We'll be super-famous, and I'll get all the food I can eat."
“That's impossible — there's never enough food for you to eat.”
"… Fair point!"
As the morning went on, the sun started bearing down hard. The clouds hid its glare in small reprieves. A handful of Trainers had packed umbrellas, or had Pokémon large enough to shade themselves in. A number of tournament volunteers walked around around with coolers hanging around their necks. They gave out bottles of cold water, sandwiches, and bags of Pokémon food.
“Thank you again for your continued patience, Trainers,” the woman on the intercom said. “Registration closes in ninety minutes.”
Antoshi capped his paper water bottle after taking a long sip.
“I've been sweating my butt off here,” he said. “but I don't care. We've waited for this for so long. It's kind of like relaxing after crossing the finish line, you know? Plus, the music's kind of nice.”
Fireball was busy enjoying the food he was given to reply.
“I see you're still keeping that Typhlosion outside its Poké Ball,” a young man walking up to them said.
They both turned their attention to him. Antoshi's eyes widened in surprise, standing up with a grin.
“Cory? I never imagined I'd ever see you again!”
“Same here,” Cory replied. Both boys laughed as they shared a handshake. Fireball smiled and waved.
“Wow, it's been a while,” Antoshi said, smiling. “It's so good to see you! You know, I've always wanted to apologize to you for the longest time now, about that incident back in the Cerulean Pokémon Center.”
“Oh, I apologize as well. I don't think you really need to apologize. If anything, it made me realize I need to step up my training a lot. A Quilava beat my star Mudkip so easily. Since then, I get a talking-to about it from Nurse Joy every time I visit a Pokémon Center.”
“Hey, so do we!” Antoshi replied. The two laughed again. Cory glanced at the belt on Antoshi's shorts.
“So, … where are the rest of your Pokémon?”
“You're looking at him,” Antoshi replied, with a casual point of the thumb to Fireball. Cory was flabbergasted.
“What? You never got any new Pokémon since the last time we last spoke?”
“I was originally going to, but … well, it turned out I didn't need to. It's just been Fireball and I all the way.”
“Wow,” Cory said, scratching his head. “I can definitely respect it — getting all the way here with one Pokémon is unbelievable. Honestly, my first thought was that you were completely nuts.”
“We get that a lot.”
“Aside from the 'weird name' thing, huh?” Antoshi laughed and nodded. “It's funny. I like that you refer to yourself as 'we.' Seems like Fireball never leaves your mind. The two of you really are best friends.”
The duo grinned to each other.
“Well, Antoshi, it was great to catch up with you. I'm looking forward to seeing you battle but, really, I'd like to face off against you myself.”
“Same here,” Antoshi replied with a nod.
The boys shook hands again before Cory took his leave.
“Thank you for waiting, Trainers,” the woman on the intercom said. “Registrations have now closed. Stand by for a tournament official to give you further information. Please remember to hang on to your litter and dispose of it in the proper recycling bins.”
Not long after, a man in white formal attire, complete with a bow tie, emerged from a tunnel at the top level of the stadium. A self-propelled aerial camera pointed at him from a few meters away, lighting up his image on the large display screens at the far ends of the stadium. He wore a headset with a tiny microphone on it.
“Greetings, everyone!” the man said, as his voice came through the sound system. “My name is Cedric, and I'll be the master of ceremonies for this year's Spring Indigo League Tournament! Some of you are returning challengers so you already know the drill. As for the new faces here, let me tell you how we'll be starting. In just a moment, our hard-working tournament volunteers are going to give you a coded, numbered pass on a lanyard to wear. Please be aware that you need to wear these on you at all times for identification. The number represents what bracket you'll be in for the first elimination round of the tournament. Usually, we try to pull in at least five-hundred and twelve Trainers, but this year we have a little less than that. So, a small handful of you are going to get a 'bye' in order to keep the bracket consistent. Don't take that as a free pass, however. You're not officially in the tournament until you're in the top one hundred twenty-eight!”
The volunteers started walking around the stadium field and stands, handing out passes to each Trainer.
“For those of you who don't get a 'bye',” he continued, “you'll have to win two battles to move on to the main tournament! Because of the sheer size of the bracket, we're restricting all Trainers to only using a maximum of two Pokémon! This 'sudden death' style elimination round will test your ability to work with a limited team. So, make those eight badges you earned count! Pick out your team's best two and give it your all!”
“This is extremely lucky for us,” Antoshi said. “Now we just have to win a couple of two-on-one battles. You know all of the Trainers here probably have a full roster of six.”
Fireball nodded. "I can't wait to get started," he said, shifting eagerly in his seat.
“Now, I'm sure some of you can't wait to get started — and you won't have to! The preliminary rounds will commence immediately once everyone has been assigned their numbers.”
"I think he read my mind," Fireball remarked, awe-struck.
“I think he read everyone's mind,” Antoshi replied with a smirk.
“Now,” Cedric said, “if everyone on the stadium floor would kindly make your way up into the stands in an orderly fashion, we can move on to the next phase.”
Everyone on the field did as instructed. Trainers recalled their larger Pokémon into their Poké Balls while others kept their smaller ones with them. The arena floor quickly emptied out. Once clear, the hum and whir of motors and gears began to rumble through the stadium.
Antoshi, Fireball, and most in attendance looked on in astonishment. The massive floor slowly descended several dozen meters before coming to a halt. It rotated itself slowly before rising back up at the same pace and locking in its original position. Instead of one large battlefield, the floor was now scored into four smaller fields, each of them numbered from one to four.
“I'm sure all of you in attendance recognize these stadium markings as the same size you've seen in Gyms,” Cedric said. “That's because they are! The Indigo Plateau's stadium is large enough to hold four simultaneous battles at once. This is how we're going to be zipping right along into tomorrow's main event!”
One of the stadium volunteers walked over to Antoshi and handed him a lanyard. He looked at his assigned number, 147, before putting it around his neck as instructed.
The stadium screens displayed four different tournament brackets comprised of one hundred twenty-eight participants each. Every Trainer was represented only as a number on screen, leaving all Trainers unaware of their opponent beforehand.
“If you direct your attention to the screens,” Cedric said, pointing to one of them, “you'll find your number and the bracket that it's assigned to. The bracket numbers — one, two, three, and four — are all clearly marked on the stadium floor. Once your number is called, you'll make your way to the corresponding battling area for your bracket. That's it for the rules! The matches will start commencing in just a few moments from now, so get ready! Good luck, Trainers!”
Cedric took his leave and the music resumed playing. The stadium volunteers continued to hand out numbers. Despite the upbeat music, the air around the stadium suddenly became much more quiet and tense. It was time for everyone to get serious. Trainers were staring at their assigned numbers, others trying to look around and see what numbers those nearby had.
“Oh, man,” Antoshi remarked with a sharp huff. “I'm super nervous now.” He rubbed his hands together, wiping his sweaty palms dry, his leg shaking up and down uncontrollably.
"I can tell," Fireball replied, watching his friend.
“It's taken us so long to get to this point. We put in so much work, and we've been anticipating this moment ever since getting our first badge. This is what we've worked for. Feels like everything's moving so fast now.”
Fireball placed a reassuring paw on his friend's shoulder.
"We've got this, remember?" Fireball boisterously said. "We're super strong — and super smart! Nothing's going to hold us back now."
Antoshi took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “You're right. … Thanks for the assist. I can't let my emotions get to me now.”
"No sweat. I trust in you, buddy."
The preliminaries kicked off with no delay. With four matches occurring simultaneously, there was a lot happening for the spectating Trainers to take in. They watched and cheered, some even taking note of potential competitors and their strategies.
Antoshi and Fireball watched anxiously. Many fully evolved and incredibly rare Pokémon appeared on the battlefields. Most of the spectators were in collective awe when a Latios, a Legendary Pokémon, entered the field. Its appearance got a resounding reaction not unlike a celebrity. Antoshi grinned and stood up, having never seen one in person before.
The competition was fierce, as expected. Everyone fought their hardest for the chance to become Champion, and to have their names etched into history. One by one, Trainers were eliminated from the competition. It was intimidating for them to see the numbers starting to thin out. By the time it was Antoshi and Fireball's turn, almost three dozen of their fellow hopefuls were already out.
“Numbers 146 and 147,” the woman over the loudspeakers said, “head to field number four.”
The two friends looked at each other and gave a confident nod, ready to test their mettle. Antoshi huffed sharply, his heart racing as they made their way down onto the battlefield. He rubbed the sweat from his palms again, his legs feeling surprisingly heavy while walking down the stairs.
They took their place on the opposite end of the field from a young girl with short, purple hair. Fireball prepared himself for battle, igniting the flames on his upper back. The loud sounds and rumblings of the other battles happening nearby were distracting. It was an unfamiliar setting for the pair.
“Field number four — begin your match!”
“Nice Typhlosion!” the girl exclaimed as she threw out a Poké Ball. “Hope it's not afraid of the water!”
From the opening ball came a burst of light that solidified into a long, blue, terrifying sea serpent — Gyarados. A sudden explosion erupted on the battlefield near them. Both Antoshi and Fireball looked over at it in surprise.
“Don't take your eyes off the prize, kid!” she said with a smirk. “Tiny — use Hydro Pump!”
The massive serpent fired a large, highly pressurized blast of water from its gaping maw at Fireball.
“Fireball, dodge!” Antoshi shouted.
Fireball panicked and leapt to the side. He took a glancing blow from the attack to his lower body. The force caused him to spiral through the air, but managed to land on his feet before spinning around to a halt.
"… That was pretty cool," Fireball remarked, pleasantly surprised.
“You okay?” Antoshi asked in concern.
Fireball nodded firmly to him. Antoshi nodded back, exhaling sharply, trying to block out the distractions all around him and focus on their battle.
“Fireball, use Thunder Punch!”
The girl was taken aback upon realizing the Typhlosion had an Electric-type move in his repertoire. Fireball's fist sparked and crackled with bright, yellowish bolts of electricity. He darted toward the Gyarados, giving a shout and leapt up high, nailing the water beast in the face with a hard right hook.
The serpent shouted in pain as it fell to the ground. Fireball landed and headed back to Antoshi's side. Gyarados strained to get up, visibly worn down from the potent attack. It shook its head, declaring its intent to stay in the fight with an indignant roar. The opposing Trainer smiled at her Pokémon.
“Attaboy, Tiny!” she said. “Another Hydro Pump! Let's make it count!”
“Same plan as before, Fireball!” Antoshi said. “Keep moving!”
Fireball took off running while his opponent took aim at him. With a shout, Gyarados spat up another powerful jet of water. Fireball was suddenly swept away by it. He gargled in surprise, flailing to the ground and rolling to a stop near Antoshi.
“Oh, no!” Antoshi cried out.
“Yeah! Nice shot!” she exclaimed.
Fireball growled as he got back to his feet. The fires on his back had dwindled some. As he shook the water from his fur, those flames exploded back to life.
"Gonna take more than that to keep me down," Fireball said.
Antoshi chuckled softly, continuously impressed by Fireball's confidence.
“Thunder Punch — again!”
Fireball bared his teeth, summoning forth the same electricity into his paw. Just as before, he rushed the Gyarados and leapt up high.
“Dodge it, Tiny!”
Gyarados managed to slither out of the way of Fireball's swing. Fireball quickly spun around, swung again, and nailed the serpent on the back of its head. Gyarados roared in pain, the electricity visibly surging through its entire frame. It fell over, unconscious.
The girl gasped in shock.
“No way!” she exclaimed, her jaw hanging agape.
Fireball went back to his side of the field. He and his friend confidently nodded to each other. The girl humphed as she recalled her Gyarados into the confines of its ball.
“Fine, then. I guess I'll have to use my ace! Go, Flora!”
She threw out another ball. From it, emerged a large yet stumpy reptilian quadruped with a massive blooming flower on its back. Across its forehead, it wore a necklace with a strange gem like a cat's eye marble hanging from it.
Fireball and Antoshi looked to each other in surprise — a Grass-type opponent like Venusaur was fortunate for them. Antoshi found it strange, however. Why would a Trainer competent enough to make it to the Indigo Plateau completely disregard something as basic as Type advantage?
“Oh, but wait!” the girl added. “There's more!”
And there was his answer. She pulled the back the long sleeve of her shirt to reveal a bracelet with a smaller gem, similar to the one Venusaur wore, set into it. She ran her fingers across it, causing both gems to glow brightly.
“Flora — Mega Evolve!” she exclaimed.
The duo watched in amazement as the gems fired out bolts of magical energy that sought each other out and connected. Once combined, Venusaur gave out a roar and began to glow as if evolving.
Many of the other Trainers watching from the stands were fully engaged in the spectacle. Once the bright light faded, Venusaur had grown larger and heavier with a pink flower on its forehead and dark green markings between its eyes.
“Oh, … wow,” Antoshi remarked, nervously.
It was the first time they had seen a real Mega Evolution up close. The stones needed for Trainer and Pokémon were both exceedingly rare and very expensive.
Lost in their battle trance, Antoshi and Fireball's eyes were wide with intensity — their excitement rising from the unique challenge before them. They were focused solely on their battle and no longer distracted by the nearby competitors.
“Flora, Sludge Bomb!”
The lush beast reared back and opened its maw with a deep, groaning roar. It spat out a large, brown gob of toxic muck that shot in an arc toward Fireball, exploding on contact. Fireball groaned, stumbling back from the impact and turning away to wipe the sludge off his face.
"This is so gross," Fireball remarked, shuddering. "Why do we keep getting opponents with poison attacks? I'll take getting smashed over the head with a boulder over this any day."
Antoshi covered his nose from the horrible-smelling poison, staring at their opposition.
‘If what I remember about Mega Evolution is correct,’ he thought, ‘Venusaur's durability is increased as well. I could go with Fire Blast, but it's slower and harder to land. Flamethrower is way more reliable, but it'll take more hits to wear Mega Venusaur down. I'd better play this one on the safe side. We can't afford to make any mistakes now.’
“Fireball, use Flamethrower!”
Fireball shook himself to remove any more sludge he could. He took aim at his opponent, launching a raging stream of fire from his mouth. The heat of his flames were fueled by the disgust of Mega Venusaur's previous attack.
“Dodge it!” the girl commanded.
In a flash, Mega Venusaur darted to the side to avoid Fireball's attack. Antoshi was shocked at how deceptively fast the heavy, stubby monster was.
“Follow it!” Antoshi said. “Keep pouring it on!”
Fireball didn't let up on his attack, aiming the fire as best he could at his moving target. He could only keep a single Flamethrower going for as long as his lungs held a breath. The distance between them forced him to predict and try to lead his opponent's movements.
Mega Venusaur neared the stadium wall. Running out of room to dodge, it leapt back over the pillar of flame. Fireball responded by pulling up, managing to score a hit just before he ran out of air. Mega Venusaur roared in pain, crashing back down to the ground with some of its petals aflame.
Fireball coughed up puffs of smoke while trying to catch his breath.
“You okay, Fireball?” Antoshi asked.
"Feeling a little lightheaded after that one," Fireball replied in a raspy voice, "but I'm good."
Mega Venusaur groaned, getting back to its feet. It shook itself off, cinders falling from its body. Antoshi was flabbergasted that it got up again so quickly.
“Okay, that Mega Venusaur looks in way better shape than I would've hoped,” he remarked.
The girl laughed. “That's thanks to its ability: Thick Fat! Mega Venusaur takes half as much damage from Fire-type attacks!”
“I guess we'll just have to hit twice as hard! Fireball, get up close and then use Flamethrower!”
Both Fireball and the girl were left confused as to what Antoshi was planning. Never one to doubt Antoshi's strategies, Fireball shrugged before he took off running on all fours.
“Flora, give it another Sludge Bomb!”
“Dodge it, Fireball!” Antoshi shouted.
Fireball kept himself as difficult to aim at as possible, weaving back and forth while closing the gap between them. Mega Venusaur roared again before discharging another gob of revolting poison. The arcing attack narrowly missed Fireball, going right over his head.
The girl gasped as Fireball appeared before her Pokémon. Fireball opened his maw wide, drenching the Grass-type in a direct stream of flames. Mega Venusaur roared in agony, taking the full brunt of the attack. Fireball headed back to his friend. Mega Venusaur slowly shook itself off, appearing far more charred and worn down than before.
‘That was a risky plan, and it paid off,’ the girl thought as she glared bitterly at the opposing duo. ‘Sludge Bomb is a single, arcing shot. He was betting on me to use it again, and for Flora's aim to be less accurate if his Typhlosion got in close.’ She glanced over at her Mega Venusaur, who was visibly worn down after the last attack. ‘Now Flora's seriously hurt, even with its Thick Fat. Another one of those and we're done for. …’
“Time to finish this!” she said. “Flora, use Frenzy Plant!”
Venusaur's body glowed with an intensifying shade of green. Antoshi was taken aback, unfamiliar with the move.
“Frenzy Plant?” Antoshi wondered aloud. Unsure of what to expect, his best bet was to play it safe until he and Fireball could make a counter-attack. “Fireball, use Defense Curl!”
Fireball curled into a ball just before Venusaur stomped the ground hard. Massive, spiked roots violently erupted out of the ground, creating a trail that led toward Fireball. Once they reached the Typhlosion, he was struck hard and flung high into the air with incredible force.
Initially worried for his friend's well-being, Antoshi quickly realized that Fireball had been thrown at an angle — one that brought him closer to their opponents.
“Now, Fireball!” he shouted. “Flamethrower!”
Fireball clenched his teeth. Though injured from the powerful attack, he quickly realized what Antoshi did. Even while in pain and constantly rolling through the air, he kept track of Mega Venusaur's position and waited for just the right moment. He opened his maw and gave an intense roar. The flames on his back flared wildly as he let out a Flamethrower so intense that it stopped his momentum and propelled him backwards.
The attack charged forth with blazing speed. The weakened Mega Venusaur could not dodge as it did previously. Frenzy Plant had already rendered Mega Venusaur briefly exhausted and unable to move. Drenched in fire, it roared in agony, toppling over backwards. Its Trainer shielded her eyes from the powerful flames. Once the attack finished, she gasped at how badly burned her fainted Mega Venusaur was.
With Mega Venusaur unconscious, their spirit link was broken. In a flash of light, it returned to its standard form as a Venusaur.
Fireball landed on his hind feet near Antoshi. He suddenly groaned in pain and fell to a knee. He held his ribs, looking at his paw afterward to find blood.
“Fireball?” Antoshi asked with concern as he headed to his friend's side.
"Looks like one of those big thorns got me," Fireball remarked, shooting Antoshi a reassuring grin.
Antoshi smiled and nodded. He quickly took off his backpack and rummaged through it.
“Trainer 147 wins,” the woman on the loudspeaker said.
The opposing Trainer sighed in dismay, recalling her Venusaur into its Poké Ball.
“Good luck,” she said, before solemnly walking away.
As Antoshi tended to Fireball's wounds with a spray medicine, they briefly looked over at her. Neither of them could fathom just how disappointed she was, but it was clear she put as much effort as they did into getting to the tournament. They remained mindful that they'd ended the dreams of a fellow Trainer and her Pokémon. It gave them perspective as to just how quickly and easily their dream could end, too.