Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ A Blond Ray of Sunshine ❯ Chapter 19
Just as the blast was about to hit them, Antoshi appeared to intercept it. He swatted the dark energy away, sending it flying off and exploding harmlessly in the air. Serenity was pleasantly surprised at his speed. Fireball slowly opened his eyes, curious as to what happened. He gasped in shock, seeing his friend standing tall before them.
Latoshi was fuming with rage. ‘He seriously closed the gap between him and his friends before my shot hit them!?’
“My friends are not a weakness, Latoshi!” Antoshi said. “They're my strength!”
Latoshi huffed, incensed by the remark. “Oh, you sound like such a walking cliche, you little boy scout!” His eyes widened as Antoshi marched toward him, calmly. The sheer amount of pressure Antoshi's energy was giving off, and the sense of righteous fury that came with it, was overwhelming. It was a level of power he simply could not match. Latoshi's spirit was already beaten back.
“You threatened my life,” Antoshi said, his voice returned to normal and filled with confidence, “the lives of my friends and those of my family. You tried to kill Fireball. You tried to kill me. Now, you're going to have to face the consequences.”
Trembling, Latoshi scoffed in amusement. “Consequences?” he replied. “I'd love to see what kind of c—!” Before he could even finish, Antoshi shot toward him and punched his cheek. At the point of impact, however, a tiny ember of Latoshi's black aura curiously manifested itself inside Antoshi's aura.
"Wow," Fireball remarked, awe-struck. "Antoshi's fast." Serenity's brow flexed slightly, showing a minute amount of concern.
Antoshi yelled in rage as he gave Latoshi the same barrage of punches as he'd received earlier — multiplied tenfold. Thousands of punches rattled the sable-haired boy around like a rag doll.
‘What the hell is happening?’ Latoshi thought, fading in and out of consciousness. ‘He shouldn't … be … this strong!’
Antoshi struck Latoshi hard enough to spike him into the ground. Latoshi shouted in agony, as an eruption of sand billowed up around him, leaving him in a crater. The crater was further exacerbated when Antoshi flew into the air and fired off a hail of energy blasts at him.
‘This pain,’ Latoshi thought, the energy burning at his flesh, tearing at his clothes, ‘how could I be in so much pain? …’
Antoshi's offensive came to a sudden halt. He landed on his feet, catching his breath for a moment. Having gotten to their feet again, Fireball and Serenity surveyed the aftermath. Fireball's previous wounds had been completely healed.
'Is … he dead?' Fireball wondered, concerned.
Latoshi coughed, weakly propping himself up with his forearms. Antoshi walked up to him, reached down, and grabbed him by the throat. The sable-haired boy struggled and choked, kicking and swinging at him. A few hits landed, but they were in vain. Firmly on a whole new level of power, Latoshi's strikes no longer did any damage to him. Antoshi gave him a deathly serious glare.
“You were right, Latoshi,” he said. “It really is nice to see your enemy in such a pathetic state. Now, I get to end your corrupt ways for good.” Latoshi spat at him. Antoshi responded by punching him in the face hard enough to send him a short distance away. He marched after him to continue his offense.
Fireball looked on, incredulous. 'I can't believe it,' he thought. 'Antoshi, my best friend. All this time you've had this inside of you. This power, this skill, … this rage. I've never seen you like this before…'
‘This is Lazarus' doing,’ Serenity thought, biting her lip. ‘Its evil influence is starting to corrupt Antoshi as well. I can only pray Antoshi realizes that before it's too late.’
Latoshi grunted in frustration, shaking, trying to will himself to get up once more. As he looked at Antoshi stalking him again, he abruptly recalled memories of the two of them and Fireball taking a stroll around Goldenrod City together.
‘What … the hell are these memories that keep popping up?’ he thought. ‘Are they from … before I was in that prison? No, … they're more recent than that. But, why do I know when they happened?’
'You stupid child!' Lazarus shouted at him. 'Focus! Harness your anger! Unleash the rage that burns inside of you!'
“I … I can't,” Latoshi whispered in response.
'Worthless little weakling! I have to do everything for you!'
As Antoshi neared, he charged up a blast of energy into the palm of his hand. Before he could strike, however, he was suddenly overcome by a wave of rotten, dark spirit pressure that stumbled him back — just like what he had done to Latoshi earlier. Antoshi and the others watched curiously as Latoshi got to his feet, hanging his head down. He stretched his arms out, rotating and cracking his joints as though he'd awaken from a long slumber. He inhaled deeply, tilting his head back to the sky, letting out a long, hissing exhale. The boy came off as unnaturally relaxed and spry for someone who'd just taken a violent beating.
“Now I am the one in control,” Latoshi said. Lazarus' voice had audibly fused with the boy's. Their voices were combined as he chuckled, staring Antoshi down. His eyes were fully consumed by the dark energy of the parasitic spirit within him.
“Just what is that supposed to mean?” Antoshi responded, flatly, with an apathetic expression.
“I found it interesting that you would say you are going to finish me,” he said, calmly, “when you have not seen the extent of my power yet.”
Antoshi and the others quickly picked up on Lazarus' method of speaking, and how it differed from Latoshi's. Yet, Antoshi trilled his lips, fully consumed in his own hubris. “I've seen the 'extent' of your power, and how you never shut up about how great you are. You won't beat me this time, Latoshi. I can still outwit you, no matter what you try.” Suddenly, Latoshi was in front of him, throwing a punch that ended up being just barely blocked by Antoshi's hands. The impact caused a brief, but noticeable, shock wave.
Latoshi grinned at him, his eyelids hanging low. Antoshi grunted, holding Latoshi at bay, as the sable-haired boy continued to press his fist into him with great force. He was baffled by his adversary's sudden boost in speed.
“It appears you were not expecting that,” Latoshi remarked. “Your body defended out of sheer instinct. So much for being able to outwit me.”
Antoshi's hands glowed red as he summoned his energy to his hands again. Latoshi cooed in surprise, smirking, as he responded in kind. They fired their attacks simultaneously. Their dueling Ki exploded, leaving a cloud of smoke, staggering Antoshi back. Latoshi burst through the smoke, rearing a fist back. Antoshi went to counterattack, but stopped abruptly. His eyes went wide, sensing his opponent's energy elsewhere. He instead jumped high, avoiding a straight kick by Latoshi from behind. The initial image of Latoshi's body swiftly faded away.
Although believing he was out of harm's way, Antoshi was suddenly caught by a punch to the cheek from above.
‘How?!’ Antoshi thought, mid-strike. ‘Out of nowhere, he's become faster than I can follow!’
Antoshi impacted and rolled uncontrollably across the sand, his body getting covered in it. Latoshi flew after him, while Antoshi regained control of his momentum. He bounced up on his hands, springing high into the air, narrowly avoiding a hard punch from Latoshi. The sable-haired boy's strike hit the ground, the impact knocking up a burst of sand. Latoshi continued to follow him, while moving so fast it was as though he were disappearing and reappearing. The same, twisted grin remained omnipresent on the sable-haired boy's face.
‘He's not going to attack from the front,’ Antoshi thought, panting heavily, keeping his attention away from Latoshi's position. ‘He's using his speed again to—’ Much to Antoshi's shock, however, Latoshi did strike him from the front.
While Antoshi was dazed and reeling, Latoshi grabbed the collar of his shirt. He spun Antoshi around, violently, before sending him crashing hard into the sand again. Latoshi kept on him, giving the blond-haired boy no quarter. He appeared before Antoshi, landing slow, yet powerful, punches to Antoshi's face. Each thunderous strike caused sand to billow in all directions. He cackled wildly, as Antoshi cried out in pain.
“It does not look like you are outwitting me at the moment,” Latoshi remarked. “You seem to be too busy thinking over your strategy. Nevertheless, I have faith that you will come up with something good eventually!”
‘What's happened?’ Antoshi thought, his face being bloodied. ‘It's like his whole personality and his fighting style completely changed. I … can't read his movements the same as I did before!’
‘Lazarus has shown itself,’ Serenity thought, clenching a trembling fist. ‘It's managed to absorb enough energy to manifest itself, taking control of Latoshi's body. With its host's body, it's gained the upper hand against Antoshi. Latoshi wasn't strong enough before to allow Lazarus to possess him. Lazarus must have really pushed Latoshi to his limits in order to store up this much Ki in such a short amount of time.’
Latoshi pulled Antoshi's exhausted body up, by his shirt collar once again. Antoshi grunted, weakly, scowling at his grinning adversary.
“How sad,” he remarked. “You almost had me. You had all the tools and all the power to do it, but, you still could not finish the job when you had the chance — just like Latoshi. I will admit, your sudden bursts of power had me worried for a while. Regardless, it would appear I made the right choice when I chose Latoshi as my vessel.” He broke out into a cackling laugh. Antoshi strained, trying to wrap his head around what Latoshi just said. With a shout, Latoshi suddenly flung him into the air. “Now then, I think I shall use Latoshi's new trick to its full effectiveness. What was it called again? Ah, yes. Shooting Stars!”
He shouted again, creating the same mass of Ki orbs from his aura. Laughing wildly, he took aim at Antoshi while bringing his hands forward. Diminished, and unable to dodge like before, Antoshi screamed as the orbs exploded violently on contact with him. The ones that didn't make direct contact ended up bursting around him, adding to the damage with powerful shock waves. His protective aura flickered, weakly, leaving him vulnerable to the attacks. The dark energy burned him and tore at his clothes, which quickly became tattered like Latoshi's. His adversary continued laughing, watching as Antoshi fell along the shoreline.
"Antoshi, no!!" Fireball exclaimed. Latoshi turned his head, grinning proudly at Fireball. The Typhlosion bared his teeth, trembling, forcing himself to remain on the sidelines after what happened last time he tried to get involved.
Latoshi's attention shifted to Serenity. A bitter expression suddenly came across his face, before he looked away.
‘Yes, I'm well aware that you remember me, Lazarus,’ Serenity thought.
Antoshi strained, weakly lifting himself onto his hands and knees. His body was terribly bloodied. He coughed up some of the wet sand that was also stuck to his face.
“Ah, so there is still some life in you,” Latoshi said. “Well, not for much longer. I think I shall stomp out those last, pesky, flickering embers now.” He leapt high, aiming at Antoshi's head with the heel of his shoe as he came back down. “Quite literally!” he added.
Without looking, Antoshi suddenly caught his adversary's foot. Everyone else was left stunned. He looked up at Latoshi, glaring menacingly.
“I may be down,” Antoshi said, his trembling hand glowing bright red, “but I sure as hell am not out!”
Latoshi jerked his foot away in a panic, just before Antoshi fired off his Ki. The energy blast zipped past, within inches of his face, and spiraled harmlessly into the air.
‘What the hell?’ Lazarus thought. ‘That attack had undeniable vigor behind it. How? Why … can he not just give up and die?!’
The two opponents ascended into the air again. They were nearing their limits; sweating profusely, breathing hard, their shirts torn and tattered. Yet, they fought on, going after each other with a barrage of kicks and punches that was shockingly reminiscent of earlier on.
'This is crazy!' Fireball thought. 'The two of them are … going at it just like before! It's like they hit the 'reset' button on their fight!'
At that moment, Latoshi awoke with a gasp, as though he'd been starved for air. He found himself floating in an endless void of darkness, helplessly drifting. His whole body felt paralyzed, unable to move.
‘Where am I?’ he thought. ‘My head feels like … there's a huge cloud around it. I can't think clearly. I can't … keep myself … awake. Am I dreaming? Am I … dead?’
Before him, he stared at the images of the ongoing fight with Antoshi through his own eyes, as if they were television screens in the distance. They were the same eyes that were currently under Lazarus' control.
‘I'm … fighting? I can feel my arms and legs burning — my Ki is surging! But, … I'm just here in the middle of nowhere. What is going on? Who is … controlling my body?’ He thought it over for a moment, blankly staring at the fight. ‘La— … zarus? Is … Lazarus controlling me? How can that be?’ Latoshi's consciousness began to stir. ‘No. I don't want … to be controlled. Lazarus can't control me. Give me back my body, Lazarus. Give back my body!’
Latoshi's body abruptly seized up. He grunted with effort, struggling to move. ‘Damn!’ Lazarus thought. ‘The boy is starting to regain consciousness. I have burned through too much of this child's energy already! I cannot hope to fight and keep Latoshi's spirit restrained at the same time! I'm not ready to go back yet! Damn it all!!’
Antoshi studied him, curiously, for a moment before taking advantage. He struck the restrained Latoshi with a hard shot to the face, propelling him backward. Latoshi continued to struggle, while falling rapidly.
“I am not done with you!” Latoshi screamed.
“Oh, you're done, all right!” Antoshi replied, following him to the ground.
Latoshi found enough strength in time to land on his feet. He gasped, suddenly finding himself face-to-face with his opponent. Antoshi immediately laid into him with another blistering barrage of punches to his head, arms, and torso. Latoshi was thrashed around helplessly from the relentless assault, blood gushing from his mouth.
Despite the beating, Latoshi grinned, weakly. ‘Very well, then,’ Lazarus thought. ‘If that is the case, then my protégé can endure this pain in my stead. After all, I have a new apprentice who is about ready to join me…’
Latoshi gasped again, his eyes suddenly returning to normal. The boy was in full control of his body once more, regaining consciousness in the midst of Antoshi's brutal assault. ‘What—what the hell is going on?!’ Latoshi thought, panicked, as he was beaten, relentlessly. Fireball and Serenity looked on with concern.
'That's enough, Antoshi,' Fireball thought. 'He's finished! Please stop!'
Antoshi knocked him upward before spinning around and kicking his sternum hard. Latoshi groaned, sliding to a long halt on his shoulder blades before coming to a rest, sprawled out on the ground.
Their fight was finally over.
Fireball and Serenity followed at a distance, while Antoshi stalked his fallen foe. The blond-haired boy had an intense look in his glowing eyes. He grabbed Latoshi by the neck, lifting his limp body up high enough to face him. Latoshi's eyes opened, slowly.
“All that bragging,” Antoshi remarked. “All that confidence, all that cockiness — it looks like you left it scattered along the beach. What a shame, huh? What do you have to say now?”
Latoshi offered no words, only pained groans, and shallow breaths. Antoshi scowled in rage.
'Yes~,' the hiss of Lazarus' voice suddenly became clear to Antoshi. 'You have defeated your nemesis. Bathe in the glory of victory. Revel in your newfound power and might. He will never be able to best you, Antoshi.'
“I am better than you,” he said to Latoshi, in response to Lazarus' remarks. His irises began to darken, shifting from their trademark red into a lusterless black. “There's no doubt now. You are insignificant to me.”
'What has he ever done for you? Caused you pain?'
“You put me through so much pain since we met, Latoshi.”
“I'll never forget the misery you caused Fireball and I.”
“I've been living in torture, fearing the moment I had to see your face again.”
'Threats against your family, your loved ones.'
“Threatening everyone I hold dear to me is inexcusable.”
'You have the power to make it all stop.'
He aimed an open hand at Latoshi's head. “The time has come for you to pay for everything you've done, Latoshi. I've been waiting for this moment: the moment I can finally put an end to this horror.” Antoshi's flickering aura slowly became corrupted with the blackness of Lazarus' spirit. Tendrils of black energy seeped their way into Antoshi's spirit, the parasite beginning to take its hold over him. “I'll make you pay, Latoshi. I'll make you eat all your arrogant words. You're the pathetic one now … and you will never hurt me ever again!” He charged an amount of burning Ki into his hand that was much larger than any of his previous attacks. “I'm going to make sure of it. …”
Serenity looked on, with a serious gaze. ‘Antoshi,’ she thought. ‘this moment is going to define the kind of person you are for the rest of your life…’
'Very good,' Lazarus continued. 'Hold on to that anger. Let it ignite your spirit. You hate Latoshi — you want him to stop. All you have to do is burn him away to ashes. Free me from this weakling, Antoshi. You are so much stronger than he is. And you can still be so much more. …'
"Antoshi, no!" Fireball shouted, fearfully. "Don't do it! Please!" Antoshi gasped, turning his attention to his best friend.
“Fire … ball?” he uttered, lost in a trance. He saw Serenity standing by Fireball. Her earlier plea suddenly replayed in his mind.
‘Promise me that you'll help Latoshi. He desperately needs help, and I believe that you're the only person who can. Would you be willing to do that?’
‘But … how?’ he recalled asking her. ‘How can I help him?’
‘I know you'll find the best solution if you look into your heart. … When the time comes — act.’
He turned to Latoshi once again, whose eyes were welled up with tears. The sorrow and fear in his eyes were utterly apparent. “I'm … sor— … sorry …” the sable-haired boy spoke in a raspy voice.
Antoshi was horrified with himself. He immediately let go of Latoshi, rescinding the energy in his hand back into his aura. Latoshi stumbled back, on trembling legs. Tears fell from Antoshi's eyes as the two boys stared at each other in shock. He panted, fearfully, looking down at his bloodied hands.
‘What … have I done?’ Antoshi thought. ‘I almost … I almost killed him! I'm not like this, I … I shouldn't be this way. This isn't what I promised Serenity. I was supposed to help him, not to …’
As Antoshi snapped out of his vengeful trance, regaining conscious thought, his eyes returned to normal. The fragments of Lazarus' spirit that had infested his aura slowly burned away. He fell to his knees, trembling and sniffling.
Despite his own injuries, Latoshi gazed upon him with concern. “An—Antoshi,” he spoke, grabbing the mournful boy's attention. “I … I really am—”
Latoshi's remarks were interrupted when he grabbed his head, shouting in agony. Lazarus' ear-splitting ringing noise had returned to punish him. The others looked on in confusion, as Latoshi stumbled back.
'Leave now!' Lazarus commanded. 'There is nothing more for you here! Leave!!'
Latoshi immediately did as he was told. He took off into the night sky, while continuing to hold his head and groan in pain.
“Latoshi!!” Antoshi shouted after him. Serenity appeared beside him, grabbing his shoulder in the instant the boy attempted to follow.
“Stop,” she said. “There's nothing more you can do now.”
Fireball was stunned. He looked to his side, realizing Serenity had dashed over there faster than he could think. He jogged over to the two.
Antoshi's shoulders slumped over. He gazed at the ground, defeated. “… I heard him,” he remarked.
“Lazarus?” Serenity asked. Antoshi nodded.
“His voice was so clear to me, like he was inside my head, … just like Latoshi told me. It was such a … hypnotic and soothing voice. He was telling me everything I wanted to hear, feeding all of my negative feelings.” Antoshi looked to the sky, where Latoshi had fled to. “I finally understand now. I understand what Latoshi is going through. I know … how he truly feels. I saw everything in his eyes for just that brief moment. He's been pleading for help this entire time. The honesty in his eyes … it reminded me of his eyes when we first met. That short time we spent that morning when we were actually happy together.” Serenity smiled, letting her hand fall away. “… I almost killed him, Serenity. Lazarus' influence was so powerful that I didn't feel any different at all. I just felt all of my anger boiling over. I … forgot about the promise I made to you. I … I almost did something that I would have regretted for the rest of my life.”
“It's all right,” Serenity reassured him. “That's what Lazarus does. It amplifies your emotions and makes it impossible for you to think clearly. It's exactly what Latoshi's had to deal with all this time. For you, hearing Fireball's voice broke through that barrier and you came to your senses. Latoshi doesn't have anyone like that to help him.”
“We have to save him,” Antoshi said, his aura flaring back to life. “I have to go find him. I—I have to make this right. I have to help him.”
“You've done all you can,” she told him. He looked at her in confusion, his aura receding. “You defeated him in battle, you made him reveal his true emotions. After this, he'll certainly make him question how effective Lazarus truly is. You planted the seed of doubt in him, and so your job is done. Now, it's on Latoshi to take the next step. He has to deal with on his own from here on out. Only he can remove Lazarus' influence. It has to be his decision. The problem is, Lazarus has the ability to block the memories of its host, which keeps its host loyal.”
Antoshi was left stunned for a moment, his eyes going wide. “So, … that's why he seemed so different when I first spoke to him earlier. Lazarus is keeping his memories from him. … That's why Latoshi doesn't remember anything about his past!”
Serenity nodded, gently. “Now you understand the method to Lazarus' influence.”
“All this time, … I've been so angry and so bitter towards him. I thought he was the one I should focus my hatred at. I never knew what he was enduring. Every word of anguish he's spoken about other people — how evil human hearts can be, how cruel people are, … he meant every bit of it because of how hurt he's been all along. I can't believe I … didn't figure that out myself until now.” He turned to Serenity, his eyes full of regret. “You were right, Serenity. He does need my help, more than I ever realized.” Serenity closed her eyes, nodding to him again.
Antoshi stood in reflection for a moment. Afterward, he sighed heavily, closed his eyes, and began sulking away. Fireball and Serenity looked on in bewilderment.
"You still won, Antoshi!" Fireball said. "You saved who knows how many peoples' lives from that evil creep controlling Latoshi."
“That was no victory, Fireball,” Antoshi replied, dismayed. “Not this time. … Not when my heart feels this empty.”
“Antoshi, wait,” Serenity spoke up. “Let me use my powers. I can heal you again in no time.”
“No, Serenity,” he replied. “I think, this time, I should suffer through the pain, … so that I don't let this happen ever again.”
Fireball and Serenity looked at each other in concern. Her expression quickly shifted to a thankful smile.
“Thank you for your help, Fireball,” she said, squeezing his paw, gently. “I hope, someday soon, the three of us can get together again under calmer circumstances. Take care of him, okay?”
Fireball nodded to her with enthusiasm, before quickly following after his friend. Serenity looked toward in the sky for a few moments, lost in thought. She eventually took her leave, walking further down the beach.
Latoshi landed in his usual clearing outside the forest, immediately collapsing to the ground face-first. He panted, groaning and straining, weakly.
“Why?” he whispered, between ragged breaths. “Why did you … force me to leave?”
'You do not question my decisions,' Lazarus said, 'you follow them.'
“You—you took over my body. You took … took control of me.”
'That is because I am the master and you are my marionette! You dance when I pull your strings!'
“You said I was 'stupid' … and 'worthless',” he added, his eyes welling with tears. “After I've done everything you asked without question, … no matter how much I hated doing it. I'm sick of all of this. I don't want to do it anymore. I don't … want you in my life…”
Lazarus laughed in amusement. 'You do not have the strength to eject me from your spirit, Latoshi! I own you!' Latoshi gasped, panting fearfully. 'Do you think that I am going to sit back and let you defy me, child? Do you think that I am going to let you keep these memories of your rebellion against me?!'
“My … memories?” he mused, quickly becoming terrified. “No, you can't … you wouldn't take away my memories! You can't! You …”
Latoshi lay completely still and silent for a few moments, staring blankly.
'Now, tell me who it is that you seek to destroy.'
“… Antoshi,” he replied, in an almost robotic tone.
'And who is it that you owe your life and all of your energy to?'
“… Lazarus. I owe it all to … to Lazarus.”
'Very good. Tomorrow you will find new clothing, and then you will resume your training while you heal your injuries. This is only a minor setback for us. Together, we will emerge triumphant — no matter how long it takes to get it right.'
Latoshi's lips curled into a slight smirk. He closed his eyes, his voice weary. “Yes, Lazarus. … Whatever you … say.”
In the dead of night, Antoshi and Fireball spent hours walking back to their hotel room. They were incredibly quiet and incredibly exhausted. Fireball showed constant concern for his best friend. Neither of them complained about the length of their trek, how tired or hungry they were, or how long it took. They merely put one foot in front of the other, and kept on moving. By the time they'd reached their hotel, it was almost morning.
The mysterious figure in the trench coat appeared, emerging from the shadows across the street. Having followed them all the way from the beach, the unknown party silently watched them, as they finally went into the hotel to retire.
— End of Part 3 —