Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ A Blond Ray of Sunshine ❯ Chapter 22
A short time later, in the early afternoon, Latoshi stood atop the roof of a tall skyscraper. The bustle of Goldenrod City so far below him was muted. A strong, passing breeze blew by him as he gazed off toward the north. He was completely unaware of his rampage the previous night. Lazarus didn't bother to talk to him about it, either.
'You sense that, too,' Lazarus remarked.
“I do,” Latoshi said. “It's Antoshi again. I don't know where he is, but he's left the city for some reason.”
'Will you go after him? Will you test your newfound level of strength?'
Latoshi lips curled into a devious smirk. “I think I will.”
The boy dashed to the edge of the roof, bounding quickly from building to building in the direction of his target. Once he was out of structures to stand on, he took to the sky. He was high enough that people on the ground didn't notice him overhead. An intersecting flock of Pidove panicked and flew around him. He laughed, spinning and flipping playfully.
“Flying feels so effortless now,” Latoshi remarked. “It's like I'm not using any energy.”
'Your willpower and my direction have gotten you this far, Latoshi. Your power and confidence will only continue to swell from here.'
Soon, Latoshi neared the city limits of Goldenrod.
‘There,’ the boy thought, making a gradual descent toward the trees along the forest edge of Route 35. He landed gently, under the cover of the forest canopy. A look of crazed excitement was in the sable-haired boy's eyes. He was elated to get to see Antoshi again, but he did not know why, assuming it was to satisfy his urge to fight.
'Wait, Latoshi,' Lazarus said. The boy obediently came to a halt. 'Do not make your presence known so easily to him. Antoshi will almost certainly sense you nearby.'
“What should I do?” he asked.
'You must learn how to lower your Ki output to avoid detection from afar. Quiet your mind and relax your body.' Latoshi was momentarily confused as to why he needed to do this, when all he wanted to do was fight. Nevertheless, he closed his eyes, letting the muscles in his body relax. 'Breathe slowly and calmly. Your heart and your spirit must not be in turmoil. Keep your entire self composed like a still body of water.' The boy's head hung down, catching on quickly, his breathing having become placid. 'Very good. Your spirit energy will be undetectable if you stay like this. In this state, you could walk up almost right behind Antoshi and he would not sense your presence.'
Latoshi inhaled deeply, bringing his chin up. He chuckled in amusement. “That would be quite a surprise for him.”
'Remember not to use your Ki at all from here.'
“Got it,” the boy replied. He quickly headed through the trees on foot.
‘How miraculous,’ Lazarus thought. ‘To think that he has already managed to completely center himself, even after the chaos he wrought last night. Perhaps there is hope for him yet. I still have to handle him very carefully. I can only be thankful for how childish and naive he is to have accepted my apology earlier.’
Latoshi eventually reached light on the other side. He peered out from behind a tree, looking at the forest clearing and the cabin situated in it.
“What is this place?” Latoshi mused, quietly. He narrowed his eyes, able to see closer details of the house, as if up close, from over a hundred meters of grassy field away. He hummed, curiously, making out Antoshi's aura as he and Fireball ate lunch at the kitchen island. He took note of the girl with blue hair, as she walked around in the kitchen. “Who in the world is that? Is it someone important to him?”
Latoshi watched the girl walk over and give Antoshi a hug from his side. The sable-haired boy's expression shifted into a cruel grin, chuckling in amusement.
“We're gonna head out for a walk!” Antoshi said, as he and Fireball exited the front door together.
Latoshi perked up, having sat down and rested against a tree out of sight. He peered out again, his hearing picking up their conversation, as though he were right next to them.
“The two of you sure like to stay active, huh?” Mitoshi replied with a laugh.
"Sure do!" Fireball said.
“We'll be back in a bit!” Antoshi said, closing the door behind them.
Latoshi's eyes followed them as they headed off down the dirt road leading into the woods. Once they were far enough away, he sprung to his feet. He dashed across the clearing, swiftly and quietly, managing to use very little of his Ki in doing so. His rapidly stamping feet made almost no noise.
He headed up the porch, peering inside the frosted glass on the front door, before opening it as slowly and quietly as possible. Inside, he crept up behind the girl, as she finished cleaning their dishes.
Mitoshi stopped what she was doing, getting an odd sensation. She turned around, gasping in fright. “Latoshi?” she uttered.
Latoshi was shocked that she knew his name.
A couple hours later, the duo headed back toward the cabin.
"I can't get over how peaceful it is here," Fireball remarked.
“Like I told Mitoshi, I would love to live in a place like this. I guess now we can get that chance — at least for a little while.” The two friends chuckled. They headed up the porch steps, and Antoshi opened the front door.
They were immediately greeted with the sight of Bubbles staring out a nearby window, weeping. The pair became concerned.
“Bubbles?” Antoshi asked, as he and Fireball approached her. “What's wrong? Where's Mitoshi?”
Bubbles sniffled and sobbed, struggling to speak. "The—the other one came … here," she replied. "He left a n-note on the c-counter…"
“'Other one?'” Antoshi remarked in confusion. He headed over to the counter and picked up the note. His eyes went wide with horror at what he read.
"Antoshi?" Fireball asked. "What is it?"
The boy crumpled the note in a tightly clenched fist. “Latoshi,” he muttered. He kept his dormant frustrations in check, realizing their fight against Lazarus wasn't finished yet.
"What?! How did Latoshi track us down here?"
Antoshi sighed. “I don't know, but he says he's going to kill Mitoshi if I don't 'prove my worth' against him. He knows I don't want bystanders, so he's waiting for us on a mountain to the north. He wants me to fight him again without holding anything back.” Antoshi headed to the front door, kneeling down, quickly digging into his backpack. He pulled out his only Poké Ball. “Come on, Fireball, hop in.”
Fireball was shocked by the request. "You're … taking me with you, right?" The boy's gaze faltered, staring at the Poké Ball as he weighed the option. "Please, Antoshi. I need to come with you. I just got through telling you that I'd always be by your side, remember? I know you don't want me to get hurt. I don't want you to get hurt, either. I have to make sure you're okay."
Antoshi sighed and nodded in agreement. “All right. At least hop in for now. It'll be easier than carrying you around like I did last time.”
Fireball recalled hanging on for dear life on Antoshi's shoulders as the boy raced through the streets of Goldenrod. "… Good point," he replied. He closed his eyes before his body was reduced to a mass of red light and swiftly pulled into the confines of the ball. Antoshi minimized it to a smaller size before slipping it into his pocket.
“Don't worry, Bubbles,” he said. “We'll get her back.”
"Please be careful," she replied, softly, with tears in her eyes.
“I'll do my absolute best,” he replied with a confident smile. He headed out the door, into the clearing, before blasting off high into the air. Bubbles wished for everyone's safety, watching in awe as the blond boy took to the sky.
Antoshi eventually found the mountain by way of sensing Latoshi's energy. His eyesight had become acute enough to make out Latoshi's smirking face from miles away. The sable-haired boy looked up at him, arms folded across his chest, also able to see his rival just as clearly. Mitoshi laid unconscious next to him.
Antoshi descended down upon the large Mt. Mortar, which was a couple of miles wide in diameter. Its center was concave not unlike a grinding bowl, and Latoshi stood in its center. Antoshi landed a short distance from him. The winds were strong at their elevation. The trio's hair, clothing, and Latoshi's black aura whipped around in the gusts. A nearby Absol stared intensely at the duo. It sensed an impending, ominous event, quickly sprinting away from the two boys.
“I always love this part,” Latoshi said with a grin. “This is when we trade barbs back and forth at each other. We get to strut around and try to intimidate each other. It's a nice little build-up to punching each other senseless, don't you think?”
“This has gone way too far, Latoshi,” Antoshi replied. He pulled out Fireball's Poké Ball from his pocket, enlarged it, and let the Typhlosion out. Fireball stared Latoshi down with a stern expression.
“Oh, you're going to have your pet fight me instead? That's awfully … idiotic of you, Antoshi.”
Antoshi shook his head. “No, Latoshi. He's not going to fight you — and I'm not going to fight you, either.”
Latoshi was bewildered by the remark. “Uh, okay? I guess you just want me to kill you, your pet, and this girlfriend of yours? That's fine, too.” He aimed an open hand toward Mitoshi's unconscious body.
“You don't want to kill her, Latoshi. Believe me.”
Latoshi scoffed in amusement. “Oh, yeah? Why is that? Because you're going to cry a lot if I do?”
“While that is true, it's not what I was getting at. Latoshi, that girl is your sister.” Latoshi was blown away by the revelation. “Our sister,” Antoshi added.
“'Our sister?'” Latoshi reiterated in disbelief. “You mean, … you really believe you're my …”
Antoshi closed his eyes and nodded. Latoshi immediately turned his attention to Mitoshi. He stared at her with an intense gaze.
‘I don't know this girl,’ Latoshi thought, his jaw agape. ‘She's my sister? Why don't I have any memories of her? I should know who she is!’
'Stop getting distracted, Latoshi!' Lazarus shouted at him. 'I told you before, this is his way of trying to divert you from your rightful destiny!'
“No!” Latoshi exclaimed to the blond-haired boy. “I know what this is, Antoshi. You're trying to trick me. It's not going to work. Now say 'goodbye' to this girl!”
He held his hand out again, summoning a mass of dark energy into his palm, grinning wildly.
“Latoshi, don't!!” Antoshi shouted in panic, preparing to intervene.
Before Antoshi could react, Latoshi suddenly fired off a blast of Ki, demolishing everything in a small crater below him. He cackled wildly, the dust that billowed out was the only thing left of the spot Mitoshi had been in. Antoshi and Fireball were horrified, and in shock.
‘I … I wasn't fast enough?’ Antoshi thought, trembling. ‘Mitoshi … is …’
"No," Fireball whispered. "How could he? How could he do something so heartless?"
Antoshi trembled, overcome with rage all over again. His irises burned with his Ki's signature color red. He stared down his rival with fury in his eyes.
Latoshi smirked as he glanced over at them. However, his smirk quickly faded — his attention turning to behind the pair. The duo noticed his expression and turned around.
A few meters behind them, Serenity cradled an unharmed Mitoshi in her arms. She calmly laid the sleeping girl back down on the ground.
“What the hell?!” Latoshi exclaimed. “How … how the hell did she just … just …”
“Serenity!” Antoshi said, in a mix of surprise and relief.
"Oh, man," Fireball chimed in, heaving a loud sigh. "I really don't need anymore heart attacks like that."
Serenity smiled at Antoshi and Fireball. “I made a promise to myself,” she said. “I promised that I wouldn't get involved in your struggle unless there was no other choice. I couldn't let Latoshi make a mistake he was going to regret for the rest of his life. Just like I wasn't going to let you do the same the last time you two fought.”
Antoshi's eyes widened in surprise at the revelation. “You mean … you were going to stop me from that final attack against Latoshi?”
Serenity nodded to him. “I had only intended to use my powers as a last resort. I knew that once I did, the possibility of you relying on me for your battles was far too great. You needed, and still need, to become strong on your own. That's why I refused to get involved when you asked me to.”
“I see now,” Antoshi replied, with a confident nod. The three of them turned their attention to the sable-haired boy. “Did you hear that, Latoshi? With Serenity here, this battle is over. There's no need to continue.”
Latoshi was baffled at the sheer ignorance of what was just said. “You think our fight is over because of this bitch?” he shouted. “I remember seeing her during our last fight. So what if she's fast? She's just another insect that I need to squash!”
Latoshi fired a large blast of energy that zipped past the duo and careened directly into Serenity. It exploded violently, leaving a cloud of smoke. Antoshi and Fireball were left stunned at the sight. Latoshi began laughing uncontrollably. Once again, however, his mirthful mood was brought to a screeching halt. Serenity remained completely unharmed.
At that point, Mitoshi began to stir back to life. She groaned weakly, opening her eyes and taking in the scene. “What in the world?” she uttered, sitting up.
Antoshi jogged over to her. “Mitoshi, are you okay?” he asked, kneeling down. Fireball followed, and stood behind him. Mitoshi groaned in pain, rubbing the back of her neck.
“Oww, that jerk,” she replied. “He came to the cabin, and I thought that he was there because he was free of that evil spirit thing. Then, he hits me and knocks me out when I wasn't expecting it. So, I guess I was wrong.” She turned her attention to Serenity, who smiled warmly at her. “Oh, wow, it's you again. The person from the beach.”
“Nice to see you again, too,” Serenity replied. “You were wearing that concealing disguise. I knew I recognized your energy when I got here.”
“Whoa,” Mitoshi remarked, awe-struck. “You knew that was me just by sensing it?”
“Uh, hello?” Latoshi chimed in. “How about we pay attention over here? You know, to the guy who's about to slaughter all of you?”
“There isn't any reason to fight,” Serenity said. “Antoshi has already made it clear he does not wish to fight you.”
“Oh, and you think you just get to decide?” Latoshi shot back. “You know, I'm sick of watching you act like you belong here. I think I'll take you down first out of principle. Believe me, I won't be holding back this time.”
Serenity brushed away some of her brunette hair, displaced by the winds upon the mountaintop, from her face. “You don't want to fight me, Latoshi,” she said, calmly. “You'll only end up disappointed.”
Latoshi scoffed. “Yeah, disappointed at how pathetic you turn out to be.”
Serenity closed her eyes, opting not to make any further remarks. Instead, she walked a few paces toward him, positioning herself between Latoshi and the others.
Latoshi sucked his teeth. “Fine, then. Play it cool. I don't care if you're a girl — I'm going to kill you just the same!” He darted at her with incredible speed, irises shimmering black, kicking up dirt and dust along the way. He swung a fist at her, only for Serenity to sidestep. Latoshi seethed with anger, throwing punches and kicks at her. She responded by effortlessly hopping and leaping back and to the sides to avoid every strike.
Antoshi looked on in disbelief as they passed by him. ‘She's … so nimble!’ he thought with eyes wide. ‘She's not even just dodging, she's moving at an unbelievable pace that I can't even keep up with. Not to mention, I can't even see her Ki! Is she … hiding it somehow? Or is she not even using it at this point?’
“Stop running away!” Latoshi screamed, infuriated. “Stand and fight me, you pathetic coward! And why the hell can't I see your aura?!”
Latoshi and Serenity both came to a sudden stop just a short distance away from each other. Latoshi panted softly to catch his breath, feeling winded already for some reason. Serenity was totally relaxed as she opened her eyes. Her irises burned with the bright, pink glow of her spirit energy.
“You can't see my aura,” Serenity replied, “… because it's far too great for you to fathom at your current level.”
The others gasped in unison, dumbfounded at such a claim.
“Is she serious?” Mitoshi asked Antoshi, quietly. He could only shake his head in response, just as uncertain as she was.
“You're so full of it,” Latoshi said. “Just an amateur talking crap. There's no way anyone besides Antoshi is anywhere near my level — certainly not a nobody like you.”
“Attack me, then,” Serenity replied, calmly. “I won't dodge any longer. In fact, I guarantee I won't even move from this spot.”
Latoshi chuckled, deviously. “Okay! I'll be sure to write that on your gravestone!”
He charged forward yet again, his dark aura flaring, giving a loud shout as he fired off a blinding flurry of punches at her. With one arm behind her back, Serenity calmly blocked and parried every one of his strikes with her index finger. She made good on her vow not to move, and Latoshi proved incapable of budging her.
‘There's … no way!’ Latoshi thought. ‘She's making a joke out of me with just one finger!? Damn her!!’
‘This stupid child,’ Lazarus thought. ‘He has no idea what he is dealing with, even when she tells him directly. I cannot intervene here. He will just have to learn the hard way.’
Latoshi leapt away from her, seething with rage. He panted heavily to catch his breath, wiping the sweat from his forehead. Serenity remained unfazed and composed. She closed her eyes, folding her arms behind her back. Latoshi narrowed his eyes, realizing she was in a poor defensive stance. After a moment, he came at her again. His body blurred into afterimages while moving haphazardly in all directions around her, attempting to outpace and disorient her.
Serenity sighed at his futile efforts. She held an open hand out to her side in the instant before Latoshi appeared to strike her. His eyes went wide, expecting her to fire off an energy blast. However, she simply flicked his forehead with her index finger. The deceptively innocent strike ended up sending him hurling violently through the air. He shouted in shock, before crashing and sliding to a stop against a nearby pile of rocks.
Everyone else, including Latoshi, was bewildered at what just happened. Serenity's power and skill were undoubtedly beyond anything they'd seen before. Latoshi strained and grunted, holding his throbbing forehead with one hand, as he sat up. He felt more drained after that one, paltry attack than throughout the entirety of his previous fight with Antoshi.
Serenity opened her eyes and turned to him. “Do you see now? There's a reason why you're so weak now. It's because the guidance you've been given by Lazarus is contributing to your downfall.”
Latoshi scowled at her, viciously. “What the hell do you know about Lazarus? Just who are you, anyway?!”
“I'm someone who's had to deal with Lazarus before. I've seen and experienced first-hand the kind of chaos and evil it sows. The torture and the strain that it puts on its host and the people that care about them is something I would never wish upon anyone. It's the same strain that your friends and family are dealing with right now. The ones that are here for you at this very moment because they only wish the best for you. Latoshi — that parasite inside of your spirit is not your teacher, and it is not your friend. It is pure evil, and its only purpose is to steal the energy of your spirit.”
Latoshi continued to look at her with a bitter, serious glare. He slowly shook his head in response. “No, that's not true. You're only trying to trick me; to get me to turn against Lazarus like Antoshi's been doing. He's jealous of my power. He's jealous of the heights I can reach, which are far beyond his own.”
“That's not even remotely true, Latoshi!” Antoshi interjected. “I never wanted any of this! I would gladly give up all the power I have if it meant that you were safe, and free of Lazarus!” Fireball was pleasantly surprised at how much Antoshi cared about the sable-haired boy.
'Do not listen to him,' Lazarus said, calmly. 'You already know all of his lies.'
“That's right,” Latoshi replied. “Antoshi is nothing but a pathetic liar who would stoop as low as he can just to get a cheap shot in on me. Instead of acting like the snake you are, Antoshi, why don't you fight me face-to-face?!”
“I am not fighting you, Latoshi,” Antoshi said. “I refuse to fight you ever again.”
Latoshi balled his fists, scowling with rage.
“I'll fight him!” Mitoshi said, surprising the entire group. The girl stepped up, her long, blue hair whipping in the sharp gusts as she stood alongside Serenity.
Latoshi scoffed, trying not to laugh. “You've got to be joking.”
“I'm not some damsel-in-distress,” Mitoshi replied, sharply. “If both of my brothers can fight, then so can I!”
"Have you … ever fought before?" Fireball asked.
“I sure haven't!” she replied with conviction. The remark prompted some serious concern from Antoshi and Fireball. “Still, Latoshi had the nerve to hit me, and I'm not going to let it slide! I'm going to give you a real … thrashing!”
Latoshi snickered, shaking his head in disbelief. Serenity stepped back, looking to Antoshi and Fireball with a reassuring nod. The duo trusted her, backing away as well.
“Fine, then,” Latoshi said, with a nonchalant shrug. “If you want me to tear you limb from limb, so be it!”
Mitoshi's eyes went wide as he flew through the air at her with an arrogant grin. Her irises suddenly glowed bright blue in response. Latoshi threw a punch through her chest — which ended up literally going through her chest. Antoshi and Fireball gasped in surprise; Latoshi's arm was sticking out through her back. Her body around the point of impact had turned into clear water.
“What in the hell is this?” Latoshi uttered.
Mitoshi herself was momentarily surprised. She capitalized on the distraction, shouting as she swiftly punched the side of Latoshi's head. The hard impact sent him to the ground. He groaned, getting back to his feet. Mitoshi responded by keeping on him, landing several rapid punches to Latoshi's face and chest, while he managed to dodge the rest. He shouted in rage, punching back at her with far greater quantity and force. It was not unlike his first fight, trading blows back and forth with Antoshi, although Latoshi held no advantage this time. Mitoshi was pleasantly awe-struck as every part of her body he struck her instinctively turned to water for as long as he made contact.
‘Is this some kind of nightmare?!’ Latoshi thought. ‘How am I getting outclassed by not one, but two girls?! Why the hell is her body made of water when I hit her, but when she hits me it sure as hell feels like flesh and bone!’
Latoshi seethed, far past the limits of his patience. He created a blast of Ki in his hand, firing it through Mitoshi's torso. The blast connected and tore a hole through her, instantly causing her entire body to turn into a watery version of herself with a large hole in the middle. The others were awe-struck by the sight.
“Whoa,” Mitoshi remarked, her voice sounding as though she were underwater. “That's never happened without me thinking about it before.” She looked herself over, curiously sticking a hand through the hole in her chest.
“Are you … okay?” Antoshi asked, concerned.
“I feel okay,” Mitoshi replied. “I don't feel any pain or … anything at all. This is pretty cool! … And, pretty weird. Good thing I don't have to breathe when I'm like this.”
Antoshi grinned, gazing over at Serenity. Her attention, however, was turned upward. She had a deeply uneasy expression on her face.
“No,” she whispered. Antoshi and Fireball both looked upward, followed by Latoshi and Mitoshi. The four of them were shocked and confused when they realized a person was hovering high over them.
‘It's too late,’ Serenity thought, her fist trembling. ‘I suppose this was inevitable…’
"Who is that?" Fireball asked.
The person slowly descended down to the ground — a tall, young man of average build. He was neatly dressed in formal clothes: a dark blue waistcoat atop a matching tie and white dress shirt, along with matching dark blue trousers. His clothing was spotless, and his black shoes were so impeccably polished that the midday sunlight reflected right off them. His perfectly groomed, short, brown hair was slicked back. As he touched down, he had a pleasant smile upon his face. His violet eyes slowly panned around the group, before offering a soft chuckle.
‘What in the hell is going on today?!’ Latoshi thought, scowling, baring his clenched teeth. ‘Who are all these nobodies that keep showing up out of nowhere?!’
“Well, this is truly delightful,” the man said, sliding his hands into his trouser pockets. “I finally get to meet all of you in person at once. Let's see, now,” he turned his gaze to Antoshi. “You're the famous Antoshi, along with your best friend, Fireball the Typhlosion. … We also have the brooding Latoshi, and lastly, the fresh-faced young sister of them both, Mitoshi. That's quite the remarkable power over water you have. I have to say, I adore how peculiar your names are.”
All of them were equally baffled as to how he knew not just their names, but also who they were. The mysterious individual took a deep breath and sighed.
“Yes, the air is rife with the smell of inexperienced Ki,” he continued. “The kind of exuberant, blossoming energy flowing from the passionate hearts of such spirited youngsters. I must say, seeing you three in person only affirms how much potential you truly have. But, where are my manners? Greetings — my name is Collin.” With an arm over his midsection, he offered a polite bow. “It truly is wonderful to meet you all. The looks on your faces tell me that Serenity never spoke of me. Then again, who among us likes talking about the skeletons in our closets?”
“What does he mean?” Antoshi asked Serenity.
She slowly exhaled. “… He's my brother.” The others looked at him in surprise.
“That's correct,” Collin said. “So, here we all are — family. You boys found out today that you have a sister, and that Serenity has a brother. It truly is a monumental day, and I know all of you will remember this for the rest of your lives.” Serenity quirked an eyebrow, finding his remark suspicious.
“Wait,” Antoshi said. “How do you know when Mitoshi told us she was our sister?”
Collin laughed. “Let's just say I'm very attuned to my senses, just like Serenity is. She's been around behind the scenes, following all of you without you being even the slightest bit aware of her presence. That's all right, though. In time, the three of you will metamorphose into exceptional Ki users. As I said, you all have enormous potential, … except for you,” he added, the tone of his voice shifting to contempt. He briefly took his hand from his pocket to point at Latoshi, much to the boy's confusion.
“… Just what the hell are you talking about, you wannabe prick?” Latoshi spat.
Collin chuckled. “Technically, I'm not pointing at you, Latoshi. I'm pointing at Lazarus. I believe my sister already explained it earlier. Lazarus is nothing more than a parasite wasting away your incredible power. It is a shame what he's done to you.”
Latoshi got over his brief shock that yet another person knew of Lazarus. “Idiots!” he shouted. “All of you! You're all mindless liars!”
“I understand that you doubt me, Latoshi,” Collin said, calmly, “but, the reason why Serenity is so intimately familiar with Lazarus is because Lazarus used to control me.”
“No way!” Mitoshi remarked in surprise, reflecting the others' reactions.
“Is this true, Lazarus?” Latoshi asked, narrowing his eyes.
'They are all agents of deceit,' Lazarus replied. 'They are here on behalf of Antoshi to fool you, to take your rightful place at the top.'
Collin smiled gently, waiting a moment in the midst of silence. “… Is he done speaking? I'm sure he just said we're all liars, we're all out to get you, so on and so forth. Here's some immutable truth, however, …” Collin's aura suddenly exploded to life with so much intense force that it caused all of them to stagger backward, save for Serenity. She merely stared at him with a stern, unblinking gaze. The others looked on in disbelief. His aura was just as dark and black as Latoshi's. “Do all of you feel the wavelength of my Ki? Feels familiar, wouldn't you say?”
“Oh, man,” Antoshi remarked, trembling from the sheer power radiating from Collin. “It's like there's two Latoshi's…”
Collin's aura dissipated as quickly as it emerged. “Very perceptive, Antoshi. Remnants of Lazarus' very own spirit energy still exist inside me. I like to keep it inside me as a reminder of those days we had together. I used to be Lazarus' pet project. I've grown and learned of the parasite's fallacious promises since then. Tell me, Latoshi, how much stronger have you gotten since he infected you? Not enough to even touch Serenity. Not enough to keep yourself from being outpaced by Antoshi. Not enough to even defeat your sister who has literally no fighting experience whatsoever. You're already exhausted due to how much energy Lazarus is keeping from you. How do you expect to realize your full potential? What's the point of keeping him around? It's a one-sided symbiosis, Latoshi, and you're the one stagnating.”
Latoshi went silent, hanging his head down. He offered a few snarls and growls for a moment while the others watched him. There was an ominous presence wafting through the air.
Collin chuckled in amusement. “Now, this is an interesting shift in energy. Speak of the devil, for he hath returned.”
Latoshi snapped his head upward, his eyes completely filled with shimmering, dark energy. “Shut your mouth, Collin,” the boy said, his voice combined with that of Lazarus'. “I will not continue to sit idly by while you speak ill of me.”
“There it is,” Collin replied, amused. “That rage, that venom, that spitefulness; it's just like old times. It has been a while, Lazarus.”
“Do not be cordial with me, child. I will just as soon wipe that arrogant look off your face.”
“Interesting that you should threaten me, Lazarus. You're only slightly less feeble than the last time we spoke. What was that, about … eight months, five days, seventeen hours and four minutes ago? You told me then that you were looking for new prospects. At least you didn't lie about something for once. Although, it's quite impressive, Lazarus — you didn't manage to get either one of these boys to kill the other. Your influence is, … well, quite sad these days.”
“Do not be upset simply because I no longer need you, Collin. Do not be upset because you will cease to exist soon.”
“You should choose your words carefully,” Collin replied, with a convincing smile. “You know what may occur if you anger me.”
“I know you better than that, Collin. I know your inclinations. I know exactly what you have planned for these three children.”
The well-dressed young man closed his eyes and laughed. “Fair enough. In that case, I've seen all I need to. I believe I'll take my leave now. Oh, and Lazarus? When the boy eventually ejects your spirit from his, you had best hope it happens far away from me. You also know I'll gladly take the opportunity to end you. I've discovered how to now.” Latoshi glared at him. “Take care Antoshi, Latoshi, and Mitoshi. We shall meet again in due time.”
Collin slowly ascended back into the air. To the group's surprise, he vanished in an instant. Serenity let out a sigh of relief, holding her trembling hands to steady them. Antoshi looked over at her, inquisitively.
‘I've never seen Serenity lose her cool,’ he thought. ‘This Collin guy, … he must have some impossible level of strength that the four of us can't even begin to grasp — just like Serenity.’
Latoshi shouted, angrily, his voice returning to normal. He grabbed his head, falling to a knee. “Damn … you! Lazarus! Give me back my body!” Latoshi gasped loudly, panting for air as he looked up at the sky.
'I apologize sincerely, Latoshi,' Lazarus said. 'I only wished to stop him from sullying my name.'
“Shut up!” the boy snapped. “I'm fed up with all the crap that's happened today!”
“Latoshi, please listen,” Antoshi said. “I really do care about you and your well-being. I'm fed up, too! I'm fed up with this fighting and the hatred and contempt between us. Aren't you?” Fireball and Mitoshi, still in her watery form, both nodded in agreement. “Try to remember back. Remember when we first met? Remember how we bumped into each other in Goldenrod City? You thought it was crazy that we both had such weird names. We went and got ice cream together. Remember how you and Fireball joked about chocolate chip ice cream?”
‘What is he talking about?’ Latoshi thought, looking away. ‘Why can't I remember that? Why can't … why can't I remember how I even met Antoshi? How do I even know his name to begin with? How did we first meet? What's he rambling about ice cream for? …’
Latoshi gasped, suddenly flooded with memories of the ice cream shoppe.
'I love ice cream!' Fireball's voice permeated his scattered memories. 'That chocolate chip was great — right, Latoshi?'
‘Yeah, this is the best ice cream I can remember,’ he joked in response.
Latoshi had the wind knocked out of him. ‘There it is,’ he thought. ‘Antoshi … he—he's telling the truth. How can that be?’ There was a conflicted look in his eyes as he backed away from them. He shook his head in disbelief before abruptly taking off into the air.
“Latoshi!” Antoshi called out. His brother flew off without looking back. Serenity walked over to Antoshi, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
“That's it, then,” she remarked, as they all watched Latoshi flee. “The seeds of dissent are finally taking root.”
“Are you sure we shouldn't go after him?” Antoshi asked, worried. “I could keep trying to talk him through it, … maybe i-it'll give him strength or something.”
“If it were anything other than a spirit parasite, sure,” Serenity replied. “However, our presence would only serve to distract Latoshi. He has to concentrate in order to rid himself of Lazarus. Just as before, we have to leave this in his hands.”
“I saw the doubt in his eyes,” Antoshi remarked. “I think what I said … got through to him. It broke through the blockade Lazarus built in his head. I just want him to remember everything. I want for him to be who he really is.”
“A lot has happened here today,” Serenity said with a heavy sigh. “He had to have been wondering why he was fighting, and what he was even doing here. When he went after me, he'd never been so humbled in a battle before. After all of that training and the time spent with Lazarus, he realized he wasn't as strong as he was led to believe. He has a better understanding to the depth of Lazarus' lies now.”
“Good,” Mitoshi chimed in. “Cause I sure would like to meet my brother — the real Latoshi."
"Same here," Fireball added.
“Speaking of real,” Antoshi said to Mitoshi, “what about the real you?”
“Oh, wow,” she replied, looking at herself again. The girl was was still in her watery form. “After everything that's happened here, I completely forgot I was still like this!” She briefly grunted and strained, trying to will her body to take on a solid form once again. “… Okay, well, we seem to have a small problem: I can't turn myself back to normal.”
“I think I might know the solution to that,” Serenity said. “Come on, let's get going.”
“Err, well, I don't know how to fly,” Mitoshi replied.
Serenity smiled at her. “That's no problem. Take my hand.” Mitoshi did so, holding onto Serenity as though her hand was solid. At the same time, Antoshi held out Fireball's Poké Ball. The Typhlosion nodded, being pulled back into the ball's confines. The three of them lifted off the ground, ascending slowly for Mitoshi's sake.
The girl panicked, briefly, before settling down. “W-Wow, … this is so cool!” she exclaimed. Antoshi and Serenity chuckled at each other as Mitoshi experienced her first time flying. The girl made of water, and with a hole in her chest, looked down at the mountain as it got smaller and smaller the further up they went. Her exuberant eyes stayed open wide, helped by the fact that she did not need to blink in her current form. Her jaw hung open, gasping in awe continuously.
The perspective of the world from so high in the brilliantly blue sky was beyond anything she could've dreamt. She'd never flown before, in a plane, or on the back of a Pokémon. It was something she never realized she'd wanted to see and experience so badly. She was able to see the large, beaten paths of routes 35 and 36, along with the sprawling forests surrounding them.
“Ooh, I think I can see our cabin from here! Hi, Bubbles!” she exclaimed, waving.
The National Park was off to her right, Violet City to her left, and the large city of Goldenrod up ahead. By looking behind her, she could even see Ecruteak City. With its wildly different locales, Johto was truly a remarkable sight to behold. She grinned through most of their flight, soaking in every second of the brief trip.
Soon, the trio landed at a large lake nearby Route 35. Antoshi promptly pulled out Fireball's Poké Ball to let him out.
“This is where you wanted to take us?” Antoshi mused, both he and Fireball looking around at the picturesque scenery.
“Indeed it is,” Serenity replied. “Mitoshi, why don't you take a dip in the water and see what happens?”
“Oh, … all right,” Mitoshi replied.
She waded her bare, watery feet along the shore of the lake, inadvertently scaring off a handful of slow-moving Magikarp under the surface. The massive hole in her body began to fill itself back up from the body of water. Fireball and the two siblings looked on in amazement.
“Now,” Serenity said, “try to return yourself to normal.”
Mitoshi focused for a moment. Her skin and clothing slowly became visible, the water appearing to recede back into her body. She giggled in elation, patting her solid form to make sure she was really back to normal. She turned to the others with a grin, holding her arms out, theatrically, to present her regular form. Fireball offered a facetious clap.
“I can't get over how incredible her power is,” Antoshi remarked while the girl stepped back onto dry land. “But, … why is she able to do that?”
“It's rare,” Serenity replied, “but, some people have sort of an 'elemental' spirit energy. They can manipulate their Ki into one specific natural element, and then apply those elemental abilities in various ways. Mitoshi can turn her body into water. As we've seen, she can also use that ability to defend herself and become nearly invulnerable. The only drawback is that she needs water to regenerate her wounds. Still, I'm sure she can discover much more in her mastery over water.”
“Ooh, this is so exciting!” Mitoshi responded, bouncing up and down.
Serenity laughed, grinning at her. “Well, I should get going. I'll come and visit soon. We can sit down and have a proper chat then. I'll even bring tea.”
“She has very good taste in tea,” Antoshi remarked to his sister. Fireball nodded.
“Ah, I see,” Mitoshi replied, smiling.
“Hey, Serenity,” he said, just as she was about to turn away. “There's one more thing I was curious about. If you don't mind me asking, how old are you?”
“I don't mind,” she replied, smiling. “I'm sixteen. My brother, Collin, is eighteen.”
“Oh,” he remarked, not sure what he was expecting. “I guess … that means we need years of experience before we'll be anywhere near as strong as you, huh?”
Serenity chuckled. “Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? Anyway, so long for now!”
The trio waved while Serenity ascended into the air and flew off.
Antoshi sighed in content. “You know, we're really close to the cabin,” he said. “Want to just walk back?”
“Sure thing!” she replied before they headed off together.
"That's fine by me," Fireball said, "as long as we don't run into anymore spider webs."
“Don't worry, dear Fireball!” Mitoshi said, deepening her voice, walking in front of him. She held a hand out, keeping her posture tall and straight. “I'll protect you from any and all spiders!”
Fireball sighed in relief, placing his paws on the girl's shoulder. "My hero!"
The group laughed as they made their way through a thin, beaten path in the woods. Their exhausting day had come to an end, but, that was not the case for the siblings' wayward brother.