Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ A Blond Ray of Sunshine ❯ Chapter 31

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

As they headed even further into the forest, all three siblings couldn't help but notice the gradual shift in their environment. There was a thin layer of snow along the ground. The sky had darkened significantly, and, more importantly, a dense veil of icy mist obscured the rest of the forest before them. They looked to each other with curious looks of concern before coming to a halt.

“Something's definitely off here,” Antoshi remarked, speaking what was on the other two's minds.

“What do you think happened?” Latoshi asked. “Did we wander off the path or something?”

“No,” Antoshi replied, glancing back briefly, “nothing else along the way looked like this. … I think we're getting close.”

“I was thinking that, too,” Mitoshi said. All three of them turned their attention to the frigid mist. Just being close to it reintroduced them to a taste of the biting cold that the blizzard offered.

“You think you could clear this, Mitoshi?” Antoshi asked.

“It's a lot thinner than anything I've practiced on,” Mitoshi replied, raising her hands up toward the mist, “but, let's find out.”

The girl's irises turned blue as she exhaled slowly. She brought her hands together, slowly and steadily parting them away from each other. The mist came alive in time with her motions, clearing a large gap for them to pass through. They wasted no time heading through in a single file, while Mitoshi kept her hands in place. Once they reached yet another large clearing, Mitoshi dropped her arms at her sides which caused the gap in the mist to seal back up. The trio exhaled sharply — the air was so much colder on the other side of the mist. They stared in bewilderment at what lay before them in the distance: a massive, swirling vortex of icy wind that extended all the way up to the dark clouds above. They were speechless; mesmerized by the curious phenomenon.

“What is that?” Mitoshi whispered.

“The source of the blizzard,” Antoshi replied, his expression quickly turning serious. “If I had to guess, I'd say this is the work of Ken. He might be inside of that thing right now.”

“He is,” a female voice replied from nearby. The siblings immediately turned their attention to the source, their eyes widening in surprise. What strolled out from the trees nearby was a young woman, the same height as Celeste. She wore a sleeveless red shirt that showed off her midriff, along with blue jean shorts that were a shade darker than her shoulder-length blue hair. Her ensemble was topped off with fingerless black gloves and black boots. Like the others, she was also a Pokémon-human hybrid. Unlike the others, however, she had the form of the Electric-type Raichu. Bifurcated ears protruded from the top of her head that pointed at the top and curled at the bottom, brown on the outside and yellow on the inside. A black, long, thin tail with a yellow lightning-bolt shaped end ran from her lower back. Circular yellow marks covered her cheeks. “That's far enough, outsiders. I'm warning you — don't come any closer.”

“We aren't here to fight,” Antoshi replied promptly. “I seriously just want to let that be known first. That's what we've been trying to tell your friends.”

The young woman furrowed her brow. “My friends? What are you saying?”

Antoshi sighed. “Your friends, Kage and Celeste, they insisted on stopping us. So, we were forced to fight them. That wasn't our preferred scenario, though.” Latoshi looked away for a moment, hinting of nervous guilt.

Her expression turned deeply concerned. “What did you do with them?”

“Nothing. They're all right — just unconscious.”

She closed her eyes and sighed in relief, thinking to herself for a moment. “… I see. So, that means I'm now the only thing standing between you and Ken.” The trio of siblings expressed their surprise to discover there were only two left. She looked to the blond-haired boy with a sense of strong resolve. “That said, I cannot fail here. I won't let you harm him.”

“We don't want to harm him,” Antoshi insisted, earning her skepticism. “I know you don't believe us, just like your friends wouldn't. We've been trying to talk this over with them, but neither of them were interested in talking. We only want a peaceful resolution to this blizzard. I'm Antoshi, and this is my brother, Latoshi, and my sister, Mitoshi.”

She stared intensely at each of the three siblings for a moment. “You may call me Myst. You'll have to forgive my distrust, however. Your words and your actions thus far have been … quite contrary.”

“Your friends didn't give us any choice. They weren't going to let us by without a fight.”

“You didn't have to fight them, though. You could have turned around and went back home.”

“We can't do that — not when there's a chance we can help others. This blizzard's caused far too much suffering. The people in Goldenrod are trapped, and the people in Ecruteak will be as well. They're getting sick and they're dying.”

She lowered her gaze to the ground, her voice becoming hushed. “Yes, well, … perhaps they deserved it…”

Antoshi was momentarily stunned. “What are you saying? Innocent people are caught in this blizzard. We're not going to stand by and watch that happen.” His siblings nodded in agreement.

Myst slowly shook her head. “You say they're innocent — that's your opinion. It's where you and I disagree.”

“What about the Pokémon?” Latoshi chimed in, causing her to perk back up again. “Don't you care about what happens to them? Aren't they innocent?”

“We— … we cleared the area of Pokémon. They're not in harm's way.”

“There were two Pichu,” Latoshi said. “They … well, they told us, in their own way, that they recognized you. They saw you and your friends in the woods, and you scared them off.”

“Two … Pichu?” she mused, holding a hand to her chin. “Yes, … I do remember them.”

“They were lost in the woods,” Latoshi went on. “They got caught in the blizzard. They nearly froze to death.”

She bit her lip, turning to the blizzard's swirling source with a concerned expression. “I … don't believe you,” she replied. “There's no way that Ken would … bring harm to any Pokémon. He specifically said so.”

“If you'd just let us talk to him—” Antoshi started.

“No,” she said firmly, standing tall. “You're not getting past me. You won't interrupt Ken while he's focusing.”

Latoshi huffed, blood boiling, becoming visibly angry. “What the hell is wrong with you people?!” he shouted, surprising the young woman. “We're here, telling you exactly what your damned blizzard is doing to everyone, and you still cover your ears and refuse to believe us. What is it going to take to get through to you and your deluded friends?!”

“Latoshi,” Antoshi said, turning to him. “It's all right.”

“I'm sorry!” he replied, standing down. “I'm just … so sick of this already. I've seen firsthand what your actions are doing to others. Antoshi is right. We're not going to stand by and watch you do this. You are not getting away with this.” Antoshi nodded in agreement.

Mitoshi smiled, fired up by her brothers' words. “Absolutely,” she chimed in, stepping in front of her brothers. “If you won't move out of the way, then I'll make you.”

“Mitoshi?” Latoshi uttered in surprise, mirroring his brother's expression.

Mitoshi grinned at him. “What? I've got to show what I'm made of eventually, right?”

Latoshi grinned back, chuckling. “Well, far be it from me to stop you from fighting for what you believe in.”

“To answer your earlier question,” Myst said, grabbing their attention, “there is nothing you could say or do that would 'get through' to me. I would prefer to avoid conflict, as my genetic makeup affords me incredible power and ability that I'd like not to call upon. That said, I also fight for what I believe in.”

Mitoshi shot Myst a confident grin. “My genetic makeup affords me the same.”

Myst sighed, a sorrowful look in her eyes. “Very well. Let's see if you're as good as you think you are.”

The two brothers couldn't help but be proud to watch their little sister step up and prove herself. She had adopted her brothers' confidence, along with their sense of justice and the willingness to get her hands dirty.

Myst rubbed her gloved hands together, standing between Mitoshi and the vortex. Their gazes locked, a quiet lull briefly coming over the clearing in the woods. Mitoshi took a fighting stance, thinking back to her weeks of training with her brothers. It was the first time she was going to be in a real fight — all three of them were well aware of that. She exhaled slowly, set aside her jitters for the moment, along with the eagerness to impress her brothers, focusing only on her opponent.

Myst stared at the girl, studying her for as long as she could. While her defensive stance was good, the girl was notably restless. It was as though Mitoshi couldn't sit still — constantly shifting her weight, constantly reaffirming her stance. She was twitchy and overattentive, waiting for Myst to make the first move. The Raichu-like young woman made a slight shift to the side out of curiosity, watching Mitoshi's eyes widen and have to stop herself from flinching. Myst's eyebrows raised, intrigued by the response. The girl seemed easy enough to fake out.

Antoshi's gaze shifted between the two of them, quickly realizing Myst was testing the waters without actually having to clash. She knew what she was doing. He had no idea what Myst was planning, but it was clear that Mitoshi's inexperience was already showing.

Myst took a deep breath before she suddenly raced at the girl. Mitoshi gasped in shock, throwing a punch which ended up connecting with the air. Both brothers' eyebrows flinched in unison at the young woman's speed. Myst had leapt up high, into the treetops. From there, she began bounding around between trees, leaving long-lasting afterimages of herself all around — all of them with their eyes locked on the girl.

‘She's fast,’ Antoshi communicated with his brother. ‘Although, not as fast as Celeste.’

‘That's for sure,’ Latoshi replied.

‘Still, it's certainly enough to keep Mitoshi focused on her opponent's movements.’

Mitoshi, meanwhile, swallowed hard. She kept up with Myst's hypersonic movements as best she could, but they were starting to blur and confound her. She shut her eyes and shook her head, trying to refocus her eyesight. Their battle had only just begun, yet she was starting to feel in over her head. Myst took note of that.

“Moving like this is as easy as breathing for me,” Myst said, her voice echoing between the afterimages. “You should give up now. Turn back before things get worse.”

“Not a chance!” Mitoshi replied. With her irises glowing blue amid wide eyes, she pointed an open hand at one of the images of Myst's body. She took careful aim before firing a blast of blue Ki. Myst was stunned by the inexplicable energy the girl created, however, she had plenty of time to scout the young fighter's thought process. As the energy destroyed the tree limb she was on, Myst was already diving at the girl. Mitoshi suddenly dodged to the side, narrowly avoiding being struck with Myst's clenched fist.

Antoshi and Latoshi's eyes widened, both of them spotting a perfect opportunity for Mitoshi to counterattack. The girl, however, leapt backward to distance herself instead. Myst came to a halt and stood up, staring at her with an intrigued gaze. Mitoshi looked over at her brothers who were stunned that she overlooked such an easy counter. The girl turned away and swallowed the lump in her throat, understanding that she hesitated in a critical moment. With a sharp sigh, she brushed her long hair behind her ears. She may not get another opportunity like that again.

Myst raced towards the girl once more, rearing her arm back and throwing another punch at Mitoshi's face. Mitoshi tensed up and shielded her face with both arms. The young woman's feint was successful, leaving Mitoshi wide open for where Myst was really aiming: her core. Mitoshi croaked in pain as the strike drilled into her abdomen, the wind knocked from her. Myst kept at it, delivering a barrage of jabs to the girl's stomach. Mitoshi groaned and grunted, staggering back with each blow that jolted her entire body. Her brothers watched anxiously, and it showed in their body language and perturbed stares. Mitoshi wasn't fighting back — too stunned to formulate a counter. Myst leaped and delivered a knee to the girl's temple, knocking her flat onto her stomach.

Both boys sighed in frustration as Mitoshi slowly got up to her hands and knees, coughing and gasping for air. Myst took a few steps back, gauging the state of her adversary.

‘This is bad,’ Latoshi communicated to his brother. ‘I'm about to jump in there and stop this — busted arm or not.’

‘Give her some time,’
Antoshi replied. ‘I know this isn't fun to watch, but, she wants to prove herself. Let her try to find her footing first.’

Latoshi sighed and pursed his lips, opting to hold back at his brother's behest.

“I don't wish to keep doing this,” Myst said, watching the girl climb to her feet. Mitoshi held her abdomen with one arm, straining to straighten her back. “You and your brothers are free to leave us. This doesn't need to continue.”

“Yes, it does,” Mitoshi replied with a determined expression. She closed her eyes and sighed sharply, opening them at the same time she let out a loud cry and caused her blue aura to flare to life around her. Mitoshi's long hair floated somewhat within the visible energy surrounding her. Myst was taken aback by the spectacle — just as her friends had been earlier. The emergence of the girl's Ki was something she'd never seen before. “I'm just getting started. Time to show you what I'm made of.”

Myst expressed her annoyance with the girl's stubbornness. She closed the gap between them in an instant, prompting Mitoshi to immediately guard her stomach. Instead, the young woman began to race around her in circles. Antoshi and Latoshi looked at each other in surprise, as they found out they weren't the only ones that preferred such a maneuver. Mitoshi looked all around at her opponent's blurring image. She shouted in pain as Myst delivered a strike to her face so swift, she couldn't even detect it. Myst continued to deliver blow after blow to the girl's exposed head, knocking her around yet again.

“Give up!” Myst shouted. “You can't even defend against me!”

Latoshi clenched his teeth in frustration. “Come on, Mitoshi! Fight back!”

As the girl shouted and stumbled around, all she could think of was training with her brothers. All of their praise and the remarks they made about her having just as much power and skill as they did seemed less and less true with every blow she took. Tears welled in her eyes, knowing her brothers were watching her fail before their eyes. She wasn't living up to anyone's expectations — especially her own.

The agony in her heart mixed with her undying determination to cause her spirit energy to explode in a moment of furious passion. She screamed at the top of her lungs as her aura burst, raged, and burned around her; irises burning bright behind her determined glare. Myst was staggered briefly by the shock wave of energy, but overall ignored the seemingly pointless light show. That is, until the point when Mitoshi suddenly grabbed her arm to block another punch, bringing the young woman to a sudden, shocked halt. Myst grunted, struggling in vain as Mitoshi kept an unbelievably powerful grip on her arm. The younger girl swiftly got behind her, yanking her arm behind her back with one hand. Mitoshi wrapped her other arm around Myst's throat and her legs around Myst's stomach, bringing her down to the ground in a forceful choke hold.

Antoshi and Latoshi's faces lit up with excitement.

“Yes!” Latoshi exclaimed quietly.

Myst grunted and strained, wringing her hand against the firm hold Mitoshi had on her.

“Just stop fighting and go to sleep,” Mitoshi said as they struggled together.

“Let me go,” Myst said, her voice strained, “… or you're going to regret it.”

“Not … a chance!” Mitoshi shot back.

The circular yellow marks on Myst's cheeks began to glow bright, followed by a loud, crackling bang. Mitoshi's eyes went as wide as they could, electricity surging around them both and tore through her — a voltage powerful enough to be visible around them for an extended period. Mitoshi's body twitched and jerked as the air was ripped from her lungs. Myst quickly freed herself from Mitoshi's grasp as the girl's entire body went limp. She panted in shallow gasps, staring blankly at the sky. Her eyes remained wide open, her body continuing to twitch from the aftershock of the electricity.

Both brothers were awe-struck by what they witnessed. “Mitoshi!” they exclaimed together in concern. The blue-haired girl suddenly snapped back to her senses, holding a hand out at them in reassurance.

“I'm fine,” she sputtered, slowly getting back to her feet and met Myst's gaze. “Just … got caught off-guard.”

Myst stared at the girl with a slight hint of surprise from behind her stoic expression. “That was enough amperage to kill a regular person a hundred times over,” she said, grabbing the trio's attention. “Your tenacity, speed, and strength are the real deal. You certainly are as capable as you said you were.” Electricity crackled from her cheek pouches. “However, 'capable' won't be enough to take me down.”

Mitoshi narrowed her eyes at her foe. She brought both hands up, aiming them at Myst while charging a much larger blast of Ki than before. Just as she fired the attack, Myst countered with powerful burst of electricity. It brought the bright blue mass of spirit energy to a halt before exploding violently into a cloud of smoke. Mitoshi was stunned in the moment before she was struck by another surge of electricity from afar. She screamed in pain, her body paralyzed with pain. As the attack finished, Mitoshi groaned weakly as she dropped to her knees.

“I already told you,” Myst said, folding her arms across her chest, “this doesn't need to continue. You're obviously outmatched. Give up now before you're harmed further.”

Mitoshi shook her head, glaring defiantly at Myst. “I am not outmatched. I'll prove it.”

Myst heaved a sigh of annoyance, letting her arms fall to her sides again. She took a deep breath before she raced at the girl, once again running in circles around her to continue her earlier maneuver. Mitoshi kept her stern gaze forward, focusing all of her attention to Myst's movements. Just as Myst threw the first punch, Mitoshi's body suddenly turned to water and shrunk down just enough to avoid the strike. Myst was shocked beyond words at the girl's startling transformation. The outline of Mitoshi's facial features shot her a grin, her body twisting and contorting in impossible ways to avoid subsequent hits. Her liquid body returned to normal just in time to grab Myst's arm with both of hers again, bringing Myst to another screeching halt. Mitoshi gave a shout as she threw Myst over her shoulder and into the distance.

Myst landed on her feet, sliding to a halt. She stood up straight, staring at the liquid girl in disbelief.

“What in the world?” she remarked. “What are you?”

Mitoshi smirked, now folding her arms over her chest. “Someone who's not outmatched by you,” she replied, her voice sounding as though she were underwater.

‘About time she used her water form ability,’ Latoshi communicated to his brother.

‘Yeah,’ Antoshi replied. ‘Now we know that Mitoshi's not the only one who can control an element. Looks like this group being part-Pokémon isn't just for show. Still think they're a bunch of 'fursuit wearers'?’

Latoshi sighed. ‘Look, I just said that to Celeste to rile her up; make her angry enough to throw off her focus. I know a thing or two about being in that state. It worked, though, since she start swinging at me blindly.’

‘Yeah, and you paid the price for it with your arm, some ribs, and a ton of cuts and bruises.’

‘Nothing I can't handle. Assuming we can make it out of this gauntlet alive, I'll heal up.’

With a grunt, Myst fired another blast of electricity at the girl, only for Mitoshi to quickly leap a few meters into the air to avoid it. Instead of coming back down, Mitoshi continued to hover in place, staring at her opponent. Myst was left stunned yet again at the girl's growing list of unexpected tricks. Mitoshi shouted, her lower body suddenly scrunching inward in order for her arms to elongate far enough to reach Myst. She grabbed the Raichu-like young woman by her ankles before ascending higher into the air with her. Myst shouted in shock, being thrown high over the girl's head before plummeting violently into the ground face-first. Myst continued to scream and shout as Mitoshi kept her grip on her and continued to relentlessly fling her up high and slam her back down.

‘She's gotten so good with her water ability,’ Latoshi remarked to his brother. ‘Did you ever see her pull this trick out before?’

‘I sure haven't,’
Antoshi replied, looking on in surprise. ‘I don't know what it was, but this fight awoke something inside her to push her to a new level of skill.’

While being thrown around like a rag doll, Myst suddenly lit up her entire body with electricity. The light surged all the way down Mitoshi's abnormally long arms and through her watery body — a spectacle bright enough to cause the two brothers to shield their eyes. Mitoshi came to a halt with Myst laid face-down on the ground. Myst sighed in relief, pulling away from Mitoshi's flaccid grip and climbing back to her feet quickly. She turned to the girl with a bitter gaze, continuing to attack Mitoshi with more intense beams of electricity. Mitoshi groaned weakly, falling to a knee as the current circulated through her liquid frame.

“That was a mistake,” Myst said, as her attacks came to a halt. “Everyone knows that Electric-types hold the advantage over Water.” Mitoshi remained silent and motionless for a moment. “That probably hurt a lot more than when you were flesh and bone. Give up now and I promise to stop.”

“That's … the thing,” Mitoshi spoke, weakly. She looked up at Myst, flashing the girl a cocky grin. “This isn't a Pokémon battle, and your attacks don't hurt me at all!”

Mitoshi thrust her hands out at her sides. Myst stared in stunned confusion as, unbeknown to her, Mitoshi was controlling a couple of large chunks of snow in the distance on either side of her. She quickly clasped her hands together, causing the cold water that became of the melted snow to wrap around Myst's head like a bubble. Myst coughed, her eyes going wide, her fingers digging into the watery helmet. She struggled remove the prison of water that was drowning her. Mitoshi kept her expression stern, her hands remaining together, as Myst dropped to her knees. Myst clenched her eyes, shaking her head, desperate for air. Her cheek pouches surged with energy before letting off a blast of electricity so powerful it dissipated the water entirely. All three siblings were stunned by the sight, while Myst gasped and panted for air. Her eyes were bloodshot from the oxygen deprivation she suffered.

“That was … a good trick,” Myst sputtered, getting back to her feet. “You're right, my electric attacks haven't been harming you. So, I'll just have to increase the current.” With a loud shot, she began charging a field of electricity around her. She suddenly fired off a far more powerful blast of electricity into Mitoshi's left leg, vaporizing it, before shattering part of a large tree in the near distance behind her.

The trio of siblings had little time to be startled at the turn of events, as Myst followed up with subsequent electrical attacks that rattled off with intensely loud bangs, almost like thunderclaps. The end result left Mitoshi as a floating head and torso, devoid of limbs. Mitoshi trembled in fear. Despite registering no pain from it, she knew she was left in a dire situation.

“Enough … is enough,” Myst said, heaving a sigh as she caught her breath. “Final warning — stand down now, or I'll make you cease to exist. I don't want to do this, but you've left me with no choice.”

Mitoshi clenched her liquid jaw, looking around for a way out. She had no limbs, and therefore no hands to control nearby sources of water. Her eyes shifted back and forth, coming up with no plan that could save her. The girl's gaze faltered, left with nothing but surrender. Being in her water form took a constant strain on her reserve of spirit energy. She needed to get to a source of water very soon to regenerate herself, or risk suffering through an agonizing and gruesome death when her body ultimately returned to normal.

“Well?” Myst asked. “What's it going to be?” The young woman's cheeks threateningly surged with electricity for a brief moment.

‘It's all right, Mitoshi,’ Antoshi communicated with her. She turned around to see him smiling warmly at her. ‘You did an amazing job. There's no shame in retreat. We need you to keep yourself alive. Let me take care of this from here, okay?’

Despite the girl's inability to feel pain, she most certainly felt the sinking heartache that came from knowing she had gotten so close to triumph in her first fight, only to blow it and come up short at the very end. She wanted so badly to prove to her brothers that she was able to carry her own weight without having to burden them. Her right shoulder twitched as she clenched the fist of a phantom limb. With a heavy heart, she turned her attention back to Myst.

“I'm— … I …” she began, before trailing off. She had an inquisitive expression as she idly gazed up at the dark clouds overhead. Her eyes followed the mass of clouds, looking to the falling snow in the far distance. She thought for a moment, as a light bulb went off in her head.

‘This is going to be one heck of a long shot,’ Mitoshi communicated to both of her brothers. ‘If it doesn't work out, well, … I love you both!!’

Antoshi and Latoshi were confused as to what she was implying, turning to each other with equally dumbfounded expressions.

“Stop stalling!” Myst shouted. “I don't know what moves you think you have left, but it's over for you! Now, do — you — surrender!?”

“I refuse!” Mitoshi shouted, defiantly, before launching herself high into the air. All eyes turned to the girl as she went for one final play.

Myst growled in rage, making good on her threat to end the girl's life by firing off several blasts of potent electricity. One of the attacks struck her torso, completely evaporating it on contact. The girl was left as nothing more than a floating head, her long, liquid hair waving as she rocketed toward the clouds above. Her blue aura exploded around her, increasing her speed significantly in a pinch. Myst's eyes flinched with each electric shot she wildly let off.

‘Damn!’ Myst thought, bringing her attacks to a halt. ‘She's too small and too far for me to possibly hit now. Just what is this girl thinking?’ Myst turned her attention to the two brothers, who were still staring at the clouds overhead. Both of them continued to sense Mitoshi's energy, even after she entered the clouds and disappeared from sight. “Hey!” she said to the two, grabbing their attention. “What is your sister doing? Has she given up?”

“I couldn't tell you,” Antoshi replied, looking back up at the sky. “Whatever she's up to, she's left us in the dark as well.”

Latoshi's attention shifted upward as well. A moment later, the brothers sensed Mitoshi's energy coming back down to the ground. However, she was invisible somehow. That was, until a coin-sized drop of hail hit the ground between the three of them. The brothers sensed Mitoshi's energy inside of it, both of them jogging over to check on it. Myst was totally confused as Antoshi scooped up the piece of hail into his hand.

‘Mitoshi?’ Antoshi communicated with her. Both he and Latoshi were stunned to see Mitoshi's Ki projecting a faint image of the girl's body inside the piece of hail, smiling and waving to them.

‘Stand back!’ Mitoshi said to her brothers, startling them. ‘Both of you! You don't want to get caught up in this!’

They did as she asked, distancing themselves from the Raichu-like young woman. She had the most perplexed expression on her face, all of them turning her attention upward once more. A massive downpour of icy hail, each containing part of Mitoshi's Ki, plummeted to the earth at an abnormally rapid pace. Myst shouted in pain as the first piece of hail struck her forehead with enough force to be comparable to a punch from the superpowered girl. She groaned in disbelief, holding a hand to her forehead, witnessing a trickle of blood on her fingers. Her eyes went wide in shock, seeing the girl's visage in the rest of the oncoming hail, just as her brothers did earlier. By the time she realized what was happening, it was too late.

Myst was suddenly showered with a gigantic barrage of countless hail that rattled her body and knocked her around with tremendous force. She shouted endlessly in agony, her eyes clenched shut, unable to defend against the innumerable attacks. Each one carried the girl's tiny voice, shouting, laughing, letting out battle cries. It was beyond anything she or the boys could've imagined Mitoshi coming up with. By the time the showering attack was finished, Myst was left barely standing, groaning quietly in pain and shock, her face and arms bloodied. She fell to her knees before dropping unconscious, face-down on the ground.

The two brothers watched in stunned silence as the bits of hail came to life, pulling together with a mind of their own and melted into water. The liquid shape of Mitoshi's body steadily reformed itself before their eyes. The girl turned back to normal, in a silly pose with one leg up and an arm up high, sticking her tongue out at the boys.

“That was … unreal,” Antoshi remarked in awe. Mitoshi giggled in response, walking over to them with a content smile.

“Wow, Mitoshi,” Latoshi said, his lips curling into a grin, “that was one hell of a move you pulled out. I wish I was half as clever as you are.”

“Thanks,” she replied, with a weak chuckle. She groaned as she suddenly fell to a knee.

“Hey, you okay?” Latoshi asked, as he and his brother rushed to her side.

Mitoshi grinned and nodded. “Yeah, just … feeling really beat. That last-ditch effort really wiped out my spirit energy.”

“Just rest now,” Antoshi replied, smiling, “you've earned it. You did way more than we could've ever expected.” He and Latoshi helped her to her feet.

“Yeah,” Latoshi added, holding his broken arm again, “that was a big, first real fight for you to be in.”

“'First'?” Mitoshi asked, with a cheeky smirk.

Latoshi rolled his eyes. “Okay, that nonsense against me on Mt. Mortar doesn't count.” Both of his siblings laughed quietly in response.

“Well,” Mitoshi remarked, heaving a sigh, “at least we know now that there's only one guy left: … their leader.”

“Same as our side,” Latoshi replied. Their gazes turned to Antoshi, who stood with a firm look on his face as he stared toward the swirling, icy vortex before them. “You're still going to try to avoid a fight, aren't you, Antoshi?” The blond-haired boy sighed and nodded.

“Their leader, Ken, might be willing to listen to reason,” Antoshi said. “… Then again, this whole plan was his idea. He may just be the most stubborn out of all of them.”

“We're here for you, Antoshi,” Mitoshi said. “We'll back you up as much as we can.” Latoshi nodded in agreement.

“I'll be all right,” he replied. “The two of you went through grueling battles of your own so that the others could conserve our strength in case we ran into more of them. It's only right I return the favor to you now.”

“Yeah, well,” Latoshi said, smirking confidently, “if either of us think you're in trouble, we're not going to hesitate to jump in and help.”

Antoshi turned and smirked back at him. “I wouldn't expect anything less.”

The three of them turned their attention to the vortex, knowing the final battle to end the deadly summertime blizzard stood before them.