Intervention After being viciously beaten and nearly killed, a bitter Antoshi is driven by revenge. However, he soon meets a young woman that reveals a surprising revelation about the memory-deprived Latoshi. Author Notes 1) This is the third story in a series. 'A Blond Ray of Sunshine' is the first and 'Sibling Rivalry' is the second. You can choose whether or not to read those first — it's totally up to you. 2) All general replies (“nice story”, “can't wait for the next chapter”) are cool, and welcomed, and appreciated. I love hearing all feedback so feel free to drop me a short comment! Constructive criticism is very much encouraged. I'm always looking to better my writing and make each story more entertaining and engaging. If you notice any errors — grammar, punctuation, plot — please do bring them up. You have the power to help shape this story into something even better! Thanks in advance for giving this story a read. I truly hope you enjoy it! Genre: Action/Adventure/Supernatural Rating: T - Violence and Mild Language New chapter updates: Every Wednesday ***** Chapter 1 A scream, echoing in the forest. The sounds of explosions around him. The smell of blood. Wracking pain. The image of his Typhlosion, Fireball, near death. ‘Fireball, no!’ he cried out. Latoshi's laugh echoed all around him. The sable-haired boy's sneering expression was so clear — cold, vicious, methodical. “Join me, Antoshi,” Latoshi said. “Let's make this world so much better by cleansing it of evil.” “I already know how to make the world better,” Antoshi spat, “by cleansing it of you!” He and Latoshi shouted as they rushed toward each other. Antoshi gasped, jolting back to reality. He remembered where he was: the hotel room they were staying, far away from the site of the battle between him and Latoshi. Only a couple of days had passed since 13-year-old Antoshi's fight with Latoshi. He'd not gotten much sleep since then; relegated to passing daydreams. His thoughts had been consuming him and drawing him into dreamlike dazes. Each daydream caused him to relive the horrors of their fight time and time again. The brutal extent of their confrontation rendered him unable to think about much else. Sitting the edge of a messy bed, he looked over at Fireball. The Typhlosion stood staring out through the room's large windows, high above eastern Goldenrod City. It was a bleak afternoon; the sky cloudy and overcast. The duo opted to lay low for a while, keeping put in their room. Their exploration of the city — and their Johto journey as a whole — was on hold. The mood between them had been abnormally quiet and somber as of late. ‘What is this power inside of me?’ Antoshi thought. ‘Why? … Why was I given this?’ "So," Fireball said, turning to face his friend, "Latoshi … broke my Poké Ball?" “Yeah,” Antoshi replied. He looked down at a new, unblemished Poké Ball in his hands, slowly rotating it. “I should've stopped him. I should've … done more to make sure that you weren't hurt, and that your Poké Ball was safe.” Fireball took a seat on a second bed just across from Antoshi. His gaze met with Antoshi's brown eyes. "Antoshi, you can't blame yourself over this…." “I can't help it. I know I'm the only one who can stop him.” The Typhlosion turned his pained gaze to the floor. "That's why you went out earlier and bought a new Poké Ball," Fireball remarked with a weak chuckle. "After I saw you with it, I thought maybe … you were ready to get back on the road. I thought you were planning to catch a new Pokémon for the first time, or … maybe even a bunch of new Pokémon." “I can't get back to traveling yet. I have to deal with Latoshi first.” "I know, but … what? What can we do? You heard him before, he kept saying he had all this training and experience. He … he beat you … badly." Antoshi cut his eyes at Fireball. “I know he beat me, Fireball,” he said, raising his voice, “you don't have to keep reminding me, okay?” "I—I'm sorry, Antoshi. I didn't mean to …" he trailed off, unable to find the words. The mood turned quiet again for a short time. Fireball sighed, looking at the Poké Ball in Antoshi's hands. He reached out and grabbed it, smiling to his friend. Fireball's body was quickly reduced to a reddish light, pulled into the open ball before it promptly snapped shut. Antoshi gazed at it, the ball gently wobbling. The front button glowed red and blinked for a moment. Once it stopped glowing, the new home of his best friend and only Pokémon was officially sealed. The blond-haired boy sighed, staring blankly. He pondered for a moment, hesitating to let Fireball out again. He placed the ball on the bed and walked away. ‘I'm not going to fight you,’ he recalled saying to Latoshi. ‘Good!’ Latoshi had replied back. ‘That'll make killing you so much easier.’ Antoshi got into a fighting stance, raising his fists. He grunted, throwing a few straight punches in the blink of an eye. He expressed bitterness, gazing forward. He found himself back in the forest, envisioning Latoshi standing before him with the same arrogant smile. ‘Well, so much for this little fight you decided to put up,’ Latoshi had said to him. ‘It was okay, but in the end the person with any real training won here.’ Antoshi narrowed his eyes, Latoshi's words sinking in. He stood up straight, eyes widening at the spark of an epiphany. He grabbed Fireball's Poké Ball and held it out to finally release him. Fireball materialized, sitting on the bed again. "Um," Fireball began, "should I … ask why you waited to let me back out?" Antoshi had a stern expression upon his face before he turned away. “Come on, Fireball,” he said, heading for the door. “Let's get going.” "Oh. Okay, sure," Fireball replied with some confusion, following Antoshi as they exited the room. The mood continued to be unusually quiet and tense. Antoshi had become somewhat distant toward Fireball ever since the fight with Latoshi. A gloomy air hung over the boy. Outside of their hotel, Antoshi marched eastward through the city streets toward an unknown destination. His irises glowed brightly with the red hue of his spirit energy, eyes fueled with determination. Fireball remained behind his friend as opposed to his typical designation by the boy's side. Soon, the city's Gym came into view. Fireball's eyes lit up, gasping in elation. "Here it is! Goldenrod City Gym!" Fireball stopped in front of the white pathway leading to the doors of the large, yellowish building with an eager grin upon his face. "Man, I can't wait to—" He looked over to his friend, but Antoshi was still walking away. Fireball quickly chased after him. "Antoshi? The Gym's over here!" “We're not going to the Gym.” Fireball was stunned. "… Oh. Where are we going?" “Just follow me,” he said flatly. “I'll explain later.” "Oh, uh, all right then…" Fireball replied, nervously fidgeting with his claws. *** Once they reached the wooded outskirts of the city, Antoshi led Fireball into the first open clearing he found. A small flock of Starly flew off upon his arrival. He finally came to a halt. Fireball was surprised, curiously staring at him. Antoshi took a slow look around. The environment was similar to that of the battle with Latoshi. The memories again came flooding back to him. ‘Let's just call that a … 'parting shot',’ Latoshi said. ‘You have a lot to think about after this ordeal. But, I believe you'll find it wise to reconsider my offer.’ "So, … what are we doing out here in the woods?" Fireball asked, bringing Antoshi back to reality. “Training,” Antoshi replied calmly. "Oh, sweet!" Fireball remarked with a relieved sigh. "You know, you had me worried for a sec' there. I'll bet you want to make sure we're strong enough to beat all of the Johto Gyms, huh?" “We're not training you, Fireball,” Antoshi replied. Fireball was left confused once again. The boy stretched out his neck and rubbed his hands together. “I'm the one who's getting training.” "… Huh?" Fireball uttered, bewildered. Antoshi turned around to face his friend, stepping a few paces back. “Come at me,” Antoshi said. “I want you to attack me just like you'd attack an opponent.” Fireball's jaw hung in disbelief. "Antoshi … what? What are you asking me here? I can't … hit you. You're not my opponent — you're my best friend." “We don't have time for this, Fireball!” Antoshi shouted, causing the larger than average Typhlosion to jump. “Every second we waste, Latoshi is out there getting stronger. He's scheming, plotting, waiting to attack us again. He could very well be watching us right now.” "Antoshi …" Fireball said. "Is this … really the right call? Are you really going to try to fight him again?" “This is the only thing I can think of, Fireball. I don't know exactly what Latoshi's training consists of, but the fact is that he did beat me … badly. Just like you said earlier. I thought that my powers were strong enough for me to do anything. I could fly, I could pick up cars, but Latoshi's power … it was on a whole different level I couldn't even comprehend.” "I thought that you wanted to try to … well, talk him out of this whole, err, whatever it was he's trying to accomplish." Antoshi laughed weakly. “We're probably way past being able to talk things over with him at this point. The only language Latoshi understands is power.” He spread his stance a bit, loosening himself up. “Now, let's train. Come at me.” Fireball looked at his friend with a deep concern in his eyes. He sighed, looking away for a moment before nodding in acknowledgment. Fireball made the first charge at Antoshi. He growled and swiped a claw at his chest. His attack completely missed, however, as Antoshi had already maneuvered behind him. Fireball turned around, eyes wide with surprise. “Come on, Fireball,” he said with a perturbed expression. “I know you and your strength better than anyone. You're holding back already. Don't. I can take whatever you dish out at me. And, well, if I can't … I think you know what that means.” "Yeah, … that's what I'm most afraid of." “There's no time for us to be worrying about 'what if's. Now, stop messing around and strike!” Fireball hesitated for a moment. “Fireball, use Rolling Fireball!” Fireball was shocked. Antoshi took a few paces back and gestured for him to come forth. With a bitter growl, Fireball rolled himself into a ball. He revved in place like a spinning tire. The fires on his back came to life and ignited his entire frame. He took off in an instant. Antoshi's eyes glowed bright red, clenching his teeth. He leapt over Fireball's first attack. The Typhlosion quickly spun around to come at him again with greater speed than before. He side-stepped the next pass, and the one after it. After which, Fireball's speed continued to increase to a phenomenal pace. Antoshi braced himself, holding both hands out. He grabbing the spinning Typhlosion, his feet digging into the ground from the impact. The intense flames seared at his hands. He strained with effort, being pushed back by the force of Fireball's attack. However, he managed to slow Fireball's momentum to a complete halt. The flames on Fireball's back went out. Antoshi took a few steps back. Fireball leapt up into a standing position. "You okay, Antoshi?" he asked. Antoshi calmly inspected the ash collected on the flesh of his trembling palms before patting them clean. His skin had ended up raw and red from the heat of the flames. “Yeah,” he replied with a slight chuckle. “Luckily.” Fireball smiled in response. "That was definitely not … something a normal person should be able to do." “Almost nothing over the past few months has really been 'normal' for me, … no matter how much I wish it were.” "We don't have to do this whole 'training' thing." Antoshi shook his head. “Latoshi … threatened your life, he threatened mine. … He even threatened Mom and Dad.” His expression turned bitter, staring at his clenched fists. “I can't let anything happen to my family — not when I have the ability to protect them.” "He could've just been bluffing." “And what if he wasn't?” he shot back, surprising Fireball. “You saw him just as well as I did, Fireball — he's insane! He hears voices in his head that tell him to … to go out and–and murder people? No, I have to stop him. I'm the only one that can. That has to be why I kept having those dreams about him and what he did to Fern Town. I know if I try hard enough, I can find the strength to beat him. I have to do this.” He closed his eyes and sighed in defeat. “I have to.” Fireball turned his gaze away, unable to offer a response. Antoshi looked over at his friend with a serious expression. “Now, come at me with Return.” Fireball's eyes widened. "You want me to use Return on … my Trainer?" Antoshi scoffed and grinned slightly. “I'm aware of the irony in that.” Antoshi guarded his face with his forearms. “Keep on hitting me and don't hold back.” Fireball shook his head and groaned. He narrowed his eyes before taking aim, swinging at Antoshi with enough force to stagger the boy back. Antoshi clenched his teeth, grunting through the powerful strikes. The pain was echoed in his expression and his glowing irises. ‘I've been too coddled,’ Antoshi thought. ‘I've never had to fight for myself. I've always depended on Fireball or my parents, ever since I was a child. I can't be a child anymore. I can't sit by and let everyone else take care of my problems for me — not when Latoshi is out there threatening the lives of others.’ He shut his eyes tight, his arms glowing bright with his red energy. ‘Latoshi was right. I can use my power for good, to do great things in the world. Now, I'm going to use them … to put an end Latoshi's madness….’ *** Antoshi was not the only one focused on training, however. At the southern end of Goldenrod City, not far from where they had fought, Latoshi was also honing his skills within the seclusion of the woods. He stood still, his eyes closed, breathing calmly. His blackish aura gently fluctuated around him. There were no Pokémon anywhere near him. The ones that did show themselves quickly fled after gazing upon his ominous, dark energy. 'Now,' Lazarus instructed him. His eyes shot open — irises shimmering black. He brought his clenched fists up and gave a long shout. His aura flared wildly, extending further out around his body. 'Concentrate,' Lazarus said. The boy's expression turned bitterly serious. A large multitude of energy orbs, each about the size of his fists, suddenly burst from Latoshi's aura and hovered around him. Latoshi broke his focus to look all around at them in awe. “Whoa,” he said. “That's unreal.” He brought a hand up, which caused some of the orbs on that side to move up in time. He gasped, waving his hands around, prompting the orbs to do the same. He smirked confidently, thrusting both hands forward. The energy he'd summoned responded by shooting out in front of him. He kept his sense of amazement as his attack violently exploded on contact with the trees and ground. Once the dust had settled, a flat clearing of earth lay before him. Everything for several dozens of meters had been completely ravaged to nothing. 'Impressive. You successfully improvised a new technique. Your fight with Antoshi strengthened your abilities far quicker than your meditation ever could. You truly have excellent potential, Latoshi.' He curiously gazed down at his hands. “I don't feel much stronger,” he remarked, summoning some of his energy to his clenched fists. 'Of course not,' Lazarus snapped. Latoshi furred his brow in concern. Lazarus quickly lightened his tone. 'This is your new baseline of power. It would not feel any different for you.' “Well, if you say so.” Latoshi put his hands in his pockets and casually strolled through the destruction he'd wrought. “So, where do I go from here?” 'As I have told you, your power is limitless.' “Yeah, … you have said that,” he replied with disinterest. 'Is something wrong?' “I just keep— … err, never mind.” 'Tell me. I will not have you keep secrets.' “It's … about Antoshi. I keep thinking about when we met, and the things he's said and … I don't— I mean, I just want to talk to him again.” 'You are not to speak to him. There is nothing that needs to be said to him, and nothing he could say will ever matter.' “But, if I could just—” Latoshi was interrupted by a piercing noise ringing out in his head again — Lazarus' punishment system against him. He let out a scream of agonizing pain, covering his ears, falling to his knees. 'I told you not to disobey me anymore, did I not?' Lazarus calmly spoke over the horrible noise. Latoshi gasped as the noise suddenly stopped. He panted quietly for a moment, scowling. “I don't think that's necessary to get your point across,” he remarked. 'Let me tell you what is 'necessary': you putting your full faith in me. I will not lead you astray. Antoshi is weak — he is unskilled, and a coward. You are none of those things. I have already proven my loyalty to you. Now, you must do the same.' Latoshi's gaze was fully focused on the ground as he settled into a sitting position with his legs folded. 'No distractions. Nothing will stop us from our goal. Nothing. Is that understood?' “Yes, Lazarus,” Latoshi replied quietly. 'Very good. Now, return to your meditation. You are to continue honing your new abilities until they are as sharp as a sword.' Latoshi closed his eyes, heaving a sigh before he returned to his training. *** A day later, there were a few small breaks in the heavily clouded sky. The duo's roles had reversed as they continued to train in the woods. Antoshi was on the offensive, while Fireball dodged away from each of Antoshi's punches and kicks. He was struggling to land a strike on his battle-hardened Pokémon, yet remained ever persistent. As they pressed on, Antoshi's speed gradually began to make significant progress. That improvement came with an intensifying red glow in his eyes, which was brought about by the memories of Latoshi that haunted him constantly. ‘You're way too emotional — you cry all the time like a little baby,’ Latoshi remarked in his memory. ‘Killing you seems like a waste of energy now.’ Antoshi was still not able to tag his target. The constant failure was wearing on him. He gave a frustrated yell as his red aura exploded to life around his body. In an instant, he grabbed Fireball by his throat and pinned him to the ground with a violent slam. "Antoshi!" Fireball strained. “You think I'm a crybaby?!” Antoshi shouted, enraged. He reared a fist back that burned with the energy of his aura. “Let's see how funny it is when I make you cry!” "Antoshi, please, stop!" Fireball exclaimed. Antoshi's eyes widened as he snapped back to reality. He quickly let go of Fireball, his jaw hanging in disbelief. “Fireball, I'm … so sorry. I …” "It's all right, Antoshi," he reassured his friend. He and Antoshi sat down in front of each other. The boy was crestfallen. "We've been training like this for hours. Maybe … we should take a break for now. Besides, it's a miracle that nobody's come by here yet and saw you darting around like a bullet." “Maybe,” he replied, his voice low. He was unable to look his friend in the eye. “I'm really sorry, Fireball.” "I know, Antoshi. This whole 'Latoshi' thing is getting to you. Why don't we just, you know, go and get something to eat?" Antoshi grinned and scoffed in amusement. “You never miss a chance for food,” he joked. Fireball grinned in response. “Still, food sounds good right about now.” The two of them stood up, idly brushing at the dirt and scuff marks littering their bodies. "You got a little something right here," Fireball remarked, pointing at some mud under Antoshi's eye. “Oh, I do, huh?” Antoshi smirked, rubbing his cheek, smearing the mud around. “Did I get it?” Fireball chortled. "Yep, you're fine," he replied, stifling a laugh. Antoshi grinned and sighed. “I guess that means we should go get cleaned up before we eat,” he said as he and Fireball began to walk away. “Better call Mom and Dad, too. They probably want to know what we're up to in Goldenrod.” In the shadows of the nearby trees stood the mysterious girl with long, brunette hair that had healed Antoshi's injuries. She smiled warmly, watching the two as they ended their training session for the day. She turned and headed off in her own direction. *** After having cleaned up and eaten, the duo headed back to their hotel room. Antoshi appeared visibly nervous as he sat in front of the videophone afforded to them in their room. Fireball stood behind him as usual. Both of them did their best to put up a convincing front while the phone dialed Antoshi's parents. “There's our amazing Pokémon Trainer!” his mother greeted him just as the call connected. Both she and his father waved to them. “Hi, Mom. Hi Dad,” Antoshi replied, offering his parents an embarrassed grin. “Ooh, I'll bet the two of you are enjoying the sights as usual, huh?” she asked. “Are the Trainers there tough?” his father chimed in. “Yes, and … ah, yes,” he replied with a nervous chuckle. “Fireball and I have been really distracted here in Goldenrod.” Fireball nodded. “Well, Goldenrod is as big as Saffron City, so you two will have tons of things to do and see there!” his mother said. “How's the food?” his father asked. “It's great. Fireball and I really enjoyed the—” Antoshi recalled his memory of being in the ice cream shoppe with Latoshi. “The, um, ice cream,” he added with a convincing smile. Fireball appeared surprised at the remark. “I just wanted to tell both of you that we'll probably be in Goldenrod for a little while longer. We're busy training, and I don't feel like we're anywhere near ready to challenge the Gym here yet.” Fireball nodded again. “Oh, that's perfectly fine, Antoshi! Have fun and take all the time you want there. Just remember to keep in touch with us. Your father and I just want you and Fireball to have a wonderful time and remember all the experiences you have in Johto.” “I'm definitely going to remember everything,” he responded with a worried chuckle as his eyes faltered away. “Antoshi?” his mother spoke up, grabbing his attention. “Is everything all right? You seem more distracted than usual.” “Oh, I … I don't know, I guess I just feel a little homesick. I've been thinking about both of you a lot lately.” “Being homesick is very unlike you, son,” his father said. “Even still, it's no problem. Anytime you want to come home just let us know and we'll set it up for you, okay?” “Thanks, Dad,” he replied with a grin. “I really appreciate you both being there for me.” “Love you!” his mother said. “See you soon!” his father added. Antoshi and Fireball both waved to his parents before the call ended. As the screen went blank, Antoshi hung his head down with a heavy sigh. "Are you okay, Antoshi?" Fireball asked quietly. Antoshi pondered a response for a moment as he rhythmically drummed his fingers across the videophone's desk. He scoffed in amusement. “I'm lying to my parents.…” he muttered. “All to keep this secret. All to keep them from worrying about me. All because I'm worried about them getting hurt. … It's kind of funny when you think about it.” Fireball did not take his concerned gaze off of his friend. Antoshi shook his head. “I hate this feeling, Fireball. I just want this nightmare to be over….” "So do I," Fireball said, placing a reassuring claw on his friend's shoulder. "But … what do we do?" “Stick to my initial plan. We have to train — I have to train. I have to get much better than I am now if I want to stand a chance against Latoshi.” Fireball sighed in defeat, his claw falling away. "Are you sure?" “Definitely,” Antoshi replied as he got to his feet and stretched. "Do you want me to train with you again?" Antoshi turned to his friend with a smile. “I know how uncomfortable you are with this. You don't have to come with me, Fireball. I'll figure something out sooner or later. … I always do.” "Should I … stay here and wait for you to come back?" “Feel free to hang out wherever you like,” Antoshi replied with a chuckle. “Just … don't go too far, okay?” "You don't think I might get kidnapped by Team Rocket again, do you?" Fireball joked. “I want to believe it's unlikely. Still, you're a rare Pokémon, Fireball — the kind that Trainers would jump at the chance to catch.” "I understand." “By the way, I may have heard there's a buffet happening in the lobby of the hotel today.” Fireball's eyes lit up like fireworks at the very thought of buffet eating. He quickly headed for the door, pushing Antoshi in front of him. "Just look at the time, Antoshi! You're losing sunlight here! Better get to that training right away!" Antoshi laughed as they headed into the hallway. “Fireball! I don't even have my shoes on!” Fireball quickly reached back in to grab the boy's shoes and shut the door behind him. *** That night, Latoshi was intensely focused on his meditation with his dark aura calmly flickering around him. As per Lazarus' instructions, he performed mental exercises. He envisioned himself in the midst of a violent struggle with Antoshi. They fought in the same location as their initial battle, both of them ducking and weaving through the trees, steadily making their way toward each other. Antoshi was fast. Latoshi snapped his head from side to side to keep his mind's eye on him. Antoshi threw the first punch, but Latoshi was swift enough to block it. Latoshi clenched his teeth as Antoshi followed up with a kick to his chest hard enough to stumble him back. 'Yes, that is good,' Lazarus said to him. 'You must prepare for Antoshi's inevitable return. You must be wary that he will likely be stronger than before. But, also know that he can never defeat you — not with my guidance.' Latoshi smirked confidently. In his vision, he produced the same mass of hovering energy orbs around him as before. Antoshi appeared shocked. 'Perfect. The element of surprise will be key. Let him believe he has the upper hand, and then … strike!' Latoshi launched his attack at Antoshi, who attempted to shield himself. Just as the blasts were about to connect, a voice suddenly broke his concentration. “Cory!” a woman called out in the distance. Latoshi's eyes shot open in surprise. He turned toward the source, his eyes slowly scanning the nearby woods. No one was there. He looked around while getting to his feet. “Cory!” he heard again, behind him. He turned around, finding nobody once again. “Who's there?” he called back. He waited for a short time, but no one appeared. ‘What the hell was that?’ he thought. ‘Am I hearing voices … again? Was it some kind of memor—’ His eyes went wide with shock. ‘Am I— … am I remembering something? Something from my past? …’ 'Focus yourself, Latoshi,' Lazarus said. 'Do not break away from your training unless I tell you to.' “Lazarus, I … I think I just had a memory come back to me,” he said with an eager grin. “I think … I just might be remembering my past.” 'You must not dwell on trivial things,' Lazarus replied. 'Your training and the rise of your power are the most important—' “Wait a minute,” Latoshi quickly cut him off. “You told me before that my memories would come back in time. Now that they may be starting to, … why are you so eager to distract me from them? I thought you would at least pretend to be happy for me.” 'Because you do not have time to reflect on the past,' he said, becoming noticeably angrier. 'Do not interrupt me again when I speak. Return to your training — is that clear? Or shall I remind you of what happens when you disobey me?' Lazarus' question came with the creeping sound of low ringing in the boy's ears. He obliged Lazarus once more, returning to his meditative sitting position. 'Now, I will give you different scenarios for you to react to. You will continue your image training for the next four hours. Am I understood?' Latoshi scowled, bitterly pursing his lips. “Yes, Lazarus,” he replied.