Chapter 16: Dominion Advances
Space distorted. Warped as a force nudged aside everything within range of it to create a void. That void was when filled with a flash of violet light as Elio stood there, his body eclipsed by the outstretched pinions of the Moone Pokémon as the Teleport was complete.
Touching down, the Champion found himself at the entrance of Diglett’s Tunnel at the south end of Heahea City. The pavement road turned sharply and gave way to one made of grass and dirt. It would lead into the heart of the tunnel carved into the mountains that split it off from the coastal city of merchants, Konikoni.
“Piii…” Nebby growled as she peered into the darkness.
“Yeah, I know,” Elio said. He didn’t need Rotom to translate the fact that Nebby wasn’t comfortable in such a confined space. “Return to your ball for now. I’ll leave it in an active state, so you can stay aware of the situation.”
Though it wasn’t necessary, all things considered. Maybe it was because Nebby’s species was once that of an Ultra Beast if those legends in the Library were anything to go by, but even if her ball was in an inactive state she could get out if she wanted. But for now, she allowed herself to be Returned.
“That was fast,” a feminine voice drew his eyes. He turned to see that Olivia was approaching him from behind, the short-sleeved jacket draping her torso rustling with every step she took. “I expected you to take a little longer to get ready.”
“I’ve been expecting the call since yesterday, so I was ready to go just in case it appeared somewhere with a larger population,” he explained as Rotom poked its antenna out of his backpack. Taking into consideration what he knew, he had already swapped out his team to be able to deal with the threat a Nihilego presented. “The tunnel wasn’t one of them, though. That could be a problem.”
Olivia nodded slowly as her dark brown eyes folded in. “Judging from the damage at the Golf Course, there’s a strong risk of a cave-in should it unleash that level of power here. However, it’s better that a confrontation occurs here rather than one of the cities. I’ve already gone ahead and evacuated the workers in the cave, but…”
She then turned her gaze to him and her eyes softened. “I’ll be coming with you. Not that you aren’t capable, but there’s no sense in letting you take the risk on your own.”
“I don’t mind, but will you be alright if there is a cave-in?” he asked. Nebby could connect with his thoughts, so if she sensed he was in danger she could teleport him out. And Rotom would stay in his backpack to hitch a ride and translate what was said, so he’d be ready in if it decided to attack.
“It’s sweet of you to worry, but I’ll be fine.” Olivia smiled. “Shall we head in then? If we manage to finish this quickly, we can stop by Mallow’s restaurant. I’ll treat you to a meal.”
That said, the Kahuna of Akala Island and Champion of Alola ventured into the tunnels carved out by man and pokémon. The dark caverns were illuminated by artificial lights, the sound of drilling off the beaten path absent and instead replaced by an unsettling quiet. It was almost haunting, really.
“Where to look?” he muttered to himself. Elio suspected the Nihilego was going to find him no matter what, given he was also a Faller. But, ideally, he should know where it would be coming from so it didn’t catch him by surprise.
“If it’s these caves then it would be best to ask would be a local pokémon,” Olivia said, prompting him to look over his shoulder to see the Kahuna looking around for something in the dark. She then smiled and called out in a sing-song tone, “Diglett, it’s Olivia.”
Elio shifted his gaze to the distance, where he could make out a trio of golden strands sticking out of the dirt that seemed to quiver as the sound waves reached it. The dirt around it parted as a half-buried Mole Pokémon stuck its head out, blinking while its hairs wobbled. “Dig?”
She waved it over. “Come here for a bit, will you?”
The tiny thing dove back into the ground, vanishing from sight entirely for a moment before popping back out right next to her. It then rubbed its head against her ankle affectionately. “Diglett!”
“It’s nice to see you too.” Olivia crouched down to carefully pet the tiny pokémon along its side before she pulled out a Big Root from her coat’s pocket and placed it down in front of the Alolan Diglett. “Can you help lead us to a pokémon that you haven’t seen in the tunnels before now?”
“Dig! Dig!” The Mole Pokémon bobbed its head before it grabbed the snack with its mouth and sank under the ground with only its hairs sticking out. Then the hairs began to move, the ground lightly upturned as it made a guiding path.
“Now we just have to follow it,” she said, taking the lead.
“I’m surprised it helped you out so willingly,” Elio admitted, following behind her. “They caused some trouble a little while ago, didn’t they?”
“The Kahuna not only serves as the link between the Tapus and the humans, but also the local pokémon,” she explained. “Adding to that, they help me when I search the tunnels to mine for jewels, fossils, and evolutionary stones. So, if there’s a foreign pokémon that’s been here for long, they’d know where.”
“That’ll be helpful,” he said. “If it comes down to it, I should be able to stop it from causing immense damage to their tunnels as well. Though I don’t think it’ll have the strength to fight back much, so if I can keep it calm I might be able to lure it into a ball.”
“I’ll trust whatever you have in mind. After all, none of us want to hurt them, but we can’t overlook the damage they can cause if left unchecked,” she said. In the end, to be a Kahuna meant acting in the best interest for both the humans and the pokémon. “That said, I haven’t had much luck in finding the ones that caused trouble here before so far.”
She nodded. “There were two of them. Tapu Lele and I drove them off after a hard battle, but there’s been no signs of them so far. Without access to the Pokémon Centers, most likely they’re recovering from their battles in hiding, like the one that attacked the Golf Course.”
“In which case they’ll be active soon,” Elio guessed. In the end, he might have to look around the islands just to see if he could draw them out before they attacked again.
The talking tapered off there as they continued following the Alolan Diglett until it brought them to a section of the tunnels Elio hadn’t been to before. If he had to guess, it was somewhere away from the excavating and machinery, where it would be quieter. A place where the Nihilego could recover from the beating it took.
“It’s up ahead then?” she asked, earning a nod from the Mole Pokémon. Olivia then turned to Elio. “Are you ready?”
“Yeah,” he told her before pressing ahead until he caught sight of it.
The Nihilego was almost like a deflated balloon. It was wobbling as it struggled to rise off the ground, the membrane of its bell looking crinkled and slowly inflating. Had it been sleeping until just now?
“Easy,” Elio said, taking slow steps forward. “I don’t want to hurt you. I’m here to help you. Can you understand me?”
A soft, undulating sound reached his ears in response as it warily drifted backwards from him.
It says its hurting, zzt.
Like he’d thought, between the Battle Aura and taking those hits from Guzma’s Pokémon, it was still injured and tired. If they left it alone, it would likely take a while to recover. He crouched low and set an Oran Berry down before backing up four steps. “Eat this. It’ll ease the pain.”
It warily remained in place, waiting to see if he’d approach regardless until he took three more steps back. Then it slowly drifted forward, the tips of its tentacles dragging along the hard-packed dirt until they brushed the berry. Lowering itself until it managed to bring the berry into its bell, the fruit began to dissolve within it.
Elio waited until it was completely dissolved before he crouched back down. Then he rolled another Oran Berry along the ground to it. He didn’t want to approach it just yet, but he made sure to roll it enough so that it was halfway between them. “You can have another, if you want.”
It approached cautiously and then picked it up this time with its lower set of tentacles, bringing the fruit into its bell once again. The berry dissolved even faster than before. Then a wet sound rang out when it was done eating, rippling on his ears as it warily observed him—asking for another one according to Rotom.
“You want to go home, right?” Elio asked as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a third Oran Berry. He moved the hand holding it around to make sure that the Ultra Beast was following it. “It’s uncomfortable here for you, isn’t it?”
The Nihilego said nothing, but the way its body shifted told him that it was interested. When he did a light, underhanded toss that was meant to come up just a bit short, the Parasite Pokémon reached out to grab the berry midair before dragging the berry into its bell. It was dissolved in no time at all and the Nihilego gently gurgled expectantly.
“Here’s a fourth one,” Elio told it, holding out another one without throwing it. The Nihilego made a begging noise, but he just held his hand out a little more to encourage it to come a little closer. It began floating over to him slowly in response and Elio felt Nebby’s ball shake.
Nebby, calm down. He directed his thoughts to the Moone Pokémon. I know you don’t like them in your territory, and especially not Nihilego. But this one hasn’t hurt anyone yet, it’s just scared of being in someplace unfamiliar and wants to go home. Just give me a chance, and if it does bond with me you can force it off.
Nebby settled down in her ball, leaving Elio to work as he finally gave the berry a light toss when the Nihilego was within three yards. It deftly plucked the berry out of the air and immediately took it within its bell to consume. Elio then silently slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a miniaturized Beast Ball this time.
He wasn’t sure how the Ultra Beast sensed the world around it, but it could clearly recognize a pattern. The Beast Ball had been stored with them long enough to have its scent masked by the berries. Between that, the similar coloration, and its lack of experience with this world, he should be able to fool it… and if not, he had Nebby.
“Here you go,” he said, holding it out with a closed fist and facing downwards. “Last one.”
The Parasite Pokémon drifted closer again as he brushed his thumb over the button to set it in an active state and then tossed it upwards. The Ultra Beast naturally reacted by grasping and forcing it into its bell, causing the capturing function to trigger. The Nihilego was then sucked into the Beast Ball abruptly and it fell to the ground.
Miss Wicke said that the Beast Ball should be at least more comfortable to this Ultra Beast, given that Lillie’s mother had originally had them commissioned to capture a Nihilego, Elio reasoned silently. It probably won’t try to break out. But get ready just in case, Nebby…
“Whew.” Elio breathed out a sigh of relief as the ball went still. It was captured without a fuss.
“That was a little more reckless than I’d like,” Olivia said. He turned to see that she had her own Ultra Ball out, likely getting ready to act if he had been slow. “It worked out this time, but I don’t think the rest will be as easy.”
“I know, but I really didn’t want to beat down on an already injured pokémon,” he said, turning to the ball and reaching for it. “Come on, Nihilego. Let’s get you back—”
He didn’t get the chance to finish before the dirt beneath the Beast Ball erupted. A long, sinuous body jutted out of the ground and it took a moment for Elio to recognize it was a Pokémon. One that he hadn’t seen before. In that moment, it grabbed Nihilego’s ball in its mouth, and then dove right back into the ground.
It stole Nihilego! The moment that thought registered Elio reached for the Nebby’s ball. “Get it back!”
The Lunala burst free, filling up the space between Elio and the hole as its pink eyes turned crimson. A wave of telepathic power washed through the ground, probing it for the life beneath the surface. Then Nebby used Psychic in earnest, gripping the serpent in a telekinetic stranglehold before ripping it out the very ground with enough force that the spray of dirt this time was like a geyser going off.
The captured pokémon strained as it was then floated in place. It was a serpent like an Arbok, only it had longer fangs the color of blood, with matching eyes. And the tail was shaped like a blade, partially red and sharp-looking to boot.
Rotom snapped a photograph. Pokémon data not found in the local database, zzt. Remotely accessing national database. Accezzing. Accezzing. Accezzing. Data found, zzrt. Seviper, the Fang Snake Pokémon. Native region is Hoenn, with sightings in Unova and Kalos—
“Later Rotom,” Elio said, eyes fixed onto the Seviper’s mouth. The ball was missing. “You didn’t swallow it, did you?”
“Ssss-ssseee…” It let out a low, hissing sound as it glared at him in a way that Nebby didn’t appreciate given she stretched its sinuous body out straight and began to wrest its maw open against its will.
“You don’t need to hurt it, Nebby,” Elio said before she could go too far. “We’ll have Melon put it asleep and then take it with us—”
His words were smothered when wall next to them exploded as another pokémon emerged, plowing through solid stone in a display of sheer force. It was a large pokémon whose green hide covered it like armor with spikes jutting out. Elio recognized this one from a documentary he’d seen on Johto—a Tyranitar.
“RRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAHHHH!” The roar it let out threatened to deafen them all as the Armor Pokémon was abruptly wreathed in a veil of shadows that billowed out. Then it threw it itself forward, directly towards the Legendary Pokémon.
Nebby only had enough time to bat her trainer away with a wave of psychic energy before the attack connected and the shadowy aura violently expanded. Her pained screeched was drowned out by a thunderous crash as she was driven into the opposing wall by the rushing pokémon hard enough that a plume of stone fragments and dirt obscured their forms. Only one silhouette moved afterwards, and it wasn’t hers.
“Nebby—” He was about to recall her when a firm grasp on his arm jerked him back. It was all that saved him as a flash of venomous light scythed where his torso had been, a Poison Tail from the muscular and sinuous serpent that had been freed from the psychic grip that held it captive. He fell back into Olivia’s arms and she held him close while tossing out her own Ultra Ball.
“Ferrin, Magnet Bomb!” The ball burst open and out came her Probopass. The female Compass Pokémon appeared between the humans and the opposing Fang Snake Pokémon and immediately dispatched her Mini-Noses, whose eyes turned orange as they flew towards the target. The moment they got close they detonated and blew the serpent backwards. “Now, Dazzling Gleam on the other one!”
“Passs.” Facing the larger Armor Pokémon as its narrowed eyes fixed onto the newest target of its rage, the Mini-Noses took up a triangular formation before unleashing prismatic rays from their noses. Each one slammed into the hard armor of the Tyranitar… only for it to not even flinch as they broke against its hide and left rainbow-hued streamers to tear into the ground around it.
Zzt? That should’ve been Super-Effective! Rotom noted, only to then point its appendage over to the entrance where it burst through. The Zzzzzeviper is escaping!
Elio finished recalling Nebby into her ball before twisting his head to see the slithering serpent vanish beyond the entrance. If they lost Nihilego now then… no, he couldn’t let that happen. He grabbed his Ride Pager and then shot out towards the opening.
“Cover him, Ferrin!” Olivia ordered as the Tyranitar twisted its head towards the boy and lunged with fangs shrouded in darkness. The Compass Pokémon rocketed forward to intercept it, using its magnetic field as propulsion to bring the bulk of its mass crashing against the relatively lighter pokémon.
The blow managed to knock it off to the side from the momentum. The levitating drones then spread out and unleashed lancing rays of argent light. They slammed into its hard body and kept it pinned down.
“Sorry, but I have to leave this one to you!” Elio said over the hum of the Flash Cannon attacks as he flipped through the selection of available Ride Pokémon. Tauros had trouble turning and Mudsdale was better in rough terrain than a place like this. So that left…
“Just be careful!” Olivia shouted in response.
“Same to you!” He pressed the button as he jumped through the opening and there was a flash of light. His ride gear materialized over his body and a Stoutland appeared beneath him. Gripping the handles, he then directed the Big-Hearted Pokémon to give chase. “Don’t let that snake get away!”
The Stoutland barked and then took off as fast as it could.
Elio felt guilt weighing down his stomach as the sound of the battle between Olivia and that odd Tyranitar grew distant while they navigated the tunnels. That darkness around it felt like… hatred and malice and sadness and pain. Such negative emotions, bundled together so thickly that they took on a tangible form, had almost suffocated him when it hit Nebby.
I’m sorry, Nebby. He passed that thought along, feeling the touch of her mind to his as he reached for another two of his Poké Balls while keeping his eyes on the slithering Seviper. We’ll handle it from here, so just rest for now. Okay?
The Fang Snake Pokémon briefly glanced back as the sound of one of the balls bursting open signaled the release of Kou, who swooped past it and then whirled around to intercept it from the front. The serpent bared its fangs and lunged to Crunch down on the Bat Pokémon in response, only for the Crobat to twist out of the way while releasing an Air Slash that slammed into the serpent. It was sent sprawling into a mining cart hard enough that the metal audibly crunched inwards on impact.
“Now pin it down by the tail and mouth, Melon!” Elio ordered as he tossed out the second Poké Ball and released the pokémon inside. The lights from above cast a shadow as the energy state was converted into a round mass of bulk that came down on the rear section of the Seviper’s body hard enough that the ground shook.
“Sevvviiiipppeerr!” The Fang Snake Pokémon shrieked in pain, thrashing as it tried to get free. Then, as the shadow loomed over its head, it whirled around and spat the baleful, venomous liquid that was Toxic towards the face of the female Snorlax.
“Lax…” The Sleeping Pokémon wiped it off, not remotely bothered. Immunity was one of the reasons Elio brought her in the first place to deal with Nihilego. She finished leaning forward and then pinned its head down to the ground with both of her stout paws.
“Now, use Yawn,” Elio said, pulling Stoutland to a stop as Kou fluttered in the air next to him. “We’ll take it to the Aether Foundation and have them get Nihilego out while its asleep. They should also be able to find out who its trainer is and what they did to that Tyranitar.”
“Snorrrlax…” Melon opened her mouth to release the sleep-inducing bubble. It smacked the Seviper that struggled to get away, drowsiness washing over it. She held it down until the jerking slowed to a crawl and then stopped.
That was when Stoutland started barking.
Incoming! Rotom’s translation drew their eyes up to the air where the lamps strung up by orange cords ran along the ceiling. It was there that what looked be a black Poké Ball burst open. The purple and grey plates that were like armor shook the earth the moment the Nidoking landed and it let loose a mad roar that echoed off the walls.
Melon’s attention fell onto the new threat as darkness burst from the near-invisible gaps in its plates and it tried to run all of them down. The Ride Pokémon immediately forced itself to move and dart out of the way to avoid its rider coming to harm while Kou flew upwards, inadvertently leaving Melon exposed to the full-brunt of its attack. The moment it connected, that darkness expanded like an explosion going off and she was sent crashing into the floor behind her.
Elio regained controlled of Stoutland as Kou flew back towards him. “Melon, are you okay!?”
“L-Lax…” Her body shuddered as she tried to push herself back onto her feet, still willing to fight. But the blow had hurt her badly enough that she was barely able to move. Much less take the next hit as the Nidoking stomped towards her with a raised fist that was shrouded in bright light—a Mega Punch.
Elio recalled her, holding out her ball and triggering the Return function. Red light speared out and converted the Sleeping Pokémon back into her energy state in time to avoid the hit that blew out the ground as the condensed power was unleashed, resulting in a geyser of dirt that covered it. Noticing the absence of its target, the Nidoking’s seething gaze fell onto Elio and darkness wrapped its frame once more. “Kou, use Haze!”
The Bat Pokémon responded by exhaling a thick, dark mist that rolled over the battlefield they’d turned the cavern into to create an obscuring veil. The maddened Nidoking still charged into it, only to find emptiness as the trainer and his pokémon vanished. That was when the Crobat swooped in with a shriek, fangs bared.
The Nidoking brought its venomous horn around and lunged forward. The point pierced through the comparatively soft-bodied pokémon and its form unraveled, only for there to be a burst of pain as what felt like a solid slab of metal struck the side of its head. The blow was hard enough that the pokémon staggered a few steps back, despite its massive frame. The pain only doubled as the Acrobatics attack that followed made everything disappear as the wings caught its unprotected face next. “NIDOOOO!”
Momentarily blinded, the Drill Pokémon thrashed madly as shrieks began to bounce off the walls. More than one, it sounded like there were dozens, if not hundreds of Bat Pokémon surrounding it. A fact that it bore witness to as its vision returned, filled with countless purple figures fluttering within the lingering veil of smoke.
It lashed out against them all as they swooped in—swinging its armored claws to bat them aside, thrusting its venomous horn to impale those that came towards its face again, and whipping its massive tail around to crush those that were caught in its wake. The thrashing was only stopped when a blade of wind cut across its head hard enough to flinch it, and something caught its tail in an iron grip.
Patches of black-and-white were the last thing the Nikdoking spotted before it was pulled off its feet and whirled around in a circle. The rotations built up momentum until it was abruptly flung into the cavern wall, hard enough that the solid stone cratered. Hurt and enraged, the Drill Pokémon peered through the dissipated Haze to see the face of its true opposition.
The Bat Pokémon hadn’t been the only thing lurking in the dark. The Daunting Pokémon had been called into the fight, given the urgency. Cracking his knuckles, Pancho stood between the Nidoking and his trainer while taking on a boxer’s stance.
“We’re going all out, Pancho!” Elio crossed his arms as a fierce, orange light began to radiate from his wrists. Punching the air with righteous fury, the energy from within him flared to its peak. Then it was focused through the Z-Crystal into the Daunting Pokémon.
Every muscle in the Drill Pokémon’s body tensed, its attention drawn to Z-Power that shrouded the Pangoro. Accepting the challenge, the shadowy aura around it thickened until the pokémon beneath was almost completely obscured. Devoting every ounce of its enforced rage and anger into power, it exploded in movement with the most powerful Shadow Break it could to run them all down as the All-Out Pummeling was unleashed through piston-like jabs.
Every hit met the oncoming mass of shadows as it drew closer, the air shaking from with every impact and battering it down. The body beneath the veil was exposed as more and more of it was whittled away by the overwhelming power, leaving the armor-like body to feel the force of the blows strike through. The penultimate strike managed to completely blow the last of the shadow aura away by the time it was within mere feet of the Daunting Pokémon.
Yet, it didn’t stop. The Nidoking kept moving its body that had been battered by the Z-Move headfirst and readied a Mega Punch, even as it bore witnesses to the fact that the Pangoro was rearing back with a chambered first that gathered the remainder of his Z-Power to do the same. Attacking without regard for its own care, the Nidoking struck out with the fist brimming with power—
—only for the blow to be magnificently cross-countered by Pancho as he read the telegraphed punch. The moment his fist connected, the air ruptured for a final time. A shockwave hard enough to rattle Elio’s bones from a distance was let loose as the remaining Z-Power all came rushing forward in a stream of power that swept up the Drill Pokémon.
The orange surge thrust the Drill Pokémon right back into the wall that it had been wrenched itself free of earlier, leaving the entire cavern to shake as it was blown through the solid stone this time. The collapse of loose rubble on top of it drowned out both the Champion and his pokémon’s pants from the exertion. Yet the rubble that had collapsed over the Nidoking burst apart as it forced itself out not even a few seconds late.
“Oh, come on!” Elio was exasperated as the Drill Pokémon stomped out of where it had been buried. It had taken their best blow headfirst and was still moving. At least until he readied to give Kou the order to attack with another Air Slash, whereupon it staggered and fell to one knee.
The Nidoking glared at them with heavy eyes as it swayed. It stilled wanted to fight. But its body couldn’t hold up any longer. The fearsome pokémon collapsed after a final snarl, landing face-first with a thud.
It didn’t get back up.
There wasn’t any thrill of victory or excitement as the Nidoking laid unconscious. Only relief that it was over and… pity. Whatever had been done to it had turned it into the same kind of thing that Tyranitar had become—a relentless machine that kept attacking—until its body broke down.
But he didn’t have time to lament its fate as Kou screeched before throwing himself into Elio’s body, knocking him out of the way as a Psychic blast instead met the Bat Pokémon in his place. The Crobat was immediately sent flying into the nearest mound of excavated dirt and then slid down, unconscious, as a purple beam connected to the Nidoking.
“Kou!” Elio whipped his head around as Pancho stood in front of him for protection to see the Drill Pokémon had been recalled by a man dressed in a miner’s outfit. The hard-hat covered his face from view while another foreign pokémon hovered in the air next to him, along with the dozing Seviper. “Were you the one who did that to these Pokémon!?”
The only answer he received was the man flinging a Smoke Ball as Rotom turned to snap their picture, obscuring them from view. The rattle of Nebby’s ball preceded her forcing it open, bursting out and taking form above him. She used her own psychic powers to disperse the smoke, only to reveal that they were gone.
The man. The Seviper. The foreign Pokémon. Nihilego… all of them were gone.
The moment that realization set it, Elio felt his heart in a vice.
He’d failed utterly.
“Elio!” a voice called, echoing from the path he’d taken to get here. Eyes turned to see that Olivia was clinging to her Probopass as it levitated through the tunnels towards them. The three Mini-Noses were floating around in a defensive formation in case of another attack. “Are you okay?”
“I couldn’t get Nihilego back,” he confessed, returning Kou and Pancho into their balls while Nebby hovered over his shoulders. “A man who was in a miner’s outfit attacked us with a strange Nidoking and stole Nihilego right from under us. Then he disappeared using a psychic pokémon I haven’t seen before.”
She stepped down onto the ground as her Probopass came to a stop. “But you’re okay, right?”
“Yeah, but I still couldn’t save Nihilego even after I promised to get it home.” His hands balled into fists as he looked down to the ground, his expression obscured by his hat to hide the tears that gnawed at the corner of his eyes. He knew that whatever reason they’d kidnapped it for, it wouldn’t be good. Not after he’d seen the other two pokémon. “If whatever that man did to that Nidoking and Tyranitar is done to Nihilego… then its my fault for not helping it.”
Olivia’s lips fell into a soft frown before she gently laid her hands on his shoulders. “Champion or not, we all fail sometimes. Even if we do our best. What matters is that we try to do better going forward.”
Nebby, likewise, lowered her head. Her mind was still linked to his and so she knew the weight of his guilt. She brushed against his cheek in an effort to cheer him up, despite her own disdain for the Parasite Pokémon. “Mahiii.”
Elio swallowed the lump in his throat before he caressed Nebby’s head in return. “… I should report this to those two from the International Police. They might know something about what’s going on since those pokémon aren’t native here.”
The Kahuna’s lips turned up in approval. “You do that. I’ll talk to the other Kahuna, the local miners, the police, and have Molayne check the log of the PC System to see if any of those pokémon were registered into the local system by tourists or healed in a Pokémon Center. We’ll find whoever is responsible.”
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
Ann sat on the edge of her bed in the Hano Grand Resort with her fingers dancing over her laptop, a cord running from the USB port connected to the portable transfer station on the nightstand.
She had gone on the tour of the Aether Foundation earlier to have a chance to get her Porygon-Z into their systems. Now she just needed to set up the relay network so that the data could be transmitted beneath their rather impressive security without notice once it got through the firewall. After that she just needed to do an analysis to find out just how many skeletons were hidden in this so-called conservation organization’s closet.
She was only just finished setting up the device when the abrupt appearance of Agent Arlo and her pokémon drew her attention. Her Beeheyem made a series of noises to announce its arrival as floated over, the sleeping Seviper being set onto the ground in front of her through its psychic power. “What happened?”
“There was interference from the Champion and local…Kahuna, was it?” He removed his stolen hard-hat, revealing yellow eyes that were more common in his native homeland of Orre. “I was forced to use both of my shadow assets in Reverse Mode. They were both defeated but the mission was a success.”
The shadow assets were pokémon that had undergone Shadowization. It was a process developed by Team Cipher before they integrated with the remnants of Team Rocket, after both organizations had been crippled. In recent years they had made numerous improvements to the process—including the creation of Shadow Balls, which integrated Snag-Tech into them. That allowed them to instantly turn a stolen pokémon into a shadow one, ensuring its immediate compliance to whoever owned its ball, though it was only as effective as an Ultra Ball and far costlier to produce.
Shadow Pokémon were stronger and faster than normal ones. Type disadvantages became a thing of the past, and in the process of enter Reverse Mode their strength increased further at the expense of damaging their bodies and driving them into a berserker rage that would attack just about anything but the trainer. They made for the perfect weapons to use in battle because of it.
However, they also had their weaknesses. A Shadow Pokémon lost its independence and became nothing more than a shell of its former-self. The will to act of their own initiative outside of battle was broken, which made them useless for complicated or intricate work. They also couldn’t used Mega Stones for some reason.
The two Shadow Pokémon that Arlo carried were the two he’d snagged himself from an Ace Trainer, who was a candidate to compete against the Elite Four. She didn’t have any doubts that he outright set them to be released in Reverse Mode from the start to accomplish the mission. So for both of them to have been defeated spoke heavily of the opposition.
“Plug them in and I’ll send them with the Ultra Beast while you work on your report,” Ann ordered. Since Shadow Pokémon were illegal to own without a license, let alone the use of Reverse Mode, the authorities would obviously be on the lookout for the pokémon in question. They would have to use the portable station to send them away to recover, which would take time given how extensively damaging Reverse Mode was on the Pokémon’s bodies.
While he did so, Ann looked over her Seviper’s body and found his injuries to be deep. “They did a number on you, didn’t they?”
Her gentle touch roused the Fang Snake Pokémon from his slumber. Flicking his tongue out to taste the air, only the familiar scent stopped him from attacking. He then let out a retching sound as he started to regurgitate the Beast Ball unprompted so that he could be returned into his own ball to make the pain stop.
Ann grabbed a towel to clean it off, taking the unique shape and coloration into account. Then she set it inside of the remaining slot on the ball transfer platform and double-checked the network with her laptop before activating the transfer. The Beast Ball and Shadow Balls were transformed into data and sent through the cord into the network.
I guess that means that ball was made to be compatible with the same systems that normal balls use then, she mused silently while returning her Seviper into his ball as the transfer was completed. Truth be told, she had been worried it wouldn’t go through since there was no telling how it was constructed without the schematics. And those would take time to decrypt depending on how secured the data was once her Porygon-Z retrieved it. Well, hopefully that should quiet Lovrina down for the moment.
“Can you put in a requisition for additional shadow assets and Shadow Balls?” Arlo asked. “From what I overheard and observed, there were more Ultra Beasts. I believe that if we snag some of his pokémon to use as incentive, we could have that naïve child they call a Champion capture these creatures for us. With any luck, we could also obtain the Legendary in his care as well and gain a foothold in this region.”
She briefly entertained the thought. Arlo was well-positioned due to his success rate on missions, so if he managed to succeed in obtaining whatever remaining Ultra Beasts there were and a Legendary there was no doubt in her mind that he would be promoted to an Admin position. Ann herself would also likely be put into a higher position—an Executive position right beneath the Leaders.
Yet, despite how tempting that may have sounded, Ann refused out of pure pragmatism. Being too ambitious was just setting yourself up for a fall, especially when you underestimated a trainer just because of their ages. That’s how Team Rocket and Team Cipher were undone in the past, and she wouldn’t let the organization born from their ashes meet the same end because she wanted to climb the ranks.
“Our original mission was to gather information that would further other plans, the Ultra Beast was just an opportunity that we capitalized on. There’s no need to endanger the mission by attempting something that ambitious when we have no way of obtaining them without direct conflict.”
“…Very well,” Arlo conceded, bowing his head. “What would you ask of me next then?”
“For now, it’s best if you lay low until things die down and your shadow assets are returned.” She turned her attention back to her laptop. “Let the Champion go about his business until Hari finishes gathering information on this Guzma individual and we decide how we’re going to approach him.”
From what they could tell he was a somewhat infamous figure on the island as the leader of a team of misfits that supposedly disbanded recently. He obviously knew more about both the Aether Foundation and these Ultra Beasts, given he knew exactly what it was and what was needed to capture it. He was a resource they could tap without drawing too much attention.
Hari had a way with talking to people and getting them to let their guard drop. And she was young enough to ask around without drawing suspicion unlike Ann, who had recently turned thirty. That made the younger agent the best-suited to the task of gathering information under the guise of a mere tourist.
And even if he was reluctant to talk, Beeheeyem was immensely useful for making people more agreeable.
They’d get the information they needed either way.
Chapter 14: Back in Alola 3
Guzma tried to tamper down on the annoyance that simmered in his chest as he stared down at the white ball set on the sand.
It was early in the morning. The sun had barely come up from over the horizon at this point, and Guzma would like nothing more than to be back in bed. But Pyukumuku were creatures of habit and tossing them back into the water before the hotel-guests came down to the beach was how he made a living for now. Since Kahili happened to be up and saw him, she told him to follow along as she got her morning practice in before the course opened up for everyone else and then told him to give it a try.
He never understood the appeal of golf. Why folks would pay so much to try and send a ball flying into a tiny hole in the distance was something beyond him. Yet, he found himself trying to line up a shot with a golf club that reminded him a little too much of his father’s back home—only more expensive than the knock-offs that the old man boasted about as being the actual thing.
“Looks like he’s feeding you pretty well,” a soft voice came from behind him. It was followed by a playful purr.
The former leader of Team Skull cast a glance behind him to see that Kahili was crouched down to the ground, her finger gently running over the Purrloin’s stomach as it laid on its back. The Devious Pokémon writhed joyously at the attention being laved on it. Then the feline met Guzma’s eyes briefly and a glint could be seen, as if it was gloating on having that effect with women.
Deceptive furball, he couldn’t help but think as his lips pulled back into a frown. Acting all cute to deceive other people sat poorly with him for obvious reasons. He was at least honest about it.
Guzma then turned to the ball in the sand trap and took a swing at it, only for a spray of sand to follow as he put his back into it. The ball was still there. He snarled and then swung at it again. And again. And again to no avail.
Kahili stopped playing with the feline Pokémon as he took a few angrier swings only to spray more sand out of the lip and sighed. “You can’t just swing at random.”
“I don’t even see why I’m doing this,” he said in turn. “I thought you were supposed to be helping me train—how is this even related to Pokémon!?”
“It’s supposed to teach you both patience and control.” She came over and extended her hand for him to give her the club. Once he did and stepped back to where she had been, she then lined up for a shot and then took a swing that hit the ball with barely any of the sand moving.
Guzma starred as the ball hit the green in the distance and then rolled closer to the hotel end. Then his gaze turned down towards the Purrloin as he snickered, spotting that same smug look as always.
“Shaddup, you damn cat,” he murmured under his breath as she then came back over to him.
“You are a strong trainer,” Kahili said as she set down another ball from a pouch on her back. It was lined up with the one she’d just hit. “But strength needs control and patience in order to be utilized to its fullest potential. And while I can teach you how it’s done in battling, doing it this way helps to broaden yourself perspective so that you’ll be able to grasp that in matters outside of battling as well.”
She then handed him the golf club. “Now, face the ball like you’re getting ready to take a swing at it.”
He did so, going along with it despite not really getting the point. “Now what?”
“Stand with your feet at shoulders’ length apart.” She waited for him to do so. “Hold the club so that its straight with your left arm. Keep your left thumb straight, so that it goes down the center of the shaft and then place your right hand so that it overlaps the left.”
Guzma went along with it before she reached out to move his hands properly into place.
“That’s good. You’ve got it now.” She backed off as the Purrloin followed her. “Keep your eyes on the ball as you swing for it and keep the ball in the center of the swing. If you look up, it’ll change the angle of the swing. But if you keep your head as it is then the ball will go where your left shoulder is.”
He moved his arm like a pendulum going backwards and felt it to be a lot more rigid than he liked. But when he swung it there was a soft sound before the ball went sailing in the air cleanly towards the green, passing her ball…
And the smile that was forming as his eyes trailed after the ball melted the moment he spotted it.
Dawnlight rolled off the polished glass-like bell that was adorned with six-pointed stars. The blue rim undulated as though atop the surface of invisible waves, tentacles of varying sizes gently wavering as it pushed itself forward. An alien, wet sound rang out ever so slightly as it neared.
The golf club slipped from his grasp, forgotten along with everything else in the world he backed away and shook his head slowly as it came towards him. “No… not again…”
Noticing the sudden change in Guzma’s demeanor, Kahili obviously had questions. Whether or not he would answer them was secondary, however, to removing that fascinating Pokémon from the grounds. For both its own safety and that of those who intended to play the fairway later on.
To that end, she let out her Toucannon. He was a fine specimen that stood nearly four feet tall with his wings folded, peering with glaring eyes towards the alien Pokémon that continued to drift closer. Kahili then crouched low next to the Cannon Pokémon. “Pana, can you see if you can get it to leave the grounds peacefully?”
A bob of his head was followed by his wings spreading out and a push off the ground, taking flight towards it. However, midway there, the air changed. It was distorted, pressure seemingly filling the space as an aura flared to life around it.
“A totem aura?” she muttered in surprise as the shroud of energy shaded its clear body with a reddish tint that made it seem more ominous. “It looks small for a Totem Pokémon, but—”
Her musings were silenced as the creature conjured up four stones of light, condensed energy made solid. Power Gems, she recognized. “Look out!”
Her warning came out short as the stones pointed to Pana and began to fracture. Trumpets of devastation sounded out as the radiant hammers of light speared out to knock him out of the air. The glare of the bright rays drowned out the light of the sun and obscured the Toucannon’s figure as he pulled a sharp turn, narrowly dodging as spouts of turf and dirt shot into the air with a loud sound that reverberated throughout the course, leaving it to quake.
Kahili, who’d fallen backwards onto the ground, looked at the devastation and felt a weight fall into her stomach, beads of sweat falling down her brow. She then looked up to see that it was getting ready to fire again, more bundles of energy compressed to the point of crystallization hovering around it like in orbit. If even one of them was fired in the opposite direction and hit the Hotel, then their guests would be in danger.
“Pana, stay on this side of the course!” she ordered, rising to her feet once more. “Destroy those Power Gems with Bullet Seed before it can fire them off and then use Beak Blast!”
“Touuu!” Flapping his wings to stay stationary, the Cannon Pokémon opened his beak and let loose a focus fire of pinpoint accurate Bullet Seeds that cut across the air and impacted the Power Gems, breaking through them and dispersing the gems into harmless shards before they could be forced to rupture correctly. Then his fruit-eating beak glowed burning-red, tongues of fire licking the edges before it opened wide and let loose the fireball towards the glass-looking Pokémon—
Pana’s attack missed!
—then something strange happened. Right before it could hit, the creature flickered. Its entire body blinked out of view, the attack continuing on to slam into the fairway. Fire began to spread on impact as the creature then solidified once more and let out a wet, undulating sound before forming another series of Power Gems.
As her Toucannon proceeded to break the stones once more with another Bullet Seed barrage, Kahili then turned to Guzma to see that he’d fallen into the sand and was staring up at the creature with trembling eyes. As if he was reliving a waking nightmare. She crouched down on the ground and shook him by the shoulders. “Snap out of it! I need to know what I’m dealing with!”
There was no sensible response, only muttering and whimpers. Then a cry of pain as the Purrloin bit into his arm, causing him to jolt out of it. He reflexively lashed his arm out, causing the Devious Pokémon to detach itself or be swatted, and then clutch the spot where blood began to leak. “Damn cat!”
Another trumpet resounded and the ground meters away from them erupted as a vibrant ray of energy hammered it. Kahili fell forward, barely catching herself on his shoulders before she could hit the ground. She then looked him in the eyes to demand again, “Guzma, what is that Pokémon? What’s its typing?”
“It’s…” His eyes flickered over her shoulder towards it and he swallowed. “It’s an Ultra Beast. Nihilego, she called it. It’s a Rock-type with Poison as a secondary, I think. Not sure how to get around the flickering thing it does, but don’t let it touch you.”
Enough of an answer for now, Kahili pushed herself off his shoulders to stand up again and turned back to her soaring Pokémon. “Pana, close the distance and use Brick Break!”
The Toucannon went from firing a sold mass of stone from its mouth to circling around the next Power Gem ray that displaced the air. He dived down with his beak wreathed in a powerful glow as the last of them was fired, twisting to dodge as the feathers covering his body were ruffled from how close it had been to smashing him out of the air. Closing the distance, he brought the Brick Break down onto the glass bell top—
Pana’s attack missed!
—only to pass through empty space as the Nihilego flickered once more, leaving the divebomb to pass through it harmless. The Cannon Pokémon pulled open his wings and flapped before he could hit the ground, the glow of the attack leaving his beak as he turned around. Then his eyes widened slightly as he found himself facing a bloom of Nihilego that crowded the air.
“It’s using Double Team! Use Bullet Seed in a spray pattern to find the real one!” Kahili called out, watching as Pana opened his beak wide to let loose a scattering of the golden seeds to punch through the illusions to find the real one. The numbers were reduced to a mere four before the Ultra Beast attacked.
Nihilego used Psywave!
Like rippling waves ringing out from the surface of the water, the air was filled with rings of Psychic energy that closed in on the Cannon Pokémon and hit with a surprising amount of force that knocked Pana for a loop. He spiraled downwards, wings flaring out and flapping to regain balance before he could hit the ground. He’d managed to arrest his fall in time for four Power Gems to come down on him and hammer him straight into the ground with a thunderous crash that resounded throughout the course.
“Pana!” Kahili called as she shielded her eyes as the blinding flare, brought her to her knees as the ground quaked beneath her feet again. When the billowing wind ceased, and she could open her eyes, her heart sank like a stone upon seeing Pana motionless in a crater in the ground while the Nihilego contracted its bell to propel it towards them at a faster pace.
Kahili attempted to recall her downed Toucannon, only for the Nihilego to once more release the rippling waves of psychic energy directly towards her. The only reason that he didn’t connect was because Purrloin threw himself in front of the attack. The psychic energy broke apart upon connecting with his body, the Dark-typing dispersing it as he then yowled.
Purrloin used Pursuit!
Bristling as darkness draped his body, he became a black dart crossing the distance towards the Nihilego, only to pass through as it flickered in and out of reality once more. The attack failed, but it served as a distraction while Kahili finished recalling her Pokémon. The Nihilego turned its attention to the feline and its translucent tentacles lengthening to Constrict it.
“Loaa!?” he shrieked as they wrapped around his lithe and began to squeeze relentless.
“Don’t act tough if you aren’t going to follow up!” Guzma said as he pulled out an Ultra Ball. Fear had turned to anger and the means by which he would take it out on the Ultra Beast speared forth as the ball burst open. Out came his oldest Pokémon, a male Golisopod that chittered menacingly upon spotting the enemy. “Get the damn cat and show that thing how you say hello!”
“GOSO!!” The short-legged arthropod bore his claws and was shrouded within the viridian hue of Bug-typing as he then used that gathered energy to burst forth and launch a counter-attack in the blink of an eye. Bringing lengthened claws to bat, the Hard Scale Pokémon used them to land the first strike against the aura-shrouded Parasite Pokémon.
Golisopod used First Impression!
It’s not very effective!
The floating Ultra Beast was knocked back, the tiny feline falling free into the waiting set of underarms as his Golisopod landed with a loud thump. The cat scurried out of the taller Pokémon’s grasp and ran back towards them as the Nihilego prepared to retaliate, barely scratched by the attack as a quartet of Power Gems formed around it—
Golisopod used Sucker Punch!
—and was promptly smacked in its bulb by a dark, claw-shaped projectile fired from a swift thrust of his frontal arms. The impact threw its body into disarray, leaving its aim wanting as the Hard Scale Pokémon guarded with the gauntlet-like forearms and Iron Defense as the light burst out from the shells.
One ray shot past the golf course, a piercing spear that crossed the air and crashed into the mountain behind it. Another was fired into the sky, reaching the heavens above like a beacon. The third speared into the fairway itself and carved out a long strip from the sheer force. The last, however, hit Golisopod and he was forced to take the brunt of the beam with the metallic-clad scales.
Even at only one-fourth of the attack, Golisopod was nearly overwhelmed. His legs dug a trench as the attack forced him back, his desperate attempts to brace against it lasting only until the attack petered out. His legs then failed him as his Ability triggered and his body returned to its energy state.
Guzma held his Pokémon’s ball out as it retreated inside and then flung out another in his right hand. From that Ultra Ball burst a male Scizor, its metallic exoskeleton reflecting the morning sun as it clicked its pincers. “Take it out with a Bullet Punch!”
Steel wings to burst from his back and fluttered as he sped forward while his right pincer shone with a metallic light. The Nihilego that had been wavering in the air, shaking off the surprise hit, flickered before it could connect. The speeding Pincer Pokémon passed right through it and was forced to spin around so that he was facing the Parasite Pokémon that prepared another bombardment of Power Gems that forced him to skirt along the ground as the rays smashed into what was left of the fairway and caused spouts of dirt and turf to shoot up.
Guzma gritted his teeth as his Scizor evaded the sequence firing of Power Gems with deft motions. He’d gotten for it specifically so that it could be used against one of these things, its Steel-typing rendering it immune to poison and allowing it to smash through stone, though he’d hoped to never see one again in his life. “It worked before, so why can’t we hit it now?”
“The only attacks that have worked so far have been those that it couldn’t see coming or those that struck just before or after it fired off an attack,” Kahili said, crouching to check on the Purrloin that ran back over to her. “You’ll have to get the timing down perfectly and close the distance hastily. Have you taught it Agility?”
“Nah, didn’t have time to.” Guzma was regretting that now as he looked towards Scizor getting hit by a Psywave as he tried to close the distance once more and was rebutted. It didn’t look like it did a lot of damage, but the fact that a psychic attack did any notable damage spoke a lot of how strong it was.
“Then what about you?” she asked, looking down to the Devious Pokémon. “Can you stop it from attacking once at least?”
The feline bobbed his head and made a gesture where it clapped its paws together. “Purroa.”
“Fake Out,” she said in recognition. “That’ll do. When I give the signal, stop it from attacking and we’ll take care of the rest.”
“You can’t seriously expect me to rely on that furball,” Guzma said, almost insulted at the notion as the Purrloin ran after back towards the NIhilego’s backside. The cat had been nothing but trouble, and while Scizor could take a Rock-type hit better than Golisopod, he would still be knocked out if he took all of them at once.
“Trust me,” she said.
“Tch.” The former leader of Team Skull pursed his lips and drew in a deep breath. Then he shouted, “SCIZOR, IT’S ALL OR NOTHING!!”
The Pincer Pokémon’s dark-yellow eyes shot to Guzma, attention grabbed even as another onslaught of Power Gems began to form.
“THAT EXOSKELETON AIN’T MADE OF PAPER, IS IT?” Guzma shouted at the top of his lungs to get over the thunderous crashing of the rays of light trying to crush the Steel-clad Bug-Type. “GET PUMPED AND READY TO SMASH ITS FACE IN, EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO TAKE A HIT!”
Scizor came to a stop a fair distance from in front of the Nihilego as the barrage ceased, dust still lingering in the air as he acknowledged the order with a nod. He tensed up, crossing his pincers as his crimson body began to glow with a molten color. Then, with a cry that rang out like a Kiai, his metallic body radiated a blood-red aura. “ZOOOORRRR!!”
Scizor used Focus Energy!
Scizor’s getting pumped up!
Perhaps sensing the rise in Scizor’s energy similar to its own battle aura, the Nihilego let out a sharp undulating cry at the overt hostility and responded with the formation of more than a dozen stones of crystalized light—
“Now!” Kahili called out.
Purrloin used Fake Out!
—when the Purrloin leapt and slammed his aglow paws into one another. A rippling shock wave of air followed, slamming into the Parasite Pokémon and rending its concentration to make the Power Gems disperse before they could be discharged correctly.
The wild Nihilego flinched!
“Bullet Punch, now!” Guzma ordered, extending his fist. “Drive it down into the ground!”
In the blink of an eye, the Scizor was above the flinching Nihilego with a pincer raised. The aura shrouding his body gathered into it for a singular strike. Backed by its Technician Ability, the blow that followed could be heard throughout the course as it came down like a hammer!
A Critical Hit!
The Parasite Pokémon hit the ground hard enough to bounce off it. The hit had only been enough to leave it on the verge of fainting despite all the advantages stacked against it in that blow. But its aura was thinned, wavering around its clear body that struggled to get aloft on the gases that composed the air once more.
“Now, while it’s weakened!” Kahili called out as she flung an Ultra Ball towards it, seeking to capture it before it could get hurt further or lash out again. The ball connected and then opened, pulling it into the ball and snapping shut.
“That won’t work!” Guzma said as the ball hit the ground. “Only a Beast Ball can capture it!”
The warning was too little too late as the Nihilego broke free, exploding the ball from inside out while releasing a pitiful sound that was almost like a child crying. Before combat could go any further, its bell swelled to a larger size as a white gas roiled within it. Then, all at once, the bell contracted.
The wild Nihilego used Clear Smog!
Releasing a billowing cloud of white smog to obscure it from sight while propelling it away from them, the Clear Smog that came rushing out in a thick cloud would have caught both of the trainers inside of it had Scizor not came rushing in, with the Purrloin clinging to his horns. He scooped them both up before flying back towards the mountains to put distance between them and it. Long enough for Kahili to release her Mandibuzz and have it use Defog.
By the time it was dispersed to the extent of being harmless, the Nihilego was gone.
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
Guzma left as soon as the Ultra Beast was gone, leaving Kahili to explain the situation to her father. Those attacks had done quite a number on the course. Even with her father rushing to have the field remade, it would still take time. More than a lot of guests were willing to deal with patiently, meaning concessions were necessary.
Worse was the fact that because Guzma was spotted fleeing the scene shortly afterwards, he’d likely be associated with the attack. While a trainer couldn’t be held accountable for a random Pokémon attack, his reputation meant that they would assume him involved. And the fact that they were too far from the hotel for everything to be witnessed clearly meant that it was easy for the misconception to spread.
I can make an official statement, but I doubt father will let him anywhere near the resort or beach again if the guest really considers him “destruction in human form.” She could only sigh softly at that fact as the reigning Champion of Alola came running up to her, short on breath.
“Kahili, is everything alright?” he asked, coming to a stop.
“For the most part,” she said. “Did you hear about the attack by chance?”
He nodded. “I heard about something happening with Team Skull while I was handling something else. Word that they lured in a wild Pokémon to attack the hotel, only for it be fended off by one of the Elite Four.”
“I suppose it was wishful thinking that it was stay quiet until a statement was made.” She shook her head somberly. “I’ll have the television station report things properly before they get out of hand. That and have a warning issued about these Ultra Beasts.”
Elio winced. “Actually, can you keep the fact that the Ultra Beasts were involved in this a secret when you do?”
She tilted her head at that. “If I don’t say anything, people will only keep assuming the worst about him. That’s something I’m really not comfortable with. Much less since I’ve agreed to take him under my wing. So unless you can give me a suitable reason…”
“I’m not saying to cover it up entirely, just that it was an Ultra Beast,” Elio clarified. “The one that attacked, was it like a glass Tentacool? A Nihilego?”
She nodded. “Yes, he mentioned it by name. Seeing it nearly gave him a panic attack, so I assume he had a negative personal experience with it?”
“It’s a long story, and it’s not my place to tell you,” Elio said. “Anyway, the Ultra Beasts came from a place called Ultra Space and a few of them ended up in our world by mistake a little while ago. They’re just looking for people who have been there because they think they can get them back there.”
“And Guzma is one of them?”
He nodded. “If word got around that Pokémon like them were here, trainers would go after them. They’re powerful and we just had a league set up here, so a lot of younger or confident trainers will try to capture them to challenge the league. And if they get scared or hostile, they can do a lot of damage quickly.”
“So I’ve seen,” she said in agreement. “Had this course been opened, a great deal of people would have been caught up in the attacks and harmed. Even so, the people do need to be warned that there are dangerous Pokémon wandering around.”
“The Aether Foundation are working on setting up a hotline for people to inform them of any sightings of unusual Pokémon,” he said. “Meanwhile, I’ll start tracking them down to send them home after I explain to Guzma the situation. He really shouldn’t have been blindsided like this.”
“You should have the Kahuna speak on the matter as well,” Kahili added. “If they tell people not to approach them and to inform the hotline, the locals will listen.”
“Good point,” he said. “I’ll visit Olivia next to talk to about the situation. Let me know if it shows up again and I’ll have Nebby bring me right over, okay?”
Once she gave her word, he departed. Kahili followed shortly afterwards to talk to her father about arranging that statement. As much as she loathed concealing some things, she had to admit that the truth would be more devastating in the long run.
Not once did she notice the stealth observation drone hovering just overhead with its visual camouflage up. Not from the moment it had been deployed when the Power Gem pierced the sky above. Or even as it trailed her back to the hotel, where it flew up through a balcony door.
Into the waiting hands of Ann as she turned to her two subordinates and smiled.
“Well then. This assignment just got interesting.”
Chapter 11: Title Defense Match vs Hau – Part 2
“Sorry about that Kou,” Elio said as he returned the Bat Pokémon into his ball and wondered what went wrong. Kou’s specialty was using Double Team to confuse an opponent, either by creating a bunch of independent copies or having them deployed as he moved. Combined with shrieking from random positions to distract the opponent, it created an opening to move in silently for a decisive blow.
That Lucario was the worst opponent he could have faced from a purely-typing perspective. The steel-bones inhibited poison from working and the coverage attacks meant for dealing with psychic-types weren’t going to be effective against it. However, Kou’s speed and agility were above that of average, so he still stood the best chance and would have come out unscathed if not for the abrupt increase in his opponent’s speed.
That hadn’t been present in the previous match with Kiina, so something must’ve caused it. The only thing he could think of was an Ability, triggered at some point during the assault. He would have to ask Rotom or Hau once the last match was over, but for now he decided to remain cautious and presume that his rival had come up with a plan to counter the final Pokémon between them, their Starters.
It’s up to you now. Elio grasped Silky’s ball in his hand, feeling the cool metal against his sweaty palm as his heart raced. It all came down to this. Was he just excited? Or was he nervous too? Whatever the bundle of emotions were, they built up in his throat and forced him to swallow as he looked up to see Hau was much the same before their eyes locked and they tossed the balls out.
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Incineroar!
“It’s time to put all that training with Ilima to use, Kamala!” Hau’s ball burst open and the Heel Pokémon landed in a crouch on the ground, briefly on all fours again. Rising up to his full height that towered over his trainer and releasing a roar as he curled his fingers into fists, he flexed his muscles to show his fighting spirit.
Champion Elio sent out Primarina!
“It’s your stage, Silky!” Elio’s ball burst open and a voice as smooth as Ariados silk and sweet as Cutiefly honey rang out. The Soloist Pokémon landed on her side of the field, supporting her upper body with her flippers as her tail flicked before she settled herself in.
Looking at them both, Kukui could briefly see their previous forms from the day they’d both met their partners. They, along with the Rowlet he’d taken under his wing after they had been chosen, had all been raised along with one another and had come a long way to reach this point. “The next victory will determine who the title of Champion will go to. Are all of you ready?”
“Yeah, we’ve been waiting for this,” Hau said. “Right, Kamala?”
“Cineroar!” snarled the Heel Pokémon, fur bristling, tail down, and lips parted to show teeth as he stood ready to fight.
“Put on your best performance, Silky,” Elio said in turn.
The Primarina glanced back, batting her long lashes and smiling at her trainer as she nodded. Then she brought one of her flippers up to brush her hair behind her as she faced her opponent.
“Then let the final match begin!” Kukui announced.
Silky used Sparkling Aria!
The Soloist Pokémon took that as cue to begin her song, pushing off the ground with her fore-flippers while using the hind-pair to support herself as she stood up. Her hair came undone, blue stands wavering in the air as she spread her arms and called forth bubbles into existence that glittered in the moonlight being cast through the dome. And, with the ringing of her melodic voice that tickled the ears of all whom it reached, they flew forward towards the opposing Incineroar.
“Sunny Day!” Hau ordered, pointing to the air above him. The Incineroar crossed his arms and raised them above his head as light radiated from within him. Then he roared, dropping his arms as that light shot upwards and into the air above the arena in the form of a flare.
Once it reached its peak, it burst out and formed an artificial sun that bore its harsh rays down on all below it. The brilliance of the light threatened to blind everyone as it reflected in the puddles on the floor, vapor rising in waves as they started evaporating. Even the bubbles in mid-flight began to shrink under the heat, reflecting the light in prismatic hues that rolled on the surface.
The sunlight is strong!
Hau brought his arm over his forehead to shield his eyes from the light as he gave his next command. “Now, wipe out those bubbles with Flamethrower!”
The Heel Pokémon let out a roar as the belt around his waist produced the flames, backed by the heat given off by the intensified sunlight. The fire that came out was blazing hot, the temperature suddenly sweltering further to fully evaporate the puddles that it lapped at as he swept the tongue of fire from the left-to-right to swallow the bubbles whole. Then he moved it towards the Primarina.
“Silky, dodge with Aqua Jet!” Elio ordered as the glare of the flames through his shades nearly overtook her.
Water wrapped the Soloist Pokémon as her hair came back together and propelled her to the right, leaving her to circle the barrier of arena’s perimeter. She was moving slower due to the sun and heat evaporating it, but managed to outpace the flames chasing her until they stopped due to strain. Then Silky redirected her Aqua Jet, taking a sharp turn to rocket towards the Heel Pokémon before he could get off another attack like that and rammed into him!
“Rrrrroooaarrr!!!” He let out a pained roar as the water that was continuously shot from her snout at high-pressure and then forced behind her for propulsion grinded against his fur like a water jet as she began to drive him back. But his pained roar turned into a smug smile as he shifted his footing back to hold his balance and wrapped his arms around the shroud of water so that she couldn’t escape.
“That’s it!” Hau cheered. “Now drive her into the ground with your Darkest Lariat!”
Dark flames draped him as he held fast to her until the Aqua Jet wore off and he forced her neck into the crook of his bent arm. Then threw himself into a twister-like spin, sweeping her along with him on a trip to the center of the arena before forcing her to the ground with all of that momentum to do as much damage as possible!
A Critical Hit!
Silky let out a cry as she hit the floor, screwing her eyes shut from both the pain and the sun glaring down at her. Then she felt a weight pressed down on her and squinted them open to see that he had her pinned down, his hands keeping her fore-flippers anchored to the ground. The heat that built up at her waist and his toothy grin were the only clues that he was getting ready to fire a point-blank Flamethrower while she couldn’t fight back—a tactic truly befitting of a heel.
Elio’s voice came out near-panicked. “Hyper Voice, now!”
Silky screamed just as the flames were let loose. The Hyper Voice hit the Heel Pokémon all at once, the force of it like a battering ram that smothered the building flames and pushed him off of her. She then sat up, continuing to let her scream ring out as she narrowed her eyes in anger and focus.
Blown back by what may as well have been a wall crafted by the translucent sound waves pushing at him, the Incineroar fell onto all fours again and extended his claws to dig into the ground before he was driven back to the other side of the field. They scraped against the arena floor as he folded his ears back and gritted his teeth to wait for it to end. She couldn’t strain her voice forever after all.
Elio didn’t give him the chance. “Moonblast while he can’t move!”
Silky’s scream came to an end as she formed a large, pink spiraling sphere of power as quickly as she would a water bubble on the tip of her snout. Then she flipped over, launching it with her tail and sending it flying for the slower Heel Pokémon before he could get out of the blast range. The moment it connected a pink explosion swallowed the Incineroar.
“Rrrrraaahhh!!” The Heel Pokémon was sent flying, tendrils of smoke the hue of the attack wafting off his skin as he hit the ground hard. Never the less, he forced his hands down to the ground and began to push himself back up.
“Flare Blitz, Kamala!” Hau ordered.
“INCINERRRROAAAR!!” At the command, roaring flames flared from the Heel Pokémon’s body, as if burning with the flames of his life itself. Backed by the power of the artificial sun shining above, the heat was almost suffocating and forced Silky to slide backwards before it could dry her out. Smirking, he began to charge for her while leaving behind a trail of fire.
“Push him back with Hydro Cannon!” Elio commanded, using the strongest attack in their arsenal to fight against the blazing meteor whose heat threatened to smother her.
Silky forced her head forward, facing the incoming flames and blasting out the attack with all her might. Shooting a stream of water with enough pressure behind it that even steel could be plowed through, the Hydro Cannon met with the fireball. Their clash resulted in a deafening hiss as steam billowed out, slowing the incoming attack.
But it couldn’t stop it. How could it with the sun blazing above, weakening their strongest attack and strengthening that of their opponent? Despite the strain of the technique, despite her best effort, Silky’s Hydro Cannon was devoured by the Flare Blitz and the resulting collision left nothing but a silhouette that was erased by the resulting explosion that followed!
A Critical Hit!
The flames gave rise to a plume of smoke that obscured the vision of both trainers until something broke free and shot towards Hau’s side of the field. It was his Incineroar, landing in a crouch and panting as he looked battered from the recoil damage. Yet there was a smug look in his eyes as he stared at the dissipating smoke.
Silky was on the ground and struggling to rise back up with her fore-flippers. Worse, her body was glowing red, flames occasionally leaking from her pores. She’d been burned. “Riiii…”
“Silky…” Elio gritted his teeth as he assessed the situation. A burn would weaken virtually every physical move she made and would eat away at her over time, until it wore her down entirely. And if she took another Flare Blitz, that would be the end…
Hearing Silky call his name, Elio fixed his eyes on the Soloist Pokémon as she rose again. He could see a cerulean light churning in her eyes. Determination that raged like the waves in a storm as they fixed themselves on the Z-Ring on his wrist that began to radiate the same cerulean hue.
We still haven’t lost.
That was what that look in her eyes said the last time he’d seen it. Back in Ultra Space. When they’d faced Lillie’s mother and the empowered Pokémon she had. That was probably the most intense battle he’d faced until now.
“I got it,” he said as the message carried, taking a deep breath to calm the anxiety he’d been feeling and holding up the Z-Ring. There was no need to be worried if she was that certain. They would win. He only needed to match his fighting spirit with hers. “But if we’re going all in, you need to be at full-strength.”
Her smile returned as she nodded and then let the power storming inside of her come to the front. The burning red hue was drowned out by the surging blue aura that spilled out from deep within. It draped her body, undoing her hair and allowing the blue strands to waver as though suspended in water.
Silky cured her burn so Elio wouldn’t feel sad!
Silky’s Torrent activated!
“Kamala, stop her!” Hau ordered, recognizing the threat it presented. Kamala roared before letting loose another Flamethrower. The rolling of mass of flames came barreling forward like a train that would run her down—
“Silky, Hydro Cannon again!”
—and in retaliation, Silky put her all once more into their strongest attack. The stream of water that came surging out was bolstered by her Ability, its force intensified into a focused deluge as it swelled in size to match that of the Flamethrower. Fire and water clashed once more and at the point of their impact the primal forces of nature gave birth to thick steam.
“Keep it up!” Elio ordered as he looked up at the artificial sun blazing above the two as steam rose towards it. As long as its light was shining down they wouldn’t be able to get the most out of the Z-Move. They’d have to deal with that first.
The deluge and inferno clashed, both Starters pouring as much as they could into the attacks. The steam continued to form and rise, the thick white plume ascending until it began to blot out the rays of the sun beating down on the field. The roaring flames then began to lose ground, pushed back by the spiraling rush of water with the sun being smothered.
That should be enough! If the sun’s rays and heat were blocked by the moisture and vapor it would stop her attacks from being weakened for a little while. Just long enough to put out the sun entirely. “Good, now Aqua Jet!”
Silky turned the power of the Hydro Cannon on herself, bending it back so that it wreathed her in a spiral of raging water that propelled her forward like a rocket. With the harsh rays of the sun dulled by the steam and the power of Torrent, she speared forward even faster than before. The Soloist Pokémon cut through the remainder of the Flamethrower, dispersing it entirely as she slammed into the Heel Pokémon head-on!
“That’s the way!” Elio pointed to the sky. “Now, drive him into his own sun!”
With the force of the Aqua Jet overwhelming him, grinding away at his fur and pushing him back, Kamala was unable to retaliate as she angled it upwards and swept him along with her into the sky. They shot up into the air and past the scalding hot steam. With her body shielded by the swirling water as they broke through the veil, she then used his body as a battering ram to pierce through the artificial sun!
The sunlight faded!
“Ah!” Hau looked on in shock as his Sunny Day was banished before Silky’s Aqua Jet dissipated and she used her tail to bat Kamala back to his side of the field, forcing out a pained grunt from the Heel Pokémon whose fur smoldered from where his back had been forced against the mass of contained heat. “Buddy, you okay?”
“Inn… incin…” A fiery aura encompassed the Heel Pokémon as he forced himself back up to his feet. Exhaling through his mouth, wisps of fire flew out before he took a deep breath and then let loose a mighty roar that caused fiery power burst from within him! “INCINERRRROAAAR!!”
Kamala’s Blaze activated!
Hau backed away in surprise as his Starter brought forth his Ability. It was the first time he’d seen Kamala bring it out. But then their eyes had met and he understood fully why. It was the first time that they’d reached a point where they truly wanted to win and put this much effort into reaching the top. Before that they were fine with just relaxing and taking things easy, right up until Lillie had to give herself up to protect them.
He swallowed his surprise as he noticed an intense light pouring out of his Z-Crystal nestled in the band around his wrist. Then he turned back and nodded. “Okay, buddy! Go as wild as you want and I’ll back you up!”
A fearsome grin stretched across the Heel Pokémon’s face before he faced the waiting Primarina with her Torrent still active. His muscles tensed as his flame belt began to burn even brighter, releasing flames that fed off the energy of the Blaze to grow an intense shade of red. He then exploded the gathered the flames behind him, using them as a form of propulsion.
Kamala used Flame Charge!
Silky naturally responded the fiery charge with an Aqua Jet, launching herself towards him like a missile. The opposing forces released another plume of steam where they clashed, both being repulsed by it. But neither would back down as they continued to burn and surge respectively, coming around and cutting through the air to continue their bout with the same intensity as their trainers glared at each other.
We’ll give it our everything. The two youths shared that train of thought as the light coming from their Z-Rings intensified to the point of being blinding as their Pokémon danced the dance of battle, putting their pride and bonds on the line as the Z-Power reached its peak. “Now!”
The Starters broke off from their aerial clash and retreated to their opposing sides of the field upon hearing their trainers. The Pokémon then synchronized their breathing to match them before mimicking their moves as they performed the necessary dances. Bulging arms fanned the building flames and while lithe flippers churned the rolling waves, and the amassed power speared from the ring and into the Pokémon that became surrounded in Z-Power!
“Oceanic Operetta!” | “Inferno Overdrive!”
Silky raised her arms and let her voice ring out anew as all that power turned to water and formed a massive, pulsing sphere of water. Kamala tensed as he braced himself and formed a massive, throbbing sphere of flames. Both released them with a battle-cry and turned the arena into the epicenter of a steam explosion the moment they clashed, the thick vapor quickly bursting out and pressing against the barrier that covered the field, separating the trainers from the damage until cracks began to form in it.
“Don’t tell me they’re exceeding the barrier’s limits!?” Kukui said somewhat nervously as the cracks began to spread as the attacks continued to press against one another. The barrier technology was supposed to be top-of-the-line, capable of stopping even Hyper Beams fired point-blank. He quickly called out three of his Pokémon before it could break. “Ninetales, Braviary, Lycanroc, come out and use Protect on us!”
The Poké Balls burst open and the three Pokémon appeared as the cracks began to vent out steam. The Alolan Ninetales touched down on the ground gracefully before darting around to Elio’s side of the field as the Braviary swooped around the opposite direction to land in front of Hau, while the Midnight Lycanroc stood in front of the professor. All three then used Protect and formed it around themselves and the humans.
It had been just in time as the barrier gave away. The pressure that had been building up from the mass of flames and water reached the point where it broke through like a bursting dam and releasing a flood of hot air that howled as it surged out. The Champion’s room that stood at the top of the mountain was covered in the veil of thick steam that battered against the protective shells with a deep rumble.
Then the emergency systems kicked in. The sprinklers poured down water and the vents opened to jettison the hot air and fill it with regulated cold air instead. Together, they cleared the air and the Pokémon dropped their Protect around the three as the last of the steam vanished to reveal the outcome.
In the center of the arena, Silky panted as she struggled to keep herself upright. She looked as though she was ready to fall over. But her eyes strained to stay open and face the direction of Kamala. He was down and out, eyes blanked out in unconsciousness.
These kids are something else, Kukui thought to himself as he adjusted his hat and declared the match when it was clear the Incineroar wasn’t getting back up. “THE WINNER IS THE CHAMPION’S PRIMARINA!!”
A siren sounded out signaling the end of the match entirely.
The Champion had defended his title.
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
“That was a marvelous display,” Kahuna Olivia said, her voice coming out somewhat amused as she watched the kids rush over to their Pokémon now that the match had concluded. She and the other members of the Elite Four were in a private chamber within the League building that served as their gathering spot, watching the match unfold through a screen.
Her eyes turned towards Hala and she noticed the smile he had. “You must be very proud to see him come this far.”
“I was proud the moment he gained his resolve and defeated me in battle to get to that point, but this was certainly a spectacle,” Hala said, before glancing over his shoulder to their guest. “Don’t look that upset, Guzma.”
“I ain’t upset,” said the former leader of Team Skull. He had been invited as a guest by Kahili and was standing against the wall at the back of the room, hands in his coat pockets as he watched. “If the Champion was a weakling then there’s no way he would have been able to beat me.”
“It’s not just strength that was on display here,” Hala told him. “Such power would not be possible if not for the bond between them and the confidence that they could work together to surpass their limits. Even then, they have so much more room to grow. As do you.”
He said nothing to that, merely looking away.
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
Those Old Men must be insane if they think I’m going to stand a chance against that, Plumeria couldn’t help but think as she watched the match from the trailer her granny lived in. The Stufful they had adopted was nestled in her lap, with Lanai sitting next to her and Molo squatting on the ground so that he didn’t block their view.
She had started training again to go and get ready to face the first of the Island Trials that she had to pass in order to do a Grand Trial. That was going to be the trial taking place at the abandoned Thrifty Megamart, and even before that she had to talk to the Trial Captain and apologize to the squirt. After all, there was no getting around what they’d done there.
They’d put children at risk to get the President’s daughter and her little Pokémon. While she had been hoping that they wouldn’t resist since she didn’t want to threaten orphans, the kind of kids who Team Skull would have gladly taken in to give them a home, the President’s orders were very clearly a veiled threat on their livelihood. So if Lillie hadn’t willingly came with them then…
I shouldn’t keep putting it off. No matter what, she had to own up to what they’d done if she was going to go through with all of this for her cute little brothers and sisters. But, even leaving that aside, she didn’t have a full-team at the moment. She only had Salazzle and Golbat with her, the first being what amounted to her Starter.
Team Skull as a whole only had limited amounts of Pokémon directly in their care because they couldn’t afford to take care of too many. Drowzee fed off dreams. They preferred it to be good or fun dreams, but they could get by on a couple of bad ones before getting ill. It beat starvation, and if they had to put some people asleep to eat then it also made pinching Pokémon for the foundation easier too. Same went for the Ghost Pokémon the occasional grunts had managed to grab.
Likewise, Zubat could feed off blood in small amounts, though that changed the moment they evolved, while Fomantis drank in sunlight while they slept during the day. The rest were scavengers of sorts or small enough that a little food went a long way if they stayed in their balls. It limited the Pokémon they had, but at least they still had them.
“Yo! That match was lit! Especially how that Crobat went all-in!” Molo said excitedly. Not surprising, given that he had a Zubat under his care. “Still, those guys got nothing on you, Big Sis. It’ll just make Team Skull better when you win.”
Lanai nodded and spoke passionately in agreement. “Yeah, you can totally take that throne from him, Big Sis!”
“Well, of course I can,” she told them, her tone of voice making it sound as though it was obvious that she would as the Stufful pushed its head against her hand to encourage her to pet it. That confidence was more for appearances than anything, but she had a role to play to the rest of them and would see it through to the best of her ability.
“Your Big Sis has got this.”
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
As the Pokémon League drew to a close at the top of the mountain, Elio was greeted by the biting cold the moment he walked out of the doors. He’d kept his Title, but with the barrier being broken it would take a little time to have it repaired. Time that he should probably spend training if they were going to be facing other challengers of that caliber.
A cry rang out from above as Nebby descended, Rotom clinging to her neck using its two appendages. The beast that calls the moon swooped down in front of him and came to a stop using her psychic powers, allowing her float.
“Did you enjoy the match?” Elio asked.
Nebby stretched her wings out in an excited manner. “Mahina-pea!”
She wants to battle too, zzt. Rotom translated.
“I figured as much.” He reached up to pet her head affectionately, despite the cold nipping at him. “You’re so strong though that it’ll be difficult to find an opponent that can keep up with you. How about we see if one of the Tapus wants to battle soon?”
She consented with a nod. “Peee.”
Elio was about to have Nebby teleport them back to the Melemele Pokémon Center to have the rest of his team healed up before he turned in for the night, given that the battle had been somewhat draining, when the doors opened and Hau came running out. “What’s wrong?”
“I got this from Professor Kukui!” He took a deep breath and then straightened up, holding a slip of paper in his grasp with numbers on them. Elio sincerely hoped it wasn’t a bill for the damage to the arena, but that fear was quickly brushed aside when he said, “It’s Lillie’s number.”
Nebby perked up immediately. “Mahii?”
“She called Professor Burnet before the match and said she’d watch. Chances are she’s still up now, so if we call her we might get to see her again tonight.”
It had been a while since she’d left to start her own journey, and both Nebby and Hau had taken her departure really hard. Not to mention Elio missed her as well, so they should call her while they had the chance with the time difference. “I guess we could go to the Pokémon Center near here, but Nebby’s too big. They won’t let her remain out of her ball to talk with Lillie. The only place that would fit her would be—”
Nebby used Teleport!
“—Professor Kukui’s lab,” he finished, looking around in mild surprise. If he had to guess, Nebby read his thoughts on where to go and then just brought them there. “Okay then.”
“Mahii! Mahii!” She gestured to the computer, wings folded to fit without further disturbing the Midday Lycanroc that grumbled from the corner at their arrival.
“Right, right. Let’s hope the Professor won’t mind,” Elio said as he took a seat at the console and entered in the information. The video line rang three times before it connected and Lillie appeared on the screen.
“Lillie, it really is you!” Hau said, his tone and the big smile on his face making his joy evident.
It was only matched by Nebby’s own trill. “Mahii!”
“Nebby! Elio! Hau!” Lillie clasped her hands together and smiled happily. “I’m so happy to see all of you again. Your Pokémon aren’t hurt too badly from that match, are they?”
“They’re mostly just tired. Nothing a visit the Pokémon Center won’t fix,” Elio said, patting Nebby’s head. “We were going to do that, but she was really eager to see you again, so she teleported us right to the Professor’s lab.”
“I missed you too, Nebby,” Lillie said in a maternal tone as her gentle gaze fixed on the once tiny Pokémon. “Have you been a good girl for Elio?”
Nebby’s head bobbed eagerly. “Hii. Hiii!”
“So, you’ve finally made it to that place you were going to be staying at for a while, right?” Hau asked. “What’s it like?”
“It’s pretty different just from the places we’ve passed by to get here, but I want to explore it some more starting tomorrow and—” She looked off the screen for a moment when a yelp reached her ears as something white bounced up and down, trying to climb up. “Okay, I’ll introduce you to them as well.”
She lifted an Alolan Vulpix onto the screen and into her lap for all of them to see. “Everyone, this is Koko. She’s my Starter Pokémon from Professor Burnet.”
“Pix!” she yelped excitedly, pushing off Lillie’s lap and placing her forepaws onto the desk to climb up it. She then started jumping up. “Vulpix! Vulpix! Vul!”
“Koko, you’ve got to settle down,” Lillie chided the Fox Pokémon gently before turning back to them. “She’s been a lot more active since she watched your matches. I think she’s a fan.”
“Pix.” Her tails flicked in agreement.
“She really seems to like battling a lot too. Even at the Gym, she wouldn’t give up easily.” Lillie’s smile wavered. “If I was a better trainer, things would have probably been different.”
The Fox Pokémon turned and tilted her head curiously, taking note of the change in her voice. “Vul?”
Nebby did much of the same. “Mahii?”
“What happened?” Elio asked.
Lillie told them of her arrival in Vermillion City and the encounter with Astra with an almost nostalgic tone. She told them of the encounter with the Sandshrew, her Mother’s Bewear being confused and how she’d had to run to avoid the Combee Horde with a somewhat sullen tone. And she told them of her defeat at the Gym in a regretful tone, noting how she should have done better with both Koko and Shuckle.
“That’s a lot to go through in a short time,” Elio said. “I always heard that Vermillion was one of the tougher places, but I didn’t think that things would be that tough. I hope it doesn’t give you a bad impression of Kanto.”
Lillie only shook her head. “It’s been fun too. And Koko’s pretty excited to go back and challenge the Gym Leader once we’ve got some more experience. So, until we leave the cape, I’m going to do my best to be a better trainer for her and Shuckle, like all of you.”
She then held her hands to her chest and closed her eyes. “Then, one day, we can all go on a journey together.”
The way she said that so earnestly left Elio feeling a bit sheepish. He looked away from the screen and scratched his cheek. “Then take your time and do the best you can. Really explore Kanto and make plenty of good memories. That’s what makes a journey special in the end.”
Nebby chirruped in agreement. “Hii. Hii.”
“Yeah!” Hau added. “And when you come back, we’ll all go out for Malasadas so you can tell us what your time in Kanto was like!”
Lillie giggled for a moment before smiling brightly enough to match the moon in the Alolan sky. “It’s a promise.”
Chapter 10: Title Defense Match vs Hau – Part 1
Elio sat in the Champion’s Throne nestled on the top of Mount Lanakila, struggling to sit still. He was, at the moment, torn between anticipation and excitement as he cradled Silky’s ball. After all, he’d only attained the Title of ‘Champion’ a little while ago, and now he was being challenged for it.
Yet, he couldn’t find it in him to be afraid of losing it as Hau climbed the stairs and came into view, with Professor Kukui standing next to him. He looked confidant, striding with purpose that contrasted the carefree person he’d been the day they met without changing who he was fundamentally. That was the result of having come to the top of the mountain, the culmination of the Island Trials manifesting with Hau reaching the point where he was a true rival and peer to the Champion.
That was why Elio wasn’t afraid of losing the title. It would be an excellent match and they’d both try their hardest—for their own sakes, the sakes of everyone watching, and the sakes of their Pokémon, who had put their everything into reaching this point. If he lost, it would be after he’d done his very best and there was no shame in that. It only meant there was still room to grow.
That in mind, Elio couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he rose off his throne and welcomed the one who would try and usurp it. “Glad you finally made it.”
Hau smiled as he took his place on the opposite side of the field, while Kukui made his way to the center. “Yeah. I finally beat Gramps when he’s going all out too. So, all that’s left is to overcome the Trainer in front of me right now.”
“Same for me,” Elio said as he moved to his end of the field. “The Champion must defend his Title after all.”
“It does me proud to see you two standing here today. It’s almost enough to make me Burn Up. Woo!” Kukui said with a proud smile. Then a cry rang out as a shadow passed overhead and they looked up to see that Nebby was flying over the top of the dome that gave them a view of the night sky. “With your spirits blazing like an Inferno, this battle will be a good offering to the Legendary Pokémon of Alola that overlooks us now.”
Elio found it symbolic. The Legendary Pokémon of the Moon would oversee the match between the Champion and Challenger, looking down on them from above in a similar way that Tapu Koko had done for their first match during the festival. He clutched his first choice in a Great Ball and held it out. “Let’s go, Hau!”
“Yeah.” Hau pulled out his first Poké Ball and held it at the ready. “No holding back!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau would like to Battle!
“Alright then,” Kukui said as he stepped outside of the circle that marked the arena’s boundary. “Release your first Pokémon and we’ll get started!”
Both trainers flung their balls out high into the air and light speared forth to take form. “Go on, Pancho!” / “Come out, Palaoa!”
Champion Elio sent out Pangoro!
On the Champion’s side, a rumble was heard as a male Pangoro standing a little over six feet tall landed. He stood proud, donning an Assault Vest over his frame and the bamboo shoot in his mouth shifting as he gritted his teeth. Balling his paws into fists, the Daunting Pokémon slammed them together and took on a fighting stance in preparation for his match.
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Raichu!
In contrast, on the Challenger’s side floated a male Alolan Raichu. The rotund Mouse Pokémon with gentle-blue eyes smiled as he floated on his tail, filled with psychic powers. Even in the face of such a larger opposition, he showed no fear and only looked back to Hau to nod in understanding.
“Then, the Alolan Pokémon League Title Battle between Champion Elio and Challenger Hau, will now commence in a 6-on-6 match.” Kukui snapped his fingers, causing a barely visible barrier to generate from the arena floor and outline the bounds—to protect the trainers and himself. “Begin!”
TITLE DEFENSE MATCH START!!
Elio took the initiative. “Bullet Punch, now!”
The ground thundered as Pancho rushed his stocky body towards the Raichu as fast as he could, bearing down on the Mouse Pokémon like a goliath. With both fists clad in a metallic coating from the Steel-typing of the attack and backed by the power of his Iron Fist ability, the blow would be a heavy one for the lightweight opposition.
“Snake around it, Palaoa!”
The Pangoro’s attack missed, his metal fist swinging through empty space the moment Hau’s order was issued. In an instant, the Alolan Raichu had transitioned into a blur, a streak that surfed through the air while shrouded in a surge of pale energy. He circled around and slammed into Pancho’s head from behind with the nose of his board-tail, delivering the first blow!
Palaoa used Quick Attack!
A Critical Hit!
Pancho stumbled forward a step before getting his footing again and then glared towards where Palaoa had gone. “Grrr….”
The Mouse Pokémon was smiling as he came back around, dipping beneath the incoming Bullet Punch and then slamming into the knee of the Daunting Pokémon. The hit brought Pancho down to one knee, leaving his back exposed as the Alolan Raichu came around once more. Accelerating again, this time he slammed into the broad shoulder even faster and dropped the bipedal down to the ground entirely.
“Goroooo!!” roared the larger Pokémon as he stood back up and began to lash out at the agile mouse. It did nothing to help.
“Me and Palaoa went to the beach and worked on his surfing technique and speed just for this. Your Pokémon’s big, but it won’t be able to hit something smaller and faster than it like that,” Hau said to the Champion with a grin as the Pangoro was assailed from different sides in rapid succession. The Alolan Raichu was just too fast to hit with random swings and, while the Quick Attacks weren’t hurting all that much, the damage added up and would chip away at Pancho’s endurance to wear him out.
“Don’t think we’ve been sitting on our tails either,” Elio said. “Don’t just lash out, Pancho! Remember the training we did in the Gardens!”
“Grrrr…” Pancho grumbled as he tempered his anger. Bringing his arms close to guard his head and withstanding the blows as he calmed down, he closed his eyes and let the shoot in his mouth grasp the air. Then he began to dodge, bobbing and weaving his upper body out of the way of the attacks as they came.
Rotom had mentioned that their species could learn to read movements in the air by focusing their attention on the shoot in their mouths. Pancho had too bad of a temperament to do so at first, thinking of only punching fast and hard to end a fight. But Elio had worked on that by teaching him to calm down and focus during their training sessions in Malie Garden
“That’s the way!” Elio shouted as he thrust his fist forward. “Now, pay back everything it gave you and more!”
Reading an incoming attack, the Pangoro dodged a final time. The Mouse Pokémon passed by his head as he ducked down. Then he twisted his body, bringing his fist wreathed in dark energy into an uppercut!
Pancho used Payback!
The Mouse Pokémon cried out in a shrill shriek as the blow connected and sent him not only skyward, but spiraling out of control. The Dark-typing of the attack snuffed out the psychic energy stored in the tail, leaving him unable to levitate. The Daunting Pokémon then launched himself upwards, fist extended to deliver a Sky Uppercut as the finishing blow!
“Palaoa, Focus Blast straight down!” Hau commanded. The Alolan Raichu, still in the midst of spiraling, built up a sphere of pure power within his tail and launched right down, into the path of the ascending blow. The glare of its light reflected in the Pangoro’s eyes before the contained power was set loose, rupturing on impact and rocketing the Daunting Pokémon down to the arena floor!
Pancho hit the ground with a heavy thud on impact. Tendrils of smoke were wafting off his Assault Vest as he managed to get up to one knee and let out a groan of pain. It was just in time as the Alolan Raichu geared up to fire another one to finish the Pangoro off.
“Block it with a Stone Edge!” Elio ordered.
Gritting his teeth at the order, Pancho slammed his fist into the ground. A pillar of light-blue rock sprung up in front of him and in the middle of the projectile’s flight path as a result. It detonated on impact, scattering light-blue fragments of stone and a cloud of dust as the Pangoro got back to his feet and stood proud once more.
The Alolan Raichu mounted his tail once more, filling it with psychic energy to levitate in the air and circle around. The electric sacs on his cheeks sparked before he released a Thunderbolt to attack from behind, the lightning snaking towards the opposition’s unguarded back. But before it could hit another stone pillar rose up to intercept the attack, leaving the electricity to scorch the stone’s surface before fizzling out.
Dragging this out longer will only hurt Pancho more, Elio thought to himself before questioning what to do next. Closing the distance without an opening would put him in range for another Focus Blast, so they needed to make one. “Pancho, use Bullet Punch and send the stone flying towards him!”
Pancho reeled back and wound up a punch as metal clad his fist once more. Twisting his hips and striking with all his might, he unleashed a Bullet Punch that was strong enough to shatter the pillar entirely. The momentum sent the stone shards flying towards the aerial Mouse Pokémon in a spread pattern that encompassed most of that side of the field for a sure hit.
“Grab them with Psychic!” Hau ordered before panic could set in. Palaoa’s eyes flashed and his body was wreathed in a cerulean light as he used psychic power to send out a wave that shrouded the impromptu barrage that came flying for him in the same light. They all halted midair, now under his control. “Good job! Now send them right back!”
“Rai-Rai!!” The stones all lined up and pointed towards the now defenseless Pangoro. The electric-psychic Mouse Pokémon prepared to launch them forward—
—when the Daunting Pokémon’s throat shone with an ebon light and he bellowed out a mighty roar that sent the darkness along the sound wave, slamming into both the Mouse Pokémon and stones. “GOOOOOOOOORRRRRRROOOOOO!!!”
The Dark-type attack stripped the psychic power from both his tail and the stones as it passed through them, sending them falling towards the ground. Pancho leapt forward with all his might, metal cloaking his right fist as he took advantage of the opening. Closing the distance before his opponent could recover again, he brought it around for a singular blow!
Pancho used Bullet Punch!
A Critical Hit!
The meaty sound of metal-on-flesh was followed by a shriek cut short. The Alolan Raichu crumpled utterly under the blow and was out like a blown light as he tumbled to the ground. Pancho grabbed him before he could hit and landed with a thump, setting the defeated Pokémon that had challenged him on the ground gently.
“Raichu is unable to battle!” Kukui announced. “This round goes to the Champion’s Pangoro!”
“Rest up, buddy. You did good,” Hau said as he recalled his first Pokémon and then reached for his second. “Your turn, Koa!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Leafeon!
Taking the field for the Challenger’s side this time was his male Leafeon, Koa. The Verdant Pokémon’s brown eyes peered up at the Pangoro, assessing him as he waited for the match to begin. The damage that he’d taken before and labored breathing only served to decide how to end this.
“Begin!” Kukui announced.
Koa used Charm!
Koa just stared as Pancho charged forward to finish it as quickly as possible with a soft look in his eyes, sparkling innocence radiating from them. The eyes invaded the Daunting Pokémon’s mind, growing larger and overwhelming as they robbed him of his strength. They pleaded with him not to harm it as he bore down on the Verdant Pokémon, leaving his fist trembling as he pulled back the blow to soften the hit—
Koa used Leaf Blade!
—and was rewarded for his mercy with pain as Koa immediately dropped the Charm and a pale-green light wreathed his tail. The foliage became as solid as steel and was then brought around, striking Pancho. Hit with a surprising amount of force, the Daunting Pokémon was sent tumbling back on the ground.
“Pancho, Stone Edge!” Elio ordered as his Pokémon got back his footing. Enraged at being fooled, the Daunting Pokémon slammed his fists onto the ground and a stone pillar erupted from beneath Koa… or at least where Koa would have been if he hadn’t moved and dodged the attack. Infuriated, Pancho then began to charge again with dark energy teeming within his fists to pay it back.
Koa used Quick Attack!
Koa leapt backwards with a sort of grace that could only be found through practice, like a leaf blowing in the wind as his body spun in the air with a somersault. Then, as soon as he landed, he was wreathed in the pale energy of a Quick Attack and launched himself forward to ram into Pancho’s head for a decisive strike!
A Critical Hit!
Pancho wavered on his feet from the blow, taking two steps backwards before his legs gave out. He fell onto his knees and then his stocky body hit the ground, unconscious. Kukui called the battle in Koa’s victory as it was clear he could no longer fight.
“You were pushing yourself after that Focus Blast, huh? Thanks for that,” Elio said apologetically to the Daunting Pokémon as he recalled it. Then he threw his second Poké Ball into the air to release his next choice. “Don’t underestimate this one, Orika!”
Champion Elio sent out Oricorio!
Taking the field in a subdued yet elegant stance was the Dancing Pokémon. The Sensu-style female Oricorio made a reassuring gesture to her trainer with her fan-shaped wingtips as her eyes remained fixed on the Leafeon. The message carried: she wouldn’t underestimate it despite the type-advantage.
“Are both sides ready?” Kukui asked. They both gave him a nod, so he continued. “Then let the third battle of the Title Defense Match begin!”
Hau took the initiative this time. “Koa, blind her with Sand Attack!”
The Leafeon whipped his tail around, grains of sand surrounding it densely. With a lash, the collective grains were sent flying out as a stream that rushed down the Dancing Pokémon. She was forced to shield her eyes with her wings as it washed over her, before she spun around in a serene motion and flapped her fan-tipped wings.
Orika used Air Cutter!
Razor-sharp winds flew from her wings, scattering the sand and rushing towards the Verdant Pokémon. Koa shot out of the attack range before he could be hit while outlined in a shroud of white, darting for the Oricorio. She released another series of cutting winds to impede him, slicing at the Verdant Pokémon that refused to back down, before she realized she’d be overtaken and took flight to get some distance. But it was too late as the Leafeon pounced before she could get away, showing teeth tinged with dark energy!
Koa used Bite!
The Leafeon bit down on Orika’s wing midair, and used his momentum and weight to drive her back into the ground. The Dancing Pokémon cried out as she was then swung around like a toy. Her serene demeanor was broken by panic as she flailed her other wing out.
“Calm down and use Air Cutter while he can’t get away!” Elio instructed. Regaining control, the Dancing Pokémon brought her other wing around and released a point-blank cutting gale down on the Leafeon’s back. The attack struck hard, causing Koa to release his grip on the Oricorio that took flight once again and fluttered out of range of another Bite. “Now, Acrobatics!”
“Try it and get it with a Razor Leaf before it can hit!” Hau counter-ordered.
The Verdant Pokémon’s spun around and flicked his tail, letting loose a barrage of spinning, razor-sharp foliage towards the Dancing Pokémon that moved with a bewitching and alluring grace, her body illuminated with a cerulean light as she danced in the sky. The leaves were dodged within a hair’s breadth between her twist and turns, discerning afterimages left in her wake as she built up momentum and speed to close the distance!
Orika used Acrobatics!
Speed and power struck the Verdant Pokémon head-on and sent him into a tumble on the ground. He rolled to a stop with spirals in his eyes and moaned softly as unconsciousness took him. Kukui called it and Hau was down another Pokémon as the Oricorio landed on her trainer’s side of the field.
“Rest up,” Hau said as he recalled his Leafeon and then decided between the remaining four. “I guess it’s your turn now, Hia!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Komala!
A female Komala took to the field, her wooden log landing on the ground a split-second before she did. Holding onto it tightly with her little claws, she rubbed her cheek against it and mumbled softly as she continued to sleep. “Maa…”
Hia is drowsing!
“Orika, how bad are you hurt?” Elio asked before the next round began. She tilted her damaged wing, giving him a glance to examine the extent of the damage she’d taken. He nodded in understanding and then waited for the professor to announce the start of the match before gave the order to fix it. “Okay, heal up now!”
Orika used Roost!
She folded up her wings up and closed her eyes, her body glowing in a pale light. The damage began mending. Her wing that had been used as a chew toy no longer displaying the marks where the Leafeon’s fangs had bitten into it.
“Hia, use Earthquake before she can finish!” Hau ordered. The Komala’s large, round ears twitched in response before she raised her wooden log into the air and then slammed it into the ground. Shockwaves radiated out from the impact, knocking the Dancing Pokémon’s feet from beneath her before she could finish healing. “Now, Shadow Claw!”
“Back in the air!” Elio instructed as Hia then used her wooden log like a spinning top to close the distance, solidified shadows draping the claws on her toes making it like a circular saw. Orika managed to beat her wings and push off the ground with her feet before the Shadow Claw could connect.
Seeing she was out range for a Shadow Claw, Hau changed his order to the Drowsing Pokémon. “Make her sleepy!”
Hia used Yawn!
Hia sighed, releasing a number of clear bubbles as she as spun on her wooden log. Connecting with any one of them would make an opponent drowsy the moment that they popped. They began to rise up in the air to reach the Oricorio, creating an aerial minefield of sorts.
Orika began to beat her wings faster and release another Air Cutter to clear the air—
Hia used Sucker Punch!
—when she was abruptly smacked in the face by the wooden log, which was tinged in Dark-type energy. The blow sent her falling back down, bursting Yawn bubbles as she made her way back towards the ground. The drowsiness overtook her even as she tried to flutter her wings and stay airborne, leaving her open for a finishing strike.
Hia used Wood Hammer!
The female Komala’s log became shrouded in viridian light this time before she launched it again towards the half-asleep Dancing Pokémon while she was unable to dodge. It struck hard and fast, despite not being very effective, hitting the rather frail bird decisively and wrenching out a shriek as she collapsed onto the ground. The wooden log then bounced back into its owner’s waiting arms and she snuggled against it with a slight smile on her face.
She’s tougher than she looks, Elio couldn’t help but think as he recalled his Oricorio and Kukui announced the win for Hau’s Komala. Yet, it wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining if it was easy. And the way things were escalating caused his heartbeat to quicken. “Let’s take it to the next level, Shussey!”
Champion Elio sent out Goodra!
For his third Pokémon, Elio sent out his male Goodra. Shussey landed onto his side of the field with a loud thump, his pudgy body bobbing before coming to a stop. Standing at over six feet tall, he rolled his neck and looked down on Drowsing Pokémon that remained fixed against her log like a security blanket.
“If both sides are ready, begin!” Kukui announced.
The two trainers immediately gave their orders at the same time. “Use Yawn again!” / “Make it rain!”
Shussey used Rain Dance!
The Goodra raised his arms to the air and let out a roar. Dark cloud began to form over the arena, dense with rain as the Yawn bubbles began to flow towards him. The poignant and fresh scent of water filled the air as the beating of the fat droplets against the floor rang out.
It started to rain!
Elio thrust his hand forward. “Now, strike it down with Power Whip!”
Shussey’s antennae were shrouded in a deep shade of purple at the command. He whipped his head around and then thrust them forward like spears towards his tiny opponent, plowing through the Yawn bubbles to strike home. The Drowsing Pokémon was knocked back into the air even as Shussey grew drowsy.
“Spin out and counter, Hia!”
Hia used Rapid Spin!
Hia landed wobbly from the attack on the flat of her log and then used her body to build up momentum as a follow-up attack came for her, turning into a literal spinning top. She darted away as the lashing antennae smashed into the ground where she had stood, throwing up a spray of water, and cut across the arena floor. Once she was in range to launch a counter-attack, Hia bounced up to slam the spinning bottom against the Dragon Pokémon!
A Critical Hit!
Shussey buckled under the assault, staggering backwards but refusing to fall as he fought against the pain and mounting lethargy that grew with each passing second to keep track of the Komala as she continued to spin. His eyes grew heavy as he craned his head around to deliver two simultaneous strikes from the upper-left and a sweep of the bottom. His attack failed to reach as the Drowsing Pokémon circled him faster than he could keep up, landing another jumping attack at his backside and bringing him to his knees. He struggled to get back up until the urge to sleep became overpowering and finally he fell asleep.
“He’s out!” Hau shouted. “Now, bring down the hammer!”
Hia shifted from a spinning top into a hammer as she angled her log to bounce into the air, scattering the rain falling onto her fur before she turned the vertical rotation into a horizontal one. Keeping the momentum, she brought the flat of the log down like a mallet to knock the dragon from sleep into unconsciousness with another Wood Hammer—
Shussey’s Hydration activated!
—when the Dragon Pokémon’s eyes snapped open again as the pouring rain soaked into his flesh and purged him of the forced slumber. The Goodra brought his antennae around, a lavender hue cloaking them like armor as he used another Power Whip that batted the Komala mid-attack. The blow sent her flying backwards in the air with a satisfying thwack.
“Perfect!” Elio said as he pulled out a pair of aviator shades and slipped them on with one hand, pointing the other to the clouds above. “Now, call down the Thunder!”
“DRRRAAA!!” Shussey cried out as he raised his arms and antennae to the sky. In a split-second, the dark clouds roiled and grew pregnant with small streamers of lightning. Then they coalesced and turned the point just over where Hia reached her peak into a bright, yellow spot that mimicked the sun hiding within the churning darkness—
—and a bolt came down like the hammer of Arceus, a brilliant beam of electricity that lanced from above to smite the tiny Drowsing Pokémon whole as it ripped the air itself apart with a crack of thunder!
Elio squinted his eyes as the glare of the lightning that struck fast and hard was barely hindered by the shades. The scent of ozone permeated arena as the lightning faded as quickly as it appeared. The drowned-out arena lights came back into prominence, clearing their vision so that they could make the Komala that was on the ground.
“K-ko…maaa…” She whimpered, smoldering and separated from her log as she laid supine on the floor with her arms and legs still extended as though holding her comfort object of choice until the remaining tendrils of electricity wormed their way into the ground. Kukui rightfully declared her unfit to battle anymore.
“Sorry, girl. I’ll give you a rainbow Poké Bean later on,” Hau promised as he recalled her into her ball. Then he took a deep breath and faced Elio with a new one in hand. “Okay, time for you to introduce yourself, Kiwa!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Crabominable!
The ball that was thrown into the air burst open and from it fell the male Wooly Crab Pokémon. White fur broken by segments of blue made up his body, with his legs tipped in ice that left frost where they touched. Holding his segmented arms with massive paws up like boxing gloves, he gave a few thrusts that knocked droplets off his body and made a gesture for the Dragon Pokémon to come at him.
“Shussey, use Thunder again!” Elio ordered the moment Kukui gave the clearance to begin.
“Fire an Ice Hammer above you!” Hau instructed in turn.
The Wooly Crab chambered his massive left claw as ice invaded the appendage until it was completely encased both inside and out as the dragon raised his limbs and let out a cry. Then he launched it upwards with a thrust, the claw detaching at the point where the segments met. The hammer of lightning came down as the ice-coated claw rocketed above—
—and a muffled explosion rang out when the opposites met. The bolt of lightning met with the insulator that was the ice and the force of the shockwave caused the ice to shatter with enough force that it gave birth to a shower of glittering motes that peppered the falling rain. Both Elio and his Dragon Pokémon were left to look on in shock at the improvised rocket punch, and Kiwa took advantage of the opening to act.
Kiwa used Stone Edge!
The Wooly Crab Pokémon slammed his remaining arm onto the ground and a line of stone outcroppings popped up to strike the Goodra at an angle. The blunt-edge rammed into his pudgy gut fast and hard enough that the Dragon Pokémon buckled over the stone the moment it connected. Then he was launched backwards as the jutting stone stalled, transferring the momentum.
“Now bury him!” Hau ordered.
“CRABOMINA!” The roar gave birth to another dark cloud. Chunks of ice and white snow that formed within it combined with the rain and came crashing down onto the fallen dragon before he could rise again.
Kiwa used Avalanche!
The smashing of ice and snow on each other caused it to billow out, creating a white veil of misty frost that covered the field. However, it was quickly thinned by the pouring rain to reveal Shussey’s defeat. The Dragon Pokémon was face down in the snow, unconscious and half-buried with the droplets rolling off his unmoving body.
Elio recalled his companion that had been with him since the Lush Jungle as Kukui announced the round in Hau’s favor before he brushed his fingers over the three remaining balls he had to decide on who to send out next. Two of his Pokémon had weaknesses to Ice, leaving his Starter. But sending her out now would still leave him at a disadvantage if she got hurt too bad.
He made his decision. “Kiina, it’s your show! Watch out for its Ice-type attacks!”
Champion Elio sent out Shiinotic!
Taking the Dragon Pokémon’s place was a Fairy/Grass-type that stood at the height of a small child, a Big Root nestled against her neck by a small holding pouch and band. The female Shiinotic turned her head slightly and nodded in understanding from the instructions she’d received. Then she faced her opponent with a placid smile and unblinking, unwavering dark ovals for eyes beneath the hood of her cap, the brim of which drops began to roll off of.
Kukui looked between them both to see if they were ready before he nodded. “Begin!”
“Use Avalanche again!” Hau commanded.
Kiwa crafted another dark cloud thick with snow and hail to bury the half-Grass opposition. However, unperturbed by the white-and-blue downpour, the Shiinotic raised her hand towards the sky before she disappeared beneath the white cloud of frost that billowed out, the rumbling akin to an avalanche drowning out all other sounds until it stopped. The pouring rain thinned the frost veil quickly to reveal that Kiina had crafted a turquoise dome to act as a forcefield that was surrounded on all sides by the running snow and ice.
Kiina protected herself!
“Good job,” Elio said. “Now, Dazzling Gleam!”
“Block it with Stone Edge!” Hau ordered, taking a page out of Elio’s book.
Kiina dropped the barrier and dipped her head forward, leaving the cap facing towards the larger Crabominable. The Wooly Crab Pokémon slammed his remaining claw into the ground to raise a stone pillar in front of him. It was just in time a bombardment shot out and blanketed that side of the field with prismatic spears of light numbering dozens, several of which wedged themselves deeply into the stone and the floor.
“Phew…” Hau let out a sigh of relief at that before thrusting his fist forward. “Now, send it flying with your strongest punch!”
“CRABO—” He reeled back his massive claw as it was encased in ice again and then used it as a sledgehammer against the skewered stone ahead of him. “—MINABLE!”
The stone pillar shattered forward, large chunks launched towards Illuminating Pokémon. Kiina raised another Protect to shield herself, leaving them to break against it. Then the Wooly Crab Pokémon immediately charged in with an Ice Hammer and began wailing at the dome.
He’s keeping up the aggression to stop her from firing another Dazzling Gleam like before, Elio realized as the Crabominable kept whacking against the dome over and over, each blow hard enough that the water around the dome splashed up as the ground shook. Cracks were starting to form as the protection was reaching its limit and would fail eventually. But, then again, being up close is an advantage she can exploit.
“Blind him with Flash!” he ordered. The Shiinotic dropped her Protect after another hard whack and then lowered her mushroom cap again to release a blinding flash of light straight into his face. The sudden flare elicited a surprised and pained cry as Kiwa used his claw-less arm to shield his eyes and staggered backwards.
Kiina used Strength Sap!
She then extended her hands and her smile grew just a touch wider as pink motes and lavender streamers of light that represented what would be the Wooly Crab Pokémon’s inherent strength were ripped from his body. They flowed into the Illuminating Pokémon from the seemingly gentle touch as the protrusions that served as her fingers stretched out. Sensing this, Kiwa retaliated with an Ice Hammer by bringing the massive, ice-clad claw around in a broad circle to catch the Illuminating Pokémon in a brutal hit!
The ice shattered into a spray of shards and frost as the Shiinotic was thrown back onto the side of the field that was pocked with marks from the previous Dazzling Gleam attack. She bounced as she hit the ground, only for a gentle cerulean light to swaddle her as the rain seeped into her cap and activated her ability.
Kiina’s Rain Dish activated!
The injuries began to slowly mend, fading away as she rose back up with her smile back into place. She then gestured for the Crabominable to try again. As if she was stating that nothing he could do would hurt her for good, mocking him.
Kiwa growled before he came rushing in again with another Ice Hammer. His pride was his strength, forged from the cold as he fought against the dangers of the mountain to reach this point. For it to be taken lightly was an insult, more so when the half-Fairy was smiling in a way that made it seem like she’d never felt threatened by his presence. “CRABOMINABLE!”
“Wait, don’t just rush in!” Hau warned. It was too late as Kiina reeled her hand back, a spiraling orb of pink forming between the protrusions that served as her fingers. She flung it right in the rushing Wooly Crab Pokémon’s face and his figure was engulfed in the ensuing pink-tinged explosion!
Kiina used Moonblast!
He fainted, falling down as wisps of smoke wafted off of his body. But not before he used the last of his strength to thrust his ice-coated claw forward like a rocket again, sacrificing the limb. However, the desperate gamble shattered harmlessly against the Shiinotic’s Protect, his effort squandered as her smile remained wide upon seeing him fall.
I’m really going to have to do something about that habit of hers, Elio couldn’t help but think as Hau returned the downed Wooly Crab Pokémon, wondering if it really was okay to bring her from Isle Aphun for the match. Sure, she was strong. But she had something of a sadistic streak even when she was a Morelull, delighting in lording over her opponent and bringing them to their knees by taking their strength and stamina for nourishment.
Still, now it was three-to-two in terms of Pokémon available for the battle. And he knew that one of them would be Hau’s Incineroar, who Silky could handle. Looking over to Hau, he had his eyes closed and was holding an Ultra Ball in his grasp. The only question that remained was the identity of the last Pokémon he had inside of that ball.
“Challenger, send out your next Pokémon,” Kukui told him.
Hau nodded and then reeled his arm back to throw it. “Let’s show Elio what we’ve got, Kila!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Lucario!
The Ultra Ball burst open and out came the female Lucario at her trainer’s call. She landed in a crouch, blue and black fur becoming moistened by the slacking rain. Then she slowly rose to her toes as she looked towards the Illuminating Pokémon with piercing red eyes. The cap of Kiina’s hood dipped as the rain continued to alleviate her wounds, her smile and confidence still remaining unshakable even in the face of a half-Steel type.
“That’s a rare one to see,” Kukui mused before he looked over to see if Elio was ready as well, or if he’d call the Shiinotic back. Once it was clear Elio wouldn’t, he declared the beginning of the next round. “Begin!”
“Kila, get in close and use Metal Claw!” / “Kiina, keep it at range using Dazzling Gleam!”
The two contrasting orders were met with brief responses before the Pokémon carried them out. The spike protruding from the Aura Pokémon’s right forepaw was shrouded in argent light. Then it lengthened and split into a three-pronged claw.
At the same time, the Shiinotic that stood opposite her lowered the hood of her mushroom cap that shone with a radiant, prismatic light. The Illuminating Pokémon let loose her artillery and the spear-shaped beams of solidified rainbows were fired like a hail of arrows, slicing through the air towards the Lucario.
Kila used Detect!
She closed her eyes as she ran forward, the four appendages on her head rising as though floating on invisible waves. The Lucario wove between the spears that composed the overwhelming barrage facing her, each one coming within a hair’s breadth of impaling her only to be dodged until she closed the distance and chambered her Metal Claw for a slash.
Letting up on the barrage, Kiina raised her head and then extended her arms out. A viridian dome of light sprung up to protect her from the incoming slash. However, the Lucario’s left arm glowed and she brought it around for a Feint-empowered strike that shattered the dome into shards. For the first time that night, the Shiinotic’s smile dropped as the three-pronged claw came around for a devastating slash!
The Illuminating Pokémon let out a cry as the cold steel raked deep as it collided with her fibrous body. The rain that fell left her shrouded in the cerulean light of healing once more, but unlike before there was no smile as she looked up to see those red eyes fixed on her, claws raised again. Before another strike came in, she let loose a brilliant Flash point-blank once more to shut them.
The Lucario snarled as she staggered back from the stabbing pain of the light in her eyes. The Metal Claw faded in the process, as her concentration was broken. Kiina then extended her sinuous fingers to sap the strength of her opponent to mend the pain she suffered.
“Get some distance!” Hau ordered.
The Aura Pokémon avoided it in time with his shout, somersaulting backwards until she felt herself come against one of the prismatic spears of the Dazzling Gleam attack that had yet to return to motes of light as the rain stopped. She then opened her eyes to see a Moonblast coming towards her. The pink glow stemming from the attack overtook her vision and threatened to swallow her if it hit, doing massive damage.
So, using her powerful legs, she took to air with a powerful leap. The orb ruptured on impact with the ground where she’d been, the force of the explosion carrying her forward at the same time. The arch would carry her over to the Shiinotic, whose mushroom cap was illuminated once more with the prismatic light that preluded a Dazzling Gleam barrage that would skewer her from below.
Kila used Bone Rush!
But the Lucario slammed her paws together and then pulled them apart to reveal a bone staff forged of Aura as the barrage was unleashed. Twirling it around to intercept as many of the rainbow-toned spears as she could, the bulk that would strike her were battered away. Those that weren’t grazed her fur and shattered against her steel bones, earning nothing more than a light growl before she flung the bone staff towards the Illuminating Pokémon like a spear in retaliation.
“No, it’s a trap!” Elio warned as the Shiinotic raised another Protect in self-defense to block the incoming attack. While the Aura-forged staff shattered into fragments on contact, it was followed by a Feint-empowered blow that ripped open the protective field keeping the Lucario at bay.
The Aura Pokémon landed in a crouch in front of Kiina, giving her an up-close look at those intense red eyes that drove fear into the Shiinotic they honed-in with Laser Focus. The decisive blow was made in an argent flash as Kila lunged forward with her Metal Claw sweeping out to catch the fibrous body and then coming to a stop on a dime, water splashing from one of the puddles on the arena floor.
A Critical Hit!
The Illuminating Pokémon stood rigid for what seemed to a frozen moment of time. Then the claw shrank back into a spike and the Aura Pokémon exhaled as Kiina collapsed onto the ground, defeated. Kukui verified her defeat a second later and Elio was down to only two Pokémon as well.
“Where’d you find her?” Elio asked as he recalled his Shiinotic into her ball. It was his loss, but there was no ill-will. It only showed he’d need to improve on Kiina’s training so that it didn’t happen again.
“She found me and Kamala while were training on Poni Island and challenged us,” Hau explained. “One thing led to another and she decided to come along to become stronger. You’re going to have a hard time beating her.”
“Well, it wouldn’t be fun otherwise…” Elio held both of his remaining balls in his hands as he decided between them. He wasn’t expecting a Steel-type being in Hau’s possession, which put both of his remaining two Pokémon at a disadvantage again. “Let’s show her what we’ve got, Kou!!”
Champion Elio sent out Crobat!
From the ball emerged the large, four-winged male Crobat. He flapped both pair of pinions as he circled around in the air a few times, getting a feel for the arena before lowering himself onto Elio’s side of the field. Then his eyes locked with that of the Lucario as they sized one another up.
“Okay. If both sides are ready, let the ninth round in the Title Defense match begin!” Kukui announced.
The Lucario darted ahead, droplets of water kicked up from the puddles as she crossed the distance in quick bounds. Her right spike warped, becoming a claw once more as she acted on her own initiative to cut down the Bat Pokémon. The claw only passed through empty space as the Crobat took advantage of his speed to maneuver around her while waiting for instructions on how to proceed against this particular opponent.
“Kou, don’t bother with Cross Poison or Leech Life! Focus on blitzing it and start with Double Team!”
Kou confirmed the order with a quiet squeaking sound as the Lucario came around again with her Metal Claw at the ready. She sent it scything around to strike him down, only to pass through the resulting illusion, much to Kila’s surprise. Then she felt pain as something hard and fast slammed into her from behind, sending her falling forward.
She caught herself, planting her arms down to flip over and then land into a crouch, only to wince from the lingering pain of the blow. Then she saw something moving on the fringes of her vision and looked around to see that she was surrounded. One had become a swarm that surrounded her, each copy flying about in the air indiscriminately. The Aura Pokémon rose back up to her full height and extended the Metal Claw to her left spike as she took a stance of her own design.
That was when the first of the swarm attacked, shrieking as he flew forward for a straight rush while wrapped in the hue of an Acrobatics attack. Kila jumped over the assault, twisting her body to bring the claws around to reap the Bat Pokémon only have them pass through the illusion. Then came another burst of pain that forced out a yelp as she was hit from behind and then sent flying back to the ground. The shrieks multiplied and came from all directions as the individuals of the swarm closed in from different angles to attack while she was downed.
Kila kicked up off the ground into a flip to escape the first one that passed by where she had been and then brought her claws around to lash at the ones coming from the left and right. That left her front seemingly open and one Crobat came for her with an Acrobatics again. She twisted her body and came around with a somersault kick before he could reach… and passed through the copy, leaving her to land in a crouch before being stricken from the right.
A cerulean comet would be the easiest way to describe Kou as he swept her up. Pain sank deep, right down to her metal bones as the Crobat sent her tumbling over the ground, leaving her to bounce twice. She used her claws to brake and then let out a low growl as the cacophony of bats increased in volume once more.
“KILA!!” Hau called out over the noise. She half-turned her head so that he knew he had her attention, while not taking her eyes off the swarm itself. “You can’t rely on your eyes or ears. Ignore them and focus!”
Kila nodded her head and then took on a natural stance as she closed her eyes to use Detect. The four appendages on her head began to move, bobbing on invisible waves. Then when the attacks came she just stood there, allowing the first three copies to harmlessly phase through her body before she abruptly spun out of the way of one coming from her left side, bringing claws around to catch it.
The attack missed. Not because it phased through, but because the Crobat had used his second set of wings to maneuver his oval body into going over the first that came from below and parallel to the second one that came in at a diagonal angle. Escaping from that, Kou twirled around so that he was facing the Lucario as she moved to lunge while releasing a saw-like blade of air from assault wings as the momentum carried him further back.
Crobat used Air Slash!
The blade of slicing air managed to catch the Lucario off-balance and struck her abdomen, causing her to flinch in surprise as a brief shroud of blue coated her body before fading. That was when Kou shot back around with an Acrobatics. The attack would have mowed her down if she hadn’t pivoted on her toes to get off-line of the attack, leaving him to linger a safe distance away before looking over to his trainer.
“Cage her in!” Elio commanded.
Kou nodded and then beat his wings to rise before turning over and leaving Double Team copies along his flight path as he accelerated again. The copies branched out further until they formed a dome around the Lucario, circling her as she clasped her paws together and then closed her eyes again to use Detect. Then the attacks came in earnest, blades of wind slicing through the air interspersed by the clones.
From above, from the left, from the right, from ahead, from behind, at varying degrees—the Air Slashes struck from different angles to cut down Kila and leave no avenue for escaping. Yet, in an excellent display of martial prowess from the Lucario, she avoided taking a solid hit. Instead, her claws flashed, coming into contact with the blades and separating the bonds that held them together so that they ruptured before they could so much as cut her down.
Seeing his attacks coming up short from above, Kou dropped the clones and performed a steep, slice turn. That put him level to the ground and facing the Lucario’s backside, though she turned as though she expected it. No matter, since he rapidly spun in an aileron roll while letting loose a strafing barrage of Air Slashes in rapid succession and her body flickered with a blue glow as they flinched her. He then accelerated into the opening under the effect of the Acrobatics technique, cerulean light wreathing his body as he shot forward once more and landed a heavy strike!
A Critical Hit!
“That’s the way!” Elio cheered. “Now, launch her up into the air and send her right back down!”
The blue comet rocketed upwards from beneath the Lucario and carried her into the air. Kou then stalled and let the momentum pass through her, sending her higher into the air. Finally, he looped to her backside and launched an Air Slash towards the unprotected spot.
Kila turned swiftly and brought her arms around before it could hit to shield herself using the claws. The Air Slash connected, sending her flying backwards until she landed on the ground in a roll. She got back up, only to collapse onto one knee and hold her abdomen again where the last blow had hit.
“One more hit will do it!” Elio said as Kou looped back down to follow through. He came around for the downed Lucario once more with an Acrobatics, accelerating into a decisive strike—
Kila used Metal Claw!
—only to be stricken as Kila rushed to meet him faster than he’d expected, her argent claws coming into his vision when it was too late for him to dodge. The Bat Pokémon was sent into an aerial tumble that would have sent him crashing to the ground if he hadn’t righted himself with frantic flaps of his wings. Then he looked back towards the source of his pain to find nothing there.
“Kou, use Air Slash behind you!” Elio shouted in warning, his voice panicked.
The Crobat acted in an instant. Whirling around while readying an Air Slash, he turned to find the Lucario in the air behind him. She was glaring at him with Laser Focus, so the last sight he caught as he released the blade of wind was the gleam of the arena lights on the claws as they came around. Then there was only the pain of the critical hit and the sensation of the ground knocking him unconscious.
Not that Kila was in better shape. The moment the Air Slash connected, her body buckled under the invisible blade of wind, her claws withered back into spikes, and a pained grunt was forced out of her mouth as she was sent right into the ground as well. The proud warrior tried to rise once more, but her trembling body gave out under its own weight and she fell down as well.
Looking at them both in silence for a moment, Kukui then made his declaration. “Both Pokémon are unable to battle any further. This round is a draw, meaning the next one will decide the Title Defense match.”
Chapter 8: Challenges Ahead
The cawing of the Wingulls filled the air as Plumeria sat down on the bench outside of the Malasada shop. There was a Big Malasada in her hand and another one in the bag on the bench next to her. That one was for Guzma when he got there, being the least she could do since he agreed to meet her there for a face-to-face talk after he got back from Akala Island.
Plumeria was still fixed on what Nanu and Molayne had asked of her. She had a chance to do something for the others and herself, but it wouldn’t feel right to go for it without asking Guzma first. He was their leader and she did respect him more than just about anyone else—other than her granny. So, she felt that she needed to talk to him in person about it.
She was in the middle of taking a bite of her snack when a meowing sound reached her ears. Her eyes drifted down to the ground where, right next to her leg, there was a strange feline Pokémon there. It wasn’t a native Meowth like they normally spotted, rather its fur was mostly a purple color, with the markings above its eyes being a lighter shade of violet.
Plumeria uncrossed her legs and leaned forward, looking down at it. “And what exactly are you?”
“Rroaw,” meowed the feline as it sat down in front of her.
“Hmm…” She held her hand with the malasada in it above her head and began moving it, watching as its eyes followed it. “So that’s what you’re after, huh?”
Its tail swished as it gave her a pleading look, emerald eyes seemingly glimmering.
“Yeah, yeah. No need to be cute with me.” She broke off a piece of it and held it low to the ground in her opened palm. “Here then.”
It purred happily, smiling and about to take a bite—
—when it was abruptly snatched up by the scruff of its neck by Guzma.
Plumeria sat upright and took in his appearance. He was panting, chest rising and falling. He was also soaking wet, his clothing clinging to him. She crossed her arms and asked, “What happened to you this time?”
“This scheming little furball ditched me in the Garden after tripping me into the pond!” he said, glaring at the feline. It hissed at him before taking a swing with its claw, nicking his arm and causing him to drop it. But before it could get far, he raised his other hand with a Poké Ball in it and returned it before setting the ball into an inactive state.
Guzma then sucked in a sharp breath as he sat down on the bench and looked at the blood seeping from scratch that it had made. “Damn cat.”
“Okay, what’s the story here?” Plumeria asked as she reached for her cup on the ground and then pulled off the lid.
“I told you about Hala having me training under that girl, right?” He didn’t resist as she grabbed his wrist and held it out. Nor when she poured the cold water and ice over it slowly, washing away some of the blood onto the asphalt while the cold caused the bleeding to slow. “The one who’s part of the Elite Four?”
“Yeah, the Golf Princess whose daddy runs the resort.” She then had him press a napkin against it while she pulled off her bandana to wrap around it tight. It would do for now. “What about that leads up to the cat?”
“It’s apparently a stowaway Purrloin that somehow got on one of those cruise ships that run to the resort from some far-off region and got stuck,” he said. “It started stealing crap and causing trouble around the place, so she caught it and told me to see if I could reform it as part of training—expanding my horizons and crap like that.”
Plumeria could barely stop herself from rolling her eyes at the thought as she passed the bag along to him. “So her plan is basically to make a former trouble-maker reform one?”
“It’s a devious little pain in my ass is what it is.” Guzma took a big bite out of his malasada. “Mn… It… It acts all cutesy…mmm… before running off. At least we were… mmm… straight-up about…mn… everything.”
“Finish chewing before you speak,” she told him.
He rolled his eyes and then chewed a few more times before swallowing it. A sigh followed and then he leaned back and asked, “So, what’d you call me out here for?”
“The Kahuna came to Granny’s trailer with some guy called Molayne. Said you and him went around with Kukui when you were younger.”
“That was a long time ago,” Guzma said. “Haven’t seen that scrawny guy since he made Trial Captain, though he’d been too old for the job now. What’d they want?”
She hesitated to tell him, not sure about what his reaction would be. Guzma, for all his bluster, took bad news pretty harshly on himself. Especially when he felt that he was the one to blame for everything.
Him getting back from Ultra Space should have been a celebration. But when he’d gotten back, he’d been different. Not just because of what those Ultra Beast did to him, but because he had basically been played like a fiddle by the President—she played them all, really.
As bad as their little group had been, they’d mostly been looking out for themselves. Their Grunts and their Pokémon had to eat, so they did what they had to in order to get by. It was only when she got involved that they started doing things that they wouldn’t normally do, making themselves look worse for the benefits she offered.
Plumeria hadn’t been a fan of it, but went along with it because her family came first. Yes, they were thieves. They got their hands dirty and stained their own reputation in mud, turning from outcasts to petty criminals to get by, knowing that she or Guzma would just turn the Pokémon they managed to get over to the Aether Foundation to be treated and cared for. It was a necessary evil so that she kept the place where she belonged.
But, for Guzma, he liked the praise the President gave him. The validation that came from having a rich and powerful woman telling him everything he’d wanted to hear. So he’d been devastated to be used like that, every bit of confidence he’d gained for providing for their little family and working as her left-hand man crumbling under him.
Now here Plumeria was, offered a chance to do the sort of thing he would have wanted after that.
“…Promise not to flip out?” she asked, reaching into her pocket for what laid hidden there. “None of that beating yourself up or anything, otherwise I’ll be pissed.”
His brows folded inwards at the request, but he nodded.
“They wanted me to compete in the Pokémon League,” Plumeria told him, showing him the Island Challenge Amulet. Then she told him everything else that they’d talked about. That the other adults had been working to change the traditions behind their backs and without them even realizing it. That the Kahunas were in on it too.
By the time she was done, Guzma was no longer looking at her. He was instead looking down at the ground, his hands clenched into fists so tightly they were shaking. Unable to keep it contained, but not willing to break his promise, he slammed the bottom of his fist against the bench hard enough that it shook. “DAMN IT ALL!”
“Yeah,” Plumeria said softly, ignoring the looks they were getting. She knew exactly what he was feeling, because she felt the same.
“If that goddamn Kukui had said anything about his grand plan, I wouldn’t have gone along with the woman’s schemes!” He slammed his fist into the bench again. “I wouldn’t have gone with her and ended up going through… that…”
“Yeah,” she said again, just as soft as before. “This whole mess could have been avoided if they’d said something. But the kids we watched after could have had it worse if we weren’t there and did what we had to do, so it wasn’t worthless.”
Guzma just shook his head, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his fingers before turning back to her. “…Anyway, you should go for it.”
“You sure?” she asked.
“Not going to lie to you, Plume. I wish that I was in your place,” he said, rising to his feet. “But my own screw-ups put the nails in that coffin. Even if Hala’s giving me a second chance, ain’t no way everyone else would be fine with me going for the title with my rep now. So it’s up to you to go and show everyone what you’re made of.”
“Then I guess I’ll see about starting on my Trials soon,” Plumeria said as she rose up as well, wiping her hands on a napkin. She’d also have to apologize to the girl running the trial over in the abandoned supermarket for that mess at the Aether House. “You heading back home?”
“Nah, not tonight,” he said. “I’m going to crash in Po Town for the rest of the day and see about putting this cat in its place.”
“Then come say hi to Granny first and help me carry some stuff from the store,” Plumeria said, turning towards the direction of the store. “If you’re going to be running that way, you can give the three still in that Pokémon Center something to tide them by for a few days as well.”
“Yeah, sure.” He rubbed the back of his head and followed after her.
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
Elio sat on the shores of Melemele Island by Kukui’s home as he watched his Starter Pokémon, a female Primarina named Silky, sit on a stone protruding from the salty water. She sung a sweet song with balloons of water hovering in the air, light gleaming off of them in a dazzling display and were kept afloat by the vibrations in the song—at least that was what Rotom explained. A lot of the local Pokémon had gathered to attend the morning concert, acting as her audience as they stuck their heads out of the water to watch her performance.
Ever since he’d arrived on the island and accepted her as his partner, Silky loved to come here and sing. Sometimes he wondered if she would be happier singing than battling, but he wouldn’t have been able to make it this far if not for her. It was only because she had been by his side since he arrived that he managed to do as much as he did, and became the Champion.
As the song came to an end, the water balloons popped into a rain of that caught the light of the morning sun and formed a rainbow. The various Pokémon lingering in the water applauded the performance as she bowed and then dispersed, going back to their normal habits. Silky then dove into the water and swam back to the shore, where she waded up towards him.
“A beautiful performance as always,” Elio told her as he brushed his fingers against her head. She leaned into it for a bit, happy at the compliment, before jumping forward and embracing him with her fins. He was left on the ground, his clothes wet as she nuzzled her head against him in return. “Hey, come on. You know Mom’s going to make me wash my clothes again if they get all wet.”
“Hahaha… she’s playful as ever, huh?” They turned to the source of the voice and found Hau standing there, a cheerful smile plastered on his face as always.
“Yeah, you know how she is,” Elio said as he sat up, returning the smile with one of his own. “I thought you’d be out training with Ilima around now?”
“I just so happened to have finished this morning,” he said. “That’s why I wanted to tell you this personally.”
Elio took notice the way his smile dropped slightly and his tone got a bit more serious, both of which were rare given how laid back Hau normally was. He gently pushed Silky aside, who also took notice of the shift in his demeanor, and rose to his feet. “What’s up?”
“I’m going to challenge the Elite Four and your Championship the day after tomorrow,” he declared. “I’ve already submitted the paperwork, so you should receive the notice later today. But I wanted to tell you in person that I’m going for your Title.”
A tense silence hung in the air for a pause. It was a declaration of war against the newly crowned Champion of Alola. He hadn’t even had the Title for a month now and it was on the verge of being taken from him.
“Whew.” The tension broke like a Hammer Arm had been taken to it as Elio let out a sigh and rubbed the back of his head. “For a second I thought it was something bad. Sure, I accept your challenge. Come at me anytime.”
Hau seemed a bit unsure of that reaction.
Seeing that, Elio just shook his head. “If there’s anything you’ve taught me, Hau, it’s that you don’t need to be overly dramatic in order to be serious. We’ve been through a lot together, and I remember what you told me the day after Lillie left, so I’d been expecting you to issue the challenge for some time now.”
After Lillie had left, Hau came by his home. It was there he told him about the Battle Tree and his intention to take the Championship, and that they’d have the best battle ever. There had been a fire kindled in his eyes unlike before—so it was impossible not to take it seriously.
“When you say it like that, you make it sound like I’ve been dragging my feet.” Hau sighed, letting his shoulders sag before he got serious again. “I’m going to come at you with everything I’ve got. You and Grandpa. So I wanted to tell you to give it everything you’ve got when we face each other—no going easy just cause we’re friends.”
“I had planned to from the start.” He reached over and patted Silky’s head. “After all, Silky and the others fought hard for me to have the chance to claim the Title in the first place. If I didn’t give it my all to defend it, it’d be doing them wrong too.”
Hau’s smile returned. That was the response he wanted to hear. “All right! No regrets, no matter what!”
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
Looker couldn’t help but grunt as he looked out to the island that was steadily growing closer, hand on his chin while deep in thought. It had been roughly a decade since he had been back to Alola, incidentally for the same reasons as before. More Ultra Beasts—UBs—had entered into their world after ten years, and they were tasked with eliminating or capturing them for study.
“Is there something on your mind, Mister Looker?” asked Anabel, his superior despite her relative younger age. Ten years ago, he and his superior of the time, Nanu, had found her washed up on shore and taken her back to their headquarters. It was around that time that they’d found out she was bathed in the same energy that came from the Ultra Wormholes, indicating that she’d fallen through one.
“I was wondering if the restaurants have added anything new to their menus since the last time we were here,” he lied—well, partially anyway. He was looking forward to expanding his palate with the local delicacies, and maybe catch up with his former superior who had retired after their last attempt at trying to capture an UB.
But he was more concerned over the fact that, once again, the events of ten years ago was playing out. They’d been deployed to track down an Ultra Beast with a Faller, a person who had gone through an Ultra Wormhole, and tasked with capturing it. But their Poké Balls weren’t capable of properly registering it, so they’d been forced to harm it with their Pokémon drastically in order to have a chance.
It had been excessively cruel. He couldn’t help but pity it. And that moment of pity cost the Faller their life, as she had been untrained. It was only afterwards that both he and Nanu became aware that she had been glorified bait for the purpose of drawing the UB out into the open in the first place.
Anabel merely gave him a small frown at the lie. “I’m certain you’ll have a chance to sample the cuisine after we’ve completed the mission. The Aether Foundation has set up a network to monitor for any signs of the UBs. But it would be best that we try to locate them as quickly as possible before they harm civilians. I don’t wish to eliminate them for lashing out and being confused.”
“I agree completely, Chief.” It was possible now to do so without resorting to the methods used before, since they had access to Beast Balls. For whatever madness had overtaken Miss Lusamine to sink millions into each one, there was confirmation that they worked according to the report given by her daughter to Madam Wicke before their departure. “Even so, the number of UBs is greater than before. We may need to enlist the help of another trainer to assist us in the task.”
“As tempting as that prospect is, our mission is to be classified, Mister Looker,” she said. “We do not wish for that information to fall into the wrong hands. I would hate to think of what would happen if Team Dominance learned of their existence.”
Looker’s frown deepened. Team Dominance would be the absolute worst possible people to be informed of the situation. To have even one of the UBs turned into a Shadow Pokémon would be a nightmare, both for the threat they’d present as well as the inhuman process that entailed.
However, allowing Anabel to handle it alone would be tantamount to killing her. She had bouts of weakness and fatigue, perhaps as a result of the time she spent in one of the wormholes that she could no longer recall. He refused to allow that incident from ten years prior to happen again because they were using her as bait, but he had no Pokémon of his own after the death of his Crogunk.
“Then what about enlisting one of the trainers that Madam Wicke mentioned having fallen through the wormhole? To have survived their time in Ultra Space they must be capable trainers, and the longer we operate on our own, the greater the risk of a sighting and information leak we can’t trace back or contain.”
“…You may be right.” Anabel closed her eyes and considered it for a moment. “Of the two individuals who would be aware, I cannot agree with asking the one who led a gang of hoodlums for his aid with his reputation.”
“Then we should ask the current reigning Champion of the Pokémon League for his assistance instead,” Looker insisted. “He’ll likely have the experience and battle power needed to make capturing them for their own safety easier.”
“…Very well,” she decided after a moment, crossing her arms. “Time is of the essence and if he could reasonably be of help, it would be foolish not to ask him. But I still have some reservations, so I will test the young Champion myself before we begin the operation. Should he be able to best me, I will concede in asking for his assistance. Is that acceptable to you?”
He nodded. It was better that way. The UBs would be drawn to him one way or another, given he was also a Faller. If they left him alone without informing him, he’d likely be stumbled upon by one and attacked without expecting it.
The former leader of Team Skull followed enough of a pattern that he could be observed should one be drawn to him as well. So, barring extreme circumstances he would be left out of the loop. After all, informing him may prove disastrous as he would be the sort that Team Dominance would enlist should they come to the island.
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
In the air between Alola and Kanto
“So, you lost to the Vermillion Gym Leader, huh?” Ann said into her Pokégear as the ocean passed beneath the plane she was on, heading towards Alola. Since the operations to capture Bill and secure the Moltres native to the Sevii Islands were delayed, due to the fact that their organization was likely suspect after the interference of the trainer who was accompanying Bill, Ann had been sent towards the islands with two other agents. Their mission was relatively simple—find out what the Aether Foundation was hiding, and if it could be used for blackmail purposes.
They needed to capture Bill because he was the creator of the Pokémon Storage system, and bringing him under their control would essentially give them access to every single Pokémon stored in the PCs. However, with a trainer of that caliber and her daughter staying with him, it would be a hassle to do things in a way that allowed them to go unnoticed. And going unnoticed was essential since the last thing they needed was the International Police trying to gut their organization… again.
Ann had been with the organization since back when they were centered around Kanto and Johto. A few years before they were disbanded and reduced, forcing them to merge with the group from Orre they had been in business with—supplying them stolen Pokémon since the region was barren of them. Having been working in the shady side of things for as long as she could remember, Ann knew just what to look for when searching for signs of illicit dealings.
And there were some pretty big signs when she looked at the sudden change in employment done by the woman’s son almost overnight. A sudden shift in the status quo that left people unemployed would undoubtedly serve as the seedbed for animosity. And that could be exploited.
“Yeah, but we still managed to knock out his first Pokémon,” Astra said on the other end. “It was a Mareep.”
“That’s actually impressive, given you’ve only had your Sableye for a month and Drowzee for less than a day,” Ann praised her. “Those two species can be quite difficult to handle for a new trainer.”
“Jet’s just lazy most times and Blysen is shy, but they’re both good—” A slight pause followed as Astra yawned. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s getting late on your end, so you must be tired.”
“Yeah, and Grandpa is telling me I should get some rest now. Can you call me when you get there? I want to know more about Alola since Lille came from there.”
“Sure thing. Sleep tight.”
What are the chances? Ann couldn’t help but think as she stared down at the Pokégear before sighing. Astra was the granddaughter of Ravin and daughter of her best friend, a sweet girl who was all they had left of her mother. Since they found her, Astra was so… innocent, caring only about fun, traveling, and Pokémon without any ulterior motives.
It was refreshing, admittedly. She wouldn’t have been that way if her parents hadn’t run away when they did to keep her from going through the same things as them. Her mother had been born into the role of being a member whether she wanted to or not, what with Ravin having been a member already, and Ann had joined early on.
They had been the best of friends, or at least Ann had thought so. Yet, she ran away from her without telling her anything. By the time Ann and Ravin managed to find them, both she and her boyfriend—or husband at that point—were dead.
Now all that was left behind was Astra, who would undoubtedly be hurt depending on how things went in regard to her new friend. Or learning just what it was both she and her grandfather were involved in. Ann sighed again at the thought of her looking at them with betrayed eyes and then leaned back on her chair, looking out the window while deep in thought.
Well, if things go smoothly she won’t ever learn. We owe her mother that much, right?
Chapter 2: Back in Alola
Back in Alola, the time difference made it so that the morning sun has just begun to shine over the shores of the islands. While most of the residents were stirring awake to begin their day. However, three in particular were already wide awake.
Exchanging attacks in the midst of a battle that shook the beachfront in Hau’oli City, sand spouted upwards from one Pokémon’s attempt to flatten its opponent. The avian with a body of metal and yellow eyes took to the air once more and left the grains of sand to downpour over the armored exoskeleton of the bipedal invertebrate. The Bug-Water hybrid vibrated to clean itself of the sand as the metallic sheen coating it from the Iron Defense faded and then chittered as it stood at the ready again as the Steel-Flying hybrid circled back around.
Kahili stood on the side of the sand, her visor casting a shadow that covered her eyes from the morning sun as she tracked her Pokémon and shouted, “Skarmory, go for the Ace!”
The Armor Bird Pokémon let loose a cry that revealed the pointed teeth within its beak in response. Then it whipped around with a sharp turn and dove for the Hard Scale Pokémon, its speed increasing as it cut through the air to deliver a Slash.
“Don’t wimp out now, Golisopod!”Guzma ordered as he rose to his feet from a crouch and raised an arm, fist clenched. “Shatter those wings with a Brick Break!”
Golisopod’s large arm on the right shone white with power as it called forth the technique that it had been taught under Hala’s Poliwraith. Then it leapt with all the strength that it could muster within its legs. The empowered chop would hammer the Armor Bird Pokémon into the sand—
“Now!” Kahili ordered.
—except that Skarmory twisted its body from horizontal to diagonal with a practiced grace, allowing it slip through the opening in the empowered chop with a Feint. Steel wings that would have taken a battering under the blow instead shone with a metallic sheen before crashing into Golisopod and carrying it along its momentum until it neared the ground. Then it pulled up sharply, leaving the Hard Scale Pokémon to impact the sand with a roaring crash that threw up another veil of sand.
It was clear that Golisopod was down and out for the count when the dust settled with a sea-breeze.
“What is wrong with you, Guzma!” The former leader of Team Skull couldn’t help but express his disappointment as he recalled his Pokémon into its Poké Ball. In contrast, his opponent instead called hers down and praised it for a job well done. “Even when I gave it my all, I still couldn’t cut it.”
“On the contrary, you have made admirable progress,” said the Kahuna of the Melemele Island, Hala. It was under his request that the match had taken place to begin with, so it was natural that he would be the one overseeing it. “Isn’t that right, Kahili?”
“It was an invigorating match,” she agreed.
“Yeah… well that’s something I guess.” Guzma rubbed the back of his neck before turning towards the direction of the port and Ferry. “Anyway, I’d better head to work. Pyukumuku’s don’t chuck themselves into the sea after all.”
Hala stroked his chin in thought as Guzma left before turning to Kahili. “What did you think of him?”
“I was wary when you told me he used to behind those hoodlums I’ve heard about recently, but he’s got potential. And it’s obvious that he’s cares for his Pokémon,” she said as she checked over the Armor Bird Pokémon after noticing a slight shift in how it had carried itself throughout the battle. She was familiar with how the wings became brittle and battered over time. It would be growing new ones in soon. “Though I am curious why you asked me to battle him.”
“Because I felt that there was more insight to be gained from a former Island Champion who has taken a look at the world as a whole,” Hala said. “Guzma doesn’t see his own potential because of everything he’s been through, and he finds it difficult to trust in both himself and others as of late. It is my hope that you’ll be able to help him realize it so that he’ll be able to become someone capable of taking on the world beyond the shores of Alola.”
“Hmm…” Kahili returned Skamory to its Poké Ball and then adjusted her visor. “I guess I can try to help him stretch his wings out. I need a training partner to go with my regimen anyhow.”
“Excellent,” Hala said. “With that matter settled, I must be off to attend to a meeting with the other Kahunas to discuss an important matter. I trust you will have no issues with getting back to your home?”
“None at all.”
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
They weren’t the only ones awake. In a lab, on the southern beach of Hau’oli Island, a certain professor was sitting in front of his monitor with a cup of coffee in one hand. The other was affectionately stroking the head of the male Wolf Pokémon resting next to him, unmoving with the exception of his tail flicking at the affectionate gesture.
Kukui had been up for a few hours now, going over some of the data transmitted from the Rotom Dex on Lunala. It was still a surprise that the curious little Pokémon that his darling wife had introduced him to had become a Legendary Pokémon spoken of in the old legends. What sort of Professor wouldn’t be eager to learn more of a Pokémon spoken of in legends?
Maybe now he would have a chance to since he’d finally finished setting up the first Pokémon League in Alola. That hadn’t been easy since he had to search and call up everyone who’d completed the four Grand Trials, as well as arrange for the proper paperwork to establish the league. The absence of the typical Gyms found in other regions made it somewhat difficult, but their trials ultimately constituted a replacement challenge and many other Gyms incorporated similar elements of it.
But now he had finished doing so. They had their Elite Four and first Champion. Once the World Tournament eventually came around again, there was little doubt they have the chance to put Alola on the world stage.
Blip-Beep. That was when he received a file on his computer, sent by the Rotom Dex that he had arranged for Lillie to have with help from Professor Oak. He clicked the file open to see that it was a photo of Lillie, hugging an Alolan Vulpix while smiling brightly with her mother standing in the background. “It looks like things are going smoothly for her, doesn’t it?”
“Rauw,” Lycanroc responded, before rising up and sitting on his hind. The Wolf Pokémon then craned his head around and looked towards the entrance.
“Professor!” came from the floor above. It was Elio. “We’re here!”
“Down here,” Kukui said loud enough to be heard as he attached the photo to an email and then sent it along to his wife’s computer. She’d love to see it as soon as possible. Footfalls followed as the first Champion of their Pokémon League entered into the bottom section of the lab. He turned in his chair and gestured to the screen. “Take a look at what came in from our Lillie just now.”
“From Lillie—” Elio didn’t make it five steps towards the monitor before one of his Poké Balls began to shake. “Nebby, wait!”
It was too late. Light took form as Nebby emerged. She was no longer the tiny little Cosmog, but the Pokémon spoken in Alolan legend as the ‘beast that calls the moon,’ Lunala. Now massive in comparison to her previous size, the Moone Pokémon took up a vast amount of space and would have certainly hit the roof and tank containing a Finneon and Lumineon, had she not leveled herself to be horizontal to the floor and folded her wings.
“Still hates being confined, huh?” Kukui asked as his Lycanroc stepped out of the way as the Legendary pulled herself closer to the screen.
“Yeah,” Elio said. “When night comes around, I usually let her fly freely and get a better feel of the island for a few hours before she’ll stay in the ball.”
Nebby finished reaching up to where she could see the picture clearly. She let out a small trill. “Peeaaa.”
“Yeah… Lillie looks happy, doesn’t she?” Elio pulled out his Rotom Dex. “Wake up, Rotom. I want to save this photo for when we see Hau later today.”
Blue eyes blinked before a mouth was displayed on the screen, opening an exaggerated width to yawn. But it’s zzzo early, partner. I need time to recharge my batteries every now and again, zrrt.
Shaking itself awake, the Rotom Dex did as asked and had just finished when Nebby abruptly turned towards the hatch leading up to the first floor and let out a screech. “Mahii!”
“Nebby, what’s wrong!?” Elio asked before ducking out of the way as Nebby used her psychic powers to lift and propel herself through the hatch with her wings folded. He adjusted his hat before running up the stairs to see that the Moone Pokémon was screeching at a Yungoos that leapt out of the window. He ran over and tugged on her neck before she could force more than her head through it chasing the small Pokémon. “Calm down, Girl. What’s gotten into you?”
She states that she sensed something dangerous just now, the Rotom Dex translated as it floated over and out the window, hovering over a set of footprints there. ZZztrange, there’s no record of these footprints in the database?
“I guess I haven’t seen everything the islands have to offer just yet, Champion or not.” Elio scratched his head, looking out into the distance as his Rotom Dex snapped a photo of the prints for future reference. It had done so many times in their quest to help with tracking down Pokémon to capture and add to his secondary goal of cataloging the local Pokémon of Alola. “We’ll look into it later, Nebby.”
“Miiii…” Nebby reluctantly nodded, casting a final glance at the footprints before pulling her head in.
[-A Lily Blossoms in Kanto-]
It remained cautious even after the danger had passed and they had escaped the creature that had nearly given chase. It had gotten curious from the feeling that came off of the “trainer,” as its companion called the human, and the creature. So it tried to see if it could learn more about them, only to have to run away and accidentally left its companion behind.
Hiding behind the rock formation until its companion caught up, it exhaled to calm its heart and then ran its digits over its antenna as though to clean them. They served to help it survey its surroundings, an important function given that the world around it was still as strange as when it first arrived—a strange and dangerous place absent of the others of its kind, barring its progenitor and elder siblings.
They had been in a battle of dominance over terrain, its siblings injured and its progenitor fighting to defend them, when they were forced to retreat and stumbled out into this world. Then a strange, masked creature attacked their progenitor while they fled until they found a cavern of sorts. It was bathed in the same sort of feeling that their home was, making it easier to breathe, but it was also populated by these little creatures that referred to themselves as Yungoos and Rattata, one that stalked during the day and one that stalked during the night.
Their leaders were much like the progenitor in that they held dominance over the lesser of their species, bound by a truce with one another and a powerful trainer called a “Trial Captain” to not harm or prey upon one another after a bloody conflict. Their leaders attacked it and its siblings for their intrusion, but fell in combat to its elder siblings. Then their progenitor returned, having followed the scent trail its siblings left, and released her own to quell them. The effect seemed to be stronger than back at home, as it made them willing to obey the progenitor and shelter their little intrusion of four.
Since then they were resting and recovering, learning about this new world they lived in. The progenitor wished to return home and reclaim their territory, and its elder siblings sought to do the same. But it was different—it was intrigued by this world and wished to see more. It could even feel something familiar in the far distance, like it did from the trainer just now, only far beyond where it could see.
The male Yungoos escorting it clamored over the rock formation and then came to a stop in front of it, sharp-teethed mouth open as he lay onto the ground and took deep and heavy breaths. It reached down with its slender, golden digits and stroked its head like the progenitor did when it had exhausted itself during practice with its elder siblings. Being the smallest of their intrusion, having only molted once since its birth, the progenitor often looked after it the most.
The Yungoos made a purring sound in response and rested until hunger struck it, a rumbling noise coming from its abdomen. It needed food now, so they had to sneak back to the cavern that they’d taken refuge in before the progenitor and its siblings woke. It picked up the Yungoos, lifted him onto the upper-segment that acted as its shoulders and then ran.
Going up the slope and through the tall grass, hard-packed dirt eventually gave way to asphalt and a building that the Yungoos called a “school” for young trainers. It was tempted to look inside of the structure while it couldn’t sense any of these humans around, but its companion barked to discourage it from doing so since the progenitor would be mad if they were spotted. So it settled for staying out of view as they traveled through the back of the city until they neared their home.
Dreams of distant travels could come later, after its siblings and progenitor had finished recovering.