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 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.