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 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 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.