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 10: Title Defense Match vs Hau – Part 1
Elio sat in the Champion’s Throne nestled on the top of Mount Lanakila, struggling to sit still. He was, at the moment, torn between anticipation and excitement as he cradled Silky’s ball. After all, he’d only attained the Title of ‘Champion’ a little while ago, and now he was being challenged for it.
Yet, he couldn’t find it in him to be afraid of losing it as Hau climbed the stairs and came into view, with Professor Kukui standing next to him. He looked confidant, striding with purpose that contrasted the carefree person he’d been the day they met without changing who he was fundamentally. That was the result of having come to the top of the mountain, the culmination of the Island Trials manifesting with Hau reaching the point where he was a true rival and peer to the Champion.
That was why Elio wasn’t afraid of losing the title. It would be an excellent match and they’d both try their hardest—for their own sakes, the sakes of everyone watching, and the sakes of their Pokémon, who had put their everything into reaching this point. If he lost, it would be after he’d done his very best and there was no shame in that. It only meant there was still room to grow.
That in mind, Elio couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he rose off his throne and welcomed the one who would try and usurp it. “Glad you finally made it.”
Hau smiled as he took his place on the opposite side of the field, while Kukui made his way to the center. “Yeah. I finally beat Gramps when he’s going all out too. So, all that’s left is to overcome the Trainer in front of me right now.”
“Same for me,” Elio said as he moved to his end of the field. “The Champion must defend his Title after all.”
“It does me proud to see you two standing here today. It’s almost enough to make me Burn Up. Woo!” Kukui said with a proud smile. Then a cry rang out as a shadow passed overhead and they looked up to see that Nebby was flying over the top of the dome that gave them a view of the night sky. “With your spirits blazing like an Inferno, this battle will be a good offering to the Legendary Pokémon of Alola that overlooks us now.”
Elio found it symbolic. The Legendary Pokémon of the Moon would oversee the match between the Champion and Challenger, looking down on them from above in a similar way that Tapu Koko had done for their first match during the festival. He clutched his first choice in a Great Ball and held it out. “Let’s go, Hau!”
“Yeah.” Hau pulled out his first Poké Ball and held it at the ready. “No holding back!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau would like to Battle!
“Alright then,” Kukui said as he stepped outside of the circle that marked the arena’s boundary. “Release your first Pokémon and we’ll get started!”
Both trainers flung their balls out high into the air and light speared forth to take form. “Go on, Pancho!” / “Come out, Palaoa!”
Champion Elio sent out Pangoro!
On the Champion’s side, a rumble was heard as a male Pangoro standing a little over six feet tall landed. He stood proud, donning an Assault Vest over his frame and the bamboo shoot in his mouth shifting as he gritted his teeth. Balling his paws into fists, the Daunting Pokémon slammed them together and took on a fighting stance in preparation for his match.
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Raichu!
In contrast, on the Challenger’s side floated a male Alolan Raichu. The rotund Mouse Pokémon with gentle-blue eyes smiled as he floated on his tail, filled with psychic powers. Even in the face of such a larger opposition, he showed no fear and only looked back to Hau to nod in understanding.
“Then, the Alolan Pokémon League Title Battle between Champion Elio and Challenger Hau, will now commence in a 6-on-6 match.” Kukui snapped his fingers, causing a barely visible barrier to generate from the arena floor and outline the bounds—to protect the trainers and himself. “Begin!”
TITLE DEFENSE MATCH START!!
Elio took the initiative. “Bullet Punch, now!”
The ground thundered as Pancho rushed his stocky body towards the Raichu as fast as he could, bearing down on the Mouse Pokémon like a goliath. With both fists clad in a metallic coating from the Steel-typing of the attack and backed by the power of his Iron Fist ability, the blow would be a heavy one for the lightweight opposition.
“Snake around it, Palaoa!”
The Pangoro’s attack missed, his metal fist swinging through empty space the moment Hau’s order was issued. In an instant, the Alolan Raichu had transitioned into a blur, a streak that surfed through the air while shrouded in a surge of pale energy. He circled around and slammed into Pancho’s head from behind with the nose of his board-tail, delivering the first blow!
Palaoa used Quick Attack!
A Critical Hit!
Pancho stumbled forward a step before getting his footing again and then glared towards where Palaoa had gone. “Grrr….”
The Mouse Pokémon was smiling as he came back around, dipping beneath the incoming Bullet Punch and then slamming into the knee of the Daunting Pokémon. The hit brought Pancho down to one knee, leaving his back exposed as the Alolan Raichu came around once more. Accelerating again, this time he slammed into the broad shoulder even faster and dropped the bipedal down to the ground entirely.
“Goroooo!!” roared the larger Pokémon as he stood back up and began to lash out at the agile mouse. It did nothing to help.
“Me and Palaoa went to the beach and worked on his surfing technique and speed just for this. Your Pokémon’s big, but it won’t be able to hit something smaller and faster than it like that,” Hau said to the Champion with a grin as the Pangoro was assailed from different sides in rapid succession. The Alolan Raichu was just too fast to hit with random swings and, while the Quick Attacks weren’t hurting all that much, the damage added up and would chip away at Pancho’s endurance to wear him out.
“Don’t think we’ve been sitting on our tails either,” Elio said. “Don’t just lash out, Pancho! Remember the training we did in the Gardens!”
“Grrrr…” Pancho grumbled as he tempered his anger. Bringing his arms close to guard his head and withstanding the blows as he calmed down, he closed his eyes and let the shoot in his mouth grasp the air. Then he began to dodge, bobbing and weaving his upper body out of the way of the attacks as they came.
Rotom had mentioned that their species could learn to read movements in the air by focusing their attention on the shoot in their mouths. Pancho had too bad of a temperament to do so at first, thinking of only punching fast and hard to end a fight. But Elio had worked on that by teaching him to calm down and focus during their training sessions in Malie Garden
“That’s the way!” Elio shouted as he thrust his fist forward. “Now, pay back everything it gave you and more!”
Reading an incoming attack, the Pangoro dodged a final time. The Mouse Pokémon passed by his head as he ducked down. Then he twisted his body, bringing his fist wreathed in dark energy into an uppercut!
Pancho used Payback!
The Mouse Pokémon cried out in a shrill shriek as the blow connected and sent him not only skyward, but spiraling out of control. The Dark-typing of the attack snuffed out the psychic energy stored in the tail, leaving him unable to levitate. The Daunting Pokémon then launched himself upwards, fist extended to deliver a Sky Uppercut as the finishing blow!
“Palaoa, Focus Blast straight down!” Hau commanded. The Alolan Raichu, still in the midst of spiraling, built up a sphere of pure power within his tail and launched right down, into the path of the ascending blow. The glare of its light reflected in the Pangoro’s eyes before the contained power was set loose, rupturing on impact and rocketing the Daunting Pokémon down to the arena floor!
Pancho hit the ground with a heavy thud on impact. Tendrils of smoke were wafting off his Assault Vest as he managed to get up to one knee and let out a groan of pain. It was just in time as the Alolan Raichu geared up to fire another one to finish the Pangoro off.
“Block it with a Stone Edge!” Elio ordered.
Gritting his teeth at the order, Pancho slammed his fist into the ground. A pillar of light-blue rock sprung up in front of him and in the middle of the projectile’s flight path as a result. It detonated on impact, scattering light-blue fragments of stone and a cloud of dust as the Pangoro got back to his feet and stood proud once more.
The Alolan Raichu mounted his tail once more, filling it with psychic energy to levitate in the air and circle around. The electric sacs on his cheeks sparked before he released a Thunderbolt to attack from behind, the lightning snaking towards the opposition’s unguarded back. But before it could hit another stone pillar rose up to intercept the attack, leaving the electricity to scorch the stone’s surface before fizzling out.
Dragging this out longer will only hurt Pancho more, Elio thought to himself before questioning what to do next. Closing the distance without an opening would put him in range for another Focus Blast, so they needed to make one. “Pancho, use Bullet Punch and send the stone flying towards him!”
Pancho reeled back and wound up a punch as metal clad his fist once more. Twisting his hips and striking with all his might, he unleashed a Bullet Punch that was strong enough to shatter the pillar entirely. The momentum sent the stone shards flying towards the aerial Mouse Pokémon in a spread pattern that encompassed most of that side of the field for a sure hit.
“Grab them with Psychic!” Hau ordered before panic could set in. Palaoa’s eyes flashed and his body was wreathed in a cerulean light as he used psychic power to send out a wave that shrouded the impromptu barrage that came flying for him in the same light. They all halted midair, now under his control. “Good job! Now send them right back!”
“Rai-Rai!!” The stones all lined up and pointed towards the now defenseless Pangoro. The electric-psychic Mouse Pokémon prepared to launch them forward—
—when the Daunting Pokémon’s throat shone with an ebon light and he bellowed out a mighty roar that sent the darkness along the sound wave, slamming into both the Mouse Pokémon and stones. “GOOOOOOOOORRRRRRROOOOOO!!!”
The Dark-type attack stripped the psychic power from both his tail and the stones as it passed through them, sending them falling towards the ground. Pancho leapt forward with all his might, metal cloaking his right fist as he took advantage of the opening. Closing the distance before his opponent could recover again, he brought it around for a singular blow!
Pancho used Bullet Punch!
A Critical Hit!
The meaty sound of metal-on-flesh was followed by a shriek cut short. The Alolan Raichu crumpled utterly under the blow and was out like a blown light as he tumbled to the ground. Pancho grabbed him before he could hit and landed with a thump, setting the defeated Pokémon that had challenged him on the ground gently.
“Raichu is unable to battle!” Kukui announced. “This round goes to the Champion’s Pangoro!”
“Rest up, buddy. You did good,” Hau said as he recalled his first Pokémon and then reached for his second. “Your turn, Koa!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Leafeon!
Taking the field for the Challenger’s side this time was his male Leafeon, Koa. The Verdant Pokémon’s brown eyes peered up at the Pangoro, assessing him as he waited for the match to begin. The damage that he’d taken before and labored breathing only served to decide how to end this.
“Begin!” Kukui announced.
Koa used Charm!
Koa just stared as Pancho charged forward to finish it as quickly as possible with a soft look in his eyes, sparkling innocence radiating from them. The eyes invaded the Daunting Pokémon’s mind, growing larger and overwhelming as they robbed him of his strength. They pleaded with him not to harm it as he bore down on the Verdant Pokémon, leaving his fist trembling as he pulled back the blow to soften the hit—
Koa used Leaf Blade!
—and was rewarded for his mercy with pain as Koa immediately dropped the Charm and a pale-green light wreathed his tail. The foliage became as solid as steel and was then brought around, striking Pancho. Hit with a surprising amount of force, the Daunting Pokémon was sent tumbling back on the ground.
“Pancho, Stone Edge!” Elio ordered as his Pokémon got back his footing. Enraged at being fooled, the Daunting Pokémon slammed his fists onto the ground and a stone pillar erupted from beneath Koa… or at least where Koa would have been if he hadn’t moved and dodged the attack. Infuriated, Pancho then began to charge again with dark energy teeming within his fists to pay it back.
Koa used Quick Attack!
Koa leapt backwards with a sort of grace that could only be found through practice, like a leaf blowing in the wind as his body spun in the air with a somersault. Then, as soon as he landed, he was wreathed in the pale energy of a Quick Attack and launched himself forward to ram into Pancho’s head for a decisive strike!
A Critical Hit!
Pancho wavered on his feet from the blow, taking two steps backwards before his legs gave out. He fell onto his knees and then his stocky body hit the ground, unconscious. Kukui called the battle in Koa’s victory as it was clear he could no longer fight.
“You were pushing yourself after that Focus Blast, huh? Thanks for that,” Elio said apologetically to the Daunting Pokémon as he recalled it. Then he threw his second Poké Ball into the air to release his next choice. “Don’t underestimate this one, Orika!”
Champion Elio sent out Oricorio!
Taking the field in a subdued yet elegant stance was the Dancing Pokémon. The Sensu-style female Oricorio made a reassuring gesture to her trainer with her fan-shaped wingtips as her eyes remained fixed on the Leafeon. The message carried: she wouldn’t underestimate it despite the type-advantage.
“Are both sides ready?” Kukui asked. They both gave him a nod, so he continued. “Then let the third battle of the Title Defense Match begin!”
Hau took the initiative this time. “Koa, blind her with Sand Attack!”
The Leafeon whipped his tail around, grains of sand surrounding it densely. With a lash, the collective grains were sent flying out as a stream that rushed down the Dancing Pokémon. She was forced to shield her eyes with her wings as it washed over her, before she spun around in a serene motion and flapped her fan-tipped wings.
Orika used Air Cutter!
Razor-sharp winds flew from her wings, scattering the sand and rushing towards the Verdant Pokémon. Koa shot out of the attack range before he could be hit while outlined in a shroud of white, darting for the Oricorio. She released another series of cutting winds to impede him, slicing at the Verdant Pokémon that refused to back down, before she realized she’d be overtaken and took flight to get some distance. But it was too late as the Leafeon pounced before she could get away, showing teeth tinged with dark energy!
Koa used Bite!
The Leafeon bit down on Orika’s wing midair, and used his momentum and weight to drive her back into the ground. The Dancing Pokémon cried out as she was then swung around like a toy. Her serene demeanor was broken by panic as she flailed her other wing out.
“Calm down and use Air Cutter while he can’t get away!” Elio instructed. Regaining control, the Dancing Pokémon brought her other wing around and released a point-blank cutting gale down on the Leafeon’s back. The attack struck hard, causing Koa to release his grip on the Oricorio that took flight once again and fluttered out of range of another Bite. “Now, Acrobatics!”
“Try it and get it with a Razor Leaf before it can hit!” Hau counter-ordered.
The Verdant Pokémon’s spun around and flicked his tail, letting loose a barrage of spinning, razor-sharp foliage towards the Dancing Pokémon that moved with a bewitching and alluring grace, her body illuminated with a cerulean light as she danced in the sky. The leaves were dodged within a hair’s breadth between her twist and turns, discerning afterimages left in her wake as she built up momentum and speed to close the distance!
Orika used Acrobatics!
Speed and power struck the Verdant Pokémon head-on and sent him into a tumble on the ground. He rolled to a stop with spirals in his eyes and moaned softly as unconsciousness took him. Kukui called it and Hau was down another Pokémon as the Oricorio landed on her trainer’s side of the field.
“Rest up,” Hau said as he recalled his Leafeon and then decided between the remaining four. “I guess it’s your turn now, Hia!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Komala!
A female Komala took to the field, her wooden log landing on the ground a split-second before she did. Holding onto it tightly with her little claws, she rubbed her cheek against it and mumbled softly as she continued to sleep. “Maa…”
Hia is drowsing!
“Orika, how bad are you hurt?” Elio asked before the next round began. She tilted her damaged wing, giving him a glance to examine the extent of the damage she’d taken. He nodded in understanding and then waited for the professor to announce the start of the match before gave the order to fix it. “Okay, heal up now!”
Orika used Roost!
She folded up her wings up and closed her eyes, her body glowing in a pale light. The damage began mending. Her wing that had been used as a chew toy no longer displaying the marks where the Leafeon’s fangs had bitten into it.
“Hia, use Earthquake before she can finish!” Hau ordered. The Komala’s large, round ears twitched in response before she raised her wooden log into the air and then slammed it into the ground. Shockwaves radiated out from the impact, knocking the Dancing Pokémon’s feet from beneath her before she could finish healing. “Now, Shadow Claw!”
“Back in the air!” Elio instructed as Hia then used her wooden log like a spinning top to close the distance, solidified shadows draping the claws on her toes making it like a circular saw. Orika managed to beat her wings and push off the ground with her feet before the Shadow Claw could connect.
Seeing she was out range for a Shadow Claw, Hau changed his order to the Drowsing Pokémon. “Make her sleepy!”
Hia used Yawn!
Hia sighed, releasing a number of clear bubbles as she as spun on her wooden log. Connecting with any one of them would make an opponent drowsy the moment that they popped. They began to rise up in the air to reach the Oricorio, creating an aerial minefield of sorts.
Orika began to beat her wings faster and release another Air Cutter to clear the air—
Hia used Sucker Punch!
—when she was abruptly smacked in the face by the wooden log, which was tinged in Dark-type energy. The blow sent her falling back down, bursting Yawn bubbles as she made her way back towards the ground. The drowsiness overtook her even as she tried to flutter her wings and stay airborne, leaving her open for a finishing strike.
Hia used Wood Hammer!
The female Komala’s log became shrouded in viridian light this time before she launched it again towards the half-asleep Dancing Pokémon while she was unable to dodge. It struck hard and fast, despite not being very effective, hitting the rather frail bird decisively and wrenching out a shriek as she collapsed onto the ground. The wooden log then bounced back into its owner’s waiting arms and she snuggled against it with a slight smile on her face.
She’s tougher than she looks, Elio couldn’t help but think as he recalled his Oricorio and Kukui announced the win for Hau’s Komala. Yet, it wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining if it was easy. And the way things were escalating caused his heartbeat to quicken. “Let’s take it to the next level, Shussey!”
Champion Elio sent out Goodra!
For his third Pokémon, Elio sent out his male Goodra. Shussey landed onto his side of the field with a loud thump, his pudgy body bobbing before coming to a stop. Standing at over six feet tall, he rolled his neck and looked down on Drowsing Pokémon that remained fixed against her log like a security blanket.
“If both sides are ready, begin!” Kukui announced.
The two trainers immediately gave their orders at the same time. “Use Yawn again!” / “Make it rain!”
Shussey used Rain Dance!
The Goodra raised his arms to the air and let out a roar. Dark cloud began to form over the arena, dense with rain as the Yawn bubbles began to flow towards him. The poignant and fresh scent of water filled the air as the beating of the fat droplets against the floor rang out.
It started to rain!
Elio thrust his hand forward. “Now, strike it down with Power Whip!”
Shussey’s antennae were shrouded in a deep shade of purple at the command. He whipped his head around and then thrust them forward like spears towards his tiny opponent, plowing through the Yawn bubbles to strike home. The Drowsing Pokémon was knocked back into the air even as Shussey grew drowsy.
“Spin out and counter, Hia!”
Hia used Rapid Spin!
Hia landed wobbly from the attack on the flat of her log and then used her body to build up momentum as a follow-up attack came for her, turning into a literal spinning top. She darted away as the lashing antennae smashed into the ground where she had stood, throwing up a spray of water, and cut across the arena floor. Once she was in range to launch a counter-attack, Hia bounced up to slam the spinning bottom against the Dragon Pokémon!
A Critical Hit!
Shussey buckled under the assault, staggering backwards but refusing to fall as he fought against the pain and mounting lethargy that grew with each passing second to keep track of the Komala as she continued to spin. His eyes grew heavy as he craned his head around to deliver two simultaneous strikes from the upper-left and a sweep of the bottom. His attack failed to reach as the Drowsing Pokémon circled him faster than he could keep up, landing another jumping attack at his backside and bringing him to his knees. He struggled to get back up until the urge to sleep became overpowering and finally he fell asleep.
“He’s out!” Hau shouted. “Now, bring down the hammer!”
Hia shifted from a spinning top into a hammer as she angled her log to bounce into the air, scattering the rain falling onto her fur before she turned the vertical rotation into a horizontal one. Keeping the momentum, she brought the flat of the log down like a mallet to knock the dragon from sleep into unconsciousness with another Wood Hammer—
Shussey’s Hydration activated!
—when the Dragon Pokémon’s eyes snapped open again as the pouring rain soaked into his flesh and purged him of the forced slumber. The Goodra brought his antennae around, a lavender hue cloaking them like armor as he used another Power Whip that batted the Komala mid-attack. The blow sent her flying backwards in the air with a satisfying thwack.
“Perfect!” Elio said as he pulled out a pair of aviator shades and slipped them on with one hand, pointing the other to the clouds above. “Now, call down the Thunder!”
“DRRRAAA!!” Shussey cried out as he raised his arms and antennae to the sky. In a split-second, the dark clouds roiled and grew pregnant with small streamers of lightning. Then they coalesced and turned the point just over where Hia reached her peak into a bright, yellow spot that mimicked the sun hiding within the churning darkness—
—and a bolt came down like the hammer of Arceus, a brilliant beam of electricity that lanced from above to smite the tiny Drowsing Pokémon whole as it ripped the air itself apart with a crack of thunder!
Elio squinted his eyes as the glare of the lightning that struck fast and hard was barely hindered by the shades. The scent of ozone permeated arena as the lightning faded as quickly as it appeared. The drowned-out arena lights came back into prominence, clearing their vision so that they could make the Komala that was on the ground.
“K-ko…maaa…” She whimpered, smoldering and separated from her log as she laid supine on the floor with her arms and legs still extended as though holding her comfort object of choice until the remaining tendrils of electricity wormed their way into the ground. Kukui rightfully declared her unfit to battle anymore.
“Sorry, girl. I’ll give you a rainbow Poké Bean later on,” Hau promised as he recalled her into her ball. Then he took a deep breath and faced Elio with a new one in hand. “Okay, time for you to introduce yourself, Kiwa!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Crabominable!
The ball that was thrown into the air burst open and from it fell the male Wooly Crab Pokémon. White fur broken by segments of blue made up his body, with his legs tipped in ice that left frost where they touched. Holding his segmented arms with massive paws up like boxing gloves, he gave a few thrusts that knocked droplets off his body and made a gesture for the Dragon Pokémon to come at him.
“Shussey, use Thunder again!” Elio ordered the moment Kukui gave the clearance to begin.
“Fire an Ice Hammer above you!” Hau instructed in turn.
The Wooly Crab chambered his massive left claw as ice invaded the appendage until it was completely encased both inside and out as the dragon raised his limbs and let out a cry. Then he launched it upwards with a thrust, the claw detaching at the point where the segments met. The hammer of lightning came down as the ice-coated claw rocketed above—
—and a muffled explosion rang out when the opposites met. The bolt of lightning met with the insulator that was the ice and the force of the shockwave caused the ice to shatter with enough force that it gave birth to a shower of glittering motes that peppered the falling rain. Both Elio and his Dragon Pokémon were left to look on in shock at the improvised rocket punch, and Kiwa took advantage of the opening to act.
Kiwa used Stone Edge!
The Wooly Crab Pokémon slammed his remaining arm onto the ground and a line of stone outcroppings popped up to strike the Goodra at an angle. The blunt-edge rammed into his pudgy gut fast and hard enough that the Dragon Pokémon buckled over the stone the moment it connected. Then he was launched backwards as the jutting stone stalled, transferring the momentum.
“Now bury him!” Hau ordered.
“CRABOMINA!” The roar gave birth to another dark cloud. Chunks of ice and white snow that formed within it combined with the rain and came crashing down onto the fallen dragon before he could rise again.
Kiwa used Avalanche!
The smashing of ice and snow on each other caused it to billow out, creating a white veil of misty frost that covered the field. However, it was quickly thinned by the pouring rain to reveal Shussey’s defeat. The Dragon Pokémon was face down in the snow, unconscious and half-buried with the droplets rolling off his unmoving body.
Elio recalled his companion that had been with him since the Lush Jungle as Kukui announced the round in Hau’s favor before he brushed his fingers over the three remaining balls he had to decide on who to send out next. Two of his Pokémon had weaknesses to Ice, leaving his Starter. But sending her out now would still leave him at a disadvantage if she got hurt too bad.
He made his decision. “Kiina, it’s your show! Watch out for its Ice-type attacks!”
Champion Elio sent out Shiinotic!
Taking the Dragon Pokémon’s place was a Fairy/Grass-type that stood at the height of a small child, a Big Root nestled against her neck by a small holding pouch and band. The female Shiinotic turned her head slightly and nodded in understanding from the instructions she’d received. Then she faced her opponent with a placid smile and unblinking, unwavering dark ovals for eyes beneath the hood of her cap, the brim of which drops began to roll off of.
Kukui looked between them both to see if they were ready before he nodded. “Begin!”
“Use Avalanche again!” Hau commanded.
Kiwa crafted another dark cloud thick with snow and hail to bury the half-Grass opposition. However, unperturbed by the white-and-blue downpour, the Shiinotic raised her hand towards the sky before she disappeared beneath the white cloud of frost that billowed out, the rumbling akin to an avalanche drowning out all other sounds until it stopped. The pouring rain thinned the frost veil quickly to reveal that Kiina had crafted a turquoise dome to act as a forcefield that was surrounded on all sides by the running snow and ice.
Kiina protected herself!
“Good job,” Elio said. “Now, Dazzling Gleam!”
“Block it with Stone Edge!” Hau ordered, taking a page out of Elio’s book.
Kiina dropped the barrier and dipped her head forward, leaving the cap facing towards the larger Crabominable. The Wooly Crab Pokémon slammed his remaining claw into the ground to raise a stone pillar in front of him. It was just in time a bombardment shot out and blanketed that side of the field with prismatic spears of light numbering dozens, several of which wedged themselves deeply into the stone and the floor.
“Phew…” Hau let out a sigh of relief at that before thrusting his fist forward. “Now, send it flying with your strongest punch!”
“CRABO—” He reeled back his massive claw as it was encased in ice again and then used it as a sledgehammer against the skewered stone ahead of him. “—MINABLE!”
The stone pillar shattered forward, large chunks launched towards Illuminating Pokémon. Kiina raised another Protect to shield herself, leaving them to break against it. Then the Wooly Crab Pokémon immediately charged in with an Ice Hammer and began wailing at the dome.
He’s keeping up the aggression to stop her from firing another Dazzling Gleam like before, Elio realized as the Crabominable kept whacking against the dome over and over, each blow hard enough that the water around the dome splashed up as the ground shook. Cracks were starting to form as the protection was reaching its limit and would fail eventually. But, then again, being up close is an advantage she can exploit.
“Blind him with Flash!” he ordered. The Shiinotic dropped her Protect after another hard whack and then lowered her mushroom cap again to release a blinding flash of light straight into his face. The sudden flare elicited a surprised and pained cry as Kiwa used his claw-less arm to shield his eyes and staggered backwards.
Kiina used Strength Sap!
She then extended her hands and her smile grew just a touch wider as pink motes and lavender streamers of light that represented what would be the Wooly Crab Pokémon’s inherent strength were ripped from his body. They flowed into the Illuminating Pokémon from the seemingly gentle touch as the protrusions that served as her fingers stretched out. Sensing this, Kiwa retaliated with an Ice Hammer by bringing the massive, ice-clad claw around in a broad circle to catch the Illuminating Pokémon in a brutal hit!
The ice shattered into a spray of shards and frost as the Shiinotic was thrown back onto the side of the field that was pocked with marks from the previous Dazzling Gleam attack. She bounced as she hit the ground, only for a gentle cerulean light to swaddle her as the rain seeped into her cap and activated her ability.
Kiina’s Rain Dish activated!
The injuries began to slowly mend, fading away as she rose back up with her smile back into place. She then gestured for the Crabominable to try again. As if she was stating that nothing he could do would hurt her for good, mocking him.
Kiwa growled before he came rushing in again with another Ice Hammer. His pride was his strength, forged from the cold as he fought against the dangers of the mountain to reach this point. For it to be taken lightly was an insult, more so when the half-Fairy was smiling in a way that made it seem like she’d never felt threatened by his presence. “CRABOMINABLE!”
“Wait, don’t just rush in!” Hau warned. It was too late as Kiina reeled her hand back, a spiraling orb of pink forming between the protrusions that served as her fingers. She flung it right in the rushing Wooly Crab Pokémon’s face and his figure was engulfed in the ensuing pink-tinged explosion!
Kiina used Moonblast!
He fainted, falling down as wisps of smoke wafted off of his body. But not before he used the last of his strength to thrust his ice-coated claw forward like a rocket again, sacrificing the limb. However, the desperate gamble shattered harmlessly against the Shiinotic’s Protect, his effort squandered as her smile remained wide upon seeing him fall.
I’m really going to have to do something about that habit of hers, Elio couldn’t help but think as Hau returned the downed Wooly Crab Pokémon, wondering if it really was okay to bring her from Isle Aphun for the match. Sure, she was strong. But she had something of a sadistic streak even when she was a Morelull, delighting in lording over her opponent and bringing them to their knees by taking their strength and stamina for nourishment.
Still, now it was three-to-two in terms of Pokémon available for the battle. And he knew that one of them would be Hau’s Incineroar, who Silky could handle. Looking over to Hau, he had his eyes closed and was holding an Ultra Ball in his grasp. The only question that remained was the identity of the last Pokémon he had inside of that ball.
“Challenger, send out your next Pokémon,” Kukui told him.
Hau nodded and then reeled his arm back to throw it. “Let’s show Elio what we’ve got, Kila!”
Pokémon Trainer Hau sent out Lucario!
The Ultra Ball burst open and out came the female Lucario at her trainer’s call. She landed in a crouch, blue and black fur becoming moistened by the slacking rain. Then she slowly rose to her toes as she looked towards the Illuminating Pokémon with piercing red eyes. The cap of Kiina’s hood dipped as the rain continued to alleviate her wounds, her smile and confidence still remaining unshakable even in the face of a half-Steel type.
“That’s a rare one to see,” Kukui mused before he looked over to see if Elio was ready as well, or if he’d call the Shiinotic back. Once it was clear Elio wouldn’t, he declared the beginning of the next round. “Begin!”
“Kila, get in close and use Metal Claw!” / “Kiina, keep it at range using Dazzling Gleam!”
The two contrasting orders were met with brief responses before the Pokémon carried them out. The spike protruding from the Aura Pokémon’s right forepaw was shrouded in argent light. Then it lengthened and split into a three-pronged claw.
At the same time, the Shiinotic that stood opposite her lowered the hood of her mushroom cap that shone with a radiant, prismatic light. The Illuminating Pokémon let loose her artillery and the spear-shaped beams of solidified rainbows were fired like a hail of arrows, slicing through the air towards the Lucario.
Kila used Detect!
She closed her eyes as she ran forward, the four appendages on her head rising as though floating on invisible waves. The Lucario wove between the spears that composed the overwhelming barrage facing her, each one coming within a hair’s breadth of impaling her only to be dodged until she closed the distance and chambered her Metal Claw for a slash.
Letting up on the barrage, Kiina raised her head and then extended her arms out. A viridian dome of light sprung up to protect her from the incoming slash. However, the Lucario’s left arm glowed and she brought it around for a Feint-empowered strike that shattered the dome into shards. For the first time that night, the Shiinotic’s smile dropped as the three-pronged claw came around for a devastating slash!
The Illuminating Pokémon let out a cry as the cold steel raked deep as it collided with her fibrous body. The rain that fell left her shrouded in the cerulean light of healing once more, but unlike before there was no smile as she looked up to see those red eyes fixed on her, claws raised again. Before another strike came in, she let loose a brilliant Flash point-blank once more to shut them.
The Lucario snarled as she staggered back from the stabbing pain of the light in her eyes. The Metal Claw faded in the process, as her concentration was broken. Kiina then extended her sinuous fingers to sap the strength of her opponent to mend the pain she suffered.
“Get some distance!” Hau ordered.
The Aura Pokémon avoided it in time with his shout, somersaulting backwards until she felt herself come against one of the prismatic spears of the Dazzling Gleam attack that had yet to return to motes of light as the rain stopped. She then opened her eyes to see a Moonblast coming towards her. The pink glow stemming from the attack overtook her vision and threatened to swallow her if it hit, doing massive damage.
So, using her powerful legs, she took to air with a powerful leap. The orb ruptured on impact with the ground where she’d been, the force of the explosion carrying her forward at the same time. The arch would carry her over to the Shiinotic, whose mushroom cap was illuminated once more with the prismatic light that preluded a Dazzling Gleam barrage that would skewer her from below.
Kila used Bone Rush!
But the Lucario slammed her paws together and then pulled them apart to reveal a bone staff forged of Aura as the barrage was unleashed. Twirling it around to intercept as many of the rainbow-toned spears as she could, the bulk that would strike her were battered away. Those that weren’t grazed her fur and shattered against her steel bones, earning nothing more than a light growl before she flung the bone staff towards the Illuminating Pokémon like a spear in retaliation.
“No, it’s a trap!” Elio warned as the Shiinotic raised another Protect in self-defense to block the incoming attack. While the Aura-forged staff shattered into fragments on contact, it was followed by a Feint-empowered blow that ripped open the protective field keeping the Lucario at bay.
The Aura Pokémon landed in a crouch in front of Kiina, giving her an up-close look at those intense red eyes that drove fear into the Shiinotic they honed-in with Laser Focus. The decisive blow was made in an argent flash as Kila lunged forward with her Metal Claw sweeping out to catch the fibrous body and then coming to a stop on a dime, water splashing from one of the puddles on the arena floor.
A Critical Hit!
The Illuminating Pokémon stood rigid for what seemed to a frozen moment of time. Then the claw shrank back into a spike and the Aura Pokémon exhaled as Kiina collapsed onto the ground, defeated. Kukui verified her defeat a second later and Elio was down to only two Pokémon as well.
“Where’d you find her?” Elio asked as he recalled his Shiinotic into her ball. It was his loss, but there was no ill-will. It only showed he’d need to improve on Kiina’s training so that it didn’t happen again.
“She found me and Kamala while were training on Poni Island and challenged us,” Hau explained. “One thing led to another and she decided to come along to become stronger. You’re going to have a hard time beating her.”
“Well, it wouldn’t be fun otherwise…” Elio held both of his remaining balls in his hands as he decided between them. He wasn’t expecting a Steel-type being in Hau’s possession, which put both of his remaining two Pokémon at a disadvantage again. “Let’s show her what we’ve got, Kou!!”
Champion Elio sent out Crobat!
From the ball emerged the large, four-winged male Crobat. He flapped both pair of pinions as he circled around in the air a few times, getting a feel for the arena before lowering himself onto Elio’s side of the field. Then his eyes locked with that of the Lucario as they sized one another up.
“Okay. If both sides are ready, let the ninth round in the Title Defense match begin!” Kukui announced.
The Lucario darted ahead, droplets of water kicked up from the puddles as she crossed the distance in quick bounds. Her right spike warped, becoming a claw once more as she acted on her own initiative to cut down the Bat Pokémon. The claw only passed through empty space as the Crobat took advantage of his speed to maneuver around her while waiting for instructions on how to proceed against this particular opponent.
“Kou, don’t bother with Cross Poison or Leech Life! Focus on blitzing it and start with Double Team!”
Kou confirmed the order with a quiet squeaking sound as the Lucario came around again with her Metal Claw at the ready. She sent it scything around to strike him down, only to pass through the resulting illusion, much to Kila’s surprise. Then she felt pain as something hard and fast slammed into her from behind, sending her falling forward.
She caught herself, planting her arms down to flip over and then land into a crouch, only to wince from the lingering pain of the blow. Then she saw something moving on the fringes of her vision and looked around to see that she was surrounded. One had become a swarm that surrounded her, each copy flying about in the air indiscriminately. The Aura Pokémon rose back up to her full height and extended the Metal Claw to her left spike as she took a stance of her own design.
That was when the first of the swarm attacked, shrieking as he flew forward for a straight rush while wrapped in the hue of an Acrobatics attack. Kila jumped over the assault, twisting her body to bring the claws around to reap the Bat Pokémon only have them pass through the illusion. Then came another burst of pain that forced out a yelp as she was hit from behind and then sent flying back to the ground. The shrieks multiplied and came from all directions as the individuals of the swarm closed in from different angles to attack while she was downed.
Kila kicked up off the ground into a flip to escape the first one that passed by where she had been and then brought her claws around to lash at the ones coming from the left and right. That left her front seemingly open and one Crobat came for her with an Acrobatics again. She twisted her body and came around with a somersault kick before he could reach… and passed through the copy, leaving her to land in a crouch before being stricken from the right.
A cerulean comet would be the easiest way to describe Kou as he swept her up. Pain sank deep, right down to her metal bones as the Crobat sent her tumbling over the ground, leaving her to bounce twice. She used her claws to brake and then let out a low growl as the cacophony of bats increased in volume once more.
“KILA!!” Hau called out over the noise. She half-turned her head so that he knew he had her attention, while not taking her eyes off the swarm itself. “You can’t rely on your eyes or ears. Ignore them and focus!”
Kila nodded her head and then took on a natural stance as she closed her eyes to use Detect. The four appendages on her head began to move, bobbing on invisible waves. Then when the attacks came she just stood there, allowing the first three copies to harmlessly phase through her body before she abruptly spun out of the way of one coming from her left side, bringing claws around to catch it.
The attack missed. Not because it phased through, but because the Crobat had used his second set of wings to maneuver his oval body into going over the first that came from below and parallel to the second one that came in at a diagonal angle. Escaping from that, Kou twirled around so that he was facing the Lucario as she moved to lunge while releasing a saw-like blade of air from assault wings as the momentum carried him further back.
Crobat used Air Slash!
The blade of slicing air managed to catch the Lucario off-balance and struck her abdomen, causing her to flinch in surprise as a brief shroud of blue coated her body before fading. That was when Kou shot back around with an Acrobatics. The attack would have mowed her down if she hadn’t pivoted on her toes to get off-line of the attack, leaving him to linger a safe distance away before looking over to his trainer.
“Cage her in!” Elio commanded.
Kou nodded and then beat his wings to rise before turning over and leaving Double Team copies along his flight path as he accelerated again. The copies branched out further until they formed a dome around the Lucario, circling her as she clasped her paws together and then closed her eyes again to use Detect. Then the attacks came in earnest, blades of wind slicing through the air interspersed by the clones.
From above, from the left, from the right, from ahead, from behind, at varying degrees—the Air Slashes struck from different angles to cut down Kila and leave no avenue for escaping. Yet, in an excellent display of martial prowess from the Lucario, she avoided taking a solid hit. Instead, her claws flashed, coming into contact with the blades and separating the bonds that held them together so that they ruptured before they could so much as cut her down.
Seeing his attacks coming up short from above, Kou dropped the clones and performed a steep, slice turn. That put him level to the ground and facing the Lucario’s backside, though she turned as though she expected it. No matter, since he rapidly spun in an aileron roll while letting loose a strafing barrage of Air Slashes in rapid succession and her body flickered with a blue glow as they flinched her. He then accelerated into the opening under the effect of the Acrobatics technique, cerulean light wreathing his body as he shot forward once more and landed a heavy strike!
A Critical Hit!
“That’s the way!” Elio cheered. “Now, launch her up into the air and send her right back down!”
The blue comet rocketed upwards from beneath the Lucario and carried her into the air. Kou then stalled and let the momentum pass through her, sending her higher into the air. Finally, he looped to her backside and launched an Air Slash towards the unprotected spot.
Kila turned swiftly and brought her arms around before it could hit to shield herself using the claws. The Air Slash connected, sending her flying backwards until she landed on the ground in a roll. She got back up, only to collapse onto one knee and hold her abdomen again where the last blow had hit.
“One more hit will do it!” Elio said as Kou looped back down to follow through. He came around for the downed Lucario once more with an Acrobatics, accelerating into a decisive strike—
Kila used Metal Claw!
—only to be stricken as Kila rushed to meet him faster than he’d expected, her argent claws coming into his vision when it was too late for him to dodge. The Bat Pokémon was sent into an aerial tumble that would have sent him crashing to the ground if he hadn’t righted himself with frantic flaps of his wings. Then he looked back towards the source of his pain to find nothing there.
“Kou, use Air Slash behind you!” Elio shouted in warning, his voice panicked.
The Crobat acted in an instant. Whirling around while readying an Air Slash, he turned to find the Lucario in the air behind him. She was glaring at him with Laser Focus, so the last sight he caught as he released the blade of wind was the gleam of the arena lights on the claws as they came around. Then there was only the pain of the critical hit and the sensation of the ground knocking him unconscious.
Not that Kila was in better shape. The moment the Air Slash connected, her body buckled under the invisible blade of wind, her claws withered back into spikes, and a pained grunt was forced out of her mouth as she was sent right into the ground as well. The proud warrior tried to rise once more, but her trembling body gave out under its own weight and she fell down as well.
Looking at them both in silence for a moment, Kukui then made his declaration. “Both Pokémon are unable to battle any further. This round is a draw, meaning the next one will decide the Title Defense match.”