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Fanfiction A Hui Hou Kakou, K'ou Alola (Sun X Lillie)

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by BraviaryScout, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Alola readers! Apologies for having to skip this update from last week and having it a tad shorter than what you're used to. As a form of an apology, I'll be posting the next chapter up later this week. Before I do get started; this chapter is going to be different than our typical diary entries.

    I kind of wanted to do an intermittent chapter every 10 or so Diary pages to give you all an insight and a guest reviewer on fanfiction.net was already thinking a step ahead with the suggestion.

    So this one is definitely a bit more of an emotional roller coaster. Not all the breaker chaps are going to be like this, but I want to give everyone a look at what Elio is thinking/feeling about how Lillie experienced their adventure in her own eyes.
    Now shall we?


    Sun's hand found a pink ribbon bookmark that lapsed over the back cover. He rubbed his eyes, finally realizing that he had been reading through Lillie's diary for nearly five hours. The strain of sitting and reading made him tired. It was almost dinnertime. Mom was going to be home soon.

    The sheets on his bed were rumpled from him adjusting his posture constantly and he had no memory of turning on the lamp on his nightstand that shed the entire room in a warm yellowish glow.

    Gently setting the diary down, Elio slid off the bed and stood up.

    As he did, he felt a familiar stinging pain shoot right up his shoulder with enough intensity to cause him to fall on one knee. Elio grasped it; his teeth clenched tightly in a pained grimace as he peeled back part of his shirt to examine the wound.

    To anyone else who saw it for the first time; including his mother, it was out of the ordinary, a nasty crisscrossing of a laceration that was an angry red streaking in an eerie symmetry. Crusty scar tissue now covered the formerly fresh wounds in a dark shade of purple that sharply contrasted the tone of his less than pale skin.

    It was a very close call when he had accidentally been thrown off his ride sharpedo when nearly colliding with another rider on Ula'ula Island. The harsh consequence of not strapping himself in securely, his shoulder had brushed rather harshly against the brutal Pokémon's abrasive skin after swerving at the last moment to avoid the newcomer who had zipped right in his path from almost nowhere. It had saved both trainers and Pokémon from a disastrous accident. Luckily for him, the shark was rather tame even after he had bled in the water. Sharpedo were notorious for losing all logic and common sense after detecting a hint of blood. It hardly mattered what kind; human or Pokémon.

    Sun still hated the memory of those scars and it truly was one of those moments that still jarred him to his very core.

    The pain in his shoulder had subsided and he gave it a gentle rub to ensure that it wasn't going to return anytime soon. No dice.

    "Mrawr!" Elio heard a purr and reached down to give Meowth a good scratch on the top of his head. The cat purred with delight, wrapping his arms around the boy's arm.

    "Hey Meowth?" He looked up at the human, "If I'm not back before Mom gets home, I went to my secret spot."

    He cocked his head to the side, curious and unsure how to process the information.

    "I figured." Elio sighed, "Okay, never mind buddy."

    Meowth let out another purr and scurried over into the far corner of the house, deciding to finally jump on top of one of the chairs and curl up for his tenth nap of the day.

    You're definitely lucky my mother is so tolerant of you doing that buddy. Sun coyly thought, Then again, you hardly scratch any of the furniture anyway.

    Reading through Lillie's diary had been quite the energy consumer. He just needed some time to think everything over and how much his journey meant to the best friend he had ever had. Staying here at his house wouldn't do for something like this.

    Elio considered waiting, but figured that everything would plague him from sleeping overnight. There wouldn't be much else to do without waking his mother up either. He had caught up on all the weekly episodes for Five-0, his new projects for the house were on hold until the hardware store got more supplies, every chore for now was complete and it would be another week with all the media frenzy and such before he was on call to defend his championship title.

    No better time than to just sit and recollect all that had happened.

    As he passed through the living room and into the foyer, his eyes fell on of the array of pictures sitting on a divider. It was a scrapbook of sorts, nearly a dozen different photos of him and his mother in different places taken at different times. Elaine had taken the time to arrange them in chronological order.

    On the far right, he saw his own mother. She had been barely two years out of her twenties when pregnant with him, but still lying in that hospital bed in Cerulean City with a beaming smile across her face. From what he had been told jokingly, it had been a long battle in order for him to come out of the womb. He hadn't been too happy about it at the time either.

    Other pictures next to it were with him as he crawled, then stood for the first time, then took a first step and so on, continuing to grow. The second time Elaine was in the row of pictures, there was a glittering diamond band fit neatly onto her finger. His baby self was staring at it while being cradled in his mother's arms; eyes wide in wonder at seeing such a gilded object.

    The photo after it featured someone else besides the two of them. They had all dressed very formally. Elaine was wearing a pure white strapless gown that flowed behind her as they stood under a wooden arch lined with garlands of flowers in a lush green garden. A two year old Elio was in her arm, in a fancy black tuxedo for the occasion.

    Next to them with his arm wrapped around Elaine was a taller man roughly in his mid to late twenties. He had longer dark hair and steely gray eyes. A couple of scars were on his face, but they were overpowered by a joyous smile that was amplified by the tux he was wearing.

    Every time Elio stared at the man in the photo, it was like looking at his own future self in a decade.

    He shook his head, still wondering why, even now that his mother didn't take that picture out. None of them in that image had any forewarning of what disaster was heading straight for them in the coming years.

    Beyond that were more photos. A lot of them contained the man. There was Elio as a young child who was posing with a young redhead woman clad in a bathing suit in front of the famous Cerulean City gym. Misty Waterflower had been one of his biggest idols when he had taken an interest in competitive battling. Her matches with challengers were one of the few in Kanto open to the public and he enjoyed her spectacular elegant shows that she put on while at the same time, mercilessly battering her opponents into submission.

    That starmie of hers was just unstoppable!

    His lips curled up in remembrance of one occasion, when they were leaving and happened to run into her as she left for the day. Elaine was ecstatic at finally getting to meet her in person and after a few minutes of fangirling, insisted that her son get a picture with one of his biggest inspirations.

    Misty was more than happy to oblige, additionally signing a printed picture of them.

    That one was inside a frame in the center, a brief message scrawled in black marker just below the two of them, holding up her signature two fingers pose in a "peace" sign with wide grins on their faces.

    Elio,

    Best wishes on your Pokémon journey wherever it may take you.

    -MW

    More pictures included him in his baseball, football and basketball uniforms, posing with other kids after big games. Their moods reflected on whether they had won or lost, but he considered every one of them, even those that they ended up not winning to be a spark that would bring the team closer together and strengthen their resolve.

    The pictures would go on with the three of them and there was a subtle change. Elaine's smile became more forced…as if she was hiding something.

    He heard the hum of the garage door opening and quickly put everything back. Mother was home.

    Meowth scampered past Sun's legs and sat down in front of the door, eagerly awaiting the return of his favorite human.

    There was just so much to process in his mind from what he had glimpsed through Lillie's eyes. The details she had written in were absolutely incredible, vivid, fluid and surreal. It was almost as if he was reliving those exact same moments six months ago all over again.

    Six months ago when he met one of the most…if not THE most beautiful girl in his entire life.

    I miss her already and she hasn't even been gone for a full day yet.

    Okay…one full day.

    "Hi sweetie." Elaine looked exhausted, but flashed a weary smile at him as she entered the living room. "How is my champion today?"

    My champion. That was what Lillie had said to him during the night of his celebration. My champion…Her champion.

    "Elio?"

    "Oh," He completely forgot about the question and snapped out of his daze. As he did, another searing pain shot up his shoulder.

    "Aah!" Sun's face contorted into another wince of pain and bared his teeth, but he stayed on his feet. His mother was the last person he wanted to show any sign of discomfort since her hospital training would kick in and she would overreact.

    "Are you alright?"

    "Yeah." He grunted, rubbing his side, "Yeah, I'll be okay."

    "That sharpedo must've hit you harder than expected." Elaine inquired, "Why weren't you wearing your ride gear?"

    "I was."

    "Well if you did, it would have a nasty rip and have to send it into Alola Transit for repairs."

    "Maybe," He played it safe. "Maybe I still have to for internal damage and all."

    Elaine's face went concerned again, "Elio are you sure you're alright? Ever since you've become the champion, you've just haven't been yourself."

    "Mom I'm okay." He protested, "Please…I'm fine."

    AAARGH! Stop thinking about Lillie! I'm turning this into an obsession!

    Elio briskly headed for the door, not wanting his mother to catch onto any more details. "I'm going to step outside for some air."

    "Okay. Do you want anything to eat when you come back?"

    "Whatever is fine."

    After Elio had left; Elaine found herself puzzled by her son for the first time in quite a while. All the time when he was a young boy, he talked about sports, Pokémon battling and everything about it. It was what he was truly passionate about. She had seen it. From the watch party that was held in Iki town, he was on that screen animated with waving arms and his fiery competitiveness evident through his expression and body language.

    It was truly an amazing day with the entire town pulling for the boy at the center, who quickly won everyone's heart as Tapu Koko's waeia kekahi. He encountered some trouble with a couple members of the Elite Four, but still managed to come out triumphant. That and the final battle for the championship title against Professor Kukui brought him to the most grueling test as a trainer.

    Winning all of that should've made him overjoyed and lively. Instead, all she got was the attitude, depression and sorrow he seemed to have when they had first moved here.

    The last thing she wanted was for him to go back to that dark place.

    She reached for her phone.

    "Alola cousin!" Alana Kealoha greeted happily after a short time of ringing. "Elaine? How are things with your champion?"

    "Hi Alana." Hau's grandmother was known throughout Iki Town as one of the sweetest ladies, being especially kind to anyone willing to make friends with her, Kahuna Hala, her husband and grandson Hau. She knew the him early on, since he was always at Elio's side. The boy was her son's best friend; she could tell that the two of them were. They joked together, laughed together, trained together and pushed one another to get stronger. Hau was more open and outgoing, so it was possible that he may have told his own Tutu something that Elio was not willing to disclose.

    "He's…I think something's wrong with Elio." She finally said. "He's not himself. Battling is the last thing on his mind and he seems distracted."

    "Oh." Alana's excitement dropped, just a bit. "Well Hau and Hala haven't seen anything. But when I saw them walking up, I could see your keiki with Kukui. He didn't look happy even after winning all that."

    "Huh." Elaine mused. "I came back from work this morning and he looks as if he never left the house. He also immediately did actually go outside when I tried to ask him what's wrong. I think something definitely is, even though he's trying to tell me nothing."

    "I hope his wahine comes back soon."

    "Wahine?"

    "Yes." Alana chuckled, "Sorry, I keep forgetting that you're not quite used to speaking bird just yet. Wahine…it means woman."

    "Woman," She stopped, finally realizing the reason behind his abnormal behavior, "You mean Lillie?"

    "Yes. She left for Kanto last night. Hau was upset after leaving, but he quickly cheered up as he had talked about how much she was going to love Kanto and go experience an island challenge of her own. I think your Elio misses his wahine." What grief he had over her absence had vanished soon thereafter.

    Lillie! Lillie was the reason Sun wasn't himself!

    "Elaine?"

    "Huh?" She gasped, "I'm sorry! My thoughts drifted off. I think you're right Alana. Elio really misses Lillie."

    "That's what Hau was saying. He was afraid that he would miss his best friend if he kept grieving like this. He is likely headed for the kapu."

    "Should I go after him?"

    "No." Alana firmly replied as if she had been familiar with the situation before. "Elio will come to you when he is ready to talk. His pu'uwai is broken."

    "Pu'uwai?"

    "His heart."

    It was two hours later when Elio did return, finally opening the door quietly. Meowth was napping in his favorite bed in the living room and the entrance to the master bedroom clicked open.

    "Sweetie?" Elaine had sensed his presence and walked out, taking a good look at him. Out of the ordinary, nothing looked wrong, but his face was just slightly red and there were a couple of stains on his shirt that were likely from tears that continued to fall free from his eyelids. "Are you okay?"

    "Yeah." He took a deep breath, trying to blink away the flood. "I'm okay."

    "Do you want to talk about her?"

    Sun's breath stopped short as he digressed that she already knew why he was in such a depressed mood.

    What's going to happen if everyone gets word of this? The expert battling champion of the Alola league is crying like a kid because some little crush of his decides to move away. Everyone's going to really find a way to make fun of me…here cooped up in my bedroom pining for her. All because of her mother. If it wasn't for her, none of this would've happened!

    "Lusamine." Elio hissed, almost spitting the name out as if it were acid. "It's Lusamine's fault."

    "Lusamine?"

    "Lillie's mother. She was the reason that she ran away with Nebby to try and keep it safe…and now…now Lillie went with her to Kanto to help her heal from that beast. This is all her fault."

    "Elio," His mother began. "You can't blame her for what she's doing. Any child would do whatever it took to help their parent."

    "Except hers. Do you even know what she did to her?!" His voice turned deadly serious and it seemed that his rarely seen temper was already threatening to boil over. "What she did to me?! When I found her again; Lillie cried to me about her mother and I can't forgive her for that. I HATE her!" He growled. "I hate her so much!"

    "Sun, that still doesn't-"

    "She took Lillie away from me!" Elio yelled angrily, abruptly cutting her off. Now, he was no longer willing to listen to whatever anyone told him. Although she never said anything; Elaine was deeply shocked at his atypical behavior. She'd heard horror stories of moody teenagers being openly rebellious towards their parents and had constantly wondered if her own was going to fall into that pit. For the most part, Elio was mild mannered. Sure, he would act a little grumpy and upset if something didn't go his way, but that was a rarity and he always looked for a positive aspect.

    Here though, she felt completely helpless listening to him in all his pent up anger. She had never seen her own Elio like this; talking so much about anyone. And it had been such a long time when he had said he hated someone.

    "I may not ever see her again!" He continued, uncaring on who or what was around him. "She goes off to help the one person who caused her all that pain and all that suffering! Lusamine doesn't deserve one single bit of that! Any of it!"

    Elaine bowed her head, fully understand what he was going through after talking with Alana. "Elio-" She reached out for his arm in an attempt to comfort him.

    "NO!" It all happened in one instant; his left hand lashed out in a lightning flash, grabbing her forearm and violently shoving it away from him. His actions thus far had Elaine completely off guard. This was not the boy she had raised. This wasn't the humble, yet powerful champion who lit up an entire region with his radiant smile, vibrant personality and treated his Pokémon as a team and family.

    This was a boy who was taking after a man she knew very well. That same man she had tried to get them both away from during his darkest time.

    When he was younger; Elio made a promise.

    I would never yell or physically intimidate my mother. While she was all more than capable of defending herself as a former trainer, he had felt obligated as a son's job to defend her as soon as he was capable.

    That horrified aghast look on his face told her everything. He had just broken that promise.

    Both those promises.

    "Elio-" She started. There was just so much she wanted to do in order to understand what he was going through.

    Without another word or even acknowledging her outreach, he turned and stormed right towards his room. She could see more tears of anger in his face threatening to spill over.

    "Elio!"

    Meowth saw him coming in his direction and quickly leapt out of his path. He had noticed the mixture of anger and sadness playing across the human's face, but figured that being in the way meant that he too, was going to be swatted aside.

    The door to his bedroom slammed with a loud bang that echoed through the house from following silence.

    With Meowth gone from witnessing more than one of these kind of events, Elaine through her revelation stupor of sorts moved closer to his bedroom door and put her ear against its side.

    Through it, she heard a faint sniffle of sorts and a soft wail just moments later, coming to the conclusion that he was crying into his pillow.

    Staring back at her arm, there was no visible bruise or redness from where he had pushed her away, but it was more of the significance of that gesture that had been completely unexpected. Her mind flashed right back to the time in Kanto where something like that occurring in her household was much more common. A much younger Sun would usually run into his room to hide with Meowth, hugging him tightly and hoping that all of it would end soon.

    The resemblance between what just happened and that in Kanto was so similar, it could've been identical.

    "Elio." Elaine whispered, gently knocking on the door.

    "Go away Mom!" She heard his protest, a muffled mumble that sounded strained and hurt.

    "Elio please."

    "No! I don't want to talk right now!"

    Inside his room, Elio felt like grabbing something…anything and smashing it. Beating something down again, over and over, not letting up.

    No! I can't!

    He couldn't believe that his emotions. His emotions over a girl that might not ever come back, had got the best of him. He was turning into a nightmarish person that he swore that he would never become.

    I'm better than this! Elio thought to himself in a flare of frustration. How can I be better if I act just like how they did? Guzma…Team Skull…

    Dad.

    He must've looked just like his own father when he shoved his own mother's arm. As a loyal son, who should be protecting her from all those monsters.

    I was that monster myself.

    How was she supposed to forgive him after that? She may have had a traumatic flashback to the many times in Kanto where the man in subject constantly yelled at his own family. For what?

    How am I supposed to face Mom after that? How is she going to forgive me? I may have just ruined my own family because of Lillie. I may never even see her again! I feel like a damn kid who's fallen hopelessly in love with a girl and spends all his time in a pit of depression, pining for her like some idiot!

    Elio didn't know what to think. The one person who was trying her hardest to understand why he was so depressed, angry and sad was his own mother. Whose arm he just slapped away in a frighteningly exact manner like the person they moved away from.

    I didn't mean to! I was so angry at Lusamine that I didn't think straight! Goddammit, I'm so stupid!

    He still had to take accountability for his actions though. His mother may have been hurt by what he did, more on the emotional aspect than physical, but he needed to tend to the wounds as soon as possible.

    I hurt my mother. I need to make this right. Even if she won't understand.

    Elaine heard a gentle knock on her door.

    She felt her spirits soar, despite not anticipating him being ready just twenty minutes later. Something like this would've made him cry himself to sleep.

    Alana's words earlier that evening came to mind; Elio will come to you when he is ready to talk.

    Still, the thought of her boy crying was new. After playing sports for so long and getting more than his share of cuts and bruises, it became normality for him to tough those things out and continue through the adversity. He had long since stopped crying at those trivial injuries well before many other kids his age while in school.

    Careful not to disturb Meowth sleeping in his favorite bed; Elaine crossed over from her bed and gently opened the door.

    Elio looked like a complete wreck. His longer hair was even more disheveled than normal and the pale skin on his face glistened from fallen tears that he had made no attempt to wipe away. The parts of his upper cheek and whites of his eyes were raw with a redness of rubbing his face excessively.

    "Mom," He started. "I'm…I'm…I'm sorry for lashing out at you like that. I…never meant to remind you so much of Dad."

    "Elio."

    "I don't want to be like Dad!" He cried, with more tears threatening to spill out from his eyes. "I'm supposed to protect you from people like him and all, but how can I do that if I-" His choked voice was cut off as Elaine put her arms around him, one behind his shoulders and another behind his head. He didn't do anything to brush her away, instead hugging her tightly. All the flooded pent up emotions of sadness broke through his dam and came out in sobs. Alola's champion clenched his teeth, allowing mother and son to continue their embrace that seemed to begin healing all the damage he had done to her out of instinctive anger.

    "Ssshhh," She soothed him, retrieving a dry face towel and gently folded it to wipe away the tears at Elio's puffy eyes. Again, he made no move to try and resist, just allowing his mother to comfort his vulnerable self.

    "Mom…can you forgive me?" He sniffed. "I know I don't…deserve it."

    "Yes sweetie." Deep down inside, Elaine was overjoyed at that statement. "Yes, you deserve every part of it. I forgive you. I know you didn't mean any of that. And I'm sorry too."

    "For what?"

    "For prying too much. I didn't know that you could be so adamant like that."

    Elio's breath hitched as he blinked away the last of the tears and finally calming himself down. "It's just…Lillie. I miss her so much and she hasn't been gone for two days! I just want her to stop going to Kanto and come back to Alola. To come back to me."

    Elaine remained silent as her son continued, looking up at her, "Is it bad Mom?" More tears were forming in his eyes as he shook his head, "Is it bad that I'm being so selfish for wanting her back here? I know she wants to grow as a trainer, but why does she have to do it in Kanto? Alola has its island challenge and she could've tried that. But she had to go away…away from me to take care of her mother. Lusamine put her through so much grief and pain! She cried to me about how bad it was Mom! It was so awful!"

    Now Elio's mother had no idea about the relationship between Lillie and her mother, but she had to agree quickly that no mother should ever have such a tumultuous connection with their own child. Especially someone as sweet as her.

    "Sun, I don't know everything on what terms she was with her mother, but Lillie is doing exactly what a child should do for their parent."

    "This is different Mom." Elio had stopped sniveling and looked at her with glassy eyes, "Her mother…she abused her! She abused Nebby! How does that make her feel?! She might as well not even be her mother!"

    "She's doing what she thinks is right and you know it."

    Elaine half expected him to get confrontational again, but he remained somber, looking down, "Mom, I just didn't want Lillie to leave me for someone like her. Lusamine doesn't deserve her help! She's just going to walk away after everything that has happened."

    "Sun, I know you feel terrible for saying something selfish like that and it is, but sometimes people do things that are strange to others when it comes to family. I'm sorry that she had to leave you, but you have to respect her decision, even if it feels like a slap to the face."

    And that's exactly what it feels like.

    "Mom, it just doesn't feel right." Elio said, "All this is not very manly of me and as champion of Alola; I have to hold myself to a high standard."

    "Sun, what are you talking about?" Elaine looked inquisitively at her son, "Sweetie, it's perfectly fine to feel like this toward someone. I know this firsthand."

    "You do?"

    "Yes," She allowed a thin, light smile to grace her lips. "Elio…sweetheart, you're in love."

    He didn't deny it. From her perspective; when she had first met the young blonde, Lillie had come off as shy, but polite and genuinely friendly. Sun did look a little flustered when he was alone with a girl his age, but even when she saw the two of them together, she couldn't help but constantly think that they would make a very cute couple.

    Elio had told her that she wasn't a fan of Pokémon battling, saying that she didn't like seeing them get hurt in fighting. While he seemed to dislike that part of her; Elaine respected her view despite being a renowned trainer herself. Everyone was entitled to their own opinion, even if she disagreed. By the time he finished his grand trial, she seemed to be on a much friendlier basis with Elio, despite their differences.

    The change in his personality came when he returned from Poni Island, having completed his Island Challenge. He talked about her every single day with the biggest smile on his face; saying how she had really come out of her shell to open up to the world. It was comparable to a shy baby Pokémon that was ready to explore everything there was to be discovered and the pride in his voice when he spoke about it told her that something about this young blonde had stolen her son's heart.

    She saw at the champion's festival that his opinion on Lillie had done almost a complete one-eighty within the six month span that he knew her. Now his sadness and anger at her absence had said it all.

    "So tell me." Elaine gently took his hands in hers and placed a gentle finger on his chin, making him look at her soft brown eyes. "Does Lillie make your heart flutter?"

    Sun saw that there was no point in denying it anymore, even though a red blush began to form on his face.

    "Yes." He swallowed.

    "She makes you feel happy? Relaxed?"

    A slow nod. "I feel like I have this…this duty to protect her and Nebby. After everything that I've seen on my island challenge with them, I felt like I was the only thing standing between them and danger. She looked to me for help and guidance…after teaching me everything on how to be a trainer." A deep breath was taken. "I know this isn't typical of me."

    "Elio, it's perfectly okay for someone like you to fall in love. In fact, I'm very happy that you've experienced it for the first time. You're actually beginning to show some emotion, which I feel wasn't developed much with your father around."

    "Yeah. I know." He paused for a moment, thinking of something. "Mom…did you…did you ever...ever fall in love with Dad?"

    Elaine thought her heart might snap in two at such an innocent question…by a sixteen year old nonetheless. But through it, she nodded. "I fell in love with the man who knelt in front of me with a silver ring and asked me to marry him. I fell in love with the man who gave you a big hug after you slid onto home plate to score the winning run and then said how proud he was of you. That's who I fell in love with."

    "Do you regret it?"

    "What?" Elaine asked. "Absolutely not. Even though we've seen the love between our family tested many times through bad decisions, I do not regret marrying him. Your father may not have been a good person all the time, but he is still a big part of my life…and yours."

    Elio nodded, "Okay Mom. I just don't know what to do."

    "Sun, you may love Lillie with all your heart. If you truly do; then you will want what is best for her. Sometimes that means you have to let her go." Elaine guided him to her bed and they lay down side by side together, "And if she loves you back, then she will come back to you."

    "Okay."

    "You remember this?" Elaine reached over to her nightstand and held a photo for them to see.

    "I do!" Elio chuckled with a small smile gracing his features. He had been ten years old, during that time when she had described an incredible game of his little league baseball. Elio had swung and hit a home run in the final inning that completed a comeback win from a four run deficit. The photo was just like one in the living room. He was in the center, right about to receive a big hug from his father with a dirty white uniform from sliding and all. Each member of the Northstars had huge smiles and was one of the few pictures where they seemed overjoyed together as a family.

    "Both your father and I were so proud of you that game. Even in the ones that you lost, you remained a good sport and did your very best. I love this photo because I want to savor those happy, pleasant memories we had when we were the Northstar family. Not the ones where we were separate as Elio, Elaine and Calvera." She sighed, "I still miss him, even to this day. Just like how you were with Lillie; I loved your father so much. So when it came down to what was best not just for me, but for you as well, I had to let him go. Don't ever think for one second that you're the only one who has had to say goodbye to someone they cared about. I have done that and I think even Professor Kukui has too."

    "Mom." Sun started. "You know what? You're right. I am being nothing but selfish and acting this way is not helping at all. I'm sorry. I just don't know how to deal with all these feelings."

    "It's not easy. And it's certainly not selfish." She said, slipping the picture away. "Do you remember when I sat you down and said that your father wasn't going to be around?"

    He solemnly nodded.

    "As a mother, that was the most difficult thing I had to do. No child should ever have to grow up without a good father in his or her life."

    Elio shuddered. "I…I remember after you told me that I wasn't going to be able to see Dad anymore…I remember you went to bed and you…you were crying. You cried yourself to sleep."

    Elaine nodded, remembering that awful night all too well. "Now you know how hard it can be to part with someone that you care deeply about. I never wanted you to grow up fatherless. I only wanted what's best for Elio and sadly, your father couldn't be part of that anymore."

    "I know Mom. There are those days where I wish everything that happened with Dad is like some sort of bad dream and I'll wake up to that time where we were a family again."

    Elaine nodded, "I wish that were the case sweetie. I still dearly miss your father too." She stroked his messy hair. "You know something? I've watched how you talk about Lillie and how proud you are of her and I can't help but feel proud myself. Not only did you find someone to love, but you helped her grow as a person and now as a trainer. When you two left for Akala Island, never in my wildest dreams would I have seen her change so much and it's all thanks to you. You're a bigger influence to her than you give yourself credit for. Why don't you write her a letter in a few weeks? See how she's doing?"

    "You think she'd like that?"

    "I would think that says you still care a lot about her and want to know what she's up to while in Kanto. Maybe you can even arrange a time and place to meet up."

    "Will I have time?"

    "Of course!" Elaine exclaimed. "You are the champion after all, so you can now make time for when you're available for battle and when you're not. Challengers have to get past the Elite Four first before they have a shot at your seat!"

    "I will give it a shot."

    "That's the spirit." His mother said, hugging him tightly. "So don't lose hope. Hold on to the promise that you'll be reunited one day."

    "I will Mom." Elio tried to suppress a yawn.

    "You're looking a bit tired. I think it's time you should go to sleep."

    "Yeah. I'm exhausted." He rolled off the bed. "I'll see about writing a letter soon."

    He continues to surprise me. "Oh and Elio?" Elaine said, stopping him with a tone bordering that of her stern warnings. "I will tell you that love can be an incredibly powerful emotion. It can make lasting memories for you to cherish for the rest of your life, but at the same time, it can cloud your judgment and your ability to make rational decisions. People end up doing some reckless things out of the affection they have for something or someone. I'm not saying that it will necessarily happen to you, but you may find your love for Lillie tested in more ways than one and same with her to you if she feels the same. If you're not careful, it could cost you dearly."

    Sun stopped, thinking about her words. He knew that she was right, with her having experienced the mistakes firsthand.

    "Okay Mom. I'll keep that in mind."

    "Goodnight my champion."

    Elio was halfway out the door when he turned around. "Mom? I just want you to know that you've always been there for me. I know that we haven't had the best of luck when it comes to family integrity, but you've always been that one constant in my life. You work so hard all throughout the days, every day to put food on the table…clothes on our backs. Whenever I've fallen down, you're always there to pick me up, even when Dad wasn't. You give the best advice I can get when I'm venturing into the unknown with all these feelings. You even forgive me so easily after I lashed out at you in this…blinding anger. I really ask myself sometimes…just what? What did I do to deserve someone like you?" Tears were starting to pool in his eyes again, but this time from a heartfelt appreciation and a different kind of love.

    "Mom…I may be the champion of Alola…but you…you are my champion."

    Elaine was just continuously surprised by her son and felt every single fiber of her heartstrings snap. Never…ever had she seen Elio express so much emotion on two ends of the spectrum. Before she knew it, Sun had launched himself forward, throwing his arms around her in the tightest hug she had felt from him. More choked sobs racked from his body, now sounding like his own heart was being split.

    "I…I love you Mom." Elio sniffed, unaware that she herself was just as close to tears at such a soul-wrenching display. "I love you so much."

    "I love you too Elio…k'ou wahi anela."

    Elaine gently stroked her vulnerable son's back and head as the two laid on the bed in that perfect embrace, continuing to comfort one another as mother and child. A tender, loving kiss was planted on his forehead, causing him to drift away into a restful sleep.

    Yes. She thought to herself. There is so much of his father in him. That display of anger was part of the bad. This right here…This is the part of the good.

    Honestly, I feel that this chapter would have been absolutely perfect to release on Mother's day weekend. Listening to comfort and sad music really set the mood for this one. We've gotten a glimpse into Elio and Elaine's past when they were a family and you can certainly bet that more is on the way to be revealed, especially in the next chapter. We're heading back to the diary logs, so stay tuned. I'll see everyone around.

    Translations:

    • Waeia kekahi - Chosen one
    • Keiki - Child
    • Wahine - Woman
    • Pu'uwai - Heart
    • K'ou wahi anela - My little angel
    • Ka naau pepe - Broken heart

    Mahalo everyone for reading and reviewing, you give my writing purpose.

    Brav
     
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    #21 BraviaryScout, Sep 25, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
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  2. ShinigamiMiroku

    ShinigamiMiroku Dragon Tamer
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    This chapter made me tear up... I know what it's like to lose a father - though mine walked out rather than us leaving him, and mine wasn't abusive (if I'm reading how you alluded to Sun's father right; if not then my apologies) - so I can understand the anger/rage that Sun feels, that emptiness, that uncertainty of whether I really am a man or not. Really hits home, y'know?
     
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  3. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Crown of ValorPoké Ball ★
    Alola readers! Brav is now back with another update for A Hui Hou Kakou, K'ou Alola! I originally planned to do a double update last week since I had forgotten to do so the one prior. With the servers going offline when I had intended, wasn't able to. So the double update will occur this week! We're back to the diary pages and the next present day chapter will be in eight or ten chapters from now.

    A huge thanks to @ShinigamiMiroku for the feedback. I totally agree man, this one was probably one of the most emotional chapters I have written, not just of this story, but of my entire writing. While I don't know personally about having absent parents, I know several people who have; including my best friend (they are on far better terms now).
    Yeah, Elio's relationship with his own father is heavily based off the abuse he had suffered and his anger felt towards the subject is the same as Lusamine's and Lillie's as mother and daughter. It also hurts him by the fact of the girl that he fell in love with decided to leave Alola to go and help the person who was responsible for her suffering. He's very protective and defensive of people who become victims of abusive parents. This chapter has more about Calvera Northstar and again sometime down the road too.

    I hope everyone enjoys the awesome chapter. We're going out of that angst moment and back to something happy. This one's got some Alolan mythology put in, based off of some Hawaiian as well. I think the transition went smoothly.

    Enjoy guys. Please leave some feedback/comments. They make me squeal and do a happy dance around my room.

    Professor Kukui told me that it was likely that Aether had been canvassing the area to see if I could be forced out of hiding. I think that it may have sped up his schedule for us to leave to Akala Island earlier than he wanted. He thought the best thing to do was to go and stay with Elio and his mother Elaine for a couple of nights before leaving.


    Anyway, Elio and his mother came over to the lab for dinner. She made this thing called a pasta bake. It had mild tamato sauce with these cool tube noodles and topped with sausage and gooey cheese. It was so good! The other thing too; garlic bread was amazing too! It's a lot like the sweet rolls we see all the time at Cutter's.

    It was a real bummer that there was this huge rockslide that blocked the way up to Ten Carat Hill. We opted just to go back instead, but his crazy sixth sense told him that danger was lurking nearby.

    He was right! Team Skull had decided to use this place as an area to ambush unsuspecting trainers and steal their belongings or Pokémon. They must've thought Sun was an easy target and unable to handle multiple Pokémon battling at once, but it was him that won and chased them off. He looked completely in control with his Pokémon in a three on three matchup. I think it's called a triple battle or something that started out in the Unova region. I don't know what was more amazing; his battling skills or the fact that he guided me out of all that danger when he sensed a threat.

    Although Ten Carat Hill was a bust; Elio brought a book that he borrowed from Professor Kukui and we looked at a star chart on the lanai in his house. We had a little bit of a slip up, but I found it kind of cute! Nebby seemed to really enjoy it and when we found that there was hardly anyone else I decided to allow it to explore around, promising that it was going back in the bag if any danger was close.

    I just wonder if somewhere up there in the stars is where it came from and it's looking up at home?

    Don't worry Nebby. I'll get you back there somehow and you might be right. The ruins here in Alola may have some connection on how we can do that. It seems that Professor Kukui is keen on having me accompany Elio and Hau through their island challenges with him. That means we'll get to go to the ruins on every island here! I wonder if Elio will go to the other ruins with me when we head off to Akala and the others.

    Also at the house, I also asked about his father. I wish I hadn't because it sounds like he was a horrible person! Elio doesn't know where he is right now, but it sounded like he and his mother Elaine separated from him on very bad terms. It's really saddening to hear such a horrible story and all these bad things happen to my friend and someone as sweet as his mother Elaine. Hau said that his own father had left after he couldn't stand being a kahuna's son and Dad…well Dad kind of left us too.

    I wish that I could just have a family that loved and supported each other. Mother and brother seemed to have completely abandoned me. Now all I really have left are Professor Burnet, Kukui, Wicke, Hau, Hala, Elaine and…Elio.

    Perhaps this can be my new family. Everyone has been so welcoming to me and kept my secret safe, even though I don't deserve any of their kindness. All I can really do is look forward to what will happen next and find out how any of this can be resolved…if at all.

    Dinner at Professor Kukui's lab was something that rarely ever happened. He and Lillie often spent longer hours in the field or at the research section that making their own food from scratch was going to take too long. They'd resort to takeout or some instant meals that he kept a steady supply in the freezer. Some of them were pretty simple and Lillie enjoyed how easy it was to make a cup of noodles with water and microwave it. The taste was far from anything delightful as she had nearly thrown up her first helping.

    This time, something more aromatic and heavenly wafted from the oven as Elaine slaved in the kitchen. Professor Kukui and Lillie only could watch in a stupor as the she seamlessly worked on the dish, carefully chopping onions, sausage and watching over a pot of simmering sauce called marinara made from crushed tamatoes. Since she started, it was going for two plus hours.

    Elio chuckled at their faces as he set the table. "It's pretty awesome to watch. I got lucky with a mom that can cook."

    "I wish I had that kind of time cousin!" Kukui exclaimed. "But my stylin research makes me have to do something fast. Can't cook much since everything gets an overheat yeah!"

    "Well Miss Northstar," Lillie said. "I for one am greatly looking forward to trying it."

    "Please call me Elaine." She said with another smile. "And thank you Kukui for inviting us over! I've always wanted to come and visit a Pokémon research lab since Professor Oak's! It's not what I expected though."

    "Is that a good or bad thing?"

    "Good of course!" She smiled, slipping a pair of white oven mitts over her hands. "Your lab has such a unique charm to it that I feel suits you very much!"

    And there it is again. Elio thought to himself, rolling his eyes. Once again, his mother was brazenly flirting with the handsome professor. Even in her later thirties, Elaine remained quite an attractive woman and in the wake of their family separation, she showed no restraint in checking out members of the opposite sex when the opportunity arose.

    Professor Kukui was just her latest target.

    I bet she brought that Kalosian wine too.

    "I brought some Amour du vin. Would you like a glass?"

    Yup. She did.

    "It's been a busy week." Kukui scratched his head. "Why not?"

    Lillie turned to Sun. "Do you cook?"

    He shook his own head. "Nope. I can't to save my life."

    "So then how are you going to survive out there?"

    "There's Pokémon centers right? Most of them are reachable within a day's walk and all."

    Lillie didn't see any flaw in that, but still wondered how he was going to make do in the field if he got hungry.

    Elio seemed to catch onto her unspoken question. "I'll get snacks and stuff so that I can tie myself over. Look at me," He patted his stomach. "I'm a growing boy so I'll make sure my supply of food is constant."

    Their conversation was interrupted by Elaine as she opened the door to the oven. "Dinner's ready. Who wants garlic bread?"

    "Me!"

    Elaine smirked at her son's quickness on one of his personal favorites of her cooking.

    "You two better hurry and get yourself a piece. Elio is more than capable of devouring the whole thing."

    At first, Lillie only poked at her food, but after finally taking a leap of faith, she took a bite and almost instantly had to resist eating the entire thing at once.

    Elaine's pasta bake had eye watering intensive flavors that vastly complimented one another in well harmony. She tasted the robust ground sausage and the fruitiness of the marinara sauce that melded together for an explosion of taste. There were supermarket versions available in glass jars that she had tried when Kukui attempted to make spaghetti. This simmered version made that one taste as if it was industrial…like plastic.

    It further surprised her to find out that she was halfway done with her bowl when Elio had practically inhaled his own helping and gone right back up to the counter for seconds.

    And then there was the garlic bread. The boy had raved for a good five minutes on how good it was. Lillie had eaten something similar in portions that were smaller than half the size of what Elaine baked.

    She and Professor Kukui got one piece each, before the platter went to Elio and he had grabbed four slices for himself. It was all devoured pretty quickly. It was kind of amazing on how he ate

    "Elio!" Elaine scolded. "Do you have to take all the garlic bread in front of company?"

    He stopped just as he was about to take one of the last two pieces. There was already another one on his plate beside the pasta bake.

    "Um…yes?" He sighed, slipping it back. "Come on Mom, can't help that it's so freaking good!"

    Professor Kukui and Lillie chuckled at their light banter. To her, this was a forlorn reminder of old times. Even though dinner seemed like a formality, she and her brother always found something to talk about with her parents as they awaited their dinner at the elongated marble table just behind their open bar kitchen. She had rarely ever seen her mother actually do any cooking, but there were these shiny copper colored pots and pans stored on the stainless steel back. Their kitchen was the workplace of a renowned chef from Kalos who had been the executive of the famous Restaurant Le Wow in Lumiose City before retiring from that hectic business and going "freelance" her parents had been enticed by the amazing cooking this particular chef that she quickly offered the woman a job for cooking meals for her family. The dishes she had put in front of them three times a day were definitely tasty, but many of their portions left something to be desired. Often, Lillie and her brother were left hungry just a couple hours after eating and they would sometimes go to raid the family's snack pantry for food. There would be little competition between the two of them as who could steal the most without getting caught by her parents.

    Her father would "punish" them by tickling their ribs and they'd laugh so hard it would get sore. Her mother had the same reaction, but eventually the fun of it turned into dread as she changed. Getting caught meant a harsh punishment.

    So Lillie couldn't help but stifle a giggle. She knew exactly how he felt. If there was good food available; take as much as you could.

    Elaine's pasta bake had one quality that their private chef hadn't done yet…heartiness. The food was filling and she knew that something like this would keep her full for a longer time.

    Why couldn't mother ask our chef to make something like this? I loved her cooking and all, but I can't believe all this amazing food that I've been missing out! Elio is really lucky to have her as a mother.

    As the adults chatted over Kukui's recent research; Sun glanced at Lillie. He looked at his plate before handing over one of the excessive slices of garlic bread that he had on his plate.

    "Sorry I got carried away." He sheepishly looked away.

    Lillie couldn't help but laugh. "Sun! It's okay!" She took a bit of it and was instantly overwhelmed by the intensity of the flavor. "Oh my gosh! It tastes so good!"

    He chuckled back. "I told you my mom makes it good! Doesn't do it often, but when she does, it's always a hit for me!"

    "Does your mother like to cook?" She asked. "What's exactly in here? Do you know?"

    Elio nodded. "Really it was my dad who was the good cook. His job demanded so otherwise it would've been pretty bad. He taught her a lot of things and I feel lucky that both of them know what to do in a kitchen. Me? I guess not all genes transfer, because I can't get past box macaroni and cheese."

    "You'll learn one day. I'm sure of it."

    He smiled. "Thanks Lillie." There was another moment of silence between them. "Um, are you excited to go stargazing tonight?"

    "I sure am! Professor Kukui says it's really cool!"

    "I haven't been." She sighed. "Just really worried that it might go bad."

    "What might?"

    "I don't really know." The anxiety wasn't just from being spotted or caught by Aether. She was going somewhere she had never been before, alone, at night with Elio. The thought of her and him by themselves brought a light pink tinge to her cheeks.

    "Don't worry Lillie." Elio softly said. "I'll make sure you and Nebby are safe. We're out there to have fun and enjoy ourselves."

    Even though he didn't sense it; the statement of vowing to guard them both was absolutely heartwarming to the other three.

    "Okay." She peered into her bag. "Did you hear that Nebby? Sun is going with is to go and see the stars with us! You would like that right?"

    "Pew!"

    Professor Kukui opened one of the blinds to show that the sun was now dipping behind the horizon with a pink and purple glow beginning to dominate the sky. "You two better get going yeah! Don't be gone too long and remember that the path can get to be like a trick room! Stay together and have fun!"

    "Got it." Sun bounded up. "Okay, I'll get cleaning." While living with Elaine, the two shared the same responsibilities during mealtimes. She would do the cooking and it was one of his jobs to hand wash all the dirty dishes. They had an automatic dishwasher back in Kanto and had just got one installed in Alola, but some of the plates, pans and pots weren't safe if put inside, so he would put on a pair of bright colored rubber gloves and scrub away over the running sink.

    "Actually, don't worry about that." Elaine said. "You two go and have fun!"

    "Um," Elio glanced over at quite a few dirty plates and the smeared casserole pan. "Are you sure?"

    "Oh of course!" She nodded. "We'll be taking the plate and cleaning everything we can here. Go! Get out of here!"

    "Okay." He moved to the front and held it open for Lillie and Nebby, exiting right behind them. "Bye Mom! Bye Professor!"

    "Alola!"

    Sun shut the door as they walked down the steps together. "I'm still trying to get used to that as a greeting."

    "You and me both."

    "Thanks for um, coming with me. I hope you'll like it and all." His voice trailed off as he forced himself to look away.

    "Yeah sure…but I thought you were going to ask Leilani to come with you."

    He shook his head, frowning. "She was actually the one who suggested I go to this."

    "But you like her?"

    "What?" She got a puzzled look from him before he broke out into a huge smile. "Well of course I like her! She's been teaching me all this neat stuff about battling and even stuff about Alola! You know what Lillie? I might actually like this place after all."

    And there it is. She thought bitterly to herself. Just look at how he talks about her. Leilani's pretty, strong, she can battle with Pokémon and everything. I keep wondering if Elio and I have something special after all. Was that moment at the Mahalo Trail with Tapu Koko for nothing?

    "Hey Lillie?"

    "Huh?" She jumped a little, startled out of her thoughts by the boy with a curious look.

    He looks so cute with that face.

    "You okay? Kinda spaced out there for a minute."

    "Uh, yeah. I'm alright." She absentmindedly patted the bag with Nebby inside. It was slowly becoming a habit of hers. "How about we get going?"

    Even though the neighborhood of Waimanalo and the professor's lab sat sort of at the base of Ten Carat Hill, there were only a couple of ways up and down. Trails split into winding paths climbing the hill's face up to the top.

    Many of the grounds up there were considered kapu or sacred. For the majority of Alola's history, only the natives had been allowed entry into the hill, however after an outcry from visitors who had wanted to enjoy its majestic view, paths were made and strict laws were imposed to keep trespassers out. There were certain trails that tourists could take and those that were only allowed by the natives were lined with painted white rocks to distinguish what was forbidden.

    Neither Elio nor Lillie would have to worry about that as trainers who were embarking on the island challenge were already allowed unrestricted access into the areas. It was important to all initiates in the ancient island challenges to summit to the farthest hollow and ask for the tapu's blessing once he or she has cleared all the trials on Melemele Island. The mandatory practice was no longer applied today, but the journey up to reminisce on old traditions was something highly recommended.

    Elio stopped just short of one of the road gates that started up the hill. It was closed shut.

    "What?!"

    "What?"

    "The gate's closed!" He ran up to the sign posted over the bar. "Rock slides have obstructed the path. Ten Carat Hill is closed until further notice." A defeated sigh when he saw the faint outline of massive boulders piled up right dead center, preventing anyone from going further. "Well that sucks." Elio turned to her. "What do you want to do now?"

    "I don't know." She glanced around, suddenly feeling defeated as well. "I guess we can go back. Maybe your mother has set up sleeping arrangements already."

    "Yeah maybe." They turned back and started returning the same way they had approached. "I'm sorry that it didn't work out."

    "It's okay. We'll have plenty of time to come back."

    "Yeah," He sighed. "I really wanted a rockruff though! I love him back at Professor Kukui's lab and he said that there are some that can be found at the farthest hollow."

    "There are still three more islands." Lillie reminded him. "And you've only seen just a fraction of all the different Pokémon that could be found here in Alola."

    Sun made to reply, but suddenly stopped when he heard something.

    "What is-" The blonde's question was cut off by Elio again clamping a hand over her mouth for the second time that day.

    "I heard something." He whispered, keeping it low in order for her to stay calm. "And I don't think it's a Pokémon. Too quiet and abrupt. Get out of sight until I'm sure we're okay."

    She nodded in understanding and quickly hurried out of sight, ducking behind a brush that was about ten feet off the path.

    I hope I'm not trespassing sacred grounds doing this!

    From her view of Elio, it seemed as if he was taking deliberate ignorance aside from the warning earlier. He took a step forward, eyes scanning the dense plant growth just off the path. Twenty paces later to her left; he stopped short when another barely audible sound floated through the air. It wasn't the snap of dead leaves or branches or the crunch of dirt under shoes this time.

    It was whispering.

    Elio cupped his hands to his mouth. "I know you're out there hiding in the brush. Why don't you do yourselves a favor if you want to come and ambush me by blocking my exit? You've got three seconds."

    One second elapsed and Lillie saw him reach down for a Poké Ball.

    By the second; Litten was released and he too had sensed the foreign presence. His tail was up and he crouched down protectively in front of his trainer.

    "Litten, use-" He pointed out to the group of shrubbery.

    "Okay fine! Ya got us bro!"

    About fifty feet to Lillie's left on the trail's opposite side emerged three figures. The moonlight was dim so that she couldn't discern them specifically, but knew by their strange moves, if she could call it dancing that they were part of Team Skull.

    The uptight, freestyle talk should've given it away too.

    "Damn," a second grunt said, "Ya just had to give us away didn't ya?"

    "What?! How am I supposed to know dat he can hear us?"

    "I dunno!" One of them knocked the other in question with his hand. "We bone-headed fo sure! But we ain't stupid!"

    "Um bros?" The third grunt asked timidly. From Sun's perspective, he hadn't spoken at all and was watching the confrontation with unease. He also seemed a little less enthusiastic than his two cohorts. These three appeared to be different grunts than the ones he had encountered in Hau'oli Marina and the Verdant Cavern. "We're here to ambush him remember?"

    "Wha-oh yeah right." The two arguing turned back to the young trainer. "So! Lookie here homies! We cast out our fishin' line and caught ourselves a trial-goer!"

    Litten powered himself down, but still remained in its hunched stance, ready to pounce.

    "Team Skull," Sun said, a little bit of irritation creeping into his voice. "What do you want?"

    "Brah, ya even have to ask dat?! We here made all dem rock Pokémon angry so they cause rockslide and block path. Then all these people comin' to see dat stupid show of stars are ripe for da pickin'! Oh man! Did you guys see dat guy who pissed himself after we took his Pokémon?! It was hilarious!"

    There was a round of laughter shared by the trio.

    "Now we here to do the same to you! Ya can just make it easy for ya self and hand it over already or we can do dis da hard way. And where's ya friend at? Did he run off scaredy already?"

    "What's it gonna be?" The second grunt goaded as he and his two cohorts each took out a Poké Ball.

    Even as their minds swirled about what he was deciding on; Elio had already begun the action of tossing out Grimer and Rufflet to stand beside Litten in a sort of delta formation. His starter took center as his other partners each guarded a flank. I'm not letting them anywhere near Lillie.

    "Man it's no fun when dey ain't scared!" The grunt that Sun assumed to be the leader said. "Whatever…dis should be a piece of cake!"

    At once, the three of them threw out their pokeballs and burst open to reveal two familiar Pokémon, a wispy clouded gastly and long legged spinarak and one that was not. It looked as if it had long blue hair and several nasty spikes covering its stumpy body. Rotom hadn't registered any of them yet though.

    He was quick to jump out of Sun's backpack and float beside the teen. "Bzzt! I've detected a…woah! No…THREE new Pokémon?! You're the bezzt Sun! Izzz it my birthday?"

    "Ey what's dat? One of the grunts asked. "A talking cell phone?"

    "Did he juzt?" Rotom turned around. "I am not a cell phone! Bzzt! And now I am going to make sure Sun battlez well zo you will all pay for your inzolence! Bzzt!"

    He turned back to Elio and gave a droning laugh. "Zorry about that! Now to our new Pokémon regiztered! Gastly…gas Pokémon. Gastly attacks its foes by enveloping them in its body, which contains poison. These Pokémon gather in abandoned buildings and can be identified with its domain by strange lights flickering. Gastly is a ghost and poison type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Spinarak…string spit Pokémon. Spinarak is a patient Pokémon, waving a very sturdy thread to catch its preferred cutiefly and caterpie prey. It is believed to identify the different kinds of Pokémon based on the vibrations that its web gives off. Sometimes, this webbing is used by fishermen to weave stronger nets to catch fish. Spinarak is a bug and poison type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Bzzt! A brand new Pokémon detected!" Rotom buzzed. "Mareanie…brutal star Pokémon. This Pokémon lurks on the seabead feeding on corsola thorns. Mareanie jabs its foes with the poison spikes on its head and then deals a finishing blow with its ten tentacles after the prey has been weakened. Mareanie is a water and poison type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Water and poison huh?" Sun glanced at the newly discovered Pokémon. "Better not let Litten near that."

    "We startin' this off bro!" The leader said. "Mareanie, poison sting!"

    His strange looking Pokémon jumped up into the air and flicked its two forward tentacles. They released a volley of deadly looking barbs in their direction.

    "Spinarak, poison sting!" A second grunt joined in, with his spider adding to the attack.

    Rufflet had been the target of Mareanie, but he quickly flapped his wings to fly up above. Litten was in the spinarak's sights but didn't need to move.

    Grimer saw it being aimed at his comrade and quickly extended his arms over, swinging them out in one smooth motion. It winced just slightly as a dozen or so barbs slapped right into its side, but for the most part, it didn't seem too hurt. Litten had been shielded.

    "Nice teamwork guys!" Sun pumped a fist. Now it's time to go on the offensive.

    "Rufflet, you're on Gastly." A caw came back in response.

    "Oh no ya don't!" The ghost type's trainer shook his head. "Confuse ray!"

    Gastly gave off a sinister grin before launching a glowing white orb that rapidly went in his eaglet's direction.

    With another swoop of his wings; Rufflet nimbly dodged it.

    Sun saw the error in that.

    Litten was right behind him. The fire cat jumped up on his hind legs when he sensed it approaching, but the ray changed course, enveloping him inside before dissipating. Litten landed on the ground and stumbled about in a daze.

    Oh no. This isn't going to end well.

    "While it's down," The grunt with the mareanie glanced over at his spinarak partner before they pointed at his starter. "Poison sting!"

    At once, both poison types launched a double attack of the barbs, rapidly crossing right over. Since he was confused; Litten had no idea what headed his way until it was too late.

    His cries of pain echoed through the air as they slammed into him from two different sides. It eventually broke, causing him to tumble back in front of Elio.

    "Litten!" He cried. "Are you okay?"

    It was then he saw that there was a filmy slime that coated his body, bubbling ominously.

    He was poisoned.

    "This going to get bad really fast."

    In Litten's confusion, he misfired an ember attack aimed upwards at the gastly. The ball of smog quickly moved out of the way. Rufflet who had just dodged the previous confused ray, seized the opportunity, zooming forward and slicing through with a wing attack. Gastly spun around, clearly not expecting that blow and gave a threatening hiss at the eaglet.

    "Poison sting on da rufflet!" The grunt with the mareanie ordered.

    Grimer automatically moved to guard Rufflet.

    Sun appreciated the gesture, but had changed his mind. "Grimer, go on the offensive. Bite that mareanie and keep it occupied!"

    He looked a little puzzled, but obeyed nonetheless.

    Gastly was off to the side, readying another confuse ray.

    "Quick!" He shouted all of a sudden. "New plan! Disable that gastly!"

    "Grime!" The sludge Pokémon halted mid-attack and raised his arms up, twinkling a glow in between his hands and causing the ghost to shake it off and stare perplexed.

    "Good job! Now resume your attack on Mareanie!"

    Grimer quickly slithered right up to the brutal star Pokémon and widened his mouth, clamping right down on top of its tentacle head. The water type emitted a shriek of pain and shook itself, but Grimer continued to hold on, ignorant of the toxic barbs poking its slimy skin.

    That should occupy that mareanie for a moment. Now we need to get rid of the other two.

    "Gastly, use night shade!"

    Guess we're going for that first.

    Rufflet noticed his gesture and shot forward once again. The ghost was forced to absentmindedly adjust his aim after noticing the bird coming after it. Night shade was a black spectral beam that jagged out in an asymmetrical pattern. He made no attempt to dodge, allowing it to pass right through.

    "What?!" The grunt exclaimed in disbelief. "How can normal types be immune to ghost moves?"

    Unbeknownst to him; Elio had the same thought.

    Rufflet's part normal type! Normal types are apparently immune to ghost type moves? I have to look back at all the different type immunities.

    "Spinarak, string shot. Stop that rufflet!"

    The spider hissed and spat out a thread of gooey silk from in between its mandibles. The stream arced across the field, finding one of Rufflet's talons and firmly wrapping itself around. Having a sudden addition of weight on his side quickly cut off his flight pattern and he plummeted back towards the ground, flapping again to try and gain some altitude.

    Crap. Sun had Grimer dealing with Mareanie, so he couldn't afford to pull him off. That left Litten.

    It seemed that the tapus were watching him, since his starter just blinked his eyes a couple of times and shook his head free of the invading thoughts. The fur on his back blazed and he stood upright, although he was in a bit of tiredness since the poison was continuing to whittle away at his energy.

    He saw his ally in trouble and quickly fired an ember at spinarak. The tiny bit of fire sent the spider reeling back and it ignited the flammable webbing, weakening it just enough for Rufflet to break free and fly upwards again.

    "Take out that spinarak! Ember and peck!" Elio pointed.

    Litten let out an aggressive purr, forming and shooting another ember from his mouth. Ruffet rushed forward, beak glowing in a peck. The two combined super effective attacks struck simultaneously, blasting the unfortunate victim out of the fight.

    "Good job guys! Now let's focus on gastly. It can't attack both of you at once, so split up and divide his attention!"

    "Gastly, use lick on Litten!"

    "You hear that?" Elio called out. "Litten. He's coming after you!"

    The fire cat nimbly leapt aside from the long tongue and struck back with a fire fang. As he jumped off from delivering the powerful move; Rufflet soared right behind and hit it with another wing attack. In just those few moments, the gastly's form began to disperse, falling right back into its Pokéball.

    Meanwhile, the mareanie had had enough of Grimer's smothering and it viciously fired another poison sting that still didn't do much damage, but it was enough for it to slip free from the other poison type's constant biting.

    The three grunts' demeanors had quickly changed from their confidence to unease as the lone Pokémon on their side faced the other three still standing.

    At his insistence, Elio's team attacked at the same time. Grimer's arms lashed out in a pound, Rufflet saw an opening, diving down to slash its exposed front with a wing attack and Litten fired yet another ember.

    The three attacks battered the mareanie and it slowly wobbled upright as the three attacker's battered it from all directions. They took their place in front of their trainer.

    "Holy!" The leader of the grunts stared at him wide eyed. "Dis kid. He somethin' else bro!"

    "I know bro! Dis was a really bad idea!"

    Elio gave off a smirk. "I think now would be a good time to leave before you're next."

    "Oh man, da boss ain't gonna be happy 'bout dis though!"

    "Still, we gotta run while we got da chance!"

    The young trial goer shook his head as the three grunts quickly recalled all their defeated Pokémon and ran back down the pathway.

    Sun paid them little attention since they were now much less of a threat before quickly dropping to the ground on a knee and digging around his pack.

    Lillie wasn't sure if she should move now that the danger was gone, but figured that if Elio thought it was all clear, he'd let her know.

    "Come on, where is it?" His hand reached into the medicine pocket in his backpack. "Aha!"

    The antidote's cap was taken off and he gently used the nozzle to spray all of Litten's side. Within a few seconds, the oily liquid that coated his body and made him shiver was beginning to thin out. He let out a happy meow and nuzzled Sun's leg just as the last of it vanished.

    "You guys did great out there." He smiled. "I'm proud of you all."

    "Grime!"

    "Ruff! Rufflet!"

    He stood up, turning his had back in her direction. "Lillie? I think it's all clear. You can come out now."

    For just a couple of moments, he didn't see her. But then, a brush out where he had stashed her had moved and she timidly stepped out onto the path, holding her arms close to her body.

    "You okay?" Sun asked.

    She nodded. "Yes. How are your Pokémon?"

    "They won."

    "I'm amazed at how you fight all three of those Team Skull thugs by yourself. Elio, you're a very brave person. Do you know that?"

    Sun's smile made her do the same. "Thanks Lillie. Although really, those Team Skull people are more talk than anything. I'll be here to make sure they don't do anything to you or Nebby."

    "Thank you Sun. Are you sure it's not too much for me to ask you of that?"

    "What?" He looked a little surprised at that. "No, absolutely not. I understand that you want to keep Nebby safe from harm and if that means I have to step away from whatever I'm doing, I'll do it. Nebby is important to me too." Elio took a deep breath. "And I also know what it's like to be helpless. So I make sure that I can protect everyone I can."

    "Okay." She felt a surge of relief at that. "What…what about the stargazing?"

    "We can go back to my house. I'm sure we can see some of them there."

    Lillie agreed and just as Sun, recalled his Pokémon back into their poke balls, slipping them into the clips on his shorts. He was about to lead them both back down the trail when she had taken an initiative of her own and grabbed his hand.

    He glanced back, a little surprised at her brazen action, but gave it a gentle squeeze.

    "Um," She fought the blush that came to her cheeks, looking at anywhere except those alluring eyes of his. "E-Elio…I kind of feel…safer if I do this. Is that okay? At least until we get back to your house."

    Little did she know that he was trying to maintain composure on his end too, especially fighting off the heat rising in his cheeks. "Y-yeah. That's fine. I like it too."

    They stepped forward when Sun peered over at the area where the Team Skull grunts had been waiting.

    "Huh. Look at this."

    Lillie stared into the darkness, barely making out a big box that looked to be about half full.

    Elio snapped on his backpacks light, illuminating a half dozen poke balls and some things that were small and glittering.

    "Jewelry?" She whispered.

    He nodded, shaking his head. "Thieving numskulls. Not only did they take Pokémon, they were going to take possessions." Some of it was coming off as very valuable, with one wristwatch he noted to be roughly fifteen grand. It was beyond him why someone would wear such an expensive thing on a venture like this, but the only thing that mattered now was that it could be reunited with its owner.

    "I can carry the poke balls if you get the jewelry. Once we get back to my house, we can call the police so that they can go to lost and found."

    "Okay." She glanced down at her duffel, already worrying that Nebby was going to try and escape again. "Nebby? Stay in the bag okay?"

    "Pew." It sounded more sad with that, but obeyed nonetheless.

    Just like the half hour it took for them to go up to the beginning of Ten Carat Hill, their trek back into Waimanalo was around the same time. Paths were windy as usual and they often stopped for a few moments to catch their breath. Some of them offered views out to the ocean or the lights of the suburban area where thousands of homes lay. There were harmonic cries of nocturnal bug Pokémon sounding in the trees that provided some atmosphere, making it less of a voided silence.

    Sun felt Lillie's hand tighten as they continued their way down the trail. He saw that she was still extremely anxious about the confrontation between him and the Skull grunts earlier.

    A gentle squeeze told her that he was completely fine. In his mind though, he had been more worried for her than losing some battle.

    No way was I going to let them take Lillie and Nebby away.

    To Lillie; it looked as if he battled out there for the enjoyment of it. She'd seen Sun with that much enthusiasm and a strong desire to overcome and defeat his opponent.

    In reality, Elio was fighting so hard to make sure that they didn't try to hurt her. Like he had said earlier; they were much more bark than bite, but that didn't stop them from being a nuisance or actually causing legitimate trouble. Lillie was a very pretty girl who wasn't really able to defend herself.

    I know some people who would take advantage of that in a heartbeat. They won't be able to lay a finger on her. I'll make sure of it.

    The familiar Ko'olau Mountains came into sight that Iki Town was settled on and they finally saw its familiar lights as they came back into Waimanalo. While not as tall as Ten Carat Hill or as the locals called it Le'ashi the range was the remnant of Alola's volcanic past and many of its trails were similar to the hill's, providing an excellent place to take hikes and enjoy spectacular views of the greater part of Hau'oli City.

    Elaine opened the door after Elio rapped on it a couple of times with his knuckles.

    "Oh hello you two! Back so soon?"

    "Hey Mom." Elio's cheeks went pink as his mother wrapped him up in a hug.

    Does she have to do this to me right in front of Lillie?

    On the other hand; Lillie tried to stifle a giggle.

    He looks so cute when he's hugged. They look so cute together.

    "We uh, hit a few snags."

    "A few?"

    "Yeah." Lillie piped up. "There's a huge rockslide that blocked the path up to the farthest hollow. Nobody could get past."

    "We found out it was Team Skull who caused it all." Elio said. "I battled and defeated all three of them in a triple."

    "A triple!" Elaine squealed. "Oh my goodness! You're such an amazing trainer Elio! I'm so proud of you!"

    "Thanks Mom!"

    "You sure didn't sleep in class when the teacher went over that!"

    "Mom! I didn't sleep at all! You know that!"

    "I know sweetie. Just giving you a hard time. Still, I'm glad that triple battles are being fought somewhere else besides Unova. Did you know that it was invented by a motorcyclist who wanted to impress his girlfriend?"

    "Huh really?" Lillie asked.

    "Yup! I remember it when I went there to travel and he showed it to me. I forget his name, but he always said that he was a heartbreaker or something. It's a really interesting way of battling that's for sure! All about coordination and teamwork! Not all trainers will get a good grasp on that though."

    "Huh. So Elio got a good handle on it already."

    "That makes me so excited on what else he can do!"

    "Hey Mom," Elio dropped his backpack on one of the barstools beside the kitchen. "Lillie and I found all this stolen stuff after we beat those Skull guys. Should we uh call the police so that they can be returned and all?"

    "Yes sweetie. I'll call them right away."

    "Okay." Sun turned to his blonde friend. "C'mon Lillie, let's get everything together again."

    Elaine couldn't help but gush at such an adorable moment as they separated the poke balls from the pieces of jewelry. She phoned the Hau'oli Police Station and got a response saying that an officer from the nearby Waimanalo office would be by shortly to pick them up and send out a notice that they had been found.

    "Where's that ring?" Lillie asked.

    "I don't know." Elaine turned around to see Elio, rifling through his backpack. "It's not in my bag. Did you check yours?"

    "Yes, it's not there."

    "How many do we have?"

    "There were three. I know we had four."

    "Pew!"

    "Nebby, not now!" Lillie's voice squeaked as she and Elio knelt down and continued to look through her bag.

    "Pew!" The cosmog jumped out of the bag, much to Lillie's fright and bounded happily around the kitchen.

    "Nebby stop! This isn't Professor Kukui's place!"

    "Pew!"

    Elaine gasped as Nebby jumped on top of the counter, knocking one of the glasses over. Luckily for them, Elio was fast enough, snatching it two inches off the floor where it would've shattered on impact. Meowth arrived just in time to save a second one from a similar fate.

    "Okay, we should probably put the breakables away from the floor if Nebby's going to be like that!"

    Nebby stopped and stared up at his three humans and Pokémon.

    Elio noticed something and laughed lightly to himself.

    "Lillie, look at Nebby."

    She stared at it before breaking out into laughter. Elaine joined in once she saw it too.

    On the cosmog's left cloudlike appendage was a silver ring securely around and bouncing about as Nebby floated off the floor.

    "Oh you!" Lillie's motherly voice said. "You can't stop causing trouble can you?"

    "I guess not." Sun said, gently bending down and scooping it up. In the couple other times where he had held the tiny Pokémon, he never really had a chance to feel it since his mind was elsewhere. Cosmog's skin was slightly warm and a cross between a liquid and rubber. It was definitely a strange feeling because at least Grimer had a cooler temperature.

    Nebby squirmed with a cry of discomfort when Elio's fingers grasped the ring and tried to pull it off. The cloud limbs were firmer than he had expected, providing quite a bit of resistance and he didn't want to hurt it either.

    "Sorry Nebby." He said. "Looks like you're going to have to get a little wet."

    Sun crossed over to the sink and slipped on a pair of rubber gloves, running them under the sink before applying a drop of soap to his fingers. Gently cradling it with one hand, he managed to grasp the edge of the ring and gently work it out of the cloud limb. Nebby made a face at the pain, but kept silent, knowing that they were just trying to help.

    "Ah!" It popped free into the air, pulled on a little too hard by the boy.

    Lillie jumped at being startled and reached upwards. The band spun as it fell and it rotated to fit perfectly on her left hand, sliding gently down her ring finger before stopping.

    Elaine had to cover her mouth to prevent excessive giggling and Elio's eyes went to the size of dinner plates.

    "That…was awesome!" He pumped a fist. "Oh my goodness! I so wish Rotom could've taken a video of that!"

    Lillie couldn't help but stare intently at the silver band. It gleamed in the light and really, it was the first real ring she wore. Her mother got plastic ones when they played princesses during her younger times, but this was a real authentic piece of jewelry.

    It's so beautiful. She was well aware of the significant of a ring on her left hand.

    Maybe one day.

    Elio had a wolfish smirk on his face. "That looks good on you Lillie."

    Really? I often get told I don't look good though.

    "Yeah." Elaine agreed. "It's really pretty."

    "Here." He reached over with his gloves off. "I'll get it for you."

    Lillie set her hand on the counter as Elio gently slid it off her hand. She stared at him intently as he concentrated.

    For Elaine, it was just too much adorableness concerning her son and his blonde friend. She quickly engaged Rotom's camera feature and snapped a silent picture, capturing the moment as Sun touched her hand and slowly pulled the band away.

    It was set in a towel for drying just as the police car had pulled up. Another few minutes and all the stolen belongings were headed off, starting their journey to go back to their rightful owners.

    Elio glanced over at the house's lanai. "You know what Lillie; we can still go stargaze if you want."

    "Yes." She was still thinking profusely about how Sun was holding her hand when he removed the ring from her finger. A deep blush came to her cheeks. "I'd really like that."

    They decided to sit on the hammock Elaine had fashioned behind the rail, providing a view to their left of the twinkling sky. Unbeknownst to them; his mother was delighted to see such a heartwarming display. So she and Meowth quickly snapped a couple of pictures.

    Lillie was amazed at how much Elio had read the book on the Alolan star charts. He pointed out several constellations in the sky with his reference.

    "That's 'Ka Makau Nui o Akala." He pointed to a pattern of stars in a jagged hook pattern and Nebby wrapped around his arm. The cosmog was ecstatic at seeing the night sky, but quickly fell asleep like a baby in the boy's arms. "It's called the Big Fishhook of Akala. Ancient Alolans used to…um," he flipped another page in the book, "Use it as a guide when the harvest of fish would be good. Rising quickly meant that the goddess of Akala hooked a catch and all other catches that day would be abundant."

    Elio leafed through another section. "There's Huinakolu. Three stars that make this what the Alolans consider, the Navigator's triangle. Humu, Hawaiki and Keoe. I think I said that right." He laughed at himself.

    Lillie snickered. "You're doing fine my star guide."

    "Thanks. Legend says it that Humu had two sons in the first of many canoes who sailed from Melemele Island westward towards Poni Island. The elder son knew his navigation and told the steersman where to go, except he wasn't pleased at that. He then threw the two overboard and they swam behind the stars before being rescued by their father in the final canoe with the King of Alola. They then reached the shores of Poni Island while the rest are lost at sea and never to be found again."

    "Huh." Lillie mused. "That sounds really bad."

    "I tend to think that it was a test that Humu had set when he told the steersman and the others to trust his sons. When they didn't, he rescued them and they became lost."

    "You really know a lot about mythology here in Alola."

    "You're giving me too much credit." Elio folded the book. "I'm just reading what's in here."

    "What about that star?" She pointed almost directly upwards.

    Elio glanced up. It wasn't that hard to tell which one she was referring to. It was a bright white, but significantly brighter than almost any other star on the chart.

    That was one he already knew. It was the first one he was taught to remember when at such a young age.

    "That's Polaris…the north star."

    Lillie's face broke out into a heartwarming smile. "That's right! Of course you know it!"

    "Heh. You know the saying right?"

    "You can always look to the north star for hope and guidance."

    "Right!"

    As they continued chatting and talking, a cool breeze began to blow through. The sudden change of temperature caused both teens to shiver, but drew closer together.

    "It's kinda…cold out here." Elio said.

    "Y-yeah. How about we go back inside?"

    Elaine had left a note on the kitchen counter with two steaming mugs. The master bedroom door was shut with no sign of her or Meowth.

    They must've gone to bed.

    He picked up the note.

    Hi sweetie,

    Meowth and I are exhausted today, so we decided to turn in early. I've already set up a folding bed for Lillie and brought her stuff into your room.

    I talked with Professor Kukui and he says that the boat is going to get repaired and cleaned tomorrow and you both will set sail for Akala Island in two days! Enjoy the tapu cocoa and sleep well you two!

    "That was really nice of your mother." She cradled one of the mugs and handed the other to him. Both teens took a sip.

    "Mmm." He sighed, savoring the velvety chocolate flavor that was complimented with a perfect hint of spice. "It's not the ones from the café, but I'll still take it."

    "Yeah. I could live off tapu cocoa if I wanted to."

    "Me too. A little cinnamon in it," He made sprinkling motion with his free hand and took a sip. "Boom. Perfect."

    "You are very lucky to have such a nice mother." Elio heard that same bit of envy from her again from the first time she met her. "Please don't take that for granted Elio."

    "I don't. In terms of close family; Mom's all I've got."

    "Really?"

    "Yeah."

    Lillie moved over to a long divider where multiple framed pictures sat. This was Elaine and Elio's scrapbook of sorts, where pictures of their family were displayed. Some of them had just the two of them, but there were a few that had a third person.

    He was just slightly taller than Elaine, with dark buzz cut hair and the same stormy gray eyes as him. His body physique was just barely visible through some clothing and it was evident that his job was labor intensive. Pale skin was weathered slightly and there were a couple of dark scars that hugged his jawline.

    "Who's this?"

    Elio glanced up and swallowed nervously. This wasn't really a subject he wanted to talk about, but he felt like since they were on parents, it was more appropriate. He had no knowledge on Lillie's family except that she had a mother.

    A mother who gave her the clothes she wanted her to wear. Some mom.

    "That's Calvera Northstar. He's my father."

    Lillie saw that she had hit something sensitive with the inquiry, but it seemed like Elio was going to tell her more.

    "You've never mentioned him."

    "I don't even know where he is." When she glanced back at him, he sounded absent and almost as if he was contemplating it. "I used to really idolize my dad. Everything about him. He worked for the Orinda Fire Department in northeast Cerulean City and it's pretty cool to have a firefighter as a dad."

    Lillie remained silent as he went on.

    "I thought our family was good. We weren't perfect or what my mother had in mind, but she worked, my dad worked and I went to school. We'd do stuff on the weekends like go out to dinner. My mom would sometimes have battling competitions since she took on leagues to help earn money when she went to college. There were times we'd go to the Cerulean Gym downtown to see Indigo leader Misty in her battles against trainers and some of her aquatic shows. Mom would put me in school sports that would keep me occupied for a good part of the year. Made some good friends doing that."

    He gestured to one photo, which Lillie recognized him as a young boy grinning as he held up two fingers with a girl in her early twenties that had her arm around his shoulders and mimicking the gesture. There was a tiny note of encouragement scrawled in black marker at the bottom left corner with her initials.

    "I hope when I get stronger as a trainer; I want to challenge her to a battle."

    Elio sighed longingly as he put the photo back. "Anyway, everything was good. My mom was happy, my dad was happy…I was happy. But then…then he changed."

    "Elio,"

    "I really don't know why he changed like that. But he started to treat Mom very badly and there was one time where it got so bad," A trickle of tears began to form in his eyes. She saw it for an instant before he wiped it away and returned his voice back to that monotone he maintained while speaking. "I ran to my room and hid there with Meowth, hoping that it was all just a bad dream. He left that night and came back a week later with divorce papers."

    "How old were you when this all happened?"

    "Eleven. I haven't heard or seen my dad for five years."

    Lillie bowed her head, already feeling a pang of regret for asking. "Elio, I'm sorry."

    "Don't be." When she perked up in surprise at his claim, he shook his head. "My mother's happy here right now and that's what matters to me. It's made me who I am today." His demeanor changed and a thin smile came across his face. "Wow Lillie. Am I being too crazy for you right now?"

    "No." She shook her head. "I just didn't expect something like that. Do you miss your father?"

    "Yes and no."

    She knew the reasons for both.

    "Dad taught me many things. How to play sports, how to fix stuff like sinks and toilets that were broken, how to romance someone," He chuckled at that and it had inadvertently had a slight blush to cross her delicate features. "How to be a man. And most importantly, how to take care of family. He used to always tell me to take care of my mother…family always comes first." His face contorted into a bit of disgust and contempt. "So much for that."

    "Sun, even though he did all those bad things…that doesn't make him a bad person."

    "Lillie, he's probably ruined more lives than just my own or my mother's." Elio's expression went to something colder and it sounded like he held a lot of animosity to the man. "I don't care what happens to him. All that time where he was my dad was just a trick to hide his true colors."

    "But still!" Lillie said. "He's still your father. You should at least try and reach out to him."

    "Calvera is not my father anymore. He's just someone who got my mother pregnant with me. The damage's already been done and that's all there is to it. He and Mom have been divorced for five years now and we haven't looked back."

    The blonde was really at a loss of words after finally realizing why his own father wasn't around. "Sun."

    "I'm sorry." His expression turned back to remorseful. "I'm sorry for sounding all angry and upset at this. It's just that nobody's really asked me about my dad like you have for a long time. There's just times where I wish that I had a normal family with Mom and Dad before all this stuff happened."

    "Maybe it was meant to happen."

    "Huh?"

    "Sun." Lillie's voice softened. "You remember Kahuna Hala and what he said that first night you were here? Perhaps you are here in Alola because it is your destiny. Maybe you should try and see what the positivies of being here will bring, rather than dwell on the past."

    "The past defines me and who I am." Elio said. "I don't want to forget that, but you're absolutely right Lillie. I've got a whole island challenge to look forward to and it's just another chapter of my story!"

    She smiled at his quick optimism. "That's the spirit. I'm sure whoever is writing it has good things planned for you."

    They finished off their Tapu Cocoa and he put their mugs into the dishwasher, filling in two spots that were perfect fits. He slid in a detergent capsule and set the timer on a delay before shutting it.

    "It's getting late. Do you want to go to sleep?"

    She absentmindedly yawned at the mention of rest. "Oh yes. You know what, I'm exhausted."

    "It's been an interesting day." He led the way into his room and fought the heat rising in his head. This was his room, the slightly messy, place where he was going to be sleeping.

    Sleeping with Lillie.

    Not THAT kind of sleeping! Sun chided himself. Still, it'll be the first time I've spent the night with a girl like this.

    There was a mental thanks mailed out to his mother for putting his pile of dirty clothes into the laundry wire basket at the front of his room. She had laid the foldable bed out in the center with blankets and pillow. Nebby was already in one of the smaller areas with the blankets, flanked by Litten. Rufflet was right next to them, head tucked into his wings. He didn't let Grimer out since his putty body could cause a bigger mess than what he was worth.

    Am I supposed to ask her to choose which bed she wants? Oh goodness, asking if she wants mine is such a bad idea!

    "Sun?" Lillie asked. "Everything okay?"

    I should take my chances with the couch.

    "Y-yeah. Um," He glanced over at his computer and raced forward. "Oh crap. I forgot to turn this off!"

    The desktop powered on and she saw a figure dominating the image, clad in heavy pads and a black and blue helmet.

    "You like?" He noticed her curiosity. "This is me when I played for Orinda High School. Fighting Poliwraths, sluggin' it out!"

    "You played football?"

    "Three years, defensive back. Got injured and missed my last season, but I came back in time for basketball and baseball."

    "You're really talented. Not just as a trainer, but you like to play sports."

    "I wasn't that good."

    "Did you start?"

    "Start? Oh yeah, I was a starting player."

    "See? That means you're good right."

    "Yeah I suppose. Anyway, I did have some pretty good moments and Mom made sure to put a highlight reel of sorts for all three. If you want, we can look at it tomorrow."

    "That sounds really good." Lillie said. "Sure."

    "We've got a couple days too before we head to Akala. I was thinking about going to this Leonard's bakery. Hau raves on how it is the original malasada and it's the best. He says lines are long at midday, so wanna go there for breakfast or something? We can take a ride tauros."

    "Sure. I do like malasadas and if Hau says they're good with long lines and all, it's gotta be the best!"

    "Okay." Elio pointed to his bathroom. "Feel free to use my bathroom and shower. I think my mother's got all of your stuff in there. If you need anything, just let me know."

    "Thank you Elio for doing this for me. I know it's short notice and all-"

    "Hey, it's what friends do. You're welcome here anytime to stay however long you want."

    "Thank you." Lillie repeated. "You sure you'll be okay if I sleep here?"

    "Yeah it's fine. But snore and I'm putting you on the couch."

    At first, she had thought his statement was serious, but they quickly broke into soft giggles when lips curled upward in a smile, betraying the sternness.

    He let her use the bathroom first and she eventually walked out after ten minutes wearing a long white nightgown that looked like it was about to explode in fluffiness.

    Elio was done in half that time, but the two quickly settled into their beds. Talk was abundant in that room as they chatted about different things from school to food. He learned from her that she had been homeschooled at her house and although she usually ate whatever her mother served, but she was slowly but surely trying new things and already hooked on many Alolan dishes.

    Through the entirety of the conversation; he hadn't seen her smile or laugh as much as she did right there before.

    "You ever tried Unovan style pizza?"

    "No."

    "If I find a place that serves it here, I'll be sure to take you. It's literally a slice of heaven."

    "That would be great! You know Sun," she started after a moment of silence. "I know nobody can really replace your father, but the three of you seemed very happy together from all those pictures. I hope that you can make many happy memories with your new family here in Alola."

    "You guys are my new family." He said, yawning. "I never thought I would like it coming here and if we didn't; I wouldn't have met amazing people like you. I'm gonna turn in. Goodnight Lillie."

    "Goodnight Elio."

    So we're off to Akala next chapter! That island is going to be so much fun! The hardest part for me on this chapter was finding star lines and constellations. Took me a while, but I did find a website that provided a few pointed out. Hope everyone liked that part.

    Translations: Ka Makau Nui o Akala - The Big Fishook of Akala. Normally Maui. The western term for this constellation is Scorpius. One line of Hawaiian mythology suggests that Maui's fishook could catch anything he wanted and allow hauls that day to be abundant. Despite having this power, he only used it to catch ordinary fish and drew teasing from his brothers. Maui would later use more of it to give them a much bigger surprise.

    In my fictional take, Akala (Maui) is a goddess (represented through Tapu Lele) with a legendary fishhook that is capable of catching any beast that dwells in the sea.

    Huinakolu - Navigator's Triangle. Although I am unsure of this, but I believe history has said that ancient Polynesians used these three stars as a basis for navigation at night. The star's western names are as follows: Humu is Altair, Hawaiki is Deneb and Keoe is Vega.

    Mahalo for reading and reviewing, you give my writing purpose.

    Brav
     
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    #23 BraviaryScout, Oct 3, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
  4. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Alola readers! Brav's back again. This will be the second part of the double update and possibly the last one for a while.
    So you know what: I'm going to address my schedule firsthand.

    It's about to do a complete 180. Less days off, but enough time to properly sleep. With this, I will say now that I can't always fulfill my promise of a we nor say a double update since we're closing in on the current progress over on fanfiction.net. I really wish I could and you all probably wish that too. Sadly, I can't make that commitment. As much as I want to write all day long, the job comes first. Bills don't pay themselves. Updates will come as best they can, so if you do have that burning desire to know the progress, go ahead and send me a PM. THAT, I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can.

    With the addition of the new USUM trailers that came out recently; I've been hotly debating whether I should be including that in this story as it seems that it's much more in depth and darker than the originals. We shall see and I can't say much of my dedication until it actually comes out.
    Now we're finally headed off to Akala and we'll get there next chapter, but here's another one of backstory, humor, more Elio X Lillie adorableness and such. I'm giving quite a bit of saturation on the ship part, since Lillie's going to be leaving in a couple chapters. The next one's already over 7k words where we're going to jump right into the Akala storyline. So buckle up for that ride.

    Although it's vague and kind of brief; there's a scene of partial nudity in here. You have been warned.

    Enjoy the chapter guys.


    We went to Leonard's right at seven in the morning. Hau was definitely right. Malasadas are amazing! I heard that Elio tried a place with them over by the Marina, but these apparently blew them right out of the water. Both of us really liked the aguave flavor!

    The rest of the day, we spent doing a bunch of things. Sun chatted with some of his friends back in Kanto and Elaine also wanted to show me his highlight reel from when he played different sports. Wow, he is pretty good.

    And then the next morning, we had to scrub the boat before we went off to Akala. I was afraid Professor Kukui would only enlist my help, but it was such a relief when both Elio and Hau volunteered to make it to faster and easier. We got it done pretty quickly and before we knew it, Melemele Island was disappearing, the boat carrying us to the next part of our adventure!

    "Woah." Lillie and Sun said at the same time.

    They had taken an early tauros all the way back into Hau'oli City where Elio had programmed Leonard's bakery into the PokeNav device affixed to Rotom. He quickly pointed out a route that would get them there in twenty minutes.

    If it weren't for the traffic.

    Elio should've picked up the fact that cars beside them were slowing down. Back in Kanto, the worst would be going under the speed limit due to congestion on roads from maintenance or some accident. There were times where he'd fallen asleep inside the car as Mom and Dad drove wherever they needed to go. It never particularly bothered him about sightseeing as they meandered through cities and towns. Either his attention was diverted to a video game, book or with closed eyes.

    One memory came up when they had flown out on a vacation to Olivine City in Johto. It happened all of a sudden while they were on the way to the airport as his mother was screaming in panic and his father had a split second to slam on the brakes of the family car as they were heading along the highway. As they came to a sudden halt, she had turned to look at him in the car seat, in which the belt locks hadn't even engaged. However the concern etched on her face was like he had been catapulted through the front windshield.

    Traffic had been so bad in Orinda that day. The cause was a fuel truck that had jackknifed and exploded on the freeway, blazing out of control and closing off a good four miles of highway. As they were driving to the airport past the scene, Calvera had gotten the call to his station and he had changed course, taking the nearest exit right back to the station so that he and the others of his team could arrive to battle the inferno.

    More than a dozen lives were lost that day and the news of such a horrific accident were among the worst Kanto had experienced.

    He had been four years old and even three quarters of his life later, the memory continued to burn itself inside his head like it was yesterday.

    "But I don't want you to go away Dad!" A younger Elio had cried in his car seat as they pulled beside the fire station. "It's dangerous!"

    "I know son." Calvera had that weak reassuring smile on his face, but he was just as distressed at having to leave his son at the worst opportune time. "But Dad's got to go to work. People are in trouble and what does a Northstar do when we find someone like that?"

    "We…we," Elio had been at a loss for words. "We always help."

    "We always help out anyone we can." His father leaned closer and planted a gentle kiss on his son's forehead, causing him to giggle. "Be good for your mother okay? I love you son."

    "I love you too Dad."

    Calvera turned to Elaine. "Sorry I'm gonna have to change our travel plans. Best bet right now is to take the fifty five all the way over to Peri which will get you to the airport quicker. Not sure when I'll be able to fly out, but I'll do what I can."

    "Northstar! We're rolling!" A voice boomed from inside that went over the blaring alarms.

    "Be right over Bonds!" He turned back to Elaine. "I gotta go. Love you."

    "I love you too. Be safe and come back to me." His mother whispered, kissing him.

    Calvera nodded and turned away, hurrying inside the firehouse.

    "Elio?"

    I miss that Dad.

    "Elio?!"

    What?

    "ELIO!" A feminine voice shouted from behind him.

    "Wha-" He saw that Lillie had snapped him out of his daze and the light to cross the street on their ride Pokémon had turned green. There were several others on different ride Pokémon just behind him, inches away from being impatient.

    Lillie wanted to spare them both the embarrassment and give him a heads up. She was a little concerned when he immediately didn't signal kick their ride and knew that he was daydreaming about something.

    What could he be daydreaming about? The island challenge?

    "Sun are you alright?"

    He gave an apologetic wave to the people behind him and mustered the ride tauros across the street.

    "Sun?"

    "I'm fine." The response came out snappy enough for her to tell that he was far from it.

    "Do you even know where we're going?"

    "Leonard's." He was curt, not overly rude, but sounded like he didn't want to talk.

    "Do you want to talk about it?" Even though it appeared that he wasn't in the mood, she decided to pry anyway.

    "Talking about Dad last night. I just got this memory after seeing the traffic here."

    They edged at the end of the road before Elio turned them onto another street. Downtown Hau'oli was approaching quickly and even in the early morning, people were out and about. Many of them waved their hands in a friendly "Alola!" when they passed by and both teens couldn't help returning such a warm greeting.

    "Traffic reminds you of your father?"

    "Well it was more of the memory." Sun sounded distant as he recounted the tale. "Although I still hate Dad for what he did to me and Mom, there was a point where I looked up to him. He was my hero and honestly, I think all fathers should be biggest heroes to their kids. For a while, mine was."

    "Elio."

    "We were going to Olivine City for a family vacation, just the three of us when Dad got the call for an emergency. Turns out that it was right in front of us as we were driving to the airport. What turned into a six hour day of traveling almost doubled because of all those delays. Dad wasn't even with us when we were on the plane."

    Leonard's was on their left, so he halted their ride across the street and hit the terminate button on his pager. Quickly dismounting, he grabbed hold of Lillie's hand and gently guided her down. She blushed at his display of chivalry whenever they would go on ride Pokémon together.

    I wonder if we can ride something besides Tauros soon?

    "Anyway, while we were going there, the highway had been closed because a giant tanker truck full of fuel had been knocked over and set on fire, but that wasn't even the worst part."

    He took a deep breath and slowly met her gaze. "Lillie, have you ever heard of Team Rocket?"

    "Team Rocket?" She had, but it had been so long ago that its familiarity wasn't able to be grasped.

    "Team Rocket was one of the most dangerous crime syndicates in Kanto. They're long gone now, but used to operate somewhere in Viridian and Celadon City. They did a lot of bad things and hurt a lot of people. Three convicted members were responsible for causing that truck to jackknife and explode. Twelve people were killed and many were injured. Police on scene already had the three of them locked away in an armored car. I could see a bunch of those yellow body bags covering dead on the ground."

    "That sounds horrible." Lillie averted her gaze down in sympathy.

    "Yeah. When my mother traveled Kanto as a trainer, she had a few run in with some of their thugs. They put up quite a fight, but she beat them every time. Compared to these people at Team Skull, Rocket was far more dangerous and ruthless."

    By now, the pedestrian light had turned green as Sun finished stowing his ride gear. They quickly crossed the street along with several others before finally taking in the long line that stretched out the side of Leonard's to the shop situated right next to it.

    "Holy-" Sun glanced at it wide-eyed. "I really hope the wait isn't long."

    They took their place at the end of the line, annoyed at it, but they began to move after a while. It didn't really help that even more people were coming in behind them.

    The woman in front of them gave a short chuckle when she noticed their blanched faces. "Get used to it kids. This place is like this when it opens at five thirty in the morning just about until it closes at nine at night. You might get a brief lull in the mid-afternoon, so that's usually the best time to go. Otherwise, expect to wait a full half hour before it's your turn."

    "Really?"

    "It's the best malasadas, breads and pastries you'll find in Alola. Always look for the longest crowd kids, it's gotta be the best!"

    Lillie made a cute and curious face at that before turning back to Sun. Her eyes locked onto his. "Elio, what happened after that?"

    "Mom was crying as we kept driving and she couldn't stop thinking about all those people who lost their lives there. When we got back to normal speed, she whispered to me, "Elio. No matter what anyone tells you, there will always…always be evil in this world. It comes in every shape and form you can imagine. And the only thing it needs in order to win is for good people to do absolutely nothing."

    "You're not like that Elio." Lillie said after a few moments of silence passed between them. "You're not those people who do absolutely nothing. I've seen you. You stand up to Team Skull without a second thought."

    "It was just instinct. I didn't want them to find you because they might take away my Pokémon…or Nebby." He gazed back into her eyes. "You know I won't let that happen."

    "I know."

    "There are so many to choose from!" Lillie exclaimed as they browsed the display case of several malasadas. The interior of the bakery was nothing short of chaos. Raised voices, staff were hurrying around, replenishing empty trays of malasadas and other pastries. Even the cashier who busied herself at the checkout section at the end looked a little tired.

    No Pokémon were allowed in the store, so Elio made sure his were secured in their poke balls before it was their turn to order.

    "Hi, we'll take a dozen aguave malasadas."

    "Do you even like that flavor?"

    He shook his head. "No idea. We're about to find out."

    After leaving the shop and calling in another ride tauros, the two of them made their way back into Waimanalo, now going against the congested traffic and cutting travel time in half.

    "Mom, we're home!" Sun shouted, throwing open the door and carrying the box of malasadas inside.

    "Hello sweetie and hello Lillie!" Elaine happily waved from the living room. She was sitting on the sofa folding a new load of laundry with several stacks already in progress.

    "Here's a dozen aguave malasadas from Leonard's." Sun set it down on the kitchen counter before letting out his two Pokémon. By now, Grimer had displayed a much better control of the slimy trail he leaked whenever he moved, but she had already said that he wouldn't be allowed in the house until all the residue was gone entirely.

    Litten and Rufflet met their new playmates of Nebby and Meowth. All four scampered on the floor, chasing one another in a fun-looking game of tag.

    Lillie smiled at cosmog's playfulness. She was definitely quite happy to see it finally be able to enjoy itself out of her duffel without having to constantly hide it. The constant attempts to escape her bag didn't go unnoticed and the reasoning made her feel even remorseful of stuffing it inside.

    I'm sorry I have to keep doing that Nebby, but it's for your own good. At least Elio and Elaine's house here is a safe haven where you can play around. It seems like you have made good friends with Litten, Rufflet and Meowth.

    Over to her left, Sun set down his helmet and began stripping off the ride pads. His dark hair looked matted down and damp with sweat, causing him to brush his forehead.

    He glanced at Lillie. "It's already quite hot out there. Do you want to take a shower? I'm gonna jump in."

    "W-what?" She stammered.

    He wants me to take a shower? With him?!

    Elio's face contorted to horror as Elaine's turned into amusement. "No no no! That's not what I meant!"

    She burst out into laughter, prompting both teens to glance in completely opposite directions, embarrassed by that.

    "Let's go." Sun grabbed her hand and dragged them both into his room.

    The four Pokémon glanced at the adult with puzzled expressions.

    "Oh my," Elaine's hysteria began to die down and she shook her head, smiling fondly. "Elio, you have no idea how alike you and your father are."

    "Sorry about that." Elio said as he shut the door. "My mother sometimes really likes to make fun of me."

    Lillie still hadn't gotten rid of the blush that was on her face but put her hands close to her chest when they separated.

    "Lillie?"

    "Wha-oh right. Sorry." She shook her head. "Don't worry about your mother. At least yours looks after you with your best interests at heart."

    "She can also be a bit hyperactive and overbearing when I've got company over. Doesn't really help that you're a girl either."

    Lillie giggled. "Sun, it's fine. Really."

    Elio let out a sigh of relief, the matter having been settled. "So I was planning to take a shower when we got back home. I was wondering if you wanted to go first."

    "First?"

    "Yeah, ladies first after all."

    His selfless statement made her feel warm inside. "Um…sure. Thanks."

    Lillie's hand found the dial knob for the shower and she twisted it into the off position, letting the warm spray from the shower head die down into nothingness.

    While Elaine and Elio were more than welcome to have her as a guest, both she and him had been confined to share the single bathroom from his own bed. It was a chivalrous gesture, but when she walked inside to use the toilet once, there noticed an overabundance of masculine toiletries beside the sink at on a shower stand inside the stall. In their haste to move her into the house so quickly, many of her own personal belongings, including toiletries had remained in the lab.

    Professor Kukui promised to bring them when they were going to go to Akala Island. For the time being, Elaine offered some of her own in the smaller travel size, which was perfect for the occasion.

    Elio kept it tidy, having a holder for his own toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste. There was an extra slot for hers and it turned out that they used the same flavor and brand.

    There was also a stick of black APEX deodorant in a scent dubbed "MVP" and a bottle of bluish liquid that she assumed was cologne. The mirror just above his chrome sink was slightly fogged from the entire shower vapor, but the running fan had been hard at work, clearing it back up again. She caught a slight whiff of the coolish scent that reminded her of an ocean breeze. She was smelling his scent.

    Elio wears cologne?!

    She slid open the curtain, cautiously stepping over the edge of the tub and glancing around for her towel.

    It was nowhere to be found.

    I thought I brought it in with me. Where could it have gone?

    She swore that she brought it in with her. Then again, the conversation with Elio ten minutes ago had been quite awkward and she may or may not have forgotten to take it.

    No! This can't be happening! Now I have to wait until Elio is gone, but he won't leave until he takes his own. Oh goodness! What am I to do?

    Horrifying thoughts dawned on her when she silently opened the bathroom's door and peered out, leaving the rest of her nude body concealed by the door.

    There was her dark blue towel, sitting rather messily on her bed.

    Looking over at Elio's desk, he was stooped over a computer on what she remembered to be a video messaging site, completely focused on something on the bottom. It seemed that he was trying to connect with someone.

    Maybe she could get his attention to bring her the towel. It was a safer option, but the downside to that was she'd have to endure the embarrassment of not coming in prepared. Elio would probably brush it off as nothing, but if his mother Elaine got word of this.

    Neither of them would hear the end of it.

    Her white sundress was hung on the door's hook and she could wear it, but that would essentially defeat the purpose of having to go and get her towel in the first place. And it would look extremely wet.

    Lillie contemplated calling him to bring her towel over, but then she saw that he had a pair of bronze or gold designer wireless headphones with a fancy logo on the side. He didn't even turn when she had opened the bathroom door, which suggested that they must be noise cancelling and he didn't hear anything external.

    "Can you hear me?" He was asking, but she figured that he was trying to talk to whoever was on the other side. "Yeah. I can hear you."

    With his mind distracted, Lillie made her decision.

    It was a tantalizing eight feet to the towel and she quickly covered her bare skin with one arm while lunging out, snatching the cloth in her hands and sprinting right back.

    The whole thing happened in a matter of three seconds and her heart was beating so fast with nerves all frayed that she had slammed the door in her haste. That abrupt noise had actually been heard through Elio's headphones and he spun around perplexed at the sudden intrusion.

    "What was that?" He had finally managed to get both voice lines working, but the video chat section was still being reset and connected.

    "What was what?" His friend Edmund asked. Like Elio; Edmund had been part of the Orinda High School's varsity basketball team that had gone all the way to the regional finals in two consecutive years, winning it the latter time. "Ed" was passing six feet tall, the same age as him and was arguably the most talented as a small forward when they had their starting five. Compared to Elio, who was more methodical and coordinating of plays; Ed took the ball into his own hands, forcing mismatches by defenses and attacking the rim. Likewise, the two were part of the football team as well on its defensive side, but their talents shined much brighter on the court than on the field.

    Elio was pretty sure that it was only a matter of time before Ed would be playing on a professional level. So would he if it weren't for his shorter height.

    "I'm not sure. Hang on." He set the headphones down and went over to the bathroom door.

    A couple raps of his knuckles on its frame. "Hey Lillie, are you alright?"

    "Huh?" Her voice came from inside. "Um…yes. I'll be fine. Thank you for being so concerned."

    "Uh sure." He had no idea what was going on, but just went with it. "You're welcome."

    Lillie shuddered at his concern. What if he looked back as she retreated into the bathroom again?!

    I'm thankful he had on those noise cancelling headphones and was so distracted. That would've been bad!

    Lillie didn't come out for another ten minutes, spending most of it trying to dry her long hair and re-braid it. Elio had been completely oblivious to the partially nude figure that had darted into his room and snatching up her towel. Now that she was free from the constraints of how to dress and look, it was just as much of an ordeal to decide on what to do.

    The only way she had dressed for months and years was the way her mother wanted her to. Without all those parameters, she had no idea how else to look.

    The old way it is.

    "And there's this strange group called Team Skull." Elio said, now having gotten the video feed back up and running on his laptop. "They're nothing more than a group of troublemakers really. I've beaten them in battle every time we've met."

    "Woah." Ed grinned on the other side, showing his short dark hair and blue eyes in an easygoing smile. "Sounds like Alola is a lot more different than Kanto when I realized."

    "Just like I said. It's a place where people say the name as hello and goodbye. It's hot as balls in the daytime and there's people who speak an impenetrable language and should be used to tourists and foreigners, but they all act like they've never seen one before."

    "Traffic."

    "Bloody sucks." His eyes lit up when he had forgotten something. "Oh but you can ride a tauros as transportation!"

    "Oh so just like Rallypoint?"

    "Kind of. Since I'm a trainer and all, the rides are basically free for me and a guest."

    "That's pretty cool." Ed nodded. "What about the people? You said they look at you like you came from a different planet?"

    "The term for foreigners around here is haole." Elio explained. "Most of them time, it's used in a teasing way, but I've heard that it can be interpreted as offensive sometimes."

    "Huh interesting. Met anyone neat yet?"

    "Professor's nice. He doesn't wear a shirt."

    Ed chuckled. "Neither do you when you sleep."

    "That's beside the point. Professor Kukui goes everywhere with nothing but a lab coat and shorts on! He talks a little strange, but he's been a huge help for me on the island challenge. Speaking of which, we'll be headed out to the next island tomorrow morning."

    "Anyone else?"

    "Oh yeah." Elio thought of Hau. "There's another kid doing the island challenge at the same time I am. His name's Hau Kealoha. His grandfather is the kahuna or chief of the island. The guy is so upbeat and energetic. He's such a fun person to be around. I've got a feeling that he's going to be my new best friend."

    "That's pretty awesome." Ed smiled. "What about girls? Any cuties out there?"

    "There's Leilani. Leilani Tauala. She's a trainer herself and really helped me out in winning the grand trial. Apparently a surfer too and she said she would teach me how to surf soon." Elio blushed at the thought of her before it deepened when it went to Lillie.

    "Oh that's pretty awesome. She really pretty?"

    "Ed," Elio sighed, already knowing where this was going to go. Edmund had always been a huge flirt with the girls at their school. He never really accepted offers of dates from anyone and it really didn't help their case that he was certainly a handsome teenager that was the star player of the basketball team. "What is it with you trying to hook me up with someone?"

    "I know you've never been that excited to be around girls, but they're not a different species. Just trying to help a little brother out. That's all."

    "They might as well be."

    "You still didn't answer my question," Ed smirked. "Leilani pretty?"

    "Ugh." He shook his head. "Yes. She is very pretty. That's probably why all the boys are after her. Including Hau."

    "That's pretty awesome. Glad you've got people there to support you. Me, Evan and the rest of the boys are really pulling for you and your mother. You guys deserve to be happy."

    "Thanks a lot Ed." Elio made to say something else, but he stopped when he saw the other boy's expression change. Staring at his own feed, he saw why.

    Lillie had come out of the bathroom, this time around in her white sundress and hung her towel on the rack.

    Ed's face contorted into almost an instantaneous infatuation grin. Right then and there, Elio realized that he had come to a very perverse conclusion.

    "Hellooo gorgeous."

    Oh goodness no!

    "Ed! Stop that!" He immediately got defensive. "That's my friend you're talking about!"

    "Is that Leilani?"

    "No! That's Lillie! She's the professor's assistant. His lab had a leak in her bedroom, so she's staying with me."

    "Staying with you? Dude…you need to get on that as soon as possible! I doubt she's going to stay single for long!"

    "Ed, please just lay off that for a second. If you know her, then you'll realize that trying to find a boyfriend is the least of her worries!"

    "Oh." His smirk had faded and he turned more serious. "What's wrong with her?"

    "She's hiding a secret." He explained. "And I promised to help her keep it."

    "Ok. Sorry." Ed could see how serious Elio had taken the remark. "Secret?"

    Elio didn't take the bait. "It's just…she's got a lot to worry about right now."

    "I see. Must be a long story. Here," Ed waved his hand towards himself. "Give her your headphones. I want to talk to her."

    "Be nice." He warned, before slipping them off his head.

    Lillie watched as he turned to her. "So my friend Ed wants to talk to you. He can be a bit forthcoming…if you know what I mean. I told him to go easy."

    Someone wants to talk to me?

    "Hello?" She shyly asked, glancing at the teenage boy on the other side of the computer. There was no telling if he was able to hear her since she didn't see a mouthpiece or microphone to speak into. As soon as the outside had encased her ears, all the surrounding noise was instantly muted with a strange sensation.

    "Ah." A gentle male voice said in her ears, with amazing quality as if everything else was completely silent. "You must be Lillie."

    "Y-yes."

    "Well it's nice to meet you! I'm Edmund. Last name's Dahm. Make sure you remember that because I'm going to be a pretty famous basketball player in a couple of years after college and declare for the draft!" The statement was true. Many kids, even straight out of high school were shown displaying raw talent in basketball, football and baseball, three of the four most popular sports in the world. Prospects were scouted by talent seekers for the professional sporting clubs as early as fifteen. Edmund Dahm was a new name circulating around the basketball world with many "experts" insisting that as soon as he declared for the professional league's draft where they would select players to play for different franchises; he'd be in the top five of the year.

    "Oh." Lillie looked a little disinterested, but she was a little uncomfortable talking with a stranger. "I see. That's great."

    "Sure is. But this isn't about me. I hear you're a good friend of Elio's."

    "Yes. He risked his life to save something very important to me."

    "Really?" Contrary to being taken aback, Ed didn't look surprised in the slightest. "That does sound like him. He's always been a selfless person and will do what he can to help anyone before addressing his own needs."

    Lillie smiled. "Elio. He…he and Hau have been really good understanding friends."

    "I don't know your situation, from what Elio's told me about your secret and all." Ed chuckled when she opened her mouth to protest. "But you seem to be needing in the friends department. I'll tell you right now that with Elio…you certainly struck gold."

    "Struck gold?" She curiously asked.

    "Yeah. Elio is one of the most loyal and caring friends you ever find. If you've gained his respect and trust, then he will never turn his back on you. I've seen it before. Someone gets down and stuff and he's there, putting two hundred percent into helping everyone improve themselves. I'll bet he treats his Pokémon like family too."

    "Yes." A thin smile was cracked at the mention of that. Elio didn't just look at them as partners or tools; they were all part of his family.

    "He and his mother have been through a lot, as you may know. His father used to be a good man until he changed for the worse. They moved to Alola of sorts to get away from him and start a new life. I'm glad he speaks so highly of people like Hau and Leilani."

    What about me?

    "And you." Ed smiled warmly. "He didn't say anything about you."

    What?! Why?!

    "Because I think you're the closest to him."

    Although she didn't notice, but Ed saw a smile crease her features and knew that he was right again.

    "Wha-"

    "Lillie. I've never seen him act so defensively about you. Trust me on that. Elio's like a little brother to me and I care about him very much."

    "Okay, that's enough." Elio was starting to get a little irritated at seeing the smiles passed between Lillie and Ed. He could only imagine what was being said over the connection. "Give me."

    "I better give this back."

    "Okay." Ed smirked. "It was nice talking to you Lillie."

    "He seems nice."

    "You haven't seen the real Ed. I told him to be nice and all." He looked over at the bathroom's open door. "You done with the shower?"

    You have no idea what just happened do you? "Yes. Yes I'm done."

    "Awesome. Can you see if my mother has breakfast ready for us?"

    "The malasadas?"

    "I know. Go get one before they go cold. Hau will kill me if he finds out that we reheated them."

    "Thank you Elio."

    He knew by the knowing smirk across Ed's face that he was about to get a very embarrassing talk.

    "I reaffirm what I said." He stated. "She is absolutely damn gorgeous. Shy, vulnerable. Dude, it's just like one of those romance stories all the girls liked to borrow from the library! You risked your life to protect her and her secret?! Wow, that ought to earn you a lot of points in her book!"

    "Ed!" Elio shook his head. "We're just friends!"

    "Yeah, but you have an opportunity to be so much more."

    Why is everyone trying to put me and Lillie together? We're just friends right? He had hoped that it was the case, but it did sound good at the thought of him and her being boyfriend and girlfriend.

    "Like I said, she's got a lot going on and a boyfriend really is the least of her concerns."

    "Oh so you're not going to deny it?"

    Elio stopped short. Ed had laid out a trap of sorts and he walked right into it. That was all the confirmation he needed.

    He let out a defeated sigh. "Fine. No right now we're friends and I don't want to ruin that. But, at the same time I will not be upset if we actually start dating. She just doesn't seem like that type you know? I have no idea what she looks for in a soulmate."

    "Then I'm going to send you both a destiny knot."

    "Don't you dare. You know those things don't account for shit."

    "What's the harm?"

    "I don't know."

    "I can tell she makes you happy."

    "Thanks a lot doctor Dahm. Any more observations you want to make?"

    "You also have a rising level of sarcasm."

    That broke the bickering tension, causing both teens to laugh out loud. Elio found himself missing this. While on downtime, the basketball team would go out to dinner together, go see movies and practice on off hours. Their interactions always were along the lines of playful insulting, but close camraderie. It was this kind of bonding that he really liked about his teammates. They were some of the people he had left behind that were considered very close friends. He had known Edmund since middle school and it was the older boy's suggestion that he try out for the varsity team. He made it in a surprise decision and started in his freshman year after the other point guard on the team had gone down with an injury. Together with him, Ed and the starting power forward of the Orinda Fighting Poliwraths, a tall bulky boy named Evan, the trio were nicknamed the ThrEEEs and became pretty well known in the school community.

    "You know what. Why don't you show Lillie all of our highlights when we went to the championship? If that doesn't impress her, then I'll admit that you're just friends."

    "Lillie's not going to know anything about basketball or football. Besides, why watch that when I can just watch all of your highlights when you're in college. Isn't that right mister U of Blackthorn?"

    "You catch on pretty quick. Three years of this and I'm pro bound."

    "You're not there yet bro." Elio smiled. "But I believe in you. The whole team does."

    "I won't disappoint." Ed said. He glanced over at the clock on the computer's bottom. "Hey, I gotta bounce. It's already one thirty in the morning."

    "Alright. See ya Ed. Say hi to Evan and the rest of the team for me."

    "Later bro. Tell you mother I said hi and I'll see if I can come out to Alola to visit soon."

    "I'd like that. Bye!"

    "Bye!" Together, both boys hit the end call button, causing the display to wink off and return to its pitch blackness.

    Another ten minutes of a warm shower and Elio emerged from his room, pulling on his striped blue tee and slipping his 'Canes hat over his head. His hair was once again, messily done, although the spray had matted it down. There was no such thing as gel that was applied, for the cap was going to cover up his bed head.

    Elaine was laughing at something Lillie had said when he arrived. Again, she had that nervous, meek expression plastered on her face. She must not be used to getting people to laugh like that.

    I bet ninety percent that it was something about me.

    "Good morning Elio." Elaine set a warm mug of Tapu Cocoa and one of the Leonard's malasadas on a plate in front of him. "Was the bakery busy?"

    "Yeah. Someone claims that it's like that all the time except maybe the mid-afternoon. Best bet is to order on the phone or online."

    "He's right." Lillie added. "It really is that bad."

    "Then I'm glad you both went!"

    "I was talking to Ed inside. He says hi."

    "Aww," Elaine gushed. "Tell Ed next time that if he doesn't get drafted in the top ten when he declares, I'm going to go hunt the team owners down and give them a smack upside the head!"

    "They should!"

    "You guys seem to like this Ed a lot." Lillie observed.

    "Ed looked after Elio when they were on the basketball team together. He's been kind of a big brother."

    "His height is the size of his ego," He chuckled. "But I love Ed to death. He's really good at basketball and a lot of people think he might end up going professional when he turns of age."

    "You played basketball too?"

    Sun's hand went to the back of his head and he scratched nervously. "Uh yeah. I was our school's starting point guard for the varsity team."

    "Were you good?"

    "Nah."

    "Oh stop it Elio!" Elaine shook her head and smiled at Lillie. "Elio and Ed lead the Orinda Fightin' Poliwraths to a regional championship! I think he easily could've gone professional."

    "Mom…"

    She ignored her son's protests. "He's really good at basketball! And football and baseball ! You should get him to teach you how to play!"

    Lillie glanced down. "I really don't know that much about sports to be honest. Never paid that much attention of what we had."

    "No worries." Elio said, taking a bite of his malasada. "You do know what the objective of basketball is right?"

    "Yes. It's to shoot the ball into the net and score points."

    "That's right! There are five main positions you can play. Point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. We each have different responsibilities and attributes that are advantageous to each of us. I played point guard, which I think is the hardest position to play."

    Elaine couldn't stop the smile from spreading across her face as she watched her own son explain enthusiastically about the game that he loved so much. Raising him, she knew that it was something besides being a trainer that he was passionate about. It was all in his body language of hand movements when he explained plays and positions, how he got Lillie engaged in the conversation and how he made sure what he was talking about made sense instead of a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

    "I know," He got up and went over to his computer. "Here. It'll be much more useful here."

    Elio powered the computer back up and went into a video player. A huge thumbnail under it read "highlight reels" and he opened it to dozens of different videos, separated into football, basketball and lacrosse.

    He pointed out Ed as the two teams of five advanced to one side of the court.

    A finger was tapped on one of them onscreen.

    "That's me."

    Lillie's eyes followed the basketball as he dribbled, keeping low to the ground. Their opponents were clothed in a white and yellow uniforms, spread out in one of their "formations" At the center of the brown glossy wooden court was a massive image of an anthropomorphic poliwrath with its fists upward in a smashing pose.

    The clips even had an announcer who was commentating lividly on the playmaking. It was clear that he was a Poliwraths fan.

    "Northstar's got the ball, now he's gonna attack the rim." Onscreen, Elio dribbled between two defenders, tossing the basketball upwards. It stuck the backboard, but he had put a little too much power on his shot and it banked back down. Luckily for him, the team's center saw its changed trajectory and quickly grabbed the rebound, passing it back to him as he slipped by.

    "Watch me," He pointed to himself, now casually dribbling the ball. His eyes had been set on the boy in front, who had put his hand out to guard and cover him. To his left, Ed moved quickly across the court, going right behind Elio as he slowly advanced and the two seamlessly handed the ball off.

    It happened so quick, she almost didn't see anything. Before the other team had realized the switch, Ed was already storming down the court's paint section, slamming it home.

    "Woah," Lillie smile told him that she was impressed, even though she knew little to nothing about the sport other than what he told her. But the skill involved was undeniable.

    "I wasn't that good of a shot." Elio scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "Being point guard means you do a lot of passing and setting up formations. We've got to read the defense as well as read the other team's offense when we go to our side of the court."

    They watched a few more of his highlights. Some involved him with more passing. Others were how he crossed his opponents, leaving them confounded, but Lillie really liked his shots. His poise when he rose up to shoot the ball in an arc that was perfectly timed and aimed, swishing right in the basket that made the home crowd go completely wild.

    "I'm curious," She started after they were about to go through his football highlights. "How does someone like you with such an awesome shot of a basketball, have a poor throwing technique with a Poké Ball?"

    Sun burst out into laughter at that and she had quickly joined in, finding that quite ironic.

    "Really I don't know." The humor had died down, but the thought continued to linger. "Throwing poke balls actually do take some amount of skill and it's different than anything else I've thrown. You don't spin it right or hit the button hard enough and you'll end up throwing a brick." He gave an indifferent shrug. "I guess it's all parts of being a trainer and all."

    "You're doing a fine job. Now tell me about football."

    Elaine smiled when she heard two people laughing in Sun's room while folding laundry.

    To her, that smile, that laugh from her son was something she hadn't heard from him in a long time.

    She really makes him happy.

    They were playing a familiar video on his computer in the other room as the avid announcer could easily be heard. "Snaps the ball back, looking for someone, throwing! And he's INTERCEPTED! Picked off by Northstar! To the twenty, fifteen, ten and five! Touchdown!"

    An excited squeal from Lillie startled her out of her thoughts.

    "And Elio Northstar seals the game with a pick six! Oh my goodness does this bring back memories or what?!"

    "You bet it does!" A second announcer said over the computer speakers. "Just like how his father used to do, Elio made the right call in faking a double coverage and quickly made that play in clinching the win. Orinda's going to the playoffs!"

    Her cell phone on the table buzzed, playing a fine tune for ringing. Meowth scampered up on the top, grabbing it in his mouth and jumping across to her side.

    "Thank you very much Meowth!"

    "Mrawr!"

    The caller ID read; Kukui.

    "Alola?"

    "Alola Elaine!" The professor's energetic voice carried over the airwaves. "How is my great new trainer? Woo!"

    She laughed. "Professor Kukui! What a surprise! Elio is doing well! He's actually very excited, talking with Lillie all the time about getting ready to go to Akala."

    "Good. I hope Lillie's not been too much of a bother."

    I wish she was here more to make my Elio happier. "Oh no! She's an absolute pleasure to have over!"

    "Awesome! Well I'm off to go and ready the boat for our trip tomorrow. Do the kids wanna help me clean it?"

    "I'll ask." She set the phone down. "Elio! Lillie!"

    "Yeah?" Footsteps sounded from his room and the two of them appeared in the doorway side by side.

    Elaine had to stop herself from gushing on the spot. Even without them willingly doing so, staring curiously at her, they continued to look unbearably adorable.

    "Professor Kukui is going out to clean his boat. Did either of you want to help?"

    She saw Lillie make a face at the mention of the boat, but Elio had a far different reaction.

    "Sure! The quicker we work on it, the faster it'll get done." He glanced over, noticing her discomfort. "It's alright Lillie. Completely understand if you don't like it. Maybe Hau can come join us!"

    From taking care of Professor Kukui's beloved boat, named "Pa'a" the rest of the day went by in a blur. The cleaning process took only a couple hours and Elio found his arms red and dirty from all the scrubbing doing the laborious task. He and Lillie quickly returned home to dinner before falling asleep and finish packing when they awoke the next morning.

    "Don't forget your sunscreen." Elaine reminded him as he bustled around his room, piling some things on his bed and then into his backpack. Lillie held back her giggles at the motherly display and Elio's growing irritation at her overbearing.

    Elio…don't take that for granted. Not all mothers are like yours.

    "I know Mom."

    "And you can always come back home. Please come back home soon."

    "Mom." Elio's voice almost was snappy and short. "I'm going to Akala Island. It's not like I'll be in Unova."

    Elaine shot Lillie a knowing look. "It's my responsibility to worry for you as a mother. You may not like it or find it embarrassing, but I've already lost many of my family members. I don't want to lose another one."

    "You won't Mom." He turned back to her, figuring out the severity of her concern. "I'll be okay. I've got my Pokémon with me."

    "I know. You'll be careful out there."

    "I promise."

    Elaine got up to leave. As she passed the doorway, she had leaned back in.

    "Don't forget your-"

    "MOM!"

    They had met Kahuna Hala and Hau at the docks. Professor Kukui was already aboard, raising a long flag close to the pilothouse. Today was a pretty calm day at the harbor, with only a few other ships heading in or out.

    "Alola cousins!"

    "Alola professor!" Hau and Elio greeted back before standing on the side dock.

    "Well now that she's all sparkly and fueled up, we're ready to head out!"

    "Oh boy." Lillie muttered to herself and eased on from the back. Her eyes grew wide in a bit of fright when the vessel shook from her added weight, but it had been nowhere close to being capsized. "It's okay. You can do this Lillie." She was murmuring to herself and trying not to think of all the disastrous things that could happen while they were at sea.

    "Bye Mom." Elio gave her a hug. "I'm going to miss you."

    "I will miss you too k'ou wahi anela. Be safe out there and make some new friends. Both human and Pokémon. I want you to have twice as many partners when you come back from Akala as you do now."

    "I'll do that."

    As Hau gave one final embrace to his grandfather, the older man addressed Sun. "My boy. You and Hau are now going to be more independent and on your own for the rest of your island challenges. Much of it will bring moments to enjoy and there will also be difficulties along the road. Meet them with your hearts open and with all the power in your uhane."

    "Thank you Hala." Sun gave a nervous glance in Elaine's direction before gently wrapping his arms around the Kahuna's stomach in a rough hug. "Thank you for giving me my Pokémon and a means to go on an adventure."

    Elaine's heart melted at such a display and Hala gave a comforting smile as he patted the boy's back. "'A'ole pilikia. Now go."

    No sooner had they stepped aboard Professor Kukui fired the engine up and they eased their way out of the harbor. The three teens gathered at the stern, waving frantically and smiling graciously until it grew smaller and became a simple dot on the horizon. Not long afterwards, it vanished into the distance, going straight for Akala Island.

    Both Elaine and Hala stood on the pier until they could no longer see their next of kin as they, Professor Kukui, Lillie and Nebby had just boarded the ship sailing to their next adventure. A breeze carried the salty tang of the sea and it whipped at their clothes and hair. The sun was now beginning to set, putting on a display of purple and orange to the west.

    "Thank you Hala." Elaine said after some time had passed. Both of them had been staring out at the sparkling dark blue ocean, unspeaking. "Thank you for being so graciously accommodating of me and Elio here in Alola."

    "'A'ole pilikia. As always, you both are ohana to me."

    "He looks up to you." She turned to face him. "Elio…when he hugged you. That's something he normally doesn't do…it's normally something he wasn't supposed to do."

    Hala's easygoing smile faded. "I suspect that there is something terrible plaguing you."

    She nodded sadly. "Elio really looks up to you as a father figure. He's never really had one for half his life. The man that was supposed to be that person had left us long ago on bitter terms."

    "E kala mai iaʻu. Sadly, something similar has happened to little Hau."

    Elaine fought back the tears of frustration and sadness. "It-it's just that. Elio and I haven't had it easy since. We had the support of everyone back in Kanto, but things just weren't the same after my husband divorced us. For years, I tried to make it work with us moving on with our life as best we could, but it was really delaying the inevitable. With that, money and timing, I was afraid that I'd never get to give Elio that chance to do whatever he wanted."

    "You're still his mother providing all you can to your keiki. Be that mother that unconditionally supports him. From what you've told me. He's all you've got."

    "He is. And I have to lead us both into this blindly."

    Hala nodded. "I had once told Elio that perhaps he was in Alola because this is where his hopena lies." He set a gentle weathered hand on her shoulder. "And perhaps yours does too."

    "There's an old saying in Alola. My own grandfather used to tell me this all the time. Hiki i kekahi ke ho'opa'a i ka mahiole i ka wa e malu ai ke kai."

    "Your grandfather?"

    Hala nodded. "Elaine. Between you two, you are the leader. Being that leader is not about being perfect. It's about weathering the storm. It's about soldiering on, no matter what adversity life decides to throw at you. I can tell that you both have endured much suffering at the hands of your former husband. More may be coming, but remember that because of it, you are no ordinary person. Neither is your keiki."

    "We've had our trials and we've passed them all."

    "Yes. Now Elio will be on his island challenge on trials of his own. Some of it he will be ready for. Some he will not. You have done your job to prepare him best for them when they arrive and when they do; he will have to face them alone."

    "Thank you Hala." She did feel worried about the last part of his advice. If that was the case, then if he fell, she wouldn't be able to catch him.

    "Come." He gestured back to Hau'oli City. "My wife has been dying to share a bottle of wine with you. Come and tell us more about your reason to move here in Alola."

    Full speed to Akala Island! This is a wrap of sorts and we're now heading back into the main story. I'm still trying to figure out the composition of his team in terms of balance and all, but hopefully I'll have made a clear decision by the time he's going to catch more Pokémon. And yes...Elio will have more than six and sometimes they'll all get rotated into his party from time to time.

    Translations:

    • Uhane - Soul
    • Hopena - Destiny
    • Keiki - Child
    • 'Aole' pilikia - You are welcome/no problem
    • E kala mai iaʻu - I am sorry
    • K'ou wahi anela - My little angel
    • Pa'a - Venture
    • Hiki i kekahi ke ho'opa'a i ka mahiole i ka wa e malu ai ke kai - Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm
    As always, mahalo for reading and reviewing. You give my writing purpose.

    Brav
     
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  5. ShinigamiMiroku

    ShinigamiMiroku Dragon Tamer
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    (finally got a chance to read the newest chapter... using a library computer at the moment)

    One thing I especially enjoy, and I don't think I've mentioned it before, is the native Hawaiian language insertions for words and phrases. I know nothing of Hawaiian customs, but while I always take TV with a grain of salt I do see some of that in Hawaii Five-O, and it feels a bit more authentic than just a straight-up English localization. Something that makes me laugh is Sun's mom flirting with the Professor despite his being happily married already, not because it's setting her up for heartbreak but because Kukui just seems so oblivious to it.

    I like the flashback to show a bit of his dad, and it actually brings things into perspective a bit. I've read how PTSD (which is something that people who work in jobs like EMT, firefighters, and so on can easily be affected by) can almost change someone's personality completely. While it doesn't condone what he did, it's a bit more understandable, y'know?

    I definitely agree that Hala is a great mentor and father-figure for Sun, and hope to see more interaction in the present with them so that he can begin to heal.
     
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  6. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Crown of ValorPoké Ball ★
    Alola readers!
    This begins the Akala arc and features some action, more lore, a couple things not included in the standard games and of course some more Sun X Lillie stuff! I have to satisfy everyone for that because she will be leaving us (temporarily mind you!) for a while.
    A huge thanks to everyone who read and sent me feedback especially @ShinigamiMiroku
    I did go to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu for a day where I learned a lot of the customs and traditions which integrate themselves seamlessly into Pokémon Sun & Moon. Hawaii Five-0 also happens to be one of my favorite shows of all time (both the old and new series) Glad you like Elaine's flirting with Kukui and his obliviousness. It'll be interesting once Sun finds out he's a married man. :D
    And we'll be seeing more of Dad very soon.

    So why don't we get to the chapter?


    Today we're headed off to Akala Island!

    I wish we could've taken the ferry but instead we rode on Professor Kukui's catamaran. It's almost like he hasn't made an attempt to repair it ever since I noticed its hull integrity seemed a little…uneasy. Yes, the ferry would've cost money but it will be worth every dollar being on a sturdy boat. At least someone like Elio shares me thoughts as he didn't look the most comfortable, but enjoyed the ride nonetheless. It was still nice to feel the sea breeze and that sense of freedom the ocean brings!

    Akala Island is a little different than Melemele. Alolans call it the Valley Isle and it's the second largest island in the region. Its cities on the southwest coast are tourist hotspots with world famous resorts, hotels and golf courses. I still remember that time when mother and father took brother and I to the Hano Grand Resort for a vacation that I wish would've lasted forever. I could play in a different pool every day!

    Those were the days that I could freely wander around with brother and enjoy Heahea City. Now I have to avoid everyone because of Nebby and all those mean thugs from Team Skull not to mention the Aether people that mother has probably put on alert because of me. It still puzzles me why someone would just want to cause trouble and pain for other people. They've picked on everyone, from trainers to little kids and made them cry. I can't stand it! What if they find Nebby? I don't have another Pokémon and I don't know how to battle. Do I have to stick by the Professor or find the kahuna for protection? I could ask Hau or Sun…I mean Elio to escort me around, but then it'd seem like I'd be such a hassle.

    So we finally met the kahuna of the island. Her name is Olivia and she is just about the exact opposite of Hala. Both Hau and Elio seemed to be thinking the same thing. Next to her was one of the trial captains, I think her name was Mallow. I'm so surprised…and happy that everyone here in Alola has been so welcoming.

    I was set to stay at the Tide Song Hotel instead of Burnet's place while they complete their island challenge and she was supposed to come and meet me. There are Team Skull thugs everywhere around here and luckily a pair of tourist looking trainers came to my aid! They made sure I was safe before going right back out.

    I'm going to miss Elio. But I have to find some way to stop thinking about him all the time! He wouldn't want that!

    "We are off!" Hau excitedly gripped the railing on Professor Kukui's catamaran as the boat sailed out of Hau'oli Harbor and into a blue open ocean on a heading east for Akala Island. A massive cream colored sail blown in the wind while the older man was tightening ropes and pulling others slack in order to change courses while they sailed about.

    A wide diversity of traffic was fairly light on the bay in the early afternoon. Sporty yachts were further out on the beachfront with its passengers snorkeling about, sunbathing. A couple of trawlers had several lines cast; one of which was reeling up a net of fish. In the deeper water were the enormous freighters, stacked high with a rainbow of colors on cargo crates. They were headed to the large cranes situated at the city's industrial district.

    Kukui's boat looked a little worn, but it was seaworthy enough. Some of the fiberglass looked as if it desperately needed replacing and there was a tooth mark embedded on the left side of the fiberglass hull. Sun had to guess that it must've been a curious fish Pokémon.

    Elio wouldn't let the vessel's questionable integrity dampen his pleasant day. The sun was shining without a single cloud in the sky. Wingull cawed and circled around overhead with some others leading their flocks on hunt for food. The water was smooth, causing the craft to steadily bob up and down as it rolled on the waves. In the depths of the ocean, there were faint profiles seen of different sea Pokémon species. No sense in letting himself enjoy the trip. Litten, Grimer and Rufflet all hopped up next to him and closed their eyes, enjoying the moment.

    "Hey Rotom," He asked his talking device and looking into the sea to spot more unique creatures swimming nearby. "Are those wingull?"

    "That'zz right! Bzzt! New Pokémon has been detected!" He shuffled his screen after floating in front of Sun. "Wingull. Seagull Pokémon. Fishermen often head to areas where wingull circle due to it often being abundant with its preferred food of various fish. Wingull's light weight allows it to soar in the sky and on updrafts as if it were a glider. Wingull is a water and flying type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "I don't have a water type on my team just yet." Sun contemplated throwing a Poké Ball up and trying to catch one, but held back, thinking against it at the last moment. They were moving rapidly and he'd likely lose the thrown ball in trying. "Maybe we'll find some ashore. I can't wait to see what new Pokémon are in Akala."

    "Therezzz more Pokémon detected!" Rotom said, switching to the image of a fish that was wriggling around in one of the wingull's beaks who had swooped down to scoop it up.

    "Magikarp. Fish Pokémon. Although widely considered to be the weakest Pokémon in the world, a magikarp is actually quite fertile, hardy and are able to reproduce rapidly. It is a common food source for many others. Magikarp is a water type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "C'mon grandma!" He heard Hau shouted over the wind and to the helm behind them. "Kick it up a notch!" As if it had a mind of its own, there was an rumble that was felt from within its frame that startled everyone on deck. Sun felt himself gripping the metal railing a little too hard for his comfort.

    "If we push the boat much harder than this, we may end up at the bottom of the ocean!" Lillie protested. She held her hat with her right hand and firmly secured Nebby inside the bag with her left. Sun could tell that she too was not comfortable with the boat's structure either as it continued to creak and groan from the stress of their voyage. The wind whipped at all three of them, blowing their hair behind their heads. Sun welcomed, it closing his eyes and finding that it had a soft serene atmosphere. He felt free.

    Hau's laugh brought him out of his relaxed state when he poked fun at Lillie's worry, "Yeah right! You're probably just worried about your silly hat flying off!" Without waiting for a reply, he turned to Sun, who was also holding his hat's bill to avoid it being taken from him. "Hey Elio, I wonder what kind of island Akala is huh? Seeing all of Alola for myself is half the fun of doing the island challenge!"

    "You've never been to the other islands?!" Sun almost had to shout over the sounds of the wind and waves.

    "Nope! I've spent just about my whole life on Melemele!"

    "I wish we could've stayed on Melemele some more." Sun wanted to explore more of his new home, but he figured that there would be plenty of time. "There was a bay on the north side that I really wanted to check out! It looked really cool!"

    "We should totally do that! Isn't this just the best Sun?"

    He nodded, smiling. "You know, one day I'm gonna buy a boat and then we can do nothing but fish, tell stories, grill stuff and swim all day."

    "You're thinking like an Alolan already!" Kukui piped up, leaning out from the pilothouse, "I'm totally in. Woo! You're free to use my boat whenever you like cousin!"

    "Something a little more stable thank you." Sun said, quietly enough to escape the professor's notice.

    Lillie couldn't help herself laughing at that.

    About twenty minutes into the voyage, the boat came across two large islands that looked fairly close together, but in reality were several miles apart. The clouds overhead had begun to separate, allowing the sun to shine its warm rays back down upon them like a benevolent god that kissed their shiny skin.

    "Is that Akala Island?" Elio asked.

    "Nope." Professor Kukui responded. He gestured to the one on the right that had a large rocky facing that was dark brown and small sections of vegetation growing in various areas. "Both these islands are relatively uninhabited with maybe a couple dozen on each. There's not a lot of room on either one to develop towns, so most others avoid them with detect! They're chock full of rare Pokémon just the same yeah!"

    "So what's the one on the right?"

    "That's Alani Island, where the best pinaps come from! Unlike the islands of Melemele and Akala; Alani and O'mao'mao Island on the left do not have specific guardian detities. However they can be freely roamed by any of the four whenever they please."

    "Are there any trials on the islands?"

    "Long ago yes, but not anymore." Kukui closed his eyes. "Trainers doing the island challenge had once gone through, seeking the Totem Pokémon that resided in the Mai'i Village over on O'mao'mao Island. It was home to a group of exiled warriors who had been banished by the Tapu due to a strange illness affecting them and their villages. They were confined to the Kalaupapa Peninsula on the far side of the island. Now it's an Alolan historic site that holds a lot of ancientpower oh yeah!"

    "Woah." Sun cast another apprehensive glance at O'mao'mao. "Um…we don't have to go there right?"

    "What? Not unless you want to! O'mao'mao and Alani are low-profile tourist destinations, although mass groups aren't welcomed by the people there yeah. You're ohana, so they will be happy to see you too cousin!"

    "I meant the strange disease or dakine."

    "Oh!" Kukui's face lit up and he grinned again. "That's all the stuff of legends that supposedly happened long time ago! Not exactly sure what it was, but it had also been present on Akala Island with tired warriors. They called it; Maika'i'ole. That's Alolan for unstable yeah."

    Hau shook his head. "Should I get a surgical mask and gloves then?"

    "You two worry too much like corsola over mareanie! There's no disease there! Trust me, the island challenge is supposed to be fun, not dangerous!"

    "I remember the stories they told about Alani Island." Hau looked over to the one on their right. "The Tapus banished a kahuna there after he kept pulling up all the fruit bearing 'ulu back on Akala. There was rumored to be evil spirits there, but the kahuna outwitted them with the aid of good spirits and drove them away from Alani."

    "You know a lot of Alolan mythology." Lillie commented.

    "Yeah." Hau scratched his head. "Actaully Leilani's makuakane is a member of the Kapu and he keeps all those legends, traditions and stories alive."

    "There are some really interesting stories." Elio agreed. "I'd love to hear more about them."

    "Leilani's father lives on Akala Island. If we get a chance, I'll take you there and we can listen to others."

    "It's definitely worth a visit on Alani." Kukui added. "I heard that some of the spirits that remain there are much more benevolent and are in the form of ghost type Pokémon. There's one that is supposedly there in the shape of a sword yeah." Now they were passing the narrow strait between the two islands, where two more could be seen. The larger one dominated the horizon, compared to the smaller one, which looked just as bare as Alani. "Neither of those islands is necessary for you to visit in order to complete the island challenge, however you are free to go upon them whenever you wish. Just remember that there are little to no ride Pokémon stationed there, so some parts may be impassable or treacherous."

    "Got it." Elio pointed to the left. "I'm guessing that's Akala?"

    "Yup."

    "And the one on the right?"

    "Same as the others. It's completely uninhabited as the kahunas decided that its hostile terrain was inhospitable. Lots more rare Pokémon can be found there yeah!"

    "What's the name?"

    "That's A'hinahina Island."

    It took a little longer than an hour to get to Akala Island's port. Almost immediately as the lights of a city came in sight preceding a mound of green and brown with a tall mountain range in the center; Kukui adjusted the sails and turned the boat's heading to the group of taller buildings clustered around another harbor.

    There were fewer ships here than in Hau'oli City, mostly speedboats, sleek lustrous yachts and bulky fishing vessels. No big freighters or cargo ships were in sight, even though there was a big green derrick at the end of a large concrete pier flanked by some warehouses. In contrast to Hau'oli's harbor port that seemed cramped and all in close proximity, Akala's port was wide open with a longer pier and more room for Kukui to maneuver around some very expensive-looking boats. Further east was the faint outline of a tall building that had already begun lighting up as the sun was beginning to finally set.

    Hard to believe I just left home today. Also strange that it's part of an ocean away. I wonder if I can go back whenever I want? Can we fly there like we used to on Leana?

    Elio certainly hoped so, since Leana had been very fun to ride on. He wondered how the Xatu was doing along with the others of Mom's Pokémon team who had went into part-time employment as rentals at a battle facility in Saffron City. When they had time off, they'd come to Alola for the first time to spend time with their trainer.

    The professor guided the boat alongside a marina close by the bigger docks and jumped aboard, tossing several thick ropes onto the deck. "Here, help me tie her up."

    He gave both boys a brief lesson on the proper knot before the three of them got to work, mooring Pa'a quickly. Sun secured his own side first before moving over to help Hau, who was still a little confused since Kukui had done a fast demonstration that he himself, was barely able to follow.

    The kahuna's grandson jumped off the deck onto the pier once they were finished, eyes shut and arms spread out. "Woohoo! Land ahoy! Alrighty! Akala Island, look out! Cause here I come! The great malasada loving Hau Kealoha, grandson of the kahuna Hala of Melemele Island has now arrived!"

    Lillie looked a little puzzled at him as she climbed off the deck to join them.Along with everyone else, she looked more than relieved to be off the boat, but still gave Hau an embarrassed look at his grand proclamation and clownish stance. "Um…isn't it a bit late to declare land ahoy after you've already arrived onshore?"

    "What?" Hau stared wide-eyed at her after nobody else had laughed at his antics, "Lillie c'mon! What a stick in the sand!" He pivoted towards Elio. "Help me out here Sun! It was funny right brah?"

    Although it was a good attempt, Sun had to side with Lillie on this one. Plus he didn't really understand the joke. "Was it supposed to be funny?"

    Really? Hau mouthed, putting his hands on his hips in disappointment. "What about you professor?"

    "Well…the land is certainly ahoy, oh boy!" He gave off a big goofy grin that now incited a fit of laughter from everyone except Lillie. It may have been the way he said it, but whatever it was made the three of them laugh hard enough for Elio to double over and clutch his stomach. Even Nebby had somehow made its way out of Lillie's duffel bag and jumped around with a giggle and smile on its face. The hysteria died down momentarily before Sun and Hau glanced at one another, breaking out into grins and then busting up again. Lillie stared blankly at the three, shaking her head and muttering something under her breath about boys being boys.

    A smooth female voice drifted down to interrupt the conversation from further up the marina. "Ah so you still haven't managed to find a shirt that goes with your lab coat, hmm Emilio? I've told you before; you're going to scare off strangers like that."

    Everyone looked up at the source to see a pair of women standing atop the deck's stairs, giving them intent gazes.

    "Back into the bag please Nebby."

    "Don't sweat it Lillie." Kukui reassured her with a calm gesture of his hand. "This one's okay."

    The group made their way up the ramp where the professor flashed a pass to the harbormaster manning the watchtower and were waved through. Sun figured that since he was the regional professor of Alola, he had unrestricted access to all of Alola's registered harbors.

    The first woman to greet them was dark-skinned with short black hair and grayish eyes. She was young; probably in her mid to late twenties…around the same age as the professor. There was jewelry all over her rather curvy body; bracelets, rings, earrings and a necklace of pink and purple gems that sparkled in the afternoon light. She wore a small pink shirt and a darker shaded magenta shorts.

    It seemed that a lot of her body was…exposed. Even though Elio was a decade younger; it didn't escape him that she was strikingly attractive. He didn't blame her much either. As the weather on Akala was just as hot in the late afternoon as it was on Melemele.

    The second woman was younger, more closer to his age and quite good looking as well. She had long green hair with a pink flower just over her right ear and curious green eyes. Her attire was a blue coverall with a short skirt.

    Both ladies gave off welcoming smiles to the arriving party.

    "Why hello there and let me be the first to say Alola to the beautiful Akala Island." The dark skinned woman started, "Nice to meet you all. I'm Olivia. Olivia Rios."

    "Hey," The second woman added, "Thanks for stopping by! I'm Mallow Lokelani, one of the trial captains here! I help my father run Aina's Kitchen! Let me join Olivia in welcoming you all to Akala Island!"

    "Mahalo!" Sun, Hau and Lillie all said in unison.

    "I was on my way to see Kukui, who was pulling into port and ran into Mallow while she was on a delivery."

    "Yup!" She gave them an energetic grin. "My trial in the Lush Jungle will be the chance for all the fine ingredients that make up your team to shine!"

    Mallow stepped forward and leaned forward to examine both Sun and Hau closely. The two boys shared an uneasy glance as it seemed that she was starting to invade their personal space.

    "Yup!" She closed her eyes and gave a satisfied nod. "Especially you two! Your Pokémon look ready to cook with gas!"

    "Uh," Elio seemed uneasy at that remark. "Thanks? I guess,"

    "Mallow isn't the only captain here on Akala." Olivia said, "It sure is quite different than Melemele?"

    "Yeah!" Hau agreed, "It seems quieter. I like it!"

    Akala looks different. I can't wait to explore it.

    "What's the plan kids? Gonna shop? Go battle? There's plenty to do here on this island!"

    "Well that's up to them." Kukui answered, looking over the teens. "It's their island challenge after all!"

    Olivia seemed satisfied with that answer and smiled again. "I suppose so. Anyway, enjoy your stay here on Akala Island with your Pokémon! I'll be waiting for my chance to face you in battle when the time comes. I'm looking forward to seeing what you've got!"

    "Sounds good!" Kukui shook both their hands. "Thanks for coming to see us here all right."

    "Of course. Let's go Mallow. Please...any of you...don't hesitate to call me if you are in need of anything." Olivia turned to leave with Mallow, both casting one final wave at the group before they both headed down the street.

    "They seemed nice." Sun said, watching them go.

    "I'm sure she wanted to come and make sure you made it here all right yeah. That's Olivia for ya. She'll never admit it, but Olivia is a kind kahuna deep down."

    Both he and Hau looked over at the professor in surprise at his reveal. "Wait a second; SHE is the kahuna?!"

    "That's right."

    Sun was definitely not expecting to hear that. The now known Kahuna Olivia was definitely different from Hala in almost every way. "You told me the kahunas look like…well kahunas. Olivia looks like she belongs on the cover of a magazine."

    The professor nodded, "I know what you mean oh yeah. Anyways, there are three trials here on Akala Island. Mallow's being one of them. If you want to start, then take the route out of the city and keep going until you hit Paniola Town."

    "Shoot, I know where I'm going first and that is straight to the Pokémon center!" Hau said, "I'm tired and hungry. Hey Sun, you should use your trainer passport here too. It gets you a room overnight at any Pokémon center here in Alola!"

    "Really?" Sun was worried that he was going to have to camp out on some nights and thus had brought some of his overnight gear inside his bag, "That's a relief."

    "I wonder what kind of malasada they make on Akala?"

    "The good kind?"

    "Sounds about right!" Hau jumped in front onto the dark pavement, "I'm off! See ya guys later! Alola!"

    "Alola!" The three of them greeted, watching their friend run down the street.

    Lillie nodded and smiled herself. "Maybe I'll do some shopping of my own and I should find out about the ruins for Nebby's sake too."

    "Good plan Lillie." Kukui agreed, "Sun? You gonna go with Hau or stick with Lillie?"

    The boy shrugged, "I'm not hungry and it's still kind of early to go for a room at the center. I think I'll just have a look around."

    "Yeah cousin! We're in no rush here! This is Alola time!" He walked down the street towards the city sprawl, "I've actually got to head back to Melemele Island for a little while. You kids behave yeah?"

    "Professor, your boat is right here!" Sun gestured to the half-derelict sitting down at the dock.

    "I need the keys!" With that; he too was off somewhere in the city, leaving a very confused Sun and Lillie standing together on the dock.

    "The boat doesn't even have an engine…"

    Lillie left for the apparel shops down the street as Sun decided to do a little bit of exploring. The tourist bureau was smaller than Hau'oli's but the staff was helpful nonetheless in giving him a general map of the city. Sure he could've used Rotom , but it just felt better in asking a local. There was even a small plaque at the side, showing that the city had been founded long ago by Kantoan and Johtoan people. Fifty years ago, it had only a population of a couple hundred, which was a big gap to the current estimate of a ninety thousand.

    "You've made it to Akala big boy! Thizz meanzz a whole new Island Pokédex! Bzzt!" Rotom said as he popped out of the boy's bag. His screen separated the file for the Melemele dex in yellow before opening up a second box in pink. "I will try to keep you up to date on all the new Pokémon you dizcover! Bzzt! You are now able to fill in Pokémon found on Akala Island. Zome species like yungoos, pikipek and caterpie can also be found here in azz well! Data on Pokémon found only on other islandzz will be limited until that island is vizzzited!"

    "Neat." Elio said. "Thanks Rotom."

    The Pokédex's hand went up to its eye as a salute before diving right back inside the bag. "Zo thiz iz Heahea City? I can zee the zea! What zay you that we go and look around?!"

    Sun stopped at a food stand to get a quick afternoon meal before heading down to the shopping district. Next to it was the ferry terminal where the sign at the front claimed that taking a ship was clearly faster than swimming.

    Yeah you could say that again.

    The stores lined the street that extended further down the cityscape and featured a small roof covering a sidewalk just in front. Behind it and some larger buildings was a big silver colored hotel. Compared to Hau'oli City; Heahea appeared much more tranquil and quiet...a place to just get away from the business of it all.

    He was about to start looking for the route that led to Paniola Town, apparently his next destination, seeing if he could get there by nightfall when he spotted a familiar figure standing on the side thanks to her long blonde hair and signature white hat.

    Lillie was in front of the boutique with a nervous look on her face and arms close around her. She constantly glanced around, as if she felt like she was being followed. Beside her, Nebby floated about; just as curiously looking at the assortment of dresses displayed behind the shop's window.

    Shouldn't Nebby be inside Lillie's bag? I thought she didn't like it out and about.

    By now, Sun knew that a familiar presence might calm her down a little and feel more relaxed, so he decided to see what she was up to.

    "Hey Lillie!" He waved from the other end of the street when the girl glanced over. She returned the gesture back and he made his way across to stand in front of them.

    "Oh Sun!" The arms had returned down to her sides and her tense posture seemed to fade a little bit. Her legs moved her body right next to him and the fearful glances at the passerby had also halted.

    "Pew?" Nebby chirped, floating over to the boy and circling his feet in excitement.

    "Hey, there Lillie!" Elio knelt down and scratched Nebby's top, causing the cosmog to giggle in delight. "Saw you looked a little lost. Are you uh going to go and look for new clothes?"

    She nodded. "Well yes, I was doing that, but this little one will hardly sit still. Nebby's all excited going to a new place from Melemele Island. Just hope that it doesn't get back into trouble again. I really don't want your island challenge to be interrupted because you have to have to come to our rescue."

    Elio waved a dismissive hand at her first statement. "It's okay Lillie. I take care of all my friends. Anyway, you said you were going to see the ruins while we were at the docks. I bet you that's what got Nebby so excited."

    "Yeah. I think Nebby might be interested in visiting the Ruins of Life. Apparently they house the sacred guardian goddess of Akala Island."

    "Oh!" Sun brightened up at the mention of the deity, "Like Tapu Koko?"

    "Yes, but Akala's guardian is called Tapu Lele. She's considered the embodiment of all life that spans the Alola region." She paused, as if considering another one of her countless requests. "Um Elio…I wondered if you'd like to come with us when we go to the ruins. Little Nebby seems to like you quite a bit."

    "Pew!"

    Sun bent down and gently scratched Nebby's body, earning a hum of delight from the mysterious Pokémon. "Sure. I'd love to come to the ruins with you."

    "Are you sure? You're not going to think about it? I don't want to be a distraction from your island challenge. After all, you don't want Hau to get ahead right?"

    Another dismissive hand. "I'm not particularly picky on who comes in first and there's hardly anything to ponder. The island challenge isn't a race to beat the other person, even though you have four full years to complete it. Besides; I enjoy your company. I've never really had many friends that are girls anyway. Really in all hindsight, you and Leilani are the first."

    "Friend?"

    "We've been over this Lillie," Even though it sounded a little stern, Sun kept his easygoing smile. "We're friends! Well, we kind of have to be if you're going to keep holding my hand like this."

    "Huh?" She glanced down, finally realizing absentmindedly that she had reached over and grabbed his left palm, gingerly squeezing as if some form of comfort would come from it. Immediately, a blush formed on her cheeks that she prayed to the Tapus that he didn't notice.

    Phew. Okay, for the most part. It looks like he didn't. Why does he have to point out things like that?!

    "Okay." She nodded, smiling back, "I'll be at the Tide Song Hotel if you want to come and visit. I'm supposed to be meeting someone there. Someone very important to me."

    Someone important? Sun thought to himself. He couldn't place a finger on why that irked him, but it just did.

    I hope it's not a boy.

    "Alright. So you want to go when you're done meeting this person? If you're going to be there for a while, I was going to try and finish at least one of the trials."

    "I honestly don't know how long I'll be and I think that a lot of the trials are on the other side of the island."

    "Well I'm sure I have to come back here soon. That or we can meet up at the Ruins, wherever they are. I hope there's no rope bridge. How about I come to the hotel tomorrow morning and see what you want to do?" He looked up at the sky; noticing the sun was beginning to set to the west, "It's getting dark out. Do you want me to walk you to the hotel?"

    "I'll be alright." Lillie agreed. "And yes, please some tomorrow. I'd like to have you there! I can see the building from here, after all. Even I shouldn't be able to lose my way. I think."

    "Pew!" Nebby excitedly jumped up again.

    "And you!" Lillie let go of his hand and sounded like a mother talking to her child. "I'll have you stay in your bag!"

    The Pokémon looked a little sad to part ways with Sun, so he drifted up to him and gave his leg an affectionate nuzzle. Despite making a pouty face in front of its "mother" Lillie shook her head sternly, "Go say goodbye to Elio now. Don't worry, we'll see him again!"

    "Pew!"

    "I'll see you later Nebby. Take care of Lillie for me."

    They decided to part ways at the main street in downtown Heahea City where Sun had quickly went to the closest Pokémon center to reserve himself a room.

    Lillie headed north, even with a good sense of direction of where the Tide Song Hotel was located at; she felt as if she really was alone.

    Kukui had gone who knew where…Hau and Elio were at a Pokémon center likely turning in for the day. Kahuna Olivia had already left somewhere, taking that trial captain…with her.

    Her name was Mallow right?

    Thinking back to their encounter, she should've paid more attention to the stares that both boys were giving Olivia. There was a lot of…skin visible.

    She had never met Akala Island's kahuna in person, only hearing that it was someone who had been chosen at a very young age almost a decade ago. Now looking, it wasn't hard to tell that she was constantly admired by members of the opposite sex.

    Does Elio have a crush on Olivia?

    Further down the roads were some more shops as she moved away from the downtown section that lined the coast. By now, she had come upon a long slope that overlooked the ends of the city to where many homes were placed. About halfway in the span of the urban area was the Tide Song Hotel, set in a road plaza of its own. All along the side, other people gave her friendly smiles along with the occasional "Alola!" She smiled back and continued being wary, but it was hard seeing how approachable and easygoing people were on this island.

    People are so welcoming here no matter where you go. She thought to herself. Of course there's Team Skull, but to be honest, Nebby and I haven't really met anyone unfriendly here.

    Lillie felt her body hit something stiff as she kept walking, causing a drink to spill over the concrete sidewalk. She let out a startled squeak as the fallen glass cup shattered upon impacting on the hard floor, sending slivers everywhere that glittered in the evening light.

    "Oh my gosh!" Lillie felt her body heat up in complete embarrassment. "I am so so sorry!"

    It had been a young couple whose table she had knocked over while daydreaming. Thankfully, the spill narrowly missed the legs of the purple haired woman. She had orange tinted sunglasses on top of her head and wore a white and purple tanktop. Sitting opposite her was a sandy blonde haired man sporting a touristy hat with a yellow T-shirt and that athlete High Endurance shorts colored blue with white trim along the sides. Both looked to be in their mid-twenties.

    "Oh ca va!" The woman said, giving off an easygoing smile and leaning down to pick up the various shards. A waiter was summoned by her partner to bring a bag to collect the pieces. "No harm no foul."

    "Oui." The man agreed. "Faites attention next time."

    "I am so sorry again." Lillie apologized. "I'm just trying to find the Tide Song Hotel and not get lost."

    "Ah oui." The lady responded. "Tournez à gauche a rue de Palani."

    Lillie's eyes widened. She knew the language distinctly, but nothing about how to speak or understand it. "That's…that's Kalosian!"

    Instantly, the demeanor in the woman changed. Her male partner chuckled to himself at the girls' surprise. "No worries. We speak Basic too. Apology has been accepted for the spill. Luckily for us we just finished eating, otherwise it would've been a bigger mess."

    He gestured down the street. "Just go left on Palani Avenue a couple blocks down and you'll keep heading in the right direction. If you see the long beaches, you've gone too far."

    "Oh thanks." Lillie said. She reached into her duffel bag, praying that Nebby would stay inside. Her fingers felt a couple of bills and she reached out with them. "Once again, I'm terribly sorry about that."

    The two glanced at her before chuckling again to themselves. The blonde felt the heat of embarrassment rising in her cheeks once again.

    "Hey. Don't feel bad about that. There's far worse things to worry about." The woman said. "Everything is fine. And there's no need to give us money. Stuff like that happens."

    "Oh okay." She felt relieved at that. Noticing the time, she wanted to get somewhere safe in the Tide Song Hotel before it got late outside. "I have to get going. Alola!"

    "Alola!"

    Lillie mentally slapped herself over the head at that fiasco. First off she ruins their night by thinking about Elio and Olivia being together and then it ends up costing her to have to experience some humiliation and then finally the two Kalosian foreigners turned down a couple pieces of money for the trouble.

    Mother always told me that offering money from favors means they would take it. Why didn't they?

    She continued walking along, not noticing that it was getting later and the people outside were fewer. By now, many of the vendors and businesses were starting to close down, whittling out traffic on foot, ride Pokémon or cars themselves.

    Why would I even think of Elio liking Olivia? I mean, he gets to like whoever he wants, but she has to be ten years older than him!

    Lillie was unaware as she passed one of the intersections, there were a pair of masked shadowy figures noting her by herself. One of them nodded at his partner and they briskly took off trailing the lone girl.

    She sighed, cursing herself for making an assumption right off the bat. Elio was going to be alright.

    STOP! THINKING! ABOUT! ELIO!

    "Pew!"

    "Not now Nebby." She automatically said.

    "Pew!" This time, the cosmog's cry came more urgently.

    "Ayy!" A male voice sounded from behind her. "Whadda we got here?!"

    "Ooh dayum!" The two Team Skull thugs came out of the shadows, revealing themselves. Lillie felt her insides turn into oil.

    Oh no, not Team Skull! Heahea is supposed to be a safe city like all of Alola.

    "She is just fine bro! Total ten outta ten!"

    "Say hot stuff, why don't ya just hand over ya money and whatever else ya got on ya! We'll make dis quick!"

    By now, the few other people out this late were quickly taking their attention to her and the two.

    "What the hell y'all lookin at?" The second grunt angrily addressed everyone, causing them to all take a fearful step back. "We just telling this fine piece of ass all the hot stuff she's got!"

    No…please. Lillie's knees threatened to give out underneath her. She wanted to scream. Scream for one of the bystanders to come help. For Elio to come dashing right to her rescue.

    I can't be thinking about Elio right now! I can't get mugged and have them take Nebby! Somebody please help me!

    "Are ya okay?" The first grunt asked. "Ya look like ya seen a ghost! We ain't no ghosts dat's for sure. We Team Skull, da group hard as bone out here dat nobody messes with!"

    "No!" She cried out. "You're not taking anything!"

    "Arete!" She heard a familiar voice call out. Before she could process it, two tall figures stood in front of her, blocking her view of the harassing Team Skull hooligans.

    "Woah there!" Her eyes widened as she recognized them as the same two she had literally run into at the restaurant.

    "Ayy! Is everyone comin to join da party or what?"

    "This party's over." The woman said, unimpressed by their talk. "Why don't you fuyez out of here while we're still in a good mood?"

    "Dis lady's crazy." One of the thugs gestured towards the man. "Can ya talk some sense into ya partner? We don't wanna turn ya puny Pokémon into scrap!"

    "Once she's like this, there's no stopping her." Her partner said nonchalantly. "Don't look at me. I've tried before. It doesn't work."

    "Fine then! Don't cry cause we didn't warn ya!" The grunt threw out a Poké Ball, revealing a drowzee. His partner had a small squat Pokémon that looked crustacean with two mushrooms that seemed to be growing out of its back.

    "Are you okay mademoiselle?" The man asked gently, still not refusing to back down alongside his partner.

    It took Lillie just a brief moment to realize they were addressing her.

    "Yes."

    "We will deal with these two dechets."

    "They're part of Team Skull." She said. "I don't think you should bother with them unless you're good trainers."

    The two turned back to her. She glanced down to see that both of them held a Poké Ball in hand.

    "I think we're good." He threw out his Pokémon. "Espeon!"

    "Glaceon!"

    In an instant, two quadruped Pokémon leaped gracefully down from their confines and stretched out their limbs, eyeing their opposition warily.

    The lady's was light blue with vapors of frost gently wafting off its body. Two long tails came down on the sides of its head as if it were a pair of glass braids.

    The man's was more of a soft lilac purple color, with eerie soulful white eyes and a long forked tail that flicked about as if having a mind of its own. Both of their Pokémon seemed to be similar, yet drastically different from one another.

    The two Skull grunts pointed at the twin foxlike creatures. "Paras…drowzee use-"

    "Espeon, protect Glaceon with light screen!"

    The purple creature jumped forward, eyes glowing to form a long rectangular barrier of light. As it did, the drowzee fired a psybeam that it had completely absorbed, leaving the other side undamaged. Paras' mushrooms branched out in leeching roots for an absorb that was similarly deflected.

    Lillie could only watch in awe at the two trainers she had bumped into, easily coming to her aid.

    Woah.

    "Glaceon, use frost breath on paras!"

    "Gla!" Now its partner, known as glaceon jumped out from the protective barrier and blew out a frosty stream of energy that sent Lillie's skin on edge in a wide contrast to the warm Alolan night. The drowzee was caught in the attack as well, but it shook most of the damage off. The paras Pokémon couldn't withstand the frigid assault and fainted almost instantly, collapsing where it stood.

    "Drowzee, use pound!"

    As the tapir Pokémon rushed forward, the man snapped his fingers. "Shadow ball."

    His own Pokémon quickly generated a dark blob of energy and launched it with astounding speed, giving the opposing psychic type virtually no time to avoid it at all. The orb slammed into it full force, sending the drowzee hurtling back right at the feet of the two Skull goons with a loud crunch and next to its partner who had met a similar fate five seconds earlier.

    "Wha?" One of them looked around wide-eyed incredulously at the growing throng of onlookers. "Ya not gonna say nothing? They were clearly cheating!"

    "Yeah! We weren't even ready and all!"

    "That's funny." The man said as Espeon crouched low in front of him, ready for its next orders. Beside him to his left, the woman and Glaceon were in a similar posture. "You're so bad at battling we don't even need to cheat to win."

    The dry remark incited a round of laughter from everyone watching, followed by a growing applause and loud whistles as they praised the two trainers for standing up to the group that had been harassing Alolans for some time now.

    The woman stepped forward with the glaceon. "Now why don't you two dechets go and fuyez out of here until you learn it's not right to pick on the helpless?"

    "Uh right. Whatever dat means! Just so ya all know yo! Dis ain't over by a long shot! Don't screw with Team Skull!"

    The two delinquents rapidly moved their arms in their strange thuggish dance, likely amusing nobody except themselves before running through an opening, disappearing through an alleyway to somewhere inside the city.

    There had been another round of applause and compliments from the crowd as they began to disperse from all the action. Tourists had been snapping photos and videos on their phones, remaining around to possibly talk with the two trainers themselves, but the furtive glances by the two told everyone that they were going to be treated as a hostile threat as the two Skull grunts they had handily defeated minutes earlier.

    "You did excellent Glaceon." The lady gently said, ruffling its fur. It gave off a coo of affection before being allowed back inside its ball.

    "Nice work Espeon. Return."

    "Es! Espeon!"

    "Are you alright mademoiselle?" The lady asked gently as she stood back up and her partner turned to address Lillie.

    "Y-yes." She managed to squeak out. "Thank you so much."

    I owe these two a lot. Don't even know their names, but they pointed me to the Tide Song Hotel and saved me from Team Skull…just like Elio. Am I going to be in debt to everyone?

    "I thought Alola was relatively safe." The man sighed. "And for the most part it is, until we started seeing these Skull people recently. Now nobody really wants to go anywhere when they come around."

    "Can you blame them?" The lady asked. "They pick on weak trainers or those who can't fight back. Like this mademoiselle here. What is your name?"

    "I'm Lillie."

    "Ah." She looked back at him again. "Elle a tre belle, oui?"

    "Oui." He flashed a wolfish grin. "So if my memory serves me right, you were headed for the Tide Song Hotel?"

    Lillie absentmindedly nodded.

    "Tres bien! That also happens to be where we are staying while here in Alola. Why don't we escort you there in case those two decide to come back for another round? We'll make sure nothing happens to you."

    "Are you sure?" She glanced up at them nervously. "I don't want to be an inconvenience and all. I did almost spill a drink on you ma'am."

    "Accidents happen!" The lady laughed. "And it was just water. Nothing that stains! It looked like you weren't really a trainer and we were headed back in the same way when those two decided to jump you. Glad we were there, otherwise you might've been robbed."

    Yeah. I'm so grateful they were. Team Skull was so close to finding Nebby…if they did…

    "I owe you two so much." She softly said, thinking about how again she had been in distress and may have been able to get back out of it if she had been a trainer.

    "You don't owe us anything Lillie." The man softly said. By now, they had reached the entrance of the Tide Song Hotel. "Just remember to be aware of your surroundings. You seemed a little distracted. Take care of yourself."

    "Ah yes. Thank you again." See what thinking about Elio does?! Why does he never leave my head? Argh! Stop!

    She turned to ask another question to the mysterious Kalosian couple, but glanced around the hotel lobby when their presence was no longer detected. They had disappeared, nowhere to be found.

    At least I'm here in a safe place.

    With the rest of the night fast approaching; Lillie quickly checked into her room and changed into her nightgown. Nebby was let out and it playfully bounced around the room for a little while before tiring out and curling up on the padded chair across from her bed.

    The sheets felt silky smooth and cool to the touch. She fell on its pillow with a relieved sigh from everything that had happened before closing her eyes.

    Would things have been different if I had Pokémon to use in battle? I know that both of them came to my rescue with those…eon Pokémon and all, but even Elio would've easily defeated them. Could I do that too? The only thing that would make me feel more safe and happy here is Elio right behind me, sleeping with me in his arms.

    What? No! Stop thinking those!

    Lillie's further thoughts were lost in her sleep as she continued to dream about a certain trainer with the last name of Northstar.

    So that will wrap up our kickoff of the Akala arc. We've made it over and the story is about to go full throttle with the next part depicting of getting to Paniola Town and all!

    Lillie meets two very familiar Kalosians in a less than stellar way, but it ends up benefiting her since they're there to her rescue from more of Team Skull! Looks like they're not just on Melemele Island either!

    We've got a mix of French! I also happened to take French language courses in my freshman and sophomore year in high school. That was years ago, so I apologize if mine is a bit rusty. I'll keep it separate.

    As for the lore in this chapter. Alola's islands are based off of Hawaii and their names are based off that island's specific color. Aside from our two main ones, I also put in three smaller islands around Akala that the game did not mention or feature. There are still four main pokedexes and all, but it won't be necessary to complete the island challenge by visiting any of the three mentioned. That doesn't mean that Elio won't be going to one in the future.

    • Melemele Island is based off Oahu. The most populous island in Hawaii. The capital Honolulu is on the southwestern side of the island. The Isle nickname for Oahu is the Gathering Isle.
    • Akala Island is based off Maui. This island that we're about to explore is a very popular tourist destination. The Isle nickname for Maui is the Valley Isle.
    • O'mao'mao Island is based off Molokai. Molokai's Kalaupapa Peninsula used to be home to a leper colony, hence the sickness quarantine I had put in there as well as the old Mai'i Village mentioned. The Isle nickname for Molokai is the Friendly Isle.
    • Alani Island is based off Lanai. This island is widely known for its massive pineapple plantations. Thus it's Isle nickname is the Pineapple Isle.
    • A'hinahina Island is based off Kaho'olawe. The smallest island of Hawaii is relatively young compared to the rest of the archipelago. It has no permanent population and used to be a training ground for the US military for island invasions during the Pacific campaign of World War II. Its Isle nickname fits it well; Target Isle.
    Hawaiian Translations:
    • Mai'i - Sickly
    • Da kine - Da kine literally means "the kind" in pidgin. It is usually used as a placeholder for something. A similar analogy can be like; thingy, whatchamacallit. It can refer to anything from a person to an object to a concept. Basically the word you use when you don't know the word. If that makes sense.
    • Maika'i'ole - Insane/Unstable
    • Makuakane - Father
    • Kapu - Guardian
    • Aina - Meal
    French Translations:
    • Ca va - Okay/It's okay
    • Oui - Yes
    • Faites attention - Pay attention/Be careful
    • Tournez à gauche a rue de Palani - Turn left on Palani Street
    • Arete! - Halt/Stop
    • Fuyez - Run away
    • Mademoiselle - Miss/Single woman (A married woman would be addressed as Madam)
    • Dechets - Pieces of garbage
    • Elle a tre belle, oui? - She is very pretty, yes?
    • Tres bien! - Very good!

    Whew, that took longer than I expected. Until then; mahalo for reading and reviewing, you give my writing purpose.

    Brav
     
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  7. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Alola readers! It's Brav again with another installment for A Hui Hou Kakou!

    We're finally parting ways with Lillie (albeit briefly) and heading full speed to the rest of the island challenge! Don't worry everyone, she'll be back to spend some more adorable moments with our handsome hero! So I hope their separation is good enough for you guys! In the meantime; Elio's going to have new challenges, new experiences, new rivals, new friends, new romantic interests (possibly) and of course, new Pokémon!

    Who's ready?! Raise your hand!


    Elio did finally come by the Tide Song Hotel before leaving. I wish he didn't have to go…

    But I know it's for the better because he won't be able to be around me all the time.

    The good thing is that he said that he would send letters as often as he could to tell me what he was up to. At least I can sort of imagine where he's at what he's doing. The last I heard he was about to head out to Paniola Town. He wrote to me about a pair of people from Kalos and described them as the same two that rescued me yesterday! He battled them too! So apparently their names are Sina and Dexio and they gave him a mission…something about a Pokémon legendary to the Kalos region called Zy…what? ZyGuard-A? I'm terrible at spelling on assumptions!

    Turns out he and Hau decided to go together and they found a familiar Pokémon. Elio wanted to catch the eevee, but it was actually Hau that caught it! He didn't seem to upset about it getting away. Don't worry Elio; I'm sure you'll find some more Pokémon to catch later!

    It also turns out that the Hano Grand Resort across the city is holding a really famous surfing competition and Leilani is participating! I'm sure Elio and Hau will want to go since she's more of a friend of them than I am.

    I honestly still want to go. Maybe I can learn to surf? It looks super dangerous and mother would yell at me, but I want to have fun! I want to have fun with friends like Elio! They get to go on their own adventures with their Pokémon and make plenty of friends. What am I doing? Hiding like a wimpod away from everyone and having others come and save me. Why? Why can't I experience a journey like them?!

    Elio let out a rather loud and obnoxious yawn as he stretched his limbs out. Parts of his body remained stiff from sleeping in a bed that was drastically different than his old one. Sure, it was comfortable and all, but it wasn't the same.

    Pokémon center beds are not the most comfortable. He groused. With a groan, he pulled his arm across his front and relaxed the muscles, allowing the last few strands of sleep to fade away. The air conditioning was oddly cold for a place in Alola, with the controls being either broken or he just couldn't figure it out. Needless to say, he slept underneath the thick blankets shirtless like usual. It had just been something he had done for a while.

    Apparently his body was telling him that it was too tired to do anything in the morning, ending up foregoing his usual routine of going for a quick run. With the close proximity of the water nearby, he thought it might also be good to take up swimming. Although he didn't know the waters or any pools other than the ones available at the resorts. There was always those drills that coach taught him, but there were no courts nearby for him to make layups.

    A basketball was too bulky to carry in his bag anyway.

    Running it is.

    What time is it?

    "Oh crap." Ten thirty in the morning, three hours past what he usually awoke around. "Way to oversleep Elio."

    I hope breakfast is still being served.

    He threw off the blankets, allowing the chilly air to embrace his body. Hardly any changes of clothes were inside his backpack, so he gave his favorite shirt a whiff.

    "Ugh. Nasty." That needs to be washed. I'll see if there's one available.

    Settling for another pair of black basketball shorts and a dark green tanktop, he slipped the Hurricanes cap atop his head and headed out, dirty clothes in hand.

    Pokémon Centers or more simply "the center" by trainer slang were public hospitals built and maintained solely for the treatment of Pokémon of trainers. Most of them across the world functioned the same, having a fully capable array of equipment to operate on the most grievous of wounds a Pokémon could suffer at the hands of battle.

    Elio was one person who actually bothered to pay attention when he took that one extracurricular class in high school; Fundamentals of Pokémon Battling one and two during his final two years. One unit depicted the earliest times of where people in the human medical field began to take to caring for Pokémon as well. Back then, life expectancy was shorter and mortality rates were much higher due to a lack of proper knowledge of and quality of sterilization from infectious diseases. The death rates at the time were countless times higher than today.

    Thanks to advances in technology and medicine, the treatment of humans and Pokémon for injuries and illnesses had vastly improved. Pokémon centers went from small clinics to a full-fledged service that catered to the ever demanding need of constant care.

    Elio had seen images of several Pokémon centers around the world, all differing slightly in appearance and amenities, but all essentially the same. Each one had special, cutting-edge machines and tools that made healing basic trauma wounds extremely simple and even more moderate cases could be taken care of. Similar to humans, Pokémon weren't unbreakable and a universal gripe among the many staff was the fact that trainers use their Pokémon in battle before they've completely healed; thus hindering their ability to fight at their optimal condition. Battle experts had pointed out a couple of such incidents that cost challengers dearly in the Indigo League.

    Compared to Kanto's centers, Alola's halemai exhibited a more traditional approach with the colors of a warm green or blue against the usual white interior. Many of them were fancily designed, with tiled floors, richly colored desks and the furniture that made up the general lounges inside look as if this was more of a penthouse than a Pokémon hospital. Soft island music would waft down from the speakers during the daytime hours.

    Hau had explained to him that in Alola, due to the closeness of humans and Pokémon who exist in a peaceful relationship that no expense would be spared in making things as comfortable for the trainer as it did for the Pokémon they treated every day. Here, each one had a couple dozen rooms that trainers could stay at briefly before moving onto the next part of their journey. Of course there were rules and guidelines to follow when using the center's services, but as long as someone was a trainer, it was available to everyone completely free of charge for a maximum of three days.

    So do these centers run on donations like back home? Elio couldn't tell, but it was clear that the funds were plentiful in making the halemai much more opulent than their counterparts back on the mainlands.

    Food options in Kanto and Johto were separate from the center, but in Alola, there was a fully-fledged cafeteria that was open twenty four hours a day. It allowed for sit-down meals to be made on the spot, a self-serve section or trays convenient ready to grab and go if one was in a hurry.

    Breakfast was still being served even when he had set his dirty clothes in the facility's laundry section. Elio flashed his trainer passport to the scanner, which allowed a tray and empty plate with plastic silverware to pop out from the dispenser in order to go and help himself to the buffet table. There was traditional breakfast food; eggs, maple sausage, diced potatoes with sauteed peppers, bacon strips, pancakes and a full bar of cereals and bowls of fresh fruit. There was a jar of furikake seasoning at the condiments area, which Elio loved over rice and he made sure to sprinkle a good portion over his eggs. Many beverage options were available at the bar located further down the eating lounge.

    A multitude of them, both static and rotational were available to be served. Everything was on the menu from water, milk, komala and Poni coffee, juices, tapu cocoa. He opted for a cup of Poni coffee, a local island brew grown in the hardy lands of the namesake island. Two creams and two sugars later made it perfect taste. He wasn't a particularly big fan of coffee and only just started drinking it.

    Elio sat down at one of the tables, already noting that Hau was nowhere in sight. Apparently he was sleeping in the room across and didn't answer when he knocked. The kahuna's grandson was usually an early riser.

    Almost like his father did in the mornings; the boy reached over at the stand and snagged a newspaper, skimming through the headlines as he ate and drank. Even though Rotom was able to access most of the news himself, there was just something relaxing about looking at the leafs of paper printed daily from the Hau'oli Star Advertiser. There were regular weather predictions, current events both local and worldwide and other small sections that had other things from little comics, dish recipes to the word searches that Elio found himself doing on occasion.

    I wonder how Mom's doing. I should give her a call.

    "Hey Rotom, can you turn on your phone?"

    "Of courzzze mazzter." The Pokédex buzzed happily as he settled back down on the table. "Who would you like to zpeak to? Bzzt!"

    "Mom."

    "Got itzzz. Dialing your fantaztic mother!"

    Elio's cell phone buzzed and he slipped it up to his ear. Sure enough, Rotom had activated the calling feature and currently ringing his mother, who was still on Melemele Island. The camera used for the Pokefinder app turned on, capturing his frame in the center for a face to face conversation.

    "Hello?" Elaine said after a few moments as she picked up. His mother appeared to be in her bathroom in her dark robe, running a comb through her long strands of chestnut colored hair.

    "Hi Mom." Elio smiled. "It's me."

    "Well hello sweetheart!" Her voice quickly turned cheerful and a smile cracked her features. "So you've made it to Akala Island! How is it?"

    "It's," He glanced around. "Different. We landed in a city called Heahea, but I can already tell that the terrain is going to not be what I expect."

    "How's Hau, Professor Kukui and Lillie?"

    "They're all good. Hau's still at the center, if he hasn't moved on already. Kukui went to go see his boat, but I last saw him going away and Lillie's at the Tide Song Hotel. I'm going to go and visit her this morning and see if we want to go to the island's ruins together. For the island challenge, there's three trials and I want to try and tackle the first one as soon as possible."

    "Oh so it looks like you've got quite the agenda on your plate. Going to see the ruins with your cute friend Lillie and taking on the island challenge beside Hau? Send me some pictures! Are you going to catch some more Pokémon?"

    Elio knew that the cute friend part was bait and thus didn't take it. "Rotom says that there are a lot more species that can be found here. If I see another Pokémon to add, I certainly will."

    "Well I hope you catch more than just six. Having more partners means you can switch your strategies and broaden the information on the Pokédex."

    "That's the plan."

    "You know, Meowth and I are quite lonely here at home."

    "Don't worry." Elio assured her. "I'll be back home before you know it."

    "Don't be in a rush sweetheart. Your island challenge is the priority. Worry about us later."

    "Sounds like a plan." He finished his breakfast and drained the cup of coffee. "I better get going. Just wanted to say I got here safe and all. I'll call you as soon as I can."

    "Don't."

    "What?"

    "That's right." Elaine said. "Elio. As much as I absolutely love talking with you, I also want you to experience adventures by yourself with your friends. Go and have some fun. Do all the stuff you can't normally do with me around! Get into trouble! Just not too much trouble and be safe okay? Call me in a few days from now!"

    "Sure thing Mom."

    "And always remember that the pendant around your neck will mean that you will always be kept safe by Tapu Koko's blessing."

    "Thanks Mom. I'll talk to you later. Love you."

    "I love you too k'ou wahi anela. Alola!"

    "Alola!" Elio sighed as he ended the call.

    You know what. It feels kind of strange to keep Mom out of the loop of what I'm doing. She even suggested it too.

    "And here you are Mister Northstar." The administrative nurse at the center's front desk slid over a tray with his three poke balls inside. "All of your Pokémon report a good bill of health! You are good to go! Is there anything else we can do for you here?"

    Elio accepted his Pokémon and slipped them into the slots on his belt. "Nope. Just need to check out of my room and then we're good."

    "Excellent. Thank you for using the Heahea Pokémon Center's services! Just insert your card key into the slot and follow the steps on the computer to check out. Mahalo!"

    After signing out and retrieving his finished load from the laundry; Elio exited the center's big glass sliding doors to a sunny blue sky. A few clouds peppered the distance and he felt the warm heat radiating right off the roads. Sweat already began to prick at his back.

    Aww man, scorching already? It's so hot.

    He remembered that Lillie wanted to meet with him at the Tide Song Hotel. So he turned to the right and hurried down the path.

    The hotel was a nice looking tall building shaped in a broad, wide U that had darker patterns of fish Pokémon in the traditional Alolan art. A nice metal fence closed off the property, leaving only a couple entrances to a parking lot where there were plenty of fancy looking cars. In the center was a nice garden that had many different colors of flowers buzzing with a few cutiefly. A gorgeous fountain in the shape of a flat, heart-shaped Pokémon split into threes, spouting colorful sprays of water that turned into a rainbow of colors from the fine mist.

    There was a roundabout that ended in a canopy that sheltered guests from the sun when they arrived from the joint Heahea-Konikoni International Airport situated equidistant from both of the large cities. Like Hau'oli City's; Akala Island's busiest airfield also featured flights to Kanto, Johto, Sinnoh and Unova as well as many other transoceanic destinations in both directions.

    "Alola!" A well-dressed bellhop greeted Elio as he entered the complex. There were several other families with young children coming in and out. One of them were all dressed in bathing suits and the father held a big basket full of toys and towels.

    "Welcome to the Tide Song Hotel! We are part of the booming tourist industry that lives here on the great Akala Island! I let it be your choice on to which resort hotel is the greatest here!"

    "This is the first one I've been to on Akala." Sun said. "So you've made quite the impression!"

    "Excellent! I prefer the Tide Song anyway. Mostly because I interviewed at three other hotels and resorts in Heahea and got rejected."

    Elio snickered at that. "Well I guess that's a good reason to pick a favorite!"

    "Quite so!" The bellhop turned as another car was pulling into the canopy. "Enjoy your stay here sir! Please let us know if you need anything."

    Sun thanked him and went inside, where the shade had provided a little bit of coolness from the strong sunlight outside.

    While it wasn't what he was used to in Kanto with sleek modern architecture; the Tide Song Hotel had a slightly older vibe to it. There was no significant chill in the air from conditioning units, instead having slowly turning fans with elegantly carved blades. The rest of the design was a nice pearly white floor, supporting the ceiling with columns and dark leather furniture. Nice-looking rugs decorated the lobby lounges sat underneath coffee tables and comfortable chairs. Soft notes of an ukelele played a soothing island tune over the speakers that made him instantly feel at ease again.

    The reception desk was an elongated mahogany piece that had the fancy sailboat logo carved into the backboard. Just behind it was another open canopy that had an elevated deck over a big section of the shoreline. A multitude of rentals for surfboards, jet skis, swimming equipment were present alongside more food vendors. There was everything from a small malasada stand to a full course sit down restaurant that covered part of the patio. Hardly anyone was eating, but Elio saw a few members of the wait staff busy setting up tables in preparation for the masses that came to the dinner.

    He spotted Lillie in her white dress and sunhat, sitting down on one of the chairs to the right of reception. She glanced around apprehensively, clutching her duffel rather tightly.

    She looks more nervous than when I saw her last. Hope everything is okay.

    Elio made his way over to a seat across from her. She still glanced around nervously, but her eyes widened and then he saw that she had visibly relaxed when he had been picked out from everything.

    "Oh Elio?"

    "Alola kakahiaka Lillie!" He cheerfully greeted. "How are you this morning?"

    "Um…good. Did you sleep well?"

    "I sure did. The Tide Song Hotel looks really nice. I'm sure it's better than any Pokémon center!"

    "Yup, some of the beds can be super stiff. But it's way better than sleeping outside. That's for sure."

    Lillie's face turned to concern. "Elio, I wouldn't want you to sleep outside. You don't know what will happen."

    "What are you my mother?" He looked incredulous before chuckling. "I'm totally just messing with you! Anyway, I just wanted to come by and see what's up. Did you meet the person that was supposed to come here?"

    "Oh! Well actually…I kind of got into trouble and I missed out."

    Now it was Elio's turn to have a worried look on his features. "What? Lillie, are you okay?"

    "Yes Elio. I'm fine. I just-"

    "Just what?"

    "I was almost jumped by some people who looked like those Team Skull thugs and I got scared."

    "Did they hurt you?" The question came out a little too quickly and with a very serious tone to it.

    "No. They didn't."

    Good. I'm not letting any of those thugs lay a finger on her.

    "There were two very nice people from Kalos that ended up coming to my rescue, but I think I ended up missing my meeting." She gave a longing sigh. "Oh well. At least I can still meet up with you today. It's totally fine!"

    Elio smiled at her optimism, causing her to brighten up as well.

    I swear this boy is going to kill me with that smile.

    "This is actually where I wanted to be since I'll be staying here while you and Hau are on your island challenge until I can find someone to escort me to the ruins."

    "Oh okay. Sounds like a plan."

    I'd ask you because-

    "Because I want to spend more time alone with you." Lillie blurted out before her eyes went wide and she clamped them over her mouth as her expression flustered.

    Elio averted his gaze, having a similar expression. Even though they both refused to look at each other; Lillie found it completely adorable how there was a rosy tinge to his pale cheeks.

    Lillie wants to spend more time with me? Elio thought to himself. Time alone? YES! YES! YES! I can't believe it! She likes me! Score one!

    "Sorry." She said softly. "I just couldn't help it."

    "Hey." Elio finally found a moment to calm him down and address her again. "It's okay. I'm actually really glad you want to spend more time around me. Because I'd love to with you."

    "Really? Thanks…no…sorry, mahalo no ka'ike." She glanced up at him, wondering what his reaction would be after her brief Alolan sentence.

    "Wow. You spoke like a native right there."

    "So will you be going for another one of your trials in the meantime Elio? I heard the closest site is in Brooklet Hill." She reached into her bag, unzipping one of the side pockets as to not risk Nebby going on the loose. A hand fell on a flat piece of paper and she pulled it out, turning over.

    "This is um…a brochure that the hotel's receptionist over there gave me." She gestured up at the desk. "There's a lot of neat things to do on Akala Island. I was thinking you'd want to…um do something fun alone together."

    Lillie rolled her eyes at herself at the rather cheesy way she had said it. Way to go Lillie.

    "Oh," Elio took the brochure and scanned through it. "Fishing, Battle Royale, wailord watching, sightseeing the I'ao Valley, summit the Haleakala peak, snorkeling, windsurfing. There's a lot of really cool restaurants and other attractions! Yeah, and so much more!"

    "I'd like to do something fun while I'm here."

    "I'll take you."

    "Wha-" Lillie glanced up at Elio's serious face. "But Elio, you'll be busy with your trials!"

    "If I can spare time to go and see the ruins with you and Nebby, we'll find some time to do something. Totally up to you. Do you want to see wailords? Try out snorkeling?" His eyes widened at another thing that was set at part of Haleakala Park over by Mauna Wela. "Ziplining?"

    "Z-ziplining?"

    "Yeah. It's a blast!" Elio's smile returned to his features. "You basically clip on this harness and you slide down a long wire really high up really fast. It's a lot of fun."

    "Oh." She felt a little nervous at that. "It sounds really dangerous."

    "It's really a lot of thrilling moments. You're going fast and can see a lot of neat things from so high up."

    "I don't know."

    "Oh." His face fell. "Alright."

    Lillie felt just a tad bit bad that she had squashed his excitement. It seemed like he had really wanted to share it with her. She did want to try something bold out, especially now that her mother was not around to reprimand her for anything.

    Mother is probably already angry at me. There's no harm in doing anything more about that at this point.

    "Nonono!" Lillie stammered, wanting to bring back Sun's smiling face. "Well…I mean um…can we try and do something else before ziplining? I want to try it because you say it's super fun, but I'm not exactly comfortable just yet."

    "Oh." Elio's mouth dropped in a perfect "O" in realization behind her hesitancy. "I'm sorry about that. Yeah, I agree that it's a bit extreme especially if you're not used to something like that. Sure, we can do something else. And we don't have to rush through things right away. Here in Alola, we're supposed to take things nice and easy. How does snorkeling sound to see all the Pokémon that live in the ocean?"

    Lillie had to admit that it didn't sound as dangerous, but swimming in the ocean to look at things alongside Sun did seem like it would be fun to do.

    "Yes. I'd like to do that. Why don't you finish your trials first? As far as I know, we're not going anywhere."

    "Alright." He handed the brochure back.

    "What? Why don't you want it?" Elio could see the hurt in her eyes. He sighed.

    "Because when I come back. I want you to tell me what you want to do and then we'll go together."

    Clearly she didn't expect THAT answer. He thought to himself at seeing her shock.

    "And I'll write you a letter every chance I get with the FPS. I'm sure you'll want to know what I'm up to and all."

    "That would be so wonderful!" Lillie said excitedly. "Yes of course I want to read about everything you've been doing!"

    "Okay sounds good!" Elio made a fist. "I'll uh…see you when I see you. Sure you're going to be okay here?"

    She had been so fascinated with his concern as well as willingness to wait for her that she had left him hanging on the question. "Oh…sorry. Yes. I think I'll be alright."

    "Okay good!" He turned to leave when he felt something grab his hand.

    Lillie gulped, forcing herself to stare right into his steely gray eyes, all while trying to keep her heart from softening.

    Oh goodness. Stay strong Lillie!

    "Please…um…be careful out there." She said nervously, fidgeting with their entwined hands with her fingers while finally looking away. "I know you have your Pokémon and all, but there are a lot of dangerous things like Team Skull out there…I um…I just don't want anything to happen to you…ever."

    "Nothing's going to happen to me and I'll be sure that nothing will happen to you either."

    Her lower lip was had been bitten by her subconsciously and her emerald eyes were filled with warmth, but also a lot of concern for her friend's well-being. "Do you promise?"

    Oh goodness. She looks so freaking adorable right now. I'm being tormented by this beautiful girl right now.

    "Yeah. I promise you."

    After bidding goodbye and more heartfelt promises to one another, Elio reluctantly had to part ways with her. As much as he enjoyed spending time around the blonde assistant, he knew that it would have to come soon enough to go on his own in order to complete the trials.

    All of it wasn't entirely doom and gloom either; the thought of seeing each other once more filled his heart with some excitement that he wasn't able to comprehend.

    Okay for real. Stop thinking about Lillie. This is time where I need to get serious and conquer my trials. Now to see if I have all the things I need for the journey ahead.

    Elio turned to head back into the city after exiting the hotel, inspecting his gear to make sure he didn't forget anything.

    "Arete!" A sharp voice barked out from behind him.

    Elio whirled around to find two twenty-something year olds standing beside the Tide Song's water fountain, eyeing him with quite a bit of interest.

    There was one man and one woman. He wore a yellow Alolan tourist shirt with a large green palm tree on the front and long legged jeans that looked just a bit worn. A fancy looking hat covered parts of his long sandy brown hair.

    Why are you wearing those? It's hotter than hell out here!

    Behind him, the woman wore a white tanktop and short shorts. She had long dark purple hair that went roughly to her shoulders. Both of their eyes were concealed by tinted stylish sunglasses, but even through that; Elio saw that they were a ruggedly attractive couple.

    "Heh," The man chuckled at his sudden jump. "Je suis desole. We didn't mean to surprise you like that. You must be doing your island challenge yes?"

    His nasally accent was a dead giveaway of a foreigner.

    "Uh." Sun wasn't sure what to make of these two, but he solemnly nodded. "Yes."

    They don't look like they're around here. Probably a couple of tourists. And what did that mean? Sounds really foreign.

    "Je m'appelle Dexio. Last name Droite."

    "Dexio! Stop that!" His woman accomplice scolded, stepping up beside him. "You know hardly anybody speaks Kalosian around here!" She glanced over at the perplexed boy, who smirked slightly at their banter. "My apologies. My name's Sina! Sina Gauche! It's a beautiful name for a beautiful lady!"

    "It's nice to meet you both." Sun said, shaking their outstretched hands. "I'm Elio. Elio Northstar, but a lot of people just call me Sun." He paused for just a moment. "You both don't sound like you're from around here."

    "We're seeing the sights here in Alola." Dexio replied, taking a good look around the hotel's square that they were in. "Sina and I are from Lumiose City in Kalos."

    "Woah that's awesome! I heard it's a beautiful city."

    "Sure is! That's understating too!" Sina replied. "Seeing all of Alola is amazing. It's quite a change from busy Kalos, that's for sure!"

    "I love the unique tradition of the island challenge." Dexio added. "It's pretty fascinating and nothing comparable back home, except maybe the gyms for the Kalos Pokémon League. So I just wanted to see what kind of talent this island region's got!"

    Elio nodded. "The island challenge has been fun so far! I'm having a blast as are my Pokémon!"

    "I'd like to see your talents for myself." Sina stepped forward. "Elio, would you like to have a double battle with me and Dexio? We might as well test to see if Alola can compete with those from Kalos!"

    "Uh sure!"

    "Splendide!"

    They found a spot in the park close by the hotel where there was ample room around. Elio had taken up one side while Sina and Dexio had the other. Each one had a Poké Ball in hand.

    "Wait a second." Elio stopped before anyone released a Pokémon. "Don't we need a referee?"

    "Did zomeone call a referee?!" Rotom's droid voice emanated from his backpack and he quickly unzipped his strap and floated over. "Thiz iz Rotom ref! Standing by!" He quickly looked over and stopped at the sight of the couple standing opposite Elio. "Hey! Dexio! Zeena!"

    "Rotom, is that you?!" Dexio exclaimed. "No way!"

    "Itzz me! I'm having a blazzzt with my buddy Elio! He'zzz been an amazzzing trainer and partner! Bzzt!"

    "That's awesome!" Sina said, coming to Dexio's side. "I'm glad Professor Kukui found a talented trainer for you!"

    "Wait a second," Elio repeated; a little confused at the sudden reunion. "You guys know each other and Professor Kukui?!"

    "Yeah! The professor we work with from Kalos worked with him to help start out using these Rotom-Dexes! Rotom here is one of the first in the world!"

    "And the bezzt! Don't forget that bzzt!"

    "So why don't you try out Rotom's referee feature? It's pretty handy."

    "Alright." Elio thumbed two poke balls in his hands. "You ready Rotom?"

    "Yezz." The Pokédex took its place in the center of the field. "Thizz iz a double Pokémon battle between Elio and Zina and Dexio! The match will conclude when one side'zz Pokémon are incapable of battling! Elio, do you accept theze termzz?"

    "Yes."

    "Zina, Dexio. Do you accept theze termzz?"

    "We do!"

    "Alright. Let the battle begin! Trainerzzz, zend out your Pokémon! Bzzzt!"

    "We're going to show you how us Kalosians battle!" Sina declared, striking a battle pose. She tossed her Poké Ball out onto the field. "Let's go Glaceon!"

    "You too Espeon!" Dexio was right behind her, adding his own battler to the mix.

    At the same time, two mammalian creatures materialized onto Sina and Dexio's side. The one in front of the blonde was a light lilac color, with soft velvety fur. It landed gracefully on the ground, opening its purple eyes to reveal white irises. A long forked tail waved erratically behind it and the two long ears atop its head twitched.

    Sina's Pokémon was remarkably similar to Dexios, having a similar body structure and lithe grace. Instead of the purple; hers was bright blue with sparkling darker patches along its skin. The fur was a contrast in the look of its texture, being bristly and akin to spikes.

    Upon its release, Elio felt the air just get a hint cooler.

    They look like evolutions of an eevee. Maybe I can find one around here.

    "Bzzt! New Pokémon detected!" Even though referee Rotom had been in use, it was a full-time job for Rotom-dex to catalogue new species he encountered.

    It shifted to the purple one first. "Espeon. Sun Pokémon. It is one of the evolved forms of eevee. Its fine fur allows it to detect minute changes in the air currents and predict foes movement at will. Espeon are extremely loyal to the trainers that raised them, using its precognitive powers to protect them from dangers. Espeon is a psychic type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    It then addressed the blue one next. "Glaceon. Fresh snow Pokémon. It is one of the evolved forms of eevee. These mammalian Pokémon have the rare capability to control their internal body temperature and requiring very little heat in order to survive. The chill in the air can rapidly freeze moisture, creating a flurry of diamond dust. The fur can be frozen stiff and fired or jabbed into their foes. Glaceon is an ice type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Eevee evolutions huh?" Elio had long admired the cute baby fox Pokémon that was native to Kanto. It was extremely rare though and he had only heard just rumors about more possible paths for it being discovered. "Definitely cool to see them in person. Alright in that case," He threw out his two Pokémon. "Litten! Grimer! I choose you both!"

    Litten stretched his legs and lowered his head to observe his opponents. Grimer plopped on the grass, waving his arms about, but also curiously eyeing the two eeveelutions.

    "Wow. I don't think I've seen a grimer like that before!"

    "Battle begin! Bzzt!"

    "Alright, let's kick this off Litten! Use ember on Glaceon!"

    He meowed threateningly, although Elio couldn't help but admit it was awfully cute. Jumping into the air, the cat blew a puff of fire right down at Glaceon.

    "Light screen." Sina simply commanded. Her own Pokémon let out a wailing cry before a massive wall that had been made of pure light had coalesced in front. The ember struck its surface, easily dissipating against the superior force. Elio knew that his special attacks were now going to be suppressed in power until the barrier faded or he found a way to destroy it.

    Looks like we'll have to go physical.

    "Espeon, use psybeam on grimer!"

    Grimer made no attempt to move as Espeon's red orb on its forehead glowed and shot out a ray of pinkish energy.

    Wait a second, Dexio doesn't know it's part dark? Let's keep it that way.

    "Disable!"

    "Grime!" With a wave of his hands, the fired psybeam halted abruptly and left Espeon confused at it. He then began to move in up close. His fangs protruded out for a bite and clamped down, however the sun Pokémon nimbly dodged the move.

    "Glaceon, help Espeon with frost breath!"

    "Dis-" Sun was about to issue another command when the second eevee evolution turned to Grimer's direction and sucked in a mouthful of air before exhaling it out in a frigid stream.

    He let out a pained cry as it battered him from the sides and crystallized in parts of his liquid body. Ice formed at his base, preventing him for the most part from moving.

    "Espeon, use quick attack on Litten!"

    "Es!" Pouncing off its hind legs; it shot forward with incredible force, colliding with his starter. Litten skidded back a ways before rolling back to his feet and shaking it off, baring his teeth.

    "That's the spirit buddy!" Elio made a fist. "Now it's time to go on the offensive!"

    As he charged forward, cloaking his teeth in a fire fang directed at Espeon, Elio noticed that Glaceon was readying an attack of its own directed at Litten.

    Grimer saw it too.

    With a grunt, it managed to crack apart enough of the ice encasing its lower body to shrink down, quickly closing the distance between the other two. He resized up, just in time to easily absorb the flurry of sharp ice shards that were flung at Litten.

    "Woah!" Rotom exclaimed. "Grimer hazz learned minimize! Bzzt!"

    "Espeon, quick attack that grimer and get it off Glaceon's back!"

    "Es!"

    Here it comes.

    As it sprinted forward at a rate that almost was too fast for the eye to follow, Dexio was definitely surprised when he saw the Litten had jumped right into the action. Just as it appeared to strike Grimer; Elio's starter bore his lit fangs and bit right down on Espeon's leg. The psychic type cried in pain as its smaller opponent threw it over a ways.

    "Grimer, use bite too!"

    "Grime!" While he did that; Litten automatically moved and fired another pair of embers towards Glaceon. The ice type retaliated with more ice shards, but they were no match for the heated attack. Both ended up canceling one another out.

    Espeon tumbled away from Grimer before standing up. Part of its feet wobbled weakly and there was an oily film covering its body that caused it to flinch suddenly.

    Grimer's poison touch ability activated!

    A startled meow caught him off guard as he looked down over at Litten, who was now shivering from the exact same filmy gunk.

    What? Grimer didn't attack Litten!

    "Rotom, what's happening? Why is Litten poisoned?"

    "That iz Espeon's ability! Synchronize! It allows it to share itz ztatuzz conditionzzz with its opponentzz! Bzzt!"

    "Let's finish this!" Dexio said, looking over to Sina as they planned to wrap it up. "Espeon!"

    "Glaceon!"

    "Use swift!" Both Kalosians cried out at the same time.

    A little bit of uncertainty came into his mind when he saw both eevee evolutions jump upwards simultaneously with loud cries and spray a massive barrage of glowing white stars that was aimed downwards.

    "Minimize grimer! Look out!"

    Litten was hit by a multitude of them, splashing around his body and throwing him back towards Sun.

    "Litten! No!"

    Grimer didn't fare much better either. The double swift attack had changed course in midflight, homing down on his shrinking smaller form and battering him just the same. In an instant, he had grown right back up to his normal size, now slumping over after fainting.

    "Grimer izzz incapable of battling!" Rotom declared. "The battle izzz now a two on one!"

    "Wohoo! Tres bien!" Sina jumped up and gave Dexio a high five.

    Elio took out Grimer's Poké Ball. "Return." A red beam enveloped his form and sucked him back into his capsule. "You did good buddy. Thanks for your hard work."

    Now what do I do? It's a two on one and Litten's poisoned. I don't think he can take them both on at the same time!

    "Es!"

    "Espeon? What's wrong?" Dexio took off his blue sunglasses to address his Pokémon.

    "Es!" It wailed again as its hind leg suddenly lanced upward to scratch something on its upper body before abruptly stopping. Espeon collapsed on its side, going limp in the grass. The poisoning condition had finished it off no sooner than Grimer's own fall.

    "Espeon izzz incapable of battling!" Rotom-ref said. "The battle izzz now a one on one!"

    This just got a whole lot easier. But I can't waste time. No idea now long Litten can last!

    "Well, I guess that poison did worse than I expected." Dexio shook his head, but kept an easygoing smile while recalling his Pokémon. "Espeon return. Thanks partner. You did awesome out there." He stood up again. "I guess it's up to you Sina."

    "You hear that Glaceon?!"

    "Glace! Glaceon!"

    "I know you're tired Litten," Elio encouraged his starter Pokémon as best he could. "But we're almost there! We've got the type advantage and all!"

    That should be enough for us to win right?

    "Frost breath!"

    "Counter with ember!"

    The two attacks collided with one another. Again, Litten's fire was dissipated by the big wall of light screen while the icy gale went unimpeded. He struggled against it when it ripped away and the poison working in tandem on his body did significant damage, but the determined feline remained upright.

    Then Elio saw the light screen flicker a couple of times before dissolving into the air.

    The light screen is fading!

    "Now's our chance buddy! Ember again!"

    "Ice shard!"

    Glaceon's sharp icicles were much faster in their attacking speed, but Litten nimbly dodged each one before his claws dug into two large ones to launch an ember that struck the fresh snow Pokémon directly in the face. The force was enough to cause it to stumble back with a pained cry.

    "Glaceon!"

    Litten landed on the ground, hissing loudly before he began to glow. At first; Elio thought he was learning a new move, but then he quickly realized that it wasn't the case at all.

    Is it? No…it can't be!

    "Woah." All three trainers gasped as the glow became harsher.

    Elio's starter was beginning to morph shape. Limbs became larger, more defined. His body bulked up as it increased in size.

    The light dissipated as a new Pokémon stood where Litten once was. Its orange and black fur had thickened with a larger tail and more muscular frame. There was an orb that appeared to be on fire set around his neck as if it were a collar. It blazed a bright orange, matching the Pokémon's determined expression.

    "Woah. Litten, you evolved!"

    "Check it out! Bzzt!" Rotom said. "New Pokémon detected! Bzzt! Torracat. Fire cat Pokémon. It is the evolved form of Litten. The fiery bell at Torracat's throat burns bright whenever it senses a strong opponent. It boasts powerful legs that can bend iron bars with a single strike. Torracat in your roster is a male and has the ability blaze, which will boost the power of fire-type moves when it is in a pinch."

    "Alright Torracat!" Elio said. "Let's finish this!"

    "Not if Glaceon and I have anything to say about it!" Sina pointed at him again. "Frost breath!"

    "Tor!" Torracat used its more powerful legs to jump well clear of the incoming attack. He zigged upwards, closing the distance with newfound speed to deliver a well-placed fire fang to Glaceon's side, causing a lot of damage.

    "Alright! We got this buddy!" Elio spun one of his two Z-crystals in his fingers. The Normalium Z's pearly sheen reflected off the Alolan sun as he flipped and slid it into the empty space on his Z-Ring. Pressing it down until an amazing amount of energy could be seen…and felt through Elio's body as he called upon the aid of the spirits. It felt as if some invisible current of power had been bestowed upon him by the Tapu and he couldn't suppress the grin emerging onto his face.

    "Torracat. Let's show them the full potential of your Z-Power!"

    I still can't believe how ridiculous this looks!

    Sun crossed his arms with the still-glowing band and rehearsed the pose that had been taught to him by Ilima. He'd done the normal-type one once and pulled it off, so eventually, he'd have it down by heart.

    Forming an X, he spread them out, leaning just slightly to his side, raising his left arm and lowering his right. They snapped into place in succession to form a rough "Z" shape and no sooner had he finalized the pose when multiple tendrils of energy currents flowed out from the ring and his body to surround Torracat.

    Elio felt his power and together, both trainer and Pokémon felt their confidence soar to new heights. The feeling of the heightened power that came from the land was indescribable in strange and amazing.

    I believe in you Torracat…and Torracat believes in me.

    "Go Torracat!" Elio's face took a fierce look as he began to shout with the urge caused by his Z-Power. It was amplified with the bright gold glow of his ring while he posed. "Channel your scratch into BREAKNECK BLITZ!"

    "TORR!" He pawed the ground before exploding forward without warning, closing the distance between him and a wounded Glaceon in moments. He kicked up a massive cloud pillar of dust in the wake, colliding with his foe with immense force and growling with such ferocity that it made its victim and all trainers watching have their hair stand on end.

    Glaceon was smashed in an instant, the blow flinging it wide and into the ground, ripping up fist-sized clumps of grass and dirt into the air before tumbling to a halt in the center of the field. Battered and bruised, it lay limp, clearly fainted.

    Rotom-ref floated above, waving one of its stubby red hands. "Glaceon izzz incapable of battling! Zina and Dexio are out of uzeable Pokémon! Elio iz the winner of the match!"

    "YES!" Elio jumped up and made a fist in victory. "Woah ho! That was beautiful brother!"

    "Tor!" His cat made a soft purr and bounded over, tugging his claws on the boy's shorts, expectant of praise.

    "Why yeah of course you did amazing! And you evolved too!" He crouched down, allowing his Pokémon to let out a light happy meow with a happy smiling expression. "You're the best partner ever buddy! C'mon!"

    Elio spread his arms around above his head, waving his shoulders and hips in a little celebratory jig as Torracat tried is best to imitate him. It caused the boy to laugh at the attempt. He realized that he hadn't done anything about the poison covering his body.

    "Hang on a second buddy."

    Digging around for his refresh kit, he dabbed part of the rubber ball in medicine and lightly slathered it over the oily sections, making care that every small patch was completely covered. It took him a couple of minutes, but the end result had his own starter rubbing his head against his trainer, causing him to laugh from the genuine sign of affection.

    Then he realized that he was showboating a little too much in front of the losers and stopped. "Oh sorry guys. Not very professional of me. Habit from playing sports for so long."

    To his surprise, both Sina and Dexio laughed.

    "Glaceon, return. Thank you partner." She whispered before turning back to Elio. "No really, it's fine. You're clearly quite the character. I like that in a trainer."

    "Quite so!" Dexio agreed. "Alola trainers certainly have a different charm than those in Kalos! That's for sure! It's what I expected from a trainer doing the island challenge."

    "Oooh!" Something had caught Sina's eye and she stepped closer to look. "What's that?"

    It took Elio a moment to realize she had been referring to the golden Tapu Koko pendant that was laced around his neck. "Oh this? It's a special pendant for trial goers. How do I put this?" He cupped his chin in thought. "You can get it blessed by the kahuna of Melemele Island and if you get an encounter with the protecting god of the island, Tapu Koko is said to watch over and protect you as you're on your journey."

    "That's pretty awesome!" Sina said, with Dexio nodding in agreement. "So did you encounter Tapu Koko already?"

    "I did." Yeah, it was pretty memorable too.

    "Then you're going to be special kid." He claimed. "I felt the bond between you and your Pokémon, especially with that Z-move!"

    "I feel like I've been able to have just a glimpse of the island challenge firsthand!" Sina added.

    "You know, this battle reminded me of us in the past oh so many years ago." He nodded, while reminiscing about the memory. "That group of five young promising trainers. Man I wonder what they're up to nowadays? How old were the oldest again now? Eighteen or nineteen…can't remember."

    Dexio straightened up. "Anyway, I've made up my mind. Since you're a trainer whose doing the island challenge with so much potential, I've decided to entrust you with a very important item!"

    He reached into his bag and handed over what looked like a hexagonal cube that had a green iridescent shine. It was about the size of a baseball and its main reflecting surface had varying shades all in more hexagon shapes that resembled honeycomb in a nest.

    Elio glanced at them as he took it into his hands. "Not to be blunt, but what's this?"

    "That mon ami, is a device for collecting the cores and cells of a legendary Pokémon called Zygarde." Dexio explained. "I will tell you the details another time when I have more information back from my sources in Kalos. So can I entrust you to keep it safe for me Elio?"

    "Uh." It was a lot to process.

    "Are you figuring out a way to say yes?" Sina chuckled. "Trust me. When we get to you more about it, it's something you'll definitely want to do. Don't worry, it's not going to distract you from your island challenge!"

    "Oh good!" Sun felt relieved at that. "I was thinking I'd have to take up like this as a job or something!"

    "Nah not at all! In fact, I think it would be good for you to go and continue on your island challenge! Why don't we exchange numbers in case we need to contact you or vice versa?"

    "Sure!" Elio ratted his off before realizing that Rotom had already registered both of theirs in his database.

    "Splendide!" Sina said. "We'll be seeing you around Elio! Bon voyage!"

    "Alola!" Elio waved his hands, causing them both to return the gesture. As they passed him to go head further into the city, he quickly remembered something.

    "Thanks for an awesome battle! Let's do it again sometime!"

    He got a wave of acknowledgment in return.

    "Alright." He glanced down at Torracat and threw him a poke bean. He had been waiting so patiently for the humans to stop talking and more than ready to accept the tasty treat. "Why don't we get you rested up and go on our way?"

    The next route led out of the eastern section of Heahea City. It was right past the suburban homes moving inland on a wide winding trail. Hills and slopes gradually got steeper as Elio made his way up their sides.

    "Howzit Elio?" He heard someone call from behind him. Glancing back down the hill, he was definitely surprised when the familiar figure of Hau sprinted up to his side, stopping close by and putting a hand on a tree to rest and catch his breath.

    "Howzit Hau? Out of breath brah?" Through Hau's fatigue, the two of them high-fived, before raising their arms up and swaying their hips in their own little brotherly dance before clasping hands again and pulling in for a friendly slap on the back. Ritual handshake was complete before they headed to the shade of a nearby tree to talk.

    "I was looking for you to head up to Paniola Town when the nurse told me you already checked out of the Pokémon center!"

    "Well considering how you wake up early each day, I thought you went ahead without me!"

    "Nope!" Hau pumped a fist. "Say, since we're heading in the same direction, why don't we travel together? I sure could use a buddy."

    "Yeah, I like that." Elio glanced into the thicket of trees behind him. "I'm pretty much stocked up on supplies. It's still a good couple hours until we reach Paniola. Are you ready?"

    "Yup!"

    "Awesome brah! Let's go!"

    The route that led into Paniola Town took multiple slopes and dips, making it seem like they hadn't gone very far. Trees overhead provided a welcoming amount of shade, yet both boys were still sweating from the mugginess in the air. Elio led the way, following Rotom's map which indicated that they were fairly close to their destination, about an hour's walk.

    Something both boys noticed right off the bat was the additional diversity of new Pokémon species discovered. In addition, there were other trainers along the path who were quick to challenge one of them to a battle. Each one was met with the same thing of defeat at the hands of whoever they fought.

    "Can you believe all the other Pokémon we've seen so far?" Hau asked. "Both from those trainers and the wild ones too!"

    "Yeah. Rotom's certainly been busy today, that's for sure!"

    "Yezzzir!" His screen went blank before popping up to multiple different Pokémon images that they had seen for the past hour.

    "Drifloon. Balloon Pokémon. Drifloon is said to grab onto the hands of small children and drag them into the afterlife. It dislikes those that overweight and its lightweight body ends up getting pulled around instead. Drifloon is a ghost and flying type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Munchlax. Big eater Pokémon. It needs to consume its weight in food every day and is indifferent to flavors. Munchlax is a normal type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Bagon. Rock head Pokémon. Bagon's helmet-like armor on its head is harder than steel and gets tougher every time it indiscriminately headbutts objects. It is believed that it does this out of its frustration of being unable to fly. Bagon is a dragon type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Lillipup. Puppy Pokémon. The long whitish fur over its face functions as a radar, allowing it to probe the conditions of its opponents. This Pokémon is popular with trainers who live in apartment buildings due to its inability to yelp and bark loudly. Lillipup is a normal type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "I bet you we can find more Pokémon around here!" Hau said, walking ahead of him. "Do you want to stop and look?"

    "Sure." Elio glanced at the clock in the corner of Rotom's screen. "Maybe I should try catching a fourth."

    "You've got four? No way! I still have to find me a third!"

    "Aha!" Elio exclaimed, coming across a small pinkish Pokémon that resembled a balloon like the drifloon the trainer had earlier. "Hau! Look what I found!"

    "What?" The kahuna's grandson bounded over and his eyes went wide. "Woah! What is that?"

    "New Pokémon detected! Bzzt! Igglybuff. Balloon Pokémon. It sweats as it moves along by bouncing and giving off a sweet smell. Igglybuff's voice is undeveloped and improves little by little as it matures with encouragement. Igglybuff is a normal and fairy type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "There you go Hau," Sun did the same. "You can catch that one!"

    "Okay. Sounds good!" He took out a Poké Ball. "Let's go Pikachu!"

    "Pika! Pikachu!" His yellow electric type landed on the ground with all fours, the red sacs sparkling with bits of electrical energy.

    "Iggy!" The Pokémon rushed forward to reach out in a pound attack.

    "Pikachu! Thundershock!"

    "Pika!" He nimbly dodged the incoming attack before surrounding his entire body with lightning and delivering a long jagged blast that hit the igglybuff head on. The thundershock was too much for it to take, causing an instant fainting.

    "Aww man!" Hau put his hands up to his face in frustration. Fainted Pokémon were incapable of being captured. "Crap!" He glanced down at Pikachu, who looked similarly upset. "Don't be sad Pikachu. That just means you're very strong!"

    "Hey, there's plenty more." Elio said, trying to console him. "Maybe it just wasn't meant to be."

    "Yeah."

    The two of them decided to take a break just when they were about to exit the forest. There was a clearing in the distance to the northeast where the ends of a settlement could be seen. Above it was a massive towering peak of the mountain that dominated Akala Island; Haleakala.

    Sun and Hau sat down underneath a big tree, eating some of the snacks they had brought along. The kahuna's grandson was munching on a rice cracker mix while Elio gnawed at strips of teriyaki beef jerky. There was a stand in Heahea City that served bags of it with its main specialty shop over at Konikoni to the south. Ever since in competitive sports; Elio found that its portability, non-perishable and easy source of tasty protein kept him full for a decent amount of time.

    Dang. He thought as he popped another strip of the tough leathery food into his mouth. This mago haban flavor is sweet and hot. I really like it.

    He wondered what other unique Alolan flavors were available at the shop. He'd have to visit Konikoni anyway since it was situated close to the Ruins of Life, where Lillie would eventually want to meet up with him.

    I can't wait to see her again.

    To his left; Hau gave off a frustrated sigh. So far; any attempts to find a good Pokémon haven't been very fruitful.

    Elio quickly sensed his discomfort. "Hey don't give up. We'll find something before you know it."

    "I sure hope so." Hau said, flicking one rice cracker into the distance.

    "You keep doing that and you'll be up to your elbows in willing Pokémon."

    "Really?"

    "Yeah and I doubt they'll come primarily because they'll want to be your partner too."

    Hau blew air out of his nose in amusement. "You're funny."

    "I try."

    There was an abrupt rustling that stopped their conversation. It had come from the direction where Hau had thrown the snack.

    "I guess we spoke too soon."

    As quietly as possible, the two boys crept up to the brush ahead, taking cover behind a larger tree and peering over the side.

    Sure enough, there was a Pokémon. It was small, quadruped with light brown and cream colored fur. Long ears twitched as it sensed the new presence and turned around.

    That's…that's an

    "Woah." Hau whispered. "That's an eevee!"

    "New Pokémon detected! Bzzt!" Rotom buzzed. "Eevee. Evolution Pokémon. This unique Pokémon has an unbalanced genetic makeup that allow it to evolve into eight different Pokémon species! New evolutions of eevee are continuing to be discovered! Eevee is a normal type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "I'm going to catch it!" Sun said, already stepping forward and readying the great ball. "Rufflet, you're up! Fury attack!"

    "Ruff!" The ball popped, forming his trusty eaglet and he nose-dived down, jabbing the brown fox in the side. It let out a soft cry of pain before jumping away to avoid his next attacks.

    Eevee squealed in fright before jumping up and unleashing a volley of bright star projectiles. Rufflet swooped his wings out of the way, but the swift attack changed its course, curving in midair to strike him repeatedly. He let out an annoyed caw, diving down once again in a peck.

    "Hey, that eevee is mine!" Hau said, tossing out his Pikachu. "Pikachu! Thundershock!"

    "Pika! Chu!" The mouse Pokémon charged up a blast of electricity while stepping right in front of the startled Rufflet, zapping the unfortunate eevee for a brief couple seconds. When he had stopped, landing in front of Hau; there were small arcs of it dancing across its limbs and burned fur. Its movements had gone stiff, but still let out a growl that didn't sound very threatening at all. "All right!"

    "Hau, now's your chance!" Even though Elio would've been more than happy to claim the Pokémon for himself, he remembered that Hau had wanted a third Pokémon for quite some time now. This was his moment. A signal brought Rufflet to fly up and land on his shoulders. He stroked his fur gently.

    "We will let Hau have his moment!"

    "Right." He took out one of his empty poke balls. "And go!"

    With his left arm, he opened it up and threw the capsule device towards the struggling eevee. Pikachu saw it coming and jumped away just in time to allow it to slide right past.

    Quickly detecting eevee's signature; it sucked the creature inside the device and settled on the ground.

    Hau and Elio both held their breath as it shook once, twice and a third time.

    Snap!

    An audible click was heard from the Poké Ball as it stopped wobbling. Simultaneously, both boys let out relieved sighs as the tension of the moment wound down.

    "Yes!" Hau raced up to it with Pikachu right behind him and held up his new addition with unmatched triumph. "I caught an eevee!"

    "Pika!"

    "Congratulations Hau. Ho'omaika'i 'ana!"

    "Mahalo nui loa!" He extended his hand out, prompting the other boy to give a well-deserved high five. "You're the best Elio! We'll be able to conquer anything!"

    "You bet your ass we can!"

    "Come on out Eevee!" Hau said, releasing it from its Pokéball.

    "Ee! Eevee!" The tiny foxlike Pokémon glanced around at its surroundings. Immediately, Pikachu and Rufflet moved over to greet it. The additional Pokémon let out a joyful cry as Pikachu brought it a cheri berry from a nearby tree. Elio had learned that the small slightly spicy fruit had a particular effectiveness at curing a Pokémon's paralysis. Eevee was back to regular strength in no time with the oran berries Rufflet dropped at its feet with its talons.

    "It'z nice to meet you Eevee!" Rotom said, floating up in between the boys. "Analyzing! Bzzt! Hau, your eevee is a male and his ability is Adaptability, allowing attack power to be increased if it is the same type as the Pokémon! Bzzt!"

    "Woah Rotom," Elio glanced up at his talking device. "You can see other people's Pokémon too?"

    "I can to an extent! Bzzt! Now how about you zay we get rollin' to Paniola Town?"

    "Agreed." Elio glanced up to see that the Alolan sun had moved well into the afternoon. The night was still a few hours off, but during the battle with Hau's new companion, it had taken some time away. Sun didn't want to get there too late and the sooner they arrived, the better chance of getting a room at the local Pokémon center.

    "When we get to Paniola Town, I'm going to challenge you to a battle! Three on three with my new pal!"

    "You got it brah!"

    And that'll do it for this chapter! As always, feedback is much appreciated and is primarily what drives me to write!

    Hawaiian Translations:

    • Halemai - Hospital/Clinic
    • Furikake - Furikake is a seasoning extremely popular in Japan. It's typically sprinkled over rice, fish and vegetables or even used in making onigiri (rice balls). Typical composition is dried fish meal, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar and salt. Since Hawaii has a big Japanese American population, the seasoning can be abundantly found there as well.
    • K'ou wahi anela - My little angel
    • Alola kakahiaka! - Good morning!
    • Ho'omaika'i 'ana! - Congratulations!
    • Mahalo nui loa! - Thank you very much

    French Translations:

    • Arete! - Stop!/Halt!
    • Je suis desole - I'm sorry
    • Driote - Right
    • Gauche - Left
    • Je m'appelle (name) - I call myself (Typically used for an introduction/My name is)
    • Splendide - Splendid
    • Tres bien! - Very good! (I made a mistake last chapter by saying Tres bon, which literally says the same thing, but is more used towards; very delicious! It has been rectified.)
    • Mon ami - My friend
    • Bon voyage - Have a good trip

    Alright! Think I covered them all! Anyway, mahalo for reading and reviewing as always. You give my writing purpose. See everyone around next time!

    Brav
     
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  8. ShinigamiMiroku

    ShinigamiMiroku Dragon Tamer
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    Yay! Litten evolved! That match was a really close call; if he hadn't evolved I don't think Sun would've won that match... :sweat:

    These last chapters were great. I especially like the Kalosian couple; do they actually appear in the game? A friend of mine let me start a new file on his copy since he doesn't have the time to train for the next VGC, and I've only gotten up to the point of Route 2 opening up... Interesting thing - when I started a new file, and was asked to name Sun, the first name that came to mind was Elio.
     
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  9. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Aww thanks man! I won't say anything for spoilers if you're not past that area yet.

    :)That's awesome. If you considered naming your protag Elio, then I'm doing my job right B)
     
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  10. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Alola readers.
    Before I get started here; we've got some extra news regarding Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Plus a couple other questions shot to me via PM and there's a few things for me to go over.

    But I do have to say the USUM looks really exciting to play and I can't wait until they're released in November. As for me inputting stuff from those upcoming games into the story...well we'll see. I mean, neither one is available to play for two more months...a little less. But given some of the new footage and teaser images we get bit by bit means that there is a much darker and intense storyline than the first two Sun and Moon games. I do plan on taking a more dramatic twist on things which I'm particularly excited to write about. Those of you who have played the games know where a lot of that stuff is going to happen.

    I'm going to keep myself completely open minded and creative, so it is very possible that I bring in stuff that happens in USUM into the fold. Now I'll have to keep it logical and balanced as best I could, so obviously anything up to this point that occurs in the alternate universe can't happen. If stuff down the road is influenced by a part that I've already gone past...well I may have to pass it up, no matter how awesome it would be to add it in.

    Now I don't anticipate me getting a lot further into the story by the time USUM releases. (I still have no idea how long I'm planning to take this! :P) In a way, that will work in my favor since I can put more stuff from USUM if I feel like it in here. I estimate that by then we MAY get to the Totem Wishiwashi battle.

    Big thanks to @ShinigamiMiroku for the feedback. Always nice to hear from your input. Hope you're still enjoying Sun & Moon with your hero Elio :P

    So I'll step off my soapbox and let the chapter be told. Enjoy guys.


    I was surprised to get a letter from Elio this early! Even though he said he'd only be in the Paniola area for a couple days, it seems like he's having a lot of fun!

    Dear Lillie,

    I hope everything is going well back in Heahea City. I heard that there are a lot of nice pools there at the Tide Song to relax and unwind. Lots of places to eat too! Since everything's been tense with Nebby and all, you certainly could use the relaxation!

    I never really expected farming to be such a huge business on a place like Alola, especially somewhere like Akala Island, but here it is, I suppose! All this land at the foot of Haleakala is all dedicated to agriculture and run by ranchers for generations! This really reminds me of those awesome old western movies! So Hau and I decided to "reenact" those awesome standoff scenes from movies like The Lone Ranger with all the gunfighting and quickdraw duels! It was pretty funny and it seems that all the people who live here seem to get a kick out of all the tourists imitating the same thing. There's actually quite a few of them here too!

    Did you know that "Paniola" is Alolan for cowboy? So this place is literally called the Town of Cowboys! Even though this seems right out of one of those Lone Ranger movie sets, there's evidence that this place isn't completely cut off from the outside world! They've got cars, running water, electricity, intranet and most technology that all the cities have. No paved roads though. They're all colored in this red dirt. I've never seen anything like it.

    Anyways, I made a new friend here! People here are dressed for the harsh kind of thing. Given all the interesting clothing that people wear around here, you might fit in as a fine lady! It's really remarkable how much the landscape has changed just by going a little bit inland! The cool thing is that I got some souvenirs from the shops, a Stetson cavalry hat and this cool shirt that has the red dirt rubbed into it. Aren't you supposed to have dirt out of a shirt though?!

    The first trial is up ahead at a place called Brooklet Hill. We're headed up there tomorrow through the Paniola Ranches to take it on. Again, just take things nice and easy like I said the other day. Alola is a place to relax and have fun!

    I miss you.

    Sincerely,

    Elio

    "Woah." The boys said at the same time.

    They stood at the dirt road by the main one that led right into a single road with a multitude of old-time looking wooden buildings lining either side. There was a tall arch that spanned the two closest structures, showing some dark font as a welcome sign.

    "Pomaikaʻi i ke kulanakauhale Paniola." Hau read out loud. Turning to Elio, he rephrased it in Basic. "Welcome to Paniola Town."

    "Just wow." Elio glanced around.

    It was as if they had stepped back in time to an old rustic Western settlement. The firmly packed dirt that split the town in two was a rural throwback compared to the rather modernized urban Heahea City they had left earlier that day. The few townsfolk around outside were in long sleeved clothes, starting the day by lounging in the shade of the stilted roofs.

    To their right in between two of the large buildings was a water tower that loomed over the townscape, all parted by a thicket of trees stretching further back into the backcountry. The road that led north gave a fantastic view of the massive mountain that Elio saw towering over the entirety of Akala Island. From his point of view, the Mauna Haleakala had vibrant green vegetation around its base before dropping away roughly halfway up. The summit was just shy of a couple overhanging clouds, a dark brown peak devoid of vegetation.

    The lone street that bisected the long settlements twisted to their right before heading into a clearing that must've gone to the main highway that encircled the island. The only vehicles seen were a pair of battered trucks that probably were being rolled off the assembly line when Elio's mother was being toilet trained. One of them was sputtering and had a coughing engine that belched a cloud of acrid smoke before its driver had pulled to a stop in front of a large shed on the left side to unload massive brown sacks.

    Weather here was just like the rest of Alola and a sweating Elio instantly was reminded of its discomfort. The heat was relentless, oppressive and humid. Three things he didn't particularly like.

    This place didn't seem like it had any form of air conditioning, so he already suspected the buildings were either going to be hot, stuffy or both.

    "Woweee!" Hau glanced around happily at the settlement. "So this is Paniola Town huh? It's totally like a throwback to the old times huh?"

    "Yeah it is." Elio glanced around as they had made their way over to the center square. From here, the roads had intersected and led back off into a few more homes that lined either side of the branching street.

    Even though it looked as if the settlement had been built before their grandparents had been born; there was clear evidence that it was still in touch with the modern world. Besides the cars, a couple people had phones and tablet pads. Perhaps the biggest standout was the contemporary Pokémon center that sat on the northeast part of the main square.

    It's strange seeing something like that in the middle of this place. But it's what we do need right now.

    "So Hau," Elio started. "Why don't we get our Pokémon healed and we can do our battle once it's done?"

    "Yeah sure."

    The Paniola Pokémon center had a similar modern interior to the others they had been to, with the exception of dark wooden walls and more antique furniture. The semicircular receptionist desk was tended to by another identical pink haired nurse who each had just ever so slightly different features from the others running the other centers.

    Thankfully, the only serious issue was Hau's eevee who had contracted paralysis when Pikachu had its static ability triggered by physical contact. While a cheri berry had cured it for the most part while they were in the forest, the nurse gave it a look over anyway and confidently said that it had been fully cured prior to her inspection. All the other Pokémon for both trainers were set in a special quick-healing machine and brought back up to full strength.

    "Now how about that battle?"

    "You bet! Let's go do it outside!"

    Both boys thanked the nurse on duty and practically sprinted towards the glass door eagerly. Just as the sensor up top had recognized them and opened outward, they ran right into another tall figure. They had both been to intent on getting back outside that the collision nearly knocked them both over. The other man merely grunted, barely even moved by the force.

    "Oh." Hau stumbled back while Sun managed to catch his balance by grabbing hold of the top of a nearby chair.

    "S-sorry sir!"

    Elio was about to make an apology himself when he saw the man. His appearance was a bit…off-putting.

    His build was rangy and the plaid shirt and long legged pants he had on was a huge giveaway that he was one of the herders and native to the town. A wide brimmed Stetson hat sat atop his head and the two eyes gave both surprised boys a penetrating stare, although they were hidden by a pair of sunglasses.

    Perhaps what put them on edge the most was the bright red bandanna concealing his nose and mouth. The aggressive stance and hiding of his features made him quite an intimidation.

    "Sorry." Hau managed to squeak. Before Elio could say anything else, the kahuna's grandson grabbed the other boy by the wrist and dragged them outside.

    He breathed a sigh of relief when they reached the center square again.

    "Hau what's going on?" Elio finally managed to free his wrist from the other boy's surprisingly iron hard grip.

    "Did you see that guy Sun?!" His eyes went wide. "He's an outlaw!"

    "Outlaw?! The guy was wearing a bandanna."

    "Yeah! Don't all the outlaws wear something like that?"

    "Are you talking about like Team Skull?" Elio glanced back at the Pokémon center as if the masked man was going to walk out to their conversation. "Those guys are so noisy; you can hear them half a mile away! I'm going to tell you right now that guy is not one of them!"

    "I dunno brah. He didn't seem sketchy?"

    "The only thing I'm finding sketchy is you being sketchy."

    Hau gave him a blank stare. "What is that supposed to mean."

    "How am I supposed to know? I don't make the script." Elio sighed. "Aren't we gonna battle?"

    "Oh right." He put his hands behind his head and took one of the poke balls off his belt. "Having a battle right here in Paniola Town makes us feel like we're in some old-fashioned showdown! Awright Pikachu and team! How about we show this newbie what Alola's got!"

    I've already beaten you three times. Elio thought to himself. I wouldn't exactly be called a noob.

    "Anyway, Rotom, you gonna ref?"

    "Of courzze!" A rip of a backpack zipper and the animated device flew out to the center in between the best friends. "Aren't you two gonna do a typical showdown like in the wezztern movies?"

    "Ya mean like this?" Hau bent his knees slightly and spread his arms apart, flexing his fingers as he apprehensively began to walk laterally while continuing to face Elio. The dark haired boy mirrored his movements.

    "This town ain't big enough for the both of us!"

    "That'zz the zpirit!" Rotom waved its arms. "Thiz iz a three on three Pokémon battle between Elio Northztar and Hau Kealoha. The battle will be concluded when all three Pokémon on one trainerz' zide are incapable of further battling! Hau do you accept theze termzz?"

    "I do!"

    "Elio, do you accept theze termzz?"

    "Yes."

    "Then let the battle begin! Trainerzz zend out your Pokémon upon my command! Bzzt!"

    "Yer gonna have ta wait on that!" Hau said, keeping his arms in a ready stance. Just like in the usual western showdown; the two gunfighters would engage in a match of reflexes. Who would be the first to draw their revolver out of their holster and shoot the other?

    Of course, no guns were present in this duel and it was out of pure fun rather than the intent to hurt. Elio's hand drifted close to his first Pokémon choice. He had to keep it close to throw it out quick, but too early and he'd be disqualified.

    Rotom raised its hands into air, having the attention of both participants.

    As if it was an actual duel; Elio found his palms began to sweat and a feeling in his gut began to surface, but he wasn't able to tell if it was from nervousness or excitement.

    The red arms came down.

    Hau reacted just as fast as Elio. "Let's go Pikachu!" He took out a Poké Ball in his preferred throwing style, tossing it up in his right hand to cast it out.

    I gotta figure out a style on how to throw poke balls. Just as much as trainer customization there was from newly minted ones to the professionals; it even extended to how they threw the poke balls to release their Pokémon onto the battlezone.

    If he had to credit anyone in particular for a favorite; Elio was a big fan of Brendan Maple, the incumbent champion of the Hoenn region. His throwing action was a half toss, half shotput upwards. The action had just enough flair to it in order to entice the audience.

    It was then when the other boy noticed a familiar white band on his left arm as he threw Grimer out to meet Pikachu.

    "Hau, did you get a Z-Ring?"

    "Yup!" He held up his fist proudly. "My gramps thought I was good enough after all on his grand trial to take it!"

    "That's awfully nice of him!"

    "Yeah it is! Just remember, I'm still gonna beat you one of these days!"

    "You're welcome to try." Elio smirked before gesturing to Pikachu. "Grimer, let's start this out! Get close and bite it!"

    "Grime!" His sludge Pokémon began slithering over with fangs bared. On Hau's side; Pikachu tensed before nimbly jumping out of reach again.

    Wow. It's gotten fast.

    "You're gonna have to be faster than that if you want to hit Pikachu!" With a snap of his fingers; the mouse Pokémon charged its body with electricity before launching a jolt of it across the field. Grimer had been too slow to dodge the incoming attack.

    He had received some damage, but thankfully the blob's general resilience to attacks was proving to be useful. On the other side of the field; Elio saw Hau narrow his eyes as Pikachu landed in front, analyzing his opponent.

    What's your game plan Hau? If I suspect right, you're going to try a paralysis and electro ball combo. Sun knew right away that it was a deadly tandem for electric type of Pokémon. They were speedy enough as is and electro ball was a move that increased in power if the attacker was faster than its foe.

    Paralysis aside from confusion was his two least favorite statuses.

    Then we'll take that advantage away.

    Grimer retaliated with belching some greenish poison gas to blanket the field. Pikachu's reaction was merely to jump over its low hanging dense fog and unleashing another thundershock. This time around, Grimer's outcry was a little more strained and it seemed to have taken some toll on him.

    "Thunder wave!"

    There it is. Now that Hau had shown his hand, it was time for Elio to make his own move.

    "Stop attacking." He calmly ordered. "Use minimize to escape."

    Wordlessly complying, Grimer quickly shrunk himself down low to the ground to a fraction of his normal size. As he did, Pikachu unleashed another wave of electric energy, but this time it was much more faint and grew in size with its ringlike shape. Thankfully he came out unscathed.

    "Back on the offensive buddy!" Sun called out.

    "Grime!" He grew right back up to his normal size, greeting Pikachu when it unleashed another thundershock. Just as quickly, the jagged jolting strike caused him to shrink back down and regain his size one more to deliver a decisive bite right on its tail.

    "Pika!"

    "Thunder wave again!"

    Oh crap. It's too close to avoid it!

    Sun had to pull him out. "Grimer, return!"

    As the reddish beam captured the creature and pulled him back, Elio spun Torracat's Poké Ball just after Pikachu unleashed its attack.

    "Wow!" Hau's eyes went wide after seeing his different starter. "You evolved your litten!"

    "I sure did!"

    "Tor! Torracat!"

    "Well I can't wait to see what it's all about! Pikachu, electro ball!"

    "Get ready buddy."

    "Pi!" Pikachu launched himself into the air, forming a good-sized sphere of golden energy that crackled in its surroundings. With a swoop of its tail, it was launched, accelerating towards Torracat with amazing speed.

    His starter Pokémon used his more developed hind legs to propel himself out of the way. The electro ball slammed into the ground, kicking up a thick cloud of dirt. Torracat stopped short, opening his mouth and firing a single ember. Pikachu's cry from the other side told him that he had hit its mark.

    "That's it!" Elio cheered. "I knew you could do it!"

    "Tor!"

    On the other side; Hau was getting a little uneasy. "Pikachu, let's go defense!"

    You want to play that game Sun? So can we!

    "Light screen!"

    "Pi!" Just as the dust was beginning to settle back down, Elio saw Pikachu wave his hands. At the notion, a big familiar barrier formulated in between them, sparkling with an iridescent sheen in the bright sun.

    Torracat's next ember he shot was aimed right at Pikachu, however the light screen wall completely absorbed the fire across its smooth surface before dying out.

    Nice move Hau. Sun had to really hand it to him for the ingenious tactic. Light screen neutralizing all my special moves so that I have no choice but to move close and fight physical. But if I do that, I risk getting Torracat paralyzed with that static ability. I see you're playing into that.

    He had no choice. I have to take that risk.

    Torracat seemed to understand his trainer's thoughts and immediately dashed forward through, baring a fire fang. Hau was caught off guard as Pikachu let out a startled scream from the force of the bite.

    Please no static. Please no static.

    His luck seemed to hold out after disconnecting as the ability hadn't been triggered.

    Pikachu landed on the ground, breathing heavily, but still on its feet with a determined expression on its face.

    "I never would've thought you'd send out Torracat." Hau said. "You usually face Pikachu with Grimer."

    Elio grinned back. "Trying something new."

    Hau gestured forward, causing Pikachu to dash ahead. Right behind him, Torracat kept pace, firing off a couple of embers which were suppressed by the light screen barrier.

    After a few moments of them playing a dodging game of electro balls and fire fangs, Pikachu's luck finally ran out. His trainer had been banking on the fact that Pikachu's higher speed would give it the advantage over Grimer's defensive prowess. He was not expecting Elio to use Torracat so quickly and was figuring out that it wasn't going to be as slow as its previous Litten.

    The light screen is still up. "Torracat, finish it with fire fang and toss it down!"

    "Tor!" With a final burst of speed, the fire type leapt forward, overtaking a very surprised Pikachu. He cloaked his teeth in red hot fire and sunk them right into his side.

    "Pikaaa." Pikachu let out a weak moan as Torracat dropped his defeated opponent on the floor.

    "Pikachu izz incapable of battling! Torracat iz the winner. It izz a three on two matchup!" Rotom declared as the referee, waving his arms.

    "Yeah. Way to go buddy." Elio made a triumphant fist when he noticed that Torracat hadn't responded to his compliment.

    I guess I wasn't so lucky to avoid static after all.

    As a final send off for Pikachu, Torracat's newly contracted paralysis coated his skin in occasional flare ups of mini volts of electricity.

    "Pikachu, return." Hau sighed and gave off a sad smile while placing the ball back on his belt. "I…I thought that he would be able to battle well."

    Even though they were rivals of sorts; Elio immediately felt a pang of guilt for winning so handily. He knew that Hau really had a lot of fun battling and it crushed him just slightly inside for ruining that fun by him continuing to crush his rival. They were supposed to be best friends.

    Ohana first. Rivals second.

    "Hau," Elio started, trying to find a way to encourage his friend. "Pikachu did really good."

    "Yeah he did. Thanks brah." Even though the compliment had been accepted, he still felt that the sting was still nagging at Hau's side. "Just gotta keep on going huh?"

    He fingered a second Poké Ball and washed away his dour mood with another contagious grin. "Okay, let's do this Eevee!"

    The device split open, materializing the small brown creature in a flash of morphed light. Eevee gave out a yawn that even Elio had to admit was adorable before crouching down in a battle stance to face Torracat.

    You're not facing this thing. I need you for Rowlet.

    "Torracat return!" Hau had a look of curiosity on his face as Sun recalled his Pokémon and sent Grimer back out.

    As the blob of sludge emerged from his resting place, Hau was already in command of Eevee, making it dash forward in a quick attack.

    Grimer reacted with a pound, however Eevee had quickly anticipated this and smartly jumped out of the way.

    "Eevee, sand-attack!"

    "Ee!" The Pokémon stopped and flung its paw outwards, scraping the ground as he hurled a clump of dirt right into Elio's Pokémon's eyes.

    "Grime!" He angrily scratched his face in frustration.

    "Snap out of it buddy." Elio remained a bit calm and hoped maybe he could draw Eevee in to where he could slow it down just enough.

    At his trainer's urging; Grimer shrunk himself back down as Eevee dashed forward for another quick attack. However, he had been so small that it was easy to miss. His evolution Pokémon followed up with a bite that was just as easily avoided. Grimer grew right back up to his original size, opening his own maw. The poison fang clamped down on Eevee, causing it to let out a rather cutesy cry of pain.

    "Eevee no!"

    As he disconnected, allowing the brown fox to jump away, it shivered from some unknown substance. A thin oily liquid was coating its body, bubbling noxiously.

    Good job buddy! You poisoned it!

    The look of grim determination gave away that Hau and Eevee weren't going to be beat again without something to say about it. He closed again in a quick attack.

    Grimer quickly shrunk right back down to avoid it.

    "Just as we planned!" Hau made a fist. "Eevee, swift!"

    "Eevee!" It jumped up in the air, rotating around to face his downsized opponent. Opening its mouth; it sprayed a flurry of fast moving star projectiles that descended at an alarming rate.

    Grimer's minimized body seemed to have zero benefits since the swift attack curved like a mind of its own. The attack battered him until a flash of light burst forth, producing a thick amount of smoke that curled into the air.

    "Grimer izz incapable of battling!" Rotom declared. "Eevee izz the winner! The match izz now a two on two!"

    A sudden round of applause erupted from all around them with a few chorus of whistles and shouts.

    "Huh?" Elio and Hau finally had taken a glance around, now noticing that there was quite a crowd being drawn to the battle being staged in the center.

    He laughed at it. They had been so engaged in the fight that neither had paid much attention to all the bystanders. Sure Elio had seen a couple, but didn't expect a crowd of a couple dozen. Some of them had their phones out and likely recording the match.

    Hmm. Elio thought to himself. Hau actually outplayed me on that one.

    "Ztay focuzzed trainerzz! Bzzt! Elio! Zwift izz a move that can always hit your foe! Bzzt!"

    "See?" Hau gestured to everyone around them and unaware of Rotom's comments. "Look at all these people recording us! This is why you need to get an FP account!"

    "FP?"

    "Yeah, Festival Plaza! It's a huge social trainers website where they post battle tactics, help with abilities, moves and type matchups! You can even get advice from other trainers and follow other people!"

    "It sounds interesting!"

    "Yeah it does! My gramps has one and he helped me set mine up too! We can do it later if you want!"

    "Maybe after our battle." Elio said. "Grimer, return." He held the Poké Ball close to him. "Thanks a lot friend for your hard work. Now take a break. You've earned it."

    He made his decision on the next contestant. "Okay, Torracat, let's go!"

    "Tor!" The fire cat's bell at his throat ignited in a yellow hot blaze.

    "Eevee, you need to stay strong." Hau assured his new Pokémon. "Elio's Torracat is his strongest Pokémon!"

    "Eevee!"

    With a growl that came out more as a low sounding meow; Torracat dashed forward, although the paralysis contracted by Pikachu's static earlier erased the aghast expression across Eevee's face. He jumped aside right on time to avoid the cat's snapping fire fang. Dashing aside, it retaliated with a quick attack to his rear and easily moved out of the way when he tried to bite back.

    Torracat shot an ember, which was countered by Eevee's swift. The two attacks collided, causing an explosion and rush of air to push aggressively against the trainers, their Pokémon and all the bystanders.

    Neither was giving up.

    Eevee shuddered again from the poison that ate away at it. Elio saw a bit of worry cross Hau's features and he knew that he just had to outlast it in order to put him down to Rowlet. Even though Torracat and Rufflet had an advantage over Hau's starter Pokémon, it still wouldn't be easy since it was his strongest.

    "Can you try using refresh?"

    What's refresh?

    "Ee! Vee!" Eevee stood in front of Hau and began to glow white, causing everyone to cover their eyes from its harshness. For just a couple of moments, Elio thought he was evolving, but that was put aside when it had faded back into a bearable state. There was now zero evidence of any poison eating away at his health. It was as if the refresh move had actually used Elio's refresh kit to automatically heal the status.

    Oh come on! How come Torracat doesn't have a move like that?!

    "That won't matter!" Elio pointed. "We're still going to win right?"

    "Tor…" His starter weakly replied. The boy quickly remembered that he was still paralyzed.

    A smile etched itself across Hau's mouth as he saw the opportunity to take Torracat down. Eevee followed his trainers' instructions, firing off an unavoidable swift. Even though he was unable to dodge it; Torracat managed to struggle briefly though the paralysis, running to meet Eevee as they both clashed with a nasty bite attack. Hau's side was a little less successful, as Elio's larger Pokémon had the flexibility to chew down Eevee's back while remaining out of the jaws. Tiny paws flailed before he suddenly broke free and tackled his foe down. The bite was on Torracat's leg, causing him to yell angrily.

    "You're not going to let him do that to you right?!" Elio yelled. "You're stronger than that!"

    His words seemed to motivate the fire type as he rolled up, shaking off the smaller Eevee. As it tumbled to the middle of the field, he had gone after it, readying a fire fang.

    "Eevee, swift!"

    "Eevee." He was weakly stirring after being a bit jarred from the toss Torracat had done to throw it. The refresh had cured its poisoning, but it hadn't given it anymore strength.

    Even with the paralysis working against him; Torracat's fire fang quickly finished the normal type off.

    Again, Elio felt another bit of bittersweet remorse when everyone heard the cry of pain. Eevee was lying on its back, fur singed in some areas although it didn't look to be burned. But the other wounds from the bites it had traded with Torracat looked more serious.

    "Eevee izz incapable of battling! Bzzt!" Rotom waved his "arm" towards Elio's side. "The winner izz Torracat! The battle izz now a two on one!"

    Hau sighed, but still kept the grin. "Eevee. Return." He recalled it back to its Poké Ball. "You were awesome out there buddy! Don't you worry! We'll get stronger in no time!" Looking back over at Sun, he put his hands behind his head again. "I gotta admit brah, you've definitely gotten a lot stronger too! But so have we! C'mon out Rowlet!"

    With a flick of his wrist, Rowlet appeared in a flash of light, flapping his wings to land in front of his trainer.

    "Rowlet! Row!" He cooed eagerly before his entire body began to pulsate. Spreading his wings, the tiny grass quill Pokémon opened its beak, cloaking itself in a harsh light that even caused their trainers to look away.

    It was hard to tell what was happening, but Elio knew exactly what it was. Rowlet's form began to morph into something larger, growing longer legs and spreading its new wings that had now more than doubled in length. The remainder of his body had increased in size, forming a thin crescent plumage on its right side.

    "Dartrixxx!" The new Pokémon screeched loudly as the last of its evolving light faded away.

    "Woweee! You evolved into Dartrix!" Hau jumped up and down. "We did it brah!"

    "Referee Rotom going offline becauzzze a new Pokémon hazz been detected! Bzzt!" He flipped screens to a static image display of the evolved Rowlet. "Dartrix. Blade quill Pokémon. It is the evolved form of Rowlet. Dartrix are prissy Pokémon, spending long hours to groom and maintain a pristine appearance. With a flick of its wings, it can send razor sharp quills at its foes, bending them to even hit targets behind other objects. Dartrix is a grass and flying type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "All right Dartrix!" Hau cheered again. "Let's show them what you can do!"

    On the other side, Elio cupped his hands to his mouth. "Get your game face on Torracat! We may still have a type advantage, but we haven't seen a Dartrix before! Expect anything to happen!"

    Nodding back to his trainer, Torracat appeared to test the waters by firing off an ember. With movements that seemed swift and graceful, the larger bird smoothly darted out of the way, retaliating by a razor leaf attack, swinging its wing and launching it at a rapid speed.

    Torracat's paralysis had made itself known again when it prevented him from moving to dodge the incoming razor sharp projectiles that came at him like thrown knives.

    He let out a yelp of pain as they pelted his body, some clipping parts of his fur in an orange poof and some of the more ramrod leaves embedded themselves in his side. With a growl, he snagged them with his teeth, tearing it out as best he could.

    The fire type closed in readying a fire fang and again, Dartrix nimbly avoided the charge while spinning and unveiling its wing again with another wave of razor leafs.

    That Dartrix is fast!

    "Torracat be patient." Elio reminded him, clenching a fist as he scrambled in his head to figure out a solution. "You'll get your chance!"

    Hau's Pokémon spread its wings out again and flung them forward, firing off a stream of leaves again in a leafage attack. In response, Torracat opened his mouth and got an ember off. The tiny ball of flame intercepted the first of the leaves, easily catching them aflame and neutralizing all the following ones that were quickly burned up in dark smoke.

    At his normal speed; Elio's own starter would've been able to keep up with Hau's speedy Dartrix. But with the paralysis severely hindering his efforts, it was just not possible. The owl was too fast, avoiding Torracat every time he tried to close in for a physical strike. The ranged ember wasn't that effective either. Dartrix easily flew out of its way, retaliating with a leafage attack. Even though the fire type resisted all the grass attacks, Elio knew that his own Pokémon would get worn down eventually by the numbers.

    Paralysis is coming up alongside confusion as my least favorite status condition right now.

    Torracat had sensed his trainer's frustration, but continued to struggle despite its crippling effects. In a lucky break for him; he had lunged when Dartrix had flown too close in a bite, causing the avian to quickly change its flight course directly upward. Torracat landed on his back facing the sky and shot up a single ember that was failed to be countered. Dartrix screeched loudly with surprise from the hit and he fell to the ground, spreading out his smoldering damaged wings just in time to arrest his sharp fall.

    Elio had already gone with another bite to follow up and his own Pokémon took as best advantage it could, rushing right to where it was bound to land in order to deliver the toothy blow.

    "Dartrix peck!" Hau cried out, desperation etching into his tone. The joyous look on his face was replaced by nervousness as the thought of losing again was creeping into his mind. He didn't mind it though as being in this intense close battle was all part of the thrill.

    "Darr!" The owl's beak glowed white and he thrust his head out right to meet Torracat, jabbing it sharply into Torracat's forehead. Elio saw a trickle of blood from where it had struck.

    "No!"

    "Okay Dartrix!" Hau exclaimed, flashing his Z-Ring while it returned to his front. "Show them the potential in your Z-Power! Using all of our strength, endurance and courage!"

    The device flashed a brilliant yellow as he made the signature "X" pose, opening out both arms and crossing them back together; his left hand parallel to his forehead and his right just above the stomach.

    Hau felt an amazing amount of power begin to form all throughout his posed body, fed by the Z-Ring that branched it out in arcs before flowing right to Dartrix. He flared up in a powerful aura and took one step ahead with one of its talons.

    "Go Dartrix!" Hau yelled fiercely, now cranked up by the increase from the Z-Power. "Use tackle and into BREAKNECK BLITZ!"

    "Darrrr!" With a flash, it exploded forward accelerating even faster along its route as it closed the distance to Torracat, lashing outwards with its twin sharp talons.

    "Tor." Elio's Pokémon weakly groaned, gritting its teeth to try and escape, however the paralysis had worn it down to the point of immobility.

    Torracat's a sitting ducklett.

    Dartrix's extended claws slammed into him center mass with the extreme force of a truck. The blow made a loud wet smack and Elio's heart nearly stopped when he saw Torracat crashing into the side of a nearby building deck with enough speed to cause a spiderweb of cracks in the foundation.

    "Tor…" He moaned weakly before lapsing into unconsciousness. Sun's face fell when the enormous cloud of dust began to settle, showing his starter Pokémon battered and bruised, lying limply against the broken concrete.

    "Torracat izz unable to continue battling! Bzzt! Dartrix izz the winner! The battle izz now a one on one! Bzzt!"

    Elio's breathing increased as he sprinted right out to his Pokémon's side and dropped to his knees.

    "Torracat?" The trainer got a pained meow in response as the fire-type stirred, avoiding his gaze in shame from losing while having.

    "Hey," He assured him with a thin smile. "Don't worry so much about it. You did awesome out there."

    "Tor…" Torracat said, purring softly to tell his trainer he wasn't upset at him. "Torracat."

    Elio pulled out his Poké Ball. "Return. Take a nice rest and I'll have you looked at once we're done."

    He stood up and returned back to his side, now aware of the gathering crowd all had their eyes on him.

    "I'm sorry." Hau said, expression turning slightly serious and concerned. "I hope Torracat is okay."

    "He will be." Elio confirmed, reaching for his final Pokémon. "Let's get our Pokémon looked at once we're done." When the other boy gave a nod in response, Rufflet was thrown out, letting out a war cry before settling right on the ground and warily eyeing Dartrix opposite him.

    "Okay then." Hau pointed at Rufflet. "Dartrix, open this up with leafage!"

    "Darr!" He jumped up, spinning around to unleash a flurry of glowing leaves.

    Elio didn't have to issue a command as Rufflet adjusted his flight once taking off to avoid the streams harmlessly passing by. As it finished the attack; the eaglet dove forward, beak glowing to deliver a well-placed peck right into Dartrix's chest. The owl let out a terrified screech and although it was relatively unharmed, glared at Elio's bird as if it had violated its dignity.

    "Don't let it do that to you buddy!" Hau yelled. "Keep your guard up!"

    "Dar!"

    "Ruff!"

    Elio went on the offensive again, having Rufflet attack with a series of jabbing pecks. It kept Hau from firing off the fast moving leafages and razor leafs and instead hitting him back with a couple of pecks. While it remained an effective option, his hidden ability of hustle caused him to miss a couple of wing attacks, giving Dartrix an opportunity for its more powerful razor leaf attack.

    Sun noticed that Dartrix was getting quicker, twisting out of the way from a divebombing Rufflet and at the same time, unleashing three or four razor leaf quills that shot out at an alarming speed.

    Hold up, I've got an idea.

    "Rufflet, use fury attack!"

    His bird cawed and sped down towards Dartrix, closing up the distance between the two of them.

    "Get ready!" Hau yelled from the other side. As Rufflet was a second from hitting, the owl spun out of the way, opening its wing to fire more quills in a razor leaf.

    Now it's exposed!

    "Rufflet, go! Peck it now!"

    "Rufflet!" He screeched, beating his wings once to change direction. There was no way to avoid anything now.

    Dartrix's flight stopped and he crashed to the ground.

    "Now's our chance!" Elio made a fist, not taking his eyes off the wounded foe. "Wing attack Dartrix before he has a chance!"

    "Rufff!" He screeched, swooping right down with two glowing wings and slashing right past.

    "Dartrix!" Hau cried out as his own starter Pokémon jerked abruptly from the blow. As Rufflet landed in front of Elio awaiting his next task; his rival across the field stared mouth agape as the blade quill Pokémon stopped moving and fell onto its side.

    "Dartrix izz incapable of battling further!" Rotom waved an arm. "The winner izz Rufflet! And the Elio winzzz the match!"

    The crowd surrounding them broke out into a big round of applause and a couple of high pitched whistles. Both boys were on the receiving end of a bunch of congratulatory shouts.

    Hau chuckled to himself as he returned Dartrix. "Aww man. You're just too good man!" He glanced back at the Poké Ball. "Thanks pal. You were amazing out there."

    Both boys met in the center to shake hands, before slapping their hands together and pulling one another close in a "brah" hug that was closed out by their ritualistic slap on the back.

    "Woweee! Oh man brah, that was some kinda battle! And all our Pokémon looked like they had a blast too! I know mine did!"

    Wait a second Hau, you know you lost right? Elio thought to himself. You haven't won a single battle against me and you're not even angry?

    I wonder what Lillie's up to.

    "Um yeah." He said absentmindedly as Hau was talking about something else. "It was a pretty amazing feeling."

    A familiar smirk came across his features at the reply.

    "Heh. I bet you would say that if Lillie was in your arms."

    What?

    "H-Hau? What are you talking about?" For some reason, Elio felt his face heat up and reddened cheeks.

    "I asked if you noticed how the Totem Pokémon we faced in Verdant Cavern had that surrounded power aura."

    "Yeah I know."

    "Really?" Hau's smirk returned. "Then why would you say it's a good feeling? I mean, battling is awesome as always, but that's hardly an answer I'd expect out of you. After all, you do get that kind of look when you're around Lillie or you're thinking about her."

    "Oh."

    "I thought we were going to go on our island challenge. I get Lillie is our friend and all, but we have to focus right?"

    "Well…um yeah."

    Hau shrugged. "It doesn't matter to me what you want to do. You're still free to go back to Heahea City and see what she's up to. Just remember, I'm gonna win all the trials and beat you one day!"

    As much as I want to go and see Lillie again; Hau's right. I need to keep getting stronger through the island challenge if I am to stay ahead of the game.

    "I guess Lillie can wait." Elio said a little longingly. "We still haven't tackled the first one yet though. But I think with this battle, we'll be able to take it on easily! I'm sure of it!" He glanced back up at the Pokémon center. "Anyway, I really don't know how to say this but, I'm sorry you lost again."

    Wow…like that wasn't cringe worthy.

    To his surprise…or not, Hau gave a simple shrug and another toothy smile. "Well hey; you know what? Pokémon battles are like that! Sometimes you're going to easily win. Sometimes you'll lose. But you're only a real loser if you don't have fun while you're at it!"

    Elio had to enjoy that part of Hau's rather simple logic. You know what? I wish I could share that kind of optimism in the face of losing. There's always going to be someone better.

    Hau was right. Elio had always been quite a competitor since he was young, so it really meant a lot to him about winning. At the same time though; he had lost a handful of battles with other trainers. Sun was never a big fan of losing, but patience and discipline through being competitive in sports and as a trainer had taught him to be gracious or humble, even if he didn't top the scoreboard.

    I should be happy when I win. So why do I feel bad whenever I beat him. He's supposed to be my rival right? It's almost like every time I win against him, he's falling farther behind and don't want my friend to keep losing.

    Maybe it was because Elio happened to pick Litten, who had the type advantage over Rowlet. It wasn't uncommon for childhood friends as newcoming trainers to pick starter Pokémon in one another's company. Rivalries would be born after whomever made the second choice would take the starter that had a type advantage over their friends'.

    I had no idea Hau had a Rowlet when I chose Litten. If we were picking our starters together, would I have made my choice knowing his? Would I purposely pick the Pokémon that has a type advantage over Hau just so I can have a foothold every time we battle?

    Would he do the same?

    "You're not thinking of Lillie again are you?" Hau snapped his fingers right in front of Elio's face. Blinking his eyes, he glanced back at the tan skinned boy who was staring at him inquisitively. "Anyway now that I have your attention after mentioning your crush, I'm heading off to Brooklet Hill after a quick stop in the Pokémon center! Are you gonna come?"

    Elio glanced up at the sky. It was nearing the evening time. "Well don't you think that we should take a break? I mean, if I'm reading the map on Rotom right; Brooklet Hill's all the way on the northwest side of the mountains." At the mention of Haleakala, they both glanced up at its tall peak. "It's going to take us at least two hours to get there."

    "I know." Hau said. "But still! I can't wait to take on the next trial! My gramps gave me the location of all the Pokémon centers here in Alola! I'm pretty confident I can do it or at least stop at a rest area by one of the ranches!"

    "It's your call buddy. I'm going to stop probably somewhere around there and see if there's a spot to crash for the night. If not, then I better book myself a room at the center here."

    "Sweet!" Hau glanced around at the town. "Maybe there's a malasada shop around here."

    "I don't know. To be honest, I am kind of hungry."

    "What are you in the mood for?"

    "Food."

    "You're funny."

    "I try."

    Hau cupped a hand to his chin. "I know. Go and see if there's spam musubi! It's a quick easy meal that's really tasty!"

    "Spam?" Elio asked. "You mean like the stupid emails?"

    "No silly! Spam's a super delicious food!" Hau laughed as he walked away, towards the Pokémon center. "See ya later brah!"

    The other boy could only shake his head as his energetic best friend took off into the trainers' most visited building.

    Wait, wasn't that guy that Hau called a thief or something still inside?

    "Ruff! Rockruff!"

    Elio's thoughts had been cut off and spun around in time to see a big brown blur zipping right up to his side.

    It's a rockruff!

    "Woah there! Bzzzt!" Rotom-Dex flew out to document it bounding right to the boy's legs, sniffing them curiously. "Be careful! Elio can only have one cool Pokémon partner at a time! Bzzt! And right now, that partner izzz me!"

    "Rotom you don't even battle." Elio rolled his eyes. "Go and fire off a thundershock or something and then we'll talk about being best pals."

    "You what?!" Rotom gasped, placing one of its stubby red arms to its "mouth" in surprise. "I thought we were friendzz! You know what? Zince I'm a nice Rotom and all, I'll let that one zlide! You've got a new Pokémon detected! But zince zomeone had forgotten to look for itz entry in the databaze, I'll go ahead and fill ya in brah!"

    He shuffled to a static image of the rockruff. "Rockruff. Puppy Pokémon. Rockruff is a very social Pokémon and it greets others of its kind by rubbing the stones on its neck together. It is known for its tenacity and unquestionable loyalty to its trainers. Rockruff is a rock type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Hey kid. Alola."

    Elio spun around right to find the guy in question running up to his side as a large canine Pokémon, flanked by two others approached the rockruff checking out the newcomer. Once again, the hat, elongated clothes, sunglasses and bandanna scarf covering much of his face gave off a very unwelcoming vibe that Sun didn't like at all. It was like something from Team Skull.

    "Uh hi. Sorry…Alola." Hau's accusations of this guy being shady immediately surfaced at the back of his mind.

    He had been caught off guard once again when the man reached up to remove his bandanna, revealing a handsome face with stubble and slightly weathered features. Bright blue eyes sparkled with warmth and he had whitened teeth that broke out into a quick smile.

    "Ahm sorry about Rockruff there." The man started, having a strange accent that sounded like he had some strange twang. "He loves to watch all the trainers who come in and battle in those western showdowns and it gets him all excited."

    A lower huff brought them out of the conversation as the large canine wolfish Pokémon slowly trotted forward, lowering its snout down and giving the pup a gentle sniff. It had white and brown fur with longer ears and snout with a long mane that covered its body in tufts of fur.

    "It's alright bud." The cowboy assured his Pokémon. "Rockruff was just wantin' to see the new trainer in town." He glanced back up. "Yer a trial goer right?"

    "Yeah." With his nerves at ease, Elio found the man's persona to be quite interesting. Maybe even charming to a point.

    "Well Ah gotta say that it's always a pleasure to see new trainers comin' through here." He stuck a hand out. It was calloused from all the labor this person did every day. "Ahm Dallas. Last name's Kahananui."

    "Elio Northstar. Although I've been called Sun. Either one works for me."

    "Elio huh?" Dallas repeated. "That's a nice name."

    "And I'm Rotom! Bzzt! Elio'z truzty partner! Howdy!"

    "Well howdy alola back to you! Ah've never heard of a talkin' Pokédex before!"

    "They do exizzt! By the way Elio, I've detected a new Pokémon too! Bzzt! I'm getting lucky today!" He shuffled to an image of the wolf. "Lycanroc. Wolf Pokémon. Lycanroc can appear in multiple different forms depending on the time of day that it had happened to evolve. The midday form here prefers to hunt alone to avoid unnecessary conflict. In combat, it prefers to use quick movements to confound foes and strikes with the sharp rocks that line its mane. The midday Lycanroc is the only Pokémon able to learn the move accelerock, which allows it to attack at a very fast speed. Lycanroc is a rock type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "And you have two new Pokémon too! Bzzt!" Rotom activated his camera and began to record footage. "Thizz meanzz you're gonna fill up my dex really fazzzt! Bzzt!"

    He regarded the second doglike Pokémon, which had dark orange fur and jagged black stripes. Along its chest was a larger mass of cream color and it sat on its hind legs, looking up regarding Dallas and his lycanroc in an endearing fashion.

    "Growlithe. Puppy Pokémon. Growlithe are incredibly loyal to their trainers and they generally refuse to move unless given direct orders by their trainers. While this Pokémon is known for being very friendly, it will threateningly bark and snap at anyone who approaches its trainer or territory with ill intentions in mind. Growlithe is a fire type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    Rotom examined the second one. Its fur was a tad bit longer than the growlithe's but it had a mixture of brown, cream and dark colors on its back. "Herdier. Loyal dog Pokémon. Herdier is the evolved form of Lillipup. The dark fur on its back is tedious and costly to groom, however if cared for properly; it is very bristly and can help in shrugging off glancing attacks that it receives. Although this Pokémon faithfully follows its trainers' instructions, it will refuse outright to obey orders from anyone it doesn't respect. Herdier is a normal type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Ya sure know yer stuff Rotom." Dallas said. "As for you kid, yer sure lucky to have someone so informative for stuff like that. Ah wish ah had taken the initiative and gone on the island challenge when ah had a chance." The lycanroc affectionately nuzzled the paniolo's side. "But things have an interestin' way of makin' one's path. So my new island challenge is all takin' care of Kahananui Ranch, but since it's so much bigger than the other ranches nearby, we're all collectively called Paniola Ranch. Ain't that right Troy?"

    Lycanroc gave a huff of approval.

    "That's my main partner Troy." He gestured to the growlithe. "Emmitt." Then to the herdier. "Michael."

    "Totally cowboy names." Elio said, grinning lopsidedly.

    "You got it."

    "Well it was nice meeting you Dallas."

    "Likewise." He extended a hand. "Well actually, I've got a favor to ask of you. You're a trainer, so I think you might be some help, especially if you're explorin' Alola too. Your accent sounds Kantoan."

    Sun nodded. "Yeah. I'm um from Cerulean City."

    "Ahve always wanted to visit there. Heard it's beautiful. Anyways, if you could give me a hand down at my ranch, I'd love to have you over for dinner or something. It seems that Rockruff there has taken quite a liking to you."

    Elio wasn't sure what to make of this stranger who was offputting to Hau a half hour ago now inviting him over to his house to work and eat. But Dallas was right, as the little brown puppy continued to nudge the boy's shin, clamoring for his attention. He was indulged by scratches on the head and he opened his mouth to let a long pink tongue hang partially out of his mouth and pant.

    Well I can't cook and I guess I'll have to hold off Hau's spam thingy for another time. So I guess I'll take him up. I still want to look around though.

    "Well sure. But can you wait? I still want to have a look around and sightsee."

    To his surprise, Dallas gave a nod almost instantly. "Well sure! Ya gotta be sure to see all of what Alola has for the island challenge! If you do decide to take me up; I could use another hand around the ranch. It's straight ahead down the road and to the right. Ya can't miss it."

    "I'll be sure to stop by." Elio said. "More than happy to help."

    "Mahalo cousin." He waved his hands at the four canine Pokémon accompanying him. "Let's get headin' back. There's a lotta work to do!"

    Emmitt and Michael were quick to follow, but the rockruff had stuck firmly by Elio's side, sniffing even more and yipping happily. Only by the sharp bark of Troy did the little pup begin to trail them, but not before he cast a longing glance back in the boy's direction.

    With the promise of a new friend and possibly a meal for the evening, Elio knew that he was going to head down to meet up with Dallas later that day. Even with that in mind, he was going to continue exploring around. People in Paniola were just as friendly as the rest of Alola, throwing their greetings as normal, but their much different wear that was suited to being outside all the time told him that the residents here seldom spent time inside in the air conditioning.

    There was a small clothing store off to the west side of the main square, but instead of the fashion items he was used to in a normal store; he got long racks of shirts of all kinds, long sleeved to short…all covered in the reddish dirt similar to that found out on the roads.

    "Made with one hundred percent Alolan red dirt." He raised an eyebrow in amusement while continuing to rifle through the different designs. A lot of them had some interesting Alolan symbols while others had funny little sayings.

    What exactly is the point of having dirt in a shirt? You know what? I'm gonna buy one.

    He stopped at one of them with a saying written out in black on its front.

    "Winners wear dirt…losers eat it."

    I like it. Should I get one for Mom?

    He decided on that one for her, finding her size and tucking it under his arm. A couple shuffles later and he found one his size; it was one with a large Alolan border around ten different rules that he couldn't stop a snicker from thinking about.

    Rule #1: Never judge a day by the weather

    Rule #2: The best things in life aren't things

    Rule #3: Tell the truth. You'll have less to remember

    Rule #4: If you speak softly, wear a loud red dirt shirt

    Rule #5: Loosen up...an unaimed arrow never misses

    Rule #6: The man who dies with the most toys...will still die

    Rule #7: Aging is relative. Because when you're over the hill, you pick up speed

    Rule #8: There are two ways to get rich. You can either make more...or require less

    Rule #9: What you look like doesn't matter. Beauty is internal

    Rule #10: No rain means no rainbows

    That's awesome. I'm totally taking the rules of an Alolan dirt shirt. They're to live by. Sun forked over the appropriate money after picking it out at the register and stuffed his new apparel into his backpack.

    Let's go and see what our friend Dallas needs help with.

    It was too good to resist with the nicknames and all. Kind of fit. Speaking of which; I'll be having each of Elio's Pokémon nicknamed once they reach their final evolution. I wanted to fit a couple other things in here, but I'll leave it off for next time.

    Translations:

    • Pomaikaʻi i ke kulanakauhale Paniola - Welcome to Paniola Town
    • Paniolo - Cowboy
    Red Dirt shirts are another iconic tourist item from Hawaii. I have two of them and both of the ones Elio buys are based off the ones I got last time while in Maui.

    As always, a big mahalo for reading and reviewing. You give my writing purpose. See you guys next time.

    Elio and Lillie ship for life! :D
    Brav
     
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  11. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Crown of ValorPoké Ball ★
    I am now hyper excited for Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon. The most recent trailer squashed my belief that it was just a slightly redone Sun & Moon. It looks WAY different.

    This one has a tidbit on...Pokémon breeding. I have no idea if this is a good way to introduce it into the story or how it works, but chances are that it'll be mentioned only a couple of times, so I'm not particularly worried.

    It will either be like; Oh...that's okay/pretty good. Or it will blow up in my face like an exploding cigar.

    Alright...enjoy the chapter everyone. On a separate note, I'm finally caught up with the publication one ongoing for fanfiction.net. Means that both sites will be getting an update as the next chapter is nearly ready to be sent out the door, but you'll probably be missing my weekly updates now that I'm on pace with my starting point.

    It's always sooo cute when Elio says that he loves getting letters from me! Not only are they fun to read, but I do really love writing back to him!

    Dear Elio,

    Paniola Town looks like a place I'd love to go see! I watched the Lone Ranger series too when I was younger and could totally see you in that outfit, hat and slinging your revolver like a maverick gunslinger! All you'd need is a mudsdale or rapidash at your side and a lovely lass for you to carry and ride into the sunset!

    Anyway; the Tide Song Hotel is wayyy bigger than I thought! All these cool long hallways with elegant art, so many restaurants from regular bars to a place that serves five star food! Did you know that you can order this cool thing called room service? You basically call someone, asking for it; say what you want and then they bring it right up to your room! I don't even have to go away from my book and it was wheeled in on a fancy cloth cart!

    The pools are super nice and cool. Sometimes I'll go for a swim when Nebby is asleep, but I'm always afraid it might panic when it finds out I'm not there and escape! Hahaha! So I try and wait until it sleeps in the evening before I go swimming and do exploring around the city. The two Kalosians Sina and Dexio usually come around with me to different places and it's nice to have more friends who look out for you right? I was very surprised when they were talking about their encounter with a promising young trainer but I couldn't believe it was you! Elio, you make impressions wherever you go huh?!

    I hope things are going well with your journey. Professor Kukui's research is taking him over to the central part of the island and I might accompany him over there tomorrow or something. I have no idea how long we're going to stay there, but I'm seriously hoping you could be done with your trial so that we can meet up!

    Please be careful. I miss you.

    Sincerely,

    Lillie

    Dear Lillie,

    So my new cowboy friend Dallas Kahananui's family owns the biggest ranch in central Akala and saying its big size is an understatement! It's apparently the same size as like thirty football fields! The Kahananui family is apparently a long line of generation ranchers that have been on Akala since pretty much the beginning of time!

    Anyway, Dallas' family ranch is so big compared to the others, that they have a whole bunch of staff that they need to keep the place running! There's a lot of livestock they take care of here and it's for various purposes from food sources to becoming ride Pokémon!

    There's a lot of college people here too. They do a lot of field work with students from Melemele State University and I happened to be there when a class was going on. There are lots of things to be learned from the science of Pokémon caregiving and I never knew stuff like this took so much time and work, but all of them were very enthusiastic about their opportunities and eager to listen. Now if some of my less than motivated classmates back in Kanto had this kind of drive…

    You know, their school colors of dark gray and gold really remind me of my hometown Poliwraths and 'Canes even though they're blue instead! But seriously…who thought it was a good idea to make their mascot as "Rainbow Warriors"? Not only do the colors not even match for a rainbow; that's pretty much saying a tyranitar is cuddly!

    Anyway, the Kahananui family does have parts of their land open for trial-going trainers to temporarily leave their Pokémon on the premises. What's neat is that the student volunteers will get a lot of experience in working with all these different species while they get nurtured! And sometimes you can get Pokémon offspring too! I declined the "talk" and all the students snickering about it when I first went in. College people are so mature.

    I'm glad the Tide Song Hotel is treating you right like a proper lady! Will you still be there when I'm done? I am so down for sleeping all day and then having someone bring me food! It must be the life! Enjoy yourself! I have to admit that getting letters from you while I'm gone is awesome!

    I miss you.

    Sincerely,

    Elio

    The day was in the mid-afternoon when Elio exited the Pokémon center. He was relieved to hear that the injuries suffered on his team had been quickly healed by the special machine constantly running and they were ready for their next battle.

    With his Pokémon secure and revitalized; Elio set out to explore the west side of Paniola Town, although much of it was wooden, two story houses lining either side of the dirt road. Each one looked almost the same; two windows on the upper and lower floors each, a single door that led inside, flanked by a pair of lights. An oblique angled slate roof covered the deck, sheltering it from when the rain downpoured onto the streets. During those times, Elio learned from one of the families that some Pokémon that didn't have any form of shelter would often come and lie down on the decks until the rain subsided. Families on occasion brought them some food, which really surprised him. If there were rattata or raticate found outside the porch, usually an exterminator would be called to either drive them out or kill them on the spot.

    The Iokua family also lived in Paniola Town, having their own smaller ranch in their backyard and they had introduced themselves to him as he was passing by. According to them; their son was one of the three trial captains on Akala Island. Elio pried further, but it seemed that they didn't want to disclose anything to him since being a surprise and adapting quickly were part of the island challenge's main strengths.

    As the Mister Iokua and his wife were continuing to dust the porch with their young daughter; Elio was approached by a Pokémon that radiated a considerable amount of warmth. In the Alolan heat, it was an unwelcome addition, but he figured that it was a good natural way to heat up someone's house when the temperatures got cooler.

    Does it even get cold in Alola at all?

    Turning around, he saw a blazing red, orange and yellow bipedal Pokémon by his side. The edges of its skin shimmered with incredible hotness as a few fingers of yellow flames licked away from its body. A long slender tail had a slight bit of fanning fire clinging to it, similar to a charmander. It had large two toed feet and a mouth that reminded him of a bill.

    "Mag…magmar."

    "A magmar." Elio muttered.

    "New Pokémon detected! Bzzt!" Rotom buzzed, opening the flap on Sun's backpack. "Magmar. Spitfire Pokémon. It is the evolved form of magby. A tired magmar will nonchalantly jump into the mouth of a volcano to soak its body in magma to ease its weariness. When it is angered; it will refuse to stop attacking until it has incinerated its foe into fine ash. Magmar is a fire type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Oh don't mind Magmar there." Mister Iokua said. "He likes to greet visitors warmly…if you know what I mean."

    "Yeah I do." Elio almost had to stagger back from the sheer amount of heat waves that were emitted by this Pokémon. "How do you guys stand that?"

    "Oh he's more than capable of controlling the output. If he's used to you, then his body can be just slightly warm. If you want to pet him or something, make sure you avoid the head or outer extremities.

    "Mag." Magmar cried again.

    Elio glanced over to see the Pokémon reach…well deep into its own armpit. Its face was contorted between concentration and discomfort before suddenly turning to relief.

    "Magmar!" The boy's eyes widened as it held a blue and Poké Ball with a series of X patterns out towards him.

    "Heh, you're full of surprises Magmar." Mister Iokua said. "Go ahead. It looks like he wants you to have it."

    Elio gingerly took the ball and as soon as his hands made contact with the metal, he nearly yanked it back in complete shock. "Ah!"

    It passed it off to another hand before going to the other in a quick succession before it finally had seemed to cool enough for him to touch without suffering a burn on his hands.

    What were you expecting it to be room temperature or something?

    "Thanks."

    "Mag!"

    "You're welcome trial-goer! Good luck on your island challenge!"

    Elio bade him goodbye and continued down the path towards Kahananui Ranch.

    "So Rotom, what kind of ball is this?"

    "Itzz a quick ball! Bzzt! Itz capturing zystem workzz the bezzt when you throw it at the beginning of a battle! Bzzt!"

    Another question I have is where exactly did the Magmar have the quick ball?

    I better wash it when I have a chance.

    As he headed further north towards Haleakala peak; the town began to thin out to the more rural countryside. Houses and the wood buildings gave way to long pastures that were surprisingly flat compared to the rest of what Elio had experienced of Alola, winding, hilly and jagged. Many large field Pokémon grazed in the fields as busy townsfolk tended to the tedious work needed to be done every day.

    Even though it was straight out of a western movie; Paniola Town and its population of around six thousand still had many reminders it was still in Alola. The people were no less friendly than anywhere else, waving their arms with a very enthusiastic "Alola!" in which the teeneger couldn't help but return the gesture. As much as he had to admit it; the greeting was beginning to grow on him.

    I haven't even explored all of Alola yet and it just kind of already feels like home. Parts of it really do feel like paradise…like a dream.

    Towering palm trees lined in between the houses, providing underappreciated shade to people and Pokémon alike, culminating into many that populated the four way intersection. From there; the streets would divide off into smaller parts to condominiums and the uniform houses. The plaza at the center was the location of the majority of the public facilities including a community center, post office where the Fearow Postal Service came for pickups and drop-offs, the lone grade school and a couple of grocery stores. For visitors, there was a tourist bulletin offering tours of ranches and souvenir shops inside the small hotel at the square's southwest corner.

    Sun figured that with an abundance of food that came fresh from the farms here every day, the need to refine other things wasn't as heavy.

    That also didn't mean there were hardly any restaurants. Among other café's, tea houses and snack shops; Elio easily spotted the familiar orange and white logo of a Cutter's towards the outskirts.

    Hau had introduced the popular Alolan chain restaurant to him while they were out on the Hale'iwa; a popular surfing hangout on Melemele Island due to its larger and more challenging waves than the mild ones from the south by Hau'oli City's tourist spot. Cutter's had been on the islands since its founding multiple decades ago and it had gained significant popularity as Alola began to modernize and boom in their growth due to the fact that it had remained open for late hours and many workers leaving or going on the night shift would stop in for a meal. Due to it being the focal point of their peak successes; all Cutter's locations would remain open until three in the morning and close for four hours before repeating the cycle seven days a week.

    The chain today had sixteen locations across five of Alola's six inhabited islands and continues to be one of the Alolan people's most popular restaurants to date. While he was a bit hesitant on trying something completely brand new; he found that their menu was incredibly diverse; serving traditional Alolan dishes to some of the more familiar things like burgers and katsu…the latter of which he particularly enjoyed while in Kanto. Many of the items were static, but there were also many other dishes served and rotated almost daily as specials. Their main special was their signature tamato berry chili.

    During busy mealtime hours, Elio had found out that trainers going on the island challenge could present their passport whilst paying for their meal and they'd receive both a small discount and their meal's soft drink beverage would be free of charge.

    And it's a fountain machine…which would mean infinite refills!

    Although eating at Cutter's didn't sound like a bad idea, Elio felt he needed to get to the Kahananui Ranch, with Dallas' request taking priority. He did have more snacks to munch on as well as enough food to last him until he got to the next registered Pokémon center situated at Brooklet Hill's front. Judging by Rotom's map, he'd get there in the evening of the next day if he went nonstop.

    Eh…I'm sure this isn't the only other Cutter's I'll find here on Akala. Besides, I'd actually like to see what Dallas' ranch looks like!

    As Elio headed on the roads north, taking a pathway next to where an occasional car passed by, he noticed the buildings of the town become more sparse, giving way to huge lush green pastures teeming with all sorts of different Pokémon.

    Some were behind the fence, milling about while others were being tended to by ranchers busy scrubbing at their dirty hides. Large wooden fences bordered each of the properties, but they all maintained a pristine, rural appearance.

    Dallas' description of Kahananui Ranch was spot on. A massive sprawling house sat at the front of the road where it straightened out to provide a long driving view of the largest property on the island.

    The entrance to the place was a massive dark metal gate that arched over a concrete road that was big enough to fit two trucks through on either side. Lining the edge of the driveway up to the house were neatly trimmed bushes that preceded the fence around the property.

    Elio saw the familiar figure of Dallas underneath and he waved after seeing the boy approach on the road.

    "Just in time ma friend. Ya sure got a good sense of it too." He drawled, stroking Troy who stood at his master's side and looked up eagerly. "One of the captain's here right now, why don't ya stop by an' say hello?"

    The inside of Kahananui Ranch was even more impressive than Elio had imagined. Its open space provided an amazing view of Haleakala summit. All around them; Pokémon of different species were herded together, grazing in pastures or being tended to by volunteer college workers.

    Dallas had given him nearly an entire tour; showing that many of those working here came from Melemele State University's agricultural science colleges to help fill their long amount of volunteer hours in order to earn both experience and the prerequisites. They took care of multiple species, all herded off into different sections.

    Elio wasn't sure he would be able to pay attention to everything being explained to him, since he was being showered with playful affection from Emmitt the growlithe and the little rockruff who was more than eager to have the boy close by.

    "So here's the mudbray pen." Dallas gestured to yet another section of the pasture where several quadruped donkey Pokémon were frolicking about in a designated puddle of mud. Some had already made their way over to many volunteers, who waited to scrub away at the mud caking their bodies with soapy sponges and pails of water.

    "New Pokémon detected! Bzzt!" Rotom flew out of his pack. "Mudbray. Donkey Pokémon. This Pokémon used to live all over the world in old times, however overhunting almost to the point of extinction led to the belief it can only be found wild in Alola. Mudbray are capable of pulling more than fifty times their weight. Mudbray is a ground type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon." He snapped out of his catalogue phase. "Literal workhorze right? Bzzt!"

    "Yeah." Elio glanced over at the mud pile where the remaining four were continuing to jump around and enjoy themselves. "Shouldn't you guys be cleaning them?"

    "We do." Dallas answered. "Mudbray are finicky creatures and part of its daily routine involve it playing around in mud. Not only does it find enjoyment in that, but it also serves to keep it cool since they can't sweat. And ya need to stay cool considering yer this close to the equator. They can get very moody if denied an opportunity to do that." He gestured to the boy. "Here, let's finish up. Grab a bucket and ah will show ya how to wash."

    Elio did as instructed, following him. He immediately sensed a very foul smell emanating from the field.

    "Watch yer step too." Dallas gestured to a dark pile and he could see many more scattered on the ground. "There's manure landmines everywhere."

    "No offense," Elio started. "But how can you stand the smell?"

    "Ya get used to it after a while."

    Dallas gave a quick demonstration to him and two other students before calling over the final four mudbray.

    Elio's let out a soft neigh and eyed him curiously before gently pressing its long nose next to his cheek and sniffing intently. He stifled a laugh.

    "I like you too buddy."

    Grabbing the brush in soapy water, he firmly, but gently applied pressure and began to scrub at mudbray's hide. For a young Pokémon, it remained remarkably still, closing its eyes and enjoying the feeling of the caretaking.

    It took Elio about five minutes from the sides to the chest, legs and back before Dallas' inspection proved that he had done a good job.

    Good thing too. Because my hands are about raw. He thought while flexing his reddened palms.

    "It's a good thing yer not doing this." The cowboy chuckled, seeing it as well. "'Cause you'd have to be scrubbing a dozen more. Takes me 'bout an hour to finish it all."

    He looked at his watch. "Now where were we? Oh yes, the captain!"

    "Hey, thanks for stopping by!" Further down another field, they spotted her. Mallow waved in the distance to them, giving him one of her contagious energetic grins before jogging over. Spotting Elio and Dallas approaching the next area, a primp in her step gave away that something was going on.

    "Well hello there Miss Mallow!" Dallas tipped his hat towards her. "Always nice seein' ya 'round these parts! Can ah introduce you to Elio here? He's a trial-goer on the island challenge!"

    Mallow nodded. "Of course! It's good to see you again Elio!" She extended a hand out.

    "Likewise ma'am." He shook it gingerly.

    "Ma'am?" The trial captain was taken aback, trying to stifle a laugh. "Oh I must say that you are quite the polite young man."

    "Quite paʻahana too. Ah might add, both in and out of a battle."

    "Sure," Elio glanced back at Dallas before petting rockruff who was now once more begging for attention at his feet. "Whatever that means."

    "Don't worry 'bout it!" He chuckled. "It's ah good thing. Oh Miss Mallow…did you come by for yer delivery today?"

    "Yup." She closed her eyes. "Excellent as always! I can't wait to get started!"

    "Started?" Elio asked.

    Mallow nodded. "Right. Part of running Aina's kitchen means that I have to go get our supply shipments for the next day from around the island! Dallas here provides a good amount of that stuff including milk. I've tried almost all the milk from the ranches here on the island, but none are as good as Kahananui Ranch!"

    "All from the finest pure grass fed cattle." Dallas drawled. "In comparison to the farms from other regions, Alola has completely outlawed the use of growth hormones and antibiotics in their products originatin' from here. Less artificial junk means they can be raised more naturally and promote higher quality products."

    "Huh interesting." Even though Elio had little idea of what they were talking about, he figured that much of Kanto's industrialization in the grocery store meant that products would be mass produced in quantity rather than quality.

    At least I know Tanaka's is good. I remember Mom saying they follow a similar policy.

    "And the farmer's market in Paniola is always a great place to go and pick up some locally grown vegetables and meat with all the kind. Ya happen to come by and see what we've got and ah promise ya that ya will be walkin' out with enough to feed yer ohana for weeks!"

    "But yes!" Mallow gushed. "Kahananui Ranch is super famous for its moomoo milk! Used in everything from yogurt, ice cream and even more! It's super rich and creamy when you use it in white sauce like Béchamel and Hollandaise! Mmm…Ah! The taste can't even be described because it's sooo good!" She had shut her eyes, almost as if tasting whatever she was describing.

    I don't think I've ever heard of white sauce named like that. Only one I know is alfredo and cheese…if that counts.

    "So Elio," She began. "You like to cook?"

    "No." I burn water. Only I can mess something like that up.

    "You want to learn?"

    "Uhhh, maybe another time." Should I even learn how to cook while I'm on the island challenge?

    "Fantastic!" Mallow clapped her hands together. "I shall get you an apron from Kalos. How does the words; kiss the cook sound on its front?"

    I know someone who would jump on that right away. But I already have an idea if that happens.

    "I'll do you one better Mallow." Sun said, a smile spreading on his face. "Will grill for sex."

    His proclamation put all three of them still for just a moment before everyone burst out into a fit of laughter. Elio bent down, clutching his sides and still not believing the reaction.

    I totally expected that to go wrong…

    "Why would ya say somethin' like that?" Dallas asked.

    A shrug. "Well it's the one my dad used to wear when we had cookouts."

    "That's a good one!" Mallow said. "Well, when you're ready to learn, let me know and I can order that for you in a jiffy!"

    "Look at ya go! Ya got plenty of things to do right after ya finish the island challenge! Even cooking! And ah must say ya gonna get a good teacher in the lovely Miss Mallow Lokelani!""

    Sun smiled, finding the prospect of figuring out on how to cook wasn't exactly a bad thing.

    It's not a bad thing at all. I better start learning when I'm on my own.

    "Mil! Mil! Miltank!" Everyone's attention turned to a pair of bovine Pokémon that headed up to Mallow's side, allowing her to gently pat their sides.

    "And it's all thanks to the miltank here!"

    "Miltank?" Elio's thoughts went back to the moomoo milk, available in the refrigerated section of the grocery stores.

    "Did zomeone zay miltank?" Rotom piped up, flying right back out of Sun's backpack again. "Then that meanz that there'z a new Pokémon detected! Bzzt! Thiz iz always fun to do! Even if it'z annoying to zomeone to put new 'Dex info out every time we come acrozz a new dizcovery! Bzzt!" He made a buzzing laugh. "Anywayz…Miltank. Milk cow Pokémon. Despite being known for its dairy production, Miltank's hide is tough enough to repel strong attacks. The milk it produces contains a lot of calories, fat and essential nutrients. An average miltank can produce up to five gallons of milk a day, a number that can be increased if it is around babies of any kind. Miltank is a normal type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Oh and that reminds me." Mallow said. "Elio? You got your ride pager?"

    "Uh yeah."

    "Can I see it?"

    "Sure." He held it in his hands and handed it over.

    Mallow hit a few buttons and Elio quickly noticed movement from the side of one of the barns in a massive thing that he could only describe that resembled a mass of fur.

    "Uh, what's that?" He pointed towards it. "It looks like a walking carpet."

    The trial captain laughed again. "That's an interesting way to put it. It's a ride Pokémon! Stoutland to be exact!"

    With a gruff bark, the stoutland trotted forward to stand next to Mallow.

    "A new Pokémon haz been detected! Bzzt!" Rotom said, presenting itself just as it was about to dive right back into the backpack. "Stoutland. Big-hearted Pokémon. It is the evolved form of herdier and lillipup's final evolution. Stoutland's sense of smell allows it to discover items buried and hidden years prior. Its gentle nature and bravery make it a favorite for first responders and many adult trainers entrust it to babysit their children while they are away. Stoutland is a normal type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Your Pokédex did a good job in explaining it." Mallow said. Next to his trainer's side, Rotom gave a curt bow before diving right back into the small pocket of his backpack. "See a stoutland here has a very acute sense of smell. You're used to a ride Pokémon rig-" She stopped abruptly when Elio already had his sleek pads on his shoulders, understanding where this was headed. A blue and gold reflecting polarized helmet was in his hand and about to be set atop his head. Earlier, he had managed to connect with Alola Transit and have the newly refurbished helmet sent to the center in Paniola Town, where a quick tryout for a perfect fit had completed his order.

    I hope this suit was worth the three hundred and seventy five I paid for it.

    "Yeah. I think I've done this before." He gave a sheepish grin. "So is it like a tauros?"

    "Yes and no." Mallow walked to stand beside the stoutland. "Unlike tauros, who are used primarily to go fast, a ride stoutland is trained to sniff for items that are buried in the ground or hidden out of sight. The concept actually originated from an old kahuna's effort to reduce the amount of things lost. But now in a trainer's world, any lost items are fair game."

    "Valuables?"

    "Of course they get returned if their owner can be found, but things like medicine and poke balls are free to claim by whoever finds it. But you are going to definitely need a stoutland's help for my trial when you take it! Here!" She patted the enormous dog's side. "Give it a try. She's incredibly gentle!"

    Elio nodded, approaching the Pokémon. Although he could tell that it had a much more calm demeanor than the tauros he had ridden back on Melemele Island, it was always a precaution of his for personal safety to utilize a Pokémon's abilities when he deemed it safe.

    Never use a Pokémon you don't trust and doesn't trust you. That had been a big rule he had seen for the general bylaws concerning ride Pokémon back at the Bureau.

    "Hi Stoutland." He greeted gently, extending his exposed palm out to her nose. She gazed at him gently before gently leaning forward and giving it a sniff. Elio felt something warm and wet on his hand and looked over, seeing a long slobbery tongue happily licking away at something.

    Dallas chuckled. "She likes ya. There's a lot of salt licks out on the ranch and she can always find it tasty. Ya probably picked some residue on ya while workin'."

    Elio laughed gently, feeling the tongue send strange ticklish sensations through his arm. "Haha! Okay…easy girl." A slow shove away caused her to back off and he circled around, finally getting a chance to admire her carefully groomed shined pelt and majestic lines of fur. In a way, he found it to be quite beautiful.

    "Okay." He quickly found a stepping slot, setting his foot inside and grabbing the handlebar to pull himself over atop the single seat. In a contrast to the tauros where he leaned forward slightly, he could now sit completely upright, gripping the handlebars as if on a bicycle. There were certain models of harnesses where the pager could fit on the Pokémon in front of the user, but another purchase he had picked up along with the helmet allowed him to mount it upon either one of his wrists. Even though Sun was right handed, the Z-ring had already taken up his left, forcing him to affix it otherwise.

    Typing in a few commands to link it and using the basic ride signals. He had already tuned himself to the stoutland's controls.

    "Okay," He started. "Let's see if the ranchers left anything behind here."

    At his command, the stoutland lowered her head towards the ground and sniffed intently. She kept tugging towards one section and let out a loud snort.

    "That's a good sign!" Dallas encouraged. "That means she's gotta scent on somethin' hidden!"

    "Let's go." Elio said and the two of them slowly moved forward and to their left. Stoutland continued to sniff the ground, weaving to the left some and to the right. To an untrained eye, the pattern was erratic and random.

    A few paces forward later and stoutland stopped, sniffing intensively once more before finally barking. She bobbed her head vigorously, pawing directly in front.

    "Woah! Holy-" Elio was not expecting such a sudden motion and had it not been for his quick reflexes to grab back onto the handlebars with a death grip, he might have been thrown right off.

    "That's good!" Mallow said, almost having to shout from the combination of the distance and the stoutland's sharp barking. "That means she's found something hidden right in front!"

    "That's good?" Elio repeated, glancing back in question. "She almost threw me out of the saddle!"

    "Then there's nothin' wrong!" Dallas shouted, cupping his mouth to shout. "Stoutland get excited when they find somethin'! Get off and check it out!"

    I almost flew off like a ragdoll. This is why I have trust issues.

    His limbs still a little shaky, but he dismounted, moving over to inspect. The dog was staring directly at a dirt covered fruit that had a wide body and narrowed up to a small nub at its stem.

    "Looks like ya found a leftover sitrus berry!" Dallas said, walking up beside Elio. "Berries grow a lot around here and they're a big part of a Pokémon's diet. Lots of times we try not to let any go to waste, so we have some ride Pokémon like stoutland come and seek them out! But at least ya know how to use it!"

    "Sounds neat." Elio pocketed the fruit in his pack after brushing a bit of the dirt off its surface. "So it looks like a really good functioning ranch that gives a lot of food and trains ride Pokémon. I can see why your other obligations made you have to quit the island challenge."

    "Who said I quit?" Dallas smirked, a slight glint in his eyes.

    "Well you're older than twenty one."

    "Ah," He chuckled. "Ya got me there. Twenty six and countin'! Thing is that ma family was gonna need me to help run things around here since we've acquired land in a trade with the Fontera family next door to start our new project."

    "New project?"

    "Yup. Since Alola's gonna be expandin' a lot in the trainer biz thanks to a fella named Kukui, we're just opened a breedin' facility here as part of the partnership between us and Melemele State University!"

    He gestured back to the house. "C'mon, I'll show ya what it's all about!"

    I'm down to see what this new thing is all about! Elio glanced back at Mallow. "Uh…I'll see ya soon captain Mallow!"

    "Alola Elio!" She waved happily. "Keep heading up north towards Kuda Coast. The cliffs will be too steep for you to climb over to get there, but there's a halemai right in front of Brooklet Hill where the trial will be held. My friend Lana runs it, so be sure to say hi for me when you see her! Good luck!"

    "I will do just that. And mahalo."

    "Fantastic! Well then. A hui hou! Alola!"

    "Alola!" Dallas and Elio said back, watching her bound away with a skip in her step as she exited the ranch.

    "I'd be careful of that one if I were ya." The paniolo said when she had left, trying to hide the amusement on his face. "She surprised me, especially since she didn't do a honi. If ya let her though; Mallow can be a big flirt. Ya certainly made an impression on her if she wants to teach ya how to cook."

    "Really?"

    "Yup. Just good luck on her trial too kid. It's gonna be the hardest one yet. Say, how about we see to the breedin' facility I was gonna show you?"

    "Lead the way."

    They moved to the ranch's east side where there were newer metal wire fences enclosing a smaller, but much more updated pastures. In a wide contrast to the farmlike creatures he had seen on the other side; this one had a more diverse population with a lot of varying species.

    "Wow." Elio's eyes widened in amazement at all the diversity of Pokémon playing about. "I see abra, caterpie, rowlet, litten, popplio, bonsly! A whole lot of new species!"

    "Did zomeone zay new zpeciez?!" Rotom chimed from inside the backpack. "Goodnezz me Elio! I'm gonna have a field day today! Bzzt!"

    "Rotom-"

    "Zave it! It really bringzzz out the creativity no? Pluz we haven't logged all theze, thankz to a zertain zomeone forgetting!" He shuffled to his screen. "Rowlet. Grass Owl Pokémon. It flies silently through the air, launching powerful kicks with its legs. In battle, a younger one will often glance back at its trainer with uncertainty, but is actually seeking guidance. Rowlet is a grass and flying type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Popplio. Sea Lion Pokémon. A popplio blows bubbles from its nose and is known for being a hard worker to push itself and its trainer. Practicing bubbles constantly is part of its routine of training. Popplio is a water type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Abra. Psi Pokémon. Abra sleeps for nearly three fourths of the day, however it is capable of sensing others approaching and teleports itself out of danger even while asleep. Waking up in an unknown location is common, making it panic. Abra is a psychic type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Caterpie. Worm Pokémon. Caterpie can emit a strong odor whenever it is threatened, however this rarely deters bird Pokémon who are its natural predators. The abundance of this Pokémon combined with its ease of catching and training make this a popular first Pokémon for novice trainers. Caterpie is a bug type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Bonsly. Bonsai Pokémon. They resemble the crafted bonsai trees of Kanto and Johto. Although a bonsly are usually young and juvenile, the frequent crying is a method it uses to expel moisture, which it particularly dislikes. Bonsly is a rock type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "That'z all for now!" Rotom saluted before diving right back into Sun's backpack. "I'll be back when you've got new Pokémon detected! Bzzt!"

    Dallas nodded. "So this is our breedin' pens. We started on collaboration with Melemele State University to help their Pokémon breedin' program and build this section off the new land we acquired. Their job is to ensure that young Pokémon are nurtured into healthy adults. Some breed and raise Pokémon to be competitive in battle while others groom them for performance or as household companions! The job's always going to be in high demand, which is why Melemele State is pushin' it as one of their top programs."

    Elio took a good long glance over at the pens. "Not to be shortsighted or anything, but isn't breeding just matching a male and female Pokémon?"

    "Not exactly. A lot of it is way too sophisticated to write out a pamphlet about, but it's not just all reproducin' for offspring. It's also about raisin' them to become healthy adults with the proper nutrition and care and makin' sure they're acclimated to the new environments they get introduced into."

    As they crossed into a massive building situated on the other side of the breeding pens; he passed an older man dressed similarly in red and blue plaid clothing giving off a short lecture to the group of a dozen or so students. They all looked to be in their early twenties and many of the boys had snickered about something recently.

    I can only imagine what they're thinking about.

    "Hello Pa." Dallas said, causing all heads to turn their way. "Sorry for interruptin' ya talk and all, but this is the trainer ah was talkin' to ya about back in town."

    His father had an impressive bearlike physique, with weathered features, tanned skin and chocolate brown eyes that glinted with youth.

    "Well alola cousin!" His voice had less of a country twang than Dallas', but it was still present nonetheless. He stuck out his hand. "Ahm Jerry. Jerry Kahananui and the head of Kahananui Ranch. Ya must be Elio Northstar."

    "Yes but-"

    "Or do ya prefer Sun? From what my own tells me, ya fine with either."

    "Yes." Wow, sure beat me to that kind of greeting.

    "I'm more than happy to extend Dallas' offer for you as a malihini." Jerry said. "All trial-goers are more than welcome here. Now my wife says that dinner will be ready soon, so Ah hope ya worked up quite an appetite for your ka'opu."

    "I sure have."

    "Excellent."

    Dallas pulled Elio away from the group and continued the tour through a large hallway in a separate building at the back where there were lines of glass rooms. In a wide contrast to the rest of the ranch's wooden openings, this building had a slight bit of warmth from heat lamps situated on a low power above and a warm gold lighting to keep its unborn occupants as comfortable as possible. Hundreds of small cylindrical chambers were housed here in specific slots all lined up neatly, each holding a single egg. They were a wide range of different colors from black and red to yellow and brown.

    "Wow." He looked around in amazement. "So this is where all the eggs are kept?"

    "Most of them yes."

    "Find it kind of strange that mammal Pokémon are also in eggs. I mean humans are mammals."

    "Ah find it strange too." Dallas agreed. "But only the premature ones come out in eggs. Most of them will give birth to live young."

    "Out of curiosity, what do you do with all the baby Pokémon that get hatched here?"

    "Most occasions, they'll go to a variety of roles. Professor Kukui's starter Pokémon usually hatch here, like your torracat and your friend Hau's dartrix. Others get reintroduced into the wild and some get picked up by traveling trainers."

    Elio looked about to ask another question when they heard a sharp bark and a series of growls from outside. This was followed by some shouting, causing a look of concern on Dallas' face that told him that it was going to be urgent and possibly dangerous.

    Back out in the tauros' pasture, Troy, Emmitt and Michael snarled and barked furiously as they raced along the fence.

    There were at least a half dozen miltank, all huddled and scared at the far end, close to the gate that separated their own section. Jerry had already unlocked it by the time Elio, Dallas and Rockruff arrived, allowing them to fearfully escape the confrontation going on out in the field.

    "Wesley," The paniolo addressed a sandy brown-haired college student dressed in dirt smeared clothes. "What's going on?"

    "Something startled the tauros." He said, gesturing out to where everyone gathered around were looking. "And now they've taken out their anger on each other."

    Many of the big normal types had also headed towards them. As Michael took care of the miltank, Troy and Emmitt were keeping watch over the rest of the herd.

    In the center of the action; Elio could hear the strangled cries of at least three different massive bovines. They moved quickly, smashing their thick horns and skulls against one another with untamed ferocity.

    From everything he had been told; the tauros native to Alola were extremely tame.

    "Rotom," At the mention of his name, the talking Pokédex tucked itself out of the pocket. "What can you tell me about tauros?"

    "Tauroz? Bzzt! I'll open itz file. It'zz not a new Pokémon, but here'z the entry! Tauros. Wild bull Pokémon. Widely known for its wild temper, a tauros native to Alola are more noticeably tame and calm. Tauros were believed to be the first of the ride Pokémon, owing the origins of the practice right on the islands despite being ridden by people all around the world. Tauros is a normal type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    Another yelp of barking came from rockruff, who had been set down at Elio's side. Before he could say anything to it, the tiny dog took off running across the field towards Troy.

    "Rockruff!"

    Two of the tauros smashed the third one, which was slightly bigger than his other foes. Troy ran beside them, growling sternly, but his warnings fell on deaf ears as the bulls continued to fight. They didn't even seem to acknowledge his presence. One of them had been thrown off his charge and smashed right into the wolf, sending it sprawling into the ground and kicking up a cloud of dirt.

    Rockruff barked concerned and tucked his head next to Troy's as he struggled to get up. The bigger wolf Pokémon gently nudged him away before he was suddenly hit again by the enormous force of yet another one charging straight into him.

    The furry collar around Rockruff's neck glowed and he flicked his tail forward, sending down several fast-moving rock projectiles. Some of them hit their mark, but most had been shrugged off their thick hides and their fixation on trying to take one another down.

    "This is bad." Dallas said. Acting quickly, he turned back to the student. "Get Heather to bring in the mistress."

    The mistress?

    "Who's the mistress?"

    "She's a miltank. The mistress of Kahananui Ranch can get even the most unruly tauros snapped right into line." He answered, gesturing for him to come along and together they jogged onto the field. "Tauros can be known as very spirited Pokémon, but that bigger one is particularly feisty. Not really surprisin', since we got him from Landa Ranch just a week ago."

    "Why did you get him if he's so rough and tough?"

    "Well we often train them to be ride Pokémon here. Can't really put him through the paces if he bucks at every little thing or picks fights with the others."

    Reaching the area around the confrontation, Dallas checked over Troy, who seemed to be a little hurt, but still raring to go. Rockruff continued to face them, still undeterred by the ineffectiveness of his move.

    "Rockruff you need to move away!" Elio yelled. "It's too dangerous!"

    He got a bark of protest in reply as another rock throw attack was fired. The big tauros' horn lashed out, striking Rockruff right across the belly. He let out a sharp cry of pain, landing pretty hard on the gravel with a solid crunch.

    "Rockruff!" Elio cried, running over with his body already acting before his head.

    "Elio wait!" Dallas held out a hand to try and stop the boy.

    This is going to be the worst decision ever made. He thought to himself as he edged closer to Rockruff's limp form. One of the tauros had finally been corralled by Emmitt, who had just returned from caring of the miltank. Unfortunately the other two were still locked in an intense struggle that didn't show any signs of ceasing on its own.

    He decided to bide his time, standing crouched low to the ground on the balls of his feet and unaware of the shouts by everyone else to move away. Once he would see an opportunity, all that was left to prevent even more injury to Rockruff was to jump out, snatch it up in his arms and get back to a safe distance.

    Hopefully these two will be so focused on each other that I won't be noticed.

    Elio kept his eyes on the larger tauros. That one was going to be the more aggressive and agitated one than his fighting partner.

    It finally had its back to him.

    Perfect.

    Sun dashed forward, extending his arms and trying not to focus on the horn-locking match being fought no less than six feet away. Just one stray horn to come in his direction and he'd be spurting blood everywhere.

    Okay try not to think about that.

    Rockruff was almost snatched up in his arms and he got back to his feet.

    At that moment, the smaller tauros had found an opportunity to push his partner forward. A collective of gasps and Dallas' horrified expression followed as Elio dove right for the ground while running backwards with nowhere else to go. The massive beasts landed right behind him, still snorting loudly.

    Elio continued to hold Rockruff in his arms, intent on protecting the little puppy until the very end.

    He felt a strap on his backpack get tugged sharply and then found himself pulled across the ground just a couple meters. Glancing back, he saw that Troy had grabbed and used it to pull him away from the danger.

    Leaping back into action, the lycanroc's tail swished to the side, glowing white and hurling several large boulders. They crashed violently against the tauros' hides effectively separating them.

    Elio struggled to keep his breathing under control…as well as the enormous surge of adrenaline going through his body.

    Wow…holy crap. I almost died right there.

    "I got the mistress!" He heard a woman's voice. "Oh by the tapus! Is he okay?"

    "Yeah." Dallas' voice said, out of his sight. "He did a very reckless thing, but saved little Rockruff there."

    A pair of strong hands went under his armpits and pulled him back up. "You alright kid?"

    He nodded. "Yeah. I think so." Glancing over at the miltank, he could tell by her larger frame and calmness that this was nothing out of the ordinary for her. "I owe Troy one. That the mistress?"

    "Yup!" The girl replied. "Just one roar from a motherly miltank can make even the most wild tauros instantly quiet as a litten!"

    "Mil! Mil! Miltank!"

    The mistress trotted forward and her presence was almost immediately felt by the two male Pokémon, who for a start halted their intense fight.

    "Mil! Miltank!" At the sound of her soothing moos, the smaller tauros gave a huffed reply and trotted off to do his own thing. The bigger and newer one still stared back with a bit of agitation in his eyes. He remained hunched down, hooves striking the red dirt feverishly as if he still wanted to burn off some energy.

    "Moooar!"

    "Mil!" The miltank glanced back, her expression a bit less confident and assertive.

    "Huh. Ua hopohopo wau." Dallas muttered under his breath. "Ya know what they always say. A stronger tauros is more difficult to control. Even the mistress isn't able to handle this one."

    Elio stood back up, limbs still shaking a bit as he set Rockruff next to Troy. "So maybe if he burns off some more of that energy, he might calm down right?"

    "Perhaps. Are ya sure ya want to take tauros on in a battle?"

    "I don't mind." He unclipped Torracat's Poké Ball from his belt. The adrenaline continued to pump into his body and maybe it would rub off on a thrilling battle. "We're always ready for a good fight!"

    The ball got a toss up into the air. "Let's go buddy!"

    A flash of light erupted from its split section, forming right into his strongest Pokémon. It purred happily before setting its eyes on the bovine across from him. The fiery bell at his throat blazed with intensity knowing that he was facing a powerful opponent.

    Tauros galloped forward, lowering its pointed horns straight at Torracat. The clatter of hooves across the dirt began to join together in a rapid pace.

    The fire cat didn't miss a beat when he sprang back on his hind legs, swiftly jumping aside and causing the attack to miss entirely. Elio watched intently as he pounced again, jumping onto the bigger Pokémon's back and opening its mouth to deliver a powerful bite.

    This seemed to enrage tauros quite a bit as he thrashed his body about, throwing him off and jabbing him with one of the horns. Caught off guard; Torracat let out a yelp of pain, examining its foreleg that was bleeding just slightly before shaking it off.

    "You good?" Elio asked, clenching a fist.

    "Tor!"

    "Okay, let's go on the offensive. Ember!"

    "Tor!" He opened his mouth, spitting another tiny ball of flame. It struck the tauros in the chest, singing its fur. The fire quickly died out and it looked ready to charge again.

    I can see you're eager to go in close again. Hold onto that. We're trying to wear it down.

    Tauros charged again, slamming its hooves into the ground and creating a shockwave that startled both Pokémon and trainer.

    "What the-"

    That was bulldoze!

    "Tor…" He looked to be just a little dazed and let out a startled scream when the bull crashed itself right into him again in another horn attack. Elio saw that he had tried to dodge it again, but it seemed as if his reaction was slow enough to prevent an escape.

    Does bulldoze make him slower?

    If it did, then he needed to take it out quickly.

    Back on the offense we go.

    "Change of plans buddy. Go with fire fang."

    The tauros was in the midst of readying another charge, but Torracat had beat him to it when he rushed forward, teeth bared and infused with hot flames. In reflex, it swiped its head to the side in an attempt to defend itself with the horns. His swift agility allowed him to avoid getting jabbed by them a second time and he dove for the exposed brown haired chest area, biting down on it as fiercely as his jaws would allow.

    "Moooar!" Tauros weakly cried out, fainting as the collision of both body mass and teeth were simply too much for it to take. Despite its toughness in the battle, Elio had worn it down enough.

    "Tor! Torracat!" His starter landed again, stretching his legs and head held high.

    "Phew." Sun wiped a bead of sweat off his brow. "Nice job buddy." He took the ball back out. "Return."

    "Tor!"

    Everyone watching let out a loud cheer and burst into a thunderous applause. A couple of whistles were heard from the impressed mass at seeing his battling prowess. Even Rockruff was jumping up and down, yipping excitedly with the same sentiment.

    "You go brah!"

    "That's some serious battling skills kid!"

    "Only a trial-goer could do something like that!"

    "I think I speak for everyone." Dallas said, glancing back at the crowd behind him. "Ho'omaikai'ana Elio!"

    A great big "Ho'omaikai'ana!" rang out from many of the others as the normal chatter volume was resuming and the audience started dispersing back out to resume their prior duties. Chatter was now just a little more upbeat as they talked about the new exciting events that happened today.

    "Mil!"

    "Moooar!"

    "It looks like the tauros has calmed down now." Heather said. "Thanks to both efforts of you and the mistress, I think that now we can start working in on his ride Pokémon training!"

    "It's been quite a day for ya hasn't it Sun?" Dallas asked. "Now I imagine ya-" He stopped speaking.

    "Imagine what?" He got a hand held up in response.

    "Ya smell that?"

    Elio took a gentle whiff, now suddenly picking up a faint distinguished scent. It was hard to describe, almost as if he had smelled it before in some perfume. Even though it hadn't been particularly strong, there was no denying that it lingered in the air around them. He shook his head, trying to clear the dizzying odd sensation that seemed to pool in his body. At the same time, he heard Troy and Emmitt growing fiercely at something unseen around them. Rockruff joined them just a moment later and all three dogs prowled the grass, sniffing eagerly.

    "I smell it too." Heather nodded, brushing a stray strand of hair out of her eyes. "That means that-"

    "Salandit."

    "Salandit?" Elio asked.

    "Yeah. Salandit is a Pokémon that feeds on eggs and weakened babies. They emit oils and flames that have a sweet smellin' odor to it and can be disorientin'. Normally, they live in the mountains of Haleakala and Mauna Wela, but on occasion they like to raid the ranches for food." He gestured to Troy and Emmitt. "Another one of the reasons to have these guard Pokémon around, but it unfortunately doesn't discourage them much."

    "Could that be what startled the tauros into fighting?"

    "Possibly. I hope that scarin' them was enough to discourage any of their thievin' tricks. We've lost more than a few eggs and babies to them over the years."

    It wasn't an hour later after cleaning themselves up from all the dirt outside when Dallas' father called out to announce that dinner had been ready. He led him to the front of the house, where a slanted slate roof painted dark brown sheltered a stone porch that had a couple of tables and chairs with colorful cushions.

    Stepping inside to glance at the interior; Elio was blown away at something he did not expect at all.

    From what he had gathered on these ranch style homes, they were spacious but made of old wooden furniture and covered in a layer of dust that made it impossible to see the original finish.

    There was a beautiful checkered copper rug in front of the foyer's coffee table where a smooth stone hearth sat beside a modern looking television and fireplace. The walls had a cream coloring to them with the occasional hanging of a painting. Some were of the island of Akala with the majestic Haleakala peak while another one depicted a faceless paniolo in the midst of tossing a lasso at a herd of tauros from the side.

    "Ah there ya two are." Jerry said, walking in beside a pale woman with dark hair who looked to be in her mid-fifties. She wore a similar plaid shirt, but unlike Jerry's hers had a turquoise pattern that had a design of birds stitched on its edges. A long dark apron hung around her neck and tied neatly around her waist. Everything about her radiated warmth and hospitality.

    "Alola to you trial goer." Her accent was more pronounced than either of the boys'. "Ya the Elio Northstar who helped out my son with his work. Thank ya so much for yer time, even though ya could have very well gone on about with all the trials."

    "Thank you Missus Kahananui." Elio bowed slightly. "It's been real fun."

    And real life threatening too after I almost got flattened by a tauros.

    "Oh ya are too kind." She smiled, extending a hand out. "Ahm Georgia. Ya probably know already but Jerry here is my husband and Dallas is my son."

    Elio let out a chuckle of surprise when he shook it and saw her clasp both of her gentle, slightly wrinkled hands over his and put her forehead against it.

    "Come! Come! Ah have made plenty of food for all of us to enjoy. Ya like ribeye steak?"

    The dining room just close by the fireplace was abuzz with excited chatter and laughter as Elio shared his hair-raising story that afternoon. Knives clattered on the plate as the family savored the perfectly cooked medium rare cuts of beef that were apparently called ribeye.

    "And before we start eatin'." Dallas said. "We shall offer a prayer of thanks to the goddess of Akala Island."

    At his queue, everyone at the table bowed their heads.

    "Tapu Lele. Mahalo makou iaʻoe no keiaʻai."

    And then with a simple nod, the conversations resumed as the meal started.

    "I have no idea about cooking." Elio said, looking at his food and again being very impressed with the cooking. "But this ribeye is among some of the best things I've ever eaten."

    "All our cattle here are grass fed and have no antibiotics or growth hormones. Just like it has been for generations."

    Beneath them at the side of the table, Elio had allowed Rufflet, Torracat and Grimer out to enjoy a bowl of homemade pokefood alongside Troy, Emmitt and Michael. Rockruff soon came over as well, which Elio's starter Pokémon was more than happy to share.

    As he ate, the young puppy Pokémon couldn't help but sneak glances of admiration at the young boy who sat at the table with its surrogate owners.

    For the longest time, he tried chance and chance again to prove that he could be a worthy Pokémon to become accepted as another guard dog for the ranch. Mentored by the other three, he had always been their "little brother" and would be charged with guarding the ranch from raider Pokémon as well as being another one of Dallas' loyal friends.

    Ever since the paniolo had come across him lying battered and bruised on a street guarding it with his life, he felt like he owed a great debt since its previous owners had left it behind. It saddened him to think that they didn't even bother to come back and search. Having them take him up was an amazing feeling to have a new home, but he wasn't satisfied. He wanted to start battling and explore Alola in hopes of finding the person he belonged to in the first place.

    Now seeing the young trainer that had seriously impressed him when he battled his friend, he saw that an opportunity was presenting itself to leave the ranch.

    And he wasn't going to miss it. If he could go; then he would do all he could to have it come with them as well. Elio's bag would have more than enough room to fit it along.

    Rockruff's nose suddenly picked up a faint scent and he paused from his meal to sniff into the air. So far, none of the other Pokémon had detected it either, but there was just some intuition inside his head that told him something was very wrong.

    Sensing that it might be in trouble, he gently pushed the bowl back to Torracat's side and followed the sweet smelling trail that only got stronger as he neared the egg nursery building.

    Translations:
    • Paʻahana - Hard working
    • Malihini - Visitor
    • A Hui Hou - See you later
    • Ua hopohopo wau - I'm shocked
    • Ho'omaikai'ana - Congratulations
    • ka'opu - Stomach
    • Tapu Lele, mahalo makou iaʻoe no keiaʻai. - We thank Tapu Lele for the food it has given us
    • Paniolo - Cowboy/Rancher
    Whew, that's a wrap. This took me a wayyy longer time than I expected to write out, but I'm hoping everyone enjoyed it nonetheless!

    A big mahalo to everyone reading and reviewing, you give my writing purpose. See everyone next time.

    Brav
     
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