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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! Here's another early chapter! Not that anyone is going to complain as it's a few days from two weeks interval I've set up. Normally it takes me a little while to get another chapter rolling, but I hope this puts me back on track.

    I see through the reviews that much of the love story/triangle is going as I've planned. In no way did I ever say that Lillie and Elio getting together was going to be a smooth ride. This is one of the walls and it's certainly not going to be the last either. Definitely glad people do enjoy the HeavenlySunshipping. (My own term for Elio X Leilani) The term comes from both Leilani's and Elio's names with the former meaning: Heavenly Star in Hawaiian. Yup. Poor Lillie...but rest assured. She'll get her chance again.

    This is unrelated news, but my younger brother also formally received his Eagle Scout award on Sunday afternoon! Braviary fly in the family now!

    Now let's get to the chapter. We've got a lot of ground to cover. (that's a hint by the way of a new character debut)


    So what do I do? Elio clearly likes Leilani enough to ask her out on a date. I guess that means she's going to be the girl he hangs out with a lot.

    I should be happy for him, after all we're still friends right and we support one another. But for some reason I feel like I've been rejected again and am all alone with Nebby here, even though I know it's not the case. Elio has every right to be with Leilani.

    Maybe I'll look on the bright side of this. He got a new team member although I'm kind of wondering why he decided on a feebas of all things? But if I know my Sun, he has a knack for discovering potential in every Pokémon or a way to make them useful. I just hope it's not for a meal!

    One thing I also noticed Elio had stopped abruptly in doing in our letters is say "I miss you" at the end every time he wrote. I miss that…

    Sometimes boys are so strange. Mother did say that they were simply not worth my time. Is that true? I do like Elio, but I've just been so unsure on how to tell him and if he's so focused on Leilani, then how will he notice me?

    I wish I could go and meet up with him, but Team Skull has been lurking around Heahea City for a while now and I still don't feel comfortable going out on my own. Sina and Dexio were more than happy to escort me wherever I needed to go, but they had to go back to Kalos on orders of their regional professor. Sina did say they'd be coming back soon and they had given Elio something to unlock the power of a very special Pokémon.

    Dear Elio,

    It sounds like you had a lot of fun with Leilani and Lana. I didn't have much experience with fishing except hearing about the time my mother and father went on a trip doing something called flyfishing in northern Sinnoh in the summertime. I'm glad you got the hang of it with Lana's help! And be careful of the hook! It's really really sharp!

    I…I don't know what to say. I guess just be yourself. If it's something you really want to do, then go for it. Also just remember to be ready if she says no…even though she will probably say yes seeing how you keep telling me how beautiful and amazing she is. Remember there are plenty of fish in the sea too.

    So will you be going to see your next trial or going on your date? Either way, I hope you have fun! You tell me all the time to relax, but since you're going through these trials like what Professor Kukui would call just like "flare blitz" you deserve some downtime don't you think?

    I miss you Elio. I want to see you again…

    Sincerely,

    Lillie

    Hau Kealoha was patiently sitting beside the Hill's entrance when the trio arrived. He was already beaming from ear to ear and jumping up and down the moment he noticed them.

    "Alola! Aue! It's Elio!" His eyes shifted over and seemed to sparkle in the afternoon light. "Leilani! And mystery blue haired girl!"

    "Hey Hau." Sun waved his hands in the traditional Alolan gesture. "What's going on?"

    "Oh nothing!" The kahuna's grandson sauntered over and put his hands behind his head, cracking his signature grin. "Just training my Pokémon like usual! Dartrix and I are gonna take this trial down!"

    "Hell yeah you are." Automatically, the two high-fived, raising their arms up and swaying their hips. They stopped, clasped hands firmly to bring one another in for a hearty pat on the back,

    Their signature handshake complete, they had stopped to see the girls eyeing them with amusement before leaning back and laughing.

    "They're probably like; what in the world right?!" Elio grinned at his best friend.

    "Yeah! But it's what makes us all so special brah!"

    Sun was glad that the thought of Gladion had seemingly escaped Hau's mind. He was all for a good competition and rivalry, but that edgy blond teen seemed to take things way too seriously.

    If you want to get strong and go serious in your battles, go to the Indigo League. He dryly thought to himself. Those trainers don't fool around and if you let your guard down; they'll tear you a new one you didn't know you had. I'd like to see him and that experiment go up against those merciless trainers.

    Gladion had done nothing but jab at Hau ever since the two had crossed paths and that irritated Elio to no end.

    He has no right to tell Hau how to battle.

    It didn't help much that Hau lost pretty easily. He could've contributed it to the lack of effort like the latter had pointed out, but there was nothing at stake except maybe a small amount of prize money that was transferred upon victory. Most of which Elio had received and given through his victories and losses weren't large enough to put a dent in the savings he accumulated, but it was the rules and losing meant that the loser had to pay up.

    Most of the trainers he had lost to were fairly humble. A lot of them took the brief time afterword to discuss strategies or further find a way to improve battling skill before parting ways. Sure some were a bit arrogant, but in reality it was nothing worthwhile for him to lose his temper over. Losing did make him feel as if his reputation had been sullied, but there was no such thing as a perfect trainer.

    At least not yet.

    I have a feeling we're going to be seeing that Gladion person again. When we do…I'll beat him and that experiment again.

    "I'm here to take on the trial. One more step until I can beat tutu!"

    "Well perhaps I can lead you there Hau." Lana smiled, gesturing to the entrance to Brooklet Hill. "After you."

    Hau glanced back at Elio, "Hey you coming brah?"

    The other boy made a hang-loose sign. "Actually I'm going to run some errands. But if I miss you, then keep on going. I'm sure we'll catch up somewhere."

    "We could try Royal Avenue." The kahuna's grandson suggested. "It's a huge entertainment area here on Akala just down the road. Maybe a Battle Royale or something!"

    That's where Ed said he was coming soon.

    "Well I'd be more than happy to come and watch you take on the trial," Elio said glancing back up at the center and at the three compatriots. "But I've got a date with a shower and the buffet."

    "Suit yourself brah. You definitely look like you need a break."

    "I'll come with you." Leilani said. "Have to make sure all my friends progress through the island challenge."

    "Aww thanks Leilani!" Hau jumped up and down. The girl let out an excited squeal as he grabbed her with both arms and squeezed tightly in a hug.

    Although Sun smiled at Hau's affectionate display, he felt as if something was making him upset.

    I have no doubt that Hau likes her too.

    "Then we shall be off." Lana pointed to the Hill's entrance once again. "I think I do hear some vigorous splashing. Do you Hau, the brave grandson of Hala, kahuna of Melemele Island have the ability to assist me?"

    "Wha…I mean yes! Of course!"

    "We'll see ya Elio." Leilani sauntered over and gave him a gentle hug, indirectly causing him to furiously blush again. "Hope you're ready for surfing next time we're together by the water!"

    As she and Hau happily went back into the path that led to the trial site; Elio meanwhile saw Lana casting him a smirk as she turned to follow them.

    "You may want to confess nā manaʻo soon Elio. Like what you just saw here; my friend Leilani is a very pretty girl and you're not the only one after her hand."

    "Aaand done!" Hau snapped a picture of himself, holding his brand new sparkling Waterium Z with a big grin on his face. Just for kicks; he decided on a second one with Dartrix doing some silly poses behind him. He and Leilani shared a laugh at some of the comical antics captured through the lens before putting the formal one on his Festival Plaza page. Almost immediately, there were a few likes that had popped up just minutes after him posting.

    "The one with Dartrix is definitely worthy of being put into the photo club." Leilani remarked as Hau scrolled through the half-dozen pictures.

    "I agree." By now, the two of them were watching the low waves roll in from the ocean onto the sandy beach. Fishing rods were propped up beside them and they opted to go to the small drink stand back by the public entrance for refreshments. It had that unique Alolan vibe, a small bamboo tiki hut locally owned and operated to provide something cool for trainers and visitors alike.

    What was really neat; the drinks being served in the biodegradable coconut shells similar to the tropical cocktails that advertisements and other media painted in the paradise image. Once they were finished, the shells could be thrown onto the beach where the abundant population of crabrawler used their tough pincer fists to smash it into smaller fragments for an easy meal.

    Hau sighed, leaning back onto the slope and closing his eyes. The evening had approached, with the bright sun radiating a beautiful orange glow through the shadows of puffy clouds in between.

    He glanced over at Leilani, as she closed her eyes, mouth curled slightly upwards as the breeze gently swept her long locks of hair behind.

    The kahuna's grandson couldn't deny that he continued to harbor feelings for the girl who started living in Iki Town when he was four. Leilani lived with her older cousin Rey next door to his house and commonly had a good playmate in Hau.

    Not very many children populated Iki, so they did everything together after growing up so close. Go to school, homework, lunch and even dancing lessons. Leilani continued to be impressed at how quickly Hau had picked it up. Of course when he was overjoyed, all of that was all pitched out the window for jumping up and down to swing his arms wildly about in a euphoric rush of pure excitement. His amounts of boundless energy was contagious like a plague, causing others to dance just as easily with smiles just as big plastered on their faces.

    Of course as he grew up and became educated on the changes that came along as he transitioned from a child to a teenager, he now noticed that he was starting to behave differently and not look at her in the same manner when they were kids. It was a big leap from wanting nothing but to happily skip along the beaches to sitting down on one, staring into her gorgeous brown eyes and planting a kiss on her lips.

    Hau just had it…that hunger to hold Leilani close and have his arms around her as they intimately kissed with no other sense in the world.

    "Hau?"

    The kahuna's grandson was jerked out of his fantasy by the same eighteen year old who stared at him while sipping tentatively from her coconut cup.

    Ah man.

    "You okay there?"

    "Uh yeah." He scratched his head nervously. "Just thinking about things. That's all."

    "What kind of things?"

    "My gramps."

    "Your gramps is fine!"

    "I don't know about that."

    "Oh come on Hau!" She playfully smacked his arm. "I've known you since you were four. There's been nothing recently! He's going to be okay. It's something else."

    Guess I should just come out with it. He saw that she wasn't going to stop pressing the issue, so he sighed again and stared at her in the eyes. "It's Elio."

    "Elio." Leilani let out a happy sigh, much to the boy's dismay. "What about him?"

    "Do you…um…you know."

    "I'm afraid I don't."

    "Do you like Elio?"

    "What?!"

    "Yeah." Hau softly said. "Do you like Elio?"

    "Of course I like him! How can anyone not?!"

    "That's not what I meant. Do you like him?"

    Silence enveloped the two of them. Leilani's face turned red and she forcibly looked away.

    I guess that means I have no chance. Hau thought sadly to himself. As much as he liked Elio and considered him a brother, it was absolutely heartbreaking to find out that his new best friend was winning over his heartthrob.

    It's not fair. It's just not fair. But I have to remain positive. Gramps always said there's more fish in the sea.

    "I honestly don't know." She said quietly, almost unheard over the sound of the crashing waves. "I really don't."

    Hau nodded.

    Leilani let out a light laugh. "You got me Hau. I do have a crush on him. But what girl wouldn't? He's kind, smart, funny, really good with his Pokémon and incredibly handsome."

    "That's my best friend."

    "Truth is; I don't know if I'm ready to ask someone out or get asked. Dating just seems like something else and I just don't want to mess up. Elio…I…I don't know Hau. Why? Why do you ask?"

    "I'm...I'm just curious. That's all."

    He had never seen Leilani like this. All the time she was bubbly, cheerful and confidant like him whenever it was on her Pokémon journey or surfing. She was that role model to the even younger kids who were more than eager to go out with her whenever she took up a board to surf.

    The worst part was that he had no idea how to console her on the matter. At least any way without revealing his more intimate feelings.

    I have no idea how she would react. Probably in the same manner of not being ready to date. Leilani is my dream girl, but I don't want to rush anything even if she says yes.

    "Well uh…I know that when you do decide to go and date, you'll have no shortage of suitors! And you'll pick the right one."

    Redness crept up on her tanned cheeks as she embarrassingly looked away. "Mahalo Hau."

    He could only stare further into her warm eyes, drawn by their charm for a girl he had continued to harbor a crush for. "And maybe the right one is a lot closer than you think."

    The night passed by too quickly for Elio. A hot shower followed by writing a quick letter to Lillie and sending it off through the Alolan Fearow Courier Service took another exhausting half hour, amplified by the arduous walk back to the Hillcrest Pokémon center.

    There's always room for food. Which was why he was lying on his bed with a stomachache after hungrily returning to the buffet table multiple times.

    I don't want to eat another speck of food for the rest of my life.

    That led to a long night that was complimented to a couple of midnight trips to the bathroom.

    In the morning, he felt hungry, but instead he opted to go out for his morning jog before having something light to eat.

    Liked Hau's image on Festival Plaza, wrote back to Lillie. I don't see him or Leilani here, so I imagine they went on ahead.

    The halemai was relatively quiet in the morning when he finished a breakfast of cage-free eggs, sausage, some really good tasting Parmesan cheese potatoes and a frosty glass of moomoo milk. He noticed that the food from last night and today tasted different and fresh.

    His suspicions were confirmed when a sign indicated that all the food were from local farms close by in Akala Island.

    Kahananui Ranch was among them.

    That's an interesting touch for sure. I'm glad to see Dallas, Jerry and Georgia do their part in helping us trial-goers.

    "Mister Northstar?" He was brought out of his thoughts by the local nurse. "Your Pokémon."

    "Yup. Thanks."

    "Oh and I have a message for you from Mister Kahananui."

    Speaking of which.

    Elio signed for it and slit open the envelope, discarding it into the recycling bin.

    Elio,

    Word has it going around that you've finally passed your trial. One of my students was one of your guides from yesterday. Ho'omaikai'ana my friend. Best of luck on your other trials here on Akala, you'll definitely need it for sure!

    I was wondering if you had some time to talk? I'll be in Royal Avenue around the time of the FBC Pro Day. Come if you can.

    -D

    Elio nodded as he slipped the letter away. Pro Day is the one after tomorrow. I can make it.

    Now I just have to wait for that Aether employee. What can I do to pass the time?

    It was nearly an hour before Elio saw the man walk into the Pokémon center's lobby with a cup of komala coffee in hand. He was busy on his tablet, reading something and absentmindedly sat down at one of the tables close by.

    "Hey!" He had glanced up to see the young boy waving all the way from his seat.

    "Hey." The man looked as if he had a bit of a rough night with some patches of hair disheveled and him burying his face in a hand did little to conceal the evident fatigue. "I remember you. The kid who listened to me about the feebas."

    "Yup." Elio held up her ball. "And lucky for you, I caught one last night."

    The Aether employee's eyes widened and he shot up, nearly spilling his coffee and staining his crisp white uniform. "What? You caught one?"

    "Yeah. Took me two tries and some time, but I got it!"

    "No way."

    "Yes way." Elio brought Rotom 'Dex out and pulled up his Pokédex's feebas page with an additional Poké Ball icon that showed that he had successfully caught one. "I can show her to you if you want."

    "Actually I just really need most of the 'Dex entry. Besides, I don't think that the staff here would appreciate you with an ugly fish flopping around on their commons table."

    Ugly fish huh? "Yeah, that is a good point."

    The Aether employee opened something up on his tablet and typed for a couple of minutes. "So I'll just take your notes and findings of its habitat and submit the report to my boss. Once that's done I can call it a day."

    He stood up and quickly packed his stuff, forming a triumphant fist. "That means I have three days off in a row! Yes! Oh right." Glancing back down at Elio, he dug into his pocket for a wallet. "Forgot about your pay. Here kid. You've earned it."

    Sun went wide eyed at the wad of cash. "Hold on, you're giving me five hundred dollars?!"

    "Yeah. You really saved my skin out there. You can go ahead and release it now."

    Another one about releasing it huh? Is feebas really that undesirable?

    "Release it?"

    "Yeah, hardly anyone really cares about that Pokémon. It's hard to find and doesn't do much."

    Elio nodded. "Yeah some of my other friends told me that when I went to try and catch one to show you. I'm glad I did because I feel it was worth the money. Why all the interest?"

    The employee shrugged. "Could be a dozen different things. Some study my colleagues did was an analysis about their population for some reason their numbers seem to be growing. Its ugly appearance means there are few predators that deem it as food and its meat is substantial, but there's other fish that are better tasting and even more plentiful. Considering all of that, the only thing that we suspect is keeping their numbers from growing is their fertility cycles. The rising population around Brooklet Hill means that either they or something in the environment is affecting their breeding patterns."

    "That's really interesting sir. The Aether Foundation in general seems awesome!"

    "No sir needed. You've just made my day ten times better!"

    "Nice….uh I forgot your name."

    Sun found himself on the receiving end of a smile, the first time he had seen the man do so since meeting him and he stuck out an eager hand. "Call me Jul."

    "Elio."

    Useless Pokémon.

    Ugly as hell.

    All it does is splash around.

    All those words continued to echo in Elio's mind as he trod on the winding path back through Brooklet Hill. Lana was nowhere to be seen and he didn't see any other trial goers around, concluding that the trials were either not being held today or at a different time.

    More wingull flapped overhead, soaring in flocks as they caught the updrafts that carried them along. A group of psyduck played by the water and he saw an entire school of magikarp swimming idly in one of the lagoons. A poliwag stared at the trainer curiously, only to jump back into the pond when he had gotten too close.

    The weather was a sunny contrast to the drenching downpour he had experienced just twenty four hours ago. His pale skin, lathered plentifully with sunblock was kissed by the golden rays, sparkling off the beautiful water from the lagoons and ocean further out.

    He spotted another Pokémon he hadn't seen before. It had a small bluish body with a light blond hair on its top. It skated gracefully across the water's surface as if it were solid on four thin spindly legs.

    "Rotom?" Curiosity got him.

    "Yezz? Oh right! New Pokémon detected! Bzzt! Surskit. Pond skater Pokémon. Surskit in Alola frequently dispute with Dewpider over common food sources. It uses its flexible legs for impressive agility and moves as if it skates over the water. Surskit is a bug and water type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    Interesting.

    He continued down the trail, finally stopping at the same body of water where he had caught the feebas. The place where he had reeled it in with the fishing rod and thrown the net ball was further towards the ocean.

    Elio shook his head, still contemplating the release.

    It's still bothering me. I know why, but this feebas might be better off back where I found it. I captured one and helped Jul out with his research. That's all there was to it.

    He held the net ball in his hand and hit the activation button, causing the hideous Pokémon to emerge into the shallow waters with a flash of light.

    This beach…just like the one in Cerulean City. The one where…Dad released him. Then he started ripping my family apart. Piece by piece.

    Blu.

    Ten-year old Elio tried to fight the newest barrage of tears as he stood by his father's side. They were standing in the wet sand opposite a somber looking vaporeon who pawed the ground in confusion.

    "Blu. Why?" Sun sniffled, still determined to remain strong. Recently his father had begun to say that showing all emotion to others was a form of weakness and people would use that to their advantage. Being young and looking up to the man; Elio took his advice to heart although this moment was threatening to break him down.

    "Vap!"

    "I'm sorry Blu." Calvera held out Blu's Poké Ball in his hand. "The station determined that my actions were enough to have us separated as partners. I have to either turn you back in for reinstatement or release you."

    "Vaporeon."

    "I learned my lesson." His father went on. "I was foolish. Reckless and all those people were depending on me. I let them down with you because my emotions had gotten the best of what I had. That won't happen again. It will never happen again."

    "Dad." Elio glanced up. Calvera was nearly an identical older copy of himself, dark hair and the same shade of steely gray eyes. His jaw and facial complexion were focused like lasers and he could charm an entire room with his smile or fill it with dread with a grim.

    He ignored his son. "So you're free. You're free to go back where you belong Blu. I don't need you anymore."

    "Dad." Elio pleaded, grabbing his pant leg. "Please. I don't Blu to go away."

    "I don't have a choice son." Calvera glanced sadly down at him. "Even if I don't release him, the department has rules that have to separate firefighters and their partner Pokémon. They'd take him away."

    "No! You can't! Blu is my best friend!"

    "Vap!" The vaporeon bounded right back to the two humans. Elio suddenly broke off contact with his father and threw his arms around the Pokémon, clinging fiercely to its side. Blu let out a low whine of sadness, comforting the boy as best he could.

    "Dad please! Don't let Blu go! He can be my Pokémon!"

    "I can't do that son." Calvera squatted down. "Sometimes if we have a weakness…we have to let that thing that causes us our weakness go out of our lives."

    "It's not fair!" Elio protested, still burying his face into Blu's skin. "It's not fair!"

    "You're right. It isn't fair. And I know how much he means to you; which is exactly why we have to let him go."

    "No!" Elio fiercely said. "I won't let him go!"

    He went to a pleading mode, just clinging to a single sliver of hope that maybe his father would change his mind. "Blu is my best friend dad! We do all sorts of fun things together and I don't want to leave him!"

    "It's too late son." Calvera held the open Poké Ball in front of him, removing a tiny device situated at the bottom before he curled his hand into a fist, crushing the capture matrix in it.

    Elio's eyes went wide with horror. "NO! DAD! WHY?!"

    "It's my decision to make son. Now stop crying." Calvera's tone was surprisingly calm as he opened it and let the shattered fragments slowly spill out onto the wet sand. "Say goodbye to Blu now or I'm dragging you to the car."

    "NO DAD! PLEASE DON'T TAKE BLU AWAY FROM ME!"

    "You're showing weakness again."
    "I DON'T CARE!"
    The boy had screamed, uncaring about the insane amount of hot angry tears that streamed from his eyes. "I DON'T CARE ANYMORE ABOUT THAT! YOU TOOK MY BEST FRIEND AWAY FROM ME!"

    Blu let out another sad whine, staring right at Calvera…his longtime partner before finally shutting his own eyes, understanding that nothing was going to change his mind.

    Sun's father cursed under his breath. He had to leave before he started breaking down too.

    "Let's go Elio."

    "NO! I'M NOT LEAVING WITHOUT BLU!"

    "Let's go!" Calvera's tone quickly became snappy and he grabbed Elio's forearm, dragging the bawling boy along. Elio's feet dashed on the sand floor, since he was being pulled at a faster pace than his legs could keep up. A lance of pain shot up his shoulder strong enough to make him visibly wince.

    "Dad stop!" He cried in protest. "You're hurting my arm!"

    It was close to eight in the evening when Elaine had arrived from work. Calvera was in no mood after releasing his Pokémon to make any food and she simply opted for takeout.

    The amazing aroma of custom bento boxes from Tanaka's wafted through the dining area of their Cerulean City home in the Orinda suburb, but strangely Calvera wasn't aware of it. That or he didn't care.

    Elio was nowhere to be seen.

    "Hi sweetie." She cautiously approached him from behind, wrapping her arms around his well defined torso. Calvera was wearing an athletic shirt and black shorts with his head down.

    "Hi." He didn't bother to look up at his wife.

    Elaine set the food on the kitchen counter, now noticing the half-empty bottle of sake seishu liquor and sakazuki glass in front of him. She knew that the colorful red and black label as one of the cheaper brands. It was also the third time in the week she had seen him heartily consume at least a glass.

    "Rough day?"

    "Yeah." He sighed. "Just a lot of things happening with the aftermath."

    "Cal." Elaine leaned forward, reaching across to gently clasp his hand in her two smaller ones. "What's wrong?"

    "It's nothing."

    The curt answer did all but steer away Elaine's curiosity. Ever since the aftermath, she had found her husband to not be the same person. His behavior changed from a man brimming with confidence to someone who seemed hollow, only filled by self-doubt and uncertainty. Calvera grew distant from her and her son. His attempts to make things seem as if everything was completely fine were failing.

    And then there were the drinks. They started out as beer with him bringing home twelve bottle cases and she was mildly surprised when its supply had run out in merely a week. Several weeks ago, it was turning into something much stronger in the form of sake seishu.

    "Cal." She whispered, using his nickname when it was just the three of them. "Cal. It's okay. Please tell me what's wrong."

    "I can't."

    "Yes you can." She leaned across the counter, gently kissing him on the lips. Right upon contact, he made no move to passionately reciprocate like he normally did and she received a strong taste of alcohol from him. This was clearly not the first or third drink he had. "Please love. I'm here for you."

    "I can't." They tenderly broke away and Elaine gave him another deeply concerned glance. "I can't Elaine…I just can't."

    "Where's Elio?"

    "In his room. He already finished his homework."

    While Elaine was certainly happy to hear her son completing all of his school stuff, the fact that Calvera was so nonchalant about it began to set off another alarm.

    "Cal, why was he crying when I came home?"

    Her husband sighed, reaching over to pour himself another glass.

    Elaine was quicker than him, sliding both the tokkuri bottle and sakazuki cup out of his reach. "Please no more Cal. I just want to know why I come home to him crying and you drinking like this."

    "Give me the bottle back."

    "I won't." Her eyes sharpened and a thousand different scenarios began to form in her head. None of them looked very promising. "Cal, you've been drinking for a while now. Please just stop and tell me what's wrong."

    Calvera looked at his wife. Her strong gaze belied something even more vulnerable. Concern, fear and desperation to understand him. She loved their family and would do whatever she could in order to keep it safe and happy.

    Knowing that she wouldn't stop prying and see through a lie of his, he decided to spill the news.

    "I released Blu today."

    Elaine gasped, putting her hands to her mouth. "Cal…what? You released Blu?!"

    He nodded. "Elio and I were beginning to show too much emotional attachment to him. And that's a weakness I won't have anyone exploit."

    "Weakness?" Elaine looked back towards the hallway where Elio was still inside of his room. "What do you mean weakness? You know that Blu has been your partner for as long as you've known me! Plus Elio loves him!" Realization suddenly hit her and her eyes narrowed. "Why would you torment your own son like that?"

    "It's best for everyone Elaine."

    "Best for everyone?!" She couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth. "Because it shows vulnerability?! Weakness?! There was absolutely nothing wrong with the fire department! It's more like best for you! You just released Blu because it was reminding you of everything that happened!"

    Calvera's brow furrowed, a sign that he was getting irritated. Elaine had seen him angry before and it was definitely a very frightening sight. She never thought of herself being scrutinized this way.

    "You know what? Fine! You're right! Blu just reminded me of my failures! And I'll be remembered that way too! Nobody's going to give a damn about my successes, only my failures to ridicule on!"

    "That's not true." Elaine's voice was shaking. "That's not true! I know how good of a firefighter you are! Elio knows! You're his hero! He looks up to you so much in spite of what happened! Now he's sobbing his eyes out because you couldn't look at yourself when his best friend was around!"

    "That's exactly right! And why I had to release him! Elaine, it comes down to weakness! I won't let it get me again. Pokémon friends can be replaced. As much as I hate cats, Elio has other Pokémon for friends like that damn meowth!"

    "Cal…did you ever consider how else releasing Blu was going to affect everyone?" Tears began to pool in her eyes too. Angry tears. "You didn't just cut him out of your life, but Blu touched everyone in this family. He was Amp's mate! A dear friend of mine and the world to Elio! I can't believe that someone with such a selfless profession as yours would end up doing something so selfish and hurtful to your own family!"

    Calvera's voice was now starting to shake as well. "You can't see it right now Elaine, but it was only going to drag me down."

    "You talk all about this weakness Calvera, but I see weakness tenfold with Elio in his room right now."

    She moved forward, putting herself in his arms and burying her face in his neck.

    "Cal…please. Help me understand what is wrong! I want to help you, but I can't if you're going to keep me out! Please just go back to the man, the husband and father that we loved! I love you…I love you so much! Please!"

    "No. I have to do this by myself."

    Elaine separated from him and stared at him with wide disbelieving eyes.

    "It's the alcohol…isn't it? You've been drinking all of this to escape the reality and cutting ties with your Pokémon and family because you don't think you're worthy to live with yourself right now. I can't help or support you if you're not willing to change or let me listen to you."

    She moved away, now seeing that the time was far too late to enjoy a dinner. Tears streamed out of her eyes, not just for Blu, but how what a possible simple night that could've had plenty of happiness turned so sour in an instant.

    Shaking her head and wishing she had seen the signs earlier; Elaine closed the fridge and walked right past him.

    "I'm taking Elio to school tomorrow and once that's done, I'm telling my father to pick him up and have him stay there over the weekend while we sort this out. He doesn't deserve to see or hear any of this and there's no way he will be staying in this house if you're going to drink as much as you did today."

    "You better not tell your father about anything!" Calvera snarled.

    "Oh really?" Elaine's face flashed with defiance. "You really think that Elio or I would keep something like this bottled up merely in the household?"

    "If you know what's best for you, then you'll shut up."

    "That's not happening." She turned tail. "I'm going to bed. I've had a long day today and one that will probably be just as long and stressful tomorrow no thanks to you."

    Calvera shook his head, still unable to comprehend anything his wife had said to him thanks to the white hot anger burning through his head.

    "Bitch." He murmured. "I'm getting the final say."

    Elaine was halfway to her bedroom when she felt Calvera's strong arms grab her from behind. She gasped, unsure if it was from the surprise or the sensual feeling she was experiencing as her intoxicated husband began to brand her neck with his hot lips.

    "Cal stop!" She firmly said, trying to wrestle out of his grip, but he kept a firm hand on her arm, pinning it close to him so that she couldn't escape. Her second protest was silenced by another sigh and she cursed herself for turning into putty since he knew where and how to intimately please her.

    "You want me to turn back into the man you loved?" His voice had taken something else in tone. It was a very husky, animalistic one that would've been alluring in any other scenario. For the first time ever since marrying him; Elaine felt the icy flow of fear beginning to flood her veins.

    "Then I'll do that."

    Calvera hungrily captured Elaine's lips, overloading her with the disorienting sensation of alcohol that threatened to spell her with insane dizziness. His incredibly strong frame firmly pushed her back to their bedroom where she found herself shoved down onto their king sized mattress.

    He pounced on her like a stalking arcanine, barely giving her enough time to breathe. There was no way she was going to be able to fight back or resist. The alcohol controlling her husband had become a dominant force that she was powerless to stop. Everything felt completely foreign, as the man that she loved invaded her without relent.

    Her only hope through it all was hoping that Elio was asleep through all of it.

    Hours had passed, but Elio hadn't kept track of it. He had started hearing both of his parents yelling angrily at one another before it abruptly stopped and they passed by his bedroom into theirs. A few muffled sounds had come from it, but he had been too tired to investigate and thus crawled into his bed to sleep.

    The other Pokémon that commonly resided in the house, Meowth was also wondering where his dear friend Blu was located. After a tear filled revelation by the young boy, he hugged the scratch cat Pokémon close, crying constantly into his fur.

    Losing Blu was just too much for the little boy to handle and he sniffled and wailed himself softly to sleep.

    What scared him the most wasn't losing his best friend.

    It was his father. The firm determination in his eyes to separate the two of them and then grabbing his arm, forcefully pulling him back to the car. Elio had never seen his father so livid and angry before and it frightened him. It was a new experience from the other times when he had gotten stern about something trivial in nature. This occasion seemed like he was trying to deliberately hurt Elio.

    Even when Calvera commanded the boy to go to his room and do his homework, he was already halfway there, not wanting to experience any further bouts of anger.

    The door to his bedroom creaked open. Being a little sensitive to sound that night caused him to shoot up, quaking with a bit of fear that it was his father coming back to yell at him.

    "Elio?" A big rush of relief coursed through him as he heard the softer soothing voice of his mother.

    "M-mom."

    "Hi there my little angel. I'm so sorry I wasn't able to get you something to eat."

    "It's okay Mom." Elio softly said. "I'm not hungry anyway."

    Elaine knew that he had a loss of an appetite whenever he was very upset about something. Normally she'd at least encourage him to eat at least some substance, but considering everything that had happened over the night, she brushed it aside.

    His arms instinctively reached out and she took him in, holding his shaking form close in an attempt to keep him calm. In spite of hearing close to nothing, he had fussed and worried nonstop because neither of his parents were close by to provide any hint whatsoever or tell him what all was happening.

    Elio would never realize for a long time that the symbolic embrace between mother and son that night was just as comforting to her as it was him.

    "Mom?" He saw the look of worried fear etched on her face. "Are you okay? What's going on between you and Dad?"

    Elaine's heartstrings felt like they were going to snap. He had no idea that such an innocent question could possibly lead to her breaking down. She felt it too; how their family structure she had thought was impregnable…now crumbling into powder between her fingers.

    It was the way he stared at her with that same innocent eyes and facial complexion. He had truly inherited most of his father's physical traits. She was almost staring at an identical younger copy of her intoxicated husband.

    Both of his parents had that silent vow to protect him from any threat either external or internal. Elaine was now starting to wonder if the boy's father was beginning to become the newest one.

    "Your father and I," she swallowed, trying her best to find a positive from the roughly handled "conversation" they had in the bedroom. "Your father is having a very hard time right now okay?"

    He nodded, still not understanding everything. "Is it because of Blu?"

    Elaine nodded, now seeing the tears and sadness from Elio of how the vaporeon's absence really affected him. "Maybe sweetheart. But I think we should give him some space."

    "Okay. But Dad didn't come tuck me into bed."

    "I don't think he will be able to." Elaine had made certain that Calvera's alcohol induced deep sleep wouldn't rouse him awake while she went to console her son. "I'll be taking you to school tomorrow and your grandfather is going to pick you up. You'll stay with him for the weekend."

    "Mom." Elio always enjoyed staying with his grandfather, but was still wondering why. "Are you and Dad fighting over something?"

    "Elio."

    "If you're fighting, I don't want it to last. I liked it better when you and Dad were happy."

    "Me too. We will talk about this another time okay?" She leaned down and gave him a tender kiss on the forehead. "Goodnight my little angel. I love you."

    "Goodnight Mom I love you too." He lay back down, waiting quietly for his mother to leave. Once she was gone, he sat up and bowed his head, facing the ocean and his best friend.

    "Goodnight Blu. I love you."

    Elio glanced down at the capture matrix in his hand, nearly in an identical moment that he had been six years ago during his meltdown after the loss of his best friend.

    Feebas was swimming around just in front of him curiously, still relatively unaware of the dilemma that her new trainer was going through.

    If I were to release Feebas…how would this be different than when Dad released Blu?

    There was a wide margin of things to consider. Feebas was a relatively weak fish that he had just captured. Many people, including Leilani and Jul, the Aether employee had already discouraged him from adding it to his team. The shabby, mottled appearance of the fish deemed it undesirable, which was a likely culprit on why their numbers were starting to rise. Its apparent ugliness was another means that most predators avoided it.

    Blu in comparison had been his longtime friend. As a young boy, Elio and he did everything together. Play around in their backyard, swim at the community pool. One of his favorite things was to "pretend" battle, doubling as a means to exercise him in his fire suppressing attacks like water gun. Sun had wanted for the longest time to be his trainer whenever his dad decided to retire.

    Dad had so much going for him. His hat was in the ring for the station's chief…he just had to let the pressure of everything drag him down.

    Will I cave too? Will something come up and I can't meet those expectations?

    Feebas circled the shallows and emerged with half her body above the water. Her white beaded eyes glanced curiously at her trainer. While she may have never known what it was about, the creature had enough to understand that its species were not a favored Pokémon because of their mangy looks.

    She couldn't help it. She couldn't just change species and be done with it.

    Elio found her staring at him and it was just like seeing the desperation on Blu's face when he and his father were abandoning him all those years ago.

    Feebas may be a useless Pokémon, but I can't just abandon it. I worked so hard to catch it and got some money, but it would just be selfish of me to dispose of her once she's served her purpose. I can't...I just can't.

    Would it remain useless forever? Some Pokémon do have hidden potential.

    Feebas' becalming gaze told him everything. In spite of that ugliness, he found the Pokémon strangely able to subconsciously suppress his angst and sadness with a newfound determination.

    I see it now. Elio thought to himself. If I don't give up on you, then you won't give up on me.

    He slowly slipped the capture matrix back into her net ball, the matter decided. "Feebas, return."

    Sun's next destination highlighted by Rotom was the illustrious Royal Avenue. Located at the heart of Akala Island, it was among the most popular areas for tourists visiting the island region.

    The district was a large portion of the town called Pa'ani and the tourism industry had dominated so much of it that it was rarely ever called by its name, going instead to; Royal Avenue or simply the Avenue.

    Elio did manage to catch a glimpse at the visitor's area in the Tide Song Hotel when he met up with Lillie. Like many of the resorts had in their lobbies, there was a large shelf that held dozens and dozens of brochures depicting so many different things to do at various points around the Island. Compared to Melemele, Akala seemed to have fewer manufacturing firms, instead relying on its alluring tourist market to provide its industry. And it was only a fraction of what other fun things that could be done.

    The highway roared with cars on the midday traffic and he spotted a sign up ahead while trudging on the walkway that Royal Avenue was going to be another couple miles east…to his left.

    Don't think about Feebas right now. I made the right call. Just get to Royal Avenue…Dallas is waiting for us and Ed needs me as the man behind him. It's going to be great.

    Sun saw that the path up ahead was abruptly blocked off with a solid wall line. For some strange and inscrutable reason, it seemed to move minutely.

    Definitely odd for an inanimate object.

    The wall's height was still another head taller and he couldn't really see a way around by circling or leaping over.

    Maybe I can smash my way through. Except none of my Pokémon know rock smash.

    Torracat's double kick it is.

    "Elio!"

    Lana ran right up to greet him and skidded to a halt, bending over and putting her hands on her knees, breathing heavily.

    "Lana." He smiled, before it turned to something more concerned. "Are you okay?"

    "Y-yeah." She huffed with exhaustion. "Sorry. I forgot to tell you that there is a Pokémon called sudowoodo that likes to block the way for trial goers down to Royal Avenue at times. Looks like they're at it again."

    A very soft "Pilikia." Was muttered under her breath.

    "These are sudowoodo?" Elio peered closer, now knowing what they looked like.

    It made so much more sense now. He spotted their slender trunks and thin arms with three bulbous fingers at the end. A pair of small legs moved subtly about while most of their faces were devoid of any expressions at all.

    They look like bonsai trees.

    "New Pokémon detected! Bzzt!" Rotom buzzed in front before shuffling his screen to show off his most recent entry. "Sudowoodo. Imitation Pokémon. It is the evolved form of bonsly. A particular favorite among collectors and the elderly, there is a magazine devoted to this Pokémon over the length and angles of its arms. Sudowoodo with greener fingertips are considered more valuable. While it can easily camouflage itself in a green forest, it can easily be exposed as a fake in the wintertime. Sudowoodo is a rock type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "So they like to make a treeline just to screw with trial goers or something?"

    Lana laughed. "I guess so. For some reason they like this particular spot and every time I clear them out, they're right back at it causing pilikia. You'd think they would know better by now."

    "So uh, how do you get them out of the way?"

    "Easy." The trial captain pulled out a Poké Ball. "Shellder come on out!"

    The device exploded open to reveal a relatively small Pokémon. Its shell was a dark purple shade with a few spikes and spines lining its smooth surface. The two halves were barely open showing a pair of large white eyes and a long pink tongue that stuck out from the crack. In the broad daylight, Elio still couldn't see what the creature looked like inside.

    "Another new Pokémon?! Thizz izz awezome! Everything izz awesome! Shellder. Bivalve Pokémon. Its shell is extremely hard and ancient Alolans often used it to make heavy shields and armor during times of war. Shellder's tongue can dig through the seabed with great dexterity for filter-feeding and will remain stuck out even when closed. Yanking the tongue can cause it to open its shell back up. Shellder is a water type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "One way to get sudowoodo out is to realize that their biggest fear is water."

    Lana slid a familiar Z-crystal onto the ring on her left arm. "And now that we've got a waterium Z, it's time we show those sudowoodo what happens when they block the path!"

    The crystal in the ring was activated and it began to emit a harsh glow. In contrast to the whitish effect from the normalium Z that he had, this one was a bright blue, flashing an icon of a teardrop before vanishing. That same brilliant energy erupted from the ring, curling through the air to surround Shellder. Its eyes narrowed as it absorbed the intensive boost.

    Lana formed an X with her arms, then performing the waving motions to her left and finishing the pose on her right side.

    "Shellder!" She shouted, "Let's show them the potential of your Z-Power!"

    "Su?" One of the fake trees glanced with unease at the spectacle unfolding in front of it.

    Slowly, more and more of the sudowoodo in the path blockade started to watch with fearful expressions.

    "Go Shellder! Channel your water gun into HYDRO VORTEX! Z-Move unleash!"

    "WOODO!" Just moments before the bivalve Pokémon let loose with its ultimate attack, one of the tree imposters let out a earsplitting cry, jumping up and flailing its limbs about. It broke the wall's integrity, sprinting behind the rest of its comrades further into the thicket of trees.

    It didn't take long for the rest of its gang to follow suit and the pathway had been cleared within seconds.

    "Shellder stop!" Lana cried, hitting her Z-ring to abort the powerful move. Her Pokémon complied, dissipating the amount of excess energy stored up within her frame.

    "Wow. That seemed pretty easy. They were scared no doubt."

    "Heh," Lana giggled. "It never gets old and they never learn. By the way, did you happen to show that person that Feebas of yours?"

    Elio nodded. "I was gonna release her once that was done."

    Lana saw his expression grow distant and she knew that there was more to the story than what he let on. "And?"

    He solemnly stared at the ground in front of him. "And I changed my mind. I just couldn't do it."

    The trial captain looked even more curious at his musings, but he cut her off with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I grew up with daddy issues. It's no big deal."

    "I know." Lana sweetly put a hand on his shoulder. "Leilani told me. E kala mai iaʻu."

    I know what that means. "Mahalo, nui loa."

    "I know that your father may have given up on you, but you did the right thing in keeping her. It may not seem like it right now, but if you raise Feebas right; she'll pay you back in spades. I remember seeing one for the first time back with a man from Hoenn. He had named her Minerva."

    "Thanks Lana. Alohaʻoe i ka nui mai iāʻoe."

    This earned him a deep red blush from the trial captain. "Well I bid you Alola Elio. I'll be cheering for you on your island challenge!"

    "Right." Elio turned to her, offering a hand. "Thanks a lot Lana. You've been a big help."

    "It's my pleasure." Instead of taking his shake, she slowly moved forward and enveloped him in a hug. "E kōkua mau au i kahi hoaaloha."

    After parting ways with Lana, Elio continued down the trail, walking for a good hour and stopping for a quick break around each twenty minute mark. Similar to the rest of the day, the sun's heat beat down on the island, forming sweat under his brow. Soon enough, he felt his scalp become itchy and he took off his 'Canes hat to douse his long hair with a spray of water to cool him off.

    I keep forgetting how ungodly humid it is out here. That was really what made the heat index pretty high all the time. Elio had been to a steam room when on his recovery period after basketball workouts and the entirety of the steamy air was completely oppressive.

    Here in Alola it was the same way. And he knew that not all homes here were air conditioned like back in Kanto.

    I have to thank Mom later for making sure we have a good running unit. I don't know what I'd do without one.

    Another nice luxury he had taken for granted, especially in the summer months.

    The path snaked to the left, now showing that the highway featured an exit that allowed heavy traffic to pass on the road into a large open space. Sun could see a massive dome structure in the distance that had bright gray metal columns crisscrossing in a trestle format surrounding the main building.

    A growl of some Pokémon also caught his attention and he rushed forward, seeing a little bit of a commotion.

    Oh fantastic. These guys again.

    Two familiar black and silver uniforms of Team Skull grunts stood at the path's entrance, clearly up to nothing good. Standing opposite her was a short girl, roughly a head below him in dirty brown clothes. She wore a purple bonnet that covered the top of her hair, letting two bushy braids fall out from either side. A small sash hung out from beside her hip.

    Next to her was a large brown equine Pokémon similar to a rapidash. In contrast, its hooves looked sturdier and its elegant mane of fire was replaced with shiny dark hair hanging in ropes that flowed down the side of the neck. Its height was also much bigger, easily almost twice the size of him and the girl. Between the two groups, he could see the familiar balloon shape of a driftloon, floating over to her side with a frightened expression on her face.

    "Yo, yo girlie!" One of the grunts said waving his arms in that silly dance. Elio wanted to laugh at its ridiculousness every time, but kept it to himself. "Don't ya go turnin' ya backside on us! Y'hear?!"

    One of them noticed Elio and his eyes went wide behind the slit between his white cap and bandanna covering his face. "And it's you again! Ya that numskull trainer on dat stupid island challenge from Melemele yo!"

    "The island challenge is called a challenge for a reason." The girl stated firmly, turning around. "You there trainer! Will you be willing to assist me?"

    "Sure!" The answer came from Rotom first as he nearly jumped right out of Elio's back, floating in between them. "Right after I give another recording of a new Pokémon! Mudsdale. Draft horse Pokémon. It is the evolved form of mudbray. Mudsdale's endurance is second to none, able to pull ten ton loads for three days and nights nonstop. Its spit creates a special kind of mud when mixed with dirt that provides an incredible resistance to wind and rain, popular insulation for frontier homes. Mudsdale is a ground type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Yo put dat talkin' cellphone away. It's annoyin' the hell outta me!"

    At the mention of the familiar device, Rotom stopped and turned around, now suddenly having glowing reddish eyes and a furious expression on its normally playful screen.

    "Why doezzz EVERYONE have to call me a talking cellphone! I am nothing like that lower lifeform!"

    "Well you kind of are," Elio said, breaking that tense moment. "You take my calls. Take pictures…behind my back I might add, give me information and can look up stuff on the internet."

    "Don't you dare zay it! Bzzt!"

    "You my cell phone!" Elio said bursting out laughing. "A talking cell phone that's a pain in the butt!"

    "Careful! Bzzt!"

    "Alright I kid…I kid." He waved it off. "Calm down."

    "Nobody zayz Rotom izzz a cellphone again! You all hear? Bzzt!"

    "These scoundrels here are Pokémon thieves." The girl said after Rotom's irritated rant had worn off. "Are you on familiar terms with them?"

    Sun nodded, quickly finding another way to jab at the duo. "Yup. They made good target practice for my Pokémon."

    "Yo what?!" It had the desired effect and angered the two grunts. "We ain't no target practice for anybody!"

    "Then explain how I took both your Pokémon down with one attack at the berry farms."

    "I…I."

    "Heh." Elio snickered. "When you're doing that, it means you're stalling to find some excuse that neither of us will buy."

    "I wouldn't buy anything they come up with as long as they continue to steal Pokémon and make life miserable for the rest of us." The girl stepped forward. "It's a pleasure to meet you trainer. My name is Hapu. Hapu Encarnación. I must say you two, life in the big Hau'oli City sure is something else. Thieves and crooks roam about brazenly. Miles and I have this one and I shall leave that one to you."

    "What?! We ain't no thieves yo! It's a legit business!" The second grunt said, waving his arms again. "We're too legit!"

    "TOO LEGIT TO QUIT! YO!"

    "Whatever," his partner added. "Anyway, this stupid trainer screwed us from Melemele and the kahuna exiled us out, so now we gotta build back up in Akala! But we ain't goin' out like that."

    The first grunt turned to Elio as his partner released a zubat to face Hapu and her Mudsdale, now named Miles. He could only watch amused as the tiny creature attempted to use wing attack on the massive horse, only to receive a pair of battering double kicks from hooves with enough force that sent it careening right back at the grunt's horrified feet at seemingly little effort.

    "I'm still winnin' yo!" The skull facing Elio tossed out a long purple and gold snake Pokémon, who coiled around and hissed threateningly.

    Rotom beat him before he could "New Pokémon detected! And maybe I can finish my information without being called one of thozze lower lifeformzzz known as cellphonezzz! Hint! Hint! Ekans. Snake Pokémon. Ekans' favorite food is the eggs of small bird Pokémon. It is also capable of consuming prey larger than itself by dislocating its jaw voluntarily. After swallowing a large meal, it slithers into a safe spot to rest and allow its body to break down the food. Ekans is a poison type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Let's go Charjabug!"

    "Ekans, start out with a mad poison sting!"

    The creature hissed, opening its mouth and firing a pair of barbs at his battery Pokémon. Charjabug had taken the hit, not being very mobile enough to avoid it incoming.

    "Charge beam!" With impressive grace, the snake sprung out of the way, closing in quickly and encircling her with his longer body.

    Elio heard her let out a pained cry as the wrap attack began to slowly whittle at her health. It sensed that she was beginning to weaken, doubling his efforts.

    "Spark!"

    "Quick, get off it!"

    Ekans had been just a tad too slow, as Charjabug immediately cloaked herself in brilliant sparks of electricity, hurling her entirety at it. The attack collided, knocking it down.

    When the ekans recovered, Elio saw that a few stray arcs of electricity were dancing across its scaly skin.

    Paralyzed. Perfect.

    And then to his horror, he saw that the creature's skin became clear. Ekans effortlessly slithered out, leaving a molted shell behind that remained upright while it coiled back up to face Charjabug, completely free of the paralysis condition.

    What?

    "That izzz ekans' ability shed skin. It allowz it to heal itself from ztatuz conditionz over time."

    "Good to know."

    "Ekans, use bite yo!"

    Elio pointed, "Charge beam. Into the mouth!"

    As the creature lunged, jaws widening for a fanged attack, she gathered electrical energy again in between her mandibles, more than enough thanks to some being previously stored on the prior one. It didn't take long for her to reach her optimal strength and the shot threaded its way right into the maw of the snake's large mouth. Ekans was blown back in a pop of smoke, collapsing the moment it hit the ground.

    "What just happened yo?!" The grunt shook his head in disbelief after recalling his defeated Pokémon. "We can't be takin' all these losses! We just gonna anger our bosses!"

    "Yeah. It ain't fair at all. Tears taste like salt! It's all your fault!"

    "Salty much?" Elio made a sprinkling motion as if seasoning some food.

    "Ni-hiii!" A loud neigh from the mudsdale startled everyone…except for Hapu.

    She stepped protectively in front of the scared driftloon. "So what do you say Miles? We stomp these scoundrels? I will be a mess to clean up afterward, but I am willing if you are!"

    "Ni-hii!" Miles took a menacing step forward, causing the skulls to stagger back.

    "Yeah it's time for us to break out yo! Gotta tell y'all peace out yo!"

    "I totally agree B!" Grunt "A" said before turning to Elio. "I ain't gonna tell you this anymore…except when I tell you this! Ya better listen to what my homie G says and drill it into dat thick skull of yours! Ya better stay outta our way trainer! Otherwise ya and your friends are gonna get hurt real bad!"

    "Try me."

    All that earned him was a very appreciative gesture in the form of a middle finger before the two grunts quickly ran off down the path. They would most likely be going to cause mischief somewhere else.

    Next to him, Hapu let out a relieved sigh before crouching down to the driftloon's level. "Hey there. No need to be scared anymore. Will you be fine getting back to your trainer? Or shall Miles and I escort you home?"

    "Floo-on!" The small ghost type waved its small arms happily before turning back to Royal Avenue and floating towards the groups of buildings.

    I do hope it gets where it needs to go.

    "That driftloon…I'm happy she is confident enough to go home on her own. Those skulls took her from her trainer at Royal Avenue just an hour ago and I couldn't stand by to watch it happen. So I tracked them here and thankfully you were here to lend me a hand. Mahalo for that."

    Elio nodded. "You are right. I've seen them more and more often around Alola. They're nothing but a pain in the rear."

    "Perhaps. Say trainer; give me your name…especially since I have given you mine."

    "It's Elio." He stuck his hand out. "My mother calls me Sun and you can say whichever."

    "Elio is nice. It's quite a fine name indeed. And you handled yourself very well in battle."

    "Ni-hii." The mudsdale behind her stepped forward, reaching out with her head and gently nuzzling the boy.

    Elio laughed. "It's nice to meet you too!"

    "Miles here and I are wandering about Alola, trying to achieve our goals. It is possible we may meet again in the future someday. I am indebted to you for your aid after all."

    "I'd like that." And he did. He liked this Hapu character. "And there's no need to pay me back. I'm just doing what any trainer should do."

    "At least let me return the favor for you. I may not have anything at the moment that can be useful, but I will think of something."

    "Ni-hii!" Miles neighed.

    "Ah yes. Just down the road here is Royal Avenue with its most famous event as the Battle Royale. You may want to try your hand at a Royale or two. Seeing how strong you are, Miles here thinks that you can be well suited for it."

    "I'll keep that in mind."

    "Kamaha'o!" Hapu exclaimed before she reached up on Miles to pull down a strap. A large spot on her back unfolded to reveal a neat looking saddle that was firmly set in her center body. "Then it is time I bid you Alola!"

    "Alola!"

    With an incredible jump that he didn't think was possible for her size, Hapu scaled Miles' side, sitting firmly on the saddle and gently trotting off.

    Elio watched them as they vanished into the distance before turning back to the big entertainment area and resuming his journey towards it.

    Whew. Didn't expect this to bang into a 12k long chapter! I hope everyone enjoyed it and we're about to go to Royal Avenue, where I've got a handful of things planned!

    Translations:

    • nā manaʻo - Feelings (typically intimate)
    • Pilikia - Troublesome
    • E kala mai iaʻu - I am sorry
    • Mahalo nui loa - Thank you very much
    • Alohaʻoe i ka nui mai iāʻoe - That means a lot to me
    • E kōkua mau au i kahi hoaaloha - I will always help a friend
    • Kamaha'o - Splendid!

    As always thank you for reading and reviewing. You give my writing purpose. See you guys next time.

    Brav
     
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  2. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Crown of ValorPoké Ball ★
    Okay! Alola everyone! Brav coming back to deliver the next update for A Hui Hou Kakou!

    So there's a lot I intended to cover coming into Royal Avenue and my original thought process was to squeeze it into just two chapters. It looks like that won't be the case as it's turning out to be a lot longer than expected. Nevertheless, I'm very eager to get to the Fire trial going. The gist of it has already been written since I wanted to strike while the iron was hot! (No pun intended) Of course, I'll have to do some adjustments because there's a chance that something else might happen...like a different totem Pokémon Elio has to fight.

    So bear with me for these next handful of chapters before the next trial. Trust me, I'm just as eager to get there as you.

    Opting to try something different since I'm going to be busy this entire day and wouldn't be able to get this chapter sent out the door until even later. So this chapter was updated through the wesbite's app. All edits were done beforehand and it was ready to go over the weekend. Hope it turns out good.


    Let's get started.

    Seemed like Elio has reached Royal Avenue! It's a big huge entertainment section of Akala Island and even bigger than anything Hau'oli City has! You can go see anything here from fancy water shows to the world famous Battle Royal matches! I hear it pays homage to how the four most important gods of Alola, the Tapu deities competed against each other to determine who was the strongest.

    I think Battle Royal is unique to the Alola region and the rules are pretty simple. Instead of having two trainers face off against one another; there are four who are competing to defeat the other three. Battles are predetermined on the number of Pokémon used with the minimum of one and a maximum of three with it being the most common. The match ends when there is only one trainer left and all others are unable to use any Pokémon.

    Easy right? Heh…totally wrong! While it is important to have your Pokémon in good condition, you also need to be able to score defeats on your opponents! You will receive three points per Pokémon surviving and two for each one you score the knockout blow! Having strong attacking Pokémon means that you will likely be targeted quickly by the others and having more defense means that they would ignore you, costing points. You have to find a fine balance in order to succeed.

    How do I know all of this? Well, I happen to be in the company of one of Battle Royal's most famous contestants to grace the stage. The Masked Royal! Very few people know his secret identity including me, but he's super famous! They even talked about making some superhero TV series about him, but I guess he declined. Professor Kukui is his agent or spokesperson and said that the Royal will be exclusive to the Royal Dome.

    What's cool about the Battle Royal was that a lot of the matches are televised, along with a bunch of other things around there! I knew that the Royal was going to make an appearance and I hoped to catch Elio on there too! He was showing Hau about an exhibition battle, through brief with Hala…and Gladion.

    Gladion.

    I can't believe it…I can't…Brother…he's okay!

    I am so relieved! I heard nothing about his whereabouts, on what island or even…even if he was still on Alola until just two days ago! But I'm trying so hard not to cry right now. He had left those two years ago without even saying goodbye…every night I looked out to the stars and prayed to the Tapu that they would be watching over him.

    And they were.

    I didn't see Elio participate, but I heard that the Pro Day thing is going to happen after the day's Battle Royal matches. I'll stay watching to see if I can see him in action. It'll be different than looking at tapes a couple years ago.

    Dear Elio,

    I'm very glad you're going to be playing with Ed! I wish nothing but the best of luck to the both of you!

    So apparently I heard that lots of stuff is being broadcasted around that part of Akala Island! Maybe I'll be lucky and get to see you do something! I don't like battling as you may know, but I know you will do your best for yourself and your Pokémon. I know you don't know much about Battle Royal, but I can actually teach you the rules if you want! I've got one of the best teachers in that!

    It's also nice that you get to do what I did, show a newcomer around Alola. Just remember to watch out for Team Skull okay?

    Nebby's been a little upset lately. I think it misses you.

    And I do too.

    I miss you.

    Sincerely,

    Lillie

    Gladion let out another deflated sigh as he stalked back through one of the many pathways lining Royal Avenue.

    The namesake street was located at the heart of the small town called Pa'ani. With a population of around ten thousand, it was in central Akala Island home to a large highway that connected the isle's eastern rural side and the major cities on the west. While neither serving Heahea or Konikoni city directly, the large international airport, named after famous kahuna Kamehameha provided a healthy flow of travelers going to and from here as well as both cities.

    Many lamp posts lining the sides of the walkways had colorful banners showing off a golden circle with a cartoonish representation of the Royal Dome. Neatly trimmed gardens and hedges kept the central entertainment district of Alola in good impression. Flitting about were several other wild Pokémon species such as cutiefly, cottonee and oricorio all jockeying against one another in competition for the flower nectar in the flowerbeds.

    Gladion paid them no attention, calmly walking forward and avoiding eye contact with anyone he crossed paths with. Having his hood up and hands jammed into his pockets was already enough to send a message that he did not want to speak to anyone, nor anyone to speak to him.

    Deep down, it did feel good when people moved out of his way when he approached. The notion gave him a sense of authority he didn't know he had. At one point, he saw a very concerned mother pull her two daughters away even though they weren't directly in his path.

    Can't exactly be good and all. He thought to himself. They're not moving aside because you're important. They're doing it because they're afraid you'll get angry.

    These people are not worth angering over and they think I'm some criminal. I'm not. Just don't mess with me. I'll show them.

    Alola was generally a safe place. Crime rates were significantly lower than the "mainland" regions to the east and west most likely due to the few, but strong police presence on the islands. It was also an unspoken but widely known thing that violating many laws did attract a lot of unwanted attention and could even anger the island tapu. Defying the law meant defying the deity itself. There was no way to prove how true it was, but the so-called empty threat did its job.

    That didn't mean that crime was nonexistent. As small as Alola was, there was its fair share of shady areas where dissidents often schemed into roping that one wayward tourist into robbery, either by force or even scams. Homicides? Incredibly rare. It was kept to a minimum nonetheless because even crooks knew how important the tourism industry was to the region. And nobody wanted to go to a place where it was certain they were to be mugged.

    The latest and largest crime syndicate to hit the Alolan streets was the same one he worked for as an enforcer. That was his title, although it was more like a go-fer errand boy. Much like the various trial goers had found out, they were much less competent when it came to battling and actually fighting than talking about it in a bunch of hot air. Still, the fear spread to most non-trainers and they were quick to either comply or flee to the police. If it was the latter, the thugs would disappear quickly.

    Go buy goddamn potions, full heals, revives. All the goddamn day. All of those seem to be in high demand all the damn time. If they actually think about training their Pokémon to hold their own in a fight, I wouldn't have to go to the marts buying things in bulk and they'd save money. I might get paid more too...fat chance though.

    He passed the section full of restaurants and food tents lined with throes of people where the smell of cheap fried foods assailed his nose enough to make him gag. Stopping to purchase a bottle of water, he gulped it down and continued on his way towards the large dome structure lying on the north end of the town and in the main street.

    Once a week.

    Once a week I actually have time to come and hone my skills to get stronger. In order to get stronger, I have to keep fighting different trainers. It's the only way.

    "Hmph." He grumbled out loud, rolling his eyes at the fancy display and giant posters of famous Royal battlers that adorned the sides of the giant arena. "Why do I do this? Every time something drags me down, I end up coming right here back again."

    Then let's see who I get to face today.

    "C'mon Null." On his belt, a special Poké Ball quivered in response. "Let's go and bury our sorrow in the crowd and beat everyone who stands before us."

    Elio had to admit that it was nice actually seeing a town for once.

    Sure, he loved Paniola with its old style Western theme and connection to agriculture, but seeing modern city buildings that didn't look like they were built when his great-grandfather was learning how to walk was a welcome change.

    Tall buildings of fancy hotels were close to the large dome and right off the main street. Another circular ramp curled around busy with traffic, connecting everything to Kamahameha Airport in the southwest section.

    While he knew that tourists frequented Alola, this was another hotspot for their congregation. Although still technically new to Alola himself, he found figuring out the difference between a local and foreigner was starting to get easier.

    Am I still considered a haole?

    He had two things mainly on the agenda.

    Today was the Pro Day, the exhibition skills show off for the Federal Basketball Cup league owners and talent scouts who would be coming to get a first look at some of the prospects and entrants into the draft held in a couple of weeks. It was also an opportunity for them to get their first taste of the publicity they would be under when finally becoming a professional player.

    Ed had texted him the address and he wasn't scheduled to go on the court until later in the day, so he opted for Elio to come to his hotel room to catch up, maybe go for lunch somewhere.

    The second one was meeting up with Dallas Kahananui. He was going to be at the Pokémon center for another hour since work at the ranch was demanding him to return.

    Elio opted to go to the center first. Thankfully for him, Ed was understanding and replied back he would see him later.

    Royal Avenue's Pokémon center was much larger than some of the others, namely the ones in Paniola Town and Hillcrest. The lobby's reception desk had three nurses on duty instead of one and it was much busier. The patrons were a mix of locals and tourists, with the latter looking a little surprised at how much effort had been put into the facilities to make the trainer just as comfortable as the Pokémon.

    People still smiled and gave the friendly Alola wave as he passed. He hadn't the opportunity to heal his Pokémon, so he had left it with one of the reception nurses before finally spotting Dallas sitting at one of the barstools of the café. Next to him on the floor were Troy and Rockruff, chowing down on bowls of feed.

    As he approached, the little tiny puppy perked right up, its expression lighting the entire center. It let out joyful yips and tore right away from its bowl, bounding right over to the boy's arms.

    "Rockruff!" Elio smiled kneeling down. The Pokémon jumped forward, nearly knocking him over with an impressive amount of force. "It's good to see you buddy."

    Another low bark caught his attention and Troy ambled over, nuzzling him with his snout.

    "Hey Troy. I missed you too."

    Dallas turned around and nodded his head, a thin smile gracing his masculine features. "Ah Elio. It's good to see ya."

    "Same." He stood up and accepted the firm handshake. "Sorry I'm so late. Had those Skull numnuts to deal with."

    "Ah know what ya mean. Couple of 'em tried to break into the nursery for eggs again, but they have no skills in entering quietly, if ya know what ah mean."

    "Yup."

    "They tend to skedaddle pretty quick when ya show up with a growlin' Troy and a twelve gauge shotty in ya hands."

    Elio paled just slightly. "Wait you'd shoot someone?"

    "Many of the farms around here provide a lotta food and supplies to Alola. Ya screwin' with a lot of people if ya interfere and many of us aren't afraid to pull the trigger if we feel our property is threatened."

    "Okay makes sense. So just don't go trespassing at night."

    "Basically. But ya need not worry 'bout that. Ya always welcome to Kahananui Ranch."

    Okay that's a relief.

    "Welcome to the café." The attendant had come over to him when he sidled up to the barstool. "What can I do for you today?"

    "Tapu cocoa. I'll take the twenty ounce." It had quickly become his favorite drink. Something else came to mind, especially with the locals. "Akala Maika'i style please."

    That had earned an appreciative smile from the attendant as he went off to make the drink.

    "Not bad kid." Dallas complimented, sipping his own beverage; a black komala coffee. "Ya startin' to look more and more like kama'aina."

    "Mahalo nui loa." Elio had learned that asking for tapu cocoa to be made Akala Maika'i style invoked an additional sprinkle of cinnamon and shot of vanilla cream. There was even an adult version substituting it for a whiskey-cream vanilla flavored liqueur. "It's good to see you again Dallas, but I can't help but think you made me meet you here for a reason."

    "Ya very observant. As much as ah love catchin' up with ya on ya island challenge, there's a favor ah gotta ask."

    "Yeah of course."

    After the attendant handed him the drink and Elio paid, Dallas leaned closer and cast an apprehensive look to make sure nobody was eavesdropping on them."Ya remember when ah said when ah wanted ya to take Troy and Rockruff with the egg?"

    Elio nodded.

    "Well ah think that after how well ya handled it, ah think it might be in the best that ya take 'em with ya."

    He glanced down at Rockruff, who was excitedly wagging his tail.

    Dallas pulled a smaller portable incubator holding the familiar egg safely inside. "Consider it my thanks for keepin' 'em safe from those salandit."

    "Dallas I…can't."

    "Ah think ya meant to say mahalo." He stopped and looked down at the puppy, who was receiving an affectionate nuzzle by Troy. "To be honest, ah think it wasn't just a coincidence ya happened to be in Paniola when Rockruff and ah were there. Same thing with the egg. Ah think it was meant to be."

    "Well,"

    "Call me crazy kid, but ah don't believe that there's a lot to be coincidences. Rockruff seems to have found a home with us, but ah feel he's longed to want to battle with a traveling trainer and see all of Alola. And if he's gonna go with ya, so does the egg. Ah am sure it'll hatch into somethin' special."

    "I don't know what so say other than mahalo." Elio said before turning down to Rockruff. "So buddy, I don't have any objections. Do you want to come on an adventure with me?"

    "Ruff!"

    Then it's decided.

    Elio took out a Poké Ball, this one having a way different design than all the others. It was black and darker green shades with an orange trim around the rim and release button.

    It was a dusk ball, a special kind that was often suited for catching Pokémon indoors, inside caves or during the nighttime.

    "This is a pretty comfy Poké Ball." He primed it. "I think you'll like it."

    With a firm toss, the ball soared through the air, opening midway before finding Rockruff's signature. He was sucked in a red beam of light as the device made a metallic clacking sound when it hit the floor.

    C'mon. Shake. One.

    Two.

    Three.

    Snap!

    YES!

    Dallas gave off a sad smile, knowing he'd be losing a good friend to him, Troy, Emmitt and Michael, but at the same time it was a sense of gratitude that he was going to the right trainer who'd raise him to be his maximum potential.

    "Come on out Rockruff!" The dusk ball spun open, releasing the brown puppy, who jumped up, yipping playfully.

    "Yeah that's right." He laughed, flinching as the creature's coarse fur bristled against his neck when he jumped for a hug. The feeling was like scrubbing his skin with a sharpened pumice stone. "Welcome to the ohana."

    "And don't forget the egg." Dallas said, handing the capsule over. "Rockruff would be pretty upset if he's separated from it."

    "Right." He gently took it and made sure there was enough room in his pack to safely store everything. "I'll take good care of the both of them."

    "You sure will!" Rotom buzzed, hovering around all of them. "Analyzing! Bzzt! Rockruff is now added into your party. It iz a male and knows the moves sucker punch, rock throw, bite and sand attack. Itzz ability izz keen eye, which allows its accuracy to be undeterred and see through an enemy'z increazzed evasion movezzz like minimize and double team."

    "Sucker punch?" Dallas wondered aloud leaning forward. "Ah never knew you could learn that, but it's not entirely impossible either."

    "What's so special about it?"

    "Funny ya asked. Normally like people, Pokémon inherit some traits by both of their parents. And sometimes ya get newly hatched Pokémon who learn a move not normally learned by their family line. Under normal circumstances, Rockruff wouldn't be able to learn sucker punch by training or growing up. He must've inherited it from his father."

    "Hold on," Elio inquired. "If you say that Rockruff can't normally learn that move, then how did his father?"

    "Things can get complicated when it comes to breedin'. It's very possible that Rockruff's father wasn't a rockruff or lycanroc himself. There's a lot we still don't know 'bout Pokémon breedin' and family, but it's somethin' we learn new every day." Dallas stood up, glancing at his watch. "Well ah gotta get headin' back to the ranch. Ya keep on goin' for the island challenge kid. Haven't really been done now, but the next one trial's gonna put ya in the spotlight, as it shows off some real potential in trainers."

    "Sounds good."

    "Sure does. Ahm off now. Alola!"

    "Alola!"

    As he turned to leave, Troy moved over beside Rockruff, giving him one last affectionate nuzzle before turning to leave.

    "So buddy." Elio held up the dusk ball, admiring its interesting design. "I think this ball suits you."

    The hotel was one of the more opulent ones along the Avenue's main street, featuring a warmly lit lobby area with rich oak wood walls and fancily toned metal shaping into a four pointed star logo that was cut so that the dark area of the background made it appear like waves.

    Ed had apparently checked in as part of Pro Day's prospect rooms. He'd be staying for the next couple of days for the skills showcasing and addressing the media. Although the FBC's draft wasn't happening for another few weeks away, it was apparently important for some people to "simulate mock" draft and speculate on who would go where to what team.

    Much of it was trivial and really had no relevance until the draft of selecting the eligible players actually happened, but the tradition was longstanding even before he was born and it gave the sportscasters something to talk about since it was a long lull during the FBC offseason.

    Room 445. Aha!

    Taking a deep breath, he rapped his knuckles twice on the door's wooden frame. A few moments passed before he heard the latches click open, revealing his grinning childhood friend.

    "Elio!" Edmund Dahm opened up his arms and nearly swallowed the smaller boy into a bone-wrenching hug. "Bro! It's really you!"

    "You lazy excuse for an asshat." The playful insult caused both boys to laugh heartily as he was released. "I still remember Mister Toriyama mumbling that under his breath."

    "That brings back so many memories baby bro!" Ed's laughter faded, but his smile didn't. One of the other off topic things about him as a prospect was that his charming grin being captivating especially to the female basketball fans.

    That smile is going to make all the girls piss themselves in excitement.

    "Come on in bro! We can't catch up if we're standing in a doorway!"

    You got it.

    Ed led him into the suite, where he heard a speaker playing a hit rap song. Elio had heard it before and knew the basics of the music and hip hop world. He was also well versed in that the particular track playing was done by an emerging star by the name of Ryuki.

    Elio saw that there was a balcony lanai that provided an excellent view of the rest of the town and even a distant line of azure ocean. The sun was shining perfectly and he could see a set of utilities that Ed had been using while working out. He spotted weights, a white jumprope, medicine ball and long mat.

    The joys of having to do the Ab Ripper X. He dryly thought to himself. It was one of the morning workouts he did when going to practice before the coach arrived.

    Much of coach Noshimuri's philosophy was atypical from the standard basketball coach. Sure, his schemes and plays had been above average, but it was his treatment of the players what made him stand out.

    Practice was Monday through Friday right after school on the gym. Classes ended at three in the afternoon and the players had until four to grab snacks, drinks and report to the gym which was when he arrived.

    Some thought it was just a time to simply goof off. Others took the opportunity to complete homework.

    Elio and Ed?

    As soon as the bell rang, the two of them met up in the team locker rooms, already sliding on their workout clothes and spending the entire hour long intermission in getting their heart rates up and improving their stamina. By the time coach Noshimuri arrived, both boys were already looking as if they had finished his workout.

    The coach's style was done precisely to see how determined and badly they wanted to move forward in playing the sport. Colleges would be coming around to recruit prospects very soon. Even some pro scouts would attend games to see potential selections. Under normal circumstances, the FBC required at least one year of college basketball experience with the pursuit of a degree to be an eligible draftee, but there had been some exceptions.

    The dedication both boys did in pushing one another was a testament to how both of their aspirations would take them to the professional level.

    And then it all happened on one play for Elio during one of the regular season games. It was a double cross move he attempted while trying to shake off the other guy that was guarding him when a scuffle between one of his teammates and a player on the opposing team had broken out. His shooting guard had shoved the other person into Elio's own guard, who toppled forward. Sun tried peeling out to avoid it, however his leg had gotten snagged and twisted horribly thanks to the awkward position he was in while falling.

    It didn't need a professional to diagnose that his Achilles tendon in his right foot was torn. His season and eventual hopes for the pros had taken a big hit.

    He was beginning to accept that he'd never make the spotlight in the aftermath of his family's turmoil and eventual move to Alola.

    Look. It's done. You're done. Besides, if I wasn't going to be a pro basketball player, I'd go for something just as good…maybe even better. A Pokémon trainer!

    Now we just have to focus on Ed's big accomplishment. I know the University of Goldenrod was his best bet.

    Ed stood at an impressive height of six foot three. It was considered small for a forward position, but considering that he had several years to grow, his projected height eventually would be another four or five inches, more optimal. His body frame was much bulkier than Elio's, another characteristic demanding of his player type. He had buzz cut jet black hair and light blue eyes. His jawline was strong and although his imposing figure could be daunting, it underlay a very outgoing and outspoken individual who could bond easily with teammates and others.

    The soon-to-be-pro could often be seen wearing smooth basketball shorts and athletic tops. Today it was a stark white with a single black text across the shirt's center "DEFIANT". The single logo of a stylized MAA for Maple Apparel Outfitters symbolized the name brand.

    It was hard NOT to like the guy.

    Ed's suite was definitely worth the hefty price tag it was claiming. Rich dark floors with an elegant kitchen complete with a range and dish washer. He saw that there was a bowl of fresh fruit at the center dining table and Ed had been helping himself. The bathroom was all tile and marble, having a large shower stall with a head that had three different spray modes.

    And of course the balcony with the view.

    "Look at you!" Ed playfully punched Elio in the shoulder. "You look real good. A lot happier than when you were in Kanto."

    "And look at you!" Elio grinned back, extending his hand out. "Getting yourself a nice ass hotel room and not paying a dime!"

    It's been so long. But I remember it like we just did it yesterday.

    The two of them exchanged a handshake before forming fists and bumping them against one another. Concluding their handshake ritual was another clasp, bringing both in for a hug and friendly slap on the back. There was a clear difference in size, but it had been so ingrained into them that he could do their special handshake in his sleep if asked.

    "I missed doing that." Ed sighed, going over to the lounge area and sitting down on one of the couches. "I missed ya baby bro."

    "I missed you too Ed." Elio followed, sitting beside him. "But there's a lot to take in."

    "For sure! Alola's something else! Speaking of which, how do you and your mother like your new home?"

    Sun's thoughts drifted to his original resentment and he found himself trying to find a reason to hate it. The region had subtly grown on him so much that it felt normal, even though he had only been living here for a period that was barely longer than three months.

    "I'm not sure bro. Like you may have imagined, I didn't exactly want to leave any of you behind. You, Evan, Kenji, coach Noshimuri, Jadyn. All of you were some of the only friends I had and it's extremely daunting having to move to an island in the middle of the ocean."

    "It's clear to me that you think it's more than just that."

    "I do. I can now say that it's not as bad as I expected." Elio finished. "It's hot, humid and it's got all these weird traditions. People speak this impenetrable language and dance strange with nothing on except coconut bras and grass skirts."

    "They did say that Alola has developed a unique culture different from anywhere else in the world."

    "I agree. There really is not place like Alola and I like it."

    Ed leaned forward. "And it seems that you've made a fair share of friends here."

    "I have. I've told you about Hau and Leilani."

    "And gorgeous."

    Oh come on!

    "Really Ed?"

    "Yeah. You can't forget her! Or are you just trying to subtly push her my way? Oh man you'd be doing your brother an ultimate solid! I'd love to have her in my arms, her face buried in my neck and-"

    "Ed what the hell?!" Elio's face had reddened quite almost to the shade of a tamato. "Why are you always calling Lillie gorgeous?"

    "Because she is!" The bigger boy was very close to bursting out laughing. "Seeing how I can get such a big defensive action out of you every time I say something like that just proves how right I am! Come on! We gotta see her! You're not hooking up on your own initiative, so I'm doing it for you. Thank me later!"

    "I don't know if that's such a good idea." He countered. "Lillie's at the Tide Song Hotel in Heahea City and she's afraid to leave because of Team Skull."

    "Team Skull?"

    "They're a bunch of nimwits who like to cause trouble for everyone else. I've ran into them quite a few times during my island challenge. Pretty good for practice battling."

    "So not much of a challenge to you huh?" Ed sneered. "I can totally see that. But what does that have to do with gorgeous? Lillie…sorry bro. I'll try and break that habit."

    "That'd be good." Although Lillie is very pretty. I don't know about gorgeous.

    It'd suit her.

    Elio took a deep breath. "Lillie's not a trainer. In fact, she hates battling."

    "Oh."

    "Ed, I understand that you're just doing what any good bro would do, trying to find him a girl of his dreams. I just don't know if Lillie is that person. There's a lot going on for her and like I had said earlier, she might not be focusing on dating."

    "Elio."

    "Lillie's running from something…or someone. I'm not sure what it was and she won't tell me, but whatever it is, she doesn't want to be found."

    "Oh." Ed's face turned into realization. "So you're protecting her?"

    "Well…"

    "Gonna take that as a yes."

    "Yes."

    "Oh man," he grinned again. "Then there is almost no better time! Girls love that handsome protector guy! I'm just saying."

    "Well maybe, but I actually think I'll go and ask Leilani out on a date. Hau says that there's a lot of guys who want to, but they're all unsure."

    "Do what's best for you man. I'm just saying with her all insecure...she's got that need to be protected and you're filling that role. Bro, ladies love that stuff. They want a strong handsome man like yourself to protect them from danger. Just do it man. After all, I know you have a thing for blondes."

    "I will. Say, do you actually want to go and meet them? Hau did text me before I got here saying he was going to meet his grandfather for a Battle Royal match. Leilani's going to be there."

    "What's a Battle Royal?"

    "I'm not sure, but it sounds fun. Wanna come?" Elio glanced at the clock. "It's almost lunchtime and our Pro Day isn't until this evening."

    Ed nodded. "Sure. I still wanted to go and see gor-I mean Lillie, but yeah. I suppose this will do. You got something in mind for lunch?"

    "I sure do." Elio stood up. "Puka dogs?"

    "What's a puka dog?"

    "Remember those hot dogs sold at Tanaka's that were baked in that sweet roll?" A big grin spread its way across Elio's face. "Prepare thyself to be punched in the face so good."

    Sun had been spot on. There were plenty of food stalls and restaurants the closer they got to the Royal Dome having everything from Kanto bento boxes to hamburger and fries.

    They had found a puka dog stand just shy of a block from the giant stadium. Elio had texted Hau if he wanted to meet up for lunch and to his surprise, he got a confirmation that both he and Leilani would be there.

    Ed had simply gotten the same thing Elio did; a combo sandwich with garlic relish with a bag of sweet Akala chips and freshly squeezed lemonade.

    As they ate, it amused him to no end as he watched the basketball star's face go from mildly surprised to eyes widening, a common trait when he was biting into something incredibly delicious.

    "Holy freaking crap! This is soooo good!"

    "Right?!"

    "Tell me about it! I should maybe go order another one!"

    "Actually don't. They're deceivingly filling and we both know you shouldn't play on an overloaded stomach. Save your appetite for the hotel's dinner buffet."

    "Yeah good point." Ed took another bite. "Say Elio, I almost completely forgot you're a trainer. How many Pokémon do you have on you?"

    "Oh right." He took off his belt, showing the six poke balls. "I'll do you one better."

    "Come on out guys!"

    Six flashes of light blinked from the balls, each releasing the Pokémon that called it home.

    "Tor!"

    "Grime!"

    "Ssk!"

    "Ruff!"

    "Rockruff!"

    "Oh wow!" Ed leaned over the table to see Elio's full party of six all gathered beside their table. "Dang man! You've come a long way from being just your regular old basketball player!"

    "And don't forget me! Bzzt!" They heard an electronic voice buzz from his backpack as Rotom wiggled his way out of the bag and floated between them. "I'm technically a Pokémon too!"

    "Oh that's awesome." Ed reached out, running his finger along Rotom's screen.

    "Gah! Hahahah! That ticklezzz! Make sure your fingerzzz aren't greazzy!"

    "No worries Rotom, I'll clean your screen later. Yeah, so this is 'Dex. He's basically the next generation of pokedexes that are supposedly going into production to trainers all around the world."

    "And I am zo much better than thozze lame machinezzz! They have horrible designzzz too Bzzt! Like they were dezigned by a group of windowzz or something!"

    "Right? Anyway," Elio quickly divided trays of poke food and left them munching while he made introductions. "This is Torracat. He evolved from Litten as my starter."

    "I like him." Ed leaned down to ruffle his fur and earned a delighted purr from the feline. "And I know you wanted a charmander or cyndaquil if you were to go to Kanto or Johto. But this is a match made in heaven. Does Meowth like him?"

    "He's like Meowth's best friend."

    "That's so you."

    "I know right? Wait…how do you know?"

    Ed smirked. "Dude I know you. And I also am aware of your father's less than favorable opinion when it comes to cats."

    "Okay, you got me there." Elio moved on with the introductions. "Grimer, Rufflet, Charjabug, Rockruff and Feebas."

    "You've made some awesome choices there. Well except Feebas. I don't know what you hope to accomplish with it."

    Even Ed knows Feebas is a liability?

    "I'm not going to give up on Feebas." He adamantly said. "I won't be like what happened to Blu."

    "Now I see. Well I wish you luck man. If anyone can see potential in a Pokémon as a trainer, I bet it's going to be you." The basketball player leaned down to get a good look at Grimer. "Bro, what's up with Grimer? He looks different."

    "Funny you mention that." Elio gesture for Rotom to come over and he scrolled up for the Pokédex entry. "Grimer have turned into some sort of subspecies here in Alola. They call it the original name of Alolan Grimer and they adapted because they had little supply of their original food like wastewater and sludge. So they started eating trash instead which changed their appearance and even typing. It's now half poison and half dark."

    "That's actually really impressive."

    "Yeah. So once we're done with lunch here, he'll eat our garbage. It's pretty awesome when you've got the plants across the region dedicated to the recycling of it. Alola has like no trash generation whatsoever."

    Ed made to reply, but was cut off as a big, loud "Alola!" cut through the food court.

    Hau dashed his way through, almost reminiscent of an agility move and sidled at the seat right next to Elio.

    "Yo Elio! Howzit!"

    "Hey Hau!" Across from them, Ed smiled at Elio as he did his own custom handshake. "How have you been!"

    "Oh just meeting tutu because he's gonna battle with me in a Royal later!"

    "That's great." Elio glanced around. "Uh, where's Leilani."

    "Right…here." They heard her voice from behind, followed by a huffing sound.

    "Hau, you have to remember that I'm wearing…slippers." She was leaning over on the side of the table to catch her breath. "I can't run in them."

    "Oh." He rubbed his hand behind his head sheepishly. "Sorry."

    "I can run for sure, but not in these kinds of shoes."

    "Sorry."

    "Well I'm glad you could make it." Sun said, glancing up at Leilani with a big smile gracing his face. "Hope you're hungry."

    "Starving!"

    The look he had given her did not go unnoticed by Ed.

    "Thank you guys for meeting us here too." He added. "I want the both of you to meet someone. Ed, this is Hau…Leilani. Hau, Leilani, this is Ed."

    "Hold on." The surfer removed her sunglasses so that she could peer at the new face with both of her amber brown eyes. "You're Ed? Ed as in Edmund Dahm? The future basketball superstar?"

    "That's me. Pleasure's all mine. Elio's told me a lot about you two."

    "I can't believe it!" Leilani shrieked joyfully. "I can't believe I'm next to a basketball superstar!"

    "I'm flattered! Really! But Elio's always told me to play good in the pros first."

    "Yeah that's a good decision. But it's always an honor to meet a future superstar!"

    Elio smiled as Hau went to buy lunch and the four of them kept on talking as they continued to eat.

    Glad I could spend time with both my new friends and old.

    The four of them found themselves an hour later walking up the wide concrete steps that surrounded the massive dome. Elio could see that the large beams that helped support the big structure were adorned with colorful banners, showing action intensive shots of past matches as well as victors holding up championship belts. Some of them had elaborate costumes and posed beside their Pokémon.

    Others seemed to wear casual trainer outfits, clasping their trophy while their Pokémon celebrated behind.

    "Daaang!" Ed was still taking all of it in. "Talk about grand! The league has GOT to play games here in Alola! We can show the islands what basketball is all about!"

    "You'll have quite some competition my boy." A familiar elderly voice said from behind them.

    All four heads turned and Hau practically jumped for joy, nearly toppling old Hala over as he made his way towards them.

    "Tutu!"

    "Tutu?" Ed asked.

    Leilani nodded. "Grandfather."

    "It's been quite a while my boy." Hala glanced up at the others. "And it's the kaikamahine Leilani and Tapu Koko's waia kekahi Elio."

    "Alola kahuna Hala." Both he and Leilani said at the same time.

    "Alola to you both. And I see you've brought a friend here." He extended a hand out to Ed. "I'm glad to have met. Was originally going to say child, but I feel that is not necessary."

    The basketball draftee swallowed nervously. He had originally envisioned the man as some relative, but seeing how Elio and Leilani reacted addressing him as kahuna in his title meant he was an important figure.

    His tone, voice and posture commanded nothing but the utmost respect.

    Can't joke around him.

    "Hello kahuna. I'm Edmund Dahm. Just call me Ed though." He was surprised at such strength in Hala's grip. "I uh am going to participate in the Pro Day later so that a FBC team could possibly select me coming soon."

    "Ah, you're one of those for the event happening later today."

    "Yeah. I have to ask sir, what is a kahuna? You don't mind right?"

    "Not at all my boy. A kahuna serves as the chief of one of the islands of Alola. We are the final step for trainers going on the island challenge to defeat us in battle that's called the Grand Trial. That must be complete before they can earn a stamp and move onto the next island. As a kahuna it is also my duty to solve and address issues and matters concerning my island."

    "So then are you the kahuna of this island. A-ka-a?"

    "Akala?" Hau's grandfather shook his head. "No. I am the kahuna of Melemele Island, which is Akala's westerly neighbor. We do have Akala's kahuna come here often to make sure everything is alright."

    "So did Elio have to defeat you in battle?"

    "Yes. And he did, with flying colors I might add on his first try."

    Elio opened his mouth, knowing well that he had lost in his first time. "Kahuna I did-"

    Hala held up a hand. "Now let's say we get going to the Battle Royal. I'm sure people will want to meet you and it is quite disappointing if you don't have good seats. They fill up quite quickly."

    The interior atrium of the massive dome was nothing short of spectacular. All along the entrances was a large glass face that allowed everyone to see the upper floors from other visitors to the many concessions and gift shops stationed inside. More banners hung from the walls and ceiling, graphically depicting matchups of upcoming Battle Royal matches and future events such as a special Pokémon Performer's event as well as a visit from famous actress and former Kalos League Champion Diantha LaRue who would be stopping by as part of a promotional tour for a new movie she would be portraying a villain in. She would also be giving a lecture session regarding her life story. There was a sign just beneath both events that indicated that all tickets for both events were already sold out.

    As the group entered, Elio caught sign of one person he didn't particularly want to see. The dark jacket and tattered pair of pants all but gave it away along with the icy blond hair.

    "C'mon Null. Let's go bury our sorrow in the crowd and beat everyone who stands before us."

    Oh fantastic. Him again.

    "Hot damn!" Ed whooped out loud, taking everything in from the elaborate staircases, catchy music, throngs of people milling about that were chatting amongst themselves to the giant logo on the atrium's floor. It consisted of a purple starlike design with four gloves squared in its center, one blue, red, green and yellow.

    "Glad you could make it!"

    The four teens and one kahuna's eyes drifted up to the voice's source. Standing at the top of one of the stair flights was a shirtless man who had on nothing but a strange mask and tight…very tight shorts that snugly clung to his waist and hips.

    Elio's eyes widened at the man's figure. He couldn't see a single ounce of fat on him. His chest was well chiseled with abs and pecs glorious enough to blind anyone. The face underneath the multicolored mask was a familiar shape, but he just couldn't remember anyone like that.

    It's so close. Just out of my mind!

    "No way." Leilani had that same starstruck gaze in her eyes just after meeting Ed. "That can't be him!"

    "Who?" Ed and Elio asked at the same time.

    "The Masked Royal!" She squealed with Hau nodding to in excitement and jumping up and down. "It's really you!" Her exclamation had caused some of the other people to turn their heads and hurriedly congregate around the new mask.

    "Well Alola everyone!" The "Royal" waved. "I'm here to spread the word about Battle Royal! Oh yeah!"

    Sun's eyes widened at the habitual catchphrase.

    Doesn't the pro-

    "Professor Kukui is that-?"

    "THE MASKED ROYYYAAL! Woo!" He assumed a wide stance, throwing up his massive arms that were extremely well toned with solid muscle. It had both basketball players gawking since it dwarfed either of theirs. "I'm the Masked Royal! That's what they call me!"

    He strode forward, gazing intently at the teenagers. "I'm here to teach you yeah, about the royal battle format that has been passed down in Alola for generations!"

    "But-"

    "No buts here!" The Royal interrupted again. "But Royal, what is so royal about the Battle Royal anyway?!"

    "A total tongue twister." Hau deadpanned, causing the entire group to heartily laugh.

    "Four trainers!" He held up a hand. "Four trainers will each pick the same number of Pokémon yeah for a four way free-for-all battle oh yeah! When the one trainer remains standing and the other three defeated; the battle concludes! Oh yeah! The winner will be the trainer who has knocked out the most Pokémon and has the most left still in fighting capacity! Oh yeah!"

    "That's super awesome!" Hau pumped a fist. "I wanna try!"

    "And try you shall." Hala set a heavy hand on his shoulder. "Let us see how far you've grown."

    "You too!" The Royal was looking past them at someone else.

    Elio grimaced as he saw Gladion turn upon being addressed. He had that same scowl on his face when they first met.

    Maybe it's glued onto his face.

    "Hmph." The blond let out an uninterested huff, but surprisingly he stalked over to the entrance. Crowds inside the main arena must've gotten word about the Masked Royal coming to make his appearance because Elio heard a loud roar of applause emanating further inside the building.

    "And it looks like we have our foursome!" The Royal pumped a fist. "Let's get this show on the road yeah!"

    I swear he talks JUST like Professor Kukui.

    "So uh Sun," Hau looked back at the three of them. "You gonna participate in one later?"

    "Yeah brah, I might." Elio looked over at his taller friend and clapped him on the shoulder. "Gonna catch up with this loser first."

    "Okay sounds awesome! See ya out there!"

    "Good luck Hau!" Leilani called as the group ventured down the main steps towards the stage.

    Unbeknownst to her and unseen by everyone else, the kahuna's grandson couldn't help the redness of flushing on his cheeks.

    Leilani led Elio and Ed along one of the bleachers. The dome's interior was reminiscent of the Storm's Eye Arena back in Cerulean where up to almost twenty thousand people could be seated in the three tier stands around the main floor to watch games. The Eye was also frequently used for concerts, shows and speaking events including visits from the premier of the Kanto-Johto Confederation.

    The Royal Dome seemed slightly smaller, but like many other sports arenas it had multiple colorful signs of advertisements for sponsors and endorsers. Towards the center was another tier of seats that surrounded the closest distance from the action. Leilani had explained that although Battle Royal matches were commonplace with most being free to attend, being close to the action required payment for tickets and even the "free" seats higher up would have fees, especially in higher profile matches.

    All along the ceiling were banners of famous participants in days past. Elio didn't know hardly any of the dozen or so that surrounded the enormous viewing screen, but he liked their stage names and the big amount of titles many of them had such as the most six time steel type trainer known as Ikaika the Unbreakable.

    He did recognize one.

    The famous Sinnohan water type gym leader Crasher Wake had been a two time Battle Royal champion just a couple years ago. One of the headlines that he remembered reading one day was a matchup between him and the illustrious Masked Royal. Despite being heavily favored; Wake the "Water Warlord" was unable to keep up with the Royal's adapting strategies and lost in one of the most anticipated matches and upsets in the sport's history. Since then, both the Royal and Wake were said to have a much cooler and friendlier rivalry than at the peak of their careers.

    The screen showed multiple angular shots of the participating Pokémon, courtesy of the many cameras that dangled from wires above and personnel stationed at various points around. Further away from the arena's ring were four elongated entrances all in the shape of different Pokémon where each contender would walk out. There was a blue, red, green and yellow section with a gyarados, charizard, tyranitar and haxorus respectively.

    "Wow." Ed said as they found seats with excellent views of the battle below. Marveling at the crowd was awesome as well since there were a LOT of seats already occupied. "This is awesome. Can't you believe that I'm going to be down in one of these places playing for a bunch of awesome fans?!"

    "It's gonna be great." Elio added before turning to Leilani. "But what are the rules for Battle Royal anyway?"

    "Oh I can tell you most of the rules! It's basically like what the Royal said; a four way free for all that goes down until one trainer stands unopposed. The winner is whoever scores the most points. Everyone uses three Pokémon and you earn points by either scoring knockouts on your opponents or being the last one standing."

    "So all you have to do is basically survive to win?" Ed asked.

    She shook her head. "Nope! Wouldn't it be awesome if it was that easy? Just because you will be the last trainer standing won't necessarily mean you will win. You earn two points for each knockout and three points for surviving. If you manage to eliminate everyone else and have additional Pokémon still able to battle, you earn another three points."

    "That actually makes sense." Elio said. He was sitting between both of them and staring intently at the unoccupied ring. "And it requires a lot of strategy, more than a standard battle."

    "Exactly. And you have to be dynamic. Sometimes you have to work with another one of your opponents if someone else is a bigger threat towards you."

    "I can see where people specialize in stuff." Ed said. "I'm no trainer, but it's almost like the best kind of play style for this is to balance out a team between offense and defense."

    "Right. The others can possibly gang up on you if you become too aggressive or conservative. Gotta also remember that you can't just score points by keeping your Pokémon in play…they have to make moves for themselves. You might be hard to dislodge, but focusing too heavily on defense means they'll either combine attacks on you or ignore you entirely and that loses a valuable opportunity to score a lot of points."

    She pointed up at Ikaika's banner. "He was known for having a strong defense when coming into games. It was very difficult to break him…hence his name. One strategy he devised and used often was starting strong with a defender."

    "What's a defender?"

    "Oh right!" She put a hand behind her head in embarrassment. Elio noted that the gesture was similar to Hau's own quirk. "Sorry!"

    Those two are really alike.

    "There are multiple types of different Pokémon used for this competition and you get to see kinds that aren't even native to Alola coming with their trainers from all over the world! Anyway, the Royal Dome's leagues classify Pokémon into three categories; Strikers, Defenders and Rounders."

    She made to say something else, however the lights were dimmed before a lone bright spotlight centered on an MC dressed in a very elaborate suit inside the ring. He beamed up at the crowd before raising a dark microphone to his lips.

    "Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Battle Royal Dome! Your mecca for Battle Royals and the birthplace of awesome!"

    At once, the crowd let out a loud cheer, some bringing out their own phones to record the new event.

    "We have an exciting bout for you today! Now tell me WHO'S EXCITED?!"

    Another loud roar came from the crowd. To Elio and Ed's surprise; Leilani joined in with a cheer of her own, clapping her hands.

    "That's the enthusiasm I like to see!" The MC declared, spreading his hand out. "So there's some new faces making their Battle Royal debut as well as some older veterans and a face we all know and love!" At the mention of a "know and love" sent a lot of murmurs among the crowds.

    "Let's not keep you folks waiting any longer! Time to introduce our contenders!" On the big screen, it showed a dark moving silhouette in one of the tunnels below.

    "From the Haxorus Corner! He hails from Iki Town and has begun his island challenge as the rite of passage to conquer it and be recognized as an adult! Making his very own debut in the career of Battle Royal! Give it up for the kahuna's grandson! HAU! KEALOHA!"

    Another big chorus of cheers and applause rang out from all the spectators. To Elio and Ed's surprise again; Leilani screamed along with them, cupping her hands to her mouth. He quickly joined suit as the kahuna's grandson waved eagerly to the stands, grinning from ear to ear before taking his place at one of the stands beside the main ring.

    "Yeah! Let's go Hau! Show 'em what you're made of!"

    Wow. Didn't expect that from her.

    "Dang!" Ed had to almost shout himself at her after the applause had died down again. "You're really one of Hau's biggest fans!"

    "You bet I am!" She made a fist. "Hau was here when I started my first Battle Royal! He cheered just as hard and I want to make sure he has the same experience!"

    "You sure it's not just that?!" A smirk made its way across the basketball player's face. "I think our resident surfer has a crush!"

    "Wha?" Elio saw her face flush briefly as she stammered. "I don't!"

    "Oh so you're denying it?"

    "N-no!"

    "Chill out Leilani." Elio calmly said. "ʻO wau wale nō e'ōkō ana meʻoe!"

    His reassurance seemed to calm her down, but it still failed to remove the red blush on her face.

    "What in the hell did you say to her?" Ed's own eyes looked about ready to pop out of his head.

    "Just chill out. I found that speaking bird tends to calm the locals down if they're embarrassed."

    "That's incredible bro. How much do you know?"

    "ʻaʻole kokoke." He laughed when Ed gave him a blank stare. "Quite a bit actually."

    "Say, why don't we let out our Pokémon to enjoy the show too?"

    "Sure." Elio agreed. "Don't see why not." He gripped the balls and triggered them open. "Come on out guys!"

    Every single member of Elio's party, save for Feebas emerged and scampered to the edge, peering with utmost interest at the new surroundings.

    "Get ready guys, we're going to be on the big stage too one day."

    Leilani soon let hers out; Brionne, Machop and a third Pokémon Elio didn't recognize. It was humanoid, with a large bulbous hip and small legs that seemed almost impossible to support its entire weight. Large pink eyes dominated its face and mouth curved upward in a constant smile. There were a pair of elongated sepals stretching on either side that drooped down as if it were a hairstyle.

    "Woah there!" Rotom was quick to catch onto the new species. "We've got a new Pokémon that hazzz been detected! Bzzt! And before I begin, I muzzzt zay that you Leilani are for sure Hau'zzz biggest fan! Bzzt! Don't change that! Bzzt!"

    'Dex flipped open his screen, ignorant of the reddening that had made its way back to the surfer's cheeks. "Steenee. Fruit Pokémon. It is the evolved form of bounsweet. A steenee's pleasant aroma and lively attitude often perks up others. While no longer threatened by bird Pokémon, it swings the sepals on its head to both defend itself and abandon, delivering painful smacks! Steenee is a grass type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Wow," Elio looked over at the new addition. "So Bounsweet evolved?"

    "Yup! She finally did! I'm so glad because now no more birds trying to steal her for snack."

    "Yeah I'd be glad to be like that too." Ed added. "You've got some cool Pokémon. Both of you."

    They were once again cut off by the MC, who paraded to the next corner. "And now in the Charizard Corner! He's an enigma of a trainer! Master of the fearsome beast only known as Null! Let's give it up for GLADION!"

    Similar to the Haxorus Corner, the massive head of Charizard hallway filled with white steam to the crowd's wild applause. Unlike Hau, who had run in bursting at the seams with exuberant energy, Gladion walked with an air of confidence, casting a long look up at his surroundings.

    As he took his spot; he sent Hau a death glare that even made Elio feel just a bit uneasy.

    What is that guy's problem with Hau?

    "From the Gyarados Corner! He's been the longtime kahuna of Melemele Island and Alolan Sumo champion!" Even before his name was called, the atmosphere in the dome began to pick up. The MC sensed this, his smile growing even broader than the first two. "Let's give a warm welcome to HALA! KEALOHA!"

    Instead of the loud applause and cheers, most of the attendees stood up, cupping their mouths and giving a hearty. "HOOO-HAAH!" The stark shout made everyone not used to the kahuna's crowd introduction practically jumped out of their skin in fright.

    Ed included, which made both Elio and Leilani laugh at his expense.

    "That's not cool man." He grumbled, leaning back and crossing his arms. "I never did something like that to you!"

    "You were about to smear bacon grease on my deodorant after a practice." Sun reminded him.

    "Finally in the Tyranitar Corner!" As soon as the silhouette appeared on the big screen, the crowd's volume of cheering suddenly went to the same as the introductions of the other three. "He's the most feared…strongest wrestler and Battle Royal contender of all Alola! Four time Royal playoff champion and hometown hero! Give it up for the one and only! MAAAAAAASSSSSKKKKEEEEEDD! ROOOOOOYAL!"

    With the elaborate introduction concluded, this sent the entire stands into a wild frenzy. Elio wasn't sure if the noise could get any louder.

    And he was proven wrong.

    The smoke intensified as the shirtless figure emerged, arms up and mouth open in a fierce expression. He thrust them down, shouting a "Woo!" that couldn't even be heard over the crowd's roar. At the sight of his entrance, he saw that a pair of carts shot up enormous columns of flame, continuing to intensify the crowd's already amping vigor.

    "ROYAAAAL! ROYAAAAL! ROYAAAAL!" Everyone was chanting, performing a flexing pose with their arms.

    "Wow." Was all Ed could muster at the display. "This is right outta a wrestling match!"

    Down below, they saw the Royal had stepped to the side before squatting low and sweeping right. He jumped up off the ground, landing and throwing a knee into the air while spreading his large muscular arms outward with a fierce expression on his face.

    "And those are our contestants!" The MC shouted. "Good luck and may the best trainer win!"

    As he walked offstage, there was a referee stepping forward. He was wearing a dark collared shirt and shorts with a metal whistle around his neck.

    "This will be a single-elimination Battle Royal with the victor being the last man standing. I want to see a no-holds barred battle from each of you. Keep it clean and let's have some fun. Any questions?" He got four shakes of the head. "Then trainers! Send out your Pokémon!"

    "Rockruff! Let's go oh yeah!" The Royal tossed out his puppy Pokémon. At the sight of it on the big screen, Elio saw his own go wide-eyed and take on a sudden renewed interest.

    "You like that buddy?" He got a happy bark in return.

    "Go Dartrix!" Hau spun his own starter out on the field.

    "Null, let's get them." Gladion's entrance was more subdued and the appearance of his unique creature let out a bunch of surprised gasps from the crowd. Unbeknownst to everyone else, he actually enjoyed it since even though he had been in quite a few matches, the reaction from the spectators was as if they had never seen it before.

    "And Kazuhiro! We will win this together!" Hala threw out his own contender. A massive creature that resembled an obese human slammed into the ground with enough force to rock the stands, eliciting another loud cheer from them. Its hands were also enormous for its size, split into three fingers from the palm. The Pokémon's upper body was slightly thinner than its large round legs and it glared at the fellow competitors with intensity.

    "Woah there! We gotta get thizzz new Pokémon detected indexed away before a writer endzzz here! Bzzt!" Rotom floated in between the three humans and put his screen to showcase the new encounter. "Hariyama. Arm thrust Pokémon. It is the evolved form of makuhita. A single slap from a hariyama can send a truck flying. It is also kind and honorable Pokémon, praising worthy foes that it defeats or defeat it in battle. Hariyama is a fighting type. Additional information is available upon capturing this Pokémon."

    "Wow, a hariyama!" Ed and Elio leaned forward. "It looks so huge!"

    "And now!" The referee raised a hand, noting that all four competitors were all eager to launch off their starting points. "The Battle Royal shall begin!"

    Whew! This one was fun to write! Hope everyone liked the many surprises I put in here! I think this chapter answered a question a lot of you were asking. Another one I'll go ahead and answer is that this will be the last Pokémon for a while that Elio will capture.
    Translations:

    • Kama'aina - Refers to a native resident regardless of race of ethnicity. Anyone born in Hawaii/Alola is considered kama'aina and on occasion given to foreigners who have lived there for a long time or done something heroic to be deemed in that manner. To be considered kama'aina is a very special honor.
    • Mahalo nui loa - Thank you very much
    • Tutu - Grandmother/grandfather
    • Kele kaikamahine - Surfer girl (Often refers to younger female surfers)
    • Waeia kekahi - Chosen one
    • Ikaika - Sturdy
    • ʻO wau wale nō e'ōkō ana meʻoe! - I'm just screwing with you!
    • 'a'ole kokoke - Just about nothing

    Puka Dog - Although this isn't a Hawaiian word, Puka Dogs are a local delicacy with a Polish sausage inserted into a roll of Portuguese sweet bread and garnished with a fruity relish (usually mango or coconut) and served with freshly squeezed lemonade.

    Mahalo for reading and reviewing. You give my writing purpose! See you guys next time.

    Brav

     
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  3. ShinigamiMiroku

    ShinigamiMiroku Pokémon Professor
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    I've always wanted to try a Puka Dog. :sweat:

    Anyway, sorry I haven't reviewed in awhile; been busy with schoolwork and theatre. I have been reading, though, and I can't help but continue to get even more excited for each chapter.

    A big reason why I refuse to get drunk is because I hate how alcohol 'turns even the most respectable man into complete scoundrels,' (to quote Elizabeth Swann) though in many other cases it's just a coping mechanism for much more deeply-rooted issues (and a poor one at that, as it is a depressant).

    I'm happy that Elio decided to keep Feebas, but does he know how it evolves? It's not an easy task, to be sure, in any generation...

    I'm surprised you had Kahuna Hala take Sun's place in the Battle Royale. It'll be interesting if Hau takes the opportunity to eke out a win (especially knowing who the Masked Royal is, and that he has already lost to both Hala and Gladion so far) or if he's going to continue to 'have fun' regardless of the outcome. Just because you recognize a problem doesn't mean you will automatically take the steps to correct it unless you focus your attention solely on that until the change is made.

    It'll be interesting to see the dynamic between Hau and Leilani plays out... and how Sun copes with it.
     
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  4. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Alola everyone! Next update is here!

    A few days over, but the 2nd of March was the one-year anniversary of A Hui Hou Kakou since I put it up on fanfiction.net!
    Since this story's inception; it has become my second most popular fic after Advanced Commando, despite this being almost two and a half times longer. However I'm confident that this one will definitely trump all of its statistics since there's still plenty of story left!

    Whenever I look back, I am completely floored by the overwhelming amount of support I've gotten through the views, favorites and follows, but most especially all the reviews. Everyone plays a part in making A Hui Hou Kakou my pleasure to write and entertain; from all of those awesome people who comment/critique on every of my updates as well as the others who favorite, follow but silently read. I see you guys too and can't thank you all enough.

    Big thanks again to @ShinigamiMiroku for his amazing feedback: I'm glad you're still enjoying the story and taking the time...no matter how long. That too is a big reason I don't drink to get drunk as I've seen alcohol destroy families and lives. It's something to have in moderation. For the most part; Elio is unaware of how or what it evolves into and I think it'll be a nice surprise. It's kind of hard to write a fish Pokémon in battle, so I don't have much time where it's used in battle as a Feebas.
    As for Hala, I'll be explaining in a few chapters on why he's there. It's for a reason :) Also get ready for some more shenanigans in the love triangle...or love rectangle of Elio, Hau, Leilani and Lillie.

    Without further ado. Let's get to the chapter before my praise start going on about how your reviews can turn water into wine...


    The Pro Day thing happened right after the Battle Royal! Wow! Much of it was kind of disappointing since I was hoping to see a lot of basketball being played, but I actually got my wish later on! Elio looks really small compared to Ed and I have to admit that the apparel he wore kind of suits him…almost as if he's made for that! You go Elio! Show Alola and the world that you're more than just a brave, handsome and skilled Pokémon trainer. You're also a brave, handsome and skilled basketball player too!

    Dear Lillie,

    Royal Avenue is something else huh? You sure you don't want to come and see the Sensational Sisters on their water show tour? They're supposedly coming later this year. The Cerulean City gym leader Misty is the youngest of them, but she runs the gym instead of traveling. I promised her I'd challenge her to a battle when I become a trainer and I hope she hasn't forgotten.

    But first thing's first! The Pro Day! Ed and I are going to be partners in his skills showcase and it's going to be broadcasted around the Alola region! Be sure to catch yours truly being an awesome point guard! (that's the position I play in basketball)

    I also noticed something interesting too during the Battle Royal match. Yes the Masked Royal is pretty cool, but I swear he looks and talks just like Professor Kukui. Is it true that's some alter ego or something? If it's not, then can you ask him if he knows the Royal by any chance? Anyway…that's not it, even though it's still strange…oh why am I still dwelling on this?! Okay…anyway…I have to stop repeating that. Leilani seems to be a very enthusiastic cheerleader for Hau when he was out there battling. He didn't win, but she made sure he wasn't going to be down about it and Ed seemed to be poking fun about her little crush on him. That makes me think that she might like Hau more than me. What do you think? I might go and get something to maybe win her back!

    I miss you.

    Sincerely,

    Elio

    Today had been strange for Lillie. Professor Kukui didn't stop by to do any early morning field work and it was the first day in a long time she actually had nothing to do.

    Nebby had resorted to being more active in the evening and night, being all excited for some unknown reason before tucking itself inside her duffel and sleeping for most of the day.

    It felt strange too about not having to tell it to stay inside.

    After having another room service breakfast, she decided to lay back down on her bed. A hand found the remote and she turned on the television, flipping between channels that were broadcasting some drama shows, commercials for the local malasada shop and the Battle Royal between Hau, Masked Royal, Hala and Gladion.

    Wait, where's Elio?

    Gladion?!

    Her body froze like ice as she hesitantly grabbed the remote again and turned it back to the channel.

    There he stood, wearing ripped dark and red clothing and an rebellious hairstyle that would make her mother flip out if she ever saw it. But she knew that face…those eyes.

    Tears threatened to well up in her eyes. She didn't know if they were from sadness or overjoy.

    Her brother was okay. Gladion was okay!

    For the longest time nobody dared to move. The four contestants were creating a rising tension quickly amongst themselves and the spectating crowd.

    It was Hau who decided to make the first move. "Dartrix, use peck on Kazuhiro!"

    With a loud screech, the blade quill Pokémon accelerated forward, swooping down with a glowing beak.

    "Fake out." Was all Hala had to respond before the large hariyama clapped its hands together the moment Dartrix had dived for the strike. Caught right in between, the owl wobbled in flight before crashing to the ground.

    "Now use arm thrust!"

    Kazuhiro branched out his arms and was about to hit the struggling Dartrix when it was struck by two separate tackles. Rockruff from the Royal's side had done some damage while Null's larger body mass was enough to knock it into the side of the ring. Immediately an invisible green barrier shield flared to life as it hit the edge, fading away as the crowd oohed at witnessing the action.

    I was almost thinking Gladion was going to go after Hau there. Elio thought as he watched from his seat.

    "So hold on," Ed started. "Does this mean that it's a three on one?"

    "Not exactly." Leilani said. "Remember while you are free to attack anyone else in the ring; however it's quite common that two or three contestants will gang up on another because they pose a bigger threat."

    "Right." Elio added. "So if that hariyama's a fighting type, then it means that Dartrix has the best chance to take it down. It poses a threat to Rockruff since it's rock and possibly that experiment called Null which means it's likely weak somewhere to fighting moves."

    She nodded. "Exactly. We call those "silent alliances" because it's mutually beneficial against a common enemy. Now do expect both of them to target Hau once Kahuna Hala has been eliminated."

    Back down on the ring, Kazuhiro shook off the effects and assumed a low stance.

    "Very interesting." Hala called out to his three opponents. "You all see me as the biggest threat. Good. Because I am."

    "And that's why we're all after you kahuna!" The Royal spun around. "Now use tackle on Null!"

    Gladion was more than ready, barking at his beast to lumber aside. Despite its large and heavy appearance, it shifted easily to dodge the charging attack. He saw Kazuhiro and Dartrix clash in another intense battle of pecks and arm thrusts. As much as he wanted to personally see Hau put down to prove his point, he needed him still in the game to take care of both Rockruff and the hariyama, the latter of which was more dangerous.

    I can take on the dartrix and rockruff. But it's the hariyama that's the problem. That's my top priority.

    "Aerial ace on hariyama!"

    With a furious roar, Null's body clanked together as he lunged forward. At the same time, Dartrix jumped towards them, jabbing the larger Pokémon's side with a peck. Hala's massive fighting type stumbled, but its endurance was showing as it refused to go down.

    The Royal was getting ready for another round, tossing a rock throw into Hau's direction. The owl retaliated with flinging its wing and releasing a volley of razor sharp quills.

    With its hind legs, the rockruff propelled itself above the blades, but Null had been too slow to avoid it. The creature's thick hide and armored head managed to absorb and splinter the quills, however some damage had been done.

    Gladion growled in annoyance and clutched his arm. A low whine from Null was almost unheard, but it indicated to him that his partner was fine and willing to continue.

    Hala had finished with his hariyama, who had backed itself into a corner and glowing red while enhancing its strength. When the bulk up had finished, he pointed at Dartrix, already shouting additional orders. Hariyama's large glove hand flung out in a shovel type pass. A white stone flew out with incredible speed.

    Despite Hau yelling at Dartrix to dodge; the bird was hit on the right wing with the stone and the super effective move caused it to plummet back down to the arena's floor.

    The crowd let out a gasp.

    "And now you are all battling on my terms." Hala said, all while assuming a squatted competitive stance. "Kazuhiro, use bulldoze!"

    "HARRI!" With incredible strength and agility, he jumped up into the air a good ways and slammed his feet into the floor. The ensuing shockwave covered its entirety, shaking out the other three combatants. Rockruff and Null were unable to withstand the blast and collapsed, however they both rebounded with the latter doing so rather quickly. Dartrix merely stumbled back, shaking it off at his trainer's encouragement.

    "Hold on a moment." Elio went wide eyed as he remembered his move typing effectiveness. "I thought bulldoze is a ground move. Dartrix is part flying…how does that work?"

    "That izzz correct!" Rotom replied. "Accezzing move database! Bzzt! Bulldoze izzz a ground type move that can deal damage to multiple foez and slow them down! Bzzt!"

    "Yes I know that. So then how did Hala's hariyama manage to hit Dartrix?"

    "Analyzing! Bzzt!" His screen shuffled to a recording of the battle not thirty seconds ago. "Move found! Bzzt! That izzz smack down! It'zzz a rock type move that can deal damage and cause flying typezzz and Pokémon with levitate ability to fall and be vulnerable to ground movezzz now."

    "That must be why Hala did that." Leilani said, still focusing on the battle. "Hariyama isn't the fastest Pokémon and since bulldoze can slow the enemy down, he can level the playing field in terms of speed. But he needed to find a way to keep Hau in check because it's the only Pokémon strong against him. Bringing him to the ground makes it open that everyone will have falling speed since bulldoze can attack multiple opponents."

    "That'zz right! And Elio will need to help Rufflet dodge that kind of move! It pozez the biggezt threat to him!"

    "Wow…talk about genius."

    Leilani almost laughed out loud. "Yeah. You thought Hala was a pushover? Wait until you battle him when he's serious."

    "Null, use flame charge on Dartrix!"

    Hau spotted the flaming Pokémon running his way, but he also saw that Royal's rockruff was a bit dazed still.

    It has to be almost down by now. Let's see if I can score a knockout!

    "Peck on rockruff!"

    "DAR!"

    The two paths nearly intersected, with Null missing the Dartrix by roughly a foot. It stopped and turned back around, surrounding itself with embers and running forward again.

    A razor leaf sent his way did nothing to damage it, as the flames quickly caught onto the flammable projectiles, burning them up well before they reached him. However Null did have to momentarily break charge to avoid them directly shot.

    If I can catch up to Hau; I can take both it and the rockruff down. That will just leave me and the kahuna's hariyama.

    Gladion didn't see that Hala and Kazuhiro had recovered. Before he knew it, the creature slammed its arm into Null's side like a hammer with incredible force. Null was knocked off his feet and skidded into the arena's side with a loud crash. To his relief, he saw the hind paw flail in the cloud of dust that was kicked up as Null used the motion to slowly, but surely roll back on its feet.

    "Let's go for the kill Dartrix!" Hau pumped a fist. "Leafage on rockruff!"

    With a loud "Dar-trixxx!" he swept his wings together, unleashing a handful of feathery leaves that pelted the puppy Pokémon. The super effective move was too much for it and it crashed down onto the arena mat, out cold.

    "Ooh! And Hau Kealoha upsets the Masked Royal with a super effective leafage attack!" The MC boomed into the microphone, eliciting more cheers to come from the crowd. "We've got our first knockout of the match! Only three remain!"

    Back up at their stand, Elio couldn't help rising to his feet and joining the rest of the onlookers in the applause and loud cheers. Beside him, Ed stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly.

    "Woo! Yeah cousin!" Leilani squealed as she was practically jumping up and down with excitement. "Way to go Hau!"

    At the sight of that; both Elio and Ed exchanged a knowing smirk. He was grateful that this time it wasn't going to be about him…or so he thought.

    "Looks like someone's got a crush on the kahuna's grandson."

    "What?" Leilani's face still smiled, betraying her strong denial. "No I don't!"

    "She can't." Elio doubted. "Not if she's his cousin. That'd be awkward."

    "I'm not his cousin."

    "Then it's still possible!"

    "Stop it!" She mock pouted, crossing her arms over her chest as realization that the two boys had her verbally backed into a corner. "I do NOT have a crush on Hau."

    "You know what's funny?" Ed smirked again. "Is that you're even more readable than Elio!"

    Why do I feel like this is both a good and bad thing? I'd love to ask her out, but is it strange knowing that she has a crush on my best friend?

    Wait…which best friend? Can't be Ed…oh wait. That's right. Hau.

    "That was truly impressive mo'opuna."

    Gladion tuned out Hala's compliments and thought back to that maneuver. He did have to give credit where credit was due. The razor leaf to just slightly disrupt Null's advance proved enough to hold it off so that he could score. Of course the rules and situational differences would be present in a one versus one battle, but the move seemed to be brilliantly executed.

    I can try for the hariyama now. He thought to himself, clenching his arm again. Dartrix will be an easy picking. Plus as much as I hate it, I'll need Hau's help in taking it down.

    Hala must've seen Gladion plotting his next moves. "I see you've already begun to plot your next move keiki. However whatever you are thinking is not going to work! Kazuhiro! Arm thrust!"

    "Null, use flame charge to dodge it!" As the bigger Pokémon advanced, Null cloaked itself in a wreath of fire, using the increased speed to leap out of the way.

    Hau quickly joined in on the fun, throwing a razor leaf attack that pelted both Null and Kazuhiro.

    "I think it's my turn to show this off. Ready Dartrix! Roost just like we practiced!"

    "Trix!" His owl, now airborne once more had done a midair flip before spreading his wings wide and slowing as he reached the ground. His body glowed white as some of his lost energy was being regained. Some of the wounds on his feathers slowly disappeared as he used the brief lull in the battle to preen himself. By the time the glow of healing had faded, he had spread out his feathers again in preparation to jump back into the action.

    "Roost?"

    "Yep! Bzzt!" Rotom scrolled through the move database again. "Move found! Roost izzz a healing move that helpz to heal injuriez and izzz especially uzeful for flying type Pokémon!"

    "Sweet. Maybe Rufflet can learn it too."

    "You have to also know that using roost will render it vulnerable to ground moves." Leilani said. "Hau just got Dartrix up in the air again and using it could mean he may have to face bulldoze's damage and speed reduction."

    Down on the match; Hala had secretly been counting on that the entire time.

    "Use bulldoze Kazuhiro!"

    "Null!" His Pokémon automatically responded, building up additional fire for the flame charge. Kazuhiro jumped up and slammed back down, sending a tremor that could be felt even up in the stands. Now more prepared, the beast jumped to avoid the brunt of the shockwave before clanking forward, building up additional speed as it moved. That familiar clanking sound increased in pace, sounding something like a locomotive.

    Gladion saw the kahuna's smirk grow just slightly more.

    Why do I feel like this is what Hala wants me to do?

    "Now!"

    At the instance; Kazuhiro's sheer bulk deftly moved aside with the quickness of the dancer. Gladion's own gasp of surprise was synonymous with the onlookers, who were still in shock at the earlier bulldoze and seeing such a heavy Pokémon move with ease.

    Null had built up a considerable amount of speed already and Kazuhiro's sudden dodge made him realize he was headed straight for Dartrix, who was now grounded and trying to recover.

    The flame charge hit Hau's Pokémon, crashing into the side where the invisible barriers flared up to prevent the strong power from escaping and harming the spectators. Gladion watched as Null crouched low, glancing at a now defeated Dartrix.

    "Woah!" The MC was exaggerating surprise into the microphone. "Dartrix was the true victim as kahuna Hala pulls off an impossibly amazing dodge move that takes out one more fighter! Let's give it up for Hau for an amazing effort!"

    Gladion scoffed. This kid doesn't even put half the effort into amazing. Why applause for that? Only reason I needed him was to take down the hariyama.

    Wait.

    He cursed under his breath, finally realizing that while it felt satisfying to eliminate and put Hau in his place, he had dug himself into a deeper hole. Hariyama's strength against normal types and a one on one focus.

    Oh no. Hala counted on this. I can't let my guard down now.

    Null exploded forward in an aerial ace attack. Gladion hoped that the faster speed could remain a constant. He just had to watch out for that bulldoze again.

    Kazuhiro stumbled back, growling when it heard the encouragement of its trainer. He flexed his arms, surrounding himself with a harsh reddish aura.

    I have to act now before that bulk up is too much for Null. It will only improve its attacks and defense! Gladion thought, making a fist. We'll just have to keep attacking!

    "Tackle!"

    The hariyama braced itself as Null led with its horn, surrounded by wisps of glowing white light. It budged just slightly, trying to hold ground; however the beast succeeded in knocking it into the wall barrier.

    The MC jumped back up to his feet. "Will you look at that folks? Null just learned take down!"

    "Use vital throw."

    "Hari!" In another flash of quickness; Kazuhiro's hand found Null's mask and it effortlessly lifted it up, rearing back and tossing it across the arena with a high velocity.

    Amazingly, Null had managed to crash into the safety ropes feet first from the safety barrier. The catlike paws on its rear found purchase at the end of one of them and it sprang back to the mat using a catlike grace that defied its character.

    "Hi'ona." Hala couldn't hide the fact that even he was impressed. "You have trained your partner Null well."

    "We'll continue to get stronger." Gladion said. "We have to. Starting with defeating you kahuna!"

    "Then come at me with everything you have!" Hala bellowed. "Kazuhiro, arm thrust!"

    The hariyama charged forward, arms outstretched. Null took one to the midsection, but it jumped above, managing to avoid the others. At Gladion's command, an aerial ace was ordered and it slashed leading off with its horn crest across the slower Pokémon's body.

    This is it.

    "Take down!"

    Null roared again, rushing forward and enveloping itself in more white energy. Kazuhiro was dazed quite a bit from the previous aerial ace and the fatigue of taking two other Pokémon's attacks were finally beginning to catch up.

    The two Pokémon collided in a crash that caused large cloud of dust to erupt in the center. With the entirety of the action all fast paced as per most Battle Royals, everyone was anticipating the outcome. Most every spectator sat at the edge of their seats and whispered amongst themselves at what could possibly have happened.

    Null shuffled out of the dust when it began to clear, huffing lowly and gazing out at the crowd.

    Kazuhiro was lying facedown at the ring's center, clearly knocked out and sporting fresh new wounds.

    "And Gladion takes the match!" The MC said when the ref confirmed. "Gladion, the master of the beast Null has emerged as the victor for this Battle Royal! Let's give him a hand as well as the other participants!"

    At the announcement of the obvious, everyone had stood up and loudly whistled and applauded with a newfound roar rumbling from all the bleachers. Elio was among them and even though he still thought of Gladion as a jerk, it would be rude not to give credit where credit was due.

    The MC beckoned Gladion onto the center podium after returning his Pokémon. He leaned the mic down to the boy's level.

    "So Gladion! Congratulations on yet another fascinating win! What motivated you for that final showdown with the kahuna?"

    For a good several seconds, he didn't seem to speak. Much of the crowds were slowly filing up or down the stairs to exit the dome. Those that stayed were leaning forward once more in anticipation.

    The blond opened his mouth after casting a long glance around the crowd. "I play to win." He gave a simple nod when the MC was almost ready to go into a frenzy for him to continue.

    "Well…um. You've done a fantastic job holding your own against an island kahuna and our very own Masked Royal!"

    "Hmph. It's all part of getting stronger." He said. "There's someone who didn't come into the battle who I want to beat and I won't stop until they're down."

    Before the MC could feed off that, Gladion turned away and stalked back into his corner, disappearing into the tunnel and leaving everyone in wonder at what his words exactly meant.

    "And there you have it! Gladion…a master of the Null beast and a man of few words himself! He's looking for a bigger fish out there! Will we find out who it is? Or his ideal competitor shrouded in mystery! Thanks everyone for coming to the Battle Royal Dome today and we'll see you guys again next time!"

    Elio stood there unmoving as he processed Gladion's words inside his head. To many others it was simply just talk to the media and let them have a frenzy over his speak.

    To him; he felt as if the edgy teen had subtly jabbed and called him out.

    I'm the person Gladion wants to beat.

    Why? What would he gain from beating me other than the satisfaction? Does he just hate knowing that someone has defeated him before and he needs the final say?

    Sun couldn't really think about it anymore than obsessing, which was what he was thinking that Gladion was doing.

    Gladion, you're taking this way out of proportion.

    With that thought banished from his head, he stood up and followed his two friends down the steps back out into the lobby.

    Gladion just about scoffed to himself when he saw the tall girl squeal excitedly and nearly jump on top of Hau in a bone crushing bewear hug. Just behind him was an even taller boy who looked strong enough to crush him with one arm and then he saw him. The boy he had subtly challenged to show himself and face him down in battle. He looked just as interested in the overwhelming acts of unrewarding praise that Hau was being showered with.

    You're going to hug him after that? He once again didn't even put forth half the effort into that battle. It was kind of meaningless, so something like that would only be acceptable here. His lip curled upward as a thought crossed his mind. Least you're in your element where nobody cares how good you are at battling as long as they get a show.

    "Ho'omaikaian'a iaoe!" Leilani said, grinning from ear to ear. Hau's red blush covered almost his entire face. "You did great out there Hau!"

    Sun joined in, reaching past a hugging Leilani to fist bump Hau. "Yeah brah, you gave your gramps and the Royal a run for their money."

    "And you showed me that a Battle Royal could be a whole lotta fun." Ed added. "For a first timer, you looked like you knew what you were doing."

    "Heh. Thanks guys." Hau said. "It really was a bit of a thrill." His gaze wandered over to see Gladion standing just a few feet away. "Gladion…congratulations on the win."

    The edgy blond perked up at hearing his name and rolled his eyes.

    "It means nothing. It's just another day."

    Elio saw anger flare up in Leilani's eyes from him brushing off the praise and she stepped forward. He was quick to react, putting an arm out in front of her and shaking his head.

    "Another day?" Hau asked out of curiosity. "So it's just another battle to you huh?"

    "Say whatever you want. Winning these battles get you nothing but temporary fame. That's something I don't need and I won't want. What I need to do is defeat strong opponents," His gaze centered right on Elio. "And ones that defeat me."

    So it's true.

    Gladion glared right back at Hau. "You even couldn't beat your own grandfather on that big stage. How do you expect to get stronger if you only enjoy battles?"

    Hau stepped forward to confront him.

    Okay. I better stop this all before it really escalates and causes a scene. I'm pretty sure a news report of a kahuna's grandson hitting another person wouldn't go well for PR.

    Elio slipped a hand on his shoulder. "No." He whispered, glancing back at Gladion. "Don't do it. He's baiting you."

    "Better listen what I have to say Hau, because otherwise, you're just going to get trampled on over and over again." He gripped his arm in that strange pose again. "You better start taking battles seriously. If you're not in it to win it, then there's no point in even trying to battle. You can't prove anything if you're weak or a loser."

    "Is that so? Is that why you fight?" Elio challenged. His tone wasn't particularly angry, but he wasn't going to stand by and let his friend get verbally jabbed multiple times.

    Gladion stepped forward, now having his back to them before stopping like he was still continuing to contemplate Sun's question.

    "I'm not here to play…or make friends. I'm here to get stronger so I can protect her."

    Her?

    He turned back around. "You can't protect anything when you're weak."

    "Says who?"

    "All of you are spoiled and privileged." Gladion spat, a small fire of fury brimming in his emerald eyes. Again Sun was at a loss of where to make that connection. Why did it look so similar? He saw someone else there as well…but who? The answer continued to elude him. "None of you know what it's like to be abandoned."

    Worry flashed across Ed's own face when he saw Elio's own expression darken. "Elio."

    "You want to bet on that?" Sun lowered his voice threateningly. "Trust me; whatever you got is nothing compared to the shit I've seen and experienced."

    Gladion didn't show it, but he was taken aback by the language Sun had said. He studied him, the furrowed brow, glaring eyes, almost like he was begging for the blond to say something stupid as justification for him to react aggressively. There was nothing that betrayed his demeanor whatsoever. He sighed and shook his head, turning around and exiting the arena without another word to anyone.

    You're also incredibly lucky that my best friend is here. That's the only thing stopping me from seeing how colorfully red I can paint these floors.

    "Wow." Leilani said. "A total ray of sunshine huh?"

    Elio had to blow air out of his mouth in order to calm himself down. Another reminder was sent because he realized that if he had decided to use any murderous physical violence or even just the thought of it, he'd be no better…or perhaps the true villain in the situation.

    Perhaps Dad was right in a way. I can't let my own emotions get the best of me. Even if it means defending a friend and putting that walking rectum in his place. Nothing but negativity comes out of this guy's mouth.

    "You were on fire during that battle Hau."

    The new voice prompted everyone to glance behind them. A tall man that looked to be in his early twenties strode forward towards the group. His skin was a darker brown shade and Sun realized he was looking at a lot of it. This new face wasn't even wearing a shirt. He showed no shame in it either. There were a lot of well-defined core muscles and broad shoulders that showed he was well disciplined when it came to staying in shape. A long necklace was neatly set on his chest with bright amber beads and a wooden ornament at the bottom that had incredible detail in carvings.

    His face was well defined with a strong jaw, intense dark eyes and his hair seemed as if it had taken fire of its own; sporting crimson streaks at the ends of the gelled spikes.

    So this is what would probably happen if I did the Ab Ripper X three times a day like coach ordered.

    Ed lightly tapped Elio's shoulder. "People go shirtless in here? They can't do that in Kanto."

    "You'd be surprised."

    "What about the girls?"

    "I hate to burst your bubble on that one." Sun whispered back. "But no."

    "Alola Kiawe!" Both Hau and Leilani greeted him traditionally while spreading their arms out in the rainbow wave.

    "Alola you two." Kiawe's expression remained unsmiling, but he seemed friendly enough. "Good to see all of you here."

    "Likewise." Hau stepped aside. "This is Elio Northstar…he just moved from here from Kanto and undergoing the Island Challenge. And that's Ed. He's here for the Pro Day skills showcase for the basketball thingy…whatever…sorry Ed."

    Ed gave him a dismissive smile as if to say that he didn't take any offense.

    "Well Hau, Elio. I hope you bring that fire with you and burn up my trial. For those of you who don't know, the name's Kiawe Iokua." Sun's eyes went wide at recognition of the last name, now knowing that this was the son of the person he had met in Paniola Town.

    "I run the fire type trial which will be the next one you undertake. It's set at Mauna Wela's peak in the volcano park. If you plan to see your island challenge through to the end, climb to the top with your strongest team! Get there as early as you can because there will be a lot of preparation we will need to do." A faint curling upward of his lip was seen. "And put your game faces on. Lots of people will be watching."

    With that he turned to make his exit, leaving some very confused teenagers behind.

    "Watching?" Hau wondered aloud. "What did he mean by that?"

    "You'll see." Leilani said. "E mākaukau."

    "Huh?"

    Elio spoke up. "I think that means we just have to be prepared."

    "So Elio, Hau, how are your trials going? I bet your Pokémon are working hard and havin' a blast! Oh yeah!" Another voice; this time around much more familiar, had picked up from behind them, revealing itself to be the Masked Royal and kahuna Hala approaching at the six.

    "But Mister Masked Royal," Hau piped. "How did you know that we were on our trials?"

    Elio saw the Royal's face blanch for just a moment and he was about to crack the masquerade wide open like a walnut before his best friend cut him off.

    This is my chance. You're not able to fool me Professor Kukui!

    "Oh right! I bet it's because of our amulets right?"

    Damnit Hau!

    "Well I'm having a great time! Me and Dartrix, Pikachu and Eevee here all the same! And it seems like Sun is too!"

    Elio nodded.

    "That's fantastic! When you dragon rush your way into a Battle Royal, you get recognition, prizes and your Pokémon get to partake in the fun too! You also have a chance to make a name for yourself! Woo!"

    "I think it would be hard to concentrate if people yell like that though." Sun added.

    "What?" The Royal recoiled in shock before thrusting his face right in front of the boy's. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T CONCENTRATE WHILE I'M YELLING?! RELAX!"

    Woah there. Take a breath man.

    "I'm just saying." The group was then interrupted when throngs of people began to gather around, chatting excitedly with themselves about the presence of both an island kahuna and the Masked Royal.

    "You best be off on the trials." Hala said. "If you set off today, you can make it all the way to the base of Wela Volcano Park to set up a campsite by nightfall."

    "What about you gramps?" Hau asked.

    "I have my own business to attend to here on Akala. You keiki run along and enjoy yourselves. And always remember your Pokémon at your side."

    "Okay." The four teens waved as he peeled away from the group and exited the building. "Alola!"

    "And we," Elio elbowed Ed in the side. "Have a skills showoff to get ready for. It's not for a few hours, but I still say we try and reserve part of the court in order to warm up."

    "Ah, so you're going in the Pro Day too?"

    "Well I'm not an official entry since I'm not eligible," Elio answered. "But they do allow me to be Ed's partner for the drills and a potential replacement for an injured or absent player if need be."

    "That sounds fantastic! Woo!" The Royal said. "I shall inform your mother! And it is now my time to bounce out of here! You there Elio! Stop by when you return! We shall trade punches!"

    Trade punches?

    He leaned forward, a smirk playing on his face. "I'll let you go first."

    "Hold on a second," Ed inquired as they were exiting down the steps from the Dome. "How in the world does the Masked Royal know your mother?"

    His question seemed to strike a chord into Elio's head and he whipped around, furrowing his brow in complete confusion.

    Because it's freaking Professor Kukui!

    "Yeah that is kind of strange."

    "I'm not one to say anything, but you've probably been on your guard with your mother and all. I'm sure she's invited some guy over for wine or something. Maybe that island professor I saw in the Alola ad once. He seems like her type."

    Elio gave him a nasty look. "Ed, I love you like a brother. I really do and I'll say it again…some of the stuff you say is really strange."

    "I know." His lips curled in a devious smirk. "That's why I do it."

    "I think your new nickname is gonna be Ed the Matchmaker. I'm making it stick once you get drafted…mark my words."

    "Hell to the no! Ed the Playmaker is way better!"

    "You don't give yourself a nickname! It's earned!"

    "What? Then explain the Dark Knight?"

    "That's…different. That guy wanted to be called that and everyone liked it, so it stuck!"

    "Alright hoopsters!" Leilani called from a few feet ahead as she and Hau had begun walking away from them. "Decide on your nicknames later! How about we go shopping?!"

    "Shopping?!"

    "Eh, why not?"

    The eastern side of Pa'ani's main Royal Avenue was more of the residential section. Parts of the main highways and streets branched off into the capillaries of homes and a couple of schools. There was a big park that the quartet crossed through complete with a very fancy fountain complete with stone statues of magikarp spouting streams of water from their "mouths" A big field separated it from the streets where excited kids ran around playing a game of tag with others and some baby Pokémon while parents stood on the side, keeping a watchful eye.

    There was a big sign at the park's entrance stating that wearing a mask to obscure the face was prohibited. It seemed like it was also recently erected.

    Looks like this town's already tired of the crap Team Skull gives it.

    "Hey cool check this out guys!" Ed was kneeling down at one of the gardens surrounding the fancy fountain. He smiled as a tiny little Pokémon that looked like it was clinging to a flower was rubbing its head against his finger. The colors of the plant attached to it were a beautiful pink.

    "This is such a neat Pokémon!"

    That's a strange Pokémon for sure. I've never seen it before.

    "Hey Rotom, what kind of po-"

    "Hi there! Bzzt! Interrupting you becauzze I feel like it!" The loudly buzzing 'Dex was ready to jump right out before the boy could finish his question. "We've got a new Pokémon detected! Bzzt! Flabebe. Single bloom Pokémon. This Pokémon is found in gardens and is not safe until it finds a flower it likes. It will take the time to find the perfect flower, with some waiting for decades before deciding. Flabebe is a fairy type and a female only species. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "A fairy type?" Elio asked. "Don't see many of those around."

    "That'zzz becauzzze the fairy type was recently discovered! Bzzt!"

    "Discovered? So then what the hell was it before?"

    "Do I look like I know everything? Bzzt!"

    Sun rolled his eyes, trying not to direct it at the snickering trio behind him as well. "You're a Pokédex. You're supposed to know everything."

    "Indeed I do! There are more than four hundred recorded speciezzz found all over Alola'z four islandzz! And there are more being dizcovered every day! Bzzt! Zpeaking of which; we've got a couple more new Pokémon detected!"

    Everyone's gaze drifted back to Ed and saw that the flabebe he was playing around with was joined by a slightly larger fairy that resembled it. Instead of it clinging to a plant that was three times its own size, the newcomer held it in its arms like a parasol umbrella to shield the majority of its body…or provide it with sunlight.

    "Floette. Single bloom Pokémon. It is the evolved form of flabebe. A floette spends its time raising flowers and harnessing their power to defend flowerbeds. More beautiful blooms contain more power. Floette is a fairy type and a female only species. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    Rotom's screen shuffled off and panned to what looked like an oricorio. Unlike its yellow counterparts Elio had seen in Melemele Meadow, it was pinkish in color with a light feather crown and a long skirt. Its wings were less feathered, ending in three longer ones at the tips. They saw a pair of them flying down to sip from some of the pink flowers in the garden.

    "Oricorio in the Pa'u style allure its foes with gently swaying hips that melts their hearts. This elegant dance is widely recognized as the traditional dance of the Alolan people. Pa'u oricorio is a psychic and flying type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "I've actually never seen the traditional Alola dance before." Ed said. "But I've heard that it lifts spirits and is amazingly soothing."

    "Do you remember seeing those girls in those green skirts?" Hau asked. When Ed and Elio nodded, he continued. "The traditional Alolan dance is done to please the tapu and express thanks for them watching over us and giving us happiness. Much of it tell stories both old and new." He glanced at Leilani. "Plus I remember seeing her in the dance outfit."

    "Hau!" She looked away, trying to hide the flushed expression on her face.

    "Hey, I got nothing to say bad about it! You looked great! Even fantastic!"

    The blush remained in her cheeks. "Oh…uh mahalo."

    "Now we just gotta get Lillie in one too! Deck her out in a grass skirt, coconut bra and lei!" Hau added. "And then I bet even Elio would lose his mind!"

    "Count me in on that!"

    "Really guys?" Elio glared at them. "Really?"

    "This is gonna be so fun trying to hook those two up!"

    The last statement had escaped his thoughts, as he descended into a very interesting realm of imagining a certain blonde in the described outfit. He had seen it in advertisements back in Kanto with the long garlands of the flowers…lei as Hau and Leilani had described around her neck. The grass skirt woven neatly frayed up as the wind tugged on the loose blades. Elio could almost see Lillie right there, blonde hair blowing behind in a sexily manner. Her warm green eyes were radiant with a smile as she swung her arms about with a carefree joy. Elio felt his "gaze" wandering right down to her mesmerizing hips, centering right on her pale slender stomach as she drew nearer.

    "I think I broke him." Hau whispered. Sun, now realizing that everyone was silent and staring at him, yelped in surprise when Ed poked him in the shoulder.

    "Sorry. Did we ruin your fantasy with gorgeous right there?"

    "Okay, guys you all need to stop with this crap!" Elio suddenly snapped. "Will you ever let me off with this?"

    "Only until you admit it?"

    "That's it!" Sun pushed past them and walked on the path ahead. "I'm outta here. If you want to come shop at the center with me, be my guest, but this conversation is over!"

    "I'm with Elio on this one." Leilani chuckled. "He's too good for her."

    "I don't think so." Ed said, reaching out with a fist to Hau and the latter bumping it. "Just a hunch though. I'm still on board for the grass skirt and coconut bra operation."

    "Straight up brah." He leaned down to whisper into Hau's ear so that the others weren't able to eavesdrop. "By the way, I know now from a basketball team bonding night of spin the bottle that Elio's favorite part of a woman is her stomach."

    "What?" The kahuna's grandson was less subtle than he had hoped and the sudden question to break the silence. "Why?"

    "Keep it down," Ed glanced up, now seeing that Sun and Leilani were engaged in their own discussion and seemingly uninterested in what he had to say. "I have no idea. I suspect that he likes it because it's where his future baby will be growing or something."

    "Dang." Hau had to admit that it made sense. The basketball hopeful saw that the other boy glanced over at Leilani, zeroing in to stare at her stomach before back at him again. "You know, that's actually pretty deep."

    In front, but well aware of the others conversing; Sun gave another long roll of the eyes in exasperation.

    My two best friends conspiring to bring me down. What kind of people do I hang out with?

    I have to get that image of her out of my head. I'll be a full-fledged pervert by the time my island challenge is over.

    Lillie is a friend…nothing more. Just a friend. A. Friend.

    Elio silently thanked the tapu that the rather uncomfortable conversation had died down as they approached the town's retail section.

    Unlike Hau'oli's massive and sprawling shopping district, the one at Pa'ani was more open air, with long concrete promenades lining either side of the building. Overhead there was a slanted roof that protected the shoppers underneath from the sun's harsh rays or a sopping rainfall. Just on its inside was wooden signs sporting logos of the various shops that made up the center. Every now and then there were other stands selling food and other accessories seen in the malls from cell phone cases to sunblock.

    I keep forgetting how crazy overpriced it and relief lotion is here. The demand's always going to be there, so it's a good idea to go into the sunblock business here in Alola.

    They must have come at a more crowded time since the four had lost one another on occasion from the large crowds of people. They saw all different kinds from other groups of teenagers loudly chatting with one another to simple families going on a stroll in the Alolan afternoon.

    Surprisingly, the one that got a lot of attention and publicity was Ed. Being an up-and-coming basketball superstar that was constantly mentioned in the news meant that many were going to recognize his face. A lot of people he had never seen or met before constantly came up to the quartet, centering their gaze on the tallest boy within the group. They came up to shake his hand, wish him luck and there were a lot that were brandishing their cameras on their phones, hoping for a photo with the eventual pro player.

    "Man you're gonna rock the FBC!"

    "You're unstoppable Ed!"

    "I hope you play for the Pouncers!"

    "You'd make a great big three with Davis and Cousins!"

    "Eddie! Please marry me!"

    And then there was Elio's favorite. "The 'Canes uniform would look best on you!"

    Ed was definitely flattered with all his newfound attention, still not able to believe that he was this well-known and not even a professional yet. To their surprise, he remained quite humble about the showering of praise sent his way. He also wanted to prove to Elio as well as his peers that the newfound stardom was not going to make its way in over-inflating his ego no matter how sweet it tasted.

    The four checked out multiple shops, mostly boutiques at Leilani's insistence and talked among themselves about various things, from life on Alola, the island challenge and the future of basketball as they waited. The surfer seemed to take forever, beginning to test the boys' patience.

    "Whew." Ed breathed a sigh of relief as they exited the store. When she emerged from the doors back outside with yet another shopping bag that was put into a struggling Hau's hands, he and Elio echoed his sentiment.

    "So uh Leilani," Sun asked as they were nearly ready to exit the shopping center. "Are you finished?"

    "Well…yeah. You guys seemed to be getting bored. Remind me to never take boys shopping again." She glanced over at Hau, who had at least four large paper bags that appeared to hold considerable weight. "At least someone shows some mahalo for shopping with me."

    That's because he's probably head over heels for you. Which essentially makes you my rival for her heart! Loser goes for Lillie! There. Settled. Worst case scenario is that we'll just be friends anyway.

    "Now it's my turn." Ed gestured to one of the stores they hadn't seen just yet. Inside they could see that it sold a wide array of different sports and outdoors equipment with much of it looking very high end. Elio could recognize several famous name brands.

    "Uh Ed." He glanced at 'Dex's clock feature, showing that they had a little more than an hour. "We should probably start heading back to the Dome. Not that much time left."

    "I know bro, but we gotta get you something to wear." He gestured to his white and blue striped tee. "And that is not going to cut it. Remember, you're gonna represent and I need someone else in style to be my partner."

    "C'mon Elio!" Leilani encouraged. "Don't be so much of a stick in the sand!"

    "I'm not being a stick in the sand. I just don't want us to miss the pro skills showcase. The last thing all those teams want to see is you reporting for them later than your deadline. What do you think that tells them when you've got meetings to attend?"

    "Please Elio?" Ed bent his knees so that he was at the other boys' level, giving him an endearing look from a pair of pleading eyes. "I'll buy!"

    The boy sighed, knowing that he wasn't going to get out of this situation. "Alright. Let's be quick okay?"

    Some trendy music beat down from unseen speakers as the quartet made their way around the athletics apparel store. It had marbled floors and dark carpet with a sterile white lighting that reflected off the gray walls.

    The layout was very typical of a usual store that tailored to the athletes and enthusiasts who followed them in a less-than-obligated manner.

    Its back was an entire section dedicated to footwear, featuring hiking boots for those wanting to trudge Haleakala Point or Mauna Wela to the casual urban kicks with a rainbow of bright cheery colors in abstract patterns that turned heads.

    Some of it was way out of Sun's price range and apparently the better the shoe meant a higher asking price.

    One particular section had Elio all in awe however. He rifled through the display racks and shelves all devoted into finding that one perfect shirt. It had been so fixated through his mind that he failed to notice his three friends crossing their arms and smirking knowingly at him.

    "I had no idea he loved shopping for fashion." Leilani said, unable to hide her own surprise.

    "Well you talk about fashion like dresses and casual clothes? Nah…his mother does all that for him." He gestured to the basketball and trainer apparel. "This however…another story."

    "You guys are going to help me?" Elio half asked, half snapped. "Seriously, I can't decide here."

    They were in the section dominated by the dark sign close to the ceiling with the logo. It spelled Maple Apparel Outfitters in formatted arcs of what looked like electrical energy. The first word was in a dark ruby red color, middle in a bright white and finally the last word was a deep sapphire.

    In the sign's center and behind the text was a faint image of a Pokémon. It was humanoid in appearance with more along a female's figure. Her hands were slightly apart with the energy lances conducting in between to "formulate" the brand's logo.

    "Heh," Hau put his arms behind his head. "I kinda forgot that Elio is a big fan of Brendan Maple."

    "Elio follows Brendan too?!" Leilani practically squealed. "Oh my goodness he and May are soooo cute together! I can't believe they're getting married!"

    "Aaaand there she goes." Ed grinned. "You girls and your weddings!"

    "What? It's going to be sooo romantic! They just announced the wedding site and all!" The surfer took out her phone, tapping on it furiously and then turning it around to her companions.

    Ed and Hau peered at the article, depicting it as a beautiful site in the island city of Mossdeep overlooking the ocean. They stared at the couple overlooking the section while meeting with a minister and going through the ceremony in a rehearsal.

    Hoenn League Champion Brendan Maple was a young man in his early twenties with short messy brown hair and determined gray eyes. He had a very strong athletic build that was quite visible underneath the flamboyant band T-shirt and shorts he was wearing.

    Beside him, May was just slightly shorter with nearly an identical shade of brown hair. Unlike that of her fiancée; hers was straight and neatly tended to, flowing down just below her shoulders to meet the blouse.

    "I do have to admit they're an attractive couple." Ed said as he handed the phone back to her.

    "I know!" She looked at the image again. "Huh…are May's hips…a little bigger?"

    "Gotta love those hips."

    Okay, you need to decide man. Elio thought to himself. They're both so good! But I can only afford one! Why in the world does this stuff have to be so much?!

    He was holding two shirts, one in each hand that he equally liked, but was only able to buy one of them. Each one was his large size; made with a blend of cottonee and polyester thread and had the signature "vent" design on the back starting from the collar at the upper shoulders and circling underneath around the armpit to his front. The supposedly radical design called "Vent-TEK" made Sun roll his eyes, but it was effective for sure. That section was covered in mesh, allowing heat buildup in the underarm area to escape from within, keeping the wearer cool in both ways. The purpose was also to minimize odorous sweat from building up.

    The shirt on his left was colored blue with bold white letters "MOST FEARED"

    The shirt on his right was colored green with bold white letters "BECOME LEGEND"

    Both little quips were typical among the athletic wear of Maple Apparel Outfitters. Their message was to go out and achieve your goals and let nothing or nobody stand in your way. In one of Brendan's interviews after he had become the champion of the Hoenn League, he had stated that one of his aspirations was to help influence others to attaining their own goals as well. Seeing how younger trainers in Hoenn began to copy much from him including his fashion sense and hairstyle, he and May decided to partner up with a clothing brand and launch their own line tailored especially to trainers, performers and coordinators.

    Do I buy both and break the bank?

    There was another area to the Maple section across the aisle from all the men's trainer gear. Since Brendan focused on battling and becoming the world's strongest trainer, his fiancée May was taking a different approach, even though there were similar athletic shirts and shorts in a section for women as well.

    They were just like a supercouple, adored by fans, well known in the high profile area and news of their eventual matrimony was just as big of a news as them stopping the rampant entities of the land and sea just a couple of years ago.

    May's section of their brand included many fancily designed dresses with the signature line mimicking Brendan's star Pokémon, a gardevoir. Each one was slightly different in design but mainly featuring a pure silky white skirt with glittering gems neatly sewn into its surface. Some had reflective materials that changed color slightly depending on the light they were cast in and others had radically contrasting shades. The latter were off to the side in an entire area that had the dresses specifically for Pokémon performers and coordinators.

    "Wow." Leilani whispered and ran her hand along the smooth surface of one of the dresses. "They're so beautiful."

    "I know right?" Hau agreed, giving it a good look. It was a pure white color, strapless going down mid-thighs and flaring just slightly before the edge. He glanced up at the price tag and nearly had his eyes popping out of his head.

    Holy-! It's THAT much? I'm so glad I don't have to pay that for my clothes!

    Leilani's eyes went up to a picture board of May with the famous Grand Coordinator swiftly pointing at something out of camerashot and her fierce, but elegant bipedal fire Pokémon was in the midst of creating a dazzling inferno display. There was a similar shot of Brendan on the men's side but instead he was commanding a large greenish lizard Pokémon as it charged up a glowing blade on the side of its arm. "Use charm and style to steal the spotlight both in yourself and your Pokémon." She glanced back at the others. "This one will make me feel like a princess."

    Then I'm getting that. Screw the price.

    "Bro, we gotta get going like you said. You wanna come back to this Brendan shrine and do your daily bowing to him later?"

    Elio had decided on the Legend shirt and stared back at his friend. "What?! No! I do not worship him!"

    "You basically do. You just told me from memory of the ten best battles he's ever fought."

    "Okay…maybe I am a bit of a fanboy."

    "I'm still yanking your chain," Ed jerked his thumb across the aisle where Hau watched Leilani walk towards the front of the store and he had scooped up one of the white dresses the moment her attention went elsewhere. "And I think your pal Hau has a crush on your surfer friend."

    Hau likes her too?!

    Elio's hand began to curl itself into a fist.

    No. I'll get her one myself and give it to her first.

    He walked over to the gardevoir dress section.

    "Elio, what are you doing?"

    "I gotta do it before it's too late." He scanned the row of different designs. Which one would she even like?

    Sun decided on one that had a slightly longer skirt in a bodycon fashion. There was a thinner section right on the mid-stomach that was a mesh insert see-through with a glittering sapphire that hung from the lower cut neck. He had no doubt that she would look absolutely stunning in it.

    Get me a nice suit and we can go to a festival or dance together.

    Ed shook his head in disbelief as Elio made another last minute decision, grabbing the other athletic T-shirt and did a beeline for the closest checkout counter.

    Oh shoot. Do I have enough money?

    "That's life for ya." Ed couldn't stop laughing to himself as they walked behind an excited Leilani and Hau back towards the Royal Dome. The evening had settled in and after grabbing something to hold them over for food, made their way in that direction. Elio hadn't checked the price tag and nearly got lightheaded when the beauty cashier called out his total.

    This thing was almost a fifth of my savings. Goodbye Mom's pocket money.

    Even worse, she had gotten the idea that he and the boy before him were buying the dresses to impress the girl that accompanied them. Much to his dismay, she had opinionated that the first boy's dress would look better on the girl.

    "So who would you think this would look good on?"

    "Oh besides myself?" She had laughed lightly. "Heh, I'd say a blonde. It's hard to mess up finding a dress for one of them."

    Those words were unprocessed by Elio as he snagged the bag from her outstretched hand and bolted out the door. He did not notice the ravishing smirk growing on Ed's face as he followed.

    "You'll have to excuse my friend here." He chuckled as they made their way out the door. "I think he lost all his mannerisms while he was still in the womb."

    "I wish you would have warned me about it." Elio grumbled when they began to step up the flight of stairs that led back up to the dome. The surrounding crowds were a much different one in addition to the mix of tourists. Many wore different jerseys or fangear indicating the team they followed or favorite players. Others were coaches, officials and analysts in fancy dark suits. Seeing them made Elio realize that this was the first time he had actually seen people dress for business in Alola.

    It's kind of strange seeing all of them for the first time. People around here don't dress like that out in the open and those that do get all these funny looks.

    Hau and Leilani stood back just as Elio and Ed were about to enter. Sun noticed they weren't following and turned around.

    "You guys coming?"

    The latter shook her head. "Sorry. I gotta head over to Mauna Wela since Hau is going to try his trial tonight. My father helps out captain Kiawe and I'd also like to be there when he passes."

    "Yeah sorry bro." Hau stuck his pinkie and thumb out in a "hang loose" sign. "This is my perfect opportunity to get ahead of you." The lopsided smirk told him that it was more ways than just the island challenge.

    Elio turned to Ed, "See what you've roped me into? Now I'm going to be behind."

    "Hey, you didn't have to be my partner."

    "You asked!"

    "And you didn't have to say yes!"

    Can't back out now, but if Hau's going to be with Leilani, then he's going to give her that dress…maybe they'll go on a date and I'd lose my chance.

    Before he could act on anything; Leilani stepped forward with an eager smile.

    "Oh don't worry you two! I'll still be cheering for you both! Ed, I have no doubt you'll make it to the pros and make sure Elio gives you a fight!" She turned to him. "And you! I am going to get you onto a surfboard if it kills me! You gotta learn how to surf!"

    Elio smiled back at her. "I seriously can't wait! Good luck Hau!"

    "Thanks brah." He shook Ed's hand. "It was great to meet you."

    "Likewise." The taller boy said while returning the gesture. "Alola!"

    "Alola!"

    Elio and Ed watched as the two descended hurriedly back down the stairs before taking a pathway heading east where it began another road up to the mountain just around the corner that loomed in the distance.

    "You've got some great friends. I'm glad you're settling in good to your new life here."

    "Thanks Ed."

    "Look," He shook his head apologetically. "I'm sorry about all this pestering of you and-"

    "There's no need to apologize."

    "What? I'm trying to be serious here!"

    "As am I!" Elio couldn't help bursting out in laughter at his best friend's expense. "You're still that big bully from the damn playground and you say you read me like a book!"

    "You have a funny way of being serious and not at the same time. Just let me talk here."

    Elio nodded. "Sure."

    "Look man, I didn't want to be all pushy when it came to gorg…I'm sorry, Lillie. You're absolutely right. I've known you for more than half your life by now and all of your ups and downs. I get it that moving to Alola wasn't something you wanted or planned and it looks like I was right in that you hated the place when you got here."

    Ed looked back in the direction of where Hau and Leilani had gone. Of course they were well out of sight, but Elio knew exactly where he was going.

    "Even though you've got friends like those two, I can also tell that you and Lillie both hold a very special relationship. She seemed very delicate and vulnerable. She needs someone to comfort and protect her from all the uncertainty that's happening in her world. Be that person. Be that person she can hug tightly and have that shoulder to cry on."

    "Ed." Instead of his usual aggravated defensive tone, his name was whispered in a placid one.

    "After the shit you and your mother have been through, you both deserve to be happy. And I will do everything I can to make sure that happens whether you like it or not."

    "Ed."

    "Don't you try and protest this."

    "It's not that." Elio softly said. "Ed, you…you might be right."

    He opened his mouth to reply but was abruptly cut off by an announcement saying that all draft prospects needed to report to the locker rooms within the next few minutes. Elio had found a sign up above and pointed in its direction.

    "We better get going."

    The conversation had been stowed as Elio quickly got out his Legend shirt and basketball shorts. With another brotherly handshake of back patting and fist bumping, the two basketball players started weaving through the crowds, determined not to be late.

    They playfully bumped fists again at the entrance as a good luck charm that was done many times before big games.

    "Let's go make you a superstar."

    So another part of Royal Avenue down! We've got some more to cover and then hitting the accelerator to go back towards the fire trial. Some neat surprises are along the road too, so stay tuned!

    Translations:

    • Mo'opuna - grandson
    • Hi'ona - Very impressive
    • Ho'omaikaian'a iaoe! - Congratulations to you!
    • Mauna - Mountain
    • E mākaukau - Be prepared
    • Pa'u - Skirt. Refers to the grass woven skirt commonly seen at hula dances during luaus

    Mahalo for reading and reviewing. You give my writing purpose. I'll see you all next time!

    Brav
     
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  5. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Crown of ValorPoké Ball ★
    Alola readers!
    So I survived March Madness...I'm talking about the flying standby one...I don't do that bracket stuff. And it took me one and a half days to get back home across the country from Florida. Thankfully I did slip onto a flight that got me back home late last night and I was wayyy to tired to finalize the chapter. So...sorry about missing my two week deadline. I'll do my best to meet it next time.
    Anyways, at least the basketball March Madness part helped me out a little bit concerning the Pro Day stuff, which I found a little challenging to write. Hope it came out okay since the last part was one that I've decided to split into this chapter and next to avoid compressing it into one huge update.
    Enjoy the chapter guys.


    Elio looked like he had so much fun out there playing with Ed. They way he moves when he dribbles that ball is really something and I couldn't help but laugh at the couple of times during the exhibition game where he made the other person slip and fall. He's really something. I wrote a letter to him saying that Nebby and I happened to be flipping channels when we saw him play.

    What I found interesting was that his Pokémon were on the sidelines cheering him on too! I'm so glad he had Litten evolve and saw his new friends for real. I can't wait to meet all of them.

    There's a lot of other things happening too. Hau seems to have left to go to take on the trials while everyone's been talking about kahuna Olivia and how she suspended passage through the Diglett's Tunnel since there have been these weird sound anomalies that have been recently popping up in there.

    I hope it's nothing bad. If Elio goes through...please let him be safe! I don't want anything to happen to him!

    Dear Elio,

    Nebby and I were watching TV when I couldn't believe you were in that basketball game! What a huge coincidence when we were looking around and saw both you and Ed on there! No offense, but you look kind of small, but you have surprisingly big muscles too!

    Just so you know, Nebby and I were cheering you on from the hotel. I know you can't hear us all the way in the court, but we're here supporting you all the way! I don't know all the rules of basketball, but you seem to be great at shooting the ball from far away! Every time you scored that…was it called a three point shot? Anyways, every time you did that; Nebby went crazy excited and I had to keep it from bouncing off the walls. Hehe. Even your Pokémon looked like they were having a good amount of fun too!

    But I'm sure you're wanting to get back on your trials! You've knocked down two so far! It's a long way ahead, but if anyone can do it all…it's you!

    I miss you.

    Sincerely,

    Lillie

    "Ladies and gentlemen, this has been quite an interesting matchup thus far." Lillie leaned closer as she sat on the bed in her Tide Song Hotel Room, listening to the middle aged anchors chat to the viewers and one another about the intense game going on. Nebby was cradled in her arms, watching the screen with intent. "The entirety of the Pro Day Skills Showcase has been one of the most spectacular so far kicking off in its new location here on the Alola Region's very own Akala Island! A region rich in tradition and culture unlike any other place in the world, we say mahalo for your hospitality!" The two men waved their hands in the rainbow greeting, laughing to themselves.

    "Enough about that. You've all been waiting for the final few minutes of the Rising Stars versus the Up-And-Coming where we pit the draftee players up against one another in an exhibition game to help tune them to how the FBC is going to work. For those that are playing, this could make or break their chance to don an FBC jersey and have their name called up to join the professionals in just a couple of weeks!"

    "That's right Kevin, much of the players have impressed the majority of team managers however the highlight has been on Edmund Dahm all game long! The elected team captain of the Rising Stars has pummeled the Up-And-Coming defense to a pulp with his inside rim attack and layups, which is one of his biggest fortes. Dahm leads the game in scoring with twenty two points, eight assists and six rebounds!"

    As they were discussing Dahm's skills, Lillie saw a reel of clips from earlier in the game of how aggressive Ed was in basketball. He dribbled insanely well and used his larger size against the player guarding him for an advantage. Many times, he picked the perfect opportunities to advance right to the basket and lay it up in the backboard for a quick score.

    "Dahm's big and physical ability allows him to play adequate defense and keep other small forwards at bay. This guy is a once in a generation player and it will not surprise me if teams start trading up on the board to get a better chance at his services."

    "Also interesting is Dahm's Pro Day partner. Elio Northstar."

    Lillie's heart stopped. Even Nebby's eyes went wide upon seeing Elio in his basketball uniform. The Rising Stars sported black and silver jerseys with two stars on the upper sleeves and an imprint of their last name on the back. Elio's required almost the entire space.

    "Northstar would've been invited to participate in the Pro Day Showcase had an injury not caused him to miss the majority of his final season. However it shows that he hasn't lost a step since then. This is the reason why Ed picked him! The duo compliment each other so well! Pick your poison. Elio is just one of a perfect fits for a point guard here! He can direct the players where he wants to go, sling passes through tight windows like a quarterback and his three for six three point attempts have been like daggers in the Up-And-Coming. Sadly, Elio will not be eligible for draft due to his absence and we're also getting word that he has picked up a career as a Pokémon trainer, evidenced by the team of Pokémon that is on his side."

    Lillie felt her heart flutter just slightly as one of the clips played from a different angle. Ed held the ball, dribbling it as if driving up for a layup, but then at the last second one handed passed the ball over to Elio on the court's other side, who circled to the outside semi-circle of the court.

    Another boy was jumping up in his way in an attempt to block his shot, however he had anticipated it too early. Elio hesitated, waiting for the blocker to move. He faked an outside attack, stopping suddenly and making the blocker wipe out on the floor. The entire crowd had gasped as he raised his arms and arcing the basketball in a perfect release. The shot was replayed in slow motion and her eyes drifted to the contoured muscles on his broad shoulders in mid-form that looked so...amazing. His expression was nonexistent, but she knew that he was using that same laser focus as he did whenever he was engaging in the middle of an intense Pokémon battle.

    So...perfect...Gah! No! Stop thinking about him like that!

    Even though it was just a highlight of a play happening earlier, the blonde couldn't help but bounce up and down at the end of the bed. Nebby had caught her infectious enthusiasm and it was just as happy at seeing the boy do something to excite the crowd.

    "Yes! Go Elio!"

    "Pew!"

    "There's still three minutes left in the game to determine the winner and despite efforts from Dahm and Northstar, the Rising Stars are still behind the Up-And-Coming by seven. Can they rally from the deficit to win the final event? Or will they be snuffed at the buzzer? Let's find out now!"

    Come on Elio. Lillie said to herself. I've been waiting all day to watch you since Professor Kukui said you were going to be on TV. I believe in you! Just win baby!

    Elio had to admit that this was among the most fun he had during a basketball game. His adrenaline fired through his body like thousands of electric shocks, people were all up on their feet cheering both teams on and he loved their elation when someone made a big play.

    Especially when it was him.

    Heh. I still got it.

    The team's coach normally was the head for the Jubilife Blues, having been selected among his peers in the tradition of having two FBC heads coach either side of the upcoming draftees in the game. The Blues were far from his favorite team, but he still felt very honored to briefly play for someone who was used to coaching the professionals.

    So far, the game had been a back and forth pendulum. His team, the Rising Stars had jumped to an early lead thanks to the center and Ed's efforts. However they had quickly noticed the defense had been fractured by the end of the second quarter. The first's lead of sixteen points had dropped to four by the time half struck.

    The Up-And-Coming took advantage of their lull, instead of focusing more on their own offense, cranked up the defense and forced mismatches to turn the ball over. Elio had the ball stolen from him twice and missed a crucial three point jumper that would've placed them back in the lead once the third quarter came to a close.

    The fourth quarter had a total of six lead changes thus far and the Up-And-Coming had built themselves a seven point lead. There was three minutes remaining, still plenty of basketball to be played.

    We can do this.

    Sun was breathing heavily as he dribbled the ball hurriedly back onto the court. His guard kept up with him, knowing in the back of his head that it was the point guard's intention to remain beyond the boundary line to try and cut the lead down to four.

    No matter how much Elio tried to juke him, his defender stayed rooted in front, waving his arms about in an attempt to block him. He furtively glanced about in an attempt to find people open. Many black and silver jerseys were moving about, but the guards had kept close.

    Suppose I'll shoot.

    Elio raised his arms, just as the player guarding him took the split second advantage to swipe his hand in and tip the ball's trajectory ever so slightly.

    It was just enough for it to fall down out of Elio's reach as the opposing player quickly scooped it up and began dribbling back to the other side of the court. He only watched helplessly as a particularly large center had gotten the best of Ed and raised it up for a dunk.

    The smaller boy had jumped up at the same time, tipping it almost in a same manner as Elio had done to himself a moment ago. As the crowd gasped, Ed had used its momentum to bounce it in mid-court.

    Most of the other players were already just beginning to transition to the opposing goal when Elio rolled right to his feet, intercepting the loose ball and positioning himself within three point range.

    Everyone in the bleachers stood up as he raised his arms, letting the projectile arc through the air. He held his breath as it sailed to the rim. There was no metallic clang of it deflecting off and he had already turned around when everyone was loudly cheering from the result. Down by four.

    Unbeknownst to him, there was a certain blonde and tiny Pokémon who were jumping up and down with excitement at his score.

    It went back the Stars' way. Their defense had held on the opposing possession as Elio took the ball once more. He saw a mismatch to the center; passing it forth and then receiving it back moments later. A second mismatch opened up with Ed and he tossed it forth, allowing the larger player to grab it with one hand and throw it down in a nasty dunk. Elio couldn't help but laugh and grin like a maniac when he briefly saw his friend stick his tongue out for all the cameras to capture.

    Fourteen seconds left. Once again, the Stars defense held their ground and Elio had to either make a three to win the game or a two to at least tie it.

    The Up-And-Coming kept their defense tight as usual, trying to stay within the boundary of the three point goal line in order to keep him at bay. He had to make his decision soon and knew that it was a safer option to go for two points instead of risking a three to lose the game. He was very confident in the ability, however he wasn't playing for keeps as much as his teammates.

    And I don't want to let them down.

    Elio dribbled for two seconds, moving to the left and suddenly changing directions to the right, leaving his opponent suddenly unable to keep up. He stepped aside, now seeing how it was four seconds. Another defender was approaching him, ready to block.

    Ed!

    "ED!"

    The small forward glanced up as Elio narrowly threw a pass across the court, almost in danger of getting stolen. He reached out, grabbing the ball and putting his arms up to shoot.

    And then disaster struck. The buzzer sounded a split second after the ball left his hands. It sailed through the air and everything seemed to get drowned out as the rim clanged, sending the basketball back down onto the court.

    We failed.

    "That is the ball game!" Elio tuned out the announcers. "The Up-And-Coming have barely held onto a win against the Rising Stars! Final score…Ninety two to Ninety one! Thanks for coming folks!"

    Elio felt his limbs go numb, even as the two teams met in the court's center to congratulate one another. Things started to spin in his head as he contemplated on how much he failed Ed and the rest of the team.

    We didn't win. It's my own damn fault.

    "Hey, don't be such a downer." Ed playfully slapped Elio's shoulder as the two began to throw on their casual clothes. Elio's arms were just slightly wet from the shower where he had stood in silence, wondering if his efforts had all been in vain.

    "We lost though."

    "You gotta stop worrying all about that. There's a reason that the Pro Day is more about having fun and publicity than who tops the scoreboard."

    "But I could've cost you draft stock."

    "Maybe." Ed said, "But it doesn't matter. It's for fun dude! Stop taking things so seriously!"

    Maybe Hau is right. I do take competitions a bit too much.

    That Gladion kid is a reminder of what I could be if I did do that.

    "Because then, you'd be as friendly as Hau is. If you're not having fun, you'll be as grouchy and have a stick up your ass just like that edgy Gladion kid…which is zero percent approachable. That guy has no people skills."

    "I'll tell him that next time we meet." Elio said.

    "You can say that I said that too. Shove the stick in a little further."

    Elio laughed. "Alright. All for fun then. Thanks Ed."

    "Anything for you brother."

    Elio had awoken the next morning early as usual and was joined by Ed as they jogged together a couple blocks around the town. They opted for their athlete clothes; a pair of basketball shorts and their Maple Apparel quick-drying shirts. Ed had his "DEFIANT" one that had just come out of the washer while Elio wore the one he didn't use during the Pro Day Showcase "MOST FEARED" Wanting some of his Pokémon to have some exercise, he decided to have Torracat and Rockruff tag along and they kept pace alongside their trainer on the sidewalks.

    Surprisingly, the sun was barely up and other early morning runners gave a friendly wave and "Alola!" as they passed by. Elio returned the gesture while Ed was marveling at the warmth and outgoingness of the Alolan people. They kept a slower, but steady pace to chat sparingly as they got their heart rates up and sweat beading down their foreheads.

    "Wow." He breathed as the two of them stopped at the park close to the shopping venue they had visited yesterday. "I'm just amazed at how friendly people here in Alola are."

    "Right?" Elio agreed. He reached into the fanny pack strapped around Ed's waist and removed two small bottles of water. Caps were twisted off as they gulped thirstily while catching their breath beside one of the benches.

    "I'll go ahead and say it again; you and your mother picked a fantastic place to live." He glanced around. "What I would do to get a summer home here."

    Elio's eyes lit up. "Well maybe once you've got all that money after playing for so long, you can get yourself a house on Melemele Island. I'm sure something will be within your price range and your parents would appreciate it too."

    "Yeah sure."

    "It's definitely good to consider."

    "Gonna miss here for sure. The sun, beaches, food and everything."

    Oh that's right. Sun's face fell as he realized that Ed's stay in Alola wasn't indefinite. He'll have to go back to Kanto soon.

    "When are you leaving?"

    "Oh uh." He glanced at his Poketch 2.0, the evolution of the Sinnohan designed Poketch that had taken off as a fashion trend in the last decade. "Day after tomorrow. Flight leaves in the morning."

    "Nice. Really neat that you can use the Poketch. Wish I had one."

    Introduced by the company of the same name in Jubilife City, it had quickly taken off in the northern region, able to link up with most of the modern phones to log events, read news and even take or respond to messages sent by others. Elio had listed one down in his Christmas and birthday wish lists, however he had yet to receive it as a gift.

    Trainers going on a journey in Sinnoh did have an opportunity to earn a special stripped down model called the Poketch 2.0T that was specifically tailored to them, featuring additional apps exclusive to the T such as a summary of a trainer's roster and analysis of different type matchups determining their effectiveness.

    Since their introduction and the world slowly modernizing into a digital format, the Poketch Company was integrating itself into everyday life, offering more apps and features to allow it a multitude of uses. It had grown from a simple garage company in the Jubilife suburbs to a mega-tech corporation that was headquartered in one of the tallest towers in Sinnoh's largest city.

    Elio heard that one app in the standard versions had an automatic payment app. All you had to do was flash it to the payment pad and it would automatically transfer the allotted money and complete transactions even easier than ever before.

    Ed wore the Poketch 2.0S model, the sport model that was more durable than its normal counterparts, also being able to be used at a depth of twenty five meters underwater. A pedometer showed that he had already exceeded his daily goal of fifteen thousand steps. A second monitor was keeping an eye on his heart rate, set at a hundred fifteen beats per minute, five underneath his maximum limit.

    "Well I was wondering."

    "Yes."

    "I didn't even say it yet."

    "And I already know what it's going to be." Ed bent his knees down to Elio's height and put on one of his mocking faces. "Oh Ed, I was wondering if you could travel with me as I go take on another trial to impress gorgeous for my island challenge."

    Wow. From teammate to annoying older brother in a day.

    "How about yes? I'd love to come and see a little bit of Alola for myself! And if you can conquer a trial two days from now, I'm down for it!"

    "Then it's decided." Elio bent down to ruffle Torracat and Rockruff's fur. "We'll have to head out tomorrow morning and get there by midday."

    "You have to do me a solid though."

    "Sure." He was certain he wasn't going to like it, but the thought of having his friend along for the ride to watch his next trial had him thrilled to bits.

    "You need to tell Lillie how you feel."

    Tell her?

    "Ed I can't do that."

    "Why not?"

    "What am I going to say? I really like you?"

    "Yes!"

    "But Lei-"

    "Forget about Leilani for just a moment. What if I told Lillie that you were crushing hard on Leilani and wanted to keep her as just a friend?" Ed's face turned serious. "Think about that for a second."

    Elio did just that.

    I like Lillie. I really do. But does she have enough time or worries enough about other things like Nebby to even consider me?

    "You know the dreaded term friendzoned?"

    "Yes."

    "Well it may surprise you buddy, but it's not just guys who get friendzoned. Girls can get it too."

    "I know."

    "That's exactly my point." Ed said as he finished his water. "I can see how much you really care about your surfer friend Leilani there, but don't forget Lillie too."

    "And if she says no?"

    "You're not asking her to marry you!" The basketball player spread his hands out in exasperation. "Well not yet. But the point is, that if Lillie were to find out that you wanted to ask Leilani on a date, not only would you have to compete with Hau, but she'd feel left out."

    Elio sighed. Ed was right. In all of him contemplating in the letters he had written to her, he had indicated numerous times of his intention to ask the surfer out. It also escaped his oversight in the fact that she was very encouraging and stole several glances at Hau whenever she had gotten the chance. The kahuna's grandson was not shy about letting her know he was interested too. Since he could tell that both of them harbored strong feelings towards one another, he realized that throwing himself into that mix would drive a rift through everyone.

    I want to still remain friends with all of them. Ed has a point. I could put a strain on my own friendship with Hau and Leilani as well if I decide to come in between them.

    But Ed's right again. Lillie needs me…she needs me to be this friend and someone in her corner.

    "What should I do?" Elio whispered. He felt a strange pitted feeling right in his gut just at the thought of her not being close by.

    Through the entire journey, he had forgotten all about her aside from the letters. It was different from Melemele, when he would often wonder aloud while going along the north shores of his home island about how Professor Kukui's young assistant was doing. On Akala, any thoughts of her had been rearranged to the back of his mind once he had sealed the envelope. Same with Nebby. Sun suddenly felt very regretful that he had never inquired about the little cosmog he had started to grow very attached to.

    I will fix that in my next letter. Lillie needs to know that I think about Nebby too.

    There had been so much going on. Team Skull, trials, the basketball showcase were to say the least. He would fully admit that it was difficult juggling all the priorities doing the island challenge.

    He also had to admit that he was thinking about Leilani much more than Lillie.

    Writing to Lillie to show her how much she means to me is the least I could do. Best keep that up.

    "Okay." He finally said. "I'll think of at least something."

    It was the next morning, close to nine when Elio and Ed were set for the road. Judging by the map on 'Dex's display screen, it would take them at least a couple of hours to get to the base of Mauna Wela, where the trial captain Kiawe would await his arrival.

    Elio quickly hopped in the shower before drying himself off and throwing on his black and red shorts and striped blue tee. When Ed walked out, releasing a puff of steam into the hotel room, he had shook his head at seeing the younger player's outfit.

    "You and that shirt."

    "This shirt and I have been through it all."

    "But the stripes! That's so three years ago!

    "It's sentimental to me!" Elio shot back.

    "You're gonna look odd."

    "The only way this shirt is coming off is if it gets ripped." Sun pulled on it before slinging his backpack over his shoulder. "You know it better than anyone. Plus it's cheap."

    "Don't tell me your mom still picks out your clothes for you."

    Ed opted to wear one of the Maple Apparel shirts, a white shaded one that stamped "CHALLENGE ME" in the same bold black letters across the chest. A pair of basketball shorts, a hybrid coloring of dark gray and neon yellow draped low down his legs past the knees and covering part of the shin. Only a slight bit of skin was completely exposed thanks to the long socks he was also wearing.

    Initially he was against wearing a backpack, but agreed after Elio had insisted that he need some water, food and possibly a hiking stick.

    "A stick?"

    "Yes a stick." They had neared the ramp onto the highway going on Akala's east side and Elio spotted a large building with a parking lot that seemed to be getting a lot of business, evidenced by the good amount of cars parked and moving about in the asphalt lot in front. "Technically they're called trekking poles, but they're used often to keep a hiker's balance and assist in climbing slopes. I assure you we're going to see plenty of that judging by where 'Dex is pointing at the next trial site."

    "Are those the things you see hikers use when they backpack across Kalos, staying in those hotel thingys?"

    "You mean hostels?"

    "Yes those."

    "Then yes. You're correct." Halfway around the world was the Kalos region; another area that was well known for its extensive tourism industry. One popular thing to do was to slide on a backpack with a handful of essentials and trek the nexus of rural paths cutting through the region. The hostels served as stopping points in both the city and backwater areas of the region. For a small fee, the owner of a house or apartment would allow a traveler to sleep in a bed in a dormitory style room. Most would have kitchenettes for cooking and common lounges for the duration of the stay.

    Elio had always wanted to do a short backpacking trip, possibly across Unova or Kalos and the hostel system made things easier. He knew that he could even meet new people this way.

    I've even heard people find their future spouses just because they happen to be staying in the same hostel.

    "Do whatever you need to do man." Ed said. "You're the one taking me on the adventure."

    "And the best thing you can do," Elio pointed to the store's entrance, glancing over at the sign next to the road's opening "Thrifty Megamart". "Is being properly prepared."

    Elio had been to many retail centers before. Tanaka's was one of the largest all-purpose hypermarket chains on mainland Kanto and Johto with a few locations in southern Sinnoh. There were also the HALO grocers that offered higher quality products at the turnaround of higher pricing and the Neighborhood Market which had stuck to smaller communities and put an emphasis on obtaining goods and food from localized sources.

    So he wasn't completely sure what to expect when he walked into this Thrifty Megamart. Either way, he was short on medicine and poke balls and had to compromise since a sign back at the halemai had stated that the next shipment of things for the mart inside of it was going to be delayed a couple of days.

    Sun saw other trainers that he had seen earlier from the Battle Royal and inside the Pokémon center already shopping around. They had gotten the same idea as him to get their own supplies before the next rush hit.

    "Damn." Ed whistled lowly as he looked around the white sterile floors and tall elongated aisles full of colorfully arranged products. Some vibrant upbeat music softly played from unseen speakers overhead. "You can get everything here. It's just like the Super Tanaka's."

    "Alola!" Both boys turned around to see a cheery employee dressed in what they had presumed to be the Megamart's uniform. It was a pale yellow polo shirt with long pants, belt and a bright blue apron over his front. "And welcome to the Thrifty Megamart! It's where our sales are just as explosive as our products!"

    Wait the products AND sales are explosive?

    "Here!" The employee reached into one of the pockets of his apron and handed both boys a slip of paper each. "This is a discount coupon that can be only used at our store!"

    Oh wow. Fifty percent off the entire purchase?!

    "Now shop until you drop! Or at least until you run out of savings!"

    "Thanks!"

    "Mahalo!"

    Elio laughed as soon as the two grabbed a shopping cart and pulled down one of the aisles. Ed's face was already snickering even before they had gotten out of earshot.

    "Hahaha!"

    "Oh my freaking goodness!"

    "Did you hear what he said?" Elio burst out into another fit of giggles again. "The sales are just as explosive as our products!"

    "They better lawyer up if that's true!" Ed's grin never faded. "But still, you see how dirt cheap stuff is here?"

    "I know. We best stock up."

    Even though Elio was aware of the rule bringing Pokémon into public retail, he figured that Torracat and Rockruff were mild mannered enough to suffice. Both Pokémon let out quiet cries of affection and nuzzled their trainer's leg.

    "Heh." Ed found the stifled laughs of his younger friend to be heartwarming to say the least. He couldn't help but smile as Elio knelt down in front, saying something that excited both Pokémon and ruffling their heads.

    "Now let's see what we need to get. Rotom, start a shopping list."

    "The trekking poles." Ed reminded him.

    "And that means a backpack for you."

    "What's wrong with what I have?"

    "I ain't carrying your shit."

    "Can you at least pay fo-"

    "No."

    "And that should be it." Sun dropped the traveler size tube of toothpaste on his side of the cart. One of the things he had needed to resupply on was his toiletries, hence his visit to the pharmaceutical section. Along with the tube, he also was set to buy a compact toothbrush, stick of deodorant, towelette and bottle of multipurpose hair and body wash.

    "We're back." Ed said, finally setting a rain cover over his pile of things. Aside from the backpack, he had gotten the trekking poles, a pair of longer hiking pants and a hat. He opted to use his basketball water bottle, which could fit into a strap holder on the side of the pack.

    Elio raised an eyebrow when he saw Torracat and Rockruff staring up at him beside Ed. The former had a bag of premium assorted flavor poffins in his mouth.

    "Really guys?"

    "Tor?"

    "Ruff?"

    Sun shook his head. "You guys even know how much those cost?"

    "Ruff."

    He sighed again. "Alright fine. But you will all get them when you've all worked hard. Understand?"

    His Pokémon nodded eagerly.

    "Good."

    "Hey, do you think your mother would want a photo of us at the game to add to your scrapbook?"

    Ed's inquiry had just set off a delayed time bomb in Elio's head. "Oh shoot! I totally forgot! Son of a…ugh!"

    "What? Did I trigger some PTSD or something?"

    "What? No!" He jerked his thumb back to Rotom who was trailing behind them. "Back when I started my journey with Hau and Lillie, this jokester thought it would be funny to take a surprise picture of the three of us."

    "Yup that'zz right! Bzzt!" Rotom floated in front of Ed, shifting its screen to show a rather comical picture of them right on Hau'oli City's Kalakaua Avenue with the ocean in the background.

    Elio was in the middle, with a half-angry, half-surprised expression on his face and frozen in the image as he dove forward to contain the mischievous device. Lillie to his left had her eyes and mouth open in a mix of surprised horror.

    To his right; Hau had the perfect opportunity to flash a photogenic goofy smile while the pointer and middle fingers on his left hand were extended in a "peace" sign.

    "Wowee!" Rotom spun around happily. "You zhould've heard Elio here freak out! He wazzz all like Rotom! Go and put that shiBZZT away!"

    There it was again. What's the deal with Rotom doing that?

    "Hold on," Ed leaned forward, surprised to hear the 'Dex cut out in the middle of a word by a burst of static. "Elio said what?"

    "Go and put that shiBZZT away!"

    "He acts up like this sometimes. Did it at Brooklet Hill too."

    "Strange. Anyway, I think it would be really cool to send some pictures out to your friends. Maybe one to your mother, one to Hau and Leilani since those two seem to be attached at the hip now and lastly one to gorgeous."

    Elio nodded. "That does remind me that I totally forgot to send Hau and Lillie a picture of us three. Rotom actually took a nice one."

    "Alwayz ready to zerve! Bzzt!"

    "Then let's do it." Ed pointed towards the other side of the store, where there was a large section dedicated to photo development. "Looks like you can even send it out here."

    The process didn't take long to upload it into the laminated printer, however the development time would take a while. The attendant and her Pokémon companion, a small pink and blue squid-like creature were hard at work to stock the machine up with strains of ink.

    "Bzzt! New Pokémon detected!" Rotom buzzed just after he fed a copy of the pictures into the printer. "Inkay. Revolving Pokémon. Inkay communicates with others of its kind by flashing the light patterns on its body. The rhythm of flashes is complex and can also be used to draw in its prey. Inkay is a dark and psychic type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Pretty handy little guy huh?"

    "All right." The counter girl displayed the photos, which Elio approved and seated them next to a set of envelopes. He almost flipped when he saw that the stock of them too were in short supply with only three kinds available and one of each. There was one that had a black and orange design of an angry pattern called War Paint, another was plain white and the third…Sun cringed at the third one.

    Even Ed was a little unnerved at the hot pink shade of the Amour envelope, along with the dark outline of a luvdisc on its front and the hula girl. Emanating from it somewhere was a slightly sweet pecha fragrance. Both boys found the scent disorienting.

    Just my luck.

    Elio quickly paid and practically scribbled down addresses on a paper that would copy it onto the envelope to make it seem neater. Since Hau was going to be moving about, Elio had instead used his trainer account on Festival Plaza. A delivery fearow from Alola's famous postal service would track him down at the nearest Pokémon center for the postmaster and send a notification through the app. This was done since the nomadic nature of traveling trainers made it almost impossible to nail down an exact location. Something else caught his eye and he had blitzed over, wanting to be at least a little more thoughtful to one of his friends.

    Yeah I bet she and Nebby are pretty lonely there at the hotel all the time. I'm sure they'll appreciate this.

    "Thank you sir." The girl accepted the envelopes and gasped in surprise when Elio suddenly placed down a blue box full of macadamia nuts all covered in chocolate.

    "Can you ship this along with the one going to the Tide Song Hotel?" He remembered Lillie's room number as well. "It's at room three eleven."

    "Of course sir. Do you care which?" She had glanced back up to find out that Elio had run off again. Ed had looked in the direction where he had gone, only to shake her head.

    "Sorry about that. When it comes to shopping and all, he does that all the time. I swear all his manners got lost while he was in the womb."

    "Okay." Elio shuffled through the baskets of poke balls close to the checkout lane. His cart was now stocked with various capsules of medicine and potions he would need for the journey ahead. "Nest balls? Already got some. Pass. Heal balls? Useless when you've got a full team." He saw a new kind of Poké Ball that was gray and red trim over the white surface. "Oh what's this?"

    "That'zz a timer ball! Bzzt!" Rotom piped up. "They have a better chance of capturing wild Pokémon the longer the battle! Bzzt!"

    That will definitely be useful. Sun said as he grabbed a handful and dropped them into the cart. He glanced down to see Torracat and Rockruff by his side.

    "You guys need anything else?"

    They shook their heads.

    "Good. Let's find Ed and check out."

    "Seriously, can you believe how much we spent on that?" Ed grinned as they walked along the path. After finally paying and seeing that the letters and his box of chocolate macadamias had been set to be shipped out, the two of them stopped at the curb, packing stuff away.

    Elio had to take a second glance at his receipt. It was much much lower than what he had initially suspected for the amount and quality of items that he had bought.

    Quality's questionable though. Cheaply priced stuff tends to be cheaply manufactured.

    At least the poke balls were legit. Elio knew that each one had a seal and serial number of authenticity applied to its bottom from an official manufacturer; this one coming from the Silph megacorporation based out of Saffron City in Kanto.

    Trainers were urged to only use them from officially licensed fabricators as the crudely made or substandard variants had the chance to seriously hamper the Pokémon's physical and mental health. Nevertheless, there had been those who have tried to sell off cheaply made counterfeit poke balls to naïve trainers.

    Elio just had to be careful, but at least he was in the clear for the Megamart. The Poké Ball section had a large certificate hanging at its entrance depicting the Silph Corporation as its supplier. Just about every single government in the world with a Pokémon league imposed sanctions regulating the sale of the capsules to licensed retailers. A violation by the trainer or retailer could result in serious fines and reprimanding action.

    Even the manufacturers themselves weren't safe. Quality control had to be strictly enforced and intervals for testing of quality and safety for trainer and Pokémon were random and frequent. It was still difficult to produce a copy of a Poké Ball; however counterfeiters were continuing to get craftier.

    Those timer balls would come useful for more stubborn Pokémon to catch. Elio also received a pair of white and red ones called premier balls that were supposedly more of a cosmetic. He did have to admit that they looked a lot cooler than the standard.

    "Stuff bought. Stuff sent out." Elio pulled the straps of his backpack over his shoulders and shrugged into the loops. "You good to go? We've got a bit of a hike in front of us."

    "Ed is ready for anything." He hefted his own pack and slipped on his silver designer sunglasses. "Bring it on!"

    Talk was abundant as the two friends joked and laughed together while trudging the path. The temperature now began to go from the warm morning to the steaming hot midday. Sun shining directly overhead, the two stopped in the shade of a large tree to quickly slather on a layer of sunblock to protect their skin from the rays.

    East Akala was much less urbanized than the western part. It was home to more craggy rock coastlines and long outcroppings where fishermen often sat on buckets with their rods cast in the drink. It was a particularly hot day, so he seldom saw anyone with a successful hook.

    One of them however did manage to hook a blue and pink fish Pokémon with large rear fins that looked like a butterfree. Even after congratulating him on the catch, he decided to challenge Elio to a battle after the boy said that he had Feebas.

    "New Pokémon detected!" Of course 'Dex had to have a say in prior to them starting. "Finneon. Wing fish Pokémon. Its double finned tails propel its impressive jumps out of the water. Sunlight absorbed by the pink areas of their skin will reflect during the day and glow at night, making them popular for night swims and dives. Finneon is a water type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    It was there that he learned she was more than just a splashing fish. Much of her movements were sporadic when she fought. Not every attack order of his was followed instantaneously, but she still had a strong dragon pulse attack that was telegraphed on charging miles away and slow moving, giving the more agile finneon more than enough time to dodge it.

    One however had found its mark, amazingly taking out the fish in one single blow. The fisherman remarked that it was definitely a special feebas before handing Elio some money for the winnings.

    "Good luck on your trials kid. Now I just gotta get back to Heahea in order to go back home to Konikoni City. Figures I'd blow my ferry money on some battle."

    Ferry money?

    "But zir?" Rotom buzzed, catching the man's attention again. "What about Diglett'z Tunnel? That would zave you approximately forty eight minutezzz of travel az well az twenty dollarz for a ferry fee. Bzzt!"

    "Yeah." Elio held the money back out. "Here. Use it to get home."

    The fisherman laughed, but waved a dismissive hand. "Thanks kid, but you've earned it. I'll just have to explain to the wife what's going on during my days off is all. Hopefully this ruckus in Diglett's Tunnel will die down soon enough, but if it doesn't, I'd advise you to have a strong water Pokémon at your side if you need to go through."

    Elio and Ed thanked him and they parted ways, although not before the former attempted once more to try and hand back the money for the ferry fee. He was once again allowed to keep it.

    "He waz correct though. There are zeveral reportzzz of abnormal activity in Diglett'z Tunnel! Bzzt!" Rotom brought his screen up in a live shot of an attractive reporter standing next to Kahuna Olivia in front of a large mouth of a cave. He noticed that the dark skinned woman was wearing what appeared to be a cream colored robe that covered some bare sections of her normal outfit. Bits of sound filtered through 'Dex's speakers crisply.

    "I'm here with Kahuna Olivia Rios of Akala Island who has brought us an update on the recent spikes in aggressive activity in Diglett's Tunnel." She turned to Olivia. "Miss Rios, have you or any of the Akala County Authorities gained any headway on the unrest?"

    "We're continuing our investigation now." The kahuna calmly replied. She could clearly hold her own when speaking to the media on public relations. "However the unrest of the diglett in the cave seem to be distressed by loud intense sound waves that seem to be coming from a deeper section of the cave, which we haven't been able to originate."

    "When can we expect the tunnel to be safe again for trainers and travelers to transit through?"

    "I am fully aware of the importance that the passageway has for transportation through Akala. County officials as well as a specialist team from the Aether Foundation are searching as fast as possible to find and quiet the source of the noise. That is the focal point of our investigation and we will work as fast as possible to get the tunnel ready sooner."

    The reporter turned back to the camera. "Does this put a damper on trainers going on the island challenge?" At the mention of it, Elio leaned closer, wondering if he was going to have to take the tunnel eventually. Judging by the anchor's question, he had gotten his answer.

    "Unfortunately so. Due to the severity of the situation and the pressure of the upcoming Kumu Reef Triple Crown surfing tournament, I have to suspend all travel through the tunnel until this issue is resolved. I only have a few trial-goers here on Akala at this time, although I do expect the tunnel to be back up to speed with the anomalies cleared by the time the first one is ready to go through. For those needing to challenge me for their grand trial, please contact my jewelry shop where my staff can arrange a battle meeting place and time."

    Oh great. I have to schedule it?

    "Our very own kahuna Olivia Rios with the update on the noise disturbances in Diglett's Tunnel and their plan of action. Back to you Derek."

    Rotom cut out the news feed and flew around rapidly.

    "Loud noizez going on in the tunnelz?! Oh thiz iz horrible! Bzzt!"

    "Rotom calm down." Elio reassured him. "It's probably nothing."

    "I wouldn't say that." Ed said. "It must be serious if the kahuna just halted travel through the tunnel."

    Elio countered. "You heard the fisherman right? As long as we have a strong water type with us, we should be okay."

    "Strong." Ed pointed out. "He said strong water type. Feebas is your only one and it barely got that dragon pulse off in time."

    Strong water Pokémon huh? That was certainly something I saw out of you, however inconsistent. I'm still learning more and more about you every day.

    "Then we best figure out how to make her stronger."

    They continued on towards the large mountains to the north. Haleakala Peak dominated the landscape and could be seen almost from everywhere on the island. Just below it on the southwest side was Mauna Wela, one of the most active volcanoes in the Alola region.

    "Wait a second." Ed said when they reached a sign indicating that there was one mile left to the Wela Volcano Park. "You're saying we're on top of a volcano?"

    "Bro, this entire region is a bunch of volcanoes."

    "What? You can't be serious!"

    "Maybe if you paid attention in the Geology section of Junior Science class, you'd know that this is one of those regions with volcanic hotspots."

    "So are we going to have to watch out for py…um…what were they called again?"

    "Pyroclastic flows?" Elio asked. "Did you even study for the test?"

    "I got a ninety!"

    "Yeah you did. You also asked me and Aki to help you."

    "What's wrong with that?" Ed pouted.

    "Absolutely nothing. Kahuna Hala once told me that there is no shame in asking for assistance however you may need it." He cleared his throat. "Anyway, pyroclastic flows don't happen here. They're mostly for explosive eruptions that happen in composite type volcanoes with more viscous lava. None of those are in Alola. You're fine."

    At least I hope so.

    Elio and Ed finally saw the sign indicating the entrance to Wela Volcano Park. It was backed by a pathway that was roughly ten feet wide cutting through the center of some rather sharp rocks as it sloped up the face of the mountain, curving off to the left around the bend.

    "Wela Volcano Park. Pio ka ahi a wela ma kahi!" The basketball superstar read out loud. "Do you know what this means?"

    "Sort of. Ahi means fire and wela means heat."

    "Maybe it's saying to don't get burned to death by fire."

    The two boys shared a laugh and stared up at the sun. It was now just thirty minutes past noon, having some of its strongest light beating down upon them. Their skin was slick with sweat.

    "It's probably also saying don't get heatstroke or something."

    "Just don't joke about that." Elio warned. "Alola often gets a high rate of people with heat exhaustion and heatstroke, especially to the underprepared." He looked at the long path, "We best get going. If I want to finish the trial, captain Kiawe said to get to the summit as soon as possible."

    At the base of the volcano, the vegetation was bright green with healthy colored grass. A few varieties of Pokémon inhabited within it, vanishing when the humans had gotten close.

    Rotom again was having a field day of recording some of the species.

    "Plenty of new Pokémon detected here! Bzzt!"

    "Give us the highlight reel buddy." Ed said.

    "You betcha! Bzzt!" He started out with a small biped Pokémon with a pinkish body and conelike mouth in the midst of spitting a ball of fire. "Magby. Live coal Pokémon. This Pokémon lives around volcanoes and frolick in pools of magma. They can exhale flames up to eleven hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Magby is a fire type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    The slopes gradually got steeper as they walked along. Ed now had broken out the trekking poles, using them as assists to help him along. On the contrary; Elio didn't need them. He knew that much of Alola was hills and had gotten so accustomed to climbing and descending that it was less of a bother.

    They still had to take caution due to the higher altitudes. Sun had almost gotten altitude sickness on his first time going up the hills towards where Verdant Cavern was situated on Melemele Island, so he made sure to regularly pace himself, drink plenty of water and stay within his partner's sightlines. Continuing up even further, Ed began to fall behind.

    He had fully caught up when Elio stopped at a rest stand, featuring a small plaque depicting Mauna Wela's previous violent history millions of years ago when Akala Island was no bigger than twenty miles in diameter. Another embroidered sign showed information about ke kālā pahi kaua…an extremely rare plant called the silversword that was only found on the slopes of Mauna Wela and Haleakala. Looking down the mountain, he could see several of their glittering stalks in the rocky jutting sections all along its side.

    Ed panted heavily, finding relief in both the stop's latrine and the water filter, which he used to fill his bone-dry bottle back up. Elio was nearby chatting with three almost identical women in their early twenties who were more than happy to talk to him about something.

    "Is the big baller basketball player all tired?" Sun playfully sneered and yelped in surprise when he had playfully swung one of the poles. Elio brought his own out as if countering a blow from a sword and it elicited a laugh from them before finally bumping fists and calling it a truce.

    Elio made introductions when his friend walked up beside him, leaning on his poles in exhaustion. The three girls looked amused at their spectacle and were known all as the Seismic Sisters. They were three girls in their mid twenties who were aiming to one day climb all of the tallest mountains in the entire world. Newest goal was Mount Silver on the Kanto-Johto border. It was known to be one of the most notorious peaks to summit due to its unforgiving weather conditions and dangerous pathways up.

    Mauna Wela was a mere fraction of its height and just a practice run to break into how the first trek was going to be.

    The Seismic Sisters reassured the boys that the trial site wasn't that much further, however even the less intense areas were still going to be a challenging climb.

    "I hope you brought some sturdy shoes." One of them said.

    "Because there can be some sharp rocks up there." Another added. "And you seem to be a trial-goer. Make sure you've got some rock, ground or water Pokémon on your team!"

    "I've already cut my ankles when I was younger while climbing." The third chimed in. "Just watch your step, be careful and have fun! Once you get to the top of Haleakala Peak, the view is totally worth it!"

    "I hope so." Ed grumbled, still leaning on his poles for support.

    "Then we wish you the best!" The center sister quipped as they turned to head back down the trail. "Alola!"

    "Alola!" The boys waved back and sat down to catch their breath again. Even though they were still a ways from the top, Elio was already finding it a tad harder to breathe. The air up here was already thinner.

    "Pretty neat huh? I've heard an author hopes to do this for fun."

    "Author? Don't they write books?"

    "Yeah. But one I recall enjoyed writing and backpacking. He even went up some mountains which gave him inspiration for a book."

    "What was his name?"

    Elio stopped short. Yeah what WAS his name?

    "To be honest I don't know. But his books were pretty good."

    "New Pokémon detected!" Rotom interrupted, pointing towards a couple of small gray and orange birds that were perched on the side of the sign, eyeing the two humans curiously. "Fletchling. Tiny robin Pokémon. This bird is mellow and amiable, perfect for beginner trainers. It has a fierce disposition when battling and its body temperature can double whenever it's excited or agitated. Fletchling's warm body also makes it ideal for trainers to snuggle with in cold weather areas. Fletchling is a normal and flying type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    Oh so that's why those heated pillows are called Fletchlings.

    Ed was about to stand up and indicate that he was ready once more when Elio, put a hand on his shoulder. He was staring out at something else in the distance.

    "Look." He whispered.

    The basketball player followed his gaze and spotted a large brown creature moving. It was bigger than any other Pokémon within the vicinity and possibly towering over both humans as well.

    "Another new Pokémon? Yay me! Bzzt! Kangaskhan. Parent Pokémon. A kangaskhan vigilantly watches over its child even if it appears to be playing alone. It has zero forgiveness and tolerance if it feels as if its offspring is endangered, hurling ferocious punches and blows from its hammerlike arms. Kangaskhan is a normal type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    Kangaskhan were pretty rare anywhere they could be found in the world. They had both been a ways up on the mountainside, but they still kept their distance from it. No intention crossed both of their minds to evoke the wrath of a protective parent.

    The final stretch was in sight. Rockruff moved along happily in front of his trainer since he seemed to be brimming with enough energy to last days. He sniffed the ground as if his life depended on it as Elio and Ed walked just behind with the former trying to put together a game plan. Right now, it was as if getting to the site itself was a trial of its own.

    Elio had the rest of his team save Feebas out in a semi-circle while sitting on a rock. He had ruled Charjabug as someone who was going to be effective and had decided to use her when he needed it the most. She was more focused on avoiding Rufflet than listening to his plan. The tiny bird had still been confused on why that one Pokémon was trying its hardest to avoid him.

    Rockruff was going to be a main offensive weapon since he had rock-type attacks that could prove useful against fire. As for the rest; he'd have to place them when the time came right.

    And the ironic thing is that as soon as the trial and totem battle…there is one I assume happens…this plan is going to hell anyways.

    "Rockruff." Elio snapped his fingers, bringing the puppy out of his thoughts. He had started gnawing on a fine bone that landed a little ways from them. "Give it back."

    He glanced over to see a trio of small biped Pokémon waving their arms about. Two of them were holding identical bones in their hands.

    "Ruff."

    "Good." Elio stood up with the third one's and tossed it back. Next to him, Ed gawked as the tiny Pokémon jumped up an impressive height to one handed catch the thrown object. He heard a cheer come from the trio as they waved and disappeared somewhere into a hole in the mountainside.

    "Wow. Talk about all wide receiver right there. You still got them quarterbacking skills."

    "Point guard too."

    "And that catalogues a new Pokémon!" Rotom added. "Cubone. Lonely Pokémon. It is widely believed that it will eventually evolve when it comes to terms with the death of its mother. Cubone wildly swings its bone in a futile attempt at its natural mandibuzz enemy. Cubone is a ground type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    For Pokémon that seem so sad all the time. They looked to be having a lot of fun. Can't really spend all this time weeping. I know this firsthand.

    Trial captain Kiawe Iokua grunted as he held the final pose in the center of the ground. The long stick in his hands resembled a slightly shorter kun staff with small oiled wicks at either end.

    Practice during his spare time had been crucial to honing his abilities when not conducting trials or on his part-time job. The loosely organized Alola league had paid well and augmented with his position as a head stocker at the Thrifty Megamart earned him a good nest of money. However the two had split his duties and he had felt that preserving tradition was more important than keeping the store's shelves faced and full of product. All of his allotted vacation time had been used and he still had at least a couple more years to go.

    Things are looking good. He smiled to himself before launching another series of poses, all under the watchful eye of a middle aged man with tanned skin and dark hair that was tied up in a bun. He wore a simple T-shirt with a ceremonial hook in a necklace atop his chest.

    "And I am sure that Ecruteak State University will be more than happy to accept you on the Alola League's behalf Kiawe." The man's scowl was replaced by a flicker of a smile. "No doubt you have proven this to be a true preservation to Alola's traditions. In the face of modernization, I hope this can be a view into the past on what makes our people and this region unlike any other place in the world. And another reason why I believe that your trial is among the best in Alola. Even my daughter had some difficulty surpassing it."

    "As do I. And she made defeating the totem look simple if you ask me." Kiawe held the pose again and resumed moving once the older man gave a nod of approval. "We must always remember who we are as a people. And that is why I do wish to study at Ecruteak State in Johto for the history of dance and how it can tell stores in the past, present and future."

    Before either could go on, one of the uniformed trial guides had entered the ring. With three points of entry around the outer rim, it was flanked by large posts of lights and rows of bleachers that remained empty. If the guide brought the news he was expecting, then perhaps they would be full of spectators.

    It's always interesting and enriching for locals and visitors to see what going on the island challenge is truly like. I'm definitely glad that this trial is open to the public and broadcasted.

    "Captain Iokua." The guide gave a curt bow of his head to both men. "We have a trial goer. He seems to have heeded your advice and arrived as early as possible from Pa'ani."

    "Excellent." Kiawe's lip curled upwards. "Bring him in."

    Elio and Ed were led by a guide past the ornate gates of the final slope to the peak of Mauna Wela. Beside them was Haleakala Peak towering another five thousand feet to the northeast. Normally its top was invisible due to the lower hanging clouds, but today it was nothing but blue skies and blistering heat courtesy of his namesake continuing to shine down on the land.

    He saw that it was a massive ring of sorts, with bleachers facing every direction and tall posts which seemed to house both spotlights and torches that were unlit.

    Kiawe was the familiar face to both of them and he gave a nod as they began to enter. Beside him was another middle aged man that was dressed very simply and a pair of trial guides that happened to be on duty.

    "Kūlia!"

    The bark came from the older man, whose face contorted into confusion. It was stark and had a commanding edge to it that froze both teens in their tracks.

    "What are you two doing here? These are sacred grounds." A thought had put itself into his head. "Are you here for the trial?" When he received nods, he went on. "It will not occur until possibly this evening. Please leave and return when we permit haoles to enter."

    "I don't fancy a long hike back down after getting nothing." Ed quietly remarked.

    His snark hadn't gone unnoticed. "Then perhaps you should have thought about not trespassing while you made your way up."

    "Makoa!" Kiawe snapped irritably. "Ua lawa!"

    Elio's knees felt weak. So I can't even take the trial because I'm a haole? Thanks Professor Kukui.

    "I'm here not to watch the trial." He said, taking just a moment to gather some courage left inside him to speak. Even though his stature didn't have it, the man named Makoa was quite intimidating. "I'm here to take it."

    "That cannot happen." Makoa shook his head. "Only kama'aina and those who have the blessings of the tapu are allowed to go on the island challenge."

    "All the more why he should." Kiawe cut him off. "I overheard at the Royal Dome about how kahuna Hala called you Tapu Koko's waeia kekahi. Is that correct?"

    Elio nodded. "People have been calling me that since I got here. Whatever that means."

    "It means chosen one. The land spirits of Alola are capricious by nature and we must honor and respect their actions. Tapu Koko has clearly seen something in you that is truly special Elio."

    Makoa's scowl didn't fade, but he gave an agreeing nod.

    "I see that you've made an impression on old Hala. And I now change my stance. Disagreeing on you undertaking the trial would be to protest the tapu's actions directly…and I have no intention to displease our gods and goddesses." He walked towards them, taking advantage of his taller frame towering over Elio's. Sun estimated him to be close to six and a half feet tall…much more than Kiawe…who skirted just above six.

    Don't recoil. Whatever you do…don't show any sign of fear. This is a test.

    "However, just because you have been saved by Tapu Koko does not mean that you will receive any special treatment. This trial will test the might of your physical strength, mental strength and how well you can battle alongside your own Pokémon in the face of adversity."

    Kiawe gently took the back of Elio's head in one of his hands and gently pressed their foreheads together to exchange honi.

    "E mālama ka tapu mai ka lani mai. A alakaʻi iāʻoe i loko o ka hoʻokolokoloʻaneʻane e kokokeʻoe e piʻi."

    Makoa stepped back, but the permanent scowl he had previously plastered on his face started to disappear.

    "And perhaps you can prove to a member of the Ka mālama that you are more than just a tourist haole and truly kama'aina. My own daughter is a trainer that is on her own journey and she has taught me time and time again that it is wrongful to establish prejudice in the way I do. And I like to be proven wrong."

    "I won't let you down sir." Elio said.

    "Best of luck Elio." Ed encouraged. The two bumped fists and the latter managed to get Makoa's permission to sit on the sidelines to watch.

    Kiawe nodded, accepting two smaller sticks from another one of the trial guides. He held them switchblade style before bringing the ends of them together. A twist of the hand and it locked into place as an identical staff that he was using just a couple of minutes before.

    The heat of the sun was relentless as he walked and handed over the staff to Elio.

    "Very well. Let's begin."

    Next up is the fire trial! As you can tell, I will be making it MUCH different that what it was in the game. I felt that it was very underwhelming and could've been so much more. I'm excited to show it to you all!

    Translations:

    • Pio ka ahi a wela ma kahi! - Fire burns bright and hot here!
    • Wela - Heat
    • Ahi - Fire
    • Mauna - Mountain
    • Ke kālā pahi kaua - Silversword. This is an extremely rare plant that can only be found at Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui. It is a protected species, listed as vulnerable in conservation status.
    • Kūlia! - Stop!
    • Ua lawa! - That is enough!
    • Haole - Haole literally means "no breath" in pidgin. Native Hawaiians use the term in a derogatory manner towards people not native to the islands (mainly towards those of Caucasian descent) It is a similar racial slur to gringo which is used in some Latin American countries, geared towards Caucasian Americans.
    • Ka mālama - The Keeper. This refers to a group of individuals who work with the island kahuna to preserve and uphold the traditions of Alola. A similar practice exists in Hawaii.
    • Kama'aina - Refers to a native resident regardless of race of ethnicity. Anyone born in Hawaii/Alola is considered kama'aina and on occasion given to foreigners who have lived there for a long time or done something heroic to be deemed in that manner. To be considered kama'aina is a very special honor.
    • Waeia kekahi - Chosen one
    • E mālama ka tapu mai ka lani mai. A alakaʻi iāʻoe i loko o ka hoʻokolokoloʻaneʻane e kokokeʻoe e piʻi. - May the tapu watch over from the heavens and guide you through the trial you are about to surmount.

    As always, big thanks for reading and reviewing. You give my writing purpose.

    Brav
     
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  6. BraviaryScout

    BraviaryScout Sun X Lillie Shipmaster
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    Alola readers again! Brav here for the update!

    This chapter is a tad bit shorter than my normal 10k, but it's still action packed and I personally had a lot of fun writing this one.

    A lot of this will delve into Alolan mythology, which is loosely based off real-life Hawaiian mythology. While some of it was pretty heartwarming and epic similar to others, there are a lot of darker stuff involved and parts of this chapter will briefly tap into that all with a twist to immerse it into the Pokémon world. I will explain much of it at the chapter's end.

    Enjoy everyone.


    I don't remember much about the fire-type trial other than the fact that it's quite different from the others. Professor Kukui said that Hau had easily won which is really good! Now it's Elio's turn.

    I was by the TV all day again. By now, I've basically seen the entire first and second season of Five-0 and while Nebby enjoys watching all of these not-by-the-book cops break the rules every episode, it came as a breath of fresh air when I got to see Elio and Ed in the basketball showcase.

    Now it was time for the trial. I wasn't able to catch Hau's, but I saw Elio's.

    Lots of it seemed to go around some sort of story. I've read in a book that Alolans tell stories through dance and it's definitely…interesting.

    You know how I said when it was strange Kukui walked around half naked? Yeah…there's that too. But wow, I couldn't believe Elio has that good of a physique! Had he not been a trainer, all he would need maybe is to clean up his long haircut and he could be a model for a fashion brand or something.

    Dear Lillie,

    I'm at the top of Mauna Wela right now! It is a dormant volcano, but there are active lava floes in the caldera that really provide this cool reddish lighting!

    So Kiawe's trial is a little different than Ilima's and Lana's. Those ones you had to battle smaller Pokémon in order to battle the totem. This one…you have to do both that and appease it.

    And that means you have to dance for it. With everyone watching.

    The trial actually starts before the night and it's a long day of practice right under the sun. When you're several thousand feet closer, it gets hotter for sure! Good thing that there's water around!

    The trial is also overseen by this guy named Makoa. He's supposedly Ka Malama, which means that he is one of the people who is charged to preserve the customs and traditions of Alola. He's also the kind of person who thinks that only the natives should be going on the island challenge. Needless to say, I'm not his favorite trainer.

    Time to prove to him that a haole can do this!

    I also am sending you something you might enjoy. I think Nebby will like it too. I miss you by the way. Been thinking about you a lot recently.

    Sincerely,

    Elio

    The fire staff was a long lightweight pole that was up to his elbow in length with each end covered in a clump of wicking material that had an odd smell. Elio found that it moved with incredible swiftness as if it were made of fine paper.

    Kiawe had explained the trial out to him in the center of the ring and under Makoa's hawkish eyes. The totem Pokémon resided somewhere nearby and the captain's description of it was one that was difficult to impress. In order to grasp its attention for a rightful battle, he had to conduct a specific dance that involved using the fire staff and a choreographed performance that would have to awe more than just the captain or the totem itself.

    "You see this?" Kiawe pointed around in a panorama to the empty bleachers surrounding the small ring in three distinctive sections. "You will be undergoing the trial under the spectators' eye. This trial is the only one available to the public and one of Akala Island's most popular attractions. For those wanting to see an enjoyable show, it is also broadcasted around Alola. Triumphing through this will begin to put you in the spotlight as a talented trainer undergoing the island challenge and stronger opponents will take note."

    No pressure.

    "The trial is simple. You will perform the dance here in this ring and once it is complete, you shall hear the totem Pokémon. If it deems you worthy enough, then the battle will commence. Defeat the totem Pokémon tonight to complete the trial!" He lowered the staff. "Any questions?"

    "So I just have to complete the dance you show me in order to," Sun wiggled his two fingers as quotations, "Impress it?"

    "That is correct. For showing purposes, the dance is also used to tell mo'olelo and one of the longstanding ones about Alolan history. You will play one character and the totem will play another."

    "If you manage to impress it." Makoa let out a barely concealed huff of annoyance.

    Kiawe sighed. "I do have to apologize for Makoa's behavior. He is very…strong willed and believes that many of Alola's traditions should only be told and passed down by Alolans."

    "Basically not me."

    "Yes. However I do not share the same narrow-mindedness of him. I believe that Alolans should be warm and welcoming to outsiders and visitors, provided that they give our tapu and ka moʻomeheu (way of life) the respect it deserves. We would do the same to the likes of you should we travel and visit your homeland."

    They started out with the basic stance. Elio noticed previously that the staff could be twisted to release a locking pin in its center and allow it to split into two. The time had been mid-afternoon and the sun's oppressive heat continued to bake the mountainside. He was feeling it for sure, as beads of it continued to drip down his arms and legs. His back had already perspired enough to soak his shirt and he whipped it off, welcoming the brief rush of cool air. Now only in a pair of basketball shorts and shoes, he continued as Kiawe took him through a series of stretching drills, limbering and poses to hold.

    Elio found it already tough enough. Even as they began moving to the opening stages of the dance, he found himself already panting for air. Oxygen was thinner ten thousand feet up from sea level and several times he had to tell Kiawe to stop for him to take a breather. As an athlete himself, he had been trained by coaches and his peers to push and test his own limits. Some of the workouts he and Ed had done before were the epitome of being ground right into dust.

    Yet the multiple factors here, holding strenuous poses in sweltering heat when the sun was among his strongest…with thinner oxygen levels. Doing the task closer down in altitude would be trivial, but he had a feeling that this one would test his limits to another level.

    Thankfully the captain was more than willing. Makoa had sat on the side, saying nothing but still Elio could feel his judgmental eyes boring into his back like a drill.

    This has got to be one of the more intensive workouts I've done. I know I'm relatively fit for my age. What about others who are not so?

    "You may ask questions." Kiawe said, breaking the silence after Elio had sat back down to take a swig of water. He had set his pack in the shade of one of the bleachers to keep it from getting hot. "I am sure you have them."

    Sun looked him over. Kiawe was breathing calmly in and out and barely looked tired. Sweat did shine on his dark complexion, running down his smoother chest. Elio easily knew that his well-defined core would be more than enough to have throngs of girls running up in admiration.

    He glanced down at his own bare chest in self-consciousness. Like him, he preferred to stay in decent shape with his working out and trying to limit the addicting sedentary activities. But he also liked to eat copious amounts of food; some that was definitely tasty, but had little to no nutrition.

    "Captain."

    "And I prefer to be called Kiawe." A smile graced his face. "Captain is a little too formal for my tastes."

    "Kiawe." Elio corrected himself and went forward to ask, already knowing the answer. "Why aren't you tired? Not to brag or anything, but I'm a basketball player and can do something like this easily without wearing down."

    "That is because we are on the peak of Haleakala." The answer came from Makoa as he stood up and strode forward in front of the two posing men. "Being a member of Ka Malama is more than just keeping the light of our ancestors alive. We must be the embodiment of Alola itself through our physical, mental and emotional abilities. The peak of Haleakala is but one place where the finest warriors trained for battle against the other kahunas and their clan."

    "Warriors?"

    Makoa nodded. "Alola was not always all peaceful and serene. The tapu were not always with us in times of need. Hundreds of years ago, our people began to grow distant from one another and without the guardians of the islands to keep peace; Alola soon fell into conflict."

    "Clan warlords soon overruled the islands of Alola with iron fists." Kiawe said. "They fell into conflict over everything from food, territory and water rights. There was even a war between two of the largest clans here on Akala Island because the daughter was betrothed to the son of a kahuna and refused. This would've united the two clans together had it succeeded."

    "So Alola was once a warzone." Elio surmised. He followed Kiawe's next move by sliding his feet on the ground and crouching low in the newly taught basic stance. It had his knees slightly bent with his left hand outstretched in front and the staff clutched in his right, almost as if he was holding it like a hanbo staff.

    "That is correct. Alola did not have as peaceful of a history as many would think." Makoa said. "There were such things as human and Pokémon sacrifices, many of them in thanks for their gifts they bestowed upon us."

    Elio felt the blood drain from his face.

    Kiawe laughed lightly. "It is nothing to be afraid of. We are not savages. I can't say the same if it were three hundred years ago however."

    "Why me though?"

    "A haole." Makoa answered. "Haoles who ventured to the islands during the times of war would find themselves captured and held against their will. Disobedient ones or those that didn't have a use were used for said sacrifices to the tapu. On occasion, they could eventually buy their freedom and live amongst the people by working directly for the kahunas themselves. The spot where you stand now is one such place where warriors trained and where kahunas would come to commune to the tapu."

    Hold on a sec. "Is that why you want me to prove myself as more than just a haole?"

    He actually got a rare smile from the older man. "Yes that is correct. I may be a man who believes that outsiders should not participate in sacred Alolan customs, but it is also part of us as a people to welcome them should they prove themselves worthy."

    "This is a kapu kawahi." Kiawe added. "That's Alolan for sacred place."

    Kind of flawed since this is where visitors come to see a trial.

    Elio shifted his stance, mirroring Kiawe again. "I do not mean any disrespect to your culture or customs in any way. But if you are all closely guarding this place by saying its forbidden for myself to go on the island challenge, then why open this trial for everybody to see?"

    Makoa sighed. "I can't say for sure. Even though Alola is a popular destination for outsiders to visit, we are still relatively isolated from the rest of the world. I suppose you could say that we show others on our culture to help define to them who we are. Much of the reason why we have opened up to others is the first monarch of Alola, King Kamehameha. He had ended the multitude of feuds thanks to the blessing of the tapus and united the islands of Alola as one which continues to this day."

    "Is he from Akala Island?"

    "Why yes." Kiawe said. Elio could also see that Makoa had been taken aback by his inquiry and impressed. "Perhaps you saw that the main airport here on Akala is named after him."

    They finished the limbering practice and Kiawe had Ed come and assist him in carrying out a large drum that had a rich brown oak lining. Unlike the modern drum instruments he had seen in bands; this one had a conical base that opened outward to its main body. Ornate carvings were all along the wood and Elio could tell that hours upon hours had been spent carefully crafting it.

    I don't have the time or patience to do something that good.

    Kiawe set a beat with one of the wands, finally going onto the dance itself and leading Elio through the steps. He noted while following that the movements they did were very fluid and connective. His breath was running short even now, but it had been longer in duration from the last time he needed a break.

    Makoa did sense his fatigue however. "Do you need to take a breather?"

    Sun panted and wiped some more sweat off his brow, but he shook his head.

    I'm not going to show weakness in front of you.

    "I say we do. You will prove nothing by wearing yourself out."

    "Yes sir. It's just a good sweat."

    Kiawe showed him the next steps; crouching low before waving the staff about in front of him. "Perhaps. But the purpose of learning the dance is not to break or destroy you, despite what you may think. But a trainer cannot rely on their Pokémon to carry the entire burden of a load. While they may train them to their limits, it is also imperative that the trainer themselves be in the best possible position to face the challenges ahead. You may remember the saying of what doesn't kill you makes you stronger yes?" When he got a nod from Elio, he continued. "That is true. The remainder of the island challenge from here definitely has people putting emphasis on challenge. So as a result, it is our duty as trial captains, kahunas and Ka Malama to test young boys and girls to their limits so that they can be recognized as men and women."

    "I want you to fall." Makoa spoke as he circled the trial-goer. Elio did his best not to follow his gaze and memorize the steps of the dance that Kiawe had reset. "It is every objective of the trials and grand trials. You will eventually fall. A true Alolan on the island challenge will stand up again."

    So this is a test of persistence. I now see why we have a lot of flunkies in Team Skull. They didn't stop the island challenge because it was too difficult. They were the ones that stayed down when they were knocked.

    Surprisingly, the remainder of the dance had been simple. Kiawe took him through it again, twice, three times and even a fourth.

    "I want you to be comfortable doing it. Next time it will be in front of hundreds of people…and thousands more watching."

    "I'm confident enough." Elio answered. "I'm ready for the trial."

    "Very well."

    Night had fallen with the evening clouds rolling away to reveal a myriad of twinkling stars and bright moon hanging overhead in the sky watching over everything.

    Torches were lit at the base of the arena in a full circle and the air was full of excited chatter as many sightseers and locals alike were filing in for an evening show.

    The fire trial was only one on the island challenge that could be openly attended by the public. On occasion, if they happened to be in the area when a trial was being conducted, they were free to watch. Others were done behind closed doors and out of the public's eye.

    While it was free to attend, many of the tourists and sightseers opted to pay a small fee of the bus to take the road side of the mountain that was accessible from Heahea City. It was a long thirty minute drive that offered scenic passes as it wound up higher and higher in a meandering path that would drop them off just a little ways from the ring. The dirt road continued higher, most likely for the purpose of volcanologists going to the research facility that was near the caldera.

    Ed was allowed to go "backstage" a small building that was just behind the back of the ring where Kiawe, Makoa were with Elio. Several other guides were slowly arranging everyone into seats as soon as it hit the half hour mark of when the performance was set to begin.

    The small building was one of the storage sheds that were used to keep supplies for the study facility for the volcanologists and one side specifically for the trial captain and his guides to keep supplies about. Elio saw drums, staffs, torches and many other items that they used around the ring.

    He now sat on a stool, wearing nothing except his basketball shorts. A red loincloth had been tied around his waist. Smaller grieve-like leggings were over his shin and calves, flowing down nearly to his shoes. There were similar grass linings secured around his shoulders.

    Sun had repeated the poses with the additional attire on for Kiawe and the latter had made a final adjustment by giving him a bobby pin to keep it from unraveling.

    "Best we prevent a wardrobe malfunction now."

    Then this means it's happened before.

    Makoa and another guide had him sit down once it was all in place. They approached with bowls of an inky black thick substance that they smeared on their fingertips.

    Elio felt it; a cold and uncomfortable sensation in the warm air as they drew upon his arms and back. He had to almost bite his own lip to keep his sounds of discomfort from being known by them.

    They go all out here don't they?

    "It feels like you are drawing a picture."

    "We are." Makoa said, not looking up from his work. "Every warrior trained in Alola fights for something. Whether it be for glory, honor, territory…survival…acceptance. Regardless, the markings on their bodies used to be that of inkay and octillery ink, etched as tattoos to reflect where they had come from, their heritage and their purpose. What I am putting upon you is only temporary and can be washed off in a shower by the time your trial ends."

    "So what symbols of mine?" Elio asked, glancing in the mirror. He had to seriously admire Alolan art being very ornate and couldn't help but truly be amazed at the incredible detail Makoa was putting into it.

    "Your symbols indicate that you are a boy. A foreigner who seeks to immerse himself as one of the people. You may be undergoing a trial, but many watching will be seeing a show. Every trainer's trial tells a story as will yours."

    "It is almost time." Kiawe said pushing through the door with Ed in tow. The basketball player's eyes widened at the transformed trainer in front of him and whistled lowly.

    "Damn bro. They decked you out good huh?"

    "You like?" The trial captain asked. "We could do the same and the two of you could come back to do a double showing."

    "I don't have Pokémon though," Ed said. "But it's all good. Best thing now is to make sure Elio is all set to go."

    He walked over and kneeled down in front, as if a coach talking to his wrestler in the ring. "Remember about staying focused. I've heard the totem Pokémon are more than just oversized freaks of nature on their own species, but they're also cunning…smart. You need to think the same."

    "Ed, I know this is a fire trial." Elio shot back.

    "I'm trying to give you a pep talk here man! Why don't you just listen for once! Just because you may have water, rock or ground Pokémon doesn't mean you're going to win. Even trainers who have their entire party like that can still struggle. It's like what Makoa here said in practice. You're gonna fall. Be that true trainer and stand up again. Let it know that it doesn't matter whether you're a native or a haole! Any trainer who puts forth the effort and dedication alongside his Pokémon will triumph over this trial!"

    Elio nodded, still trying to process through the words. "Dang brah. Did you read that out of a book or something?"

    "I kinda made it up on the fly." He put a hand behind his head in embarrassment. "Sorry."

    "Sorry for what? That was a really good speech." Kiawe and even Makoa had nodded in agreement. "You're ready to be a team captain once the league drafts you."

    The fire trial captain cleared his throat. "As inspiring as that speech was; the crowd has all been seated and our show is about to start. Elio; anything you want to go over last minute?"

    The boy shook his head. "I'm good. Let's do this."

    "Excellent. Take the next few minutes to bring your Pokémon up to full strength. Whenever you are ready, go and meet Makoa at the end of the ring."

    Elio felt his nerves turn his own stomach into an oily mess. Truly it was no different than any other basketball game in school especially during the regional playoffs. However now after being a trainer for almost two months, he was about to face yet another colossal totem Pokémon that he had no idea about.

    The raticate was already tough enough and it had taken the efforts of Litten and Grimer to bring it down. Wishiwashi had been completely unexpected; scaring off the gyarados he had anticipated facing.

    What kind of fire Pokémon was going to challenge him this time?

    Either way. We're going to beat it.

    His Pokémon team had his back and knew their roles. Charjabug was going to be less effective since her bug typing wouldn't last long against fire. He planned to use her as much as possible, maybe even inflict a paralysis. That would make things so much easier.

    And her mud shot move is my little ace up the sleeve. Gotta love the Shirona Effect.

    Grimer and Rufflet both had mild effectiveness against fire types. If Charjabug failed to paralyze the totem, he could always try and use the former's poison touch ability to whittle its energy down.

    Torracat and Rockruff would be the bulk of the offense. Even though his starter didn't know any good moves against fire types, Elio was counting on his deft agility and strong moves to be able to last. Fire types were yet another that were ineffective against itself. Rockruff's own rock moves had the potential to do immense damage, however he wasn't necessarily fast. His mind went back to the paralysis, knowing that his job would be much easier if he scored a successful hit that inflicted the status.

    "Alola ahiahi!" Kiawe's voice over the hidden speakers around the ring brought Sun out of his thoughts. He peered around the glow of the lit torches surrounding the ring now able to see that the entire sections of seats had all been occupied by visitors. They all chatted excitedly to one another as they waited for the show to begin.

    "Alola!" He heard a unanimous chant back from everyone else.

    "My name is Kiawe Iokua from Paniola Town and I am the current captain of the trial here at Mauna Wela Volcano Park. The trial is a special rite of passage for young Pokémon trainers in Alola as part of a transition from being a youth to being recognized as an adult. All of the trials are supervised by us captains who have completed our respective trial when we were at that of age."

    He took a deep breath and looked around the ring.

    Full house tonight.

    "Before we begin our performance for tonight, let me inform you of a few rules. They are simple to follow. This is a live fire Pokémon battle that will be taking place. Due to the immense power of both the totem and the Z-Power, should our trial goer opt to use it, we have installed a Ward of Dawn shield around the ring in order to keep everyone safe. Second; please do not use any form of flash photography while the trial and show are active."

    Murmurs rang out across the crowds.

    "Now let's bring in our trial goer." Kiawe extended a hand out to Elio's direction. He now noticed that there was a cameraman sitting in a designated spot and pointed the lens directly at him.

    "He hails from Cerulean City of Kanto and has blazed with a molten resolve through the trials of Melemele Island and the trial of Brooklet Hill. The boy has been blessed with special attention from our deity Tapu Koko as its waeia kekahi! Elio Kai Northstar!"

    Instead of loud cheers and whoops like in basketball, the audience clapped loudly as Elio himself was gestured forward by the trial captain.

    "Now our trial goer today plays an important role in our show tonight. See much of the land you had traveled on to get here was once where our ancestors tread their feet. They still haunt these trails and grounds, providing us today with guidance in our relationship between ourselves and our Pokémon."

    Kiawe circled back to Elio's side. "Our ancestors often passed down stories in the form of dance and we today use that to pay tribute. Our dance tonight is about a love story that happened here on this mountain. Many of you who have spent much time here know about the romantic interludes between Pelei and Kamalono'a in how he had slain the mo'owahine to rescue his love. For those that don't, allow me to explain."

    With a wave of his hand, Elio stepped out of the spotlight. To everyone else, it was as if he had disappeared entirely. Sweat began to course through his palms, slicking the staff.

    Almost there.

    "Kamalono'a was a warrior demi-god of fertility, valor and peace. He is associated with the Tapu Bulu of Ula'ula Island and is commonly represented by obsidian and gemstones. He was known to many as a very attractive, handsome young man in which many women of his clan on the island had sought after his hand."

    Elio had yet to hear the story itself, but it had already fascinated him. From the fact that he was "playing" a handsome demigod to how Kiawe described on the virtual girls all going for his hand.

    He took another glance at the trial captain, seeing him walk to various points of the ring and looking up into every part of the audience. No one section was left out and even if it had been, there was no one bored by his story. Kiawe crouched low, waving his arms in motions to amplify his tale and the myriad of expressions on his face mirrored the tone.

    The trial captain was truly into the trial and Elio couldn't help but admire the amount of dedication and passion he was throwing into it. It wasn't just a show for the tourists, it was a way to honor and uphold the traditional story.

    "While there were many fine women of his clan; Kamalono'a had his heart set on Peleia. A similar demigoddess as the embodiment of many things. Fire, emotion, love. She hailed from the rival tribe on Akala Island, she was known as the girl who was born of fire. The tribes on Akala and Ula'ula had been at odds for some time and thus both sides had made it forbidden to come into contact with one another at any time. Of course, Kamalono'a had refused this."

    Oh it's one of THOSE stories. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Mom and Dad on both sides refuse to let them marry.

    "They had agreed to meet up in secret. And because the all-seeing kahuna on Ula'ula Island would sense him meeting with a member of their sworn enemy." As he said this, the lights dimmed, causing Kiawe to vanish entirely from view. His voice continued to carry over the speakers and connected wirelessly to the small microphone he wore on his side. "He had to go on a rite of passage of his own."

    Sun sucked in another deep breath, closing his eyes. We've been practicing all day. This is for real. We're doing this for the totem battle, the completion of my next trial and another stepping stone in my own rite of passage to properly call myself a man.

    "However before he could even leave Ula'ula in his own carved candlenut ka moku," The audience gasped as a pair of ghostly green flares flashed to life just opposite him. "The kahuna had discovered his intentions, declaring it hewa to discreetly fall in love with a member of the rival clan."

    This is a trial battle! Elio's mind raced as he reached for his first Pokémon. "Charjabug! Go!" Kiawe continued the story, paying mind to the battle about to commence for the show purposes while speaking. His battery Pokémon landed nimbly on the ground, clicking her mandibles together and ready to face her opposition.

    "Kamalono'a was undeterred by the kahuna, saying that love had no boundaries and he was free to choose whomever he wished."

    "Woah there!" Rotom was out to assist his trainer at the same time the spotlights snapped on, revealing a small dark bipedal Pokémon. It held a stick in his right hand resembling a femur bone that had been the source of the spectral flames that crackled in the night sky. An elongated skull covered its face with dark markings etched into various parts of the bone.

    It looks like a…

    "New Pokémon detected buddy! Bzzt!" He floated in front of Elio, displaying a more familiar shape of a creature he knew was native to his homeland Kanto. "Marowak. Bone keeper Pokémon. Marowak will throw bones at its natural foe; mandibuzz with a violent temperament. Marowak is a ground type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Hold on." Elio stopped him. "This is a fire trial. How can a marowak be in here if it's ground? Even the cubone were the standard ground type."

    "That'zz becauzze marowak hazzz a zubzpeciezzz here in Alola! Bzzt! Marowak native to Alola use bones that were once its mother's. It beats foes with its club, spreading cursed flames wherever it strikes. Alola Marowak are ghost and fire type."

    So there's the fire typing.

    "Now what will you do koa?" Kiawe asked, booming his voice in a challenge.

    The Alolan marowak didn't wait for a signal to begin, already throwing its spectral bone right at charjabug. The throw had been right on target, spinning slowly before speeding right up until it was a blur of green and white, throwing off sparks erratically.

    Charjabug easily saw the flame wheel attack coming before she scrunched up her own body to propel herself out of its way. At his command, she gathered bits of electricity between her mandibles, centering her aim and firing quickly.

    Anyone else from Kanto watching him must've thought he was crazy at using an electric type. Kanto native marowak had the ability lightningrod, which absorbed electric attacks to boost its own. Even if it didn't have that ability, the standard form was ground type; the only one that made electric attacks obsolete.

    I probably should have made sure I took some precaution before ordered an attack that would end up being useless.

    To his surprise, the marowak flinched from the beam of fine energy, staggering back. Just as it finished, there was a dark purple aura that enveloped his entire body. It shot out, surrounding Charjabug and then suddenly dissipating.

    "What? What was that?"

    "Oh no!" Rotom wailed, flailing its arms about. "That wazzz the marowak'zzz ability! Cursed body! Charge beam izzz now disabled! Bzzt!"

    Huh. Smart. We'll have to go in close.

    Unless I play my hand with her mud shot.

    Decision made. "Charjabug, stop. Mud shot it!"

    "Ssk!" She hissed in compliance, using her smaller mandibles once again. This time around, it was a long stream of dark mud that splashed right over the marowak's body. It grunted in protest and planted its bone on the ground to slow its reeling.

    The creature had spun around again, now releasing the bone in a perfect throw. Charjabug's eyes automatically drifted to the spinning projectile, seeing if it was headed to hit her.

    What she didn't see was the marowak powering up his fists in similar green fire. He rushed forward on both feet, closing the distance between the two combatants.

    Charjabug responded with a spark attack, meeting it head on. The two clashed right together, culminating in fire winning over electricity. She was hit once and then a second fire punch struck her side before she had a chance to react.

    As marowak jumped away, Elio saw the blur of spinning fire bone curving right back.

    "Charjabug! Look out!"

    It had been too late. The bone rush attack had sped up its pace from behind, smashing itself into Charjabug's back and sending her flying up in the air. She had managed to recover and land upright when falling, however Elio saw that the attacks had taken a lot out of her.

    The main trial hasn't even started and she's already tiring out. Marowak's a smart one. He throws the bone as a distraction, strikes and then lets the bone curve around for a second behind the back attack.

    Had he looked to the marowak, their visible efforts wouldn't have been in vain. The Pokémon opposing them had leaned onto his flaming bone for support when he had struggled back to his feet. Elio was suddenly aware that the cursed body effect had now worn off. He pointed for a charge beam and she gathered just enough energy when he spun his bone around. It wasn't enough to deflect the fired electricity and his crackling form had collapsed to the ground.

    The audience had opted to clap proudly for the young trial goer instead of loud cheers. He acknowledged the praise, although said nothing as he returned Charjabug to her ball and slipped it on his belt.

    "Marowak was very pleased by your battling ability." Kiawe commented with several murmurs coming from the crowds in agreement. "It just had to battle you."

    He knelt down and gently offered it some berries. As it ate, the creature had enough energy to stand up again. Elio felt beady eyes fall on him and the skull had nodded down.

    It was a nod of respect.

    PleasebecarefulEliopleasebecarefulEliopleasebecarefulElio. You can beat this. I believe in you.

    "Pew!"

    "I know Nebby." Lillie whispered as she laid at the edge of the bed in her hotel room. She had been waiting for almost an hour before when it was time for Elio's trial to air on television. The reason the trial had been broadcasted wasn't to her understanding, but it seemed that the local populace around Alola enjoyed one publicly shown trial that displayed the rite of passage for young boys and girls.

    "Pew!" Nebby's cry came out a little more forceful. Lillie realized that she had been hugging it just a little too tightly to her chest.

    "Oh I'm so sorry Nebby!" Lillie brought the cosmog close so that it could rest in the crook of her right elbow to remain comfortable. "I didn't realize I was hurting you."

    Hurting. You've gone through so much pain and I'm fussing over hugging you too tightly. I can't help it. Not when I'm worried about Elio.

    Don't worry Nebby. The blonde glanced down at the tiny Pokémon, who was still watching the TV and perking up with excitement whenever the shot panned over a certain boy. We'll protect you and I'll be sure to make certain you are back home safe and sound. And then I will have to find a place I can call home too.

    "Pew." Nebby's curious cry brought her out of her thoughts and she found herself staring directly at the screen where Elio's bare chest could be clearly seen.

    She admired the handiwork for sure. Plenty of ink had been applied on his shoulders and upper pectorals with sharp edges and curved lines, all in a very elaborate and carefully crafted design. It was almost like the work of a tattoo artist and many of them appeared similar to the ones that the ancient Alolan warriors of long ago had adorned their bodies with.

    Nebby watched the girl with a curious expression on its own face. Her eyes had wandered over it, looking past the tattoos onto the fine lines.

    Lillie had seen them on occasion; hastily hidden underneath some of her own mother's fashion magazines she had subscribed to and in the posters for name brand stores. Much of the men's section had featured images of well sculpted handsome boys.

    Still in the middle of her teenage years, she couldn't help but admire the finely crafted pectorals, abs and broad shoulders.

    Seeing Elio shirtless made her realize that his body shape was quite similar to those models. On the television screen, he had branched out his staff to the marowak who had struck it with its bone. Balls of flame suddenly sprouted from both sides, illuminating the markings on Elio's body as if it were war paint. He began a choreographed dance as a drumbeat began to pound somewhere at the site. The staff was spun in his hand so easily as if he had done it for years.

    Nebby's own gaze turned to amusement when it noticed that her face was starting to redden at the sight. It may not have been a particularly old Pokémon, but after spending so much time around the blonde human, it had picked up quirks, habits and many things that others would overlook.

    Lillie always seemed to pay extra close attention whenever Elio was mentioned and it assumed that tall the letters she read on the bed with it snuggled by her side were from him. She had stared at most of them with a smile on her face, but there had been one or two where she looked a little distraught.

    "Pew."

    What a handsome person. "I know Nebby. Don't you worry. We're here to cheer Elio on right? He sure is such an amazing and handsome trainer."

    And dreamy. Just look how he dances. How he looks. Those abs…I wonder what they would feel like?

    Elio had been briefed on how the ritualistic dance was going to do. Kiawe would tell the story and he would do the dance that would reflect the tale.

    Marowak approached after it had regained enough energy for a moment and then tapped Elio's unlit staff with its bone.

    Almost instantaneously, bright orange flames flickered to life on both wicking ends. Sun felt heat warm his arms and glow flicker off his body in flashes. Similar to what he had seen from a Kalos' delphox; the flames had a different characteristic than normal fire and he was tempted to gaze right into its alluring embrace.

    "Kamalono'a had defeated his clan's kahuna and with no other choice, he had to ensure that courting Pelei would mean peace between the two tribes. It was perhaps a trivial task for Kamalono'a…after all, he is an embodiment of peace." As Kiawe said that, a dark expression crossed his face. None of the crowd had noticed it, too occupied with the low laughter from him pointing out the obvious.

    The drums thundered again and it was Elio's signal to start the next phase of the dance.

    Bending his knees, he kept low to the ground locking his stance at a forty-five degree angle and holding the staff to his side. The flame came close to his body; however he had pulled it back to a regular arm's length to avoid scorching himself. The drumbeat came in fours with him shifting forward opposite every fourth time.

    "Kamalono'a set his ka moku in the water and paddled west towards Akala Island. He braved stormy seas, killer sharpedos and the relentless sun in a trip that took him six days to reach the eastern shores. Today the voyage takes only a couple of hours, but six days can seem like forever when you merely have an oar and the night stars of Huinakolu as guidance."

    This was Elio's cue to stop and he stood rigidly at attention once more. When the drums beat at a slightly faster pace, he started the next phase.

    No longer encumbered by the slower speed of the ka moku, he sprinted up, jumping, spinning in midair all while moving the staff in a blur of artistic motions. This had been the longest thing he and Kiawe had practiced on and even though it looked purely trivial, contorting the body and maintaining balance were crucial. He was even told that it took years for fire dancers to perfect some moves.

    Stick the landing. Don't lose the staff. Don't screw up.

    Something on his side wiggled and he glanced down in the middle of the next routine to see that Charjabug's ball hadn't been fully secured and threatened to fly off.

    Crap.

    Just as he landed again, the impact was enough to jar the ball out of its hold. Elio was more than welcome to retrieve his ball if one got separated from him, but they were too close to begin the trial and he felt as if making a mistake as minute as losing one of his Pokémon because of it not secured to his side would immediately put the sense of doubt in the heads of everyone watching.

    Screw it. I have to get rid of the staff…just a little early is all.

    It was completely off routine, but Elio gingerly released the long stick into the air. He saw it begin to arc just slightly forward in front. However since it was bright and in motion, he had figured both those attributes would have the audience's gazes on it rather than him.

    Hope this better works. Or else this is going straight to featured on Fails of the Week!

    Tucking in his head; Sun extended his arms hoping to minimize the impact of his head on the ground. Instead, by either adrenaline or luck, only the palms brushed the smooth rocky floor and he had done a flip, propelling himself right back up to extend a hand and seamlessly catch Charjabug's ball and slip it back on his belt. Elio made certain through the noise of the drumbeats in snapping her capsule securely in his belt.

    Still in motion, he halted himself, skidding slightly and close to losing his balance. He had come to a stop right in front of one of the cameras and stared right into it with the blazing staff held in front of him, illuminating his entire body.

    Oh my goodness! Holy freakin' crap! I can't believe I just pulled that off!

    Offstage, there were several additional marowak at the center just before the rift opening where they were preparing to commence the beat that set the cadence for the next dance when Makoa held up a hand. Even though it was regular for the trial continue; he felt as if the pose was to make a perfect picture moment.

    Elio knew he was staring right into a camera and would've done a smile or goofy expression to break the tension, but he kept it in check. The trial was serious business and he wanted to look as fierce as possible.

    Sorry Mom. If you're watching, I can't say hi.

    The marowak resumed their drumbeats a second later and Sun twisted the staff in his hands, one hand went clockwise and the other counterclockwise. Action caused an inner bolt to split the item in two and he crossed them over one another, making sure that the flames still were burning on their wicks. It would do him no good if they were extinguished.

    "Kamalono'a soon found out that the rival kahuna of Akala had lured Pelei to Mauna Wela where the much feared mo'owahine dwelled. She was a strong powerful beast capable of breathing the hottest fire imaginable and secreting the most noxious poisons. The mo'owahine preferred to lure unlucky men to their deaths off cliffs by appearing as a beautiful maiden. She would also use women to her advantage, sealing them away and manipulating their cries for help. Even demigods were not immune to her power."

    Sun held them as if they were a pair of swords, slashing at the air towards "imaginary foes" while Kiawe depicted how Kamalono'a had battled his way through other mythological beasts as he made his way up to Mauna Wela.

    "Kamalono'a was not fooled by the mo'owahine's attempts to trick him and he forged himself a path ahead. However more stood in his way, including those enthralled by her."

    Elio "fused" the staff back together and crouched down, holding it behind him and using his free hand as an outstretched warrior pose.

    A wet sound came from the dark pit as a spotlight snapped on to reveal two small Pokémon emerge from its depths, quickly finding Sun and hissing threateningly. Both were lizardlike in appearance, with dark gray skin and black appendages. They seemed to rest on their hind legs while their forelegs went underdeveloped. A long thin tail trailed at the end.

    "Woah! We got a new Pokémon detected!" Rotom buzzed at his side. He shuffled his screen to a matching image. "Salandit. Toxic Lizard Pokémon. It uses its own bodily fluids to create a poisonous disorienting gas. There are roughly seven males per female. Salandit is a poison and fire type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "The mo'owahine's thralls had come to challenge Kamalono'a." Kiawe announced, indicating this was another battle. "And still he was undaunted by her treachery."

    "Charjabug! You're back in it!" Elio used his free hand to throw her back out. "We're gonna go right into this! Spark!"

    "Ssk!" She hissed loudly and jumped forward, cloaking herself in bright electric power. The salandit's eyes widened as she slammed right into them. One of them tumbled backwards, landing on its feet but barely standing. The other had been luckier, avoiding the attack entirely. It launched a volley of embers.

    Each tiny ball of fire struck Charjabug and pushed her back. She was still determined not to show any weakness from being hit by a super effective attack.

    "Charge your core!" Elio shouted.

    She obeyed, using just a little bit of energy to gather into herself. By Rotom's indication, her special defense had been temporarily increased by a pinch.

    The second salandit hissed, opening its mouth and releasing a cloud of foul-smelling gas. It had spread quickly, enveloping Charjabug inside.

    "Girl?"

    "Ssk!" He heard a weak hiss from within.

    "Sal!" The first salandit leapt forward with its own open mouth and shooting another ember.

    "Ssk!" Charjabug responded with a charge beam. The wild Pokémon was caught off guard and it had zapped it down to the ground where it didn't get up.

    "Be advizzzed! Bzzt!" Rotom buzzed. "Charjabug iz poizoned and running low on energy!"

    "One problem at a time buddy." Elio said.

    "It izzz already a problem. She hazzz been defeated! Bzzt!"

    True to Rotom's word, Charjabug was unmoving as the salandit prowled right in front, looking rather pleased with its handiwork.

    Without warning he saw that her eyes shot open again and quickly fired a second successive charge beam attack that blew out the salandit next to its comrade. When it stopped rolling; it was pretty clear that the blow was too much for him.

    "Ssk." Charjabug had turned her head to face him. Her expression gave her trainer the understanding that she wasn't going down until she took both those opponents with her.

    You're an amazing Pokémon.

    "Thank you girl." Sun whispered, taking her nest ball. "Return."

    I've got five Pokémon left. I can do this.

    As he had called back his defeated Pokémon, the crowd clapped loudly again.

    "Truly impressive!" Kiawe exclaimed, getting up from his seat and crossing to the center of the stage. "You are a true disciple to Kamalono'a and his resolve! Now that you have defeated her thralls and suitors, the young warrior had to battle against the mo'owahine herself."

    More drumbeats followed as all the lights finally shut out, leaving the only sources as the stars above and Elio's fire staff.

    This is gonna knock people dead.

    Part of his body could still be visible reflecting off the fiery glow. And just like how he predicted, the crowds had both amazed and nervous looks when he flipped the staff in his hand and threw it towards the top of one of the sections as if it were a javelin.

    The staff looked like it was being thrown right at pitch blackness before it moved again on its own and brought down to reveal the marowak who had caught it. The same one he had battled earlier.

    "You have passed through my trial with much ease Elio." Kiawe said. "Like Kamalono'a before you, your final destination is in sight and it will be up to you if you can withstand the mo'owahine's powerful onslaught or not."

    Marowak twirled the staff in his hand before planting one of its flaming ends into the ground.

    Bright orange flames flashed to life all around the ring, finally bathing everyone within in a dazzling show of illumination. Shadows danced on the floor as Elio centered his gaze on the pit at the ring's other side.

    "Come! Mo'owahine!" Kiawe called out. "Let us begin!"

    For a few moments nothing happened. And Then Sun heard a low gurgling sound that made his limbs freeze.

    A slender dark scaly limb emerged from the pit with little droplets of glowing lava still attached.

    Next up is a very exciting Totem battle! Stay tuned because I may have a few surprises in store for the next few upcoming chapters.

    Translations:

    • Mo'olelo - Story, Tale
    • Kapu Kawahi - Sacred place
    • Ka moku - Boat
    • Hewa - Heresy
    • Alola ahiahi! - Good evening!
    • 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.
    • Mo'owahine - Literally Lizard-Woman. The mo'owahine is a mythical creature said to linger around the Nu'uanu Pali Highway pass and lure male travelers to their deaths off the cliffs when it took the form of a beautiful woman.
    • Kamalono'a and Pelei are based off the demigod Kamapua'a and Pele respectively.
    • The story of Kamalono'a and Pelei is based off the romantics of the fertility demigod Kamapua'a and his courting of the Hawaiian goddess of fire Pele.

    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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    Hey everyone! Back for another update.

    We're up to the totem battle! This one was kind of tricky for me to write and I'm unsure of how it's going to end up going. Had the rough draft completed last Sunday and was ready to actually put it out last Monday...that surge of reviews did give me a boost to try and finish a chapter sooner.

    Speaking of which, thanks for all the amazing feedback last chapter. That was something I was anticipating for quite a while and I'm very glad it was an enjoyable read. Now if I see a lot of good reviews...I will go that extra mile and try to see if I can get a chapter released within the next week. Not going to say it's happening all the time, but just wanted to let you all know that it does not go unnoticed and I'd like to hold up my own end.

    But seeing how I missed the deadline with the edits last week, it turns out that this one was going to end up going out at the two weeks deadline. Much of this ended up being taken out since some parts didn't sit well with me and the revisions took all until yesterday evening to complete. Was tired like crazy when I reported for work, but I hope the new iteration is worth it.

    So enjoy everyone.


    Wow. It's amazing that the dance Elio did was to wake up the totem Pokémon. It was hiding in the lava pit at the end of the ring and he had to battle it!

    I don't like Pokémon getting hurt, but Nebby and I did our best to cheer him on from here in the hotel. I just want to see him again. He looks like he's grown so much stronger as a trainer and maybe even a person! Who would've thought he would be dancing like a crazy person for a lizard woman? He scores a total one hundred and ten on looking good doing it!

    It was such a thrilling battle and even I was excited! The totem Pokémon nearly defeated him!

    Elio's own eyes went wide as the totem Pokémon finally unlimbered itself in front of him.

    The creature was slender in appearance, rising on its hind legs to tower over him by a full foot. Its features were arguably reptilian with dark gray scales covering its entire body. The stomach was a light purple with pink linings. Both of its long arms ended in five digit hands and it used them to deftly move around while crawling on all fours.

    "Rotom? For some reason that looks like a really big salandit."

    "ALERT! BZZT! TOTEM Pokémon approaching! Bzzt! Well yezzz!" The haunted 'Dex buzzed, shuddering a little at the sight of the giant across from them. "That izzz a totem salazzle! I have a new Pokémon detected and urge to releazzzze itzzz data! But I'm too terrified to do anything! Bzzt!"

    "Rotom!"

    "Oh zorry! I'm just scared shBZZZTless!" He shakily brought up the image after the timely buzzing censor had cut off his word. "Salazzle. Toxic lizard Pokémon. It is the evolved form of a female salandit. A salazzle lives in caves and lava pits, luring attracted salandit to serve it with pheromones. This Pokémon will create a reverse harem of male salandit and forces them to bring it food. Salazzle is a poison and fire type and a female only species. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "Sounds like she's going to be a dangerous foe." Elio murmured to himself. What IS a reverse harem? What IS a harem to begin with?

    "Trial goer in the name of Kamalono'a!" Kiawe's voice cut through the marowak's drumbeats. "You are challenged by the mo'owahine if you are wishing to proceed to your love! Back down now and she will not pursue or harm you!"

    Again part of the script.

    "I'm not backing down!" Elio said defiantly. He glared right at the massive lizard, which hissed and narrowed her eyes at him as she approached.

    "Yeah?" He asked with a bit of bravado. "You wanna dance? C'mon!"

    The totem let out a loud gurgling wail, raising herself up to full height. Just like with the totem raticate and totem wishiwashi, a familiar mysterious orange aura summoned itself out of thin air, surrounding her and flaring right to life.

    "ALERT! Be advizzed!" Rotom buzzed again. "The totem'zzz aura hazzz activated! Her zpecial defenzzze hazzz increazed!"

    Noted.

    "Rufflet!" Elio summoned his first choice onto the field. His small eaglet Pokémon let out a caw eager for battle and he swooped down to land opposite the giant lizard.

    Totem salazzle made the first move, arcing her tail over as if like a scorpion. She flicked it forward, allowing a fine glob of noxious looking purple liquid shoot forward with incredible speed.

    Elio was in the middle of shouting for Rufflet to avoid, which the bird had already done, spreading his wings and flapping them twice to easily get clear of the incoming sludge bomb.

    "Move in Rufflet!" Sun commanded. "Wing attack!"

    He changed directions, soaring forward and stretching out his wings. The appendages were iron hard as he slashed through her right side. The totem let out a grunt of pain as his attack sent her staggering back, however it remained upright on both feet. Just as he had predicted, he had done little damage. Salazzle's smaller front limbs swatted at him to no avail. Rufflet had pitched up and done a barrel roll to avoid them.

    Sun had him dive at another fury attack and he obeyed, sharply jabbing at the massive totem repeatedly. The salazzle finally managed to stop him when she had opened her mouth to fire a ball of flame that exploded on contact.

    Rufflet screeched, flying away and landing a bit harshly for Elio's tastes right in front of him.

    "You okay buddy?" He got an affirmed caw in reply. "Let's keep up the pressure!"

    The bird spread his wings for another attack. At the same time, the totem had spun around, readying a glowing ball of dragon rage.

    Rufflet rolled again as it fired. The audience right in its path had instinctively flinched as the attack headed their way. Luckily the shield systems had come to life, having it impact harmlessly on the barrier. Although invisible, it flashed green as the dragon rage struck before fading again.

    He had honed on his target, set to strike right in the same place where his previous wing attack had hit. Salazzle bellowed in fury as this time it produced enough of an effect to knock her over. Her fall onto the rocky ground was brief as she was quick to roll back onto all four legs again and back up.

    Elio noticed this too. The totem had been constantly firing different attacks, a sludge bomb, dragon rage and flame burst all from a considerable distance. Since Rufflet's attacks required him to get up and close and personal, he would have to avoid most incoming to land successful hits. Salazzle had held her fire when he was close, using that flame burst as a last resort since he was at such a point blank range.

    That's it! The eureka moment hit him. Salazzle can't fight very well up close. That's why she moves away…to maximize the distance so that she won't have to worry about close combat. That's where I gotta do the most of it.

    Salazzle made another gurgling sound before launching her tail in another bullet sludge bomb. Rufflet automatically flapped his wings to gain altitude.

    And then she opened her mouth to spit a stream of noxious looking purple liquid that was brighter in color than the sludge bomb. Rufflet had flown right into its path and let out a screech of pain. As he steadied himself up high, Elio could see the similar filmy effects of a poison condition coating his feathers.

    Except it looks even worse than before.

    Oh no. That was toxic wasn't it…

    "Alert!" Rotom buzzed and flew around worriedly at Elio's side. "Salazzle hazzz uzed toxic! That izzz a move that gradually increazez in wearing down itz foe!"

    Great. Rufflet's got a limited lifespan. Let's make the most of it. You may go down, but we're all in this together as a team.

    "Rufflet, we're gonna go down swinging!" Elio called out to him. "Why don't we make things a little harder for our totem friend?"

    The eaglet gave him an affirming caw and nodded eagerly.

    "Alright, let's give our new move a try! Use roost!"

    Salazzle hissed furiously and started gathering energy in her mouth while his bird landed on the ground, flexing his wings. There was a brief green glow around him as some of his worn energy returned from the recovery move. Roost didn't cure his poisoning, but his regained strength meant he was able to fight for just a little longer.

    "Fury attack!"

    The totem now opened her mouth, spouting a lot more poisonous liquid. This one had a nasty acrid smell that immediately hit his nose once it splashed onto the floor. In the lights of the surrounding flames, Elio could see thin noxious vapors trailing up from the puddles.

    Rufflet was hit with a full drench and even the regained energy from the roost move hadn't been enough to keep him in the fight. He stiffened and fell over limply.

    Elio felt a rush of frustration of losing him so handily, but concern had also set in on how quickly he had been defeated, even with using a recovery move like roost.

    Rotom seemed to have another timely answer to that. "Be advizzed! Bzzt! That move wazzz venoshock! It dealz increazzed damage if itz target izz already poisoned! Bzzt!"

    Now I'm down to four. And this is going to be a short fight if that totem keeps on using the toxic venoshock tandem.

    "Buddy," Elio gave a small smile as he pulled out the great ball. "You were great out there. We'll finish this as a team. I promise."

    So what do I do? Salazzle wants to poison my entire team and that's a death sentence right there.

    Wait…poison types can't be poisoned. I have one.

    "Grimer, you're up!" Sun called out, throwing the sludge Pokémon.

    "Grime!"

    Salazzle hissed again, opening up her attacking ability with another flame burst.

    "Minimize to dodge and bite it when you come back up!" He had obeyed, immediately shrinking his own size down to avoid the ball of fire. As soon as it passed overhead, his amorphous body expanded once more, biting down right on the totem's leg. She shrieked and wriggled it in an attempt to dislodge him, however his form made it difficult with the viscous and malleable surface. His fangs sunk into her lower leg area with another bite before she fired a point blank dragon rage that gave enough opportunity for her to escape.

    Predictably, she had backed into one side of the ring, although this time instead of readying another long range attack immediately; the totem raised its head high up and emitted a screeching roar that made the hairs on everyone's skin stand on end.

    Moments later, movement caught both trainer and Pokémon's eye as two small salandits crawled from the lava pit and rushed frantically towards the larger reptile. In comparison to the two salandit he had faced earlier, these ones had a frenzied expression on their face. Jaws open and tongue hanging lazily out like some dog. Their gazes were fixated on the salazzle.

    She hissed threateningly at the two lackeys and they had seemed to obey, turning around to face the trainer and his own poison type.

    "So you got some help huh?" Elio asked aloud. "That's not going to help you! Grimer! Use pound!"

    "Grime!" He had raised his arms up as the salandit rushed forward at their totem's orders. Instead of bringing them down however; they turned dark with some power brimming about. He swung them in a hammering strike that was strong enough to knock both salandit back right towards the salazzle totem.

    "Woah amazing! Bzzt!" 'Dex exclaimed. "Grimer juzzt learned brutal swing!"

    Brutal swing looks more powerful.

    "Again!"

    "Grime!" His arm had stretched to nearly double its length and he swept it at the three lizards. One of the salandit was unlucky enough to catch the brunt of the attack and instantly knocked out. The totem salazzle and salandit had survived, but he had knocked them down onto their backs.

    A whirl of motion and the totem was back on her feet. Elio now noticed that she was just a little slower in getting up. That meant it was starting to wear out.

    Before Grimer could attack again, the totem unleashed another toxic attack. Because he was too slow, Elio's sludge Pokémon wasn't able to avoid it in time and he glanced about at his arms and body before suddenly flinching.

    "What?!" Sun saw that the similar poison filmy coating was now all over Grimer's body. The Pokémon let out a low grunt at the pain, retaliating with another brutal swing attack that knocked out the second salandit lackey. That filmy toxin continued to whittle down his health and the totem salazzle knew it. She fired a dragon rage that Grimer deflected with a brutal swing, however he had once again flinched from its continuous damage.

    How in the world did Grimer get poisoned? He's a poison type!

    "Rotom?" A thought made its way into his head and he was pretty sure he now knew how it was possible. "How did salazzle manage to poison grimer? He's poison type…so therefore, can't."

    "Actually that'zzz wrong! Bzzt! Salandit and salazzle have the ability corrosion! Bzzt! Corrosion allowz them to produzzze ztronger poizonz that can affect both poizon and zteel type Pokémon! Bzzt!"

    Fantastic. Now my entire team is vulnerable to that. "So there's nothing that can counter that?"

    "Wrong again! Bzzt!" Rotom chuckled just slightly, enjoying the fact that his writer kept on teasing his trainer. "A Pokémon with the ability immunity cannot be poizoned! Pokémon with the ability magic guard can be poizoned, however it prevents them from being damaged continuouzly by itz effectz! Bzzt! There are wayz around it! Bzzt!"

    "Then there's no way around it." He would have to make do.

    Salazzle made to open her mouth with venoshock and then reeled back suddenly as a blue line suddenly wrapped itself around her. She coughed again and again, but no toxic liquid had come forth.

    "Yes!" Elio pumped a fist. "The disable worked!"

    "Grime!" His Pokémon took advantage of the totem's surprise with a toothy smirk.

    She was undeterred, instead crawling back to another corner and roaring into the sky again. Moments later, another pair of smaller salandit burst from the ground and stood protectively at her side.

    Oh come on! More?!

    "Brutal swing! Aim for the totem first!"

    "Grime!" The poison continued gnawing away at his energy, but he mustered both of his arms, expanding them and clearing the entire space. The totem reflexively ducked under the swinging boom of an arm; however both salandit lackeys were caught once again and tossed away like toys. They tumbled to the ground and ended upright, charging back into the fray.

    Grimer's next move was a second brutal swing that caught onto a quickly fired dragon rage, deflecting it away into the sky. He let out a cry of persistence, showing the larger foe that he was not intimidated in the least.

    The first salandit attacked, summoning an ember. Sludge shrank rapidly in size, avoiding the fiery ball before re-sizing and clamping down on the small lizard's tail in a vicious bite. It collapsed to the floor when he released his grip and turned to face the second one.

    Grimer suddenly shook again from the poisoning effects and slumped over.

    The toxic had done a number on him. Elio knew it worsened every time and this turn around, it had erased the final bits of his energy and he succumbed.

    He felt the frustration start to build. Three Pokémon down and this totem seemed to have an infinite number of salandit allies to call upon. Salazzle could poison virtually anything with her toxic and corrosion ability which meant that if his entire party was stricken with the condition, his entire team would be whittled and worn down until he had nothing left.

    So what happens in a show like this? Would that mean I have to fight the totem myself?

    "Grimer return." He recalled his next defeated Pokémon and stared back out at his newest adversary. If there was anything he could be optimistic about, it was that his damaging efforts hadn't gone to waste. The totem salazzle had crouched low to the ground, sporting many fresh wounds and bruises. The aura that boosted her special defense was still there flickering in bright orange to indicate its presence.

    How do I win against this? It's going to be poisoning my entire team, which means I'll have to take it down fast.

    Fast. Both Rockruff and Torracat are fast, but do I use him as a trump card? I could end this quick if she's weakened. If she's not and Rockruff gets poisoned and knocked out by a couple venoshocks, I would've played my ace and lost it.

    Let's see what happens.

    Elio spun out the next Poké Ball, this one containing his starter. "Okay Torracat, let's go!"

    "Tor!"

    The salandit didn't hesitate and lunged to attack. Torracat jumped at it as well, lashing out with its forelegs in a twin successive strike. The double kick was enough to bring it down.

    Kiawe walked along the battle's perimeter to continue the story as the second minion fell. He kept an eye on the ongoing conflict as to make sure he wouldn't be in the fray of it.

    "Kamalono'a battled scores of the mo'owahine's enthralled, all until he reached the summit of Mauna Wela here at this very point and confronted the mythical creature herself."

    Salazzle gurgled again, flinging her tail forward to fire a series of sludge bombs. She followed up those attacks with streams of venoshocks. It was a deadly maze of attacks and her shrill screeches when attacking made it clear that she was angry and had enough of this long game.

    Torracat had been patient, just as Elio had reminded him. He used his strong legs to nimbly dodge each poison move that was shot his way. He managed to retaliate with an ember that briefly disoriented the totem, but otherwise did little in terms of damage.

    It all heated up to the point where salazzle crouched down on all fours once again and she fired a rather large flame burst that arced high up into the air before teetering and beginning a long plummet down to the ground.

    Elio first thought that it was just another one of those distractions. Since it was nighttime, people and Pokémon's perceptions tended to react strongly to contrasting things of motion. It was similar to the common two-piece technique that he had applied often to become an ace at dodgeball. The concept was simple in terms of the most popular sport at his school; one would throw a ball higher into the air that was easily catchable. The victim would react to that, temporarily become distracted and end up as an easy target for a more linear second shot.

    This isn't dodgeball though. And Torracat doesn't even have to move in order to avoid that.

    Wait.

    The sludge bombs. The venoshocks.

    Elio's eyes widened at the revelation.

    "TORRACAT! GET OUT OF THERE NOW!"

    The flame hit in the center of where the majority of the sludge bombs and venoshock attacks had puddled out. Most of their toxic effects were neutralized as soon as they missed and hit the ground, however it did leave lingering pools of their volatile fumes. Elio saw them as sickly wisps of vapors that dissipated for the most part when they were higher than a foot off the ground.

    As if the entire area had been doused in gasoline, the ground ignited in a massive inferno that shocked the hell out of everyone. Even presiding trial captain Kiawe couldn't hide the surprise. He was aware of the fumes trap that salazzle employed, although this time it was nearly twice as large as she had normally executed. Elio put his arms in front and staggered from the sudden explosion. His attempts to shield himself from its scorching heat were futile.

    Luckily the Ward of Dawn shielding had flared to life, holding strong against a rolling wall of flame that was snuffed out just moments later from running out of fuel. The shields had not however prevented the heat from escaping, so thus standing inside the ring felt momentarily as if he had been in the inside of an industrial oven.

    It was perhaps she had seen this trainer to be far more dangerous than her previous challengers. If that were the case, it added to the foregone conclusion that he was truly indeed Tapu Koko's waeia kekahi.

    Torracat's strong limbs were enough that he escaped the majority of the cluster explosions, however its rapid growth and rush of air knocked him off balance and send him tumbling to the ground.

    The totem salazzle pounced on her downed prey before Torracat could roll back onto his feet. He glared at her on top of him and let out a feral snarl.

    She had been a little too gloating of her victory to sense him charging an ember attack through his flame bell. He spat it out, smoking her eyes and mouth and causing her to shriek and scramble off him.

    Elio's starter wasn't about to let her get away that easily. He used his front paws to pin her leg down to the ground. When she opened her mouth to shoot out another ranged attack, the fire cat had used his hind ones to lash out in a devastating double kick to her side.

    "Don't let up!" Elio cried. "Bite its tail and fling it down!"

    With a nod and purr of compliance, his fangs had glowed a brilliant white as he found and clamped down on the creature's whiplike tail. The totem did not like this at all as she screeched shrilly and thrashed about in a vain attempt to dislodge him.

    I might have an idea. What if we can use that explosion trap against it? I'll just have to make a tempting target. Someone maybe a little slower.

    "Torracat. I'm taking you back."

    "Tor!" His head whipped around in protest.

    "I've got a plan, but it needs rockruff right now. You'll get your chance."

    "Tor!"

    "Thanks buddy." Elio used his Poké Ball to suck him back into his micro-home while at the same time, using his other hand to toss Rockruff out into the fight.

    Rockruff's my ace here. He's just a little slower than Torracat, so maybe we can do that dodging dance again to see if the totem decides to lay out an explodey trap like last time.

    Salazzle gave off an unimpressed hiss and folded her arms before opening her jaws once again to fire. Elio had Rockruff act much faster. As soon as he knew that it was getting ready to attack, Rockruff's sucker punch went off as he threw his entire body weight into the attack and knocked the much larger foe back down.

    "Rock throw!" Elio commanded with a wave of his arm. He fully intended to use his advantageous type matchup as much as he could. "Let's bring this thing down."

    Rockruff growled and flicked his tail forward. Instantly, a barrage of rocks shot out.

    Salazzle was ready and she deftly dodged the attack before perching herself beside the lava pit and doing that same shrill cry again.

    "And here comes her fan club again." Elio was tempted to roll his eyes when three salandit crawled out from the pit, hissing lowly at Rockruff. The puppy growled back, but his inexperience still had him glancing behind him at Elio for guidance. His trainer stared curiously at the smirking expression.

    Ever since they had commenced the battle, he had noticed the totem had many little deceptions that he had to counter. The timely arrival of salandit minions, the venoshock and sludge flammable traps. He was beginning to wonder if she wasn't done dipping into her bag and was getting ready to deceive him again. It was no secret that she was continuing to call her enthralled salandit to her aid because she knew that losing imminently was very much a possibility.

    Elio instructed Rockruff to take care of the incoming salandit as they charged forth, firing embers and clouds of smog. However he kept his own focus on the totem in seeing what she would do.

    Sun did have to give her credit for another deception. While Rockruff was preoccupied with battling the four salandit on his right, she had spent the bought time in spraying sludge bomb and venoshock fluid onto the left side of the ring. A good patch of ground was covered in the sickly substance and he immediately knew it by the intoxicating smell that hit his nostils.

    She's setting another trap.

    Rockruff managed to knock out one of the salandit with a well-placed rock throw. However there was little he could do to prevent himself from taking damage in a three on one scenario…especially considering the smaller lizards were bloody fast. One of their rushing smog attacks had gotten lucky and his puppy was now shivering constantly from the poison coating on his body.

    In the middle of their fight, Rockruff was ready to use bite on another one of the salandit when the totem salazzle had stepped in. She winked one of her eyes, causing a small pink heart to fly out and hit Rockruff smack dab on the nose.

    "Do not be afraid koa!" Kiawe shouted in the middle of the action. "Bring down the beast and fulfill the promise you had made to Pelei and your Pokémon!"

    He waved his arms around to the crowd and soon enough, chants of the same thing he had urged at Elio began to echo from every side.

    "Alert!" Rotom screeched, although Elio had to strain to listen since the spectators were starting to shout. "The totem salazzle hazzz uzed attract! Rockruff izzz in love! Not a good time to zeeek zoulmatezzz! Bzzt! Noize levelzzz increazzzing!"

    "Yeah I know!" Elio snapped, feeling the pressure starting to build up. He had lost three Pokémon already to the totem and its battle beforehand and now it seemed that he was going to lose his fourth.

    Rockruff's mouth remained open and his tongue was hanging lazily out as his eyes seemed to sparkle with infatuation at the female Pokémon opposite him. The totem brushed its dainty hand against the side of its head as if it were a woman smoothing out her hair in an attempt to appeal herself.

    With him immobilized, she gurgled again, firing another stream of venoshock liquid that splashed over Rockruff's fur. He let out a sharp cry of pain as one of the salandit readied and fired a successive dragon rage attack. The impact blew Rockruff down to the ground where he tumbled to a stop closer to Elio's side of the field.

    "Rockruff!" Just at that moment, the chants had stopped as a collective gasp rose amongst the crowd.

    I'm sorry. I'm so sorry buddy. Elio shook his head in frustration. Now the embers of anger were beginning to smolder in his mind. Every strategy he tried to get around was effectively countered by the totem's corrosion ability and toxic which left his entire team vulnerable to its biting effects. If it wasn't the poison that got him, it was the attract move. All of Elio's Pokémon on his team were male, making it a sure weapon in disabling his ability.

    So this is it? Down to just Torracat? He's already spent a lot of his own energy and we still have to contend with all of her salandit who are all smitten with her?

    Wait…the salandit. Another idea came to his head.

    I still haven't used my Z-move yet, but maybe if I can get a breakneck blitz in there, this should be enough to end it once and for all. Maybe even take down the others while I'm at it.

    "Okay Torracat!" Elio was starting to feel uncertain if he was going to be able to win this. At least he was planning to put on a show, even if he was going to end up losing.

    Just like what coach said. If you're going down in the spotlight, go down swinging and end it with no regrets. That's what we're going to do. Put everything we got into this and be ready to try again when we're ready.

    The chants had returned, continuing to grow in volume until Sun had to almost shout in order to give Torracat instructions. It was clear that his own Pokémon was having difficulty hearing as well, since he had to shout at least twice each time and his own combatant barely heard him.

    I have to trust him if we're gonna win.

    Crouching low to the ground, Torracat pounced up, powering up a fire fang that bit down onto the totem's neck. Although the attack did little damage, he used her own weight to his advantage, tossing the massive beast away.

    Just as he had predicted; the battle and sudden attack on her had clearly angered her enough. She made that similar gurgling sound and flicked her tail about.

    Torracat was ready, being able to see and partially hear that queue that she was ready to fire off a sludge bomb.

    Elio glanced back at the salandits. They were all gathering in the trio cluster to attack again.

    His starter saw them too and all it took was a glance back to his trainer and a nod. Since their main means of communication were hindered by the loudened chants, they had battled together long enough to generally know what the other was thinking. Back on the other side, totem salazzle winked again.

    Here it comes.

    All three salandit leapt up to attack.

    That was where he made his move. Torracat powered up his bell and shot forward, but instead of going for the totem itself, he was targeting the minions.

    Each toxic lizard felt their eyes widen as a pair of iron hard forelegs rapidly beat them in their stomachs and hurled them in front.

    Salazzle released her attract attack and Sun decided to use that opportunity to throw her a taunting grin as she had realized he was now using her charm against her.

    The heart splashed itself over the three salandit in the pile just in front. They quickly got back up on their feet and faced their totem ally.

    No longer did they have that same sly gleam in their eyes when they attacked. Jaws open with bits of clear saliva oozing out from in between their teeth and tongues hanging halfway down lazily. With their gazes turned towards their enthrall, the salandit advanced rapidly and moved away from a recovering Torracat.

    That bought me some time. Now I just have to do this Z-move dance right. Scratch won't do here, but we can probably power up double kick to at least do us some good even though it's not going to be very effective.

    Salazzle shrieked, firing a flame burst that scattered the approaching salandit, however it did little good. Her lackeys were now free of what little restraint they had in their adoration.

    Elio was already powering up his Z-Ring while rotating to the Fightinium Z crystal in his bracelet. He felt an awesome surge of power as it crackled with brilliant light.

    Time for the pose.

    "Torracat!" He wasn't sure if he could be heard over the crowd's roar, but Torracat had gotten the order by standing in front and allowing the Z-Power to envelope his lithe body and briefly gather superpowered strength. "Unleash the full potential of your Z-Power!"

    It had been some time since he had practiced the fighting type dance, but Hala's example made it look easy. Crossed arms with chambered fists. He unleashed a barrage of punches, bent his hips and struck out with his right fist. The stored power in his bracelet feeding his Pokémon had ceased having reached maximum power.

    "Z-Move unleash! Channeling double kick into ALL-OUT PUMMELING!"

    "Torr!" In a much shocking display, his exhausted Pokémon growled lowly before rising up on his hind legs. The forelegs lashed out, but they didn't fire just two kicks.

    A flurry of reddish orange fists fusilladed as the salandits all piled upon the larger salazzle with frenzied abandon, hissing loudly with savor. They had been so fixated with the object of their adoration; none were ready to avoid Elio's oncoming Z-move.

    He heard a series of loud protesting screeches from the tangle of salandit and totem salazzle. Torracat kept thrusting his paws forward, lancing out blows. The noise from the move was beginning to overpower the crowd's roar.

    By now, the punches had knocked out the three salandits garnering for the totem's attention and his Pokémon sent one final big blow that sent the totem flying right up in the air towards the bleachers on the far side of the ring.

    Everyone had gasped and those right in its path were already up and scrambling for cover. Luckily for them; the shield barrier had activated, deflecting the large scaly body with a muted hiss, averting all potential injury.

    Elio was surprised to see her stir after just a moment and rise to her feet, albeit slowly and sporting many new wounds and scuffs.

    "Torracat." He gasped.

    His own starter Pokémon weakly swayed on all fours, slowly turning his head around. Elio couldn't read his eyes in time before they slid closed and he collapsed onto the dirt.

    That Z-Move took everything he had.

    Elio felt his face fall and he stared at the ground as the weight of the entire battle was now beginning to settle in once more.

    I failed it. This trial is too much.

    The first emotion that went through his mind was anger. Anger at coming in unprepared and giving all of what he had into this battle and still coming up short. There had been so many things he could count off the top of his head that he could've done in preventative measures in avoiding such a loss. He knew that the crowd's chants behind him were part of the noise factor in hindering a key cog in a trainer-Pokémon battle relationship, but now he realized that more than ever did he have to instruct his combatants into thinking for themselves instead of following his commands to a t.

    We'll try again sometime. I just need to analyze what information I've gotten.

    In the front of the ring, Makoa held up a hand causing both the crowds to quiet down immediately and the ceremonial marowak to halt their drumming cadence. "I did say that our Kamalono'a here was going to fall." A few short chuckles from the crowd caused Elio's cheeks to heat up from embarrassment.

    However he swore that a smile flickered across the orthodox Ka Malama's face. "So koa, what will you do to stand up once again? The Mo'owahine is not yet defeated."

    "But I am."

    "If my memory serves me right. You still have one Pokémon left to battle."

    Do I? Sun reached down to his right side clips. Ever since starting on his island challenge, he had developed a habit of placing his able-battlers on his right since he was respectively handed and shifting his defeated Pokémon into the left side of his harness.

    Only one Poké Ball remained. His heart suddenly skipped a beat when he noticed the dark netting pattern over its top.

    Oh no. Oh no. Crapcrapcrapcrap.

    "You must send out your final Pokémon trialgoer." Kiawe softly said. "Otherwise this will count as a forfeit."

    I'm not forfeiting. I never forfeit anything!

    But can I still send Feebas into a no-win situation? She's battled the least out of my team and I can't rely on her right now.

    The thoughts of forfeit still did cross his mind though as he did not want his last defenseless Pokémon to get unnecessarily hurt and with no water around, she was out of her element in a possibly life threatening environment.

    Lack of water mixed with fire and poisons do not bode well for fish.

    Across from him the totem gave off another one of her cunning smirks.

    And it was enough for him to snap out of his contemplative stupor.

    I'm not giving into that!

    "I choose to continue Kiawe." Sun said, tossing the net ball in his hand. "However I will remove her and forfeit the challenge if it means that her health and safety is endangered."

    "Very well." The captain nodded. "Hiki iāʻoe ke hele."

    The brief Alolan phrase spurred the totem right back into action as Elio threw out his final Pokémon.

    Here goes nothing.

    Murmurs rang out across the crowds as Feebas flopped about on the ground before finally finding a point where she could balance herself without laying on her side like a magikarp.

    Elio felt his stomach do another flip as Salazzle lunged again. She raised her tail again, gurgling in that familiar queue. He thought that since she was out of water, her maneuverability was severely limited.

    And he was proven wrong.

    He wasn't sure about how good a fish could splash in an area with no water, but Feebas suddenly lurched on her side before smacking the ground with her tail hard enough to launch her entire body into the air.

    A green orb of energy formulated in front of her jaws and she hastily fired it to meet the oncoming sludge bomb. The two attacks collided in a giant explosion.

    As she fell back onto her fins at the ground, the fish's beady eyes had glanced at him. He interpreted it as full of trust and understanding, going all the way back to his indecision of releasing her.

    What are you trying to tell me?

    It was then when he noticed a pinprick of white light coming from his backpack. He had set it away at the edge of the ring when he had first started so that it wouldn't trip him during the middle of his dance routine.

    "Keep it distracted." And then he was off.

    "Bzzt! Elio! What are you doing? You have a battle to win! Bzzt!"

    Elio ignored 'Dex and dashed right to the bag, immediately drawing everyone's attention. His hands frantically unzipped the side pocket and snagged the small object.

    It was the prism scale, the one he had gotten from the Alola Sunrise accessory boutique when tagging along with Lillie on her own shopping excursion. The lady who had given it to him had mentioned something about using it to evolve a Pokémon found at Brooklet Hill.

    That was also the place where he had captured her.

    Could this be how she evolves? Into what though?

    One way to find out.

    "Catch!"

    Elio slid the scale between two of his fingers and flicked it as if tossing a card. It sliced perfectly through the air before landing smoothly on the ground and sliding over.

    Salazzle must've figured that this would give him another fighting chance and sprung up after it. She stretched a scaly arm out, just finding it within her grasp.

    This fish continues to surprise me. Elio thought to himself as he and the entire crowd bore witness to an impossible move.

    Feebas had seen the scale being slid towards her as well as the totem bearing down on it from behind her. She did the same move again, planting her fins down on the ground and using the upwards motion of a splash to propel herself right on top of the scale and slide effortlessly away from salazzle.

    The lizard had hastily judged her trajectory and she crashed into a heap onto the ground having missed her target.

    Elio had to take his eyes away from everything because now there was a harsh white glow coming from the ring's center. A big collective gasp rose from the entire audience in unison. Even Kiawe and Makoa looked to be a little surprised at the untimely evolution.

    All right Feebas! This is just what we needed!

    The glare had lasted for just a few seconds and Sun glanced back to recoil in shock.

    Feebas was no longer there.

    The Pokémon standing opposite the totem was vastly different than the small mottled fish he once had. Instead, she had taken a lithe serpentine appearance with a primarily cream colored body. Long reddish fins draped on her sides and she fixed her foe with an unnerving gaze with her changed eye color; a dark crimson.

    Elio saw her tail swishing from side to side idly. It had several noticeable blue and black colored scales that ended in four long tips that looked like fan blades.

    What captivated him most was that.

    She is incredibly beautiful. He thought to himself. The way Feebas now poises herself is confident, calm and elegant.

    Everyone had seemed to come to a similar conclusion and another round of murmurs were beginning to surface at the new sight.

    Even the totem salazzle was in a little bit of a shock.

    "Here'z the bezt place to interrupt!" 'Dex said chiming in and flying right over to Elio's side. "New Pokémon detected! Bzzt! Milotic. Tender Pokémon. It is the evolved form of feebas. It is often referred to as the most beautiful and elegant Pokémon of all. Those that behold its loveliness are said to have their hearts purified. Milotic is a water type. Your Milotic has the ability Competitive, which will strongly raise its special attack power if another one of her statuses have been lowered."

    "Wow!" Was all he could muster before salazzle jumped right back into the fight. I swear I've seen this Pokémon before somewhere.

    Milotic reacted, springing her body low and dodging a dragon rage attack with relative ease.

    "Alright let's go girl!" Elio pumped a fist, his confidence igniting a return at his new evolution. "Show me what you got!"

    Salazzle snarled, gurgling again and raising her tail.

    "Here comes another sludge bomb!"

    To his own surprise; Milotic's own tail went right into action. Her two outermost scales were short and curved inward while the two in the center were longer. She straightened them with a metallic sliding sound akin to a blade unsheathing before all four scales seemed to glow and interlock together and form a solid blade.

    "Woah! Bzzt! That'zzz iron tail!" Rotom exclaimed. "It'zzz a very ztrong zteel move! Bzzt! And it lookz like Milotic izzz taking it up another notch! Bzzt!"

    She struck her tail in a forward stab, knocking the large totem off balance. Salazzle misfired out of reflex.

    So you got a super cool sword iron tail huh? Let's see what else you can do!

    Milotic let out a soft coo before opening her mouth and shooting out a small orb of water. The supereffective attack struck again before salazzle had a chance to counterattack and she had tumbled to the ground and struggled to get back up.

    "That'zzz water pulse!"

    "Now's our chance Milotic!" Elio shouted. "Let's finish this! Use dragon pulse!"

    She spun around with captivating elegance and let out another coo; this one sounding fiercer than the last. Her old attack had now gotten an increase of power and she launched it with an incredible velocity and accuracy at her target.

    Salazzle disappeared into the pulse as it exploded with tremendous force. Energy dissipated before suddenly gathering together once again and exploding a second time just a split second after the first.

    Elio stared in confusion as it coagulated to detonate a third and final explosion right behind the second before finally subsiding with a good amount of dust kicked into the air.

    Everyone, trial captain, guide, trainer and spectator alike held their breath as it began to settle.

    Salazzle lay in a tangle of limbs and wounds. Her body occasionally twitched reflexively, however it was evident that she was not going to be able to battle any further.

    Kiawe stepped forward to examine the defeated totem Pokémon. When he stepped back, there was an ear to ear grin spread across his face.

    "And so Kamalono'a finally triumphed over the mo'owahine! He slayed the beast and finally rescued Pelei! Our fine warrior faced everything from adversity, frustration and of course…heat. However as he had been knocked down before, he stood up and persisted until the very end for the thing he loved the most! Kamalono'a and Pelei were reunited at last, finally bringing an end to the hostilities of their tribes and married soon after…living happily ever after!"

    Now it was the crowd's turn to cheer loudly and Elio felt his face go warm with a long round of applause.

    He could see Makoa feeding the totem some sort of root before she hissed again softly and rolled to her feet. As her reptilian eyes looked around the crowds, she had spotted Elio and gave a slight nod of her head before crawling on all fours to herd the salandit minions back into the pit at the ring's end.

    "Ladies and gentlemen!" Kiawe called out. "Mahalo for each and every one of you for coming and witnessing one of Alola's oldest traditions! We hope you enjoyed the spectacle tonight and wish Elio the best of luck on his island challenge!"

    "I must admit that as prejudiced as I was," Makoa said when the ring was devoid of all spectators except for Ed. "You have proven to me that malihini are more than capable of taking on the island challenge and passing."

    It was half an hour later when everyone watching had taken the buses down the trails and others mounted various types of ride Pokémon to leave the area. Kiawe and his marowak kept their fire staffs ready and provided some more lighting so that it wasn't straining dim.

    "Thank you sir." Elio said. "That means a lot."

    "It should. I do not give praise lightly."

    "Well I have to give credit where credit is due." The boy gestured behind him to his recovered party of Pokémon, who were looking at him with admiration and respect. "My Pokémon have met and exceeded all my expectations and I'm proud of every single one of them for the roles they played tonight."

    "Needless to say you were spectacular!" Kiawe exclaimed as he stood up and walked to stand beside the older man. "With your keen observations, skills in battle and perseverance, you were able to successfully put on a fantastic show for people all around Alola! And you defeated the totem Pokémon with such ease."

    "More luck than anything." Elio said as Milotic slid up next to him and gave him a slight nudge with her nose. "We're headed back as soon as we're done for some rest. They've earned it."

    "A Firium Z is awarded to each trainer who completes the trial here at Mauna Wela. It is yours now."

    Sun held out his hand and shook from barely concealing his excitement.

    His new crystal had the pattern of a swirling flame that seemed to shimmer from the torches surrounding the ring. Although inconclusive, he swore that it was glowing a very dull amber.

    "Firum Z! Acquired!" The boy crouched low to the ground, kneeling down and holding the gem close to himself, spinning around in a circle and thrusting it up in the air, striking his celebration pose; right hand in a victory fist and left hand with the crystal. "Yes! Trial is complete!"

    When he didn't hear a corresponding cheer from his party, he had glanced behind. Just like him, they were extremely eager to let out some bottled up excitement.

    "Yes. You can celebrate. You don't need my permission for something like this."

    His Pokémon all went wild.

    Makoa chuckled. "This is how you use the fire-type Z-power!"

    He stepped forward and made an "X" shape with his arms, but stopped short as if something had come to his mind.

    "Ah I'm sorry Kiawe. You're the captain here and should be doing the honors."

    The trial captain smiled. "My pleasure. Just follow my movements."

    He crossed his arms, spreading them back out akimbo before holding them out in fists down to his waist. They were then spread out again waving upwards to imitate a climbing blaze before snapping his right arm fully outstretched and crossing his left just at the crook of his elbow.

    Okay. Easy enough.

    "And your red petal."

    Oh the trial flower. That's right.

    "Thank you both. Mahalo."

    "A'ole pilikia." Both Kiawe and Makoa had said in unison.

    "It is late." The older man said. "You two best be getting back to town for some rest."

    "Yeah we best get going bro." Ed scooped up Elio's backpack and handed it over to him. "We got a long walk ahead of us."

    "Hope you brought your flashlight. I ain't using Torracat's bell as a light. Maybe talk that cubone you met earlier into evolving."

    "What about your fire staff?"

    "What you kidding? This is trial property. No way they're going to let me take this!"

    "Perhaps I can help reduce the time to a fraction." Kiawe interrupted. "Elio, your ride pager?"

    Wordlessly, he handed it over. Kiawe hit a few buttons and it was just moments later that a large Pokémon dropped from the sky to land just a few feet away from them.

    "Woah."

    "Woah is right."

    The Pokémon in question was draconic in appearance with an orange and yellow body with long green wings and small wiry arms that ended in three digit claws. His neck stretched up so he towered over the two teens by several heads. His lizard tail had a small crackling flame burning at its tip.

    "And thizz izz a new Pokémon detected! Bzzt! Charizard. Flame Pokémon. A charizard's fire burns hotter as it experiences harsh battles. This Pokémon flies about in search of powerful opponents and is reluctant to use its fiery breath on anything weaker than itself. Charizard is a fire and flying type. Additional information is available upon catching this Pokémon."

    "I've always wanted to have a charizard." Elio said. "Always wanted to ride on its back and see the world from high up top."

    "That's what you are about to do. Charizard here will lend you his strength and can take you to nearly any location you have previously visited in record of your Rotom 'Dex. You could fly home if you want to."

    "You know what? That's actually a good idea. What do you say Ed? Wanna see my house?"

    "Yeah sure. But you sure we have to fly on that?"

    "Unless you prefer walking. What's the matter?" He lightly punched the basketball player's arm. "You're totally fine when you're flying on a plane?"

    "Yeah but we're on a Pokémon who doesn't even know us."

    Sun sighed. "Just don't piss it off and you'll be fine. You and I know what happens when one gets riled up."

    "Yeah sure. Whatever you say."

    Kiawe and Makoa suggested that they take a few pictures to add to the scrapbook in which Elio, Ed and his Pokémon were more than happy to oblige. Milotic was currently the center of his attention as she calmly continued to nuzzle the boy's face with her own.

    Elio found her skin to be incredibly smooth and dry, with no trace of anything slimy or sticky on her skin. Her red eyes seemed to just erase any tension or anxiety he had and the nirvana of being just calm felt really…really good.

    "You're a very pretty Pokémon. I just wish I had a nickname for you that would stick."

    Let's see here….Gorgeous? Not really fitting. Ikora? Too fiction-y. What about Lil…okay that's just weird and creepy if she found out. That's a no-go. Hmm…what to do? Wait…now I know where I saw this! The ex-champion of Hoenn…crap what was his name? He used one in his battle against Brendan Maple in that amazing battle broadcasted worldwide! Her name…was….um…Minerva! That's it! Wish I could use that though, Minerva sounds fitting for Milotic.

    "Nani."

    Unsurprisingly the suggestion had come from Makoa. "It means pretty in Alolan. Milotic are very rare in these parts, but they always capture the attention of others due to their incredible beauty and elegance. It's not just rare either. Some coordinator that visited Mauna Wela had once told me that milotic are not just difficult to find, but difficult to attain as an evolution. Nani fits her pretty well."

    "I agree." Elio looked at her. "What do you say Nani? Want to go home?"

    "And show that Firium Z to the guide at the beginning to the Dividing Peak Tunnel. As for us, it is time to return to our dance! We shall convey the feelings of our people, our Pokémon and the true nature of Z-Power! Answers will lie in our dance and we will dance on to bid you farewell!"

    "Quite an interesting duo those two." Kiawe said as he sat at the foot of one of the bleachers in the ring just after Elio and Ed had departed. The marowak had finally taken down the torches and gathered to sit beside them, chatting amongst themselves.

    "That Elio keiki truly has something special about him." Makoa said. "Had he been kama'aina, I may have had a different approach to him. It has truly been a spectacular night, even if he is a haole. You may be right in that the way we carry and uphold our culture as a people must not be forgotten…but also shared with malihini."

    "You were raised that way Makoa." Kiawe softly replied. "The feeling is something that's not going to disappear overnight."

    "It is not. There are those haoles that ignore and disrespect our culture and land…and those that seek to honor it. Elio was one of those people that I can consider kama'aina."

    "I think your daughter is making you go soft old man."

    "Perhaps." Makoa chuckled. "She is carving her own path as well. And perhaps winning the Kumu Reef Triple Crown is her first step into becoming the first Alolan to become the Champion of the Surf Association."

    Whew...all done with that one. Elio enjoys his first final form Pokémon and it's one of my personal favorites! Milotic is a fantastic battler and I hope everyone enjoys what I have in store for Nani in the coming arcs.

    Translations:

    • Ka Malama - Keeper/Caretaker
    • Hiki iāʻoe ke hele - You may proceed
    • Koa - Warrior
    • Malihini - Visitor
    • Kama'aina - Refers to a native resident regardless of race of ethnicity. Anyone born in Hawaii/Alola is considered kama'aina and on occasion given to foreigners who have lived there for a long time or done something heroic to be deemed in that manner. To be considered kama'aina is a very special honor.
    • Waeia kekahi - Chosen one
    • Nani - Pretty
    • A'ole pilikia - You are welcome/no problem
    Mahalo for reading and reviewing. You give my writing purpose.
    Brav
     
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  8. ShinigamiMiroku

    ShinigamiMiroku Pokémon Professor
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    Red Orb ★★★★★
    I had the most trouble with Salazzle as well...

    I love the pacing of the progression thus far. It gives a fair balance between Sun's challenge, his relationships with his friends, and the other various aspects of the journey. As a side-note, if I'd ever gotten Milotic in RSE (requires a super-rare berry that needs to be PERFECTLY blended, which is impossible without friends to help with the mixing) I'd definitely named her Minerva, after one of my favorite Fire Emblem characters:

    [​IMG]

    She's a wyvern rider from the first Fire Emblem game, and the ruler of her kingdom until she was deposed by her brother. A strong woman who is aware of her weaknesses but perseveres despite them, she is easily one of the best characters in the series. (Plus, that armour is awesome!)

    That aside, Leilani being the daughter of Makoa is surprising (and could be one other reason he was so hard on Elio), and could prove to be an interesting plot point should Leilani continue to waffle between Sun and Hau.
     
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