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Foul Play

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bay, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Alola, all! So I apologize for the long wait for the next update. After I posted Chapter 3, I got distracted by holiday stuff, writing The Scent of Roses, and US/UM. Then on January/February I was working on revising Chapter 4. I actually got the chapter's first draft done... months ago, then I added new stuff and well I got carried away. I already thought how I want some scenes to go, but thanks to US/UM and feedback on earlier chapters I got some new ideas I wan to try. Before we get to Chapter Four, replies, some big announcements and other notes!

    Replies:

    Cutlerine: Yeah I linked Bulu and Terrakion due to their known strength and being oxen like Pokemon, so I thought I should reference that

    Yes, the Oranguru. I recently played US/UM and one of the sidequests was you helping the kids clean up and Oranguru being the headmaster, heh.

    Yeah, I imagine Nanu not too pleased with Grimsley's coin toss heh. Next chapter will have more Grimsely and Nanu interacting and give a sense where I want to take it from here on out.

    JX Valentine: I know you already left this forum so I'll have to reply to your comments somewhere else I think, but I do want want to say I really enjoy your thoughts on my characterization of Grimsley and Nanu! And yeah I get anxious over langauge and I think I'll see about keeping an eye how the way I speak slips in my writing.

    Ambyssin: Yes, the books are from S/M! I think one of the books changed slightly in US/UM, which I'll reference in Chapter Four! I know lots of folks have the same thought over Nanu having a family and I get that with the way he was portrayed. I admit, part of the reason is to see how he's like as a real grandfather hahaha. I thought a couple backstory stuff for him and his family, though we'll see if I can fit it here. And yup, Nanu is very exhausted considering he not only oversees one but TWO islands (thanks US/UM).

    Concerning the Mimikyu, let's just say Becky is used to the Mimikyu's wild nature hehe.

    Oh my gosh, yes I remember one or two NPCs talking about that, and it's hilarious. Grimsley can't catch a break.

    Sike Saner: This is why you don't mess with an Elite Four, lol. And yeah, I would be worried going inside that restaurant myself.

    Nanu would agree with you over the Not Great feeling there.

    Haha, I love that comic. So cute.

    So glad you noticed the Skarmory! Yeah I was wondering that myself, so I thought of this.

    TikTok13: Nope Nanu having a family isn't canon, just something I thought of! I already mentioned to Ambyssin how I understand people seeing Nanu that way, but hopefully I'll still have him act himself.

    diamondpearl876: I thought Grimsley's mantra is one that struck me most about his characterization. He's a dude that dealt with losses (gambling/battles/etc) and wants to take it to stride.

    His appearance in the Pokemon Special manga is the only other portrayal I know somewhat. According to my friend he was playing a game with some construction workers and Hilbert/Black (then bets with Black in giving his Pokemon in exchange for information). But yeah, I see him a someone like to take risks a lot due to his gambling addiction.

    I admit to not going too much in detail what else he does as an Elite Four. I like to think though if someone wants to take a break from Elite Four duties some accomadations will be made.

    Haha nice you caught the title drop.

    I think you're the first to comment on the Battle Buffet in relation to Grimsley's gambling. For now yeah he'll be seeking battles until he finds one he's satisfied with.

    The Slowpoke scene I admit I thought of when captioning this image for a contest in another forum.

    Dream Sayer: Ah man I like that backstory too, but that's actually something I plan to take later from Jax's feedback. At least Chapter Two has him shopping for his kimono so his background is still referenced haha. And yeah, I decided to have this take place during SM's (and US/UM's) plot since the scenes I thought of works best during that timeframe.

    Announcements:
    -This chapter is where we get to US/UM territory, so there will be some spoilers if you haven't played those games yet. Also I played Ultra Sun, so for now Dulse and Zossie will be making appearances.

    -Some changes in the tags and chapter titles! With the tags, after some thinking on how deep I want to go more towards Nanu's backstory, added some warnings of PTSD and references to depression. I also decided to name the chapters after Dark-type moves, so right now Chapter One is "Knock Off", Chapter Two is "Brutal Swing", and Chapter Three is "Flatter." This chapter is "Night Daze".

    -In one scene there's a reference to Gabite and Sableye's Pokedex entries! Rotom, you're crazy.

    -So, I did an art request for my friend to do a Grimsley and Nanu art, and he delivered! Go to his art blog mythirlwarheads and check out more of his art!

    -In addition to posting Chapter Four, I also went ahead and revised Chapter One... er, again! More info as to what changes I did over there. I'm planning to polishing up Chapters 2 and 3 also fairly soon.

    -Thanks to bobandbill for his edits as always!

    Okay, because of how adding both the replies/announcements in addition to Chapter Four is too long as one post, Chapter Four is in the next post!
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  2. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Chapter Four
    Night Daze


    The morning sunlight streamed through the windows and curtains, stirring Grimsley from his sleep. With a groan, he sat up and rubbed his eyes. He glanced around and noted his room was fairly simple with desks and drawers colored in blue, green, and red. Various toys like trucks, figurines, and Pokémon plushies littered the floor. He wore the pajamas Acerola had given him last night, the fabric soft and warm against his skin. Grimsley bounced off of his bed and went to the restroom to shower and get dressed.

    By the time he made it to the dining room half an hour later, Nanu, Acerola, Hunter, and Gracie had already gathered around the table eating bacon and eggs while Yungoos, Mimikyu, Oranguru, and Elekid sat on the floor munching their own food. When Acerola noticed Grimsley, she beamed at him.

    “Oh, good morning! Care for some breakfast and milk?”

    “Some food would be nice, please,” Grimsley said as he joined everyone at the table. Acerola got out of her seat to bring him a plate of bacon and scrambled eggs along with a glass of milk. He picked up his fork and chewed a piece of bacon. The grease slicked against his tongue but was otherwise soft and with a hint of sweetness. He tried the eggs next, and Grimsley could taste the pepper and salt dashed on it.

    “Did you have a good sleep?” Gracie asked after she finished chewing one piece of her bacon.

    “I did, thanks for asking,” Grimsley said. He gulped some of his milk. “I’m looking forward to today’s trip.”

    “Me too!” Acerola said. She explained how Becky had called the Poké Ride stable over at Route 13 to have them reserve a few Mudsdale for everyone.

    Hunter swallowed some of his eggs and asked, “Acerola, can we have pizza again for dinner tonight?” At that moment, his Elekid rushed to his side and pumped his arms up and down. “Elekid thinks so, too.”

    Acerola put her fork down after she finished chewing her food and wiggled her finger. “Now, now, Hunter, too much pizza can give you stomach aches. It’s better to not eat them back to back,” she said, and both Hunter and Elekid pouted.

    Grimsley hummed in agreement, drank more milk from his glass, and went back eating his breakfast. He had had an enjoyable conversation with everyone during pizza last night. Becky, Hunter, and Gracie had mentioned how they met and chatted about some of the Pokémon they took care of in the Aether House. The Aether employee had also mentioned Aether Paradise, a much larger habitat for endangered Pokémon that doubled as a research facility. Acerola meanwhile had talked about what it was like being a trial captain, which piqued his interest. Nanu didn’t say much, only offering a few comments on occasion as he preferred to reply with grunts and nods.

    While everyone ate the rest of their food in silence, Grimsley looked at Nanu who was chewing on his last piece of bacon slowly. He recalled how he had learned about the tapu deities choosing their island’s guardian. There was something about the kahuna that pulled Grimsley towards him already. When the door slid open and someone stepped inside, Grimsley shifted his gaze to see Becky approaching them.

    “Good morning, everyone!” she said, waving at them. Everyone said good morning to her except Nanu, who instead mumbled under his breath. “I called the stable and one of the guides, Carlos, reserved the Mudsdale for you guys. Also, you guys should have these.” Becky pulled out three goggles from the bag she was carrying and handed them to Acerola.

    “That’s great, thanks a million, Becky!” Acerola’s face lit up and she said, “Oh Uncle Nanu, since we’re here why don’t we give Iokua a call?”

    Nanu almost choked on the milk he was drinking. Grimsley stared at him, thinking it was odd for him to react like that. After calming down, Nanu shrugged.

    “Eh, it’s been a while since I last talked with him, so sure.”

    “I wouldn’t mind talking with him, too. I think he would like to know that I made it safely to the Aether House,” Grimsley said.

    “Sure!” After bouncing out of her seat, Acerola closed her eyes and grinned. “Let’s start putting the plates in the sink. I can make that phone call.”

    Smiling, Becky said, “I’ll have my tablet ready while you guys do that.”

    It took a few minutes for Grimsley and the others to put the dishes in the sink and clean the tables. Once that was done, they moved to the front hall as the Pokémon followed them. Becky went to the reception desk and pulled out a tablet from there. She punched some buttons on the screen, and handed it to Acerola. Gracie and Hunter played with the Pokémon while Grimsley, Nanu, and Becky gathered around Acerola. They waited a minute until the screen lit up and Iokua’s face was shown.

    “Acerola!” Iokua said with a grin. He sat in front of a desk with a pile of papers next to him. Behind him was the window and two bookshelves.

    “Hi, Iokua!” Acerola said. “I’m calling to see how you’re doing.”

    “I’m doing great, thanks. You’re as chipper as ever, still having fun as trial captain?” When Acerola responded that she was, Iokua grinned. “That’s wonderful. Ah, I noticed Grimsley has reached the Aether House. I take it you didn’t have much trouble getting your way here?”

    “It went smoothly for the most part,” Grimsley said, leaning his head closer to the screen. “I passed by Tapu Village, and while it left much to be desired it was still a treat to see.”

    “I’m glad to hear on both counts,” Iokua said, sounding satisfied. When he noticed Nanu, his grin grew larger. “And how are you doing, Dad?”

    “Hey, Iokua,” Nanu said, his hands in the pocket of his pants. “Not much, really. Same ol’ same ol’.”

    “So the usual patrolling Po Town and Grand Trials, huh? It’s great you’re still making a difference in this island.”

    “Maybe,” Nanu said with a flat face. With an arched eyebrow, Grimsley stared at him.

    “Patrolling Po Town? Is that where you’re living?” he asked.

    Facing Grimsley, Nanu said, “Ah huh. I’m the only officer there since no one else wants to get close to Team Skull.”

    “Team Skull?” Grimsley’s eyes grew wide. “I stumbled upon them once before. So that group has been causing trouble in this region for a while now?”

    “They have,” Iokua said, who had been listening in on their conversation. “Po Town got overrun by them several years ago and the police there got overwhelmed.”

    “At one point some of them used their Pokémon to hurt our own men,” Nanu added. “When I agreed to be transferred here, I asked for back up but got nothing. Eventually I just let those guys do their own thing as long as they stay in their turf.” A grunt left his throat and he shrugged. “It’s best to not get involved with them if you value even an ounce of your life.”

    While locking his eyes with Nanu’s, Grimsley considered his warning. He wanted to remind him that he was from the Unova Elite Four and could handle himself, but decided against it since Nanu wouldn’t care anyways.

    “If you’re having trouble getting reinforcements, why don’t you ask the Aether Foundation for help?” Becky asked. “I’m sure we’re more than happy to assist you.”

    At that instant, Nanu shot her a glare and crossed his arms. “I appreciate the gesture, but I don’t think they’ll do much good.”

    Grimsley looked over his shoulder to see Becky frowned in disappointment. He was baffled by Nanu’s refusal there. On screen, Iokua had a similar expression as Becky’s.

    “Nanu and I are actually about to take Grimsley to the Ruins of Abundance right now!” Acerola said.

    “Is that so?” Iokua let out a pleased smile. “Well, you three have fun out there, and I’m sure you’ll like what you see, Grimsley.”

    “I have no doubt I will,” Grimsley said. Shortly after, Iokua said that he needed to get back to work and everyone said goodbye to him before the application on the tablet turned dark. As soon as Grimsley and the others finished talking with Iokua, the two children and the Pokémon approached them.

    “You sure we can’t come with you to Haina Desert?” Gracie asked, and Acerola shook her head.

    “Sorry, but the desert is too dangerous for you kids. Maybe when you guys are a little older.”

    Together, Gracie and Hunter let out disappointed voices and hung their heads down. Becky chuckled as she walked up to them and dropped on her knees to touch their shoulders.

    “Acerola’s right, that desert tends to get sandstorms and you can get lost easily if you’re not careful. You guys will get your chance someday.”

    Both children still didn’t look convinced. Gracie pouted and crossed her arms against her chest. “Fine, we’ll stay,” she mumbled.

    “If those two are done complaining, I think that’s our cue for us to leave,” Nanu said, facing Grimsley and Acerola. They nodded in agreement.

    “I can take you guys to Acerola’s trial site and to Route 13 where the Mudsdale are. The jeep’s outside.” Becky turned towards Oranguru. “You watch the kids for a little while until I come back!”

    With a nod, Oranguru grunted and punched his chest like a drum. Becky chuckled and patted his shoulder.

    The two children wished the three a fun and safe trip through Haina Desert. The Pokémon joined in on sending them off too, with Yungoos and Mimikyu making high pitched growls while Oranguru and Elekid waved their arms. Grimsley and Acerola said their goodbyes while Nanu just flicked his wrist at them. They stepped out of the Aether House and the sliding doors closed behind them.

    A tan jeep with the Aether Foundation star symbol was parked outside. Grimsley and Acerola took the back seat while Nanu and Becky sat in the front. As Grimsley made himself comfortable against the leather seat, he waited a minute until Becky started the engine and the car took off.

    It was a fairly short drive from Route 15 to Tapu Village, and when they reached there only a few people gathered outside. The construction towards the path to Mount Lanalika was still off limits, so Grimsley was sure he wasn’t going to do some sightseeing there anytime soon. Once they reached the arrow signs that either led to Haina Desert or Route 14, Becky drove into the downward path.

    “Huh, looks like the construction for the Pokémon League is almost finished!” Acerola said, pointing at the construction site.

    “Pokémon League?” Grimsley raised an eyebrow. “I thought Alola doesn’t have one.”

    “It was just recently decided that Alola should have one,” Becky said, her eyes still on the road. “Looks like we’ll have our own Elite Four and Champion soon.”

    Acerola hummed in agreement, and she looked up at Grimsley. “You’re a dark type expert in the Unova League, right?”

    “Yes. I love the mysterious and crafty nature of dark types. Being an Elite Four has its perks.”

    Grinning, Acerola said, “I train ghost Pokémon and I feel the same way! Plus they’re fun to work with!”

    Grimsley couldn’t help but smirk. “You know a lady named Shauntal? She’s the ghost type expert in the same Pokemon League as me. You and her would get along splendidly.”

    Acerola’s face lit up. “I heard of her, yes! I even have one of her books with me!”

    After rummaging through her bag, she pulled out a thick blue book and handed it to Grimsely. He looked at the cover with a picture of a trainer and an Articuno. The title “Snowstorm in Johto” was engraved in silver letters.

    “Ah, I remember Shauntal bothering me brainstorming ideas for that story because I have family from Johto,” Grimsley said as he flipped through several pages. Once he was finished, he handed the book back to Acerola. “Glad she did as it’s a good read.”

    “I know, right? She’s great with characters and atmosphere!”

    Grimsley nodded in agreement, and shifted his gaze at Nanu’s direction. “How about you, Nanu? What’s your reason for training dark types?”

    “What?” Nanu moved his head slightly without looking at the back. After several seconds, he said, “I somehow just ended up with them. What can I say, misery loves company.”

    “Is that so...” Grimsley let out a puzzled grunt and scratched his chin. He decided to not ask further and leave it at that.

    Route 14 was a small coastal route with dried black sand and broken roads. Large waves crashed onto the shore. Grimsley spotted a few people already there to fish or have a Pokémon battle. When he glimpsed at the ocean through the window, remnants of destroyed buildings underwater flashed before his eyes. There was a large cracked road up ahead.

    By the time they reached the top several minutes later, they got out of the jeep. Grimsley stared at the abandoned building in front of him. Pieces of brick from the foundation had fallen apart and graffiti filled with less than appropriate words was sprayed across there. The windows were dirty and clouded with dust, tinted in darkness. Overgrown weed popped up in front of the store and around the fences with some trash that littered the ground. He heaved a deep sigh, facing everyone.

    “So this is the site of your trial?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. Acerola nodded, a proud smile reaching her lips.

    “Ah huh. I thought it would be cool to have a spooky theme trial be held in an abandoned location like this one! I let the trainers take pictures of the ghost Pokémon roaming around, and then they battle a Mimikyu that’s larger than usual.”

    Nanu snorted, one hand on his hip. “Half of the trainers that came to me mentioned how the totem Mimikyu scared them and their Pokémon half to death. I don’t blame them.”

    “Well, what’s the use of a ghost type trial if it doesn’t frighten anyone?” Acerola countered, lifting her chin up.

    Becky chuckled while Grimsley hummed in agreement. That statement reminded him when he talked with Shauntal over her Pokémon League room’s aesthetic design. He cleared his throat.

    “From what I understand, this region has trial captains and kahunas that work differently from the usual gym leaders and Elite Four from other regions. Iokua had explained the basics to me.”

    “He did, huh? Did he also tell you how kahunas chose their captains?” Acerola asked, and Grimsley nodded. She continued with, “However, I was the only other trial captain Nanu chose.”

    “She’s not lying,” Nanu said. He stared over his shoulder at the abandoned market. “We got one other trial captain here, but I let his cousin do it. There were some unusual circumstances in Ula’ula Island for a while, and Poni Island isn’t doing well either as they still lack a kahuna.”

    “An island without a kahuna, huh? I can see how that poses a problem,” Grimsley said. He recalled what he had read on the tapus and how they chose their kahuna. That meant that island’s tapu hadn’t chosen a successor yet.

    “You also look over the trials at Poni Island because of that, right Kahuna Nanu?” Becky pointed out.

    “Yeah, but not too many trial goers made it past frilly Mina’s trial.”

    “Oh, I remember trying her trial a few years ago!” Acerola said, her hands on her hips. “That Ribombee of hers is no pushover!”

    “So you’re actually overseeing two islands,” Grimsley said to Nanu. “It must be not easy in addition to being a police officer.”

    The kahuna gave a slight nod, but with a tight expression that said he wasn’t pleased with it. “I had no choice. I was chosen as this island’s kahuna, and Poni Island needed someone to watch over the trials there until another kahuna is ready.”

    Unsure how to respond to that, Grimsley folded his arms and pursed his lips up. He only met Nanu less than a day, but he thought him being a dark type trainer fitted him well.

    “Excuse me, but did I hear that there’s a trial captain and kahuna here?”

    Grimsley flinched upon hearing that familiar voice. He turned around and his heart jumped inside his throat. The visitor was dressed in a gray overcoat that looked to be too uncomfortable for him to wear in this weather. There was no mistake it was him with his glasses and strange hairstyle.

    “Yes you did!” Acrola greeted him with a grin. Becky smiled while Nanu had an indifferent expression on his face. “I’m Trial Captain Acerola, and Uncle Nanu here is this island’s kahuna!”

    “Hi there,” Nanu said with a lazy hand wave.

    “I’m Becky!” Becky said.

    “Wonderful!” He clapped his hand, and said, “My name is Colress, and I’m a scientist conducting my research here.” He stopped and his eyes turned wide when he noticed Grimsley. “Well well, what a pleasant surprise, Unova’s Elite Four Grimsley!”

    “Nice to see you too, Colress,” Grimsley said, giving him a sharp look.

    “Wait, you two knew each other?” Becky asked.

    “We’ve met a few times before.” Furrowing his brow at Colress, Grimsley said, “He forgot to mention that he was once part of a secret organization called Team Plasma.”

    “Wait, is that true?” Acerola asked, her eyes wide. Becky had the same shocked expression on her face.

    “He’s right,” Colress said, frowning. “However, Team Plasma has long since dissolved.”

    Nanu titled his head and narrowed his eyes. “I think I’ve heard of them before. Didn’t those guys cause havoc in Unova twice?”

    “Indeed they did,” Grimsley said, and he faced Colress. “Speaking of which, how are you able to run around and not get arrested?”

    “I’ve struck a deal with the International Police that I do research for them in exchange for my freedom,” Colress said without flinching.

    “What your research’s about, if you don’t mind me asking?” Acerola asked

    Colress smirked, and he began tapping the buttons on the sleeve of his overcoat. “Ah, yes. The theme of my research is: bringing out the power of Pokémon! And I believe it has to do with you and your kahuna’s Z-rings!”

    “Oh, you mean this?” Nanu held out the bracelet on his wrist, and Colress nodded. Grimsley noticed a slot in the center, and he glanced at the shard around his neck that could fit in it. He wondered if that shard was the Z-crystal he had read about.

    “Yes! While conducting my research here, I met a couple strangers who informed me the most fascinating facts about those bracelets.” Colress glanced over his shoulder and grinned. “Ah, here they are now!”

    Everyone turned around to see two more newcomers. They wore spacesuits that made Grimsley think of them to be astronauts and looked to be very pale. He gazed at the purple-haired man and red-haired girl approaching them.

    “Hey, there you are, Mr. Scientist Man!” the girl said, waving at Colress. Her grin widened. “And oh, looks like you have company!”

    “I was just talking about you two to them,” Colress said. “Everyone, let me introduce to you Zossie and Dulse of the Ultra Recon Squad.”
    “Alola, all!” Zossie said. She and Dulse attempted to greet them the Alola rainbow sign, but instead they made a more rectangular sign.

    “Alola to you, too!” Acerola greeted them with the proper Alola rainbow sign with her arms. She introduced herself and Nanu to them.

    “And I’m Grimsley,” Grimsley said with a small smile out of proper respect.

    “Wait, the Ultra Recon Squad?” Becky said as she stared at their suits. “I’ve heard of you guys! You’re working with the Aether Foundation on some research projects.”

    “You’re correct in that assumption,” Dulse said, sounding pleased. “I take it that you’re an employee of theirs?” he asked, and Becky nodded.

    “I work at the Aether House and watch over the orphans and Pokémon there.”

    “Dulse and I met with several other Aether employees like you!” Zossie said in excitement. “It’s amazing how you guys work hard in keeping the Pokémon safe.”

    Grimsley glanced over his shoulder at Nanu. The man had that same sour expression like this morning when Becky had praised the Aether Foundation. It seemed there were many things the kahuna didn’t like.

    “Your scientist friend here said that you guys know a thing or two about Z-Rings,” Nanu said as he leant forward and placed his hands on his sides.

    “Ah, yes we do.” Dulse gave Nanu a blank stare and cleared his throat. “You see, we came from another world that is filled with darkness caused by the beast called Necrozma. Our ancestors were greedy for its light, causing it to run wild and constantly hunger for light.”

    Grimsley’s head flinched back and his breath caught in his throat. Both Becky and Acerola’s mouths fell while Nanu gave them skeptical looks. A knowing grin crossed Colress’s face.

    “Another world? So does this mean you guys aren’t from around here?” Grimsley asked.

    “Yeah, I’m wondering the same thing,” Nanu said, scratching his chin.

    “We found Alola by passing through an Ultra Wormhole. Necrozma is able to open wormholes at will, and we need to find a way to stop it before it steals Alola’s light.”

    “Really? Must be cool traveling around space,” Acerola said, now grinning.

    “We recently visited Tapu Village where Necrozma fought against the tapu,” Zossie added. “We believed its light that it lost is what causes your guys’ Z-crystals and Z-moves to happen!”

    “Oh, I think I heard of that confrontation from one of my dad’s books. The tapus got exhausted after battling a powerful Pokémon that caused Alola to be dark. But thanks to getting help from Z-crystals, the tapus fought back and drove that Pokémon away!”

    As he let the Ultra Recon Squad and Acerola’s stories sink in, Grimsley’s eyes flew open. “I believed one Ultra Wormwhole just popped up a few days ago while I was in Melemele Island. You think that could be Necrozma’s doing? And how could it be stopped?”

    “Most likely!” Zossie said. “Dulse and I keep track of any Ultra Wormholes that appear, and we did pick up one from that location in our readings.”

    “They’ve asked for my help in creating a machine for them that would restrain Necrozma, and I accepted their request,” Colress said. “It still needs some tinkering, but I’m confident that it’ll produce marvelous results!”

    Grimsley’s scowl at Colress deepened. He told Zossie and Dulse, “I wouldn’t trust him if I were you. He could be using it for his own means.”

    Colress chuckled, sneaking in a grin. “Don’t worry, I have no intention of deceiving them.”

    “Colress proves to be knowledgeable in the ways of Pokémon, so his help will be greatly appreciated,” Dulse said. “Before we go, there is one request we would like from the kahuna of this island.”

    “Huh? What kind of request?” Nanu asked, raising his eyebrow.

    “You see, Necrozma is too strong for us, so we’ve been looking for some Pokémon trainers to help us.”

    “We heard that the island kahunas here are super strong!” Zossie said. “And we would like to have a Pokémon battle to see how good you are!”

    Nanu didn’t look pleased hearing that. “I usually only accept battles from trainers taking the island challenge.”

    “Is that so?” Dulse frowned, but he pulled out what looked like to be a blue pokéball with golden accents on it. It wasn’t like any pokéball Grimsley had seen. “Perhaps this will change your mind. Poipole, show yourself!”

    Dulse tossed the pokéball up, and a purple creature burst out from it. Three spikes stuck out from its large head, each one having a gray nozzle that could spray any liquid out. It gazed everyone with its glowing blue eyes and chuckled. Grimsley’s lips were slightly parted and his breath hitched as he stared at the creature.

    “Is that Adhesive?” Nanu asked, his voice on edge. Glancing over his shoulder, Grimsley noticed the kahuna’s chin raised and his eyes narrowed. Acerola and Becky gave him concerned looks.

    “Ah, so you’ve met this Ultra Beast before?” Dulse asked with a pleased smile.

    Nanu flinched and his face sunk. As he looked away from him he said, “Let’s just say it was a long time ago.”

    Taken aback by that response, Grimsley blinked. He was curious what was Nanu’s experience with this “Adhesive”, but withhold from asking for now.

    “Excuse me, but what’s an Ultra Beast?” Grimsley asked instead.

    “Ultra Beasts are what we called the creatures in our own world,” Zossie said, and the purple creature floated toward her. “We call this little guy Poipole because it likes to spray purple poison.”

    “What, poison?” Becky asked in shock, and Zossie giggled.

    “Don’t worry, as long as it doesn’t spray on your face you should be fine!”

    As if agreeing, Poipole nodded. It began flying around the group, and when it reached to Acerola she grinned and patted its forehead.

    “It is cute!” Acerola said, and that made Poipole cheer. The alien-like Pokémon soon approached Grimsley and already he backed up.

    “No, you may not spray on my kimono,” he said, holding his hand up.

    Poipole titled its head at first, but once it got the message the creature frowned. When Poipole hoovered at Nanu next, it giggled and twirled around. He gave it a hard stare and sighed.

    “Sorry, but I’ll still pass,” Nanu said as he faced back at Dulse and Zossie, the both of them frowning. “Funny you want a dark type trainer to go save ‘Alola’s light’. I have no interest in playing hero for a couple of strangers I’ve just met.”

    “Fair enough if you don’t want to take this momentous task. Alola has a lot of other trainers we can look into.” After Dulse finished saying that, he clapped his hands. “Poipole, back inside.”

    That caught Poipole’s attention and led the little Ultra Beast to fly back to him. Dulse pulled out the special pokéball and returned it inside its container.

    “So Acerola, what will you and your group be doing next?” Colress asked.

    “We’ll be going to Haina Desert to the Ruins of Abundance and pay our respects to Tapu Bulu!” Acerola said.

    “Oh, cool!” Zossie said. “Dulse, and I went to the desert a few days ago. It was too hot for us!”

    “We visited the altars of your other island guardians, but this one was the hardest for us to get through due to the sandstorms,” Dulse said. “We would like to investigate Poni Island’s ruins next when given the chance.”

    “You best wait until a new island kahuna has been chosen there unless you want to cross paths with Tapu Fini’s wrath,” Nanu said, one hand on his side. “Then again, I don’t care if you listen to me.”

    “We will keep that in mind, then.” Dulse nodded, and he faced everyone. “Well, Zossie and I still have a lot of work ahead of us so we must make our leave now.”

    “I should be going myself, too,” Colress said. “I need to continue work on the machine for you two.”

    “It was great meeting with you all!” Acerola said, grinning.

    “Same here!” Becky said, expressing the same enthusiasm in her voice.

    Zossie and Dulse gave everyone a nod and did their version of the Alola goodbye sign with their arms. After they headed out, Colress waved goodbye at everyone and began leaving himself. He took several steps, but stopped and spun around.

    “Oh, before I leave, we’re overdue for a long needed conversation, Grimsley. I’ll be in this island for a while longer if you want to talk,” Colress said in a firm tone, and he finally made his leave.

    “What’s that all about?” Becky asked.

    Grimsley knew exactly what he wanted to talk to him about. After all, he had stormed out before Colress could finish explaining his involvement with Team Plasma. With a sharp frown, he said,“Nothing that concerns you.”

    Nanu raised an eyebrow at him, and he shrugged. Grimsley was glad at least that the kahuna didn’t care to bother him about it. He was even more relieved when Acerola told everyone that they should get going to get their Mudsdale at Route 13, so everyone jumped onto the jeep and headed their way out of Route 14.

    xxx

    The drive from Route 14 to Route 13 lasted several minutes. Many of the trailers that Grimsley had seen were still there, which he assumed belonged to the people that plan to go to Haina Desert, too. Becky pointed out that they’re getting close to the PokéRide ranch, so they made a pitstop once they reached there. Like the one in Route 12, it housed several Pokémon to help travelers get through the island.

    The ranch was situated in between the oasis and Haina Desert with a few food stands and shops in between. They stopped when they were in front of an open field surrounded by a fence. Grimsley glanced around to see several Pokémon roaming outside and enjoying the fresh air. A man and a woman, who were feeding a Pelipper and Mudbray, noticed the group were here and went up to them, offering their guests warm smiles.

    “Oh, hello there Becky!” the woman said. “Carols and I reserved a few Mudsdale for your group here. We’ll get them right now.”

    “Awesome,” Becky said, smiling. “Thanks for letting us borrow them, by the way!”

    The woman returned with her own grin before she left with the man to get the Pokémon. They brought with them three Mudsdale, each one carrying a bag of supplies on their backs. Grimsley approached his Mudsdale, who greeted him with a cheerful neigh. He looked over his shoulder to see Nanu and Acerola hopping onto their own rides. Beaming, Acerola gazed down at her Mudsdale and rubbed his cheek.

    “Cotton here is a cutie!” she said, looked at Grimsley. “Yours is Walnut, I think?”

    Grimsley looked at the name tag on his Mudsdale, and indeed caught the name “Walnut” on it. “Walnut, huh? Sounds fine for a horse Pokémon,” he said as he hopped onto his ride.

    “I got Spindle, but he should be fine I guess,” Nanu said, staring at the sky. Some clouds drifted by, but otherwise it was sunny.

    Becky faced Grimsley and said, “Oh, Grimsley, these two are Yvonne and Carlos. They and a few others take care of the Pokémon here and make sure they get sent off to travelers smoothly.”

    “Ah, so you’re Yvonne and Carlos? Hanna told me that you two oversee the Mudsdale that help the people through the desert.”

    The man, Carlos, grinned at him. “You must’ve met with her back in Route 12. But yes, Yvonne and I let other travelers borrow Mudsdale if they want to go through the desert. We also have more Pokémon for those that want to use them for a different purpose. “

    “I take it Hanna gave you a ride pager and told how it works, correct?” Yvonne asked, and Grimsley said that she did. “Well, both Hanna’s ranch and ours will get contacted the second you ring it, and depending on availability and location either one of our places will send out a Pokémon for you. Nifty, huh?”

    “I see. I’ll keep that in mind.” Grimsley gave a curt nod while Walnut snorted and shook her head.

    “We’ll be heading to the desert now, but thanks again for giving them to us!” Acerola closed her eyes and smiled.

    “I’ll be heading back to the Aether House now,” Becky said. “All of you have a fun and safe trip there!”

    Everyone waved to Becky, Carlos, and Yvonne goodbye, and their Mudsdale headed out on a full gallop. As everyone was leaving the stable, Grimsley glanced over his shoulder to see Yvonne and Carlos getting back to work while Becky was already inside the car. He faced back forward to see the afternoon sun in the horizon.

    xxx

    A light sandstorm was already brewing once Grimsley, Acerola, and Nanu reached Haina Desert.

    They immediately put on their goggles so that no sand could get into their eyes, but some still got stuck on Grimsley’s hair and left a bitter aftertaste in his mouth. The Mudsdale’s hooves sunk into the heavy but soft sand, slightly slowing their movements. There were some rolling hills and rugged boulders like in Route 12 that he encountered, but Walnut was able to get through them with ease. On occasion a Sandile, Trapinch, or Dugtrio—the Alolan form ones in which luxurious golden hair grew out of their heads—would pop up and startled the group for a second. Grimsley was overwhelmed by the vastness of his surroundings and the sun burning his back.

    “I noticed there were several boulders stacked up together next to the exit we took. Is there any significance to that?” Grimsley asked, sweat rolling down on his forehead and kimono. His throat grew dry.

    “Haina Desert is very big, so there are boulders to let us know which path to take to the Abundance Ruins,” Acerola said. “2-1-4-3, that’s what my dad had told me.”

    Grimsley hummed in understanding. “This desert reminds me a little bit of the Desert Resort back in Unova. We also have Sandile and Trapinch running around, and our own ancient ruins in the middle of the desert.”

    “Really? Have you been there?”

    “When I was around your age. It’s an old castle built by one of the twin brothers that founded Unova over two thousand years ago. The ruins now had been buried in sand and an abundance of Pokémon taking residence there.” It was also where Team Plasma had tried to find one of the legendary dragons’ stones, but he didn’t mention that.

    “An ancient castle sounds amazing! My family used to be royalty, but we don’t have buildings like that here. Instead we have old property.”

    Grimsley’s eyebrow quirked with great interest. He recalled Iokua telling him how Alola didn’t have a monarchy anymore, but he didn’t expect Acerola to be one. “So your family has fallen from grace too? Iokua mentioned that your father had passed away.”

    “He got really sick when I was young, and that’s how I ended up in the Aether’s House. My family haven’t been in real power for generations, but they’re still well known in this island.” Acerola’s frown changed to a bright smile. “Anyways, I think you’ll like the Ruins of Abundance!”

    Grimsley returned a small smile of his own, admiring the girl’s spirit. He turned his gaze at Nanu. “How often do you visit there, Nanu?”

    “Less than I should have.” Nanu stared over his shoulder at them. “I should thank you guys for getting me off my butt doing this.”

    “He just hates the desert,” Acerola whispered. She giggled behind her hand, and Grimsley responded with a shrug.

    Everyone went silent the next few minutes. Grimsley looked around to see a few Pokémon running around and the sandstorm growing stronger. After he popped open his canister and drank some water, a Pokemon’s screech was heard that caused him to freeze and almost drop his drink. That also startled Acerola and Nanu.

    “What was that?” Grimsley asked.

    “Sounds like a Pokémon’s hurting,” Acerola said. She pointed to the right. “Look!”

    Grimsley turned around to see a short distance from them a Gabite biting a Sableye’s chest. The Sableye screeched and tried to pull away from the Gabite’s grip to no avail. Grimsley’s palm already touched a pokéball, but Nanu raised a hand at him.

    “Let me handle this,” the kahuna told him. He threw his own pokéball, and his own Sableye came out. Grimsley could tell this one was female as the gem on her chest was bigger than the male ones and her eyes were a darker blue. Nanu ordered her to help the other Sableye out, and she sprung into action.

    His Sableye’s arm was shrouded in dark smoke and she rushed at the Gabite. She slashed at the dragon’s belly, which caused him to open his jaw and release the Sableye he was eating. The Gabite turned his attention to Nanu’s Sableye and attempted to ram onto her. She jumped out of the way, and while in the air her eyes glowed and she fired a Power Gem that scorched her opponent's back. The Gabite roared in pain and slashed at Nanu’s Pokémon with his fiery claws. Sableye hissed and glared at him, a large cut left on her face. She retaliated by forming cold mist around her arms and punched Gabite’s chin. Part of the Gabite’s jaw froze, and he collapsed on the ground.

    Grimsley couldn’t take his gaze off throughout the whole battle. He looked at Nanu, who sighed and stared at the fallen Pokémon.

    “Kid, vampire boy, go check on that Sableye there while I fix this Gabite up.”

    Grimsley blinked upon being called that, but he hopped off Walnut and grabbed a potion from his bag. He and Acerola approached the other Sableye, who had been hiding behind a boulder after being saved. The Pokémon backed away and stared at them.

    “Hi there!” Acerola said, stretching her arm at him. “We’re here to help you feel better.”

    When Acerola looked at Grimsley and nodded at him, Grimsley handed her the potion he was holding. The Sableye continued to glare at them, but he eventually walked up to them and Acerola sprayed the potion on him. Most of the scratches and bite marks on his chest and legs faded, and he gave a sound in satisfaction.

    “There you go!” Acerola flashed the Pokémon a wide grin and offered him a few berries.

    Grimsley couldn’t help but smile a little. He looked over his shoulder to see Nanu giving the Gabite several sprays and the ice on his jaw melted. The Gabite stood up and growled.

    “Now you don’t cause anymore trouble, all right?” Nanu said. The Gabite glared at him for a few seconds, and he headed out.

    “Thanks for helping this Sableye out!” Acerola said as Nanu and his Sableye walked up to her and Grimsley.

    “That was more troublesome than anything.” Nanu scratched the back of his head and said, “Gabite likes to take down Sableye because both of them want Carbink. First I’ve seen this happen in action.”

    “What’s a Sableye doing alone in a desert?” Grimsley asked.

    “Probably a stray looking for crystals or something. Odd for sure, but eh.”

    “Sounds plausible.” He shifted his gaze to see Nanu’s Sableye talking to the other one. It seemed like she tried to comfort him as the Pokémon would nod at her on occasion. After a few more exchanges, the wild Sableye grinned and shook her hand. He waved goodbye at everyone, and began leaving.

    “Looks like that Sableye is feeling better now!” Acerola said. “Shall we keep going?”

    Nanu grunted in agreement and returned his Sableye inside her pokéball. “Come on, we should find a spot to rest before it gets dark.”

    After everyone jumped back onto their Mudsdale, Grimsley stared at Nanu’s tired face. He didn’t blame him for being annoyed over needing to break that fight up. The three continued on their way through the desert.

    xxx

    When the sandstorm died down by sunset, the group decided to set up camp for the night. Their Mudsdale stayed close to them, drinking at a nearby spring. They gathered around a fire and ate malasada that they had brought with them from the Aether House. There were some passing conversations in which Acerola explained more of Alola’s sites, and in turn Grimsley described Unova’s own cities and attractions to her and Nanu. Acerola often squealed whereas Nanu would respond flatly, “Sounds nice”. Shortly after they finished their meal they called it a night and tried to get some sleep.

    For over an hour, Grimsley stared at the night sky with his arms behind his head. He thought over how much he had learned about Alolan culture in the short time he traveled through here and how everyone he met so far had welcomed him with open arms. Well, save for Nanu, his distance already bothering him a little. As he sat up, Grimsley looked around to see the fire crackling and Acerola sounding asleep. Spindle, Cotton, and Walnut rested too, all three Mudsdale curled up together for warmth. Nanu’s sleeping bag, though, was empty; he instead leaned his back against a palm tree and he stared down at something he was holding in his hand. Grimsley pulled out from his own sleeping bag and stood up, dusting some of the sand off of his clothes. He approached Nanu slowly from behind, and when he was closer to him he saw that the other man carried with him a police badge that had his photo identification and a second picture with him and two other people. Grimsley’s stomach dropped.

    “That’s an international police badge,” Grimsley said and that caused Nanu to flinch and glare at him.

    “Aren’t you supposed to be sleeping?”

    “I could say the same for you. So does that mean you once were an Interpol officer? And you with those other people, are they officers, too?”

    A deadpan expression crossed Nanu’s face. When he remained silent, Grimsley continued badgering him.

    “When did that picture took place? Must’ve been several years ago from the looks of it. And did you three get along well?”

    “Can you stop asking so many questions? You’re giving me a headache,” Nanu snapped, rubbing his forehead.

    “You were outside with that badge there, so I can’t help but be curious.”

    “Have you heard the saying, curiosity kills the cat? You’re heading towards that path now.”

    With a smirk, Grimsley folded his arms against his chest. “You need to do better than that to scare me.”

    Nanu shifted his glare away from Grimsley and said, “The other guy in the picture, that’s his badge not mine.”

    Grimsley rolled his eyes, not buying it. “Oh please, you two don’t look remotely alike! Clearly you’re avoiding this topic.”

    “Well congratulations on that great deduction, Sherlock.”

    Grimsley cocked his head, and then shook it. “I can see why you’re known for your warm personality.”

    He gazed back at the picture. Nanu stared at the camera while one of his friends, a man in the tan jacket, beamed and the other, a woman in a dark suit, made a peace sign with her fingers. There was one person in the picture he was familiar with.

    “The man in the tan jacket, I recognized him.”

    Nanu stared at him with a shocked face. “You met him before?”

    “Oh, now who’s the curious cat here?” A grin stretched across Grimsley’s face as he realized that he could use Nanu’s reaction to his advantage. “Well, how about a trade? I’ll tell if you do.” He waited until Nanu sighed and dragged his hand across his face.

    “Urgh, fine you win. So how you two met?”

    “He and a few of his colleagues had to interview me after Team Plasma had barged in the Pokémon League. I didn’t come in contact with him after that.”

    Thinking about that incident left a sour taste on Grimsley’s mouth. He remembered the officer asking him, in a thick accent, several questions over what happened while N and Team Plasma took over the league. After the interview was over, the man offered him his card and to contact him if he had any new leads but Grimsley didn’t bother to, even after he found out about Colress being a member of the new version of Team Plasma. Iris, Alder, and Cheren were the ones to inform the officer of Team Plasma’s resurrection two years after.

    “You did mention Team Plasma earlier when we met with that scientist guy and his friends there,” Nanu said, and he scratched his chin. “Come to think of it, you were upset when he said he wanted to talk with you. Did something went on between you two?”

    Grimsley’s stomach twisted and an odd noise left his throat. Before responding, he bit his lip and tugged at his scarf.

    “Colress and I didn’t just meet a few times. We were in a relationship for a while, but that’s something I don’t want to discuss at this time.”

    Nanu’s face fell. “Oh, I didn’t see that coming. I won’t push the subject further, then.” He stopped and cackled. “Really, Interpol’s letting that man with the weird hair work with them? Boy, they suck.”

    “Not funny,” Grimsley said, scowling. He wasn’t in the mood for him poking fun at his former partner. “Now it’s your turn to trade.”

    “Fine, fine,” Nanu said, giving him a dismissive hand wave. “I had been in the international police for a little while, a pretty sweet gig. However, there was one mission where me and two of my colleagues were involved in but one of them, the woman in the picture, ended up gone.”

    Grimsley’s frown deepened. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

    “You have nothing to be sorry about. She and I didn’t get along all that well, but I was very upset when that happened.” Nanu put both the police badge and photo back inside the pockets of his short sleeved jacket. “Not long after that, I retired from that gig, becoming a regular cop and ending up being this island’s kahuna.”

    Stroking his chin, Grimsley said, “That reminds me, you said earlier that you had no choice as this island’s kahuna. Do you mind telling me how you were picked?”

    Nanu’s eyes grew wide. He shifted his head and shoved his hands onto his pants’ pockets. “I’ll tell you that story when we reach the Ruins of Abundance.”

    “Oh, leaving it as a cliffhanger, are we?” A smirk pulled onto Grimsley’s lips. When Nanu didn’t respond, he told him that he would be going back to sleep and slipped back inside his sleeping bag. Before closing his eyes, he glanced at Nanu to see him deep in thought with his eyes shut and arms crossed. Grimsley eventually drifted off to sleep.

    xxx

    The next morning, the group packed up their stuff and headed out. There was no sandstorm today, so they could see more clearly where they were going and follow the directions from the rock’s formations better. They trudged through more of the desert for another few hours until Nanu informed them the temple was just up ahead. Grimsley and Acerola followed Nanu and his Mudsdale a little further, and they stopped when the group reached in front of the ruins’ entrance. Everyone dismounted of their Mudsdale.

    They stepped inside a cavern with a large cobbled path that was above piles of sand. Grimsley’s shoes echoed through the walls as he followed Nanu and Acerola from behind. The air inside wasn’t as hot as outside, but sweat still spilled onto his eyebrows. He spotted two Sandile resting with their mother Krokorok. The larger crocodile Pokémon stared at them before going back to sleep with her children. He, Acerola, and Nanu left them alone.

    They entered the next room and stopped in the middle of the wooden floorboard, Grimsley lifting his gaze to see the altar loomed over them. Two wooden stairs branched out, and on top stood a totem with a menacing face painted on it. Piles of stone on the bottom stood as its foundation. Thick vines trailed along the walls like a river.

    “I promised that I would tell you how I ended up being chosen as the kahuna,” Nanu said, and that made Grimsley tear his gaze off the altar. The other man shuffled his feet as he looked up. “Around a few years before I returned back to Alola, the last kahuna did something bad and was stripped of his title. Turns out, the big guy himself had some other plans for me. One night he appeared and gave me both this Z-crystal and Z-ring. I thought it was a dream, but turns out it wasn’t. Wanting some answers, I went to the Ruins of Abundance and met Tapu Bulu here. It wanted me to battle him, and I was like why not even though I didn’t stand a chance.” He stopped to chuckle. “I did get my butt kicked, but before it could finish off my last Pokémon, Tapu Bulu healed them and chose me as the kahuna. I guess it sensed I was a mess and gave me some sense of purpose.”

    While listening to Nanu’s story, Grmsley’s fingers rubbed against his coin. “I must say, that is a fascinating tale there.”

    “It is!” Acerola said. “I was very young back, but I remember being excited over the island having a new kahuna.” She faced Nanu, her smile stretching across her face. “Aren’t you going to pay respect to our island guardian liked you said you would?”

    “Huh?” Nanu’s eyes blinked. “Oh, right. Let’s go up the altar right now.”

    After Grimsley put his coin away, he took the stairs, the wooden foundation creaking beneath his feet, and joined Nanu and Acerola up the altar. He and Acerola were behind Nanu, who stared at the large totem.

    “So, it’s been a while, Tapu Bulu,” Nanu said, scratching the back of his neck. “I’ve been busy with cop duties and watching over another island, you know? Anyways, looks like everything is in shape. I brought in a couple visitors and we came here to pay our respects. I’m not all into the ‘I give my blessings’ fluff, but… yeah.”

    When he finished, Nanu put his hand on the totem, which glowed a light green color. Grimsley gasped in awe while watching the spectacle before him. Soon the light faded and Nanu stepped aside for Acerola to be in front. She squeezed her eyes shut and touched the totem, but unlike Nanu there was no glow. Yet she still looked calm. After Acerola finished, she told Grimsley in a chipper voice that it was his turn.
    He swallowed, took two steps, and his palm rested on the totem. No light bathed all over his skin, the same way that had happened to Acerola, but the totem’s surface grew warm against his fingers. He tried to think of something to say to Tapu Bulu in his head, only to settle with he wished the rest of his trip in Alola was a safe one and that he would find what he was looking for.

    “I noticed that the totem glowed when you touched it, but not when Acerola and I touched it,” he said when facing back at the two.

    “That’s because I’m the kahuna and I tend the ruins if needed,” Nanu said. “Tapu Bulu doesn’t just show itself at random.”

    Acerola nodded. “Yep, Uncle Nanu is right on that. The tapus tend to not let their presence be known or felt by anyone else unless they deemed you worthy.”

    Grimsley hummed in understanding. “Do you think I might get to meet Tapu Bulu?”

    Nanu said, “Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky.”

    “Lucky, huh? Hopefully luck will smile upon me.” Grimsley shot one last glance at the altar and smirked. Shortly after, everyone headed back down and left the room, leaving the ruins.

    xxx

    When everyone was back outside, the hot air and harsh sunlight returned to blast Grimsley’s face. He wasn’t looking forward to going back to the sandstorm, but trekking out of the desert shouldn’t be too hard thanks to Acerola and Nanu knowing where they were going.

    “Would you like to head back to the Aether House with us, or you’re going back to sleep somewhere else?” Acerola asked as they were getting ready to hop back onto their Mudsdale.

    “I think it’s reasonable for me to return with you. Perhaps I’ll drop by Blush and Hounlanki Mountain before I leave the island.”

    “You definitely should! Both have great science observatories you can check out!” Acerola beamed at him.

    “Glad to hear,” Grimsley said, smiling back. He looked at Nanu, who went back to his flat expression. Grimsley thought back to their interactions and what he had told him of his past. Despite his less than friendly demeanor, he was the most interesting person he had met.

    And Nanu could be what he was looking for in this trip.

    “Hey, Nanu.”

    That caused Nanu to stop Spindle and shift his stare at Grimsley. “Yeah?”

    Grimsley flinched, hesitant to say it at first. He cleared his throat. “I felt lost while being in the Elite Four, so I gambled by visiting here. Before I return to Unova, do you think we can have a Pokémon battle?” He glimpsed at Acerola, a stunned expression on her face. With a smirk, Grimsley approached Nanu. “Come on, take a chance.”

    Already Nanu furrowed his brow at him and grunted. “What makes you think I’ll battle you? You were with me when I declined that astronaut man’s request.”

    “Grimsley’s from the Elite Four, though! A kahuna versus an Elite Four would make a great battle!” Acerola said in excitement, clenching her fists.

    “Honestly, I never cared for the Elite Four and their glamorous lifestyle. Right now, I’m not interested.”

    “I understand, it was foolish of me to request that on a whim.” Grimsley sighed in disappointment. He gazed up at the sky and got up on his Mudsdale.

    As he and the others were heading off, he glanced over his shoulder to see the Ruins of Abundance growing farther from him. Grimsley drew another heavy sigh, turned his head back, and looked forward the rest of the way.



    xxx

    Haha, I dropped the bomb on Grimsley and Colress, huh? I admit I haven't considered that pairing until I made some changes to this chapter. The Gen 7 games has them visiting Alola. And um, my mind suddenly went Colress and Grimsley interacted and probably dated too oops.

    The two will meet again, so their past relationship will get resolved (story will still mainly focus on Grimsley and Nanu being tired dark uncle grumps together).

    Edit 3/28/2018: So, thanks to Ambyssin and Cutlerine's suggestions concerning the Colress reveal and Grimsley and Nanu's conversation, I went and rewrote those two scenes there which I think I'm satisfied with.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
  3. Astinus

    Astinus Well-Known Member

    I'll have to admit that I haven't played US/UM yet, so I'm sure I'll be missing a few things from the rest of your fic. That said, I don't mind about spoilers at all, which means that I'll keep reading!

    You certainly did drop a bomb with Grimsley/Colress. I was reading along, excited to see Colress (because his battle theme is one of my favorites and now I want to listen to it again), and expecting Grimsley to talk about how he had to battle Colress to help Unova. Was not expecting Colress to say that they used to date! That's a really cool detail to add in, giving the characters more life and backstory.

    Speaking of backstory, Grimsley's starting to learn a little more about Nanu's. I'm looking forward to whatever makes Nanu change his mind about who he battles. I'm also looking forward to seeing how all these characters start coming together as the story goes along. Especially since there's the promise of Colress coming back!

    Two things I noticed about this chapter mechanics-wise:
    -There are erroneous asterisks all over this chapter. I think they're bobandbill's marks for editing? Whatever they are, they're all over the place, so you'll want to find them and eradicate them!
    -
    Believe you mean "Carlos" instead of "Carols" here.
     
  4. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Huh, that is weird. When I posted the story over at AO3 and FFnet there were no asterisks lying around. Not sure what happened there, but I fixed those!

    Yeah, I originally thought about the two of them just encountering one another and battle one another, but I thought that was a bit predictable. Glad you thought that was neat detail!

    Grimsley will learn more about Nanu as the story progresses, and I thought up some scenes that will lead to Nanu changing his mind! There's still a few holes I need to poke first.
     
  5. Ambyssin

    Ambyssin Definitely a winter

    It's funny seeing Acerola gush about Shauntal. I mean, it's totally in character. But I remember seeing some tongue-in-cheek comments somewhere about how Shauntal's a hack and I can't get those out of my head for some reason. In any case, Nanu's as crabby and dismissive as ever. And, really, that's all the reason he needs to scoff at the idea of getting help from the Aether Foundation. Though, it does suggest he might think there's more going on with them than initial appearances give off. I'd have liked a little more of a glimpse as to just why Nanu couldn't care less about the Pokémon League. This could've been your opportunity to explore what made him dismiss Kukui's offer and send Acerola in his place. Though, I guess that could still get followed up on later.

    And it looks like you made the jump to the USUM-verse with the references to Mina and her trial. I mean, you had mentioned this stuff, but said you were going to keep it vague. So I guess you changed your mind in that regard? I think your explanation for Colress is just fine, though if you're going for accurate to canon, it might've been better to have that "I'm researching on what brings out a Pokémon," line (which reads a bit awkwardly as it is) as, "The theme of my research is: bringing out the power of Pokémon!" Since that's, y'know, his line. I mean, the dating thing is about as far from canon as you could stray, but, still, point stands. The Ultra Recon Squad are much more "in character," with Zossie's bounciness playing well off of Acerola, while Dulse is very stiff. So, it goes well with how gruff Nanu tends to be.

    I don't have much to say about the stuff in the desert. The meat comes in that little scene where Nanu and Grimsley are up after hours. It's a nice little expansion of Nanu's story from the post-game UB sidequest in SM. On the other hand, I felt a bit off to me how quick Nanu was to launch into that story when he had been keeping Grimsley at arm's length, so to speak. I do think it could be fixed with a little bit of Nanu trying (unsuccessfully) to dodge the issue. Though I know you have a character limit to worry about. We also get some details about how Tapu Bulu chose Nanu. It's done and dusted rather quickly, so I don't have much of an opinion on it.

    That's about all I have to say. Well, one last thing...
    Had to point this out, because I love unintentional rhymes. :p
     
  6. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    There's all kinds of fun shout-outs to the games here, huh! Like, one of the things that was simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating about USUM is that they were full of incidental characters, both returning and new, except that the games didn't make much use of them. Fic is a place where you can correct that kind of thing, and that's kind of what Foul Play is all about, with its mission of explaining what exactly Grimsley was doing hanging around on an Alolan beach in a kimono with a sharpedo's phone number. And now you're bringing in other incidental characters too, like the Ultra Recon squad and Colress, and just fleshing out the games' world a bit more with these interactions. I like it a lot. One thing I particularly like is your justification for why Colress is walking around a free man at the moment. Clearly the International Police were just like “well, this guy can build handheld machines that fracture reality, splice legendaries together and create an actual invisibility field, we should … probably just give him a job, actually”.

    If I had a criticism, it'd be about the way you introduce the fact that Colress and Grimsley dated. I think that's a super interesting thing to have happened – they're so unlike one another! – and it definitely puts an interesting spin on their interactions now and way back during the events of BW, but it feels weird for Colress to just announce it to everyone, like it's something they need to know. It makes everything awkward and clearly upsets Grimsley, so I can't imagine why he'd do it unless he was actively trying to be mean to him – which I don't think he is. It might be the kind of thing you'd reveal in narration rather than dialogue, and then maybe Nanu, picking up on the awkwardness, could ask Grimsley about his history with Colress when they have their conversation later on and Grimsley could decide whether or not to tell him at that point. But it definitely isn't the kind of thing you'd just announce to a group of strangers unless you were actively trying to be a jerk.

    Couple of minor nitpicks and also shout-outs to particularly great lines:

    Some words seem to be out of order here – I feel like that might be meant to be “She explained how she had called Becky at the Poké Ride stable”.

    You're missing a line between paragraphs here.

    That should be “had had” rather than just “had”.

    Either that's an expression I'm not familiar with, in which case my apologies, or that's a misspelling of “stay on their turf”.

    Again, the words seem to have got out of order here – it would make more sense if it was “I should thank you guys for getting me off my butt to do this”, I think.

    That should be “save” rather than “saved”.

    I love Nanu's response to being asked why he trains dark-types. It's just so him, you know? You have a real flair for those deadpan, understated comments that mark Grimsley and Nanu's speech, and it's wonderful. Another great one:

    As a description of Nanu? Good. As a description of Nanu voiced by Grimsley? Perfect.

    I have to say, I did like how excited Acerola got about Shauntal; based on the drivel she reads out from her draft novel in her pre-battle speech, I've always thought she was a total hack (it might've been me that Ambyssin heard that from) and it's kind of amusing to have her interpreted as a good writer for once. Or possibly it's just that Acerola has poor taste in literature. Actually, I can buy that. Acerola is an enthusiast, not a connoisseur; she likes things, a lot, but I never got the impression she's very discerning about what it is she likes.

    Finally – I see it's been raised before, but there are a lot of weird asterisks everywhere in this chapter. I've got a list of all the ones I've found, so you can ctrl+f each of the sentences in question to make fixing it easier, but I've put them under a spoiler to avoid making this review ten metres long.

    (Additionally, you might be missing a 'was' there in between “room” and “fairly”.)

     
  7. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Haha yeah it was Cutlerine that mentioned that. I wanted to do something where Acerola recognizes Shauntal and I'm like maybe she read her books so yeah. Concerning Nanu not interested in the Pokemon League, I do plan to have that explain later (haven't decided if in next chapter or a later one yet).

    About that, I originally thought about just referencing a few things like the new Pokemon forms and the Ultra Recon Squad, but after playing Ultra Sun there were some interesting stuff like Colress with the Ultra Recon Squad and Nanu looking over Poni Island so I decided to add those in. I think other things I'll reference US/UM are the Elite Four and maybe the totems, but that's about it.

    With Colress, I admit reason I used that line was I didn't want to copy/paste his "The theme of my research" line there, haha. But yeah, went ahead and changed that.

    Yeah, so I talked to Ambyssin and a few others concerning how Colress's walking a free man and one of the suggestions was him working with the international police. And yes, the international police totally would use that reason.

    lol yeah the Shauntal mention I remember it was you that mentioned that. To be fair, her books have gone through various edits like this story before it gets published. =P

    Ok, with some of the replies out of the way, an important announcement for anyone reading this. So, thanks to Ambyssin and Cutlerine's suggestions concerning the Colress reveal and Grimsley and Nanu's conversation, I went and rewrote those two scenes there which I think I'm satisfied with. Not only that, apparently Ch 4 still holds after the software update hazah!
     
  8. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Hi! Here for chapter four. :D Wee!

    Got some good description in this chapter! This part in particular made me hungry. XD

    I found it a little weird Nanu would admit to a lack of police help at first since, you know, he works with them, but it fits his personality, really. Nice touch.

    Lol. Nanu might not care yet... but something tells me he will eventually. ;) Even if he won't show it. Overall, you show both of their personalities perfectly, but especially Nanu's.

    Oh, Acerola's also done well. Her cheeriness is adorable, and not overdone by any means.

    Love the details on Shauntal here, and she's not even a present character.

    What an edgy, miserable man, lol. I can't get enough of his dialogue.

    They must enjoy watching their inhabitants run around like headless chickens until they have a leader to follow. :p

    Welp. I like this detail, but I'm skeptical of what this means in the future. Does he have an anklet or anything for "just in case" measures, or is it total freedom?

    Is this canon? I don't think it is. So essentially, Necrozma's light disappears from its body and slips into Z-crystals and allows the use of Z-moves? I can dig it.

    loool dark and light, yin and yang, Nanu. They go well together. Just embrace it!

    Wondering what role Team Plasma will play in the future, as I said... I can see Nanu's police/kahuna roles helping, and combined with Grimsley's dislike of Team Plasma, they could work together on it.

    Me neither, but Grimsley's dislike outside of Team Plasma affiliation is a nice touch.

    Yes, 'cause it ensures you two will talk again. ;)

    Overall, I enjoyed this! Moves the plot along a bit with focus on characters and worldbuilding very nicely. See you for chapter 5!
     
  9. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Ok, so CHAPTER FIVE IS HERE! First though, reply to diamondpearl876's comments and author musings under spoilers!

    diamondpearl876: Thanks so much for your comments here! Really enjoy your commentary there. To reply a few of those:

    -Concerning Colress, hm good question. I think Interpol gave him total freedom because hey, we can trust this dude that knew how to fusion legendaries am I right? = P

    -Necrozma's lore is based on the US/UM games, yes! There's a secret book where it mentions Necrozma made Alola dark and then "a youth and guardians together used the stones to summon the light once more."

    -"loool dark and light, yin and yang, Nanu. They go well together. Just embrace it!" Hahaha that's one of my favorite lines in that chapter actually.

    -Not counting the ones still taking N's side in B2W2, Team Plasma pretty much disbanded so they won't have much of a role here. Colress, on the other hand I still have some plans for him cooking up.

    Hey guys, so this story isn't dead! Sorry for the long delay, a few reasons for that:

    -During March and April I've been revising Chapters One to Four. I added/rearranged/took out a few scenes and fixed some prose too. I made udpates on what changes I did in the corresponding chapters notes if you guys are interested.

    -Speaking of revising, I did like several versions of this chapter and I think the version I'm posting I'll settle for now. Maybe. Also this grew bigger than I anticipated, oops.

    -Been busy working on some Tumblr fanzines! Funny story about that, I was writing one idea for it, but after it went over 4K words I scrapped it for various reasons and did another idea last minute. Shortly after that, I got accepted into another fanzine and was focusing on that too.

    -Been distracted with watching playthroughs of Detroit Become Human. Also, I may or may not want to do an androids au story that features Nanu and Looker (the latter as an android)...

    -Loads of real life shenanigans and other fandom commitments.

    Considering how slow I've been updating lately and I'm considering some changes to stuff from the original outline, I don't know when the next one will be. I hope to not it too long a wait, though! Thanks to bobandbill for the great betaing!

    Quick trivia before we begin the chapter: I have Acerola nickname the totem Mimikyu "Mimikins" as that's the name of the ghost Mimikyu in the dub version of the anime!


    NEXT CHAPTER in next post because Chapter Five is very very long and couldn't fit with my replies in one post ahhhhh. Also Chapter Five is in TWO POSTS!
     
  10. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Chapter Five
    Snatch


    Nanu was relieved to be out of the desert. He felt like a Magikarp being cooked in a frying pan, and the sand on his clothes and sandals irritated him. He could tell Grimsley didn’t look comfortable out there too, especially with him carrying that black scarf around.

    The orange sunset sky faded as stars slowly popped up, and a cool breeze kicked in. He, Grimsley, and Acerola returned the Mudsdale to Carlos and Yvonne, the two glad the Pokémon were a great help and more than happy to lend them again whenever they want. After that, they waited until Becky came to pick them up. Everyone took their seats from before.

    “So how was the trip through Haina Desert?” Becky asked as she was driving them back to the Aether House.

    “It was great!” Acerola said. “Before going to the ruins, Nanu saved a Sableye from being eaten by a Gabite. Grimsley and I helped healed it!”

    “Really? Sounds like an adventure.”

    “Going through the desert was icky, but we managed to make it to the Ruins of Abundance and pay our respects to Tapu Bulu.”

    “Did you guys get to see Tapu Bulu, then?”

    “Nah, the big guy didn’t show itself up, but it did communicate with me when I touched its totem,” Nanu said. When he had touched Tapu Bulu back in the ruins, bright light shrouded his whole body like a silky robe and his skin tingled. The island deity’s voice reached him, appreciating that he came to visit him even if had been a while. The tending the ruins part of his kahuna duties was at least done and over with.

    “That’s still pretty great though!” Becky said, beaming. “How about you, Grimsley? Did you enjoy the trip?”

    “I did, yes,” Grimsley said. “I told Acerola and Nanu how much the desert reminds me of the one I went to in Unova, and the Ruins of Abundance was lovely. When we get back to the Aether House, I’ll take a nice hot shower.”

    “I think we all will.” Nanu glanced over his shoulder to see Grimsley staring outside with tired eyes and his arms folded against his chest. Acerola meanwhile hummed blissfully, her feet kicking up in the air.

    Becky chuckled. “Well, you two looked exhausted, so I’ll whip you guys up something for dinner in the meantime.”

    As Nanu leaned back against his seat with his arms behind his head, he gazed at the starry night sky in front of him. Shower and dinner did sound nice after that trip through the desert. The rest of the car ride went on in silence.

    Xxx

    He found himself in Poni Meadows again. The streaming waterfall and Oricoro’s cries rushed through his ears, and the sweet nectar from the purple flowers hanging from the trees clung to his nose. Cold mist began to form, almost obscuring his vision. Next to him, his Persian rubbed her head affectionately against his leg.

    “I’m ready when you are, Triple Zero.”

    He recognized that voice like one would with a former lover. Nanu turned around to see Resolution Cave, and outside its entrance stood a woman in a dark suit.

    “Sana, what are you doing here?” he asked with a slight croak in his voice.

    “Did you forget already? We need to get to Glutton.” She pressed her lips and folded her arms against her chest. “And you’re supposed to be my superior.”

    Sana, always with the sharp tongue. Nanu pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head.

    “We can throw insults at each other later. Right now, I need you to get away!”

    “Huh, why?”

    A sharp pain pushed through Nanu’s chest. He frowned.

    “I shouldn’t be saying this, but you’re being used. Interpol is sending you to your funeral.” He took a couple steps forward, his hands gripping on her shoulders. “Please, run while you still can.”

    Sana’s eyes shot wide open with horror. After a long stare, she dropped to her knees and a bitter laugh left her throat.

    “So you knew all along that I was a Faller. Even if you had warned me beforehand—”

    The sounds of the waterfall and Oricorio were replaced by wind and static. The sky darkened and mist thickened to smoke. Persian moved her gaze all over and let out a worried meow.

    Just then, a large crab-like beast burst out from the cave. It opened its jaw, which was stuck in the middle of its torso, and screeched. Both the bigger eyes on Glutton’s face and the tinier ones on its much smaller head glowed the same blue color like its insides. Two tendrils with large pincers sprouted out, one of them grabbing Sana’s waist. Nanu urgently called out her name despite his voice being drowned out by Glutton's roar.


    (By now Sana would’ve screamed for help and he and 100KR had their Pokémon fight off that creature. After the fight was over and Sana was long gone, he would see his partner pale and shake so it was up to him to snap him back to reality. Where was 100KR now?)

    As she was hung upside down like a lynched victim, she cracked a wicked smile. More static, Sana’s voice distorting.

    “—it’s already too late.”

    Glutton threw Sana into its mouth like a berry, and snapped its jaws straight through her midsection. Blood dripped onto Sana’s mouth and on the ground. It crunched on her several more times before swallowing her up.

    Nanu stood in frozen horror. His arms shook and he gritted his teeth. He snapped his head to his Persian and ordered her to attack with Power Gem. Persian hissed and the gem on her forehead lit up. She released a bright beam straight at Glutton’s mouth, only for it to swallow the assault and scratched its smaller head. The beast used one of its tendrils to yank Persian and crushed her with its pincers. Persian howled in pain and got tossed to a nearby tree before collapsing to the ground. Glutton roared and stomped, shaking the earth.

    After returning Persian, Nanu grabbed another pokeball from his belt, but Glutton swatted it from his hands and snatched his arm. Nanu struggled to wiggle out of the beast’s grip, and before he could scream Glutton closed its jaws shut and everything went red.


    Nanu’s arm slammed onto the coffee table the instant he jolted awake. He screamed in pain and cursed as he rubbed his arm. He glanced around to see he was inside the Aether House and that he slept on the couch. His breathing grew heavier with each second. The commotion caused Oranguru to stir from his sleep and growl in confusion. Acerola, Grimsley, Becky, and the kids rushed out of their rooms.

    “We heard both you and Headmaster screaming, is everything all right?” Becky asked, panic in her voice.

    “I just had a bad dream and I scared the Oranguru, that’s all.”

    “That must be a really bad dream if you woke up Headmaster like that,” Gracie said, frowning. Behind her, the Oranguru growled as if in agreement.

    This wasn’t the first time he had that nightmare. It would sprung up to him like a cat’s claws digging into his shoulders. Over ten years now, and it wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. He sighed, sat up straight, and rubbed his forehead.

    “Do you need a glass of water? You look kinda pale there,” Acerola asked.

    Nanu shook his head. “Not thirsty. I’m fine, really.”

    Both Becky and Acerola exchanged worried looks at one another.

    “We all should go back to sleep,” Becky said. “Let’s go.”

    Acerola and the kids followed Becky back to their rooms while Oranguru went back to the reception area. Grimsley, who had been raising his eyebrow at him the whole time, stayed behind.

    “Is there something that you needed?” Nanu asked, giving him a vacant stare.

    “Oh, I was just wondering something.” A hesitant look crossed Grimsley’s face. He shifted his gaze away from him and scratched his neck. “That nightmare you had, would it happen to be about that late colleague of yours?”

    Hearing that made Nanu grimace. He jerked his head and glared at him.

    “What I told you back at the desert was all you needed to know.”

    Grimsley shot him a funny look, and he sighed. “Fair enough. Well, I’ll be going to sleep now. Good night.” He waved goodbye at him and went inside his room.

    When left alone, Nanu collapsed back on the couch and stared up at the ceiling. Between that and how Grimsley wanted to have a Pokémon battle with him, he wondered why that man had a great interest in someone as messed up as him. He hoped that Grimsley didn’t plan to stick around too long now.

    His thoughts were interrupted when one of his pokéballs from the table burst open and Persian appeared. She approached him with an upset look on her face and growled. Nanu frowned.

    “Perry...” he said in a low voice. Usually he wasn’t one for nicknames and was content calling her Persian ninety-nine percent of the time. Perry, short for the periwinkle flower and what Iokua would often call her. Perry was saved for whenever he was his most vulnerable, like right now.

    Persian let out another sad growl, had her front paws on Nanu’s stomach, and nuzzled against his neck. Her silky fur was warm against his skin. Nanu couldn’t help but crack a smile and scratch her forehead.

    “Just another one of those nightmares buddy, don’t worry about me.”

    Nanu continued petting her a while longer until she decided to rest her head on his stomach. He smiled, fine with her company for tonight. He soon drifted off to sleep.

    xxx

    By morning, Grimsley woke up to see how Nanu was doing. In the living room he approached the couch the kahuna had slept on, but only a pillow and unmade blanket were left behind. He then went inside the dining room to see Acerola was eating while the kids playing were playing with their Pokemon. Becky and Nanu weren’t around.

    “You know where Nanu and Becky are at?” he asked Acerola.

    “Becky is taking care some of the Pokemon now and Nanu’s taking a walk outside. Want to join me for breakfast?”

    “Sure, since I’m here.” Grimsley took a plate of pancakes and sausages from the counter and joined Acerola at the table. While eating, he thought back to Nanu having a nightmare last night. He swallowed a piece of his sausage and put his fork down. “Say Acerola, did you know about Nanu having bad dreams?”

    After Acerola finished swallowing a piece of her pancake, she frowned and gazed down at her plate. “I’ve seen him been woken up by nightmares before, but he never wants to talk about it. Maybe that’s why he’s taking a walk now.”

    “How about him working for the international police? You know about that too?” Grimsley asked, and Acerola nodded.

    “I’ve overheard some people that knew him say that, and when I asked him he only told me he had retired. Are you worried about him, too?”

    That caused Grimsley to stop drinking his milk midway through and almost choke. He set the glass down and said, “Not exactly. Moreso bothered how he reacted last night.”

    “Oh, okay.” Acerola flashed him a grin. “He’s the type of person that likes to keep things to himself, so I got used to it!”

    Grimsley blinked, taken aback by Acerola’s expression there. As he continued eating his meal, his mind switched to when he asked Nanu to battle with him. The kahuna declined the offer, but Grimsley still desired to have one with him. He cleared his throat.

    “There’s one other thing I wonder. Do you know any way to convince Nanu to battle me?”

    Acerola’s face perked up, and she hummed in deep thought. “Why don’t you take up the island challenge?”

    “Aren’t I a little too old for that?” he asked with a furrowed brow. When Acerola realized his point, she frowned.

    “Oh, right. It would be silly for someone from an Elite Four to do it. Still, if you have a Z-crystal, perhaps Nanu will let you battle him!”

    Grimsley stared down at his plate while chewing the last few bites of his breakfast. He wondered if there were other ways to get a Z-crystal besides being in the trial challenge, but he wasn’t so sure how to go about that.

    “Perhaps he’ll change his mind once we get more acquainted with one another. That’s the only approach I can think of.” After wiping his mouth with his napkin, he leaned back on his chair with his arms behind his back. “For your trial, you need to take some pictures and then battle a large Mimikyu, correct?”

    “Yes. Mimikins’s a fierce one, but she’s also sweet and fun to play with like the one we have here!”

    Grimsley gave her a puzzled look. “You gave the totem Pokémon a name?”

    “Ah huh!I knew Mimikins long before I became a trial captain, and I thought it would be cute to give her one.”

    Grimsley blinked, and then he glanced over his shoulder to see Gracie laughing and twirling around with Yungoos while Mimikyu tried to keep up with their pace. He now imagined that Pikachu look-a-like being several times its size, and that made him shudder.

    “Can’t believe there’s a bigger version of that strange Pokémon,” Grimsley said, pointing at the Mimikyu. That earned him a giggle from Acerola.

    “Oh, can we do your trial?” Gracie asked excitedly as she and Hunter approached her. Their Pokemon followed them from behind.

    “Not yet as the totem Pokemon will be too strong for you guys. Also you can’t do trials until you’re eleven.”

    Both Gracie and Hunter groaned in disappointment and their shoulders slumped. Behind them, Yungoos and Elekid let out upset sounds too while Mimikyu jumped and screeched. With a grin, Acerola got out of her chair and squeezed the kids’ shoulders.

    “Tell you what, later today I’ll teach the both of you my Z-move!” she said, and the kids’ faces lit up. “I can even teach you too, Grimsley!”

    “Really?” Hunter asked. When Acerola reassured them that she would, both children cheered and bounced up.

    Grimsley smiled a little and crossed his arms against his chest, and thought it was sweet of her to do that. “I never tried Z-moves myself, perhaps I’ll take your offer on that.”

    “Hey, what’s with all that cheering?” someone asked in a stern voice. Grimsley turned his head to see Nanu stepping inside with a gray cat Pokémon beside him. The feline looked very similar to the white furred Persian he fought on occasion in the Pokémon League, but she had a much bigger head and a blue jewel on her forehead.

    “Acerola’s gonna teach us her Z-move later today!” Gracie said, pumping her fist in the air.

    “Huh, is that so?” Nanu looked down at the children and shrugged. “Guess it won’t hurt for them to learn those early.”

    “How’s your walk this morning, Uncle Nanu?” Acerola asked.

    “Eh, it was okay I guess. Persian wanted some fresh air, too.”

    The Persian let out a low growl and began walking. When she reached Grimsley and rubbed her head against his hip, he scratched her chin. Her fur was soft and silky, like Raz’s fur.

    “An Alolan Persian, hm? She’s very lovely.”

    Nanu gave him a blank stare, and then a small smile pulled on the corner of his lips. “She has been with me since I started my island challenge.”

    “I also have a cat Pokémon. My Liepard, Raz.” After Grimsley finished petting Persian, she walked back to her owner’s side. “I find it interesting we both raise dark type felines.”

    Immediately Nanu’s face went back to a flat expression. “Us being dark type trainers is probably the only thing we have in common.”

    “Of course, I don’t expect us to have many similar interests,” Grimsley said, frowning. So much for being acquainted with him. He looked up at the clock on the wall. While it was morning here, it would be mid to late afternoon already in Unova. “I’ll need to make a phone call now.”

    Before Grimsley left, Acerola let him know he could ask Headmaster the Oranguru for the tablet at the reception desk as Becky was busy at the moment. He thanked her for letting him know and did just that.

    xxx

    Grimsley went back inside his bedroom to use his tablet to call his mother. When he reached her, she was overjoyed to talk with him again. He mentioned everything that happened in his trip including meeting up with Colress, which shocked his mother. Back when they dated, she was very supportive of their relationship and even teased that they would get married someday. Thinking about that now left him drained.

    “Will you talk to him before you leave?” she asked. That made Grimsley clench his fist. Colress’s words before he left with the Ultra Recon Squad echoed back in his mind. He told her that he didn’t want to think about him right now; that left his mother confused, but she respected his wishes and didn’t pursue further. After that, he continued talking about his adventure through the desert with Nanu and Acerola and what happened in the Ruins of Abundance.

    “It’s not surprising that Kahuna Nanu rejected your request. You only just met him!”

    “I’m well aware of that. I’ll trying to get to know him better, but it might prove to be difficult.”

    His mother hummed in understanding. “From what you told me of him, he’s not very social. Give it time, and he might warm up to you.”

    “And if he doesn’t want to battle with me?”

    “Then don’t force him to. You already had him take you to the desert with a coin toss.”

    Grimsley tensed. She was right that he did force Nanu to take him to the Abundance of Ruins. Doing that same trick to get him to battle him wouldn’t work.

    “Don’t worry, that won’t happen.”

    “I hope so. Wouldn’t want you to get kicked out of the island for that!” She paused, then asked, “So, any plans you have for today?”

    “I might explore Ula’ula Island a bit more. I heard there’s a power plant and observatory here that might be interesting. And you?”

    “Well, I plan to go see your father soon since today is our anniversary.”

    “Really? I was so busy in Alola I totally forgot.”

    “Thought so. You have his ring with you at least, right?”

    Grimsley’s eyes widened. His father had given him his wedding ring before he died as a token to remember him by. Every year on the anniversary of his parents’ wedding, his mother would visit his grave and he would wear his ring. He believed he didn’t forgot to bring it with him on this trip, so he told her to wait a moment and checked his bag. After almost a minute, Grimsley found the ring and slipped it on his finger.

    “See, I have it with me!” he said with a grin, showing the ring on his finger to her.

    Minato’s face lit up and she clapped her hands. “Wonderful! Now keep it close with you at all times.”

    Grimsley rolled his eyes and sigh. “I haven’t lost it yet, so I think I’ll be fine.”

    “If you say so. I need to head out now, but it was great talking with you again!”

    Smiling a little, he gave a single nod. “Enjoy your upcoming visit with Dad. I’ll give you another call soon.”

    He hung up on her and gazed at his ring that gleamed with the morning sunlight. His father would be just as excited how he was doing on his trip if he were here today. Grimsley rose out of his seat and left the bedroom.

    xxx

    After Grimsley went back to the lobby and returned the tablet to the Oranguru, he went outside without letting anyone else know. There was a beach just down the slope, so he headed toward the shore. As he got closer he spotted Becky there with a Gorebyss and another pastel colored fish he never saw before. When the Aether employee noticed Grimsley, she beamed and waved at him.

    “Hey, Grimsley! Taking a walk too?”

    “You can say that. Just a lot on my mind now.” He shifted his head for a second. “I’m curious, how well do you know Kahuna Nanu?”

    Becky looked to be taken back by that question. “Er, I know he has a family and is both a policeman and kahuna here, but otherwise not much really.”

    “I see. Acerola told me he’s someone that keep things to himself.”

    “Yeah, I get that vibe from him, too. When he was outside earlier, he didn’t want to talk about his dream last night.” She shrugged, but then her face brightened back up. “Do you want to help me feed the water Pokémon?”

    Grimsley responded that he would be delighted. Becky handed him a bag of shrimp and he approached the Pokemon. Both the Gorebyss and the other fish Pokémon swam up to him and raised their heads, waiting for their meal. He fed them the shrimp and watched as the Pokemon chew on their food in satisfaction. A large wave crashed onto the shore, almost reaching up to Grimsley’s shoes.

    “This is another interesting looking Pokémon here,” Grimsley said when the pastel colored fish rubbed its rough skin against his hand. He spotted several cuts on its body that looked to be healed.

    “That’s a Bruxish, and she has strong psychic powers and an even stronger jaw! I found her and Gorebyss injured, so me and a few scientists here helped them recover.”

    Grimsley let out a low hum, already figured Becky would do that. After he finished feeding them, he picked himself back up. The two fish Pokémon began to swim, not straying too far from the shore. He faced back at Becky.

    “You seemed very passionate with your work. How did you end up in the Aether Foundation?”

    “I always wanted to do something like this, so a friend of mine referred me to one of the higher ups. I first worked in one of their stations in Akala Island, but then I transferred here.”

    “I bet it isn’t easy protecting all the Pokemon from harm,” Grimsley said, and Becky shook her head.

    “No it’s not, and there are occasions where we were too late saving them.” As soon as she finished saying that, the Bruxish and Gorbyss reached to her and she patted them. “We saved more Pokémon than losing them, however, so it all works out!”

    “I see. Well, that’s good to hear.”

    After swimming near the shore a while longer, the fish Pokémon finally moved further into the ocean and dived down. Grimsley gazed at Becky to see her wave at them goodbye. The late morning sunlight bathed her face like a spotlight on stage.

    “Alola, Bruxish and Gorebyss! Come back anytime!”

    Grimsley stared at the ocean a brief moment before a cawing noise caught his attention. He glanced around to see three Murkrow on top of a palm tree squawking and flapping their wings. They stopped and gave him keen stares. A cold sensation crawled through the back of his neck.

    “That’s a nice ring you have there,” Becky asked, and that caused Grimsley to whirl his head at her. He gazed down at the ring on his finger and gave a sad smile.

    “It’s my late father’s, and I wear it on special occasions. Today was supposed to be my parents’ anniversary.”

    Becky’s eyes grew wide, and her gaze fell on the sand. “Sounds like you got along with your parents. I haven’t spoken to mine after…”

    “After what?” Grimsley asked, quirking an eyebrow.

    “Let’s just say they weren’t happy that I only wanted to date women.”

    So Becky was unfortunate to have close-minded parents, Grimsley mused. Frowning slightly, he felt sorry for her.

    “I told Nanu this already, but you remember the scientist Colress from a few days ago? We actually dated for sometime, but went through an unpleasant breakup.” It felt weird saying that to her after his conversation with his mother, but he felt it would comfort her that he too prefer someone of the same gender.

    Realization hit Becky’s face, and she nodded. “I totally get that, must be tense meeting with your ex.” She rubbed the back of her head and let out a sheepish laugh. “I’m sorry, didn’t mean to let out my sad story like that.”

    “Seems you did well on your own in the end, you should be proud. Also, if you ever want to talk about relationships and such, let me know.”

    A shocked gasp left Becky’s throat. She relaxed and said, “Thanks, that means a lot.”

    Grimsley smiled back, touched by her response. He remembered how he comforted the boy he had battled in the Battle Buffet back in Melemele Island, and he did the same to Becky. Sometimes he would say kind words to trainers that went through the Pokémon League, but he couldn’t recall the last time he did that in a genuine manner.

    In that instant, the Murkrow’s caws grew louder and Grimsley’s expression changed. Becky screamed for him to watch out, but the birds were already pecking at him. Gritting his teeth, he pulled out two pokéballs from the knot around his waist and released them. Raz and Roulette, his Liepard and Absol respectively, gave out determined glares and readied themselves.

    “The both of you, get these pesky birds out of the way!”

    The two dark types sprang into action. Raz jumped up as her tail shined into a white light, and she used it to hit one of the Murkrow on the face. Roulette meanwhile waited until the scythe on her forehead glowed purple and slashed the other two Murkrow. All three birds cried in pain and flew away. Grimsley sighed in relief, Raz and Roulette approaching by his side.

    “Are you all right?” Becky asked with a worried face. Grimsley noticed the ring on his finger was missing and his throat went dry.

    “I’m fine, but the birds got my father’s ring.” He looked down to see his Liepard and Absol giving him sad gazes, as if they recognized what had happened.

    “Maybe Kahuna Nanu and Acerola would know where the Murkrow went. Let’s go talk to them now.”

    Grimsley grunted in agreement and nodded. He returned his Pokémon back in their pokéballs, then he and Becky rushed back to the Aether House.

    Once they made it there, both Acerola and Nanu were in the lobby. Acerola was teaching the children some sort of dance move while Nanu sat on the couch and watched with his Persian curled up on the floor sleeping. Grimsley assumed it must be the Z-moves he and the girl talked about before.

    “There you two are!” Acerola said cheerfully when she saw them. “I was teaching the kids my Z-move!”

    “You wanna see?” Gracie asked. She and Hunter kneeled down, moved their bodies like a floating ghost, and had their arms forward as if they were about to grab them. Grimsley blinked in confusion while Becky beamed and chuckled.

    “Woah, you guys scared me there!” she said, and both children grinned in satisfaction.

    “Thanks!” Hunter said. “We still gotta practice more, though.”

    “You kids are still very young, so there’s no rush to get it perfect,” Nanu said. “It took me some days until I was able to get my own Z-move right.”

    “Oh, can you teach us your Z-move, too?” Hunter asked. Both he and Gracie gave hopeful expressions, but already Nanu shook his head and raised his arm.

    “Black Hole Eclipse is too advanced for you kids! I would wait at least another year or so before attempting it.”

    “Uncle Nanu’s right,” Acerola said when Hunter and Gracie pouted at his response. “I tried that Z-move during my island challenge and I almost got caught in that black hole! Don’t worry, it won’t be long until you guys can use it!”

    Grimsley’s face perked at the mention of Black Hole Eclipse. He was very interested in learning that Z-move, but knew Nanu wouldn’t let him if he didn’t want to battle him. He pushed that thought off for now and cleared his throat.

    “Do any of you happen to have lost something to the Murkrow here?”

    Nanu quirked an eyebrow at him. “Not really, but I have a Honchrow that sometimes bring back a shiny bottlecap or the like. Did that happen to you?”

    “A few Murkrow got his ring while we were outside,” Becky said. “We’re wondering if either of you would know where they went.”

    Tapping her chin, Acerola looked up at the ceiling deep in thought. “Actually, I do see Murkrow hang out at the Thrifty Megamart sometimes.”

    “The same one we visited a couple days ago?” Grimsley asked, and she nodded.

    “Ah huh! I often go there to do some preparations and see that Mimikins’s doing okay.”

    Immediately Grimsley’s face twisted into a disgusted look. She did talk about a large Mimikyu earlier this morning and he hadn’t like the sound of that. “So there’s a chance I might run into that Pokémon.”

    “Maybe, but as long as you don’t disturb her you should be good. I can come to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

    An impish grin pulled on the corners of Nanu’s mouth. “You scared of some Mimikyu coming behind you?”

    “No!” Grimsley said defensively. He crossed his arms and looked away for a second. “I rather not deal with it, that’s all.”

    “Well in either case that’s where we should go,” Becky said. “Acerola coming with us will be a big help.”

    “Does this mean the kahuna man will watch us while you’re away?” Hunter asked, and Nanu’s eyes went wide.

    “Ah huh!” Acerola said with an enthusiastic nod. She looked up at Nanu. “You’ll take good care of them, right?”

    An annoyed look crossed Nanu’s face, but then he sighed. “Seems I have no choice.”

    “Okay, great!” Acerola cheered and clapped her hands.

    Besides dealing with the Murkrow once more and the possibility of meeting an overgrown Mimikyu, Grimsley would be reminded of his meeting with Colress a few days ago. The thought of going back there made his skin crawl.

    Acerola told everyone that they would be back in a few hours and he followed her and Becky outside. He hoped that they would be able to find the ring there.

    Xxx

    Becky took Grimsley and Acerola to the Thrifty Megamart once more. As soon as everyone got out of the jeep, he tensed upon seeing the ruined building once more. It was already in such a poor state outside, so inside would be even much worse.

    This was where he talked with Colress not that long ago. To think he would cross paths with him in this very region. His hands grew clammy as he tried to push that thought away.

    “I found them!” Acerola shouted, and he and Becky turned to see the three Murkrow fairly close to the entrance. When the birds spotted them, they cawed angrily at them and flew inside one of the cracked windows above.

    A lump formed inside Grimsley’s throat. “Do we have to go in?”

    “We do if we want to get your ring back,” Acerola said with a grin, her hands behind her back. Becky gave him a funny look.

    Grimsley stared at them and sighed in irritation. “Fine, let’s get this over with.”

    He, Becky, and Acerola stepped inside, and it was as bad as he imagined. Several boxes and carts, some of them with toys, were left behind. Torn flyers and shattered glass scattered all over the floor. As they slowly made their way through the store, dusty shelves sometimes would block their path and it was fairly dark to see.

    “Man oh man, can’t believe you have this sad place for your trial site,” Grimsley said when they squeezed themselves through another few shelves.

    “This is my first time coming in here,” Becky said as she glanced around. “When I was younger my friends and I would hear stories of real ghosts living here. I thought it was just the older folks scaring us.”

    “There’s some truth to it, though,” Acerola said, cracking a smile. “Some of the ghost Pokémon are thought to be souls from humans that passed on. But don’t worry, the ones used for the trial won’t hurt you!”

    Grimsley’s lips twitched as he listened in on their conversation. In Johto there was a lot of respect for the souls of the deceased and heavy warnings to not disturb their graves. The night after his father had passed away, his mother set aside his picture and incense on the corner of the living room and whispered a prayer for the legendary Ho-Oh to carry his soul to a better place. He looked down to see no ring on his finger and his frown deepened.

    They continued to move a few more minutes. When a loud crash was heard, everyone stopped and saw carts and boxes being thrown in the air. Grimsley and Becky flinched while Acerola pouted.

    “All right you guys, that’s enough!”

    Upon being screamed at, a Shuppet and a Haunter appeared. Both Pokémon glared at one another.

    “You know those two?” Grimsley asked, blinking in confusion.

    “Yeah. They don’t get along all that well and I often have to stop them from fighti--ahhh!”

    Before Acerola could finish, she dodged an incoming box being thrown at her direction and the ghost Pokémon resumed throwing objects like catapults.

    “Um, do you want me to help you calm them down?” Becky asked.

    Acerola let out a deep breath and nodded. “That would be appreciated! Grimsley, you go find the Murkrow while Becky and I deal with those ghosts.”

    Grimsley made an acknowledging grunt, and left Acerola and Becky to confront the ghosts. While moving he could hear Acerola arguing with Shuppet and Haunter from behind, but he didn’t pay particular attention as to why that fight had occured. Eventually he stopped when he saw a room and stepped inside.

    He found himself to be inside what would be the store’s backroom. It was mostly bleak and empty except for the several pictures and drawings of Pikachu on the walls. Several caw sounds were made, and Grimsley whirled around to see the three Murkrow near a pile of trinkets. One of the birds held a golden ring on its beak while the other two fought over a bracelet. He needed to approach them with caution, so Grimsley took a couple steps forward and waved at them.

    “Hello, there! It seems that you have stole something very important to me.”

    The two Murkrow that were fighting earlier stopped and dropped the bracelet. The other Murkrow still had the ring on its beak. All three birds titled their heads and stared blankly at him. Grimsley gave them an icy glare.

    “I know you guys love shiny things, but that ring isn’t yours to keep. If you would return it back to me, that would be appreciated.”

    After a few seconds had passed, the Murkrow cawed in laughter and flapped their wings. With a scowl, Grimsley stepped forward and pointed his finger at the birds.

    “Now listen here you little thieves! Either you return my ring right now or I’ll have my Pokemon hurt you once more!”

    While he spoke, the Murkrow glared and looked as if they weren’t going to listen to him. Shortly after, their expressions changed to panic and launched themselves in the air, flying towards the door’s exit. Grimsley blinked in confusion but noticed his ring had been left behind. He picked it up and put it on his finger.

    “Looks like my threat worked,” Grimsley said with a proud grin. He felt a tap on his shoulder, and when he whirled around he froze.

    In front of him was a large sized Mimikyu. It--no, “she” Grimsley remembered Acerola referring her as--made sharp hisses and wobbled like an inflated balloon. Two shadowy claws lashed out from underneath her rag, ready to strike. So it wasn’t him but the Pokemon that scared the birds away. Grimsley’s chest tightened in shock.

    “You’re Mimikins, right? Acerola has told me a lot about you.”

    Mimikins tilted her head and stared at Grimsley for a moment, and nodded.

    “I apologize for intruding here, but a few pesky Murkrow stole my ring and I came to get it back. It won’t happen again.”

    Mimikins continued to sway back and forth. When she hissed once more, Grimsley shot her a baffled look.

    “What is that? I don’t understand.”

    Seemed to take offense by that response, Mimikins screeched and made several slashing movements with her claws. Grimsley blinked, but he had an idea what she requested now.

    “You want me to battle you?” Already Grimsley shook his head. “I would have to decline. I’m only here to get my ring back, that’s all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be on my way.”

    He took a few steps forward, only for Mimikins to skid in front of him and jeered. That made him flinch for a second. More hissing noises came out from her.

    While staring at the totem Pokémon, Grimsley bit his lower lip. Mimikins seemed very insistent in wanting to fight with him. He wondered how the young trainers had fared going against this monstrosity; she could be a good challenge.

    “A Pokémon like that taking a gamble on me? Fine, I’ll play along!”

    Grimsley pulled out a pokéball and released his Liepard. Upon seeing Mimikins, Raz tensed and growled.

    “Don’t let that Pikachu wannabe fool you, Raz! Shadow Ball, now!”

    Raz shook off her anxiety, giving out a confident scream. A crimson ball was formed in front of her, and she tossed it at her opponent. The attack hit Mimikins’ chest, but she didn’t flinch and her head tilted slightly as if her neck was broken. Both Grimsley and Raz looked on in confusion.

    As soon as the Mimikyu whipped out a shadowy claw towards Raz, Grimsley told her to watch out. The cat Pokémon was able to avoid a few instances of that, but Mimikins eventually grabbed her leg and slammed her at a nearby shelf. Raz growled in pain and picked herself up slowly, but otherwise she was fine.

    “That Mimikyu’s stronger than I anticipated,” Grimsley said, taken aback by that Pokemon’s strength. A realization occurred to him, and he grinned. “Use that to your advantage with Foul Play!”

    Raz turned her face at her trainer and nodded. Mimikins threw her claw at her once more, but she dodged and grabbed her opponent with her jaws and front legs. She flipped the Mimikyu in the air, causing her to hit the ceiling and crash on the floor. Proud of what she had done, Raz held her chin high.

    A few seconds passed until Mimikins picked herself up. She let out an urgent growl, as if calling for someone. Sure enough, a Banette popped up from thin air and cackled, which caught Grimsley off guard.

    Both ghost Pokémon already let loose their assaults. Mimikins lashed out her claws at Raz, scratching her several times. Banette meanwhile vanished through the floor for a moment and then became visible and punched Raz on the face. Grimsley narrowed his eyes at the opposing Pokémon.

    “Well that’s a bit unfair. In that case, I’ll bring in another Pokémon, too!”

    Grimsley took out Roulette’s pokéball and released her. After shaking her fur, the Absol turned around and shot Mimikins and Banette a sharp look.

    He ordered for Raz to focus on Mimikins while Roulette take care of Banette. Mimikins approached Raz and about to use her wooden tail at her, but the feline was able to block the hit with her own shining tail that then caused them to back away.

    While that happened, the Banette released several white flames at Roulette, only for her to wave her scythe and set up a rainbow forcefield around her. The Will-O-Wisp bounced off from Roulette’s Magic Coat and hit back at the Banette, burning it in the process. The Banette screeched as small flames began to lick all over its body.

    “Great! Iron Tail once more, Raz. Roulette, Night Slash go!”

    Before Raz made her move, she readied a pouncing stance and licked her mouth. Her tail glowed and she slammed Mimikins on the face. The Pikachu look-a-like hissed and retaliated by crossing her claws, which lit up a faint green color, and sliced her like a gullentione. Raz gritted her teeth and her legs shook, two deep cuts visible on her body.

    Roulette’s scythe turned purple and she slashed at the Banette, leaving a large cut on its body. The marionette winced and its eyes and body glowed. It fired a series of crimson rings at Roulette, and when she got caught in that her eyes grew wide. The Absol kept shaking her head and growled aggressively, as if seeing a disturbing scene in front of her. The Banette held its belly and laughed, then stopped when it got burned once more.

    “Whatever you’re seeing isn’t real!” Grimsley yelled out to Roulette. He knew that was Night Shade as he had seen Shuantal used it on her opponents on occasion. Not as deadly as the move Nightmare, but still a concern for him if not handled quickly. “Shake it off and fight back!”

    Upon hearing her trainer’s voice, Roulette stopped thrashing around and barked. She leapt onto her opponent and sunk her jaws onto its stomach. The Banette screamed and struggled to get out from her grip. A moment later, Roulette tossed her opponent like a yarn ball and the Banette collided onto a cart. The ghost Pokémon was about to prepare a small Shadow Ball between its hands, only for the flames finally taking a toll on its body. It dived and sunk through the floor, disappeared just like that.

    Roulette’s expression switched from grinning in satisfaction to horror when she turned around and noticed Raz visibly tired from her fight with Mimikins. The Absol howled, rammed onto the Mimikyu with great speed, so fast she almost became a blur, and left a large gash on her disguise. Just as Roulette approached Raz’s side, Mimikins screeched and dark vapors poured from her. She swung her tail at them and they flew in the air and crashed on the floor; the force of that attack caused her to recoil and scream in pain. While seeing all of this, Grimsley’s eyes grew wide.

    Both of his Pokemon slowly picked themselves up, breathing heavily and their legs trembling. Mimikins didn’t wait for them to recover as she went and jumped in the air, and that caused Grimsley to yell at them to get out of the way. Roulette was able to leap out of the way while Raz struggled to move and got pounced by Mimikins. Thick white smoke exploded and obscured Grimsley’s vision, Raz’s growls tugging at his chest. When the smoke faded, Raz collapsed and lied on the ground.

    “Raz!” Grimsley rushed to Raz’s side and let her head rest on his lap. Beside him, Roulette looked down and whined. “You deserve a good rest,” he said with a sad smile and returned her into her pokéball.

    Mimikins hissed and waved her claws around, more dark mist surrounding her body. Grimsley’s face tensed and he faced Roulette.

    “All right, it’s all up to you now. Think you can handle it?”

    Already Roulette gave him a determined look and barked. A pleased smile touched Grimsley’s lips.

    “Good, now go and grab that ragdoll like you did with that Banette!”

    Mimikins stretched her claws out and tried to grab Roulette, but she was able to dodge her assaults and leaped on top of her. She sank her teeth onto the Mimikyu’s head, causing her to screech and trash around. Roulette hung onto Mimikins, like a trainer on a Rapidash, until she grabbed her with her claws and threw her away.

    As soon as Roulette got herself back up, Mimikins’ claws lit up a green color and she made a large gash on her side that caused the Absol to howl in pain. She countered by having her scythe lit up and left another deep cut onto Mimikins’ rags. The Mimikyu hissed and backed away.

    Roulette snarled and followed up by having one of her paws be surrounded by dark vapors and slashed Mimikins with her claws, tearing another piece of the ghost type’s clothing. Mimikins screamed and lashed her own claw onto Roulette, only for the Absol to block the attack with her own. After a short struggle with them pushing their claws at one another, Mimikins let go and smacked Roulette’s face with her tail. Roulette yelped and took deep breaths, as a large bruise appeared where she was hit. Like last time, the Mimikyu recoiled and cried in distress. Realizing the totem Pokémon was close to collapsing, Grimsley grinned and stretched out his arm dramatically.

    “Finish this right now!”

    His Pokémon barked and rushed at Mimikins with a high burst of speed. She slammed onto the Mimikyu, her scythe going through Mimikins’ clothing. Mimikins gave out strangled noises and crashed on the floor. When her opponent didn’t get up, Roulette winced but grinned and held her chin high. Grimsley wiped his forehead and sighed in relief.

    “You and Raz are marvelous,” he told his Pokémon, scratching her chin. Roulette gave a joyful bark and rubbed her cheek against his hand.

    After he finished petting her, Grimsley noticed that Mimikins wasn’t in the room anymore. He assumed she vanished like any other ghost Pokémon, so he grunted and mentioned to Roulette that he would heal her and Raz back in Aether House. He returned Roulette in her pokéball and left the room.

    Still inside the abandoned supermarket, Grimsley had tried to find Becky and Acerola the last few minutes. Fortunately they caught him first near the store’s exit.

    “There you are!” Acerola yelled as she and Becky rushed at him. “After dealing with the ghost Pokémon, we tried to find you.”

    “Well I managed to find the Murkrow and got my ring back. After that, I stumbled upon Mimikins and she wanted me to battle her.”

    Acerola’s mouth dropped and her hand close to her face. “Really? Oh dear, I could’ve prevented that from happening!”

    “You’re right that she’s a tough foe, but the battle was a good experience as to how your region’s trials work. Now that I have my ring back, it’s time that we leave this wretched pl--”

    Before Grimsley could finish, he screamed when Mimikins reappeared behind the ladies. Becky jumped while Acerola giggled.

    “Hi, Mimikins!” Acerola greeted, waving at her. “How are you doing?”

    Mimikins made clicking noises while swinging back and forth. Acerola grinned and nodded.

    “Oh, you mean Grimsley? He just told me you two had a battle!”

    Grimsley shot Acerola a funny look. “You can understand what she’s saying?”

    Acerola nodded. “I can talk to ghost Pokemon since I was little. My father and many of my ancestors were able to also.”

    “Really? Huh, sounds like the royal family is more interesting than I anticipated.”

    “Acerola talks about Mimikins a lot, but this is the first time I’m seeing her myself,” Becky said.

    Mimikins continued to sway back and forth. When she hissed once more, Acerola listened what she was saying and she gasped.

    “Mimikins wants to give you something before you leave.”

    Before he could respond, Mimikins approached him and dropped a small crystal on his palm. He and Becky shared baffled looks.

    “Is this a Z-crystal?”

    Acerola beamed and nodded. “A Ghostium-Z to be specific!”

    With a small frown, Grimsley shook his head. “I can’t have this. I’m not taking part in the island challenge.”

    Mimikins spoke again, and he waited until Acerola translated it for him.

    “Mimikins says you’re a nice change from the kids she has battled, and wants to give it to you as a thanks!”

    Like how gym leaders would give badges to the winning trainers taking the Pokémon League, Grimsley believed the Z-crystal should be given to the trainers participating in the island challenge. On the other hand, this was a good opportunity to try out Z-moves and perhaps have Nanu take him seriously and battle him. He would keep it for now, maybe give it to Shauntal as a souvenir like he promised her. He gave Acerola a firm nod.

    “All right, I’ll accept this,” he said, and that made Acerola cheer. Grimsley slipped the crystal inside his kimono. “Since I have a Z-crystal, you think this will convince Nanu to battle me?”

    “Maybe! We should go show it to him right now!” Acerola faced Mimikins and patted her. “My friends and I have to leave now, but I’ll come back to see you soon!”

    Mimikins sounded upset at first, but then she nuzzled herself against Acerola, causing her to giggle.

    “Congratulations on getting it!” Becky said to Grimsley, grinning. He smiled back.

    The large Mimikyu waved goodbye to everyone with her shadowy claw. Everyone did the same to her, and they left the store.

    Outside the sunlight hit Grimsley’s eyes and face, but he was grateful for that after being stuck inside for a while. As they headed back to the jeep, he thought about those posters in the backroom and it bothered him once more.

    “Say Acerola, do you know anything about Mimikins having posters of Pikachu?”

    Both Becky and Acerola stopped and they gave him odd looks.

    “Huh? What you mean?” Acerola asked.

    “The ones in the backdoor. There were many posters of that Pokémon on the wall.”

    “That’s not possible, because there isn’t another room on the back of the store!” Acerola beamed at Grimsley, her hands on her hips. “For a dark type trainer, you’ve to come up with something better than that!”

    “Maybe one of the ghost Pokémon created that backdoor,” Becky said, though she didn’t sound too sure herself.

    “I know there are Pokémon that could pull off small illusions, but a whole room sounds a bit of a stretch,” Acerola said. Right after, she shivered. “Brrr, I feel like I’m getting chicken skin. Let’s hurry up to the jeep and get back home!”

    Acerola walked a few steps ahead of them with he and Becky followed suit. Grimsley gave the building one last look and winced. The sooner they leave, the better.

    xxx

    (LAST PART OF THIS CHAPTER NEXT POST)
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  11. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    (CONTINUED FROM LAST POST)

    As he got older Nanu hated babysitting more and more. He didn’t mind watching over Acerola when she was younger, annoying as she was, but any other children and his head would explode. And this afternoon he was stuck watching over the two Aether House rascals.

    “Can we play with your cat?” Gracie asked. She leaned closer toward Nanu, who was sitting on the couch.

    “For the fourth time, no.” Nanu rested his elbow on the armchair, his palm pressing his cheek. Persian was curled up on the floor and glanced up for a second. “Now let me and Persian get back to our naps.”

    “I’ll only just pet her a little bit!” Hunter said. Before Nanu could respond, the boy dropped on his knees and cupped Persian’s cheeks. Gracie too approached her by giving her a tight hug. The feline growled uncomfortably.

    “Hey, stop that!” Nanu already got up and pulled his Pokemon away from the children. Persian glared at them. “How many times did I have to tell you? Her head is not a toy!”

    “Aw, but her fur is soft and face is fluffy!” Gracie said. Behind her, Hunter nodded in agreement.

    “You kids already have Pokemon you’re taking care of. You should know better than to do that to ones not your own.”

    Both children hung their heads and their shoulders slumped. Hunter then said, “Fine we won’t do it again.”

    “Good. Now go play somewhere else. Maybe the Oranguru there would like some company.”

    “You mean Headmaster? Okay!” Gracie said, and then she and Hunter ran off to the Oranguru at the receptionist desk.

    Nanu sighed and rubbed his temple. He sat back down and watched as the Oranguru drummed his chest and lifted the children up onto his shoulder, much to their delight. Someone then stepped inside, and Nanu shifted his head to see Professor Kukui approaching him.

    “Hey, Nanu!” Kukui said with a grin and waved at him. When he saw Nanu with the children, his eyes went wide. “Oh, did I interrupt anything?”

    “Nah you didn’t. I’m just babysitting these rascals right now,” Nanu said, scratching the back of his head.

    Gracie and Hunter noticed Kukui here, so they jumped off the Oranguru’s shoulders and hurried toward the two men.

    “Alola!” both Gracie and Hunter cheered. They moved their arms like a rainbow sign.

    “Alola to you, too!” Kukui said and greeted the same way. “I’m Professor Kukui, a researcher from Melemele Island. And who you guys might be?”

    “I’m Hunter, and she’s Gracie!” Hunter said. “We both want to become trainers and take on the island challenge when we get older!”

    Kukui chuckled. “That’s a tough but awesome goal to strive for. I wish you the best of luck!” He dropped halfway to his knees to be at their level. “I take it you two live here?”

    Both children nodded, then Gracie said, “Aether House is our home!”

    Kukui glanced around for a second and whistled. “This is some fancy living space you got here, yeah! The Aether Foundation sure went all out.”

    Nanu rolled his eyes and stared at the ceiling. “Went all out” was an understatement. This building, the employees, the headquarters, and even the Ultra Squad he encountered a few days ago. Everything about the Aether Foundation was too white, too bright, too pristine. Maybe it was the dark-type trainer side of him talking, but he didn’t like that at all.

    There was a loud beastly grunt, and Nanu turned around to see the Oranguru pointing to one of the rooms. Terrified looks struck the children’s faces.

    “Ah oh, looks like Headmaster wants us to clean our room now,” Hunter said. He faced back to Kukui and beamed. “Nice talking to you, though!”

    “Same here, cousin!” Kukui said, grinning. “We can talk more next time if you like!”

    The children cheerfully said goodbye to Kukui and rushed to their room. Kukui let out a blissful sigh and sat down on another couch across from Nanu.

    “They seem like sweet children, yeah?”

    Nanu snorted and shook his head. “You think so? Earlier they tried to play with Persian’s head and that made her angry.”

    His Persian growled in disgust, as if responding, “Yes, that had happened.” Kukui chuckled.

    “Hopefully they learned to not do that next time.”

    “Same here.” Nanu then asked, “What brings you here to this miserable place?”

    “Well, first, there is construction going on over in Mount Lanakila because of the new Pokémon League being formed.”

    “The Pokémon League, you mean with the gym leaders and Elite Four?” Nanu asked, and Kukui nodded.

    “Like that, but without the gym leaders. The island challenge will still be here, and the League will be similar to our region’s kahuna gauntlet that was usually the final test.” Kukui leaned back against the couch, his grin widening. “I’m rounding out our strongest trainers for the Elite Four, and so far Molyne and Olivia agreed to it! Our former Island Champion Kahili is coming here to help too, woo!”

    “How about Hala? Did you ask him?”

    “I did, but he declined also. He didn’t want to get too distracted from his kahuna duties.”

    Nanu gave him a long stare. “Let me guess, you’re gonna ask me if I want to join as an Elite Four. If so, then I’ll have to reject your offer.”

    “Oh, but why?” Kukui asked, his eyes blinking in confusion.

    As he rose out from the couch, Nanu crossed his arms and squeezed his eyes shut. “I had no choice in the matter when I was chosen as the kahuna of this island, so I’m not gonna let you force me into more responsibilities I’m not interested in.”

    Kukui regard him in silence, then he offered him a supportive smile. “Well, it’s awesome that you were honest with me there. No need to worry, yeah! However, if you can think of someone who should take your place as the Elite Four, then let me know, all right?”

    “Sure, I’ll let you know if I think of someone,” Nanu said, his lips twitching. Even if he wasn’t interested in those high profile trainers, he would still choose one carefully. “Speaking of the Elite Four, not sure if you’ve heard but we have one visiting now.”

    Kukui’s face lit up. “Yeah? And who might that be?”

    “Grimsley from Unova’s Elite Four. I recently gave him a tour to the Ruins of Abundance, and he wants me to battle him.”

    “Really?” Kukui grinned and chuckled. “He’s a dark type trainer like you, yeah? Perhaps battling him will be a good Power Trip experience!”

    Nanu cringed at that move pun and grunted. “I initially declined, but something tells me he’ll keep persisting. We’ll see if I later change my mind.”

    “Hey everyone, we’re baaack!” Acerola yelled out all of a sudden. She, Becky, and Grimsley entered the lobby.

    “Oh good, you guys are back,” Nanu said in a bored voice. “Professor Kukui’s here now.”

    “Alola, Professor!” Becky said. “I’m Becky, one of the employees here.”

    “That’s great!” Kukui said, smiling. “Well nice to meet you, cousin!”

    “Professor Kukui?” Acerola looked toward where Professor Kukui was and gasped. “Oh my gosh, long time no see!”

    “Indeed it has, Acerola!” Kukui flashed her a wide grin. “You’re as bright as always, like a Dazzling Gleam!”

    “Why thank you! I always try to keep a positive attitude, especially with me being a trial captain.” Acerola glanced around and asked, “Huh, where are Gracie and Hunter?”

    “The Oranguru wanted them to clean their room,” Nanu said and shrugged. “Guess the kids respected him enough to do just that.”

    “Yes, they love Headmaster very much,” Becky said. “I’ll go and check on them now.”

    As soon as Becky left, Kukui rose out from his seat and approached Grimsley. He smiled and pulled out his hand in front of him.

    “And you must be Grimsley, Unova’s Elite Four! Welcome to Alola, cousin!”

    “An Alola to you, too,” Grimsley said and shook Kukui’s hand. “So you’re a Pokemon Professor, hm? What’s your main study?”

    Kukui’s grin grew larger. “I specialize in Pokémon moves! Nothing gets my blood pumping more than two Pokemon battling all out, woo!”

    “Pokémon moves? My, that sounds fascinating,” Grimsley said, sounding interested.

    After waiting for them to finish introducing themselves, Nanu asked Grimsley, “So did you managed to get your ring back?”

    “Yes, I have. I didn’t have to fight against the Murkrow again for it, but the totem Mimikyu didn’t want me to leave, and so I battled her.”

    “He did!” Acerola said and nodded. “After the battle, Mimikins gave him a Ghostium-Z as thanks!”

    Nanu raised his brow, his face pulling in a shocked expression. “Hold up, that Mimikyu gave you a Z-crystal?”

    Grimsley seemed hesitant at first as he glanced at Acerola, who beamed and gave him a thumbs up. He showed Nanu on his palm a small dark purple crystal that gleamed like a star. The corner of Nanu’s lips twitched and he placed his hands on his sides. Kukui approached behind him and whistled.

    “Well, I’ll be!” Kukui said. “It’s not often a Pokemon gives you a Z-crystal. Doesn’t the Kommo-o totem often give them out?”

    “He does, but not as often as you think. Even when using a Ride Pokémon, it’s still a pain to get there.” Due to the trial in Vast Poni Canyon not having a captain, Nanu was the one to make sure the trial goers didn’t get eaten by the totem Pokémon or anything else that might go wrong. At least he didn’t have to make the trip to Poni Island all that much.

    “Since Grimsley has a Z-crystal now, perhaps that’ll convince you to battle him!” Acerola said with a grin, and that made Nanu’s eyes grow wide.

    “What?” he asked, an edge in his voice, and glared at Grimsley. “So all of that was a ploy to battle me?”

    Both Kukui and Acerola flinched upon witnessing that reaction. Grimsley didn’t tense, but a frown did tug at his lips and forehead.

    “I did admit to wondering about a way to battle you, but going to the Thrifty Megamart wasn’t my initial plan. I genuinely just wanted to get my ring back.”

    Nanu continued to furrow his brow at him. A part of him wanted to yell at him to get off the island and never come back, but for some reason he didn’t have the heart to do that. He dragged out a deep sigh.

    “I’m still not going to battle you, but you can keep that Z-crystal. That can be a souvenir at least.”

    “Right, that is fair.” Grimsley’s voice was firm, only for him to lower his head and broke eye contact from him. Nanu already expected him to be a little disappointed there.

    Acerola made a disapproved hum, but then she faced Kukui and smiled. “Oh, I wanted to ask Professor, how’s the forming of the Pokémon League going?”

    “It’s going great, yeah! Right now I’m recruiting some folks to be the Elite Four, but Nanu here declined the offer.”

    Acerola gasped and she turned toward Nanu. “Really? But why?”

    “This was before you guys came here, but I told Kukui that I couldn’t refuse Tapu Bulu choosing me as kahuna. And I’ll be darned if I’m forced into the Elite Four in because some guy asked me to.”

    A disappointed look crossed Acerola’s features. “Aw, that’s too bad. I think you would’ve been a great Elite Four!”

    Nanu’s face twisted into a grimace. That girl was always over optimistic, bless the tapus.

    “Wait, you’re the one establishing this region’s Pokémon League?” Grimsley asked Kukui.

    “That’s right! I want to show the world Alolan trainers are just as great as trainers from other regions, and thought a Pokémon League is a perfect opportunity to do so. In fact, since you’re from the Elite Four, I was wondering if you’re up with giving me and the Elite Four a few pointers on what it’s like to be in the League.”

    Grimsley pressed his lips and scratched his chin, looking to take his request seriously. Shortly after, he gave Kukui a small smile. “I see no harm in doing that. All right, I’ll do it.”

    “Awesome! If you like I can show you the construction site at Mount Lanakila and introduce you to my chosen trainers.”

    “I would like that, thank you,” Grimsley said with a nod.

    Nanu folded his arms against his chest and watched their exchange. When they finished, he gazed down at Persian and scratched her cheek.

    “Well, I think it’s about time I head back to Po Town. The Meowth there probably finished eating the food I left them and are waiting for me.”

    Both Kukui and Acerola reacted normally while Grimsley gave Nanu a blank stare. His reaction there also didn’t surprise him.

    “Oh, okay!” Acerola said, beaming. “Thanks for taking me and Grimsley to the Ruins of Abundance! I’ll come visit you again soon!”

    “Indeed I appreciate you showing me that sacred place,” Grimsley said with a genuine smile. “Hopefully we can meet again soon.”

    “You have a safe trip, yeah!” Kukui said.

    Nanu turned around and did a lazy goodbye wave without facing anyone. After he and Persian stepped outside, he glanced at the building and grunted.

    He felt this wouldn’t be the last time he saw Grimsley.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  12. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Here for chapter 5!

    Heh, it's just like Nanu to be irritated. I enjoyed the magikarp analogy especially. xD

    The tension in this scene is described really well. ^^ In general, this seems like a chapter depicting a lot of tensions rising - between Nanu and Grimsley, between Nanu and his nightmares, between Grimsley and his past with his father's death, etc. It's a lot to take in for a single chapter, but you tackle the pacing well. Each bit gets a perfect amount of focus in the chapter.

    Nanuuuuu, nooo. D: i just wanna give him a hug. This is a really cute scene, though, especially with the nicknaming part.

    I like that Grimsley's mom is keeping in touch with him throughout the fic so far, and it adds a good layer of depth, seeing them be able to grieve together over Grimsley's father's death. <3

    It takes a lot of strength to be kind like this, or try to be kind like this, even when it's hard. I like the layer of depth to Grimsley's character here and hope he succeeds in getting out of this rut he's in... especially if it involves battling Nanu and getting to be closer friends with him. ;)

    She seems pretty certain, and of course, Mimikins attacks anyway. xD It's sweet how Grimsley gets a Z-crystal as a prize, even though he's not officially taking on the challenge. It looks like Z-crystals and Z-moves might play a bigger role down the line, so I'll be interested in seeing that if I'm right. This part also makes me wonder what kind of process takes place when deciding Pokémon that'll be used in a trial, hmm...

    I like the religious touch here. Comparing legendary Pokémon to gods worthy of worship has always been an idea with a lot of potential, I thought.

    Oh, Nanu, why can't you just lighten up a little? ;P I like him being protective of Persian, though, especially alongside the scene where it's shown he's not afraid to be vulnerable in front of her.

    Heh, like the dark-type trainer aesthetic popping up in Nanu here.

    Heh, I wonder how much of this attitude development of hers was inspired by Nanu. "He's grumpy, and I don't wanna be like that. Gotta be positive!" That kind of thing.

    See you in chapter 6~
     
  13. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    Well, turns out I've never read one of your fics before and felt this would be a good place to start!

    And hooooo boy is this fic relevant to my interests! Grimsley is one of my favorite E4 members and you have such a fun interpretation of him - he's so bored, and he's trying so hard to fight it by taking weird chances and yet still trying to be a good person is beautiful. Nanu is also masterfully captured and expanded upon - he's such a delightful ball of angst. And seeing them interacting and starting to be friends is *chef's kiss meme*

    You have a lot of other canon characters in here, several I'm similarly fond of, and they're all captured really well as well (also the detail of Grimsley and Colress being exes made me giggle). What also pleases me is you have a varied cast of OCs playing a role and also interacting with these characters - and that variety of canon and OC character interaction is something I always love to see!

    You also do a good job of keeping Pokemon involved in all this that feels like an actual piece of Pokemon media, in a variety of interactions - Nanu's Persian and the Gible/Sableye fight stand out.

    I did notice some odd typos here and there like:
    But this is a very cute slice of life fic that is filled to the brim with fun character interactions of all kinds!
     
  14. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Hey everyone! Okay, during the months of October and November I wrote enough new material that can be broken down into three chapters! Originally I was going to have separate Grimsley and Nanu's scenes for Ch 6, but Nanu's scene got a bit long and so decided to put that for Ch 7. Hence why this chapter is on the shorter side. Ch8 is another Grimsley centric chapter which will have a couple quick battles and a fun Pokeani reference, how exciting!

    So yeah, expect Chapters 7 and 8 fairly soon too. After that, I have ideas for some scenes and I have some prewritten material I can use as Ch 9 and 10, but there is a chance I'll restructure the later half of the story and see if that's feasible first. Thanks to bobandbill for the great betaing! Before we get to the chapter though, some overdue replies!

    diamondpearl876: Glad to see you notice the tensions going around! Yeah that's what I was going for and glad to hear it worked!

    Indeed poor Nanu. He deserves all the hugs, even if he doesn't want them from you lol.

    Yeah Grimsley's mom is fun to write! Bittersweet the two are grieving.

    Grimsley is a bit more lively as you saw later, but yeah I hope he will get out of his rut soon!

    Yeah, Z-crystals and Z-moves will play a role in the story here and there! As for the process for a totem Pokemon in a trial, to be honest I haven't thought of that far yet. I think the gamesjust have them be larger than regular Pokemon that the trial captains trained.

    Nanu doesn't want to admit it, but he's very protective of Persian haha. And I got a kick out of writing that line.
    Oh my gosh, of course Acerola would say that, lol

    Umbramatic: Hey, thanks so much for dropping by! Happy to hear you're enjoying Nanu and Grimsley there! Also glad to hear the way I portrayed both humans and Pokemon well too! Looking forward to hear more from you!

    Okay with replies out of the way, onto the chapter!

    Chapter Six
    Malicious Moonsault


    Grimsley decided to stay in the Aether House for another night. After Becky healed his Pokémon with potions, Roulette and Raz curled up together and rested on the floor for an hour or so before going out to play with Gracie and Hunter’s Pokémon. Kukui had been making several phone calls over preparations for the Pokémon League and other personal matters.

    In the meantime, everyone was outside near the beach and Acerola and the children were teaching him the Z-move for the Ghostium-Z, Never Ending Nightmare. Each time he did it, he felt like a small child in a ghost costume going trick and treating.

    “That wasn’t scary enough!” Gracie said and pouted after Grimsley practiced the pose the fourth time already. “It gotta be like this!” Like earlier this morning, she picked herself up slowly and jumped forward.

    “But I did just that!” Grimsley said, rolling his eyes. He glanced to see Roulette and Raz watching from the sidelines, giving baffled stares.

    “You did the poses right, but it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more menacing,” Acerola said, and that earned her a glare from Grimsley.

    “I’m sure Shauntal could pull this off better than I can,” he said.

    “She might have fun with that, I think!” Acerola giggled. “We’ve been practicing the poses for a while. Why don’t I show you how it really looks like?” She pulled out a pokéball from her dress, and yelled out, “Go, Pebbles!”

    After she tossed the ball, bright light burst out and a Pokémon that resembled a large sandcastle appeared. The shovel on its head began rotating like a radar machine.

    “That’s a peculiar-looking Pokémon,” Grimsley said in a curious tone. Even his Pokémon tilted their heads with slight interest.

    “Pebbles here is a Palossand!” Acerola said with a grin and patted Pebbles on the forehead. “Many Pokémon are scared of her because Sandygast and Palossand are known to swallow up everything, but she’s well behaved.”

    As if agreeing, Pebbles hummed and stretched her body up and down like a wave. Grimsley blinked upon seeing that, but then he forced a smile.

    “I’ll take your word on that. So about that Z-move?”

    “Right!” Her grin widening, Acerola showed Grimsley her purple Z-Ring bracelet on her wrist. “I’ll be demonstrating my Z-move with Pebbles here. Watch closely!”

    Acerola closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and struck her Z-move pose; Grimsley caught her bracelet glowing brightly like a star. Pebbles also attempted that move like her trainer did, and a golden aura surrounded them both.

    The air grew colder, and purple flames burst out where Pebbles was. Grimsley and his Pokémon stirred when dark liquid oozed out on the ground and several tendrils, similar in appearance to Mimikins the totem Mimikyu’s claws, grabbed and covered a tree which burst into flames. After that performance, Pebbles collapsed like a sinkhole and dragged out a heavy breath.

    “That’s awesome! I can’t wait to try Z-moves with Elekid!” Hunter beamed, and he turned to Elekid who expressed the same joy by jumping up and down.

    “Yeah, me too!” Gracie said, pumping her fist in the air.

    “So that’s a Z-move, huh? Not too bad,” Grimsley said with a genuine smile.

    “Thought you would be impressed! Z-moves can be used depending on the Z-crystal the Pokémon’s holding and the move’s typing. Makes sense?”

    “I think I understand, yes. You would need a Z-ring too, correct?”

    “Yup! Usually a kahuna is the one that can make a Z-ring. For instance, Uncle Nanu made mine!” Acerola’s grin grew wider. “You’ll have no trouble learning Black Hole Eclipse, though!”

    “If I could get my hands on that Z-crystal and Z-ring, that is.” Grimsley sighed and shook his head. He pressed his lips and folded his arms against his chest.

    “Don’t worry, you’ll get those sooner than you think!” Acerola said with a wink. Behind her, the children giggled.

    Frowning, Grimsley wasn’t convinced that would happen anytime soon. He turned his head to see Kukui approaching everyone.

    “Oh, practicing some Z-moves, yeah?” the professor asked when he reached them, and Acerola nodded.

    “I’ve been teaching Grimsley how to do one of the poses and also showed him the Z-move Never Ending Nightmare!”

    “Yeah, just saw that as I was getting out of the building! You come a long way since I first saw you battle.”

    “Thank you, that means a lot!” Acerola said and smiled back. Pebbles let out a pleased grunt.

    Grimsley couldn’t help but smile a little. He glanced at Kukui’s arm and noticed he was wearing a Z-Ring on his wrist too.

    “You know how to use Z-moves, too?” he asked, pointing at Kukui’s Z-Ring.

    A wide grin stretched across Kukui’s face. “Of course, cousin! Otherwise I wouldn’t call myself an expert on Pokémon moves, yeah!”

    “Oh, can we see you do a Z-move too?” Hunter asked eagerly, bouncing on his feet.

    “I wanna see, I wanna see!” Gracie chanted. Next to her, Yungoos, Mimikyu, and Elekid also screamed.

    After considering the children's request for a moment, Kukui grinned. “Sure, why not! Come on out, Chavo!”

    Kukui pulled out a pokéball from his lab coat and threw it up in the air. A burst of light exploded and a large bipedal feline Pokémon appeared. Chavo had turfs of red and black fur, a gray torso with stripes, and a solid muscular build that could rival a bodybuilder or a wrestler. He roared and released a blast of fire from the flaming belt around his waist. Grimsley and his Pokémon couldn’t take their gazes off of him.

    “You have an Incineroar?” Gracie asked, an awestruck expression on her face.

    “Indeed!” Kukui said with a proud grin and patted his Pokémon’s chest. “Chavo’s my main ace and has been with me since I started my own island challenge, yeah!”

    “Nice to see you again, Chavo!” Acerola said as she and Pebbles approached the Incineroar. Recognizing the two, Chavo flashed them a grin and gave a thumbs up.

    “Say Acerola, I have an idea,” Kukui said. “Why don’t we do a mini battle, and then I’ll show Grimsley and the kids Chavo’s Z-move, yeah?”

    “I’m fine with it if Pebbles is.” Acerola turned to her Pokémon, who bobbed her head. The girl’s grin widened. “She says yes!”

    Grimsley moved to where the children and the Pokémon were. He sat between Roulette and Raz, giving them quick scratches on the chin. As Kukui and Acerola prepare their battle, they and their Pokémon stood on opposite sides.

    “You can make the first move, Acerola!” Kukui said, hands on his sides.

    “If you insist! Go for Earth Power, Pebbles!”

    Pebbles grunted in acknowledgement and her body glowed a golden aura. She slammed her fist on the ground, causing the earth to fracture and bright light to spill out. The golden cracks traveled underneath Chavo and that led him to fly several feet and fall. Grimsley, the children, and the Pokémon stumbled as they felt the aftershock of that, too. After regaining his balance, he glanced to see Kukui was unfazed by that.

    “Great! Now Sludge Bomb!”

    “Counter with Darkest Lariat!” Kukui commanded.

    Chavo picked himself quickly and spun himself while being engulfed in flames. Pebbles inhaled and spit out a large amount of purple liquid at her opponent, only for him to go through it as he continued to twirl like a lasso. Both Pokémon collided; Pebbles shrieked while Chavo backed away and shook off the sand and sludge from his arms and chest.

    Acerola ordered Pebbles to use Stone Edge next, so the Palossand punched the ground once more and several stone pillars shot up. One of those pillars struck Chavo on the chest and he dropped to one knee. As he picked himself back up, his legs shook and a large bruise was visible on his chest. Despite that, he roared and launched himself at Pebbles. He sunk his teeth into her, which made her cry in pain and shake Chavo off of her. After being let go, Chavo spat the sand out of his mouth.

    While seeing that part of the battle, Gracie and Hunter gasped while Grimsley grunted and tapped his finger on his chin. When Kukui grinned, he knew what would happen next.

    “I think the audience has waited long enough. Why don’t we end this with your Z-move, Chavo?” Kukui asked, and his Incineroar growled in response. He pumped his fist in the air. “Okay, get ready to make some noise! Malicious Moonsault, woo!”

    Kukui pulled out a small red Z-crystal and put it into the slot of his Z-ring, which glowed like Acerola’s own bracelet earlier. In quick succession, he moved his arms around, leaned himself back, and stretched his arms forward after he straightened himself back up. Chavo mimicked the exact same pose, and right after flames that resembled a wrestling ring sprung up and surrounded Pebbles.

    “Brace yourself!” Acerola warned. Immediately Pebbles raised her arms and her body glowed blue. Grimsley assumed that must be Iron Defense.

    Chavo let out his strongest roar and his body burst in flames. He jumped in the air and when he landed on Pebbles an explosion occurred. Smoke appeared briefly that made Grimsley and the others cough, and once the field was cleared Chavo took deep breaths but stood proud. Pebbles, meanwhile, squealed and collapsed like a sinkhole. Acerola rushed to her partner and hugged her.

    “You did great there, Pebbles!” she said, and that led Pebbles to return the embrace.

    “That battle is awesome!” Hunter said, beaming. His Elekid cheered in agreement.

    “Your Incineroar is the best!” Gracie went and held Chavo’s leg, who let out a startled growl. “Can Chavo play with us?”

    Kukui chuckled and raised his chest up. “I don’t see the problem with that if Chavo’s okay with it!”

    Chavo flashed Kukui another grin and gave him a thumbs up. Both Gracie and Hunter cheered, and then the children, their Pokémon, and Chavo raced to the shore.

    Grimsley couldn’t help but smile at the end result of the battle and the exchanges after. He glanced at his Pokémon to see their faces perked up, looking like they were impressed too. He faced back at Kukui and his face grew serious again.

    “It’s not often you see Pokémon researchers that are also competent battlers.”

    Kukui laughed and rubbed the back of his head. “Nah, I’m far from a good trainer compared to you. The pose I did is actually the same one used for the Z-move Black Hole Eclipse, which Chavo can learn also.”

    “Black Hole Eclipse? So that means your Incineroar is a dual fire and dark type?”

    “Yeah, cousin!” Kukui approached Grimsley and showed his Z-ring for him to see. Upon closer inspection, Grimsley noticed the Z-crystal having Chavo’s face on it. “The Z-crystal is the Incinium-Z, which only an Incineroar can use.”

    “Some Pokémon have Z-crystals that only themselves can learn,” Acerola said to Grimsley. “Mimikins is another Pokémon that has her own Z-crystal called the Mimikium-Z!”

    Grimsley’s eyes grew wide and he frowned. “Really? That Mimikyu is still full of surprises.”

    That caught Acerola off guard for a second, but then she grinned. “Speaking of surprises, professor you’re not going to believe what happened to me and Grimsley a few days ago.”

    “Oh, and what that might be?” Kukui asked, raising a brow. Acerola began telling him how she, Grimsley, Nanu, and Becky met with Colress and the Ultra Recon Squad. When she mentioned that group, Kukui gave a shocked face. “Wait, the Ultra Recon Squad? I met them sometime before you guys did.”

    “Did you meet them at Tapu Village?” Grimsley asked, folding his arms against his chest. He recalled them taking a great interest in that place.

    “I did, yeah. After checking in with the construction workers’ progress on the Pokémon League, I was approached by those two and they seemed excited about Alola having that.”

    “Did they mention about Necrozma and coming from a different world?” Acerola asked, and Kukui nodded.

    “They did, yeah. Apparently Necrozma is similar to what we call ‘The Blind One’ in our folklore and how we got our Z-crystals.” Kukui paused a second to wipe his glasses. “I was a little surprised, but believed them due to Magnolia’s research on Ultra Wormholes.”

    “Oh, you mean Professor Burnet!” Acerola said in a chirp-like voice.

    Grimsley’s brow quirked with great interest. “Professor Burnet? You mean the same Professor Burnet that worked with Professor Fennel’s research on dreams?”

    “Yeah! Take it you heard of her because she was from Unova?”

    “Somewhat. I never met her in person, but I recalled her being good friends with Professor Fennel and Professor Juniper.”

    “Ah, I see! Yeah, she, Fennel, and Juniper go way back. I actually first met her while visiting Unova, and then sometime later she moved to Alola to work in the Dimensional Research Lab.” A dazed gaze washed over Kukui’s face when he added, “We only got married a couple years ago, but she’s the most wonderful person I’ve ever met.”

    “Aw, how sweet!” Acerola said, clasping her hands and tiptoeing like a girl daydreaming.

    “You said she studies Ultra Wormholes, correct?” Grimsley asked. “I believed there was one in Melemele Island a few days ago, shortly after I first stepped in this region.”

    Kukui nodded, his face set. “I was just calling her today and she mentioned an Ultra Wormhole popping up there around that time.”

    “If it isn’t any trouble, I wouldn’t mind reading some of her research.” While Grimsley was already informed on Ultra Wormholes thanks to Zossie and Dulse, it wouldn’t hurt to study on them more. Perhaps Professor Burnet’s research might reveal new material.

    “Sure, I can show you some of Magnolia’s research. I can also have you meet her before you leave, yeah!”

    Kukui bumped his elbow onto Grimsley’s shoulder and winked at him. He stared blankly at him for a moment, then he smiled.

    “Meeting her won’t be necessary, but I appreciate the gesture nonetheless.”

    “I think that’s enough lesson on Z-moves for today,” Acerola said. “Why don’t we join with Chavo and the kids for a bit?”

    “Sounds like a plan!” Kukui said, his grin widening.

    After Kukui and Acerola headed off, Grimsley and his Pokémon followed behind. He gazed at the sky, the sun barely beginning to set. He would just watch Kukui and Acerola play with the children and Pokémon, but that was fine as he could finally relax today.

    Xxx

    When evening came, everyone gathered inside the dining hall to eat and talk with one another. The children told Becky how Acerola and Kukui battled each other and used Z-moves, to which the Aether employee mused how she wished she could’ve seen that instead of working. Becky then asked Grimsley how was his Z-move training, and he responded that it went fine and that he enjoyed the demonstrations.

    After everyone finished dinner, Acerola suggested to Grimsley that they call Iokua and let him know how the trip went. He agreed, and over the next several minutes they did just that. Acerola grabbed the tablet and had it up and running. They caught Iokua busy reading some journals at home, but otherwise he was delighted to see them safe and sound from the trip. They talked to him about what had occurred in the desert and Ruins of Abundance, Iokua looking very pleased.

    “That’s wonderful that all of you were able to see Tapu Bulu’s totem,” he said when their conversation was close to ending. “I take it you enjoyed the experience, Grimsley.”

    “I did,” Grimsley said, smiling. “The desert and Ruins of Abundance reminded me of the Desert Resort in Unova.”

    “Oh, you mean the Relic Castle? Fascinating piece of Unovan history there.” Iokua glanced around at the screen and frowned. “Is my father here with you two now?”

    “Uncle Nanu needed to leave back to Po Town and feed his hundred Meowth,” Acerola said, and that made Iokua chuckle.

    “He doesn’t want to admit it, but he does care for those Meowth. Speaking of which… Grimsley, have you talked to him about wanting a battle with him?”

    “I did, but he’s not interested at the moment. I even managed to get a Ghostinum-Z and he still refused.”

    Iokua’s eyes grew wide. “Wait, so you took on the island challenge?”

    “Not exactly. I tried to find my ring in the Thrifty Megamart, but then the totem Pokémon wanted me to battle her. She gave me the Z-crystal as thanks.”

    “Also get this,” Acerola said with a pouting face. “Professor Kukui came here to ask Uncle Nanu if he would be willing to join as an Elite Four, and he refused!”

    “Mhm, it doesn’t surprise me he would decline the offer,” Iokua said, nodding. He looked back at Grimsley. “Talk with him more and he’ll have a change of heart.”

    Grimsley stared blankly at him, unconvinced that would happen anytime soon. And yet, he didn’t want to give up just yet. “All right, I’ll give it more time.”

    “Say, Uncle Iokua,” Acerola said in a small voice that was odd for her, her eyes fluttering. “I’ve been thinking of seeing my mom and dad soon. It’s been over a few months since I last saw them.”

    Frowning a little, Grimsley had an idea what she had meant. He already knew her father was gone and her mother was nowhere in sight, too. Loss was one experience they shared.

    “You’re going to visit their graves,” he said, and Acerola’s gaze fell on the floor.

    “Yeah. They’re resting at Memorial Hill over at Akala Island as that’s where the royal family get buried at.” She looked back up at Grimsley and beamed. “I know they’re out here making sure Uncle Nanu and I take care of each other!”

    “I feel the same way,” Iokua said with a soft smile. He cleared his throat. “Anyways, I need to make sure Cora and the baby are doing all right. The both of you have a good night.”

    “Bye, Uncle Iokua! I’ll make sure to give you a call before I leave to see you,” Acerola said, and then she and Iokua hung up. She faced Grimsley. “I think I’ll visit my parents the day after tomorrow.”

    “I’m sure they’ll appreciate it,” Grimsley said. His smile started to fade when he realized… “Wait, Iokua and his wife are expecting. Does that mean…”

    “That Nanu’s going to be a grandfather?” Professor Kukui said as he approached them, grinning. “He is, yeah!”

    Grimsley imagined Nanu taking care of a baby, and that caused him to snicker. “I’m sorry, that just amuses me.”

    “Uncle Nanu doesn’t act like it, but I’m sure he would make a great grandfather!” Acerola said.

    Kukui grunted and nodded in agreement. He then said to Grimsley, “We can leave tomorrow morning and make a pit stop at Malie City. We’ll then take a bus to Mount Hokulani and meet with the trainers I’ve chosen for the Elite Four, Molayne and Kahili.”

    “Tomorrow morning, got it,” Grimsley said and nodded.

    “Awesome, can’t wait for you to meet them, yeah!” Kukui said, grinning. “I’ll be heading out now, you guys have a great evening!”

    “You too, Professor Kukui!” Acerola said as she and Grimsley waved to him goodbye.

    Kukui returned the gesture and left the building. As soon as he was gone, Grimsley dropped on the sofa and sighed.

    “Boy, am I exhausted!” he said, stretching his arms and staring at the ceiling. Acerola giggled.

    “Well you did chase the Murkrow all around the store and battle against Mimikins,” she said. When Mimikyu began tugging at her dress with her claws, she picked the Pokémon up and held her against her chest.

    Grimsley glanced around to see the Pokémon playing together once more. Both Yungoos and Elekid cheerfully rode on Roulette and Raz respectively. After they finished with their race, Raz approached Roulette and licked her face, their tails intertwining. A warm smile tugged at Grimsley’s lips.

    “Looks like your Pokémon are having fun here!” Acerola said, beaming.

    “They’ve been enjoying this region so far, I think.” Grimsley leaned back against the sofa, his head behind his arms. “I must say, Alola has been full of surprises.”

    “How about the Pokémon League? You’re excited to meet Alola’s Elite Four?”

    “I’m more curious what they’re like if anything. Nonetheless, I look forward speaking with them.”

    “Ah, okay!” Acerola’s grin grew wider. “I’m sure you’ll have fun meeting them!”

    Grimsley let out an indifferent grunt, and stared at the ceiling once more. When Kukui had asked him to help him with the league earlier, he was taken aback by that request because he was still sorting out his views on battling and feelings as an Elite Four. However, he thought lending a hand there could be worthwhile. Tomorrow was going to be interesting.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019 at 3:58 AM

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