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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 Drowning sorrows with Regice & Latios

    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
  15. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Chapter Seven
    Memento


    Ten years ago


    “Aw Charlotte, you sure you’re okay not being in the picture?” Sana asked, her lips in a slight pout. “You’re part of the task force, too!”

    “It’s all right, honey!” Charlotte told her with a reassuring grin. “I’ve already been in a few with you guys, so it’s not a loss!”

    It was a bright, sunny day in Ula’ula Beach. Because of the nice weather, Sana had suggested to everyone that they take a picture together outside. Charlotte and Agent 100KR were enthusiastic about it, while Nanu rolled his eyes and followed them. He could feel the warm sand in his dress shoes and his hair fluttering against the ocean breeze.

    “You two took more pictures than usual,” he said, staring at them. His arms folded against his chest. “You’re gonna run out of space on your tablets.”

    “I want to create as many memories as possible. Once you become an amnesic like me, you’ll learn to appreciate every moment in the present.”

    “How about that journal of yours? I haven’t seen you write anything the past week.”

    “Got a bit depressing, so I stopped at least for now. Rather not being reminded how much I’ve failed helping the UBs.” Sana’s gaze fell on the ground, and she wrapped her arms around herself. “I’m still shaken by what happened to Adhesive and Stinger.”

    Earlier in the week Nanu’s task force had found two Ultra Beasts deep in the caves. Stinger had poisoned and killed a non-threatening civilian, so it was deemed dangerous and had to be taken down. Adhesive, which Nanu believed to be its child, was captured and taken to the labs to be used in experiments. Thinking about that made his chest ache. He released a sharp sigh.

    “It’s a horrible move on our part, I know. But what’s done is done.”

    Sana glared daggers at him. “Well you don’t sound too upset. Happy being Interpol’s little Houndour, right?”

    “Sana, please!” Charlotte moved in front of her. Her palm was affectionately on Sana’s shoulder. “I know you’re upset, we all are. But Triple Zero is right, we can’t undo what has already happened. We just have to move forward the best we can.”

    “I for one think that’s a sweet gesture, ladies,” 100KR said as he approached in between everyone. “A picture is worth a million words, as that saying goes.”

    “It’s a thousand words, KR. Never a fan of my face being shown on pictures.”

    “Because of how ugly it is?” A smug grin pulled on the corner of Sana’s lips.

    “Shut up, Sana.”

    “Now now, no more bickering here! Let us enjoy this relaxing moment together, shall we?”

    “Thank you, KR.” Charlotte pulled out a digital camera and tiptoed on her heels, her purple curls bouncing on her shoulders. “Okay everyone, smile and say Pyukumuku!”

    Sana and Looker did their poses while Nanu just stared. A bright flash from the camera, and the picture was taken.

    Xxx

    Present day

    It took Nanu only about half an hour to arrive at Po Town’s police station. A Flygon from the Poke Ride service brought him back and he was grateful that he didn’t need to ride a Sharpedo and go through Route 15’s boulders. He was right that the Meowth finished all the food he left for them, and even destroyed the unopened bags he was saving for later. After he poured more food into their bowls, he sat on his desk and turned on his computer. Persian and Sableye were out of their pokeballs, Persian curled up next to his chair while Sableye sat on the floor chewing some pokepuffs.

    His conversations with Grimsley earlier today was still on his mind, so he decided to check out the Unova Pokémon League website. As expected, it had all the information from how to register for your trainer license, upcoming tournaments, and current gym leaders and Elite Four. He interacted with a lot of Gym Leaders and Elite Four across several regions back when he was in Interpol, but never really formed meaningful connections with them.

    Nanu clicked on Grimsley’s page and it showed him in a much fancier suit and less gray hair. He was posed sitting on a chair with his legs crossed, his expression mischievous and confident. Reading through his information, he was invited to the Elite Four a year or two before Nanu had retired from Interpol. He was busy with the UB Task Force then, so it was no wonder the two hadn’t met yet.

    It then crossed his mind to look up on Grimsley’s family. The Thomas family line had had a big influence in Unova for generations. Many of its members either were in politics, owned land, or ran several high profile businesses. Grimsley’s father Finn Thomas had owned a few sports teams and ran a successful hotel chain, but for some reason that didn’t pass down to his family after he had passed away. Grimsley ended up being one of the best trainers in Unova, so he turned out fine. Nanu was reminded of when he, Grimsley and Acerola were in the desert, and the girl mentioned about being royalty.

    “So your family had fallen from grace, too?” Grimsley had asked her that day. Nanu snorted, amused that he also practically come from nobility. Compared to him on the computer screen, the Grimsley visiting Alola now was a different person.

    A trash can dropping was heard outside, which caused some of the Meowth to wake up from their nap and Nanu to jump out of his seat. He and his Pokémon hurried outside, Persian and Sableye following him behind. His heart almost skipped a beat at the sight before him.

    “Why are all these Meowth on me, Chief?” a man asked as he tried to shake off the Meowth clawing onto his coat and pants. Near them, a purple haired woman dressed in a dark suit folded her arms and pressed her lips.

    “Perhaps they smelled the malasadas you had bought earlier,” she said.

    “But malasadas make great housewarming gifts, don’t you think?” The man chuckled, only to then yell when one of the Meowth dug its claws onto his leg.

    “KR, Anabel?” Nanu finally said. The two turned their attention to him and gave him stunned looks.

    “Officer Nanu!” Anabel said in a soft voice.

    “Hello, kid. Your hair grew quite a bit, looks good on you.”

    “I agree, yes!” KR said with a laugh. He slung his arm around Anabel’s shoulder and pulled her close to him, making her blush. She sighed and had the decency to push him away.

    “I appreciate the enthusiasm there, Mr. Looker, but that’s a bit much.” She grinned at Persian, who purred and nudged on her leg. “Hello there, Persian. Haven’t seen you in a long while.”

    Looker? Right, he almost forgot that was the codename he was using now. He was used to calling him KR that it was hard for him to think of him by another name. The corner of Nanu’s mouth twitched.

    Sableye approached Looker and tugged at his pants. When he gazed down, she was pointing at his bag.

    “Oh, a new Pokémon of Nanu’s, huh? I know, I’ll give you a piece of this!” He pulled a small malasada out from the bag and handed it to Sableye, who grabbed and munched her snack with her mouth wide open.

    Anabel smiled at that sight, then she faced Nanu. “Is it alright if we come in?”

    “Yeah, it’s fine. Just be careful not to step on the Meowth or their toys.”

    They followed him inside the police station. Nanu grabbed a bag from one of the seats and dusted the fur off. As soon as Anabel and Looker sat down, one of the Meowth jumped in between them and rubbed onto Anabel’s chest. She smiled and scratched her cheeks.

    “Do either of you want something to eat or drink? I only have crackers, beef jerky, and cup ramen for food at the moment. Kahuna duties, you know?”

    “I prepared some malasadas for us to share, so we’re okay with food!” Looker grinned and held up a bag with a Bewear as a logo.

    “I’m fine with just water, thanks,” Anabel said.

    Nanu grunted and went to grab some water bottles from the fridge in his office. When he returned, Looker and Anabel were already chewing on their malasadas. The Meowth that wanted Anabel’s attention earlier licked some of the crumbs on the table. He handed the water bottles to his guests and they thanked him.

    “So, what brings you guys here?” Nanu asked as he went back to his desk and closed the browser on his computer. He leaned back on his chair.

    “Well technically we’re supposed to be undercover,” Looker said. “I was provided with secret information from the inside.”

    “Huh? What kind of info?”

    “First order of business is the Pokémon mafia running afoot here. Team Skull, is it?” He turned to Anabel, who nodded.

    “There have been reports of them stealing Pokémon and other crimes. Since you live very close to them, we thought to ask you if you know anything about their whereabouts.”

    Nanu quirked an eyebrow at them, then he snorted. “You think they’re a serious criminal organization? They’re just kids trying to support themselves. Some are a little more brash than others, but the majority of them are harmless. Pretty much all of Alola don’t take them seriously.”

    Anabel narrowed her eyes at him, as if appalled at hearing that. “Sounds like you just don’t want to deal with them.”

    “Hey, you asked if I know what they’re up to, right? Save for some incidents in other islands, they’ve mostly been keeping their business to themselves here.”

    Anabel still didn’t look convinced, but Looker chuckled and grinned at her.

    “If Mr. Nanu says they pose no threat, then I’ll trust his judgment.” Looker looked back at Nanu, his face now more serious. “However, there’s still the concern of one individual that associates with them. Gladion Jubert, if I recall.”

    “The Aether President’s son? What about him?”

    “We’ve been informed that he has a highly classified Pokémon with him,” Anabel said. “His motivations are unclear, though.”

    Gladion Jubert. He first appeared in Po Town almost two years ago. He thought he had just been a misfit like the other grunts, due to his torn clothing. He soon realized he was Lusamine Jubert’s son and wondered why he was with Team Skull.

    “I saw him talking with Team Skull a few times, but they don’t consider him their family. As for the Pokémon, I think I caught him with it once. It has a helmet and fish scales as legs, right?”

    “That’s the description we’ve been handed, yes. Have you talked with him yet?”

    Nanu glanced up at the ceiling, groaning. “A few times, I think? Reason he’s with them is so he and his Pokémon can get stronger. That’s all he’s willing to tell me.”

    While Nanu and Anabel were talking, Looker wrote down some notes on his little black notebook. After that was finished, he tapped the pen on the pages and gave a satisfied grunt.

    “Any information regarding him and Team Skull, no matter how big or small, are appreciated. There’s one more matter we must discuss, and then we’re done.” He offered Anabel a quick nod, which she returned.

    “We’ve been reported that an Ultra Wormhole had popped up inside Aether Paradise and that an Ultra Beast appeared,” Anabel said.

    Upon hearing that, Nanu sat straight up and furrowed his brow. “Are you serious?”

    Looker gave a solemn nod. “Two trainers came for a tour of the site, and they ended up in the middle of it. Charlotte witnessed that phenomenon with them.”

    A lump formed inside Nanu’s throat. Charlotte was one of the agents in the science division who helped with the UB Task Force team ten years ago. After he had retired from Interpol, the two kept in contact if there was anything important, but he admit they had fallen out of touch for a while now.

    “Charlotte, huh? Can’t believe she’s still undercover. I mean, I’ve seen the ads and news, but…” As his voice trailed off, he recalled what happened on the day he, Grimsley, and Acerola met with Colress and the Ultra Recon Squad. “Did she let you two know about the Ultra Recon Squad?”

    “You mean the strange individuals in spacesuits?” Anabel spoke. “Yes, we’re aware of them as they’ve been working with Aether Foundation for a while now. Have you met them before?”

    “I did a few days ago. Me and a group were heading to Haina Desert and we met with them on our way there. They were spouting something about Necrozma and Alola’s light.”

    “Necrozma?” Looker scratched his head. “You mean the beast those beings from another world worship?”

    “It’s more known as ‘The Blinding One’ in some Alolan folklore, but yes. Not only that, those guys have Adhesive with them.”

    A sharp frown crossed Looker’s face. “Yes, we were shown that UB on our first meeting with them. Protocol calls for those beasts to be either eliminated or sent to headquarters, but this is a special case. The Ultra Recon Squad are working with a scientist under Interpol’s watch.”

    “Did that scientist used to work for Team Plasma? Grimsley from that group I mentioned used to know him,” Nanu said. Both Anabel and Looker exchanged stunned looks.

    “Grimsley?” Looker asked. “Back when Team Plasma caused chaos in Unova the Elite Four were witnesses. He happens to be the same person?”

    “Same one. He’s here for a holiday it seems. I was unfortunate enough to stumble upon him.”

    “If so, we must speak with him if it relates to Aether and the Ultra Recon Squad,” Anabel said.

    “Don’t bother. They had a fall out sometime ago, so I doubt you’ll get any new information from him.” Nanu paused. “All of this makes me wonder if Aether is planning something big.”

    “If that’s the case, then we’ll keep an eye out on any suspicious activity,” Anabel said. At that moment, her phone rang and she looked at the number on it. “It’s HQ. I should take this, it’ll only be a moment.”

    Anabel got up, gave the Meowth on the table another quick scratch, and went outside.

    Nanu got out of his seat and walked in front of Looker. He stole a glance at the door. “Does Anabel know about her condition?”

    Looker’s face turned pale. He hung his head down and his shoulders slouched. “I haven’t had the courage to tell her. Whenever I was about to, Sana’s face appeared instead of hers.”

    “So you’ve still having those nightmares, too.” Nanu’s throat dried up when he said that. He stared at the ceiling. “I dreamt about Sana again last night. I woke up everyone in Aether House while sleeping there.”

    A pitiful expression crossed Looker’s face. “I recall Anabel having dreams with UB Glutton that were different from ours. Her nightmares are also why I’m unable to inform her the truth.”

    He gave Looker a stern look, only to then sigh and pinch his nose. “I would’ve knocked the back of your head, but I’m no better than you. Poor her, living a lie for so long.”

    A long silence stretched between them. Persian growled and nudged against Looker’s leg. He smiled and stroked the gem on her forehead.

    “The Chief’s reaction won’t be favorable, but I’ll tell her everything when the time comes. I shall carry the burden so you don’t have to.”

    “Jean…” Nanu said in a low voice, letting Looker’s real name slip. He rarely called him that when he was an agent, only used either when he was angry or if it was more personal. Realizing that, he let out an awkward cough. “But yes, she needs to know.”

    When Looker caught Nanu’s reaction there, he chuckled. “Off guard saying my given name, hm?”

    “It’s not like that!” Nanu snapped and raised his arm. By then, Anabel reentered the police station.

    “HQ just wanted to check up on us on our current assignment here.” She looked at both men with amusement. “Were you two talking about something?”

    Nanu was about to respond, but luckily Looker beat him to it.

    “Oh, some old work stories we were exchanging. Catching up and all!” Looker scratched his head and made a sheepish laugh.

    “That was before you joined Interpol with us,” Nanu added.

    “Ah, I see. Hope I didn’t interrupt or anything.” Anabel’s face softened, and she turned to him. “How you’ve been holding up, Officer Nanu? ”

    Nanu shrugged. “I’m still breathing, so not bad I guess. Being a kahuna here and watching over Poni Island gets draining, but the Team Skull kids here are keeping me awake.”

    “And your son?” Looker asked as he gave the last piece of the malasada to the Meowth.

    “Much better than me. He and his wife are expecting their first kid soon.”

    “That’s magnifico!” Already a wide grin stretched across Looker’s face. He hugged Nanu tight, causing him to struggle to breath.

    “Okay that’s enough,” Nanu said in a weak voice, and that made Looker let go. Anabel giggled.

    “Congratulations on that! You and your family must be overjoyed,” she said and smiled.

    Nanu’s stomach churned. The last time he talked with Iokua he didn’t even get to ask how Cora and the baby were doing. A part of him wanted to bang his head on the wall for forgetting that. He would make that up the next time he speaks with him, then.

    “Yeah, they’re pretty excited the last I heard. I’m sure they’ll make great parents.” Better than me, that’s for certain, he almost said after but kept it to himself.

    “Sounds like me with Emma while I investigated in Kalos. She was the first young human I took under my wing, and my most cherished pupil.”

    “When away there he couldn’t stop talking about her and often sent me pictures of them together! I still have them on my phone.”

    Anabel approached Nanu and she showed him a picture on her phone. In it Looker stood next to a dark-haired girl holding an Espurr, the two grinning ear to ear. Somehow she looked familiar...

    “Isn’t she the girl that caused havoc in Lumiose City?” Nanu asked, and Looker hung his head in shame.

    “You’re not wrong, but it isn’t her fault! It was the schemes of an ex-member of Team Flare to blame! Thanks to another member I did a plea bargain with, I was able to track him down!”

    “Oh right, I read that he got arrested and the girl was excused of her crimes. That must be some adventure you had in Kalos.”

    Looker laughed out loud, hands on his stomach. “What can I say, a globe-trotting, crime-fighting elite is I! Anyhow, you’ll love Emma and Mimi for certain!”

    Anabel smiled a little. “Before coming here, Mr. Looker mentioned he wants to arrange a meeting with you and Emma through the Holo Caster. Also possibly in person in the future.”

    “What?” Nanu’s eyes grew wide. “I never heard of the girl until now, and already you want me to have a playdate with her!”

    “Don’t worry, it’ll only take a minute or so of your time! Let me just find her number and we’re set!”

    Already Looker pulled out a small device from his coat and pushed some buttons on it. After that, a blue hologram of a young girl appeared. A small Espurr jumped onto her shoulders.

    “Looker, is that you?” she asked with a surprised face. “I’ve been in bed for almost an hour already, but the Holo Caster rang and I saw your number.”

    “Oops, I forgot Alola and Kalos are in different time zones! I was excited for you to meet an old colleague of mine.”

    “Huh, is that all? Couldn’t that wait until later?”

    “I would have to agree,” Anabel said in a matter of fact tone. That led Looker to shush her.

    “Shouldn’t take too long, promise!” Looker nudged Nanu’s shoulder. He furrowed his brow, then rolled his eyes and looked into the hologram.

    “Hi there, Emma. I’m Nanu, Looker and I used to work in Interpol together.”

    “Nice to meet you, Nanu!” Emma flashed him a grin. “Looker mentions you whenever he talks about his adventures! Says that you’re a fan of cat Pokémon!”

    Nanu flinched and grunted in surprise. As if amused, Persian made several growls that sounded like a giggle.

    “He’s not entirely wrong there. Since we’re here, tell me a little about yourself.”

    “Well I’m an orphan that has been living on the streets almost all my life. Looker then helped me get on my feet and now I have my own detective agency!”

    “Wait, seriously! Already in the big leagues, huh?”

    Emma giggled and scratched Mimi’s chin, causing the feline to purr. “It’s all thanks to him Mimi and I have a place to live! I love this job as I’m able to help out the citizens of Lumiose.” Looker beamed when Emma spoke about him. Anabel had her hand on his shoulder, smiling proudly at him. “Enough about me, how about you?”

    “I’m a police officer and kahuna. If you don’t know, kahunas basically watch over one of the islands in Alola.”

    “That’s so cool! Must be tiring doing both, though.”

    “It is, but this island is boring half the time so it isn’t all that bad. It’s getting late where you’re at, so I won’t take up any more of your time.”

    “Hey, no problem at all. It’s nice talking with you Nanu! I want to say hi to Anabel before I go.”

    “Sure thing, kid.” Nanu jerked his head slightly at Looker for him to go to Anabel, which he did. He listened as the two ladies started talking.

    “Hello Emma, I hope you’re doing well.”

    Emma crossed her arms, and both she and Mimi pouted. “Can’t believe you guys are in Alola without me!”

    Anabel chuckled. “We already been through this before. Mr. Looker and I are taking care of some business and don’t want you in any harm.”

    “Yeah, I get that. You have to make it up by taking me to your guys’ next trip!” Next to Emma, Mimi nodded and growled.

    “All right, I’ll talk to Mr. Looker about that. You have a good night.”

    “Thanks! Good luck to you two!” Emma said, beaming. She and Mimi waved goodbye, and the hologram on Looker’s Holo Caster vanished.

    “Emma’s wonderful, you agree?” Looker said with a grin.

    “She seems like a good kid, yeah. Her Espurr is also cute.”

    Looker nodded enthusiastically. “The Chief is also fond of her. Why, she would make a great mother to her!”

    Anabel spat out the water she was drinking from the bottle. Her face flushed and she shifted her gaze away for a second.

    “I love Emma very much, but I don’t know about being her mother.”

    “Perhaps I did get carried away there.” Looker made a sheepish laugh and rubbed the back of his neck. He sighed happily. “Us three weren’t a team all that long, but we did work well together.”

    “Remember that time we went to Goldenrod City?” Anabel said. “We had to chase down the criminal through the park while a business party was held there. One of the clowns got mad at us for destroying the balloons.”

    With a crooked smile, Nanu said, “Or the time we were in Castelia City and you guys pretended to get a business loan? Looker got jealous when that guy flirted with you.”

    Looker flinched, and he stared at Nanu. “I only reacted that way because I didn’t want any harm done to her!”

    Anabel chuckled, covering her mouth. She stopped to look at her phone and the wrinkles on her forehead knitted.

    “Sorry to cut this reunion short, but Mr. Looker and I have to be on our way. There are a few contacts we have to follow up on and leave for Poni Island tomorrow.”

    Nanu’s throat went dry and his fingers curled. Last thing he wanted was for her to remember being washed ashore again. He glanced at Looker, a deep frown stretching across his features.

    “Will you be alright?”

    Anabel gasped, as if she had already figured out what he meant by that. She smiled at him after. “I’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

    By the shakiness in her voice, Nanu wasn’t convinced that was the case. However, he wasn’t going to stop her if she wanted to do this. He returned a smile of his own.

    “If you guys get in any trouble, don’t hesitate to reach me. I’ve been overlooking Poni Island also until the new kahuna gets chosen.”

    “Good to know if we ever need some assistance!” Looker said with a grateful grin.

    As they began their goodbyes, Nanu shared a small embrace with Anabel and shook hands with Looker. The two also patted Persian on the forehead, which she enjoyed. They reached the door, and Anabel stepped out while Looker stopped and looked over his shoulder.

    “Oh, one last thing. I left on the table a postcard from Charlotte. The best tours in Aether Paradise are conducted by her!” He waved and left the station too.

    A deep frown settled on Nanu’s face. His Pokémon gazed up, Persian letting out a worried meow while Sableye tilted her head and clicked her tongue.

    “They’ll be fine, very capable of watching themselves. Let’s see what that postcard is about.”

    On the table one of the Meowth was playing with the malasada bag. Nanu noticed the postcard was covered by her bottom, so when he tried to grab it she hissed and scratched his hand. He winced and waited until she jumped off to take the postcard. On the front it was a glossy photo of two wide smiling Aether employees posing with a Sandygast and Palossand. The Aether Foundation’s logo and name was printed on the top in gold. Nanu flipped to the back, which had an environmental awareness message in neat handwriting.

    Sandygast and Palossand thrived in the sands of Alola, so sometimes they would accidentally eat plastic and other waste lying around. Thanks to the efforts of the Aether Foundation we’re able to help them from further decay. This is why it’s important to keep our beaches and oceans clean!

    -W.C. Santana
    Assistant Branch Chief
    Aether Paradise


    Nanu couldn’t help but grin. This was the first time in a long while since she had sent him a written message in that fashion. That meant something big was about to happen, perhaps relating to what Looker and Anabel had told him.

    “Hey, that’s not for you to play!” he said when one of the Meowth’s paws kept hitting the postcard. He clicked his tongue at Persian, who growled and grabbed the Meowth by the back of the neck with her mouth.

    Nanu sat back on his desk and set his friend’s message aside. He pulled out the photograph of him, Looker, and Sana several years ago, the one Charlotte had taken of them. His fingers tapped at it, and he and snorted at that memory.

    He and Sana acted like two Murkrow fighting over shiny jewelry, like what happened with Grimsley’s ring earlier. What they had in common was feeling helpless after taking Adhesive, Stinger, and countless other UBs to HQ. Thinking what had happened to them made his stomach churn.

    Aether and the wormholes. He, Looker, and Charlotte tried to find the answers for ten years, almost to no avail. Seemed now they would get them very soon.

    Notes: If you guys haven't caught on, yes I have Wicke be a secret informant scientist going undercover. I got inspired by the fic Man In Twilight, which is a cool Nanu centric story you guys should check out (and the authors' portrayal of Nanu is a thousand times better than mine orz). Wicke is planned to make an appearance SOONtm.

    I hope to have Ch 8 posted in a few weeks since I got the draft done for it already. Ch 9 is still in progress. After that I probably will go on a short hiatus to hash out a solid plan for the final chapters and take care real life stuff. And as always, credit to bobandbill for great betaing!
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  16. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Remember when I said this would be eight chapters? Yeah, throw that out of the window. I don't have a definite chapter count since I'm trying to jammed pack less scenes/locations in one chapter haha. I'm bouncing between writing and revising Chapters 11-13 atm and I know endgame will have at least 4 or 5 chapters, so let's say 19 or 20 chapters maybe?

    Speaking of which, I have Chapter 9's rough draft done. However, I'm thinking of doing April Camp Nano, and it'll depend how busy my beta will be that month. I'll still try to have it posted in mid April, but if not then May for sure.

    Before we begin this chapter, want to mention Starfall Hills is from the anime. And yes, the last scene I got inspiration from the Minior episode too. Also, the nickname I gave for Kahili's Toucannon is also from the anime! This won't be the only time I'll have anime references either! Also, thanks to bobandbill for the great beta as always!

    Chapter Eight
    Power Trip


    The next morning after Grimsley packed up his things he met up with Kukui outside. Acerola and Becky were also there to see them leave.

    “Our pokérides should be here any moment, yeah!” Kukui said to Grimsley. “Also I let Molayne and Kahili know that we’ll be meeting up with them later.”

    “Will you stick around Ula’ula Island for a few more days?” Becky asked.

    “Perhaps. There are still some sites on this island I haven’t gotten around to yet.”

    “There’s Lake of the Moone that’s right next to Ula’ula Meadows!” Acerola said, grinning. “It has some neat history that relates to our legendary Pokémon Lunala and Solgaleo!”

    Grimsley nodded and a small smile formed on his lips. “Lake of the Moone does sound lovely. I’ll see about visiting there eventually.”

    After he finished speaking, a beastly roar was heard. Grimsley looked up to see a Skarmory and a Charizard approaching them. They soon landed on the ground and everyone gathered around them.

    “Looks like our rides are here!” Kukui said. He went towards the Charizard and patted his forehead.

    Already the Skarmory began pecking at his sleeve and that made Grimsley glare at her. Upon a closer look, his eyes grew wide.

    “You’re the same Skarmory that wanted my coin.” A sharp frown crossed Grimsley’s face. Skarmory squawked and flapped her wings, as if responding ‘yes’.

    “Seems you two are already connected!” Becky said with a chuckle.

    Grimsley grunted and shook his head. He and Kukui hopped onto their ride Pokémon’s backs.

    “Do drop by Aether House again soon, you two!” Acerola said.

    “Of course, yeah!” Kukui said. He faced his Charizard and patted the back of his neck. “All right, off to Malie City, woo!”

    Kukui whistled and that caused both his and Grimsley’s Pokémon to flap their wings and launch into the air. While gripping on the reins, Grimsley glanced down to see Acerola and Becky waving goodbye to them. He smiled, already considering visiting Aether House once more. He gazed at the sky as the sun began to rise and hung tight onto Skarmory, and they continued to follow alongside Kukui and Charizard toward Malie City.

    xxx

    The last time Grimsley was in the air he wasn’t at ease. The air was slightly cooler since it was morning, and his body relaxed this time. While he and Skarmory were flying, the armored bird kept pecking at Grimsley's hair. He carefully maintained his hairstyle, so he often pushed her head away from him.

    "What is it with Pokémon eating my hair and clothes?" Grimsley asked as he smoothed his hair with one hand and gripped on the reins with his other.

    Kukui chuckled and looked over his head. "Perhaps they're very drawn to you!"

    "I seriously doubt that." Grimsley then asked, "I'm curious, how come we're not going straight to Mount Hokulani?"

    "A couple reasons, cousin! A few more people had reserved our Pokémon also, so they need to be given back soon. Another reason is that some Pokémon living there are very hazardous for us to get close to, yeah!"

    Grimsley's brow was raised with surprise and interest. He imagined he meant the ones that could use Explosion and similar moves.

    It took a little over half an hour for Grimsley and Kukui to make it to Malie City. After they landed and said farewell to their Pokémon, they took the Exeggutor Express, a bus shaped like an Alolan Exeggutor, that was heading to Mount Hokulani.

    There were a few passengers inside. One seat was occupied by a girl with her Zorua sleeping on her lap, and two more taken by a couple going to the Hokulani Observatory together. Grimsley gazed through the window to see the tall grass and trees of Route 10 passing by like a rushing Ponyta. He sat next to Kukui, who was looking across another pair of seats to see through the other window.

    “Say Professor Kukui, can you tell me a bit more about the trainers you’ve chosen for the Elite Four?” he asked, and that caught Kukui’s attention.

    “Sure! I first asked Olivia, who is the kahuna of Akala Island and specializes in rock types. You won’t meet her today, though, as she’s busy with her kahuna duties at the moment. Kahili, meanwhile, was a former island champion and trains flying Pokémon. She’s also a professional golfer, so she’s been all over the world, yeah! Then there’s Molayne, who heads the Hokulani Observatory and a very good friend of mine. He favors steel types.”

    “They sound like amazing trainers.” Grimsley glanced around for a second and then said, “Nanu mentioned you asking him to join the Elite Four but he refused. I take it you’re still trying to find your fourth member?”

    Kukui nodded and he leaned back against his seat. “Nanu told me if he finds someone that he would let me know.” He paused when a chuckle left him. “He’s not wrong that being an Elite Four has its responsibilities.”

    Grimsley hummed in agreement, and he went back looking through the window. The scenery in front of him changed from the lush grass and trees to more barren land similar to Route 12. There was a steep drop below, and he realized that they were now driving up to the summit. He caught sight of a few Pokémon that looked like stars floating around. They were in different colors: purple, pink, and orange.

    “Do you know what those Pokémon are?” Grimsley asked, pointing at the Pokémon. When Kukui noticed them, he grinned.

    “Those are Minior! They often fall from the sky like shooting stars and hang out around Starfall Hills. Molayne does extensive research on those Pokémon, he can tell you more about them if you like.”

    “I think I would like that,” Grimsley said with a small smile. He continued gazing out of the window.

    When the bus reached the top of Mount Hokulani, it stopped in front of the observatory and everyone jumped off. Hokulani Observatory was a large facility with stainless glass and geometric architecture. A satellite dish settled on the left side of the roof and a round telescope was on the right. The other passengers had already went inside.

    Grimsley stayed where he was while Kukui talked with a man in a polo shirt. A cold breeze drifted by and made him shudder. He rubbed his arms slightly. Small patches of snow were scattered on the ground.

    “One of Molayne’s colleagues says he and Kahili will be with us in a moment,” Kukui said when he returned to him.

    “I don’t mind waiting.” Grimsley turned around to see another mountain covered in snow a far distance from him. “Is that Mount Lanakila?”

    “It is, yeah!” Kukui said, grinning. “The Pokémon League will be at the top of the summit. Before trainers would go to that mountain for their final trial and have to beat the four kahunas in a row. Now instead trainers will go against the Elite Four that best represents Alola, woo!”

    Grimsley hummed out of interest and gave a single nod. “Say, Professor Kukui, you mentioned the reason for creating the Pokémon League is to show the world how great the trainers from Alola are. Was there any incident that inspired you to go ahead with that ambitious undertaking?”

    A nostalgic expression stretched across Kukui’s face. “A while back I traveled through Kanto and challenged the Indigo League. Came out a little short, but the experience left a lasting impact to this day.”

    “That’s very impressive. Was it tough getting all this set up?” he asked, and Kukui responded with a laugh.

    “Of course, cousin! It took me years to prepare the league plans and have the Pokémon League Association approve them.” The grin on Kukui’s face disappeared and he sighed. “Had to convince the big wigs to let me keep the island challenge format.”

    Grimsley knew what Kukui was talking about. In order for the region to form a league there had to be a gym bracket system or something similar in place, and enough trainers to be interested in participating. Most regions settled for the eight gym badges system, but there were some like the Orange Islands where you would only need four. Grimsley imagined how much of a headache it must be for him to handle all this. He offered him an empathetic smile.

    “At least you’re close to having it up and running now.”

    Kukui beamed and raised his fist in the air. “Indeed and I’m pumped for it, woo!”

    His smile widening, Grimsley admired the man’s enthusiasm there. He and Kukui gazed at Mount Lanakila for another minute or so until someone’s voice brought their attention.

    “Sorry for the wait! Was in a research meeting.”

    Grimsley looked over his shoulder to see a tall man with glasses approaching them. He had dirty blonde hair that was fluffy but well kept, and a soft looking face. His clothes were wrinkled and slightly oversized for him. When he greeted them with a warm smile, Grimsley’s heart almost skipped a beat.

    He was very, very handsome. And he couldn’t tear his gaze off from him.

    “Not a trouble at all, cousin!” Kukui’s voice pulled Grimsley away from his dazed gaze. He greeted Molayne with a tight embrace and a pat on his shoulder. After they let go, the professor pointed at Grimsley for him. “Molayne, this is Grimsley from the Unova League. He agreed to give us a few pointers on what it’s like to be in the Elite Four!”

    “A pleasure to meet you.” Grimsley and Molayne shook hands. “Professor Kukui told me that you’re the head of the Hokulani Observatory and that you train steel types.”

    “Indeed on both accounts. I’m very passionate about everything there is to know about space and beyond. As for me training steel types, Kukui and I did the island challenge together and then I became a trial captain not long after.”

    “Molayne doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s an awesome trainer! One time we went against a totem Sandslash, and he used his Dugtrio and Metang to trap him like a Rock Tomb!” Kukui jabbed Molayne’s shoulder with his elbow, which made him chuckle and rub the back of his head.

    “What I did back then isn’t anything special. I just needed to find a way for him to lose momentum! Anyways, Kahili is inside with Sophocles, let’s go.” Molayne gestured his hand for everyone to follow him inside, which they did.

    Upon entering the observatory's main lobby, Grimsley glanced around with keen interest. The ceiling had stars and planets painted all over while the floors pulsed in blue light. Several television screens were attached on the walls, each one showcasing space and science trivia.

    The couple from the bus earlier were talking to the man in the receptionist desk, and next to it there was a large stand with brochures about the observatory. Near the end of the corner there was a woman and a young boy with several bug-like Pokémon that shaped like batteries.

    “Wow, so you take care all of these Charjabug? the woman asked, dropping to her knees to have a closer look at them.

    “Ah huh! Big Mo says they can eat several pounds of food a day. They need that much to store large amounts of electricity!”

    “They look to be very strong, but my flying Pokémon can handle them.” A smug look crossed her face, and the boy laughed.

    “Hey! Once these Charjabug evolve into Vikavolt you’ll be sorry!” When the boy noticed Molayne and Kukui, he beamed. “Big Mo! And Alola, Professor Kukui!”

    “Alola to you too, Sophocles!” Kukui said, grinning.

    Molayne waved and said, “I hope I’m not disrupting anything.”

    “Nah, I was just talking to Kahili about how great our Charjabug are!”

    “I didn’t realize how important the Charjabug here are,” she said.

    “Yes, they helped out a lot with our research and Soffy’s trial.” Molayne faced Grimsley and said, “Oh Grimsley, this is Kahili, and my cousin, Sophocles.”

    “Nice to meet the both of you,” Grimsley said, a small smile tugging on his lips.

    “Kukui told us that you’re from Unova,” Kahili said, hands on her sides. “I’ve been there several times for my golf tournaments. The country club in Castelia City is very nice.”

    “Indeed it is. My family and I were invited there numerous occasions. I never cared all that much about that sport, but my late father enjoyed it.”

    A sad smile crossed Kahili’s face. “Sorry to hear that about your father, but glad to hear someone else appreciates it.”

    Grimsley grunted in gratitude and turned to Sophocles. “And you’re one of the trial captains here, correct?”

    “Ah huh! I give out the Electrium-Z to trainers who pass my trial! Originally I had trainers answer a series of audio questions, but that caused the observatory to black out a few times, eh heh,” Sophocles said with a sheepish laugh.

    Molayne nodded. “His new trial now has trainers solve a puzzle where they rotate the Charjabug until they form a line. Once that’s done, the totem Pokémon appears.”

    “Well I’m sure your new trial will work great!” Kukui said. A Charjabug tugged at his lab coat and he looked down. “Hi there, little fella. Is there something you needed?”

    Another Charjabug started chewing on Grimsley’s scarf, which caused him to yelp and pull it away from the Pokémon. “What is it with Pokémon wanting to eat my scarves?”

    “Looks like it’s time to feed them!” Sophocles chuckled as a third Charjabug chewed on his pants.

    “Hey, get off my golf club!” Kahili screamed as she tried to wiggle the fourth Charjabug off her golf club. “You’re not joking when you said they eat a lot.”

    “Why don’t we go outside and feed them while Grimsley talks to us more about the Pokémon League?” Molayne asked.

    “Sounds good to me,” Grimsley said while straightening his scarf. Molayne, Kukui, and Sophocles gathered all the Charjabug and then they headed out.

    Xxx

    Grimsley and the others stopped at a large hill just below the observatory, Starfall Hills. There was a big open space for the Charjabug to roam around and eat the grass. He sat down with one of the Charjabug on his lap, feeding her the pokepuffs Molayne had handed him.

    “So Grimsley, I already told you how I went through the Indigo League before. How did you get your start in Unova’s Pokémon League?” Kukui asked. He, Sophocles, and Molayne were also giving food to the other Charjabug.

    “It happened not long after I finished my journey through Unova. Back then my mother and I were in a dire financial situation, so I took up gambling to make ends meet. As luck would have it, Alder, our region’s former Champion, thought I had potential as an Elite Four and invited me to be one of its members.” Grimsley gave a sad smile. He gazed down at the Charjabug, who wiggled and made clicking noises. “I wasn’t sure if I could handle it at first, but I took the risk and glad I did.”

    “What sort of responsibilities does an Elite Four have?” Kahili asked.

    “Well there’s accepting challengers that went through the Unova League Conference. On occasion we also have a hand in important league decisions, like appointing or demoting gym leaders, and organizing a variety of competitions. We can even adjust rules for different types of battles like triple and rotation battles.”

    “Fair enough.” Kahili approached Grimsley’s Charjabug and scratched her chin. The Charjabug bobbed her head, as if enjoying it. “I take it the Elite Four does a lot of training just so their battling skills doesn’t go stale? For me it’s important to train both as a golfer and a trainer, even just a little bit.”

    “Of course. There are various training facilities in Unova for us to use, including the ones in the League’s headquarters.”

    “Since Unova’s Elite Four are involved with who gets to be a gym leader, do they act as a mentor to them, too?” Molayne asked after he finished feeding his Charjabug and picked her up.

    “I guess you can say that. Sometimes we would visit a gym and offer advice to the gym leaders on how they can improve.”

    “Gyms? They’re like kahunas in which they specialize in a type, right, Big Mo?” Sophocles asked. The Charjabug he had fed continued to chew on his shoe.

    Molayne nodded. “Kukui mentioned those when he told me of his travels in Kanto. You battle them, and if you win you get what’s called a badge.”

    “I never battled in a gym, but I’ve heard of gym leaders while going to golf tournaments,” Kahili said. “I’ve even met a few of them.”

    “Believe me when I say the gym leaders in Kanto are tough as an Iron Tail!” Kukui said with a chuckle. Kahili groaned and rolled her eyes.

    “Sounds awesome! I’ll have to look into them more later.”

    “You definitely should!” Kukui paused, then said, “Because Alola will be using the island challenge instead of gyms, it’ll work out a bit differently. We already have the tapus choosing the kahunas and them choosing the trial captains. The Elite Four can make sure the trials themselves are safe, and provide the islands any resources they needed, yeah!”

    “Kukui and I have been talking back and forth on how to put this all together, and I think our trainers will like what they see.”

    A large grin stretched across Kukui’s face, and he faced Grimsley. “Here’s something that could be fun, Grimsley. Why don’t you do a couple quick battles with Molayne and Kahili? Assess how well they’re prepared as Elite Four!”

    While Grimsley thought over Kukui’s idea, the Charjabug squealed and jumped off his lap. He looked over his shoulder to see her playing with two other Charjabug. He faced back at Kukui and said, “I see no harm in doing that.”

    “Me neither,” Kahili said. “My Pokémon and I haven’t done any training yet!”

    “It’ll be fun to battle against an Elite Four just to see what it’s like to be one,” Molayne said. “Soffy, can you help me gather the Charjabug first?”

    “Sure, Big Mo!” Sophocles picked up the Charjabug next to him, then he and Molayne began getting the Charjabug together.

    It was a few moments until the Charjabug were lined up. Each one nodded and cheered, happy to be fed. Grimsley and Molayne stood in opposite sides while Kukui, Kahili, and Sophocles moved to where the Charjabug were and watched.

    “Kukui said that you’re into steel types, so I think I’ll start off with Queen!”

    Grimsley grabbed his pokéball and released Queen. The Bisharp crossed her arms and closed her eyes, as if meditating. Molayne straightened his glasses and let out an impressed smile.

    “A Bisharp, huh? In that case, I’ll show off mine, too. Mars, make your mark!”

    Molayne pulled his pokéball out from his jacket and let out his own Bisharp. Mars stomped on his right foot and thrust his arm forward. When Queen noticed him, she jerked her head back and stared at him.

    “Oh wow, two Bisharp? This will be fun,” Kahili said, raising a brow in interest.

    “Grimsley’s Bisharp looks great, but Mars can defeat her easily!” Sophocles said with a confident grin and his chin raised.

    Molayne chuckled and rubbed the back of his head. “Happy to hear you have that much confidence in me. All right then, I won’t disappoint you.” He looked back at Mars, his face now more serious. “Dual Chop, let’s go!”

    Mars’s arms glowed dark green and he rushed at Queen. He struck her twice and left deep cuts, one on her shoulder and another on her leg. Queen winced at the pain on her shoulder and glared at him. With a smile, Grimsley grunted.

    “Starting out strong, huh?” He snapped his fingers, which caused Queen to look at him. “We’ll strike back hard ourselves then!”

    Queen nodded, and her forehead lit up. She rammed onto Mars and their bodies collided. Mars fell on the ground, but he picked himself up quickly and stood up straight.

    “Nice job. Do Sucker Punch next!”

    “Double Team!”

    Just as Queen began charging towards him, Mars made several illusions of himself. She punched at one of them, but her fist went through him and he disappeared. She tried another, only for it to be a clone, too. Eventually the real Mars went behind her and did a low kick on her legs, which made her fall down. After getting up, Queen did an uppercut onto Mars’ face and had him stumbled backwards like someone who was dizzy.

    “Shake it off and then use Night Slash!” Molayne ordered, his voice stronger than Grimsley had heard of him.

    Hearing Molayne’s voice led Mars to get back to his senses. His arms glowed black and he ran towards Queen. Grimsley yelled for her to stay alert, which she did by having her own arm light up in a lighter green aura and blocked her opponent’s assault. The two Bisharp exchanged blows like fencers, sparks flying whenever their blades touched. Everyone on the sidelines was mesmerized by that sight.

    “Go Mars, go!” Sophocles cheered, his arms in the air. Next to him several of the Charjabug jumped and squealed in joy.

    While Mars and Queen continued attacking one another, Grimsley knew their little dance wouldn’t last forever. He snapped his fingers and said, “That’s enough, Queen! Switch gears now!”

    After their blades crossed one last time, Queen kicked Mars to force him to move backwards. Her arms still glowing, she charged straight at her opponent.

    “Distract her and then make your move!” Molayne called out.

    Just as Queen was speeding off, Mars took a deep breath and let out an ear piercing scream. That made his opponent stop and cover her ears. Grimsley and everyone on the sidelines grimaced over the noise. He noticed Mars’ arms glowed dark green, and knew the other Bisharp was going for another Dual Chop. Grimsley already figured what to do next.

    “Stop him to a screeching halt!”

    Before Mars could get close to her, a wave of electricity formed around Queen’s arm and she swung her arm at his direction. The blast went straight at Mars and caused him to drop on one knee and winced.

    “By using Thunder Wave, this gives Queen an advantage over Mars now,” Kukui said as his finger tapped at his chin.

    “Oh no, that’s not good!” Sophocles said, frowning.

    A confident grin stretched across Grimsley’s face. “We have the upper hand now, Queen. X-Scissor!”

    Queen gave her trainer a nod, crossed her arms, and her blades lit up light green.

    Molayne furrowed his brow. “Night Slash!”

    Mars picked himself up and raised his arm, but he twitched and struggled to move further. Queen meanwhile easily slashed his back and left a deep cut there.

    “Night Slash once more!” Molayne yelled urgently.

    “Stop him for good!” Grimsley countered.

    Mars was still grimacing from his paralysis, but his arms glowed black and he bolted off. He thrust his blade at Queen’s face, but she dodged, twirled around, and punched his stomach. Her opponent screeched and collapsed on the ground.

    Queen stared down at him and she stood there heaving. Several seconds after, Mars regained consciousness and raised his hand at her. She smiled and helped him up, supporting him by having his right arm slung around her shoulders. On the sidelines, everyone clapped and all the Charjabug cheered.

    “The both of you were on fire there, woo!” Kukui said with a whistle. Next to him, Kahili nodded.

    “You did great Big Mo, even if you didn’t win!” Sophocles said.

    Molayne offered him an appreciative smile. “Thanks. Grimsley is the far better trainer there.”

    “Now don’t sell yourself short,” Grimsley said. “Tricking Queen with the Double Team and distracting her with Metal Sound are clever ideas. Mars likes to be reckless, which has its ups and downs.”

    “Yeah, I recall that’s a common trait for Pawniard and Bisharp due to their aggressive nature.” Molayne approached Mars and patted him on the shoulder. “I remember the first time I trained him he was very stubborn.”

    “Queen was the same way. My parents were shocked when I showed her to them and asked if I can have her!” Grimsley gazed up at Queen and had his palm rested on her chest.

    “Your battle with Molayne is impressive, but it’s my turn now,” Kahili said as she stepped forward to Molayne’s spot.

    "Of course." Molayne returned Mars and stepped away to join with Kukui and Sophocles on the sidelines.

    "You were splendid there Queen, I'll let you get some rest." Grimsley also returned his Pokémon into her pokéball and pulled out another. This time he released Dice, who lifted his head up and pulled up his shed skin.

    “First time I’ve seen a Scrafty in a while. Now it’s Katsuo’s time to shine!”

    Kahili tossed her pokéball and burst of light popped out. A Toucannon flapped his wings and squawked. Grimsley immediately thought of Roland’s Toucannon he had saved from Team Skull some days ago. He grinned at her.

    “I’ve met a trainer with that Pokémon when I first landed this region. It’ll be interesting how strong yours is. All right Dice, let’s hit hard with Ice Punch!”

    “Brick Break!”

    Dice charged at Katsuo, his fist forming a blue aura. He punch him on the face, which led Katsuo to screech in pain. Some shards of ice appeared where the Toucannon was hit, but he shook those off. He retaliated by having his beak glow white and executed a swift chop on his opponent’s forehead. That made Dice crash on the ground.

    “Hurry before that Scrafty gets up!”

    After chirping in response, Katsuo took off into the air and began spinning like a drill. Dice barely got up when Katsuo’s beak stabbed his chest, leaving a small wound there. As soon as Katsuo backed away, Dice picked himself up and let out deep breaths.

    “Wow, Kahili’s already having a great start!” Sophocles said in awe. Next to him Kukui folded his arms and grinned, just as interested.

    Molayne hummed in agreement. “There’s a reason why she’s a former island champion.”

    The corner of Grimsley’s mouth twitched, but he knew this was only the start of the battle. “Go all out with a hard kick!”

    “Warm up your beak while he’s in the air!”

    Dice pulled up his shredded skin and jumped up high in the air. While waiting, Katsuo flapped his wings wildly and his beak glowed orange. Right after, Dice dived down and kicked Katsuo’s face and made him stumble. Dice lifted his chin and a proud grin was on his face, only for him to wince when small flames burst on his leg. At that instant, Katsuo rammed onto Dice and he fell.

    Grimsley’s eyes grew wide with confusion. “What was that?”

    “Beak Blast burns the opponent making contact with Katsuo,” Kahili said in a smug voice, one hand on her side. “Liked what you see?”

    Grimsley glared at her and gritted his teeth. “Not a bad choice at all, to say the least.”

    “I’ll take that as a compliment. Drill Peck one more time!” Kahili whistled and Katsuo flew up in the air once more.

    “Move and then strike with Dragon Claw!”

    Katsuo spun himself like last time, but before he landed Dice rolled out of the way. Katsuo’s beak got stuck on the ground, and he struggled to pull out. Green flames that turned into claws formed around Dice’s fist, and he slashed him. Katsuo squawked and backed away, a large cut visible on his chest. As both Pokémon stared at one another, flames licked Dice’s leg again and he dropped on one knee.

    “Looks like your foe’s getting tired already, Katsuo.” She lifted her arm up, showing off her Z-bracelet on her wrist. A silver crystal was attached to the slot. “The winds are in our favor now, so let’s finish this. Supersonic Skystrike!”

    Grimsley grimaced when he heard that. Kahili started her dance, her movements fluid and graceful as a Swanna taking the skies. Her pose ended with her stretching her arms like wings, and then both her bracelet and Katsuo lit up with a golden aura. Katsuo launched himself in the air like a rocket, farther than the last few times he took flight. A blast of hot air hit Grimsley and everyone else, causing their clothes to flap.

    “Counter it now!” Grimsley said in desperation.

    Dice still winced from his burns, but he pulled his shedded skin up and jumped up high with his right leg stretched out. Katsuo began diving at an incredible speed, and the two crashed onto each other. An explosion occurred, the smoke obscuring them a brief moment. When the battlefield was cleared, Dice fainted on the ground while Katsuo was still in the air.

    “Dice!” Grimsley rushed to his Pokémon and put his head on his lap. “Are you all right?”

    With a weak groan, Dice gazed up at Grimsley and gave him a thumbs up. Grimsley sighed in relief.

    “Thank goodness. You did great out there.”

    He returned Dice, picked himself up, and stared at the sky with a hard frown. Right now he was nothing more than the one who lost his light... But this loss would make him shine even brighter next time. He gazed down at Dice’s pokéball that he was still holding, and he smiled a little.

    “When one loses, they lose everything. The next thing I’ll look for will be victory, too!” He approached Kahili and stretched out his hand to her. “That was a good match.”

    “Same here.” Kahili accepted the handshake. “Your Scrafty is very energetic there.”

    “I can say the same with your Toucannon. So Supersonic Skystrike, I take it that’s the flying type z-move?”

    “It is. I got the flyinium-z after going against a totem Pokémon in Poni Island.” Kahili turned to her Toucannon and scratched his chin. Katsuo relaxed by her touch. “That other Toucannon was much bigger than him, but Katsuo pulled through.”

    “That’s a lovely little tale there.” Grimsley paused, his face more serious now. “You mastering that z-move alone shows you’re more than capable of being the Elite Four also.”

    “What did I tell you?” I picked the best of the best, yeah!” Kukui said, beaming.

    Grimsley smiled in response. He shifted his gaze to see Sophocles frowning and his head down. Molayne noticed it, too.

    “Is something the matter, Soffy?” his cousin asked, dropping on one knee and touching his shoulder.

    “I know that you’ll be helping Professor Kukui with the League, but what if you have to be away longer than expected?” A few tears streamed down Sophocles’ cheeks and he sniffled. Two of the Charjabug began rubbing onto his legs to comfort him. “When Grimsley talked about being in the Elite Four, it sounds like it’s much more work than I thought.”

    Grimsley’s heart sank. He could tell Sophocles cared for his cousin very much and the thought of them separating devastated the boy.

    “It’s true that Molayne will be busy with the League, but he’ll still help out with the observatory!” Kukui said, a reassuring grin on his face. “When it’s time for him to go, give him one last smile, yeah!”

    “He’s right,” Molayne said with a similar expression. “Researching space is still my passion that I won’t give up anytime soon. I won’t leave forever.”

    Sophocles regarded the men’s words a moment, and he put on a determined expression on his face. “I’ll watch over the observatory while you’re gone. I can handle this, I’m a tough kid!”

    “Now that’s what I like to hear!” Molayne chuckled, and he and Sophocles embraced.

    A soft smile crossed Kahili’s face. “You were excited when you talked to me about the observatory. I’m sure you’ll do great.

    While Grimsley was also touched by Molyane and Sophocles’ affection there, he felt bad for causing this in the first place. He approached Sophocles and cleared his throat.

    “I’m sorry if me talking about the Elite Four upsets you.”

    Sophocles looked up with a confused brow, and then he beamed. “Nah, don’t worry about it. I may be upset, but I’m really happy for Big Mo doing this!”

    “Well I’m glad to hear that.” Grimsley offered him a warm smile.

    “It’s a little past 1pm now,” Molayne said. “Why don’t we head to the Pokémon Center and eat while our Pokémon get healed?”

    “Sounds like a plan!” Kukui said. Grimsley and Kahili also responded that they were fine with that.

    “Great! Sophocles and I need to take the Charjabug inside the observatory first, so we’ll meet you guys right after.” Molayne turned to face the Pokémon. “You all ready to go?”

    All the Charjabug responded by making clicking noises and bouncing. Both Molyane and Sophocles chuckled.

    Everyone headed back to the observatory, taking the uphill trail there. While walking, Grimsley thought back to his battle with Kahili and the z-moves Acerola and Kukui had demonstrated. That proved to him that Alolan trainers were a force to be reckoned with. That made him wonder how Nanu’s z-move would look like in battle.

    “Professor Kukui, you think Nanu will use his z-move if we ever go against each other?” he asked him, and Kukui looked over his shoulder with a raised brow.

    “Hm? Why you asked?”

    “Seeing you, Acerola, and Kahili’s z-moves made me want to battle him even more.”

    Kukui laughed. “Feeling inspired, yeah? To answer your question, yes I believe so. He’s even more experienced with z-moves than us!”

    “Then I’ll just work harder to convince him, then.” Grimsley made a sharp frown. The odds of that happening were less than him winning a cards game, but that wouldn’t stop him from attempting that.

    Xxx

    Mount Hokulani’s Pokémon Center had some people inside already. Molayne had given Mars’ pokéball to Kukui so that he could take it to Nurse Joy while he and Sophocles took the Charjabug back in the observatory. When the professor mentioned that the pokéball was his friend’s, she grinned and happily accepted it. Grimsley and Kahili also lent their Pokémon to her and she said they would be ready very soon.

    The three waited until Molayne and Sophocles arrived before beginning lunch. Everyone gathered around a small table in the food court area eating sandwiches. During their meal Grimsley got to know Kahili and Molayne better. Kahili’s father owned one of the hotel resorts in Akala Island and she often went there to train. Her passion for golf got started when she met with one of the golfers visiting the resort and she begged for her to be her mentor. Molayne not only was the head of the observatory but also the administrator of Alola’s Pokémon Storage System, which impressed Grimsley very much.

    “Since you’re maintaining this region’s Pokémon Storage System, I take it you know Amanita from Unova, Professor Fennel’s sister?” Grimsley asked before taking a bite of his food.

    “Yes, I have. I visited there several times for conferences and sometimes we would meet up. We still keep in touch on occasion.”

    “I talked to her once or twice before, and I was surprised she was only a few years older than me!” Sophocles said while chewing his food. After swallowing, he drank his soda. “She knows a lot about computers, more than me!”

    “I remember when Molayne first began this project he would call me and panic whenever the storage wasn’t working,” Kukui said in between bites. “Very happy it’s a huge success in the end, yeah!”

    Grimsley took a sip of his drink, then asked, “Since you’ll be in the Elite Four soon, will it be tough balancing your league duties along with the other stuff you’re doing?”

    “It’s true I’m having my plate full, but I’m certain that I can manage. The Pokémon storage itself I only needed to keep up maintenance once in a while.”

    “I too will be balancing between the Pokémon League and golf, but I’m used to training a lot so it works out.” Kahili stole a glance at Kukui. “Besides, Kukui wouldn’t stop asking me unless I said yes.”

    Kukui let out a large laugh. “I thought having you on board would be great! But yeah, I’m glad that both you and Molayne agreed to do this!”

    After eating another piece of his sandwich, Grimsley wiped his mouth and smiled. “The league is shaping up to be marvelous right now. I wish all of you the best of luck.”

    Both Molayne and Kahili gave him appreciative smiles.

    “Thank you, we’ll do our very best!” Molayne said.

    The next minute or so everyone was finishing up eating their meals. Grimsley looked up at the television screen on the wall, which was broadcasting the news. It showed a man reporting the weather, the next five days sunny, then he let one of the other reporters take over.

    “Earlier today Aether Foundation President Lusamine Jubert held a press conference over at the organization’s headquarters in Aether Paradise. She was joined by Vice Chief Wicke Santana and Aether Branch Chief Faba Leroy.”

    The screen cuts to the press conference. One blonde lady in fashionable clothing was behind the podium. Besides her was another woman with glasses who also dressed nicely and a green haired man wearing goggles and in a lab coat. Grimsley couldn’t stop staring at the light haired woman.

    “As you know, on occasion there have been sightings of Ultra Wormholes, a wormhole that connects to different worlds, in the skies,” the Aether president said as several people flashed their cameras at her. “Legends say that fearsome Pokémon, the Ultra Beasts, would come out from those wormholes. And today, I have proof of that legend to be true.”

    “President Lusamine then proceeds to show security footage from the conservatory. A wormhole appears with an unknown species of Pokémon coming out from there. That led one of the trainers visiting there to battle it,” the reporter said as video footage of that event was seen.

    There was a trainer and her Pokémon, a sea lion creature in frills, going against another Pokémon that resembled a light blue jellyfish and a golden aura surrounding it. Both Pokémon exchanged a series of poison and water attacks that collided with one another in brilliant sparks and explosions. While watching that footage, Grimsley raised an eyebrow at the mysterious Pokémon’s appearance and thought he had recognized that trainer before. Kukui stood up and slammed his palms on the table.

    “That’s Selene!” Kukui yelled, pointing at the screen.

    “Isn’t that the trainer you told me that met with Tapu Koko?” Molayne asked.

    “Yeah! I let her and Hau go on a tour to Aether Paradise. I didn’t think they would encounter an Ultra Beast there.” When Kukui finished, the screen changed back to Lusamine and her co-chiefs.

    “With the appearance of that Ultra Beast, I’m certain there are more of those out there from other dimensions. My organization and I will do in our every power to protect the citizens of Alola from these threats!” Lusamine said with brimming eyes and her arms stretched out, then the screen went back to the reporter.

    “The Aether Foundation have advised that if you do see an Ultra Beast or Ultra Wormhole that you stay a safe distance from them as much as possible. Back to you, Kerry,” the reporter finished.

    “Ultra Beasts? Does that mean Alola is in danger?” one of the trainers inside asked.

    “I really like Aether, but can they really protect us?” another trainer asked.

    Everyone that watched the news began talking in tense voices. Grimsley knitted his brow and stroked his chin.

    "Everyone's getting worried after that news," Kahili said.

    "Understandable since we're dealing with beings from other dimensions," Molayne said. A small smile pulled on his lips. "I'm sure though the Aether Foundation will make sure we're safe."

    "I hope you're right, Big Mo." Sophocles hung his head down and frowned.

    Kukui leaned towards Grimsley and told him in a low voice, “I promised that I would give you my wife’s research on Ultra Wormholes. I brought these with me before we left.” He pushed forward a small booklet towards him, and Grimsley quickly flipped through the pages. There were several graphs and pictures that he didn’t look too closely at, but he had no doubt this was well researched.

    “All right, I’ll read them fairly soon,” Grimsley said with a firm nod and put the booklet away. The more the Ultra Beasts were brought up, the more he couldn’t stop thinking about them.

    There was a short silence from everyone. Molayne was checking through his tablet and he gasped.

    “Oh I almost forgot! Tonight is the Minior shower!”

    “Minior shower?” Grimsley asked, staring at him in confusion.

    Sophocles beamed and said, “Every so often the Minior fall like meteor showers! They mostly drop in Starfall Hills where we can see them up close!”

    “I remember seeing them the first time during my island trials,” Kahili said, a soft smile on her lips. “There were so many of them in different colors, I couldn’t stop looking at them.”

    “Like candies in the sky!”

    “I talked to you about Minior earlier today,” Kukui said. “Why don’t you stick around here a while longer and watch with us?”

    “While we wait, I can give you the tour of the observatory,” Molayne said. “We have some of the most cutting edge technology here.”

    “That does sound lovely, and a great way to take our minds off from that news broadcast. All right, I’ll stay.” This would be a great way to relax, and Grimsley was here for a vacation. Downtime it is.

    Xxx

    When it was sunset, everyone returned back to Starfall Hills. The skies quickly turned dark and stars began to pop up. The air grew colder than earlier in the afternoon, everyone’s breath becoming visible.

    Kahili and Molayne let out Katsuo and Mars respectively, and so Grimsley released Dice and Queen. Queen and Mars did a series of friendly spars while Katsuo soared in the air. Dice played with Sophocles’ Togedemaru, Gigi, the two often rolling on the grass to see who would get to the bottom first. Grimsley lay down with his arms behind his head, the grass tickling his cheeks and hands.

    “I really enjoyed the tour of the observatory, Molayne,” Grimsley told him. “Sophocles’s trial was neat, and that telescope was fascinating to look through.”

    “Your totem Togedemaru is cute, but boy does she packed quite a lot of electricity,” Kahili said as she rubbed her hand. “I can still feel that shock from her.”

    “Same here. Not to mention her fur is hard as steel,” Grimsley said while picking himself back up.

    Earlier today Molayne had taken everyone to where Sophocles’s trial was held. Inside two scientists put some of the Charjabug into a machine and demonstrated how it worked; each time the Pokémon would line up like a bingo card. He and Kahili tried it out a few times each, the puzzles not too hard for them. Grimsley also got to see Rosie, who was much larger than Gigi. He started petting her, but flinched when her fur shocked his hand. Kahili also got to pet it, and she too got startled when her hand got shocked.

    “Sorry about that,” Sophocles said with an embarrassed laugh. “Again, Rosie gets too excited when she gets petted.”

    “If you think that’s bad, I had my Magnezone use its electric attacks on me a bunch of times, woo!” Kukui said, and Grimsley’s eyes flew wide.

    “What can I say, you’re very passionate towards your work,” Molayne said and chuckled. He gazed up at the sky and gasped. “Oh, the Minior are coming!”

    Everyone including the Pokémon gazed up at the sky with similar expressions. Several large rocks that appeared to be the Minior dropped and littered the hill. Dice and Gigi approached one of them and poked its shell.

    “The Minior gets turned to rock due to accumulating a lot of dust while coming here,” Molayne said to Grimsley. “Their shells then gets cracked, exposing their core.”

    Grimsley stared at him in confusion, but then he saw that the Minior’s shell started cracking. Dice and Gigi got startled and backed away from the one they were touching. Soon all of the Minor’s shells broke and they popped up like confetti. Their bodies looked like little stars and in different colors.

    “Hi there little guy, this is your first time coming here?” Sophocles asked when a purple one floated by him. The Minior nodded and rubbed against him, causing Sophocles to laugh.

    The other Minior approached everyone else. Molayne, Kukui, and Kahili chuckled when one sat on Mars’s head and he tried to figure out where it was. A few of them chased Katsuo while he was flying and screeching. A blue Minior floated by in between Dice and Gigi, the two beaming and jumping with it. An orange one approached Grimsley and he smiled at it.

    “I can see why this is called Starfall Hills,” he said, just as Queen walked up beside him. The Minior squealed and rubbed both Girmsley’s and Queen’s cheeks before joining with the other Minior. He looked over his shoulder to see Queen smiling a little.

    Everyone watched the Minior playing with the Pokémon and each other a while longer. Eventually, they floated up towards the sky once more.

    “After their core is exposed,” Molayne said, “their bodies become fragile. They eventually perish unless you use a pokéball.”

    “Really?” Grimsley asked, blinking. When both Molayne and Kukui nodded, he frowned. “How unfortunate.”

    He looked up to see several Minior already turning into dust. As more and more Minior disappeared, Dice swung his head all around and he frowned. Queen went to him and patted his shoulder for support. Gigi reacted similarly by chirping and running around in circles. Sophocles picked her up and cradled her against his chest.

    “Looks like both Dice and Gigi are sad that they’re going away,” Kahili said with a small frown.

    A sad smile appeared on Sophocles’ face. “On my first Minior shower I cried when they disappeared and I couldn’t do anything about it. Big Mo then told me they’re happy with the few moments they have here and I shouldn’t be sad.” After Sophocles finished, his cousin rested his palms on his shoulders.

    “I couldn’t agree more,” Kukui said. “We should cherish every moment we have with our Pokémon.”

    Grimsley couldn’t help but steal a glance at Queen. He loved all his Pokémon dearly, but her loss would be the most devastating due to her being his first one and how much they went through together. As if reading his mind, Queen gripped on his shoulder and gave him a firm nod. He was taken aback by her response, but he grinned and touched her shoulder back. When Dice cried and awkwardly sandwiched between them, Grimsley chuckled and patted his forehead.

    “Even though this ends on a bittersweet note, I’m glad to have witnessed this,” he said and looked back up to see more Minior perishing, glittering the sky like fireworks. He also liked to think those meteor Pokémon enjoyed their stay here while it lasted. This was the most beautiful sight he had seen in a long while.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  17. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Hi, so got new chapter here! As you may noticed, I have this titled "Pursuit, Part One". Originally this was going to be one chapter and only Grimsley's POV. His first few and latter scenes don't seem to flow together, so I seperated them. And that's before I decided to add a couple Nanu scenes for good measure oops.

    Camp Nano was going fairly good, wrote 11K so far. Then after that, kinda ran out of gas lol. Counting Chapter 10, I probably have 5 chapters of backlog, but they're very rough so updates might be on a monthly basis still.

    Besides that, at Grimsley and Molayne's scene yes I came up with game knockoffs for Mario Kart, Smash Bros, and Mortal Kombat. Funny enough, Smash Bros did their Persona 5/Joker update some days ago, and MK 11 was just released. I watched a playthrough of MK 11's story mode recently, and oh man it's wild haha.

    As always, thanks to bobandbill for the great betaing! Also thanks to The Great Butler for giving me permission to use Antimony as Colress's surname!

    One last thing! Apparently Foul Play was tied for Best Character Dynamic in the recent Serebii Awards. Usually I'm eh over awards, but nonetheless thanks everyone who voted and nominated!

    Chapter Nine
    Pursuit (Part One)


    Behind the observatory there was a smaller building that was Molayne’s office and living space. Everyone slept there for the night including Grimsley, and this morning he woke up early to read Professor Burnet’s extensive research on Ultra Wormholes.

    Apparently the Ultra Wormholes were a very special occurrence and believed to lead to a different dimension. There were some studies from Sinnoh, Unova, and Hoenn that supported that theory. For instance, there was an incident that occurred a few years ago involving the legendary Pokémon Palkia, Dialga, and Giratina. Burnet also mentioned how in Alolan folklore there would be tales of fearsome Pokémon, the Ultra Beasts, coming from the Ultra Wormholes and fighting with the guardian deities.

    While reading, Grimsley sat on the couch with coffee and toast on the table. After another bite of his toast, he scratched the back of his neck and sighed. Someone tapped on his shoulder, so he turned around and flinched upon seeing Professor Kukui grinning at him.

    “What do you think of Magnolia's research so far?” he asked.

    “To be honest, I don’t understand almost half of the words she used in her writing.” Grimsley rubbed his eyes, and Kukui chuckled.

    “Well, she’s a scientist, yeah! You got an idea of what she’s trying to say, right?”

    “I think so. When Burnet says there are different dimensions, does she mean like the world Zossie and Dulse of the Ultra Recon Squad come from?”

    “Most likely, yeah. According to her, the Ultra Beasts come from worlds different to ours, hence why they’re considered different from Pokémon in our folklore.”

    Grimsley made a slight bob of his head. “How about the Ultra Recon Squad? Does she know them?”

    “The Dimensional Lab and Aether are collaborating together on researching Ultra Wormholes, so yes she’s already aware of them.” A wide grin stretched across Kukui’s face, and he had his hands on his sides. “The offer still stands, cousin.”

    Grimsley raised a brow. “Huh? What offer?”

    “Meeting my wife, of course! If you want, I can have her explain more of her research to you through videophone, yeah!”

    While considering Kukui’s offer, Grimsley gulped his coffee. The brow on his forehead knitted. Originally he had told him it wasn’t necessary, but now he was reconsidering. Besides her research, there were a few other questions he had for her. He set aside his cup on the table, and looked up at Kukui with a small smile.

    “Sure, why not? I’ve got nothing to lose.”

    “Awesome! I’m sure she’ll be thrilled talking to you!”

    “Are you two talking about Ultra Wormholes?” Kahili asked as she approached them. She held her own cup of coffee with one hand.

    “Grimsley will be talking with Professor Burnet later today so that he can learn more about them from her, woo!”

    Kahili sipped her coffee, a small smile tugging on her lips. “I swear, you get all lovey-dovey each time you mention her.”

    “What can I say, I’m still Captivated by her!” he said with a wink. That made Kahili groan, and even Grimsley rolled his eyes at that pun.

    “How about you, Kahili?” Grimsley asked her. “What are your thoughts on this?”

    “I’m not sure, to be honest.” Kahili put her cup down on the coffee table, crossed her arms, and raised her chin. “I’ve heard tales of strong Pokémon not from around here. And now a possibility of them being real and a threat? I hope I’m prepared for that.”

    Kukui grinned. “Are you kidding? You’re a former island champion, so you’re more than prepared!

    Grimsley blinked, also taken aback by her response. Kahili seemed like a confident person from the way she battled. Nonetheless, he hummed in agreement.

    “I was impressed with your battle skills yesterday. You should be fine.”

    Kahili gave them an appreciative smile. “You’re right! If it comes to that, my Pokémon are capable of handling them!”

    “That’s the spirit, woo!” Kukui said, pumping his fist in the air.

    Kahili chuckled. “I better get going now. Can’t skip out on my daily training exercises!”

    She waved them goodbye before departing. As soon as she was gone, Kukui faced back at Grimsley.

    “We can talk to my wife during her lunch break, which is a few hours from now.”

    “That’s fine. I don’t mind waiting.” Grimsley leaned against the couch, his arms over his head. He hoped talking with Professor Burnet would make more sense of the Ultra Wormholes.

    Xxx

    It was late morning when Nanu woke up and took a shower. He hadn't had one in a few days, and both Persian and the Meowth cringed at his presence, so he made himself do some basic hygiene practice.

    He stood still for several minutes, letting the hot water rain down on his face and skin. Steam started to build up around him. On the few occasions he forced himself to take a shower, it actually felt nice. He started thinking about what had happened yesterday.

    He was at his desk, playing with his kendama as a way to destress himself. A couple of his Meowth tried to catch the ball on the string, but he told them not to do that. He left the television on, which was broadcasting the afternoon news. When the news began reporting the Aether Foundation's press conference, he stopped and watched.

    The video of a young trainer with a Brionne facing against UB Symbiont was shown. His stomach sunk, shocked that a child would go against such a dangerous creature. The Ultra Beasts were supposed to be classified, so Interpol most likely had a field day with that.

    Charlotte was with Faba and Lusamine, though the newscaster had said her real first name and not her middle one. Lusamine announced that the Ultra Beasts were coming, and that her organization would protect Alola from them. After that, the reporters bombarded her with questions and the photographers kept flashing pictures.

    Back in the present, Nanu let out a deep sigh and his shoulders slumped. Looker and Anabel had already informed him of the Ultra Wormhole in Aether Paradise, but he was still stunned when it was on the news. He couldn't stop thinking about that press conference ever since. He turned the faucet off, dried himself with a towel, and stepped out of the shower.

    After Nanu put on some clothes, he walked to the front office. Two of the Meowth were playing with his Z-ring bracelet he had left on the desk. He shooed the cats away and put the bracelet on his wrist. He sat down, turning on his computer.

    He pulled up Aether Foundation's website. The main home page had several pictures of the employees with various Pokémon. On the right side was the news bulletin with the latest post being about the press conference. He clicked on the "Read More" link, and he was sent to a new page that had information on that. So far it repeated the same thing that was mentioned on the news. On the bottom was a video of the press conference, so he clicked on it and let it play.

    “With the appearance of that Ultra Beast, I’m certain there are more of those out there from other dimensions. My organization and I will do in our every power to protect the citizens of Alola from these threats!”

    Nanu watched the video on repeat several times. When he was tired of it, he leaned back on his chair and stared at the ceiling for a while. Protect the citizens of Alola from these threats. Nanu couldn't help but snort. Not even the International Police had done that right and look what had happened now.

    His gaze fell at the postcard from Charlotte. He sat back straight and picked it up. Nanu reread Charlotte's warning, and then stared at the computer screen. In the video Charlotte stood there calm and smiling, but her fidgeting fingers and shifty glances said otherwise.

    "Could this be what she's warning me about?" he muttered to himself and furrowed his brow. He stared down at the phone on his desk. "Maybe I should give her a call."

    He was about to pick the receiver up, but stop his hand midway through. There could be a chance Aether had their phones recorded, and he didn't want to blow her cover. With a frustrated sigh, he slammed his hand on the desk.

    He still wanted to at least let her know he got her message, but how? Anabel and Looker were on their way to Poni Island right now. Nanu recalled Dimensional Labs working with Aether. If there was someone from there that could contact Charlotte...

    Nanu's eyes grew wide with realization. There was one person there who probably talked often with her. He picked the phone up and dialed the number. It was a few rings until someone answered.

    "Professor Kukui speaking, yeah!"

    "Hi, Kukui. You sound excited as ever."

    "Nanu? Oh, did you have a suggestion on who should be on the Elite Four?"

    Nanu forced himself to not roll his eyes. "No, not yet. Actually, I wonder if you can do me a favor."

    "Sure, cousin! What kind of favor?"

    "Your wife talk with the Aether folks often, yes?"

    "Dimensional Labs and Aether Foundation often collaborate together on research, yeah! Why you asked?"

    "There's a message I want to give to someone there. The Assistant Branch Chief Char--" Nanu stopped there, realizing he almost slipped up. He cleared his throat. "Wicke Santana."

    "Is that all? Couldn't you just call or send her an email?"

    Nanu's throat turned dry. "It's complicated. Let's just say we go way back and it's a personal matter."

    "Oh. All right, I won't force you to tell me anymore than that. What did you want to tell her?"

    Before Nanu responded, he gazed back at Charlotte's message once more. A small smile formed on his lips.

    "Tell her Kahuna Nanu thanks her for the postcard she sent me, and I'll be more Earth friendly from now on. Also that Poni Island's weather is good right now."

    "Is that all?" Kukui said in confusion. He chuckled right after. "No problem then, yeah! I'm about to have Grimsley talk with Magnolia later today, so I can let her know then."

    That made Nanu immediately jump out of his seat. "Wait, Grimsley's with you?"

    "Yeah! We're at the Hokulani Observatory right now. He wanted to know more about other dimensions, so I suggested he talk with her."

    "He does now, huh?" Nanu said flatly as he sat back down. A part of him wondered if he had saw that news conference too. "Hopes he gets something out of it."

    "I'm sure he will, yeah! I better get back inside the observatory now. You take care, cousin!"

    "Thanks, Kukui. And same to you."

    Nanu hung up and gave out a deep sigh. He hoped that Burnet would give Charlotte that message as soon as possible. He shifted his head to see the two Meowth that had played with his bracelet earlier glaring at him.

    "What you guys want?" he asked, his lips twitching in annoyance. One of the Meowth lifted an empty bowl with her paws and she cried again. Nanu narrowed his eyes. "Okay I'll get the food. Give me a minute."

    Nanu got up and headed to the cabinet where he stored the Meowth's food in, the two Meowth following him behind. The several other Meowth he passed by were either sleeping, playing, or scratching furniture.

    When he had left Interpol, he didn't think he would end up the island kahuna living in the police station with a bunch of stray Meowth. And now, it seemed he wasn’t done with Interpol just yet.

    Xxx

    By early afternoon, Kukui asked Molayne if he and Grimsley could use his videophone to call his wife. Molayne chuckled and also joked how he missed talking to her already, which made Kukui laugh.

    After Molayne left them alone, Kukui dialed Burnet’s number and they waited a few rings until the screen lit up with her face. She had dark skin like her husband, and her white hair was held with a large headband. Instead of a lab coat or formal clothing, she dressed like as if she was about to go to the gym or for a run. Behind her, there was a bookshelf and a poster board with various charts, pictures, and announcements on there.

    “Hm? Molayne, is that you?” When she recognized Kukui’s face, she grinned. “Oh, hi honey! I thought Molyane’s calling because his number showed on my screen. So you’re in his office now?”

    “Yeah! I asked him if I can talk to you for a moment and he’s cool with it.”

    “Ah, all right.” Burnet now noticed Grimsley, and her face lit up. “And the man next to you, is that who I think he is?”

    “If you’re thinking Grimsley from the Unova Elite Four, then yeah! He’s interested in talking about Ultra Wormholes with you!” Kukui jabbed Grimsley on the shoulder with his elbow and stepped away. Grimsley gave him a blank stare, and then he sat down and faced the screen.

    “Alola, Professor Burnet,” Grimsley said, waving at her.

    Burnet’s grin grew even wider and she squealed. “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s you! Back in Unova, I would watch you and the other Elite Four on TV. Those battles are fun to watch!”

    Grimsley raised a curious brow. “Oh? Which one is your favorite?”

    “Probably the one with you and Alder! Your guys’ Pokémon are such powerhouses!”

    A small smile tugged on Grimsley’s lips. That was one of the exhibition battles for a tournament he and Alder had participated in. Alder’s Pokémon were indeed strong, including his ace, Vix the Volcarona. He lost that match as expected, but he also learned a lot during that battle.

    “Glad that my colleagues and I were able to entertain you.”

    “And how!” Burnet giggled, and then asked, “So, what’s a hotshot trainer like you doing here in Alola?”

    “Well, I’m here for a little vacation. I met up with your husband, and he told me how you’re an expert in other dimensions. I recall that you used to be a researcher in Unova.”

    Burnet nodded and let out a low hum. “Before my main research was on dreams, but then I was offered work here in Alola and I couldn’t resist coming here.”

    “Right. Anyways, I read some of your research, and I have a few questions I want to ask.”

    “Sure, I can spare a few minutes with you. What you want to know?”

    Grimsley considered what he wanted to ask first. “You mentioned in your research that Ultra Beasts have appeared according to Alolan folklore. Are those stories true?”

    “Can’t say. There are several accounts of the Ultra Beasts and our guardian deities going against each other. Like all legends, hard to know how much is true.”

    “Perhaps your legends are more accurate than you think,” Grimsley said in a low voice. He stroked his chin. “I saw one of those Ultra Wormholes in Melemele Island several days ago.”

    Burnet’s face slipped into a more serious expression. “Yes, Melemele Island was where one of the several dimension disturbances that happened recently took place. Akala Island had one a few days ago, and another one in Aether Paradise. The Aether president did a press conference on that yesterday.”

    Right, that news report that aired yesterday and caused everyone unease in the Pokémon Center, and where the fair-looking woman who proclaimed that her organization would protect Alola from the Ultra Beasts. Grimsley pressed his lips flat and furrowed his brow.

    “That reminds me, Kukui told me that Aether and the Dimensional Research Lab are working together. You happen to talk with Ms. Lusamine over what was revealed in that press conference?”

    Burnet nodded. “I sent her the results of that specific dimensional disturbance, and we discussed that over the phone. Her guests, the Ultra Recon Squad, have been tracking the Ultra Wormholes also, and their readings are the same.”

    Grimsley flinched, and he cleared his throat. “I’ve encountered them before. They claimed to be from another world. Do you believe them?”

    “I do, and they even showed me one of their Ultra Beasts. My field of study is in dimensions, after all!”

    Grimsley grunted, and he looked over his shoulder to see Kukui leaning against the wall and folding his arms against his chest. They exchanged blank stares with one another, and then Grimsley returned to the screen.

    “So what happens now?”

    “I’ll still look out for more wormholes and update Aether and the Ultra Recon Squad on them.” Burnet’s face softened. “Thanks to these recent developments, I think I’m much closer to solving the mystery of Ultra Wormholes!”

    The way Burnet sounded excited made Grimsley’s skin crawl for some reason. He smiled back out of respect.

    “You seemed very passionate towards your work. I’m sure you’ll reach that goal sooner than later.”

    “Thanks, that means a lot!” At that instant, someone yelled to Burnet that they finished with their latest analysis and she turned to their direction. “All right, I’ll check them out in a little bit!” she called to them. She looked back at Grimsley and said, “I have to get back to work very soon. Maybe we can chat again, sometime!”

    “That would be lovely. It’s been a pleasure talking with you.”

    “Same here! I hope you enjoy your stay in Alola!”

    Kukui stepped forward and flashed a grin at his wife. “Before you go, I had a call from Kahuna Nanu. He wants you to give a personal message to Assistant Branch Chief Wicke.”

    “Hm? What kind of message?” she asked.

    “He wanted to thank her for the postcard she had sent him. He’ll also be more Earth friendly from now on, and that Poni Island’s weather is great now, yeah!”

    A confused look spread across Burnet’s face, and then she smiled. “Sure, I can let Wicke know the next time I speak with her.”

    “Awesome! I’ll give you another call later tonight, Maggie pie! You take care!”

    “I can’t wait. Talk to you again soon, sweetie!” She blew him a kiss on screen and hung up.

    Grimsley raised a curious brow. That was an odd request from the kahuna there.

    “Kahuna Nanu called you earlier?” Grimsley asked. Earlier Kukui went outside on the balcony, so he assumed Nanu had talked to him then.

    “He did. Apparently he and Wicke go back.” Kukui shrugged, and then released a happy sigh. “Magnolia’s great, isn’t she yeah?”

    Grimsley blinked, a little confused about what Kukui meant by that. Friends? Lovers? He decided that was not his business right now.

    “Yes, she seems like a bright woman.” Grimsley frowned. “I can’t help but feel something’s going on with Aether and the Ultra Recon Squad.”

    “How come?” Kukui asked, raising a brow.

    “You heard what happened in the Unova League over four years ago? Everyone thought the three dragons were only from legends, but they were then came back to life.” Grimsley dragged out a sigh and stared up at the ceiling. “Seems like it would be the same case here.”

    Kukui’s face fell, but then he gave him an understanding smile. “I get your concern, cousin. Like Molayne, though, I think Aether will do more good than harm.” He patted Grimsley’s shoulder. “Come on, he’s cooking some burgers that will make you your mouth melt!”

    “Food does sound great now.” Grimsley rose out of his seat and followed Kukui out of the office.

    By the time they arrived in the dining hall, Molayne, Kahili, and Sophocles had already gathered around the table and eating their meal. A few plates of burgers and cans of soda were set aside, so Grimsley sat down and grabbed his.

    “So how did your conversation with Professor Burnet go?” Molayne asked after he swallowed his piece.

    “She told me a little bit about her research and its progress.” Grimsley paused to chew on his burger. The meat was plump and juicy while the vegetables were a little crunchy but fresh. “Now I’m even more interested in her research.”

    “Have you checked out the library in Malie City? I’m sure there are dozens of books on alternate dimensions there.”

    “I did, actually. I was reading some of Alola’s history there, and then I met with Nanu’s son, Iokua.”

    After Kahili finished gulping on her soda, she gave him a curious stare. “Really? I’ve met Iokua and his wife a few times before. They’re sweet people.”

    “Isn’t he the librarian with brown hair and who always dresses nice?” Sophocles asked. “He’s been very helpful whenever I go visit there.”

    “That sounds about right.” Grimsley washed his throat with his drink. “Perhaps I’ll pay the library another visit. Professor Burnet did say that the folklore is related to the ultra wormholes.”

    Kukui flashed him a grin. “Great idea, cousin! You’ll get to learn more of our history and culture also, yeah!”

    The library would be his next destination, Grimsley decided when he was almost done with his food and with a knitted brow. He could do more than just research on Alola and alternate dimensions there.

    Xxx

    When evening came, Grimsley was outside of the balcony of Molayne’s house. The sun had just set, and already the stars sparkled like diamonds.

    “A beautiful evening, isn’t it?” someone asked from behind. Grimsley turned around to see Molayne approaching him.

    “It is. I’m able to see the stars clearer here than in Castelia City.”

    Molayne chuckled, and he joined him. “Yeah, whenever I visited Castelia there was a lot of pollution. There’s less of that in Alola.”

    “I can tell.” Grimsley paused, and he frowned. “Your love for science reminds me of… someone I knew before.” He wanted to mentally slap himself for casually mentioning Colress that way, but he couldn’t help himself making that comparison.

    “Oh?”

    “His name was Colress, and he’s also from Unova. His research was--” He cleared his throat and said in his best Colress impersonation, “Bringing out the power of Pokémon!”

    Molayne’s face brightened. “Oh, you mean Mr. Antimony!”

    “You had met him?” Grimsley asked with wide eyes, and Molayne nodded.

    “He came here a few days ago to research Rosie. He thinks the z-rings and z-power are what brings out a Pokémon’s power.”

    “That’s what he told me when we bumped into each other recently.” Grimsley narrowed his eyes and lowered his head. “We used to be close, but after a series of mishaps we aren’t talking to each other.”

    Molayne regarded him for a moment, and then he did a single nod. “I understand. I won’t ask further if you don’t want me to.”

    “Thanks, I appreciate it.” Grimsley paused. He wanted to get to know Molyane better, so he asked, “What do you do in your spare time?”

    “I love playing video games, especially with Soffy. He’s a menace in Torkoal Kart and Ultimate Wreck Bros!”

    “Marshal and Alder likes Ultimate Wreck Bros, too. They also play this very violent one called Deadly Payback.” Grimsley often would see them play one of those games in the lounge, and sometimes they invited him to join them. He only played those games a few times; Ultimate Wreck Bro was mindless fun while Deadly Payback he rolled his eyes at the scenes whenever the fighter that lost got chopped in half and their guts spilled out.

    “Oh, that one is too gory for my and Soffy’s taste. His parents would hate me if I let him play that!”

    Grimsley chuckled. “Glad to see you’re looking out for him.”

    “He’s mature enough to play games with violence and such, but we set some boundaries for him.”

    Grimsley hummed in agreement. “I’ve only been here a couple days, but I can tell you two care for each other.”

    Molayne shifted his gaze at the sky. A sad smile pulled on his lips.

    “Soffy and I don’t have any siblings, so we act like brothers to each other. That’s why I trust him in watching over the observatory.”

    “From what I saw, I think he’ll do great.”

    Facing back, Molayne beamed. “Thanks, that means a lot.”

    They gave each other a longing gaze. Molayne’s hand slipped onto Grimsley’s, squeezing his knuckles. Grimsley flinched and his heart raced. He wasn’t sure if Molayne did that on purpose or not, but he welcomed his touch nonetheless.

    “Big Mo! Big Mo!” Sophocles yelled, rushing at them. That caused Grimsley and Molayne to let go of each other’s hands. “The PC storage is down again!”

    Molayne frowned at Grimsley, as if apologizing to him. He faced Sophocles, smiling at him.

    “All right, I’ll have a look. Shouldn’t take too long, maybe fifteen minutes at most.”

    “Okay! After that, can we finish up Ultimate Wreck Bro’s new story mode?”

    “I think we’ll have time for that.” Molayne looked over his shoulder at Grimsley. “Grimsley can even join us!”

    After some consideration, Grimsley said, “Sure, that sounds fun.”

    Sophocles jumped and cheered. “Cool! More players is always good!”

    All three began to head back inside, Grimsley following behind the cousins. His right thumb rubbed on the knuckles of his other hand, Molayne’s warm touch still there. He gazed at the night sky once more, still thinking the stars were prettier here than in Castelia City.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  18. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Chapter Ten
    Pursuit (Part Two)


    The next morning Grimsley went to the Pokémon Center. When he arrived, several trainers were there. Most were either watching the morning news or eating breakfast. Two trainers had risen out of their chairs and exited the building, ignoring him. The nurse at the desk was helping out the few trainers waiting in line, and beside her was a Pokémon that resembled a living lei. Grimsley mused that some or most of the trainers were here visiting the observatory.

    He thought that Iris would have liked to come here, too. A beat. Oh crap, he hadn’t contacted her since arriving!

    He rushed to the video phone and dialed her number. It was late afternoon in Unova, so it shouldn't be too much of a disturbance for her. He waited until Iris picked up the phone. Upon seeing him, she grinned ear to ear.

    "Oh my gosh, Grimsley! I thought you would call earlier!"

    "Sorry about that. I was extremely busy."

    "I bet!" Iris raised her chin high. "Having too much fun in Alola, hm?"

    The corner of Grimsley's upper lip twitched. "Not exactly. Many things happened while I was there."

    "Well then, tell me!" Iris demanded, and for the duration of their conversation Grimsley told her his adventures in Alola so far.

    Iris was surprised when he told her about the wormholes and meeting beings from another world. She was even more stunned that Colress had been with the Ultra Recon Squad. Like when he had talked about him to his mother, Grimsley asked that they not talk about him for the time being and Iris respected his wishes. He then mentioned about going into the abandoned Thrifty Megamart and his battle with Mimikins.

    "Oh wow, so that Mimikyu gave you her z-crystal? I thought only young trainers taking the island challenge can get them!"

    "I thought so, too. Mimikins enjoyed our battle and gave me the Z-crystal as thanks."

    "Heh, that's awfully nice of her! Do you have it with you?"

    Grimsley nodded and pulled the Ghostinum-Z crystal out from his kimono's pocket. He raised it in front of the screen, and Iris's face lit up.

    "Oh wow, first time seeing one of those! Are you practicing its Z-move now?"

    "I've been practicing its dance, but I need a Z-bracelet to have the Z-move fully work."

    "Huh, so kinda like Mega Evolution?"

    Grimsley flinched upon hearing that. The trainer needed a Keystone and their chosen Pokémon's Mega Stone. He knew Mega Evolution firsthand thanks to Colress. Grimsley's eyes narrowed.

    "I would like us to not talk about that, either," he said, his voice sharper than intended. Iris blinked in confusion at first, and then gasped when she realized what he meant.

    "Sure, we don't have to mention that either." She then asked, “Did you do anything else after that?”

    “I did,” Grimsley said. "Professor Kukui is forming Alola's first Pokémon League. He invited me to be a consultant to two trainers he has chosen as the Elite Four."

    "Hey, that's awesome! Did you get to battle them?"

    "I did, and they seemed more than qualified to be in it. One of the trainers is also head of the Hokulani Observatory. He gave me a tour of the place."

    “That observatory does sound like fun! If I ever visit Alola, I’ll definitely visit that place and the other locations you mentioned.”

    “I’m sure you’ll love those sites.” Grimsley’s smile faded. “How is everyone else doing?”

    “We’re all doing great! Only a few trainers came, but it’s usually slow during this time.”

    “I see.” Grimsley shifted his head with narrowed eyes. "I can't believe it's been over four years since Team Plasma's attack in the Pokémon League."

    Iris frowned. "Yeah, me too. I remember going there with Drayden and battling several grunts. Then they reappeared shortly after I became Champion."

    "You met them a couple times, correct?"

    Iris hummed and nodded. "Nate and I went against those guys too, and they were more annoying than the original Team Plasma. At least they’re gone for good!"

    "Indeed." Grimsley paused. “I'll be heading to Malie City again later today to do some research on Alola's lore."

    “You're doing that while on vacation?” Iris flashed him an amused grin. "Did Shauntal ask you to look up something for her?"

    "No, she didn't. Apparently the wormholes and Alola's history are connected, so I want to read up on that."

    “Really? That sounds pretty crazy."

    "You don't even know the half of it."

    Iris chuckled. "Maybe so! Well, I need to head out myself. Do call me and the other Elite Four again soon!”

    “I will. You and the others have a good day,” Grimsley said.

    Both of them hung up, the video phone’s screen turning black. Grimsley leaned back against his chair, his head behind his arms, and glimpsed at the lobby. Only a few trainers remained inside, probably waiting for their Pokémon to get healed.

    His mind drifted back to the press conference and his conversation with Professor Burnet. She would update her research to Aether, and was excited to learn more about them.

    “Close to solving the mysteries of the wormholes. Such a risk there …” Grimsley’s voice trailed off, then he stroked his chin. He wondered how Becky was doing, and her thoughts on all of this. He dialed the number to the Aether House and waited almost a minute until Becky picked it up.

    “Aether House, how may I… Oh, hi Grimsley!” Becky greeted him with a warm smile. “Is there something that you need?”

    “I do. Say Becky, have you ever met this president of yours?”

    "You mean President Lusamine? A few times, yes. Sometimes she visit the Aether House to check the Pokémon here. She seems very sweet and caring towards them. Why you ask?"

    "She did a press conference a few days ago about the Ultra Beasts. Did you watch it?"

    “Yes, I did. I actually got informed from Aether’s headquarters to keep an eye on any Ultra Beast that appears.”

    Grimsley looked over his shoulder once more. One trainer picked up their Scrafty and waved goodbye to the nurse. Two more still were sat down on one of the couches and talking. Inside seemed a little quieter now. He faced back at Becky.

    "The Ultra Recon Squad showed us one of the Ultra Beasts, Poipole,” he said in a low voice. “From your reaction, you weren't aware that Aether has an interest in them?”

    Becky gasped, and then she scratched her forehead. "Not really. I know Aether and the Ultra Recon Squad collaborated together over some research projects, but nothing more than that."

    "Yes, I remember you saying that when we met them. How do you feel about all this going on?"

    "Somewhat mixed. The Ultra Beasts sound scary." Her expression then changed to her grinning. "I'm sure though that Aether will protect us from them!"

    “Oh, I see.” Grimsley had his lips flat. “So you have that much faith in them, hm?”

    "Well I've been with Aether for a while now, so of course I trust them." She then asked, “How was your visit to the Hokulani Observatory?"

    This time, Grimsley smiled a little. "It was great. Molayne gave me a tour of it. I also got to battle him and Kahili to see how prepared they are for the Elite Four."

    "That's so cool! Man, I should've been there to see that!"

    “See what?” someone else asked, revealed to be Gracie. She and Yungoos joined Becky onscreen, and when the girl noticed Grimsley she beamed. “Oh, Alola Uncle Grimsley!” she cheered.

    “Uncle Grimsley?” he asked with wide eyes, taken aback by that nickname.

    Becky gave a sheepish laugh and rubbed the back of her neck. “Gracie and Hunter already took a liking to you, so they’ve been calling you Uncle Grimsley.”

    “Yea! You and your Pokémon are super nice! Unlike Kahuna Nanu, who wouldn’t even let us touch his big kitty!” After that, Gracie’s Yungoos wiggled around her arms and squealed. “Yungoos seems to agree, too!”

    Grimsley couldn’t help but chuckle. “Glad to hear I’m the good guy compare to him.”

    “Um, if Yungoos ever gets in trouble, you’ll help him? Right?” Upon asking that, Gracie pushed Yungoos closer to the screen and the Pokémon made a face.

    Grimsley stared at Yungoos for several seconds. “An odd question to ask. But yes, I would help him if possible,” he responded, and that earned him another cheer from Gracie.

    On screen, Becky offered Gracie a soft smile. “Why don’t you and Yungoos continue to play with Hunter and Headmaster right now?”

    “Okay! Talk to you later, Uncle Grimsley!” Gracie waved to him goodbye, and then ran off to Hunter and the other Pokémon.

    “Sorry about that,” Becky said, now alone once more. “I guess she was excited seeing me talking to you there.”

    “It’s fine," Grimsley said. "Well, I should be going now, but thank you for answering some of my questions there.”

    “Not a problem!” Becky grinned at him. “You have a good day!”

    Grimsley wished the same for her, and they both hung up. Rising from his seat, he yawned and stretched his arms. As he left the Pokémon Center and went to pack his things, he mused the sooner he got to the library the better.

    Xxx

    After Grimsley had packed his things, he went to the bus stop to leave to Malie City. Everyone went outside the Hokulani Observatory to see him off.

    "I've enjoyed my time here in the observatory," Grimsley said, and Molayne gave him an appreciative smile.

    "Glad to hear! You've given all of us some great insight on what it's like to be in the Elite Four."

    "Gigi and I would love for you to visit here again!" Sophocles grinned. On his back, Gigi chirped and nodded.

    "Perhaps if time allows." Grimsley faced both Kukui and Kahili. "You two will be sticking around here longer?"

    "I will stay here until tomorrow," Kahili said. "Going to meet my dad in Akala Island and train there for a while."

    "Molayne and I need to take care of some Pokémon League stuff, then I'll be going to Malie City myself, yeah!" Kukui raised his head and pointed ahead. "Looks like the bus is about to leave soon!"

    Grimsley looked over his shoulder to see a few people boarding one of the Exeggutor Express buses already. He hummed and faced back at everyone.

    "I better get going, then. All of you take care."

    He went to each one individually. He scratched Gigi's chin and did the Alola rainbow sign to Sophocles, who did the same. When he approached Kukui, the professor offered him a big embrace. Grimsley was taken aback by that, but once Kukui let go he shook his hand also. After that, he and Kahili grinned at each other and shook hands. He went to Molayne last, who pulled out a business card from his jacket and smiled.

    “Here’s my business card,” he said. A slight blush formed on his cheeks, and he sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. “Sometimes my work phone gets busy, so it’s better if you contact me through my other number.”

    While gazing at the card on his palm, Grimsley’s heart jumped. He put it away and smiled.

    “I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you.”

    They embraced, Molayne’s body warm against his. After letting go, Grimsley and Molayne exchanged soft grins at one another.

    Grimsley grabbed his bags and walked to the bus. Before stepping in, he glanced to see Molayne and Kahili smile fondly at him while Kukui and Sophocles wave at him goodbye. He waved back and boarded the bus.

    xxx

    As usual, Nanu was doing his patrol outside. No rain today, but white clouds still covered most of the sky. He stared around to see the Ariados, Scraggy, and other Pokémon running around in the grass. There were no Team Skull grunts here; either they overslept or didn't feel like going out yet.

    A Honchkrow's cry was heard, and Nanu gazed up to see his Pokémon flying above him. Eventually Honchkrow dived down towards him, so he spread his right arm wide and let him perch there.

    "Find anything suspicious?" he asked, scratching Honchkrow's chest. The bird's white ruff was soft and fluffy. Honchkrow squawked and bobbed his head a few times. Nanu frowned. "All right, show me the way."

    Honchkrow cawed and flew off, Nanu following him. They pushed forward at the corner of Po Town's wall. When they reached there, Nanu stopped and stared at the sight before him.

    A blonde boy stood in the middle of a field. His dark clothing was ripped in several places, most notably on his sleeves and pants. A Golbat and another Pokémon, a canine-like creature with fish scales on their legs and a wooden helmet covering their head, battled each other.

    "Jester, Shadow Ball! Null, move away and hit hard with Iron Head!"

    The bat Pokémon opened his mouth and spat out a crimson-colored ball at Null. Null jumped out of the way just in time, and then they howled and their helmet shined a bright light. They collided with Jester and rammed onto the Golbat's mouth. That caused Jester to almost choke and back away. After that, Jester's body glowed violet and changed shape.

    Instead of a Golbat, Jester was now a dark-furred fox with a red voluminous mane. He shook his fur and glared at Null.

    Nanu lowered his head and folded his arms against his chest. He remembered hearing about Zorua and Zoroark's ability to create illusions due to police reports of Zorua pretending to be children in schools. He glanced at Honchkrow, who was watching the battle with a keen eye.

    “Jester, Night Slash! Null, counter with Crush Claw!”

    Both Jester's and Null's claws glowed, and they launched at each other. Jester sliced Null's leg first, leaving a deep cut there. Null howled in pain, only for them to later slash across Jester’s face. It was Jester's turn to scream, with a large cut left on his forehead. Gladion’s face tightened in determination.

    “Aerial Ace before Jester bounces back,” Gladion said, thrusting his arm forward.

    Null charged at the fox like a lightning bolt and their bodies collided. Jester flew up in the air briefly, and then plummeted to the ground and collapsed. After Null approached Jester and licked his face, the Zoroark picked himself up and shook his fur. Gladion joined them, scratching Null's chin and petting Jester's mane.

    "Great work, you two," Gladion complimented them, and his Pokémon responded with positive cries.

    While watching that battle, Nanu paid close attention to Null and how they handled themselves. With a grunt, he walked up towards them. Honchkrow followed behind him.

    "That's some training your Pokémon are having," he said. That made Gladion stop and stare at him.

    "Officer Nanu..." he said in a low voice.

    He already knew about Gladion's connection to Aether. The reason why he hadn’t sent him back was because Gladion had asked him not to, and what he did with his life was none of his business.

    Null and Jester stepped forward and sneered at Nanu, as if protecting their trainer. In intimidation, Honchkrow screeched and spread his wings wide at them. Nanu raised his right palm up.

    "Easy there, you three. I'm not looking for trouble, yet."

    Honchkrow and both of Gladion's Pokémon backed away from one another. Gladion narrowed his eyes at him for a second, and then went to his Zoroark.

    "What do you want?" Gladion asked while he pulled out a potion bottle and sprayed it on Jester, his back facing Nanu.

    That was actually a good question. Originally Nanu was here because Honchkrow took him here. He looked at Null, who sat down like an obedient puppy, and recalled his conversation with Anabel and Looker.

    "That Pokémon there," Nanu said, pointing at Null. "You been with it a long while?"

    After Jester was healed, Gladion scratched his chin. He looked over his shoulder at Null, and then had his attention back at Jester.

    "We have. Maybe two years or so? What's it to you?"

    "A couple colleagues of mine from the International Police are aware of Null."

    "The International Police?" Gladion asked in shock. When he stopped scratching Jester, he whined. "Don't tell me you'll have them take Null away!"

    "Relax, kid, I didn't do anything of the sort. I can't promise Interpol will show mercy on your pup, though."

    Nanu put his hands in the pockets of his pants, and saw Honchkrow moving towards Null. The bird tilted his head and used his beak to peck Null's helmet, which led them to swipe him away with his fish-scale paw. Honchkrow screamed and backed away. Nanu thought he was just curious over Null's helmet, so he shrugged.

    "Wait, if the International Police are aware of Null, that can only mean one of two things," Gladion said. "Either someone from Aether has informed them, or they're working together!"

    Nanu's stomach dropped. The boy wasn't entirely wrong on that assumption, but he couldn't tell him about Charlotte. He cleared his throat.

    "I can't tell you if you're right or not on that claim. Best to watch your back more than ever."

    While Nanu and Gladion were talking, Honchkrow perched himself on a tree branch. Jester got away from Gladion's sight and turned himself into a Honchkrow. He flew up to where Honchkrow was and shook his tail in front of him. Annoyed, Honchkrow bit Jester's tail, and that caused him to scream. Gladion broke his stare on Nanu when that happened.

    "Hey Jester, cut it out!" he yelled.

    Once Honchkrow let go of Jester, he turned himself back into a Zoroark and landed on the ground. He hung his head in shame. Gladion shook his head, returning him back in his pokéball. Nanu blinked and his eyebrows squished together.

    "Sorry about that, Jester gets bored easily."

    "The Meowth in the police station are like that too, so don't worry." Nanu then said, "You mentioned you and Null need to get stronger. For what purpose?"

    A sharp gasp escaped from Gladion. He sat down next to Null, pulling his knees against his chest.

    "You heard of my father, Mohn Jubert, right?"

    Nanu raised a brow. He had heard about Mohn through the news and his connections. Interpol didn't seriously look into the Aether Foundation until after Nanu had retired, but he did get more information on what Mohn had been working on. When Nanu had found out about his disappearance, that send off alarm bells in his head.

    "Vaguely. He had been missing for several years now, right?"

    "Yes. Ever since that incident, my mother hasn't been the same." Gladion ran his fingers through his hair. "Did you watch that press conference she held in Aether's headquarters?"

    "Of course, it's practically big news for Alola. I take it you have some strong feelings over that."

    Gladion gave a weak nod. "After that broadcast, I know what she's actually going for. I can't lose her, too."

    Gladion's true motivation. That was what Looker and Anabel tried to figure out. And now, Nanu had figured it out.

    "You ran away from home to prevent your father's disappearance from being repeated."

    He and Gladion fixed their stares at each other. After a moment, Gladion's left hand twitched once more and he held his wrist.

    "Null and I, we have to get stronger, to protect everyone." Null nuzzled their helm onto Gladion's cheeks, and he offered them a sad smile. He raised his head at Nanu's direction. "Do you know what it's like to feel hopeless when someone gets hurt?"

    Pain welled up inside Nanu's throat. He felt that when he had to kill the Ultra Beasts, and when Sana had been taken away by Glutton. He wasn't going to subject him to the violent details of that mission.

    "I do, actually. But that story is a little mature for you, boy."

    His response caused Gladion to jump and glare at him. "Are you even taking this seriously?"

    "More than you think," Nanu said in a flat voice.

    Gladion narrowed his eyes at him. He sighed in frustration, jerking his head away from him. Null walked up to him, their shoulder on Gladion’s hip. Gazing down at Null, he place his palm on their forehead. Honchkrow was still perched on the tree, watching everyone.

    "Either way, my Pokémon still needs more training, and I need a Z-ring. You can help me with both."

    Nanu furrowed his brow, already decided on his response. "Did you take the island challenge?"

    "I actually did one trial here some weeks back, but I got sidetracked. Most of my and Null's time gets used up doing small jobs for Team Skull."

    A crooked grin pulled on the corner of Nanu's mouth. "Two other people made that request too. I refused because they didn't take the island challenge. Gonna do the same with you."

    "You just don't want to be bothered, old man," Gladion said, crossing his arms against his chest.

    "Yup, that's it. Doing the second trial will do you good, though. Come back to me after you did that."

    Gladion's face fell. He grunted and turned around, his back facing Nanu.

    "Urgh, whatever. Let's go, Null."

    Gladion flicked his hand, and he and Null moved out. Nanu watched them until they were far away from his sight. He walked to the tree where Honchkrow was perched.

    "You wouldn't battle him too, right bird brain?" he asked him. Honchkrow cried out and flapped his wings, which Nanu took as a yes. Or maybe he was mad he called him bird brain. "Thought so. Come on, that's enough patrolling for the day."

    He and Honchkrow began going back to the police station. While walking, he thought about how Mohn's disappearance had affected Gladion deeply. When he was in Interpol, Iokua didn't like how often he was away from his family. Nanu's situation was different, but he understood what Gladion was going through.

    Now, he was one of the island kahunas. He hoped he had the strength to protect Iokua, and everyone else on Ula'ula Island.

    Xxx

    Grimsley entered the Malie City Library shortly after it opened. There were several people inside already, mostly older patrons using the computers or on the couch reading a novel. He went to the second floor like last time, which only had a few more people around. Grimsley grabbed a few books from the shelves and took a seat next to one of the tables.

    He first read The Guardian Deities of the Islands once more, hoping there would be something about the Ultra Beasts. This time he read the sections on Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, and Tapu Fini since he had skipped them last time. Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele’s passages didn’t hold his interest too much as their entries described how they were caring deities but cunning in battles. When he got to Tapu Fini’s entry, it first talked about how they would unleash thick fog on those who wanted their special water they could create. The next part, however, caught Grimsley off guard.

    “Legends also foretold that Tapu Fini has the ability to make apprations of those who are deceased. If a bypasser gets caught in the island guardian’s mist, the spirit of their loved one can be summoned.” Grimsley paused. “Spirits, huh?”

    He rested his elbow on the table and had his chin on his palm. His other hand’s fingers tapped on the surface. Nanu also oversaw Poni Island, so he should know about this, too. Maybe he could ask him to take him to Tapu Fini’s temple so that he could talk to his father…

    Shaking his head, Grimsley immediately dismissed that idea. Nanu was already annoyed at him as it was. He straightened himself back up and continued on his research.

    Alola's Light was another book that caught his attention. The first chapter described a time when a hole poked through the sky and "a beast that devours the sun" appeared. The beast won a battle against the island deities, but it blessed Alola with their light. There was apparently a beast of the moon too as it mentioned that "through their union, they brought new life." Grimsley blinked in confusion upon reading that.

    "Fragile heir? Did it mean a new Pokémon?" Grimsley said aloud. One person near the books stared and hushed at him. He grunted and read the final passage in a low voice. "The ancient kings sang their thanks for Solgaleo with song of flute. Two tones rang out across the altar, a perfect pair, ever after mute."

    The next page had a picture of a lion made of steel and the sun as a backdrop. Several people lined up and prayed to the beast. On the right corner there was a flute with the sun carved on it. Grimsley guessed that must be Solgaleo.

    He looked up the next chapter, which talked about "the beast that stole all heaven's light." Like Solgaleo, this beast too went against the island deities and the kings sang their praise to it. On one page it had a picture of a bat with stars as wings and the moon as a backdrop. A flute was also shown, but this one had the moon carved on it. That beast's name was Lunala.

    Grimsley flipped the page to the next chapter, and the third picture on it caught his eye. Lunala and Solgaleo appeared on it, but in between them was a dragon-like creature shining brightly. The following passage explained how before Alola was formed there was no light. Three legendary Pokémon then appeared and showered light all over the region that lasted for days. The people gave the Pokémon that shined the brightest the name ‘the Blinding One’, as their light was filled with a mysterious power. After the Blinding One used all of their light, they went into a deep sleep. Lunala and Solagelo soon shared their light with the people, and the Blinding One woke up and flew off to the sky. When he finished reading, Grimsley leaned back against his chair, head over his arms.

    “Solagelo, Lunala, and the Blinding One. How peculiar.” He scratched the back of his neck and sighed. Someone then tapped on his shoulder, so he turned around and flinched upon seeing Iokua smiling a little.

    "Can't get enough of Alola's lore, huh?" he said.

    “I admit your region’s stories are fascinating to read.” Grimsley rubbed his eyes. "After hearing about the possibility of alternate dimensions a few days ago, I got curious. I began reading the books here to see if there's anything about them."

    "Oh? Have you heard of Professor Burnet? She does extensive research on them."

    "I read some of her stuff, and even talked to her about it yesterday." Grimsley closed the book shut. "Apparently it relates to the Ultra Beasts the Aether Foundation lady had mentioned in the news."

    Iokua’s smile faded, and his eyes fluttered.“Follow me to my office," he whispered. As Iokua started walking, Grimsley blinked in confusion. He got up and followed him.

    Iokua’s office was in a hallway on the second floor. He and Iokua walked in silence until they reached his office, the librarian opening the door for them. The room looked just as when Grimsley saw it in the background when he, Nanu, Acerola, and Becky talked to Iokua through the tablet. The bright afternoon sunlight streamed through the windows.

    “Would you like some coffee?” Iokua asked. “I got either hazelnut or vanilla cream.”

    “Vanilla cream, if you don’t mind,” Grimsley said, taking a seat. Iokua went to the coffee maker that was in the right corner of the room.

    “Did my dad talk about his past to you?” Iokua asked as he began preparing the water and coffee grains into the coffee maker.

    “You mean him as a former international officer? He did, vaguely.” Grimsley plopped his arm onto the desk and his eyes narrowed. “He told me about this one mission where his group lost a member, but he didn’t expand on that.”

    "He did, huh." Iokua was silent until the coffee finished brewing. He poured two cups and mixed in the sugar and cream in them. "That's all?"

    "He actually showed me a picture of his group, and I recognized one of the agents. His friend interviewed me back when Unova's Pokémon League was under attack by Team Plasma."

    "Right, you mentioned that to me before. That must have been a traumatizing experience."

    Grimsley closed his eyes and hummed, folding his arms against his chest. "More a hindrance than anything, but I appreciate the sentiment."

    Iokua sat down across from Grimsley and handed him his coffee. He inhaled its strong scent and sipped his drink, the vanilla cream sweet on his tongue and lips.

    “You have an idea of what happened in that mission?” Grimsley asked, and then he took another sip. Iokua drank his own coffee before responding.

    “He mentioned the mission involved a Pokémon he wasn’t allowed to talk about. I had a hunch it might be an Ultra Beast from the folklore.”

    Grimsley thought back to when the Ultra Recon Squad had shown him and Nanu their Pokémon. His fingers tapped on the rim of his cup.

    "Speaking of Ultra Beasts, I saw one before. Nanu and I met a couple strangers who weren’t from here. They showed us a Pokémon and Nanu said the name, 'Adhesive.'"

    Iokua's eyes grew wide. "Adhesive? What did it look like?"

    "Hard to describe. Small and purple, has a big forehead with nozzles on it."

    "Doesn't sound like any Pokémon I've heard of." Iokua shrugged. "Must be an Ultra Beast, then."

    Grimsley quirked a brow at him. "You've been responding half-heartedly since we came in your office. Did something happen between you and Nanu before?"

    Iokua’s lips pressed together in a slight grimace. He nodded and his gaze fell on his coffee.

    "When I was younger, I got mad at him for being away for work a lot. We argued quite a few times, and that put a strain on our relationship for some time."

    "But you two made up eventually, right? You seemed happy with him from the couple phone calls we had together."

    "We did after he became kahuna, yeah. His Interpol days still upset me a little, though."

    "I'm sorry to have brought that up," Grimsley said with a sincere frown.

    "It's fine. You wanted to know more about him, right?" Iokua flashed him a grin. “He does care a lot about the people and Pokémon on this island. That’s why Tapu Bulu chose him as our island’s kahuna.”

    Grimsley mulled over what Iokua said while he drank the rest of his coffee. He set his cup down and smiled at him.

    “I appreciate you shedding some light on your father for me.”

    “If my dad had already told you about his past, then I’m sure he’ll open up to you more.” Iokua's smile widened.

    “Perhaps I’ll talk to him again. He stays at Po Town, correct?” he asked, and Iokua nodded.

    “It’s pass Route 15’s waters. You would have to go through Ula’ula Meadows. Be aware of the Oricorio’s fiery dances there, though! The police station is very close after that.”

    With a small smile, he thanked Iokua for the coffee and rose from his seat. The two men shook hands, and he headed toward the door. Before Grimsley touched the doorknob, Iokua called out to him.

    "Oh, before you go! Have you heard of Lake of the Moone?"

    "Lake of the Moone? Oh, Acerola mentioned that place to me before I left the Aether House."

    "That's great! If you drop by Ula’ula Meadows, do check out the Lake of the Moone there."

    “I see. I’ll consider doing that too, then. And thank you once more for the coffee and conversation.”

    Grimsley waved goodbye and stepped out of the room. He intended to visit Nanu over at his police station to get more of his story from him, but first he had some training to do.

    xxx

    Author's Note:

    Happy Mother's Day and Detective Pikachu movie weekend, everyone! Yeah, so this is the second half of the Pursuit chapter with Grimsley and Nanu finding answers to their own questions. They'll still be doing their own things a while longer before they meet again, but should be soon!

    For those following this fic up to this point, I've been leaning more and more towards US/UM's storyline and characterization on certain characters. Originally I had Lusamine's S/M characterization in when I first wrote that Aether press conference scene, but I changed her lines last minute. While some of her actions will be referenced in upcoming chapters, she won't be the big focus in Foul Play.

    Oh wow, I'm rambling over Lusamine during Mother's Day oops. You can think of Nanu and Gladion's conversation about her as a celebration of that.

    Besides that, I went ahead and did a couple more anime references. I thought mentioning Tapu Fini's mist and the anime's version of Necrozma lore would make fun Easter Eggs. Maybe one of those references will come to play...

    I think that's all! Once again, thanks bobandbill for the great beating. See you in the summer (or winter in the southern hemisphere haha)!
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  19. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Chapter Eleven
    Hone Claws (Rockstars and Mega Evolution)


    Next to Malie City was the Malie Gardens. The grass and flowers were well kept, and many of the Pokémon that resided here were friendly and peaceful. Like Malie City, the bridges and buildings resembled Johto-designed architecture. Standing on one of the corners was a tall tower similar to the Bell Tower in Ecruteak City, and in the middle of the garden was a large lake shaped like a Gyarados.

    Grimsley had been training in the gardens the past three days, and today he had been here all afternoon. He let out Raz and Blackjack, and had them battle one another. Raz stood tall in the grass while Blackjack was in the lake.

    “Blackjack, Ice Fang! And Raz, counter with Shadow Ball!”

    Blackjack jumped out of the lake and opened his jaws, cold mist seeping out from his mouth and
    his fangs glowing blue. Before he reached Raz, she spatted out a crimson ball and it exploded inside Blackjack’s throat. The shark screeched and was blown back into the lake with a big splash.

    Both Grimsley and Raz rushed to the edge of the lake. He looked down to see small bubbles forming, and then several seconds later Blackjack popped up. Grimsley sighed in relief.

    “Good to see you’re still in good shape.” Grimsley pressed his lips and narrowed his eyes. “Now Blackjack, Aqua Jet!

    Blackjack surrounded himself with torrential waters and shot out of the lake like a rocket. His body collided with Raz, slamming her onto the ground. Blackjack dived back into the lake just as Raz picked herself up and shook the water off her fur.

    “Raz, watch for Blackjack’s movements and then strike.”

    Raz gazed up at Grimsley with a low growl and nodded. She looked down at the lake, and Blackjack’s shadow could be seen swimming swiftly. Grimsley snapped his fingers.

    Blackjack exploded out of the lake, his fangs glowing blue once more. Raz quickly countered by cloaking her right paw in purple vapors, that formed into a large claw, and left a deep cut on Blackjack’s face. Blackjack crashed on the land and collapsed.

    Grimsley went to his Pokemon’s side and pulled out a potion from his bag. He sprayed the medicine onto Blackjack’s face, careful to not do it directly on the eyes. Blackjack winced at its stings, but already the cut on his face faded.

    “You and Raz did great today,” he said in a soothing tone and returned him back in his pokéball.
    Raz growled sadly, as if apologizing to her trainer. Smiling down at her, Grimsley scratched Raz’s cheek and neck.

    “Oh hey, Grimsley!” a male’s voice called out to him. Grimsley flinched and turned around to see a middle-aged man approaching him.

    “Ronald?” Grimsley said in a surprised voice.

    Ronald flashed him a grin. “Fancy seeing you again! Doing some training right now?”

    “I was. Nothing too serious, though.”

    “That’s good!” Ronald said. “I saw a little bit of that battle. No surprise your Liepard and Sharpedo are very well-trained!”

    Upon hearing that, Raz’s ears perked up and she cried a happy meow.

    “Raz appreciates your compliment there,” he said, scratching her cheek once more. Raz responded by rubbing at his hip.

    Ronald chuckled. “Say, there’s a tea shop here. Why don’t we go there and talk some more?”

    Grimsley regarded Ronald a moment. “Sure, we can do that.” After Grimsley returned Raz, he followed Ronald to the tea shop.

    xxx

    Past the biggest bridge was the tea shop. There was a small building where the tea was served, and tables covered with colorful tablecloths outside. Besides Grimsley and Ronald, two other people occupied one table. The tea was bitter with a tinge of honey in it, hot and sweet inside Grimsley’s throat.

    He first asked Ronald what he was doing in Malie City. It turned out he was here to visit his daughter and her family, and was staying with them for another two days. Grimsley then told him how he had met with several people here, including Nanu. Ronald was very interested on their encounter, as expected.

    “So you’re doing some training before you meet him again?” Ronald asked after he sipped his cup.

    “After my battles with Molayne and Kahili, I knew Nanu would be just as challenging. I want to battle him before I leave.”

    “I see. Well, you should get to know him better! That’ll up your chances in scoring a battle with him!”

    Grimsley groaned, staring up at the sky.

    “Yes, I know. I’ve been told that several times already.” He paused to drink the last of his tea. “You mentioned having a niece that had battled me before. How is she?”

    “Oh, you mean Berthy? Right now she’s traveling through the Galar region!”

    Grimsley cracked a small smile. “The Galar region, hm? Some of my family from my father’s side were from there. I visited there a couple times before, a charming region.”

    “It is! She showed me some pictures of her there!”

    Ronald whipped out his phone from the pocket of his pants and handed it to Grimsley. There was one picture of a dark haired girl with her and Samurott on a bridge. In the background there was a large clock tower that Grimsley recognized as Big Ben. Grimsley checked out another photo of her and another girl with brunette hair in front of a building with old-style architecture. From the looks of it, they took this picture in a small town Grimsley couldn’t remember at the moment.

    “I think I remember Berthy now. She and her Samurott worked well together.” Grimsley handed the phone back to Ronald. “Looks like she’s having fun.”

    “She is! Last I talked with her, she’s going for her fourth badge there.”

    Grimsley’s face softened. “When you get the chance, tell your niece I wish her luck and a safe journey in Galar.”

    “I will! Berthy will be so excited!” A large grin stretched across Ronald’s face. “Speaking of training, have you tried this place called the Kantonian Gym?

    “You mean that building with the golden roof and the Pokémon League logo?” Grimsley asked with a quirked eyebrow.

    “Yeah! It opened almost half a year or so. Alola never had Pokémon Gyms like other regions, so a lot of Alolan people wanted to try it.”

    Grimsley hummed, folding his arms against his chest. “I thought about checking it out, but thought the battles would be similar to the ones back in the Battle Buffet.”

    “I don’t blame you there.” Ronald tapped his chin with his finger. “You want a more interesting challenge, right? There’s a guy who trains Dragon Pokémon that could fit the bill.”

    “Really? Does he come to the Kantonian Gym often?”

    “I think so. Apparently he’s a musician also, so he does shows in there, too!”

    A Dragon trainer that was also a musician? Grimsley recalled one trainer that fitted that description. The brow on his forehead shot up. No, it couldn’t be.

    “Hold up, you don’t mean…”

    “Hey! Is that you, Grimsley?” someone new said.

    When Grimsley turned around, his face fell. In front of him was a man in tight clothing, which showed off his bare chest. His wild hair was tied in a long ponytail, the bangs partially covering his face. He was carrying a guitar case, so he was definitely a musician. Grimsley’s suspicions were true.

    “It’s been a while, Ryuki,” Grimsley said as he got up, forcing himself to smile.

    Ryuki flashed him a grin. “You still in the Elite Four, dude? How’s little Iris doing?”

    “I am, and she’s doing fine.”

    Ronald stood up and gave them confused looks. “Wait, you guys know each other?”

    “In a sense,” Grimsley said. “He stayed in Unova for a while to train in the Village of Dragons.”

    “Elder Margot was awesome, really knows how to dig into dragons’ hearts,” Ryuki said. “Iris and Drayden were also stars in their own ways.”

    “Not only that, he had toured with the Virbank City Gym Leader, Roxie, for a while. I also saw him play in casinos a few times.”

    “That was while I tried to get my music going.” Ryuki turned to Grimsley, his grin widening. “You do know how to play your cards right.”

    Grimsley snorted. “I haven’t done any high risk wagers in a long while.”

    Even though he was in the Elite Four, Grimsley had gone to several world poker events to gain some extra money on the side. He had first met Ryuki in the Sinnoh region, in the Veilstone City Casino. The up-and-coming rockstar had only a dozen people in each showing, but then his popularity grew slowly. After Iris had become champion, she told Grimsley how Ryuki had been living in the Village of Dragons for some months and that surprised him. They visited there twice to meet him, but then after that Ryuki went on tour with Roxie and Grimsley hadn’t seen him since.

    “Oh wow, sounds like you guys went way back!” Ronald said, grinning.

    “We only talked a dozen times due to us knowing the same people,” Ryuki said as he faced back at Ronald. “Still, I have mad respect for him.”

    Grimsley hummed, and then he said, “Ronald told me that you go the Kantonian Gym now.”

    Ryuki nodded. “I came all the way here to spread my fame and check that Gym out. However, it isn’t a real Pokémon Gym.”

    “Hm? What do you mean by that?”

    “You know how the Gym in Vermillion City has trash cans and you have to find a switch?” Ryuki asked, and Grimsley nodded. “The Kantonian Gym is like that, but the trash cans don’t work.”

    “Were you disappointed when you found that out?”

    “I was at first, but I dig it the more I go there.”

    “I also mentioned to Grimsley how you’re a strong trainer that he should go up against!”

    Grimsley’s eyes grew wide, and then he frowned at Ronald. “You didn’t have to tell him that.”

    “Sorry, I didn’t think you would mind,” Ronald said with a sheepish chuckle. He rubbed the back of his neck.

    “You know, my babies have been bored from the last few battles we did.” Ryuki put his guitar case down and pointed his gloved finger at Grimsley. “A blazing battle with an Elite Four will wake them up again! Maybe they'll even get to see your Mega Absol on stage!”

    Ronald's face fell. He turned to Grimsley and asked, "Wait, you can do Mega Evolution?"

    Grimsley's heart almost skipped a beat, and his face tense. "I can, but haven't done so in a long time. I have my reasons."

    Ryuki gave a disappointing look at first, and then he smiled.. "I don't blame you. I'm a rocker down to my core, after all. If we battle, you don't have to use Mega Evolution.”

    Grimsley pondered over Ryuki’s suggestion for a moment. From what Iris had told him, Ryuki raised his Dragon Pokémon fairly well. Plus, he could use this opportunity as a warmup before going against Nanu. Now that offer was tempting.

    “Sounds like it could be fun. I accept your invitation.”

    “Oh, can I come and watch?” Ronald asked eagerly.

    “Sure, the more the merrier! Let my bandmates and I set up first." He faced Grimsley, giving him a toothy grin. "Meet me in the Kantonian Gym in an hour." He picked up his guitar case, and headed out of the gardens.

    “A battle in the Kantonian Gym, huh?” Ronald had his hands on his sides and grinned. “I can’t wait to see how that plays out!”

    “I wouldn’t put your expectations that high just yet.” Grimsley wasn’t as enthusiastic as Ronald over this, but was curious to see if Ryuki was what Iris made him up to be.

    Xxx

    After they had left Malie Gardens, Grimsley told Ronald that he had something to take care of and would meet him outside of the Kantonian Gym later. Ronald replied that he was fine with that, and they went separate ways.

    When Grimsley returned to Malie City, he got himself a room in the Pokémon Center. Today quite a few trainers, both young and old, were inside. Grimsley didn't pay attention to what they were doing and instead went straight to his room.

    Rooms in Pokémon Centers were as simple as they get. There was a queen sized bed with soft pillows and blankets, and a table with a computer next to it. Plain curtains hung above the windows. The hardwood floor occasionally made squeaking noises underneath Grimsley's feet.

    Grimsley went to his desk, grabbing his bag. He pulled out the Keystone and Absolite and set them aside, both sparkling against the sunlight. The Keystone was on a stickpin while the Absolite was tied to a golden chain.

    They were a gift from Colress a few years ago. He had found a few Mega Stones, including Roulette's, and Keystones during his trip in Kalos. After they had broken up, he hadn't done Mega Evolution in a while. There was a possibility he and Roulette might use it again.

    He grimaced at that thought and tore his gaze away from the stones. Grimsley took a step back, pulled out Roulette's pokéball, and released her. She stood still, her tail wagging, and barked. Giving her a sad smile, Grimsley scratched her chin.

    "Hello, Roulette. How are you feeling?" he asked, and Roulette let out another joyful bark.

    A sharp frown stretched across his face. Grimsley went to the table to get the Keystone and Absolite. When he returned to Roulette, he opened his palm to show her the stones. Roulette sniffed a few times and tilted her head.

    "Do you remember these? They're an Absolite and a Keystone, which are used to have you turn into Mega Absol. I agreed to a battle with someone who wanted to see you like that."

    Getting it now, Roulette took a few steps back and snarled. Grimsley closed his palm and rubbed his temple.

    "I know, I know, you usually don't like changing to your Mega form. I don't want to do this either, but we might have to. Not just against him, but perhaps Nanu also."

    Grimsley had heard Absol generally hated changing to their Mega form. That might have some truth to it as Roulette didn’t like how much it overwhelmed her after battles. She would also get angry whenever Colress wanted her to Mega Evolve, so most likely she associated him with that.

    Roulette still fixed her glare at him. He sighed, and then dropped on one knee and gripped onto her horn.

    "I promise, though, that I won't let you use Mega Evolution unless you want to. We got ourselves a deal?"

    Making a small cry, Roulette seemed to consider Grimsley's proposal. After several seconds, she barked happily and licked his face. Grimsley chuckled, patting her cheek. He put the necklace with the Absolite around her neck, and then he got up and attached the stickpin on his scarf. He frowned once more.

    He truly hoped he didn't have to resort to using Mega Evolution in today's battle.

    Xxx

    The Kantonian Gym was situated in the middle of Malie City. Like the city, the building was influenced by Kantonian and Johtonian architecture with yellow roofing. The Pokémon League logo was above the automatic doors, which led Grimsley to wonder if the higher ups from the international headquarters had approved this. The hours when it was open were written on the sign next to the entrance. Ronald was already here, waving and grinning at him.

    "Grimsley, over here!" he called out, and they went inside.

    Inside the Gym's first room the floors were yellow and several trash cans were lined up. Bright lights from the ceiling gave the whole area a sunlight hue. A dozen or so people were having Pokémon battles with one another.

    "Man oh man, so this is the Kantonian Gym, huh?" Grimsley had his hands on his sides, staring at his surroundings. “Didn’t Ryuki say that the trash cans don’t work?”

    "He did. I think they’re here for aesthetic reasons. Let's go check in with the receptionist."

    He and Ronald went up to the receptionist. She paused what she was doing on the computer and smiled at them.

    "Welcome to the Kantonian Gym! How may I help you?" she asked.

    Grimsley leaned closer to the desk. "Well, I was invited here by Ryuki Oshiri for a battle."

    "I'm just here to watch the match," Ronald added.

    Her smile widened. "Oh, you must be Grimsley! Leader Ryuki is in the next room. Also, the entry fee for adult males is $50."

    "$50?" Grimsley asked in shock. Entry fees in Unova's Gyms were less than half of that. This was as ridiculous as the battle fee back in the Battle Buffet.

    The receptionist hummed and nodded. "The prices here are different for adults and young trainers!"

    Grimsley furrowed his brow, and then he stared at Ronald who gave him a shrug. He rolled his eyes and paid the entry fee. They moved forward, passing by the trainers on the way.

    Once he and Ronald stepped into the next room, the atmosphere was different than the previous one. Two trainers, one with a Machamp and another with a Cinccino, were on the battlefield giving out commands. Ryuki was up on a small stage playing his guitar, the music booming loud from the speakers and making Grimsley’s skin vibrate. Dimmed-colored lights were flashing behind the musician like lasers. Half of the seats in the benches were already occupied, the audience cheering on the battle and the music.

    “Wow, looks like Ryuki has quite a few fans,” Ronald said.

    “You should’ve been to Roxie’s Gym in Virbank City. She often has big crowds going to her battles and concerts.” Even though this Gym was advertised to be similar to Vermilion Gym, Grimsley mused that this was more like the Virbank Gym.

    “Yeah, Berthy had mentioned the Virbank Gym was like that. I’m gonna go sit on the stands now, good luck!” He patted Grimsley's shoulder, and did just that.

    Grimsley stood where he was and watched the battle in front of him.The Machamp kept throwing his four fists at the Cinccino, but the Scarf Pokémon was able to dodge his every move. She used her fluffy tail to slam Machamp’s face, which made his head turn sideways for a second.

    “Retaliate with Cross Chop, Rio!” A middle-aged man in a karate robe ordered, which Grimsley assumed to be the Machamp’s trainer. The other trainer was a younger woman in a white dress and blonde hair tied in a ponytail, the Cinccino belonging to her.

    “Take the hit, Cece!”

    Rio crossed his arms, and then collided with Cece. The Cinccino screamed and fell on the floor, but she got herself back up. Her fur was dirty, and she was breathing hard. Rio gave her a smug look, but then his face softened and cheeks flushed.

    “Great, now for a Thunder Punch!” the Machamp’s trainer ordered. Unfortunately, Rio still stood there in a lovestruck daze. The trainer gritted his teeth. “Hey, why aren’t you moving!”

    The woman trainer grinned. “That Machamp’s been charmed now! Aqua Tail, let’s go!”

    Cece made a chirp-like noise and jumped. Her tail shined a blue coat and covered in torrential waters. She hit Rio’s chest, knocking the air out of him.

    “Finish it off with Iron Tail!”

    Cece’s tail glowed a metallic coat this time, and she struck Rio’s face. The Machamp crashed on the floor, not getting up.

    “And the winner of that battle is Lee!” Ryuki announced from the stands, and the crowd cheered.

    “You were amazing, Cece!” Lee praised. Cece jumped into her arms, and Lee giggled.

    After the other trainer returned his Pokemon, he went up to her and smiled. “You’re one tough lady there. That’s a good match.”

    “You’re not so bad yourself. And I agree.” She smiled back, and the two shook hands.

    "What a rock hard battle that is, ohhhh! Give it up for Lee and Bruce!"

    The crowd erupted into another rowdy cheer. Bruce and Lee, still holding her Cinccino, waved to the crowd goodbye, and they left the battlefield. When Ryuki noticed Grimsley, he grinned.

    "All right everyone, I have a special treat for you! Our next battle will be with yours truly and a special guest! Hailing from Unova and a member of that region's Elite Four, give it up for Grimsley!"

    The lights suddenly dimmed, and the spotlight aimed at Grimsley. He squinted and used his palm to shield himself from the brightness. Several people spoke softly amongst themselves; some recognized him as Grimsley from the Elite Four. The majority of the audience, though, cheered. Grimsley forced a smile and waved to the crowd.

    "So dude, liking Alola so far?"

    Grimsley grunted, closing his eyes. "Not bad, but I could always use a little more excitement."

    "I hear you loud and clear," Ryuki said, and Grimsley opened his eyes to see him grinning. He held two fingers up. "Two Pokémon each. How do you want this, single or double battle? ”

    "How about we let chance decide?” Grimsley pulled out his coin and flipped it a few times. “Heads for single, tails for double?”

    Ryuki raised a suspicious brow, but then his grin returned. “Once a gambler, always a gambler huh? Sure, I’ll play by your rules.”

    Grimsley tossed the coin, caught it, and opened his palm. “It’s tails. Double battle, then.”

    "Right on! Then let us get this party started!" Ryuki pulled two pokéballs from his belt and tossed them in the air, his Pokémon being released in a burst of light.

    His first Pokémon had blue-green fur, a mustache, and fluffy white wings. They stretched their long neck and yawned, shaking their mop of hair. Ryuki's second Pokémon was a Garchomp who flexed his arms, swissed his tail, and roared. On his neck was a cord with a small purple stone attached to it.

    A Garchompite. Grimsley swallowed hard upon that realization.

    He ran through his options inside his head. Grimsley wasn't sure if the fluffy dragon had a secondary type, but that shouldn't be too much trouble. He was more worried about the Mega Garchomp. Dice should be able to handle him, especially with Garchomp's quadruple weakness to ice. Even though Queen would be good backup, she wouldn't fare well with Garchomp's ground moves. His best bet would be Roulette’s speed and power.

    And her Mega form if it came to that.

    Grimsley released them. As usual, Dice pulled his shedded skin up and lifted his chin. Roulette threw her head back and howled, the Absolite around her neck shaking. Ryuki beamed.

    "So you're going with your Absol, after all." Ryuki lifted his guitar higher. "All right babies, it's showtime!"

    Ryuki pulled his guitar up and played like a musician in a metal rock band. Both of his Pokémon and even Dice were bobbing to the music. Roulette and Grimsley raised their brows and stared at the distracted Scrafty.

    “All right, Dice, that’s enough! Roulette, Shadow Claw at the white and green dragon on the left!”

    Roulette howled and rushed towards her opponent. When she reached them, purple vapors covered her right paw and formed a large claw. She swiped at the dragon…

    ...only for Shadow Claw to have no effect on them. The fluffy dragon yawned and shook their head. Roulette growled in frustration while Grimsley gave an impressed smile.

    “I must say, that’s the first time I’ve encountered a Dragon and Normal-type Pokemon.”

    “Right-o, dude! You’ve never encountered a Drampa before, so it’s an easy mistake to make. But yeah, Ghost moves are useless on my baby boy here.”

    The smile on Grimsley’s lips faded, and he narrowed his eyes. All right, he needed to be careful not to use Shadow Claw on the Drampa anymore.

    “Dice, hit hard at the Garchomp with Ice Punch! Roulette, go at the Drampa once more, but this time Bite him!”

    Grimsley’s Pokémon sprang into action. While running, Dice’s fist glowed blue and formed a cold mist. Roulette had her jaws wide open, ready to strike.

    “Belt out everything you got, Gleam!” Ryuki said, still playing his guitar. “Dirk, sneak up on the little guy coming at you!”

    Gleam inhaled and let out an ear-piercing scream. That made Dice and Roulette stop in their tracks, Roulette wincing and Dice covering his ears. Grimsley gritted his teeth and also covered his ears. He glanced to see half of the audience having the same reactions, the other half cheering on.

    While Dice was distracted, Dirk went behind him and crunched his arm. Dice screamed and tried to wiggle out of the Garchomp’s grip, but with little success. Dirk tossed him aside and let go, Dice hitting the floor hard. Dice got up quickly, shook his fist, and glared at him.

    “Nice work, babies! Follow that up with Poison Jab, Dirk! And you Gleam, let’s fire up the crowd even more!”

    “Try punching him once more, Dice! Roulette, get at Drampa hard and fast!”

    Both Dirk and Dice rushed at each other and their fists glowed, purple and light blue respectively. When they collided, their fists pushing against each other. Eventually Dice pushed through and punched the fin on Dirk’s arm, freezing part of it. Dirk screamed and shook his arm, trying to get rid of the ice shards forming there. Dice pulled his shredded skin, grinning.

    While that was happening, Roulette howled and jolted forward like a beam of light. Gleam inhaled once more and flames started forming around his jaws, only for Roulette to ram onto him and cause him to tumble backwards. Roulette took several steps back, carefully watching him.

    “Good work you, two,” Grimsley said in satisfaction. “Roulette, focus on the Garchomp! Dice, you go for the Drampa and use Zen Headbutt!”

    Grimsley’s Pokémon did as they were told. The horn on Roulette’s forehead turned purple, and she bolted towards Dirk. As Dice rushed towards Gleam, his own forehead glowed a soft pink.

    “All right Dirk, time to get your claws dirty! Gleam, let’s go for a different kind of firepower!”

    Dirk crossed his arms together, and green flames formed on his two claws. As soon as Roulette reached him, he blocked her assault and pushed her some steps back. They exchanged several blows at one another, but eventually Dirk’s claw sliced at Roulette’s face and she fell down. Roulette picked herself up and glared at him, gritting her teeth.

    Before Dice could reach Gleam, the dragon sucked in a deep breath and let out a dragon-shaped multicolored beam straight at him. Dice screamed, green and purple flames engulfing him for a few seconds. After the flames faded, burnt marks were shown on Dice’s wrists and knees. Still energized, Dice’s forehead shone once more and he headbutted below Gleam’s chin. Gleam stared at the ceiling for a moment, as if dazed, before shaking his head.

    Ryuki pressed his lips and glared. His music went on a faster and aggressive pace.

    “Spread your wings and fly, Gleam! And Dirk, let’s shake things up now, shall we?”

    The audience cheered wildly upon him saying that. Grimsley had an idea what Ryuki wanted his Garchomp to do, so he yelled out his next command.

    “Both of you jump and attack from the air!”

    Ryuki’s Pokémon acted first, Gleam flapping his wings and taking to the air and Dirk slamming his fins on the floor. Grimsley stared up, dumbfounded; that Drampa could actually fly? He just learned another trivia of that Pokemon.

    As the earth began to shake, both Dice and Roulette jumped in time while Grimsley wobbled and almost lost his footing. Dice stretched his right leg and dived down at Dirk, kicking his face and making his head moved sideways. Roulette reached Gleam and had her horn slash his neck, leaving a deep cut there.

    Roulette’s Super Luck ability, Grimsley mused to himself with a small smile. Makes critical hits deadlier.

    Grimsley’s Pokémon landed on the floor first, and then Gleam shortly after. Dice and Roulette stood by and watched while the Drampa grunted and thrashed his head around. Grimsley raised his brow, thinking he was just moving to Ryuki’s music.

    That was, until he noticed Gleam’s eyes glowing red.

    The Drampa threw his head back and roared, causing Dice and Roulette to cautiously step back. The air inside turned cold dramatically and a snowstorm blew over. Grimsley gritted his teeth and tugged at his scarf tighter while his Pokémon closed their eyes and braced themselves.

    “Oh my, you just activated Gleam’s Berserk ability. You don’t want to see his bad side.” Ryuki then said, “I think that’s enough of a warm up there, Dirk. Time to really rock this joint!”

    Ryuki pulled up his guitar, a small keystone attached to it that gleamed in the spotlight. He touched the keystone with his finger, and both the keystone and Dirk’s Mega Stone shined brightly with multi-colored sparks. Dirk roared and was engulfed in golden light. Everyone stopped cheering and watched with bated breath. Grimsley shield himself from the brightness, and when the light faded his throat turned dry.

    Dirk’s shoulders grew bulkier and more spikes formed around his chest. His fins changed into large scythes, and his face had a more angular shape. Dirk stretched his new arms up and roared. The audience erupted into a joyous uproar. Roulette and Dice were taken aback by Dirk’s new appearance, and then they went back to their battle stances.

    Ryuki lifted his chin, grinning. “Say hello to Dirk’s Mega form. Pretty metal, huh?”

    Seeing the Mega Garchomp before him, Grimsley had vividly recalled the conversation he and Colress had over Mega Evolution. The secrets on using that power.

    “The four secrets of Mega Evolution?”

    “Yes! During my time in Kalos, I went to the Tower of Mastery in Shalour City and had a lovely discussion with the gym leader Korrina and her grandfather. They gave me some great insight on ways Mega Evolution brings out a Pokemon’s full potential!”

    “Really? Well, I’m now intrigued.”

    “I thought you would! Ahem, now the first secret of Mega Evolution. Both the trainer and Pokémon must have a bond. Having that bond ensures a stable mental connection between both parties.”


    Back in the present, Grimsley grunted, his forehead knitting in a furrow. He had heard how awfully powerful Mega Garchomp could be. Not only that, Ryuki’s Drampa was still on the battlefield. He needed to take down Gleam first and perhaps get some physical damage on Dirk while he was at it.

    “Roulette, Aerial Ace at Dirk!” Grimsley said, thrusting his arm out. He first pointed at Dirk and then Gleam. “Dice, throw a punch at Gleam!”

    After giving an affirmed bark, Roulette howled and accelerated towards Dirk in lighting speed. She rammed onto him, which caused him to stumble halfway and shriek. Dirk recovered quickly though, and there was barely a scratch on him. Seeing how she didn’t succeed, Roulette glared and snarled.

    Over the other half of the battle, Dice kept throwing punches at Gleam. The Drampa was able to dodge them easily due to his slender neck, but luckily Dice landed a blow below his chin. Gleam screamed and several ice shards were stuck on his beard, which he was then able to shake easily.

    “Yo Gleam! Looks like the crowd wants an encore!”

    Liked before, Gleam inhaled and let out an ear-piercing scream that made Grimsley and his Pokémon winced. This time, the Drampa kept thrashing his head and his eyes glowed red, which Grimsley assumed was the Berserk ability being activated again. Roulette barked continuously and shook her head while Dice dropped on the floor and rolled around; they seemed to be in much more pain than last time. That Pokémon definitely needed to go.

    “You two, we need to take down Gleam now!”

    Despite the various noises in the room, Roulette and Dice were able to snap out of Gleam’s Hyper Voice and rushed towards him. Once Roulette’s scythe glowed, she sliced Gleam’s side and left an even deeper cut than before. While Gleam roared in pain and bobbed his head wildly, Dice pulled up his shredded skin and leapt up. As he was diving down, Dice kicked the Drampa hard on the face and had him fall backwards. When Gleam didn’t get up, Roulette and Dice exchanged each other grins, the Scrafty giving a thumbs up.

    The audience went silent for several seconds, and then gave out genuine, excited cheers. Ryuki stopped playing the guitar and stared, but then he smirked.

    Grimsley sighed in relief, but then he frowned when he realized his Pokémon still needed to deal with Dirk.

    “Not surprising that you’re this good, pal.” Ryuki chuckled through the microphone and returned his Pokémon. “However, Dirk and I will keep on rocking!” He resumed playing his guitar again and screamed, “Get your claws out once more, ooooh!”

    “You guys do the same!” Grimsley said.

    Dirk stretched his head upwards and green flames formed on his scythes. Roulette and Dice let out their claws too, dark purple and green flames respectively. They collided with Dirk, who was able to block off their attacks but still needed to divide his attention between the two. Each time Roulette and Dice’s claws met with Dirk’s, sparks flew like when Grimsley and Molayne’s Bisharp had battled.

    After a while, Dice tried to aim for Dirk’s face and missed, giving the opportunity for the Garchomp to slice his back. Dice screamed in pain and crashed onto the floor. While Dice moaned and struggled to get up, Dirk approached him and lifted his scythe above him.

    When Roulette saw that, she howled and had her jaws open. She attempted to bite Dirk, but he slammed her with his arm and pushed her aside. Dice barely got up, but he winced and dropped on one knee. A grin pulled on Dirk’s face, his teeth showing, and he swiped Dice across the face. A deep claw mark was shown on his face, and Dice collapsed and didn’t get up.

    Both Grimsley and Roulette’s face fell. Everyone in the stands cheered, and half the audience jumped up and applauded.

    “You did wonderful Dice, you deserved a rest,” he said with a sad smile, returning him back inside his pokéball.

    He turned his attention to Ryuki and Dirk, the two having their chests rising and taking deep breaths. The musician flashed him a grin and pointed a finger at him.

    “And now we’re down to one Pokémon each,” Ryuki said, still panting and his voice raspy. “Can you and your Absol hold on a while longer?”

    To the audience, it looked like he was running out of energy after playing hard on his guitar. Grimsley knew though that wasn’t the case. Colress’s voice echoed inside his head once more.

    “The second secret of Mega Evolution! Both the trainer and Pokemon's hearts and souls must be in sync. You give half of yourself and your Pokémon the other half.”

    Rykui and Dirk had shared each other’s hearts and souls when they did their Mega Evolution. They would be exhausted after this battle was over, but Grimsley was still at a disadvantage. Unless...

    Grimsley flinched when Roulette barked several times. She shook her fur, the Absolite on her neck dangling. Their gazes met, and Grimsley’s heart jumped in his throat.

    “Are you sure?” he asked in a low voice. Roulette lifted her head and barked. Grimsley regarded her a moment, and then he grinned. “All right, let’s do this!”

    Grimsley touched the keystone, which was attached to his scarf, and both it and the Absolite sparkled. Roulette was bathed in golden light, and her appearance changed.

    The back of her fur stood out on end, as if she had wings. More fur bristled on her legs, and the spikes on her heels and elbows also grew. Her horn thickened and widened, and another smaller horn popped out as well. Roulette tossed her head and let out her loudest howl since this battle.

    The audience stopped in stunned silence upon Roulette's Mega form being shown, and then they erupted into wild cheers, like they did with Dirk's Mega form. A wide grin pulled on Ryuki's face, and he gave out a throaty laugh.

    “Having a change of heart, huh?”

    “Roulette wants to make this bet even,” Grimsley said, and Roulette barked in agreement.

    "Your Absol is quite the rocker, then!" Rykui resumed playing his guitar. "Dirk, Earthquake once more!

    "Jump, and then bite him!"

    Dirk threw his head, roared, and slammed on the floor. The earth shook once more, Grimsley slightly losing his balance. Roulette jumped up, giving the illusion of flying, and then she dived down with her jaws open. Roulette sunk her teeth onto Dirk's arm, which he used to block her from his face. He shook her off, and Roulette landed on all fours and glared.

    As Grimsley contemplated Roulette's next move, he found himself hearing Colress's voice in his head again.

    “The third secret of Mega Evolution! Both the trainer and Pokémon must use it only temporarily. Using it more than necessary could cause great harm to both trainer and Pokemon.”

    Mega Evolution was a power used for a short period of time. If you overstayed your welcome, then there would be consequences. Both his and Ryuki's Pokémon were at risk. He needed to get this battle wrapped up soon.

    "Aerial Ace, but from above!" Grimsley said, pointing to the ceiling.

    Roulette jumped, or "flew" rather, once more, and in a blink of an eye crashed down on Dirk. The bulkier Garchomp screamed and fell on the ground. Several seconds passed, and Dirk rose up with a snarl.

    Grimsley bit his lips and clenched his fist. That Aerial Ace hit much harder than last time, but it was still not enough.

    "Don't think you'll crack Dirk's shell that easily!" Ryuki said. "Give that Absol a taste of your poison!"

    "Shadow Claw, go!"

    Dirk's scythe lit up purple, and dark vapors formed around Roulette's leg. They collided and exchanged rapid blows at each other. The crowd became immersed with the fierce dance between the two Mega Pokemon. Even Ryuki couldn’t tear his gaze off of that spectacle.

    While their battle continued, Colress's voice echoed through Grimsley's head one last time.

    “Now the final secret of Mega Evolution! Most importantly, the trainer and Pokémon must put their trust in one another. If one has doubts on the other, then their bond and souls aren't strong enough yet for Mega Evolution.”

    Grimsley knew he and Roulette had a strong bond and he trusted her in handling herself like when she went against the Totem Pokemon, Mimikins. They still had a long way to go in dealing with Dirk, though.

    After several more blows between the two, Roulette managed to scratch Dirk's chest and left three deep claw marks there. Dirk retaliated by jabbing her throat, which caused her to whine and fall down. She rose back up, but she panted hard and her legs shook.

    Grimsley took deep breaths, sweat drenching on his forehead. He grew tired himself from having shared his energy with Roulette, and he wasn't sure how much longer they would last.

    Ryuki grinned, showing off his teeth. "Looks like the Absol here is burned out. Time to close the show!"

    "Don't let him get away with that!"

    Despite being exhausted, Roulette's horn shined and she swiped Dirk's chest, leaving another scar there. Dirk screeched and crunched her wing-like fur. Roulette howled in pain, struggling to let go of Dirk's grip, and she was tossed up in the air. After she smashed into the ceiling, Roulette crashed down hard and collapsed. She changed back to her normal self.

    Dirk raised his arms and roared, celebrating his victory. The crowd rose from their seats, cheering.

    Grimsley dropped on his knees and tried to regain his breath. He was drained from not doing Mega Evolution in a long while. When he noticed Roulette still lying on the ground, he rushed to her side and pulled her head to his lap. He pushed a strain of fur away from her eyes.

    “Roulette, are you all right?” he asked, gazing down at her worryingly. A few seconds passed until she opened her eyes and made a sound. Grimsley gave a soft chuckle and stroked her forehead. “You did splendidly out there. Take a nice long rest.”

    After Grimsley returned Roulette and got up, Ryuki jumped off from the stage and approached him. His Garchomp was behind him, not in his Mega form anymore.

    “That is some blazing performance you put out there. Everyone, give it up for Grimsley!”

    Everyone on the stands rose up once more and did a standing ovation. Grimsley couldn’t help but feel a mixture of sadness and pride.

    Another loss here. This was more disappointing than his loss with Kahili, but that was fine. Every battle had a winner and a loser, and right now this was Ryuki’s time to shine. Grimsley would have his chance again soon.

    “Thank you. You know how to work the crowd yourself.” He and Ryuki shook hands.

    “If you’ll be in Alola a while longer, I don’t mind doing another gig with you!” Ryuki turned to the crowd and clapped his hands. “That’s it for today’s show, but I’ll come back tomorrow as always!”

    As Ryuki and his Garchomp made their leave, the audience cheered one last time before getting up themselves. Ronald got down to the battlefield and reached Grimsley, grinning at him.

    “The way you handled Mega Evolution was amazing!” Ronald gave him a worried look. “Are you okay? You look pretty tired.”

    “I’m fine, no need to worry,” Grimsley said, making a dismissive hand wave.

    “All right, if you say so. Will you use it when you battle Nanu, also?”

    Grimsley flinched, and he stared down at the keystone on his scarf. While he did say to Roulette that was a possibility, he wasn’t comfortable having her do Mega Evolution again for some time. He didn’t need to decide now.

    “I’ll worry about that once I get him to battle me.”

    “Fair enough.” Ronald gave him a wide grin. “I need to head back home, but it’s great seeing you again! And good luck getting a battle with Nanu!” Ronald said, and that made Grimsley give out an amused grunt.

    “I’ll need more than luck for that, but your well wishes are appreciated. It’s a pleasure talking with you also.”

    He and Ronald shook hands, and then the older man waved to him goodbye and left the gym.

    Grimsley still stayed where he was, rubbing his chin. Roulette needed to be taken to the Pokémon Center, and he needed some rest himself. After that--

    “Think it’s finally time for me to see Nanu again,” he muttered to himself. He had been putting off visiting Nanu too long. The kahuna wouldn’t be happy to see him, and Grimsley wasn’t sure if he was ready to battle him yet, but there were still some questions he wanted to ask him.

    Author's Note:

    Hi there! So a quick announcement, I FINALLY fixed grammar edits on Chapter 7 and 8! Also for Ch 8 I went and extended Grimsley and Kukui's beginning scenes where I have the two discuss why they couldn't just fly over to the mountains. I'll get to Chapter 9 and 10's edits soon.

    Originally this chapter I was going to have Grimsley meet with Ronald and another Nanu scene. Plans sorta changed though when my beta pointed out the "Grimsley wants to do some training" line at the end of Chapter 10. Andddd this is the end result!

    So what you guys think of the battle and the twists? The idea of Ryuki training in Unova I kinda got the idea from the anime where his team were Unova dragons. I wasn't able to add this in the narrative, but Ryuki came from a group of Sinnoh Dragon Tamers and how he got his Garchompite.

    Next chapter will be Nanu centric. It's quite short, so I should have it posted before the end of this month! Chapter 13 is then we'll get Nanu and Grimsley meet again, woo! Thanks to bobandbill for betaing as always!
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  20. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Chapter Twelve
    Feint Attack


    Ula’ula Meadows was one of the few areas on this island that Nanu thought was beautiful. The red flowers that bloomed all year round swayed with the breeze. A cool mist rolled in, thin enough for him to see clearly. The Baile-style Oricorio danced and sang in the mornings, attracting the attention of anyone passing by. There were two paths ahead: one towards Po Town and Route 17; the other towards Lake of the Moone, where the mist came from.

    He and Persian were patrolling the area, using the wooden boardwalk that had been built above the grass. A few Oricorio drank the nectar from the flowers. Two Team Skull kids were having a conversation. They noticed him for a second, only to then ignore him. One woman was near the pond with her Floette, the two of them practicing a dance. Persian approached one of the flowers and sniffed it.

    “You like the flowers, don’t you girl?” he asked, and Persian responded with a cheerful meow.

    Nanu grunted and looked back at his surroundings. His stomach dropped when he saw someone else here. A purple-haired woman with glasses stood in front of several Pokémon: two Oricorio, a Petilil, and a Ribombee. She wore a pink and white dress that showed off her curves well and high heeled boots that made him wonder how she got used to walking in them.

    "Oh my, are all of you looking good today! Especially you, little one!" She picked up the Petili, who giggled and waved her arms.

    To the public, she was known as Aether’s Assistant Chief Wicke Santana. To him, she was--

    "Charlotte?"

    "Triples!" Charlotte put the Petili down and gave him a tight hug. Nanu was taken aback by it, but nonetheless, he returned the embrace back. After they separated, Persian approached Charlotte and rubbed against her hip. She grinned and hugged around her neck. “And you, Persian! You’ve grown so big!” she cooed, nuzzling on Persian’s cheek.

    "I take it Professor Burnet had given you my message?" he asked.

    Charlotte let go of Persian and nodded. "I did! I'm already aware that Anabel and Looker are on Poni Island. I came here as there are a few things I want to talk to you about."

    Nanu glanced around to see the Team Skull kids and the woman with her Pokémon still here. This wasn't the perfect place to talk about important manners with her.

    "We can do that while going to the police station."

    They began walking to the police station, with Persian following them. The Pokémon that Charlotte checked up on earlier went their separate ways.

    "So, how's becoming Kahuna going for you?"

    "Tiring. I only make myself go through the desert a few times a year. Trying to avoid big crowds as much as possible."

    Charlotte gave him a concerned look. "Sounds like you're not happy with your job. Couldn't you just retire?"

    "I can't. I'm at the mercy of Tapu Bulu until either I die or do something horrendous. I'm still working on the latter."

    "You're one of the better Interpol agents. I doubt you're capable of doing that."

    Nanu snorted and threw his head back. "Maybe I'll surprise you. How about you? Aether still have you dress like you're going for Wild Lopunny Magazine: Secretary Edition?"

    Charlotte jabbed her elbow onto his stomach and he winced.

    "I'm still undercover, Triples. Besides that, I'm not doing great at the moment."

    "Because of that Aether press conference, right?"

    "Yes. When Madame Lusamine told me and Chief Faba that she was going to broadcast it, I asked if that was a good idea. She said this is for the public's safety, and I went along with it."

    "Interpol must be outraged that the Ultra Beasts have been mentioned out in the open. Are they planning to do anything about them?"

    "Probably what they've been doing for the last several years. Kill or have them used as experiments. I'm sure they'll have Anabel come closer to them."

    They stopped, and Nanu ran a finger through his hair.

    "****. If I hadn’t retired, I probably could've prevented all of that."

    "I don't blame you for leaving. Unfortunately, there's not much we can do at this time."

    Nanu regarded her for a moment. With narrowed eyes, he stared down on the ground. "I hated Director Clarkson and the higher ups’ guts ever since that incident."

    "As do I. They can be ungrateful devils at times." She and Nanu resumed walking. "Did Anabel and Looker mention anything else when they visited you?"

    "They told me about the Ultra Recon Squad and the scientist working with them. Interpol's also keeping an eye on Gladion and his Pokémon."

    Charlotte nodded and hummed. "The scientist, Dr. Colress Antimony, is with them under Interpol's suggestion. As for Master Gladion, that's indeed what is going on." She shifted her gaze away for a second. "How is he doing by the way?"

    Nanu raised a brow. "Hm? Why do you ask?"

    "I get along well with the president’s children, so I’m worried about the family overall."

    After a beat, he said, “Not so good, I think. He’s worried about the president going down the same path as his father."

    Charlotte gasped, and she frowned. "I know what you're talking about. That caused a great deal of grief for Madame Lusamine.”

    "Do you plan to tell the president and her kids about your true purpose with Aether?"

    With narrowed eyes, Charlotte lowered her head and clasped her hands together.

    "I don’t know yet. I would be breaking my cover, and they might take things the wrong way. However, I feel bad for lying to them and they deserve the truth.”

    “I don’t blame you for being unsure yet.” He stared up at the sky, hands on the pocket. “I trust that you’ll make the right call.”

    The two remained silent until they reached the police station and stepped inside. As expected, half of the Meowth rushed over to him and Charlotte, asking for food.

    "Just give me a minute, all right?" he told them. One of the Meowth gripped his leg with his claws, but he endured the pain. Persian grabbed that Meowth’s neck with her mouth and took him away.

    "Oh my! I know you're a fan of these dark-type felines, but not this much!" Charlotte picked up one of them up. The Meowth rubbed his cheek against hers, and she giggled.

    "You wanna adopt one of them?" he asked while pouring food into their bowls. "You'll be doing me a huge favor."

    "I appreciate the offer, but I already have my hands full in Aether Paradise. Also, you’re still as disorganized as ever."

    Charlotte sat down on the couch, the Meowth still inside her arms. After Nanu finished filling the Meowth's bowls, he went to his desk. The little felines and Persian rushed to their bowls and munched on their food.

    "Hey, cut me some slack. I got kahuna duties as well as being an officer here." He pulled out his kendama from the drawer and started playing with it. "Anything else you want to tell me?"

    "Well, it's more of a request," Charlotte said while scratching the Meowth's chin.

    "Request?"

    "Aether's been keeping an eye on Team Skull due to them stealing Pokémon on occasion. However, recently their leader came to headquarters as a guest, and I pretended to be a good host."

    That caused Nanu to stop playing his kendama and sit up straight. "Leader? You don't mean Guzma, do you?"

    "After they were alone, I eavesdropped on their conversation through a tiny microphone I had left in the room." Charlotte had put the Meowth down and got up. She approached and stood in front of Nanu's desk. "She apparently has been giving him money to find a Pokémon for her."

    "Wait, Anabel and Looker asked me about Team Skull the night they gave me your postcard. Why they didn't tell me any of this?"

    "That didn't happen until a couple of days after the wormhole incident." She had her elbow on the desk, her palm covering her chin. "On my next scheduled visit to Ula'ula Island, I knew I have to inform you about this."

    Already Nanu knew what she was asking him for. "You want me to track down any paper trails to double confirm that all of this is true."

    "Right. I could do it myself, but this type of investigation isn't my specialty. That, and you're closest to Team Skull."

    As they stared into each other's eyes, Nanu pondered over Charlotte's request. For a while he had his suspicions on Aether, but couldn't pinpoint exactly why. This could be an opportunity for him.

    "All right, I'll see what I can do. If I find anything, I'll let Anabel and Looker know."

    "Thank you so much, Triples!" She grinned and wrapped her arms around him, a little too tight for his liking.

    "Hey, you're squeezing me there!" Nanu said, and that made Charlotte let go.

    “Sorry, got too excited there!” Charlotte giggled, and then her gaze fell on the photo Nanu had left on the desk. “Oh! Isn’t that the picture I took of you, Sana, and Looker?”

    Nanu lifted a brow, and then his face softened. “Yeah, it is. Surprised that I’ve still kept it all this time?”

    “You mentioned you didn’t like to take pictures, so maybe a little!” Charlotte picked up the photo and her cheerful expression disappeared. “I still miss her very deeply.”

    Nanu swallowed hard. He remembered her mourning over Sana's death for a while, not speaking with anyone and staying inside her lab for days. After some convincing from him and Looker, she resolved to preserve the data Sana had kept and continue where she had left off.

    "I should've stopped her. Told her that Interpol was using her as bait, and have her run away."

    "What happened to her was neither your or Looker's fault." She gave him a forced but reassuring smile, and her hand squeezed Nanu’s. "She would've done it anyway, with or without Interpol asking her."

    Nanu gazed down with a frown. "Of course."

    Throughout Sana's time in Interpol, the higher-ups had worked her up to the bone but she still persisted. Her ultimate goal was to better understand the UBs, and he had admired her for that. That made her death even more heartbreaking.

    “I need to head back to the Aether Facility near here,” Charlotte said as she let go of his hand. “Before I do though, I have something to show you.”

    She put the picture down and pulled out a journal from her bag, handing it to him. Nanu blinked, the hardcover cold in his hands.

    “Sana’s journal? How come?”

    “I think you’ll benefit from reading it.” Charlotte winked and gave him a playful smile. “I’m only letting you borrow it for a bit, so I’ll need it back the next time we meet!”

    “Yeah, I’ll make sure to do that.”

    Nanu put the journal aside and got up from his seat. He and Charlotte did a quick embrace.

    “I’ll be in touch!” Charlotte scratched Persian’s chin one last time, waved to Nanu goodbye, and left the police station.

    As Nanu stood and stared at the door, Persian gave a sad growl and rubbed against his leg. He gazed down and patted her forehead.

    “Don’t worry, I think we’ll see her again very soon.” Looking back at his desk, Nanu pressed his lips. “Let’s see what Sana had been up to.”

    He sat back down on his desk and opened the first page. Sana’s handwriting was a little sloppier than Charlotte’s but was still more legible than any of his former superiors. She wrote how she couldn’t remember much after being taken in by Interpol, so she started this journal to keep track of her memories. Nanu turned the page to another entry.

    June 11th

    The chief wanted to do practice drills with Jackie and me again. As usual, his Persian kicked our butts and he lectured me on taking battles more seriously. I am! It’s just that I’m more of a scientist than a Pokémon trainer. I asked if those drills are necessary, and 000 said that soon I’ll be dealing with more dangerous cases than the ones we had done.

    After those practice drills, Charlotte and I went out for drinks. I told her how much of a hardass 000 was, and she said that I would get used to that. She then told me about her time in Kanto and how much it helped her towards her path in becoming a Pokémon biologist.

    I’ve only known her for about a month, but I’m already madly crushing on her. Like, big time. I don’t know if she has the same feelings or is just being very nice. I would be upset if it’s the latter.


    An amused smile pulled on Nanu’s lips. He could tell that Sana and Charlotte fell for each other, and when the two ended up together they teamed up to annoy and tease him. Two peas in a pod.

    He turned to another page and continued reading the journal throughout the afternoon. After going over several entries, his eyes grew heavy and he fell asleep on his desk.

    Xxx

    Nanu wasn't sure where he was. A thick fog rolled in like black clouds before a rainstorm. The saltwater breeze mixed with smoke filled his lungs. He almost couldn't see anything, but there were people screaming and crying in the distance.

    He raced forward, following those voices. The farther he went, the more his chest burned and legs ached. The fog partially cleared, and he was at a beach. The sight before him made his stomach sink.

    A large crowd was running away from the jellyfish-like creatures, Symbiont. The small Ultra Beasts kept chasing them, some grabbing and sucking on the people's heads. Sana and Jackie, her Mightyena, fought off several of them, her Pokémon firing beams of dark energy straight at them.

    "Sana! Sana!" Nanu kept calling her, but she and Jackie didn't turn around. The people's screams grew louder, and the Symbiont got more restless.

    Nanu hurried to her, but then was blocked by four Symbiont. He grunted and yelled, "Move it, or else!" That led the Ultra Beasts to screech and grab his arms with their wet and slimy tentacles. Nanu grimaced and struggled to get out, their grip getting tighter by the second.

    "Man oh man, what is going on here?" A man in a kimono walked passed the screaming crowd, grinning at him.

    "Grimsley? What are you doing here?" Nanu asked, eyes growing wide.

    "I've been told Alola is a great holiday destination. However, everything's been deary so far."

    "Everything's deary because we're being attacked by these things! Now, you're gonna help me or what?"

    Grimsley's expression changed from bored to a smirk. "I'll let my coin decide. Heads or tails?"

    Nanu furrowed his brow. He glanced to see Sana and Jackie still fighting off the Symbiont, but both were shaking and breathing hard.

    "We got no time for that! These people need my help!"

    "Too late, I call heads!" Grimsley pulled out his coin and tossed it in the air. After catching it, he opened his palm and his grin widened. "Oh tough luck, heads. You're on your own!"

    Grimsley waved goodbye to him and turned to leave. Nanu screamed for him to come back, but that was no use. When the Symbiont lifted him to the sky, he threw curses at them and his legs dangled.

    The Symbiont stopped in the middle of the ocean. Nanu looked down with wide eyes and demanded them to take him back to shore. Instead, they giggled and dropped him. He screamed as he was falling, falling...

    And landed hard on a chair.

    Nanu whipped around his head and his eyes fluttered. He was now inside an office with dimmed lighting. Someone in a red suit was in front of the desk, their back facing him.

    "Excellent work as always, Agent 000. I knew that your task force could handle Glutton."

    Director Eleanor Clarkson turned around, grinning at him. She had put on bright red lipstick and always wore her blue pearl necklace. She held onto a file that Nanu assumed to be one of the Ultra Beasts ones. The scent of Poni Meadows’ purple flowers lingered in the room.

    "It was at the cost of Sana's life, though. You have to accept that, at least."

    Clarkson blinked and lifted the cress of her forehead, as if she was confused. She sneered.

    "Oh, you mean our Faller. Yes, it's tragic that she had been taken away, but that was the plan all along."

    Nanu gave an intense, fevered stare. "You're saying that Sana was meant to be bait?"

    "That was the only way we can pull in the Ultra Beasts to us. Without her, who knows how many more lives we would've lost."

    "That's bull!" Nanu slammed his fist on the table. "She gave her everything to you guys, and you treated her like garbage. Charlotte and KR are devastated, the latter thinking it was his fault."

    "I've been aware of Agent 100KR's behavior in the past several months. He's been checking in with our therapist."

    Nanu lowered his head, his stare fixing on his lap. He had gone through Interpol's therapy sessions several times also. The therapist seemed genuine and was only doing his job, but he didn't experience what it was like on the field like Nanu did.

    "How about Anabel? Is she going towards the same fate as Sana?"

    "Yes, she is," Clarkson said with no remorse in her voice.

    "So you aren't doing anything to prevent that." That wasn't a question.

    Clarkson chuckled, shaking her head. "The UB Task Force and Fallers have been working for us well so far, and there are no plans to change that anytime soon."

    Nanu's nostrils flared, and he curled his hand into a fist. Ungrateful devils indeed.

    "Now I know what you're thinking, and no I won't let you tell this to her. If she gets one word from you, there could be collateral damage. Understood?"

    A knot formed inside his throat. This was the exact same scenario before he had retired. He went inside Clarkson's office, found out about Sana and Anabel being Fallers, and was threatened to keep him quiet. Feeling helpless.

    "Yes, ma'am," Nanu said through gritted teeth.

    Clarkson beamed. "Good. That is all, Agent 000. You're dismissed."

    Nanu rose out of his seat and hung his head in defeat. He walked at a slow pace, his surroundings now nothing more than dark endless space.

    Months after having that conversation with the Director, he would leave Interpol. He didn't regret that choice one bit. He only wished none of this had gone down.


    Author's Note
    Quicker update than usual since it's a very short chapter! I admit Nanu and Wicke's interaction and the dream sequence are heavily inspired from Man In Twilight. I drew several cues from that story, but I try to have the dialog and dream sequence be their own thing and fit within Foul Play's context.

    Okay, so I'm hoping to have Chapter 13 sometime in July, and Chapter 14 August 8th, which is Foul Play's 2nd anniversary! I have drafts for them done, it's only a matter of polishing and sending to my beta. Hope you guys look forward to them! As always, thanks to bobandbill for looking these chapters over! Comments are appreciated!
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019

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