Pokémon Moon, Episode 8: In Which I Am Given A Stern Talking-To By A Colourful Sisterly Figure

“So what you’re saying is, you almost
killed my Totem Lurantis because your crazy great-grandmother would have wanted
it that way?”  Mallow folds her arms as
she waits for an answer.
“…she had a drinking problem.  And a gambling problem.  And… several legal problems.  But she was pretty spry for 94.”
“When did she…?”
“Um… well, about eight years back, the law
caught up with her, and she grabbed a shotgun, stole a motorbike, kidnapped the
neighbours’ Heracross, and skipped town, laughing all the way.  Honestly she’s, uh… probably still
kicking.  Somewhere out there.”  I idly dunk a spoon in the half-finished pot
of stew from Mallow’s trial and taste it.
“Mmmmmmmm, that’s so f%&£ing good.
Good call on the Revival Herb, by the way.”  Mallow shudders.
“Okay, well… I’m pretty sure you did technically pass my trial… somehow… so…
take these, I guess.” She thrusts a sack of Nest Balls at me, then hands me her
Z-Crystal, the Grassium-Z, and leaves me to explore the jungle on my own.  Now that I can encounter and catch wild
Pokémon there, I am rewarded with three new ones: Bounsweet, Comfey, and
Oranguru.  I’m not exactly inspired by these so far.  Bounsweet is a round, pinkish-red fruit
Pokémon that brings to mind the phrase “oh, look, it’s Cherubi,” but it does
evolve into something that might not be Cherrim, so we’ll give it the benefit
of the doubt.  Comfey is a Hawaiian lei
Pokémon, one of those Flabébé-like Fairy-types that really looks as though it should be a Grass-type and has a bunch of stuff
that supports Grass-types; it’s nice and thematically appropriate to the
setting but doesn’t seem to evolve,
and so far doesn’t really look like it’ll measure up to a fully-evolved Florges.  The third Pokémon, Oranguru, is so far the
most interesting-looking – a purple and white apelike Normal/Psychic Pokémon
that fights from a cross-legged sitting position.  It too shares a Pokédex page with something
else, so there’s a good chance it will evolve.

When I leave the jungle, Professor Kukui
turns up to congratulate me on passing all three of Akala Island’s trials, and
remind me that I’m not off the hook yet: the next step is to face Kahuna Olivia
in battle, to provide amusement for whatever primitive heathen deity rules this
island.  But first, he has a little
diversion for me: he wants me to come and visit a facility known as the
Dimensional Research Lab, back in Heahea City.
“If this is your way of recruiting me to
some wild goose chase of a research project that’s going to get me killed in a
ridiculous sci-fi laser explosion, Kukui, I swear to Arceus…”
“No, of course not!” he protests.  “At the very
worst you’ll be trapped in an alien nightmare dimension with no hope of ever
returning home!  It’ll be no worse than
being hit simultaneously with Mean Look, Trick Room, Shadow Force, and Dark
Void.”  I stare at him in silence for a
solid thirty seconds.
“Eh.
Good enough.” 

Lillie is already at the lab when I get
there, trying to teach Nebby to use Splash, of all things.  I see right through her (admittedly clever)
deception, of course.  When your real
goal is for your Pokémon to lay waste to a region with the most powerful move
of all – Explosion – what better way of avoiding suspicion than by pretending
to focus on the weakest move of all?  I’m wise to your schemes, terrorist girl.  I give her a suspicious leer, causing her to
squeak in feigned shock, and we enter the lab together.  The Dimensional Research Lab is run by one
Professor Burnet, who happens to be Professor Kukui’s wife (GOD DAMN IT HE’S
STRAIGHT).  She is also a friend of
Lillie, having… randomly discovered her and Nebby lying unconscious on a beach
three months ago.  This was apparently
not a significant red flag to anyone involved.
Lillie claims that she had
been looking for Burnet anyway, and had simply “gotten lost” on the beach
before collapsing from exhaustion.  How convenient, that circumstances should
align so neatly for her to gain the sympathy and enter the confidence of the
very professors she had been seeking.  I
squint at Lillie again, mouth the words “I’m onto you,” and start scribbling in
a notebook.  She returns a look of utter
bewilderment and pulls down the brim of her hat to cover her face.  More importantly, returning to the
conversation at hand, Burnet is a physicist who has dedicated much of her
career to the study of strange phenomena designated “ultra wormholes.”  These are, as far as I can glean, mysterious
wibbly-wobbly spacey-wacey holes in reality that occasionally appear in the sky
over Alola and randomly spit out powerful demon-Pokémon to terrorise the
region.

…this, I point out to nobody in particular,
is yet another thing that the tourism brochures mysteriously failed to mention.

Professor Burnet is evasive when I try to
ask her whether she’s actually seen a
wormhole, or one of these “ultra beasts,” but notes that several known Pokémon
possess power over dimensions, and claims that the sensitive equipment in her
lab should be able to detect the wormholes.
She also explains that the four guardian deities of Alola fought against
the demonic invaders in ancient times to protect their region… which suddenly
makes me very nervous that Tapu Koko’s plans to ruin my holiday may go way
beyond just making me fight Pokémon battles for its amusement.

Of course, the instant I leave the lab, a
gigantic glowing rift in space appears briefly in the sky, as if to taunt me,
before closing up a few moments later.
I’m… totally going to get drafted into a war between dimensions, aren’t
I?

Whatever.
Not my problem.  I’m just going to
get on with this trial nonsense and pretend I didn’t see th- oh, gods, what if
Nebby is the vanguard of the demonic invasion???  No!
Nope.  I’m not thinking about
that.  Just… go find Olivia.

Kahuna Olivia lives in Konikoni City, on
Akala Island’s southwest coast.  To get
there, I have to travel through Alola’s take on the Diglett’s Cave, a tunnel
system inhabited by Zubat and Alolan Steel Diglett.  Olivia herself is actually there when I
arrive, but is apparently too busy for me and requests that I meet her at her
shop in Konikoni.  What is she busy
with?  Well… apparently working with some
of those Aether Foundation conservationists.
The Foundation rents space in an office building in Heahea City, next to
Professor Burnet’s lab (and right above Game Freak’s Alola branch), though as
far as I can tell they don’t actually do
anything there.  Their presence in the
tunnels is a response to some recent unusual Diglett activity that has been
making the area dangerous for travellers and miners, which they blame on Team
Skull’s shenanigans.  Well, their story
checks out – further into the caves, I encounter two Team Skull grunts I don’t
recognise, and battle them in tandem with Hau, who is gradually becoming almost
respectable as a trainer.  That was
simple enough… almost weirdly so.  Team
Skull are such buffoons, and I’m not even sure what they were trying to
accomplish by disturbing the Diglett.
Could there be some greater design behind their nonsense…?

…nah, I’m just being paranoid.  Just because their name starts with “Team”
doesn’t mean they’re going to open a dozen of these wormholes and bring about
the apocalypse.

Once on the other side of the tunnel, I
take a brief look around Konikoni City.
It’s a colourful city with heavily Japanese-influenced
architecture.  Like most big Alolan
cities, it’s a hub for tourism, with markets that sell rare incenses, TMs and
clothing.  Down by the cape, there’s a
lighthouse, but I can’t access it (yet?), as well as a woman who not only
offers to teach my Pikachu Volt Tackle, but even gives me a special
Z-Crystal.  I thought these things were
sacred relics!  The Pikanium-Z, when its
power is unleashed by the absolute stupidest
dance I have yet been taught, transforms Volt Tackle into a truly devastating
super-move… Catastropika.
Catastropika?  Really?  That’s the name we’re going with here,
Alola?  Not, like… Pikalamity, or
Pikataclysm, or just Pi-Kaboom? Seriously, the translators dropped the ball on this $#!t.
Whatever.  Apparently the rules
for Z-moves are a little different to what the previous crystals had led me to
believe – some of them are related, like Mega Stones, to just one species, or
even just one move used by that species.
Then there’s Olivia’s own shop.
Olivia, a Rock Pokémon specialist, sells evolutionary stones and
fossils.  Contrary to her earlier
promise, she’s not there, but has left her Probopass to run the shop (because…
why not?) and given it a message, telling me to join her at the nearby Ruins of
Life, the home of the guardian Tapu Lele. 

Ohhhhh no.
No.  I’ve already got one of these ‘guardians’ lording it over
me and telling me what to do, just because it… like… I don’t know, saved my
life or whatever.  The last thing I need is Tapu Lele
arbitrarily deciding to offer me “guidance,” or punish me for trespassing, or
turn me into an attractive paperweight, or-

Ugggggggh, but on the other hand, I can
totally see a couple of members of Team Skull heading for the Ruins of Life
through that creepy cemetery outside town.
If Olivia’s gone out there to fight them, or they’ve gone out there to
attack her… well, then frankly that’s her problem, right?
…right?
“Zzzzzt!
I dunno, boss!” the Rotomdex interjects.
“Sure seemzzzz like it’d be a dick move not to at least go check it
out!”
“No one asked you, you cursed
calculator-watch,” I mutter, but decide to go anyway.  If Olivia… somehow can’t handle those idiots, it’s bound to be my fault, one
way or another. 

I do my best to pick my way respectfully
through the cemetery on Memorial Hill, skirting carefully around each
grave.  As I reach the other side, I spot
the two Team Skull grunts – it’s “B” again, with another of his idiot friends.  But it’s not just them – there’s a Slowpoke
with them, and they’re arguing with an Aether Foundation worker.  Beside her is a green-haired man with huge
yellow-green glasses and a white lab coat, regarding the situation with strange
detachment.  As I approach, I hear the
Foundation worker shouting.
“Team Skull!  Give back that Pokémon!”  The second grunt flicks a few random gang
signs in her direction as he shouts his response.
“Don’t give me trouble!  I’ll reduce you to rubble!”
“Mmm, trouble/rubble; there’s an original one,” I interrupt, sidling up between the
Aether Foundation worker and the man in the glasses.  “You know, I bet you’re the first in all the
history of the English language to rhyme those two.”  I shoot the young woman a glance, and
stage-whisper to her “Sarcastic enough?
D’you think they’ll get it?”  She only
stares at me, dumbfounded, so I shrug and turn back to the Team Skull
grunts.  “Sorry, am I interrupting
something?  You weren’t about to kidnap
this Pokémon, were you?”  I feign a
wide-eyed gasp.  “Tsk, tsk, tsk… You
know, I really thought we were getting somewhere, boys, I honestly did.”  The second grunt just looks bewildered (I’m
not totally sure whether I’ve met him before), but B looks like smoke is about
to start pouring out of his ears.  I give
him my most practiced look of sincere disappointment.  “Come on; I thought we were moving past
this.  Can’t you let this one go?  For me?”
I smile at him.
“But- wh- you- NO!” he splutters.  “We’re gonna sell this Pokémon to get rich,
and we won’t make no bones about it!  If
you want it back, y- you- you’re gonna have to take it!”  I sigh and reach for a Pokéball… until the
other grunt abruptly gets a look of comprehension and elbows B in the side.
“Yo, homie?” he says quietly.  “This ain’t…?
Is it?”  B turns to him and
continues spluttering.
“Wh-what you talkin’bout, dawg?”
“Look, you don’t gotta let nobody step to
you when your Team Skull brothers are around, ‘specially not this fool!  Take a chill pill, homie; I got your
back!”  B’s gaze flicks back and forth
between me and the other grunt for several seconds, then they both turn their
backs to me and start arguing.  The
Aether Foundation woman gives me a quizzical look, as though to ask for an
explanation.  I shrug at her, but then
inspiration strikes.  I hold a finger to
my lips to signal for quiet, then crouch low and try to make eye contact with
the Slowpoke.  It looks directly at me…
then yawns and looks away.  I snap my
fingers, glancing at the grunts to make sure they haven’t noticed, and the
Slowpoke – with all the urgency of cold treacle – turns its stupid dopey face towards
me.  I jab a finger at it and start
beckoning it towards me.  A full ten
seconds later, it gives a decisive nod, turns around, and begins walking
directly away from me.  I roll my eyes,
then glance around, grab a convenient rock, take careful aim, and throw it at
the Slowpoke, striking it on the back of the head.  It turns around to face me again.  I jab my finger at it again, then point
firmly at the ground beneath my feet and start beckoning once more.  This time, the blasted thing apparently gets
the message and starts crawling steadily towards me.  I glance up again.  The Team Skull grunts are still deep in an
animated argument about… something.  It’s
definitely turning out worse for B, who is holding one hand to his face and
cringing for some reason.  About a minute
later, the Slowpoke reaches me.  I
silently make a coo-ing face at it, and pat it gently on the head, giving a
thumbs-up to the Aether Foundation girl with my other hand.
“Sloooooooooooow…” the Slowpoke says,
appreciatively.  This, unfortunately,
gets the attention of the grunts again, who spin around to face me.
“Right!” I say decisively, standing up
straight and clapping my hands together.
“I’m sure we all have other business to attend to today, so why don’t we
all just-” but the second grunt is having none of that.
“You ready?” he yells at me, grabbing a
Pokéball from his belt.  “Cuz I was born
ready, yo!”
“Well…” I sigh, “worth a try.”  I send out my own (infinitely more
responsive) Slowpoke… which turns out to be a mistake when his Pokémon is revealed as a Dark Raticate, forcing a hasty switch
to my Trumbeak.  From there, though, Rock
Smash makes short work of it.
“That loss was pathetic!  Your moves were so kinetic!” the grunt
declares, stunned.  B grumbles something
under his breath, then shakes his head and shouts at me.
“We don’t need that Pokémon anyway!  Take it then!
Good luck and good riddance!”
Both of them flee the scene.  The
Aether Foundation worker breathes a sigh of relief and leans down to pat the
Slowpoke.
“Phew… thanks, kid.  I could’ve been in real trouble there…”
“Now, now,” her companion admonishes her,
speaking for the first time, “stand firm!
Think of what the president would say!”
“That’s what you say, Chief!  But you
don’t lift a finger!”
“Why, I am the Aether Foundation’s last line of defence!”  I frown at this comment, carefully
scrutinising for any signs of particular competence, but he doesn’t seem to
notice.  “What would become of the
Foundation if something were to happen to me now?”  He tut-tuts her, then turns to me.  “You are a trial-goer aren’t you?  You’re a splendid trainer!  I’m deeply impressed!  I’d like to reward you by showing you
something truly astounding.  Once you
have finished your Grand Trial, come to Hano Grand Resort and I will take you
to see a wondrous place.”  I accept his
invitation with a shrug.  Can’t be any
worse than whatever the Kahunas and the Guardians will want me to do next.

I continue along the path to the Ruins of
Life, past a truly spectacular cliff side and up towards the ruins’ great stone
gate.  Someone is standing in the path… a
young woman… but as I get close, it becomes obvious that it’s not Olivia.  She has waist-length pink and yellow hair,
black clothes, and… an unmistakeable Team Skull necklace, as well as the Team
Skull logo tattooed in pink on her bare midriff.  Looks like I’m starting to attract all the
wrong kinds of attention from these guys.
I briefly consider trying to avoid her, but she’s clearly seen me first,
and looks like she was waiting for me.
“So…” she says, confidently strolling up to
me.  “You’re the one Gladion was talking
about?  Hmph.  You don’t look like anything special to me.”
“Well… looks can be deceiving, right?”  I try to flash a confident grin back, but
there’s something a tad unsettling about her.
“…uh… is this about the Slowpoke, or…?”
She looks me sternly in the eye.
“I’m Plumeria.  I help keep Team Skull together.  I’m like a big sister to all those
numskulls.”  Her expression softens a
little.  “Look… you have realised what idiots all these guys are, right?” she asks.
“Um.
I- I guess?” I reply.  Obviously I
have, but I’m a little taken aback by her frankness.
“But… don’t you think some of those dummies
are cute in their dumbness?  You know
what I mean… right?”  Plumeria gives me a
strange look that is somehow equal parts conspiratorial, teasing… and deadly
threatening.
“Um.
No.  No!  I have no idea what you’re talking
about!  What are you even implying here?  Who said anyone was cute?  Not me,
that’s for sure.”  Plumeria glares at me
coldly.
“Is that so, punk?  Well, I gotta tell you – you picking on my
cute, dumb brothers and sisters is really
annoying me!”  She grabs a Pokéball and
summons a Golbat.  Oh, thank Arceus, a
problem I know how to deal with!  My Dartrix is a real champ in this fight, thanks
to the affection bonuses we’re starting to accumulate; he dodges a Confuse Ray
and an Air Cutter, and shakes off
some nasty poison, to secure a win against the Golbat, and seriously injure the
Salandit that Plumeria sends out in its place.
Salandit finishes my Dartrix with Flame Burst, but its own weak physical
defences leave it easy prey for my Trumbeak.
Plumeria recalls her Pokémon, steps back, and looks me over for a
second.  Even though I just beat her, her
gaze is… still kind of chilling.
“Hmph.
You’re pretty strong,” she says.
“I’ll give you that.  But mess
with anyone in Team Skull again… in any
way… and I’ll show you how serious I can get.”
Without waiting for a response, she spins around on her heel and stalks
off.
“I’m not messing with anyone anywhere!” I
call out after her.  “It’s not like I
have a… a… a stupid ‘thing’ for one of your dumb little brothers.  Uh.  Or
sisters.  Could be a sister; you don’t
know me; you don’t know my life.  I mean,
it- it’s not, because it’s no one,
but- but you don’t know!”  Plumeria is
long gone by this point, of course, but that’s no reason to let her get the
last word.

Finally, I reach the entrance to the Ruins
of Life, with Lillie suddenly right behind me, escorted by Professor
Burnet.  Lillie is apparently here at
Nebby’s behest, and doesn’t know much more than that.  Before I can interrogate either of them,
though, Kahuna Olivia emerges from the ruins.
She apologises for her earlier absence by explaining that Tapu Lele had
summoned her to help “clean up” the ruins (wait… so the Kahunas have to do household chores for the guardian
deities?  Okay, maybe I’m not really
getting the short end of the stick after all).
With minimal preliminaries, Olivia accepts my challenge… and promptly wrecks my $#!t.

I never intended
my current team to be in any sense permanent – Raticate’s going to go at some
point, probably Trumbeak too once I’ve finished exploring its evolution, and I’m
not 100% on Pikachu or Slowpoke either – but even so, I have to admit it was a slight oversight to have three Pokémon
with Rock weaknesses and none with a Rock resistance.

My Dartrix takes out Olivia’s first
Pokémon, a Nosepass, without immense difficulty
(though, again, a few affection bonuses help to seal the deal).  Then… in comes her partner Pokémon, Lycanroc,
a creepy-looking red-and-white werewolf Pokémon that I can only assume is the
evolved form of Rockruff.  Its powerful
Rock Throw attack immediately knocks out my Dartrix and my Salandit, then as
soon as I try to bring its defences down with Trumbeak’s Rock Smash, Olivia
unleashes its Z-move: Continental Crush, which as far as I can tell is a move
that works by dropping Australia on you.
My poor Slowpoke flinches under Lycanroc’s Bite and doesn’t even get a
chance to hit back with Scald.  Finally,
my Raticate manages to bring it down with Crunch.  Enduring what would have been a finishing
blow from Olivia’s final Pokémon, a Boldore, Raticate manages to do just enough
damage before fainting to bring it within striking distance for my last
Pokémon, Pikachu, to finish it off. 

Phew.  Okay.  Lesson learned.  No more underestimating Rock-types.  Especially weird, gangly werewolf Rock-types.

…what, you didn’t think I was actually
going to lose that one, did you?  Listen, “wrecks my $#!t” is very much a relative term here.  Sure, it looked
bad for a little while but I’m a
former Champion (in multiple regions,
if you count my… past lives, or… whatever… look, I try not to think about it
too hard), and Olivia is, like, the head shaman of some backwards
middle-of-nowhere hick island who does chores for a bird.  Of course I beat her; I’m amazing.  Give me some
credit here.

Olivia rewards me with her Z-crystal – the
Rockium-Z (did the Alolans listen to
these names at all while they were picking them…?) – and sends me packing just
as Hau arrives for his own Grand Trial.
Hau has apparently received the same invitation from the Aether
Foundation as I did, and is eager to get his trial out of the way so we can go
and have a look.  Lillie is decidedly
less enthusiastic, presumably since she knows the Aether Foundation is hot on
her trail, and makes a stammering excuse.
Well, whatever.  Sooner or later,
Lillie… you can’t run forever.

Ridiculous quote log:

“Yo!
I’m a herb seller!  I’m
self-taught, but I sell good quality herbs!”
Why does everyone in this region try to get
me to do f#$%ing drugs!?

“There’s a faint smell of spices, sauces,
and other fragrant things…”
…okay maybe this is the time to admit that
I… kiiiiiiinda have a thing for
smelling other people’s beds?  Uh, I- I
mean, it’s totally not a sex thing,
not even a little bit; just, uh… if I come across someone’s bed, I like to…
give it a good long sniff before I move past it.  Lots of people do it, probably.  It helps me feel closer to- wait, damn it,
no, that still sounds weird.  That is,
uh… I mean, if they wanted to sniff my
bed I would totally let them, and- okay that sounds even worse.  Can we… just forget I said anything?

The team: 

Tane the Dartrix
Male, Timid nature, Overgrow ability
Level 28
Tackle, Razor Leaf, Astonish, Pluck 

Rhea the Trumbeak
Female, Lax nature, Keen Eye ability
Level 27
Pluck, Roost, Fury Attack, Rock Smash 

Ashley the Pikachu
Female, Timid nature, Static ability
Level 27
Volt Tackle, Hidden Power (Ice), Nasty Plot,
Thunder Wave 

Hypatia the Slowpoke
Female, Hardy nature, Own Tempo ability
Level 27
Confusion, Yawn, Headbutt, Scald 

Soot the Raticate
Female, Hardy nature, Hustle ability
Level 27
Crunch, Tail Whip, Hyper Fang, Focus Energy 

Joanna the Salandit
Female, Timid nature, Corrosion ability
Level 27
Flame Burst, Sweet Scent, Dragon Rage, Smog

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