Among the major selling points of Malie City is its library, the best in Alola. I mean, not that that’s saying much. The Alolans still worship a cabal of fickle and wrathful Pokémon as deities, and their leading Pokémon researcher is secretly a part-time luchador; believe it or not, they aren’t exactly a global centre of knowledge and literature. They are, however, the world’s leading experts on one field in particular: their own traditions and mythology; Alolan myth basically isn’t taught or studied at any university I’ve ever heard of outside the region itself. Lillie, who arrived in Malie City ahead of me and Hau after coming directly from Heahea City, claims to have need of this esoteric knowledge in order to help Nebby. She asks me to come to the library with her to check it out – so of course I brusquely refuse, send her scurrying away in terror, and then follow her anyway at an inconspicuous distance. Gotta stay one step ahead of this crafty b!tch and her freaky living nebula-bomb, or the whole island chain could be a smoking ruin by Tuesday afternoon. The moment I manage to get into a proper stalking rhythm, though, I run straight into… Professor Oak?
Apparently, just like many Pokémon… Professor Oak has an Alolan form. He has dark skin, a mullet, and a Hawaiian shirt, his name is Samson rather than Samuel, and he claims to be a cousin of the Professor Oak I know from Kanto, but other than that he seems like exactly the same sanctimonious, incompetent, guilt-tripping whack-a-doodle that I’ve known for pretty much my entire life as a trainer. Even better, it turns out that this version of him helped to build the Rotomdex, so the aggravating little thing basically worships the ground he walks on. If he runs research projects anything like his “cousin” does, most of his data is probably gathered by unpaid teenage Pokémon trainers, so I thank my lucky stars he doesn’t seem to have any “requests” for me to take care of, then take my leave as abruptly as I can. As it turns out, I needn’t have hurried; Lillie has been held up, talking to that woman with the Mudsdale, Hapu, whom I met back on Akala Island. Still not sure what her deal is. She’s clearly powerful and makes a point of giving out help and guidance as she travels, but she doesn’t wear a Captain’s wooden clover-shaped insignia, and I don’t think she’s a Kahuna either. If anything, she acts a lot like Champions I’ve met in the past, but I’m not sure Alola even has a Champion. I briefly consider tailing her instead, but decide against it: Lillie could accomplish all sorts of treachery with the forbidden knowledge of the Malie Library. I sneak inside behind her, discreetly ducking behind a shelf of magazines as she heads up the stairs.
Once I’m upstairs, peering at Lillie from a distance with my face hidden behind an open book, it becomes clear that she is meeting a contact here. This slight, purple-haired girl, wearing a ragged, patchy dress, is named Acerola, and she’s wearing a Captain’s insignia. The conspiracy must go far deeper than I imagined! From snippets of their conversation, I learn that Lillie seems to be seeking a legendary Pokémon called Lunala – “the beast that calls the moon,” who appeared after “the empty sky broke asunder.” According to legend, Lunala “stole all heaven’s light,” forced the king of Alola to bow before it, and defeated all four of the Tapu guardians. Then there’s something about “bringing the dark,” “casting a pall on the line of kings,” and “marking the path for all finished things,” fairly standard doom-cult stuff, but then a reference to some sort of mystic union between the moon and sun, which brought new life to Alola. The line about the sky breaking asunder must refer to an Ultra Wormhole, and Lunala must be an Ultra Beast – one who conquered Alola in ancient times, cut off the entire region from the light of the sun, moon and stars, and ended a great dynasty of Alolan monarchs, forcing the new line of kings to worship it so it would spare their people. It’s worse than I feared! Lillie wants to summon a terrible legendary Pokémon to cover the entire archipelago in darkness and crown herself Empress of the Unfathomable Night! I must uncover more details of her plan, so someone who actually cares can stop her!
Or. I mean. I guess I could do it. If no one else will.
Lillie remains ensconced in the library, hunting forbidden lore, and once she stops talking to Acerola I can’t easily observe her activities without alerting her, so I quietly exit the library and head out of Malie City to explore. I’ve beaten two out of four Kahunas now, and according to Professor Kukui there’s another Captain up on Mount Hokulani, so I may as well go for it. I acquire a couple of new evolutions – the Alolan Ghost Marowak, the Alolan Persian (who has an odd, deformed-looking spherical head), and Steenee, the evolved form of Bounsweet, a ballerina-like fruit Pokémon who is fast shaping up to be this generation’s exemplar of “Grass Pokémon don’t get nice things.” South of Malie City, I also discover an entirely new Pokémon – Komala, a blue-grey Normal-type koala Pokémon. It doesn’t seem to evolve, and its stats are by no means exceptional, and it’s mostly interesting because of a peculiar ability: Comatose. Komala is perpetually subject to the “drowsy” status inflicted by Yawn, but never actually falls asleep; this effectively confers immunity not only to sleep but to all major status conditions. I eventually decide to head along the west road to the base of Mount Hokulani, where there should be a stop on the bus route to the summit. I notice as I approach the bus stop that there are two people waiting already… and then that those two people are Team Skull grunts; B, whom I originally met in Hau’oli City, and the same guy who was with him at the Ruins of Life. Well, this isn’t so bad; maybe if I can get to know them in a less antagonistic situation, we can build a rapport and…
…wait, are they… trying to steal the bus stop?
“What? You never see somebody take a bus stop to go before?” the second grunt asks bluntly when he notices me staring.
“…honestly? No. No I have not.” The bus stop has no shelter or seats; it’s literally just a road sign, with a heavy concrete base buried in the ground to prevent… well, exactly this, as far as I can tell. Both Team Skull grunts are scrabbling in the dirt around the base, trying to dig it out so they can carry it off. “Um… do you… need some help with that?” B looks up at me, confused.
“Hey, yo! You trying to steal our bus stop?” he accuses me. “Best go find your own, ya hear?!”
“Yeah, fo’ shizzle!” the other grunt declares. “It’s on, yo!” He gets to his feet and calls out his Raticate.
“Look, guys, I don’t… can we seriously not do this? I don’t care, I just- WHOA!” I dodge as the Raticate lunges at me, and send out my Dartrix, who makes short work of it with a couple of Razor Leaf barrages.
“Dang, I lost?” He looks dismayed at first, but then perks up. “Then my homie’s gotta fight you! That’s just life in Team Skull.” B reaches for his Pokéball, and I turn towards him.
“Dude, please don’t make me do this; I’d feel like I’m kicking a Togepi…” B stamps his foot angrily.
“We stand up even to the strong, yo!” he shouts. “We stand up, even if it ain’t for long, yo!” I blink. That… actually sounds kind of brave. I mean… it’s a bit weird to take a stand like this over a bus stop, but hey, baby steps. I smile at him.
“That’s the spirit. Game on!” I send out my Slowpoke. B throws his Pokéball, and a Golbat emerges. My smile broadens. “Huh; your Zubat evolved! Maybe we can make a half-decent trainer out of you yet!” B glares back.
“Yo, we prattlin’ or we battlin’?” he demands. Well, someone’s got something to prove. I shrug, and our Pokémon charge into battle. Or, I mean, his Golbat charges in, and my Slowpoke kinda just sits there, because she’s a Slowpoke and that’s what they do. The Golbat flies circles around her for a while and gets in a couple of nasty Bites, but inevitably gets knocked out of the sky by a Psychic blast. With a defeated sigh, B recalls his Golbat, and slouches. “I don’t know if you care, but that bus stop weighs about as much as a Golem,” he says regretfully.
“I’m sure it’s not that heavy,” I say kindly, then take hold of the bus stop with both hands and pull. It doesn’t budge. “…okay…” I say, panting, “okay, it’s pretty heavy.”
“You really don’t care ‘bout us tryin’ to gank that shiz, homie?” the other grunt asks me curiously.
“I… guess a little? But it’s just a bus stop; it’s not like you’re trying to steal Pokémon again.” I pause, and take another look at the bus stop. “…are you? This isn’t, like… some weird Alolan bus stop Pokémon. Uh… right?” I ask, glancing at the Rotomdex.
“Zzzzzt! I’ll give you twooooo guessezzz, boss!” the Rotomdex answers.
“Yo, think about the bus drivers!” B exclaims. “If we take this bus stop, they can all chill!”
“That’s…” I stop and think for a moment. “That’s actually kind of sweet.” B’s face reddens for some reason. “I mean, I don’t think public transport… really works that way, exactly? I’m pretty sure this would just confuse everyone.”
“So you ain’t gonna help us either?” B asks. I shrug.
“Eh. What the hell.” I grab the bus stop sign again. “Okay, guys, on three.” They both take hold of the sign too. “One… two… THREE!” All three of us heave with all our might, and slowly but surely, the heavy concrete base begins to inch out of the soil around it… until something gives way, and it all breaks free in an instant, sending us sprawling in a tangled pile on the ground. A shadow passes over the heap of knotted limbs.
“…do I even want to know?” Professor Kukui asks.
“Someone’s foot is in my face,” I answer calmly. I peer curiously at the shoe. “I think it’s mine.”
Once the Team Skull grunts have left, Professor Kukui and I wave down the next bus and head up to the summit of Mount Hokulani, the site of an advanced astronomical observatory that takes full advantage of the mountain’s isolation from light pollution. Despite its magnificence, Hokulani is only the second-tallest mountain in Alola – second to Mount Lanakila, visible off in the distance to the southwest. Lanakila is the focus of Kukui’s greatest ambition; the big contribution he wants his life to make to Alola. There, at its summit, close to the celestial realm of Alola’s legendary Pokémon, is where he wants to form an Alolan Pokémon League. Alola’s four Kahunas will appoint a Champion who will be recognised by fellow Leagues all over the world. Kukui’s plan calls for nothing less than a cultural revolution in Alolan Pokémon training, bringing the region into the 21st century – and Hau and I, the most recent trainers to begin the island challenge, are vital parts of his plan. Well, I guess as a foreigner, and a former title-holder myself, I am in something of a unique position to help him. It’s a more persuasive argument for completing the island challenge than Tapu Koko ever offered me, anyway. For that matter, modernising Alola’s traditions seems like something that would really annoy the Tapu without actually giving them any excuse to smite me.
Before taking on the observatory’s trial, I explore the mountain a little bit, fight some trainers, and discover another new Pokémon: Minior, a floating meteorite Pokémon with a gleaming gem-like core surrounded by a rocky outer shell that breaks apart when it takes damage. Despite not being a bird, not flying with wings, and not having any wind powers, Minior’s type is Rock/Flying, because clearly the Flying type made way too much sense in generation VI. When I return to the summit, Kukui introduces me to an old friend and travelling companion of his: a trainer named Molayne, who works at the observatory and was once its Captain (I’ve learned elsewhere that Captains traditionally give up their positions when they turn 20). By way of introduction, Molayne challenges me to a battle, and my Toucannon obligingly explodes his team of Steel-types – a Skarmory, a Metang, and… an Alolan Dugtrio, whose heads each sport a luxurious surfer’s mane of golden hair. I… still don’t quite understand why these are Steel-types, unless their hair is literally made of gold wire or something. In any case, Molayne decides that this victory proves I’m ready for the Mount Hokulani trial, and ushers me inside to meet the current Captain, Sophocles.
Wait, Sophocles? The grumpy-as-$#!t Cartman knock-off who runs the Festival Plaza?
…yeah. Turns out he’s totally a Captain. A very young Captain, who recently inherited the role from Molayne, his cousin, as a result of “unusual circumstances” that prevented Ula’ula’s Kahuna from appointing a new Captain when Molayne became too old. Sophocles is… well, doing his best, but clearly not ideal for the role; he’s nervous, awkward, doesn’t know how to talk to challengers, seems more concerned with his inventions and the Festival Plaza than with running the Hokulani trial, and isn’t particularly interested in doing things by the book. He doesn’t lead me to a special trial site; instead, he has a plan to have his Totem Pokémon come to us, summoning it with an experimental device that broadcasts ultrasonic signals from space (…or something). I am certain that nothing here could possibly go wrong.
Something instantly goes wrong.
Sophocles’ device broadcasts its signal, then immediately blows a fuse, taking out all the lights and triggering a lockdown in the observatory’s security system. Sophocles claims he can sense the Totem Pokémon’s approach, but we’re going to need to deal with the lockdown first – by passing an audio quiz. The obstinate system opens the lab’s doors just long enough to let in a wild Pokémon every time I successfully identify the sounds it’s making – the Pokémon Centre heal tone, the Rotomdex’s startup tone, Charjabug’s cry. My Pikachu successfully defeats the Grubbin and Charjabug that turn up first, and my Raticate handles a second Charjabug. At last, Sophocles’ Totem Pokémon arrives: Vikavolt, an ugly-as-sin but undeniably badass flying electrical beetle, whose aura, in contrast to the other Totems I’ve fought so far, buffs all of its stats. My Pikachu manages to hurl out a Catastropika and a Volt Tackle before being knocked out, and my Salandit follows up with Toxic. This whole time there’s a Charjabug assisting the Vikavolt with Mud Slaps and Thunder Waves, just to annoy me. Finally though, with Vikavolt weakened, my Dartrix finishes it off with Pluck. Meanwhile, Molayne restores the observatory’s power and deactivates the security system, releasing us. He and Sophocles reward me with not one but two Z-Crystals: Sophocles’ Electrium-Z and Molayne’s Steelium-Z. Molayne also hands me Professor Kukui’s Masked Royal lucha mask, which he apparently left up here, and asks me to give it to him at Malie Garden.
Returning to Malie Garden, I find Professor Kukui almost immediately, but he’s somewhat preoccupied, deep in a debate with none other than the two Team Skull grunts who were trying to steal the bus stop earlier.
“You say you wanna make a Pokémon League?” B asks him incredulously. “You got rocks in your skull?” Kukui grins and holds up four fingers.
“Four turns!” The grunts look at each other, confused.
“I’ve been researching Pokémon moves, so I’m always ready! I’ll take you both on in a Battle Royal!” The watching crowd cheers. I allow myself a smirk as the grunts shuffle nervously. Suddenly, B notices me and catches my eye over Kukui’s shoulder. His expression goes stern and he balls his fists.
“F-fine!” he blurts at Kukui. “You asked for it!” I widen my eyes and shake my head at B vigorously, dragging a finger across my neck. This is… not going to be pretty. Much as I hate to admit it, Professor Kukui knows his $#!t. As he prepares to battle, though, a murmur sweeps through the crowd. People chatter nervously, there are a couple of scattered ‘boo’s, and I hear a name repeated over and over: “Guzma!” The crowd behind the two Team Skull grunts parts as a young man swaggers up. He’s in maybe his late 20s, dressed in Team Skull black and white, with a shock of white hair, and shows off his team’s stylised S-skull logo in both a gaudy gold necklace and a pair of purple forearm tattoos.
“Battle Royal, huh?” the newcomer drawls. “Nice idea there, Kukui. You can beat down three Pokémon at once?” Both grunts instantly adopt postures of total deference.
“The boss has graced us with his presence!”
“The hated boss who beats you down, and beats you down, and never lets up… Yeah. Big bad Guzma is here!” Guzma says, his voice rising with each phrase. He raises his arms into the air. “GREETINGS, COWERING PUBLIC! We have an exciting bout for you tonight! In the opposing corner, the Pokémon professor Kukui! And in this corner, the boss of Team Skull and the hardest guy around, Guzma!” Kukui thinks for a moment, smirks, and this time holds out both hands.
“Seven turns.” Guzma growls at him angrily.
“This move fanatic is getting me all riled up!”
“Let’s see it then, Guzma,” Kukui taunts him. “Show me your moves and prove you aren’t all talk! If you can… right, Chris?” I blink a couple of times and hastily glance around, searching for some other Chris he might have meant, or perhaps a convenient bush to dive into.
“Uh… what?” I ask lamely. Guzma frowns.
“So you’re one of the kids on his island challenge? You don’t look like Hala’s grandson.” Where the hell is Hau? Why doesn’t anyone ever make him handle cr@p like this!?
“This here’s Chris,” Kukui explains proudly. “He just moved to Alola recently. Discovery! Adventure! He’s loving every minute!”
“Love is a very strong word,” I hastily clarify. “It’s… really more of a passive marinating process.” Guzma chuckles.
“You’ve got a Z-Ring, huh, kid?” he observes. “Why even bother with the island challenge?” I shrug.
“I’m gonna be honest, inertia is a pretty big part of it at this point.” He roars with laughter.
“HAHA! You don’t even know why you’re doing it!” He turns his attention back to the Professor. “You see, Kukui? Here we are, fellow rejects who could never become Captains. We’ve got all these mouldy old traditions in Alola – the Kahunas, the Captains… it’s about time we cut out all that silly garbage and make something new for ourselves. Trust me, I get that. Don’t get me wrong though, Kukui. I’ve got no need for a Pokémon League. After all, everyone already knows who the strongest trainer is on these islands!”
“Speak for yourself, Guzma,” Kukui begins.
“Well, hang on, though,” I interrupt, raising my hand for quiet. “He’s sort of got a point.” Both men look at me quizzically. “I mean, I want to get rid of Alola’s whacko bird cults and volcano rituals and freaky voodoo $#!t as much as anyone. You could at least cut out the human sacrifices.” Kukui goes stony-faced at that.
“How did you know about-?”
“Didn’t. I was totally going off random guesswork and thinly-veiled racism. Until now. Seriously, dude!?” He looks sheepish. “But the point is, there’s no reason modernising Alola means you have to do everything like Kanto and Johto, with a Pokémon League and a Champion. I mean, have you met Kanto’s Elite Four? I have! They live in a castle in the middle of nowhere and they all hate each other!” Guzma guffaws.
“I like this kid!” I turn on him.
“And you! What do you think you’re doing, running a gang with all these… debatably innocent kids? I mean, these two? They wouldn’t hurt a fly. I’m not sure they could if they tried. How tough do you have to be to bully them around, anyway?” Guzma is fuming now. Meanwhile, B is now looking at me with his eyes wide, shaking his head, and dragging a finger across his neck. I just wink at him. Guzma looks back and forth between us a couple of times in utter confusion, then remembers his wounded pride.
“Watch closely, Kukui,” he growls. “Someday I’m gonna destroy you. But first, I’ll destroy everything you care about! WANNA SEE WHAT DESTRUCTION LOOKS LIKE? HERE IT IS IN HUMAN FORM – IT’S YOUR BOY, GUZMA!” Guzma roars and hurls a Pokéball as I send out my Raticate. Guzma’s Pokémon is a hulking mass of insectoid chitin and muscle that he calls a Golisopod.
Okay, I think to myself, it doesn’t look that fast, so-
“Wait what.” There is a sickening crunch, and my Raticate sails through the air past my shoulder making a mournful wailing noise. “…ah.” Well, that didn’t work. I send in my Salandit and command her to use Inferno Overdrive, which puts a dent in the Golisopod, but it strikes back with a Razor Shell that knocks her out immediately. Huh. I squint at the Golisopod, and realise what it is: the evolved form of that pathetic bottom-feeding silverfish, Wimpod! I WANT ONE. Secure in knowing what I’m dealing with, I throw my Toucannon into the ring and fire off a Beak Blast that flattens Golisopod. That seems to be Guzma’s strongest Pokémon; his only other is an Ariados, no match for a Toucannon. Guzma becomes visibly enraged as his Pokémon drop.
“GUZMA!!!” he explodes. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!? NOW’S THE TIME FOR YOUR VAUNTED TEAM TO LET LOOSE AND DESTROY EVERYTHING!”
“Dude, chill,” I tell him. “Has anyone ever told you to get a hobby?” Guzma just growls unintelligibly, turns around and storms off.
As Guzma leaves, the two grunts linger for a little while, over by one of the garden pools. The second one jabs B in the side with an elbow and jerks his head over at me. B shakes his head vigorously and makes a couple of gang signs I still can’t recognise or interpret. His friend just glares at him sternly, points at me, then turns his back to me, folds his arms, and starts tapping his foot. B says something to him, but he just stands there, stony-faced. With a sigh, B slouches over in my direction and fixes his gaze on my feet.
“Mmmsrrrrytrrrdt’stlllyrpkmmnn,” he mumbles.
“…what?” I ask, genuinely confused.
“M’mm sorry we tried t’steal y’rr Pokémon,” he mumbles again, this time just loud enough for me to make out what he’s trying to say. “Back on ‘mele Island.”
“Oh.” I fumble for the words to respond, taken aback by the apology. “Well, I… um. Thanks. That can’t have been easy to say. I’m, uh… glad you felt you could do that.”
“Listen,” he mutters, still looking at my feet. “Don’t mess with the boss, yo. You don’t want him to get serious. You’d…” He wrenches his eyes away from the ground and looks right at me. “You’d get straight messed up, homie.” I try to smile at him.
“It’ll be okay. I’ve dealt with bigger, crazier whackos than Guzma.” B glances back at the other grunt.
“Yo, I gotta split. See you round?”
“Definitely.” As I watch them leave, Professor Kukui presses something into my hand, saying something about a signature move for Dartrix’s evolved form, but I’m not really listening. I think it’s time Guzma’s gang started standing up to him…
Ridiculous quote log:
“Our safe driving record will absolutely slay you!”
…I think you may have missed the essential purpose of safe driving, Exeggutor Express.
Tane the Dartrix
Male, Timid nature, Overgrow ability
Steel Wing, Razor Leaf, Synthesis, Pluck
Rhea the Toucannon
Female, Lax nature, Keen Eye ability
Screech, Roost, Beak Blast, Brick Break
Ashley the Pikachu
Female, Timid nature, Static ability
Volt Tackle, Hidden Power (Ice), Nasty Plot, Nuzzle
Hypatia the Slowpoke
Female, Hardy nature, Own Tempo ability
Psychic, Yawn, Façade, Scald
Soot the Raticate
Female, Hardy nature, Hustle ability
Crunch, U-Turn, Hyper Fang, Focus Energy
Joanna the Salazzle
Female, Timid nature, Corrosion ability
Flame Burst, Nasty Plot, Dragon Rage, Toxic