Chapter 25: Rock of Ages
Ash smiled confidently, two Pokeballs in hand.
"Alright, lets do this. Go, Croconaw and Bagon!"
Ash's Pokémon emerged, snapping their jaws at Olivia in an effort to intimidate her.
"An interesting choice, but it'll take more than a type advantage to beat a Kahuna. Go, Lycanroc and Probopass!"
A Midday form Lycanroc burst out with a howl, a Probopass slamming onto the ground after it.
"Croconaw, use Water Gun and keep it up! Bagon, use Dragon Claw!"
"Psychic, Probopass. Lycanroc, use Stealth Rock."
Small stones shout out of Lycanroc's fur, growing into large pillars once they hit Ash's field. While Croconaw managed to land a hit on Lycanrock with his Water Gun, Bagon couldn't even get halfway before he was telekinetically picked up and thrown back, repeatedly smashed against the rocks like a pinball before being thrown into Croconaw, throwing them both off course and forcing Croconaw to let up its attack.
"Croconaw, Bagon, get up!"
Although the two weren't badly, they glared at each other before assuming their battle positions once more.
"Alright, lets try this one more time. Croconaw, Hydro Pump! Bagon, Dragon Breath!"
"Lycanroc, use Rock Blast. Probopass, use..."
But Olivia couldn't finish her command, and the two attacks slammed right into Probopass, knocking it out to Olivia's surprise.
"Probopass is unable to battle. The battle is now 2-to-1, in favor of Ash!"
"Nice try Olivia, but we're not going to fall for the same trick twice, are we guys?"
The two Pokémon nodded, first to Ash and then to each other. Although surprise, Olivia couldn't help but feel impressed.
"Impressive, but even on his own my Lycanroc is more than a match for both of them. Lycanroc, use Rock Throw!"
With a mighty howl, Lycanroc let loose a barrage of large stones, pelting Ash's Pokémon before they could even react and smashing them against the rocks. The two recovered, but not without signs of damage and fatigue.
"Don't give up, guys! Aqua Jet, Croconaw! Bagon, use Zen Headbutt!"
"Keep up the Rock Blast, Lycanroc!"
While Ash's Pokémon charged in headfirst, Lycanroc kept up the barrage of rocks. Although he managed to power through some of them, eventually the barrage grew to much and Croconaw was thrown back. Bagon was undeterred and kept going, smashing right into his opponents forehead. Meanwhile, Croconaw struggled to his feet, tired but not out.
"Rock Blast, one more time!"
"Don't let him fire, Bagon! Use Dragon Claw!"
Before even a single pebble could be fired, Lycanroc found himself under a barrage of swipes of Dragon Claws, forcing his attention on defense.
"Alright Bagon, let up now!"
Nodding, Bagon leapt up, allowing the Lycanroc to recover. It prepared to fire another Rock Blast...
Only to be hit smack dab with an Aqua Jet, sending it flying into the cave wall. When the dust had settled, it was down and out.
"Lycanroc is unable to battle. The winners are Bagon and Croconaw, meaning the victor of this Grand Trial is Ash from Pallet Town!"
"Alright, way to go guys!"
Croconaw and Bagon shared a high five before being returned to their Pokeballs. Olivia smiled as she returned Lycanroc to his Pokeball.
"Its alright, Lycanroc. Take a nice long rest, you deserve it."
She then made her way over to Ash.
"Ash, you won today by adapting to my moves and countering them. This Rockinium Z Crystal is yours."
Ash smiled broadly as Olivia handed him a brown Z Crystal before he did his victory pose.
"Alright, I just got Rockinium Z!"
Ilima walked up to Ash.
"Congratulations Ash, now your halfway through you Challenge."
"Yep, and I'm not going to stop until I conquer it. Look out Ula'ula Island, cause I'm coming for ya!"
"Ash, don't forget those Aether Foundation Employees wanted us to meet them at Hano Grand Resort to thank us for helping them."
At the mention of the Aether Foundation, Lillie grew pale.
"Yeah. Why, is something wrong?"
"Oh no, its nothing, just..."
To Lillie's relief, her phone began to ring, and she instantly picked up.
"Hey Lillie, its kukui. Listen, Burnett's not feeling to well. She's been throwing up a lot and has been having some weird cravings. Could you come help? I'm going to take her to a doctor, but I could use some help."
"I'll be right there, professor."
"Professor, do you need our help to?"
"No thanks, Ash. Burnie's having mood swings, and I don't want you or Ilima getting hurt in the crossfire. This won't take long, I promise."
"Alright Professor, I'll catch the first ferry over there and pick up some medicine on the way."
"Thanks Lillie, bye."
After hanging up, Lillie started to pack her things.
"Sorry guys, but the professor needs me. Don't wait up for me."
"That's alright, Lillie. Say hi to the professor for us."
"I will. Bye."
After Lillie headed for the dock, Ash and Ilima made their way to the Hano Grand Resort in Heahea City.
It didn't take them too long to find the resort once they reached the city. Once inside they went up to the front desk. The concierge looked up as they approached.
"Good afternoon. Here to check in?"
"Actually, we were told to meet someone here. Has anyone from the Aether Foundation come by?"
"Ah, you must be the ones Rose and Alex spoke of."
Ash and Ilima turned to find a strange man in a white lab coat strutting towards them. His eyes were barely visible under is green goggles, and his blonde hair was slicked back.
"Greetings, Ash and Ilima. I am Faba, Branch Chief of the Aether Foundation Alola branch, second to only the president herself. My underlings spoke of how you rescued them from those horrid Team Skull hooligans."
Faba shook his head in disgust.
"Those hoodlums, always causing trouble. Its so nice to see young people who care so much about their Pokémon. As a show of our appreciation, I would like to invite you to our headquarters as my personal guests."
He handed the two of them brochures for the Aether Foundation. The two were awed by the beautiful pictures of Pokémon being cared for, relaxing in hot springs, or just playing around.
"Wow, this place looks amazing!"
"I agree Ash, this place is unlike any other preservation society I have ever seen."
"So, what do you say? Would you like to visit?"
Ilima simply nodded in agreement.
"Splendid! We can leave in a few minutes. The company boat is docked in the marina, so once you're all set we can head for the Island."
Unbeknownst to them, Team Rocket was silently listening to their conversation from a bench nearby.
"You hear that? They's got a mega conservation society on some manmade island. Ya know what that means?"
"We sure do. It means there's over a hundred Pokémon ripe and ready for the poaching."
"And if their all so weak that Team Skull can beat them, taking their Pokémon will be a piece of cake!"
"Shhh! Now's not the time!"
Fortunately for them, no one seemed to pay the outburst any mind, allowing them to quietly sneak off to their submarine.