Chapter 33: The Real Steel
The bus braked to a stop at the very top of Mount Hokulani, jolting the passengers from their thoughts.
"Alright everyone, last stop. Thank you for riding Exeggutor Express, and we hope you have a wonderful day."
The passengers disembarked, some deciding to check out the mountainside, while others headed for the small observatory, such as Ash and his companions.
"Alright, time for my seventh Z Crystal! Lets go!"
Professor Kukui laughed, being the next one off the bus.
"What's the rush, Ash? We've got plenty of time. Why not take some time to enjoy the view?"
"Heh heh, sorry. I'm just excited."
"Oh, guests. Welcome."
Everyone turned to see a lanky blonde man wearing glasses coming out of the observatory.
"Molayne, great to see ya! Ash here was looking forward to his next trial. Is Sophocles in?"
Molayne shook his head.
"He is, but he's in the middle of some big invention. You know my cousin, once he gets busy nothing can stop him."
Ash's face fell.
"Aw man, I was hoping to get a Z Crystal today."
"Sorry Ash. If you'd like, I could battle you. I may not be a Totem Pokemon, but I can still throw down a good fight."
This raised Ash's spirits a little bit.
"Alright, I'll take you on. Three on three sound good to you?"
"You got it."
A few minutes later, Ash and Molayne stood facing each other 10 feet apart.
"You ready, Ash?"
"Sure am. Go, Torrcat!"
"Skarmory, I choose you!"
"Steel Wing, Skarmory!"
Skarmory just skated through the flames, barely getting singed as it hit Torrcat hard with its wing, forcing it back.
"Skarmory, use Air Cutter!"
"Flame Charge, Torrcat, full power!"
Skarmory used its wings to build up a gale force wind, but this only served to slow Torrcat down as he hit him in a firey burst, knocking it out of the air.
"Finish him off with Fire Fang, Torrcat!"
While Skarmory tried to recover, Torrcat leapt onto it and bit into its wing, finally knocking it out. Molayne smiled as he returned his Skarmory.
"Impressive Ash, but I still have two others you'll need to go through. Go, Metang! Use Zen Headbut!"
"Dodge it Torrcat, then use Ember!"
Torrcat leapt over the steel type with ease, releasing a small flame from its mouth to hit Metang directly. Although it wasn't a very strong attack, Metang took it pretty hard on account of being weak to fire.
"Torrcat, use Flamethrower!"
Torrcat did manage to hit it with a Flamethrower, knocking it out, but the Confusion attack hit its mark before hand, leaving Torrcat dazed, its head spinning around to find balance.
"Oh no, Torrcat's confused!"
"Confused? What do you mean?"
"When a Pokemon is confused, Lillie, it won't always know whats going on. Sometimes it'll hit the opponent, but other times it'll wind up just doing more damage to himself."
Despite being down 3 to 1, Molayne smirked at how well his plan was going.
"Don't count us out yet, Ash! Go, Dugtrio!"
Molayne's Dugtrio looked like a normal one, save for the luschious head of hair it had.
"Don't give up Torrcat! Use Flame Charge!"
"Dugtrio, use Earthquake!"
Despite his best efforts, Torrcat couldn't focus long enough to get a hit off before the shaking ground threw him off his feet. When the attack finished, he was shaken but awake, his Confusion now gone.
"Alright Torrcat, hit him with Flame Charge at full force!"
"Mud Slap, Dugtrio!"
Torrcat dodged the mud with ease, ramming into the Dugtrio with such force that it knocked it out completely, winning Ash the match.
"Alright, way to go Torrcat!"
"Torr Torrcat Torr!"
Molayne smiled as he recalled his Dugtrio, he couldn't help but smile.
"Way to go Ash, you won fair and square. Looks like I'm a little out of practice."
"Hey, don't sell yourself short, Molayne. You gave me a good challenge."
Molayne then reached into his pocket, and pulled out a Z Crystal.
"I know I'm no longer a trial captain, but for your battling efforts and refusal to give up, I bestow upon you a Steelium Z."
Ash's face lit up in excitement. Looks like he was getting his Z Crystal after all.
"Alright, I got a Steelium Z!"
"What's all the noise?"
Everyone turned to see a short boy, possibly younger than Ash, standing in the entrance, pushing up his welding goggles as he walked outside. Molayne chuckled, rubbing his head in embarrassment.
"Sorry soffy, Ash and I were having a battle. Ash, this is my younger cousin Sophocles. He's your next trial captain."
Ash's eyes bugged out in shock.
"What? But he's like, 8 years old!"
"I'm 13! I'm just short for my age, don't judge."
"Well, can I take the trial now?"
Sophocles closed his eyes for a minute, thinking. He opened one eye slyly, having made his decision.
Ash fell over in shock.
"What? Tomorrow? Is it because I called you short?"
"No, no, not at all. You see, my trial is the project I've been working on all morning. I just finished it, and I need to make sure I work out all of the kinks before anyone can take it."
Ash sighed, but accepted.
"Come on, why don't we give you guys a tour of the observatory?"
"Great idea, Big Mo! Come on, everybody!"
And so Sophocles and Molayne gave the group a tour of the base, giving little tidbits of information as they went. Everyone got a chance to use the large telescope, Ilima even managing to find Pluto!
"Hey Ash, come outside with me. I want to show you something."
Ash followed Kukui outside into the cool night air. He followed him to the edge of the mountain.
"Take a gander over there."
Ash looked toward where Kukui was pointing to find another mountain, much taller than the one they were on. Even craning his neck, Ash could only scarcely see its summit.
"Mount Lanakila, the largest mountain on Alola. Years ago this is where Trial goers faced their final challenge, a gauntlet against the Kahunas of the 4 islands to prove once and for all their growth as trainers. But nowadays that part is almost forgotten about, the battle site long faded away into nothing but rubble amongst the snow. Now trainers are content to just battle the fourth kahuna and call it a day, if they even bother to get that far."
Kukui shed a tear, saddened by the fading tradition, but his face quickly rose back into a grin.
"But after a lot of thinking, I think I've realized why. What does Island Trial Champion really mean? If we're being honest, its just a fancy title we use to give the illusion of importance, but outside of Alola barely anyone has heard of it. What we need is something the world will recognize, something to put the Island Trials on the map. And then it hit me: we need a league. Something to draw in trainers like you from far and wide, something to make people want to grow stronger to become #1."
"Wow, an Alola Pokemon League? That sounds awesome!"
"And I vow here today to build it, to make a league that not only makes the name Alola known far and wide, but brings back the old traditions in a way that will make Alolans proud to call it their own. One day I hope my child will challenge it and feel pride in his old man for working so hard for. One day...one day."
Ash put his hand on Kukui's shoulder.
"I think that's a great dream, Professor. And I promise to help you in any way possible."
"Thanks, Ash. I know with a little hard work, it'll become a reality!"
With that the two headed for the Pokemon Center, heading to sleep excitedly waiting for a new adventure the next day!