Chapter 76: Ash's Next Challenge
Ash, Lillie, and Burnett sat around the television of the house, eyes glued to the screen as the broadcast began. Professor Kukui had told them that he had a major announcement to make that night, and despite their best pleading he wouldn't spill the beans. According to him, it was something that would change the future of the region.
As the screen faded in, Kukui stepped up to the podium. Seated behind him were Lusamine, Mohn, and the four Island Kahunas.
"Greetings, my fellow Alolans. For the past year, the Kahunas and I have been discussing growing problem. Each year, the number of trial goers who complete the Island Challenge decreases at an alarming rate. Concerned, we've been trying to determine the cause of this phenomenon, and I believe we've reached a conclusion. You see, I believe the reason is simply that once you complete it, there's nothing more to it. Sure, you have a nice set of jewelry, but that's it?"
A low murmur ran through the crowd. This was getting interesting.
"Simply put, when you beat all 8 Gym leaders in other regions, you can compete in the Pokemon League. And if you make it all the way to the champion and beat them, you're officially recognized as the strongest trainer there. But we have nothing like that here...until now!"
A loud gasp as Kukui turned on the projector, revealing a slideshow of what appeared to be a construction site in progress.
"Introducing the new Alola League! With the permission of our Island Guardians, we have began construction on a massive stadium deep in the Poni Wilds, where trainers from all over the region will battle it out to become the first champion of Alola! Any questions?"
Almost immediately, the crowd was a buzz with excitement, questions being flung left and right.
"When do you expect to have the project complete, and when will the firs tournament be held?"
"If all goes well, construction will be complete in 2 months. The competition will be held one month after that."
"What requirements are there for competing in the league?"
"In order to qualify, each hopeful trainer must display a Z-Ring containing 10 Z-Crystals. While these do not have to come from the Island Trials themselves, they are the best way to obtain them."
"Are you concerned this new addition to the challenge may upset the tradition of it in any way?"
At this point Hala took over, snatching the Mic from Kakui.
"We asked that ourselves countless times during these deliberations, but I assure you this is not a replacement for the Island Trials in any way. You see, the whole point of the challenge is to bond closer with your Pokémon, to become the best person you can be. What better way to enhance this by having them compete against other trainers for the same goal?"
The crowd nodded in agreement while Kukui took the mic back, wrapping up the conference.
"Thank you, Hala. May this be a grand new chapter in Alola's history. We hope to see all of you there!"
With that, the broadcast cut off, leaving the three of them to contemplate the news. Ash's face slowly crept into a broad grin.
"Oh yeah, Alola League here I come!"
Burnett and Lillie chuckled at his enthusiasm.
"Well, if anyone can do, it's you!"
"And we're behind you 100% of the way! Right, Snowy?"
"Come on, Pikachu! Let's go train!"
Burnett and Lillie laughed as the two rushed off, ready to take on their next challenge.
"He sure is a handful, isn't he?"
"Yes, but he's my handful. And I wouldn't have it any other way."