• Published 11th Mar 2017
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Pokémon Eclipse - moviemaster8510

Two teenaged siblings, having moved to the Alola region from Kalos, set off to complete the famous Island Trials, only for wormholes to appear across the region once again, this time summoning creatures from a mystical world calling themselves ponies

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Chapter 12 – Dual

Hau stood at the platform with his hands excitedly at his hips as Alice stepped up to the side of the white ring opposite from him. As Fluttershy and Susan stood at the edge of the platform beside the steps, several of the townspeople and a couple of other tourists began to gather around to the other sides. Upon seeing the increasing numbers of Alice’s audience, Sam and Benji broke into a brisk jog, Starlight galloping close behind.

“Hurry,” Sam panted as another group of people began to close the gap next to his mom.

He jumped into the last space as he scooted over to make room for his father and Starlight.

“Hey!” An overweight male tourist moved his arm up as Sam took up the space he hoped he would. “You’re not the only one who wants to watch!”

“That’s his sister up there,” Benji remarked, turning only his head to the tourist. “Try and be more considerate.”

The tourist took one step aside, allowing plenty of room for Benji and Starlight to stand. Both Starlight and Fluttershy took another step forward and put their front hooves on the platform floor, being able to peer over and see Alice take out her first Poké Ball.

Hau grinned to see her so prepped to go. “Looks like we’ll be having a much bigger crowd to watch us this time around.”

“Couldn’t imagine a better scenario for when I beat you,” she remarked, lobbing her ball up. “If my brother can beat you with only one Pokémon, I can easily do it with two.”

“Your brother may have had only one Pokémon, but his was the right type to fight against me. You’ll have a much harder time this time around, I guarantee you.”

Hau pulled out his Ultra Ball from the belt on his waist, keeping it in his hand as he crossed his arms over.

“Now, I just have to ask one last time. Are you ready to face me?”

Alice grinned. “Go, Noibat!”

Tossing her ball out, her purple bat-like dragon appeared from the white aura that shot out from it. As Noibat fluttered patiently in the air, Hau smirked wide, expecting nothing less of a response from Sam’s headstrong sister.

“Very well,” he muttered. “Let’s go, Passimian!”

With a throw of his ball, the large, muscular monkey stood before Alice’s Pokémon, suddenly looking nervous as it frantically looked around it for something, bemusing the audience.

Starlight’s eyes widened as it realized what was missing. “It lost it’s–”

“Hey, Passimian!”

The sound of Hau’s voice had his Passimian turn around just as a large, light-yellow melon was lobbed from its trainer’s hand to it. The monkey screeched loudly with joy as it caught the melon in both of its arms, hugging it close with its face and rubbing affectionately against it.

“Looks like he lost it after the last battle,” Hau reasoned.

“Okay, then,” Alice shouted out, “he’s got his little fruit now. Let’s get this started!”

“Right. Passimian, Focus Energy!”

The monkey, already relaxed with its melon in hand, stood on its feet and began meditating with a red aura gently flowing around its body.

“Using up that first turn again?” Alice asked. “Suits me fine. Noibat, use Supersonic!”

Noibat shot a bit further up in the air and kept its head steady and aimed at its motionless target. With a high-pitched whine, transparent rings pulsed out of its ears in quick repetition, the inner spaces perfectly ringing around Passimian.

“Fight it, Passimian!” Hau shouted.

Hau’s Pokémon groaned and grit its teeth as it continued to try and focus as the onslaught of sonic rings began to end.

“That’s it,” Hau exclaimed, “now use Smack Down!”

“Noibat…” Alice kept her mouth open to make her next command, but it hung over at the sight of Noibat focusing on regaining its breath.

Alice looked ahead to see the Passimian holding its melon in its hand, the arm connected to it wound back to throw. Just before the monkey could hurl its weapon at the opponent, it slipped from its hand. The Passimian, as if perplexed by its own body’s motions, continued following through, the force of its throw pulling it forward and forcing itself on its stomach.

“Yes, it worked!” Sam cheered. “Nice one, Noibat!”

Noibat gently squealed in reply, its stamina full again.

“While it’s down,” Alice commanded, “use Aerial Ace.”

Noibat quickly flew in an upward arc over the Passimian, who slowly got up as it fought its uncalibrated limbs. Once it was high enough, Noibat dropped from its ascent and shot down at the Passimian’s back, striking it dead on in the center of the spine, dropping the monkey once more with a piercing screech.

“Okay, that’s it!” Benji shouted with two hard claps.

Hau began to frown with slightly bared teeth. “That’s okay, man! Use another Focus Energy!”

Passimian crawled back to its dropped melon, picked it back up, and stood focused once again as its red aura covered it.

“Wasting another turn?” Alice asked. “Noibat, hit him with another Supersonic!”

Noibat let out another high-pitched scream as the sonic pulses flew back out at Hau’s Pokémon.

“Alright,” Hau shouted, his confident grin returned, “now use Smack Down!”

Before Noibat’s attack could hit, the Passimian opened its eyes and rolled out of its way, its wound-back arm throwing its melon at the distracted Noibat, this time hitting it square in the stomach.

Alice, as well as Susan and Fluttershy gasped as Noibat fell from the air and bounced to the floor onto its back.

“That’s it!” Hau clamped his fist shut. “Now, use Beat Up!”

Passimian lunged forwards into a gallop, Noibat still squirming from the exceptionally hard blow it received. Alice took note of her Pokémon’s position as the Passimian was only a few feet away.

“Deflect it with Wing Attack!”

Hau’s Passimian was now standing over Noibat, with its fist coming down to strike. With a hard slap, Noibat managed to deflect the attack away with the membrane of its wing. Passimian quickly got over its surprise and threw down its other fist, which Noibat also managed to knock away with its other wing.

“That’s it!” Alice shouted.

“Keep going!” both she and Hau shouted.

Passimian wildly struck its hands down on Noibat, several hits being blocked by its opponent, some landing their marks on its stomach or face. Alice continued looking at the sight nervously, knowing that Passimian had the higher ground.

She then saw its left hand come up. “Noibat, quickly, use Bite!”

The hand came down, which Noibat avoided with a juke of its head to the left, shifting back and clamping its sharp teeth down on the monkey’s fist. Passimian squealed with pain as it began stumbling about, whipping its arm to get Noibat off, but to no avail.

Hau grunted to see his Pokémon in such a shape. “Passimian, Beat Up!”

Alice and Sam both gasped as Passimian’s right fist reeled back, a guttural growl from its mouth growing into a piercing shout.

Alice hissed, knowing what she needed to do. “Let go, now!”

Noibat saw the fist beginning to come at it, and at the last moment, it leapt off and opened its wings out, taking the hit right in the chest.

Fluttershy cried out as it watched Noibat wheel back away from Passimian, only to be moderately relieved when it managed to regain its senses and keep a somewhat still flying position before it could hit the ground.

“Come on, Alice!” Susan yelled out.

“You seriously can’t tell me Noibat can’t survive the Passimian when Honedge could!” Sam loudly scolded.

“Shut up, Sam…” As much as she hated to hear it, Alice could tell that Sam was lighting a fire within her.

Hau examined the states of both his Pokémon and Alice’s, a small drop of blood dripping off Passimian’s fist while Noibat’s longer, more forceful wingbeats were each accompanied by an audible whine.

Alice could note her Noibat’s state too. “Noibat, land.”

Noibat stopped flapping its wings, nearly falling straight down, but keeping its form upon its feet hitting the floor.

“Hmm.” Hau looked rather guilty about whatever he had just thought up. “Looks like she lost her air advantage. Passimian, finish Noibat off with Low Sweep!”

With a wave of his hand, Passimian leapt forward, its right leg back and ready to kick. Noibat dug the ends of its wings and its feet to the ground, certain its trainer was planning something.

“Noibat, Aerial Ace!”

Passimian landed and began to run its right foot along the floor, the top aimed squarely at Noibat. Noibat lunged forward, the kick grazing beneath it, leaving Passimian unprepared as Noibat’s right wing slashed at Passimian in the side of the neck. The momentum of the swing made the already unconscious Passimian fall even harder, and with a slight bounce, Hau could tell that it would not get up for the rest of the battle.

“Woohoo!” Starlight cheered, hopping her front hooves on the platform floor.

“Yes…” Sam pumped his fist discreetly.

Hau, with his Ultra Ball in grasp, came up to his Passimian which continued moaning in exhaustion. “Once again, nice job, Passimian.”

Passimian’s whine rose in pitch, acknowledging the compliment as it was returned inside of its ball. Hau put his ball back onto his belt, taking out his Hariyama’s ball as he watched Alice kneel down to her still grounded Noibat.

“You were awesome, Noibat!” she said to it.

Noibat threw its wings open and let out a happy yowl, but clacked her teeth after feeling the strain in its arms and stomach.

“Well, then.” Alice and Noibat were brought back to attention by Hau’s commanding voice. “Looks like you have one more Pokémon of mine to go. Your Noibat looks pretty spent, all things considered.”

“Yeah, and I bet he’ll still make short work of your Hariyama.”

Hau feigned a surprised gasp. “Those be fighting words! Let’s go, Hariyama!”

Hau threw his final Ultra Ball out, his Hariyama appearing from the white energy that came from it and landing on the platform with a heavy bang.

Alice’s cocksure grin refused to leave her face. “Fine with us. He’s still a Fighting-type.”

“And look at how well my Passimian fared against your Noibat. I don’t see more than three hits before I take her out.”

“Hmm, now them’s fighting words. Noibat, Aerial Ace!”

With a beat of its wings, Noibat shot at Hau’s Hariyama, who stood resolutely as it waited for its trainer’s orders.

“Fake Out!” Hau suddenly called.

Before either Alice or Noibat could react, Hariyama clapped both hands together in front of itself, Noibat’s head popping out from the top. Alice gasped as her Pokémon struggled and failed to break free of the Hariyama’s hold.

Hau threw his arm out. “Heavy Slam!”

Hariyama lobbed the disoriented Noibat up, and once it reached the right level on its way back down, Hariyama thrust forward with its shoulder slamming straight into Noibat’s body. With a final scream, Noibat tumbled to the ground and stopped just before Alice’s feet.

“Noibat!” Fluttershy cried out.

“Oh, no…” Susan caged her fingers around her mouth.

Alice knelt down and gently picked Noibat up, flipping it over to look at its face, seeing from it’s lazy eyes and agape mouth that it had fainted.

“Oh, man,” she muttered while taking its Poké Ball from her belt. “Great work, Noibat. Get some rest now.”

Noibat was brought back into the ball, and Alice stood back up as she put the ball back onto her belt, facing Hau and his Hariyama.

“Wow,” Hau said, “my Hariyama didn’t even take a hit there. Looks like your Pikachu and my Hariyama will now get to fight at full strength. Let’s do it, Alice. Last one to go for each of us!”

“Yep…” Alice pulled out her last Poké Ball and tossed it out. “Let’s go, Pikachu!”

Pikachu came out of the ball, suddenly perplexed and wary of its surroundings. Hau took immediate, suspicious attention to how nervously it looked up to the imposing figure of his Hariyama.

“What’s going on?” Benji asked to himself.

The excitement of the crowd itself seemed to die down as they too began to realize that Alice’s Pikachu did not look remotely ready for battle.

“It’s okay, Pikachu,” Alice cooed. “Sam’s Honedge took him out no problem, and I know you can too.”

Sam subtly shook his head as Pikachu faced Hariyama again, its body tensed with preparedness, but its face still showing clear signs of fright.

“Pikachu, Quick Attack!”

Pikachu reeled its body back, and began to run, but rather than the near unfathomable speed that Alice and Hau came to expect, its run was slow, labored, and not the least bit stealthy.

Hau grimaced. “Hariyama, use Knock Off!”

Hariyama bent down as Pikachu came close and swatted it with the backside of its hand, sending it rolling back to Alice with a miserable whine. The crowd gasped at the display as Pikachu stood back up, looking at the ground, dejected and ashamed.

“That’s okay, Pikachu!” Alice called out, fighting the lack of confidence building up in her. “Use a Thunder Shock now!”

Pikachu’s cheeks charged up and with a loud yell, its body went alight and a heavy stream of electricity arced out of it and came down on the Hariyama. Alice, and even Pikachu looked very surprised as Hariyama went down on a knee as it tried to regain its stamina.

“Perfect, Pikachu! I knew you could do it!” Pikachu mewed with a slight renewal of vigor, smiling as trails of steam and static could still be seen coming off of its opponent.

“That’s it…” Starlight whispered.

“Okay, then,” Hau huffed with a smile. “Now go, Hariyama!”

Hariyama ran out at Pikachu, prompting Pikachu to charge out as well, shocking Alice.

“No, Pikachu, wait!” she cried out.

“Close Combat!”

At Hau’s command Hariyama’s hand curled up as its punch began to glow bright red. Alice and Pikachu’s mouths both opened wide as Hariyama’s fist slammed into Pikachu’s body, sending it flying back so hard that upon Alice catching it, she slid back nearly to the edge of the platform.

“Alice!” Sam yelled.

“Is he okay?” Fluttershy asked.

Alice pulled Pikachu away from her bosom to see its face, only for Pikachu lean back in and clutch Alice even tighter. Alice shuddered as she brought her arms back in for a consoling hug. Hau crossed his arms and took a deep breath as Hariyama relaxed its stance.

“Pikachu,” Alice said, “it’s not quite over yet. You just need a bit more…”

Pikachu moaned as its grasp on Alice’s chest refused to let up. Looking back at the ponies, and her family, Sam last of all, Alice sighed as she seemed to figure it all out.

“I see. It’s about that Lucario, isn’t it?”

Pikachu stopped trembling and looked up at its trainer, almost surprised she found it out.

“You do know why I let you on my team, right? After I saw the way you took on my Noibat, a Pokémon I’ve trained for years, I knew you were special. And that’s also why I chose you to take on Gladion yesterday, and I’m truly sorry I didn’t see how unprepared we were.”

Hau’s arms relaxed so that his hands were cradling both his elbows.

“However, I want to remind you…” Alice turned around so that Pikachu could look down at Fluttershy and Starlight on the sidelines. “See them? You’re fighting to help them out, okay? They want to get back home, and the only thing standing in your way right now is that Hariyama.”

Alice turned back to Hau and his Pokémon, and Pikachu stared at Hariyama, who struck its offensive stance, inviting it to conclude their fight. Pikachu’s eyes glimmered, hearing the joyful laughing and cooing of Fluttershy’s voice echoing in its head.

“So,” Alice finally asked. “You got this?”

Pikachu forcefully pushed itself out of Alice and landed to the floor two feet away from her, its back and arms tense and straight and its face determined and almost vengeful. Sam jerked both fists forward and huffed with a smile, while his parents both grinned at their daughter’s natural talents.

Hau chuckled loudly, putting his hands back to his hips. “Nicely said. You both ready to resume the battle?”

“I do believe so.” Alice threw a pointed finger at Hariyama. “Pikachu, let’s make this easier and use Thunder Wave!”

Pikachu purred contently at the command and bounded forward. At the tip of its arc, Pikachu’s glowing cheeks shot out multiple bands of electrical pulses that hit virtually every inch of Hariyama’s front side, making its body and limbs contract and stiffen.

Hau frowned with unpleasant surprise. “Oh no! Quick, Hariyama, use another Close Combat!”

Hariyama attempted to step forward, but couldn’t even get its leg up halfway before it brought it back down, groaning furiously at its sudden impotence.

“Darn…” Hau muttered. “Such power…”

“Alright!” Alice cheered. “Now we have him where we want him. Ready, Pikachu?”

Pikachu cried out in affirmation, and with its audible approval, Alice crossed her wrists over her face. Both Benji and Susan, along with the other audience members sighed in awe as Alice and Pikachu’s movements mimicked each others in perfect synchronicity, finally ending when their arms formed a Z-shape.

Yellow energy shot out of Alice’s back and joined before her before covering Pikachu in its light as the Z-Ring’s insignia pulsed out from Pikachu’s chest. Alice spread her arms and looked to her hands, feeling the warm aura coming off her skin like soft mist.

“This is incredible.” She then turned to face Sam. “Oh my God, Sam, this is amazing!”

“I know,” he replied matter of factly.

Alice turned back to face Hau and his Hariyama, who continued standing still, unable to even lift its arms to defend itself.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Alice said to Hau. “With your Hariyama now paralyzed after a Close Combat, he couldn’t be any more wide open for our next attack.”

Hau bared his teeth, completely astounded yet enraged over Alice’s incidental strategy, though it refused to falter his opponents’ excited grins.

“Let’s do this now, Pikachu! Breakneck Blitz!”

Pikachu darted out at Hariyama so fast that in a single blink of the eyes, Pikachu’s head and hands were rammed into Hariyama’s stomach, the bright red tail of the excess energy still lingering behind it. The immobile Hariyama was slammed to its back and slid back so that Hau had to leap out land on his stomach to keep from getting pushed off the platform.

“Oh, yeah!” Susan shouted in a volume that frightened Fluttershy.

“That was awesome,” Benji could only say in response. “You can do that too?”

“Yeah,” Sam replied. “Just wait, though.”

“Wait for what?”

Hau quickly rolled off of it and knelt to its side, unsure if it actually survived the attack. “Hariyama! Hariyama! You okay?”

Hariyama then surprised Alice and Pikachu as Hariyama slowly, but assuredly stood back up on its own two feet. Hau’s worried expression shifted to one of typecast giddiness as his Hariyama thrust his belly forward, reeled both arms back, and squatted low, a chorus of loud crunching and cracking accompanying it. Both Starlight and Fluttershy slightly retched with their tongues out.

“Hariyama!” Hau happily cried. “You feeling better?”

With a much less labored motion, Hariyama stood with its hands held up and out, the left palm aimed at Pikachu.

“That’s it.” Hau pressed down and cracked his left knuckles with his right hand, revealing his own Z-Ring and Fightinium Z inside of it. “Your brother may have lucked out last battle, but your Pikachu isn’t a Ghost-type. So now, it’s my turn to unleash my own Z-Power!”

“Pikachu,” Alice instructed, “on your marks.”

Pikachu lowered itself just above the ground, ready to intercept whatever would come. Hau crossed his wrists together and with a bright sparkle of his Z-Crystal, he put his arms at his sides, his Hariyama doing the same as well. Sam and Alice looked amazed over the fluidity of Hariyama’s motions as it mirrored Hau’s.

With a spreading of both of their legs, Hau and his Hariyama began punching at the air, finishing with a wound up arm and a final, stronger punch forward. Hau’s body erupted with Z-Power and flowed into Hariyama, the Z-Ring symbol pulsing off of it.

“Alice!” Hau shouted. “Now its your turn to taste a sample of the Z-Power inherited by my grandfather Hala! Now, Hariyama!”

Hau threw both arms out, firey energy trailing out from them.

“All-Out Pummeling!”

Hau then pushed both hands forwards. Though Hariyama’s hands appeared to stay out to the sides, large, bright, orange auras in the shape of its hands began firing at Pikachu in rapid, almost incalculable succession.

“Pikachu, try and dodge it!” Alice ordered.

Pikachu kept its eyes on each subsequent fist that came, jumping and juking to the left and right in the same speed, managing to avoid each palm as they came. Alice braced herself for the ones that passed her Pikachu, only for them to evaporate before they could hit her.

The wind from the force of each hand blew out into Alice and the portion of the audience behind her, who all looked down and closed their eyes as specks of dirt and pebbles blew into them.

“Come on…” Alice managed to peek over her shielding arm, seeing as Pikachu continued to evade the onslaught.

As Pikachu continued dodging, one of its feet finally slipped beneath it, causing it to falter and take one of the last hands dead on, the hand exploding upon contact. Alice gasped as she tried to look through the resulting dust cloud.

Hau also looked into it intently, unsure whether Pikachu managed to tough it out. “Hariyama, fan the cloud away!”

With a wave of the broad side of its hand, most of the dust blew away from where Pikachu last stood, only to be blown away to see Pikachu there, scuffed-up and breathing heavily, but still standing strong. Fluttershy swooned and nearly fainted, only to be caught by Starlight’s body, who couldn’t help but smile, all things considered.

“Unbelievable,” Hau muttered. “After a Close Combat and my Z-Move, her Pokémon still stands.”

“Okay now.” Alice quickly patted as much dirt off her shirt, vest and shorts as she could. “Both of our Z-Moves are used up. Now, we settle this the old-fashioned way.”

Alice held her hand out and motioned her fingers to tell Hau and Hariyama to come forward, making Hau grin again.

“Okay, Alice! Let’s finish this the old-fashioned way! Hariyama, use Knock Off!”

With a dramatic point forward, Hariyama made its charge toward Pikachu.

“Oh, no you don’t! Pikachu, Quick Attack from the back!”

Hariyama chopped at Pikachu, only for Pikachu to run in the opposite direction, and with about ten feet of space between them, dove into the small of Hariyama’s back.

“He’s close now!” Hau shouted. “Try another Knock Off!”

Before Hariyama could fall forwards, it caught himself with its foot and with a push, turn, and lean, managed to bounce Pikachu off and then strike it down to the ground again. Pikachu took a hard bounce and rolled away from its foe.

“No, Pikachu, get up!” Alice cried out.

Alice’s words encouraged Pikachu to quickly stand on all fours again, though its legs began to wobble from fatigue. Hariyama’s standing back up straight also looked slow and strained.

Hau smiled wider, knowing the match wouldn’t last much longer for either of them. “Alright, Hariyama, this should be it! Let’s not take any chances! Use Close Combat.”

Hariyama slapped both of its massive thighs before running out at Pikachu with its hands balling up into fists.

“Don’t let him touch you!” Alice shouted. “Use one last Thunder Shock!”

Bright plasma danced off of Pikachu’s cheeks while it kept its eyes focused on the charging Hariyama. The electricity grew brighter and brighter until Hariyama’s fist began to thrust out at Pikachu’s cheeks. At that moment, Pikachu screamed out and let every ounce of energy zap out from its body, the lightning hitting Hariyama’s hand with such ferocity that it stopped its punch just inches from Pikachu’s face and kept it there. Pikachu continued pressing on, Hariyama groaning as it struggled to keep pushing with the energy beginning to cover its whole body.

By now, the stage had erupted into a ball of light that every human and pony off to the side couldn’t look away from, mesmerized by Pikachu’s strength. At once, the stream of electricity had stopped, leaving Hariyama steaming, but still standing. Making Pikachu and Alice gasp with horror.

“Oh no!” Fluttershy squeaked.

“That’s it…” Hau croaked. “Just a little more, buddy.”

Hariyama raised its hand up, ready to deliver the final blow. Pikachu shifted itself to move, but found its legs could no longer pick themselves up. With no way to escape, Pikachu winced and waited.

However, Hariyama’s eyes began to roll to the back of its head as it swooned forwards, limply falling with its hand still raised. Without the strength to move any of its limbs, Hariyama tipped face first into the floor, it’s hand harmlessly slapping down on the ground to Pikachu’s left.

Pikachu opened its eyes to see Hariyama fainted before it, confusedly looking about to find out what had happened.

“Huhuh…” Susan shuddered, “did she…?”

“She did!” Sam shouted with an ecstatic swing of his fist.

Benji and Susan began to start cheering wildly, followed closely by Fluttershy, Starlight, and the remaining audience members. Alice fell to her knees in exhaustion, only to be met with Pikachu leaping at her and clinging to her chest. Alice was quick to hold on and nuzzle her face into the top of Pikachu’s head in thanks. Fluttershy excitedly threw her arms around Starlight, hopping her up and down. Starlight, also knowing what Alice’s victory meant for them, responded with a tight hug in kind.

Hau approached his Hariyama and pulled out its Ultra Ball. “Once again, very nice job.”

The red beam brought his Hariyama back, and with the battlefield cleared again, he walked toward Alice and her Pikachu, the two of them looking up to him.

“Well, looks like you both did it,” he said. “Now that you’ve completed my trial, you can now head to Akala Island, complete their trials, and look for your friends there. But first…”

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out another Fightinium Z and presented it to Alice in the palm of his hand.

“You have now earned the Fightinium Z, the proof of your victory over me. Congratulations.”

Alice picked up the crystal with her fingers, smiling in reverence as she looked through it with the sun shining behind it. Hau couldn’t stifle a chuckle as Pikachu climbed up onto Alice’s shoulders to look at it as well.

“Now,” he continued, “you don’t need me to teach you how to use it, do you?”

“Nah…” She pocketed the crystal inside her vest. “I think I learned it just fine after Sam beat you.”

“Fair enough.”

Though the applause had long since ended, another set of clapping hands broke through the crowd. Upon the audience parting the way for whoever was clapping, Hau and Alice gasped to see Professor Kukui coming forward and leaping up to the platform.

“Kukui!” Hau addressed.

“Nicely done!” he chortled. “I saw the whole thing from the back. So, where’s your brother and your new friends?”

Sam came up to the stage, approaching his sister, while the ponies stayed put.

“We can trust this guy?” asked Fluttershy.

Starlight shrugged. “Looks like.”

Both ponies leapt to the stage and joined themselves beside Sam, Kukui grinning even wider to see them both in the flesh.

“So these are the ponies I’ve been hearing about,” he said with his hand pinching at his patch of a beard. “So, you’re all here! Sam, I assume you’ve already passed your trial?”

“Uh, yeah!” Sam looked to his Z-Ring, seeing the Fightinium Z inside the face.

“Excellent then. Before you head off to the next island, I have some things I want to share with you back at my lab! Come!”

“Sure thing, Kukui! Can you give us a couple of seconds to pack our things at Hau’s?”

“Of course! Take your time! I’ll be waiting at the town entrance whenever you’re ready!”

“Wait!” Benji and Susan came up to the platform and walked up to Kukui.

“Sorry,” Benji said, “but how long is this meeting of yours going to take? We wanted to spend a little time with our kids at Ten Karat Hill this afternoon.”

“Ha!” Kukui patted Benji hard on the shoulder. “What a coincidence! My lab is actually just outside the entrance to Ten Karat! You can join in on our conversation if you’d like. They are your kids after all. I’ll wait for your kids and their friends, and then I’ll lead you all there!”

“That sounds fine,” Susan responded. “Thank you.”

“Come on,” Hau said, “let’s get you guys ready for the road ahead. I’ll even stamp your trainer passports too.”

Hau walked to Alice’s edge of the platform and stepped off towards his house. As he did so, the rest of the audience began to disperse back into their normal routines. Sam made a step to follow Hau, only to be playfully and lightly bumped into by Alice, who gave him a turn back to him and a cock of her head towards the house. Sam smiled as he, Starlight, and Fluttershy made their way over, leaving Benji, Susan, her Meowstic, and Kukui to wait patiently behind.

“They’re going to Ten Karat Hill?”

The electronic voice from an earpiece was too quiet to be heard by anyone near the platform, especially high up in the trees overlooking the forested path to the Ruins of Conflict.

“Sounds like,” the earpiece’s owner, a young man, replied. “Sounds like they’ll even bring the ponies too. Do you need us to bring them back?”

“How many of them are unicorns?”

“Unicorns? Uh…” the young man’s eyes could barely make out the features on Starlight and Fluttershy’s heads through the leaves as they entered Hau’s home. “Just one, it looks like.”

“Then yes, bring them back. But most of all, ensure they find nothing there.”

“Got it… I’ll let you know how it goes.”

With a small rustle and discreet shaking of branches and leaves, the spy in the trees had disappeared, everyone around the Kahuna’s trial platform none the wiser.

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