• 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 8 – Trials

Gladion was awoken by a slight kick in the right side of his butt. He looked up and saw a bulky and short young woman wearing a snug, khaki body-suit with a purple bonnet, two long black puffy pigtails draping out from the front. Readjusting to his surroundings, he found himself surrounded by rectangular clay houses lined with ruined short clay walls.

“Hapu,” he groggily moaned in acknowledgement, pulling himself up to his feet.

“You’re the last person I’d expect to find sleeping along the side of my house,” she said, her voice rough like sandpaper, but still young and full of energy. “Is this about the wormholes?”

“Yeah. It looks like two creatures came from the one that appeared above Poni–”

“Wait, you saw them!?”

Gladion nodded. “Hiding up in the canyon area. At least they were when I found them, but they got away before I could ask them to come back to Aether Paradise with me.”

“Hold up, hold up. You asked them? Like you thought they would understand you?”

“I did, because they speak and understand the same language that we do.”

Hapu ran her gloved hand over the top of her hair, pulling the bonnet down around her neck before she readjusted it. “How did you find them? I was alerted by Tapu Fini about an hour after the wormhole appeared and even we had trouble locating them.”

“My Lucario’s aura sensing found them. I asked them to help me find the others on the other islands, but one of them distracted me with a Sand-Attack and flew away with the other.”

“So they have wings?”

“Only one of them. She had a bright blue coat and a mane and tail that was color-striped like a rainbow. Dead serious.”

“Like a horse?”

“Yeah, exactly like a horse, though smaller, like a pony. The other one was just… pink.”

“That’s not entirely helpful…”

“Trust me, if you see them, you’ll know.”

“Where do you think they went?”

“It’s a bit hard to say. I may have scared them to the point that they’re both hiding deep in a cave on Poni Island…” he then looked out to the eastern sea. “…however, if I were them, and I was as fast as the blue one was, I’d probably find someplace else to lay low…”

“You mean like…”

“Sorry, Hapu, I need to go.” Gladion stepped away from her a few paces. “If they are still on Poni Island, be careful while looking.”

“I will. Where are you headed first?”

“I’m just going east and working my way over.”

“Good luck to you then.”

“Same.”

Pulling out his Ride Pager, he brought out a metal Poké Ball, and from it, he summoned the Charizard. It crouched down to allow Gladion to easily climb aboard. As the dragon stood up and prepared for flight, Gladion and Hapu shared a last nod just as Charizard squatted and leapt up with its wings beating, sending it and Gladion into the air.

Before the Charizard could level off and fly east, Hapu took out a Poké Ball from her belt and tossed it out, the energy forming into a large brown horse with large, red forelegs, its black mane dreadlocked on the sides while the center was styled in a stiff Mohawk. The horse knelt down on its front legs, allowing Hapu to grab two of its dreads. With a leap, the horse yanked Hapu up and she landed squarely upon its back. Grabbing a firm hold on its shoulder plates, the horse whinnied and galloped off toward the eastern side of the island.

Alice and Sam stood behind the railing on the platform of the Route 2 Pokémon Center, eating their sandwich halves with the ponies sitting on a bench to their right, also enjoying their lunch. Sam and Alice kept their sights on the Verdant Cavern entrance where the trial posts on the sides of the paths beckoned them. Alice noticed as Sam scarfed his last two bites of sandwich at once, leaving barely enough room to chew.

“Sam, come on,” Alice moaned, “slow down. We’re not at home anymore.”

“Wuuww,” Sam said, his voice muffled. It took him a few seconds to swallow enough to sound more legible. “We’re just a few yards away from our first trial, and you, of all people, want me to slow down?”

“Fair enough, but still, we’re not going in there until I’ve finished my sandwich.”

“Grrreat.”

Neither the ponies nor humans bothered to acknowledge the door to the Pokémon center opening, but after several moments, a voice caught Alice and Sam’s attention.

“Hello, there!” Ilima’s voice called out. The brother and sister duo turned to see that it was indeed Ilima approaching them. “Sam and Alice, was it?”

“Yeah, that’s right.” Sam shook the captain’s hand. “We’re just finishing up our lunch now and going straight to Verdant Cavern for our first trial.”

“That’s wonderful!” By now, Alice managed to stand up and shake Ilima’s hand as well. “Now, are you going to introduce me to those two beautiful Pokémon you have with you?”

“Allow me,” Starlight said, clearly charmed by his compliment. Ilima suddenly blushed, his eyes narrowing as Starlight’s half-eyed glare approached him. “I’m Starlight Glimmer, and my other friend over there is Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy, her mouth full of sandwich, could only wave.

“They’re not Pokémon, either. They’re called ponies.” Alice added. “That wormhole that appeared last night? Those two came from another world through it, and we’re doing our trials so we can get stronger and move on to the other islands to find her other friends.”

Illima’s shock began to melt away, but still looked excited over the whole ordeal. “…My, my. How terribly sorry I am for you both. I certainly hope your time on Alola hasn’t been too stressful.”

“On the contrary,” Starlight replied. “Alice and Sam have been wonderful companions, and we’ve also made a pleasant acquaintance with Hau.”

“Have you? I’m very happy to hear that. Well, I don’t wish to waste anymore of your time. I’ll need to make a couple of final preparations before I’m ready, but considering how well these ponies have taken to you, you and your Pokémon shouldn’t have much trouble at all.”

Ilima hurdled over the raling on the platform and spun over, swinging back into the wall and hopping down to the ground before running toward the cavern, the ponies watching him with perplexity as he went inside the cavern and disappeared.

“Interesting,” Fluttershy commented.

“That’s exactly what I said,” Sam responded.

“Well,” Alice said, plopping back down to sit on the floor cross-legged, “looks like I can continue enjoying my lunch while the trial’s being set up.”

“Neat.” Sam walked his way toward the Pokémon Center entrance. “Maybe I’ll take a trip inside and have a tea. Anyone else want something while I’m in?”

“Um, I’ll be fine, thank you,” Fluttershy answered back.

“Juice or water would be fine,” Starlight requested.

“Alice?” Sam pressed. “Anything?”

“I’ve got a water in my bag!” she said back.

Sam nodded and disappeared behind the sliding doors.

“Don’t take too long!” Alice called out.

Realizing she would not receive any kind of reaction from him, she cocked her head in mild defeat and pushed her last bite of sandwich into her mouth with her thumb.

Alice and Sam led Starlight and Fluttershy inside Verdant Cavern, the unicorn holding a clear plastic cup with a straw half-filled with a bright yellow juice in it with her magic. Upon getting fully inside, they stood and gazed upon the place with wonder.

The ground and walls were covered with moss, vines, and ferns, and there were many dipping, rising, and winding pathways around. A chasm in the center of the cave was connected by a long wooden-plank bridge. There were also several rocks and areas inside the wall where small burrows were dug. Several holes in the ceiling allowed a generous amount of sunlight to illuminate the room.

“Welcome!” Ilima called out, stepping from within to greet them. “You arrived earlier than expected. I normally say this as a formality before trainers enter Verdant Cavern, but these trials test the strength and endurance of both Pokémon and their trainers. Once I declare that the trial has begun, neither of you will be allowed to leave until you’ve either completed the trial or all of your Pokémon have fainted. Will you still venture forward, knowing this?”

Sam and Alice gave each other smug, confident smiles.

“I believe the two of us are ready,” Alice answered.

“Then allow me to explain the basics of my trial…” he said.

Just then, a Pokémon scampered out of a den from a rock at the first forked path. It was a foot-long brown mongoose-like creature with two large blonde stripes: one running from its chin to the end of its flat, hairy tail, and one that went from the top of the tail’s tip and down to the top of its head, the tuft of hair giving it the appearance of a combover. Its wide, frowning set of sharp teeth betrayed any sense of cuteness that its beady black eyes and small button nose could have.

“What’s that?” Fluttershy asked.

“I’m not even too sure myself,” Alice said, pulling out her Pokédex and aiming the screen at it.

“Yungoos,” the Pokédex reported, “the Loitering Pokémon. It wanders around in a never-ending search for food. At dusk, it collapses from exhaustion and falls asleep on the spot.”

“Yes,” Ilima continued, “as you can see, quite a few strong Pokémon make their homes in this cave, and what each of you will need to do is to defeat two of the Pokémon in here. And note, that this isn’t a race. Being that you two entered to take on my trial at the same time, you will both take on the next part of the trial at the same time.”

“Next part?” asked Sam.

Just then, a loud roaring echoed out from the back exit of the cavern, unnerving Sam and Fluttershy a great deal.

“What the heck was that?” Starlight asked.

Ilima smirked “Each trial has one particularly strong Pokémon that serves as the final obstacle for trainers to overcome: the Totem Pokémon. Once you have each defeated two Pokémon, come see me at the other end of the cavern, and I’ll take you to the Totem Pokémon inside.”

“Do they have to?” asked Fluttershy. “That Pokémon sounds really big and scary.”

“I don’t think we have too much of a choice,” Sam sighed.

“That’s right!” agreed Ilima, his voice full of vigor. “Lastly, know that you will not be allowed to capture any Pokémon for the duration of your trial. With that said, the trial of Captain Ilima begins now!”

With a rise and throwing down of his arm, Ilima stepped aside and made way for Sam, Alice, and the two ponies.

“So,” Starlight asked, “what are you going to do?”

“I’ll take the den that Yungoos went into,” Alice said. “Sam, you go on ahead.”

“What about us?” Fluttershy asked.

“Right.” Sam looked up at the exit where the Totem Pokémon awaited. “Fluttershy, you stay back with my sister. You don’t mind tagging with me, do you, Starlight?”

“Not at all,” she responded, finishing the last of her juice with a slurp of the straw.

“Excuse me,” Ilima said, walking forward, “might I take your cup? I like to keep the caves as free from trash as possible.”

“Yes, of course.” Using her magic, she levitated the cup into his hands. “Sam, let’s go!”

The two headed down a hill towards a rock being lit by the sunlight, another rocky den just ahead of it. Sam and Starlight both peeked inside, but there didn’t seem to be any activity there.

“Hello?” Starlight called.

Still nothing.

“Let’s try another.” Sam was already running before he could finish his statement, Starlight galloping after him.

“Pikachu, use Thunder Shock!”

Alice’s Pikachu’s cheeks went bright as plasma danced off of it. It then shot a stream of electricity at the Yungoos, where it warbled out in pain before sinking to its stomach, fainted.

“Alright, one left,” Alice said. “Come on, let’s keep going!”

“But what about the poor Yungoos?” whimpered Fluttershy.

“It’s alright,” Ilima said from behind. “It will wake up in a few moments, and I’ll nurse it back to fuller health once the trial’s over. You should continue with your friend now.”

“Come on!” Alice had climbed herself onto a ledge further down to the left with another one above her.

Fluttershy flapped her wings and flew up to the top of the drop as Alice pulled herself up, brushing the dirt off her mildly scuffed legs.

“There’s one further up!” Alice exclaimed with a point. “Just a little further!”

Both Alice and Fluttershy ran toward it.

Sam crawled out of a small rock tunnel near the back right corner of the cave, his eyes set on another den just ahead. Sam stepped back and crouched down to see Starlight’s legs through the hole.

“It’s all clear!” he shouted, watching her lean down and examine the hole herself. “What are you–”

He was cut off by Starlight appearing before him in a bursting bubble of turquoise light, making him jump back a foot with a yelp near the den’s entrance. He then felt a quick scratching at the heels of his shoes along with a distressed squeak, making him leap forward a foot and turn back around, coming face to face with a black rat with a brown underbelly and cheeks and two large buck teeth, two locks of hair coming from the side of its snout like a moustache.

“What is that?” Starlight asked, looking a bit afraid with Sam.

“I think it’s a Rattata,” Sam answered with a whipping out of his Pokédex, “but…”

“Rattata,” the Pokédex said, “the Mouse Pokémon. With their strong capacity for survival, they can live in dirty places without concern. Left unchecked, their numbers multiply rapidly.”

Sam looked closely at the entry, smiling as he saw a black bar up at the top reading DARK next to a grey one that read NORMAL. “Aw, perfect,” he said, pulling out his only Poké Ball. “Honedge, let’s go!”

His Pokémon came out of the ball, standing before the Rattata that began hissing at it.

“Alright, Honedge, use Fury Cutter!”

Honedge’s blade glowed a faint green, and with Sam miming a wide, downward swing to the right, Honedge mimed the motion, its blade striking Rattata in the side of the ribs.

“Come on out, Mr. Yungoos!” Fluttershy’s voice echoed inside the den with no response. “Shoot! Maybe something else. Come on out, Mrs.–”

“There’s nothing there!” Alice went off again, climbing up another ledge to the back cavern exit.

Fluttershy sighed and ran off to follow her.

The Rattata went down and fell to its side, lying still in defeat. Honedge flexed its cloth arm with a determined squint in its eye.

“Well done,” Starlight complimented.

“Let’s not celebrate too early,” Sam said. “We have one more to go and then the Totem Pokémon.”

“Well where do you think the last one is? We’ve checked our side and only found one Pokémon, and I don’t think your sister’s found more than one, so…”

“I’ll bet these caves are connected. They take trainers on a ride trying to exhaust them both physically and mentally by hiding in dens and taking hidden tunnels to another.”

“So, where to then?”

“I’m going to check the first one we did again!”

Before Starlight could object, Sam ran down a hill back toward the entrance and shuffled along the wood bridge and looking straight ahead. As Starlight quickly went out to follow him, he stopped at a ledge leading them back to the beginning, seeing a slight glimmer hidden in the dirt.

Starlight slid to a stop upon reaching him “Sam?”

“Yeah, give me a minute.”

Starlight huffed and stamped her hoof impatiently as Sam went to investigate.

Alice knelt down and peered into the den in the upper-right of the cavern, another Rattata popping out from it, taking a swipe at her face. Alice leapt back in time as she fidgeted for another Poké Ball. Fluttershy, having seen what it did, crouched down to the black rodent with a furious scowl.

“Hey, Mr. Mouse!” she spat, the Rattata holding its ground while arching in defensively, hissing at her. “Don’t try and scratch at her like that! Why would you do something mean like tha–”

“Headbutt, now!”

Fluttershy was suddenly taken aback with a fearful squeak as Alice’s Pikachu slammed the top of the Rattata’s face and sent it into the back of the cave wall. The rat got back to its feet and shook the disorientation out of its head. Fluttershy looked up to Alice as she tossed Pikachu’s Poké Ball up repeatedly.

“Don’t worry about it,” Alice said, “I’ll teach it a lesson. Thunder Shock!”

Volts of electricity shot from Pikachu’s cheeks at the opponent.

Sam climbed the last ledge up to the den at the back left of the cavern, which Starlight ascended with a single jump. Sam called his Honedge out of its Poké Ball and ran straight to the hole, sliding on its stomach toward it.

“Wakey wakey!” he shouted, scuttling back as fast as he could.

Fortunately for him, a Yungoos chased at him out of the hole, only to have Honedge’s blade wall him off. Alice and Fluttershy ran toward them, standing at the edge of the ledge with the cavern exit just behind them. Honedge raised itself back and stood between its trainer and the miffed Yungoos, giving Honedge a couple of warbled barks.

“Let’s try this out,” Sam said. “Honedge, use Brick Break!”

“Brick Break?” Alice and Fluttershy questioned together.

Sam crouched down and kept his right arm and fist out, Honedge getting low and swinging wide to the right. Sam then lunged forward and swung to the right, Honedge following through and striking the Yungoos in the side from its shoulder to its thigh.

The hit was enough to send Yungoos flying off toward the ledge to its right. Sam quickly knelt down and slammed his wrist to the ground, Honedge flying over on the other side of the ledge and caught the Yungoos as it flew over. Fluttershy and Starlight sighed with relief as Honedge gently laid the still-fainted Pokémon down on the ground.

Ilima hopped up each ledge from the beginning to meet the group, taking a glance back at the Yungoos Honedge had saved. “Well done! That was a very impressive Brick Break your Honedge did there.”

“Yeah,” Alice interrupted, leaning over to look Sam in the eye, “how did your Honedge manage to learn that?”

“I found a TM by one of the ledges,” Sam answered. “Actually surprised you didn’t see it seeing as how you went that way first.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? Hit ya’ sista’ up!”

Ilima chuckled as Alice got close up to Sam as he fidgeted a small, brownish-orange disk from his bag and tried handing it to her.

“You two make whatever final preparations you must,” he said, walking toward the cavern exit. “Whenever you’re ready, join me outside.”

“You need any potions too?” Sam asked his sister.

Alice took her Pikachu out, where it stood beside her, looking around in confusion over the lack of any other Pokémon to fight. “No, I actually found a couple Super Potions on the ground though, but since you offered…”

“Nope.”

Sam took a red spray-bottle with a golden head and trigger and doused Honedge with a couple of misty puffs while Alice knelt to her Pikachu, holding the TM up.

Alice and Sam stepped outside with Honedge and Pikachu, the ponies behind them all. Ilima stood beside a cylindrical, tribal pedestal at the end of the craterous area they found themselves in. A large slot in the pedestal was carved out at chest hight, where two opaque light-grey gems sat, glimmering seductively.

“Congratulations!” Ilima’s voice was amplified by the surrounding rocky walls. “You have made it to this point. All that you must do now is advance and take the Normalium Z that sits in this pedestal!”

“Oh, well, geez!” Alice said in a sarcastically low voice, exaggerating a casual walk cycle up to the pedestal. “That was easy. I sure do hope there isn’t a totem Pokémon that’ll–”

Halfway across, Alice was stopped by a loud duet of roaring. She turned back with her fingers pressed to her cheeks, her mouth and eyes comically wide open. Leaping from a hole high up at the back center of the wall was a Pokémon resembling the Yungoos, only six times larger once it stood on its hind legs with its hands behind its back. The tuft of blonde hair on its head also protruded out like a cap, and it kept its eyes closed, the lids white enough to look like they were open. Coming out of the same hole and standing beside the other Pokemon was a fat five-foot black rat with large beige cheeks making its red eyes squint in an angry look.

Alice turned around once both Pokémon landed, her face frozen in her fake expression of surprise and terror as it slowly became more genuine. She then shrieked as she ran back with her friends and Pokémon.

“Holy hell!” Alice shouted, her arm shaking as she pointed to them. “Those things are huge!”

“Are they mutants?” Fluttershy asked.

Sam pulled out his Pokédex and scanned them both, starting with the titanic mongoose.

“Gumshoos,” the Pokédex spoke, “the Stakeout Pokémon. When it finds a trace of its prey, it patiently stakes out the location, but it's always snoozing by nightfall. Raticate, the Mouse Pokémon. Its disposition is far more violent than its looks would suggest. Don't let your hand get too close to its face, as it could bite your hand clean off.”

“How lovely,” Sam deadpanned. “Alright, come on guys, let’s–”

The two Pokémon roared at Alice and Sam, some kind of energy exerting from them that blew into Sam and Alice strong enough to almost knock them over. When the force died down, Alice noticed with a gasp as the Gumshoos and Raticate were now glowing with a wispy orange aura.

“What’s this now?” asked Alice.

“As the totem Pokémon,” Ilima explained, “they have been granted additional power by the island guardian. You and your Pokémon will need all their wits in order to survive this battle.”

From the edge of the crater directly above the Verdant Cavern back-entrance and out of sight, Tapu Koko watched intently, its eyes shimmering brighter than normal.

“Honedge,” Sam called, “let’s do this!”

“You’re already out, Pikachu, so give it to 'em.”

The Pikachu leapt out to join Honedge’s side, the two Totem Pokémon growling at them in provocation.

“Sam,” Alice said to her brother, “let’s get the Raticate first. Brick Break will hit it especially hard.”

“You don’t need to tell me,” Sam said. “Honedge…”

“Pikachu…”

“…use Brick Break on Raticate!” they ordered in unison.

At once, Honedge and Pikachu charged, Raticate advancing itself. With it’s front teeth opening, it directed itself at Honedge. It bit down on it hard, the Honedge wincing, but quickly felt relief as Pikachu’s foot drove right into the side of its gut, forcing Raticate off. The Gumshoos cried out into the sky and then spun itself, picking up a giant cloud of dirt and throwing it over the entire area.

“Woah!” Fluttershy exclaimed. “It must be very strong to make a dust cloud that big!”

Honedge dove into the cloud where it last saw the Raticate and swung where it stood, but found that it already disappeared inside.

“Don’t worry!” Sam called out. “Just wait.”

“Sam,” Alice hissed, “what are you–”

“Waiting…” He began clenching his fists.

He could just barely make out Honedge’s shadow in the Sand-Attack that Gumshoos had made.

Alice grunted as her patience ran thin. “Pikachu, Quick Attack on Raticate, now!”

Pikachu sped through the cloud, its eyes forcing themselves closed as the dust stung with each step. Blinded, Pikachu could not see as a Yungoos and a Rattata both charged it on both sides, Yungoos’s Tackle hitting Pikachu’s head and the Rattata’s hitting its ribs.

Its cries of pain were clear to Alice. “Pikachu!”

Sam glanced to his sister, and refocusing himself, he almost missed as Raticate came barreling at Honedge, who still awaited Sam’s instructions.

“He’s in your sights!” he quickly hollered. “Brick Break, now!”

Sam spun out and arched back, swinging his “sword” up and out. Honedge sensed its trainer’s motions, staring low from the ground and slicing upwards, striking Raticate square in the jaw and sending it flying back. Honedge looked down over its fallen opponent, seeing that it was not getting back up. Ilima could see this much through the dust cloud.

“Raticate is unable to battle!” Ilima loudly confirmed.

“Yes!” Starlight cheered with a clapping of her hooves. “Way to go!”

Honedge turned to face Sam and Starlight, raising its scabbard triumphantly. In its distraction, it couldn’t see as the Gumshoos clamped down on its blade and continued running with it out of the dust cloud and into the open.

“Oh no!” Starlight’s shift from jovial to worried came in an instant.

“Pikachu, hurry!” Alice cried. “Brick Break on the Gumshoos!”

Pikachu galloped out from the cloud immediately, bending its path straight toward Gumshoos’s head. Leaping up, Pikachu connected its fist into Gumshoos’s face, making it let go of Honedge. Sam and Alice looked to each other, Sam giving her a thankful nod.

Now freed, Honedge could see as the Yungoos and Rattata charged forward from the dust cloud to help its ally out.

“Sorry,” Sam growled, “but one of you is taking one for the team. Honedge, Brick Break on the Ratatta!”

As the Rattata came closer, Sam watched its movements and bent back, swiping to the left. Honedge swung left as well, hitting Rattata and sending it flying off. Yungoos ran past Honedge and to Pikachu, its teeth glowing bright as it opened up and yelled.

“Oh no,” Sam whispered, knowing what was coming.

Pikachu turned around just as Yungoos leapt out at it, and before Pikachu could run, the Hyper Fang made its mark, Yungoos’s teeth clamped right on Pikachu’s face. Pikachu screamed out with beads of tears forming in the corner of its eyes.

“Pikachu!” Fluttershy’s voice cracked to the point of near-incomprehensibility, her tears also beginning to appear.

“Pikachu!” Alice continued to look cool under pressure. “Thunder Shock now!”

Pikachu screamed out as it went aglow, the electric energy running over Yungoos as well, making Fluttershy gasp. Yungoos’s cries allowed itself to let go, but it could not close its mouth as it fell the ground gurgling weakly.

“Yungoos is unable to battle!” shouted Ilima. “You’re halfway there!”

Pikachu breathed slowly and weakly. As Honedge went over to check on its own ally, Sam and Alice then noticed as Gumshoos stood itself back up and slowly turned back, towering over them. It leaned down and opened its mouth at Honedge, prepared to bite again.

“Oh no,” cried Starlight, “Honedge!”

Sam crossed his arms, hugging them close to his chest, and Honedge got into its X formation, its eye closed as it awaited the inevitable.

“Come on, buddy…” Sam clenched his fists tighter as if it would help.

Honedge could practically feel the warmth of Gumshoos’s mouth, but felt it end as it bit down, but not on itself. Opening its eye, it saw as Pikachu was locked in the Gumshoos’s jaws, a wheeze only able to escape its own mouth as it grew limper.

“Pikachu!” screamed Alice.

“No!” Sam shouted with boiling fury. “Honedge! Brick Break.”

Honedge’s pupil wavered in sadness as Pikachu ceased movement in Gumshoos’s mouth, but a gradual squint of its eye showcased its impending rage, which Sam could feel just as strongly. Honedge didn’t even wait for Sam’s motions, swinging straight up and hitting Gumshoos directly in the chest, knocking the wind out of it and knocking Pikachu out of its mouth, where it fell with a slump.

“Pikachu is unable to battle!” Ilima called out.

Alice unclipped Pikachu’s Poké Ball and returned it inside. She looked at the front and rested her head onto the red top half.

“Thank you,” she whispered. “You were incredible.”

Unbeknownst to her, Honedge watched as Gumshoos slowly got back on its feet, only to get blindsided by the Ratatta, which spun itself midair and smacked Honedge with its tail, sending it flying close to Sam’s feet. The noise of the slide brought back Alice’s attention, looking back up, as Gumshoos and Rattata approached it from both sides.

“Hold on, Honedge!” Alice shouted as she fidgeted Pikachu’s Poke Ball back to her belt and grabbed Noibat’s. “Help is on the way! Noibat, Aerial Ace on the Gumshoos, now!”

Alice threw out her Poké Ball. Gumshoos reached its mouth down on Honedge. Energy flew out from Alice’s Poké Ball and Noibat soared from out of it, banking tightly around with its sights set on its target. With a swipe of its wing into Gumshoos’s face, Gumshoos was brought down yet again, but managed to catch itself before it could fall flat on its stomach.

Honedge felt invigorated to float back up and face the Rattata, which hissed at it, only provoking Honedge into approaching. Rattata jumped out and swung its tail again, but Sam and Honedge were prepared, Sam’s arms and Honedge’s blade and scabbard forming an X just as the attack hit.

“Let’s take it easy now,” Sam huffed. “Finish it with Fury Cutter!”

Honedge’s blade glowed a light green as Sam thrust his arm forward and slashed out to the right. Rattata tried jumping out of the attack's way, only for the side of Honedge’s blade to follow it, and when Honedge’s blade was swung, it hit Rattata along its entire side, and when it hit the ground, it laid still.

“Rattata is unable to battle!” Ilima shouted. “Only the Totem Gumshoos is left!”

“Come on...” Starlight quickly tapped her front hooves in anticipation and dreadful excitement.

Meanwhile, Gumshoos, its eyes now on Noibat, leapt forward with near incalculable speed, taking Noibat by surprise. With its mouth open, an aura of two rows of large sharp teeth appeared over Noibat’s body, which brought itself down on it and shattered on impact.

“Ah!” Alice shouted as her last Pokemon fell. “Noibat!”

The Pokémon landed hard, but immediately tried getting back up, though in its weakened state, it labored.

“Fury Cutter!” Sam’s voice rung back out.

Honedge darted at Gumshoos, the side of its blade headed right at it as it swung towards it. The Gumshoos, however, jerked its head and sights right at Honedge, its eyes flashing with a harsh red flare. Honedge’s speed dropped, but the hit still made its mark, knocking Gumshoos’s upper body down.

“Why would it waste a Leer?” Sam questioned, his eyes widening shortly after realizing. “Alice! I think you only need one more good hit!”

Noibat looked to Honedge, whose half-open eye implied how exhausted it must have been. Looking back up at Gumshoos, who looked down at the two, Noibat crouched, ready to leap into action on Alice’s word. Alice watched as Gumshoos tried to roar, but swooned before it could, making her smirk.

“You heard him!” Alice shouted. “Hit ‘em with Wing Attack!”

Noibat sprung up towards Gumshoos’s stomach, passing by its arms as it tried to grab it. Swinging both wings in, the bars of Noibat’s wings rammed into Gumshoos’s gut and continued pushing, even as a sickening gurgle escaped its mouth.

With Noibat pushing off, Gumshoos fell slow like a large tree but limply as rubber. Noibat flew up high as Gumshoos crumpled to the ground, its mouth slack and its breathing slow and tired. Ilima looked upon the spectacle and raised his arm.

“The Totem Gumshoos is unable to battle! Sam and Alice have defeated Ilima’s Island Trial!”

Sam released all the tension built up inside of him, and he too felt like he could fall, only to be grabbed by Alice and jumped around with as she laughed and whooped at their victory. Fluttershy and Starlight also cheered, standing on their hind legs and smacking both front hooves against each other’s. Noibat swooped down towards Honedge, who found the strength and energy to wrap its entire cloth arm around its ally’s body and hug it close, bouncing and spinning around slowly.

“Congratulations, you two.” Ilima’s words ended everyone’s celebration, as did Gumshoos, Raticate, Yungoos, and Rattata as they joined him on either side. “Even when faced with two Totem Pokémon, you and your Pokémon took them head on and came out victorious. I really am stunned beyond words to describe the bond your Pokémon must share.” Honedge joined Sam’s side and Noibat perched itself on Alice’s shoulder as he said this. “I suppose there’s little else I can say. You may each take the Normalium Z from the pedestal. You’ve earned it.”

Sam and Alice looked to each other before walking together to the pedestal, Noibat hopping off to stay behind while Ilima followed them. Fluttershy and Starlight both looked up at Gumshoos and Raticate, the former motioning its head to allow them to pass with their friends.

“I, um…” Fluttershy responded, “think we’ll be fine here.”

Once Sam and Alice reached the pedestal, they looked inside inquisitively, each one taking a gem for themselves. As they gazed at it, shifting their hand to feel the weight, Ilima stopped before them.

“I also notice that you both have a Z-Ring,” he said. “That means you can use that Normal Z-Crystal. Just be sure that it’s inside your Z-Ring and that one of your Pokémon has a Normal-type move it can use. Then you strike a pose, like so…”

Sam and Alice watched intently, as Ilima crossed his arms in front of his face, the left over the right. After staying still for a few moments, Sam and Alice jerked back into attention, also repeating him. Once he knew they were following, he arced both arms out and to the sides, Sam and Alice quicker to follow. Ilima and the siblings continued, as Ilima then brought both arms out with the left crossing over the wright at the wrists.

He then swung his arms down to the right and then brought his left arm up, forming a diagonal slant. Finally, he swung his right forearm into the center of his stomach and his left fist into the center of his head, the arms forming a “Z” with the fists aligned in the center. Ilima smiled as both Alice and Sam’s arms were exactly like his own.

“Perfect!” he bellowed. “You’re naturals, both of you. With that, I bid you adieu, and thank you for the wonderful trial.”

“No,” Alice said, with a corny handshake and point, “thank you!”

“But seriously,” Sam said, shaking Ilima’s hand more casually, “thank you for everything.”

“I wish you and your pony acquaintances the best in your quest,” Ilima finally bid.

“Thanks!”

With that Sam and Alice ran back with the ponies and their Pokémon, the six of them walking back inside Verdant Cavern. Ilima kept his eyes on them and cradled his arms affectionately with a warm, hopeful smile as he watched them disappear inside.

Stepping down the stairs from the Route 2 Pokémon Center, Alice and Sam quickened their pace as the hilly path began to steepen, Fluttershy and Starlight closeby.

“Um, Sam?” Sam turned to hear Starlight. “Not to sound ungrateful or mean, but, your Honedge is your only Pokémon, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“I’m just concerned is all. Your sister has two with her, and several times already, her Pokémon had to jump in to save yours. I just want to ask, if the time comes when you have to battle alone, do you think Honedge can do it?”

“I’m not too worried.” Alice turned to listen in. “I may not be quite the trainer my sister is, and I know my party is literally half of what hers is, but I like to make up for that by having Honedge fight twice as hard. And that doesn’t mean I won’t have new Pokémon with me down the line, it’s just that I want a team that’s mine and mine alone.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Alice.

“You know how close I am to Honedge,” he continued “I want a team of Pokémon that will fight for me like Honedge does; one that can function as one like I do with him. I want a team that I too would fight for and protect.”

As the group came upon the canyon pass of Route 3, Starlight’s ear twitched, something in the air not feeling right.

“Not to be Mrs. Dreamkiller,” Alice said, “but now that we have something a little more important than completing the Island Trials on our shoulders, I don’t think we can afford for you to wait until that special some-Pokémon falls from the sky and into you lap–”

“Look out!”

Starlight’s horn went aglow as an aura wrapped around Sam’s backpack and yanked it backwards, sending Sam back with it. Even in his shock, Sam could see as a shard of ice shot down from above and stuck into the ground, mere inches from where Sam would have stepped had it not been for Starlight’s interference.

Looking up, they saw as a black, weasel-like creature with a red, organic headdress, collar, and tail with large white claws leapt down the canyon from wall to wall. Once it landed down, appearing in full to the group, something else began sliding down the canyon and to the ground. It was Gladion. Alice and Sam looked up to him with confusion and fright as he stood behind his Pokémon, Starlight and Fluttershy both horrified and entranced by Gladion’s hungry stare.

“You’re not the ones I’m looking for,” he said, “but you’ll do.”

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