I knelt there holding Smokey in my arms. His breathing was stable but weak. He was just one attack from being knocked out. Two more of my Pokémon laid in their Pokéballs unable to battle and Smokey was close to the same. I was crying. Tears streamed down my face and my vision was blurry. I was audibly sobbing as Smokey tried to purr.
“Torra,” His voice was soft and wavered.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up.
There was Captain Kiawe crouching down next to me. I wanted to be angry at him. To yell and scream. But I didn’t. I was calm.
“That was a good effort,” Kiawe spoke. His voice was strong but calming.
“I…I…I lost,” I managed to say.
Kiaw nodded his head a little.
“We all get knocked sometimes, Alexis,” Kiawe said. “Losing is all a part of the journey.”
I noticed footsteps get louder as Lillie and Hau ran up behind us.
Kiawe continued, “You’re going to meet challengers that are tougher than you, smarter than you, and even stronger than you. Sometimes you can beat them and sometimes they can beat you. Pokémon battling is about honing a skill, testing your knowledge, and getting lucky.”
“Alexis, are you alright?” Lillie asked.
I shook my head no.
“Not…really,” I said wiping tears from my eyes.
“Come on Alexis, let’s go get your Pokemon healed up, ok?” Kiawe asked.
I nodded my head.
Both Hau and Kiawe helped me to my feet. I continued to hold Smokey tight against my body. His warm fur brought me some comfort.
Kiawe lead us towards the back of the gym. There was a small medical room with supplies. It looked like what I imagined the Pokémon Center looked like behind closed doors.
All four of us were quiet as he lead us down the hallway.
Kiawe broke the silence.
“May I see your Pokémon?” Kiawe aske me.
I hesitated but eventually I handed him Smokey as well as the Pokéballs of Bouncee and Mud Puddle. He laid down Smokey on the doctor’s table. Kiawe then opened the other two balls to reveal Bouncee the Steenee and Mud Puddle the Mudbray both on the Doctor’s table. They laid still, but I could see their bodies rise and fall with each breath.
“I’m going to give them both some medicine, food, and water,” Kiawe said. “It will be a few hours before your Pokémon are healthy.”
“I want to wait here,” I said in a soft voice.
Kiawe nodded. “You can wait in the next room over and I will retrieve you when they are ready.”
“No, I want to stay here with them,” I said.
Kiawe gave me a stern look but it broke into sympathy.
“Come on Alexis,” Lillie said. “Let’s wait in the other room.”
“Yeah it’s just right next door,” Hau said.
I looked at my friends who had worried looks on their faces. I wanted to argue and fight, but I knew that it didn’t make much sense to stay here. Right next door was fine.
“Ok,” I said with a sigh.
Hau, Lillie, and I all walked over to the room next door. It was a spare bedroom similar to the one that I got to shower in before the battle.
All three of us sat in there not saying a word. I sat at the desk in the corner while Lillie sat on the bed with Nebby and Hau paced back and forth.
I placed my face in my hands. My face was still damp from my tears.
After a while, Hau spoke up.
“I’m going to go to the kitchen to grab some food and drink. Anyone want anything?” Hau asked.
I shook my head no.
“Just grab some stuff for all of us,” Lillie said.
Hau nodded and left the room. I folded my arms and laid my head down looking over at Lillie on the bed.
“They’re going to be fine,” Lillie said.
“Its my fault they’re like that,” I said. “I’m the reason they got hurt.”
“Alexis,” Lillie sighed. “You know that I’m not big on Pokémon battles. I…I…I’m not a trainer like you and Hau. But what I do know is that your Pokémon love you and you love them. You guys care for each other and would do anything for you.”
“Maybe I should just stop,” I said raising my head and wiping my eyes.
“You’re going to stop battling?” Lillie asked.
“I…I think I might just stop with the Grand Trial altogether,” I said. “It’s obvious that I was just getting lucky so far. I wasn’t able to beat Gladion and now Kiawe. I’m not a good trainer.”
Lillie seemed to flinch at the name Gladion.
“Is this about him or about the trials?” Lillie asked.
I opened my mouth when Hau walked in with sandwiches, chips, and drinks.
“What are we talking about?” Hau asked.
I fell silent.
Lillie looked at me and then to Hau.
“Alexis is talking about stopping the trials,” Lillie said.
Hau’s mouth fell wide open.
“What? Alexis? Really?” Hau asked.
“Yeah maybe,” I said shyly.
“You can’t give up,” Hau grew serious. “You’re the strongest trainer I know.”
“Hau I’m not strong,” I said. “I couldn’t beat Gladion and I couldn’t defeat Captain Kiawe. Both times my Pokémon got hurt and I couldn’t help them. I failed them.”
An awkward silence filled the room.
“You didn’t fail Nebby,” Lillie whispered.
“What?” I turned to her.
“You didn’t fail Nebby,” Lillie repeated louder. “When you first met me and Nebby, you risked your life to save Nebby. You didn’t know us. You didn’t owe us anything. You just did it. That’s why you’re a great trainer.”
I stood there speechless.
“She’s right you know,” Kiawe was standing in the doorway.
“How…how long have you been standing there?” Lillie asked trying to conceal Nebby behind her back.
“Long enough to know that Alexis here is thinking about quitting right when things get tough,” Kiawe said.
“I…I…” I stammered.
“Come on, you’re Pokémon are ready for you,” Kiawe said leaving the doorway.
I rushed behind him and followed him into the room.
There stood Smokey, Bouncee, and Mud Puddle
I burst into happy tears.
“You guys are all ok!” I said.
I ran forward and threw my arms around the three Pokémon.
“Yeah they are all happy and healthy,” Kiawe said with a smile.
“Thanks Kiawe,” I said.
“That’s what Captains are here for,” He said.
Kiawe handed me my Pokéballs and I opened them up. All three of my Pokémon returned to their Pokéballs to rest.
“I’m also here to talk you out of quitting,” Kiawe said.
“Kiawe. I can’t beat you,” I said.
Kiawe laughed which made my jump a bit.
“And why do you say that?” He asked.
“You destroyed me,” I explained. “You knocked out all three of my Pokémon before I could knock out Marowak.”
“And why do you think that is?”
I stood there for a second confused.
“Because you’re stronger than me. You’re Pokémon are stronger than mine,” I said.
“Perhaps. But you know more than that. Pokémon battling is about way more than just raw power, right?”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“There’s strategy and there’s type match ups,” Kiawe explained. “Do you know what typing Marowak is?”
“Well in Kanto, they are Ground types,” I said.
“In the Alola region, Cubone, Marowak’s pre evolution, is a Ground-type Pokémon. However, when Cubone evolves, it becomes Alolan Marowak. The Alolan variant of Marowak is a Fire/Ghost-type.”
“Fire and Ghost?” I asked.
Kiawe nodded his head.
“That’s why my moves like Stomp and Rapid Spin had no effect,” I said.
“Exactly,” Kiawe agreed.
“It helps to know your opponent and what Pokémon they are using. To know their weaknesses and their advantages,” Hau chimed in.
“Exactly Hau,” Kiawe said. “You see, Alexis. If you would have known that, you would have had a better chance against my Pokémon. No matter how much strength your Pokémon has, you need to know the type matchups and how to get advantage over your opponent.”
Kiawe continued, “Your Mudbray has Ground Typing which would help against my Fire-type Pokemon so that was a smart lead, but since Marowak can still learn Ground-type Moves, it’s a close matchup. I’d suggest you go to Brooklet HIll, talk to Lana, and get yourself a Water-type Pokémon. That would help a great deal.”
“Yeah I think a Water-type Pokémon would help my team,” I said.
“Do we have to go all the way down this volcano just to climb it again?” Hau asked.
Lillie let out a groan.
“I’m really not feeling like climbing this volcano more than once,” Lillie said.
“Don’t worry, I have a way to get you down this volcano with no problem,” Kiawe said with a smile.
Kiawe told us to gather our stuff and clothes that had been cleaned. He also told us to keep the red and black track suits. Then we followed him beyond the medical room. He opened a door and we were in a garage of some kind. Tools hung on the walls. There sat a large Jeep parked in the garage.
Kiawe gestured the to the Jeep, “Here we go. This is our ride.”
“We’re taking this down the volcano?” Lillie asked.
“Is there enough room for all of us?” I asked.
“Yeah there’s plenty of room for all of us,” Kiawe said. “Plus this will keep the ash off of us since it is completely enclosed.”
“That’s a major plus,” Hau said.
“Come on, let’s go!” Kiawe said as he hopped into the Driver’s seat.
We all piled into the backseat of the Jeep and put on our seatbelts. I sat in the middle with Hau sitting behind Kiawe and Lillie on my right, behind the empty passenger seat.
“What no one trusts me enough to sit up here with me?” Kiawe asked.
“We’re just comfortable back here, together,” I said with a smile.
“Fair enough,” Kiawe gave me a wink.
We traveled down the volcano much faster than our journey lasted coming up the mountain. We took the paved road which Kiawe told us he was doing by himself, and eventually we went off road. It was really bumpy. The Jeep’s suspension minimized it some, but we still bounced around in the car.
Finally we came to the bottom of the Volcano near the entrance to Royal Avenue.
“Well thanks for the ride, Kiawe. That was way faster,” Hau said.
“Yeah and there’s no ash on us,” Lillie said.
“Thanks again Kiawe, for everything,” I said.
Kiawe gave us a huge smile, “No problem, everyone. I’m looking forward to the rematch, Alexis and the battle against Hau.”
We said our goodbyes and we began to walk away. Before we could get too far.
“Hold on Alexis.”
We turned and Kiawe was running towards us.
“What is it, Kiawe?” I asked.
“I forgot one thing,” Kiawe said holding out a Pokéball.
I quickly checked my bag.
“I have all my Pokémon,” I said.
“I know. This is my Pokémon,” Kiawe began.
“I couldn’t take your Pokémon, Kiawe.”
Kiawe held up his hand.
“Just listen, Alexis. This here is my Charizard. You’re familiar with that Pokémon?”
“Well Charizard is not a fighter and will not help you battle. However, Charizard is large enough to carry you through the sky. You can use Charizard to fly back to the peak of the Volcano. It will save you the trouble of hiking all the way up there. Just make sure you wear a helmet,” Kiawe said.
“Thanks you Kiawe,” I said as I pocketed the special Pokéball.
“Yeah we really appreciate it,” Lillie said.
“No problem,” Kiawe said. “I hope to see everyone soon.”
We said our goodbyes again and then Hau, Lillie, and I walked back past Royal Avenue.