Hala gives her a Z-Ring.
Well, not immediately. First, Ilima leads her back to the city, apologizing for not warning her of the time a trial can take. “Sometimes they take even longer,” he laughs. She doesn’t.
Cadence crosses her arms, but thanks him anyways. He leads her back to the Pokemon Center and congratulates her again, and then tells her to eat something. The clock on the PC reads 4:32. She orders a panini.
She hands her pokeballs to the nurse, who verifies that they belong to her before depositing them in the healing machine. She still doesn’t know how those work, but she’d rather not think about science at the moment — the man at the cafe counter calls her name for her order — and quickly files those thoughts away.
She shoots a text first to Mia (mind meeting me for a match tomorrow? we need practice and you know it so don’t argue) and then to her mother (im alive) before retrieving her pokemon, tucking the capsules back into her pocket. On her way down the street, she eats her panini, and tries to remember how to get to Iki from Kuma Avenue.
Left from Kuma Avenue leads to Honu Drive, and down Honu drive is the bay that she can’t remember the name of, and opposite of the bay is the way home, and next to home is Route 1, and Route 1 leads to Iki. She nods a couple times before following the path, discarding the panini wrap in a trash can along the way.
In the weird gray period between evening and night that is the hour-and-a-half between 4 o’clock and 5:30, she thinks, the sky is prettiest. Clouds are fuzzy and moving sluggishly overhead, slightly grey over the blue-pink-orange-purple of almost-sunset, and the sounds of the city mesh with waves crashing against the beachside below. She slides her headphones off of her ears, turns off her music, and listens to the hustle and bustle for a while.
Her reverie is interrupted when a heavy hand lands on her shoulder. She freezes, bristling, and whoever it is says something about looking for her everywhere, but it’s the wrong name. “Man, Nana, where have you been? Jackson said he couldn’t find you anywhere—” and there’s that name from earlier, in the Verdant Cavern —”and I was like, she’s probably slacking in the city, and oh crap you’re not Nana—” Whoever’s talking is speaking Kantonian, which she understands well enough, but interspersed with some Alolan pidgin and Arceus knows she hasn’t had the time to learn Alolan yet.
The hand on her shoulder lets go and she turns sharply, trying to look mad. The sight she’s greeted with isn’t what she expected: small band of teens, outrageously dyed hair (though the jobs are pretty professional, she’ll give them that), outfits of dirty black and white and cheap leather jackets and the like. She steps back, scowling. “Would it kill you to keep your greasy hands off my sweater?” She asks, and oh-ho, they don’t understand Unovan, by the looks of it. The offender in question makes a face and turns to his goons, who shrug, and he turns back to her looking nervous.
“Look, kid,” oh, great, they probably think she’s twelve or something, “‘m sorry, didn’t mean to scare ya, we’ll go, see ya!” They make a hurried exit, tripping over each other in their haste.
She frowns and keeps walking, but makes a mental note to ask Hau if he’s had as many run-ins with Team Skull as she has. At the rate she’s going now, someone’s probably going to think she’s part of the gang. She tugs on the sleeve of her shirt.
She makes it to her home without further interruption, keeping her eyes up to look out for possible incidents-in-waiting despite there being none. She hesitates before Route 1, and after a moment of thought, turns and heads to her house instead. She steps in, careful about shutting the door quietly, and walks into the kitchen.
… Mom isn’t home.
Cadence gets a glass of water from the fridge, frown deepening. Why isn’t Mom home? She could be out shopping, but she doesn’t like leaving the house when it gets dark. Or she could be at a job interview, she did say she was going to do some of those over the weekend, but it’s only Thursday.
She looks at her message log. Nothing there; she sighs, finishes her water, and resolves to check the Xtransceiver when she gets back, leaving her backpack on the hook in her room. It’s probably nothing.
Back out the door and down Route 1, then. She strolls down the route til she sees the somewhat-familiar wood steps leading to Iki, running up them once she’s close. Hau is immediately within view, running around with his Rowlet and another pokemon — a Pichu, as far as she can tell — while Hala watches from the porch of the house Hau’s fooling around in front of.
She raises her hand in a wave as she jogs over, smiling. Hau looks up — the Pichu tumbles over his shoes — and his face splits into a grin. “Hey, Cade!” he calls, scooping the pokemon into his arms, “How was your trial?”
As she nears, she drops her arm back down to her side. “Went pretty good.” She fumbles around for a second before digging the Z-Crystal from her pocket, extending the crystal toward Hau between her thumb and forefinger. “Team crushed it.” She doesn’t bother to mention that Team Skull showed up not only during her trial but after it as well, but it doesn’t matter. So.
“Oh, awesome, so we both have a Normalium-Z!” Oh, that’s what it’s called. “But you don’t have a Z-Ring yet, right? Hey, Tutu!” He turns and calls out to Hala, and she raises an eyebrow.
Hau calls out something she doesn’t understand — sounds like Alolan words she doesn’t know, she should probably take some time to learn more — when Hala responds, and the kahuna gets off of the wicker chair and heads inside. Hau turns back to her, somehow smiling even brighter, and beckons at her. “Come on, Tutu’s gonna get you a Z-Ring, it’s so cool, you’ll see,” he says, and keeps talking, but Cadence isn’t really listening because she’s trying not to trip over his Pichu.
Hau leads her through the house, down a hall with wide windows that remind her of the dumb old church in Icirrus City, except without the little dragon engravings along the window frame and the weird red sill covers. They come to an office with a warm green carpet, and she stands awkwardly in front of the kahuna, who retrieves a small something-or-other from a shelf behind the office desk and turns to her.
“Here you are, clever girl,” he says, and she blinks, “this is your Z-Ring. I have spent many a night carving these sacred rings from sparkling stones found throughout the islands, thought to be blessed by the Tapu, and I present this one to you now,” he extends the Z-Ring out to her, and she spares a thought that it looks so tiny in his big hand, and then she tries not to laugh, “to commemorate the completion of your first Island Trial.”
Hau smiles at her, excitement clear on his face as she lets Hala pass the ring into her palm. It’s white, speckled with shiny greyish and black flecks. There are grooves painstakingly carved into it, designs that clearly took a lot of work, and she nods a thank-you to the kahuna once she’s done examining it. She loops it around her ankle, because it’s much too big to fit comfortably on her wrist, and slips the Normalium-Z into the notch carved into the front of the ring with a smile.
When she walks back from Iki toward home, she spots an outcropping of rock overlooking the bay. There’s grass there, tall enough that it brushes at her calves and pricks her ankles, with little wildflowers sprinkled throughout. She moves careful enough not to disturb the flowers, tries not to crush the plants beneath the soles of her flip-flops, and stares out at the receding final dregs of light, the black-purple-orange of the night sky settling in. Her phone says it’s about twenty til seven, and she sits down in the grass and watches the waves below.
Something soft brushes by her hand, and she looks to the side to see a curious Pikipek staring at her headphones — oh, the decorative stuff must be reflecting the moonlight, she gathers — and she slowly puts out her hand.
The little bird trills at her and pokes her hand with its beak, and she laughs. “Hi there,” she says, speaking only loud enough to not let her voice mesh into the sound of the waves crashing against rock below, “would you like to come with me?”
It trills again, and she feels around in her pocket for an empty ball, but comes up empty. Darn. “Feel like walking with me?” she asks, moving to stand, “I need to ask Hau for a pokeball.”
When she makes it home, Mom still isn’t there, but Meowth finds her new friend all the same.