"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Words in italics indicate thoughts.
Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon Sun or Moon, Game Freak does.
Prologue: A League for Alola
The person being called in question turned her head to the grinning professor. With his contagiously enthusiastic voice, he had probably managed to catch the attention of everyone in their vicinity around Hau'oli Beach.
"Yes, Kukui?" She gave a small sigh upon seeing her husband with a familiar huge grin plastered onto his face. "Okay, I know that smirk. What's on your mind?"
"I just had this awesome idea." He turned back to the Rockruff trailing behind him and Burnet by about ten paces. "Wanna hear it, Rockruff?"
"Rockruff!" His loyal Rock-type canine wagged its tail in anticipation, genuinely interested in the topic.
"Kukui, I'm right beside you. Don't you ignore me!" she muttered.
"Surely you jest, Burnet?" Kukui guffawed, his cheeky eyes never losing that mischievous glint. "Whatever gave you the impression that you aren't included in my totally awesome conversation?"
"Oh, please. You were talking to Rockruff, Kukui! I didn't take a day off from work and travel all the way to Melemele just to see you talk to your Rockruff."
"Calm down!" Kukui heartily chuckled. "I'm only teasing, Burnet."
"Only teasing? Yeah, right. You were going to direct your statements to Rockruff and ignore me in the process," she snarked, rolling her eyes at Kukui, who tried to feign ignorance at the accusation.
"Come on, Rockruff," He crouched down towards the Puppy Pokémon and gave it a pat on its head. "Burnet doesn't believe that I was going to include her in my conversation. But you believe me, right?"
Rockruff gave a yip in response, running across the soft sand in Kukui's direction.
Or so he thought. He reached his hand down to stroke Rockruff, only for the Puppy Pokémon to run past him and into Burnet's waiting arms.
"Rockruff, you lil' traitor!" he cried out in dismay, giving a pout at the Pokémon's blatant betrayal. Burnet just ruffled Rockruff's fur in response, causing Kukui to whine at the sight. "This is because Burnet spoils you, right?" he mumbled to the cooing Rockruff.
"Ruff!" it barked in agreement.
"Don't be upset, Kukui." Her face turned serious. "And in all honesty, I want to hear about your crazy idea."
Kukui got back up and looked at his wife in the eye. "Have you ever thought about how less than five percent of all of the young aspiring trainers who take the Island Challenge manage to complete it?" he asked.
"Speak for yourself, you hypocrite," Burnet teasingly remarked, "Because you would be one of those included in the ninety-five percent who dropped the challenge."
"Yeah, well…" he started without thinking before he interpreted the meaning her words held. "Hey!"
"What?" she shrugged, playing innocent, "It's the truth, isn't it?"
He sighed. "Yeah, you're right. But that's not what I'm driving at. What I'm saying is that too many young'uns nowadays give up on the trial challenge. And I was thinking about why and I think I've figured it out. At first glance, the challenge sounds simple."
"Beat the seven Trial Captains and the four Island Kahunas of Alola. After which, you can ascend Mount Lanakila to take on the final trial — all four Kahunas in a row. Defeat them all and you will be the Island Champion." Burnet recited from memory. "Every kid from the Battle School knows that."
"Exactly, Burnet! Every kid knows about the Island Challenge! But what they don't know is that it's much harder than it sounds. So many dejected trainers quit the moment they suffer a crushing loss to a Trial Captain's Totem Pokémon or the Island Kahuna during the Grand Trial. But, recently I was thinking about it from the opposite perspective." Kukui grinned. "What makes a trainer attempting the Island Challenge want to overcome the trials after a loss?"
"Um…" Burnet twirled her hair around with her fingers, genuinely stumped by Kukui's question. "I don't actually know."
"I don't blame you for not knowing. Not a lot of people realize this, but besides Z-Crystals, you don't really get tangible rewards out of the Island Challenge. What you'll get if you manage to overcome the challenge is personal satisfaction and becoming the acting Island Champion until the next guy beats the Island challenge."
"Yup!" He gave a shrug. "I mean, we all know it's the journey, personal growth, and the bonds with your Pokémon that really matters, but the way I see things, the younger kids nowadays are much more hasty and impatient. Some of them don't really believe in all that kind of stuff, which is really a shame. Worse still, the moment they lose, they don't have the heart or the motivation to continue. Hey there, Burnet," he frowned at her disapproving face, "that's not an insult to them. I understand their choices. I mean, it would be fine and all if they didn't take their talents elsewhere. Locals who want to make it big all aim to go to the nearby Kanto Region for a more competitive environment, people who want a colder climate compared to our tropical one take a flight to Sinnoh, and some people who are sick of our traditional culture head of to the glamorous Kalos region." He held up five fingers, putting one down for every region mentioned. "Don't you see, Burnet? We're losing our local talent pool to these other regions!"
"But that's not necessarily bad right?"
"No, it isn't." Kukui shook his head. "I'm happy for them, but at the same time, we can't have this keep on happening. I'm saying we need to adapt. Let's mix together Alola's old tried-and-tested culture with some stuff the young ones would love. We need something to incentivize those Trial goers besides 'Congratulations, your bond between Pokémon has been proven by beating this challenge. That's all the reward you need,' else they're all gonna quit."
He stopped his walk across the beach, turning towards the ocean. Out in the horizon, the outline of Akala Island could be seen. "And I've got the perfect idea, too. An old friend of mine has recently moved to Alola. Her son, Sun, will be getting his first Pokémon in less than a month's time."
Burnet stayed silent, unsure of what this had anything to do with Kukui's big idea.
"I have high hopes for him. I've seen the boy sometimes when I walk past his home. He has that look in his eyes. The eyes of a determined youngster," he grinned. "Then I was thinking… what made this boy who grew up in Kanto behave so different from some of the locals around Melemele? My mind then wandered to my own journey in Kanto, and that was when I recalled that the Trainers in Kanto had a single, unified goal — to earn eight badges and challenge the Pokémon League at the Indigo Plateau. That was the motivation, their drive. They never quit because of that. They aimed and strived higher each time, all for the sole purpose of making it to the Indigo Plateau. And then, it struck me like one of Rockruff's Rock Throw,"—the Puppy Pokémon snickered at Kukui's verbal jab—"that the one thing Alola doesn't have that all the other regions do… is a Pokémon League!"
"So, you're saying…?" Burnet pressed him on.
"That we do the same thing for Alola. We give the trainers taking on the Island Challenge the motivation they need to complete it by emulating what all the other regions do!"
"You don't mean?!"
Kukui gave a firm nod. "That's right! The same incentive and reward trainers from all the other regions get upon completion — the chance to throw down in one final, internationally recognized gauntlet against the four most elite trainers in the region… the Pokémon League!"
"Are you joking?" Burnet openly gaped at the suggestion. "A League?"
Kukui's serious expression told her the answer. The professor's demeanor was rarely serious.
"Do… do you have any idea how tough this is going to be?" she asked, worry clear on her face.
"I do know. And I am prepared. It's finally time that someone patched up all the cracks and did something to spice up the Island Challenge. I'm going to formalize the final trial and turn it into a League Challenge the world can be proud of!" He pumped his fist with determination in his eyes. "Woo! It's time to take Alola by storm!"
"Oh, Kukui… do you really think it'll be that simple? You can't just expect Alola to just make a League and have it be an instant success amongst the locals." She gave a small laugh. "I think you better stick to your professor duties—"
"No," he interjected, holding up his head to stop his wife from continuing. This sudden gesture even surprised Rockruff, who stopped rolling along the sand to stare up at the professor.
Kukui took off his glasses and took a long, determined gaze into the horizon. "Watch me, Burnet. I'm going to make this happen," he declared, speaking out into the open sea as if he was making a solemn pledge. "Soon, I will assemble an elite group of trainers and finally, Alola will have a Pokémon League to call its own! Woo!"
Setting up a League's gonna be as easy as a fight with Rockruff, Kukui thought to himself.
Unfortunately for the Pokémon Professor, he thought wrong.
Hey there, OwlsCantRead here. I've always wanted to try a Pokémon story! It won't be too serious, in case you couldn't tell from the tone it'll be mostly humor. Timeline-wise, it'll be set over the course of SM.
The prime motivation for this fic was an unanswered question from when I played Pokémon Sun — how on earth did Kukui actually manage to set up the Alola Pokémon League?
I mean, the game glosses over it briefly. I say "briefly" because the game's catered to the player, so they went more for the shock factor of "a region where there isn't a League because it's being built" rather than focus on how it's being built. If you actually put some thought into it, you'll realize that it's no easy feat. Props to Kukui!