Piper, an ambitious young trainer, leaves her hometown against her will in search of summer paradise. But not everything in Alola is as it seems—certainly not the strange boy from outer space, or her best friend's shady new job at the Aether Foundation... Welcome to Eclipsed Paradise, my baby Seriously, I've been working on it for years now. Although these chapters are fairly fresh, Eclipsed Paradise emerged after I decided to rewrite one of my past works. Eclipsed Paradise is a slow-burn, but primarily an adventure-story. So without further ado... Spoiler: Chapter 1 Lush green grass and somber stone totems flanked the winding path, which was embedded with wooden steps to make the journey to the ruins less arduous. Still, Piper found it hard to believe that the island kahuna would be waiting for her at the summit. In the pictures she'd seen, he was a pot-bellied old man, and she doubted that someone as old as him would be willing to hike Mahalo trail. "Come on, Whimsy." Piper nudged her cottonee and began climb the steps with a steely determination. Though her scarce knowledge of Alola escaped her, she trusted the professor's judgement: he had told her that occasionally, the island kahuna would walk to the ruins to pray. But instead of Kahuna Hala, the man she sought for guidance, Piper saw a young blond girl shivering in the wind, as if she were going to topple over like a pile of withering flowers. Definitely not a fat old man. Without warning, the blonde girl stumbled and her moss green eyes met Piper's own. "H-help," the stranger stammered, tightening her grip on her pokéball shaped bag. "Save Nebby!" "Nebby?" The girl pointed to a wooden bridge swaying precariously above a river carved into the depths of a ravine. In the center of that bridge, a cloud-shaped pokémon—supposedly hers—huddled close to the ground, shielding itself from a trio of spearow. "I'm not a trainer," the blonde girl explained hurriedly, her pale sundress billowing in the wind. "I can't…I can't battle, but I can heal your pokémon for you, so…" Her hands rummaged through her bag for a potion, but Piper shook her head. "Save those for later. I'll be right back." I shouldn't be doing this. A dulling numbness had settled in her brain, undoubtedly a symptom of jetlag. Her first day, and she had already run into trouble. But a part of Piper jumped at the opportunity to take on a new opponent—and crush them to a pulp. "Ready, Whimsy?" Piper glanced at her cottonee for some assurance. The cotton puff pokémon nodded as best she could—for someone whose face was practically her entire body—and swooped over the bridge with a fierce glare of determination in her eyes. Only one spearow was quick to notice the newcomer, the others pecking away at "Nebby." It screeched irritably, rushing towards Whimsy with extended talons. Reflexively, Whimsy shot a cloud of yellow dust onto the spearow's wings and watched it twitch in the air, before falling to the ground in a limp pile of feathers. Piper felt a sense of pride in knowing her cottonee could think for herself while also taking orders. It made battling a great deal easier. The second spearow was a flurry of wings and talons, slicing through the air until it struck Whimsy's cushioned body. Blood dripped from white cotton, but the grass type attempted a draining attack on the bird pokémon nonetheless. In the midst of the battle, Piper saw an opening. She dashed towards Nebby, a galaxy-hued blob with slightly smaller blobs for arms. It trembled gently with the bridge, like jelly on a moving plate. Piper struggled to scoop the foreign pokémon into her arms. By then, the spearow had become uninterested in Whimsy, choosing Piper as their next target. She felt a sharp, burrowing pain as they pecked at her leg, letting out frustrated caws when the girl didn't budge. Piper could feel tears pricking at her eyes, more out of pain than fear, but she huddled over Nebby like a sturdy shield, refusing to give in. "Whimsy, use razor leaf!" A gust of wind grazed Piper's back as she heard the sound of sliced air, but the pains in her leg hardly stopped. If only I had a pokémon that wasn't a grass type… Curling her fists tighter, Piper glanced down at the squishy blob beneath her. But… maybe I do. "Listen, little guy, do you know any moves?" Nebby spun, a soft glow radiating from its core. The energy pulsed, brightening then fading, intermittent. The blue light enveloped both it and Piper until finally, in one final burst, the energy threw back the spearow, smashed the planks of the bridge, and the pair plummeted toward the rushing waters below. Piper closed her eyes, and clutched Nebby tighter. But gradually, she opened her eyes as she realized they were no longer falling. They were soaring. Something majestic, something magnificent swooped in from the skies, plucked them from the air and set them beside the blonde girl with agile ease. The beast's body was ebony-hued, and a pair of shell-like wings bore a geometric, golden and white pattern. Its movements hummed with electricity, and with one regal cry, it sprung into the air and towards the sun, disappearing like a flash of lightning. Piper tried to say thanks, but the words barely left her mouth. Her head spinning, she handed Nebby back to the blonde girl, still trying to comprehend what had just happened. Whimsy floated over from the ravine, shaking droplets of blood from her stained fluff. "You tried using your power again, didn't you?" The blonde girl rushed to embrace her pokémon, squeezing it close to her rail-thin body. "You remember what happened last time you used your powers. You couldn't move for ages after that. I don't want to see you like that again…" A thin gloss shone on her vivid green eyes. "I'm so sorry." Piper blurted out the words, searching for better ones to comfort the stranger. "I-I asked Nebby if it knew any moves, and then the bridge exploded—" "It's not your fault." The girl sniffled as she wiped a tear from her pale cheek. "Gosh, I'm so sorry…you were both only trying to help. And I can hardly do anything in return…" Unfortunately, the girl was probably right. She came off as a rookie trainer—but then again, Piper had seen ten-year olds more experienced than her. The only thing that set the stranger apart was her incredibly strong, uncontrollable little Nebby. No, that couldn't be true. Even if the girl wasn't particularly strong, hopefully she was smart—and in this foreign land, Piper was willing to bet this stranger knew more about the native pokémon and people than she did. "What's your name?" she asked, to distract the blonde girl from crying. "Me? Oh—I'm Lillie. I-It's nice to meet you…" "Piper." Piper's head spun, whirling with a storm of thoughts. In her short three years of training, she had never experienced anything like today. "Do you know anything about the pokémon that saved us?" "Every islander knows…the island deity who protects us on Melemele is named Tapu Koko." Lillie pointed to a patch of grass where the beast previously landed, her tears now dry. "See that there?" She plucked a glittering, raw stone from the grass, rolling it over in her hand. "The deity must have left this behind for you. You should take it... um, if you want." Piper accepted the stone, which was surprisingly heavy for something barely the size of her palm. Whimsy floated over her shoulder to get a better look. "What do I do with it?" "To be honest with you, I'm not quite sure. But the kahuna knows about all sorts of things related to the island deity." The blonde girl smiled shyly, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. "I-I could introduce you to him, if you'd like. Oh! But only on one condition!" Lillie's eyes widened suddenly, an absent sense of worry swimming in them. "What?" "Y-You can't tell anyone about Nebby!" "Okay…" The pokémon in question slept serenely in Lillie's arms, rising and falling in between breaths. Piper had never seen anything like it in Unova, so she had assumed it was just a regular pokémon. But taking a second glance, Nebby seemed rarer than before. Where had Lillie caught it? "Please! If anyone finds out I have Nebby, they might take it away!" "Okay." Piper nodded her head firmly. The worry dissipated from Lillie's face, gradually morphing into relief. "I won't tell anyone—promise." Lillie clutched Nebby tighter, holding it close to her stomach. "Then—let's go see the kahuna!" ********************************************************************* For whatever reason, Lillie treated Nebby as a matter of utmost secrecy—when Piper asked questions about it, Lillie didn't seem to want to give answers. Piper understood, in a way, she knew she wouldn't want to expose her own secrets so suddenly to a stranger. So after a couple attempts at using the foreign pokémon as a conversation starter, Piper stuck to admiring the scenery. The path back to Iki Town twisted and curved, sometimes diverging so one path would stray to the densely wooded forest. Wild pokémon scampered in the grass, although Piper could only name a few of them. Yungoos, which burrowed under bushes in search of berries. Pikipek, which rested in the trees, building their nests. "What's that?" Piper pointed to a pokémon she'd once seen in the classroom, but forgot immediately as soon as she had left school. "That's a grubbin," Lillie explained. "They're common to Alola, much like how caterpie are common to Kanto. Well, I suppose we have caterpie too, so that wasn't much of a comparison." "No, I understand!" Piper's spirits lifted as she found a topic Lillie could speak freely on. "Back home, I think the most common bug pokémon is probably sewaddle or venipede." "So you're from Unova? It would explain a lot." Piper tilted her head in confusion, until Lillie gestured at her clothes. Piper still had on her heavy, thick sweatshirt bearing a zebstrika silhouette (now torn from the spearow's curved talons). Her black leggings nearly suffocated her legs in the heat. Her long socks peeked just above her sneakers, drenched in sweat. "I guess I forgot to dress for the weather," Piper admitted. Lillie giggled (though not unkindly), covering her mouth with one delicate hand as the other held sleeping Nebby. "If you need new clothes, the professor and I would be willing to lend a hand," Lillie offered. "You know the professor?" Both Piper and Whimsy turned to Lillie, raising one eyebrow. "Why, yes—come to think of it, he told me we'd be getting new neighbors from a different region. I suppose he meant you." "Speaking of…" Piper nodded to the bottom of the trail, where a certain professor waited. She cringed inwardly: Professor Kukui hadn't once worn safe lab attire since the day she met him (though to be fair, she had only briefly met with him yesterday). Sure, a baseball cap sporting a cheerful little rainbow kept his slicked back hair out the way, but the professor didn't seem to own shirts. Only a tattered lab coat covered his torso, worn from plenty of battles. "Pipes! You already met Lillie, huh? She's my assistant, yeah!" The professor waved, beckoning for them to approach raised wooden battlefield he sat atop. "Professor!" Piper rushed to greet him, Whimsy hovering by her side. Although she had only known the professor a short while, Piper felt like they had been friends for a couple months. Perhaps it was the way he treated her and her mother with utmost kindness, insisting to take care of renewing Piper's training license as soon as they had landed on the island. Or maybe it was the warmth Professor Kukui seemed to radiate through his blinding smile and cheerful demeanor. Whatever it was, Piper was glad they were off to a good start considering she would be his assistant for the next couple of months. "Your first day, and you're already running into trouble?" Kukui let out an exhausted sigh through his smile. "Gee, how could you tell?" Suddenly, a flash of worry passed over the professor's eyes as he turned to Lillie. "Lillie, I thought you were with the kahuna! What happened?" "The kahuna? Um…he said he had something to attend to and left town, so Nebby and I went for a quick walk…" Lillie shuffled her feet, rapidly gaining interest in the ground. "Lil, did you try to go to the ruins?" Lillie met Kukui's inquiry with an abashed nod. "You know it's dangerous to go alone without a pokémon that can fight. Nebby's no replacement for a proper starter." "That's right!" A broad, deep voice boomed as Lillie shook her head, causing Whimsy to jolt in the air. "My boy'll tell you, nothing like a pokémon raised in Iki Town to start your journey off right!" "Hala…" A look of misery contorted Lillie's face. "I can't go on a journey like this…" Politeness took over Lillie's dread, her expression reverting back to a sweet, calming smile. "Piper! This is Kahuna Hala. He's the kahuna of Melemele Island, and Kukui's old teacher. Kahuna Hala, this is Piper. She's from Unova!" "So I've heard." The kahuna gripped Piper's hand in a firm, strong handshake. It wasn't an uncomfortably overpowering handshake, but rather a welcoming one, like a warm hug. "You're a fine trainer, hm?" "I like to think so." Whimsy nodded by Piper's side, puffing out her cotton fluff body. "I've been training with Whimsy for three years now." "You should battle my grandson." Hala rubbed his white, short beard thoughtfully. "He's about your age…but he hasn't trained nearly as long. A battle could be a good learning experience for him, though." "We can arrange that," Kukui promised. "But hey, Pipes had something to tell us about her day! What happened with you and Lillie at the ruins?" "Oh Arceus, I don't even know where to begin—so like, I was looking for the island kahuna, because you told me he would be at the ruins, which he was not, but instead, I found Lillie!" "Well, Nebby and I were also looking for the ruins, when it got attacked by some spearow on the plank bridge." Lillie joined in on the storytelling with equal verve, her emerald eyes shining bright. "Piper here helped protect it! But the bridge collapsed, and I thought both of them might fall to the bottom of the ravine… and that was when Tapu Koko swooped in to save them!" Shyly, she clasped her hands in front of her, as though recalling the story expended too much of her courage. "That's how we got saved by a god!" Piper exclaimed. Kukui arched a brow, doubting. The kahuna however, folded his burly arms and nodded. "Although it is said to protect us, our guardian deity is a rather fickle creature. Yet our guardian was moved to save you." Hala's formidable grey eyes locked with Piper's, as though he hoped to see some deeper part of her soul. "That rock in your palm—may I?" Piper handed him the ore from the ruins, apparently dropped by Tapu Koko. Professor Kukui shook his head in awe. "You two are lucky the island deity showed up!" "Well, the bridge didn't fare as well as we did…" she mumbled, clutching her duffel bag tighter. "Ah, Mahalo Bridge?" Hala scrutinized the stone in his hand as he talked, deep in thought. "I'm sure we can fix it in a couple months' time. In the meantime, you two probably won't visit Iki Town—not with this trainer's passport!" Swiftly, the kahuna slipped the stone into his pocket, swapping it out for a small booklet stamped with traditional Alolan designs. "It is Kukui's wish that you children travel all of Alola. We figured this would come in handy." Piper flipped through the multitudes of empty pages in her new passport. It seemed odd to her, that Kukui would present her with a passport so soon. She hadn't even settled in to her home just yet! "Are you sure I should be travelling anywhere when I've barely stayed a day in Alola?" "Trust me Piper, this little town is only the start of your adventures." "You'd better let the girl rest. We have a big day planned tomorrow," the kahuna reminded him. "We do?" Lillie glanced at the stout old man, then back to the professor. "Yeah, of course we do!" Kukui gave her a huge thumbs-up, prompting an eyeroll from both Piper and Whimsy. The professor could be incredibly childish at times. "I'll get you home, Piper. It's getting kinda dark." Sure enough, orange wisps of cloud hovered over the darkened horizon, hanging steadily like toys on a mobile. ***************************************************************************** As Piper and the professor turned their back on Iki Town, the sun sank lower and the wind rustled the trees, casting silken shadows on the soft grass. Dusk arrived in Alola, and all was quiet. Piper crashed onto her bed. Her intention had been to sleep, but staring face down in a mass of fitted sheets, she wondered if she really had to move. This stemmed partially from fatigue, but also from laziness. In the end, she somehow found the willpower to crawl under her covers, wriggling until she could see the blank, white ceiling. Whimsy frowned disapprovingly in the corner of her eye. "Hey, no more mean looks or you can sleep downstairs," Piper threatened, although they both knew Piper didn't have the heart or the energy to banish Whimsy to the confines of the living room. It was only seven thirty, but jet-lag had gotten the best of her. Her mom had left the house to buy a couple necessities, seeing as the house was entirely empty except for the suitcases they had packed. Hopefully the boxes would arrive next week. Such a pain. Piper tossed herself on her side, snuggling into Whimsy who had planted herself on the pillow. It hadn't been Piper's idea to move, no, that was her mom's wish. And yet her parents claimed they moved because of Piper. "That's ridiculous," Piper had said months ago, furiously pacing the floors of their home in Driftveil City. "We don't need to move! My life is perfect!" "We're afraid that's what you've convinced yourself of." Her mom had spoken in a kind but wary tone, seated at the kitchen table. Her forehead had wrinkled, maybe from thinking, or from stress. Or both. "Your mom is right, Piper. You've spent all year working tirelessly, unhealthily—you won't listen to anything we say." Beside her sat Piper's dad, a stern man with an unwavering voice. "That's not true—" "It is true. You take school much too seriously nowadays. We understand your desire to be the best battler, but not at the cost of your health." Her dad stared at her with rigid grey eyes, as though challenging her to disagree with him. Piper scoffed. His stubborn nature head-butted with her own, but Piper had learned the hard way not to dispute him directly. "Hon, it's just not healthy to obsess over perfection," her mom said. "It can be fun to battle, but there are right and wrong ways to win. Winning at the expense of your wellbeing…" "Is still winning," Piper argued. "You can't deny that I get results for all my hard work. How will I ever become a champion if I don't push myself?" "That's enough. Your dad and I have conceded that it's time for a change of pace. Alola seems to be the perfect place for us to start a new life—and for you to find some balance." "But what about Dad's job?" "We've already spoken on this matter," her dad admitted. "We decided I'd be staying here to continue my work, while you and Mom go to Alola to start her new job. I'll visit, of course-" "You mean you get to stay in Unova but I don't?" Piper's words were rendered useless as her mom rose from the table to signal the discussion was over, leaving Piper to let her blood boil in silence. There was no convincing her parents not to move. So Piper had stormed to her room, prickly and unapproachable, to call her best friend, the only one who would understand her situation. "Piper?" The number she dialed picked up immediately, a familiar voice on the other end. "What's the matter? You never call." "It's my parents." Piper's voice crackled with rage. She didn't even bother to contain it anymore. "First, they tried to pull me out of Striaton Academy, and now they want to move across the ocean." "Arceus, that sentence has a lot to unpack. Why? Where?" "I don't know! They said we're moving to Alola—" "But isn't that a good thing?" Sol's voice brimmed with joy, and Piper momentarily felt guilty about her rage. "We'll live so much closer to each other! I haven't seen you since I left Striaton Academy!" "I…I guess…but what about completing my preparation at school? What about challenging the League and all my hard work?" "Oh, Piper. We have a very similar challenge here in Alola—albeit some minor differences, but the concept is the same. It's called the island challenge." Sol's voice took on a quieter, soothing tone as he continued, "Listen, I know it's rough. You know I had to move so many times just for Mother's work. But you'll be stellar here, okay?" "Stellar." Piper had laughed dryly at the time, wishing it was all a dream. Everything she grew up with would be gone—but at least she had Sol behind her, supporting her wherever she went. Now, Piper wondered if she had been wrong, to be so skeptical. Sure, things were different. People waved their arms in odd semi-circles, saying alola as she passed them by. The sun burned much hotter than it ever had in Driftveil, her hometown, but there was something relaxing about retreating from the sun's rays into the shallows of the nearby beach. The professor seemed to like her well enough, and had accepted her as his new assistant almost immediately, even if he hadn't mentioned any of her credentials back at Striaton Academy. That puzzled Piper, but she went along with it. "What do you think, Whimsy?" Piper clutched the edge of her pillow, anxiously awaiting her pokémon's reply. Whimsy chirped serenely, snuggling closer to Piper as her eyelids drooped sleepily. If sleep was contagious, Piper could feel it transferring in the form of a struggling yawn. Exhausted, she slipped deeper under her bedsheets, slowly losing sight of the ceiling as darkness settled.